Monday, August 28, 2006

August Recap

I was able to complete three chemo caps for August. This brings my total for the group in the Carolinas up to seven. I sent four last month. There are no patterns for any of them. I just cast on a number I thought would work for each yarn, and began to knit. The Cascade Pearls was the first I knit this month. The yarn was a thoughtful gift from some knitting friends. I really like the hat; the photo does not do it justice. Alright, it downright sucks and makes it look lumpy and misshapen. It really is a cute rolled brim cap. I would have taken a new picture, but I've already mailed off all the caps. The second hat is knit from Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. The blue is from Mandy, and the coral is leftover from my Thorn and Thistle top. You can see that I took these pictures while feeding the stray cats. At this point in the photo session, the cats had finished their food, thus making what I was doing of interest to them. The last cap is knit in Sassy. This is yarn is from Columbia Minerva, it is sport weight, and the content is 85% So-Lara Acrylic 15% MemorelleTM Nylon. The yarn comes from the stash; it was part of a bunch given to me by my aunt, who gathered it from unknown sources of unwanted yarn. I was unsure that I would get the last cap done. Sunday morning came, and it seemed like this was one of those where I could knit on forever, and it would never grow. I began to multitask. I was lying on the living room floor, and the Grand Prix from Istanbul, Turkey was on the television. I would sit up for awhile and knit, and then I would lie back down and knit some more. The laps were completed in the race, and the rounds of the hat were knit. The knitting was simple, and I never had to look at it. Then I began to think about the fact that I needed to exercise. Hmmm…I was still tired. I wasn’t sure what all the day would bring. I added more multitasking to the mix. No, I didn’t just think about exercising whilst knitting and watching tv. I did abdominal exercises while I knit and watched the race. I worked the abs during each commercial break, but I never stopped knitting. I would do little crunches working the upper abs or lower crunches, or any other various ways of engaging my core muscles, all the while, the knitting continued. When I needed a break from the ab work, and thought that I ought to change up what I was doing with my arms, I set the knitting down, grabbed the barbell, and used it during the advertisements. Then, I fell back asleep. There were a couple more opportunities to pick up the yarn and needles that day, and finally, I held up the work and determined that I needed the tape measure. Sure enough, it was time for the crown decreases. Unfortunately, it was dark, we were back in the car, and I didn’t have my little headlamp. So, when we got home, I was able to finish the hat. I was on the homestretch, so I just kept going until the hat was off the needles. Did I stop? No, of course not. I weaved in my ends, and had the satisfaction of one more chemo cap ready to be washed, dried, and shipped. Ah, it was a nice way to end Sunday. Monday the caps went into the wash, and then I waited for them to dry. Wednesday I made it out to the post office and the library. Someone has misplaced The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, so I wasn't able to check out the book yet. I feel ultra productive. I just did a mini twenty minute strength workout. Next it's laundry, spinning, and aerobics--order yet to be determined.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gift 'n' Spin

Naw, it isn’t a toy to make you puke. I just received this lovely yarn Monday night from my friend, Elisabeth. She brought back yarn for all of us from a business trip to Fort Lauderdale. The label reads Rustik Raggsockgarn Almedahls. It is a wool (50%)/nylon (35%)/viscose (15%) blend. I have 170 meters of loveliness with which to work. I’m tossing around ideas. It may become a birthday present for my brother. I have such wonderful knitting friends. I feel like such a heel because I forgot to give Elisabeth her Thank You card when I saw her on Thursday. Ugh! I had it all written and placed in my knitting bag. Then, the entire night passed, and I forgot to give it to her. I guess it will have to wait for Monday night.

Take a look at the way my spinning is coming along. I think it looks pretty good. I am enjoying spinning more and more. I hope that this ends up being knittable yarn. All of this spinning has me wanting to join a swap, and an a-long. I won’t be joining this one because of timing/budget issues. I would like to join in as I think it looks really nifty. I attempted to talk myself into participating. I tried to pretend that I could make it happen. Perhaps I could, but I'm not signing up for something unless I can be quite sure of my ability to live up to my end. But, hey, you might want to check it out. They're still looking for more participants, especially Virgin Spindlers. So, if you've been considering giving handspindling a go, this could be your chance.

Now, I’m afraid of joining this one because I worry about not being good enough. Margene has kindly encouraged me to join. I’ll keep up my spinning practice and see how I feel when the time comes. I’ve been greatly inspired by her spinning over the summer. I'm really beginning to think that I might join in, as it is an a-long, rather than a swap. No one will be waiting and depending upon me to do well for this event to be a success. I just did a quick search, and my local library has The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. Since it's currently available, I think I might go try and check it out tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

FO, Sorta

I knit the last stitch, finished the shoulder seams, and lay the garment out to admire it. I’m disgusted. I pull the top on, and feel worse. I cannot even post a picture of the Ballet Camisole at this point. Ugh! There is so much more to be done. It isn’t time for this fat lady (okay, so lady might be a stretch) to sing. This is good on two counts. One, I cannot sing worth a flip. Two, there is still hope for this mass of stitches. Ah, finishing work is the favorite part of the process for every knitter, right? There are a number of ends that must be woven in carefully, and invisibly. This is going to be a bit tougher than usual. I’ve tried weaving in one or two, and the result has been woefully visible. This is my first time working with Royal Bamboo. Tips, anyone? There is blocking to be done. That does not bother me one bit. There is the crocheting to finish off the neck and arm openings. For this, I have mixed feelings. I redid the crochet bits on the neck of my Thorn & Thistle top. I like it much better. This gives me confidence. Then there’s the part that makes me feel incompetent. I attempted to help one of my Monday Night Knitting Buddies. Brittany is amazing. She’s a practically brand-new knitter. I believe that her first or second project was The DNA Scarf. Anyway, she had completed the knitting of her Soleil, and needed a bit of assistance crocheting the edges. While I was able to show her how to crochet, and tell her what to do, it wasn’t quite coming out to our satisfaction. All I could offer was, “Rip back and try again until you get the look and feel you like.” I wanted to be helpful and admired. I wanted to sound wise and appear capable. I wanted to do more. But hey, I was just offering up the advice for what I do. There may be a magical mathematical formula for it all, but sometimes I think you’ve just got to get a feel for things. I was able to fix Beth’s problem with the clutch she was knitting and will felt. Then when it came to sewing it up, I felt that my advice fell short. We shall see what happens. I guess it is good that it’s a felted project. So, why all of this not-so-sudden lack of confidence? Why all the worry about my teaching ability? It’s Sock Wars. Yeah, I have been following the first two rules and telling everyone about it. So what’s the problem with that? Some of my Sock Wars anxiety comes from the fact that I knit two socks on one circular needle. Huh? You thought that this might sound like an advantage. I don’t know that it will help me out or anything, but I do know that it caused something to happen. It goes something like this (edited to combine several encounters; not all of this is fact-based):

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #1: Wow! Look, Sarah is knitting socks.

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #2: Whoa! Are you knitting both socks at the same time?

Sarah: Yep

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #1: Let me look at that. Oh, I’ve always wanted to knit socks. How many needles are you using?

Sarah: It’s just one really long circular needle. They call it the Magic Loop. See?

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #3: Sarah is so cool. I’ll never be as cool as she is, nor will my knitting ever begin to approach her advanced skill level.

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #1: Sensei Sarah, wouldst thou honor us with lessons?

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #2: Yes, please, Knitting Guru Sarah! We are humbled in your presence, and desire for you to teach us. I don’t think I could handle dpns, but if you could impart your circular wisdom to us, I believe I could be a socknitter.

Monday Night Knitting Buddy #3: Please lead us into battle. The start of Sock Wars looms ever closer, and we have never knit socks before. Save us, Great Sarah! Two socks on one circ is the only way we can hope to survive. You are the lone practitioner of this most ancient magic. Please don’t let the magic die with you. Won’t you pass on your ways to the new generation?

Sarah: Sure.

Monday Night Knitting Buddies: (in unison) Thank you, oh wise one, our greatest hope is to be slain by you in the Sock Wars.

So, the upshot of this is I am trying to come up with a good way to show others how to Magic Loop 2-on-1 in such a way that they can do it. That, and to not break out in stinky stress sweat. Oh yeah, and to not make any mistakes, let alone plain old showing them incorrectly. I shouldn’t worry so much. I will do my best, and be sure to offer other resources that may be more helpful than I am. They all know that I am human. Actually, it has been discussed that none of these people exist, and that they are all figments of my imagination. If this turns out to be true, I don’t have to worry (at least not about teaching). I already know how to do Magic Loop 2-on-1.

That’s right, just two more rounds from the charts and then the ribbing to finish these.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Round and Round

Yep, I’ve been spinning. I’ve been trying to make sure that I get in more time with the spindle on a regular basis. I hope that this will lead to improved yarn results. That’s part of the difference for me between spinning and knitting. Even when I was a beginning knitter I was able to produce nice, useful, knitted objects. A brand new knitter’s very first stitches could result in a garter stitch scarf if carried on long enough. It is true that over the years I have improved and become able to create a greater variety of nicer and more complex garments and accessories, but I was always able to make something. Once I knew how to make a knit or purl stitch, I created knit and purl stitches. My spinning has been another thing altogether. What I have previously created has not resembled yarn. I feel wasteful that I’m using up fiber and not producing something good enough that I can use it to knit. I’ve made messes. I’ve gotten in touch with the drop portion of drop spindle. I’ve created tangles. Now, however, I am beginning to make yarn. I know you can hardly wait to see my real-live, real-little, skein of handspun (penny included for scale). I may keep this little skein as a reminder of when I first created yarn. Then again, I might want to try and knit with it. What to try and knit with it is another question. I know that I have spun up 8 grams (1/4oz). What I don’t know is my yardage. Soon I will set my husband to constructing a niddy noddy for me. It’s not that I cannot make one myself, but he likes doing that sort of thing. He will probably have improvements to make on any set of directions I might provide. I plan to go the cheap-o PVC route for now. In the meantime, I’ve taken to spinning with the fiber my mom brought back for me from Estes Park Wool Market last year. She bought me the fiber, a nostepinne, and a spindle. The fiber is Polypay Wool Top, and it has been dyed some really groovy greens and purples with plain bits, too. The nostepinne and spindle are from Magpie Woodworks (no website). I never felt I spun well enough (and I never put in enough practice time) to do anything with the fiber. A couple of years ago I bought a kit with a Louet drop spindle and some fiber from Blue Goose Glen Farm at the Harvest Days and Fiber Festival at Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The wool from the starter kit is what I’ve spun up for this first little skein. Anywho, I’m going to keep working at the spinning on as close to a daily basis as I can. I’m having fun with the colored roving. I see how it looks different as I spin it up, and wonder how it will look when it is plied. It’s an adventure. Speaking of adventures, a fiber acquisition opportunity approaches. The Monday Nighters have planned a trip here on Saturday. I might be able to join them.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Just Peachy

Sometimes good things can happen when you outsmart the map. Truth is, we didn't look at our directions until we thought we had reached the point in our journey when we would begin to need them. It turns out that Mapquest had planned for us to get off the road we were on much earlier. However, it we had followed those instructions, we would not have been able to take the exit to a nice fruit stand where I took a picture of the Pomatomus and Bruce bought a big basket of peaches.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sock Wars

It has been called the knitalong to end all knitalongs. Okay, so I haven't read this description of the event anywhere, but I want to impress upon you the enormity of this happening. There were over 200 sign-ups in the first week. You still have plenty of time to join in on the fun (sign-up deadline is 8 September). I'm pretty excited about all of this. I've been telling everyone about it. My husband think it sounds nifty, too. When I wasn't sure about taking part in it, he was encouraging me to jump in and become a part of the madness. I'll need to clear the sock needles to get ready. This will help me move my Pomatomus from the needles to my feet. I think this is going to be fun. I don't see myself winning, but that's not really the point. Still, the worst case scenario is a new pair of knitted socks. Yes, I know there are always possible flakes and other things that can happen, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm going to play by the rules and have fun playing this game.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Monday Night Knitting Report

I almost stayed home. Then I saw the enthusiasm in the e-mails of others that would be there, and I decided to go. There was more gabbing than knitting that night. First it was double show and tell. JJ had returned from a business trip to California and brought back yarn for Jaspher. They generously gifted each of us with yarn. I got this extra groovy Cascade Pearls. Margaret’s Knitpicks order had arrived. She had a boatload of shade cards for us to view. That is so cool. I can’t tell all about the rest of her yarn because I want to wait for the finished object. Begin to prepare yourselves now. I don’t know when it will happen, but it is awesomely frightening for some, and frighteningly awesome for others.

Eventually I did get the needles out and began to knit. I didn’t get but about three stitches in when I saw something was wrong. There was a problem with my Pomatomus that I could not reconcile (more on that later). I had already begun and completed one project that day. Don’t get too impressed. It was a sweatband made from worsted weight cotton. I shoved more of that yarn into my knitting bag before I headed out that night. It was a good thing that I did. Otherwise I would have been just sitting and not knitting. Sure, I had a ball of Royal Bamboo and the Ballet Camisole pattern, but I still couldn’t decide on the right size (details to follow on this, too). So, I pulled out some needles and that cotton, cast-on, and began knitting. They asked what my project was, and to answer I modeled the one I had made earlier that day. They got a good laugh. Do sweatbands improve the appearance of anyone? Not mine, nor anyone else’s I’ve seen. Still, they serve a function, and I’ve needed to knit more.

I sweat when I exercise. I’ve been expanding my exercise repertoire, and to aid in this, I received another sweet prize. Margaret kindly gave me her old VHS copy of Buns of Steel Power Yoga. Her VCR is kaput, and since she doesn’t plan to get another, she passed this workout video on to me. I viewed it last night, and I know that it will challenge me. It is a great addition to my exercise video collection especially because I’ve needed more stretching. Of course it will also serve to strengthen and get my heart going.

Monday Night Knitting is very dear to me. I’m thinking about something for them. I won’t write about it in case they stumble across the blog. They really do help me and my knitting. In fact, I think that it was the fact that I spent time with them that I was able to fix two knitting problems. One was the Pomatomus. Turns out I just needed to read some of the written directions to see what to do before working another repeat of the chart. Next, I figured out which size to knit on the Ballet Camisole. I was so focused on the chest measurement. Then I looked at the numbers on the schematic and the measurement at the bottom of the top let me know which size will be best. I’ve progressed a couple of rounds on the socks, and I’ve cast on and passed the ribbing on the camisole. I’m doing things and it is good. I was beginning to stall out a bit.