Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sweaty September Ending

Can you believe this?

My poor little weather pixie was completely unprepared - no sunscreen or shades, not even an emergency pint of Ben & Jerry's.  But can you blame her?  It's the last day of September.  I mean, living in Southern California you don't expect crisp fall weather or brilliantly colored autumn leaves.  But 90 degrees Fahrenheit just before 3pm?  Gimme a break! Please?

I had planned to walk down to the LYS this afternoon and share my progress on the hat I'm knitting with the yarn I purchased there.  But I've stepped outside twice in the past hour and each time the words, "holy crap" popped out and I popped back inside to boost the fan speed.

It's a good thing I decided to knit up this hat in cotton yarn, because it's really about the only thing I can stand to be working on today.  And in honor of this heat wave, I've dubbed it the "Sweaty September Tam".  But I think I'll wait till later in the week to visit the LYS.  They don't have air-conditioning either, but I think my fan is bigger!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Attacking, Just Hatting

Even though I had a good experience overall with the last Hat Attack competition, I decided to sit this one out.  With assignments due and exams looming, I felt like I had enough deadlines in my life right now and adding any more pressure would be just, well...stupid.  Priorities, you know?

It was interesting to watch from the sidelines.  I could be wrong, but it seemed just a little more tame this year, not as much smack talk going on.  And really, that's almost the best part!  Last year one of the main attractions for me was that the hat pattern used for the competition was designed for Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride.  This year it was designed for one of SWTC's new yarns Therapi. I haven't seen it any stores that I visit and I'm hearing mixed reviews about the yarn - let me know if you've got some input!

But I do miss the hat knitting a bit.  Hats are almost as portable a project as socks and have the advantage of being singular - you don't have to knit two of them to be done!  I have plenty of patterns in my queue and lots of great wool in the stash.  But in my corner of the world it's still too warm to be knitting with worsted weight wool.  One of the patterns at the top of my list for a while has been Cass Long's Chicken Tam.  The pattern calls for Berocco Love It, a cotton and acrylic yarn, and when I saw that my local yarn shop had it in stock, I figured this was just meant to be.

Ahhhhh yesss.....a hat on the needles again - feelin' good!

I would have liked to try this in a solid so the lacy stitch pattern shows up more, but the shop only had the multis in stock, and only two colorways of that.  I ended up choosing the same one that Cass used, simply because it had the most potential to possibly ever match anything I wear! The yarn is nice though, very easy and comfortable to knit with and I'd definitely use it again for warm weather knitting.

Since taking that photo I've completed one full repeat of the stitch pattern with one more to go, and then I launch into the decreases.  So far it's knitting up quickly and the pattern is simple and flawless. But whether or not it fits my strange pointy little head is, of course, anyone's guess!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just wait long enough..

and people will surprise and impress you.  That's what he said. 

"when you’re pissed off at somebody and you’re angry at them, you just haven’t given them enough time" -- Jon Snoddy, quoted by Randy Pausch in the "The Last Lecture".

I don't mind admitting that as much as I appreciated Mr. Pausch's talk, I just had a problem with that part. I mean, I figured, hey once an asshole always an asshole - yesterday, today and tomorrow. But I'm staying open to new ideas.

And I'm glad I did.  Because it worked.

This past weekend was the island's 50th Annual Festival of Art.  Earlier in the week someone asked me for a little help during the event, offering a sort of barter arrangement.  My help now in exchange for some sort of future help in return.  I had no idea what that assistance might be (Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me...) because really - if you're a plumber, or an electrician, or some kind of handyman oh yeah, I can think of plenty of things I need, but this time? No clue.  But they hit me on a good day, when I was in a good mood, and it was a small thing that could make a big difference.

Come the day the small thing turned into a hellacious big freaking job.  And it was entirely clear that it could have been prevented.  However, I'm just not the kind of person that can say "whaaa whaaa this is not what I signed up for and too much for little me" and walk away.  I just put my head down, channel the Energizer Bunny, and git 'er done.  After Day 1 I was exhausted and more than just a little angry.  I had some downtime, and spent far too much of it feeling irritated.  But I made an agreement, and just because someone else has let their side of an agreement slide, somehow I can't NOT fulfill my part, if it is still at all possible for me to do so. So I went back on Day 2, to complete the job.

And was pleasantly surprised to find that my extreme efforts to compensate for other failures were recognized and appreciated.  The words - admitting, apologizing - helped.  But beyond words, there was a change in plans to ensure that Day 2 was not a repeat of Day 1, a nice thank-you gift, and best of all  - a paycheck.  I learned a few lessons over the weekend, but all in all, I walked away feeling good about it.

So maybe there's something to this waiting thing.  I seriously doubt it usually comes around this quickly!  But I'm willing to keep trying. And I'm still open to new ideas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'll just flash you some yarn

In the hope that will distract you from the fact that I appear to have fallen off the wagon yet again, it's actually been a full week since my last post.  Never mind my failings in the blog department, let's just talk about yarn, okay?

Since I have plenty of yarn in the stash already, I am truly making an effort to focus on finding patterns that I want to knit with the yarn I already have.  And if I buy any new yarn, it's only when I already have a specific pattern in mind for it.  No "ohhh isn't that pretty/shiny/fun" impulse buying!

Working with the Lorna's Laces on the Artichoke socks has taught me new swear words the value of thinner yarns in that they make it possible for me to knit up a 64 stitch pattern exactly as written and still get a wearable sock. There are two such patterns I've been interested in for quite a while, Nutkin and Embossed Leaves (sorry, rav-link). With that in mind, I purchased this on my last trip overtown:

Lorna's Laces in Gold Hill. Right now the Embossed Leaves pattern is leading, because I sort of imagine those colors to be like autumn leaves.  Can you see it?

In further attempts to be practical in my yarn stash enhancement, I also bought this:

Cascade Heritage sock yarn.  Why yes, as a matter of fact it IS a very boring pale cream color, thankyouverymuch.  I did say I was being practical, didn't I?

No seriously, I've got an idea for a sock pattern using a two-color design I saw in a stitch dictionary (which is how most sock patterns are born apparently) and this is the main color I want to use.  Now I just have to keep my eyes peeled for a sock yarn of similar weight that has colors I want for the contrasting color. I'm thinking ocean colors, the full range - blues, greens, purples. Something that, for the love of all that is holy, does not bleed. Kind of like this:

But in a sock yarn.  Which that is not.  Unfortunately.  Suggestions?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The bear facts

Way back in February while at Stitches West I met some of the wonderful folks from The Mother Bear Project.  You can click through the link and explore their site for more information, but I don't know if it'll grab you the way it does when you meet these people in person, and they explain why and how it started. But it hooked me and I was fortunate enough to meet Amy Berman, the organization's founder.  That's her in the center of the picture.

Their booth was simple enough, a display of some of the wonderful bears created by those contributing to the project, info on the Mother Bear Project, photos of adorable children holding their new bears, and one teensy tinsy extra feature - a couple of tables and chairs, yarn, needles - the chance to plop down right then and there and start knitting on a bear.  Well, gee...a convention full of knitters, what do you think they're going to want to do when they get tired of roaming the exhibit hall and want to rest their feet awhile? I was an easy mark.

My starter bear from that afternoon went on to be completed by some other passing knitter, lured in by the Mother Bear Project people in their cute sweatshirts & red Converse sneakers, but before the weekend was over I had purchased a copy of the pattern with the full intent to start knittin' on bears when I got home.  And a few weeks later I dug into the acrylic yarn stash and cast on.  I happily followed the pattern and it really knit up quickly.  Then suddenly - it was time to sew it up & stuff it.  I stalled.  I could try using the excuse that you can't buy polyfil stuffing where I live, but the truth is I just hate seaming.  So the poor bear went into hibernation.

The sock knitting flourished, I cranked out a few other random charity items, and a couple of unique projects for close friends.  But still the bear slept on, waiting for the day when my guilt would get the better of me.  That day finally arrived.

May I present, Monsieur L'Orange:

Bonjour!  Tu viens ici souvent?

I don't know why he is French, I just know that it is so.  And I could be wrong, but I think he needs a girlfriend.  What do you think?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

There was a Plan, but then there was a Puddle

Yesterday I got up early and started charging around.  I had a Plan and I was gettin' things done.  But then suddenly there was a Puddle.  In a place that a Puddle could be, but not at the time a Puddle should be.  So with timing more of an issue than location, source became a serious concern.  Which dealt the final death blow to my Plan, the one that had nothing do with mysterious puddles, or plumbers, or cracked waste pipes, or stepping in sewage.  It was a good Plan though, and I'll miss it.

And I had a plan for my Q in the ABC-along.  It was also a very fine plan. Very unique and interesting.  So much so that I find myself unwilling to let go of it and scramble around for a substitute Q now that access to the original has been problematic.  Not impossible - just requiring a tad bit more stealthiness that I'd originally expected.  It should have been simple - just drive up, point, focus, press the button, and drive away.  But things have changed, a road was closed, and I'm not up to hiking in the heat, so at least for now - no Q for you!

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Summer of Socks '08

So with the close of Summer of Socks '08, besides the Broadripple socks I finished in July, I'd like to present all the socks I completed this summer:

Ta dah! My Alki Reflection socks using the Vertical Waffle pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks.  Yep, that's it - one whole pair!  But they are bee-yoo-tee-full and I love them.  I struggled to find the perfect pattern and the effort was so worth it.  Unfortunately, this picture doesn't show the lovely colorway as well as I'd like.  It's really more like this:

Pretty pretty!

And since it did take me a few tries to find the right pattern, during which I went insane had no socks officially on the needles to work on, I decided to start looking for a new pattern for the yarn I wanted to use next:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Apple Hill colorway.  I received this in trade and really had no idea what I was going to do with it, I just liked the colors.  I did know that this yarn is thinner than any other sock yarn I've used before so that opened up the door to trying a 64 stitch pattern instead of my usual 56.

I looked at a few options, ran them past my knitting guru for a second opinion, and then I cast on my first choice of pattern.  And guess what?  Unlike the Alki socks, this one worked on the first try:

It's the Artichoke Socks pattern, by Megan Humphrey.  I'm betting that when knitted up in a green yarn this stitch pattern probably does look very much like an artichoke.  However, I don't believe I've ever seen an artichoke in these colors, have you?  (If so, did you eat it?  And what happened afterwards?) 

One important lesson I learned (the hard way) while knitting on both the Alki socks and the Apple Hill socks, is that as much as I love to sit and knit while sipping my morning coffee, I really cannot use that time for knitting anything more than plain garter or stockinette stitch.  Until that coffee has been consumed, truly, I am not firing on all cylinders.  And I should not be wandering around uncaffeinated in the land of SSKs or yarnovers. I also realize that spending my morning screwing up a sock and my afternoon tinking back can seriously impede my progress.  So something had to be done.

For a large portion of last year I knitted on a very simple garter stitch baby blanket during my morning coffee knitting time.  When that was completed I started making hats, in stockinette, knitting round and round, perfect. It's still too warm for me to go back to knitting wooley hats again and the same weather problem applies to knitting the Doctor Who scarf I've craved for so long now (knitting worsted wool + hot sweaty summer = accidental felting).

Then on Ravelry I found out about the Special Olympics Scarf Project.  Essentially you can use any pattern you want, as long as you use Red Heart Super Saver in White #311 and Delft Blue #885, and the scarf did not have to be completed until January.  I already had a full skein of that exact white in my stash, and an upcoming trip to the mainland during which I was sure I could pick up a skein of the blue at either Joann's or Michael's.  Perfect!

Unfortunately, neither one of those stores had the correct blue.  Nor did their staff know anything about the project, or whether they'd be getting in the color soon, or perhaps even what day it was.  So there I was, stuck for something to knit on with my morning coffee so that I wouldn't keep fracking up my lovely sock-in-progress and I spotted this:

Red Heart's new sock yarn.  It's marketed as "self-striping" but "self-patterning" would be more accurate.  Yep, that's right - good 'ole Fake Isle - yarn that mimics the patterning of of Fair Isle.  And even though my sock knitting desires have me reaching for increasingly more interesting patterns, I now understand how knitting plain stockinette socks can have a place in my life.  Sipping my coffee, simply knitting round and round and round and round....

I get this.  And this works for me!  Actually since I knit on it mindlessly every morning, it's just about flying off the needles.   The yarn is supposed to have Aloe in it, but I have to say, I'm not feeling it.  Nothing particularly lovely about the feel of the yarn at all, just a nice pattern.

I've since heard that the Delft Blue colorway of Red Heart can be found at Walmart, which can be a little dubious on some days.  But on my next trip overtown I'm going to brave the hordes and see what they have.  But if that doesn't pan out - it's going to be yet another pair of simple stockinette Fake Isle socks!