Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Wear a Nebula

Image from Beata at Hedgehog Fibers 
I knit Mama, I Saw the Stars Tonight (pattern Abalone) about a year ago. I adore it. As you can see in project page photos (first link, they are so terrible I'd rather not post them here), I stole the styling from the designer (at right). That's how I ALWAYS wear it. It's the styling I'd always like to wear. But, I must try to push myself out of comfort and into improvement, as kiki so nicely put it, and find a sort of new way to wear it.

Now, mind you, I have no money to improve my wardrobe until September or even October, so I have to work with what I've got. Tell me what you think of this:

So it's not really that different, but it's a start. I hope. The top is from Avon, the jeans from Aeropostale (like all my jeans), and the necklace is an heirloom from my mother that I wear all the time.

Damn! This is tough! I've already got an outfit (and a better lit backdrop) in mind for next month, though, so it can only go up from here. If you'd like to show me how you wear your knits or tell me how to wear mine, let me know in the comments section with a link or suggestion. I'd love to see your style!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Bit Rambling...

Look! John finally posted! Woohoo! I have to say that I really love to go down to the fish room and peek at all the fishies. Baby angelfish are soooooo cute!

In other news, thanks for all the kind comments (as usual!) on my last post! I used to knit sleeves two-at-a-time when I was still knitting them flat. Now that I only knit them in the round (the sleeve seam is the worst to seam! and I like to seam!), I can't magic loop more than one thing at a time and have to do them separately. I received new Stellar Sock Yarn yesterday and think I'll do another pair of Skew with it, so I will attempt to do two socks at a time when it's turn comes around. The only thing that has kept me from doing that until now has been my laziness. I just haven't gotten around to getting a US 1 circular. That and Thelonious is cuff-down and I'd rather start with toe-up. Speaking of, my friend linked me a pair of toe-up socks with a regular heel flap! Too cool! Thanks so much, Eliza!

Now down to business:

Thelonious Andromeda

Pattern: Thelonious by Cookie A.
Yarn: Jennifer's Flocksock Sock Yarn by Holiday Yarns
Needles: US 1
Pattern Page

Firstly, pardon the terrible project naming. I couldn't decide whether to call it Thelonious from the pattern or Andromeda from the colorway, so I went with both. This is the first sock I haven't waffled about what pattern to use or restarted more than once. As soon as I saw the pattern on Rav, I bought the book and wound Andromeda. The pattern was really tricky to begin with. There are a lot of stitch markers and they all change names or need to be removed or something and I wasn't very good at keeping track. Once I figured out where and how the pattern was moving, I had no trouble whatsoever. I hardly referenced the pattern at all while knitting the second sock. The way the yarn's colors come out in this pattern is so pretty! I hope I've captured the blue and the purple in my photos (the really crappy one at the end is for color correctness).

I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was knitting these as part of a knit-a-long in a Harry Potter group on Ravelry. I've always been indifferent about Harry Potter. I tried to read it in high school and failed. I got a bit over halfway through it, couldn't get into it and yanked the bookmark out. I've never done that without revisiting the book. Since then, I've kinda liked the movies, but had only seen the first two and half of the third. Turns out, John loves the movies. Naturally, when the last one came out, he somehow convinced me to watch every movie and go with him. I'm going to blame the great knits on my new-found love of all things Harry Potter. I'm by no means obsessed (and believe me, I know a few who qualify), but I did find the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup on Ravelry and was immediately enamored. You enroll in courses and produce a knit object on the theme once a month for three months. When you complete knits (or crochet items), your house gets points. They are sorting now, I think, so get in there if you can! It's so incredibly well organized that my mind is blown. I can't go all out in it this semester, but maybe next. In the meantime, I did find the audio books (read by Stephen Fry!), and I think that will go more smoothly than trying to read them again.

Do you see the purple?!?
There. It's a kind of nerd I'm not used to being, but now it's out there. :) In the same post, I mentioned doing a shawl with the Milky Way colorway. It's next in line for the knitting and I think I've decided to do Cladonia. It's had my eye for a while. I have some leftover Tosh Sock from Prairie Grass that should contrast/compliment Milky Way nicely. The catch is that I only have 31g left and I need 50g! If my striped swatch works out, I'll have to see if anyone in the Madtosh forum has 20g left over, because of course she discontinued that colorway. :P

That's enough rambling for one day. Tune in tomorrow to critique my lazy styling and head over to Tami's blog now for more FO-Friday posts! Thanks for reading (and putting up with all these links)!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rise of the Angelfish

And you were starting to think this was a blog about knitting only! OK, that was a fair assumption considering my lack of updates. However, I will try to post more about my fish operation since it is starting to pick up quite a bit.

The saga of my baby bettas continues. Almost none (!) of them have died in the last few months and I have split them up between the new barracks system I built (see picture) and the 20 gallon community tank.

The barracks system is capable of holding 100 bettas (although it only holds about 50 now) and is complete with biological and ultraviolet filtration. One reason it has worked so well is the many lessons I carried over from the smaller system I constructed a year ago. I have also learned that bettas grow at a PAINFULLY slow rate after the first two months. It is one reason why I have shifted my focus to another graceful fish that occupies my fishroom in ever growing numbers: angelfish.

When I say growing numbers, I mean it. Back in January and February I had a total of six (three pairs) of angels occupying three separate ten gallon tanks in the fishroom. Now I have no less than 11 tanks with a combined 160 gallons and, including juveniles and fry, at least 150 angels. This remarkable transformation was sparked when one of the pairs started to spawn consistently every few weeks.

I then invested in two pairs of Koi angels (see picture). One pair has been productive while the other has yet to spawn. I am still learning the best methods of hatching and raising the fry. Often the mature pair will lay 150-200 eggs. Out of those I have been lucky if 20 survive infancy. However, with ever-improving techniques I am having luck raising the mortality rate considerably.

Besides the two strains I have been maintaining (wild/black and silver stripes, and koi) I have been trying to add a black strain and a gold strain. I purchased ten juveniles of each strain and am hoping to get two spawning pairs from each. As you can see from the pictures, I have also dedicated myself to making the aquariums more aesthetically pleasant.

The benefits of this include better water quality (the plants soak up pollutants), a better environment for the fish to frolic in, and it also makes walking into the fishroom a relaxing experience that re-creates an aquatic experience like Shedd Aquarium in which the natural environment is simulated as much as possible.

In upcoming posts I will detail the life of a baby angelfish and the struggles associated with growing them to healthy juveniles.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Second Sock

I often dread second sock (or sleeve, more often) syndrome, and so, tend to put off starting the second longer than necessary. What I never remember is that the second always goes so much faster than the first because I know the pattern and knit with speedy confidence. That's what happened here. I totally could have had these socks done last week, but I spent time on my Breezy cardigan, reading for school, prepping for the return to school (:S), doing housework, and generally ignoring the second sock. I'm pleased to say that I am officially officially moved in! Everything's in its place and the house looks like I've lived here all along. Unfortunately, my desk needs work, but as it has always been a catch-all, I doubt that will change much. As long as I can grade there when the time comes, I'll be happy.

I'll have the socks done to share on Friday and I'll share my Harry Potter tale too (it's really not that exciting, but it is relevant), as per request. ;) Also, this Saturday I'll make my first attempt at a style post. I bought a tripod that has already done wonders for my photography skills, so balancing my camera on books and stuff won't be such a pain and a detriment to my already shaky willingness to photograph myself.

For more WIP-Wednesday posts, go visit Tami!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I've never immersed myself in an obsession over fashion, but kind of kept my finger on the pulse of it. I consider myself fashionable, or fashion-conscious in any case, as I'm not really a practitioner of fashion. I was quick to recognize that Uggz are Uggz-ly  but I wore knee-high sock cuffs as sleeves for about two years in high school and college, for example. That was my punk/indie phase. That phase gradually faded into the kind of indie that distinguishes herself by skinny jeans and band/silly graphic T-shirts. And hoodies. I love me some hoodies.

Last year, I realized that I'm in grad school and I need a new look. That was when I began knitting garments that I'd actually wear and look good in instead of just the novel (and sometimes questionable) patterns. Between those sweaters and tops, I'm still a jeans and band shirts girl, though. Those are the days I still look like I'm in high school.

John had mentioned to me a couple weeks ago that he wants to reinvent his look for his life as a Master's-yielding Ph.D. student. I thought that was a great idea and that I should finally do something about my look too (I'd hate to look trashy next to my handsome guy!). Right about that time, my Ravelry friend Eliza did a 30-day challenge on her blog where she chose 30 items of clothing and had to mix and match them for a different look every day. I loved seeing her inspirations and how she pulled them off herself. I considered doing it myself, but there are only so many ways to wear jeans and a tee, haha. What I did instead was looked at my wardrobe and noted the stuff I wear all the time. I decided on the look I'm aiming for: I can keep the colorful tees, lose the graphics, and accentuate with knits and jewelry (which I have a lot of but never, ever wear). Sounds good. We'll see how it pans out.

This has been a very long-winded attempt to say that, inspired by ifandany as well as the Sartorialist and My Closet in Sketches, my own attempt to look like a twenty-five-year-old grad student, and constant forum questions on Ravelry about how to wear/style knitwear, I'm going to try (this is an operative word here) to do some kind of style post one Saturday a month showing how I wear my knits (and to help me find my style sense). Now I hope that I might inspire/help some folks, but I'll really be seeking help from you all. After all, I might look TERRIBLE and who would tell me? No one. I went through high school without anyone telling me how foolish I looked in my sock sleeves. :) It could be fun to involve more people (like FO-Friday does, for example) because I could always (and do) benefit from seeing how other people wear their knits too. Now I'm thinking out-loud. I'll cross one bridge at a time and put a back cover on this book.

Do you feel like you need some pointers on how to wear knits? Do you have pointers you'd like to share? Would this all bore you terribly (you can be honest!)?

Thanks for reading all my ramblings and for any feedback you offer! Now back to knitting!

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Socks!

Maybe you've noticed, but I'll confess if you haven't: I have no idea how to photograph socks. Today's pictures are sub-par too, so please forgive me. I may have to start enlisting John as designated sock photographer. Without further ado:


PatternTDTU Vanilla Sock
YarnHoliday Yarns Jennifer's Flocksock Sock Yarn
Needles: US 1
Project page

As I mentioned yesterday, I got this yarn in a sock club package. The package included beads and a pattern for the yarn. It's a beautiful pattern. I really liked knitting it, but when I tried it on, it just wasn't me. I frogged it and went with a plain stockinette sock. I decided to use up every yard of it, and I did! I randomly placed the beads to look like star bursts or something. I like it! The beads are supposed to go on the outer leg (as pictured), but as it happens, the right sock fits my left foot better and vice versa.

The pattern is pretty good. It goes on feel more than measurement, but it's not hard by any means. I'm not crazy about the toe-up heel flap. It doesn't look very tidy. I love toe-up socks and I like the look of heel flaps. There must be a way to do a top-down heel flap on a toe-up sock. I do like short-row heels (but definitely not boomerang heels!), so I can't complain too much.

Thanks for coming by! Check out Tami's blog for more FO Friday posts!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stellar Indeed!

I've been meaning for ages to show you the beautiful yarn I've been receiving from Holiday Yarns in the Stellar Sock Club. It's a club which sends out yarn dyed based on Hubble telescope photos. I love to knit and I love space pictures, so it was a must! It's just the sock part that's caused me some trouble. I don't knit socks. But, I have changed my ways (if only for the club and the love of my life). Orion's Nebula was the first installment. Tomorrow's Fomalhaut was the second. I can't wait to show the finished socks to you!

I cast on a pair of Cookie A. socks in Andromeda last night to participate in a sock knit-along on Ravelry in a Harry Potter group (that's a story for another day :) ). The pattern is Thelonious and it requires sooooo much attention! I don't know if I've ever struggled with a pattern so much, but it's coming out beautifully. The picture here of the yarn does not do it justice. It's blue with a purple overwash. So pretty! :)

I can't wait to use Milky Way. The colors are amazing. I considered doing a shawl with it instead of socks, but...I don't know! What do you think? The colors are subtle enough that I could try a patterned sock, but I'm also not adverse to either another pair of Skew or plain stockinette socks. I've also been queuing shawls like a mad woman, but most are striped and I don't have any yarn (or money to buy yarn) to compliment it. I've got time to think about it (and to browse any suggestions you might have! ;) ).

In conclusion, check out Holiday Yarns! She has some beautiful stuff and some cool clubs besides this one (you'd think that I'd have joined the Greek Mythology Lace Club, being a classicist, but I'm a bigger space nerd, I guess). Pardon my blog barraging. :) I'll make the boy show you his baby angels very soon. They are so stinkin' cute!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Breeze

This summer has been brutally hot, so to start a sweater seems a little crazy, but it's a very light, lace-weight sweater. It's Hannah Fettig's Breezy Cardigan. I found some Malabrigo Lace at a local yarn shop much cheaper than I ever would have expected, so I snatched it up! I hate that it's single ply, but it's so soft! It hasn't fallen apart and it was easy to wind, so it's still in the running for my new favorite yarn.

Of course I have a dk-weight sweater still on the needles. It only needs sleeves and seams, I think, but it's just too hot. I also just joined a sock knit-along, so my sock knitting streak shall live on. Stay tuned Friday for my newest pair of socks!

Check out Tami's blog for more WIP Wednesday posts!