Friday, August 30, 2013

It's That Time of Year Again

Remember this?

It's the sweater that never ends: London Calling.

For those keeping track, this would be my fourth year of working on it.

Last year, if you recall, I discovered that the cables on the decreases of the shoulders did not line up, so I started over and decided to make the entire thing seamless (or nearly seamless. There will still be seams at the shoulders and on the armholes). Most of this work was done last winter. I've got maybe 3 more inches to go before I split for the armholes. Since I'm almost done with a ball of yarn, I figure I will just knit until I run out, and then join new yarn to make the right front, back, and left front. I think that once the body of this sweater is done, the sleeves and the finishing will go a lot faster. One thing I need to do, though, it sit down with the pattern and microsoft word and rewrite the decreases. Since it came from a magazine, space was limited. Full directions for one of the fronts is listed, but for the other, it just says "do the reverse." Um...okay. Very detailed. I'm also going to make a copy  of the directions for the decreases on the back. The stitch pattern is very easy to remember, but the shoulder shaping? Not so much.

I have no ambitions of finishing this sweater this year. Sure, I would love to. But I'm only working on it to kill time until I hear back from my publisher. Once I get the yarn for the samples for the book, I'm not going to have time to knit on anything else--particularly since I'm also making a couple of baby gifts for someone at work.

Clearly, I need at least one extra set of hands.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Out of Context

Hey, look! It's a finished object!


Pattern: Context by Kristen Briney

Yarn: main color--Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga in a grey that I can't find on their site, "Geek". Contrast color is Bugga in "Spanish Dancer." (70% superwash Merino wool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon. Skinny Bugga is fingering weight, Bugga is sport weight). I used a full ball of Geek, and about 1/3-1/2 of a ball of Spanish Dancer.

Needles: US 4/3.5mm

Notes: I made a few modifications to the original pattern. I decided I wanted it larger than pictured (I was hoping for something shawl size, but was out of luck), so I knit until I ran out of my main color. I did four rows of garter stitch after the end of the pattern, and then did the bind off row in the contrast color. Without cutting the yarn, I went straight into picking up stitches for the ruffle.

The original instructions for the ruffle call for it to be in plain stockinette, using a kfb increase in every stitch on right side rows, purling the wrong side rows. I decided that I wanted something more open, so I knit the the first two stitches on the right side rows, then did a yarn over between every stitch, knitting the last two stitches. The wrong side rows remained purled.

After only four rows, however, I was starting to run out of circular needle (that's what happens when you have almost 700 stitches on your needle). On the next rs row, I grabbed a crochet hook that was just slightly larger than my needles and did a modified crocheted cast off.

What I ended up with was an epic ruffle. It's kind of funny--I love ruffles on hand knitted objects, but I avoid them like the plague on anything store bought.

So why is this the Out of Context scarf? Well, first there are the modifications to the pattern. Second, the colors. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a fan of our local college team. I don't even like the school very much, but that's a political diatribe I won't get into here. Anyway, I usually avoid the scarlet and grey color scheme whenever possible for that reason, but in trying to match a color to that grey, which has some yellow undertones and bits of grey and tan in it, the orangy-red of Spanish Dancer was really the only option from what I had on hand.

I think they look fabulous together.

I love this scarf.

I am not sure I can bring myself to wear it in public, however.

But perhaps I just need to get over my issues and appreciate the knitting. After all, the scarf itself has no affiliation or political leanings.

I'm just a girl with a scarf. Call me a Buckeye, and you might find out how pointy my needles really are.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend: Not as Advertised.

So Friday's blog didn't happen. This was for a multitude of reasons, but basically, it just boils down to the fact that it was a really, really long day that would not end. In fact, I'm writing this on Saturday and it could be said that this is just more like Friday, Part II since there was really no sleep to be had last night.

It started with work. I will spare you the gorey details, but suffice to say that it was another frustrating day of beating my head against a wall, accomplishing nothing, and struggling to find people to fill in the gaping holes left by others who can't be arsed to show up. (I'm a wee bit fed up, can you tell?)

After work, I met up with Missouri, who is house sitting this weekend. We hung out for a while, then went to a movie (City of Bones, for those interested. I won't say that it was a great movie, but despite it's flaws it was enjoyable and Missouri said it followed the source material more than she expected it to).

The movie was much longer than I expected. Around 10:30, I finally made it home (this after getting up at 5 for work). I tried to power through to finish a knitting project, but it didn't happen. I was too tired and the cast off was just way, way too long to finish in one go. I finally collapsed into bed around 1:30.

At 3:30, my phone rang. I was so tired that I evidently slept through a text message and I had picked up and answered the call before I even had time to process which ring tone it was.

On the other end, it was Missouri. She asked me to take her to the ER.

As soon as I got to the house, I knew that she was in a lot of pain. Her tollerence for pain is one of the highest of anyone I know, so when it's bad enough to cause dizziness, sweating, and difficulty breathing, it's time for the ER.

So we went.

While she was being examined, I manged to catch a 45 minute cat nap in the back seat of my car, in between texting various parties on her behalf that needed updating on the situation.

The final diagnosis was an extremely bad muscle spasm in her upper back. Meds were perscribed and picked up, and then I took her back to her parents. She needed some things from our place, so I went there and tried to sleep. I knew she'd be knocked out from the drugs and therefore unable to get herself into any trouble. I went back this evening to check on her and drop off the stuff she needed.

It's been a long day. My relaxing weekend (which I've been looking forward to for two weeks now) has so far not been very relaxing. Hopefully, better news is on the way.

[As of right now, Missouri is fine and mostly pain free, just very groggy. By the time you read this, she'll be back home.]

P.S. If you are ever in the Columbus area and need emergency care, or really any hospital services at all, I can't recommend Dublin Methodist enough. I've known several people treated there and all of their physicians are excellent, they have a great bedside manner and the facility is new, clean, well organized, and very comfortable. Seriously, either go there or OSU. I could tell you some horror stories about our other hospitals.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

That Wooshing Noise...

It is currently 11:39 p.m. on Wednesday night, which makes this post a full 12 hours later than I usually post. And since I still have about four rows left on my current project, which will not get done tonight, and I think my self-imposed deadline is pretty well shot.

I'm working on the Context Scarf by Kristin Briney. It's a super easy lace pattern with lots of garter stitch--which is the only reason I'm knitting it.

While I was testing out yarn samples for the book, I was struck by the fact that one of them would be fabulous for lace. Initially, I wanted to make To Infinity and Beyond, but lace and I do not get along. There are issues, mostly regarding numbers. No matter how many times I count, they are just never right. I ripped out my foundation rows six times before I finally gave up and found my current pattern on Ravelry. It gives a nice lace-y effect without making me want to rip my hair out.

I'm down to the last bit of border, and then the ruffles. I'm hoping to have it cast off by this weekend, and with any luck I can show you pictures on Friday. In the mean time, I'm knitting away.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Inspiration ADD

My brain is still going in overdrive. In the last two weeks, I've gotten ideas for a webcomic (well, two of them, technically), a possible second run for the Post Club, a short-story-but-also-possibly-a-novel, plus I've been wanting to work on at least three existing projects.

There simply aren't enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do. Work keeps getting in the way, especially since I worked longer than usual hours last week.

The more I try to focus on one project and get it done, the more ideas I get for other things. This is how it usually works for me--I have periods of creative drought, so to speak, and then bursts where by brain won't shut up and is moving faster than my hands (or the rest of me) can keep up with. I'm trying to make as many notes as I can so that I can save the ideas for those dry spells when I have nothing (I use the phrase loosely) to work on.

The outlining process seems to be working really well for me. I used to hate writing outlines, but I've discovered that for me, writing out the entire story in outline format is useful because it helps me find weak points in the plot. Last month I was working on the third or forth draft of an outline for a story I've already rewritten five or six times. By examining the outline, I learned that the point where my stories usually go astray is when the antagonist shows up. I'm working on creating richer, more defined villians as a result. Villians are people too, so they need to have motivations that are just as strong as those of the hero(ine).

I'm afraid that the one thing this creative deluge has been ignoring is the blog. Every time I try to sit down and write a post, it wants to be a list. A list of all of the disorganized little things I'm working on, reading, and watching. So if there's something that you want my opinion on, leave a comment and I'll happily work up a post about it!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Oh, hello, Friday. Where did you come from?

The problem with have "flexible work hours" is that instead of thinking in terms of Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, I tend to boil it down to "work days" and "not-work days."

This tends to cause problems when it comes to planning.

So here is a funny story that I shared on Tumblr, because I'm not just a dork, I'm dork who's slightly brain fried at the moment:

So today at work, I discovered that when the alarms on our front doors are in maintenance mode, they don’t make the usual beep-beep-beep noise, but rather they sound like the alarms from the Enterprise. And they were going off a lot:

1st time it happened: “Did we just go to Red Alert?”

2nd: “Is it the Klingons or the Romulans this time?”

3rd: “I’m really glad I didn’t wear the red shirt today.” (Yes, I was planning on wearing red this morning, but changed my mind to blue.)

10th: “Where the hell is Lt. LaForge? That sound is really annoying.” Also, our A/C wasn’t really working and it was really hot. Between the malfunctioning alarms and the environmental controls, a full ship’s diagnostic was needed.

As he was packing up, I walked by the technician. He was wearing a blue shirt.

"Isn’t Engineering supposed to be doing that?"

He just gave me a blank look.

No one appreciates my sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How Modern Knitters Fix Old Tech

So I finally sat down with the steampunk-typewriter-to-be over the weekend. Can you believe, I'd actually forgotten about it? I couldn't even remember what kind it was, other than a brown portable with green keys. Yeah, that's really helpful when looking up information. It doesn't help that nowhere on the machine or the case is the model name.

It's a Skywriter, just for the record. From 1951, going by the serial number.

It's mostly metal, with a plastic cover plate. This was sent to me by a very kind typospherian whose name I tragically cannot remember at the moment because when I deleted my Yahoo account, I also deleted all of his emails.

Yes. All of them.

Yes, I did sift through my inbox to see if there was anything important. I went back a couple of months, but this exchange took place in April and May, and it didn't occur to me that I should go through EVERYTHING, and that older emails might still be relevant.

Why am I going on about this? Well, you see, the typewriter had a little snaffu in shipping. A couple things got bent, and a few snapped--namely the draw band. At first, it looked like the carriage was completely out, wouldn't move at all and one piece was loose and crooked.

Eventually, the carriage started moving again. I was able to wriggle the loose piece back into place.

...And then the typewriter sat in it's case in a corner of the living room for about three months.

When I finally got the urge to work on it, I sat down, opened the case, and had an "Oh, s$^&@" moment.

So I went to Twitter.

:headdesk: Just realized when I deleted my yahoo account, I also deleted the repair instructions for the skywriter.
 Damn, I love social media. Within minutes, @mpclemens and @anabstar had swooped in to the rescue.

Which is how I found myself replacing a draw band at midnight via tweet.

I had to improvise a little. And L.C. Smith and better be glad he's dead because if he'd been around that evening I would have choked him to death with my broken draw band. Do you know how hard those things are to replace?

Somewhere in there, there is a tiny hole. It is not visible, however, even when I tightened the spring wheel as tight as I possibly could. Eventually, though, the old draw band could be removed.

This was followed quickly by an "Oh, shit," moment when I realized that I'd removed the old draw band without having a replacement handy. Add to that the fact that pulling on the draw band was 75% of what was keeping the spring wheel in place, and my fingers were going numb from fighting the spring, and I quickly managed to stuff it back it by some stroke of luck.

Since I'd sat down to work on this on a whim, the extent of my preparation was to gather up some screwdrivers and a pair of tweezers. Since I'd forgotten about the broken draw band, I hadn't bought any hemp or other replacement material in advance. But, I'd been wondering for a while about the merits of...alternative draw band materials. Would they work? Would they hold up? I'm also considering this for my spinning wheel, since the elastic band it came with keeps overstretching, and the hemp bands keep wearing out.

This is a ball of crochet cotton:

This is a tea light (yes, I know. Beeswax is better, but we didn't have any and it was midnight. I'm going to pick some up this week, but I'm impatient).

This is about 14" of slip knot chain coated in wax. It has a little bit of stretch and flexibility, and is roughly the same diameter as the original hemp band.\:

I won't tell you what I said while I was rewinding the spring wheel and trying to get the end of the chain in there. It involved German, French, and Japanese, and none of it is printable here.

Eventually, I laid the knotted end over the diamond shaped opening pictured above, and jammed it in there with the tip of a flat head screwdriver. I'm pretty sure that isn't the recommended method, but it worked.

At the other end, I had a little bit of the string before it started the chain. I was able to use that to thread through the hook at the other end and attach the draw band.

In the end, I was able to get it working again....sort of. I think I threaded the draw band through (under? around?) the carriage wrong because it stops about halfway across the page and I suspect that the drawband isn't supposed to be visible out the back end of the machine. I suspect that it's getting caught on the bell, and that is preventing further movement, but I haven't finageled a tool yet that will fit in the tight space where I think it's supposed to go. All of my wire is either too thick to fit there, or too thin to hold it's shape, and it's so close in there that I can't thread whatever tool I try to use and see where it's going at the same time.

I will fight with try fixing it again later this week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Litterary Takeaway

I came across this article recently and had to share: A Brief History of Book Vending Machines.

Sidenote: I want to visit Japan for many reasons, but a huge part of that is the vending machines. The Japanese put crazy stuff in their vending machines. (And those aren't even some of the weirder ones I've heard of, which include steak, porn, and used panties. Yes, you read that right. I have no idea if it's true or just a gross rumor.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

A List of Things

1. Due to some nonsense with Yahoo, I've deleted my account. If you need to contact me, you can do so through my gmail address: knotmagickknitter (at) gmail

2. Read Recently: Haunted London by Richard Jones
While hardly the end-all-be-all of travel haunting books, this was really fun to read and includes stories of over a hundred haunted places in London. A few I've been to, a few I'd never heard of, and a few I knew more about than was mentioned in the book. If you're into that sort of thing, then it might be nice to pick up before your next trip. Each entry includes a brief overview of both the haunting and the history of the location, as well as it's location on a map and the nearest tube stations.

3. Read Recently: Sailor V manga, vol. 2
If Pacific Rim didn't restart my anime kick, then this definately did. I'm a huge Naoko Takeuchi fan, have been for years. I love her art style and I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out that not only are Sailor V and Sailor Moon getting reprints with all new (better!) translations, but there's going to be a reboot of the Sailor Moon anime starting later this year. So far details are very hush-hush, but I'm stalking a couple of the SM boards and fansites looking for details.

4. Watched Recently: Ripper Street
I love Matthew Macfadyen. He stars in this excellent Victorian-set crime drama (available on Netflix), and if you haven't seen it yet, go find it. It's wonderful. That is all.

5. Currently Watching: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
I watched the first FMA series (most of it) when it was first coming out in the US. My college roommate was completely obsessed with the series, so really it was unavoidable. It was good.

Brotherhood is so much better.

I find myself incapable of watching less than half a dozen episodes in a sitting, and I don't remember the last time I did that with an anime. 

This one is also on Netflix.

6. Caffrey continues to get a workout. Can I just say again how much I love, love, love using a typewriter for outlines? My current outline in progress is top secret, however. I might give a few details next week, if I decide to pursue it. If not, it will go into the file I've started for outlines.

7. Since he's been getting so much use, I'm starting to think that Caffrey needs a bit of a makeover. The grey 70s look just isn't me, and I've got a tube of royal blue acrylic paint that has been sitting unused for some time, not to mention several cans of spraypaint. But that is likely a project for another time, since I STILL haven't pulled out the steampunk typewriter. I've started to three or four times this week, and then gotten distracted by other things. Perhaps over the weekend. We'll see.

8. Lists happen when I am both in a funk and when I'm feeling super creative. For once, it's the later. My brain is going in about a hundred directions at once, and it wants to DO ALL THE THINGS. I'm trying to rein it in with some knitting. It may need to be tied down with something stronger than yarn.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hermes

More to come. Just a portrait today. He was kind enough to pose for me, while staring out the window at his girlfriend (a little stray calico that he has been told in no uncertain terms will NOT be coming in the house).


Monday, August 5, 2013

Typecast and Drawing

Short tonight. Not feeling overly talkative at the moment.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The "Quickie" Project


...is taking slightly longer than I thought.

So I've been thinking for a while that there are two things that I need in my bathroom, which kind of also became Hermes' room when Jolie was staying with us (did I mention that she finally went home, after over three months? I am overjoyed! Sweet cat--not so great to have around when she makes you break out in hives and attacks the host kitty for no reason).

The first thing is a mat to go under the litter box, so that the litter doesn't get tracked all over the place. With hardwood floors, it ends up all over the house. I could go out and buy a rug from Target or wherever, but why spend the $10-15 when I have yarn?

Yeah, I know. I'm knitting something for my cat to wipe his paws on. Clearly, I have crossed over into crazy cat lady territory. But here's how I'm looking at it:

1. It's something mindless that will keep me occupied while my brain is still restarting.

2. I like knitting.

3. If it makes it easier to keep the house clean, then I am all for it.

4. It saves me $15, since I already have both the yarn and needles, and what else am I going to do with two balls of acrylic boucle? Cat crap seems like a good use for it....

I swore off boucle yarn about six weeks after learning to knit. If you don't know what it is, boucle yarn, rather than being smooth, is covered in little loops. Those little loops love to catch the tips of unsuspecting knitting needles when attempting to insert them into a stitch, and also love to snag on anything and everything that gets within six inches of them. I've knit with it. I've crocheted with it. The one thing I haven't done with this yarn that I would love to do is set it on fire, because I'm sure that acrylic would make some lovely, multi-colored flames.

And heaven forbid you have to rip it out.

I've actually found more practical uses for eyelash yarn and fun fur than I have for boucle, and it's easier to work with.

The second thing that I need (I use the term "need" loosely) is a second mat to go under the cat food/water dishes, since Hermes likes to take his water dish for a walk and the sound of ceramic dragging over ceramic is not something I like to hear at two in the morning. When we lived at my mom and dad's place,  his food and water were on a rug, and he had no problems. Here, he will stick his paw in his water bowl, drag it six inches to the right and take a drink. Then he'll move it eight inches to the left, and take another drink. But no, he's not done yet! Next he walks around the dish, and the process repeats an additional 2-3 times before he's satisfied. By this time, the floor is soaked.

I do not even pretend to understand him. I'm just trying to get a decent night's sleep.

And a bonus, since Bill asked for it:
If you haven't seen the other Hermes comics, you can find them here.

ETA: Thanks Rob, for pointing out the error with the link. It should be fixed now. Blogger won't let me link to just the correct search results, but keep scrolling for more the comics.