Skew

For a while I was knitting Skew by Lana Holden. I’ve loved the pattern ever since I saw it in the Winter 2009 Knitty. I especially love the versions that I’ve seen in self striping yarn.

When a Skein of Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self Striping yarn in the colorway Love’s Labor Lost came into my possession via the awesome Laurie, I knew it would become Skew eventually.

Eventually, has turned out to be right. Since September I’m….

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That far. Which is to say, not far. As a bouns, on my left foot you can see my icky surgery scar from the 2008 osteotomy (aka the Great Foot Straightening), and on my left foot you can see my hairy big toe. Sexy Lady.
An interloper (or several) came between me and these lovely socks and I haven’t made it back to them. Also, since I’ve been working at the yarn shop during the regular sock hour, I don’t have that time set aside to dedicate to them anymore. I really do need to give my neglected WIPs some love. They’re all projects I like. I’m just… easily distracted.
Speaking of easily distracted, on the reading front I’m STILL reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke. I do like the book, I really do, but I keep putting it down for sexier, flashier, quicker reads. According to Goodreads, I started reading this in March… and according to my Kindle (which I have named Anthony because it’s fun to call things by a proper name) I’m only 40% through. Now it’s about 1,000 pages so 40% is like reading two little books, but still… Also, the last 10% or so of the book is footnotes, and I’ve read a lot of the footnotes already, but they don’t count in the 40% since it measures from the page you are on looking back. I like it when I flip to the footnotes and it tells me I’m 96% done. A girl can dream.

Archer

I know I never managed to blog about it, while it was in progress, but I participated in the Fresh Stitches Mystery Crochet A Long.

As it turns out, the finished amigurumi was this adorable puppy dog: Archer.

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Stacey Trock, who designs under the name Fresh Stitches, has many absolutely adorable crochet toy patterns, and I knew I would probably love any pattern she came up with, so I signed up for the CAL.
I never actually got around to taking pictures of the pieces before I assembled Archer, but I can tell you I wasn’t sure what I was making right up to the last minute.
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I used one of the yarns recommended by Stacey in the pattern: Ella Rae Classic. It’s a workhorse 100% wool and we happened to be clearing it out at the shop. The colors I used are the aptly named 107 and 135.
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I used Suncatcher Eyes (also recommended by Stacey) in the color shimmer blue. They’re fairly inexpensive and very pretty. I bought 5 pairs in various colors, so I see more little toys in my future.
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In other hobby news, I’m almost done reading A Christmas Carol. I started before Christmas when I was in a holiday mood, but still have about 30 pages left. I’m slow, what can I say. It’d been a while since I’d read anything of “substance.” Lots of light and fluffy, even some racy, but nothing hearty. If I go too long without reading something substantial, the English major in me gets antsy and overly critical of my “fun” reading. Hopefully a little Dickens will apease it and keep it from making too much of a fuss when I pick up The Woodcutter when I’m finished.

Finally

I started knitting my Lissajous Socks in July of 2011. They were the For Yarn’s Sake knitalong that month. After the knitalong ended I only really worked on them for one hour a week–For Yarn’s Sake Sock Hour. (Pro Tip: the hour before the open knit chat is sock hour, if you come to sock hour you can get a really good seat for knit chat.) Well, after a year plus of one hour sessions, they are done!

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What’s that you say? The last time I showed them to you they were white? Oh yeah. I may have dyed them. You see, they got dirty. While in progress, they fell out of my bag at Red Robin one night while we were having dinner after knit chat. I didn’t notice, and when I retrieved them from the restaurant a week later, they had clearly been left on the floor for a long time and were soaked with nasty mop water. In the picture below you can see the dirty parts on the outside compared to the part of the sock in the middle of the picture where I had joined a fresh clean ball.
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After about two straight days of washing they were cleaner, but still discolored. Enter the magic that is Jacquard dye. I pulled out my little pot of “Lilac” and after half an hour, I had this:
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Dying is seriously magical because you put the dye in the water, and the water turns a very dark version of whatever color you are using. Then you put the yarn or fabric in and the dye gets sucked up into it. The water goes back to being clear once all the dye has been sucked up. It’s pretty cool. And look, you can’t tell they were ever dirty.
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The pattern will make you extremely comfortable with twisted stitches and 1×1 cables. Also, the cable pattern is only charted, so if you have problems reading charts you might want to brush up on your skills before attempting this one.
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These are one of my biggest knitting accomplishments. I would definitely rate this as harder than most of the sweaters I’ve made. Finish anything big lately?
On the reading front, I have dropped everything to start The Casual Vacancy. Yes, I am a sheep.
Go check out other people finished projects that Tami has rounded up.

Expanding my skills

Last March when the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet came out I could not wait to make the Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman. I began (cast on?) the same day the magazine arrived.  I quickly worked through the flowered border, then…

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I have no idea.  Something sent it to the basket and it stayed there for over a year.  Recently, I’ve been in a “get sh*t done” mood so I’ve been pulling out old projects left and right and finishing them up.

I picked it back up and I’ve been seriously trucking through it.

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In two days I’ve finished about 10 inches of the body.  Thats insane!  I could never bust through a knitting pattern that fast.

The cardi is made in one piece up to the armpits then split and knit separately to the shoulders.  Most of the cardigan is this all-over mesh pattern.

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The flower details at the bottom look a little crummy right now, but it looks like they will block out pretty nicely.
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I love reading blogs where people talk about what they’re reading along with what they’re knitting, so I figured I’d start sharing as well.  Recently, I’ve been reading an excellent book–The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murderer and the Birth of Forensic Medecine in Jazz Age New York (why oh why do academics feel the need for long subtitles?) by Deborah Blum.

 

It’s so good! Prior to the late 1800s it was basically impossible to prove if someone had been poisoned–needless to say, it became a pretty popular way to get rid of people.  As scientists started to come up with ways of detecting poisons, poisoners switched to poisons that were harder to detect.  When the industiral era was in full swing in the ’20s industrialists were constantly inventing new chemicals to facilitate their industries but there was little investigation into what the side effects of the chemical exposure might be.
The book chronicles the cat-and-mouse between murderers and scientists and the development of the science of detecting poison. The book reads like a story and even though it talks about scientific development it doesn’t get overly technical.  Fair warning though, it does describe the effects of various poisons on the body, sometimes in detail.  I found the descriptions of radium poisoning especially disturbing.  Seriously though, I’m loving this book.  Read it!