Archive for the ‘Pointy Sticks and Yarn’ Category

No, not a scary duck, you muggle

March 3, 2018

Well, the annual Haifa Fantasy and SciFi Con (known as “Dorot”) is over for another year.  It always coincides with Purim, so all the people wearing costumes don’t look out of place at all.

This year I went as a Niffler.


This was actually my victory pose taken by Shoshie after we kicked ass playing Artemis.  We were in the first crew of the day to beat all our opponents and return safely to home spaceport; in fact, we were the first crew of the day who didn’t blow ourselves up.  I was the engineer.  “Increasing energy to the rear shields, Cap’n!”  “Naw, Cap’n, I cannae boost the sensors any more, the engine cannae take it!”  Okay, okay, so I didn’t talk like that, but I was definitely channeling Scotty.  Actually I listened more to the Science Officer (waves to Shoshie) than the Captain, but never mind.  We did lose a few crew members from the DamCon teams (damage control), sadly.  Moment of silence.  But luckily for our safety and survival, most of the damage to the ship was limited to the hull, and not much of the ship’s systems. We did good.

And back to the Niffler.  Making the costume presented some challenges, including the fact that furry material sheds like a…  hm.  Let’s just say that even after vacuuming, I’m finding little bits of black fluff in the oddest places.  I couldn’t find a mask anywhere – not even a duck mask that I could alter – so I cut some eyes out of a large black baseball cap and built the beak onto the cap.  The fur hood covered the rest of the cap.  Originally I put plastic lenses in the eye holes, but I found it was easier to do without them when wearing my glasses.

I always knit a part of my costume.  This year it was the paws.  I used the Innsmouth pattern by Anne-Marie Dunbar, with some obvious modifications, like leaving a hole at each fingertip for the claws.

I also changed the row count, since I was using bulky yarn instead of the aran weight called for.  I kept the stitch count, though, to make a dense fabric to hold the claws securely.

In all, I was very satisfied with my costume.  The only real drawback was the fact that it was an incredibly, extremely, intensely warm day, way too warm for the heavy fur material.  At some point I just had to take it off before I created a scandal and melted into a puddle in the midst of a lecture.  It did get cooler in the evening, but I didn’t bother with transforming back to the Niffler, I just popped over to the many vendor booths and grabbed myself a Hufflepuff beanie to keep my ears warm.

Go, badgers.

Most of the day was spent in lectures (including hearing some fascinating theories about the Jedi prophesy of the Chosen One), admiring others’ cosplay, listening to a troubadour group that sings about science and geekitude, and hanging with friends.

By 10 pm, I was exhausted, so I headed on home, regretfully skipping the Monty Python sing-along.

Until next year.


Yes, I’m back to the blog after a long hiatus.  I have missed blogging ferociously.  I’ve been working like a fiend, and have not had much time for anything – I haven’t blogged or photographed, I’ve barely done any reading or knitting, and all my hours are spent in translating or teaching.  I can’t make any promises about frequency, but I need to be here again.

Of socks, fish, and Draco

June 4, 2015

I finished the Saved By a Fish’s Kiss socks.  Knit till I felt I was done, did an inch or so of ribbing, then used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  It is extremely stretchy, but still a wee bit tight – methinks this has more to do with swollen calves than a problem with the socks.  I only used about 2/3 of the yarn, so there’s enough to do something with what’s left, I will have to consider options.  I’m very happy with my new socks!

saved FO

Rudely ignoring the other WIPs waiting for attention, I gave in to my enthusiasm for this sock construction – especially the Fish Lips Kiss Heel –  and immediately cast on for another pair.  No pattern this time, just plain vanilla socks, to show off the yarn.

A few years ago Opal sock yarns came out with a line of self-patterning Harry Potter character colourways.  I managed to grab a skein before the company stopped making them, and it had been patiently waiting all this time.  For some reason, after time had passed I was certain I had bought the Hedwig colourway.  I decided to knit some Hedwig socks!  Imagine my surprise when I dug through my stash to discover that I had actually purchased a skein of the Draco colourway.  Hm.  Beautiful colours, to be sure, but why was I so convinced I had Hedwig in my stash?  Very curious, to quote Mr. Ollivander.

Anyway, I decided to knit a contrasting toe/heel/cuff.  There is a tiny bit of beige mixed in with the blues, grays and white of the yarn, and I want to highlight that, so I chose a soft brown for the contrast yarn.  Used Judy’s magic cast on for a wedge toe.

Accio toe

Since the Opal yarn is self-patterning, I took the extra time to divide it into two balls, then found the same (approximate) spot in each to begin the pattern.


I generally like the randomness of socks not having the exact same pattern sequence, but this time I choose to be different!

I like how they’re looking so far.  I’m feeling the need to knit a lot of socks contrasting patterned and solid yarns.   If there’s enough Draco left over it may become the toe/heel/cuff of a pair of solid socks!  Maybe blue or off-white…  I have quite a few self-patterning or self-striping sock yarns, it will be interesting to see how many pairs I manage to knit before this kick dies down.  What do you think?

There may even be a pair for the kid in the works next…


Back on Track

May 8, 2015

So.  It took me a week to tink back the Saved by a Fish’s Kiss socks.  After a couple of days of being bummed and not so eager to pick them up.  However….little by little I persevered.  Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1500 stitches tinked.  And now I’m finally moving forward once again, sans vampire-bite holes and with the correct stitch count.

With the tinking came an extra little challenge:  What to do with all the yarn coming undone.  I couldn’t just rewind it, since these socks are being knit from the two ends of one skein.  So no way to really rewind.  I tried to keep the unraveled yarn neat, but in the end there were some….rather intricate tangles.  I used a pair of improvised butterfly bobbins, and managed to get it all sorted out with very little profanity used.  Well….maybe a bit more than very little, but not much, honest.

toe up taat back on track

They’re not terribly convenient to use either, but better than nothing.

I think I’m going to enter these socks into the Yarn and Falafel Fiber Fest WIP competition being held at the end of the month.  Basic vanilla socks, to be sure, but they represent a few new techniques learned, and I will be proud and relieved to finally get these finished after several years in the WIP basket.  All WIPs that are completed by the gathering are eligible for the competition, I will hopefully get a couple more things done and tag them to enter too.

I will again be teaching a double-knitting workshop at the Fest, and again use my Hot Cuppa Coasters pattern to teach.  The pattern has had great success, with two separate KALs done on Ravelry in different groups learning double-knitting, and in at least three off-Ravelry classes in double-knitting around the world.  Three that I know of – those in which the instructors wrote and asked my permission to use the pattern.  I have heard of one class taught in which the pattern was used without anyone contacting me.  Which, since it’s free, is cool, although I much prefer to be asked.  So far, in ten months the pattern has been downloaded by over 1000 people, there are 51 projects up on Ravelry, and it’s in another 94 queues.  Which makes me ridiculously happy.

More about the Y&FFF later!

I intend to get some housekeeping done around the blog soon, the pattern and book pages are woefully behind the times, and there are plans floating around my head to revamp some things as well.  We shall see.

Interesting clouds outside my window…

Shabbat Shalom!


Let’s erase today and start over

May 3, 2015

Well.  The week hasn’t started out as well as it could have.

I got a call from the clinic.  The VNG machine has broken down, so my tests scheduled for two days away have been postponed.  They have no estimate on when repairs will happen, so we can’t even set a new time, they’ll call when the machine is up and running again.  When I expressed my dismay, the receptionist promised to talk to the professor and see if we can get permission to do the tests at the hospital instead.  She’ll call me back when she has more information.  Luckily, the past week has been pretty much OK, but the week before that the vertigo was really making itself a nuisance.

The socks have been sailing along.  Finished both heels and started up the cuffs.

toe up taat flkh finished

The fit is amazing, and the socks are very comfy.

toe up taat starting cuff

(Partner made the comment that these are much too pretty to wear on the feet, they should be hung on the wall as art!  I refrained from making a rude retort and kept on knitting…)

Knitting well up the cuff I again tried one on…and disaster.  Somehow on one cuff I managed to make not one but two accidental yarnovers – just a couple of stitches apart, and it looked like a vampire had made two little holes above my ankle.  I was already inches past that point, and I hadn’t noticed the change in stitch count.

I tried dropping one of the stitches down to the yarnover hole, hoping that I could ease the slack from the resulting ladder into the stitches alongside it.  No such luck with this fabric.  Plus the other yarnover is only two or three stitches to the side, and dropping that stitch as well would make the ladder impossible to smooth out.

toe up taat cuff disaster

So….nothing to do but tink.  In the picture above I’d tinked a few rows already.  From both socks.  Since they’re two at a time.  I’m considering somehow just tinking the one sock, but that would require careful counting, and concentration is not at a high right now.   But still – better one than two, much less discouraging and less chance of error as well.

The momentum has definitely been disrupted.  Dagnabbit,  Fie.  Piffle.

Yes, I could have just ignored it and carried on, but those two holes would have driven me batty.  Battier.  Hmph.

Let’s see the week getting better, please.


Order from Chaos

April 26, 2015

I’m on a yarn diet.  Trying to knit from my stash.  Which is really not that big of a problem, given that my queue is longer than my life expectancy, but it does become an issue when I’m asked if I want to test knit something by one of  my favourite designers and discover that nothing is really suitable…  So I have been testing less.  😦

Actually I’m focusing on two major tasks:

1.  Block all the things that are finished except for blocking.  (I’m a little embarrassed to admit how many of those there are…)  There are some really lovely unblocked items in the cupboard and I want them wearable!

2.  Reduce the number of WIPs in the WIP basket.  Some have been there for way too long.

Task One.  Blocking.  I started with two in the pile…

I finally blocked my Sea Dreams of Gold

2015-03-13 16.08.33

sea dreams FO 1

This has already been worn and admired, and I love it.    Success!

And I reblocked my Algonquin,

2015-03-16 14.57.26

and got a very, very nasty shock.

Algonquin disaster

Yes, my gorgeous soft lace scarf has two big holes in it!!  I don’t know how or when it happened, because I checked not too long ago, but I am heartbroken.  I have carefully wrapped it up and put it away until I can decide what to do with it.  I’m not sure I have the yarn to repair it…I may fix it with other yarn and then knit something to sew over it, as an embellishment.  But I’m too upset to decide now.  (Imagine the violin music here…)  Sniff, sniff.

On to Task Two.  The WIP basket.

This is the basket:

WIP Basket

The green basket with all the project bags is the WIP basket.  (The blue basket underneath it is the Queue basket – projects not yet started that have the patterns and yarn ready and set aside.)


Starting with the project with a deadline – the Monsterpants! were finished and sent off to London.

Monsterpants FO

Because every baby should have a monster on its bum, right?  Got a text from the recipient’s mum:

Thank you SO much for the amazingly amazing monster bum pants!!!!! We LOVE them! It’s his first hand knitted clothing! It’s so nice of you and they really look professional!!! Love, (the whole family) xxxx

I had a lot of fun with these.  Many thanks to Ayelet in my Stitch-n-Bitch who was the first in the group to knit these for her little one.  However, note to self:  When doing colourwork with a lot of colour changes, WEAVE IN THE FREAKIN’ ENDS AS YOU GO!!!!

monster unwoven

Next out of the basket, I’m again working on the Mayflower socks after taking a break with them.  Finished one, started the second, and have made one of the flowers to sew on the stems.

mayflower left sock             mayflower 1st flower

Current in-front-of-the-TV project is once again the Op Art throw

op art 1

The rounds are getting l-o-n-g.  And there are many more to go.  I have also taken the note above to heart and have been weaving in the ends….  I want to cuddle up with this when I knit!

I have also dug out my first pair of magic-loop toe-up two-at-a-time socks, which have been hibernating for several years because I was having trouble figuring out when to begin the heel and just put them aside.  Patterned yarn, plain vanilla socks.

toe up taat ml socks

I have since made other toe up socks with no trouble, but these were just languishing away.  Then recently I bought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel instructions, and realized that this would be the perfect project to try it out with!  Kidlet helped me make a foot template (I made one for her too), and this is the current take-along project.  I’ve now finished the first heel and have started the second.

toe up taat 1st FLKH

I’m slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) making some progress with the infinity scarf that kidlet requested (and selected the yarn for herself – malabrigo lace – the kid’s got taste).  No pictures, because she may well see the blog, so here’s a yummy shot of the yarn:

malabrigo lace emerald

Once these are done, there are plenty more projects in the WIP basket to be chosen next.

Of course, even with the best intentions, there have been some new projects begun (and even completed), but they don’t belong in the two categories I’m dealing with here.  There are always exceptions, right?  You’ll hear all about them too.

And I’ve been doing a lot of designing, getting things test knitted and published, and that’s a whole new story.

I doubt the WIP basket will ever be totally empty.  Some things from the Queue basket may find themselves moving up.  And there are a couple of KALs calling to me…

But I feel like I’m accomplishing something, so don’t burst my illusion with reality, OK?


A Year of Sheep

February 19, 2015

As I come up for air and look around…

It’s the beginning of the Chinese New Year today, and in 2015 the Year of the Sheep commences!


May it herald a year  overflowing with yarn goodness, many projects coming off the needles, and joy!

happy new year of sheep


Still looking around.  Hm.  Lotta dust around here.  Must do something about that…

Gift knitting

November 29, 2014

Started an infinity scarf for kidlet.  She is very knitworthy, loving and appreciating what I knit for her.  She has been known to accost strangers who come to the flat with a display of all the wonderful things her mom has knit.  Very good for the ego, if a wee bit embarrassing at times.

She chose the yarn (Malabrigo lace – kid’s got good taste), and the pattern – Lace Ribbon Scarf, by Veronik Avery.  I used a provisional cast on onto a spare circular so I can kitchener the ends to make it an infinity scarf.  It will be interesting to figure out how to kitchener yarnovers, which are in every row.  I’ll let you know how that works out…

Pal Roberta helped me wind the yarn using her swift (it’s called the “Almighty Swift”, which amused us).


And I’ve started the pattern – almost through the chart the first time.


It should be a very light and airy scarf, and the malabrigo will be as luscious to wear as it is to work with.

Now if I can just pry my drop-by (castanho) cowl away from her I will be happy…  I would like to wear it occasionally myself.



Knit a Circuit?

November 28, 2014


Electronic art professor Jesse Seay has developed a tutorial to knit your own circuitry.

circuit board

He says in the instructions  he assumes you already know how to knit, solder, and wire up LEDs. (If you need to brush up on those skills, there are great tutorials all over the web.)

circuit wrist


He has done all of his projects on a knitting machine, but says it would be easy to hand knit a circuit board as well.

Now, there are several disclaimers about wearing knitting circuitry.

Disclaimer #1: Wearables made with this method are not intended for rough handling. Prom, yes. Soccer, no.

Disclaimer #2: Solder is toxic. Don’t wear the circuit against bare skin. Wash your hands after handling. Wear goggles when working.

Disclaimer #3: Some readers have expressed concern about lead from the solder leaching through fabric. I’m not an expert, but I suspect this would be an issue with wet fabric, not dry fabric. So keep your circuits dry — avoid rain, spills, and contact with sweat.

I’m baffled.

Other than displaying truly admirable geek status, I’m not really sure what this is for.

Can anyone please enlighten me?



Jonathan the Goat is Live!

November 26, 2014

The goat pattern Jonathan has now been released!

I can now show you the (not yet blocked) goats in the scarf so far:

First goat (actually goat three in the pattern):



Second goat:


(This was taken before I tinked back and fixed that missed slipped stitch between the horns.)

I’m now working on a non-goat section before I begin the third goat.

Lots of knitting time due to the rain and hail all around the country (and there’s snow up on our northern mountain, Mt. Hermon).  While driving to appointments I actually managed to catch a minute-long break in the storm to take a picture.  Then ran back to the car as the rain once again started pelting me.


Have a good one!

Testing testing

November 23, 2014

Well. the test is officially over today.  I will measure how much yarn I used, and my scarf dimensions (pre-blocking), and then I plan to knit some more to make it longer.  Until the yarn runs out.


I loved learning brioche for this project.  It took a little while, but I grokked it.


There are still lots of brioche variations to try.

So much knitting.

So little time.