Things that are done:

1. ALL the laundry.  This is a very good thing.  If I hadn’t done laundry today my clothing options for tomorrow would have been a bathing suit or a cocktail dress.  I hate using public laundry machines.  You have to carry a heavy basket far, you have to scrounge quarters or make a special trip to the bank, and worst of all, you have to deal with jerky other people who leave their wet clothes in the washer for 3 hours before coming back for them… Gross dude.

2. The bathroom.  It sparkles now.  I scrubbed it.  There was Commet and PineSol and Windex involved. My toilet needs maintenance (the tank won’t stop running unless you jiggle the handle just right) but I felt like the bathroom needed a serious clean before allowing it to been seen by a stranger.  No more tub ring. No more sink ring.  No more little toothpaste specks on the mirror.  It’s almost like a adult lives here and not a 17-year-old girl.

3. Cumulonimbus.  The last installment of the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club came in April and it came off the blocking board this afternoon.    This means I completed all five shawls, each within one month.

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The pattern is basically vertical intarsia stripes.  The shape comes from simple increases and decreases.  It’s was by far the easiest of the 5 shawls to make.  The most difficult part was stopping ever few rounds to be sure the four strands weren’t tangled.
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The yarn from this installment was Hedgehog Fibers Sock yarn.  It’s a basic merino nylon sock yarn blend.  The colors were April Showers (light blue) and Fool’s Day (dark blue).  I find that it’s wound a little loose to be good for actually making socks.  In fact, I was really disappointed with the way this yarn was milled.  One of my skeins was fine, but the other was plied so badly at the mill that there were many places where the plies had twisted back on themselves making thick rough spots in the yarn.  Now that it’s knit up, you can’t really see the flaw, but you can feel it when you run you hand over the project.  I wouldn’t choose to use it again.
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It was too warm to wear scarves/shawls today, but I managed to hang in there long enough to get this modeled shot.  Luckily May in Portland is pretty fickle and I would bet the temps take another dive before it gets warm for good.  Here’s hoping I get to wear it at least once before next winter.

So close

I’m so close to being done with law school folks!  I can taste it.  Only one final exam stands between me and a JD.  I just finished a hellish exam in partnership taxation today and I’m rewarding myself with an evening of knitting before I hit the books again tomorrow.  This is what’s currently grabbing my attention at home:

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This is the last installment from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  The pattern is called Cumulonimbus.  I’ve been making nice progress on it because it’s pure and simple garter stitch and that is all my brain can handle during finals season.
I’m going to hunker back down with my garter stitch for the rest of the night and revel in the fact that I can now forget everything I know about Subchapter K.  Only 4 more days until I’m no longer a student.  I will not miss taking finals one bit.

Vulpix

Over the past few months I’ve been showing you the fruits of my participation in Stephen West’s Westknits Shawl Club.  First there was Sharktooth.  Then there was Arroway.  Then Oeste.  Now Vulpix.

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It’s definitely my favorite so far.  First, the colors are amazing.  The yarn choice for this installment was Skein Top Draw Sock.  The blend is 85% merino, 15% nylon and, while this is a very common fiber blend for sock yarn, it is some of the softest yarn I’ve ever worked with.  It is a little splitty and loosely spun for sock knitting but for a shawl it was perfect.
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I love how long and shallow the shape of this shawl is.  It’s really more like a scarf that gets a little wide in the middle.  It’s over seven feet long.  The middle pannel is done with intarsia and the stripes are done with short rows so it’s a very fun project technique-wise.  The blok of garter stitch in the middle was pretty boring, but once you finish it you are rewarded with more short-row fun.
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The package for the final installment of the shawl club arrived in the mail on Monday and it’s already cast on.  It should be fun, but I can already tell that it won’t be knocking Vulpix out of the special place in my heart.  More on that later.

Glamor Shots

Oeste came off the blocking matts last week but the weather has been absolute crap–like 3 inches of rain in two days crap.  Today it finally got nice and I was able to get out and get some good picture taken.

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It’s extremely long.  It’s easily much taller than me and I’m 5’8″.  If you are a very short person you might want to make it a little smaller… I don’t know how you would go about downsizing it though, it would probably take a lot of math.
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It takes me a minute or two to put this on because it’s so long and I’m weirdly anal about getting the points to lay where I want them.  It’s worth it though because it looks pretty darn cute all wrapped up around my neck.
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The yarn is the luscious Malabrigo Sock.  I’ve had some in my stash for quite a while but never used it.  The shawl club was the perfect opportunity to finally give it a try.  The colors were perfect together–I love Stephen West’s color sense–and the pattern was unique and fun to try.  There are a million ends to weave in though.  You’ve been warned.

Backsliding

So after starting the year off strong blogging every day for the whole month of January, I find myself backsliding into my old lazy-blogger ways.  Only wanting to post when I have a finished project to show off.  Well after a month-long absence, here I am.  And I’ve got something to show.

I’ve mentioned several times that for, Christmas and my birthday, Ryan signed me up for the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  (This is reason number 792 that Ryan is awesome.)  Since December I have received an exclusive pattern plus yarn to complete the pattern in exclusive colors all designed by Stephen West, my favorite knitwear designer.

I’ve already shown you the December and January installments and I love and wear them both.  Neither of them compare to the February installation.  The yarn for this installment was Malabrigo Sock.  It’s 100% merino awesomeness.  The colors were Chocolate Amargo

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This is actually a Malabrigo color that anyone can buy, it’s not exclusive to the club.  This pisses me off a little because the club was advertised as 100% exclusive.  9 exclusive skeins of yarn and 8 exclusive skeins + 1 non-exclusive skein are not the same thing.  The club membership definitely added a premium to what the standard cost for the yarn would be and that premium must be for the “exclusive” factor.  If you’re only going to have 8 exclusive skeins, say 8, not 9.  
and Oeste
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The pattern for February was the extremely unique Oeste (the yarn was named for the pattern.)   I love the look of this shawl!  I think it’s so unique.  It’s constructed by making 7 mini-shawls then making the body separately and attaching the mini-shawls to the body.  The instructions say to seam them in, but I attached them as I bound off the “steps” in a way similar to a three-needle bind-off.
It’s currently blocking.  I can’t wait until its dry.  It came out extremely long–almost 7 feet tip to tip.
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It’s still wet, so the colors are a bit darker than they will be once it’s dry.  I keep walking over to feel it and see how dry it is even though I just laid it out about 25 minutes ago.
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It’s a good thing I finished when I did.  I cast off last night.  This afternoon when I got back from the clinic I had this waiting for me in my mailbox:
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Hello March package, it’s nice to meet you.

As promised

I got out in the sunlight today and snapped a few pictures of Arroway looking good.  Now that the knitting is further behind me and I’ve worn it and felt how warm and plush it is and I’ve seen the colors in the sunlight I’m a lot happier with it than I was at the moment of bind off.

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This is the second installment from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  The yarn this time around was from Lorna’s Laces in their Shepherd Sock line.  The colors are mossgatherer and newsprint (I’ll let you decide which is which.)  It’s definitely not as soft as the Tosh Merino Light from the last club installment but the yarn is plumper and has a more substantial feel.
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I hated every minute of making these arrows.  Stranding on the wrong side is exceedingly painful and even seven rows was almost too much.  It also gives the shawl a right side and a wrong side as you can see in the first picture.  Now that its done and blocked and the arrows don’t look as messy I’m much more pleased with it.  I used all but about 7 yards of the main color, so be careful using anything with less than 420 yards per skein.  The pattern and the yarn will be available to non club members in May.  Can’t wait to see what February brings!

Two good things

Good thing #1: I wore Arroway today.  To prove it, I offer up this exceedingly unflattering self portrait.

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Better pics will come I promise.  At least the cat is looking cute over my shoulder.  She always sits like that… so regal.  I’ll just say that it’s super warm and I loved having it up around my neck all day.  It kept me nice and toasty all day.  Definitely going to be in my scarf/shawl rotation.
Good thing #2: I made split pea soup last night and now I have a whole fridge of split pea soup carefully ladled out into bowl sized portions! (If you don’t like split pea soup 1: my excitement about this will not make sense to you; 2: you’re crazy; 3: no need for you to read the rest of this post.)  Split pea soup is my favorite.
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To say that my “recipe” is easy is to make it sound harder than it is.  If you can chop celery, you can make this.  (You do need a crock pot though.)  Here goes.
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag split peas (the reasonable size bag, not the industrial size)
  • 1 pound carrots–I buy the ones that come already shredded because they mash really well and I don’t have to do any chopping.  If you want to do more chopping buy whatever is cheapest
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 1 giant can chicken broth–I use the 99% fat free reduced sodium kind.  I mean giant, buy the biggest can at the store
  • 1 pound pork (I use pork instead of ham, I have never liked ham, I think it has a greasy texture that gives me the willies, if you like ham and can’t imagine split pea soup made with mere pork substitute as you like) I’ve used pretty much any cut of pork from pork loin to thick-cut boneless chops to shoulder.  Hint: sometimes the supermarket will put a sticker on it that says “great for crock pot”–pick that.
Directions:
  1. Put split peas on bottom of crock pot.  They must go on bottom.  This is a cardinal rule.  Do not violate it.
  2. Put pork in crock pot on top of peas.
  3. Put carrots in crock pot on top of pork (if you didn’t buy shredded carrots, chop them up first.)
  4. Chop celery then put it in crock pot on top of carrots.
  5. Empty chicken broth into crock pot.  All of it.  Trust me.  You need it.
  6. Add extra water to crock pot.  I have the big circular sized crock pot.  After all the ingredients are in, I fill it to the top with water.  If you have the giant oval crock pot I have no suggestions for how to properly measure the water you add.  Guess.  You may think the giant can of chicken broth gives you enough liquid since it covers all the ingredients.  It does not.  If you don’t add the extra water you will have split pea sludge, not split pea soup.
  7. Set crock pot for low and try to be patient for 16 hours.  It will start to smell good after hour 9.  This can be torturous if you are hungry.  Best to let it cook while you will be out/asleep.
  8. If pork hasn’t fallen apart on its own, use a fork to shred it.  If vegetables have not disintegrated into green soupyness mash them with a potato masher, they should disintegrate into soup at the slightest pressure.
This will make 9 seriously good sized bowls.  If you use relatively lean pork you are looking at 150 calories per bowl.  That’s right 150!  Delicious and healthy.  It will be a good week.

Finished

I finished the knitting on Arroway today.  The purl-side stranding drove me nuts as expected.  Even though there were only seven wrong-side rows it was enough to make finishing this very unpleasant.

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My tension on the wrong side was totally wonky because I’m not used to stranding to the front.  I’m falling back on the belief that blocking will cure everything.  As you can see, the arrows are a bit scrubby looking right now.
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Once it’s blocked I’ll give you all the details and a full review.  Right now I’m too sick of it to give it a fair review.

More?

How many more pictures of garter stitch can you all withstand before you leave me and never come back?  A few more I hope since all I’ve been working on for the past couple days is my arroway.

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Nothing but miles and miles of stripy garter stitch.  I did get to the point where the stipes go from 1×1 to bigger green stripes.  This means I am close (4 rows) to adding the arrow border.
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Originally, I was excited to get to the arrows because I thought the colorwork would provide some interest.  Then I realized that the colorwork is worked flat which means I will have to strand in front on the wrong side.  No me likey.  This has become more a project of will power than of true enjoyment, but I will prevail.  I’m even likely to finish before February, my self-imposed deadline.  Fingers crossed.