31 July 2007

I Love Knitting, Really

Last night I finished the second sleeve for the Celtic Icon sweater. That's it over on the left in its natural state. I figured for photography's sake I should do a quick bit of blocking so that you'd be able to see the thing in a more sleeve like shape. I gave the sleeve a quick bath and pinned it out and voila. It's looking pretty good if I do say so myself. There's only one slight problem. As with most good patterns, there's a schematic that shows the dimensions that the sleeve should be when it's done. It should be 9.5 inches wide at the cuff. Check. It should be 16.5 inches wide at the widest point. Check. It should be 26.75 inches long. Um, come again? 26.75 inches from top to bottom. So by 26.75 you actually mean 30, right? Nooo, that would be 3.25 inches too long, I mean 26.75 inches. Houston, we have a problem.
**You'll love this, my daughter just walked into the room and asked "Mom, what's that?" "A sleeve." "That's a really long sleeve." **
You remember that I said that this is the second sleeve, right? And that being the think ahead person that I am I made sure that I had the same number of pattern repeats, so they're EXACTLY alike? I now have sleeves for an orangutan sweater. How do I do this to myself?

Photography tip: If you want to take a good photo of textured knitting like cables it's a good idea to have your light coming from the side rather than overhead, and don't use a flash. You need the shadows to make the texture pop.

27 July 2007

It's Over

Well, VBS is over, and I'm glad. It's a wonderful opportunity for the kids, they all have a great time, they learn some fun stuff, but man it is a lot of work. I'm only in charge of one station and I feel like I could sleep for 3 days straight. I can only imagine how our coordinator feels this evening.

Last night I worked on the Wallaby and finished it up. I made it without the trademark pocket in front, so I'm not even sure if I can call it a wallaby. Maybe it's just a cute hooded sweater now. Whatever we decide to call it, it's done and in the donate pile. As I finished it up though, I thought to myself, "This would have been cute with some black stripes in it. I have almost a full skein of green left, and I happen to have a skein of the same yarn in black. Hmmm..." I think I know what the next project for the donate pile will be.

No more news on The Bag. It's still wet, although it was moved to a room with more air circulation and put on a wire cooling rack to try to speed up the drying process. This may be that final trick that The Bag is trying to pull on me: it will be wet forever.

25 July 2007

Presto Change-o

The knitting is finished on the Stag Bag. I was intending to felt it, so after sewing up the bottom seam I sent it on a trip in the washer with my jeans. I put it in, then got distracted by the no-longer-broken girl who wanted me to answer trivia questions for her so she could buy a bathtub for her Webkinz pet. The bag swam in the hot water a little longer than it should have, and is a smidgen smaller than I was intending to make it, but I can live with the results. The tape measure is pulled out to the same place in both photos, so you can see that the hot water and agitation did what they were supposed to. In the photo it's still soaking wet, so I'll take a better picture after it's dried out.

24 July 2007

Soooo Tiiiiired...

It's Vacation Bible School week at our church, and I'm once again leading Chadder's Adventure Theater 5 times every morning. It only lasts from 9:00 till 12:30, and there are several times when I'm not "working" but I have to tell you that this is one of the most exhausting things I do all year. To put it into perspective, when we were in Marquette visiting my parents earlier this year I helped my father, brother and son pull down two big trees that were leaning in the wrong direction. Easy in comparison, I tell you. I had to take a nap when I got home this afternoon. There's something about keeping a large group of kids (variously aged between 5 and 11) focused on one thing for just 20 minutes that's quite fatiguing. I've always thought that teachers deserve some kind of medal at the end of the year.

Before collapsing into bed last night I did have a little time to work on The Bag. So far, so good. With luck I can get it done in a couple of more days. Of course napping cuts into the knitting time...

22 July 2007

Kettles, Moraines, Kames, etc

We just spent a couple of days camping in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit. It's a pretty spot north and west of Milwaukee. We stayed at Mauthe Lake. Our camp site reservations said that in the area we were booked in most of the sites were shaded by hardwood trees. What this really means is that of the 26 sites on our loop, 4 were out in the blistering sunlight. I'll leave it to you to decide whether Murphy's law kicked in or not. I will just say this; we were there with a friend and his son, and one of us had a great campsite with lots of shade and a great "back yard" that went down a hillside to a major walking trail, while the other had a nice rendition of a camp from Survivor Serengeti.

While we were there I did get to spend a little time working on the Wallaby. Here's a picture of a sleeve looking out of our tent. The sleeve and I were in the tent because the biting flies were just as interested in the shade as I was. If you've never been camping before you need to know that the temperature inside a tent can change extremely rapidly. Let's say that it's about 80F outside, but the clouds are covering the sun. In that case the tent will be very comfortable. Once the clouds blow away, however, it takes 2.6 seconds for the tent to turn into a sauna. Once the sleeve was long enough to join up with the body and his other sleeve friend, we took a break and walked the mile down to the lake where the rest of the party was.

We had a good time, even though we forgot to bring several things with us, or brought the wrong thing. It would have been nice to spend a few more days there, they have a lot of nice trails and a lot of glacial features. We went to the Ice Age Visitors center and watched part of a lovely (yawn) movie about how the glaciers formed much of the Midwest's landscape. We climbed Dundee Mountain (which is actually a kame) and the kids got to play in Mauthe lake. I think on a scale of 1 to 5 I'd give this trip 4 tents.

18 July 2007

A Task Slowly Done is Surely Done

We're coming right along, the Stag Bag and me. We've gotten past our rather rocky beginning, we've worked out some minor kinks in our relationship, we've found a way to communicate with each other. I will admit that some of what I communicate is not entirely appropriate for family audiences, and the bag has had its moments of ... reticence, but on the whole we seem to have slid into the comfortable, been-together-for-a-while-and-have-it-pretty-much-worked-out stage.

Today I got to sit and knit with a friend's sister-in-law who is originally from Moldova. I explained how to work an attached i-cord edging to the cardigan she's making. She apologized for always asking me questions when she comes to visit, but I assured her that it's OK. It is rare for me to mention knitting without my audience's eyes glazing over and drool beginning to leak from the corners of their mouths. She also told me that her LYS had just had a big sale and everything was at least 25% off, and up to 80%. She wanted to know if she should call me next time they had a sale like that. I assured her that it would be just fine if she let me know. She also claimed that she had decided that she was only going to buy wool at that store when they have a sale. "Just once each year. Is a good idea, yes?" So naive. I'm going to invite her to Stitches in August. He he he he.

17 July 2007

Rain, Finally

It's a rainy day here in the Chicago suburbs. I am happy. Not only do my plants need this urgently, but I had been growing concerned about the safety and well being of my home and neighborhood. Until today all of the lawns as well as the grass in the park across the street have been growing increasingly brown and crunchy. My concern for safety is related to the charming college boy next door and his friends. They have been know to just throw stuff on the ground while hanging out next door. This includes pop cans, fast food bags, and their cigarettes. While it irks us a little to have to pick up their junk when it blows into our yard, I think it would be infinitely worse to have one's house burned down because the tinderbox, I mean lawn, got torched by a lazy kid.

I have progressed somewhat on "The Bag." The stag now had discernable legs, which is very exciting considering how he looked not too long ago. I will confess that I am doing a lousy job of keeping things flat. I speculate that the problem comes from knitting quasi-continental and going fast, so my stitches tend to be all jammed up on my right needle. They don't get enough slack in the floats so they pull. I am deluding myself into thinking that this is something that can be corrected at least somewhat in the blocking. I will try not to think of the Yarn Harlot who said something along the lines of, if you're expecting blocking to fix it, you're in trouble.

I have also cast on a mindless project, a little Wallaby for the charity pile. This will be handy at least twice this week, as I am going to a guild meeting tomorrow night, and I am about to look up show times for Transformers so I can take the no-longer-broken girl to see it this afternoon.

13 July 2007

Powerless in the Hands of Fate

Did I not say that fate would slap me down? It would seem that the Stag Bag has played its next card in our little showdown. If you look at the picture to the left (you don't even have to look carefully, it's that bad) you'll see that I am incapable of making my chevrons do what they are supposed to. The killer is that of the four chevron areas, I'm consistently screwing up the same one. As the knitters out there know, I now have four choices: Unknit the last five rows one stitch at a time; take it off the needles and rip back; leave it in as a symbol of my imperfection; or get out the crochet hook and drop each of the twelve stitches down, then pick them up using the right color. I must confess that I seriously considered option three, but I'm giving this to someone as a gift and I don't think I could live with the shame of it, so crochet hook here I come.

In other news, the broken girl has been decasted and is now free to immerse her arm in as much water as she wants to. The break is healing nicely and as long as she stays away from monkey bars and cartwheels for the next couple of weeks she should be fine. I find it interesting that it is now quite easy to spot the break on the x-ray now that the arm is healing. On the original it was just a squiggly grey line, but on the new ones it's pretty obvious where it fractured.

12 July 2007

Back From Vacation

We're back from our mini-vacation to Marquette (that's in Michigan, not Wisconsin for those who are thinking basketball-ly.) A lovely time was had by all, even the girl in the cast who couldn't get her arm wet. This was unfortunate as Marquette is on Lake Superior and we made several beach excursions. On the plus side, no one really swims in Lake Superior anyway, it's just too cold.

I accomplished almost no knitting while there. If I had been thinking I would have brought along a sock to put in my photos, which I understand is a very knit-bloggy thing to do, but I didn't think about it till I got home. I did do a bit of work on the Stag Bag, and this time it looks like the bag and I will be able to live harmoniously. I even broke out the calculator and figured out how to get the chevrons to work nicely in their new alignment BEFORE I got to the center panel. I would give myself a pat on the back, but fate doesn't like arrogance and slaps it down when given the chance. I will just say that I shall attempt to integrate the whole "forward thinking" thing into my knitting arsenal. I predict that it will last till approximately the end of this project.