Wednesday, August 30, 2006

cables and twisting and grafting, oh my!

First things first: anybody know the difference between macro and super macro? I discovered that my camera had a super macro function and thought, "well if macro is good, just imagine how much better SUPER macro must be!" But then I kept getting images that looked like this:

i suck at super macro

Super, it is not.

Annnnyway. Remember when I mentioned my deep desire for something cabley? Actually, the desire was much more specific. Inspired by Eunny's pretty pink top, what I really wanted was an intricate, delicate-yet-geometric cabled braid with each strand being one twisted stitch wide. Some charting and swatching led me to an 8-strand braid, with two 4-strand braids that intertwine with each other. I should maybe mention that my ambition got the best of me - I had never done any cables more complicated than the standard hold-3-stitches-to-the-front/back, knit 3, then knit the 3 stitches you were holding. But I figured that it couldn't be too much more complicated to pass knit stitches over purl stitches, or twisted knit stitches over purl stitches. Turns out, it wasn't too complicated at all.

twisted-stitch cable pattern

(That's before blocking, I tried to stretch it out a little in the middle there so you can see the pattern better.)

The really challenging part was figuring out how to get the band to be a circle. I didn't want to bind off and seam it, or use a provisional cast-on and a 3-needle bind off, because that would leave me with only one seam. For symmetry, I would have been okay with either 2 seams or no seams - but a seam on just one side would have driven me crazy. So I considered knitting two cabled bands, and joining them by 3-needle bind offs on both sides... but really, I knew I could do better than that.

Instead of casting on with the purple, I started with some scrap white yarn. Worked the first few rows of the pattern, switched to purple... and then at the end, I switched to green scrap yarn and worked a few more rows.


The next step was to graft. Now, I'm normally very comfortable with grafting, but I have to admit, the idea of grafting twisted-stitch cables made me a little nervous. First I went through very loosely, just trying to follow the path of the white and green yarn.


Then I went back and removed the scraps, and tightened it up.


Um... grafting? What grafting? *whistles and looks around innocently*

Last night I picked up stitches along one edge of the band and started working down in the round - it's going very quickly, and I'm loving every minute of it. (It better be going quickly, if I hope to finish the tanktop in time to wear it before next year!)

And now, the roommate knitting update you've all been waiting for: Before I left for vacation, I taught her how to knit and purl, with a brief comment about bringing the yarn to the front or back between stitches to switch within a row. I expected that when I came home, her square would be in exactly the same shape it was in when I left. So imagine my surprise to see that she had ripped the whole thing out, cast on again, and worked about 7" of perfect 2x2 ribbing!!

I may have created a monster.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

home, home again

I'm back! And I am POOPED. Even though I got back Sunday night and it is now Tuesday afternoon, my trip just wore me out. It had a few phases.

  1. On Friday afternoon, I went to the Yankees-Red Sox game with my roommate. We watched the Yankees crush the Red Sox at Fenway Park - woohoo! The Yankees went on to sweep all 5 games of the series, making me a very happy New Yorker.
  2. After the game, I rushed back to the apartment, grabbed my bags, and got on a flight to New York. I spent Friday night at my parents' house.
  3. From Saturday morning to Monday evening, me and my sister drove from New York to Iowa, where she goes to school. This included staying at her friend's farm in central Illinois on Sunday night. More on that later.
  4. On Tuesday, my mom flew out to Iowa, and she and I helped my sister move in.
  5. From Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon, my mom and I embarked on a zig-zagging route south and west of Iowa. Before the trip, my mom had been to 45 states. She has now been to all 50. (Me, I still have 15 to go even after the trip.)
  6. Friday evening, I flew to Chicago to visit a friend of mine who graduated this past May. I stayed with him until Sunday.
  7. Finally, on Sunday I flew home. Because AirTran SUCKS, I got home about 6 hours later than I expected to.

WHEW! So, perhaps, you can see why I am exhausted. In 10 nights, I slept in 9 different beds. I covered thousands of miles between the driving and the flying. I went to 5 different airports. And you know what? The trip was a lot of fun. I am so glad I did it. I'll be happier once I get over the travel exhaustion, but that will come soon enough. Here are some pictures from phases 3-5.

First, what happens when my sister steals my camera while I'm driving:

smile!  or stick out your tongue!  either way!

On the farm: horses!


And cows! (I swear, they must have known I had a camera, look how they posed!)


At night, we climbed to the top of the grain bin to get a better view of the stars. It was SO unbelievably clear - one of the advantages to being in the middle of nowhere!

climbing up the grain bin ladder

Then, in the morning, I had my first ever experience driving a stick-shift. On this.

the tractor... of DOOM

See? Don't I look determined? (Or maybe that's a look of terror...)

me driving the tractor...

Back on the road again, we passed the world's largest truckstop.

world's largest truckstop

After I cautiously passed 2 halves of a house driving in front of each other on the highway, one half of the house passed the other half. Or maybe they were trying to assemble the house at 70mph.

2 house-halves

Then, it was time for the next phase of the trip. Like any good road trip, this one needed mascots. Meet Corny Cob and Dorothy Gayle!

our trip mascots

We spent a night in Kansas City, MO, which has an historic jazz district, complete with a Charlie Parker memorial. Really, it's a giant green head. (It's hard to tell, but the big block underneath says "Bird Lives.")

charlie parker's giant memorial head

And... that's it! I have some more pictures from the rest of the trip, but they're still on my camera which is at home. And instead of boring you with more trip pictures, I'll probably make the next post a knitting-related one. There was not much knitting while I was gone, but there was some. I'll also give a roommate-knitting-status-update, because I'm sure you're on pins and needles waiting for one. (Just humor me, mmkay?)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

exhibit A

I snuck into my roommate's bedroom a few days ago and took this picture:

my roommie's first knit thing!

Woohoo! I am victorious! (Since then, I've taught her how to purl. Fabulous finished objects can't be far behind.)

As for my knitting, it could not currently be more booooring. I don't like having a lot of WIPs so I'm really really trying to finish these socks.

almost finished...

They are so close! Actually they're even closer now, I think I have one more row of ribbing and then I just need to bind off. Then I can finally put them behind me and start on something else. Or maybe 2 something-else's - I owe my mom a pair of socks, which I already have the yarn for, and it's the same yarn I used for my Pomatomus's so I know my gauge. Just need to cast on and go. And the other something else will be a tanktop with this:

Classic Elite Premiere

Purpley-periwinkley Classic Elite Premiere. If petting and stroking the yarn could turn it into fabric, I'd have a finished tanktop already. It is so. so. soft. And also pretty slippery, so winding it into a ball proved to be a challenge. I've only wound one ball so far; I think I need a break before I wind the rest. As for what I'm going to make with the yarn, I haven't quite decided. I have this deep desire to make something cabley. My thoughts right now are to make a cabled band a few inches wide to go just under the bust, pick up stitches and work the top in seed stitch with short-row shaping and thick straps, and then... do something for the bottom. Maybe just stockinette, maybe stockinette with 2 small vertical motifs coming down from the bust line... I'll have to swatch and play around with it.

In other news, I have the cutest little dpn holders - and now everyone else at the North End knitting group does too! I had a group class project this past semester where we needed 5 little black rubber cap things, and they only came in bags of 100, so I've had 95 of them sitting on my desk for a few months. But look how perfectly they fit on my size 2s! I can see throwing a pair or 2 of these in with secret pal gifts or RAKs, maybe with some elastic connecting them just for added protection.

cute dpn caps

Anyway... posting in the next week or so will be infrequent at best. I'm embarking on the weirdest trip ever. Flying from Boston to New York, driving from New York to Iowa, then driving south from Iowa to Oklahoma via Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, flying to Chicago, and then flying back to Boston. There really is a reason behind all of it that I'll explain later. For now I need to get some work done, do laundry, and pack. And maybe knit some purple-periwinkle prettiness.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Oh man I am so not pleased right now. Because, you see, pattern writing kind of sucks. And the only thing worse than writing a pattern once is having your computer restart itself overnight when for whatever reason you didn't save the word document at ALL, so you have to write the entire pattern TWICE.



Sunday, August 13, 2006


Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

finished sizzle

Haha, you don't have to answer that. But with a name like Sizzle, it had to be asked. ;) Here are the specs:

pattern: Sizzle from The Garter Belt
yarn: 5 balls Filatura Lanarota Luxor DK (50% cotton, 50% acrylic / 110 or 130 yds per 50 g) in color 44
needles: Inox size 7 29" circular
gauge: 23 sts x 30 rows / 4"
date finished: August 9, 2006

It still needs to be blocked, but these photos were taken after I wore the top out for a night on the town, and as you can see it didn't stretch out of shape at all.

sizzle lying flat

I guess that's because of the acrylic in the yarn, though while I knit with it, the yarn felt more like a 100% cotton than a blend. It was also very splitty. However, it is really soft, has a nice sheen, good stitch definition (and it makes my stitches look so even!) and the price can't be beat. Especially the super-low sale price that Smiley's has right now in limited colors. I'm a little unsure of the yardage, because the ballband says it has 130 yards per ball and the website says 110, but either way I had plenty for this project so I'm not too concerned.

I made quite a few modifications, though they were largely in the numbers. I had a different gauge and wanted a size that the pattern wasn't written for anyway, so I had to do a lot of tweaking. But I kept the basic style and shape of the garment as written, and I could not be happier with the results. You know how I usually say, "I love this! It fits perfectly! Except for X, Y, and Z..."? Well... there's no X, Y, or Z in this case. It's just perfect. The neckline came out a little higher than I expected, but I also expected to need a camisole underneath, and as-is I can wear it on its own without showing too much. Even better, I think it inspired my roommate, because she turned to me while we were watching TV earlier today and said the magic words: "Will you teach me how to knit?"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

boston, boston, boston


So, I feel like I owe the city of Boston an apology. For almost a year now, I have doubted it. Everyone told me, "Boston is such a great walking city," but I couldn't walk anywhere. It was even worse when it got cold out. I really just felt trapped most of the time. But now, thanks to my newfound mobility combined with some nice weather (I say that with much hesitation, because it has been gorgeous for the past few days and I don't want to jinx it), I find myself having a bit of a love affair with this city. I even love my mile-and-a-half walk into work every day. And so, yesterday, I took my new camera with me and documented the walk. (BTW, the camera is a Canon Powershot A430.)

First, a block or two away from my apartment, I pass Massachusetts General Hospital.

Nice to know that if I get hurt, help isn't too far away! (Though I could do without the almost constant ambulance sirens.) Next up is the Charles/MGH T station, which, like much of Boston, is currently under construction. I like to think they're rebuilding it just for me.

The intersection by the station is a big mess, so I have to walk all the way around it to the other side. I think that when it's finished, all that glass will look so sleek and nice.

And painting usually happens towards the end of a project, right? RIGHT?? (I guess I should mention that while I like to believe the construction is almost done, it's been underway for over a year, so really... who knows.)

Next comes my favorite part - walking across the Longfellow Bridge! It's also called the Salt and Pepper Bridge (or so I was informed by a cabbie one night) because of the shape of the towers.

On the left side of the bridge, there are some be-yoo-tiful views of the city.

And this next picture, well, in my old building, we always joked about stringing a zipline from the top of the building to the Citgo sign (which is near Fenway) for easy access into Boston. If you click on the picture to see the big version, you can see my artistic rendering of what such a zipline would look like. Really, I am quite the ar-teest. (Also of note: that dark blurry section is from my hair blowing in front of the lens. It was a bit windy.)

On the right side of the bridge, there are such interesting sights as this building, which always reminds me of the insane asylum in Batman Begins:

And the one worthwhile part of the Big Dig, the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (which for whatever reason I used to think was the Tobin Bridge, but Wikipedia informs me that is not the case).

Finally, I make it to the other side of the bridge! At the same time, a train gets there... and it probably left 10 minutes after I did. But I walk slowly, so it's okay.

The next part of my walk is in Cambridge along the Charles River, giving some more nice cityscape views.

Those shots are actually a little better than I'd normally be able to take, because I had to take a slight detour to the other side of the street (closer to the river) when my normal route looked like this.

Back on the sidewalk, I almost stepped on what I thought was a leaf. At the last minute, I saw it move, and was able to save this cute little caterpillar's life.

For whatever reason, caterpillars are the one bug group that I not only tolerate, but actually like. They're just so cute! And they move slowly, so they're not at all threatening. (Unlike, say, ants. Because they are super scary, you know.)

To finish up my walk, I turn and cut through campus. MIT has this reputation for having one of the ugliest campuses; I would argue that it isn't ugly so much as... mismatched. As evidence, I took the following 4 pictures from one spot, just turning in place in between.

Individually, none of the buildings are so bad. (Well, the third one is kind of a phenomenon in and of itself, but that's a discussion for another time.) But put them together, and you get a big mess.

Don't worry, almost done here! There's a bit of the walk through air conditioned hallways that don't make for very exciting pictures, but then I go back outside again to cut through Killian Court. I was apparently not the only person who wanted to take a picture that day.

And what were they taking pictures of? The huge dome, of course.

My sister described this part of campus as being imposing; I can definitely understand that. All the doors off the court are labelled with the name of a famous scientist or mathematician... my door says Faraday (and a bunch of other names are smaller above his).

Okay, through the door, up some stairs, down a hallway or two, and there I am in my office. Some parts of my research are fun.

Other parts... not so much.

And that's that! Well, almost. :) I took 2 more pictures on my walk home, because I couldn't resist. First, boats!

Second, a nice view of Beacon Hill, with the State House (gold dome) on top.

Okay, with that, I really am done. I promise some knitting content next time! And maybe some pictures of my apartment, once I clean up a bit. It's not awful now, which is good since I've only been here a few weeks, but it isn't quite picture worthy either.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

new and improved

I am at my parents' house for the weekend, which usually means a few nice relaxing days, but for whatever reason I feel like I haven't stopped moving since I left Boston on Friday morning. I'm driving back tomorrow morning and should probably get some sleep, but first I have some Very Exciting Blog News. It's true that being home usually means I get to post pictures, but these pictures are much more important, because they were taken with my own brand-spankin'-new camera. No more pictureless posts for me!!! So here are some inaugural shots. (Note, when you click on them, they open up pretty big... I'm linking to the photos themselves instead of the Flickr pages because you can see more detail that way.)

First, my almost-completed Sizzle - it just needs the seed stitch at the armholes, a lot of ends woven in, and a nice blocking.


What's that? You want a closeup? Fine, I got yer closeup right here.

closeup of sizzle

Okay, okay, we can zoom in a little more.

even closer closeup of sizzle

In short, I am very happy with this camera. I made sure to get one with a good optical zoom, and that can take pictures from a short distance (less that 0.5"), but other than that there are no bells and whistles. It has all the options that I've ever changed on previous cameras, and pretty much nothing else. (No matter how hard I try, I'm never going to have the patience to play with the white balance or the shutter speed.) So I'll leave you with a colorful sock toe, and then I am really off to bed.

short-row toe