SF CA or Bust

I’m going on my first out-of-state business trip in… ever, it seems like. The last plane trip I took on business was from Mass. to N.C. sometime around 1984. I’m attending a two-day meeting in San Francisco, and Myr is coming along for the trip. We’ll extend it into the weekend, and spend a couple of days looking around SF (a city we’ve each visited only briefly), dining at wonderful restaurants, and visiting…. (wait for it)… yarn shops! I know you are shocked. So far we’ve a plan to go to Artfibers, and of course we are open to suggestions for other great shops. We’ll be staying in the financial district, so if you know of a must-visit LYS in the city, leave me a comment. I’m hoping that Myr will visit Britex Fabrics, which isn’t really my type of store but I may break down and visit just for the chance to look through their button selection, which is reputed to be amazing.

 

As for food, I’m hoping to have lunch on Friday somewhere in Chinatown, we have reservations that evening at The Slanted Door (near the SF Ferry Building), and we’ll probably be up near wine country north of the city on Saturday, so we’ll be likely eating out in a little town called Petaluma. I’m thinking of renting a car for the day and taking a drive along the coast

Finally done… or half done, anyway!

On Saturday I drove Myr to the January meeting of her local lace guild. This is always a great time for me to get some knitting done, and today was no exception. Other than a Lost Hour when I went off on a simple mission to get some Panera soup and sandwiches (and got lost), I spent several hours working on the thumb of my Deep in the Forest mittens. I cast on for these exactly 17 months ago, and this is just the first of the pair. Talk about your delayed gratification!

This pattern is by Tuulia Salmela, whose designs I like a lot.

Very rarely do I get though a knitting session without running into some sort of problem, and this time there were two of the little devils.

Devil One: Brittle Yarn

The yarn I used (Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift) is an established yarn from an old and well-loved maker, listed as a two-ply, but it looks like a single ply to me and nearly un-spun. I managed to get a ball of the black that is brittle. I’d gotten the tension under control enough that I hadn’t broken the yarn since the cuff, but on my last row, right at the tip of the thumb, the yarn parted. After some commiseration from the lace ladies, I took a break to get lunch, then came back determined to fix the thumb.

I first tinked back far enough to weave in the black again, and was knitting along toward the tip of the mitten for the second time when I became aware of the Second Demon…

Devil Two: Forgetting to Check the Fit

The lacer to my left looked over and commented that the thumb looked a bit long. I had Myr try it on, and sure enough, the thumb was about a half inch too long. After taking some measurements and making a couple of calculations, I decided that I needed to remove about 6 rows to get back to the right length. Since 6 rows was exactly the length of the decrease area, I would have to remove twelve rows to get the right length.

It was time to head to our next destination, so we packed up and drove from Matthews to Pineville, for a quick stop at our LYS. I had just enough time to rip back and pick up the stitches, and then off we went to Ballantyne. I had about an hour to wait, so I started working my way back to the tip of the thumb. The work was very fiddly with the fragile yarn and tiny 4-inch DPNs, but I got to the right length at long last.

At home I got out my dogtag instructions for Kitchener grafting and sealed everything up tight. I flipped the mitten inside out and wove in my yarn ends, then hemmed the cuff. At half past six I at last held the finished mitten…

Photo of a mitten made from the Deep in the Forest Mitten PatternPhoto of a mitten made from the Deep in the Forest Mitten Pattern

(I’m trying to stay enthusiastic about casting on for the second of the pair!)

Last look at Dashing

The pair of Dashing fingerless gloves that I finished recently is washed, blocked, and ready to send off to Massachusetts.

cabled fingerless gloves

I think that I blocked these a little too large. I’ll have to write up some directions for the recipient so that she can “smallify” them if she needs to.

Dashing fingerless mitts

I took the opportunity to experiment with my idea for a “top” gusset to add some flex and reduce strain in the web of the thumb. Here’s a closeup of the gusset. Sorry for the less-than-ideal lighting. I need to practice getting better closeups of knitted fabric.

Top gusset on thumb area

Instead of casting on a single stitch across the gap (after moving thumb stitches to waste yarn) I cast on 4 or 5 stitches, then gradually decreased them as I worked up the thumb and palm.

Something for me: Morningside Neckwarmer

I wanted to take a break from mitten knitting and make myself something. A friend recently kidded me for wearing a “store bought” woven scarf. She said something along the lines of “why aren’t you wearing something you made?”

Truth: the scarves I’ve made were boring, or seemingly took forever to make. Or both. A possible solution? Make a neckwarmer instead!

I’ve had Jared Flood’s Morningside Neckwarmer in my queue for a long while, and aside from looking good, it has the added attraction of being in a stitch pattern of which I know nothing. Learning new knitting skills = not being bored with a project!

I cast on a few nights ago and by the second round had run into a brick wall. Naturally I kept going until the end of the third round (stubborn, or merely thick-headed? You decide!), and finally broke down and frogged it. I think that what had happened was that I dropped a stitch or made one too many yarnovers; at any rate, my stitch count was off and I couldn’t follow the stitch pattern, which depends on a slipped-stitch-and-YO combo being in the right place for a K2Tog on the next row.

After a second cast on (and I’m a fan of this double-strand cast on, it makes for a nice, even, comfy-looking edge) I started knitting again the next night. This time most of the stitches where where they should have been, and I was able to see what was going on with the fabric. Where I missed several YO in random places I was able to make a “save” by picking up the ladder and putting it where it should be. I’m about 12 rows in now, and if you ignore the bottom inch of the tube where I had some lingering problems, you can start to make out the ribbing from the brioche stitch.

My first attempt to knit brioche stitch
My first attempt to knit a brioche stitch pattern

I’ve never knitted in-the-round on a 16″ circular except when doing Magic Loop, which by now is my standard knitting method for most of my projects. I started wondering if this little 5″ circle would expand to fit over my head, so I transferred the work to a long cable from my Denise set. Uh, yeah. It’s very big. Much larger than I expected from the pattern photos. I’m going to knit until it’s the recommended five inches in length, then transfer to a longer cable and try the thing on, but I suspect that I’ll end up making this a lot taller than the pattern calls for, to give it a better chance to give me good coverage and warmth under my coat’s collar and at the top of the zipper.

Jared Flood's Morningside Neckwarmer

a simple brioche circular scarf, cowl, or neckwarmer

Jared Flood's Morningside Neckwarmer

One lone ornament

Myr decided to make a half dozen knitted ornaments… or possibly knitted covers for ornaments, to be precise. After casting on for three different ornaments from online patterns, none of which were working, she broke out the pencil and paper and designed her own. She enlisted my help since I knit in the round a lot and she rarely or never does. I did the top half of the item and she finished it on the back-and-forth part and sewed the seam.

Ornament and pattern

Life intervened, and we only got this one ornament done… and not until after Christmas. I’ll rate this as a “great first effort.”

ornament

Here’s a closer view in a bit better focus.

Detail of the knitted ornament cover

Nearly derailed but still limping along…

…meaning my plans to write a post or two over breakfast this morning. I didn’t get that done, but here I am writing anyway, so it seems I’ll write a short post today after all. Naturally, it will be about what distracted me!

I read an email from the WordPress “Challenge for 2011” folks, and when I followed one of the link-chains from there I ended up at the “innate index” personality test.  I’m a sucker for standardized tests, and I wanted to see if the results correlated at all with the Clifton StrengthsFinder profile I took at work last week. And of course I had to send an email off to my wife with a link to the test, too.

Then I realized that I couldn’t very well type (or at least… not type very well) while eating a bowl-full of raisin bran, muesli, and FiberOne (good mix of stuff, really…!), so I checked the rav boards for the mitten challenge. So many people have posted excellent mittens. It took me a while to read through the 6 or 8 threads with new posts.

Two of us agreed that it’s okay to make a pair of Bella’s Mittens even if we didn’t like the movie or book.

An old friend from the Insanity forum wandered in and joined the challenge, and she requested patterns for stranded mittens that weren’t too feminine; I resisted adding any of them to my queue.

The drier buzzed at me, so I hung up a bunch of my shirts for work, then put a bunch of cardboard boxes out for recycling. One of them—the shipping crate for the very computer I’m using to write this post—will be great for hauling books to the Goodwill center once I start cleaning out the library, so it went back down into the basement.

That visit led me to start thinking again about my project to move my workbench to the back room and get back to fixing Myr’s spinning wheel. One big class of stuff occupying space on and under the bench comprises my reloading gear. I haven’t reloaded anything in 2+ years (and that was just a batch of a hundred shotshells that I still haven’t used), and several more years before that since I did any serious reloading. I invested a LOT of cash and time into building that setup, along with the reference books and associated lead melting gear, etc. But… I am beginning to think I’d feel better if I had that space back (the ‘psychic space’ as much as the physical).

Question being… do I set everything back up and try to use up a bunch of the consumables on hand… primers, brass, bullets, and powder… or do I just do a clean break? The dedicated .45 acp setup along with the shotshell rig could probably sell for enough to get me a spinning wheel of my own. And I could keep the RockChucker press in case I ever want to make a few custom loads. This way I can convince my inner hoarder that I’m not really giving up an older and once-beloved hobby.

Okay, time for work. Hope you have a great day.

Some of you I’ll see at Guild tonight. Jane’s short-row presentation! Woot!

a post a week?

I saw that WordPress is offering ideas to encourage people to write more on their blogs.  The idea is one I’ve seen before; send an idea a day to your email and you’re supposed to use the idea as a starting point for a blog post. Friday’s idea was “List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go.

I like this one. Ummm… Ireland, New Zealand, and Iceland, I’ll say today. I could probably make a list of 30 countries I’d like to visit.

Honestly, feel free to skip this post. I’m only doing this to keep my ‘blogging muscles’ limber.

Ireland: in the tangled briar patch that is my family tree, one of the few things that seems certain is that at least one of my grandfathers came from Ireland. I’d like to see the place, and see if that sense of yearning that I get when I see photos of the countryside survives the reality being there. Strikes me as an excellent place to spend a few hours drinking ale and knitting.

New Zealand: Gotta see the landscape from the Lord of the Rings movies.

Iceland: Volcanoes

Interesting. I thought this would have a lot more to do with knitting. I probably should have chosen Scotland, Estonia, and Norway?

WIP: “Dashing” fingerless gloves

I took a couple of snaps of my current ‘train project’ (knitting I mainly work on while commuting). This is a pattern called Dashing by Cheryl Niamath. We have friends in New England who have helped us out of jambs many times over the last 20 years, and these are going to them as a small note of thanks. I’ve got another pair (for them) that is currently hibernating for the winter, but these are moving along pretty well. I modified the pattern to add a thumb gusset.

You’ll see that I’m doing these “2 up” or 2-at-a-time on a long circular needle. This is a technique that helps ensure a few things:

  1. Your pair of mittens (or socks, sweater sleeves, whatever) will be the same length. See my earlier post about messing up row counts for an idea of why this is important.
  2. You’ll finish the pair at the same time. Do a search on Second Sock Syndrome to see just how common it is among knitters to finish one of some pair, and to then experience a vast reluctance to begin the mate. Suffice to say, being done beats being half-done any day.
  3. If you run low on yarn, you might be able to stop early… (uniformly early!) rather than having one complete mitten and one mitten that’s ? done.
  4. If your tension changes over the course of several years months weeks days the changes will—again—be uniform across the project as opposed to one mitten or sock being tightly knit and one a sloppy mess.*
  5. You’re really unlikely to lose one mitten before the second one’s complete.

There are drawbacks… I spend a fair amount of time de-tangling the two strands of yarn and organizing the cord of the circular needle. I also feel as if I get more strange looks from fellow travelers on the train. Since many muggles can’t tell crochet from knitting, the sight of someone managing two strings, two needle points, and two mittens at the same time probably makes their heads explode stops them from even trying to guess what I’m doing.

This is the first project I’ve done with my Kollage square needles. The sales pitch talks about the more-uniform stitch results I can expect (uniform stitches aren’t a problem for me, so I can’t evaluate this claim) and they also mention that your gauge might be a bit off; they say that some users have to go up a needle size to get gauge. I wonder if this is why the mitts are a bit on the snug side?

The main quality I wanted to check out was the “no kink, no curl” low-memory cables. My beloved Addi Lace circular needles do tend toward the kinky side of the spectrum. Ahem. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The cable on these Kollage needles is very, very flexible. I kind of like it, except for one thing… when I would normally be pushing the needle down into the next segment to continue my knitting, there is nothing to push against! The Addi needles slide back in the stitches as expected. The super-flexible Kollage cable just folds over and stops. This means that I have to push a bit, pull a bit, push a bit more. Fiddly. At a recent knit night at my LYS, Susan said “it’s like pushing string.” Exactly. I’ll avoid any jokes about LYS owners being “string pushers.” Honestly. I will.

kollage square knitting needles

Overall, I give the needles an A rating. I’d certainly consider buying more. Friends tell me that the Kollage DPNs are particularly wonderful for glove knitting.

The yarn here is something called “Yarn for Sox,” which is very stiff and a bit scratchy. I read several commentaries on Rav that assured me that a few washings will soften this wool up very acceptably. I’m hoping to be done with this project sometime in the first week in January.

*note to self: write a post about the importance of uniformity in knitting… obviously you have thoughts about this issue!

2010 in review

I got this amusing site stats summary from WordPress this morning… it’s a happy thing that I hadn’t been imagining that this site gets lots of traffic. Still… something to surpass in 2011.

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The statistics helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 56 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was December 22nd with 206 views. The most popular post that day was Mostly Chimera.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were turtlegirl76.com, ravelry.com, runningjackknits.blogspot.com, Google Reader, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for done by monday afghans, larry lavin, done by monday, “larry lavin”, and jorah lavin.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Mostly Chimera December 2010
2 comments

2

Done Some Monday Afghan June 2008
4 comments

3

R.I.P. Larry Lavin April 2008
5 comments

4

About me and my knitting January 2008
1 comment

5

Stocking Cap July 2009
6 comments

Week One of the 11 pairs in 2011 Challenge

I know I mentioned a few days ago that I was joining the 11 mittens for 2011 challenge on the Ravelry group I Make Mittens. Our start time was midnight GMT on New Years Eve,  which meant that I could start at 7 p.m. my time. I was about to sit down to a lovely prime rib dinner then, so it was closer to 8 p.m. before I actually cast on. We watched a couple of shows on Netflix instant download after supper and I astonished myself by (a) staying up to midnight (it’s been a long time since I bothered to stay up for New Year’s) and (b) finishing the first mitten. I cast on for the second one Saturday morning and finished grafting the thumb tip at about 10 p.m. Myrriah suggested the color combination here. She said it would be a “witchy” look!

Green and Black basic mittens

I’m probably going to make a pair with blue cuffs and black hands next.