Thursday, January 29, 2009

Needles Afire

I had been meaning to make another wool hat for Paul, who runs outside into the cold a lot at work, and I finally finished it. Below, you can see it modeled on its intended recipient, and also on the baby, who looks rather like a mushroom.

I think they're both quite cute, but obviously I'm biased.

Also, the yarn arrived for my next Big Project, and I started working. It's a wedding shawl for the neighbor, who is getting married sometime in the spring or early summer. (Date TBA.) This is the Tuscany shawl by Amy Singer, from No Sheep For You. It's a lovely pattern, and I'm using lovely yarn - Luscious Silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in Narikama (part of the Spirits collection, if you're going to look). This yarn is a delight to work with, and knit up, it is soft and has excellent stitch definition to show off the pattern. This pattern is worked from the tip and widens as you go.

Non-knitters (which will be most of you, undoubtedly): Those orange lines running through it are not a part of the pattern. They are lifelines - used when knitting lace or something else which might make you weep if you had to rip it out. At certain points in a pattern - usually the end of a repeated set of rows - you run a thin yarn in a contrasting color through the work. Then, when you make an irretrievable mistake six rows later, you only have to rip out six rows, instead of all of them (in this pattern, all of them can be anywhere up to 200), and thread the needle back into the stitches that are captured on the contrasting yarn. Lifelines are removed when you're done knitting.

Also, since I am incapable of even serial monogamy when it comes to knitting, I am working on a pair of fingerless gloves for myself. Just a few rows to finish the top, and then I'll complete the thumb and have one done.

This is a new pattern, picked up at Lettuce Knit in Toronto, and I like it, though I may shorten the ribbed cuff by an inch or so if I make it again. It's my first time creating a thumb gusset, and like most things, it's a lot easier than I thought it would be. There's probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere, but I'm too distracted to figure it out this morning.

Stay warm out there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bath Head, Feet, and Bread

I think Don King could learn a thing or two. (As perhaps I could about my camera. I don't know why that picture is grainy.)

Oh, and we have discovered our feet. Haven't quite figured out how to gnaw on them yet, but it can't be far off. (Look at those chunky thighs! I can't wait to show them off at his next appointment. See, I AM feeding him!)

I've been making bread lately. Mostly traditional whole wheat loaves with a little wheat bran thrown in for texture, but I've also been experimenting with no-knead bread. The whole wheat loaves have been coming out consistently tasty, but I'd like a little more loft to the loaf; I have short little pieces of bread when I slice. The no-knead has always been delicious, but I can't quite get the second rise to work correctly. I experimented a little with the batch I made today, so I'll let it sit in the fridge overnight and make a loaf tomorrow to see if it made any difference.

More importantly, I promised myself that I am not going to go bonkers with the bread. I have a bad habit of figuring out something new, deciding that this is the best new thing EVAH, and burning myself out in a while. So usually, this is how it would go:

I can bake bread! And it tastes good! Oh my goodness! I will bake bread every day. My family will eat only homebaked whole grain nutritiony goodness that has been formed with my loving hands. Commercial bread will never cross the threshold of this house again. Never, I say! Would you like me to list the advantages of homemade bread for you? Here you go. (I'll spare you the lecture. People who see me in person regularly are unfortunately not so lucky.) I am so excited about baking bread for my family! La la la la la. (Sung with dough on the hands and flour on the shirt.)

Then I would get busy one week and not have time to bake bread, and this would happen:

I am a terrible mother. I am a terrible wife. I can't even manage to bake bread for my family. *sob* What is wrong with me? Why am I such a mess? Why can't I get anything right? Why can't I accomplish a simple task like baking a loaf of bread?

Repeat a couple of times, and soon the decision comes that baking bread is causing me too much stress and I am clearly not good at it anyway, and so I am giving it up. We will buy our bread.

(Also, I suspect that the perpetual student that lives inside me gets really engaged while I'm learning about something and perfecting the process, and then gets bored once I've figured it out. "Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." - Kurt Vonnegut)

All of that is what I am trying hard NOT to do this time around. I told Paul, who really likes the bread and seemed to get just ever-so-slightly panicky today when there was just a crust left, that I will keep up with baking bread whenever I can, but I am not going to have a heart attack about it if I can't. I have a couple of loaves of our favorite store-bought in the freezer, and they'll get pulled out as necessary and used occasionally anyway for rotation. I am trying very hard to change my ways.

In fact, I am so enamored of my new way of approaching projects that I am sure I will never go back to the old way. Did you hear me? I am a changed woman! I am so excited about my new way of doing things and how I'm never going back, and I'd like to tell you about how it's changed my life. Are you ready? Are you excited to hear about my new ...

See? I have to watch myself every minute.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Trick

After a few weeks of lying on his side and looking up at us as if to say, "Well? What now?" baby boy has achieved rollover. He especially likes to try on the changing table, which makes him both more dangerous and harder to dress.

In case you're wondering, that picture has nothing to do with rolling over. I just thought it was funny. And for the record, it was papa that did that to him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Moebiuses (Mobeii?)

More than one of them, at any rate.

I cast on a moebius on Election Day 2008 (see why here if you like), and finished in the run up to Christmas. It wasn't intended as a Christmas present - in the interests of sanity, I do not knit very many Christmas presents - but I gave it to my sister when it was done. It seemed fitting. I bought the yarn when I was with her, it was much more in her color palette than mine, and it may have convinced her that not all wool is Brillo-like. Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product. They aren't fantastic pictures, and my hair wasn't really feeling it that day, but it does give you an idea of how a moebius scarf/hood works.

The pattern alternates knit and purl ridges. If you are a math geek, you might like to know that the rows of knit/purl in this particular piece follow the Fibonacci sequence. The yarn is Malabrigo merino worsted in the loro barranquero colorway, purchased at Lettuce Knit in Toronto.

I really enjoyed knitting this - I find the construction of the moebius fascinating. The cast on is slightly fiddly but not hard at all (see the first link for a step-by-step video), and does not create an edge, but the very middle row of the moebius. So you begin knitting a thin piece of fabric, and it grows not longer but wider. I think Cat Bordhi, who invented the cast on, can see an extra dimension.

Anyway, I had so much fun with it that I cast on another yesterday evening. This one is probably for me, and I'm using stash yarn - some Malabrigo merino worsted that didn't know what it wanted to be when it grew up. It's a yummy warm red (yeah, I know) and I'm loving working with it.

A Young Card Shark

He doesn't have much of a poker face, though.