Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The Goob was a fairy princess. She wore her wings over her winter coat - it was raining and forty degrees out there. I'm now stuck with a huge bowl of candy 'cause only the very local kids came around tonight.

She wanted to go as Olivia, but we got to the costume store and she spotted the wall o' wings, and she just had to have the blue and purple ones with GLITTER. So, fairy princess again. For the third or fourth year in a row. I've lost track. But, hey, you're a girl, you're six, you gotta be a fairy goddamn princess, right?
If you can't tell, she's wearing her glasses, under the mask. I was standing around, pondering cutting holes in the sides of the mask for her glasses, or something, and while I was going over every complicated scenario, the Goob solved the problem herself.

Oh, and she also demonstrated her geek heritage.
The husbeast and I mostly carved it, but she picked it. Insisted. ANGRY BIRD! Next year I'm using a hand-held jigsaw. Power tools are my friends.

While everyone was running around trick-or-treating, I ducked over to visit with the neighbors for a bit. One of the first things she asked was, "Hey, that wheel thing you use on the back porch. I keep forgetting to ask. What the hell is that?" It's my spinning wheel. Heeheehee. She wanted to know what I DID with it. I explained how I like to spin and knit socks, then wear them and feel clever. Her husband, an engineer, thought that WAS pretty clever.

Friday, October 28, 2011

KAL 07.1: Where we're at.

And where we're going.

There was some concern about the last round of directions. So to answer them, first, a photo of a finished EPS sweater:
The shaky orange line is where your needles are, right now.

Yes, there is more than 100% of stitches on the needle. You'll need that extra fabric to put your boobs and shoulders into. It is supposed to be there. (As I recall, you should be in the neighborhood of 138% right now, but don't fret if you're of by an inches' worth of stitches.)

Yes, at the moment, the arm pits are giant gaping holes. That's okay. We'll be grafting the arm pits shut as part of the finishing. Think of them kind of like inside-out sock toes, if that helps. (If it confuses you, forget I ever typed it.)

We will begin decreasing all those extra stitches again quite soon, and quickly; eight stitches every other round. It creates the perfect shoulder for a casual sweater.

All is well. You're doing fine.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The global village.

This is one that's been making my brain hurt for a while.

The husbeast, since he retired, has been working at a factory that builds turbines. He inspects them; makes sure they aren't cracked, that the welds are solid, that no one machined it too small by accident. That kind of thing*. The factory is owned by an international conglomerate that builds all sorts of things meant for power plants, refineries, and like that. Major, very large, heavy industry.

A few months ago, he mentioned to me that the factory was going to be doing a new trick; testing the turbines. Not just the bits they build here in SW Pennsylvania out in the boonies, but big, hunormous things shipped in from all over, the finished products built by his factory and others, in working order. It turns out, the conglomerate was running their main 'test floor', as they call it, in Japan. Since the tsunami knocked out the reactors there, they've been on power rationing and don't know when it'll end. Looking around, they decided the best facility to take over the job would be, yes. This place here in the boonies of Pennsylvania.

While all this made sense to me, I was thinking big picture: HOW much were they going to spend, shipping stuff halfway around the world for testing? I knew the turbines the husbeast built were big, but geez, how big could they be? So I asked how much power they were expecting to use, that it was worthwhile.

100 megawatts. They needed 100 megawatts of power.

I didn't run around doing the Doc Brown "ONE POINT TWENTY-ONE JIGAWATTS!?!" while tearing out my hair, but it was a near thing.

The output of an ENTIRE power plant, the WHOLE DAMN THING, is between 400 and 600 megawatts. (It varies a lot; fuel, conditions, design, etc. But that's the neighborhood. Nuclear submarine reactors produce about 20 megawatts, at least according to public info.) That joke we all make about how we turn on the air conditioning in our house, and they know it at the power plant? IT WILL BE TRUE for this test floor. They're having to put in a power grid substation for it. A hundred megawatts.

We are living in the future. A tsunami in Japan has created a shift in the power grid in rural Pennsylvania. Look out for butterflies.


*The husbeast's job consists of all sorts of wild and crazy methods, from the very, exceedingly simple to the really Meet George Jetson futuristic stuff. The first thing he did when he went to work there was make them buy new measuring equipment like calipers. He's the one who calls regular rulers "a fucking wooden stick" with a lot of sneering. One night he was asked to check some parts for cracks, just a quick check. He was in a hurry, so he walked along them and hit them with his flashlight. Ding, ding, ding, thunk. He pointed out the thunk and said it was cracked. He was right. This is where the term 'dead ringer' comes from and goes back into prehistory in bell making. The guys he works with act like he's a combination of Gandalf and Mike Holmes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

KAL 07: Joining it all up.

Yes. FINALLY. Really sorry.

Having read my blathering post, I've come back to the top and am putting in a checklist of steps, so that -hopefully- between the short list and my blather, it will make sense. If it doesn't, you may pelt me with acrylic yarn. Or ask questions. Whichever seems most appropriate.
-Figure 8% of your 100% figure. For me, it is 18 stitches. (222 x 8% = 18) These are your armpit stitches.
-Knit across the body to where you're putting the first sleeve. Put armpit stitches on stitch holders, both on the body and the sleeve. (I suggest using an even number of stitches for the body, and one more for the sleeve, to make grafting easier later; mine was 18 stitches body, 19 stitches sleeve.)
-Put the two arm pits together so they meet, like they will when the sweater is finished.
-Put some kind of stitch marker on the body needle. Knit the sleeve stitches onto the body needle. Put another stitch marker. Knit across the back of sweater.
-Repeat for the other sleeve, when you knit across to it. Don't forget the stitch markers.

Confused? I hope to hell not. Details, blather, and photos of the process below.

So. The whole point of doing a sweater is, you know, having a sweater. It needs sleeves. The sleeves need to be opposite each other, on the body. Can't stress that enough. And if there's a cardigan opening, it needs to be equidistant, between the sleeves. Sure, you're laughing, going "no kidding", but there have been sweaters produced with arms in the wrong place. More than once. And I'm not the only one who has done it.

Now, if you'd marked the sides of your sweater as you knit the body, with stitch markers or loops of string, you know where the arm pits go. If not, you might wanna do that, now. Get your 100% figure, divide it in half. That gives you the number of stitches on front and back. (My 100% figure is 222, so that's 111 each, front and back.)

Remember, steek stitches (for cut cardigans) do not go in the 100% figure. And the steek? It goes in the middle of the front. Between the arms. Just sayin'.

You will put armpit stitches on holders (I suggest actual stitch holders, rather than putting them on a string, because the string allows too much stretch and distortion). Then you will put all the other stitches on a single circular needle: Front of sweater, outside of sleeve, back, outside of other sleeve, then the front again. (Giving a quick overview before digging into details.)

Why don't I shut up now and put up some pictures? There's an idea.

Sleeve with armpit stitches on stitch holders.
Yeah, yeah, I know there's technical terms for this stuff, but y'all know what an armpit is, don't you? If you can't tell, there, the yarn end for the sleeve is right in the middle of the stitches on the holders. It will make grafting a little difficult later, but if you're going to have a bunch of darning and irregular rows meeting, you want it buried in your arm pit, not out on your shoulder for God and everyone to see.

Body, with stitches on stitch holders.
I use the body yarn to knit the sleeve into the needle with; the end of the sleeve yarn is in the armpit.

Getting ready to knit the sleeve into the body needle.
The sleeve is on the left, the body is on the right. Both sets of armpit stitches are together in the middle. The sleeve needle is silver, the body needle is blue. With this manouver, all the stitches will wind up on holders (armpit) or the body needle (body and sleeve).

With the sleeve and body on the body needle.
Reading the stitches left to right, from where my hand is holding the tips of the needles, there are sleeve stitches, then after the stitch marker on the right side, center of the screen, are the front body stitches. (The last stitch marker, upper right corner marks the steek, central front, because I'm making a cardigan.)

From there, I knit across the back and repeated the entire process on the other sleeve.

The advantage of doing it this way, rather than simply shoving stitches on and off needles and shuffling them around that way (which you are welcome to do instead) is, it reduces the odds of dropped stitches. It also makes it possible to knit one of these sweaters with just two circular needles, one for sleeves and one for body. Knit on the first sleeve, knit to where the second sleeve belongs, use your newly empty sleeve needle to make the second sleeve, knit it on, and you're ready to go.


With the sleeves and body put together, you need to knit an inch or two plain. This dictates the depth of the arm holes in your finished product. That is largely a matter of personal taste. I would do at least one inch, possibly two or three, depending. Things to consider:
-Smaller people need less arm room than larger people. (Kid sweater? One inch is fine. Medium adult sweater? Probably two. Really large adult sweater? Consider three.)
-Jackets and cardigans and pullovers intended to be worn over other clothes are a great deal more comfortable with larger arm holes.

For reference, and if anyone's curious, I'm doing probably two and a half inches on mine. It's a cardigan and I like my clothes on the loose side, usually.


After this will be shoulder decreasing and possible neck decreasing. Now's the time to decide if you want a crew neck or a V-neck.

Catch up.

You know, I am continually amazed at the drugs that are legal, and the drugs that aren't. I've spent a month going through withdrawal from a prescription drug, AFTER weaning off it for two months before that. And it's been worse than the time I took Percocet several times daily for a year, then quit cold turkey. But marijuana is illegal. This makes no fucking sense to me. (For those just checking in, I've got a chronic pain thing going on, and all this is under doctor's supervision, legal, and blah blah. Just annoying as fuck.)

I don't think I've gone two weeks without blogging since I started this thing in 2006. This whole mess royally pisses me off. Royally.

Anyway. I will comment on comments, because I got nothin', but I wanted to let youse guys know I'm still alive.


Vogue Knitting. A designer checked in and left a comment on the last review (it's over there). She asked me to correct the spelling of her name. Oops. Sorry about that. Sincerely. I did fix it, and cut and pasted it straight from your e-mail, so I hope it's correct now.

The designer also clarified the sizing issue with VK, and confirmed what we already know - that they dictate the sizes, not the designer. I guess she didn't read back further to realize we know that too. But at this point, I'm over blaming designers for the shitty sizes in VK, and I'm sorry if that last review read differently. Don't get me wrong; I still think it's complete horse shit. I just realize the designers aren't the ones producing stuff in two ridiculous sizes.


Stink bugs. Someone asked if they really stink. Not exactly. The name, as far as I understand it, is in reference to how they work: When you squish a stink bug, they send off a pheromone or stink or something, and every other damned stink bug in the tri-state area homes in on it, and goes straight for your head. That's why people go to such extreme lengths to avoid smashing them; not the stink, specifically, but the result. I've also been told that inducing death by other means (pesticides and/or soap), they still stink and still bring in all their relatives.

Over the summer, I got mad and smacked one, didn't kill it, just swatted at it as it flew past, and it STILL called in all its icky little friends. They're evil. And disgusting. And pretty damn ugly, too.


The glasses. I'm calling the Progressives my vertigo goggles. Thanks to the drug fun I'm having, I can't be sure it's the glasses, though, so I'm still wearing them off and on to try getting used to them.

My optician's nurse had shared the "point your nose at what you want to see" tip, thanks to all of you who shared it. It does help some, but now I'm wondering if all the bobbing and weaving I'm doing has something to do with it. Oy. Well, I'll keep experimenting.


Last week was my birthday. The husbeast got me another folio of Niebling patterns. If I ever get through my current knitting list, there will be lace craziness going on around here. It's a great motivator; I desperately want to cast on the most insane doily I can find, but I can't 'til I get the KAL done, and some Yule gifts.

And speaking of, now that I've done some writing calisthenics (hey! I remember what a sentence is!) I am now off to write the LONG overdue KAL post.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mud and weeds and stink bugs.

Oh my.

At this point, I don't know if I'm so fucked up because I'm messing with my main pain medication, or because I'm sick. Most likely a combination of the two, 'cause I've definitely got a sinus infection. So, you know, FUCK.

Anyway. Other stuff I've found interesting lately. Let's talk about that. More interesting than green snot.


The big archeology news of the past week-ish, is this:
See the little lines, there? They're called flutings, and what they are is simply a spot where someone's run their fingers over some damp mud in a cave. Apparently they are found world wide, but the study that's been getting news is about a cave in France. (I don't know if France is REALLY the center of the world for cave art, or whether it just seems like that because they have been settled a looooong time and their countryside has been explored extensively.) The flutings in that picture there are possibly as old as 13,000 years.

See how they look like a kid did them? Ran their fingers through, did some doodling? That's because a kid REALLY DID DO IT. Scientists have done studies that make it possible for them to estimate the ages and genders of the people doing the flutings, and they've found that many of them were made by children! Also, the children have drawn not only on low walls, but up across high ceilings and very deep underground, so adults almost had to be helping them.

No one knows what exactly it means. And it's kind of nice that for once, the archeologists are actually admitting it. Some have admitted it COULD have a ritual purpose, but most of the spin on it seems to be saying it was little kids doodling, JUST LIKE THEY DO NOW.

Taking precise measurements, they can sometimes track on individual's work. They think the most prolific of the doodlers was a little girl, somewhere around age five. What this means is, 13,000 years ago, there was a little girl doing the exact same thing that MY little girl would do in a cave with muddy walls.

The mental image of a group of muddied-up children tumbling out of the cave after a day spent fooling around makes me smile. It's all so, well, NORMAL. Some things don't change.

I love history.

More detail and less editorializing (and also video) available at the NPR web site.


Also, I've been reading this:
"Weeds", by Richard Mabey. Basically, a history of weeds. Both culturally (what do we consider a weed, and why?) and botanically (how they grow and what they're good for). He's a plant freak, and reading the book kind of reminds me of reading my own blog posts about plants. So if you like the stuff you've read here on leBlog, you'd enjoy this book. It's fairly new, so your library should have it, if you're unwilling to spend money for weeds. Gardeners, it will help you. Plus, hey, plants. Plants are cool.


All else is much the same. I finished the one sleeve and started the next; this would be the next KAL post, but I don't want to try to explain something clearly while I'm tired and full of snot. So that's coming tomorrow.

There is a stink bug in my living room. This displeases me greatly. But if Sekhmet eats it, I'll try to get photos. CHINA. COME AND GET YOUR BUGS AND TAKE THEM HOME.