WIP Happy

It's a lovely dreary day here in Raleigh.  The kind of day that just makes every color pop against the almost-stormy sky.  Quite honestly, it's my favorite kind of day.  I can sit at my desk with the blinds open without suffering from glare on my computer, I can curl up on the couch with a stack of pages to edit and quietly sip a cup of tea, listening to Pandora play The Cranberries.  And it's the type of day that makes me want to dive into my stash and cozy up to a special skein of worsted or some nice sock yarn.  I don't know if it is the fact that the weather has finally started to turn or an after effect of SAFF, but I have somehow found myself in a frenzy of works in progress.

In this pile is a sweater, two cowls, two socks (will be two pairs sometime soon), two hats, and a stole.  These are in a variety of weights and complexity, in various stages of completion, and all screaming to be worked on.  For the most part I have not listed them on my Ravelry projects page, mostly because I don't like to list projects with attached photos.  But also because I am closing in on 100 projects, and for some reason I feel like this will solidify me as a Knitter, the kind with a capital "k".

But instead of working on any of these, I am winding this lovely skein of Miss Babs (squeal!) for another pair of socks.  Hope the other projects forgive me.

ETA: So the yarn has informed me that it would rather be a shawl than socks and the collective wisdom of Twitter has advised that it is always best to listen to talking yarn rather than risk it's wrath in the form of unhappy socks.  Maybe I'll wind another skein...


FO: It's Hip to Be Square

It's my little brother's seventeenth birthday!  First he learned to shower daily, then he could drive, and now? Now he can go see an R rated movie.  My how he's grown.

While I was home for SAFF mom and I picked up a cake and we had an impromptu birthday celebration that ended in the kind of giggles that only family can understand.  I've knit for all of my family, and each has a very real appreciation of the work and love that goes into each stitch.  But my brother is often the most fun to knit for.  For Christmas 2009 I gave my brother a knit hat.  He wore that hat so much he slept in it.  Last year for his birthday I knit another and he wore it all the time.  So this year I once again turned to some sturdy Cascade 220 and knit another hat.

This is my fourth Turn a Square.  I really should branch out and try to knit other Jared Flood patterns, but I love the way it works up.  My little brother is a guitarist and, in his mind, future rock star.  I may not have the musical talent in the family, but when he and my sister are one day touring with Evanescence, I will be there. Screaming in the audience and making sure they have the best and coolest knitwear around.


SAFF (Or How We Did Not Go To The Tractor Show)

SAFF was amazing.  I don't think I've had so much fun, like, ever.  Ok, maybe not that amazing, but it was pretty awesome and Mom and I had a great time.  It was a little overwhelming to see all of the vendors with all that yarn and it was just everywhere and . . . yeah . . . . There is a sales arena that is two floors, and then there is a barn.  While all of the sellers were very nice, I really liked hanging out in the barn because it felt more like I was interacting with the specific individuals who create the products I was purchasing.  My goal with SAFF was to buy yarn that I had not seen in my local shops, specifically those created and dyed by individuals, rather than created in a manufacturing plant.

So I could tell you about the awesomeness of Miss Babs, the eclectic feel of Knitting Notions, the amazing colors of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, or the soft verigations of Brooks Farm, all of whom I purchased from, but instead I want to tell you about a booth in which I instantly felt welcome.

I was excited to hear that Kate Oats, the designer behind Tot Toppers and When I Grow Up.  I'm a latent admirer of her designs.  I love them, but I have not actually knit any of them.  It was really exciting to go in the booth and see all of her samples sitting out, a pattern book on a stool and she and a friend knitting away huddled by a heater (did I mention that it was FREEZING?).  Kate was super friendly and not at all pushy while mom and I picked over her booth trying on hats and deliberating over yarn colors. Oh, I didn't mention she had a build your own kit? Yes, it was super awesome.

I bought this gorgeous skein of Yarn Love in the Anne Shirley base to knit the Twisty Violets Cap.  I've already picked out several of her other patterns to knit and my dear mother, who still has flashbacks of the one hat she has knit, fell in love with one of the sweater patterns and is now talking about knitting sweaters.  That's how amazing this woman is.

I also got to meet some really cool people.  The lovely hosts of the Just One More Row podcast, Brittany and Dana, had a small meetup.  It was really nice to meet them.  I love listening to their podcast.  It's the only knitting podcast that I listen to that is actually hosted by people who live in this area of the country, where we have a lot of really good fiber.  Mom and I also visited with our friends Lynette and Kim who work with the Southeastern Llama Rescue.  They had a booth selling donated goods to raise money for their efforts.

Oh, and we got to visit with some Llamas.  Don't worry, no knitwear was harmed in the taking of this photo.


FO: Nutkin

I'm frantically packing for SAFF and dashing about with my normal every day craziness, but I wanted to jot a quick post about my new socks!  It was finally cold enough yesterday to wear them to work and I spent a lot of time hopping around on one foot pulling up the leg of my jeans so that I could show them off.  And then it was light enough to take pictures!

Nutkin by Beth LaPensee in Madelinetosh Sock, Cousteau

I love this pattern.  I love the stitches, I love the way they flow together, I love the way they flew off of my needles, and I love love LOVE the turned hem on the cuff.  It was a bit dodgy to knit up at first, but I got the hang of them.  Plus the design is written top down with a short row heel and toe.  I never thought I'd enjoy kitchenering sixty-four stitches in one go, but it turned out very nicely.

The Madelinetosh was a dream to work with.  It has amazing stitch definition and the patterning wasn't lost in the darker color.  I did not realize until I was on the Madelinetosh website that Cousteau is a new colorway.  It really is lovely.  My sister was asking about it and the best way I can describe it is a mermaid in the dark.  You know, when the moon is refracted by the water and their tails glint just so?  In any case, I understand now why the yarn costs so much.  It has to be some of the nicest I've ever used.

Now I really must go get ready.  So much to do.  See you at SAFF on Saturday?


Stash and Bones

It might be more than a week since my birthday, but I'm still getting presents!  Yesterday Chris picked me up from work and handed me a smaller, soft, gift wrapped present.  Inside was yarn!  Evidently he ordered it before my birthday but it didn't show up in time.  Which is fine because I was totally caught off guard by the pretties inside.

Barking Dog Yarn Opposites Attract in Heathcliff and Catherine

Not only is this yarn awesome because it's named after one of my personal favorite tragic couples (I may be very much not a Jane Austin person, but I love me some Bronte sisters), but it is also the concept of the yarn that I find really inspiring.  These are two coordinating colorways in which the main color of one is the accent color of the other.  Each skein is about 200 yards, or enough for your average sock, so that you can knit fraternal socks that actually match!  They were designed for the OppAtt socks, but I've seen some very tempting Monkeys on Ravelry.  Maybe I'll get another couple and give those a go later on.

Yesterday brought to me not only yarn, but also a very unique opportunity, at least for me.  I got to go to a Kathy Reichs book signing!  Now while you may look at your screen and go, oh she's here every year for her book tours, remember something.  I grew up in a very lovely but very small town.  While the geography inspires authors, they seldom come to visit when they go on book tours.  I would not have even known that she was nearby if I had not happened to glance at my twitter when she tweeted about it.

As the loyal fan I am I did buy her latest book, Seizure, which I immediately started last night.  It might take me a while to finish because I'm not going to lug a signed copy up to SAFF with me this weekend, nor will I drag it around as my lunch book (my copy of Heat Rises has a tragic tear in one of the pages from one too many days spent in my purse).  I know I will love it, as I have loved all of her books.  I actually have not read the latest Tempe book because I have a sort of tradition started back when I was working necessary but miserable summer jobs to pay for college.  Every summer the paperback of the previous year's release is published and is sold in such mundane places as the local drug store.  Well, no matter where I've lived or where I work there is always a drug store that sells these paperbacks.  I can't tell you how much I relished my escape into Tempe's world on my lunch breaks at McDonalds or when I was a hotel housekeeper.  I actually missed my bus stop one time in Pittsburgh last summer because I was so absorbed in my book.

It meant so much to me to meet Ms. Reichs and have her sign my book.  She is truly a lovely woman.  I just wish I could have thought of something to say to her besides "My mom said to tell you you are her hero."


Avoiding the Cone of Carnage

There are no sock pictures yet again today because the insanely bright heat of yesterday has turned to an extremely uncomfortable mugginess that involves as little light as possible.  I actually really enjoy this weather.  Something about dark rainy days (not the muggy heat part) makes me feel all cozy as I sit with a cup of tea and my knitting and attempt to decipher all of the edits my thesis committee has begun to send back (I'm torn between working through each document in the order I have received them or printing out a copy of each chapter and writing all three sets of comments in one place).

Because I finished the socks, and the super seekret project (yes, you spell it that way because you really draw out the "ee"s), I have been left with a bit of a knitting conundrum.  I actually uttered that phrase people mock me for. I have nothing to knit.  Really.  I have a cowl in my purse, but that's my purse knitting and if I work on it at home then long car rides, lunch breaks, lines, and possibly that reading at B&N I am going to will be just unbearable because I will have finished it and it won't be that nice box stitch that requires just a little brain power but not so much you are completely distracted.  And I won't be keeping myself calm with really pretty merino that makes me fantasize about living in a city where it actually gets cold enough for a wool cowl and how stunning I'd look wearing it in the snow with my dress coat, skinny jeans, and high heeled boots that magically don't hurt my feet.  Instead, I would be fighting with lace weight, trying to start a stole that isn't quite the pattern I envisioned and my yarn would keep snapping.  Just imagine the carnage.

So I dug around for a while and came up with a cone of Marr Haven sport that I bought last year on sale for my birthday and never got around to using.

(Sorry again about the photo quality.  There's just no way around this light today)

This is Cria, a garter yoke sweater from Ysolda Teague's Little Red in the City.  I printed off the relevant pages, wrote down the numbers for my size, and cast on.  That cast on is a little wonky and made absolutely no sense the first seven million times I read it.  But I trust Ysolda and the result was pretty genius.

I'm going to modify the button count a little to use some lovely bronze Soviet uniform buttons I have been saving.  Three for the yoke and one for each of the sleeves.  And because I'm knitting off the cone I can't take it out of the house, meaning my purse project has no interest for me because I have to see what this next increase row will do.  Now excuse me, I have to go finish this row.


The Thrifting Files

The socks are done!  They are currently blocking on the porch and will [hopefully] have lovely photos taken of them tomorrow.  I have this fantasy of laying on the grass with my stockingd feet propped up on a tree but I think the neighbors might ban together to have me kicked out for scaring their children.

In the meantime, I received a lovely package today.  It actually arrived yesterday but was delivered to the apartment office because I was not home and they were afraid to bend it to fit in the mail box.  It's Coastal Knits!  I know there are blog reviews and podcasts and everyone is all excited, so I won't do a proper review here until I knit one of the patterns (though I already knit the Rustling Leaves Beret that was part of the pre-order package and absolutely love it).  One of the lovely things about this book is the photography.  I am now dying to own each of the sweaters in the exact colors and go visit the locations.  I know, a little too over the top crazy, right?  But they're just so nice!  My sweater addiction is back and I want to make them!

The problem with wanting to make sweaters is that I can't afford the yarn.  Oh, I can sometimes and occasionally I find a good deal, but I don't have the stockpile of sweater yarn that a lot of knitters seem to.  In fact, despite my possession of a dedicated yarn cabinet, I don't own all that much yarn.  And I certainly do not have the quantity and range of yarns I would need for such nice sweaters.  But as I was feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had the money to go crazy buying sweater yarn at SAFF (could still happen.  I'll be a nice skeletal size if I blow all my money and can't eat.  Plus, I won't need as much yarn), I realized that I have a few ratty old thrift store sweaters that I keep on hand for at-home winter layers.  And they are machine knit in pieces.  Couldn't I frog the yarn and reuse it for my own knitting?  Then I'd be just as warm, maybe more stylish, and be able to knit sweaters!

So I started with this.

Over three hours later it looks like this.

Somehow I could not find a way to undo the seems and thus have to unravel the pieces from each other.  It's taken a good portion of a Jim Butcher audio book to get this far.  But I'm determined.  The idea of owning enough of a wool angora blend to knit a cardigan is enough to keep me going.  I'm just going to be working on it for a while.

One thing's for sure.  When I do finally get to knit with this yarn I will make sure I learn how to properly join yarn.  There is no way on this earth or any other dimension that I am going to weave in all of these ends.


What's the Use of Wonderin?

It's been hard to find things to blog about lately.  I'm still running, trying to do some yoga, and fretting about my thesis, but it is rather difficult to take pictures of these.

The Nutkins have slowed somewhat because of a new seekret project that has taken some of my attention.  Though I am planning to finish sock #2 tonight when I get home from work.

I'm getting really excited for SAFF on Saturday.  I've been "saving" up for a while and am trying to decide just how much I think I'll spend.  Part of me thinks I need extra just in case, the other part of me knows that if I have the cash I will spend it.

The North Carolina state fair opened this weekend and as someone who now lives in the same city I fulfilled my obligation to go on the busiest night -- Saturday.

I made a lot of Carousel jokes and references that were largely lost on those more excited to be there than I was.  There was some good food, though.  I had set out to try deep fried oreos, but in the end settled for assorted samplings of Andrea's food and a frozen banana.

Fried Pickles, they are yummy! (and require special capitalization)

And I finally got my fireworks!  Only slightly overshadowed by the high school girls singing Katie Perry behind us.


Starting 23 Off Right

I had a lovely birthday yesterday thanks to the kindness of friends and loved ones.  I like low key birthdays.  I enjoy a good party for sure (there are usually more gifts attached), but what I really enjoy is just the company of people I care about.  This year Chris brought dinner from a local restaurant I have grown rather fond of, some Baltika in various flavors (Russian beer seems to be a thing with me.  I'm more of a wine girl than anything else, but I like Baltika, though I don't get it enough to know what number I am), and a box of cupcakes in a variety of flavors.

We watched Castle, as is our custom on Mondays, and just enjoyed hanging out without the pressure of work or school looming over us.

Today I decided to start 23 off right.  I pulled on my running shoes, grabbed my windbreaker, and went for a run in the rain.  When I was on my unofficial hiatus I didn't run at all.  I really did not have the time with the thesis to do anything besides write.  That sounds like an excuse but it really isn't.  The last few weeks I was really struggling and burned through any cheeriness I could muster while I was at work.  And let's say nothing of my actual health.  My dietary habits were miserable and the one time I did try to go run to relieve some of the stress my hands went numb.  But it's better now.  I'm having to rebuild my base fitness after losing so much time, but I'm already feeling the effects.  I'm also running outside rather than on a treadmill, which makes for some interesting routs.  I've decided to pay no attention to distance but rather to enjoy just putting in the time.  Plus I don't run with my glasses on so I've gotten rather turned around in the suburban jungle I live next to.

Because my birthday and the break in my thesis writing have coincided I am spending a lot of time thinking about what I am going to do when I no longer have an academic goal to work towards.  Provided everything goes as planned I will graduate in December.  Then what am I going to do?  So I'm going to try to formulate some non-academic goals.  Nothing concrete at the moment, but it's the first time ever my identity will not be tied to my status as a student.  It's all a scary hazy blur, but I'm excited to see what new adventures it will hold.


Birthday in Paradise

It's my birthday!  Because I work tonight I have so far seen no other living soul save the UPS man who was delivering a package not to me but to my roommate (I still came close to opening the box.  What could she possibly want that came all the way from Texas?).  So I have spent the majority of my day working on this.

Nutkin by Beth LaPensee in Madelinetosh Sock, Cousteau

It feels appropriate to blog about this sock on my birthday because the yarn was an early present from my parents.  Last week my dad was in the hospital.  Yes, he is ok, and the waiting while he was in surgery was so tiresome that I knit an entire hat, but that is not the point of this story.  As anyone who has had a relative in the hospital can tell you, there comes a time when the patient just wants to be left alone and go to sleep.  So last Tuesday while my dad rested before a late discharge, mom and I went five minutes down road to the most glorious shop.

Really, the name says everything.  Yarn Paradise is one of those shops that seems to have enchanted a tiny house so that there really is no end to the yarn.  As soon as you go in the door you fall into a pile of Koigu, and the fun just continues from there.  Mom wanted to get me something from here for my birthday but the choices were so overwhelming that I hemmed and hawed for quite some time before suddenly I turned around and was presented with

An entire section of Madelinetosh.  Now I have seen Madelinetosh on the internet and heard many a podcaster extol its virtues, but I had never actually been in a shop that sold it.  Boy does it live up to the hype.  In addition to the yarn my mom bought, I also picked up a skein of Tosh Vintage in Steam Age, a lovely grey streaked with teal and purple that is destined to become  a cowl.

It wasn't the wool fumes, or the fact that I had not been in a yarn shop since May, that made me fall in love with Yarn Paradise.  It really is a lovely shop and its proprietors are that perfect blend of helpful and distant.  When they came to check on the loud crash that was me fainting from the sheer variety of sock yarn they just smiled, offered kindly to help if I had any questions, and then left me to my glee.  If you ever make it to Ashville, NC, you should really check it out.  Hopefully you'll be in the area to enjoy our area's lovely foliage rather than visit the hospital.


Emerging from the Knitting Pile

It's been a while since I've felt like blogging.  With the thesis coming due at the beginning of this month I just didn't have the energy to write outside of the hours I spent hammering out chapters.  You would not have wanted to read anything I had to say anyway, because it was all very self-absorbed whining about how much more I had to accomplish and how rediculous it was for me to decide to get this degree in the first place and how traffic in Raleigh was out to get me so that I was gone for over 10 hours a day when I should be home writing.

In any case, I'm done with the first draft now and am basking in the almost fall weather and the weird calm that has fallen on me since I turned it in last Friday.  But lest you worry I have not been knitting, never fear.  I have accomplished much in the panic-stricken moments between word sprints.

From top to bottom:
Spiral Tweed Cloche by Veronik Avery in Manos del Uraguay Wool Classica
Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos in CJ Kopek Creations Integrity
Autumn Vines Beret by Alana Dakos in Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Skinny Skid by Stephen West in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine and Dream in Color Starry
Cloudy Day Beret by Alana Dakos in Loop D Loop by Teva Durham Moss
Fledermaus-Tuch by Jana Albrecht in Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sock
Under the Cover of Midnight Hooded Cowl by Julie Turjoman in Cascade Eco +

Most of these haven't been entered into Ravelry yet (but should be soon!) because I did not have that kind of time.  To borrow a Knitmore Girl turn of phrase, I have not had the bandwith to do more than knit a few rows at a time.  Nor did  I have the mental capacity to do anything that would require a lot of thought, so I resorted to well-written patterns for smaller items.  The end result, as you can see, has been anxiously awaiting fall.

I actually have a sweater on the needles but I don't know if I'll go back to it any time soon.  There is a lot of editing and defense preparation coming up soon and I am rather enjoying the turnover rate of small projects.  It just needs to get colder.