Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A bit of colour to cheer up the winter greys

As I mentioned before, we've been having an extremely mild winter in Toronto. I believe we've had more rain than snow, and I've only had to wear my winter jacket 2 or 3 days. Despite this, the grass is brown, the sky is grey, the leaves are missing from the trees, and everything is this a depressing mishmash of neutral tones. This might explain why lately I've been knitting a ton of really colourful projects for myself.

The most recent of these is my Lazy Katy Shawl , designed by Birgit Freyer, and knit in Knit Picks Chroma sock yarn in the Mix Tape colourway (unfortunately discontinued). Above you can see it blocking, and also what attracted me to the pattern. That asymmetrical swirl is just so cool and intriguing. It was actually a fairly simple pattern and went by surprisingly quickly. Even the lace edging wasn't too difficult. And just to show the magic of blocking here are some before and after pictures:

Next up is what I've been calling my ridiculously striped hat. I used some Bernat Roving that I got at the Stitch 'n Pitch this summer, and the leftover Bernat Softee Chunky that I had used for Slurpee the Brain Slug. The colour combination was inspired by my friend Lynn's Sweet Pullover. I didn't really follow a pattern, just cast on an even number of stitches (I can't even remember how many), worked in brioche stitch for a while (see my tutorial on the Happy Seamstress) and sort of made up the decreases. It's a little too big, but it's squishy and colourful, so it makes me happy.

I started this next project over the X-mas holidays with the intention of wearing it to Austin when I went down for the American Astronomical Society meeting. I only ended up finishing it when I was already there, but I was still able to wear it a couple of times. I'm speaking of the popular Lanesplitter by Tina Whitmore. It's a deceptively simple pattern, essentially just a big rectangle knit on the bias. I made mine in Knit Picks Shine Sport in Marmalade and Noro Silk Garden Sock, both received as gift yarns. The Shine might have been a bad decision, since it's a cotton yarn and has already stretched a bit, but I like it anyway. The boyfriend kindly took a picture of it for me while I was leaning over:

I wanted to knit the Snowball's Chance in Hell by Renée Rigdon and Zabet Stewart since before I knew how to knit. These armwarmers are really great to wear under a shorter sleeved sweater like my Buttony. I used Knit Picks Stroll Sport and a little bit of leftover Knit Picks Swish DK from Octie.

Last, but not least, I finally knit something out of Debbie Stoller's SuperStar Knitting, which I reviewed over a year ago. I made the Colourful Cable Hat by Sally Wilcox. I absolutely love this style of knitting, with the cables in a different colour than the background, but if I were to do it again, I'd knit my floats a LOT looser. This hat is fairly tight on me, even after some severe blocking. I might knit a bit of ribbing at the bottom just so it covers my ears properly. The yarn is Diamond Luxury Collection Mulberry & Silk in Olive and Royal Purple, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to use a super soft, squishy, shiny and beautifully coloured yarn.

That's all I have for now folks. Thanks for bearing with me during this unusually long post!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Einstein is still ok

Remember back in September when I wrote about faster-than-light neutrinos? Scientists at CERN running the OPERA experiment had claimed to record neutrinos arriving at a detector 60 nanoseconds faster than they would have if they had been travelling at the speed of light. There has been a ton of skepticism around this result, and now, it turns out, the discrepancy in the arrival time is probably due to a faulty connection between the GPS unit and the computer.

Anyway, the team will have to rerun the experiment to make sure that this is indeed the source of that error, but it looks like Einstein's Theory of Relativity is still valid. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. If you want to read more about this, check out this Wired article, this Science Insider article, or this Telegraph article.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pay-It-Forward Mario Mushroom Mitts (or 3 down, 1 to go)

My friend Ellie was one of the respondents for that Pay-It-Forward thing I was supposed to finish last year (ahem...), and because she's a nerdy grad student like me, I made her Mario Mushroom Mitts!

I use Vickie Howell's pattern as a guide, but I essentially made up most of it, making an actual thumb instead of the simple hole that's indicated in Vickie's instructions. This was done by increasing on each side of the middle stitches of the round every three rounds until it was large enough. I stuck to the duplicate stitch chart, however, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. The yarn, by the way, is Knit Picks Swish DK in Marine Heather, and it's very lovely.

Now I just have one more Pay-It-Forward gift to finish... Don't worry Tas! It's coming!

Speaking of knitting for others, I seem to be doing an awful lot of it lately. I know you're supposed to do only selfish knitting in the new year, but somehow I just keep finding things to knit for other people. First off is this laptop case for the boyfriend:

I used the Chuck Laptop Cover pattern by Luise Roberts, which is fairly clever in its construction. I used leftovers from my Dad's sweater, and a few other partial balls I had lying around. I let the boyfriend pick out a nice button from my collection, and he went with this really cool steampunk one:

Next up, I knit up a hat for a friend of mine from Ottawa. I had knit him a really nice toque several years ago, but he'd lost it (it has since been found), and so requested a new one. Here he is, looking rather pleased with the product, I think:

The pattern is the 2x2 Rib hat (with triangle on top) by Claire Nordlow. The yarn was Manos Del Uraguay Maxima (scroll to the bottom of the page), which is an absolutely lovely single-ply merino yarn. So squishy! It was a pretty simple and quick hat, and the triangle on top is quite neat.

I had a bit of leftover yarn, and so I also made him some little fingerless mitts. The pattern is 75 Yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts by Jeanne Stevenson. I ran out before I got to the ribbing at the finger opening, so I used a mystery yarn of a similar weight from my stash to finish them off. I'm quite happy with the result.

Still in the queue of knitting for others, besides the final Pay-It-Forward gift, is a wedding shrug for a friend and some awesome socks for the boyfriend... But stay tuned next time for a little bit of selfish knitting!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Knitting and Hockey...

Was a better combination ever thought of? Well, perhaps cookies and milk, or bacon and eggs, but knitting and hockey still go pretty well together. This weekend, I was able to combine them at the Pucks 'N Purls, which, like the Stitch 'N Pitch, allows knitters to do what they do best at a sports game. However, unlike the baseball variant of this event, it's not so hot that you have absolutely no desire to touch anything wooly. This time the Toronto Marlies were playing the Hamilton Bulldogs.

I went with my buddies from my knitting group, and you can see their pictures and descriptions as well: Alia's here, and Erin's here. I managed not to be a total noob this time, and actually took pictures of my own as well! So here goes...

My favourite part of any ice rink event is watching the zamboni do its thing:

And my favourite part of any sports event is getting giant pretzels:

But who can resist a little good-natured fist-fighting! (There were actually half a dozen fights this game. It was awesome.)

Of course, there was knitting:

And knitting-related activities, such as this fastest knitter contest (see their introduction video here):

I think the one on the left won:

Hey, who shrunk the Marlies?!

This referee has all the answers:

We won! Go Marlies! Go!

Good times...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy belated Anti-Valentine's Day!

I meant to post earlier, I really did, but the last little while has been kinda crappy for me. Not that I like complaining or anything (ok, I really do), but I've been sick, injured, and generally overworked these last few weeks. Immediately after I got back from Austin in mid-January (I promise I'll write about that, really!), I got a major cold, and just as I was getting over that, some guy in my aikido class did a move on me wrong that landed me on my left shoulder mid flip, leaving me with an annoying shoulder injury. Just as that's starting to heal, I start to have problems with a wisdom tooth that suddenly decides to grow sideways, right into my cheek. Fortunately, I'm having that removed tomorrow, but it all kinda sucks, y'know?

However, I can be grateful that I'm surrounded by people who really care about me. The boyfriend wrote me this touching anti-Valentine's Day note:

For those of you who can't read his messy handwriting, it says:
I hope you die slowly,
painfully and wide awake.

That spiders set you on fire
while you are tied to a stake.

And your disemboweled corpse
eaten by (hag)fish in a lake.

Your having been born
was your greatest mistake.

Happy Anti-Valentines

Oh honey, I love you too!

Speaking of Anti-Valentine's Day, it's a little late now, but if you want to really express your distaste for the saccharine corniness that is Valentine's Day, visit this blog post I made for the Happy Seamstress. I linked to a ton of fun crafts, recipes and general crafty ideas that you can make for the holiday.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Missing winter

If you live in or around Toronto, you might have noticed that winter has gone missing. I'm not sure what happened, but we'll have a few days where it might hover around freezing and we get an inch of snow, and then a couple of days later, it'll go up to a balmy 10 degrees and all the snow will melt. We've had a lot of rain, and frankly, I kind of feel like we're having a Vancouver winter. I shouldn't complain because anyone who knows me can tell you how much I hate winter, but somehow not having any snow on the ground, and not having to wear a winter jacket most days is just a tad disconcerting.

Anyway, here are some pictures from my parents' place in the Townships to get us back into that wintry mood. To start off, here are a couple of pics my dad took around the house, just to show off the winter wonderland:

Then we have lattes will silly faces:

Pretty ornaments on the Brumalia shrubbery:

Tasty baking:

And a whole family of MacBook Pros (my brother got one for X-mas... so mine's the smallest, his is the middle one and my dad's is the biggest):