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October 2, 2012 / Gillian

Knit Until You Drop

People are amazing.  We have a friend (and a co-worker of my husband’s) who has volunteered to watch our munchkin on Sunday…for free.  She’s going to come pick him up in the afternoon and then even bring him back so that we don’t have to pick him up, which is all really stunning because she lives about half an hour away from us.  For some people that’s not big driving time, but around here people tend to get weird if they have to drive more than fifteen minutes to get anywhere.  My thankfulness runneth over because otherwise I might not be able to go to the Blair Dems Fall Banquet which I am wildly excited about.

Of course you’ll recall that I made two scarves for the silent auction.  The scarves have already been handed off and I can’t wait to say ‘hi!’ to them at the banquet.  In any case, since I’m so full of gratitude I decided to make our lovely friend a surprise lapghan (that’s an afghan that’s made to go over your lap – for the uninitiated).  I’m doing the Hemlock Ring Blanket.  The pattern is an adaptation of an old doily pattern.  Here’s where we are so far…

I’m going with the same Dark Country Blue (Caron Simply Soft) that I used on the cabled scarf I made for the Dems.  I already had a little more than one skein laying around so I jumped on it immediately.  I plan to leave off here very shortly and continue madly knitting in an effort to be able to hand her the finished blanket on Sunday when she comes to pick up munchkin.   Ambitious?  Possibly.

Well, there it is.  I should get knitting because if I don’t I’ll never get done!

October 1, 2012 / Gillian

The Next Color…

Before I move on to the post at large I want to say a word about my Four Cables Slouch.  (See…there’s a link…I hope.)  A couple people have expressed difficulty in downloading it or getting the link to work or whatever.  I don’t know why.  It’s a .pdf.  It’s in my WordPress media library.  I have tried every way I can think of and I can’t figure out why it’s not working for some people.  If you are one of those people then I sincerely apologize and would like to point you to my post entitled “Four Cables Slouch – The Blog Form!”  So hopefully that clears up the issue for most people and beyond that I can’t think what to do.

Okay.  Moving on.  I finished the color orange on my shawltar cloth!  That’s what I’m calling it.  It’s a shawl pattern that’s going to be an altar cloth…Shawltar cloth.  Go on, laugh derisively if you want, but I love a portmanteau.  I’ll show you a picture…

My orange turned out a little variagated, but I like it anyway.  Probably the green will be a little less than uniform as well.  Who knows, maybe they all will…except the red.  For some reason I make a really uniform red.  In any case, next I’ll be dyeing the yellow as soon as I stop being lazy about winding up half a skein.  I just keep thinking…I could just buy two more skeins of bare yarn and then just dye full skeins of the remaining colors and sure I’ll have extra but then I won’t have to worry about calculating and winding and re-winding.  It’s me being lazy.  Legitimately, though, I’m concerned about whether it’s going to be big enough.  In theory the completed radius of the thing is 27 inches, which means I’m looking at a 54″ diameter.  That should be fine….I think.  On Sunday I’ll be sure to measure the altar table to see what its front-to-back measurement is.  If I think it’s going to be too small I can always make it bigger.  No rushing though, this isn’t supposed to be finished until the end of November.

In the meantime, I need to think up some projects for October.  Speaking of October, I just remembered that I forgot to put up new missions rooms for my Battlestar Galactica Ravelry group.   Crap.  I shall add that to the list of things to do today.  At least this means that I have a little more time before I need to think up some more projects.  It is amazing, I feel like I have everything and nothing to do.

One thing I need to do is shower.  Today is my first day helping out in the computer lab at my munchkin’s school and I’d rather not be gross.

Happy Knitting!

September 25, 2012 / Gillian

Orange!

Why didn’t I dye the orange yarn yesterday?  Seriously, how did I not figure out that I was going to finish 35 rounds starting from the center of a shawl in about an hour?  Really?  How did I not know that?  It’s ridiculous.  Ah well, needing to dye the orange today gave me an excuse to make sure the dishes got washed.  Also, waiting two minutes for water to heat up before I put the dye in gave me a little unoccupied time to find the box of Halloween decorations in my closet.  Here’s what happened there…

So this winter holiday season I will be taking the Halloween stuff out and putting the winter shit back first and then putting the Halloween stuff on top of it so that this doesn’t happen again.  I should be doing stuff like cleaning out the closet.  I really should.  So all these things had to come out of the closet in order to get…see that blue plastic storage box off to the back left?  That’s the Halloween stuff.  Mostly, there’s some other random crap in there, but mostly Halloween stuff.  Here’s the problem, there are things in the closet that need to go.  There’s a high chair and the old car seat and the crib mattress.  These are bulky things that no longer have a purpose in my life.   My problem is that I’m torn between my desire to get a couple bucks for these things which are pretty nice and in good condition and my desire to just donate them to Goodwill and  have them out of my life.  Periodically the subject gets discussed at my house.  My husband and I sort of dance around it.  Usually I have had the excuse that I’ve always got the munchkin with me and so it’s hard to get that kind of thing done, but now he’s in kindergarten so…not really an excuse anymore.

Anyway.

Dyeing!  Yesterday I dyed some yarn red.  Dyeing yarn a single color with a single dye is not complicated.  Well…  It can be.  Sometimes getting an even color can be tough, but I’ve always found it pretty simple.  The yarn is never going to be exactly even, but you’ll get close enough, and with hand-dyed yarn you’re not looking for a completely standardized even color because then why bother hand-dyeing it?  Today though, I was dye mixing.  The only “orange” sort of dye I have is called Aztec Gold and it’s sort of a dirty orange.  It’s not bright enough to work in a rainbow setting and I’ve found that I get the best orange by just mixing red and yellow.  So I’m definitely going to get a little more of a variation in the orange than with the red just because the dye separates a little.  What I do is to heat up whatever amount of water I think I’ll need and add the two dyes I want.  In the case of orange, I add the yellow to the water first.  When I make green out of yellow and blue the yellow also comes first.  As much as I don’t really do hard and fast rules, when you’re mixing two colors, I think that it’s a good rule of thumb to put the lighter color in first.  There’s a little extra leeway with that lighter color.  You can worry less about how much you add.  Red and blue can be overpowering though and so it’s a good idea to add them a little bit at a time.  This is my personal experience.  So let me show you some more pictures of my orange dyeing…

Yes, that’s vinegar.  I use it to set the dye and there are plenty of people who disagree with that method, but that’s how I do it and it works for me.  There are the dyes and the soaking yarn and there’s the dye hanging out and waiting to go…

here!  This is actually after I added another cup of water with some more dye.  The yarn on the outer layer of the skein had sucked up most of the dye and the middle was looking either yellowy or totally undyed and so I had to add some more dye.  The second set of dye had a slightly higher red content.  Here’s what you need to know with me.  I’m always flying by the seat of my pants and I just say “Art!  It’s my process!”, but the truth is that I just hate measuring.  It’s why I prefer cooking to baking.  Explaining the process motivates me to be a little more exacting, but my instinct is always to just go for it and that’s usually what works the best for me.  It’s never what I intend, but it’s always what I want.

And now I shall reveal the first section!

I have got to stop making red things.  I won’t…ever.  Red is my favorite color.  It’s just really funny right now considering my recent misadventures in photographing red things.  So…now I really need to find something to knit in the meantime.  Last night I spent a little time on my sock yarn blanket, but I’d like to see if I can’t knock out another little project before the end of the month.

Possibly I’ll start that hat for my munchkin.  Last winter he asked me to make him a hat and he picked orange and purple yarn and so I made him an orange and purple striped hat.  He loved it and he wore it all the time.  This year, however, he wants a new hat because purple is a “girl color”.  The concept of gender specific colors pisses me off and I don’t know where he picked that up  because it certainly wasn’t in my house.  Likely it’s just the world at large.  The “girl toy” aisles in stores are basically giant swaths of pink and purple, so it’s a concept that’s hard to avoid, but I try to emphasize whenever I can that he can like whatever colors he wants.  We have to define ourselves.  He’s five though, he’s got his whole life to learn how to be his own person.  Anyway, so I’m thinking a blue cabled hat and maybe I should just go find that pattern now…

September 24, 2012 / Gillian

A Rainbow of Awesome!

So I finally said screw it and let’s do this.  Wait…I’m derailing my own momentum for a minute to show you my scarves.

Blue scarf!  I fringed the crap out of it.  Some scarves just need fringe and I think cabled scarfs need fringe.  There are obviously exceptions.  It’s not a rule, but by and large, I really like cabled scarves with fringe.

Also, not to beat a dead horse, but here’s another picture of my red scarf…

It’s a little better.  I think this is probably the best I can possibly do to represent the color and the lace pattern.

Alright, cool.  I’m moving on.  Remember how I’m knitting Jared Flood’s Leaves of Grass as an altar cloth for my church?  (Reminder: Unitarian Universalist!  Yay!)  When I saw it I immediately wanted to do it in a rainbow and then I got sort of wishy-washy about how I was going to do it and dyeing out the yarn or should I buy the rainbow colors…blah blah.  I threw the idea out on my church’s Facebook page.  What I said was, this is what I’m doing and I thought maybe a rainbow but maybe a single color and if so what color.   The immediate reactions were all for rainbow and so I did not get the opportunity to wimp out of it, and so much the better.

Today I tossed the yarn over my computer chair and balled up what I think will be enough for the center circle.  It’s only 35 rounds, so I think it’ll be fine.  Then I had to take that ball and wind it back into something dyeable, hence…

…because sometimes when you don’t have money for cool toys you have to get creative.  Just to be clear, on the right that’s a roll of packing tape with the ball of yarn in it.  The yarn is being wound around a computer chair which spins so I’m using it as a makeshift swift.  It’s pretty awesome, I know.  So once it was re-skeined I moved down to the kitchen…

You’ve got to soak the yarn to open up the fibers.   I let the yarn soak for about a half hour to open up and then I mixed up the dye…

Muuuwa-ha-ha-ha!  I see the dye and I just immediately think “I want to suck your blood!”  Once the yarn soaks and I wring it out it’s time to dye.  Normally I would crockpot dye, but today it’s a smaller amount of yarn and it’s just one color so I’m microwave dyeing.  So here I go…

Yarn goes in a ziplock bag and in a microwave safe bowl and then you just want to zap it for 30 seconds at a time.  After each 30 second round let it hang out for two minutes.   I mean…you should…really.  I didn’t this time.  I maybe gave it one minute in between zaps.  Anyway so you zap and zap until the water starts losing its dye.  It’ll happen after a couple minutes.  Microwave dyeing is so fast.  From the beginning I knew I put too much dye in so I let mine go until it was just mostly clear…

This is the second to last run.  I gave it one last turn and then I just let it hang out and cool off for about an hour while I listened to an episode of the Nerdist podcast.

Oh, big giant sigh.  Now the wait.  I must wait for the yarn to dry before I can start knitting.  Maybe I’ll make a hat while I’m waiting.   Hopefully I’ll get to show you the finished first section and me dyeing the orange yarn before the end of the week, so look forward to hearing from me before the week is over!

September 20, 2012 / Gillian

The Bleeding Scarf

You may know from my previous post that I’m working on scarves.  Currently I’m onto a lovely dark blue cabled scarf which is fantastic…

See, so nice.  And look, you can tell what color it is and everything.  On the other hand there is my, now finished, Thorny scarf.  It’s bloody red, both in the sense that it’s blood red and also as in the common swear word of English origin.  It is so red that I cannot for the life of me make my camera capture it properly.  Here are a few attempts…

No.

Hmm-mm.

Labored sigh.  The last one is probably the best so far.  I think it’s a combination of the quality of my camera and all the millions of things that I don’t know about taking pictures. I have a good eye, but I don’t know the technical things that would probably help me solve this problem.  So far I’ve figured out that less light is better for getting the color right but it’s less good for getting the picture to look crisp and it absolutely doesn’t capture how fantastic the scarf is in real life, which it is.

Really, I’m wildly jealous of whomever is going to actually own this scarf.  It’s one of the pieces that will be up for silent auction at the Blair Dems Fall Banquet.  (Do you live in Blair County, PA and want info on the Blair Dems Fall Banquet?  I’m happy to provide the info to interested parties.)  The blue scarf will also be available at the silent auction.  Will I also do a white scarf?  I’m not sure.  Possibly.  I feel to a certain extent like if I’ve done a red one and I’m doing a blue one then I’m sort of obligated to make a white one too.  I’m not.  That’s not expected of me.  Those are just the weird things I expect from myself.  I have this weird terror that I’ll be there and someone’s going to say “Hey, where’s the white scarf?  I mean the theme is red, white and blue.”  The odds that this will happen are low.  No one gives that big a crap about my knitting.

Hm.  Pandora is not giving me what I want today.  The music it’s giving me today is kind of depressing.  C’est la vie.

So there we are.  We’re making scarves.  Yarn has been ordered for the making of a Leaves of Grass circular shawl.  I’m still debating whether it should be rainbow colored or a single color and if a single color, which single color?  I don’t have a ton of time to ponder it.  The thing has to be started before the end of the month so we’re in tic-tic mode now.  I may even have the yarn in my hot little hands today, which really puts the pressure on.  Alright.  I’m going to go take a breath and think about it and stop Pandora from depressing the hell out of me.

 

September 17, 2012 / Gillian

Scarftastic!

Before I begin, a quick update on my sock yarn blanket…

It grows!

 

So that’s a thing.  Right at this moment I’m working on scarves.  I have two…maybe three to do.  I’m almost done with this one…

Yes, it’s way more done than this.  No, it’s not fuchsia.  (I spelled fuchsia right on the first try!)  It’s red.  I need to get a better picture.  My camera hates red things, which is sad because red is probably my favorite color.  The scarf is actually a cowl pattern which is knitted flat and the grafted together.  I needed a scarf and I thought it would make an awesome one so I said “screw cowls!”  I started with three rows of garter stitch and I’ll end that way too.  The pattern is called “Thorny” if you’re interested in checking it out on Ravelry.  It’s one of two or three scarves that I’m making for the Blair County Democrats’ silent auction at their Fall Banquet (which I am actually attending this year…squee!).

The next scarf on my list will be something cabled.  I haven’t decided on a specific pattern yet.  The yarn will be Caron Simply Soft’s Dark Country Blue.  It’s almost navy blue.  Much to my thrill and excitement Michaels’ has Caron Simply Soft on sale for $2.49 a skein this week and Sunday they had a 20% off your entire purchase including sale items coupon.  Well, it was 15% if you got it in the paper, but if you happened to shop at Michael’s last week you would have gotten a 20% coupon at check out.  I did.  Huzzah for me!  So I got the three skeins of Simply Soft and this super cute pumpkin basket that I absolutely didn’t need which now graces my dining room table.  It’s going to be my autumn fruit bowl.

Also, I just saw this video on The Nerdist from Ben Folds Five and it’s got Fraggles!!!  If you need a smile then you need this video.

Anyway.  So that’s what’s going on and I’ll get back to you with a finished and hopefully more red picture of my lace scarf.

 

 

 

September 11, 2012 / Gillian

Strictly Knitting…

Hey everyone!  So, more recently in this blog I had decided to make a specific effort to stay on the subject of knitting and only move away from that where it’s specifically related.  But I have a big fat mouth and it needs to move constantly…sometimes via my fingers.  So I started a second blog.  It’s called Blogamashmorgblorg.  My son came up with the name.  I was seriously sitting around trying to think of something funny or clever (which, how often does that just not work, right?) and I turned to my five year-old and said “what should I call my blog?”  So that’s what he said and I love it.

Understand that on Blogamashmorgblorg I’m going to talk about everything and please remember that I’m a super lefty pinko commie liberal.  I may say things that are offensive and I will probably swear…even more than I do here.  Do I swear a lot?  In real life I do.  In my writing I attempt not to but sometimes it just has to happen.  Anyway, I just wanted to put it out there.  If you wouldn’t mind hearing – outside of knitting – what my particular brand of crazy is like then you’re welcome to check it out.

September 7, 2012 / Gillian

KinderMom!

What the fudge, people?  I’m so many posts behind.  I’m a sad and awful blogger and I don’t get things done.  Maybe I will get more things done now that my kid is in kindergarten.  He’s in what now?  Kindergarten.  That’s flipping insane.  I have lots of feelings about that, but I won’t bog you down with my weird squishy feelings.  What I will bog you down with is all kinds of knitting thoughts!  Aaargh!

Remember my Old Forge blanket?  I’ll remind you…

Well a couple weeks ago I got a message on my Ravelry account asking for help with this blanket.  For starters, I am always so happy to give anyone a hand with their knitting.  When I got started knitting (for the second time around) I didn’t really have people to turn to for advice so I was mostly flying blind.  While that lonely figuring it out for myself made me great at fixing mistakes, I am thrilled to be able to help people avoid the pitfalls that were my constant annoyance as a less experienced knitter.

So this knitter who I will call Knitter (with a capital K) had a problem with the rays coming out of the center circle.  She was just four rows into the ray section when she noticed that her second color was covering up the rays.  That’s a pretty huge bummer.  Happily, it’s the sort of issue that is easily noticeable and you don’t even have to tink (knit back your stitches…see because ‘tink’ is ‘knit’ spelled backwards.  Are knitters clever or what?).  As soon as I read her problem I knew instantly what she was doing and how to fix it.  Maybe you can guess as well.  I’ll give you a second…

Got it?

The answer is maybe easier if you know what that pattern is like.  In order to achieve these rays here’s what happens in the pattern.  You switch to your second color and knit around on the ray stitches you slip two stitches (which are still in the first color).  Next your purl a round, slipping the ray stitches again.  For the next two rows you work in the first color, which creates the striping and allows the rays to continue.  If you hadn’t guessed before you may have guessed now.  Her problem came with the slipped stitches.  One very tiny and unfortunate missed point in the directions is where to hold your yarn when you’re slipping the stitches.  This blanket is no so hard that an inexperienced knitter couldn’t do it, but what an inexperienced knitter may need to be told explicitly is to slip the stitches with the yarn in the back.  That’s probably especially important for the purled round because what feels natural is to hold the yarn where you’ve already got it (in front) and then keep knitting.

This is an easy fix though.  Super easy.  Crazy simple.  So let’s say that you have gotten through the two rounds in which you’re knitting with the second color and you’ve slipped the stitches with the yarn in front.  All you have to do is, on the next round, continue as written and when you get to the stitches that you have previously slipped carefully drop them off your needles and pull them in front of the second color yarn that’s blocking them.  Then put the stitches back on the needles, knit them and continue on your merry way.  Knitter messaged me back and let me know that my advice had helped and I’m so glad that it did.

In the meantime, you know of course that I knitted an OpArt blanket.  I also completed these little Steeler’s themed booties…

Aren’t they cute?  I thought it might be overkill…but I think I’m totally going to make a black and gold baby sweater.  The baby’s dad is a Bronco’s fan, so I get a little joy out of smothering his new child with Steelers gear.

I did this sweater for another friend’s upcoming baby…

But I’m not sure whether I like it and I may do another one instead.

Right at this moment I am knitting a little something for me.  I’m using my hand-dyed yarn to make some really loudly colored yoga socks.   Check out how loud they are, and also my cat mid-yawn…

Hehe…  I couldn’t help myself.  I have the sock folded over a bit to show the lack of heel.  Since they are yoga socks they won’t have a heel or toes.  It is a mind-crunchingly easy pattern that I highly recommend, especially if you’re like me and wish that you could live your life without anything on your feet.  I kind of always want my heels and toes out, but I also like socks.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to make these.

So that’s all for now.  We’ll see if I can post more regularly now that the munchkin is in kindergarten.  I’ll certainly have to find something else to keep me from doing too much housework!

 

Edited to add:  I almost forgot.  If you’re interested in that yoga socks pattern.  It’s free and it’s here.   Absolutely check it out.

August 25, 2012 / Gillian

Blankets!

I’ve been really drawn to blankets lately.  I’m not sure why.  I’m a person that goes through phases.  Right now all I want it blankets.  The day before yesterday I finished my own OpArt Blanket.  Well, not my own.  It’s actually a gift for a friend’s new baby.  She wants Steelers themed things so I’m making her baby stuff in black at gold.  Here’s the blanket that I just finished…

I did it in acrylic yarn because it’s washable and because I can’t afford that much superwash wool.  This blanket was unbelievably simple.  It does require, as is mentioned in the pattern, very significant blocking to make it square.   You may notice, if you look closely, that even after some healthy tugging I didn’t manage to get it quite square.  It’s close enough though.

Ugh.  I’m being interrupted mid-posting by this itching need to respond to a post my Aunt made with a quote from a writer about how we’ve created a society where violence is the primary form of communication and then one of her friends responded, basically saying that you can probably point the blame it on violent video games and action movies.  And when I brought evidence to the contrary she basically said that she’s “biased” against clinical studies that use all kinds of technical jaron to “prove” (and those are her quotation marks not mine) what she knows that real parents have witnessed.  I can’t…how am I supposed to debate that?  You don’t believe it because you don’t feel that way?  I don’t…seriously?  I can’t have a debate with someone who says, “Gee, facts?  No thank you, that doesn’t fit how I feel.”

I’ll have to show you the progress on my sock yarn blanket later because now I’m just really annoyed.

August 12, 2012 / Gillian

Sock It to Me!

So I went to the last day of my volunteer gig yesterday.  It was the end-of-summer festival bit.  I brought along my picnic blanket which, as promised, I photographed outside…

I should have photographed it with someone on it for scale and incidentally it’s actually more like 5′ in diameter, but there you have it.  I had the most fantastic time.  I handed out knitting needles and  yarn to some of my tiny fanatic knitting followers.  It’s beyond cool to me that little kids were interested in knitting, and seeing 7, 8, and 9 year-old girls (yeah, I didn’t get any boys to stick with it) knitting on their own was so awesome.  I felt like a knitting rock star.  The experience was so cool that I’m seriously considering talking to someone at my local library about doing a kids knitting group.  I’m thinking maybe Saturday afternoons.  I feel like I really have the teaching method down now, so I think it would be fun.  Plus, knitting is such a great way to practice patience and calm.  I have said many times and will repeat many times more, knitting is my zen place.  There is no relaxation for me like the relaxation of knitting.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was trying to find another project to finish before the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, tonight.  I didn’t find anything.  I said screw it.  Finally, I have decided to start a sock yarn blanket, for really real and I’ve found a pattern that I think I’m going to really finish…

…it’s cool, right?  Yes.  Yes, it is.  The pattern is actually for worsted weight yarn, but it’s absolutely adaptable to whatever size yarn and needle you like.  In this instance I’m using sock yarn and size five needles.  The best part is my new couch-side organizational system.

Last week Target had these drawer sets on sale for ten dollars.  Cha-ching!  Previously I had been using a medium sized plastic storage box as a  table/place to stick shit.  Actually, it was full of yarn that I never looked at because taking all the stuff off the top to get into the box was a pain.  And then I had to leave all my tools and whatnots in my knitting bag next to the couch, which inevitably got messy.  Now I have the perfect table which need never be cluttered because I’ve got three whole drawers to shove my crap in.  Yay!  There’s even space for my portable dvd player (for use during cartoon-time) so I can stop being lazy and leaving it on the back of the couch where I inevitably sit on the cord and it comes crashing down on my shoulder or some other unfortunate body part.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah, right, sock yarn blanket.  So anyway, the bottom drawer is now filled with all my odds and ends of sock yarn and when I’m not knitting it, the blanket itself.  Amazing!  Damnit, I love organizing things!

So here I am, feeling good, feeling organized.  I do, however, know that Christmas present-making-time is soon upon me so I need to start thinking about that.  Anyway, I’ll ignore that for this second and enjoy the high of getting shit done.  Huzzah!