Monday, May 30, 2011

Arm Hole Decreases

I have found what I am expecting to be the bane of my garment knitting life. Since the only two garments I have knit have been cabled and lace, perhaps it was a poor introduction to the concept. Arm hole decreases suck! It has been two steps forward, one step back (if not two) for the last week or so with my whisker cardi. I have to decrease one stitch at either end, but maintain the pattern. This sounds simple enough, expect the pattern has increase rows, decrease rows and lots of yarn overs. So being sure I am even decreasing a stitch at both ends can be a challenge. There have been a few times where rather than following the decrease instructions I've instead eliminated a yarn-over. This is mostly due to the fact that a few rows start with decreases in the same place as where I would be decreasing anyway. I figure for the sake of the pattern and my sanity that removing the following yarn-over creates the same effect and won't be noticed. The problem really gets to be that every row I have to figure out what part of the 6 stitch repeat (increase rows are 8 stitches) I am looking at and then using the chart to figure out what I should be doing to those stitches. This process can sometimes take up to 15 minutes and involve tinking a few times. It's even more frustrating due to the fact that I am so close to finishing the back of this sweater. Which means I could easily finish it before my July deadline. I have gotten to the point where as long as the pattern looks mostly correct, I am happy. My perfectionist ways have been overridden by my deep frustration.

This is why I am happy I now have a new project to take up some of my creative processes. I have finally started (with a lot of help from a friend) making the Steam Punk costume I have wanted to do for the last 2 years. I want to have this done before SDCC and it might even be possible. The costume will eventually be a series of interchangeable elements that will allow for the change of one or two pieces to create and entirely new outfit. For now, I am focusing on getting a jacket, skirt and shirt done. I am also going to try to knit a few accessories. I haven't sewed a whole lot since I was a kid, so this is a bit ambitious. Thank you again to my friend who is far more experienced than me and has been gracious enough to help me out. I will be sure to post pictures as I go along and also of the finished project.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blogaversary and LYS tour 2011

So, I didn't realize it, but I have now been blogging for a year! How crazy is that? According to my blogspot statistics, I've had over 1000 page views in that year some from as far away as Malaysia and Poland. Pretty neat stuff. Most of my readers come to my page via Ravelry and my event posts seem to be the most read. So, without further ado here is my LYS tour 2011 review.

Last year was my first experience with the LYS tour and I was a new knitter. I had no stash and didn't really know what stash was. Now after 1.5 years of knitting, the stash has gotten a little crazy. Last year I went to every shop on the tour and bought at least one skein of yarn at almost every single store. One might ask, how much of that yarn do you have left after a year? Yeah... it's embarrassing, most of it lays un-knit in one of my two storage containers. I know, compared to some of you, my stash is weak, but I do currently have 40 skeins of sock yarn. *sigh* So between my stash issues and also the fact that elections for Sakura-Con are tomorrow (and I'm up for re-election) I couldn't do the whole tour this year. I did manage to do 13 yarn shops today though. I went to all the shops in Seattle and south of Seattle. I was pretty proud of myself for doing it in 7 hours. It made for a busy, but fun day.

Last year I tried to be very diplomatic about my reviews, this year I just think I'll stick to being honest. I started at my home shop which is Renaissance Yarns. It is literally 5 minutes from my house. I may be a bit partial with this one as I love and adore all of the ladies there. Michell Mauer yet again made a fun and original pattern. It is called climbing leaves fingerless gloves. There is also a matching hat that one can get out of the same skein of yarn that will be posted later on their website. The best part for me was they chose to use Liberty Yarn's sportmagudi. Liberty is a local indie dyer who also does handmade soap. One of the presents I got for the con guests this year was a custom batch of her soap infused with sake in a cherry blossom scent. It was fantastic! Anyway, I digress. I was happy to see one of the shops supporting a local dyer and I love the colors they brought in for it. I personally picked up a skein in flicker LE. Which is a lovely variegated purple.

The next shop on my trek was The Knittery. Their pattern was a scarf done in Stacy Charles Luna. It was pretty and ruffly and reminded me a bit of Churchmouse's pattern from last year. It is called Flower Garden Scarf by Win Fisher. I apologize for the poor picture, but they didn't really have the pattern out where you could look at it or photograph it easily.

From there I went up to the Quah and Cultured Purls. I was hoping to replace my recently belated size 1 circulars (RIP) that had snapped mid toe increases while working on some anklets. However, they didn't have any 40 or 47in Knit Picks circulars. Oh well, that's what I get for being picky. Their pattern was one of the three neckwarmers I saw today. It is called Cable Mesh Cowl and has some nice cables with lace in-between them. Done is Cascade Pure Alpaca, I am sure it would be quite warm. Cultured Purls is always a lovely shop and even has quiviut now in stock. It's kept in a glass case so it doesn't accidentally fall into anyone's knitting bag. At $80 a skein, I don't blame them!

So, Serial Knitters is a new shop and has been open for just under a year. As such it was new to the tour and I was excited to check it out. They had signs outside with baloons saying LYS tour on them. They also had some ladies out helping to direct traffic to their supplemental parking area. They were a really nice bunch! They had both a crochet and a knit pattern. Their knit pattern was It's a Cinch by Anneliese Wallborn. Done in Madeline Tosh Light (left) it is a cool scarf with an i-cord running through it so you can cinch up the ruffles and have more of a collar or stretch them out and have a scarf. The crochet pattern is Mesmerizing Mobius by Clare Cronkleton and uses Manos Del Uruguay Serena (right). It's the first crochet mobius I've seen and it was kindof cool. I collected the crochet patterns for my co-worker who re-taught me to crochet which indirectly lead to my learning to knit. The shop was really well laid out and had some nice yarns. I was particularly smitten with the Black Trillium yarn near the register.

After hitting 520 and crossing the water I ended up at Acorn Street Shop. I forgot how much yarn this place has. It's small, but it is packed to the gills. I spotted some lovely Mountain Colors yarn while I was there as well as some mohair I'd never seen before. I am definitely going to have to keep them in mind for future yarn shopping. They were one of 2 shops kind enough to put their pattern in a page sleeve, which I greatly appreciate. Like last year I'd like to put these all into a binder for easy keeping. Their Holding Hands Scarf by Karen Aho is lacey and lovely. They used Araucania Itata which is a wool silk and bamboo blend and feels quite lovely. The pattern really does look like people holding hands. The other thing about Acorn that I greatly appreciated was the little bottles of water they had out. It was quite refreshing!

Fiber Gallery, home of the Doubleknit Twins was next. Sadly, I didn't see Erin or Jessica while I was there. Cabled Caps for All is a multi size pattern done in Malabrigo Rios. They had a lovely assortment of colors out when I got there. At this point I was wondering if the ahem.. temperate spring we've been having influenced the pattern selection this year. Everything seemed to be warm and cozy. Fiber Gallery had some really unique yarns in stock, including ones made from banana silk and some sort of interesting cotton. They had one that also had glass beads worked into the plies. I also spotted a nice selection of Hand Maiden yarns and some Zauberball lace ball on clearance.

At this point I was getting really hungry and things were starting to blur together. My only thought, was that Joe's restaurant was near the next two shops I wanted to hit. So I set it in my mind that after those two shops will have earned lunch. So I worked my way through the crowds of University District farmer's market folks and hit up Bad Woman Yarn. They had lady out front selling beautifully quilted, handmade needle cases. They had both a knit and crochet pattern for the tour. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the crochet pattern. Their knit pattern was Palouse by Marjorie Walter, using Madelinetosh Merino Light. By the time I got there, out of the 100 skeins of Merino Light they ordered for the tour, they had 1 left. It was yellow which some of you may know is not my color. They were subbing in Malabrigo Sock, which I snagged in Candombe. Okay, so if any of you are noticing a theme, I'm a sucker for purple lately. Bad Woman also has a great clearance area and they were busily pairing their 40% off yarns with patterns so you could get an idea for what to make with it. They had some great Noro on clearance as well as several other lovely discontinued yarns.

Tea Cozy Yarns was another new addition for the tour. Out in Ballard, it's a bit of a haul. Just getting through the crush of bodies and finding a parking spot was an adventure. I was excited to see that their pattern was indeed a Tea Cozy! Aptly named the Tea Cozy Tea Cozy by Patricia McHugh. They used Cascade 220 Superwash Paints and had some fantastic colors in stock. Including a lovely mauve one. I was happy to see a more economical yarn getting some love here. Sadly, I was so focused on the prospect of lunch, I completely forgot to get a picture. The tea cozy, looked very cozy however.

After some tasty Stumptown coffee, hasbrowns and eggs I felt much better. That was until I realized that Tricoter was really back by Acorn Street and that I was going to have to subject myself to the construction on Mercer and several detours to get back over there. While I love that they group their yarns by color, that pretty much ends my thoughts on Tricoter. I was sad to see the only Knit Picks needles they had were double points and so my search for size 1 circulars was still on going. Also, this year and last they had the most expensive yarn for their 1 skein. This year it was Filatura di Crosa Crystal. This is a sparkly polyester/cotton blend that they used to make a head band. It was $37 per skein before the 10% off for the tour. They were giving you elastic for free with yarn purchase though. The Knotted Lace Headband looked great on the lady in front of me who tried it on after getting her passport stamped. I'm sure it's great for someone, but sparkly headbands are just not me. The photo is of their modeled photo they had on display. The one I took of the actual headband ended up being a bit blurry.

Going to So Much Yarn always reminds me of some secret spy mission. You have to find it, and then be buzzed in. It's like a private yarn club or something. This was my first time there since the recent change in ownership. The new crew was lovely and polite. There was gentleman on staff who was even knitting! Their Starry Shawlette by Lauren Lindeman was done with Dream in Color Starry. The original pattern has square ends, but the lady talking about the pattern had come up with a modification to give it the more common tapered ends. Done mostly in stockinette, it has a lovely eyelet border. I forgot to photo this one as well. Sorry guys!

Next up was Seattle Yarn. I loved their 2010 pattern and was excited about checking out their button collection again. Upon walking in I was greeted by something new. They had mink yarn! I mean 100% mink!! It was so soft and feathery and under $30 a skein. 1 skein made a nicely sized scarf which they had on display. This however, was not the tour yarn or pattern, sadly. Their knitted pattern was Wristlet Whimsy by Virginia Bowen. I think if I had a little girl, this could be something she'd enjoy. A Chenille wristlet made in Muench Touch me Due, isn't my thing though. Their crochet pattern by Shannon Mullet-Bowlsby called La Vigne was done in Manos Wool Classica. It's a pretty series of crocheted leaves , but again not my thing. Yes, I'm a bad blogger and forgot to get photos here either. I was distracted by the mink yarn again.

The Yarn Stash's The Question Bag, was fantastic! It redeemed the bag overkill from the 2010 tour by coming up with something totally unique and easy. It's a mock cable and moss stitch pattern worked in the round using Cascade Yarn's Ultra Cotton Pima. The yarn is silky and fantastic and bags are super cute! The lady at the shop recommended making the i-cord drawstring first so that you can knit the bag until you run out of yarn. The ladies there were really nice to me. I had been on the lookout for a binder all day and asked there as I had gotten one there in 2010. They said they didn't do them this year. However, they printed out the cover sheet for me while I browsed the wide selection of colors the Cotton Pima came in, so I could make my own binder! They also complimented my Norwegian selbu slap bracelet. I can't say enough nice things about the staff there. Also, the fantastic sub $10 1 skein offering!

So, my last stop for today is a shop that is actually not far from my house. For some reason, I've never gone there. I pulled into Unraveled Yarn & Artful Gifts at 5:40. With 20 minutes to spare I realaxed and enjoyed browsing. Their Your mother Says to Button Up, neck warmer by Mary Triplett does not list the yarn on the pattern. Sadly, I've forgotten what they used. It's a very cute pattern and they had a version done in a Malabrigo variegated yarn as well that looked nice. The shop had a nice selection of yarns including some cool brushed mohair, multi yarn type skeins and other assortments. I picked up a Creative Couture yarn caddy while I was there. It'll look great clipped onto my Latern Moon Sapa bag this summer.

In the end, I came out with 3 skeins of yarn and the yarn caddy. Much better than my $400 haul last year. I wish I could finish the tour though. It was fun seeing all of the different shops last year. It was also a blast taking my husband yarn shopping with me. With 25 stores on the tour, it is a bit daunting. The only way I did it in 2010 was by taking a day off of work. I know it can be done in 2 days (or one if you are suicidal), but you can't enjoy it in that period of time. I wish more yarn shops would feature the lovely local artisans yarns we have in the area. I would be much more inclined to pay $20 for locally sourced alpaca than for something sparkly and mass produced. My thanks to all the hard working yarn shop owners and staff for keeping this thing going though. See you all in 2012, (or likely before hand given my yarn addiction)!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ok, I just finished watching the new episode of Doctor Who written by Neil Gaiman, The Doctor's Wife. I apologize if I am a bit over excited, but that was one of the best episodes of any TV show that I have seen since Mulder kissed Scully on New Years. I mean it was Doctor Who meets Neverwhere, but it was all Doctor Who. You can tell Gaiman is definitely a fan of the series and knows his stuff. Suranne Jones did an amazing job of playing the TARDIS. How do you even direct a part like that? So, you are a possibly sentient non-physical entity that powers an multidimensional, time and space traveling craft that has been trapped in a human body. Let's see your thoughts on the part.. Anyway, I am just blown away and giddy with excitement. I wish they'd get Neil Gaiman to do a whole season. The man is an effing genius and I love his work.

My original plans for this post was to discuss that due to the presence of this shiny ball of bright stuff in the sky today I got a lot done. It makes my yarn look really pretty in photos. So I managed to photograph my new stash additions as well as some old ones. I now only have about 7 balls in my Ravelry stash page that are un-photographed. Now that I am taking pictures regularly, I really want a digital SLR. I have put it off since they came out, because I just don't do photography as much as I used to. I am looking into a Sony camera, for the sole fact that my Minolta lenses from my SLR will fit it. That'll save me about $1000 over trying to replace what I currently have. Also, I am not looking to do professional photography, just to have something that will work and make me happy. I am considering the Sony A55 which I have read some great reviews on. It's downfalls are fast motion, which isn't something I ever do anymore, and the upshot is good lowlight photography, which I do a lot of these days. It came out in the 3rd quarter of 2010, so I will be keeping my eye on the reviews for a bit. I think this post is getting a bit long, so I will leave you with some pictures of my Whisker Cardigan I have been working on. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Ok, I think everyone knows about my poorly disguised knitting obsession. However, there are other things in my life that I am obsessed with. One of which is coffee, which happens to be the current inspiration for this post. I love coffee! I don't mean Folgers or Starbucks, I mean good coffee. I am constantly on the search for coffee I can fall in love with. Thankfully I live in the greater Seattle area, so this isn't such a great challenge. My new favorite are the Portland encroachers, Stumptown. Since they opened their Seattle roasting location several area restaurants have switched over to them, including my husband's. There coffee is just simply fantastic. I have had 3 of their different varietals and not only are they all distinct, but they are all fantastic. They use fair trade or as they call it direct trade coffee and they have several organic options as well. Everything is small batch roasted and it makes for a superior product. I got to see their Seattle roasting location and I was simply in heaven. Currently I am drinking their Holler Mountain blend, which I made using my Keurig (I said I like good coffee, not that I am a coffee snob) and I am just delighted. It makes me want to reconsider using a press pot (ugh the work involved!) as it would probably taste even better.

My other obsession recently has been a new game for my Xbox 360. I got Might and Magic Clash of Heroes and over 3 days have logged 20 hours on the single player campaign. Joe and I have also spent a lot of time on the multi-player game. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a console game so much. It just goes back to the old school roots of gaming and has a decent story line, lots of strategy and fun turn based game play. It won't bole you over with amazing CGI graphics or get your blood pumping with it's intensity, but it will exercise your brain. That is what I like in my games.

With my current bronchitis issue, I haven't gotten a lot of knitting done sadly. For some reason when I am sick I don't feel like concentrating that much. The whisker cardi is coming along though and I think I am up to about 4in on the back. The pattern gets easier every time I get through it again. I think it'll make a really nice piece for summer.