30 March 2008

This Week In Review: "My Phat Lewtz"

I had a splurge since I realized I had extra money due to my tax return finally coming in. I had been meaning to make this sort of purchase for some time now, and I finally did and was pleased to see they all came in within two days this week, earlier than I expected. I did purchase a few big balls of other yarn last Friday at JoAnns, but I forgot to include those in the picture of my "phat lewtz". Also not included is the one ball of yarn that I ordered on Amazon.com this week, but that I don't really expect until next week along with my two new pairs of shoes, Crocs' Alice.

I have plans for just about all of these balls of yarn. Included in the finds are as follows: Knitpicks Suri Dream, Glossamer, Shadow, and size 8 length 40" Options needles, elann.com's Pure Alpaca Fina, Just Bamboo ribbon yarn, and another thing of ribbon yarn I forgot its name already. From an earlier purchase, I have as well KnitPicks Andean Treasure, Swish Worsted, and Swish DK. Andean Treasure, Suri Dream, and Shadow all are used in a "feather and fan" pattern with Knitpicks' free patterns. Glossamer is just the handdyed version of Shadow. As I've learned recently, lace yarn is a challenge to work with... I have never used with such fine yarn before.

With each week in review, I plan to cover a few different things such as different types of yarn I am using, status on projects I am working on, and other things of relative fun (like maybe a small rant about current events or something if I feel so inclined).

Andean Treasure vs. Pure Alpaca Fina
While I was searching online for decent priced sport weight yarns to use in "secret projects", I came across elann.com's Pure Alpaca Fina (PAF). While I had already started using Andean Treasure (AT), I was excited by the many more color options that PAF offered. It also contained more yardage than AT so I figured I would give it a shot as a adequate substitute.

When they came in the mail on Wednesday, I was very excited and opened it up and began introducing myself to it I realized, and did comparison with it. They are both "sport weight" according to their two different sites, but from what I noticed, PAF is thinner than AT. To my estimation it looked more like a fingering weight yarn (it was thicker than the lace weight yarn I also got in the mail, which made me happier). I guess I should pay a bit more attention when studying for substitutes for patterns online. I still have yet to really understand, nor develop the patience, to work with "gauges", or even understand fully that it says 50g, so maybe even though it has more yarn yardage, it may be thinner than the other ball. Oh well. I'm still planning on using it for a pattern that calls for AT in the future, I just have to figure out if I need to change needles or increase the width of the pattern. Those two things shouldn't be too difficult.

HP PoA Scarf

I have been working on the second try with the scarf since sometime in February or January (don't remember), but it has been considered a back-burner or "easy" project. I usually work on it when I feel like it or I am multitasking (watching subbed anime, reading over papers for editing). This scarf uses KnitPicks' Swish Worsted yarn, which is some of the softest yarn I had worked with up to that point (it still is by far one of the softest yarns I've ever used). I like the way this scarf is coming through. As of the time I took this picture I had just gotten to the 11th set of the yellow-red-yellow stripe pattern. The pattern itself calls for 14 of them and one final big block set and then finishing off with tassling. I am looking forward to finally getting to that part, cause I got tired of the first scarf before I got around to it. Actually it was more like I got tired of using LionsBrand Vanna's Choice because it was irritating my fingers, so I finished that one up fast to do this one.

But I never feel quite happy if I only have one (or just two) projects going on. So when I got new yarn in this past week, I started a few new projects, two of which I will detail here.

This will be what I will consider my "first sweater" although it really is more of a "warm-weather" sweater. I'm hoping to have this done enough to be a project I work on at SimTerra (as this and the above scarf are what I call "Kaylee wear"). No idea how it will get there, because I lost a few stitches today in a "packing incident". I will probably fix it later when I get around to working on it.

The pattern itself looks like a short sleeve kimono, and it even has a silky looking band just under the bust to mimic a small obi. I purchased some bamboo ribbon yarn to suit that effect, because I don't really like the idea of spending the time to make my own ribbon yarn. Bah, that's far too much effort. Since the PAF was smaller width than I thought it would be, I'm hoping the particular size I chose to make this with is just fine. Next time I try this pattern I may splurge and get the yarn it calls for and I already have another ribbon yarn around here to put with that one. I'll probably do a pattern review at some point for that and then I will provide the link.

Suri Dream Throw

This is the only feather and fan pattern that I can even show here because the others are... well, *Xellos pose* that's a secret. And I haven't really started it, I've just begun planning it. I intend to use the yarn that the pattern calls for, KnitPicks' Suri Dream. It claims to be a bulky weight, but looking at it closer, I really don't totally buy that. I am also intending on whipping out what I call "the big red and black tribble" (also known as a pound of gradient yarn I got at Jo Ann's) and blending that with the Suri Dream to add an interesting textured effect. I hope in the end I will have enough of that to go along with 10 balls of the Suri Dream, but we will have to see. I probably should do some measurement planning before I get all invested in the beginning.

Here highlights what I've been up to this past week, I hope to have next week's review up sooner than this one, but I get so easily distracted when boyfriend playing fascinating game (Mount and Blade) on my computer or Arkham Horror at Jeff and Mona's. Or even... I get too distracted by my many projects I'm working on to remember to actually write about it. I hope to get better about that, but no real promises... this week at work has the potential to be hell.

Although the knowledge of getting nice packages delivered is still warm fuzzies. I also have a story to work on so I can torture people this coming Saturday.

Coming Soon: Pattern Review: Mary Jane and Elizabethtown hats

27 March 2008

The Audacity

Ever since I was reminded of this word's existence when some of my players suggested we name our ship that in my game, I have been quite fond of it. But it's relevance to today's political scene never quite hit home until the last few weeks.

I admit that I have gotten annoyed by the constant talk on the radio and tv about Barack Obama's pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, but I knew there was something up with his church long before it started making the mainstream media. It is important for us to know the people who are running for president. We really don't know Barack Obama as he's been relatively new to the scene. I have not really been impressed by his "sweet talk"... I nearly fell asleep during his 40 minute or so Chesapeake Primary Victory Speech that was littered with big government socialist dogma. I never understood why the masses go for that. Perhaps the public is just a sucker for a good speaker.

Which George W. Bush really has never been.

But this brings me to my muse for the day. I have always found it important for us to know what sort of man (or woman) is running for the highest office of the country. It boggles my mind that he would sit in a church for 20 years with a pastor who he "disagrees with". When I had left for college and my old church got a new pastor, my parents found disagreement with him over his lack of belief in the inherancy of God's word. So they left the church. When you live in a big city like Chicago, there has to be plenty of other churches to choose from, so why that church?

I don't profess to know what is truly his heart and mind, but it does throw a bit of doubt into his message of "hope", "unity", and "change." If he sat for 20 years under a pastor who spewed messages of hate and racism, things that don't reflect a true understanding of Christ, how can we really expect him to be the person he claims he will be?

Those are just my thoughts...

Other articles/blogs on this subject for your perusal (i do not deny having a bias, no indeed):
"Audacity of Hype" campaign soldiers on
More points from yesterday's "Audacity of Hype" speech on race
It's not Compassion -- It's Wright-Wing Racism
Throw Grandma Under the Bus
Wimping Out: Obama's Squandered Chance at Post-Racialism
Is Obama Ready for America?
OK, Sen. Obama, Let's Have the Race 'Talk'

I realize the majority of this topic is a little late, but I've been pondering over it for a while, and with Rev. Wright's latest comments about Italians, this particular issue for Obama doesn't seem to be going away.

17 March 2008

Recognition and Status Update

I'd like to thank Bearing Drift for writing a blog introducing my blog on the 14th. It had me extremely surprised and blushing for a few long minutes.

Any new readers do that, I should have some new content coming up shortly in the realm of knitting... and maybe I'll write about something else as well... we'll see. I have some knitting pattern reviews pending. I have one outstanding project that has been put as a "secret project". I also have some patterns I'm contemplating starting work on once I get myself ready to do my next online yarn purchase from KnitPicks and my first online yarn purchase from elann.com. I may buy some others because I saw a good deal on some discontinued yarn that the new Knitty magazine has a pattern for. But we will see. In the future I will post up a blog about the yarns I like to use from various sources, in a segment called "yarn review". As of right now I am currently working on only one "non-secret" project, so I haven't really gotten myself around to doing the weekly status report, but I will try to do that sometime starting this week.

There have been a lot of interesting things going on in the news realm and in politics, but I'm not totally certain how to frame my mind around most of it to come up with a coherent post on the subject. I have a "ways to tell a story" post coming up in my head as I type this, so I may be posting something like that in the future.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you! I am wearing my green today.

07 March 2008

Knitting Pattern Review: Prisoner of Azkaban Scarf

pattern found here

This scarf is knitted in the round using either size 7, size 8, or size 9. For the first few weeks I enjoyed the simpleness of the scarf, finding it to be relaxing and easy to multi-task with. I intend to make many more of this kind.

I found that LionsBrand Vanna's Choice, after a long period of time, grew too uncomfortable to work with, and perhaps even too big of a weight (even though it "claims" to be worsted weight) to make this pattern with (especially on size 9). The scarf ended up being too big for me in the width sense.

Now I'm also working on the second one already for this scarf using KnitPicks Swish Superwash yarn and size 7 needles (don't have a pic for it online yet, but I will definitely post it up in a following blog when I do). That particular yarn is perhaps the best yarn I have worked with at that point and it and Caron's Simply Soft yarn are probably going to be my "warm stuff" (scarves and hats) yarn for some time to come.

This pattern is fairly easy to deal with, you just need to keep an eye for the row counting and make certain your color changes are good. I have yet to actually do the tassels for the ends of the scarf yet, but it looks simple enough to me.


In the future I think I'm going to try to have a weekly "work in progress" post. At present I think I will time it for Friday evening to Saturday morning that I would do that.

03 March 2008

I Am Picky About My Yarn

I could say I have as of late become "persnickety" about my yarn choices, or what is otherwise known as a "yarn snob". I've become very picky about which yarns I want to use or even buy lately.

This has come about after discovering that a yarn I thought I would like that I got at Michael's, LionsBrand Vanna's Choice, was actually not what I liked... it was itchy to work with and made my head itch when I wore the hat I made with it. I also found that I prefered Wool Ease Chunky as opposed to regular Wool Ease for the same reason, it was less scratchy.

I have discovered that there are very few 100% acrylic yarns that I even like anymore, pretty much limiting to Caron's Simply Soft. There are probably others that I may like, but I'm not totally fond of Red Heart for certain.

I make my choice based more on comfort with knitting. If it makes me itch, then I really don't want anything to do with it. I don't really care if it pills a little. It has to be comfortable to knit with, because if it isn't, it won't be comfortable to wear.

I have some patterns I have tried out and am ready to review soon, hopefully once I get around to getting the pictures online, I will post them up here.