Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oops, I cast on something else.

So the other day I realized that none of my projects are portable. And by portable, I mean that the boyfriend's socks failed at life, I'm up to the fingers on the cabled gauntlets, and I decided to change the stitch pattern on the Ellen scarf. Rrrrrrgh. So, being the resourceful knitter I am, I tore through my stash to find something handpainted and socky, to cast on right now. And I did. And I got through a repeat and a half of a 48-row pattern: the Rib Fantastic pattern from the fabulous new book, Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarns.

And then I put it on my foot and realized it was waaay tooo big.


But it ended up being a good thing, because I cast on again with 6 fewer stitches, which killed the fledgling little pools of color. Seriously, I have not seen a single puddle in this whole sock so far. Which makes it really hard to put down, which is bad, considering that I have an exam in inorganic chemistry on Friday. D'oh.

The yarn is some Claudia's Handpainted from my stash, in the colorwar Ingrid's Blues. I love the stitch definition and softness of this yarn - it's springy, but still feels strong. Also, I'm finding that the 2.5 mm Crystal Palace needles I bought over the summer are immensely useful - they are the perfect balance between US 1s and 2s; the stitch they create is neither too large or too squeezed. I would definitely buy another set.

I'm calling the socks Margaret on Ravelry, after my mother's best friend who sadly passed away last winter. She was born in the 1920s in New Mexico, and I always loved the paintings of the desert and pueblos she had on her walls when I was a kid.

Another project I've been working on is reorganizing my room. My roommate, Emily, left for India for the semester, so I bought out the other half of the room so that I could have a super single. It's really nice to have so much space, and although I miss having a roommate, I really couldn't ask for a nicer room to live in. And, along with reorganizing my room, I reorganized my stash. It gets its own little closet - aww!

I've been making an effort to not buy yarn lately. I have so many wonderful things in my stash, and I want to knit all of them! I have a few skeins of yarn in Seattle, too, but nothing too drastic. I have enough yarn for 2 sweaters and several garments, as well as a crapton of sock yarn, and I'm getting to the point where it feels a little bloated. Also, a couple of pairs of handknit socks have bitten the dust in the last couple weeks, so that motivates me a little to finish more socks.

Which is why I should go and study crystal lattices now, so I can procrastinate by finishing that sock. Ehhhh!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A cheeky little vest...

So I finished this one a while ago, but wasn't really inspired to take pictures of it until this afternoon. It's the Back-To-School U-Neck vest from Fitted Knits, and although I didn't love it at first, my heart has definitely warmed to it since it flew off the needles back in November. Maybe it's the red. Maybe I was just feeling ugly the first time I wore it, and so I thought that it looked bad and unflatterng. Or, maybe I've just accepted the fact that I really like vests.

I wore it to work this afternoon, and felt very sassy running around the building with my walkie-talkie, red vest, pearls, and black kitten-heel flats. A word about those, though - I've managed to go through all of my clean socks, so I was wearing a) flats, b) with no socks, c) in weather that clocked in at a whopping 18 degrees Fahrenheit. I really need to learn how to embrace the knitwear love, or else I'm going to freeze my butt off.

So the specs on this project:
Yarn: Cascade 220
Yardage: A little less than 3 balls, so probably about 600 yards.
Needles: Size 8 Addi Turbo, as well as size 7 for the armholes and neckline (I think?).
Mods: I made a couple of very slight modifications to the pattern. I wanted the bust increases to match, so I think I shifted one of the increases over to the left. It didn't make a huge difference; I just cast off a different number of stitches for the neckline, and the numbers matched up again. I also didn't purl as many rounds when I picked up for the neckline and armholes and used a tighter gauge, as I had heard from a friend who knit the same vest that the neckline didn't have enough structure on larger needles.

The end result? I got several compliments on this one today, at least two from non-knitters. This particular vest feels like it needs a button-down shirt underneath, but I wear them pretty frequently anyhow. I love the color. Overall, it's a great basic handknit and layering piece, especially in the Midwestern winter!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's day came late this year

But oh baby, I'm in love.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So, I went on vacation(ish)...

So, to begin with: Bali was amazing.

The first night after we flew into Denpasar, we stayed at a hotel called Puri Bebengan, in Ubud, Bali. We were all really tired, after 12 hours of flying and dealing with passports and new money. But that first night, driving to the hotel in the dark with the hot air blowing in through the windows of the van, Bali seemed magical. The unbelievable greenness of everything, the geckos on the walls and their strange clicks, the open rooms and damp gray sheets, and the stray cats and dogs that resided on the front stoop of almost every temple and store on the lane.

This is the bungalow that Becca and I shared on the first day of the trip. I woke up around 6 in the morning, when it was still pitch black outside. After the sun came up, I went out to the porch to see this:

At this point, I figured that if my backyard was this interesting, I might as well check out the rest of the place.

This pool was advertised on the front of the bungalows, but none of us were ever brave enough to actually jump in. When we returned to the hotel on the last day of our trip, I was sitting by the pool around midnight when I noticed an entire bush full of lightning bugs on the other side of the wall.

And this is the front lobby of the hotel. There's a little orange cat that came and hung out with us while we ate breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee. All of the animals on both Bali and Nusa Penida were not considered pets, so most of them were feral and mean. I noticed, though, that cats especially stay very small. This cat was the size of a normal 6-month old kitten, but I'm fairly sure it was full-grown.

After spending a day on Bali, we took a boat like this over to Nusa Penida. I'm not sure if this is the specific boat (probably not, since it's empty) but all of the boats we went on were about this size, fishing boats with big outriggers on the sides. The metal island out in the water is a diving station for Japanese tourists. It's slightly creepy-looking because every time we passed it, it was empty. As we learned, Nusa Penida is surrounded by coral reefs, sharks, and....

Oh hey, guys, dolphins! We got to see dolphins during a boat trip around the island, which was awesome. I've loved dolphins ever since I was a kid, so seeing a pod of bottlenoses made my inner five-year-old incredibly happy. But I'm jumping ahead.

We were picked up at the port on Nusa by a driver named Lindra and a guy named Maldi/Camang, who, along with a guy named Robet, ended up being our translators and guides for the rest of the trip. They drove us up to Mark's house, which was our kitchen and occasional medical facility for the rest of the trip.

The view from Mark's porch was pretty amazing.

The rain rolled in every morning around 10, although sometimes it held off until mid-afternoon. It usually only lasted a few hours, though, and then we could go swimming or go to the village. We soon learned that Bali time is heavily dependent on the weather.

One of the coolest things we got to do was go to temple ceremonies at the Hindu temples on the island. Although most of Indonesia is Muslim, Bali and Nusa Penida are Hindu, and there are many temple ceremonies to mark life and community events. We all bought sarongs and sashes at the market on Nusa, and got to participate in prayers. The community was very accepting of us, and one night we even toured the temples on the island with the young people from Tiagan, the village where we were staying.

Me in temple garments (minus sash - bad me!)

Starting on our third day on Nusa, we started staying with homestay families at night. I had a mixed experience, since I speak basically no Indonesian. I never felt as though I communicated very well, but it was incredibly interesting and humbling to sit, watch, and listen as families interacted and went about their daily chores. Every morning, my homestay mothers (we each stayed with 3 different families) would make me breakfast, usually consisting of mi (noodles) and break-your-face-sweet tea and some Bali cakes, which were little flower-shaped cakes filled with tapioca and chocolate and coffee flavoring. I settled into a routine where I went to bed around 9 pm every night and woke around 6 every morning.

Speaking of which, I should head to bed now, but I will have some more pictures and stories to share soon. Sorry for the delay, the semester just started and I'm still settling into my new responsibilities: 2 chemistry classes, 1 Japanese class, 10 hours of work, and teaching a knitting class - whew!

Hope everyone is doing well!