Mellow Yellow

Recently I welcomed home a dozen or so knitting projects that had taken kind of an extended vacation at a friend’s house. You know that feeling you get when you pick up a half-read book and must scan through it to see what you’ve read, to guess how far you got before the bookmark fell out? Try looking at something you started making, and realizing that not only do you not know when you started it, but also have no idea what it was going to be, where the pattern is, or what convinced you to venture down this path in the first place.

Some projects, of course, I recognized right away. I didn’t even have to open my Apple-store string pack to know that there was a Season 18 Doctor Who scarf in progress inside, on now-out-of-production Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick of Purple, Wine, and Terracotta. (I’m still looking for three more skeins of Terracotta or I can’t ever finish this scarf. Does anyone have some?)

Other projects never got past their yarn (and sometimes pattern) being stuffed into a project bag. Those got quickly sorted out and the yarn returned to stash.

A few projects, barely started, had lost their fire. I gave each one a moment of silence, pulled out and stored their needles, then frogged the project (pulled out all the stitches and rewound the yarn ball) and returned its components to stash.

Most of the projects that were well underway seemed to be worth finishing at some point, so they went back into a mesh pop-up laundry basket I had purchased specifically for WIP (work-in-progress) storage. Yes, TARDIS cowl-redesigned-into-lace-scarf, I will finish you someday.

But Brandy, between chuckles at me, was knitting on something and I wanted to knit something too. None of my current projects seemed to fit the bill — Drunken Octopus Sweater and Cozy Slippers were both at the seaming stage and I wanted to knit and talk, not seam new things in poor light in the evening. So I looked over my prodigal projects and found Citron.

A little slice o' lemon.

A little slice o’ lemon.

Citron is a semicircular shawl pattern that came out in the winter of 2009. It’s a distinctive pattern and actually quite simple to make, but it is done with laceweight yarn. Working on it is pretty much like knitting with slightly thick sewing thread. And there are hundreds of stitches on your needle, so you need a long circular needle, preferably with very pointy metal tips so you don’t split your yarn. I have bought some quantities of laceweight over the years, but Citron is the only project I’ve ever used any with.

But first, what row was I on when I stopped?

Check your pattern notes.

The pattern isn’t in the project bag.

Well… check your pattern binders, the shawl volume.

The pattern isn’t in there.

Well… check your Ravelry library.

I got out a laptop and checked. Well, it’s technically in my Ravelry library, but since it’s a pattern from an online source, it’s not a separate PDF.

Well… check the knitting pattern folder on your laptop.

Lots of shawl patterns there, but not Citron.

Well… print it out again from the Knitty site.

I tried, but the laptop was so old and slow it never managed to load Knitty.

Fine then, use the big computer and print it out from that one.

So I did. Now I had the pattern in hand (and soon in a sheet protector). From my Ravelry project file I saw that I’d made it to (or through) Row Six of Section Three. (“You kept notes?” said Brandy. “Good girl!”)

And as quick as that, I was back knitting on a five-year-old pattern that my notes said I hadn’t touched since the fall of 2011. I’m now at the end of Section Three. There are two more sections knit in the same way, then a ruffled edging that is not really my thing but is most definitely the pattern’s thing, and I shall knit it as specified. The joke is that I’m halfway done now, and if you measure by project segments (done with three, three more to go) you could come to that conclusion. But since the middle of each section adds 23 more stitches (twice), the row I’m on has me at 177 stitches and increasing to 348, and the ruffled edging produces 540 stitches that I then must knit in stockinette for 11 more rows before binding off… there’s a lot of knitting left and I’m nowhere near halfway done in terms of time or stitches.

But I’m knitting on it again and I shall finish it. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have bought fresh Peace Fleece yarn for a project to knit during the Winter Olympics at Sochi.

What will it be? Not socks.

What will it be? Not socks.

Week Fifty-Two: All Good Things

This week WordPress sent me a little “happy anniversary” notice. It was seven years ago when I registered my first blog with them — the one you’re reading now. I’ve started several other blogs since then, to focus on different fringe interests, but this is the blog that keeps going and growing, and gradually absorbing the other topics back into itself. I wonder why December 23 was the special day, when I had a six-month-old baby Tommy and three older children to take care of. It was probably time to switch to a blog from my e-mail newsletter, Wisconsin Crafter, because it was the end of a year.  I like starting new things on January 1, on Sundays or Mondays, or on the first day of a month. Launching a new initiative on, say, May 17 just wouldn’t make sense to me. How would I ever keep track of it?

But since WordPress is keeping track of it for me, well, happy anniversary to me! Hallmark’s website tells me that the traditional gifts for a seventh anniversary are wool or copper. (The modern gift is a desk set. I do have an antique desk at which I sit in front of my modern computer and write, and I do have a desk set somewhere; maybe I’ll tidy it up and use it.) I think I have bought enough wool for myself that I could knit up a little something special just for me. Copper is a bit trickier. Jewelry seems like an obvious path to take, but I don’t have pierced ears and I don’t wear rings, watches, or necklaces. I do have a few friends who make custom jewelry, and maybe they can give me some suggestions for some sort of commemorative item. A copper pen? A little hand-hammered copper bowl? I’m not sure.

Scratch that; I just found and ordered a hank of wool/silk laceweight yarn in a gorgeous tonal copper colorway. As my son James would say, “Achievement get!”

Well, now, since I’m closing out the year, I’d better be honest and take one last look at those resolutions I published 52 weeks ago.

Thusly, I resolve that, in 2013 (!!!) I shall:

  1. Blog on Chocolate Sheep again, and regularly. Dare I say, weekly?
  2. Finish the Doctor Who scarf I’m knitting for my friend Ginnie.
  3. Complete my calculus class.
  4. Learn one new cast-on.
  5. Find a Most Excellent Job in my chosen field of technical and scientific editing.
  6. Learn one new cast-off.
  7. Help my kids be awesome.

Seven looks like a good number, don’t you think?

I think I can honestly say I accomplished numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7. Number 6 just didn’t get much attention, and Number 3, as mentioned in greater detail a few weeks ago, was a spectacular failure. Overall, though, I think I did pretty well. The weekly blogging was sometimes a challenge, but I did learn how to use the Schedule function for posts so that I could publish pre-written ones when I was traveling. After a while I got used to the rhythm of writing what was essentially a weekly column, and I found I could usually produce something mildly entertaining by Thursday (sometimes Friday).

So, do I have any new and impressive resolutions ready for 2014?

No… not really. I still have a lot of unfinished business around here. I would like to become more monogamous with my knitting, and finish the really large projects I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. I’d like to start quilting again and make some more durable and functional quilts that the kids and I can use. I’d like to deepen my friendships. I’d like to be braver. I’d like to be a better cook. I’d like to study more math and physics. And most of all, I’d like to keep writing. I can’t (and won’t) promise that I will keep to a regular weekly schedule for my posts here, but it’s quite possible that I’ve picked up a very good habit and that’s when the writing will appear.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for me. See you on the other side!

Week Thirty: Slogalong

I’m still cranking away on the mystery giftknit project, which I’m starting to believe is really a black hole for yarn. Projects made with bulky yarn and big needles are supposed to go quickly… aren’t they? This one is sucking up time and yarn as if it doesn’t care what combination of dye lots it’s made from. It it’s not careful, it is going to have STRIPES.

This image was swiped from the Yarn Harlot's blog from a post made in June 2005. I hope Stephanie doesn't mind.

This image was swiped from the Yarn Harlot’s blog from a post made in June 2005. I hope Stephanie doesn’t mind.

I have done lots of knitting projects that turned into slogs. There’s the KAL — the knitalong — and then there’s the slogalong, a group event hosted for people to support each other as they struggle to finish Those Projects Which Do Not Want To Be Completed. They may come about over such decisions as choosing to knit a lace bedspread, or to make one dishcloth a day over the course of the year. Whatever circumstances fostered the poor judgment that brought you to this state, at some point you just have to get your needles out and finish the cussed things. (Or rip them out completely and just make something else. But with this much time already invested, do you really want to rip it all out? I didn’t think so. You’re not a quitter. You can do this. You can DO this!)

(Ahem.)

I’ve knitted, um, more than one Doctor Who scarf. I’ve knitted more than one blanket. And I have made some scarves that look simple on the outside, but actually took years to finish because of how long I had to set them aside between steps. Sometimes the pattern directions are misleading (I’m looking at YOU, “198 Yards of Heaven”). Sometimes the stitches are complicated, and require your full attention at a time when you can’t give anything your full attention. Sometimes you just don’t have good mojo, or flow, or karmic balance. Sometimes Mercury is in retrograde and gets blamed for everything. And sometimes all you can do is slip the darned thing off the needles and calmly say, “I guess the yarn didn’t want to be a sweater.” (Knitters really say these things. Back me up, O People of the Yarn.)

Scroll slowly for maximum effect. It’s 13 feet long.

Projects that aren’t inherently monumental can turn into slogs because you’re bored or something’s terribly, terribly wrong and you just haven’t seen it yet. If you’re bored, you might think, “Gee, I’ll just set this aside for a minute and work on something quick and easy to get back into the right frame of mind.” Sixteen more enjoyable projects later, whether you finished them or not, you still have to go back to that original project and decide what you’re going to do about it. They don’t knit themselves. You have to make a decision and take responsibility for it (and that’s probably what we’re trying to avoid).

On the other hand, if it’s taking forever and you’re not bored, something might indeed be terribly, terribly wrong. Find a trusted friend, get out the measuring tape, and uncork the wine. There might be tears tonight, and the sooner you cry them and start over, the better. A cardigan with two left sides really won’t block out. I’m sorry. So very, very sorry.

I will knit on, hoping this mystery project never feels like a slog to me. It’s being made for the best of reasons and with all good intentions. Every stitch is filled with love. All 600,000 of them.

There’s still time to cast your vote as to how you feel I should celebrate/commemorate my 400th blog post. Just go to last week’s post and click on something in the poll. If you have detailed suggestions as to what you think I should do (AHEM! You know what I meant. Keep it CLEAN, people) then feel free to leave a comment. Or tell me how you’ve celebrated a milestone of your own.

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Week Twenty-Seven: Kicking the Bucket

2007’s “The Bucket List” is another one of those Movies I Haven’t Seen (shhh), but everyone is familiar with the concept of a bucket list. Mine has music on it. Sure, I’d like to travel (Canada, Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan), but seeing bands live in concert is more likely.

My Bucket List of Performers
Barenaked Ladies
Barry Manilow
Those Darn Accordions*
Weird Al Yankovic

umm…can’t think of anybody else right now. If I saw a living legend such as Paul McCartney or Paul Simon or Eric Clapton live I might just explode, so gods like that aren’t even on the wishlist. Keep in mind that I have already been fortunate enough to have seen Don Henley (and Susanna Hoffs!), Pink Floyd, Jackson Browne, Koko Taylor, Bill Cosby, a Cinematic Titanic show on Joel Hodgson’s birthday, They Might Be Giants (twice), and Rush (multiple times). And just writing a letter of appreciation to Tom Lehrer is a bucket list item I need to accomplish. Oh, yeah, I would like to see Lydia Loveless more often, but she doesn’t get to Wisconsin very often. I may have to settle for playing Scrabble against her at Thanksgiving. ;)

Her schedule should be at this link — if she’s in your town, you’ll kick yourself if you miss her.

Last year I actually had tickets to a Barry Manilow concert, but he cancelled it when he realized he wasn’t coming back from hip surgery as well as he’d hoped. That’s totally fair, and I understand, but the rescheduled date didn’t work for us and we ended up selling the tickets. So I still have to hunt Barry down before he stops touring the world and doing shows. (But dang, those tickets are expensive.) I’ve wanted to see him since approximately 1978.

Where I was, and Barry wasn't.

Where I was, and Barry wasn’t.

Well, last week I got to sort of cross one of these bands off my list when I discovered that Weird Al had written a second children’s book and was doing a signing on the west side of Milwaukee. We were so there. Even though we so didn’t plan the evening out completely, and didn’t get to eat dinner until after our books were signed by the gracious Mr. Yankovic at 10:15pm, I call it a success. I would still love to see him and his band in concert, but if it doesn’t happen, I got to shake his hand…and forgot to ask him to sign my “Bad Hair Day” CD.

It's him! It's really him!

It’s him! It’s really him!

This week my list gets even shorter. I have tickets for my oldest son and I to see Rush — the sixth (?) time for me, but the first time for him. That alone should make for a fantastic evening, but then I looked at the festival schedule and saw there was a Rush tribute band performing twice before the Rush concert. (Okay, so we’ll go early and catch that too! Squee!) Then I did a double-take at the festival schedule and saw that Barenaked Ladies will be performing after the Rush concert. (Okay, so we’ll also stay late and catch that too! Double squee!)

They performed this in Grand Rapids on June 30, so there’s a chance I’ll get to hear it!

One of the fun songs from the “Gordon” album. It was hard to pick something representational that wasn’t “If I Had a Million Dollars.” They are so silly here but I love their energy.

The stars don’t align like this every year, which should give me time to recover from the ticket prices and save up for the next passing accordion band.

—————

*I am a sucker for happy party music in any language and from any culture. It can be conjunto, ska, zydeco, Celtic punk, or a Polish-language polka Mass; if it features a sprightly accordion, I’m in! This explains my attraction to They Might Be Giants, Weird Al Yankovic, and Barry Manilow (he was a good Jewish boy and faithfully took his accordion lessons). So, when I heard that there was a whole BAND named after accordions, I just had to put them on the list.

—————

In other news, I finished knitting the pair of slippers for my grandmother, and stunned my knitting group by working on a sock project they hadn’t seen for months. They think I’m all about the lace shawl these days. I like to get them off balance every once in a while.

And when The Teen came with me to knitting tonight, Bonnie started teaching him how to crochet. He’s already doing it better than I do. (They said so. Harrumph!)

Published in: on July 3, 2013 at 8:35 am  Comments (1)  

Week Sixteen: Decisions and Revisions

The calculus train is barrelling along past Reimann Sum station now, and I’m staying in my seat and taking all the notes I can. I’m keeping up with my homework on antiderivatives, summation notation, indefinite integrals, and definite integrals. There will be an exam in two weeks covering this material, and I’m not scared of it. The biggest problems this week have been (a) slipping on the frosty ramp outside the house and bruising my hip, shoulder, hand, and ego; (b) getting almost to school and realizing I was driving the car that didn’t have the commuter window-sticker; and (c) getting so wrapped up in my homework that I lost track of time and was a minute or two late to class. They didn’t all happen on the same day (but two of them did).

The smaller the interval you measure, the closer you get to an accurate estimate of the area under the curve.

Of course, I know me by now, and when things are going well I tend to extrapolate the success to the nth degree. If I solve one computer hardware issue I think I should work as a Genius at the Apple Store. If I write a haiku I wonder how I’ll ever have time to finish my epic metered saga. One good pot of soup, and I’m thinking up graphic treatments for a cookbook series. If I think of an improved mousetrap design, I fret over my inability to purchase enough warehouse space to store all the inventory. That sort of thing. It’s more amusing now that I can catch myself in the act of making ridiculous or disproportionate future plans, and ground myself gently back in reality.

horsebeforecart1

Thoughts like these have started me wondering about my academic future. Enough people have asked me if I were going back to school this fall that I started wondering, too. I went from “no” to “probably not” to “maybe” to “I think I’ll change my major to Pure Mathematics and get a full time job too and edit at night and invent cold fusion” in the space of an afternoon. Well, except for the cold fusion. I’m sure someone else has that all worked out by now.

I caught the thought, then I held it and took a more critical look at it. The physics professors seem distressed at the thought of my being a math major. What are you going to do with a math degree? Well, the same thing I was going to do with a physics degree at age forty-coughcoughcough — learn everything I can about what I’m interested in, while I still can. I’m interested in education but not in teaching, but who knows? With four technically oriented kids, being able to teach math might come in extremely handy. I’m interested in the history of math, the history of science, and the history of language. I don’t have five lifetimes in which to read everything, so I need to choose my reading matter carefully. For that, a structured course seems like a good idea. What’s it all good for? Well, it’s going to help me become more like me. That should be the purpose of education — to help you develop your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. It’s your choice as to whether you apply that towards finding a job or not. Personally, I think that this experience and education will eventually land me in a place where I’m making a living, but I just can’t see all the details from here. Not yet.

The math-and-numbers side of me is now being balanced by my words-and-letters side. I’m not just playing Words With Friends and Scramble any more; I’ve gotten a client who would like me to edit his book manuscript and help him get published. While I’m waiting for him to sign and return his contract, I’ll go ahead and hard-copy edit his first two chapters and keep track of my time so I can figure out my rates for future jobs. I’m also editing a friend’s dissertation for chapter-by-chapter publication in an academic journal. I’m reading fiction and nonfiction. I’m writing every day and blogging every week. And I’m still playing Words With Friends and Scramble. Finding point-scoring combinations among the letter tiles isn’t interfering with my “mathing” any more, so I’m just trying to stay balanced.

Then there’s knitting, that combination of wool, coding, artistic expression, and applied topology. I’m doing finishing (weaving in loose ends) on a huge project, turning a heel on a sock, designing a mathematically and artistically geeky scarf, and knitting a lace-edged narrow shawl that’s a therapeutic exercise.  My friend Bonnie has taught me how to do a Long-Tail cast-on — in fact, this patient woman has taught it to me twice so far — so I have a new tool in that particular toolbox.

As usual, all I need is time. T.S. Eliot assures me that won’t be an issue:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
— “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Week Seven: Renewal

After much agonizing, I have decided to renew a library book which I detest. Two weeks ago, there I was at the library, minding my own business, having dropped by to pick up a series of graphic novel-style mathematics books for my 6-year-old son. On my way to check out the books, I happened to notice a new arrival — a book on Euclid and his amazing book, Elements. I thought it would make a good introduction to book and author before I sat down and tackled Elements for myself.

Wrong, wrong, couldn’t have been more wrong. I started hating this book on Page Three.

Don’t even point.

Wait — now that I look back at it, I realize that I started hating this book waaaaaay before Page Three. Because I hate that the quote from Blaise Pascal that appears before the preface is in untranslated French.

I also hate the preface, which gave me my first sense of the author’s writing style.

It got worse from there.

I soon decided that the only proper course of action for me was to write a scathing review of this book so that I could warn off any of its potential readers. Time is precious these days. If I could establish that this book is a waste of both time and space, we could all move happily on to the next item in the queue. However, I didn’t think it would be fair to be nasty about a freshly published book that I didn’t actually finish reading. (Think back to high school. Can you imagine your Literature teacher’s reaction if you had attempted to turn in a book report on a novel you didn’t finish?) So, I struggled forward, trying to keep my temper. It wasn’t my book, so I couldn’t throw it with great force. I did toss it aside often, though. Then I would think, “It’s not that long. I can really get through this” and pick it up again. Then I would yell “I HATE THIS BOOK!” and put it down again. So my progress in the reading of it was not that swift or consistent over the last two weeks.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the library… the book is due this Friday. I had 48 hours left to read the book, and 96 hours’ worth of more pleasant and useful things to do within that 48 hours.

So I’m going to try to renew it tomorrow. Between chapters, or segments, or paragraphs perhaps, I shall be sharpening my pen and charging up my electrons. I have two more weeks…. unless someone else, perhaps the author’s mother, is on a waiting list for it.

Slop season. Not spring.

Slop season. Not spring.

One might also look out one’s window here in Wisconsin and imagine that spring is coming and this is a time of renewal. Think again, bucko, it’s only mid-February. Just because you can see patches of grass amongst the snow, slush, and mud doesn’t mean the crocuses are coming any time soon, nor should they dare. And you should probably stay inside yourself if you know what’s good for you. Flu, whooping cough, and black ice are laying for you.

So. Until Spring is really here and there are better things to read that don’t have such a tight deadline and bizarre moral imperative, there is knitting to do. The dropped-stitch lace scarf is complete and has been entered on the Finished Projects page. I have cast on for a Wingspan scarf/shawl and gotten a couple of sections done. It has kind of an unusual construction, but the knitting itself is quite easy. So far, there are three of us in my local knitting group who are making them.

Wingspan in progress

(I don’t know why I can’t get the photo to show up. Sorry, just click the link.)

During the past week I have also gotten my oldest child signed up for his freshman year of high school. He is almost 14. He is almost as tall as I am (he checks this every morning). However, he is nowhere close to understanding just how ambitious his desired schedule actually is: Honors English, Eastern Cultures, Science 9, Geometry, P.E., German 1, and Intro to Engineering. I can’t wait until we get started on this in the fall and pour hormones into the mixture, add heat, and see what happens! He is a bright boy — he will just have to work harder at this than he realizes.

And now, a special announcement:

UNWIND 2013

I’m happy to announce that we are in the planning stages for the 6th “Unwind” social event, to be held Saturday, September 7, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

This event is NOT an official Sheep & Wool event, nor is it an official Ravelry event. It is a private party that you are invited to! The price of admission (which is cheaper, the earlier you register) covers dinner, a goody bag, a chance at a door prize, and the chance to hang out with some seriously fun knitters, crocheters, spinners, and others! And yes, you can and totally should bring your needles, hooks, wheel, spindle, and what-have-you. All the cool people are doing it.

On your registration form you can also choose to purchase a T-shirt. When you arrive at the Festival on Friday or Saturday and check in at our table in the main building, which should be just in front of the fence around the Silent Auction items, you will pick up your goody bag and T-shirt.

We have a cap of 150 attendees, so if you want to come, please sign up early. We can take walk-ins at check-in time at the Festival grounds, but NOT at the event itself.

Updates, discussions, and Q&A should take place in the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival group on Ravelry.

If you would like to help sponsor the event or donate a door prize, please email me or PM me on Ravelry.

I hope to see you there — I’ll be the one wearing the Doctor Who Scarf!

Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm  Comments (1)  

Week Four: The sum of the parts

If a pile of unrelated halves could add up to a shorter pile of related wholes, I’d have more progress to report — at least, progress in the Finis! Mission Accomplished! Level Complete! sort of way. But, to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, “That isn’t my way, is it?”

Well then, let’s see what we do have.

I finished one slipper (half of a pair) and a washcloth.

(no new picture since last week. feel free to use your imagination.)

Here is half of a sock that I cast on for while watching my alma mater play hockey against the team whose TV coverage I can actually receive in my home.

Half a sock is better than.... no, it's still just half a sock.

Half a sock is better than…. no, it’s still just half a sock.

Wait…. here’s half of a pair of socks! That’s better, right?

The sock for which I had sufficient yarn.

The sock for which I had sufficient yarn.

To tell the truth, I actually showed up at Thursday morning knitting group with this sock just to prove that I had actually knit a sock. We’re a little funny about socks, my group is. If you don’t make socks at all, we’re fine with that. It’s a lifestyle choice we can both understand and respect. If you tried making socks and you suck at making socks, we’re fine with that. Oh, we will tease you about it, but really, we’re fine with that, too. But if you can make socks and nobody ever sees you making socks, well… we seem to have a problem with that. The gang actually chipped in the summer before last and made a birthday present for me out of sock needles, sock yarn, and a sock pattern because I “never make socks.”

This sock had an interesting origin. I discovered somehow that Wisconsin would be playing Miami University last weekend. Now, if you know much about Sports of Any Kind, you should know right away that this is an Unusual Occurrence, as Miami is usually in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Wisconsin is in the Big Ten/11/12/13 Conference. However, when it comes to HOCKEY, it’s a little bit different. You play the nearest hockey teams. Sometimes, and more often than you might think necessary, you play teams in Alaska. Now, Miami has recently had a most excellent hockey team and Wisconsin, so far as I knew, wasn’t on the college-hockey-playing map. This year has been an exception; Miami has struggled, while Wisconsin built up an impressive winning streak. Even Miami’s “hockey blog” group predicted that, at best, Miami would win one and lose one over the weekend.

That’s exactly what happened. Wisconsin won the Friday night game as I cast on for this Miami-colored [and coincidentally Wisconsin-colored] sockette made from stash yarn. And Miami broke Wisconsin’s streak by winning the second game on Saturday night, when I was just past the gusset stitches. They were exciting games to watch — although the kidlets still don’t quite understand why I wasn’t rooting for Wisconsin — and I got one sock out of it. Sadly, after weighing the leftover yarn, I’ve concluded that I probably won’t have enough red yarn to make a mate for it. I’ve had plenty of suggestions that I simply reverse the colors in the second sock…. but that isn’t my way, is it?

No, it isn’t.

So I just sent a message to the only person on Ravelry who has a skein of this yarn that they’re willing to sell or trade. Come icing or high-sticking, my little hockey sock will have a mate that well and truly matches.

I haven’t knitted a stitch of the drop-stitch lace scarf, and though I did cast on and knit a couple of rows on the next Gigi slipper, it wasn’t even enough to take a picture of, so that’s all the progress that’s worth reporting on the knitting front.

But on the resolution front? Any news there?

This post takes care of Resolution #1 for the time being. And I made some progress on Resolution #3 by getting my butt down to campus this week and setting myself up for success in calculus. Yesterday I even studied and took extensive notes. I had forgotten quite a bit since I had to suspend my studies, but I finally did find the place in the textbook before which I need not go, and I will re-educate myself from there. I’ll make copies of my notes and start taking on homework problems starting tomorrow. The sooner I get it done, the sooner I’ll be ready for the Most Excellent Job in technical editing.

P.S. I’ve started watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey and should be all caught up by Sunday night. Just so you know.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm  Comments (4)  

Week Three: Then there were six

With Resolution #2 out of the way, and steady progress being made on Resolution #1, you’d think I would have taken care of Resolutions 3 and 4 by now.

Well…not yet. But I have been working on the reorganizations necessary for accomplishment of #3, and some votes are in as far as the particulars of #4. Unfortunately, there’s a tie, so either (a) more people need to vote [did you know you could vote for more than one item?] or (b) I will have to learn TWO new cast-ons.

Until the ballot boxes are stuffed, I can report that I have made progress on a couple of projects. The drop-stitch lace scarf has 9 repeats complete on it now, and a few minutes with a gram-sensitive kitchen scale and a wooden ruler showed me that I ought to be able to squeeze 28 total repeats from this quantity of yarn, making the finished scarf about 42 inches long.

This is the 33 percent.

This is the 33 percent.

I also cast on for another pair of cotton slippers for my grandmother. I have made several pairs for her over the last few years. She wears them out and asks for more. I meant to have started these much earlier, but. I started watching Season 2 of Downton Abbey yesterday, and decided it was the perfect time to cast on for the slippers. And so it was. I have already finished one slipper. Then I decided to take a little break by using the leftover yarn from the first ball to start a matching dishcloth. I’m more than half way done with it, then I should have enough yarn left over to make the second slipper. I’m thinking of edging the washcloth with crochet…. maybe just to see if I remember how.

The little-seen Matching Dishcloth and Slipper set.

The little-seen Matching Dishcloth and Slipper set.

Downton Abbey is perfect for garter stitch, or any other knitting you can do without checking on it constantly. And in the episode I watched today (okay one of the episodes; I’m trying to catch up so I can watch Season 3 with the rest of the world), there was the first depiction of knitting. Different sorts of needlework are constantly being mentioned and shown, but this time the red-headed Irish maid, Ethel, had a ball of green yarn she was apparently working into the panel of a sweater.

This is probably Ethel's most respectable talent.

This is probably Ethel’s most respectable talent.

The weather right now is sunny but cold, and this weekend we go from a high of 38° on Saturday to a high of 15° on Sunday, with temperatures expected to stay frigid for several days. No snow, just bone-chilling cold. Perfect knitting weather. I’m looking forward to finishing these projects and casting on for new things in bright, cheerful colors. Maybe even wild and outrageous colors! Or maybe I will just cast on to make a pile of mittens to replace all the ones my Darling Children have LOST this year. It’s gotten so bad that I have even purchased insulated gloves from the STORE, only to have a child come home wearing only one of them on the afternoon of the first day. ::headdesk:: Perhaps I should just pick a signature color of washable wool blend (I’m considering you, Wool-Ease) and just Never. Stop. Making. Mittens. Out. Of. It. Year-round. For the rest of my days.

They don’t seem to lose the scarves. Maybe I should start making the scarves with the hand-pockets on the ends?

Published in: on January 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Week Two: The Stripes Add Height

I’m a bit late for “Thursdays are for blogging” but this still counts for a weekly update. So, Resolution #1 continues!

I am pleased to report that Resolution #2 has been knocked out of the park! I finished the scarf and bound it off on Sunday night. Now, usually I would go to Monday-morning knitting and I had planned to present it to Ginnie then. But my So-Called-Twins [born 16 months apart] felt under the weather then, so I stayed home too. While they rested, I cut fringe and attached the tassels to the scarf — a dozen tassels on each end, each one with all seven colors that are in the scarf. I brought it to Tuesday night knitting instead, and she was thrilled to finally have it.

The original plan here was that, since Ginnie only crochets and does not plan to learn to knit, I was going to knit a Doctor Who scarf that she would give to her father, who introduced her to the Doctor in the first place. But plans change, and after I started on the scarf she decided she would crochet one for him. That made a lot more sense, since I didn’t know him at all, so I kept working on the scarf with the intent of giving it to her instead. I cast on in April 2011….

Anyway, here is Ginnie. After she posted this picture on Facebook, one of her friends commented that it “made her look so tall.” Yeah. 14-foot-long, foot-wide scarves tend to do that. Personally, I worry it’s going to throw her back out or simply pitch her forward.

So subtle you hardly notice it.

So subtle you hardly notice it.

Resolution #3 was to complete my calculus class. Before I do that, I really will need to get things more organized here. The house is in pretty much the usual state of organic disarray, which means it’s going to provide a billion distractions to getting math and my head to coexist again. I still have a valid commuter pass, so I will probably use it to study on campus a few mornings a week. But I don’t really have any progress to report in that area, so…. moving on to Resolution #4: Learn one new cast-on.

Well, now. The ball’s in your court now, isn’t it?

I’m taking a break from some of my long-time WIPs and working on some different things right now to clear my head. I do need to make another pair or two of slippers for my grandmother, but what I picked up yesterday was a ball of turquoise mystery yarn I had bought at the thrift store. [At least, it's turquoise sometimes. It depends on the light source.] I went to the Ravelry pattern database and typed in “halo yarn” and hit Search. I saw immediately the pattern I wanted to use for my unknown-content, unknown-amount of yarn: Easy Lace Ladder Scarf Pattern. It uses a very simple technique but it’s one I hadn’t used before. (Bonus!) You do straight knitting for six rows. On Row 7 you knit each stitch but add 2 yarnovers before you finish the stitch, and you end with a plain knit stitch. On Row 8 you knit the stitches but drop the yarnovers.

I had a lot of problems with this the first time I got to Row 8 because sliding the stitches toward the needle tip pulled the YOs too tight to go from the cable to the needle. After a little time to think about it, I switched to good ol’ aluminum straight needles and eliminated that little issue. As of right now, I have three repeats done on it. The Rav-enabled can follow along there as I post progress shots; I’m calling it “Fuzzy and Blue” after a song from “Sesame Street.” Haven’t heard of it? Haven’t heard it for thirty years or so? Here you go. You’re welcome.

Fuzzy and Blue (vintage Sesame Street)

Published in: on January 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm  Comments (3)  

Ascending and Descending

Whoa! it’s been a week. Not for knitting — no, not so much for that. All I have been able to work on knitwise was blanket squares, and not so many of those. But as I walk through my evolving work-and-study schedule at school, I’m finding pockets of time that I might be able to use for work that requires more concentration, like the DNA Scarf.

I’m definitely in the right spot at work. I sat down this morning to start a blanket square, and by the time two other people had entered the break room, we were having a lively conversation about knitting, crochet, and the lost art of lace tatting. Not one person has wandered in, watched me work for a split second, and commented cheerfully, “Knit one, purl two, huh?!?” Which is refreshing.

As far as school goes, I got through my first astronomy lab (fun) and my first astronomy quiz (got almost everything right), and emerged from the dizzying Chapter One of the precalculus book and its extremely dry review of linear algebra and entered the peaceful and friendly Chapter Two dealing with functions.

[f(a + h) – f(a)]/h, anyone? Come on, it’s fun! And eventually it’s going to have some cool purpose, I just know it is.

Ascending and Descending, M.C. Escher (1960)

I haven’t exercised this week unless you count repeatedly climbing (and descending, let’s not forget descending) several flights of stairs and crossing acres of campus to deliver Extremely Time Critical campus-mail envelopes. I volunteer for that job every chance I get. The air is crisp, the sidewalks aren’t too slippery, and the way I walk, it’s aerobic. And I’ve been drinking very little soda (until the headaches creep back into my temples, then I have just a teensy bit), mostly having flavored green tea water. It tastes better than I’m making it sound. Zero calories, lots of hydration.

So I was pleased to weigh myself on the Wii this morning and see that I had finally met my incremental goal. It took me about three weeks to lose two pounds, but I did it. The next goal is to lose two pounds by two weeks from now, and by healthier means than by catching a bit of the stomach-bug that’s apparently making the rounds of the house. Jack had an awful day of it on Thursday and stayed home from school on Friday too for good measure; Colleen stayed home from school on Friday as a sort of preventative attempt; Tommy has it now and let’s just say we’ll be washing a lot of bedding today. Poor critters.

Resolution Update

  1. I am publishing this post on Saturday as I promised. Check.
  2. Knitted about three blanket squares. I need a recount on that particular project.
  3. I rehomed a hand-knitted sweater this week. Unfortunately, it was Tyrone, which I absent-mindedly put in the regular wash, thinking the wool was Superwash. Oops. Yep, it felted and would no longer fit my heartbroken five-year-old. (Who promptly insisted I had to knit him a new sweater, RIGHT NOW.) I passed the sweater along to the owners of the local coffee shop where my knitting group meets; their little boy just turned one year old. Anyway, in all other areas, clutter abounds. There is work to do here.
  4. Doing well on my Precalculus homework and Astronomy work. The first Precalc exam will be February 10; the first Astronomy exam should be February 14.
  5. I met my incremental weight-loss goal of two pounds and have set my sights on the next two pounds.
Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 8:27 am  Comments (3)  
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