Thursday, January 31, 2008

Going to Pot(s)...

I am a bit of klutz. I still regularly had skinned knees (from trips and falls) well into my 30's--the good news about this, is over many years of falling, I am good at falling..

I rarely seriously hurt myself when I fall –I have twice broken bones, (once in right foot, once in my left shoulder) but considering how many time and how spectacularly I have fallen, it's impressive I haven't broken more bones.

Unfortunately, in addition to falling, I drop things.
Glasses, coffee cups, pots, pans, plates, you name it, I've dropped it.
This month alone I managed to drop--and break-- a coffee mug, my favorite 16 oz. water glass and glass pot lid.

The last item really annoyed me. It was for one of my favorite pots.. one that is just the right size.. and glass lid made it easy to check on foods (like rice) with out lifting the lid and releasing the steam.

Yesterday, for a lark, a friend and I went to Ikea for breakfast. One reason for the trip was we both had batteries that needed to be recycled-- while Radio Shack has a battery recycle bin, we always finish breakfast before Radio Shack opens—and Radio Shack is, for both of us, located on a block we rarely other wise walk on! So it was easier to drive to Ikea, each with our sack of dead batteries.

After breakfast, we walked through Ikea.

He keeps making noises about selling his apartment and moving into a less expensive one.. and every time he semi puts his current apartment on the market, he is disappointed—every likes it, but thinks it is over priced.

It is a nice apartment--but it has no sizzle. He's a practical guy, and still has a 20 year old dish rack on the counter. Its perfectly serviceable, but its dingy. Like wise he has some jury-rigs shelves for spice and what not.. Serviceable, but no sizzle.

I keep telling him, people buy the sizzle not the steak, and he should invest in some new kitchen accessories.. (an new counter top too, since the 40 year old one is worn out.)

We walked through the IKEA, and looked at kitchen ideas. He began finally to get my point.

He took home a kitchen catalog to plan (in theory) some improvements.

I've been friends with this guy for 10 years or so. In those 10 years, I've moved 4 times.. and he's spent the 10 years talking about moving, I suspect he'll think about improving his apartment a few more years--and about selling it and moving even longer!

Still if in Ikea, it necessary to check the clearance/as is room.

And what did I find, but a set of pots, (stainless steel, with a thick heat distributing aluminum on the bottom—with glass lids. I would have been happy with just 1 pot (and one lid) but the set of 3 pots/2 lids was $5.00. 1 pot of this quality normally retails for 3 times what this set was selling for! Of course there were issues.

One pot handle was broken (and needed to be crazy glued back together), and one lid was missing a knob.. But.. being a pack rat, I had actually kept the knob from the I broke—so the knobless lid was fine by me!

So the set is not quite matching.. The smallest pot lacks a lid, the largest of the set (just a 2 quart pot, not a very large at all!) has a mismatched knob. I now have 2 very nice pots with glass lids. (for very little money!) Honestly, with the addition of these 3 pots, I think I now own more pots (with just myself to cook for) than I did when I was cooking for a family!

Meanwhile, here is the next face cloth--still on the needles.

Pretty, isn't it? Yet another bamboo yarn—I planned to knit some baby thing with this (I also have a solid blue and solid pink) but that baby is well on the way to toddler-hood--so that ship has sailed!

This is the first of set of 4 more or less matching ones—still to come, a solid blue one, a solid pink one, and striped one—using up the left overs from the first 3, since each skein doesn't seem big enough to make 2 face cloths.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I can see for miles and miles...

24 hour later.

1 more face cloth. (another already on needles)
30 inches of my bit of the mile knit.
And some musing on miles.

1 mile 5280 feet.
10% of a mile = 528 feet
1% of mile = 53 feet
0.1% of mile 5.3 feet.
0.05% of a mile =30 inches or so.

Not much is it?

Miles are funny things, we measure them (on high ways, and odometers), but do we really travel by them? Not really—Well maybe Air Miles.

We really we travel in time.

Last night, traffic was light, and it only took me 20 minutes to get home, (about 20 miles--but that is a guess. I really don't know exactly how many miles I travelled!)

Most of it was on the I-495, (which is posted for 55MPH speed limit) but I traveled with traffic --not so much speeding but following a pace car 5 seconds in front of me—which meant for the most part I did 65MPH. (Yes, I admit it, I speed.)

But isn't it more common to define distance by time, not miles?
Places are close (5 minutes drive) or near by, (15 to 20 minutes drive) or 'a drive' (about an hour's drive a way) or pretty far (2 to 4 hours drive (or more!)

Europe (or the other coast of US) is a 6 hour plane ride; Japan, a grueling 18 hour plane ride!

On the other end of the scale, a mile is 20 blocks or so (in Manhattan's regular grid-work.)
In Queens and the rest of the world? Well a mile is about 20 minutes walk, maybe only a 15 minute walk.

Most adults walk about 3 miles an hour, NY'ers tend to be fast walkers.. and average 4 miles an hour--but NY'ers aren't alone in being fast walkers.

There are other ways to look at a mile.. 1 mile, at 60 mph, is 88 feet per second.
(Which is why you really need 3 to 5 seconds of space between you and the car in front/behind you!--I might speed, but I strive to drive safely!)

At the speed of knitting, 24 hours (well really, 4 hours of so of knitting) =0.05% of a mile.
8 hours =1%, 80 hours =10%, 800 hours =100% --or about 33 days (and nights!) of knitting.

(Of course, other knitter's mileage might vary!)

Monday, January 28, 2008

What have I been doing?

Lots of different things...

More face cloths for 1 (or is that for 4?) 3 done, 1 on needles

(With lots more soy, bamboo and cotton in my stash that is crying out to be knit up)


Regia Silk color.. I am a bit disappointed with this yarn.. It was purchased at Imagiknit's when I was in SF back in November, (and the price was right!--since it was in the clearance bin.)

I can see why now that I am working..
It feels great, (better than great, I am looking forward to wearing theses socks!) and the socks are bound to be wonderful..

But I am less than satisfied with the Regia self striping.. (and would have be VERY UNHAPPY if I paid full price!) I generally trust yarn stores (and yarn store owners/employee's) to be honest (and Imagiknit's was very fair and honest. )

There is always a reason a yarn is discontinued.. when a yarn store discontinues carrying a yarn, it's likely because there is a problem..

(and I when I shop 'sale/discount' bins, I expect a problem.. and the bigger the discount, the more of problem I expect.) So I hold Imagiknit's blameless, (the low price was a sure indicators that something was up!)

The problems is the stripes.. the colors are not long enough to make a nice stripe. But enough of that.. (or perhaps more later with a photo detailing what i am unhappy with)

Finally, just days since I said I wouldn't—I am...
To wit:
1 ball of Lion Brands Vanna yarn in mustard yellow, to knit a few feet of the mile.. If you don't know what I am talking about read all about it--Just 1 balls worth--as many feet as that will be.

I haven't started yet.. but..I will tonight..

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Details, details

OK I admit it, when I was a new knitter, I hated to knit swatches.

And Yes, I know (heard tell) Swatches LIE. --which is not quite true, swatches always tell a portion of truth.. (the lie by omission, rather than commission)

As I got older, I came to love knitting swatches.

Not that I always swatches for a project I was about to knit, but just swatches.

Knitting swatches just for swatching sake still teach you things.

You can learn to read patterns.
Or learn new techniques.

You can experiment with edges. (there are edges besides the ubiquitous chain stitch for the selvage!)
Or practice different cast ons.

You can learn about the properties of a type of yarn (wool or linen, or cotton, or what ever).
Or practice with a specific yarn, until you understand how to work with it.

You can do stuff you know, like garter stitch, or ribbing, or stocking knit stitch.
Or you can learn stuff about how these stitches interact.

You can call these bits of practice knitting swatches.
Or you can call them wash clothes (I never knit dish clothes.. only wash clothes)

Take cast on's...
I Love a tubular cast on...
BUT look here—you'll see why it is a great edge when followed by 1 X 1 Ribbing, and only so-so when followed by stocking knit.

In sprong-ee wool, a channel island cast on is a delightful tight picot.

In soy silk (a semi natural vegetable fiber) or in other vegetable fibers, it's much less impressive,( but still quite nice.)

Knitter often look for matching cast on/bind off methods..
and over look I-Cord –or a tubular cast on, and matching tubular bind off.

Why learn these techniques on a special project? Learn on a swatch!

Or edgings...

There are dozens of 'experts' who push the idea of a chain stitch for a selvage everything.

There are lots of selvages “stitches” --I-cord is often over looked –and more overlooked is simple double knitting.

Both of these techniques are ways to “knit in the round” while working with straight needles.

In theory, they are identical. (they both create 'tubes' of knitting)
In reality, they knit up very different..
I-cord makes a curved edge, (it rounds over), simple double knitting makes a very flat edge.

And while everyone knows (or should know!) stocking knit curls, Cables don't!
(think it's a trick of the fiber? See the same edging here, or here.(felted)
Cables are an underutilized edge treatment--all too often they are bordered by garter or other edges.. Why?
Why not just use a cable edge to a garter stitch scarf --rather than a garter stitch edge to cabled scarf?

Or just really get (grok!) how knits and purls interact.
When you set up knits and purls in vertical columns, the KNIT are most prominent. (think of ribbing)
But when you set up knits and purls in horizontal rows, the purls are most prominent (think of garter stitch)

You knew that.. but did you ever really think about it?
Or swatch and analyze it?

When if you switch from ribbing to garter, or from stocking knit to garter or from stocking knit to reverse stocking knit or to seed or to (–a host of other knit and purl patterns), these characteristic are going to be part and parcel of the designs!

Persnickitiness in the details make simple stuff, Excellent.
And why not learn the detail with a swatch? Even if you call the swatch a wash cloth?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Done At Last!

I have been knitting a scarf—the Ruffle Scarf (Amanda Brown—in Scarf Style) since forever.. OK-- just since mid November. It's finished now—at 80 or so inches.. (more than 6 feet long, but not 7!)

2 meters, almost precisely, on my meter stick--thought the finished length was determined by the yarn—not by the meter stick.

I don't own a yard stick, I own a meter stick that is notated in inches.. (OK, it has cm, and mm marks too, but I still tend to use the inches.)--It's not my Yard stick--it is, correctly called my meter stick(on which i mostly measure inches and yards!)

I uses every inch of 4 skeins of Mode Dea Bamboo--(55% bamboo rayon/45%wool) 2 each of the Bamboo and Celery color ways. I really like this yarn. Soft, nice hand, nice colors.

In the same time, I've knit 3 hats, a shawl, a sweater for an American Doll, a half dozen wash clothes, some swatches.. LOTS of knitting.

I do it time and time again.. I SWEAR I will never knit another scarf—and some how, one wiggles it way into my heart, and I start again.

I HATE knitting scarves.. What every novelty the pattern might have, it's gone long before the scarf is half finished.. and then it's just tedium.

I know it and I am not about to embark on another scarf.. but I am torn.

A Knitter/an Artist I know/know of is involved in a project and needs help.. she is doing an installation project (Installation project =Artist short hand for acts of insanity)

Part of the project involves knitting a mile of, for all intent and purposed,what is a scarf. That is 5280 feet of scarf. (I grow weary at 3 feet, but using hold out and make at least 6 feet.. (that would be 5274 short!)

She has some helpers-- 25, I think, at last count—Do the math..5280 feet/25 knitters=211 feet of scarf per helper. (that is not help, that is a commitment-- for me, that kind of commitment =mental health institutes sort of commitment!)

But like all artist, she is slightly insane (and quite happy about it) She has hundreds of skeins of yarn, and few helpers, to knit, not 6 or 8 feet of scarf, but hundreds of feet of scarf.. (which of course will need to be sewn or grafted together.. and (Oh, did I forget to mention this?) and embellished.

Many of us have been following the Yarn Harlots' adventures with little leaves. (little thing, lovely little things.) but Robyn, is knitting by the mile.

Well, at some point, as the yards and meters of knitting arrive, I might commit to joining them into the mile long piece for the installation (My compulsive behavior runs to persnickety details, (like grafting) not to Miles of knitting.

But in the meanwhile, even if you, too, have no intention of knitting part of mile for the project, do read about it, and be sure to check out today's entry on her blog, and watch the You Tube clip..You might not be moved to working a couple of hundred feet of knitting, but you'll have a smile on your face!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stealing –Caught Again!

This idea is stolen (out right!) from Colette, a member of my LICKnit group—you can also find Colette on Ravelry as KnitWitch.

I LOVED it..
Don't you just love shawl pins? And don't you just hate the price of them?

Well, find those cracked, broken, bent orphan bamboo needles—you know the ones—they are so expensive, you hate to discard, but after sitting on them or knitting when upset, you managed to, if not out right break them in half, ruin them for knitting—and turn then into shawl pins.

Don't have any broken bamboo DPN's (or straights) sitting around?—go buy some!

Even if you went out and bought
--a set of 5 DPN's (clovers say!)........$9.00
2 or 3 Tubes of craft paint..................$4.00
Buttons (in a bag, or fancy ones).......$10.00
Total......................................................$23.00—(let's round that up to $24.00)
(It could be more, --or frequently, LESS depending on sales/discount coupons, and your choice of buttons.)

This will make 6 short (3.5 inch ) and 2 long (6 inch) shawl pins.. or 8 pins total –at about $3 or less—per shawl pin.. If you have some broken DPN's, it could be less—you could just recycle the broken bamboo's.

And you'll still have lots of paint, (and perhaps lots of buttons!) left over for other crafts.

I used black, metallic gold and metallic silver paint--but other solid colors, and pearlized or other fancy paints could be used –the choice depends on your taste, your buttons, your shawls...(and maybe the colors of craft paint you already have on hand from some other project!)

1--Paint the needle (I used DPN's, but a broken straight needle would work too!)with the solid base coat.

I just stuck the needle into the paint, and then smeared of the excess with a paper towel--don't try for even coverage-- just cover most of the needle with base coat.

2--Then repeat with 2nd coat-- again, smear the paint, covering most but not all of the base coat—this time use metallic, pearlized or other fancy paint.

Find a shanked button (actually you should check and see which size needle best fits the shank, before you paint!) for the decorative part of the pin.

4--Cut the needle to size (in half, or longer) what ever works for you. If it was broken, trim the broken end to a neat blunt end.

5--Stick the painted needle into the shank, add a drop of glue –or easier, use a drop of craft paint as a glue.
Viola! A beautiful shawl pin—for if not pennies, a reasonable price.

They make great hat pins too!

The bamboo needles have a sharp enough/dull enough point to use on your knitting, The smeared paint is smooth enough/textured enough to slid through knitting, and not slip out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hat's On!

The double knit hat done.. with the Ruffle Scarf (Amanda Brown, featured in Scarf Style) .



and inside out!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hats offs...

My obsession with knit hats shows no sign of going away.. (I have in my head, a rather extensive queue of hats I plan to knit!)

First up is the -almost successful—Acorn hat. This is a second go at Norah Gaughen's

Sunflower Tam pattern, from her book, Knitting Nature, with more changes.. the outer edge has an extra set of “half” leaves, (bringing the total up to 16, (NOT a Fibonacci number--but still attractive and natural looking. )

The transitional shaping (from top/crown to sides/brim) is OK, but not exactly what I envisioned.. (that's what comes of starting hats at night, when tired!)

Right now, another hat is on needles.. this is a double knit one, sort of a companion to my first version of Amanda Brown's “Ruffles” scarf (from Scarf Style)--which I made back in November of 2006. The solid blue looks lighter in the scarf image, but that is a trick of the light, the green background and my lack of skill with color corrections! The hat is actually being knit with partial skeins left over from the scarf--so its not just the same color, its the same dyelot!

The Yarn is Lion Brand Lion Wool, in color navy (the solid) and Autumn Sunset, (the colorway). the first few inches will be a fold back cuff, the top will have a wave/ruffle sort of fair isle design.

And since one project is never enough, there is a second version of the Ruffles scarf on needles.. (this scarf is pretty, but endless!) It has taken forever, (it was started more than 6 weeks ago) and is is now at 75% or so completed, and sapping the life out of me.

Still it is very pretty.. (and I love the bamboo/wool blend yarn) more on that when its is finished

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

1st of the Month Free-be-- Tube Socks

This is a top down tube sock, knit in spiral pattern that is especially suited for tube socks.
The stitch pattern, by its nature, is less likely to bunch up at the ankle, the round toe makes its easy to turn the sock each time its worn.

The original sock was made from French sock yarn in my stash, Chanteleine “Chaussette” a French yarn that has 20WPI –very similar in weight to Kroy Sock Yarn.

The design, is a bit lacy and very stretchy, making it an easily adjustable sock—If you have a larger (wider) foot and calf, make the tube longer, if you have a narrow foot and calf, shorter! This pattern is great for children and their fast going feet!

This pattern is presented here, for your use, and it is not to be copied, reprinted, or distributed in any form, with out the express permission.

Sugar Cane Tube Socks

The stitch pattern is a variation of “Barley Sugar” (original found in Mon Tricot)

1 set 4 double pointed needles; or 2 circulars –Size 3(US)/3.75mm

2--50 gram balls of sock yarn–(175 yards)—Green/grey tweed
1--50 gram ball of sock yarn (175 yards) solid green
---(only about ½ a ball is needed)

Yarn used: Chanteleine's “Chaussette”

Gauge:--in stocking knit—8 stitches to inch

Using solid green, Cast on 61
I used a German twist cast on--(but feel free to use cast on of your choice)
Join into round, joining first stitch and last stitch together to close round. (60 stitches)

Divide the stitches on the needles—18/18/24—or if using 2 circulars, 30/30--Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

Work in 1 X 1 ribbing for 1¼ inches

Next round, Knit every stitch.

Change to green/grey tweed, and start pattern:

Round 1: *SSK, k3, YO, K1--(6 stitch pattern)-- repeat 9 more times per round.
---for a less lacy effect, use another M1 increase.

Round 2: Knit every stitch

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 till sock measures 14 inches-or about 1 and half inches shorter than the desired length.

Switch back to solid green yarn, shape toe:
Place markers after stitches: 12, 24, 36, 48 stitches (in addition to round marker)

Toe is worked in stocking knit stitch.

Round 1: Decrease 1--make 1 SSK, after each marker (5 stitches decreased)

Round 2: Knit every stitch
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until 25 stitches remain.

Change Pattern-Repeat Round 1 (decreasing every round) till 5 stitches remain, (switching to double pointed needles--if not already using)--as desired.

Bind off last 5 stitches by breaking yarn and threading the tail through the last 5 stitches. Tighten drawstring, secure, weave in tail. (Make 2)
Finish sock by weaving in all tails.
Block as desired.

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