Monday, December 31, 2012

At The End

So, unless I go on a blogging craze tonight (don't get your hopes up), this will be the last post to be published in 2012. That will bring the total of 2012 to 167 posts. So close to a hundred seventy.

Most people are talking about New Year's Resolutions right about now. I don't think I've ever set a New Year's Resolution before, and I say, let's not break that nice tradition. As Calvin says, I'm perfect the way I am. So there's that done with.

A lot of people are also talking about what they've accomplished this year. I would agree to this one- but the post would quickly turn into a novel.

So, since I can't be a stereotypical blogger, I'll just talk about how I redesigned my blog (again). It was just making me wince every time I looked at it, so I took it all away and put something much simpler back. I'll probably keep tweaking at it until I get something I like. I know there's some perfect design out there.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope your resolutions are as easy to fulfill as mine.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

On Christmas day or the day after, two blog posts appeared in my Reading list. Both were entitled Christmas 2012. I thought I should carry on the pattern (that has been broken by several of the other blogs I follow. Stupid people. Just kidding).

At this point in time, there are two in three chances that you know me and know my family's Christmas traditions. But for the other third out there (how unfortunate you are to be included in that category), I'll explain a little about how Lowery Christmases go.

It all starts in August (yep. Our Christmas celebrations are so elaborate it takes us five months to get through them all). There's usually a time when the whole family is together, and at that time we each draw a name from a hat, or possibly a flower pot. Then we all sit around for a few months until the holidays hit, and we go around to the stores and find some special presents for whoever we picked out of the hat (or flower pot). Think Secret Santa, but under a more dignified and as yet unspecified name.

Then, at six o'clock on Christmas Eve, all 11 of us (and now a couple of in-laws as well) gather around our table for a meal of bread and cheese. A poor man's meal, you may think, but it's a wonder how many gourmet (and, of course, expensive) cheeses you can find in the world of Central Market.

After we've eaten as much as we can, we sit around the Christmas Tree with glasses of eggnog and a platter of cookies. We start with the youngest, in this case (and every case for the last 13 years) me. I dramatically put down my eggnog, arise from my seat, and take a present from the tree. I then give this present to whoever I picked from the hat all those months ago. This person opens the present, says thank you and all, and then they take a present from the tree. And so on so forth until everybody's person is discovered and everybody has at least one present (unless their secret santa forgot who they had, in which case one person is very sad and another person is very sorry).

This year, my brother Thomas was fortunate to have his name picked by me. I made him a hat and scarf following the patterns Turn a Square by Jared Flood and His (Birthday) Scarf by Monika SteinBauer, both of which are free. I don't have any pictures yet, but hopefully will get some soon.

I also gave some other people presents. Namely, my sisters and mother. Because girls are so much easier to knit for than boys. I don't have any pictures of these, either, but the patterns I used were Forget the Fingers (for my mom), Oh, Helen! (for Mrs Elizabeth Joseph, my newlywed sister), and Cranberry Sauce (for my sister Mary Margaret). All of these are also free. And I also knit a shawl for my sister Rebecca, but I designed the pattern. I'll get it up in a few weeks (or months) if I can ever decipher my notes.

But onto more important things now- the presents I received. 

Two books, Stitch Library and Literary Knits. The latter is from my brother David, who had me for Christmas. Both of them are amazing. The first will contribute greatly to my designs with the endless supply of cable patterns, lace patterns, and simple knit and purl charts. The second already has any money I got for Christmas begging to be spent on the yarn reacquired for some of the projects (but I'm restraining myself because I have quite a few projects already on the needles...)

Also on Christmas Eve I was given a Doctor Who book, Dark Horizons, from my brother Nate, and an amazing Tardis pencil case from Mary Margaret. 
This picture doesn't do the wonder of this pencil case justice. She made it herself. She wrote the little words on the panel on the front. And made them bigger and smaller as does the real Tardis. And she lined it. Others may gaze in wonder at what comes off my knitting needles, but Mary Margaret's talent warrants even more respect. (Especially since she's also one of the smartest people on our street, can command a pencil across a sheet of paper like none other, and has more skill with a calligraphy pen than I've scene before. And yes, I might be exaggerating just a little bit, out of gratitude for my pencil case.)

On Christmas morn, we always awake to find our handmade felt stockings filled with candy and other goodies. For me, I found lots of yarn this year. True, I did pick it out myself, but there's no joy greater than finding some scrumptious balls of yarn at your place at 7:30 in the morning on 12-25)
This yarn is a beautiful self-striping aran weight under the brand name of Quasar. I'm planning on combining my new stitch book with this yarn to create a slouchy hat. 

These three skeins are Kroy Paton's Sock, but it is intending, not for a pair of socks, but for a scarf. The pattern I'm using is Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf, and it costs five dollars but if you do a quick search for 'Linen Stitch Scarf' on Ravelry you'll find some free ones as well. This is going to be my Thor scarf, because the colors are wonderfully reminiscent of how Marvel has reproduced the Scandinavian god.  

Of course there's more, but not that I can remember right off the bat. So onto Christmas day....

Since most of our celebrations are done on Christmas eve, we usually just mill around on Christmas day, taking naps and eating chocolate. For the past couple of years, though, we've gone to the theater on Christmas Day. Last year, we went to see The Adventures of Tintin (have I mentioned that it's co-written by Steven Moffat, who is the head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who?). This year, we went for something more serious: Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. The musical was so wonderful, we all left the theater in tears. 

While we were watching it, the snow began to fall, and our dream of a white Christmas transitioned into reality. 
Mary Margaret failed to take any photos of our wintry landscape, but this one is pretty cool. Hope she doesn't mind I borrowed it. I think it's of one of our outdoor cast-iron stools or flower pot holders or something. 

We by no means were caught in a blizzard, but it was still very chilly so we were very grateful for the Indian meal Nate and his girlfriend, Niha, prepared while we were watching Les Mis. 

After dinner me and Mother washed and dried a lot of the dishes, because our hot water heater broke (only for half the house, thank heavens) and we couldn't run the dishwasher. 

And that concludes the 2012 Christmas celebrations. Tomorrow I have a costume party to attend, and on the 31st most of my family departs for a five day backpacking trip to Palo Duro Canyon. I'm really looking forward to that- I'll have the house almost to myself!

Merry Christmas all, and apologies about the long post. The next one will be shorter, I promise. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yet Another Pair

In the past few days, I've been mainly knitting yet another pair of fingerless gloves. I've been trying to recreate the perfect pair of fingerless gloves, which I already own but sadly they are falling apart.

This perfect pair of fingerless gloves is actually a pair of store-bought gloves that shrunk in the wash, so I cut the fingers off. The thing about these mitts is that they are a little bit too small, so they fit very close to my hands. Most of my fingerless gloves are perfect right after I knit them, but after a few weeks of use they stretch out and are too loose.

However, I have now accomplished my mission of creating a pair of gloves that are tight enough and then some.
I give you Radagast, the name inspired, again, by The Hobbit. I finally figured out how to do the whole PDF file thing, so no more long boring patterns for my non-knitting followers to scroll through. Happy Christmas. You can download it for free here

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I love fingerless gloves, and have knit or crocheted several pairs. However, I've never been able to get my head around a thumb gusset. Finally this morning, I asked on ravelry if there were any good patterns that were simple and easy and had a thumb gusset to be worked. The free pattern 75 Yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts was suggested and I immediately found some worsted weight yarn
(not Malabrigo) and my size 7 dpns and cast on.

Eager to get to the gusset, I only knit four rounds of ribbing for the cuff, considering the fact that I was only doing this for practice and wasn't even going to make its mate. I also cut the top of the glove short and added a few rounds of moss stitch to the thumb. And I didn't weave in my ends, as you can clearly see, because this glove will be thrown into my 'cheap yarn' bag until I need the yarn and rip it out.

And now I know just how easy a thumb gusset is. Just like knitting in the round and purling, I have overcome this fear and am onto knitting bigger and better thumb holes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bofur's Fingerless Gloves

And here's the pattern that was inspired by Bofur's fingerless gloves in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

You will need:
50-60 grams of bulky weight yarn
US8 (5.00 mm) circular needle, long enough for magic loop or traveling loop. Mine was 29 inches. You can also use DPNs if you like.
Row counter (optional; I didn't have one, but I wish I had)

Gauge: 5 stitches = 1 inch in moss stitch

Cast on 23 stitches on US8 needles. Divide to join in the round, being careful not to twist
Round 1: *Knit 1, Purl 1, repeat around from *
Round 2: *Purl 1, Knit 1, repeat around from *
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 six more times, for a total of fourteen rounds. Repeat round 1 once more.
Turn work and repeat Round 1 eight times, knitting flat so as to create the thumb hole.
Rejoin in the round
Rounds 24, 26, and 28: Repeat Round 2
rounds 25 and 27: Repeat Round 1
Bind off loosely. Weave in ends and wear with subtle nerdy delight!
Please do not copy this pattern.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

When I heard that they were making three films out of the Hobbit, all interest in seeing the movie left me. I mean, three movies out of one book? But then my best friend saw it and told me it was great... and told me a few of the funnier parts of the movie... and said that the dwarves are really, really cool... and slowly I got more and more excited to see it. Not that slowly, considering it only came out last Friday and I've already seen it and love it. 

At about three hours in length, the movie does get a little dull at moments, but in general it is action packed and enjoyable. Though it's true that most of the dwarves' characters are underdeveloped, this is entirely understandable when you have fourteen new characters to introduce and almost all of them are dwarves. So they did a good job developing the characters of Bilbo (well obviously), Thorin, Kili, Bofur, Balin, and sort of Fili. 

I couldn't help but notice that several of the dwarves wore some rather fetching knitted things... and I've already knit up some of Bofur's moss stitch fingerless gloves. 
Bofur is my third favorite dwarf, after Kili and Thorin. Firstly, because he has pigtails like Pippi Longstocking, topped off with a fantastic hat. Secondly because he has fingerless gloves that I can so easily copy. I've also noticed that he has a nice garter stitch scarf in long stripes of dark orange and browns and grays that I may be replicating someday...

But here are the gloves I made to copy his. They obviously aren't exact, but how far can you stray when you're given a picture of simple moss stitch fingerless gloves? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

All A Bit Harry Potter

I think that it's in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that the Christmas trees are decorated with live golden owls. Of course, this may be in all the books that include Christmas at Hogwarts, but I read the Goblet of Fire most recently so that's probably just what I remember.
Well now our Christmas tree has a little owl, though when I made it I was not thinking in the slightest of Harry Potter. I was probably thinking more along the lines of The Hobbit (which I haven't seen yet but am hoping to either before or shortly after Christmas) or Merlin, or possible Artemis Fowl, the audio book of which I was listening to while I knit. He's sort of supposed to be a barn owl- you know, the ones with the heart shaped faces, but heaven knows I'm terrible when it comes to knitting fair isle hearts. They always turn out sort of wonky.

The exciting thing about this owl is that it gave me the excuse to learn to graft stitches, i.e. take two unfinished edges of knitting and graft them together so it looks like a continues knit stitch. I tried and sort of failed to snap a good picture depicting this, but I rather liked the one I took anyway.
If you can see, where the green ribbon is sticking out of his head is where there would be an ugly seam had I not grafted the stitches. 

I used sport weight yarn and US2 needles, and I used the magic loop method (just so that the knitters who want to make an exact replica of this owl know what to do). I'll also put the chart for the heart on my ravelry project page hopefully tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not A Moment Lost

Guess what everyone- I finished my Christmas knitting! Well, mostly. There are always a few seams to sew, ends to weave in etcetera, etcetera. But I finished enough to start a 'big' project for myself.

By big, I mean Saroyan, which I've had my eye on for about a week, give or take a day. I had the perfect yarn for it: 19 or 20 balls of Bainin Tweed, an Irish yarn that only has 16 projects listed on its Ravelry page. I received the yarn from our friend Cindy at Jacob's Reward Farm, when my mom and I went to the farm last Friday to help clean out the Little Red Barn. (What more explanation need be said-  we went to a sheep farm and cleaned out a barn that's little and red. Can't get more to the point than that.) Cindy had been in possession of this yarn for quite a while and as thanks for helping at the farm, she passed it on to me.

So today I took 4 of the 20 hundred-yard balls and cast on my very own Saroyan. I began at around three o'clock. I have now nearly finished the six increase repeats.

It's very pretty, if I do say so myself (I have no problems admitting how amazing my knitting is, apparently) I had to stop then because I ran out of the first ball of yarn, but I'll probably do a bit more before I go to bed- hey, it is the first Friday after the winter break started, I can stay up late. 
I just love those little leaves. I could knit this pattern all day. (Oh wait, been there, done that). I am also loving how the yarn is working up. The little drops of color against the green yarn makes me think of a Christmas tree, even though it's the wrong shade of green. And the wrong kind of leaves. 


Monday, December 10, 2012


I've spent the better part of the day with my needles clicking and churning out this little elf. Tell me he's not the most adorable thing you've seen all day. 

I designed the pattern as I went, and unfortunately made no pattern notes so if I want to recreate him I'll have to use my memory and where that fails look to him for help. But it's all pretty straightforward, so were I to wish another one into existence it wouldn't be too difficult. I did it once, right? 

I'm very proud of his feet. I did a little heel and everything, and I've never even knit socks. And I only had six stitches to work with. And look how neat my stitches are. Oh, I'm so happy with him!

I used boring old scratchy Red Heart yarn, mostly because it's the only worsted weight yarn I have that isn't being used for a Christmas knit. I knit most of him on size 7 dpns and the ears and belt on size 4 dpns. 

Gosh. I still can't believe I made something so incredibly cute. 

I've found that I like knitted toys a lot more than crocheted ones. I just like the look of stockinette more than that of single crochet, no offense to lovers of crochet. Knitting looks so much tidier to me- perfect for a little Christmas elf who likes to hide in stockings. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Early Easter

Last April, shortly after Easter, my mom bought some Easter egg dyes so that we could dye some of our white wool roving. April was a very long time ago, and we still hadn't gotten around to dyeing wool yesterday. So I was asked if I could just dye some by myself, since by then I rather doubted we were ever going to dye our roving.

I looked up a couple of tutorials online, and found a youtube video that covered it all pretty well. You can find it here. I soaked my roving in water and vinegar for half an hour, and while I was waiting I set up my workspace. I spread newspaper and plastic wrap on the floor of my sister's bedroom (she ripped her carpet up a couple of years ago and her floor remains to be constructed of paint-splattered concrete) and I mixed up my dyes. I had four colors: turquoise, gold, indigo, and brown. I laid my well soaked wool out on the plastic wrap and got dyeing. It took about ten minutes to actually paint the wool. Then I rolled it up and put it in the microwave and let it cool and rinsed it out and laid it out to dry.

When I put it in the microwave, I had a lot of dark blue and gold and brown. After it dried:

Pastel shades of green, pink and purple instead of dark tones of blue and gold. I still think it's gorgeous, and can't wait to spin it into what I'm planning on being a double plied sport or worsted. 

Overall, an excellent dyeing experience, but I'm excited to try some other dyes and techniques to get darker shades. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Snowflake Tutorial

A beautiful Christmas decoration is paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling on nylon thread. For what seems like all my life, we've hung snowflakes to the ceiling every year and taken them down when winter is over.

However, these snowflakes were made mostly by small children who weren't particularly gifted with scissors, so the snowflakes weren't very pretty. A few years ago, my talented sister Mary Margaret discovered a snowflake formula that never fails. Last night, we had a snowflake making party, and we're going to replace almost all of our old snowflakes (which are by now yellow with age as well as inartistic) with new pretty ones.

I was inspired by our party to do a tutorial for a perfect snowflake, so this afternoon I set out with paper and scissors and a camera and got cutting.

What you need is a piece of A4 paper and a pair of ordinary kitchen scissors. 

 Fold the paper like so and cut off that chunk at the top so you have a triangle that's folded in half...

 Then fold that triangle in half.
 Now you have to fold it into thirds. Just make an estimation and fold both sides in so one is on top of the other and it's more or less folded in thirds. You want to make it as exact as you can.
 There you see, you've just got a couple of things sticking up and once you chop those off you have a triangle that's folded into thirds.
 Now it's time to get out of the origami stage and onto the snowflake stage. I drew some shapes on my triangle and shaded in what I was going to cut out so you could see, but you don't have to do that, I usually just wing it. You want to cut out blobs that have no specific shapes. And don't forget to give your snowflake a decorative edge by cutting the top of the triangle fancily. The trick is, you don't want it to look beautiful when it just has the blobs cut out of it, you want it to look boring. You also want to leave as little paper as possible. but don't cut out the center or it'll just sort of flop about and not be too snowflake like.
 And then you open it up and....
 You have a beautiful snowflake! yep, that gorgeous piece came from that boring little triangle. It's a lot of fun to unfold them and see what you've created.
Here are some of the ones I did last night:
 I couldn't resist doing a nerdy one. This one isn't particularly pretty but it does have little Tardis' all around the edge so it's awesome.

Have fun making snowflakes! 

Christmas Mitts Free Pattern

Hope you enjoy this pattern! These gloves are perfect for a number of things: opening presents on Christmas morning, sipping hot coco with a little peppermint schnapps stirred in, or taking a walk in the snow! They work up in just a couple of hours and are excellent for a last minute gift! The rib pattern is simple to make but exciting enough to make all of your friends marvel at your great skill.
Please do not copy this pattern. You may sell the mitts you make but please give me credit for the pattern. Thank you!

What you need:
35 grams of worsted weight yarn

US7 double pointed needles

Gauge: 5 stitches= 1 inch in stitch pattern

Note: These gloves are made with a very stretchy rib stitch. Mine are quite snug, but if you prefer yours to be looser, increase the stitches by 3 for a bigger glove.

Cast on 21 stitches and divide evenly between 3 dpns.
Rounds 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9: *knit 2, purl 1, repeat from *

Rounds 2, 4, 6, and 8: *knit 1, purl 2, repeat from *
After completing nine rounds, turn work so as to begin working flat, creating the thumb hole

Rounds 10-21: *knit 2, purl 1, repeat from *
Now rejoin in the round for rounds 22-28:

Rounds 22, 24, 26, and 28: *knit 1, purl 2, repeat from *
Rounds 23, 25, and 27: *knit 2, purl 1, repeat from *

Bind off loosely