Sunday, August 19, 2007

Six Degrees of Draco Malfoy

I'm supposed to post my assignment for the Hogwarts sock swap here for grading. I have to connect the Dursley family to Draco Malfoy in six steps, or degrees of separation, ala Kevin Bacon.

Petunia Dursley is the sister of Lily Potter, who is the mother of Harry Potter, who is in Gryffindor House with Neville Longbottom, whose parents Frank & Alice Longbottom are tortured into madness by Bellatrix Le Strange, whose sister Narcissa is Draco Malfoy's mother.

Hogwarts Swap Socks Arrive in HMB

I received an incredible package in the mail yesterday. It came all the way from Cambridge, England, courtesy of my Hogwarts sock swap pal Lyndsey-Jane. She sent me custom hand knit VOG ON lace anklet socks made from hand dyed Ravenclaw striped yarn, the leftover yarn in case I want to make the socks longer or to use in another project, a matching fringed bookmark, a chocolate truffle candy bar, and beaded stitch markers (which were just the right size for my big needle felting projects, where I've been using yarn markers) in the Ravenclaw colors.

L-J also sent me a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in the "Only in the UK" colorway Cherry Blossom, instead of the sock needles she was supposed to send. (I am NOT complaining.) Because she was a month late sending my package, she also tucked in a skein of Wollmeise Sockenwolle yarn in a gorgeous purple and blue color way. Being patient pays off big time! Lyndsey-Jane went far beyond the scope of the swap, and I am very happy.

I now have the pleasant task of deciding what pattern to use with the sock yarns. The Woolmeise might be turned into a lace shawl, because it has great yardage and is a wonderful deep periwinkle blue color. Cameras can't seem to capture the real tones of blue colors. I also have to get busy making the socks for my new Hogwarts sock swap partner, who is a Gryffindor this time.

I'm also pleased to report that I finished a UFO that had been sitting in my project box far too long. I only had about 10 more rows to knit on this scarf, too. It's mohair and a variegated nylon ribbon held together, knit in garter stitch on big needles with a dropped stitch very so often. I've made three scarves using this pattern, the other two used a variegated fuzzy nylon yarn and a wider ribbon.

Thanks again, Lyndsey-Jane! The socks are wonderful! There won't be a picture of the chocolate bar (although I saved the wrapper.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still No Sock Knitting

I started knitting the Via Diagonale bag by Wendy Wonnacott from Knitty's Spring 2005 issue last week and I'm at the binding off point. I could not stop knitting on this project! Everything else got put on hold. I'm using two stash yarns: a Chinese red Pingouin mercerized cotton from Elann left over from a sweater I made my Dad 5 years ago and some cabled cotton, also from Elann, that I helped a friend dye a nice soft teal blue and she gave me the leftovers after finishing her sweater. I saw the bag in someone's project pages when I was browsing for ways to use a certain yarn on Ravelry and was reminded of how much I liked it originally.

I love using slip stitch/mosaic patterns and this one was no exception. Once I got the rhythm going I didn't even need to look at the directions. It helped that I'd made some socks using the same pattern a few years back. The double stranding helps give the bag structure even in cotton yarn, although I will have to line it and put something in the bottom to help the bag keep its shape. Since I had more yardage than the pattern called for, and I like bigger bags, I'm making it taller. I plan to insert plastic aquarium tubing into the handles, or maybe use purchased handles. The colors are a bit brighter in real life, as you can see from the frogged red bag's picture, and there are very subtle variations in the hand dyed blue yarn.

Using Ravelry's interactive features, I was able to click on the yarn info page for the pattern and see what weight yarn the designer used, something that's not always obvious with patterns. Then I could just go to my stash page and figure out if I had enough yardage to make the bag. This is only one of the reasons why I love Ravelry! If you haven't put your name on the waiting list I'd encourage you to do so. It took six weeks for me to get an invite but it was worth the wait. Once they are out of the Beta stage the site will be free and open to all.

I plan to make the bag again in Kureyon and a solid colored wool, using larger needles, and felt it. Slip stitch designs really work well in felted bags. I've also been working on my mitered garter stitch vest and a modular sweater using a big bag of miscellaneous purple and blue green yarns. Pictures pending

In order to make the Via Diagonale bag I had to frog this bag project, which had been on hold since I didn't think I had enough yarn to finish. I'm much happier with this new project. I have a golf ball sized amount left of the red yarn and one skein left from the teal, enough to bind off and make the handles.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No Sock Knitting

The weather is normal for this time of year: misty and overcast in the morning, then the fog burns off and the sun comes out. I've been getting the itch to knit more than socks. Being able to see all of the great projects others have made in Ravelry has been an inspiration. It's also been a distraction, leading to less knitting time than usual.

I also got some great books at the Knitpicks 40% off sale that I might not have purchased if they hadn't been such a good deal. The best one so far has been Top Down Sweaters by Doreen Marquardt. I learned to knit by making a top down circular sweater in Berella 4 acrylic, so this one was right up my alley. The construction techniques are quite different, involving lots of provisional cast ons and three needle bind offs.

I started the cover sweater, using some Silk Garden yarn I had in my stash, but decided to make it a vest instead of a jacket. This is the back of the vest, where the 3 needle bind off joined the two side pieces. The fronts are also mitered rectangles, with a raglan yoke holding everything together.

My top down cotton lace top is on hold because I ran out of yarn once again. I was using some vintage stash yarn from an eBay find, so there was no way to get any more. I decided to add an edging in a different lace pattern, using some pale pink fluffy yarn held together with a fingering weight ecru cotton to achieve the same gauge. It's just enough different in color and texture to look like a design feature instead of an afterthought, and not too high contrast so it doesn't cut me off right at the worst place. However, I ran out of the fingering weight cotton yarn before I ran out of the fluffy pink stuff, so I need one more skein of that. It was one skein of Rowan Cotton Glace which a friend donated. I'm going to buy some Paton's Grace at Michael's to sub for that. The color is slightly different, but since I'm using it along with the fluffy pink stuff I think it will be okay. The only picture I have just shows the yoke, but it's almost done.