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July 30, 2005

Only when pushed!

I've got nothing to knit. La da di da da! Nothing to knit, only stuff to steek. Steeking requires a bit of thinking and concentration, and a full-day commitment. Looking at my calendar, steeking might happen the weekend of August 13/14, and probably not earlier. Just lettin' you know that there will be no sewing and cutting excitement before then ;).

Well, there are Paula's socks to knit, but I can't post about them :\.

When I went to Claudia's last weekend, it was a great push to get finished on the Adrienne Vittadini sweater - I had nothing to knit, and I had to bring something with me. The AV sweater had to come out of its jail.

Friday night I was faced with a similar dilemma knowing that on Saturday I would meet up with Colleen and Paula, and I had nothing to knit! The apricot Shine won't be here for some time (to knit this), and Paula's socks are out of the question.

I've seen some cutie-pie wrap sweaters out there. Ms. Bestitched made one, and is currently working on another. Colleen made a sleeveless one - hello, pretty! Rachael made Michelle has been scheming matching mother-and-daughter wraps out of Noro.

Inspiration. It's a great thing.

I never thought myself a wrap kind of girl. It's the girls up top, they can't seem to fit in or they are cut halfway by the wrap, and it's just generally unsightly. But I never thought myself a cardigan girl, until I sat down and figured out a way to make one that fits. That's the beauty of knitting for oneself! So, I put on an old, ill-fitting cardigan, started folding down this end and that one, putting pins here and there, measuring this thing and that, and I have an idea about how to make a wrap that actually fits me. Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

I'll call this pattern "my own", just because I'm writing it from scratch and not using anything as even a template, but, you know, there are a ton of wraps out there, so it's just a pattern that's already out there, highly modified and not really followed ;). Not much different from the way I typically knit, where eventually the pattern I'm "following" just gets in the way and I don't leave a single thing the same.

By the way, I've decided that this type of sweater (at least the way I plan to wear it - tight) doesn't need any waist shaping. Perhaps I'll regret this decision later.

Why thoughts of a wrap, all of a sudden? Well, I have a ton of this stuff:


The color is not true in either picture - it's not quite that magenta, nor that brown. It is ONline Linie 76 Cup, 52% schurwolle, 48% polyacryl which I got from elann a long while ago. I bought it for a hooded pullover, but sort of, eh, don't love that idea any more. It's chunky, and I can't imagine wearing a full hooded pullover made out of this stuff, I would just combust. But a wrap... that's an idea! I literally have a ton as far as yarn is concerned, 14 balls. And this stuff takes up space! Destash time!

Interestingly, Alison is behind all of this. The yarn went on sale at elann and I just loved it at first sight! The color, the texture, everything! I was so hesitant to buy it sight unseen, but then, just in the nick of time, I read some lovely comments Alison made about this very yarn!

The label is really amusing. I highlight the amusing parts: 7,0 - 8,0 mm (equivalent to something like US 10 3/4 - 11). 13 M (stitches). Bwahahaha! Not in this household! So I knit up a swatch on US 9. I did try US 11 at first, but couldn't figure out how to hold that broomstick, let alone two of them, and still maintain balance!

I had just a few hours to come up with a pattern, so, uhm, I sped up the swatch-drying artificially. My gauge is about 15 sts and 21 rows per 4" square. Which is BIG! I typically knit somewhere in the 24-26 sts range!

I wonder what's going to happen to the apricot Shine when it arrives? Will I put this sweater in hold in favor of a cool cotton, or will I keep knitting it? I don't know, considering that after a Saturday with my knitting pals, I'm almost done with the back ;).

Posted by Kathy at 11:40 PM | Comments (11)

July 29, 2005

Just a glimpse into my mania

I just had the most delicious nap. Yawn. I've been looking forward to this nap ever since I woke up this morning... cranky, tired, grumpy. I'm a real dreamer - I have dreams all the time, I remember them well, and today's nap was the second daytime nap in a row where my dream was about knitting! And this one is so out there, I have to share.

I'm riding in the car with some people who aren't familiar to me. We are going to a RedSox game, and the stadium is on our left. The road approaching the stadium is narrow and suspended up in the air, like the subways in some parts of New York City and Chicago. It is a huge stadium, and we must circle it to get to the parking lot. The female driver is going fast, way too fast. I close my eyes and feel as though I'm riding a rollercoaster.

We reach the parking lot; we park. We are walking down a humongous set of metal stairs, just down, down, down... stairs, landing, stairs, landing... we overkill and end up going down to the basement. We backtrack and enter the stadium.

I'm with my classmates, and one of them, J., has my ticket. Each ticket gets the ticket holder 2 beers, either Sam Adams on tap or I.P.A. (I think) in a bottle. I'm not much of a beer drinker, so instead I receive a voucher good for 2 coffees. J. and I walk away and I say, "this is silly, why didn't I get beers for you guys?" He says, "I dunno. Why didn't you?" We have time to spare, so we walk over to one of the areas where beer is sold. J. and I check our wallets for a dollar bill to give as a tip the bartender. I have a wrinkled one, soggy from the humidity, and I hand it to the bartender along with my voucher. I ask for the Sam Adams, I expect it to come in a bottle. Shit, it's on tap, and eventually the bartender hands me the pint glasses, which I must balance above my head before lowering them down. A little beer spills and gets on my white t-shirt. My classmate B. joins us and comments, "looks like you spilled a little over here." Yep, I spilled it a little.

I hand over the beer to J. and wander away for a little while; the game doesn't start for some time. I walk around the huge stadium and end up in a little garden of sorts. I run into a beautiful middle-aged woman. She is all over the place, walking around, checking papers, looking in her bag. I am knitting, and we start a conversation. She says, "What are you making? It's beautiful!" I say, "thank you, it's a little sweater I designed." She says, "Can I see?" I hand it to her and I immediately realize that it's not a handknit! It's a stretchy machine-knit, like from a store, where a pattern is printed on the fabric after it's knit. But I have just a few inches of it, and it's sitting on a honkin' US 5 or 6 needle. There's a ball of yarn attached, but I can't see it. I want to see the ball of yarn, to see if it's white like the fabric's background, or perhaps it's pre-printed to create that beautiful design, like self-patterning yarn.

The woman seems to know about knitting, and she's pulling on the start of the sweater, which also has delicate little eyelets. "Wow, these eyelets are great! What a great design!" she says. She starts pulling out little thread fragments from my work, which leads me to believe that perhaps what I'm knitting is intarsia. Except the threads she pulls out are themselves not all one color! I am trying really hard to figure out what is this thing I'm knitting, and my brain is blanking. "Do you have other designs?" she asks. "Yes, I do." She says, "Well, I'm the editor of Vogue Knitting, and I'd love to see what else you've designed." I'm shocked to realize who she is, and I'm totally blanking on her name, although her face now looks a whole lot more familiar. "Uhm, sure, let me tell you about the different things." We start walking and talking, except she's a frantic walker, and we're sort of running around in a jerky fashion.

We walk right past the Interweave Knits office. I know exactly what it is, and so does she. It has balls and hanks of yarn on the windowsill, lots of them. "Don't bother with those folks," she tells me. We get to her office and I say, "Let me take out my digital camera, I have photos of some of my designs on the memory card." I pull out my camera, except it's not my camera, it's someone else's camera! I put it on the small coffee table in front of us, and that coffee table has like 5 cameras on it! An older couple comes running in, outfitted in RedSox gear, and claims one of the cameras. They are relieved to have found it. I finally fish out my own camera from my bag.

I have 1,113 (Purly? Colleen?) pictures on my camera, and I start shuffling through them, looking for specific ones. There are all kinds of irrelevant pictures on there - pictures of people, pictures of plants - I can't seem to locate any knitting pictures! There are pictures of sweaters that I didn't design, that I didn't knit, and the editor sees them. I feel embarrassed to tell her that those aren't actually my creations. Some of them are from Interweave, in fact. I start pulling stuff out of my bag, maybe looking for my camera again, and there are a few sketches. The editor grabs them and examines them, and she seems to like some of my ideas. The only problem is that they are highly digitized and processed, I must have been playing around in Photoshop to create surreal-like knitting collages for some reason. But she still digs it. There is one in particular of me and my grandma on massage tables; we are both wearing a Tivoli and receiving a massage (where? You use your imagination, the Tivolis are obviously covering our upper bodies). The editor loves it. "Oh," I tell her, "I've got pictures of that design on my stupid camera. I just can't find them because there are 1000 pictures on here." I try looking through the camera again, but just can't find any Tivoli pictures. The editor is getting antsy, and I know if I can't show her the pics now, it will never happen again.

"Wait a minute," I say, "if I have access to the internet, I can show you some pictures. I e-mailed some pictures to a friend, and they are saved in the 'sent items' folder. Do you have a computer?" "Sure, follow me," she says in that frantic jerky way.

We walk to a big desk, and there's a very small rectangular panel above it. On the left is an air conditioner unit, and on the right is something akin to a swinging kitty door. She goes first. She puts her hands through the kitty door, wiggles the rest of her upper body through the opening, and down and out she goes, like trash down a trash chute. I'm next. I put my arms through the hole, and my head is next. I look down, and it's like a 1-story drop to the ground. "Wait, how am I supposed to get down?" I ask. She says, "I'll catch you!" We both start laughing at the thought of my ass crushing this petite beautiful middle-aged woman. "Move out of the way, I'm going to give it a try on my own." She does, no hesitation. I get myself through the kitty door, and the behind is a tight squeeze. I get it through, and my legs follow, and I don't fall! I sort of grab the doorway and other architectural elements around me, and lower myself without a big thump. We're on our way to her computer.

The end.

I woke up and my arms were so asleep! I had to wiggle my bottom to get out of bed, I couldn't even use them. Maybe that's why I was wiggling my bum in the dream to get through that little swinging door :)

Posted by Kathy at 07:54 PM | Comments (13)

July 28, 2005

Sometimes you get force-fed a lil' crazy

Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes! Do not adjust your monitors. That's a photo of Falcon brand tissue culture dishes on my knitting blog.

See, it's all about Paula and the socks I'm knitting for her. Even though I can't show you the socks, there is enough insanity in my knitting to blog about them.

Paula's feet measure 7.5" around, and mine measure 8.75" around, which is a big difference! I mean, I have tried on the socks I'm knitting for her without any permanent damage to the knit fabric, but my feet are so different, I don't have a good sense of how long the leg is, when it's time to start the heel, etc.

I went scrounging around for something, anything that measures 7.5" around. My drinking glasses, diet Pepsi cans, even a scrap piece of Plexiglas I had lying around - all the wrong circumference.

But lookie what we've got here!

EUREKA!!! There was some frantic taping following the discovery, which led to this thing:


It's a mock-up of Paula's foot! I dressed it up in a regular sock so that the handknit fabric doesn't get caught on any edges. Then I made it try on my Pretty Comfy Socks. Now I know that on Paula's feet, the leg of these socks would be 6" long, and that they would be... a little loose. I can take the same measurement on the socks I'm currently knitting for her.

And if the socks don't fit after coming up with this contraption, I'm just going to sigh and hide in a corner ;).

Posted by Kathy at 10:50 PM | Comments (17)

July 27, 2005

All kinds of honesty

I do not promise quality knitting content in this one. But I just had a few things to get out of the way :).

First, thank you all for your concern about my safety. I should tell you that walking to and from work at odd hours, especially in the middle of the night, is not unusual for me or other science graduate students. We work a lot, we work late, and our lives are scheduled by our experiments (as opposed to our experiments being scheduled by our lives). After all, they don't hand out PhDs for working 9-5, M-F. Trust me.

The point of my last post was that lately I've had to make multiple trips to lab every day. Now that's annoying. Of course I could spend all my awake time in lab and never go home except to sleep, but that's even more annoying. So, faced with 40 minutes of walking time at least twice a day, I decided to try knitting while walking! I did it in the dark last night, and in bright sunlight this morning, and will do it in the dark again tonight :). Knitting makes walking to lab much more bearable, even if the humidity is oppressing. And as always I will be very careful, that's not new to me :).

And now, a moment of honesty. An exchange between the Bloglines CEO, Mark Fletcher (you can personally e-mail him at markf@wingedpig.com), and yours truly:

E-mail #1 from me: (summary) Dear Mark, what is going on over there? Are cows flying? Has all hell broken loose?
E-mail #2 from Mark: I apologize for the problem. One of our crawlers was stuck this weekend, and we didn't detect it until Monday morning. I believe your feed has been updated.

E-mails #3 and #4 below:

Well, at least the response is honest, he has a good sense of humor and a little self-depreciation. I can work with that ;). We are still in e-mail contact because the problems are not over. Get this! My 200+ atom.xml Bloglines subscribers have all been shuffled to my index.rdf feed. I don't really understand how this can possibly happen, so Mark and I are trying to figure it out. At least now you'll be updated about my new posts (I think), even if you're subscribed to a different feed than you originally chose.

So, Bloglines talk is really boring. I totally agree. My eyes would have glazed over 10 lines of text ago.

Next post: some pictures of my Adrienne Vittadini sleeves, and possibly an outline of how I plan to go about steeking. By the way, I have no fear of cutting the fabric, which seems to be a major hurdle for a lot of people. I'm more worried about using my sewing machine on knit fabric. First, I am still nearly clueless about my sewing machine. It's got the bobbin and the foot pedal and the manual when tells me how to thread it. There you go. That's about the extent of my knowledge. Second, I always feel the presser foot really squishes the knit fabric and artificially stretches it out. But that may not be a problem in this case. Third, those feeder zigzag thingies are worse than Velcro! They just grab onto the fabric and move it along, exactly as they're supposed to do, but it's all so sticky and if I need to adjust something and move the fabric, they are like the jaws of death!

So, yeah, just slightly apprehensive about using my sewing machine ;).

Posted by Kathy at 07:30 PM | Comments (15)

I've been walking after midnight

I'm in the middle of a set of crazy experiments at work. They aren't any more time consuming than my typical stuff, but they require multiple trips to the lab each day for about a week. My walk to lab is 20 minutes, and a grand idea occurred to me - what if I knit while walking?!? That would be 40 minutes of knitting time, at least twice every day, so I should have a sweater finished by the end of the month! Hehehe...

I gave this idea a try... tonight. See, the one additional piece of information that you need to have is that some of these trips to and from lab occur between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., in nearly perfect darkness.

Results: (I'm all about results) I can do it! I did it! The worst part about knitting while walking in the dark is... the heat. :-D :-D Didn't see that coming, did you? Yuck, it is so gross outside, and I have such a low heat tolerance as is. So of course I decided to work on a small, portable project on my first knitting walk, socks for Miss Paula.

The socks didn't cling to me as a sweater would, and there was no awkward turning of the project as I walked; really, the perfect solution. I found that I needed a modicum of light (a street lamp will do) for the first stitch on every needle, and no light or looking down for all the other stitches. On my walk today I only had to tink once, about 10-15 stitches, and for that I had to stand still. I nearly fell only once, but considering my usual clumsiness while walking, this is not statistically significant :).

The sock exchange Paula and I are having is secret. We specified preferences and sizes, but the rest is entirely hush-hush until we actually exchange the socks. So it's a huge deal for me to share this picture with you:

Hey, it's the socks' first appearance on my blog!

Actually, I've been thinking about ways to share more sock pictures with you. I'm concerned about Paula seeing the pictures, though. Even if I use some of Nona's html tricks, I'm afraid Paula won't be able to resist clicking. I'm not sure I'd be able to resist! But the urge to share is strong because... the socks are quite charming, and I'm having a grand time knitting them, and even though the pattern is simple enough to knit in the dark while walking, I came up with it myself (surprised?).

I'll have to think about it. In the meantime, I won't dread walking back and forth to lab from now on, even if it's in the middle of the night.

Other news:

Adrienne Vittadini sweater: as evident from my last post, the sleeves are blocking. More pictures soon, although I probably won't get to the steeking until next week/weekend.

Filati orange sweater: I bought KnitPicks Shine in Apricot today. I'm excited about the color, but not so excited about having to knit on US 4 when others get the appropriate gauge on honkin' US 6s. By the way, for those who placed their KnitPicks orders recently, any trouble with the website? Gosh, I was having such a hellish time. From my Mac, it was a bust no matter what I tried. Basically, the yarn wouldn't add to the cart. From my PC, I could not log in, even though I perfectly well know my user name and password, and even when I created a new account from scratch in case I forgot. I can't remember the last time before this that I had to phone in an order! Anyway, that yarn won't be coming in for a week or two, which should be enough time to work a bit more on Paula's socks and perhaps finish the AV sweater.

Bloglines: no news. I mean, there have been some more nonsensical e-mails telling me that, "we believe the issue has been resolved," when it clearly hasn't. So, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, Bloglines "service" is more like, "big-ass headache."

Posted by Kathy at 02:00 AM | Comments (17)

July 25, 2005

Bite me!

Whenever Bloglines fails to notice an update on my blog, I get very reluctant to post a new one until the issue is resolved. My reluctance is not assuaged by e-mails like this one:

Bite me, Bloglines, bite me! And I’m glad that they include a copy of my original e-mail – who’s the Grumperina? ;)

I cross my fingers that they get their act together because I know most of you use them. In the meantime, I’ve started to keep on top of your knitting with NewsGator, which, although not perfect, especially when it comes to their interface, notices a lot more updates in significantly less time.

I leave you with this knitting picture:

More details when Bloglines gets their act together.

Posted by Kathy at 08:52 PM | Comments (20)

July 23, 2005

Resurrected (I have a function to attend)

Foreword: I have such hiccups right now. I apologize for any blurry pictures :).

Well, here we are. Me: having just posted more than a few lame posts. I mean, hello, when was the last time you saw some serious knitting over here? You: searching for the unsubscribe button in Bloglines.

The explanation is simple - I've had more than a few things occupying my time: life, ArtBeat, ouchie, a pair of socks for Paula which are a secret project for now, a few new designs which you'll see at one point or another, writing up the Sockapal-2-za Sock Pal socks pattern, and the grand Tivoli standardization (have you seen the gallery? Holy moley, more than 20 Tivolis have been knit to date!)

Friends, it's all about to change! August is a around the corner, things are becoming stable, and I'm putting a MAJOR pause on designing and pattern-writing because it is a HUMONGOUS time sink. I mean, it's to the point where I'm able to recite a Tivoli pattern by heart, but don't remember how to use dpns anymore, or the last time I had a proper dinner.

Side note: For the lovely folks who send me Tivoli-related questions, hello! Thanks for checking out the pattern! I respond to everyone, even if it's a simple "I don't know" or "it's not important" or "check this website for the answer." If you wrote to me and a week has gone by without a response, drop me another line. I get an average of 2 Tivoli questions a day, so sometimes e-mails get lost in the shuffle - mea culpa :).

Are you ready for some sweater action? Mwahahaha!

Nothing is a bigger impetus to get moving than a gathering where I'll need to knit for a long period of time. So, faced with such a gathering at Claudia's this weekend, I went scrambling to the yarn bin for some knittery goodies.

First, a little while ago I snatched up this Filati pattern book from the $1 sale bin at my LYS. My favorite part: the subtitle, The new trends: EXOTIC & EROTIC. Hello, is this a pattern book, or a dirty video? Inside are many yarn-specific designs, that is, designs which would look totally different if the gaudy (more often than not) yarn is substituted.

But there's one gem. Check out the cuteness of this sweater tunic:

Hello. You must be mine.

The best part: they have my size. The smallest size is just right for me in every aspect, including petite 7.5" armholes! You know me and armholes - against bat wings! The only change I plan to make is adding some waist shaping. That's it!

The pattern is written for Lana Grossa Toccata, a yarn which knits up at 22 sp4i. Which is like my entire yarn stash!

Or so I thought.

Off to the stash I went. My beeeluuuuved Louet Opal, when washed, is about 23 sp4i, and the row gauge is significantly off (matters here for the raglan armhole shaping).

The Lana Grossa Cool Wool Merino 2000, which I bought a little while ago knits up at 26 sp4i, but when washed, blooms to 22 sp4i. The washed fabric, however, is a little loose for my taste. Also, I only have 8 skeins with no easy way to get more of the same dye lot. I have to think about it, whether this is the right drape for the sweater and whether I'd be okay making the sleeves a little shorter.

Of course I can just buy new yarn! I do like the orange color presented in the pattern, and the Apricot KnitPicks Shine is exactly the kind of orange I like - has a lil' yellow in it ;). Will Shine be the right yarn for this project? Its natural fuzziness and matte quality are a turn-off for me, especially considering the crispness and shine of the sweater in the pattern book. Although we're talking $25 worth of yarn, I've learned that the price tag is senseless (I would never use Merino Style for a sweater again, even though the price tag is unbeatable).

Speaking of Merino Style...

So, the new and cool sweater project isn't going to happen for today. I'm just not sure I have the right yarn to start right now. Instead, remember this crap?

Oh yes, it's the Adrienne Vittadini nightmare sweater. At this point, I've changed so many aspects of the written pattern, I don't even remember what I kept as written. I want to beat this thing to death. I want to finish it. If it sucks, I want to throw it out. And if it doesn't suck, I want to throw it out wear it. In either case, I want it out of my knitting stash.




(1) This is the sweater as it appears in the Adrienne Vittadini Fall 2004 pattern book. (2) The body of the sweater has been knit in one piece and has been blocked. I am happy with the way it fits. (3) I have 1 1/2 sleeves completed. (4) I've been able to obtain more yarn of the same dye lot to (hopefully) be able to finish the sweater without any problems. (5) The sleeves have been a major source of agony. While the sleeve cap fits perfectly, the arm portion is too loose for my liking. This is where I will steek.

Say what? Yes, my friends, the only solution is to steek this sucker into submission. I cannot wait to cut into it. First, I need to finish and block the sleeves. And that is what I will work on at Claudia's.

Posted by Kathy at 09:54 AM | Comments (11)

July 21, 2005


I may or may not have had to drill more than the required number of holes:


But look how squarely the curtain hits the floor!

For those who asked, this fabric looks rich and luxurious, perhaps like silk, but this is the stuff you can get for $13 a panel, so obviously it isn't... rich or luxurious or silk or even silky. It smells kind of funny, and feels like umbrella fabric.

Its biggest flaw, however, is that I photograph terribly against it, completely washed out and pale. And for that reason, the burgundy umbrella fabric went back to Target, and I equipped myself with some gold-speckled sheers from Linens-n-Things:

Fortunately, I don't have to reinstall the curtain rod to work with the length of these new curtains. I'm still testing them out, deciding if I like seeing them every day, if I like the way I photograph against them, but they definitely smell better than the burgundy ones.

Now, who's going to clean the mess I made?

Knitting news: lots of scheming, no knitting. Ouchie is in control at the moment.

Posted by Kathy at 03:14 AM | Comments (10)

July 18, 2005

"Good luck," said ouchie

After my fanta-freaking-abulous time at ArtBeat, I had a more down to earth weekend. Saturday night I received some sad news, and then more bad news came my way Sunday morning. I was not in the mood to do anything, which should have been a clear sign to stay away from work, a place chock full of chemicals and surgical instruments and sharp things. But, nooooo, I decided to go in, thinking it would take my mind off the sad news.

Then sort of on a whim I decided to replace the tubing on one of our vacuums. Result: slashed my left index finger with a razor blade. Deeply. Not enough to warrant stitches (I think), but enough to totally disable my knitting. Wanna see?

You didn't think I was going to show you the actual ouchie, did you?!? Of course not! That is totally IBM for KB, IMO!

I'm starting to sounds like a cell signaling textbook. My ouchie is inappropriate blog material for knitting blog, in my opinion.

Every blogger and blog reader draws his or her own boundaries on what's appropriate and inappropriate for a knitting blog. I chose to omit any gruesome pictures of injuries, descriptions of other health issues, details of deaths in my family, comments on world tragedies and politics, recounts of drunken adventures, too much pet talk and pictures, bashing of ex-boyfriends (or details of my love life, in general) from my knitting blog. I tend to keep my knitting blog more or less about knitting, crafts, and home improvement adventures. Also, I tend to gravitate towards similarly minded knitting blogs, although I must admit, Ms. Surly's hurty eye and hurty footie are exceptions.

And so, I'm making the executive decision that pictures of my ouchie are IBM for my KB.

Knitting is entirely out of the question for now because the cut is exactly where I pass the yarn over my finger to maintain tension. It hurts to have yarn press against it, and the yarn gets caught in the bandage. I could knit English, but obviously I have no idea how to do that because even after consulting my books it looks like you wrap the yarn clockwise, but two people told me it's counter-clockwise. I'm completely clueless.

Also, in case you haven't noticed, I'm totally in between projects right now, and I need a few days to decide what I want to do next. I think I might take the knitting vacation graciously granted to me by the ouchie to do some sketching and scheming for a new project.


But, the ouchie said it was okay to do some Home Depot related activities.

After I slashed my finger, I decided to go to Target and get some curtains to hang over my boring closet doors. And even with the ouchie and the improper state of being I decided it would be perfectly acceptable to take out my power tools and mount the curtain rod last night. Bad idea.

(I almost got a big ouchie on my ass when I took these pictures. Definitely IBM.)

Here is the left bracket. The drill bit I used to make the holes is too big and the screws are barely hanging on.

Here is the right bracket. You'd think I would have learned my lesson and used a thinner drill bit when I installed the second bracket, but I did no such thing.

My goal was to have the curtain hit squarely the bottom of my floor. "Good luck," said ouchie.

Curtain rod reinstallation tonight. Ouchie isn't holding his breath.

Posted by Kathy at 09:08 PM | Comments (23)

July 17, 2005

The heat didn't matter

ArtBeat. WOW.


Martha, Kristina, Ariel, Alasdair, Rose, Erin, Linda, Beth, Maria, we MUST do this next year. It is so rewarding to teach people to knit and to let them know about our group. Martha, how many flyers with our group's info did we hand out? 200-300? I think we will have many newcomers in the weeks to come.

It is simply impossible to summarize what happened, but it was entirely wonderful. Hot and crowded conditions typically make me Queen CrankyPants, but people showed such interest and enthusiasm, that I took the wool, the sticky bamboo chopsticks, and went to town. Highlights include setting up a group of six 7-year old girls to knit. OH YEAH. Fun? I mean... Fun! Also, every person I taught walked away knitting in the English style (i.e., yarn in right hand, throw around needle). I don't want to get into a huge Continental/English debate over here, but I will simply say that I demonstrated both methods to a few newbies, and they all said English was easier for them. However... me, teaching English style? One phrase comes to mind - BLIND LEADING THE BLIND. Miss Paula saw me knit this way a few days ago, and I believe her exact reaction was, "what are you doing?" Entirely accurate - the first person I taught, we started with wrapping the yarn in the opposite (counter clockwise) direction. OOPS! Good thing being an Annie follower allowed me to realize my mistake as soon as I saw the stitches mounted in the opposite orientation (from what I desired) when we got to the second row.

Bottom line: fantastic day.

Posted by Kathy at 02:31 PM | Comments (10)

July 13, 2005

New stuff, new stuff! (not for me)

Look at this great new stuff: Cotton Wrapping Twine by Wellington, cotton/polyester blend.

I got it at a local hardware store (Home Depot is not close enough to visit on a weekday). 170 yards - only $3.99. That's a great price. AND, it already comes in a center-pull ball.


What am I up to now?

One word: ArtBeat

ArtBeat is a great... program, celebration, fair, gathering, I don't know what you'd call it! Local artists of all kinds and Somerville residents come together for a day of art in Davis Square, Somerville. It's huge, crowded, loud, and if the weather is in our favor, a little sticky (otherwise, a little wet, which is no fun at all).

This year my Sunday knitting group petitioned for a table at the fair to teach people how to knit and spin. And the application was accepted! I hope to see you there on Saturday if you live in the area!

We have a lot of projects planned, and the one I contributed is making a drink coaster out of household cotton twine. It's quick, and it's something to take home and admire. Here she is!

Cute and easy! And, I'd be totally cool with making a set of 6, wrapping them with some nice ribbon and giving them as a housewarming gift. Here my drug of choice models the coaster:

Math is very important for this project because the Somerville Arts Council gave us a budget for supplies. On US 9 needles (which are the same diameter as chopsticks... coincidence? I think not!), a coaster that is 3 1/2" X 3 1/2" takes about 28 feet of yarn, so one twine ball makes about 18 coasters. Do you hear that, Martha? Should I buy more, or are 3 balls enough? I think we can get away with making 3" X 3" coasters, which was my original intention anyway, thus doling out the yarn more sparingly. Note to self: 3" - cast on 11 sts.

How do I feel about teaching knitting using this material? Pretty good. Because it's a cotton blend, it's quite stretchy and surprisingly comfortable to work with! The stitches are sharp, easy to see, and there is no splitting. The only minus - the twine is a little overspun, so it coils up on itself. That's it, I'm writing a letter to the mill, complaining that their cotton twine is substandard quality!


There's a simple basket pattern in Comforts of Home: Simple Knitted Accents which calls for using this type of string. It always caught my attention, and now that I've used this yarn, I would not hesitate to make it!

Posted by Kathy at 11:30 PM | Comments (26)

July 12, 2005

It's so cold, I think I'll wear my new scarf!

Look how cold I am:

Brrr... so cold, I had to raise the collar of my jacket to protect myself from the harsh winds... in my apartment! Clearly poised in front of my closet! Staring at my A/C, wishing it was on! With a high of about 90F today!

And at the risk of TMI, my bottom half is dressed appropriately for this weather, hmmm...

But I'm good at pretending, right? And this is how I envision I'll wear this scarf - wrapped around my neck under a light fall jacket.

Here's a close-up of the lovely texture and color:

So, the FO report is a short one - Berroco Plush Colors, 100% acrylic, Kiwi (1972), 2 skeins, size 10 needles, garter stitch, 5 1/2" wide X 55" long, $21, about 1 week.

Things I LOVE about Berroco Plush (or why it's really nothing like Fun Fur):

  • It does not smell funny.
  • It does not feel oily.
  • It does not shed. At all. This is pretty remarkable for a novelty yarn.
  • It is SUPREMELY SOFT. Think of the softest cashmere, qiviut, baby angora (baby angoras are so cute, I cannot express it), whatever - this is softer.
  • 2 skeins make the perfectly-sized scarf.
  • It elicits weird-ass reactions from perfect strangers.

I would knit another one of these in a second, and I think it would make a great gift.

The scarf is done, the Sockapal-2-za socks are done, what's next?

There has been some talk of reviving the Adrienne Vittadini project, but I'm not sure I can deal with it at this point and time. I did receive a yarn gift this weekend from Rita. She brought me this yarn all the way from Portugal! 58% viscose, 26% acrylic, 9% cotton, 7% linen, fabriqué au Portugal!

It's lovely, shiny, and silky, and methinks it's proper for a slinky scarf. Maybe that will be my new project... Thanks, Rita!

Posted by Kathy at 01:10 AM | Comments (15)

July 10, 2005

When insanity stares you squarely in the face, embrace it

My friends. Time has come.

I'm sorry. You know the post isn't going to be any good. It's okay to leave now.


The problem du jour is to figure out how many balls of yarn different Tivoli sizes would need... sizes that have never been knit. I have absolutely no idea how other designers figure this out. Absolutely none. But my geometry background is mighty good ;). I remember groaning about having to take Advanced Geometry when I was in college, since I wasn't studying mathematics, but so far it has proved to be really useful in everyday life!

I decided I would first figure out, what is the surface area (square inches or centimeters) one ball of yarn covers? There are two ways to figure this out - either use a predetermined length of yarn to find out how big or small a square it makes, or knit whatever project with that yarn, and take note of how long one entire ball lasts. The second method is what I chose to use while standardizing the Tivoli.

The hurdle I encountered is that the Tivoli is knit from the top down, and the yoke is not some perfect rectangle made for surface area calculations. So, the Calculus had to come down from the shelf to remind me how to calculate an area of a more complicated geometric shape - a trapezoid. And with the book's help, I got it:

Okey dokey, 1 ball of yarn lasts about 126 square inches.

Then I did some way more complicated math in Excel to figure out the surface areas of each of the Tivoli sizes:

Doesn't that look SCARY?

And you want to see the kicker?

The calculations say that the 44" size needs 7.035 balls of yarn, and the 48" size needs 8.043 balls of yarn! And I know I've been rounding up throughout because I don't want to be responsible for some poor knitter running out of the proper dye lot - it's happened to me, and is quite traumatic. But can I in good faith say that the 44" needs 7 balls, and the 48" needs 8?

Another nifty thing that came out of my adventures with the Calculus book is that I finally looked up that SOHCAHTOA thing from trigonometry and figured out the length of the Tivoli to shoulder.

I should rename my blog... Grumperina: knitting on another level.

Posted by Kathy at 09:47 AM | Comments (51)

July 08, 2005

Okay, okay, I'll wash them again!

That's Señor Calcentín on top, he's such a show-off!

If you're my Secret Sock Pal, then disregard that photo entirely and look at your socks through vanilla-colored glasses:

I know, I know, I did it again. I just couldn't stop myself from putting the socks on, even after I washed and blocked them! I'm not mailing them out until September, so there will be plenty of opportunities to wash them one more time.

Project: Sockapal-2-za Socks
Size: About 8" around, and about 9 1/2" long (exact size concealed so I don't out my pal)
Yarn: Opal Handpainted #11, 1 skein
Needles: US 1 dpns, set of 5
Time to complete: There was frogging, and lots of it. 'Nuff said.
Pattern: My own, but will be available to you (in 8" and 9" circumferences) shortly :)

Posted by Kathy at 01:48 AM | Comments (29)

July 06, 2005

I no longer need shoe boxes for taking pictures!

I feel that photography is intertwined with knitblogging. Think of one of your favorite knitblogs, and imagine, what would it be like without pictures? Maybe it wouldn't be worse, but it would be different. More generally, photography is intertwined with knitting - how would you feel about the newest Interweave Knits if all the patterns were described in words, for example?

The more I knit and blog, the more I learn about my camera and digital photography. Just a year ago, for example, I had no idea that macro mode exists, and that pictures meant for the internet don't need to be at a resolution higher than 72 pixels/inch. Currently my three biggest photo dilemmas or obstacles are: light, since my apartment doesn't have any except between the hours of 2 and 5:30 p.m., steady hands for crisp photos, and finding painless ways to set up my camera for use in timer mode.

There isn't much I can do about light. I did get a new torchiere lamp in the spring, and sometimes I take photos outside. However, since most often I get the urge to blog and take photos around midnight, the outside option is eh... nearly nonexistent.

Steady hands are a necessity for crisp photos, since the shutter is open for a long time in macro mode (if any digital photo junkies are reading this and saying, no, she got that all wrong, please correct me). From work I'm quite good at steadying myself by anchoring my elbows or supporting one hand with the other, but I don't have surgeons' hands, that's for sure.

The last problem/dilemma/obstacle for me is taking photos in timer mode. You see, I live alone - I have neither roommates nor a significant other. Friends come over once in a while, but taking pictures of me modeling my wears is not high on their list of fun things to do :). Plus, what if I want to take a picture at a random time when no one can come over, like 3 a.m. on a Wednesday :). Bottom line - I end up using timer mode to take pictures of myself. So, I typically stack about 6 shoe boxes on top of my knitting basket, put that on my coffee table, place the camera on top of this pyramid, prop up the camera's rear end with 2 credit cards to get the right angle, and stand in front of my closet:

Ridiculous, right? How far does one go to get a decent blog photo? Now, this far:

Tada! I thought about getting a camera tripod for a really long time, but assumed they would be way out of my budget. Completely wrong! Tripods are really affordable, I got mine for $21! I wouldn't say this is a blog investment, it's more of a knitting investment. I am definitely interested in having high-quality photos of my knitting, and it so happens I often plop them on my blog. Of course, a tripod addresses two of my issues - lack of steady hands, and lack of places to set up my camera for timer mode - great! Look at my new toy in all its glory:

Oh yeah, no more piling shoe boxes on top of the coffee table!

And it goes down really low, for (you know it!) sock photos!

Hey, I see a grumpy knitter who thought she was setting the timer mode, but just ended up taking the picture then and there!

What kind of investments (if any) have you made to improve your photography of knitted items? A new camera? A new lens? Tripod?

Posted by Kathy at 07:50 PM | Comments (22)

July 05, 2005

Who stole the Grumperina?

I saw it, and I had to have it. I walked away, looked at the other yarns, REAL yarns, wool yarns, cotton yarns, even my archenemy, mohair, but I came back. One swipe of the credit card later, it was MINE.

What is that? Sit down, and pop a Valium. I will go slowly.

Berroco Plush Colors

100% acrylic

knit on size 10 needles

furry, so only garter stitch is reasonable

Say what?!? Since when do I buy yarn like this? Apparently since this weekend when Paula and I visited And the Beadz Go On... in Wickford, RI. Lovely shop, filled with the most wonderful of yarns, and THIS is what I had to get. THIS and nothing else. Furthermore, I was so giddy with excitement over this yarn that when Paula and I stopped by her house, I borrowed a pair of US 10 needles, so that I could start knitting on the train ride home.

"Come on," you say, "So what! We know you're up to something! Yes, it's novelty yarn, garter stitch, and big needles, but surely you're making something exotic! A dunce's cap?"

Take that other Valium now: I am making a scarf. For myself. Out of novelty yarn, US 10 needles, and garter stitch. It will look like a skinny and long rectangle. I am not knitting it on a bias or anything like that.

"Okay," you say, "it was in the clearance bin, you couldn't pass it up!"

It wasn't in the clearance bin. It wasn't even pretending to be on sale. It's not cheap, either ($10.50/skein). I paid full price for the furry acrylic stuff.


A woman approached me while I was waiting for the Red Line. She was observing me and my novelty scarf with great interest, and finally started a conversation:

Woman: Wow, that is cool!
Me: Thanks!
Woman: I bet it's warm.
Me: No, it's more for the fall or spring, because it's not wool.
Woman: I bet it's soft (gestures with fingers rubbing against each other).
Me: (extend the scarf to her).
Woman: (after touching the scarf) SHIT, that's so soft!
Me: Thanks, it is pretty soft. (Go back to knitting, but the woman is still observing. I can tell that she's a knitter. Also, she speaks very little English.) Do you know how to do this?
Woman: Oh yeah, I used to make sweaters and socks. But you know, what you're making is more simple, you just have to make each one the same.

Grumperina, more simple? I had to show her my Secret Sock Pal socks. You know I had to. Out came the socks, and I passed them to her so she could take a look and confirm that I'm not just a Novelty Yarn Scarf Ho.

Woman: SHIT, this is nice! (proceeds to stick her entire hand inside one of the socks and examine the heel) SHIT, this part is nice, this is the complicated part. (examines the heel of the other sock) SHIT, this one is nice, too. That's the part that was always bad. SHIT, it is so warm!
Me: Thanks, they came out quite nice.
Woman: Who taught you?
Me: I learned from a book.

I have this really bad habit - when I'm talking to someone who doesn't have a great grasp of the English language, I start signing (as in, American Sign Language) as I'm speaking. As though my hand gestures will make it any easier for the other person to understand what I'm saying! Anyway, so now you have to imagine that I'm not just saying, "I learned from a book," I'm also making the appropriate signs.

Woman: SHIT, that's nice! Did it take you a long time? It is so small, so many...
Me: About 3 weeks. The scarf will be quicker; I knit this much in about 1 hour (show her my progress).
Woman: SHIT, it will be so warm, you'll be able to put it twice around your neck.
Me: Well, maybe not twice, but I'll see once I make more of it.
Woman: SHIT. It is so soft. And warm.

The project worth at least a dozen SHITs:

The other project worth at least a dozen SHITs: stay tuned.

Posted by Kathy at 07:46 PM | Comments (38)

July 02, 2005

Nip and tuck

For whatever reason, Bloglines didn't register my last blog entry. If this problem persists, I'll try to fix it. Hopefully this entry goes through, and if you didn't read the last one, you now know it happened :).

Mr. Sock came to my yarn surgery office a few days ago - he was very unhappy with his appearance and needed a drastic change in the way he looked.

First, it was my responsibility to make sure that Mr. Sock was of sound mind and wanted yarn surgery for the right reasons. He explained to me that he was a victim of poor planning. It seems that his creator, one Ms. Grumpy, failed to admit to herself that the radical differences in the gauges of Mr. Sock's patterned instep and plain stockinette sole would lead to a poor fit. Ms. Grumpy attempted to create the sock based on the gauge of the patterned instep, but the heel, the sole, and the toes suffered as a result, becoming bloated from the looser tension of their stockinette composition. Mr. Sock was convinced that yarn surgery was necessary, and I agreed.

We identified the problem areas. Of course I had to take pictures while Mr. Sock was all naked and exposed, then point out the trouble spots in a really flashy way, just like they do on those plastic surgery shows - I think it gives me more credibility. Mr. Sock said it humiliated him, but he dealt with it.

Most obvious was the extra stockinette, present all along the side of Mr. Sock. It had to go.

Next, there were the bulges which protruded at the pattern transition at the toe shaping. Nothing a little yarn surgery couldn't fix :).

Last, there was the heel flap - simply too long. As a side effect of the long heel flap, the gussets were huge, stopping just a small distance before toe shaping began. The entire heel area needed a good tuck.

Mr. Sock's yarn surgery went very well, and he is currently spending some time recovering at the Washing Machine & Block Spa with his twin brother, Señor Calcetín. He feels lighter, slimmer, like a new sock! He'll be ready for his reveal shortly!

Posted by Kathy at 02:58 AM | Comments (19)