Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where oh where...?

Sorry for the lack of a knitting post yesterday.  I have a comp this Saturday (THIS SATURDAY! D:), a presentation, a paper topic, and lots of Latin and Greek due today.  I'm glad John got his bettas in, even though he is working furiously on his thesis (did you see them?! Aren't they cute?!).  I'll tell you what, after this semester, we deserve a big ol' vacation.  No worries.  We have one lined up! :)

In any case, I was way too embarrassed to show anyone the sad state of my knitting 'nook', which occupies all of my living room.  I have only recently become a stasher and that is only because school has sucked up all of my time and I can't knit as quickly as I buy yarn for specific projects.  Easy fix: I'll catch up this summer.

I also LOVED reading everyone's knitting aspirations. :)  You've inspired me!

Today's prompt, however, wants us to expound on the whereabouts of some of our knitting projects.  Let me tell you!  I don't have a clue.  I'm a selfish knitter and every time I knit something for someone, I wonder why I don't see it more often or hear about it.  Then, I decide not to knit for anyone ever again.  But I do.  And the cycle begins again.  There's a baby blanket and two twin baby hats, an adorable teddy bear (I simply have no way of knowing what has become of that, but I suspect it is very loved), two sweaters, a vest, six scarves (and a lost/stolen one :( ), a pair of gloves, two hats, and two pairs of mittens out in the world.  One pair of mittens was pictured last post, but both pairs are adored.

I've heard talk of one sweater being pretty great.  The other made a surprise appearance when I was home in May or December, as did one scarf, which took me very much by surprise.  It was the second scarf I had ever knit.  I made it for my dad when he bought his mid-life-crisis motorcycle.  That was probably five years ago.  Never saw it.  Never.  Until May, when it magically appeared on his bedroom doorknob.  He never wore it, it just hung there.  Don't know why.  Didn't ask.  But it was there.  And I was happy.  I've used that pattern two or three times more with great acclaim.

Yet again, I'm going to bend the rules and go off on a slightly related tangent.  Just in the last few weeks, I answered a call for knitted donations.  They will be in a dance performance, then they will be donated to the needy.  I gave up two of my least favorite (and worst-fitting) sweaters.  I feel a little bad about giving rejects, but I figure some little girl (I think I mentioned I had gauge/bust measurement issues for a very long time) will like them much more than I.  It was hard, even though I was not fond of the finished objects.  John even tried to talk me out of it, I think.  The girl who accepted them was very, very grateful and made me feel pretty good about it.  I may go to the performance to bid them farewell.

I don't feel particularly attached to things I knit as gifts or on commission, but I knit these sweaters for me and probably wore them a couple of times (even though sadly small...).  I was pretty attached to them.  But as soon as I remembered that I could reknit them and make them even better (like not in Red Heart or flesh-tones), I was comforted.

Would you ever give your old sweaters away?  If you knit yourself a new one just like it, would it be the same?

Thanks again for stopping by.  I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's posts and meeting so many new people!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Betta - Two Months

Before this blog becomes totally consumed with knitting I will insert a quick piece about the progress of my baby bettas. On the first of April they will be two months old! This is an exciting milestone for them, and many of the original batch have survived to reach it.
They are as frisky as ever and have finally reached the long-awaited fighting stage. A few weeks ago I began noticing a few torn fins and knew that they had started to spar. Actually it’s closer to bullying than sparring, as the bigger fish simply pick on the smaller ones. Even though I have doubled the tank from 10 to 20 gallons, there is never enough room for two bettas to co-exist. As long as they know there is another betta in the tank they will seek a knock-down-drag-out fight. Imagine this multiplied by the approximately 100-125 bettas I have in a single tank. Luckily they are still young and really treat each other fine for the most part. However, in a few weeks I will have to begin separating them.

They remain active and eating is still the high point of their day. In the picture you can see them feeding on live brine shrimp. There is significant coloring on some, but not all.
Mostly it tends to be red, black and yellow. Since the parents were yellow and black this is little surprise, although the red was unexpected.
As a side-note, I had another pair spawn a few weeks ago and have a second batch of little bettas. I almost did not notice them in the spawning tank because they were so tiny and because I didn’t think the pair had spawned. There are only about 20-24 but I'm thankful for any successful spawn. Life’s little surprises!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday!  I was pleasantly surprised by the traffic!  Hopefully I can entertain you well enough to keep you coming back. ;)

Today's prompt compels me to define my knitting skill.  I find this quite difficult.  I've been knitting for four years now and I don't feel like there is anything I cannot do.  Does that make me an expert knitter?  I don't think so.  I'm content to call myself intermediate or advanced, I suppose, but the truth is that I can't do anything that no one else can do.  Knitting consists of two stitches: knit and purl.  If you can knit and you can purl, you can do anything from stockinette to stranded knitting.  You can learn all the fancy ways to cast on and bind off, but you can also get through life on just one method.  Last month was the first time I had ever knit a sock using a standard pattern.  People get very anxious about turning a heel.  Really, you just knit, purl, and do as the pattern says.

I suppose it might take some skill to know how to alter a pattern or to realize when the pattern is just not right and figure out how to correct it.  But that's not really skill either.  It's math.  And not very hard math, either, because even I can do it!  I haven't written any patterns, but I could.  I haven't tried entrelac, but I know how it's done.  I use a Norwegian purl instead of the traditional continental purl.  I have no problem with complicated lace.  I can't work two sleeves on two circular needles at the same time, but I can knit one sock inside another on dpns.  It only took me four years to figure out what my bust size is and how to pick the right size for it.  I frog every project at least 3 times before I finally finish it correctly.  So what is my skill level?  Beats me!

I pushed myself in my first couple of years of knitting, so I don't have any aspirations this year.  The only skill I wanted to learn was fair isle, and I achieved that (though I could use much more practice).  I suppose I aspire to enjoy all of my knitting this year, hard or easy. :)

Since I have a few people to interact with now: what is a skill or a project you plan to tackle this year?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

We're kicking off Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011 with a post about yarn (naturally!).  I was inspired by A Playful Day's post, so I'm going to tell you about three instead of two yarns.

Fiber Optica lace
My tale begins in my hometown in Idaho last May.  I don't usually go home in the summertime, but last year, I would have lost my mind if I hadn't.  It just so happened that three wonderful things occurred simultaneously that May: 1) I discovered a local yarn shop in my tiny, tiny town where 2) I heard word of a fiber festival, and 3) my then 8-year-old brother took enormous interest in knitting.  So I took my little brother with me to the fiber festival, just in case there were bunnies, alpacas, or sheep around.  Surprisingly, he was content just to look at all the pretty yarns.  He didn't believe me when I told him he was supposed to pet them!  Long story short, I bought two skeins of lace weight yarn at the festival.  One was natural so that my little brother and I could attempt to Kool-Aid dye it and the other I just had to have.  That never happens to me!  I always buy yarn after I have a project in mind!

Kool-Aid experiment

And lace weight....Really?  Why did I buy lace?  I don't wear shawls, don't even really care for the idea of them (though they look adorable on everyone else, don't get me wrong!).  Turns out, people don't even knit shawls with lace weight anymore.  If I had bought sock yarn, you wouldn't be reading this post today.  But...look at the pretty colors!!!

In any case, I'm not sure what will become of these gems.  I had an original vest idea for the Kool-Aid yarn, but I don't trust it to hold up to that kind of wear, so that's on hold.  I have a green-themed wedding to attend that might agree with a Fiber Optica green shawl, though.  And, although I complained, I have found the perfect pattern for it in the Autumn Arbor Stole, if it will pool properly. :)

And that brings us to yarn number 3: another whim purchase.  I am on Ravelry a lot and sometimes notice pretty advertising banners.  When I noticed the one for a Stellar Sock Club, I had to join!  As you already know, I'm a sucker for amazing hand-dyed yarn.  What you may not know is that I am also a very large sucker for space pictures.  Dye a yarn based on colors in space pictures and I am there!  Even though I don't knit socks....I received my first skein earlier this month.  It is based on Orion's Nebula.  I posted a picture of the hank and goodies a few posts down.  I wasn't in love with the pattern that came with it, so I tried Skew.  The pooling was perfect, but the sock was too small because I modified it (it's a long story which may be detailed in the finished object post, if it ever gets done, but is shown on the right in the photo).  So I reknit using the pattern exactly and got some weird pooling (left).  Now I'm stranding the frogged sock on the left with the frogged sock on the right, haha.  It looks great, so I think it will be worth the effort.

I have a feeling my love of hand-dyed yarns is just going to cause me more pain than pleasure, but hurts so good!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Running Hat

As promised (though not sooner than Friday, as I had hoped):


Pattern: Tetsubou
Yarn: Shibui Knits Sock
Needles: US 4 & 7

I started running in January or February.  The days were often just warm enough for a jog outside, so I took the opportunity when I could.  I have two jackets I love to run in, one with a hood, but no zippers on the pockets, the other with zippers, but no hood!  I was having such trouble keeping my ears warm, that I'm pretty sure I was on the verge of an ear infection more than once.

See the cuddly buns? :)
Then, I found Tetsubou rolling through my friends' favorites on Ravelry and fell in love.  I'm not a hat person, per se, which is why I never wore one running (I didn't have one!).  But this one was perfect!  It's even got the detail for a ponytail!

Needless to say, I whipped it out in a few days and now I wear it as often as possible.  It's been too cold this week to run outside at all, though.  C'mon, Spring!

The yarn is absolutely fantastic!  I bought some Shibui Knits in January on sale from Eat.Sleep.Knit for a sweater and haven't used it yet.  I knew I wanted something slightly variegated and bright for this hat (it is a running hat, after all,  and I tend to run in the evenings).  I looked at all the sock yarns Eat.Sleep.Knit had and stumbled across this one.  It's superwash, stunning, and comes in a 191 yd hank.  Having looked at finished projects on Ravelry, I knew I only needed half a traditional skein of sock yarn.  I had no idea what I would do with 200 left-over yards of sock yarn, so this find was ideal.  And!  It matches my running shoes!  Unintentional, but fun. :)

The pattern is great!  It's very well written.  I confused myself with the distance between the two fold details, but that was because I had my own strange conception of how it should be done and didn't just read the pattern.  It came out great when I finally figured it out, though.

All in all, one of my favorite finished objects to date!  I highly recommend it!

In other news, next week is the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  I'll be posting about knitting stuff each day next week.  John said he would try to get in some fish stuff too.  :)

I should say that I will try to post daily.  Comps start next weekend. :S

Have a great weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I declare today...

Finished Object Friday!!!

I have three, but I will share just one with you today:

Timothy Hay and Fluffy Bunnies

Yarn: Lion Brand LB Collection Baby Alpaca, superwash wool handspun by CompassioKnit (AllisonJai on Ravelry)
Needles: US 5
Project page

In January, I received this lovely hank of green superwash as a swap gift from a fellow Ravelry bunnyowner.  I'm  definitely a sweater-knitter, so I was stumped about what to make with so little wool!  But I found the perfect project in these mitts.  I typically dislike fingerless mitts because my fingers are always cold, not my hands, but I wear these very often.  I did not deviate from the pattern, but I might for my next pair, which will be gifted to my dear friend Anna. :)

The superwash was spun think-and-thin, which created an interesting result in the finished object, especially paired with the mechanically even Lion Brand.  They look as though they were knit by a beginner knitter because they pucker in different ways where the yarn is either thick or thin.  Admittedly, I haven't blocked these guys yet.  I want to, just to see what will happen, but I do fear losing the character a little bit.

So named because the green is about the color of the timothy hay my bunnies eat and the alpaca is the same color of my bunnies.  These are the only garments I own that successful hide the fact that I have messy bunnies, haha.

The handsome leaf belongs to my lovely Spot, the beautiful orchid my boy gave me when my former orchid, Bunny, died.  Spot just gave me some stunning blooms!  I've never had an orchid rebloom.  My green-thumbed, orchid-loving mother would be envious. ;)

Next week (maybe before Friday): A running hat!

Oh!  P.S.! If you want a chance to win a stunning project bag, hop on over to the lovely little blog: A Playful Day.  I have a thing for robots, so that's the guy I'm hoping for. :)  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Betta @ One Month Old

Hi there! My name is Benji and I am trapped in a glass cage. Please send for help so my brothers and sisters and I can escape, ok? Ok!
Juuuust kidding! The babies are healthy, active, and have absolutely no desire to leave their home. Where else can they get all the brine shrimp they can eat?? They are now entering their second month of life and almost all appear to be going strong. Some refuse to grow, while others, like Benji, are growing longer fins and even getting some coloring (notice of the tinge of red).
As of yet there is very little nipping and they appear to live in peace and relative tranquility. This will soon be changing; those outside the glass cage will be keeping a sharp lookout for naughty behavior. Sooner or later, it’ll be panda street fighting. Errr….I mean, betta street fighting. Vanessa showed me a video about pandas, maybe she’ll post the link. In any case, mayhem will break out and I will have to assign the aggressors to solitary confinement. I plan on building another set of barracks (shelves with rows of individual betta containers) to house them. Yes, another set, I already have one that holds approximately 30 bettas but I will need much more housing than that!
The days tend to remain fairly routine and lazy for the fry. Some like to exercise from time to time by zipping back and forth (they are fast!) but mainly they just look forward to their next meal. Water changes tend to make them a little angry because of the swirling water but they soon become happy because, well, fresh water makes fish happy! And happy fish make everyone happy! OK, just the cool people happy. Ok, just me :)
Although I cannot promise when the next update will be, I feel confident that we will be hearing from Benji again. That troublemaking fish . . .

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finished Objects

I has them!  Just not any pictures!  YET!  I was all excited to update you with my two latest projects, but as I sat down to write this, I realized I haven't woven in the ends on one or sewn buttons to the other and, therefore, have no pictures of either!  I have loads of good news, though:

Shibuiknits Merino Kid
1) I've finally, officially, and wonderfully figured out my camera and have some great in-progress photos for you.
Here we have a sneak peak (pre-camera figuring out and button band redoing) of my cousin's adorable cardi, some fingerless mitts made from Bunny Swap handspun and leftover alpaca, and a scrumptious pile of yarn that's been staring me down for weeks.  I can't start the sweater just yet, though!  Soon.  Very soon.

2) I received a delicious delight in my mailbox yesterday afternoon!
I joined a sock club on a whim.  I don't knit socks.  I don't feel any desire to do so.  BUT when hand-dyed sock yarn (my favorite kind of dyed!) meets space photography (my favorite kind of photography!)...who am I to refuse!  Here it is: Holiday Yarns' first Stellar Sock Club kit!  Isn't it beautiful?!  It came with a pattern and some stitch markers.  I don't think I'll use this pattern, but I haven't decided yet.   I can't wait for next month's installment!
Orion's Nebula

3) John's little bettas are really growing up big and adorable (and I have some super pics of them for him to share with you later).

4) The bunnies are doing well.  They are money pits, but they are fine.  Spike got a little sick last weekend, so now he is on precautionary antibiotics.  Sweetpea has been battling sores on her feet.  They aren't sores anymore (they never got quite that bad, to be fair), just bald, tender areas that I have to keep clean until the hair grows back.  I hope it does!  She won't wear booties well!  She's so needy, my dear handicapable bunny...but I love her so.

Soon!  I promise finished objects very soon!  Thanks for stopping by anyway!

EDITED: because there were WAY too many pictures.  I'm still figuring out this blogging thing.