2013 wrap-up

2013 was, for me, a year with a lot of changes. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. I left a job, sold a house, moved to Indiana, started a new job, moved back to Michigan, started another new job, and moved again into a second apartment. Despite all the self-inflicted upheaval, though, we are really pleased with where we are. We’re delighted to be back in Mount Pleasant and have been welcomed back into the community by old friends. We’re back to being a relatively quick drive away from my folks and it’s been really terrific to get together with them regularly. And my new job is going well. It’s definitely very different from the other places I’ve worked, but I feel like there is a lot that I can do and that I am doing it well.

According to Goodreads, I managed to read 40 books this year.

Goodreads 2013 stats photo Goodreads_My_Review_Stats_-_2013-12-31_090735_zps30e5f04c.pngForty that I remembered to add to Goodreads, at any rate. I’m sure that there are at least a few that I forgot to record.

I thought I’d add some stats from Flickr, but then remembered that they only offer them going back about a month – LAME. I also found Facebook’s year in review to be super-boring (this is possibly because what I post is boring, but I’ll choose the popular way: blame Facebook). In putting together this post I also realized that I’d never installed a stats plugin here (until now), so I’ve got nothing to share there for this year. Ah well!

Though I disappointingly did not find a tidy way to see them on Ravelry, I did a tally and noticed that, yeah, I did a lot of knitting this year: 185 finished objects! That includes over 70 Cunning Hats and about two dozen xmas gifts. I participated in the Harry Potter Knit Crochet House Cup in the Winter, Spring, and Fall terms (stupidly I just missed the deadline to be sorted for winter 2014 – guess I’ll be participating as a Student on Sabbatical this time!).

I’m looking forward to another productive year in 2014. I’m planning to keep up with reading and knitting and to do a lot more sewing than I did in 2013. I’m also looking forward to doing more Blythe stuff – with all the moves, my dolls were packed away for a good portion of the year and I’m happy to say that they have now reemerged (and are ready for some hair treatments – holy static cling!). How was your year? Did you meet your goals? Do the things you wanted to do?

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Wolfsbane Cowl

This is, of course, another HPKCHC/destashing project: the Wolfsbane Cowl, made for the Apothecary assignment.

Wolfsbane Cowl

It’s another one for Susan, since the colorway reminded me of her winter wardrobe palette and I thought the blue and white tones would really suit her.

Wolfsbane Cowl

Wolfsbane, also known as Monkshood or Aconite, is a potion ingredient with extremely toxic leaves. Therefore, despite its lovely blue blossoms, it must be stored in a clear glass apothecary jar so that the contents are quite visible and not mistaken for anything less poisonous. This cowl is inspired by the look of Wolfsbane resting inside the glass: the blue color is visible and enticing, and as light shines through the jar, parts of the plant take on a glowing, almost white appearance. It is a rich color that calls out to you, even though you know that it’s inside the glass for good reason. As the color fades from rich blue to white and back again, the intermediate shades are a faint bluish grey in places, which is also reminiscent of the smoke that issues from a well-brewed Wolfsbane Potion.

Wolfsbane Cowl

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hat hat hat

I have been making all the hats as I continue to use up bits of leftover yarn in my stash and knit assignments for the Harry Potter Knit Crochet House Cup. I think I may also be trying to give cooler weather a little nudge.

First off, I made a Pewter Cauldron Hat for Potage’s Cauldron Shop.

Pewter Cauldron Hat

This hat is the color of a pewter cauldron, perhaps one that has been somewhat neglected and lacks the shine of a new potion-brewing vessel. On the side of the hat are two cable twists, inspired by the precise stirring motions necessary for brewing spot-on potions. In this case, the brewer (knitter) used a synthetic fiber and smaller needles than she should have, making the weave a bit tighter than desirable and leaving the hat with less drape than it should have for this style. She did, however, learn a new technique (Tubular Cast-On), so certainly the endeavor was not for naught. Like potion-making, knitting can be a trial and error venture, and, in the eyes of this brewer (more generous than Professor Snape might be), as long as you learned something, it’s not a failure.

That one was theoretically going to be for K, but it may end up a donation.

Next up was the Wand Hat for Ollivanders.

wand hat

My wand is Ash with a Phoenix Feather core. It is 12 1/2 inches long and has a pliant flexibility. Like my wand chose me in Ollivanders Wand Shop, this hat project chose me on a recent morning when the temperature started to cool off and show that fall is really on the way (never mind that it since changed its tune and is back in the 90sF). This yarn was waiting for me to choose it, as well, as part of my current destashing project. The brown yarn is the color of Ash wood, and the knitting sections contrasting with purl rows is reminiscent of the distinctive bark of a mature Ash tree. The grey yarn brings to mind the just-hatched Phoenix chick, covered in ashes and soot following its rebirth by fire. This hat will be sure to keep its owner warm and protected from the elements and prepared for winter weather just as a wizard or witch feels protected and prepared carrying the wand that has chosen him or her.

This one I think I’ll keep for myself, though I don’t often wear earth tones. I think the grey brings it close enough to my comfort zone.

Finally, the In the Red of the Night Hat for Knockturn Alley.

In the Red of the Night hat

This hat is designed to allow the wearer to blend into the sometimes dodgy crowd who frequent Knockturn Alley. The repeated cables give the wearer the ability to twist and turn through the narrow streets and alleys, escaping notice through fluid movement. The deep red color is reminiscent of the blood-stained pack of cards Harry glimpsed in the glass case at Borgin and Burkes during his first visit there, and is a dark color likely to blend in with the wardrobes of those lurking in Knockturn Alley. The ball on top is similar to a clabbert pustule, a potion ingredient that can be found at the Knockturn Alley branch of Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary, though this hat’s orb maintains its red hue, unlike the pustule which would flash red in the presence of danger (not a wise thing to visually alert in Knockturn Alley).

This one is for Susan, to celebrate her being back in a climate where big fluffy hats are necessary. Hopefully she doesn’t run into any shady characters while wearing it.

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pinkie boucle

This scarf is part of my continuing effort to destash and is also due to my renewed enthusiasm for building up my work-appropriate scarf collection. My building is usually kept at a pretty brisk temperature and since I sit still in my office most of the day, I definitely need an assortment of scarves to keep me comfortable.

Pinkie boucle scarf on the needles

You can see in the photo above that this yarn knits up really nicely in an open stitch pattern. Even before blocking (as above), it has a nice drape and the pattern starts to come out.

Pinkie Boucle Scarf blocking

In the shot above, it is on the blocking boards and the pattern really opens up.

Pinkie boucle scarf blocking

Finding a good spot to block long scarves is always a challenge, but luckily the guest room was unoccupied.

Pinkie Boucle Scarf

Here it is after blocking. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out! My blocking wires are still packed away somewhere (I cannot for the life of me remember which box they’re in – not any of the boxes I’ve looked in so far!) but I was able to make do without them with only a few pin points around the edges.

Pinkie Boucle Scarf

This yarn is very light and has a terrific drape, thanks to it being made of a rayon fiber. I think an airy open stitch pattern works really well with this type of yarn.

Pinkie Boucle Scarf

These camera phone pics don’t really do it justice, but this yarn has a variety of shades of pink ranging from very light, soft pink to an intense magenta.

Pinkie Boucle Scarf

This project also counts as part of my ongoing effort to bring some bright colors into my wardrobe while still remaining close enough to my comfort zone that I don’t feel awkward. Since I started it in August but finished in September, I was also able to count it as a detention project for the Harry Potter Knit Crochet House Cup. This month the classes are all part of a field trip to Diagon Alley, so this is my Leaky Cauldron project. (Go Hufflepuff!)

Pinkie Boucle Scarf

I’m quite pleased with this project and I’ll definitely be wearing this scarf to work soon.

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Wolfsbane Neck Warmer

Today brings yet another stash-busting HPKCHC project: the Wolfsbane Neck Warmer, made for Potions, naturally.

Wolfsbane Neck Warmer

This yarn is really soft and will be very comfortable to wear.

Wolfsbane Neck Warmer

I also finally used the remote we bought months ago for the DSLR. I’d been doing a bunch of DIY around the house all day, so please ignore any bits of paint you may notice in my hair. I’m happy to report that the remote is super easy to use! I didn’t figure out all of its functions yet, but I was able to hook it up, throw the camera on a tripod, and take some pics without any hassle. It would be handy to have a mirror so I could see how the knitted object is sitting. There is probably some kind of gadget that will show you what’s in frame, right?

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Alohamora

This project is one of those that ends up being so right in every way: it knits up quickly and easily, it used up some yarn in my stash, and the finished product is lovely and something I think I will wear.

Alohamora Neck Wrap

I made this for HPKCHC Charms, hence its namesake, Alohamora. This is some leftover yarn that has been sitting around for years waiting for me to find a use for it. Elizabeth Benson’s Intriguingly Posh Neckwarmer pattern to the rescue! The yarn is 100% merino and is super-duper soft. I also love the variegation in this colorway – you wouldn’t necessarily think, “this purple yarn needs some maroon in it,” but it works perfectly. I chose to highlight that little bit of color with the buttons (which were a splurge at Joann for $.47 total – thank you, Coupon Commotion!). Best of all, this is just garter stitch with a couple of button holes at the start and took just a tiny amount of time to complete. This one’s a winner!

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Lapis Lazuli

The HPKCHC Divination prompt for February was to make something inspired by one of the colors associated with the four houses at Hogwarts. I chose Lapis Lazuli, so I could use up some more of this lovely blue bamboo/wool yarn.

Lapis Lazuli Mitts

I think they turned out quite well! I’m pleased with these very spread out cables, since they work well with a longer glove like this.

Lapis Lazuli Mitts

This yarn is also super-duper soft, so these will be very comfy to wear.

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Amortentia

February’s Potions challenge was to craft something that represents what your personal Amortentia would smell like. For me, this would include the smell of cookies baking (vanilla), but also something fresh and clean and like sunlight shining on you.

Amortentia Cowl

This cowl is part of my continuing stash-bust. It’s very soft and completely washable. It is a very loose weave so it’s airy and light. If you’re interested in it, let me know and I’ll send it your way!

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squashed TARDIS, or sometimes things don’t go to plan

The second game of Quidditch is on in the HPKCHC, and the assignment this time was to pair up with another crafter and each make the same pattern but each modify it in some way. I partnered up with a student from Slytherin (interhouse unity!) and we agreed to both modify and make this Bunny Dishcloth.

Of course I thought, how can I make this pattern more nerdy and cool? So I charted out a quick TARDIS and set to knitting. It quickly became clear that the TARDIS was going to end up looking squished. And then it became clear that I was going to run out of yarn before I finished. (Note: remember when I said I wasn’t knitting any more dishcloths and was putting the remaining yarn in the Goodwill bag? Well I couldn’t bring myself to donate it and had to knit it up myself. I can’t bear to let any yarn go unknit, apparently.)

squashed TARDIS badge dishcloth

So, this being a modification challenge anyway, I decided that it would be a badge-shaped dishcloth. I bound off at what looked like the right place, and then undid some of the beginning rows to make a flat edge. It’s not a piece I’m particularly proud of, but it will still be useful because really, a dishcloth can be whatever shape and it doesn’t matter at all if the motif isn’t what I had pictured. So, you win some, you fail some. I’d count this as a half-fail.

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