Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Insert Non-Cliche Title Here

Titles. Feh. Especially because what I have to tell you about today is so very ripe for a bad cliche.

Under Construction
Under Construction

I stayed home from work, yesterday and started the Tiger Eye socks from Socks, Socks, Socks. The yarn is Louet Gems Pearl, in Eggplant, and the needles are #2's. I'm a little concerned that the #2's are a bit big for the yarn (I don't remember what the pattern calls for, but it is certainly a sock weight); the knitting looks fine, but I'm concerned that these could wear out more quickly (the density that smaller needles lend the fabric makes socks more durable). How concerned am I? Not enough to rip these out and finding a heavier weight yarn, or to do the work necessary to go down a needle size (I've already tried smaller needles, the sock would have been too small). If they wear out quickly, so be it. Nothing is permanent.

Tiger Eye
This is a bit closer to the actual color

Now, stop singing "Eye of the Tiger". Seriously. That song will kill brain cells.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bath Mat!

Since bspinner asked (and my sister is begging for one), here is what I can tell off of my Friday addled brain:

I have used Sugar n' Cream worst weight yarn, doubled, on #10 needles, mostly because I haven't bothered to get #10.5, which would make the knitting more comfortable. I think I will continue to use the #10 needles because I suspect the tightness of the gauge makes the mat a little stronger. I knit using Garter Stitch. The original pattern calls for seed stitch, but I like the cushiness of garter stitch.

The first two mats I knit are 2 colors (2 balls of each color) and checkered. If you have more tolerance for many balls of yarn flying around than I, you can use intarsia. I myself knit 3 strips, 23 stitches each. Knit the first color until relatively square, add the second color and knit that for the same number of rows, repeat the first color. You'll want 2 of these strips, and one in which the colors are reversed. Sew up the strips and Voila! Bathmat!

The balls of Sugar n' Cream I had seemed to be extra large, and I managed to get most of the way to a second mat. This time I just knit 2 rows of each color. It's almost square and I didn't have quite enough yarn to cast off (I cheated, don't tell).

One of THOSE Weeks

It's been one of those weeks. You know the kind, when nothing makes sense or works properly and you are quite certain it's your fault. And you don't think the weekend will be a respite because nothing is quite right there either. Nothing truly awful, you understand, just slightly off center.

1. I made someone angry Friday and was dealing with the reprecussions for most of this week. I finally apologized to her for making her angry. She told me that she forgives me, even though what I said was inappropriate. Isn't that sweet? {insert appropriate level of sarcasm}

2. I am trying to do something at work which will make a very large job that I have much easier and less cumbersome. It turns out that what I am trying to do, using a program I don't know very well, is complicated enough to not be explained well in any of the documentation I could find.

3. I finally sent an e-mail to Schoolhouse Press about the fair isle math issue; the response I got muddied the waters further.

4. I either made Len angry or hurt.

Then, starting late afternoon yesterday, everything starting falling into place:

1a. I spoke with a third party about this person. It turns out she has been having the same problems with her. It turns out that I am not (necessarily) a bitch from hell, but that she is very easily angered. Troubling enough, but I least I won't feel guilty when she gets angry at me again.

2a. My database guru K. came through with a clear, concise explanation for what I need to do to make my project work. It was not complicated. At all.

3a. I got another e-mail in response to my second desperate plea, explaining what is going on with the charts. It turns out that the repeat is actually 32 stitches, not 33. There are 33 stitches in the charts because of a publishing fluke: the first and last stitches are repeated in the chart. All is becoming clear.

4a. Len is neither angry nor hurt. I'm not sure he remembers that I said anything at all.

All is well in Lee-land.

Monday, January 22, 2007


It seems like it's been a long time since I posted about knitting. Oh wait! I've posted about the fair isle swatch, but that isn't knitting. That's the 5th circle of Knitting Hell (maybe someday, I'll post about the others, but I can only handle so much right now).

So. Knitting that doesn't make me want to hurt someone.


Progress on Icarus continues. This picture doesn't even begin to convey the deep, rich red of the yarn.


Also, I started a new hat for Len. This is essentially the same as a blue hat I've already made for him. My Oh-So-Limited-Color-Palette boyfriend has agreed to a blue stripe. His palette consists of gray, green and blue (he says red, too, but I have my doubts), and while the blue stripe is within the color range -- it is, in fact, left over yarn from the other hat -- he generally doesn't agree to anything so fancy as stripes. Freak.

I also knitted a bath mat. A knitted bathmat was one of my first projects, many years ago, and now they are the only kind I use. I'm obsessive that way. I'll spare you a picture since it is already in use, and who wants to see a picture of a used bathmat? If you have some sort of crazy desire to knit one of your very own, let me know and I will figure out the specs.

There has also been a bit going on on the weaving front, but I'll save that post for another day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby

We had an ice storm Sunday night. We are lucky not to have any damage to our house, outbuildings, or vehicles, and while we did lose power early Monday morning, it was back on by the evening. Unfortunately, most of our pine trees lost several large limbs.
This is our little garden, next to the greenhouse.

My Parking Space
My car was here. Len moved it before the branches fell.

Missing Branches
This tree sustained the most obvious damage.

The landscape is beautiful, though. Remind me of that when we are cutting up those branches!

I have to admit, I went a little crazy with the camera, so there are a lot more pictures in Flickr.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Shuffle Up

The A.V. Club (which is part of the satirical newspaper The Onion) has a column called Random Rules -- semi-famous people (they might be really famous, but I've only heard of David Cross and Moby) "set their MP3 players to shuffle and comment on the first few tracks that come up -- no cheating or skipping embarrassing tracks allowed". I've been enjoying the shuffle function on my little toy and it doesn't look like anything too embarrassing came up ('cos, you know, I didn't just download two Asia songs):

1. Rank Stranger -- The Knitters -- The Modern Sounds of the Knitters
I heard about The Knitters from a review on the A.V. Club. I mean hello? The Knitters? It gets better: they are Joe Doe, Exene and DJ Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin of the Blasters, and Jonny Ray Bartel. And they are doing some straight up rockabilly country. This is my favorite song from this album, I love Exene's voice on the track. It's punk and country and so utterly cool.

2. Let's Go Crazy -- Prince -- Purple Rain
I blew out my dad's stereo, twice, with this album. The movie is terrible (I own it, of course), but I think this is one of the crucial albums from the 1980's, a decade when there was so little crucial music. This song makes me want to do a crazy little spastic dance.

3. Greenville -- Lucinda Williams -- Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Musically, this is such a sad, spare song, but the lyrics are pretty pissed off. I just love her voice, it isn't beautiful, but it's the voice of someone who been around the block many times. This album is a classic.

4. New Slang -- The Shins -- Garden State Soundtrack
This is such a pretty song. This is the song that's playing when Natalie Portman hands Zach Braff her headphones and tells him this song "will change your life". I don't know about that so much, but it is such a sweet song and fits that moment perfectly. I remember feeling that way about music.

5. Shake the Chandelier -- The Gourds -- Heavy Ornamentals
The Gourds. Good god I love this album. It's so cheerful and fun, without being stupid.

6. Dreams are Not My Home -- Roseanne Cash -- Black Cadillac
I got this album a while ago but haven't listened to it often enough. So I can't really comment on this song. I am very fond of the album, though. Moody, sad, dark, but not oppressively.

7. It Wasn't Me -- Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins -- Rabbit Fur Coat
Some friends gave this to me a couple of weeks ago; I don't know it by heart yet. The album made it on to several Best-of-2006 lists, and it's easy to see (hear?) why. It's a gorgeous album.

8. Dear Someone -- Gillian Welch -- Time (The Revelator)
Gillian Welch has one of those voices that I just love, like Lucinda Williams' and Paul Simon's, it isn't pretty not does it have any frills. She has a plain songwriter's voice. This song has a lullaby feel to it.

9. Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show -- Neil Diamond
I quit being embarassed by liking at least some of Neil Diamond's music after seeing that he performed in The Band's The Last Waltz. His music isn't all Heartlight and You Don't Bring Me Flowers (a song I knew well enough, by the way, that I could sing it to the single's B-side, which left the singing off. My best friend and I would duet, I don't remember who was Neil and who was Barbara). Anyway, this song wasn't overplayed in my youth, so I still like it a lot.

10. Run That Body Down -- Paul Simon -- self-titled
My love for Paul Simon is pretty well documented. This is a nigh on perfect album. I feel like his attempts at falsetto in this song should annoy me, but they don't.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More on the Fair Isle

I went home yesterday and checked the numbers for, ummm, the hundreth time. I was wrong (of course). You cast on [some number], plus 7 for the steek*, plus 2 for "balance". Once you've done the oh-so-fun corregated ribbing, you increase to 320+7+1=328. Not that 320 is any more divisible by 33 than 312 is.

*This set of 7 steek stitches is for the cardigan opening. Valerie is right, there will be another 2 sets for the arm holes, but those will be added later. I suspect the sleeves will be another brain bender, but I'd rather not think about that for now.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Useless Knitting

Gauge Swatch
Well, not exactly useless, but not really useful, either. This is a very large, tubular gauge swatch and represents the most advanced planning that I have ever put into a sweater. I said when I first posted about this, that I was getting about 7.5 stitches to the inch, which would make a 44" sweater. After finishing the swatch and washing it (yes, I am even taking sweater care into account), it seems that I am getting more like 8 stitches per inch and would be getting more like a 42" sweater. Also my original intention was to knit more of the colorwork using the brown as a background color. I ditched that idea -- the brown in the above picture is quite a lot lighter than it really is.

So. I have ripped out the brown section and the next two sections and am trying again with a larger needle. This might get me closer to the correct gauge. If not, my plan is to add two 33 stitch repeats and hope for the best. One of the big problems I'm having is that I don't really understand what is going on with the numbers. The pattern calls for 320 stitches in the body, including 7 steek* stitches and one stitch for "balance" (I don't quite know what Swanson means by this). Shouldn't the rest of the stitches (312) be divisible by 33? They aren't and I don't understand why. I'm really feeling like I'm not going to get it until I do it. What could happen? I might have to rip it out. I've never had to that before!

*For those of you who don't know: a steek is extra stitches that you eventually cut open, for sleeve holes, and/or cardigan openings.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Little Electronic Gadget Woes

I know, I said I would post again a few days ago and I didn't. Mostly because I've been pretty busy trying (and failing) to get caught up at work.


My adorable boyfriend got this little toy for me for Christmas. There is nothing like a tiny little gadget that "all the kids" have to make me feel like a middle-aged Luddite. It is a long, convoluted tale of woe, and I shall spare you the details (most of which involve strange numbers like OS X 10.3, 10.3.4 and 10.3.9 and so on). After much confusion, getting kicked off of my dial-in service (after 4 hours of downloading fun), crashing systems, tears, ripped out hair, and the gentle prodding of my good friend K, my old iMac is now as up to date as it needs to be. Tonight I will find out if it and the iPod will be on speaking terms, or if the rift is permanent.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas-Palooza is Over

Simon & Judy Closeup
...and the kitties are resting.

I will try to post tomorrow with stories of little electrontic gadget woes.