Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gah! I'm Addicted!

So bad news. Our pool currently has a leak in it. I know! It's so sad! This past week hasn't been the best for sunning weather-wise, but today is perfect for it. But without our little pool, it's much too hot. So I'm stuck inside, feeling fidgety (and doing laundry). No worries though, a new pool body is already on order. But I'm not necessarily the most patient person out there, you know?

Speaking of which, Dan and I are currently doing some tightening of the budgetary belt so we can work on saving up a downpayment (of roughly 50%) for our next house. Oh, don't worry - it's a more long-term plan so don't think that we'll be asking to borrow a truck or for help packing stuff up, at least not any time soon. But it does mean is that I have picked out my favorite-est needles ever in the whole wide world... AND I HAVEN'T BOUGHT THEM YET.

Y'all, I'm such a preoccupied dork about these needles that I've actually dreamed about the beasties. Twice.

And what do you suppose I've been doing to entertain myself on this non-pool-able day? Yes, I've been surfing the HiyaHiya website. Sigh. Which means, yes, I have a massive list of things I want from them now. Not just the SHARP 4" interchangeables small set, but the 4" regular interchangeables, too (both sets). And oh, don't all those smaller-sized DPNs look enticing? Ack, and those cute accessory cases! And they have 9" circular needles! AHHH!

Seriously, I need my pool back up and running just so I don't try to spend our grocery money on knitting needles. I'm obsessed!

Delayed Pretty

A few posts ago I mentioned that one of the reasons for my blog-related quietness was 1) that I lead a boring life but also 2) that I had been knitting some things that I couldn't post about because they were gifts. I mentioned the shawl I made for my mom's birthday but didn't have a picture of it in use (just of it being knit and of it blocking, neither which I thought pretty enough to share). But my mom sent me some camera phone pictures of her wearing it to church this morning, so now I have something to post!

Look at the pretty!


If you want a staggering amount of non-important information related to the actual knitting of this lovely little wonder shawl, you can check out my Ravelry project for it. Otherwise, just know that the yarn is actually this clown-red that I overdyed with tea to calm it down (it's actually the same yarn I used to make my dad's crawfish, but the crawfish was not overdyed and thus retained it's brightness). I didn't do the tea soak until I had already finished knitting it (since I knew I wanted to use some of the originally bright yarn for said crawfish) and until it was all soaked and blocked, I was mentally scrambling to figure out what I could give my mom for her birthday because there was no way the shawl was going to be nice enough to give as a gift.

Thankfully, I think it ended up turning out nicely! Which is almost a little disappointing because the shawl is this light whisper of a thing that feels so soft and squishy but is nicely warm... I could have given it a good home if I had ruined it!

Oh well, guess that just means I have to make something similar for myself!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's an Upset!

(Sorry non-knitting blog-followers. This will bore you. But good news - this is the last mega-post about needles. Yay!)

The results are in! After much venting, babbling and hand-wringing, I've finally settled upon my perfect wooden interchangeable needle set - and you won't believe what I picked!

At the end of my last post, I had some favorites but knew I couldn't decide which one I would truly love until I had knitted with them a bit. So I've taken a few hours to knit some swatches and tubes and even a little heart (which Dan felt did not look at all heart-like but rather like a more southernly bit of anatomy) and I've come to some conclusions.

Addi Click Natura

Addi Natura in US8

I really thought these needles might be the one. They are smooth, silky and warm with lovely points (which are quite pointy for bamboo) and the cable is delightfully flexible and memory-less. They are longer than any of the other needles I have, but that didn't seem to be a problem at all when I knit with them. In fact, it was quite nice and they didn't hit my hand in the same way the KP needles do, so I was quickly comforted that I wouldn't end up bending the cable against my palm. These seemed so great - I was totally prepared to want them.

And then I knitted with them for a while.

The join! It's awful! That little lip between the metal on needle and on the cable caught every single stitch of yarn. And I was using an aran-weight 100% wool and not knitting tightly. I can only imagine how catchy it would be with a less friendly yarn or on a smaller needle.

Ultimately, I think these are good quality, well-done needles, totally ruined by the join. I would be more than willing to check out Addi DPNs or straights and maybe even fixed circs. But any Addi interchangeable is off the table for me.

KA Switch

KA Switch in US9

I was a bit concerned by the little divot where the metal connects to the bamboo on these needles. But my concern was unnecessary - these are delightful. They are smooth, silky and warm with fantastic cables. The cable probably corresponds to KnitPick/Knitter's Pride cables but they swivel - this one is probably my favorite cable of the bunch that I tried out (though I've only tried this one size of KA Switch cables; I believe there are two other thicknesses that correspond to needle diameter which I have not played with). The smoothness of these compares to the KP needles as well, though knitting with the KPs after using these made me feel that the KPs were a bit uneven, almost like certain areas were stickier than others.

The points aren't as sharp as the Addis, but I never felt they were too dull. The join on these are great - most of the time the stitches flowed wonderfully over it. The only time I had an issue was when I pulled the last stitch too tight while Magic Looping, making me have to work it a little to get on the needle. But that's my knitting's fault, not the join.

Bottom line: I really really like these. I would love having a set of these. In fact, I can't really think of anything bad about these needles. Well, maybe that they are harder to find than other brands. But seriously, great needles.

HiyaHiya Bamboo

HiyaHiya in US10.5

I was not impressed by these when my order showed up. I grumped both about the plastic-y feel of the resin-impregnated bamboo and the cheap-looking and -feeling metal join.

Well, I was half-right. I don't like the bamboo on these. It feels like knitting with acrylic needles - there's an almost nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling in my bones when I use these. They are also by far the grabbiest interchangeable needle I have tried. (My fixed Clover circ still ranks as number one for stickiest overall needle.) I didn't enjoy these.

Okay, that's not fully correct. There was a bit of knitting with these that I did enjoy and that was when the stitches would go over the join. OMG, it was fantastic. The join is just beautifully smooth. And that metal that I didn't find impressive? Like butter. It's so great.

Ultimately, I dislike these needles. I probably would be more willing to knit with them than the Addis simply because of the join but I really don't like how grabby these are and can't imagine getting another needle pair, much less a set of these. But the (fantastic, wonderful, silky) join made me think...

How are the HiyaHiya Steel needles?

HiyaHiya Steel

HiyaHiya Steel in US8

First let me explain my dislike of metal needles. Certain types (like KP's nickel-plated) are too slick and too heavy. When I'm knitting and take my hands off of the needles, they have a tendency of falling out of my work. I detest this. Aluminum (like Boye) tends to not be as slick or heavy, but they have a texture to them that makes my ears ache with the soft almost-grinding when they rub up against each other.

But the HiyaHiya Steel? Are practically perfect. And I don't say that lightly. I am predisposed to disliking metal. But these are everything I want in a needle.

The joins, as I mentioned with the bamboo ones, are wonderful - they are so nicely tapered that the stitches, even too-tight ones, slide right up. The metal is silky smooth, not glassy slick. When I say silk, I mean silk - it's just like petting a silk shirt. They rank as less grabby than laminate wood needles but grabbier than nickel-plated needles, which I think is fantastic. And these needles are apparently hollow so they don't have the weight that many other metal needles do. These are light enough that with as few as just two stitches on the needle they stay securely in my work. Two stitches!

The cables swivel nicely (I had an issue with the swivel on the bamboo initially but that smoothed out quickly - it's still not as perfect as the KA swivel but good enough that I wouldn't realize it could be smoother if not for the KA). There's a hair more memory, it seems, in the cable than my ideal cable, but the flexibility combined with the swivel means it doesn't cause any problems (Magic Looping is cake). I also love the fact that all of their metal needles come in both 4" and 5" sizes (though I'll be going with the 4").

Probably the only complaint I have is that the points are a bit duller than what I would prefer but that's not really a problem because 1) they are pretty much the same point as the Addi Naturas, which I didn't have an issue with and 2) I accidentally ordered a pair of the HiyaHiya Steel, not the HiyaHiya SHARP Steel so yes, there are sharper versions out there (though the larger diameter needles won't be released until later this year). There is a tiny bit of whooshing sound as the needles rub together which I don't love (I like the quiet, dull tap of wood needles) but it doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies, isn't as loud as brands like Boye and doesn't sound like glass pieces tinkling together like KP metals, so I'm cool with it.

I love these needles. I will be buying these needles (in the SHARP version) in the next few months (well, the smaller sizes set... the larger sizes will have to wait until, you know, HiyaHiya releases them).

Ironic, yes? My search for the perfect wooden interchangeable set has resulted in me deciding to get a set of metal interchangeables. But that's not quite the end of it.

I love (LOVE!) the HiyaHiyas. But I'm quite partial to the KA Switches, too. If I was forced to get just one set, I'd go with the Hiyas, but if I was forced to get, you know, a wood (okay, bamboo) set, I'd go with the KA Switch. And I can imagine a situation where I'll need maybe something a tiny bit grabbier or need a second (or third) set of needles in a particular size or some other point that will help me justify getting more than one set of needles. So that's what I want to do: get both the HiyaHiya (specifically the 4" SHARP set) and the KA Switch set. Ta-da! The winners!

I'm really pleased with this whole adventure. I fell in love with a needle (metal!) that I probably wouldn't have looked at otherwise, confirmed that another needle (the KAs) are a good match for me as well and now have the confidence that the needle sets I'll end up with are the perfect ones for me.


Other posts in my needle hunt saga:
Part I A and Part I B
Part II
This page is Part III
Some gushing about the big winner
My KA Switch Short set review
And my Chiaogoo Spin and Twist review is here

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I've been quiet blog-wise lately, but that's mostly because the most excitement going on has been knitting-related and both of my recent projects have been gifts, so I haven't been able to post about them.

But today was Father's Day and I got to give my dad quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever knitted.

A crawfish.

Knit Crawfish

Isn't that freakin' adorable? I'll admit, I squeed a lot while I was putting the finishing touches on it. SO CUTE. But I do recognize that it easily at least ties (if not beats out) my previously knit adorable absurdity, the Rubber Chicken.


The other recent knitting project I just gifted was a shawl for my mom for her birthday. (Her birthday hasn't hit yet but Dan's got work activities that weekend, so I gave it to her early.) I don't have a good picture of that yet, so hopefully I'll get one I can post soon-ish.

In other knitting news, I've been working on narrowing down my interchangeable needles to find that one perfect set. I've gotten it down to two and hopefully I'll come to a conclusion between the two shortly and I'll post more about it than anyone here wants to read.

In non-knitting news, my garden is growing. I'm having some issues with my butterbeans (the grasshoppers think they are delicious) and the butterbeans, zucchini and squash are all having issues draining. I think I've solved the draining issue by drilling some more holes in the pots and I'm hoping that will make the butterbeans happier so they aren't as vulnerable to the grasshoppers.

The okra and tomatoes are doing good - I have a couple more okra almost ready to harvest, one Marglobe tomato turning a nice orange color, about six Roma tomatoes that are still green but they look happy. Also, my Rutgers tomato plant is finally putting out some blooms as is the slower Marglobe plant. My zucchini aren't really doing anything and the squash are blooming like crazy but, aside from one single female bloom, all of the squash blooms have been male.

At the very least, it looks like we'll have okra and tomatoes this year. Which is pretty yum, so I'll take that!

Friday, June 8, 2012

I Didn't Mean To Do That

Rumor has it that I'm stubborn and a bit head-strong. And yeah, I have a little bit of a tendency to do things just to be contrary. Not intentionally contrary, just more of an "oh yeah, well you're wrong and I can do xyz." I'm not at the Marty-McFly-drag-racing-to-prove-he's-not-a-chicken level or anything. Just sometimes I have trouble backing down from a challenge. Even one I accidentally issue myself.

A few weeks ago, my mom and I were talking about different toiletries that we use, specifically whether we go gluten- and corn-free, respectively (as my mom is Celiac). She trends towards the going gluten-free products and my stance was basically "it's too hard to go corn-free".

Sigh. I didn't even realize I had challenged myself.

Too hard. Bah! I laugh in the face of "too hard"! Or rather, I spend hours searching the internet for allergy-friendly alternatives to things and ways of making my own household products instead of buying the corn-packed commercial versions.

So that's what I've been doing lately. And I'm having perhaps more luck than my wallet would prefer. I already use a corn-free toothpaste (Squigle, if you are wondering) but now I'm switching over to corn-free soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. I've found Gluten-Free Savonnerie, which has a variety of gluten- and corn-free items. (I got their sample set and so far I can say I like their shampoo, love their conditioner, love their lotion and really like their liquid Castille soap.) I've also found their sister site, Dakota Free. Not all of their stuff is corn-free (though most are) but they have the allergens checklist on each item so it is easy to check. I haven't purchased anything from here yet but there are a few things I think I want to check out. I've also found a nifty seller on Etsy, HaloSoap, that has some corn-free goodies and is currently mixing up some special order body butter and toner without glycerin (the glycerin she uses is from a palm/corn mix) to make it corn-less. And if that weren't enough (because, okay, it isn't), I've been scouring the internet to find easy DIY things that I can attempt to make once I run out of whatever it would be replacing (laundry detergent, spray starch, deodorant... it's sort of ridiculous how much corn is still in our how) and have been collecting them on Pintrest.

So basically I'm turning into a big hippie.