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November 16, 2012 / Gillian

The Sweater of Flatness

I’m struggling to knit.  I really wanted to make my son a sweater and I found a pattern for this super cute kid’s fisherman sweater, but it’s knit flat.  Have I gone over my hatred for unnecessary flat knitting?  It’s a sweater!  Why I am knitting a thing that is round in a way that is flat?!  Why am I not making it round?  Why am I seaming?  This is knitting!

This sweater is cute though.  I’m doing it in blue…

This is the back of the sweater.  I have since actually finished the back and moved on to the front.  I figure, once I get that front done it’ll just fly along to doneness.  In the meantime…ugh.  I feel like the fact that I hate flat knitting makes it feel like it’s going to take longer and so I don’t knit at much and so it really does go slower and then…vicious cycle.

The altar cloth is still trucking along.  I had to dye a second skein of green yarn and so now I’m going to have to buy more yarn.  This this is going to be huge.  It’s weird though because I thought I had more yarn, but I guess I don’t.  In any case this is where I am with that…

You can’t really see the green because as the cloth gets better it becomes more squished onto my needles.  The next skein of green is a little darker over all but I’m going to try to make it seem intentional.  …I hope.

I’ve also dyed yarn for a moebius.  I’ve got plans and I want to do stuff, the motivation is just beyond me though.  Minimally, I’ve got a fun new task manager on my phone that I hope will aid me in remembering to blog regularly.  We’ll see how that goes.

October 29, 2012 / Gillian

Green With Hurricane!

Does today’s title make no  sense?  Yeah, no.  No, it doesn’t.

I’ve been insanely busy and barely knitting at all, which is probably a large part of why I’ve been so scattered and insane the last couple weeks.  I finally got to green on my altar cloth though…

See!  I know, the yellow ring is disproportionately larger than the orange one and the green one is probably not going to be as wide as the yellow and so all the rings won’t be the same size, I know.  I’m not made of magic.  Here’s what I decided though about having one too many colors for pattern rings.  I’m adding another right.  The outer edging connects on every other row in a pattern of 16 rows with means that I need the previous ring to be an 8 stitch repeat or at least a multiple of 8 repeat.  The pattern for what is now the orange ring is an 8 stitch repeat so I’m going to increase again after the green ring, add another ring of chart B in blue and then move onto chart E in purple.  This way, the cloth will be even larger and each color gets its own ring which will look better anyway…even if all the rings aren’t the same width.

I have basically nothing else, knitwise, on my mind at this point.  I have no space for other projects in my head.  This is troubling since I need to pick missions for my BSG group.  Although, now I have an XO, so maybe I’ll pass that along to her.

…message sent…

Hm.  Someone just pointed out to me that my altar cloth currently sort of resembles Hurricane Sandy.  That’s kind of funny because I had a mild sort of panic attack last night about Sandy.  Likely the worst that will happen to us is the possibility of a power outage.  Still, everyone’s making such a big fat fucking deal out of it that I have become a little worried.  Snow storms are my thing.  I’m used to living in Pennsylvania and snowstorms are my wheelhouse.  Hurricanes are not.  Snowstorms are nice because once you’ve got your supplies then you can have hot chocolate and hang out.  Hurricanes are scary.  I live in the mountainous central region of Pennsylvania…I should not have to worry about hurricanes.

Deep breaths.

I won’t.  I will not worry about it.  I’m going to knit.

October 11, 2012 / Gillian

Seriously, Doing Yellow Now…for real…

I just put my soon-to-be yellow yarn in the crockpot to soak.  I’ve been vacillating about whether to do a partial skein of yellow because I definitely don’t need the whole skein or just to do a full skein and say fuck it, I’m just going to buy two more skeins of bare merino.  Fuck it won.  Doesn’t it always?

Remember that Hemlock Ring Blanket that I was doing?

There she is!  I have to say, I powered through this pretty quickly.  It got finished in time for me to send it along with munchkin when he went to be babysat.  And that reminds me!

Look, it’s my scarves!  Also, I got my picture taken with Jay Paterno (and on the other side of Jay is my husband)…

How cool is that!  We had a great time.  It was so fun and Jay was a fantastic speaker.

Moving on.  I’m seriously dyeing my yellow yarn today.  I was in a funk after I finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket.  There was no next project.  That was my problem.  So there I was, checking out stuff online, looking through my patterns.  I had no idea what I wanted to make and then I thought of the Every Way Wrap which was in the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Knits.  Awesome, project decided…except…

I CAN’T FIND THE MAGAZINE!!

Aaargh!  I’m so jacked because that’s the issue with Angelica’s Coat which I just finished a couple months ago.  That magazine is in my house somewhere.  Somewhere.  I don’t know where it is and I want it.  I thought I’d buy the digital copy, but it’s 9.99!  Does that seem like a rip off to you?  Nine ninety-nine is more than I paid for the physical copy of the magazine in the grocery store.  So I sucked it up and flipped through my other mags and I found the Aquitaine Pullover.  It’s pretty cool.  Caron Simply Soft was on sale so I said, okay.  I’ll do that.  I don’t feel committed to it or in love with it though.  My husband wants me to make him a sweater, but I just don’t feel like it right now.  Meh.

So, in any case, that’s where things are right now.  Yellow is happening.  A sweater is tentatively happening.

Check you later!

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!