Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
It took some very dedicated knitting and I really was tempted to stop before I got three inches on the ruffle, but I did all three inches and then some. It took me three evenings to bind the thing off. Oh, ruffles, why must I be so drawn to you when you are so very boring and tedius to knit (and bind off)? It is an unhealthy love.
I am somewhat at a loss for how to block this piece, though. There are instructions included for blocking the ruffle, but no blocking diagram or anything like that. I am contemplating whether my blocking wires will go all the way around it, or whether I should use string, or whether I should actually block it in wedges. I have to contemplate this further. I plan to wear this to my choir performance on Dec. 13 so I have a little bit of time to get it done.
I worked on that project with such dedication and exclusivity that I am kind of at a loss for what to do now that is done. I have run into some difficulties with my Christmas knitting, and have kind of put it on hold until I can figure out how to handle the difficulty. Unfortunatley this means that my Christmas knitting is not progressing, and time flows ever more swiftly. This season is really busy at work, plus I have all of the church activities, plus family traditions. I am really tight on time, especially because I have to fly to my parents' the Sunday before Christmas, so a huge portion of the stuff that has to be done, has to be done quickly. This is not at all conducive to knitting anything complicated or learning new techniques.
Speaking of which, I failed to start another pair of socks for me because they are toe up and I couldn't get past the cast-on. I think I need smaller needles or something, but I used the smallest ones I had. It uses a figure 8 cast-on and no matter what I did, it seemed like there were huge gaps between the stitches and the whole world would be able to see my pedicure, which can't help keep the socks from wearing out. I ripped them out and fumed for a bit. I haven't decided whether I am going to try again or...not. Maybe I should try a heavier fingering weight yarn or something. I do have a skein of Casbah left over from the Yellowstone shawl, but it's not in the colors I wanted for this sock.
I don't know. I like to think I am a pretty open-minded knitter but I am just not feeling the love for the toe-up sock. Maybe I will give the short-row toe another try even though that is not what the pattern suggests. I didn't really have a problem doing the short-row toe the last time I tried it, I just - don't hate me - thought it was kind of silly. I kept thinking, if I were knitting cuff down, I'd be starting the pattern by now. Instead I am going round and round on this silly toe. I kind of hated the yarn I was using too so that made me less tolerant.
A few months ago, I went to Catonsville, MD for a wedding, and while I was there I stopped in at Cloverhill Yarn Shop, which is always one of my favorite booths at MD Sheep and Wool. I picked up an ornament kit from Ornamental Knits, for the Beaded Lace Ornament. Every year the ladies in my church have an ornament exchange and every year I have brought a hand-made ornament - some, I admit, more successful than others. I do sometimes get a little nervous about handmade ornaments because my mother can't stand them, but - too bad!! It just adds a little extra fun for me for the ornament exchange. I did have some reservations because I just haven't seen that many knitted ornaments that looked really good, and the photography on the kits is not really stunning, so I felt like I was taking a chance. I put it off and put it off and finally picked it up last night, since the ornament exchange is, you know, today. I was able to finish it all in the single evening (thank goodness because I couldn't find the beaded ornament cover kits that were my backup plan) and it came out looking really darn good. However, I have sometimes been very proud of something that took me a lot of work to do, and then later said..."what was I thinking???" so I brought in to work today for test opinions. Both my coworkers gushed, so I feel reasonably confident that it will be well received. I am a little nervous, just because I didn't follow the finishing instructions, which were to wrap the 'yarn' around the top of the ornament five times and then glue it. Instead, I put the yarn through the last row of loops a second time and then kind of wove it in. It looked kind of pitiful while I was knitting it, but as all things, it improved when blocked (which is to say, it improved when the ornament was shoved in it, which had generally the same effect as blocking.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
There have been some pet related crises in the past week chez CraftNinja, so appologies for the lack of blog. I just haven't been in the mood. Also, you know, we are in that Christmas knitting period where it's difficult to talk about things because you become paranoid that the recipient might run across your blog. Like, they never read blogs, and barely even know what a blog is, but you know, you KNOW, that if you put a Christmas present for them up on the blog, somehow they will find it. So some of that is going on.
So the stuff I can tell you:
--I started a sock out of Schaeffer Ann, which I have never used before, and had to frog it because there was this funky twisted stitch thing on the top that looks really cool but made it too tight. Considering whether to try again or browse around for a different pattern.
--I am still working on Flamenco, in the hopes that I can finish it in time to wear at Christmas, since it is really, really red. However, since I have Christmas presents that also must be worked on, I feel this deadline is kind of tight. I'm on row 26 of 75, but the rows get progressively longer and then there is the ruffle. I don't know why I persist in knitting things with ruffles since ruffles invariably mean that either the cast-on or the cast-off is a nightmare, but I am apparently ruffle-addicted. (Yes, I know of the flirty ruffles shawl from Fiddlesticks, and also the Musetta shawl, and many other ruffled shawls I am trying desperately not to remember)
--I bought a skein of the mink/cashmere yarn that has been making the blog rounds that I intend to make into handwarmers for my mom to put in her stocking. I wish there were some way of verifying the claims about this yarn, but either my OOH YARN impulse or my general tendency to believe people are telling the truth led me to go ahead and purchase it. Angels did not sing and there was no light from heaven when I opened the bag, as I had been led to believe, but other blog readings have convinced me that in order to get the angel choir, you have to add water. So we will revisit this when the mitts are knit and washed, and I will let you know whether there is any angelic apearance. (My mom is the one person who I am dead certain would never find this blog nor read it if she did, so I can say this safely)
--I am working on <censored> from <censored> for <censored>, in <censored> as a Christmas present for <censored>. I also plan to make <censored> from <censored> but I haven't picked the yarn yet. (The great thing is, this bullet point can actually cover multiple projects depending on what you fill in for the censored spots. Saves me some typing!)
--The Rogue sweater is in time-out until I get over my bitterness at these cabled increases along the ragland seams. I really hate knitting them. It galls me that this sweater will fly by when I get through that mess, but that I have to get through it first.
--I finished the first sock in the raspberry black forest yarn and am on to the second. I still don't like the fiber blend very much, but the finished sock is absolutely lovely. I'm through the cuff and into the patterned part of the leg, and the nice thing about this pattern is that it is easy to look at the sock and count repeats, so I know how many I have to knit in order to get socks of the same length. (I know, I could count rows or weave a thread back and forth or whatever, but I'm comfortable with eyeballing it and accepting that there may be a row's difference in the length between my socks. I am pretty confident no one else is going to measure.)
--Veronique and the Featherweight cardigan are advancing a row at a time. This is a consequence of having too much stuff on the needles. I think I'm finished with the collar on the Featherweight collar - or, to be more accurate - I'm done with it. I'm totally done with this stupid collar. I can live with it being maybe a teeny bit shorter than it was designed to be. So when I get around to casting it off, I should be able to knit the sleeves which I desperately hope will go quickly, because I could really use a dose of 'finish-it' self-esteem.
--I can't show you pictures of any of this because Photoshop Elements 3 is not compatible with Vista and I am still waiting on my new copy of Photoshop to arrive. Woe.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I have an extremely insecure relationship with my new computer so I have put off blogging a little bit. Now I can't remember what I have and haven't blogged about, so...Roll call!
1. Featherweight Cardigan. I thought I was done with the collar until I checked the instructions and saw that I have to knit 3.5 inches and not 2 inches. Woe. So I have 1.5 more inches of collar to do, and both sleeves. I'm finding this a little depressing and so the cardigan is not getting much play, which is...obviously not helping matters anyway.
2. Moody Blues Socks for the Man. These are done and delivered. Even when you have to rip out a heel and do it twice, a sock flies when you have been knitting a gargantuan garter stitch shawl for three months. Delivery was especially quick since he was sitting next to me on the couch as I wove in the ends.
3. Veronique. Still neglected, but at least getting a little play at night when I want something simple. I am definitely reacting to the weather as I speculated in my last post, because the laceweight mohair project is getting way more play than the silk blend laceweight. The only reason the featherweight one is getting any play at all is because it is so close to being done.
4. Eris. Living up to its name. It seems that raglan shaping is some kind of knitterly secret that you are not allowed to google. I got lots of hits of people talking about it and 0 about what it actually is and what I'm supposed to do when the pattern starts talking about it. I finally solved this problem (somewhat) by rereading the directions, which actually told me what to do, kind of, and by buying The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns on sale at Nature's Yarns. All hail Ann Budd, who finally provided a good explanation of what raglan shaping is and showed me pictures that made it all clear (and now that I know what it is, I can tell you the girl sitting in front of me in training today has a sweater with raglan sleeve shaping). I have finally reached the end of the short rows, which will make my life a little easier, but frankly I am finding these cable increases a little difficult to do. I have suspicions that they are difficult because I do not use a cable needle, making it tricky to increase while cabling because of enhanced risk of dropping the stitches involved. I think I've finally got the hang of it, but I'm not really sure I like the way it looks. Also, I dropped my knitting at one point (by which I mean, I tossed it down on the couch as I got up to go feed the dog) and when I came back my stitch marker was gone and a couple of stitches were hanging off the needles. No big deal, except I put the marker back in the wrong place so I ended up moving my decreases one stitch to the left for the next four rows or so. When I discovered the error, I contemplated ripping back (in fact, I contemplated ripping all the way back to the pickup stitches and doing different increases because I'm just not sure I like the way it looks anyway) but I decided that it continued that way for a short enough time that I could just move it back and go on. I'll let you guys know how that works out. So anyway, I'll be a little relieved when I get past the increases, because they are interfering with my hockey viewing, although this seems to be beneficial to the Caps because they always score when I look down to increase.
5. Hanami. Abandonned for now, but not unloved. I want to get some of the cold-weather projects done first.
6. Flamenco. I would still like to do this project but I have to find a way to manage the charts without losing my mind first. Instead of working the charts in sequence (row 1-50 of chart A followed by row 1-50 of chart B) these charts are all worked at once - you work row 1 of chart A and then row 1 of chart B and then row 1 of Chart C and then you turn and work your wrong side row and then work row 2 of Chart A, row 2 of chart B, row 2 of Chart C, etc. I can see at once that this will drive me TOTALLY BATTY so I have to somehow figure out how I can manage all that paper, especially since each chart spans two pages, and one spans three. I usually knit on the couch with my stuff on the back of the couch or on a TV tray (I'm not a very organized invidual). I feel like I would need to knit this at a table with all my charts spread out and sixteen pattern minders to keep my place.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The first one, I got at Michaels and carried loyally for many months. It's just a plain bag with two pockets on the outside, and some interior pockets. Zips across the top. Nothing wrong with it. Functional, but not spectacular. Great as long as you don't mind carrying two bags, because no one would ever mistake this for a purse.
Then there are my Goknit pouches, which I love, and they've served me well, but - let's face it, they look kind of dorky hanging off of you or your bag. I actually kind of like putting them inside a larger bag to hold my yarn and keep it from tangling, because of the little loopy things. Why do so few people make knitting bags without the loopy things? Do they worry it will no longer appeal to nonknitters if it has loopy things? Well, is it a knitting bag or isn't it??
I also have a Namaste messenger bag. I bought it because it was on sale, honestly, and I kind of lost my head for a minute. This one really works the least for me. It's biggest, so I use it when I want to carry multiple projects. But, I have just never cared for messanger bags in general - way too much work to get to the inside - and it doesn't sit on the floor. I take it to game nights where I can hang it on the back of my chair. I tuck a ball of yarn in one of the front pockets and work from that, and that seems to work okay since the front pockets button. When I run out of yarn or if I want a different project, I can dig for it on the inside of the bag, tuck it in the front pocket and be fine.
JP calls them 'circlets' and I cannot fathom why they are not included in every knitting bag ever. Worse, I cannot fathom why so many knitting bag designers use a gromet for this. You have to be one comitted knitter to put your yarn through a metal gromet, knowing that the only way to then remove it is to cut the yarn. Somebody must like it that way because bags keep selling like this, but I am not that committed either to project or to bag at any given time, nor am I so delighted with the weaving in of ends, that I am happy to snip my yarn all the time.
The biggest issue I have with Bella is that it doesn't have enough structure. On the one hand, the lack of structure is great for people like me who never carry a purse on a plane. I always put my necessities in my carryon and pack my purse in my check bags to pull out when I arrive. The outside of the bag seems to have plenty of structure; it slumps, as one would expect with a bag this style, but it does sit up when full and it's not really a big deal. I think the problem comes in that the lining is not really attached to the bottom and sides of the bag, only the top and along the center line, so instead of staying against the outside of the bag, the linings moves around on its own, bunches up, etc, causing the pockets to act smaller than they really are. Others have complained about the pockets being short so that tools fall out of them, but I really don't think the issue is that the pockets are too short, I just think that because the lining is not attached, the lining bunches up and pushes the tools out of the pockets. If the lining would, again, just lay down and play nice, the tools wouldn't fall out. My biggest peeve in this respect really comes from the divider pocket. I really want a purse that has a pocket for my knitting, and then a pocket for my non-knitting paraphernalia. I'm sorry, the stuff that goes in my purse is just not stuff that I want anywhere near my knitting, so I want separate territories. At first, the divider pocket was too floppy and stuff was constantly overflowing across it. But, I stuffed the divider pocket with paper towels so now it stands up much better. Also, too be fair, the project I was carrying really grew larger than this bag was intended to accomodate, so it's not JP's fault at all that my knitting kept overflowing. I was just too stubborn to switch bags (or too cheap to buy one of the larger sizes, you decide).
So, I'm kind of giving some thought to some of the more structured-looking JP bags, like maybe the Knitter's Satchel. Problem is, that's not really my style...I like the styling of Bella or even Rio much better.
Anyway, all this is a long-winded way of saying that it got me thinking about what I would make if I were designing the perfect bag, and I actually decided that there is no perfect bag for every purpose. I would like two different bags.
1. Project bag for Serious Knitting. This would be most similar to the bag from Michaels.
2. Bag that could double as a purse for times I want to take my knitting along but don't want to be carrying a separate knitting bag. This would be most similar to the JP bag.
--1 small pocket with some type of circlet equivalent. I would like this pocket to mostly close, leaving an opening on one side through which the yarn can travel (it seems to me that this would be easiest to accomplish with a zipper, but it would need something on the end of the zipper to make sure it didn't catch the yarn
--1 pocket in which to store the knit-in-progress, right next to the yarn pocket. I am ambivalent about how big I want this to be since size preferences would vary depending on what I was working on. Big enough to store at least half a sweater. After all, this bag is for Serious Knitting Business.
--1 pocket big enough to store addtional yarn in case I run out.
--Maybe a thin pocket somewhere for pattern materials?
--1 pocket for me to store whatever notions I have. I don't really need pockets inside this pocket, since I usually keep my notions in a zipper pouch that I can take out and move from bag to bag as neeeded (as I said, I am not a very committed knitter, and while I try to have a couple of these pouches, let's face it - you can never find one when you need it anyway, and the one you do find won't have what you need in it even if you invested significant funds to make them all EXACTLY ALIKE, because at some point you were at home and you needed a tape measure or a pair of scissors which you took out, used, and then left somewhere while you danced around or threw things, depending on your result)
--Feet on the bottom & a fairly flat bottom, so that it sits nicely.
--Cute enough that I would buy it even if knitting was the last thing on my mind
--Black or brown so I don't have to worry about it matching my outfit
--1 small pocket with some type of circlet equivalent. I would like this pocket to mostly close, leaving an opening on one side through which the yarn can travel
--1 pocket in which to store the knit-in-progress, right next to the yarn pocket. I would want this much smaller in this bag, big enough for maybe a scarf but not much bigger.
--1 small pocket (maybe on the outside) where I could tuck in my notions pouch.
--1 large pocket that takes up the rest of the bag, where I could dump all the stuff I usually carry in a purse. Again, I don't really need credit card slots or anything that specific (although a cell phone pocket is always nice) because I have a wallet for that and I would rather move my wallet from purse to purse than have to transfer all my individual credit cards and my driver's licenses and stuff like that.
--Feet on the bottom & a fairly flat bottom, so that it sits nicely.
Monday, October 5, 2009
So now we will simply say that vacation is wonderful, I love my shawl, and coming back to earth has been a process. I was fine the first couple of days, and then some kind of lag seemed to set in and I was tired all the time. Also, I have had really strange dreams ever since I got back.
But, the worst thing has been that I have had some kind of wierd knitting malaise going on. I'm satisfied with none of my projects. I thought I knew the answer to this problem - obviously, I need a new project. So I cast on for Hanami (since I found the charts for Flamenco, but not the actual directions).
It didn't work. I'm not interested in knitting any of it. I'm restless and annoyed because I want to be knitting, I just...don't want to be knitting any of the stuff I have. I worked on the Moody Blues sock some, and that was okay, except that when last I left it, I had either made some type of mistake or dropped stitches or something, and so my stitches were all wonky on the needles. I thought I fixed it and I worked merrily up the heel flap at a speed that was astonishing (when you have been working endless rows for months, anything shorter than 500 stitches feels like it flies) and then I went to turn the heel and - it didn't work. I was puzzled, because I really thought I had the heel turn formula memorized, but it totally wasn't working. I consulted More Sensational Knitted socks. Still didn't work. Decided there was something different about those directions and initiated a search for Sensational Knitted Socks, which was finally located under the couch. Directions still didn't work. Bitched and complained and fumed and finally realized - I'm an idiot. I had 32 stitches in my heel flap, which is correct - for MY socks. For the SO's socks, I use a 72-stitch cast-on which works out to a 36-stitch heel. When I tried to do the heel turn for the 36-stitch heel on my 32-stitch heel flap, it didn't work out too well. Apparently whatever mistake I had made before unbalanced the number of stitches on my two circulars so that I had 40 stitches on one needle and 32 on the other, instead of 36 stitches on both. Curses.
So I reknit the heel flap and turned the heel and got to the foot of the sock and complained because it was BORING. I, who have been happily knitting fifteen miles of garter stitch for the past two months, was bored with this plain stockinette sock. All my options seemed equally boring. I had the collar featherweight cardigan which would be a 1x1 rib, which wasn't much better than stockinette (I did knit some on it just to be sure) and I had Veronique which is plain stockinette and I had the three-scarf ruana which was plain stockinette and WHEN DID I BECOME SUCH A BORING KNITTER, Y'ALL?
I have finally come up with several reasons why I have not been able to get back into my knitting:
1. It's all stockinette or equivalent. While this did not bother me when work was a living hell or while my mind was being otherwise stimulated on vacation, it's become a problem now that work is slow and I am just sitting at home watching reruns of mythbusters or vacation-nostalgic shows such as "The Yellowstone Bison."
2. It's all lightweight yarn. While that was great for the summer, we're coming into autumn and there is a bit of a chill coming into the air now and then, and I think this is why the lightweight options are feeling so unsatisfactory to me right now. While I have knit lace in the wintertime before, it was wooly lace, and what I have now is mostly silk blends. The boring sock has been the most satisfactory thing to knit out of all my stockinette options because it is wool.
So, obviously, what I need to do is cast on a heavier-weight, more autumny project, right! So I went to ravelry and I poked and thought and hmmed and then thought of some patterns totally unrelated to what I was working on. I got out some of the VY Colrain* I bought before we left on vacation and I was ALL SET to cast on the braided pullover from Interweave Knits when I discovered that - I had no size 6 needles free. CURSES. On top of that, the shortest cable I had available was a 40". WHY DOST THOU MOCK ME SO, CRUEL FATE?
I ran to ravelry to check my projects and see what I could possibly have on my size 6 needles and - it's the collar to the Eris pullover. I had actually attempted to pick this project up already, but I couldn't figure out where I was in the cable chart, because I am an idiot who thinks she is smart, so I didn't mark my spot. I can only assume I didn't mark my spot because I had just knit one of the rows after which you are supposed to place a marker, so I must have thought I could just pick it back up with no problem. When I actually went to pick it up, though, my rows didn't match up and I was really confused, and I was afraid I had made a mistake and was going to have to tink back. I put it back down and went to the sock instead. When I couldn't cast on the braided pullover because the collar wasn't finished, I went and looked at it again, and I found that I had TWO markers on the collar instead of just one, meaning that I was at the second point at which I was supposed to place a marker, not the first. So I felt stupid all over again and went to do the next chart. I made really good progress and found that this project was exactly what I needed, just challenging enough and just seasonal enough - and then for some unknown reason, I went back and checked the instructions (I guess to see how many more charts I had to go through) and found that I had actually been knitting...the wrong chart, woe. Seeing that I was done with Chart C, I just went trucking right on through Chart D, when actually for the size of sweater I was knitting, I was supposed to go from Chart C to Chart F.
Ever hopeful, I compared chart D and chart F to see if maybe I didn't have to pull out EVERYTHING I had just done, but...to no avail. They are different from the very first row. I pulled the needles out and frogged back to the marker which indicated the end of Chart C. I was able to get far enough into F to use up all the yarn from the frogged section, and then some...which is mildly annoying, because given how much progress I made, I'm pretty sure I could have come close to finishing that side of the collar if I hadn't made the mistake. Oh well, such is life. The important thing is, I have found a project that will work for me and I am no longer down in the knitting dumps.
*To follow up on an earlier post, I did go measure the guage of the actual sweater, and came up with 18 stitches and 27 rows per 4 inches. Clealry, my swatch was flawed.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I leave on vacation tomorrow morning (at a time usually referred to me as 'squirelly early' or 'totally insane' depending how optimistic I'm feeling) and I have not yet decided on the trip knitting - at least, not totally.
Things I am definitely taking:
--Yellowstone shawl. duh.
--2nd Moody Blues sock.
--A sock that I may or may not have previously blogged about, but it is in the embossed stitch pattern from More Sensational Knitted Socks, in Serenity yarn with some delicious-sounding name like 'black forest raspberry' or something like that, a wool/seacell blend I have never used before
--Hamsa scarf, which I started a million years ago but made so little progress on, that I didn't even get around to logging it in Ravelry. This is in a yarn a friend got me at the Heritage Festival held in or near Waco, TX every year, 100% superwash merino fingering weight in a dark purple, and it's either hand spun or hand dyed or...something. It's unique.
--Enough of the leftover Valley Yarns Stockbridge to make me a pair of handwarmers. I'm just using the pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Quick, easy, and will match my scarf. I'm making the thumb hole a little wider this time, though, they always end up too short for me.
--Yarn & beads for Flamenco, for evening knitting when I might possibly want something more interesting
--Eris collar, for same - harder chart, but no beads to keep track of
--The rest of the VY Stockbridge, to make legwarmers with. The SO doesn't think I will need them, though.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Looking at my project list, I can tell I am suffering from a massive case of startitis because it is taking all my might not to cast on everything that has been ruminating in the back of my mind for so long. The fact that I have not yet cast on for both Hanami and Flamenco is, I promise you, evidence of steel willpower and deadline knitting. Who knows where I would be if I didn't have this vacation coming up. Hopped up on laceweight and giggling like a lunatic at the very least - surrounded by newly cast on projects that seem under control now, but threaten to overwhelm me at any moment. Hanami is particularly insidious because it looks so darn easy. I'll totally knit Flamenco first though so that I can wear it at Christmas.
I'm looking at both Oblique from Knitty and the Diminishing Rib cardigan from Interweave Knits. The SO bought me some Valley Yarns Northampton as a present ages ago that I haven't figured out a project for that I think will be perfect for Oblique, and I loved the Valley Yarns Colrain I made my previous sweater out of so much that I bought more in two different colors. The original yarn called for in the Diminishing Rib cardigan is a wool-silk blend and I think the wool-tencel will be a perfect substitute. It has almost the same yardage per 50 grams so it should be perfect, right?
Well. I got out my swatch from the last sweater and checked the guage on it (I'm sure we all remember the guage issues I had previously with the thing turning out way bigger than what I had intended) and I measured the guage and...I had too many stitches to the inch. I couldn't believe it. Knit as loosely as it had been for that garment, how could I possibly end up with too MANY stitches to the inch? Seriously? There is no way I could possibly knit that yarn at the guage listed, and no way it would look good if I did. It doesn't look like it has a particularly loose guage in the magazine so I'm kind of stumped. In the immortal words of my ancestors, "It don't make no sense, y'all." I can only conclude that I had some type of measurement mishap. I will have to revisit the issue at a later date. Maybe I will go measure the guage on the actual sweater. The previous swatch was obviously flawed anyway. It was less than four inches wide, so I had to measure an inch and multiply to get the count for four inches, and that process is rife with peril. The Webs recommended guage for the yarn is 4" to the inch which is 16 stitches for 4 inches, so obviously 19 stitches to the inch called for in the pattern is not as crazy as I think it is. I must be the one who is a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa.
Anyway, I'm trying to decide whether it is a good idea or a crazy idea to take Oblique along for plane knitting. Planes are boring so plain knitting doesn't work for plane knitting, so Oblique would be good. But, there is also airport knitting which usually has to be much plainer than plane knitting. I have a shawl that I work on pretty much exclusively on planes, so I might just take that. It's fine for airports, though it can be a little dull for planes. However, there's a snag in that plan. It seems I robbed that project of its needles some time back, and never put caps on the end of my cable. While it was lying carefully on the back of my couch this was probably fine, but as time passed I forgot it wasn't capped and moved it around, and while cleaning this weekend I found to my horror that it was about half off the cable. Fortunately, it is a sticky yarn and I don't think it's too badly damaged. I will have to spend some quality time with it, though, before we head to the airport. I'm not entirely sure everything that's wrong with it can be fixed with a crochet hook, I may have to tink back a row or two. The stitch markers all fell out and need to be replaced as well (they were the cheap rubber ones so I am not distraught, just inconvenianced, especially since I don't know where they all ended up).
Of course, the SO did buy me some laceweight recently, and I have been wanting to try out this whole circular shawl thing I see so much of...lace is much easier to carry on airplanes than sweater yarn, after all, even if it is just the beginning of a sweater and you get a lot more laceweight in a carry-on bag and ugh, can you imagine if I didn't put enough yarn in my carry on and I actually RAN OUT halfway into the flight??
Clearly this needs further consideration.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I did pretty well over this 3-day weekend. I got my house clean (at least on the main floor, we shall not speak of the state of my bedroom). I lounged around, I went out with friends, and I knit till my hands were sore. So, I guess I feel like I had a pretty balanced weekend overall. A little responsibility, a little lazyness, a little fun. However, my food intake was way out of balance and I paid for it last night. My stomach was bothering me and I couldn't sleep. So, despite a pretty okay weekend, I'm not any more rested!
I finished the second half of Pfeiffer Falls and after many (many many) false starts, I managed to graft the two pieces together. Because I didn't do the pockets, I missed the directions that said to bind off one stitch on each side after finishing the pocket, and I just decided to ignore it and keep going the way I was. Well, this was fine, except that the directions for grafting in pattern were written for two less stitches than what I had on the needles. It took me a few attempts at the graft before I remembered this, and a couple more after I figured it out, but I did get it done and the seam doesn't really show unless you're looking at it, so I feel good about that.
I do not feel good about picking up the stitches from the hood. I started from the center and picked up half the number of stitches for the hood, intending to pick up the other half on the other side of the seam. But, when I measured the length of my picked up stitches, I was covering way more distance than I was supposed to. You're supposed to have 8.75 inches on each side of the center seam, and I was coming out with more like 10. Big difference. I pulled it out, picked up stitches again. Then I did what the directions actually told me to do and measured out the 8.75 inches and started picking up stitches, but when I hit the center seam I was about 10 stitches short of what I was supposed to have. So I had to put it away and think for a bit. Clearly, my row guage is not what it is supposed to be (no, I did not swatch, because it is a scarf and it shouldn't matter, right? This is the one place where guage, especially row guage, is not that important, right? That is the way it is supposed to be! I feel betrayed.) so I have a couple of options. I can:
1. Pick up the correct number of stitches, ignoring how wide it is.
2. Pick up the number of stitches it takes me to get the correct width, and wing it.
3. Pick up the number of stitches it takes me to get the correct width, and increase immediately to get the correct number of stitches.
The thing is, the scarf is, or at least will block to, the width that it is supposed to be. I believe that my stitch guage is close to correct. The hood is knit perpendicular to the scarf, so the width of the hood will be determined by my stitch guage and not my row guage. This means that the hood will be about as wide as the pattern says it should be. I think that this means that option 1 poses an unacceptable level of risk, because if I let it spread out that wide and then the width of the hood wants to be the width described in the pattern, the whole thing will pucker. I'm not really confident enough in my ability to wing it for option 2, and there is also the risk there that the hood will not be as wide as it needs to be, since my stitch guage is mostly correct and therefore fewer stitches will result in a narrower hood. So, I think I'm going with option 3. The risk there is that it will look wierd at the place where the hood attaches to the scarf, but even if it does, I think it won't show too much because the yarn is so dark. In any case, to my mind this risk is the least. The instructions are to pick up and knit, so I think what I will do is kfb in the picked up stitches as needed to get the correct number of stitches. So, that's the plan, now I just have to implement it.
I've been working on my triangular Yellowstone shawl as well, and I think some changes in my plan are necessary. I finished the first skein of Mineral and I'm probably nearing the halfway point on the skein of Earth. I had intended to knit a stripe of Mineral after the skein of Earth, but looking at the transition from Mineral to Earth so far, I don't think this is going to work. The transition between the two colors is much more subtle than I expected, so there is not the hard line I expected. I'm really kind of astonished, I thought the two skeins were so different that I was actually worried they wouldn't tie together enough. But, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I don't think I will need that second skein of mineral for size, I think the shawl will be plenty big even if I don't use it. So, I'm thinking I will just go straight to the Woodland stripe and hope for a similar effect. I'm not even going to try to predict whether this will work or not, but that's what you get when working with handpaint yarn. It's also possible that as I get more of the Earth skein knit in, the contrast between the two will be greater. I'm just not sure. I think I will have to put it on a longer cable so I can spread it out and take a better look at it.
As I was cleaning this weekend, I ran into a familiar frustration that I have never been able to really deal with effectively. I have SO MUCH STUFF. I have an obssessive nature; I get into stuff, and I think, wow, this is cool, and then I get WAY into stuff and then all of a sudden I am sitting here broke and surrounded by stuff. I love to make things, and I love to try new things, and I often can't tell what is going to be a long-term thing and what is going to be a flash in the pan. I'm like, "hey, you know what would be cool?" and then the voices in my head are lilke "doooooooo iiiiiiiiit" and the next thing you know I am, once again, sitting somewhere broke and surrounded by stuff that I probably spent a lot of money on and have no idea how to get rid of. My attempts to organize the Stuff have been temporary and mediocre at best and catastrophic at worst, leaving me sitting somewhere broke and surrounded by stuff that is further cluttered by an organizational system that does not actually work for me.
Paper crafts have been the worst for me, because it involves a lot material that is really difficult to store. Also, my crafting style is a major contributor to my frustrations in this area. I'm not a planner; I don't sit and come up with a sketch for a page and then sort things out and put everything I will need for that page in a box. I work on the fly, I use the stuff I can get to easily, and I throw stuff around in different combinations until I get something that works for me. My paper crafting is almost a mania, where I pull things out of boxes and spread them around and make a huge mess. As a result, my work area is a complete disaster when I'm done, and I always feel like I am using only a very small portion of the resources available to me because I forget what I have. I feel like I go over this problem again and again in my mind without finding any real solution. Should I just reduce the amount of stuff I keep at home, focus on the techniques I really like and try to let go of all the cool stuff? If I do decide to pare down, what do I do with all the stuff? How can I get back to a place where I can enjoy my paper crafts again without feeling like I am constantly spending money and creating a mess?
Friday, September 4, 2009
Hallelujah, a long weekend. I'm hoping the extra day will give me some time to catch up on my life. I think I need to commit to cleaning house at some point this weekend, because the state of the house got really bad while I was working all that overtime, and I haven't really even made an effort to catch up to it.
I'd also like to get some spinning in. I saw the last time what happens to my spinning ability when I leave the wheel for extended periods, so I think it's time to get back to it. Right now, I have the last of the meriboo and one of the Spunky Eclectic fiber club mailings in process on the wheel. I'd like to spin through all of this so I can do something new. I have a short attention span, I get a new club mailing every month, and there's a bunch of stuff I really want to do. There is especially a merino/bamboo blend in a colorway she called Beach that is amazing and I really really want to spin it. There's white mixed all through the dyed areas so it has a very watercolor look to it and I CAN'T WAIT. I may already have half of it predrafted in a box awaiting me, but I admit nothing. Anyway, I need to free up some bobbins so that I can get to it, and I need to spin the rest of the fiber that's been hanging over the back of one of my dining room chairs. So, really, spinning this weekend will happen in the name of housecleaning so that I can clear off that chair. At some point, I am going to have to do something with all this handspun. I don't really have very much of any one thing, but I'm thinking I will take a bag of it to my LYS and pick out some bulky yarns that coordinate, and make some scarves or something. Ideally, I'd like to do a scarf that had several handspun panels in it - like, start it out with handspun, knit till it runs out, *knit with a commercial yarn for a while, switch to a different handspun, knit till it runs out, repeat from *. But I'd like the handspun bits to actually relate to each other a bit, and I'm not sure how much of what I have, would.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Some long awaited Old Business:
This is the BFL from the Spunky Eclectic fiber club in 'Myrtle.' I'm really proud of this, and since I was able to photograph it in natural light the colors are even pretty good in this photo.
And the money shot.
The finished Spiraluscious Mitts of Doom, which have long since gone to warm the hands of my mother.
But what IS really exciting is that I finished Swan Lake. I took pictures of it blocking, but it honestly looks kind of dorky on the ground, blocking pictures don't do it justice. I looked at the stole on a dozen different websites and never really took to it until I saw it on an actual person. Pinned out, the wing half of it really just looks odd. The beads in the wing just didn't show up at all before blocking, because the decreases that they were placed around kind of bunched the fabric up. So, I blocked the straight side of the stole normally but the wing I had to block pretty severely in order to get everything to straighten out and lay nicely. When I was done my legs felt like jelly for the rest of the day from kneeling and leaning out over the thing. I really hate blocking stuff - I enjoy sitting back and admiring the blocked product once it's totally pinned out, but even with the blocking wires, which make my life much easier, blocking is a literal pain in the butt. It doesn't help that I am both very anal and not very patient, so the fiddlyness of doing it right coupled with the way it doesn't look right if you half-ass it, really doesn't work for me.
You know what I wish I had photographed? I wish I had photographed the absolute DISASTER that was the skein of Casbah I tried to wind last week. I got the three skeins I ordered for my Yellowstone project in the mail on last Saturday, which SHOULD HAVE vastly improved a day that really started out pretty lame (it involved furniture and the dog and things that dogs should not do on furniture but that are really the owner's fault for going upstairs and leaving the dog on the couch that the dog is too small to get off of without help). However, the skeins I got did not want to wind nicely. I wound the Earth skein first and it was tempermental but still windable with the swift and the ball winder. Then I got out the skein of Woodland and the whole mess went downhill from there. I put it on the swift but it was immediately clear even from just looking at the skein that I was going to have problems, and it became abundantly clear after that that it would be absolutely impossible to wind the thing with the ball winder. I don't know who did what to that skein but it was AWFUL. The SO made the mistake of suggesting that maybe it would be easier if we took it off the swift, so he held and I untangled. 3 hours later, he was really regretting offering, and we were both in a bad mood, and it really just didn't get any better. After a while we traded and things just got worse from there. Finally I put the skein on a pillow to hold and decided to deal with it later. Sunday afternoon, in a much calmer and more resigned state of mind, I spent a few more hours on it and finally got the whole thing untangled and wound into a ball, which I then put in a plastic grocery bag, hung the bag on the edge of my swift so that it would be elevated enough to run into the ball winder smoothly, and wound it from there into a nice center-pull ball.
I had this problem with the last skein of casbah I ordered, the topaz skein, and it really aggravated me both times. I was sitting there winding and composing nasty letters in my mind. Since the two bad skeins came from two different stores, though, I don't know - maybe the problem was at the HandMaiden distributor or something. Or, it's possible somebody was looking at one of those skeins in the actual store and unfolded it to look at, and messed it up when they folded it up again. I don't know. I decided there were too many things that could possibly have happened, so I just let it go. It was much easier to be reasonable when the yarn was sitting there in a nice well-behaved cake. I remember thinking at the time, that I should stop and take pictures for the blog, but I was too mad to stop.
The yarn is beautiful, though, all three colorways are just stunning. I really, really love the Earth colorway. I remember being struck by the beauty of it the last time I used it, and I was again. This skein is more than half black, though, while the previous skein I had was mostly brown. with just some black. I'm okay with it this way, though. It looks very rich and fertile, and is all quite in keeping with the theme of the project.
I have had some setbacks on the project itself, mainly because the increases just aren't where I expect them to be. Normally, increases all happen on the right side and then the wrong side is knit plain. But in this pattern, on the right side, you increase into the second stitch, and then you increase on each side of center, and then you knit plain to the end of the row. On the wrong side, you increase into the second stitch and then knit the rest of the row plain. I kept forgetting to increase on the wrong side (since this is a garter stitch shawl, there is technically no right or wrong side, but it's hard to discuss it without talking about it in terms of right and wrong, so I am arbitrarily defining the side with the center increases to be the right side). It's really difficult to catch this mistake except by counting the number of stitches on each side of center, which was workable at first but became progressively less workable as the number of stitches in each row increased. Fortunately, once Swan Lake was done I was able to reclaim some of my stitch markers and since then, I haven't had as much of a problem. I have a marker right before the stitches in which I am supposed to increase, and then I put another marker a couple of stitches down from each, so I can just count between markers to make sure I have the same number of decreases on both ends. I've knit the entire first skein at this point and I'm feeling pretty good that the end result will be a good size.
I've been giving some thought to the stripe pattern. I am stripe challenged, so it is kind of worrying me a little. The way I see it, I have a few options:
1. Knit both skeins of mineral, and then knit the entirety of the remaining skeins in order.
2. Knit one skein of mineral, knit the entire skein of Earth, add a stripe of mineral, knit the entire skein of Woodland, add a stripe of mineral, knit the entire skein of Stardust, and let the width of the stripes be determined by the amount of yarn and distance from the edge. Each stripe would necessarily be thinner than the previous stripe since the shawl will be larger.
3. Knit one skein of mineral, and plan a stripe pattern that will include stripe each subsequent color with the mineral in a planned way that results in multiple stripes of each color (for example, knit two rows of Earth, and then two rows of mineral, and then four rows of earth and then four rows of mineral etc etc and then switch to doing the same with woodland when I run out of Earth or decide that I have enough Earth stripes and am ready to move on).
Because I am stripe challenged, number 3 scares me. That is way more thinking and worrying than I really want to have to do. I thought about option 1, but I think from the size I've gotten with just the one skein, that starting the stripes now will give me more control over how big it eventually ends up, where the striping falls, etc. So, I've taken the plunge and I'm working the 'Earth' skein second. I'm thinking I will get the scale out and wind off the second skein of mineral into two equal balls, one to knit after the Earth skein and one to knit after the Woodland skein. I guess what I'm saying is, that right now Option 2 is the game plan.
To complicate things more, I have plans for another project related to Yellowstone; specifically, related to keeping myself warm in Yellowstone. I have ten balls of Valley Yarns Stockbridge in dark grey to make the Pfeiffer Falls hooded scarf. A comment was made the other night that at least we had plenty of scarves to keep us warm, and I thought, I don't have plenty of scarves. I have two scarves and at least one of them is not really suited to the great outdoors. Also, I don't have a hat. So, I thought, I'll just find a pattern for a super bulky scarf & hat and I'll make myself a set.
Except, I couldn't find anything I liked. and then I saw something with a hood on it and thought, I look really cute in hoods. I should do a hooded scarf! And then I got to looking at patterns for those and I kept thinking, "Elf. Elf. Elf. Extra pointy elf. Moderately pointy elf. Elf elf elf!" Pfeiffer Falls, while not knit in a bulky yarn, doesn't look like the latest fashion to make the rounds at Santa's workshop, so even though it's a worsted weight, that's what I decided on. So as soon as that yarn arrives, I will be knitting madly on it so that I will have it for the trip. I'm not sure I'm sold on the pockets on the end for the hands, though. I may skip those and use the yarn I would have used to make myself a pair of handwarmers from the Last Minute Knitted Gifts book. Even if I don't have time to get those done before we leave, I could knit a pair on the plane. They're fast and will leave my fingers free for photography and knitting uses. If I have enough yarn leftover I might make a pair of legwarmers, too. Most of my jeans are boot cut and the wind gets up under them. But one thing at a time. My eyes are bigger than my needles. (but I do have two skeins of Lamb's Pride at home leftover from another project, so it could be done)
I bound off the body of the Featherweight Cardigan this past weekend as well, and after some deliberation, decided to do the collar before I do the sleeves. This is partly because I haven't decided how long I want the sleeves to be and this way, if I'm going to run out of yarn, I can just shorten the sleeves. I think I actually have plenty of yarn, but you know if I wasn't paranoid I would run out. So, collar it was. This was a little challenging, because I've never done it before. It felt really awkward, I had trouble seeing what I was doing. With the help of YouTube and some personal ingenuity, though, I got it done. I ended up using an embroidery needle to actually pick up the stitches and put them on the needle. This allowed me to hold the needle in my right hand. My stitches may all be seated backwards on the needle because of this, but if so - I'll just turn them, not a big deal. I examined it after I was finished and I think there is one spot where I got a little bit off, like I moved the row I was picking up by half a stitch for maybe ten stitches or so, but otherwise it looks okay. I didn't actually start the collar, though, since I had other things to knit, but now it will be ready when I'm ready. I'm thinking I'm going to knit it in 1x1 rib since I really don't like rolling on edges. I was worried this would pull the collar in and make it look kind of puckered, but after knitting the rib at the bottom of the sweater, I don't think it will be too much of a problem. At this guage, the ribbing is pretty loose and it doesn't look like it had a very significant pull-in at the sweater bottom.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Lost In My Own Backyard - Tim Cahill
Scorched Earth: The fires that shaped Yellowstone
Do (not) Feed the Bears: The fitful history of tourists and wildlife in Yellowstone
and two others that I can't remember and am too lazy to go find.
I've started Lost In My Own Backyard and Do (not) Feed the Bears, and both have been really good. DnFtB is not the type of book I normally like, but it manages to be academic without being dry and the subject matter is actually very interesting. It's all about the way NPS policies towards the wildlife of Yellowstone, specifically the bears of Yellowstone, have affected the bears and the history of the park. The message of the park towards visitors regarding the wildlife in general and the bears in particular went over many changes over the course of the park's history and it's really quite fascinating. However, reading this book kind of...I don't know, took a little bit of shine off the trip for me. It was like I was being reminded that the wilderness of Yellowstone exists only on our (that is, human's) sufferance, and we have basically told nature that it can go this far and no further.
Lost in My Own Backyard reversed it. While DnFtB focuses on the wildlife, LIMOB is focused more on the experience of the park and starts out talking about the geological features that make Yellowstone unique, which I had always known about and had never really internalized. Cahill made points that a few thousand Discovery Channel specials failed to impress on me. Statements like There are more gueysers in Yellowstone than in the entire rest of the world put together gave me a perspective that I didn't get from "60% of the world's gueysers are in Yellowstone." Cahill also starts off the book with a vivid picture of the magnitude of the geological event that created Yellowstone, and the fact that the forces that destroyed an entire mountain range to create the park (creating in the process several years of global volcanic winter) are still active under the park today. The SO's favorite line in the book so far is something like, As you stand at the top of Mt. Washburn looking at 37 miles of mountains that are no longer there..." Very, very good book, and I can't wait to keep reading it. The SO is getting ahead of me on it while I am trying to finish DnFtB, and I almost shushed him out of reading me a line that tickled him last night because I didn't want to be spoiled (curiosity got the better of me and I let him tell me).
The SO also read the intro of Scorched Earth to me as I was knitting this weekend. I picked up that book on a whim because it happened to be next to another one I was looking at (proof that having a good title is very important) and I assumed it was about the fires BENEATH Yellowstone, but it is actually about forest fires and fire management in Yellowstone. So I'm looking forward to that one, too. It's kind of thick, though, I don't know if I'll finish it. Time is at a premium. I mostly read in small spurts as I'm getting ready for bed and for a while after I'm actually in bed (I find it very hard to knit in my bedroom, the light is just not favorable and I just can't get comfortable knitting in bed - it's probably just as well).
I'm headed for the finish line on Swan Lake and I am SO CLOSE OMG but it's one of those projects where the rows get longer and longer as you knit. I have 3 rows left on chart I and then I will be on chart J, which is the last chart (I think. I will have to double check to be sure). I hope I can finish it in the next couple of weeks. I have also made some progress on the collar for Eris.
Even though I have a bunch of things in my 'want to knit' queue, I've become a little obsessed with finding some Yellowstone knitting. This is not just knitting I will work on while I'm on vacation, but I really want something that's actually Yellowstone-themed in some way. I've been searching patterns with titles like 'mountain,' 'leaf,' 'bear,' 'forest', 'rockies' - stuff I associate with Yellowstone. I've been looking at yarns as well. I love the idea of using bison yarn but...it's so expensive! And it's not even soft! I don't get it. Still, I have a hard time thinking of using yarns that are silk or bamboo or alpaca or other stuff that is not really American - I have trouble with the idea of a British sheep breed, too. But, if it just says 'wool' I'm totally okay with that. I know, I'm wierd. On top of that, I'm being picky about colorways. I really kind of want to use some Fleece Artist or Handmaiden yarns. Even though they're Canadian, they're on the same continent, same general habitat stuff, so it counts. It's not about country boundaries so much as the feeling it evokes. When I think of England or China the feelings and thoughts evoked have no relation to Yellowstone whatsoever. Although, I would be okay with a wool-silk blend, especially if I go with lace, because I'm careless and can snap a 100% wool laceweight yarn wtihout even thinking about it. The silk gives me a little more durability, so I'll sacrifice my theme for that. Like I said - I'm wierd. But, I've prowled all over Colorsong and can't settle on a colorway. I really like the idea of using Woolie Silk, either the lace weight or the 3-ply. I'm thinking about woodland, mineral, or earth. But, of course I have to pick a pattern as well as a yarn and I've really had no luck. I thought about the Lady of the Forest shawl kit but the colorways aren't really what I want (I'm sure I could get around this if I tried, but since I haven't settled for sure on the pattern, I don't know).
I've been looking at the Mystic Earth stole, which is certainly thematically appropriate, but I'm not sure lace is the way to go. While you can say that lace projects are epic in their own way, they don't really convey the scale or grandeur I'm looking for. Even though lace can be completely grand and of an astounding scale, and yet also conveys the delicacy of an ecosystem like Yellowstone...are you seeing why I can't make up my mind? Augh. So I thought about heavier weight lace projects. I looked at soooooo maaaaaaaaany paaaaaaaaaatterns.
Then I started thinking about how much I love the feel of Hand Maiden Casbah, and I fussed around with that, looking for patterns for it, and I - just couldn't find what I wanted. This one isn't the right size, this one would take enough wool to denude every sheep on the continent.
BUT, I finally found this.
Oh my God. So perfect! Published in the 1860's, right around the time Yellowstone was being explored. I could use Hand Maiden Casbah in two different colors - like 'Earth' and 'Woodland' or 'Mineral' and 'Woodland'! If I wanted to get really crazy I could add a few stripes of some other colors too. I have two skeins of Mineral in my stash so I could start with that, and then get a skein each of Earth and Woodland to go with it. Maybe some Stardust to go around the edge if I can make it work in the budget (if not, I'm pretty sure I have some leftover topaz). Eeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe the answer is so simple (and I am so silly).
The only issue is size - how much of what yarns would I need to get the size that I want? But, I'm pretty sure looking at the construction that I could pretty much keep knitting until I ran out of yarn and then stop. Casbah is not a low-ticket yarn, but this is art and memories and somehow I'm okay with it not being cheap. Maybe if we find a yarn shop out there I can buy a special souvenir yarn for the fringe. Maybe what I will do, is knit the first skein of mineral, and then assess how big it is and how much more yarn I will need. And you know what is even more awesome, is that because this is so simple, I can knit it while reading as I anticipate the vacation, and I can knit it the whole time I'm on vacation and still be looking out the windows.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
--Knitting Swan Lake
--Looking at yarns and patterns for some kind of yellowstone themed knitting because I have vacation on the brain
--reading one or more of the 5 books about yellowstone that I checked out from the library because I have vacation on the brain
--Making a paper chain countdown to vacation (Okay, I probably wouldn't actually do this, but I do want to)
--Buying stitch markers (they are cheap and make me happy)
--Getting a manicure
--Getting a haircut
--Basking in my own fabulousness
Things I will actually be doing today:
--Mountains of neglected laundry
--Wash the dog
--declutter the downstairs enough to run the floormate
--Once enough laundry has been done that the floor of my room is visible, vacuum it
Stuff that should be on the second list, but probably won't make it:
--declutter the kitchen table so that we are not eating off of our laps for the next week (usually we eat off tv trays but those are currently too cluttered)
--unearth the loveseat & ottoman, which used to be in my living room somewhere
--clean the shower
Edit: Okay, who am I kidding. The dog does not care if she is dirty, and since the floor of my bedroom has been covered in laundry, it probably doesn't need to be vacuumed. I bet I can get away with the laundry and the floors.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I have been knitting like crazy on Swan Lake, trying to power through the cat's paw pattern that goes across the back of the stole. I got through most of Charts E and F this weekend. I didn't want to get bogged down in this section (I get bored with repetitive patterns no matter how pretty they are) so my plan was to powerknit through it as quickly as I could before I had time to get bored. I was hoping to totally finish over the weekend, but I got distracted with some other things and I didn't quite finish. I think I'm something like 15 (right side) rows away from the end of the chart. Then, I get to start the wing. Intellectually, I understand that I have a lot of work left to do. Psychologically, I feel that I am almost done and I'm already casting an eye on other projects. I am pretty well settled that Flamenco is going to hop on the needles the second Swan Lake comes off.
In a fit of recklessness, where I hardly even knew what I was doing, I cast on and started the cabled collar for Eris. I don't know why I did this when I have plenty of other stuff that is not yet finished. Worse, I have so much that is NEARLY finished. I am only about half an inch of ribbing away from finishing the body of my featherweight cardigan. I gave up Swan Lake time to work on the collar. Also, I had forgotten...cable charts are HARD. By which I mean, they are hard for me right now. I had the same problem when I knit Shedir a while back - I just couldn't make the symbols make sense to me. About 3/4's of the way through the hat, I finally understood what the charts visually represented, and was able to do the cables without checking the key every time I came to one. I'm back in the same boat with Eris. The reason that it's difficult is that I can't interpret the chart symbol - I can look at them and see that the end result is supposed to be right-crossing or left-crossing, but beyond that I'm totally stumped, and I'm having to look at the chart key every time I come to a cable or twist symbol. This makes for pretty intense and concentrated knitting. I'm not really sure I'm happy with how it's coming out, somehow my stuff looks a little...pinchy, in places, but the stuff near the beginning looks less pinchy now than it did before there was space, so that's okay. I'm also not THAT familiar with short rows so that has also been an adventure. I knit through chart A and the first page of Chart B, and then I had to stop. I'm a little discouraged, but not too much. I have hope that if I keep going, it will make sense eventually. I had been thinking that maybe I could get through the collar and get the sweater to the mindless knitting stage, that it would be great to knit in the car while we are in Yellowstone next month, but I'm thinking that may not be realistic.
The house is still a mess, work is still crazy, and my knitting is the only thing holding me back from the edge. I fervently pray that I do not go home and find out that I made a horrendous, glaring mistake eight thousand cat's paws ago.
In the meantime, I have occupied myself with some other pursuits...mostly trying to get in the mood for the Yellowstone vacation next month. Looking for music, books, etc. I bought a new notebook. I was just going to use one I had, but I had a bad day so I went and got a new one instead. I used to spend a lot of time looking at blank books in bookstores, different journals and things that they had. I was less than impressed with the selection this time around, to be honest.
I am really bummed watching all the Sock Summit stuff go by without me, but I have found some consolation in the fact that Nancy Bush is coming to teach classes at my LYS. As a rule, I don't go to knitting classes. Beyond the initial lesson of learning to knit, which I got from a friend for free complete with yarn and needles to get me started, I haven't needed a class. I've been able to figure out what I needed to know by following instructions and using YouTube videos. But, this time, I may go ahead and take the class. Even though classes are expensive (I understand why they are, but that doesn't stop me from cringing), and I could probably figure out what I need to know on my own...sometimes you just have to go and bask in the presence of the master.
Monday, August 3, 2009
So. What I Did On My Unintentional Blog Vacation
1. Featherweight Cardigan. I love this peice. Miles of easy knitting. It's been great. I really seem to have a love for lightweight yarns. I'm not sure if this a summer fling and I will go back to heavier yarns when winter rolls around again, or if I just plain like lightweight yarns, but I have really enjoyed this cardigan. I'm a little pouty now that it's time for the ribbing. Now I have to like...think. In fact I got two rows in on the ribbing, and discovered I had accidentally knit two stitches in a row in the very beginning and so both rows were off. I could have lived with it, but would have annoyed me, so I tinked. Now I am back at the start of the ribbing again.
2. MS4. I spent a lot of time working on mindless projects until the last couple of weeks, but I finally got up enough energy and attention to start back up with some lace. I powered through chart 6, and now MS4 is half done. A little over half, actually, since chart 6 is knit only once. Then, thinking I could put that momentum into starting the second half, I did the cast on and started chart 1 again, and - argh. I got so frustrated. It's just SO SLOW. Chart 1 is very heavily beaded, and it just takes forever to get anywhere. So, I put it aside and took out...
3. Swan Lake. The beads on this one are much more sparse and a lot less annoying to work. For one thing, this stole is designed so that you set the bead and then knit the stitch. MS4's designer prefers to knit the stitch and then put the bead on immediately after. I didn't like the way it looked way back long ago when I started MS4, and it was part of the reason I ripped out and started over (the other reason was that I didn't like the beads I was using, if I recall correctly). The problem is, in order to get the beads to sit where they are designed to sit, I have to put them on during what would normally be a mindless purl row. So, I keep forgetting and knitting past them. Swan Lake is much easier for me to follow since I am looking at the chart anyway. I'm so happy with this one - it's so beautiful and the beads add a great, tasteful sparkle. However, I'm up to the cat's paw piece that goes across the back, which is...long. But, that's okay - I think since it's a chart and not a 'repeat this 8 million times' I will get through all right. The visual of moving my marker up a chart gives me a concrete feeling of progress, so I don't feel like I'm going to be knitting the same thing over and over until the end of time OH GOD WHEN WILL IT END.
The only gripe I have is the double-wide charts. I get so frustrated because the marker for my chart holder (I have the magnetic KnitPicks chart keeper) can only go over half, and then I have to move the chart and the marker and it really just bugs me. Contrary to the belief of everyone who actually sees me knitting, I am not a very patient person. I like progress. I HATE stopping and starting. This is why I could never get into drop spindling the way I did wheel spinning. I don't want to have to stop and wind and then start again. I just want to freaking spin!
Ahem. So, having faced this problem on Scheherazade, MS4, and now this one, I have given up and decided to get a second chart holder. But, while I'm waiting for that to come - I went to JoAnn's and got some highlighter tape. I've heard about it in a bunch of places, but never found it before. I finally found it tucked in the quilting section called something else, but it's at least holding me out for now. I still prefer the ease of just bumping the magnet up a row (less stop and start), but at least I am not getting dizzy trying to follow a row out to the end with no marker because I can't stand to stop and move the whole frigging chart.
4. Swatch. Last night I finally finished out the swatch I started months ago, the one I am doing with Plymouth Royal Merino, which will hopefully become my Eris sweater. I had some real issues measuring the guage, though. I kept checking and checking and it really seamed like I had the same stitch guage on all three needle sizes. Then I remembered something I'd read in the Yarn Harlot's book (I think it was Knitting Rules, but it might have been SPM Casts Off). I made the SO bring me some blocking pins ("Honey, can you run upstairs and grab my blocking pins?" he goes up and calls down "How many do you need!" "Just bring me the whole tub," I called back (I keep them in a small tupperware container). there was a moment of silence, and then I called up again "or if they're in a pile on the floor, just grab me five or six." "Ah, okay! got it!"). Then I put in a pin, counted out the number of stiches I was supposed to have per inch, and put in another pin. Then I put my ruler between the pins and was able to clearly see whether the pins were an inch apart or not. Brilliant. Anyway, I think I got guage, but I still have to wash the swatch. I almost started without washing it, to be honest, but the directions didn't make sense to me so I decided I needed to sleep before attempting anything (since I have read those directions before and they were perfectly clear).
5. Photography. Some church friends got married this weekend and I took a bunch of pictures for them for their rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the bride's shower.
What I Did NOT Do On My Unintentional Blog Vacation
1. Spinning. I have entirely neglected my spinning wheel until last night, and last night - it showed. My spinning was AWFUL. I don't know - did I just get really bad because I haven't been doing it regularly? I can see how that might happen. What was wierd, though, was the way I was noticing the qualities of the wool, which I really hadn't been before, or at least, I don't remember noticing before (but then, it has been a while. Anyway, it was depressing, and feeling woeful, I gave up. I will have to take another shot this weekend and start spinning faithfully on Tuesdays again, so I can get back in shape. Also, I lost my wheel oil at first, and ended up finding a puddle of oil on the TV tray on which I had piled most of my knitting and spinning detritus. That's what I get for not paying attention to my things.
2. Cleaning/Housecare. The house is a wreck. I am doing only enough laundry to get me through the week and only when absolutely necessary. In the meantime I have four baskets of clean laundry in my room, and only one of them contains anything that can actually be worn. The flowerbeds are full of weeds. Some mystery animal keeps pooping on my deck. There is a half-empty bag of potting soil that we unwisely left out that is now growing things. The SO stubbed his toe last night on a framed piece of cross stitch that I have been intending to hang on the wall for weeks. There is predrafted spinning fiber draped over my dining room chairs that have just been left there. There are two buckets in my kitchen floor that I use to soak yarn or knitted items in prior to blocking that I have gotten so used to walking around that I didn't even realize they are both still full of water!! The couch and ottomon are buried in stuff. Even the dog is dirty! The clutter issue is really making me insane, because what happens is I go to my craft room and get what I need and bring it downstairs, and then downstairs becomes saturated with stuff, and so I take it all back to the craft room and - rinse, repeat. Also, larger-scale crafting projects like my scrapbooks don't get any time at all, because the amount of cleanup it would take to even be ready to work is appalling. I really don't know what to do about this issue. Maybe I should just make the living & dining room my craft area and move the dining room upstairs! No one comes to visit me anyway, I don't really entertain, and the current system isn't working at all.
3. Photo Processing. I am avoiding this like the plague. I hate this part of the process, but especially in the kind of low-light situations I was in, the photos really have to be processed.
4. Quilting. I am desperately struggling against impulses to attempt quilting. Kelley talked about English Paper Piecing on the Knit Picks podcast and I was like...I could totally do that! A number of things are stopping me:
a. I have no sewing machine capable of actually sewing anything. While the piecing is done by hand, I'm pretty sure some amount of machine sewing would eventually be involved for backing, actual quilting, etc. to preserve my sanity. However, I am reasonably sure I know at least 2 people who DO have a machine capable of this stuff.
b. I would like to try something small. However, everything I've seen that I would actually want to make is big.
c. I'm pretty sure this would take up the same type of time as knitting. I have come to understand from long experience that having crafts that compete for the same time slots is bad for my mental health.
d. Do I really need more crap to clutter up my house with?
e. As much fun as I think it would be to shop for fabrics, every time I start looking at combinations I get confused.
f. If I want to sew, I still have a lot of cross stitch patterns waiting for me untouched.
g. Fabric cutting. This sounds like it would be about as much fun as cleaning mystery poop off my deck.
5. Sleeping. I have had some trouble sleeping at night, which is not that surprising with the stress I've been under, but I am finding it impossible to get myself to nap because...well, I could be knitting. Fortunately, as the stress has eased up a bit this week, the sleeping has improved.
6. Sock Knitting. This is not entirely true - I did do a little sock knitting, but it wasn't very much. It's very pretty, though. I think there are three things contributing to my lack of sock knitting: a. other simple projects like the featherweight cardigan b. I am bummed at not going to Sock Summit, even though I totally thought it through and decided that I should not go. c. it's hot. wool socks and summer don't go together that well, and I don't have that many blends that are warm-weather friendly. The sock I started is a wool/seacell blend from Sereknity. Hilariously, my knitting buddy (the one whose wrath I feared in the previous post) was recently in NH, went to the same shop where the SO bought this yarn, and bought the exact same yarn in the same colorway. Hee!! Anyway, I'm using the embossed stitch pattern from More Sensational Knitted Socks, which will I think make it the first sock pattern I have ever knitted a second time. I think it's a good pattern for yarns that maybe have a little less elasticity - plant fiber blends, etc - because it has some inherant bounce to it.
7. Finish anything. I haven't finished anything since my last post, although prior to that post, I had finished the spiruluscious mitts which have been sent off to my mom and received with admiration. But, other than that - I have finished nothing. Despite this, I'm feeling really restless to start new stuff. Finishing the swatch (well, I guess technically I did finish something) was the first step toward starting Eris. I got it in my head that if I were to finish the collar before we leave for vacation at the end of September, the rest of it should be mostly stockinette and would make great car knitting while we are driving around in yellowstone. I definitely have to have a stockinette or garter project for that, because I want to be able to keep my eyes on the landscape. I'm also feeling very tempted to start a circular shawl, and I'm not really sure why. Am I seeing a lot of them lately, or is it just me? If it is just me, is it that I am seeing them because I am interested in doing one? Is it the Loopy Ewe's fault for their Girasole knitalong? I don't know. I do have to say I'm tempted by WendyKnits' new pattern for Order to Chaos. I like the wedges. I also have the pattern and yarn for a Rona Lace shawl at home that I haven't gotten around to doing anything with. BUT, I also have Hanami and Flamenco standing by (both also from Pink Lemon) and...and...and. There's always more Ands. It's kind of like playing wheel of fortune. Projects spin through my mind and whatever is at the top when I finish one project is the next project to get started.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I only ask that I be laid to rest wrapped in that lovely, squishy (well, somewhat less squishy now that it has been blocked), soft alpaca sweetness that I loved so much that I not only willingly copied another knitter, but did not even wait until she finished it before making one for myself. I cannot even say I am sorry, for I regret nothing.
Adieu, fair blog. Adieu.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I did make it to the Spinner's Day Out Fiber Farm Market, and I did buy fiber. I got 3 skeins of yarn out of Icelandic wool, in very light gray, medium gray, and black, that I think will make a nifty gradated something. I got a bag of llama roving (round) and two (4 oz) bags of alpaca roving (dark brown and medium brown - I plan to ply these two colors together), and two 4 oz packages of 'meriboo' (merino/bamboo blend) that I bought because somebody at the table said that is what they give their beginner spinners. I got one in a sort of cranberry and one in black.
Over the course of the weekend, I finished spinning the BFL in "Myrtle" from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club of the month (from several months ago). I really, really enjoyed spinning it. While I let the singles rest, I spun a bobbin of the cranberry meriboo. I see why they give it to beginners. It drafts really, really easily. Spinning it was FAST. So, I spun a bobbin full and then turned my attention to plying the BFL.
This is the first yarn I've spun that I actually want to knit with. When it dries I'll check the wraps per inch and see what I've got, though it isn't very consistent in places. Spinning it has been an adventure and a learning experience, though.
First of all, when I started spinning the singles, my yarn kept falling apart. I tried a couple of different things but to get the thickness I wanted, I really needed more twist, so I flipped down to the smaller whorl on my wheel and that solved the problem immediately. Then, as I spun, I kept trying to decide how I was going to ply it. I'm not really a fan of yarns where the colors barber pole, so I wanted to chain ply it. However, the last yarn that I attempted to chain ply came out so unbalanced that I couldn't even block it into behaving. I was pretty sure that the yarn was overplyed, so I thought, when I went to ply this yarn, I would go ahead and chain ply it but use the larger whorl on my wheel. Since I spun the yarn on the small one (more twist per revolution) I thought that maybe plying it on the larger one (less twist per revolution) would help reduce the overplying issue.
I finished spinning the singles yesterday, and today I started plying. I went with my plan, but my single broke right before my first bobbin was filled, so I stopped and wound it off to see how I was doing. No good - still too much twist. I looked at it, though, and thought maybe I didn't have enough ply in it. I went to my spinning book, examined the descriptions of Z twist vs. S twist and I THOUGHT it confirmed what I was thinking, that I didn't have enough ply. So, I went back and switched back to the smaller whorl, started a new bobbin, and picked up where my single broke, stopping to let the yarn twist back on itself to check and - darnit, it wasn't working. I treadled faster. It still didn't look right. My single broke again, and after a few tries at reattaching it, I gave up and wound off the little mini-skein I had plied. Horrible. HORRIBLE! The second I took it off the niddy noddy it twisted and kinked up so tight and thick it looked like cord. Clearly, I was mistaken. The stuff WAS overplied.
I sat there for a minute, and then I went upstairs and I got my umbrella swift and the previous chain-plied skein. I put the skein on the swift and then fed it back through the wheel, spinning clockwise to take out some of the ply twist (like most people, I spin clockwise and ply counterclockwise). I didn't hold on to it or anything, because I didn't want to untwist it too much, I just let it slide from the swift through my fingers and into the wheel. I wound it back off the bobbin and it seems to have worked. I took my skein of the myrtle and did the same thing, and that also seemed to work - only a little bit of extra twist, and in the opposite direction from before. I put both skeins in buckets to soak and went back to ply the second bobbin of myrtle. This time, I paid very close attention to what I was doing. I used the larger whorl, I scooted my chair up a bit to move my hands closer to the orifice, and I tried to concentrate on slowing down my feet and speeding up my hands. This was HARD. But, I succeeded - when I wound the skein off, it didn't twist back on itself at all. It hangs there in a nice calm loop. Success! It's beautiful and I love it.
The first skein looks pretty good, but some of the thicker places could actually stand to have some of that ply twist back. Oh, well, you can't have everything. I'm thinking it might make a really nice hat. I really, really enjoyed spinning that fiber, so I will be on the lookout for blue-faced leicester in the future.
I was so jazzed with success that I spun a bobbin full of the black meriboo, and, throwing caution and this whole 'resting' concept to the wind, I went ahead and plied the black and the cranberry together. The first skein had a little extra twist to it, but not bad at all. I concentrated harder on the second skein and triumphantly held up a perfectly balanced loop at the end of the night. Then I had to quit whether I wanted to or not because my back was KILLING ME.
I did find with the meriboo, that even though it drafted really easily, it wasn't very forgiving of mistakes. In most of the wool that I've spun, I haven't had to pay THAT much attention to the difference between yarn spun at the front of the bobbin, and yarn spun at the rear. My spinning teacher had taught me that this could make a difference but I really didn't have much of a problem with it - until I tried spinning this stuff.
Basically, your yarn gathers twist until it is wound onto the bobbin. The further it has to travel to get onto the bobbin, the more twist accumulates in the yarn. So, yarn that's wound on the front of the bobbin (the part of the bobbin closest to the spinner) has less twist than the yarn at the back of the bobbin (the part of the bobbin furthest from the spinner). Also, yarn spun onto an empty bobbin has more twist than yarn spun onto a bobbin that is already great with
- What can I say? I love to make things. I want to try everything! Knitting is my most recent, and currently strongest, passion. I have been cross-stitching for a looooong time, and I took up stamping and scrapbooking a couple of years ago to the eternal detriment of my pocketbook. I do many other things, including writing and photography - but I just can't stop crafting! I'm on Ravelry! Search for me as CraftNinja.
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