January 27, 2010

Ishbel

Posted in finished object, knitting at 3:55 pm by peachknits

Hello, hello. It was such a beautiful day today, and I had a chance to get some photographs of my recently finished project, Ishbel. This design is one of the most popular on Ravelry; it’s so versatile and allows you to mix and match the stockinette and lace elements to customize the shawl to your personal tastes or yarn amount.

Pattern: Ishbel
Yarn: Handmaiden Fine Yarns Sea Silk
Started: September 26, 2009
Finished: January 26, 2010

Notes: In terms of the yarn, it was very luxurious (it should be, too, since it’s the most expensive yarn, ounce for ounce, that I’ve ever purchased) but I did find it to be a little slippery for my tastes. I had a few issues with tension in the stockinette section, and I think the yarn’s inherent silkiness is to blame. That, and the fact that I never did learn to hold my yarn the “right” way, so I sometimes have problems with uneven tension.

I actually had to frog this back about five times before I decided on a way to tackle the yarn overs on both the right and wrong sides. In short, I completely omitted them and replaced them with kfb on both ends. The result is a less lacy but far more attractive alternative.

Those who have knitted this shawl probably struggled with the YOs because they’re placed before purl stitches on the wrong side. This requires you to wrap the yarn not once, but twice around the needle to gain on YO, and in doing so, the YO on one side is larger than the YO on the other side (which is followed by a knit). Yeah, I know, confusing. I’m not sure why the shawl is structured this way, but I found my solution (which I actually borrowed from others who had run into the same problem) to be quite satisfactory. It may not be a “true” 100% Ishbel, but it’s mine, and I love it.

Thanks to Geoff for being my personal photographer today!

January 20, 2010

a new home for Phoebe

Posted in bunny at 12:38 am by peachknits

Over the weekend Z and I built Phoebe a rabbit condo. What’s a rabbit condo? you might ask. And why in the heck does a rabbit need one?

Well, other than the fact that Phoebe is our “only child” and is probably one of the most spoiled bunnies in the world, rabbits who don’t get enough exercise often suffer from malocclusion weak and underdeveloped muscles.  Since I work eight hours a day and five days a week and Z has a new job and full time school, we didn’t want to leave our bun alone in the apartment in a cage she could hardly stand up in.

So we decided to build her a rabbit condo.

Due to the rise in domestic rabbit ownership in America in the last ten years, the concept of a rabbit condo apparently isn’t wholly unfamiliar, but it certainly was to us. Luckily, after some research on the internets we found a wonderful tutorial that basically spelled it out, from start to finish, step by step.

Here are some pictures of us building it:

And the completed condo. Can you spot the bunny?

The entire project cost us about $100-$200 less than a “professional” rabbit condo would have, and it was fun to build, besides. Who knew we could be so handy with cable ties and wire storage cubes?

Okay, I know some of you are probably like “That Peach, she is so crazy for that rabbit. Man, is that rabbit spoiled.” And you know what? You’d be absolutely right.

But look at that bunny. How could you resist?

Edit (1/26/2010): Malocclusion is actually a term that describes misaligned teeth. While this is also a malady that besets rabbits, it is not the same as weakened muscles, obviously. I regret the error.

January 17, 2010

the philosophy of selfish knitting

Posted in knitting at 12:18 am by peachknits

Hello all.

I’ve been cooped up since mid-Friday with a nasty stomach virus that is, in a word, gross. I’ve since recovered slightly, at least enough to write a post.

Today I want to talk a little about selfish knitting.

I came across the philosophy of selfish knitting in a group on Ravelry. See, ever since other people–my mom, my sister, my friends, everyone–found out that I had taken up knitting, the requests started pouring in:

“Could you make me XXX?”

“You know, I’ve been needing a new XXX.”

“Now that you’ve made me XXX, make me XXX plzthx.”

At first, I was happy to oblige. I had started a new craft that I was proud of, and I wanted to show it off. The first Christmas after I began knitting, I made my sister a scarf, my mom a pair of socks, my aunt a cowl and my then-boyfriend a hat. I stressed over patterns, did more than ample research on each project, bought designer yarn, and knitted the items. All told, this process started in October and ended very early on Christmas morning, where I remember knitting feverishly in my closet at 4:00am before giving up and wrapping up the mostly finished scarf for my sister, needle still attached.

I remember distinctly my feeling of disappointment when I discovered much later that the very same scarf was worn maybe once or twice, then given away to someone else. The socks I had labored and obsessed over were subsequently washed (I can still picture myself in slow motion running towards the washing machine: “Noooooo! Not the wooooool!) and shrunken to a size not even baby feet could hope to fit into. Cry.

I’m not sure what fate befell the cowl. The hat, thankfully, was duly appreciated, and for all I know, could still be in active use.

I would like to note right now, before I sound like too much of a Grinch, that I do enjoy knitting for others. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone wear and cherish an item that you’ve poured time and love into. You can tell when they really, really love it. It’s when they don’t (i.e. discarding, mistreating, washing in hot water) that it starts to get old. So when I discovered the Selfish Knitters on Ravelry, I found myself totally relating to their philosophy.

The mantra of the Selfish Knitter (borrowed from the group’s page):

  1. We only knit for ourselves and for people who bless us and hand us boxes of expensive chocolates! Or money.
  2. Some people need to learn gratitude or face the wrath of our flinging needles of Death!
  3. Selfish Knitters are people who love and value themselves.
  4. The person I knit for knows how to appreciate a knitted item–ME!
  5. By uber-KALing, selfish knitters can multiply the amount of attention they get for each project.
  6. Everybody should be loved. But some people are greeting-card-love-worthy and some people are handmade-socks worthy.

So I decided to turn over a new leaf this past Christmas season. I would only knit a few Christmas gifts, and they would only go to people who truly valued them, and had demonstrated in the past that they knew how to take care of their knits, and thank me profusely for them. After all, knitting is a time-gobbling, sometimes frustrating, extremely involved hobby. You can’t just pick it up overnight and be great at it (in fact, I still consider myself a novice after three years!) You can’t just knit a scarf in an hour (okay, maybe, but only if it’s Cascade Magnum on size 17 needles). And if you’re any kind of yarn snob (and I so am), the costs are usually upwards of $20-40, or even more, per gift.

Being a selfish knitter isn’t easy. A lot of people in your life will assume that, just because you knit, you exist to knit for other people. That just isn’t true! Being a successful selfish knitter sometimes requires the ability to just say, blatantly, “No.”

So I’m working on it. I feel that I made some great strides this past Christmas, and the people I did end up knitting for were really grateful, and let me know it. Which made me feel really awesome. And now I have time to devote towards projects of my own…which is really the best part of being a selfish knitter in the first place!

A side note: if you’re a knitter and you’re not on Ravelry, I don’t know what you’re waiting for! It’s a wonderful, addictive site, filled with patterns, information, and resources for knitters and crocheters at every level of experience. Check it out.)

January 12, 2010

the FOs i’m most proud of

Posted in knitting at 4:53 pm by peachknits

I’m stuck at home because of the bad weather (oh, the travesty!) so I thought this would be an opportune time to write a post that’s actually related to  the general theme of this blog.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I present to you the knitted items I’m most proud of.

1) Swallowtail Shawl

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock

Started: January 25, 2009

Finished February 20, 2009

Notes: This was one of the fasted knitted projects I have ever completed. It was definitely a case of perfect yarn meets superb pattern. Noro is always a pleasure to knit (especially Silk Garden…I think I’m addicted to the stuff) and the lace was easy to memorize and seemed to flow naturally. I also replaced the nupps in the pattern with beads, and I’m so glad I did: the results were absolutely gorgeous, and I get the most compliments from this added variant.

2) Buttony Sweater

Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Brush Solid

Started: December 2007

Finished: December 2007

Notes: Ah, the first sweater. What a milestone! This pattern was a top-down raglan with minimal instruction: more of a tutorial or guide than an actual pattern. It required me to do some research on sweater construction, and helped me learn how to read my knitting better. Plus, it’s the plushiest, softest yarn I could find, meaning that wearing it feels like being surrounded by a whole flock of alpacas!

3) Anemoi Mittens

Yarn: Sandnes Garn Lanett

Started: November 2007

Finished: January 2008

Notes: Sigh. These mittens were my one great love. As my second attempt at colorwork knitting, they turned out lovely, and were so warm and soft. Unfortunately, after several subsequent moves these mittens somehow got lost in the shuffle. I’m still meaning to make another pair. Until then, the mourning continues….

Edit: This post sat in my draft pile all weekend because I was busy with Super Family Crisis (resolved, thankfully) and Rabbit Getting Spayed (she’s fine). I can’t promise this won’t happen again, but I’ll try my best to prevent it.

January 6, 2010

wonderful news

Posted in good news at 9:25 pm by peachknits

So I have really really wonderful super fantabulous news: Z has a new job!

Z has been unemployed since May of last year. We started dating shortly after he was laid off; our first conversation involved me telling him that I was sorry he lost his job. We haven’t let it define our relationship, but it’s certainly been an aspect of it. Part of the challenge has been finding inexpensive or free dates to go on…in a way, it’s a lot like being back in college. Z kept himself up and running by applying for a bazillion positions (to no avail for a looooong time), living off his student loans and giving me smooches rather than flowers. I think I admire him the most for not losing his cool in a very troublesome and depressing situation. He’s the best.

That’s us on Halloween last year. Ironically, he went as the Monopoly man.

I know there are so many people out there right now without a job. One of the girls I worked with (with whom I am still good friends) was laid off in October and still hasn’t found anything. Every day I am reminded of how lucky I am just to have a job at all.

Advice for those of you still muddling through the mire of unemployment: keep busy. Apply for everything you can. Don’t fall into a cycle of doubt and depression and low self-esteem. Although I realize that these things aren’t easy to master, and that unemployment is downright terrifying, as well as damaging to both your stress level and your wallet, just remember that things do get better. Nothing stays bad forever.

I feel like I should somehow tie this whole thing into a fantastic knitting analogy, but…I got nothin’. Just suffice it to say that I wanted to share a bright spot of my life with the world (or whoever cares enough to read) and to shed a little hope for those individuals who may need it. If you are one of those people, may good news come swiftly to your inbox.

a new year, suddenly

Posted in knitting at 2:27 am by peachknits

And suddenly, it was 2010.

I look back at 2009 and feel exhausted. You know that feeling you get when you’ve worked really hard all day and you fall into bed and your muscles are sore but it feels sooooo good? That’s how I feel about the previous year. It’s brought some big changes in my life. I got a new job. I moved into a new apartment. I fell in love with Z. There’s a part of me that’s simply astounded at how quickly the year has gone by; what the hell happened to these months, these hours and minutes?!

Part of the reason I started this blog was to keep better track of my life, starting with my biggest obsession: knitting. A little backstory: I’ve been knitting for over three years. I was taught by my best friend’s mother (actually, I learned the knit stitch on my own, but she helped me with purling). My first FO was an Official Kittyville Hat from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n’ Bitch. It was a horrible combination of poor yarn choice (fluffy, floppy pink alpaca) and beginner’s folly (mistakes, mistakes galore). But it was a starting point, and I haven’t looked back since. Three years later, and I have a stash the size of Montana (Z once said that I had enough yarn to knit Mother Earth a sweater), a fetish for alpaca-silk blends and an unabashed fondness for shawls and lace.

This blog will be a record of my knitting adventures, yarn fiascoes, pattern snafus, personal triumphs and knitting-related job happenings. My ego tells me that, with a million of these things floating around on the internet, no one will probably ever read any of this. But that’s okay. For right now, and for an indeterminate time into the future, this is for me.