Knitting Like A Sailor

Friday, April 22, 2005

Woof

I had a post I'd been working on over a few days, but Blogger burped and *poof* it's gone.
Basically I wanted to say that I've been considering insane projects and I got a dog.

The insane knitting projects?
I've been practicing my lace spinning. Hopefully I'll eventually be able to achieve a consistant gossamer shetland lace weight. Right now I'm able to get gossamer with areas of laceweight. In the meantime, I have a lot of lace yarn floating around. I bought a nice long 0 needle at the lys because they finally had one in and I want to support their stocking lace materials and tools. So I've been swatching some of this lace weight yarn with it. I really like the lightness and drape of the fabric I've been getting, and have had thoughts of a lace weight FI sweater (scroll down to the June 12th entry for a link to the pic) chasing about my head. Of course it wouldn't be a particulary fast project, but I do enjoy knitting with fine needles and fine yarns. I swatched brioche with the 0 and it was beautiful, soft and airy with a glow about it. I switched to 0000 dpn's and swatched stockinette, not as soft and not as airy, but nice and stretchy with an attractive opacity. Reminds me of the sweaters my mom had stored away from when she was a teenager back in the 40's.
I've also been looking at making a pair of socks for the fair this year. I bought a pair of commercial socks that I really love a while ago. Thick soft cotton yarn, slouchy tops, really comfy and they keep my ankle warm at night. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could deconstruct them and reproduce them with some fingering weight knitpicks merino. I gave them the once over today and the cuffs are brioche, short row heel, and i'm not sure about the toe but i think i can do it with kitchner.
I swatched the brioche stitch, some stockinette and a short row heel using their proportion of wraps, and it looks good so far. Some mods I'm thinking about are a tubular cast on, knitting the cuff flat then sewing it up (the brioche sts looked better when done flat than when i tried it in the round) and definately tightening up the gauge on the foot. I might even do the cuff in laceweight and the foot in fingering. Haven't decided yet.

About the dog
Her name is Shaela. At least now it's her name, who knows what it was before. I got her from the sales manager of a new subdivision. she and another dog had been running loose for a few weeks in the area, no one had seen them for a few days, and then shaela showed up at their office alone, begging for attention. Her companion still hasn't been seen.
Best guess would say she's a mastiff X yellow lab with a definate nod to the yellow lab in color and jowl structure. Might be some hound in her too. She's an older dog, in the neighborhood of eight or so. She has beautiful house manners, listens very well, is very good with the children, and has a really laid back personality. She also is huge, and fat. 25 3/4 inches at the shoulder, 46 inches from nose to base of tail, and is well over a hundred pounds. You can't feel a rib on her after three weeks on the road. I have to wonder how fat she was when they decided to dump her. She also has arthritus, but we've been giving her coral calcium and she's moving around much more freely. Tonight she's a bit stiff but we're having a storm and i'm feeling it too.
We're working with her to teach her some leash manners, and to see if she can learn to play in a more acceptable way than the wrestling that she seems used to. tug of war seems to be catching on, and she'll chase a stick and leave it where it lands, but balls have no meaning to her. Same for rawhide chews, she licks and licks them and then goes and buries them in the yard. Silly.
Judging from her behavior, she did not get a lot of extended petting sessions previously, but she's adaptable. she's discovered ear rubs are good and belly rubs make her groan and sigh and roll over on her back all four feet in the air. she seems to have been one of those "go away until I want you" pets. Until they didn't want her any more.
I realize that because she's old, she's a big breed dog, and her physical condition wasn't well maintained that she probably won't live with us for more than a few years. i have no time or interest in a puppy, she fits in with our family like she was made for us, and at the very least she will be loved and appreciated for who she is while she's with us. I tend to look at older animals as very little investment for a huge loving return, even if it's a short term pay off.
off to swallow yet more migraine meds and hit the sack.

Oh! How could I have forgotten to mention, I have a comment! YAY! thanks so much Fidgetybudgie!

Monday, April 11, 2005

swatching around inside my head

I swatched the pattern that wasn't looking right in the border for the shawl mentioned in my previous post, and in the doing of it i realized that I was knitting it improperly. The chart is engineered to start with pointy "arrow" shapes (that's what I call them in my head) then a few rows of zig zags and ends up with a lozenge type motif at the top. I'm picking up stitches from the center of the shawl and knitting outward, and want the lozenges near the center and the points at the edge, so I had been knitting the chart from the top down without thinking about it. It was a crazy mess; the only thing that was recognizable was the arrows. Once I realized what I was doing wrong I played with it a bit and figured out if I go to the first row for each motif and start from there I can place them in the order I'm looking for and it looks fine. The zig zags still need some work but I think that's more of a gauge issue, I was using what fell to hand to swatch and the needles were bigger than I would have wanted for the yarn if it were for real. It was a very satisfying aha moment, and made me feel mucho competent when it worked.

While I was at my therapists office her receptionist and another knitter employee were oohing and ahhing over my swatch in progress. The receptionist mentioned she was thinking of trying her hand at lace so I was trying to explain to her what I was doing and that it was fairly simple, but she kept interrupting me to tell me that it was way more complex than she was capable of. *sigh* no not really. it was reassuring to hear that she's working on a project in size six needles with a non-fruu fruu yarn. It's acrylic but at least it's not a fluffy fizzy broom handle contrivance.

The therapist overhead the conversation and it segued into a discussion of self-worth and esteem, the end result, which was to assign me to knit something for myself.
I've started a lot of projects for myself over the years, but i always seem to set myself up to fail when it comes to my stuff. either it's so simple it's boring (heaven forbid I should make myself something nice, mom killed that instinct quite effectively) it's too much of a waste (i'm not a small person and yarn isn't cheap, i can get much more mileage making something for the kids) or i dither around and come up with ideas that i don't know if they're even possible or i attempt something that has a scary new thing in it and then manage to bugger up the simple parts and rip it because obviously i'll really fuck up the scary new thing, thus reassuring myself that nice things aren't for a fat stupid failure like me.
Strangely enough, I really want to do this. I guess I'm sick of being intimidated, self-depreciating and scared of things I want. I mean, it's yarn for crying out loud. if it's a big mess i know how to rip, so what's the big deal? dunno yet, but i'm going to do it and see what demons crop up on the way.

Ya know, I lied. I've actually made something for myself. I made myself socks out of a tequila sunrise colored bfl handspun sport weight that I dyed with wilton's food coloring. I still have a leftover ball of it. I wore them for oh, half an hour, and took them off to go shower. I came out and they were on Loverboys feet. He thanked me profusely for making such warm and snuggly socks, and batted his big baby blues at me until I sighed and said he could have them. I also presented him with a hand-spun hand knit bfl/llama blend scarf that winter too. Bfl (wool from blue faced leicester breed sheep for the non fiberholics reading) makes an amazingly soft, thick, cozy felt when washed in the washing machine. I cut the tops off the socks and the three year old wore the feet as slippers this winter, the cuffs worked as pajama leg extenders for the two year old, and I sewed the much shrunken felted scarf into a purse and gave it to a friend in Georgia when we moved. Loverboy's learned to sort his laundry even when he's in a big hurry, but that didn't prevent me from quietly frogging the sweater i was making him.

anyway, current projects are swatching and figuring what i want to do for the shawl, and figuring out what I want to do for me. I thought briefly about making jackie e-s's all over lace Faeroese shawl, a pattern that I love and have cast on for twice, but i think two lace projects at once would be counter productive. Socks aren't enough of a commitment, esp since i know i would blow off the second one. a sweater really seems the best bet, i just need to wrap my mind around the novel concept.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I think it's back now

I see it's been nearly three months or so since I've updated. Man, Im almost feeling guilty here. Hopefully you'll understand (other than the problems I've had with Blogger) why it's been so long.

Health
We had viruii that we passed from one to another for about two months. Finally got shed of that just in time for allergies. yay.
Three weeks ago I turned my weak ankle and pulled a couple of muscles so it's been difficult for me to get down to the computer, and uncomfortable to stay on it for any length because I can't keep my foot up.

School
Went and signed myself up for college again. I'm going to a local tech school. Waded through and have most of my financial aid done, one loan left to apply for to use for supplies and a new computer, I'm thinking laptop. the amount of time I spend on the road waiting for the kids, Loverboy, or whoever would be better spent studying than my usual reading/knitting/staring off into space. which segues into

Computer
The computer I have now isn't a bad puter, and it's fairly new (in my opinion anything that costs as much as a computer stays new until it's dead LOL) but updating the hardware for it is starting to be tricky and it's about maxed out on the memory front. Plus, the a drive, while still installed and functioning enough to register and allow the computer to run, thoughtfully grinds to powder any disk inserted into it before it tries to read it or write to it. I consider it the ultimate in security. I tried to salvage the a drive and the burner from Loverboy's defunct puter but it won't recognize the a drive (damned proprietary programming, and no it's not worth the money to me to buy one from the manufacturer that it will recognize considering they want ten times what it's worth) and the burner requires software that he no longer has and can't be tracked down online.
Unfortunately mine is the only operational computer in the house, and Loverboy is also going back to school. In my mind's eye I have this vision of us working as a team, scheduling our time on the computer, respecting each others needs, all that sweet stuff that I know will never happen. Most likely it will be more like tapping toes and watched clocks, rushing over to jump on the computer when the other turns around to reach for a drink, and other vulture like behavior.
I'm also going to be stockpiling and stashing paper, printer cartridges, and other office supplies. Loverboy has no restraint when it comes to printed materials and the means to make them.

Knitting
Finished the Snowdrop shawl, and gave it to the recipiant. I'll see if I can get a picture of it sometime.
I really liked the making of it, although purling alternate rows was very tedious. Really tedious. Force-myself-to-work-on-it-because-of-the-boring-purl-rows type tedious. I knew not all lace has the plain return rows, so I dug up my copy of Hazel Carters lace book and paged through it. Things that looked incredibly complicated and very difficult suddenly looked quite doable. Hmmmm. I have a friend who is pregnant with her last baby, due in October, wouldn't a cute little shawl be sweet? I spun some samples in cormo and delaine merino, decided I liked the merino, only once it was spun i don't have enough of it to do an entire shawl. While digging through the rest of my stash to see what I might have that's soft and fine, I ran across a ball of handspun that a friend in OZ sent me. I believe it's perendale, it's spun very fine and she won first place with it at a fair. It looks and feels quite like shetland lace yarn. A while back I dyed it with blue, pink and green, and it came out a lovely periwinkle with slight green-purple variegation. Lianna loves blue, so I did a really quick swatch, ripped it (i only have so much yarn and I know that it won't be enough to do the medallion, the border and the edging) and started in on it. I'm using a variation of shetland twins for the medallion, an unnamed border that I got out of the lace sampler book (number 90 for those who have it), and planning on an edging from the hazel carter book. I'm about halfway through the border now, but I think I'm going to rip it all out. It's just not coming together like I'd hoped. It's really difficult to see the pattern in the border, even when I block it out. I think it needs a tighter gauge to pop. I'm also not pleased with the corners. I'm using a yo k1 yo increase in each corner except one, that one has a yo k2 yo so I can wrap one of the k sts and reverse direction, something I based on a tip I read about here . It looks fine, but I think I'd prefer to k2 in each corner, to make it look more alike. Last, but not least, Loverboy pointed out to me that the toddlers don't care for the feel of it when they sit in my lap while I'm knitting on it, and that he thinks it might not be the best choice for a newborn if i want it to be a shawl that gets use instead of being stored.
I was kind of hoping that this would be something Lianna and the baby would use for nursing, and maybe something that the baby would wear (or the baby's spouse would wear) on their wedding day. So, I'm thinking. Right now I'm spinning some superwash into a sport weight yarn to make a layette for the baby, once that's done I'll probably dig out the cormo and start anew on the shawl.
UPDATE
I took a break from typing the post to look at the shawl again, then put it aside and fixed supper. The littlest wee one heard me talking to Loverboy about ripping the shawl and went ahead and started on the deed for me while i was cooking supper. *sigh* So now it's wound back in a ball and waiting.
Okay, off to pop the babies in bed and contemplate what to do about the shawl and how to do it.