Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Confession time

I have two confessions to make today.

The first: I lied. I put up the poll in good conscience and was going to abide by the results. However, over the weekend, I ran out of things to knit and the Earth Stripe seemed a simpler knit than the Wild Apple so I started it. It was going to be my mindless knit and I fully intended to start the Wild Apple this week. But the Earth Stripe wrap is far from a mindless knit. Yes, it is all stockinette.. On the other hand, the colors change so often that one is always weaving in an end or two and trying to decide if one should leave the color to be picked up a row or three or four later. And it is tricksy. Some of the colors change after odd numbers of rows so even though the same color is used a few rows later, it has to be cut and joined as it will be used starting from the other end. Therefore, I am going to have to finish it before I start the Wild Apple. I apologize for putting you through a poll that I won't be using. Mea culpa

Second: I promised I'd leave a comment on your blog if you commented about my blog etiquette post. But I find I am unable to find your blog in some cases! I left a comment on the post to this effect but I need to make my cluelessness public.

I really like knitting the Earth Stripe Wrap, though. The yarn is gorgeous (of course) and the colors are amazing in the way they combine. Kaffe Fassett has done a wonderful job in mixing the most unlikely colors together and in some cases having interesting effects by using extremely contrasting colors in sequence. Of course, the fact that two colors are held together at all times helps and many of the colors used in the wrap blend with many other colors - chartreuse or mauve as two examples. However, I keep envisioning it completed and wrapped around me and I want to knit it all the time till it is done. Going to work, or sleep seems like a waste of time!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Podcast review and blog etiquette

I have been listening to Ready, Set, Knit. Like the Knitpicks podcast, it is authored by the owner of an online yarn store. Unlike the Knitpicks podcast, it also appears to be a regular radio show and the yarn store also has a brick and mortar presence. Ready, Set, Knit is created by the owners of Webs. It is very professionally produced and has three major segments. The first discusses new yarns and closeouts at the store, the second is an interview with mention of upcoming events at the store and the third is a knit-along with tips and techniques. It is informative but definitely feels like an infomercial. However, I still enjoyed it as the owners banter with each other and with the interviewee and the knit-along leader. Each is almost exactly 30 mins long and the content is delivered crisply as befits a radio show.

I also happened on a thread on Ravelry which intrigued me. It has to do with blog etiquette. The gist of it is that when someone leaves a comment on your blog, you should leave a comment on their blog. I understand the rationale behind this - to increase traffic to one's blog. But the principle of it bothers me. It is a self-escalating because where do you draw the line? I leave a comment on your blog, you leave a comment on my blog and then I leave a comment on your blog, etc. Where does it end? It is like gift-giving at Christmas where I give you a token gift and then you feel obliged to give me something. Next year, I buy you something a bit more expensive but this time you are prepared and you buy me something. This is how Christmas became commercial - in my humble opinion. However, I am wondering if I have committed a social gaffe in not reciprocating to those of you who have left comments here. Speak up and tell me (in an email if you don't want to leave a comment) if I didn't follow through on something you expected. I promise that I will at least leave a comment after this one instance. What is the proper etiquette in this case?Lastly, here's a photo of my completed Peacock socks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ta da!

Here it is. This is one way to wear it but you could also pin one front on the opposing shoulder. I am very happy with the drape and the fabric.

I also finished the Opal Peacock socks this weekend. Now I have to find a new mindless project. I am tired of socks. I may switch to knitting caps with the leftovers and send them off to some charity that will take kids' caps. If I start at the crown and knit to the brim, I can knit till I'm out of yarn.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The absence and presence of color

This is a just a photo essay to compensate for the extra words lately. It is also a contrast between lack of color and a sensory overload of color. Given that we are in the darker part of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, color is very attractive and hence my choice of projects.

The wrap all blocked and drying. Close-up of the st pattern on the wrapWild Apple Bohus yarns. The body color is on the top right and the others are the yoke colors. This is from my project 'bag' for the Wild Apple which has been ready to go for a while. I have the chart and the pattern copied and put into sheet protectors. The needles are also ready to go as I have a special bag with the needles from the last Bohus.
A close-up of the yoke of the Wild Apple. This is a postcard that came with the pattern kit.
The chart for the Wild Apple .Materials for Earth Stripe Wrap organized - I made a color card for the colors. You can see the photo of the wrap on the cover of the Rowan magazine. This one is also ready to go with the needle pulled out of the needle storage and the pattern copied and put into a sheet protector.
Yarns for the Earth Stripe Wrap

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It is complete!

I bound off the large black wrap last evening, wove in ends today, and it is soaking in a warm bath, as I write this, preparatory to being blocked. Pictures in my next post. I am so excited because it turned out well and it is complete. I love working with color and the black was getting to me and my eyes. Since I can't show you the next swatch I'm going to be knitting, I thought I'd show you the yarn. The colors excite me. These are all colors of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in a few colorways. I have recently (in the past couple of years) been fascinated by what happens when you combine colors of hand-painted yarn in a pattern. If you pick colors that don't blend, you get one sort of effect but if you pick colors that blend, you get a different kind of pattern that doesn't look as if it is made with different yarns. You don't get any pooling or striping. I did this with the socks that were published in Big Girl Knits. This first picture shows the fabric achieved by combining River and Irving Park. You need to scroll down on the linked page to see the two colorways. While the blue of River stands out, the violet blends with the violet in Irving Park.
The next picture shows Irving Park by itself so you can see the difference. Irving Park is also represented in the two right-most skeins in the top photo. Since then, I've been experimenting with blending more than two colorways. These are good ways to use up that single skein of hand-painted yarn or leftovers from other projects.
I listened to PassioKnits and purl diving over the past couple of days. Passioknits is about knitting, a single voice and the content was fine. Length was also in my preferred 20-30 min range. It didn't grab my attention. however. Purl diving was a whole 'nother story. They are short little episodes - 8-20 mins each. The first one I listened to grabbed me immediately with the choice of music - The Ride of the Valkyries and Led Zeppelin's the Immigrant Song covered by Ann Wilson. Katharine Matthews also has very clear enunciation that avoids monotony and makes it very easy to listen to what she is saying. I really enjoyed listening to the 4 episodes that filled my 2 mile walk yesterday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blogging as a way of life

I don't think I am cut out for blogging. I see so many other blogs where people post regularly with lovely pictures and knitted items and, while I can always think of things to write about, I am not all that diligent about taking pictures or scouring the Internet so I can put things on my blog.

So that is my pathetic excuse for not writing a second blog entry during the week. I had good intentions but didn't. My week was not that bad in terms of time - busy but not overly busy. However, I spent my free time knitting rather than blogging. And I spent it knitting something that I can't post about. Maybe in the future, you will see it.

Which brings me to this blog entry's topic - am I cut out for blogging?

I am very unlike most knitters I come across on the Internet and like most knitters I know in my local area. I knit. I knit a lot. But I don't knit more than one thing at a time, maybe two. I knit almost every day but I don't knit long enough to finish or start things frequently. Therefore, I don't have a lot of new pattern starts, progress on various fronts, or new yarn coming in to generate content. I knit one thing for a few months and then move on to another thing. I get a lot of knitting done but most of it isn't interesting on a weekly basis. And then, to add to the sad story, a number of the items I knit I can't talk about. If I am knitting for a book, or a yarn company, or a submission that I hope will be picked up by someone, I can't blog about it. That is what I was knitting this week. A submission for a new book by Interweave that will come out in 2009. How boring is that? I can't talk about it now, or next year when I'm (she says hopefully) knitting it. I can talk about it in 2 years, if at all. Because if Interweave doesn't pick up the idea, I hope to sell it to someone else.

This week, besides the above-mentioned unmentionable, I am furiously knitting away on the shawl collar of the wrap. I spent a good bit of time yesterday with the daylight lamp and the magnifier picking up the sts. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT knit a row with scrap yarn when you want to keep two large sets of sts live on black yarn. I had to pick up the sts one at a time with two needles under the magnifying glass to avoid losing them. I've only done this with smaller numbers of sts in sock yarn or worsted weight yarn that wasn't black or a dark color. I should have put each set of sts on its own scrap yarn holder instead of knitting a row joining them with the scrap yarn. Lesson learned.

The good news is that I'm done with that task and am now happily ribbing the shawl collar so that you may have a photo of a blocking wrap by the time the week is over!

The technical part of our program has to do with shawl collar construction. I have all the band sts on my needle, from the bottom of the left front band to the bottom of the right front band. I marked the place where I started short rowing for the V-neck - i.e. where the V neck shaping begins on the fronts. I also marked the spots where I transitioned from the front neck to the back neck on each side.

I started by knitting about one third of the way from the back/front neck transition marker to the beginning of shaping marker on one side, and moving the back/front neck marker on that side to that spot. This is the beginning of the shawl collar shaping. I then turned and went to the corresponding place on the other side and moved that back/front neck transition marker there to set up the beginning of the shawl collar on the other side.

I am shaping the shawl collar by knitting gradually increasing short rows from one marker to the other till I get to the markers that tell me I'm at the bottom of my V-neck. After that I will knit all the way around to create the front bands. My short rows started by increasing 1 st at a time on each side for about one quarter of the rows, 2 sts for another quarter and 3 sts for the last half. I am hoping that this will give me roughly 1/3 of the short rows at 1 st, another third at 2 sts and the last third at 3 sts to create a gradual curve. I haven't done the math to see if it actually works out that way and I leave that as an exercise for all of you dear readers (if I have any at this point).

I had 40 sts for the short row shawl collar shaping on each side. I knit 10 rows of 1 st increments, 10 rows of 2 st increments and 20 rows of 3 sts increments (it is actually 21 sts as I stole a st from the band to make it come out even).

1x1 rib is boring but given it is a lot fewer sts than I was dealing with in the body of the wrap, it is going reasonably fast. I am listening to podcasts now as I knit so you will get a podcast review or two also in this entry. I realize this is a long entry that is going all over the place but that is what happens when I don't post for a few days.

I love Lixieknits It! They are short - 20-25 mins each. She has three or four segments - a blog watch, wool news and then an assortment of various things like what she's knitting or a review of the Ally Pally show at Alexandra Palace. I'm seeing a pattern here. I like international podcasts and I like ones that have some sort of knitting news or information in them.

In the same vein, I didn't like KnitWit: Rantings of a Rabid Knitter, not because there is anything wrong with the podcast but it doesn't contain the aforementioned content. She tells short stories. The part I liked is that these are short - 8-15 mins each. But I'm not looking for stories or essays when I'm knitting so the content doesn't match my mood.

I also listen to podcasts when I walk or run but I can't listen to knitting podcasts when I do that. I need to listen to podcasts that are motivational so I listen to fitness and health related podcasts. If I listen to knitting ones, I want to stop working out and knit.

Over and out!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Unpicking is hard

That is the finished large black thing sans collar. The white line down the middle is the scrap yarn that I have to undo to pick up the sts for the front bands and collar. I tried unpicking them in the car on Saturday and it didn't really work. I need two circular needles, one for each set of sts and I have to get them on the needles at the same time. I had only one and that was tough. So I gave up.

I should have done more this weekend but it turned out to be exceptionally busy. We went bookcase shopping on Saturday which pretty much ate up most of the day. Yesterday I spent an incredible amount of time entering my original designs into Ravelry. Since I've been designing since 2001 and only do 1 or 2 designs a year (except for the first year when I did 4), it takes time to dig out the details and enter them. I had to go through my magazines and books and find the ones that had the designs. I only have a couple left.

I was also busy with other personal non-knitting stuff. So no knitting although I could have used something really boring and mindless. Unpicking the scrap yarn out of the wrap didn't qualify. Since the yarn is black, I have to pay attention to make sure I have all the sts. I need to sit down with the daylight lamp and two smaller circulars and just do it. This evening also disappeared somewhere. Maybe mañana!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A busy week

I haven't posted in a week mainly because I was waiting for my new bag. I thought I'd photograph it after it arrived Monday and post an entry. But I didn't get around to taking pictures till this morning and somehow blogging about it without pictures seemed like a waste. So here it is! It is a lovely silk brocade - not very durable but pretty. It is also very practical.
This is the bag with the front flap open. As you can see there are two pockets for gadgets. I have my PDA and my cell phone there. There is a zippered pocket on the front flap also where I keep papers. There are two pen clips, one on each side of the gadget pockets. You can see the unused one as a black tab on the left of the PDA. Unfortunately, the flap is secured by velcro, which I don't like very much. Those two black circles on the flap are two grommeted holes so one can thread one's headphone cord through one of them with a music player or cell phone in the gadget pockets. Very well thought out.

Just below the strap is a nice D-ring for keys. I used to clip my keys to the zipper pull on my last bag. I didn't find that too practical as one has to pay attention during the clip/un-clip process. This is better. Also the bag is padded in the back and flexible so it is very comfortable to wear across the body.
Another practical thing is a reinforced band just below the D-ring. You can see it without anything on it in the first picture and with my ipod clipped to it in the second. It is a good place to clip your cell phone or ipod for quick access. I haven't used this yet and I think I wouldn't put my ipod there but I could see putting my cell phone there if I was expecting a call.
I also read a very moving book about knitting this week and how it helped people get through emotional crises in their lives. The book is "The Knitting Circle" by Ann Hood. I tend to get really involved in the books I read and I found myself in tears at various places in the book. I am not usually someone who reads books about knitting and I rarely read fiction that isn't a mystery. I found this on the new book shelf at the library and borrowed it on a whim. I really enjoyed it.

I was also focused on completing the large black wrap. I am pleased to announce that the body is done. I need to pick up and knit the shawl collar and then I'll be done. It has some heft to it but it is a good size. I hope the recipient likes it. I am getting psyched about finishing it as I want to start my Bohus.

Other than that, I was busy because math tutoring has started so Wed night was devoted to that. I had teleconferences for work on two other days which only left me Monday and Friday as knitting days.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Not a good knitting week

I meant to post on Thursday night but I didn't. I didn't do much of anything in the evenings this week. I am supposed to be over the jet-lag, because you make up an hour a day or so they say, and I've been back for more than a week now. But while I'm sleeping till 6 am each morning, I'm going to bed at 8:30 or 9 pm. That does not leave much time for knitting or anything else. I stayed up on Halloween to hand out candy but that is pretty much it.

Anyway, I do have pictures. These are the socks I finished while I was traveling. The orange and black ones on the left are the Schmetterling or Butterfly colorway, just in time for Halloween. The ones on the right are the Frog or Frosch colorway. I also have one sock done in the Peacock colorway and am past the heel on the second. These are all knit toe up so there is only the leg and cuff to do. I find that there is a distinct difference between my yarn preference s for knitting socks and for wearing them. Sock I love knitting are not necessarily the ones I love wearing. For example, I really didn't like knitting the Frog socks. Too boring. But I know they will get a lot of use because the colors are ones that match a lot of my outfits. Ditto on the Peacock. But the Butterfly was a fun knit because the colors change so often. I will probably wear them too but not as often as the others. The other fiberly thing I did was to get a quilt ready for quilting. My mother had hand-pieced a quilt together from sewing scraps. It is like looking through a memory book because I can identify clothing I had made for myself. I started that quilt one summer as a teenager and my mother continued it and worked on it till she died a few years ago. I had put it aside thinking I wanted to finish it by hand but I realized a few months ago that this is not likely in the near term. I found a local quilter who will quilt it for me and then I need to do the hand sewing on the edging.My mother had paper pieced it so there were little card templates on the inside of the edges. The first step was to remove these and the basting that held them together. I couldn't steam open the seam allowance on the edges as the hand sewing had caught them in many cases. I would have to open up the seams and re-do them. So I am going to turn the backing under and hand sew it to the pieces on the front to finish. The next step was to baste the seam allowance in place so that it would stay under during the quilting. I picked out a lovely rusty marbled fabric for the backing/binding and a wool batting.The quilt top consists of 2x2" squares, alternating plain and printed fabrics. The prints are mostly clothing I made and wore. The plain ones are my mother's cholis. Looking at this close-up, the brown with white polka dots; the black stripes with the red and white flowers; the purple with the white geometric design; the really bright swirls of pink, green , brown and turquoise; and the yellow with the purple pin dots and flowers are all shirts I made for myself. The mauve and white gingham near the bottom is the base for a dresser set I embroidered in counted cross-stitch. It really brings back my teenage years. My color preferences don't appear to have changed much.

I ran today. I've been good about exercising this past week after being really spotty for months. I listened to two episodes of Lime and Violet while walking/running and they are just too long for me. Each was an hour and something and I find that splitting them over multiple days just doesn't work. But the good news is that I think I'm getting the mind over body thing. I find that I can run for short intervals but once I get to 3-4 mins I just get bored and stop. Today I ran for 5 mins at a stretch, but the real victory was that I wasn't checking the watch every few seconds. I was able to veg out and run. This is going to be the key to my actually running for 30 mins at a stretch, because you can't run for that long while looking at your watch every few seconds. While walking, I veg out but running for some reason never allowed me to do that even when I am not out of breath. But I love the way I feel after running even for a short time.