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So I think it’s time to admit that grad school is bad for blogging.  I always mean to find the time to put something here, but sometimes that time just doesn’t exist.  That being said, I am so not ready to give up on this yet, so I promise to try and do my best to make time when I can.  But the reality I’m facing is that posts just won’t be as frequent as they once were.  So I’m going to stop apologizing for not posting and just do my best to post when I can.  That is my oath to you from now on.

So now that that is out of the way.  Ravelympics came and went.  I finished both my projects (hurray!), but it was sort of anticlimactic because they were small since school work has been heavy the last few weeks.  March 1 came and my internal clock seemed to know it was Malabrigo March even when my conscious mind did not.  Within in the first three days of march I cast on two projects with Malabrigo yarns.

As you might guess, this was largely motivated by a need for some color in my life.  Here in Philly things are just starting to warm up.  It’s supposed to be beautiful today, but last week it was hovering around the 40s, back and forth from grey to sunny to drizzly again.  And the solution was these little guys.

The first to come was a Verdaia shawl, cast on in Malabrigo Sock in Agaus (which in truth is not quite so blue in real life, a reality my camera refused to accept).  This new shawl pattern cropped up a few weeks back and right away I liked the looks of it.  I had originally planned to make Clothilde with this yarn, but when push came to shove I had plenty of other sock yarns I would be happy to use for Clothilde and nothing else I wanted to use for this.  It’s a nice pattern, the body is relatively simple, with slightly more complexity coming up in the edging.  More details are here.

A few days later I was really feeling the need for some serious lace.  And because Verdaia is relatively simple, I needed to add in something else to fill that void.  In addition to that, I could not stop thinking about this yarn as soon as the sun peaked through the clouds.  It is Malabrigo Lace in Sauterne and it is the most perfect yellow in the world if you ask me.  So I cast on for Aeolian.  This pattern rocks.  And so does this yarn.  I had forgotten how awesome it feels all the time.  I truly love it.  More detail on this one can be found here.

Those two projects have been grabbing most of my attention in the past week.  But Spring break is coming up soon.  And once I recover from having my wisdom teeth out  my plans are minimal and will hopefully involve lots of knitting!  Fingers crossed.

The start of 2009 has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve already, in less than two weeks, been on more flights than I was on in the whole of 2008. And I’ve only slept in my own bed twice. But I’m home now, after my trip to London and a very unexpected (and unfortunately not under the best circumstances) trip to the San Francisco Bay area.

But I know what you really want to hear about (and see!) is my trip to London, and while I’m sure I can’t fit it all in one post, I can at least get started tonight. There was plenty of general tourist type fun (some of which I’m sure to show you later), but of course for me many of the highlights of the trip were my yarn store visits and stolen knitting moments.

My first shop visit was to I Knit London in Waterloo. It was a nice shop with a number of yarn from British breeds which was what I was largely on the lookout for this trip. One of the highlights of the shop was a large sheep sculpture covered in pieces of knitting all from British breed yarn.

My Mom bought some yarn as well as the book written by the shop owner which he graciously signed for her. And I scored some lovely British breed yarn from Garthenor Organic.

Yarn: Garthenor Organic, Pure Wool Organic Hebridean/Manx Blend

Color:

Dye Lot:

Amount: 2 skeins at 85 yds each

Purchased at: I Knit London, London UK

stashed on ravelry here

The next day I managed to find a spare moment to work on my angle scarf while waiting for our lunch at The Eagle, a gastropub in Clerkenwell. I even snuck in a few rows between bites, although it wasn’t easy as the food was absolutely heavenly. Apparently The Eagle is usually credited as the first gastropub, and they’ve definitely got the whole arrangement down to a science.

After lunch we took a bit of a walk up to Loop in Islington. The shop was really adorable, and very crowded on a Saturday. But I managed to sneak in a few photos around all the customers.

The shop is definitely a haven for brightly colored luxury yarns. And despite my quest for British breeds and a generally tendency towards neutrals and deeper or more muted colors in recent months I certainly fell in with the trend, picking up two shades of GGH Cumba for a planned color work beret.

Yarn: GGH, Cumba

Color: 008 (green) & 019 (teal)

Dye Lot: 8053141 & 8009091

Amount: 2 balls at 164 yds each

Purchased at: Loop, London UK

stashed on ravelry here & here

On my last full day in London I took a moment to rest at Bea’s of Bloomsbury after a rather long walk. I enjoyed a lovely chocolate cupcake and made a little progress on my Swallowtail Shawl.

Before heading to the airport on my last day I managed to make it to the incredibly unique shop Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green. Things were a bit messy since the owners had literally just returned from their Christmas holiday, but the shop was beyond cool (and who I am to hold messiness against anyone?). And the ladies were so friendly and helpful, as well as super stylish and creative. I didn’t have a ton of time to look around, but I got a feel for the place and picked up a sweaters worth of a rare Welsh breed called Black Welsh Mountain, and boy is it beautiful.

Yarn: Prick Your Finger, Black Welsh Mountain Aran

Color:

Dye Lot:

Amount: 6 skeins at unknown yardage

Purchased at: Prick You Finger, London UK

stashed on ravelry here

That about sums up the knitting devoted bits of my trip. I tried to visit Socktopus on my way to Heathrow, but very sadly it was closed. Hopefully it won’t be another four years before I make it back to London because the shop looked beautiful and I’d really love to check it out.

I’ve got more London fun to share with you when I have another chance to sit down. Hopefully that will be soon!

…is the kind where you enjoy being distracted and you manage to feel like the time you devote to the distraction is worthwhile even if it wasn’t initially what you had in mind.  The Through the Loops Socktoberfest Mystery Sock KAL is just that kind of distraction.  I’m supposed to be working away day and night on all my gift knitting, but I just couldn’t say no to such a fun diversion.

Clue #2 came out Wednesday and since I had a little extra time off this afternoon I decided to walk over to Hello Cupcake to treat myself and work on some knitting.  I made a little progress on my socks and in order to avoid guilt picked up a gift project for a bit too.

(WARNING, SPOILERS FOLLOW!!)

That’s a vegan pumpkin spice cupcake just before it was devoured.  The guy behind the counter told me the vegan ones were fantastic and definitely not a sacrifice and he wasn’t kidding.  It was incredibly moist, not too sweet and the top had more in common with an apple crumble than any cupcake I’ve ever had.  It was really delicious.

The socks are turning out really nicely.  I’m doing the basic version this time, for a number of reasons including yarn choice, but I hope to make the cabled version later.  I am actually really fond of how the pattern looks in the yarn.  I was afraid the KPPPM might be too variegated, but it mixes it up to colors very nicely.  I think it helps that this colorway doesn’t have very much light to dark variegation; tonally it’s all quite similar.   I can’t wait to see what happens in clues three and four.  (By the way, starting with this post I’ll be linking photos to their flickr pages.  Laziness really just isn’t a good enough excuse not too.)

The other distraction I gave into today was that the supplies I had ordered to make these showed up in my mailbox.

I’d been wanting my own personalized tags to affix to projects (especially gifts) for awhile now.  After exploring many options, I decided making my own following those instructions would be the best option both from the perspective of aesthetics and funds.  So on Monday night I ordered a personalized rubber stamp, dutch linen tape and a fabric safe ink pad.  Everything arrived today, so I thought I’d start making a few just to try it out.  I’m getting better at laying the stamp in the right place and I think it’s going to work out really well.  I can’t wait to sew one into something and make it really mine.

Fair isle is a knitting skill I’ve had trouble learning.  I tried a handful of times and just couldn’t get comfortable with two hands.  Which is exactly why I made it a priority when I came up with a set of knitting goals a few months ago.  So I sat down with my Mother on Sunday and she walked me through the process of managing the two colors at the same time.  Some how this time I picked it up right away.  I’m not quite sure what’s changed but I know that how I hold the needles and my wrapping process have evolved a bit since last I tried, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I wanted to start out with something easy.  So I found a really basic fair isle hat pattern on ravelry.  It’s called the Snow Bear Fair Isle Hat by Jenny Dolan.  The pattern is really easy to memorize and it’s easy to find a rhythm which is making it a great project to practice on.  And I’m really liking the flow of the fair isle knitting.  It’s got some of the counting and rhythmic qualities you get with stitch patterns, but because you’re simply knitting every stitch it flows a little better.

The inside isn’t absolutely perfect, but considering this is my first successful fair isle project I think it’s quite neat.  Every time I pick it up I can feel how warm it will be great.  Which is great because I plan on donating it to Afghans for Afghans when I’m done.  My Mom suggested it (she knits from them a lot) thinking that way if there were a few mistakes or any unevenness no one would mind much.  So far no problems, and I feel even better sending a nice product their way.

Find it on ravelry here.

I believe I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to devote myself to even one or two projects.  Therefore, the Ravelympics were a real exercise in discipline for me.  The point was of course to challenge oneself, and it was most definitely a challenge for me to commit to two projects, especially since I mostly worked on one at a time exclusively until each was finished.  The result has been a serious backlash.  My WIP ADD has reared its ugly head, and in addition to picking back up the projects that I put aside for the Ravelympics, I’ve started 3 new projects in the last week.  And it required serious self restraint not to start another.  I thought I’d give you all a peak at the new projects in my life.

The first project I started after the Ravelympics, and the project that is furthest along is a version of the Weaver’s Wool Mini Shawl in stripes inspired by Mustaa Villaa.  The pattern is incredibly simple, but her end product looked so lovely that I couldn’t help but want one.  And we can all use a little mindless knitting every now and then.  I also can’t remember the last time I knit anything on 10s, so I pretty much can’t believe how fast it’s working up.  Find it on ravelry here.

You’d think one lace scarf at a time would be enough, but that Malabrigo Lace had just been sitting in my stash bins for too long.  So I went ahead and cast of for the Leaf Lace Scarf.  I did two pattern repeats and haven’t picked it up since, but I’m sure I’ll head back to it soon since I’ve just started and I already love the way it looks.  Find it on ravelry here.

Fifth time’s the charm, or so say I.  After starting these socks four times with different patterns and disliking how they looked in the yarn, I have finally settled on a yarn and pattern combo I like.  This is the Sunshine Yarns Soft Sock I blogged about awhile back and the pattern I finally chose is Kew.  This pattern is a bit slow moving, but at this point I firmly believe the look is worth the effort.  I decided to use a traditional ribbed cuff instead of the scalloped garter cuff.  I just tend to prefer the look of a classic rib cuff, and they really can’t be beat practically speaking.  There are few things I hate more than socks that fall down.   Find them on ravelry here.

So it’s Day 7 of the Ravelympics and I have one sock complete.  Which seems about right pace-wise. 

 

If it weren’t for two bouts of frogging I’d be a bit further along.  The first one, which I mentioned in the last post, was done to avoid pooling.  The second one came once I was midway through the toe decreases.  I tried the sock on and realized that while the fit was fine through the instep, it got way to baggy by the ball of the foot.  So I frogged back a few inches and worked some decreases into the underside of the sock about midway down the foot.  I decreased 8 stitches of 16 rows, which was just the right amount because they fit great now.

Both times it’s been hard to decide to frog back.  Normally I have no qualms about ripping back to fix something I don’t like, but because these are supposed to be time sensitive it was a harder choice.  Ultimately I’m really glad I chose to do it.  It would have been sad to have socks I didn’t like at the end of the ravelympics.  And I honestly think I still have plenty of time.

I’ve barely done any more work on the cowl.  I’ve been focusing on the socks so far.  But I would guess I’ll need to change it up more pretty soon, since normally I don’t have this much devotion to a project.

Ok I could probably think up a more creative title if it wasn’t nearly 2am, but it is, so you’re stuck with what you’ve got.  I am, like so many other ravelers, participating in the Ravelympics, which began yesterday.  Which means my full knitting attention will be devoted to the following two projects through August 24 (unless I finish up early).  Which most likely means a lot of my blogging attention will be devoted there as well.  So you’re sure to get frequent updates.

My first event is the sock put.  The pattern I’ve chosen is Spring Forward from the most recent Knitty and I’m working with my first Three Irish Girls sock club yarn.

Here was my progress as of this morning.  I was just a few rows past the first pattern repeat.  I’ve now completed two and a half pattern repeats and I’m ready to start the heel.  Initially I didn’t like the way it was pooling, so after doing almost a full pattern repeat I ripped it out and started alternating rows pulling from two balls.  I just prefer a more scattered look with variegated yarns.  Even though it was a bit of a set back, I’m glad I made that decision, since I like it much better now.

My second event is the cowl jump, for which I am using the Razor Shell Neckwarmer pattern and Blue Sky Alpaca Silk.

I’ve only knit about 8 rows on this project.  I actually cast on once and knit the first pattern row and realized that when calculating the extra repeats I added into the pattern I made a goof and had cast on the wrong number of stitches, so I had to start over (luckily that was only 5 rows in the project).  Because I know this project will go much faster I’m trying to focus as much on my socks as possible for now to make sure I can get them done.

The detail shot doesn’t help you see the pattern yet, but you sure can see how fuzzy the yarn is.  I do love alpaca.

I’m currently participating in a read-along/knit-along with the Jane Austen group on ravelry. It’s my first combo read&knit-along. I was pulled in because lately I’ve been feeling guilty about how little I’ve been reading and because we’re reading Sense & Sensibility which I’ve only read twice before. The premise for the project choice was to pick something very sensible or something completely frivolous. And since I’m not the practical type I went in the other direction

I had been guiltily eying the Criss Cross Garter pattern in Naughty Needles for awhile now. I told myself over and over that there was no reason I should make it. And then when I had to pick a impractical project, all of a sudden I had the perfect excuse. I’ve decided to convert it from a straight up garter belt to a pair of undies in the same style, because what’s more impractical than a pair of knit undies?

Here’s my progress:

Find it on ravelry here.