Saturday, May 31, 2008

Technique check

I open today's entry with a brief note of thanks to Donna, whose comments to yesterday's post qualify her as a knitting guardian angel of sorts. While it turns out that I am indeed doing SKP (slip-knit-pass slipped stitch over) and knitting in front and back correctly, it's nice to have some independent confirmation and/or direction toward the proper help.

If it seems as though I have a tendency to believe I'm doing things the wrong way, it's because there is precedent, whether knitting-related or otherwise. I still hold a writing implement incorrectly. A pen or pencil is clutched in a scrunched up hand almost like I'm making a fist. The same probably applies to utensil usage as well. I've never had the greatest posture, to add one more to satisfy the rule of three. So I guess my elementary school teachers have some explaining to do.

This knitting uncertainty brought me to the Ravelry wiki, which should assist me with technique questions that crop up as I learn. Being led to video evidence that I'm doing SKP and kfb properly was quite nice. It's also a worthy reminder not to doubt my ability to pick up knitting skills. While there's a lot I'm partially convinced is beyond me, I'm farther along at a beginner stage than I ever thought I'd be. So that's something.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Angling as directed

The Chevron Stripes Hand Towel from Mason-Dixon Knitting is finally looking how it should. Sort of. The stockinette in the yellow stripes is slanting the opposite way of how it appears in the book, but there's no chance I'm going to let that difference bother me. Getting this WIP to this point has been enough of an ordeal.

Although just four of the twelve rows in the pattern have the increases and decreases, they're enough to make knitting it a longterm commitment. Seriously, this thing is going to take me forever to do. Two repeats down, only 25 to go.

I think I've got the hang of knitting in the front and back, although the job can be a tight one to accomplish. SKP hasn't been so bad, assuming that I'm doing it correctly. (I'm slipping knitwise, which is what one resource suggested the directions intend.) I had been somewhat intimidated by these techniques--silly, I know--but I've found that they're within my skill level. I might do well to knit more loosely, though. That's probably part of the reason why the rows with these techniques take me such a long time.

I'm using Knit Picks CotLin in Moroccan Red and Crème Brulee. The red sheds something fierce. I've noticed less of the yellow yarn all over my shirt.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fourth time's the charm?

I've cast on for the fourth time on the Chevron Stripes Hand Towel. I think it's finally right. Fingers crossed.

I haven't heard back yet if my correction to the correction is indeed correct, but the proof would appear to be on my needles. It's about time. I was getting tired of restarting it.

Of course, something worth doing is worth screwing up. When I was on the row that has caused me problems those three other times, I discovered an extra stitch as I got to the end of the row. It wasn't a pattern problem but a me problem. Somewhere along the line I made an extra stitch. I wasn't sure where it came from, but I wasn't about to rip out everything again. Knit two together and hope for the best. So far, so good. Photo tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More errata

The only reason why I should bother writing today is to direct you to Donna's entry about the internet and knitting. Seriously, check it out.

But there is a minor knitting development here, so I guess I'll tap out a few more words tonight. Remember my frustration with errata? I hadn't bothered knitting again until this evening. I went to knit night and cast on for the third time on this project.

The problematic row seemed to be progressing just fine, although I did get distracted by conversations and had to keep counting to make sure I had done everything I was supposed to do. The increasing and decreasing is a real drain on my knitting speed, but I figure that I'm better off keeping things slow until it becomes more like second nature.

And then I found that my count was off. Ugh, not again. I counted one direction and the other. I retraced my steps several times. No matter how I looked at it, the stitches weren't adding up. This was quite distressing. Then it hit me. There's a good chance that the errata page is wrong too.

After a little experimenting, the shop's owner told me that the number of stitches doesn't work out. I think I know what it should be, which is surprising in its own right, but we'll see what the book's author has to say. It's just nice to know that this time the error might not be one I made. No sweat. I have plenty of 'em on reserve.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eurovision knitting

While trawling the comments on The Hater's entry about Eurovision 2008, I saw mention of knitting in one of the country's routines. Since I had nothing better to write about today, I had to track it down to share with you.

It took watching two other performances of Bosnia and Herzegovina's entry--including one in English, if you're dying to know what they're singing--before I located the one in question. I've always been loathe to embed YouTube videos, especially for stuff that's likely to get yanked by rights holders, but I wanted to make it as easy as possible to watch this catchy abomination...with choreographed knitting by brides.

Seeing as Eurovision merits very little attention in the U.S., I don't have the slightest idea what is up with this extraordinarily tacky competition, but I sort of love it from afar. (Assuming it hasn't been pulled down, Ireland's entry, which I find strangely mesmerizing, defies description. It must be seen.)

With all the other nonsense that makes it to TV here, why don't we get to see this? More frightfully, why aren't we doing an American equivalent? Or is that what the MTV Video Music Awards are for?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

One year later

Hard as it is for me to believe, I moved into my new apartment one year ago today. If you were reading this blog prior to my relocation, you're likely well aware of what prompted it. For the rest of you, the reason can be summed up as loud, obnoxious neighbors.

Without a doubt, moving was the best decision I made last year. Home is a place of relaxation again. While I knew that circumstances at my old apartment were stressing me out, I wasn't aware how bad it had become. It took me awhile for the sound of rain not to have me nervously scanning the ceiling for signs of leakage. (That problem recurred for two and a half years in spite of repair work.) Hearing footsteps coming up to the second floor was not cause for alarm of a loud night from the neighbors. It's like I was recovering from a mild case of apartment-related PTSD.

Sure, $4.00 per gallon gasoline makes having a commute to work from where I live now seems less than wise, but I've made other changes to offset the increasing cost of driving. This holiday weekend I didn't venture more than a couple miles from home. I regretted losing the neighborhood feel and quick access by foot to several places from my previous uptown suburban apartment, but I've been pleasantly surprised to find how much is within walking distance from my current home.

A year later it's nice to sit here and enjoy the results of a good decision. Ultimately, I suppose that's all I really wanted in a home: to be comfortable and at ease.


Sunday, May 25, 2008


This weekend was supposed to be one of great knitting productivity and success but has spiraled into one of seasonal allergy misery, headaches, and knitting errors aplenty.

For instance, I cast on late last night to begin the Chevron Stripes Hand Towel from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I soon found that CotLin sheds like a long-haired cat, although the discovery didn't bother me that much. I finished my first five rows of garter stitch, switched colors from Moroccan Red to Crème Brulee, and began the first row with the increases and decreases which had put me off knitting this earlier.

Everything was fine, albeit slow, as I neared the end of the row. Then I noticed that I wasn't going to have enough stitches to do what the directions were telling me to do. Hmm. It was at this point that the metaphorical light bulb blinked on above my head. I remembered looking at the pattern on Ravelry a couple weeks ago and saw that it listed errata. Too bad I didn't recall this.

I picked up the project this afternoon and hastily went about frogging. Now it is a big step for me to take the whole thing off the needles and ripping rather than methodically unknitting stitch by stitch, but with the decreases complicating matters, I was feeling more courageous. I frogged the offending row and two rows of perfectly acceptable garter stitch for good measure because, well, why not?

I carefully reinserted the needle to pick up the stitches, paused to count, and then resumed. Of course, it's when I took this break that I managed to drop a stitch. No problem, I thought. I saw it, stuck a needle through it to keep it in place, and went to slip it into place when I approached it. That's when I dropped a couple more. So...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip. Let's begin again.

Begin the begin. Once at the incorrect row in the pattern I stared at the correction on my laptop screen and slowly did what it told me. I was a at least halfway through it when I had the uneasy feeling that I had been forgetting to do something else. I looked at the book. Hey, I haven't been doing those k3. Blast! As for the stitches...and then there were none as I ripped it all out again...

...and realized that the k3 is nowhere to be found in the errata on the website. You see, I noticed that the book didn't have the k5 at the beginning of the row. That's the only fix I assumed needed to happen. What I failed to recognize was that the book was lacking the k5 to start the row and unnecessarily included a k3 in the repeated section for most of the row. What I had been doing was correct.

Needless to say, I have given the needles a timeout since these woeful mistakes. Perhaps they'll work properly after having a night to think about their errors.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Process of elimination

Ever have one of those days where you wonder where the time went? I didn't have any plans, but somehow the day slipped away from me without getting much of anything done.

I have decided that double knitting is probably not the best method for realizing Design Experiment #1 as a dishcloth. This tutorial was helpful in teaching me how to do double knitting. I practiced with some stash yarn and think I got the hang of it with only a few mistakes.

That being said, it seems as though this method would work best if the project was entirely in stockinette. I'm not sure how that might change my design. I don't feel like doing a second experiment, so that's part of the reason for nixing double knitting.

Another reason is the slowness of the method. I'm knitting twice as much as necessary and half as fast. (Let's not discuss struggling to keep the two strands from tangling.) While it might look pretty cool, I don't think I have the patience for it.

A third strike is the inevitable confusion that will come when trying to keep it all straight. I think I would be complicating the project by an enormous amount if using double knitting. It would be very easy to lose track of what stitch I'm on.

Mosaic knitting can also be eliminated from the list of methods. Turns out I already know how to do it, but it won't work for my pattern.

So I suppose that leaves me with intarsia. I don't know if I'll give it a shot tomorrow or if I'll switch to a different project that my CotLin yarn is begging to be knitted into. I'll say this: it's been an educational week.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

The next step

Design experiment #1 was declared a success--and grants me the absurd, self-bestowed status of "designer" on Ravelry--but where do I go from there? The answer: learning intarsia, double knitting, or mosaic knitting.

I suppose this is when the realization comes that it can often be best not to know what one is getting into. When I decided to take a stab at figuring out the pattern for the logo, I didn't expect that the challenge was going to stretch my knowledge or abilities much. It seemed cut and dried that you trace the logo in a grid, convert the shape into knits and purls, and then knit it. I had a vague notion of how gauge factored into the equation, but it wasn't worried about it.

Now here I am on the precipice of learning a new technique or more. I watched a couple videos at Knitting to help with choosing the best way (translation: most comprehensible to me) to proceed in making the dishcloth I envisioned. I should be intimidated, but I've come this far that I might as well knuckle down and try to learn something that I've doubted I can do. The long weekend will be good for this.

Thanks for your comments and encouragement regarding my foray into pattern writing. It might not seem like much to write down a few positive words of praise, but they've made me feel good. Taking satisfaction in one's achievements is nice; receiving compliments from others is equally wonderful.

I've said many times that I held no illusions about what I could do when I started knitting. Truthfully, I set the bar pretty low. The support and kindness you all have provided to me, even if via brief blog comments, are responsible in part for me attempting to do what I wouldn't have thought possible. Sometimes it helps when others have more faith in us. Let me try to repay it in kind. If I can design something and learn these new techniques, so can you.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Design experiment #1

Cincinnati Reds Logo Design Experiment #1

Yarn: Lion Cotton (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Natural
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 63
Size: 6" x 13.5"

I came pretty close to replicating the wishbone C, if I do say so myself. I knitted this to see how my chart translated into stitches. The C may be narrower in my knitted item, but it certainly captures the essence of the logo...or is close enough for my exacting standards. Frankly, I'm amazed that it turned out this well.

I wasn't intending to "make" anything, but it would appear that I've cranked out a miniature hand towel. I used yarn from my stash. I didn't knit the few extra rows on the top and bottom that would have given a uniform border. I just wanted to make this as quickly as possible and examine the result. That I've produced something of undetermined use is a bonus.

I ended up plowing through most of this experiment during knit night in the café. Although I initially thought I'd missed everyone at the Thursday gathering, I spotted two other knitters who are part of the group but weren't present last week. It was nice to meet some new people and see a couple familiar faces. For that matter, it was nice to know that the trip had been worth making. (I didn't see anyone I recognized when I arrived a little late, ate supper, and was on the way out the door until I saw KIPing.)

This experiment is on the large size, especially in dishcloth terms, but it might work as a dish or hand towel if I knitted more stockinette around the wishbone C. The major question now is how do I knit the background in red and the C in white. Intarsia is one option. Someone tonight suggested double knitting, which might be interesting if it produces a reversible FO with red on white for one side and white on red for the other. How would switching needle size affect the pattern? It's all a mystery to me at this point, but I'm proud that my design worked on this level. I imagine I'll figure it out eventually.

Anyway, here's the pattern for the rare person who wants to replicate it. I used US 7s and worsted weight cotton.

-CO 63 stitches
-Knit two rows in k1, p1 moss stitch
-[k1, p1] twice, k to the last 4 stitches, [p1, k1] twice
-[k1, p1] twice, p to the last 5 stitches, [k1, p1] twice, k1

For the wishbone C, I used the five-stitch border of moss stitch followed by four stitches in stockinette. Odd-numbered rows begin with [k1, p1] twice, k5 and end with k5, [p1, k1] twice. Even-numbered rows begin with [k1, p1] twice, k1, p4 and end with p4, k1, [p1, k1] twice.

Row 1: k12, p15, k18
Row 2: p16, k19, p10
Row 3: k8, p23, k14
Row 4: p13, k25, p7
Row 5: k6, p27, k12
Row 6: p11, k29, p5
Row 7: k4, p11, k9, p11, k10
Row 8: p9, k10, p13, k10, p3
Row 9: k2, p9, k17, p9, k8
Row 10: p7, k9, p19, k9, p1
Row 11: p9, k21, p9, k6
Row 12: p5, k9, p31
Row 13: k32, p9, k4
Row 14: p3, k9, p33
Row 15: k33, p10, k2
Row 16: p1, k11, p33
Row 17: k33, p12
Row 18: p1, k11, p33
Row 19: k33, p10, k2
Row 20: p3, k9, p33
Row 21: k32, p9, k4
Row 22: p5, k9, p31
Row 23: p9, k21, p9, k6
Row 24: p7, k9, p19, k9, p1
Row 25: k2, p9, k17, p9, k8
Row 26: p9, k10, p13, k10, p3
Row 27: k4, p11, k9, p11, k10
Row 28: p11, k29, p5
Row 29: k6, p27, k12
Row 30: p13, k25, p7
Row 31: k8, p23, k14
Row 32: p16, k19, p10
Row 33: k12, p15, k18

-[k1, p1] twice, p to the last 5 stitches, [k1, p1] twice, k1
-[k1, p1] twice, k to the last 4 stitches, [p1, k1] twice
-Knit two rows in k1, p1 moss stitch
-Bind off

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


With some helpful advice from Donna, some research that's left me even more in search of answers, and a desire to see what in the world my pattern will produce, I've dived headfirst into knitting, well, something.

It's far too big to be a gauge swatch. (It may be as long as my recently finished hand towel.) I'm going to knit every last row to see how the wishbone C of the Cincinnati Reds turns out according to the knits and purls I've plotted on a graph. Then I'll deal with figuring out how to shrink the pattern and do the color work.

Yes, I've been told that I most likely need to try my hand at intarsia. I've checked some books and have come to agree; however, that doesn't mean I have the slightest idea how to do it. One thing at a time. First we'll see if the C I've laid out on a chart resembles the C I'm trying to produce.

Reading my chart has been easy--it should be--although I am writing down the instructions for each line to help me with keeping the sides straight in my head. I feel like I'm on a fool's errand, but there's no doubt that I'll learn a few things in the process. Stay tuned...

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

C squared

The pattern designing continues. The example above is relatively close to what I want, but it needs to be squashed down a little more. The wishbone C appears too circular. The weird thing is that it looks more compact than another one I drew using the same measurements. (You can ignore a few of the errors I made in this sketch. I had a momentary lapse of concentration when marking each of those tiny squares.)

Of course, the question is if this pattern will be sufficient since the knit and purl stitches should be larger than the size of each of these boxes. This is when I start outsmarting myself and getting hopelessly confused. The square is 45 stitches x 30 rows, or 3 13/16" in a practical measurement.

I'm slightly tempted to just start knitting and discover what I produce as the stitches accumulate, but the thought of doing half of this and finding that I've made critical miscalculations gives pause. And to think I assumed this would be a relatively simple design. Decisions, decisions...

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Monday, May 19, 2008

In the design

While I wait for my CotLin order to arrive in the mail, I am trying my hand at designing a pattern. OK, so I didn't create the Reds' wishbone C, but translating it into knits and purls qualifies, doesn't it?

I thought this might look good on a dishcloth, and I know a few people who might be appreciative of one, including yours truly. How do I write a pattern, though?

First I printed off some graph paper I found online and a large image of the logo. Then I put the graph paper over the logo and tried to put a circle where the C is. (I incorrectly assumed that a circle in patterns symbolizes purls. Although it is wrong at this stage, I'll fix it when I get something to my satisfaction.) I did far from perfect work on the initial one seen above, but I figured it gave me a good starting point.

The bottom half of the C looked better than the top, so I counted stitches and tried flipping the numbers for the upper half on a second sketch. Something doesn't look quite right, but we'll see what happens with a third drawing.

I know the approximate number of stitches for dishcloths, meaning I'm not worried about designing with a stitch count that will be closer to a beach towel than a dishrag. I assume that borrowing the trick I learned about working with two colors on the ballband dishcloth will also apply here. I know I don't want to utilize any slipped stitches, so I have that potential mishap covered.

The main thing I'm unsure of is if switching colors in the middle of rows presents unanticipated problems. (I'll be knitting a white wishbone C onto a red background.) I'm in uncharted territory, so if you foresee some colossal mistake ahead of me, please let me know.

Also, I welcome any designing suggestions, hints, warnings, etc. I'm making this up as I go along--literally--and appreciate your advice.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Toweling off

Moss Grid Hand Towel (from Mason-Dixon Knitting)

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy (34% hemp, 41% cotton, 25% modal; DK weight)
Colorway: 09
Needles: US 5s
Stitches: 73

I've done some serious knitting in the past week, including today. I started knitting during the Reds-Indians game today, kept at it through all nine innings, took a break to exercise, and then cranked out the rest over the next couple hours. My conservative estimate for the time it took to knit the entire thing is eighteen hours, with about five of them taking place on this lazy Sunday. Wait a minute...five hours of knitting today?! The time flew by.

Although gauge isn't critical for this project, I will point out that my hand towel is approximately 11" x 20" (vs. the book's 13" x 20"). I substituted the hemp/cotton/modal blend for the suggested linen. I used about a skein and a half of Hempathy. The difference in size can probably be chalked up to the yarn, although I think I'm probably a tight knitter too.

I knew how to do everything the pattern required, but I did learn a better way of unknitting that will definitely come in handy for future mistakes. The pattern is simple, but it does produce a somewhat intricate-looking FO that leaves me impressed. I've been told that it ought to get softer after a trip or two through the laundry, but I'm very happy with it as it is.

Prior to being a knitter I would have never given a second thought to something as mundane as a hand towel. Certainly there are cheaper and more efficient ways of getting one than making it myself, but now when I wash my hands I can take pride in a small piece of my own handiwork.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

In search of

I found out that a new LYS nearby opened recently. Since I'll soon be in need of yarn for another project, I thought I'd check it out. Maybe they would have the elusive linen for the hand towel patterns in Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Well, maybe not. They stocked a linen blend and hemp, both of which would do the trick, but some sticker shock on my part had me leaving without making a purchase. In my inexpert opinion the shop stocks nice yarns and has ample room to display more. The prices were higher than what I was looking to spend today for hand towels, but I'll be back to browse.

At this point Knit Picks CotLin appears to offer the most bang for my buck. I'll place an order once I determine what colors I would like together in a chevrons pattern.

The hand towel has rejuvenated me knitting-wise. I'd been in a project rut, but this one has whatever I was seeking. The pattern sharing the same page in the book has some instructions unfamiliar to me, so it ought to be interesting to see how I fare learning something new.

Contrary to my expectations, I don't think I'll have an FO tomorrow. This was not a productive knitting day, but I'm closer than I anticipated being one week after beginning the project. Whatever the case, I feel like I'm back in form again.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Too smart by half

Fridays have always been weighted in favor of being movie day but especially now that I'm bypassing the scattered weekday press and promo screenings. I had two films to catch up with near Ohio State and a third and potentially fourth on campus that I'd be taking in "for fun". There was going to be plenty of free time, so I made sure to have the WIP hand towel for some knitting in public between films.

Between the first two I found a corner in the theater's café where I could see some sunlight and be undisturbed. I spent almost an hour knitting away with the only distraction being the TVs displaying cable news reports that couldn't be more vapid or repetitive. After the second film I had almost two hours before the old yakuza flicks started at OSU, so I set out for Starbucks for what turned out to be some really enjoyable knitting time.

A band was playing on the coffee shop's patio, providing a pleasant knitting background and food for thought. Their covers setlist was heavy on familiar songs from the 70s. When they began playing comparatively more recent stuff, it was interesting to hear what tunes from the last fifteen years have earned "classic" status. "Mary Jane's Last Dance" featured a bad approximation of a Tom Petty/Bob Dylan vocal. The inclusion of "Wonderwall" reveals Oasis' lasting contribution to American pop culture. A Coldplay song making the cut wasn't surprising, but that the trio opted for an album cut was.

The cover of Sublime's "What I Got" adhered to the radio edit down to the way he sang "motherf-----". Maybe he was too young to know that there was enough controversy at the time over Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing"--the second verse on the album version was altered or deleted entirely for airplay--because he sang the slur, which was kind of shocking to hear.

After 6 p.m. I decided that it was time to move my car from the side street to a prime vacated spot near where I'd be watching the next film or films. That's when I saw a parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper.

It took me by total surprise. I'd parked on this street in an effort to avoid parking in the theater's garage and having to pay five bucks. It was a nice enough day and not that far of a walk. More importantly, I was pretty certain that I was in the clear leaving my car where I did. The ticket stated that I was parked along the street in a residential permit area. None of the signs nearby made mention of this, so I was not pleased about this. I drove around the block to see if I could spot said sign. Although obscured from my driver's seat view, I caught a glimpse of something a ways back that looked like this:

Nice trap. This sign was at the end of the parking meters, which I wasn't going to use, and before the street parking. It was covered up by a tree branch from my vantage point in the car. The other signs on the street have the other restrictions posted but lack the "Permit Parking Area". How convenient. I made an honest mistake, but I feel like I have a valid argument to back me up.

Still, it's probably not worth fighting. Downtown parking, court costs, and a gallon of gas would probably add up to near the $33 I'm out that the effort would likely be wasted. But it pisses me off nonetheless. So much for thinking I was being clever and saving a five spot. Guess I had the money to drop on the Flight of the Conchords concert here tonight after all, even if it's going to the parking violations bureau instead.

Over at the next moviegoing location I got a more pleasant surprise. One of the ticket takers asked what I had been knitting. I was confused because I hadn't been knitting there. She'd seen me knitting at Starbucks but hadn't said anything. It turns out that she's a knitter, which makes sense because experience has shown that I'm invisible when knitting in public except when a fellow knitter sees me.

I watched the first Japanese film but elected to bail before the second. When planning the day I gave myself permission not to stay for both if I was feeling tired. (I got in free, so skipping out on something I paid for wasn't a factor.) I figured three films, a couple of hours of KIPing, and a parking ticket made for a full day. I'd do it all again except for the last, obviously.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another day, another knit night

Make it back-to-back knit nights for me, although tonight's excursion was to a café rather than a yarn shop. Best as I can tell, Ravelry brought people together for some Thursday evening knitting. I'd been considering going for awhile and finally ventured to it for the first time tonight.

Now I've never considered myself to be the most sociable person, a quality that's often misread as aloofness or snobbery but is really self-consciousness. Keeping quiet is the surest way to make others think there's something suspicious about you. When people get to know me (and vice versa), I'm something of a chatterbox, but prior to that familiarity I'm usually more than happy to keep to myself and listen.

Which makes matters such as knit nights doubly tricky. There's no blending into the walls when you're the only guy present. I'm not trying to be invisible, although the power to vanish might be useful when talk turns to, umm, womanly things. No, I'm content to knit and be quiet while I get the temperature of the room and the group.

I must say that knitters--women, all of them--have been welcoming even though I may be asking myself what in the world I'm doing there. That question emerged as I approached the place tonight. I met one of the group at the yarn shop's knit night several months ago, so I wasn't going in completely blind. At the same time, it wasn't like I knew these people. My mind decided to remind me of this less than a mile from the café. When I walked in and didn't see anyone knitting (despite deliberately arriving slightly late), my first impulse was to split. I decided to get something to eat. Shortly thereafter a face I recognized was there, and all was well.

I ate a delicious (and presumably healthful) Thai burrito and then got to the knitting. A few questions were asked of me every so often, but for the most part I was able to enjoy the company and not feel out of place or put on the spot. At most there were six other women there, all more in my age room than the older-skewing Wednesday knit night, which was less intimidating too. (There's nothing wrong with being around women most of whom are twenty to thirty years older than me, but it is sort of weird.)

I'd been there for nearing three hours when I packed it in and headed home. I enjoyed the more laid-back knitting time and appreciated the acceptance, but the lack of lumbar support in the seating and limited leg room was killing my back. Plus, I hadn't been home since work, and I was starting to wind down.

As for what I was knitting, the hand towel continues to progress nicely. There's a good chance I might finish it this weekend. I think I'm back in the zone that I couldn't find for awhile.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Return to knit night

I hadn't been to a knit night at the LYS in months, quite possibly since before Thanksgiving. (For that matter, until this past Saturday I hadn't been in there to browse or buy since December .) I had nothing going on this evening and a moss grid hand towel to be knitted, so I decided to make my quiet return.

I should mention that I hadn't been staying away for any particular reason. I'd been busy doing basketball stats in the winter months and then hadn't really been working on anything that was the right thing to take to one of these evenings.

I didn't recognize everyone and didn't remember many names, so I was content to knit and mostly listen to the dozen or so women who were present. Even if I didn't pipe up much, it beat sitting at home and listening to the TV. And the lighting is brighter.

The hand towel is not exactly a quick knit, but almost two and a half hours were gone before I knew it. I finished a repeat and a half--14 rows--during that time, which is probably close to my regular speed. I must have been listening or become distracted at one point because near the end of one row I realized that I was knitting the wrong one in the pattern.

A couple of the women said that what I'd knit looked complicated. Almost all of them were making sweaters or something beyond what I've done, so I'm mystified how they'd think what I'm doing is complex. It's just alternating knit and purl stitches. There are no slipped stitches, decreases, increases, cables, etc. It doesn't get much easier at the beginner level. But I need to shut up and enjoy the compliments.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Things to appreciate on a day when I'm too fried to write or do anything else...

-Being out and about at the right time to spot the long lines at the gas station and decide to get that necessary fill-up at the "bargain" price of $3.64/gallon. An hour or two later it was $3.95.

-It would appear that the last major component--and some might say the most essential--of my place of employment's move has now been completed. Never mind that it should have been done nine months ago.

-Writing for the show came relatively easily today, a miracle considered how stuck I've been feeling of late and how much I procrastinated until the last minute.

-As much as I'm ready for the academic year to be over--one more month?!?!--I have more faith in the students being able to do what they need to accomplish than I ever have. Believe me, it removes a huge burden.

-The Reds have won two in a row.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

The undoing

My method for unknitting errors has been to work right to left. In other words, the needle where I've created the new stitches stays still in my right hand while the needle in my left hand goes about the business of undoing everything back to the mistake. The technique has worked all right, but the byproduct is tough-to-knit stitches until I make it past all of the undone ones.

For whatever reason last night I decided to mix things up when I discovered an error some fifty stitches earlier in the row of the moss grid hand towel. I turned the work around and undid the stitches left to right. Then I returned the knitting back to the proper side and knitted as usual.

The difference was remarkable. The undone stitches could be knitted without any resistance. I had no problems getting the needle into them, which has been the result of unknitting stitches the way I've done it since I learned. Have I been doing it incorrectly all this time and just now seen the light?

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Inclement weather knitting

Since childhood the wail of tornado sirens has unsettled me. As if the black, portentous sky, strong winds, and hard rain aren't enough to spook one, the unyielding howls communicating the urgent need to take cover suggest impending doom. For me tornado warnings recall when everyone piled into one of the bathrooms--no basement in our home--and listened to staticky AM radio for information and the eventual all clear.

Hearing the sirens takes me back to those times. A few years ago I was at my parents' place in eastern Indiana when the warnings sounded after midnight. I felt like a kid again as we went into this house's basement and waited it out. I was also spooked some when I was in Arkansas for some post-Thanksgiving 2005 tornadoes.

While I've never witnessed a funnel cloud, I suppose my fear of and curiosity about them is natural. We're never more vulnerable than when at the mercy of the elements, yet there's something eerily magnificent about such disastrous natural phenomena. During a childhood vacation at Lake Erie I saw waves going high over a pier during a storm. It was a scary and awesome sight. (Lest this seem in exceptionally poor taste considering the storm destruction today in the Midwest and the cyclone that has caused unimaginable devastation in Myanmar, I'm not

So when the sirens hollered this afternoon, I reverted a bit to my childhood state and tried to figure out what to do. I flipped the TV from the ballgame on cable to a local network affiliate. I wasn't sure what to do because my apartment doesn't have a basement or any rooms without windows. There's a short hallway leading from the main living area to the bedroom, so that's the best place I determined I could camp out.

I boosted the TV volume so I could hear the weathermen talk about the storm and gathered up the things I would need: a blanket, pillow, telephone, my knitting, the book with the knitting pattern, and The Survival Radio-Light, quite possibly the greatest and most useful movie promotional item I've received. (It was sent as part of the campaign for Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.) Yes, it was overkill, but if the power went out, I wouldn't have to budge.

Of course, in retrospect I may not have picked the best spot if a tornado had come through. I wasn't near any windows, but I was sitting in front of the closet with the hot water heater and furnace. Something tells me that being in front of those pieces might not be ideal. Maybe the kitchen would have been better, even if there's a big sliding glass window immediately to the side.

The sirens blared for forty or fifty minutes, and reports of tornado sightings (although no touchdowns) were as close as a couple miles from my home. I kept my ears on the TV and my eyes on the moss grid hand towel I'm knitting until the danger passed.

I've finished two of the twelve repeats on my current WIP, which you see above. I like what I'm seeing so far, and it's going a little faster than I anticipated. Then again, nothing brings focus like wondering if a twister is on its way.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008


Ballband dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Sage Green and Red
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 45

This was the first of these dishcloths from Mason-Dixon Knitting that I cast on but the second I completed. I'm thinking I'll send it to my mother as a belated Mother's Day gift.

I wasn't really looking for an answer to that question, but today I did find a couple solutions which I've been seeking. After reading that pollen counts are a lot higher than usual here, I decided that being miserable and trying to ride out the allergies wasn't worth it. The grocery store pharmacist recommended Zyrtec, so we'll see how it treats me. (Claritin has been effective in the past, but something in its non-drowsy formula tended to wipe me out.)

Of greater interest to you, I finally located my next knitting project. I pulled out Mason-Dixon Knitting again and thought that the hand towel patterns matched the undefined qualities of what I'd been looking for. At first I considered knitting the Chevron Stripes Hand Towel pattern, but since there are a couple instructions new to me, I elected to go with the Moss Grid Hand Towel.

Both patterns call for linen, but my LYS didn't have any. I'm substituting Hempathy by Elsebeth Lavold, which is 34% hemp, 41% cotton, and 25% modal. The color is a blue, maybe a cornflower blue. (It isn't listed on the manufacturer's site, so that's my guess at the specific color.)

Since this is finer yarn, I have the feeling that it's going to take me awhile to knit, but I'm OK with that. I'm just happy to have a new project that's a little different from what I've already done.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

One of those days

Excerpts from a day that was not noteworthy...

Wake up late with the aftereffects of seasonal allergies kicking things off with a headache...

Play catch-up at the movie theater with Redbelt and Speed Racer. Oddly enough, both films tell highly stylized stories about maintaining personal integrity by staying outside of the system. The Mamet film is by far the better of the two, although I suspect the spartan dialogue and plot details may be more off-putting to general audiences than the attention deficit disorder hallucination that is Speed Racer. The headache that had diminished returned while watching it...

Find freelance check in the mail for the blurb I wrote a few weeks ago. There it is: proof that I can now claim to have been a paid writer, at least once...

Get a work-related e-mail that is the latest of an infrequent but infuriating variety. Call co-worker to fill him in. Much bitching commences...

Squeeze in some exercise before the rain...

Take the nap that my body was requesting during Speed Racer...

Browse Ravelry in search of a project idea. Still no luck. Have momentary thought that maybe I should knit that second sock now. Realize that it's late and I must not be thinking straight...

Beat the medium level on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. I have serious doubts that I can complete the hard level--finishing expert is probably a pipe dream--but it's been fun learning "guitar". I wouldn't mind picking up the real thing one of these days...


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stick men

The knitting stories I come across tend to hit all the same points. Not just for grannies! Zany, non-traditional projects! Blogs! It's hip, really! Even some men do it!

The articles exclusively about male knitters tend to approach the subject as though we are strange creatures on display in zoos. The tones of the pieces aren't dismissive, yet there's a lingering sense that the authors don't know what to make of this alien subculture.

Perhaps that's why it was such a pleasure to read this story about men who knit. The writer shares some interesting statistics--men account for five percent of the knitting population (lower than I would have guessed)--and anecdotes from male knitters and yarn shop employees that ring true to my experiences.

I appreciate that this article seems more respectful than the usual reports. I don't need validation in the media for being a knitter, but it's nice to read a story that understands why people like me continue to knit mostly in secret.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Here I go again

I know I promised a dishcloth FO photo for today, but by the time I was ready to take it the light outside wasn't good. Another day...

I haven't gone to the knit night in forever--I haven't even been to the LYS since December--and decided against going this evening despite having it free because I feel like I'm project-less. What am I working on? Good question. I'm still about halfway through a never-ending blanket, which isn't conveniently portable. (I'm also unsure of the whole LYS etiquette of using yarn bought elsewhere, so why bother?) And, um, that's it for the time being.

Faced with a knitting gap, I'm looking for another project...and coming up empty-handed. I paged through several new additions at Ravelry, but unless I develop a sudden need to make a woman's cardigan, it wasn't much help. Of course, I don't even know where to begin with what I want to knit next.

I don't have the mental energy to devote to socks. They take forever, and then you have to knit another one. Maybe once the academic year is over I'll try my hand at them again but not now. Which leaves...what?

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nobody knows nothing

(Yeah, I know the title is grammatically incorrect.)

I finished another dishcloth tonight, but I'll save it for Wednesday. I have something else to get out of my system.

For the last four years I've avoided watching television news as much as possible. The superficiality of it infuriates me. I know the channels have all that time to fill and need to put something on, but at best their information is equivalent to the empty calories in one's diet.

But, if you haven't heard, this is a Presidential election year, and I am drawn to the news despite my misgivings about it. I'm beyond sick of the primaries, but I was curious to find out what today's returns were like. And so I tuned in to a cable news channel to get the skinny.

The catch is that there's limited news to report. Most of the time is filled with pundit and anchor speculation and the spin of politicians and their surrogates. It's spectacular stuff--and not in a good way. Listening to the frequently irresponsible prattling is enough to make me start bleeding from my eyes and ears. (OK, not really, but if you've watched it for any length of time, you know how crazy it can make you.) It isn't journalism, just glorified bull sessions with so-called experts trying to push their agendas and entertain.

And yet I've had a hard time looking away from it, in part because it appears that this stretch of the election season may finally be coming to a close. I'm repulsed by how the information is being transmitted, yet I've spent a few hours tonight consuming it anyway. (It's not like my worst-in-the majors Reds gave me much of a viewing alternative.) I don't know how people watch the news without feeling insulted or going mad. I'll ride it out the rest of tonight, but TV news and I are going to need another nice long separation again.

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Monday, May 05, 2008


Since I've seen the light and switched to using a center pull, I haven't encountered the problem that bedeviled me in my early knitter days: knots. I must have been overdue because tonight I had a clump to untie to continue knitting.

One of the problems was having two ends from the center on the outside of the ball. They were winding themselves around each other and making the situation worse the longer I knitted. Finally I'd had enough and went about the tedious work of untangling the mess. There's probably some allegorical value in mentioning how I was committed to undoing the knots and making everything right again, but I'll just leave it at surface level.

Eventually I had to bring out the scissors and cut the yarn because there was a knot that someone had already tied in the middle of it all. Thanks manufacturers! I don't know how long it took, but I got it all sorted out and could knit again. I have a small amount of yarn from the middle that I've wrapped and another end coming out of the middle that I'm knitting with. It appears that the strands are going to knot again at some point. So it goes. I'll do what I can to resolve it.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Arrested development

My employer's student activities office purchased some concert tickets that they made available at more than fifty percent off to pupils. Whether it was the cost or the band, the students didn't bite on the offer. The bargain was then opened up to the rest of the campus community. I was more than happy to relieve them of a pair. (Unlike all the other concerts I've been attending, this is a group you've heard of, meaning I was able to find a friend interested in tagging along for once.)

So, tonight I attended the reunion tour of The Police. They played pretty much all the hits one would expect as well as a few surprises from the catalog. (The only absent hit that occurs to me is "Spirits in the Material World".) Opener "Bring On the Night" made for a nice, mellow beginning. Many songs were reworked from their album versions, with "Wrapped Around Your Finger" standing out. "When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around" featured a blazing Andy Summers guitar solo.

Make no mistake about it; this was a nostalgia show. Still, the band was tight, and yes, Sting looked buff. If this is a onetime reunion swing for The Police, they've done it properly. All three original members worked toward putting on a good performance. The set was a little shorter for what I would have expected if I'd paid the face value of the tickets--they played around 100 minutes, give or take some minutes for breaks for their three "encores"--but I have no quibbles with the setlist or their effort.

And let's not forget Elvis Costello and The Imposters chipped in a sparkling fifty-minute opening set. I'm not as familiar with the depth of his catalog--for shame, I know--but the unfamiliar stuff sounded good, even if it lacked some of the brashness I associate with the early days of his career. He wrapped with "Radio, Radio", "Pump It Up", and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?", singles I would call hits except they never charted in the U.S. He didn't play "Veronica", his biggest hit in America, but he did play another well-known song with a woman's name ("Alison").

Random thoughts during the concert... Wow, both of these artists had their fair share of hits regardless of Billboard charts. (That exception holds true more for critic's favorite Costello than the chart-topping Police.) As someone currently absorbed playing Guitar Hero III (and otherwise ignorant of how to play the instrument), I really appreciated the skill the guitarists displayed tonight. Did it really take me this long to realize that the Ghost in the Machine cover features stylized LED versions of the band member's faces and not Japanese characters?

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

An off day

I've been looking forward to this weekend and the chance it presents to slow down from the hectic pace of late. A rainy Saturday is good for that. I opened the sliding door on the west side of my apartment and let in the cool air. As I drifted into and out of an afternoon nap I listened to the wind blow through the trees and rain fall gently. The Canadian geese honked their songs while the smaller birds chirped.

For a much greater portion of the evening than I care to admit I played online against two of my brothers in Mario Kart Wii. Ah, the joy of beating siblings hundreds of miles away. I didn't win every time, just enough to rub it in.

There is knitting and writing to be done, but that will be for another day. Today was all about turning off the brain and recharging my batteries.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Knitting survival kit

This catching up week came down to a catching up day at the movies. I crammed in three films at two theaters and got out in time to find myself facing evening rush hour. With my regular commute, I usually don't have to drive in anything too aggravating, but today I was on the wrong side of the city. Essentially I was getting in at the back of the line and crawling the rest of the way.

I wasn't able to get in the backed up line to switch interstates, so I kept driving forward and took the long way that would require backtracking. Then I saw an exit approaching and decided that rather than going out of my way and still likely sitting in highway traffic, I'd get off and pop into a local yarn shop for some knitting.

I don't always carry projects with me, but I happened to have the first ballband dishcloth I cast on (but which was placed aside for my Illinois knitting). I made my way to the place in Grandview with the intention of knitting for a half hour or so to wait out the rest of rush hour.

The idea was a good one even if it didn't work out. I pulled into the parking lot about five minutes before the LYS was closing. (I didn't know its hours of operation, for what it's worth.) I might have looked for a place to knit outside in the area, but with the rain and my desire to get home, I headed back toward the interstate. This misguided trip killed enough time that traffic had thinned and I could take a more direct route home.

Still, it's situations like this which make toting one's knitting worthwhile. I may be a little more selective than most about where I'll knit--you know, that whole secret thing--but having needles and yarn can be a great way of biding one's time when the circumstances demand a need to wait unexpectedly. Do you having your knitting ready for such emergencies, and what are musts for your survival kit?

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Clean-up duty

Ballband Dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Colors: Bright Navy and Hot Orange
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 45

April produced just one FO, but early on the first day of May I finished this beauty. I aimed for University of Illinois colors since I began knitting this while in Champaign-Urbana. It seemed like the thing to do. Although this isn't a color combination I would ordinarily use, I'm fond of how these colors work together in the dishcloth.

This was a nice starter project for working with two colors at once. It doesn't seem like the technique should work but it does. Yes, I'm easily impressed, but I'm now able to believe I might be able to knit things with colorwork that I've figured is beyond my limited capabilities. I think I'll sit back and admire this one a little longer.

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