Knitting for the Sci-Fi Geek

Maybe it’s the fact that the new Star Trek movie is now out in theaters, but my mind has been drifting off to galaxies far, far away.    Or maybe it’s the fact that my front yard has taken on the appearance of the moon’s surface, with freshly dug craters and little guys in neon orange bibs popping out like groundhogs that has me wondering when the new season of Dr. Who will pop up on the Sci-Fi channel.  By the way, I’m not kidding about the yard.  Apparently, our yard is going to be one of the “hubs” for the FiOS cable that is finally coming to our street.  At any rate, my knitting radar is suddenly picking up all sorts of fun things to knit or knit with that can feed your sci-fi mania at the same time.

Eye of Jupiter Yarn

How about some socks from this “Eye of Jupiter” yarn for all of you Battlestar Galactica fans?   Or knit yourself a pair of Viper Pilots socks designed by Glenna C.    Dr. Who fans can knit themselves a “Dr. Who” scarf ,  a miniature pair of Daleks , crochet up a Tardis,  or go “whole hog” and crochet an amigurumi Tenth Dr. Who.  There are lots more Dr. Who-related patterns but apparently, the BBC is in a snit over a British fan who designed a bunch of patterns and posted them for free on her website.   They threatened to take legal action so she has since taken them off her website.

Christina Marie Potter’s Etsy shop has some fun yarns hand-dyed in different Star Trek colors.   Liberty’s Yarn has been featuring yarn dyed up in colorways honoring “hot chicks of sci fi” such as T’Pol, Starbuck, and Ellen.  Want to knit up your own pair of Spock ears?  Head over to this blog for the instructions.  My friends, there is really no end to what imaginative, creative people can come up with when they also happen to be dyed-in-the-wool (ok, maybe a little pun intended there) sci-fi geeks.  Have fun doing your own searches on the Web and see what else you can unearth.  In the meantime, I’d better transport myself to the laundry room and see if any clean clothes have materialized.

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A Harvest of Amigurumi Fun

crocheted-radish

I just finished a quick and really fun knitalong that was suggested by Josette of  Enchanted Knoll farm on her Ravelry group.  Incidentally, you can find her lovely yarn and fiber offerings here .  The challenge was to knit a vegetable or fruit that you would like to grow in your garden.   Well, I’d been wanting to try my hand at Amigurumi patterns for some time now and so I fired off a note to her asking if we could do a crochet pattern instead.  Indeed we could, so I did some web surfing and found a nice pattern and we were off to the races, so to speak.

indoor-radishWell, I’ll tell you….faster than I could figure out how to spell “amigurumi”, I had a little radish done and stuffed.  I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy standing outside in the rain photographing this tiny little crocheted object but I had fun.  OK, I DID cave and bring it inside for a final photo.

Now I’m looking forward to trying my hand at some other amigurumi patterns.  There are so many websites with free patterns available plus Etsy has many designers who have amigurumi patterns for sale.  Just do a “search” for “amigurumi pattern” and you’ll come up with almost 3,000 choices.  Who knows?  There could be a whole vegetable garden in your future.

Changing my Gauge, Thanks to Anne

booklassie-and-anne-hansonAt the recent Loopy Ewe Spring Fling, I got to take a Beginning Lace class from Anne Hanson of Knitspot. Anne is one of my favorite knitters of all time so I was thrilled. At some point in the class, I mentioned to her how I always have to go down at least 2 needle sizes or I get nothing but loopy fabric in lace with no discernible pattern. She watched me knit for a bit and it didn’t take her long to see what the problem was. I’m a “continental knitter,” holding the yarn and manipulating the tension with my left hand while “picking” with my right needle. I’m told that a true continental knitter would be knitting into the back of the stitches but I must do it the Dutch way, since I learned to knit from my Dutch grandmother. Anyway, as I was knitting, I was stretching the yarn and the stitches without even realizing it. That was making my stitches uneven and loose.

sock-top-pre-hint
pre-gauge-hint

Here’s the top of a sock I was knitting at the Fling. You can see how some of the stitches are uneven and the appearance is rather “homespun” looking, loose and lumpy. Just as a caveat, I use the Magic Loop method of sock knitting. Here’s another view of the leg of my sock.

Anne suggested that I try knitting my stitches closer to the points of my needles, taking care not to stretch them as I knit them. Of course, you have to be careful NOT to knit stitches ON the points of the needles because that can really screw up your gauge, too. I decided to give it a try on the sock. At the point where I started following Anne’s suggestion, I had just turned the heel and finished the gusset. So off I started down the foot.

beginning-and-mid-change

You’ll see a tighter stitch in this shot and then you’ll see where my knitting becomes even tighter, about halfway into that light-green stripe, as I become more comfortable with the change in the location of the stitches. Don’t pay attention to what looks like a dip above the pink stripe. That’s just how I happened to have the sock folded.

foot-on-left-and-leg-on-right

Finally, on the left is the foot of my sock with the tighter gauge and on the right, I’ve folded it so the leg with the looser gauge is shown. Even just feeling the two different areas is dramatic. The leg feels like a coarsely woven cotton to put it in quilter’s terms while the foot feels like a doubled-up piece of tightly woven linen. And this was all in the space of one day. I’m looking forward to practicing this tip over the next few weeks to see how it affects my gauge for lacework, too. Thanks, Anne!

I Showed Remarkable Restraint

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Yesterday was the day I was scheduled for my shopping trip to The Loopy Ewe. Approximately 35 of us descended on the shop in the afternoon (after two shuttles-full had gone in the morning) and the hunt was on. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed by all the choices that I just wandered around looking at the general layout at first. Once I had the lay of the land, I then tried to zero in on priorities. I thought I would be smart the night before and go up and print off my Wish List so I could have that in hand but it really didn’t help much. Seeing a picture of something online isn’t the same as holding a skein of yarn in your hands and feeling its softness and drape and seeing the actual colors in person.

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I waffled back and forth, back and forth between Lorna’s Laces, Dream in Color, NummaNumma, Malabrigo, Monkeypals, ShibuiKnits new DK-weight Alpaca (dreamy!), Tempted’s yarns, Handmaiden, Fleece Artist, Fiesta, Creatively Dyed, Gypsy Knits, the list goes on….Ladies would walk past me with their bags full and I’d spy something in their bags that looked really enticing and decide that I should go check to see if there was more of that on the shelf. Finally, I just had to make my choices and stick with them.

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I ended up with some luscious Dye Dreams yarn in Amethyst and also in Emerald. I’m going to make two lace shawls out of that. Two skeins of Fleece Artist’s Trail Socks in the colorway “Paris” will make the perfect long scarf for next winter that will coordinate just right with my barn jacket. Some turquoise Yo-Yo String and Fluff yarn caught my eye and I had to throw that in the bag for a cowl. Considering all the yarn I COULD have bought, I think I did pretty well at limiting myself to a few choice offerings. I also picked up two Addi Turbo needles for sock knitting in Magic Loop and Shawl knitting and a row counter.

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On top of all that, I ate breakfast at the same table as Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits, Claudia of Wollmeise yarn, and Cookie A. But the best thing of all was the chance to take a lace knitting class from Anne Hanson. Just one little pointer she gave me has already improved my knitting dramatically in less than 24 hours. Wow, I wish Dayton, OH was a lot closer to my neck of the woods. Can you imagine how lucky her weekly students must be who can study knitting and spinning with her every week?

Yes, it was a great day yesterday and today I’m just enjoying hanging out with other knitters. I got to enjoy watching Wendy plurk this morning at breakfast and then I sat and knitted and chatted. We’re having the group photo snapped soon and then it’s “open knitting” tonight before we all start dispersing to our separate homes. To all you knitters out there…….”Wish you were here.”

Casting Off for a Knitterly Adventure

kindle-charging

In less than 24 hours, Lord willing, I’ll be on the plane and on my way to St. Louis, MO. It’s time for the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling. Even as I’m typing this, there are knitters all over the country (and a few outside the country) who are putting last minute items into their suitcases, doublechecking their knitting supplies, and winding their yarn. I’ve got my Kindle charging. Hey, first things first! They don’t call me “Booklassie” for nothing!

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My laptop bag is waiting for me to unplug the laptop and pack it up. My papers are all in one envelope with my boarding pass, class schedule, and other assorted things to remember. My iTouch and charger are at the ready. I debated taking my laptop along but gee, I hate being separated from my laptop, email, blog, Facebook, Twitter, …..well, you get the idea, for too long so I caved in at the last minute and decided to schlep it along. I won’t have my hubby along this time to pick up the slack if I get tired of carrying everything but then, I’m skimping on clothes so I’ll have more room for yarn in my suitcase.

supplies-for-the-fling

I’ve pulled some simple patterns off Ravelry so that I’ll have something easy to work on while we are all sitting around in the knitting lounge laughing and chatting. At first I had picked a shawl pattern with a rather complicated 16-row repeat and then I came to my senses and realized that I’d never be able to keep track of where I was and talk to everyone at the same time. This way I’ll have mindless knitting to do and can still plug into the conversations. Of course, then I had to pull the right yarns to use and wind them into balls. In fact, I was winding yarn at 12:45 a.m. this morning. Yawn!

I’ve checked my class supply list and double-checked it. I want to make sure that I’m not forgetting anything that I’ll need. For you non-knitters, this will mean nothing. But for you knitters, I’m going to be learning from Anne Hanson of Knitspot http://www.knitspot.com/knitting_pattern/. Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits http://wendyknits.net/ will be there as will Cookie A. http://www.cookiea.com/and I have both of their books with me to get them autographed. Claudia from Wollmeise will be there and Miss Violet of  Lime and Violet fame at http://limenviolet.com/shop/ .  The creative geniuses behind NummaNumma yarn http://www.numma-numma.com, Perfect Day Yarn   http://www.perfectdayyarns.com/ , Tempted Yarns http://www.temptedyarns.com/ , and YoYo String Yarn http://www.theyoyo.etsy.com/ will all be there.  All of these wonderful yarns are sold at The Loopy Ewe http://www.theloopyewe.com/ , which is my absolute favorite online knitting shop.

Whew, all that to say that I’ve got my clothes packed and just have to finish filling up my Tom Bihn knitting bag, gather my remaining knitting tools, and I’m good to go. I hope to have time to blog from the retreat, unless I get stuck in an elevator with George Clooney. Yup, George is filming a movie in St. Louis and staying near our hotel. But the chances of that happening are pretty slim. I’m more apt to succumb to overexcitement and fatigue. Needles aweigh, gang! Talk to you from St. Louis.

Mulling, Pondering and Points In-Between

It’s been a busy last few days in the old brain as I’ve been mulling over several writing projects and one upcoming speaking engagement. The speaking engagement is a bit of a challenge to ponder because I don’t know yet what subject I’m supposed to be speaking on. I only know that it is going to be a women’s conference, I’m the last speaker, and I think I’m supposed to tie it all together. Of course, lack of details has never stopped my brain from going into overdrive and I’ve already come up with an approach I’d like to take. The trick will be to wait and see if that is the approach that God is nudging me towards. “Aye, there’s the rub,” as the old playwright used to say.

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In the meantime, I’ve had some distractions to keep me moving along on terra firma. I visited with my mom at the nursing home. We’re over halfway through a Richard Peck book and I must say, I’m enjoying it, even if no one else is. I read aloud to Mom at each visit since she has lost most of her eyesight and I love to do the different voices of the characters in the stories. Peck has some great characterizations in this book, which is written at probably a 5th or 6th grade level. The language is peppered with Midwestern colloquialisms which are a hoot to read. Sometimes I’ll glance up at the open door of Mom’s room and notice other residents gathered about in the hall, listening. Since I tend to really “get into” the characters, I usually take Mom down to the little library at the home so I won’t disturb her sleeping roommate. I’m always delighted to welcome any residents who wander in to join my little audience.

triple-choclate-chip-cookies

When I got home today, I was feeling bad for one of my relatives who has experienced a little heartache recently. So I baked a batch of triple chocolate lover’s cookies. Since this relative is in another state, I figured I might as well eat some for him, by proxy…as it were. At least that’s what I told myself. I only hope my hips don’t grow like Pinocchio’s nose or I’m in big trouble. I rather doubt my relative felt any better but I sure did.
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The mail brought another welcome distraction. Would you look at this yarn? This is Liberty’s Yarn JabberSocky which is 420 yards of 75% wool and 25% nylon. It’s superwash, too. The softness of this yarn and the lovely colors were enough to tear me away from the cookies and get me busy entering my stash up on Ravelry. You can find Liberty’s Yarn Etsy’s shop here http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6057611.

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Jumping On Board the Cowl Train

In case you haven’t noticed, cowls seem to be quite the “in” accessory this winter. Never let it be said that I’m one to avoid a good trend when I see one. Of course, the sun is shining in my window, the temps are rising, and I swear I heard a robin singing the other day so I might be a tad late to be hopping on board the cowl train this winter but hey! Let’s just say that I’m getting a jump start on next winter’s chilly woes.

In case you’re wondering what in the world IS a cowl, perhaps I should give you a definition. The Collins Essential English Dictionary, 2nd Edition defines a cowl as “1. a loose hood, 2. a monk’s hooded robe, and 3. a cover fitted to a chimney to increase ventilation and prevent draughts…”. For purposes of this discussion, we’re talking about definition #1.

Spiraluscious Cowl

Spiraluscious Cowl

This month, the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling group up on Ravelry was challenged to knit up something by that talented designer Anne Hanson of Knitspot http://www.knitspot.com/knitting_pattern/
so I picked her pattern Spiraluscious Cowl. It’s an interesting pattern with swirling lines of stitches that create that spiral effect. I goofed in a few spots but once I got the hang of it and could see what was supposed to be happening, things calmed down and I was knitting merrily along.

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Looking at the edging on the bottom of the cowl, you can see Anne’s trademark gorgeous design work. It is actually very easy to do with a simple row repeat that is knit on after you’ve finished the body of the cowl. I viewed this as a learning experience. You learn how to do a provisional cast-on for the edging and then you learn how to do a knitted-on edge. Then, with a quick Kitchener stitch to close up your edge, you’re done. I soaked and did a gentle blocking of my cowl because I had used fingering weight yarn and Size 1 knitting needles. Without the blocking, it fit over my head fine but the bottom curled up. With blocking, it was just right.

closeup-of-spiraluscious

I used Cherry Tree Hill’s Possum Sock Yarn to make up this cowl. It was a soft yarn to work with but I am finding it a bit scratchy on my skin. Hopefully, it will continue to soften as I wash it. I’m loving the colors , which is their colorway “Never Land.” This yarn is made up of 80% Superwash Merino and 20% New Zealand Possum so I think I can wash it in the washing machine on delicate and then lay flat to dry.

For those of you who have been considering trying a cowl, there is a Ravelry group devoted solely to the discussion of all things “cowl.” The name of the group is “Cowls.” There is also a group up on Flickr that posts their pictures of cowls. That group is called “Cowl is the New Scarf” and you can find it at http://www.flickr.com/groups/728395@N23/ . Of course, along with great patterns on Ravelry, if you aren’t a member on Rav (and what are you waiting for?), you can check out the free patterns at Knitting Pattern Central http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory/cowls_neckwarmers.php . And last but not least, if you just want to buy a pre-made cowl, I’d highly recommend heading over to Etsy http://www.etsy.com/ to drool over the many handcrafted offerings there. Just type “cowl” into the search window in Etsy and have fun. You’ll see all manner of cowls offered for sale.