Monday, September 29, 2014

A Long Time Ago....

I've been having a few health issues over the summer, which led me to stop posting until I got a better handle on myself. Being chronically ill is no picnic. And at the beginning of September, I and several of my co-workers were laid off, which led into a round of all sorts of calls, appointments, and various mayhem.

On the bright side, I've taken some time to bring some projects to completion in between applying for jobs. Spinning and knitting are truly marvelous rehab opportunities! And as usual, my knitting group has been super supportive, which I am forever thankful for. Love you guys!

A while back, Kate asked me to design a couple of pairs of socks for A Hundred Ravens. I finished up pair one and sent that to her last week, and it's really quite nice. I'll post photos after she's sent it to her club. The pattern itself won't be available separately for a few months as it's a club exclusive, but I'm quite pleased with it! Nice textured pattern that looks good in tonal yarns, and has looped stitches which can help break up pooling in more colorful handpaints.

Spinning's been keeping me busy too as I want to bring down the spinning WIP count. So far, so good!

Finished a lovely Inglenook Fibers batt, in colorway Crocus (the purple above). Super sweet, very soft, and will make a nice knitted necklace, I think. It's been quite a joy to spin, and I definitely recommend Mother Macrina's fibers.

Earlier in the year, I succumbed to the lure of a sale at Mad Angel Creations and bought two lovely bright blue and gold batts named Royal Fireworks. Normally I just pull strips from the side of a batt and spin, but this time I divided the fiber horizontally, spinning sections of blue, then gold, and finally plying them together for some sweet barberpole action. :) This yarn is destined to become an Elis cowl, a nifty free pattern on Ravelry by Reiko Kuwamura.

And today, I finished spinning a Wild Hare Fiber Studio superwash wool in a gradient colorway called Midnight Orchid. The feel of this fiber reminded me very much of the Targhee wool I spun last year and gave to Anna. Soft, bouncy, sproingy... it'll make a great shawl. I spun 678 yards in fingering, so I'll have plenty of patterns to choose from.

That'll be the trouble, won't it? Settling down to pick patterns for my handspun. Guess there are worse problems to have though.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Journey to the Northeast

After work, I packed Kitty up and we headed toward Massachusetts, home of my friends Kate and Becca, their adorable cherubs and kittehs, and their business. My first patterns were created for A Hundred Ravens yarns, and I'm still creating things for them as time allows. Indeed, my first shawl pattern is destined to become part of a kit for them!

Kitty took to the long trip rather well. We stopped at a really nice Red Roof Inn (I know, right? But this place had just been renovated, and the staff was super friendly) the first night, and then continued our trip at a leisurely pace the next.

I love spending time with Kate and Becca. They're both so warm and welcoming! Lili helped me walk Kitty around the neighborhood, too, which was nice as I've never walked a dog anywhere but by my own home. We all gossiped, giggled, and had a wonderful time!

As I was "in the area," I decided to pick up my new spinning wheel, a beautiful Midnight Sky Golding Travel Wheel, with exquisite hand carving and finishing by Seth Golding. It's a bigger version of the Midnight Sky ring spindle I already own, and so gorgeous. The wood has a soft, silken finish and delicate glow, and spins silently, only the faintest whir like an owl on the wing.

Love it. Love it. Love it. Her name is Sky, and she will preside over my living room.

Kate had dyed some superwash merino fiber, but wasn't happy with it... but I was! And am! I've already spun up the first 4-ounces of colorway TARDIS, which you can see dangling from the wheel. She also let me take home another 4-ounces of TARDIS, as well as another bundle in a lovely green and grey.

She also convinced me to do another pair of socks for her, so I will be jotting down a pattern which I had meant to release for myself, but I adore Kate and would do anything for her!

Also got to bring home so lovely, lovely Aesir and Danu in my favorite colorway, White Witch. I cried when I first saw it as part of her sock yarn club a couple of years ago, absolutely in love with the simplicity of the white and pale ice blue. I'm glad she dyed more for me, as I was torn up about using the one skein of Iachos I had to do my shawl pattern with. :D Now I can hoard two skeins of this color instead of just one!

We drove home, Kitty and I, after a relaxing holiday where she was so well-behaved and I was so giddy with happiness! Good friends will do that to ya... all the giddies!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Going on a Road Trip!

My dog Kitty and I will be on the road this weekend, heading up to New England for the Fourth of July. We'll be staying over at my friend Kate's house, which is always fun because Kate, her wife Becca, and their little cherubs are marvelous.

I expect to eat too much food and laugh very often!

I shall also be stopping by the Goldings' workshop to pick up my Midnight Sky travel spinning wheel. The image to the left is of my Midnight Sky drop spindle, which I also love. See the teeny little owl perched in the tree branch? Naturally, I had to have it! :D And when I saw the travel wheel... well, nuff said! I worked out a budget and got that one too.

While away, I plan to finish knitting the edging onto my P'shawl, and then also finish the pattern destructions. I'm also working on a sock pattern for some lovely, scaly socks. Rawr!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

So Many Deadlines!

It seems everyone's preparing for their fall and winter collections, which means there are multiple deadlines for me to juggle with what design I want to submit where.

I've been quite excited recently by this whole submissions thing. So much so, I had to put all the dates into a Google calendar to remind me when I need to actually send things off to the various publishers.

Feels a little unreal sometimes, scribbling notes, sketching stitches, thumbing through my collection of stitch dictionaries... as though I'm a "real" designer. And yet, I am! And also, so new with it!

Tomorrow I have to put together a submission for a pair of socks, which I hope will work out well. I'm planning to use a combination of cable stitches, and those always leave me cross-eyed. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June is Busting Out All Over!

I am not a fan of heat and humidity (see what I did there?). Mainly during the summer in Baltimore, I dash from air conditioned car to air conditioned office, then back home from work to my un-air conditioned home.

Central air conditioning is on my list of future improvements to Hampden Place, as it gets progressively less comfortable to sit and work on anything. I move up to my bedroom, where I have a nice portable unit set up, but it's not as comfy as relaxing in one of the living room chairs.

On the bright side, when I'm in my room, I can finish up things that would otherwise be consigned to bins to wait until the weather cools enough that I can face having wool in my hands.

I finished plying the Greenwood Fiberworks BFL and silk I'd done while in Hawaii last month. It's so beautiful, I spend time staring at it. Maybe I'll enter it into the State Fair this year. I measured out 360 yards of sport-weight yarn, which is quite a nice chunk. Right now, it's drying on a cookie cooling rack, a gorgeous display of color and shine.

I've been knitting up a baby sweater, Phazalia's Mitered Baby Jacket, for a co-worker's expectant wife, and as usual, I have spent much time tinking back and trying to figure out where I've gone wrong. :) Looked over all the other projects on Ravelry to see where I might have made my mistakes, and will be taking the project and pattern to knit night tomorrow to consult with everyone.

The yarn is Wisdom Yarns Marathon Socks--North Pole, in Candy Cane Red. I'd forgotten I had this until a nice Raveler contacted me to ask if I'd be willing to sell it to her. As I was on holiday, I told her I'd need to get back home before I could do anything. She later sent me a message that she'd found someone else to buy it from immediately. And since the skein was now uppermost in my mind, I pulled it out of its bin to use for the jacket, which has few seams and looks striking in self-striping colorways.

I hope I finish this before the baby arrives. We shall see!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Post-Holiday Catching Up

Our vacation went quickly and nicely, with my sister and niece, plus my own two little cherubs, spending random hours together. We talked story, slept in, ate all the things (I love, love, love what local kine foods they have at Zippy's), and enjoyed our holiday.

I finished one of my vacation projects, spinning up 4-ounces of a luscious Greenwood Fiberworks BFL and silk roving, using my new Bosworth Moosie. This fiber is fabulous, drafted easily and flowed like water onto the spindle.

The roving I chose was dyed in even horizontal stripes, so I decided to do some fractal spinning. I divided the roving in half lengthwise, spun up the first half, then divided the remaining half again lengthwise. After I spun up half of that, I divided the remaining fiber in half once more. The last two strips were pretty thin, so I didn't split it further.

Sometimes when I spin, there are bits of fluff which cause nepps in the singles. Not so with this roving! I had absolutely no waste whatsoever! And it had divided pretty darn equally, so that I only had a couple of yards left on the original cop. I simply Andean plied it and added it to the ply ball.

As you can see in the photo above, the result is a lovely, shimmering ball of pliable goodness. I've been plying it together since my return home, admiring how the colors shift and meld along the singles. Though I thought I'd use this for socks, I may knit up a shawl instead, especially as I expect to get a lot of sport-weight yardage.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Most Expensive Graduation Ever!

My niece graduates from high school, and everyone in the family is heading over to celebrate.

This is my first trip away as a dog owner, and my goodness, it costs a lot to board a dog! The cost of the week for her to run around and lose what manners she has is half the price of my plane fare. O.o

She'll have tons of fun, though, and so will I. I've packed some spinning, a pair of socks to knit, and my shawl-in-progress. It took me longer to choose projects than to choose my clothes.

For spinning, I'm going to start a fractal spinning project using my Bosworth Moosie and a gorgeous braid of Greenwood Fiberworks BFL and Silk in "Skyfall."

The socks I'm finishing are my second pair of my own Aqueduct Socks pattern, which I've picked up and set down a million times as I'm not knitting them two-at-a-time Magic Loop, but singly on DPNs. This was to enable me to write out clear DPN instructions for the pattern, and also to try out my new Knitter's Pride Cubics needles. Really comfy, and I've always liked square needles as they're easier on my hands. And, for the price, the set was a decent deal.

And then today, I found a couple of 9-inch circular Kollage Square needles at Tuesday Morning. I've never used these, but Veronica bought one when we took our epic road trip to Yarnmarket a couple years back, and she's still using hers (which I believe are Hiya-Hiya). Plus, at half-off, it seemed like an opportune moment to scoop up the sizes 2 and 3 that were left and take them on holiday. Circs are always easier to deal with on a plane, right? :)

My shawl is growing right along. :) I'm going to post this, then finish winding the skein for the border lace. I'm not at that yet, but I will be after flying umpteen million miles tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Knit, Frog, Knit! Ace!

Ribbit!

I've been working on all the designery things lately. Knitting samples, ripping them out, poring over stitch patterns, doodling on graph paper....

And playing a lot of solitaire on my phone. O.o

The nice thing about solitaire is its simplicity. After I uninstalled Candy Crush, I wanted something easy to play while my mind's inner gears dealt with the math-side of knitting. Solitaire totally fits the bill as your visual brain bits identify the cards, your physical brain bits manipulate the movements, and your satisfaction brain bits ka-ching every time you make a successful play.

Meanwhile, your knitty brain bits percolate. What if I added cables? What if I did this stitch totally differently than it appears? What the heck do these instructions mean, slip 2 stitches then slip them back; why not leave them alone? Why?

One of the patterns I'm working on is for Kate's fiber company, A Hundred Ravens. We'd worked on it together, brainstorming in fits and starts, before she moved back to Massachusetts. Now that a couple of years have passed (cough, cough), and I feel a bit better, I decided to tackle our shawl once again.

It's truly a thing of simple beauty. Here's an old photo of my Wee P'shawl test knit because I love how it turned out in its tiny mock-up. So cute!

Am also working on socks, naturally. :) I love this sort of work, mindless and mindful. Solitary. Solitaire.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

2014 Maryland Sheep and Wool

The weather was glorious for this year's Sheep and Wool festival! Bright, mostly sunny, and relatively low humidity. Whee! If only MDSW had this weather every year. :)

I entered three handspun skeins, and my sample pair of Aqueduct Socks this year, and the socks and one of my skeins won ribbons!

This is a little over 2 ounces of buttery fiber from Kid Ewe Knot in Pennsylvania. Veronica gave the roving to me for Christmas, and I've loved every minute of spinning it. I hadn't yet finished the remainder when I needed to choose what to enter, so the rest is waiting to be joined with this winning section.

Lovely, lovely stuff. Highly recommend the fiber, if you can get your hands on some!

And then, Aqueduct Socks! Squee! I almost didn't enter these as I had made a mistake on one row of the eye of partridge heel, but grabbed them from the table on the way out the door anyway. And lookee! Second Place! The judges comments made me happy, as they commented specifically on how nice the stitch pattern is. Yay!

Since my Aqueduct Socks won second place in the Maryland Sheep and Wool commercial yarn sock category, I’ve put the discount code MDSW2014 on them for 50% off through May 10th. Click through the link on the sidebar to get straight to the pattern store.

My knitting sister Catherine and I had a great time, browsing all the vendors, and then snacking on some funnel cake. I bought a bunch of fiber, including my very first "unprocessed" bits from Feederbrook Farm so I can try my hand at totally preparing wool by myself. Gulp! Good thing the weather's nice. I am totally washing and rinsing it outside.

Anyone else go to MDSW? Share thoughts on your favorite fiber festival!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Free Pattern: Dunharrow Socks


This isn't a new pattern; it's been available for free on my blog for a couple of years. I just finally sat down and plunked it into a .pdf so I could upload it to Ravelry.


If you already have the pattern from my blog, or especially if you don't, please head over to my Ravelry shop and download a copy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Free Pattern: Opera Socks Available!

Finally sat down and put the directions and chart for my Opera Socks into a .pdf and uploaded it to Ravelry. Yay!


Download Opera Socks now! The pattern is free! No cost! Freeeeee!

I really love how the pattern swirls around. I might need to knit a pair in a nice blue, to look like waves. I probably wouldn't knit this is a super variegated yarn, as the pattern would get lost. The Crystal Palace Yarn's Panda Cotton Print in the photo (colorway Red Cinnamon, though it's more pink/orange) has plenty of interest without taking away from the swirls. In a plain or kettle-dyed color, the pattern itself will pop even more.

Do let me know if you find any errors. Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Life, Old Blog

I've moved most of my personal posts off this blog and onto a different one. I'm going to use this blog to hold my knitting and designing posts, for the most part.

Always moving ahead, we are!

For behold! I've managed to figure out the arcane ways of uploading .pdf format patterns to Ravelry, and will be selling my designs thereat!

Now to figure out how to get the buttons and things from Ravelry onto my blog. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hello, Kitty

This is the story of a dog without a name. Someone noticed her tied to a box in her yard, with a few scraps of dried-out bread nearby. She asked the owner if she could have the dog, and was told yes.

She went into a foster home, where they named her "Angel," but she didn't answer to that name, or anything else. She picked up enough weight in one week there to cover her ribs, though, and she started perking up.

Meanwhile, in Hampden Place, I followed all the adoptable dogs Donna posted on her Facebook page. Some were soooo cute! And others just seemed like too much effort if I wanted an actual dog. Working long hours and such, I needed to ensure any dog I got would be low maintenance and low energy. Kinda like me. :D

Did I really want a dog? Did I? I waffled for a bit, but then decided that adopting a rescue would be good for me, as well as for the dog. I am still depressed, and I need something to lift me out of myself, to force me to wake up on time and do things on a schedule. Cats are pretty time-agnostic. But a dog... a dog needs a human to care for it. Dogs are so dependent upon us! The more I thought about it, the more I realized a dog would help me more than therapy or perhaps even medication. All I need was the right dog.

And then, I met her. Donna told me if I wanted a dog to look at several before making a choice, but my heart melted completely for this poor, neglected scrap. She's a year-old (approximately) and has already had a litter of puppies. Where her pups went, who can say? I wouldn't be surprised if they died due to their mom's malnutrition.

Despite the rough life she led, she's a very sweet girl. Since she wasn't answering to Angel, I chirruped at her, "Kitty!" and she turned her head to look at me. Thus, I have a dog named Kitty, which confused the little boy down the street, and draws smiles from adults who think I'm crazy.

Well, I am. I've already spent about a thousand dollars on her gear and goods. She's gone from nothing but bread to Dog Chow to now the most expensive dog food in the world. :D She's got a lovely crate in which to repose (though she prefers the leather rug in the front room). She's started wagging her tail when she sees me, falling over herself to lick my hands and legs, little doggie kisses of gratitude for buying her kibbles, toys (that she doesn't know what to do with yet), obedience lessons, and soon, a spay!

The cats at Hampden Place are confused by the new arrival, who at 33 pounds, is three times as large as they are. But Kitty is patient and shy, and she lets them sniff her and run away. And she's learned that Melody is not to be approached lightly as she will swipe anything she's unsure of with the flying fickle paw of fate.

The nice thing about Kitty is how mellow she is, despite being so abused. She sleeps quite a bit (other than her first night, when she paced frantically; and then there was that run three blocks away to the Avenue while I ran desperately after her clutching her leash). A downside is she's not interested in learning how to sit or pay attention to me, but advice from the dog-lovers I know indicates she just needs time to realize she's safe with me, and no one will hit her, or starve her, or leave her tied to a box for days.

I already love her so much, and am so thankful she's kept me thinking about what she needs, pulling me more out of the nothingness which enveloped me for so long. We're rescuing each other, and I like that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

In Which Only Happy Things Exist

My most recent bestest creation and third place finisher at the 2013 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! Eeee! Most exciting revelation: I know how to spin, and am quite good at it. :)
Observe the fine thread. The gloss of silk and the rich rust color of the fiber. I used a drop spindle for this, which is unusual for me as I'd had such trouble with that method of spinning until this year.

Which makes it sound as though I've been spinning forever, but I didn't start until last April or so, borrowing Molly's wheel and then going to The Mannings to pick out one for my very own. Lenny, as he's known, is very dependable and cute, spending most of his time in the living room with me, the cats, and the fibers.

But earlier this year, I decided to attend the Madrona Fiber Festival in Tacoma, combining my love of fiber with a much-needed visit home to see Candyce. There, I learned how to use a drop spindle from the lovely women in the Spindlewood booth, and left the festival with two of their spindles and a considerable quantity of various wools.
I also got to semi-Kinnear the Yarn Harlot. It's not a true Kinnear, as I had to ask her to stand still for a moment so I could get the shot. She's very mobile!

This post is sort of the Memento of my last year, since it starts with my recent spinning achievement and works its way backwards in time. :)

I've done some knitting too, but this past 12-month is really marked by my shift to spinning. I'd always loved watching people spin, and it was so relaxing to let my mind drift while I turned little bits of fluff into something completely different.


And my year isn't all about knitting and or spinning, either. While not a luminary in the game world, I've done a couple of presentations that seemed to be well-received. And while I haven't been in the public eye much while our game was unannounced, I was pleased to be invited by an actual game luminary, Richard Dansky, to come speak at the East Coast Game Conference last month.

I like public speaking, especially on topics I enjoy. My presentation was about creating memorable NPCs in games, and folks seemed to like it, which was nice. I found I missed talking to other people about working in the games industry, people who love games and want to work on them, or learn more about working on them.

Good things happened to me in the past year, and that's been very pleasant.





Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not dead. Not yet, anyway. :)

I'm not sure why I stopped posting, but I'll blame games, spinning, knitting, and illness for my absence.

And when I have more time, I will fully explain all my obsessions!

Honest!

Especially spinning. :) It's my latest hotness. I lubs it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Companionable Mitts


Lazing away, and so glad that these mitts are done (I finished them on the plane returning from my holiday in Seattle) as the temperature has dropped significantly. It'll be in the 30s this week, after such balmy 50s - 40s since November.

Rose Tyler mitts, of which I've knit three pairs, are gorgeous, and these purple ones are for me. They're in Kate's new dk weight yarn, a soft and squishy single-ply superwash merino. It reminds me a lot of Malabrigo in its luxurious feel. Mmmmmm!

But why would I need to make 3 pairs...?

The first pair was for Christina, to whom I'd lent all my Dr. Who DVDs last year. She admired Rose as the Companion, and so I knit a pair for her in a lovely Louet Riverstone, in the aptly named colorway Rose.

In a lovely quirk of fate, I ended up being Christina's Secret Santa at the office, so I left her little things every Monday in December, finally ending up with the packet containing scented handmade soap, and these mitts. She wore them around the office all day, and was completely thrilled. Yay!

The second pair is in Miss Babs Yummy Sport, and is the exact weight called for in the pattern. I started them, thinking I'd keep them for myself. Then Kate accepted a job at 38 Studios, hired away from us by my nemesis, Mr. Moorgard. :(

I've always told Kate that I'd never knit anything for her as she's a great knitter herself. As I knit away on this pair of mitts, Kate complimented their color (which is a lovely rusty punkin), and suddenly, they became in my mind Kate's mitts. And so, I gave them to her for Christmas. They're perfect for her, and she wore them on her vacation to Scotland. I'd suggested that she take pics of the mitts at various locations during the trip, like folks do with gnomes and such, and she did. :) Her album's on Facebook, but for some reason, every time I try to link to a thing today, Blogger's interface messes it up, so no links for you!

But trust me, her mitts had a great time. :)

Later today, I'll do my 2012 tarot reading. I thought about it last night, but was caught up in downloading books from gutenberg.org to my new Kindle, gifted to me by my little cherubs. I only wish I'd gotten one sooner; it's fabulous. I've already finished 4 books on it (Pride and Prejudice; The Secret Garden; Heaven to Betsy, and Emily of Deep Valley), and am nearly done with A Little Princess. Why, yes, I do love to re-read old favorites. :)

I also copied in a knitting pattern .pdf, to see how it would work, and it looks pretty decent. Clearly, this is no iPad, but at the least I can carry around various patterns with me to consult with as I knit. Only 20 years to appreciate technology are left to me (to quote Donna), and I hope to make the most of them.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Six Cats

I'm going to get out my camera sometime this weekend to document them. Four cats currently live in my basement, while Mittens and Melody roam around upstairs.

The basement cats belong to Anna, my new roommate. She and I work together, she knits (yay!), and we're both crazy cat ladies. Although, Anna is twice the cat lady I am, given she has twice the cats.

Melody is not very pleased with the new inhabitants. Mittens goes up to the basement door to converse with them, but when we've opened the door to allow co-mingling, he is less forthcoming. Melody growls at them under her breath. She's apparently scarred after living with Scooter, who tormented her the entire time Dan and I lived together. =\

In any case, everyone will have to get along because this arrangement allows Anna and I to both save money, and maybe even turn on the heat once in a while. The price of my heating oil is more than a dollar higher per gallon than it was last winter, when it cost around $1,000 to heat the house. Aiee!

You can see why it's good that Anna can knit. She will want to cover herself with blankets, hats, and gloves to keep from freezing. Indeed, she may move into the basement herself as it is generally the warmest room in the house in winter.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ohai, Blog :)

Put on your MovieDude voice! In a world filled with distractions, her blog went un-updated for nearly four months....

What have I done? Where did the time go?

As shown in image one, I saw a buncha sheep. Kate, Catherine and I drove up to Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool festival. It was a blast! Kate worked both days in Miss Babs' booth, while Catherine and I prowled around separately, fondling yarn and ogling sheep, goats, and alpacas. I ate fabled artichokes, and brought back some maple sugar cotton candy for Veronica (and it was pretty tasty; she shared it at knitting night before becoming slightly ill from having so much... hehehe).

Also in the past three months, the sock pattern I designed for Kate's yarn club went out. It's called Kaguya-hime, and was part of her World Folktales Yarn Club shipment for September. I also wrote the re-telling of the story, and made some little Japanese paper bookmarks to go with the pattern. The pattern will be available for non-Club members in December! Yay!

What I liked about this sock pattern is that it was easy to memorize and customize. I also used a band heel for it, which worked out really well as it's a simple style that's perfect for two-at-a-time Magic Loop socks. At first, I used info on it that I found on the internet, but after doing one pair of socks following the dimensions on those other instructions, I realized that I didn't particularly like how the heel turned out (even though those socks turned out well), so I changed it up to the version in with my pattern.

I also designed another sock pattern as part of Ravelry's Sock Knitters Anonymous June challenge, but haven't written up the pattern for that as yet. My August socks were knit in a cool cotton blend yarn that Donna gave me for my birthday, so I need to do another pair in actual wool to see how well it works. It's an all-over lace pattern derived from the same Japanese stitch pattern book from which I got the Kaguya-hime stitch. Opera Socks (the cotton socks) will be written up and released later as well. Squee!

And, also for Kate, I designed a shawl for a kit she wants to put together for her Etsy shop. It's called Molly's P'shawl, and the first test knit of it came out rather nicely. I made a half-sized version and gave it to Kate's daughter Lili. Super cute, if I do say so myself, and easy to knit, with a gorgeous lace edging. I'll knit a full-sized one later on, but the first p'shawlette, less than 50 grams, took no more than a couple of days to work up. It would have been done more quickly had I actually spent more time knitting.

For lo! The true reason this blog has languished isn't because of knitting and designing patterns, but the fault of Mass Effect, both 1 and 2. O.o I've done three playthroughs as FemShep, and now have MaleShep nearing the end of ME2, after importing him from ME1.

Dude. I've spent hours at this game (well, both), and I love it! And also, I am tickled to death to learn that Chris (my c-worker) wrote Ashley Williams and Thane Krios, as well as all the planet descriptions for the first two games.

I found out the latter fact when I mentioned how writing nearly 400 Operatives descriptions for The Agency, plus corporate backgrounds (which included bios of all their important people) gave me a case of hating biographies, and that I felt sorry for the person who wrote those planet descriptions. Hehehe!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Good Little Witch

Kevin and Candyce wanted to adopt a baby girl. They filled out forms, they had inspections, they childproofed the house. And not too long ago, they got the call that a beautiful little newborn girl was potentially their forever child.

Her name's Sabrina. In my excitement when Candyce called to tell me, all I could remember was that the name they were planning to use started with S and was a famous fictional witch. :D I kept saying, "Samantha?" Hahaha! :)

I'm so excited for them!

Also so sad because by the time I can get out to meet her in person, Sabrina will likely be at the "I'm afraid of strangers" stage and so I won't get to cuddle her and kiss the top of her head. But we shall see!

Meanwhile, I knit a little dress for her. Other little tiny clothes to follow. Very exciting time and I can't believe how wonderful this is for my bestest friend and my Other Husband!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Opera

There's a Ravelry group called Sock Knitters Anonymous, and each month, they feature a sock designer and particular technique. While I've been a member of the group for a while, June marks my first actual participation. It just sort of worked out that every time they had a theme, I'd already done something similar, or didn't want to knit any of that designer's patterns, or whatever.

June, however, brought a Design Your Own category, and so I did. :) While I initially intended to use a different stitch pattern entirely, I found that I didn't really like how it looked. I did, however, love how this particular stitch knit up. It looks so random on paper, but as you can see in the photo above, there's a lovely, soothing repetitive swirl across it. I love it!

My plan is to write up the pattern and put it up on Ravelry. I think I've found my new passion. Not just knitting socks, but designing them. Yay!

I spent some time this weekend with Mass Effect 2. After having a difficult time with one fight sequence (jumping over concealment objects is really a pain in the ass), I tossed aside the game aside in favor of Civilization Revolution. :) This morning at work, I was telling Anna how I hated the fight mechanics when Chris, who was one of ME2's writers, came in.

He suggested I use the easy/casual setting. :D It had never occurred to me. Hahaha! In any case, I got home from work and did just that, and have now gotten through another objective.

It pays to work with smart people. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Socks for Me :)

Meet Rainbow Over Lahaina, a feather and fan sock pattern. It feels like forever since I knit a pair of socks for me, which isn't really true, but there you go. I used the yarn that Kate dyed for the first installment of her sock yarn club, World Folk Tales.

I have finished a single sock in the pattern that I'm writing for her to send out in a later shipment. It's been an interesting process. When I started writing the pattern, most of my yarn stash is variegated, so the pattern doesn't show up as much. After finishing a pair of long-suffering cable socks, I decided to use what was left to knit up a single, large-size sock to photograph for the pattern.

It turned out rather nicely, and enabled me to see where I wanted to make adjustments to the final pattern instructions. I spent some time this weekend writing down the changes I've made, including an adjustment to the heel I'm using: the band heel.

This is an old-fashioned heel style, also known as the German heel. It's really simple to do, but the end result on my first attempts was a shallow heel cup and that worried me. I usually wear my socks with clogs anyway, so having the pattern come almost all the way to the floor is okay, but it can be an issue if one wears socks with enclosed shoes. To test a theory, I knit it a slighly different way on the Rainbow Over Lahaina socks and it was perfect! Yay! So that's the version that's going into the pattern.

Now I just need to write the story to go along with my pattern, and to make the little bookmarkers that Kate will include with the shipment when it goes out. Very exciting!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever!

Veronica and I got up early. That's not so unusual, except that it's Saturday. Our goal: strawberries!

As you might guess from the photo, we were successful. We drove up to Brown's Orchards and picked our own. It's been close to 30 years since I last picked strawberries, though I'm not sure why. We were pretty early, but there were already quite a few people in line to pay for what they'd gathered, or out in the fields.

I wish I'd brought my camera. When we finished picking, Veronica and I sat in the sun beside peach trees laden with tiny, fuzzy fruit. The skies were clear, and the hills spread out before us, farmland tucked up between them. The day was absolutely perfect for being outside and doing something fun with a friend!

After an exciting ride in the field van, we paid for our berries (and learned that there were three women named Tracy there today; I so rarely ever encounter any others), then headed to the Brown's store to get some lunch before heading home.

My goal is to make a little bit of strawberry freezer jam with some of my berries. I cleaned up half of them, froze those on sheet pans, and will cook them down later. And, of course, I had to have some immediately, too! Following Veronica's suggestion, I made a shortcake of one of my favorite Brown's cookies, whipped some cream, and voila! Dessert!

I took a nap after eating it. :) What a happy day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Being an Owl

Some friends of mine are going through a rough patch. I don't know what I should do to help them, or if I should do anything more than listen, sympathize, offer hugs.

My reading came out sideways! Well... okay, the photo is sideways and I don't know how to fix that. Anyway...

I like that the outcome card is Page of Pentacles. She's grounded, yet surrounded by the lightness that grows from the pearl in her hand. And, of course, I love the owl perched nearby. This is clearly me. :)

This is a new deck for me, the Shadowscapes deck. The imagery is gorgeous, and the book that came with it is a lyrical joy to read. I bought this when Candyce and I went to the East West Bookstore in Seattle.

How I miss living there. I miss the city, my friends there, the weather... and yet, I love the East Coast, too.

In any event, I am a rock. And an Owl. My purpose is to be there for my friends, to hold up a light for them when they're feeling the need to talk about their troubles, to hold them when they cry, to hoot softly and nibble their ears.

Well. Most of that stuff anyway. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Going Visiting :)

I'm going on a good, old-fashioned one-week holiday! Yay!

My destination: Chez Candyce and Kevin, where I will get to snuggle up in "my room," fold laundry, and relax a bit while finishing Candyce's socks.

They are coming along gorgeously. Jeannie graciously helped me at knitting night last night, advising me on different ways I could do the heel so that it comes out evenly (unlike the heels on the first pair I made). I'll work on that this weekend so that when I'm in Seattle, all I'll need to do is finish off the foot to fit Candyce perfectly.

No photos yet, as I want her to see it in person in all its glory first :)

The loudest birds on the street visit the church across from me. They arrive around 5AM and stay there till 6:30AM. I could sleep in my back bedroom instead of the front one, but I generaly like listening to street sounds. I mean, why live in the city if the noise bothers you, no?

My back still bothers me and it pisses me off. I'm on more ibuprofen than I've ever taken for such a long time. The doctor is easing my mind on that by running a blood test to make sure I haven't overdosed on midichlorians or something. And I'm on Skelaxin (aka, Skeletor), which does not make me drowsy.

Listen to how quiet it is now. Only cute little songbirds are still outside my window. Every so often, a car goes whooshing past. I can hear a large truck rumbling a couple of blocks or so away (maybe the fire trucks getting ready to roll or something).

Friday, April 08, 2011

You Spin Me Right Around!

That's the song the little birdies chirped as they circled my head the other day when I hit the ground ass-first.

It was not a graceful vision.

But, I am now on new muscle relaxants that purported do not make one drowsy, or so my doctor says the pharmaceutical rep told her. I'm not sure about the drowsy stuff, but it does make my head spin a little about an hour after I take it. That's its main side effect, apparently.

Possibly due to being unable to think coherently, between dizzy and a painful place, I had a lot of trouble knitting since landing on my butt. I hope this clears up as I need to make more progress on Candyce's socks. That way, I can finish them up and give them to her when I go out there to visit in a couple of weeks.

Yay for visiting! Boo for dizzy-making drugs!

I also started, ripped, started, ripped, started, ripped and started a new pattern called Not a Drop. It requires a lot of concentration because it's difficult to repair any mistakes in a prior row, given that it's reversible. But I love how it looks, so simple and elegant, and this yarn (an Ella Race Lace Merino that Kate bought for me last year) really looks gorgeous in it.

I hope my mind clears up some. I hate being woozy and wobbly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Liberation

Cookie A.'s socks are gorgeous things, created from eye-popping charts. Well, I am failing in my first O.W.L. attempt for the Ravelry Harry Potter group as I've decided not to finish my Cookie A. Stricken sock.

At least, not yet. I bought the pattern last year and it is one that I want to do, but the deadline is looming and I've made mistakes in the cables that I just don't like. If I'm going to do these socks, I want to do them right and that means taking my time with them.

Instead of killing myself to get them done and then hating them every time I wear them, I decided to set them aside to do a bit of knitting I really want to do. I'm making Candyce's Tree of Life socks in absolutely scrummy purple Miss Babs, as well as a light purple Rock Creek Yarn that I picked up yesterday at the Homespun Yarn Party.

You can't imagine how wonderful it feels to not be stuck with Stricken right now. :) I knew I was not going to finish them when it took me an hour to carefully color-code the chart and make sure I had indicated which symbol did what to get the heels done, then realized I'd color-coded the wrong rows. Le sigh!

And so, I slipped Stricken onto dpns to use those needles on Candyce's sock. It'll be fun to do this pattern for her!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Snow

It's a light little dusting on the sidewalks and street. It's cold enough out there for more snow, but we are told it will change to rain.

A good thing, too, as several of us are making a road trip to Homespun Yarn Party at Savage Mill. I don't need more yarn (she keeps saying this), but I love road trips with fellow yarnies!

Kate's been dyeing yarn lately, and it's so cool to see how she's been progressing. She's got an Etsy shop set up now, A Hundred Ravens, so I told her she ought to come to the Yarn Party to see her competition :D

Weekend started off very nicely! I'd gone over to Christina's and we had sushi while watching Dr. Who. It's been a long week, though, so I dragged myself home after a couple of episodes. She's been introduced to the rebooted Dr. Who now, so I suspect she will be borrowing all my DVDs soon :D

Somehow while I slept, I did something to my shoulder, and it hurts to raise my arm or turn certain ways. Yesterday it hurt so bad that I ended up taking a muscle relaxant in the afternoon. It's worn off now, but I can't take another until after our drive to and from Savage, as it wipes me completely out. And I would rather be wiped out by fondling precious handpainted, handspun yarns than by drugs today!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tree of Life

Not bad for a weekend's work. Rearranged all the stitches to set up the heels. They're turning out nicely, although I'll make some changes for the next pair of these. I didn't like working the tree portion across the break between the needles. It felt sloppy, and the stitch definition definitely suffered a bit. I plan to do the rearranging of the stitches much earlier so that I can see the tree coming to life as I go.

I might overstitch a little owl shape into one of the branches. Maybe :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Missing

Last week, during all the snow and ice, some asshole hit Jane Grey, crumpled up her left front door and didn't leave a note. It took a couple of days for me to get a cop over (since it wasn't life-threatening) to write up a report. She will need $1,500 in repairs, and I will need to pay just the deductible... but still, she will be in the shop for a week.

The only amusing thing about Jane's accident is when Officer Davis and I were saying our farewells, Melody tried to make a dash out the front door. I pulled the storm door closed and it locked behind me. Fortunately, Officer Davis knows how to kick in a door (she was so funny, saying excitedly, "I never get to do this!"), and I was soon back indoors where it is warmer than 20 degrees.

On Sunday, we went to Sweitzer's for Heather's un-Superbowl party. It also happened to be Kristy's birthday, and I had planned to make cupcakes to take. Alas, thinking about baking wasn't enough to conjure up the eggs that would be necessary for anything!

And so, I went to Icedgems in Reisterstown and bought a dozen little beauties to take with me. The frosting is slightly sweeter than even I prefer, but they are very tasty!

It wasn't until Monday night that I realized my purple shopping bag was gone. Before the road trip, I tossed in some Alpaca Silk, my entrelac sock project, and my new copy of Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders, a couple of extra 40" cable circulars. I honestly don't remember taking it into the shop. We'd stopped at Brown's on the way and I had put my cookies and apple cider into my shopping bag, and it was cold enough to leave them in the car while we knit.

Nevertheless, although the cookies and cider are in the house, the purple bag and its contents are not. I went through every closet, cabinet, looked under beds and tables. That bag is gone.

This morning, I need my crochet hook which is mixed in with all my DPNs. Some of them I inherited from my mom, most of them are ones that I procured in the past couple of years, including all of my favorite Darn Pretty needles. The entire container is missing, and I remember now that I had wanted to take it with me in case I finished all of my knitting projects, or some such nonsense.

The original loss was under $100, so it was upsetting, but mostly I'm annoyed that I couldn't find the stupid bag. With all these missing DPNs into the mix, I'm probably $200+ in disappeared stuff. :\

I'm usually so methodical about where I set things down because I know I can be scattery. Yet again, no little red container of DPNs in any of its usual spots.

Hopefully, I did actually take it into Sweitzer's and left it there. I'm waiting to hear back from Heather to see if she's found it. If not, then I add this to my litany of woe from the past week.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Free Pattern: Dunharrow Socks

– simple socks by Owlchick.

This is the pattern for a pair of socks I knit last year and submitted to Cherry Tree Hill for a sock contest. They didn't win, but this is the only knitting pattern I've ever written up before, so I wanted to post it. :)

The Dimholt Road leads from Dunharrow to the Paths of the Dead...

Peter Jackson's Return of the King happened to be TV the night I received my skein of Middle Earth yarn, and I noticed that the colors in this skein were very similar to the scenes near the Rohirrim’s encampment. These socks feature a simple four-stitch repeat over eight rows that's a journey from cuff toward the toe.

Easy to memorize, quick to knit, and with a pebbly diagonal texture that's reminiscent of an ancient road.

Gauge = 8 stitches per inch in stockinette
Yarn = Cherry Tree Hill Fingerpaints Supersock Self Stripes (shown in 1001 - Middle Earth), 420 yards
Needles = Sample was knit using Kollage square 40 inch circulars in US size 3, which works up for me in an equivalent of US Size 2, 2.75 mm. I knit two-at-a-time Magic Loop, but the pattern is easily knit on DPNs, two circulars, or one-at-a-time Magic Loop.
Size = Sample is Women's US 8.5. Sizes are easily adjusted by adding or removing 4-stitches as needed.

Stitch Pattern:
Round 1 – K2, P2
Round 2 – K2, P2
Round 3 – P1, K2, P1
Round 4 – P1, K2, P1
Round 5 – P2, K2
Round 6 – P2, K2
Round 7 – K1, P2, K1
Round 8 – K1, P2, K1

Note – You can easily mirror the diagonals across the socks if you prefer by reversing the rows in the pattern, creating a left and a right sock. The sample pair is knit in one direction of diagonal so that I can wear each sock on either foot.

Leg:
Cast on 64 stitches using your favorite cast-on method to provide a stretchy edging. I prefer a knit-on cast-on method as it leaves me with very little excess tail... because I always mess up my longtail cast on with too much yarn. =)

Join to knit in the round, making sure not to twist the stitches. Mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker, if desired. I usually leave the cast-on tail dangling as my marker.

K2, P2 ribbing for 1 inch, then start Dunharrow's diagonal rib pattern.

Work rounds 1 – 8 eight times, or to your desired length. Eight repeats gave me a 6-inch leg before beginning the heel. I have enough leftover yarn upon completing the socks to have done another two repeats of the pattern.
Make a note of which round you stop with if you do not do the complete eight rounds of the pattern, as you'll continue from that point after you create the heel.

Heel:
The heel is knit over half the total number of stitches, or 32 stitches.
Round 1 (Right side row) - +Slip 1, K1+ Repeat + - +, ending with K1
Round 2 (wrong side row) – Slip 1, purl across
Round 3 (RS) – Slip 1, +K1, Slip 1+ Repeat + - +, ending with K2
Round 4 (wrong side row) – Slip 1, purl across (fixed error 06/2011)

Repeat these four rounds until the heel is at least 2-1/4 inches in length. As I have a high instep, I generally knit until 2-1/2 inches.

Turning the heel:
Start the heel turn on a right side round.
Round 1 – Slip 1, K18k, SSK, K1, turn
Round 2 – Slip 1, P7, P2tog, P1, turn
Round 3 – Slip 1, K to within 1 stitch of the gap (you'll notice the gap on the prior row), SSK using one stitch from either side of that gap, K1, turn
Round 4 – Slip 1, P to within 1 stitch of the gap on the prior row, P2tog using one stitch from either side of that gap, P1, turn

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 until you've gone back and forth across all the stitches, reducing to 20 stitches total on the needle holding your heel stitches.
End on a right side row.

Gusset:
Pick up stitches along the slipped stitch edges of the heel flap toward the instep stitches. The number of stitches you pick up will depend upon how long your heel flap is. I picked up 17 stitches total on the sample sock, but on some socks have picked up as many as 21 stitches. When you've picked up stitches along the heel edge, you will be back at the instep needle. Knit across the 32 stitches on that needle in Dunharrow's diagonal stitch pattern.

If you had stopped on any round other than the 8th round prior to starting the heel, you will continue the pattern from wherever you'd left off. Once you've knit across the 32-stitches of the instep in pattern, pick up the same number of stitches along this side of the heel flap as you had down the first side of the heel flap (anywhere from 17 – 21 stitches).

Now that you've got a circle of stitches again, prepare for the gusset decreases. These decreases will take you back down to the original 64 stitches cast on. Consider these rounds as beginning in the middle of the heel, since that will easily divide the decreases equally on both sides of the heel.

Gusset decrease:
Round 1 – Knit to the last three stitches before the instep. K2tog, K1. Knit in pattern across the instep. K1, SSK, K to end of round
Round 2 – Knit all stitches along the heel and gusset. Knit in pattern across the instep.

Repeat these two rounds until you have decreased back down to 32 stitches on the heel; you will keep 32 stitches on the instep throughout this process.

Foot:
Knit in pattern across the instep. Knit across the bottom of the foot. Keep knitting until you are 1-3/4 to 2-inches from the tip of your toe. Generally, I've found that the leg portion of the sock is roughly the same length as the foot portion of my socks for a US women's size 8.5. You'll want to measure your length to fit your own foot.

Toe Decreases:
Knitting in Magic Loop, I usually start my decreases at the beginning of the instep. Using DPNs, I tend to start at the end of the row on the stockinette/foot side. The main thing is that the decreases are equal on both sides so that you end up with the same number of stitches for grafting.

Round 1: At start of instep needle, K1, SSK. Three stitches before the end of the instep needle, K2tog, K1. On foot stitches needle, K1, SSK. Three stitches before the end of the foot stitches needle, K2tog, K1
Round 2: Knit all stitches
Repeat rounds 1 and 2. For a more rounded toe, repeat only round 1 for the last three rounds to hit the final stitch count.

When there are 8 stitches left on both the instep and the foot stitches needles, graft the toes using the Kitchener stitch.

Weave in your ends as you re-watch The Lord of the Rings.