Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Still here, not much going on

The commuting fairies have been distinctly unfriendly this week, especially in the morning. Therefore, not much progress has happened on the hat.

Monday evening was devoted to revamping the template, which I'm surprised went as well as it did. Tuesday the replacement CGMS showed up. In the meantime, there has been very little progress on Himself's sweater.

Off to catch some sleep. Just one of those days when you wonder what is the length of the tail of some of these boluses. What does Himself mean commenting about unnecessary fussing? How can fussing be considered unnecessary?

Monday, November 27, 2006

How do you expect them to learn without experience

Dez in New Orleans has an excellent post about how children learn and worries over how they are no longer allowed to experience traditional methods.

Safety knitting needles indeed. What ever happened to "this is your tool, treat it well and respect it."?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What, me worry?

In the relationship between me and Himself, he has placed me in charge of any necessary stressing and fussing, because I'm a natural at it and I do it so thoroughly.

And now, long distance, he has set me a task. I'm not so concerned about the active volcano part, but more worried about how sick he was how few days ago, combined with his lack of experience with the ice climbing. On the other hand, presumably the guides have experience weeding out the over-confident and foolhardy, or they're really good at fetching the incompetent back to base.

Then again, if they've made you pay in advance, do they have an incentive to make sure you come back from the crater? Can you just give them a deposit with the balance due on return?

Today was much more relaxed than the rest of the weekend has been. Some shopping has been started, ideas for presents are being generated. And, as of 10:45 tonight, the front of Himself's sweater is at row 135. And, I discovered, when I did the back I left myself a note that the 23 inch mark I'm headed for happened at row 154 last time. We can but hope the row gauges match between the two pieces. I won't dare comment on how the yarn is holding out, but so far I'm feeling good about having enough.

After all, I have other things to fuss over.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

You know you're missing him when

This morning I had breakfast at Andy's. Standing up to go, there's a Christmas song on the speakers. Alvin, Simon and Theodore are singing that one of them still waaaants a hoola-hoop. And what crosses my mind? "You could waltz to that." Except there isn't a waltz partner there. Sigh. He owes me one.

On the other hand, I had a bit of comeuppance on the train to the folks tonight. I get the warm rib hat up to 11 inches and then pay attention to the directions for the decreases. And realize my K2 P2 rib should have been K4 P4 rib if my iteration is supposed to look like what her directions say to do. So I spend some time converting the decrease rates to suit the K2 P2 (and wondering if I should be making notes and will anyone care) and finish the hat. And then take the better part of the second skein leftover and start another hat, this time in K4 P4. This time I'm thinking of getting a second skein in black and doing a bee-stripe thing. So it still won't look like what the directions say to do, but hopefully no one will be too thrown by it.

So, anyone think I need to write up what I actually did with the K2 P2 decreases? Would anyone notice that the directions don't make that hat shown?

A couple finished objects later

The mitten tree at Mind's Eye Yarns is up and starting the collection for Somerville Family Network. Shown at the right is the 32 stitch scarf started last Sunday night. It's a k2 p2 rib done with one skein of Cascade 220. So it's a dual-purpose scarf. Yes, some kid will be warm, but it will also serve as an illustration for knitters coming in wondering "how much yarn do I need to make a scarf?" If they want it wider or longer, they should get two skeins. It's slightly longer than the Alice Starmore Book of Fair Isle, the Barbara Walker 2nd Treasury, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears and the 12th volume of Weldon's Practical Needlework, laid end to end. Yes, at the end I ran out of twenty dollar bills to lay down for scale.

At the left is the 4th interpretation of the Dairy Queen hat in worsted. It kept the same longer cast-on from the 3rd interpretation, but restored the number of rows before the decreases start. This one is much larger and looser than the 3rd, but, as always, it should fit someone. It is posed on a one-liter Poland Springs bottle.

I've moved on to Lucy's warm ribbed winter hat in Pastaza, again as an illustrative sample. And Himself's sweater is making some progress again. Just this morning it has moved from row 70 to row 82.

And, just to mention, today is one month to Christmas. Ahem.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I should be thankful at the things I grouse about

I'm up early to catch an 8:45 train out of North Station to get to my folks. As someone once put it, I may love my mother, but I don't like her very much.

Must remember to pack Tylenol, and think about how to raise the issue of whether or not she need hearing aids. When they visited last Saturday I was amazed at how loud her normal speaking voice is getting.

I can be thankful I'm not scrounging in the bottom of my purse to have the fare to get there.

I can be especially thankful my insurer let me know they will cover the cost of the Continuous Glucose Monitor, and they rushed the decision before the deadline for healthcare reimbursement open enrollment. I can be thankful I now have to come up with a realistic budget to set aside in that account, opposed to my prior plan of dump in the max and know I was just going to exhaust it.

I can be thankful that the manufacturer of said CGMS agrees that a low (non-user-replaceable) battery signal at just under 3 months of age is a warranty replacement of the expensive unit, even if they don't know when they'll be coming off backorder.

I can be thankful for the bit of ache that comes from knitting so much. I can be thankful I have a place to sleep, even if I'm still looking for a way to actually get to sleep. And I am not cold.

Not sure what Himself is thankful for at the moment. Yesterday he was cancelling plans to go out and around and instead was holing up in the hotel with a digestive rebellion and Chilean cable broadcasting American movies of 3 - 10 year vintage with subtitles. Maybe he's thankful the folks at Lahey gave him prophylactic antibiotics and instructions for use. I hoping he's not thankful he has the evacuation to the US in case of medical emergency coverage in his insurance. We don't want to have to be thankful for that.

Time to get ready to catch a train and figure out if it's a sign of something or other with the family dynamics I want to bring how many different projects with me. There's brother's socks due later this weekend, Himself's sweater, and several competing mitten tree projects. Must edit that list.

Monday, November 20, 2006

How much acreage of an evening?

Last night I (very suddenly) decided I needed to start a scarf for the mitten tree. On the right is how much I got done starting while waiting for my food at Christophers. Well, they were having a busy evening. It's a 32 stitch, k2, p2, not-moping-at-all, scarf. I started with one 100 gram skein of Cascade 220 with another in reserve. See, the thing is, I can never remember how much it is that Lucy suggests for an average scarf, so I figure I ought to make one.

On the left is how much I got done in the rest of the evening -- last half of Men in Black combined with the finale of Prime Suspect. I'm impressed with myself, even if the twenties don't want to lie flat. It still has a ways to go, but I should have lots of time on Thursday to work on it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Getting back on track

Some one of these days I'll get the hang of teaching - especially the bit of keeping your samples and not just frogging them. I wound up having to recreate a couple of swatches for the class on Reading your Knitting. Combined with that thing called job running longer than usual, I didn't have time to work on anything else.

However, in the last day I've picked up the front of Himself's Wonderous Woven Cables sweater and made progress from row 15 up to row 70. At some point I'll have to start paying attention for the neck, but that's probably another repeat of the vertical multiple away.

Mumsy and Dadsy made a surprise (well, arranged the night before) visit to Cambridge on Saturday, since the bureaucracy has her in danger of running out of supplies for her insulin pump some time this week if the shipment doesn't get approved. I don't use the same infusion sets, but I could at least give her some spare reservoirs to keep her going. Then what do you do once you've handed them over and it's somewhat close to lunchtime. I took them to Mind's Eye so they could see the place (they've met Lucy off and on over the years) and showed them the hand-dyed sock yarn. I'd already been thinking about making her a shawlette and asked Lucy next time round to dye a skein with the greens I think she likes. I had made a shop sample, we put it on her and she liked the fit, though on her it fit like a regular size shawl.

As a bit of background my mother is just under 5 foot tall, probably under 110 pounds and losing bone mass by the minute. She wears size 14 girls bathrobes, because anything in juniors or misses is too big in the shoulders. When we find anything she seems to like and it fits her, you have to get it. My father was palming his credit card trying to buy the shop sample as I'm trying to whisper to him (without Mumsy seeing) that I'm already making her one for Christmas, get her to really show what she wants for color! It was one of those moments.

Now I need to figure out what everyone else is getting. I know I need to work on hats in the next week for the Mind's Eye Mitten Tree, because it really helps to have things to put on the tree from day one. That, and it makes it easier for December shoppers who 'think they want to make a hat' if they can see one already made up in the yarn they're looking at.

And, as a public service note to all the novice knitters out there, I don't care if it's soft, you don't make hats, mittens or scarves for New England wet winters out of cotton. Wool warms, cotton kills is a true saying. Cotton gets cold when it gets wet, and stays cold and wet, sucking body heat out of whatever it's covering. Wool will retain warmth, even when wet. Your hat, mittens/gloves and scarf will get wet in the winter (freezing rain is worse than snow for walking in), do yourself a favor and wear wool.

Now to figure out why Bloglines has just about every other feed show items as new posts even when I've already read them, but yet not tell me all weekend that Himself posted on Thursday and Friday. Sheesh.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

These things take longer than I think they will

It's one of those things. Sometime between 7:30 - 8:30 at night I say that tonight I should make an effort to go to bed early because, after all, I keep staying up late without meaning to. Then I get to doing things and well, there it is going on midnight and I'm making myself stop what I'm doing just to get some sleep. Repeat the following evening, except maybe falling asleep around 10 and then waking up close to midnight realizing I'm not in bed yet, am I?

So, Sunday night I was talking about working the Dairy Queen hat in worsted weight and what I was going to change with this third iteration, thinking in the back of my mind I'd get it done that night, because, after all, it can't take that long. Tonight the DQ hat got finished at knitting group.

Now I'm ready to assess. The finished measurements came out to 9 inches width at the base (so about 18 inches around) and 7 inches high. When tried on my head it mostly fit around, but it didn't come down to the ears. So, if I keep the same cast on and increase at the end of the garter stitch portion, I should revise the straight stitch count bit (having reduced the number of rows by 10 from the original) to something longer before starting those decreases. This one is even more likely to fit someone than the prior two, but, it could use some betterment.

Yes, I saw Danielle's comment about doubling the worsted weight to get gauge, but where's the fun in that? I bet she buys flour ready-ground at the grocery store rather than erecting her own mill in the backyard.

And then I started thinking about Christmas presents for the family. As of this morning, I was thinking of making my mother (who is impossible to fit and doesn't care to wear anything I've made for her) a felted bag. By this evening I was thinking Lucy's sock yarn and a small shawl. Lucy will be dying again in a couple Mondays and I've put in a request for shades of apple-y medium green, which my mother says is her favorite color, because she thinks she's a red head.

And then I started wondering if it was worth trying the felted clog slippers for my 10-year old nephew, who has not inherited his father's appreciation of having things made for him. And am I descending into what the Yarn Harlot calls "It" in one of her books -- that special knitting season that coincides with winter holiday gifting where time contorts for and against you and you believe twice as much can get done during an all-nighter than can during the day, with no sleep necessary at any point in the period?

And I was going to get how many charity hats done for how many mitten trees scattered from here to the NH border in the same season?

No progress on Himself's sweater tonight, though. Packed the project, with both (straight) needles, had the toolkit with the cable needle that will be needed in the next ten rows, had the notebook with the rows to be crossed off as completed, forgot the copy of the pattern with the chart to follow. Brother's sock moved towards the toe decreases instead.

Now I need to think about what I'm using as examples in the Reading Your Knitting class I'm teaching at Mind's Eye on Saturday. Or do I need to make some.......

Monday, November 13, 2006

Modifying the pattern for a DQ hat in smaller gauge

So, having made a first attempt last week at making the Elizabeth Zimmermann Dairy Queen Hat, using worsted weight vs. the bulky/superbulky yarn the pattern was written for, the first instance came out just a little small. This was the red one posted yesterday morning. When measured, its bottom width is 6.5 inches, so that makes a rough circumference of 13", which, according to the Craft Yarn Council of America Sizing page, is between a preemie and a baby size head. The hat is rather tall for such a small head.

Late yesterday morning I decided to fiddle with the number cast on at the bottom, starting with 45 stitches, but keeping the same total number of stitches in the hat (hot pink instance). Still tall proportionately for its base, this one is 7 inches wide, roughly 14 inches circumference. If the base were a ribbing, it might be counted on to stretch more, but the garter stitch really has only so far it can go.

As the saying goes, yes, they will fit someone, but....

On the subway home this evening I started thinking seriously about what I would need to do to modify this basic shape to work in a worsted weight yarn, because it's a cute hat and works up quickly. As you can see in the photo on the left, the stray skeins (worsted weight) shelves, while emptier than last year at this time, still have a ways to go in the reduction effort (like me). The top shelf is mostly Lamb's Pride Worsted, and its twin cousin, Wonderful Wool from Steadfast Fibers (which doesn't seem to have a website, but, I have it on good authority, they take the LPW and color it up). The ulterior goal is hats for the Mind's Eye Mitten Tree, which get donated to the Somerville Family Network, but no, I am not going out and buying superbulky when the intermediary goal is to stashbust and make room (for fresh?).

Clearly, I need to make the bottom opening larger. Casting on more stitches, though, will change the proportions of the top of the hat. The hat works by doing a static stitch count up so far while shaping the swirl, and then continuing the swirl while decreasing the number of stitches in each third. Having larger thirds will make the decreases take longer to get to the end number. The hat is already probably as tall as it needs to be to span almost any head, it's just the circumference of the base that needs changing. Therefore, I should probably start the decreases earlier.

I'm also going to use 3 double points and knit with a fourth, soon as I can lay hands on the size 8's or 9's. Using two circs., particularly on the pink one, really distorted the end of needle stitches when it got toward the end and things got small. Since the hat is a swirl done in 3 sections, it makes sense now, (having tried the other ways) to just put each 3rd on a needle and go.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

No real title post

I've been working on a bunch of different things since I last posted. I've been following the Zimmermania blog and decided to try a Dairy Queen Hat, since I've never done one before. It turned out a little small, not really surprising given I had Lamb's Pride Worsted rather than a bulky to work with. It's posed on a 100-CD spindle pack, which I'm hoping is about the diameter of a small baby head. It's cute, but relatively tall for such a small circumference. I'm thinking of trying it again, this time with more stitches at the bottom to make it wider. We'll see.

Friday's commute had me finishing my brother's socks, and immediately starting another pair. (Hey, when I get an idea, I stick with it.) I'm through the ribbing of the first sock of the second pair, ready to go to the movies (The Queen is at the Somerville Theatre) this rainy afternoon. The first pair's colorway is a non-brainer appropriate for shy, conservative-dressing brother. The second pair is coming out much more stripey, so we'll have to see if he likes them. I can say one thing about my brother, he is appreciative of anything someone does for him.

Last night I got going on the front of Himself's impossible to photograph Wonderous Woven Cables sweater, getting up to row 12. If I'm going to have it close to ready when he gets back, I'd best get the knitting done and get it over to Lucy for the putting together. I think the front will go fairly quickly given 1. the patterning is already familiar and 2. I know how long the back is, so I've got a long ways to go before my brain starts dithering about whether or not I need to stop for the neck.

I've also been thinking about small gauge sweaters for me this fall, so I've been swatching this Sockotta. I can either do the numbers and come up with an EPS for myself, probably a Hybrid cardigan with a steeked front, or go to Christina Probert's Knitting in Vogue and More Knitting in Vogue to see what might be already written. They weren't afraid to publish 7 and 8 stitch to the inch patterns back in the 30s and 40's. Problem is, even with these patterns brought up to the standards of the 1980s, I find 1. The sizing is difficult to judge and 2. There are no diagrams.

Sizing tends to be small, and you can't really tell if the "large 40", means sized for a 40 inch chest and therefore has more ease, or if the large has a finished measurement of 40 inches. This is where having the diagrams would help. Yes, I can do math based on gauge and stitch counts, but I notice the lack of information that started to become standard about 5 - 10 years after these were published.

Course, if I'm doing that, I could also take the time to clear away that stack of filing on my desk-- the HCRA filings and putting the new acquisitions into Needletrax, couldn't I?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For it tis, it tis, a glorious thing, to be a

Pi-eye-rit King. Or queen, for that matter. The Knit Like A Pirate Hat is done, for now. The part that fits on the head is a tad small in circumference, but I'm counting that wear will stretch that out. What's slightly more problematic is how high the brim is -- roughly 4 inches or so. But to back up a bit.

I used Cascade 220 Tweed in black (3 skeins, with a softball size left over of the third), with the trim in either Funny or Happy. If I were doing this again (probably not, but I've had the fun and excitement of trying it once) I wouldn't use the tweed for felting. The little color bits disappear, except for the white ones that now look like you've got dirty bits clinging to your hat. Eh.

Left is the hat when it was finished Saturday afternoon, with the 8 1/2 x 11 instructions for scale. Felting this took longer than I would have thought - about 2 1/2 hours in the dryer with several resoakings of both towels and hats.

Right is the blocking rig I came up with. The hat's crown is on a Corningware small casserole, held up over a 100 pack of CDs for circulation. The laundry supply containers are an attempt at shaping the sides into a triangle.

Left again is the hat midway through this evening. I knew I would have to do some fabric shaping with sewing to bring this large, relatively heavy and very floppity thing into a wearable shape. I started with taking little tucks in the first two corners to form the base of the triangle. I wasn't necessarily going for an equilateral triangle, but needed at least a balanced isosceles. What I also needed was a third hand to help get that last angle set right at the back. After that, I sewed the brim to the crown at three points - each midway along a side, to help form the triangle.

The crown felted small and tight for my head, but I'm thinking that wear will stretch that out. What I may do is resew the mid-side tacks to be closer to the trim on the vertical and therefore encourage the brim to not stand so high (currently about 4 inches). Currently the brim looks something like this, but standing out from the head, more.

Another hedgehog got finished the other night, and will await more fellows before it is felted. For scale, it is posed propped with a standard one-liter Nalgene bottle inside it. The blonde-ness is a cute effect. There will be more in the future.

The next experiment is an Elizabeth Zimmermann Dairy Queen Hat, but done in LPW on size 9s since I don't have any bulky weight handy. Worst case it may be small, but the mitten tree at Mind's Eye is coming up soon and it will fit a little 'un.

What I can't figure out is where my copy of Knitter's Almanac has gotten to..... Did I loan it to someone, or is it really, really buried?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No Moping. Nope.

I've set myself a firm rule of No Moping while Himself is away. So. I'm not moping.

Course, I'm going to have to think twice tomorrow morning and not call him on my way to the subway for our usual not-together morning chats.

Had an interesting time voting this evening. In line ahead of me was a women trying to explain to the election officials that her daughter hadn't had time to vote earlier in the day, they lived at the same address, therefore, couldn't the woman in line sign in as her daughter and vote for her? Ah, what part of one person, one vote wasn't she getting? They said no, quietly and firmly and got her out of line fast.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all this single-person time, but there are several ideas percolating. One thing I need to do is get out the teaching materials and run through Reading Your Knitting that I'm doing Saturday, November 18th at Mind's Eye Yarns. (Okay, I seem to be missing my link button on the Blogger tool bar.)

Update, it's 8:45 and they've (NECN) already declared that Deval Patrick has won MA Governor. Wow.

Time to get a project and knit and not mope.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Post with pictures sometime soon.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for Himself to go away to Peru and Chile for 5 weeks. And working on not thinking about how much I'll miss him.

The first sock for brother got finished and it fits Himself's tester foot, so that's good. In the meantime, the second sock is about to have its heel turned.

The pirate hat was finished and felted. The camera's batteries are dying, so I need to figure out where fresh are and get them installed before I can do too much more with pictures. Felting took 2 1/2 hours in the dryer with sopping wet towels. The black yarn is Cascade 220 tweed, and I wouldn't use it again for felting. The little colored bits have disappeared into the either, so save the couple extra bucks a skein and just use their normal solids and quattros.

The next hedgehog was coming along until my size 11 16" had the bamboo needle separate from the ferrule. Just needs gluing, so I'm trying to figure out how long I should give that to dry before working with it again.

On to the next....

Friday, November 03, 2006

In which I rip a foot at lunchtime

Maybe the commuting fairies did me a subtle favor this morning by having no seats available on the Red Line. I got to change at DTC, sat on a bench, pulled out the sock and got on with decreasing away on the toe. Just for kicks I decided to count the stitches on each needle as I went. I counted 19 on the first needle, which had me a little worried, because it's a 64 stitch sock, right, and therefore the decreases should always be an even number. But I figured I was just sock-headed due to a lack of coffee yet. Then I counted the other side and it was high-20 something. And the train came, and had no seats.

So at lunchtime I assessed the situation and ripped back to the start of the toe. The numbers were still uneven, so I then ripped each needle (in succession) the length of the foot back to the end of the instep decreases.

That took care of lunchtime. Fortunately, at the end of the instep there were 64 stitches, just unevenly divided on two needles. I knew I had 32 stitches on the instep one at the end of the decreases, because I had been counting compulsively. So, while waiting in the Copley station in the afternoon rush hour, with a bit of reassignment the difference was fixed and I was faced with a pile of yarn vomit from all the rows ripped out. Fortunately, it wound up into a ball without getting into a real tangle, and from Park to Alewife I was able to reknit 17 of the foot rows. The bus ride out to Arlington Heights took me up to 34 rows, so now I'm only slightly behind where I started this morning. So much for having a finished sock for Himself to try on this evening.....

Just shy of 2,700 stitches in his foot, eh?

Even though I tend to make sock legs long, it's the foot that seems to take the most time for me. I was doing some back-of-the-head math at lunch yesterday and realized that 32 sts on each needle, times 2 needles per round, times 42 rounds between instep decreases and toe decreases equals 2,688.

This is a number I want to forget as soon as possible. It's like counting the individual calories to avoid or use up in excess of normal to lose each pound on the way to 15 pounds. Demoralizing.

The pirate hat still isn't finished, though I did make progress Wednesday night. There was just more progress needed towards the finish than I had counted on. Hopefully there will be time to work on it tonight.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

From somewhere early in the 42 round foot

(Yes, as I was arranging the sock, I noticed one of the circs had stayed behind in my briefcase.) My brother's sock is coming along, thanks again to commuting fairies opening up a seat at Harvard. As of last night the instep was picked up, decreased and the length of the foot started. I'm liking this yarn's colorway and think my brother will, too. It's dark navy with just the occasional lighter blue highlight. He's rather conservative, doesn't want fuss. In Garrison Keiller's world, he'd be a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer. Not sure if he'd be named Senator because his mother thought it sounded distinguished, but you never know.

The pirate hat made progress while watching TV last night (Stephen Colbert's The Word on Shameless was priceless) and should make more progress (be done?) tonight at the Mind's Eye Wednesday knitting group. I'm just decreased down to 70 stitches and am starting the row 3-15 knit straight. There may be felting this weekend, if this gets finished, there's a done hedgehog and I could make progress on the one started last weekend......

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