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September 2007 Archives

September 4, 2007

The Club

A delightful thing happened yesterday on the way home from our weekly pilgrimage to the Outer Banks. I drive down since it's early in the morning and I've usually been up for hours, so CA always drives back - which means I get to knit for 74 miles. (Which also means I don't have to see how close CA is to the car in front of him.) I was deep into the corrugated ribbing of my latest project and was jolted by a horn honking - beep beep beep-BEEP - not necessarily a good sound. My head whipped up to see, in the left lane, a woman grinning and pointing to the knitting she was holding up and waving out the window of her big SUV. Too much - I'm grinning now thinking about it. I'm not sure what CA makes of me and this club sometimes - along with my many other quirks, but he cracked up too. I explained that it's just like how motorcycle dudes wave at other motorcycle dudes, or how anyone who has a four-wheel drive vehicle will automatically tow another four wheel drive vehicle out of the sand no-questions-asked, or I don't know, a secret handshake. I wagged my knitting back, laughing. Good stuff - made up for all the idiots who apparently paid extra to lollygag around in the left lane (not talking about the knitter). On that - do they forget to talk about what the left lane is for in driving school anymore? It's seared in my brain after driving lessons with my dad and the time I was driving the Bronco on the Washington, DC beltway with other family members in the car and he got so embarrassed that I was passed on the right. I was mortified as only a 15 year and 9 month old driver can be, but to this day I feel like an idiot if I get passed on the right. I just went to the DMV to see if the Driver's Manual said anything good about what the left lane was for, and not finding what I wanted, I found this absolutely hysterical and perfect ink while googling. Captain America says I can't get one of these decals for my car - what a killjoy.

But I was talking about knitting, and about being part of this fantastic group of people. And about that corrugated ribbing for my Reynolds Whiskey Fairisle Pullover (scroll down - first pattern on the right). For which I made a proper swatch, simulating the in-the-round knitting by leaving big, messy strands hanging off the back of the piece. I'm too cheap frugal worried about running out of yarn to clip at each end, but this method worked quite nicely. I then washed and blocked it - alert the press. I even got gauge, though my quest for the proper needles in the proper sizes and combinations proved difficult. I have more to say on that, just not right now. Anyway - the swatch, front and fabulously messy back:
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I've already done five inches of corrugated ribbing and I adore how the lavender glows from between the tobacco, and the tidy lines the stranding makes both front and back. I even carefully took all 200 stitches off the needles so I could try it on before starting the body - amazing how small this band looks and how nicely it fits so far. It did take doing the decrease round twice to remember how to figure "evenly" over the round and that it involves subtracting one after doing the division. I think out of all the crazy stuff I've knit, stranded knitting is my very favorite so far. Keeps me interested as I fall prey to the "just one more row" routine so I can see the next pretty colors go by. Appeals to my deeply buried neat-freak. Good stuff all around. Plus I'll potentially have a new sweater to wear BEFORE it gets cold.

September 7, 2007

That spider

I've been trying to catch my Leroy, the argiope or zipper spider, spinning her web, and finally discovered that, like me, she has her best energy very, very early in the morning. Tuesday I had the pleasure of watching her go round and round, looking like she was measuring each new span with two of her (loooong) legs, and then pulling the exact length of silk to tack down. I wondered what my digital camera would be able to capture with its video capabilities - this little Sony SureShot takes great video! Look - after watching her do the round and round bit for a while yesterday morning, she began to make the zipper part of her web - AND I GOT IT ON TAPE! I can't rotate this video - it would be 100% perfect if you could give it a turn clockwise - she's actually working bottom to top in the web.
I feel so honored that she let me see this - check out the amount of silk pouring out of her for this heavy stripe - remarkable. I dreamed I was able to train all her babies and they'd pour all that silk out on command so I could see if I could twist it into yarn! Which would be quite a coup really, given my terror of these things. I can't wait to see her egg sac, but I could have nightmares already thinking about all those little spiders hatching in the spring1

September 10, 2007

And just like that...

She's gone. Leroy is gone. I watched her spin her web early yesterday, and then fed her a moth which she seemed most pleased with. It took three tries to get a moth to stick in her web - twice with the same wiley moth who managed to slip through somehow to freedom. I witnessed Leroy wrap her moth and dangle it below for later. I wandered by an hour or so later to find Leroy sucking the moth package and to see her catch another little bug for lunch. When I went out again late in the afternoon, she was gone. Her web too - it looked like something just blew through the whole thing. She was in a bed up against our fence - not sure how a bird would have flown through, but the blackbirds were back in force yesterday on their way south, so I'm assuming one of them enjoyed a crunchy black & yellow lunch. I held out hope until this morning since she'd gone missing once before when she moved in the bed, but armed with my lantern at 6AM I scoured the bed for any sign - to no avail.

This is all I have left of my friend Leroy, and I'll try to keep it safe through the winter for her:
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Nature has been rough on me this summer - I'm sure the lesson has to do with how attached I get to fleeting things. From doves to baby birds to spiders I've been reminded to enjoy things while I can. Oy. I just miss her already. I know - I'm a freak. I've been trying to prepare myself for her natural death - but she's been such the queen of the tomatoes all summer that I almost expected her to live through our mild winter. I didn't expect to blink and find her gone. I had to look up Charlotte's Web quotes - this was an important book in my family and we even had a great german shepherd mutt named Wilbur. I wish I had the book because I know Charlotte says something profound about the cycle of life but I don't, so I'll go with some words from the narrator instead:

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. (The Dream will never forget Leroy either) Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

I have been knitting in between stalking Leroy and going to work, and this morning I bound off stitches at the armholes in my fair isle pullover, and tonight will test my gauge while knitting the front and back flat - ick. But better than trying to figure out how to get a steek in there, especially since I've never done steeks before. I will do them - I'm dying to cut some knitting, but I think I'll find an already-figured-out pattern for my first time. This photo of the glowing corrugated ribbing was meant for the last post, but since I don't have a current one, enjoy the indi-glo effect of the lavender and brown:
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September 17, 2007

Breaking out of a rut

Shhhhhh - don't tell anyone, but it looks like I'm into my second sweater in a row that fits:FI%20fit.jpg
Love this Whiskey pattern, love the colors, lovelovelove stranded knitting. I could be finishing off the last bit of knitting on the body instead of writing about it before work, but honestly, the prospect of dealing with the profound number of ends and twists and tangles for a little bit of neck and shoulder is too much for me this morning. While as I said, I lovelovelove this sweater, it has helped me form some rules for stranded knitting from here on out:

1. No more back and forth fair isle. Period. This is the second Reynolds stranded pattern I've made that does this, and the PITA that is trying to carry two yarns on a purl side is officially off the list. I've heard that pattern makers don't think American knitters like to cut their work.
2. I must STEEK. Soon. Dying to take scissors to my knitting.
3. No runs of color more than five stitches long from now on! I'm sure there's a very efficient way to twist the colors over these runs - but I have developed my own method that is clumsy and oh-so-inelegant (especially going back and forth).
4. Did I say in the round only from now on? The lovely rhythm of stranded knitting is just blown to bits otherwise.

Even though the thought of those last 10-12 rows of shoulder/neck is too much at the moment, I can look forward all day to coming home to finish after work tonight - which means I can start the sleeves. Since sleeve island for me is just as bad as second sock island, I will do both cuffs in corrugated ribbing on two circs at the same time. At which point I'll finish one at a time - after some thought, I realized I would only be creating havoc and stress with eight balls of yarn going at the same time. (Clever me - BEFORE I started this time.)

September 20, 2007

Out of Africa

Came my mother and my aunt and uncle - after an unbelievable trip to Mali to visit the home of my new cousin-in-law. So there they were, in the wilds of the third-world, negotiating on the black market, always finding cold Coke and beer in the remote-est of places, celebrating Jaimie & Drissa's wedding the Malian way with henna tattoos and bride and groom in separate huts - whew! Dad should have been there to lead the pack, but mom was apparently channeling him (and really just being her amazing self) when she always had a band-aid, or a pocket knife, or a granola bar - she was apparently the hero in many unusual situations. Mom - you rock!

When this arrived in the mail along with fabulous jewelry, game-y Malian honey, and a can of hot chocolate mix, I wondered if my mother had overestimated her communications skills and been taken for a little ride, and marveled at how she managed to have escaped rotting in some dirty jail a la Midnight Express - what does this look like to you?indigo.jpg
Wrapped in this pretty purple cellophane are a bunch of little brown chunks that look remarkably like something to be enjoyed under glass while listening to the Grateful Dead or the Dark Side of the Moon...
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Well, I won't be smoking it - it's indigo - real, true, African indigo. Looks like dried brown dirt, but after handling a chunk and wrapping it back up, I noticed my fingers were blue - so very cool. Must to study some dyeing manuals and perhaps try it out on gobs of BFL in my stash. Thanks mom!!

September 30, 2007

Ennui

I'm stalled on the first sleeve for the Whiskey pattern and I've spent the week groping around for anything else to play with. Part of that has to do with knitting a smaller circumference piece - I have to turn the work more frequently than when working on the body, so I have to stop more frequently to untangle all the balls . I might not fight with the tangles so much if I was willing to snip the yarn more frequently, but I'm lazy and it already looks like it will take me as much time to weave in all those ends. Or maybe I could be more methodical about turning the work one way and then the other, but I simply can't seem to store the direction of the last turn in my feeble brain long enough to do it the other way the next time. So I curse and untangle. Another part is that I've exhausted the "one more row" to see the next color change energy since i know darned well what's coming next. Not stalled, just slow. My tension is more even on two circs for the sleeve - interestink.

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Here's 722 more yards of Captain America's brown wool. I sure hope that the 1000+ yards I've spun is enough to make him an XL cabled vest since I'm quite bored with spinning it now, and I'm pretty sure I'm not yet a talented enough spinner to make more of it if I don't do it right now. I'll employ the usual methods of making sure I don't run out - knit faster and hold my breath. These hanks were all pretty with no weird bits sticking out, but a certain monster cat had a bit of fun when I wasn't looking.

I had to re-wind the largest hank in the photo so I could add more twist to the three-ply. I don't know why I'm afraid of the twist - don't beginning spinners usually over twist? Should I twist more since I'm plying? I hope to get the answer to these and more questions from my Mabel Ross DVD that I was finally able to watch a portion of this morning (without it hanging, thanks to new equipment). I was able to watch only a portion of it because, even though I was on my second cup of coffee, it put me right to sleep. She's got a very soothing and slooooooow voice and manner, and freaky spider fingers, but she's just a little dry. As soon as I turned it off, sure enough, wide awake again!

Tonight I decided I had to have a break and a mindless pattern to work on in between bouts of tangles, so I decided to swatch for the Minimalist Cardigan from IK Fall 07. Unfortunately, after an hour of energetic searching, I gave up, in a sweat, on finding the size 7 bamboo circular needles I know I own, and also the size 7 tips to my Denise set. Arrrrrgh. I even looked in the upstairs bathroom to see if perhaps this little monster had a secret hiding spot for all my size 7s:
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Bluefish, or more often FishyFishy, is our wild child. She's a beeee-yooooo-teee-ful cat but we forget it most of the time because she's such a goof. Anyway, she didn't take my needles.

Fine, I settled for my least favorite needles, Addi Turbos. Early in my knitting life, I unfortunately hung around a few Turbo addicts and stocked up on a lot - a LOT of them before I realized I like wood or plastic much better. I'm sure I was attracted to their supposed speed, but I've mellowed and realized it's not so much about speed, not that these needles afford me that anyway. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything about the glare of these shiny silver needles, but it irritates me. The only thing going for them, IMHO, and it's a big one, is that fabulous cable and join. Their new lace needles aren't as glare-y, and I used them for the ribbing on my Whiskey sweater with no big issues. I'm also using a Susan Bates Quicksilver circ on the sleeves, which to my surprise I like very much, since I really can't stand the same needle in straights - another thing I stocked up on before I knew any better. Amazing that I have more than 50 sets of needles and I never seem to have what I need for the next project. It's also remarkable how poor my memory of needle purchases is, given that I have at least four or five sets of size 5 dpns - go figure. I know it's hard for yarn shops to carry tons of different needles, but a good selection of wood AND Turbo would be nice. Love the Addi Naturas, but they're very hard to find around here. Must remember to put the new KnitPicks Harmony wood needles on my Christmas list.

So now, at least, I've cast on and done almost all the ribbing for the cardi - whew. I feel better. It's also perfect since I'm about to start four full days of database training, and while I've just been made the Queen of said database*, parts of this training are going to be old news for me. I've already told my boss that if he wants me alert and getting real smart, he'll have to put up with my knitting. He completely understood - told me he hears better when he's doing something with his hands.

*I've so wanted to be the Queen of our database for seven years now - but because of various power struggles and bogus job-protection tactics, I've not been allowed to be involved with its design. The department that kept such tight reign on it for so long is now almost completely full of new people and good energy, and they all know I know more about it than anyone else in the building. Very satisfying, finally. Told my boss I was going to be ruthless in cleaning it up, setting policies and procedures, and fixing all the stoooopid problems we've created over the years. Yay - wish me luck. Wish me a big fat bonus check too - I'm technically an executive secretary and this is above and beyond my call of duty!

And finally, wish me happy eighth anniversary. I think it's a good thing that I feel like Captain America and I have been together forever, and I'm absolutely certain I'm a very lucky girl (not the very freaky girl I once thought I was - you know, the kind you don't take home to mother). Love you, baby!

About September 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Dawn's Dream in September 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2007 is the previous archive.

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