Sunday, September 30, 2007

Move along; nothing to see here.

On the knitting front, I have done something... well. I alternate between being thrilled and telling myselve I've completely lost my mind. I'll post photos tomorrow, when I'm more on top of things, and I've, ahem, finished the gauge swatch.

The husbeast is starting to give me That Look, the one I got last year right before the state fair, where he sighs and shakes his head and kind of snickers.

-... -

I saw the doctor on Friday and my thyroid is allegedly normal. I'm thinking normal is another word for 'not bad enough to take medication'. So for now I'll continue with the kelp. The weight loss hasn't continued, but I've been out of the gym for a week due to my knees.

We're tinkering with my chronic pain medication again (urgh), but this time we're going back to drugs I've taken in the past instead of trying new ones. So I should have a handle on it. But at the moment I'm getting used to them, which means hiccups, weird tastes in my mouth, sleeping 18 hours a day, sarcasam (not that you can tell from other times) and general growlyness. Plus, they put me on a medication for my knees that I'll take for just another week or so... I'm told to watch out for bleeding gums, and I think I'm allergic to it.

Fun times.

Since I'm in a vegetative state today, how about some photos? I'll do a montage.

Friday, September 28, 2007

HAH! I am vindicated yet again!

Rather, the ancient Hawaiians are. (I just believed them.)

Among other claims of the Hawaiians, along with reaching South America and like that, they have said that for many years they traded back and forth with the other islands of the Pacific and weren't ever isolated, as outsiders think. It wasn't a one-way trip to Hawaii, it became a colony of a large sea-going civilization spanning most of the Pacific. Populations moved around, and they traded, and took plants and animals to different places.

Yeah, right, said anthropologists studying them, in regards to trade and regular travel between Hawaii and the rest of Polynesia.

This week, Australian researchers found trade goods (adzes - tools - made of a very specific kind of stone found only in Hawaii), 2500 miles away from where it was created. Back across the Pacific, just like the Hawaiians said.

Article here.



There have been some comments, the last few days, about the pile of knitting books I have listed over at Ravelry. (Forty something, at last count.) Remember, I've been knitting for twenty-odd years, so I've had a lot longer to accumulate books than some of you guys. Plus, I can only add the books that are already in the Ravelry library. I just went and did a quick count; I've got about a hundred and ten knitting books sitting on my shelves, with another ten (at least) scattered through the house.

However. Today's book is supposed to be for sewing.

"Make your own Japanese Clothing", by John Marshall.

Back to our kimono discussion of about a week ago, I'm still not sure that a proper kimono can be knitted. But if you wanna try, this book has all the directions you need to knit (or sew) at least ten variations of kimono. Someone in the comments mentioned wanting to make some, and for that, I'd suggest this book. Knitting or sewing, this one contains all the info you need.

-... -

Anyone not joining Ravelry, I have a suggested project for you: Get out a piece of paper and list everything you've ever knit, and when. Or at least try to. I'm in the process of doing that while adding said projects to Ravelry, and it's been really educational. So far I've learned:

-Up until my accident in 1998, I knit nothing but lace. After the accident, I switched over to knitting clothing, almost entirely sweaters and cardis, with a smattering of lace for presents (wedding) and blankets. BLANKETS. I knit THREE blankets when getting back in the groove, after my accident. Can you imagine?

-Not counting the insanity that was 2006 (I think I'm going to start blaming it on baby hormones) and 2007, I have never worked on more than one project at a time. I would cast on, knit to the end, and move on to the next. Obviously with this method, I had a solid record of finishing things, although occasionally I would get frustrated and chuck something aside (including the unfinished Dale of Norway from 2003 that lives in the closet). I set my record for fastest sweater ever, during this period: a Ram's Head Cardigan (similar to the Steeked Jacket, but with more steeks) in Reynolds Lopi Lite, on size eight needles. Knit it in three weeks.

-The green sweater I'm working on? I had to rate the pattern and the yarn when I entered it in, and I realized that not only do I hate the yarn, but I think the pattern sucks, too. Is it any wonder I'm less than motivated??

-All the knitting I finish, these days, goes to other people. All the 'me stuff' gets chucked aside so I can work on presents.

I've got a few things up my sleeve (only one sleeve, 'cause I never knit two) to solve this scattered attention span problem.

Today I'm going to drag out some really old projects and take photos; tomorrow I'll post them for you guys to snicker over. Included, two of the three blankets (looking back, you know, every one of those three blankets pisses me off, for different reasons). And a shawl I knit myself, that the cat sleeps on.

-... -

Season opener of Stargate Atlantis is on tonight. If they kill off another character, I'm going to go berserk. (And I've got a bad feeling.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sekhmet, you freak.

Still drugged. Babblebabblebabble.

And the Blue's Clues thing.

People were asking what happened to the old host, Steve. Apparently he left to pursue a career in pop music. There are several urban legends going around about him getting fired for cocaine abuse, but they aren't true. Steve himself claims that he left because he didn't want to lose his hair on children's television (he has male-pattern baldness).

What's he up to now? Doing regular gigs, mostly, but he's on this season of "Jack's Big Music Show", doing a heavy metal song about groundhogs. You can watch it by clicking here, and then clicking on this icon:

Anyone who can write a heavy metal children's song about groundhogs, and work in the word 'herbivore' and make it rhyme, is a guy who should be respected, if you ask me.

The new guy's name is Joe. He can't sing for shit. Can't draw, either.

Babble babble babble.


There was a question in the comments about how I was doing, since my fall last Saturday. I thought I was doing fairly well, but then I went to the gym last night (stupid, stupid, stupid) and probably re-injured something or interfered in the healing process or whateverthehell, and now I'm in a lot of pain today. In fact, I just told the husbeast, the last time I felt this bad, I'd totaled a motorcycle and was waiting to have orthopedic surgery.

You know that scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", where Marion gets irritated and asks Indy where he DOESN'T hurt, and he points to a little spot on his elbow and says "HERE!", yeah. That's me.

The Goober had her official two-year-old checkup today. She's 36 inches/80 cm tall and weighs 34 pounds/15 kg. I give you this info so you can imagine the fun time I had wrestling her into the Jeep and back out again. Twice. (She's off the charts for growth, and perfectly healthy. The nurse was marveling at her vocabulary.) We're taking part in a medical convention known as "Family Practice", meaning the whole herd of us has the same doctor. (This can be very good, like when everybody gets sick with the same germ - only one appointment needed.) So while I was there, the doc asked if I had any other questions, meaning about the Goober, and I said, well, yes, but it has nothing to do with the baby. Long story short, I mooched some anti-inflammatories off him, and I see him tomorrow to discuss my knees, my thyroid, and probable rotator cuff surgery (oh yeah, have I mentioned that? I've ripped the shit out of my shoulder, carrying the Goober around).

Nothing but good times ahead.

OTHERWISE, everything is ticking along smoothly. I've been frolicing through Ravelry and have learned something very interesting: I never finish projects for myself. Everyone else gets stuff knit for them, start to finish, but I wind up ditching my own projects to make something for someone else. (Yes. I realize every last one of you reading this is sitting there going "No SHIT, you fucking moron!" but allow me my grand revelations, if you please.) I also realized the other day that I'm almost hoping I need shoulder surgery so I don't have to worry about the Christmas deadlines. That's... really sick. I need to sit down with Dolores and have a couple cigarettes and see some male strippers and blow off some steam. (I may have found a good alternative to that, but more later.)

So that's my life. How about yours?

*This post brought to you by the wonders of painkillers. BabbleBabbleBabbleBabble.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kelp and Ravelry and children, oh my.

(If you don't care about kelp, fine, just leave me a comment with your Ravelry name.)

Someone asked, in the comments, how soon the kelp would kick in and they would feel a difference. It depends a lot on how you take it. (And if you've a thyroid problem in the first place, but we've been over that.) I felt it in about a week, but I did the Napalm Method - started with four a day and bumped up to six, two days later when I didn't get hives. But I've taken kelp before and was pretty sure I wasn't allergic. If you wanna be responsible about it, take two a day for a while, then up it to four for a while, etc. Cut back if you get lower back pain or hives or any other obvious side effects. You should notice a difference within a week or two.

For those curious, I'm also taking Dandelion root, Burdock root, and Milk Thislte for the weight loss. Dandelion and Milk Thistle help the liver function smoothly, and in the case of Milk Thistle, repairs mild damage to the liver (they also both act as mild laxatives at the regular doses). Burdock helps the body get rid of environmental pollutants, including heavy metals like lead. I figure if my body's burning off fat, it's creating waste products and the faster they're out of my body the better. These won't help if you're not doing much else, but if you're already eating right and exercising, they can help. For dosages, read the packages. It should be on there.

-... -

I am officially on Ravelry. I got the invite at eleven PM last night. I created an account, fished around for a while, and was still in bed by midnight. Someone give me a cookie for that one. Anyway, I need your help:

I AM ON RAVELRY AS SAMURAIKNITTER. Please drop me a note in the comments, or on Ravelry, and identify yourselves!! Ideally, I'd like to 'friend' all my blog readers, so I can keep y'all straight. So far, I have one friend, and it's a regular reader I found by accident (figure the odds) while poking around last night.

At any rate, wow. Ravelry is very cool. I will say what everyone else has said - Imagine how great it will be when everyone has joined, and all the photos and projects are added. Right now there are a lot of missing photos, etc. As it is, there are very neat groups (I'm thinking Fair Isle and Dolores Devotees, for now) and clicking through everyone's projects is very nice. Including the Ughs. Ughs are mistakes, and they're funny, because just about everything I saw there, was something I've done myself.

As a designer, what I love most is seeing how everyone has taken someone else's design and made it their own, with yarn choices and our usual 'bit here, bit there' method of tweaking things. Someone knit Alice Starmores "Henry VIII" with only two colors, and you know what? It looks fantastic. (They knit it with Knitpics yarn. I bet Alice is pissed, if she knows about it.) I never would have thought of two colors. But there you go.

-... -

As for the Goober, we're going to be experimenting this week with occasional daycare. Very occasional, but I need a place I can drop her once in a while, particularly for doctor's appointments. She's getting too big and too opinionated to take her everywhere with me. (Besides, she should have more fun playing with other kids, than sitting in a doctor's office with me.)

I shot a short video last night of her that the husbeast and I found hilarious; I'm going to try uploading it. Sorry for the bad lighting, etc etc. If you turn it up real loud you can hear Goober squeals and parental snickering.

We'll see how this works. I doubt it'll happen often, but it's worth a try.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rest assured.

I will keep blogging. From what I've seen so far, Ravelry is a great resource for people who use their blogs to keep track of what they're knitting, and will probably take the place of many of those types of blogs. (This is in no way meant as criticism. I use my blog that way too, and if it's ALL I used it for, I'd dump it like a hot rock and just use Ravelry.) However. I use my blog for a lot of other stuff, not the least for keeping my writing skills ticking along while I vegetate at home with the Goober. (Though, now that I think on it, this writing style is hardly going to get me an A the next time I'm called upon to write a research paper.) It wasn't until I started keeping it, that I realized how useful it was. Do you realize thanks to my obsessive detailing of the cookie-baking mania last year, I can now figure out what someone is talking about when they say "bake those macaroon things again" ?

Anyway. I'm not gonna disappear. I promise. Really. If the gym didn't do me in, nothing will. Believe me, the gym has been a BIG lifestyle change for me. An hour a day spent exercising and driving to and from the gym... Who'd have thought I would ever see the day??

Oh, and my knees are doing way better. Marked improvement every day, except for the road rash on my right knee, and even it is slowly improving. I'll probably be back to working out tomorrow. Have I mentioned that Friday I see my doctor for a torn rotator cuff? If it isn't one thing, it's the same thing, over again.


-You signed up on July 16, 2007
-You are #17571 on the list.
-142 people are ahead of you in line.
-18048 people are behind you in line.
-48% of the list has been invited so far

So I'm gonna hang over the computer, pouncing on every e-mail, in breathless anticipation... to you guys next year. Or so.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The short-row gusset thingie.

I did finish it and fix it. It was a two step process; I gave up on having the stitch pattern 'work' and went back later and fixed it. Here you can see it before fixing:

There are two ways to fix stuff like that. You can unravel the whole area (which in my case was about twenty stitches wide), put the stitches on a needle five or ten rows back (or however many rows it takes to get beyond the problem), and re-knit the area. That's the fastest way. Or, you can run down one stitch column at a time and use a crochet hook to pick the stitches back up again, doing knit or purl as needed. (The 'hook' method won't work with cables or lots of decreases/increases. FYI.) Because I was using VERY slippery yarn and there were short rows in there, I used the one stitch at a time method. That way, if a stitch got away from me, it was only ONE STITCH, instead of a huge swathe of them.

It took two and a half hours, but it's fixed now. Still a little ripply, but it should block out.

Just over halfway done, with one week left in the month. I should have known better. Two-year-olds and major deadlines don't mix too well.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Darned kid.

Try to have a pity party and feel sorry for yourself, and what happens?

You get laughed at over the screen of your laptop.

Then the kid goes and tries on all your shoes:

And before you know it, you're wrapping the kid up in packing materials, laughing all the while.

Bloody, buggering, pig-fucking hell.

Yesterday was a bad day of epic proportion.

First I fell in the parking lot of Target, badly enough that all the people standing around went "Oooooooh!" and ran over to help me up. (Very nice people. That part was okay.) I smashed the crap out of my patellar tendon on my left knee, and scraped the crap out of my right knee. While tearing out both knees of my jeans. So now I'm gimping around the house like I'm eighty, which is SO not fun when you're dealing with a two-year-old who likes to run up, slam into your legs, and give you a hug. If my knee is still bothering me Friday when I see my doc, I'll ask for an x-ray. Otherwise, I'm going to wait and see what happenes. Nothing less than a sucking chest wound is getting me into an ER on a weekend. (I should be safe unless I trip and fall on a knife, which I wouldn't say is impossible, with the way things have been going.)

Then I woke up this morning and realized that the scrape was infected, which led to scrubbing it out with soap and water. This is known as 'road rash', by the way, road scrape with dirt and gravel in it. When I broke my hand, I had occasion to have my road rash treated in the ER, which meant a nurse scrubbed it out with a nail brush and betadine. I remember that for the duration of the srubbing, it hurt worse than my multpile fractures that needed pinned together. But it never got infected.

But I digress. Where was I?

Right. Whining about my bad day.

Since I was immobile, I thought I might as well work on the green sweater thing. So I did. I fucked it up. I'm going to finish knitting the gusset, then go back and fix it, which will mean reworking about forty columns of stitches with a crochet hook. (Sometimes being a skilled knitter means knowing how to fix crap. Damn it.)

Then I realized that Knit Picks sent me the wrong damn yarn in my last order. It was supposed to be superwash, and it was regular merino. I can't knit baby clothes with regular merino. No new mother needs to deal with handwashing anything.

I started digging through the stash, finding something suitable, and in the process, knocked over a jar full of knitting stuff - needles, hooks, stitch markers, scissors, etc - and it went EVERYWHERE in the yarn closet and I will probably still be finding damn stitch markers when we move out.

That's when I gave up and went to bed.

I'm going to just sit here now, and try not to move. I think this concludes my whining.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Color theory for children.

The Goober's favorite kid's show is Blue's Clues. (Which works for me because it's been on the air forever and I'm not stuck watching reruns every day.) In all the endless stream of episodes, there's an entire half hour devoted to color theory. You've gotta love a kid's show that does color theory. Anyway, there's a song on how to mix colors - they go as far as tertiary colors, which boggles my mind. And there's a really slick color wheel at the end of the song. Very clever. Click here, then click on the icon that looks like this:

NOTE: The song is done on streaming video, so I wouldn't bother clicking if you're on dialup. And usually, they change the songs every week or two on the Noggin web site, so if you're reading this in archive form, the song probably isn't there any more. Sorry.

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha.

Remember the post office that ate my shipment of yarn last spring? I hadn't been back since, but instead shipped from the next town over or the Air Force base. But I was in a hurry today and stopped to mail a package. When I asked how late they were open today, the woman helping me went into immediate, full rant about how there had been 'complaints about customer service' and they were now open until five. Every day. Including Saturday. I imagine what happened was, after a million complaints, the post master investigated and realized that they opened an hour later than they arrived in the morning (about nine AM) and closed an hour earlier than they left (four PM) and laid down the law.

Hahahahaha. Now they actually have to do their jobs. Poor babies.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I got a couple books and some other fun stuff today. It's been a while since I bought knitting books (go, me), so I'm inordinately excited.

The best part? A tour poster from Dolores' musical revue.

Next payday I'm getting it framed. It's going on my office/studio wall, where Dolores can watch over me, reminding me that knitting is fun, not a source of stress. If you want a poster of your own, it's available, here (along with a bunch of other fun stuff). If you aren't aquainted with Dolores, hie on over to The Panopticon and read up. She's a hoot.

More fun. Books! Book one, "Knitted Kimono", by Vicki Square.

I have an ongoing interest in knitted kimono. You see, I love the design concept of them. But they're almost impossible to knit properly. Though it kills me to admit it, there are some things knitting will not do, and the soft, loose, drape and flutter of formal kimono is one of those things. Usually. But this book is great. It gives a good bit of history in easily-digested bits; it handles the design limitations as well as possible. And the details of the patterns in the book show that she really gets it - she goes so far as to put a central back seam in one of the more formal patterns. (Central back seams are considered good luck.)

One of these days I'm going to do an entire blog post about knitting and kimono. But at any rate, this book is the best I've seen on the subject.

The second book? "The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters" by Lynne Vogel.

This is a design book. So if you don't wanna know about design, it's kind of pointless to get it. But if you ARE interested, oh, yeah, this is good. For the most part, it's kind of a retread of "Designing Knitwear" by Debbie Newton, but there's a lot more concentration on yarn and how yarn affects the construction of fabric. It's also got a lot of really good tips from women who have obviously knit a LOT of sweaters; stuff like using the back of the sweater you've already knit to predict gauge and slope on the sleeves. And because this book was written by committee by a bunch of spinners and hand-dyers, there is a bunch of information on using variegated yarns. In fact, it's got the best discussion I've ever seen on how to use variegated yarns effectively in garments. There's also a discussion on designing Aran sweaters. Good stuff.

In other news, I have spotted one of my patterns in the wild! Over at FriendSheep, Joanna is trying to wear all hand-crafted clothing for a week. Today, she's got A Scarf For Ally wrapped around her neck! Look at that! This has definitely made my day.

...and I still haven't redone the short-row back gusset thingie. But I did unravel it. That's something. Isn't it?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A fine, fine day.

There is a tropical storm parked over my house.

Sekhmet, that fucker, is gnawing on my ankle as I type. I'd take a photo, but the camera is in the other room. She looks like a furry, demented python with whiskers.

The Goober has found her favorite book, "That's not my kitten", which I had hidden. (I need to do a better job of it, next time.) We have read it three times and she wants to read it a fourth, and to make that desire known, keeps dropping it on my computer keyboard.

Sekhmet is still biting my ankle. We have a theory in this house that all cats are insane because they have hair between their toes and their eyelids are furry. Think about it. Wouldn't you be insane if your eyelids were furry?

And the book just hit my keyboard again.

Remember the gusset-thingie in the green sweater? The one done with short-rows I was trying not to think about? Well. I got it about one-quarter done yesterday, and realized it was done wrong. (Short rows in pattern. Arg.) So I've gotta tear it out and start over. The good news is, when I get frustrated with the body, I mindlessly knit on the edging, and it's over half done:

I'm tying in those dark pink strings every fifty rows, so I don't have to go back and count from the beginning every time I turn around. When the edge is done, I'll use scissors and clip out the pink strings. Just ignore those baby feet poking into the photo.

So there's the goal list for the day: redo the short-row gusset thingie, and remain sane. I think I've got better odds on the gusset thingie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still married to a crazy man.

The husbeast just paid two dollars to 'buy' a ring tone for my cell phone: The original theme song from Super Mario World. Because he knew it would make me laugh.

The cost of the phone itself? Seventy-five cents. (One of those 'phone for a dollar' deals, where you sign a contract for a year, then with a 25% military discount.)

Crazy. Totally crazy. But I'm laughing.

A not-so-short bit on copyright.

Keep in mind that I'm not a copyright lawyer - I'm a writer and knitter who keeps up on my legal rights and responsibilities. And I'm writing for an international audience, and laws vary. So I'll keep this general. But ultimately, copyright in a legal sense is not what most people believe it to be, and a lot of the rules we knitters adhere to are not, legally speaking, copyright law, but professional courtesy and industry standard. (That's why I often get VERY annoyed when people on knitting message boards shriek about copyright, but that's a rant for another day.)

Copyright was originally developed/invented to keep other people from making money off your ideas. As I recall, it was originally applied to industry - inventions of the indsutrial era, like reducing cylinders and spark plugs. Physical STUFF you could put your hands on and determine easily if there was copying going on. The idea of copyright and/or plagarism in writing didn't come along until the idea of royalties; until then, you were paid a flat fee to produce a work, be it novel, broad side, or even play; you had your pay check, and it didn't matter if people copied it. I suspect no one cared much about copied work or intellectual property (as we call it now) until the 1600s when all of a sudden, amature 'natural scientists' were doing experiments and getting into quite ugly arguments over whose idea was whose. Scientific journals began to be published, to put it all in writing, and the idea of an idea belonging to a single person kind of washed over to writing and music.

That's what the current laws were put in place to deal with; that's ALL they deal with in a planned, coherent sense. At the moment, we are trying to hammer out exactly how we're going to deal with the new crop of problems created by the internet; here in the US this has spawned the DMCA, a well-meaning but ignorant attempt to halt all sharing of copyrighted material and intellectual property across all of the internet. (Yeah. That'll work. Short blurb here.)

What does all this mean for us? Well, the only part of knitting that is currently copyrightable, meaning that it can clearly be labeled your proerpty, and you can prosecute in court over it and if you prove it IS your original work the court will find in your favor, is THE WRITTEN PATTERN. Not the pattern itself, in the sense that any of twenty versions of directions will prodcue the same sweater. No. The actual words and phrasing used to describe the process of knitting that specific sweater that specific way. In that sense, it is the same as writing an article about knitting that contains no pattern at all; it is the person's work, and to copy it is plagarism. That means, legally speaking, I could re-write the pattern for, say, the Baby Surprise Jacket, and it would be my original work. This is a gray area of copyright law, that will eventually result in a lawsuit when a fed up knitter scrapes together the dough for a lawsuit and forces through a precedent that copyrights original knitwear. But so far that hasn't been done.

In the mean time, it's kind of an industry standard to frown upon that kind of thing; people HAVE rewritten the directions to famous sweaters, and have been told politely by the original author to cease and desist or get sued. So far the person committing the fraud has always backed down. But in the case of famous knitters, the industry looks the other way: Brandon Mably swiped Teva Durham's famous fair-isle short rows, made them into stripes instead, and played dumb when people complained about his theft of her idea. I've seen several versions of directions for mobius scarves that don't even mention Cat Bordhi's name. And because the WRITTEN DIRECTIONS are original, even if the technique is not, it's legal. It's bullshit, but it's legal. At least until someone sues over it and makes a new law. (That's how it works in the US, anyway.)

And so we come to copying, which all of us do, consciously or unconsciously, with everything we do. Knitting is grid-based, and has been going on for about a thousand years; it stands to reason that a great many patterns, especially small, repetitive, geometric patterns, have been reinvented, over and over, dozens of times, by people all over the world. Generally, when I come up with something 'new' (like the twisted-stitch pattern I used for the Husbeast Gansey last year), I assume someone else has already done it, because odds are they have. Inspiration also isn't copying; the Gustav Klimt painting that Kaffe Fassett then knitted, isn't a copy. A copy would require paint and canvas. Though I think for many reasons idea sources should be listed, among them good manners and the education of the person reading, it's not legally required.

Then, of course, there are the outright copies. We'd like to think that honest-to-gosh copyright infringement is prosecuted to the full letter of the law, and the person doing the copying has their career end, but rarely is that the case. Just ask Nora Roberts; Janet Dailey, another novelist, ripped off her work and even after Nora prosecuted, Dailey is still publishing with her same publishing house (comments by Nora, here). It's even worse, and harder to prove in knitting. Recently someone was found, selling Knitty patterns (among other free patterns from Berroco and other yarn sites) on e-Bay. The best that the authors could do to rescue their own work was report the seller to e-Bay and demand he quit selling. He did, but I bet he's back, somewhere else, selling someone else's free patterns.

There are ways to trace these things, at least on the internet (the easiest way is to find a unique phrase in your pattern or article, and plug it into Google and see what Google coughs back at you). Whenever I do it, I wind up annoyed, because you land back in that copyright gray area that needs big bucks and lawyers to solve: My history of knitting article is quoted on Wikipedia. They put my name on it and give me credit, so it's not a copyright violation, but I dislike having my work used on Wikipedia. You know what? As the law stands, I'm shit out of luck.

Copyright doesn't give you full rights to your original work forever and ever, so you can control it. Even ideally, all it does is keep other people from profiting by it. That's all.

EDITED TO ADD: A far better example of what copyright will not do, than me and Wikipedia: Paul Simon (the musician) has said openly that he does not like punk music. This led to at least half a dozen remakes of his music by punk bands wanting to shoot him the finger (including the Lemonheads' version of Mrs. Robinson, in my opinion better than Simon's original). As long as the punk bands give credit to Simon as the writer of the music, and pay him a cut of the royalties, there is not a single thing Simon can do to stop them. They are not depriving him of income; they are contributing to it. Too bad, Paul. Welcome to the fucked up world of copyright law.

Plus, for a knitter's view on copyright, head on over to Girl from Auntie. She blogs about knitting industry copyright and ongoing lawsuits. She knows how to knit, too; she's the designer of Rogue.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Good thing I have a hobby.

Not knitting; modular origami.

We had a power outage today, and the Goober and I got a little stir-crazy sitting in the dark. (I didn't want to take her outside because my hand and shoulder are still killing me from taking her out yesterday.) When the in-laws had come down for the Goober's birthday, they had brought a pile of toys, including some giant building blocks to fold up, out of corrugated cardboard. We decided to leave those until a rainy day and not put them together; she had enough toys at the moment.

Today was the rainy day, figuratively speaking. I got the blocks out of the garage and went to put them together. On the right in the photo is what they looked like unfolded. On the left is one folded up. They did include directions, but I don't know how they'd make sense to anyone not used to origami books.

Here's another shot of a brick, for size:

There are three sizes of bricks; that's the smallest. At the moment I've only got about half of them put together. It entertained us both while I had visions of the power staying out past midnight and being unable to finish my Knitty article.

Way back when the Goober was very little (so little I'm surprised she remembers this), the rule in the house was, "If you cry, a bear eats your face." If she fussed, I would get a stuffed bear and make growling noises and rub it (gently) against the Goober's face. She would always wind up laughing. So today, while I was scowling over the power outage and my Knitty article, the Goober whent and got THE SAME STUFFED BEAR (out of a pile of about thirty stuffed animals), and whacked me in the face with it.

I better go finish the article before a bear eats my face. Again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


There is a lively discussion going on about copytright and plagarism in the comments of my "What do you call this?" post. I'm going to do another post, one of these days, about copyright and making money and what you can reasonably prosecute over, but for now, let me say, I think outright copying - of anything - should be a shooting offense. Forget the court system. And I don't care what copyright law says about it, either.

-... -

Friday night, when we got more clothes for the Goober, we went to the outlet mall to do it. (I can't possibly imagine paying full price for kid's clothing.) While we were there, I hit the book outlet. I got this:

That's a one foot/thirty centimeter ruler laid over the cover, to give a clue to size. It weighs ten pounds (five kilos? Twenty kilos? A lot). Here in the US, we call this breed of publishing "Coffee Table Books" - huge, heavy, and full of lots of full-color, two-page photos. Anyone have a different name for it, anywhere else? (Other than 'ridiculous'?) Anyway, I got a really good deal on it, and it's got great photos of a lot of famous archeological sites. Now if I can just find a place to put it. Maybe if a hurricane hits, we can use it to board up a window or patch the roof.

-... -

This one's for Sheepish Annie, who has bought a few pairs of Crocs in the past month or so. The Husbeast took the Goober out a few weeks ago to do some shopping, and while they were out, the Goober spotted a pair of baby-sized Crocs and desperately wanted them. So the Husbeast bought them.

When I got home a couple hours later, the Goober ran to me yelling "WOOK! Mumum! SHOES!" and was delighted to show me that she had a pair of shoes JUST LIKE MINE. (Except the holes in the tops of hers are in the shape of Mickey Mouse. I want some Disney Crocs, darn it.) She's been wearing them in the house as much as possible, and will cry when we take them off at bed time. Then, last week, the Husbeast came home from work and the Goober looked at HIS feet, and said "Oooooh. Boots."

We think we know where to find baby-sized combat boots.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Deadlines 'n stuff.

I'm about fourteen rows away from being halfway done with the green jacket thingie I wanted to knit in the month of September. Since I intend to do nothing but knit most of the day, I may yet hit the halfway point. So I'm calling that close enough; there's a good chance of finishing it, if not this month, then at least by the middle of October. (Then freeing me up to finish the Princess Line Gansey, which is my Strikke-along project.)

My Knitty article is kind of done. Robert Frost once said that a poem isn't finished so much as given up on; I think that goes for prose writing, too. The deadline at Knitty has been moved back to the 17th, though, because the submissions mailbox is full. Yes, FULL. That's not as bad as it first sounds, though, because all those submissions would have attatched photos and charts and other large files taking up space. But I hope all those submissions are patterns, and not articles. Good thing I decided to put off submitting the Mystery Knit until next fall. (Remember the Mystery Knit? I do. It lurks right next to my knitting knest in the living room.)

So, anyway, I'm breathing a little easier. For once.

I'm also getting ready to re-start my Etsy shop; I'll re-list all my unsold yarns in the next couple days (except for Death Warmed Over, which I have accepted will never sell and am giving away), and now that the weather has started to cool, I'll fire up the dye pot and get to work on more yarn. I'm also hoping to try dip-dyeing a knit garment, one of these days soon. If that's successful, I may start taking in custom dye jobs; you knit it in bare wool and send it to me and I dip-dye it for you.

Take a look at this:

Somehow the Goober became a little kid when I wasn't looking. That's not even toddlerhood any more. That's a LITTLE KID. We took her out to get more clothes last night (I am so tired of buying kid clothes; only eleven years to go, if she grows like I did). Those are three T clothes, which means she's a year ahead of average on growth. She's so unusually tall and thin, I finally started thinking and got her capri pants; this way they won't get too short. Plus they're cute. You probably can't tell from the photo, but they've got flowers embroidered on them.

I also got another book, but it's pretty ridiculous and I'll have to post about it tomorrow, after I weigh it. I'm pretty sure it weighs more than the cat.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm married to a crazy man.

...and I'm kind of crazy, myself.

Waaaay back, when we lived in Hawaii, we were at a knife and gun show one afternoon (the one they hold every year at the Blaisdell), and I spotted a knife very similar to the one on the left in the above photo, a pink Spyderco Delicia. I thought it was hysterically funny, because the Navy SEALs that the husbeast worked with carried knives nearly identical, except twice as big, and black. The whole day, I laughed over it, calling it 'the girl knife'. So at the end of the afternoon, the husbeast went and bought it for me. (From The Aloha Melting Pot, the same place I got most of my jewelry when they were at the Stadium flea market.)

I thought having a knife was ridiculous, but I started carrying it and was shocked to find out how handy it was. It made up for a lot of my hand problems; I used it to hack into everything from boxes to bags of pretzels. When I took horticulture class, I used it to graft hibiscus (by the time I left Leeward Community College, a lot of kids in the Hawaiian Studies program had begun carrying variations of my knife, because they'd seen how useful mine was). Then, when we moved from Hawaii back to the mainland, somewhere in the chaos, it disasppeared. Not only was I sad to have lost the knife I used so much, I was sad to lose something with such good memories attatched to it. After hunting for several months through boxes and bags, we finally realized the husbeast had accidentally thrown it away at Christmas, in a pile of wrapping paper. (I'd been using the knife to open my presents.)

He went right out to buy me a new one.

Unfortunately, he couldn't. Spyderco was no longer manufacturing pink knives. (For some reason, they didn't sell. I can't imagine why.) So instead, he bought me the blue one on the right in the photo. So for the last two or three years, I've been carrying a blue knife (it comes in very handy for cutting up food into baby-sized bites), and though I never would have admitted it, I still missed my pink one. The blue knife was darn useful, but it just wasn't as hilariously feminine as the pink one had been. Little did I know, the husbeast had read my mind, and was relentlessly hunting eBay, hoping one would go up for sale. Eventualy, one did, and he snatched it up, just in time for my birthday next month. So now I've got my Girl Knife back.

He won't tell me what he paid for it.

I don't want to know.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The physics story.

By request. (And anyone wanting the dosage or brand of kelp I'm taking, the info is in the comments of the last post. I'm a dumbass. I forgot to include it.)

In my defense, I would like to first point out that my friends and I, through High School, were all too smart for our own good and were always up to something geeky, be it joining the Olympics of the Mind and building a bridge out of toothpicks to support as much weight as possible, or writing horrible parodies of lit class assignments and sneaking them into the school paper without teacher approval, or freezing ice cubes to the cafeteria tables and hiding so we could laugh when the kitchen workers tried to clean them up.

So, fast forward a couple years after high school, and I'm living in Columbus (Ohio) with one of my old High School buddies, who has a degree in drafting and is working as a draftsman while he works on ANOTHER degree in Civil Engineering. I'd dropped out of college and was working for Citibanc, but you probably have gotten the idea around here that I'm smart enough to keep up, most of the time.

One fine afternoon in September (oddly enough), when it was hotter than hell, I blew a tire at 80 mph on the main highway, and thanks to my own awareness of physics and mechanics I managed to get to the side of the road without being run over by one of the many semi trucks around me. (The trucker who stopped to help me said it was one of the nicest bits of driving he'd ever seen, and was boggled that a 22 year old girl dressed like a banker had pulled it off.) Instead of trying to change a tire at the side of a major highway with semis going past at 80+ mph, I had the car towed back to my apartment. Getting home, I changed into grubby clothes and went out to change the tire (my dad made me learn before he let me get a license; I bitched like mad the whole time... after this incident, I called and thanked him). Only one problem: the lug nuts were rusted onto the studs, and even standing on the wrench, they wouldn't come off. I waited for my friend/roommate to get home and have a go at them. He stood on the tire iron, too. Nothing. We repaired to the apartment for a couple beers and some brainstorming. (The following conversation is paraphrased. It's been a few years, after all.)

Me: "Maybe we should just take it to a garage, or call road side assistance."

Him: "You can't afford it. Besides, we should be able to do this. We know physics."

Me: "You know physics. I was the one writing your English papers."

Him: "Oh please, you learn theory faster than anyone I know." He paced a while. "Do you know anywhere to get a blow torch?"

Me: "You're going to light my car on fire? We just need a rag for the gas tank and some matches."

Him: "We heat the lug nuts, they expand and crack the rust loose, and we can take them off with the wrench."

That was a good idea, but we didn't have a blow torch. I thought about it. "What you really need is a good temperature shock, to either expand OR contract the lug nuts, right? To work loose the rust?"

Him: "Yeah."

Me: "We can use a cigarette lighter and ice water."

Him: "See? We know physics."

So that's what we did. One by one, we heated the lug nuts as much as possible with a cigarette lighter (and when it ran out of fuel, a couple books of matches mooched off the neighbors), then while it was hot, doused it with ice water.

They came right off.

I love theory.

I was right.

I'm not sure that's always a good thing. (Above, a cup of chocolate protein supplement, and a bottle of kelp tablets.)

Long story short, I've been working out three to five times a week, eating between 1200 and 1500 calories a day, and have been losing about a pound a month. This has, understandably I think, driven me totally batshit crazy. So I went to the doctor last month and asked to have my thyroid checked, and they took some blood and never called me back. I've tried calling, and finally went ahead and made another appointment to yell at my doctor in person. But that's at the end of the month, and I've been pretty fed up with all this exercise and no results. I figured, I know botany and herbs, I can do something about this (which reminds me of an old roommate of mine yelling "We know physics! We can do this!" but that's a tale for another day).

So I started taking some kelp. Kelp is full of iodine, and can jump-start a mildly goofy thyroid. I figured, if the doctors couldn't be bothered to check it, I could do some of my own experimentation. I started taking it last Wednesday, a week ago yesterday. Since then I'm averaging about a half-pound of weight lost per day.

THAT IS FIFTEEN POUNDS LOST IN A MONTH, if it keeps up. EEeeeee! Even if it doesn't keep up, I've lost three pounds in the last week, which is as much as I've lost in the last three months before that.

It never fails to amaze me, how doctors want us to treat them with utmost respect and hang on their every word, and do whatever they say. Yet they constantly get things wrong, don't know, or have the bedside manner of Atilla the Hun (or all three, in the case of the doctors I deal with). I WILL tell my doc about the kelp when I see him, but I'm not sure it'll mean a damn thing to him. I'm also considering sticking to the kelp and not taking medication, at least for a while, if they say my thyroid actually is wonky. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I've heard a lot about side effects from perscription thyroid medication, and for now, the kelp seems to be working.

If you want to try the kelp idea, here are a few things to keep in mind: It's basically an iodine supplement, so as long as you're not allergic, it shouldn't hurt you, even if it doesn't help. If your thyroid is functioning properly, it won't do a darn thing to help weight loss. And if you are ALREADY on thyroid medication, ask your doctor if it's okay to take an iodine supplement, before you try it. It could really mess you up.

Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I bother with doctors at all.

In other news, the cat has been eating my shoelaces:

The baby has rediscovered Mr. BunBun and is taking him everywhere (that's a teddy bear in a bunny suit clutched in her right hand):

And I may yet meet the middle-of-the-month deadline for the knitting, and having the September Sweater halfway done. No idea yet if I'll make it, with the Knitty article.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What do you call this?

Detail from "Death and Life", Gustav Klimt, 1911-15, oil on canvas.

Swatch from "Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library", 2003.

Want another? How about Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Baur, painted in 1907?

To the right, you can see a variation of Fassett's famous "Persian Poppies", plus patterns of squares similar to some of Fassett's more recent work.

Inspiration? Inevitable similarities produced when working with basic shapes? Copying? COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?? (Actually, a big no on the last one. Klimt's work is old enough to be in public domain. Plus he was so fucked over by the Nazis, there's not much exploitation left to do by a few knitters.) I sincerely don't know. I do think some things are inevitable - if you play with circles, you'll eventually wind up with things like what Klimt produced. Ditto for playing with squares. Though I do find the first example of the crosses-in-squares rather obvious - even the colors are the same; I think Fassett did take that specific idea directly from that specific painting.

I'm still stuck back on the "Is it wrong?" question. The producers of many fine arts would sneer at the idea of being copied with knitting, and be either horrified or amused. But is it right, ever, to claim something was an original idea, when it wasn't? I know Fassett is usually generous about admitting where he got ideas - Islamic tiles, textiles from all over, and ceramics are favorites of his. So I don't mean to make this some kind of attack on his ethics. He's better than many others, who copy more directly and make not a peep about where they took the information from. And years ago, it was considered a compliment, among musical composers, to borrow each other's melodies and do your own version of them. Before the advent of copyright and the ability to profit from your own ideas, the concept of having to produce something original would have been considered very strange.

But I can't help but wonder... what do you call this?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sidebar update current.

Again, I think I'm caught up on adding people to the sidebar and e-mailing code to those who need it. So as usual, I've missed you somehow, let me know.

Western, Eastern, and Combined knitting.

I had an e-mail the other day about this, namely that they were the only person in their area who knit Eastern style, and did I have any information about it? And I realized I've never discussed the topic here, and it's an under-discussed topic in general, so here we go.

The terms above are used to describe the three different ways to knit, in terms of HOW THE STITCHES SIT ON THE NEEDLE. This has nothing to do with what hand you carry your yarn in or what needle you do most of the work with. This has to do with working into the front or back of the stitch, and how they sit on the needle. First some definitions, then some thoughts. Then some info sources.

WESTERN is how the majority of us knit in Western European-founded cultures. That includes (other than W Europe, obviously), most of N America, Australia, and parts of Africa (the sub-saharan parts). The knit stitch sits on the needle so that the front of the stitch faces left. When knitting, the yarn is brought under the needle and up, wrapping around the right hand needle in a counter-clockwise direction.

EASTERN is how Eastern Europe, Arab and Arab-settled countries (Spain, and by extension, much of S America) knit. The knit stitch sits on the needle with the front facing right. When knitting, the yarn is brought over the right needle from the back, wrapping around in a clockwise direction. This is considered the oldest method of knitting, and purling with this method is very efficient.

COMBINED uses both methods, Western style on the purl stitches and Eastern style on the knit stitches (or vice-versa, depending on the knitter, but this is the official definition). This method is used in mostly 'melting pot' areas like North America, where settlers from all over met and traded techniques. This is considered the best way to go if you have vastly different knit and purl gauges; it loosens the knit stitches and tightens the purl stitches. It also equalizes twist in yarns; you wrap the yarn around the needle in opposite directions for knit and purl.

Combined knitting is considered lightning fast, but all the knitting speed records I know of were set by someone knitting Western continental style (carrying the yarn in the left hand). Just sayin'.

While I can be an asshole about knitting in some ways (my 'do it right or not at all' approach to finishing comes to mind), in this I have no real opinion. If you knit something, you like it, and it doesn't unravel, well then, you're doing it right. HOWEVER. The vast majority of stitch patterns (like the Barbara Walker treasuries) are written for western style knitting, and if you knit another way, you'll wind up having to alter them to make them go. That's not bad either, but it is extra bother, and it's up to you whether you want to deal with it or not. When I first learned to knit, I used Combined, but realized I'd have to alter every texture and lace pattern to make them work right, and switched over to Western. But you aren't me, so it's up to you to decide how you wanna do it.

As for further information, I got mine from "Knitting in the Old Way" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson. (The second edition.) This is probably the most useful book I own in terms of traditional knitting. Vast, huge, useful piles of information. I'd suggest buying a copy if you knit much at all, but most local libraries should have a copy; I'd get it and read up. The knitting styles I just discussed are found starting on page 42. The only other place I know of for information on this is "Confessions of a Knitting Heretic" by Annie Modisett. She uses Combined, and does the majority of her own test-knitting. She's a knitting demon. If you want to buy a copy, get it at her web site. She makes a bigger profit that way, and she needs all the money she can get - her husband's sick. Plus, if you click the link, on the left side of the page is a nice little list of links titled "All you ever wanted to know about combination knitting".

And having done a search, I find Knitty has no article on this topic. Hmmmmm. And I've got an article due in five days. Hmmmmm. Oops, four. Eek.

Anyway, there you go. I've got readers all over the world. Would some of you check in and share where you are and what method you use? I'm particularly interested in India and Asia. Do you guys use Eastern or Western?

Monday, September 10, 2007

No more lollygagging around.

It stands to reason, I would think, that if you want to knit a sweater in a month, you need to be half done with it at the middle of the month. (That doesn't include finishing, but I'm willing to call it a success if I finish the knitting in September and spend a week of October doing finishing.) For refrence, what you see is the start of a sweater knit from wrist to wrist. The first sleeve is done; it's 15 in/33 cm long. Then comes the body, which is 21 in/46 cm long (with a half-gusset short-row thing in the middle for fit, but I'm not thinking about that right now), then another sleeve. Right now I've got about 4 in/9 cm of the body done, and I need to have about 11 in/24 cm done by the 15th if I want to keep up with this whole deadline idea. (Ideally, I'd be halfway through the short row gusset-thingie on the fifteenth, but I'm not thinking about it.)

Also due by the 15th, a Knitty article, and a skein of Purple Trainwreck.

Brace for prolonged swearing. I can see it on the horizon.

-... -

My father-in-law is known as Gadget Man (in fact, I may start calling him that regularly on the blog), and had in the past expressed interest in how I produced those nice, neat 'cakes' of yarn. I had explained the concept of a swift and ball-winder to him, but he wasn't quite getting it. (He's more about office gadgetry, and there's nothing quite the same in office equipment to compare it to.) While they were visiting, my mother-in-law was working on a sweater (she has the good sense to knit for herself - it's very nice, a dark pink cotton) and she pulled out a new skein of yarn to wind into a ball. The husbeast saw her and said "Julie's got something for that." and called me. When I figured out that a ball of yarn needed wound, I went and got my father-in-law with swift and ball-winder in hand, saying, "You're going to want to see this."

So I ended up doing a demonstration on my dining room table. My mother-in-law had seen a similar setup at her local yarn store, but was intrigued by my swift. (I have a Becka swift, and she's used to an umbrella swift.) My father-in-law, having watched the entire thing without a word, slapped his hands against his cheeks and said "AAAH!"

I have a feeling I'm going to get an e-mail one of these days, asking where to buy the swift. And I suspect that my father-in-law will want to wind all the yarn.

-... -

Some random weekend photos:

And now, back to the knitting. Woohoo!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Servers and HTML and buttons, oh my.

Catie, of the comments, has asked how to save the button photo to her server, so she won't hog bandwidth (such good manners, Catie has). But she doesn't get how she does that, 'cause she doesn't HAVE a server.

Actually, you do have a server. Blogger's server. It's yours, in the sense that's where your blog is (your blog does not go to heaven, really, it is saved on a giant server in the Blogger offices). Adding photos uploads that photo to their/your server, and gives you the server 'address' for it, which you can then use with HTML code to put anywhere on the internet you want. What's considered bad manners is to take that code, and then put it on someone ELSE'S web site, so that they wind up using Blogger bandwidth to load the picture, instead of their own. This doesn't seem like much, but after it happens a million times (which I bet it has on the Blogger servers, at least) most servers start bogging down. Blogger can handle it 'cause they move more info in a day than most countries, but regular servers could be crashed doing that.

If you have (or have noticed) one of the Knitty 'buttons' that changes when new Knitty is up, that's what they're doing, but on purpose: Each time someone hits a web page, my blog for instance, the computer goes to Blogger for the content, AND goes to Knitty for the button info, and also to Statcounter for my hits, and that map web site for my hits map. Then all the info from all over gets put in one neat page and loaded. The map site is kind of unreliable, and you've probably noticed that some days, the map doesn't load. That's because their server is down and your computer can't get the information it needs from them. But everything else loads, because all those servers are working. When Knitty goes live, they change the picture at the web site address on their server, and so when our computers talk to it, they get the new picture.

Is this making sense? A little? (If it does not, it's because I have a naked baby stuck in a Lego box behind me saying "Hep! Hep!" and it's a little distracting.)

Okay. So to load the button on to your server, the easiest way is to save it to your hard drive first. So go to whatever photo you want (in this case, one of the two buttons for the Strikke-along). Put your cursor over it, and RIGHT CLICK. A menu will come up. Hit 'save'. It will give you a dialogue box so you can choose where to save it ON YOUR OWN HARD DRIVE. It doesn't matter where you put it, but obviously put it somewhere you can find it again. "My Pictures" or "My documents" is usually the way to go.

Log on to Blogger, and go to "New Post" like you were going to write something for your blog. Then upload the button you just saved from your hard drive, like you were uploading a picture. (If you don't have Blogger, this process should work much the same way, just do your own blog's protocol, not Blogger's.) Once the photo's uploaded, click over to "Edit HTML". Instead of the actual photo, there should be a jumble of 'jiggies' <<>>> and other symbols, looking kind of like a paragraph.

WITHIN that jumble should be TWO internet addresses, starting with http:// and in quote marks " ". If you really want to know what it all says, let me know and I'll give an explanation. But to keep it simple, locate the first of the two addresses. Change it to whatever you want the button to LINK to. In this case, it would be but if you're making a button, technically it can link to any web page. Make sure the quotes are still on either side of the web address; don't clip those off.

And that's your code. Copy the whole 'paragraph' to your side bar (in the Template), where you want the button. Then erase the almost-blog-post that you used to upload the picture.

Viola. Saved to your sever, code created, and ready to go.

For those of you who are getting the code straight from me, you're using my server, which generaly would be bad manners. But since most of you are also on Blogger ANYWAY, it's like using a different part of your own server, and it's easy, and there are less than five of you. So I don't care. You can go through this process and generate your own code, though. You can tell it's yours, because the second web site address in the code will be different - it's where YOUR copy of the button is on the Blogger server, not mine.

Okay. That was my tech writing for the day. I'm going to go lay down with a wet cloth over my eyes.

Quick weather update.

Tropical storm Gabrielle lost strength during the night and is not a hurricane. (If it WAS a hurricane, it only was for about five minutes.) It is not ashore yet, but it's near Wilmington, NC, the next state north.

There is a high pressure area in the Atlantic that was pushing the storm south toward us, but everyone expected it to go north again when it hit the Gulf Stream (a major current that runs right along the coast). And it did.

So we worried for nothing. The sun's shining and I don't think we'll even get any rain.

Maybe next time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Strikke-along detail.

I have, as of this moment, caught up with adding people to the side bar. Or I think I have. So if you're not up there and you should be, let me know. Or if you're up there with no link, or your name's spelled wrong, or it's the wrong link or... well, you get the idea.

For those of you wanting the code for the buttons, and have not got it yet (I think there are three of you): I cannot send it to you without your e-mail address. E-mail me, and I will send the button code back to you. I'm at JTheakerATscDOTrrDOTcom. (You substitute the @ and . symbols where appropriate. This is to keep someone from searching the 'net for e-mail addresses, finding mine, and filling my in box with spam about enlarging my penis.)

Otherwise, I'm trying to come up with some ideas for tutorials and history lessons to do, during the month of October. Anyone got any requests?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Well, hell.

Yesterday wasn't Einstein's birthday. (Last time I listen to someone when they say "Hey, it's Einstein's birthday today." I should have known better.) We're back to blaming my DNA for the Goober's hair. The Einstein thing would have worked a lot better when she's fourteen and screaming that she's having a bad hair day while she's a half hour late for school.

Anyway, thanks to all for the good wishes.

-... -

In other news, we might get hit by a hurricane.

With luck, it will only be a category one (mild, for a hurricane) and come ashore north of us. But I'm not counting on the weather to act predictably. We've already arranged for evacuation to Florida, if need be, but I don't see it happening.

I'll probably ride it out while the Goober sleeps and I try to knit with Sekhmet wrapped around my neck. (She's a Hawaiian kitty. She's used to fair skies and trade winds. Loud weather events make her insane. We had a lightning strike a few weeks ago that I think she's still freaked out about.) The husbeast will probably be at work. Thanks to the Navy, I've spent every hurricane or tropical storm alone.

-... -

More is goofy on the health front, and I have another appointment with my doc. One of the things that's going to get discussed is that I never heard back from my last visit, when I had tests done. But we will have a chat about why I'm working out five days a week, eating 1200 calories a day, and losing one pound a month. If he tries to blow me off again, and tells me to wait and see if it corrects itself, I shall bite his eyes out.

Nothing but good times ahead.

Oh, and if you've ever felt bad about the state of your office or studio, click here. Suddenly I feel like the most organized woman on earth. Even with a two year old.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Meet the Goober.

It has been pointed out to me - gently - by several readers that she's not a baby any more. And I know that. I've been boggling over it for about six months now. And while I will always call her Baby from time to time, I thought I should find something different to call her here on the blog. I figured I'd do it on her birthday.

That's today. She's two. (Today is also Einstein's birthday. I have finally found an explanation for the hair.)

Anyway. Back in the day, when I was pregnant, we started calling the baby "Goober". That's an old-fashioned American term for peanut, and at the time, she was about the size of one, and we had no idea of gender, or a name to use, so we started the baby Goober.

Then, when I had her, she wasn't much bigger than a peanut (okay, she was eight pounds, a good-but-average size for a baby) so we kept on calling her Goober.

And she was just so happy and so good and so cute, she needed a cute nickname. (She's about three months old in the photo below, and she's eyeing the cat. Note the "Future Knitter" tee shirt.)

So, now it's official. On the internet. Happy birthday, Goober. I don't know what I did without you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Vertical fold lines.

There was interest expressed in the vertical fold line of the giant edging I'm knitting, so here are some closeups:

Top is the right side, bottom is the wrong side. (Duh.) Remember you can click on these to make 'em bigger. Take advantage of my new camera! In a nutshell, you make a column of slipped stitches (every other row/round, in this case on the wrong side, but really either way works) where you want the fold. The yarn needs to be on the BACK of the fold, or the inside of the fold, when you slip it.

When you DO fold it, it will look almost identical to a selvedge edge where you slip the first stitch of every row as you knit back and forth. (Which comes out to every other row.) It's basically the same stitch pattern, but in the middle of a fabric instead of at the edge.

Isn't knitting cool?

I am a bloody idiot.

Did I, or did I not, just finish up trying to knit a long, circular edge for a sweater? (The Pinwheel Jacket. You remember.) Yes, yes I did. And I decided it was stupid, and went with a crochet edge.

So what am I knitting now?

(Image and pattern from Andean Inspired Knits, by Helen Hamann.) That's right. The sweater is in two pieces: a body that's knit wrist-to-wrist, and an edge. A gigantic collar/edge that goes all the way around. According to the pattern, it's 465 rows for the size I'm knitting.

So far I've got this:

You can see where I've just started the body. Halfway down the sleeve is the line between where I washed the cuff to check the gauge, and where I kept knitting. Isn't that delightful? I'm telling myself it'll block out.

And I've got this.

Maybe fifty rows of the needed four hundred and sixty-five. It's 43 stitches of stockinette, with the center stitch slipped on the wrong side to make a fold line. Essentially, it is the Scarf From Hell.

Remember, the goal was to finish this by the end of September (thereby freeing me up to do the Strikke-along. However, if I HAVE to keep working on this, it's covered - the yarn is from Canada - Elann - and Canada was settled by Vikings.) I seem determined to drive myself insane this September, even without the State Fair deadline to obsess about. I'm gonna quit fighting it and just let it all hit the fan. At the least, it'll make some good blog fodder.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Crocheted Steek: Mystery Diagnosis.

Louiz, one of our intrepid Steek-alongers, is having trouble with her crocheted steek and thinks it is pulling out. I dunno if it's pulling out or if it's being weirdly normal. So bear with us as I post photos and descriptions. (Heck. Ya might learn something.) Remember you can click on all these to make them bigger. I took them at as high a resolution as possible so you could see what was going on.

Here's the cut edge of my steek; please realize that the garter-edge button band is already on the jacket.

The chain of dark blue is the bit I crocheted, and you can easily see cut edges sticking up beyond it. Cut edges on the CUT side is perfectly fine. If they were sticking out BELOW the chain, on the sweater side, that would be bad.

Here's another shot, since this is a visual thing.

Not as good, but you still get the idea. There are ends poking out ON THE CUT SIDE.

Here's a shot of the BACK of the steek:

You can see two vertical lines of what looks like dark blue back stitching. The one nearest the edge is the steek's crochet chain. The one further in is where I picked up stitches to knit on the garter band. If yours looks like this, you're golden. Just knit up that garter band as quickly as you can (reasonably - don't lose sleep over this, though I suspect you already have, ugh) to stabilize the edge further. Between the crochet chain and the garter stitch band, the edge should remain stable. (Unless you give it to rabid monkeys and they pull it apart, or something extreme like that.)

If the cut edges are truly slipping the crochet chain, let me know. You can mail it to me and I'll fix it for you.

Good thing I got a new camera, huh?

Stuff. With a hint of knitting.

First off, I'm thrilled by all the sign-ups. And I'm really proud of how many people are using what is essentially a cocktail party of a knit-along (come on over! bring your friends!) to really challenge themselves. We've got several people trying stranded color for the first time, and someone knitting their first sweater. Let me know if I can help in any way.

I'm also enjoying the loopholes people are using, including being related to Scandinavians (by marriage in several cases) and living in towns founded by Scandinavians or celebrating Scandinavian holidays. It's all good. But everyone seems to be wimping out on the lutefisk option. I can't imagine why. (Yes, I know what lutefisk is and have had some. I'm being sarcastic.)

Vigo Mortensen really is Scandinavian. He's half DANISH, not half DUTCH. He's fine. I need a geography lesson. I was out of my mind or something when I typed that last post. So anyway, if you think Vigo is hot, you're still in. Except I might need to disqualify myself for totally flunking the geography portion of this knit-along.

-... -

I've been working on the straw-green sweater all week (I started it last Tuesday - with luck we'll have a sleeve photo by the end of the day) and I'm not sure, but it might be responsible for a chronic pain flareup. I can't figure how, though. I haven't been knitting THAT much at any one time, I'm using wood needles (flexible) and the yarn is light and fairly soft and stretchy (alpaca-tencel blend). Usually with that combination of factors, I'm in good shape.

It could also be the thirty-five pound baby I haul around every day. I think it's far more likely. So I'm not lifting her if it can be avoided (I'm changing her on the floor instead of the changing table, which in the long run will just shift the problem to my knees) and hoping for the best.

At any rate, I may be drugged to the gills for the next bit. Brace for much profanity.

-... -

Speaking of profanity, I don't suggest yelling "Bugger!" in an English pub. Even if the English pub is on American soil. Apparently they all knew what it meant.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Knit-along details and questions.

Several people have asked where to sign up. Leaving a message just about anywhere on the blog saying "sign me up!" gets the job done. I took the liberty of adding everyone who'd left messages like that, assuming that was the goal. If not, let me know. And if I've screwed up your name or your link in the sidebar, also let me know. I'll try to add new sign-ups once a day, so if you go a couple days without being added, remind me. I may have missed the e-mail or the cat ate it or something.

In related news, we've bagged our very first real Scandinavian, who joined today! Welcome, Hobbygasa! ('Real' meaning she lives in Norway and speaks Norwegian.)

-... -

There have been some concerns about people being required to knit elaborate projects and being stuck working on it for the next three decades. Please don't tie yourself into knots over it. That wasn't my intention. Knit a pair of socks or a hat. It's fine. Really. Drink a slug of aquavit sometime in the month of October and all eligibility is covered.

-... -

Catie asked about Norsk StrikkeDesign and what would I suggest as an easier project in the book. Well. The reason our knit-along isn't focusing solely on that book is, there aren't any easy projects. The book has a fairly even skills level throughout. Unfortunately that skill level is high. Nearly everything is in stranded color, and steeked. (As I flipped through the book, I mentioned to the husbeast I was looking for easier projects to suggest. After living with me for 15 years, he knows knitting, and said 'Oh my god'.) Here is some food for thought:

-There's a pretty good assortment of hats and wristwarmers, a couple bags, I think one pair of socks, and a pair of fingerless gloves. All of those would be good, because they're smaller and don't involve steeking. Many of them DO involve stranded color, though.

-The sideways knit garter-stitch cardi/jacket from Solvieg Hisdal doesn't have any steeks, and it is garter stitch. However, the pattern writing is minimal, to put it mildly, and there are short rows for shaping. It's also in eleventy-million colors. (It's very close in design to Mermaid, though, and you could easily use a color scheme like one of those, dare I suggest it without getting sued.) In her other book "Poetry in Stitches", she does a winter version all in black that's very pretty.

-The aran sweater by Kari Hestnes also does not have steeks. It also does not do color, just cables. It's knit in the round, then separated at the arm holes and knit flat. If you can get your gauge to work out (there's usually a big shift between working in the round and working flat, but it's less noticeable in cables), it's an easy construction method.

-Lunde, by Irene Haugland Zahl would probably take as much time in finishing (sewing up, mostly, and putting that neck on wouldn't be easy) as it would take to knit.

-Season of Darkness and Winter Light by Margaretha Finseth (the cover sweater) has two vastly different gauges between the body of the sweater (the blue and gray vines) and the edging (the gray cables). Getting it to go together without puckering would be hard. Plus it's got an odd construction with lots of steeking. I absolutely LOVE this sweater, it may be the next one I knit from the book, but it's not easy.

-White Sea Trading Coat, also by Margaretha Finseth, has got a massive abount of square footage to knit, all else aside (it's a floor-length heavy coat). It's got a lining to put in, hems all over, and crocheted fake fur, into the bargain. And pom-poms.

Otherwise, all the projects in the book are about the same in terms of skill; stranded color with complex patterns, and steeks for armholes and cardi openings.

-... -

See now why I changed the requirements to join?

Oh, and Amy Lane and I have added another loophole: If you think Vigo Mortensen is hot, you are eligible. (Vigo is half Dutch.) Bells' husband says if you listen to Norwegian death metal, you're eligible. And I was thinking anyone who has ever eaten at a smorgasboard would certainly be able to join.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Buttons and sidebar.

The button HTML code in the last post, for the Strikke-along signups, has been fixed and is ready to go if you want to use it. (Bloglines only sent me one version of the post, the version that said not to use the HTML code yet. If you got that too, it's fixed now.)

A while back, Lynn made me a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Being HTML phobic, I didn't put it up right away (bad Samurai). But I'm going to be monkeying with the sidebar for a while, so I popped it right on up today. Thanks for the recognition. And considering I turn forty next year, thanks for calling me a girl, too.

While messing around with the sidebar, I made a Knit-alongs section that contains buttons of knit-alongs I have joined, past and present. I need to dig out the button and link for Project Spectrum (the first one), and then it'll be complete.

Since I'm doing this, and will be adding the names and links of everyone joining the Strikke-along, I thought it might be fun to add a section called "Sekhmet, you fucker" with links to all the appropriate posts. Does that sound like a good idea, or not?

Strikke-along signups!!

Yes, it's that time. The time for us all to lose our minds and join in another of the crazy knit-alongs around here. We officially begin October first, but I like having a decent lead-in for knit-alongs so people can be better prepared for them.

The original idea I had, back in the spring, was for everyone to choose a pattern from "Norsk Strikkedesign" and knit one. I thought that was a good theme, and it'd produce a lot of kickass sweaters/jumpers. (For those who don't have the book, there is a listing of kits available, here, that gives you a good idea of the content of the book.) I love just about every pattern in the book - with color shifts in some cases - and I figured everyone else would agree, and off we'd go.

Then I did the Steek-Along. And while the Steek-Along rocked, and was truly awesome, and I'm proud as hell of the three people who joined in and held on to the bitter end, the fact remains, it was three people. A pretty small group. And I knew that if I did something like "choose a pattern from Norsk Strikkedesign", I'd have a small group again, because let's be honest, those patterns are hard core.

So I started turning over the idea of having some kind of knit-along that EVERYONE could join. And I thought about the Scandinavian influences on knitting in general, and I thought we could do something Scandinavian-themed and still include everyone, if we tried hard enough.

I have given you this long lead-in so that you understand the reasoning behind the madness, when you read the eligibility list.


-You are knitting anything from Norsk Strikkedesign, of course. Or Poetry in Stitches. Or, hell, anything by any Scandinavian designer (Elsebeth Lavold for instance) or any Scandinavian design house (Dale of Norway, Garnstudio, etc).

-You live in Scandinavia or are of Scandinavian descent. Or speak a Scandinavian language. Or have blonde hair or blue eyes. Or red hair.

-You are knitting a pattern or using yarn from anywhere the Vikings ever settled. (North America, Greenland, Iceland, the UK, Ireland, Russia, most of Europe, and all those islands in the North Sea and North Atlantic.)

-You are knitting socks, a hat, a scarf, or mittens. Because it gets cold up there, and they wear that stuff.

-Heck, if you're knitting anything warm, for that matter.

-You have ever eaten lutefisk or drunk aquavit. Or that rotted shark stuff from Iceland. Or dairy products. Or, um, any other Scandinavian food. Pass the lebkuchen.

That should include everyone. If not, let me know, and I'll make up a loophole for you.

With this kind of two-sided history, I made up two buttons. I figure we can use one button for anyone hard core enough to knit something from Norsk Strikkedesign, and use the other for eveyrone else joining in. Of course if you like one button more than the other, just use it; I'm not gonna police blogs and tell people they're using the wrong buttons.

The Norsk Strikkedesign button:

The background, in case you're wondering, is from the Princess-Line Gansey that I'm halfway through knitting.

The let's all join button:

The curlicue is the prow of a Viking long ship from the Oslo Ship Musuem. The photo itself is from "Sue and Jerry's Adventure in Scandinavia", a page that popped up while I was doing an image search for Viking long ships. Their photo was just what I wanted (in fact, the original contains them, too). No idea who Sue and Jerry are, but if anybody knows them, tell 'em I said hello and thanks for the photo.

Anyone who REALLY wants to get into this, there's a handy translation page here. You can use Scandinavian knitting terms (from the language of your choice) for the entire month of October. Or the rest of your life. If you don't already.

FOR THE HTML CHALLENGED: I've been trying to put the code in the blog without it showing up as a photo, and it's SO not working... in fact, it's a nightmare. So e-mail me and I'll send you the code and you can cut and paste it into your template.