Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crochet Compulsion

I don't have to seriously ask if anyone else is addicted to knitting or looming or crochet, because all I have to do is take one quarter of a lap around the Ravelry forums to know I'm not alone. (Heck, the vast majority of Ravelers spend way more than I do... so far.)
But I have to confess to feeling particularly addicted this week. I cast on for a bath mitt of my own improvised design on Tuesday. The only reason I'm not done with it - and I'm a brand spankin' new crocheter - is because I have to go to a lecture tonight and I want to have it to take with me. I got a few rows done at a club meeting last night and a few more earlier yesterday while listening to a podcast on my lunch break. I've resisted touching it today, which I'm impressed about given that today has been blech.
Anyone who has been reading this blog regularly - and I don't think there's more than maybe one or two of you ;) - knows that I'm taking a leave of absence from my job. Well, that doesn't start until the end of the school year, and I am not patient about the wait. This week, the grading begins, and I think I'm going to have to develop some sort of grade-a-paper-crochet/knit-a-row rule to make sure I get my work done. It's soooo much more interesting for my brain to be thinking about the sweater idea I recently had or the miniature Calla Lily bag I'm planning to test my design modifications before I make a big one. And that's not even when you take into account the time I spend thinking about my writing.
My husband's going out of town next week, and while I hate that in itself, I'm excited about the opportunity to work on editing my novel. I think I've got maybe 30 more days of work on it, but there's no way I'll be able to get more than three days in a normal week. I'm hoping I can get it agent-ready by April or May, and I'm double hoping that doesn't turn out to be a pipe dream.
On one last knitting note, I'm going to try to either take FO pictures this weekend (if the weather clears up) or buy some supplies I need to take better indoor pictures so I can show more FOs, maybe including better Calla Lily shots. If anyone has tips, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Who likes paying bills?

My husband and I tackled a daunting but necessary project this weekend. We paid bills. This would not be such an inordinately big deal if we hadn't been putting it off for four months. Don't get me wrong - we've been making nearly (all) of the payments, but we haven't balanced any of the accounts or really recorded any transactions except the payments themselves since the end of September.
Anyone who read this blog early on knows that last fall was the proverbial straw on this camel's back at work, causing me to plan a leave of absence from teaching next year. Knitting, writing, and my husband are the only things that kept me sane (with my cats and dog falling into the category of things that made me laugh when nothing else would). Well, we've been saying for a little over a month that we'd get caught up on bills at the end of the year.
Close enough?
The good news is we're not going bankrupt.
We also worked on organizing our books this weekend - we're both compulsive book buyers - and the sheer number of unread books both helped me justify taking most of yesterday off to read but also will probably help keep our book buying under control.
And now to knit a little before bed. Bliss. I'm working on the bamboo wrap. This is my third pattern adaptation, but a much simpler one than the Unoriginal Hat or Calla Lily Bag. It's based on the Butterfly Moebius (Ravelry) in the Big Book of Yarn.
Have a great week!
PS Pictures of my first crochet project as soon as I can arrange the photos.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

FO: Calla Lily Bag


The bag was assembled in a very rectangular way and completely seamed together at this stage. It was looking big, but not so big that I thought it wouldn't felt down to a good size. The proportions weren't quite looking right for the final product, but I'd had to do a couple of fixes already, and without knowing how it would felt, I took the chance.

I washed it in my environmentally-friendly Kenmore for about half an hour, maybe a little longer, and it felted up well. In retrospect, I might have been more patient and let it felt for one more cycle.

And After:

Apologies for the slightly blurry picture. We were trying desperately to catch the last of the light today. I'd love to set up a place inside for good pictures... but I digress.
I lined the bag handle with a strip of pale blue ribbon (see below) to prevent it from stretching out. Note how the outer walls are higher than the inner - this isn't part of the pattern, nor was it intentional on my part. I didn't notice the inner wall was shorter than the outer until I had two done, and until I finished the third, I thought I might be imagining it. I made the fourth (the other outer wall) ten rows longer to try to make them match up better, and felted you can't tell at all.

I already have ideas for how I will do the next one differently - shorter, slightly tapered corners, garter stitch maybe - but I do think this one turned out well. It holds my basics plus some, and I really like the color.

The Calla Lily Bag, adapted for the loom/rake, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Contest and the Calla Lily Bag

First, a plug for a contest on a blog I frequently read - Shut Up I'm Counting - I think contests like these are fun community builders, and I hope some day to have enough readers to do something like that.
Second, a lament. Don't worry, the bag is fine, I think it may even be awesome (one should throw up horns at that moment to get the complete effect), but the weather here has been miserable here, ruining all my chances for pictures. Today it clears, but only because I had to work and didn't get to go outside while it was sunny. Alas, here it is, 9 p.m. and I'm just getting home. I tried to take pictures in my office today, but they did not do her justice.
A measure of how awesome the bag is: my husband wants me to adapt the pattern to make him a bag for the field. (He's a team leader on an archaeological project and needs something with easy access for his supplies.) I'm thinking about making it in Lion's Brand Fisherman's Wool in the somewhat new color way - Nature's Brown. If you've used it, let me know? Or if you have any other suggestions of good felting medium brown wools, pass them on. Patons' dark brown was too dark, so I'm searching for an appropriate sacrifice substitute for him. It needs to be brown to hide the dirt - they'll be in Turkey after all.
We're allowed to knit for husbands if they ask us to, right?
PS I was thinking I might christen him - in the long tradition of knitbloggers using obscure acronyms for spouses - HWAM, but it reminds me too much of Wham!, which always gets - dammit, there it is! - Father Figure by George Michael stuck in my head. If you know why, you are already my friend. If you can guess what HWAM would have stood for, you are my psychic friend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Calla Lily Bag - almost done!

And in knitting news...

This is the Calla Lily Bag - though the color I chose is more rose and less lily. The yarn is Patons Classic Merino Wool and the colorway is Rich Red; I'll post all details with the FO and on Ravelry. The picture to the left is where it stands now - knitted assembled, seamed, but not felted. I've never felted before and am a little (lot!) nervous. MAYBE tonight. If you have a tried and true way, please share!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas Scarves and My Little Helper

The infamous gift scarves! Actually, there's nothing infamous about them. These are just two scarves, modeled by their recipients, that I made in December for two female relatives. The light blue started out as a straight garter stitch, but the yarn was a pain to work with, so I frogged and started doing it in the round so that I only had to knit, not purl. I realized a couple dozen rows in that this scarf was going to be far too thick for Arizona and that I might run out of yarn. So, I got creative. I think the Yarn Harlot would be proud.

I stopped working in the round by reversing at the end of one rotation and then decreased a stitch at the end of the row. Repeat back and forth until you have a flat panel half the width of the loom and you get a scarf end with a tube and a V-shaped opening. What I did then is knit garter stitch to the end of the skein, repeat the same procedure to create another short tube and length of scarf of about the same size, and seam them together roughly in the middle. Finally, I seamed up the end of those tubes so I'd made a scarf with pockets. I would actually do this again if I was going to make another scarf - for an impromptu fix it worked out really well. She dug the pockets, and I certainly didn't tell her they weren't part of the plan.

The other scarf suffered a similar glitch of a different nature. I was using Lion Brand Homespun to make a chevron pattern, which is really a waste of neat stitches since you can't see them in the yarn. I got about 20-25 rows in (I wasn't counting since I planned to do the same pattern for as long as it took) when I realized I wasn't going tob able to finish these in time for Christmas. I needed help. (As it ended up, we were still knitting on Christmas.) Well, my husband isn't a knitter; the chevrons would have been too complicated for him, so I had him knit about half of the scarf in a wide rib pattern, then I made the other end approximately the same squirrelly series of chevrons, and seamed it up. The result? A scarf that looks vaguely frilly on the ends, which is nice enough I guess.

Now I am trying to finish up my Calla Lily bag but struggling to spend as much time as I'd like given that classes started this week. I got a lot done last night despite thanks to My Little Helper, pictured here in a poorly lit shot. :) Fortunately, I'm only 15 rows from the end of the strap, which is my last section, and then the seaming will begin! That's going to take a long time - there are eight 70-stitch seams to attach the four panels to the strap. And then - the last step - I have to felt it.

I'll take progress shots and share the whole thing with you and my Ravelry buddies as soon as I can - hopefully over the weekend. Happy Friday!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Biding time

Happy new year all! I've been back at work for two days and not loving it, so I decided to take a break to update this blog. Unfortunately, I don't have the memory stick with me I thought I did, so instead of my last-minute-Christmas scarves, you get a vacation photo. So sorry. Will be back soon with better knitting related updates.