Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter, how I hate thee!

I've been living in Canada all my life, so you'd think I'd be used to the terrible winters by now. However, even after 23 years, I can truthfully say that they still suck. This winter has been particularly strange. It seemed to take forever to get here... the first week or so of December was still in the balmy 10-degree range (that's Celsius, in case there are any american readers out there), but when the first real snow arrived, the temperature dropped 20 degrees overnight. It literally went from fall to winter in one day. No gentle, gradual slope for us!

We're currently going through a deep freeze here in Toronto, which is strange since we had a small thaw at the beginning of the week, with temperatures going up above zero (and environmentalists running around saying "look look! proof of global warming!"). The high today is -15 or something ridiculous like that.

At least Toronto is warmer than Quebec, where I spent the first 22 years of my life. Torontonians call a foot of snow a lot, while in my hometown, if there were that much snow, we'd wonder when winter was actually starting. When I was home for the holidays, I took a few pictures of the winter "wonderland". It's quite lovely to look at... just not to live in.

Seriously... would you be able to tell the difference if these were shot in black and white? I'm seriously considering moving to southern California... or Barbados.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Christmas presents, part 3

And now for the final installment of the Christmas knitting! (Well, I still have the boyfriend's present to show, but I haven't given that to him yet.) Also, this is my hundredth post! Woo! These two gifts were for my friend Em and Stevie's baby niece.

First, Em's present: a cake! I used Hannah Kaminsky's pattern Let Them Knit Cake. However, instead of a birthday candle, I decided to make a black forest cake with a ginormous cherry. For the cherry, I used the Cherries are da Bomb pattern by Marcie Nishioka.

I really like how it turned out. The icing looks almost good enough to eat, and the jam filling looks like its ready to squirt out from between the pieces of cake. I mean, it's obviously made of yarn, but if you squint, you might just think it's real!

Second, the baby's present: little booties! I used the One-Hour Baby Booties from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. True to the title, they took me very little time. I'm not sure if it was an hour, but it certainly was less than an evening.

I used what I thought would be the tail-end of the James C. Brett Marble Chunky that I used to make my Cloud Bolero and slouchy hat, but it turns out I still have enough left over to make another pair! This pattern really takes barely any yarn!

Unfortunately, I probably made them a little too small for the baby. She's about 5 months old now, and her feet were just about popping out of the little slippers when she tried them on a month ago. Oh well... it was a fast pattern, and they're still super cute!

Next time, I think I'll talk about some retro crochet books I got over the holidays!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Christmas presents, part 2

And now the second installment of the christmas knitting! Yay!

For my widdle brother, I made mittens. But not just any kind of mittens! Fancy convertible flip-top mittens! I knit the Lola Flip-Top mittens from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders.

Of course, I made a couple of changes. Though the pattern called for a fingering-weight yarn, I used a DK weight yarn instead and I got gauge on the recommended needle size. Actually, I used Patons Astra, which was kind of squeaky, but otherwise a very nice yarn. I also fooled around with the sizing a bit, so it's somewhere between the largest size and the next down, so they fit my bro pretty perfectly. Finally, I used velcro patches instead of buttons to fasten the flaps because I figured my bro wouldn't think buttons were manly enough.

For my buddy Stevie, I made the Bokaclava by Anne-Marie Dunbar (blog here). I used some Cascade 220 Superwash and a little bit of leftover Red Heart Soft, which is probably one of the nicest acrylics I've ever used. Here, my brother kindly models it:

Dad had a pretty good time trying it on as well:

This was a really interesting pattern, but I wasn't thrilled about all the seaming. The ears were knit separately and then sewn on afterwards, and I would have preferred if the thing was knit in one piece. I do have to say that it was totally worth it for the final result though, which turned out really well. Here, Henry graciously offered to model it from many angles:

And now, since I'm falling asleep, I will bid you all a good night!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas presents, part 1

So, my exam is finished, and the only looming deadline is this paper that my supervisor wants to get out within the next month or so. That means that I really don't have any excuse not to post the pictures of my Christmas crafting. I think I'll do it in two parts, mostly because I have a lot of pictures, and I'll start with my parents' gifts.

For my mommy, I crocheted the Comfi Cardi (Ravelry link) from Crochet Me by Kim Werker, which, by the way, is a gorgeous book. It's a fun pattern, with a minimum amount of seaming, something I always appreciate, and all crocheted in one piece. The ribbing really brings the whole thing together. I wasn't overly pleased that it involved weaving in 64 ends, a result of the arm shaping, which had a lot of cutting the yarn and rejoining. I can't help wondering if there would be a better way to do it that wouldn't involve as much rejoining, but I couldn't think of one at the time. Here's the cardi, pre-seaming.

I had some trouble getting gauge as well. It's really strange, actually. Usually I have super tight gauge when I crochet, and I often have to go up a hook size or two. This time, I actually had to go down from a 4mm to a 3.5mm hook to get something close to gauge. It must be something about the stitch pattern (which is lovely) that makes me crochet super loose... that or Robyn Chachula is an even tighter crocheter than I am. At any rate, my final swatch was just about the right size, maybe a little big, but I made the extra-small size to compensate (I would have made the small size otherwise).

The yarn I used was Telemark from KnitPicks, a sport-weight yarn made of 100% peruvian wool, in the gorgeous colorway "Mineral Heather". I thought at first it would be too scratchy, but after soaking the sweater in a bit of Eucalan, it softened up a lot. Oh, and another thing I liked about this pattern was that I used almost exactly the amount of yarn it called for. I only have half a ball left. However, when I crocheted that Icelandic turtleneck, I had two and a half balls left, which was a little annoying since I bought it online. Anyway, enough about the pattern, here are some pictures of mommy being all pretty in her new sweater!

For my daddy, I knit socks! And not just any socks... I started with the Lucky Socks pattern from Son of Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller, and then added this guitar chart instead of the lucky dice. Yay! Guitar socks! My dad is a professional guitarist, so I thought they were appropriate.

The construction of these socks seemed to me far from traditional. They start off on straight needles to make the intarsia easier, and then the two sides are joined together and knitting continues in the round. Then, instead of making the heel as you go, it's added in afterwards. It's actually much easier to construct a sock this way (well, the afterthought heel, at any rate), which was surprising. The only regret I have is that the intarsia guitar didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. I was pulling the yarn too tight, and the design puckers a bit. If I ever do anything like this again, I'll have to make sure that the back strands are super loose.

I was worried that the leg would be too tight and that the foot would be too long. The puckered guitar didn't give the upper part of the sock any stretch, and the fact that I purl tighter than I knit made the knitting in that part slight smaller gauge than the part where I was knitting in the round. Also, I though I had miscalculated the length of foot for my dad's shoe size, so I was expecting the socks to be hanging over his toes. Fortunately, I hadn't miscalculated too much and my dad has very slender ankles, so they fit just right!

I used the KnitPicks Palette yarn, which is very nice to use, if not a little sticky. It's also 100% peruvian wool, but not itchy at all. I love the range of colours this yarn comes in, though I suppose the ones I used for my dad's socks, cream, ash and black, were a little subdued.

Anyway, that's all for now. Next up, my little brother's present and Stevie's present!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Treasure Cakes

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm back in Toronto and feeling guilty about not having done any school work over the holidays, so you probably won't hear from me again until next week. I mean, unless I'm procrastinating instead of studying for that final exam I have on Friday. At any rate, I'll post all sorts of pictures from Christmas and whatnot soon enough.

However, I had to take a break from studying to show you this:

Ok, it seems like a stupid idea, I guess, to crochet a fake cake. I mean, What Not to Crochet has dissed crocheted cakes again and again and again. I would say that excessive doesn't even begin to describe these. But... but... you can hide things in them! And the designs are so precious! They look good enough to eat!

The book is not yet available, and I'm seriously debating whether or not to pre-order it, but then again it won't be released until April, and I have a short attention span.

Ok... back to the studying...

Edit: Ok, so I was wrong. It'll be released on Jan. 29th, so that's not quite as long to wait. Also, Deborah Ross's site is called Four Bees Design, and you can read all about her and her designs there.