Sunday, April 30, 2006

Goodbye, April.

Lovely month in which I got nothing done.

No. I got the Kid Kimono done and mailed to it's happy new owner. I did do that. But that was about it.

Georgina is still on the needles, looking weirdly crooked (I have not counted the stitches because I don't want to know for sure that the neck hole is in the wrong place), and I eye it daily with the idea of throwing it in the trash. This did not stop me from buying more yarn for it, though, because it looked like I was running short. Even though I don't want to finish it. No. I am not tracking on this thought process either.

The Tax Sweater sits on the back of my futon, occasionally with a cat laying on it. I have wavered between facings and I-cord edge for the neck and arm holes (facings would make it lay flatter, but look strange and be a pain in the butt involving math to knit), and I think have finally decided (yesterday) to do the I-cord. So it's not done either, but I've got some clue what to do with it now.

The Poppies swatch isn't turning out like I want and I'm going to mess with it some more but the whole idea might just get scrapped (which should thrill the husbeast; more piles of yarn I'm not doing anything with). All that pink... I could knit a TomTen Jacket (from "Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmerman) with some of that pile of pink... in stripes... hmmmm. The goober would look cute in it, come fall, if I could guess the size right. Figure the odds.

And Friday I got fed up and cast on some near-instant (it should be done Monday or Tuesday) gratification knitting. No gauge (to hell with gauge), the wrong color (to hell with Project Spectrum), and no apparent use (to hell with that, I'll mail it to someone and make them happy). The only good thing about it is, it's making me happy and using up stash.

So there it stands. One whole project finished the whole month, and FOUR, yes FOUR projects in some state of knitting, planning, or finishing. I used to have an attention span. Really. I did.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Fractal Thing. Caution: math content.

Last Tuesday (so I'm slow... I am responding!), Laurie left a comment about Seed Magazine's inspirational potential, and asked whether or not I had ever seen fractals, and what did I think? (To paraphrase. This is not a direct quote.)

In a word, I think fractals are cool. But I can't figure out how to knit one (at least, how to knit one without going insane). In a nutshell, a fractal is a graphic representation of a math equation, just like the line-on-a-grid stuff you did in algebra class, but more complicated and prettier. (I am dumbing this down, it's a knitting blog, not a calculus class. And I hate higher math. But that's the bottom line.) Depending on the equation, you can get a repeating pattern in smaller and smaller detail (it's the same concept as when you do, say, a division problem and get an answer with a repeat, like 1.66666 to infinity. All a fractal is, is a picture of that answer, repeating itself smaller and smaller, to infinity). So, anyway, you get stuff that looks like this:

Fractal from here; they have many others that are equally interesting.

As for knitting something like it... Well. In some ways it's impossible, and in other ways, we knit a fractal every time we pick up our needles. You could certainly take those colors (pretty, aren't they?) and knit something Fair-Isleish and call it a success. But to TRULY do a fractal, you'd need to start off on broomstick-size needles and get smaller and smaller and shift from superbulky all the way down through to sewing thread, using some kind of increasing-but-getting-smaller series of stitch patterns. (I could do this, stuff it, and call it a pillow, but the very idea smacks of math and makes my head hurt.)

However. Every time we do one of those "decrease every second row three times" deals, all we're doing is knitting a complex (sort of complex) equation, and creating, you guessed it, a graphic representation of it. So by that view, everything we knit is a fractal, or a graph, or... something like that. Don't believe me? Here's a fractal.

I SWEAR that's a fractal, and not a doily. Food for thought, no? (Image from somewhere on the Yale website, the page loaded weird and I lost the link.)

AND THEN, we have Debbie New of "Unexpected Knitting", who has already done her own version of fractal knitting, called "Cellular Automaton Knitting" (chapter seven in her book). You make up a simple rule based on your knitting, and then follow through with it on a scarf, a hat, a sweater, whatever. (I don't wanna get into too much detail because it's her book, and her idea.) What you get looks and behaves mathematically just like this:

Graphic and details on how this works (in math, not knitting), from here.

My conclusion? I don't think I'll ever knit a fractal. And I do it all the time. Music is math, nature is math, and even though we don't want to admit it, knitting is, alas, math.

All this pure theory has made my head hurt. I'm going to go lay down.

My ability to converse about math at all is due to a series of excellent math professors (including one who was absolutely mad about graphs, and this kind of stuff) at Leeward Community College. I would take in 'knitting math questions' and they would discuss and ponder and puzzle and not think I was in the least wierd. Since then, my mother-in-law (a retired math teacher) has bravely learned to knit, and we can discuss knitting math together.

If you found anything I wrote here even remotely interesting, get a copy of "Unexpected Knitting" by Debbie New. I am a dabbler in this stuff. She is the master. The only thing I have ever found wrong with the book is that it's too big for me to take into the bathtub to read there.

Downloads are available here, to create your own fractals and all sorts of other math craziness. It includes some downloads about halfway down the page entitled "Create Patterns with Math" under the heading "Images".

Oh, and Trish? You can't make me learn to crochet.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

When I write a book on the history of knitting...

I'm gonna just MAKE IT THE HELL UP, too!

I have before me one of the most useless knitting books I've ever purchased. (This is what I get for shopping on line.) "Traditional Knitting Patterns" by James Norbury.

(Warning: I get pretty incoherent with rage through here.)

This crap is why we get knitters claiming that the Spanish Armada gave the Fair Islanders their knitting patterns (this has been declared bullshit by both historians AND the people from Fair Isle themselves, but it's in the book). According to this, the earliest knitting was done on frames (no evidence whatsoever), Scandinavia had knitting in the NINTH CENTURY (optimistic dating puts the invention of knitting about a hundred years later, a continent away), and... and... it's just awful. Oh, and if those Spanish patterns are Spanish, I'll eat a ball of pure silk yarn, with no sauce.

Actually, the patterns aren't bad. Just don't believe a word the guy writes. And the unbelievably biased commentary about Great Britain is a BIT much. (Norbury's British. Gasp.) No offense to any of my readers, anywhere. I will agree that traditional knitting in the British Isles is fascinating and beautiful, but 'genius' and the 'richest tradition... that can be found in any part of the world' is JUST A BIT MUCH. (Particularly when these terms were not applied to Shetland lace or Fair Isle color work.) This guy also claims that the first church in Britain was founded by Copts, not Catholics. Which goes against everything I was ever taught, and most of history as well. (And of course the Copts brought knitting with them, that they'd invented - even though the first knitting out of Copt territory in Egypt had 'Allah' knit into it, Christian my ass - and of course this was in the ninth century or something impossible like that.)

I'm starting to foam at the mouth. Must. Stop.



Spring/Summer storms have begun here in the Southeast of North America. They started with a bang, crash, and nine-hour power outage last night. Great fun. (I know, nine whole hours without power. I'm sure some of you are snickering.) I don't mind being without power so much, because I've got knitting and reading to keep me busy, but the husbeast gets a little stir crazy. Okay. A lot stir crazy. He went out for a drive last night while it was raining horizontally, because there was nothing else to do. (And does it make me strange, that horizontal rain in my face makes me homesick for Hawaii?)

Unfortunately the storm hit as I was halfway through a row on the Poppies swatch, and it was the first knitting I'd done all day... I may be nuts but I'm not knitting by flashlight. So we went to bed early and I feel almost human today, but there's no new knitting to admire.

The baby found the whole darkness idea mildly weird, I think. There was no freaking out, just some curious staring around with a confused look on her face, like "Darn, I SWEAR I could see just a minute ago..." To keep her entertained I gave her a mini Krill Light, and it's now her favorite toy. Of course.

This long, rambling monologue is basically to say that there's no knitting to discuss at this time. Georgina languishes on the needles, the Tax sweater is thrown over the back of my office futon waiting arm and neck facings (though I did wash it and it has some drape now like it is supposed to), and the Poppies swatch sits on the couch, looking a little too orange for my taste.

Always exciting at my house.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What to do...

In case you're wondering what you're looking at, that IS the right side of Georgina, and the weird shape is due to the direction of knitting. It's being knit from cuff to cuff, and the left side of the body is the back and it's meant to be longer than the front. And there are shoulder flaps to button so I can fit the baby's head through the neck. And if I look at it any longer, I will scream.

So I'm doing what everyone does at this stage.

Or at least a gauge swatch.

Yup. Persian Poppies is the project for May. For the gauge swatch, I'm trying the Kaffe Suggestion and make the balls of different colors of yarn tied together, and knit away. I suspect for the sweater I'm going to hack off lengths as they suit me and go from there. Making these two tiny little balls (green for background, the other for the flowers) took me about half an hour, and that's nuts. I could be KNITTING. I've stuffed all my yarns into the Big Bag O Fun and am ready to go once the swatch is knit, washed, dryed, measured, and the pattern worked up. (That's not all of it, though. I've got three more colors coming in the mail.)

It almost fits!

We'll pretend that the 3/4 length sleeves were on purpose.

At any rate, we have a happy kid, and that's what matters. THANKS, MIRI!

I was gonna post the pattern, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some cool stuff. And some not so cool.

None of it having much of anything to do with knitting, exactly. Sorry. If you're here for fiber, skip on down.

Discover Science is doing a new series called "What the Anciencts Knew", discussing the technological abilities of different cultures through history. Different shows focus on different cultures, starting tonight with the Greeks. Listings available here.

Seed Magazine has a new web site, here. While it's not immediately related to knitting, there are some very cool photos and graphics that could be used as the basis of some kind of color or even cable pattern. Remember the DNA cable scarf? Lots of new possibilities here. This would make a kickass start to some kind of color pattern. Inspiration is where you find it. I only wish I had time to knit up all my ideas.

Last night/early this morning (my child is teething, I'm up at all hours lately), I watched King Arthur. (Mainly because I flashed past with the remote and caught Ioan Gruffudd sitting about looking droolable in black leather and a beard. See photo at left, and don't drool into your keyboard, it'll short out.) Anyway. The last half hour of the movie is pretty dismal, reminding me of what Pete Jackson once called 'battle fatigue' -- enough hacking and screaming, and the audience zones out, never to return. I'm a fan of battle scenes, but a half hour is a bit much. The happy ending was pretty revolting, too. And I never enjoy seeing my boy Ioan get an arrow to the chest. I guess I'll stick to the REAL Arthur legend, and the only good movie ever made of it:

Other than the chain mail hanging off Arthur's crown, every bit of 'mail' in the movie is garter stitch with silver paint on it. You gotta love knitting.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

I've reached that hideous middle phase of a knitting project where it seems to go on forever and nothing happens. (This is the phase where the Yarn Harlot starts muttering about black holes.) Today I worked more on the Georgina sweater. I darned in more ends, trimmed more yarn, finished off a few spots.
Damned if I can tell the difference. I swear I am not putting up the same photo over and over. You've been sucked into the zone with me.

The cat still wants to help out, either by laying on me as I try to knit (at fifteen pounds, if she's on my lap, there is room for NOTHING else), or whapping at the ends of the yarn as I pull them loose from the massive snarl that is my project.

I'm getting one more color of pink for the Fassett project; I knit my mother-in-law an Elsebeth Lavold sweater for Christmas last year, and gave her the leftover yarn. I am now demonstrating my generosity of spirit by asking for it back. She's gotten used to my utter lack of manners over the years, though, and is kindly dropping it in the mail. It should be here in time.

Today I cleared two thirty gallon trash cans full of leaf mold and pine needles out of the back yard, along with three thirty gallon recycling containers full of the same. (For those of you who live in Metric Land, that's about two and a half cubic meters.) This is in addition to the two thirty gallon trash cans full of trash that went out last week. You can't even tell. There is not a dent made in that back yard. (This project, too, is in the hideous nothing-happening middle phase). I really would leave the entire disaster for the landlord, but I've got a kid who is going to want to play back there in another six months (it's warm enough down here for almost year-round outside play), and we have all kinds of nasty bugs, including ticks with Lyme's Disease. (In fact, it's so nasty back there right now, I got chewed up last weekend and spent a few happy days waiting to see if I developed mysterious rashes or other worrysome symptoms.) I want to go back to Hawaii where all I had to worry about was Dengue Fever. (Yeah, yeah, I am joking.) At any rate, the back yard is a hole and I'm not thrilled with the landlord. Shoveling leaf mold cuts into my knitting time, and my hand is useless when I'm finished.

One good thing did happen this weekend. The Tax Sweater got side seams. There IS a seam there, right in the middle. It's invisible, because I am the Queen of Mattress Stitch. I rock. Yay me.

I'll give you wool if you shovel out my back yard for me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Shoulders! And yarn!

And I was hoping side seams, but I sewed one, and didn't like it, and ripped it back out again. NO, I DID NOT CRY. Sheesh. You people. I did sew the shoulders, in a needlessly complicated adaptation of backstitching. Yes, I tried backstitching about five times, and it didn't work, so when I did this complicated loopy thing, it turned out fine. There is some sad commentary about my personality in there, somewhere. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what it is. Anyway. The Tax Sweater has shoulders. I'm trying to ignore that big jog the neckline makes at the seam (upper left in the photo). I SHOULD be able to minimize the disaster when I pick up stitches and put in a facing. It's so annoying when you design your own stuff, there's no one to blame for this kind of thing.

But the good news is, I'm working on the Tax sweater. (Does anyone else feel guilty when they ignore a half-done project, like you've left it all alone and it's feeling depressed and neglected and it's all your fault? No... no... I don't either.)

I also got yarn in the mail today. You can't tell the brown is marled very well, but it is. This is going to get knit into a very run-of-the-mill 1x1 rib scarf. There's some blue on backorder that's going the same way as the brown. Nice zombie knitting to balance out any crazy projects I start. And it's Christmas presents. I might get them done on time this year.

Speaking of insane, here is the pile of yarn I've accumulated (over the last couple months... ordered a little here, a little there) to knit the Fasset project in May. According to his suggestions, I'm about 28 colors short, but this looks FINE to me. I may be throwing in another shade of pink (depending on if I mooch it off my mother-in-law), but this is about it. The green will be the background and everything else will be foreground.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More Georgina. No Tax.

I darned in ends today. I got a nice little pile of them, sitting in a little tuft. It took me about half an hour. It made all the difference, Georgina looks perfectly fine now. (Honestly, with all those ends sticking out, I can't tell I did anything.)

The baby's been waking me up five or six times a night, so I'm pretty out of it and moving slowly on everything, including the knitting. Oh, and all those ends on Georgina? The cat desperately wants to help.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Well THIS is disappointing.

You Are 54% Evil

You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.
Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This zen thing... I dunno...

I have been knitting away on Georgina for two days and I am doing the Kaffee Fasset/Brandon Mably Zen Thing where you hack off wads of yarn, knit them in, and leave them hanging off the back of the work. You pick 'em up as you need them and pull them loose from the snarl. So far it's working beautifully, but it looks like THIS:

Can I get an "EEK!" from the audience??

I'm used to nice, neat, stranded color knitting. In fact, one of the reasons I'm making this sweater is to practice Intarsia - I haven't done it in about fifteen years. So to produce this... this... SNARL, is a mite disturbing. (The husbeast saw it and said "What is THAT?" and considering the projects he's watched me tackle without saying a word, that in itself worries me.)

Finishing? Tax Sweater? Huh? I don't know what you mean.

Oh. And the Kid Kimono did get in the mail today. I should e-mail her mother and tell her to be careful opening the package... Hmm.

Finally done.

It took me four hours to make (I-cord) and sew down my own purple frog, but I did it. Thank goodness for Stargate Monday. (Michael Shanks. Eye candy. Yum, yum.) I was so happy it was done, I shoved it in it's mailing envelope and sealed it up without ever getting a picture. Whoops. But it's done. I swear. Today it goes to the Post Office, if I have to load up the baby and take her along. (And I probably will have to.)

What with ditching the wrap AGAIN, now I'm down to two projects: Tax Sweater in finishing (no, the shoulders still aren't sewn up, but tonight I'm going to try the revolutionary idea of BASTING THEM FIRST), and Georgina on the needles. (I started it in a fit of joy yesterday after the Kid Kimono was done. Baby sweaters go lightning fast, don't they? I've already got a sleeve done and the body's started, and this is with adding in intarsia two-color spots.) This is how I prefer to do things. I can poke at the finishing and switch to the knitting when I get frustrated.

I've got a lot of other stuff 'in development', but a list of that would be embarrassing.

Turoe is still languishing. Well, sort of languishing. I said I wasn't doing it until the Christmas knitting was done, so I'm kind of holding to that. (Mainly because the montly yarn budget is currently getting spent on Christmas present yarn.)

Anyway. It's a happy day. Even though I forgot my pain pills off and on for the last three weeks (NOTE: If you're supposed to take a medication EVERY DAY, it really works better when you take it, EVERY DAY.) and now I feel like I've got rabid squirrels chewing my hand off. But the Kid Kimono is done. I'm happy. I swear it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's definitely Monday.

And I am having a major Stupid Moment.

I, the person who figures gauge out to two decimal places, who ties little strings all over a project to keep track of stuff, have just tried to knit The Wrap on the same needles with a different yarn AND BEEN SHOCKED when THE GAUGE WASN'T THE SAME. That's right. I changed yarns and expected it to knit up like it had before. Duh. That's the best I can do right now; duh. Having started this Wrap five times now, I may finally be facing the fact that although it's a square, I might still have to figure out what the freaking gauge is instead of knitting away and hoping for the best. Oy.

In other news, I bought five more colors for the Fassett sweater I'm doing in May (two shades of green, orange, yellow, and pink; it should be interesting, at the least). I also got yarn FOR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. I am not joking about wanting the Christmas knitting done by the end of summer. (It's a marled alpaca to knit a couple scarves.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Damn it.

I just had a huge blog entry... and it's gone... bah.
Here's a picture

And a link to the article.

I'm gonna go pout.

I didn't knit today anyway.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Maybe I just need some sleep.

I went off in search of the elusive Purple Frog today. No luck. I did find an albino one (okay, it was white, in the bridal department) and considered dyeing it for ten seconds. But it's synthetic which would mean special dyes that didn't work anyway.

So I went and bought a book about knot tying. Hopefully somewhere in there will be a nice round knot so I can make a frog. The goal was to have the Kid Kimono in the mail tomorrow. It's still barely possible. (Of course I also have to fix the snag put in it by my evil cat.)

I also went to the doctor (I have a military doctor on base) today and we discussed my possible migraines, which turn out to be probable migraines. I have "classic symptoms". It's only taken me twenty, thirty years to figure out it's not sinus. This is one I'm not blaming on the doctors, either. I never told them. So I can hardly blame them for not fixing it. At any rate, I've got some medication or other to try, and have been told to watch for 'triggers', in the hopes that I find out what causes them and I can just avoid it. (Among other things, foods, allergies, sleeping habits, hormone cycles, and stress can be triggers.)

They say chocolate can be a trigger. I know it's not for me, or I'd have had a headache for the last twenty years, straight.

So late this afternoon (during the Great Frog Search of 06), I head BACK to the Air Force Base to get gas, because I forgot earlier. Military bases are populated by rule-followers, which I find insanely annoying, so I stay away from them as much as possible. I can go whole months without stepping foot over there, and today I was there twice. I should have known something stupid would happen.


At the gas station, I try to fill up and there's no gas going into the tank. I click on the filler-upper-thingie and the pump just stares at me. So I'm thumping it and muttering and some rule-follower in a uniform leans around the pump to tell me to quit abusing the equipment and that they're out of regular gas. Does it SAY anywhere that they're out of regular? On about half the pumps. Mine is one without a sign. Right. So I left, having purchased TWENTY NINE CENTS worth of gas.

I think I found my migraine trigger.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I love my cat.

The wrap again, and some musings.

Remember the wrap? (If not, it's a project I got about 1/3 done, took off the needles, and threw away). It's making me twitchy to not have anything to knit on while I've got all this finishing work staring me in the face (shoulders of the Tax Sweater STILL NOT SEWN UP), so I'm going back to working on that. I'm going to put button holes down the sides, so that it can be transformed into different articles of clothing, like Convertible. I'd come up with about half that idea on my own - the concept of somehow buttoning the sides of a wrap together in different ways, but I was thinking about frogs, not simple holes and button cuff-links. So I'm using the cuff-link idea on my own wrap design. When I see a good idea, I use it. But I do try to give credit where it's due. And I never would have come up with the button cuff-link idea myself.

There have been some intelligent and thought-provoking discussions of copyright law over on Go Knit In Your Hat and The Girl From Auntie, and I've been reading them with interest. As a writer I've got a better understanding of how copyright applies to the written word, than fashion, but it turns out they're not so different. In my viewpoint, nearly all of it can be summed up as good manners. (If you were trying to make a living selling a pattern, and some shlep posted it on the internet, how would you feel? Most of it's pretty obvious.) There are a few gray zones, however, where The Right Thing To Do is kind of unclear.

Case in point? Stuff that's out of print.

Let's say I want to knit an Alice Starmore pattern from her Tudor Roses book. (Henry V looks pretty fookin' cool, I've gotta say.) My understanding is, her web site only sells YARN PACKS for Henry, not the pattern. The pattern is in a book that is out of print. So. I've got two choices here. Either buy an out of print copy of the book (currently listing at $104 US on, or, in a nutshell, steal a copy (make a photocopy from the book, out of a library or a friend's collection). Stealing a copy of the pattern goes against my morals. HOWEVER. If I were to win the lottery and buy a copy of the out-of-print book, STARMORE STILL WOULDN'T GET ANY MONEY. That's right. When you sell a used book, the author doesn't get a dime, whether it's sold for pennies or a hundred and four bucks. Whether I buy the pattern, or steal it, Starmore doesn't see a dime. So... how bad is it to steal the pattern? If the designer's not making money at it, either way, is it really theft? Should I just send Starmore five bucks and a thank-you note? (Judging from the amount of litigation Starmore has produced over the years, I imagine that yes, she wants the five bucks, the thank you note, and a notarized document stating you'll knit it exactly like she tells you to.)

Please keep in mind, THIS ONLY APPLIES TO THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF PRINT. If the book's avaiable, get your butt out there and buy it.

There are a lot of VERY cool knitting patterns that are out of print, and I'm always in this sort of position when it comes to aquiring them. I never know what to do. Still don't. But now I've presented my gray area so all of YOU can worry about it too. That's me, Ms. Helpful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Is this the part where I cry?

The Tax Sweater has been hemmed.

The colored stripe is a folded up hem in contrasting yarn. Laid over it is the other half of the sweater, so you can see what it looks like on the right side. I sew a great hem. I sort of grafted it down, so it stretches, and everything. Looks fantastic.

And I've sewn the shoulder seams four times. I'm about to tear them out and do them as short rows, so I can do a three-needle bindoff, which is my usual gig. One more try at the back stitching, and that's what I'm gonna do.

If I were, say, nine years old right now, I'd be crying. Maybe I should have a beer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Brother, can you spare a purple frog?

I need one of THESE,

NOT one of these:

I need the purple frog for THIS!!!
Yes, it is done. I finally got fed up and whip-stitched the selvedges of the sleeves together. It doesn't look half bad but the sleeve seams are bulky. Screw it. It's done. It is now sitting on a towel drying, because I attempted to block it last night. Blocking was about half successful. I'm afraid those armhole openings are too small.

But it's DONE!!

Now while it dries (I think I've got about three days while that happens), I need to find a purple frog closure for the front. I have tried to knit one repeatedly, with no success. (No, I did not cry, thankyouverymuch.) The baby and I may go out later today to try to find one at the fabric store.

While I was hot on finishing stuff last night, I got busy and finished the front of the Tax Sweater. That's right, I now have TWO sweaters sitting around here, waiting for finishing. And the Tax Sweater has HEMS and crap, it's not going to be fast and simple. (Well, apparently the finishing on the Kid Kimono wasn't fast and simple either, BUT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.) So now I have two sweaters staring me in the face, waiting for hems and facings and frogs and side seams, and... and...

The yarn for the Georgina sweater calls out to me. "Forget that hem crap, let's KNIT!"

Monday, April 10, 2006

I am a horrible person.

When I was a little girl, I did a lot of crafts, mostly painting and collage. I would have this great vision in my head of JUST how I wanted my project to turn out, and when it didn't (it never did), I would cry. (Yes, it is a miracle I lived to adulthood. I have thanked my mother for putting up with me.)

I tell myself that I have gotten over this and am going easier on myself and my projects.

It's a lie.

I have been working on finishing the Kid Kimono for two weeks now. (Three? Seems like years.) I have sewn the sleeves several times, and torn it back out again. There was no crying involved, but I am starting to see the perfectionist tendencies of my childhood resurfacing (you think?). There's a kid in New York dying to get this sweater, and I will bet you fifty dollars that she doesn't give a rat's ass how the sleeves are sewn up, or even if they're sewn at all. I need to get over this and finish the blasted sweater.

Since I tend to work hard to meet goals that I post here, I'm posting a goal now: I'm going to do the finishing on the Kid Kimono one last time tonight, and then PUT IT IN THE MAIL. (Maybe with a quick wash and block in between, but you get the idea.) Tonight. Kimono done. Goal. Getting to work now. ('Cause once that's done it should be just about time to get all perfectionist on the finishing of the Tax Sweater.)


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Knitting gauge for math geeks.

Due to my hand problems, my knitting gauge can be (and usually is) irregular. If I'm feeling good, it's loose, if I'm in pain, it's tight, if I'm on medication, it looks like yarn vomit... you know. So when I knit gauge swatches, I get a little more elaborate than usual when I measure them. I'm gonna tell how, so you can be a math geek, too!

See all those pins sticking out all over? That's because I measure the gauge in at least three places (on this one, I measured four). And I measure over three inches because, well, in this case the swatch wasn't really big enough to do it over four inches. And it's a fine gauge, so you don't really NEED to do it over four. (The bigger the stitches, the bigger swatch you need, and the more inches you need to measure over, for accuracy.)

I measured in four places, and got three different gauges (this is normal for me): 17 stitches, 17.25 stitches, 17 stitches, and 16.5 stitches. Averaged (add them all together and divide by four), that comes to 16.93 stitches per inch. Yes, I usually go out to two decimal places. It helps accuracy and I'm using a calculator anyway so it's not like that makes it so much harder.

So, 16.93 stitches over three inches comes to 5.65 (I rounded) stitches per inch.

Yes, I use gauges like that when I'm knitting sweaters for myself. A sweater that's 22 stitches across the front would be 124 stitches, whereas if I'd rounded down to 5.5 stitches per inch, I'd be casting on 121 stitches. That's about a half inch difference. Add that to the back, that's an entire inch different in the circumference of the sweater. That can REALLY affect fit.

Oh, and if I'm working on something REALLY fidgety, I will measure the gauge before and after washing, figure out what percentage it changes by, and then use that to monitor my progress while knitting. For instance, if my washed swatch is 5% smaller than the washed one, and my sweater measures 5% smaller than I want it to be while I'm knitting it, odds are good that it will be perfect once it IS washed.

Nitpicking? Yeah. Detail-oriented? Sure. But you know what? My sweaters fit when I'm done knitting them. So there. Nyeah.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Stupid human tricks.

Or, tricks I do when knittng, that you will hopefully find useful, or at least interesting.

Here we have the back of the Tax Sweater.It turns out I'm not writing an article about it after all, so it's not due and I'm knitting it for no apparent reason, but anyway.

See the pink thread slap in the middle of it? That's a piece of waste yarn that I tied around a stitch while I was knitting the first row of the armhole shaping. That means, later (like now) when I knit the front, I don't have to guess where the armhole shaping starts, I can count. (It's 114 rows.) This way the front and back match row-for-row, so I don't have to fudge anything when I'm sewing it up, and when it's finished it doesn't hang funny.

Soooooo. I'm now knitting the front: See the two pink threads tied in? Those are at every 25th row. That way I don't ever have to go back to the absolute beginning and count out 114 rows a half dozen times to get it right; I tie in a thread and after the 100th row, I only have to count to fourteen.

Nitpicking, or lazy? You be the judge.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Nothing to do with knitting.

Even I can't knit all the time.

Today I decided to do some lawn work. (The back yard is horrifying. Just horrifying. If I owned this place instead of rented, I'd be cutting down trees and pouring cement. Or just lighting a match.) I should have known lawn work would spell disaster somehow or other, because it always does. This time it was worse than usual.

I got out my work boots. I hadn't worn them in ages, because this time last year I was four months pregnant and puking until I got nose bleeds, so I gave up on yard work and gardening and most everything else for the duration. So it's spring again, and I dig out the old boots, and there, on the soles, I find it:
Red Hawaiian dirt. (You'll have to take my word that the dirt's red, because as usual my camera's fucking up.)

I pouted for a good bit, thinking about how long it had been since I wore these boots, and how I'd bought them originally for a horticulture class while I was in school in Hawaii, and even helped do some landscaping on campus while wearing them.

Eventually I got a grip on myself and went to put them on, and found THIS in the toe of the left boot: a bag of Hawaiian sea salt that a friend of mine gathered for me off the beach.

Now I'm really depressed. I'm going to go order some freeze-dried poi.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A few thoughts on Kaffe Fassett

My main thought is, the man is stark, raving mad.

I'm looking at doing one of his simpler patterns, to sort of celebrate the first couple months of Project Spectrum (what other designer could be more appropriate for Project Spectrum?) and work with combining colors, which is my own personal interest. (And maybe score a sweater for myself in all this knitting.) I'm also seeing it as a test - can I concentrate on color knitting with a kid in the house?

The pattern in question is fairly simple, and is based on two groups of colors, background and foreground. I thought, shoot, I could do that, right? I do two-color knitting all the time. So I ordered a couple shades of two color groups and was working through my 'to knit' list toward it, when I made the mistake of going back and reading his comments in one of his books. He suggests using "about twenty" colors in each group. FORTY colors in all. I'm pretty sure this yarn doesn't even COME in forty colors, total.

I suspect I will succumb to the temptation and order a few more shades, though. Why not?

Photos from the Kaffe Fassett web site.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Scarf ahoy.

I finally got the pictures of the Watery Llama downloaded from the camera. Here it is, in all it's reversible glory:
The scarf was inspired by the project in this article, though mine is not so fine in terms of materials or execution. I tried for the ripply effect, though, and kind of got it... not bad for just making it up off the top of my head.

The pattern is available here, should anyone feel the need to knit it. The yarn was yummy, a Peruvian wool/llama concotion available at Elann. (Hence the llama name.) It was very very soft from the llama hair. It was strange, you could see guard hairs and wild hairs and who knew what sticking out of the yarn and expect it to feel like barbed wire, but when you touched it, it was softer than most wool. (Really really high quality merino IS softer, but not much else is.)

Someday when I have spare time I might knit myself one.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April goals.

Since I can never quite knit fast enough, I will make a list. To keep track of everything I'm not doing.

Finish the Kid Kimono and the Tax Sweater. The finishing on the Kid Kimono has turned into a nightmare. Linen stitch is awful to sew up. I'm about to get out the sewing machine. The Tax Sweater is about a third done and it looks like I'll have enough yarn.

Knit the Thneed (still hoping that will take a day, or thereabouts. Because the world needs pink fuzzy sock/sweater things.

Georgina the Giraffe sweater. This is my yellow dealie for Project Spectrum, not to mention a sweater for the goober. Mind you, at the rate she's growing I have no idea what size she'll be wearing by next winter, so I'm guessing. ALWAYS insures a perfect fit.

Swatch for a Christmas present (can't give details, the person reads this).

Try to decide exactly how I'm going to knit the May/Green sweater for Project Spectrum. I know what I'm doing, kind of, just dithering between stranded and intarsia color. And deciding whether to order another five or six shades of green, yellow, orange, and pink. I'm thinking yes.

AND LET'S NOT FORGET TUROE!! I'm sifting through color cards, deciding which yarn to use. I've been eyeing Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Worsted, believe it or not. There are a lot of really nice heathered shades. And it would drive Alice Starmore berserk, which is in the plus column, due to my contrary personality. And it's affordable. Once I decide on a yarn, it may take a month or two to accumulate, depending on cost. And it's not getting knit until after the bulk of the Christmas presents are done. But... it progresses. Slowly.

In other news, I'm debating whether or not Wednesday's debilitating headache was maybe a migraine. I've had them all my life but thought they were sinus, but they hit for a day and disappear again. Hmm. I'm keeping track of them now. We'll see. Can't have anything interfere with my kitting.

Otherwise, um, happy April.

Oh- the Watery Llama Scarf was well-recieved by its new owner. Yay!