Spazzzz

After staying up far too late last night researching ethical sources of clothing for plus-sized women (more on that later) I slept in, made some tea, cooked some eggs, sliced an apple and -BAM- sudden back spasm. I had never felt anything like it before. It felt like the worst charlie-horse you can imagine (which I get often in my calves and feet) but instead it was happening in my upper back, near the base of my ribcage, which made it difficult to even breathe let alone stand up straight. Thankfully the Fiasco was home to take care of me. He got me a heat pack right away and then ran out for some Aleve and Icy Hot patches (and some chocolate). It was a striking reminder of one reason why it’s a pretty good idea to shack up with someone: every once in a while your body is going to totally spazz out for no reason and it’s a wonderful thing to have somebody around to help, especially someone as selfless and sweet as my Fiasco. I am now safely set up on the couch where I will probably remain for the rest of the day guarded by kittens.

It’s not so bad and could definitely be worse, but this whole back spasm thing is still really cramping my style. We’re going to Tennessee next week to see my cousins graduate college and for a sort of mini family reunion/vacation. (Speaking of, any recommendations for sites to see or yarn stores to visit in Nashville?) I have an entire long list of things I wanted to do today in preparation of leaving… things like empty the fridge, clean the kitchen, pack a bag, etc. I’m trying really hard not to stress out about it. Things will get done, and if they don’t, well, we’ll just have some old lettuce and moldy cheese to deal with in the fridge when we get back. No biggie. 

I am kind of bummed to be missing out on a spinning event today. There’s an old historic building in my town called “Smith’s Castle” and this was opening weekend with a bunch of people dressed up in period costumes and a bit of a festival going on where my spinner’s guild were going to spin. Here’s what I was GOING to work on, out in the sunshine on this beautiful Sunday:

Gradient-dyed BFL

I started on the purple-blue-green braid of my June Pryce Fiber Arts gradient-dyed fiber a couple of weeks ago but have barely had any time to work on it since. Hopefully I’ll get back to it soon, it’s a real pleasure to spin and I’m excited to get through the color changes.

Instead of all my plans, I think I’ll tackle this:

Hello, my old, holey friends.

 That, dear readers, is a rather daunting pile of handknit socks that need darning. The poor Fiasco has been living with only a single pair (his Fiascos, of course) because he blew holes in his other two pairs. My mom also blew a hole in one of her pairs of handknit socks and I need to fix it before I see her next week. And the rest are mine, which apparently prove that I put a lot of weight/friction on the ball of my foot and/or the back of my heel, since the fabric rubs through to nothing in those places. As much as I love Socks That Rock, and I do truly love the yarn, the Merino wool does eventually wear through after a couple of years of wear, especially if you’re not particularly gentle with them. I handwash all my socks but I still wear the heck out of them: walking on carpet, hiking in boots, attacked by kittens, etc. I’m considering adding reinforcement thread to the soles of my socks, or knitting with two strands of yarn, or duplicate stitching the ball of the foot, or going down a needle size on the sole, or something. I’m not a super tight sock knitter, I only achieve 7 or 8 sts/inch depending on the thickness of the yarn on size 1 needles, and I’m loathe to go down to size 0’s or smaller to knit them with, so I might have to just thicken the soles somehow. Any suggestions? Have you had luck with any sock strengthening techniques?

Finally, I made a discovery today:

This is my cat on drugs.

Whatever is in Icy Hot must be similar to catnip because Calypso is going all blurry-faced-crazy over the heat pack I’ve been leaning against for the past few hours. Silly, crazed kitty.

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Off

I’m off for the weekend, folks. Going to journey into the vast and terrible unknown to slay some metaphorical dragons. This is to inform you that I did not have time to prepare an Inspiration Saturday post beforehand, I apologize! Hopefully one or two of you will keep the ritual going, I’m sure we can all use a little extra inspiration in our weekends.

Instead, I’ll leave you with a cute kitten picture (for fortitude, of course):

Cautious snuggling!

Good vibes would be appreciated as I venture off with nothing but a bit of Malabrigo to maintain my strength… See you on the other side!

Silly Darwin

This kitten gets me into trouble.

Who, me?

I ordered a few things from Knit Picks with a gift card I had, since I needed to replace a pair of needles that the aforementioned kitten went to town on and since I’ve been wanting to work up some of my designs in Knit Picks yarn to publish through their independent designer program. One of the yarns I was particularly excited about trying was their City Tweed DK.

The loot.

As evidenced in the bag of loot above, I ordered 3 balls of the tweed yarn. However, when I opened the package, I only saw 2. I searched all around the couch, under the blankets, on the floor and still could only find 2 balls. I called Knit Picks and they were ever so apologetic and agreed to send a replacement ball right away.

Then I glanced across the room to see Darwin gleefully playing with the missing ball of yarn, looking for all the world like the stereotypical kitten-with-ball-of-yarn image. I then sheepishly called Knit Picks back and explained that I had found the yarn, my kitten had stolen it before I’d even seen it while the phone operator laughed and laughed.

The false face of innocence.

It was quite embarrassing but at least we all know now that Knit Picks is very nice about this sort of thing!

White As Snow

Here in Rhode Island, we got quite a bit of snow over the weekend and lost power (and thus heat) for a couple of days. What does one do during such dire conditions, you ask?

Gaze out the window at the sugar-dusted greenery.
Watch your Fiasco leap over the snow pile the plow made behind your apartment.
Watch your Fiasco shiver.
Spin a bit (and spin some more later by candlelight!)
Observe Calypso’s ‘come no closer, buddy’ sidelong glare aimed at the ever-growing Darwin.
Try out your “it’s 50 degrees INSIDE look” and thank wool you’re a knitter.
Go for a brief, brisk walk and admire the wintry woods…
And the little frozen creek you never noticed before…
And some of your fine-looking designs in the wild! (Dissipative Cowl on me, Giving Comfort hat on him.)
Finally, finish a lovely commissioned knit! (More on this later.)

How did you fare this weekend?

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #14

Is it just me, or did today feel more like Friday than Wednesday? Hello, 4-day-weekend, am I glad to see you! I’m totally not complaining. Wanna see some WIPs?

Ever More Ribbons:

Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Azules

That is a terrible photo of the knitting but an adorable photo of Darwin, so I kept it. Thanks to an extra-long conference call today, I finished one of the pair of my Beribboned Wrists and started the second. These are my leave-at-work knit because they are simple and I can just knit a row here and there when I have a second without messing anything up. I anticipate having a pair of these on the needles continuously for a while, people have been chatting them up on facebook and I’m being convinced to open an Etsy shop and sell them… but probably not until after the new year. Too many deadlines!

Dragonfly Fibers Traveller, colorway Riptide

In addition to the secret knitting I ‘showed’ you last time, I have another secret design on the needles using yarn from Dragonfly Fibers. Kate uses similar yarn bases as The Verdant Gryphon and Cephalopod Yarns and is another Maryland-based indie dyer. I don’t know what they put in the water down in Maryland but it sure makes for some talented and creative fiber artists with great color sense, and I’m grateful for it!

Mystery Cowl:
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SPOILER ALERT: If you are taking part in Star Athena’s Mystery Cowl KAL and don’t want to be spoiled, you should probably stop reading now. (Bye!)
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BMFA De-Vine, colorway Smokey Mountain Morn

This was a total impulse project. I saw the post about the mystery KAL, knew that I liked Star’s sock design I’d recently knit, had been thinking about making myself a new cowl, and once I heard the word “discount” (10% off the yarn with purchase of the pattern) I jumped at the chance to justify trying this new-to-me bulky yarn: De-Vine from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The yarn is crazy cool and different from anything I’ve knit with before.

Here’s the website description:
    “Thirty six singles spun fine then 2 plied, then 4 plied, then take 8 of those sets of 4 ply and twist. DeVine!  Soft with a bounce and spring. DeVine takes color like our sock yarn, all bright and glorious.”

How crazy is that, right? It has a dense, almost velvety texture. It’s really nice. And the pattern is simple and fun so far. It involvs linen stitch and herringbone stitch, both of which are pretty rough on the hands (especially on size 15 needles!) but work so well with the variegated colorways of Blue Moon that it’s worth it. You can read more about the KAL in Star’s Ravelry group.

One more beauty shot…

That’s most of the knitting I’m actively working on right now. I’m looking forward to some seriously focused knitting-and-blog-reading time this weekend, I feel so behind! I normally travel to Long Island for the holiday but the Fiasco and I are staying in CT this year. We’ll spend Thanksgiving with his family and then spend the rest of the weekend packing our apartment up because we’ll be moving to RI the following weekend! It’s not a very far move but it is an exciting one because it means we 1) gain about 400 square feet of space (yaaaaaay) and 2) lose 45 minutes off my current commute (double yaaaaay). While I’ll miss seeing my family very much, it will be good to get ahead on things around here. I hope you all have a good holiday!

Lickity Split

Hello, folks! I’m going to be blogging quickly today because I’m on a deadline but I’ve missed thinking/talking/writing about knitting so here’s what I’ve been up to!

A bit of holiday gift knitting:

Cascade 220 Superwash

This is a simple 2×2 rib hat for my little cousin. It warms my heart how much he loves the hats I make him, but I have to use superwash because his first hat got accidentally washed. I hate the lack of bounce that superwash yarns have sometimes, they can feel so lifeless, so I held the yarn double and it made a nice squishy fabric. That makes 6 holiday gifts down, 10 more to go! (They’re small… but it will be a close finish.) And that makes my 17th out of 50 Year of Projects goals completed! My list of goals has been evolving and has grown to much longer than 50 projects, so my revised goal is not necessarily to finish the entire list, but rather to just finish 50 things off that list.


A bit of secret design knitting:

Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorways Ghost Moth and Blue Ringed Octopus

I can’t tell you much about this except ahhhhh I love this color combo!

A bit of swatching for a good friend’s impending tiny human (Bridgi, don’t look!):
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Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Archangel

This is going to be a Sylvan Afghan, designed by my Ravelry friend, Erica. It’s a great pattern with lots of options and detailed instructions to help you make exactly the blanket you want! I’m going to alternate strips of leaves in the colorway pictured with a lime green and undyed color. It should match the crib set pretty nicely.


Finally, Darwin wanted to say hello:

Blurry but cute!

That’ll have to hold me over for a bit. I’m hoping I have more time next week to blog. But for now, back to writing about science!

Wanna Knit-Along?

I went to Stitches East yesterday and had a fabulous time, but haven’t had the chance to upload pics yet. So, in the meantime, why don’t you join me for some Beribboned knitting?

I’ve recently become a moderator for a shiny new group on Ravelry that is intended to be a place where newer designers who are just starting  out or who maybe don’t have a group of their own yet can host knit-alongs or crochet-alongs for their published and tested patterns. I think it will be a really fun place to find a variety of projects being worked on that you might not have noticed before. I’m hosting a Beribboned KAL there that runs from now until 12/31/2012.

My current pair in progress, using Malabrigo Worsted in Natural.

You don’t need to be a member of the group to KAL (although we’d love to have you!) and you can knit either the wristwarmers/mitts (free) or the hat (10% off with coupon code found in the KAL thread) to qualify. At the end of the event I will randomly chose a winner from those who finished their projects to receive a $20 gift certificate to either Cephalopod Yarns or The Verdant Gryphon (winner’s choice!), the two companies whose yarns I used for the design samples.

Darwin wants to knit along, too!

As I’ve mentioned previously, I think both the mitts and the hat are quick, fun little knits that would make great gifts (the holidays approach!) and the patterns are flexible allowing you to use either DK or worsted weight yarn. I’ve recently taken to wearing the hat with the ribbon to the back, like a fun little secret. The wristwarmers are the first things I grab when I’m chilly but want my hands free for typing/knitting because having my wrists covered really warms me up . I hope some of you choose to join in, I’d love to see how your projects turn out!

Quick! Quick!

If you’ve been itching to get your fingers on some of The Verdant Gryphon’s new yarn, Mondegreen, the time is now!

Photo from The Verdant Gryphon website.

Remember, this is the lovely 60% BFL wool, 20% silk, 20% camel blend worsted weight yarn that I used for my Beribboned Hat design. (Which is on sale for 10% off on Ravelry for another 2 weeks with the code ‘yayseptember’, fyi.) It would work just as well for my free Beribboned Wrists pattern, too, which has been going around to various knitters through VG’s super fun Nomadic Knitting project. It has nice twist and density from the BFL, a lovely sheen from the silk, and softness from the camel that counteracts some of the wool’s potential scratchiness. It’s really, truly lovely. Since today is the first day this yarn is available, it will probably sell out quickly, so I’d jump on it if I were you (and not saving for Rhinebeck, sigh).  But fear not, it will be available for the next 6 months and there will be plenty of loveliness to go around.

Is there anything more exciting than lovely, delicious new yarn? Perhaps… I’m pretty psyched that my new kitten Darwin and older cat Calypso are finally getting along:

A tenuous peace.
We can haz friendly relashunz?

I’m quite proud of my kitties, actually. It took a full week but Calypso is tolerating him much better than before. Darwin still needs to learn some limits but he’s responding pretty well. Yay for peace!

Patience…

The feline relations at Shoelaceswitcher Central are ever-so-slowly progressing. Despite the occasional hiss, I cracked the door open between the worlds of Calypso and Darwin to allow them to see/sniff each other through about an inch of space. After a while of this, Calypso wanted to come out into the room so I scooped up Darwin and invited Calypso to explore. Step-by-glacial-step, she went around the room sniffing things and eyeing me warily. Then she went back into her room and ignored us for a while.When I went in to pet her, though, she smelled Darwin on my hands and hissed at me. However, I still think that’s progress, since she wasn’t panicking like she was yesterday. This is going to take a while because Calypso is so timid. Darwin, on the other hand, is afraid of absolutely nothing.

Door crack? Big hissing cat? I don’t care!
I might be fuzzy but I’m FIERCE!

He is a little bit of a velcro kitten. I’ve never had a cat that wanted this much attention. He purrs nonstop, to the point where it’s weird if I DON’T hear him purring. And he absolutely always wants to be near and/or on me. He is developing a bit of an unpleasant propensity to leap onto my back and claw his way up to my shoulder so he can literally get in my face when I’m busy doing other things like cooking dinner or sitting at the computer. I’m not sure how to fix that, really. (Do you?)

Darwin’s favorite place… a.k.a. in my face.

He is a cutie, though, and I suppose there is worse behavior to deal with than wanting love.

As far as knitting goes, I’ve done less since since I’ve been off work than I used to do while working, which is crazy. I need to prioritize it more, I think. I’ve learned that I’m not great at relaxing. Knitting and chilling out during the day is just foreign to me. Also, I’m not sure what’s gotten into me lately, but I’ve really got the urge to finish everything. All the WIPs! Finished! I want them done! I know Start-itis is a real affliction, but I did not know that Finish-itis could be, too. I’ve (clearly) never had it before. When I have been knitting, I’ve been working solely on my Color Affection shawl, but I had to stop because I ran out of the undyed Bugga. A wonderful Raveler is sending me some more, though, thankfully. In the meantime, I’ve dug out this old WIP:

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Painted Damsel

This is the Shaelyn Shawl designed by Leila Raabe that I started last September. I modified the pattern by knitting it with two skeins of Bugga held double and by increasing on the wrong side as well, to make it wider and shallower. I stalled out on knitting this one because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn left to do another stockinette section and lace repeat, so I was debating just continuing the lace pattern to make a wider edging. I’m still not sure what I’ll do, to be honest, but I think I’ll do a bit more stockinette and see how the yardage plays out before deciding. These rows will probably feel pretty short after the Color Affection shawl.

What would you do?


Epic Cuteness

We got our new kitten last night and he is absolutely adorable. 🙂 Internet, meet Darwin:

He is a fluffy, friendly little purr machine. He has settled in quite nicely to his new home but Calypso is Not Happy about this arrangement. We attempted showing Darwin to her while he was still in the carrier and she got all hissy. So we’re keeping them separated for now. She is currently hiding under the bed shunning me. Hopefully she’ll warm up soon.