Friday, June 30, 2006

Easily amused.

Some days it's easier to make me happy than others. Today all it took was a chance find in the grocery store.

Chocolate Koalas. My friends and I lived on these in Hawaii (or tried to). They're little cookies with koala bears printed on them, filled with chocolate creme. (Made in China.) We used to run down to Shirokiya (Japanese department store) and load on up; I have never seen them for sale anywhere on the mainland before and they are among the dozens of foods I miss from Hawaii. (Along with deep-fried French toast and POG juice, to name a few.) When I visited here, I used to pack the empty spaces in my suitcases with them, and give them out as gifts to my family in Ohio. (My nephew in particular was always a big fan.) They contain many nutritious things, including palm oil, modified food starch, and high fructose corn syrup. Sanity prevailed and I only bought one box.

I've already eaten it. 320 calories for the small 1.8 oz box.

I am now heading off to do Me Knitting. (It sounds like a good Friday night tradition to establish, since the days of clubbing are long over.) Sci-Fi is playing re-runs, so the husbeast and I are going to watch the end of The Two Towers, part four in our viewing of the director's cut of the Lord of the Rings. Total movie time for all three is something upward of ten hours. It's a good ten hours, but it always makes me wonder about the IQ and personality of Pete Jackson. (And then there's Viggo Mortensen. Can I have him chained to my bed for just one night? One? Please? Which god do I pray to about this?)


Anyway. Sugared up, signing off, and going to knit.

Odds and ends.

A little of this, a little of that.

Thanks to all who commented favorably on my blue sweater. Annie, loved the suggestion to wear it with just one arm done because people wouldn't notice. I've been thinking about how to finish it while I've got ten million other things going on, and I've decided that I'll work on it once a week during Sci-Fi Fridays (conveniently, tonight). The Sci-Fi channel runs a bunch of shows I watch every Friday, it's the one almost guranteed time I sit down and knit, for sure. So I'll work on the sleeve weekly. It'll probably still take to Christmas, but it'll take a lot longer, not getting worked on at all, right? Now that I've looked at it, I think it got ditched because the sleeve is too long and to shorten it with that pattern means taking out the sleeve, unraveling, and putting it back in. Won't that be fun.

I probably won't start on the red-and-brown sleeve until tomorrow. Hopefully I won't put it away and forget about it until 2009.

Remember the new tomb in the Valley of the Kings? (Well, I do.) They opened the last sarcophagus recently. No body, but lots of other cool stuff. There are also a good many storage jars still unopened, so there's still potential for discoveries to be made. Article here.

The baby is still refusing to crawl, but manages to scoot around on her bum everywhere she needs to go. When she gets up on her hands and knees, she doesn't crawl, she tries to put her feet under her and push up - to stand. I think she's going to skip straight to that. Then we'll really see some mayhem.

And this brings us to the cat. Who, with an entire futon to lay on, and a nice soft pillow, instead pulled the hand-knit tussah silk throw off the back and wedged herself onto a small corner of it. How do they know?? HOW?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I can quit now.

The brown and red sweater (any ideas on a name for it?) has a sleeve. This is often where projects stall around my house, so I am afraid to take a break from it. But I'll have to, at least for tonight, because my hand hurts. I went on a knitting spree today to finish that sleeve and get it attatched. The curling edges are due to hems that have not been folded under and stitched down, and it looks a bit short because the whole thing is only up to the arm pits. But, you get the idea. I keep thinking I need one of these myself, in maybe denim blue and bright pink.

Here's a closeup of the steek, for those of you who get nervous about these things. The yellow threads tied in are for pattern repeats; I'll clip them off when the sweater's finished.

I was thinking it would be amusing (maybe) to do a gallery of one-armed sweaters, so I dug through the old Yarn Closet and Hiding Place for Projects Gone Wrong (YCHPPGW for short), and imagine my shock when I found only one sweater lacking an arm. Everything else piled in there is waiting for either finishing details (the tax sweater still needs I-cord; maybe I should finish it in time to wear this summer?) or else it's there waiting for repair (Dale of Norway cardigan with a wonky cuff). I'm going to post a photo of the one-armed sweater, with the idea that it might shame me into finishing the damn thing. As usual it's a project for me that keeps getting pushed back while I knit stuff for other people.

It is "Innsvinget Ganser" from Norsk Strikkedesign. I tweaked it around a little bit (this is me, after all), most noticeably by putting in hems at the neck and waist. You can see on the sleeve, there will be duplicate stitch accents when it's done. I really like this... it'd be nice to wear. Maybe, gee, I dunno, I should finish it?

Either that, or quit knitting the date I start things into the hem.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Why do knitters own cats when we wind up with crap like this happening all the time?

It's insane. I spend all my time pushing yarn around... let's see, I need a pet that loves to lay on my lap and smack at yarn!

And here I am.

No one ever said humans were rational.

Damn it.

Maybe I was a little too casual about knitting while drugged.

See the stitches on the left hand needle? The order is red, beige, red? It's supposed to be red, red, beige. I'm deciding if I care enough to rip back and fix it. Probably.

However, the underarm increasing looks very cool:

I'm seriously debating giving the sleeve a half turn and putting the increasing along the top, where everyone can see it. It'd really screw with the overall impact of the sweater, but I'm really tempted. I've got two more pattern increases (vertically) to make up my mind before I join it to the body. We'll see.

Otherwise, I started a lightweight scarf to have something to work on when my hand hurts too bad to wrangle the lopi sweater.

That's the Doucer et Soie. It and the sweater are both being knit on the same size needles (tens). It always amazes me, how different knitting can be, with a shift in a single factor, like yarn or stitch pattern.

Now I'm afraid to knit anything while drugged, for fear I'll screw it up. Maybe a sock?

In non-knitting events, the cat has taken to openly taunting the baby, but the baby still refuses to crawl; she knows if she waits long enough someone will pick her up. The little cuss is really stubborn. (The husbeast and I have no idea where that trait came from.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Drugged steeking.

A hobby for true maniacs.

Ha, no, seriously. There were some concerns in the comments from Sunday about me being heavily drugged and knitting a sweater with a steek in it. I've found over the years (and much drugged knitting) that it's not KNITTING the steeks while drugged that's tricky. It's cutting them. I have only CUT a steek once while heavily drugged.

That turned into my first lesson on how to patch knitting by grafting in a square of new knitting. Big hole, right smack in the middle of the chest. I was thrilled.

So I promise, when the time comes to cut the steek, I will be wide awake and stone cold sober.

Besides, I've only got two more days' worth of these drugs left, and there's no way the sweater will be done and ready to cut by then.

I find cutting steeks kind of fun. Does that make me a psycho?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wuh? Huh?

As a person with nerve damage and chronic pain, I've tried out just about every tranquilizer, sedative, downer, you name it, on the market. (Some that weren't on the market, too, if you get my meaning, wink wink.)Including some medications originally developed for epileptics to stop siezures. (It worked on the nerve damage but it wasn't worth the broken toes I got, walking into walls, because I couldn't keep track of where my arms and legs were. Fun stuff.)

I give you this background so that when I tell you my anti-viral medication is kicking my butt, you know it is KICKING. MY. BUTT.

The stuff I'm on, Valtrex, 'may cause drowsiness' according to the web site. HAH. Drowsiness, my ass. Try complete neural shutdown. I take the pill, think that yes, this time I have finally adjusted to the medication, and I'll remain functional, and WHAM. I have to go lay down for at least an hour. I don't even sleep. I just lay there going 'guh...' and staring at the wall, too physically tired to do anything, but my brain's still awake.

The husbeast is greatly entertained by the entire thing. Bastard.

Anyway, finished the body up to the armpits on the brown and red sweater (REALLY need to find a better name for it) and have begun Sleeve One. I'm using a generic Percentage System raglan 'pattern' with a steek up the front to make it a cardigan. Best thing about it is, it forces you to knit the sleeves before you can finish the body, and when you do finish it, you do everything, all at once. No sweater languishing in the closet, waiting for a second sleeve.

Because there just isn't enough going on around here (swatches for article, sweater, sock...) I also began one of the scarves out of Doucer et Soie. It's basically Kidsilk Haze from another company. And I am here to tell you, people knitting whole shawls out of that stuff are out of their minds. It's so fuzzy it's almost like knitting eyelash; I've more than once tried to work hunks of fuzz as stitches. I shudder to think what will happen if I drop a stitch into that mess. Insanity, that's what. Well. Further insanity.

Anyway, just took another one of my pills, and will settle in with some knitting, hoping that THIS time, I will have adjus--

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Over the edge.

How bad is it, when the whole world (at least the parts of it you know on a personal level) sends you knitting links? When they don't even knit themselves?

Or maybe it's just that I have good friends. It's a thought.


Anyway. My bud Kes, who does knit but is more a fiber-arts-in-general addict, sent me a link to this:

Followed closely by my friend Ryan (he crochets, but I love him anyway) sending me the same link with a comment something like "OhmygodKesjustsentmethisyouhavetoseeit."

I'm disturbed on two levels.

First, that anytime anyone sees freaky knitwear, their first thought is to send it to me. Though this amuses me at least as much as it disturbs me. (Last week, my bud the Geeky Goatsucker sent me a link to the knitted Ferrari. The closest he gets to fiber arts is his laundry basket, but he keeps me supplied with knitting articles anyway. A true friend.)

Secondly... that scarf. If I saw that on the subway, my first, immediate thought would be "Dang, that guy's watching porn on his P2P!"

Which I suppose brings up a whole third level of disturbingness, that I'm enough of a pervert that I'd immediately think a desire for privacy in public = pornography.

I am now going to go be disturbed my myself, in private.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quick update.

I bought $12 worth of imported chocolate at World Market yesterday while waiting on my perscription. I've been working my way through it (the chocolate, not the drugs)and feel much better now. Oh. And I did get drugs, and they're slowly kicking in. Unfortunately the drug works best if started within two days of the shingles showing up, and I waited five. So it's going to be uphill for another day or so. I'm still pretty itchy, but the suspected shingles on my face (site of the last outbreak) have disappeared, so life is definitely improving.

The husbeast, who normally would have said something snide about twelve dollars' worth of chocolate, said "Okay." Smart man.

I'm back to working on the brown and red Christmas sweater, and an assortment of swatches I need for my next Knitty article. (It's about swatches. Go figure.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The pictures and stuff.

All rightie. Vacation knitting. (Please note that everything is blue, for Project Spectrum's June color, almost like I planned it or something.)

The sock. It is a practice sock and I'm still not sure I'm knitting it's mate. (Whether or not it fits will be the deciding factor. Right now it looks like I've got fifty-fifty odds of that.) Instead of the PomPom sock pattern from over at Mag Knits (which I said I was going to use), I am using the generic sock pattern from the Yarn Harlot's latest book, Knitting Rules. The PomPom sock was too minimalist for me, since I had no idea what I was doing. And I figured if anyone knows how to knit a sock, and explain it to me, it's the Yarn Harlot. And she does.

The heel flap is wonky because I wanted a solid colored heel (for some stupid reason) and joined in the solid yarn as soon as I started the heel flap because I didn't know what I was doing. And it lacks a leg because I am knitting a footie-type sport sock. Otherwise, it's knit with one of the first of the self-patterning sock yarns, name unknown, that I bought maybe five years ago, with the idea of knitting socks with it. It takes me a while to get around to this stuff. Hah.

I also knit another swirl afghan square. Even with baby care, I cranked it out in two days, so these really are NOT that hard or complicated.

As with the first one, my cast-on is tight so the edges are scallopy. (Plus it hasn't been blocked in any way.) But it's okay 'cause I'll be taking the cast-on back out again when I put them together.

In other news, the doc is calling in a perscription for the shingles (after 45 minutes on hold listening to REALLY crappy music), and since it worked the last time I had shingles, all should be well in a day or four. The baby wants constant attention like she had with grandma and grandpa and has been a monster all morning. And the toilet in the front bathroom backed up and puked icky water all over the floor.

I'm buying chocolate while my perscription is getting filled.

How depressing.

You Are 65% Normal

(Really Normal)

Otherwise known as the normal amount of normal

You're like most people most of the time

But you've got those quirks that make you endearing

You're unique, yes... but not frighteningly so!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I just realized the deadline for Fall Knitty is July 1. Anyone have any suggestions on a topic for the article? Comment away! Please!

Home again, home again.

Turns out those bug bites weren't bug bites. It's shingles. And my doctor's earliest available appointment is July 17. This pretty well sums up how my week has gone, so I'll spare you all the rant, since you've probably got a good idea how I feel about it, anyway.

The obligatory sunset photo:

This was taken off the balcony of the place we stayed, by the husbeast. He always takes better photos than I do. He has the patience to, like, let the camera focus and stuff.

I've been thinking about it, and I've never been to Florida in the summer before, only fall and winter. This time of year, above the high tide lines on the beaches, there are sea turtle nests. And in case you might miss them, someone (whose job is this??) goes along and puts up caution tape and a sign saying that if you harm a turtle, sixty tree huggers will be on you like white on rice and rip out your liver. Or something like that. But it was cool, big piles of sand containing little baby turtles. I'd love to watch one hatch some day.

And that's about it for 'exotic' on that trip. The baby spazzed on the beach (no idea why), so we spent most of our time in the baby pool of the condo. Whee. Oh, and sunburn on top of shingles? Fun. Really fun.

I'm almost done with the second swirl afghan square (just that last, hated bit of grafting to go), am ignoring the tomten jacket determinedly, and on the drive home knit...


It's a wonky sock, but I'm getting the idea of how they work. And I feel ripped off. I turned the heel, waiting for some great mystical experience, and was left sitting on the couch going "that's it? Where's the hard part?" Socks are like doilies with no eyelets, that don't lay flat when they're done. I can do this.

And I'm about 90% sure I'm doing the Blue Shimmer. The sun baked my bains. (Plus I took measurements of the person I'd be giving it to, and I over-estimated how big it needs to be by about six inches, so the idea is a little less daunting.)

Photos of socks and such tomorrow. Maybe. If I'm still sane then. (Am I sane now?)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Still in Florida.

Without much access to the internet. I'm getting a good bit of knitting done, since I'm not constatly checking e-mail and stuff. Yes. I get the irony, thank you. No need to point it out.

I got a copy of the current Knitter's magazine to read on the drive down, and am amazed to find more than one project I want to knit. Not that I have time to in the current knitting lineup, but at least there's wearable stuff there. Amazing. Though I do have one question. Whywhywhywhywhywhy in HELL would someone knit a summer sweater out of alpaca/silk blend? It's like heat stroke in a ball. (I know, I know; the yarn company paid for it. It's still insanely stupid.)

When I threw the tomten jacket in the knitting bag and gave up on it, I started another swirl afghan square. It's almost done. Then I'm gonna start on a pair of SOCKS. (I'm using the 'pom pom' socks pattern from the archives over at Mag Knits. Basically, it's a toe-up sport sock.)

Pictures and more detailed commentary soon. I'm due home tomorrow night. Hopefully the cat will let us in the door.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Florida. The sunshine state. It's raining.

We arrived safely Friday night after a not-too-bad-for-Friday drive down. Friday night I was bitten by a mystery bug (twice!), and am having some weird allergic reaction. I think I'm getting a Lyme's Disease test when I get home (I know there's a wait before I get the test, don't worry, I'll talk to the doc). Fun, fun.

I worked on the tomten jacket on the drive down, yesterday, and all day today. I was almost ready to bind off the first sleeve when I realized I was supposed to be doing decreases every fourth RIDGE (of garter stitch) instead of every fourth ROW, which I was doing. So the sleeve is half as long as it should be, and needs to be ripped out and done over. Again. (This was try number two.) I think in a way it's bad, when you get practiced at knitting, because you get casual about directions and start making dumbass mistakes like this. (Or maybe I'm just a dumbass and my skill levels have nothing to do with it.)

I chucked the tomten jacket back in the knitting bag and am starting another swirl afghan jacket square. I know how to do that. (Famous last words.) There's also some sock yarn here, in case that wigs me out, too.

The baby's hair has curled up in the humidity here, and she now looks like a Kewpie doll: One big curl right on the top of her head. I assume she can feel it waving around because she keeps reaching up and playing with it. The cuteness levels are reaching near toxic extremes.

Photos will be posted when we're near our computers and can download them. (I'm on my father-in-law's computer right now.) We've already filled up one memory card and are working on another. Beware, most photos contain the baby. New parents. We're all goofy.

I'm still brooding over the idea of knitting the Blue Shimmer (the light blue yoked sweater on size zero needles) and am probably going to do it. I've always wanted to knit one, and can't come up with a good enough reason not to. Insanity, here I come.

My mother-in-law has already come up with one algebraic knitting formula for me (a -4x = b), but I'll explain that when I get home and can really dig in and concentrate on a Math Geek post.
So that's where things stand. I'm itchy and knitting in the rain. We won't talk about what MY hair looks like... one word for you: Medusa.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I'd rather have a root canal...

...than clean my house for company (they arrive tomorrow; I haven't touched a thing), put them up over night, then drive to Florida with them and spend a week in Flagler Beach. Then we all drive back here, I put them up over night again, and they go home. With a baby in tow, this is going to be about as much fun as the Normandy Landings, and about as spontaneous. I pointed out to everyone that a REAL vacation would be the husbeast and the baby going and leaving me at home, but that was out of the question. We had to have a FAMILY vacation.

Much more of this family stuff, and I'm gonna start screaming at random intervals and wearing the cat on my head. (She's been sleeping on my head lately, so I've got practice at it. Look out.)


I've got two pattern repeatss and a bit done on the body of the brown-and-red sweater (really need to find a better name for it than that), and it's going on hiatus for this vacation because the person who will be receiving it as a gift at Christmas will be along on the trip. Instead, I want to knit the sleeves of the tomten jacket (remember that?), and I'm going to throw in the sock yarn and some other stuff to swatch. Possibly the stuff I need to knit another swirl afghan square. (I hope to spend a good deal of this vacation out on the porch BY MYSELF, which would mean lots of knitting time.)

Still drugged and babbling. Migraine medication this time. It's been a helluva week around here.

We leave for Florida on Friday morning, so blogging may be sporadic for the next week, though I have hope for text, if not photos; I'll be with Gadget Man (my father-in-law) and Son of Gadget (my husband), and between them, someone's got to have a laptop with internet capabilities. And I will have the camera, to document 'exotic' for everyone. (Florida is about as exotic as my butt. Bah.)

Off to mutter dark thoughts to myself while doing house work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Stop me before I blog again!

I'm re-drugged and babbling some more.

Some news having nothing to do with knitting:

"Caddyshack" is up over at Thirty-Second Bunny Theater. The groundhog has bunny ears. (Link in the side bar over there at the right, under 'non-knitting links'.)

Tropical storm whoeverthehell is parked over my house.

I hate rain.

And the baby says, "@#(*#& the nap, where's the cat?"

I never DENIED being insane.

All right, all right... the sweater I'm considering knitting with size 0/size 1 needles (that would be 2 and 2.25 mm needles for those of you living in Metric Land) is THIS:

The Blue Shimmer, from Bohus Stickning. (Photo from here.)The link also contains a short history, if you're interested. Cool story. They say their patterns are offered for size 1 1/2 (2.5 mm) needles, but it doesn't mention the gauge. You can tell from the photo, though, the larger the gauge, the less subtle the color blending would be, and it'd become a big old mess at anything much bigger than six stitches to the inch (and I'm being generous with that). Currently available kits and patterns that I have found are written for seven stitches to the inch, which I think pushes the gauge out as far as possible without blowing it.

Now. The original Bohus Stickning was run by a lady named Emma Jacobsson, who had very definite ideas of how things should be done, including only the very best in terms of material, workmanship, and design. I agree with her principles and respect her life's work (Bohus turned out an amazing variety of knitwear for thirty years, each design more wonderful than the last.) With that in mind, I don't wanna turn out something that would make her shudder and/or file a lawsuit, if she were still alive. Plus, darn it, I respect my craft and I don't wanna turn out crap for my own sake, either.

"Poems of Color" by Wendy Keele offers a lot of the gory details on how the sweaters were worked (and also a detailed history of Bohus Stickning, with patterns) , and according to her, they were done at nine stitches to the inch. That would produce a fine fabric with plenty of drape, flattering to all figures, and best of all, provide the small increments of color needed for the blended effect on many of their sweaters.

And I'm back to knitting a sweater on size 0 needles.

The hardest part of knitting this sweater would be getting the gauge to match, between the massive stranding going on in the yoke (three colors per row, in some places) and the plain old stockinette in the sleeves and body. Plus surviving the boredom of all that stockinette, round and round and round and round and round. I'd be knitting this thing with something like a fifty inch chest measurement, too, which means I'd have to totally re-work the pattern because the one I've got doesn't go that big. And it's from the top down, with only six specific rows in the yoke to do the increases; there would be no fooling around on that. One mistake and I'd be doomed.

I'm still not sure I'm doing it. This is just in the planning stages, which is why I only bought one spool of yarn to swatch with, while asking myself "Can I stand to knit this for six to eight weeks without a break?" I spent over a decade knitting lace; it's not the fine gauge that scares me, it's all that stockinette without so much as an eyelet for distraction or interest.

Not sure I'm this crazy. Probably, but still not sure.

Although, if I DO knit this, it's what I want to enter in the state fair. Why fool around?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm not the only crazy person around here.

Between the sock yarn and the 2/8 weaving yarn (thread?) that I've got here, waiting to be knitted, I figured it was high time to dig out the small size double-points. So I did. Unfortunately the size 0 and size 0000 needles are plain steel, and very hard to tell apart, and I was left with a handful of tiny needles, not sure which was which (and wondering, at that size, if the difference really mattered in terms of gauge). No problem, I thought, and took them to the husbeast.

The husbeast does industrial inspections for the Navy and regularly spends his days measuring things down to the thouandth of an inch, and he's sized needles for me before. I figured he'd do his usual Zen deal: spin them between his fingers, separate them into two piles, and hand them back. But no. He was in a mood, or something.

Off he goes into the garage, muttering about Cals and Mikes. Cals turned out to be calipers, and Mikes turned out to be this:

A micrometer. Yes, indeed, I'm married to a man who keeps a micrometer in his toolbox. So he measured my knitting needles.

It turns out several of my size 0 needles vary from each other by over ten thousandths of an inch. Horrors. (I plan to use that as an excuse the next time I'm knitting lace and the gauge goes wonky, I swear I am. "Oh, sorry, the one needle is .0003 inches smaller than the other, it throws me off.") And I thought measuring gauge out to two decimal places was crazy.

So anyway. I've started knitting a swatch with the light blue 2/8 yarn. It's in the round, so I'm thinking of it as both a swatch and a practice sock at the same time. Right now I'm using size two needles, and unwashed, it's coming out at about eight stitches per inch. However, it looks kind of loose, so unless it really blooms in water, I'll probably be going down to size ones and nine stitches to the inch, which was sort of the gauge I was half-heartedly shooting at to begin with.

How long do you suppose it takes to knit a sweater on size 0 needles?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gauge part two.

There's another way to think about gauge, and have it simplify your life a little. But you're still gonna have to knit a gauge swatch. And it only works when you're doing your own designs or seriously altering an existing pattern. But still. Here we go.

For our example, we're going to use my current project, and I'll just put up a nice photo of the gauge swatch again so we have something to visualize:

So here's our swatch. We could do the usual, measure stitches per inch/centimeter, and figure from there, but in patterned knits like this it means all kinds of odd half-repeats and jiggering around to center things. Lots of math and frustration involved. Instead, measure the pattern repeat. Use IT to figure gauge. For instance:
This pattern repeat is 4.9 inches. I need a 50 inch sweater, so ten pattern repeats would get me a 49 inch sweater and I could probably fix the other inch in blocking. (Yes, this is very convenient. So conveinient I checked the measurements and math five times.) Five pattern repeats for the back, two and a half for each front. A pattern repeat is 18 stitches, so ten pattern repeats is 180 stitches. I cast on 180 stitches and started knitting. I'm still not sure exactly what the stitches per inch figure is.

If I wanted, say, a 52 inch sweater, instead of wedging in odd fragments of pattern repeats, I could still use ten pattern repeats, and cast on a few extra stitches at each side, working them either in a solid stripe or a checkerboard, or whatever, and still have whole pattern repeats to work with.

Again, this only works for design or serious pattern overhaul, but when you can use it, it's very helpful. (This works EXTREMELY well for cable knits, in particular, because it's almost impossible to do half a cable, or a third of one, or whatever.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Reality is a bitch.

This whole knit-a-sweater-in-two-weeks idea is completely for the birds. Not happening, at least not with size ten needles and Icelandic Lopi. After three days of fiendish knitting, I've got a hem, a single pattern repeat, and am on narcotics for my hand. There is a lot good about this sweater, I'm really happy with it so far, it's just not happening in two weeks.

I've had a love/hate relationship going with lopi yarn for several years now. I love it's thermal qualities, and it's price, and the way it looks (and that it comes in a zillion colors). The straw stuck all through it (unlike in silk) is kind of interesting to me, letting me imagine how a blade of grass got all the way from a field in Iceland to my living room in South Carolina. However. When you make a stitch with it, it takes far more effort to pull the stitch through than it would with, say, merino. The yarn isn't smooth. So you kind of fight the stitches into place. On the
other hand, I had to tear back a round and a half tonight, and simply pulled out the circular needle, pulled out the wonky rounds, and put the remaining stitches back on the needle. Those things stay where you put them - the roughness worked for me, that time.

While I had the sweater off the needle, I laid a tape measure on it, and it appears to be about 48 1/2 inches around. Final fit needs to be fifty, and the yarn relaxes a good bit when it hits water, so it appears even with the hand problems and the yarn warfare, I am spot on for size. Go, me. Plus, one round of this sweater is 180 stitches. The last sweater I knit was 320 stitches per round. So I feel like I'm getting away with something, even if I do have to fight the yarn.

Box Two from last weekend's yarn shopping spree arrived today (one box to go, coming in from Canada). It was a ball of Encore worsted in dark blue (my yarn of choice for kid stuff: I just can't bring myself to give a small kid something hand-washable) to use along with some other Encore worsted around here to knit my nephew a Christmas sweater. AND... new yarn for another go at the wrap. (This will be the third yarn change, I've lost track of how many starts it's been.) It's a REALLY nice wool/alpaca/acrylic blend that's kind of a variegated neutral. I'm looking for a lace or other texture stitch that will work with it instead of against it. (I'm about ready to say "Hell with it all" and knit an overgrown Clapotis.) Anyway, photos when I can focus my eyes again. (Narcotics don't mix well with photography, at least for me.)

I tend to babble when I'm drugged. Even when I'm typing.

Remember the cut finger that I glued shut? It healed without even a scar. There's a tiny jog in the lines of my finger print, and that's it. No infection, no nothing. I'm gonna have to do that again. (Glue myself if needed, not slash my finger open with a paring knife while stupidly cutting a hole in a felted bag.) I described the entire thing to a friend of mine who is a nurse, and she informed me that these days, they use MEDICAL GRADE SUPER-GLUE for just such
situations, and if I'd gone to the Emergency Room, I'd have wasted an afternoon and paid $400 to, you guessed it, get my finger glued shut. Something for us all to keep in mind.

Off to knit something while I'm drugged. That's always interesting in the morning.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I am not posting photos of my stash today, sorry. I peered in the closet it's in, considered pulling it all out, and chickened out. (Plus, I'm not so sure it'd be good for the husbeast to see EXACTLY how much yarn is in there. He sort of knows, he's watched it come through the house, but he hasn't seen it all piled up in a heap, you know?)

However. Today I got a box in the mail. See it there? I threw a ruler in for scale, so you can be impressed along with me. That box (it's about four inches deep,) contains THIRTEEN balls of yarn, including five of cotton, which doesn't compress much at all. The packing slip says it was packed by Rachel M at Halcyon Yarn. You go, girl.

Soooo. I got four colors of Knit One, Crochet Too's "Doucer et Soie", which I imagine (from the fiber content) is similar to Rowan's "Kid Silk Haze", only it gets here faster and I have a color card for it. These are Christmas presents. I'm going to do some loose lacy scarf something with it (feather and fan?), hopefully one ball will do it. From what I've seen of shawls and THEIR yardage requirements, I think I'm good. (225ish yards per ball.)

Sock yarn. EEEEeeeee!

I spent a half hour at the Pass And ID Office yesterday (on base - a surprisingly painless experience except for seeing the extensive background information they have on me), staring blankly at a wall, thinking "Yup. Time to take up sock knitting." I have to agree with the Harlot on it's portability and simpleness for take-along knitting. Maybe I'll squeeze in some scarves, to get the Christmas stuff done, but it's all about socks now. (I wish.)

Five more hunks of Cotton Fleece. The pink and cream are for the Tomten jacket, the others are for the afghan jacket project. (More dark green for the background.) That hunk in the bottom center is supposed to be purple. "Emperor's Robe" (the name of the color) sounds like PURPLE, doesn't it? What kinda wuss emperor wears indigo blue like everybody else?? He's supposed to be wearing murex purple, damn it.

THIS is getting swatched with, because it's probably getting knit into a Christmas sweater. We're looking at 8 stitches to the inch or finer. (I'm pretty sure I'm losing my mind. The pattern I've chosen HAS to be knit at a small gauge, and this is one of the few lines of yarn with the proper colors.) The only good thing is, that tiny little spool cost $11 US and has 600 yards in it. Pure merino. Woo. Let's hope like hell it blooms when washed, or it'll knit at ten or twelve stitches to the inch. (And I REFUSE to knit an entire sweater at that gauge unless it's for ME.) Ten stitches per inch would mean SIX HUNDRED STITCHES IN A SINGLE ROUND on the body, and no, that's just not happening. Eight stitches per inch would be 480, and that's quite bad enough. (For the record, the most stitches I've had on a needle at once was 1200, but it was lace and I was on drugs - lots of them.)

Incidentally, if I do go through with the coned yarn sweater thingie, it's at the back of my mind to enter it in the State Fair. Probably never happen, but the idea lurks.

This concludes today's yarnfest. Now if you excuse me, I have to go knit like the wind. Or at least a stiff breeze.


Done. This is a Turkish sock pattern, adapted from "Simply Socks" by Anna Zilboorg (love her). It is the 'crazy curl' pattern on page 93. The colored spots in there are actually pin-heads, marking places to measure. Once I am through here, I shall be getting my brain together to do math, and start casting on. Two weeks. We shall see. (I have a bad feeling I'm headed toward a heating pad and narcotics, but hell with it. I occasionally get tired of behaving and torture my hand. This may be one of those times.)

But at the moment, there is a poopy diaper to change. Sigh. Reality is always such a come-down.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No gauge today.

The swatch still isn't done. It's honkin' big (which is cool, it means it will be more accurate) and taking time. I really, really like it. I was thinking today, my previous speed record for a two-color sweater with sleeves was set on a similar sweater (see photo to left). It took me three weeks. For entertainment purposes (I'm hard up for a laugh, I tell ya), I'm going to try to break it. We'll see. (Sweater based on the Ram's Head Cardigan from "Meg Swansen's Knitting", knit in Reynold's Lopi Lite in Navy and three shades of gray.)

I've been picking little bits of straw and plastic out of my yarn (Icelandic Lopi purchased at three cents a yard - this doesn't annoy me like picking straw out of silk I paid TWENTY cents a yard for), and I always wonder how it got there. Was the sheep rolling in some grass one nice sunny day? Did it have a shoving match with another sheep (do they do that?) More likely, did the fleece get dropped on the floor sometime during processing? I always imagine fields full of happy sheep lolling about.

I probably think too much.

Over at Project Spectrum we're being encouraged to post photos of all the blue stuff in our stash... I'm saving it for tomorrow, when I'm supposed to get a box of yarn, including more blue. So tomorrow will probably be Yarn On Parade, including, I hope, the gauge swatch.

Aaaaaaand that's about it for today's excitement.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


The gauge swatch is at the bacon stage. (You know, where it's all long and narrow and crinkled up at the edges.) When I flatten it all out and take a good look, I really like how it's turning out. This is quite a relief, since it's the first time I ever, ever used color theory to choose colors for a project. (I got red yarn a little redder than I intended, thinking the tan it would be next to would make it look browner. Looks like I was right. I am amazed. Jaw-hanging, mind blown, boggling, amazed.) I was going to post a picture, but really it just looks like crumpled up tan and burgundy bacon. Hopefully tomorrow. I wanna get this thing started. (I am going to Florida with my in-laws, one of whom will be getting this sweater for Christmas, and I obviously can't work on it then - I'll do the Tomten Jacket and maybe another afghan jacket square. So. Must knit, now.)

There is a County Fair Knit-Along heating up over at Stitch Marker. I think she's still working out the details, but it inspired me to hit the ol' internet (what did we do before the internet? I don't remember, but it had to suck. Public library? Phone calls to total strangers?) and checked on the South Carolina State Fair. They do have knitting categories, and it's in OCTOBER, so I could possibly have my act together by then. (I'm thinking, enter a Christmas sweater. Two birds, one stone, all that. I am considering, gasp, entering more than one category. They have a baby hat category. I happen to have a baby.) The only drawback I'm seeing is that it's in Columbia, which is a four hour drive away, and I'd have to make the drive TWICE, once for turn-in and again to pick up. (Though I'm wondering if a pre-paid envelope or a $20 bill in the right hand might get it mailed back to me.) Anyway. Food for thought. And motivating!

I just broke up a fur-pulling contest between the baby and the cat. Generally, the cat has no use for anyone but me (she will occasionally tolerate the husbeast, since he feeds her) but she must consider the baby a kitten or something, because this poor cat puts up with more abuse from the baby than I would have ever thought possible.

And I JUST remembered, the Egyptology thing is on Discover tonight. We need to knit some Egyptian sweaters. Hmmmm.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I remember now.

I've been asking myself this week, why in hell I insist on knitting doilies when they drive me absolutely batshit. I remember now.

It's because I feel like the cleverest damn knitter in the world once it's blocked. (Granted, I'm not the cleverest knitter in the world or I wouldn't have had to re-start it three times, but I sure FEEL LIKE IT.) In my usual, detail-obsessed, used-to-cry-over-it way, I can't help but notice it's got a wonky spot:

I'm not sure what kind of mistake that is, exactly. (Okay, obviously it's a loose thread, I just don't know how it got that way. Some kind of screwy yarnover, I imagine.) But, hell with it, it's done and going into the mail on Monday with the Deco Bag, to their new homes (different destinations). I've got a blue Project Spectrum deal done (it was on purpose, remember?), and I have suddenly realized that to finish all the Christmas knitting by the end of summer, I have to knit a sweater and two scarves per month. (Please stifle your hysterical laughter, it's distracting me from banging my head on my desk.)

Literally while I was blocking the damn doily, the mail arrived and this was in with all the bills:

After a quick flip-through of this book, I now understand more about knitting hats (and just as importantly, blocking them) than I have after twenty years of looking at patterns. I've had this idea for a baby hat for winter that I might now know how to knit!

If you order this book, DO NOT ORDER IT FROM AMAZON. It took those jerks THREE MONTHS to get this book here. (When I lived in Hawaii, I was ordering titles even more obscure than this, and they'd have it to my house in a week. Ever since they started selling crap other than books, it's been a mess.) I ordered it March 10, and at the time, the shipping info said it shipped in two to four weeks. You can order it straight from Annie Modesitt herself, at her very own web site, here. And oh, lookie, she has a blog. Heh heh heh.

This pretty much concludes today's fiber festivities. From here it's all a sad, downhill path to grocery shopping and poopy diapers. (The husbeast has been working literally around the clock, fixing something submarinish for the Navy. When he is home, he's usually talking in his sleep about taking things apart and putting them together.) My other great fiber goal for the weekend is to knit a gauge swatch. Woo. Big excitement. But I've gotta get a jump on this month's sweater. Arg.

New yarn is supposed to get here Monday. Including the stuff to finish the Tomten. And knit some blue socks.


It's done, but not blocked.

I finished up last night at about eleven-thirty, and wanted to run right to the internet and post it on the blog and gloat, but then the power went out. It just figures. (I did catch the last of the Good Eats episode I was watching, though, that's good. Alton Brown is insane. He made a Philly Cheese Steak with filet mignon.)

So anyway. Today I block. More photos then. And maybe some intelligent commentary. I dunno... I didn't sleep much last night.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A dilemma.

And thanks to my blog, I can dump it on you.

You've probably caught on by now, I knit a lot of gifts for people, and will often take requests or discuss ideas with someone before knitting, to avoid giving presents that someone won't like (and therefore won't wear, making it a massive waste of my time and money). Okay. So what do I do when someone requests something I KNOW is unflattering?? Knit it anyway? Refuse? At the moment I'm trying to find something similar-but-flattering, but... I dunno. Should I just knit it anyway? It'll get worn, I know that. It just won't look good. I'm at a loss.

Anyway. Comments? Suggestions? Sarcastic remarks?

Edited to add later, around 8:30 PM, EST:

I had a request for detail on why it's unflattering (and thanks for the feedback!) so here goes...
In a nutshell, it's someone with a generously figured size, who wants a traditional knit that involves Large. Broad. Very Contrasting. HORIZONTAL STRIPES. Or what will look like horizontal stripes at a distance of over three or four feet. (Plus the dropped-shoulder thing is SO unflattering, but I'd fix that, regardless.)

Instead of full-on, all-over patterning, I'm thinking a Swedish style yoked sweater with lots of action around the neck line (to call attention to the face) and a nice, calm, solid color (with waist shaping!) down over the rest of the bod. And no ribbing at the hips. Ever. (There should be a law.)

Or else I try to knit something with vertical patterns (sideways fair-isle?) and go insane.