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Archive for July, 2015

Talented Friends

This coming weekend two of my friends are opening in two different plays in Baltimore.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here before that years ago I was occasionally active in community theater, in several roles.  I’ve been stage-mom several times.  I’ve worked as stage manager (well, technically), lightboards, stage mom, santa-stripper, you name it.  I’ve made connections in  the OutOftheBlackBox Theatre and the Rude Mechanicals.  As it happens, I didn’t meet either of these particular friends through my own community theater connections, I guess it’s more or less a ‘small world’ sort of thing.

One of them is playing Motormouth Mabellle in the Purple Light Theatre Company’s production of Hairspray (note to self – go back and update that link when it’s no longer the ‘current production’).  The other is playing Falstaff in the Baltimore Shakespears Factory’s all female production of Henry IV, Part One.  I’m very excited for both of them, and can’t wait to watch them perform.

Now, I’ve seen Hairspray before, both the original film and the movie musical version.  I have to admit, though, that I’ve never actually seen Henry IV.  So I did what any supportive friend would do:

I tracked down the Chop Bard episodes dedicated to the play.

Podcast Love

Of course, then I realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve given some link love to podcasts I listen to.  So here are some quality podcasts, which are independently produced and still small enough that they might actually be helped by a little old fashioned name checking…

Chop Bard: Reminding us again and again that Shakespeare is not literature.  They’re plays, and they’re fun, not scary.  I found it through Craftlit.

Craftlit: Heather does deal with actual literature, and it’s also fun, not scary.  Also crafts.  I don’t remember how I actually came across this one, but I’ve been listening to her (and occasionally corresponding) for so long that I feel as though I actually know her.

Escape Artists Podcasts:  I started listening to Escape Pod waaaay back.  I mean before iTunes was a thing way back.  Great science fiction stories for fans, a pro-paying market for writers.  Now it’s been joined by Pseudopod and Podcastle, which do the same  things for horror and fantasy literature respectively.

The Happiness Patrol: Doctor Who fancast.  Often rude, crude and socially unacceptable.  Always fun.

My History Can Beat Up Your Politics:  We don’t have to be doomed to repeat it…

Knitting Pipeline: Knitting, nature, bagpipes, who could ask for anything more?

Prometheus Radio Theatre: Steve Wilson went to high school with my husband, so I’ve heard some interesting back story about the Traveller campaign where some of the Arbiters characters came from initially.  They’d be more than worth listening to even if I had not, though.

So how about you?  Any particular, non professionally backed, podcasts which could benefit from a little bit of shout-out love?  Any podcasts (or obscure procasts) you think I might enjoy?  I’d appreciate hearing about them, so please do comment.

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Now it can be Told

I have finished my “secret” project, and gifted it to my friend.

Snatchel

This is a Snatchel.  It’s a delightfully ‘naughty’ project from the Anticraft, which is always full of delightfully naughty.  I made it for a friend who is recovering from a hysterectomy, and put a bottle of Fireball, because, hey, everyone needs fireball.  I think she’ll be using it for a dicebag (the snatchel, not the Fireball).

Other FOs and WiPs

I finished the second Artful Infinity scarf, and have given it to my younger daughter.  She absolutely rocks it (as she does everything she wears).

Artful Infinity PhotobombThe not so goatty bag is coming along nicely (if slowly).  It really doesn’t look much different than the last picture I posted of it, but  I’m having fun playing mix and match with the motifs.

Mont Royal toesMy only other WiP right now is the Mont Royal socks. I’m playing around with my usual asymmetric toes.  Rather than my usual plan of increasing on both sides for the first few, then switching to only increasing on the outside of the socks, I’ve staggered it.  So the first few increases are on both sides of the sock, then the next few increases alternate between increasing on both sides and increasing on the outside only, then the final few are on the outside only.  I think it looks fine, and the CoBaSi yarn gives it a very crisp feel.

You can’t really tell from the picture, but I’ve just begun the chart. This is my first project using my new Knit PIcks magnetic chart board, and it will be the first one I use my new KnitPicks sock blockers with as well.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the Red Heart giveaway from Happily Hooked, or the Yarn Crush box from the Dainty Fawn blog.  No new giveaways today.

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Sometimes it works out that the afterthought project, the ‘I guess I’ll do this project just because I have to reduce my stash’, is the wild success of the season.  That’s what happened with the Artful Infinity Scarf turned out to be.

It’s a super easy project.  It’s attractive, in it’s own funky/scary way, and it shows off a yarn which might otherwise take over whatever it was made into…Artful Infinity 1and, apparently, it’s very stylish.  So stylish, in fact, that both girls wanted it for their own, which surprised me.  Honestly, I wanted this one for my own.

Fortunately, it’s a quick, easy crochet project, I have lots of yarn in my stash, and if I don’t use it to make these little babies it’ll be sitting in my stash for years, with me using up a few yards here and there to add a ‘pop of color’ to an otherwise dull project.

Steek Bait

Infinity 1I very rarely remake patterns.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it back to back before.  Certainly not with the same yarn.  This is such a quick project, though, that I’m not finding it problematic at all.

Here’s the first one, modeled by Abby (my eldest).

Looking at the picture, I’m not sure it solves the clown barf/muppet pelt problem, but it’s fun, she seems to like it, and her sister (who is actually fashion conscious) seems to like it as well.    So I guess it’s a win.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the Red Heart package from B Hooked.   I entered a Rafflecopter drawing for a box of goodies from Yarn Crush (23 July).

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The Sock Situation

(apology for the premature post…   edited and reposted)

As of this spring I had six pairs of wearable hand knit socks, plus one pair (my first) which was made from loosely spun merino and is… well,..  still comfy bed socks.  Then the summer hit, and it was quickly obvious that I needed a whole second batch for the warmer months.

So I knit the Picotty (which is done).

Picotty

Despite all the yarn issues I had, I think the colors are just beautiful. Now I’ve got to see if I can get used to the mesh inside shoes…

Inspiration for Next Socks

Argyle Grass

Argyle grass? Who knew?

 

So, avoid the wool.  Cotton is good, but not so springy as wool…  I was thinking of a wool-cotton blend in fingering, which isn’t so easy to find. But I did find this:

CoBaSiCobasi (by Hikoo), in Apple Green.  It’s COtton BAmboo SIlk and elastic.  The color works for sundrenched, freshly mown grass.  I really wanted a bright sunny green for the Mont Royal socks, so now they’ve been bumped up in the queue.

Yes, I know, yarn diet broken.   I was going to knit from stash until I got the yarn for my big sweater projects, but I’ve already ordered the cotton for one of them, so that’s all right, right?  Besides, I can’t make it all the way through the summer on one pair of hand knit socks, can I?  Not when I’ve been wearing the wool ones almost constantly for the rest of the year.

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!Surprise! Plans Change

Works in Progress

Almost as soon as I posted “Doing the Numbers (part 2)” I realized that I’d forgotten an important one.  The number of stitches for the goat motif was, in fact, pretty close to the number of stitches in the first skein of yarn.

Goatless Bag colorworkSomehow I must have thought that having two skeins of yarn involved would mean it was OK.  Since it’s stranded, and the background color will be used on all rows, I’d be cutting it too fine.  Not a big problem, I’ve found some lovely abstract motifs in the same book, they’re just smaller.

it’s going to look fantastic.

The Picotty is coming along fairly well.  I think it’s going to work, but I have two more rounds of crochet ribbing with splitty yarn, so I’m doing a bit at a time, even though I’m almost done.  I’ve really slowed down on it, because I was doing it in my ‘brainless knitting’ time, and the splittiness means it needs more concentration than that.

New Projects

So I started a new ‘brainless’ project.  Tamara Kelly’s Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf, using some recycled sari silk yarn I got on eBay some time ago.  It seems like the perfect pattern to handle the ‘clown barf’ problem and show off the yarn.

Artful Infinity wip

Modeled by my cat Comet, who decided that my photo surface was his…

I was planning on just having four WIPs, really, but I actually found the perfect recipient for a knitted gift I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  I’ll post pics, and details, at a later time, but the project uses bits of three or four yarns from my stash and one skein of novelty yarn which I’ll have to go hunting for.  Yes, I know, yarn diet and all, but I’ve already ordered the cotton yarn for one of the ‘big projects’ I wasn’t going to buy any more yarn before I got…  and I’m not going to need the novelty skein until the end, so that’s OK, right?

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Goat Bag

I’ve reknit the base of the bag, this time as a simple 60 x 38 rectangle.  That’s 2280 stitches.  Then I picked up stitches picked up stitchesaround the two short edges, and knit off the provisional cast on.  Obviously picking up edge stitches changes the direction of the knitting, and there is a clear demarcation.This is to be expected.

OGoat Bag Bottomn the other hand, I just got lazy with my provisional cast on, and didn’t worry too much about how it would look.  You can see the awkward line of stitches towards the bottom of the photograph to the left.

I considered frogging it back to the cast on yet again, but decided against it.  It’s The bottom to side transition on the long sides won’t match each other precisely, and the short side transition will be something else again, but given that this is going to be felted, and that the problem area is not going to be in an often viewed area of the bag, I’m not terribly bothered.  It’s something to remember for the next time, though.

Motifs

I’ve selected a couple of motifs from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 150 Scandinavian Motifs to work into this bag.  I have a total of 196 stitches in the circumference (slightly more than I should have if I were working the ‘ideal’ pick up ratio of 3/2, but that’s fine).   I worked out the prime factors of this, not because I’m a numbers geek* but because I need it to be able to work out the motifs I’ll be using.  It turns out that 196 is 2 x 2 x 7 x 7.

The first motif I used was a simple transition between the brown and gold-brown colors.  I knit five rounds of brown by which time I was definitely starting to run low.  If I’d be really  clever about it I would have weighed the remnants of the brown, but I wasn’t, so I’ll just have to guess at the end point.    The next round I knit one stitch of gold and six of brown, remembering to ‘catch’ the gold every fourth stitch  This should be enough to keep the floats from felting funny (or so my reading tells me.. we’ll see).  The next round I increased this to three gold stitches (centered around the one stitch) and four brown, no wrapping required.  The third round of the transition I knit five gold stitches (catching the brown in the third stitch) and two brown.  Then I cut the brown, and now I’m working in a gold background.

After three or five rounds I’ll start with the goat motif.  It’s 21 stitches long, so I’ll have  to add seven plain stitches between goats.

I’ve already picked out a 13 stitch flying bird pattern (for Flying Goat Farm, right?), which will fit beautifully.  I’ll have it flying above the goat’s back, so it will integrate into the top of the pattern without overlapping the colorwork.  That leave another black space, lower down in the pattern, which is about 18 x 4 stitches.  I’ll look for an abstract or flower motif to fill in that space, and I’m good to go.  I’ll have 7 repeats of a 28 stitch pattern.

This is going to be fun!

 

 

* OK, yes, I am a numbers geek, and that’s the kind of thing I do, but it’s also really handy to have in this case.

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It Feels like I’m Slowing Down

The Belle Greene was a surprisingly long project.  It took about a month to knit the body of the shawl, then three times that to work the beaded border.  So now I’ve only got two works in progress, and they are both a bit bogged (but more on them later).

I may feel like it’s a slog, but the fact is, I’ve started eleven projects since I cast on the shawl, and I’ve finished eight of them.  Two projects a month isn’t really dragging along.  When I think about it, I’m actually pretty pleased with myself.

Problems With the WIPs

I think what’s irritating me is is that the two projects I’ve got left have both got their own issues.  Well, one has an issue, for the other it’s more like a hiccup.

I’m just about done with the heel of the second picotty sock.  I’ve had to frog a bit (not a biggie) and the TOFUtsies yarn just frayed on me (much more annoying).  I’m not going to be looking for more of this yarn when the project is done.   Even that’s not the issue.  The issue is that the pattern calls for a larger crochet hook for the cuff, and I don’t have the right size.  I could jump three hook sizes, stick with the one I have, or go out and buy a new one.  I’m thinking I’ll try it with what I have on hand first, and if it doesn’t work I can certainly spring for a larger hook, but it’s a bit frustrating, and it does dampen my enthusiasm for the project.

The hiccup is with the Goat Bag.   There’s nothing wrong with the pattern I chose, I just realized I’d be playing Yarn Chicken with it, and I’m not in the mood.  There’s 100 stitches and 60 rows in the ‘base’ (40% of that is pocket).  When I was a third of the way done (about 2000 stitches) I looked at the dent in the yarn ball, and realized it was time for plan B.  So I frogged it all back, cast on 60 stitches (provisionally) and started to knit back.  If I knit 37 rows I’ll have (more or less) a golden rectangle.

What to Cast On Next

So here I am, two projects, four project bags, one yarn diet. It does seem like such a shame to keep both those bags empty. One empty bag feels like I’ve got potential to start a new project.  Two empty bags and I start to feel like I’m lagging behind.

Fortunately, I’ve got some great projects in my Ravelry queue, some challenging and some simple.  I’m probably going to start a new ‘no brain’ project fairly soon.  Here are some of the things I’m thinking about.  There’s a ‘Shawl for the Fall’ group in Ravelry which hosts a shawl knit along every year in August, so I’m going to hold back at least one shawl for that.

Tiger Lilly Swans IslandThis is Swans Island fingering in the Tiger Lilly colorway.  I bought this environmentally minded yarn at an online going out of business sale several months back. I’m thinking that this would look gorgeous in Very Busy Monkey’s Tesla shawl.

 

BOTI yarnI knit a Bigger on the Inside shawl before, then lost it.  At some point I will definitely replace it, using this yarn from Ashton Studios (which I got at Sheep and Wool last May).

The black has some pretty sparkly fibers in it, and will be awesome for the ‘vortex lace’ section and possibly the ribbed border as well.  The blue will be for the TARDIS lace section, although I think I will use the ‘Daleks and TARDIS’ variation.

 

sockbagI have a lot of random fingering weight remnants, and a great pattern called Octopush.  It’s a really neat toy.

I’m pretty sure it’s both a ‘mindless’ project and an ‘endless’ project.  I know I want to do it some time, and it really looks like I have enough yardage in enough different colors to make it work.

zombieyarnThis is another really fun yarn from Bohemia Fibers.  It’s their ‘Potluck Zombie Lace’ – a one of a kind variegated colorway which I found while I was looking for the sock yarn bag.

I had definitely remembered this as more of a ‘clown barf’ colorway, but it’s less vibrant than that.  It might work for a Citron shawl.

Of course, I do have some truly clown barf yarn – it’s recycled sari silk.  Amazingly there’s a pattern called “Artful Infinity Scarf” by Tamara Kelly which could make that work.

I’ve got a lot of beautiful yarn in my stash, but these are the ones I’m pretty sure what to knit with.  Shawls and scarves, so that might be a bit of a rut, but with one skein… I’ll let you know when I settle on the next project.

In Other Blogs

I never heard of Mad Man Knitting; until his recent slashdotting exposure on various mainstream outlets got picked up on Ravelry.  I picked up a copy of his patterns on Craftsy, and may buy his novel at some future time.  He seems like a good person, he’s had more than his share of bad luck, and who wouldn’t love “The Teddy Bear that Saved Me”?

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a giveaway for a Red Heart Swag Bag sponsored by B Hooked (15 July) and another Mooglyblog giveaway, this time for a Stitchen Stacy crochet hook (27 July)

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