Saturday, July 29, 2006

I thought I said that I was busy!

Three posts in three days? How did I ever find the time? I have a lot to cover today so grab a beverage of your choice and get comfortable. Or simply skip reading this altogether if I’m boring you.

Topic 1: Thanks
Look! A toy!Thank you all for your support and words of encouragement on my “help me!” post. I managed to finish all my expected work by Thursday afternoon and put out a small fire on Friday morning. So, I’m almost completely ready for our trip. I even have my knitting on my TSA approved knitting needles and a print out of the TSA rules just in case I have to convince a TSA employee that my needles are not weapons.

Peter also thanks you for all the good wishes that you sent. The bar exam is over and Peter feels confident in his performance on the test. Of course, I was not worried--this is the guy who got the second highest score in the nation on the CPA exam a few years ago.

And to those of you who got to my blog by googling “bar exam Alaska,” no one here took the Alaska bar exam. And even if I had, I wouldn’t be blogging about it.

Topic 2: More Thanks
Thank you also for your kind words about my Go With the Flow tank. I’ve worn it a lot and it’s very comfortable. I know that I knit it quickly, but I wasn’t knitting anything else during that time. And I realized that I wouldn’t be able to knit the tank while I was in Alaska because it was knit on non-TSA-approved needles. So, I wanted to finish it before we left. And heck, it’s mostly stockinette.

For those of you who asked about the shoulder seams, I’m planning to prepare something about it just for you!

Tara, cabling with this cotton did not hurt my hands. The yarn is so fine and the cables are so small that the cabling process did not seem much different from cabling with wool. However, Cotton Fine is very splitty and cabling with out a cable needle required extra care.

Topic 3: Flower
Here’s a flower for Helen. She’s getting married and wants to have a knitted flower bouquet--isn’t that a nifty idea? Helen has recruited fellow Knittyheads to help her with the flowers. She picked the Lilies pattern from Knitty for her flowers.

The flower is cute, but I found knitting it a bit fiddly. The pattern is clever, but the short rows were not fun for me. At least it knits up quickly. I have enough yarn for at least one more flower.

Topic 4: Bye!
We’re leaving for Alaska tomorrow! We will be gone for a week and a half. I’m not sure how much email access I will have during that time because I refuse to take my laptop on the trip. I want to be blissfully unconnected during my vacation. So, instead I’m looking forward to being buried under emails and unread blog entries when I come back!

While I’m gone, Monkee will be leaving the Houston area to begin her higher education in Dallas. I leave it to all of you to tease her mercilessly keep an eye on her for me. Make sure that she packs a toothbrush.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Amazing Lace Challenge #5: Where's Waldo

For the Amazing Lace Challenge #5: Two lace projects are hiding in this photo. Can you find them?

I love my car!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Look Valerie! It's Finished!

Just last week I was showing you a cone of yarn. This week I show you a finished tank top. Oh, I had planned on blogging in between of these two posts. I had the entry planned, photos taken, rough outline in my head…then I got busy and that particular blog topic never happened. And it probably won’t happen until I get back from my trip. It will be an odd post in which I talk about the yarn and the knitting of a tank that’s already finished. (That’s assuming that I still think it’s a good entry.)
In the pink, again
Please excuse crappy indoor photo. My photographer is taking the bar exam and the sun refuses to come out.

Pattern: Go With the Flow tank from Inspired Cable Knits, second size
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fine in Pink-a-boo (part of 1 cone) 80% pima cotton 20% merino wool
Needles: 2.5 mm (labeled US 1 by Addi, which is incorrect. US 1 is 2.25 mm)
Cat: Scout taking a bath
Modifications and Notes:

1) Knit in mini knit along with Valerie. She’s making a pretty red one--go look! This also counts as an Amazing Lace project because of the lace at the bottom.

2) After following the Salt Peanuts pattern to a T, I needed a bit of a challenge. I decided, contrary to my normal beliefs, to convert the pattern to be knit in the round. This really is a big step for me because (a) I love seaming and (b) I believe that seams give sweaters structure. I decided to deviate from my hard-headed beliefs because this tank is knit out of such fine yarn that I didn’t think the sweater would need the seams to give it structure.

it's fake!3) But of course, I couldn’t simply knit the thing in the round—oh no! I decided to try a new trick. I put in phony seams ala Elizabeth Zimmermann. Yes, I am “the absolute boss” of my knitting! I was going to take photos of me actually making the phony seam as part of the planned entry, but when seam time came, I didn’t want to stop. I’m quite pleased with the seam--it's subtle but it makes me feel so much better about not doing a real seam (since I am still quite hard-headed about seams)

4) And of course, short row shoulder shaping and 3-needle bind-off. I think everyone should do short-row shoulder shaping even if they don’t do a 3-needle bind-off. It just looks so much better: no stair steps, no odd looking rows--just perfect!

5) I made the tank with even ease because it’s mostly cotton and I expect it to get a bit baggy with wear. I’m happy with the way it fits around me but…

6) I feel kinda chesty in it. The problem (for me) is a result of the way the armholes are shaped. The armholes cut fairly far to the center. I think 20 sts were decreased on each side--that's a lot even in fingering weight yarn. Having the “straps” set-in and narrow make my shoulders look broader, which makes me look wider. I guess I’ll have to remember that I prefer my tanks to have wider-set straps.

7) Interesting construction note: the larger sizes add length in the bottom border rather than in the cabled part.

Random close ups

Monday, July 24, 2006

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

No wait! They aren't pack and I'm not ready.

Peter and I are leaving for Alaska this weekend.

I have a mile long list of things to do for the trip, including getting the house and the cats ready for the house/cat sitter.

I have to finish all the work that is due in the next two and a half weeks.

Peter is taking the Bar Exam this week. (That's the test used to make sure people are competent enough to be a lawyer.)


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

Ice cream is an important member of the dairy food groupThe day after the Yarn Focus Challenge came to an end I gave in to my yarn buying needs. I rolled out of bed on July 1st, went to the computer, and ordered a cone of Brown Sheep Cotton Fine with which I intended to make the Go With the Flow Tank from Inspired Cable Knits. Then, I sat back and started dreaming of its arrival.

While waiting, I was struck with a great idea for a blog entry about my lovely cone of yarn-to-be. I would compare my mountain of yarn with the mountain of ice cream that was in my freezer. I even had puns ready about ice cream cones and yarn cones. (By the way, I don't normally have that much ice cream around. There was a sale. Then, there was a coupon and the sale was still on. Then, another coupon and sale. Ben and Jerry's for $1.50 and $1.13 per pint is not something to pass up! I somehow managed to buy 12 pints of ice cream in a week and a half. Yes, I know that there are only 10 pints in the photos. You know where the other two went.)

I'm a giant, says ScoutMy yarn finally arrived on Friday. I had seen cones of laceweight yarn before and they looked mighty huge to me, so I imagined that a cone of fingering weight yarn (oh so much heavier than laceweight!) would be ENORMOUS. Hence, the planned comparison to the mountain of ice cream. I ripped open the package and . . . huh? . . . what's this? . . . is this enough yarn? It's puny! Even runty Scout towers over the cone!

Now, I normally don't panic about whether I have enough yarn for a project as I always buy extra. But just two days before I got my yarn, Valerie, who is also knitting the same tank top, started getting nervous about whether SHE had enough yarn. True, Valerie is using a different yarn and knitting a different size, but she had planted the seed in my head that perhaps the yardage in the book was underestimated. So upon seeing the cone I immediately jumped into panic mode. Luckily Ana was there to assure me that cones of Cotton Fine weren't that big but they did have 1,000 yards. (Later I realized that the size I planned to make required only 800 yards and that I had much more yarn than I needed, so all panic went away.)

I've started knitting the tank. The yarn is great. Knitting off a cone is great. But did you know that fingering weight yarn is thin? Perhaps I am insane after all.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lacey and Owie

Thank you for you kind words on Salt Peanuts! As promised, some close up photos of the lace ribs in the sweater.

mmm Red!First, the bottom ribbing plus some stockinette to show the colors of the yarn. I am thrilled with the way the yarn knit up. The subtle shifts from pink to red give the sweater an interesting look and texture. Many people commented that this color looks good on me and Christina even said that I should wear red more often. Well, I do wear red quite a bit, but I don't seem to knit with red very often. Why not? Two reasons. First, I like to knit cables, and I feel that cables pop more when knit in light colored yarn. Hence, my obvious preference for pink yarn. Second, I'm very picky about reds. I dislike reds that have an orange tone to them or reds that are dull looking. Very few yarns come in a red shade that I like, but they almost always come in a pink or a purple that I find acceptable. So, no red yarn is bought!

This is the collar on Salt Peanuts. The collar shaping is ingenious. The collar is knit at the same time as the fronts and short rows are used to give it curves. The lace rib pattern is also reversed when the collar is worked so that it will show correctly when the collar is turned out. Of course, working the collar, the neck shaping, and the armhole shaping all at the same time made knitting the fronts quite exciting. I actually used tick marks to keep track of where I was. (Normally, I just remember what I'm doing or use a row counter and mental math to keep my place, but this time I was nervous about getting lost.) If you're thinking about this sweater, make sure you aren't disturbed while working this section!

Last week I decided that I would start riding my bike in preparation for my hiking/biking/rafting/dog-sledding trip to Alaska next month. I've been training indoors, but the nice, wide, cushy seats of the recumbent stationary bikes in the gym don't numb ones tush like a real bike seat does. So, I felt that I needed to get my tush in shape so that it doesn't rebel in Alaska. I strapped on my GPS watch, jumped on my bike, and started riding around my neighborhood. After about 7 miles with no tush numbing and no heat exhaustion. I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, a car passed me. I looked up at the car as it went by and then look down at the road again just in time to see my front tire hit a rut. Yes, I wiped out. So much for feeling confident. A woman walking her dog rushed up to me and said, "That was my neighbor's car that went by! I know she's a bad driver, but I hope she didn't hit you!" It seems funny now, but at the time I was too concerned about find a way to stop my knee from bleeding.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Salt Peanuts

It's my come-hither look

Pattern: Salt Peanuts by Veronik Avery, Interweave Knits Spring 2004 (also available as a PDF online to IK subscribers), second size
Yarn: Malabrigo in Vermillion (100% merino wool), 5 hanks
Needles: US size 9
1) Another 2-week sweater for me! All that stockinette made the knitting fly by. Grace was my other 2-week sweater. I love this sweater as much as I love Grace. And I predict that this sweater will pill just as much as Grace does! Such is the fate of merino wool.

2) I LOVE the shaping of this sweater. It doesn't make me look like a frumpy log. The non-batwings sleeves help, too.

3) At first I thought that I was going to have problems making the collar lie flat. Elizabeth said that she had to tack the collar of her sweater down, so I knew that was an option, but I didn't really want to do it. So once I assembled the sweater, I arranged the collar and steam-blocked the heck out of it. To do this, I cover the entire collar with a damp cloth and held a hot iron on the cloth so that the iron was barely touching the cloth. I did not press down at all. Just enough contact to cause the cloth to steam. Now the collar lies flat without any additional help.

4) I think adding more short rows in the collar would have helped the collar lie flat. But it's not something that you can predict until you put the sweater together. If I were being anal, I would have ripped the fronts to add at least two more sets of short rows to each short-row section. But I decided not to be that anal...this time.

5) Yes it's an indoor photo. I'm not so dedicated to this blog to take a photo of a 100% wool sweater in 95ºF weather.

(Sorry no close ups at this time. The batteries in my camera died. I'll add more photos later. the lace-rib pattern is quite nice!)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Knitting First, Icky Afterward

On Knitting
Smokey asked:
On a recent Chicago trip I bought some malabrigo for a turtleneck I'm planning. I would love some feedback from somebody (such as yourself!) who has knit a sweater with it. Are you alternating skeins of the yarn every couple of rows? The skeins I bought are sufficiently different that I think I'll get a stripe-y look if I don't. I would love to hear how you're handling this pressing issue of knitting!

I am not alternating balls of yarn in my Malabrigo sweater. When I bought the yarn, I tried to pick hanks that were closest in color, but some color variations still exist. The dominant red color is the same throughout, but ratio of pinkish-red and orangy-red varies from hank to hank. However, the color variations that I saw in the hanks (where the colors are all grouped together) are much less obvious when knit up (and the colors are dispersed).

I did consider alternating balls every two rows to even out the color variations, but when it came time to knit, I decided to live with the color variations. As a result, some parts are pinker and some parts are oranger. However, I don't think it will be terribly obvious to the casual observer because no distinct line exists when a new ball is added. The color variations help camouflage the line.

Also, the hanks of yarn are HUGE--215 yards, I think. That means that you can get a lot of fabric from one hank. I had to add a new ball only once when knitting the largest piece of the sweater (the back). So you wouldn't have to worry about several different shades appearing in any single part of a sweater--it wouldn't appear "striped" at all.

So my advice to you Smokey, is to knit up a swatch half and half with yarn from the two hanks that you think are most different in color. Hand the swatch to a neutral party and ask them what they think. If they can see a color change with no prompting, then perhaps alternating balls will be necessary. If they can't see a color change, knit away with one ball. If you're still nervous about doing this, pair up the hanks by color and use "matching" hanks when knitting any particular piece.

On Icky
Monkee, that odd knitter that I know, is celebrating her 2nd blogaversary with an odd contest. A two part-er, no less. One part is not icky but the other part is. But I'm doing the icky part because I don't think Monkee expected me to do it!

Take a picture of some food that you believe is disgusting, barf-o-licious, or flat out nasty but will willingly eat anyway. If it is particularly disgusting, no need to actually show you eating it. I’ll take your word for it that it’s edible.

Don't tell me that it's not safe to eat!Corned Beef Hash--raw. Corned beef hash may not be icky to everyone, but it's very icky to me because I hate beef. I won't eat the finest cut of steak. I think steak is icky. But I will, on rare occasions, eat raw corned beef hash because it's something that my father eats and eating it reminds me of him and of home. But it's gross. And raw. (When I bought this can for the photo I decided to read the label to see if it was okay to eat raw. The label didn't say anything about serving it raw. The ingredients say "beef and cooked corned beef." Does that mean that the beef is not cooked? I don't want to know. Do not leave a comment telling me that the beef is raw. Thank you.)

Scout seems to think that the corned beef hash is her food.

Feed Me!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

WIP it up

A certain reader complained that I didn't show any in-progress photos of my last two FOs so this post is specially for her.

I have two new projects on the needles. I started both of the last week after finishing the Tiger, so they are still in their "infancies" as far as WIP go.

First up: Salt Peanuts using the lovely Malabrigo that I bought from Yarntopia. Salt Peanuts (for those two knitters out there who don't know) is a pattern that was published in Interweave Knits a few years ago and is now available for free online for IK subscribers.

Red Hot Peanuts

I finished the back and the fronts and have cast on for the sleeves. It is knitting up wonderfully fast (yes I did all this in one week) and is looking great. I picked this pattern because I wanted a pattern that was mostly stockinette to show of the yarn, but I didn't want to do anything boring either. The funky collar shaping kept me happily entertained. I'm looking forward to finishing by next week.

Second: Shaped Triangle Shawl

Purply Pink lace

According to my spreadsheet, I am exactly 4.96% of the way through this shawl. (Don't you love spreadsheets? I have knit 3,424 stitches so far. No, I don't look at my spreadsheet after finishing every row.) Quite different from my progress on the sweater. However, I don't intend on knitting on this very much until August. My big Alaska trip is at the beginning of August and this shawl is my travel knitting. I don't want to get too far into it before then so that I won't be working on insanely long rows and won't have a huge shawl to tote around.

Is the shawl working with the handpainted yarn? I don't know. I'm reserving judgment until after the thing is blocked. I do love the colors a lot and I enjoy having the colors change as I knit, but I'm not sure that it will all work out in the end.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happiness is...

...a thoughtful gift
A couple of month ago, when I was wasting time in the Knitty chatroom, Monkee showed off a map from this website. I don't remember which map she showed, but it was probably a map of some place in Texas. I started poking around on the website and found this map and immediately declared that I wanted it. I wasn't kidding either. I really did want the map. I even bookmarked the page so that I could order it at a later time.

Imagine my shock and delight when Monkee and MonkeeMom gave me this as my birthday present:
The Mountains, the mountains, we greet them with a song!

Not yet the Science QuadHonestly, I was speechless. I immediately looked for some of my favorite buildings on campus. First, I found Dodd, my old dorm--still the Williams Inn at this point, of course. Then, I started searching for my home-away-from-dorm (Thomson Chemistry Lab) and found that it wasn't there! In the photo at right you can see the future home of the Science Quad. West College and Morgan are both clearly visible, but none of the other buildings are there. What's more, a strange building labeled "Kellogg Hall" (at the end of the pencil) is in the Quad. I was also surprised to find no trace of the Freshman Quad (is it called the First Year Quad now?). I guess I had thought that Williams and the Thompson buildings were older than Morgan. Now I know that I'm wrong.

Not the church I knowSince receiving this wonderful gift, I have been comparing the 1889 map with the current map of the college. I sort of wish that I had my old 1988 map of the campus so that I could see how much had changed since my residence in Williamstown. Some interesting things I discovered: The Congregation Church (at right) looked very different from the beautiful church that I admired every day, large building called "The Graylock" is located at the future site of the Graylock Quad, and Mark Hopkins lived in an area near Mission Park--not in the current President's house. Also, the mountain that I know as Pine Cobble seems to be labeled Smedley's Height. Or maybe I'm not looking at the map properly and Pine Cobble is Hudson's Height. Either way, it has the wrong name.

This map will be displayed in a place of honor. I adore it.

...goofy Japanese stuff
Not long ago, I stumbled upon JRS's blog while surfing around the internet. It was a case of good timing because the day that I found the blog was the same day that she was running a contest. The prize of that contest--goofy Japanese stuff. Now, everyone needs a little goofy Japanese stuff in their life, so I entered the contest. (How could I possibly survive without goofy Japanese stuff?) Apparently nearly everyone who entered the contest got the answer correct, so JRS decided to send all of us goofy Japanese stuff. That's the way to spread the love. Here is my little haul:
Japanese have a monopoly on goofy stuff
A Hello Kitty drawstring bag, Hello Kitty pasta (yes pasta!), chopsticks with lucky cats on them, socks with some strange rorschach test design, and--my favorite--a sushi eraser. The back of the pasta bag has some strange recipe on it. I think it says: (1) boil water (2) cook pasta (3) cover with soy sauce. Now that I have goofy Japanese stuff, my life is complete! Thanks so much JRS!