Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just in time

I'm totally over-posting, but I figure once I start working, blogging may take a hit.

Anyway, autumn's definitely here. I was waiting for the bus a couple of nights ago, and really really wished I had gloves or something, because it was freezing. So these are just in time.

Endpaper Mitts
Yarn: Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, half a ball of each colour, for both mitts
Needles: 2.0 mm and 2.5 mm dpns
Pattern: Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts

Notes: The first stranded colourwork project for me. To make it easier on myself, I could probably have chosen colours that were a better contrast. But, hey, for a first, it's alright. My gauge was tighter than called for, but that's okay; it means the mitts are nice and snuggly.

It was also the first time I bothered with a tubular bind-off. I didn't do the fancy cast on called for in the pattern.

I quite like the tubular bind off. It produces a really nice, non-bulky edge. It's fiddlier, definitely, but for some reason, I "got" it really quickly. Which is weird, because every time I kitchener, I still have to look up the instructions.

I don't get the love of faux seams Eunny has. She put in two for the mitt, but I only put in the one on the inside. And my tension, wonky enough for the rest of the mitt, got really weird around the seam. I'm glad I didn't put in the other one.

All in all, a good project. But they're really long! I know I'm short, anyway, but these go nearly up to my elbows. There's plenty of both colours left. I could totally do another pair. If I knit these again, I'd make them shorter, maybe only two repeats of the arm part instead of three. I'd omit both seams and just have the pattern continue right across (there'd be a jog, but maybe there's a workaround for that)

(Look! One pinkie's way shorter than the other! I swear this isn't true normally. Huh. Magic finger shortening mitts.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Something new

(Before I start, thanks Averil for reminding me that moving is done all the time and that I, and others, have survived before. It really did help.)

I've managed to calm myself down somewhat about the whole moving thing. I took stock of the situation and realized that this is probably the cushiest move I've ever made. We can keep the room here in Dublin with our stuff (and, more importantly, the cat!) for as long as we need to. It's cheap, so that's no problem. (I never thought I'd be 30, married, and in shared housing, but it made living on one income possible, and we even managed to save up some money.) The Limey had the good sense to ask his new employers for relocation expenses, so not only will they pay for the move, but they'll pay for us to go over there and look for housing. So we're doing that next week. I realized that the worst case scenario meant we'd have to live in a business hotel or B&B for a few weeks while we keep our stuff here in Dublin, and we have the money to cover that. So what was I worried about again?

Still, there was a bit of stress, and I realize it was probably not the best time to learn stranded colourwork, but Lien had recommended some fair isle by Eunny Jang a while ago, and I really liked the idea (thanks!) so I started on the Endpaper Mitts. New technique + careful tension control requirement + stress = not the best work I've ever done.

I did a few repeats of the pattern while trying to train myself in stranding. It's like learning to knit all over again. I tried to do it two-handed, but could not keep even tension on my right hand no matter how hard I tried. So then I did it with both colours in my left hand, first with both colours over my index finger, then with one over the index finger and the other over the middle finger. This last method is what I eventually settled on. It still looked crap, but I decided to just go with it.

Like everyone said, blocking does help with the colourwork, as you can see here:

The mitt on the bottom has been washed and blocked; the mitt on the top hasn't. However, no amount of blocking can hide the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.

Quite lumpy and uneven. The weird thing is that it's just the purple that seems lumpy to me. Obviously that could be due to my not tensioning correctly with one of my fingers, but the other mitt was done with the colours reversed, and it's still the purple that looks weird to me. I made sure to always carry the pattern colour over my middle finger and the background colour over my index finger. So I don't know what's up with that.

The reverse side looks alright to me, but, then again, I don't know what correctly-tensioned stranded colourwork is supposed to look like on the wrong side.

Perhaps someone with experience in this could tell me if it looks obvious that I'm carrying one colour or the other too loosely or too tightly. I have no clue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nervous knitting

The only upside to all that stress is that I need to knit to keep my mind off things. I took advantage of this to work on the two WIPs that have been sitting around since March.

The Neverending Socks of Slight Girliness
Yarn: Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply, 50g of the black and 25-30g of the blue, from Knit2Together/Cucumberpatch in Wolstanton
Needles: 2.0mm double points
Pattern: (what should have been) basic toe-ups

Notes: I started these for The Limey in April. April! I chose the stitch pattern after I saw it on Knitpicks' Mock Croc sock pattern. I've also seen it since in a sock pattern book (maybe in Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks?). The Limey picked out the colours himself. These are the Neverending Socks because of the following:

1) I chose the stitch pattern because I thought it would be less boring than yet another basic rib pattern. Oh, how wrong I was. It's basically a lace rib, which means that it's just as boring as any 3x2 rib would be, except that I can't even mindlessly knit because I have to keep track of rows so I know where to put in the lace round. So it was not a joy to work on.

2) I started these socks toe-up with the Turkish cast-on so I could make the toes asymmetrical, because The Limey has pointy feet. The first try was too pointy. The second try felt a little weird, he said, but maybe it was okay. I merrily knit the rest of the foot, short-rowed the heel, after which he tried it on and said it was too weird and he would prefer a normal rectangular toe. I did not kill him. Eventually I just knit the rest of the sock, unraveled the toe bit, picked up the foot stitches, and knit a rectangular toe down.

3) I had only one ball of the black, which was going to have to do for the main body of both socks. The Limey vetoed a positive/negative coloured pair. So after I'd done the heel of the first sock, I kept thinking, Uh-oh, I'll have to stop soon because I need enough for the second sock. If I still worked in lab, I'd just take the yarn in, weigh it, and stop at 25g, but I have no access to a good balance right now. This went on for months. I'd knit a couple rounds, then stop due to this fear. In the end, I cannibalized some 2.0mm needles from my Print O' The Wave and started the second sock from the other end of the ball of yarn. My estimate was pretty good. By the time the second sock got around to the length of the first, there was only enough black yarn left for another two rows on each sock.

So: the Neverending Socks. Actually, it took me five months to knit just the first one; the second took me four days. And the lace does make them ever-so-slightly girly. But that's okay.

The second WIP I worked on was Print O' the Wave. I started this around the same time I started the Neverending Socks. Firstly, I would like to say right off that it is not my fault that I ran out of yarn. The pattern said I'd need 500 yards of cobweb weight yarn. I had 600m. I checked around everywhere to make sure it was indeed cobweb weight. Not only that, but I actually made the damn thing skinnier. Instead of 4 horizontal repeats in the centre panel, I only did 3. Okay, I made it slighty longer, but that took nowhere near as much yarn as doing all 4 repeats would have. So, once again: not my fault that it looks like this:

See where the needles come out of the knitting? That's how much edging is left to do. See that bit of yarn there at the lower right? That's how much yarn is left.

I've already checked with the Margaret Stove people in New Zealand, where I got the yarn. Obviously the dye lot is long gone, but they do have some of the same colour. So I'll just order a skein of that and hope the difference isn't too glaring. I'm sure it'll be noticeable, but damned if I'm going to frog this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In denial

Whole shedloads of things have to be done in the next couple of weeks. I've done none of it. I'm in total denial about what I need to do. We need to sort out the move, but we don't have anywhere to move to. We can't find a place to move into in the next few weeks, so we have to find a temporary place. I need to sort out bank accounts and tax numbers (without a permanent address! Ha!). I know I have to do all this but I can't get myself to think about it. It's a kind of mental paralysis.

Every time I try to turn my mind to the whole thing, it starts panicking. If there was a gauge or meter on it, you'd see the needle ramp up to the "Red: danger" zone, so my brain shuts down. A nice, cooling grey film sort of drops over the whole thing. But that background level of panic is still there; I live in a constant state of mild hyperventilation and slightly elevated heart rate. There's a continuous buzzing in my head.

I fear that this is my life for the next month of month and a half.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Two-body problem

You get bonus job hunting stories! Courtesy of The Limey's life. May be boring to some people, but I know I appreciated hearing others' experiences while I was job-hunting and while I was in grad school and post-docing.

A while ago, The Limey applied for a job at a lab on the outskirts of London. It's a great lab, good reputation, and a really good job. A senior scientist position. He thought it was way out of his league- some of the other senior scientists there had been lecturers (lower ranked professors, for the 'Mericans). I convinced him to apply because, really, what did he have to lose? He didn't hear from them for weeks and assumed he hadn't made the cut. (Some places just don't let you know; it's so rude.)

Then he got a phone call asking if they could schedule some phone time to talk to him about the position. I guess the way they phrased it, he figured it would just be a quick chat, maybe to ask for his references and set up an in-person interview. He was happy, but didn't worry about it, so said Sure, I've got time tomorrow afternoon. It turned out to be a full-on formal phone interview. With a four person panel of scientists. They asked him all sorts of questions, ranging from "Where would you get funding for this type of work?" and "Which specific British industries and companies could benefit from this research?" to general physics questions. General physics questions! Like at your dissertation defense and qualifying exams! No one keeps general physics in their heads except for exams! That's what reference books are for!

Obviously, The Limey was in no way prepared. He was depressed for a week afterwards. I told him there was no way anyone could have done well at an interview like that without warning. If they hadn't made it clear that it was a formal interview, what do they expect?

Two weeks later, they called again asking for him to go over there to give a presentation and visit the labs.

Two days ago, they told him he's got the job.

I would like to state here that I take full credit for his getting this job. Every step of the way, he was convinced he wasn't qualified. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he refused to believe that he had the skills and experience they were looking for. You want to have been in this house while he was preparing his presentation. They had given him a few important points they wanted him to cover. These were things post-docs don't usually think about- they were things that concerned people who managed a research group, not the lowly bench workers in the research group. Every day I had to convince him that they obviously felt he had the background to do this. Every day I had to remind him that if they didn't think he could do it, they wouldn't have invited him over for the interview. Every day, he wanted to call them and withdraw his application. Aaargh. Eventually I told him to think of it as practice for other interviews.

Anyway, of course he got the job. He's a genius. I looked over his talk before he went over there- it was really good. It was easily at a senior scientist / lecturer level.

Now, of course, we're all very happy and everything. But we have to find a place to live between London and Southampton. Urrgh. It's looking like...Woking. I know. I know! But there's a direct train to S'hampton and The Limey can drive or train/bike to work. It'll be close to an hour's commute for him and a bit more than an hour for me.

Anyone have advice on how to find a place over there? Also, will the cat be an issue with renting? Freakin' cat. If she weren't so cute, I tell you...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The whole shebang is on Flickr.

In my defense, Diane asked for it.

Also, photographing the yarn (dang, it's hard) and putting this together meant I didn't have to think about packing and moving for a couple of hours.

Edited to add: I've had a look at other people's stashes, and mine is teeny. Teeny, I tell you. I've only got sweater-sized lots of two yarns. (And, yes, my guess is that I will run out of the Jaeger ExtraFine Merino when I try to make a long-sleeved swingy hooded, cabled cardigan out of the six balls.) The rest is a small stash of sock yarn and random bits. The Limey has nothing to complain about. Nothing!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dye job

I bought some of Habu's raw silk- wrapped paper (N-24) a month or so ago from Loop. It was white, white, white. In some of these pictures (click to biggerize), you can see the fine silk threads.

I hardly ever wear anything plain and blindingly white, so I thought I'd dye it. After some advice from a few people at SnB and on the Knittyboard, I went with the safe and easy route and bought some Dylon from the Dublin Woollen Mills. The Dylon specifically said it would work for both linen and silk. So after a bath, I got this:

The colour on the picture on the left is closest to the true colour. When I first thought about dyeing it, I wanted a steely-blue-grey. Unfortunately, the Dylon choice of colours is less than vast, so I just went with #16 Slate Grey. Fortunately, it came out almost exactly as I'd wanted. The pictures show it a bit more blue than it really is. But the colour came out beautifully and evenly.

The problem is now: what am I going to do with it? It's like knitting with raffia (if your raffia was hand shredded by Japanese elves and then had silk lovingly wrapped around it by baby pixies) and I don't know if it will soften, although others have said other kinds of Habu linen does soften.

I've googled my little fingers off, but I can't find anyone who's done anything with this yarn, except for the Paper Bag, by Just Call Me Ruby for Knitty. The net-o-sphere and blogoweb have failed me this time. I'd really like to see some other examples of this yarn knitted up, so if anyone knows of any, please point me to it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Anything for geek love

Yarn: Fyberspates Aran yarn, 100% Bluefaced Leicester Wool, in Teal, from This Is Knit
Needles: 4.0 mm circulars, magic loop
Pattern: the ever popular Fetchings, by Cheryl Niamath for Knitty

Notes: I didn't do these in the recommended Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran because I have a pair made from it last year and it pills like crazy. Not good for the hands. Though the Fyberspates says aran, and the Cashmerino says aran, they are of wildly differing thicknesses. The Fyberspates stuff is much thicker. A heavy aran, maybe? Anyway, I still used the pattern's 4.0 mm needles, resulting in mitts that could be used to deflect bullets, Wonder Woman-like.

These are for my housemate S's new fancy lady. He asked me the other day if I knew where he could get fingerless gloves or mittens, because the FL had mentioned her hands get cold, but she needs her fingers free for work, as she is a professional computer geek. So of course I said, Well, you could buy them, or...And showed him my Fetchings. It takes no time to make a pair, so he accepted my offer to knit some up. I toddled down to Blackrock to get suitable yarn. These pictures make them look bluer than they are. The yarn is quite teal.

(I love this picture. The Limey made me all those origami flowers.)

More likely, this will be their normal environment, though:

Edited to add: Now I've run out of knitting projects. (We shall not mention the WIPs that are like a millstone around my neck.) Ideas? A sweater-size project would be good. Or something that uses up all those single balls of Jaeger 4-ply I got from Jackie in a swap.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some responses

I wanted to respond to some comments on my Central Park Copy post.

I'm not sure what the best way to respond to comments is. Personal e-mail? Some people don't leave that information. In the comments section? Maybe people don't go back and read it.


Chemgrrl (I'm assuming that's your blog!):
Yay for running out of yarn!
Hmm, that statement will likely come back to bite me in the ass.
Yes! It will come back to bite you in the ass. Just ask me about my Print O' the Wave. If I ever start a knit-only blog, I will title it "...And then I ran out of yarn"

And exactly how many articles of clothing have you finished while I'm still on the same ol' thing.
Ah, but you must remember I don't have a job. Or kids. And I've always been a really bad housekeeper. All that nervous energy waiting for people to interview me / make decisions / hire me (or not) would kill me if I didn't channel it somehow. And I'm not channelling it into housework, let me tell you.

Great job, I like the collar modification... might have to steal it for my outstanding collar modification! :)
I do like the collar. If I could do it again, I'd make it wider, though. It's 8.5 cm tall, and it should probably be closer to 12 cm. I did a third with the needle I knit the rest of the cardi in, switched to a needle 0.5 mm bigger for another third, and then bigger still for the rest. I wanted it to flare out just a little bit.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Central Park Copy

Central Park Cardi
Yarn: 450 g of Aran Tweed that I got from Commodum, in Dingle
Needles: 3.5 mm for the body, with the collar knit on 4.0 mm and 4.5 mm
Pattern: a shameless copy of Knitscene's Central Park Hoodie

Notes: Well, you know, I couldn't get a copy of the Fall 2006 Knitscene, and the other possibilities I had for this yarn didn't work out. I looked at a bunch of CPHs, counted ribs and cables, crossed my fingers and went for it. I do cables without a cable needle, using Grumperina's tutorial.
Here's a look at the double, mirrored cable on the back. Uh, ignore the wonky collar there.

As you can see, I don't have a hood. I ran out of yarn, so just put in a tall collar instead. This way, when it's cold, I can just wear the collar up for a bit of extra warmth.

I will probably just end up wearing it open a lot.

I think this project made me totally fall in love with cables. I used to think they were a bit too much, too busy visually, but not so!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's almost worth the carbon footprint

I was wandering about Luton airport last night, wasting time before boarding my flight home, when I turned the corner and saw

Ever since Diane mentioned the donuts she got at home, my normally suppressed longing for glazed donuts flared up. So of course, I made a bee-line for the Krispy Kreme stand. When I got there, a guy was standing beside the counter, giving away free samples. I said hi. He asked if I was Japanese. Er, no. Chinese? Actually I'm American.* Then he said, Oh, have you had these before? Would you like to try some? His colleague behind the counter said, Did you even listen to her? She's American! Asking her if she's had these is like asking the pope if he's ever had the body and blood of Christ!

Anyway, it was hilarious, and the guys were really nice and chatty while I bought my half dozen little glazed toroids of happiness.

*This happens to me an average of 500 times an hour if I'm anywhere even remotely touristy. In Marrakesh, The Limey and I had a contest to see whether I would get greeted by "konichiwa" more than he would get offers to buy drugs.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Cably goodness

The Dingle yarn (which is almost definitely Kilcarra) has finally decided to be a Central Park Hoodie, from Knitscene's Fall 2006 issue. Great, awesome. It's been autumn here since, oh, April, but recently, I've really been noticing it getting darker earlier and it's becoming proper weather for snuggling up in tweedy cabled knits.

My plans to knit this were foiled by the fact that I can't get my grubby little hands on a copy of the magazine here. I could order it off the Interweave website, but the gods only know how much it would cost to ship here. Various people offered to pick one up for me while they were on their foreign summer travels (thanks, guys!) but since the CPH is such a popular knit, I think most places were probably sold out of it.

At any rate, I couldn't wait, and so, after looking at a bunch of pictures of the CPH, started the process of reverse engineering the thing. So far:

I've got the sleeves done, as well. It looks alright. There are definitely points where it's obvious that I was guessing at numbers and stitches and stuff, but on the whole it seems to be working out. I only hope the damned thing loosens up a bit after washing. It's going to be quite snug, otherwise.

Also (stop me if you've heard this before...) I probably don't have enough yarn. So I'm going to have to forgo the hood. It was either that or a sleeve. But that's alright; I mean, it's not like I don't have enough knit hats.

I'm quite liking the cables. I used to think they were a bit over the top and busy. But this has just enough cables to make it interesting. And cables show up so well in this yarn. Maybe there will be more cabled knits for me in the future.