Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've got a big ball of yarn


Sometimes I've seen these humungo balls of yarn in clothing store window displays for their new fall and winter sweaters. When you usually poke at them, however, they're pretty hollow and lightweight. Most likely, I've always assumed they took a cardboard or a Styrofoam core, or something, and just wrapped the yarn all pretty-like around the core.

This is not that ball of yarn.

This is a single ball from a single hank of Cascade Eco, hand dyed with Jacquard turquoise. All 250 grams and 478 yards of it. I didn't even try to wind this on my ballwinder because I knew it would. Not. Fit. I hand-wound this.

However, after I took that pictures I decided that didn't really express how this ball of yarn was only slightly smaller than the size of my head. So I threw some change next to it that I had nearby. I found an American quarter from my laundry collection, but we've gotten a lot of blog visitors to my scarf pattern recently from all over the world except from Africa. So I put in a Ghanaian 200 Cedis coin as well.

I suppose I can't say we haven't had any one from Africa. We've had a couple people from Egypt, which was really exciting. I love seeing all the new flags, which is how I like to look at it. Estonia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Thailand, Chile, Cuba, Canada, Belgium. I just wanted to say hi!

In non-knitting related items, I've decided to grow a moss garden. I had this container full of dirt leftover from last fall, so I dampened it, collected the moss from outside, and filled the surface.
I've been misting the surface with water multiple times a day to keep it hydrated and get it started ever since last Saturday. I've easily grown moss in my terrariums indoors, but never our in the open air. You can see it's been so moist that tiny little plants have sprouted up in some places.

Meanwhile, outside, the buds on the bush continue to get bigger. I'm waiting for the bush to flower and reveal itself for what kind of bush it truly is! I'm curious to know. But for now I'll content myself with the buds and my indoor moss garden.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

desert legwarmers

Dear A,
Oh! Your pattern is up! I am thinking I might have to use it in the near future. I have some scarf yarn.

And you! You will soon have alpaca fluff, courtesy of my favorite alpaca ranch. This is Lock and Load, the majestic alpaca from whom your fiber came from. (I sent it in the mail today) Doesn't he look friendly? Sometimes he spits.

I took my parents to see the ranch while they were visiting. My dad had quite a long discussion with the owners about alpaca genetics and ovary cycles and things like that. My mom just enjoyed seeing the animals.

The owners of the ranch have invited me to come to shearing day, which is set to happen in April. Plus, they're letting me pick out alpaca fleece from their herd so that I can have yarn made out of the alpaca(s) of my choosing. Amazing! Alpaca!

I need to make a dent in my projects so that I feel justified in getting some more alpaca. It's been slow knitting for me these days, but I did finish some legwarmers.

I can't tell you how fun it was to start knitting with pink yarn. Just the color was enough to motivate me to finish these with haste.

I dyed the yarn so that it would gradually turn pinker and darker as I knit it, although in the future I think I would just dye several different portions of yarn and deal with weaving in the ends. It was fun to knit with though.

And when I was done posing for these pictures I took a bite out of the prickly pear, just like a real javelina would.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phase Shift

The first time I walked into a yarn shop and saw a reversible cable scarf, I was astounded. How could there be cabling on both sides without an odd side out? The concept is perfect for a scarf, because the cable is formed by a k1, p1 ribbing that looks like stockinette stitch on both sides while providing lofty warmth. The rib continues the entire scarf with a few cable rows to keep things interesting.

A phase is a mathematical term referring to the location of a wave or oscillation, such as sine or cosine. When multiple waves are phase shifted, they look like this scarf. I hope the location of your Phase Shift stays around your neck!

Finished Measurements:
4” x 72”


Knitpicks Panache [40% Baby Alpaca, 20% cashmere, 20% silk, 20% extrafine merino; 68 yd/62m per 50g ball]; 5 balls, shown in Dusk DISCONTINUED

Other Recommended yarn:
Malabrigo Chunky [100% Merino; 104 yd/95m per 100g ball]; 3 skeins
Note: the more solid color varieties will more clearly reveal cabling

Reccomended Needle Size:
1 set US #10/6mm needles

Tapestry Needle
Cable or double pointed needle


14 sts/21 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Note: Gauge is not essential for this project.

Front Cross (FC): slip 6 st to dpn and hold on front, (k1,p1) 3 times, then (k1, p1) 3 times from dpn
Back Cross (BC): slip 6 st to dpn and hold in back, (k1, p1) 3 times, then (k1, p1) 3 times from dpn

Cast on 30 st
Rows 1-4: (k1, p1) 15 times
Row 5: (k1, p1) 3 times, FC twice
Rows 6-14: (k1, p1) 15 times
Row 15: BC twice, (k1, p1) 3 times
Rows 16-24: (k1, p1) 15 times

Repeat Rows 5-24 until satisfied with the length of the scarf. End with a cable row, and work 4 more rows in k1, p1 rib. Cast off, weave in ends.

With much thanks to Barbara G. Walker and the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns for the inspiration for this cable, which comes from the Loose Five-Rib Braid. Thanks also to Karen who both taught me how to knit and graciously tested this pattern.

All text and photography copyright A.S. 2009. For non-commercial use, only.

All questions and comments

Sandwich Gloves


Well, it's either been raining so that I haven't been able to take pictures of the handspun gloves, or Kris has been too busy or at school, or I've been too busy! Life has been colluding against me.

I had, however, earlier managed to take some pictures of my sandwich gloves, quickly named because they fit so smartly I decided I could easily eat a sandwich in them if I wanted to on the way to school. This theory has not been tested yet, and sadly, I don't believe it will this winter, since it's rather warmed up outside to just the need for a jacket. It's a rare glove day.Specs:
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare - Merino Wool Fingering, 1 skein, hand-dyed by yours truly. I believe this was the first yarn I ever hand-dyed. I just never used it until now. Strange, huh. Kool-aid!
Needles: 0
Gauge: 7.5 stitches/inch
Size: 7" hand circumference
Ravelled here.
Plain stockinette st with just a short garter border, letting the colors do all the work.
I'm currently finished up my second pair of these babies in a different color for my sister. She also will not be able to eat sandwiches in them any time soon, but hopefully she likes them.

(By the way, I do hope you enjoy the new format. I decided we needed a change of scenery. Spring inspired me.)

Love ya,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Charles Freeman is my Hero


You know, at my favourite local yarn shop, Home Ec Workshop, they have empty art frames on the wall with knitting tacked inside them. To put the knitting on display. One might consider this if one lives in a state that is too hot to wear lined aran mittens that are very, very lovely.

Did you knit the laceweight single stranded? Because if so, that's crazy awesome. Even double stranding it Malabrigo laceweight is pretty thin. I'm very impressed.

So I saw that I had a "Message from Charles Freeman" on my google homepage today, sharing the space with my teahouse fox who is, at the moment, playing his pi-pa to the ducks in the pond.

However, it was not the Charles Freeman I know and love, it was some other bloke who apparently is being harrased. (I've got to admit, I didn't read the article beyond realizing that this was a different person.)

However, doesn't this make you miss Charles Freeman, infamous writer of Egypt, Greece, and Rome? So much reading we had to do back our first year of undergraduate education, and I don't honestly know how much I got out of that book. More than others, apparently, because my professor was always impressed my ability to remember detail, but I never really got history. I am cognizant of the need to understand history, but I just can't appreciate it myself, even though I want to.

I guess this post really is purportless, albeit to point to the fact that I was really excited that I thought perhaps Charles Freeman, my hero, had gotten face-time on Google's home page.

"Clearly I needed help."


Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Mitten.

Whoah! We have a new format. And there are giant owl eyes looking at me.

It's been too long since I've posted. But it's also been so long since I've finished a project. It's been a horrible semester for knitting anything. I'm only teaching one lab and only taking one class (obvious diminished knitting time there), and as a result, I have few class papers to read (no easy stockinette/ribbed knitting). Hazel doesn't like this either. She would nudge my feet while I read and try to distract me with her cuteness, so that I couldn't help but pet her instead. Now I read papers on the computer and take notes, and Hazel isn't allowed by our computer, because she eats cords and it's expensive.

Nevertheless, I do have a picture to post. This is probably the most beautiful thing I've knit in a long time. Maybe ever? I don't know. These are pretty amazing mittens. Soft. Warm. Awesome.

I think . . . I think I'm going to gift them. That's most logical, right? I mean, who wears mittens in Arizona. Maybe I'll just wait until next winter to give them away. I mean, I can't give them up just yet. They're too wonderful.

This was definitely at-home knitting, since charts aren't so good to bring into class, but so much fun to knit. I highly recommend the pattern.

Oh! And what a surprise for the hands. A liner: warm malabrigo merino lace. If these mittens were edible, they would taste like warm rhubarb pie.

If I wait long enough, maybe I'll convince myself to keep the mittens. I mean, there WAS snow at the grand canyon. That's AZ. Look how cold we are in this picture! I totally look like I need mittens in this picture.
In fact, we threw snowballs off the grand canyon. Snow! In AZ!

And I almost forgot! It snowed in our town this winter. Once. And I have the picture to prove it.

This is the cow skull in our front "yard" (aka rock garden). Look at the HUGE amount of snow accumulation on his antlers! I totally need these mittens for myself. I'm getting cold just thinking about our harsh winters here.

I mean, I have some mittens here now, but they don't have liners in them. And what if it snows again?! My hands could be mildly uncomfortable in the semi-cold climate.

I'll have to think about this. At any rate, I'm not giving these mittens up just yet. They were too much fun to knit, and are too much fun to wear to get rid of them immediately. We'll wait a few months and then see what happens. I just need to have some time to get over my mitten-separation anxiety.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Off guard


Where did this come from? How can this possibly come from months of frozen, windy, harsh landscape?

I suppose I am a biologist and know the answer, but I never understand. You could feel it in the air, even before I saw this. I made sure not to wear my hat home.

Kris made sure to come over wearing Bermuda shorts.