Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nothing much to say.

But there were some dye questions in the comments, so here you go:

For yarn sources, keep an eye out for sources. has some nice stuff for reasonable prices; local stores run specials all the time. When I started my experiments I used Paton's Merino. Superwash gives you a slight advantage, in that you don't have to worry about felting it, but it's not that big a deal. Buy what's cheap and go for it. (You of course need to use animal fibers or silk, for the food coloring to stick properly.)

For temperature, I usually set my roaster at 250 F and boil the yarn for a bit. If you're using superwash, it doesn't matter how fast it heats up; if it's NOT superwash, raise the temp slowly over a half an hour or so, to avoid felting or shrinking. Keep the yarn in that heat zone for at least ten minutes, if you want it to be colorfast. Oh - and if you are using silk, don't heat it over 180 F; it ruins the sheen and makes the fiber fragile and brittle.

As for creating tweed yarn, well, that's really a result of the spinning process, so nothing you do with dye is going to create a tweed. However, if you get a yarn spun from different fibers that take up the dye differently, you can get a slightly tweedy, marled effect. Wool/cotton blend is very dramatic, because the cotton doesn't take up the dye hardly at all. Silk/wool blends are very nice, as is cashmere/wool, and alpaca/wool. They all take up dye differently and they all look different when dyed in the skein. ( also has lots of nice wool blends for reasonable prices.)

That's it here. I managed to avoid working on the Mystery Knit all day. And I've ALREADY altered my next-sweater plans; not "Tut Tut", but something else based on Chinese ceramics. Not only can I sell the pattern, I can submit the sweater itself to the state fair. (Yes. I'm a glutton for punishment.) I will get a blue ribbon out of them before I move. Or else.

I think June will be the month for the Humongous Bendigo Order. The husbeast has already been warned. (He's all for it - part of the order is his Christmas present, and I told him so.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Brilliance and inspiration.

The Public Broadcasting System here in the US is running a three-part series called "Craft in America". Six hours, total; the hour I caught contained basket making, weaving, jewelry making (twice), glassmaking, sculpting, pottery, and probably five other things I'm forgetting. Quilting. There was quilting, too. It's a very low-key tour of the art of craft in America - these folks are producing art from a host of materials from gold to birch bark to wool to sand. It's the kind of thing I love, because that's how I feel about art - it's not some painting on a wall (though it can be); it's ANYTHING that someone has spent time and care and creativity creating.

Wonderful stuff. Amazing. Part two is next Wednesday night. And there's a gallery of the work shown on the show here. Try not to shriek at the sight of the kimono:

What was I doing during this wondrous tour of creativity? Pulling a sleeve back out of the Mystery Knit. Oh yeah. Lest you think I know what I'm doing, I'll confess the horrible truth; when creating clothing that must be sewn together, I usually put the sleeves in three or four times before I get it right. (I recounted the stitches after I pulled the sleeve out. I had the numbers right the first time. No idea why it didn't work. I really prefer having some idea what I screwed up.) The horrible truth is out; I have to figure this stuff out as I go, too. Oh, the shame.

Can't wait to start something new. "Tut, Tut" is up next.

In the midst of all that fun, I went out today and joined a gym. I'm not going to turn this into a weight loss blog, but suffice it to say, the feeding frenzy after I had The Baby, followed by a year of antidepressants, was not kind to my butt. I wanna lose thirty pounds. (Okay, forty, but I'm trying to be realistic, and thirty would make me happy.) I'm hoping that not only will my boobs shrink and my clothes fit, I might get to quit the blood pressure medication and my feet and knees will quit hurting. Wouldn't that be nice?

So that's what I'm doing.

Maybe tomorrow this sleeve will go in right.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hey, Charleston residents.

Anyone interested in modeling the Mystery Knit, and thereby (assuming it gets accepted) being immortalized in Knitty forever? You'd need to be size anything-up-to-about-large, and willing to take an afternoon next weekend driving around Charleston doing the photo shoot. (If you have any suggestions on location, I'd love to hear it, but I'm thinking beach, and maybe downtown on the Battery for the dramatic possibly-cover photo.) I'll be happy to meet you somewhere and do the driving. Anyone? Terby? Anyone? E-mail me, or drop me a comment with a way to get in touch with you, or something. Terby?

It also appears that I may be an overachiever for the next issue of Knitty. The lace article that was supposed to be in the summer issue (the one coming out next week) got turned down due to sucky photography. (No, Amy did not use those precise words.) I suppose it was only a matter of time. I'm invited to re-submit with new photos, but I honestly don't know if I'll be able to get a new camera AND get the photos retaken by June 15. In fact, I'm pretty sure not. (The problem in this case truly is the camera. Honestly. It's at least ten years old and has never done closeups well. Not a good thing when discussing lace.) So, I don't know what I'm doing. Tearing my hair out, that's what.

In other business (I guess), I updated the Etsy shop with the new dip-dyes.

The Baby appears to be turning into a smartass before my very eyes. (No idea where this came from. None. Ha. Really. Haha.) Last week I told her to get out of my office, and she pretended to walk in place. Like I wouldn't notice that she wasn't moving. Then the other night I told her to quit playing with the floor lamp, and she gave me this LOOK, and moved her mouth at me without making any sound. The husbeast about choked, trying not to laugh. (Because you know if you laugh at them, they never quit doing it.)

In my usual avoidance behavior, faced with sewing up the Mystery Knit, I have suddenly decided that I desperately want to finish knitting the Steeked Jacket. Which is proof positive that my brain needs a serious smacking around.

I'll have both these projects done soon, and then I'm moving on to a new project, an original design, that involes BUYING YARN. Ooooh, the excitement.

The husbeast just walked in the house with a dozen Dunkin' Donuts. That rat bastard.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sometimes I purely hate yarn.

Times like this.

I spent the last day of my vacation (such as it was), winding up all the dyed yarn that's been sitting around, awaiting attention. Including the thirty-foot (ten meter) skein that I've been avoiding for the last three weeks. That's it above, draped over the back of my couch. I'm going to call it 'Circus'. It should stripe nicely, in an assortment of crazy colors. You can see better on the skein.

I also wound up the blue ripple:

Hopefully I'll have 'em posted on Etsy within the next 24 hours. (Maybe sooner!)

Yesterday I took photos on the way to the beach yesterday... when I'm a little more on the ball, I'll deliver another history/geography lesson, this one about the barrier islands. Until I get to that, here are some beach photos:

Oh. And I'm still sewing together the Mystery Knit. Have I mentioned I hate finishing?

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The beauty of the Mystery Knit is, the Last Bit can be done in a varying size, so as to use up every last scrap of yarn you've got. I'm putting together the rest of the thingie, so I'm sure I won't need any more for anything else, then I'm knitting up every last inch of yarn I've got. Very economical.

So, with that in mind, I've been scouring the Knitty archives (specifically the Techniques With Theresa column) to see if they've already done all the finishing techniques I'm using, so as to save me a whole lot of grief. I want to refrence her articles instead of having to write my own. Imagine my amazement, then, when I realized she'd done an article on the half-graft join (she calls it 'invisible horizontal to vertical join'). I use it all the time, but I don't know anyone else who does. But at least now I can just say "half-graft X to Y" instead of having to take ten million photos and explain it myself. You can also half-graft hems, and I'll show you how when we get there on the Steeked Jacket.

I assume, when you guys buy patterns, that you want a discussion of what finishing techniques were used, and HOW, instead of the usual "sew up the sweater" that most commercial patterns often print. So I intend to say what finishing methods I used where, but I'm SO glad I can put in links instead of writing a novel. (This will also make my life easier when I start selling patterns in PDF file form. Hopefully by the end of the year.)

So, anyway, I've spent the day knitting and jotting down finishing technique notes. I'll probably spend the evening doing the half-graft thing. Yay. (I hate finishing, and finishing hates me, but I hate sloppy-looking sweaters worse. If I spent a million hours knitting the damn thing, there is no way I'm going to put a crappy seam in it and blow the whole thing.)

Oh, and summer is here.

Tomorrow, the beach.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Starting the Last Bit.

I finished up the Main Bit right before lunch, so I laid it on the table next to my chair and went off into the kitchen to fix lunch for The Baby. A few minutes later, she came out to see me in the dining room, having put on the Main Bit so that I could see how it looked.

If I am ever called upon in a court of law, to prove I love my kid, I will use these photos. Instead of screaming and jerking the thing away from her, I took pictures. We can also use the photos to prove I'm insane.

We'll know soon about the yarn issue.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Comfort knitting and a dye question.

As of tonight, it's looking possible that the design for the Mystery Knit will get submitted. But thanks to the suggestions yesterday, I think my NEXT Knitty submission will be an article on how to do design (and how to copy sweaters you already own and like the fit of). However, I also had some other requests for info that I thought I'd answer here.

First, comfort knitting. Sheepish Annie's going to be putting in some serious couch time, due to an icky round of pneumonia. (Having done my share of pneumonia, my only, lame, advice, is to get lots of sleep.) Anyway, she wondered if we had suggestions on what to knit while she's doing time. I'd say, it depends on how sick you are and how good your concentration is. (When I'm sick, my knitting goes all to hell.) If you're planning on being sick for a while, something big is good. An afghan is nice, you can snuggle under it as you go, and you can choose the pattern by how good your brain's working -- garter stitch if you're delierious, or some kind of cable or lace if you can actually concentrate. Lots of people knit socks as comfort knitting, and those work great too - they're small but you can knit a million of them and have a use for every last one. (Wear 'em mismatched if you have to.) When sick I go for something simple (like the Mystery Knit, now), and when I'm really stressed I embark on complex, epic projects that take a lot of time and attention to keep me from thinking about whatever I'm stressed about. Usually this translates to big, complex doilies on small needles with crochet cotton, but if I'm ever in a situation like that again, I'm considering doing a Shetland Shawl.

So, anyway, food for thought, for Annie. Anyone with any thoughts, leave 'em, or pop over to her blog and leave thoughts there. Or both. I'm curious about what other people think is comfort knitting.

There was also a dye question, namely, should a person practice on the good yarn they plan to finally use, or should they learn on cheap stuff and work up? I'd say this one depends on what you're doing. If it's a general feel for the process, go for the cheap stuff. If you're trying to get an exact color, or perfect a more complicated dye process like dip-dyes, use whatever yarn you intend to dye for the final project. If you're trying to find a cheap substitute, the most important thing (I think) is to match fiber type. If your final deal will be wool, practice on wool. If it's alpaca, practice on alpaca. IF IT IS SUPERWASH, PRACTICE ON SUPERWASH. I continue to boggle, even now, at the difference in superwash and regular wool, when it comes to dye uptake. (Does this make sense? I'm drugged.)

The suspense continues on the Mystery Knit. The one slight silver lining is, I'm knitting off both ends of the ball of yarn and the husbeast is impressed as hell with my cleverness. (We don't need to tell him that's a pretty traditional thing and not my original, idea, okay.) I've got about two inches to go before I get to the shoulder bindoff. Still no idea if there's enough yarn.

I hate suspense.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I have a bad feeling.

In fact, I've got several bad feelings, but the primary source of worry at the moment is the Mystery Knit. If you recall, there was some worry about whether or not I would have enough yarn.

It's looking like not.

Long story short, there's a Last Bit that needs to be knit that's got a lot to do with the styling and use of the thing. And I was hoping to have a full skein of yarn to knit the Last Bit with. I'm still a few (five?) inches away from the shoulders, on the body, and just joined in the last ball of yarn I have. No more yarn left. I can, of course, use another, different yarn for the Last Bit, and fully intend to if I run out. (Because this is something I want to wear, matter of fact.) But it will look like shit.

No Knitty submission if I run out of yarn. (But I will offer the pattern, in several sizes, here, if that happens.)

Anybody got an idea for a Knitty article? It would be for the fall issue. (I was thinking of suggestions on how to make knitting warm. Because super-bulky knitting isn't really that warm by itself, due to the honkin' big holes between the stitches.)

We'll know in the next day or two, just how bad the yarn issue is. And I'm sure you'll hear about it when I know. In great detail. Ad nauseum.

Otherwise the bad feelings here revolve around PMS, a migrane, more drug problems, more allergies, the usual bullshit. It's getting so I feel ridiculous even mentioning it. I'm hoping my next problem involves piles of free yarn. Or, I don't know, a cruise to Alaska. Free yarn is a problem, right? Maybe?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tweaking patterns.

Since there's nothing new to report here (the baby is still ornery, I'm still working on the Mystery Knit), I thought I'd discuss a subject that came up in the comments yesterday. Namely, making sweaters flattering when you've got an actual figure.

It really doesn't matter, for the most part, if your boobies are bigger or your backside is bigger, or if they're both big. The point is, if you're built like a female, most traditionally shaped sweaters fit like sacks. Because, really, they aren't shaped.

The easiest way to deal with that, is to put in some waist shaping. Even pulling in the waist an inch, and then expanding it back out, is enough to make you look like there's a figure in there. It doesn't even count as fitting the sweater - with that small bit of shaping, considering knitting stretches, you don't have to sweat the exact fit much at all. Just decrease a couple stitches at each side seam, knit straight for an inch or so, then increase back to the original cast-on.

For instance: say you're casting on 100 stitches for the front of a sweater, at 5 stitches to the inch. Cast on, knit about an inch, decrease a stitch at each side, knit another inch, decrease another inch at each side, knit another inch, decrease another inch at each side. You've now decreased the FRONT of the sweater a half inch at each side. Knit an inch or so plain, then reverse the shaping; increase a stitch at each side, knit an inch... until you're back to your original stitch count. Do the same on the back, and you'll have taken in your sweater two inches at the waist, and emphasised boobs and backside and waist quite efficiently. (This is assuming it's a pattern that's knit straight up from cast-on to arm pits, before you tweaked it.) Easy to do, and makes a big difference.

Even easier (if you've got a feel for it), is to substitute yarns. If it's something like wool to start with, replace the pure wool with something that's got more drape to it; an alpaca-wool blend if you need something warm, or a cotton-wool blend for something cooler. The sweater may hang a bit lower, but it will drape over your figure more, showing the fact that you HAVE a figure. It's always easy to knock an inch off the hem if you have to. (Keep in mind that if the sweater has a low neckline to begin with, the yarn substitution will make the sweater hang MUCH lower than you indended - this works best for crew necks or high scoop necks.)

Of course, the easiest thing of all to do is not re-invent the wheel, but to choose a sweater pattern with waist shaping in the first place. White Lies Designs is the best place I know of, on line, to get these types of patterns; the designer is a plus-sized lady herself, and knows all about showing off her waist. You are guaranteed to look like a girl in her designs.

Big Girl Knits, the book by Amy Singer and Jillian Moreno, is also a great source. Even if you aren't particularly big, it's got a lot of great information about choosing patterns that are flattering for you, and altering existing patterns so you look better in them (not just adding a waist, but bust darts and short-row shaping, as well). If I had more time (my life's motto) to knit stuff for myself, I'd have done five or six of the designs out of the book for myself; many of them are flattering to ANY woman with a curvy figure, plus size or not.

Design books are also very good for learning about waist shaping and bust darts; there are a lot of complex ways to do them, and I've only described the most rudimentary system here. "Designing Knitwear" by Deborah Newton is an excellent book, and lately I've been reading up on sewing patterns; clothing is clothing. (Okay, you have to allow for the stretch of knit fabric, but many people SEW knits.)

I'd say the biggest thing is to quit thinking traditional knits, and start looking at the newer knitwear styles; not automatically the stuff that will only be in style for a season, but classic, fitted styles you can wear for years.

Monday, May 21, 2007

One suckin' Monday.

Another Monday, spent chasing the kid, gagging from medication, and knitting on the Mystery Knit. Since I don't have jack to discuss (unless you want my commentary on the current plot twist of Star Trek: Enterprise reruns?), I'm mining the comments for something to write about.

There was a question about me using straight needles for this project. Yes, I'm using them. Don't like to, but they're what's best for the current deal. I'm knitting the front and back of the Mystery Knit at the same time, and when using a circular it's easy to stop in the middle of a row and get lost, not knowing if you're supposed to knit on the next piece along, or turn around and knit back the other way. (Think about it.) So I'm ticking along. When my hands bother me, I prop up the needles on pillows. Whatever works. But generally, yeah, I prefer circulars (unless I'm knitting two things at once).

Art Deco... I like Art Deco. I see it all as one big conglomeration, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, all of it's a variation on a theme. The Chrysler Building is my favorite office building, ever. Hahaha. I bet you liked the Elvish stuff in Lord of the Rings, huh? They openly admitted ripping off this era for ideas. But I don't like William Morris. Sorry. I'm more about Lalique and Tiffany and Schiaparelli and Frank Lloyd Wright and Vionnet.

Sekhmet and the Baby seem to coexist peacefully. For the most part. Occasionally the Baby wants to play the drums on Sekhmet's head, and Sekhmet smacks her hands. It goes back and forth. But considering the cat has all her claws, I think they do okay. (My big fear when I was pregnant, was that the cat would see the baby as an outsider and attack, and I'd have to put the cat down. I'm very glad the cat chooses to ignore her instead.)

I'm thinking of doing 8" (18cm? ish?) increments on the Mystery Knit pattern instead of ten inches, just because it fits in better with the sizing system preferred by Knitty. But thanks for the feedback on the larger sizes; yes, the pattern will go up to AT LEAST sixty inches. My sympathy toward larger sizes is due to my post-pregnancy weight gain. According to the government, I'm a normal weight, but according to my knees and feet, I weigh WAY too much. And I've got boobs the size of torpedos. So yeah, I know the pain of seeing a pattern I love and being unable to knit it. (Vogue Knitting claims a size large is a 38" bust. KISS MY ASS, VK!!) As much as I'm able, I'll avoid causing that pain in others. (And if anyone ever needs pattern support for REALLY small or large sizes, feel free to e-mail me.)

Anyway... I'm going to go drink a gallon of milk now, to try and counteract the acid stomach I get, from taking all these stupid medications.
Oh. And the baby got a new "I do all my own stunts" tee shirt. Bigger.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mmm, lasagna.

Feeling much better.

Now that I've slept for a couple days. Toward the end of the week, I had gone about three days without REM sleep (the deep sleep your brain really needs to function) and was quite a mess. I spent most of yesterday and today asleep or napping (just woke up from a nap) and now feel pretty good except for one thing --

The Mystery Knit is due June 15. That's less than a month away. That sounds like a lot of time, but I've got to write a pattern (which I suck at) and take pretty photos of it (which I also suck at). So I'm a little freaked out.

The knitting itself is going well enough -- I've got about one inch left before I hit the armpits and decrease a bunch of stitches. After that it'll go pretty fast. Once that's over, there's just one piece left to knit.

So here I sit, typing about it instead of knitting, in a semi-conscious state, with the husbeast watching car races and the baby napping in her room.

Yesterday I mailed out the doily to it's new owner, along with some other stuff. (Louiz, I FINALLY got your yarn in the mail -- the good news is, I kept feeling bad about not mailing it sooner, and would add other stuff to the package.)

The other day, The Baby and Sekhmet had a moment - The Baby had scared the shit out of Sekhmet, and Sekhmet replied by smacking The Baby's hand. It's been a while since I trimmed the cat's claws, and judging from The Baby's reaction, Sekhmet scratched her (though later when I looked I couldn't find a mark.) At any rate, The Baby's method of dealing with this, instead of being wary of the cat, is to desperately try to make friends. That means following the cat around and petting her. (Petting means scrubbing your hand around in her fur, because you're two and don't understand the idea of fur being rubbed the wrong way.) All this love has gotten to the cat, and lately she's been spending a lot of time like this:

Poor cat. She's gonna be loved to death.

Now that I'm feeling better, the first thing I did (yesterday) was go out and buy books I didn't need. I got a good book on the history of Charleston by Robert Rosen (I'm half-heartedly plotting a novel set in Charleston - we'll see if I have the time to write it), and a book on the Arts & Crafts movement starting in the 1880'2'-1890's. It's kind of strange, reading the opinions of people who lived over a century ago, expressing the same exact opinion you hold yourself. (Art is not confined to paintings and statuary, but can be ANYTHING, given enough care, originality, and skill.) Lots of William Morris prints, some Stickley furniture, and Frank Lloyd Wright stuff. It existed at the same time as the Art Nouveau movement (my favorite) and there's a lot of overlap. Good stuff.

Otherwise, I'm still pretty much a zombie, finally able to sleep now that I've gotten these painkillers. I think I'm gonna start dinner and go back to bed.

Sure hope I finish this Mystery Knit.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things are looking up.

I did have to - sort of - pull a Bitch From Hell routine this morning, but I did finally get my perscription refills out of the doctor's office. The guy at the desk who helped me (receptionist type, though they aren't called that on Air Force bases), was quite polite and totally uninvolved in the four unanswered phone calls, so I was polite right back to him (if I'm gonna bite someone's face off, it will be the person responsible, damn it). But I was also open about the fact I was enraged. At one point I said calmly "I don't want to be a bitch to you about this, but I've been calling here for a week without so much as a returned phone call. I'm not leaving today until I get these perscriptions. If this doesn't work, it's the CO's office next." (CO meaning commanding officer. CO's hate when their staff is so incompetent that the civilians get pissed off and come to complain.) And he blinked a couple times and said "Right." I have a feeling he went back and hounded the nurses, because things happened pretty quickly.

Military bases are funny places. In many ways it's a giant rule-fest, of course; all that rank, uniforms, sir and ma'am stuff. But in other ways, it's kind of like a giant extended family. Because many of the men are away from their families so much, they tend to spend what time they DO have very involved with their children. Which means on a military base you've got great odds of running into men who have a clue about children's needs and behavior. (The husbeast has come home with all kinds of hilarious parenting tips like what diaper rash ointment is best. I would give a ball of silk yarn to be able to watch these guys sharing baby-butt help over the coffee in the morning.) While I was waiting in line this morning, one window was open and one was closed. A guy in uniform passing by looked at me, smiled, then went over to the empty window and yelled in 'HEY! THERE'S A LADY WITH A KID OUT HERE WHO NEEDS SOME HELP!' then he wished me a nice day and disappeared. Someone materialized in the empty window almost instantly.

Always a surreal experience. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always surreal.

So after a little more crap, I have my perscriptions. I think from now on I'm going to skip the freaking phone calls altogether and just go over. If they don't like it, I'll remind them of this clusterfuck.

Anyway. Real news. I've been working on the Mystery Knit, kind of. My concentration hasn't been the greatest due to the pain control thing. But when I could sit still, I knit on it. Unfortunately, the evil stinkbeast (formerly known as Sekhmet) has discovered that alpaca is soft and warm:

"MMmmmmm. Alpaca."

I'm trying for some project monogamy to get this thing done; if I want to submit it to Knitty, it's got to be done, pattern written, and photos done by June 15. That's not too far away.

And speaking of patterns, for something designed to be loose and casual, what kind of sizing do you think is appropriate? I was thinking of going every ten inches of chest measurement - 34"/86cm, 44"/112cm, 54"/138cm, 64"/162cm - Or do you want the usual every four inches/ten cm sizing method that's commonly used for more fitted knitwear? Let me know, pleeeeaaaase?

The Baby's zone-out was probably due to a growth spurt; there seemed to be some concern in the comments. The husbeast and I both had major growth spurts, instead of steady growth (the nine months I was in eighth grade - age 12ish - I grew seven inches and my legs never quit hurting the whole time). The Baby seems to be doing the same thing; for a few days she'll be lethargic and cranky, then suddenly overnight she's a size larger and she eats everything that's not red hot or nailed down. And she'll often do two or three of them in a row. She outgrew all her 2T (two-year-old) clothes last week, so she might have another spurt or two in her. Sometimes when she's really whiney, I give her Tylenol; I remember how my legs hurt during growth spurts and I wonder if she's got the same thing. I hope to hell she learns to talk soon so she can TELL me her legs hurt. Or whatever.

So, anyway, I went out to Target yesterday and bought her a bunch of new clothes that fit, including some loose dresses. Loose dresses are my favorite way to dress in hot weather.

She was shrieking and laughing when I took the photo, which is why she looks so goofy. I kept running away from her so I'd be far enough away to get a photo, and she'd run after me, thinking it was a game. We chased each other around the living room for quite a while. Baby giggles are a good thing.

One last thing -- product endorsement. I've been letting The Baby color with Crayola Markers, and even though they're billed as 'washable', I didn't automatically believe it. But this stuff is awesome for cleanup on skin. The Baby colors herself all up with these things, and I just get some baby wipes (the pre-moistened things they sell for diaper changes which we use to clean up everything). The marker comes right off with the baby wipes, no real scrubbing or anything. Rub a couple times and it's gone. Love 'em.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Photos, then.

There were some requests for photos of the damn doily, showing more detail. So here you go. This is a closer, better-contrasting view of half the doily so you can see the pattern layout:

And here's a closeup shot of one of the edge scallops that's almost in focus:

Aaaand here's a closer view of the center pattern detail:

You'll notice, from the closeups, that most of the doily is just stockinette with some yarnovers thrown in. That's the main reason it knit up so fast; not a coincidence. I'm rather disgusted with myself that it took almost as long to crochet the edging as it did to knit the whole doily. That's some pitiful crochet skill, even by my standards.

The Baby is zoned today; no idea why she's so tired, but we went to the store and she whined the entire time (except for when she was actively boo-hooing). Most of the morning was spent imitating her father by laying in the recliner watching TV.

The husbeast doesn't let his belly hang out like that, though. (And if it did, it wouldn't be nearly so cute.)

Sekhmet has gotten stoned again.

She scrubs the catnip mouse over her face like a washcloth. Very fun to watch.

Still no call from the doctor's office. I called the pharmacy earlier today (what you have to go through to get someone with a pulse on the phone is ridiculous) on the off chance a perscription had been called in and I wasn't told. Nope. Nothing. The idea of spending the morning sitting in the waiting room over this doesn't improve my mood a damn bit.

The rant.

I've been resisting a post on this, because there's some line between total privacy and posting everything in the world on my blog, and I'm still not quite sure where that line is. But damn it, I'm furious.

I'm totally out of all my pain medication.

Last week, on Friday, I called and left a voice mail at my doctor's office saying I needed a couple refills, and left all the information they needed PLUS MY PHONE NUMBER. I haven't heard a word. They claim they need 72 hours to process a call (72 hours for two bloody perscriptions?) so I waited. And waited. No perscriptions, no call. I called again Wednesday morning. Still haven't heard anything. And if I call the pharmacy to see if they have any perscriptions in my name? No answer.

After not sleeping last night (because I was in pain), I called again at seven this morning and left MORE messages, on both the nurse and doctor's voice mails. It is now ten, three hours later, and not so much as a quick call to tell me they're working on it.

My choices when it comes to medical care is the Air Force Base (which I'm dealing with right now), the Navy Base (half an hour away and I'll bet no better), or paying a $500 yearly deductable see a civilian doctor when there's military medical allegedly available. (At least, the deductable was $500 when I checked on this, years ago. I wouldn't be shocked to know it's higher now.)

I am going to wind up having to go over to the base tomorrow, WITH THE BABY, and sit in the waiting room and force someone to find time to deal with me. And they'll be irritated with me for forcing the issue (this is considered really rude in military circles -- do I have a choice?) All because these assholes can't get their voice mail. Time for another letter to the CO.

But none of it's fixing the fact that I'm in pain and haven't slept in two days.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well, that's done.

It's more diamond shaped than oval, but damn if I'm blocking it again.

The pattern is "Oval Doily, picture number four" on page 18, found in "Patterns for the Art of Lace Knitting, the complete works of Rachel Schnelling" compiled by Gloria Penning. The patterns can be purchased here; the book may hold a record for the most doily patterns crammed into the smallest space possible, but all the patters are chart only. The charts are also rather obnoxious because they were noted down in text characters instead of stitch symbols -- I for yarnover, T for knit two together, K for a knit stitch, etc. Still, if you're looking for a bargain in lace patterns, this book is it.

I knit the doily with size two (three millimeter? I think?) needles and number ten crochet cotton, then washed it and wet-starched it before blocking. The crochet hook I used for the edging was a size B - the only one I could find in the house remotely small enough.

The baby has definitely entered into the terrible two stage (four months early!); instead of being a good kid who listens to me, she's now ignoring me in favor of getting into things. Things like scissors, needles, and sharp pointy sticks. Her other favorite thing is to get my glasses and try to straighten out the ear pieces. My throat is sore from yelling at her today, and she barely blinked at me. (Yes. I get that I need to try something else, because the yelling isn't working. I'm working on it. But the yelling is darn handy for blowing off frustration, since it apparently doesn't bother her a bit.)

Nothing but good times ahead.

Anyone want to go grocery shopping for me? I'll give you yarn.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So, Charleston.

I've been trying to figure out how to post these photos without turning it into a history lesson, but I can't, so to hell with it, we'll have a history lesson. (You're more than welcome to scroll through without reading, of course.) I'm using the medium setting for these photos, but as always you can click to make them larger.

First, the obvious: Where we're talking about.

(Image from Google Earth.)

See the little red circle, under the Charleston label, at the very end of the peninusla? Kinda? (Well, if you click on the photo it's more obvious.) That's Battery Park, so named because they had artillery batteries there during the Civil War (1860-1865). And it's where I parked my Jeep Sunday for my walk-around, so you can get a feel for where these photos were taken. ALLLL the way at the top of the pic is North Charleston. That's where I live. It's like a giant truck stop on the way to Charleston, but affordable. The small river that goes up the left side of the Charleston peninusla is the Ashley River, and I live near it. The larger river (that forks) on the right side of the peninsula is the Cooper River. The husbeast works on the Cooper River. If you look almost directly to the right of Charleston, on the photo, you will find Sullivan's Island, location of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. (Some people living down here are still proud of that. I'm sure you all know how I feel about that.) You can also see now, why I'm so thrilled at the idea of hurricane season. Charleston regularly (about every sixty years) gets nailed with a hurricane and has to be rebuilt; we're overdue for another major hit. The house I live in has a new roof that was put on in '91 after the last hit.

The drive into the historic district of Charleston is pretty easy; it's a straight shot down I-26, then when it ends, you keep going on Meeting Street until it dead ends at Battery Park. At first it all looks rather normal, except for the church steeples in the distance. (There ARE church steeples in the distance on that photo, taken out the windshield of the Jeep at a stop light; I swear.) Then the odd historic building pops up between the gas stations and the parking lots.

The pink building is now an inn. (Check out the wrought iron balcony.) No idea on the brown building.

When I got to Battery Park, I found a space along the water. The road looked like this:

Facing one way, I could see out across the harbor to the Atlantic, and facing the other way, I could see Battery Park proper.

Charleston was founded in 1670, across the Ashley river on the actual mainland. It moved over to the peninsula soon after, but due to lousy building techniques (early buildings were wood or sod, thrown up as fast as possible to protect settlers) and a series of fires, earth quakes, and hurricanes, most of the buildings in this area date to the 1800's or later. Most of the buildings I've taken photos of date from between 1800 and 1820; there was a boom during that time, and people got rich growing rice and cotton in the surrounding marshes. (Charleston was not damaged much during the Civil War or the following reconstruction. This blows my mind, because it was the place the Civil War started. The next large city further south on this coast - Savannah, Georgia - was wiped out - burned to the ground, on purpose, by the Northern armies as they moved through securing the area. Why Charleston was left standing is a mystery to me.)

Several of the larger houses surrounding Battery Park have been turned into inns.

But a lot of the houses are still privately owned. For something right on the water (there's a breakwater right beside the street - no beach, just a water view) it will run you a couple million dollars. And you better have another million for upkeep. At least. These places are money pits.

Quite a few of the old carriage houses have been turned into darling little cottages, back behind the main house in shady gardens. This one's my favorite.

What really makes the historic district, though, is the detail. Like the old-fashioned version of pavement here in the Low Country - crushed oyster shells for sidewalks.

And the wrought iron - look closely and you can see some fancy boot-scrapers next to the stoop, and a curlicue to hold the shutter, in the brick wall of the house:

And fancy tiles set in the garden walks:

And of course there's the smell.

Dead fish, all over the historic district.


Monday, May 14, 2007

All over but the bindoff.

I finished it up around one o'clock today (The Baby got a late lunch), and have been wearily crocheting around the edge ever since. (If you've gotten the idea I hate crochet around here, it's true, I do. Not because of some silly philosophical questions, but because I suck at it. If you DO crochet, I don't sneer. Mostly I envy you quietly.) Anyway, I hope to have this sucker blocked by tomorrow. In an oval. Non-knitters (like the future owner) are impressed as hell by ovals. Knitters, on the other hand, go "Oh, starch."

What else is happening, you ask? (I assume you asked?)

Cinnamon twist yarn. Two skeins. I wound it up today. It tangled like a motherfucker. We won't discuss it further. (An Etsy update will be happening toward the end of the week after I wind up the blueberry ripple and the babycakes skeins.) And what shape is that yarn in? Is that a wombat?

Here, the cat says "Mmmmm, blankies."

Otherwise, I'm still brooding over how I'm going to post the Charleston photos, and I'm warming up to a major rant. Maybe I'll find the energy to do it tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Not done.

I thought I'd settle that question, right off.

Today, I blew off most of the day by first sleeping late, then taking the afternoon for myself. I went for a drive to downtown Charleston's historic district and walked around for a while. For once I remembered the camera, and took a bunch of photos (filled the data card). I'll do a real post about it tomorrow, but here's a teaser:

Calhoun House. One of the largest (for most of it's history, THE largest) private home in Charleston. It's now a museum (which in cases like this, I consider a waste of space if someone's willing to live in it).

So I didn't finish the doily. I'm on round 75 (of 82), so I should finish it tomorrow. I'll skip a photo because you wouldn't tell the difference from last night.

My hips are killing me from walking all day, convincing me I need to lose some weight.

There's a new series on History Channel, called "Cities of the Underworld" which basically explores all the stuff under modern cities. The episodes I've seen already were Edinburgh, Istanbul, and now Rome. I always knew cities were built on the ruins of old ones, but I never knew how many ENTIRE BUILDINGS were down there. Undamaged buildings you can walk around in. People are always going "oh yeah, you can get to this secret pagan temple by going through the basement of the Roman Opera costume storehouse". Unreal. It reminds me a lot of Time Team (which is unfortunately off the air here in the US) and their hilarious mission statements at the beginning of the shows - "This weekend we're gonna dig up the lost shipyards of Henry V. Don't worry why we're digging 20 miles inland, we'll explain it."

Plus it's giving me knitting ideas. heeheehee

'Cause I have so much time to knit up all the ideas I have now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yet another evening check in.

Row 72 now. And it keeps going slower. And I'm getting bored with it. And my butt still hurts from sitting all this time.

For a change of pace, I dyed some yarn today.

It's a dip dye, from light pink through several reds to a sort of burgundy. (If you can see a little bit of pink peeping over the red at the top of the skein, it's part of the same skein, hung double - it's a long one.) I think I'm gonna call it Cherry Ripple. Red Ripple? Something like that. Cinnamon Ripple. Hm. That works.

Anyway, tomorrow I want to do another dip dye, this one blue. And I've got a thirty-foot skein wound out that I haven't dyed for two weeks because I couldn't think of a color scheme, but now I think I've got one.

Back to the lace mines.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bedtime check-in.

Row 57. There are about 200 stitches on the needle now, and even shifting it over to a circular, it's starting to slow down. You can see the pattern starting to emerge, though; the center, which I've done so far, is stockinette with columns of eyelets. Very fast to knit. (Many small pattern repeats also make the pattern easy to remember, and therefore, fast to knit.) As I move outward it turns into one-row lace with constant stitch manipulation - then it'll REALLY slow down.

Anyway, about thirty rows to go. Two days to do it. So far, so good. (Now that I said 'so far, so good', the cat will eat it and leave it barfed out for me on the foot stool tomorrow morning.)

And my butt still hurts.

I've given in to peer pressure.

There's this knitting poll going around the internet, basically a 'what kind of knitting have you done?' sort of thing, and I'm sort of curious to see what I HAVE done. It's been a while. What I have done is in ITALICS, what I haven't done is in regular type (hopefully this will translate to Bloglines okay, if not, enjoy the commentary). And I'll add pithy commentary where it seems appropriate.

Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire - I'd like to try this but I'm afraid it would destroy my hands
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up - designed my own, Norwegian style
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting - dude, it's the trippiest thing ever
Participating in a KAL - and leading one
Sweater - oh for crying out loud
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns - hate 'em because they make the knitting short and it takes forever to finish
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting - just swatches
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles - oh geez
Baby items
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn - working on that
Slippers - I knit one and quit
Graffiti knitting - HUH? Is this some hip thing??
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchangeScarf
Teaching a child to knit - fun, if they're enthusiastic
American/English knitting - I've tried it
Knitting to make money - all the time, depending on how you look at it
Buttonholes - mine suck
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting - love it
Dying with plant colors - coffee. Gag.
Knitting items for a wedding - right now
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars - the sleeves of the Bohus sweater last year... hated it but I didn't have DPNs the right size
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with dpns - oh geez
Holiday related knitting - every year, I'm a moron
Teaching a male how to knit - the husbeast
Bobbles - hate 'em
Knitting for a living - it's not a living, but I'm kind of doing it now
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn - hahaha
Steeks - I think they're fun. I'm sick.
Knitting art - that's in the eye of the beholder, now, isn't it?
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously - and screwed them both up simultaneously
Fulling/felting - often with disastrous results
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch - like a party trick
Knitted flowers - I can't remember ever knitting flowers, and yet can't believe I've never knit flowers.
Knitting with beads - I keep meaning to try this
Swatching - oh, for crying out loud
Long Tail CO
Entrelac - just swatches and experiments
Knitting and purling backwards - I keep meaning to learn this
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Darning - avoided at all costs
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern - hate it, but yes
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO - I've got a funky version of it I do, I keep meaning to do an article
Free-form knitting - I'm too organized, I can't do the free part
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers

Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
RugKnitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting - I don't live in a cold enough climate, but I'm intrigued.
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets - this cat sleeps on Australian merino
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public - always good for a laugh

Tag, you're it.

I hope this is an omen of things to come.

I got a copy of the summer issue of Interweave Knits last night, and as usual I thought "I don't know why I buy these magazines when they piss me off" as I paid for it, and I got it home, and I looked at the patterns, and... and...

There are actually things in there I would wear.

I wouldn't go to the trouble of knitting some of them, but out of 26 patterns, I'd wear probably ten of them, if someone handed them to me. And there are two tanks (the 'sleeveless tuxedo shirt' and the 'Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell') I am going to try to actually knit this summer. (I can knit the shell out of yarn in the stash, thereby being virtuous. Go me.) The sizes are human - most go up to a 52 inch/125cm bust. The layout has changed recently, but I like it - there's a photo montage of projects in the front, then the patterns with more, detailed photos of the projects.

In addition, there's an article on sock knitting by Ann Budd that might be worth the cost of the magzine, by itself, and their usual columns that I enjoy, like 'the knitted artifact' where they discuss a piece from a museum collection. I found out why Etsy has been bogged down all week - Amy Singer wrote an article about it for this issue.

Interweave Knits has always been the only knitting magazine that was close to rational, IMHO, and it seems to be improving now that Eunny's in charge. She needs to have a word with the stylist, though -- way too many bras hanging out in these photos. (Nothing's perfect, and really I'd prefer the bra exposure to the idiocy I see in other magazines.)

Incidentally Interweave also has a pretty nice collection of free patterns, here.

Sorry this review was positive. Vogue will put something out in the fall, don't worry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pre-bedtime check-in.

I'm on row 39. Don't be impressed; it starts off with twelve stitches in the center and each row contains more and more stitches as you increase to make the thing lay flat. I've got about 144 stitches on the needles right now, and it'll only get worse as the thing grows. You can usually knit the first fifteen or twenty rounds of a center-out doily like this in an hour; then it goes slower, and slower, and slower until it can take hours to do a single round. Ah, the fun, the excitement, the entertainment.

I've got a total of 82 rows.

It'll go on the circular needle tomorrow.

My butt hurts from all this sitting.

We're pooped.

The Baby and I did the knit-in at the Children's Museum this morning. We all met up in the art room, and the baby stayed with me instead of running loose in the rest of the museum. (She's a little young yet, and since I stay home with her, she's not used to the idea of going off with strangers.) She had a glorious time and got into EVERYTHING. Here, The Baby says "I don't know anything about the colors under my nails. Or the marker on my face. Or the paint on my shirt. I'm tired. Can I have a snack? Turn on the cartoons."

I took the Mystery Knit (which is getting set aside for a few days), and met some new nice folks, and had a good time. If you're in the area and haven't gone yet, you should. And do it fast - the group will be breaking for summer, so you've only got all the Thursdays left in May to come visit.

Otherwise, I've listed deadlines and projects and priorities and have decided I need to knit a doily this weekend. Not only because I need a wedding gift for the beginning of June, but because I need to finish something soon or I will lose my mind. After it's done, it's back to the Mystery Knit. Then the Steeked Jacket. (Unless someone finishes up their sleeves ahead of plan. Then I don't know what I'll do.)

No more excitement here. The Baby has a diaper on her head, the cat's sleeping on my foot stool, and I'm going to go look at lace patterns and the box of crochet cotton.