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Occasional musings on "life, the universe, and everything" from a fiber junkie.

February 28, 2006

Decisions, decisions
Now that the single-project frenzy of the Knitting Olympics is finished, it's time to begin the delightful process of deciding what to cast on next.
"But wait!" I hear you cry, "Don't you already have a bunch of projects on the needles?"
Of course I do.  What's your point?
Are you seriously suggesting that, having finished a project, I should just work on other existing projects without casting on anything new?  To paraphrase an old Bugs Bunny line, "She don't know me vewwy well, do she?"
Having moved all extraneous projects away from the knitting throne two weeks ago, I began to excavate the craft room on Sunday.  The Shadow Knit, because of the tightness of its gauge, has been left on the back burner for a while.  There's little hope of finishing it in time to wear this winter, so it can wait to be finished for next fall.  Instead, a top-down raglan v-neck in Tahki Tweedy Cotton Classic has taken the "large project spot" next to the throne, so that I can wear it this summer.
A stray ball of Wool-Ease in the Pines shade also found its way to the knitting stand, and seems determined to become a watch cap. The baby blanket I had started on a 10.5 needle was working up much too loosely for my liking, so it was frogged and recast on a size 9, and is looking much better.
The accumulated sock yarns leaped about, waving, shouting "Me next!!" as I pondered which of them to start next, then sulked and pouted when I chose a skein of Socks That Rock in the Pebble Beach colorway.   After casting this on as usual, with 64 stitches, I noticed a very distinct spiral design emerging, so it got pulled out and recast at 72 stitches, to see how the colors would work up that way.  Problem is, that looks awfully loose in the leg.  Time will tell whether it'll get frogged again and restarted on a different needle, or go back to the 64 stitches and enjoy having the colors spiral around the leg.
Though I really enjoyed participating in the Knitting Olympics, sticking to a single project and working to a tight deadline both brought on stress, which is not normally what I look for in knitting.  It's so nice to be able to flit from project to project at the whim of the moment. 
12:32 pm est

February 27, 2006

Olympic Afterthoughts
The Knitting Olympics have definitely been a challenge, but not an impossible  one.  The project entitled "Socks for Bigfoot" was completed Saturday afternoon.
The alert will notice that these socks are fraternal twins rather than identical, due to a slight variation in the dye pattern of the yarn.  Since the difference appears only at the end of the toe, I can't get too worked up about it.
A thousand thanks to The Yarn Harlot for thinking this up and sharing her progress with the world. 
As for the events in Torino, how about those curlers?  Our US men took the bronze, and a passel of Newfoundlanders brought home the gold for Canada.  It was wonderful to be able to come home from work each evening and watch two hours of curling matches!  Now if only the television people would consider airing this sport more often than once every four years...
NBC's coverage of the events left much to be desired.   Remember that by the time they began their prime time coverage each evening, the events were long over.  All that footage was on tape.  NBC chose to air less-popular events and "talking heads" crap early in their nightly broadcasts, leaving the popular events to the time period after 10pm.  Do they not realize that some of us actually work for a living, and need our sleep?  Or do they just not care?   The latter, I suspect.
However, that rant will be refined, written down and sent to NBC on paper.  I don't expect it to make the slightest difference in the way they broadcast future Olympic Games, but at least I will have let them know how awful I thought their coverage was.
9:31 am est

February 23, 2006

On the home stretch
Despite its best avoidance efforts, the heel on the second Bigfoot sock has been completed, and the foot is proceeding apace.
Yep, it looks much like the first one did at this stage in the game.
This is the point in most sock projects, midway down the second sock's foot, that I get most antsy to have it finished, so I can move on to something different.  It's worse than usual this time around, since the Olympic project is the only knitting I've touched since February 10th.  Normally I would have worked on about six different projects in that time period, with moderate progress on each.  With any luck, by Sunday evening the knitting will be done, the toe will be grafted and the ends woven in and I'll have a baby blanket on the needles, in a worsted weight yarn on a size 9 circular.  Gotta have a break from sock yarn on the teensy twos.  It might be weeks before I cast on another sock (or not, you never know).
This challenge has definitely been a fun one!
3:20 pm est

February 22, 2006

Progress and contrasts
Progress is happening, albeit slowly.   The first Olympic sock has been completed, and the second is moving along nicely.  Unless some catastrophe ensues, they should be done by sometime Sunday. 
For contrast, look at the first Bigfoot sock alongside this blue and green one that's destined for my by-no-means small foot:
Yeah, these striped things are big!  There is progress, though, as the second one is just about ready for its heel.   
The heel on these things is one I hadn't tried before, from the book you can see peeping out from under the ball of yarn.  The author calls it a "forethought" heel, as opposed to an "afterthought" heel, since you work it before doing the foot and toe.  This thing fought me on the first sock, and it's fighting me just as persistently on the second.  For most yarns and patterns, I'll continue to use my old favorite flap and gusset heel.  This technique, though, has the advantage of not disrupting the stripe sequence on a self-striping yarn. 
As soon as this second sock gets its toe grafted and ends woven in, I'm planning to get out something in a worsted weight yarn, just to rest my hands from the 2.5mm needles for a bit.
Onward to the podium!
9:17 am est

February 15, 2006

Knitting limbo
The Bigfoot sock has entered that odd limbo-zone that sometimes happens in knitting.  The dratted thing started yesterday halfway down its foot, and after what felt like months of knitting last night, it's still halfway down the foot.  I can see new stripes forming, but the stubborn thing just refuses to grow.  The marks on the tape measure don't seem to have altered their spacing, either. 
What to do, what to do?  Hm... well, the Opal yarn is German by origin, so would cursing at it in German instead of in English help?  Only problem with that is, the only snippets of that language I can remember from high school (back in the dark ages) either ask how to get to the railroad station or announce that someone has broken his leg.  Eclectic, but not terribly useful in this situation. 
Oddly enough, I seem to hear the voice of Rod Serling intoning, "You have now entered the Knitting Zone." 
11:17 am est

February 14, 2006

Surrounded by socks
Now that they've been given to their intended recipient, I can show off the Chain Rib socks:
These were completed last week, and given to my friend Lyn over the weekend.  This cleared the way for the Olympic project, which has been advancing faster than I expected.  At the end of Sunday evening, here's where the first Sock for Bigfoot was:
The tendency of the garter stitch edge to aspire to rufflehood worries me a bit, but with any luck it'll settle down with blocking.  You can't see it well in the photo, but the heel is in fact done.  It's a variant of an afterthought heel (which I had never done before), and it fought me every stitch of the way.  From certain angles, it looks like a big bull's eye. 
As of last night, the sock is about halfway down the foot and cruising at speed.  There's been good progress this far, but having to go to work does cut down the available knitting hours Monday through Friday. 
Now if only all the other yarns in the stash would settle down and stop trying to distract me from my Olympic challenge...
9:51 am est

February 13, 2006

Olympic thoughts
The first weekend of the Olympics is over, and nearly 4000 knitters around the world have risen to the challenge, casting on projects that will stretch their abilities and stamina. 
My own "Socks for Bigfoot" are progressing, though the garter stitch edging at the top of the leg is showing a distressing ambitions of rufflehood.  Photos will be added later, as, with my usual lack of forethought, I haven't uploaded them from the camera yet.  Yes, The Infernal DigiCam has decided to cooperate in capturing a day by day record of Olympic Knitting progress.  Perhaps my threats of assault by nail file and bobby pin have had a positive effect on it.
By the end of day one, I had a little more than four inches of the leg of the first sock done.  Lest you think that's not very much, I'll add that it's 88 stitches per row on size 2 dpns, in a chevron pattern.  With the self-striping Opal yarn, it makes an interesting visual effect.
Near the end of Saturday, the first sock was ready for its heel, but as it's a type of heel I'd never done before, I put it aside to start it the following morning when I'd be less tired.  This was a good decision, as the heel fought me every stitch of the way.  I did finally beat it into submission, and the first sock is now a couple of inches down the foot.
On another, though related, subject:  why, oh why, did NBC not begin showing the Opening Ceremonies earlier on Friday night?  I mean, they had it all on tape, there was no earthly reason why they couldn't have started showing it at 8pm.  As it was, they babbled on about trivial crap for an hour and didn't even begin rolling tape of the ceremonies until about 9pm.  Think of all the children who might have wanted to see the festivities, but were asleep before it even appeared on the screen!  This was a very poor choice on the part of the NBC brass.  Also, they spend way too much time on "talking heads" and too little time showing the actual competitions.  I'd much rather see more of the competitors (from all nations) and less of the studio analysts.  I suspect I'm not alone in this feeling. 
Ah, now that I've gotten that rant out of my system I'm feeling much better. 
10:51 am est

February 9, 2006

Approaching the starting line
Just imagine - more than 3300 knitters all over the world are preparing to put themselves to the test.  Yarns are being marshalled, needles selected, gauge swatches blocked, stocks of essential substances (see below) are being assembled.  In a little more than 24 hours, all of these knitters will begin the tasks they have set for themselves.  It's amazing that it all sprung from one innocent little blog post by the Yarn Harlot. 
My preparations:
  • Arrange to have Friday off work - done!
  • Get the Chain Rib socks finished - done!
  • Ask the cable company to replace ancient equipment (can't risk it dying in mid-competition!) - done!
  • Test obnoxiousness of kitchen stove timer - done!
  • Remove all non-Olympic projects, patterns and yarns from proximity to the knitting chair - scheduled for Friday morning
  • Lay in stocks of the "essential substances" - partially done

My Essential Substances:

  • Coffee (Cinnamon and French Vanilla flavors)
  • Microwavable meals (don't want to waste time cooking!)
  • Chocolate (dark's my preference)
  • Chilled water (4 liters in the fridge preparing)

About the kitchen stove timer - I know from experience that without something to force me to get up from the chair now and then, I'll be so absorbed in my project that I'll sit waaaay too long.  Been there, done that, far too many times.  This results in narsty aches and pains in my arthritic body.  Since my kitchen is more or less open to the living room, I use the stove's timer because it  has a truly obnoxious noise and it will not shut up until you walk over and touch the appropriate button on the stove.    This then reminds me to stretch a bit and loosen up before resetting the timer and going back to the knitting chair. 

Let's hope for "personal best" performances from all the participants, and lots of lovely knitted objects.


11:39 am est

February 8, 2006

It Takes a Village...
The Knitting Olympics now has more participants than the Winter Games.  How wild is that? 
One of the commenters on The Harlot's Feb. 7 post wondered what a Knitters' Olympic Village would be like.   Of course, that started me thinking - and here's my idea of the perfect Knitting Olympics venue:
It would definitely be large, with more than 3000 "villagers" to house and feed.  Sleeping rooms would be comfortable, but fairly simple, as most participants won't be spending much time there.  Bathrooms would include massaging shower heads and jacuzzis, for resting after a hard day's knitting.
Knitters would be able to choose whether to go to a cafeteria to eat or have meals brought to them in the knitting rooms.  Foods available would include choices for all dietary regimens, from vegan to hard-core carnivore.  Meals and snacks would be available 24 hours a day, so those who wish to knit all night can be fed.
The knitting rooms would have a wide variety of chairs, chaises and sofas, so that each participant can find a seat that suits his or her preferences.  Each seat would have its own task lighting, and anyone who needed one would have a music stand to hold patterns where they could be seen easily.  There would be a table at each seat as well, to hold drinks and snacks and those small tools that the knitter needs to have handy.  Knitters would bring their own projects bags stuffed with the yarns, needles and patterns for their event(s).
Some knitting rooms would have large-screen televisions showing the Torino competitions, but for knitters not interested in the sports, there would be rooms showing classic movies, or rooms with soft music in the background.  No knitter would be required to spend all her time in any one room, but instead freely move from one to another.
Each knitting room would be staffed by "Knitters' Helpers" who would bring non-knitting supplies on request (ie, coffee, chocolate, lunch, screech, etc.).  Let's say one helper for about every three knitters.  Masseurs and masseuses would be on call to relax tired shoulders or hands, also to remind participants to get up from their chairs and move around every twenty or thirty minutes.  There would also be a lot of rest rooms adjacent to each of the knitting rooms.
Everyday distractions would not be permitted in the knitting rooms; no telephones, no familes, no bosses, just a little knitting nirvana. 
1:16 pm est

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"Everything happens for a reason, except possibly football." -- Terry Pratchett