Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello Possums!

That's the friendly greeting used by Dame Edna Everage, Australian superstar.

And the possums she's referring are not the American opossum, but the Australian possum, a marsupial varmint native, as is the Dame, to Australia, but an invasive species introduced to New Zealand that started causing havoc the minute the first one got loose.  In NZ they have no natural enemies, but find the native plants much to their taste.  Eradication attempts had paltry success until the Kiwis found a use for the fur of the wee beasties.  Possum fur yarn!

I've just finished a scarf/shawlette using a possum/merino silk blend, and it's wonderful. Soft, very light, and with a slight fuzzy haze of brown possum fur.  It's cosy and cuddly and warm around the neck like a knit scarf should be.

Pattern is Dolcetto, from KnitCircus. Yarn is Supreme Possum  Merino, a sock-weight blend of possum fur, merino, and a little silk. The golden twinkle you may see if you click and enlarge the photos is a Japanese gold machine embroidery thread that I got at a quilting store and knitted along with the possum et al.  Wish it was a little longer with the same depth, but otherwise it's quite satisfactory, possums.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Look What I Found at the Library!

Browsing on the second floor of the Loussac Library (in the nonfiction where the knitting books are), look what I found!  William Faulkner looking rather dyspeptic despite the beautiful (Noro, if I'm not mistaken) knitted hat.

It's a purposeful yarn bombing in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the library. You can use the Loussac link above to get links to a poster and calendar of events of the whole deal.  The hats will be donated to people who need them after the big wingding is over.  Meanwhile, let's look at some more of the authors in their crowning glories:
 Robert Frost got a rather wild crocheted Peruvian-style chullo.  I don't think it's what he wants to wear down the road not taken, do you?

The most suitably hatted, in my opinion, were Mark Twain (foreground) in his raffish colorful slouch and Louisa Alcott (background) in the trim and proper lavender bucket.
There still are authors with bare heads!  Room for your contribution to literary grandeur and Alaskans with warmer ears this winter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Stash Wants What It Wants

This feels a bit like falling in love with an unsuitable boy. Heaven knows I adore natural fibers, from cashmere, cotton, and bamboo to alpaca, bison, even yak, and, of course, wool, glorious wool.  So breathable, so renewable, and (as we all eventually must) so biodegradable.

But my fancy has been taken by (I can barely utter the word) an acrylic yarn.  Almost can't believe it myself, but the stash wants what it wants, and when I saw this stuff winking at me in a January sale, I was helpless.  Lion Brand Vanna's (yup, the afghan crocheting TV lady) Glamour. Photos don't do it justice, because when I say winking, I mean the gleaming little wink of a metallic thread twisted in with the two other synthetic plies.  In most colorways, the metallic is the same color as the other plies, so the shine and gleam is very subtle, very mobile, very mysterious.  Mysterious?  Acrylic? Told you I was smitten.

So it was on sale and I indulged--in several colors.  First of all, I used the red to make a simple K1P1 reversible scarf for the Red Scarf Project.  (You can, too. They don't start collecting them till September 1 of each year.  Details at link.)

And silvery silver for a Winter Flame scarf destined to be a prize this winter for my water aerobics class.  A few silver beads on the ends for weight and bling.

The biggest thing was this Stephen West Clockwork scarf made with blue (the most mysterious winker of all the colors) and black, weighted with beads in the castoff edge.

Looks a bit like the Millennium Falcon, doesn't it?

But it drapes beautifully with the weight of the beads in the castoff edge

And there was plenty left over for the cutest little baby booties ever, blue and silver.  I may have these booties for quite some time, as it will take an extremely special baby to pry them out of my hands!
But don't worry about me; this acrylic is just a crazy fling.  I've already come to my senses and am rehabbing on pure purple silk.
Noro Hana Silk ribbon with beads for bling.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Small Finished Objects

So to heck with the KCBW.  None of the rest of the blog themes really grabbed me enough to make me put down the knitting and actually blog.  What have I been doing? this stuff:

Finished a beaded net cover for my stainless steel water bottle. Nepali aloo yarn, 6/0 metallic red glass beads.  You saw the start of it when I talked about the yarn.  Behind it are my brave little tomato seedlings.  Every year, they are the evidence of belief in spring, raising their tender little leaves to sunshine that's still reflected off ice and snow.  But I digress.

I started using metal water bottles when the information about leaching plastic started leaching into our awareness.  Only trouble is, I exercise in a warm, humid pool atmosphere and the metal bottle gets sweaty (ewww) and slippery.  "But hey," I said to myself. "I'm a knitter--I can solve this problem!"  So I did, with inelastic yarn, and yo k2tog.  The beads add extra grip, but the bling factor gets it noticed, and I'm hoping it will solve another of my water bottle problems and bring somebody yelling and waving it at me when I leave it behind, as I have done to so many other bottles.

In other news, I actually made a pair of socks out of sock club yarn!  The Harlot may have her own personal alternative sock club, but I am so alternative, I rarely even make socks out of sock yarn.  And then Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test from the Rockin' Sock Club arrived.  My daughter spotted it from across the room  and said, "Oooooooo--that's some beautiful yarn."  "Want some socks?" sez I, and days later, there they were:

Astute sock-watchers among you will notice that these are very plain vanilla socks, and not one of the clever patterns that come with sock club yarns.  That's because the dye job on the yarn so brilliantly mimics a tie-dye t-shirt that I couldn't bear to interfere with it.  The only fancy bit is the picot cast-on, which you can learn, too, from the very same video.  And as usual, there was enough yarn left after the socks to make a pair of baby booties, the fantastic pattern from the Socks Socks Socks book.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Are They Now? KCBW Day 3/4

Is this Day 3 because it's the third KCBW post? Or Day 4 because it's the 4th day even though I skipped one?

In any case, I am ready for Where Are They Now, because I was planning a post about this before I ever heard of this blog week dealio.  A couple of weeks ago I was in New Mexico on a family visit and also, it turned out, on a visit to some of my knitted creations.  To wit:

A ruana made with a curious fine gauge rayon chenille that I think I got from Cotton CloudsHere it is. Solid and varigated. Beautiful colors.  I was learning to do domino knitting, and based it on, I believe, a poncho design in Hoxbro's book.

AND the Nebraska state sweater, a kit from SWAK.  The perceptive among you will notice that the pattern was changed from a pullover to a cardigan, and that the Go Big Red sleeve was changed because the recipient was not a big football fan.  Yes, the buttons are little ears of corn.

Last of all, a sweater I had completely forgotten,  a cardigan based on the famous Vogue Knitting world map sweater, again, a pullover-to-cardigan conversion.  100% silk yarn dyed blue and green so as to remove country and continent borders and make it a planet, not a map.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches: KCBW Day 3

Just to show you how untidy my mind (my life?) is, I skipped KCBW Day 2 entirely and toddled on to Day 3.
Today's topic is supposed to be about how one keeps one's knitting and knitting stuff organized: yarn, needles, patterns, etc etc.  Organized? Me? Not so much.  I inspect with interest various computer and internet tools for keeping track of it all, but I always find that I'd rather spend all the organizing time necessary to these schemes doing actual knitting.

The one tool I do use is LibraryThing.  I have put all my knitting books on it, and it's been very handy in quandries such as "do I already have that book?" You can see down in the lower right portion of this page a little widget displaying random covers from said knitting library, and here's the physical bookcase they're all in. As you can tell from the photo, there is at this point a bit of overflow.  The situation could do with a little overhaul.

Sad to say, the library is the most organized part of the whole operation.  The yarn situation would give a neat freak (like my DH) the vapors.  Here, for example is the (main) yarn storage closet.  There is a very basic amount of organization in what appears to be total chaos, e.g. all the sock yarn is in one area; many of the planned projects have yarn and pattern bagged up together, but many a time I have entered the Yarn Zone in search of a particular item and either come out absolutely confounded or skunked or completely delighted by something I  discovered that I had totally forgotten about.  That's one small reward for being disorganized--one is always making delightful discoveries.

So there you have it.  My name is Ptarmigan and I am a slob.  I would feel worse about the situation if knitting were my profession and not my hobby.  But my professional stuff is curiously tidy.  Records from a previous business are stored in banker's boxes in this very closet.  Ditto the abandoned possessions of a son who has flown the nest.  Around the corner is a bookcase that contains the orderly music and dvd collections for my current water aerobics profession.  And there have been put forward various creative chaos theories that I like to justify my slobitude.  One is that apparent chaos is just another form of organization,  and another that clutter is stimulating to creativity.  So I will probably just keep knitting on, feeling a tiny bit guilty, and at odd moments frustrated (where is that purple alpaca, anyway?), but creative as all get-out.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

Welcome to National Knitting and Crochet Blog week! Sounds kind of corny, but sometimes a blogger needs a motivating elbow in the ribs, and this is a good one.  The idea is to blog every day of the week on a topic suggested by Eskimimi, the founder.  Today's subject is A Tale of Two Yarns.
Both of my yarns are from Nepal. (I'll bet that makes my post stand out in the crowd!)  Both are single ply, undyed, just as nature (or the spinner) made them.  Both are unique, rare fibers.  And one I have found very useful, while I can't for the life of me figure out what to do with the other.

Yarn One:  Aloo, made from the stems of a nettle-like plant.  The plant seems to work much like hemp--it has dozens of great uses, one of which is fiber from the stems for making fishing nets, storage bags, etc.  The yarn is very hard and strong, very resistant to breakage.

I made a sturdy market bag with most of it, and the remainder is currently becoming a cover for a stainless steel water bottle (more about that when it's a FO) bejeweled with red beads.

Yarn Two: Banana fiber, produced by a Nepali vocational school, and nothing like either the aloo (except in color) or the bright "banana silk" you see when you search the interwebs.  It's soft, both to touch and with weak tensile strength.  It couldn't be a shopping bag.

I think its destiny lies perhaps in the dyepot, and after that as a scarf.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baking Cakes in Anchorage

I've a backlog of stuff to post, but first, this:
The book for book group last night was Baking Cakes in Kigali, and I made the above goodies to celebrate it.  The big cakes are "Death by Lemon" and "Chocolate Roadhouse Cake", both  recipes from At Home with the Range Cafe, available from the web site of said cafe.  By the way, if you are ever in New Mexico, have at least one meal there--they have other great stuff besides dessert.

Death by Lemon is a very lemony custard in a shortbread crust.  More of a pie than a cake, really, but if you taste it you won't quibble for long.  And the Roadhouse cake is mayonnaise-based, so moist and tender doesn't begin to describe it.  I had thought the quantity of cake was a bit excessive for the small group, but after everybody went home there weren't all that many leftovers to clean up--sometimes excess is just right!

Cupcakes are basic vanilla and vanilla buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They are in the colorful spirit of Angel Tungaraza, the heroine of the book.  And also in the spirit of having something vegan cake-y for the Grandboy, for whom butter, eggs, and cream are allergy anathema.  His cake aesthetic also happens to align very well with Angel's.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ptarmigan in Pneu Mexico

My travel was rescheduled, but here I am, finally, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Guess what I brought along to work on?

The Kirman fair isle sweater.  The bottom hem was done in a scheme I have never encountered before.  Cast on, knit 4 rows, reduce the number of stitches by 10%, knit 4 rows, purl a row, knit 4 more rows, add the 10% back in, knit 4 more rows and then start the pattern.  It will be interesting to see if, when blocked, this method cures the flip-up tendency of your average foldover sweater hem.  Bottom border is done and I'm most of the way through the first pattern repeat. Really pleased so far. The yarn is softer than your usual Shetland, the pattern has enough challenge to keep it interesting without making a knitter want to chuck the whole works into the nearest cactus patch (except for beautiful photographs, of course).

I also brought along the silver scarf for those times when I want to do something simpler. The pattern is easy to memorize and I can keep one eye on the tv.  Wish I had put more beads on the cast-on edge, though, but I guess I could add them later.

Anyway, it's a lovely vacation from the Alaska snow, and great fun to sit outside in the sunshine knitting on the warmer days.

A propos of nothing whatsoever, here is a batch of vegan cupcakes I'm very proud of.  The cake part is marble, frosting is ganache with a dab of vegan "cream cheese" frosting topped with heart sprinkles.  Recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World .  Made for Grandboy's day care valentine party so that the coolest goodie there would be something that he could eat.  Loved the amazement on the teacher's face after a bite.  "This is actually GOOD!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Packing Up

Sorry I haven't been around here for a while.  Yeah, it's the old story--busy, busy, busy.  But still knitting.  I've got a bunch of things in progress, but not much in the way of Finished Objects.  Something of a bout of startitis and no finishupitis. And now I am packing up for a 2-week trip in which I anticipate having a lot of knitting time.  What to take? Here's the menu:

Winter Flame, a free scarf pattern from Knit Picks (also downloadable from Ravelry) in a cheap silvery yarn, Vanna's Glamour, bought on super sale at Joanne's.  And a few beads for trim.  Intended as a prize for my H2O class promotion next fall.  Just goes to show, I will knit with acrylic if I really fall in love with the look of it.

More of Vanna's Glamour, this time in Ruby Red, a simple long K1P1 scarf to donate to the Red Scarf Project next fall. For some reason the sparkles show up better in the silver than the red, but trust me, they both have a beautiful subtle twinkle.

The big project is Kirman, by Nancy Shroyer for Nancy's Knit Knacks LLC. The pattern is not on Nancy's site.  The copyright is dated 2002, and I think she's forgotten all about it and moved on to hats and ball winders.  It was a kit I bought long, long ago that has mouldered away in the stash until recently resurrected.  It's a fair isle pullover "inspired by the Symmetry and Colors of Oriental Carpets".  I changed a couple of the colors from the original--just couldn't stand the crayon yellow and green.  They've become a light blue and a light teal respectively.  I guess if I take that one, I need nothing else.

Last are Ringo and Elwood.  Well, just Ringo so far.  These mittens are soooo darn cute, but less fun than I thought to actually make.  The long carries call for careful tension.  Yarn is Knitpicks Stroll  sock yarn in Agate Heather and Fedora.  The plan is to make Ringo for one hand and Elwood for the other.  The Grandboy is not very impressed by Ringo, so it's hard to get motivated to polish it off and go on to Elwood.  Still, once I have two mittens I intend to connect them with an i-cord and string them up in his coat and to heck with the child safety mavens.  I seriously cannot recall
a single child back in the "bad old days" who was garrotted with his/her mitten string.  Not even cautionary tales from moms or grandmoms.  I wonder how many of those mavens have spent hours hunting lost mittens or being harangued by daycare providers who can't find them either.