Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh The Horror

Even though I measured and calculated, it turns out that the narrow end of my skirt isn't quite the right size to be flattering to my wide end (which after the food orgy that is Thanksgiving is probably even wider). Couple that with the fact that this skirt, while following the proportions of other knitted skirt patterns, is not ideal for my proportions, resulting in robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Alternately: I have to remove hexagons from the small end of the skirt to make bigger and better hexagons on the big end of the skirt so that the small end better approximates a suitable size and the big end does not become the way too short end (my knees are not my best feature, so I prefer not to wear skirts that highlight them).

My life is still hexed, as it turns out.

Apart from the fact that I was so very ready to start on the next project (I have even swatched), and that the disappointment of delayed startitis approaches crushingly sad, this is actually not a bad thing, as Skirt 2.0 will be better.

My original shaping plan for seven rounds of hexagons was two rounds at sixteen stitches per side, two with fifteen, and three with fourteen. As I laid it out on the sofa to admire it, that this size progression didn't allow for quite enough flare over the hips-thighs-lower-belly area to be attractive, so my new and improved shaping, with only a single round of fourteen-per-side hexagons allows more ease where I need it, and a flippy bottom edge: my inverse Robin Hood rounds (I'm stealing from the stitch-poor hexagons to make stitch-rich hexagons) will not both contain hexagons with seventeen stitches per side - the second round will have eighteen stitches per side.

I know it'll make a prettier skirt, but I really wanted to wear it sooner than in a couple of weeks.

The added bummer is that these larger hexagons take considerably longer to complete than the small ones. Obvious, yes of course, but the actuality of it is less than ideal, emotionally. I'll try to be grown-up about it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And Then There Was More

Food, that is. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is for? Excess? As practise for the so-called "Holiday Season" which really means Christmas, but don't get me started on that rant just yet. Let me work up to it.

So first there was food, and it was good, and then there were left-overs, which were also good, and then another day passed and there were wishes for something else, anything else, like Indian food or a good stir-fry, and then we knew that it was over.

Luckily Julia came to visit a couple of days, and we knitted to the conversation. She finished a baby sweater and wove in the ends of her fair isle hat while I made hexagons until I was replete with hexagons.

This was good news, because it meant that I could start filling in the spaces between the hexagons so as to form a waistband.

This process is mercifully quicker than hexagons; I did two while thinking about getting up to work out, it was that quick.

My plan is to use double-knitting with a sewn bind-off to form a pair of casings for elastic which will ensure that my skirt does not fall down, which would be inconvenient, and possibly (probably) embarrassing. I don't think it needs a whole lot of taking-in at the waist (well, below the waist actually) so there will be none of that ghastly extra bulk born of gathering. With a bit of luck.

Then while I knit the other eight hemi-hexes which are more like hemi-demi-hexes since they're smaller than a whole half of a hexagon, I can plan my next project, an a-lined jacket/coat/cardigan in panels with cables loosely based on one Luisa Harding and about three Jean Moss patterns, but ultimately not all that much like any of them, except in their a-line-ness.

At least, that's the plan.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well Well Well

Your result for What Planet are You From? Test...

You are from Uranus!

40% Uranus

Well, how about that? You are from Uranus!

Uranus is a bit unusual in that it kind of tilts to its side. They think that might be because it was involved in some kind of collision with another planet or huge asteroid at some time. Uranus also has nine rings. It was discovered in 1871 and is the third largest planet in our solar system.

Uranus was named after the Greek father of the sky. It is said that he come to the planet to mate with Gaia, but he hated the children that she bore. Hmmm. Does that mean that you don’t like very many humans?

What does this say about you?

Well, it means that you have a very strong personality. You like being different. You are just one of those people that are hard to describe. You like to make people think because you realize that life is always changing.

You have lots of ideas and could possibly be an inventor. You enjoy learning about new things and trying things out. You are definitely a doer and a creator. Give you a rubber band, a paper clip, and a ball point pin and I’m sure you could manage to do something very interesting and unusual with it.

Intelligence becomes you!

Take What Planet are You From? Test
at HelloQuizzy

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Typhoid Mary

Some years ago I worked as a contractor for a company that did telecommunications software. Every year they'd ask me to convert to full-time employee, and every year I'd decline. After four years I decided that I liked the place, that the work was interesting and varied enough that I wouldn't die of boredom.

I converted to full-time.

A year later I was laid off.

As it turns out, this was not a bad thing since (a) the job I then got was way more interesting, and I worked with far brighter and more like-minded people, and (b) some time later my beau from the telecommunications place and I broke up, which would have been awkward had I still been there, to say the least, since our dissolution was not without bitterness.

The Way More Interesting Job was not without its downside. I watched endless rounds of what seemed like ill-considered layoffs, while I remained immune. 

It was disconcerting. 

Then TWMIJ got interesting in a Chinese curse kinda way ("May you live in interesting times") as business picked up its downhill rate of spiral and we were regularly frightened at impromptu company meetings where they warned us of doom and gloom. 

Layoffs became more random and frequent.

I watched and freaked out.

After a while I stopped freaking out, since it was clearly not personal, and there was nothing to do which would either forestall or hasten one's own layoff.

Mine was in January this year, and as you may recall, met with some amount of glee, sloth and indolence being much underrated.

Foolish I am not, since I took the new job when it was offered back in April.

On Friday I watched as twenty percent of the workforce was laid off, people with more history at the company, more and higher (in the hierarchy) personal connections, and probably more work experience.

And I know, assurances to the contrary, that this won't be the last. 

Immune, I'll watch more fall like flies until I too am overcome.

I hope not though.

I beaded another sample for a class proposal which I don't actually know was accepted, only that they wanted to see a bigger picture in a lighter colour.

I had given them black/hematite.

I hope this fits their criteria (yes, I sent them a humungous picture).

I'm still knitting hexagons, and I guess my taste in knitted skirts was vindicated when my daughter said "I can't wait for you to be finished with that so I can borrow it". Her version of borrowing involves a longer absence than I like, and sometimes necessitates my retrieval of borrowed item, so I'm not altogether delighted with her interest in my skirt.

All the same (no picture, but trust me) I'm one round and three hexagons away from The End Of All Hexagons (and on to edging and finishing, which have their own charm).

Probably not in time for Thanksgiving dinner though.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


So I have four completed rounds of hexagons on the skirt, a few hexagons on the fifth round, and one on the sixth.
Moving along with the clown skirt quite well, I think.

I spun the SOAR Blend from Cottage Creations.

John thinks it's scary (too many colours). I'm not easily frightened.

Now I need to decide whether to ply it on itself, or spin something else (well, two something elses) to ply with it.

My brother gets swag through his company, so when I was in Australia he tossed something my way.
Gotta love new toys!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dye Some More

Turns out it's really hard to get good dye penetration on a full pound of soy silk roving in a crock-pot. It just sucked up whatever I poured on - and poured on and poured on. Still, if it's completely horrible spun up, I know I can always overdye some more...
This is a skein of my sort-of kettle-dyed yarn, which I think is the artistic way of saying I didn't stir it. I couldn't quite photograph the colour accurately: it's really more intense than the picture shows.
I hadn't washed the skeins, as I knew I'd be dyeing them, and I'm delighted with the way they've bloomed. I think the fleece was a border leicester crossed with merino, blended with a bit of silk and some grey kid mohair that my brother picked up for me on his travels somewhere or another. New Zealand possibly, though more likely Australia (since he does live there, after all).

Like most of my yarns, it's a three-ply, but the long and only moderately crimpy staple of the wool, combined with the silk and kid resulted in a fairly dense yarn, almost scratchy even. Not over-twisted, but not a lofty yarn. Good for outerwear.

With the simmering in the dye-pot however, it has bloomed marvellously. The coloured silk and kid lend the yarn a slightly rustic tweediness (even apart from the happily uneven dye-job), but more importantly, the yarn glows. It has fabulous lustre. It's not merino-soft or cashmere-soft, but it does have a luxurious silkiness and drape and even though it doesn't seem much fatter than before dyeing, it seems less dense. 

I don't understand, but I don't care either, as I like it very much.

Below is some merino-bamboo-alpaca (with a hint of glitz) that also spent some time in the dye-pot.

And another yummy blend, no extruded fibre this time.
Oh wait. I think there's a touch of glitz.

Notice a theme, colour-wise? Except for the soy silk, everything I dyed this weekend seems to fall in a narrow slice of the colour wheel. Wonder what it says about my state of mind?

I did quite a bit of knitting too, but it's just More Hexagons which need to be steamed before being made available for public viewing. I've completed three rounds plus three; three rounds plus seven to go, and then of course the edging and finishing and whatnot.

Also did a bit of beading.

The famous white Russian beading book (if you've never heard of it you may not be  beader) has a stitch which leaves the beads in a configuration much like four-sided tubular right angle weave, but with fewer thread passes, and it's way faster. Makes a very slinky rope.

It doesn't look that great with seed beads, but perhaps I haven't happened on the right seed beads. There's something about the proportion of hole size to overall bead size, as well as the height to diameter ratio that affects how well a particular bead will do in this stitch.

Fire-polished beads and rice pearls work verra nicely!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dye Some

I started this set before I left for Australia, intending to have it available at Amy's sale. That didn't exactly work out.
I didn't get it done until today - I hadn't done any beading since the day my father died. It has no significance; just the way things have turned out, as I've been a bit consumed with knitting hexagons.

At SOAR, Toni sold out of the Blue Moon merino-bamboo before I could make up my mind/persuade myself I needed some, so I bought some au naturel and dyed it myself.

OK, I realise that's it not exactly competitive in the hand-painted fiber world, but I like it and I think it'll make pretty yarn. I'm curious to see if merino-bamboo makes as luscious a yarn as merino-tencel, which I think might be my current favourite.

It spins like buttah baby, makes a delightful yarn with body, drape and shine, and is gorgeous knitted up. Repeatedly. From the same skein. Without washing or steaming or ironing or in any way trying to get the kinks out. Actually, I suspect it's the tencel which allows it to be so fickle and forget the stitches it previously loved, loving only the stitches it's in and forgetting about the old ones. Shades of CSNY.

I have a couple of Lambspun blends (merino-bamboo-something and merino-silk-alpaca-something) in the dye-pot, and some yarn soaking even as I type. When I start to dye, I just want to do more. 

Hmmm, in the stash I spy a whole pound of soy silk, which takes dye beautifully, and might fit into the crock-pot, which the soaking wool-silk-kid will not. I'm wondering if it'll even fit into the dye-pot - it's over 1400g, about three pounds and my big dye-pot is not huge. Guess it'll be kettle-dyed a la Manos.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Back Again

My dad was a cardigan kinda guy, and for him, Perfection in Cardigans meant a shawl collar and pockets, so as a pretty new hand-spinner and long-time knitter, I of course made him one. I've only once made a handspun sweater for someone else besides him, which turns out to have ultimately been a mistake, but that's another story too boring to recount.
I used natural brown wool for the body of the sweater, and accented it with a stranded border pattern using all yarn from dog fur, various shepherding dogs' fur actually: sheltie, great pyrenees, German shepherd, and more which I can no longer recall.

I made the buttons too, using polyclay.

Unfortunately, one of the gifts my father's dementia gave him was the utterly irresistible urge to chew things. His shirts are all chewed through (my mom and I went through his clothes while I was there), as were the duvet covers and anything else he could get into his mouth.

The buttons on this cardigan, particularly the second bottom button, did not escape.
Fortunately, in my zeal, I had included an extra button, sewn into the side seam.

Now don't laugh.

There is the possibility that this could become a skirt that is retro/unique/cool/pick your adjective, rather than foolishly clown-like. I know I'm not Kathryn Alexander (I wish!) but surely, in some alternate universe, I could get away with a skirt composed of op-art hexagons?

If not, there are options: (1) overdyeing, or (2) fulling to make a bag or cushion cover or something.

I live in eternal optimism.