Saturday, February 25, 2006

Huckleberry Trout

First things first: Happy Birthday to my Darling (Hot) Husband!

In the usual low key style of Casa de Logan, we're celebrating with food, laziness, and maybe some sex in the kitchen. Too much information? Sorry, just pretend I didn't say that.

And, as his birthday falls on a Saturday, DH is getting the birthday treatment for extra time this year. In fact, this morning over breakfast (a bowl of Cornflakes for me, seven pancakes with maple syrup, two sunny-side-up eggs, two slices of whole wheat toast, and home-made blackberry jam for him) he laid out the menu for the weekend. Yes, he had advised me the night before what he wanted for breakfast this morning (and got exactly what he asked for, thank you very much).

So, I went out for groceries and Scotch (picked up something scary called "The Peat Monster", a traditional vatted Scotch whiskey). I expect to spend pretty much the entire weekend in the kitchen (thus moving the "other" activities in there, with me - a time saver, and practical too, as the whipped cream is right there in the fridge...).

Oy. If nothing else stops my Dad from ready my blog, that paragraph ought to have done it. Sorry! ;-)

Okay, aside from eating and getting laid, this weekend is about sun (really, painfully bright) and snow (it's -20C here). DH shoveled the driveway and walk this morning, because he actually enjoys shoveling. I don't know, I think it has something to do with finally owning a home, instead of living in an apartment or a condominium.

I came back from grocery shopping mildly snowblind, and with a massive headache from the brightness - then proceeded to finish another pair of socks that positively screamed out to be photographed against the snow. Please excuse the poor colour resolution - again, I was blinded by the freaking sun bouncing off the freaking snow.

For some obscure reason I named them Huckleberry Trout. I don't know why. Maybe all the kitchen sex and snow blindness went to my head? Anyway, they are Huckleberry Trout.

Now, please excuse me, as I'm going to go and take an Advil so I can continue with the cooking and the putting out. Because I want to enjoy this weekend, too.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More of the New-ness

Remember my new Super-Birkis? Since I've had them for outdoor wear, I've noticed a lessening in the stiffness and discomfort of my lower back and my knees. Coincidence? I think not.

So, I searched around until I found the ultimate source for Birkis: an E-Bay seller in Germany, where Birkenstocks are made. I looked, I hummed, I hawed, and I ordered. And, of course, I chose the lime green. Then, just over a week later, my new Fun-Birkis arrived.

So, without further ado, I give you a peak at my new INDOOR Birkis. Note the really cool grip pattern on the bottom of the shoe (great for "aerating" the carpet), the great shaping for my high arches and insteps, the decent width for my ginormous feetsies, with room for hand knit socks. Since I've been wearing these indoors, my lower back issue has virtually vanished.

Plus, they are clogs, so slip on and off really easily, and are extremely lightweight. When I recline in my comfy chair (my naturally occurring position) I kick off the Birkis and admire my hand knit socks. When I'm upright and moving about (hey, it happens now and then - and usually involves the kitchen) I'm properly shod and supported, and minimize wear on the socks. Great all around.

For the sharp-of-eye, yes, those are new socks. Details in the usual place.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Two Stupid Things

In the past two weeks, I have done two stupid things. One of them has been public - I designed and am knitting, from scratch, a lace cardigan. In Rowanspun 4-Ply, which is an extremely light fingering weight, felted style wool. On 3mm needles.

For those of you that aren't regularly knitters, just know that this is a stupid, stupid thing to do. More than 89,000 stitches, NOT including collar, button bands, cuffs, and bottom border. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But, I love how it is looking so far, so will keep going. Plus, if I blog it, I kind of have to finish it, right?

Blah, blah - now onto the second of the Two Stupid Things. You know that hand-made king-sized wool-batted quilt I made for our bed? Yeah, the really big one. You know, the one I made in large pieces, quilted on my home machine, then attached together? With miles and miles and miles of hand binding? That one.

I washed it. In the washing machine. Even though it has a wool batt, shipped all the way here from Australia. A king-sized wool batt. Yup.

Okay, take a minute to recover. Breathe.

Then, I put it in the dryer. Yup. I was having a fit of "what the hell, I can always make another". I know, not logical from a primarily-knitting-now-former-quilter. But, again, what the hell.

Oh, you want to know what happened?

It's clean, has a lot less cat fur on it, and smells all fresh and Bounce-y. What, you thought I'd killed it? Geez, so did I. But, I guess the Goddess of all things lovingly Quilted was smiling down on my pure audacity. And, Bean has been using it as a sneak-attack-launch-tent for the last two days, while I had it hanging over the inside stairwell railing to allow for extra drying time (removed from dryer while still slightly damp - I'm stupid, but not idiotic).

Sometimes stupid works itself out. Hunh.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Under-Rated Art of the Block

AKA "Dressing - Really, Really Important"

It's the Knitting Olympics. We're halfway through our knitting time. I've fallen behind, and was beginning to panic. So, I did what any self-flagellating lace knitter will do for reassurance - I blocked.

The photo shows the two fronts of my lace cardigan: one blocked, one unblocked. I was hating this piece, and feeling all "woe is me" until I dressed/blocked one of the fronts. Boy, do I feel better now. All my math? All my measurements and calculations? Paid off, baby!

When I was designing the thing, I swatched my potential lace patterns, then washed and blocked each swatch to the same gauge (6 stitches and 8 rows per inch). This just made the planning easier. Now that the chosen designs have been knit together, I see that the Arrowhead Lace blocks a bit more openly than the Rose Leaf Insertion, but that's okay - I can still block it to my exact desired end dimensions. And it's purty!

Lace knitting is continuing, although this may be an end-of-February-beginning-of-March project. I calculated I'll be knitting just over 89,000 stitches, so I'm not terribly concerned about deadlines. Plus, I'm making a pair of comfy socks as well. Happy place socks, for when the lace is kicking my arse.

But now that I've blocked that one front, I'm all about the lace again.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Almost Ready...

The training yesterday went really well. Many different lace stitch patterns were swatched, washed, and blocked, and the final decision was made as to which patterns would be featured in my cardigan. The winners are the Rose Leaf Insertion (from a Barbara Abbey book), and Arrowhead Lace (from a Barbara G. Walker book).

I swatched plain stocking stitch, too, to see how it looks stretched out to the stitch and row count I want from the lace - not so hot. However, the stocking stitch regions are relatively small, and not in obvious locations (under the arms to incorporate shaping increases, and under the collar to take it from a square neckline to a round neck).

I haven't nailed down the collar design yet, nor the button bands, cuff and bottom edging, but will work on that today.

The winning buttons (a number auditioned, but the winner stood out immediately) were chosen, and required some mathematics to fit only six buttons along a 22" button bar. Skeins of yarn were wound into cakes, and I really feel on track, timewise.

The only thing I see causing calamity at this point is Ojo. She's here for the day again (I'm a reliable dog-sitter), and is in a chewing/exploring/destruction mode. Already she has shredded one glove (too small for anyone in this house, so not a loss), three sheets of paper (including one of my calculations - Doh!), and one skein of Socks that Rock in Pebble Beach. That last one has me REALLY steamed, so the dog is in the garage right now on a time out. Oh, and she did some damage to me as well, with a nifty scratch/bruise combo.

However, she is making sure I get plenty of fresh air and exercise, as I've already taken her for three walks today (small dog, small bladder, don't want to clean up a mess).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olympic Training

I'm a little behind.

A few weeks ago, when I first signed up for the Knitting Olympics, I picked a project for which I already had appropriate yarn, ordered the pattern, swatched in both stocking stitch and the pattern, test washed and blocked my swatches, and figured I was ready to go. So, I stopped training.

Today, I stroked and cuddled the swatches, then gave the pattern a thorough read through. WTF? The sexy, curvy, feminine shaped cardigan I had fallen in love with online is actually knitted completely without any shaping! The curvy lines shown on the photo were artificially arranged for the photo session! Apparently there is some sort of tie or clip on the back pulling the waist in and giving the illusion of tailoring.

Well, sh!t, I could have designed the thing (all one lace pattern, extremely simple, and only two pattern rows to remember). The whole reason I bought it was because it looked shaped! I was suckered by a sneaky photo stylist!

There is no way I'm wasting my Olympic Knitting time on a shapeless, simple, and extremely repetitive knit. Nope. This is supposed to be a challenge of Olympic proportions! I want to stretch my knitting muscles, and try something new.

With only two and a half days left to the starting pistol, I need to find something else, right now! So, every knitting book, magazine and pamphlet in the house is strewn around my work space. Piles of crumpled paper entertain the cats. Needles in assorted sized threaten to skewer me whenever I turn around.

I've swatched about nine different lace patterns, and a few cables as well. Over a dozen yarns have been pulled out, test knitted, then tossed across the room with despair. But, I've finally chosen my yarn, swatched a few stitch patterns, and selected needle size and type.

So now, I need to narrow down the item to be knitted, and design details thereof. I definitely want lace, but would like to see a number of different but coordinating lace patterns put together. But what lacey thing to knit? It's a neck and neck race between a cardigan and a rectangular stole, with occasional thoughts of a Faroese style shawl. But I need to decide, and decide now!

After re-reading the Design section of Sharon Miller's Heirloom knitting, and spending hours pouring through every stitch pattern book I own, I ended up with a page listing nearly two dozen stitch patterns I really want to try. Then I sorted them by row repeat count, stitch repeat count, and garter versus stocking stitch lace. Oy. I whittled the list down to about a dozen, then charted them all in Excel to make the actual knitting process more intuitive.

Then, I pulled out the sweater that fits me the best both length and ease-wise, and measured it laying flat. From that, I drew a scale model of a cardigan, with dimensions. I already knew what size of rectangular stole I would knit if I went that way, so decided my decision would be made based on the number of square inches of knitting (brilliant, eh?).

As the scan shows, um, ah, my cardigan design is EXACTLY THE SAME number of square inches of knitting as a 24" by 72" stole. How friggin' freaky is that?

So, I'm putting together a pros and cons list for each item, and hoping that will narrow down the decision. Until I've decided, though, I think I'll swatch a few more of the lace patterns I like, to ensure they are reasonably knittable (ie - already dropped Germaine Stitch from the roster due to cables, thus the need for a cable needle, which I only have one of right now, and regularly loose).

The training continues. My goal is to have the decision (cardigan versus stole) made by the end of the day tomorrow. Crossing my fingers.

Later Edited to Add:
For those as mathematically inclined as me, I ran the numbers: 6 stitches per inch times 8 rows per inch = 48 stitches per square inch. At 1728 square inches (both the stole and the cardigan - again, very very very freaky), that means 82,944 stitches. I just did a little mouth vomit when that number came up on the calculator. Oy.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Another Weekend, Another Post

Happy Saturday!

The sun is shining, the Bean is napping, and all is well in the world. Well, kind of. Bean has apparently buried herself in the loveseat. See the mini-quilt on the back of the chair in the corner? That's her usual sleeping spot (the quilt can be removed if we have company, so making for super-quick cat hair cleanup). Today, however, she has chosen a different place. Hmmm - are we noisy? Smelly? Or does she just enjoy napping inside furniture?

On the nap count, here you can see that DH is busy doing his Saturday duty - relaxing after a long and stressful week at work. Oh, and holding up the Peanut while she naps. Just below his arm is the TV remote, but he has it set on The History Channel, as usual.

There is, however, a little deception going on here - it's only DH who is napping, while Peanut is giving me the evil eye, attempting to control me and my silly need to take photos. I'm pretty sure the message is something along the lines of "F*ck off, dammit! I only get him weekends and evenings, so don't you blow this for me!"

On the work front, I hate working. It's not so much the work (although that is rather frustrating in itself) as it is the whole spending time around people thing. Have I mentioned that I'm not good around people? Most people don't know it (I can cover really well for maybe four hours, tops) but I have pretty serious social anxiety. Even medicated (better living through chemistry) I start to melt down when forced to endure group activities (like working in a trailer with a bunch of other dedicated professionals).

It's kind of silly, because I used to only melt down when in the presence of large crowds or extreme idiots. Sadly, the melt down-ish-ness has spread to even small groups of decent folk. Sigh. So, after three days of work, I've chickened out. Whether or not I go back will depend on the visit to my doctor, Monday.

While I was hiding at home this past week, I socked some more. Behold a new and truly fabulous (if I may say so myself) pair of Butterscotch Curl socks! Details, as usual, in the gallery-o-socks. Note the use of a lace pattern on the back of the leg - now that I'm a clog wearing chick, I'm suddenly putting my focus behind me. Hmmm. That last phrase works on a lot of levels for me. ;-)