Monday, November 05, 2007

Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our family

Shawl_Finished5Last spring I made the decision to give up this blog. I thought I would time my departure to coincide with either the public opening of Raverly or the completion of Morrigan—which ever came last. Well, both took longer than I imagined they would. I don’t want to wait around for Raverly to open up at this point. And ending the blog with Morrigan is a ending on a great high note. (Considering this blog began about the time I started work on the Reversible Rib Shawl, it’s only fitting that I should end with a similarly beautiful piece.)

RachelAndMe.jpgI have had this blog for nearly three years now and I love some parts of being a blogger. For example, I love the way that my blog has connected me with people from around the world. I have “met” many other bloggers who I consider my friends even though I haven’t actually seen them in person. And some of my old friends have re-connected with me after finding my blog. I also loved receiving comments. I truly appreciate every comment that I have gotten on this blog. So a big “Thank you!” to everyone who has ever left a comment here (except for the spammers, I’m not thanking the spammers).

But what I didn’t like about keeping a blog was the pressure. All bloggers are under pressure to produce: “Be witty!” “Be informative!” “Be consistent!” “Be interesting!” As a blogger, I know that to maintain readership, I have to give in to those pressures.

ScoutDragonOf course, the pressures have a different level for me as a knit blogger. I have chosen to include very little about my personal life on this blog. So in order for me to have blog material, I have to KNIT something. For the first 2.5 years of this blog’s life, I happily produced knitted object after knitted object for my enjoyment and as well as for blog fodder. But things have changed. Thanks to repetitive stress injury in my left hand, I can’t knit as much as I used to. The injury is making knitting less enjoyable and the added pressure of the blog makes knitting more of a chore these days. So I’m slowing down on the knitting, and giving up this blog.

But I am not giving up knitting OR blogging completely! If you want to keep up with what’s going on in my knitting life, you have several options.

Raverly, for those of you who are Ravelry enabled. (My Ravelry name is MiniLaura):


And a new blog:

ScoutReidThe House of Wool Repute is my new online home. It is a group blog and the “group” factor will hopefully reduce the pressures on me. The wonderful women contributing to the blog are all knitters, but most of the others dabble in other crafts. You can expect to see knitting, spinning, and dyeing on a regular basis and there will probably be many cute animal photos (Scout!) and some foodie talk. Please come visit us! We’re just getting started up, so please stay tuned! It should be fun and entertaining to read.

Oh, and I’m not going to delete this blog. I’ll leave it up and I will answer any questions that you have, so feel free to email me or leave a comment!

And with that, dear friends, I am signing off. Thank you so much for reading and for coming into my life!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Peace Breaks Out

Morrigan1_color correct2.jpg
(A more accurate representation of the color can be found here.)

A peace treaty in the War of Morrigan was signed on Saturday October 13, 2007. The war lasted about 6 months. Battle was difficult because Morrigan fought dirty with chart errors, non-errors, and ambiguities (discussed below). My battle plan was further complicated by row-gauge issues that I never discussed in this blog. Those gauge issues resulted in much math. In the end, I was victorious having knit, purled, cabled, and calculated the pattern into submission.

cabley1.JPGThe war was not without injuries, though. The tendonitis in my left hand has gotten significantly worse since I started Morrigan. It progressed from occasional stabs of pain in the back of my left hand to shooting, long-lasting, whimpering-inducing pain in my hand and forearm. It was particularly bad during the last few days of knitting when I was feverishly trying to finish.

At times, I completely abandoned my fight, preferring to work on projects that either used larger needles, consumed less yarn, or required less mental effort. In the time between cast-on and finishing of Morrigan I finished:

1 vest for Peter (started before I cast on for Morrigan)
2 baby-sized super secret projects for Kristen
1 adult-sized super secret project for Kristen (not blogged or even photographed)
1 pair of adult socks
1 lace shawl
1 crocheted cap
1 baby sweater and hat set
1 bunny
1 mouse
1 bear
1 sweater for me

The Stats:
Pattern: Morrigan by Jenna Wilson in No Sheep for You, size small
Yarn: Rowan Calmer, 75% cotton, 25% microfiber, color 462 Chiffon, 11 balls
Needles: 2.75 mm and 3.25 mm (US sizes 2 and 3)

Modification 1: I changed the depth of the armholes because my row gauge was too large. The wonky row gauge meant that my sleeve cap would be taller than it should be. I couldn’t modify the sleeve cap, so I had to modify the armhole. (Why I couldn’t modify the sleeve cap and how I calculated the correct depth of the armholes is a long story. Email me for the gory details.)

sleeve length.JPGModification 2: I lengthened the sleeves by 4 cm. When my arms hang down at my sides, the cuffs cover the base of my hand. But when I stick my arms out straight, the cuffs end perfectly at my wrist. That’s the way that I like my sleeves.

I’ve already made a lot of comments about this pattern. Why not add a couple more?

1) Forgive me Amy Singer for what I’m about to say. If I could wave a magic wand, I would change the yarn in this sweater into fingering- or sport-weight 100% merino wool. I think the pattern would have been easier to work in wool and I think the end result would look nicer in wool. Calmer is a wonderful yarn, but I think I’ll stick with wooly cables from now on.

(Notice I said, “If I could wave a magic wand.” I didn’t say, “If I knit this again” or “If I could do it all over.” As wonderful as this sweater is, I will never, ever knit it again.)

cabley2.JPG2) And a final word about the pattern. The instructions for the sleeve bind-off is a bit ambiguous. You work four short rows and then the instructions say to bind off all stitches loosely. Well, when you finish the short rows, a little more than half of the live stitches are on the left needle and a little less than half of the live stitches are on the right needle. You can’t just bind off the stitches.

I worked across the stitches on the left needle (hiding the wraps on those stitches), turned the work to the wrong side, and bound off all the stitches (hiding the remaining wraps). I emailed Jenna to confirm that that was what I should do she said that it was just one of three alternatives.
Alternative 2: Break yarn after the short rows, put all stitches on the left needle, join a new yarn at the beginning of the right-side row and bind off all the stitches. This alternative would work fine, but you would have more ends to weave.

WithScout.JPGAlternative 3: After the short rows, place all stitches on a piece of waste yarn, and GRAFT (not sew, graft) the live stitches to the shoulder seam. This, in fact, was what Jenna intended but it was changed to a bind-off by the book editors. I did attempt this, but after grafting ¼ of the stitches on the first sleeve, I decided it was too aggravating for the raw and harried state of my nerves.

Parting words of thanks:
A big THANK YOU to Jenna Wilson for all her help with Morrigan. I sent her many emails and she always answered in a gracious and timely manner even though most of my emails were pointing out problems with the pattern.

Thank you also to Karen Frisa, the tech editor of the pattern, for her willingness to comb over the intricacies of the pattern with me.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has cheered me on through this long journey. Your words of encouragement helped motivated me to keep pushing on.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Aperture and Depth of Field

Teaser Trailer:
Coming tomorrow (assuming the weather cooperates for the photos): The end of the Morrigan Saga. Yes, she's finished.

Featured Presentation:
This week's lesson: Use aperture to change the depth of field on photos.

Assignment 1: Use a large aperture to isolate a subject by making the background blurry. I'm thinking about trying some Scout photos, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I did head to the garden center to try some flower photos. The one shown below is my favorite, though it may not be the best of the bunch. The rest can be seen on my Flickr page.


Assignment 2: Use a small aperture to show a large (deep? long?) depth of field. The class instructor said to have something "interesting" in the foreground but also have things in focus in the background. I thought the alligator below would make a good photo, but was a bit disappointed when I went for the photo shoot.


I couldn't really get a good angle on the alligator. I couldn't move to the left because there was a large utility box there. If I went to the other side of the utility box, the background became less interesting and the huge Starbucks logo became visible.

If the weather cooperates tomorrow, I'll head out to a sculpture garden. I should have gone there in the first place, but I remembered that it existed only today. And it's raining today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Picture Worth . . .

. . . much more than 1,000 words.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Playing with Shutter Speed, Week 2

This week's assignment was to use long shutter speeds in night photography. We didn't have any other specific instructions. So I decided to do one "traditional" shot and one showing moving lights.

On the way home for class last week, I spotted the fantastic neon sign shown below. I went to the restaurant three times to take photos. (The sign wasn't fully lit up the first night that I went out.) Thankfully, no one came out of the restaurant and told me that I couldn't take photos.


For the second photo, I wanted to get Houston's downtown skyline in the background with streaks of light from car headlights and taillights in the foreground. The challenge was finding a place to take the photo. I knew I had to find a bridge close to downtown that had a sidewalk large enough to set up a tripod and didn't have an obstructed view. Unfortunately, I don't know the roads around downtown very well because I don't like to drive there. But fortunately, I found this photo on Flickr and was able to blatantly rip it off. Here's another version where I got more headlight streaks than taillight streaks. The headlights are a bit too blown out.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

More Morrigan Errors

Another quickie, photoless post.

Morrigan is in the home stretch. I've finished the sleeve increases and am working toward the sleeve cap.

I found two more errors in the pattern.

1) After completing the sleeve increases, the pattern says to repeat rows 19–24 or 7–12 (depending on size) of charts R3 and L3 until the sleeve is the right length. You should repeat rows 17–24 or 5–12 to keep the pattern correct.

2) Row 23 of chart L3 is missing a cable crossing. The position and type of the cable crossing should be obvious to anyone who has gotten that far on the sleeve.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A yarn for all the Eph knitters out there

Most knitters know Webs--the huge yarn store and mail-order wearhouse near that other college. Webs has its own yarn line called Valley Yarns. The names of Valley Yarns are taken from towns and cities in Massachusetts. For some time now I've been pouting because there wasn't a yarn named after Williamstown. Pouting time is over. This is how Webs describes the new yarn:
Williamstown takes it’s name from the college town in the Berkshires that tourists and natives love for the quaintness of its buildings and greenery, and the happy surprise of the sophistication that is found in those buildings. Our yarn is much the same, a seemingly straightforward wool/acrylic blend with little surprises of color in each strand. Take it with you for vacation knitting as you tour colleges or go leaf-peeping.
As soon as I find a pattern to make with this yarn I'm buying a bunch. Sadly, none of the yarns are very purple.