Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I made four bookmarks as gifts, two each of two different crochet patterns. One I've done before, the Spider to Web pattern. The other is new for me, and while the crocheting was quick, quick, quick, I took forever in doing the finishing work of gluing eyes and a tongue onto them. Onto the sidebar-clearing FO pictures!

First off, two Spider to Web bookmarks, a pattern which is quick and easy and awesome. I love it, and need to make one for myself sometime!

Pattern: Spider to Web Bookmark (Ravelry)
Yarn: Wister LaLa Baby, Japanese yarn in white
Hook: USE/3.5 mm
Timeframe: January 17, both done at a sit'n'knit afternoon.
Mods: None. Excellent pattern.
Problems: None, love this pattern so much!

Second, we have two Gecko patterns.

Pattern: Gecko Bookmark (Ravelry)
Yarn: Seria Acrylic Marble, yarn from a Japanese $1 store.
Hook: USE/3.5 mm
Timeframe: January 9, got all the crocheting done, but didn't glue the face on 'till May 9.
Mods: None, though if I were to make it again I might sl st along the edge and make the tail and legs all connected.
Problems: None, aside from slacking!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Counting the Stash

On Ravelry, there was a discussion on how to count your stash. Some people don't count theirs, some people keep it down to a container or two (heh, yeah, I could probably squeeze it all into one of those huge Rubbermaid bins...), others only have on hand what they're going to use, and others go by miles. The question of SABLE (Stash Above and Beyond Life Expectancy) came up, and how do you know you've hit SABLE? Can you count stash in hours? Lee wanted me to estimate the hours it would take to knit up current stash. No way, not possible. A pair of socks will be faster than a scarf or other fingering weight item, and not all of my sock yarn will be socks. A pair of patterned socks takes longer than a plain-er pair of socks, and the more twisted stitches and purling there is, the longer that takes. Typical colorwork is much faster than typical cables (for me) and lace can be quick if it's like Monkeys with just YOs and K2togs or take forever if it's crazy lace like the frogged Victorian Lace socks.

A sweater vest, done in the round, with minimal shaping or designs, might take me a week to knit up (I shall be testing this theory soon) while a complex tank top could take months, even using the same weight yarn. Then there's the question of finishing work, possible errors or delays, and just general stupidity or laziness on my part. Therefore, I find it nearly impossible to calculate the amount of time it would take to go through my stash. I haven't really worried about stash before, since I don't buy without a project in mind (socks and lace don't count, it's enough for socks or a scarf or gloves and lace is good for cowls and stoles and things!) and I've never really had the money to sink into a huge stash (until now). With the moving across the world at least once more, keeping it to a minimum is the idea.

Right now, counting all of the crafting stash that I own, I have more than enough to last me until I go home and then some. Cross stitches (6 Art of Disney, 4 medium, two small, 13 ornaments), roving (4.5 lb), yarn(near 40 miles), and fabric (bunches), all of it together is more than enough to last me awhile. A good long while, what with the Art of Disney cross stitches. They're not bulky or heavy though, so they're okay to take along with me for future moves. The fabric, roving, and yarn, however, should be minimized (and turned into useful things like clothing). Actually, there should be no additional fabric or roving moving with me, and preferably only carry-on yarns, though I know I'll have a bunch of laceweight and probably sockweight or handspun.

Stop laughing.

I'm serious.

I really, really, really am planning to use up what I have! For real!


but I had to buy more because the yarn I have right now just isn't appropriate for desired holiday knitting:

At this point, most of this yarn is used up (hooray!) and then I bought a LOT more yarn in Tokyo:

I just need to actually finish blog posts when I start them! This one is from way back in November of 2009.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Hmm, the altimeter seems to be broken...

What are those billy goats doing up here...

OH JEEZ it's a mountain, we're gonna crash!

You'd think a normal person would have realized at the outset they were in for trouble. Not me! I have some leftover yarn from a project. This means I know what gauge I get (this is even one of those few projects I *gasp* swatched for) and I know what needles looked good the first time. So, when I blindly grabbed the yarn and called-for needles and just dove right in (making a gorgeous tubular cast on and inch and a half of knitting, I must say) I should have known what to expect. Size 7s, 136 sts, for something that gives me 5.5 sts/inch on US8s? Ummm...yeah, that's a hat.

But no, I cast on and knit away. I thought, hmmm, why are the stitches not fitting around this 32" circular needle? It should be perfect for a sweater for me! So I went down to the 24". And the 16". And the stitches fit, and I thought it was Good.

I was concerned. I checked the pattern. The published gauge is 16 sts/4", or 1.5 stitches less per inch than I was getting. Yes, I ignored another warning sign. Then, I finally came to my senses and decided to try the thing on before getting any further. Lo and behold, the gauge, it did not lie, and in fact, I was knitting the perfect hat!

I do not want a hat. I want a sweater. I will try again with US9s. I should probably also up the stitch count to make it fit. I think I will blindly forge ahead with US9s, and try it on at about the same place, and decide if it will work then. Ribbing is stretchy, right?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cake Truffles!

More candy!

I made these around Christmas, so I tried using the powder food coloring to make the frosting (and thus, the insides) of the cake truffles red and green. I got a pink and a green-ish. Not too bad, but not what I was going for either.

For these, I baked up a rectangular Lady Cake from Joy of Cooking, broke it in half, and crumbled each half into a differently colored bowl of frosting. I use 1/4 cup of shortening to every two cups of powdered sugar, about 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1/4 tsp of almond, and enough milk to make it whatever consistency I'm going for. I used a bit much milk this time, because I added the milk to the flavorings and added as much food coloring powder as I could, trying to color the frosting. The cake truffles turned out well anyway. Once the innards (cake and frosting) were fully mixed, I rolled them into small balls, put them on wax paper, and put them in the fridge to solidify a bit. I tried to dip some before giving them enough time to solidify, and that didn't work. Make sure your truffle innards are solid before dipping!

I dipped half of each color in dark chocolate and the other half in white chocolate. The white chocolate was somewhat uncooperative using the double boiler method, but works quite well in the microwave. Mmmmm, delicious! I also added some silver dragees to some, but not everyone was interested in those. Surprising how many people are terrified of the little silver balls. I know, I know, the state of California has found them to be carcinogenic, but the quantity you'd have to eat to cause problems is a lot more than you'll ever have! Anyway, they were great and everyone liked them. I've also made some using the Quick Cocoa Cake from Joy of Cooking and either my favorite frosting or chocolate ganache for some really, really chocolatey truffles. Both are excellent, though my frosting mixed with the cake tastes exactly like Count Chocula cereal. Interesting find.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old and Well-Loved FO

I did a test knit of a snowman for Molting Yeti. The original pattern is for a stuffed animal, done in Worsted Weight and wonderful for kids during the holiday season. I'd made a bat for Halloween and kept it at work. Now, for the holiday season, a snowman ornament would be perfect, and I had enough fingering weight yarns in different colors to oblige.

In progress, it looks a bit, well, odd. Kind of like a deflated balloon. However, once stuffed and decorated, it's gorgeous! I left a long tail at the beginning (you start at the head) to use for hanging the snowman. It also worked quite well to keep the hat on - I threaded the hanger through the hat. I think for next year I may tack down the scarf, or at least sew it to itself, so that it doesn't get lost or fall off. I didn't have a problem with that except while transporting and the couple times I was showing him off. It turned out a bit larger than anticipated, over 5" tall, but he is really, really cute and perfect for a little bit of holiday cheer. I had both the snowman and the Santa hanger hanging on the hooks on my magnetic cubicle wall during the holiday season, and have only just brought the snowman home as it is 100% officially spring. I am now on the lookout for a springtime ornament to hang at work.

Pattern: Snowman (Ravelry)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock in White, Knit Picks Essential in Cocoa, Indigo Moon West Coast Musings in West Coast Sunset (scarf) and Turquoise (hat), Wild Fire Fibres Fantasia in a sock club colorway (nose), all scraps from socks (future socks in the case of Wild Fire Fibers)
Needles: US1/2.25 mm DPNs
Timeframe: November 3 - 15, 2009.
Mods: None, it was a test knit
Problems: No problems, lovely little knit, might make the full-size some day!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blanket Update: April

132 bobbles. 11 repeats of a 48-row, 112-stitch pattern. Over 10 50-gram skeins of cashmere blend. The first panel is complete, and blocking. The second panel (of five) has been started. This thing will be huge, but at least the most time consuming (and only bobble-filled) panel is complete. Onward, so that I can have some cute summer things for me done before I head home.

372,096 stitches. Nearly 14 skeins of 50 gram yarn. 1/3 of the way finished. Unless I decide to rip out 2/3 of the first and/or second colorwork square(s), which I may. The colorwork is gorgeous if I concentrate, but I didn't concentrate hard enough for enough of the time, so it's not quite blocking out to size. For the next block, I switched to US10.5 for the colorwork rows, which was a bit loose, yet still tight across the larger blocks of color.

The squares get so large and scrunched up on the needles towards the end that it's difficult to keep them spread out. Scrunched stitches means the floats aren't loose enough to block the square out correctly. I haven't ripped it out yet, but I'm pretty positive I will. I just have to get a bit further along before I can feel okay with the backtrack. Taking out 2/9 or 4/9 of the work thus far is just too painful to contemplate. Maybe once I have another square or two finished. Two squares plus one and a half cable panels per month puts me right on track to finish. Luckily, I have a few weeks off before we leave Japan so I can sprint to the finish line if need be (and I will likely need that time for something). I'm just going to continue chugging along; hopefully the next couple panels will be quicker than the bobbles!