The Parasol Protectorate

The latest books I am listening to! I stumbled upon the Parasol Protectorate Series purely by coincidence. They were mentioned briefly at the end of another audio book series. The only thing mentioned was the name of the first book and the author, Soulless by Gail Carriger.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.02.38 PM

These books are set in Victorian England; an alternate reality were werewolves and vampires are accepted into everyday society. The main character, Alexia Tarrabotti, was born without a soul. Her soulless state leaves her unaffected by other supernatural’s powers.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.04.57 PM

This complicates things in the very beginning when Miss Tarrabotti accidentally kills a vampire. Queen Victoria sends her lead investigator, a werewolf named Lord Maccon.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.03.16 PM

Unlike most of the books I read this series has concluded with five books. I am usually finishing off a last book and waiting forever for the next one to come out. I guess that will be true with this one, because no more will come.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.02.59 PM

The thing I like most about these books is the humour. Miss Tarrabotti is unfailingly polite to everyone, even in the most ridiculous situations. Even though this is Victorian times she is not submissive at all. Miss Tarrabotti prides herself on being an intellectual woman with a sharp tongue, mostly aimed at Lord Maccon, but who’s counting?

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.04.05 PM

I haven’t finished the last book yet, but if it is anything like the other ones it will not disappoint. I’ve been texting my friends with quotes and passages trying to lure them into reading all the books!! Lets hope I can succeed!

Work and Whimsy

I know I promised to start an exciting new sweater last week, but I totally haven’t. I’ve been slogging through some technical knitting I need to get done. I’ve also updated a few things on Ravelry. I was looking at my Ravelry project page with all my finished projects on it and thought that it really didn’t do me justice. I felt like I’ve been knitting the whole year round, just not produced any finished objects. At that point I realized I haven’t been recording all the things I’ve knit for KNITmuch. They still count as knitting and need to be recognized! I updated my Ravelry projects page and the 2015 Finished Objects link here on the blog.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 5.57.55 PM

I will admit that this took me much longer than expected so the photos on the blog aren’t linked yet, but I will be getting to that when I am back home from vacation! That’s right, I’m leaving!
Only temporarily, never fear. A friend of mine and I are going to take a road trip to Chicago! It’s one of my favourite places to go! I really REALLY like food, and trust me, Chicago is a food city.
One thing different, this time we’re driving; so when I am not taking my turn at the wheel, I will have a good deal of time to knit. I’ll definitely bring easy things that aren’t easily messed up. If I manage to start a sweater before we leave I could get some great progress on the body. Although that would mean dropping everything immediately and swatching to within an inch of my life. I’ve had one too many a sweater turn out wrong to avoid swatching.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 5.56.44 PM

I was thinking about stopping into some LYS’s while I’m there. It isn’t often I get the opportunity to just go gallivanting around a city like Chicago. I have been to Knitche, in Downers Grove, and loved it! This was the store I bought all my Shibui Silk Cloud from. They were so so SO helpful and balled it all for me into three separate balls per skein. This was before I had a scale and I was totally confounded as to how we were supposed to achieve this. When I expressed my doubts to the ladies at this store they offered to ball it all for me if I picked it up the next day.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 5.59.17 PM

I would like to pop back if given an opportunity. There are a lot of yarn stores in Chicago though and I wouldn’t mind seeing at least one other. We’re staying near Wicker Park so perhaps there might be one in that area!

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 6.00.33 PM

I just realized I am leaving on Friday and haven’t been OBESSING over which knitting to pack and take with me. I have a couple simple things on the go, but really, where is the fun if you can’t take a whole suitcase full of yarn?

Technical Tuesday: The Slipknot

The past few Technical Tuesday’s have been a little heavier with colours and how to make them work, so today I am going back to basics. One thing that always surprises me is how often I refer to a slipknot and people say “a what?” It has even happened once or twice with other knitters. I use a slipknot every time I start a project, or have to tie a knot in general.

You may not have known what it is called, but a slipknot is the first thing you generally learn when you’re first starting out. You have to tie the yarn onto the needle in order to cast on. There are a few cast on’s that don’t require a slipknot or have clever ways around it.

Jenny’s Magic Cast On, for instance, does not require a slipknot. The theory being that it is still a knot and this one would be at the toe of your socks. Usually the slipknot’s themselves are invisible, so it isn’t a problem of seeing a huge ugly knot on your hem-line.

All the basic skills that are out there, this one is the foundation of knitting. All knitters and crotchetiers use it and, if you’re someone who is just starting out, this is the place to start.

Adventures with Paracord

As you might have noticed, I’ve been pretending to be athletic this summer. This includes running and biking outside. I read other bloggers adventures in running, biking and hiking for inspiration and ideas but one post I saw changed my outlook on outdoor activity safety.

Paracord-2734

This was one of those posts about top 10 useful things for running or 5 pieces of gear you need to complete a triathlon. It was called a Road ID. It is a bracelet with your name, emergency contact information and any pressing medical conditions/allergies. You get to completely customize it so you can put whatever information you want onto it. I ended up putting my name, the city I live in, Paul’s number, my mom’s number and my antibiotic allergies.

Paracord-2731

I kind of went back and forth about the Road ID. It is a good investment, but is it worth it? Maybe I could do it myself cheaper. I couldn’t find a place to do the little metal plate cheaper. The plate is engraved and affixed to the bracelet. There was no where I could find that allowed so many lines of text for so cheap. I wasn’t really keen on the bracelet part of it though.

Paracord-2729

The bracelet is just a Velcro watch band, essentially. I could see it looking really good for a couple months and then looking absolutely horrible. I wanted something a bit more durable than Velcro as well. With a little bit of research online I found paracord bracelets. I went out and got the materials from Michael’s, it was not expensive at all. A couple of YouTube videos later I was in business.

Paracord-2733

The funny part was, I kept seeing ‘emergency paracord bracelet’ and I couldn’t figure out why it was an ‘emergency’ bracelet. If you unravel the bracelet you have an extra length of paracord. A friend actually had to tell me that.

Paracord-2723

It’s been keeping me out of trouble for a little bit and now I have an awesome bracelet wristband for my Road ID!!

On and On Again

What is going on with knitting this week!? Nothing much I am sad to say! I haven’t been all that interesting lately; I think I’ve lost some of my knitting mojo! It’s a real thing and happens to everyone at some point! For me it is usually in the summer when it is absurdly hot. No one even wants to look at a sweater let along knit it! This past weekend the temperature was in the high 20’s but the ‘feels like’ temperature was 34. THIRTY FOUR DEGREES!! I couldn’t look at what the humidity index was, but I am sure it was something absolutely atrocious.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.49.00 PM

This past weekend I got a chance to sit and do nothing. No writing, no sample knitting, no knitting for other people. Just… nothing. I started thinking about knitting a sweater. It’s been a while since I’ve done it and at heart I am definitely a sweater knitter. I think my grandmother’s sweater has really annihilated my desire for sweater knitting. If I am knitting a sweater then I feel like I should be knitting hers because she asked me to so long ago. The last sweater I knit as a palate cleanser turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. I need a success, I need to just whip off an easy sweater and not worry about anything. I’ve listened to a podcast where the podcasters gave their listeners permission to change a pattern or put things on hold. I am officially giving myself permission to knit a sweater, out of whatever yarn I want, without guilt, without shame even!

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.49.32 PM

I think this is something every knitter gets caught up in. As soon as you start knitting, people start making orders. I always offer to teach them and they can make their own. I really think it’s interesting how quickly a lot of people back pedal away from the thought of knitting. It takes hours and hours of time for a knitted garment to be produced and knitters pour their blood, sweat and tears into these projects. I know I’ve mentioned this book before but Franklin Habit’s comic book It Itches really hits the nail directly on the head. If someone is knitting you something, that is time they are spending on you. There are a 1000 other things they could be knitting or doing, but they are taking that time aside and working on something special for you. Odds are, they’re thinking about you and how much you are going to love this gift, pouring good feelings into it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.51.49 PM

I’ve heard the philosophy, don’t knit angry. If you’re fighting with someone or unhappy, don’t knit on that project. I can remember what I was listening to or watching while I was knitting particular garments. Sometimes I don’t get specific scenes from garments, but I will get the emotions that film evokes; inspiration, anxiety, suspense, excitement. I know when I watch the Lord of the Rings movies and knit I always feel like those pieces are for travelling. I might have to start picking my projects based on what I am watching on TV at the time.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.46.12 PM

When I was knitting the Harry Potter scarves for the last movie, I ONLY knit when I was watching a Harry Potter movie. To cut the fringe, I wrapped the yarn around the third Harry Potter book. I couldn’t help but remember the movies when I wore that scarf. I had to make about five of them and in the end, I think I gave the scarf I made for myself away. I might have to make another one and instill it with the same concentrated amount of Harry Potter power as the last one. Perhaps I’ll do something different this time? A Lord of the Rings or Doctor Who scarf? Decisions decisions…

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.50.04 PM

Technical Tuesday: The Colour of Truth Part 4

Now we get to the part where people are curious! How does your gauge affect the colours you are knitting with? Terms like ‘pooling’ will no longer hold fear for you here!!
When I went to Vogue Knitting Live in New York, one of the classes I took focused on using dip dyed yarn to make a pattern. There was no switching of yarns or anything, just math. This technique makes the yarn pool in a pattern. The best example I have of this is the snuggle sack I made my nephew when he was born.

E-boy Snuggle Sack

The yarn was variegated within itself and my gauge just happened to be the magic number to make this pattern appear. I didn’t do it on purpose and when someone asked me how they could replicate it, I wasn’t able to answer their question. Another one that happened more recently was this pair of Paul’s socks.

05 27 2015 Sweaters Socks and Setbacks-2019

They look striped, but that is just the gauge I hit. When I started the second sock, it wasn’t pooling the same; it turns out I had cast on a different number of stitches. Those two socks looked very different and that is what clued me in to my mistake!
Sometimes this isn’t always a mistake though. If you’re knitting a sweater and the body is 200 stitches, your sleeves are only going to be 40 stitches (these are rough ball parks, not in reference to a specific pattern). This means the body will look radically different from the sleeves.

Colour of Truth Part 4-2716

This swatch has a different amounts of stitches from the sock above, but it is the same yarn. If you’re counting on the yarn to pool the same, you’re going to have to do some fancy math. In this instance, what I would do is to attach two balls of yarn to the body of the sweater and alternate balls every two rows. This will allow the pattern to be truly random and if you do the same on the sleeves, the colours should be mixed up enough that you won’t be able to notice a difference.

Collage Variegated

There are much easier ways to get around this. If you’re using a variegated yarn, you can always pair it with a solid colour. The solid colour will break up any unfortunate pooling. I bought some yarn online once; I thought it was mostly blue with a little bit of variegated colour in it. When I ended up getting it, the yarn was completely variegated. I got a sweater’s worth of the yarn and if I made a regular stockinette stitch sweater, it would have looked like a rainbow threw up on me. Needless to say, I have thought long and hard about what I am going to do with this sweater. I am going to make it a pattern of variegated with a solid. Now I just need the time to get around to doing it!

Board Games

One thing Paul and I enjoy is having friends over for board games. Paul is friends with a lot of people who are really into games, so we get all the best reviews. Occasionally, someone will get a new game and we will all gather the troops. This past weekend we got everyone together for a game of werewolves.

Board Games-2635

Paul and I had played one night werewolf with his brothers and a few of their friends. The premise of the game; everyone is dealt a random card with a character on it. It could be a villager, werewolf or special character. You look at your card and then everyone goes to ‘sleep’ (we close our eyes). The werewolves open their eyes and look at the other werewolves, so they all know who one another is. Then the special characters; the trouble maker can switch two people’s cards, robber can switch their card with another person’s, the drunk switches their card into the middle with a totally random card.

Board Games-2634

 

 

Then we wake up. No one looks at their cards and you have five minutes to decide who the werewolf is. If you started out as a werewolf, you might not be anymore and if you were the drunk, you have no idea what you are. There are more special characters than those three, but it is a lot of fun. Much pointing and shouting.

Board Games-2655

Our friends have the longer version of this game, Ultimate Werewolf. There is a story to this game and no switching of the cards. You are dealt a card and the werewolves kill off one person every ‘night’ (when everyone’s eyes are closed). It is a more intricate game, but just as fun. The objective is to find out who the werewolves are before they kill all the villagers. In this game there is a sheriff, so the person appointed sheriff got to wear the cowboy hat…. After that the hats kept multiplying.

Board Games-2648

These two games are excellent party games and one night werewolf is quick and can be played with as little as two players, but is really best with 4-6 people. The Ultimate Werewolf is excellent for seasoned gamers and can handle from 6-30 people.

The Story of the Dreaded Pocket

I’ll start with my own knitting, then… we will have story time!!
I’ve been plugging away at my knitting, little by little. Working on my Shibui gradient scarf, I have totally forgotten how amazing it is to knit with silk cloud.

Shibui Gradient-2671

It’s not a really common fibre so when I pull it out to work on it everyone goes “ooooooooohh, what’s that?” This is the third gradient scarf I’ve done and I’ve got enough to make another one afterwards. These scarves are the epitome of potato chip knitting. The pattern is free on Ravelry.
You have to hold three strands of this yarn together and knit in a seed stitch. After completing one colour block, you switch out one of the strands for another colour. The pattern is very easy and the yarn is a dream to knit with, so you find yourself saying… just one more stripe. Next thing you know it is 4am and you’ve finished off another season of something on Netflix.

Shibui Gradient-2668

I do have a funny knitting story to tell. A knitting friend, who wished to remain anonymous, came to me with a problem. She was knitting a sweater and could not make heads nor tails about the instructions pertaining to the pocket. I looked at it and had a hard time making it out. The ONLY reason I could tell what the designer was talking about was the fact that I had done this kind of pocket before. Basically, you knit your sweater till the place you want the pocket to be, you cast off stitches for the pocket. On separate needles, you knit a swatch the same amount of stitches as the ones you cast off for the pocket; knit until you have the depth needed for the pocket. At this point, when you’re purling back to the place where you bound off those stitches, you take the swatch that you knit (still with live stitches) and knit it in there. This creates a hole in the front with a flap; later you go back and sew the edges of the flap to the inside of the sweater. You can then put your hand in the hole and have a pocket! Victory!
I explained this, and she caught on; it wasn’t so difficult. The next day, she messaged me, upset and talking about ripping out several inches of knitting. I told her to wait and let me take a look. The way she described it, I didn’t think it would be necessary to rip out stitches. Sure enough, when I looked at it, all the stitches were fine and she had done the pocket totally and completely right. The pocket flap was on the outside of the sweater so she thought she would be sewing it onto the outside. She wasn’t visualizing the technique, but had done everything 100% correct. There was no problem with the knitting.
Afterwards, she felt really silly and that she should have seen that. I told her that I was impressed she had managed to get it right without knowing what the big picture was. That completely astounded me! I couldn’t believe she had followed those instructions without a mental picture of what it was going to look like! When she persisted that she really should have seen it, I said “well… at least you didn’t just rip it out!” The thought galvanized us into some very productive knitting for the rest of our hangout.
I didn’t manage to get any photos, but said friend told me to tell her story! Hopefully it put a smile on your face and gave you a pick-me-up on your Wednesday!

Technical Tuesday: The Colour of Truth Part 3

Self-Striping yarns are becoming more and more common now. They’re mostly made for things like socks, but can also be implemented in things like; leg warmers, fingerless mittens, hats, etc.
Self-striping, refers to yarn that will stripe for you; there is no need to switch colours or struggle with carrying around more than one ball of yarn. You don’t need to continually look at a pattern because all the hard work is taken out of knitting this kind of yarn. You can make a plain stockinette stitch sock, which turns out beautifully patterned.

Socks Rainbow One Newsletter

I’ve been dyeing a few self-striping hanks of yarn and that is lots of fun, but knitting with this kind of yarn it completely addictive. You know what the next colour is going to be, but seeing how it lines up next to the previous one makes you want to do just one more stripe.

Warped Porch-1988

The type of yarn dyed by indie dyers is one-of-a-kind, there can be multiples of a batch and they may be close, but not exactly the same. Each hank is hand dyed by a person. Whether they are dip dyed or hand painted, there is going to be slight variations between each hank.
There are certain kinds of yarn that are self-striping, but they the patterns are computer generated. These hanks of yarn will be exactly the same every time. The computer generated pattern also means there can be a lot more intricate pattern than hand dyed yarn. The photo below is Regia yarn.

Stripes Socks 3

This is one of my favourite types of variegated yarn. It makes for excellent mindless knitting and there is always an exceptional finished object at the end.

A Cat Calling

I realize I haven’t officially introduced my fur-balls on the blog, so I am going to do so now. I have three cats; who are my constant knitting companions. They’re only allowed near recreational knitting because they have a love for yarn that almost rivals mine.

Cat Post-0116

Above is Lucky, attempting to grab a ball of yarn and run with it. I don’t know if it is just the movement of the yarn or the smell or something, but she will attempt to grab a ball of yarn in her mouth and run with it.

Cat Post-2481

Just above here is Sassy; she has a variety of variations on her name, such as Sass-a-frass, Frasser, etc. In that photo is my warping board with shoestrings, pant strings, and all manner of string the cats have managed to steal from various types of clothing. The warping board had just been sitting in the hall way and I threw a few of the strings on it entertain the cats. Total hit.

Cat Post-0602

Last but not least is Chloe. I don’t know if her fondness for yarn is truly a fibre obsession or if she just likes sitting on my lap. There are literally thousands of photos of her on my computer; she is either snuggling yarn, or all tangled up.

I have definitely knit a couple things for the casts, like this…

Cat Post-1010

But they forgave me eventually. Chloe actually didn’t mind the little sweater; she purred the whole time it was on.

I don’t try to put them into little sweaters or Halloween costumes (that only happened once) very often. I don’t think they would forgive me otherwise. Those are the three troublemakers who allow me to live in their house and even grace others with their presence sometimes. What is the best thing you have ever seen knitted for a pet?

Cat Post-1650

Not that you can’t tell, but she was not amused.