Monday, July 31, 2006

One dead husbeast, coming up.

About two weeks ago, the husbeast did a load of 'shop rags' in the washing machine. You know, squares of cloth covered in grease and oil and RTV (whateverthefuck that is), in my regular old washing machine. Supposedly he wiped down the interior when he was finished, and all was spick-and-span after that. (I wonder what, precisely, he wiped down the interior with -- more grease?)

A week ago, I used the washing machine to block the brown and red jacket. (Soak with soap; spin out water, rinse cycle with no agitation, spin out water.) It is neccessary to do this in the washing machine because my Ebeneezer Scrooge of a landlord doesn't allow for a laundry sink. (The plumbing isn't THERE. We can't even buy our own - there's nothing to hook it to.)

Everything looked fine. Until today when I sat down to hem the damn thing. Then I started noticing weird little spots all over the jacket:

See that little black spot? It's grease. And they're ALL OVER THE SWEATER.

I keep telling myself that wool has a positive elctron charge, and that dirt kind of sits on the fiber and doesn't molecularly bond to it, and that it's very easy to clean for that reason...

...if this grease doesn't come out, I'm going to kill him.

While grinding my teeth, I did finish the hem. This is one of the bottom corners, with the button band edging and the hem all working in sync and it's all relatively square and I'm quite pleased with how good it looks (except for the grease spots):

And here's the interior of the hem for those who like to see these things. I do realize that the hem thread, the hem yarn, and the exterior of the jacket totally do not match in any remote way. I should be flogged for how bad this match is. But, hell, it's a hem, the only person who'll see it will be my father-in-law (who gets it for Christmas). We have a theory he's color blind, but really I suspect he's another subscriber of the "Eight Colors of the World" school of thought.

And here's one, last, final (maybe) photo of the shoulder shaping:

That's me in the jacket. I know I'm swimming in it; it's for a much larger person. That's fine. Makes me feel like the diet's starting to work.

Oh, and the baby? The husbeast just caught her eating cat food.

This morning I cut open the tube that was the Blue Shimmer gauge swatch (I was SO close to putting a heel on it, but I knew I was going to cut it open like this), and pinned it out flat on a board. It's propped in my office so I can look at it and decide if I'm really going to tinker with that brown band slap in the center (it's highly likely I'll order a different color).

See the edges? See how they aren't unraveling? Notice I haven't been struck by lightning and there's no plague of locusts or rivers of blood showing up in my yard? YOU CAN JUST CUT KNITTING. (Vertically along the columns, anyway. Horizontally along the rows and you'll have an unraveling mess on your hands.) This is the basis of steeking. The world really doesn't end. I'd do something to stabilize that edge if I planned on wearing it or even washing it again, but all it's gonna do is sit there, pinned to that board, so it'll be fine.

Go cut up some knitting and see how it works. It's really educational. I swear. Hack up one of your kid's old sweaters, if you're too attatched to your own work.

So, anyway. Now I'm down to the wrap/overgrown scarf until the rest of the yarn gets here for the Blue Shimmer.

Today I was researching projects and entry forms and other things for the SC state fair and I had a rather humorous thought... shouldn't I enter a scarf? I think I should.

Hey out there...

Anyone know what's going on with the hits to my lace blocking page? I got a whole bunch (a whole bunch for me) of hits direct to it yesterday (usually people hit the home page and wander around from there), and, well, it's strange and I was wondering what was going on.

Morbid curiosity. If you read, I'm happy. That's the bottom line. But I'm curious. (You may have noticed that about me by now. The curiosity thing.)

Oh, and Annie? I have ants. Time for the gasoline and matches.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Really finishing.

I got in a mood today and tore into the ten million half-finished projects sitting around here. Those damned Doucer et Soie scarves? The ones I was going to pin out and spray carefully with water?

Hell with it. Into the drink they went. I stretched them out on the bed after, and they're looking pretty good. I will probably post patterns for both of them tomorrow, after they've dried and I can get fairly accurate 'finished' photos. Here's some detail on the purple, kind of in focus. I like how it looks. (Now that I can try to forget the obnoxiousness of those k3tog columns.)

The Blue Shimmer swatch has been finished and is soaking in a sink full of water and Eucalan at the moment, soon to be rescued. (It's knit with coned yarn and I wanna be sure to get all that machine oil and gunk out of it.)

I wasted no time last night after finishing the purple scarf, and cast on the neutrals wrap for my friend. I was about halfway through row eight when it hit me: You know what a wrap is?

It's a big fuckin' scarf.

Once I fish the Shimmer swatch out of the drink, I hope to stay motivated and get to work on the hems of the brown and red jacket. It'd be nice to finish out the month with a bunch of stuff DONE.

In the mean time, genetics has raised it's ugly head (again) and the baby is teething on, yes, a Susan Bates knitting needle sizer. Isn't that cuuuute?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

You post something on the internet...

...And EVERYONE reads it.

I know, I know. This seems pretty damned obvious in retrospect, but my brain is swimming, all the same. Having readers as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Europe is mind boggling, but I half expected that and it's cool (hi, guys!)

It's the corporate organization stuff that's starting to freak me out.

I assume the hits from the Federal Government are knitters who are bored at work. (I was not aware until now that there WAS a Marshal at Arms for the US Senate, but I can see how that would be useful -- does the yarn snag on the holster of your sidearm when you knit?) Hits from the Canadian government, it's GOTTA be a bored knitter in the Great White North -- what on earth would the Canadian government want with me? I don't even drink Screech. So, I try not to hyperventilate when I get hits from courthouses ALL OVER THE COUNTRY (do baliffs knit? Is it part of being a baliff? Call order, arrest criminals, protect the judge, knit socks?) but yesterday. Yesterday finally did it.

I got hits from Starz (the people producing Thirty Second Bunny Theater, which I mention occasionally), and, get this, from THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM. IN LONDON.

Near as I can figure, they're searching blogs to see what people say about them. Makes sense in a kind of quality-control, feedback sort of thing. Not to mention I said nice things about both, so I don't have to sit here wondering what posessed me to be rude on the internet where everyone can see it. (We won't discuss that one review of Vogue Knitting.)

Either that or people are Starz and the V&A are bored at work. Can't rule that out.

So, with this in mind, I got bored and ran a google search for 'knitting gauge swatch'. My humble little blog POPPED UP AHEAD OF MARTHA STEWART'S!!! I have topped Martha Stewart. This is... this is... I dunno what this is. Trippy. Weird. Cool. Amusing. I want to make up a song. (Something that goes "Google likes me more than Martha Stewart, neener neener neener.")

Anyway. Thank you, loyal readers, for making all this possible. I'm gonna go lay down. My ego can't take this. Hahaha.

PS. Found a really great series of blog entries on steeking over at "See Eunny Knit!" Here's the link, and I'm going to post it in the side bar under knitting links, too. Just in case someone gets the urge to cut up their knitting.

Friday, July 28, 2006



And the cat bugged me so much while knitting it that I wrapped it around her neck for the photo. She was annoyed. Served her right.

An end!

I'm not there yet, but it's in sight:

See how you can SEE through the yarn skein?? That means there's NOT MUCH YARN LEFT. (I know I'm stating the vastly obvious, here. Cut me some slack. I'm happy.) Three or four more pattern repeats, I'm thinking. Then I'm donedonedone. I might manage that today. Wouldn't that be exciting?

As it is, the scarf has lengthened quite a lot, and yes, I finally did notice some growth of the whole thing:

If any of you have wondered what in heck that background is (since it appears here regularly), I'll tell you: It's my couch. I tend to just fling stuff down where I've been sitting and snap photos of it. Now you know the awful truth. And the white backgrounds I use? Cloth diapers. (Clean, I promise.) It's what's handy. I've been thinking of getting some colored paper to use for smaller projects, but so far... it's couches and diapers. A sad commentary on the contents of my house. The Yarn Harlot drapes her work over flowers. I put mine on diapers.

In other news, the cat has suddenly discovered that the stuff on the tray of the baby's high chair is FOOD!

This was the last day the baby got to eat lunch on the floor. Since then she's been on the table, away from the snacking cat. (Ever seen a cat eat puffed rice cereal? It's pretty hilarious.)

Back to the purple scarf. I've got my second wind now that there's an end in sight.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What if...

I am considering an article for Knitty, tentatively entitled 'how lace works'. What would you want to read in it? Basics like how to make a yarnover, or the more esoteric stuff like why columns of stitches lean, and lace fabric often has uneven edges or is wavy?

What would you want to learn in an artcile like that?

Come on. I need to know.

New developments in the pharmacy war.

I'll try to keep this short... no need for yet another ranting post.

There was a meeting today of the 'patient advocates' (in the general scheme of things, that's who I'm supposed to talk to about a problem like getting the wrong medication from the pharmacy). Instead I found the head of the "Quality Services" department, who was very kind, took my name and number and two pages of notes on my situation. She assured me she is turning it over to the head of Customer Service. It seems the head of Customer Service is a Lieutenant Colonel and has the rank to 'make this an issue' to quote the lady I talked to. She seemed more angered by the fact that I couldn't get anyone in the pharmacy to answer the phone, and that once I finally did call them, they admitted to knowing of the mistake but no one had cared enough to call me and let me know.

I pointed out that older folks (we have a lot of veterans using this clinic) have trouble reading perscription bottles and this could have become a MASSIVE safety issue. She assured me that she realized that, and the issue would be treated as a safety problem, not general customer service BS.

It sucks to be the pharmacy over there, today.

But the good news!!

I got my bum hand X-rayed (first time in about five, six years) and it turns out all the holes in my bone where the doctor drilled holes have healed over. That means I have less risk of re-breaking my arm in the future. Not to mention, 'people my age' don't normally have their bones heal over like that, which implies my calcium uptake is going well and my bones are solid and doing what they're supposed to. (Instead of melting away in preparation for osteoporosis later in life.) Yay! I'm blaming it on the dairy products.

There is an end in sight on the Blue Shimmer swatch, and right now it looks like I'm getting the same gauge, on plain stockinette and stranded color. Weird. We'll see how it measures after I wash it, but I might just knit the whole thing straight through on ones. Wouldn't that be nice?

Off to knit fuzzy purple things. Bah.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nothing about knitting.

Sorry. It's ranting Wednesday, instead.

So I went to the Air Force Base this morning. (If you're a regluar reader, you're snickering right now and you just know this won't end well.) Massive security at the gate, getting in, to the point I was worried I was going to be tagged for a random search and miss my doctor's appointment. (Apparently when Middle-Eastern countries INVADE EACH OTHER, it increases our threat of terrorism, but when the US unjustly invades Middle-Eastern countries, we're perfectly safe. Yeah, RIGHT. Assholes.)


The last three times I talked to my doctor, it was for stress-related problems (shingles, migraines) and I knew I was probably in for it when I saw her today. What I didn't know is that my blood pressure is so high that not only did I wind up on BP medication, but the doc is sending me to an optometrist to make sure my eyes haven't sprung any leaks. Apparently stress and chronic pain are an ugly combination. (My blood pressure goes up when I'm in pain. My pain goes up when I'm stressed. So apparently I've got this unending pain/stress/high BP thing going on.)

The bottom line to all this is, more drugged knitting. At least until the pain and BP level off. Won't that be interesting? I'll make sure to document the madness.

So anyway. I'm stressed and getting sent to specialits and having lab work done, and I go to the pharmacy to pick up my perscriptions. This is the pharmacy that made me wait an hour and a half for some narcotics and I finally had to almost pry them away from the pharmacist's hands, back in January. I was out this time in half an hour and wondering what the catch was.

Then I got home, and figured it out: They sent me off with someone else's medication.

That's right. And it gets better. It's an old-fashioned antihistimine that can RAISE BLOOD PRESSURE. My doctor's worried about my eyes springing leaks, and the jackasses in the pharmacy give me a drug that could make it worse. Morons.

Tomorrow, I go see the Commanding Officer. We've moved into dangerous levels of stupidity; being slow is one thing. Handing out wrong medications is something else again.

Anyway. The funny bit. I swear there's a funny bit.

Going in and out of the base, I always pass O'Neil Avenue and Jackson Drive. I seriously doubt the streets are named after this O'Neil and this Jackson, but it still makes me giggle every time I drive past.

So it's not much of a funny bit... I'm annoyed, here. Work with me.

Oh, and I'm still knitting the stupid purple scarf.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Allow me to clarify...

...just why I hate these stupid scarves.

Apparently I'm making some people nervous about trying lace knitting. I feel bad about that, because it's not the lace knitting part that's driving me batshit. In fact, I think I'd hate these scarves MORE if they weren't lace. At least the lace knitting is adding a bit of interest to them.

Ultimately, it comes down to repetition. I get bored easily. (Ask me about my collection of one-armed sweaters.) So to knit one of these, knowing when I'm done I've still got two, three, or more to go, gives me heart burn. I'm using different lace patterns for each scarf to try to make each one seem different, but it's not working. It's coming down to having to knit scarf after stupid scarf, while cursing myself for wanting to knit all the Christmas presents this year and buying all this damn yarn up front.

The yarn isn't helping either. It's glorious enough when knit up to make me persevere, but it's really a bitch to deal with. It can take me literally a minute or two to do a 'knit three together' manouver because it's like brain surgery to get the end of the needle through all three fuzzyass stitches at the same time. I have yet to block the first one I did, because at THAT end of the project it requires special handling, too.

I never liked knitting scarves. Now I remember why. Next year everyone's getting cookies for Christmas.

So don't let my hatred of small, fiddly projects that have no end scare you off lace. Lace is fun. Lace is deceptively easy; wrap the yarn over your needle, knit it like a stitch in the next row, and you've got an eyelet. It's that simple. And people who don't knit lace think you're a genius. It may be the best kept secret in knitting.

Scarves bad. Lace good. Don't let it intimidate you. I'll try to keep the grousing to a minimum.

The purple scarf.

I did two more pattern repeats on this today. Still can't tell a difference, though I think the ball of yarn feels a little lighter. It could be my mind is playing tricks on me, influenced by mohair fumes and boredom.

I'm thinking of adding on two more of these damn things to the Christmas list. I'm out of my mind.

The dead zone.

You know the place. It's in every project. Where you knit and knit and knit and knit and nothing happens, and then after a week of knitting with no obvious size increase, it's suddenly two inches too long?


And now Blogger isn't letting me upload photos. Imagine a lacy purple scarf here. (I'll upload it later if I can.)

I knit three pattern repeats on this thing yesterday and damn if I can tell the difference. No obvious change in length on the scarf or in the ball of yarn. It's like I didn't do anything.

The Blue Shimmer swatch is almost done. I finished up with the plain stockinette section on size ones last night and switched over to zeros. But since it's plain old stockinette, I can read while I'm knitting it so even though it's not going any faster, I don't really care.

I wanna knit socks. Or... a bag. Or, gee, I dunno, anything but this freaking swatch and these damn scarves.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A worrisome new development.

The baby has begun crawling over to the cat and rubbing her face on it. Near as I can figure, the baby has watched the cat do it as greeting, and is imitating. (The cat is one of those who likes to rub her face on people.) Either that or they're doing some Vulcan Mind-Meld. Can't rule that out.

The baby has also tried to give the cat toys.

The thing about the cat is, Sekhmet is a stray we picked up while in Hawaii about five years ago. She showed up at the back door one day and we kept her. ($300 USD to get a cat from Hawaii to the mainland USA, between health certificates, shots, and plane fare.) A friend of mine who knows cats SWEARS that this beast has some Maine Coon Cat in her, but we can't figure HOW. She's got all her claws and weighs 15 pounds/6.5 kilos; we joke that she's like that cat in Peanuts that communicates by slashing words into Snoopy's dog house. Until the baby came along, I was the only person she could stand, and she'd still bite me regularly (in that feline 'hi, how are you?' way, not to draw blood). So to watch this cat deliberately go lay next to the baby, put up with tail-pulling, fur scrubbing, and general baby-ness, is mind boggling. We do watch like a hawk when they're together, worried the cat will suddenly go crazy, but so far the cat's been nothing but patient.

I know they're conspiring against me.

Uh, is it Monday?

Yesterday was one of those wake-up-with-a-migraine days. I have found that if you chase the migraine medication (Zomig) with a narcotic (Lortab), you don't notice the side effects of the migraine medication. But it does leave you pretty well useless for the rest of the day. (Don't worry, I asked my pharmacist if I could do it, they said I could.)

I woke myself up, snoring, around four yesterday afternoon. It was that kind of day.

The brown and red jacket is laying on the coffee table in my office, waiting for hems, and every time I go in or out I admire the glory that is the shoulder shaping. It looks darn good, for having no idea what I was doing and making it up as I went. (I tell myself I don't plan projects in detail so that these happy accidents can happen, but really, I'm just lazy.) The lopi softened up immensely with washing, which is fortunate because it was starting to remind me of some plate armor I made for myself out of cardboard when I was a kid. I made the mistake of putting it on last night and now I really, really want one of my own.

Here's the back of the right shoulder, so you can admire along with me:

The purple scarf continues apace. Right now it and the Blue Shimmer swatch are the only things I'm working on. I'm trying to limit myself to two projects at a time, so I have something to shift to when I get bored or frustrated. (Bored, much more often than frustrated.) When THAT's done, this is the next thing in the que:

Yep. It's a gauge swatch for another go at the wrap that I've been trying to knit all year. This time I have a plan, though. And it's just in time for August, which is neutrals month in Project Spectrum. I hope to hell the air conditioning holds up in our house, because this is a wool/alpaca blend intended for a New England winter in Connecticut. (I've also got another damn ball of Doucer et Soie in tan, for another damn scarf, for neutrals month, but I'm not going to think of it. I might cry.)

Other than knitting, there's not much to say. The baby's been playing with a catnip mouse and it's still creeping me out. The cat was caught scent-marking the baby yesterday (you know, when they rub their chins against something), so who knows what exactly is going on. They're probably plotting to take over the house and force me to make catnip cookies. (I suggested making catnip soap and washing the baby with it. The husbeast laughed and laughed and then told me I'm a horrible person.)

Thirty-Second Bunny Theater (link in the sidebar) has up a short of "Office Space", if you're interested. I've never seen the original all the way through, so I can't tell you how good a parody it is. It made no sense, but then they never do. It's a laugh, though.

And that's about it for this happy little Monday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wash, set, and style.

Ever gotten your hair styled? Blocking sweaters is a lot like that. (Wool is just hair, after all.) I've got my latest hairstyling project drying under the ceiling fan in the bedroom. (The husbeast just expressed his displeasure at having a wet sweater wicking moisture into his side of the bed. Honestly. Some people don't understand ART.)

That armpit grafting job I've been putting off for a month? It took me maybe half an hour this afternoon. (Yes, I felt kind of stupid, after.) At this point, all there is left on the jacket is to put on the buttons, and, (ominous music please) sew down the hems.

Won't that be fun. Looks like a job for the next time I'm heavily drugged.

In other blog-related news, I've been watching hits, and think it's really freaking cool that I've got readers all over the place, so, hi, all you readers all over the place.

The baby has taken an interest in carpentry and electrical work:

And to further their unholy alliance, the cat and the baby have begun trading toys. There is evidence of their plot to rule the world scattered all over the house.

The baby's favorite toy right now is a catnip mouse, and I caught the cat last night pouncing a block. It's creeping me out.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Still not finishing.

We did this instead.

Putting things off makes me a better mother.

Right? Right?

At the moment all I can think is, "You know, the brown and red sweater could be washed in there. And the Lavender Eucalan would probably be good for the baby's skin."

Heavy sigh.

Genetics. It's a scary business.

THIS is a wagon wheel (the cracker in the baby's hand).

THIS is a baby stuffing the whole thing in her mouth, just like her father does with crackers.

And THIS is a baby trying not to laugh so that the entire cracker pops back out of her mouth.

A friend who has known me for over twenty years saw that last photo, and tells me I used to get that same look on my face in school, right before I did something horrible and got thrown out of class.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


That thing I'm supposed to be doing, with the brown and red jacket, and the blue scarf? Yeah. Um. About that.

I finished the color portion of the gauge swatch. (Holy crap. It's in focus. Clearly a sign of the apocalypse. Watch out for meteor showers, plagues of locusts, and grim gentlemen carrying scythes.) I don't like the dark brown in the center and am going to order a different shade, probably next week. And I need to do several more inches of light blue stockinette on the size ones, then go down to zeros and do several inches on THOSE, and then it's done. But the color's done. Finished. Right.

I'm also finishing off the last of my shingles medication today. Turns out if you're kind of caught up on sleep it doesn't knock you totally unconscious when you take it. Who knew?

Finishing... um. Hm. I also finished the last of a Lindt milk chocolate bar today. With hazelnuts.

Who ever said finishing was bad? (I'm going to have to suck it up and block this stuff, though, sometime before Christmas.)

Lameass filler.

There's a little Q&A going around some cooking blogs (this one too), and I thought it would be fun to do here. Mainly because I did almost no knitting in the last 24 hours, and there's nothing to report. (I was supposed to do NO knitting, but found myself, yesterday afternoon, obsessively knitting on the Blue Shimmer swatch, telling myself I was an idiot. I did about five rows; the color bit is almost done, and then back to more plain light blue stockinette. Matching gauge between the color and the plain knitting's going to be a real treat.)

The baby finally figured out how to crawl forward yesterday afternoon, and I spent the rest of the day chasing her down. She even followed me into the kitchen while I was making dinner, fascinated by the different floor texture (tile instead of the carpet she's used to). As Trish told me, I'm entering the Toddler Zone. I'm doomed.

So anyway. Here's the lameass filler, er, list:

1. Ice. Lots of it. (We like our drinks with ice.)
2. A Weight Watchers frozen dinner that's been there since the week we moved in, making it, roughly, a year and a half old.
3. A loaf of bread.
4. Frozen fruit pops.
5. Booze.

For fun, I'm going to make this about The Closet, not the closet in my bedroom. That's just full of clothes. The Closet is in my office.
1. Almost a wall of yarn. (I'm working on it.)
2. Two sewing machines.
3. A milk crate full of color cards.
4. A fully-equipped tool box.
5. A stack of bolts of fabric (I worked at a fabric store in the early 90's and am still digging out from under the stuff I brought home. Good thing I never worked in a book store.)

Well, Jeep. Same idea.
1. French-fry holder. (Usually contains my cell phone.)
2. Baby seat.
3. Mag light. (For head bashing emergencies.)
4. Kleenex.
5. Stroller. (A Jeep stroller. Of course.)

1. Department of Defense identification. (Not that impressive, all military dependents have them.)
2. Discount cards from local book stores.
3. Driver's licence. (Hawaiian. It expires this year. I am sad.)
4. Ticket to Epcot Center when I went with my mother in, uh, like 1993.
5. Expired EMT certification card. (I used to be one. Not now.)

Maybe I should go knit something.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hand cramp, ahoy!

Due to crazed swatch knitting the last two days, I've had to take a day off. I hit the wall last night at about ten PM while watching Eureka (series premiere. Hilarious. Catch the show if you like funny sci-fi - someone did a bit of homework), and had to watch the last hour of the show without knitting. Me sitting in front of the TV and not knitting is somewhat unheard of. The husbeast asked if I was okay. I said no. He shook his head and sighed. Between hand problems and obsessive knitting and general pig-headedness (I insist on doing things I shouldn't), we've discussed just getting me a tee shirt that says 'my hand hurts' and saving me the time of saying it.


I've decided that maybe finishing the other projects laying around here would be smart, before digging into another major undertaking like the Blue Shimmer is going to be. (Plus, the rest of the yarn for the Blue Shimmer won't be here until the end of next week at the earliest, so the crazed swatching is just that - me being crazy.) So, that's on my plate for now: blocking, arm pit grafting, sewing in hems, putting on buttons. All that really exciting crap. There's an inch of purple lace scarf started, and two more of the freaking things to go, after that. Plus the blue one to be blocked. I hate scarves. And the fricking tomten jacket still lurks in the knitting bag in The Closet.

Deb asked (in the comments) when the State Fair is, that I want to enter the Blue Shimmer in. It's not until October, but I get really nutty (okay, nuttier) when I'm up against deadlines and have found it's easier to do things early and not spaz out. I'd like to be working on finishing by mid-September, to keep this whole project as low stress as possible. (Knitting it on size zeros is bad enough, without knowing it has to be done IN A WEEK.) When I was in school (up until I got pregnant with the baby), I was notorious for showing up way early for classes in a culture - Hawaii - where everyone runs ten minutes late.

So. That's the excitement at my house today. Finishing. Thrilling. Can't get enough of the excitement.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cue the ominous music.

Because I just bet I'm gonna wind up knitting this sweater on ones and zeros (2.25mm and 2mm).

The lower part of the swatch is knit on size twos (2.75mm). About halfway up the color part, I shifted over to size ones to see how it looked, and as soon as I changed needles I knew I had the right needle size. The yarn holds together better, doesn't slide around, doing the colorwork is easier, it looks better, and worst of all, THE GAUGE IS SPOT-ON. I wanted nine stitches per inch. I get that with size one needles.

Since my gauge is always tighter doing stranded color than it is doing regular stockinette, that means the plain bits will have to be done on zeros.

Of course, this is all subject to change once the swatch hits water. Coned yarns can do seriously crazy things when they hit water. But I doubt it's going to make the gauge SMALLER (never has in my experience, unless you're felting it), which is what I need.

I'm telling myself, how much worse can it be? I was thinking it would be size ones, and it's size zeros. No big deal. I'm already insane.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's here.

It's the yarn for the Blue Shimmer. These are mini-cones, and I ordered one large cone of light blue for the body and sleeves. It's on back order. They think it'll be to me by the end of next week.

But of course I already had a mini-cone of the light blue, for swatching purposes. I started knitting immediately (it's so nice to have a husband who understands these things), and this is what I've got so far:

Those are size two needles. I may need to go down to ones.

I don't think the colors are subtle enough, but this is the best I can do without spending $280 on a kit. (I would need two kits at $140 each, because the kit sizes only go up to a forty-something inch chest and I need fifty-four.)

I must now go to bed and sleep instead of staying up all night knitting and undoing the good of the weekend. Bah.

Weekend roundup.

Mostly I slept this weekend. And went to the movies. I realized (a bit belatedly) late last week that I've been treating myself like crap, and maybe the shingles would stay away if I took better care of myself. You know, like sleeping right and maybe relaxing once in a while. I took a couple vitamins. Diet and exercise are already being dealt with, in a desire to lose some weight. I'm on the dismal-but-sensible "quit eating junk food and grazing between meals" diet and taking walks in the evening. (I'm considering taking a sock along to knit on the walks. Our ancestors did it while herding sheep, why can't I?)

So... lots of sleeping, not much knitting. I feel better, though.

The brown and red jacket got a button band/collar/edging, and all the ends darned in. It's waiting to get the arm pits grafted together, then I'll wash it and block it, and then hem it, and it's done. At the moment it's thrown over the arm of the couch, languishing. I caught the cat kneading it, and the other day she was sleeping INSIDE it. She ran before I could get a photo, though.

The blue scarf has been bound off and sits on a shelf next to the blocking pins and spray bottle, waiting for me to be willing to spread out towels on the floor, crawl around pinning it, and then spray it with water. Just thinking about it makes my knees and hands hurt. Maybe tomorrow.

Me Knitting on Friday night (during the premire of Season Ten of Stargate, woohoo! Everyone was rescued in statistically unlikely ways) produced two inches of sleeve. About ten more to go. (That's... um... two months? Oy.)

I began the next freaking scarf. This one's a rather virulent purple, with a different lace pattern. The cat has discovered it is soft too, and I found cat hairs stuck in it this morning. Very suspicious.

That may look like a lot, but most of it was done this morning, so it hardly counts.

In other news, the baby has been confined to her pack and play after being caught playing with extension cords. She hams it up for the camera, but let me tell you, she's not amused.

And Sekhmet the cat lays on her bed of hand-knit Australian merino, sneering at the world from under her eyebrow whiskers. Somebody bring her some catnip.

Books that warped me.

A friend of mine has decided to go back to knitting after a long break. That's two lured to the dark side, since I started this blog. Not bad.

She asked me for suggestions on books and patterns and stuff, and I sent them to her, but I got to thinking about knitting books, and decided, heck, I'd list the ones that really influenced me. Maybe someone will find it useful, or even, possibly, amusing. (Plus I slept all weekend and didn't knit much of anything and have nothing else to really blog about.)

So here we go. I'm attempting chronological order, but don't hold me to it.

"The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. This isn't a knitting book, technically, but it introduced me to the concept of learning just for the sake of learning. That you can learn more than what's given to you at school, just because you want to know. That it's okay to study more than one thing, to be curious about EVERYTHING, and it's fun and cool. I first read the book at maybe age eight, so it had a profound affect on me. We could blame many, many things in my life on this book, including knitting.

"Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I encountered EZ early on, probably before I knit my first sweater (because as I recall, my first sweater was an adaptation of a pattern, and it was probably EZ who gave me the nerve to do that). She made me think I knew what I was doing, probably before I really did. But for such a short book, she manages to hit all the important stuff; gauge, materials, even how to design. The dry humor's great, too. Since then I've read most of her other books, and they're great too, but this is the one that really made me feel like I knew what I was doing.

"The Principles of Knitting" by June Hemmons-Hyatt. I'd been knitting maybe a year when this book was first released in 1988. One flip through and I remember the light dawning; this knitting thing was a lot more complex than I'd thought. There were a million ways to do everything! And none were wrong! I actually went out and bought a copy and still have it. If I ever want a tropical vacation, I'll sell it on eBay. (And the cat's been warned, so don't try breaking into my house, looking for it.)

"Knitting in the Old Way" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (the original, first edition) and "Knitting in the Nordic Tradition" by Vibeke Lind. These were the books that spelled out steeking and traditional construction methods and made me really think it was simple, leading to Dale of Norway sweaters, other scandinavian knitting, and stuff like the brown and red jacket. They have a lot to answer for.

Then for years there was nothing much, except of course Kaffee Fassett and Alice Starmore making me oooh at the color possiblities. (I know I'm committing heresy here, but neither one of them are terribly impressive when it comes to cut and fit. Fassett is downright primitive.) I thought I'd seen everything, by that point. I'd been studying and knitting for going on twenty years.

Then Debbie New published "Unexpected Knitting" and I realized I don't know anything.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A love note to sock knitters.

I went to the craft store yesterday, and bought two sets of double-points - size 2/2.75mm and size 3/3.25mm. I could even choose between bamboo and metal. They had double-points down to size 0/2mm. RIGHT THERE ON THE SHELF. A few weeks ago I got a 'sock knitting set' from Susan Bates that contained five needles each of sizes 1, 0, 00, 000, and 0000. (Dunno the mm size for those other needles.... 'fooking small', that's the size.) For $10 USD. This is like an alternate universe for me. It's... it's... amazing.

Fifteen years ago, I had to drive an hour and a half to get to a place that sold any kind of lace-knitting supplies, and I remember paying $20 USD for a set of five 0000 double-points that had been imported from Germany. Most things had to be mail-ordered from Europe and took forever and cost a fortune.


My head spins.

I know this is due, not to lace knitters, but to all the people who have started knitting socks in the last five years. There must be one unholy huge mob of you out there, judging from how the market has responded. Thanks to you, it is possible to get a set of double-point needles smaller than size five in less than two months.

Bless you, bless you. Showers of sock yarn upon you.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I did it.

I just ordered the yarn to knit the Blue Shimmer. From the swatches I've done, I think I'll be knitting it on size twos and threes. (2.25mm and 3.25mm.) Which is better than ones or zeros, which I was thinking I might wind up with. Still, this is about the smallest needle size I've ever used for an entire sweater.

This is what I want to enter in the State Fair, which is held around here in October. So. Get the yarn, work up a pattern, and have it done by October 1. That's two and a half months. I might pull this off.

Of course I want to knit a wrap and several scarves at the same time, which might be tricky. Oh, and I want to enter a hat and a doily in the fair, too.


There comes a time...

...when you have to say "Oh, fuck it," and laugh. Or go insane.

The baby slept all night last night, for the first time in at least a week (she's been having nightmares, we think). She slept all the way until seven AM, which for me these days would have been a gloriously late, slothful morning.

But no. I woke up with a migraine at five AM.

Fuck it.

I suspect it's the Valtrex causing it, because I seemed to have an unusual amount of migraines while I was on it last time. Weird side effect for an anti-viral drug, but it's been affecting my nervous system in other ways (mainly by knocking me unconscious), so who knows. Maybe it's just my massive annoyance at the shingles causing the migraines.

Maybe I'm insane.

At any rate, I've kind of come down from my massive, ranting, snarling fit. Kind of. So let's have some knitting, since it is the purpose of this blog.

Every time I had the urge to put my fist through a wall yesterday, I would sit down and knit a couple rows of the scarf until I calmed down again. Okay, maybe it took ten rows to calm down. (The Air Force base says my medical records are on the Navy base. The Navy base says the Air Force has them. If they are lost, I shall bite someone's eyes out.) Okay, fifty rows to calm down. With a vodka chaser. As you can see, there's only a pattern repeat's worth of yarn/thread left, so I plan to be binding it off by this evening.

Unfortunately, Sekhmet the cat, who has a thing for textures, has pegged the scarf as a nice soft surface. I suspect she wants to try kneading it and rolling around on it, to take a nap. Whenever it's on a flat surface she tries to edge toward it casually, but I'm on to her.

If she kneads this scarf, I'll kill her.

The idea of dipping this thing in water makes me feel faint, so I'll probably pin it out and spray it down with water, to block it. Sometime this weekend, I figure. Anyone ever tried steaming Kid Silk Haze or Doucer et Soie? Once I get some decent photos, I'll post the pattern. (Though 'pattern' is a pretty fancy name for 'do three repeats of feather-and-fan until you run out of yarn'.)

Late last night, in a fit of I-don't-know-what, I picked up ten million thousand hundred stitches around the sides and neck of the red and brown jacket, to knit the collar/button bands as one piece (this is one of those things that looks great when it's done but is kind of crazy to do). I prefer this to knitting each bit separately, and I think this method wears better, but whenever I find myself putting together a three-foot-long circular needle with my Denise set, I have to worry. I picked up along the red edge of the steek with brown, and have knit one ridge of garter stitch.

I'd include a photo here, but I've uploaded it four times and Blogger keeps telling me it's not there.

Fuck it.

I haven't counted how many stitches the edging is. Usually when I do something like this, I count on the last row as I'm binding off; it's something that's only fun to have hard numbers on, after it's done. (I did a kimono sort of thing a few years back, where I did the entire bottom, cardigan fronts, and collar all at once on a circular needle. 860 stitches. If I'd known that while I was knitting it, it would have seemed like 1860 stitches.)

No buttons for the jacket yet, so I can only knit about half the button band (I need to know how big the buttons are, to make the buttonholes). Then I'll have to leave the house, deal with PEOPLE, and go shopping. I hate shopping.

Fuck it.

COMMENT ON THE COMMENTS: Thanks to all for the sympathy and information. If the itching gets worse I'm going to look into the anti-itch cream, for sure. I'm also glad that no one left any complaints about my language... yet. Haha.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Anybody else do this?

So. I'm looking at another round of drugs that kick my ass. (More ranting upon that subject in a moment.) A full series of Valtrex costs $180USD (thankfully my insurance pays most of it, I only have a $9 perscription fee). Now. My first thought was "You know, I could knit one hell of a sweater for $360." Anybody else translate expenses into yarn? I try not to, because it's depressing (the electric bill, every month, would buy me some NICE yarn), but I still find myself thinking two perscriptions = a silk jacket.


Called the doctor, she's on leave, got some other yahoo I've never met, yadda yadda. Bottom line, we're doing another round of the SAME DRUG. I pointed out that it didn't work last time, so why do it again? Oh, but it did work, they claim; the shingles were gone for A WHOLE FUCKING WEEK. Yeah, right. So this drug works about as well as my government. VERY comforting. This is two rounds of shingles, now, and I've yet to actually SEE a doctor. They just call in perscriptions.

The shingles have moved (they always do) and now they're on my hands. When I knit, the yarn makes my hands itch. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, I tell you.

This concludes today's rant. Tune in later and I might have something coeherent, intelligent, and maybe not even profane to say about knitting (I've been working on the scarf in fits of annoyance).

Oh, bugger.

The shingles are back.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quick update.

The husbeast came home and tried on the sweater.

After I got done spazzing out, I got a measuring tape, did some checking, and realized the husbeast is FOUR INCHES (about 9cm) wider through the shoulders than his dad is. (So much for that 'about the same size' theory.) With that in mind, it fits okay, except I do have to do more work on the neck with the back-and-forth stuff at the back to raise it up. Way too low back there right now.


Steek it.

Steek it good.

Today was steek-cutting day, since I finished the shoulder straps last evening, late. Then this evening I fit it to the husbeast, figure out what I'm doing with the neck, and after that it's just button bands and finishing. It may actually get done by Friday (now that I've said that, something disastrous is going to happen and it will take six weeks to finish the button band, I should know better).

Anyway, I used the crocheted steek (discussed in "Sweaters from Camp" and "Meg Swanson's Knitting", both by Meg Swanson. There is a variation on it in "Color" by Sally Melville). First thing you do is knit a checkerboarded steek. You only need three stitches for it, which is a major improvemenet over the machine-stitched steek because I can't sew a straight line and need at least seven stitches, or nine, to machine stitch one. Plus I don't have to drag out the sewing machine. And a crocheted steek has a little more stretch to it.

Sooooo, all you really do is use single-stitch crochet and work two columns of stitches together, making sure to get one stitch of each color, each time.

Unfortunately the damn photo came out blurry... this camera can't do closeups. I've yet to take a single one that looks good.

Anyway, after you chain-stitch both sides of the steek, you carefully cut the little cross-bars of yarn left between the chains:

Go get one of the books and read, then look at the pictures. It will make sense. I promise.

Anyway, once everything was cut, I laid out the jacket, and it looks good! Yay!

At this stage, the decrease method calls for more back-and-forth, like a giant shoulder strap, at the back of the neck to raise it up. But I'm wondering if a nice wide collar/button band would do the trick (this is the part that turned out wonky, the last time I did this decrease method). That's the decision that gets made tonight when the husbeast tries it on.

And now, the blue scarf. Yipee. And then the purple one. And then...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A quick word on shoulder straps.


That is the word. They suck. Suck suck suck.

They are worked flat, back and forth, knitting in stitches from each side as you go. That means every 18 stitches I have to turn the whole bloody jacket, which probably weighs ten pounds.


Starting to look pretty good, though.

Photo session.

I went a little crazy with the camera yesterday and today, so now you're all stuck looking at the photos.

First, I bring you the very cool technique known as the Spit Splice:

Start with two balls of Lopi (only works with Icelandic singles, far as I know) that you want to join, and slightly fray the ends that you want to join together.

Wrap the frayed ends around each other as evenly as possible, lick the palms of your hands (okay, ick, but it works) and rub the ends between your hands, back and forth. You wind up with a whole strand of yarn:

I swear that's a photo of the join and not a fresh piece of yarn. Wipe your hands on your jeans, and keep knitting.

Very cool.

Sekhmet the cat is angry about being grounded from the internet and is equally irritated about how there is never room on my lap to lay since I started knitting this jacket.

In revenge, she has decided to MAKE space for herself, and possibly do some yarn chewing for her own entertainment, since she can't get to any of her catnip porn web sites.

I have finished the jog-toward-the-neckline portion of this saddle shoulder:

So far it's looking good, better than the raglan decreasing would have, but I'm starting to worry about final fit. The good news is, this is for my father-in-law and he and the husbeast are much the same size, so I can just fit it to the hub and not worry. Unfortunately, I've only done this shoulder decreasing once before and it turned out weird. So the jury's still out.

Anyway, now I've got to work the shoulder strap, which I have shortened to almost a square shape, by lengthening the jog-toward-the-neck portion of the decreasing. If that made sense.

I'm now going to research exactly how to do shoulder straps, because like I said, I've only done this once before and it was not the most glowingly perfect thing I've ever knit when it was done (it looked like ass). Here's hoping I don't have to rip out and re-knit THAT, too. You know, I just wanted to knit a simple lopi jacket for a Christmas present, and it's somehow morphed into complete technique insanity. How does this always happen?

Monday, July 10, 2006


It is a small, folded up baby blanket, upon the silk throw I must never touch! Must... smash... myself... onto it... YAY! Cat hairs for everyone!

P.S. Julie will be back tomorrow. Right now she's huddled over this red and brown thing, muttering about sideways decreases.

Don't tell her I used the computer.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I have returned.

From where I ended. Or re-started. Or ripped. Or something.

I knit up all the unraveled yarn again, and so I guess I'm back to where I was when I started ripping Friday afternoon. That's only two days of knitting, shot. Could be worse, I suppose. As you can see in the photo above, the sleeve is now joining the body at an anatomically correct angle (the same angle as the raglan, actually, it's just the line of decreasing that's different). Instead of running diagonally across the pattern on both body and sleeve, the decreasing is runing in a straight vertical line on the body, and I put it along one of the lines established by the pattern. Eventually the line of the decreasing will jog to the left toward the neck for a bit, and then turn into a horizontal line as one pattern reapeat is worked as a shoulder strap. I have no idea how it's going to turn out, but it already looks better than the raglan decreasing did, so I'm going to dig in and go for it. (Not that I had any other options that I was aware of, other than unraveling it back to the hems and starting over.) Those stitch holders sticking out are at the armpit. They still need grafted together.

I realized today that I've been working on this jacket for a month now. I wanted to have it done and be on to swatching for something else, so I'm pushing aside all the other projects staring at me right now, and working on this until it's done. Which I want to be by Friday.

I won't hold my breath.