Another Hobby Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Price of...

Lack of Planning?
All of the above.

Can you spot at least two things wrong in this picture?

I'll give you a minute to think about it while I tell you the story.

Y'see, I'd just finished the shawl, and was riding the bubble of my Knitting Olympic Gold Medal Success... (success)
and I really hate going out somewhere with no knitting to keep my hands busy. (fidgettiness)

We'd made plans to meet up with a friend for lunch and maybe do something like see a movie, so I grabbed for a bag of knitting to take with me, but discovered that my various projects on needles were all at stages of development that made them unsuitable for knitting in public during conversation.
The Mystery Shawl requires following a chart.
The alpaca feather-fan laceweight needs to be ripped back a bit to repair a problem.
The driving mitts need their cast-off edges ripped back and re-done.
The Sockapaloooza pattern swatch requires graph paper, good lighting, and some uninterupted time.
The tea cozy is still embryonic.
Fishes require shaping.
Most of the quick 'make anything with it' yarn are in skeins and require ball winding first.
The Stripey Scarf got blocked and declared finished.
The Pop-Up Paws need finger shaping and constant fittings.
The random-color sock #1 just turned the heel and will need fittings, pattern writing (to ensure the success of random-color sock #2) and toe shaping soon and probably won't keep me busy all afternoon.
The yarn for random-sock #2, whose cuff could be knit in a simple 2x2 rib for many inches without worry has been misplaced. I'd need to find a spare #2 circular, and I'd need to cast on.
(lack of planning + disorganization)

Realizing that we're already running late for our agreed meeting time, I grab the two closest things at hand. (impatience)

I end up with the embryonic tea cozy and the random-color sock.

(side 1)

(side 2)

Maybe I should have cast on stitches for the tea cozy at the lunch table. .. but the restaurant was pretty crowded, so I worked a few rows on the random-color sock instead.

We did see a movie after lunch: The Three Burials of Malchiades Estrada. It did not, in fact, have Antonio Banderas in it. Nor was it about hit-men. I think the movie reviews got confused somewhere along the way.

When we got to our seats, the houselights were already off, the previews were rolling, and there were actually quite a few patrons in the audience. Casting on stitches for the tea cozy was no longer an option. Should have done it at lunch. (lack of planning)

So I pulled out the random-color sock. (fidgetiness)

After all, it's just a 2x1 rib pattern in the round for the next few rows. It's on a circular needle, so I won't have to worry about stitches falling off the points of the fallow dp's. And it's fingering weight--I'll be able to feel the stitches under my fingertips. I should be able to knit it just fine in the dark. (hubris)

True, I'll have to stop when it's long enough that I should start the toe-shaping, but with fingering weight, that's quite a few stitches, and I still have a couple of inches to go... (first hint of trouble: rationalization)

I manage a few rounds with no problem. (success)

...and then I feel a tension problem with one of the stitches. I don't want to pull out my key-chain light because of all the other people sitting nearby. I figure it's probably a stitch that on the previous row got knitted into the row below. I'll knit it as if it were normal, and then when the movie's over, I'll just drop down that column and fix the problem. (second hint of trouble: denial)

Of course, I wouldn't get the chance to see this problem until after the houselights came back on. Since I knew where it was by feel, though, I took one of those handy plastic clip markers and slipped it into the problem stitch so it would be easy to find after the movie.

I kept knitting. (fidgettiness)

Do you know the sinking feeling you get when you realize that the needle you just pulled suddenly has no more friction on it? none at all? as if what you did just then was not pulling the needle forward through the stitches so that the stitches slid onto the cord, but rather pulling on the wrong needle so that the stitches all fell freely into space?

It's an even more profound feeling in the dark.

I'd had two stitch markers on that needle.. one was a plastic clip kind, the other was handmade and beaded. I hadn't heard the beaded marker hit the floor...

I checked my lap. I checked my seat. I risked the dropped popcorn and spilled drink spooge to check the floor for as far as I could feel. No stitch marker. Vanished.

I resisted the urge to pull out my handy key-chain light. (It was a gift from the boyfriend last year at Christmastime. I bet he didn't realize how appreciated it would be!) I figured I could look for it again when the houselights came back on.

With a heavy sigh I oh-so-carefully gathered up the random-color sock and the ball of yarn to tuck them back into my knitting bag.

In doing so, I found the missing stitchmarker. .. did you?

...that's not the proper way to use a closed-ring stitch marker!

I enjoyed the movie, btw. Thank goodness, because it would have been torture to sit through a movie I hated with no knitting for solace!

Doggie Olympics: Gold Medal Winner!

Knitting Olympics: Gold Medal!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stripey Scarf (Again)

I'm sure you remember The Stripey Scarf.

(Well, when I look back through my own blog, I realize that *I* didn't remember to post about it since Jan 14 (when I was hoping it would be finished by late March), so maybe you don't remember it either.)

I shouldn't have worried. I got the scarf finished within the week. Since the yarn had been knit into socks and then ripped and re-balled (and I hadn't skeined and soaked it), the yarn was all crimpy, and the pre-knitted parts of the scarf were weird-looking. I figured it would all come out fine with a wash and blocking, especially since the knitting had been done on a fairly loose gauge. But I had other laundry that took precedence, so The Stripey Scarf (with plenty of time before March) got set aside.

And then, a couple of weeks later, I found The Fourth Ball of yarn. I *thought* I'd had four balls of that color! but I'd only found three of them when I knit up the scarf. Hrmmmm....

So I set the ball of yarn with the finished scarf and pondered undoing the cast-off to unite the two. My brother likes very long scarves, y'see... scarves that he can let his girlfriend wear without having to take them off his own neck to do so.

The Stripey Scarf simply wasn't that long. An extra ball might make the difference, or it might not. The Stripey Scarf was a nice tidy length for wrapping around the neck once and letting the ends hang to the waist or so. It could probably use that third ball of yarn. And the stitching pattern was easy enough, after all...

After a while it became clear that I wasn't picking up The Ball of Yarn and The Stripey Scarf, and probably wasn't going to. I'd bought The Balls of Yarn at a super spectacular sale price before I'd realized that I simply don't like knitting with Regia. Don't like the feel. Maybe I'd weave with it. hmm. but I was simply actively unenthused about the prospect of knitting one more whole ball of Regia right now. Especially in That Colorway.

I'd been so overjoyed the day I finished The Third Ball of Yarn! Now I could only look at The Fourth Ball of Yarn with a feeling of dread.

So: The Stripey Scarf could just stay its nice tidy length and my brother could cope.



.....and then I washed it.





No, it didn't felt. (I'm sure you knew that.. superwash sock yarn and all...)
It grew.
Loose stitches, its own weight, plus the weight of the water...
It grew a LOT.

I had to block it in the only space long enough:

This scarf is now Four Dog-Lengths Long!
When I wrap it once around my neck, it hangs To My Ankles!!

I think I'm glad I didn't add the fourth ball of yarn.
I think my brother would disagree if he knew.
I think he'll like it anyway. :)
And it's done before March! yay!!

And remember what I said about having only one space I could be sure was big enough and dog-free enough to block my Martian Lake Cow shawl?

Well, when I blocked The Stripey Scarf yesterday, that space was being used to block the Martian Lake Cow shawl. Plus, The Stripey Scarf is somewhat longer than the Martian Lake Cow shawl. (I hadn't expected it to be, but it seems to have had other plans.)

So I had to use the hallway (which is much too narrow to block the Martian Lake Cow shawl anyway). The hallway is a rather important thoroughfare for all who live here. I can ask Bethieee and Keithr to perform myriad complicated contortions to walk around, over, and next to a blocking project like The Stripey Scarf, but the doggie, Z, simply refuses to comprehend.

Z believes that if a swath of fabric is on the floor, then it is, for the duration of its stay in that location, a validated, verified Puppy Blanket. (This might be my fault, since I have, in a pinch, used a wide variety of blankets, towels, rugs, and other floor coverings for Puppy Blankets at my house and when visiting others'.)

Realizing this (and the simple fact that while the Bethieee and the Keithr both love me and my projects well enough to perform said circus acts necessary to step over, under, and anywhere but ON a blocking piece of knitwork, they do not necessarily Enjoy doing so...), I took the care to position the blocking scarf as closely to the wall as possible.

See what happens?

Cuteness Olympics, I tell you. 24-7.

Knitting Olympics: Day 14 -- Swearing Reaches New Heights

You'd think, by now, with the knitting safely off the needles and all the ends woven in , there'd be nothing left to swear at.

But no! There's the final wash and blocking.

(No, I didn't felt it in the washer (Thank heavens!! What a misery that would have been!))

The washing went well (by hand with minimal agitation). Rinsing and spinning in the washing machine went fine (safely tucked into a lingerie net bag, of course!).

Pinning the critter out, however, is an entirely different story! Pinning the critter out requires KNEELING!

And remember who has an injured knee?

Guess whose knee is healed just enough to FORGET THIS FACT! OW@##!

I can now put weight on my knee. :)
But I CANNOT actually kneel. @###!OW$%!!

I can now curl my leg underneath me to sit crosslegged. :)
But I CANNOT then rock forward to reach for a pin. *&@#@OW@&*!!

I can knit a shawl in 14 days! :)
But I CANNOT BLINKING WELL BLOCK ONE!!! (&*&*#@!grumblecursemoan#!@!)

Luckily, Bethieee was willing to stay up past her bedtime to help me get the shawl pinned out to dry. :) Yay, Bethieee!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Doggie Olympics

Meanwhile, my doggie has been competing in his own version of the Olympics. He's been competing in the Cuteness event.

He's so dedicated to his sport, he even competes while sleeping!

Knitting Olympics: Days12, 13

The lace may be getting monotonous... except that I'm so close to the end, and now I've got the pattern memorized. Strike "monotonous," replace with "meditative" Yep, that's it.

Day 12, Wednesday:
Made good speed today:

Now that I've finally memorized the primary pattern, it's time to switch to an entirely new pattern: the edging. Argh!

Considering putting beads on the edging. Not sure yet.

Day 13, Thursday February 23:

Tried the beads, didn't like them. The lovely dark green beads practically disappeared. Not worth the effort. The bright pink beads stood out well enough, but I didn't like having beads only at the lower edge. If I decide to do a beaded shawl, I will want to have beads throughout the shawl, not just at the lower edge!

The edging was easy to adjust to! I got the shawl completed and off the needles!

This is my unblocked shawl next to Bethieee's blocking shawl of the same pattern. She used three different colors of Koigu PPPM. She enjoyed working the FiberTrends Leaf Lace pattern quite a lot, and that is what inspired me to choose the same pattern for my Knitting Olympic challenge.

The ends are woven in. All that remains is to wash and block it. I have to wait til tomorrow to pin it out because Bethieee has claimed the blocking space for her own projects today.

We only have one space in the house which meets three requirements:
1. big enough to pin out the project to be blocked.
2. dog won't step on it.
3. don't need to sleep on it before the project is dry.

Which means I'll be completed in time for the medal!! :) YAY!!!!!!! Blocking tomorrow!!!!! + drying time = Success!!! (...unless something horrid happens. Better not count the gold medals til they're all in the basket. or something like that.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Knitting Olympics: Day 11

This is today's progress:

Halfway through the edging stitches (the final bend! The finish line in sight!!) it became clearly undeniable that I simply hadn't reserved sufficient length for the full edging. I thought I had.. I did the math... I counted the number of motifs I got from the first ball of yarn (I left out the partial motifs, figuring that they would help balance the calculation in my favor), and used that to estimate the number of motifs I ought to be able to get from the second ball of yarn. From there, I estimated that I could get another four motif sets, or about 20 more rows before starting the edging.

Did I knit one motif set too many?
Did I use the heavier ball of yarn first?

Well, regardless of what went wrong, there was only one way to fix it: Rip.

I did briefly ponder switching to a different yarn for the edging.
I did briefly ponder cutting out part of the edging pattern.
I did briefly ponder throwing the entire shawl into the nearest lit fireplace.

And then I did what I had to do. I put in a lifeline the best that I could, and then I ripped. Eighteen rows. Two days progress. (You mean I could have been done with this project two days ago if only I'd started the edging in the right place??)

I feel like the pairs skaters that won the silver medal... after she fell hard and humiliatingly on a throw jump. Ow, that hurt! but she got back up and they recued the music, and they skated the rest of the program with flair.

I'm still getting back up.

Day 11 progress: +4, -18, +2 rows. Net progress: -12

Knitting Olympics: Swearing Reaches New Heights!

I've been getting very good at creating missed yarn-overs these days. In lace, I've been told, you can hardly tell the difference after it's blocked.

I've been getting very good at dropping back the couple of stitches necessary to K2Tog where I've missed doing so. In lace, I've been told, you can hardly tell the difference after it's blocked.

But when I discovered that the extra yarn-over occurred Four Rows Ago, several new turns of phrase were invented which sent the dog and the neighbors into hiding. (Well, actually, the dog was several states away, so I think he was spared. I have to imagine that he would have gone into hiding based on the reactions of the neighbors and the ground squirrels.)

I really didn't want to lose four rows of progress! At the rate I've been knitting, that's half a day to make up again!

So I decided to drop and re-knit just the section that was damaged. I figured that if it didn't work, I'd be dropping all the rows anyway... why not give it a try?

My mind is now a pretzel.

It took some creative visualization to get me through the process, but I was, surprisingly, able to drop back the problem area and re-knit it properly. The extra yarn was easily enough distributed through several neighboring stitches, and I'm swaddling myself in the firm belief that after it's blocked no one will ever be able to tell where it happened.

Soon enough I got the chance to do it all again. This time the mistake was a bigger one, with more rows between it and my needles:

This time I used a little plastic stitch marker as a tiny little lifeline so that the live stitches would not run too far.

The leaf-lace, it turns out, is a very forgiving lace to drop back. The central stem of each leaf motif makes a very stable edge to work from and gives a reference point for each row that's being repaired.

Post repair:

Even with the time-sink of the repairs, I was able to advance another 10 rows.

On Sunday I encountered an even bigger problem. This time when I dropped back the necessary stitches, look what happened!

How does a thread that is supposed to be travelling in a straight (albeit wavy) line across the knitting braid itself around two other rows??!

(Please don't answer that. My mind is already a pretzel.)

It turns out that fixing the problem required first dropping back even further:

Not the short section of lifeline (the white thread) woven in below the problem, just in case something drops and runs more than I'm ready for.

This time, each thread follows a clear and independent arc from one side to the other. No more braiding! .. in order to accomplish this, I had to drop the most recent K2Tog on the damaged side of the most recently worked motif's center line so that the threads would match up properly with the unworked motif on the far side of the damage.

Don't work too hard to comprehend that. My brain is a pretzel.

I'm trying to not be too picture-heavy, but I am going to indulge myself and throw in this one just to show the repair in progress! (because I'm proud of myself, after all...)

See! Instead of 8 arcing strands above the live stitches, there are now only 3! It really does work!! Like magic!

Finally repaired and ready to work forward again:

Days' Progress:

Friday, Feb 17: 8 rows.
(Airline aisles are not forgiving of persons who are walking with a cane.)
Saturday, Feb 18: 10 rows + 2 significant repairs.
Sunday, Feb 19: 8 rows + 1 Major repair.
Monday, Feb 20: 12 rows. Finished main pattern, started edging pattern.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Knitting Olympics: The Swearing Has Begun!

When I joined the Knitting Olympics, I signed up for the Swearing At Lace team. (Well, actually, I didn't sign up for the team, because I didn't realize at the time that there was a team to sign up for! But I did grab a copy of the button.)

I was pretty confident that trying to knit a full-size shawl from questionable handspun in sixteen days would involve at least one bout of swearing. And, actually, the initial cast-on contortions came close, but I think I was concentrating too fiercely to remember to swear.

Then several days of smooth knitting had me wondering if I'd joined the wrong team!

But no.
On Day 6, this happened:

and the swearing was voluminous. I'd knit six rows past the error AND JOINED A NEW BALL OF YARN!! before I'd seen the problem.

The yarn-overs of a full row are IN THE WRONG PLACE! They should be begining their next swoop. Instead, they're stacked directly in line with the ones preceeding them.

I thought about just leaving it there, but it would make the zigs of the lace holes all wonky.

I thought about dropping back for each set individually (for all 26 sets = 52 times), but the one that I tried developed tensioning issues.

I tried to run a lifeline through the purl row beneath the error, but the light-absorption qualities of Martian Lake Cow black made that nigh on impossible and gave me a massive headache.

So I tinked six rows. Six Rows of stitches all taken out one at a tedious time.

The progress so far (as of the recognition of the error, prior to pulling it back):

Day 6's progress* = 8 rows!
*(not including the 14 rows worth of ripping and re-knitting: that's the row itself ripped and reknit plus each of the six rows beyond it.)

The picture shows the shawl folded in half on the needles with the per-day-markers along the center spine.

Looking ahead:
I've done some preliminary math, and believe that I can get another four full leaf repeats before I start the edgings.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

SockapalOOOza: Yarn!

During this past couple of weeks while I've been staying home and nursing my hurt knee, I've been fretting about what yarn I will use for my SockapalOOOza project. I looked in my stash first, but the colors that I have on hand just didn't feel right for this recipient. I wanted something firey and bright, and I collect mostly cool and watery or rainbow-bright.

I also have a bee in my bonnet to do colorwork. I'm envisioning stunning firey colors on a solid black ground.

So I do what I can: I get online and start looking for yarn that matches my concept.

Now maybe yarn isn't quite as bad as fabric, I'm kinda new to the field, and I'm not sure how fast the turnaround in color and texture really is. In quilting and fashion design, however, a particular special fabric might only be seen once. Ever. Yarn seems a little more stable than that (except once you get into the handspuns...)

But I think it might still be a disadvantage to start with an end-goal in mind and then try to find the materials to make it happen.

Before long I was wondering if I'd be stuck dyeing the yarn myself.

And then I started wondering HOW I'd dye the yarn myself with a knee that won't bend right.

And then my Angel of Mercy shows up with THIS:

Isn't it just Perfect?!
Thank You, Bethieee!

Next step: gauge swatches and pattern planning.

Valentines Wrap-Up

All in all, Valentine's Day was a smashing success. :) Many e-cards and e-mail greetings arrived from my fabulous online friends! You know who you are! Thank you!!! thank you thank you thankyou!!!

Our preparations started two weeks in advance--gathering up little tidbits for the packages we put together and sent out, writing little notes and cards, eating too much candy...

Which reminds me! All of the boxes that we sent out were actually a joint effort between Bethieee and I. :) Some of the boxes and cards got noted that way, others did not.

By now most of the Valentine giftieee boxes should have reached their destinations. If you got something that didn't seem quite right, I'm sorry. I was kinda hurting from the knee thing, and I may have gotten a bit distracted.

I usually put each box together independently, tape it up, and address it completely before starting the next person's box, but this time around I was pressed for time, and I did them in batches. Whenever I do that, I always worry that I'll put the wrong address on a box.

I think that I did once, actually... I'm pretty sure the Wizard of Oz stuff went where the Turtles were supposed to go, and the Turtles went where the Wizard of Oz stuff was supposed to end up!! If y'all are still reading this blog, you probably know what I mean. I am so sorry! Please forgive me!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Knitting Olympics Update: Day 4 and 5

Day 4: Monday, February 13: 14 rows.
Day 5: Tuesday, February 14: 16 rows.
At this point, it's a nice little capelet. Blocked, it'd probably be a nice little shawl.

I'm well on my way to meeting my personal goal. :)

Other Olympic efforts:

Puzzle: stalled a bit. I fit five or six more pieces together, but didn't have the focus to really connect with it.

Laundry!: I'm back in the household chore competition! 4 loads completed between yesterday and today, even with the knee injury. :)

Cookies!: I made (with Keithr and Bethieee's help) 4 batches of sugar cookies for valentines day knitting group. :)

Healing: I walked the dog today. All the way around the block. It's a long block. Reworded--I walked a full mile today. It took me twice as long as usual, but I did it! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Aren't they gorgeous?! I'll share them with you, just in case you didn't get any of your own.

The doorbell awoke me on Sunday morning, and after a long, arduous, painful walk down the stairs, I was greeted by 2 dozen apricot roses! Yay!! All the pain worth it! :)

Turns out I needed two vases!
One dozen of the roses are for me!! The other dozen are for the Bethieee!!! Don't I have the sweetest boyfriend* ever?!

*My husband, when he married me, was not allowed to relinquish the status of boyfriend. ;) My boyfriend still sends me flowers.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Update: Knee Injury

This was me on Super Bowl Sunday:

Notice the big grin from proving I can still ski! Really. I can, actually.
Notice the ball of yarn I had with, even when skiing, to keep me company --Just In Case.
Notice the nice warm coat Kat bought for me for Wisconsin and the borrowed ski-pants from a very nice co-worker of Bethieee's. Kept me very warm despite the amount of time I spent sitting on the snow. (prior to the injury I had fallen about 15 times. Most of them NOT on the slopes, might I point out. Only 2 falls occurred on the downhill runs. The other 13 occurred in or close to the ski lift lines where embarrassment would be maximal. Doh!)
Notice the nifty cardboard splint the Ski Patrol gave me! I drove us to the slopes, but I had to sit crosswise in the back seat for the ride home. I guess I'm glad I checked in at ski patrol because otherwise I might have tried to shrug it off and say I wasn't really injured at all. After all, I'd gotten myself down the rest of the hill...
Notice the little green sock poking out of the nifty cardboard splint. That sock is my SET sock, knitted for me by Cindy! That's right, the sock and I went skiing!! :) The sock helped keep me very toasty-warm and feeling pampered even after I got myself hurt. There were even a couple of compliments on it from the ski patrol! :)

Then the 24 hour swelling curve hit. Once I got home and settled in on the couch I started realizing exactly how sore I was. All over. Muscle stiffness and soreness in all the rarely-worked muscles, even my shoulders! All dwarfed by the ache in my left knee. For the first couple of days I cancelled all my appointments and errands because all I was up for was sitting on the couch. I would have been just as happy spending the day in bed, but once I got down to the couch I realized there was no way I was going back up the stairs to bed again. Besides, all my knitting was downstairs next to the couch, and carrying things wasn't really an option.

Advil and an Ace bandage helped.

These days my knee is improving steadily. Yay! Today I can sit cross-legged again for very short periods of time. I can walk up the stairs with one foot per step! (I still need to go downstairs one step at a time with both feet collecting on the step before I take the next one.) I even drove the car a little ways yesterday!!! It's a manual transmission, and pressing the clutch really wore out my knee very quickly.

I still can't kneel, but I can sit on the ground and get back up again. It's about as graceful as an eaglet falling out of its aerie, but I can do it. :) I can also walk a bit without needing the cane for every step, so I can carry things (like my lunch from the kitchen to the couch! No more standing in front of the fridge to wolf everything down. I can eat leisurely again like a civilized being!)

I still can't extend my knee fully, nor can I fold it completely. And it won't tolerate twisting at all. But it's going to heal, and I am *so* happy about that!

Today I put in the first load of laundry since Super Bowl Sunday!! (massive cheering) I can't begin to explain how happy that makes me.

Advil still helps.

Innovative Use #3:

dog's nose = weather indicator

We have carpets at our house, and some days our long-haired dog just sparkles with static electricity. Touch his nose: spark. Let him lick your hand: spark. Poor thing!! ... but it occurs to me: those would be the perfect days in this all-too-often-humid climate to make meringues and divinities. Yum!

Good puppy! Let me pet you.. c'mere!

Innovative Use #2:

hair dryer = label remover

Do you like to reuse boxes for shipping things out in the mail? Do you, like myself, hate sending out your name and address in the form of a previous shipping label?

I have found that many (not all, sadly) sticky labels can be removed cleanly from many (particularly heat-resistant) surfaces once you've heated the label for a few moments to warm up the adhesive. :)

Martian Lake Cow: Camouflauge

As I was working on my knitting this afternoon, I got very caught up in the rhythm, and didn't want to stop even long enough to turn on the lights. I was working with the daylight streaming through the window, and even as it waned, I simply didn't notice an increase in difficulty, so I just kept stitching away, concentrating my best on each stitch on the needle. (Has anyone else had the experience of knitting lace stitches in black yarn?)

Some time passes, and my husband comes into the room. "Honey.. why are you knitting in the dark?" he asks as he flips on a light switch.

The question confuses me for a moment. I look up at him, squinting into the can-lights behind his head. (blinkblinkblink?) Then I look down at my knitting again. Nope. Still can't see the stitches.

The phenomenon intrigued me, so I did some research.

One scientist claims that this is another breed characteristic of the Martian Lake Cow--a trait of camouflauge it apparently developed for survival. Objects can be percieved in many ways, he says, but they are seen by the light that bounces off of them. Martian Lake Cow fiber is apparently better than average at maximally absorbing light, thereby lending it a similitude of invisibility. This protects the stubborn Lake Cow from predators while they stand beside their dusty mud-puddles throughout the dry season.

Another scientist disagrees. He blames the light-absorbing trait on the planet's thin atmosphere and the ancient depths of the Martian lakes. He claims that the trait was necessary to absorb the warmth and life-sustaining light of the sun while the lake cows swam deep into the lakes to avoid predators and to forage for food at the lake bottoms.

Either way, it may help explain how the fiber batt could sit unnoticed beside the dog's bowl for the better half of a year.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Knitting Olympics Update: Day 3

Go ahead-take a guess: I'm putting together a puzzle with a picture of *what* exactly? pine needles?

I'll give you a minute to think about it while I share the progress of the day. I'm putting together a puzzle because I really needed something at least as captivating as my knitting to work on during the mandatory rest breaks for my wrists. "Just one more piece..." is almost as compelling as "just one more row..."

As for the knitting, I'm really getting comfortable with the lace pattern. I only had to rip back 6 rows today because I started on the wrong line of the pattern. Doh! Even so, the shawl is steadily growing.

Each of the plastic clips on the center line marks one day's progress. I expect the clips to get closer together with each day because the shawl is growing by two stitches every even row.

The white thread marks the change of needles from Clover 6 (4.25mm) to Addi Turbo 6 (4.0mm) I'm really hoping that doesn't bite me later, but so far I'm just not seeing a reason to worry, so I'm leaving it in.

Ready for the answer now? The image in the puzzle?

Yah, that's right.. I've put together all the easy parts already. (sigh)

Knitting Olympics Update: Day 2

Our intrepid athlete, Peacock, having chosen a project she has never attempted before, in a yarn she barely completed on time, having no idea how fast she knits or how well her body will hold up to the strain of the intensified knitting, seems to be off to an impressive start.

Inspired by her roommate's Leaf Lace Shawl, Peacock settled on that pattern as the one to use. After all, it had already been test-knit by a member of the team, right?

Aided by a knee injury (can't get bored and wander around, obviously), Day 1's progress went smoothly. (After a long fuss and several ripped attempts at the gosh-darn very first step. Strange cast-on/first seven rows, but worth it once you get it working.)

With barely dry skeins of yarn nicely wound into balls, she settled down with the pattern in hand and realized with a sinking feeling that she was missing something crucial! NO Knitting Needle!!! Well, there might be one somewhere, in the shrug that hasn't been completed from last year... (dig,dig,dig,curse!)

Bethieee's SP6 spoiler to the rescue!! As it happens, one of Bethieee's SP6 boxes held a size 6 Clover circular! Thank you, Cheerio!! With it, Peacock was able to cast-on the actual yarn and begin knitting. :)

At the end of the day she realized she'd done more knitting than her hands could endure. The bottom length of her left thumb and the bottom length of her right forefinger were both crying out for ice-packs and Advil. Still, the results for the first day are pleasing.

To ease the strain to her hands and wrists, Peacock employed several tactics:

1. new needle: switch to an Addi Turbo because the cord that connects the needles is much more flexible than the Clover brand and the metal needles allow easier slippage for the stitches. (this can be a problem if you're prone to having your stitches slip off the needles when you don't want them to!) Bethieee brought the new needle in after her yarn foraging expedition. Thank You Bethieee!! :)

2. Advil, and alternating hot and cold packs.

3. stretching. in advance, during, and after each knitting session.

4. longer breaks away from the knitting using other hand-motions. To this end, Peacock began putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. :)

5. PUT AWAY THE BEAD-KNITTING*!! It will be there when the Olympics are over.

*(I got a recent bee up my bonnet to try some bead-knitting now that my hands are so much better. Looking back, I should have been able to forsee the problem with the timing. Doh!)

Looking forward to more progress tomorrow!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Year of the Dog Postcards

While I take a much-needed break from my Olympic Knitting, let me show you the wonderful set of postcards that arrived in my mailbox thanks to Little Mochi's Year of the Dog Postcard Exchange!

They came from many countries:
Australia, Canada, Sweden, Spain, and the US,
and many states:
New York, Ohio, California, Massachussets, Kentucky, and Missouri.
I love them all. Each one has something special about it, and I really want to say Thank You to each and every artist that took part in the exchange.

Click on each image to visit the artist's website. :)
Here they are in no particular order:

My own contribution. A picture of Zhenya sniffing the irises in my front yard, embroidered with needlepoint, photoshopped with frames onto a handwoven background, printed onto photo paper and then fused onto cardstock. I also gave them a treatment to help keep the ink from running if they get wet.

What I really love about this one is the graphic simplicity of it, along with the visual and tactile layering of the collage. At first I didn't even see the dog on the ribbon! But it's so very successful and I love it more each time I look at it. :)

This one has so much handmade charm! From the printed gingham background fabric to the felt bird, dog, and fortune cookie. From the touches of hand embroidery for the lettering and on the flowers to the pinked edges of the card itself! This card feels like a warm hug, a fresh cookie, and a tall glass of milk.

I love the ingenious use of materials in this card. Sadly a couple of the tiles didn't survive the mail, but now it amuses me to ponder whether it originally said "happy" or "yappy" new year!

The layering of this card is very intriguing. I love running my fingers over the surface to feel all of the textural differences, and visually I like the composition and the contrasts of images and text!

The composition of this card is so reminiscent of vintage advertising styles that at first glance I almost tossed it in the bin! I'm so glad that I realized my mistake, because it is so very cute!

This is the cutest little cartoon/drawing! So full of youthful energy and focus. I love the little doggie running from the little girl with pigtails... the drawing style reminds me of a book that I loved when I was just learning to read!
(check footnote)

Can you get any cuter??!
This puppy is so cute I want to kiss the postcard!
Beautiful layout, too. :)

Another fabulous collage. I love the rice paper and the stitching and the hand-lettering and the sketch of a bone... lovely.

This is a felt storyboard collage! with a handmade doggie pin that says "Feliz Anno Nuevo 2006" and another little button pin that is the cutest little doggie face! (Bethieee claimed it. She's in love with its adorableness. :) Not only did this artist send a postcard, but she also sent a couple copies of her newsletter along with it! and the sweetest note handwritten on the postcard!!!

I love the stuffed "doggie" on this postcard. I don't think I would have recognized it as a dog if I hadn't known the theme of the exchange, but that is simply NO reason not to love it! It looks friendly and adorable and warm and cuddly which definitely qualifies it for dog-hood in my book. Great job with the stuffed critter! and with the execution of the postcard itself, too. :) It looks like the print job itself might even have been professional! Wow!

Favorite childhood book: Cat and Dog

Knitting Olympics Update: Training Completed!

And just in time.

At 12:00 midnight, the evening before the Olympics are to begin, our determined though injured athlete, Peacock, finished spinning the last of the Martian Lake Cow fiber and soaked it to set the twist--a daring move considering it would take an indeterminate time for the fiber to dry!

Conditions are in her favor, it seems, as when the bathroom door is left closed all night, the heater vent in the bathroom turns the room into quite an oven an effective drying chamber.

With thirty minutes before the official start time (2:00pm local), Peacock has skeins of fiber, an adequate needle (Clover circular, size 6 snagged from one of Bethieee's SP boxes. Thank you, Cheerio!), a gauge swatch knitted up, and a pattern chosen!

Peacock will be knitting:
The FiberTrends Leaf Lace Shawl
on a size 6 circular needle
from Martian Lake Cow fiber
spun to a 2-ply fingering-weight yarn. (approx 24 wpi)

Let the Games Begin!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Martian Lake Cow Fiber Calves

It turns out that the Martian Lake Cow imparts yet another breed-trait to its fiber:

in this rare photograph, you can see for yourself the neps
fiber-calves yanked out in frustration and flung on the floor
stampeding away from the bobbin of spun yarn

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Martian Lake Cow,

unlike its nomadic distant cousin the Martian Mountain Cow, is a stubborn, territorial creature resistant to change.

A Martian Lake Cow leaves its home precisely once. When a young calf reaches maturity it is chased from its natal home by its irate mother (who no doubt wants her space back for yarn storage). Bellowing horrifically, the calf races blindly across the terrain until it collapses in exhaustion. When it recovers, it heads for the nearest source of water and never again leaves it.

Martian Lake Cows living at the water source adopt the young arrivals into their own herds where the young calves take mates, raise new calves, and continue the cycle. On the whole, these herd-affiliated Martian Lake Cows lead rather contented lives.

One would suppose, from the name "Martian Lake Cow" that one should look for the species in the canals and waterways of Mars. This is not the case. It is far more common to find a solitary old grumpy Martian Lake Cow standing on a patch of dry ground bellowing insults at another Martian Lake Cow standing on another patch of dry ground not more than a few feet away.

The reason for this is quite simple: most young calves are not lucky. Instead of a populated lake, the very first water a wandering calf finds is more likely to be a puddle created by the recent rainy season in the footstep of one of the blindly stampeding calves. And even if that puddle dries up, the territorial Martian Lake Cow will spend the rest of its unhappy life guarding that patch of dry ground rather than admit, even to itself, that it couldn't identify a lake.

When enough Martian Lake Cows have congregated in a particular marshy area, one might suppose that the combined weight and footsteps, during the rainy season, might create a new lake, but this has yet to be documented by reputable scientists.

Since the habitat of the grown Martian Lake Cow is so unpredictable, the Martian Lake Cow produces an equally unpredictable coat. It has guard-hairs of up to seven inches in length, and downy neps as short as a quarter inch. It has hair that is smooth, coarse, crimpy, and slick. Spinning the coat of a Martian Lake Cow is truly an unrivaled experience.

Not only that, but, very much like its distant cousin the Martian Mountain Cow, the Martian Lake Cow passes its temperment into its coat. Where the Martian Mountain Cow's fleece takes on the nomadic spirit of the breed, the Martian Lake Cow's fleece simply refuses to move or change.

Case in point: the 8oz batt of Martian Lake Cow fleece I have in my custody for the NWRSA fiber exchange has been sitting quite solidly and stubbornly in my living room next to the dog's water bowl for the past eight full months. It has steadfastly refused all encouragements to change. It refused the glimmering beads I offered it. It refused the opportunity to be plied with varigated silk thread. It simply would not hear of being decorated, enhanced, or toyed with in any manner.

At length I caved in and adapted myself to the Martian Lake Cow Fleece's own simplistic nature. For starters, I brought the spinning wheeel into my living room and set it up next to the dog's water bowl. From there, I was able to coax the fiber into something resembling yarn.

Tonight I finished the fourth bobbin of Martian Lake Cow singles. Tomorrow I ply. I should get a finished laceweight yarn in time to cast on for the Olympics.

The next decision will be the pattern. I've been dreaming about something fancy with several integrated lace patterns and maybe some beads... but this is Martian Lake Cow fiber, and I've realized that it refuses to stray far from tradition. I wonder if I'll be able to coax it into a modified Feather and Fan....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Knitting Olympics Update:

Competitor undaunted by unfortunate injury!

I've discovered that I can operate my double-treadle wheel with one foot!! YAY! that means I'm still in training for the Knitting Olympics!!! :)

I have a backup plan if necessary, but I signed up for the knitting olympics with the idea of finishing the spinning of my NWRSA exchange fiber in time to cast-on during the opening ceremonies on the 10th.

I was really feeling downhearted about that plan going awry because of my knee until my husband asked if I couldn't use my spinning wheel with just one foot on the treadle. I started explaining that while the equiptment would work that way, I probably wouldn't be getting the same results as I had for the first two bobbins.... and then I realized -- AHA! -- I'm at the exact halfway point when this happened, and I have always been planning to ply the first bobbin with the third and the second bobbin with the fourth!! If there is any difference in the spin, it will at least be distributed consistently throughout the finished yarn through the plying process!!!

Yay! thank you, husband! you're a genius. :)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Innovative Use #1:

A sturdy shower rod makes a surprisingly effective walking cane.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


1/2 tank of gas: 20.00

Lift tickets and ski rentals: 150.00

Ice pack and cardboard splint from Ski Patrol: Priceless.

Happy SuperBowl Sunday

(for those of you who care about football.)

Me, I'm going skiing.