Bunny Lace

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Now, if only this knitting-in-progress could look like that all the time...
Thank you all for the compliments on the Sea Monkeys! The universe must have felt that an unexpected success with variegated yarn in lace must be balanced by a failure in some other aspect of my knitting. How else can I explain my momentary amnesia regarding angora when I impulsively embarked on some bunny lace? Bunny yarn, as we all know, can attribute its rational-thought-defying qualities of being oh-so-heavenly soft and fluffy and addictive to pet to its inherent fuzziness. You know, the halo comme ça around the yarn.

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Lovely, no? Well, that delightful halo also makes the scarf look like this when sans back-lighting...

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I think this is beyond even the magical powers of blocking to save. After much grumping and thoughts of frogging (not actually a possibility given the enmeshing abilities of the aforementioned fluff), I think I've finally made my peace with the scarf-to-be*. After all, even if no one else will ever be able to discern even the barest hint of deliberately placed holes, I will at least know that deep down, sandwiched between a double layer of bunny hair, there is lace.

*It helps that the fluff makes the yarn feel so luxurious that it makes me wish for a tubful to roll around nekkid in. Yeah, it's that soft.


Sea Monkeys

Undulating waves of Sea Dreams lace

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make for a most delightful pair of woolly Monkeys…

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And a solo sock-modeling photo-shoot

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makes for an excellent isometric stomach muscle workout!

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Project Specs:

Pattern: Monkey Socks by the brilliant Cookie
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted fingerling weight, Sea Dreams 009
Needles: US 1.5/2.5mm for four leg repeats, US 1/1.25mm for fifth repeat and remainder of sock.
Mods: One fewer pattern repeat for legs; change in needle size as above


A year and a day

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Three hundred and sixty six days of me blathering into the ether. Hard to believe. What started off as just a sounding board for me to wax poetic on my new-found love of knitting (without driving non-knitting friends and family mad with fiber talk) has turned into something of a refuge. Here is a mental space apart from the daily complexities and banalities of trudging the Ph.D. road, a place where I can muse and reflect to my heart’s content on the act of making things – sewing, knitting, spinning... – with no limitations and no one to pooh-pooh my efforts as “a waste of time.” Here is also a medium through which I can connect and exchange ideas with others who too love to create things by hand. After a day of moving bits of clear liquid from plastic tube to plastic tube in the laboratory, often with negative results at the end, it’s wonderful to come home and do something with my hands that actually can result in the tangible creation of something. Better yet, to be able to share and discuss in this space about those creations or the frustrations of bringing forth those creations – that just makes all the stresses of the day seem a million miles away. Plenty have been said extolling this wonderful, generous community built up around the simple act of looping a strand of yarn into a fabric and yet no amount of praise can be enough for this network of “kindred spirits.” I am still amazed each post by all of you who take the time to read and respond back. So, thank you, thank you everyone for being so kind to listen to me ramble and helping me create this sanctum. Here’s to another year!

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Oh, wait…focusing…
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still focusing…oh, $%#$@&* auto-timer…
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wait, ready…er…okay!


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My very second knitted top!

(Obligatory posed side view)
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What a difference a year of knitting experience makes! When I finished my first sweater, binding off loosely and proper seaming were not concepts that I was well acquainted with. So, I ended up with edgings of limited stretchiness and gaping joins between the front and back, all of which relegated the sweater (excited though I was about it) to languish in refinishing limbo after only one wearing. This time it was all different! Knitting a pair of argyle socks put those necessary skills of intarsia and mattress stitch into my tool kit. Add that to a year’s worth of accumulated knitting knowledge from reading patterns and knitting books and blogs et voilà –– the confidence to modify a pattern and the ability to make it turn out almost as I had imagined it. Cyd is still far from being entirely free of errors and regrets, mind you, but it’s much better than the messy “home-made” look of the last sweater. And have I mentioned how warm and comfortable and wonderful this slip-over is? I ❤ fuzzy green and orange diamonds.

Specs and Notes:
Pattern: Cyd, from Jaeger Booklet JB31
Yarn: Jaeger Luxury Tweed 65% merino lambswool, 35% alpaca (sadly discontinued) MC 836, CC 823, 822
Thoughts on Luxury Tweed: Oddly, there is quite a difference in the feel of the yarn between the different colorways. The main color was much rougher with less of a soft halo than either of the contrast colors. The yarn, at least the main color, is also rather fragile. A quick tug, as during mattress stitching (ask me how I know this) easily snaps it in two.
Needles: US4/3.5mm needles for body. US2/3mm needles used for ribs at neck and armholes
A misreading of the pattern lead me to knit a gauge swatch with US 4 needles instead of the 4mm needles called for but my swatch was surprisingly on gauge. Given how loose the fabric was already on the US4/3.5mm needles (and I’m hardly a loose knitter), I shudder to think how it might have looked knitted with the larger needles. Because I used a smaller needle for the body, I also went down to a 2mm needle to knit the edging on the neck and armholes instead of the 3.25 mm needles called for. For the slip-over body, I deepened the V of the neck such that it came exactly to the top of the second green diamond rather than cut into a third diamond as in the pattern. I also reduced the total number of stitches around the body and added waist-shaping to keep the slip-over from being too sack-like since the smallest size was still a bit too big for me.
Now for those of you who’ve been kind enough to slog through all my rambling above, here’s a peek of the intarsia reverse side.

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Oh ❤...


Sometimes you just need to look up

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Of all the random daily things that to bring a smile to my face, pretty blue skies never fail to inject a little happiness into my day, even for a brief moment. Rather mundane, yes, but there just something about seeing that exact, perfect shade of blue curving over to the horizon – suddenly all the little neurons connected to the happiness center in my brain fire and scream, joy joy joy.
It really doesn't get much better than yesterday, when the most gorgeous cloud-flecked blue sky put in an appearance to stretch over the pink magnolias blossoms in my mother's garden. Instant therapy.
What simple things make you happy?


Family and food

Oh so much good food…

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Happy Lunar New Year!


Tempestuous Bunny Love

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Happy Valentine’s Day!


Bottling away the blues

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Blue is all well and good, but in the context of one’s extremities, especially when one is in possession of a circulatory system that tends to bypass said extremities, blue becomes less of a good thing. I had apparently mused over the interesting blue tint that my feet take on during evenings at home one too many times to I., since this arrived in the post yesterday.

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I.’s Irish co-worker kindly gave him her extra hot water bottle to send to me. And it's purple! I’m also greatly tickled by the very carefully worded, detailed instructions of use and caution statement stamped on the bottle's one side. (Though it does make one wonder about all sorts of things --- like what is the difference between a toy and a plaything? And do rubber bottles dissolve in oil and grease?)

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Now that I am a knitter in possession of a hot water bottle, I’m sure you can guess what must follow.

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Pins and steam and heat

Somehow in my one-year and some months of knitting, I have managed to escape the necessity of blocking lace. While I love lace in principle, I inevitably contact Startitis and become distracted with other things whenever I spend too lengthy of a period on large lace projects like shawls…cough Icarus cough. Furthermore, I’ve always had a rather irrational fear of blocking…anything. No previous bad experiences, just a completely irrational dread. So, with these two handicaps, the only items with intentionally placed holes I have ever finished -- a Branching Out scarf in DK weight wool and a pair of Pomatomus socks -- were small and did not require blocking. Well, all of this is my rather roundabout way of leading up to say, wow, I knew blocking does wonders to lace but…wow.

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Even on this scarf where the rumples were not extreme (but enough to absolutely require flattening of some sort), pinning out and steam ironing wrought an absolutely amazing transformation. Instead of the fuzzy, crinkled purple bundle that had been sitting in my knitting bag, I had myself 5 feet of light, lofty, flowing lace. It’s funny, I’ve seen much more spectacular examples of this transformation time and time again on many blogs but there’s just something about doing it myself (even a lesser version) that makes the experience seem extra magical. Now, fingers crossed that my future MIL will like it just as much as I do!

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Project Specs:
Pattern: Crystal Palace Madeira Cascade Lace Scarf
Yarn: 3.5 skeins of Misti Alpaca DK 4ply 80% Suri baby alpaca/20% silk, color 2030
Needles: US5/3.5mm
Finished dimensions: 9 inches wide, 5 feet long (10 pattern repeats)


A belated kick-off

…for Project Spectrum 2.0.

Paper white and gloomy grey without…

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Cozy blues and creamy whites within…

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Colors for Febrary and March? Blue, grey, and white, of course!


Bloggers' (Silent) Poetry Reading 2007

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It's that time of the year again for groundhogs and poetry. Since my favorite poem in its entirety would make for an exceedingly long post, here are my two favorite stanzas instead.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

--"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", by T. S. Eliot