Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Away We Go

I'm off this weekend - I'm going on a quilt retreat with Mom. We're off to the Palisades Centre near Jasper, Alberta (in the mountains, in Jasper National Park), where we will be working on different quilts.

Mom is making Dancing Leaves by Animas Quilts, and I'm making a variation of Drunkard's Wave by Judy Niemeyer. Why a variation? Because I just can't follow a pattern exactly as written. My need to "tweak" and to do an individual interpretation is strong - so strong, in fact, that even though I purchased the kit (pricey, too) I'll be ignoring some of the kitted fabrics and substituting from my stash, not making up the blocks as the pattern sets out, adding extra borders, and generally changing things until my quilt looks nothing like the original. At all! But, that's me.

I had to phone ahead and check that I can access my Etsy account and email program from the Palisades Centre so I can keep up with Internet orders of the Agatha pattern while I'm away - shouldn't be a problem. Shawl pins ordered on Friday won't go out until Monday, though (we leave Friday morning).

And then on Monday - I have a surprise for Tom! He has been in Cambodia for 10 days (I'm picking him up at the airport at 1:45am tonight/tomorrow morning), and when he gets back I'm promptly taking off for the quilting retreat and leaving him alone with the critters. So, I wanted to do something special with him to make up for not being here long when he gets back, and I found just the thing!

Henry Rollins is coming to Edmonton. Tom remembers Henry from his days with Black Flag, a punk band (Tom has always liked punk music - yup, he's a bit funky), and we both enjoyed him very much as the co-host of Full Metal Challenge on the Discovery Chanel. Right now he's on tour doing a spoken word thing - apparently it is a rant type of performance - Henry has very strong political leanings, is a comedian, and reminds me a bit of Lewis Black (often featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). Tom doesn't know Henry Rollins is coming here (I just found out today, and was able to get tickets in the nosebleed section, at the last minute), so this is a surprise. I wonder if I can keep the surprise? Probably not. Huh.

Anyway, I hope to resume regular blogging next week - I have a new shawl designed that I want to get started on. In the mean time, I hope to finish Agatha's socks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Agatha is finished, blocked, written up, PDF-d, and the pattern is for sale in my Etsy shop! Woot!

I finished knitting Agatha over a week ago, but blocked her during a humid spell, and she took four days to dry (it probably didn't help that I'm now blocking in the basement, and the weather is considerably cooler now). Then (Murphy rears his ugly head) my digital camera had some temporary hiccups, so a photo shoot was out of the question. However, all is well again now, so I was (finally) able to insert photos into the pattern and turn it into a PDF file.

Agatha's Stats:
  • 3 skeins of ShiBui Knits Merino Kid (not brushed, DK weight) in the colour Mulberry, 218 yards each (used ALL of it!)
  • 24" deep from top edge to bottom point
  • 50" wide from edge to edge, as shown in photo below
  • Two weeks of often interrupted knitting time
  • And yes, I designed and charted her, and wrote up the pattern
  • Lace stitch pattern in body of shawl based on pattern 76 in Estonian lace book Pitsilised Koekirjad, by Leili Reimann

This was a fun knit, and the stitch pattern was easy to memorize and read. I'm pretty proud of the transition into the border - I had some false starts on it, but am happy with the final solution.

Yes, I'm blowing my own horn a bit, but it's exciting to be publishing my first pattern! Darn it! Squee! I can only hope that if anyone actually buys the pattern they find it logical and easy to follow. No test knitters were harmed during the making of this pattern (tee hee - okay fine, I don't have any test knitters - the only knitters I know personally are way to busy for me to even ask). Anyway, I hope to get over myself sometime later today, but will enjoy the giddiness for a few hours more, if that's okay. ;-)

Oh, and there may be (cough) coordinating socks (cough) in the future. I've finished one, and am working on the second. The socks aren't the same colour or yarn, but they do use the same lace pattern.

I'm knitting them out of Crystal Palace Maizy in Hibiscus, and LOVE IT! This stuff (82% corn fiber) is incredibly soft - even softer than Merino! With only one sock done, it has already become my favorite sock yarn - and that's saying a lot considering some of the gorgeous luxury yarns I've worked with.

While there are some lovely solids, I'm not that thrilled with the print colours that are available. However, I can't find anything in my stash that comes even close to being as soft. And, the 18% elastic nylon keeps them springy and bouncy, and helps the lace keep its shape. Yummy. I'll keep you posted as to how they wash. Oh, and they've already been claimed - they fit my Mom perfectly.

Sock Monkey

I've been listening to Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey" for days now. It is SO in my head! Press the blue listen icon next to "Play the song" at the top of the page and you can get it in your head, too.

Anyway, I got to thinking (not always a good thing) that maybe there was a knitting song (or two, or three) in there somewhere...

Sock Monkey
(the Version)
Lyrics by ThatLoganChick

Sung to the tune "Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton

Sock Monkey get up get coffee
Sock Monkey sit in chair
Sock Monkey surrounded by knitting
Yep, projects everywhere
First pick up and work on new Pomotamus
Such a funky sock
Cookie A designs better than rest of us
Hedera she rock
Sock Monkey think maybe Cookie have SSS, never finish second sock
But she write up pattern real nice
Red Herring stranded knit with spice

Sock Monkey like knitting
Sock Monkey like Rosewood Double Points
Sock Monkey like circulars
Addi Turbos and bamboo too
(but only with good joins)

Sock Monkey made Tangled Garden
But can’t get them on
Sock Monkey have real high instep
Wide feet very long
Knit lace 'cause lace is very stretchy and
Can fit over foot
And also thinks lace looks very pretty on
Even ginormous foot
Sock Monkey make Beaudelaire, Broadripple, Fuzzy Feet, and Falling Leaves
Sock Monkey think Knitty real cool
Sock Monkey thank Amy, no fool

Sock Monkey like knitting
Sock Monkey like Rosewood Double Points
Sock Monkey like circulars
Addi Turbos and bamboo too
(but only with good joins)
But only with good joins – uh huh

Sock Monkey knit Crusoe anklets
And they fit really well
Sock Monkey make Thuja for man
He think they very swell
But man he likes his socks in solids ‘cause
He thinks stripes too wild

So Sock Monkey stops knitting new socks for him
She likes socks with style
Sock Monkey think someday she knit every sock, scour Internet each day
Sock Monkey have Wait List so long
Sock Monkey can’t die ‘til it’s gone

Sock Monkey like knitting
Sock Monkey like Rosewood Double Points
Sock Monkey like circulars
Addi Turbos and bamboo too
(but only with good joins)

Of course, JoCo's Code Monkey is available in a Karaoke version so that you can sing Sock Monkey, too. For free (whole song! trial version), or for a buck if you want to download and keep it. Go on, sing it out. I dare you. Hee.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Code Monkey Dance

Me Like Code Monkey

I was listening to back issues of the Knitters Uncensored podcast yesterday, and they closed one of their podcasts with a Jonathan Coulton song (Ikea). It rocked.

So, I looked up JC's website, and ended up buying his whole music collection. The man is talented! You have to enjoy a musician who writes with wit and intelligence, and is also a great performer. I love that he writes with equal passion about science, computers, and drinking. Warning, though - don't listen to "First of May" at work! (Heavy use of the f-word).

I also watched a number of the YouTube videos of his songs, and my favorite is Emily's Code Monkey Dance, which I've put up above for your enjoyment too. Love it!

Back to knitting content: Agatha is finished and blocking (she's been drying for two days already, but the basement studio is quite cool, so I anticipate another day - heavy yarn, and I didn't press out enough water before blocking - lesson learned). I completed writing and editing the pattern, so just need a photo session and I can post it in my Etsy shop. Woo hoo!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Open for (some) Business

After months of wanting to do it, I finally opened an Etsy store!

Right now I'll only be posting a few things, as I'm having difficulty getting useful information out of Canada Post. (Aargh!) Their website insists that I need a postal code to determine a price for sending items in Canada, even when all I want is an estimate for shipping a parcel of know size and weight. Sigh.

Then, I also need to figure out shipping to the US. And to Australia and New Zealand (just in case). How about worldwide? Oy.

Anyway, I'll be selling my (freakin' awesome) shawl pins, some sets of stitch markers, and some knitting patterns (in PDF form).

I'm about 75% of the way through the knitting of my Agatha shawl (yup, changed the name from Pavilion Shawl to Agatha - I'm going to name the patterns alphabetically so I can easily remember them / know when they were designed). However, I already have a pattern format designed, and have written Agatha up.

I think I'll be doing a free sock pattern, too, using the same lace as the shawl. It may be a "free gift with purchase" kind of thing - but it's based on the Riverbed sock architecture from Cat Bordhi's newest book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One", so won't have complete stitch-by-stitch instructions. Rather, it will be a companion pattern, meant for use with the book. If I later decide to sell the sock pattern, I'll have to write it up too, but will need to get Ms. Bordhi's permission to refer to and use her architecture and techniques.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get the Canada Post thing sorted out soon, and put more of the pins and some stitch markers into my shop. I've got some favorites that I may have to keep, but right now have over 30!!! pins ready to go. And they're all lovely, if I might say so...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Pavilion Shawl

Well, that might be it's name... it has had a number of different names already, and I'm only 55/300 grams in.

I've been designing virtual shawls for quite a while now. By "virtual shawl", I mean one that gets charted in Excel, printed out, notes made, etc, but no actual knitting gets done. On a few I've got so far as casting on and knitting a few inches, but then ripping out as something doesn't please me.

My friend Janet took at look at them last Friday, and then proceeded to give me a stern talking to. She thinks that some of those designs are good - even good enough to share. So, I started knitting my most recent design yesterday. I tried three different yarns and four needle sizes, but finally came up with a combination I was happy with. I'm now just under 20% in, based on using all 300 grams of yarn.

I'm using ShiBui Knits Merino Kid, which is a DK weight merino and kid mohair blend. It's not brushed, so the mohair gives it sheen instead of fuzziness, although it has a small amount of halo. The colour is Mulberry, and is rich, rich, rich.

I found the stitch pattern in my book of Estonian lace patterns (Pitsilised Koekirjad). The density of the pattern and the curving of the columns of stitches screamed out to me that they should be knitted in a shiny, thick yarn. When I swatched, I wasn't pleased until I went with a very dense texture - the density really showed off the pattern the best.

So, after much mucking about, I've begun. The shawl has some minor start-up rows, a set-up chart, two charts that are alternately repeated for the body of the shawl, and then a final chart for the bottom border. In just one night of knitting I've gotten into the third repeat of the first of the two repeating charts. Yippee!

Also, I've got most of the pattern written out and formatted already. I just have to make a few changes, then leave it for a while to hibernate so that I can edit with a fresh brain later.

I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and I made a sweater for Nephew Nolan, with two removable / exchangeable fronts - will post on that once it's blocked.