Thursday, January 31, 2008

Finished Duster and Some Roadblocks

On Monday I said I would report on the Tilted Duster buttons (as well as a hilariously unsuccessful sewing attempt). Obviously, that did not happen and I know you are on the edge of your seat. As if.

Tilted Collar

Here is the collar as it stood (heh) last week. It was big and rather overwhelming, so I ended up taking about an inch or a little more out (which really means I ripped it to about an inch below the first buttonhole, since they needed to be repositioned). I'm much, much happier with the way it looks.


Unfortunately, this is the only sort-of-nice picture I have of the duster with buttons, you will just have to trust me when I say it looks really nice. I was a little worried because the ribbing was very puffy before washing, but I suspected a good soaking would tame the stitches. Luckily, I'm not always wrong and it behaved just as I thought. The fit is a bit larger than I would like, but not nearly enough to feel like it's a problem. Overall, I'm very pleased with how the sweater came out, and I think I will get a lot of use out of it.

Sewing has a bit of a learning curve. Whenever I sit down at that machine, I start out with a tangled, knotty mess. I've managed to get through it, but I don't know how. Knowing how I'm getting past the knotty mess would go a long way towards avoiding the problem in the first place. Frustrating.

Frost and Flowers has been problematic as well. I got to a point that I just couldn't make the stitches work out. I checked and re-checked (several times) and I have enough stitches, but I just couldn't get it to work out. Finally I remembered. I have a first edition of Gathering of Lace and it is riddled with errors (insert swearing here), and when I checked the online errata, sure enough, the line I am on has a missing decrease (which I was expecting, but I wasn't sure of the placement). Now if I can just remember to take those pages home, I'll be all set.

But wait! There's more! In April, I started a version of the Equinox Pullover from Interweave Knits. I decided I would prefer a cardigan and that the whole thing should be knitted in the round and steeked (cut apart, for you non-knitters). So I casted on, knitted away, then put it aside when warm weather hit. I picked it up again a few days ago and it seems I've learned a few things about stranded knitting in the intervening months. The Dale of Norway baby sweater was a huge learning experience (funny for such a wee little sweater). Here's the problem: I casted on and have been knitting seven steek stitches (the stitch that gets cut, plus some extra just-in-case-it-unravels stitches). I don't remember why I have seven, but now I'm concerned that it's too many. I knitted facings for the Dale sweater which cover the raw edges, with such a large number of stitches to cover the facings will be very wide. Also, I'm concerned that the button plackets will need to cover much too wide of a space. The bottom and cuff ribbing are just three rows, the plackets would need to be at least double and that could easily offend my sense of balance. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Feline Roadblocks:
Judy hates Fred.

Judy is Annoyed

Now that she has decided to rejoin the posse, she's around to beat up on the wee little bugger. Judy is three times the size of Fred, but Fred has been able to defend herself very well. I'm more concerned with Judy's emotional well being, she is so unhappy. We're thinking about checking with our vet to see if anti-anxiety drugs would be helpful, since therapy isn't an option.

Plus, I haven't being feeling all that well for the last few days. It finally hit me that the symptoms I'm experiencing are exactly my allergy symptoms: sore throat, oogy stomach, run down. Fred seems to have pushed me over the edge of what my allergy medication can handle. {sigh}

Monday, January 28, 2008

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Booties & Hat

The booties are from Saartje's freaking adorable pattern (which, once I worked through my bone-headedness, is perfectly clear and easy). The hat I made up on my very own (based on a hat pattern in some book I have).


I knew I wanted bright blue buttons (I sometimes pass a bright orange house with a bright blue chair on the porch and have often thought that it is such a nice little detail). I figured I would make-do with plain round buttons, but found these flowers instead. What could be more perfect?


So perfect, that I decided they deserved repeating on the hat.

I found the buttons at Threadbear on Saturday, where I got to meet and have my picture taken by a very delightful Franklin of The Panopticon fame. I am pleased to report that I did not make a complete ass of myself (at least I don't think I did). Nor did I break the bank on yarn, despite being lined up next to the lace weight (very unfair).

I also found buttons for the Tilted Duster, which I will report on tomorrow, along with my unsuccessful attempts at sewing. At this rate, MICHMash, I will be ready to help you with your pajama pattern in about 5 or 6 years.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kool-Aid Sunrise


Tuesday night I pulled out three balls of yarn (er, Cleakheaton Country something something, discontinued), light pink, lavender, and dusty rose, and was promptly lost in a storm of indecision. I liked the colors together, I didn't think I would, but they were rather soft and pretty. However, as you are looking at orange and red rather than pinks and lavender, I think you know which way I went.

So. Cleakheaton something or other, DK weight, superwash wool. Each ball was about 50 grams. The instructions I've read say to use 1 packet of kool aid per ounce of wool for saturated color. Um. Yeah, I increased that a bit. I used 10 packets for 1.75 ounces. That was a bit extreme, since it didn't soak up all the dye, but it sure is saturated! I then spent most of yesterday evening knitting and ripping a bootie, not because anything is wrong with the pattern, but I seem to be a bit dim (unlike the yarn). I should have at least one bootie to show tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Minor Irritations

Unlike Stef, truly minor.

Fred, who is delightful in so many ways, has developed a very bad behavior: she pees and poops in inappropriate places. We think this is because she is afraid of Judy, who has not reacted well to Fred's presence. At. All. Her hiding place is next to the litter boxes. We've put another box upstairs, but the only appropriate place is also a regular Judy hideout. The really rotten bit is that she ruined my copy of Atonement, which I have not finished.

In the very minor, but what in god's name was she (whoever she is) thinking, category: someone cut her hair in our bathroom at work. There are shreds of it all over the sink and clumps on the floor. Who would do such a thing? I can imagine a moment of bang despair, wherein she just could not contain herself (I've had those moments, but have, to this date, managed to suck it up until I got to my own private bathroom at home), but to not then clean up after herself? Very rude, and kind of gross (especially because this is a very small bathroom).

My drive to work today was shockingly bad. This winter has had plenty of snow, ice, fog, sleet and rain, but never have I seen so many cars having slid into each other then off the highway. It's as though drivers randomly decided that it is no longer winter, and that is not less true just because there is snow and ice on the road. Thus, we crawled into Ann Arbor at a whopping 20 miles per hours. Slow, but very safe.

I went to find yarn yesterday and came up with this:

Once I started knitting (a Baby Surprise), I decided there is too much tan and the self-patterning yarn does not work in garter stitch (which not have been a surprise, but, well, you know. It was.) Ugh. As I was lying in bed, stressing a bit, I remember that I have a couple of very pale pastel balls of washable DK weight wool, which I could dye with kool-aid. I can't remember if I have two or three of these and I'm just feeling very indecisive about the whole baby-sweater-in-less-than-a-week endeavor. I went to another shop at lunch. Nothing. I have decided (I think) to make a pair of booties (Saartje's booties, in fact) and a wee hat (which I'll make it up as I go). Kool-aid dye tonight, knitting tomorrow. If that doesn't work, watch this space for my exploding head.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend Crafting

I am pleased to report, despite a rather busy Saturday, I managed to finish the Tilted Duster:

Tilted Duster

Simon is pleased. I added a couple of rows of garter stitch to the bottom of the expanse of stockinette, since I can't help but think it will curl, even with severe blocking. I had enough of the green to do the collar, but decided to stick with my original plan to use the mauve, which I think adds some extra interest.

Tilted Collar

It still needs buttons (I'm going up to Nirvana=ThreadBear* this weekend and will, I hope, find some). It also needs to be blocked -- the sweater fits but lays a bit oddly, the knitting really needs a good soak to relax some, which should fix that issue. I may also end up ripping the collar and re-knitting it, since it is a bit on the tall side for me.

Next up in knitting: I need to make a quick baby sweater, for a shower-lunch thing next Tuesday. I went shopping in my rather substantial stash and didn't come up with anything inspiring. I do have some very light gray wool, which I may dye with kool-aid. It isn't washable, though, and I hate the idea of subjecting someone with a new baby to hand washing. Seems mean. I'll decide before leaving work.

And in the "Have You Lost Your Ever-Lovin' Mind" category:

A Little Intimidated

Yes. Sewing. Never mind that I haven't sewn a dang thing since junior high school Home Ec., or that I have my hands full with the knitting and the weaving and the baking and the cooking and the cleaning. Not to mention the stupid beads. I need something else to do like I need a hole in the head. However, I do have a sewing machine -- bought specifically for the purpose of steeks -- and it does seem like there are certain things that make more sense to make than to buy (e.g. a simple little bag). I resisted for quite a long time before I caved.


But cave, I did. Then I fell for some cute flowers.


And who can resist dots (with the requisite cat hair)? Certainly not I. I blame angry chicken. It is her book after all.

Simple Tote

I got all of the pieces cut out (badly, I'm sure), but it all came crashing down when I couldn't find the manual for the sewing machine to review how to wind a bobbin, which shows just how little experience I have. I downloaded the manual today, so I'm good to go. Or I should be. Now, if I could just download some sanity, I'd be happy.

*I don't really need an excuse to go, but they are hosting Franklin Habit of The Panopticon fame, as part of his 1,000 Knitters project. Yes, I am a sheep (of the stupid follower variety, not of the bad pun type). But I also haven't had a decent picture taken of me since my high school senior pictures, and I am interested in how a professional would do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday List

I have only a little to say about not very much, so a totally random list it is:

1. I continue to be in a very blah mood. Lack of sun? Too much bizarre weather? It's typical of Michigan, but always disconcerting. Depression?

2. Judy is sleeping with us again. She still hasn't forgiven us for taking her to the vet, and we still don't see her otherwise (unless she is running away), but for the last two nights, she has slept on our bed. Weird. We are supposed to take Simon, Gwen and Judy back to the vet this weekend for booster shots, I doubt we'll get Judy back up there.

3. Fred continues to be completely delightful.

Simon and Fred

4. I seem to be on track to finish the Tilted Duster by the end of this weekend. Crazy. Aside from baby sweaters, this is the fastest I've ever knit a sweater.

5. Election rant: I haven't decided whether I am voting in the primary today. The national Democratic party is not seating any delegates from Michigan and all but Clinton and Kucinich pulled their names from the ballot. And I will not vote in the Republican primary, since I dislike all of them equally. I was sick of the election about 3 minutes after it began, which was like 5 years ago. Wake me up when it's over. Seriously. Is there any substance? I have this vague memory that Edwards, Clinton and Obama released health care plans, but that was a long time ago. We get a lot of "I was against the war before you were against the war"/"No, I was" blah blah blah. Has any of them given a realistic answer as to what they would actually do about it? What are the steps any one of them would take to help stabilize the Middle East? Was there ever a time when presidential candidates actually said something? The decision about who will be our next president should be the most important decision I make today, but I can't help but believe that decision will have been made by someone with a great deal more money than I long before I step into a voting booth. Feh.

6. I'm reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. I love it. I haven't seen the movie, I've heard it is very good, but I cannot, for the life of me see how the book could be translated to a movie.

7. That is all. Here is a pretty picture:


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Photographic Evidence of Knitting

I know y'all have been wondering if I'd ever post pictures of knitting again (I kind of doubt that), and here it is, evidence of knitting:

Frost Flowers and Leaves 2

Frost Flowers and Leaves. It doesn't look like much, nor will it until it is blocked, but knitting lace is such a pleasure. The yarn is alpaca lace weight from Henry's Attic, which I bought more than a year ago (I think) with this project in mind.

Puffy Knitting

I can't wait to get it on the circulars. The corners where the double points are ugly (blocking will be my friend, I hope).

Drifting Pleats 2

Drifting Pleats: two sets of pleats have drifted. The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca Silk, in Garnet, I'm using size 4 needles for this.

Pleats Detail

Closeup of the pleats, with bonus cat hair.

Tilted Duster

The Tilted Duster, looking more like a sweater than a green blob. While I don't think I will ever convert to large needle knitting, there is something to be said for starting a sweater and being able to wear it in short order. I'm not there yet, but I don't think this will take more than another couple of weeks.

Genius Marking System

The ribbing part of the pattern has a 9 row repeat (increasing at the sides, decreasing at the front), which is repeated 10 times. Rather than a row counter and marking repeats on the pattern, I decided to attach 10 removable markers to the knitting. When I finish a 9 row repeat, I take one of these markers and attach it to the last row of the repeat.

Markers In Situ

I don't know how, but I'm pretty sure I will manage to screw this up. For now, though, it is working very well, and I haven't gotten lost yet.

Fred Loves Knitting

Gratuitous cat shot: Fred loves knitting.

Monday, January 07, 2008

More this and that

My mood is quite foul. I've been indulging myself, and wallowing in it a bit, but it is getting old and about time to shake myself out.

I have knitting to show off, but haven't taken any pictures (of knitting) recently. I promise to take some tonight. So in photoless knitting news: I've finished two repeats of the Drifting Pleats and continue to be stunned by the genius of this pattern. I'm finding the instant gratification of the Tilted Duster kind of thrilling -- I've finished the back, fronts, and two sleeves. The back and fronts are sewn together and the skirt is picked up and knitted down, I am about 5 inches into the skirt. I've developed a failsafe way to keep track of where I am in the increase/decrease repeats, I'm sure enough of my boneheadedness that I will find a way around that system and screw up. Like I said. Foul mood. I've also started Frost Flowers and Leaves from Gathering of Lace. More on that when I have pictures.

The fifth and final season of The Wire started last night. If you haven't seen this, get a hold of the DVDs and catch up. This is simply the best that television has to offer (link goes to Pajiba review).

A bit more on Fred: she does have her claws, I have scratches to prove it (from a bit of roughhousing, on my part). We fall squarely in the Pro Claw camp, though I certainly can understand why someone might be in the Anti Claw camp (Simon and Gwen destroyed the vinyl upholstery on a chair of Len's, I'm a little afraid to find out how much it will cost to replace). Fred was a character on Angel, a TV show that spun off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Len and I both have huge crushes on Fred, a character who, even though she didn't possess any superhuman strength, could still kick some serious ass. At the end of the series her body was taken over by a sort of god, and she did get superhuman strength, plus blue skin, a form fitting leather outfit, and a serious lack of moral compass. Bless her heart. Yep, we do love us some Fred at our house. Of both varieties.

In order to not leave you completely without pictures, here is one I took on January 1st:

Two Chairs Color

I have a couple of black and white versions on Flickr, but I think I like the color version better. It is now close to 60 degrees outside and all that snow is gone.

Friday, January 04, 2008



Named for Winifred "Fred" Burkle. Yes, we are geeks. Get over it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This and That

I'm back. The best I can say about the holidays is that they are over. The less said the better.

Cats, on the other hand, they are keeping our lives interesting. It's a long story, full of scratches, bites, tears, and recriminations. And that was just Judy. But. Everyone got vaccinated and we got our new baby, What's Her Name (Stella? Clara? ???) and Len did not get an infection from the cat bite.

What's her name?

So cute! She took over the house immediately. Simon started playing with her within a day or so. Gwen. Well, she's been less accepting. She pooped on the bathroom floor several times a day, for several days (and a couple of times in the bedroom). It's been tense, but she's working through her issues. Ha! Judy finally joined us last night, after hiding in the basement for a week, and discovered the newbie. She wasn't amused.

Judy is Annoyed

And our friends, C & A had a baby a week ago. I got to see her on Tuesday, an auspicious beginning to the new year.