.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Brewer Burns

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Week As It Goes (And Comes)

Well, I started in at the new job on Monday. I visited a client in jail for the first time. It was pretty funny when I got in the elevator because my instinct was to push the button of the floor I was going to. You can't do that in a jail. They have a camera and an intercom so that the guy in the booth (somewhere in the jail) can press the button for you. The room that I met with my client in was tiny and slightly claustrophobic and the intercom didn't work. That meant that there was a lot of screaming through thick glass. I also went to court on Monday afternoon to observe. Amazing. It is nothing short of chaos.

Today is my wedding anniversary. I've been married for three years. It's been a very good three years.

I finished knitting my wide bordered scarf, and hopefully I will get a picture of it soon. The Kew socks are coming along. I'm halfway through the foot of the first sock.

That's all I've got for now. I'm enjoying the new job. I've got a couple of weeks of training, and then I'm off on my own (kind of, there are plenty of people willing to help, provide knowledge, assistance, and forms.) My first trial is scheduled for March 1. Should be interesting.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


1. I missed my blog-a-versary. January 24. I've been blogging faithfully for a year.

2. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. last night and didn't roll my lazy self out of bed until 11:00 this morning. I haven't done that in years.

3. I dreamed about the new job all night long. And Friday night. One dream after another.

4. I finished up the wide bordered scarf (page 96, Victorian Lace Today) last night.

I haven't blocked it yet. This is what I have left over from the skein of sea silk:

Not too bad. Not enough left to do anything with, but not so much left that I feel guilty about it. And if I ever need to fix the scarf, I will have a little sea silk to do it with.

5. After I finished up the scarf, I started working in earnest on Kew. This is what I have so far:

6. I discovered through the magic of google analytics that this here blog has been added to the list of public defender blogs over at pdstuff.blogspot.com. Who knew? Also, I'm apparently one of three blogs written by public defenders that are primarily knitting blogs. Actually, that doesn't surprise me. Knitting seems like the perfect things to go with the practice of law.

7. I bought new clothes yesterday. Really expensive clothes. In other words, money that I would normally have spent on yarn I spent on clothes instead. Anyway, I found one pair of pants that don't ride up in the crotch and don't make me itch. Go Ralph Lauren! I also found a fabulous skirt. Really. It's appropriately lawyerly and yet also not hideously ugly. There were some other things too, like a wool dress shirt, but you get the idea.

8. You know? I think I'm done.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Cleaned Out My Office Today

And good god, can you imagine how much crap I have collected in a somewhat large-ish office over the course of the last five years and some months? Lots. Some of it mine, some of it belonging to the firm, a lot of it stuff I should have thrown out at least months ago, if not years. Now, don't get me wrong, the office is still (as I sit in it) a bit of a pit. But a much cleaner and more empty pit than it was a few days ago. I'm surprised at myself, really. As I waded through the stuff I found myself getting a little nostalgic about my time here and old clients and stuff. Nothing like seeing the past through rose-colored glasses.

And what else have I been up to (aside from cleaning out my office, cleaning up my files, completely freaking the fuck out about the new job and ordering myself a new social security card with my married name on it?) Well, I've been watching some figure skating. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are being held in Spokane this year, right now. Do you think that maybe after the men skate I will be able to go downtown and find Evan Lysacek crying into his beer? Or perhaps Johnny Weir drowning his sorrows in an Appletini? Are they even 21? I have no idea. And honestly, I couldn't care less about the men's event. I like to watch the women. I have a couple new favorite skaters, including Kimmie Meisner and Beatrisa Liang. I also think the "technical advisor" should have her vision checked. If you were watching the women's short program last night, then you know what I mean. At least the announcers are pronouncing Spokane correctly. ("Kane" is pronounced like "can." Spo-can. Not Spo-cane.) And just in case you were wondering, this is a big deal for Spokane. Even the novice rounds were pretty much sold out.

As far as the knitting goes, I haven't worked a round on Kew since I cast on in the doctor's office. I'm really a one project kind of girl. I finished the center panel on my wide-bordered scarf and am knitting the second border. It's interesting. It's a knitted on border, and the border itself is knit horizontally. Basically, you have the last row of center panel stitches still on your needle, live. And then you have the border stitches. On every wrong side row you knit the last border stitch together with one stitch from the last row of the center panel. It's ingenious. I really like it. No awkward sewing of the border on or any of that nonsense. I have many rows to go, but I will take a picture of the scarf tonight. I really like it and look forward to wearing it.

Alright, I know that some of you (John Hanscom) have asked what my new job is. I haven't posted it until now both out of a weird superstition (what if I posted it and then they changed their mind?) and because I just didn't know how I wanted to say it. I'm going to be a public defender. I start Monday. I'm terrified.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This and That

Well, it's been an exciting day so far. First thing this morning I went out to the garage to start my car and head into work, and when I pushed the button to open the garage door there's nothing but a screeching sound and one side of the garage opens about a foot, and the other side only a couple of inches. The door was well and truly fucked. So, I called Stephen (he goes to work about an hour and half before I do) and he came home and we figured out that the chain (spring loaded) on the side that didn't open had snapped. Eventually, we gave up on opening the door and decided that the best we could do was get the door to close all the way so that our stuff wouldn't mysteriously disappear during the day. To do that we had to sever the chain on the other side (because it's spring loaded.) So, long story short Stephen brought me in to work (late) and then took the afternoon off to call a guy. The door is fixed now (the guy was quick!) and my car is no longer in garage limbo. There is nothing like trying to lift a steel door to expose a person's wimpiness.

While waiting for the doctor to come in and give me my (company-mandated) physical (to prove that I am fit to sit behind a desk and read files) I cast on for Kew. For myself. In the leftover LL Shepherd Sock in Bittersweet from the pair I made for my mom. I had worked a couple of rows by the time she came in. We chatted about the cost of medical school and law school and she told me that she had thought about getting her law degree after she retires. I told her that she should find something better to do in her retirement. Because seriously? Law school, like anything else worth doing, exacts a price, requires a sacrifice. It's not a thing to be taken lightly.

I've continued working on the wide bordered scarf. I'm down to 31 grams of yarn. As I get nearer the correct weight (21 grams) for starting the border I have started to worry about the accuracy of my kitchen scale. It's just a little, cheap, digital scale that I bought at Fred Meyer so that I could weigh ingredients (like the flour that goes into a loaf of bread) and not be left guessing when recipes give the ingredient measurements in weight instead of volume. As a result, it's really not that accurate. I plan to kind of play it by ear, weigh often, and start the border early if I need to. I'm also prepared to rip back if necessary to start the border earlier. The scarf is coming out very pretty though. I really like the leafy center panel.

Most of the time I watch (listen to) movies or television when I knit. Lately though, since we bought the iMac, I've been sitting upstairs and listening to podcasts instead. And very lately, over the last month or so I've been listening to books from Librivox.org. Do you know about Librivox? Every knitter should know about Librivox. The site contains audio files of books that are in the public domain (that are no longer protected by copyright) and read by volunteers. There are lots of classics, and not just fiction. There are scientific books (Einsteins's General Theory of Relativity, Darwin's Origin of the Species, etc.) as well as beloved classics, like Emma, Pride and Prejudice, The Wizard of Oz books, as well as many, many other works. I recently listened to all of Brenda Dayne's reading of The Age of Innocence, and am currently listening to Emma. It's a great site. I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Of Socks and Scales and Scarves and Lace, Sizing and Skeins

I got to wear my Pomatomus socks today and I have a few thoughts. I could have gone smaller. Perhaps a whole pattern repeat smaller. They're not really that big, except they're just big enough to sag a little, so that I have to pull them up. Again, if you're going to make these, make them smaller than you think they need to be. That's my advice. I do love them in spite of this one flaw and I don't intend to frog them. I will wear them as is. They are soft and warm, and thanks to the Socks That Rock, cushiony. And they are pretty:

I cast on for the lacy scarf from Victorian Lace Today and worked the first border this morning. I am using a different yarn than the pattern yarn and that has led to some interesting dilemmas. First, I did figure out that I had 437 yards (approximately) of this stuff. That isn't as much as the 450 yards that the pattern calls for. So, I decided to calculate the ratio of the two borders to the center pattern motif so that I could tweak the pattern so that I won't run out of yarn (this stuff is too expensive, really, to make me want to buy more) and so that I won't have an odd-ment left over (again, it's expensive!) I figured out that there is a 23-44-23 ratio. In other words, the first border comprises 23% of the total scarf, the center panel 44%, and the second border 23%. Then I got out my handy kitchen scale and weighed the ball of yarn:

96 grams. That means that I should use approximately 27 grams of yarn per border, and 43 grams for the center panel. I cast on.

The border is worked sideways and incorporates a lacy leaf bit above a trellis pattern. After I had worked five of the eight pattern repeats, I measured my piece and found it to be about 13 inches wide. Really wide. I weighed my remaining ball of yarn. 75 grams. That means that I had only used 21 grams of yarn, but the scarf was so wide already that I figured that I would cast off and just make the scarf a little longer in the center panel. So that's what I did and that's the plan that I've decided to follow, at least for now. If I do this correctly then I will use up almost all of my yarn, but not run out. The pattern is fantastic, by the way. I've only found one wierd part. After you cast off the first border you then are instructe to pick up stitches along the straight edge of the border (this is obvious if you've knit the border) with the right side facing you. however, your yarn is attached to the piece in such a way that you can't pick up the stitches with the right side facing without breaking the yarn. Since this seemed like a singularly wasteful thing to do, I picked up the stitches with the wrong side facing me and just worked an extra row in garter stitch so that I was back in synch with the pattern. This is my progress so far:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Top Three Reasons I'm Not Going to MIss My Old Job

1. I will never have to answer the phone again.

2. I will have the freedom to end conversations where someone is verbally abusing me.

3. I may never be bored at work again.

At first I thought that I would make a top ten list, but then I started wriing it and realized that most of the stuff on the list was little stuff, the kind of stuff that gets to you not because of the incident itself but because of the accumulation of it over time. So, what you have here are my top three reasons, which I think adequatly encompass all of the things that made me unhappy about my current job. Not having enough work to keep me busy made me look for other things to do, which led me to answering the phone, answering the phone led to me being the only person answering the phone, me being the only person answering the phone led to me being constantly interrupted when I did have work to do, the constant interruptions led to me being less efficient at completing my own work. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm basically going to be starting all over again at my new job. It will be like I'm fresh out of law school again, because I have never practiced in this area of the law. I have little courtroom experience (a shortcoming that will quickly be remedied) and my case load is going to triple and accelerate all at the same time.

In knitting news, I finished my pomatomus socks last night and they are currently drying by the heater vent. This morning I decided that it was time to cast on using the Sea Silk that Stephen bought me for Christmas. I ran into two problems. First, the Sea Silk needed to be wound into a ball. Since I don't have a ball winder, I usually enlist Stephen's help to hand wind skeins. Even with his help though I ended up spending a little over an hour untangling the latter half of the skein. That sucked ass. I really don't understand why some skeins wind into a ball relatively easily, and some skeins basically refuse to. The second hurdle that I ran into was that I thought the skein was 500 meters, instead of 400 meters, so I'm going to have to sit down and rework the pattern that I intend to use. Which pattern, you ask (you being the imaginary reader in my mind)? The scarf with the french trellis border on page 98 of Victorian Lace Today. Wait! I just opened the book and saw that the pattern actually calls for 450 yards of yarn. Interesting. Now, I have to go consult Dr. Google to find out how many meters make up 450 yards.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pomatomus Progress

My first thought about this pattern is that it’s pretty rare that a sock pattern with 72 stitches is going to fit my foot. Especially if said pattern is worked on size 2 needles. So, I cast on 60 stitches. When I had finished 1 ½ repeats on the leg of the first sock I tried it on, and found that it seemed to be on the brink of being too small. So I only worked 2 repeats of the pattern on the leg (instead of 3) reasoning that if the sock was slightly on the small side then it would be better shorter than longer. I need not have worried. Once I finished the sock and tried it on I found that it fit me perfectly fine, and it probably would have fit me if I had cast on, say, 55 stitches. So, if you’re considering making this pattern and are worried about sizing I would really urge you to go smaller rather than larger. This pattern is very, very stretchy. In a good way.

I have to confess that when the pattern was first published I was very much intrigued and wanted to knit it. I even brought the pattern to gym to peruse while I exercised on the treadmill. Unfortunately, I soon read in blogland that the pattern was really difficult to execute. Even the Yarn Harlot proclaimed it to be so. I got a little spooked. What if I was being over-confident? What did I know? Maybe I couldn’t really knit this pattern. So I put it away for a while, to age. I still intended to knit the pattern but I just wasn’t ready to tackle it yet. Because I had inwardly decided that Pomatomus was “too hard,” when I decided to tackle it I was still working on that premise: the pattern was “too hard” for me and maybe I couldn’t really knit it because maybe I wasn’t that smart of a knitter after all.

I was wrong of course. The pattern is challenging and slightly fiddly, but really, it’s no more difficult than the Embossed Leaves Socks. In fact, the stitch pattern for Pomatomus was much easier to memorize. And it was no more fiddly than Kew. Less so. So, the stitch pattern is easy to memorize, not that fiddly, and the sock construction is basically like every other top-down, heel flap heel, square toe sock that I have every knit. And. The stitch pattern is ingenious. Seriously. The combination of the twisted stitch rib with the corresponding yarn overs and decreases creates this scaly pattern that is not only an innovative bit of lace, but stands out in relief. It’s lacy but also textured. It’s very cool.

In light of all the nice things that I have to say about the pattern, I feel that I should disclose the not so nice things as well. First, the entire pattern is worked in a twisted stitch rib. For me, this means that I knit it slowly because I have to switch the yarn from front to back or back to front with each stitch. In addition, all of the knit stitches are knit through the back loop and it took me a good while to get into the rhythm of it. I think the chart for the pattern is also somewhat misleading. You are always knitting the knits and purling the purls in this pattern but portions of the charts make it appear that you are knitting the purls and purling the knits. If you follow the pattern, stitch by stitch, you will be fine but this discrepancy could be very confusing. You also have to purl through the back loop on the heel flap, a maneuver that I find to be pretty fiddly. But it’s pretty.

My other problems with the pattern all relate to the fact that I took out a pattern repeat, and substituted a yarn. The beauty of casting on 72 stitches is that when you divide 72 you get 36 which is three full pattern repeats. I cast on 60 stitches, which is 30 stitches when you divide it, or 2 ½ pattern repeats on the top of the foot. Since the stitch pattern on the top of the foot simply continues from the leg, that meant that I had six stitches (half a repeat) before the full two pattern repeats. What to do with those six stitches that doesn’t look jackassed? In the end I did a kind of modified stitch repeat. I knit in twisted rib for the first four or five rows, then threw in the decrease and yarn over that would be knit if there was a full repeat there. I continued in this way until row 17 or so, then finished up in twisted rib. Basically, I fudged it the best that I could. The finished product looks pretty good though. I put in enough of the increases and decreases to make little points on the side of the foot, and the rest isn’t really noticeable.

My last gripe isn’t with the pattern, but with the way the toe on my finished sock looks. Since the Socks That Rock yarn that I’m using is of a much heavier gauge then the pattern yarn, I had to overcompensate and ended up decreasing every row for seven? ten? rows to get the sock to be the right length. I don’t like the way that it looks because the drastic decreasing caused little funny points on the sides of the toe. I think I’m going to have to rip back and start the toe decreases a half a repeat sooner. Right now, the socks would be fine for wearing around the house but I can’t imagine trying to stuff those toes into shoes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday, Monday

It’s Monday, and as much as I would like to write a really insightful post about knitting and how, the unraveling, it is like the way time slips away from us, and the knitting is like the way that we make ourselves anew, building one stitch upon another, etc., etc. Unfortunately it is Monday and you all will have to wait until at least Wednesday for something that makes so little sense.

I finished Stephen’s Rib & Cable socks on Saturday. They were dry late last night, and he loves them. When I first bought the yarn for the socks, I thought that it looked mostly brown, with some red and black colors. Now that I have knit the yarn up into socks, I see that the yarn appears to be mostly red with some hints of brown and black. The color, by the way is “Mums.” All in all I’m quite pleased with the yarn, the pattern and the finished product.

Project Stats:

Pattern: Rib & Cable socks from the Fall 2005 IK
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Wildfoote, in Mums (two skeins)
Needles: Size 1 dpn’s
Mods: modified to fit a man’s foot

The pattern is very good. If you’re modifying this pattern to fit a different foot size, then I recommend calculating the width of the sock for an inch of ease because the cables pull in so much that you need the extra inch to make up for it. The pattern is really a very simple rib and cable pattern (just like the title!) with ten-stitch repeats. That makes it easy to calculate for different sizes. Unfortunately, the size that I calculated to fit Stephen’s foot was not a multiple of ten. I thought about making the sock slightly smaller or larger so that the stitch pattern wouldn’t be wrong. I also thought about going up a needle size. I decided against both of these courses of action for a couple of reasons: I didn’t want to make the socks too big or too small and the number of stitches that would have to be added or subtracted would make a substantial difference in this case, and I didn’t want to go up a needle size because I really thought that the sock yarn was well-suited to size 1 needles. Size 2 would have made a much more open, less compact fabric, and wouldn’t have worn as well in the long run. Instead, I decided to cast on for 76 stitches, and make two of the cables three stitch over three stitch cables, rather than two stitch over two stitch cables. This worked out very well, and the only discernable difference is that the two cables that are three stitch over three stitch produce a more prominent cable than the other two stitch over two stitch cables.

The yarn, as I’ve mentioned before, is a bit splitty. There were places in each skein where the yarn had been plied too loosely and the plies had started to come apart. As a result, I suspect that these socks will wear out quicker than other socks that I have made. In addition, the yarn was not “sproingy” and had an almost hard feel to it. I suspect this is the result of the chemical process which makes the yarn superwash. I like the yarn well enough that I will use it again if I see a color that I really like, but it definitely isn’t my favorite sock yarn. It’s too bad really. I like buying Brown Sheep Company yarn in part because they are an American company and in part because they tend to be very reasonably priced.

I plan to make this pattern again, for myself, in the Koigu yarn that I recently obtained. Not right away though. After I finished up the Rib & Cable Socks I cast on, almost immediately, for Pomatomus in the Socks That Rock (colorway: Sedona) that I bought way back in August. So far it’s going well. I’m loving the yarn, loving the pattern, and am halfway down the foot on my first sock.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Somewhat Craptastic Pictures

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ene's Scarf, Rib & Cable Socks, Greek Pullover

Tonight there will be pictures of Ene’s Shawl, unpinned, and in all her glory. Really, I’m loving this shawl. In fact, I was so excited about it that I skipped my knit night on Wednesday night and went out to dinner so that I could wear the shawl out and about. It was a lot of fun.

I’ve been working on the Rib & Cable Socks for Stephen. They are going very well. I should say that the pattern can be found in the Fall 2005 IK, because I got it wrong in an earlier entry. The socks are worked from the top down and begin with three inches of ribbing, in the pattern repeat. Since the socks have several cables (7, in this case) you have to increase the number of stitches so that you actually have about an inch of ease in the sock. Obviously, by the time the sock is finished, it fits snugly because of the ribbing and cables.

I like the Wildfoote yarn, but I have some complaints. There are places in the yarn where the plies have almost un-plied themselves. This means that it’s really easy in places to split the yarn with my needle. In addition, the yarn itself lacks a certain sproingyness that I like in a sock yarn. I have a small gripe with the yardage. You only get 175 yards in a skein. Lorna’s Laces give you 215 yards in a skein of Shepherd Sock. The result of this lack of yardage is that I cut out a couple of repeats on the leg of the sock. Indeed, once I got down to working the toe of the sock I began to really worry about running out of yarn before the end of the skein. As it turns out, I had enough yarn. I may have even had enough yarn to keep in those two repeats on the leg, but only just barely. So, Brown Sheep Company: more yardage please? That extra 40 yards of yarn is like taking out a bit a fiber insurance, and every knitter could use a little fiber insurance.

I think today might be a good day to talk about my Greek Pullover. You might recall that I made this sweater from the recommended yarn, Rowan Kid Classic, and that I may have overcompensated for my mistake in sizing with the Lotus Blossom Tank by making this sweater too small. Well, I was right and I was wrong. The size that I made is actually a good bust size for me. Where I really went wrong was when I measured for the length of the sweater. I had recently watched an episode of Knitty Gritty featuring Lily Chin. She recommended measuring your work while holding it up so that you will see it as it will actually hang while it’s being worn. This appealed to my logical side that side, why yes, it’s not like I’m going to wear my sweater while lying in a horizontal position (all the time.) Unfortunately, I failed to take into account that the designer probably laid her work on flat surface to measure the length of it. The end result for me is that I do wish that the sweater was just a tad longer. An inch? ½ inch? Just a little bit would do it.

After I had finished the sweater and worn it for the first time I discovered two things: first, I can’t wear the sweater with nothing underneath it because the size of the needles (size 8) combined with this particular yarn creates a very, shall we say, “airy” fabric. Personally, I don’t like to go out in public while exposing my nipples. At least not so blatantly. I also discovered that I had made an error in seaming in one of the sleeves. Not the sleeve that I sewed in a little wonky. The other one. On that other sleeve there is a hole at the top where I somehow managed to: miss a couple of stitches? Stop short with the seaming? Some combination of both? Needless to say, I need to fix it.

Lastly, I recently removed the chiffon ruffles on the sleeves and the bottom of the sweater because the chiffon had started to fray so badly that I had to basically trim the sweater every time I wore it and it became really annoying. The directions specifically instruct you to actually rip the chiffon into strips then create the ruffles and sew them in, cut side facing down. This does not work, people. If you’re going to make this sweater with the ruffle (which is cute) then you need to cut the chiffon into strips, then hem in the cut ends either before you create the ruffle, or while you create the ruffle.

All of that aside though, I wear this sweater pretty frequently (at least several times a month) and I really like it. It’s not too fuzzy, but has a nice halo. It’s really warm. Also? I really, really like this yarn. This was my first Rowan yarn purchase and I have to say that I’m quite impressed. It’s next-to-the-skin soft and it hasn’t even pilled.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wrapping Up Ene's Scarf

After spending fifteen or twenty minutes crying in the bathroom stall at work yesterday afternoon, I came home and finished Ene’s Scarf. Actually, I came home, did the dishes, poured myself a large glass of red wine, and then finished Ene’s Scarf after convincing Stephen to bring me the new skein of yarn from the kitchen. And I felt bad the whole night. I felt bad as I ate dinner, I felt bad as I put the dishes away and as I loaded the dishwasher up with dirty dishes, I felt bad as I watched Monty Python and knit, and I felt positively pissed off as I searched for a cardboard box big enough to block the scarf on. I still, in fact, feel bad this morning and am wondering if maybe I should have another cry in the bathroom.

After I had managed to pick a fight with Stephen about the lack of a large enough cardboard box, and he had gone out to the garage and found one (which made me feel pretty sheepish about picking the fight with him) I pinned out the scarf. I started with the three points of the triangle, then progressed to each point along the sides. As I pinned and spritzed, pinned and spritzed, I watch the shawl (really, it’s too big to be called a scarf) take shape. From a blob of silky, shiny yarn bundled into clumps, it became what you see in the pictures. A work of lace. A beautiful, shimmering (okay, maybe not actually shimmering) work that came from my very own hands. I don’t know of any other act in knitting that is more breathtaking than pinning out a piece of lace knitting.

After I got into bed, turned out the light and closed my eyes to sleep I felt bad again. A weight of depression and fear compressed my chest, making it hard to breath. What if, I thought, instead of working at job where I spend a quarter of an hour crying in the bathroom on a Tuesday afternoon, I had a job where I rarely felt the need to cry?

Ene’s Scarf Project Stats:

Pattern: Ene’s Scarf from Scarf Style
Yarn: Kaalund Enchante, 100% silk, in Moss
Needles: Size 6 circular (to begin,) then size 6 straights
Mods: Yarn substitution

The pattern is well written, clear and mistake free. You cast on all the stitches along the bottom two sides of the triangle (375 stitches), work the border, then work the center panel, decreasing four stitches each right side row of the center panel, until you have nineteen stitches left. Then one more wrong side row is worked and one stitch is decreased, leaving eighteen stitches. You then use the three needle bind-off method to graft together the remaining stitches. This is only the second lace shawl pattern that I have knit and the first time that I have cast on 375 stitches for any project. On the whole, I think I like this method better than starting with a small number of stitches and progressively increasing. As you work the shawl there is the illusion that you are knitting faster and faster because the rows are getting shorter and shorter. This was particularly important here because you really just repeat two rows over and over again.

This is my first experience with a 100% silk yarn. I bought it as a birthday gift for myself from A Grand Yarn. I had a really good experience with this yarn. It’s not as stretchy as wool or alpaca, but it had enough give that it was pleasant to knit with. It’s also a very smooth yarn, so it didn’t catch on my bamboo needles. I did notice as I worked with it that it tended to absorb some of the perspiration from my hands and get a little more grabby on the needles. I also had a bad experience when I had to frog my first cast on. It unraveled fine until I got to the cast on edge and then it started to actually stick to itself in some kind of yarn-meld. I suspect that this happened because I used a knitted cast on and the silk is a protein fiber, which naturally would have some stick to it. So, I would really recommend that you either use a different cast on if you’re afraid of having to frog, or make sure that you cast on correctly the first time. Lastly, I did notice that after I spritzed the yarn with water it gave off a kind of vaguely fishy smell.

As soon as I could, I transferred this project onto straight needles because the joins on my Clover bamboo circulars are just terrible. They don’t really bother me when I’m working with bigger, more slippery yarn, but with lace weight silk every single stitch has to be eased over the join and up onto the needle. Luckily, the number of stitches decreased so rapidly that I was able to put it onto the straights pretty early on. I know that I should probably buy new needles with better joins for these kinds of projects, but I’m cheap. That’s money that I could spend on yarn if I wasn’t spending it on new needles. Maybe for my next big lace project I will though.

Finally, since I substituted a yarn that was of a considerably smaller circumference than the recommended yarn, I expected to have a scarf that was really neckerchief sized. Instead, I have a really open, airy shawl that is at least as big as my FBS, if not bigger, and I’m quite pleased with that.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ene's Scarf: Blocking

Monday, January 08, 2007

Requiem for a Dream (movie review, because that's what's on my mind)(Spoilers!)

I watched Requiem for a Dream on Friday night. And I liked it. I had the DVD sitting around my house for about five weeks because I felt like I wasn’t really ready to watch it, knowing that it was going to be pretty depressing. I have to save those kinds of movies for the once in a blue moon when I can emotionally handle them. That’s why I like Netflix. I can keep movies around for as long as I want. Unfortunately, I live with Stephen who gets itchy to send movies back within a reasonable time (to which I reply: then why do we have Netflix? If you’re so worried about returning movies within a certain time period why don’t we go back to renting from Blockbuster and racking up late fees?) So, anyway, Stephen put Requiem for a Dream in at 10:00 p.m. on Friday night and we watched it. I can see why the movie got such good reviews. Sure, it’s depressing, and revolves around drug addiction, but in a very different way from other movies I’ve seen dealing with the same issues. Unlike Train Spotting, it’s not told like a heroin addict actually directed, produced and edited the movie itself. Unlike My Own Private Idaho it actually has a plot (that makes sense!) I really thought the best thing about the movie was the way that Ellen Burstyn’s and Jared Leto’s (mother and son, respectively) characters had both intersecting and parallel lives.

I thought that the way that Sarah’s (Ellen Burstyn) story is told was particularly good. She is not simply a caricature. She’s a real character. We see her, we see how she lives, we see her loneliness, and how she deals with her loneliness (by watching infomercials for something called “JUICE.”) We see how easily her addiction begins. With diet pills. She takes the pills, she feels peppy and excited and she loses weight. And then she just keeps going and eventually is both completely addicted and completely out of control all at the same time. During the same period we see that Harry (Jared Leto) sees what is happening with his mother, warns her about the danger, but is ultimately too wrapped up in his own life (and his own addiction) to help her when she needs it most. Conversely, when Harry needs Sarah the most, she is completely incapacitated.

There were a couple of plot points that confused me. When Marlon Wayan’s character is in the back of the car, and everyone gets shot, and he gets arrested, were the cops supposed to be in on the shooting? If not, then how did they arrive on scene so quickly? Also, who took Harry and Marlon’s (I can’t remember the character’s name) money? The cops? How did they find it? The rival drug dealers? Again, how did they find it? Interesting. Why does Marlon keep seeing flashbacks of his mother? Is it supposed to illustrate the fact that he feels like he’s disappointed her? I generally just think that Marlon’s character isn’t very well developed. Oh! When Harry checks into the hospital and the doctor sees his arm, why don’t they treat him then and there and hold him until the police can take him into custody? I suspect that this is done simply for dramatic effect so that we, the viewing audience, can sympathize even more with Harry’s character as his arm literally rots off and the people who are supposed to help him refuse to (until it’s too late.) Lastly, I’m sorry, but the bit about going into the back of the grocery store and the delivery truck opening up, and there’s the drug kingpin sitting there with stacks of bagged heroin behind him? Yeah. I don’t buy that for a single second. (Of course, if someone would like to comment and tell me that in their old life as a heroin addict/drug dealer they actually witnessed such a scene, then I will stand corrected.)

Many things in this movie hit close to home for me. I know someone who had electro-shock therapy in the last five years, and I know someone who is a heroin addict, had an infected sore where he continued to shoot up, and eventually contracted botulism from this activity. He was lucky though. He didn’t die, and he didn’t lose a limb, but he did have to learn how to walk again.

I cast on for a new project yesterday, the Rib & Cable socks from the Spring ‘06 IK, re-sized for Stephen’s feet, in Brown Sheep Company’s Wildfoote. So far it’s going well, and I turned the heel on the first sock last night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

About Lace...

I really like working lace. I like making lace shawls and scarves (mini-clapotis, branching out, Ene's Scarf, Flower Basket Shawl,) I really like working lacy socks (Kew, Embossed Leaf, Falling Leaves, Simply Lovely Lace Socks, etc.) I just like putting lace into everything I make. i think it's because it keeps me from getting bored. Let's face it, knitting eight inches of stockinette in the round in worsted weight cotton yarn would be pretty fucking tedious. But working eight inches in a lotus blossom lace pattern in worsted weight cotton? Not tedious at all. The opposite of tedious, in fact. I like lace.

I also know that not everyone likes lace, and one of the reasons is that it's somewhat difficult to fix mistakes in lace, and there is great potential for mistakes. So, I thought I would talk a little about how I work lace and how I fix mistakes in lace. First, I don't use lifelines. When I was knitting my FBS I did put in a couple of lifelines along the way but I abandoned the effort pretty quickly. Stopping to thread sewing thread through all of the stitches on my needle was way too much of a pain in my ass. And it interrupted my flow. Unfortunately, I didn't actually figure out how to effectively fix mistakes in lace without tinking back until much later in my knitting development. The result is that my FBS has many, many mistakes because, instead of tinking back to fix mistakes, a lot of times I fudged the pattern on a later row instead. The good news is that a person would be hard pressed to actually find the mistakes in my shawl (because they would have to take it from me and then look at each individual flower basket motif to find them.) The bad news is that I know that they are there. This doesn't prevent me from wearing my FBS with pleasure, but still. I know that the mistakes are there.

Which brings me to my method. First and foremost: stitch markers are a must. Depending on the number and length of pattern repeats, I put a stitch marker at the end of each repeat, or I put them in every few repeats, at regular intervals. The value of doing so is that you will be able to tell if you are off at the end of each stitch marker interval. In other words, if you pay attention, you will catch most mistakes quickly, and be able to tink back and fix them immediately. That's my first line of defense: finding a mistake that I just made and tinking back to fix it.

However, as anyone who has ever knitted lace knows, you won't always catch all mistakes immediately. The mistake that I make most often and don't catch right away is forgetting to work a yarn over. That's because forgetting to work a yarn over will not cause you to be off when you get to the end of a pattern repeat. It won't actually effect your stitch count until the next row when you are a stitch short on that repeat. Therefore, this is the mistake that I have to fix on a subsequent row most often.

How do I do that? How do I fix a mistake that happened a row or two ago without tinking back and reknitting it correctly? Well, I'm glad you asked. First though, I have to say that you really need to be able to look at your knitting and tell what knitting maneuvers you have worked, even a couple of rows down. In other words, when you come to a place where you have too few or too many stitches you need to be able to look at the row before or two rows before (in the case of lace that is worked only on the right side of the fabric) and tell what stitches you worked, where your decreases are, what kind of decreases they are, where your increases or yarn overs are. This is how you tell what mistake you made. Once you have looked at your knitting and figured out what mistake you made then you knit up to the stitch or stitches where the mistake was made, and drop them down to the row where the mistake happened. Then you reknit the stitch correctly. So, for example. let's say that I have a six-stitch pattern repeat that goes like this: knit one, knit one, yarn over, double decrease, yarn over, knit one. Let's say that instead, I knit: knit one, knit one, yarn over, double decrease, knit one: omitting the second yarn over. Once I had figured out that I had omitted the second yarn over I would knit up to the last "knit one" and drop that stitch down to the row where I made the mistake. Then I would reknit, making a yarn over then a knit stitch using the yarn that originally made only a knit stitch, then knitting back up to the current row. The mistake is then fixed and you can keep going.

This method is not perfect in that you can end up with places that are a little tight or a little loose, but this is usually corrected when the piece is blocked.

The main thing to remember with lace, I think, is to pay attention. You could use the above method to fix a mistake many rows back, but in lace, since one row generally builds on another, it gets trickier the farther back a mistake is. This is a good thing to remember since most mistakes can be caught early on and fixed, thereby avoiding that problem.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What's the Absolute Worst Time to Run Out of Yarn?

If you guessed at 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, then you are correct! Not only is it too late to run to the yarn store tonight, there won't be a yarn store open until MONDAY (edited), and the store where I originally bought the yarn won't be open again until Tuesday. Fucking fabulous. Now, if I were a smart knitter who plans ahead and anticipates problems then I would have went to the yarn store today,when it was open. But I'm not that kind of knitter. I'm more of a "oh, I'll have enough. Surely I will." kind of knitter. I am delusional, in fact. And where did I run out? Well, right at the end of the center repeat on Ene's Scarf. All I have left to do is the last chart, which basically decreases until there are 18 stitches left.

I have to also admit to going a little nutso tonight. Even though I could tell that I didn't have enough yarn to finish the project, I couldn't stop knitting until I ran out of yarn. I just had to know how far it would go. In the end, it turns out, it went pretty far but not quite far enough. I may have also driven my husband into the next room through a combination of several hours of Cast-On, and screaming at the tangled yarn (the remnant of my first failed, frogged, attempt at knitting the scarf) that I felt compelled to untangle so that I could knit with it. Ultimately, I snipped that bit of yarn twice during the unraveling because it's silk and it sticks to itself. This means that I had three seperate pieces of yarn: one that lasted a row and a half, one that lasted a row, and one that lasted about two rows. Yes, I am crazy.

Oh, one other thing before I go to drown my sorrows. I put on my Viennese Shrug tonight (because it was cold) and found a place where I didn't weave in the ends. I'm really not quite sure how I missed it since I've worn the shrug a few times since I knit it, but perhaps tomorrow that's something that I will attend to. Anyway, I'm off to drink. Oh, and yes, I have been knitting for just over a year. In fact, I bought the Vogue Knitting magazine that started the knitting madness a year ago in October. So, a year and a few months of knitting. And where has it gotten me? Stuck, with no yarn, on a Saturday night.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A New Year

The new year is the time to kick bad habits and start cultivating good ones, a time of renewal. It’s also a time of reflection. For me, it also happens to be the anniversary of a few things: this month I will have been faithfully blogging for a year, and I just passed my one year knitaversary. January, for me, is less a time of looking forward to new things, but a time of reflection on decisions that I have made and how well they have turned out. In that same spirit, I would like to spend some time here at the beginning of the year to reflect on the things that I knit over the last year, how well they turned out, and how well they’ve worn.

First, a list of things that I knit, broken down by category: Sweaters and Tanks: Fair Isle 101 pullover (drastically changed from the original,) Greek Pullover, Manly Sweater, Lotus Blossom Tank; Mittens: Latvian Mittens for me, Latvian Mittens for Stephen, Rib & Cable Mitts; Socks: Thuja for my dad, Jim, Stephen and me, Embossed leaves socks for me and my mom, Kew, Father and Son socks, Socks of my own pattern for Mike, Falling Leaves, Simply Lovely Lace Socks, Baby Socks galore, Fuzzy Feet for me, Stephen, Dave and Kim; Hats: Dragon hat, Center Square for Emily and Lori, Miss Dashwood, Baby Hats; Shawls, Shrugs and Scarves: Mini-Clapotis for me, Becky, my mom, Branching Out, Sharfik for my mom, Becky, me, Flower Basket Shawl, Viennese Shrug, Backyard Leaves Scarf, Scarf from recycled sari silk, Brooke’s Column of Leaves Scarf; Toys: Laura Jane Bears for Gwen and Anna, Norberta, Mr. Stegs for Noah and Donovan, Trice, Bronty for Donovan and Noah, Nautie for me and Stephen; Insane Delusions: Knit Bikini from SNB; Whimsical Designs: Knitted Tea Sets for Gwen and Anna, Lilies for both grandmothers, Perdita for me and Becky; Bags: Punk Rock Purse for me and Becky, Best Friend Bags for both grandmothers.

I think I will start with the first project on the list, the Fair Isle 101 Pullover. I changed just about everything about this pattern. I changed the yarn, which meant that I couldn’t do the fair isle portion of the pattern, so I replaced it with the lace leaf design from the Embossed Leaf Socks. I didn’t get gauge with the new yarn so I refigured all of the math in the pattern to convert it to the gauge I was actually getting. I literally rewrote the whole pattern as I went along. Luckily, it all worked out and the I like the way that the sweater fits me. So, that’s the first thing, I like the way the sweater fits me. I wear it pretty often. Usually once a week or once every two weeks, in colder weather. I also wear it to work with a dress shirt underneath. It’s very cute. In fact, the only complaint that I have about the sweater now that I’ve been wearing it around for a year is that the yarn does pill. It’s Mountain Colors Weaving Quarters in Juniper and it pills from the underarm all the way down the side where my arm rubs against the sweater. That being said, I can’t really complain, because the yarn is next-to-the-skin soft and hasn’t pilled anywhere else.

In other knitting news, progress continues on Ene’s Scarf. It’s going pretty well. The good thing about this pattern is that it’s really just two rows, repeated over and over again, with slight differences at the edges. The bad thing about this pattern is that it’s really just two rows, repeated over and over again. I knit on it, and I like it, but it is a bit monotonous where I am right now, in the middle. I am also making progress on the sickness front. I slept through the night last night without being woken at two a.m. with a coughing fit.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ene's Scarf: Progress Report

Well, there's not much new to report over here. I got my voice back this morning (really, it could have stayed away a few more days,) I finished the second repeat of the third chart on Ene's Scarf, and Stephen and I went to dinner last night at the "I'm Too Hot For You" restaurant. The ITHFYR is the one place in Spokane where we've ever been turned away ("we're only taking parties with reservations tonight") and where they always seat us next to the kitchen. Why do we keep going there? I'm not really sure but I think it might have something to do with the gorgonzola fries. Now that I think about it, it's probably good that we can only get in there about half the time.

As my rows for Ene's scarf get shorter and shorter I've started to stress about two things: how to wash it and how to weave in the ends. The label on the yarn specifically says "do not soak." But I really, really want to at least give it a good dip in some luke warm water. After doing some googling it seems that it probably instructs you not to soak because it is silk and soap breaks down silk. Therefore, if you soak silk in soapy water you can damage the silk. But what if I soak it in water with no soap? What if I just give a good dunk in some luke warm water? Will the silk magically disintegrate before my eyes? Will I strip it of something necessary? If you know, could you please tell me? As for the weaving in of the ends, I think I know what I'm going to do with that one. I'm just going to do my best to pick a wide patch of stockinette in the fabric and weave in my ends as usual. I am a little worried about the slippery silk yarn pulling out though, as I use the shawl, so I'm still considering my options there.

I am also continuing to improve from the flu, but I've been kept up the last couple of nights with a hacking cough, which fucking sucks. Hopefully, I will be able to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I usually don't make New Year's Resolutions, the same way that I usually barely make it to midnight on New Year's Eve. But this year, I thought about it a little and decided that maybe I wanted to make a couple. The first one is a two-parter and relates both to personal growth (like most resolutions) and also to the blog. I want to fulfill one of my childhood goals. I've always wanted to be a writer. At first, I wanted to write fiction, and then be a journalist, and finally, by the time I was done with middle school I wanted to write poetry. Obviously, my life has taken a different turn and I now know that even really good poets don't actually make a living writing poetry (with the possible exception of the current U.S. poet laureate, who not only is the poet laureate but also won the pulitzer prize for 2006.) That being said, I would still like to write some poetry and eventually have at least one poem published in a real publication. So, my first new year's resolution is to: 1. write a poem a week 2. submit my poetry, over and over again and 3. hopefully publish at least some of the rejects here. That was a three-parter, wasn't it?

My second resolution is more of a general resolution to make a change in my life. I'm back at work today after having been off for a few days (many of them lost to the flu) and it just makes me sad. I don't want to have to go someplace where I am sad all the time, so I either I need to change my attitude and start loving my job again, or I need to find a new job. I will be working on that.

Do you make new year's resolutions? Do you keep them? Do you have any that you would like to share?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Out of the Woods

I'm a human again. Instead of a sweating, snotting, coughing, whining, overheated alien. I both got dressed this morning, and brushed my hair. And showered. Happy day. The only lingering symptoms of my flu is that I have lost my voice (I can't really complain about that) and I am leaking snot like a sieve. Unfortunately I haven't been getting much knitting done since I've been sick. I did pick up my knitting yesterday and set it on my lap for about an hour. I even went so far as to take the point protector off of one needle. But I really couldn't knit. It just wasn't in me. And that's probably a good thing. I can only imagine what would happen if I knit on an empty stomach with 101 degree fever. I did manage to stay up until midnight, and then promptly went to bed. Since I was sick, Stephen and I decided to save the bottle of champagne for another night.

So far today I have already: dressed myself, showered, brushed my hair (quite an ordeal,) filled the dishwasher and turned it on, gone to the grocery store and sat down to blog. I'm doing pretty well. Pretty soon here I plan to bake some muffins in the new silicone baking vessels that my parent's got me for Christmas. I plan to make huckleberry-lemon.

Okay, I know that you are all wondering what knitterly things I got for Christmas. Well, I have to say that I did pretty well:

My mom gave me a little book of knitting patterns. Cute!
Stephen gave me: a skein of handmaiden sea silk (be still my heart,) Victorian Lace Today (beautiful!,) and Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman (my first Zimmerman book.)
Our friend Emily gave me Folk Mittens

I can't complain at all this year. In addition, Stephen got me the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I love it and already made dinner from it a couple of nights ago. In addition, we have heard again from the Alaska contingent and my MIL reports that she loves her Backyard Leaves Scarf and gets compliments on it wherever she wears it. My FIL's socks fit him (and he likes them) and my SIL likes her scarf as well. I haven't heard about the Fuzzy Feet yet, but I will assume that they are appreciated.

I have worked through the first skein of yarn on Ene's scarf, and the first repeat of the center chart. Hopefully I will make some progress on it today. If everything progresses well and I don't wear myself out, I plan to take pictures of my christmas yarn, books and Ene's Scarf and post them.

Locations of visitors to this page

<< *.* >>