willowoak: (Default)
( Sep. 18th, 2009 11:23 pm)
Earlier this week, I cast on a shawl. It was going pretty quickly, but then weird errors started cropping up. Mistakes that I'm not even sure how I managed them, particularly since I was counting as I was knitting each section. But I forged ahead, because each of the errors was relatively minor and salvageable.

But then, today, I hit the last error. Critical mass was achieved in my brain. Probably no one would have noticed it, but it was an error that I just couldn't live with, particularly since this was intended as a gift. And so, I frogged the whole thing.

My theory of frogging is that IF I've achieved that critical mass and it's time to frog a project, it's far less stressful FOR ME to just rip out the whole thing and start fresh than try to rip back to a specific spot and pick everything up. Other people will have a different experience, but this is mine.

And so, the yarn is hibernating and I've started on a different project to give myself a break. I do intend to make that particular shawl again after I've had a little break.
Usna has lived with me for three years. He's been in the bedroom countless times and slept on the bed since after the first week.

Suddenly, within the last week, he's decided the stalk and kill the lamp pull and will leap straight up off the bed to grab at it. This is pretty impressive, because it's a matter of some four feet and Usna, to put it delicately, is NOT aerodynamically designed. He's mostly Maine Coon and is some 17 pounds. Not fat, but definitely LARGE. However, the last two mornings, he's tried to kill the lamp pull in the wee hours of the morning and landed squarely on my feet. Ummmm, ouch?!

I blame the flies. I appear to have the REALLY stupid, inbred flies in my house. Really. The Earl Bobs of the fly world. They will land on me and stay there, not moving. Usna and Odhinn have been hunting them down and catching them fairly easily. Of course, there are always more flies. But I think in Usna's little catty brain the lamp pull is hanging there, like a fly, and therefore is fair game. Of course he can't actually catch the sucker, so he's doomed to disappointment...and I am apparently doomed to being startled awake by a cannonball on my feet.
willowoak: (Default)
( Sep. 12th, 2009 08:12 pm)
Well, that was awkward. Trying to manage two yarns, one Continental style and one English style, when I've not knit English in about 40 years. But I was starting to "get" it a little bit when it turned out that the difference in size/weight between the two yarns involved was just too much.


But since it appears that I CAN do it, I'm off to search for the colors of contrasting yarn I want in the same weight as my background yarn. Then I get to practice and practice and practice some more.
I just cast on for my first stranded colorwork project. I'm both kinda excited and very nervous. This is pretty much straight stockinette with the only patterning being provided by the yarns. Keeping even tension with two yarns will be a challenge.


On the other hand, if it works out, this will definitely be one of my extremely cool projects. :)

We shall see.
willowoak: (Default)
( Sep. 11th, 2009 09:19 am)

My pirate name is:

Red Ethel Bonney

Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network
Two at a time, toe up socks. Woo Hoo! They seemed to take forever but when I bound off, I actually had TWO completed socks. :) The pattern is called Biological Clock Socks, and it's an obscure visual pun for costuming and biology geeks. Clocking on stockings/socks is a way to introduce shaping on the calf, and the pattern stitch is a DNA spiral -- hence biological clock. Yup, HAD to make 'em, because I'm such a geek. ;-)

I can't get a good close up of the DNA spiral, and it doesn't show up so well in the variegated yarn. *Sigh*

I also added a new stretchy bind off to my bag o' tricks, the yarn over bind off. I picked it up from Chrissy Gardiner's new book and she learned it from Eunny Jang. When you're ready to bind off: knit 1, yarn over, knit one, insert the tip of the LH needle under the yo and the farthest right knit stitch on the RH needle and pass them over the nearest knit stitch. You're left with one knit stitch, yo, knit 1. Lather, rinse, repeat. I actually found it easiest to use a really small gauge crochet hook as my right hand needle and just pulled the second knit stitch through the yo and first knit stitch. The end result looks a bit like crochet edging and is slightly decorative, but not frilly -- and it's nicely stretchy. I like having options. :)
My brother, Bill, would be 46 today. He died almost 14 years ago. A suicide. The hole in my family has never healed and the wounds around it are still raw and painful after all these years.

At least a part of my sadness is based on the fact that we weren't close as children -- we were set up in competition with each other...I was the elder, he was the boy. We were both smart, but he was seen as the golden child and I was the "difficult" one. When we were older, I was in Europe and then NYC and he was in the Navy (overseas or in CA), and we didn't see each other often. About six months before his death, he left the Navy and came to NYC to go to school. We had a chance to spend time together and to start getting to know each other as adults, developing a friendship and relationship, losing the old baggage. And then, suddenly, it was gone.

He was a good man who cared about others. He wanted to get an MBA and work with people in developing countries, very much like Kiva.org does...lending small sums to entrepreneurs to help them build their businesses.

Happy Birthday, Bill. I miss you.
Considering that school doesn't start for our district until next Tuesday, it's been an amazingly difficult and stressful week. This evening as I left work, I hit the wall and broke out in passive aggressiveness. I've had a crazy and frustrating day.

The last person to leave shuts the south gate, half of which slides and the other half of which swings. The first person in opens the gate. The shop guy who comes in REALLY early opens this gate, and has adopted a Very Bad Habit of weaving the cable that holds open the swinging half through the gate and securing it in such a way that makes it difficult to unhook when you're shutting the gate. This is HIS passive aggressive action. I know that all the other shop guys have spoken with him and told him not to do it. I've spoken with him and asked him not to do it -- when I spoke with him, he ranted about how the people who close the gate toss the cable on the ground. Duh! It's a CABLE. It's only needed to keep the gate from swinging shut, it's not a crucial piece of equipment. However, I said that when I close the gate, I'll try not to just toss the cable. Fine. And I've done that.

This afternoon, I discovered that this guy had once again woven the cable so tightly I had difficulty getting it unhooked. And I was just fuckin' done. After I managed to get the cable untangled and close the gate, I went back and WOVE that cable through three separate sections of the fence. I made it fiendishly difficult to figure out where the cable is lying and then I hooked it. Do not play passive aggressive games with me, I can up the ante and I'm way more creative than you are. Trust me on that.

Yeah, it wasn't nice. But I'm having a hard time caring at this point.
I was at a yarn shop yesterday. I know, shocking, right?

I asked one of the women who work there about a needle. She told me they're no longer carrying them. Fair enough. The owner came over and started haranguing me about the needles being from China, etc. I then mentioned another brand of needle that I use frequently, and she said "They're so cheap because they're sourced in China." Now mind you, I understand having convictions and such, and I respect her choice to support her convictions by not carrying the needles that she finds troublesome. However, I've tried to search for supporting information concerning some of her allegations, and I can't find any. That doesn't automatically mean it doesn't exist, just that it's not readily accessible.

However, after all that, she stated that she only uses bamboo needles. Ummmmm, hello? Unless you sourced the bamboo locally and made the needles yourself, I suspect that they were probably made in China. Pot. Kettle. Black, anyone?

Anyway, I probably won't go back, because in addition to being harangued, they were following me around the place like they thought I was going to steal something. WTF?
willowoak: (Default)
( Aug. 30th, 2009 09:25 am)
A few years ago, I wanted to digitize some cassette tapes because they were OP and pretty much one of a kind in my neck of the woods. I figured out how to do it, and as with most things nerdy...the process is pretty simple and the most important tool is the software...unless of course, you're a code monkey who lives to tinker with the software itself.

Because the right software will pretty much do it for you, and you just LOOK really cool to all your friends. :) At the time, I found a program called Media Digitalizer. I bought it, and it worked well for what I wanted. In the fullness of time (i.e., last winter), I upgraded to a new PC, but when I tried to migrate the program, I found that they apparently no longer had my license key on record (even though I still had it) and that they've switched to an annual license (BASTARDS!). I said not just no, but HELL NO!

Of course, now there are some other cassettes that I want to migrate to digital format as well...some for me, and some for friends. So off I went in search of another bit of software. And since Google is my friend, I found an open source program which does the same thing. :) Audacity. Good stuff and I'll mention again, it's Open Source. If you have the time, you can easily pick up the skillz.

The process truly is simple. You need a tape deck (a boombox is OK), you need a male to male audio jack (standard issue...I got mine at Radio Shack), you need a software program (Audacity for preference...have I mentioned Open Source?), and you need an audio cassette tape. You plug one end of the jack into the line out/headphones port on the tape deck, you plug the other into the line in/microphone port of your computer (try to use line in if you can). You pop a cassette into the player. You open Audacity. You push play on the tape deck, you push record on Audacity. Play the tape until the side is complete. You can then edit the tracks by splitting them into separate files for each song and export them as WAV, MP3, or OGG files. You can edit them to add or remove white noise. There's a whole laundry list of stuff you can do once you've digitized the audio files. :)

I had a few technical glitches...like the power cord for my tape deck has been eaten by the house. At this point, who the HELL knows where it is. I found a replacement, but then managed to plug the jack into the wrong port -- despite knowing better. :) But the project is underway now.
I've finished turning the heel and the heel flap for both of them and am about to join them again working in the round. I finally fell like I'm making some progress. And now I get to do the cable up the sides.

I need to figure a better way to work the heel flaps...for the second sock, I had to move the sole stitches for sock #1 onto another cable because the working yarn was at the "wrong" end when I was ready to start. *shrug* But it was no big thing.

As you can see, the colors are quite different, so these will be fraternal twin socks. :)

They seem to be taking FOREVER. Part of it is that each one is growing slowly (I know, I'm doing two of them, so the project IS moving, it just doesn't always seem like it). But I think it's also because this pattern is pretty much stockinette stitch until you get to the leg. The only exciting features are the increases. So it's been round after endless round of just plain knitting.

But I'm at the heel turn now. I just finished the first part of the heel turn on sock #1, and am about to work on sock #2.

I'm working with Ella Rae lace merino. The label didn't say handpaint, but apparently it is. I bought two skeins -- same colorway and same dyelot -- and on the skein, they looked alike...same color values. However when wound into a ball and more importantly, when knitted up, they look VERY different. I'll get a picture to post a bit later.

Luckily, I'm not so into matchy-matchy. The normal way to deal with this type of thing is to do a couple of rows off one skein and then a couple of rows off another. Yeah. That won't work quite so easily when doing two socks with two skeins. :)
willowoak: (Default)
( Aug. 23rd, 2009 10:56 am)
The best tip I've found so far for doing two socks on two circular needles is to put both skeins in a 1 gallon freezer bag, feed one skein out of each side and close up the middle. Totally helps in controlling the yarn and keeping tangle-age down.

I had some technical difficulties yesterday and spent a lot of time knitting toes and then frogging. Oh well, I got a lot of practice. :)

I also read Hunting Ground. Finished it too. I like the developing relationship between the main characters. There was much to satisfy. Love "Running Eagle." Some of the minor characters seemed somehow interchangeable, which is unusual in a Patricia Briggs story -- on the other hand, she's writing two series now. But it was a bit frustrating. Overall, a good book, though.

How's that for no spoilers?
And like me have been waiting for her new book, Hunting Ground, which is due for publication on Tuesday...

Well, I found a copy at one of the local Walmarts this morning. I'd heard on her forum that some people had been seeing it in Walmart the last week or so, so I checked. I bought the last copy on the shelf in that particular store. However, there are others. :)

Go on out and READ.

Now my dilemma today is do I knit or do I read? Granted, I'll probably do both. But what I really need to do is vacuum and do laundry.
willowoak: (Default)
( Aug. 21st, 2009 09:53 pm)
I finished the first sock, and it turns out I made a couple of poor choices in decreases when I was working on the leg part. Now I have some trouble getting it over my high instep. Some of this may be eased in blocking, but it's made me put the notion of sock #2 in this pattern into hibernation until I work out the kinks. I was also having some issues when I tried to cast on. I don't know why, but I had to frog it, like five times.

However, I'm now working on a new project, which is knitting TWO socks at a time on two circular needles. :) I cast on last night, and am a little more than half way through the toe caps on the socks. I had no real trouble with the cast on for these, so I don't know what was up before. I'm occasionally finding it a bit interesting trying to manage two skeins of yarn, although I haven't had any major tangle-age so far...I discovered that if I turn the needles bottom to top instead of right to left, I don't tangle the yarn as much, so I'm trying to remember to do that now.
I've finished the lace pattern and am now working on the ribbing. Naturally, since it appears there's never enough lace for me (weird, huh?), I'm working the ribbing in a lace pattern. :)

So another half inch or so of the ribbing, then it will be time to bind off, admire my new sock for about 5 minutes and then cast on the OTHER sock.

What if I do a different pattern sock in the same yarn? Have them be real fraternal socks?

BTW, I'm really lovin' the yarn. Not only is it a soft merino and not only are the colors gorgeous, but there's also not a lot of pooling going on.
I just discovered that I somehow managed to drop one of the stitches in one of the k3tog (knit three stitches together, it's a decrease) a couple of rows back, one stitch in from the end of one of the needles. Luckily it had only unraveled about four rows...

With a crochet hook, the left needle and some locking stitch markers and a little ingenuity, I was able to fix the whole thing. Which is a Good Thing, because I'd be really pissed if I had to frog the sock at this point.
I've now finished the heel and am working on the leg...

Here's a photo of the sole of the foot when the gusset increases were finished...

And here's the sock after the heel is finished. I notice there's a small hole right where the front and back are rejoined. I picked up a stitch or two. I probably should have picked up another one. But not bad for a first time. It's all a learning experience, no? :)

willowoak: (Default)
( Aug. 16th, 2009 01:58 pm)
I just finished the increases for the heel gusset and will begin turning the heel after a short break. I'm using one of the lifted increases -- from knittinghelp.com (KRL, KLL) and Cat Bordhi (La-rink & La-link). Basically, you lift one leg of the stitch below the live stitch on your needle and knit into it...if you want it to lean to the left, you knit into the right leg of the next stitch on the left needle and if you want it to lean right, you knit the stitch and then left the second stitch down on the right needle. It's pretty close to invisible and the lovely increases look professional.

Pictures will follow...
The sock is progressing. :) I've gotten to the point where I'll be increasing for the heel gusset. Three lace repeats on the top of the foot. It's looking pretty good so far. I had a couple of mysteriously disappearing stitches in there. I took a firm line with them, and managed to pick them up.

Sleep first, then knitting.

Here's a pic of the sock in progress after I finished the second lace repeat...

ETA: D'oh! I almost forgot...this is Malabrigo sock yarn, the Archangel colorway. I'm so loving the colors in this. Mostly reds and purples, but there's also, blues, greens, oranges and golds in there. Size 2 needles (two 24" circs).