Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The husbeast speaks.

This has been going around and I thought we'd all enjoy hearing the husbeast's view of things.

Me: What is your favourite thing about my knitting?

Husbeast: Uh. It makes for inexpensive Christmas presents. And it keeps you from killing people. Except for when there's a knife involved. But that's another story.

Me: What is your least favourite thing about my knitting?

Husbeast: A whole room in the house you can't go into because of all the shit that's in it. [I would like to add, the room is full of more than just knitting shit.] Like you weren't expecting that, come on. Why is it taking so long to put that small sentence in?

Me: What is something I have knitted, that you recall as good?

Husbeast: The sweater you knit me, and the ones you've knit Mom and Dad.

Me: Do you think knitters have an expensive hobby?

Husbeast: Relatively speaking, not really. You could add I build engines and drag race for a hobby.

Me: Any hobbies?

Husbeast: I just told you.

Me: Do you have a stash of any kind?

Husbeast: [Laughing] I am about to buy two more engine blocks. I've got car parts all over the fucking garage. I wouldn't categorize it as a stash. I'm in the Navy. I can't have real stashes any more.

Me: Have I ever embarrassed you, knitting in public?

Husbeast: No.

Me: Do you know my favourite kind of yarn?

Husbeast: Um, I don't know, do I? I know all kinds of shit. Superwash isn't a type of yarn, is it?

Me: Can you name another blog?

Husbeast: Uh, yeah, what's her name, fuckin'... up, Canada, uh, damn. Her name esecapes me. You know who I'm talking about, right? [The Yarn Harlot.]

Me: Do you mind my wanting to stop at knit shops wherever we go?

Husbeast: [Lip curl.] As long as I don't have to go with you, no. [Added later.] I don't force you to go to Summit Racing. So fair is fair.

Me: Do you understand the importance of a swatch?

Husbeast: Hell yeah. It's the foundation for the whole damn thing. Everyone knits differently. You need to do that, plus when you wash it... fuck all your shit up... you need to do a swatch.

Me: Do you read my blog?

Husbeast: Yes.

Me: Have you ever left a comment?

Husbeast: Once. I don't remember what it was, though.

Me: Do you think the house would be cleaner if I didn't knit?

Husbeast: [Sarcastic look.] No. Less cluttered, maybe. They're assuming you would actually clean.

Me: Anything you'd like to add?

Husbeast: [The look.] Not particularly.

So there you go. Interview with the husbeast. See? I'm not the only sarcastic pain in the butt around here.

Another one of THOSE days.

This morning I went out to the garage to toss some rags in the washing machine because the Goob had peed on the floor again (AGAIN! ARRRRRRRRGHHH!), stepped on something, and cut my foot open. This is the husbeast's fault, because the garage looks like this:

The husbeast is rebuilding the engine of his toy truck (as opposed to his toy Suburban and my Jeep). I assume I stepped on some stray bit of who-knows-what on my way through. Probably my fault for not wearing shoes. But I'll complain to him about it anyway.

Watching the husbeast work on cars reminds me of a scene I had once with my mother. I was probably close to thirty, sitting on the couch in their living room, knitting some lace, and my mother watched over my shoulder for a while. Finally, she asked "You're doing this for fun?"

So the husbeast chortles over his engine and brings me horribly scratched bearings to look at, and talks about oil pan volume, and to my woe, I understand him. This is what I get for being such a geek.

Last night I started on a doily from the KunstStricken book. (For those following along with their own copy, I'm knitting "Schlusselblume", charts 2A and 2B.) I got about this far:

This morning, I got up and faced reality. I wasn't happy with how I'd worked the whole thing so far, and the thread was SHREDDING my fingers. So I dug through my hoard of crochet cotton and found some softer white to use. I dislike white lace because it's so hard to keep clean and so hopelessly stereotypical, but to hell with it. My fingers hurt. So the blue got cut loose and thrown away, and I'm starting over with the white. When I'm finished I'll write English directions and make them available here on the blog and on Ravelry. Not the charts, just the directions. So you'll still need the charts to knit the lace, but you won't find yourself hunched over a black and white photo counting eyelets to figure out how many pattern repeats you need. I'm doing that. It's a drag.

Otherwise, nothing new. We figured out the cockroaches are coming up the drains in the kitchen and started sealing the dishwasher door. So we've got fewer cockroaches, but when we open the dishwasher about five jump out at us. There's a heat advisory today, and the Goober reacts really badly to heat, so it looks like another day inside, hanging out together. (One of the reasons I'm pushing potty training is so that I can start putting her in day care, to get her out of the house and with other kids more often.) Sekhmet is outraged over all the new smells in the house (from the Goober's potty training adventures) and has taken to lurking in my office, glaring at people. And just this instant I realized the husbeast, Mr. OCD cleaner, has put upholstery pins in MY chair to hold the arm covers on. In a place where I wouldn't be able to see them. (I felt one.) Great. Now I've got stealth upholstering to deal with.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Still screwing with ANOTHER damned medication adjustment, and the Goob is now having a growth spurt on top of everything else. (Am I the only parent who finds it freaky that their kid looks different in the morning, than they did the night before?) So, I'll answer some comments questions.

Bells, who prompted the doily vs. shawl post, commented on the Hemlock Ring blankie by Brooklyn Tweed. Yes. Fine example. It is essentially a giant doily knit on humongous (for a doily) needles, with wool, and not starched. Voila. Blankie. (Is it a shrub, or a small tree?)

There were also questions about the spinning. (And thanks for all the comments about how it looked nice.) The end goal will look like this:

It is a worsted-weight two ply, spun from Colonial Wool from the lovely folks at Kendig Cottage, my go-to place for any sort of colored wools. I'm using the multi-colored tweedy fleeces, one ply in blue and one ply in teal. Either one alone looks crappy, at least to me, but one ply of each is like magic. The wool is South American Mystery Sheep. Normally I stick to merino, but this stuff is as soft as some merino I've worked with; definitely soft enough to wear against the skin. And with 8oz/225g of each color, a pound/450g total, I'm hoping to get a whole lotta yardage out of it.

Of my pre-test-doily knitting, one project just took a huge step back in terms of rush; the recipient is going on a two month business trip, starting tomorrow. (She trains and certifies 'helper dogs' and 'visitor dogs' who visit people in hopsitals. It's been shown many times over, petting a nice doggie or kitty will soothe patients. I've been visited by them myself - when I got my hand pinned together - and it helped immensely). So all I've got to do is re-knit the bowl I screwed up yesterday by knitting it with superwash (big double duh for that one, even if the skein WAS missing a band and ten years old). I'm feeling cavalier about my father-in-law's Christmas sweater at the moment, thinking it's half done and it's July, so what the heck. This will very likely come back to bite me in the ass, say, mid-December. What the hell. Doily coming up, soon. Like tomorrow.

Oh- and several people are frightened by my queue on Ravelry... anyone willing, tell me how many projects are in yours?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Just so you know, trying to felt something you knit with superwash wool doesn't work very well. At all.


Now I'm going to go look at myself in the mirror and say "You dumbass".

Doily vs. Shawl. What's the diff?

Bells wanted to know. And it's a good question.

For the most part, the difference has to do with materials and gauge. But really? The biggest indicator is starch.

Doilies are knit at small to super-insane-small gauge (remember the quad zero needles?), usually with very strong plant fibers like cotton and linen, and when they're blocked, they're most often starched to within an inch of their lives. They are almost always lace. For instance, I plan to knit my test doily on size twos (large for a doily, so I can see what's going on) with #10 crochet cotton, and starch the begeezers out of it when I block it.

Shalws are knit at all sorts of gauges with all sorts of fibers, and of course NOT blocked with starch. (Or at least, very rarely. I'm sure someone's done it once.) They are not always lace. I plan to knit my mother-in-law's Christmas shawl on size three or four needles (small for a shawl), with silk and beads, and NOT starch it when I block it.

Basically, it's an arbitrary designation, more about how the final product is used than anything else. You can use doily patterns to knit shawls, but you usually can't use shawl patterns to knit doilies - though some of the more elaborate circular ones would work. It kind of reminds me of tongue-in-cheek "Is it a shrub or a small tree?" discussions between botanists. (Yes, geek humor is strange.)

Better than pills.

The Goober has been on a major tear the last three or four days; Saturday night she stripped naked and peed on the floor behind the couch. (I swear I will not share gory details of potty training BUT SHE DESERVES TO HAVE IT BLASTED OVER THE INTERNET. I hope she reads this when she's thirteen and has a fit.) Last night the husbeast turned his back on her for five minutes while she was secure in her high chair and she finger-painted the dining room table with her dinner. She has played the drums as loud as possible whenever the TV was tuned to anything other than cartoons. She wiped her chalky hand on her floor pillow. Truly, a fine weekend.

As you can imagine, what with the chronic pain thing, I'm bloody well sick of taking pills. So as I edged toward critical mass today, I fell back on an old coping method taught to me by my beloved shrink: find a soothing behavior, and DO IT. So I started spinning. Unfortunately, because my hands are still sore from the felting silliness last Wednesday (they're still peeling, too), I could only work on it for an hour. But I feel much more sane now. And I get yarn out of it. Truly, an awesome coping method.

This is the start of more "Peacock Tweed". (For those just tuning in, I spun yarn from the same fiber in March, knit it into a zen sweater, and killed it in the washing machine in April while trying to felt it small enough for the Goober.) I have a planned use for it, and it will be MINE, ALL MINE.

Otherwise, I am using the lace patterns as a self-reward to motivate me; once I get this round of bags and bowls and a sweater done, then I will knit a test doily. And then I will knit another, bigger, with silk, for a Christmas present. Hopefully, this will be easy... I spent my first ten years of knitting making doilies. So it's probably easier for me than most. I hope.

Oh, and those of you thinking of ordering the lace patterns from Lacis. Lyre is in English; that's the one on the right in the photo I posted a few days ago. It's a single pattern. The Kunst Stricken folder on the left contains about thirty lace patterns for mostly round but also ovals (really oval, not just blocked oval), rectangles, and squares. The lace is charted, but the directions are in German. With ten years of charted lace knitting behind me and very remedial German (growing up in Amish country will do that), I can piece together what to do well enough. I wouldn't suggest it for beginners unless they speak German, or know someone who does. I'll be happy to help people out with it, but you might want to see how I do at my own test knitting first.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yeah, that worked.

When I got done soaking the felted cat toys in catnip tea, I poured it over a washcloth, and, well, you can see. She approved. Snuffled and ruffled and whuffled for about five minutes, and then passed out.

A word to those with hand problems: you may want to take it easy with the hand felting. By Wednesday night, I couldn't make a fist with either hand, and things didn't improve until yesterday. And all that vinegar took the top layer of my skin off; it's still peeling.

Maybe I'll try some sheet felting... with a brush. From a safe distance. A lot of societies traditionally made sheet felt by rolling it up and walking on it. So that's an option. They also rolled it up and worked it with forearms instead of hands. I think the ancients knew something I didn't. Hopefully the lesson has been learned. (But knowing me, I wouldn't bet on it.)

I was working on two other felting projects, a bag and a bowl, to swap for Christmas presents. That had to stall, but I hope to finish them up this weekend. They will be felted in the washing machine like smart people do it.

Oh, and I got something in the mail.

About thirty lace patterns by Herbert Niebling, from Lacis. The one on the right, on the cover, I will be knitting as a wrap for my mother-in-law's Christmas present. I'd like to do a practice doily first, to get the hang of Niebling's methods. But I've gotta finish these felt projects first.

More insanity, coming up.

Oh. And I gave birth to a drama queen.

REALLY looking forward to those teen years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Felted balls.

I have gone to the dogs. With a jet-pack assist.

A few months ago, I got myself a big bag of multi-colored Corriedale roving, with the idea of experimenting with colors. When it got here, I struggled with it for three or four days, decided it was unspinnable, and threw it into the back of The Pit.

Last week, I was ordering some other textile-type books, saw "Simply Felt" from Interweave Press, thought 'what the hell', and ordered it. It got here yesterday.

I got about this far with my 'experiments' before I thought, you know, I should document this. Someone might care.

So here you go.

The setup looked like this at my house:

Obviously, my kitchen sink. This kind of thing is very low-risk; the biggest danger is dropping fiber down the drain and snarling the hell out of the garbage disposal or clogging the P-trap (or both). Avoid that, and you're golden. The running water is as hot as I can stand. If you're feeling more energy-saver, another bowl of super hot water would work as well. The container in the upper right is full of plain warm water, to soak the soap out of the finished balls. The green container contains soap, warm water, and vinegar. Vinegar isn't usually called for in felting, but my first un-vinegar effort came out like this:

I know from dyeing that vinegar will 'soften up' the outer layer of the wool fiber and make it sticky (from a chemical viewpoint), so I figured, what the hell. I put about a cup of vinegar in. (You can tell if it's enough, if it makes your nicks and cuts and hangnails sting.)

It worked.

So, the process goes something like this:

Pull off a wad or three of wool and roll into a ball.

I put my hand in all these photos for scale; I have average to slightly small hands.

Dunk the ball of wool into the container of water, soap, and vinegar, and squoosh it in your hand for maybe thirty seconds, squeezing out the air and working the liquid through the wool. Once you get the hang of it, you can kind of feel when it starts to soften up. When it does (or you're tired of squishing), pull it out. I'll look like this.

You should get to this stage in under a minute.

Now comes the mildly tedioius part. Alternate dunking the ball in the soapy water, rolling in your hands, and holding under hot water. Back and forth. As the ball felts, push harder and harder on the felt as you roll. At one point, it'll be almost a ball, with sort-of cracks between colors. That means you're almost done. Give it another squish in the soapy water and roll in your hands as hard as you can. This entire process should take two minutes or less (depending on how much wool, what kind, heat of water, amount of soap and vinegar, blah blah) and you will wind up with this:

I'll be soaking these in catnip tea and bartering them with a friend in exchange for a custom button for the hex jacket. I think all the cats in the family will be getting them for Christmas.

Now I'm going to go cut up a pillowcase and try making sheet felt.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's that time of year.

Time for storms, from both directions; hurricanes and tropical storms from the ocean, and thunderstorms from the mountains. Yesterday we got a thunderstorm and the power went out three times. Looks like we've got another one headed this way. Goodie. (Actually, I like thunderstorms. But they don't cool things down, which is frustrating.)

Anyway, I had another go at a felted bowl. (I have memorized the pattern. That's how we know we're in trouble.) This time I used my own handspun left over from the hex sweater (which is still waiting for that final seam, let's not think about it), felted it more firmly, and smaller.

This time when the Goob went for it, I grabbed it away and yelled 'NO, MINE!' On my desk it went, next to where I do my spinning. Several people have offered trades and barters for felted bowls, including future Christmas presents. Life is good.

Otherwise, well, the easiest way for me to share video with friends and family is to post the video here. This one's for my mother-in-law; the rest of you will just have to suffer through the cuteness.
Try not to go into sugar shock.

Oh. And I got "Simply Felt" from Interweave Press. Cue ominous music here. I'm off to squish wool in the kitchen sink, yelling "Felt, motherfucker!"

Okay, maybe I'll skip that part. 'Cause you KNOW the Goob would repeat it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This could be fun.

Yesterday I started thinking about how before I knit something elaborate (ish) with the Highland Wool, it would be smart to see how it felted. For that I needed a gauge swatch. So I knit a bowl. (Pattern available here.) Before I felted it, I tied in some cotton waste yarn to make a ten by ten stitch block.

Then I measured before and after. I learned this stuff doesn't shrink much horizontally, but it REALLY sucks up vertically. Good to know before I inevitably go off and start knitting bags with no patterns.

So with the bowl done, I was admiring it and pondering just what I would do with it (I was thinking catchall for spinning stuff), when the husbeast picked it up, and...

Right, then.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Once again, with photos.

This is the pile of yarn I was talking about yesterday.

For those who asked, no, I don't do a lot of felting. Usually because I fuck it up. I can think of five felted projects I've done, of which only one turned out as planned. (The Deco Bag, link to pattern in the sidebar.) Oh, and I did a couple felted containers in January of 07 that turned out semi-okay (other than looking like they were made from Cookie Monster pelts). But generally, my felting experiences can be summed up here. After going through pattern books and The Pit last night, I've decided to experiment with some Lopi I've got laying around, before digging into the good stuff. First up is a circular bag that will double nicely as a cat bed, should I totally screw it up.

Which is entirely possible.

Yesterday the Goober had a bath; the husbeast totally overfilled the tub with bubbles, to her delight.

Now I'm gonna crawl into my office, play some Iron Chef, and get some knitting done.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meanwhile, reality sets in.

...I hate that.

I'm sure everyone has noticed that as the Goob gets older and more of a handful, my knitting has shifted from elaborate stranded color to 'zen sweaters' of straight stockinette. And I imagine it's gonna stay that way until she goes to college. At least. So.

Anyone remember this?
(There's supposed to be a picture here, of a great pile of yarn, Elann's Highland Wool in about 25 colors.)

If not (and I don't blame you), back at the end of 2006 I ordered the yarn needed to knit Geometric Star from Kaffee Fassett. (Having the blog makes it easy to keep track of this stuff. That's both a good thing and a bad thing.) Odds of me being able to concentrate on a Fassett pattern any time in the next decade are about nil. And I've been searching around for another zen project or ten.

It hit me today. I can knit a couple-four felted bags with this stuff. And unload 'em on people for Christmas. Ohm. There's also half a ton of cotton yarn in The Pit that could make quite a few string bags. Or a nice stockinette tee shirt.

I know I should be finishing off my father-in-law's cable knit, but damn it, I have to THINK to do that. (I'm almost to the shoulders and ready to start the sleeves).

Aaaaand blogger isn't letting me upload photos. (Scheduled outrage? Our home network? My head full of snot causing me to push the wrong buttons?) So, fuck it, I'll try again later.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quote for the day.

This used to be a tradition, back when I kept a journal; I'd write down whatever one-liners I heard during the day, that I found hilarious. I keep meaning to get back to it here on the blog, and then I keep forgetting.

Maybe if I give it a post of its own, I'll remember.

Tuesday's quote was supposed to be "When you're attacked by someone named SkullCrusher, well, it's time for concern." -- Some anthropologist, talking about the Viking Invasions.

Today's quote? It's from some silly 'toon, Phineas and Ferb, and I believe summarizes the attitude of every young boy on summer vacation: "We're gonna need a blow torch and more peanut butter."

Uh. Thursday.

How's that for a snappy title?

While the internet was out and I was stuck 'being medieval' (does watching Iron Chef Japan recorded on the DVR count as medieval?)I rustled up the skein of ugly yarn and knit a scarf. Remember this stuff?

One ply is what was left of the fleece I spun for the hex jacket. The other ply is some orange-and-pink dyed wool I had left laying around after my swap with Historic Stitcher. Together, they're butt ugly. Anyway, I knit a scarf with it to keep my hands busy while the husbeast paced the house muttering about IP addies and fucking servers. The scarf is going to get a dunk in a pot of pink, thereby hopefully toning down the orange and turning the blue ply purple, making it a bit more attractive. Or else it'll be even more ugly than before. Anyway, I made it in brioche stitch and ugly or not, it'll be warm as hell, so I'll probably post the pattern, such as it is. Maybe I'll get off my ass and take a photo while I'm at it.

Have begun knitting the carbon fiber I've spun so far, and it's a pain to work with. In retrospect, I'm glad I'm not knitting a sweater out of this stuff. Maybe I'll make a stealth bomber with the leftover fiber. The plan for the moment involves a hat and two scarves with the stuff. That'll be more than enough.

Still working on the navy cable-knit for my father-in-law.

Oh, and the Goob? She's feeling better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Well that was fun.

Maybe next time I'll get a root canal instead. (They give you good drugs for root canals, right?)

A couple days ago, the husbeast decided to download some program or other, which lead to a virus, which led to reformatting his hard drive (which is the hub for our home network), which led to the server crashing (it was about ten years old) and then the Ashley River ran with blood and some locusts came through and ate everything, and the Four Horsemen showed up asking for a water refill for their bong. Or something. And I think there was a meteor strike, and pie throwing. It gets a little foggy.

Anyway, the husbeast has, in a nutshell, re-networked the house and I now have internet service again. Contrary to local legend, I did not melt like the Wicked Witch of the West when deprived of a connection. Nor did I end up in a padded room. (At least not that I'll ever admit.)

Last night the husbeast and I had a conversation that went something like this:

HIM: We're gonna be without internet for a while longer.

ME: Well, shit, what am I supposed to do? Low tech crap like reading books and knitting?

HIM: You could get medieval and spin something.

ME: Nah, spinning wheels are late middle ages. Real high tech.

HIM: Yeah, to get medieval you'd need a drop spindle. Why do I know this? It's just wrong.

ME: Shall I start talking about nuclear power plants or gear boxes?

So, yeah. Good times. The Goob took the opportunity to assert her two-ish-ness, among other things deliberately spitting water on the furniture and stripping naked at every opportunity.

I did get phases two and three done on the hex jacket: The neck ribbing is knit on, and I did the underarm seams. (There were some questions, and this IS the overdyed version. That part's already done.) Now all I have to do is block the skirt portion and sew it on.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Phase one complete.

Now starting on the neckband, to put off the sewing-up until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Yes. I finally darned in all the ends on the hex jacket. (Well. All the ends on the bodice. I'll get to the skirt tonight. Really. Honest. I swear.) Since there had been mild interest in how I finish things, I snapped a few photos as I went.

Generally, I darn ends into seams, especially when there are lots of seams handy, like there were in the case of the hex jacket, what with picked-up bits going off in all directions. Thread darning needle (I like the Clover ones with the bent points), run along selvege on wrong side of seam, pull through.

After that I usually give the seam a stretch to make sure it WILL stretch, and distribute the yarn across the selvege, then snip off the leftover yarn with about a 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) tail. After a few washings and wearings, once the yarn's moved around and stuck to itself a bit, the ends can be cut closer without worrying about them pulling out. Usually at this point I just forget about it, though.

There were several knots.

Often I'll leave them as-is, and either darn in the ends or ignore them completely, as the mood strikes. This time, I was worried about how the knots would affect seaming, and the drape when it was finished, so I picked them out and darned everything in more properly. As often as not I leave the knots. I've no moral objection to them. If it doesen't unravel, then by golly, it's done right. (Though having it look good is a worthy goal.)

As for the Goober? Well, she decided last night to wash some yarn, like she sees her Mum doing all the time.

Thankfully it is scrap yarn I keep around to skein up GOOD yarn. After a blistering lecture, the Goob went on to smear snot on the cat (Sekhmet was regally unamused). Then she got put to bed an hour and a half early.

Parenting seems to be a lot like beating your head against a wall. Only with more snot.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It was inevitable.

I caught the Goob Germs. Spent yesterday half asleep in the recliner, while the Goob ran wild through the house. The new game is for her to take off all her clothes; I wasn't up to an argument, so she ran naked most of the day. What the hell. It's summer. Today I've still got a fever but the cold medicine is having at least a mild effect and I feel slightly better. Which means I can sit around and KNIT!

Or spin. I finished plying the carbon fiber.

The husbeast and I have talked it over... we've agreed it's too damn heavy to knit up into a husbeast-sized sweater. He did allow that he'd like a hat, and I've got some teflon-treated wool I can use for the ribbing of the hat, if I need to, for stretch. There's no real disapointment or stress; the whole thing was my mad idea, and he was amused enough to go along with it - what techie would say no to a carbon fiber garment? We've discussed what to do with the rest of the two pounds (good grief) of carbon fiber, and I'll be knitting scarves for several family members who will find a stealth scarf amusing. That's what this first test knit will be, a scarf.

However, looking at this stuff, and dealing with it, I suspect what this fiber REALLY wants to be is lace. Yup. It's easy to spin finely, and the weight would give it lovely drape. Maybe with some amusingly appropriate beads. I think jet would work.

Incidentally, this stuff is BIZARRE when it hits water. It gets hard, somehow. Very strange. You could probably fool someone into thinking it's silk, until you tried to wash it. It's very much a 'what the fuck?' experience. Once I get a little better at the whole thing, I will be writing up what I've learned on spinning this stuff.

As I've said before, I consider this blog as much documentation for the Goober's childhood as anything else, so below I document some hilarity from last night. If you're here for the fiber, skip it. As always, translations in brackets.

Sekhmet was sprawled out across the floor, on her side, as cats are known to do when it's hot. The Goober took a look, came to me, and said "Mumma. Titty bwoken." [Mumma, kitty's broken.] I explained that no, she wasn't broken, she was just hot and a cat. The Goob thought about that a minute, then said "Titty need noo batwees." [Kitty needs new batteries.] Then she handed me some pretend batteries. I figured, when in Rome, and pretended to put the batteries in the cat. At which point, Sekhmet got up and walked away in disgust. The Goob said "Aw fits!" [All fixed!] and also walked away, delighted with herself.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I'm thinking of taking a break from cable-knitting and stealth spinning to - finally - get the ends darned in on the bodice of the hex jacket. Then I need to start it soaking, so I can give it a quick dye. Then it'll be time to block it to within an inch of its life. Swearing all the while, I imagine.

To address a few comments over the last few days:

- I do not accomplish this stuff and retain my sanity, with a two year old in the house. Who ever said I was sane? (Seriously, though, the Goober's as good a two year old as you'll ever find.) Multi-tasking is actually good for my pain management; there's some fancy psychological name for it, but basically it amounts to not sitting around, thinking 'gosh, my arm hurts'. So in that respect, the more distractions, the better.

- Sekhmet isn't exactly named after the Egyptian goddess. She's named after a cat in a series of books (the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters; the first book of the series that mentions Sekhmet is "Seeing a Large Cat") that was named after the Egyptian goddess. Which is kind of hair-splitting, but there you go. There are all kinds of cats in the books, all named after Egyptian dieties (the main characters are Egyptologists), and I'd always planned to name a cat Bastet, if I ever got a cat, after a cat in the books. But when I got this beast, she was more like the Sekhmet, in the books, so... here we go. Then I found out she's such a bitch she deserves the name, anyway.

- We thought we peeled all the stickers off the Goober before bed time last night, but of course they keep turning up. I found a couple on my blanket this morning, and while we were out at the Air Force base today, she turned around and she had one stuck to her arm (probably still there from yesterday) and another on the butt of her dress, which she hadn't had on yesterday (no idea).

- I found a photo of a carbon fiber sitting on top of a human hair.

Not sure if the carbon fibers I'm dealing with are EXACTLY the same as that (that one was made for industrial purposes, mine is made from carbonized bamboo fiber by the older, Thomas Edison method - skip down to the 8th paragraph, or more general info about carbon fiber here), but it gives you a good idea what I'm dealing with. I'm plying the stuff today, but there will be no more drafting or pre-drafting for a while; my GOOD hand (at least good in comparison to the bum hand) is having muscle spasams from spinning two bobbins of the stuff yesterday. At least now, seeing that photo, I understand why the damn stuff is invisible. The husbeast is already muttering about damage to the vacuum cleaner.

It is acting like silk, once spun and plied. Major drape, no real 'memory', very dense. No freaking idea how I'll knit this up and make it look masculine. But I've got enough to spin an estimated 2400 yards... anyone got any ideas? I'm thinking plain old raglan pullover in half-brioche rib. With a beer chaser.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Good times.

Just like the weekend, everyone here is still sick. Except, oddly, me. (Although it could be said I AM SICK TO FUCKING DEATH OF SNOT, COUGHING, AND WHINING.)

The Goob spent most of the day looking pitiful:

Though she did perk up a bit when I gave her a sheet of stickers.

Since we were in my office most of the afternoon, I thought I'd work on spinning that carbon fiber. Uh. Yeah. I've got a love-hate thing going with the carbon fiber. When all is going well and it's drafting properly, it spins like a dream.

Unfortunately, when you put it down to, say, go to the bathroom or make a cup of tea, or take a break so your hands don't fall off, things like this happen.

Makes you happy to be alive, I tell ya.

The fiber is so slippery, though, even snarls like the one above are kind of easy to smooth out. For the spinners among us, what I'm trying to do is worsted-spin a longish staple (six to eight inches) fiber that's as slippery as silk (possibly moreso) and I suspect also has a smaller micron count. Someone walks through the room, and the 'wind' from their passing makes the stuff drift away. And the single fibers are practically invisible, so you can feel the fuckers on your skin, but can't find them. I'm starting to wonder if inhaling them will give me black lung or something.

Anyway, I'm considering a full-blown treatise on this stuff, what it is and how to spin it, because there's almost no information on the 'net about it. (Spin from the fold, they say. My pudgy white ass, I say.) Assuming I figure out what I'm doing well enough to have worthwhile information to share.

Oh, and the carbon fiber project is going to be called Stealth. I mentioned to a group of non-knitting friends that I was spinning carbon fiber, and one guy said "uh... you're knitting a steath bomber?" So there we go. The Stealth Sweater.

And lastly, an editorial comment from Sekhmet:

"The bald kitten is in my spot. And it's using my blanket. It has put stickers in my fur. I demand you make it sleep outside and hunt its own food."

Monday, July 07, 2008

It's good to be a fiberhead.

Well, everyone at our house is sick as a dog. Our heads are full of snot, which makes all of us cranky and bad-tempered, at which point we all whine at each other and get more cranky and bad-tempered.

Over the weekend I left the Goob and the husbeast to be whiny and cranky with each other, and knit:

This is all I'm working on at the moment (though I should be sewing together the hex jacket). It's the Christmas sweater for my father-in-law. See the stitch holders? Those are the arm pits. I'd like to have the body done by the end of the week but I'm through setting goals for myself. They just make me neurotic. (Those who are new to the blog and don't believe me, hit July, August, and September of 2006, in the archives, for proof. For those who HAVE been around a while... remember the State Fair? 'Nuff said.)

A couple months ago I had that two-pound wad of merino roving lurking... I divided it (or tried to divide it) into four-ounce hunks, and dyed it. Most of the hunks came out to about five ounces, and I wound up with some extra little hunk of wool that I dyed with orange and pink speckles and called "Clown Fish". Over the weekend, I spun it up. It was more for practice than anything else, and then I chain-plied it, again for practice.

No idea what in hell I'm doing with it (there's about a hundred yards there, and it's heavier than the majority of yarns I use), but it kept my hands busy. Which kept me from killing the other humans in my house. So it's all good.

THEN. The big news. Finally figured out how to spin the carbon fiber.

I'm treating it like silk. After reading up on the 'net, I had another go at it this afternoon, and had success! It's fairly even and there are very very few lumpy bits. (I'm picking out most of the slubs as I go, and there aren't many of those, either.) Should make a nice, comfy sweater. I'm afraid I'm going to call this project "Bullet Proof" even though I KNOW carbon fiber isn't bullet proof, just because it sounds amusing. Well. I could name it "Vroom" ('cause carbon fiber is used to make car parts). Hm. I'll think on that a bit.

Anyway, while the in-laws were here I showed my father-in-law the carbon fiber for the husbeast's sweater and my father-in-law couldn't stop laughing. I hope to have enough yarn left over to knit my father-in-law a scarf with it. Maybe with some teflon-treated wool (from Dale of Norway) for variety, and to make him laugh more.

It's good to have hobbies. I don't think any of us would have made it through the weekend, otherwise.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mumma, dat a big cricket.

Until today when it started raining, it has been very dry, here. Which means bugs come into the house looking for water (I suspect the fuckers are also drawn to the air conditioning0. And thanks to living in this swamp, the major bug we get is cockroaches. My favorite. Yay. Can't get enough of fucking cockroaches.

The other day, I noticed the cat chasing something across the floor very intently, and got up to check it out. Unfortunately the Goob had also noticed, and followed along. Sekhmet had cornered a two-inch cockroach.

What does the Goob do? Runs and gets her magnifying glass. Looks at the bug, and says "Mumma, dat a BIG cwiket."

And I, who wanted to shriek and jump up and down and swear, was forced to suck it up and say "That's a cockroach, baby. They're icky."

To which she replied unconvincingly, "Oh. Icky." and tried to pick it up.


Anyway, I killed it without screaming, scaring the kid, or teaching her any new words. (How the fuck did I wind up the grownup? Why am I the one having to be responsible?? This is insane. I'm the last person on earth who should be in charge of anything.)

I will skip the details of the other three we killed that day, except to say "Good kitty." And I hope the Goob doesn't see Sekhmet eating cockroaches and decide to try it herself. The kid's already tried cat food.

Yesterday we were going to take the Goob back to the water park for more fun and games. Until she started the day with a screaming temper tantrum. During the fun, she grabbed my hand and threw herself on the floor. Which led to big doses of painkillers, which led to cranky mum, and the tantrum sealed it anyway; no park. We did kick around the idea of trying again Sunday morning, but it's due to rain the rest of the week. But I've gotten a lot of knitting done on my father-in-law's Christmas sweater. (If my hand will hurt no matter what, might as well knit, right?)

MY luck, now the cockroaches will come inside to avoid the rain.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sekhmet, you fucker.

That's my camera strap she's chewing on.

Anyone in Alabama want a cat?

I've got a friend in Mobile with some kittens. Free to a good home. Let me know, I'll relay the information.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A photo montage of bad finishing.

Since all of you seemed so relieved to know you aren't the only ones, I went to the yarn closet and pulled out a random handful of knitwear, and turned them inside out. Then I took photos.

One of the first things I noticed was that the hallmark of my alleged finishing (if it doesn't unravel, it's finished, right?) is ends sticking out all over. I darn them in and then deliberately leave long ends, so I know they won't pull back out. My memory isn't what it used to be, but I think this is what started the habit:

This is the infamous silk throw that I've bitched about before. It's tussah silk that was full of twigs and lint and gunk. When I knit this, I'd never worked with silk before and didn't realize even tussah noil is slippery. So instead of joining in new yarns at the edge with a nice big freakin' knot, I joined them in any old where. Once I darned the ends in, I clipped them short, and washed the blanket. When it dried, I realized the ends had pulled loose. Thankfully reason prevailed and I didn't cut them again; they'd just keep pulling out until I had lovely holes in the knitting.

Some more 'ends stuck out' that I have no intention of fixing:

A raw, unfinished, rather horrifying steek, after cutting:

A game of shove-the-end-anywhere:

Fucking KNOTS:

And just so you know, seed stitch in the round, with stripes? You will NEVER be able to join in new colors without it looking like a total clusterfuck:

Take comfort. You are not alone. I hate finishing. When I say "do it right", I mean sewing straight seams and making it look nice from the OUTSIDE. Fuck the ends.

Oh, and Sekhmet helped.


Anyone curious about the thing Sekhmet's standing on (which is also the source of the seed stitch and green ends photos, plus the scary steek), it is the Starry Night Ruana Thingie. Details and better photos here.

In other news (since I use this blog as a sort of journal to keep track of the Goob's development) I got the first use of the infamous "Why?" today. She'll ask "How dat work?" and "What dat?" all the time, but this is the first time I remember her saying "Why?" THE FIRST STEP ON THE ROAD TO HELL!!!

Oh, and about the cleaning thing? Um. Yeah. My living room looks like this:

And... there are... ends... to darn in on the hex jacket.

Heavy sigh.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

All done.

Except for darning in the ends. And overdyeing the bodice. And putting on the bodice collar. And sewing it all together.


For those who aren't on Ravelry, here's a photo of the original sweater, from Vogue's last holiday edition:

As you can see, I've tweaked the colors a tad, but otherwise I'm knitting it as-is. The original is knit in some kind of Berroco gods-know-what, and I did mine with hand spun (the color sequenced part) and hand-dyed Bare from Knitpicks (for the semi-solid blue part, including most of the skirt, above). I confess. I'm a Berroco snob.

Now it's back to the cableknit for my father-in-law's Christmas present. I'll be posting, probably tomorrow, about armholes.

Q&A: There've been some questions in the comments.

Someone asked how I darn in ends. I didn't answer because I don't want to admit I really suck at it. I just shove 'em in anywhere they don't show on the right side of the fabric; seams and edges and joins between colors are good places to hide them. The bodice of the hex jacket has, uh, knots. I tie the ends together if it's somewhere it won't show, like an edge that will be seamed. Someties I darn in the ends after the knot, sometimes I just clip and ignore.

There is also the eternal question I get, of how I do so much knitting with a kid in the house. Well. I don't do a lot of cleaning. The husbeast and I have been married about sixteen years, and quite a while back, I noticed he was going along behind me and re-cleaning everything. So I quit cleaning (in terms of dusting and like that). Then, when I broke my hand, he had to take over ALL the chores for about a year. After that I gradually went back to doing some things, but others have remained his domain. For instance, I have offered several times to make the laundry my job again, but according to him, I do it wrong. (Marry an OCD neat-nick. You'll never clean again, but you will regularly contemplate homicide.) So these days, my chores consist of cooking (and related kitchen cleaning-up, but even there the husbeast takes over a lot 'cause I do it wrong), picking up Goober toys (ugh), and attempting to keep horizontal surfaces like the kitchen table uncluttered. So I've got a good bit of knitting time, when I choose to apply myself. Lately I've been on fire, knitting-wise, and have run with it.


Yes, I've been doing that, too. I finished up the tail end of a couple balls of roving and plyed (plied?) it all together, more as practice than anything else. It turned out to be quite possibly the ugliest thing I've ever spun.

It may get turned into another skinny scarf and foisted off on someone for Christmas, but it is very, very, VERY low on the priority list.

Then I started working with the Black Diamond/Carbon Fiber for the husbeast's Christmas sweater:

I THINK I'm going to love this stuff. 90% of my spinning has been with merino wool, and so my technique needs some major adjustment to spin this stuff. As we all know, most adjustment periods are a royal pain in the keester. But I love the color and texture (yeah, yeah, it's gray; I don't intend to do an entire magazine in the color), and I already know I'll love knitting it up. So I hope I'll be able to tweak the spinning technique to make that enjoyable, too. Anyone got any advice to share on worsted-spinning long fibers? I'm about to try a distaff, used the same way as flax is spun.

Otherwise, nothing much going on. My utterly brilliant child just announced "red and blue make purple" which has made my jaw drop, because we haven't even BEGUN on painting and color mixing. For the Goober hair fans, she's finally letting me put barrettes in her hair.

And Sekhmet is still tired.