Friday, August 10, 2007

Melting on Many Fronts

The only thing I seem to be making any progress on these last few days is the Horcrux sock and that is due to my continuing obsession with the pattern and the yarn. But even it has been slow. It's hard to knit anything when the thermometer reads 102 F at 4 pm EST.

Please note that I did try to Photoshop out all parts of my pale toes and leg. As you can gather from the tiny glimpses I couldn't cut out, I avoid the sun at all costs. True, I can't run around looking halfway decent in shorts or a skirt without the aid of pantyhose but it does make this yarn colorway even more neon against that totally pale background.

A flat shot. It is, after all, extremely difficult to take a photo of a sock on your own foot. I love the heel. I love heels in sock knitting anyway. That's where the magic occurs, when you turn the heel and there appears this perfectly fitted cup that conforms so nicely to your own heel (or should if you haven't managed to either choose the wrong style heel for your foot or messed up your measurements). I didn't use the heel flap that the pattern called for, I used my regular slip1, knit1 ribbed-appearing heel flap. I'm sure it has a name but I don't know what it is. It's the first one I learned and it wears the best for me. I did use the heel turn from the pattern though, which produced a much more square heel that wraps around under the bottom of my foot more than my usual round heel, short-rowed partially wrapped method. I like the way it looks. We shall see about how it fits during wear.

Brenda, you should come join in the sock groups. But I will warn you they are extremely addictive. I'm already thinking ahead to the August sock (which shows I am already behind since it's August and I'm not knitting the August sock) and the Louet Gems grey yarn that also came from Mosaic. This link leads to the shop webpage instead of the shop blog (Hi, Gina! Gee, I didn't even notice those cool overhead windows when I was in the shop, I was way too busy jumping into all the yarn bins.)

The christening gown has grown by 2 inches and is now at 6 inches long. It's supposed to be 20.5 inches long before you divide for the bodice. I really would prefer to make it a shorter version since I'm thinking to add either a cute pair of lacy booties or socks to the set plus I can't think about sticking a baby in a long dress when it's 102 F. I know it won't be that hot if I can finish it in time for the baby concerned to actually use it for the occasion concerned but it stays hot here until October. Forget those long sleeves, too. It's either going to be a crocheted edging, maybe something picoted or a picot bind-off or just a little bit of a cap sleeve. I keep having these terrible thoughts of the acrylic melting on the poor kid. BTW, the christening dress and bonnet pattern are from MinnowKnits, Too by Jil Eaton. I've done several of the baby outfits from this book and they've all turned out very well. (Yes, I fooled around with modifying the instructions but I can't seem to follow directions so this is my default setting and the designer's instructions are very well written and will work extremely well for those of you not afflicted with this particular syndrome).

Mystery Stole 3 is quietly resting in the time-out bin where it's been for the past 4 days. I finally thought I had a quiet moment to work on it and did only 2 rows and found myself a stitch short at the end of them. This has to do with the phone ringing and my mother showing up in the middle of the row. I'm new to lace knitting and I have to have solitude to work on this and this was not what I got so now I have to go searching for the missing stitch. If I could find some solitude. It's been sadly lacking this week.

I will invite you to go browse over at Kelly's blog, link in my sidebar, for some of the great scrap layouts she's done, plus she's done one for the Brown Dog himself. He was rather insulted that she implied he needed her permission to stay here but did like the page itself.

The Inconvenient Truth

Now I will venture off into a totally different subject from knitting and that's being Green and carbon emissions. The Tech Gal and her hubby belong to an entirely different political and philosophical bent than I do and this has led to some extremely interesting debates. Much more interesting than the current US Presidential debates because they have a tendency to avoid answering the questions directly, give the exact same cookie-cutter answers they always give, or use the questions as an opportunity to tout some plan they've touted numerous times before that circles back around to not answering the blooming question in the first place. We don't have that problem. We don't avoid the questions, we don't give the same answers, and Heaven knows, we've been known to get very inventive in our solutions, considering they lean one way and I lean the other. We have, at some points, leaned so totally opposite each other, that we have managed to be a very balanced combination. This subject of Greeness seems to be very Politically Correct nowadays and a hot topic. (like the weather it's supposed to be contributing to, eh?) I've always advocated not being wasteful and doing what you could to help out the enviroment, would never dream of throwing trash out the car window, switched to fluorescent lighting (true, the claim a fluorescent bulb would last so much longer was a big factor when it seemed everytime I turned on a light, it popped.) Took some getting used to the different type of light these bulbs give off but I did install them. So I saw that Yahoo had a new category on it's homepage yesterday called "Green".

Naturally, I was curious. I browsed about it for a bit and then decided to take the Calculate Your Impact Test. There are only 7 questions and frankly, I don't think they reflect my impact whatsoever. No "which kind of light bulbs do you use?" or "do you recycle" or "paper or plastic or your own grocery tote bags". So what if I drive an SUV? It's one of the best-rated for gas mileage and there are hybrid SUV's out there. That's not taken into account. And why would you stick my very-well-reseached and chosen-for-it's-gas-mileage SUV in with pick-up trucks and put vans and mini-vans in a separate class? Plus don't tell me to take the transit. There is NO transit in the sticks, boys. (and girls. Let's not be gender-biased, shall we?) Plus I really don't like having to climb my icy, snow-covered hill on foot after negotiating icy, snow-covered roads. It does snow and ice in America and yes, you do need a vehicle that will let you get about in it. Toting tons of groceries up said hill in snow and ice with a wind chill factor of minus 10 sucks. Add in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma and what these weather conditions will do to those and the danger of falling, well, I don't consider this a vehicle I bought for appearances.

We could also go into the fact that yes, I do have 3 bedrooms but the size of mine as opposed to the size of, say, my mom's, is significant. So is what level I set my thermostat on but hey, that's not a category nor is what I use to power my heating/air-conditioning/hot water unit.

But if you find you score WAY over the top as opposed to "the average American" (btw, who IS the average American?), you can bop off to Terrapass and assuage your guilt by buying carbon credits since our government refuses to pony up and join the rest of the world by signing the Kyoto Protocol. (You know, the summit where everyone agreed to cut carbon emissions and promptly starting buying and selling carbon credits amongst each other. Now, how it helps to sell your carbon emissions to a country that has their's under control instead of doing something to curtail it and thus save the world from global warming, which I thought was the entire purpose of the thing, I don't get but I'm digressing.)

Since the American government refused to join in this world thingy, corporations, states, and individuals have taken on the challenge of finding ways to cut carbon emissions themselves. This is a good thing. After all, when this country was first founded, it was founded on the principle of states' rights before federal ones and the federal ones have gotten just a bit out of hand. Of course, the states don't get a passing grade for slacking then trying to blame it on the feds when things go awry. The whole concept of being American used to stand for individuality. So individuals taking on the challenge of fixing things gone awry should be what would be best. However, telling me that I'm polluting with carbon emissions big time but I can take care of the matter by bopping over to the Terrapass site and paying them around $300 just doesn't cut it in my book. First of all, I don't have $300 to give them. Second of all, in checking on them and their practices, they seem very laudatory on the surface. A bunch of Wharton School students who went out and are trying to promote alternative energy usages to cut our dependence on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions. I'll leave it up to you to go read their website and it's description of what they say they do. It's at TerraPass.

This all sounds very good. I'm not totally dissing TerraPass. But I'm suspicious of companies suddenly springing up to do this sort of thing without a background being laid out for what they'll do, how all fiscal information will be disclosed, how all the money is spent (I'm not saying they shouldn't keep some money, you've got to have money to pay for office space, the utility bills, employee's salaries, etc.) as in how much is pure profit for the company after everything else is taken into account and who gets that pure profit? And this is not directed vindictively and solely at this one company. There are others out there doing this same thing. This suspicious attitude of mine was prompted by the "go pay $300" and by reading this article while researching carbon emission exchange companies in general, written by Business Week called "Another Inconvenient Truth" Let's just say, now I'm totally confused and once again have reason to distrust yet another portion of our American world. But then I distrust anything in our American world today that offers to help for a price tag. It seems to me we've gotten very far away from our roots of the best way of fixing a problem being that of pitching in and doing the work to correct it, not throwing money at.

This worst thing about this is the fact I'll be able to hear my son-in-law laughing after reading this all the way up in Maryland. No, I've not come over to the Dark Side yet. But I am looking for a nice place to anchor my safety line.

BTW, if you feel the need to bash me over the head for this opinion, please take the time to coherently and politely explain why. I don't have in-depth knowledge of this subject and I do like reading and learning others' opinions. I DO NOT like flames for the sake of being rude. This is yet another place I feel society in general is failing and falling apart in. Call me ignorant and tell me why but call me names and get banned. Fair enough?

Monday, August 6, 2007

News Flash: New Obsession Gets in Way of Finishing Other Knitting

Okay, so maybe that isn't such a newsflash to most knitters. Knitter's ADD seems to be a fairly commonly occurring symptom amongst most knitters I've spoken to. But this is what I've been working on and really should be desperately striving to finish:

The bonnet and christening dress. Yes, I did warn you that the yarn was fairly lifeless in it's present state. And I haven't totally finished the bonnet-there are several cute little details still involved before it will baby-worthy. The photo doesn't really show it well. You do those little triangles and join them together and, on the bonnet, you then do a reverse stockinette section that allows you to turn the triangle brim back and insert a ribbon before sewing it down. Plus I have finishing to do around the bottom edges that will even up the looseness of it and put a gather at the back of the nape. That mess on the circular around the doggie's neck is the bottom of the dress so far. See the gazillion ends to be woven in? They're not actually as bad as they appear. Half of them are already woven as I knit the triangles together and simply need to tucked and trimmed. The points where I cast on will have to be woven though. Ah, well....

This is where the diverting obsession comes in. As mentioned before, I found and joined the Six_Sox_Knitalong Yahoo group and promptly fell into a swoon. The socks for August are fantastic but I simply had to do the Horcrux socks first. Can you believe I've already gotten this much knitted in just 4 hours of working on them? (Yes, I've timed this. I've timed it because I find I resent doing anything other than knitting on these socks with this yarn and so I found myself counting the minutes I do get to spend playing with them.)

The yarn is Fleece Artist 100% Merino and I don't know if it's showing up on your monitors as well as it does in real life. In real life, it's a dazzling, almost-neon combo of orange, yellow, and a strange kind of brilliant orangey-red-pink. Definitely not socks for the shy. I'm so looking forward to wearing these with the Mary Jane-type shoes I bought specifically because they will show my hand-knitted socks.

I managed to fall into a bit of Yarn Heaven on Friday. It was a tax free weekend for clothing and school items here in Virginia and Martha and I took off early to Christiansburg to go mall hopping. After all, she is a teacher and yes, they do need clothes to wear to school, too. I found some nice clothing deals and even acquired my dear Tech Support gal herself and her hubby a few things. She is still in school, too, and even though it's online classes, it's nice to have clothes on while studying, eh?

Now, if you live anywhere near this area, it's pretty evident that Blacksburg is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, especially with the advent of the new road. So in a very few minutes and with very little persuading of Martha (oh, look, I happen to have directions to Mosaic in Blacksburg. Wow, let's go check it out!), we were on our way. It was very strange and sad to drive past the Virginia Tech campus. Outwardly, it's still the same lovely campus I've always known but the sadness you feel going by is indescribable. It's also there in the townspeople you speak to.

Mosaic is a bit of yarn heaven in Blacksburg. They are the yarn shop that came up with, coordinated and sewed together the blanket squares into blankets for the families of the victims and the wounded survivors of the April 16th tragedy. I was honored and saddened and silenced when I got to touch the few remaining blankets that are still at the shop, awaiting delivery to their intended recipient.

But they are also a bunch of fun-loving, chatty, welcoming knitters. Huge enablers. Not that you need their help with the enabling. Just walking into the shop was enabling enough. Yarn, yarn, and more yarn, all wonderfully displayed to it's best advantage. A nice table in the center of the shop to sit and talk and knit. A nice couch to crash on while looking through magazines and pattern books and discussing best yarn options for this or that pattern and whether the design will suit you. Enough yarn fumes to guarantee that, at some point, you'll have a slight dizzy spell and in falling down, swipe your debit/credit card a la Yarn Harlot style.

I promised them a glowing blog review and here it is. The Fleece Artist sock yarn came from their shop as did several other sock yarns I picked up. I mean, they had yarns I'd only ever either heard others speak of or had seen online. Being able to actually pick up and fondle, er, feel the yarn itself in person is so much better. And they didn't mind their yarn being cuddled, er, checked out for softness factor at all.

The only problem is that this is a serious hazard to my finishing up the projects that HAVE to be finished this month. After all, I still have only have of that loom warped.

Knitman, I thank you for your kind comment on my spinning/sunset colors.

As for me, I've gotta go get my fix, I mean I've got to go watch The Closer and knit on my sock. It's it's allotted time, after all.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Slogging In Place

First, Pedro wishes to thank Michele and a:-) for the kind comments. Yes, Eileen, he still loves you, too, and knows you understand you are his first West Coast sweetie. I just hope his head doesn't get any bigger than it already is.

I've missed blogging the past few days because each and everytime I attempt to, lightning literally strikes. The thrill of living in Virginia in the summertime. You spend most of the day feeling like you're covered by a huge wet woolen blanket if you have to be outside and then, sooner or later, it storms. If it would storm and alleviate the heat and humidity, that would be one thing. But what usually happens is that it pours a sudden monsoon-like downpour of rain, thunder is heard booming for miles, and lightning plays all about the house. If you're lucky and quick, you can get everything unplugged and the a/c off before it hits. This is if you're home. If you're not lucky, you get to replace the a/c unit or the computer or the modem gets fried or a tree falls on something you wouldn't wished it wouldn't have. Ah, well. I still love my house on the hill next to the woods and that's part of living here.

I've had several projects in the works for the last couple of months and been really, really faithful to them. However, that dread disease, Startitis, cropped up about a week ago. Hmm, about the same time I suddenly went AWOL here, eh? I'd like to blame it on Eileen, who kept talking about it but she knows me too well and that I can not be expected to be anything other than a polygamist at the best of times. I found myself looking through magazines, browsing every link anyone mentioned on any list I'm on (and I'm on quite a few), and checking every online shop I have bookmarked, which are also quite a few since I have them for knitting, spinning, and weaving. Guess what? If you're busy browsing, you're not knitting. Or spinning. Or weaving.
So I have exactly this much progress to report on my beautiful roving.

This is it before I started spinning it:

I think it looks like the colors of the sunset I managed to take some snapshots of the other night:

This is the Welsh wool I really liked the looks of when I bought it. Plus it was named "Kelly". I thought it had to be for me. But it and I have not gotten along well at all. Hence the BFL on the bobbin in the flyer instead of it. Those are prickly bits sticking out here and there, if you can tell from my still blurry photos. This is first macro attempt shot, courtesy of Tech Support herself, who recommended I try that to see if it helped.

And this is how much I've gotten done on my weaving the past week:

The idea is that since I'm using the same number of epi's, I only need to tie my new warp onto the ends I had already left after I cut my last project off. (Yes, photos of it will be forthcoming. It's just awfully long and I haven't quite figured out how best to photo it. Not that that matters with the quality of photos I'm exhibiting so far.)
I did finish up the baby bonnet that goes with the christening dress. I chose to use Reynold's Utopia for the yarn, in white. Now it is 100% acrylic and I frankly don't like acrilyc but it feels really soft and it's washable and dryable. But after I finished the bonnet, I discovered it's also totally limp. There is no life to it. No crispness. But what do you do when it's in the 90's (F) and the humidity's killer? I don't have time for a cobwebby heirloom lacey set. And that's about the only way you could do that in this kind of weather. Silk would be as lifeless, as well as let's realize there's none in the stash. Linen. Well, yeah, that would have worked but is somewhat beyond my price range. So it's going to have to be the thought that counts. I mean, it's going to be perfectly fine and it's pretty and all, I just don't like the yarn personally for this project. But I'm forging on and have the 13 triangles knit for the bottom of the dress. That is the sum total of my week's knitting--a bonnet and 13 triangles that felt more like I was knitting 13 gazillion triangles. I thought I'd never get them done. I'm still only 5 rows into Clue 3 on the Mystery Stole 3 and guess what? Clue 5 gets posted tomorrow and so, since I haven't any other projects I really need to do, I went and joined the Six_Sox_Knitalong.
But it was totally worth it. I absolutely love knitting socks and the one for August is wonderful. I do need a solid sock yarn to do it in though and guess what? I haven't any solids at all. Which will lead me right back to where I was at the first of the week--browsing the Internet for something else to either start or buy. Which brings me to Eileen's comment on the name of the mystery sock yarn. No, it isn't Regia. It looks quite a bit like Regia but has a heavier hand to it. I got it on my little expedition up North where I shopped my way through about 6 states. I'm pretty sure it had "Raggi" in the name.
I do have one good thing to report: I got into my spinning class at SAFF. It's the second level one and it'll be my first time to go to SAFF, so I'm really excited about it.
Well, I'm going to go do some actual knitting now. Pedro says buenos tardes to all his fans.