Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Progress on Mr. Stripey

I've decided to name the new sock project Mr. Stripey, in honor of the beautiful stripes that are appearing like magic as I knit--see the progress to the right. I thought that this would be just a variegated, heathery yarn, but these stripes are really really pretty and a great surprise. Generally, when a surprise (or Ueberraschung, as we say auf Deutsch) appears in knitting, it leads to the ripping out or total abandonment of said project, so this is great.

I'm growing a tomato plant called Mr. Stripey that may or may not produce some giant striped tomatoes. You can see the stripes a little on the green fruit to the right, but given that it's starting to feel like Fall in the Pacific Northwest, I'm not sure that it will turn red. The only reason that I picked this plant is that E____ G_____ grew a mighty giant tomato from one a few summers ago, and the name cracked me enough that that I felt I had to grow my own. Sadly, E___ came to visit me when the tomato was ripening, and he met his demise due to overripening and a giant pest of some sort. Poor Mr. "Somerville" Stripey--this sock is dedicated to you.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Stu, etc.

Stu (the whole pair) is finished, as the photo on the right shows. Nine days for one pair of socks isn't too bad, especially given my hectic baseball schedule. The Mariners have had a pretty good week, they won two out of the three games I went to and three others as well. The series wins against the Yankees & Red Sox would feel better if we still had a chance to win the AL West, though.

Frieda and Gretel highly recommend this story about Picasso in the New York Times, although they object to the characterization of the dachshund as "a sausage with four short legs and two pointed ears".

What's next in the Sock Wars prep, you ask? Learning to knit two socks on one set of needles at the same time! Mom and I have signed up for a class at Renaissance Yarns, a yarn shop that recently opened in Kent. Also, I have a new sock started, but there isn't much to show yet. The pattern is "Railroad Rib Socks" from Fiber Trends, the yarn is Trekking XXL, a nice variagated German yarn. I'm not sure if this start is going to take, because it looks like the sock could end up larger than planned, but it needs a little more time.

Bumbershoot is coming next weekend, who do you think I should go and see? I'm mapping out a plan now, but I'm still looking for ideas. For the first time this year, there are some lectures / panels that I'm interested in. The Home Economics features Yarn Harlot and Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Gary Shteyngart is also appearing on a panel, I highly recommend both The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan. There are a ton of music options as usual, but I'm indecisive so far. I'd like to see Nouvelle Vague, and Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, maybe even Blondie--let me know if there's anyone I shouldn't miss.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

An entire entry with multiple photos of a square.

After burning my hand (not that badly, but uncomfortably) ironing on Saturday, I switched to a sewing project that involved virtually no ironing. A square! To sit on!

Next week is Bumbershoot, a big outdoor festival in Seattle. I'm planning to be there for most of the 3-day weekend, and given that the ground in Seattle is pretty much always damp, I wanted to have something to sit on that I could cram in my bag. S__ M__ and E___ G_____ can confirm the potential dampness of Bumbershoot, S___ in particular. Similar to the Mackintosh square, it's meant to be mostly waterproof, and to protect the user from "damp grass and cold marble". The top is a a heavy-ish canvas and the back is the tent bottom fabric. There's a thin batting in between, and the corners have fabric strips that I can use to hook it onto the outside of a bag. The canvas fabric is from Repro Depot, and I got the nylon on the back at the Seattle Fabrics booth at a sewing expo. Both have been in the sewing room for months and months, along with a big grommet setter that I couldn't quite get to work today. Hence, no corner grommets. The square is about 25" or 26", big enough to sit cross-legged and (hopefully) keep people out of my personal space. I've never quite gotten over the Personal Space Crisis of 1988 or 89, when a hippie at a Grateful Dead campground woke me up to ask for a hug. That is not an exaggeration, either--if anything, I'm understating the horror.

An added bonus is that my square matches perfectly the 25 year old vinyl flooring in our kitchen.

Product testing results (as well as photos & talk about Bumbershoot) will be posted during and/or after next weekend.

Any Project Can Last Forever

So back in June when I went to my college reunion, I neglected to bring any hostess gifts with me for the people who let me stay with them and/or kept an eye on Frieda while I mingled with classmates and pretended to be successful. I promised E_____ G______ that I would make her a skirt, because she was such a good sport about housing me and Frieda in her no-pets allowed apartment. For instance, she must have had to do at least three loads of laundry related to my visit, at a laundromat down the street. And she cheerfully scrambled an egg for Frieda when I called from the Mass Pike and told her that Frieda's dog food was in my luggage at Logan Airport (long story).

Anyhoo, it's almost September and the skirt is not yet finished. Other things (like the knitting craze, and the heat wave) came up, and my quest to complete it has failed. I'm teaching myself to use French Seams, which essentially doubles the work. It's not just that I'm lazy, though--today I decided I would work on it, and one of the first things I did was burn three of the fingers on my left hand. It burns, E____, it burns!! French Seams involve a LOT of ironing, and whenever my fingers got near the iron it hurt, so once again the project has stalled. But here are some photos, so that E____ can at least see that the skirt is not imaginary, and that it isn't the sequin-spangled circus theme monstronsity that I've been telling her about.

Here's a French Seam on the inside:

Look--no raw edges!

And here's where the skirt meets the flounce:

The pattern is from Favorite Things, it's the Cute Skirt Pattern. I think that this skirt will be really cute, assuming that I can find a couple of accident free hours to finish it up. It will still be good for fall, won't it? It's mostly black, after all!

Does your dachshund have large talons?

The answer is yes, she does have large talons. And they are sharp, too.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lazy Sunday (or should I say weekend)

Every extremely productive weekend must be offset by a weekend like this one, a weekend spent mostly in front of the television, or actively avoiding effort of any kind. Gretel was spayed on Friday, so she's supposed to be kept from running and jumping. No trips to the dog park, no walk/run around the neighborhood, and a lot of telling her not to jump. It's hot here by NW standards, so that's another deterrent from doing anything much!

To sum up this weekend's big stories (pathetic, I know):

The Seattle Mariners just lost their 11th game in a row. I've got tickets for three games next week, two against the Yankees and one against the Red Sox. It's going to be a loooooooog week at Safeco.

Here's what Gretel has been doing for most of the day:

Here's what Frieda has been doing for most of the day, since her sparring partner has been leaving her alone:

But even this weekend is not without accomplishments! I've finished Stu sock 1:

The lessons I've learned are:

  • the it's tough to graft a toe when the yarn isn't very smooth or tightly spun
  • my normal cast on is probably a little tight for socks
  • these socks are going to look awesome with my blue, square-toed Wolky clogs

I've started sock 2, but am eager to start another pair to try the two-socks-at-once magic loop method. Sock Wars are coming!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stu moves up the charts

Stu keeps on, keeps on, dancin'--I've turned the heel, and am hoping to have one finished sock in the next couple of days. Assuming I can ignore all of my other weekend projects, that is! I like that just as I turned the heel, the light blue/green section of yarn started. The bottom of the sock is easy to see. I'm not in love with the roll top cuff, but I like the leg pattern because it adds some texture and is very easy to follow without being glued to the pattern.

Cupcake Surprise

Recently I went to Boston for a very short trip to see The Neighborhoods play a rock show on the cape. I was flying standby on some heavy travel days, and ended up spending more time travelling (including the drive to/from the Cape) than pretty much anything else. On top of that, I convinced two friends to drop all other plans for the weekend, drive me to the Cape, drive me to the show, share an expensive but poorly-appointed motel room with a college friend they barely knew. One of these friends recently underwent finger surgery while travelling in Germany, and the other also let me crash at her pad on my single night in Boston. After my return, after many guilty hours recalling their sacrifices (and the sacrifices I will again demand the next time the 'Hoods play), I made and sent them each a knitted cupcake.

The cupcakes "papers" are made with two strands of yarn, the yellow yarn is called "bambino" and the green yarn is Dale Babygarn. The frosting is a pink novelty yarn that I picked up at JoAnn fabrics, I've lost the label. The pattern is from One Skein by Leigh Radford.

The cupcakes were pretty popular at the office, where they were squeezed, smashed, fake-eaten, and pelted over cubicle walls. These are almost impossible NOT to throw at things, they are just the right size but can't actually cause much damage--at least not the kind of damage that a real cupcake could supply.

Gretel tried to get in on the act, both during the creation and the photography of the cupcakes. She sees no problem with getting into yarn and tearing it apart, at least not until she gets caught.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Disco Stu . . . Likes Disco Music

In preparation for Sock Wars 2006, I'm teaching myself to knit socks in the round using the Magic Loop method. Basically, this method allows one to knit a tube using a circular needle instead of multiple double pointed needles. It's incredibly straightforward--so much so that I regret having spent $8 on the booklet that explains it.

To practice this, I am using Schoeller + Stahl yarn, and a pattern called Crusoe. I picked this yarn the name of the yarn is "Disco", and I hereby name this pair of socks Stu. Silver flecks of some sort are spun into the yarn, you can slightly see the glinting. And the ball band has some sort of advertising narrative printed on the inside in German. My poor German has grown increasingly rusty, but I think that the last sentence reads something like "let your self be surprised by the beautiful, exotic color-play--as colorful as life!" Who says Disco Stu doesn't advertise?

Here's a first look at Stu, just the start of the rolled top. The needles for the yarn are Skacel Addi #1, 40 inch circular. For those of you who are not avid knitters, #1 = very small. Another cool thing about this yarn is that it should create stripes through no effort by me. Yippee, no effort! Except the effort of turning 460 yards of yarn into two socks, that is.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I am so close to being almost momentarily famous

This summer the Mariners held their second annual Stitch N' Pitch night, and my photo made another knitters' blog:

Purl of a Girl: Stitch N' Pitch 2

I was wearing my felted baseball bag, made from a Hilltop Yarn pattern and a shirt from the store, too. I thought it was funny that the baseball bag got a ton of comments at this particular game--I've taken it to maybe 15 other games this season, and it barely gets any notice so I forget that it's such a great pattern. I wasn't at Stitch N' Pitch last year, but I saw the sample last winter and had to make it for my trip to Spring Training. This bag set off my felted bag craze, too.

Back to this year--the game itself stunk, but since we were high up on the third deck and way out in left field it was hard to concentrate on the baseball. Plus, people all around us were working on interesting projects, and there were lots of vendors to check out. I brought home a kit for felted dog toys (don't tell Frieda and Gretel), and a pair of baseball needles:

My suspicion is that it will take more time to make the dog toys than it will for the dogs to destroy them, which is part of the reason that I haven't started them yet. Any opinions out there on which colors to start with?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Productive Saturday

Busy day today . . .

  • Hot Yoga in Ballard first thing in the morning
  • On the way home, run errands, including a stop at a farm stand for pickling cucumbers
  • Prepare 5 lbs. of cucumbers & 3 onions for pickling (they soak overnight)
  • Can six jars of hot pickled green beans
  • Prepare crumble topping from the delicious Craigie Street Bistrot
  • Finish one knitted Christmas present
  • Re-felt the blue and charcoal striped bag
  • Rip out a tricky swatch for a wrap that I'm working on. It was painful, but I made some mistakes in the yarn-overs on the right side. And I'm not sure that I like the look of this yarn in this pattern--I think that I may have bought the wrong yarn, and not enough of it at that.

Anyway, this seems like a lot of work for one Saturday, and I have to finish the cucumber pickles tomorrow. What was I thinking??

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I love Overheard in New York

If only this post was about crafts, and a day earlier, it would have been the perfect start to my blog:

Yet, For Some Reason, a Journal Doesn't Seem Public Enough

Hipster boy #1: I've decided to start a blog.
Hipster boy #2: It's about time!
Hipster boy #1: I know. And I'm not doing it because of the peer pressure. It's just for me.

--Bowery Ballroom, Delancey St

via Overheard in New York, Aug 10, 2006

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bark in the Park!

Back in June, the Tacoma Rainiers held a "Bark in the Park" night, so we took Frieda and Gretel to see the game. Although I don't normally force the dogs to wear clothes, I made them each a collar cover / clown collar with a baseball theme for the occasion. Here's how Gretel looked:

At the game, Gretel was very calm and a little shy. Frieda had to greet everyone, dog and human alike. And if there was popcorn dropped, or a hotdog nearby, all the better. I tried to get a photo of them together, but they all turned out like this:

Blurry, dog fighting shots are my new specialty!

Secret Projects

I'm just starting this blog, and I'd like to post information and photos of a few projects that I've been working on, but there's a problem. They may or may not be projects that will directly benefit the most likely readers of this post, and the projects may or may not ever be finished. So for now I'll concentrate on things I'm making for me (or my dogs), at the risk of seeming totally self absorbed. After all, what is a blog really, if not an exercise in self-absorption?

I started this bag a few weeks ago, it's nearing completion. The pattern is from Noni Bags, it's the medium carpet bag, and I used Cascade 220 yarn. The bag is felted, it was MUCH larger before felting--no, I didn't take a photo. The felted bag is 15" wide x 10" tall by 5" deep. It's a few inches wider/deeper than the pattern calls for it to be, so I may felt it a little more.

The flower is another pattern from Noni Bags, the Camellia Flowers pattern. I really like the way that it looks after felting, it's a very bright red although it looks orange-y in the colors on my monitor. The flower is about 7" across.

Here's the flower and the bag together. Now it just needs handles and lining, and maybe some reinforcement so that it doesn't get too saggy. I'm having trouble finding handles that are black and large enough so that they aren't dwarfed by the bag.