Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In love

I have been slacking on my knitting. Not to mention, slacking on just about everything in my life. Why? I'm head over heels:

His age and breed? Questionable. Some say he's part German Shepherd, we think he's got more than a little Husky in him. All we know is, he's called Sammy.

Friday, June 25, 2010


I've been tagged! No, I haven't been spray painted with graffiti. And thankfully I don't have to run, because as my copilot has learned, I do not run and I know the train is pulling out of the station I do not care. I awoke to find myself tagged by the lovely Rachel of BMORE CRAFTY with a nifty 8 question quiz. My first thought: "Ohthankgoodness...I do not have anything to write about and everyone is tired of hearing me complain ad nauseum about Mystery Wedding Project's never-ending garter stitch."

1. What's your staple meal (ie. what meal do you cook most often when you can't be bothered to be adventurous)?

One word: pasta. I always say my family line would have died out long ago if not for pasta. Whenever I'm not feeling well, though, I turn to cereal. Pretty much any kind as long as it's not super-sugary, my parents raised me to be a total freak who doesn't have much of a sweet-tooth.

2. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Sheep farmer. Seriously. A friend and I also discuss having a combination yarn/book/coffee shop (sometimes upholstery gets thrown in there too depending on if a third friend is in the mix).

3. What book are you reading at the moment (if any)
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene and Christopher Moore, You Suck! A Love Story. I don't know much about biology, so I'm trying to edju-ma-cate myself, and Christopher Moore is one of my favorite authors.

4. How do you relax?

Knitting, depending upon the season either cycling or snow skiing, beer and cheese.

5. What color are the interior walls of your home?

Cream mostly, but the kitchen walls are dark red. We just moved in here, so it wasn't our doing. Honestly, the red + sparkly black counters look kind of like something a dude right out of college would think was cool for his bachelor pad, but I know a woman a bit older than me owns the place.

6. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Go Fug Yourself, and the TV show Ghost Whisperer. I know. Ironically, the first post on Go Fug Yourself right now is Jennifer Love Hewitt.

7. What time is bedtime and getting up time?

Sleep - 11 PM-ish
Wake up - it should be around 7:30 AM, but seems to keep getting later and later...I'm not a morning or night person. A middle of the day time, right before an afternoon nap type person, perhaps.

8. How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?
Depends. Many variables. How bored am I at work? OK, maybe just one variable. I would say anywhere from 0 - 5 hours per week.

Mmmmkay, now to spread the love...Madames and mademoiselles Stephcuddles, Jen, and're it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How stretchy is your cast-on/bind-off?

A while back, in the course of making my copilot a neck gaiter for skiing, I decided I wanted to know what cast-on and bind-off would be best for something that you want to s--t--r--e--t--c--h (see what I did there?). Thus birthed some CO and BO tutorials (which you can find on the sidebar of the home page), and some k1p1 swatches that I never seemed to have time to test. During this week, I was doing something very productive (read: watching the tube) and some herb drying going on over my head got me to thinking.

"Heh. It wouldn't be hard to suspend those swatches from that line."

Let me apologize up front for the crap-osity of the photos. With only 18 hours of daylight, I couldn't seem to manage to do this in natural lighting. Also, if you're only here for the results and not interested in the method, you can skip to the chart at the bottom.

Before any stringing up, I measured all of the swatches at rest in two points:

The resting length of the cast-on/bound-off edge (green line) and the resting length of the 'bulk' (red line--the bulk represents 'normal' knitting, with no edge effects).

I then suspended the swatch from the herb drying line using high tech clipping technology:

The technical term is "paperclips". The same advanced technology is also suspending the herbs.

I hung a ~250 g plum bob from the corner of the swatch, the idea being to pull on the edge with a uniform amount of force.

This is NOT testing the maximum stretch (the bob is not heavy enough to pull them to the maximum), but rather the 'ease' of stretch. I also tested the maximum stretch, albeit not so uniformly--I stretched the edge with my hands until it would stretch no more. Now to crunch the data. We're not interested in the absolute change in length, but rather the relative amount of change from the original state. The following equation gives us the percent change from the original length (aka percent difference):

The nifty vertical lines indicate "absolute value", which means if the difference between the two values is negative, we ignore the negative sign.

Three values were calculated: The percent change given a uniform force, the percent change to the maximum stress, and the percent change from the 'bulk' knitting to the edge. All swatches were made with k1p1 ribbing. Note that the Knit CO, Cable CO, and Knit BO were done with a needle three times larger than the bulk in order to create a 'loose' CO/BO.

So the conclusion? It depends (the usual hair pulling answer of experimentation). The picot CO and BO certainly have the greatest maximum stretch, but varied wildly from the size of the bulk knitting. If you're interested in a little ruffle at your hemline/neckline/sleeves/etc., that's not a bad thing. The Tubular CO/Kitchener BO pairing had adequate stretch, while also being the closest to the bulk knitting size. For my money, that would be the way to go if you're looking for a professional looking edge with room to stretch.

Got a cast-on/bind-off that you'd like me to try?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A palate cleanser

Muchas gracias for all of your kind words about the shawl debacle. I thought it only fair to offer you a palate cleanser of happiness after listening to my bitching. BAM:

Two mitts, ends woven in, blocked and dried! A true finished object! Life is about the little victories sometimes. Now to wait, oh, about four months before the weather is appropriate for wear-age.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shawl-along, little doggy

I started the shawl knit-along last Thursday. The goal--average 7 rows per day. Not necessarily knit exactly 7 rows per day, as we know that sometimes time and motivation are in short supply, just an average. Things seemed to be going swimmingly. I knit on the beach, in the car, through various episodes of Top Gear. I was well ahead of the goal, averaging about 12 rows a day. Drunk off of my own shawl prowess, I laughed in the face of lifelines. Then, last night, I realized my stitch count was off. Curious. Here's what I had so far:

Ohhh yeah. But something seemed awry in general, minus the extra stitch. I found it difficult throughout to check for errors; making a bunch of holes in the material seems like mistakes to begin with. But it looks good, right? Let's go in for an aerial view:

Mmmm hmm. That's hot shawl action. Wait a tick. What's this?

I think the technical term for this is 'zigging when you should have zagged' It's also the cause of the oversized hole to the left of the zig). So I hyperventilated for a while, and then decided that I could probably just drop the stitches down and fix it. I still had a nagging sense of unease, though. I thought I'd been following the recipe pretty well, but this error was uniformly repeated. Looking for mistakes on this thing is like looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures, and all of a sudden it came into focus:

Crap. The whole pattern shifts to the left at the green line. So I invented some new words, or at least some new arrangements of words, and made a few suggestions to the shawl that are probably anatomically impossible. I threatened to punch Martha Waterman in the face:

I will snap your stupid glasses in half. Lord, we all had those glasses back in the '90s, eh? Can I get a high-five? No? I mean, I didn't have them either.

Yarn post-mortem:

It got much worse than this, but I got too depressed to snap a photo.

I'm a bit off my goal shawl is half the yarn it used to be. Blurg!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot legs

What screams "TOURIST!" as loud as fanny packs, zoom lenses, and white socks with sandals?

An irregularly shaped suntan in a bizarre location. Other acceptable answers include improper use of public transportation and the purchase of crappy memorabilia.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You stay classy, San Diego

I lamented to my copilot a few days ago that I had done no proper knitting or proper knitting blogging for a couple of weeks. He assured me that life had just been busy and equilibrium would soon be restored. I'm still dubious, since life has me on the road yet again.

"Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina." - Ron Burgundy

As far as conferences for work go, it's hard to complain about visiting the ol' Whale's V. It also meant a good 4 and a half hours of uninterrupted plane knitting time (not to be confused with 'plain knitting time', which I assume would involve garter stitch). I decided to finish up the fingerless test mitts, which I had neglected since only one mitt was required for testing purposes. On the first flight leg, I completed the palm section and was confident that I could finish up the thumb with plenty of time to spare. I was planning to prep the yarn I'm going to use for WifeMomKnitter's shawl knit-a-long (a very free-form affair--choose your own pattern and timeline, and receive encouragement from fellow knitters). After boarding the second flight, I tried the mitt on--wait a minute...why is the thumb-hole sticking out of the palm of the mitt??? I willed the thumb-hole to shift to the correct spot. When that failed, I started willing my thumb to regrow out of the center of my palm. When that didn't work either, I sadly started pulling out the previous couple of hours' work. I don't think the woman next to me was a knitter, but she seemed to sense that a minor tragedy had occurred.

I've always been tempted to knit during conferences. I'm one of those people that tend to be able to focus better when I keep my hands busy, but I'm always afraid that the speaker will find it insulting (though personally I think it's a lot better than people whipping out their laptops during presentations, which happens all the time and seems to be perfectly acceptable). Mystery Wedding Project is a perfect candidate for this kind of thing; it's a 'turn your brain off' type of knitting. Unfortunately, it's starting to get a bit cumbersome in size to keep toting around, and damn it, I wanted to finish those mitts! This is one of the most laid-back conferences I've attended in a while, so I decided to test the waters. I whipped out my dpns and started to business, while trying to make it clear that I was still engaged. one cared. Other that one of the conference organizers happily squealing "Look! She's knitting!" to her seatmate, not a soul even seemed to notice. So I learned some cool new tech stuff, and accomplished a little crafting as well:

I'm modeling it here so you're convinced that I actually made the left one, and am not just trying to pass off the right-hand one again.

Another interesting discovery is that what San Dieg-ans refer to as a 'tall boy' beer is substantially larger than what we midwesterners are used to. I was a bit embarrassed when this arrived for me:

Then on the way back to the hotel I even had an encounter with some wildlife:

Eep! American opposum! Not the cute NZ possum, unfortunately.

The only thing lacking? Actually starting on the shawl-a-long. Does picking out a yarn and pattern count?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Now, I have no intention of turning this into a 'food blog'. There are plenty of those already out there, by people with much more skill and devotion than I have. That being said, I got our first shipment for our farm share today, a.k.a. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and I had to dish. If you haven't heard of it, try searching the internets to see if there are any near you and sign up immediately, because it's flipping awesome. You pay a flat fee up front, and then share in the rewards (and risks) of the farming season. We're sharing ours with another couple, so every other week we get to pick up a box of whatever goodies are in season.

Last year, we definitely encountered the risks of farming. Strange weather persisted all summer (not enough rain/too much rain, extra cool temps) and it showed in the shipments of tiny veggies. Even so, we loved it. We got to try many new things, some that aren't available in most groceries (kohlrabi & celeriac anyone?). There's no way I would have even considered buying Brussels sprouts in the grocery, and I've found that they are my favorite vegetable so far (I can hear about half of you gagging).

But after last year, I was completely surprised by this spectacular bounty:


I'm just hoping that it won't make my forearms huge like that one guy who likes greens:

Monday, June 7, 2010

More moving related blues

Guys, I only posted once last week. I know. Unfortunately, it's like Mom always says "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." although in this case it was more like "If you don't have anything amusing or useful to say or any amusing or pretty pictures to show, don't clutter the inter-webs with your BS." Duly noted. The past days have been rife with travel/move-out/move-in activities. Those of you faithful readers know that I hate the moving process (even though in this case it was two blocks down the street into a nicer apartment. STILL.).

There has been no knitting to speak of, no technique experimentation, no finished objects unless you count half a pair of mitts (also known as one mitt) whose ends I have yet to weave in. Sweet Jebus, I need to get my priorities straight.

I want to give my parents a shout out (heyyyyyyy!) for being awesome movers this weekend. I brought them up here under the pretense that we were just going to move the big items we couldn't fit in the Outback (Subaru, not the desert in Australia, or the US chain restaurant) and I swear I really did think that's all we were going to move, but the copilot had much higher ambitions. Someone who shall remain nameless told me I'd better not slander her moving work ethic on my blog, which reminded me my favorite quote in response to the accusation of slander:

"It is not! I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel."

But there is no call for either! Thanks so much for the help.

And now, to keep you entertained and oblivious to the fact that I've provided no useful information:


More puppies! And the piece de resistance:

Puppies + 80's Hasselhoff!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mittz test knitz

There was much enjoyable test knitting this weekend. Feast your eyes upon an almost completed fingerless mitt:

That's some Paca-Peds sock yarn, which as the name alludes, is a mix of alpaca, wool, and nylon. So..flippin'...soft. And the mitt itself was a pleasure; I would classify myself as somewhere between a slow to slug knitting speed, but this knit up in a handful of hours. But, more importantly, how does the hand feel about it?

Oh, good. It approves.

Can we talk for a minute about how Bill Nye (the Science Guy) has been on various news TV stations for the past week explaining the technical details behind the BP oil spill & subsequent clean-up efforts? In case you don't remember (or have never had the pleasure, for which I feel pity) here's a refresher:

He was on most recently describing the idea behind "Top Kill", using a plastic tube, rubber bands, and corn starch dissolved in water. At certain points, the little box at the bottom that identifies the speaker and the topic on all of those news channels literally read: Bill Nye: Science Guy. My knee-jerk reaction was "Really? You couldn't get a real scientist?" (which is not fair, because he is a 'real' scientist as well as an entertainer) but as I watched, I became strangely comforted by his simplified explanations and adorable bow tie. Genius who decided to bring the Science Guy on to explain tragic news: I salute you.

I know you're probably tired of playing Where in the World is AC? (Lord knows I am), but I'll dish anyway. I'm in Berkeley on work duty (hehe I said 'doody') for a couple of days. Walking from the BART (light rail train--one of my WI buddies dubbed it the 'BARF' after a particularly turbulent ride) to my hotel, I was getting all verklempt and reminiscing about the dumbest things: "Aww, there's that Walgreens the copilot and I went to for some IcyHot", "Oh! There's the UPS store that was inexplicably never open even during the hours posted on the door", "That creepy guy is still hanging out in front of the free clinic!". Here's something that was worth remembering, though:

Mmmm. Kingpin Donuts. Only a block away from my hotel. Dangerous. And speaking of the hotel, on my nightstand:

Yes, that is a lamp styled to look like a bong. Glad to be back.