Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A well-loved FO

Earlier this month, I opined that the novelty of knitting was the unlimited opportunities for customization--and while I still believe that's true, a visit home for the Thanksgiving holiday (Happy Belated T-giving, American readers) reminded me of a second and equally important reason for knitting.

I come from a line of crocheters...OK, it's a short line and it's not exactly straight, but I probably draw some inspiration from there, right? My grandma was famous for her granny squares (which seemed apropos to me) and my aunt went through a period of crotchet-wear production at some point. She made a winter hat for my mom a long time ago. This hat has been around for as long as I can remember.

For some reason, I always wear this hat when I come to visit for the holidays. It doesn't matter how many hats of my own I've brought with me, or how many new hats my mom has around (I think she has a winter-wear fetish), I always wear the hat for my outdoor exploits.

Shoveling the walk for my folks last Christmas. My middle name is Helpful (just kidding, it's actually Danger).

I think I had it with me at college for a time--I remember taking a jog through the woods wearing it, with a blinking red light attached so I wouldn't be mistaken for something edible and therefore shoot-able (although as Johnny Depp reminds us, technically we are all edible, but that is called cannibalism and is illegal in most countries). Other than that stint, I've never had a desire to take it with me.

From this past holiday weekend - writing a note to Santa Claus requesting a pony, natch.

I like knowing that it's at my parents' home, waiting for me to wear again. I like knowing that my aunt made it, and that it's the only one of its kind. Another cool benefit of the fiber arts...the idea that your one of a kind piece will last a long time and be well-loved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A familiar WIP

You may have noticed that on my little project progress bars (right side of the page, about halfway down) I have a project called the Silken Scabbard Deux. You may also have noticed that the progress on this project hasn't moved since the inception of the blog.

Last year, around this very time of year, I was finishing the original Silken Scabbard. As I mentioned during Blog Week '10, this was the first knitted item I'd ever made where I felt like I knew what the hell I was doing. And the first time I really loved the finished product:

It was a Christmas present for my momma. Isn't she adorable?

I enjoyed it so much, I decided to make one for myself. I had the perfect yarn already, purchased from Touch Yarns during my vacation in New Zealand:

Imagine this x 10!

According to its Ravelry project page, I started it on Jan. 8th, 2009. I remember working furiously on it while I was in Berkeley...until it became painfully clear that there was no way I was going to finish it before it was no longer weather appropriate. I couldn't just finish a sweater and not be able to show it off immediately; unacceptable. So I just kind of put it aside. It had basically slipped my mind that it was indeed becoming sweater weather again, until about a week ago I decided to pick it back up. Excellent timing, considering everything else I was working on spawned feelings of 'hatehatehate' every time I tried to make some progress. But I had some warm, fuzzy feelings from all of your comments of encouragement and kind words on my recent destruction (thanks, guys!). I was up to a sleeveless sweater last March:

Picking it back up was like falling into my favorite recliner, or chatting with an old friend. It has dissipated my 'hatehate' feelings on knitting for now, and I've gone from zero to almost a sleeve in just week (hey, I'm slow, OK?). But now I need to try it on to determine sleeve length, and I still haven't finished off the bottom hem because it requires the dreaded....KITCHENER'S STITCH (aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!). I think this may have been part of the reason I gave up so easily last spring....I'm not opposed to a little KS, but this was like 30 inches of it. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Halloween! Costume? Crap.

Blogger's note: This post has been brewing in the queue for two weeks while I begged around for a photo of my costume. But rest assured! It was totally....not worth the wait. Sorry.

Halloween is one of the best holidays. It signals that fall has definitely arrived and brings with it carved pumpkins (with their delicious baked seeds), apple cider (rum optional) and enjoyable scares. I'll never forget the Halloween that a neighbor came after my mom with a chainsaw. Turns out it was a prank and he'd removed the chain, but I'm pretty sure she had to change her underwear nevertheless.

It's also an excuse to wear a costume, which is simultaneously an opportunity for fun and creativity and a hideously daunting task. My perpetual goal is to spend as little money as absolutely possible without looking like the kid in gradeschool who's mom was too cheap to buy a costume but also couldn't sew. You know, he'd be wearing a garbage bag with armholes cut into it and claim to be a 'raincloud' or some shit.

As per usual, I'd made no plans for what to do and Halloween was only a couple of days away. I wandered the house trying to glean inspiration from household items. Women have an immediate costume advantage in the sense that they can take an every day occupational uniform, and simply make it slutty. It's the sexy 'blank' concept, as in sexy nurse, sexy fireman, or sexy garbageman (hey, maybe that garbage bag could work after all!). After brief consideration, I determined that a) I haven't been a college undergraduate in quite some time, and b) it's too damn cold in WI to be skanky for Halloween. I needed maximum coverage.

Where does one turn for trivial ideas and information? To the internets! I found myself on the 'Family Fun' website, which had a lot of cute ideas for kids costumes (in an attempt to avoid the 'sexy' moniker, I was reduced to looking at ideas directed at children). The option of jellyfish cried out to me the loudest for two reasons: it allowed me to wear warm clothing and I already had all of the materials.

I was especially excited to incorporate some yarn that had previously been languishing for almost a year with no prospects. Some of my relatives bought me this big-ass skein of yarn (or BASOY for short) for Christmas last year, and while I think it rocks...I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.

Figure of person added for scale.

Totally tentacles, right? The whole shebang took about 15 minutes to put together, I was warm and happy that night, and the BASOY finally started to find a home. Happy (extremely belated) Halloween!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Knitting in peace

I worked over the weekend. I know. I know. I can barely bring myself to work a regular work-week as it is, what gives? I've been trying to schedule time on a particular microscope at Oak Ridge National Lab for a few months now, and they couldn't accommodate me for months unless I was willing to work over the weekend.

I like to bitch and moan, and this was prime B & M-ing material (not to be confused with BM material, which, ew), but truth be told I was pleased to get out of the apartment for a while and to be able to knit in peace. No waiting for Sammy to pass out at 10 PM so I can get a little bit of knit on without anyone trying to consume my yarn and/or knitted object.

Turns out, the instrument operator understood many things in addition to how to make kick ass samples, 1) Making samples using this particular technique is incredibly boring, 2) One should combat this boredom by multitasking, and most importantly 3) It's the freakin' weekend so multitasking can include knitting. I finished a respectable piece of Mystery Wedding Project (which technically is no longer a mystery, considering the wedding has occurred and I've also informed the couple what they can hope to receive at some point).

Usually when I knit for a long period of time with non-knitters, I get a few questions about the logistics, the materials, the point. No such luck in this case, and for the entirety of Saturday I never succeeded in even steering the conversation away from microscopes. Sunday, I managed to slip in some football and housing market chit-chat, so, baby steps I guess.

I didn't have a camera to document my awesome garter stitch, but the microscope we used to make the sample did have a camera....so, geeks read on (and non-geeks, electron microscope photos can be very pretty):

Bulk sample is cut from the surface by a beam of atoms

Bulk sample is 'glued' to a tip and lifted out

Bulk sample is 'glued' to a grid

The bulk sample is thinned with a beam of atoms to the final, ridiculously thin end product (the areas that look 'broken' are the sweetest thin area)

It's so thin that electrons can pass all the way through it...giving you and image kind of like an X-ray photo on a much much tinier area

I was also accused of being a little old lady by another instrument operator. Maybe so, dork-wad, maybe so.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lofty Ambitions: or How I Think I'm Much Awesomer Than I Really Am

I always drop the ball (of yarn...ha! Ehhhhh.) when it comes to knitted Xmas gifts. Such lofty ambitions...but ask yourself, why would a person who has never done a two-color stranded knitting project decide to write her own pattern because she didn't like any of the ones that she looked through? The result was inevitable:

How did I not see this coming? And when I'm on the mighty Xmas deadline with more bitten off than I can chew as it is. Note to self: YOU ARE NOT AS AWESOME AS YOU SEEM TO THINK YOU ARE.

People tend to call tearing apart your knitting 'frogging'. I feel that this is an unfair characterization. Frogs are really pretty cute, when you think about it:

Awww, look at that little punum.

And think of the great frogs throughout history:

Come on. I propose a new word defining the torture that is tearing apart a project, one that truly captures the pain, one that's not so fucking cutesy. Go ponder, I'm thinking of something along the lines of 'searing gas pain-ing', 'UTI-ing', or 'shards of glass-ing' Those might be a little too cumbersome, but you get the idea.