Thursday, August 31, 2006

Late Night Socks



Embossed Leaves Socks are finished! This lovely photo courtesy of my bookcase and my self timer.



Here's a slightly better shot of the texture of these things.

After some minor modifications, they look and fit great.

The Stats
Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks, Winter 2005 Interweave Knits
Yarn: KnitPicks Essential
Needles: #1 bamboo dpns
Modifications: First of all, no twisted ribbing because I'm lazy. The pattern also asks you to cut the yarn and rejoin at the heel, which I didn't bother with. I also changed the toe because my feet are too long for the pattern, and so knit the foot longer and just did a plain old stubby wedge toe. The gauge is a little looser than I normally like my socks to be knit at, and we'll have to see how the Essential wears with use.

Other than that, these were a fun pair of socks to knit and they just seemed to fly off the needles (that is, when I was actually working on them).

The next pair of socks? I've certainly got choices. Pomatomus, some toe-up knee highs, a pair of plain socks in a bright colorway of Sockotta, or something lacy and delicious made from Claudia's Handpaint or KPPPM? Who knows.

Maybe I should finish something else first. This weekend I've got to finish crocheting a bunch of snowflakes, because I owe my sister for her Christmas projects. And I received the fun fur (yeah... ew) that I needed for my little hedgehog, so maybe I can finish knitting him this weekend. Maybe if I were really ambitious I'd get that second charity sock done, or maybe even my sweater back. Decisions, decisions... but it is a long weekend. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sweater Progress



Here is the back of my cabled sweater. It's coming out to be the right width, thankfully -- that tiny bit of ribbing you saw really did turn into this. It's about 8 inches long and I'm supposed to start the armholes at 10 1/2 inches. I'm thinking I may make it a little bit longer. I'm not in danger of running out of yarn, as far as I can tell.

It's uncommon for me to knit anything on as big of a needle as a #8, so I feel like I'm just flying along, and it's so gratifying to see the sweater grow.

I keep contemplating learning to knit combined, because it really does make the transition between knit and purl stitches cleaner. I have some loose stitches that are simply the product of switching between knit and purl and the way I knit, but I don't know if I can handle the transition to combined knitting, re-learning my purl, and learning to deal with all the twisted stitches without worry.

Maybe on another project! At least this one will be consistent, and some blocking can even out some of the stitches a little bit.

Charity Knitting Update
I still only have one sock.

However, I'm really happy with the response that I've heard from some other local knitters!! I'd like to reiterate the need for woolen things, and that the greatest need is for teenagers and socks, but of course any sizes will be welcome.

Grad School Update
I attended the introductory class lecture today; tomorrow and Friday I will lead discussion sections. I guess reality has to set in sometime!

One girl asked me who I was today, and I said, "the TA" and she replied, "what's a TA?" which kind of threw me, but no big. She'll find out soon enough!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Other Knitting

A little while ago, I heard at my LYS that they were going to contribute to a project to help needy children in an orphanage in Kazakhstan. The coordinator is the owner of a LYS in Kentucky, who adopted children from the orphanage. In that part of Kazakhstan it gets very, very cold; the orphanage is run on a very limited budget and the children need warm things made of wool, as the synthetics won't keep them warm.



So I made a sock. Of course, I'll make the other one. Maybe I'll make more than this pair. It's not much, but I don't think I do enough to help other people. There are so many projects that knitters can contribute to... and it's wonderful to see that knitters can make an impact.

As far as I know, my LYS is going to donate as many items as they can collect, but I don't think they've publicized it yet. For more information about the primary project, see Knit-On's website.

Haven't done much other knitting lately. I keep thinking about finishing that leafy sock, but the marathon in the car was almost too much for me. I've gotten past the ribbing and into the body of the back of the sweater, but not very far.

School starts for me on Wednesday; Thursday and Friday I'm going to have my first experience teaching discussion sections. Quite frankly, I'm terrified. Oh well -- have to jump in with both feet, I guess! Wish me luck!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Air and Space

Yesterday I visited the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center outside of Washington, DC.

We got to see the Concorde:


And the Joint Strike Fighter (that my brother-in law has been working on):


And the Enola Gay:


And probably less important to everybody else, but cool to me, a WWII Corsair:

The Corsair is a Navy plane; the wings fold up so that it can be easily stored on an aircraft carrier. My grandfather was on the USS Shangri-la in the Pacific, and tells stories about these planes and the men who flew them, learning to land on the aircraft carrier deck. See the hook at the back? When the planes landed they had to catch one of 4 tripwires at the end of the deck to stay on the ship; the runway wasn't long enough for a normal landing. As you can probably guess, if they missed the wires it wasn't pretty -- if they could pull up and circle around, they could try for another landing, but if not, they would just smack into the ocean and that would be the end of it.

The center itself is very interesting. It was intended to be a storage facility for planes and spacecraft, but it's been opened up into a quasi-museum. I say quasi because they aren't allowed to put up much in the way of interpretation. It's a cross between an ordinary hangar and somebody's model collection, with all kinds of stuff hanging from the ceiling. We were lucky to get a tour with one of the curators, who told us all about the challenges of balancing being a storage facility with being a museum, and changes previous curators had made to the planes, such as repainting them to represent an era they may never have flew in.

What was disappointing was how the center has to play to its constituency. There is very little mention of how planes (and there are a lot of military planes on display) have been used to bomb people. For example, the Enola Gay has only the same amount of interpretation as every other plane in the exhibit, with no special mention of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is a display of onboard cameras, some of which were specifically manufactured to fit into spots made for machine guns, but the display only listed uses such as geological surveying and agriculture, not finding strategic bomb targets. Kind of strange.

By the way, this is how long it takes to drive to Washington, DC, and get stuck in traffic on the way home:

Yes, that's the second sock of the pair, and I cast on in the car in the morning. I'm so glad I had this, or I probably would have gone crazy when we sat in a standstill on the beltway for almost three hours.

Bloglines notes
1. The only way I know to figure out how many subscribers I have is to subscribe to my own blog and then click on its name. There is probably an easier or smarter way, but I'm lazy and haven't figured it out yet.
2. To get a bloglines button, you have to first open an account (free) and then on the page with "My Feeds" it's listed under the "Extras" at the bottom.
3. I can see some of who subscribes to my page, but not everybody. You can choose to be a public or private subscriber.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I don't have fine hair...

... I just have a desirable low micron count!

Har, har.



This thing, believe it or not, is the ribbing for the back of my sweater (okay, so I have some rows left to knit, but that's the entire width). It is very sproingy, but knitting worsted weight on #2 needles isn't what I'd call fun for my wrists.

If I had thought a little bit more before starting this pattern, I probably wouldn't have done the ribbing on #2s -- the original pattern called for a mohair, the core of which was probably pretty fine, and wouldn't have been so stiff on the small needles. But I'm not ripping out 2 sleeves, and since I want the body to match, #2s it is.



Here is Buck with the knitting, because he helps me show off all small things.

Bloglines
I've decided I really like bloglines. Maybe this makes me a loser for not discovering how convenient it was before, but oh well. I like using it because I no longer have to check for new content manually, which saves me time wandering around on the internets like an idiot.

And, of course, just like everybody else out there, it stokes my ego to see that I've got a whole 10 subscribers on my blog. I added a button to the sidebar. Thanks, random folks who subscribe! It makes me feel cool.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bananas look good today



Ok, so I enjoy the 'cartoon' function on my photo editor. Too bad!

Finally, I have something substantial to share!

Last night I stayed up late to finish the sleeves on my vintage cabled sweater.



I always do both sleeves at the same time; if I didn't, I'm sure they would come out wildly different in both size and gauge. I let things go too long between picking them up. The two balls in the photo are what was left of each of the single balls of Naturespun I used on the sleeves.

I also don't understand the popular complaint against knitting sleeves. One part of a sweater is just as good as another, I'd say. And by doing them first, and both at the same time, you've suddenly got a significant portion of your sweater done -- two whole pieces.

I'm going to try and do this sweater properly -- I'll block the pieces before seaming, and try to figure out a decent way to seam the sleeve caps (a task that Mom used to get). I think I'll do the back next.



I also finished one of the Embossed Leaves socks a few days ago. I made some changes; most importantly I changed the toe to something more simple. The star toe would have made the sock too short for my foot, and I need a broad, not pointy, toe.

Haven't started the second one yet, but I needed a break from knitting after powering through those sleeves.



Last but not least, today I went to a fully robotic dairy farm at Hope Acres. These are Jersey dairy cattle, and they are small and cute and smell like cows.

The robotic milking machines are freaky. They were imported from Holland, and allow the cows to be milked at will. A cow who wishes to be milked walks into the machine, where a computer reads the radio transmitter on its collar. If the cow is supposed to be milked (it won't be if it was too soon since its last milking or if there is a problem) the machine spits out a chocolate-flavored cookie (and doesn't if the cow isn't supposed to be milked, and then the cow leaves the machine). The cow gets to eat the cookie while a brush cleans its udders, and then an apparatus swings under its legs to shine a laser on its teats to line up the 4 milking suction thingys, which suck onto the teats. Then the cow is milked, and the milk is measured and sent to be processed. When the process is done the cow walks out of the machine. Freaky.

The cows seemed to be pretty relaxed and indifferent to visitors. We also got to see some baby calves and heifers, and have ice cream for free at the end of the tour. Very interesting, although I'd be worried that the machines would break down and something awful would happen.

Well, back to knitting. Have to get more project parts back on the needles!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Long Weekend

I had the wonderful opportunity to take a long weekend this weekend and have my mom come visit. I haven't really spent time with her for about a year, so it was a treat!

Friday we visited Longwood Gardens, which is wonderful because she works in nursery (and I used to) so we really love plants. Seeing as PA is easily a zone warmer than Chicago, different things thrive here. Mom was continually amazed by the plants and the sheer immensity of Longwood's property. Among other things, we got to see the famous water staircase, the lily pond, and the topiaries.




In the conservatory we looked at some crazy Old Man Cacti, who are covered in this fuzzy white fiber.




Saturday we visited the yarn store and campus. I bought a teacup while we were wandering around in the antiques mall. Now I can drink tea properly.





Sunday we both had haircuts (I've only had one professional haircut, ever, and I'm trying to keep it that way) and went to the local Farmer's Market and got heirloom tomatoes in every color they had and made a delicious salad. We knitted, and made brownies, and I changed the oil in my scooter without much trouble or even really getting dirty.

Today we went to Hagley to see all the things I do and the ordinary museum part. And then, all too soon, Mom had to leave.

Mom was designing her next sweater as she was in the process of knitting it, which was awesome. I didn't want to bug her and take random photos for the blog, so no sweater photo.

And I had to get some knitting in, too. I got my Embossed Leaves sock down to the middle of the heel flap (which I'm lengthening to make up for my wide, high-arched feet).


I've also knit my hedgehog until his back is about half done, and I've run out of the pink Fun Fur. Not that I'd normally do this... but I'm looking for more pink Fun Fur! Yikes! Otherwise my hedgehog will have an unsightly bald spot on his butt.


Hope you had a good weekend, too!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Close...



But no cigar.

These are the nifty Embossed Leaves Socks, from the Winter '05 Interweave. Or, I guess, they were. In the photo they're on #2s and they aren't coming out the way I like, and I've already made several mistakes. So I'm ripping them out and re-doing them on #1s. This is what flying by the seat of my pants gets me, gauge mistakes and rip-outs.

At least these little guys are going quickly, and they're fun to do.

Back to doing my very finest impression of a frog....

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jaywalkers



Here's a better photo of some new Jaywalkers relaxing.



And Jaywalkers standing up.

Hooray for another pair of socks! I enjoyed knitting these, although the second one languished for a while until I got my act together this weekend and stormed through to the finish.

On to the stats:
Yarn: Reynolds "Swizzle" which, in my humble opinion, is perfect for these.
Needles: #1 dpns
Pattern: Jaywalker, by Grumperina
Modifications: I made the larger version, because I have wide feet, and I'd heard that these were a little snug to get on. They fit perfect -- a little snug during the on-off process, but perfect while they're on. I also added picots to the top, which was probably a mistake, because it took really long to make them, and they roll. Maybe a wash and a block will help a little.

So what's next?

Oh yes... this guy...



He's going to become a felted Fiber Trends hedgehog, if I don't run out of fuzzy crap. Because I certainly don't want to buy more of it.

I now have even more sock yarn, courtesy of the man in my life, who, when he takes the recycling out, decides it's a good time to visit the yarn store. So I have a lovely colorway of Claudia's Handpaint that's joined the queue.

I'm still chugging along on ignoring the lace wrap; I have to finish a couch cushion (second half of a matched set) that I started over a year ago; another Baby Surprise sweater; my cabled sweater; oh yeah, and the giant red afghan that won't die. And those are just projects on the needles! Whoops!

I could probably go work on one of those, or, you know, I could start another pair of socks. Anything to keep me from having to clean the house....

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today's Accomplishments



Today I finished my pair of Jaywalkers (finally!) and made some banana bread. The color isn't right on these -- they're really turquoise, but my camera doesn't like color at night. I'll try to take some better photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hybrid

Here is an arty picture of my Gossamer Ruffle Shawl.

ruffle

Quite frankly, I think it looks like a badly planned cross between a turquoise octopus and some discarded Christmas tinsel. But that's okay. I like it. It makes me feel all silly and fun, like some medieval princess, when I wear it.

ruffle back

ruffle on

Not that I really know when I'm going to wear it.... but that's okay.

This was a project I had always wanted to do, ever since I saw the pattern come out in magazine advertisements. So I did it. I was kind of disappointed that I ran out of yarn, especially when I discovered it took me almost 150 yards of the metallic fluffy stuff -- almost as much as an additional, third, ball of the Gossamer -- to do the last 2 rows. I don't think I could have finished the shawl in the two balls the pattern called for.

And the bind off... 1,700+ stitches... honestly took me over 2 hours. Unbelievable. Today's unsolicited advice? Don't make anything with a giant ruffle. It feels like it never ends.

Anyhow, you know I can't go without being busy for more than three minutes, so here's what else I've been plugging away on.

Besides that little blue alpaca lace wrap, which I have 4 or 5 repeats done on, and my second Jaywalker sock, which is slowly growing in between other projects, I have done some other stuff.

little snowflakes

Some little bitty crocheted snowflakes, for one of my sister's quilting projects. I'm not a pro crocheter, but these new patterns are easier for me to read than the 30- or 40-year old ones my mom has. So I think I can do some more, maybe even some of the bigger, more complex ones, if I can concentrate.

new coaster

Some more coasters, now with a brownish background to help disguise the inevitable tea stains.

tote unfelted

And last but not least, a bag from Fiber Trends, knit but yet to be felted. I don't know of any top-loading washers nearby that don't lock -- don't have my own laundry machines. So I'll have to wait until I can find one, and then I can shrink this one down! And then I will have a new purse. This was knit in Wool Pak 14 ply and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, with Trendsetter Flora for the trim. I'm excited about how the trim is going to look when it gets felted in. I'm not sure how I'm going to decorate it, or not.

What's next? Maybe another Baby Surprise sweater, or I should probably finish some of the other things I've started!