Monday, April 22, 2013

Worsted Bridie

We all struggle with our ever growing stash. In the past, I, like everyone else, just made accommodations to suit its inevitable growth. But this is going to change, my friends! I am getting rid of my stash, one skein at a time. How am I going to do that? I'm either going to make something out of the yarn, or I will give it away or toss it. No exceptions! No excuses! This is one of the first things I'm taking care of on my (very long) self-improvement list.

To start with my de-stashing, I started with four skeins of Borocco Ultra Alpaca worsted weight yarn in pink that was gifted to me. I'm usually not a pink person, but I needed a cute sweater to replace my thrift store sweater that is sadly, and very drastically, falling to pieces.

I started with searching on Ravelry for a sweater project in worsted weight. I just didn't find anything I really liked. There was a pattern in my Knit Knit book that I liked called "Bridie," but it calls for DK weight yarn.

So I turned to math.

I knit a gauge swatch with my worsted weight yarn on my size 5's and calculated that my gauge in worsted weight was about 4.5 stitches/inch as opposed to 5.5 stitches/inch as the pattern calls for. So I basically took all of the instructions in the pattern, and multiplied them by 0.8 (80%). "Cast on 56 stitches" then means "Cast on 44 stitches" (56 x 0.8 = 44). This is obviously a very simplified explanation  and there was a lot of trial and error involved, but it ended up working pretty well.

Of course, the joke's always on me. This project was intended to get rid of a bunch of yarn, but while I was finishing the last sleeve, I ran out. So that means I have to order some more so I can finish it. D'oh. I got desperate and disassembled my gauge swatch so I could finish the sleeve, and my friend D graciously ordered me another skein so that I can sew it up and do the button band.

Here are the finished pieces:
And by the way, this is Jorge! He certainly caught on quick that cats are supposed to get in the way as much as possible. He is the cutest, though. More about him on another day.
Here's a better picture:
It is blocking as we speak and hopefully within the next few weeks it will be sewn up and finished.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hello Again

Well, hi. Here I am again. Since I haven't posted in a while, here's what I've been up to lately:

New Place
I moved into a neat house with 6 of my closest friends. It's an amazing historic house that's impossible to heat on a budget. I've got the best spot, the third floor flat. It's windows all around (no napping for me) and it has a great lake view.

I got an awesome new set of skis for Christmas!
So I've been out and about a bunch on those. I've also started dabbling in the sport of skijoring. If you've never heard of it (I think it's a midwestern thing) you should Google it, or YouTube search it, because it's fun to watch if nothing else. But basically I've been doing this by getting on my skis, taking my friend D's dogs to the park, and holding on for dear life. 
They don't look evil, but obviously looks can be deceiving. 
There is a more sophisticated method to it, however, and that usually involves getting some quality equipment. Skijoring set-ups like the Skijor Now and the Ruffwear kit cost between $150-$250. For me, that's a lot of money, but I really wanted it. I went back and forth on it, putting it in my Amazon shopping cart, taking it out, putting it back in again. One day I thought, hey, I could probably whip something together myself. Some nylon straps, some rope, some clasps, what else do you need? I set out to my usual first stop on my crafting tour, my parents' house. That's where I tell my mom what I'm planning on doing and she gives me materials if she has them, and coupons if she doesn't. However, when I got there, Mom was out so I explained to Dad what I wanted to do. He said, "Well it sounds like you just need a climbing harness." And yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I needed. Some people who skijor simply use a climbing harness that they already had, and it works well. Turns out Dad had his old climbing harness from his urban lumberjack* days that he was willing to part with.

I haven't tried it out yet, but I think it will work! It was free, and best of all, it looks totally badass! Yes that is real leather!
I'll be ready to go as soon as I get some snow :(

I'll do a post on all of my Christmas present projects soon.

*An urban lumberjack is what I call the guys who work for the city who come and trim and/or cut down trees if they're near power lines or what have you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Second Sock Syndrome

I have fallen victim to the second sock syndrome. The second Java sock is coming along very slowly, which may have more to do with final exams than the syndrome, but I also finished a revised short sock:
The one on the left is the first attempt, and the one on the right is the revised version.

The revised version is done on size 6 DPNs and with one fewer pattern repeat on the foot. I also forgot about decided not to do the first two stockinette rows. You can see it fits much much much better. You can also see the size difference when they're not worn:
Above: First attempt
Below: Second attempt

Even though it takes only a few hours to do, I'm finding it hard to start the second one. I'm going to go ahead and blame that on the syndrome and not my own laziness.

But once I finish both second socks for the Java socks and Short socks, I will commence on the creation of the Inlay socks for Mom. Then the Circle socks. Then the Fuzzy hat. Then maybe I'll get some sleep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sock Update and Other Fun Things

Sock Update: I finished one of the Java Socks!
I love it so much! It's so soft and comfortable! The yarn is amazing, possibly my favorite ever. I will eventually make some for myself, but now I'm forging ahead on other Christmas gifts.

I thought I'd share some other cool things, too. First is what I've been using to transport my sock projects:

A Chinese-takeout box.  
It's great for a couple reasons. It easily contains my project and the accessories like a measuring tape and pattern. Also, as an advantage over a plastic or canvas bag, its rigidity prevents the tiny needles from snapping. I recently accidentally sat on and destroyed a couple of size 2 DPNs and was pretty devastated over it, which is why I searched for a reasonable alternative containment system. I think certain tupperware would work too, the trick is finding one that's long enough for needles. But it's always good to think creatively to repurpose something that is often thrown away.

Lastly, I was Christmas shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond and I saw this:
It's a sandwich cutter to make your sandwiches in the same of dinosaurs. It was too cute, I had to get it.

Fun fun fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and then some more Good

The Good: I finished the Cadence Socks and they're awesome!
First Christmas present done! My sister will love these!

The Bad: I have a math exam tomorrow and I am totally unprepared!

The Ugly: The short socks are done...
wah waaaaah....
Yuck. Get them away. Ew. Ew.

I'm pretty sure my only mistake was making them too big. I'm going to try again on 6's and see how that goes. Also, the pattern is obviously totally wrong about sizing. On these I did 9 iterations of the cable pattern (including the decreasing part), but I'd say for a size 7 foot or so to do 6 or 7 cable patterns (but maybe less on 6's, I'll let you know when I figure it out) But another sizing issue: the ankle is way too loose! My other sister would be like, "you made your other sister those amazing Cadence socks and I get these? You must hate me." So I'm not going to give her these socks. Because I don't hate her.
Maybe if you made these on 7's with thicker fluffier yarn they'd make good slippers, but now they're sort of ugly floppy useless sock/slipper hybrids. Another (necessary) deviation I made from the pattern is that I kitchener'd the toe shut, instead of pulling the yarn through the remaining 10 stitches.

The also-Good:
Instead of going back to the short socks, which I'm completely sick of, I forged ahead and started the Java Socks for sister's room mate #1:

Now this is what I thought sock-knitting would be like before I started. The Cadence socks were really easy and went really quickly. These socks however, they're just inching along. This yarn is much finer and I'm actually sticking to the size 1's. But they are oh-so-soft! 

Here's my game plan: The pattern said the leg is 6.5 inches long. Each iteration of the pattern (4 rows) is about a half an inch long. If I do 4 iterations of the pattern (about 2 inches) per day, I'll be done with the leg in a few days. Not bad. My problem is that this weekend is Thanksgiving, and my whole family will be together. This by itself is not a bad thing, but that means I can't work on any family-related projects, because then they'd see their gift before it's done and that would ruin everything. So I have to strategically work on certain projects while certain people are not around. I can work on the short socks on the way to Thanksgiving, because sister #2 won't be in the car, and I can work on the Java Socks at the party while sister #2 is around, and maybe I'll work on the fuzzy hat if my dad isn't around at some point.

I also need to come up with a gift for my mom. I really want her gift to be like a grand finale to the Christmas 2011 gift collection, but I can't find anything spectacular (and yet doable) enough. It's hard to browse patterns on Ravelry when I have 3 projects going at once. It makes me feel guilty. There are just too many fun things to do and no time at all to do them!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Christmas Projects / Annoyances Part 2

I know it's probably the last thing I need to be doing right now, but I was testing out this fleecing technique used in this fleeced earflap hat because I bought some roving at the farmers' market and it just looked like SO MUCH FUN! And I assure you, the fluffiness and warm cuddly feeling that this little swatch gave me is getting me really excited to actually start this project. Here's a picture of what would be the "front flap" of the earflap hat made with Cascade Eco Wool and some truly fantastic roving from Wisconsin Highland Farms*.
Holy fluffiness!

Mmmm so soft! I love it!

But here's the thing. My priority list is as follows:
1. Study for my exam this week
2. Study for my exam next week
3. Finish the short socks
4. Finish the Cadence socks
5. Earflap hat

So you see here, this hat currently falls as #5 on my priority list, although I think taking out my giant pile of recycling should be up there, too. ANNOYING. 

Now, back to the short socks. Here's where I'm at:
Now, I selected the size 5 - 6 1/2 because my sisters and I have small feet. However, the pattern says to continue the sock 7 inches from where the heel flap diverges from the rest of the sock. But my foot is only about 6 inches longer, and then you need to factor in the toe decreases, right? My gauge is not off, how can this pattern be more than an inch off? And the toe decreases have to be at least 10 rows long! How ANNOYING. 

* Here's a shout-out to Wisconsin Highland Farms:

Wisconsin Highland Farms, LTD. 
Ann & Steve Herr, Owners 
2428 S. Dickey Road - Broadhead, WI 53520 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Food

Ah, fall. Something about fall foods that seems like the entirety of summer was simply working towards the deliciousness of squash and apples. I was at the Dane County Farmers' Market this weekend, which happened to be the last outdoor farmers' market of the season, and I got some fantastic deals, including a grocery bag full of acorn squash for a couple bucks. Amazing! I shared some of my steals with some neighbors and started cooking some for myself immediately! Acorn squash is easy: just cut them in half, take out the "guts" and cook them face-down on a baking sheet until they're done. I set my oven to 375 and it took them about 30 minutes, but if you're going to try this you should probably consult some other source, because my oven frequently lies to me. It's a small, robust, antique-y looking thing. What I really need is an oven thermometer...

So what to do with the seeds? I usually just compost them with the rest of the squash insides. This time, I tried roasting them. After I scooped them out of the squash, I pulled the extra stuff off the seeds and rinsed them. This can be tricky! They are slippery little tiny tricksters. Then I dried them off with some paper towels.
Here they are sans gooey stuff and rinsed.

Then I added some olive oil, just enough to coat (a few tablespoons) and some salt, garlic powder, and some paprika. I spred them out on some parchment paper on a baking sheet and set the oven to 300.

I took them out after 15 minutes and tossed them, then put them back in for another 15. You could probably leave them in longer and make them crispier if you wanted to.
Yum! When I'm home alone doing homework, these go fast! They almost taste like sunflower seeds.

On another food-related note, I got one of these fancy coffee makers for my birthday:
Hellooooo caffeine addiction.
These things are just amazing. I've already had two of these today (too much, Anna?) and it is pretty tasty. Flavored coffee is really not my thing, but from the variety-pack I tried a vanilla flavored coffee, and when it is hot and fresh this stuff is good. Highly recommended to people who are busy, lazy, or both (like me).