Saturday, August 30, 2008

But That Was MY Idea!

Many years ago, in a previous lifetime, I came up with the idea of the wireless doorbell. I even went so far as to approach a former employer about developing and manufacturing them, but could not convince him it was a good idea. About six months later, wireless doorbells began appearing in mail order catalogs. Grrr!!!

Over the years, I have thought up several other potential products (like software for generating cross stitch patterns) only to have someone else beat me to market. Well, it is easy to beat someone to market when that someone is just thinking and not doing.

Latest example of those who do instead of think about doing can be found here and here. mk carroll is interviewing people who recycle/upcycle yarn. Seriously, this was my idea first, and I have the sweaters from Goodwill moldering in my closet to prove it. I just never got around to following through with my idea. *sigh*

I have finished the Go with the Flow socks, however.

Pattern: Go with the Flow from Interweave's Favorite Socks
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock solid in burgundy
Needles: US1

While I love the results, I did not love knitting these. The number one problem I faced was a dropped stitch was near disastrous, practically impossible to recover from. And it was rather easy to drop a stitch, especially when working the cuff.

Also, there is something funky about the way the gusset seam segues into the rest of the foot. I must have done something wrong, or the pattern was off, or the knitting goddesses were unhappy with me.

I thought I made these long enough, but once I tried them on, they felt very snug, both around the foot and at the toe.

Perhaps blocking will help them relax. Otherwise, my daughter has a new pair of socks. As you can see below, they fit her just fine.

The blogging gods must not be happy with me today, because every time I try to leave a comment on someone's blog, I get an error. I love the Internet, but some days it does not love me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Smell of Wet Wool

The Minimalist Cardigan is blocking. This was the first time I soaked my knitting in the washing machine and spun out the excess water. What a novel idea - using a labor-saving device to save labor.

The back of the MC looks fine... do the front panels...

...but these sleeves look odd.

When knitting them, I thought This can't be right, and read the directions several times. I finally decided to go with it because I can always rip out the extra length at the top of the sleeves.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to seam double moss stitch.

On an unrelated topic, I am finding the DNC to be better knitting TV than the Olympics. I've been trying to get a red Danish-themed tunic-length sweater-thing going, but I want to knit it top down with drop shoulders. My first attempt failed miserably. All the top down sweater patterns I can find have raglan sleeves. Has anyone seen one with drop shoulders?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Interview

I think Etherknitter started this interview thing. I put the questions to my SO, who responded in writing, hence the verbosity.

What is your favorite thing about my knitting?
My favorite thing about your knitting is seeing the delight that you get out of it. And, for me the sensuous nature of yarn colors, fibers, and knitting patterns is a treat to be exposed to.

What is your least favorite thing about my knitting?
Least favorite thing about your knitting? What's not to like? You haven't poked me in the eye with a needle or anything. When you refuse to remove your knitting so I can sit by you, then maybe I'll have something to resentful about...

What is something I have knitted that you recall as being good?
I love my scarves. They're among my most treasured personal possessions. Plus, I think your 'new' sweater is gonna be a beaut after you get it assembled. ( I hope you decide to re-do your 'red' one. That's another that I really liked.) Oh! Oh! and how could I forget my socks!!!! Bella, bella!

Do you think knitters have an expensive hobby?
I can see that the knitting hobby could be expensive if you wanted it to be. But, the 'returns' are always so tangible and full of beauty. Just like any 'pleasurable obsession', some folks are bound to overdo it. Compared to 'model building' or motorcycles and the like, I'd say that knitting ranks in the safe middle in terms of expense, unless you're just a crazy-ass knitter, then all bets are off.

Do you have any hobbies?

What are your hobbies?
My hobby is photography.

If we compared money spent on hobbies, who would win?
While I have to confess to only partial knowledge to the expenses of knitting, I'd have to say that in terms of return on money spent you come out ahead. (Good or even decent) Camera stuff is expensive due to it's highly technical nature, and once you've committed to printing there's no 'undoing' to use the materials for another try. So, you win that one.

Has my knitting in public ever embarrassed you?
Knitting in public? At first I was a little taken aback, but I've never been embarrassed about it. I'm proud to be with you and it's not like you're making a spectacle of yourself. Now, if you were hauling around a huge bag and shook out a big afghan sized project every time you sat down, that might be a different story.

Do you know my favorite kind of yarn?
Your favorite yarn? Probably beyond my guessing. Off the top of my head I'd say probably one of the fine wool cashmere. (Ed. note: I can't afford cashmere.)

Can you name another blog?
Could I name another knitting blog? Well, the "Yarn Harlot"... "Mason and Dixon" ??

Do you mind that I want to check out yarn stores everywhere we go?
No, I don't mind checking out knitting stores. There's always so much to look at and I like to see your enthusiasm for the stuff that's meaningful to you. Much more fun than looking at cameras.. once your eye is up to the viewfinder there ain't much difference between one and the next. Gimme yarn for the sheer joy of fun shopping and looking.

Do you understand the importance of a swatch?
Yes, over time I've come to understand the importance of a swatch. It increases useful 'technical' knowledge of a contemplated project, and can be very informative about whether or not you've made a mistake in terms of the type of yarn you're thinking of using or the appropriateness of the type of stitching called for in the 'recipe'.

Do you read bittenbyknittin?
No, I don't read your knitting blog. That's your personal forum to share your stuff with 'the community of knitters' and I don't think I need to peek. Nothing personal, just trying to give you some personal 'space' that's strictly yours.

Do you think the house would be cleaner if I didn't knit?
I don't think a 'clean house' has anything to do with knitting. Knitting is a 'soul thing' , cleaning is just something that has to be done once in a while so that we don't feel overwhelmed.

Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
I consider knitting to be a 'mother hobby' that has been a part of civilization ever since some wise soul figured out how to spin and what to do with what they'd created. The world would be bereft without knitters and the gifts that spring from their skilled hands.

Isn't he a keeper?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cabin Fever

February and August are tough months. My early resolve to get outside despite the weather starts to flag, and I find myself housebound, feeling like a prisoner in my own home. Good thing I have things to do, like vacuuming, dusting, laundry - NOT!

Of course, I am knitting and spinning, the former more expertly than the latter. I used to think YouTube was where 12-year-old boys posted videos of themselves going to the bathroom, but now I know better. There are spinning videos out there, each with their own little nugget of advice that helps me along this new path. And I am discovering there are as many ways to spin as there are spinners willing to make videos of themselves spinning. The only problem is, while I can see them, they cannot see me. When I am flailing around, trying to generate some spin with the spindle, I am glad I live alone, but it would be nice to find someone to watch my so-called technique and look at the resulting so-called yarn and tell me how to improve both.

I sent an email to a couple of LYS's, asking if they taught spinning classes. I didn't expect them to, as the whole point of LYS classes is to suck us into purchasing product and none of them sell roving. However, I now have the name of someone who may be able to help me. That is the good news. The bad news is, she sells wheels. You see where this is going, don't you?

Meanwhile, after I frogged the Sitcom Chick sweater last night, I felt the urge to start something new with the recovered yarn RIGHT NOW. I tried putting the yarn in a bag and putting the bag in another room, but it didn't work because this book was staring at me from the coffee table:

Ethnic Knitting Discovery, by Donna Druchunas. My maternal grandparents came from Denmark, so this book's subtitle, "The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and the Andes" pulled me in. Accustomed to glossy professional photographs in my knitting books, the monochrome illustrations and pictures initially put me off. But there is a sweater in there I'm interested in making, so I took a closer look and discovered that this book contains not patterns but recipes for knitting.

With my new found patience (is spinning responsible for that?) I cast on the liberated Cascade Pima Tencel and started working up a swatch with samples of stitchery deemed appropriate for my Danish sweater.

The bottom is garter stitch, then seed stitch, then two types of triangles, topped by large checks. I am going to try some small checks as well, then decide which I want to use.

Did you know that historically the most popular color for Danish knitting was red? How fortunate for me!

One more thing before I go. Over a year ago, I sprained my thumbs gardening (don't ask how) and they have bothered me ever since, especially when doing certain yoga poses and when knitting with DPNs. This morning I had a deep tissue massage and I asked the therapist to work on my hands. It hurt, but it was a good hurt. Now that the little knots have been erased, my hands feel much better. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Go with your Gut

I decided not to reduce the length of the back of the Minimalist Cardigan. I laid all the pieces down on the floor, and it looks like what I thought was a measuring problem is actually a lack of symmetry, which should be fixable with blocking. So that is the state of that project right now: ready to be blocked.

The Sitcom Chic, on the other had, was frogged tonight. I picked it up, tried to force myself to just forge ahead, but too many doubts rose their ugly little heads. Wrong yarn for this pattern. Wrong needles and wrong needle size for the yarn. If I have to talk myself into working on it, something is wrong, so I frogged without further second guessing. I did some research on Ravelry, looking for projects using this yarn, and now I am leaning toward a tunic instead, something that won't look funky if the yarn stretches a bit, something that will handle the drape without making me look lumpy(-er). I'll let that idea marinate for a while.

The spinning is... better. Today I was able to work up some yarn that looked more like yarn and less like hawser. There is a spinning guild in town, but I don't think they have a web presence. If I could hook up with them, just long enough for some of their know-how to rub off, I think it would help.

Spinning is... different. More meditative. More tactile. More analog, if you know what I mean. I must be hooked, because I am starting to worry that I will run out of roving before I have a chance to get to that fiber fest three weeks from this weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not a Natural

Next month I plan to attend a fiber festival and decided it would behoove me to make use of the learn-to-spin kit before going. Then I will have an excuse to buy some of that luscious roving that I have so far been able to resist, heh, heh.

Well, to make a long story short, I am not much of a spinner. All I could think while toiling away at my drop spindle was, That is one ugly yarn!

It's not the yarn's fault. Have you ever knit with thick-and-thin yarn? Now I know where they get it: from beginning spinners who can't draft evenly.

After a while, I got the bright idea that maybe I should pre-draft all the roving.

It looked like Fern gakked up the world's biggest hair ball. Even she was freaked out when she saw it.

I keep saying to myself, Just accept the fact that some that some roving will have to be sacrificed while you struggle with this. Please don't tattle on me to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Wool, though.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Could Be Better?

What could be better than knitting? Or knitting while listening to books on CD? How about knitting while listening to live music on a lovely Saturday afternoon at Headwaters Park and supporting a worthwhile cause, all at the same time?

The event was Roots and Rhythm, the worthwhile cause was Vincent Village, and the knitting was the Minimalist Cardigan. Being busy, we were not there for the earlier acts, and being old, we did not stay for the later ones. Our target artist was Arvel Bird, who composes and plays Native American music with a definite Celtic influence (his heritage is Southern Paiute and Scottish). Arvel Bird presented a polished performance, including informative patter about animal totems. And there was step dancing by a woman who popped up from the audience, although I don't think her performance was spontaneous. It was hard to knit while all that was going on. A woman sitting nearby was crocheting what looked like a baby blanket. My SO reported there were more knitters in the grass, but I was too lazy to wander over and investigate.

If you like to knit and watch movies, try "The Golden Compass," which I watched Friday night. The movie was not all that engrossing, although I like the idea of souls represented by animal daemons. Also, there were many issues raised but not really addressed, since this was basically a children's movie. But the knitted outfits! Run "golden compass" knitting through your favorite search engine to see what I mean. There is even a "Golden Compass" knitting group on Ravelry.

Or maybe you favor TV as your knitting companion. There are the Olympics right now, of course, but my favorite knitting venue on the boob toob is NFL football. It won't be long now. Go Colts!

Oh, and I have a completely finished object (as opposed to one that needs ends woven in and/or blocking and/or seaming): the Fallen Leaves Shawl.

I used Plymouth Encore, which is a perfectly serviceable yarn, BUT. It is an acrylic blend and I have never had much luck blocking acrylic. While the shawl looked hopeful on the blocking wires, the edging curls up, hiding the picot details.

Oh, well. In the future, if I feel so inclined, I may try starching it. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy it. Or I will, once the temperatures drop.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Craft Lust

I knit. I crochet. I am on the verge of teaching myself to spin. I want to dye. And now, thanks to this, I want to weave, too. And start yarn from scratch with my own fleece, thanks to this. And this makes me miss quilting. Argh!!! Who has time to work when there are all these crafts to sample and master?!?

I do knit at work, during our weekly status meetings. My co-workers show a mild interest in whatever project I tote into the conference room, but last week I wore the Embossed Leaves socks and showed them off. My colleagues were properly impressed, although I think still puzzled over why anyone would knit socks.

And deep down, so am I. Why are we so obsessed with sticks and string? Perhaps knitting (and other crafts) satisfy that need to create that is so lacking in our jobs. I find that in some situations (like status meetings), knitting acts like Ritalin, allowing me to concentrate more freely because the non-listening part of my brain is engaged and happy. And when I am feeling stressed, knitting provides a mental/emotional "cone of silence" into which I can withdraw while I recharge my batteries.

As puzzled as non-knitters are about why we knit, many of them are still happy to be on the receiving end of hand knit items. There is something symbolic about gifting handmade things, as the time and effort put into creating the gift represents love and esteem. And it doesn't even have to be love between the knitter and the knittee. A woman I work with, upon seeing me knit, has said, "I wish someone would knit me a scarf," which I initially heard as "I wish you would knit me a scarf" but later decided maybe she meant "I have two ungrateful teenage daughters and my husband takes me for granted and my job is really stressful. I need to feel loved and appreciated and a handmade scarf just might do the trick."

Not to get too metaphysical about this, but our hands imbue the objects we create with energy. Hopefully, it is positive energy. Maybe that is why projects that just aren't working or that we don't like working on bury themselves in the bottom of the UFO basket. They are just not meant to be. Thankfully, yarn is forgiving, so we can rescue the materials and transform them into something joyful.

That said, it's time to turn my attention to non-knitting Saturday chores. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two-Thirds Done

I think. The back of the Minimalist Cardigan took four skeins, the front a little less. If I make the sleeves a bit longer than the pattern calls for, I expect them to take about four as well. Then all I will have to do are the seams. That alone should count as another third!

I finished listening to T Is for Trespass while I completed the front panels. If you like mysteries with a strong female lead character, the Sue Grafton series is for you. I haven't listened to the others on CD, but this one was great. Highly recommended, especially for knitting by.

BTW, if you participated in the contest on my other blog, make sure to go see who won (I'm talking to you, Debbie!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just Settle Down

After some assurances from other knitters of the Minimalist Cardigan, I decided I was overreacting to the curling of the stockinette. Yesterday, I started listening to T is for Trespass, by Sue Grafton, and before I knew it, I was nearing the end of the two front panels. That's when I realized I had knit the armholes too large on the back. No problem, though; I'll just rip back an inch or so. That I can deal with.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problem

The Go with the Flow socks are not quite right. Either I screwed up or the directions were not explicit enough for my nascent knitting knowledge, but the pattern is not quite centered over the instep and consequently will not be quite centered over the foot. I'm forging ahead, under the maybe mistaken delusion that it will be okay. Also, if anyone is looking that closely at my feet, they need a therapist.

More confounding is the Minimalist Cardigan. After completing the back, I jinxed myself by thinking things were going quite well and maybe, just maybe, I could complete a sweater without second-guessing myself all along the way. That was then. This is now. I started a front panel last night and discovered there is a strip of stockinette in place of a button band. We all know how stockinette curls, and this is no exception. It is curling UP and IN. Now what? I do not want a sweater that looks beautiful BUT, that is wearable EXCEPT. I've been looking around the 'net to see what others have done to address this problem but haven't settled on a solution yet. Also contacted Ravelry-ers who have knit this in the same yarn, to see if they had a similar problem. Maybe it will be okay. (rocking, rocking, rocking)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What a Dork Am I

I was feeling bad that I had not even started work on any of my knitting goals for this year, so when I discovered this Louet Drop Spindle kit from Spritely Goods, I leaped for it.

(And treated myself to some 'Coffee Pot Rock' yarn while I was at it).

Funny thing is, I was eyeballing my things-to-learn list today and discovered spinning is not on it. Oh, well!

The last couple of fiber fests I attended, I meant to purchase a drop spindle, but the selections were overwhelming and I was too shy to ask the vendor for help. So this kit is just what I needed - someone else to pick out the spindle and provide me with some roving and include instructions, even though I do have a copy of Start Spinning.

Hopefully, this stuff won't wind up in the closet with the needle felting project I bought at my first fiber festival.

When I started the Minimalist Cardigan, I moved it from my Ravelry queue to a WIP. Funny thing is, I had already chosen a yarn for it, and not the Lily Chin I was using. A few days later, while rummaging in my stash, I found a sweater's worth of maroon wool from Elann. Oh. That's right. I bought this yarn for the MC. Forgot all about it when I ordered the Lily Chin. Oh, well!

BTW, the back of the MC is done.

Time to start the front panels.

Regarding the Go with the Flow socks, we have turned the heels:

On to the gussets.

Well, maybe later, because right now I am dog tired.

P.S. Don't forget to visit my home and garden blog and sign up for the contest. Deadline is 08-08-08.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Is This Cheating?

My other blog, Woodchuck Acres, is having a contest to celebrate a milestone: 100 posts. I know at least some of you knitters also garden but don't visit my gardening blog, probably because this year it has mostly been a portfolio of my daylilies. But don't let that deter you from entering the contest. All you need to do is leave a comment at Woodchuck Acres sometime between now and August 8, 2008, naming your favorite vegetable. That's it. What could be simpler? And if you don't like vegetables, feel free to lie.