Sunday, October 31, 2010

Still Life with USB


My accountability picture for today. Yarn is Plymouth Encore Tweed in Denim. MP3 player is my faithful Sansa Clip for my audiobooks. I just finished listening to Ape House: a Novel while knitting and driving (not at the same time). It is an excellent book. Today's knitting accompanied an episode of A Touch of Frost, Season 6. Next up on audio is another mystery novel by Louise Penny--check my sidebar.
I spent most of yesterday with my son and his wife and daughter while he and my DIL worked on my car. I had sort of roped them into it, and I really appreciate their help. I am reasonably sure that I am going to need heat this winter, so I am really thankful for their kindness. I also got to spend some time with the youngest grandchild, so it was a win-win for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Accountability and Photos to Share

Warning: I am going to be boringly accountable on line for progress on the last two sweaters. That will keep me on task. I have cast on for my grandson's sweater, knitted the bottom ribbing, increased, and inserted the line of waste yarn to mark the spot for a Wallaby pocket on this non-Wallaby sweater. I decided that he had to have one when his cousins were so thrilled with theirs:




Please note that the above photograph is a personal snapshot made by me on the spur-of-the-moment. Oldest granddaughter. Wallaby is extra long to wear with leggings; sleeves are long because she is growing rapidly.
The next photo is of her younger sister. It is by a professional photographer. Ditto the information on the sizing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Casting On!

Yesterday was swatch day and math day for the sweater I'm knitting for my grandson. The plans so far:
  • Bottom-up seamless construction a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. Right now, I'm planning to make the top with the saddle-shoulder construction. I wanted to go for the seamless hybrid, but I decided I should knit this kind first.
  • Kids like pockets, so I'm knitting in a front pocket a la Wonderful Wallaby.
  • The hems of the sweater and the arms will be ribbed. I wanted to do a turned hem, but I do not have the child available for fitting, and ribbing gives more adjustability and grow room. I am combination knitting the ribbing, just as I learned in my recent class from Annie Modesitt.
  • Ribbed crew neck.
  • Knitted from Plymouth Encore Tweed in Denim. I was planning to do a couple of rows in a navy tweed on all the ribbing. I tried it. The navy was slightly heavier and did not look good--it made the ribbing ruffle a bit.

Pictures will follow as soon as there is progress to something memorable enough to photograph.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wide Awake Pillowcases


A pair of owl pillowcases for an owl lover. Fabric is A Touch of Whimsy II from Tennessee Quilts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Finished, Finally!

This particular Wonderful Wallaby turned into a learning experience, mostly an experience in the perils of overconfidence. I did learn some other things, though.



First of all, I like the stretchiness of the garter stitch hood, particularly for children, but I've never been completely satisficed with the way garter stitch kitchener looks. After two attempts on this sweater, I tried a 3-needle bindoff. I think it looks much better. It blends in with the garter rows instead of making a wider furrow between.




I inserted cables into the decrease rows of the raglan:
This girl is getting so grown-up that her next sweater will have to be on a hanger to photograph. I could have tried for an outside picture, but there is blowing dirt and a 40 mph wind.



Yarn is Plymouth Encore, Mauvetone, from Webs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review

Actually, an audiobook review. I have been listening to an unbelieveable number of audiobooks while knitting and sewing and doing mindless household chores. Most of these are strictly entertainment. I have some really meaty books saved for spinning and knitting when I know that I can really concentrate on the book and its literary quality. This book, however, popped up as what I thought was going to be a touchy-feely sisters reconciled chick book:


All of the blurbs that I read ahead of time suggested that the focus of the book was the two adult sisters and their relationship, and that is indeed the framework for the story, but the background of Russia during the Stalin era and World War II and its effect on a woman with children and on her life after the war overshadows everything else. This book is not an easy listen, particularly if you are a mother, but it is worthwhile. The unabridged edition is over 14 hours, and I got mine from a library OverDrive account, so you can perhaps find it for free.
I will certainly be headed back to read more of this author's work.

Things Are Looking Up, Wallaby-wise

I have been struggling for a couple of weeks to finish a Wonderful Wallaby, a pattern that I've already made several times with no problem whatsoever. I have had to frog back four or five inches and detach and reattach the sleeves twice because of really stupid errors. Then I discovered another one--I was adding cables to the raglan decreases. Because of not thinking ahead properly, the last few inches of the cables had to be worked with half of them cabled from the purl side in order to match the two on the other side. That was slow and painful. In the end, though, I think they look ok. I am past that part and about halfway through the neck ribbing, with only the garter stitch hood to go. Unless I do something really stupid with that hood, I should be finished fairly quickly. Of course, I could repeat the same sort of stupid mistakes that I had on the sleeve/body froggings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Think I'm in Love

I really have to get my photography area set up again after the great plumbing redo. Yes, it is in the extra bathroom--great light, both artificial and natural and enough counter space. Photographing FOs on the computer keyboard is not exactly cutting it. If I were the artistic type, I would have hung these on the arms of the train crossing or something, but I just finished, and I'm tired.



These are the pillowcases for my grandson. Since he has a twin bed and will probably only use one at a time, I made them fraternal twins instead of matchy-matchy. The fabric on the left is In Motion--Trains; on the right, In Motion--Race Cars. The red is Pimatex Basics, Mini Dots. It is the stripe, however, with which I am in love. It is black and a slightly creamy white, the stripes are just a shade off from being uniform, as if they had been painted with a brush, and the feel of the fabric is wonderful. It makes you want to make a wardrobe for yourself and curtains or something just so you can feel it all the time. The name is Olivia Dreams Stripe, which I am assuming means that Olivia the Pig has something to do with this. I just need to make something else from this and check out the coordinating fabrics! All the fabrics came from Fabric.com.
I am still knitting away on the Wonderful Wallaby that has given me trouble. I can attest to the fact that Plymouth Encore is very durable yarn, enduring a number of froggings and tinkings without complaint. I hope to finish it this week so that I can begin number 3 of this set. I am using some of the combination knitting that I am learning from Annie Modesitt since I am now to the part of the sweater that is not in the round.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pillowcases #2


Pillowcases for another granddaughter for Christmas. The fabric is Make Believe Glitter Butterflies and Make Believe Glitter Stripes from Fabric.com and the yellow is a small bit that I picked up at Sisters' Scraps in Amarillo. I was unable to capture the glitter with the camera, but it is really sparkly, much like the girl that it is intended for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Memories Prompted by Logo

This design is the logo for the Campaign for Wool in the United Kingdom. Obviously, it is a sheep, but to me it evokes a completely different response, the "feel" of which probably was part of the intent of the designers.


My father attended business college in the 1920's. Among the skills required, in addition to bookkeeping and typewriting on those big black blocky cast metal manual machines, was penmanship. I searched references once, and I think the style was Spencerian, or a close cousin to it. He made futile attempts to teach me when I was in elementary school, but the lessons were undone by what was required in school. Of course, to achieve the proper effect, the writer has to use a fountain pen or dipped pen and ink, rather than pencil or ballpoint. Anyway, one of the features of this method was practices using those big sweeping movements to create designs. Most of my dad's were made of someones initials, or a single letter, or just big designs of loops. The sheep above, though, is certainly one of those kinds of designs. Today, I suppose we would call it calligraphy. It was nice to be reminded of my dad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Thoughts--Sony v. Kindle

Thanks be to God for his mercy in the rescue of the Chilean miners. It has been a joy to watch humanity at its best, as well.


First of all, let me say that I am not a power user of my Kindle 2. I use it for reading. I have not yet used the speech to text feature, but I plan to. I love the provided screensavers, so I certainly am not trying to hack in to change them. What I am comparing here, after a few months of Kindle 2 use and a few days of Sony use, is the reading experience.


Similarities: The screens are similar--no surprise, same technology, same company. The Kindle is a little larger, but I did buy the Pocket Sony, so that's to be expected.



Differences: Weight--the Sony feels much heavier in my hand. The feel is heavier than the Kindle in its padded case. Of course, neither one is so heavy that I feel as if I'm holding a hardback.


Controls: I rather like the numbered buttons down the side of the Sony for menu selection; however, their placement means that the only page turn control is center bottom. If you are like me, and you want to hold your reader one-handed, this is very unhandy. (Nice play on words, huh?) The Kindle has page turns down each side, so I can turn pages no matter which hand I am using. That also means that I'm holding a lightweight reader halfway down the side in a balanced fashion. The Sony button placement means that I'm holding a heavier reader from one end, which means it wants to tilt back.


Charging: I prefer charging my Kindle with AC because it is faster. The Sony included only a USB option.


Wireless/Computer: Of course, I am getting Amazon books from the Whispernet almost instantly; Sony books come by the computer. This, however, is not a problem because that's what I bought the Sony for. What I did not expect is that I have to distinguish between EPUB books and .PDF books and only have one or the other loaded into my Reader at any one time. The forums all say it will mess up if I am not careful about this distinction. That is a pain, since my library source mixes the book types with any one author.


Light: I have a Mighty-Brite clip on light that I really like for my Kindle. I did manage to use it with the Sony, but there is not really enough frame to clip the light securely without blocking a little of the screen. I have ordered a Sony cover with light from Woot.com, so that should take care of this problem.


So far, I am fairly satisfied with both products.


Knitting projects--back to cables on the Wallaby. 1/2 hat on a loom.


NOTE: Please excuse the random paragraphing on my blog. I am not doing this; Blogger changes what I write.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Journey to the Dark Side


I really, really like my Kindle2, which, of course, I bought just before Kindle3s came out. That is fine with me because K2 does everything that I want to do. Except for one thing. I cannot use it for public library ebooks. When I bought the Kindle, that was not even a consideration because I did not have access to public library ebooks. However, then I read about the Free Library of Philadelphia on an audio book forum on Ravelry. I got a card for $15, which gave me access to loads and loads of OverDrive audio books and to ebooks in EPUB and Adobe PDF format. Many of these books are by authors that I like. Sony recently came out with their new Readers, so, cheapie that I am, I bought one of the old models, brand new, from ebay. It came yesterday. It is charged and loaded, but I have too much to do right now to sit to read. Today will be mostly an audiobook day so that I can knit or clean.
Why do I like both book formats? Knitting and driving and household tasks are one reason for audiobooks. Another is that some authors are just really good to listen to, either because the book has a very strong sense of voice or because the readers are so well-chosen that listening is a dramatic experience. Other books are too complicated to tackle by audio--too many characters, a plot that is too involved, and some may be read by poor readers. And, of course, a book that depends on anything at all visual in the way of secret symbols, maps, or drawings is a problem in audio. I do find that with classics that I have already read several times, listening calls attention to features that I missed when I read the book all by myself.
On the knitting front, it was a slow week. I did, however, advance on the Wallaby to the point of attaching the sleeves again. I was absolutely sure to have center front in the center this time! I also am working on my combination knitting skills with the Modesitt class. I am finding the class very helpful, particularly the online chat time with Annie. I also have another charity hat on the loom--this time the purple Knifty Knitter hat loom with the pegs closer together.
I drove back to Amarillo on Saturday to watch my grandson play in his last soccer game of the season. He did a good job, and I am reasonably sure that our team won even though no score is kept at his age. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a real park bench under a tree.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Christmas Project--1/4 completed


Fortunately, my grandchildren are still too young to get to my blog by themselves, so I can post Christmas projects as I complete them. These are pillowcases for my youngest granddaughter. She has a twin bed, so I made two different cases that can switch off. My own children used to enjoy character pillowcases that I made from fabric from the fabric mart. Those were just plain fabric tubes, stitched across one end, and then hemmed. I know we had Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and Popples, and I think some with cars and perhaps dinosaurs. Grandmothers have time to get a little fancier. These pillowcases are made from quilting cotton with prairie points. The fabrics are all from Princesses by Elizabeth Studio. I ordered them from Up, Up, and Away Quilts. The pattern is from allpeoplequilt.com.

Wallaby Update, a New Class, and Paper Questions, or A Random Monday Posting

First of all, I am back to the point of the last frogging on the Wallaby--still not all the way to finishing the body, but at least I've made some progress. Finally.



I am also treating myself to the Combination Knitting Class taught on-line by Annie Modesitt. The videos for the first class were quite informative, and they were in separate bits so that the student could mull over things before moving on. Here is my first swatch. Excuse the bad photography angle. I was in a hurry and didn't take time to set up a proper booth. The 20 rows nearest the camera are knit the way I usually knit--Western and English thrown. The top rows--above the paperclip--are also English, but knit in the combination style. I think the results are quite consistent. I can tell a tiny bit of texture difference when I hold it in the light a certain way, but I couldn't get that to photograph.









Last night I had the opportunity to chat with Annie on-line. It was quite a worthwhile experience. I also felt that I was chatting with something of a star. I am hoping that in this class I will learn some techniques that make purling easier for me physically and also improve the consistency of my tension.

Paper mysteries. I know that we are all concerned about being as green as possible. However, I bought some toilet paper--not a major brand, but a common one that I have used in the past. It is 2-ply. Each ply is thinner than tissue paper of any sort. I think it is almost transparent. Furthermore, the two plies do not adhere to each other in any way. That makes it hard to unroll and tear off. I am convinced that we will use more paper this way than we would have used with a more luxurious brand.

Second paper mystery. My husband and I are dealing with a government agency arranging some details of our retirement. We did this on-line in order to save gasoline and paper. The process was involved. We then got a telephone call assuring us that some questions were being taken care of. This weekend, we got a letter in the mail. First of all, I almost threw it away because it looked like junk mail. The envelope is gray, it is not a standard business size for correspondence, and the return address is not printed the same way as in other correspondence from this agency. Indeed the left margin of the return address is not justified and the spacing between the lines is uneven. Inside are 2 sheets of paper. The agency receives a plus for printing on the back so there would not be 3 sheets. However, the paper is a non-standard size. Furthermore, at least half of the second page directs me to do something that we have already done on-line. Considering that this is an agency that is constantly under fire for being "out of money," I have to wonder why they did not communicate with me by computer for this information, which I must answer by computer, and why they went to the expense of odd sizes of envelopes and paper, which in the usual nature of things, must be more expensive than the standard supplies. Furthermore, I wonder how many of these get tossed because they do not look like an official communication. Perhaps the government made the same error I did with the toilet paper. Nevertheless, I think I'm going to check out this communication by telephone before going to the site and doing what it says. I want something that looks more legitimate.


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Frustration and Color Therapy

I made a mistake on the Wallaby and had to frog again! In my haste to catch up to where I was before I ripped out, I knitted very rapidly up the body of the sweater, and I evidently did not slide a completed stitch all the way off the left needle and picked up the bar as the next stitch, thus creating an extra vertical row of stitches with a little hole at the bottom. This would have been an easy correction--I've done it before--if I hadn't knitted 3 inches before I noticed it. I dropped the stitches out, but no matter how I pulled and fluffed, I could not get the existing knitting to rearrange itself to fill the gap. Three inches was simply too much. In desperation, I unscrewed the needle tips, put on the little cable end caps, and ran the half-completed sweater body through the handwash cycle on the washing machine. That's the acrylic blend version of "surely it will block out." It didn't, at least not completely enough to be satisfactory. Tomorrow, when I am sure the sweater is completely dry, I will frog back yet again.
Meanwhile, I knitted another hat and worked on a Christmas sewing project. I am having fun being a little experimental with yarns for the hats. Each hat requires a double strand of yarn, and I am using leftovers. Here's an example of color. The hat on the left is one that I had already posted, knitted from Plymouth Encore Colorspun. On the right, I used the remnant of the Colorspun and a solid navy. Very different effects from the orangey blend.

The Christmas project involves some quilting-type patchwork piecing although no actual quilting is involved. I am attending the quilting group once a month, but I probably will not start an actual quilt of any sort until January because I simply have too many Christmas projects going right now. Anyway, I've always had trouble trying to rotary cut much of anything because my ruler always slid around. I did learn at the class that there are things that stick on your ruler to stop the sliding. The recommended brand was a clear film that goes on the back of the ruler, but locally I was able to find some little stick-on sandpapery dots that do the same thing. My first step on this item was to cut 40 3" squares of cotton, fold them into triangles, steam-press, and fold into smaller triangles to make prairie points. That is as far as I have gotten.