Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Photos- and a Vacation!

Today I finally got a chance to photograph some of my projects in real actual daylight. My Imitation Hawaiian Diamonds pullover now has nice pictures- it really does look so much better being worn than sitting on it's own!

I also got a photo of the little ruby red shrug I made out of that incredible mulberry merino yarn. It is so hard to photograph the colour red!

I've started a new sweater, too. I went and bought a bunch of cascade 220 and have chained on (is that the crochet equivalent to a cast on?) for a simple raglan pullover with a cable up the front and possibly a sweetheart neckline.

I have been decorating my front table. The cats were wine bottles- the wine was ok, but it was reasonably priced and I got these pretties to keep! The silver candleholders were my grandmothers, and the two bottles are some really kickin' Jones Soda bottles that I had to keep. The christmas candles, which I've been too lazy to put away, maybe because they're so pretty, were from Andrew's family. I also have my two aloe plants I got from my friend Mary and my poinsettia which I thought I'd killed when we went away for christmas, but is fighting back to life!
And come on, you gotta love the little dollar store pink elephant watering can!

The exciting thing that happened to me this week is planning the vacation! Neither of us have been and we're planning on doing all the tourist things, as well as nerdy things. Nintendo store and Toys 'R Us anyone?

I have also plotted out yarn stores in the city... Habu Textiles is walking distance of our hotel! I was looking at knitmaps (the existence of which threw my boyfriend enough!) when we were deciding on hotels and looking at all the yarn shops. My boyfriend said "Yes, we can go to a yarn shop while we're there." Very sweet- but like there was a question! If there's a yarn store, I'm going!

I'm really looking forward to it, though. We've been on trips together before, but this is the first time we've gone on a big trip just the two of us.

I decided I needed a new purse- I've been wanting a dark brown leather messenger style bag for awhile, and my normal purse is huge. It's perfect for bringing my lunch to work and having everything in there, but I want a smaller purse for this trip and for summertime when I don't need to shove a giant scarf and mitts and a hat in it.

I looked all over the Eaton Centre, up to the Winner's at College and back down... then went back to the mall and into some shops I'd missed.
Then I found it- more than I wanted to spend, but perfect. Just exactly what I wanted.
(You can see the sock I'm making in there!)

I've never spent so much on a bag before (after tax it was 100$... ah! But we have a Bentley club card from getting luggage, so I can go back and get a 15% discount, whew). I love it, though, and I intend to make it last a long time.
I think it's going to be difficult adjusting to a much smaller purse, but I think it's about time I did. My old purse was like a duffel bag! Sure, I could keep 3 wips in there no prob, but it did get a little heavy.

We hop on the bus this Saturday- I'm so excited!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Being Busy

Work is kinda crazy right now. For me, it's partly doing the easy stuff I've been doing for awhile now, partly figuring out complex simulation stuff that I just learned to do a couple of weeks ago. For my boyfriend, it's a temporary lay off while contracts get sorted out. And of course, I'm done at the end of the week.
The good news is that we're planning a trip to New York City since we'll both have time off! I'm pretty excited- neither of us has been. We're going to take the bus since it's really pretty cheap. It's an11 hour trip, so I will definitely be bringing along some projects. I just started my Romantic Wrap today- it's gonna take a looong time to finish (I'm working it in even finer gauge than called for) so that will be on the hooks for the trip. I'm also planning on finding some yarns stores- yarn is the perfect souvenir!

No pictures right now- this weekend I was caught between being busy and sick and just didn't have time. I'm still sick and I seem to be getting home late from work so that there isn't much sun left by the time I get in. Once I'm feeling better I can take pictures of all the stuff I've been working on- mostly wips. My shawl, the wrap and a laceweight mohair top I've been working on. All stuff that's gonna take awhile.

But I'm impatient! So I decided tonight that I'd make up something I'd been meaning to make that I could finish really quickly. I am now the proud possessor of a sparkly red beret. I made it using random stitches and doing basically what I felt like- I wanted simple, no pattern, just easy fun crocheting.
I like the results, though I must admit when I get to the decreases in a beret, I always think that the flat part on top is way too huge! It is nice to have a red hat- now that my hair is black, red looks really nice against it. The pink hair was not so much flattering to red hats!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blocking Wires and Heels

I came home today to find my blocking wires here! They were packed in a giant box with a bunch of paper inside to prevent the tube of the kit from shaking around.
A tube. A very sturdy cardboard tube. You know, the kind you ship stuff in? Yeah, they packed that in a box. Surely that could have been mailed on it's own- but I digress.
It's exciting! I blocked out the shawl/scarf I made ages ago. I love it and wear it often- it's so lightweight and still very warm. Since I hadn't blocked it, it was curling up and growing longer and narrower every time I wore it.

Weaving the wires took awhile- it's 800m of yarn, after all.

I found out that I'm a very aggressive blocker. Not too surprised. I've fixed a few things in the blocking since these pictures- that bendy looking part on the one blue stripe is now not bendy, but otherwise it's sitting on my living room floor looking like this.
For reference, it's about 2 1/4 yardsticks/metersticks (they're comparable). Yup, it's gonna be a big soft fluffy piece of wonderful. I love it in the winter as a scarf and I think I'm gonna love it in the summer as a shawl. It's so light and warm and sparkley, too!
This morning on my subway/bus ride to work, I was crocheting as usual. I started in on the heel of my sock, just to see how it would go. I finished it, but even before I did I was thinking "this isn't good, this is not going to work". I finished it off and sewed it up anyway- but I left the end out.

I tried them on when I got home today, and sure enough they sucked. They only end up being 6 rows or so, which amounts to 12 when sewn up. Not enough. I guess I have big heels, or I just like room in my heels (I looked up other people's projects on Rav, and at least one person agreed with me. I felt better, and justified).
I pulled the heel out and am planning to work it differently. The method in the book called for 2 dec at either side of the row every row. I'm going to do only one per row, and I think I might work two rows even at the beginning. We'll see. A heel isn't so much work that I really mind pulling it out and working it again. At least for the first time or two, that is. Besides, I really want these socks to end up nice- they'll be comfy every day socks and the pattern is cool enough I'll enjoy showing them off.

I stopped at the library one my way home to see some artwork from one of my former college professors that was up on display. While I was there, I of course checked out the crochet book section. There were only a handful or books, of course. Maybe a 1/4 of the amount of knitting books, and only two garment books. One of them I own and one was of no interest to me.

I brought these three home to check out. These are all tip and stitch books. I've looked through them and got a few interesting ideas and picked up a tip or two I will use in future projects.

I also looked up the whole city's database for crochet books. The one that interested me most was a copy of the Vogue crochet stitchionary that's at the reference library. You can't check it out, but mostly I just want to see if it's worth buying. I do want to have one really solid book of stitch patterns.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pretty Yarn and Silly Yarn

I was back at work today after my awesome 4-day weekend. I really enjoyed the whole thing, but after lazy napping whenever I wanted and the DST change, going back was tiring. Still, I had a day where I actually figured things out and had challenges, which was fun.

I decided to head up to Mary Maxim on my way home to see if I could find more of the sock yarn I was using. They were sadly all out, though. They had a different colour, so I grabbed it. The pinks in the two yarns are the same, so I'm going for totally silly socks and doing the heels in the opposing colours.
Who knows how they'll turn out, but it should be fun! They do look somewhat clown like anyway, in a way I like. The entrelac is fun- sort of a mini-tunisian crochet thing, but it's fairly slow going. Well, you do so much at once that it really isn't, but it seems like it.

While I was at the yarn store, I decided to grab some skeins that called my name last time I was there. I felt this yarn before and it was so soft and gorgeous, but out of my budget. Since I've had a bit of extra money, I decided now was the perfect time to grab some. Of course, the question was, what colour and what do I make?

I really wanted to make something that would touch skin. This yarn is too soft to be a hat- I was thinking more cowl or gloves. Then I saw this gorgeous ruby colour and decided that it would be perfect as a little shrug over some of my summer dresses.

The yarn is Diamond Yarn Mulberry & Merino- 50% merino, 50% mulberry silk. Yummm! It's staining the bamboo hook I got with it a little bit, but it's gorgeous. I can't get mad at it! And my very first all bamboo hook is working perfectly with it. The grippyness of the hook is good with the soft slipperyness of the silk.
I'm working it in a simple open pattern to get as much as I can out of the yarn. They only had 3 skeins- and that was about my budget limit, too. That's less than 300 yards, so simple and open it is!

I'm planning on a ribbed border around the front and sleeves. We'll see how much yarn I have for that! I'm almost through the first skein and have almost finished the back, so I'm thinking I'll have a nice bit of ribbed band. This is one time where I wish I could work scblo ribbing like you work knitted ribbing, so I could just keep going 'til I ran out of yarn! Still, it'll look good.

I came home to find that my Paton's order had arrived. Sort of. I got this big but not very long box and was kinda confused. No way could blocking wires fit in that, right? Yup, no blocking wires. Just a big old box with lots of packaging... and one tiny little booklet. It's beautiful, but where are my blocking wires? I've emailed them so hopefully I will soon know.

Maybe they had to send them separately- after all, they sent this part in a giant box when a little bubble mailer would have done, so maybe they're sending the blocking wires in a refrigerator box.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Pain of the Frogging...

I had to frog a lot today. I tried not to. Oh, did I try not to! I don't like to frog. It's giving in and saying that I made a mistake- but more than that, it's a lot of work and I'm so extremely lazy.

I'm working on entrelac socks. It's pretty fun as I've never tried entrelac before. I finished the body of the first sock and chained the heel space and started in on the pattern.

And then I tried them on. Oh yes, you can see where this is going.

The heel chain was too tight. Too tight by a lot. It hurt my foot. I kept trying to stretch things out, hoping that would be ok. I even kept going for awhile, pretending it was gonna be fine.
I mean, I was this far already!

But this morning I woke up to the truth. I needed to pull them back and redo the heel space if they were ever going to be comfortable. I tried to pretend again- I start the first round of the heel, and of course that made no difference. So I sighed and began to frog.

Then I added a few more rounds to the body of the foot and made the heel chain, and made that heel chain as loose as I could.
I'm back to the end of the first entrelac row. I'll catch up to where I was soon enough, and this time, they fit.
I don't think I have enough yarn for a second, though, so I might have to go back and hope there's still more of this on clearance! Otherwise I'll just have to make mismatched socks.

In better news, my pullover is dry and looking nice, and my gray mitts are still making me happy, which means they're done. No more adding to them- just done done done!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Current Projects and Good Buys!

Yesterday I gave my sweater a very lazy block. I didn't intend for it to be so lazy, but I ended up deciding that it didn't need more. After all, it's so very drapey when I wear it. It's still drying, so no pictures of how it looks yet- which be assured is nicer than this when worn!

My nephew's baby sweater project is coming along. I've finished the back and front pieces. Need to start on the arms, although I think I'm going to run out of yarn once I get through one. Gee, darn. More yarn buying!

Speaking of more yarn buying, I felt so good yesterday. I was so grown up and responsible! I went to the bank and set up an RRSP and a TSFA. I mean, how very adult, yes?
So of course, I stopped at the Value Village on the way home as a treat. Just for books, you know. But I had to check out the yarn section just in case. Not that I would buy any. Really.

This is what I came home with. About 15 balls of yarn- for 25$. Some of it is pretty plain- the Wool-ease, the Vanna's Choice. Still, they were so cheap and they are very useful. There were some beauties in there- the freedom wool, the super sparkly red yarn (I've been looking for shiney red yarn!) and the belle of the ball, the kid mohair.

Lookit her! She's gorgeous. I fell in love when it was in the little bag in the store, and then when I brought it home- wow! It was starting to felt together just the slightest, but it really wasn't that bad when I caked it. I did wind it twice- once to get it all apart and then again to get a nicer, looser tension on the ball. I could have stood to do it again because I didn't get the most even tension, but I couldn't stand the thought of rewinding 800 m yet a-freakin'-gain.

(I paid 1.99!)

After a most awesome stitch night, in which I finally finished my grey fingerless gloves to a proper length, I came home and decided to wind more. These poor little balls were also thrift store finds. I love the colour but hadn't gotten around to doing anything with them.

Everything I got that day was caked so tight. The poor yarn feels like it's suffocating! The ball on the right is what the three balls on the left started as. It was so tight that even when I had almost re-caked the entire ball, the old ball still stood stiffly on it's own. The yarn looks so happy now. I need to recake a few more, but the ones I have done just look so much more appealing.

Today I want to get some work done on my socks, but I have an important baking adventure to go on first!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Long Weeks and Rainy Weather

This has been a busy few days for me. Sunday we went out to a new brunch place. Our favorite one just closed it's doors (tears of woe!) and this new one was nice... but just not the same! On the way back we stopped and I got a new shelving unit for the computer room to organize my art corner of doom. It looks so good in here now- and everything is right where I can grab it.

(I love the kindergarten-y look, not to mention what looks like a yarn waterfall down the side!)

I also finished my new pullover this weekend and wore it to work Monday. I need to block it, but it's fallen off my radar as it's really a spring/summer kind of sweater.

Monday night I set out on a voyage to find out if I could get the Romantic Wrap pattern somewhere in town (and therefore instantly, curse my impatient heart). I started at the Eaton Center for another errand- a new mouse for my computer.

Then I headed to the top end of the city to Micheal's, where I didn't find the pattern but I did find some Kroy sock yarn on sale in a very appealing blues and greys colourway as well as some Red Heart soft in a perfect wine colour for the steampunk cuffs and collar. It was on for only 2.50$ a skein- how could I resist?

My last stop was Walmart at the Dufferin Mall. No luck on the pattern there, and I stopped myself from buying any more yarn. Groceries I did get- kiwi strawberry yogurt, bacon and avacados among other treats and necessities. Yummy.
(Last time I went to Walmart, I got mats for blocking. I love them!)

Of course, after all that and not finding the pattern book, I finally gave in and ordered it. But I couldn't just order that and pay that much shipping for a little booklet that would cost nothing to ship! So I looked around the site 'til I found something I need- blocking wires. They were a few dollars more than Knitpicks, but since I needed to add something to make the shipping worth it, that was fine. I'm excited as I have several projects that could stand a really good blocking but need wires to stay properly shaped.

Yesterday night I came home to find my book order from Amazon already here. I do love their shipping. I dove right into the Callum Pullover for my nephew. I'm making it in blue with yellow as an accent and green for the details. It's so sweet, and I love the way the pattern is written. The yellow is so sunshiney, too. It's hard not to love it!

I also made a pair of long fingerless gloves for work. I used the Berrocco Flicker I got this weekend and I am quite please with them.

The pattern was super simple, not even truly a pattern. I just did a fsc row about the width of my wrist, work a few even rows, added a thumb gusset by inc 2sc twice one stitch apart in the same place for 5 rows. After working even until the gloves hit just above where the thumbhole should be, I skipped an appropriate amount of stitches for a thumb hole the next round and worked straight 'til they were long enough for my hands and went back and worked a few rows for the thumb. Next I went to the other side of the foundation chain and started working backwards, just increasing when I needed to. There's a bit of a gap at the chain, but I don't mind. Next time I'll only work one even row before the thumb gusset so it's right at the wrist. Then I can add some details!

I decided on the way to work that they weren't long enough, so I added a ribbed cuff with FP and BP DC's. They still aren't quite as long as I want- I want my entire forearm comfortably covered so I can wear half and three quarter sleeves without touching the cold desk at work. I'll be adding to the cuff soon enough.
(Wore my clapochet to work today. It's so snuggly in the bad weather!)

Speaking of work, I have the next two days off! I'm really excited. I only have until next Friday on this contract, though, so it's not as awesome as it could be. A short vacation is more fun when it won't be followed by a possibly long unpaid one. I did just start a project at work that they might hire me back on to finish, though. I've got my fingers crossed- I love that place.

Hopefully lots of pictures tomorrow since I'll be home during the day!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yarn Crawl!

Today I went on an awesome adventure with my stitch 'n' bitch friends. We decided to do a yarn crawl through some of Toronto's yarn stores.

We started at the Purple Purl, one of my favorites. It's near where I work and has yummy yarn, yummy food and a great area to sit and pull out a projects- not to mention it's incredibly crochet friendly and has a nice selection of books.

The other gals had snacks- I stole some of Sarah's delicious smore square. It was incredible and oh-so-sugary and something that I could far to easily make into a habit. I ended up walking out with two skeins of louet Riverstone in pink that was on sale. I'm gonna make another Stone Path Hat out of it. I made my best friend one in turquoise from the same yarn, and once I finish this I should have enough to make a third in stripes. I'm excited!
I also picked up a bamboo handled hook (ooh, I love it!) and Natural Crochet for Babies and Toddlers. I have a new nephew, and I am just dying to make him cute sweaters and things. I will probably make most of the stuff out of acrylic, because let's face it, babies are messy and washing machines are wonderful. The patterns are adorable though.

(At the coffee shop- my louet, my ella rae and my filatura with the knitted cup cozy!)

After lunch we went to the legendary Romni. I was looking for pretty laceweight to make a shawlette of some kind, and was tempted by so many. Some Malabrigo almost won me until I found the most amazing Ella Rae Lace Merino. The colourway is all pinky-purpley-blues and the skein was just amazing. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I had to take it home. I don't regret it in the least! I also picked up some Filatura Di Crosa Golden Line Nirvana. It's a lovely white laceweight I plan to use for the Romantic Wrap. Now I just have to see if I can find the pattern booklet. I can order it online, but I don't want to pay 7$ shipping for a 4$ booklet.

(The new yarn I adopted. Isn't it beautiful?)

We stopped briefly at Americo and then went to a coffee shop next to Lettuce Knit. My tea came in a glass with a little knitted cozy! It was too cute. After our rest, we continued on to Lettuce. The new store is really bright and lovely and charming. I was wavering- thinking about enough to make another shawlette but couldn't decide when my mother called me. I talk to her when I can, but it was something of a surprise to hear from her. We chatted a bit as I wandered around petting things and falling in love with various yummy yarns. Eventually I had to hang up so I could say goodbye to everyone and make my choices, and she told me she had news. I guess my parents decided to give some of what they inherited from my Grandmother's estate to my brothers and I. It's kind of amazing- it's not a gigantic amount of money, but being just out of college, it's more than I've had at once and it's pretty incredible.

Needless to say, I went and grabbed a few lovely skeins of yarn that had been tempting me- some beautiful sparkling Berrocco Flicker and a little skein of Lorna's Laces in an amazing yellows and oranges and pinks colourway. I know my Grandmother would approve! I can be sensible with most of it- helping my boyfriend to pay off his student loan is something I've been wishing I could do, and we need a new couch... but who could resist the temptation when you get that phone call in the middle of a yarn store. If that's not meant to be, then I don't know what is! I must admit- it's probably a good thing she didn't call while I was in Romni!

I am loving my new yarns. Generally I buy less expensive stuff and tend to work with acrylic. Don't get me wrong, I love my acrylic and it's my fibre of choice for a sweater. Laundry sucks, and having to handwash is not my favorite thing. But yummy yarns for smaller projects, stuff that doesn't need frequent washings? Yes please!

I also ordered a bunch of pattern books from Amazon I've been waiting to get my hands on. Everyday Crochet, Contemporary Crochet and Baby Blueprint Crochet. I can't wait to get my hands on them. They're such inspiring books.

This is what's on my hook now. Well, the one that's my priority now. Oh boy do I want to dig into my Ella Rae Lace... but not until I finish this sweater! It's a copy of a gorgeous knit sweater I saw on Ravelry, and this is the top. Once I block it, you'll be able to see a bit of a diamond pattern. The yarn for the top is Knitpicks Chroma in Galapagos- the bottom and accents are King Cole DK merino blend in black.

What a day! We finished it off by meeting up tonight for "Yarneoke". Singing loudly with a bunch of yarn nuts after a day of shopping is very satisfying, and there's nothing like ending a kareoke session with Ghostbusters!

Now I'm off to get in a few rows on that sweater before bed... I want this baby ready to wear Monday morning!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Share the Crochet Love

I've been an avid crocheter for years now. It's become part of my life, and it's something I hate to miss even for a day. It's soothing and fun, it's making beautiful things, it's making inexpensive and useful things, it's buying treat yarn and the joy of searching for just the right pattern.
Crochet has a bad rep in some ways. So many people think of nothing but dainty doilies and ugly granny squares, and there is so much more to it.To me, it's an incredibly versatile craft. Colourwork, lace, speed, amigurumi, versatility- crochet has so much to offer. Crochet is one of the few crafts that can't be emulated by a machine. There's something really awesome about that. I can make something and know that no one but another crocheter could make that. We can make beautiful projects that can't be mass produced.
It's also a unique experience to be on a new wave of interest and beauty in the craft. The incredible range of patterns coming from designers, both the established designers and the small indie designers are exciting to watch. More than ever there are beautiful patterns being made for creations that some people don't even know can be crocheted!

It can be frustrating, too. Crocheters have come across bad attitudes, ignorance and a lack of resources. The amount of patterns out there is growing, but it's still relatively small.
Still, the growth is encouraging. Even some of the places once very crochet-unfriendly are starting to open their doors. After all, we go through yarn pretty fast! Still, it seems only few places are giving it equal billing. They wonder why we don't spend our money, and we wonder why they don't try to market to us!

To me, crochet is an everyday joy. I can turn to my left and see my shelves of all my projects, just waiting for me to start or finish. I can see finished projects waiting for me to wear them once again. The yarn is so many things to me. It's gifts to be made and clothing to add to my wardrobe and soft bits of delight that will give me so much joy!

I am not a slow, patient person. I will do things wrong quickly four times and then figure out what I'm doing, or start into something without being really prepared. Sometimes this means I finish things really quickly, and sometimes this means I spend all evening pulling out a mistake I should have been aware of a long time ago.

So here's my little blog with my voice and my love for the craft. I want to share pictures and stories and everyone's favorite-yarn porn. I hope to add a few patterns at some point and contribute to the growth of this craft.
So stitch around and enjoy my terrible puns and my crochet!