Friday, February 24, 2012

Off the hook.

My first crochet project. At least it's not a potholder.

I'm completely brain-fried from school tonight (6 hours of sleep since Tuesday. If I'm being generous.), so I'm just going to leave this here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You want me to put that hook where, now?

About two months ago, two fiber-crafting groups sprung up in the area less than 3 miles from my apartment.

I've never really been a social knitter, mainly because the majority of the crafty groups in the area tend to meet a ways outside my travel radius. (For those just tuning in, I usually walk or cycle my way across Western New York, though the latter tends to happen less when snow is falling.) So meetings taking place over in Amherst, Cheektavegas, or any of the Southtowns are next to impossible to get to without a ride, as public transportation in Buffalo is best classified as a cruel joke. Finding out that two had formed within easy walking distance was something of a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

The group that meets Wednesday nights is knitting-centered, though not knitting-exclusive. There are apparently 60 of us on the roster, though the number that show up per meeting is usually closer to 15. We spend about two hours picking away at our projects, talking, eating, and crowd-sourcing solutions to any fibery problem that comes up. It's somewhat surreal to be surrounded by at least a dozen other people doing the same thing you are when you're used to a more solitary craft life. 

The group that meets Thursday nights is crochet-centered. 

Up until this week, the only things I've ever used crochet to make were borders on knit afghans and chains for provisional cast-ons, with the random "stitch two things together without sewing" thing thrown in about once every two years. But since I didn't want to be That Lady Who Always Knits at Crochet Night, I decided that should probably change. 

I'm now working on my very first fully crocheted project. Because it's practically a rule somewhere in the fiber universe, my first item is a very long rectangle--which is to say, a scarf. I hope.
260 yards of sport-to-DK goodness.

I'm using my own handspun, which may or may not be a good idea. I'd originally started by using a pattern from The Happy Hooker, but after realizing it consisted mainly of, "make a really long chain and do a couple rows of double crochet," I decided I could probably improvise a little.

I chained about 215 stitches, did the most excruciatingly long row of single crochet ever (Hint. Marled yarn? Makes it really hard to see what's considered part of the stitch and what's not.), and am now working my way through in half-double crochet.  I'd started working in double crochet as the book suggested, but the fabric it produced was way too open for my taste. I learned how to do both double and half-double from Left Hand Crochet on Youtube. I'd definitely recommend the videos to other lefties out there, especially given the trouble I've had trying to figure things out from right-handed book illustrations sometimes.

I'm not sure how long it will take to finish, but I'm definitely enjoying the experience. Then again, anything that distracts me when I should be studying for exams is almost always enjoyable.

Monday, February 6, 2012

déjà vu?

I've noticed I have this strange tendency to cyclically fixate on colors and/or color schemes. Particularly when I'm buying yarn or fiber.

Item A:

Into the Whirled 64s Merino wool top in Spring Bloom, 4.4 oz.

Item B:

Southern Cross Fibre Club in Spring Meadow, 110 g, Texel wool
Are we perhaps seeing some similarities here? I picked up the ITW Merino around the 27th of January. The SCF? Touched base early this afternoon.

Now, to be fair, both bumps of fiber fall firmly into the realm of "Colors Jen enjoys on a regular basis." But I've found this happening with colors that aren't in my standard repertoire: 

Item C:

Spunky Eclectic Spunky Club, Tossed Salad. 3 oz, Merino/soysilk blend.
Fat Cat Knits superwash Merino top, Gung Ho. 4 oz.
(re: not in my typical repertoire-- I'm talking about the orange notes, mainly, since bright yellow-green is most certainly one of my usual suspects.)

Tossed Salad was November 2011's Spunky Club offering. I liked it so much I picked up more in early January.  Gung Ho? Was picked up at the end of December.

I'm not entirely sure why I do this, but it's always amusing (and occasionally frustrating) to note when I sort my stash page on Ravelry chronologically.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shawl-tastic. Also, weather.

Shawl number 1 of my 12 Shawls in 2012 project is officially complete. :D



Picture 38

As I said in my last post, I wrapped this project up around the 20th, but didn't get around to taking proper photos until this week. I'm not terribly fond of pictures of myself, so I usually have to work myself up to taking modeled shots. Thankfully, my lilac armchair is more than up to the job.

As mentioned previously, the relevant info is located on my (exhaustive) Ravelry page. I'm really happy with how this project turned out. It's been my go-to scarf lately because of how well it wraps around my neck/shoulders without getting loose; this is important if your bicycle is one of  your main modes of transport. (It's also why my Doctor Who scarf doesn't get a lot of love in the more temperate portions of the year-- I'd rather not go all Isadora Duncan in my attempts to get from one place to another.) Though, speaking of which...

What in hell is going on with Buffalo's weather? We've gone from 15 F to over 50 F over the course of a week, with temps jumping all over the place in between. There was a 16-degree temperature difference from when I left the house this morning to when I came back home tonight, jumping from 34 F to 50 F.

In January. In Buffalo.


I know that I should be grateful for the mild weather, since it means I can bike as opposed to having to trudge through snow, ice, and slush, but it's weirding me out, man. I'm concerned that the trees will think winter has broken early and start to leaf. For those of you not familiar with recent Buffalo history, back in 2006,  Arborgeddon occurred because trees hadn't started to shed their leaves before an unseasonable storm hit. About 90% of all trees in the city were damaged as a result, and hundreds of thousands of people were left without power. I'd really rather not see a repeat of that this year. *sighs*

Other than that, not too much else to say tonight. I'm considering posting a recipe tomorrow, if I can find time to squander writing blog entries instead of doing homework. Oh, what am I saying-- of course I can. Heh.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And now for something involving wool.

I've been working on a flurry of projects since December. The knitting bug is back, for better or worse. The spinning bug, on the other hand, sits in the corner and looks forlorn.


The project taking up most of my time right now is Willamette, a pattern by Star Athena from her Stumptown Knits collection. Willamette is a narrow, fingering-weight scarf featuring both linen and herringbone stitch. The scarf is built around slow increases and decreases, not unlike Baktus.

Overall, I think it's a fairly easy, attractive pattern. The herringbone stitch can be awkward at times if you're a tight knitter (ahem), but it becomes easier once you remember to loosen up (heh).

The yarn is Dashing Dachs Dach Sox, which is a light-fingering-weight superwash merino 2-ply. The colors, as you can see from the photo, are the opposite of subtle. The name of the colorway is Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, which is one of my favorite words ever. (Mamihlapinatapai is also up there, but sadly not relevant with regard to yarn.) The humuhumunukunukuapua'a is the proper name for the reef triggerfish, A.K.A. "the triggerfish with a snout like a pig", Hawaii's state fish.

I just finished working on my Oana shawl this past week, but I don't have a FO pic yet. Both the weather and my face haven't been cooperating with cameras lately, so getting an action shot hasn't been on the top of my list. Still, there are always the blocking photos.

This may have turned out a little bigger than I was expecting. That's my bed. The entire length of which is covered by that shawl.

And of course, the lace close-up shot. Aww, yeah.

It’s a large-scale, worsted-weight, fringed lace scarf. And yes, that was a mouthful. Knit from the point up, the lace repeat is simple and not frilly in the least, the latter being a huge plus in my book.
It was a fairly quick knit for something over 500 yards. Compared to Willamette, which is also over 500 yards, it flew by. I made the fringe (which you won't be able to see 'til I upload an FO shot, sorry) a little too short, which worked out to my advantage, actually; if I'd cut the yarn to an 8-inch length vs the 6.5" I seem to have wound up with, I would have run out of yarn entirely about two-thirds of the way through. 

The yarn is Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in Fairy Tale. It is an insanely loud magenta, slightly darker/bluer than the pictures show.

One last project on the go, though this one seems to have gotten stuck In the early stages:


Highland slippers, from Interweave's Accessories 2011 issue. Yarn is Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes Bulky in Masala, and fiber is Spunky Eclectic Shetland top in Swimming pool.

So, about that "blogging regularly" thing...

Yeah, I know I said I'd try and do this once a week. In my defense, I spent most of January bouncing around the country visiting friends (and thus without camera access), but still. Bad would-be blogger, bad!

I don't harbor illusions that anyone besides me is going to be reading this any time soon; I did say, however, that I wanted to get back into writing. Which I suppose means I should just suck it up and get typing.

So, in non-fibery news, my classes started up again this week. I'm taking another round of organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, even more calculus, and, just for fun, a 300-level course on the history of medieval Europe. (No, really. I'm taking it for fun. Believe me, it's not because I need the credit-hours at this point.) Having gotten through the week mostly unscathed, I'm cautiously optimistic about the semester. As long as I don't come down with the plague again, I think things will go well.

  • Organic II picked up exactly where Organic I left off on the very first day of class. It's still mostly conceptual thinking, which I can deal with. I would have appreciated a quick refresher, but it's really not that kind of course.
  • Analytical looks to be a lot of math. A lot of math. The first few chapters are a quick review of molar conversions, concentration, gas laws, etc. I say "quick" in that they're basically cramming all of both Fundamentals of Chemistry class into about a month, not due to their brevity, heh.
  • Calc II has been... interesting so far. I'm getting all the material, which worries me. From my experience, calculus is something that can only be learned through hours of brutal study and Khan Academy videos. Hopefully I'm not overestimating my grasp on things, because that would be bad. Still, we're only two classes into the semester. There's still plenty of time left for rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth.
  •   History of medieval Europe has been a lot of fun. The professor is wickedly funny in a sarcastic academe sort of way, which I think is wasted on a lot of the students. (I do not have a high opinion of my fellow classmates' abilities, which has been gained through several years of empirical observation.) I'm not sure if he's studied Greek or just memorized a few key words, but when he put a 3C declension on the board, my black heart went pitter-pat. I've kept pretty quiet in class-- mainly because no one else talks, and I'm trying to avoid being That Person. Still, I know that one of these days I'm going to slip and start grousing about lack of coverage of the development of Al-Andalus and the Reconquista compared to France and England.

Outside of class, I've really been working on improving my eating habits. Given the plague last semester, with its resultant lack of energy and inability to exercise or go to the gym, I totally let myself slide on the "eat real food and take care of myself" scale. Since the end of December (after the Stomach Flu of Death on X-mas day), I've been trying to create well-balanced, veggie-rich, nutrient-laden, savory meals.

So far, it's been a success. There have been a lot of soups in the mix, but I've also been experimenting with udon noodles and curries-- though not together, thankfully. If something goes particularly well and looks presentable enough to photograph, I might post the recipes up here. Though given the amount of food in my fridge right now, I probably won't have the space to cook anything in the next two weeks.

All right, that's a big enough wall of text for now. The next post will almost certainly involve pretty pictures of yarn, as I plan on writing it up as soon as this posts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New beginnings.

 It's been a long while since I've done any sort of serious writing. Hell, it's been a while since I've done any casual writing. I've been feeling more than a little out of touch with my inner journalist/copy editor, though. That, combined with a desire to slow my rapid descent into the world of hard science and complex maths, led me to do something I normally avoid like discussions about politics or religion: I made a New Year's resolution to start a new blog.

For the most part, I expect there to be a lot of fibery blather in days to come. Knitting, spinning, and cooking are my main vices these days, as living on college loan money for six years running  tends to prohibit wild debauchery. For those of you keeping count, this is degree number two for me. Apparently a Fine Arts degree makes you overqualified (or perhaps underqualified) to work at most dead end, minimum wage jobs, so I'm trying for something slightly more likely to ensure employment: Communication (Haha, just kidding.) Chemistry. I'm about a third of the way into my new degree, with an eye on applying to graduate schools with art conservation programs once I'm about halfway through.

My goal for now is to update the blog at least once a week and post my current goings-on. I'm also hoping to get back into working on my fine art stuff again this year, as I've been avoiding it since the Employment  Drought of 2010.  We'll see. The most important goal for me is actually doing things again.