More Motivation

November 29, 2005

I'm still working along on the white sweater, and while I feel so close to done, the last stages are taking forever. The shoulders were originally bound off in the stairstepped rib shown below.

The resulting seams were particularily egregious. I initially tried using a kitchener stitch, then a straight seam, but the ribs didn't match up and it looked terrible. I can't say that this pattern has been stellar on the details. So, I ripped it back and reknit it with live stitches and matching ribbing so that I could do a three needle bindoff, which looks much better.

Then, I picked up the stitches for the ribbed collar and started knitting away. It's taken longer than expected, and every time I try it on I decide to knit "one more inch". One of these days, I ought to be getting close. And after Thanksgiving, where I stayed with my wonderful aunt Carol, I now have added impetus to finish quickly. She has been making beautiful beaded jewelry for ages, and when I admired a pair that somehow hadn't sold in her last show, she gifted me with them. Wow!

They're particularily lovely with this sweater, which is so cool because I didn't have anything to match it. And such a pretty shape and perfect length. I'm delighted by them.

So, I have "one more inch" of the collar, seaming the two sleeves to the body (they're already sewn into tubes), and sewing in the zipper, and the earrings will be ready to wear. :-)

Cross one off the list!

November 28, 2005

I've always been a believer in keeping things more-or-less in their place, and then succumbing to organizing fits when they strike. I've kind of been due for one recently, especially with the addition of new shelves and a recent room re-organization. When Kevin was building his computer, we also switched our desks, so that now I fit in the alcove, and his desk T's against the wall. That move created a ton of paper and debris, and I hadn't gotten around to sorting everything. I bought a new set of shelves (to hold the new printer!), and had gotten them set up, but still had stacks of paper piles around them. Before leaving for Boston, a mood finally struck and so I stayed up way too late and finally got everything in its place. I was able to recycle the printer box entirely filled with unneeded paper, get everything into binders, send off a ton of mail, and clear my desk of about 20 post-it's worth of to-do lists. Utterly satisfying. By that point it was a bit past three and I still had three complete and empty shelves to fill, so I started in on the college-textbook/sewing-and-knitting/postcard-collection/random-unfiled-memories corner of the room. A mere two hours later, it was all folded, filed, or recycled away. I have a good forty books to either throw away (the Visual Studio 2000 users manual) or sell. Does anyone know of a good used bookstore in the Seattle area? I'd love to do one trip!

Near the bottom of that pile, I found my red fingerless gloves. They've been sitting there (at 95%, according to my progress bars) since January 28th. I started them with the last bit of the red Cotton Fleece, just to finish out the football season. (By now, this yarn can be credited with two Superbowl championships and a World Series for Boston. Not bad.) The pattern was of my own invention, and relied heavily on three lace patterns from my stitch reference. After starting the second glove, I realized that I would never finish with the amount of yarn I had left, so I shortened the first one to give it a better shot. That's where the project stalled.

So, with adrenaline at 5am, I picked up the needles, found my pattern notes, and started knitting again. This time I ran out of yarn right before putting the back of the hand and the palm on holders to work the thumb. I blocked the thing before finally heading to bed, then sewed it up once I got back. I think if I modified the fern lace to be four stitches wider, and subtracted that from the 2-stitch purl borders on each side, this would be a fun sampler-pattern to work on again.

Here are the tops:

I love how the lace pattern makes the arm-edge scallop.

And here are the palms:

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2005

We're back from our week in Boston, which was as wonderful as expected. (We saw family! And the city! And my church! And it snowed!) Somehow I managed to get home without taking my camera out of my bag once, so the only picture I have of the trip at the moment is the *pretty* yarn I bought at A Good Yarn a few hours before we left. A scarf, perhaps? It would suit, given how incredibly cold Seattle has gotten in our absence. :-)

Halfway done

November 18, 2005

Since the pattern fiasco on Monday, I've been working on recovering the progress I thought I'd made. I'm finally back to the shoulder decreases. I won't have much knitting time tonight, but it's finally a reasonable goal again to have this blocking by bedtime.

I took a few rushed photos this morning. The color didn't come out at all in either of them, I think because of the mohair halo. I'll have to try again later -- in reality, it's the same tone but much darker. So neither of the pictures are stellar, but here's the progress with the flash and stitch detail (left) and without the flash for cable detail (right).

For all the angst, I'm still enjoying this sweater a lot, and loving the yarn. I'm still not entirely sold on mohair for future projects, but the yarn is so soft and, well, bulky to knit with that I'm not regretting my choice, even though I've been covered in grey fuzz for the last few weeks (it looks like I've been wrestling a rabbit).

I've asked before, but is seaming a bulky sweater any different from seaming regular knits? It seems to me (no pun intended) that sewing everything up with the bulky yarn would create an incredibly thick and obnoxious seam. What alternatives do you know of? I've heard of dental floss but I'd rather not (seems like it would show through). I think I remember reading something about using embroidery floss, but I'm worried the elasticity would be too far different from my 85% wool/15% mohair... Any helpful suggestions?

Thank You, Shar & Dave!

November 17, 2005

As is my wont, I've been hoarding the yarn gift certificate that my brother and sister gave me for Christmas last year. :-) Last Friday, though, there was a sale, so I headed over to go find pretty things.

This was the first:

Lovely mercerized cotton for a beaded scarf. I love how sleek and shiny cotton is. I've been holding onto this gift certificate with vague thoughts of finally learning to knit with beads, and this color called to me. I'm thinking a gradient of orange/salmon/yellow for the beads? Something fiery? I don't want it to look too Christmas-y (ie. no silver or gold) and I'm not really seeing white or black in my mind's eye. I don't have a pattern yet (may try to make one up?), but I'm hoping to make it to Beads and Beyond in Bellevue on Saturday. I'm amassing rather a collection of red scarves, so I probably should have branched out, but this was too lovely not to get. Instead I may just need to find more black sweaters to wear them with.

My second purchase was this:

Gorgeous dark green Cascade 220 for a hooded vest. I've been thinking of knitting one since September, though my original yarn of choice was a highly variegated Manos del Uraguay in Rosin (#26). The color was an amazing mix of dark roses, almost to brown and purple, and I thought it would make a great vest in a basketstitch. Unfortunately, they only had three skeins. Since then, I've been lurking about and seen over ten versions of the color, and none have been even remotely as saturated or beautiful, so I've kind of given up on finding it. The hazards of kettle-dyeing. Luckily I didn't buy the ones they had assuming that I could find a matching batch later!

In any case, I still want my vest, so this is a great substitute. :-)

So, Merry Christmas '04 to me -- thanks, Shar and Dave!

It's alive!

November 15, 2005

Thanks for the comments on the too-cool tulip mode. I was playing more with my camera last night after I found this online manual. I didn't have time to load any of those pictures this morning, though, so instead a story:

On Saturday evening, Kevin was watching the shrimp and was surprised to discover that he had a food pouch under his stomach that we'd never seen before, and that he kept rearranging the contents of it. I came over to look, and having eaten lobster and avoided the green under the tail, thought that actually "he" was laying eggs! There looked like a few hundred small yellowish-white eggs, that he kept combing through and shuffling. He (I just can't change the gender mentally. Just like I keep calling Clack "he" and Click "she" even though I know it's the other way around.) spent the rest of the evening digging through the pouch, and by the morning they were gone. You can see him arranging the two full yellow pouches on his stomach here, even though the individual eggs are too tiny to see:

We briefly felt bad that "he" was lonely and had no one to mate with, but came to our senses. 55 gallons is too small for a pair of shrimp unless they're already mating and friendly, and we don't want to introduce a suitor that would just be eaten. Plus, we aren't interested in breeding, raising, and selling baby shrimps (even if it can be done in captivity?), so this is really just yet another fascinating thing that happens in our little world that won't carry through the way it would in the wild.

But still, how neat!

PS. This was supposed to be a knitting post, showing you a completed back to the cable sweater. I knit a ton yesterday: to class, during the 45 minute wait when the bus didn't come, back from class, during the Eagles game, before bed, and finally finished it. But even with the five inches I added to the bottom, it's still a good six-to-seven inches short. I think the pattern's missing a repeat of the 27-row chart. So, before I could take a picture or spend too much time thinking about it, I ripped back to the beginning of the shoulder decreases. I'm debating whether I should take it back even farther, but that's just so depressing. I was so excited about the idea of blocking it before bedtime.


November 14, 2005

I've been complaining for months that my digital camera (a three and a half year old Nikon Coolpix 775. Ooh.) just doesn't have what it takes to capture any details in the fish tank. I can take thirty pictures and only come up with one or two that are blog-worthy. Since the fish tank and equally detail-focused knitting compose roughly 90% of the photos I take, this seemed like enough of a fault to consider moving up to a newer model. This seemed a bit wasteful, because it really is a great camera otherwise. It's relatively big, which I find makes it easier to hold and easier to take steady pictures, it's decent in low light and great outdoors. The battery probably needs to be replaced as it's started losing it's charge increasingly rapidly, but when it was new would last for weeks. But, all in all, the lack of detailed shots was too big a problem to ignore.

Then, on Friday, I came across an old article on taking pictures in a fish tank. Most of it was either not likely for me (ie. buy a tripod), or something I've already actively ruled out (my camera blurs everything and the colors are off if I don't use a flash). However, it brought up something called "macro mode" that could be used to take pictures of detailed objects close to the lens, and sure enough, my camera has one (marked by a tulip, as they said), and it works perfectly.

So, on to beauty shots of the fishtank:

Even though you wouldn't expect the mushrooms to be super-active, ours are always showing up in new odd poses. When I came downstairs on Saturday, two of them were curled up like trumpets. (One to the bottom-left is in profile, and the other in the middle is pointing right at the camera.) I have no idea what caused them to do it. Within a half hour, they'd flattened down like usual.

I was so impressed at the way that those pictures came out that I tried taking pictures of two of our new zoo colonies. When I moved the rocks from one tank to the other, I had to cut both the orange zoos and the sunflower zoos as they'd started to spread to new rocks. (Yay) After cutting, both of them left one big zoanthid and one small bud on the larger rock. Now, two weeks later, both colonies are up to four faces. :-)

However, the truly exciting shot was the one of the green star polyps, which as you may remember, I had given up on ever capturing adequately. But, thanks to macro mode, may I present:

Wow! :-)

* A bit of lingo from my technical writing class, RTFM can be politely translated to "read the fine manual." I swear I did, cover to cover (it's just my personality), but apparently bits of it slipped through the cracks. Clever me.

November Leaves

November 13, 2005

Not to repeat myself, as I've already posted about the Seattle fall color, but there are still many spots of brightness over a month later, which seemed blog-worthy. This is my view walking out the front door in the morning:

It's jaw-dropping, especially on a rainy morning when it practically seems to be glowing from within, it's so bright.

I don't remember these weeks of riotous color in Massachusetts. As I understand it, the brightness of the color is supposed to do with how hydrated the trees were and how fast the temperature dropped. It never seems to rain that much here to me, but I suppose that people keep things pretty well watered. And the temperature definitely dropped to the fifties and sixties nearly overnight, but then hasn't lowered too much since then -- perhaps that helps the trees hold their leaves? Any tree experts out there?

New Yarn!

November 10, 2005

Jessica posted about buying Rowanspun, and since it was a slow and sleep-deprived week at work, I got google out and bought some. :-) Bummer. :-)

I ended up at Jimmy Beans Wool (recommended in the past by Sharlyn for being excellent and quick. My editorial comments on that: and how! Less than two days, shipped cheap.), and found that they were having a sale. I loved one of the DK colors, despite fear that it would be too bright a teal.

They had eight balls left, which came to 1760 yards at 220 yards a skein. According to my handy chart (can anyone confirm that this is right?!?), this should be more than enough for a DK version of a Rogue, which ended up taking a ball-plus less that the recommended 1100 yards of worsted weight yarn the first time I knit it. I figure that it will take modifications ( the cuffs were too tight, dk-not-worsted, make the cables wider, make it a cardigan...) but could still be a fun challenge, and regardless, any time you can find a sweater's worth of pretty yarn for under $40, that's worth considering.

The yarn showed up today (yay!) and alleviated one of my concerns: it's not too bright a teal. If anything, it's too green, but for lots of cables, I kind of think that works....

PS. I just found a listing of yarn stores and festivals by state! Clearly not complete, but nice to have on hand. :-)

UPDATE: In the light of day (if you can use that phrase for this grey Seattle murk), the yarn looks exactly like the picture from the jimmy beans photo above. The green in the second picture from last night seemed to be the work of my camera's flash. The actual color is the sort that you couldn't wear with light blue jeans because they would be too similar. :-) perfect.

I heart Groupwork

November 08, 2005

Or, Why I Was at Kinko's at 2AM on Wednesday.

The class I'm taking at UW had a group work assignment due today, in which we had to develop an instruction manual for something unrelated to computers, cars, food, or weapons. After the other two members of my group roundly rejected my expertise in knitting and fish-keeping, and after spending the better part of two days attempting to come up with a topic that didn't involve the internet, we finally settled on writing instructions for polar-aligning a telescope. This suited me, since I had a long astronomy phase, and one of our members grew up in Montana glued to his telescope, so we seemed set. He would write the instructions out from memory, I would illustrate, and the third kid, who showed up to class spottily, would do layout. Stage One went off without a hitch. Stage Two (ie. me vs. paint) was a bit slower in coming. By 3am on Tuesday I had beautiful graphics based on illustrations I'd found on the web, and sent them off to Mr. Layout, only to hear back from Mr. Owns-A-Telescope when I got to work at 10 that I'd illustrated the wrong kind of telescope( which can't perform the task we were describing. Oops.). So, after getting home from work, and receiving Mr. Layout's part with the instructions to "just brush it up however you want to" -- never a good sign, I had another 5 or so hours of re-Painting and re-Layouting before I could head to the 24 hour Kinko's. The guys there seemed, to put it mildly, surprised to see someone pull up. They were working on multi-thousand copy jobs, and I don't think they get that many requests for single prints, let alone at 1:45 in the morning. Ah, to be the spice-it-up girl.

That said, I *love* card stock and spiral bindings. It makes me want to do this with every aspect of my life (the shopping list?).

We'd decided that since our instruction manual would theoretically accompany a many-thousand dollar purchase, we could go for presentation over economy. Combined with other fun touches (big font for reading at night with a flashlight, card stock to withstand being stuffed in a pocket, spiral binding to make it easy to hold, sidebars to explain technical terms, etc.), it was SO pretty when done.

But seriously, what else could I use this on? Recipes? Knitting patterns? The mind boggles.

All Stuck

November 07, 2005

Just a quick post to show my creeeeping progress on the back on the cable sweater. I made it nearly up to the next set of cables, and then realized that I hadn't double checked my math and completely stalled. I even have the chart ready! It's a mere matter of counting stitches, dividing by the repeat and adding two, and yet I'm stuck.

I'm hoping that by posting a picture I can shame myself into restarting... I want to have this finished in time for my trip home to Boston for Thanksgiving. Go, go!


November 06, 2005

I spent the weekend at Microsoft's Puzzlehunt, with a group derived from the new Brown dinner crowd. :-) This was my second Puzzle Hunt, and added to one Intern Puzzle Day and one Puzzle Safari to round out my total lifetime microsoft-puzzling experience. The idea behind the event is that the winners from last year (the awesome "Everyday Heroes") earn the "honour" of creating two days worth of puzzles, and roughly 50 teams spend the weekend proving their mental muscle. Lemon of Troy finished a mighty 36th, thereby leaving a safe margin from being forced to write next year's fun. Despite the reality of sitting in a conference room surrounded by computers eating takeout on a weekend, I had a lot of fun. :-)

The puzzles are multipart and usually require recognizing lots of different overlaying patterns. This year, there were a few on Semaphore and Braille, plays on the fifty states, ciphers, songs from soundtracks, ingredients from beverages from the Microsoft fridge, word games, scrabble scores, quasi-famous dates, etc, etc. My favourite was a huge 5x5 logic grid based on a map that took me two hours to solve, and then required spelling out the solutions to each to find a location on a another made-up map, then translating that to a real campus location, then bringing the first map to that room and looking at it under the black light to get the answer ("blue screen" :-P).

I know there's a share of previous years' puzzles somewhere, but all I could find was year 2.

People on my team were impressed by my pencil crayon skills in solving the following puzzle (they even tacked it to the wall!), so I figured I'd post my acheivement:

The puzzle had three edges with sequences of numbers in colored circles and the center was initially a blank grid of hexagons. The trick was to figure out the pattern represented by the numbers, color it in on the grid, and then realize that they were nautical flags that spelled the answer: "TIROS". Not bad for 4:30 in the morning. :-)


November 04, 2005

Somehow I managed to make it all the way through October and only post once. Thus, it's time for new resolutions, namely:

1. Post more frequently.

As a sign of good faith, I've retroactively posted to update you on a month's worth of fish&knitting status.

As for the reasons for not posting to begin with, it basically boils down to the three days a week I'm been getting up at 6:45 for my technical writing class at UW and the related work (weak, I know, but my workday before this started at ten and ended at 6:30. It's an adjustment.). Add in a lovely vacation to Florida (and narrow escape from Wilma. Yay for my parents, who finally have their power back and tarps on their roof.), and that's all the excuses I have to offer. Other than the bits posted, October consisted of watching a cloudy-topped Rainier over Lake Washington on the 7:30 am bus ride to class, reveling in the leaves changing color, way too many enormous spiders, much pondering over the "right" future career decision (technical writer? fiction editor? teacher? mostly leaning toward the former, but all opinions welcome.), appreciating Weston and Brown, carpooling home with Kevin, reading Les Miserables and John Adams, missing knitting, and the beginning of group dinners with the Brown gang. If it makes any of you feel better, I didn't buy gas once in October, so you've all received more attention than my car has.

(And for those who read this far and expected that the list of resolutions would contain a "2.", I will simply smile indulgently and leave you with a picture of the shrimp:

and all three fish on the left side of the tank:

No need to overdo these things. :-) )

A half-year project

November 03, 2005

I finally got a step closer to the vision of two 55 gallon tanks, the top one being a fish and corals display tank, and the bottom being a refugium. In one marathon session on Sunday, I moved everything (including 2/3 of the original tank's water) over to the new sandy-bottomed tank. I am so happy with the result. I flipped a few rocks, and so now we have more space for corals, and with the new tank's placement in the room, we can now see the view fully from three side, and about a third of the way across the back of the tank. We've discovered new clams, new crabs, and an enormous new stinging worm (the source of my endless rash?) since making the switch. (Pictures below, and with my pinky finger for reference. It was about an inch behind the glass, so the comparison is pretty accurate. How does something that enormous go undetected for eight months??)

For those, like me, who find clams much more benign, here's a photo of one of our four-and-counting new ones:

The yellow encircles the clam, and the green arrow points to one of our SPS guys, who I'm delitghted to say is growing again now that we've restarted the kalkwasser drip (for calcium/alkalinity). Also visible are the orange zoos, and Clack who came over to see what the previous flash was about.

I plucked nearly all of the xenia off of the back glass, so now we're back down to a "small" colony of three trees, plus the pom-pom xenia. The sand looks great, especially with the additional T5 light that Kevin picked up. I need to figure out some sort of veil or sheild to make for our top lights -- now that the tank is higher and the tank is more in the center of the room, it's quite blinding to glance at the tank when you're sitting on the couch. I'm thinking some fabric and velcro ought to do the trick.

Now that the original tank is cleaned out and dry, I'll start siliconing plexiglass baffles into the tank to create three sections: one chamber for water to enter from above and run through the protein skimmer, a second to pump it back up to the main tank, and a large space between them for a deep sand bed and plenty of algae.

Plane knitting

November 01, 2005

I've been working on the Multi-Directional scarf pattern that I got (for free! whee!) for joining the Multi-Directional Yahoo group. I'm using Ritratto, which I love, but have been having trouble finding good projects for. It was originally intended to be a Tie One On, but the pattern really didn't work out. Then, I was going to make a waved scarf, much like the amazing one that Jessica had on her blog ages ago. After a valiant effort, it became clear that the color blocks are way too short for that sort of a pattern. Instead of a pretty, lively blue, it looked like a blue fuzzy mess with screaming patches of orange. I should have known better -- I'm never a fan of variegated yarn and lace.

So, I switched to the multidirectional scarf, and now it's flying along (woot, knitting on the diagonal). It's an extremely satisfying way to knit, though it definitely violates my general rule of never knitting something that I wouldn't buy in a store.