Monday, November 28, 2011

Thesis is done: Defense is not

Had I known what I know now, 6 months ago, I probably would have done things differently.

Unfortunately, 6 months ago I hadn't known I needed to write a thesis.

Had I known what I know now, 2 months ago, I would have been a lot less stressed out, and I would have defended on the 21st, not the 1st.

Unfortunately, the tightest scrutiny seems to come at the most inconvenient time to fix it.

When I am put to the test, it will not include everything that I learned, and was trying to master in the past year. And I was really disappointed this Wednesday, when I finally managed to send out my document to my committee. I was somewhere between livid, tearful and exhausted. I had so much work to do, I could not procrastinate at all. I can now believe when people say that their thesis is not their best piece of work. I know everything that I wanted to do, but ran out of time to finish. Don't get me wrong, the document is great, and I am proud of what is there, but I am pissed about what is not there.

I got to recharge this weekend, collected my last bridesmaid (the count is 5), had adult conversations with members of my extended family, and watched a lot of TV.

I don't normally watch TV, but my family does. When I was in high school I would watch West Wing with my parents, and that was it. When I made it to college I didn't watch anymore, and at this point I don't own a TV. The DVD collection is quite large, but that is the end of it. Sometimes this results in less small talk, on the other hand, it results in far more time to do things I want to do, or waste time on the internet . . .

It has been a slow week for fractals (note title)

I made one for the challenge this week, and that was it. I don't like 3D fractals, maybe because I haven't learned how to properly make them. The idea is interesting, but I am less interested in traveling the learning curve on this one (right now). I didn't add many bells and whistles, it is bare bones, but sometimes that is a good combination for a tutorial challenge.

On the knitting front, I managed to use the sock-u-lator to successfully cast on the right number of stitches, and at least the leg fits my grandpa. At this point I am on the long haul of the foot. Supposedly this is going to be 11.5 inches long, and I think I have around 8 done. He was bragging to his sister, an ex-knitter, about it, so I believe he has proven most knit worthy.

The shawl project is on hiatus, at least until the socks are done. I don't know if I am considering the socks to be a Christmas present or not. I wanted to finish them before my grandpa went back to Florida, which I believe is the 29th of December. It should be totally do-able. A lot of knitters this time of the year are completely freaking out about the projects they are working on as gifts. Until my grandpa had remembered my offer to knit him socks, I wasn't planning on making anything for anybody. Why stress out about making too many things for too many people? Why bother when the things I make are met with a lukewarm reception? I think I prefer my projects to be an as-needed, as-requested sort of affair. I will happily make things, but on my own schedule, and only because they are needed/wanted/appreciated.

I have a couple more things that are on my mind, but this post is full enough. I'll have to make separate posts later.

Take care guys,

Molly : )

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thesis Death March

Ok, it's fine.

I just really like the sound of the title, the situation is not a death march, more like a stumble across the finish line of a marathon.

Actually my shawl is also turning into a marathon too. I have a long way to go. Don't let the epic star wars shot fool you, this puppy is a long way from being done.

Perhaps the people that I have been talking to lately are sick of me complaining about how I am not to square yet. What is square you ask? When the length is about equal to the width.

 Where was I when I took these pictures? Eh, about 13 by 20. I should have used the size 4 needles, since this is supposed to block out to 26 inches, and this all pinned out is not that wide.

 But look! Pretty variegated yarn, pump little nupps, and whoops, this picture is the one where I made a mistake across the entire row of the chart

Oddly, the macro feature on the camera does not work so hot when the flash is off. Even with the flash off, this is not the actual color of the yarn. Imagine it is more blue.

I am still rendering fractals. This one made the cut as my new desktop background at work. Sometimes it just works out that the only way to make a fractal really sing is to put it on a white background. The black in the gradient really highlights the fractal in this one.
The apo challenge this week is really hard. Red background. Red does not like to play nice with other colors, most gradients just clash horribly.
 This is the one I decided to submit. There is actually a Gaussian blur in the center that gives everything a grey/black cast, which makes it so the red isn't so vibrant and over powering.

That's all for now, aside from I have an equation that 2272 pages of a word document. Be afraid, very afraid.

Take Care

Molly : )

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nice Guys Finish Last

I'm listening to Green Day today, because I am running out of gas, and the need for upbeat music seems to be pretty important.

Tempo keeps me moving, they are one of my favorite bands so it makes me happy, and frankly they are the most pop band I listen to. I am also drinking Mt. Dew, which is probably the pop which is most like Green Day. Sugar high while caffeinated, wheeee!

I am trying really hard to finish, but obviously, I feel I am really far from being done. I have just been so exhausted that I have been having a really hard time sitting down and doing work that requires that I think. The weekends have not been a chance to rest, because I have been working as much on Saturday or Sunday as I normally do on weekdays. I have been reluctant to say it is impossible though. More experimentation is needed before that conclusion can be made, where experiments really mean fitting the model to the experiments. Obviously my own understanding is crucial to me finishing, and unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to grok this particular problem.

I got to try a genuinely new restaurant today. The problem with being near campus is that nearly all of the restaurants are counter service, sorta cheap, and I have been to all of them 50-bajillion times already. There is one place that I go happily every week. and the one time I got bad service they gave me cheesecake, and I knew it wouldn't happen again because I had previously had 70-100 good experiences. The new place serves chilli, had really friendly staff, a good price (cheaper than where I was originally walking to) and the food was completely different than anything else available within walking distance of my office. I will go back, and that makes me glad that I can have something new.

In an effort to keep ticking, I've made a lot of fractals. I think of it as an backlash to all of this dry technical stuff that I have been doing. I become really creative and artistic, as if I am seeking balance.
Obviously procrastination is bad, however I've got to take time to feed the soul, and there is nothing like a fractal with a wild gradient to fill me up. I have two more that need to finish rendering. I really badly hope I won't be around for when the one rendering now is done. Obviously I only have some control over that matter.

I am working on a really long project so I don't have much to update knitting-wise. It gets carried around everywhere, but I don't have just time to knit. But fractals on the other hand can go on in the background all day long. I have also been writing more story. I might need to go back a rework some things. It seems like the way some events happen requires the reader to suspend disbelief. The previous way was more believable. I might keep some of the conversations the characters had though, they were fun.

That's all for now,
take care guys,

Molly : )

Friday, November 11, 2011


For some reason dates like these really appeal to me, and today is the last time in a long time that we will see such a pleasing date, and after a year with several good ones already, 1-1-11, 1-11-11, and 11-1-11, it is sad to see the end of it. We're missing out for another 11 years until 2-2-22 or something like it rolls around.

I am still alive, just really seriously busy finishing up, editing, and pulling my hair.

I leave you with a butterfly. It is bright and happy : )

Take care,
Molly : )

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Crazy Pair of Socks

I succeeded in following a pattern written in a different language

Though I am not a newcomer to making crap up as I go, I'm pretty proud that I managed to work through the garbled mess that came out of google translate.

Since I do not want to write like the American doctrine of "prmp knit 1, knit 1 YO, knit the first .. 'so, to some extent guide in general terms, which is expected to make much can still interested.
So, let's start from the heel socks!
First Cast on 12 stitches for 4 people, and share them with the rod. Commencement of a permanent piece of yarn could be so long that it can later be pulled together a hole in the center.
2nd With four stitches in the same needle and knit the heel of some of the following schedules. I took a series of early Ƶhksilmuse needle from front to back and front to back direction of the rod end. YO carried out in accordance with the next row knit into back of loop divergent, that the story would be nicely symmetrical.

If you want to be running in front of and behind the "seams" would silmuselised 1 (see previous post of socks), leave the rod at the beginning of each loop and proceed directly to the first stocking YO.
Even if you are fluent in knitting patterns this is not a clean transfer of information.

But it didn't stop me, and I am really happy that I figured it out and made it work.

I dug something out from my baby knitter days. No one told me intarsia was hard. So I made a chart and knit a swatch of maple leaves

This is full of loose ends, intarsia or fair isle where ever it was convenient. After finishing this swatch I found out about how knit stitches are not square but really 3 wide to 4 tall, so I made a new distorted chart and made a Maple Slayer scarf, knit flat, seamed up the sides, with the words maple slayer going up the sides.

I may be many things, but a timid knitter is not one of them.
 My next challenge is to knit a pair of colorwork men's socks, blind. I plan on using the Sock-u-lator, and hoping that my luck holds. It isn't that I am math adverse, more-so that since my grandpa is in Florida and I don't know how many stitches to cast on. I might need to do a gauge swatch . . .
I swear this becomes like liquid crack for pasta. I haven't made it for months, and now that life is calming down, I'm starting to feel like cooking. Go buy How to Cook Everything and then make ragu. That is a quadruple batch, and this is the most disgusting part. That is 4 lb of raw hamburger and ground pork.

I think that's all for now.

Take care,

Molly : )

Saturday, November 5, 2011

4 more years!

Good news! My department accepted my application to be in the PhD program, so tentative has changed to a sure thing : )

The dear sweet lovable one joked that he should break out into the chant "4 more years!" be he couldn't muster the enthusiasm. So while it is happy that I don't need to leave the school to get my PhD, I still need to get my PhD, which isn't going to be a walk through a field of daisies.

I have been in the office a lot a lot a lot lately in a push to finish my thesis. I have been writing blog as a way to balance the right half brain, and the left half brain. So boring dry thesis in academese speak in return for something maybe more conversational. Part of the problem is finding pictures, because I am a true believer in pictures making for better blogs, but not much has been picture worthy.
Fractals are a good stand by since I tend to make quite a few. They are bright and happy, and the challenge for this week was one that had really strong geometric shapes. the pie transform works in a very similar way to blur, so I was able to create a blur smear which actually had the pie shape to it. I had a lot of fun naming the fractals this week, fools rush in, send in the clowns, tomfoolery, banana cream pie. For some reason I have clowns on the brain.

Last night I did some writing, probably for later than I should have since I needed the sleep. I've never participated in National Novel Writing Month. I just write when I feel like it. I've written one novel, that I have never tried to publish, and I am working on another idea that I came up with after reading Terry Pratchett, and being bored at lunch back in 2006. It is a man vs. self plot, and it may or may not be in the universe I set my first novel in.

I have been having trouble working on it for two big reasons. 1.) I'm really really busy, and when I have free time I spend it reading or knitting, or sleeping. 2.) I think engineering school has made me worse at writing. When I read a lot I need to write a lot because that is how I digest what I have read, but I have been really frustrated because I have a clear picture in my head what is going on, but I can't seem to get it down on paper. I toyed with the idea of turning it into a comic, but it appears that my drawing skills are in fact much worse than my writing skills. When I try to draw the same thing three times, it comes out as 3 different things. I have always had an easier time writing dialog than writing descriptions, because I don't know where to stop. I know too much scene painting drags the plot, but when I have other people read it, there is a lot of missing information. The idea was to get better at drawing, then I could show what I saw, and only need to write what they say or think.

I have found that writing blog posts is a good way to practice writing, without the pressure of it being good for a story, but I don't know if it will ever address the problem of being able to describe what fictional thing I see in my head, but it does give me practice.

I don't feel comfortable posting pictures that I have drawn, yet. Every so often I make something that impresses me, but I haven't scanned them. I probably should just so I can see that I am getting better, and I am learning.

That's all for now, take care

Molly : )

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Estonian Heel Socks

Unfortunately I could not really retain the voice of the author when I used google translate to try to figure out the pattern instructions. Some things I just flat out guessed on. Other things I changed because of my experience with a very similar pattern, skew.

In terms of construction, you start at the heel, knit in the round until the diagonal points of the square can touch when you put the heel on. You knit the foot until the bottom reaches your toe, then you decrease like a hat. Break the yarn, knit the leg, optionally do shortrows to level the sock, knit some ribbing, and start the next sock.

In terms of adjustment, if any part of this sock fits, it should be perfect in the heel/ankle region. Don't stop knitting until you have a good fit there, even if it is way more stitches that you think is reasonable. The measurement on my sock was literally 4.5 inches from the center to the diagonal point, which is the 9 inches around my foot from ankle to heel, no negative ease.

If the right number of stitches for the heel, is the wrong number for your leg and.or foot, employ an every 4 round strategy to increase or decrease.

I had too many, so I would do
r1: k1, k2tog, k to 1 before middle, m1, k1, k1, m1, k to 3 before beginning, ssk, k1
r2: knit all
r3: k1, k2tog, k to 3 before beginning ssk k1.
r4: knit all

If you had too few stitches:
r1: k1, k2tog, k to 1 before middle, m1, k1, k1, m1, k to 3 before beginning, ssk, k1
r2: knit all
r3: k to 1 before middle  m1, k1, k1 m1 k to the beginning
r4: knit all

The 4 rounds keeps the sock in the bias pattern while giving you the the control you want on stitch count.

I had 78-82 stitches after the heel, and I decreased to 72 for the foot and leg, which was what skew called for and fit my leg and foot really well.
Maybe you've made a star toe before, I hadn't and certainly not on a bias knit sock. My foot is 9 in long, and I started the toe decreases at 8 inches. It fits good. That was the big unknown because the translation was really badly garbled at the toe part.

1.) I used Judy's Magic cast on for 12, and put 3 stitches on each of my DPN's this is one pattern where the divide by 4 scheme works perfectly, but you could use markers and circular needles if you prefer. The original author did long tail cast on, then seamed the hole at the end. (Original pattern predates JMCO, just saying)

2.) I knit a row to get everything started, then I started following the chart. It might actually be easier to follow written out though.
increase row, plain row, 3 times
increase row, 2 plain rows, 3 times
increase row, 3 plain rows, 4 times
increase row, 2 plain rows, 3 times
increase row, plain row, until it is big enough.

In an increase row, I did k1, m1, k to one before the end of the needle/marker, m1 k1. The original author did left leaning YO at the beginning, and right leaning YO at the end, and knit those through the back of the loop on the plain row after. Either should be fine. I never thought ktbl really closed YO well enough for me.

3.) Leave the live stitches for the leg alone, and start knitting in the round. See the notes about increases or decreases. At this point I switched to 2 circs, because I only own 2 circs and 4 DPNs in size 1. If you find you have the perfect number of stitches, then the pattern is just a 2 row repeat of row 1 and row 2. Measure and try on frequently. Repeat until the bottom of the foot edge, to the cast on measures 1 inch less than your foot (big toe to heel).

4.) For all you hat knitters, this is your standard decrease. Divide stitches by 10, if you have a remainder, decrease them away in the first round. Round 1 *K8, k2tog*, Round 2, k, then *k7 k2tog*, then knit all, *k6 k2tog*,  then knit all. I got antsy at this point, and then had all rounds be decrease rounds. Perhaps an over reaction. basically you knit until 1 before the decrease, then knit them together. Once you have 4-5 stitches left, break yarn, take a needle, and pass it through the live stitches. Pull it tight, and you should have a neat finish.

5.) Now, go back to the leg stitches, join the yarn at the top of the foot, with enough of a tail to close the inevitable hole from the join. Do sets of increase rounds or decrease rounds until you are happy with your stitch count, then repeat rows 1 and 2 until you feel the sock is long enough for you in the back.

6.) Short rows:
Knit to the 2 stitches before the back of the sock, turn work. With wrong side facing, slip the last worked stitch, purl back toward the beginning. 3 before the beginning, p2tog, p1.
Continue on wrong side, purling to 2 before the back. Turn work, with right side facing slip last worked stitch, k3 to 3 before the beginning, ssk k1.

From here, a pattern will emerge. 2 stitches before the gap from slipping, turn work, slip the last worked stitch and head back toward the beginning. 3 before the beginning, work a decrease. Every round you exclude 4 stitches, and reduce the remainder by 2. Eventually you will run out of room to decrease. If you want more hand holding, skew has a row by row breakdown.

To bring the stitch count back up to your preferred number, k2, then make 1 out of the slipped stitch, depending on whether it is the right side or the left side of the sock you will change what direction the stitch leans. Repeat this until you are back to the beginning of the round.

7.)  From here you can start your favorite ribbing. I used k2p2, the original author did ktbl p1. I did 1 1/2 inches of ribbing, then bound off using the super stretchy bind off in pattern. If you like a standard bindoff, pick up some needles 2 sizes larger than normal and bind off with those.

8.) Weave in your ends, using the extra tail to close the hole on the top of the ankle. Cast on for the next sock : )

->Do shortrows on foot. Instead of step 4, start shortrow section (6) where you would normally start the toe, and do a normal toe after re-increasing the stitch count.
-> Don't do shortrows on leg, skip step 6, and do ribbing directly from slanted leg and then bind off.

"Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced." -Leo Tolstoy

Take care guys,

Molly : )