Monday, August 23, 2010

Token FO

I've been jonesing for a finished object. The shawl kind of counts, but I haven't figured out where I'm going to block it without any chance of the dog chewing on it. So, over the weekend, instead of working on Mystery Wedding Project, I knocked out this baby:

The Mason-Dixon washcloth from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book. I have some of this Pachuko brand organic cotton yarn that I bought three years ago when I was in TN for the summer with no LYS and lots of (read: way too much) time to troll e-Bay. The yarn is OK, nice and soft, but not quite plied as tightly as I'd like. But totally good enough for a dishcloth. And I'm making progress towards not being such a perfectionist (i.e. crazy person); I made a mistake and left it in (after starting to go back and fix it and thinking, 'What are you doing? It's a flipping washcloth'). Baby steps, baby steps.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tubular cast-on: in the round

Recently, I got a comment on my tutorial for the tubular cast-on asking if it could be done in the round, and how so. I wasn't sure, but my curiosity was piqued. I love knitting sweaters and hats in the round, both cases where you'd like to have a nice finished edge for any ribbing. So Marina, I hope you are checking back every now and then for an answer, because I present to you...

Tubular cast on: in the round

With a waste yarn in contrasting color, cast-on half the number of stitches you need using the chained cast-on. If your pattern calls for an odd number of stitches, add one to that number and then divide by two.

Switch to your main yarn. Purl one row.

If you're using double pointed needles, at this point distribute stitches evenly (as possible) between four needles.

Join in the round, and purl three more rows. The wrong side will be facing outward.

Purl one stitch.

Yes, we know how to do that. Moving on.

Now you're going to insert the right-hand needle into the purl bump from the first row. It's intermixed with the waste yarn. This is why using contrasting yarn colors is key.

Purl bump circled in green.

Insert RH needle from top to bottom (front of the stitch to the back):

Place the stitch on the LH needle from bottom to top (back of the stitch to the front). Knit the stitch. That's two stitches tubularly cast-on! Repeat (purl one, pick up 'purl bump', knit 'purl bump') to the last stitch. If you wanted an odd number of stitches, purl the last stitch and you're done. If you wanted an even number of stitches, purl the last stitch and also knit the last purl bump. It will be a selvage edge, so it may be pulled fairly tight, and you'll have to work to get your needle in there. You should get something along these lines:

Do a few rows of K1, P1 ribbing, then you can start to carefully take out the waste yarn. If you undo the last stitch cast-on with the waste yarn, you should be able to pull the rest out by tugging on the end (which is what makes the chained cast-on a sweet provisional cast-on):

Voila! Tubular cast-on in the round.

Marina also inquired about the tubular cast-on with k2p2 ribbing. My instinct says that you would proceed normally with the exception of purling 2 and knitting 2 purl bumps instead of 1 and 1. I'm not sure if that would work out, so it's an investigation for another day....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Major shawl-age

I don't think that an item has to be blocked to be considered a finished object, do you? I present to you, MAJOR SHAWL-AGE:

Phhhhhheewwwww. I'm relieved do be done with it, but yet a little verklempt because it was such a great pattern once you got into a rhythm.

I'm terrible at blocking, but I'll try not to procrastinate on this one.

After all my bitching about this heat, I'm sure this will come as no surprise - I am so pumped for the autumn season! We finally had a break in the heat wave, and it already got me craving cuddly scarves, hot tea and apple picking. I'm definitely utilizing my shawl for protection against the elements (mild may they be, since it's in Cali) for an outdoor wedding I'm attending in Sept.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pay to play?

Still plugging away on the shawl and MWP...I could really use a finished object right now.

In an effort to have some sort of FO, I finally had my copilot take some glamor shots of my Infinite Cabled Hat design.

Probably not one of the ones I'm going to use.

I need to do a last once over of the pattern corrections and make sure that 2 + 2 indeed = 4, but it's pretty much ready to go. Before I release the pattern, I wanted to get some feedback/thoughts from you knitters. I put a decent amount of effort into the pattern, followed it myself, had the sizes tested, etc. I'm thinking of putting it for sale for something like a buck or two, not because I have any delusions about making money, but because I'm proud of the pattern and I stand behind it. I feel like when patterns are free, you have no right to expect things like accuracy or clarity. Basically, you get what you pay for, and anything above that is great but not expected. I want to send the message that I stand behind the pattern enough to ask for a pittance, and if a person does find an error or have a problem they feel like they can contact me because after all, they did pay for it.

This is where I need some help. Do you tend to pay for patterns or gravitate towards free ones? Does paying for a pattern totally turn you off, or does it make you more likely to do a pattern? Any other thoughts, if you managed to follow my rant?

Another slightly related tangent is, when do you usually start looking at patterns for the upcoming season? This one happens to be appropriate for fall. Is it to early to be thinking of the fall chill? I'm totally a live in the moment knitter...if it's cold I want to be knitting cold weather items, and vice versa for the summer. I have no knitting foresight. Do you? In essence, is there any point to putting it for sale now?


I learned something very interesting about the chew sticks that I've been buying for Sammy (the beast) recently. Back up to when we first adopted him, he was eating everything he could snatch up off of the ground. Rocks, paper, and he especially loved eating sticks. We weren't sure if this behavior was just because he was young or because he'd spent an unknown amount of time scavenging as a stray on the mean streets of Milwaukee (probably both). I went to the local pet supplies shop in search of something more constructive for him to chew on. They had a half-wall filled with different varieties of rawhide-eque items, so I selected some that looked most like regular sticks, called bully sticks.

He LOVED chewing on these, and it took him a nice long while to work through them. Since then I've bought him a few different varieties of rawhide, but he never cares for them as much as the bully sticks. A few unfortunate times, we bought a stick or two that just smelled rank. "Sammy, why do you smell like farm animal??". After that, I took to rummaging through the bin and sniffing the sticks in order to avoid the stinky ones. Last night, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to find out exactly what bully sticks are made of.

Bull penis
. I crap you not. I read through this with my mouth sort of hanging halfway open. It all became clear why these are more expensive than regular rawhide...kind of a delicacy, eh? The clerks at the pet supply store probably know me by sight now. "Here comes that wang-sniffing chick again..."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Half-done shawl or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the picot bind-off

Half of my first shawl is officially finished! Actually about 55%, but who is counting? (Well, me). This shawl is a little weird in it's construction. It's worked from a provisional cast-on from the middle outwards to each side.

The upshot is, I had to bind-off when I was half-way done. Of course, I auto-piloted into the chained bind-off. It's usually my bread and butter, but ugh it just looked terrible here. Redo. I went though my good ol' bind-off repertoire and realized that one that I had deemed stretchy and lovely but never actually put into use was the picot bind-off. I had previously deemed it too 'twee'. Hell, if it's not appropriate to be twee on a lacy shawl, I'm not sure it ever will be. I used my own tutorial and to my surprise it was actually kind of useful (!!).

I like it! It gave me a lovely ruffly edge. I can't wait for the other half to be finished!

But first, I would have to take out the provisional cast-on. I used the method recommended and provided in the pattern I was working from, which was referred to as 'a provisional cast-on using the continental method' (?). Whatever you say, Martha. Once I got the hang of it, it went quickly and I really liked it. Taking it out--another story. Guys and gals, I spent three hours getting this thing correctly on the needles. I've been accused of being a perfectionist in the past, but the correct term is 'crazy person'. I'm not sure if I'm going to be using her method again...I should try it on something easier and see if I can figure it out for myself. Directions on how to take it out might have been useful....

So why, might you ask, is all of this provisional casting-on and such necessary? The lace pattern used for the shawl is called "Wings of the Swan", and working from the middle has the effect of "centering the wings when the stole is worn". Uh-huh. I've never been more embarrassed than when my wings weren't centered. Very glad I put in the extra effort.

Can you tell where the center of the wings is? I can't. Maybe all will be revealed as it gets bigger (I hope).

Remember this little angel?

How is that even comfortable?

After my morning shower yesterday, I come down to find this beast chewing happily on some white yarn. After a minor heart attack, I found that he had politely broken the yarn from the shawl and left the shawl itself completely alone.

He's got good taste in yarn, I suppose. He had to have gotten onto a table and pushed a book off of it to retrieve it. My mom bought me a shirt recently:

Almost right, except the ball of yarn should be in his mouth instead of the needles.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Redneck shenanigans continue

Look, I might as well put it all on the table. Last weekend, I attended a NASCAR race. I know. But let's back up a little, shall we?

The C family has, for many years, attended the Indianapolis 500. I unabashedly enjoy it. The first race was a hundred or so years ago; it's steeped in so much neat history.

Dude winning the 500 in 1912. The technology has improved slightly since then...

Look, I was born and bred in Indiana. If you aren't familiar with the 500 and can't at least chat superficially about few current drivers, then you are an embarrassment to the Hoosier name. I am perpetually reminded of (and ironically, embarrassed by) my knowledge of Indy racing each and every Memorial Day weekend that we spend visiting my copilot's family. If I have to explain the milk tradition thing to his relatives one more time, I swear...(look, don't even ask if you don't know. Wikipedia, people).

Some years back, the flywheels at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway figured that it wasn't lucrative enough to maintain a giant track for only one race a year and decided it was high time they got their cut of the gigantic cash-cow that is NASCAR. The Brickyard 400 was born. The C clan figured, why not? Tickets were purchased and a new tradition began.

If you aren't familiar with any of this, let me give you a visual analogy. If this was your Indy racing fan:

Then here is your average NASCAR fan:

He's a good ol' boy. Part of the 'REAL AMERICA'. Indeed, the only foreign driver in the race was booed when introduced. My copilot observed that the stereotypical NASCAR fan represents pretty much everything that is embarrassing about our country. But here's my confession, guys: I love it. It's more fun to people watch at this thing than it is to watch the cars.

The last time I went to the race was about seven years ago (it's a good spread, like dog years. Or something). I picked a young driver to cheer for, using the sound reasoning of a) he was cute, and b) he sort of shares the same name as my stuffed penguin, Murray:

Murray versus McMurray. Too much cute.

Walking to the track, we were hailed my some drunk dudes who wanted to know our predictions for the race. The rest of our party ignored them, but having imbibed some of the sauce myself I yelled a reply: "Jamie McMurray!". The dudes seemed to be taken aback. Finally one of them scoffed and said, "....McMurray...that's out there." Granted, he was an unknown and finished like 30th or something that day. But that dude totally dissed my pick.

McMurray has been clawing his way up, bit by bit since then. He even made a cameo in the movie Talledega Nights, wherein Will Ferrell gives him the finger (couldn't find a clip, but it's pretty funny--I also just find Will Ferrell being obscene to be hilarious in general). Earlier this year, he won the Daytona 500! And wouldn't you know it--he was a contender the whole race, and flippin' won the Brickyard 400 last weekend.

So dude who said McMurray was 'out there' - SUCK IT.

In a nutshell, I actually had a blast and embraced my fellow redneck 'Mericans. It also helps that they were reaching out to me in return:

An ad in the program.

YES! So cool! Cater to me and my people! Now let's work on the stereotype that every foreign driver is a gay Frenchman....

Talladega Nights - Ricky meets Jean Girard
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