Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday Unicorn!

(Yes, I made a tiny knit unicorn. It's awesome.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And Another Thing

Minimochi Alpaca

I Made a Thing

I've needed some palate-cleansing knitting after my sock-related difficulty. So I've been knitting some tiny, cute, and ridiculous things. Such as a fox.
Tiny Fox
Ridiculous things are so fun to knit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finally Done With Socks!

Okay, I'm not 'done with socks' as in never knitting another pair. I don't think I could deal with that. Instead, I mean I've finally finished the pair of socks I've been working on.
Peacock Socks
These took me over a month to do. My average lately has been two weeks so yeah, these took a while.

The slowness was a combination of factors, including the fact that I've knit this pattern three freaking times. But mostly it was the fact that I used a smaller needle than normal which created a pretty thick fabric and that combined with the massive amount of purling required, my hands weren't always up to the challenge. But I did get it done and they are obnoxious and lovely!

And even more fun, I tried out a new heel - a forked short row heel. It's a neat little heel that fits my high instep, protruding heel bone like a second skin.

Forked Short Row Heel

I'm definitely going to have to try this heel again. (For more detail about how I actually did it, I tried to explain it on my Ravelry project page. It's kind of babbling though so not all that non-knitter friendly.)

I'm not sure what big project is up next. I think I need a mini-break from knitting to recover from this pair of socks. Not an actual break from knitting, just a break from knitting serious projects for a few days. Maybe I'll turn out some ridiculous tiny things. I do love that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book 1: It Took Forever

Yes, still alive here. I know, I've been quiet. In my post-glutening recovery, I managed to catch a stomach bug which squashed me for an additional week. But this week I finally seem to have mostly defeated everything and am back to normal-ish (or what passes for it currently).
"And also," the driver said, facing the mirror, "please remember: things are not what they seem...."

The driver chose his words carefully: "It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day—especially women....

"And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I’ve had that experience myself. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality." (p32)
And now that we are solidly in the middle of the year, I am happy that I can say I've actually read a book! Yeah, it took ages but in my defense, it was over 1200 pages long. Of course, I could have finished it sooner if I had actually read it consistently instead of ignoring it for a couple of months, but oh well. I'll admit, I put it down for a while because I got too attached to the characters (well, Aomame really. She's kind of awesome. Tengo was a bit boring.) because I assumed one of them would be killed.
Constipation was one of the things she hated most in the world, on par with despicable men who commit domestic violence and narrow-minded religious fundamentalists. (p166)
The book was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and it seems like this is either a book you love or you hate. I fall in the "love" category. I didn't get it, but I did really enjoy it.
It was probably Chekhov who said that the novelist is not someone who answers questions but someone who asks them. (p351)
I kept finding myself second guessing what was going on and what would happen and what things meant something and what was just a distraction. Honestly, I'd kind of like to read it again now that I know what happens to see if I could pick up hints as to what it actually means.
As a story, the work is put together in an exceptionally interesting way and it carries the reader along to the very end, but when it comes to the question of what is an air chrysalis, or who are the Little People, we are left in a pool of mysterious question marks. (p496)
And why yes, this book does fit in with my pattern of reading really random and confusing fiction. Apparently I like not understanding what the heck is going on. I'm pretty sure this is the exact opposite of when I was in school. Whatever. I'm embracing it now.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Yay! Boo!

In my last post two days ago, I mentioned that our a/c went out. Well, we got it fixed before the house got too hot and afterwards the a/c seemed to be running better than ever. I even had to turn the thermostat up a tad because it was cooling so well and so quickly. It was pretty nice.

Well, that joy ended this morning. The air conditioning started making a weird rumbling noise and stopped cooling so now we are without a/c again. Sigh.

Last time it was a capacitor. Dan says this time it seems more like a fan motor issue. We've got a call in so hopefully we'll be up and running again soon.

Of course, worst case scenario, I'll just have to convince Dan to knock off of work early and drag him out to the pool. It's much cooler out there. Well, if you are wet. Dry and it feels a bit like an oven. (A wonderful, wonderful oven.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Peacock Redux

I know my blog has been kind of quiet lately. I ran into some food issues so that's thrown me all off. But I think I'm starting to feel a bit better, so yay! Not that feeling better will necessarily increase the frequency of my blog posting. There are pretty things in the yarn but I haven't taken many pictures to share (though I probably should!) and otherwise there's not too much going on other than knitting, and knitting takes time.

There is a slight bit of news today, though. Our air conditioner is broken. Oh dear.

It's currently 82°F in the house and getting warmer. I might have to escape outside soon - the pool makes hot weather much easier to take. Hopefully the a/c will be back up and running soon. With seven cats, I dare not open a window and honestly, doing that would just mean we'd get hotter inside faster. (It's easily ten degrees hotter outside.)

The only other excitement here has been knitting related, and honestly I'm not sure how many people will actually find it exciting, but I'm going to share anyway because it is a bit of a triumph for me.

In my last post I shared a picture of the yarn I had picked for my next sock project. Well, I knew the pattern I wanted to do (Jaywalker) because I had seen someone else make some chevron socks with this yarn and it looked fabulous. However, it didn't work out so well for me. Unfortunate color pooling was the result, not the fun mishmash of random colors. Boo.

So I tried another pattern (Hermione's Everyday Socks) and while the blocks of color were smaller, the pooling was still rather unfortunate. Double boo.

Then I tried another pattern (Dalekanium) and that one almost worked but not in an exciting way. More of a meh then a boo, but still.

At that point, I was kind of stuck and frustrated. Then Dan (knitting genius that he is) said 'wouldn't it work to do something where you knit in wedges so the pooling couldn't happen, like the ones you just did?'

Peacock Socks

Why yes, yes it would! See, he's a knitting genius.

Of course, this means that this is the third pair of socks that I will have knit using this pattern. Rarely do I ever enjoy a pattern enough to knit it twice, but this pattern seems to be one of the few. (Though really if you think about it, to make a matching pair of socks, I have to knit pattern twice, so maybe I don't have the dislike of repetition when it comes to socks? Which is good since I like matching socks.)

That isn't to say that I necessarily look forward to doing a pattern three times, especially twice in a row like I am doing right now. But it does help that I think this time I've finally cracked the code of what you are supposed to do at the end of a round in this pattern. (I think the first rows should be K2, w&t, P4, w&t and then you continue on working 4 sts past the last w&t until you work the last w&t 3 sts after, leaving 4 sts between the final wraps. This seems to lead to neater ends to the round and matches up the tall bit and the short bit of each wedge better. And even if it isn't what you are supposed to do, I'm liking it so I'll keep doing it.)

While learning something new does make repetition easier, I do think it will be a while before I do this pattern again. I'm pretty sure I will do it again, though - Dan expressed some interest in some of his own and I really can't say no to that.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

They Make Me Smile

I love ridiculous knitting projects. Though most of the ridiculous things that I knit end up being not so strong on the functional side of things. (I mean really, what sort of function does a knitted guinea pig have? Other than to be ridiculously awesome? None.)

However with my latest project, I think I have a lovely balance of ridiculous and functional. Shorts!

Shorts!

I'm wearing them now and they are so fabulously comfortable - and cute! But you can't say that hand knit shorts aren't a little ridiculous. Which, honestly, point in their favor.

I'm totally gonna make more. Because they are awesome! Their awesomeness has also encouraged me to think of knit pants. And maybe underwear. (Yes, there are patterns for that. No joke.)

Before I do all that, though, I'm (unsurprisingly) going to knit another pair of socks. Well, hopefully. I'm not too far into them right now.

MadTosh in Peacock

You may notice that "not too far into them" actually equates to "haven't actually started them". But I've wound the yarn and picked the needles so actual knitting isn't too far away!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Knitting Irony

May was Celiac Awareness Month. I had intended to make a pair of green socks for it (since green is the ribbon color used, because everything has a ribbon now). I didn't quite succeed.

Well, I made the green socks, but I didn't get them actually done during Celiac Awareness Month. In part, ironically, because I had a run in with some gluten and had to die for a week-ish or so.

But now they are all done and ready to wear!

Socks

Astute observers will notice that these socks are pretty much a slightly less obnoxious version of these. Yes, I actually did the same pattern more than once. Shocking. The knitting didn't seem to go quite as quickly as the first time around, but since the first time I did this pattern I cranked out my fastest socks ever (four days!), I suppose that isn't too much of a surprise.

Of course, it is a bit too warm currently to wear socks. (Finally! I've been waiting for sunbathing weather for ages! But it looks like the rain has finally stopped and now the tan lines have begun!) I don't think that will stop me from making more socks this summer, though. I wear them at least one season of the year!

But due to the (lovely, fabulous, delightful) summer weather now upon us, an argument can be made that my current (non-sock) project is more weather appropriate.

Future Shorts

It doesn't look like much right now but it will eventually be a pair of shorts (see the holes where the drawstring goes?) It'll be like a sweater for my rear.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Still Breathing

I realized I've been quiet lately but contrary to recent speculation, we have not drown in all the recent rain. While there has been a ton of rain, the only issues it has caused us is unbalancing the pool chemicals, making the pool too cold to swim in, and making the grass grow really quickly.

Not much actual news going on here but I did finish a new knitting project: another sweater!

On the Beach Sweater

It was a nice, educational experience in that I learned a new way of doing contiguous sleeves. Sadly, the new sleeve method is not for me as it makes me broad shoulders look even broader, but not all sweaters can be perfect!

I'm working on a pair of socks that I had intended to finish last month but (obviously) didn't. But I've only got a little bit more to go on them so I'm sure I'll be posting about them soon!

The only yard news I have is from our front porch (because there has been too much rain to go tromping): we have more baby birds!

More Babies!

I've waffled a bit but I'm still thinking they are Eastern phoebes. (Eastern kingbirds are the other options, but it looks like the babies are all gray (no white chest) so I'm back to thinking they are phoebes.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Logical Socks

At the end of last month, I got some new yarn. This week, I finished making them in to socks!

Spock Socks

This is probably the fastest from-purchase-to-use cycle I've ever had excluding yarn I've had to buy to finish up a project already in progress. And, even more surprising perhaps, these are for Dan!

The yarn's colorway is called 'Live Long and Prosper' and it is a special edition Turtlepurl yarn dyed in remembrance of Leonard Nimoy. So naturally (logically), these are now Dan's Spock socks. And pair five for 2015.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm Delicious

We've had a ton of rain the past couple of weeks. Which is a good thing since the lakes are all so low and we are still in Stage 1 drought measures from summer. Added bonus, it also gives us pretty rainbows.

Rainbow

But lots of rain also means that lots of bugs have been making their way into the house. Most of the bugs are little centipede type things which seem to have quick (kitty-assisted?) deaths upon crossing our threshold. But we've also had at least one mosquito. And mosquitoes love me. So now I have tons of bites - mostly on my back but some on my arms and legs. Fortunately, things on the itching front have been much better since going gluten-free. Less inflammation in my body to react to the bites perhaps?

Anyway, the rain has also really helped things in our back yard grow. This is what it is currently looking like.

Our Yard

Lovely, isn't it? I'm hoping the grasses won't get too tall too early though. We still have at least one more good month of profuse wildflower blooms and I'd hate for them to end up hiding in the tall grass.

Speaking of wildflowers, we still have new stuff popping up almost every day. On my last two visits out there, I found lots of new things blooming.

Catclaw Sensitive Brier
Two-Leaf Senna
Tiny White Flowers
Wildflower
Milkwort
Firewheel

Yes, that last picture isn't the best, but it is the season's first Firewheel (aka Indian Blanket, but Firewheel is such a fun name!) so I had to include it. If this year is like last year, the purple and yellow in the yard will give way to red and yellow soon enough and we will have lots more of these popping up!

Of course, new flowers mean new things attracted to them (and everybody still loves the antelope horn). We have tons of pollinators outside right now. Two weeks ago we were overrun with ladybugs but now, it is butterflies. Pretty much everywhere you look you'll find a tiny sulfur or a hairstreak fluttering about. And mixed in are some more unusual ones, too.

Goatweed Leafwing (M)
Gray Hairstreak
Variegated Fritillary
Common Checkered-Skipper
Common Buckeye
Sulphur

That second to last picture is of a very lucky Buckeye. I'm not sure what took a chunk out of his wings, but it didn't seem to bother him. Hopefully the birds in our yard are better behaved than that, but really, I think they just have better aim.

There are more pictures on my Flickr because I take a ton each time I go outside. Seriously, this last butterfly safari? Over 200 pictures. Most of them horrible! But in my defense, butterflies are really hard to photograph clearly so it takes me ten or twenty tries before I get it right.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Socks!

I finished my travel socks!

Staggering Monkeys

Sadly, these did not turn out to be my most successful pair of socks ever. It was really a perfect confluence of various factors that lead to these imperfect socks.

First off, this is my first time using yarn that was not mostly wool. Forty-six percent bamboo. Which, I have learned, has very little sproing-factor to it. I'm used to mostly wool yarns for sock knitting and wool is a lot stretchier than bamboo. This yarn, though, reminded me a tad of cotton yarn. (Though there is a decent bit of wool in it. Just not quite enough to save me.)

Second, I took a non-elastic yarn and knit a pattern (with frequent increases & decreases) that is inherently not the most elastic pattern. And then I made it even less elastic by replacing some yarn over increases with lifted increases (a less giving increase). Which, yeah, now I don't have random holes in my socks but I also have less stretchy socks.

Then, to top it all off, I somehow managed to be very tense when knitting the heel and leg of the socks. I knew when I was knitting it that my gauge was a bit tight - the stitches weren't flowing as smoothly and I was having trouble working the increases - but I just couldn't fix it. I do tend to unconsciously tighten up my gauge when I work with a yarn with less give so I'm sure that was part of it, but I think maybe the fact that so much of the knitting took place in the car might have made a difference, too. So yeah, tighter than normal gauge.

All those things combined mean these socks aren't too flexible and as such are rather difficult to pull on. Like, really difficult to get over my heel. But once they are on they fit really nicely.

I'm a bit disappointed that I messed these up to the extent I did, but they are wearable (with some effort) so I'm still going to wear them. And my next pair of socks will be wool!