Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shawls, like large breed puppies

It happens whenever I start a shawl with increases. They start so small, so quick to get across each row, so seductive to work more, this doesn’t take long.

Then they start to grow. It’s a marvelous, real world example of how compound interest works. Every other row has more stitches in it than the last. And it just keeps going.

The current shawl has come through the bounding puppy phase and I think is about to settle into the large animal who must be accommodated, but is still good company, phase. All the fancy shoulder shaping increasing needing close attention has happened, though there are still 4 increases every other row. Currently at about 3½ inches in length from the top of the shoulder shaping, it needs to have two rows repeated (garter, with the above mentioned increases) until it’s about 14 inches in length, or so. I’m a 5’ 1.5” fireplug, so there may be fewer than 14 inches. Then I get to add about 12 – 16 rows of a lace pattern (I don’t like the three on offer in the instructions so the Barbara Walkers are coming off the shelf), and then more garter to the finished length.

Good dogger. It may get set aside once the Knit-Out is done for the year in favor of the Forest Path Stole, but I have a feeling this one will wait patiently until I need another no-thinker, no fusser project.

You are Shetland Wool.
You are Shetland Wool.

You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a
little on the harsh side. Though you look
delicate you are tough as nails and prone to
intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are
widely respected and even revered.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hope I never have to do this

There's a blogger in Michigan who is having to auction her knitting books and stash because, she and her husband having just paid for their daughter's wedding, their high-school age son was in a car accident on his way to school and the insurance increase and having to make 3 years more payments on his car that's not drivable are going to do them in financially. September 27th's post is about the circumstances, today she has posts of the books/magazines and tomorrow's will be the yarn. Auction is to end on Sunday.

Still waiting for The Yarn Harlot

but the Porter Square Books folks are certainly getting reacquainted with my face.

In an unexpected move, they did have Knitlit the Third there last night. So far, I'm up to page 54, so not much to report. Stephanie's story on waiting at the airport with the planned knitting confined to checked baggage just rings true. I'm at the point where I pretty much have the current sock with me if I expect to go somewhere and sit down, even if I don't pull it out. Himself always has reading matter.

The December we flew out to Chicago to visit his mother, I had my tape measure questioned at the Warwick airport (security thought it looked like a tape measure on the screen, but could I please show it to them to confirm it wasn't a something else with gears in it masquarading as a tape measure). That was when the office had adopted 3 families for holiday giving through MSPCC and I was on a mission to make hats for all the kids. I'm not sure his mother knew what to make of me, but hey, it kept me busy and out of trouble. By the end of the visit, though, when Chicago's security was at the curb of the terminal pre-checking bags and they suggested the knitting be checked, my hands (to say nothing of the rest of me) were tired and I was ready to put it away for an afternoon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Angsting over (for now)

The two scarves for the contest at the Knit-Out are finished, though, of course, not finished (join in on the chorus) with their ends sewn in.

So, in the meantime, a new project is started. This comes from shopping the stash, something I bought a while back but, according to the copyright, not before 1999. Grand View Country Store has a booth each year at the Granite State Knit In, so I probably got it that June. The pattern is #134, Faroese Style Shawl and it came kitted with 7 skeins of shetland wool. A garter shawl is about what I need as "big thinking project" at the moment, though Himself had a comment along the lines of what did I need another shawl for. I told him I needed something ready in reserve as a gift. I'm not sure I'm thrilled about the yarn itself - it's not soft and it had a real cling to itself factor that would probably make it a really good felter. It could be I haven't used Shetland wool in a while, or it could be there's a reason the price on the ball-bands is $3.25 each from 6 years ago.

Yes, the kitten and the Forest Path will be gotten back to. After the Knit Out.

In other exciting news, my nine-year old nephew is trying out knitting. His mother's grandmother is being moved from her home into a care facility, he saw yarn and needles (presumably being thrown out), says he said to himself, "this is free, I should learn," and so he's trying. Of course, coming on the long car trip to the birthday party for my mother, he left the instructions at home, but there was a quick lesson from auntie. Auntie is putting together a spare bag (like she doesn't have how many spare bags to spare?) to send to him with Kid's Knitting, a tape measure (Patternworks giveaway), stitch holders, tapestry needles, cable needle, and partial skeins of colors of Lamb's Pride Worsted. I'd send him Stitch N Bitch, but I'm not sure how either of his parents would react to the title. If he keeps going, there can be more gifting.

Meanwhile my mother sits there for the afternoon and keeps saying, "he won't keep with it, don't bother." Ya know, you really can't slap your mother, particuarly at her birthday party. It's just not done. I say the kid has surprized us before with things he's accomplished on his own, let's give him a little encouragement for once.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

This will make no sense to anyone who doesn't live the life

but as a demo of the mental gymnastics I go through on a regular basis......

Wilson's Farms had their donut making going this afternoon and I bought one fresh, hot and dredged in cinnamon sugar for all of 50 cents. Yummers. So at 2:32 took a 3 unit bolus to cover it. Tested just now and was 116, right on target.

However, our plan for dinner (since the friends we had reservations with in the North End cancelled on us this morning) was to hike the 2 miles down the Bike Path to the Panera in Arlington Heights, get something there and hike the 2 miles back on what promises to be a clear if chilly evening with a bright moon. Exercise! a good thing! But can I do it at a 116, with how much more of this bolus still to come on-line without eating more?

And people wonder why I get so snitty about knowing details of activities. It's part of doing the calculus of daily life, folks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Happy Birthday, Lucy!

Another Mind's Eye Wednesday night knitting group and general good time out. Doria brought reduced fat, homemade cheesecake. I gave Lucy a gift certificate to Windsor Button for any tiara in the case. (Backstory - at the beginning of the planning for this year's Knit-Out, there was much joking about how organizing members would be able to find each other in the crowd, and the comment was that we would have tiaras. Lucy deserves a tiara. She's done a super job marshalling the troops to get things to happen.)

One scarf has reached a milestone and is ready for the next bit of trickiness. This is a sigh of relief to have reached it with a week and a half still to go, given that I wasn't sure how long reaching the milestone would take in the first place. I can't believe it took me how long to re-figure out how to graft garter stitch to itself. The other scarf is going to run out of yarn soon and, by definition, be done. We will be able to rejoin our projects already in progress. Some day, the kitten will get its fourth leg and a head and ears and who knows what else FiberTrends has in store on that sheet of paper.

Art and Fear is raising some good issues for me to think about what makes my projects stall. The kitten has a few complications with it. There are no long stretches of doing the same thing, so there's not much chance to relax into it, before you have to do more high-concentration knitting. There is a high potential of losing one's place in the directions (and the fellow anxiety-prone can speak with me about that later). Individual bits go relatively quickly and are intense. And then there's the issue of how this will felt at the end. How well will it sew up? Will the eyelash stay put or come falling out? Will the hollow belly felt to itself in the process and be unstuffable after? All answers can be avoided by, well, being compelled to enter a scarf contest that you had no intention of participating in a month ago.

On another note, I've been noticing lately there are more occasions when I'd like to be able to give someone contact info, and find myself without paper to write on, or they're trying to hear me spell out my email across other people talking, etc. I don't have business cards because I don't need them in my job, and they wouldn't feel appropriate to give out to social acquaintances.

The Avery company has a wonderful product, #5377, which will allow an individual to print what the Crane's people might consider social cards or calling cards. Where Crane's want $73 for 50 of what are mostly likely very nice, thermalgraphed, heavy stock cards, Bob Slate Stationers, for $13 and change, had packages of 25 sheets for 250 cards, relatively thin stock but we're not fussy, that go nicely through a laser printer. Name, blog and email addresses, five minutes being indecisive with the fonts, and I'm ready to pass these out. I'm thinking they'll come in handy at the Knit-Out, at the very least to have something handy to write down the addresses of other folk's blogs.

Surprize in the Mail

(Thank you, Stanley, for sitting so still).

Back in the Spring of 03, a friend told me this was in the process and word was it was due out that October.

Last October, when I was ordering another book, Meg at Schoolhouse Press, was expecting it soon and took my pre-order when I ordering something else.

And now, here it is in my mailbox. Robin Hansen has written 2 other books of Maine/Nova Scotian mittens, both of which are long out of print and missed. (Side note, she also wrote Knit Mittens in that series of knitting books that are hard-cover, spiral bound, and cut in the shape of the knitted object they're about which has some of the earlier patterns in there.) This book is a compilation and distillation of the first two. All those times you wish you could go back and rework? Yeah! I had a medium-quick glance at it last night.

In the front there is a new piece on hand/finger proportions and determining size that looks useful. She has a far more detailed discussion of "carrying color ahead" using two hands and consistant handage. There's a detailed discussion of the process of fulling the fisherman's mittens by hand (not washing machine) with pictures.

The patterns have been reformatted to the more current standard pattern writing style. Where the older books had paragraphs of text to plow through to find your size's mention in the string of all sizes, there are now sidebar grids of for size (across the top) do X (circle your column within) and then do Y for all sizes.

My old favorite of Striped Mittens is in there. I'm a real fan of wool mittens and two-color mittens in particular. The second color carried along behind forms a second layer. Okay, when it's cold here in New England, it's cold, winds can be brutal, and these mittens keep my hands happier than any others I've tried.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Boston Knit-Out and Art and Fear

Other things being worked on, besides the two scarves, are the Boston Knit-Out and Art and Fear.

The Knit-Out is coming up fast, hard to believe how quickly, but it is coming together. When you are asked to proof-read a program at the meeting, you know your event is coming soon. The Globe has promised us a mention on the day of. I'll be running the Mind's Eye booth, so Lucy can be free to run the Knit-Out. Come on by, please!

Art and Fear is bringing up things to think about, such as, at what point does hard work become indistinquishable from talent? How many people (including artists) think that art just happens, and isn't subject to drafts and revisions? How many people feel they aren't artists because they do have drafts, revisions, "failures."

Stuff to think on.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday morning with a cup of tea

There is scarf knitting getting done, but no pictures, yet.

In other news, Himself and I are planning what to serve for dinner at the co-birthdays celebration at his house next weekend (weekend closest to will be used up with the Knit-Out). It's a matter of schooling the lifetime vegetarian who, until he met me, never had to think about carbs or fats, about how a 40+ year type I, who's been doing low-carb low-fat since the Kennedy administration, is going to view the components of various dishes on offer. Add in a fussy-eater nephew who we're not sure will be able to come.... The puzzle came together when I realized I could serve the roast beef cold (cook it in the morning), and then the oven would be available for the souffle that takes about 45 minutes to bake -- too long to leave a roast on the counter. I'm gathering vegetarians have far fewer concerns with food poisoning than carnivores or they may be just lucky.

For my fortieth birthday, I'd like a contradance. Until then, for those looking for something that won't clutter my house, Audible offers gift certificates. I have 32 items in my wishlist, let alone 14 months into the future of books on My Next Listen it willl automatically purchase for me if I haven't used up my subscription credits for a given month.

Time to go work on scarves.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A quick update

I'm rushing on two projects I don't want to discuss in public that are due on October 2nd at noon. This limits the blog content.......

In good news, the Knit-Out bags are in! Mine is going to be used immediately, since my 4th amendment bag from last summer is getting kind of worn. And, even though I'm Episcopalian, there are times I do like to do a little evangelization.

We went dancing last night. Dan Pearl was calling at the Cambridge VFW. Much fun, a fair portion of newcomers to introduce to phrasing and basic moves. How much instruction about the role of a 2 in contra corners can you convey in an allemande? And the path they should follow as a 1? The Fall Ball is coming up October 15th. It will be Himself's and my 4th anniversary. Scary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pineapple Salsa

One baby gift for daughter born to co-worker and his spouse: done.

I have a policy I'm not sure the rest of the office realizes - 1st babies get sweaters, 2nd babies get fruit caps and 3rd babies, well, get booties or really odd hats. Here we see the Pinapple hat (FiberTrends #CH-15) done in Takhi Cotton Classic on size 6, 8 and 3 needles (as recommended by the pattern ahem), left, top-down view and right, as modeled by Stanley the felted flamingo. As noted previously, I'm not used to working with cotton, not that it misbehaved, but I don't find it as friendly and forgiving as wool. Nonetheless, it worked for this particular hat. It was an interesting project, but I'm not eager to replicate it in another material merely for the sake of experiment. Not when there are felted chickens in the offing..... Maybe someday, or maybe someone else will take up the cause and report back.

Below is the stem in the process of construction. The cast off end is used to secure the internal stem structure by being stabbed ruthlessly and repeatedly through the wad of rolled up rows, thereby holding them all in place. The tricky part comes when this top-heavy construction with a flat base about the size of a quarter needs to be attached to the top of the hat. Think securing a flagpole without either digging a hole or being able to erect guy-wires. The instructions suggest using the 4 outer leaves to help secure the stem by sewing them to the top of the hat. I did that and it helps, but it still seems fragile. The leaves as a bunch are going to flop no matter what is done to them and the only thing to hope for is that it's not so overbalanced that it falls off the kid's head.

I did one thing that wasn't in the instructions but seemed to make sense. They said to press the rolled band and the bottom leaves upward. Instead I sewed the rolled band to the leaves using one of the double strands of cast on, and then used the other to tack the back of the leaves to the hat. They don't stick up as I would like, but they at least stick out rather than down.

Next immediate problem is getting scarves accomplished in time for the Knit-Out contest. I have no idea what is compelling me to do this, other than that scarves can be used in Boston this winter so why not? The moebius will be a technical show-off pure and simple, just because the example in New England is executed in the wrong material. I've done this scarf a couple times for a friend who was in a post-doc circling pattern for awhile, waiting for the right offer of a professorship, each time in the colors of whatever academic institution he was attached to at the time. The other is an experiment in how dead-simple can an idea be and still count as original. But I'm not showing now.......

I'm trying to find time to read Art & Fear. I saw this book at the MFA, but I'm trying not to buy books if I can let the Library store them for me. The BPL has one copy, for in-library use only. The Minuteman Library System has several copies throughout the system, many of which were checked out. I've been making progress in the last year or two with breaking out of my color fear (though Himself proved invaluable when choosing colors to put together for the upcoming two-color scarf). I don't know if I'm a creative person, or just a good craftsperson, but I get paralyzed in some projects from worry that they aren't going right. Sometimes that worry is justified (see prior discussion re: gauge) and other times it's just anxiety. I need to learn how to recognize one from the other.

On another topic -- Does anyone know where and when the Yarn Harlot is appearing in Worcester later on this month? I need to get Knit-Out flyers to the event but I can't find it by Google. Also, for those looking for her new book, Porter Square books have 5 copies on order, 4 of which do not have my name on them.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Knowing when to restart

After my last post, I went to work on the Pineapple and realized I had a gauge and construction problem - the size 4s (because I always knit looser than the pattern, don't I) were too small and I'd knit the bottom leaves and the border together wrong way to, so the hat wouldn't come up right. Frog and restart. Used the 6 and 8 as suggested. Took about an hour and a half to get back to where I was.

The hat pattern itself is not difficult, though I found k3tog in worsted weight cotton to be a bit of a bear physically. If I put my right needle through the stitches backwards to loosen them up a bit, then put it in from front to back, that made it easier to do the k3tog. I don't think I've worked in cotton since I last did this same pattern as a pillow 4 years ago, and I had forgotten how different cotton is from wool in how it handles.

So, there is no hat to give co-worker Daddy this morning, but it should be finished tomorrow morning. There are 3 more leaves needed on that string, then sewing it to be a stem, affixing it to the top and doing the loose end thing. The rolled stockinette stitch and the bottom leaves will fold up to meet the yellow part, so the leaves are sandwiched in the middle.

I'm going to have to rethink this "I always knit looser" thing. Part of my problem I think is that for most of my sweaters (projects where gauge matters) I start with what gauge I get and then use EPS to design the sweater for me.

Waterfire will be discussed when himself gets pictures ready. It was a nice night.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I get ideas, I get ideas

(There's a song I've heard Louis Armstrong sing with those lyrics as the chorus. It's a favorite).

The Pineapple hat has its bottom leaves attached to its border and is about to start the yellow part.

So why am I panting to recreate a scarf I first did years back to be ready in time for the Boston Knit-Out scarf contest? I can't submit that scarf because it's done it Cotton Fleece. It's a fine looking object, but winter outer garments in New England constructed of cotton are a bad idea. If it gets wet, it will not warm and may contribute to frostbite. All scarves put into be judged will be donated to charity, therefore, it's a safe presumption it will be used for warmth rather than decorate a hat stand. So I need to count what I did last iteration and get it done it wool. Pix to come later in the month. And, having gotten ahold of Scarf Style through the Minuteman Library Network, I've confirmed my other idea for a scarf isn't in there, so there's another one to make.

Tonight Himself and I are taking a picnic supper (homemade gazpacho) to Providence for Waterfire. We've been before, tonight will be a cool, clear night for it. Maybe the vendor with the Eccles cakes will be there again. hmmmmmm. Raisins as filling in flaky pastry as big as two hands with sugar crystals baked into the top. One massive bolus, but worth it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Digging down to the reserves of perkiness

Okay, so I'm up and awake, though I'll note, for those who know what it means, that I was awakened by a 45 at 2:38 this morning. Inner reserves.

Progress so far of the Pineapple Hat - bottom leaves are done, that st. st. roll is mostly done. I'm using Cotton Classic and trying on size 4s given that I usually knit looser than the pattern recommends (pattern recommends using 6s and 8s). I may have to redo -- the leaves on the left are barely fitting around the 16 inch circular. Then again, this is for a newborn, so smaller than indended may be good.

Last night at knitting group I was just frazzeled enough that working on the 2nd charity hat from last Thursday was good. K2P1, and watch the multiple. I'm probably close to the 10" length where you start the decreases.

Other projects -- the Forest Path has gotten to tier 21 (of 23) finished on Monday, so once I'm done with this baby gift, I'll be back to that. The current sock for Himself is going through instep decreases. I found the kitten last night.... still missing that back leg and anything else left in the instructions.

And I have to get better at taking a bedtime BG, even if I think it's going to be high out of range.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Finished Book Dance?

I actually read a book, not skimmed it, not the front and the end and called it done, but read it all the way through.

Garlic and Sapphires is an interesting series of stories. I like the background in life, figuring out how things are done. I'm glad they included the reviews in the chapters that discuss how they (reviews) came about.

On the Pineapple Hat, I've done the bottom leaves, I'm most of the way through the st. st. border, then I need to decide do I keep going with the green and do the top leaves before the rest of the hat, ready to sew on the minute the yellow is done, or do I follow the directions in order and have a finished hat except for top leaves, and then have to do top leaves.

There may be status pictures tomorrow. Today was a rough day and at this moment I'm feeling like I'm not likely to be perky in the morning light. Tomorrow night, once I've made it through tomorrow afternoon (today will be continued, same theme, hopefully in a different manner), Himself is bringing homemade saag paneer for supper and Lisa Greenleaf is calling at the Cambridge VFW. What more can you ask for other than that karma cooperates and allows it to happen?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Garlic and Sapphires and the Pineapple Hat

After waiting for the better part of the Summer, today the BPL had a copy Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires waiting for me. I've read her first book, but not her second (don't know why) and am really liking this third. Since half-past lunchtime I've gotten up to page 90 and that includes having to put it down between 1-5 p.m. Good stories.

One of the emails waiting for me at the office was the birth announcement of that little girl for whom I was going to make that Pineapple Hat I meant to last week. Good thing co-worker daddy is out this week as well. Best get started on those leaves. I've made the Pineapple before, without the bottom ring and with a flat bottom to stuff as a pillow for a contra-dancing friend who works on tankers and container ships. Yes, it's someone's job to get goods over the ocean and around the world and he's working his way up the seamanship ladder. It seemed like a good housewarming gift.

We'll see which I make more progress on tonight -- the hat or the book.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What we've been up to in the last week or so

Thursday we had a very nice day-trip out to Mass MOCA and the Clark, found premium gas at $3.09, headed to Lenox, visited Colorful Stitches ever so briefly (found sock yarn that goes with the colors I normally wear), and wended our way home, to hear our President announce that we should not take unneccessary trips.

Along the way, I had planned to work on the Forest Path, but got to thinking that's a project for when I want to keep my head down and thoughts occupied (i.e., not on the other cars on the road and the bizzare behavior they may exhibit). So, I brought some blue/black Cascade 220 along, the Classic Ribbed Hat pattern I got from somewhere and K2P1ed my way through the countryside and got one and a half hats done.

Mass MOCA had a small exhibit about the Knitting Machine flag project done there at 4th of July. Neither Himself nor I are big fans of modern art, so we just wandered through the galleries before having some lunch. The Clark was more our scene, and we had a nice sit-down at the end in the Impressionists gallery with the Renoirs and the Monet Cathedral.

Since then we've had a lovely time of doing Not Much. Strolls to Arlington Heights for breakfast, or Wilson's to pick up produce. Watching tennis, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but makes Himself happy. Saturday we had a great time at Lisa Greenleaf's Night of Odd Dancing (the Magnificent Seven was a great dance!), at least until I perfumed myself with an unfamiliar soap at the half and spent the 2nd half with a pounding headache and a stupid feeling at having done it to myself. Sigh.

The news this morning says Massachusetts is getting ready to host refuges at the base on the Cape and I'm wondering who in government would know if these folks are going to need warm clothing. It's about time for me to clear out my collection of sweaters and I remember the exchange students from UC San Diego at UNH getting out long underwear and heavy coats in October thinking it was cold then. Anyone know if a "warm clothing for refuges being sent North" drive is needed or underway?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Still on vacation

Not much doing, but that's the sort of vacation I like. Mooching from project to project, making a little progress on each, getting ideas for doing other things.

Today we're headed out to North Berkshire County. It's a suprize where we'll exactly wind up.

(packing project(s) for the car......)

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