Saturday, January 28, 2006

A New Job

Yup, I got a job. Who'da thunk it? I started work Thursday, and am expecting this project to continue for four to six months (although I hope it doesn't go that long).

I signed up to work part time, which with this company means around 40 hours a week (full time is 60+). So, I'm now up at 5:00am every weekday morning, insert caffeine drip, make a healthy lunch, lace up the steel toed boots, and away I go, up the mountain. It's a little bit wild.

Anyway, I now have significantly less knitting time, less blogging time, less blog-surfing time, and no nap time at all! What I will do for the almighty $. But, must pay for the stash enhancement...

Edited later to add: Um, good point DebR! The job is ... kind of fluffy / waffle-y ... a production operations streamlining consultant thing. Yeah, that's meaningful. And so very comprehensible.

I was confused, too, until I realized that my job at this particular site will be to look for holes or bottlenecks in the operation - basically find opportunities to improve production capacity and/or streamline the operations process, cutting costs in the process.

Hmm, still don't know what I'm doing? Uh, it has to do with a surface mining operation. I wear steel toed boots, a hard hat, safety glasses and a reflective vest. I come home really dirty, but get to spend the day on top of a mountain. And yes, full time is a minimum of 60 hours a week (most employees work 12 hour days, 10 days on, 4 days off, for 120 hours every two weeks). Woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Who has new shoes?

Why, that would be me! And, they go with my new socks!

Those of you that have met me know that I have "a good, solid understanding" (what my Mom used to tell me when I complained about the size of my feet). They are large. They are rather flat at the ends (no pointy-toed shoes for me). They are REALLY wide. And, the instep of my left foot is so high that there are very few shoes I can wear.

Yesterday, in between being gifted with a brief moment of wisdom from our Endocrinologist and having 14 vials of blood pulled for testing, I went shoe shopping. Normally that activity results in emotions from disappointment to frustration, but yesterday was different.

Instead of going to "trendy" shoe shops, I went straight to the place where nurses and postal workers go. Yes, their shoes were more expensive than the "fashion" shoes I'm used to. Yes, they came in unfamiliar-to-me sizes. And yes, they had a couple of types that fit me!

I came away with Birkenstocks. Green plastic Super Birkis, to be exact. And they FIT REALLY WELL! My large square feet are in heaven, and that extra-high instep is just fine with its new confinement.

To celebrate, I finished my first pair of Red Hot Sizzling Socks. Details on the socks in ThatLoganChick's Socks (gallery). All you need to know is that my feet are some friggin' happy right now, and that any mud that gets on these shoes can be hosed off without doing any damage. Because I live in a town where it regularly snows then blows, creating mud all winter long. And 'cause I'm a dirty grrl. ;-)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ear to Ear with the Grinning Today

Verklempt! By the email!

I had a few really nice (and interesting!) emails today from some blogosphere friends, and they have me feeling all warm and fuzzy. And, to boot, I got (my very first!!!) meme tag.

Now normally I am the end of the chain email. However, there is something about a meme that is so much more meaningful - it's a way to share tidbits about oneself without making readers wade through the usual babble (in my case - babbler extrordinaire). See? Massive and nasty sentences are the norm here at That Logan Chick Land.

Okay, I'll quit blathering and get meme-ing (it's the "Four Things" meme):

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Server Monkey at McDonalds (age 15)
2. Legal Secretary
3. Project researcher/writer for two University Professors
4. Project Engineer for a construction/mining contractor (favorite paid job of all time)

Four movies you could watch over and over:
1. Serenity (Joss Whedon's Firefly movie)
2. The Tall Guy (funniest sex sceen EVER)
3. Hellraiser (any of them)
4. House of 1000 Corpses (Rob Zombie movie)

Four places you have lived:
1. Lower Hutt, New Zealand (born there)
2. Near Elk Island Park, Alberta, Canada
3. Edmonton, Alberta
4. Fort McMurray, Alberta

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Daily Planet
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. Frontiers of Construction
4. Law and Order

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Tucson, Arizona
2. Vancouver Island, BC
3. Jasper, Alberta
4. Banff, Alberta
I'm not so much for the travelling (it's not that I hate flying, it's that I hate taking off and landing). Also, I'm uncomfortable sleeping in strange beds, and using unfamiliar bathrooms. Oh, and also I get really BITCHY if I don't have my usual everyday surroundings around me EVERY DAY. And I miss my cats.

Four websites you visit (almost) daily:
1. Fibermania
2. Red Shoe Ramblings
3. Yarn Harlot
4. Zeneedle

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Dark chocolate
2. Cheese
3. Peanut butter
4. Pears

Four places you would rather be right now:
1. Willmore Wilderness Park, Alberta
2. The "beach" near Jasper, Alberta
3. In a (good) yarn store
4. Exactly where I am (home), but it's miraculously cleaner
Please note that numbers 1 and 2 are good weather dependent. Right now it's blowing snow outside, so 3 or 4 would do just fine.

Red Hot Sizzling Socks (Yum!)

Man-oh-man, I'm a joiner this year. I found this KAL (knit-along for those not used to knit-speak) on Margene's site, and considering that I had just completed the first of my Flirting with Pink socks, it seemed appropriate for me to join.

Plus, there's that skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Rosehip heating up my sock yarn stash. And, if Felicia of Sweet Georgia gets another dye run in soon, I'm hoping there will be some "Slayer" superwash coming my way. Mmmm, red socks. Yup, they certainly will "spice up the sock drawer".

But what the heck is with my freakishly weird shaped foot? Yes, I have a very high arch, and yes, I have a tall instep, and yes, I have thick ankles, but they look WAY worse in the photo than in real life. Still, gotta love the hot sock. I wanted shorty socks in this yarn, and the picot edging worked out really cute. Loving the red sock (must cast on second sock immediately).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What is with me and pink lately?

I must be going through some sort of weird not-quite-mid-life crisis or something - I've gone from hating the pink (and a regular scoffer of those who like pink) to loving the pink. Really. I'm all about the pink these days.

After the orange socks were finished a few days ago, I immediately went to the stash-just-for-sock-yarn, sniffing around for which pair to begin next. Oh, and in case you're wondering, it is now official: I have four stashes. I have a stash for sock yarn, one for lace weight, one for other natural fibres, and one for whimsies (aka the embellishment stash). Wait, those are just my knitting stashes. I also have a large quilting stash. With sub-categories, too. Oy.

Okay, where was I ... oh yes, choosing the next pair of socks. I wanted to use something hand painted, and thought maybe green or brown would be nice. Short-row-toe-swatched a green, but didn't feel the love. Short-row-toe-swatched a brown, but again with the lacking of love. Pulled out a vibrant red, previously relegated to the back of the stack due to the pronounced presence of pink. Swatched (toe again) and I. AM. IN. LOVE.

How could anyone not love this pinky red goodness? And, with the aubergine? I'm currently fighting insane (yes, I can recognize insanity when I feel it) urges to lick this sock. Ugh, but oh so tempting. It's the pink - it has me all feverish in the noggin.

Or, maybe it's the yarn, which has 25% mohair in there with the merino superwash goodness (Schaefer Anne sock wool). The mohair gives it a firm, slightly slippery hand, and it feels shiney while knitting. I know, that sounds ridiculous - how can it "feel" shiney? But it does, trust me.

So far I have been able to avoid the urge to lick this sock, but I have caved in and rubbed it on my face. If I ever get another skein of Schaefer Anne, I think it will become a scarf. Yummmm!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sliding Head First into Insanity

I've joined the Yarn Harlot's 2006 Knitting Olympics. The challenge is to cast on only after the Olympic Flame has been lit, and finish your project (including sewing together, weaving in ends, and blocking, as required) before the Flame is extinguished. While watching the Winter Olympics - only 16 days!

Her suggestion is to challenge yourself, in the spirit of Olympic competition, and knit something bigger, more complex, and more impressive than you would normally be able to finish in that time - she states it way better than me in her blog write-up, but you get the point.

I've joined (see title above, which is a nod to one of the winter sports). I will be knitting one of two lace cardigans: The Filigree Lace Jacket, or the Angelina Vintage Jacket, from White Lies Designs. I can't commit to one yet, as I just ordered the patterns, and once they come, will be raiding my stash for appropriate yarn/yardage. We are allowed swatching in advance (considered "training"), so I expect a post or two about trying out potential yarns.

This will be a heck of a challenge - I usually have issues with completing projects, so to finish a full sized garment in just over two weeks will be, well, hard work. It will require dedication. Stick-to-it-ive-ness. Focus. Things that Olympic athletes have, and that I don't. Oy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I love the Warning Label Generator

Fun with website activities ... Warning Label Generator. Tee hee!

I'm toying with the idea of generating one for the bathroom door ... no, not that! Just a (gentle) reminder that in this house, the lid is always left DOWN after the flush. Why? Because there is nothing so nasty as fishing out a wet cat used to jumping up onto the normally closed toilet lid without looking.

More Reasons I Love my Husband

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my husband? Yes? Well, buck up and prepare for more. Sorry.

On Monday afternoon he left for Edmonton for a work related conference. Tuesday he called me "just to say Hi" at lunch, after the last meeting, and at bedtime. Wednesday was pretty much the same. Today, (Thursday), he just called to say he's making a run for it - wants to be home tonight, because he misses me. Aaaaah.

Although, it's just as likely that he misses his comfy chair, his furry feline lap rug, and the wife bringing him ice cream after dinner. Oh, and our really comfy bed (we have a great mattress, wonderful sheets, and a toasty warm but never too hot wool batted quilt on the bed, yes, I made it).

It doesn't matter why he's rushing home now. The only thing I'm worried about (aside from getting some more cleaning done before he gets home) is that the moose, elk, and deer stay off the road and away from his vehicle. Because I don't want him hurt. Oh, and maybe a little because he's driving my car. Which I've been without since lunch time Monday. And which I miss. But not as much as I miss my husband!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ThatLoganChick's Socks

The Sock Count:
I ended 2005 with 1 pair. Now I have (cough) 9 pairs.
DH ended 2005 with 7 pairs. He still has 7 pairs.

Huckleberry Trout:
- Finished: 25th of Feb, 2006 (3 days)
- Construction: Toe up, short row toe & heels, 56 stitches, increased to 64 for instep, then to 66 for 11 stitch pattern repeat on leg. Garter stitch cuff.
- Yarn: Little Lola from Schaefer, 100% superwash merino, sport weight (280 yards in 4 ounces, and I used almost all of it)
- Needles: 3.0mm Addi Turbo circ
- Stitch Pattern Detail: I used an 11 stitch chevron rib on the leg to break up the more obvious purple striping (mission successful - love the chevron pattern, and will use it again). The repeat was k2tog, k2, (k1,yo,k1)into next stitch, k2, ssk, p2, then knit the 9 pattern stitches on the alternate rounds, keeping up the p2 rib.
- Washing: not yet
- Comments: The Schaefer Little Lola is a great quick knit for socks - there is more in my stash, which I'm happy about, as it sells really fast, and is rather difficult to find. The chevrons on the leg took up a lot of yarn, and don't have much give, so from now on I will only use them with fingering weight yarns that have oodles of yardage. These shorter socks are comfortable and soft, but don't look good with my green Birkis. Oh well, they're Huckleberry Trout, so I love them anyway.

Safe Place Socks:
- Finished: 22nd of Feb, 2006 (10 days of intermittent knitting)
- Construction: Toe up, improved short row toe & heels (actually followed directions!), 60 stitches, up to 66 for instep, then to 72 for my calves, plain stocking stitch, 3x1 ribbed cuff
- Yarn: Soft Touch Heather in "Loganberry" from Shelridge Farms (a Canadian farm/yarn producer), 85% wool with 15% nylon, two 50g (175m) skeins. The yarn is a deep, dark aubergine, with heathered yellow, blue, and red (the primaries). I simply couldn't capture the beauty of this yarn on camera, but spend a lot of time staring at my socks in glee.
- Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbo circ
- Stitch Pattern Detail: none
- Washing: not yet
- Comments: I knitted until I was almost out of yarn (to see how far the skeins would go), and got really long socks. As I generally prefer my socks shorter (about 8" is good), I wear these in a slouch manner. They are my Safe Place Socks because they enabled me to retreat to a comfort zone when life and pressure around me got too hot to handle. I really like this Canadian yarn, and will be making more with this brand.

- Finished: 5th of Feb, 2006 (2 days, maybe 18 hours for the pair, which is really, really fast for me)
- Construction: Toe up, short row heels & toes, 51 stitches, lace front & back panels, 1x1 ribbing at top
- Yarn: Speed Demon in the Willow colourway, from Felicia (Sweet Georgia) at The Sweet Shop. This is a sport weight yarn, 100% superwash merino. Used all but 1/4 ounce of 4 ounce skein (the small ball in the photo is all that was left)
- Needles: 3.25mm Aero circular for magic loop (one at a time)
- Stitch Pattern Detail: lace pattern on back and front of leg, made up, 17 stitches wide
- Washing: maintained fabric integrity perfectly after machine washing & drying, and are very soft and squishy
- Comments: This yarn really is a speed demon. I pumped out the first sock on Friday, after finishing off the Butterscotch Curls that morning, then the second sock on Saturday. The yarn is extremely soft, so I am leary of how it will machine wash. I love the colour, and with the lace, these socks make me think Spring!

Butterscotch Curls:
- Finished: 3rd of Feb, 2006 (6 days to knit)
- Construction: Toe up, short row toes & heels, 67 stitches, lace back panel, 1x1 ribbing at top
- Yarn: 3.25 ounces of "Sock!" from Lisa Souza, hand dyed in the Pumpkin colourway. Sock! is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. The skein was 4 ounces (488 yards).
- Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbo for magic loop (both socks, one at a time).
- Stitch Pattern Detail: lace pattern on back of leg, over 23 stitches, from Barbara G. Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, pg 210, "Twin Leaf Lace". Love it!
- Washing: no blooming (already washed during the dyeing process). Machine washed and dried very well, with minimal halo and no pilling.
- Comments: I really like the lace pattern on the back of the leg, and will use this again. When I next knit with Sock! I will use a smaller needle (maybe 2.25mm) as I forgot there wouldn't be any bloom, and would like to see slightly denser fabric. The colour makes me want to bake something.

Flirting with Pink:
- Finished: 24th of Jan, 2006 (7 days to knit)
- Construction: Toe up, short row toes @ 72 stitches, increased to 80 stitches for instep, short row heel, 2x2 ribbing to shape ankle, picot edge cuff
- Yarn: 2.25 ounces of Schaefer "Anne" in one-off red mix. Anne is 60% merino superwash, 25% mohair, and 15% nylon, and is sold in 4 ounce skeins (560 yards). I used just over half of the skein for these ankle socks.
- Needles: 2.0mm Addi Turbo for magic loop (both socks, one at a time)
- Stitch Pattern Detail: none
- Washing: bloomed slightly after machine washing (gentle, cold) & drying with no fuzzing or pilling, making these the socks with the best record so far for holding up after machine washing & drying
- Comments: These socks feel terrific - smooth, soft, and warm. The yarn has less "spring" than pure wool, but does knit up very nicely. My gauge was 10.5 stitches per inch, and I had to increase by 8 stitches to comfortably fit my high instep. These are my first entries in the Red Hot Sizzling Socks KAL (see sidebar for link). I call them "Flirting with Pink" because I chose the yarn for the rich reds, was a bit surprised by how much the pink stood out when it was knitted, and became quickly enamoured by the yummy pink highlights. I hope to move beyond flirting, and actually knit with pink soon.

Feet a l'Orange:
- Finished: 16th of Jan, 2006 (6 days to knit)
- Construction: Short Row Toes & Heels, Toe up construction over 64 stitches, 72 stitches for calf, 2x2 ribbed cuff
- Yarn: slightly less than one 100g ball of Lana Grossa Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch, in colour #708
- Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbo for magic loop
- Stitch Pattern Detail: mostly plain stocking stitch, but with 2x2 rib up the back of the leg for shaping
- Washing: the wool bloomed nicely after being machine washed (cold, gentle) and dried (low heat)
- Comments: These are so soft! The yarn was very nice to work with, although a bit splity (three plies plus the stretchy center). The colour change was fun to watch, and what I found really entertaining is that if you look at my feet only, they look identical. Then, the colour shift changed on the leg. Apparently Mega Boots Stretch does not have a consistent colour repeat at all. Fun!

Carbon Steel Socks:
- Finished: 10th of Jan, 2006 (4 days to knit)
- Construction: Precursor Toes & Afterthought Heels, Toe up construction over 64 stitches, 68 stitches for calf, picot edge cuff
- Yarn: less than one skein of Socks that Rock in "Carbon" for the body, and less than half a 50g ball of Regia Stretch (steel blue) for toes & heels
- Needles: 2.5mm dpns for toes & heels, 2.5mm Addi Turbo for magic loop (body of both socks, one at a time)
- Stitch Pattern Detail: 2x2 garter stitch rib
- Washing: held up okay during machine washing and drying, but getting quite fuzzy (a halo has appeared after a few washes)
- Comments: had hoped for more pooling or flashing, but am happy with striping on legs. This was my first use of the "magic loop" construction, and went really fast. I will use the single circular needle knitting method again.

Winter Brights:
- Finished: 4th of Jan, 2006 (5 days to knit)
- Construction: Precursor Toes & Afterthought Heels, Toe up construction over 56 stitches, up to 62 for calf, 1x1 ribbed cuff
- Yarn: Sandnes SMART Superwash 100% wool DK weight(2 skeins varigated, half a skein of solid green for toes & heels)
- Needles: 2.75mm dpns (Aero Teflon coated)
- Stitch Pattern Detail: 3x1 garter stitch rib
- Washing: softened beautifully after machine washing & drying, but developing a slight halo with repeated washes
- Comments: an enjoyable, fast knit, but 2 balls of yarn would not have been enough to work a standard pair of socks. Loved the pooling!

Socks in 2005:
- DH socks (blue pair, charcoal with green, grey with red, charcoal with red, fuzzy feet)
Note: DH isn't so thrilled about posing his socked feet for photo shoots. Sorry.

Denim Camo:
- Finished: Dec 22nd, 2005(3 weeks to knit)
- Construction: Short Row Toes & Afterthought Heels, Toe up construction over 72 stitches, 3x3 ribbed cuff
- Yarn: 2 50g balls of Regia Stretch (colour 84), with plenty left over.
- Needles: 2.5mm dpns (Aero Teflon coated)
- Stitch Pattern Detail: 5x1 rib
- Washing: softened and bloomed nicely after machine washing & drying
- Comments: This was my first time working with sock weight yarn, and I learned that they relax a little after the first wash. I have since switched to using a 64 stitch foot. Love the colouration - they go really well with jeans, and have a "camoflauge" look to them. Will knit future socks a little longer in the leg.

I made a Button!

Yes, I'm still figuring all of this blog stuff out - but I think I made a button. If all goes well, I should be able to add buttons to my links list soon, and move a teeny step forward in this whole "using the internet" thing. Wooo Hooo!

Now I hope to bit by bit add linking buttons to my favorite blogs in the sidebar, and put my button there so people can link to me. Wild, just wild.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Precursor Toes

After much humming and hawing, I have decided to post about my new "unvention" (as Elizabeth Zimmerman says). Finding photographs of the Afterthought Heel online made a dramatic difference in how I approached sock knitting. I adopted that method immediately, and have used it in every sock since.

Not only do I love the way the Afterthought Heel fits, I also (and especially) love the versatility it brings to my sock knitting. Using an Afterthought Heel allows me to knit either top down or bottom up, to add as much patterning as I want, or to just do plain stocking stitch, without having to worry about any shaping.

Having made this dramatic change to my sock knitting approach then got me thinking: what if I took a similar approach to toes? So, the Precursor Toe was born. Now, I knit both toe areas before I start the body of my socks. I can pop them in my knitting bag, along with a circular needle for magic loop knitting, and go. When I'm ready, the fiddly bit (toe shaping) is already finished, and all I have to do is pick up the stitches and knit the sock body.

Yippee! Freedom from sock knitting stress! I knit the toes at home, one after the other, when I can pay attention to my knitting. The body is then knitted on the go (great for traveling), and I can knit until I have finished my yarn. Putting in the heels is the last step, and can again be done when I can apply my full attention to it. No more Second Sock Syndrome. No more trying to count toe or heel shaping from the first sock, and match it to the second, while distractions make attentiveness impossible. Easy Peesy, as my brother would say.

The Precursor Toe will now be my sock knitting method of choice. I love it!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Get yur Quiltin' While it's Hot!

Yup, we've got signs of quilting at Chez Logan. Piecing? Check. Sandwiching? Check. Pointed stippling? That too. Creation of not-actually-on-the-bias-bias-tape? Yup, plus application of fancy-schmancy computer generated stitching! Binding? Well, kind of... Of the eight placemats made, two are completely bound, and six are without covered edges. Oh my. They will be finished very, very soon. I swear.

This is a close up of one of the completed placemats, showing the pointed stippling I tend to use for heavily quilted pieces, plus highlighting the funky-ass fabric. This set of 8 placemats is for my Dad and his wife, both of whom are very into wine. They belong to the Epicurian (sp?) Society, and visit wineries whenever they travel. Right now they are really into Californian, New Zealand and Australian wines.

Once the placemats and matching runner (next Christmas, as agreed) are done, they can feature them next time they host a wine tasting.

While all of this was taking place, Bean held down the fort. Ummm, to be more accurate, she leaned against the design wall and prevented me from accessing the lower drawer of quilting thread. However, the massive cuteness of her napping positioning required that I leave her be, although she was subjected to photo taking.

On the don't-think-I've-forgotten-knitting front, we also have a completed pair of really bright socks. For me. Because if I tried to give them to DH, he'd have a coronary. Colour? Not for him, nope!

I will admit purchasing the yarn (Smart Superwash, dk weight, made in Norway) while in Jasper, and starting on them right away. Three socks were actually knitted, but only two remain. The first sock was painfully tight (only had 2.5mm dpns with me), so when I got home I frogged it and reknitted on 2.75mm dpns. And yes, I really, really like the pooling. I'm all about the pooling.

These socks (knitted toe up) took damn-near-all of one 50g skein of multi-colour per sock, but did give me socks in the length I like. See the teeny tiny skeins of multi-coloured yarn next to that sock? All I had left (one per sock). There was enough left over from the single skein of green that I used for toes and heels that I could have screwed up a bit, but not much. Maybe a heel and a half left. The green will make great stripes in yet another pair of charcoal grey spousal socks, though. Yippee for stripes!