Monday, April 30, 2012

A study in blocking

Blocking is something that I was always intimidated by until I actually tried it.  The first project I ever blocked taught me about gauge and how it matters if gauge is measured blocked or unblocked.  Yeah, I ended up with a hat that was too big for my head and being my naive self, I thought that drying could fix that - I think we all know how that turned out.  The time I first appreciated blocking was after blocking my first lace shawl.  It still amazes me to this day that blocking can take something like this:
And turn it into something like this:
Beautiful!  All that lace opens up and just tells a story.  Look at how those yarn overs opened up! Without blocking, the lace would just be this kinda crinkled, crumpled up looking piece, which might be nice in its own right, but the true beauty comes from blocking.  I also like blocking because I feel like I get a good stretch while I'm doing it.  I tend to pin out points on this side and then adjust on the other side and so on & so forth to the point where it's like I'm moving all over the place.  
Blocking is something that you can't hurry.  In this case, the shawl needs time to soak first.  Then it needs to be rinsed, rolled in a towel, and finally laid out flat on the blocking surface.  How long should you soak a shawl? At least 20 minutes, if not more, and it never hurts to soak it for a good long while.  It also needs time to completely dry as this is what will set your shawl or garment.  Once it's dry, then it's going to be stuck that way until you block it again.  The shawl pictured above is a pattern I hope to release in May and the working title is Silverbells Shawl.  It's knit using 2 skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino on a size US 7 (4.5 mm) needle.  More details to come as I finalize the pattern this week!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Garden Garden Garden

This past weekend Mr. SpiderKate and I watched a segment on the Today show about having a raised garden.  We commented to each other that that would be a good way to do a garden and in fact we already have a place in a backyard that has a sort of raised garden.  That was all it took - we immediately knew what we were going to spend the rest of our day doing.  First we had to go running and then eat lunch (of course), but right after lunch we were off to first Lowe's (didn't have raised garden kit) and then to Home Depot.  So, we buy the raised garden kit from Home Depot along with like 5 bags of garden soil and gardening tools.  We get all this stuff home and then decide that we don't need the raised garden kit and instead are going to see if we can rehab the one already in the backyard that was left by the previous owner.  Well, after some work & elbow grease we had a plot ready to use, but no plants.  

You see, initially we thought that we were going to get the garden ready on Saturday and then do the planting on Sunday.  But apparently we are gluttons for punishment (who knew planting a garden was a lot of work) because we decided to head back out to the nursery and pick up all the herbs/vegetables/fruits.  We ended up with the following: cilantro (2), parsley (2), tomatoes (3), bell pepper plants (3), strawberries (2), basil (1), mint (1), & oregano (1).  Including the rosemary that was already planted in the garden, that makes 16 plants!  Yeah, we don't really even know if all these things can be planted together, but we are going for it and hoping for the best.  We figure that this year will be our "learning year" and by next year we will be pros. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

First sock syndrome?!?

Most people know about second sock syndrome.  You know, where you finish the first sock and then either don't knit the second sock or take a long time to before you start knitting the second sock.  Well, I'm here to tell you about first sock syndrome.  Let me preface this by saying that I love socks.  Love knitting socks! But I think what it really comes down to is that I love the beginning of a sock.  I love starting out with a small circumference and watching it grow as I knit another round.  Then I get past the ribbing & part way down the leg of the sock and before I've knit any more I'll get distracted by another project.  My poor little sock will get left sitting in its bag waiting for me to return to it.  Often times the sock ends up waiting almost a whole year to get back to it.  
Now, don't get me wrong, I do think about the sock and check to make sure it's still there to make sure I didn't lose it.  I think I've averaged 1.5 years on each pair of socks I've made.  One year to knit sock #1 and then half a year to knit the second sock.  For some reason I tend to not get as distracted between the first and second sock - weird, I know.  All of this is to say that I've finally picked back up a sock that I start last June.  Yes, I mean June of 2011 and really it was at the end of June so it was more like July.  The sock is moving along (like they always do when I pick them back up) and I'm just about to the decreases for the toe.  I thought I was going to finish it up by this Saturday, but I've had some other knitting things to attend to, so it again got pushed aside.  My new plan is to have it done by next week so that I can start the second sock next week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Knit Picks photos

Just got back photos taken by Knit Picks of my Wild Ivy Shawl.  Let's just say that they blow my photos out of the water.  Love the way they chose to photograph it!  Looks like the perfect way to wear this shawl. Without further ado, here are the photos courteous of Knit Picks.