Sunday, April 29, 2012

House :D

Exciting news, the dear sweet lovable one and I bought a house this weekend. Last week we looked at this one, this Friday we looked at other houses in the same price range, and Saturday we went back to this one with our real estate agent, and we decided to make an offer. BAM! They accepted today, so this place, minus the furniture will be ours, provided the inspection is good.

I am excited because it is a nice place, he is excited because it is like the houses he has grown up in, and it has a massive huge garage. The picture of the garage does not do the garage justice.

We have been trying to disburse the information to everyone.who would care. If you pay attention to all of my knitting photos, you already know what everything in our current apartment looks like. It is small. The acquisition of 90 more gallons of fish tanks made it too small. And the prospect that I have 4-5 more years in this town makes a house a better buy than staying in an apartment.

Since we decided sort of spur of the moment to buy a house, (the first idea was the one across the street) we will be moving a few weeks before our wedding. It just turned out that our lease ran out on the 15th of June. So, there is a schedule on the white board, because life is going to be going completely crazypants. It might already be crazypants. I am a poor judge.


That is all for now, take care guys

Molly : )

Friday, April 27, 2012

Three Cheers for April!

Hurrah! I want to thank everyone who has dropped by my blog recently. I will have over 500 views this month! Frankly, since I am new to this blogging thing, I have no clue if that is insignificant, or a lot. I just like even numbers.
It seems like after a few months this has become more of a knitting blog, with occasional other things. My audience mostly comes from knitting. The search terms that lead to my blog are interesting. They must be pretty disappointed when they find me : )

On the fractal front, the weekly challenge was an interesting one : ) White background, only two variations, and the gradient had to be one of seven, which were only in black white and shades of grey. I'm going to use the gradients in the future, they are velvety and delightful.

I love how what looks really dark on the white is in fact bright on the black.

On the knitting front, I have a back!

Well, part of a back. Featherweight is a go. The top picture shows the delightful tonal nature of the yarn. Hopefully I can cruise some more on stockinette knitting. Since I joined for the arms yesterday, I need 8 1/2 more inches past he arm pit if I follow the pattern.

It appears it will fit perfectly after I get it washed and blocked. The only question is if I start the sleeves early, mostly just to know I am using enough yarn.

My next project, whenever that will be, is going to be Hexagons. I might start it in parallel since it is for the current KAL going on in Sock Knitters. I'm running it this time, and it is all about matching a difficult skein of yarn with a pattern that suits it. We have all had times where we screwed up tried to force some yarn to be something it wasn't. Spring Forward comes to mind, you can't see the lace, because the yarn was camouflage colored. Whoopsies.

So I am breaking out my Klapperstorch, since I was intending to make the dear sweet lovable one socks, but he wants to make sure they will fit him. He likes the look of them, but once bit twice shy. Whatever. Unusually constructed socks are not guaranteed to fit on his feet. I think the bright orange yarn will look great for him. He might have unwittingly pushed back the arrival of his socks a few months though.

Once the sweater is done I am starting my silk laminaria. It has been in waiting for months. It is my choice, and it will happen, and it will be amazing.

That's all for now, take care guys
Molly : )

Monday, April 23, 2012

Queen of Hearts

I figured out the HTML to make hearts. I can now spread love everywhere on the internet :D

Life has been busy, in the 'I don't have a lot of time to do fun things' way.

Don't you hate it when something comes up and you need to drop everything? This week I spent a lot of time studying for test, then took it, and in all odds failed it since 2 hours was not nearly enough time to finish it, then the professor assigned it as a take-home test, which is taking hours upon hours. The good news, I am totally acing this test now. The bad news, I needed to work on the project for the class too.

I have been trying to be good and work consistently on the project, but I realized today, that I need the results by the end of the weekend, so I can spend the rest of the week writing things up and polishing. It is hard to tell if that is reasonable or not.

On the fractal front, I am trying out a new technique for the fractal challenge this week.

I was really impressed with the quality of the tutorial, and the best part is that there is no possible way that anyone will make a carbon copy of this flame. It was much more about procedure and not about 'position this transform exactly here'.

The challenging part was the making it my own step. I decided to add stars by using radial blur, and I added some wires, but it seems like it takes away from the fractal. The next step is to sub one on the linear variations for something a little different and see how that tweaks it. In 2 hours I will see how it turns out.

All in all, it is sorta fun to take a break from the highly geometrical flames to make something soft, and detailed. By changing around a variation or two it is possible to make this style much more interesting than just clouds and nebulas.

On the knitting front I am proud to say I finally finished an ongoing project. Yep, I finally finished the last bridesmaid shawl this weekend. YEA!

 See, look at how happy I am, to see the end of this project of projects. Now everyone can have a navy blue keepsake, that is far easier to wear than a dress. I even wove in all of the ends after I took the picture. I guess I forgot the finishing step on most of them, whoops. I might re-block them before I given them away, because the first shawl is much smaller than the last shawl. I'm not sure.

I really hope they like the shawl. I am wearing mine today, and seeing as I am not the most fashion forward person ever, I am trying to rock the shawlette look anyways.

In celebration I swatched :D

I started featherweight, and I had to drop 2 needle sizes to make gauge. I didn't realize I was such a loose knitter. In desperation I was about to go to size 3, luckily it was a case where I was too impatient to wait for the swatch to dry. Once it was dry the gauge was spot on.

I am excited with how it is turning out, though the real test will be if everything fits right at the split for sleeves stage. The goal is to finish this before June 19th. Right now, I have no clue if that is realistic. It just means I have about 2 months to knit a sweater on size 4 needles. It took 5-6 weeks to do a sweater with size 5 needles. I am sure I'll figure something out.

In exciting life news, the dear sweet lovable one are getting married in 2 months! I hadn't really kept a countdown going, but now it seems like it is really happening. And less than 2 months from now we will be moving, somewhere. Either into a duplex, or in our own house! We are sorta running out of time, and we are negotiating about what it is we really want. It makes sense financially to buy a house. However we decided spur of the moment that we wanted to do this, which might have been a bit rash. We will make it work either way. The time for procrastination is over!

That's all for now, take care guys

Molly : )

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to Earth

Give me a moment, I need to step off the bully pulpit :D

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, we can go back to regular blog material.

I finally did it, I installed Apophysis on my work computer. 16 GB of RAM, and 8 cores with 2 threads apiece . . . this machine is a fractalist's wet dream. (Or an engineering CAD station) I fully plan on doing work with my work computer, but hands down, my work computer makes my laptop look like a brick. I rendered a 3072x1920 flame at 20,000 quality in less than 2 hours. It is super duper exciting. My previous work computer was better than my laptop, but the new one's performance is so much greater in comparison.

I know I will not be a full-time artist, so it is a moot point. As someone who makes fractals as a hobby, it nice that it doesn't take so long anymore. A 40,000 quality render, for a pattern that takes something around 1-2 days to render on my laptop took 2.5 hours on the desktop.

I find it fascinating how much the character of the flame changes with changes in background.

On the knitting front, the end of the bridesmaid shawls is far closer. I blocked the 3rd one, and I am half way through the chart of the fourth and final shawl. It is funny because I still need to reference the chart at the beginning of the row, and by no means is the pattern boring. I'm just sick of knitting gifts. I know I want to finish the project, and I could enter another shawl for the chance to win a prize, and I do want to get started on the next thing, so I need to finish. (circular thought much?)
I also included the others I knit, to prove I'm not just taking photos of the same silly project on the couch. This really was the 4th time I knit this pattern.

On the subject of the swap, my package arrived!
 There were all sorts of interesting goodies, like NORO! WM Lace! I will need to go by the yarn shop and get a coordinating skein so I can make a double knit noro scarf. I don't think 1 will make a long enough scarf by itself.
 Here is a picture of the swap lace with the stash elephant. It is a regular Petersillie, which is a very medium green. It is not dark, or light, or bright. The dear sweet lovable one thinks it is ugly, but I think it is a fine semi-solid color. My upstream swap partner has actually had me before, which was pretty neat. She had already stalked me before :D My downstream partner was a tough one. She likes much nicer yarns, so I decided to go big and get her a project bag. I had heard a lot about the Tangerine Designs bags from The Knitgirllls videocast, so I went with her. I got a cute one that was blue/teal with farm animals like ducks, lambs, dogs and cats on it. I don't really need a project bag because I have the Tom Bihn one that holds everything I need. I like the idea of it though. Next time I swap I am totally going back to the local candy store. It was fun to pick something out, and I like the idea of shopping local.

The time will be soon, that I will cast on the featherweight.
I have already made my one page version of the pattern, and my lace is wound, and the only thing I need to do is finish my silly shawl.

I really love making 1 page patterns. (Front and back) 3 columns in as large a font as will fit (8-9 pt normally). Most patterns have too many pictures, and too much fluff, or instructions that you can ignore once you get the pattern set-up (ie row by row stitch counts of short rows). So I choose a size, delete the counts and instructions for the other sizes, and cram it all in. It is a pain to carry several sheets of instructions all the time, and for a raglan sweater that is mostly stockinette, it isn't like you need a lot of instructions anyways. I keep the original pattern, but I like having 1 sheet of paper that has everything I need to carry around with me.

I did buy a new book this week too.

Obviously I can't do the 1 page patterns with a book, however I think those hexagon socks are really awesome. I didn't even double check that I wanted more than that pattern (thankfully there are several awesome ones).

Not like I need more things to knit, since my list of potential projects is really long, I just know I will be getting to it eventually.

I really need to cut back on the extreme queue jumping. I was going to knit Laminaria after I finished Rhodion. Since I wanted to practice with wool lace weight and Elizabeth Freeman, before doing silk lace weight with Elizabeth Freeman. My skills are up to snuff now, and I really believe she totally thinks through every detail of her patterns. I even fan-girled out on the dyer of the yarn, and asked her thoughts on using every gram to make Laminaria with the tussah silk in Blood Queen. Oh well. I guess I am knitting a lace weight sweater in wool first hahaha. Then the WM bender will end, briefly, for this shawl (after the wedding).

I think that's all for now,
Take care guys

Molly : )

Friday, April 13, 2012

We're not faking it

I know this subject has been talked about many times, but it bears repeating, because so many people I know feel this way.

The problem is that people in PhD programs are surrounded by brilliant people, and in comparison you don't feel as smart, don't feel as worthy, and it feels like you knew far more before you started than now. This feeling is known as the imposter syndrome. Simply put, it is harassment you give yourself.
  • You don't speak up when you think something is wrong. You always defer to 'supposed' authority.
  • You avoid answering questions in class, giving conference presentations, demonstrating competence,  because you don't want to be 'found out' or 'exposed'.
  • You feel inadequate, useless, and unimportant.
  • You avoid opportunities, because you feel unqualified, I'm not smart enough for the fellowship, or hardworking enough for that honor.
Now the imposter syndrome is not limited to PhD students, but I think that many PhD students do feel this way, either occasionally, or frequently. Everyday you are banging your head against a problem, where the solution involves doing something you are bad at. For a mechanical engineer, that might mean understanding electrodynamics, for an electrical engineer that might mean learning solid mechanics, for a physicist that might be learning chemistry.

The heart of a problem in a PhD is learning how to teach yourself the tools you need to solve your research problems. You used to rely on a parent, or teacher or professor to distill information for you, but a PhD is about learning to do the impossible, and it is very rare that the 'impossible' is your exact area of expertise. Your personal 'impossible' is the largest hurdle you will ever face.

And while you are banging your head against the wall trying to do something you are not good at, you start to forget that you are an expert in many things, you are really brilliant, and that you are successful, competent, and in fact worthy. Even if you know what imposter syndrome is, sometimes you will feel this way.

I am here to say it isn't true, you are not an imposter. Tuesday I felt that way, but the important thing to do is to go to your friends and talk with them. They are not going to lie, they will tell you truth, you are awesome/hardworking/smart, whatever. You are not an imposter, you do know what you are doing, no one is going to kick you out for incompetence, or laziness, or because you are retarded. But don't hear it from me, ask your friends.

There are other things you can do help prevent these overwhelming feelings.
  • Be friends with a variety of people. Don't hang out with only your research group, or only PhD students, there are many types of people in the world, find them.
  • Have a hobby that has nothing to do with your work. 
  • Take time to remember successes, rewards, goals that you have accomplished in the last month 
  • Take at least 1 day off work a week, to give yourself a break, time to catch up with life, and do fun things.
  • Find a mentor, who isn't your advisor and meet with them to talk about issues. This could be a senior student, or a different professor, but don't keep your feelings to yourself.
Aside from self-confidence, the other side of the issue is the admission on fallibility.

You are not God, you will make mistakes, you will not always be right, people who seem that way are bullshitting. When you make a mistake, you are not incompetent, you are normal, fallible, and working on something that carries risk. If it was all sunshine and butterflies, then someone did it in 1912 with antiquated equipment, or derived it in 1960 by hand.

It is pretty easy to get caught up in an environment where all of your results must be positive, all of your theories have matching experiments, but at the end of the day, it is the unexpected results which will lead to exciting discoveries. You are a student, and it many ways a PhD is much more like a traditional apprenticeship, you dedicate several years of your life to acquire a set of skills. If you already knew these skills, then there would have been no point is spending the time getting a PhD. By all means join the workforce immediately. But, since you are learning these skills, you aren't always going to get it right.

Don't let mistakes destroy your confidence, but do develop ways to double check your work before you present it. Maybe it is a good idea to draw a diagram, or wait a day to go over it again. I still need to work on this, so I don't have as many ideas.

Hey, I never said I had all the answers, I just figure if I am going to complain about something, I should have a few ideas to offer. You are not faking it, you are awesome, and you are going to do, and have already done, amazing things.

Take care guys,
Molly : )

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sock knitting without fear!

For those who don't know, I am one of the moderators for the second largest sock knitting group on raverly. I instigated a (more or less) hostile takeover of the group, since the former moderators stopped moderating (or posting, or visiting ravelry). There was a kerfuffle where someone asked a question, and then was rude to everyone who answered.

I had been frustrated with the group for a long time. There wasn't any organization, the only content was new sock knitters asking for help, and there wasn't anything happening for experienced sock knitters. I was planning on leaving the group, but once I saw that the rudeness incident was getting out of hand, I made a post to take over as admin, and then the powers that be upgraded me.

From there I gathered a team of moderators, double checked that they knew the rules and knew how to moderate, and from there it has been a lot of fun to watch the group grow, regulars come around, and new people join. Occasionally there are disagreements, but they are minor in comparison to what made me conclude the group needed ownership. Mostly it is because the regulars are really chatty (and so am I).

Which brings me to the point of this post. For all of the things I have seen from new sock knitters, or sock knitters trying new things, I am surprised at how much fear there is in sock knitting.

Generally socks are knit in the round. There are many tools you can use to knit in the round, magic loop with one long circular, double point needles, two circulars, knitting machines. Any pattern written for one tool can totally be used for another. Sometimes it might mean including or omitting markers.

Heels come in a wide variety, and not all heels are going to fit your foot, as written, or in general. In many socks this is the area where it is tough to get perfect. Flap and gusset heels can have holes at the joins, and there is that whole trouble with picking up stitches. Short-row heels can be shallow, have holes at every decrease on one side or both sides. After-thought heels can be ambiguous to place and require breaking the yarn. That said, each type of heel does has advantages, and it is worth while to learn how to do all of the types for both toe-up and cuff-down construction. Yes, you can do a flap and gusset toe-up! As with many things, practice will help eliminate some of the concerns about messiness, and placement. At some point you will know the exact dimensions of your foot, and where a heel needs to be placed, how many stitches it takes for each part, and which type fits you the best. It will come. I promise.

Know Thyself! There are many levels of understanding. What is your leg length, and foot length? With these 2 measurements you can conquer any typical sock. What is your leg circumference (measured below ankle bone), your foot circumference (at the widest point)? With these 2 measurements you can modify any given stitch count, given your gauge, and your favorite value of negative ease. It might take some tricksy-ness to get the hang of modifying patterns to fit in your favorite stitch count, but remember, your mods just need to fit into the 10%-20% range for negative ease, (9, 15, or 21)% isn't going to be a deal breaker. For more specialized socks you may want to know more measurements, like your calf for knee socks. Not all patterns can be easily modified, however by trying to knit many sorts of sock you get a feel for what are better changes for a given type.

If it is wrong, rip it out. With shawls or sweaters, sometimes the yarn is fuzzy, or thin, or nearly underspun. But socks are made of tight twist wool that can survive many trips to the frog pond. If the heel doesn't fit, or the length is wrong, or the yarn is too loud for the pattern, it is better to start over, than to find a way to make it work. In the end a few hours wasted is better than having something that didn't work right. I still wear my first pair of socks.

Oftentimes people forget that knitters choice is very easy to implement with socks. You can substitute freely with cuffs, legs, heels, insteps, and toes. It is very rare that a pattern can not be modified to include a part that better fits your foot. Or better suits keeping your interest in the pattern. I wouldn't go so far as to say willfully disobey every pattern, but when something seems wrong, or boring, or messy, do something to fix it.

In short. Do not be afraid!

I don't have any knitting pictures today. I am on row 31 of Diantha #4, and it is looking good that I will finish the 5th one before April 30th, which means I qualify 4 shawls for the Susanna IC crescent KAL. Yea! Nothing else is on the needles. I made a place holder project for the Imagine It KAL, but since the yarn hasn't landed, I can't cast on. And I won't cast on until I freaking knit the last bridesmaid shawl. The cardigan will be freaking gorgeous, and I am doing the cable edging variation.

On the fractal front . . .
Mothership was my nearly late entry for the apophysis challenge
And progression of dreams was more conceptual, I did three renders, with tweaked gradient settings, and then combined them in photoshop. While it is probably totally doable in apo with extreme chaos skills, I'm pretty happy with the result. At some point I will get around to doing something similar with the white background versions.
That's all for now.

Take care guys,

Molly : )

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Department of Stashquisitions

 Collinette Jitterbug, in October Afternoon

 Wollmeise Lace in Magnolie Dark

 Malabrigo Lace in Jewel Blu

 Crazy Zauberball! Rainbow Lace

 Wollmeise Lace in Fritzi Frizzante (photos seem a little dark)

And generic sock yarn in black and white. (cheap!)

I haven't been doing a good job of keeping my keeping my stash up to date. I had fun with the elephant though.

The main point is to know what yarn I have, how much I have, and how much I can realistically knit. Of course it is always fun to rummage through the stash, but at this point, I have a lot of future knitting on my plate. I have 2 more Diantha shawls, and the Imagine It Wollmeise Swap/KAL to do before my wedding. I could surprise myself and crank everything out in short order. The main problem is that Diantha is hard to make a portable project. If there were no beads, it wouldn't be an issue. But the beads get everywhere, and they require a special tool, which periodically needs to be reloaded with beads. I try not be be that disruptive with my knitting in class.

What this also means, is that my stash is more than 5 years of yarn. Which begs the question, why did I buy this yarn in the first place?

a.) Uses up yarn I already have (generic sock yarn)
b.) Gift (Crazy Zauberball)
c.) I was shopping with a friend (Jitterbug and Malabrigo)
d.) Panic! Only available NOW! (Wollmeise, duh)

No, panic isn't a good reason. I bought the fritzi from a destash, and the magnolie from the loopy ewe. The problem is that while the loopy ewe is pretty easy to buy from, it really isn't as good of a value as buying directly from Germany. And I wasn't smart since I didn't make the threshold for free shipping. DOH! Live and learn.

I am hoping that I can combine the zauberball and the malabrigo and make a daybreak much like this one. Rainbows in the sky! It will be so freaking awesome!
Here is the link to her blog. I actually started to follow her blog today. I like reading blog of the 20-somethings who knit. They are a pretty cool bunch. Since she posts daily, I won't read the archives. I have enough distractions in my life, and the design of the page makes it really hard to get to the beginning.

The orange yarn is going to become socks for the dear sweet lovable one. I adore that he is a crazy socks person. It is a real challenge to find yarn obnoxious enough for him. Orange is a requirement. I have no clue when I am going to get around to it. It might be after I finish the WM bender, known as the 12 in 12 KAL.

One of the skeins of WM is getting swapped away. I love both colorways, which is why I bought the Fritzi in the first place, so I would have a spare. Whichever remains might become a featherweight sweater. Or I will love the skein I get in return, and then I will wind it and make the featherweight with it instead. I am open to the possibilities.

I suspect the remaining skein will become an Evenstar. Not soon, I think I will be knitting my silk lace before I get to another woolly lace project. Perhaps another factor to consider is that I have 3 projects in the hopper, and I am completely daydreaming about all of the things I will make next.

The neutral colors are intended for my scraps. Early in my sock knitting career I tried to use every last bit of the yarn. As my color selections got more crazy it has become impossible to match leftovers with projects, so the black and white are good choices for the projects that I want to play with color work. If there is anything I have learned from fractals, black goes with any gradient, and white is a good guess for second place.

Distracted much?

I did finish 2 things today. Ornamental and Diantha #3 are done. Yea!

 Fun stuff : )

That's all for now, take care guys

Molly : )