This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Too Many Projects to Decide

In the novel Bingo, Rita Mae Brown has one of her characters say, "The happiest day of my life was when Frances moved in, and the second happiest day of my life was when Frances moved out." Knitting is something like that. My supreme joy is casting on, a new project, ripe with possibilities! My second joy is casting off, the ripeness fulfilled, reaping what has been sown. And in between is all that knitting.

Don't get me wrong. I love knitting. The physical act of creating knit and purl stitches is something I truly enjoy, or I wouldn't do it so much. But sometimes the interminable knitting can be a bit much.

So I have kind of overwhelmed myself. I've got five projects on the needles, recently bought or stash-picked yarn to make four more projects, and the kind of helpless feeling that I don't know what to do next, which project to work on right now.

This is the first project I cast on. It's a kit for a striped scarf I picked up on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl back in September. I offered to make it for a friend, and he said it would be better as a cowl. So this completely knit-in-garter scarf has become knit one row of 206 stitches, and purl one row of 206 stitches. It's a bit wonky where I change yarns, but I'm determined not to be too concerned about that.

And I promised my friend Dolci a cowl, and she likes purple. I cannot, for the life of me, find the two skeins of Lolita Madeline Tosh I got when Windsor Button closed (I think I bought out their entire stock of Tosh, except for two skeins, the colour of which I did not like). So I cast on some Malabrigo Worsted to make a honey cowl, which I did not photograph, because I've only done the first four rows of stockinette and I think the first row of the slip stitch pattern. Right now it doesn't look like much of anything at all, and I'm not sure it's the right yarn for the job.

I've also cast on this cowl, in a dark purple Baah La Jolla yarn. 
I've not done much more than the six rows of ribbing and the first row of the lace pattern, but what is really cool about this cowl is that every knit stitch is ktbl, a technique I didn't know how to do, and learned just to make this project. Now knitting through the back loop isn't all that hard to do, but when you've never done it before, it's a bit counter intuitive. Now that I've done six rows of over 200 stitches with ktbl I'm an old pro at it. This is the first of my Yuletide knits that I've cast on this year for Christmas 2015 (cast on 2/9/15). I want an early start.

When I went to knitting on Friday night, there was an offer for $10 in store bucks (sort of like a credit, I assume), if you could make a scarf for the homeless by the 28th. I spent $30 on superwash Cascade 128 and for needles (hey, we're talking ten bucks' credit here!) and this morning attached the second ball of yarn, so I'm just past half way done.
This year's winter has been brutal, with over six feet of snow, temperatures in the single digits (if not below 0). So this will be a very small contribution to the well being of our city this year. I've been thinking about this a lot, and I have a lot of leftover yarn that is just sitting in my bins. I reckon I could take some of the superwash and make hats for the homeless. I think this will be a project for this year. 

For upcoming projects, I have these that I can show off.
For Brandon's mom, a honey cowl in Malabrigo, colourway Volcan. She likes brown, and this stuff is just lovely.

For William's eyeball scarf, I chose this Malabrigo Rasta, colourway Porrinho.
This weekend I counted out 75 yards and tied a wee slip knot there, since the original Vitreous Humour is that length. I'm still not sure how to attach the eyeballs. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
A plate of eyeballs.

For myself, a cowl in this, also Rasta.
I need to wash the Mecha cowl I normally wear, and need something to use while it is drying. This knit on US 17 needles. I  need to sit down and do it, because I don't think it will take all that long.

I'm also contemplating a sweater, in Donegal Tweed, a cobalt blue. But I need to think about where I'd fit it in, because I still have Brad's sweater to finish.

I think I've bitten off a bit more than I can chew. I need to learn to pace myself, and not cast on so many things at the same time. Somehow the adage applies here: You cannot have a baby in one month by impregnating nine women.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Eyes Have It

A few nights ago I began to add the irises to the eyeballs I made when I was in Pennsylvania for the big reunion. There are several tiresome reasons why I waited so long, but that night I cleared the kitchen table, placed a plastic rubbish bag over it, and began needle felting. I had originally made 15 eyeballs, and planned to make at least five more. That idea has gone by the wayside. Needle felting sucks, and William, the recipient of this home-made Vitreous Humor scarf had damn well better appreciate it.

I sat down, curious why there would be seven felting needles in a set. I learned quickly, like while I was felting the third eyeball, that the needles break. Easily. When I finally finished felting the next morning, I had only three needles left, and one of them was no longer as sharp as it had been, so really, I have two left. I should also mention that felting needles are very sharp, and along the shaft towards the point, there are small raised bumps, to help with the felting.

I got 12 of the eyes done the first night, when I began stabbing myself. After two stabs in a row, I called it a night and decided to pick it up in the morning. I am a firm believer in the adage, “Tired is stupid,” and I was making mistakes which hurt. Nextr morning I got up, and started to felt the remaining eyeballs. It was at this point that I realised that the needle I'd been using had gotten dull, because the colour wasn't adhering to the eye, and it wasn't felting. I put the needle aside, got a new one out of the pack, and began to felt the little bastard with a vengeance. The colour finally began adhering, and then the needle broke. Undaunted, I pulled a new needle out of the pack, and attacked it anew. It finally worked, and I was able to finish the last three balls.

I was going to try and felt some threads of red alpaca onto the eyeballs, to look like veins, but I think I'm going to forego that. Felting a large patch was hard enough, felting some threads will be nigh on impossible. IF, and it's a big if, I ever do this again, I'll mix a couple of threads of red onto the white roving while I'm making the eyeballs and see if that works. I reckon I could make the basic eye, and before I'm done, add a couple of red threads, and finish felting it. Might work. I'm not sure if I'll ever do this again, though.

I used a Malabrigo merino roving for the irises, in the colourway Azules. This means it's mostly purple and a bit of blue. I tried to make some blue eyes and some purple ones. I have some brown roving somewhere, and should have used that, too, but maybe if I make five more balls, I'll use it on those. I sure hope William has a thing for Liz Taylor, because we've got plenty of violet eyes!

For the pupils, I had thought I'd use some black yarn and needle felt those to the irises. I'm done. Seriously. I'll go to a hobby shop and see if I can get some pretty black beads, flat, and some superglue, and glue those suckers to the eyes. My right thumb is sore from holding the grooved needles' handles, and my left thumb is sore from getting stabbed; sometimes the needle didn't go into the skin, it just rubbed against it, which hurt in its own way. I have a funny feeling I will never be making this scarf again after this first attempt. And if I do, I'm going to charge a hefty fee.

This is my plate of eyeballs. They are drying, and when they're done, I'll attach the pupils. When they are dry, I'll attach them to some pink Malabrigo Rasta.

Since Vitreous Humor is already taken, I think I'll call my eyeball yarn The Eyes Have It, or maybe, I'm Watching You.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Knitting through the Snowstorms

It is snowing in Boston.
For the third time in two weeks, we are experiencing a storm that will drop a foot or more of snow on top of us. The snow mounds are sometimes 8 feet high. Slogging through the unshoveled or partially shoveled sidewalks has been an adventure. I have decided to brave the snow and wind today to get out to a cafe where I had some internet access so I could finally update this blog-thingy of mine.

Because of all the snow, I've had a few days off. Room cleaning can only take one so far. Then I was assaulted by a nasty cold. Not to put too fine a point on it, if it weren't for NyQuil, I'd've been a running river of snot. But I've gotten a lot of knitting done, and bound off a couple of projects this weekend and today. Now I'm casting about for something to cast on. More on that later.

This is Troy's cowl. Malabrigo Mecha, in colourways Hojas and Tobacos.

The last stripe of green is a bit wonky, since I was alternating two different dye lots of the Hojas. I'd bought two of one dye lot and a third of another dye lot, but the second of dye lot A really didn't match the first skein of dye lot A, so I mixed the last of the skein with dye lot B. There's a bit more blue in the stripe than in the original, but I think it works. But I really should rip it out and do it again because I did a piss-poor job of it.

This is a New Bittersweet Cowl, made of Frog Tree Yarn's Llambrosia. This is delightfully soft yarn to work with. I need to block it, but when it's finally done I'll send it off to Margaret, the mother of my friend Carlene.

On the left, is the entire thing. I think blocking will help even it out. Not sure if I'm going to soak it or if I'm just going to spritz it and let it hang. I'll probably soak it.

To the right is a detail of the pattern. I really like the way it looks like flames.

And finally, the first New Bittersweet Cowl I made. MadTosh, Vintage, Betty Draper's Blues. I followed the pattern religiously, and it should be able to wrap twice around the wearer's neck, but this is rather too short for that.

Above is the first iteration of the New Bittersweet Cowl.
To the right is a detail of the pattern.
I may redo this and make it larger, since the person I want to give it to would probably like to double it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Keeping updated

Hello, Blog! Remember me? I haven't forgotten you, I've just been unable to write anything coherent for the last 10 days, though Dog knows I've tried! Since my last update, I've done some major housecleaning. Gods below! I have more yarn than I thought! Every time I moved a book or a piece of clothing, I found more yarn. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to buy a new bin to hold it all. Fie, and for shame. On the other hand, I've been getting all that open range yarn into ziploc® baggies which I had so cleverly purchased after our big snowstorm last week. From my mouth to Dog's ear, I am on a yarn diet! No, really! Seriously! (Of course, the NH Sheep and Wool Festival and Rhinebeck don't count!)

I have two current projects on the needles right now, a New Bittersweet Cowl in Llambrosia by Frog Tree Yarns, and a cowl of my own design in Malabrigo Mecha. The first is for the mother of a good friend, though neither knows I'm making it. The second is for my tattoo artist, to whom I promised a cowl last year. I should have it done for him by the time I see him later this month. He wants me to make him a sweater, and while I am sworn never to knit a sweater for another person again (with a few exceptions), I said I'd barter with him, a sweater for some ink, but sweaters are expensive, and he'd be doing a lot of work on me for it. I'll check in with him this month if he still wants me to knit him one, and we'll go from there.

I have made no progress on the eyeballs, beyond making little balls of white merino. I have some beautifully coloured roving to do the irises, but don't have any work space for this project. I do most of my knitting at home in my room, and felting is a messy, damp business. Since my roommate keeps about seven piles of mail on the kitchen table, it is rendered useless for this project. I shall persevere.

Yesterday while on the subway, I saw a bearded man pull some knitting out of his bag. I shouldn't have been surprised, since I could tell his touque was hand knitted. He knit a row or so, and as he was waiting for the train to stop, I asked him what yarn he was using. It was from Beaverslide, and was redolent with lanolin. We chatted about knitting ("You're not the only knitter on this train!") and as soon as I had the chance, I looked up the yarn he was using. The website for Beaverslide is fun, and I might have to break my rule about no new yarn for a while. I enjoy chance encounters like this, because I always learn something, and have found a new yarn site! Going through their yarn selections, the only thought going through my brain is, "I wanna make a sweater!!!"

We're supposed to get another snow storm tonight and tomorrow. I have plenty of yarn and projects to keep me going for the day. Oh, yeah. And food. I have some of that, too.