Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why I hate sleeves


Also, as proof that Cammy has exactly 1.5 pink phalanges on each foot:

The other feet are coming, when she cooperates.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aloha

Aloha! The long blog break was due to a work trip to Hawaii--poor me! I only waited for 4 years, but finally the big neurology meeting was in Honolulu. The strange thing about being an overly conscientious person is that even when on a tropical island, one feels compelled to attend lectures and seminars. So there are really very few photos, regrettably. I did get away for a first-time surfing lesson though! I went with a group of neurologists to a class through Hawaiian Fire, which is taught by firefighters. Due to my swimming skills, nonexistent as they are, I thought I could benefit from the extra lightsaving capabilities. Also, they drive you out to a secluded beach so that you can look like an absolute fool and not bang into/be the brunt of jokes of thousands of people on Waikiki beach.

This is what most of the surfing looked like. A lot of biting of the sea water. Like a super-sonic monster neti pot, the ocean really cleared out my sinuses.


But look, even clumsy people can surf! My fellow neurologist-classmates told me I have a robotic smile and outstretched arms when I am surfing. They are right; I think it is a remnant of Warrior 2 from yoga.

So fun!

Otherwise, the only other pictures of Hawaii are of other academic neurologists (woohoo), and these:
Am I the only person who thinks upon seeing this, "I really wish I had an orange tabby cat and a white cat who were littermates!"?


Pretty orchids. It was very humid and my hair got huge.

After my extravagant and detailed knitting plans, I didn't even start on the new project! (The plan was for baby stuff for a friend.) But you know what comes apres le surfing...the apres surf hoodie.

Unfortunately, the hood was a lot bigger than I had imagined, larger than the torso it seems. While knitting the hood I felt like my head was enormous! I started on the sleeves on the flight back, but you know what they say about sleeves: two sleeves knitted together...take forever!


Next time, hopefully, this will be finished! It had better be, b/c 3 unborn babies are now awaiting handknitted gifts. I say people should really slow down on the breeding, for the sake of the knitters.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring slow-down

Be forewarned, I'm practicing with the new DSLR camera.

After the week-long daily blogging for the 2KCBW, I needed a little break! Things were very dreary for a while. The crabapple tree started to bloom, and then it snowed!
crabapple-snow1


And snowed some more!
crabapple_snow2


This was a bad scene, considering it was spring.
snow_spring_tree


The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear badness in Japan was/is terrible too. All I could do was sit gape-mouthed in front of the internet, then try to distract myself by making an emergency kit. And bought a lot of unhealthy emergency no-heat-or-water-necessary food. In case the New Madrid fault erupts, I will survive the apocalypse on canned ravioli, canned beans, pre-cooked-and-flavored rice, and matzo bread. Oh, and peanut butter and nutella, but those are mainly for trade purposes. The hand-cranked radio/flashlight/strobelight/phone-usb-charger, and tube tent, and first aid kit made with "borrowed" stuff from the hospital, certainly feel like they will stave off the next natural disaster.
provisions


So after all that, the past few days have been a relief. Despite the horrible snow, the blooms on the crabapple tree pulled through, and, well, bloomed spectacularly!
crabapple-tree

Let it be known that if my house ever regains enough value to go on the market, it shall do so during the first half of April. If anyone out there is interested in buying a gorgeous crabapple tree with tons of shawl-modeling experience, with a house attached, please say hello! (Also, if you are a photographer and you know why there is that yellow circle in the picture, please enlighten me.)

tulips

One of my favorites, white tulips. Spring really gussies up everything, including ditches next to dilapidated parking structures.

tulips2

Pretty pink streaks.

You will notice there is no knitting content. That is because knitting exponentially slows in warm weather, even with new Twist and Knitty issues out back-to-back! Thanks to all of your suggestions, I finally made a decision about the holiday travel knitting: I'll finish the ASH (apres surf hoodie) cardi, and take gift baby knits as backup. I am planning to take surfing lessons...so we'll see if there's any apres-surf FO action!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rituals


Wow, it's already day 7 of 2KCWB, and it's been a dizzying festival! This last post is about how and when we knit. In fact, that is the most commonly asked question by non-knitters, "Where do you find the time to knit?" And I always cheekily answer, "I don't find time, I make time to knit." Except for the lucky few who make a living from their knitting, most knitters (even "hard core" ones) have completely unrelated jobs and other demands on their time. Back during residency, I would be able to knit at work if, for example, I was working overnight and on call at the hospital waiting to be called to see someone in the emergency room. But now my work activities are different, so there's no knitting at work. Fortunately, there aren't any overnights at the hospital either!

So my knitting time is always at night after work. I don't watch television (which is, I suspect, why other people badger me about where I mysteriously find more time than they have), but once in a while on weekends I'll knit during movies or shows on netflix/iTunes. Otherwise, I knit while reading books in bed, or while reading the internets at my desk, unless a pattern requires constant reading of chart/directions for each stitch. If a book needs to be propped open, I use this coaster, which is made of remnants of marble tile from the fireplace hearth, but unfortunately got a chip. It is the coaster on my bedside table and gets used a lot as a book holder-opener. Like so:

It's very complicated and tech-savvy.

One solution to the complicated-pattern-incompatibility-with-reading problem is listening to audiobooks! During the past 4 months, I spent a lot of time listening to all 7 Harry Potter books (Jim Dale version). Heck, I listened to them even while knitting easy patterns, it's so fun! I finished the last book a few days ago, and so it's back to regular books.
 The ipod cozy got a good workout during the HP phase and is looking gnarly; it's time to knit another one!

I never eat while knitting, except on Tuesdays during knit night, when I eat a bag of salt and vinegar chips, sometimes a sandwich, and usually a beer. True story: Once I was at the farmer's market, and the person who was selling me my veg looked really familiar, and she thought the same of me. After several questions about possible shared workplaces or other activities, I asked if she knitted, and she said, "Wait you're the one in that knitting group who always gets a bag a of salt and vinegar chips!" (She sometimes also worked at the cafe where we meet.) Ha! Anyway, that is my knit night ritual, but otherwise at home I usually knit with a drink only--wine or decaf tea/tisane, but not both. I have never spilled on my knitting (touch wood).

Lastly, I knit when traveling. An inordinate amount of thinking, planning, and energy goes into figuring out what knitting to take and how to pack it. So I'll let you wise readers help me out: I have a 7-day trip coming up, with approximately 12 hours travel time each way by plane. I am planning to take a small carry-on and medium-sized purse. I would prefer to have all the knitting fit in the purse, but would consider putting extra balls in the carry-on, especially if the project is something I can wear back on the return trip and free up space in luggage for souvenirs. I do not check baggage. The destination is a tropical island (ie don't want to knit a big warm weather item). I do not enjoy knitting socks. Here are the choices:
  • Lace shawl. It would have to be a quite big one (which can be tedious to knit, and also not worn much) to take up all that time, or a small shawl + something else. Shawls are great portable projects, on the other hand I'm kind of sick of knitting shawls after knitting 10 of them last year.
  • Top. This could probably be finished on the way and during the week, and worn on the return trip. However this would mean another project would need to be packed for the return trip. Also, the only top I have yarn for is one I am designing/editing, and I don't want to do that while traveling. But I could always get yarn for a different top pattern.
  • Baby stuff for friend's baby in utero.
  • The 70's dress. This would be fun to finish and wear back, although unknown if I can finish a fingering weight ribbed dress that fast. (It would be sleeveless though.) Also I'd have to update the old pattern before leaving, swatch, and pack a lot of yarn.

Please comment with suggestions, vague or specific! Remember I am trying to knit uncommonly knitted patterns, for my 12 under 43 resolution. And there's no stash yarn I have to use up, so you're free to pick any pattern/yarn combo!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aspirations

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have. 

What a treat this week, looking back at past projects and yarns, and seeing everyone else's too! For day 6 of KCWB, however, we are looking forward. In general, I am a pretty proficient knitter in terms of the techniques I tend to use--stockinette, lace, and cables--but recent forays into colorwork have pointed out whole other worlds of knitterly exploration. In general I tend toward monochromatic outfits and projects, and get anxious about being the crazy frizzy lady who wears fourteen shades of purple and a multicolored sparkly shawl/caftan. It seems a slippery slope.

But obviously, there lies, in between, a gorgeous safe middle ground. Blankets and other household items seem like a good start. Here are some sublime examples from Ravelry:


(ETA, color scheme is by Harrysmum, click through for colorway/yarn info)


Oh lovely colors!

For wearable knitted items, I think stranded colorwork is probably the best bet for not sliding down the slippery slope of hypercolored doom. This past year my Nightscape cardi taught me that even when mixing just two colors, you need some contrast in the brightness (on the gray scale) for any pattern to show up. Oops, and lesson learned.


The other thing that really improved my stranded knitting was figuring out how to knit with both yarns in the right hand. I am a "thrower" or English knitter, and actually learned how to knit continental (or "pick") only in order to do stranded knitting holding one color in each hand. But as I did more projects in this fashion I realized that the gauge for the yarn held in the left hand ended up way loose, and the yarn held in the right hand got pulled too tight. Here's an example, the Fair Enough cardi.

So I'd have to spend a whole lot of time jiggling all of the stitches afterwards, ending up with big loose loops on the wrong side of the fabric.

And blocks of the contrast color would end up poofing out kind of funny. (Here, on the Alice mitts.)

Eventually I figured out how to hold the yarns both in the right hand, throwing the highlighted color with the middle finger and the background color with the index finger, and twisting the yarns when needed by pronating the wrist. It's hard to explain, and I'll try to make a video when I get a tripod. The end result is the fabric turns out a lot smoother (like the Hippocampi below), and now I'm emboldened to try a more complicated and color-ful project.

I love the Bohus sweaters, except that they are yoked, and would love to design/knit a bohus-inspired cardi with set-in sleeves. Also, I have been promising DH an argyle vest for a long time, and this seems like a good year to try! Ooh, I'd like an argyle cardi too. So begins the hunt for vibrant but sedate-not-crazy patterns for sweaters/vests.

Do you have any good pattern suggestions?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Now for something completely different

 This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms, but here a few suggestions:
  • Wordless, photographic post
  • Video blog post
  • Podcast
  • Cartoon/sketch of an idea
  • Write about a subject from a different perspective (for example, you could write about a day in the life of a knitted sock from the point of view of the sock).
  • Interpretive modern dance (why does someone always suggest this?
  • A poem or piece of rhyming verse
  • Stop motion animation
 Well, this has nothing to do with knitting, but mother nature is the ultimate performance artist.


Sky before/during a tornado. Cool, eh?