Friday, December 27, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Slytherin Baby Sweater

It really wasn't until I had uploaded the pic to Ravelry that I realized that my favorite color combination is a Hogwarts House color combo as well. How about that; I'm an even bigger geek than even I knew.

I made the 24 month size, but except for the usual raglan bagging under the arms it's an almost perfect fit for a little boy who's otherwise not quite grown into his 18 month clothes.  I think I probably should have made the sleeves and the body longer than the pattern called for, if only so he could wear it for a while longer, but I so wanted this to be done.

I have much more yarn leftover than I thought I would, which is exhilarating. It's so soft and scrumptious. I don't know yet what I'll use it for, but I foresee much Ravelry browsing in my future. 

Yarn Along: UFO Thursday Edition

Merry belated Christmas, one and all!  I hope your holiday was full of fun and family and festivities.  I had two very nice Christmases, one with each side of the family.  Silas got more gifts than he knew what do with - literally.  As soon as he opened a gift he wanted to play with it, and he couldn't be distracted by anything like opening another gift!

I am almost finished with his sweater - just a few more teensy little sleeve rounds to go, and I can start weaving in ends (yippee).  In the meantime, (and for the purposes of the Yarn Along) I have my dedicated Thursday UnFinished Object to work on.

Oh, John Anderson's Kilt Hose.  How much I've learned from your humble little webpage.  Toe-up construction, short-rows, Magic Loop, the Eye of the Partridge, traditional Highland dress guidelines . . .

The yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Gray, which is my grey standard.  When I'm contemplating making something grey, I picture it in this yarn.  The pattern suggests using a worsted weight yarn and size 3 needles, to create a stock sturdy enough to stand up by itself (and then soften with washing and wear).  It is producing a dense but still squishy fabric that should hold up to a lot of wear and washing - I've had pretty good luck with my first pair of Wool-Ease socks, though they're fuzzing and pilling something fierce these days.  They are warm and cozy, so although the little knitted bumps of the wrong side of the fabric against my feet are sometimes more irritating than massage-like after a full day of standing on them, they are still my go-to pair of socks for seriously cold days.

The book, Rilla of Ingleside, is a much-worn library discard copy - thank Heaven for free library discards!  I've read it once before, and I came back to it recently because I recalled it to have a lot of sock knitting in it.  I haven't reached that part yet.  So far the main character is still shallow and very fifteen, which annoyed me when I first read it and hasn't improved with time at all.  As I remember it's going to take almost all of the book before she becomes a sensible human being, but I suppose all teenagers take a long span to mellow into something presentable, even with WWI as a harrowing backdrop.  Besides the sock knitting I remember really liking this book for the perspective it gave on the Canadian homefront  - what the War looked like to the women trying to hold things together at home while their husbands, sons, brothers, and sweethearts fought so very far away.  And of course, it's L.M. Montgomery, so there's a wealth of beautiful scenery, quirky and endearing human characters, and plenty of warmth, humor, and piquant sadness, and a little poetry.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Belated FO Friday

I did actually start this post yesterday, but I was sick, expecting company today, and the baby was teething, so the post was full of vitriol and self-loathing.

I finished the stocking on Wednesday.

I'm not entirely pleased with it - I messed up the colorwork in several places and the floats are way too loose inside, and it's so colossally huge that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of filling it with gifts.  I don't want Silas to grow up with the expectation of Christmas being all about lots of presents, because it should be about one really big present 2000 years ago, and about love and family and goodwill towards men.  However, it was fun to make, and it's a really handsome decoration.  I suppose when we have another child someday I'll have to make another one, too, so it's just as well that I have oodles of yarn leftover.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Yarn Along

Week two of joining the Yarn Along!  There's actually wool content this time!

I started a sweater for Silas today, and we'll see if I can get it done in time for him to open it on Christmas Eve.  It's loosely based on the sweater kit I bought for my mother-in-law two Christmases ago (which was basically a Tulips baby sweater kit, but with the pattern swapped out for Diane Soucy's #214 Baby Pullover, because Beth's Yarn Basket had an example knitted up that was just so darling, and so very Ryan; I like dressing Silas as Ryan - it amuses me no end, and I love to see little boys dressed up as little men [little girls, however, should always be dressed as little girls]).

The yarn, in keeping with the Tulips idea, is Dream in Color Classy.  Instead of going with a kit of several colors, I'm sticking with a more basic two-color stripe pattern, so I bought whole skeins - one each of Shiny Moss green and Grey Tabby grey.  Green and grey is one of my favorite combinations, and Silas gravitated towards the colors as I was going through the Yarn Basket's DiC options.  That's my boy.  I've long been ogling Dream in Color's beautiful tonal yarns, and it turns out that they're not just pretty colorways - it's downright dreamy to work with, too, so soft and smooth and delicious.  It's a little more than I normally spend on two balls of yarn, but the yardage is generous and there's no price to be put on the joy of knitting a little sweater with heavenly yarn.

The book, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, was an impulsive pick-up from the library's free discards.  I haven't read the first book, The Lightning Thief, but Sea spends so much time recapping it that I probably will never need to.  The book is a decent piece of light fiction for tweens, but other than some of the fun mythological references, it doesn't really have enough to grab me as an adult.  I feel like it draws too much from Harry Potter, without having JK Rowling's storytelling mastery.  There are a lot of elements that I wish had been handled differently, like the characters' learning disabilities and sense of parental abandonment.  These are great topics for children's literature to deal with, but I don't feel like, "It's cool that I have dyslexia, because it's a sign that I'm a demigod!" or "Your dad's doing the best he can - he's a god with thousands of other children to deal with, too, you know," really address the problems in a way that will help children handle these issues themselves or in their peers.  Give me "A Wrinkle in Time" any day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yarn Along

I wistfully follow Ginny Sheller's blog, "Small Things," admiring her peaceful voice, beautiful photography, and lovely family.  I stumbled across her on Ravelry, while doing a random search for projects including the name Silas, as a way of pointing out to my husband that Silas is a name skyrocketing in popularity.  The name is growing on me, as being attached to my son, but it's still not the name I would have picked for any reason ever except that Ryan wanted it so badly.  Anyway, I was fascinated by the little glimpses I caught in her project page, both of beautiful knitting and photography and wonderful literary names for her six (now seven!) children.  What really caught me by the heartstrings, unsurprisingly, is that she, too, has sons named Silas and Gabriel.

She has a weekly Yarn Along that beckons to me, as she posts a picture of a book and a knitting project that she's reading and working on, respectively, and the picture always hits me right in my coziest spot.  I've refrained from joining, because I feel the disparity in the comparison of her pretty, soft, woolen projects and my acrylic monstrosities.  This week, however, I'm joining in, late as always, self-consciousness be darned!

When I started the New Ancestral Christmas Stocking from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, I knew it was big, but I don't think it was really impressed enough upon me just how big.  It's a lovely Christmas decoration, but as something that I'm supposed to fill with gifts, it makes me feel . . . daunted, to say the least.  What on earth am I ever going to put in this gargantuan sock?  We don't even have a fireplace!  What am I thinking?

Part of it is the longing I often felt for a Christmas stocking as a child.  Part of it is how much I like argyle.  Part of it is how darn inviting Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner make all of their patterns sound.  They have a gift for imparting their love of knitting in their writing, and it makes me want to have as much fun knitting log cabin afghans as they do.  Then I try it and discover that endless permutations of garter stitch make me ill.  Life is so unfair.

I'm very eager for this stocking to be over with.

Right now I'm reading Jane Eyre (or more accurately, re-re-re-re-reading it) on my Kindle, but I threw my hardcopy into the photo because I thought it would make the picture more dynamic.  Jane Eyre is just one of those books that I am always in the mood for.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I know I've mentioned Craftlit here before, and undoubtedly my husband and my penpals are getting tired of my saying, "Heather says . . . Heather Ordover of Craftlit, I mean, you know that podcast that I'm always listening to . . ."  And I am always listening to it - it makes my commute bearable, it makes cleaning the kitchen bearable, it makes my breaks at work so much more interesting, though lately I have been taking a step down from my normal supercilious taciturnity and actually trying to take an interest in my coworker's small talk once or twice a week.  Heather says that Craftlit People are just better, by which she means friendlier, more open-hearted, more creative, more open-minded.  As I can't claim to be even adequate by those terms, I guess I'm not really a Craftlit Person, I'm just someone who hangs around the fringes and gleans what I can in sincere adoration.

The concept of the podcast is brilliant - when I re-earthed my iPod from its hiding place earlier this year, this was exactly the kind of podcast I started hunting for.  Heather Ordover serializes public domain audiobooks, and adds in some crafty chat and talks about her day and her experiences and interesting stuff on the web, usually related to knitting or some other craft, or to the book or classic literature in general.  She's an English teacher, so she also gives a little lesson of sorts with each episode, putting the book into context, explaining any archaic terms that occur, giving background on the author, and letting the listeners know what to look out for to get a deeper understanding of the text.  This is absolutely my cup of tea.

On a side note, another brilliant podcast with a similar setup is Forgotten Classics, which I will have to devote a separate entry to when I've had more time to listen to it.  Check it out!

Craftlit has a mascot named Cheddar, who is seriously in need of more attention.  I am smitten by this idea, and I don't know why he isn't all over the website's homepage.  He's so cute!  I'm working on one now, in between my son's Christmas stocking (which is turning out enormous . . . I'm going to have to figure out a way to fill it without creating an expectation of lots o' stuff, because that's not what Christmas is about, yo).  Here's the mousie's nose.

I'm actually 80% done with the body now, I just haven't been in a picture-taking mood of late.  Isn't that just an adorable nose, though?  It's all shaped with short-rows.  I'm using a little skein of local Iowa yarn (Morning Sun BF) that I bought at the 2013 Iowa Sheep and Wool festival, expressly for Cheddar.  I wanted him to be a natural mouse color.  When he's finished I want to design him a little weskit and set him up in a mouse-sized library, but one thing at a time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


There are many things that I love whole-heartedly.  Craftlit, my favorite podcast.  Anne of Green Gables, so dear to my heart (the books more than the movies, though I love them too).  Knitting.  The former offering me a chance to win the latter two combined?  YES PLEASE.

There's a book of knitting patterns based on our favorite redhead!

I want it.

I've peeked on Ravelry.  There are pretty patterns in here, my friends.  Like Anne's Sweater - I am always helpless in the face of green.  And Diana's Hat - I am smitten by the slouchiness.

If I don't get this for Christmas, I am buying it as soon as I have funds to do so.  And then I'm going to knit a Green Gables sweater and pretend that my raven tresses are thick red braids.