Sunday, December 23, 2007

Waiting for Godot.

Silence for so long, and then a pictureless post? I know; it's terrible. I promise not to make you any promises, Reader, since we know how good I am at fulfilling them. But you have a right to know of avery important development since I last wrote to you: I have decided--and this is not a decision I entered into lightly--I have decided--perhaps you'd better sit down--to sell all of my yarn and take up the noble art of Moon Sand instead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In lieu of an actual post, I offer you a comic. Drawn by someone else.

natalie dee
Courtesy of a loyal reader.

A real post will follow in the next few days, darling Readers, perhaps with a preview of my selfish, selfish winter break knitting plans, but Bolty has some papers that aren't going to grade themselves. The thing is that I think the ideal TA for this course probably is a robot, but Mechanical Man Corp. hasn't gotten back to me yet on the Bolterbot2000.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We'll bend it to our awe, or break it all to pieces.

I have been holding out on you, Reader: I've got two pairs of mittens and two pairs of Fetchings I haven't blogged about yet. The Fetchings are a bit of a disappointment. One pair, out of Lion Wool, is just okay: the yarn isn't very exciting for a gift and I'm blah on the color. I did the other in Manos, and while I like the Manos (I don't love the Manos, may the dear lord baby Jesus strike me dead), I'm afraid they're too big. The problem is that Fetching is kind of a dainty pattern as opposed to a sturdy one, and I am a sturdy knitter. Manos is a sturdy yarn, Lion Wool is a sturdy yarn, and everything I knit comes out sturdy; so why I thought these things would add up to a dainty pair of Fetchings is rather beyond me. I have a friend who might like the Manos ones, and the Lion Wool ones will probably languish until in a fit of pique I claim them for my own. Maybe I'll try dyeing them I color I like better.

As for the mittens: I won't mince words, Reader. I looooove them.

I recently finished two pairs: one for Lilyriver for her birthday (only a week and a half late!) and one for an unnamed recipient.
At left is the right mitten of L.'s pair--it's a wretched picture, and I apologize, but that's how we roll in my woods. I do not know why I just said that, but it's staying. I'll attribute it to mitten ecstasy. That is how we roll in my woods. Anyway! The yarn is Frog Tree Merino Melange, which is, hands down, the softest yarn I've ever touched. Unfortunately, I had to frog it approximately 403840983029843 times, and it got rather pilly in the process. A bit of alchemy happened in the blocking: it got sturdier, rather than softer, when wet. The finished product reminds me of a very decadent cupcake*.

What's the pattern for this delicious mitten, you ask? Why, it's a one-of-a-kind Bolty original. Two-of-a-kind. There are two, I swear. And, okay, it's not really a Bolty original, per se, as I basically just applied a cable** from the Vogue Stitchionary Vol. 2 to my favorite easy mitten pattern at Put away the hot poker, Reader. You and I have no secrets.

The second pair of mittens isn't even badly photographed--indeed, it's not photographed at all. They're flip top mittens based on an amalgam of patterns and they are damned fantastic. I used a spring green tweed, the Queensland Kathmandu I've blogged about before. Flip tops are absolute genius. I realize that I call every new knitting thing I learn "absolute genius," but it's true. It is also true--and if you're an Expos teacher, you'll spot the "secondary emerging thesis" of this post--that when I learn a new technique, I have to frog like a maniac. But I don't mind frogging overmuch***.

At the moment, I'm--or rather, was--working on a cabled hat from Cables Untangled--it's a ribbed hat with braided cables in a gorgeous red tweed (also Queensland Kathmandu), or, at least, that's what it's supposed to be, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not fated to get past the ribbing. I started it in size 8s (the pattern recommends size 7s, but all I had with me whilst visiting E. this past week were 8s and 6s) and the hat was freaking huge, so I frogged about 5 inches of ribbing and switched to the 6s. Three different pairs of 6s, Reader. I only had 4 of my 5 size 6 dpns with me, and there were way too many stitches to fit comfortably on those needles, so I made E. take me to Jo Ann's on the way to the airport, where the only size 6 circ I could find was 29" long. I bought it thinking I'd just Magic Loop, but the cable was very stiff, so when I got home I borrowed the 16" cable and size 6 tips from my Celtic Cabled Scarf and was happily knitting away when I realized that I'd misread the pattern for the increase row and had to frog back to the ribbing. Then I thought I misread the cable pattern and frogged again, only to realize that I hadn't misread it at all. Demoralized, I have put the hat back in its plastic bag for now in favor of starting another pair of flip top mittens out of some lovely Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed. Which I have also had to frog twice. I told you, Reader; I've no secrets from you.

*A cupcake that looks like a hand. Wow, this suddenly got creepy.
**It's called the Seven Sisters. The ribbing is ktbl1, p1; the cable is a basic 12-stitch cable following the ktbl1, p1 rib.
***This is a lie.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Measure for measure.

From: E.
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2007 12:08 PM
Re: the most important thing for us: hair products.
To: the bolter

Actually I've been blackballed from all of the yarn shops in Denver for "casting off" on too many patrons and sending them to the hospital.

----- Original Message -----
From: the bolter
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2007 8:49 am
Subject: Re: the most important thing for us: hair products.
To: E.

also, i have been hunting down yarn shops for us to visit!!! are you excited???


the bolter: You have no idea what casting off means, do you?
E.: It means punching people in the face with brass knuckles.
the bolter: It's hard to disagree with that, actually.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Last of the Time Lords.

There have been some complaints, Reader, about the late scarcity of posts that feature actual knitting, as opposed to chatter about yarn shopping*. Well**--I do take the point. Thus, as your happiness is of paramount importance to me, I offer you one completed pair of Nikki Sixx-inspired Knucks.

Specs: 1 skein of Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed, in some browny color I'm too lazy to look up. This yarn is the same as the Queensland Kathmandu I have already noted that I love (really, it's the same; I don't know what the deal is, but the Queensland Kathmandu comes from the same manufacturer and is generally a dollar or two cheaper--or more, if you find it on closeout at Webs...). I'm giving some thought to using this yarn in the far distant future*** for the Katharine Hepburn Cardigan. Anyway, the Knucks pattern is genius; it's knit fingers-down, which seemed to me to be a cockamamie scheme if I've heard one, but it worked out well enough. I somehow managed to do the gusset in a different way on each glove. It's not terribly noticeable and doesn't affect the fit, so I've decided it doesn't matter. They are a gift for a non-knitter who will, I hope, forgive me. I hope she's feeling kind about my elementary embroidery skills, too. Maybe I should redo the "8" before I send them.

I do hope Lilyriver will soon post about the very excellent hat she knitted me for my birthday; I may otherwise have to take matters in my own hands.

*I realized today--yesterday--well, see below; time is relative--that I have been buying yarn in various shades of green, to the extent that I am in serious danger of becoming mightily sick of green before I've even knitted up a skein of it. Okay, that's totally a lie; really, what I'm feeling is the strong desire to buy some more yarn--maybe this time in a rich blue.
**Hey, Daylight Savings Time just happened! I've been watching Doctor Who on and off all day and am feeling especially inclined to believe I have just gone back in time.
***Spring Forward?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The roots of debate and the hope of dialogue.

Can we talk about how my new favorite yarn in the whole world is on closeout at Webs and my first instinct is to buy a truckload of it or maybe the whole warehouse and then I think, hey, maybe I should pay my bills instead? But how I really just want to buy yarn? Yeah. Let's talk about that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's black, white, read, etc., etc.

No, not my Milton paper (wish me luck or something)--this.

It's a bit weird to me that the artist insists that turning your newspapers into yarn is good for making "tangible" memories--you can't read the paper, she says, but sometimes you can see snatches of dates or words. Playing devil's advocate for a moment, why is it necessary to "justify" art by insisting that a piece has tangible value? It's not a huge leap from "tangible" value to capital, either; making memories tangible also makes them buy-able, so sign me up for an October 24, 1983, newspaper yarn rug, you know? Is it an accident, I wonder, that the article reads a whole lot like somebody's trying to sell me something? And that her text (which seems to have been translated from the Dutch) reads like a catalogue? And I, a trained (indoctrinated?) consumer and moreover used to the insistence that 1) "indie" yarn is hand-dyed art and therefore I should feel better (more organic? more artistic?) about using it because it's not commercially made, and 2) that you can put a price--often a high(er) price--on "indie" hand-dyed/hand-spun yarn, immediately went looking for her web site so I could see how much the stuff cost. It doesn't--it's part of her portfolio and she just graduated from a design academy; she's selling herself (1).

(1) I happily sweep intentionality off the table, but I do wonder what her statement is; it's not a terrible way to think about memory--bits and pieces woven into a larger tapestry (or sturdy doormat)--or about (god help me) "culture." The idea that something else (/"different") can be made out of newspaper.

I wonder if the stuff is as flammable as newspaper usually is. On a more technical note, I wonder what she's plying it with--there's some kind of thread, it looks like, wrapped around the newspaper tubes. Is she using a spinning wheel? Or is she doing it by hand? I was also surprised at how colorful the tubes were; I forget that newspaper isn't--well--black and white anymore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Caught up in Webs

So we may not have made the pilgrimage, but we did get some relics from the fiber arts mecca that is Northhampton, MA. This tote bag is so sturdy. It will be perfect for yarn I mean books then next time I have a lot to carry home from the yarn shop I mean library. And it's cat approved, too. Check out that skein sticking out from the top -- that's my first even skein of Noro Silk Garden, and it is so special I'm almost afraid to use it. Should I follow Sarah G's lead and tackle a beanie or should I plan on a Fake Isle hat? Or do I dare attempt these lovely mittens, as difficult as they look? Luckily, I do not have time to make any of these things, so I can just enjoy this moment of anticipation.

And speaking of pilgrimages, tomorrow is the Yarn Harlot! There is a lot that has to happen before we get there, but it is nice to have something to look forward to.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dear Abby,

Is it possible to accidentally buy yarn?

I realize that this entails, say, the googling of "yarn shop," and a few errant keystrokes in the sale section of Knitch, but--you know, given enough monkeys and enough typewriters, you get Hamlet, right? It's harder to explain one's wallet accidentally unzipping and one's credit card number accidentally appearing on screen, but weirder things have happened. Look at Michael Jackson.

Send me your thoughts as soon as possible, c/o debtor's prison.

Not That This Has Happened To Me Or Anything

Friday, October 12, 2007

The sun also rises.

I don't want you to get too excited, Reader--perhaps you'd better sit down--but we are going to see the Yarn Harlot a week from today. A week and eleven hours from right this very moment. This is all thanks to the sharp-eyed Sarah G at Yardage, who, I think we can logically conclude, must have some kind of super power, because she found this out even though Stephanie hasn't put it up on her website yet.

I have been doing some knitting myself, although not quite as fervently as Lilyriver. I have been working on some gift knitting for friends I won't write about here, partly because progress has stalled out. I've also been working on a pair of Knucks--also a gift, but for a non-reader of the blog, I think--that I plan on embroidering with Nikki Sixx's knuckle tattoos. It's rather more difficult than I expected to find you a picture of this. She would know in a heartbeat, but--well. ETA: Aha! Top right. I will be so pleased with myself if I can make the embroidery look halfway decent. The Knucks pattern is practically genius, as it's knit top down and comes together fantastically well. I'm using Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, which is about 85% wool and 15% silk and cashmere, I think, and it knits up beautifully. I ordered a couple skeins in Aran weight to use for a hat I'm planning. Uh, for myself.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Way We Were

I don't believe I ever shared a photo of my last finished project of the summer. This is Stefanie Japel's Orangina, knit in Lamb's Pride Cotton Fine on size 4 needles. It was a very satisfying project because it's made me believe that I might have it in me to be a lace knitter. This is not to say that I want to chuck all my other projects and start knitting my way through Victorian Lace Today, but it's nice to know that a pretty shawl in a simple lace pattern might not be beyond my abilities. I'm very impressed with the yarn I used for this -- it has a little wool in it, which really does help it to hold its shape, I think. It's been blocked and worn several times and washed and worn again and it's only improving in appearance, which I'm thrilled about. Most of my projects seem so fragile once they're off the needles and on my body, but this feels like it's meant to be used.

Yet, alas, summer is beginning to fade and there will be less and less use for lacy cotton tops. Look how happy and carefree I am in the photo! I don't expect to look that way again for-- what's the date, again? -- oh, about four or five years.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More than one way to wear a hat...

...especially if the hat is accidentally oversized and floppy. Lately I've been just ambushed with work and have been able to steal so few moments for knitting that blogging hasn't seemed as exciting as it once did. I have finished two hats recently, however. One of them, a cabled Utopia hat in my new favorite worsted weight wool, Mission Falls 1824, was sent away before I took pictures of it, but the other has been photographed from literally every angle. It's Ysolda's Urchin pattern from the latest edition of Knitty. I knitted with desperate speed with the first super bulky yarn I could get my hands on, Paton's Rumor, which is full of acrylic but comes in lovely colors. The hat is just plain too big, but it's also kind of fun.

And I'd like to close this post, such as it is, with a shout-out to our good friend over at Yardage, whose awesome new knitting blog has nudged me back in the saddle.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Postcards from the edge.

Don't think I have forgotten you, Reader! I have not. But my knitting energies have lately been redirected into some gift projects for friends and I can't share them with you--partly because I am not sure that I'll wind up having the time to complete them. Apparently, I'm not allowed to knit instead of writing papers, nor am I allowed to knit my final papers. I'm disheartened, but I'll press on.

A few brief notes: I tried the magic loop technique and found it to be quite cumbersome. I only did a few rows with it, but jockeying the needle into place interrupted my flow. I can see trying it again in the future; there are certain practical benefits to it, the chief amongst them being that it only takes one needle and one is thus spared half the trouble when needle-hunting and half the expense of buying new needles when one realizes that one has approximately 4308240328043802843 size 1.5s, but no size 2s.

Secondly: I'm using Lion Wool for the mystery project, which is a 100% worsted weight wool. I'm suspicious of wools that advertise that they are good for felting, which usually means that they are either scratchy or poor quality, and I'm suspicious of all Lion Brand products because I succumb easily to internet-born yarn snobbery peer pressure. But it turns out that while Lion Wool is not by any means a soft yarn, it's actually a quality, sturdy workhorse yarn. I do remain puzzled as to why Lion Brand has chosen to put it out in 85g skeins instead of the 50g or 100g that one usually sees, but I got my 85g on sale for 3.25, so I dare not complain too loudly. A limitation of the yarn is that it doesn't come in very many colors; there are only a few of the colors to which I could say I was genuinely drawn (although there are many that would do)--and no heathers at all. And I test-felted a bit of it and they were right--it really does felt well. A side note: Lion Wool is also available in a few variegated ("print") shades.

Lastly: there's been a promise made concerning a visit to yarn shop in Princeton next Wednesday, and it's like I'm eight again and I'm about to get an American Girl doll for Christmas.

Friday, September 7, 2007

We join this program already in progress.

All right, darlings, I've finally done a little sweater scanning. I've got about 10" of a project 18" for the bottom of the Lucy cardigan. The stitch pattern is so simple that I'd probably be gouging my eyeballs out if it weren't for the yarn--I've gone on a bit about the Berroco Ultra Alpaca before, and I won't do it again here, but it's fantastic. Not so great for stitch definition, as is the case with most dark yarns and most alpaca yarns; the scanning picked up the patterning in one dimension much better than the eye can actually do in three. But that's okay, because it doesn't matter, really, and I think when blocked, it'll be a little bit crisper. My other potential problem is that while I'm ly(tru + mad + deep) in love with the Peat colorway, it turns out that dark green actually doesn't go with a great deal in my wardrobe. I think the green's too dark to go comfortably with black or navy blue, and reds are out unless I want to look like Mother Christmas. Brown could make me look like a tree, and greens, possibly too matchy, and anyway, the only green shirt I have is more lime than earthy. So I'm left with light blue--and the feeling that this might be a good excuse to start collecting shirts in the purple family. But first Bolty's gotta get paid.

Cheap shots.

nononononononononononononononononononono NO.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

I have some bad news for you, Reader: the Summer of Crafting Fun is sadly at an end. Tomorrow, there are books to be read; papers to write; students, god help me, to teach. In other words, there is music to be faced. In such situations, there's only one thing to do: tie up one's belongings on a hobo stick and hit the rails.

I am ending the summer with four WIPs, violating, of course, the rule of 3 that I had semi-established for myself. Nevertheless, I think they're all projects I have a reasonable chance of finishing during the fall semester (knock on particle board). First, I have my Lucy in the Sky cardigan. I have not offered any pictures either here or on Ravelry because, quite frankly, they would be extremely dull. I'm working on the bottom now, which is about 18" of a knit/purl diamond/King Charles brocade-ish pattern; I'm about 8.5" in. I love love love the yarn; it's a 50/50 wool/alpaca blend from Berroco called Ultra Alpaca. The colors are designed, they say, to mimic plant-dyes. I chose, as I believe I have mentioned before, the Peat colorway. Anyway, it's soft like alpaca, but has the sturdiness and elasticity of wool, and it's not as painfully expensive as one might imagine. Also, it smells like the upholstery in a new car. If you have ever smelled pure wool, especially if it's been sealed in a Ziploc for awhile, you will know that this is a good thing.

I am also still working on my pair of plain stockinette socks from the Colortweed. One down, one to go.

Thirdly, I'm working on the Celtic Cable Scarf from Kraemer Yarns. I'm using Peace Fleece in the Tundra colorway. Now, I love the Peace Fleece colors and I love the mission of the company, but man, this yarn is hard to knit with. It's very scratchy. The thing about Peace Fleece, though, is that it softens well when washed; I rinsed the bottom four inches in ordinary tap water and noticed a large improvement. I think with a little Eucalan, it should be good to go. Some projects you want to have more than you want to knit them. But I've only got about a foot done out of a projected six, and the cabling demands my full attention, so I'm in this one for the long haul. ETA: Apparently I said the exact same thing with respect to "long haul" two posts ago. Don't think I'm not paying attention, Reader.

Fourthly, I've got my Almost Argyles going out of Knit Picks Essential in Grass. I had to rip a good inch or so back due to a pattern mistake, so I'm still working on the gusset. The other problem is that the Essential really does get as fuzzy as everyone says it does (you can sort of tell in the picture). It didn't look so hot when I was done frogging that bit. The experience I'm having with the Essential is really the opposite of the one I'm having with the Peace Fleece; while the Essential is soft and lovely with which to knit, I'm quite nervous about washing it. Someone on Ravelry suggested washing the socks inside out so the pilling happens on the part of the sock you don't see, which seems to me to be genius advice.

'Til next time, Reader--and do let me know if you've figured out how to charm yourself a bottomless purse.

Beach Blanket Bingo.

Gratuitous blanket shots:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

a list and a promise

The promise comes first: I have a few works in progress and even one finished project that are still awaiting a photo shoot, and once that happens, I will return with a much more visually interesting post. But for now, I can say at least the my Orangina is a success, a wear-it-to-work and-feel-pretty success. I was concerned about the gauge difference between the section knit flat and the section knit in the round, but blocking appears to have solved the problem, and it is easy enough to wear a garment with the less expertly executed lace in the back. Since finishing Orangina, I've become involved with several new projects.
I'm a bit worried about technical/gauge issues (similar to those I encountered with Orangina) for my Snow White sweater, a gorgeous pattern from Ysolda Teague that I really could not be more excited to be knitting. While swatching, I realized how awful my ribbing tends to look, and some research led me pretty deep into stitch theory, so deep that I emerged nearly convinced I should make the become a Combination Knitter. For now, though, I'm not putting labels on myself -- I'm just wrapping my purls clockwise, and the result is a much neater if not altogether perfect ribbing. I'm using Paton's Classic Merino and so far I'm really pleased with it.
I'm also still plugging away at the plain stockinette socks in KnitPicks Felici that I started so long ago for the camping trip. I'm about halfway through the foot, and in this case too, I'm loving the yarn. I should probably be concerned about how it will wear, but for now, I'm just looking forward to wearing such soft socks.
Also on the horizon is a blanket for my sister, possibly even a crocheted one! But more on this later. For now, the focus is on finishing one more project, any project before classes start next week.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition.

Come closer, Reader. I want to whisper this in your ear. You have to promise not to tell, though. Cross your heart and hope to die.

I started a new pair of socks tonight in order to avoid my sweater project.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

Turns out I do remember how to crochet a little bit, Reader; I've been crocheting my blanket squares together and it's turning out rather nicely, especially if you squint. What blanket squares, you ask? I excavated them in the closet of my old bedroom, just underneath an ancient (primeval, even, in that time B.K.: Before Knitting) experiment in needlework. There were perhaps 45 of them, all as you see at left. Er, yes, all of them, varied only in color ("dark sage," "sage," and "off white") and skill, which is to say that proper finishing remained as elusive to me as it did to so many impoverished nineteenth century girls.

In any case, these squares are not very much, but I thought I ought to put them together anyway, just to see if I've learned anything. I've learned a little, it turns out, but it's taken something I knew B.K. to finally make the thing come together: a little crochet magic. Crochet was the first yarn craft I learned that didn't involve copious amounts of glue; my grandmother, who was an excellent crafter, taught me back in the days when a crocheted square made a fine garment for a Barbie. I'm using one of her hooks to put the blocks together, and afterwards I'll add a border, because a little crochet can fix a multitude of sins. The squares, alas, are not the same size. I should have known I was tempting fate with all those pyramids.

Monday, August 13, 2007

She Stoops to Conquer.

The Squirrel & Oak mittens, with my sister's initials knit into the point. As I noted before, totally ridiculous, but I love them. I just bought Terri Shea's Selbuvotter and will use it to do more sophisticated Fair Isle mittens, but I had a lot of fun with this project.

Selbuvotter is a neat book with a rather literal premise--Shea recreates Selbuvotter mittens she has found in various collections down to mistakes in yarn, needle size, and thumb construction. The book, subtitled A Biography of a Knitting Tradition, is not meant to be a pattern book, but it's not precisely a biography either. It is perhaps more accurate to call it a painstaking record of a localized movement. I got interested in college in literary textiles and have been contemplating how to take a more materialist approach to my own work, so I have great sympathy for the project undertaken here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The search for origins.

You'll have to bear with me for a moment here, Reader: I'm feeling nostalgic. Nay: sentimental. Pull up a seat to the fire and pour yourself a glass of sherry; the impulse will pass, and we'll come back to our senses.

Upon investigating the closet of my childhood bedroom this past weekend, I discovered the wreckage of my first knitting project, the predictable garter stitch scarf. The fees for our knitting class got us a ball of worsted weight yarn (I got light blue; at some later point I acquired a ball of dark blue) and a pair of size 7 straights. Reader, I confess that my mind was not on knitting that evening; rather, I had attended the class in order to make some friends. I lucked out on that score, but less so on the knitting--I was the last person in the class to figure out how to cast on (or so I remember) and my efforts were...imperfect, to say the least. It's hard to imagine now, having knit so many stitches on so many projects, how I repeatedly failed to end up with the correct amount of stitches at the end of a row. There's a point in knitting where a new technique just begins to make sense, and that was true for me from the basic knit stitch on.

Eventually, I put that shapeless blob in a drawer and learned to knit other things, and by "other things," I mean "hats." I believe I made about a dozen hats by Christmas, and occasionally those hats have turned up, like so many bad pennies, to haunt me. My enthusiasm for hats waned eventually and I returned to what I will generously refer to as a "scarf," but really had about as much in common with a scarf as this blog does with Anna Karenina. So the first thing I did was to start over, although I preserved that initial piece of knitting for a long time and may have it somewhere still. I decided to jazz up the garter stitch by doing stripes of the two blues and I worked at it diligently--or, at any rate, I must have; I don't remember how long it took or when I finished it. But it did get finished, and I seem to have gotten to wear it a few times before the scarf began to return, dust to dust, to a pile of yarn. I had, you see, Reader, simply tied square knots at the color changes and blissfully snipped off the ends. I did not know any better, and I did not have to vocabulary to find out more about finishing techniques or weaving in ends in a book or online. The weight of a garter stitch scarf knit on size 7 straights is not inconsiderable and the square knots came out quite easily. Now that I know a bit more about these things, I could probably try to fix the scarf, or reknit it, but I think it's probably better to leave it as it is. I'd like to say it's for the poetry of the thing, but the truth is that I've rather lost interest in garter stitch scarves.

Oh, dear. I actually meant to blog about the mysterious bag of afghan squares I found underneath the scarf; those I have decided to reclaim and put together properly. I even had a picture for you, Reader. Well: coming soon to a multiplex near you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Proof of life.

I made a ridiculous pair of mittens--I won't reveal what they are, as they are a gift, but they are a fine example of how great Fair Isle knitting can be (is it Fair Isle, or just two-color knitting? I don't know what the rules of the technique are). I did most of mitten numero uno in Telemark, but the colors I chose (Royal and spoiler alert Squirrel Heather, appropriately enough) didn't offer enough contrast--and the Telemark isn't soft at all. I didn't think it would be like rose petals and clouds, but I wasn't expecting it to be like twine. I love the colors Telemark is offered in, however, and I appreciate its sturdiness; I'll just have to think of an appropriate project for it. In any case, I frogged that mitten and cast on in Merino Style, which is a real pleasure with which to knit. I don't think I've ever knit with softer yarn. The color range of the Merino Style is somewhat less impressive; I'd love to see some heathers or at least some colors with more richness and depth.

In the meantime, I've begun a Celtic Cable Scarf (PDF), pattern from Kraemer Yarns, in some Peace Fleece I purchased from a fellow Raveler, or whatever we're calling ourselves. The Peace Fleece had me worried because the fabric was so stiff with the cables and the yarn's general rugged wooliness, but I blocked it this evening whilst on the needles and it really does soften up like everyone says. Given a bath in some Eucalan and a dash of extra lanolin, it should be an excellent, long-wearing scarf. Um, however, I calculated that I will need to complete at least 30 pattern repeats (16 rows long), and so far I've been going at the rate of one a day. It certainly moves more quickly without a cable needle, but damn, scarves are a long haul.

I am currently away from Chez Bolter and Lilyriver, but I have been informed that my new yarn for my Lucy Cardigan (Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Peat) is both soft and durable and that I have no more excuses for putting off the next stage of my knitting career: SWEATERS.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

a short honeymoon

The best thing about finishing this is the freedom it's given me to move on to other less doomed projects. I thought about making this for months and months, bought the yarn, used it for something else, bought another yarn, bought more of it with the intention of devoting it to another since-abandoned project idea, and just generally dithered about the whole thing until my co-craftblogger finally, and rightly, told me to just cast the hell on already. I did, and I feel better now that it's over.

The only problem is that's Jaeger Trinity, way on sale at Webs and very cool-looking, in just the bright shade of yellow my mom loves to see me in. But after I started investigating it on Ravelry, I became convinced that there is no way it's not going to stretch out and render my poor little cami unwearable. But I pressed on anyway since I didn't know what else I would ever do with such dangerous yarn, and the finished product looks pretty good, for now anyway. After a day's wear, I did detect the stretching I was dreading, so I took it off, stuck it in the closet and haven't thought about it since. And looking back at these photos, it's even boxier than I realized. Damn it, why can't I shift into an appropriately triumphant FO-blog-post tone for just a few minutes?! I have a couple ideas for full-sized sweaters in the works, and my goal is to have a least one clear success before the semester starts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Supply your own "monkey" pun. I can't do all the work.

Finis. Thank the dear lord baby Jesus. These are my Monkey socks in Koigu. I should have known that these socks would move along so slowly; they're called "Monkeys," and people who know me know that I have been rather vocal about my dislike of the dirty, nasty creatures.

Malodorous monkeys aside, I'm not sure why finishing these was so much like pulling teeth. Koigu is an excellent yarn--the base is smooth and elastic & durable and substantial without being scratchy, and the variegated colors are ingeniously done. I changed my mind about whether or not I liked the colors approximately 403280493820 times while I worked on the socks (ultimate verdict: B+), but I can, in any case, appreciate the artistry involved. The pattern is a Cookie A, and it's simple, but charming enough to sustain interest through 25 pattern repeats in greater folk than I. This sock pattern is the most popular one on Ravelry, probably because it's a Cookie A, it's not very difficult--and, as it was designed specifically for variegated yarn, it gives one something to do with all of those hand-dyed sock yarn skeins internet-savvy knitters are required by law to purchase from "indie dyers." I don't think this pattern is quite as clever as some of Cookie's other patterns, but it's clever enough.

In any case, really, I'm glad to be done with these because it means I can start something else. (I did put these socks down for about a week to do another top secret project, but I can't tell you about it, because then I would have to--well, you know the drill.) Right now, I have about half a dozen projects in the queue. I think next up are some more mittens, but on the horizon is a sweater project. Don't even get me started on the yarn woes for that one. Let's just say that some people, namely me, never learn when it comes to bargain hunting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I wish I could knit myself a new camera.

I just got all geared up to post pictures of a bunch of new projects only to find after uploading them that they are all hopelessly out of focus. I wanted to share my progress on my Honeymoon Cami, my second pair of felted clogs, and my stretchy Railway socks, but now I'm feeling out of sorts with technology and we will all just have to settle for a photo of the Koigu socks I finished a week or so ago. This blog would be so much more awesome if I (a) were more motivated and (b) had any photography skills whatsoever. In any case, the socks:


Well, Reader, there's been a lot of knitting this past week, but none of it has felt very satisfying to me. At left you can see one completed Monkey sock, and it's fine, if a bit loud for my taste--I'm not yet completely drinking the Kool-Aid on variegated yarn--but I need the revulsion to go away and the love of Koigu and matched pairs to return before I can do serious work on its mate.

In the meantime, I tried again on the lace scarf, and it took me an hour to do two rows, of which one was all purls. Bolty needs some faster progress than that in this heat. I'm going to try yet again with some fingering-weight yarn instead of lace weight. Eventually.

In the meantime, I'm working on a nifty cabling project. I don't have pictures of it yet. I think my affair with the afterthought thumb might be over, though, which is kind of a bummer, as I have yarn for many pairs of afterthought thumb mittens.

I also overdyed some bright green sock yarn a more usable teal, but it's veeeeeeery dark teal, almost black. Not quite the effect I was going for. Oops!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Knitting becomes a full-time job.

We got our beautiful, beautiful Ravelry invites on Monday and have been dedicating ourselves to social networking through knitting. By that I mean that we are each other's only Ravelry friends, so if you, Reader, happen to have an account and want to friend us, for god's sake don't hesitate. We are thebolter and lilyriver, as usual. Memo to people with sock patterns: please. Please. Please. Do not photograph your socks in a pair of sexy, strappy high-heeled sandals. It weirds me out.

Gave the blog a facelift, too, with a little Photoshop assist from my mom. The irony of using a template with dots for a blog called "Swinging Squares" created an irresolvable conflict in this blogger's positronic brain.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Dear Knit Picks,

Please stop* making new sock yarn. I have no willpower when it comes to sock yarn.


Brokey McBrokerson

*By "stop," I mean a little-known usage of the word that implies "for god's sake, keep going." Check the OED if you doubt me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Consumpta nocte.

It may not appear that there has been progress, Reader. It may even appear that this blog, like Enron, promised big things, but, due to a quasi-legal accounting system and amoral trading practices, has actually delivered nothing but rolling blackouts to the state of California. I assure you that this is not the case. Pay no attention to that bank account in the Cayman Islands. That's my retirement fund, and I like to fill the hot tub with Cristal.

No, I measure progress these days by Buffy episodes watched; and we, dear Reader, are almost done with the third season. That's a lot of episodes. We have slogged through some not very good ones for the sake of the knitting time they bring us. All for you. All for you. Except for when it was for me.

First up: finally, god help me, I finished the mates of the two socks I've been blogging about for ages, and they're blocked and ready for wear just in time for a hot, humid Jersey summer. If you have a yen to visit Jersey in the summer, ever, put your head inside of a plastic bag and breathe in your own warm, damp carbon dioxide for awhile (not for too long; don't hurt yourself. Also, never use plastic bags to line your baby's crib. That's a free tip from you to me). That's what it feels like, and now I've saved you money on gas.

In any case, I've been living with those socks for a long time, and I'm tremendously glad they're over. I am quite excited about them, however, and very much look forward to wearing them. I'm up to I think four pairs of handknit socks for the winter. I have made socks before, but I've never really had ones that were up to being worn, like, out of doors.

Secondly: I made the Odessa hat for our friend Rosey, who sent us each a felt pillow she had sewn herself. I made the hat out of Lavish Fibres alpaca in charcoal grey. The Odessa is a very popular Magknits pattern by Grumperina, and calls for a DK-weight yarn and about a hundred beads, so I used a worsted weight and no beads, and felt like such a badass. Or I made a boring hat; it's hard to tell. The pattern is a really excellent one--a combination of ssk and yo spaced several stitches apart creates the spiral of the hat, which is most visible from the top. I hope Rosey has some very tall friends who are really into hats. I also hope Rosey isn't allergic to cat hair, because the kitten likes alpaca almost as much as I do. I washed it, Rosey! I swear!

Oh, a final note: I used a circular needle for this hat, the first time I've ever used one. This will become important in just a few moments.

Third: this is a sweater knit by Lilyriver to clothe one small, naked mouse, of whom I have blogged about extensively. Like Graham himself, the sweater was sort of an experiment. Lilyriver has been working through a book called The Sweater Workshop. Graham's sweater was a final exam of sorts, and she did a bang-up job of it--it's really amazing; it has all the details of a big sweater, only very, very tiny (it is unfortunate that Graham is not really the ideal sweater model, as he lacks both a neck and shoulders). L. would blog about this herself, but she's been lying on a chaise drinking mint juleps since she finished it.

Finally--finally--we have reached the part of the post where I show you a picture of a work-in-progress that is not the thing I said I was going to work on the last time I posted. I, too, have succumbed to the lure of Koigu. I'm doing the Monkey pattern from Knitty, by Cookie A, mostly because I was reminded of it on the Yarn Harlot's blog about when I decided to work with this yarn next and partly because I love Cookie A's aesthetic and most of her patterns are way harder than this one. Inspired by my foray into the world of circular needles with the Odessa hat, I've decided to do these socks on two circs. I'll keep you posted. Probably.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

So much progress, it's almost too much progress...

So the Summer of Crafting is going along just about how we imagined it back during the Winter of Drudgery. I rushed to finish the camisole I talked about earlier, and since then I've knitted -- and felted! -- several other objects. First, the Fibertrends Felted Clogs in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. These pictures of one of the pre-felted clogs are pretty much their own reward, so I won't comment much on them, except to say that while the clog has obviously shrunk considerably since the photo was taken, Hazel has progressed through a few dozen growth spurts. She has of course not yet fully emerged from her kitten cocoon, but she's much less pliable now and I'm not sure if she'd stand for such humiliation these days. I guess we will see when I knit another pair of these clogs, since I'm pretty certain that I will. In fact, I'm pretty certain I will knit several pairs -- if you're reading this, you'll probably get a pair. For these, I duplicate stitched my first initial in the contrasting color before felting, which gives the finished clog a nice Laverne-and-Shirley vibe, I think. I've got all kinds of ideas for how to embellish other pairs (but don't worry, I swear to you that none of them involve novelty yarns!) and I'm quite excited to get them underway, especially now that I've gotten a feel for felting in my apartment complex's crappy and expensive washing machine. Aside from the clogs, I also felted a navy blue oven mitt, this time in Wool of the Andes Bulky (see? I try new things -- this time it was bulky!), for Father's Day. I don't have pictures of that one, but it's just a big stiff navy blue glove, so you can probably imagine what it looks like. Instead, to prove what an impartial two-cat owner I am, I offer this photo of Joe inspecting the finished left clog.After my felting binge, I finished the Child's First Sock from the Nancy Bush book, however, aside from turning out far too small, they are so full of mistakes that I can't quite bring myself to photograph them. I also kind of hate the yarn I used; every time I look at it, I relive its scratchiness and tendency towards splitting. I may be exaggerating how badly these turned out -- we'll see how I feel in the fall when I try to wear them. Instead, I'd like to share with you my work on a Very Special Pair of Socks, during the knitting of which I have overcome many difficulties and learned some important lessons. Well, okay, only one of two socks is finished so there may still be more lessons to learn, but nevertheless I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I used the Koigu I bought at School Products on our tour of NYC yarn stores and I have to admit that it really is just about as excellent as people say it is. I'd originally intended to knit up my Trekking Pro Natura but after considering a ridiculous number of patterns and failing utterly to get the toe of the Sherman Sock properly underway, I switched to the Koigu in an attempt to rouse myself out of the resulting funk. Luckily, an amazing Knitty tutorial, Amy Swenson's Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula, made everything click for me. I don't know enough about short-row heels and toes to judge whether there is anything particularly innovative about this pattern, but Amy's instructions, the Ridged Feather stitch pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks, and the magical Koigu have produced what has definitely been my best sock-knitting experience so far. I've just bound off the first sock, and I'm still jazzed enough to want to start the second one right away -- well, as soon as I weave in those ends.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Assorted FOs, if one is liberal with the definition of "FO," as one, one hopes, will choose to be.

First, the promised Corazon mittens from the Knitty pattern. I used, as I noted below, an alpaca/silk blend from Knit Picks, and its shininess made it largely camera-proof. Mittens, it turns out, are rather awkward to photograph. In any case, my experience doing the colorwork vastly improved once I got it into my head how to knit without tangling the yarn: always keep one color under and the other over. It's slower at first, but you don't have to untangle the yarn every row or whatever. I did not come up with a good picture of the palm. I was frankly a bit relieved about that because the back is noticeably uneven. The colors, as you can see if you follow the pattern link, switch every stitch and I found it very difficult for about the first mitten and a quarter of the second to keep it looking as nice as I wanted to. That improved somewhat once I was able to keep my yarn straight.

Here's a close-up of the stitchwork on a mystery hat. As you can see (I hope), I did my first cables. I looooove cables, you guys. They're total genius. It was a hell of a breakthrough for me once I was able to comprehend that you don't have to knit stitches in the same order. That's all a basic cable is: stitches knitted out of order. I think for my next fancy sock, I'll use Nancy Bush's Conwy pattern, which features tiny braided cables. I did the hat in a worsted weight alpaca I purchased from the Inter-America Group on eBay. I think that the next time I do a hat, though, I will use bamboo needles, which are of course much lighter than metal ones. The metal ones were heavy enough to cramp my wrists a little bit.

Finally, I offer you two lonely socks. One is the Eclipse sock I've been blogging about forever; I've just finished the gusset decreases on its mate, so "all" I've got left is the long, slow march to the toe. My progress on this sock has been hampered by its tedium. I desperately want the pair to be done so that I can start another plain stockinette pair in Meilenweit Colortweed, of which I, um, have three different shades. The other sock is my Vintage Sock project, the Child's French sock. It is nigh impossible to photograph it adequately, so I hope you will take it on faith that it is as it ought to be. I am extremely worried about blocking this sock; since it's not a superwash wool, I can't count on the drier to shrink it back to size if it grows. I suspect that it's going to grow quite badly because the pattern called for 72 stitches across 2.5mm needles, which equals a lot of extra yarn for a sock. I am waiting to block it until I finish the pair (I am working on the heel flap of the second right now) because if it blows, I'll never finish and I'll just have this loose thread hanging over my life forever and on my death bed I'll say, I should've finished those goddamn socks, and I'll find out that hell is really just me tediously working on the other sock forever knowing that there were no elephants in hell to wear this huge never-to-be-finished goddamn sock [redacted for length and increasing hysteria].

One kind of gross thing is that this yarn proved to be a frigging beacon for cat hair. My cats are awesome, but I really don't feel the need to knit anything from their fur. As a side note, I'm using Knit Picks DPNs and they are really excellent. (As for the color of the sock, the picture of the full sock represents the color much better than in the close-up.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Seriously?! I want a do-over.

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Dishcloth Cotton.You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.
Take this quiz!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

In place of a real post, I offer you a yarn quiz.

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why didn't we think of this?

Hand-dyed yarn inspired by TV shows -- brilliant, right? There's even a Law & Order colorway. Quick, somebody disable my paypal account!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

FO in the house!!!

Now the only question is whether the finished object will go OUT of the house...

So, yeah, I finished the straps and the seams and wove in the ends on my tank top tonight, and though it it certainly far from flawlessly made and I do have some qualms about it, the more I look at it, the more I think it may be the most wearable knitted garment I've yet produced. Just to recap, this is the razor cami from a free (and quite popular) pattern from Katie Knits. (Having looked around on the site, I've decided I also want to knit everything Katie Knits. She makes just the kind of fitted sweaters I hope I can learn to knit for myself.) I used just over 4 skeins of a cotton/modal blend yarn, Knit Picks Shine Sport in Silver Sage, and I followed the pattern pretty much to the letter, except that I didn't do the constrast edging at the top and I made my straps with I-cord instead of ribbing. This pattern was really a lot of fun to knit because it required just the right amount of concentration and attention to detail -- not so much that I couldn't properly watch TV while knitting, but not so little I wanted to hang myself with yarn out of boredom by the time my knitted tube was 16" long. The true test of this project, though, will come when I attempt to make an outfit with the cami and get through a day feeling comfortable in it. If that hap
pens, I'll really feel like I completed something.

Next up, I need to finish the second of my pair of Vintage Socks, but before I do, I will probably cast on the Fiber Trends felted clogs I've been planning to make (it seems like everyone knits these, but here is one example I like). I already have the yarn, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in avocado and blueberry (Okay, so we really like Knit Picks... We do not, however, like Knit Picks' pattern for a knitted tie. If there are any fathers reading this: DON'T WORRY, we will never knit you ties!). I even bought new needles and ordered the pattern from a seller on eBay. So there is a lot invested in this, my first adventure in felting. And though I've come to regret the Christmas of the novelty yarn scarf and I can promise there will never be a Christmas of the knitted tie, I can't promise that if this pattern proves as fun as I expect it will that 2007 won't see the Christmas of the felted clog...

Mirabile dictu!

So I've spent the last week or so--countless hours of television!--attempting to reproduce the Knitty Corazon pattern (more or less), and I've finished the mittens, finally. They're blocking now and I'll post pictures when they're done drying. In the meantime, I'll show you the nifty new trick I learned. I've put the picture at left because, um, it makes the post look better, but think of it as a preview of the amazing, incredible, unbelievable (POW! KAZAAM!) afterthought thumb. It's genius, you guys.

First, I made a few modifications to the pattern. Quite obviously, I used different yarns. I decided to go with Knit Picks Elegance, a 70% alpaca and 30% silk blend, in coal and barn red (I'm not normally a red person, but I'm matching two scarves I already own and a hat I made a long time ago. This red is lovely as reds go, however). I love alpaca, even though actual alpacas are kind of weird looking and certainly not as cute as sheep. Alpaca is so soft and lightweight--and still warm, apparently, although it's already pretty damn warm in New Jersey right now. It's sort of like sticking your hands in flour. The Elegance developed a fuzzy halo, especially on the palm, where the colors alternate so frequently. It makes the colorwork less precise. I think the effect is neat, but may be a drawback to alpaca yarn if you don't like that.

The modifications to the pattern itself: those of you who know Spanish would, I imagine, recognize immediately that the word "corazon" means heart (I think?), but I spent my college years (and now, alas, part of this summer) on Latin and I didn't realize until right before I was going to start knitting that the design is actually made up of hearts. That's a little too cutesy for me. I made a minor change to the design and substituted a contrast color stitch to a main color stitch on the joins between each heart and made the effect more sort of abstractly floral. I also made the cuffs about 3" instead of the 2" called for by the pattern, and used size 2 needles for the cuff & top (I wanted to make sure I had a snug fit) instead of size 3s. Finally, and most noticeably, after knitting the top shaping decreases, kitchenering the top, and blocking the first mitten, I realized that I still hated the point at the top, and also that the mitten was way too long, so I ripped it back about an inch.

But! The amazing trick I learned by working this pattern was the afterthought thumb. It's so cool. I am really inching to start a new pair of socks so I can try out the afterthought heel, which works along the same principle. You knit in a piece of waste yarn in the spot where you want your thumb (or heel) and then slip the stitches with the waste yarn back to the left needle and continue working in pattern. Then when everything's all done, you come back and "unzip" the stitches on the waste yarn and pick them up. It's total genius. I did have to reinforce the base of the thumb, as the picked up stitches can make a bit of a mess at the joins, or, at least, they did for me. I imagine that none of that really made sense, and I can't say it really did for me until about the fifth time I read the Corazon pattern and meditated on what it means to "unzip" for awhile. It will suffice to say that it's awesome.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A dollar short.

I have photos for you people (notice that I boldly assume the plural) and projects to share, but I can't find my camera cord. In the meantime, I encourage you to imagine a finished RCC Eclipse sock and a finished Child's French sock, as well as a pair of mittens about 3/4 of the way done.

Monday, May 28, 2007

the fruits of my leisure

I (finally!) have some new listings to share. A pair of them, in fact. They're nothing too different as I'm just getting warmed up again, but it felt nice to get out the supplies again after leaving them so long neglected (especially the ones that accumulated during the paper-writing blitz). I've got a huge stash of briolettes waiting, so I fear there is much wire-wrapping ahead....

Aside from the jewelry making, I have also been knitting quite
intensely this week, knitting with a goal in mind, for once. I had decided awhile back I wanted to make a tank top and for a long time I vacillated between the Honeymoon Camisole from Knitty and the Summertime Tunic, one of the free patterns offered by Interweave Knits, but a week ago I came across this pattern for a lace camisole and knew it was perfect. I took this picture of my progress a couple days ago, but now, three discs of TV on DVD later, I'm only about 3" from the top (it's knit in the round from the bottom up). And so my goal is to finish it and wear it before it gets so hot here that I can't bear to put on any clothes at all.