Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not eaten by cougars, a knitting picture explosion!

Happily, the dear sweet lovable one was not mauled by cougars, or frozen by the snow camping trip. Since he got back I got to take lots of lovely pictures to share with you guys about all the things I did last week when I was not doing my homework.

Rhodion is finally complete. It has come a long way since October, when I had to concentrate fully to complete a single row a night, to having memorized the pattern repeat, and banging out half a repeat an hour. It was my first project using lace weight yarn, and perhaps it wasn't wise to do a knitted lace project with cables right out of the starting gate.

In hindsight, I should have made it smaller. It is a bit like wearing a toga.

No really, like a toga.

I didn't learn until after I had done 2 extra repeats, that the optimal shawl length is your wingspan. I suppose I intuitively understood this, since I would make scarves a foot longer than my wingspan, but this puppy is at least 6 feet long.

I am so happy it is finished, since I don't like having many projects going on at once. And this took so long, because I kept casting it aside. It is easy to ignore a project when it takes so much effort to complete. Once I got past the 'never going to be done stage', I had to get past the 'what? I need repeat everything I did' stage, and then I entered the 'it needs to be done now' stage, which resulted in me dropping all other projects to just finish it.

I got around to overdyeing the cobweb merino cashmere lace last week. I wish I had a camera since it would have helped with troubleshooting. I set up my 2 stools approximately 8 feet apart and unwound the ball into a skein. I used some leftover cotton sport weight to tie it up. I used the ends of the cobweb for 2 places, and 4 scraps. The key to not tangling is weaving it in and out of the skein.

I soaked the yarn in vinegar and water, then I took that liquid and heated it up to 185 F dumped in a small squeeze bottle of yellow, and put about a quarter of the yarn in. 20-30 minutes later I added some green drops, then a lot of green since it was a puke olive color. I then put another quarter of the yarn in the pot. Another 20-30 minutes later, I transferred the dyed yarn to a small pot of hot water, added more green, and put in the next quarter, 20-30 minutes later I added dissolved blue gel and the rest of the yarn. I then put all of the yarn back into the small pot, dumped the rest of the green bottle in, added some more vinegar, stirred and put all of the yarn together, and let it stew at 185 for an hour.

Now comes the mystery, I rinsed and it was clear, I added soap, specifically Eucalan no rinse wool wash, and suddenly it appeared that a leprechaun had bled to death in my sink. I went back, put the yarn in the small pot, brought it back to 185 F and let it stew for an hour, with some extra vinegar. I then left it in the pot overnight.

There are a couple of theories
1.) too much dye
2.) not enough acidity, vinegar to water ratio was off
3.) There was oil in the yarn that prevented the dye from bonding.
4.) The thermometer is broken.

I had the same clear rinse to bleed city after the second setting. So I spun it dry in the washing machine, let it sit out on the stools for a day, then very carefully caked it up. It no longer has the kelly green tones I was looking for, but it is still a fetching pastel green with hints of teal and spring.

And for comparison purposes, the before shot.
I really like how semi-solid it turned out, and since it will become a shawl, I'm just going to ignore the fact that is is bleeding still. I might microwave the finished object.

What am I working on now? Two things, the bridesmaid shawl project, and the sock knitters unusual sockitecture KAL sock. Even as I post these I know the photos are dated.

The diantha #3 is the at home project, because beads are too fiddly for in class knitting. If it seems like time is getting tight for diantha #5, I might need to bring it as my carry around project, since the middle lace section is portable. Just the first rows and the short rows have beads. I might also need to re-wind my skein, since the lace was the first center pull ball I made by hand, and it was pretty tight.

This was taken Monday night, I think by Tuesday I was halfway through the chart, so I am just cruising on this project (and I need to).

I also took the time to show how I add beads. As an electrical engineer (when I feel like it, most days I plead I am a mechanical one), I happen to have scads of resistors laying around the apartment. So I documented my bead placing process.
1.) Latch bent end of resistor on one leg the the stitch getting a bead.
 2.) Pull stitch off needle with the resistor, and slip a bead down onto the stitch
 3.) Pull stitch back onto needle with the resistor. Unhook the resistor, set aside for the next beaded stitch

 4.) Knit (or in this case purl) the beaded stitch
5.) Ta Da! Now a bead is worked into your knitting : D
Hopefully I will be finishing my carry around project soon. I don't have as many photos, but I think I started the 8th of 10 cables on the leg, and then it is just 1x1 ktlb purl ribbing until I run out of yarn.

The left sock is already completed.
The right sock is in an earlier stage of completion. I took a couple of photos to illustrate the unusual construction, since the heel flap is knit sideways to get the interesting cable pattern.

The vertical needle on the inner ankle is eventually joined using a 3 needle bindoff, and the flap is worked back and forth on the 18 stitches on the vertical needle on the outer ankle, where one bottom stitch is worked for every 2 rows of flap.

And with that I think I have exhausted my blog material for the day. I suspect I will be finished with the socks before Monday, and I will be in shortrow land on the shawl sometime this weekend too. I have an extra knitting hour since one of my classes is doubling up on Friday.

Take care guys,
Molly : )

A state of unfocused focus

Gah! I had to come into work Saturday. So I am cultivating a state of unfocused focus. Whenever I want to tool around on the internet, I write a little and then get back to work. Mostly this sorry state of affairs arose from not doing my homework when I went home, but reading a blog, knitting a shawl, dyeing yarn, and reading instead.

Alternatively, I could go for a walk around the building whenever I really don't want to do work. At least then I can enjoy the splendid spring weather. Apparently the kids are LARPing again. For some reason the allure of humans vs zombies overcomes the horror of role playing, in public. Or the nerds are taking over the planet, who can tell? Three circuits around the building is certainly a more pleasant way to get over homework apathy.

I really like the idea of working at home, but it never seems to happen the way I want it to. I have done a pretty good job of segregating work time from home time, though, this means I spend a lot of time at work.

Last semester I didn't take any classes. For the first time since kindergarten I did not have homework, or times when I needed to be in, or lectures I needed to listen to. Holy smokes, taking two classes was a rude awakening! I have really struggled this semester with getting the motivation to do my homework. I understand that it is important, and if I want to pass the class I need to practice, but it just feels like a giant waste of my time. Happily I only need to take three more classes. Two math classes and one more 600 level one, and I won't need to take another stupid class ever again. I am certainly barring some emergency never taking two at the same time. Two classes is more interruptions and guilt I don't need.

Take care guys,
Molly : )

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Like an Adult

Some days it is nice to remember that I am not a student, and that I am in fact a mature responsible adult. I can pay the rent, and mop the floors, and have intelligible conversations with people who are not engineers. Other days I just want to sleep in, leave early, wear t-shirts from Freshman year, and devil may care what I do.

I am hoping, now that the dear sweet lovable one is gainfully employed again, that I can start channeling the adult more than the student. Frankly, the student isn't getting the PhD finished, it is the adult.

There have been days where I have wondered if all of the good habits I had when I started have been replaced with dreadful bad habits. I documented my code, I filled in my lab notebook, I got into the office at 7-8 am, I set aside 1-2 days a week for all day experiments. I don't really want to talk about my bad habits. I just come home feeling drained, frustrated and stressed, because I did not move far enough forward, and I know that sticking around will not result in getting that little bit further.

There is a saying from one of my favorite books that is appropriate.

What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises - no matter the mood! Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It's not for fighting.
 It is probably time to re-read the series. I am in serious need of rejuvenation, and there is nothing like immersing yourself in a good book. This week has been good for rejuvenation as well. Lots of quiet time. I finished Rhodion! Yes, I should have gone to bed, but I was dead set on getting it off the needles. I will have pictures on Monday when the knitting blackout is over.

In other exciting news, the wollmeise for all seasons lace swap is going to be freaking epic. The mods have arranged to have Claudia dye 3 skeins of lace in colorways of the winner's choice. Any 3 colorways. So, it appears that socks are going to be taking a back seat to lace knitting. The wollmeise bender continues.

 Time to get to work.

Take care guys,
Molly : )

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Knitting Blackout

It is shaping up to be a lazy Sunday for me.

Should I do work? Emphatically yes, I skipped Friday.

Am I actually doing work? No, because I am writing a blog entry about not working.

Here is my fractal, Knot Working. Oh the puns!

I was planning on posting earlier this week to show off my finished shawl. Unfortunately it isn't stubbornly unfinished. This may be due to unrealistic knitting time expectations. I honestly thought I could do 2 pattern repeats on the drive back home, but I didn't even finish one. And I am currently ripping back to the end of that repeat because I managed to screw up the pattern at the joint Molly, Dear Sweet Lovable One (DSLO) birthday dinner.

The DSLO has taken the camera on a snow camping trip, which I am not attending because 1.) I like being warm, and 2.) I have work that needs to get done. So there won't be new knitting photos until he returns. I do have a couple of old knitting photos that I didn't get around to sharing though.

Yes, it appears that I am a little crazypants for thinking I could finish.

I have not worked on the socks because I need to get something off the needles before I embark on the next bridesmaid shawl.

I did make a fractal this week
 I might rename it out of box experience.

Well, that's all for now. Take care guys,

Molly : )

Monday, March 12, 2012

Evolution of a sock

Almost there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's the Story?

Data makes my little engineering heart go pitter patter, and my favorite thing is checking the stats on my blog.

#1 referring site: Ravelry
#1 page count: Estonian Heel Socks
#2 page count: (Tie) Thesis Death March and Knitting is not Art

I have almost 1000 views, (even numbers excite engineers too)! This is nothing in comparison to Deviant Art, which has 220,000 views, but I started my site back in 2005, which is like the dawn of time in internet years. I don't refer my blog to DA but maybe that is a good idea, to find people who are interested in the art things that I do.

One of the nice things about these stats is figuring out what it is that people like.

Knitting patterns and blog posts I explicitly link to in the course of discussions on ravelry.

What is it that I like?

Comments, having a place to put pictures online, writing a virtual newspaper column and being excited about the normal things in my life.

So, what is it that you like and want to see more of on my blog? (We both win! I get comments, and you get a better blog experience.)

I am getting the feeling that I want to update more frequently, because there is seldom ever nothing worth mentioning. It is a matter of taking a picture or 2 every day.

So, the reason why I am pondering, is because I found another blog to read, and I just like to read a blog from the very beginning. When the blog started back in 2002 and updates 5 days a week, this means a serious investment in time. There are a couple of fun things, like a monthly contest, question and answer, daily updates on projects, and acquisitions, and the occasional book review that interest me. No cat pictures, I have no cat, and the dear sweet lovable one is allergic to anything without scales. I can't keep plants alive, forget animals.

So in the interest of showing new things ; )

I finished my second Diantha. I'm making them as bridesmaid gifts, so I have 3 more to go. Here are a few pre-blocking pictures, to get a taste for how this version came together.

I did a few things differently. I made the medium(left), instead of the almost large(right), and I had a few less beads at the beginning. Since I did an i-cord bindoff, I didn't even need to pin the cast off edge. I just pinned the snot out of the border area. As you can see from the blocking photo, I also reblocked the original, because I fixed a couple of things. I had a problem where I knit in loops, which looked dreadful on the finished product. So I ripped out to the point in the shortrows where I made the mistake, and I am fairly happy.

My favorite part is the pearly beads I used. They pop far more than the iris ones. It is a very wearable shawl, and it is nice enough it will work for many situations.

Now I still have to finish my first lace weight project. haha. I have done several repeats since January (see the yellow lifeline)

I get 1/2 a repeat done in an hour of class. So, I will be keeping this as my carry around project, even though it is huge. 13 repeats would have been fine. Why did I think 15 would be better?
Are the artsy shots more interesting? I have been trying to be good about weighing and keeping track of yarn usage. I am more than halfway with the ball of yarn, and about 2/3 of the way through the pattern. It is tough gaining momentum on a project that is a little more than halfway done. Getting to halfway is so exciting, I got to use different charts! Then to turn around and go back to the one I memorized was lame. Now that only a 1/3 remains I can pick up some speed and get this finished. It will be soooo freaking huge. It is big before blocking.

I also started a pair of socks for the sock knitters KAL. The pattern is ornamental, and I am fully exercising knitters choice as I make it. I tried making a short row toe, in the first yarn, but it was awkward, so I did Judy's Magic Cast on, and did a normal toe, for me. Once I got to the cables, the yarn I was using was too variegated, so I switched to Wollmeise Twin, and size 0 needles, and I am halfway through the foot.

Before modeling the sock, I was sitting on my foot. Please ignore the lizard skin, I just indent easily. Imagine how lacy those socks are :D

So in the future . . .
 I see over dyeing this yarn, which I got in the LYS Christmas swap as a definite possibility. Maybe a gradient. Greens and blues and yellows are a possibility. It will be a royal pain in the ass to reskein, but that is what it will take to make it a color I love, instead of meh.

And I need to get cracking on the next Diantha. I won't start it until I finish the socks or the shawl. The beads make it hard to carry it around, so it is bike knitting or at home knitting.

In fractal news:
This was what I made for the fractal challenge.
This was more what was supposed to happen.
And this was just what I did to demonstrate to my friend what a super slick and easy way to make fractals looks like. He was impressed with how quickly my hands started moving to make this guy.

That's all for now : ) Don't forget to comment.

Molly : )