Saturday, March 27, 2010

More book and knitting talk

I finished up the Biggie book I was reading, Biggie and the Fricasseed Fat Man (Biggie Weatherford). Delightful. I highly recommend this series if you are looking for lighthearted reading. The nice thing about this series is you can jump in on any book and not be lost. There are references to previous books, but none so much that it detracts from the current story. Now I'm reading Rachael Herron's first book, How to Knit a Love Song: A Cypress Hollow Yarn. I heard about the book on Marie Irshad's Knit Cast podcast and thought it sounded pretty good. It's a knitting romance. I'm not generally a fan of romance books, but it's got knitting! How bad can it be? Actually, so far it's pretty darn good. I'm only a few chapters in. The young heroine has just inherited a cottage from a sweet old knitting lady (very reminiscent of Elizabeth Zimmermann). The downside is that this cottage is located smack in the middle of a sheep ranch the woman owned and willed to her nephew, a set-in-his-ways cowboy. And so the fun begins. The writing is good. Rachael paints a lovely, vivid picture without being ponderous. The pace is good and I'm definitely looking forward to an afternoon of reading.

I had a wonderful discovery this week for the Kindle. Knitcircus online knitting magazine has gone free and digital. The magazine can be read online or downloaded as a PDF. They even allow you to print the magazine out if you wish. Fantastic! I was absolutely delighted to download the PDF and copy it to my Kindle. The font is a tad small, but still readable. Patterns are NOT included in the free version of the magazine. There is a flat fee to purchase the entire pattern pack for the issue. I'm happy with the advent of online knitting magazines, even happier to find one that allows download to a reader so I'm not stuck at my computer desk to read it. There are various modalities of pattern distribution. Knitty is totally free, Knitcircus is one price for all the issue's patterns and Twist Collective you buy each pattern individually.

Knitting this week has mostly been on the Kertzer Yoked Cardigan. This has been an interesting pattern to knit. You knit the base of the cardi in pieces to the underarm then join them and knit the yoke as one piece. There's also an interesting method of making the pockets where you knit the pocket lining and keep it on a holder. When you come to the pocket placement on the fronts, you make rapid increases which create a little pouch. At the top of the pocket, you lap the outermost pocket stitches over the center stitches creating pleats. You work a few rows of edging and bind off the pocket stitches then attach the lining on the next row. It's terribly easy and creates an adorable pocket.

I finished a pair of vanilla socks in some yarn I had purchased last year on Ebay, JL Yarns Salvia. The yarn was quite inexpensive so I figured I'd give it a try. It is a very fine fingering weight yarn. I knit the socks on US 1 needles but will probably knit the next pair on US 0, if I get around to knitting the second pair! These seemed to take forever. I guess because of the fineness of the yarn. And there was nothing compelling about the yarn. Just plain, basic yarn. The only other socks I've got going at the moment are the 6ply self patterning socks, for when I need totally brainless knitting. Next up in my sock queue are the Sleepy Hollow socks using some of my own hand dyed yarn. Just have to get the yarn wound up.

I'm still working on the Bitterroot shawl from Knitty. The pattern is starting to show now, although it's difficult to see in the picture since it's not blocked. I also started a Multnomah shawl. The eagle eyed among you will recognize the yarn from last summer's stole. I love the yarn, love knitting with the yarn. But stoles...not so much loving knitting them. Too much like overgrown scarves or undersized blankets. WAY too much boring knitting. At least with a triangle shawl each row is a little different. Besides, I really wanted to knit Multnomah and knew this yarn would be perfect. It is 100purewool lace weight in the color Nicanor held double.

Although I've manged to stick to not buying yarn, I've failed on the sniffies. I purchased some samples from For Strange Women and am smitten. Her scents are all natural, no fragrance oils, just natural and essential oils. The scents are incredibly complex. They smell totally different on my skin than in the bottle. They are rich and pure, nothing cloying and artificial like in some perfume oils. I decided to treat myself to a full bottle of Decadence and Debauchery, although the other 2 I tried, Winter Kitty and Moss & Ivy were equally tempting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ooo shiney!

Another finished object this week. The Shake the Barley mitts are done.I love them alot. Of course, now it's too warm to wear them, but they'll be all ready for next fall. I don't think I have enough of the Patons Classic Merino left to make the matching hat. I could possibly do it in reverse, with the body in burgundy and the cuff in cream. But I don't think I'd like that. I've got other cream yarns in stash so I should be able to find something that will work.

Working on the cabled mitts and a mention on a Knitmore Girls podcast reminded me of a cable needle I've been lusting after for some time now. I don't remember when I first heard about Leslie Wind's cable needles, but when I saw them I knew I had to have one someday. She dubbs them "tewelry". Functional knitting tools that are pretty enough to be jewelry. They are a bit spendy for a cable needle when you consider you can get a pack of 3 Clover cable needles for under $3. However, I like a bit of luxury here and there when I can swing it and that little bit of something special adds a lot of pleasure to my knitting time. So I finally broke down and treated myself to one (one of the small advantages of not buying yarn, you can spend the money on cool tools!)I went with the sheep design. It arrived about a week after I ordered it. As expected, it is gorgeous. The needle came with it's own little satin pouch that zips shut along with a polishing cloth to keep it looking great. The sheep is sterling silver and the cable needle is brass. It comes attached to an adjustable cord necklace so you can wear it around your neck. I found this just got in the way, especially on back cables, so I removed the cord. Using the needle took a little getting used to. I'm used to a straight cable needle (Brittany's are my favorite) where you can slip the stitches on to the needle from right to left and then knit them off the other end. With this needle, you have to slip the stitches to the needle from left to right which is a bit more difficult for me since I knit rather tightly. The needle is heavy enough to pull the stitches out of the way while you work the cable. After I work the cable I loop the needle around the middle finger on my left hand so it's ready for the next turn. It is by far the handiest needle in that respect; I don't have to weave it into my work or hold it in my mouth or drop it as mostly happens with my straight needle. I don't think this may be the cable needle for everyone. But if you are a bit experienced with cabling and looking for a special treat, I do recommend it. (Yes, that's the Fylingdales sweater in the background. Maybe this sweet cable needle will give me the push to finish it!)

I didn't get much reading done this week. I gave up on Aunt Dimity Snowbound. I couldn't get into it. I loved the first book and have only read one more in the series so far. Maybe it's because I read it out of order but I didn't care for it nearly as much as the first. I think I'll go back and try to read them in order before I try to read the later books.

I've instead started Biggie and the Fricasseed Fat Man. I LOVE the Biggie books. I've read the first two already and this is third in the series with 3 more after this one. The books center around Biggie Weatherford and her grandson JR, told from JR's point of view. They are set in Texas and are written with a heavy Texas accent. The characters are delightfully quirky. The stories are rather absurd and unlikely, but totally fun nonetheless.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Read an E-Book week

March 7 thru 13 is "Read an E-Book Week". Check out the website lots of ebook promotions. Books on the Knob also has a list of promotions (I think they are pretty much the same list). I've only just started exploring and already found some new free books.

Finally, some pictures!

Skully is finished and turned out gorgeous. I used the modified drop-shoulder sweater from Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater patterns rather than the pattern in Stitch n Bitch. I wasn't at all crazy about the shape of the original sweater. But I'm delighted with how mine turned out. The yarn is wonderfully cozy (Kraemer Yarns Victor, dyed by me in Jacquard Gunmetal).

This week I've mostly been knitting on the Shake the Barley mitts from Fiddle Knits. I LOVE these mitts! I'm using the left over Wool of the Andes from my Heroine jacket for the cuffs and Patons Classic Merino for the body. The pattern is well written and these are a fast easy knit. There's a matching hat pattern that I'll probably end up purchasing and knitting as well.

Here's the finished Chasm handspun.I've yet to take the wpi count and figure yardage. It's definitely not fingering weight. Possibly sport weight or DK. No plans for this just yet.

I spent this morning potting up some of my seedlings. I moved the cherry tomatoes and candy onions into larger pots. I found repotting the onions a bit challenging so I left the others in the original flats. I thinned out the weak and small seedlings and added a bit more soil. They've got a ways to go before they'll be sturdy enough to get into the garden. Now that the snow is melted off the garden I'm starting to get excited for spring. Dad and I had a lengthy discussion the other day about what we hope to do with our respective gardens. Planning is half the fun!!

I finished reading The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse early this week (did you see Leann posted a comment last week! How awesome is that?!) This week I read a bunch of previews and finally settled on Dead Witch Walking. Delightful so far. I've been listening to the Canterville Ghost which is also delightful. I had no idea something that old could be that hilarious. I'm woefully unread when it comes to classic literature. I considered the required reading in high school torturous (can you say Grapes of Wrath?) But now that I'm older and not under the instant joy-killer of "required to read" and with so many classics available now for free in Kindle and audio (via Librivox), I'm finding quite a lot that I enjoy. I find it particularly satisfying to listen to classics read by someone else. It's often easier for me to process difficult vocabulary hearing it rather than trying to read it.

I nearly broke the stash diet this week. With the weather just starting to hint at the possibility of maybe giving us spring one day, I'm hankering to knit a cotton cardi. I added and deleted sweater quantities of yarn to my virtual shopping basket at least 4 times this week. But in the end, I managed to walk away. I pulled out the Caron Simply Soft I reclaimed from a previous project that didn't work out and cast on the Yoked Cardigan from Kertzer. Although it's not the cotton I had my heart set on, this yarn will still make a fine spring cardigan.

Speaking of reclaimed yarn, it looks like I'll be reclaiming the yarn from the February Lady sweater I knit last winter/spring. As I mentioned in the original post when I finished the sweater, I knit the piece too long and the lace also stretches A LOT. It's too the point now where it hangs almost to my knees. Plus I've lost weight and it's too big at the top now too. It looks like a potato sack on me. The yarn is too pretty to be wasted so I'll be working on unpicking the ends and then ripping back the yarn as time permits. I'm fairly sure I'll knit another FLS since I do love the sweater. But it will be in a smaller size and with far fewer repeats! For anyone who hasn't caught on, yes, I am very much a process knitter. I have no reservations about ripping out a sweater I spent weeks knitting!