27 February 2011

Belated Blogiversary

For some reason I thought it was today, but I missed it by 3 days, apparently. Anyway, this little blog is now five years old and ready to go off to kindergarten. Or something.

Today, on what I thought was my blogiversary, I hung out at Spa with a bunch of people whose company I enjoyed. And I didn't take a single photo. What I did do was finish off the gusset, turn the heel and knit up the heel flap on the second of a pair of socks I desperately want to get finished before we leave for Iceland. I finished the first one while waiting for Stephen Fry to receive an award from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and give a talk (at Harvard, as one would expect) last Tuesday night.*

No photos of the socks yet, since the pair isn't finished, but they're toe up with Sherman Short Row toes, arch shaping à la Oliver (Rav link), and a Widdershins-style heel. I do believe this may be THE sock formula for my feet. At least the first one seems about as close to perfect as I've ever come.

The yarn is merino/possum/silk sock yarn that I got from James. He's now sold off his remaining stock of this yarn, but I managed to snag a couple more pairs' worth from him on clearance. It is so soft that Danielle decided she had to stuff the first sock down her shirt. So now I can say my foot has touched her breast, which is about as rare a statement as it is odd, I believe.

Aside from that, I've also been getting my photographic equipment in order for Iceland. Remember this little camera I picked up a couple of years ago in Montréal?

Montreal 011

Well, being plastic and lightweight, I figured it'd be the perfect option for doing some film photography, so I've been stocking up on no-longer-produced 620 film spools on eBay. I dropped the first test rolls off for developing on my way to Spa today, so I'll find out soon what I might be able to expect from it. Meanwhile, these might give you some idea of the type of images that are possible.

Also, I'm taking my digital camera and have been working on my finishing skills using GIMP. Even as a grad student, Adobe Creative Suite would cost me $300. GIMP's $0 pricetag trumps that easily, and it works really well. I've been going back through some of my India photos and have reworked some that I didn't feel had captured what I saw as nicely as I'd hoped. The results have been much nicer.




Since that trip, I've also managed to track down an open source program that can convert Nikon's raw image format into one that can be manipulated by GIMP. That has also greatly improved my overall image quality and capabilities, so I hope to have some very nice shots to share from the Land of Fire and Ice.

*Mr. Fry did not disappoint in his talk and my respect for him is now even greater than I thought possible. This young woman, however, nearly stole the show when she sang this very song to him during the Q&A session afterward. I do believe he blushed.

16 February 2011

Og Fleiri Vettlingar!


I just finished up the létt-lopi mittens and couldn't wait to get a pic posted here. I'm really pleased with how these turned out, and you can see the cuffs of the handspun poking out of them. Now I'll have three layers of thick, squishy wool between my hands and the elements.

I could have done these with just two colors, but in the end, I'm fine with how the patterning turned out. The back-of-hand pattern is actually from a Selbu children's stocking pattern. I did the palms in a very basic diamond lattice pattern and diverged from traditional Selbu patterning by putting the thumb gusset on the side. Since these were made specifically to go over the handspun mittens, though, I didn't have an option. It was really easy to do, though, and the very simple speckled patterning is warm without floats to snag on.

The Nasty Ass Honey Badger

Unless you work with a bunch of foul-mouthed degenerates like I do, this may be NSFW. It is high-larious, though.

10 February 2011


In four weeks, David and I are actually going off on a short vacation that has no other agenda than vacation. Typically our travel involves work or family obligations, but not this time. And our destination? The land of the Viking sagas: Iceland.

I love visiting out-of-the-way places, and Iceland's always been in there on the list, but the devalued króna and some particularly good off-season package deals finally made it a viable possibility. David, as usual, was skeptical, but the prospect of spending 6 days somewhere with tons of geothermal hot springs was a huge selling point.

Anyway, visiting Iceland in early March meant one thing, in particular: a reason to knit some new mittens. I have some Létt-Lopi one of our former techs brought me from a trip there a couple of years ago, so those will (hopefully) become nice, thick Nordic-patterned outer mittens. I started on them tonight, but I think they need to be frogged so I can make the cuff looser. I wanted something a little softer for an inner layer, though, so I decided that would be a good project for some of my own handspun that had been sitting around for a few years now.


The wool is the lambswool from a border leicester cross that I got at NH Sheep & Wool (The Year of the Deluge), and I absolutely love how these turned out. While my spinning could have been more even, it all worked nicely in the finished fabric, which is squishy and very cozy. And I do believe this is the first real project I've ever completed using my own handspun. No pattern for these. As I often do, I made it up as I went along. The cuffs are baby cable rib for a little extra warmth, and the thumb gussets are placed on the side so that they'll go on either hand.

The other advantage to using stash? It helps free up space for all the really, really cheap Icelandic yarn I anticipate buying. In fact, I did a major cleanup and destashing this past weekend. This trip wasn't the sole reason, as it was very badly needed, but it may well have given slightly greater urgency to the task.

As it was, I managed to empty out a huge box that had been at the bottom of a huger pile of stuff, untouched since I moved in over 5 years ago. That, in turn, freed up space along the wall for some of the bins I'd been storing under my bed. So now there's an empty bin under the bed and space to fit more bins. And since I have more non-yarn bins that need to be gone through and that I may well be able to free up, I'm foreseeing a distinct possibility of a yarn frenzy up near the Arctic Circle in the very near future.

03 February 2011

Snow Days

I seem to have lost my blogging voice of late, or maybe I've just got too little worth saying. There has definitely been a bit too much dull regularity around here of late. And everyone already knows we've had a lot of this:


That photo was taken at the home of my friends Shawn & Chris. I stayed with them Tuesday night in anticipation of the latest storm, since they live much, much closer to my workplace than I do. As it turned out, the storm wasn't quite as dire as predicted and I likely could have gone home. Since I don't see my friends nearly often enough, though, it was nice to have the chance to catch up a little bit.

Meanwhile, I noticed the night before that that the sweater Tuck was wearing had chafed him pretty badly on one of his legs, and since I was already planning not to head home and didn't have an alternative for him to wear, I figured I need to knit him up a new, non-chafing sweater toute de suite. Fortunately, I had some Berkshire Bulky from Webs that I'd gotten to try out a pattern idea and decided I could spare a ball to keep him warm. In the end, I needed just a smidge more than one ball to finish, but the end product certainly works well.


He was so sleepy, it was all he could do to hold his head up. Clearly, being a model is hard work.