Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Not Feeling It

Is it the pattern stitch? Is it the colors? Is it the fabric? Is it the weather? Or is it just how I'm feeling at the moment?

Whatever It Is...
...I'm just not enjoying the progress on the Impressions pullover vest. It's just not one of those projects that I look forward to running home and working on each night. I'll continue to work on it, and I will definitely finish it, but I got distracted with a delivery of yarn this past Saturday.

Sean at Woolcott & Co. is hand-dyeing sock yarn and selling it in his store. It's not on the web site linked above, you just have to know about it and call him to order it.

I loved the colors he chose, so I bought one of each and I've already cast on for my first of three pairs of Woolcott socks.

You'll note I accented the top of the sock with a contrasting color. I will use the same color for the heels and toe of this pair. I figure I will mix and match all three colors eventually.

Current Spinning
After finishing the singles of Mohair/Merino blend from Mindy at Puff The Magic Rabbit, I was considering wrapping them around a two-ply tussah/cashmere blend that I started working on back in January of 2008, but never finished. I set my mind to finishing it so I could get this lovely yarn combination done.

When I finished plying the tussah/cashmere, I experimented with adding the mohair, but it wasn't working well, so I just decided to leave the tussah/cashmere as a double-ply yarn and I'll double-ply the mohair/merino later.

Just as a side note, I love how this yarn turned out. I was able to keep the colors separated in such a way that I used up all the fiber. I ended up with a little over 400 yards of beautiful yarn, plus I'll get an additional amount of beautifula mohair/merino when I ply that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time For An Attitude Adjustment

I know when I've gotten to the point where I'm spewing bitter, hateful comments, and the entire World is annoying me, that it's not the entire World that has to change, but me.

What's the Male Equivalent of PMS?
I feel like I should be getting my period any minute now...sheesh.

I can't even blame my foul mood on that fact that I'm bloated or having cramps. So, of course, that only leaves putting the blame on the people I come into contact with (or god forbid, take personal responsibility!).

Anyway...I'd love to sit and whine for another couple of hours, but I have a boatload of work I need to get done now.

Current Knitting
I think I've completed a total of 5 rows on the latest pullover vest project. Life has been keeping me pretty busy lately during the week.

Current Spinning
I have however, been able to fit in some spinning to keep at least some viable content ready for a blog post.

This is the Merino/Mohair from Puff The Magic Rabbit. The singles came out just beautifully. I really enjoyed spinning this, and I'm working on finishing up a previous spinning project that I think I'll combine with this one. I have some gorgeous tussah silk on my Louet wheel that I'm thinking about double plying with itself and using the Merino/Mohair for a wrapped strand around it.

Not really sure it will work, but I'll experiment with it this weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
JJ writes, "I don't think there are enough Nico photos on this blog. How is his asthma? Did his Aerokat inhaler arrive?"

Nico is somewhat like Thaddeus, in that he hates his picture taken, and the few opportunities I have to take one, he refuses to let me publish it. However, Nico is doing great healthwise. After his holiday vetinary hospital visit, the prednisone and Albuterol seemed to stop his asthma symptoms almost right away. Unfortunately, he also contracted some kind of cold or flu whilst at said hospital which actually made hims sneeze and blow feline snot for about 5 days.

Thaddeus and our local vet decided that we should finish up Nico's regimen of low-dose prednisone (taken orally) and see if the asthma symptoms came back. Since they didn't we've decided to just treat any asthma on an episodic basis, and if they become frequent enough, put him on a daily low-dose of inhaled prednisone.

The Aerokat did arrive and we now have Albuterol on hand if/when he has another attack.

Here's another picture of Nico next to one of his favorite

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Overly Productive Weekend

I wasn't exactly sick this weekend, but I wasn't exactly healthy either...I think I had a low-grade temperature with some body aches, and I was very tired...but no other symptoms.

No Ooomph
I did sleep a lot this weekend, and I even had a healthy appetite, so I ate fine, but knitting held very little interest. While I do have a picture of the current sweater-in-progress below, I figured I better bring in the big guns to distract readers from the lack of knitting content.

Ohhh...look...Nico! My new camera has been able to catch a few good shots of him even.

Current Knitting
I got a few more repeats done and now the front is up to about 10 inches long so far.

This intarsia/Fair Isle combination of knitting seems a bit fiddly for me, especially when I have to strand unused color on the purl side of a row. I'm still glad to have chosen this way of doing it, but when I'm not in a knitting kind of mood, it takes a little more energy to get me to pick up my knitting on a project like this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mouse, Touchpad or Pointing Stick?

There are some examples of when I don't adapt well to change....even though I've worked on a laptop for over a decade, I still can't stand using a touchpad or pointing stick.

I'm Old Enough To Remember...
...when the first brought out the mouse, even before being in a Windows environment. I couldn't imagine how people would want to use a mouse in an operating system (DOS) where everything (almost) was done through the keyboard.

Then, when they first came out with the "pointing stick" (the little nub below and between the G and H keys on the keyboard), I used that almost exclusively. It allowed me to keep my hands in proper typing position, so I didn't have to keep repositioning them after mousing.

Then they came up with the awful ideas of having both a touchpad and a pointing stick, AND they added functionality to the pointing stick that allowed it to register a click by pressure on top of it.

My fingers were way to fat to have them make distinctions between various techniques, and I constantly found myself clicking and dragging or opening applications when I didn't want to.

I now exclusively use a mouse and find it VERY difficult whenever one is not available and I'm forced to use either a touchpad or a pointing stick. Many Mac users tell me about the joys of their touchpad, but I can only imagine what fat fingers would do on one of those.

Current Knitting
I've made some progress on the Impressions Pullover Vest.

I must have been confused when I placed my order with A Touch of Twist because I think I'll be needing a bit more of the main color and no where near as much of the contrasting color. But the yarn is very nice, so I'm sure I'll come up with a use for the remaining periwinkle yarn.

Current Spinning
You may have noticed that I didn't get a lot done on the Impressions vest...that's because I split my time a little with my current spinning project.

This is the most amazing fiber that Mindy sent me from Puff The Magic Rabbit. It's a Mohair/Merino mix that is a VERY dark teal/black. I have already contacted Mindy to make sure I can get some more of her gorgeous roving.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Fresh New View On The World

New Toy
I've been wanting to get a new camera for a while now, but I kept balking at the difference in prices between my little Canon PowerShot, and the entry-level digital SLR cameras. I finally decided to get over it, and just buy one.

I'm very glad I did.

Isn't it weird that I can only take a picture of my new camera with my old camera?

After doing some on-line research, I ended up buying a Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP , and I've been playing with it all weekend. I guess I could take a picture of the camera using the new camera...

I love a few things about this new camera already. First of all, it takes photos indoors without a flash, without getting all blurry, but even with the flash, photos look great. Second, when I decide to use some of the manual features of the camera, the menu options are clear and easy to read. Third, Franklin has volunteered to lead a "Photographing Fiber" workshop at the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat, so I'm hopeful to get into that session and get some good tips from him.

Hopefully you'll be seeing the results of my new camera for years to come as I use it for blog pictures.

Current Knitting
I finally got past the microscopic ribbing on my current project, and started in with the front of the sweater.

Here's a more close up look of the pattern stitch.

I started knitting the garment in the round, but then realized that I didn't want to strand the contrasting color (periwinkle) across the entire garment. I opted to use intarsia for each vertical "stripe" of color/texture, and so I'm working the body of the garment in two flat pieces.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Maureen writes, "I love the Mini Mochi! Those are great colorways. What weight is it?"

Me too...I have it prominently displayed in my craft area, and keep walking by and fondling it. It's fingering weight, mainly for making socks.

Expat On The Go asks, "Could you walk us through how you design and make a sweater (that actually fits you!)? Or is that too much to ask? You don't need to write a book - just a few words on every step..."

For me, sizing is the most important aspect For the current vest the easiest way for me to size the garment is to find an existing vest that fits me well and use those measurements.

Then it’s mostly just a matter of determining my gauge and doing the math. I also adjust some for ease if the weight of the fabric in the well-fitting garment is different than the fabric I’m creating.

Once I have sizing done, I have to try and decide on a stitch pattern or color pattern that appeals to me. For this, I often use graphic software so I can see it more as a finished garment…and even that isn’t always successful.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Decisions Decisions

My company was recently acquired by another firm and I'll be officially and employee of the new firm on June 16th of this month.

Changing PC's and Benefit Choices
Since my current project (both client and project team) will be the same despite changing firms, the look and feel of my job will remain pretty much the same.

Unfortunately, I will need to get a new laptop that conforms with the new company's protocols. Of course, this means setting it up in such a way that I can do all the regular things I do on a day-to-day basis. It's amazing how used to my current laptop I've become.

The other big change are all my benefits.

Since I set up systems for large companies to manager their benefits, you'd think this wouldn't be such a big deal, but it seems the more you know about this stuff, the harder it is to make good decisions. Just picking a new medical plan is making my head spin. Plus I have to figure out how much contribution I have already made to my 401(k) plan (this is a retirement plan for the non-Americans reading) so far this year and how much I can contribute in my new company.

So many decisions swimming around in my head...I need to start writing this stuff down.

Current Knitting
I started designing a new pullover vest this past weekend using the Impressions yarn I purchased from A Touch of Twist in Albany, NY. The yarn is actually fingering weight and I've come up with a pattern/color stitch pattern that I think will work. Here's a bad picture of my swatch.

I also started knitting the ribbing, but I've only done about 2 inches of it so far...1x1 ribbing on US1 needles takes forever.

New Yarn
I got the opportunity to play with a lot of new yarns from Crystal Palace at the Men's Knitting Retreat last month. One of them, I knew I had to have, was Mini Mochi. One of the on-line suppliers of the yarn also carries my friend Carol's yarns, so I ordered it from them...The Loopy Ewe.

Yes, I ordered a lot, but I REALLY love it. Here's a closeup of my favorite colorway.

Not sure what I'll do with it all yet, but I'll figure it out soon.

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Project

With the completion of the Marlowe Crawford MSKR socks (see below), I've decided to try designing another pullover vest.

New Vest
I knit a great vest last July using Rowan Felted Tweed...let's see if I can find a picture...ah yes, here it is:

The new vest will be based on some of the same measurements for last year's vest, but will include color and texture, I think.

I purchased some yarn from A Touch of Twist:

The yarn is called Impressions, and this one is Sport weight (I think). I have their color cards (and their colors are extensive) and the feel of these yarns is very nice. Can't wait to swatch and see what I come up with.

Current Knitting
As noted above and on my last blog entry, I was able to finish the Men's Knitting Retreat socks designed by Marlowe Crawford.

It was a perfect day to finish's kind of cold and damp and rainy and the socks are warm and snug and a big bear hug (bear as in woof...not grrrr). I will probably start another pair of socks in addition to the vest...I want to try out Marlowe's Basic Arched Sock pattern that I just purchased/downloaded last week.

New Book On Order
Saw this book on FaceBook or Twitter...will never be able to remember between the two...and it seemed like a great book to want/own.

The Knitter's Book of Wool looks like a great resource, so I've placed my pre-order.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Isager is Back

Marianne Isager is back in my radar and now in English.

Finally Came
I had pre-ordered two books by Marianne Isager that have been translated into English...

Classic Knits and Japanese Inspired Knits.

So far, I've only been able to take a quick glance at either of them, but I'm already impressed. I definitely wouldn't recommend either book for guys looking for guy patterns. I found her Afrika book was much better for motifs and shaping for men than either of these two books.

Both books seem to have a perfect combination of classic shapes and funky shapes and show off Isager's amazing color designs which are interesting and quite rich and beautiful. I am very glad to own both of these books in my library.

Current Knitting
I've got about 20 more rounds of the second Marlowe sock to finish before getting to the toe.

The toe takes very little time...even with the little bit of kitchener stitching required, so I intend on finishing these socks by tonight. I brought additional sock yarn to start another pair, but I may just decide to try and re-engineer Marlowe's pattern to do these from the toe up and convert the heel to an Andersson heel.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding Bill O'Reilly's verbal assaults on the doctor who performed abortions and was seemingly murdered for performing them, Skeinman writes, "I don't like what O'Reilly said, but the fault lies strictly with the pig who did the shooting." Shelly adds, "Please don't mistake the action of a very sick person with being a Christian."

I have to say that in my upbringing as a young Christian, I was clearly taught to consider doctors that perform abortions murderers. In the same way, I was taught to believe that homosexuality was very wrong in God's eyes. I honestly don't hold Bill O'Reilly or Christian churches responsible for the death of this man...directly...but I do think they both had a role in it, just like I think my church bureaucracy plays a role in all the gay teen youth suicides. The message that a man is a murderer for practicing a legal medical procedure can be a very strong one in people with weaker minds. The Christians that spout this hateful garbage should take some responsibility for it, and the consequences. Bill O'Reilly included.

Monday, June 01, 2009

How'd You Like To Be Bill O'Reilly?

Many of you may have read/heard that an abortion doctor that Bill O'Reilly targeted numerous times on his t.v. show (including calling him a "baby killer", "disgrace", and "murderer") has been shot and killed while attending church with his wife.

I Always Worry
Whenever I'm driving through a suburban neighborhood, I always drive slowly and pay close attention, specifically looking for kids playing. I don't know that I could live a normal life if I ever accidentally took the life of someone else.

I can't imagine how O'Reilly must be feeling now that he's potentially incited someone to kill another man because of his hateful rhetoric.

Please, whatever you do, don't retaliate by shooting Bill O'Reilly...I couldn't live with myself if you did.

Current Knitting
I finished the ribbing on the second Men's Knitting Retreat sock pattern (I think this may be my first official KAL), and I'm just about to start knitting the heel flap.

I have to say that this sock design is like the swimsuit designed for Olympic hugs my foot in all the right places and feels so sleek and streamlined. Marlowe did a nice job. I think my next sock will be her Arched Sock Pattern (you can download the pattern directly from Ravelry if you're a member there). I may even try to score some Verb sock yarn if I can find a color that I think I'd like making it in.

New Niebling Book
I just got my latest lace book from Lacis. They came out with Knitted Lace Designs by Herbert Niebling. On first glance, it looks quite interesting, and I think I'll be able to make some lovely things from it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Maureen writes, "Glad to hear you guys and Nico survived his ER trip. So will he be on inhalers for asthma at home now?" and JJ follows up with, "If his condition worsens, you might want to consider getting him a kitty inhaler."

We're currently tapering him off prednisone (in liquid format) and we have Albuterol on hand and we're waiting for delivery of the feline inhaler thing-a-mabob called Aerokat. His asthma seems to have cleared just fine for now, but he seems to have picked up some sort of cold at either the hospital or the vet's office. Poor thing is actually sneezing now!

Regarding the MKR Sock pattern, Joe E. asks, "Question: Is the cuff loose/slouchy?"

Mine aren't, although I haven't worn them for a full day yet which is always the test. 2x2 rib usually stays up the best in my experience and so far, they seem to have a nice feel to them without slouching.

Lorelei writes, "I once passed up some possum yarn because I didn't like the sound of it! You seem so delighted, though, that next time I'll pay closer attention before I turn my nose up."

Possums in New Zealand must be very different than the U.S. brand...I can't imagine making yarn out of our possums. The best deal these days for this awesome yarn is still buying it from New Zealand. Check out the J.O.Y. (Joy of Yarn) website, which is all in New Zealand dollars...even with shipping, it's still cheaper to buy sock yarn from the Kiwi James.