Monday, October 31, 2005

A Monstrous Mish-Mash 

Thanks everyone for all your nice comments about the pottery!

We love the process, and we are loving our little products. All those knitters and spinners out there know how good it feels to use something you made with your own hands, something that isn't exactly like anything out there, something that feels exactly right and sensuously tactile in your hands.

Although it still hurts (just a wee, wee bit) when I have to throw out a pot because I just trimmed a big ol' hole in it. But since I have plenty of experience ripping nearly done but not quite right hand knit garments I can be a big girl about it.

And I love that feeling of pushing the clay down on the wheel, having it centered and solid. I wish somebody could do that to me.

In an unexpected plus, just these few pieces have drastically decreased the amount of daily dishes. Instead of using a bowl, setting it in the sink, later getting another, setting it in the sink...I keep rewashing our two bowls and we are sharing the mug. The dogs go through more dishes than we do now.

The Amazing Doo-dad

I bought this little thing at Powell's bookstore in Portland and now I live in fear that I'll lose it and have to drive all the way back up there to get another one. And given how I get lost, that'll take the rest of my unnatural life. The Chosen People got nothin' on me.

I can't find it anywhere on their website and I tossed the packaging in Portland so I don't know what brand name it runs by. I seem to remember it being something silly.

It's the simplest thing, like a doubled T shape paper clip, but it rocks my world. I love being able to knit and read; before I had to pin a paperback on a clipboard and their screams of agony from their cracking paper spines haunted me when I closed my eyes at night.

While this holds the book open and somewhat flat, it's not as rough on the spine.

Here's what it looks like, waiting for the next Terry Pratchett:

Okay, so what's my point? Please, if anybody knows what the heck this little thing was called so I can get some more, I'd be much obliged.

Some Knitting Going On

I set down Tahoe's sweater 'cuz I started worrying about messing it up. Life's too short to stress about knitting, so I picked up something easier:

This corkscrew scarf pattern is a good one for knitting while reading. Once you've done a few wedges, you feel it all in your fingers and don't need to look at it at all.

I'm not really sure I like it in this yarn though. It's a really luscious soft 50% superfine alpaca, 50% pima cotton from Class Elite that I bought at The Naked Sheep in Portland and dyed with indigo (lots of little flaky chunks are still in the yarn, and a faint gerbilpiddle scent lends authenticity) and dipped in fustic in an attempt at a blue-green variegated skein, and I'm not sure I like how it turned out. I'd hate to overdye it with synthetics though, somehow that seems wrong.

I noticed that a fair amount of people are brought to my journal by the search string "loop-d-loop ruffled scarf free pattern" or some variation thereof.

There's a couple of free ruffled scarf patterns out there that are fairly similar, one in pdf form from Knitscene that seems a damn sight more complicated than it needs to be, and one from Crystal Palace done lengthwise, but I haven't seen any exactly like it. Certainly none as easy and dead simple once any fear of short rows is conquered.

So here's some hints, and if you can figure out how it was made by the hints and pics, than good for you.

If you can't, but you're still dying to make it, I really do suggest you splurge on the book. Overstock.com has it for under $20, but it's well worth the thirty clams retail from your local independent knit shop.

It's a very pretty book, despite some of the odd expressions on the models' faces (is he $hitting his pants or being "sexy"?) and my favourite thing is that while the patterns are fun, and some are silly and border on the "er, um, yes, you can knit that, but, er, why?" variety it's more about the techniques and fostering a flexibility of thinking, using standard design techniques in a bit of a new way (steeks, short rows) and simple variations to make something very different. Sometimes I don't like the way it looks, but I really like that approach.

Anyway, here's a pic of two pattern repeats.

It's just a series of wedges created by short rows, all pointing in the same direction to make that addictive to knit spiral.

It's all garter stitch, not even picking up and knitting the wraps. Super, super simple, no picking up stitches, or increasing and decreasing or anything tedious like that. Of course, I guess even wedge-shaped garter stitch can get tedious, but the novelty still hasn't worn off for me. A f-cking fabulous stashbuster pattern, it doesn't take a ton of yardage, even if you are trying to worry about gauge and exactly recreating the pattern and all that palaver. It works well no matter how many stitches you cast on, once you've got the short row wedge thing down.

Anyway, I thought I'd explore a different style of short rowing and better familiarise myself with the shaping of a sock, as I've really only ever completed one miserable looking baby sock in horrid pink acrylic--oh, look! There it is, being used as waste yarn for a provisional cast on! Ick yarn, it squeaks when you work with it but it was so soft in the ball. We've all been there, eh?
It's barely worthy to be waste yarn next to the fun Tanglewood handspun (really pushing the yarn snobbery envelope there, I think):

I'm going to go up a needle size or two, I think. I wanted a thick sock, but it's a bit much on US6s. Plus, I messed up picking up the stitches. I was following a pattern (for a baby sock) and the stitches to be picked up were way too few for the length of the flap, although up till then all was working well fit-wise. I'm going to swatch a bit more and restart using a fair bit of guidance from this web document.

Speaking of screwing up following a pattern & picking up stitches, I'm having an absolute c&nt of a time picking up the right amount of stitches for the collar of my Noro Butterfly.

I've done at least six attempts and I wobble back and forth between way too few picked up, way too many picked up, and close to the amount called for in the pattern but worrying that the distribution is uneven and I'll knit the danged thing lopsided.

I also messed up on the garter stitch edging for the fronts. Yeah, I forgot to do them. Completely missed it in the pattern.

I even thought to myself, "huh, in the picture they have garter stitch edges. Stupid bastards forgot to mention that in the pattern, eh?

No, some other unnamed stupid bastard needs to pay a little more attention to the details. Chalk it up to the drawback of a dead easy pattern repeat, it kind of lulls you into that state of, "la, la, dee dah, I got this down, it's flowin', da da da...more of the same, just like the back & the sleeves, dee-diddle-deedle..."

I didn't even see the "missing" instructions until I was almost done with the second half of the front. D'oh!
I'm hoping to get away with single crochet to keep it from rolling and clean up the edge.

Ooh, speaking/typing of crochet, I'm signing up for a lesson at Lakeside Knits on Thursday. It's only fifteen bucks for an hour and half and I've been telling myself I need to learn more than just single crochet, but every time I sit down to read a crochet pattern I suddenly find something else which urgently requires my attention.

I may crochet nothing more challenging than a buttload of coasters, but I'm looking forward to it. And completely refraining from making any jokes about becoming a hooker. I'm a sex professional thank you very much.

Okay, one last knitting thing. Tahoe's sweater is bugging me.

BTW, I even have a whole book of sweaters for dogs (and half of the southwestern blanket sweater in a bag somewhere), but I saw Ellie's and I had to take a stab at doing my own non-boringly ribbed in the round version. So I blame Mary. ;P

I measure his chest at one moment and, "oh no, start the shaping for the legs and turning it NOW!" And I measure again, and, "oh, a few more inches before I have to worry, don't want it to be too tight." Dammit. It depends on whether he's sitting up or laying down (the default state of the hound). I resolve to stop worrying and just knit it. I am definitely digging the way it's striping up and how good it feels in my hands.


I had a couple of dyeing days this weekend, and I actually dyed in colors other than blue and green.

I took a whole bunch of pics that look awful, but there's a lot of flame colorway, some cherries and plums, and this cool black purple russet kettle dyed skein of Louet's thick and thin 100% wool. I'm almost positive this is the same yarn that Colinette uses. I've been told they have a mill of their own, but it looks the damn same to me.

I also made an expensive stupid mistake:

Aaaaaaaaah!!!!Acidified water in my ph paper, gah! Ten bucks down the drain (though not really, as I feel I got a fair amount of use before I wrecked it. But I hate it when I do something so careless and stupid that costs me money, instead of my usual pain-and-embarrassment variety of consequences).

Luckily there's a rawfood place nearby that stocks it, so I don't have to place an order with Dharma Trading just for that.

Web Twaddle

I've been fiddling with building an online shop of my own. I spent over an hour today building a table for the front page that ended up looking...just awful. Really, no words.

I really like the simplicity of Hello Yarn's site, who's actually doing a lot of the same stuff I'd like to do (and doing it a lot better obviously ;)).

Anybody out there want to share with me their favourite shop sites, and maybe a little bit of why they like the way it looks? Ease of use, cleanliness of line...it's all stuff I'm going for but I'm such a clutterbug, even in web design.

I downloaded OSCommerce (what handpaintedyarns.com uses) and for some reason it really bugged me, it didn't feel like home at all, even though it's really easy to use and has a ton of nifty calculators and trackers and whizzbang doodads. It just seems like a great interface if you're selling machines or sunglasses or some mass produced product, but it doesn't have that organic, light, sentient, human feeling that Hello Yarn has.

Anyway, I hope everybody had a good Halloween. Because of the dogs we set up an honour system basket hanging from a tree outside our gate...if we were in a cartoon there'd be a huge box above it, it looks quite suspicious just hanging there, like any second it's going to trigger a Wile E. Coyote style trap.

I definitely didn't see any costumes as cute as these.


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