Monday, January 31, 2011

FO: Photogenic Scarf

FO: Photogenic Scarf

With Multnomah bound off and more research needed before I start my sweater, I found myself without an active knitting project. So I when Dad went to storage with me last week I decided to pull out some FOs, including the Photogenic Scarf.

FO: Photogenic Scarf

This was the scarf I started because I needed a "photogenic" project for The Yarn Harlot's visit to Austin, then ended up leaving in my desk at work while I was on leave. It's been languishing for a long time, just waiting to be finished.

Long Scarf is Long

I put off finishing the scarf because I couldn't decide how long to make it. I tend to make scarves about five feet long. I'm about five feet tall, so all I have to do is hold it up to get a rough idea of how close I am to finishing. But somehow five feet didn't seem long enough for this scarf. I decided to try for six feet. Then I decided to go all the way, until I used up all the yarn. It was a bold decision that reminded me of the end of "Thelma and Louise". I know that sounds like a weird comparison, but it sounds even weirder when you consider that I've never seen "Thelma and Louise".

I think I ended up with about six and a half feet of scarf.

In the picture above, I had Katie adjust the scarf so you could get an idea of how long it is. Getting the whole thing in the picture was difficult.

Supermodel Pose

Here's Katie with the scarf in the "supermodel pose."

I used the wooden US size 8 needles that I got in the Knitter's Scavenger Hunt Swap, and three skeins of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky in colorway 16. At one point I had the color listed in Ravelry as "Rain Forest", but Yarndex has it listed as "Lily Pad." I think I'm going to call it Lily Pad.

This is another Brioche Rib or Eve's Rib or Mistake Rib or whatever you want to call it scarf. I slipped every third stitch, then shifted the stitch that was slipped on the next row. This created the nice neat rows of Vs you see on each side.

Long Scarf is Long

On Friday I worked on the scarf at the waiting room at the doctor's office. Mom started looking at it, and she put it around her neck at one point. I cracked up when it occurred to me that my scarf was so long that Mom could wear it while I was still knitting it. Right before I completely ran out of yarn, we recreated the moment. I also tried it with Dad, but he blinked. You can see all the photos I took of the scarf here.

After I took this photo, I bound off on the next row. I only had a small piece of yarn left.

After knitting and tinking it a few times, I decided to bind off "in pattern." Basically, I slipped all the stitches that I was supposed to slip in the regular knitting on the bind off row. It kept the end of the scarf from getting stretched out.

I'll leave you with my favorite picture of this scarf. I had Katie use the same pose I used in the picture I took of myself wearing the Entrelac Scarf.

The scarf if eating me!!!!!

There's a cold front coming, so you may see me wearing the scarf like this in the next couple of days.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Dream of Sweaters

Jo Sharp DK Wool

I'm dreaming of a sweater. Again.

I've dreamed of sweaters before. Remember Decimal? Never happened. I actually swatched Candy, but no luck. (Officially, it's still a WIP.) So I'm not sure how far I'll get with this idea, but I'm hopeful.

I have a *lot* of yarn, but I don't have much in the way of sweater amounts of yarn. But I'm not really feeling most of the sweater amounts of yarn I have.

Like the bright turquoise Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair I bought for a sweater a long time ago. Now I don't think I have the guts to wear an entire sweater that color. I think I'd look like a Muppet.

Also, I still have a ton of recycled sari silk left over from this thing, but you see how well that worked out.

And I barely have enough of two colors of Debbie Bliss Angora Cotton for a sweater, but I'm not too keen on the sea green color anymore. It was on clearance at the time, so my color options were limited.

However, I *am* feeling the Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool pictured above. The color is "Viola." The problem is I only have about 1,070 yards, and for a long sleeve sweater in my size, that's not even half of what I need. But it's a decent amount.

So my solution is to make an outrageous stash diving sweater with stripes.

I started getting yarn out of the storage unit Thursday. The process was fun, but it still made me miss my apartment. Dad went with me since I'm too weak to lift all those tubs. I used a spreadsheet printed out with my stash from Ravelry. I'd highlighted some stuff ahead of time to help narrow everything down. I've only looked in three of my numbered tubs so far. I didn't want to spend forever searching through tubs outside the storage unit, and Dad had to go to work after we finished. Dad was very patient with the whole process. On the way home, I explained that we had just been "stash diving."

I considered just using a bunch of single skeins, but I figured I needed something to tie the yarns together. I also considered find a unifying color theme, like all blues and purples, all brights or all warm colors, but I thought I might run out of yarns to use between the color restrictions and the gauge restrictions.

Instead, I decided to use the Jo Sharp yarn is sort of a "base." From there I'm selecting DK weight yarns from my stash that don't clash too much with the shade of purple.*

I have a long road ahead of me. Not only do I need to swatch the Jo Sharp, I'll also have to swatch the other colors and make sure the gauge matches. I'm not going to adjust my stitch count with each yarn change.

And not just any DK weight yarn will work. There may be official Yarn Standards that most yarn manufacturers follow, but there is a lot of wiggle room in those standards. I'm also going to be considering worsted, sport and fingering weight yarns for this sweater as well.

I've just begun to think about the pattern. I wanted to do an Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless construction, but I want a cardigan and all the "patterns" I've found so far are for pullovers. I can use the Elizabeth Percentage System to do more of my own design work, or I could do some steeking. I need to do more research.

Parting Shot

I'm going to leave you with a picture the Multnomah shawl I've been working on. I bound off on Wednesday. It still needs to be blocked, so I'm not calling it done yet.

Multnomah Shawl - Almost Done

* - Or is it blue?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maybe I should save this until Halloween...

Back in December my aunt and uncle came to visit, and as they often do, they brought along some of my late grandparents' things. Among many photographs, vintage costume jewelry and a few newspaper clippings, we found this:


When I saw this doll, I knew I'd have to blog about. And not just because it's crocheted.

The doll looks pretty normal here, although it is very seventies. But if you unfold the blanket, things start to get weird.

I'm melting!

That's right. The baby's body is attached to the blanket. It's like there was a nuclear explosion while the baby was lying on the blanket and it fused to the baby's body. Or a regular baby doll got left in a hot car and melted.

It has a bottle

The head is attached to the blanket at the base of the "skull," and the arms and legs are attached at the "shoulders" and "hip joints" in a similar fashion. The hands are made of the same hard plastic as the face, complete with a baby bottle permanently fused to the baby's right hand. However, the feet are crocheted, and they seem to have been folded over and sewn to make it look like someone bound the poor baby's feet. And if you look closely you can see the line between the body and the blanket. It looks like the creator crocheted a small pillow, then started crocheting around the edges of it to make the blanket.

Is the face alone really that creepy?

The story is that one of my grandmother's coworkers crocheted and sold a bunch of these dolls to people in the office. My grandmother bought a couple for her grandchildren. I didn't get one of these dolls, so we suspect this all happened before I was born.

The babies scared the daylights out of my two older cousins. I don't know if it was the melted body that scared them, or if they just thought the baby doll face was creepy. I'm not sure if the babies went back to my grandmother or just got put away for awhile, but they got rid of them.

Or maybe this is what scared them:

Is this heat or ice?


If I haven't scared you off, you can get a closer look at what's behind the face here. Basically, it's a ball of Poly-Fil stuffing in the foot of some old pantyhose with some more stuffing behind it to round out the back of the head.

I didn't know that stuffing, pantyhose and a piece of plastic could be so scary.

I revisited the Creepy Baby after Mom told me she found a pattern for the same type of doll online. Although it is the same concept, the Puppet Dolly in a Blanket is not scary at all. I think it's because the head isn't a plastic baby doll head, so the face looks like it's the same "species" as the rest of the body. The face can't be pulled most of the way off. Also, the blanket is a different color than the baby's clothes, so the baby's body doesn't look like it's melting. And it's a puppet, which works really well with the attached blanket.

In other words, good job Judith.

I'll leave you with this US Postal Service ad that seems to embody the same kind of creepiness as our Creepy Baby.

(Is it just me, or is the idea of "scary clowns" a fairly new one. I imagine coulrophobia has existed as long as clowns have, but in recent years it seems like the general public tends to find clowns creepy. I still like clowns. As long as their faces don't come off.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

FO: Snakes and Ladders Stole

Snakes and Ladders Stole

In the summer of 2009 when things were pretty nutty, I pretty much quit knitting for a while. I quit going to my regular knitting groups. I quit blogging. I quit spinning. I quit really paying attention to anything related.

I knew not knitting was making me unhappy, but I couldn't quite get in the groove. I felt so behind and out of the loop. So I pushed myself to knit something. That something was Katie Grady's Snakes and Ladders Stole.

Katie in my Shawl

Katie (my sister, not the designer) had said a long time ago that she'd like me knit her stole. When I started in June of 2009, I was on track to finish by Christmas 2009. But Christmas came quickly and I didn't have time to finish the last couple of repeats and block the shawl. But I did finish it by her birthday in March of 2010. The picture above is of her on her birthday, just after opening the gift.

Snakes and Ladders Stole

For a while, I would grill Katie off and on about the type of shawl she wanted, the color, etc. I think she got frustrated with all my questions so I eventually just made most of the decisions on my own. She wanted a rectangle, and she wanted something nice.

I decided I wanted some self-striping yarn, so I got Noro Silk Garden Sock in color S272 from Gauge. I also used US size 2 knitting needles.

The other knitters there that day helped me pick out the colorway. I remember I kept comparing what I thought were "different" colors, and then I'd realize that I had two skeins of the same colorway. That happened a few times. Noro's long color repeats can make the same colorways look very different depending on how the skein is wound.

Snakes and Ladders Stole

I wasn't blogging around the time I finished, and I didn't get a chance to get a good pictures on Katie's birthday. Most of these pictures were taken on my $12 coffee table at my Clean Apartment Party in November, just before I moved. (Hence the cookies in the background of the picture above.) I figured it was better to blog late than never.

Snakes and Ladders Stole

I had the yarn picked out long before I chose a pattern. I was looking for something interesting but not too involved. I didn't want the pattern to overpower the yarn or vice versa, and I wanted something that felt good to knit. The Snakes and Ladders pattern is an 18 row repeat. As you knit, your knitting becomes easier to read and the pattern easier to remember.

To make it wider, I think I cast on 92 stitches instead of the 72 suggested by the pattern. I can't quite remember, but it looks like nine pattern repeats per row from the pictures.

I kind of wonder about the blocking job I did. I've seen lots of pictures where it's stretched so the edges have very sharp points. But it looks like most of the shawls end up with a sort of wavy border like mine. Still, I wish my border was a little more consistent. I need blocking wires. (Remember the Strangling Vine debacle?)

Katie Wearing the Snakes and Ladders Stole

Although it's a stole, Katie wears it like a scarf. And now that it's cold she really does wear it. And the last time she wore it on campus she got lots of compliments. I call this FO a success.

ETA - I just looked at the Ravelry page for this project and discovered that I did cast on 92 stitches. Apparently I had forgotten that I documented it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

FO: Foo-Foo

Foo-Foo on the surprising realistic apples

Foo-Foo with the surprisingly realistic apples.

This Christmas I was broke, so I tried to make most of my gifts. (I'll blog more about those other gifts later.) But my back and neck were hurting, so I was limited in what I could do. I pushed myself really hard to finish everything on time, but I had to give up before I finished two of my gifts. I ended up hurting really badly Christmas Eve anyway.

So while I was house sitting I finished up the last two gifts. One gift involved downloading, organizing and burning CD's of all the pictures Mom and Dad have taken since 2006. The other gift was Foo-Foo.

Foo-Foo with the shells

Foo-Foo on the bookshelf with the shells.

Foo-Foo decided to explore the house after I finished her. The first picture was her with the surprising realistic looking apples. The picture above is her with some shells on a bookshelf. The homeowners have all sorts wonderful little details for her to explore.

Foo-Foo by the decorative plate on the mantel

Foo-Foo by the decorative plate on the mantel.

Foo-Foo was a gift for Dad in honor of Bunny Foo-Foo* and to thank him for all the ways he helped me with her. Dad and Bunny Foo-Foo were very close. When Bunny Foo-Foo was at home, Dad would share tortilla chips with her, so Foo-Foo came with a bag of tortilla chips.

Foo-Foo in the Christmas Tree

Foo-Foo in the Christmas tree.

Foo-Foo was knit from the Knitted Bunny Pattern from HeartStrings FiberArts. I used US size 6 needles and about half a skein of Moda Dea Dream in Nutmeg (color 3335.)

Foo-Foo with the Knick Knacks

Foo-Foo on another shelf in the bookshelf.

The Knitted Bunny is pretty cool. You knit a perfect square, fold it like origami and sew it up. Of course, my square wasn't perfectly square, and I was impatient with the measurements, so I had to fudge sewing the legs a little bit. That is probably why she has a pinhead and a big butt.

(I realized after she was done that there was measuring tape in my bag.)

Foo-Foo on the globe

Foo-Foo on top of the world!

The ears are the only part knit separately from the main square. I knit them using "Barbara White's Ears Variation, " which is listed on the pattern's website. You end up with a line of stockinette stitches going up the ear to help them stand up. Mine are still a bit on the floppy side. Also, they were a little big for the head, so I sewed them so they overlapped.

Foo-Foo on the Piano

Foo-Foo on the piano.

Foo-Foo's eyes are black pony beads I had in my craft stash. The original bunny doesn't have eyes, but I thought she needed some. The sewing is a little chunky so the eyes bug out a bit. I also "borrowed" a cotton ball from the homeowners for the tail.

Foo-Foo in the Flowers

Foo-Foo in the flowers.

There is an entire set of pictures of Foo-Foo here, including more adventures and closer looks at some of the details. I hope you check them out. They're lots of fun.

Dad and Foo-Foo

Dad with Foo-Foo.

Now that Dad has Foo-Foo, she is probably done traveling. She's in his office, watching over everyone. I may make another Knitted Bunny for myself just for some Flat Stanley style traveling.

* - If you're confused, Bunny Foo-Foo was the real bunny. The stuffed bunny is simply named "Foo-Foo."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The First Blog of 2011

It's New Year's Day, and I've decided I want to catch up on my blog as part of a fresh start. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to blog at least once a week. I'm happier when I blog, but I got off course with all the craziness in 2009.

A lot has happened since my Election Day blog. I'm going to start with what's going on now and work backwards.

Lunch while House Sitting

I'm house sitting as I write this.

We have good family friends who went to Disney World, and they asked me to house sit. The hardcore kind of house sitting where you actually live in the house. I can't believe I'm being paid to do this.

Every morning I wake up in their big beautiful house, look around and say "Yep, it's still here" and go back to sleep. Besides some basic things like getting the mail and covering up the plants when it's going to be cold, I've had a lot of quiet time to myself to knit, watch TV and think. I even balanced my checkbook, paid my bills and accomplished a few other things.

They left me a big tray of noodles to eat. I thought the picture above captured the mood pretty well. I was enjoying one of my Christmas sodas and some noodles at a nice dining room table with surprisingly realistic looking* apples. You can see their pretty Christmas tree in the back ground. It's a nice change from being crammed into such a small space.

My shawl and the recliner

I'm in pain. Lots of pain.

Remember when I talked about my constant headache? I would love to go back to complaining about a mild headache and a little neck pain. Something seriously shifted in November. I started having right side shoulder pain in addition to the left side headache. The shoulder pain escalated until the day before Thanksgiving, when I went to the ER because my entire back was spasming. I missed Thanksgiving (along with my parents) because I was in too much pain to visit our friends. By Thanksgiving Day, the good stuff they had given me in the ER had worn off.

While I've gotten gradually better, I'm not in good shape. That's another reason why I'm glad to be house sitting. Sitting around is one of the few things I can handle. As long as I have a supportive chair, a heating pad, the option to lie down, pillows to get myself into comfortable positions and the painkillers and muscle relaxers that I've been taking for more than a month now.

My back needs lots of support, especially my upper back. Sitting up feels like work, and if I do it for too long without something to lean back on, it hurts even more. I also have problems lifting "heavy" objects. I'm finally getting to the point where I can pour milk again. Anything that requires any real force hurts. I sliced some cheese for a sandwich a week or two ago, and I really regretted it afterward. Also, I have to get someone else to open the sliding door on Mom and Dad's van. I haven't driven since the day before Thanksgiving because I'm concerned about being able to turn the wheel and check my blind spot. (And because I've been doped up on painkillers most of the time.)

"Strenuous" activities have a cumulative effect. The more I sit up and use the upper body without rest, the more spasms I have. I have to push myself to do things without overdoing it.

Immediately after my ER trip, it hurt too much to knit or use the computer, which was awful. Fortunately, I've recovered enough to do both of those, although I have to take breaks and watch what position I sit in.

I don't have any real answers or any sense of what my prognosis is. Basically, vertebrae in my neck are rubbing together, and nerves are getting pinched. I managed to really pinch something right before Thanksgiving. I have an appointment Monday, and I'm hoping it will shed some light on the situation.

The picture above is of me showing off my Multnomah shawl in the recliner I basically live now. I'm so glad my parents have this chair. It supports my back, yet I can sit up enough to knit, use my laptop and talk to people.

(I'll have more on my shawl later.)

I broke the board!

I finally finished cleaning my apartment. Then I moved out of it and moved in with my parents.

I mentioned before that I was cleaning my apartment. I finished in mid-November. This includes getting every bit of my stuff out of storage and either putting it into my apartment or getting rid of it.

In honor of the event, I held a party with my friends. About 15 minutes before the first guest arrived, I had every tiny detail in place everything relatively clean. I took some pictures. Then we all ate chili and played board games. Then we took more pictures.

Before I lost my job, we did an exercise during training where we all wrote goals that seemed impossible on boards. Then the teacher showed us how to break boards with our hands. After that we took turns breaking our boards to symbolize that we could achieve these goals. I wrote "Clean my apartment and maintain it. (With all the stuff in storage.)" on my board.

The picture above is of me and my broken board in my clean apartment.

After the party was over I took a break. Then I started packing up, because my lease was up on Nov. 30, and I didn't renew it.

I was doing fairly well financially on unemployment for a while. But the medical costs of trying to cure the headache took their tole, even with Mom and Dad's help, and I wasn't finding work. I was scheduled to be out of benefits in early December.

Mom and I started talking about me moving back home in August. I kept lowering my pay requirements, but nothing came. So I finally gave my apartment my notice of intent to move out.

I know I'm really lucky to have parents that will help me financially and let me move in with them. I'm thankful that I have a soft place to fall. I love my parents, and without them I would have had to move under the bridge a long time ago. But this isn't a good situation. There isn't enough room for all of us, both literally and figuratively.

And moving back in with my parents is humiliating enough, but now I can't drive or do much of anything for myself. It's stressful for all of us.

So my stuff is all back in storage, except for a couple of bins on the floor of my room, some clothes in the closet, my bed, my dresser, my TV and my nightstand. I share my childhood room with two bookshelves full of Mom and Dad's stuff and stuff in the closet that Katie left behind when she moved out.

The good news is that the move was easier because I had cleaned up, especially since Mom and Dad had to do a lot of the packing because I couldn't lift anything. And since I need so much help physically, it's good that I'm at home with people to help me.

And it makes me appreciate house sitting even more.

I did have a job for a short time. I had to quit because of the pain.

It was call center job as a customer service rep. As I did with my last job, I won't talk about the details of my job on my blog. Things were going pretty well while I was there, although it didn't pay very much.

But I started the Monday before Thanksgiving, right about the time when the pain started getting really bad. I made it through the three days before Thanksgiving. I didn't go to the ER until Wednesday night.

I had the Thanksgiving weekend to recover, then I went back Monday. I thought I'd be OK, but after a full day of sitting up without much back support, I was in really bad shape.

I couldn't come in the next day. Or the day after. I finally resigned so I could leave in good standing and be eligible for rehire.

So that's the last two months. The move, the job and the pain all converged in a perfect storm of suckiness around Thanksgiving. Now I'm hoping for a better 2011. Or at least more blogging.

* - No, I did not try to eat a fake apple. But I did pick one up and knocked on it to see if it was real.