Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Scarf, and Unimportant Decisions...

Well, I am now happily mired in the third week of semester, and lo and behold, my head has not yet exploded. Though that said, I have been suffering from an unusual amount of headaches this week, so perhaps it's only a matter of time before said explosion occurs. Note to self: remove all easily stained items from desk before starting homework.

Whinging aside, I finally finished the scarf I was making:

Details: Pattern is Wisp, by Cheryl Niamath (Knitty, Summer 2007). Yarn used was Moda Vera Boutique (a wool/mohair/soy blend), and the needles I employed for this merry undertaking were a pair of 6mm plastic straights.

The blathering commences: For some reason known only to the gods of retail therapy, I keep buying mohair yarn. This makes no sense at all, because I really don't like mohair. Fluffy is just not my thing - never has been. Yet for some reason I bought two balls of the aforementioned yarn. I think that the colours might have had something to do with it, and true enough, I do like the colours of this project. Just not the fibre content. At any rate, I started this project specifically to use up the yarn, and thankfully, a friend of mine saw me knitting away in that slavish way that I have, and exclaimed over the developing scarf. I believe my reaction "Awesome. Do you want it? Please take it! Really, please! Oh won't you please say that you'll take it?" Thankfully she acquiesed.

That rant aside, this is a very nice pattern. It's straightforward, and would be a great project for someone who wanted to learn the basics of lace, as well as getting the hang of thinner yarn on larger needles. And the finished product is nice enough, for all that it's not my thing. I can see why this one is so popular. Oh, and the only modification I made was to work a couple more repeats of the pattern, since the whole purpose of this project was to Use Up The Hateful Mohair - I didn't want any leftover!

So now everyone lives happily ever after. I got rid of the troublesome yarn that was clogging up my collection and sewing the seeds of dissent amongst my lovely wools, silks and cottons. My friend Zia gets a scarf. Everyone wins. See this picture? This is me winning!

In other crafty news, my Sylvi coat is gradually getting there. Look, see (and please excuse the scary pink tufts of waste yarn - they will be gone soon enough!):

I can probably finish the back in a night or two if I really put in the effort. And after that the sides should go pretty quickly - after all, they're just moss stitch, so I can do them on the bus/train/tram/hovercraft, etc. Good thing too - I really need to get on with this one if I want to get any wear out of it this year. I have issued Rebecca with strict orders to kick my arse if I haven't finished it by the time she gets to Melbourne in a couple of week's time... So there's my deadline! Wish me luck!

As for the decision alluded to in the title? Well, I can't decide whether I want cupcakes, pancakes, or gingerbread. The upside of cupcakes is that they'll be quickest. But I just bought some new (real) maple syrup, so pancakes are calling too. Gingerbread will take the longest, but it will also last longer than the other two. Hmmmm.... Or perhaps I should just do my homework like the good little non-disgraceful law student that I am...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Help - My Life is Being Devoured! Oh, and I Made Stuff Too...

Wow - I have no idea where the last few weeks have gone. Devoured by the great twin time-sinkholes of university and the internet, I suppose. Such is life.

So what have I been up to? Ummm, lots of things! I have been playing nicely with the other children. I have been blazing trails, picking battles wisely, and doing my best to eat enough vegetables. I have been working away busily on my Sylvi. I have been cultivating a dreadful addiction to Etsy. All the usual things, really.

On the craft front: I finished Richard's Canada scarf. No brother of mine shall have a cold neck, if I have anything to say about it! He's already worn in, and given it the thumbs up:

Vital statistics: Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf by Jared Flood. Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Aran, one skein each of 'Charcoal' and 'Noir'. Needles: 4.5mm bamboo straights.

That stuff wot I thought about it: This pattern is awesome. I mean, obviously it would have been awesome-er if I'd actually used Noro yarn, but this was for Richard and I couldn't really see him being willing to wear a rainbow striped scarf, so sombre shades it was. That said, this pattern is still great even in comparatively boring and tasteful colours - the way that the slipped stitches hide the yarn being carried up the side for the colour changes makes me very happy indeed. I may make another one of these at some stage - the small stripes are surprisingly addictive.

And now I just need to furnish the brother-thing with a hat and gloves before he leaves. In three weeks time. Hmmm, better get cracking on that...

In other crafty news, I did some more natural dyeing. I made a second attempt with eucalyptus, trying a few different things this time (using rain water, soaking the leaves first, cooking the yarn for longer, etc), and subsequently got a gratifyingly different shade from last time. This batch still came out brown, but it was a yellow tinged brown (on the left in the photo below) that was a distinctively warm colour, as opposed to the cool purplish brown I got with the last lot (centre front below). I'm quite happy with it - it's a lovely colour in a subtle way.

I also tried dyeing with rhododendron leaves, since I'd read that they could be used for such things, and I had some readily available in the garden. I wasn't expecting too much from them, since I didn't have any proper mordants to use and had to make do with vinegar. I am pleased to report that rhododendron leaves smell thoroughly revolting when they're being simmered. But I did get some colour. Not much - just the faintest tinge of light green (you can see below - it's the small ball in the middle), but it was still colour, so I was pleased.

Also, I baked the best garlic bread ever. Seriously, it is all downhill from here. The recipe was from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and it contains four heads (yes, that's heads, not cloves) of garlic. Indeed. Before anyone keels over and dies at the prospect, it's not actually that scary. The garlic is roasted for nearly an hour, so that it gets nice and mellow. Then you puree it with parsley and olive oil and merrily slather it all over a basic focaccia dough. It was ridiculously tasty. I will admit that you suffer from pretty killer garlic breath for a good three hours after eating it, but hey, there have to be up-sides to tragic singlehood, right? This is definitely one of them! I love Nigella Lawson so much - she rarely steers you wrong...

Yumbo. And now I'm wondering if it's feasible to make this again this evening. Preferably with a big vat of fresh vegetable soup. Hmmm... If anyone wants me, I will be rummaging frantically through my cupboard, or possibly raiding the supermarket with rabid enthusiasm...