Saturday, June 30, 2007


That's all there is for excitement today; more rain. Whoopee. So let's dump a jumble of links and information!

I've got about five inches of Tut Tut done, and some more of the Pinwheel edging charted. The charting is going slowly, because, well, I hate it. To put it bluntly.

There's a photo gallery of the Hatshepsut mummy on the National Geographic web site, here.

And while we're talking about National Geographic, they have an article about how agriculture is not nearly as recent a thing, in the Americas, as the history books teach. Seeds from domesticated species (including cotton) have been found, dating back over ten thousand years. Which is also blowing that 'recently settled' theory about the Americas, too. Article here.

Just in the time I've been typing, the sky has gone from sunny to black, and thunder is rattling the house. Nothing but good times ahead.

Jenny Crusie, the novelist, confesses on her blog today. Yes. She has a cheap variegated yarn habit, and then crochets hats with it, hats she thinks are ugly. She compares the hat-crocheting to writing a book, and the creative process in general. As usual, it's beautifully written and hilarious. Her post is titled "The Devil in the Craft Store." I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Oh, and remember the discussion about the Baby's hair? She spent the morning in the pool, out in the humidity, and I thought to snap a photo while she ate lunch:

The husbeast has been overheard telling the baby "You're having a bad hair life."

Eek. Lightning strike. Hitting send.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A better day.

...than yesterday.

Yesterday, within an hour of waking, The Baby had gone into the bedroom and reset the husbeast's clock-radio, gone into my office and swept most of the mess on my desk onto the floor, and, the topper, poured a full mug of hot tea all over herself and my knitting chair. (The blue wingback with the beige diamond lattice.) Fortunately, Paranoid Mumum (that would be me) had, upon giving birth, begun putting ice-cubes in my tea to cool it to lukewarm, with something like this in mind. Normally I drink my tea scorching hot. Oh, yes, people snickered at me for being an overcautious mum. Well, due to my paranoia (wait, it's not paranoia if it's a legitimate concern, right?) the Baby was not burned. She cried when it hit her legs, and certainly did not LIKE it, but there wasn't a mark on her by the time I peeled her out of her stained clothing. Little booger.

So, in a nutshell, yesterday sucked sideways.


One reason the Baby managed to get away from me so often yesterday, was that I was trying to set up and fill the baby pool in the front yard. After her rampage, I decided hell would freeze over before she got to play in the pool, and I figured we could do it today.

Is there anything more forlorn than the sight of a baby pool in the rain?

The Baby recovered from her disappointment (actually, I'd never told her we were doing it, so it was no big deal) and did this all day instead:

Same idea, without the water.


Since the Pinwheel Jacket is stalled while I chart the edging I want to use and figure out exactly what in hell I'm doing (I THINK I am going to knit the edge and graft it on, but I may go crazy and knit it on as I go... haven't decided), I cast on for Tut Tut. (I am a firm believer in knitting to keep your hands busy, so as to avoid killing your child on bad days. And yesterday I really, really, really needed to knit.)

That's the start of the body, size large, 46 inches/101 cm around. (This is going to be a pattern for sale and I had to work out the sizes before I cast on... very odd, this whole keeping-track thing.) I've begun knitting while reading blogs and hanging out in computer chat rooms and am knitting up about a hundred yards of yarn per day. If my hands hold out, I might get the Pinwheel Jacket AND Tut Tut done by the end of July.

Which is good, 'cause I have Christmas knitting to do, too. The order to Bendigo will probably be made soon. I want to use the cable patterns from "Morrigan" in "No Sheep for You", with more masculine shaping, for my father-in-law. If my sanity can take it. No idea what I'm making my mother-in-law yet, though if she loves my Pinwheel Jacket, I may knit another one for her.

I wonder, if I had a team of ten knitters going full blast and unlimited access to any yarn I wanted, if I'd ever get through all my ideas. Probably not.


Once we steam-cleaned my chair yesterday, we put down a towel on the cushion, and Sekhmet spotted it and decided that meant it was just for her.

Ugly towel. Good kitty. She's the only one around her who listens to me. You know it's bad when you say that about a CAT.


I love my new camera.

Gotta go knit.

This comes as a shock.

Online Dating

I was expecting to get rated X.

I'm R rated for strong language. (Bet y'all are totally shocked.) And apparently I used the word 'porn' around here somewhere.

I wonder what it takes to get an X?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This is what comes of not following directions.


In this case, it's me who is busted, not the kitty cat. The husbeast has caught me leaving the heating pad on for her to snuggle down on. Since she's an indoor cat, and has the baby to deal with, I figure she's got few enough pleasures in life, why not leave the heating pad on?


There was a question about the baby's hair, and where the curl comes from. That would be my fault. There's a reason I grow my hair halfway to my butt; it's the only way it comes close to laying flat. If my hair were as short as the baby's it would stand on end, too. I haven't decided yet if we'll keep the baby's hair short and curly, or let it grow long and (hopefully) more manageable. I can't wait until she's old enough to have an opinion about this stuff.


It appears I may be finishing the body of the Pinwheel Jacket today, meaning I finished it in a week. There's nothing like project monogamy to get something done. Next I'm going to put on the Chinese Edging from the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns from Barbara Walker. Eighteen edging repeats should do the job. (It will probably be sixteen too many for my sanity.)

Unfortunately, the project monogamy won't last much longer; I've got a doily to finish by the beginning of August (that second wedding present), and I have a feeling I'm going to be quite inspired to work on Tut, Tut soon. Why, you ask?


Archeologists have found Hatshepsut. (She was the first female pharoah of Egypt; she was never a great role model in terms of ethics, but I always admired her smug grin on statuary.) Her body's been around since 1903, but geneticists have finally extracted enough DNA from enough places go be sure it's her. Story here.

I gotta go knit. Something.

Steeked Jacket: Time to cut.

That's right, the next step after the shoulder decreasing is to cut the steek up the front. That seems a bit strange, I know, but the rest of the shoulder knitting left is done flat, or back-and-forth, and it's much simpler to do that with the steek cut open.

Make sure the steek stitches (five of them, unless you tweaked the pattern I gave you), are bound off in traditional knit two, pass the first stitch over the second stitch. Then leave all the rest of the body stitches on the needle and secure the steek. I strongly suggest using either a crocheted steek or a machine-stitched steek. The other methods of securing steeks before cutting are a bit fragile and not suited to the handling this one will get while you finish knitting the neck. If you are working with anything other than wool, I suggest a machine-stitched steek.

Steeking is discussed in great and useful detail on Eunny Jang's blog, so click here for the directions for both methods and a couple others besides. If you want to skip straight to a certain technique, crocheted steeks are here, and machine-stitched are here. Actually, Eunny hand-stitches hers, but you can see straight off how to do the same thing with a machine; basically, set your machine to a very small, straight stitch, then sew along each side of the steek, and cut between.

Eunny covers the whole thing more beautifully than I ever could.

However, I've got a few thoughts and hints for cutting steeks.

First of all, pick out a single column of what I call 'cross-bars', the strands of yarn that stretch horizontally between two columns of stitches. The one slap in the center of the steek is, of course, the best choice. Then get a SMALL pair of scissors, and snip your way up the front of the sweater, one cross-bar at a time.

I prefer using a pair of very sharp, blunt-tipped kid's scissors. Nail scissors appear to be a favorite also. The only time I used a pair of sewing shears, I cut a huge hole in the chest of the sweater I was steeking. Something to keep in mind.

If, through some disastrous mind-meld with me and my nefarious influence, you manage to cut a float on the back of your jacket, just darn the ends in. (You can do that, once or twice. I do NOT suggest it as a regular way to create a knitted fabric.) Since the ends of the cut float will be short, do it like this:

Get a sharp needle and run it down through other floats and the backs of stitches, near where your cut float stops floating and becomes a knit stitch. Make sure that you put the needle THROUGH the yarns, so that the fibers and the twist of the yarn can hold the end you will be darning into it.

(Heeheehee, new camera with in-focus closeup, heeheehee.)
THEN, thread the needle with the short end of the float, and pull down through the yarns with the needle. Repeat for the other side of the float.

I suggest not cutting the steek until you're ready to do the shoulder straps and back of neck; steeks are unstable by their nature, and it's best to not leave them sitting around cut if you can help it. (Once the shoulder straps and back of neck are done, you can then immediately pick up the stitches all around the steeked edge and neck and knit the button band/collar, thereby stablizing the edge again.)

Next up, the shoulder straps and the back of the neck:

This is where you'll have to knit back and forth in two colors, but it doesn't last very long, it looks great when it's done, and you're invincible by now, anyway.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Coming along.

So, that knitting thing. I've been knitting away on it though bugs and zits and dark of night.

I've got less than ten rounds to go on the pinwheel body thingie. However, seeing as each round gets bigger, that could take a while. After that, I'm going to do a knit-on lace edging (haven't decided which one, yet), and then do something similar for the sleeves. The white bits you can see in the blue knitting are the sleeve holes; you use Elizabeth Zimmerman's Thumb Trick (using waste yarn, knit across the stitches you want to ultimately be the opening, then put them back on the left needle and knit them AGAIN with the real yarn; later you remove the waste and unzip an opening; EZ originally used this on mitten thumbs). Voila. Sleeves.

I had a question about how easy this was to knit, and I've got to say, really easy. Particularly if you are a skilled crocheter and actually follow the pattern without tweaking it. I'd say it would be a great combination of mindless zombie knitting and a little bit of entertaining crochet at the ends.

Once I finish this, with tweaking and all, I'll publish my version for you. The only real difference is, I'm adding a little bit of length to the stockinette parts, and then knitting on an edge. I'm doing that so I can turn it in to the state fair.


I've been sitting around with a heating pad on my shoulder (it makes the Mystery Spot feel better), and the cat has suddenly figured out what was going on. She's got a pretty good memory for a cat, and for a long time, when I first got her, I spent many days with the heating pad wrapped around my arm. When she saw it again, she knew! Knew at once!


She's been impossible, lying in wait on the foot stool. As soon as I move, wham, she's in the chair on the heating pad.

Mama kitty didn't raise any dummies.


You know, people talk about reading to your children, and I agree that's a good thing. But I've always maintained that it's just as important for children to see their parents read for enjoyment, because then kids start thinking it's a normal thing to do with their leisure time, and follow suit.

She did this entirely unprompted by me; just crawled up in her chair with a book, and kicked back to look at it.

I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back to the bloody buggering bugs.

Maybe. Indulge me, if you will, on a long story. It almost has relevance on a knitting blog. You'll see at the end.

Saturday morning I worked out. (Yes, I'm still doing that.) The upper body stuff in particular has been killing me, partly because I avoided heavy lifting for so long because of my hand problems, and partly because my rotator cuffs look like swiss cheese (I rode dirtbikes for many years, as a kid). So when my shoulder started bothering me Saturday afternoon, I didn't pay it much attention. Sunday rolled around and my shoulder still bothered me - the pain seemed to have settled into my deltoid muscle over my right shoulder, and I figured I'd pulled or otherwise annoyed it, and continued to ignore it. By Sunday evening, I thought I was in big trouble because my shoulder was KILLING ME, so I figured I'd agravated the pulled muscle with knitting all day. I took two muscle-relaxants, hoping that would do the trick, and went to bed early.

This morning I woke up in a good bit of pain, thinking, "Damn, no knitting for me today." (See? This is almost relevant.) I reached up to massage my shoulder, and realized there was this hot, hard BUMP there. Off I went to the mirror; hello, that's not a pulled muscle.

I'm not sure what it is, but it sure the hell looks like some kind of bug bite.

Thanks to my bug research last week, I freaked out immediately, and spent the day with warm compresses on it. (While knitting. Hey -- if it's not a pulled muscle, whee! I can knit!) When the husbeast came home, we both looked at it, and between us have ruled out every cause except Zit From Hell and Mystery Bug Bite. We're hoping for Zit From Hell. (For those of you who are long time readers and might be thinking shingles, I'm almost positive it's not. It doesn't look like shingles, and doesn't hurt like it either. This feels, yes, like a pulled muscle. Shingles feels like pins-and-needles on fire.)

I took muscle relaxants for a zit. There are no words to describe how totally stupid I feel.

But I'm knitting!

The color's fairly accurate on my monitor... I'm past the sleeve hole thingies and am knitting wildly toward the edge. At which time I have to do a knit-on lace edge over 480 stitches. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lameass Sunday post.

If anyone's been paying attention lately, you may have noticed I've cut way back on Sunday posting on the ol' blog. The reason for this is, we don't do anything on Sundays. I mean, nothing. The goal is to sit on our butts around the house, and if we feel motivated, we put the baby in the inflatable pool in the front yard. If the husbeast was too busy playing on Saturday, he will occasionally mow the lawn on Sunday. And once in a while I get a wild hair and make an elaborate dinner. But mostly, it's just us sitting around.


The one event of the day was, well, okay, wait, there were two events. I was awakened from my weekly sleep-in by the sound of husbeast yelling and baby crying. I wandered into the living room, trying to focus my eyes (I sleep with my eyes open, anyone else do that? and then when I wake up my eyes are full of cat hair and I can't see anything). The Baby had poured another soda over the recliner (third or fourth time), and the husbeast was quite irritated.

So I got to lock the baby in my office with me, while I slurped down caffeine and read Bloglines and the husbeast hooked up the carpet/furniture cleaner thingie and cleaned his chair. (He was a happy man. Maybe soon he'll remember to put the fucking cap on his soda bottle.)


Once all had settled, I picked up the Pinwheel Jacket (pattern here, for those who've asked), and almost immediately found a mistake. A mistake that was pretty obvious, in terms of sending it to the state fair, at any rate. If I'd planned to just keep it for myself, I'd have ignored it. But instead I wound up tearing out six rounds of pinwheel, and I still haven't knit it all back up again.

Now you see why I don't post on Sundays?? How exciting is this?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My child is two.

She has pulled the needles out of my knitting three times in two days. She has poured Dadad's soda over the recliner. She has flung more toys than I can count. She whines, she stomps, she bites. She is a slavering beast who runs lawlessly through the house, and nothing, not a damn thing I do, makes a difference.

There's a down side to raising a secure child who knows they are loved. That's the downside. You can't SCARE THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF THEM UNTIL THEY BEHAVE.

We've tried sitting on the couch with no cartoons and no toys. We've tried no cartoons in general. We've tried taking the toys away. We've tried exile in the crib. Hand smacking, lectures, calm explanations. Nothing works.

And then, just when I'm ready to kill her, she does this:


The other night, Sekhmet was heard crashing around in my office after an ominous skittering noise. Unfortunately, there is no tile floor in my office to create those types of noises. When I went in to investigate, I found a moth the size of my hand, fluttering against the wall. Have I mentioned I have a moth phobia? Anyway, it's dead now, and I didn't scream or throw up.

Then today, Sekhmet spent an hour in the dining room, killing a Cherrio. I really wish she'd make up her mind.


The new camera is finally here. The old one only did 2.1 megapixels, and this one does 5.3, so all else aside (it's got some fancy options on it), odds are good I'll be creating better photos. It came with a mini tripod, and the baby's been trying to get her hands on it. When the husbeast told her it wasn't a toy, she gave us this look back that said "I bet it could be a toy. Let me have it, and I'll show you."

I've been playing around with it, taking detailed photos, since that was the idea, to take knitting photos for articles. So far, so good.

So now I can retake all these lace photos and then resubmit the article to Knitty for Winter. Since I'm going to knit a lace doily for that wedding coming up in August, I think I'll take photos as I go and do a quickie how-to to add to the article.


There was a question in the comments about 'knitting thimbles', and whether they were useful or just gadgets.

Well, if it's useful, it's useful, though it seems like more trouble than it's worth, to me. (The idea is to thread your yarn through the loops and use it to keep track of your yarns when doing stranded color.) If you've got ten functioning fingers, I don't see why you'd need it, but many of us don't have the luxury of ten working fingers so... if it works, it works.

Still think it's easier to just run the yarn between your fingers, though.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's a dark, dark day.

Today was the last episode of Stargate. I am bummed. The last episode was okay. Not a huge wrap-up (they intend to do a movie for that, the bastages) but kind of a cute idea. Since I've spent the last month bitching about the quality of writing in the current crop of summer movies (Pirates 3 and Fantastic Four), I'm more relieved than anything. It didn't suck. That's good.


I spent the day knitting, mostly. My hand is killing me but I love the fabric this yarn makes and can't wait to wear this thing. I did my first test-splice the other night and feel ready to take photos and do a how-to when I do the next splice - which should be sometime in the next two or three days. Assuming my hand holds out. Or the drugs do.


Otherwise, I don't have much to write about, but Amy Lane tagged me for a history meme kind of thing, so I'll give it a whirl. You hit Wikipedia for events that happened on your birthday or birth month, list some, and tag someone else. I'm not much for tagging people, so anyone reading who wants to participate, knock yourselves out.

I was born October 16. Not telling you the year, no, you can't make me.

-October 16, 1775, Portland Maine was torched by the British.

-October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette was guillotined. Hahaha. That one's almost poetic.

-October 16, 1923, the Walt Disney Company was founded.

-October 16, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis began. (I knew that one, somehow.)

-October 16, 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was founded in Alexandria, Egypt, in honor of the ancient library that was lost. I also knew about this one, and consider it the world's birthday present to me. (Humor me.)

Even if you aren't doing the meme, you ought to try searching your birth date and see what all happened on that day. It's kind of interesting. At least to history freaks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Whoop, my bad. And some details.

There were a few more comedies in the top 100 movies. Now that I've actually watched the whole show (instead of scrolling through the list on a frozen computer, swearing and craving caffeine), I've got a much better grip on the situation. So here are the others that are listed as comedies. Many of them I don't consider comedies but dramas with funny bits, but decide for yourself:

11. City Lights, 1931. Charlie Chaplin. There are quite a few Charlie Chaplin movies in the list, three I think (we'll see as I work through it) because I'm not much of a Chaplin fan and - horrors - didn't recognize the titles. Have me flogged. Or at least make me drink caffeine before I'm allowed to post on my blog.

18. The General, 1927. This is a Buster Keaton movie. Whenever I see the oldies, I can never forget that THE DIDN'T HAVE STUNT MEN back in the day (I remember a friend doing a research paper on this back in middle school, and making us watch film clips of Keaton and Chaplin, and being boggled). All that insanity was done by the actor, and often with no trick photography, either.

44. The Philadelphia Story, 1940. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and George Cukor directing. (He was good at character stuff, if you are into the director thing.) This is probably THE classic romantic comedy on the list (with Bringing Up Baby, further down, which I also missed - dunno where my brain was for these two). I've always considered Bull Durham the best-written love triangle in movies, but this one may beat it. I need to watch them both, right together, and make up my mind.

46. It Happened One Night, 1934. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. (Did I ever mention I had a poster of Clark Gable on my wall in College Part One?) It's listed as a comedy, though I consider it a drama with funny bits. Either way, it's a good movie, and approachable, unlike some of this other stuff.

58. The Gold Rush, 1925. More Chaplin. Truly a classic, one of those movies you watch and realize that half the modern movies you've watched, ripped off ideas from here. Fantastic stuff. But I still don't think it's a comedy.

78. Modern Times, 1936. Another Chaplin. More social commentary disguised as a funny movie. Still, it's got more of that classic, almost iconic humor ripped off for decades of newer movies.

80. The Apartment, 1960. Romantic comedy with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Never seen it, can't say. But the bits I saw looked pretty good. Generally anything with Jack Lemmon is hilarious. (Anyone out there seen "How to Murder Your Wife"?)

88. Bringing Up Baby, 1938. More Hepburn and Grant. They were such a good team they deserved to have two movies on the list. This is one of the few truly silly movies on the list. It's a good choice.

So there were more comedies than I realized in my sleep-deprived state this morning, though I still say the bulk of them are either social commentaries, dramas, or Historic Bits with funny stuff in them, and not true comedies. But at least they seem to realize that yeah, a comedy is a good thing that takes skill to produce. Speaking (complaining) of who got left out, where are the Three Stooges? Not my cup of tea, but even I will admit they took physical comedy to the level of art better than anyone else. Here's a bit of heresy: Dump one of these Chaplin movies and throw in some Stooges and maybe Abbot and Costello. Better yet, dump one of the dismal dramas and add them.

With the comments from this morning in mind, I kept an eye out for sci-fi and horror while watching the show, and there wasn't a lot of either.

The three sci-fi movies were Star Wars at 13, 2001 at 15, and E.T. at 24. Though with those three, I'm not sure we need any others. It's a pretty good sampling, a space western, a philosophical metaphor, and a kid's movie.

For horror, the only one I could find, kind of, was Clockwork Orange at 70. I'm not sure the horror designation is anywhere but in my own mind on that one. There were a bunch of suspense movies, most very well done (including a lot of Hitchcock), but nothing I'd really classify as horror.

There were two cartoons. Toy Story (99) and Snow White (34). The irony, of course, is that neither one was really a cartoon. Toy Story was done entirely on computers, and Snow White was rotoscoped to infinity and beyond.


Did someone mention splicing? I'll try to take decent photos and do some kind of tutorial for you guys, since there's a lot of interest. But please be aware I'm using the term splice in the sense of 'joining in ends without it showing', not 'legitimate seamless continuation of a string or rope'. The idea for this is invisibility, not true seamlessness. Though I am looking at the husbeast's Navy stuff about splicing rope, among other refrences.

And thanks to those who suggested the Russian Join. It's an excellent trick that I intend to use regularly in the future, but it won't work on this yarn - the twist isn't set nearly enough for it to hold together. But what I've got in mind is probably a lot like a Russian Join without the needle, skill, and quick execution.

Fut the whuck?

Last night, The American Film Institute did a thing on TV about the best 100 movies of all time. They do this every decade, updating the list, and I'm surprised to say, I'm enough of a movie geek I remember watching the last time they did this, and I remember the time before THAT, a friend had cut the list out of a magazine and we all read through it and argued over the chocies.

Apparently I'm something of a movie buff. This is kind of news to me; I'm more about books, I thought.

The American Film Institute exists, I was told last night, to forward the idea of movies as art. After more than a hundred years of moviemaking, I'd thought that question had been settled in the affirmative and the discussion was over. But then I'm the person who thinks the Chrysler Building is art, too, so what do I know? At any rate, it's a group of artistes, often with their noses in the air, discussing Great Movies while you roll your eyes.

I recorded the entire three hour show on the DVR, but switched over and watched the top ten live as they unveiled them. (This was not an edge-of-my-seat thing, more an eye-rolling thing while I was knitting.) Without further ado, here is AFI's top ten greatest movies of all time.

1. Citizen Kane, 1941 (unchanged for the three decades I've been paying attention)
2. The Godfather, 1972 (sure, it's a good movie, but SECOND?? OF ALL TIME???)
3. Casablanca, 1942 ('the greatest movie romance of all time' they said; 'quit smoking crack', I said)
4. Raging Bull, 1980
5. Singing in the Rain, 1952 (Gene Kelly dancing probably belongs in the top 10)
6. Gone With the Wind, 1939 (Scarlett, you bitch)
7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 (LawRENCE, LawRECNE, LawRENCE)
8. Schindler's List, 1993 (good choice on this one, should be higher)
9. Vertigo, 1958 (Hitchcock should be on the top 10 for sure, not positive this is the one, though, what about North by Northwest?)
10. Wizard of Oz, 1939

See something missing? Me too. No comedies. NONE. You telling me a good comedy hasn't been made in the last HUNDRED YEARS that can hold up against that group? No Abbot and Costello, no Bing and Bob, no screwball comedies, no Monty Python, nobody? Nothing? No laughs? Two musicals, a lameass romance, or three, but no comedy?

I hadn't realized art was such serious business.

In fact, now that I've gone through all kinds of horrors with AFI (setting up an account, logging in to the web site, and then having their idiotic .pdf file crash my computer - they can't list a hundred fuckin' movies on a regular old web page?) I've now looked at the list of all 100 movies, and there are only seven comedies on the entire list. Three of those are social commentaries disguised as comedy (Dr. Strangelove, MASH, and Tootsie), and two of them are Marx Brothers. While I am a HUGE fan of the Marx Brothers, I don't see why two of their movies were included at the loss of all the other classic comedy teams that crossed over from vaudeville. Can you say Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy?

Here's the full list of comedies in the top 100 - I've actually seen them all, which also makes me suspicious. I'm not the Great Movies type, and I'm positive there's a lot of great stuff out there I've never seen, particularly if it was made before 1985.

22. Some Like it Hot - Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. This is the one where the guys go in drag for most of the movie.

35. Annie Hall. A Woody Allen production. Way too neurotic for me. And I didn't think it was that funny. But other people say it's a comedy, so whatever.

39. Dr. Strangelove. I don't care how fucked up and funny this movie is, it's not a comedy, it's a satire and social commentary. And it was good. But it ain't comedy.

54. MASH. Ditto from above. This is a movie about the horrors of war, even if it is funny and listed as a comedy.

60. Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers. Grouch Marx is declared dictator or king or whatever of a small, bankrupt nation. People have been mining this movie for ideas for 80 years.

69. Tootsie. Funny as hell in some places, but it's still social commentary, I don't care how funny the scene is where he declares he's a man, on camera.

85. A Night at the Opera. More Marx brothers. I've always wondered if this movie is where The Producers got the idea from (using the theater biz to fleece people), and now that I've looked at the dates, I think it's highly likely. (Opera was made in 1939, Producers in 1968. Entirely possible.)

That's it. No more comedy. So remember, if you're creating art, you better be serious. (Oh, geez.) No laughs, no fun, no approachability, and we're back to hanging art on church walls and playing it on pipe organs. Those idiots.

Oh, and Lord of the Rings? Fellowship of the Ring came in at #50. The other two aren't listed at all. There are almost no post-1977 blockbusters listed. Fellowship, Star Wars (number 13, I think), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (in the eighties?) were the only three I remember seeing. So if you're making art, it better not be popular, either.

Lists like this give art a bad name. I'm thinking I should get the baby's Nerf balls and have them on hand for the hubby to throw at the TV, when we watch this show.


All night, I knit away on my pinwheel jacket. The yarn is (I think) six strands of mercerized cotton and the twist hasn't been set hardly at all, not with sizing or with steam or anything else. So it's going slower than it could, and when I get tired, the yarn splits horribly. I love the finished fabric enough to persevere, but for those of you who hate that kind of thing, you might wanna stay away from this yarn (Lara, from Elann). This is how much I had done when I gave up and went to bed last night:

I'm doing the provisional cast-on thing, then going back and finishing the center like the top of a hat. And since this is the state fair entry, the yarn joins have to be invisible, which means going through my technique books to remind myself how to splice yarn. (At least the splittiness will work in my favor, then.) I hate splicing yarn. Wah.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First yarn buy of the year.

Well, not counting stuff I bought to dye and re-sell in my shop. I don't think of that as stash or even mine, because even as it comes into the house, I have plans to ship it back out again.

This is the first stuff I've bought for me.

Above, the yarn for "Tut Tut". On the left, the body color, 'natural'. (I think bright white looks kind of weird as a color, particularly for historically inspired patterns. If it weren't for modern chemistry and bleaching methods, bright white wouldn't exist any more than magenta does.) The colors on the right are for the yoke. Not bad, though if that rosy pink is the color of carnelian, I'm Hatshepsut. Ah well, sometimes you have to sacrifice accuracy for wearability and making people happy with a pattern. That's why it's called an adaptation and not a direct copy. (Like the ancient Egyptians had knitting anyway. Ha.)

This is the Elann Lara in "Algiers Teal" that I got to do the pinwheel-style jacket for the state fair. It's a true teal, a little bit greener than the photo looks on my computer, and quite lovely. Should match most of my wardrobe, too. In typical paranoid fashion, I have already ordered another pile of it, because I'm worried about how much yarn the knit-on lace edge will take. (The pattern is written for a crochet edge.) In general, knit-on lace edgings take about twenty yards more yarn than you have. Anyway, I hope to start this today. In preparation for the incoming yarn order, I've been trying to finish all the knitting on the Steeked Jacket and have just a bit of bindoff left to do. I plan to knit the pinwheel jacket without doing a swatch first, which will probably return to bite me on the ass - yet another reason to get more yarn. (If it turns out I have a huge pile of it left over, I'll knit the baby a pullover or something. It's a really nice, sturdy yarn.)

The baby enjoyed the box, too. It's all good.


Along with my lovely yarn order today, I got another wedding invitation in the mail. It was expected. I need to knit another lace doily and have it in the mail by August 11. Oh, goodie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Husbeast quote of the day.

"Babe, you've gotta start locking your knitting in the office when you leave the house. I don't want to be responsible for what the cat and the baby do to it."

At least he's thinking.

And then...

...because we aren't on Bug Alert enough around here...

The other night, I fell asleep on the couch, while reading my new book. I was awakened at about two in the morning by the cat crashing around in the kitchen. The sound of her bumping into cabinets was acompanied by this REALLY LOUD skittering noise. I listened for a bit, figured the sound was due to a commando squad of three-inch-long cockroaches rapelling down the side of the refrigerator, thought "fuck that", and went to bed. (No need to wake up the rest of the house by going out there, taking a look, and screaming my lungs out, now, is there?)

Several hours later, I woke up again to hear the husbeast out in the kitchen, swearing and cursing, figured he was dealing with the commando roaches, snickered, and went back to sleep.

Last night he finally told me what had really happened: the cat was STILL crashing around in the kitchen at five AM and woke him, and unlike me, he went out to do battle. What he found was a cat so exausted she could barely move, and an uncooked pasta shell that the cat had apparently been chasing around the tile floor for three or four hours. He was quite irritated with the entire situation.

Sekhmet, you fucker.


The Yarn Harlot has, today, posted quite a good rant about blogging and manners and the obvious. (Dude, what you post on your blog? The whole world can read that.) As always, she sums it all up perfectly. Available here.


Don't you love when you put a baby down for a nap, and they spend an hour and a half jumping up and down in their crib, singing and calling the cat to rescue them? "Kitty! KITTY!!"

Meanwhile, Sekhmet lays in my knitting chair and snickers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bloody, buggering... bugs.

Oh, no, cockroaches aren't enough. Now we appear to be overrun by inch-long millipedes, all over the house. This freaks me out most because they look like a slightly darker-in-color version of baby millipedes I knew in Hawaii, that grew up to be foot-long armored monstrosities that stung like scorpions. (Preferred method of destruction among the local folks I knew: The flame thrower method, using WD-40 and a lighter. There was a LOT of complaining when the WD-40 company changed to a non-flammable formula, most of it revolving around the "Damn it, now I have to get close enough to get stung to kill those fucking millipedes." Plan B usually involved a shovel, boots, and a lot of swearing.)

But I digress.

After finding the baby prodding one of these damn things, I hit the internet trying to find out exactly what toxic bugs there are in South Carolina. You would think, if the bloody military moved me the hell all over the place, they could see fit to provide me with this information when I hit town, wouldn't you? It would be helpful, sensible, and aid public safety. Of course they don't do it.

But I digress again.

Among other lovevly things I've found are two cases of anaphylactic shock triggered by fire ants. The allergic reaction people have to bee stings, when they die? Same thing. Only with fire ants. Aren't I happy to learn that? With my yard full of them? Deeeelighted.

Of course there are nasty spiders all over North America, including where I grew up. There are only two kinds in most urban areas: Black Widows, which have a neurotoxin that can cause pain or other nervous disorders, and Brown Fiddlebacks, which have a sort of tissue-eating venom that has to be cut out of affected skin. The photos I'm running across on the 'net bring back the lovely days of my EMT training.


I've also found that there are insect conservation organizations. What, like we need to save the little fuckers? Okay, I realize we need a few of them to pollinate food crops, and I suppose butterflies are nice, but CONSERVATION? Oy.

Oh, and by the way? You Aussies have some fucking scary bugs. Worse than Hawaii. You win the prize. Congratulations.

Killer bees have killed two people in Argentina this week. There are grasshoppers swarming in Madagascar. Allergic reactions abound. Fish eating fire ants are winding up dead.

Still can't find any information on the bloody damned millipedes.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go wrap my entire body in Saran Wrap and get a beekeeping mask to wear.

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to the University of Florida (I think; having trouble deciphering the .edu addy), I have found the proper information. "These caterpillars feed on vegetation and have spines which can break off in the skin. When the spines break, a toxin flows from the spines onto the skin, causing a burning sensation."
Gag, barf, ick, ack. Bleah.
"When working in an infested area, wear protective clothing."
No shit, Sherlock. Thanks for the help.

Back to the Saran Wrap. Geeeeez. And I'll be having nightmares about the Wheel Bug.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The cat ate my swatch and the kid's a pig.

Okay, okay, she didn't EAT my swatch. Here it is in progress: (k4 p1 rib on a #5 needle)

I have this ball of Elann Sonata that I'm not terribly fond of due to color (I'll spare any really rude comments about what it looks like, because my luck, one of my regular readers knit a beloved sweater from that very color). Anyway, I don't like it, so I figured what better to knit a gauge swatch with, until the Elann Sonata in the colors I REALLY need gets here? (Yes, technically different colors of the same yarn have marginally different gauges. I refuse to care about a quarter of a stitch in gauge swatches. There's enough other stuff to stress about.)

The plan was to get the swatch done before the yarn arrived, then cast on, buy the new Kushiel book, and hole up in a corner somewhere knitting and reading for the next week. I could at least get the body done that way, maybe the body and sleeves. It'd be good.

Only one problem.

See the dark brown on the right side of the ball? Yeah. That's soda. The cat (with the aid of the baby) poured an entire can over the ball while I was knitting from it.

Not quite sure what I'm gonna do about this. Everyone involved has already been yelled at; didn't do shit to get the soda out of the yarn. Since the soda was no-calorie, that means it didn't have sugar in it, which means the yarn won't get sticky. I'm tempted to knit it up as-is and then wash.


Today is Father's Day. (Is that an international thing? I'm thinking not.) In honor of the day, the husbeast wanted to go to the Outback Steakhouse. (Aussies clicking on that link, try not to sprain your ribs laughing. I figure it's about as authentic as my local Mexican restuarant and my favorite Chinese takeout place. Which is to say, not. I've eaten real TexMex in Albuquerque, and real Chinese in Hawaii.) While at the Outback, my not-quite-two-yearold child ate: two inch-thick slices of pumpernickel bread, a handful of cheesy fries, half my potato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, some of my prime rib, and a bowl of steamed vegetables. We're still waiting for her to explode, but so far, so good. I didn't get a photo of her in her cute yellow dress, because I forgot before and she'd spit milk all down her chest after.

Am I having fun yet?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Linkity link link link.

There have been a lot of funny blog entries and news stories lately that I keep meaning to link to, and then forget. So here we go.

Franklin has written a funny post about what he's learned from lace knitting. As always, it's spot-on and a laugh into the bargain.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, has done a list kind of like that 'what food are you?' quiz, but it's 'what romance author is which food?'. If you read romances, you will laugh out loud. If you don't, you won't get the jokes, so don't bother.

Judges are finally looking into FBI wiretapping that went on after 9-11 and realizing much of it was illegal and demanding records be handed over or shredded, etc. I don't get too political around here so I'll confine myself to one statement: It's about fucking time.

Someone is selling Tetris refrigerator magnets.

Last and possibly weirdest, someone recently pulled up a blue lobster near Groton, CT. Apparently it's a mutation that's been seen before. The lobster was declared 'too pretty to eat' and last I heard is residing in the Mystic Aquarium.

Makes me glad I'm allergic to shellfish.

Edited to add:
For the upcoming Strikke-Along, from April: eleventy million FREE Norwegian knitting patterns, from Garnstudio/Drops. Whee!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another jumble of stuff.

There appears to be some concern over a pattern to choose for the Strikke-Along. While anything goes, the book that triggered the whole idea is "Norsk Strikkedesign" from Unicorn Books. (Available, with other Scandinavian knitting goodies, from here.) After I suggested the idea, I flipped through the book again and realized the patterns are kind of insane. (Six, eight stitches to the inch, stranded color all over, often no regular pattern to memorize, or pattern repeats too large to remember.) Since I wanted people to join in - we've had enough of insane knit-alongs for the year with the Steeked Jacket craziness - I figured we should offer some other options.

All joking aside, try to challenge yourself, but pick something you're not terrified of.

Mittens would be a good project, if you're learning to do stranded color, and there are oodles of Scandinavian mitten patterns available all over the place. (Let me know, anyone, if you want suggestions.) Dale of Norway has hordes of patterns of varying difficulty, including summer things knit out of Svale, their lovely cotton/silk/rayon yarn. Elsebeth Lavold, while technically not turning out traditional stuff, bases her designs on Viking decoration motifs, and that sounds Scandinavian to me. Ditto for traditional Lopi patterns - Iceland was settled by Vikings, who took their sheep, so that's Scandinavian, right? And the Fair Isles, ditto for those, settled by Vikings and Viking sheep.

Really, if you want to do something simple, buy some scandinavian yarn of some kind (Dale of Norway is a personal fave, but it's a little pricey) and knit a plain old sweatshirt type sweater.

That probably didn't clear things up any, but it's something to think about.


Remember "Knit from your Stash"? I get one pardon, right? I ordered the yarn for Tut, Tut today, and that was cool by the rules I set up for myself. But then I went nuts and ordered the yarn for this. Oh, and the color I got is Algiers Teal. I originally wanted to do it with the crochet edging, to force myself to learn crochet, but then I decided to enter it in the state fair, which means a knit-on lace edge of some kind or other (since the judges apparently have a thing for knit-on edges). But if it goes smoothly, I'm going to knit a mini version for The Baby (for her winter jacket - it doesn't get too cold around here) and THEN I'll do the crochet. I've gotta figure out how to do it. It's getting ridiculous.


It's been raining here for most of the week, making my joints feel like I'm eighty years old. The workouts continue anyway, but I don't push it nearly as hard as I would otherwise. Ah well, it still beats sitting at home.

While it was raining the other day, I told the baby it was time to learn about meterology, and took her out in the rain. She couldn't figure out where the water was coming from. Very funny stuff.


In some... some... yarn fume induced fugue state, I forgot to add the NECK SHAPING to the Steeked Jacket decreasing directions. Fear not, the neck decreasing doesn't start until part two of the decreasing, and maybe not even then. So I don't think anyone is far enough for it to matter yet.

But if you're doing a steeked jacket, please go back and re-read the steeked jacket directions; I'm adding a 'neck decreasing' section in Part Two. Doing that right now.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Out of my freakin' mind.

Do you see this?

IT IS A DISGUISE. That is not a cute child. No. It is an alien being designed entirely to DRIVE ME INSANE.

She spent the day stuck to me. Literally followed me everywhere. I'd turn around and step on her foot, or have to shove her out of the kitchen while the oven was on. Turn around, and I'd be shoving her out of the kitchen again. ALL DAY.

I'm a little squirrely.

And here the cat says "I know nothing about this. Heeheehee."

Okay. Okay. Getting a grip.

During the day I worked on this, off and on:

What is it, you ask? The start of "Tut, tut", my first for-sale knitting pattern. It will be a yoked sweater, and that's the general idea of what I'm doing for the yoke colors. (I had to fight the baby for the colored pencils.) I'm knitting the gauge swatch now, and the yarn gets ordered tomorrow. I'm also ordering yarn for my state fair entry. (Yarn orders for Christmas presents will wait until next month. I may live to regret it, but I'm not starting the Christmas knitting until later in the year.)

Tonight, out of the clear blue sky, the husbeast asked me how the Year of Me was going. I admitted, not too well. He suggested I do 'Year of Me version 2.0' for next year. I suspect I may wind up doing it. (Not to worry; there are two or three more designs I want to knit on that list, which would then be sized and the patterns put up for sale.) I may have also made my decision on what to knit for the Strikke-Along, but I've got three months to change my mind so I'm not gonna say what it is, and pretend later it was a solid decision all along.

There was a State Fair question, and it is true; submissions do NOT have to be original designs. They do have to be perfect, though. The only thing wrong with my submission in the women's sweater category last year was less-than-perfect end darning, and it didn't even place. Something to keep in mind, if you plan to enter. (And also, I'll be driving up to Columbia to hand in my entries, at the time, so if you want to ride along or have me drop them off for you, let me know.)

Just when all was lost, and I could feel my brains running out my ears, the mail came, and there was something for me in it!

Louiz sent me a bit of history from England! (I must add here, getting surprise packages in the mail never gets old, and I think the husbeast is getting jealous.)

"Complete Home Knitting, Illustrated" by Janet Murray and Jane Koster (?). There's no copyright date I can find, but there's an inscription in the front dated July 1, 1949. There's also a book plate saying it was presented to Dorothy Chilton of the Reid Street Girl's School for exemplary conduct and unselfish service. I love stuff like this. I wonder who Dorothy was, and if she was thrilled with a book of knitting patterns (like I would be), or if she was a kid who did knitting as a chore and would have rather had a bag of jacks or a ball.

As Louiz mentioned in her note to me, clothing rationing in England continued into the 1950's (results of WW2), and in the book there is indeed an entire section entitled "New garments from old". I've got a few other period books that discuss the subject, but it's always interesting to me, and gives a much better idea of what life was like then, than some silly pollitics lesson in history class. Another thing I just noticed, leafing through it again, is another example of how tight things were -- there is no cover page, none of the usual blank pages in front or back of the book. And every page is arranged to use up every inch of space.

It contains a great big whacking amount of patterns, and adjusted for a modern fit (we wear our things a lot more loosely these days), many of them are quite wearable. I've always liked the short-sleeved, tailored sweater for summer dress-up (with a skirt or slacks), and there are several nice ones in here that, at the least, I can use as a starting point to knit my own.

Thanks, Louiz, this is really neat.

The strange, alien being is jumping up and down in her crib... perhaps I should go stun her with a phaser. Excuse me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Anyone trying to help me out by killing 'palmetto bugs' that get into the house, kindly clean up the broken wings and legs after. That way I won't find them by surprise and spend the next five minutes gagging over the wastebasket.

Thank you. That will be all.

Steeked Jacket: Shoulder decreasing part one.

First, before we go any further, we're going to run through decrease methods and some definitions.

You'll need to use matched decreases for this, one leaning right and one leaning left. I suggest using 'knit two together' for the right leaning, and 'slip slip knit' for the left leaning. If you don't know those, or want to review, there are fine directions with streaming video, here. If you have trouble remembering what leans where, think like this: "knit two togetheR leans R", and "sLip sLip knit leans L".

When I am saying which decrease to use, I will tell you to lean them TOWARD or AWAY FROM the center line of the jacket. The center line is the steek, in the front (the center of the front), and in the back is obviously the center column of stitches that would run along your spine if you put it on (the center of the back).

The vertical pattern lines are just that - the vertical lines formed by the dark color in our pattern, as drawn out by the yellow lines on this photo:

The vertical pattern lines are going to work like landmarks.

There will be one stitch that will become what I'm going to call "The Decrease Column", meaning the vertical column that all the other stitches will be decreased into. (I've never heard this term before, that I know of, but it sounds good - obvious. I like obvious terminology.) To illustrate, check out the photo below:

For now, think in columns - vertical stacks of stitches - not horizontal rows. See the column of stitches along the yellow line? (Damn, that's a blurry photo... work with me here.) And see how it terminates in a single stitch on the needle up at the top? And how the other columns, marked by red lines, disappear into it? Okay. The yellow-line column is the Decrease Column. It's gonna squiggle back and forth across the shoulder in the shape of an S. All your decreases will be worked with the decrease column stitch, and one on either side of it. If you're not working a decrease column stitch when you're decreasing, something's wrong.

This is what we're gonna do:


PART ONE: (this is kind of the hardest part; if you figure this out, the rest is down hill) Part one is represented by the aqua line on the photo, and leans TOWARD the center line of the jacket.

Beginning at the steek (the start of the round), knit over to where the body and sleeve stitches meet on the needle. Knit them together, the last stitch of the jacket body and the first stitch of the sleeve. Continue on around and when you get to the last stitch of the sleeve, work a slip, slip knit, so that the last stitch of the sleeve and the first stitch of the body are joined together.

Get how that worked? Both decreases lean toward the center line of the jacket.

Work across the back, and again when you get to the last stitch of the body and the first stich of the sleeve, work a knit two together. (Leans right, toward the center line of the body.) Work the stitches of the sleeve until the last one, and work it and the first stitch of the body as a slip, slip knit. (Leans left, toward the center line of the body.) Continue across until you're back at the steek and have finished the round.

That round establishes where the decrease columns are; the stitches formed by the decreases (there are four of them) form the base of the decrease columns. We want to continue working in this method until we've decreased away the body stitches to the next vertical pattern line. The official directions go like this:

PART ONE OFFICIAL DIRECTIONS: Beginning at steek, knit to one stitch before the decrease column, knit two together. Knit to next decrease column, slip slip knit. Knit to last stitch before decrease column, knit two together. Knit to last decrease column, slip slip knit. Knit to steek. End of round.

DECREASES ARE WORKED EVERY ROUND UNLESS YOU ARE FUDGING SOMETHING. And you only fudge things once. So for part two and part three, you do decreases EVERY round, the whole way up.


FUDGE POINT: If you reach the vertical pattern line with one or two decrease columns, and not others, continue working rounds, only decreasing on the decrease columns that need to 'move' toward the vertical pattern lines, and knitting past decrease columns that are already joined up with the vertical pattern line. This is the only fudge point, so make sure that all four of your decrease columns are on vertical pattern lines before continuing to step two - fudging won't show much here because it's in the arm pit, but anywhere else it will be a zigzag that's pretty obvious.

As Elizabeth Zimmerman put it, we're nibbling up the body stitches with the decreases. Once you get to the vertical pattern line, we basically do the reverse, and nibble up the sleeve stitches. This time the decreases lean AWAY from the center line of the body.


PART TWO: shown on the photo in red, this is the bulk of the decreasing done in this step. Now that you've hopefully got the hang of it from part one, I'll just give the official directions.

PART TWO OFFICIAL DIRECTIONS: Begining at steek, knit across to the decrease column, work a slip slip knit. Knit to last stitch before decrease column, knit two together. Knit to decrease column, slip slip knit. Knit to last stitch before fourth decrease column, knit two together.

I hope you're getting the hang of this by now. See how you're nibbling up the sleeve stitches? Keep on nibbling them up, until you've got one pattern repeat left of the sleeve. The decrease columns will be the vertical pattern lines on either side of the pattern repeat; you should have nineteen sleeve stitches left, including the two decrease column stitches, on each side.


NECK DECREASING: This begins somewhere in the Part Two decreasing section. You will need to make a V-neck by decreasing about eight inches/eighteen cm of stitches. Think in terms of pattern repeats, though, not inches. For most people knitting this jacket, it means decreasing one pattern repeat on each side of the steek, much like you're doing the armhole shaping. For people knitting at a really small gauge, you'll need to decrease one and a half pattern repeats.

For depth of the V-neck, you'll have to decide yourself. For a deep one, start working the neck at the same time as Part Two of the armhole shaping, and decrease on each side of the steek, every other round, until you've decreased away the pattern repeats, then knit straight. For a more shallow V-neck, work three or four inches/four to eight centimeters plain, then begin decreasing at the steek EVERY row until the stitches are decreased away, then work straight.

Because you're decreasing next to the steek, you won't really be able to see the opening until it's cut and laid flat. But the fabric of the jacket will begin to narrow dramatically, so be ready with a shorter circular needle, if you need one.

OFFICIAL NECK DECREASING DIRECTIONS: worked at the same time as the armhole shaping.
FOR A DEEP V NECK: When you begin Part Two of the shoulder shaping, also begin the neck shaping. Using the very first vertical pattern line next to the steek as a decrease column, work a slip slip knit; work to last two stitches of the round - a pattern stitch and the vertical pattern line, and knit two together. Work this decreasing every other round until neckline width has been reached, then knit straight.
FOR A SHALLOW V NECK: Work several inches/centimeters of the Part Two shoulder shaping before beginning the neck shaping. Using the very first vertical pattern line next to the steek as a decrease column, work a slip slip knit; work to last two stitches of the round - a pattern stitch and the vertical pattern line, and knit two together. Work this decreasing EVERY round until the neckline width has been reached, then knit straight.


PART THREE: Shown in yellow on the photo, we just switch directions again, and nibble up HALF a pattern repeat of the body, decreasing away stitches until we reach the next vertical pattern line. Obviously we're going to lean the decreases TOWARD the center line of the body again, like we did for the first part.

PART THREE OFFICIAL DIRECTIONS: Beginning at steek, knit to last stitch before decrease column, knit two together. Knit to next decrease column, slip slip knit. Knit across back to the last stitch before the decrease column, knit two together. Knit to last decrease column, slip slip knit. Knit to end of round and bind off steek stitches.


Once you've gotten decreased over to the next vertical pattern line, the fun begins.

This is the next-to-last step of the knitting directions; after that it's just finishing, and you're done.

I hope to hell this all made sense. If not, e-mail me. Please.

You guys need to nag more.

Remember last week when I asked if anyone needed directions on how to do the Steeked Jacket shoulder decreases NOW? And no one answered?

Uh huh. Then, today, I'm reading Cindy's Blog, and she says she can't wait until I post the directions so she can work on the Jacket.

Dude. You are supposed to nag. E-mail me daily, going "Are they up yet?" until I get off my duff and you have the directions. Forget polite. Polite is nice, but it won't get you the directions fast. NAG!!!

...anyway, as soon as I click the "publish" button, I'm going to get to work on the graphics for the directions, and hope to have them up by the end of the evening. (For me that's about four hours from now. If all goes well, it's plenty of time. If all does not go well, I will start drinking martinis and the directions will go up tomorrow.) I've been brooding over exactly how I'm going to explain this for MONTHS, so hopefully I will communicate it decently.

IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, NAG!! THIS MEANS YOU! other news, I saw the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie today. Utterly ridiculous. Even for a movie that has squid men as characters. The special effects kicked ass, though.

Right. Graphics. Explanations. On that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A jumble of unrelated stuff.

Remember this?

The orange shawl from Victorian Lace Today? I'm still working on it, when my hands get tired of wrestling Lopi for the Steeked Jacket. (Knitting phase of the Steeked Jacket almost done here. Much excitement. Directions need written.)

This of course does not include the lace I need to do for another wedding in August, or the State Fair entry due October 1. I'm considering doing a pattern from Victorian Lace Today, with cotton thread, to enter in the State Fair. We'll see.

The cat has lost her mind.

The flower is actually the lid from a toy chest sort of thing belonging to The Baby. The Baby pulls the lid off and scoots around the floor on it for a while. Then she gets bored and abandons it. THEN the cat moves in. After the cat sits on it a while, she can hear her tail flipping, and begins chasing it. Eventually she collapses in exhaustion, or The Baby shoves her away to scoot the flower around on the floor some more.

It's like living in a circus.

It's rained here, off and on, for the last two days, cooling things down a bit. Everything has turned bright green and the humidity has skyrocketed. I've been looking for a good topographical map of the area, so people can get a good idea of the swamp I'm living in, but so far, no luck. Suffice it to say, I live in a swamp.

And The Baby is working on perfecting The Piggy Snoot Face:

Not quite there yet, but she's getting better.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yet more anxiety and amusement all rolled into one.

Remember the doily I knit for a wedding present? This one?

Uh, yeah. The wedding was last weekend. What I did NOT know, was that most of the groom's family is Mennonite. The Mennonites are related to the Amish, and shun the technology of the modern world. Meaning, they still SEW AND KNIT THEIR OWN CLOTHING. I just sent off a doily I chose for easy, quick knitting, to one of the last groups of people in the country who still takes knitting seriously as an everyday way to dress their children.

And I chose the pattern to be easy.

Urgh. Hopefully I will never meet these people.

Yesterday sure sucked.

The picnic sucked. I didn't know anyone, the food was blah, and the baby was a monster. They had a bounce house (one of those air-filled trampoline thingies) and we put her in and pretended she was in a cage.

She wasn't, of course, the little booger, and eventually got out. We took her to the beach, which was also near the picnic area. She had her own little game plan, and would play in the sand until she got hot, then toddle down into the water and sit in it until she cooled off, then back up to the beach to play in the sand some more. We let her do what she wanted, so long as it didn't involve going into deep water or throwing sand at us.

She saw other kids swimming (all older than her), and decided SHE needed to learn how; in the photo she's got her face in the water, blowing bubbles, trying to figure out what the trick was.

As for knitting, I took along the Steeked Jacket and knit not one stitch on it. I was too busy chasing the Baby, who was the only one who had a good time. She has also, incidentally, learned to lay on her back in bed and kick the wall until the entire house seems to rattle. She's doing that, right now. The joy of nap time.

I'm getting serious about finishing the Steeked Jacket, really. I hope to do the shoulder straps today and the back of the neck tomorrow. On the 15th I'll be ordering new yarn (the first new yarn of the year! woohoo!) and I want to be able to dig right into it when it arrives.

I know, I know. I've got other stuff to finish, too. I'm not gonna think about it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Reader SOS.

Ellen in Indy left me a comment with this appeal for advice:

hi, julie --

i'm knitting a yoked raglan by elizabeth zimmerman's method. i've done many plain yokes before and usually things work out well.

this time, however, i tried it on about 3 inches shy of completion and bad news: its a bit too tight for some one my age who isn't trying too hard to be a `'sexy senior citizen." it needs about 2 inches of ease.

the yarn is 3-ply 100% hand-dyed uruguayan wool (not superwash) which i bought through a coop. it's a heavy worsted knitted on a 9 circular needle. i have two 220-yard balls left. it's green and black, not the light to dark green i expected from the web site, and looks rather like camo, but that's ok. i still love the yarn.

i have four choices, as i see it (though if you or readers have other ideas, bring 'em on, please):

1. give the sweater to someone smaller. that would be my daughter. she doesn't like wool sweaters that well.

2. lose 20 lbs (i need to anyway . . . !)

3. frog the whole thing down to its components, and then frog and re-knit the body, join the pieces and knit it to completion.

4. complete the sweater, pretend there's a steek, baste the front, cut it and knit on a band to turn it into a cardi.

i know free advice is said to be worth what you pay for it. well, i pay attention to your blog regularly. does that count? --grin--

My advice is, finish the sweater, wash it, and try it on again. That alone might make the fibers relax enough to give you the ease you need. If that doesn't work, then you can either tear back and start over, or make it into a cardigan, depending on how well the wash works out. I would probably tear out and start over, but then I just finished knitting myself a cardi. (If you do tear out and start over, make sure to take a good gauge measurement first from your very large and very accurate 'swatch' that you just washed.)

Anybody else have any ideas?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Taking something off the needles.

(This is for Kris The Noob, in the comments. She seems to think it was a stupid question, but it seemed pretty intelligent to me.)

Specifically, she'd heard of people taking things off knitting needles to get an idea of size, and wondered how to do that. I'm also gonna throw in a comment or three on how effective it is.

In the end, all you do is pull the knitting off whatever needle it is on, smooth it out on a flat surface, and see what it looks like. It's a way to get an idea if shaping is working, stranded color is laying flat, that kind of thing. If you are using a 'sticky' yarn like wool or mohair, that stays where you put it and takes effort to pull out (the Icelandic lopi I'm using for the Steeked Jacket is a fine example), by golly you can just pull it right off and then put it back on again.

If, however, you are working with the other 95% of yarns that will unravel if you look at them funny, you should thread the stitches onto a smooth piece of yarn or thread with a needle (a sewing/darning one) as you take them off the knitting needle. Same idea as when you put stitches on a holder, and use a spare bit of yarn to do it. Make sure that there's enough extra length on your waste yarn so that when you spread out your knitting, the stitches don't fall off the other end. The waste yarn will keep everything from unravelling, and you can put the stitches back on the knitting needle that way.

I hope this makes sense. I'm drugged again.

A few things to keep in mind when doing this:

A lot of yarns change character dramatically when washed, so you may not be getting an accurate idea of size, even after taking it off the needles and laying it out flat. (If you don't believe me, check out my gauge swatch example, here.) Wool yarns, cable patterns, and ribbings are particularly bad for HUGE shifts in gauge, but nearly everything changes a little bit after washing. (If you're thinking, you can measure your gauge swatch before washing and after, figure the percentage of growth, and then use those figures to estimate what's going on when you knit your project. That works.)

Stranded color will often be lumpier before washing, and then smooth out after a decent blocking. So unless your stranded knitting is HORRENDOUSLY puckered, taking it off the needles won't tell you much. And if it's horrendously puckered, you can tell while it's ON the needles.

It's only worth the bother if your project is mashed up on the needle to begin with, like if you're knitting a sweater forty inches around on a twenty-four inch circular needle. If you can spread out the width of the fabric you're creating across a couple double-points or a really long straight needle, there's no point in taking it off the needle unless you want to try it on. And even then you can often fake it - I've tried on socks when they were on double-points before, and sleeves.

So, taking knitting off the needles is useful. Except for when it's not.

How's that for helpful?

The year's first heat advisory.

But not the last. I'm not sure how it's done overseas, or up north (feel free to drop me a comment and tell me - I'm weirdly curious about such things), but here, the National Weather Service issues heat advisories on days when the heat and humidity are so bad that they literally fear people will die of it. Normally it's older folks who are at risk, or folks with compromised circulatory systems, but a roaring case of heat stroke isn't all that hard to get in this kind of weather, regardless of age or health. In fact, I wonder if the fitness people who ignore heat advisories are more at risk than the rest of us, just because they think they're too healthy to worry about it.

It's 93 degrees F here (34 C), with a 99F (37 C) heat index when you allow for the 45% humidity. I went to work out this morning, and after, I spent perhaps four minutes cooling down and stretching out. A fellow worker-outer made a polite comment about how I'd live to regret that, and I pointed out that it was like a sauna outside, and promised I'd take the whole cool-down-and-stretch thing more seriously when the temperature dropped below body temperature. She hadn't thought of it, but after I poitned it out, she agreed with a laugh.

Since I have a lot of international readers and one or two of them might find it interesting, here's why it's hotter than a summer in hell here:

The Gulf Stream. (Photo from here. There is a wobbly black X on the coast approximately where I live, that I added to the picture.) I was gonna just say "Bloody damned Gulf Stream is killing us", but it occurred to me that a lot of readers in, say, Asia or Australia would have no real idea what I was talking about. So there's a photo of it for you. The Gulf Stream is a current of warm (hot) water moving north from the tropics, along the coast of North America. It accounts for milder-than-average winters all along the coast, even up into New England and Canada; temperatures will vary widely between coast and inland. But we pay a hell of a price for those mild winters. The same current makes the summers hotter than the tropics can be (depending), and that same warm current drags hurricanes up along the coast every summer. (You can understand just looking at the photo, why hurricances survive so far north in the Atlantic, when they would never survive the cold waters of the Pacific at the same latitude.)

When I lived in Hawaii, which is almost into the tropics, the islands were surrounded by much deeper, much cooler water, and the temperature NEVER got as hot as it is here today; anything much over 80 F (26 C) was considered really warm. (Unless of course you were up a mountain somewhere or in the inland desert on the Big Island.)

Needless to say, I'm dyin'. I've only been out enough to run to the gym and back, and the husbeast is out now because he's a lunatic and hates staying at home. I can't decide if we should let the baby out later for a round in her pool, or not.

Anyway, there's your unneeded meterology lesson for the day. I hope, wherever you are, it's either cooler, or you're in air conditioning.

Friday, June 08, 2007

You're cutting your knitting??!!?

In the interest of explanatory photos, as I've worked on this sweater I've been having the husbeast snap pictures for me. Usually it's just a matter of saying "now, please", and he'll get up and stand behind me, take a couple shots of my hands, and that's that.

Tonight, he was well down a glass of Jack, having worked eighteen hours yesterday and fourteen hours today. I was cutting the steek when I said "now, please" and he looked over and gasped and said "You're cutting your knitting?"

I can't believe he's never seen me cut a steek before - it seems like half my sweaters have steeks in them somewhere - but now that I think on it, I'm not sure he has. So he marveled at my bravery and skill while he took the photo, and remained impressed until I accidentally cut a float on the back of the jacket and had to fix it. (Belatedly I remembered I was on a buncha painkillers for my wrist. Whoops. I should do a tutorial on fixing cut floats, shouldn't I? Not that any of you would be dumb enough to cut a steek while drugged.) Anyway, after that, he wasn't quite so impressed.

In my efforts to simplify the rest of this process as much as possible, I've decided that it will be easier to do the back-and-forth stuff of the shoulder straps and back of the neck AFTER the steek is cut. So that's how we'll do it: shoulder decreasing, cut steek, shoulder straps, back of neck, button band, and hems. Oh, and arm pit grafting. That's all that's left of the jacket, and I hope to have the shoulder decreasing directions up by the end of the weekend.

Ah, the weekend. Guess what we get to do. Remember last year's shop picnic with the husbeast's fellow Navy guys? The one where they fed the alligators? Yeah. That's on again for this Sunday. I'll make sure to take photos of the stupidity this time, respect for privacy be damned.

As for Saturday, that's Knit in Public day. Uh, anyone know if there's somewhere in Charleston doing that? Anywhere?

Sekhmet likes the steeked jacket, too:

Anybody want a cat? Cheap?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Strikke-along news.

There's been some buzz in the comments, so I'll say it out loud: The Strikke-Along is still on for fall, probably October. To join in, pick a project that's Scandinavian. Heck, buy Scandinavian yarn and knit anything at all. The requirements are pretty much non-existant. I intend to knit something out of "Norsk Strikkedesign", but other patterns, Latvian mittens, Bohus sweaters, it's all good. Something to keep in mind and start budgeting for if you can't blow big bucks on yarn with no notice. (Like me.) I'm hoping it won't take us all six months to get through that one. Unlike the Steek Along. Good grief.

There's also a fun link I keep forgetting to give you. A German guy was wondering what his cat got up to all day, so he rigged a camera around the cat's neck, timed to take photos every so often. The home page is here; you can get to the cat's travelogue from there. It's fun stuff.

More knitting. Heeheehee.

I've finished the regular decreasing and am about 1/4 of the way across the first shoulder strap. Now that I look at it, it might be better to wait until I finish all the decreasing to write directions for it; the pictures will be clearer. Is anyone waiting for decreasing directions RIGHT NOW, or can you wait another week for them? I'll still present the directions in two sets, the regular decreasing and the shoulder straps/back of neck, but with it all done it's a lot easier to look at it and get the feel for what you're doing.

In the mean time, I've begun wondering if the arms are too long:

A little too long is fine; long sleeves mean warm hands, and this is intended as an outdoor jacket. Super-long sleeves are an old trick used by the ancient Chinese and the Medieval Russians. They dealt with colder climates than I ever will, and if it worked for them, it'll work for me. But really really long sleeves are going to result in a tutorial on how to shorten them; the ancient Chinese and the medieval Russians never had to drive a car. Oy.

When I took a photo of my knitting chair the other day, someone commented on a book that was in the corner of the photo: The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke.

If you remember the documentary series "Connections" from the nineties, that's the same guy. It's the history of science and technology, and an easy read. All in layman's terms. They should be using this book as a text in colleges, or making it required reading in Western Civ. It's that good. Basically it's the tale of how we got to where we are -- all the useful stuff history has to learn, with none of the stupid crap we don't need. (I love James Burke.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I finished the decreasing to the shoulders. This is the next clump of directions for the Steeked Jacket, and the goal for tomorrow is to write them up. Funny how fast knitting goes when you actually sit down and do it. (Shock. Awe. Amazement.) At the moment, I'm trying to figure out the best way to describe how to do the directional decreases so they follow the line of the pattern:

Sometimes I amaze myself.

Two steps left in the jacket: Shoulder straps/back of neck, and finishing. That's it. We're almost there.

I've also been trying for a year now to get a good photo of The Baby's Ornery Look. I succeeded on that, too:

I want to stay up all night doing the shoulder straps, but if I do, my hands will sieze up. Will self-control win the day?

I doubt it.