Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I finished the purple bag

(well all except weaving in the ends), and now I'm making a cord for the drawstring.

There are lots of ways to make a cord (twisted, braided, crochet, I-cord), this one just struck me as the quickest and easiest. Cast on a number of stitches (in this case 130). Turn around and bind them off.

A short time passes..... et voila!

Now to weave in those ends....

This was improvisational knitting all the way. I cast on a few stitches using the "figure 8" cast on, kept increasing every other round or so until I figured it was big enough, worked straight for a way throwing in some simple slip stitch patterns now and then, worked a round of eyelet holes, worked even for a bit more and bound off.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some re-connections

On Friday I went to Madison to take my Mom for lunch for her birthday. My nephew drove up from Chicago to join us, a treat for both of us gals. I think it's been almost a year since I had seen Nick (he's working on a PhD out in California) so it was fun to catch up. His field (physics/nanotechnology) is way out of my league, but I gather that he's trying to make molecules bump into each other and form clusters, and that his research equipment consists of something like a very fancy thermos bottle.

On Saturday, the daughter, Mom and I drove to Minnesota for a family reunion (well, the daughter, bless her, did all of the actual driving). It was a long haul there and back in one day, but we had a good time. I was able to see some cousins and their families that I hadn't seen in years.

Tomorrow I'm going to reconnect with Mr S. He's been in California for a few days, and darn it, I'm starting to miss him.


During the car ride to MN I got some work done on this

Just a little bag/purse using yarn that's been in the stash forever.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yesterday I Spent an Absolutely

ridiculous amount of time knitting this

It's the first little sample sock in Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I got through the leg just fine, no problem shaping the heel cup with short rows. But when I got to the part of the heel that runs at the bottom of the foot, Blam!, it was like hitting a brick wall. I could not get my rearranged stitches to match the diagram in the book (or more accurately, I could not conceptualize the relationship of the diagram to the stitches I was slipping onto different needles.) When I forged ahead and completed something like a heel I ended up two stitches short, with loose sloppy edges and gaping holes where the "wing" stitches met up with the instep. It was a mess.

I don't think there was anything wrong with the directions. I think it had to do with the way I assimilate information, at least knitting information.

First off, I think that what I already know got in the way of what I was trying to learn, I have a very clear grasp of the construction of a traditional heel flap and "French" heel turn.

I mean, by this point I understand it at some gut level that is deeper than words or numbers. Hand me any sock leg with any number of stitches on it and I can work that heel, because I can visualize how it is all supposed to come together, and how the proportions of the different sections work, and how a change to one dimension (say length of heel flap), will affect the other dimensions. And I think some of these "deeper than conscious thought" assumptions were bumping into the printed directions on the page and jangling things up. Because this heel is "sorta like, but not really" the heels I already know. Call it cognitive dissonance.

Secondly, I could not yet visualize how the parts of this new construction were supposed to work together. And if I didn't have a mental picture of what I was aiming for, and how it all worked together, I got confused. I'm good at visualizing something once I've seen an example - not so much from a written description. (Maybe that's why I like working from charts so much.) After I had my first somewhat bungled attempt done, I could turn it over in my hands and run my fingers along the places the different parts came together, internalizing how it all fit together.

It was at least close enough to what the designer intended that a little light bulb went on. "Aha! This is sort of, almost, like a Dutch Heel, only instead of using up stitches of the heel flap you are using up those "wing" stitches that are sort of the equivalent to a gusset." I ripped back, rearranged the stitches on the needles in a way that now made sense to me and sailed through the second go around.

I don't know that there is any moral to this story except maybe that it's really hard to write directions that can be clear to all "learning styles". I had no problem with Cat's instructions for her way of working short row wraps, or her favorite "Judy's Magic Cast On." But then, I'd watched her YouTube videos of those first. I was already seeing in my mind where to go and how to get there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hey, a FO!

That blue bit of knitting from two posts back has turned into a scarf and is drying now. It's not a very long scarf, just barely 40 inches, but it should be fine under a jacket/coat. If I'd had more yarn it would have been longer, but I didn't so it isn't.

It's blocking on some interlocking foam tiles I recently acquired from Knit Picks. It's a pretty slick system, but I wish they came in packages of 16 instead of 12. I don't think 12 will give a large enough surface for a big square shawl or a long stole. I could have ordered two boxes, but 24 tiles would probably be more than I'd ever use at one time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's a bit of a lonesome feeling

to putter around the yard without a little cat following. Our scrappy girl Gato is gone now, too. She'd been slowing down for a long time, experiencing more difficulties in more areas of life. On Friday we came to the hard realization that it was time for us to let go. So now St. Francis has a new spot under the apple tree.

I think this is the first time in 27 years that we haven't had a fur person in the house. I expect we will have one again, probably before too very long. But right now, I miss the blue and white water dish that was always in the kitchen, and seeing someone on the doorstep when I pull in the driveway after work. And even cranky as she sometimes was, I miss the company.

Common sense would say

that a textured pattern stitch isn't going to show up very well in a somewhat "busy" variegated fingering. Common sense has proven to be correct, at least with this yarn.

A bolder texture might have worked, maybe a largish cable, but much as I wanted it to, this one just doesn't cut it.

So I switched to a heavier weight (worsted) and a solid color.

I do seem to spend an awful lot of time relearning the obvious.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not a lot to report

The lace scarf has grown some. It's slow going because I really have to pay attention. But once I learned to just calm down and not expect to finish in a week, I'm finding it enjoyable work.

I've acquired a couple of new books. The one on top is Knit One Bead Too by Judith Durant (Storey Publishing, 2009). The purchase was a complete impulse buy (spotted in a bookstore, flipped through and carried to cash register).

I'm really glad I gave in to the impulse. Aside from lots of very pretty pictures, there is a ton of good information, clearly presented. The more I try to write technical directions myself, the more I appreciate someone who can write both thoroughly and concisely, and Judith Durant does exactly that.

The book opens with an overview of five different techniques for incorporating beads into knitted fabric, a description of tools and materials, and some tips for handling beads. Each of the five chapters after that goes into one technique in detail and has three projects using that technique - ranging from coasters to sweaters. All of the projects are nice; many would be worth knitting even without the beads, and I love that there are also swatches shown in alternate yarns/beads/color schemes. The last chapter gives directions for a little sampler bag that uses all five different techniques.

I doubt that I will soon be stringing hundreds of beads onto a ball of yarn. But I would like to try the simple sounding crochet hook method soon.

The second book is Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. This one had been on my list for awhile, and I never seemed to get around to actually ordering it. But I realized that if I'm going to be taking a class based on it in September, and I don't want to look like a total fool at that time, I might be wise to at least look it over before then. I'm sorry I waited so long. I do love, love, love designers who think outside the box. I got all excited just reading it. Now I have to sit down and practice some of the techniques.

Hey Laura, if you're reading, this may be the impetus to get me working "toe up" at long last.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

My New Foot

I've gotta tell ya, when I opened the box my first thought was, "Where's the lampshade?" It was even marked "fra-gee-lay".

My new foot is about two sizes smaller than my two old feet - may have to pad the toe - that or start knitting smaller samples.

Now I have to go start scouting locations.......

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Decided It's Worth Continuing

I "on the needle" blocked the bit of lace done so far (a little farther along than in the last picture). And I really like the hand/drape/feel of the result.

The yarn, BTW, is Webs 2/14 Alpaca/Silk in the color eggplant. A little darker with a little more brown than this picture.

I'm starting to get into the rhythm of working the pattern stitch, though will still be slow (hopefully very careful) knitting.

On a less frivolous note

from reports starting to leak out, many (1000's?) are on the streets of Tehran again today to speak out for democracy. Their courage is amazing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Gotta Say, I Love This Guy's Response

OK, so Dave Carroll had some very, very, very bad customer service experiences. Even worse than some I've had with the telephone company (and that's saying a lot). It's worth reading his whole story here.

He came up with a response that has got to be viscerally satisfying for all who have ever ended up in that endless and ultimately fruitless loop of phone calls.

Heck yes, I want to help him go just a little more viral. Power to the people (imagine clenched fist in the air here)!

It Really Has Been A While

since I've worked with lace weight yarn.

Dang if I don't feel fumble fingered. Doesn't help that the color is dark (though not quite as dark as it looks in the picture). And the yarn is loosely twisted, so I have to take care not to split it. Knitting speed slowed waaaaaay down.

This is my third swatch trying out slight variations on the stitch pattern I was working with in the last post. I think I almost have it the way I like it. Of course, it looks like a mess in its unblocked, crumpled looking state. I tried it first on size 1 needles. This second attempt is on size 2. I'm pretty sure the smaller size gives a better result. I was initially considering a rectangular stole. But by now I'm thinking maybe a scarf is a more realistic goal to aim for.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Back at it

I've been in swatching mode again, playing around with making up stitch combinations on my new Knit Visualizer program, then trying them out in leftover sock yarn.

After several permutations, I'm going to try the one at the top of the maroon looking swatch in lace weight.

A terrific story

about urban farming in Milwaukee.

My lovely daughter sent this to me, and I thought it was too good not to pass along.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Yarn Held Out

and the socks are done. I might have been able to squeak out another 1/2 inch on the top ribbing, but I'm glad I didn't. (Need a little yarn on hand for eventual repairs.)