Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Holy shit. I finally got my Ravelry invite last night. After signing up like, three months ago. I had almost forgotten I signed up.

It is not often that I find myself aligning with much of the knitting zeitgeist. I was getting bored with socks when people started being enchanted with them, and my interests have waned (I like to think of it as "specified") to lace (good lace, here, fine lace, not stupid boring lace that is barely lace at all, even though I totally have Icarus wadded up in a ball in my closet needing a wash and a reblocking as I type this) and anything else that is either stranded color work and/or items that are knitted with nothing larger than a size 5 needle (although frankly, I think 5s are pushing it).

But ravelry? That shit is cool. I am finally (finally, god I am so cheap) buying a digital camera with a macro function this weekend - nothing special, but enough, I think, to actually be able to take decent pictures of my stash/projects. With my new Macro Awesomeness almost at my fingertips, and this awesome tutorial on how to light it, I figure I should be up and running pretty quickly.

This site focuses exactly on why the internet is awesome for the knitting, and lets me ignore a lot of the other crap. Love it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Variegated Yarn Is The New Fun Fur

So I was checking out the new Fall Knitty, and while I don't feel like there is a huge number of catastrophic failures out there (although, I'm sorry, but you are never going to convince me that the beret is coming back, and I say this as someone who bought Anna Zilboorg's hat book, which like, why did I buy that?! I am never going to make something out of that book. It is like, too lame for RenFest people. I don't think homeless people would ever wear any of those hads), I am a little bugged by the whole "I wear clothes made out of variegated yarn" thing.

Por ejemplo:

Cherie Amour - although the gauge is too thick for me, the pattern's cute, I assume, but it's so difficult to tell because of the color vomitousness. Same with Mr. Greenjeans and Roam.

Sure, I know, not difficult to replace with a solid color - it just seems to me that variegated yarn use is the first sign of someone who has lost the perspective when it comes to knitting. We all go through it to a certain degree - I get the wicked hard jones to start doing really intricate Norwegian colorwork because I know that it is inordinately difficult, and proof of skill, but then I check myself and think "sure, it's beautiful, to a knitter, because we inherently see the skill or value therein, but to everyone else, it looks like a grandma sweater." And then I move it off my list again, having to content myself with perhaps selecting a cute ski sweater (I guess I'm going to have to come up with my own reindeer-patterned yoke style) or something else to lust after.

I think this is also a problem with my peeps, the spinners. I am warning you, variegated yarn is a gateway drug. Because you think "wow, look at these color combinations, and all in one yarn, color color color" and then you get tunnel vision about how perhaps that thing that reminds you of wildflowers in the spring in the skein will look when you, yourself are covered in odd little blotches of red, yellow, green, blue and brown. Answer: like your Koigu vomited on you.

And I love Koigu. I think Variegated yarn has its place. And that place is called "Accessoryland". Socks, gloves, fuck, ladies, I'll even give you a scarf, perchance even a hat, if you can stop rolling into the yarn store proudly wearing the cardigans you made out of hundreds of dollars' worth of ugly, ugly yarn. If you want interesting color combinations, think stripes. Think Fair Isle. Fuck (I can't believe I'm even saying this), think intarsia before you think "well, I'm just going to make this out of variegated yarn because it's like, every pretty color in one!"

Don't even get me started on variegated lace shawls. I'll just leave it at the point that here you are, spending all this time making this beautiful lace piece, and you decide to fucking ruin it by making it in a variegated colorway, removing any ability for people to actually see the details in the lace? Stop. Please, please, just stop. I know, colors are pretty, but just walk away.

This also goes for you self-stripers out there. Enough.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Scouring a fleece

I am currently in the process of scouring an Icelandic raw fleece.

I tried to skirt it as best I can - I just ripped off the stuff that had like, black gluey buildup and turds.

There is a lot of grass and crap on it, but I am hoping I will wash most of that out.

It is hard work, and one thing that I don't think has been mentioned quite enough in all the instructions about scouring fleeces and washing fleeces and blah blah blah, is the smell.

Good lord. Barnyard+animal turd+wet wool is a really unholy combination. Sure, my hands are going to be soft, but at the expense of my olfactory sensibilities. I am not kidding, it stinks. Bad.

But I didn't realize until today that it was a white fleece (long story), which makes me excited. For the dyeing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Spinning with a wheel

First wheelspun singles, originally uploaded by siobhanmc.

So I finally got a spinning wheel, after what seems like years of pining after one.

It's a Kromski Symphony (and I bought it from the woolery, and was really pleased with the service and speed).

I put it together Wednesday night, but because of social commitments, I didn't have a chance to play around with it until last night. Which is the only thing I did.

I was a little concerned that the wheel wasn't going to suit me, since I didn't have a chance to try out different wheels (well, okay, let's be honest, I did have a chance, but I am not the kind of person who looks at my knitting/spinning hobbies as the kind of thing I really want a physical commitment to - I mean, I very rarely buy from my LYS, I don't attend knitting groups, it's just not my bag. Everything that I've done with knitting has been on my own and with help from the great internet, and I figured that I would just adjust to whatever the foibles of my particular wheel).

Which I did. The Kromski has a dead spot at the top of the wheel, when both footmen are in line at the top of a treadle, and I don't know (since this is the first time ever I have ever even touched a real working spinning wheel) if this is typical, but it can get a wee bit annoying. Nothing too bad, but just a little vexing.

I was also concerned about some comments regarding the Symphony being a right-handed wheel only. Since I began with spindle spinning, I feel more comfortable drafting with my right hand (right? That's the one that pulls the fiber out of the wad from my left hand that is holding it) - I don't find it difficult - I just have to remember not to crank my fiber all the way over to the left, and hold it more comfortably in front of me.

I am very proud of my singles - they're thin and lovely and I think they totally don't look like they are beginner singles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fall Knitty Review

Okay, so first of all. This is my first review of a knitting magazine, but I'm thinking of doing them more often, because often when I google a pattern, I find that other people's opinions of the patterns are usually pretty helpful or at least help me see it in a different light (when I am blinded by the skinny model and may not realize that those nipple bobbles will be highly unfortunate in the bright, critical fluorescents of my office).

Starting off with the articles, most of the stuff is super-boring. I mean, it's handing to know how to do a double crochet bind off, but it's not crucial, and not something I am like, dying to know. And let me add at this juncture that if you are having a really hard time figuring out a 3-needle bind off, there are some issues that you seriously need to address with your skill level. I mean, how fucking intuitive could something be?

Jenna's column is too smart for me. I think it's outstanding that knitty features it because I know one day I am going to totally need that stuff when I have sacked up enough to design my own sweater, and the length thing is perfect for one of the designs in this issue, actually, but it's all mathy and hard and I'm like "pop".

The real good article in this is the one about the double-knitting of socks. It's genius, usable, and just really, really, really cool. That shit is what really revs my motor. So crafty and ingenious!

Okay, so on to the patterns.

Viveka - red, bell-sleeved sweater.
Well, first of all, it's made of Tactel, which is polywhatsit and nylon. I have this thing where I hate the drape of non-natural fibers. I mean, sometimes it can be used to its advantage, and you get weird, cool, shapeless stuff that looks kind of good in a deconstructed way, but man, this so does not. If it was in a wool or alpaca or silk blend or something, I think it would look way better. Also, the neckline? Is shitty. It's too low, and you have to wear a shirt or camisole underneath it, which then lends itself to that super layer pudge (have any of you larger girls actually tried layering a deep V over a t-shirt or tank? It looks like shit because it makes your tits look like giant escaping beach balls. I don't like it. The sleeves are alright, though.

Lucie - collared variegated purple pullover
God, save us from variegated yarns. I mean, look. There is a time and a place, and neither of those is "now" and "all over your torso." The silhouette is totally cute, and this is the one I would consider making (but it would have to be lengthened because that sucker would totally show off ass crack), but never, never, never in a variegated yarn. Just because it looks pretty in the skein does not mean it will look pretty as a top. I see people wearing variegated yarn clothing items and they look like sad knitting myopia victims. Do it in a solid, maybe with some stripes or even, ooh, accent seaming and it would be adorable.

Cactus Flower - Mohair and something else pullover with mohair cowl neck
What kind of robots are you people who can stand to have mohair lounging around your sensitive, tender little necks? It feels soft to the hand, sure, but when you put it against soft sensitive skin, you know what it feels like? Satan.

Ivy - wrap cardigan.
...oh, wait, sorry? What did you say? I was asleep from boredom as I have seen this pattern 900,000,000 times already.

Serrano - red lace cardigan
This is cute. I don't like the hook/eye combo because it has a tendency to make those of us who are more bustular look like "HULK SMASH" but that's not to difficult to insert a decent button band or something. It's pretty, light, and would be perfect office cardigan material.

Avast - Men's grey zip-up cardigan.
This is fucking cool. I dig the raglan sleeves, the collar, the tiny little detail at the bottom. It's hip and not grandpa-ish. More of this sort of stuff, please. Well, that is what I would say if I ever would consider knitting for my husband.

Sherwood - green kid's pullover.
Kid's clothes are invisible to me. I am not going to review any of them.

Intolerable Cruelty - mauve skirt
What made me decide to review this Knitty. "Hey guys, are you busy knitting stuff and haven't found enough things that make you look like a total whore? Fret no longer, streetwalkers and skanks! Here is a skirt just for you!" And here's something else.

I think that this skirt would enhance a slim figure, and look absolutely fabulous on a voluptuous one. Wear it anywhere that you want to draw attention to yourself. It will turn heads.

Yeah, of johns. And fat chicks, do not believe her. It will make you look like a fucking purple ribbony bratwurst.

Little Slip of a Thing - purple and green slip stitch felted bag.
Oh my god, did you say a felted bag? With slip stitches?! HOLY CRAP, I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE OF THESE BEFORE!!!! Oh wait, yes I have. Also, that color combination is horrible. Now if it were pink and that green, I would say "cute but still boring".

Lizard Ridge - Noro patchwork afghan
This is breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful.

Red Herring - red and brown herringbone socks
I love these. The colors are cute, the pattern is adorable, and I could totally see these as knee socks with a tweedy skirt.

Cable Net - blue intricately cabled socks
You better like cables just for the sake of doing them, because nobody will ever compliment you on these unless you beg for it, which is a shame, because they're beautiful and cranking out a pair of these would be quite the accomplishment.

Sox on 2 Stix - see title
Besides the inordinately annoying pluralizing with "x", making socks on two knitting needles is letting the terrorists win. This should be illegal.

Diamante - purple socks
Good for those of you who are making a giant wardrobe of handknit socks to wear every day. I have a thing against purple.

Sugar on Snow - neckwarmer hat thingy
Neckwarmers need to die. That hat is ugly.

Tamarah - weirdo lace shawl
HOLD THE FUCKING SHAWL OUT SO I CAN SEE WHAT SHAPE IT IS! It is also too small, but that can be fixed.

Twiggy Tweed - orange and pink bag
It will be a cold day in hell before I actually use a knitted bag as a purse (I do have a knitted bag that I hold my spinning junk in), but if I was forced at gunpoint to pick a bag, it would be this one. It is not horrible.

Back To School - washcloths with words on them.
I'm not gonna lie to you. Washcloths can be really handy. I have a couple of them lying around that I use for cleaning my toilet and other gross things. But I don't think I would, oh, spend time doing intarsia or Swiss Darning to put stupid words on them.

All in all, I found it to be a very disappointing knitty. Hopefully winter will be better.

Embossed Leaves Socks

From the Interweave Winter '05.

Normally I don't do socks because I get bored. There's a great article in the most recent knitty about how to double knit (without crossing so you're sort of knitting two things at the same time) socks, which is like the only actual good thing about knitty this season (we'll get to that later), but mostly I get bored.

I really liked the star-shaped decrease pattern, and it was my first time doing a pattern with a lace bit all the way down the foot while simultaneously working the gusset. It's alright. I think I am going to use nicer yarn next time.

I'm wearing these today because I'm out of white athletic socks. They're nice, but my feet are kind of hot.


Icarus blocked
Originally uploaded by invinciblegirl.
This is what I did this summer. Well, this and not brushing my hair.

(what do you want from me? I took a month off! I am allowed to be slobby!)

Anyway, I bought this yarn while the parents were in town (Alpaca with a Twist Fino in whatever color this is...oh yeah, black) so that my mom and I could start projects together. Her mission: to knit socks. My mission, to finish this shawl in a month.

Which I did. It was way low on the difficulty scale, mainly because the lace was all at the end, and the body of the shawl was just some dumb yarnovers. Like every increasing shawl, this took forever towards the end. I added a repeat, wanting the shawl to be longer than it was originally (since most shawls are too short and my gauge is tight), and then was like "hey, stupid, you're going to run out of yarn."

Fortunately, I had two balls of Kidsilk Haze in Wicked that I had gotten as my "free" gift when signed up with Rowan last year, so I figured I would just use those for the lace pattern. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by it. The lace popped because of the mohair, and the body of the shawl looks all floaty and ethereal and the drape is nicer because the mohair is a little weightier.

It is not nearly cool enough to wear this anywhere, and it being black makes for some difficult wardrobe choices, as it is not particularly casual unless I am going to a potluck as Elsinore, Vampire Of The Li'l Smokies.

I do plan on wearing it to the opera in November, for Madame Butterfly. And yes, my hair will look different.

Lily of the Valley Stole

Stole on Mom
Originally uploaded by invinciblegirl.
So here is a better picture of the stole with my mom modeling it.

Can you tell during the summer my interest in knitting wanes significantly? I have barely done anything lately, and not just because the A.C. upstairs is broken so my knitting room is hotter than hades. I also blame Puzzle Pirates for sucking away all my free time.

Anyway, this is a better picture of the stole - I really like it because of the shininess that you can see on it brought out by the silk.

This was taken while at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos, hanging with the parents. My mom was nice enough to bring the shawl with her so I could take some decent pictures since I don't actually have a digital camera myself.

Here's another picture of it, artfully arranged on the clothesline. By the way, the Poconos are beautiful.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wrist Distaff

wrist distaff
Originally uploaded by invinciblegirl.
I've made a note on the photo of how to create this, but this is how I did it, just so in case someone else is looking. I have no idea of the practicality or lack there of of my particular interpretation from other people's pictures, but this is what I did.

I had some Paton's Merino lying around from ages ago, and figured that I would use that (I am not particularly obsessed with the loveliness of my tools, just in case you were wondering why I used an orange in the babyshit hue family). So I cut 5 equidistant lengths (longer than you would think, because they need to be long enough to single crochet (in my case with my fingers) into a length long enough to fit around your wrist and have 4-5 inches of droop down on the bottom. After you're done, tie a knot in the bottom.

I attached beads to the bottom stringies, which I guess helps with weighing it down and keeping your fiber from crawling all over your arm.

Really, so worth it to make one. So, SO worth it. It just goes to show that 99% of the difficulty of doing something when it comes to knitting/fiber/spinning, blah is working up the confidence to figure "what's the worst that can happen"?

Spun Single
Originally uploaded by invinciblegirl.

This is what that looks like when it is spun and set. I have been using part of a disassembled sconce setup that we got from Bed, Bath, and Beyond a long time ago. The architecture was basically a metal rail that you screwed into the wall, and then you hooked these three things with candleholder bases at the bottom of varying lengths onto it. We lost the rail, but still have the hangy parts, which works perfectly to weigh down the yarn while drying.

Originally uploaded by invinciblegirl.

And this is what I am currently actually doing on the spindle. I am basically standing in my theater room, watching a rerun of Footballer's Wives (god, that show, she is the crack rock) and letting balls of singles roll around the floor while I try my damnedest to make sure that one isn't wrapping around the other, but that they wrap around EACH other. Plying is a fucking pain in the ass.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I have been having a middling time spinning on the drop spindle. I think that my problem is that I was working really hard on getting thin singles so I could ply them into thin yarn because I am not a fan of bulky yarn and I wanted something delicate and hand spun, like a scarf or a shawl or something.

Well, I don't think my drop spindling skillz are really going to cut it.

I have a bunch of unplied singles that are lying around - they're some kind of wool, kind of soft (I wish I could remember what it was) in a heathered green color. I tried plying it and almost killed myself, my cats, my yarn, and the television in my fits of complete rage.

Boy, I like the drafting/spinning part, but plying just pisses me off.

So I broke up with that fiber for a while, and decided after a long hiatus from spinning that I would try the other fiber I got - this Interlacements color way. The dying is gorgeous, and I'm finding it a little nicer to spin - I think the staple length is longer than the other stuff. But I know that the plying is going to kill me again, and I am trying not to think about it.

I did improve my spinning experience by about 150% last night, after I decided to make a wrist distaff because draping fiber over my shoulder and then dropping it and getting it all caught on my spinning was infuriating me and making for some very odd furry yarn blobs.

Makes a huge difference. HUGE. Now I can contain my fiber and use my left hand just for drafting. I had no idea.

Chip is still making fun of me for wanting a wheel, even though I am bugging him nonstop about it every time the discussion of my birthday or Christmas comes up because seriously, it is all I want and I wish he would just get it for me.

I made the mistake of mentioning that as a long-term goal, after I became a proficient enough spinner on the wheel (which yes, I realize, will take years), I wouldn't mind learning how to weave, and maybe getting a loom.

Oh, the Amish jokes. They never stop being funny. "Ha ha, we should get you a butter churn after that."