Tuesday, December 27, 2005

If the trip is from Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon

how much yarn should I pack?

I'm leaving directly from work tomorrow, to catch the train west, to meet Himself outside the urban density, to head to the Philadelphia suburbs, to be with his folks Thursday and Friday, before heading home Saturday. Fortunately, Himself will be stopping by during the day to pick up my luggage (remembering that the object of the exercise is not to see how much the suitcase will hold) so I don't have to try to carry that all with me.

So far I've wound 3 skeins of Cascade 220, with a 4th on the way. I've done a swatch over the weekend (4.75 st/in on size 4s), measured favorite and not-so-favorite sweaters to see where I want to head with these measurements, done some math, and I'll see about casting on tonight. It will be a classic Nalgar from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop, since there will be no separate sleeves to take care of. The thing starts at the bottom, goes up to the underarms, increases outward until the sleeves are as big around as they're going to get, the shoulders get woven together, and the sleeves which are about at elbow length get decreased downward to their cuffs. There's not a whole lot of thinking needed while executing this sweater, it's a matter of figuring out while your milestones will be and marching towards them. No need to get upset at interruptions, just lots of lovely knit, knit, knit while listening to the drone. Of the highway, of course.

For the city, I'm going to bring a spare sock in my purse. Light and easy to carry.
Since I'm at the toe of the first sock of the pair, maybe I need another sock project in readiness.

I'm really not thinking about what else will have gone on before we're back. If we're lucky there'll be amusing stories. If we're unlucky, there'll be even better stories.

See you Sunday!

Who's afraid of a little kitten?

Since the first felted hat this fall didn't work out so well, over the weekend I made a second one. It turned out much better. The New Zealand Woolpak of the first one is no longer available, so I used Wonderful Wool (Lamb's Pride Worsted hand-dyed) and the Fiber Trends hat pattern that I meant to use the first time (Felt Hat II AC-2).

This was a fairly quick knit. It qualifies as using up the good stuff, but Wonderful Wool is only $13.50 at Mind's Eye, and it used just a bit of the second skein, so it's not that expensive. The colorway is called Aurora and it's one of my favorites. The knitting is pretty easy. This time I felted it in Himself's dryer and it took one hour five minutes. The post-dryer mold for head shape was a Corningware round cassorole.

Drying is still taking place.

I also took the forlorn kitten with me, not having worked on it since about August, near as I can tell. Managed to figure out where I left off and finished a leg on the way to my folks yesterday. Finally came to terms that I was getting anxious about how it would turn out, therefore avoiding working on it. Working on getting over that.

Tommorow evening after work we head to visit Himself's folks in the Philly area. I'm taking the defensive knitting of a sweater, since their idea of conversation does not involve the participation of anyone other than the speaker. Design details tonight.

Monday, December 26, 2005

For now, back later with more

Your Christmas is Most Like: The Muppet Christmas Carol

You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...
And you also do a little singing.
What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Catching up on other things

Round here lately it's been all Peacock, all the time (to the exclusion of posting on many days), but now that the occasion it was knit for is over, it's time to check back on the rest of life.

This was a group effort for Melissa who moved to NYC back in April. Yes, it takes a while to get everyone's squares in! Melissa received the package on Sunday and has posted nice things about it here.

Last night I finally got to go to one of the Cambridge City Council meetings about saving the dance floor at the Huron Avenue VFW when the City makes a youth center there. It was an experience and I realized I really do have to start paying alot more attention to what's going on with my elected representatives. It's still far from certain we'll be able to save one of the last sprung wood dance floors (in this part of the world), but at least the issue didn't die last night.

In knitting news, I'm back to the fischu, trying to figure out how many repeats of chart C I've done and how many more I intend to do before declaring it finished. It's still deeper than it is wide, but I'm wondering if blocking will solve that (famous last words). It's still nice to have the yarn Lucy hand-dyed for me in my shades of pink getting used.

Back in the fall I had made a hat out of very nice Cherry Tree Hill yarn that I'd had in my stash for a long time because I couldn't bring myself to use it in case I ruined it. And it didn't turn out as I would have liked after felting, partly because afterwards I realized I had had a different pattern in mind that what I had used (dumb!). Since it's small for me, it will go to the Mitten Tree at Mind's Eye Yarns for the Somerville Family Network.

Turns out the New Zealand Woolpak is no longer available. So I will pick up two skeins of Wonderful Wool to make the pattern I do want. Taking another try with the good stuff.....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Finished Peacock Strut

As of this morning, the Peacock Shawl is finished and blocked. Good thing too, because the office party this is going to be worn to is tomorrow.

There's been alot of work done since Thursday. On Thursday not much knitting was done. I did laundry, hand wash, and went to see a matinee of the new Harry Potter with Himself. I'm glad I went. This movie seemed better done thant the last one. Of course with the last one I made sure to read the book before seeing the movie, and thus was conscious of how much had been cut. This time I went to see it cold, and didn't miss much.

Friday I faced up to the niggle about the middle section and ripped back about 10 rows. Something was off and the more I fudged the more I spread it around. So, by the end of the evening Friday, I was just beyond where I had left off that morning, but it was right.

Saturday I finished it off, did the crochet border and blocked it. I don't have good crochet skills, but I made it through this one. I was concerned that my chains of 8 would be longer at the end of the row than the beginning, thereby making the loops disporportionally large, but it stayed even. On the right we have the pre-blocking not looking like much picture.

Here we have me putting the blocking wires along the straight top right half of the shawl. As the shawl turned out too big for the twin futon to hold for blocking, I decided to do one half at a time.
Himself, even though he had decided to celebrate finishing on my behalf starting with dinner and continuing through the evening, was still helpful taking pictures and handing me pins. He had my share of the bottle, since I knew that blocking is something you don't want to do when you're wobbly.

Side view of pins in each and every one of those little crochet loops.

I'm not sure exactly what Himself was trying to show here, other than general setup and view of the knitting. At least it's in focus, even if he wasn't.

I think you can see the patterning more clearly in this.

So, blocking the right half took from roughly 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. First a good dunk in a cold water sink, a stomp in a towel to squeeze out the better part of the moisture, pinning out the right side, and then a quick respray to make sure everything was evenly damp.

At midnight it was still slightly damp so I decided to leave what to do with the left half until morning. Doesn't help that at about 10 I was 49 and even after 1/2 a pint of Ben & Jerry's didn't feel much improved. Was not about to deal with how to ensure that the left half would be blocked to the same size and at the same tension as the right half.

Got up this morning and realized there was a line of reflection down the middle. Re-dampened the left half, put blocking wires along the top edge, folded it over, pulled the left half loops over the T-pins for the right half, gave it a 2nd good spray and did my best to leave it alone. It was pretty much dry by noon when we had to get back to Cambridge. The bottom middle was a little wonky, not least because it curved over the edge of the futon. Once here, I spread it out so the bottom was straight and the motifs spread out, redampened and went to the concert. When I came back, all was well.

Leaving me to wonder what to work on next. There's the fischu to get back to, the abandoned kitten (still needing that last limb), other things that want to get started...... and defensive knitting for visiting the potential in-laws to think about in a week and a half.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peacock progress picture

Here's a progress picture of the Peacock Shawl, taken as I near the finish. You can see how few (few?) rows are left in the last chart. At this point it won't spread out to show the motifs, but they're coming together.

Hard to believe how big it's gotten. I've been getting more and more T pins for blocking, but I think I have enough. I first got enough to do the loopy edge, then had to go back when I realized I would need more for pinning out the blocking wires long the top edge.

Himself's spare twin futon won't know what's hit it...... though I'm starting to wonder if it's going to be too big to block on a twin.

After today I have two vacation days coming up, so I shouldn't have too bad of a time meeting the block on Saturday goal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Peacock Shawl - Edging is easier

The rows are still very long (and getting ever longer) but the knitting of the edging is much simpler. In the other charts you're pretty much taking it on trust that you're making it right, whereas with the edging there are largish blocks of knit stitches either growing or shrinking or having bits carved out of them. It makes it much easier to tell if you're on track or not.

It does remind me of choreography in a way. With contradancing there's phrasing and momentum that just tell you whether you're doing it right or not.

That doesn't mean I'm still not on tenterhooks until the blocking to see if the motifs all line up right. At this point there's so much crowded on the needle, it's really hard to spread it out for a good look.

Maybe pictures tomorrow.

The good news is I'm pretty much organized for Christmas, unless I hear of extra folks being invited, in which case I'll need presents. There is, however, a suprize invitation to Himself's parents for the end of the Xmas week. They were supposed to be busy this year. Looks like there'll be a defensive sweater in the works to keep me busy during the visit. (end rant now before it begins.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Going overboard works! The end is near!

Chart 7 is done as of about 6 p.m. tonight. I've now moved on to the edging chart and realize I have on the order of only 2 dozen rows to do before the crochet cast off.

For some reason, I was subtracting 224 from 249 and thinking it was another 40 or so rows. Eh. I'm now thinking I might even be able to catch a movie on Friday and still have the shawl finished in time.

At least I can still count to 8 and keep my balance. Lisa Greenleaf hosted a nice contra dance at the Park Avenue Church in Arlington last night. It was good to get out and dance, something I keep not remembering to do, or letting things get in the way.

Himself and I are starting to plan a chocolate party for January..... evites will be going out soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Planning or going overboard

When you realize you've set up the rows of the Peacock so you can do the purl back and not have to look at a chart on the 77 down from Arlington Heights and then back (pausing at Mind's Eye mid-way to do an actual look at the chart row), you might be going overboard on fitting in the shawl knitting.

Progress continues, as of 4 p.m. today I''ve completed row 212. As of yesterday, I added an extra vacation day this upcoming week, for a total of two. As a reminder the goal is a blocked shawl for wearing Monday December 19th, and it needs to be finished blocking by early afternoon Sunday December 18th, given our schedule.

Back to work on the Peacock. Teeth have been cleaned by dentist, need to floss better, no cavities, back to every six months schedule. For a $100 out of my own pocket for an every 4 month cleaning (that my dental plan won't pay for) I'll take up flossing. No wonder my health care reimbursement account ran out of money the first week in October.

Friday, December 09, 2005

When to stay put at work

Boston had whiteout conditions this afternoon. When you can't see from one side of Huntington Avenue to the Prudential Center across the street, that's the time you want to stay warm and dry at work and get things done. Especially if it's also thunder and lightening outside.

Things cleared by 5 p.m., but the streets are a mess. The T was crowded, but not overly delayed.

Himself out in Lexington, really got whumped, and is waiting for the nice man with the plow with whom he has signed a contract for driveway clearing. Scary thing is, the nice man with the plow's voicemail says "memory full," which implies everyone else with a contract is also calling him to find out when he'll be out with the plow to clear their driveway.

On the other hand, Himself reports that the x-country skiing on the bikepath was quite nice in the late afternoon.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What was learned yesterday

I spent a good portion of the morning feeling like I was channelling the Yarn Harlot......

Things not to do on Massachusetts highways while a passenger in a Subaru WRX:
1. Start a new chart of the Peacock Shawl, thereby losing your reference points of the row below to tell when you're off.
2. Don't start a row that has you reestablishing markers from a 12 stitch mutliple to a 24 stitch multiple, particularly when one doesn't line up on top of the other.
3. Don't be surprized when you get to the 1/2 way point and are one stitch off.
4. Don't try to tink back, especially double decreases, while on said highway. Ka whumpa ta bump a bump ka whumpa. Sport suspension, don't you know.
(4a bless whatever thought process had me put in a lifetime before leaving the house.)

We saw the teapot exhibit -- surprizing large, fairly interesting, if you're there, go. We saw the Taj Mahal exhibit, noting that it's all works that they already had in the collection, just put them together in one place. Had lunch in the atrium. I'm not sure what inspired the sandwich designer to put egg salad and salmon caper spread both on a sandwhich, but I think they would each make nice sandwiches separately.

Had quality time with the project. Finished tinking back and started counting to see if the last row of chart 6 was to blame. Supposed to have 173 stitches. First count: 172. Second count, using the chart and accounting for every symbol, came out correct. Third count, 173 stitches. I'll go with 2 out of 3. Reknit row 175, and it came out even.

Work has progessed since, even with the time spent insisting there must be errata for row 177, when instead I was misreading ssk, K3, k2tog, instead of the real ssk, k2, k2tog, because who doesn't have an odd number in between the decreases. Once arrogance was overcome, the row read correctly and work progressed further.

Today we head to New Hampshire. I'm not sure that Mountain Mohair will be an exact substitute for the Highland Style, but if he's set on Mountain Mohair and likes this pattern, we can be inspired by the pattern in Knitters and adjust the seed stitch borders on the size to make it work. Then again, this could be one of those dangerous niggles I tend to ignore.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Chart 6 done and 2 vacation days

I'm burning a couple vacation days today and tomorrow, and so I hit chart 7 of the Peacock. I need to block this a week from Saturday. Will it be done on time?

Today Himself and I are headed to the PEM for the exhibits on the Taj Mahal and teapots. And I work on the Peacock.

Tomorrow we go see my long-time (not old) friend Deb at the Woolery and discuss whether Mountain Mohair will substitute for Highland Style, or do we need to come up with another sweater to meet Himself's vision of a sweater?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Taking a brief break

No, work still continues apace on the Peacock, but I took a few moments to read some blogs.

Femiknit Mafia had the link to the Princess quiz on her blog, and....

The Noble Princess

You are just and fair, a perfectionist with a
strong sense of proper decorum. You are very
attracted to chivalry, ceremony and dignity.
For the most part you are rather sensible, but
you are also very idealistic.

Role Models: Guinevere, Princess Fiona (of Shrek)

You are most likely to: Get kidnapped by a stray

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

In other news, I'm up to row 169 on the Peacock and swatching to see if Green Mountain Spinnery's Mountain Mohair can substitute for Harrisville Yarns Highland Style (their worsted weight wool) for the Wonderous Woven Cables from Knitters Fall 2000.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Peacock - Row 163 done!

Even if I did have to tink back a bit last night, but only half a row. That took awhile.

We're at the point where rows are investments of time -- (163 x 2) x 2 = how many to do the work row and the purl back row. Don't distract me sweetiekins..... I've told Himself that while I would like to see the new Harry Potter, I don't want to take away from the knitting time now. Besides, the movies are okay, but I know the book story and I find it distracting to have book version going in my head while watching the movie version.

It' s the middle of chart 6, which feels good, and then I look at the sizes of charts 7 and the edging. I'm glad I've got another weekend and 3 vacation days and a bunch of evenings still left to go. We'll have a long car ride on Thursday up and back to the Woolery, and Wednesday we're going to the PEM, and are still discussing taking the train or driving.

Minding the store with Kimberly was fun and busy. It's good there were two of us there. Lots of folks came by, many of them new to the store. Interesting questions. And I never know how much yarn to advise someone it takes to make a scarf. I don't work in bulky weights that much.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Minding the Store!

Lucy needs a day off today, so Kimberly and I will be minding the store for her. Hope there's a lot of traffic.

In my usual totally overpacked way, I'll be bringing two projects -- the Peacock, and swatching for the sweater Himself wants. Like there's going to be uninterrupted knitting time.....

We were visiting further west in Massachusetts one day when he just was attracked to the Mountain Mohair and an idea for a sweater took hold. Now what pattern to make. I finally got through to him what it meant to buy one skein to swatch with (and he was able to procure the same in his LYS), there will be swatching, and then we'll visit my friend Deb in Wilton at the Woolery and see about getting this sweater going (after the Peacock is done).

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