Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

One sock down!

... and one to go. Fortunately, this second sock seems to be going a lot faster, which is good because the first one took me a month and a half! Also fortunately, it appears to fit the boyfriend perfectly! Hurrah! The heel turning and toe turning went really well, without any real hang-ups, and I was able to complete my first successful kitchener stitch seam. I guess this officially makes me a sock knitter!

By the way, sorry about the fuzziness of the picture. The boyfriend wanted me to hurry up and take it so that he could take the pictures of that Modest Mouse concert he went to off my camera.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gateway drug

They say that knitting is a gateway drug (or gateway craft, I guess, though that's much less dramatic-sounding) to other addictive yarn crafts. That is, you start knitting, then you start spinning so that you can make your own yarn, then you start dying your yarn, and then you start weaving... Before you know it, you have a six-foot tall loom in your living room and a dozen spinning wheels. In my case, I started crocheting, then taught myself to knit because there were a lot of nice patterns (and because it takes less yarn to make a garment), but I haven't really delved into anything else, so far.

I haven't been at it long enough to have been exposed to all those other yarn crafts, but I think I'm going down that path. I say this because I signed up for a drop-spindle spinning class at the Purple Purl. It's my first extra-curricular class in Toronto, which is something to be excited about in itself. It's even more exciting because I get to keep the drop-spindle, and I'll know the basics of how to make pretty pretty yarn... I hope to get good enough to make some gorgeous sock yarn... yum.

But I am NOT filling my living room with looms and spinning wheels!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Holy Crap! It's Strong Bad!

Strong Bad is the hero (or anti-hero) of the Strong Bad Emails created by the geniuses at His cartoon has been around since before I started university (in 2005), and I remember watching them in CEGEP (starting in 2003), so I'm not really sure when they started, but they're still being made, so that's awesome (times eleventy billion).

Anyway, I found a pattern for the masked mayhem maker (I just like alliterations) by Aleta Fera here, and just had to make it, since Strong Bad had such a strong influence on my formative early adulthood (especially the Trogdor episode).

So here's my version!


He tried answering my emails, but passed out because there are too many.

And then he was attacked by a squid... what a tragedy...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pretty unwound yarns

Looking back on the last post about swifts, I was reminded that I haven't shown off my latest yarn acquisitions! When my mother was visiting last weekend, I took her to the Purple Purl, which is a little out of my way, but definitely worth visiting again. There were so many fantastic yarns, and I just wanted to pick out the perfect one to make myself a little something special. I finally decided on a hank of Dye-Version Bamboo Sport in the Royal colourway. It's a beautiful blend of jewel-like blues, purples and greens. It's also beautifully soft and silky. The photos really don't do it justice.

I'm planning on making the Twin Leaf Beaded Scarf by Jeanne Giles with that yarn. I just have to pick out the perfect beads.

The other yarn I recently acquired is some more Araucania (just like for my boyfriend socks, see yarn here), this time, the Nature Wool Solids in the Smokey Purple colourway. I got it online from Webs Yarn. It's absolutely gorgeous as well. I just love the subtle colour changes.

With this, I'll be making the Cables Luxe Tunic by Lion Brand Yarn. By the way, they recently made all their patterns free! Anyway, it's a surprisingly elegant pattern for Lion Brand, and I'm looking forward to honing my cable skills. Hmm... it seems my two projects with Araucania yarns have both been cabled projects!

Speaking of online purchases, I recently bought some sock knitting needle holders from KnitPicks. I'm really looking forward to getting them so that I won't stab myself every time I reach into my purse!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm a superstar!

It looks like my new Star Trek pot holders are a success! In less than 24 hours since I posted the pattern on Ravelry, it's already been favourited 99 times, is in 48 queues and has 5 comments. That's more than my previous two patterns, the ostie de cozy and the rose choker ever got combined since April and January respectively. I guess this is my five minutes (or few hours) of internet fame... Anyway, I guess there are a whole lot of Trekkie knitters out there!

In other news, I want a swift. This is a tool used to wind hanks of yarn into balls of yarn by stretching it out over a rotating frame, that moves around as the ball is wound. It's usually adjustable in size, which allows it to accommodate many different sizes of yarn. I just spent a couple of hours winding 100g a hank of sock yarn into a ball by hand, a process slowed down by the fact that I had to rotate by hand the yarn which was wrapped around the back of a chair and my left foot. Anyway, it looks something like this:

Unfortunately, most are around $65 in price, which is a little much, especially when I use hanks so rarely (though I just got a shipment of sweater yarn from Webs, and they're all in hanks). I found an Instructables tutorial on how to make one, but given the fact that I live in a small apartment and don't have a garage filled with random pieces of lumber or the proper tools for woodworking, I have a feeling that that's not a viable option. I suppose I can always just go down to the Purple Purl and see if they'd let me use theirs... or maybe there's a yarn shop closer that would let me use theirs if they have one. I don't care too much about a ball winder (though they're much cheaper) since I've gotten pretty fast at winding balls by hand, and I don't mind if my balls don't look like those neat little cakes that ball winders make, but a swift sure would be handy.

Update: I've found this on ebay, and I still have 29 days to decide, so maybe I'll go for it. It seems like an entirely decent price, compared to some of the other ones.

Update #2: My friend Stevie has agreed to make me a swift using that tutorial! Hurray! Also, I found a recipe for Pie Pops! How could this day get any better?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Star Trek Pot Holders Free Pattern

I created these for my friends who were getting married. I knew they were Star Trek fans, and pot holders are a useful kind of thing for a newly wed couple, so this seemed perfect. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an appropriate chart, so I made my own! I believe this is the Next Generation logo, but I could be wrong, since I'm not much of a Trekkie myself.

This is my first experiment with double-knitting, so if my instructions seem unclear, this is a pretty decent tutorial, and I'm sure you could find all sorts of instructional videos on YouTube. Basically, double-knitting creates two pieces of fabric at a time with their wrong sides together. If there were no colour work in this pattern, you'd be able to separate the two pieces of fabric to make a bag. In fact, Kory Stamper, in this article for Knitty's Fall 2006 issue, suggests using the double knitting technique to knit two socks at the same time inside each other (that just sounds dirty). It's an amazing technique that you should probably check out (I know it's on my to-try list).

Anyway, without further ado, here's the pattern!

- 2 balls of worsted weight cotton yarn in contrasting colours. I used 1 ball of Lily's Sugar 'n Cream (109m/71g) in Ecru and 1 ball in Bright Navy.
- 4.0mm (US 6) straight needles
- 5.0mm (H) crochet hook
- tapestry needle

15 st and 22 rows per 4"
Gauge is not very important for this pattern, but with my gauge, I ended up with approximately 8" square pot holders. Note also that your gauge will tend to be looser when double knitting than indicated on the ball band with the recommended needle size.

k - knit
p - purl
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
sl st - slip stitch
st - stitch


1. Cast on 30 sts using both colours of yarn held together. This will give you 60 sts in total. Make sure that the colours stay in the same order as you're casting on (in my case, it looked like one ecru stitch follow by one navy stitch, one ecru, one navy, and so on).

2. Follow the chart, working right to left on the odd rows and left to right on the even rows. To double-knit, you k one colour (this will be the colour that shows on that side) and then p the next (it will show up on the other side as a k st), each time bringing both strands of yarn between the needles. When changing colour, simply k the contrasting coloured yarn on the front side and p the other colour of yarn, being careful not to twist the strands together.

3. After you've finished knitting up the whole chart (46 rows), you should have the image on one side and an inverse-colour mirror image on the other side. Bind off loosely in pattern by passing two strands of contrasting colour over the next two strands of contrasting colour. That is, you'll k one colour and p the next, and then pass the previous two k and p sts over the ones you just knit.

4. Weave in the ends.

5. With crochet hook and one of the yarn colours, make a sc border around the pot holder, making one st every two rows for the sides, one st for every st on the top and bottom, and increasing by one at the corners. Alternately, you can crochet a patterned border like those found here. I didn't try it myself, but I think it might be kind of funny to have extra-frilly Star Trek pot holders.

6. Ch 10 and turn, sl st in 1st sc. This will create the loop for hanging up the pot holders. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

Repeat for the second pot holder, only use the other colour of yarn for the sc border.

And voila! Pot holders for the extra-nerdy Suzy Home-maker in your life!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


One of the many blogs I read, Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins, was recently updated after a long hiatus, and it made me realize that I'd never posted the pictures of the Cthulhus I made on that trip to QC I made way back in June. So, without further ado, here's Cthulhu!

The first one I made in the car between Toronto and Montreal (and thus it took me less than 5 hours to make). I was going to give it to my friend Stevie, but the girl we were staying with liked it so much that I gave it to her instead. Here it is sucking her cat's brains out:

And a close-up or two or three:

The second, I made in L-ville while visiting my parents, and this one actually did make it to Stevie. It tried to eat him too:

The extra long tentacles on that one are kind of funky, but I think I like it. Anyway, sorry about the oversight. I'd say it'll never happen again, but it probably will!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finished projects update

Project monogamy? No thanks! I'm still working on the boyfriend's first sock, but of course, I can't just work on that, I have to start a million other things. Fortunately, I was able to finish both the laptop case and the wedding present pot holders on time, and when I got back from my trip, I started a few million other things, since those socks were all I was working on at that point. At any rate, it keeps me interested.

The laptop case turned out quite nicely. It's fully lined with velcro fasteners, and fits my dad's brand new 17" MacBook Pro perfectly. Dad was pretty happy with it.

The pot holders turned out pretty well too. I ended up just doing a simple single crochet border, and that looked pretty good. I thought it might be hilarious to make a frilly edging, but I got lazy (and I wasn't sure if I had enough yarn left). I'll post a pattern soon, hopefully. Take a look at the nerdy goodness!

I'm not sure yet how much the bride and groom liked them, since they're honeymooning in Italy right now. *Sigh* I want to go to Italy... Anyway, with the leftover yarn, I was able to make a dishcloth. I used a chart for an illusion dragonfly design, and it turned out pretty good.

Anyway, when I got back, I almost immediately started an amigurumi Strong Bad (of Homestar Runner fame), which is totally awesome, and I only have to sew on the face at this point. I also started a pink and black striped scarf in a simple 1x1 ribbing pattern. It's simple and mindless, but that's good sometimes too. I wanted to use up the yarn that I had given Savta, but which she afterwards gave back to me because she was finding it too hard to knit with her vision problems. Sigh! Anyway, it'll be one of those in-front-of-the-TV projects for when I need to unwind and de-stress. I've also almost finished my Skylla; I just need to make the lining. It's pretty awesome too.

So that's about it... four projects at once! I need to start thinking about my Christmas crafting as well...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fruit fly: Public Enemy

I'm currently at my parents' house, enjoying all the beautiful countryside has to offer. The smell of nature is wonderful, at least compared to the city stink of Toronto. It was much worse in T-dot when we were having that garbage strike, something you may or may not have heard about (or experienced). For a change of pace, I thought I'd show a few pictures, not of the piles and piles of garbage around town, but of the crazy infestation we had... fruit-flies! We were told to leave as much garbage in our apartment as possible, taking only the wet perishable stuff down to the dumpster, but we still kept some pizza boxes and other stuff that had traces of food on it. Two weeks into the strike they were everywhere. Before attacking them with our vacuum cleaner, I took a few pics:

They were everywhere! It wasn't just in our apartment either. Pretty much anywhere we went, there were a few of the little buggers flying around.

Thank goodness that strike is over.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"It Itches"

As I mentioned previously, I obtained a couple of books from the Interweave hurt book sale, one of which was "It Itches" by Franklin Habit. It's a very charming little book, with lots of cartoons and a few essays, all about yarn-crafting. I think the essays are really the best part of this book, and I could definitely relate to a couple of them, especially the one entitled "Knittin' with a Whip", which is all about trying to knit harder pieces because the author enjoys the challenge... sort of a counter-argument to knitting as the "new yoga". The cartoons are mostly cute, and will give you a little chuckle if you're in the yarn-crafting know, though some are funnier than others. I mean, it's all about stashing yarn and having a problem with knitting cozies for everything, which I can definitely relate to. Anyway, my favourite cartoon is the following, which actually made me laugh out loud (and the boyfriend too), so I thought I'd share it with you:

I think that anyone obsessed with yarn and knitting and/or crocheting will enjoy this book at least a little, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't.

In other news, I finished my dad's laptop case. It's all sewn up, blocked and lined, and my index finger on my right hand is suffering for it. I'm leaving for the family home tomorrow, so I'm glad I was able to meet my deadline. I'm not finished the potholders yet, but I think I'll be able to finish them on the bus down. More about these when I get back!