Monday, July 31, 2006

Yarn Condo

Here is my new knitting storage space...yay! For a while there I had a couple of canvas bags with projects and supplies split between them, plus a box of yarn upstairs. Things were pretty much everywhere but where I wanted them. So I decided I needed to find a better storage solution and searched all over for the right one. I ended up with this which I got at Target. It came as the shelf unit on it's own and the cubes seperately. I couldn't decide what colors cubes to get, but after much deliberation chose these. The top cube is a bit more eggplant than the picture shows and the blue is darker as well. I'm able to fit my two current projects in the top cube (which I can take out and sit on the floor by me while I work) and in the bottom cube, yarn for upcoming projects, needles, etc. I wasn't able to fit all my yarn in this, so some of that is still in a box upstairs, but all the exciting stuff is downstairs and readily available. I may actually end up getting one more of these units and two more cubes and attach them into a square of four cubes to allow for some (inevitable) expansion! We'll see...

LISTENING TO: CAKE LIKE - "Delicious" This three-girl band was lead by Kerri Kenney. You might know her from her stint on MTV's sketch comedy show The State or most recently from Reno 911. But aside from her comic roles in these shows, she plays bass and! Fun fact: Cake Like was formed without any of the band members knowing how to play!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Clog Blog

The first of the clogs is done! Yayyy! I really enjoyed this project. It was challenging enough to keep things interesting and it was very fun to pull the felted end-product out of the sudsy depths of the washer. As it was my first felting project, I was especially excited to see the transformation.

I have two pictures up, before and after felting. I included the remote control for size perspective. The only thing I did differently from the instructions were... 1) I didn't put the clog in a bag, I just let it float loose. And 2) I threw a pair of jeans in to add agitation. I got this idea from some instructions for a felting project by Patons, which is the brand of yarn that I used for the clog. I don't know how different the end result would have been without these changes, but I'll do the same with the second clog to make sure number two looks the same.

LISTENING TO: THROWING MUSES - "Throwing Muses (2003)" The last of the Muses albums and the only one to feature Tanya Donelly since she left the band after the amazing "Real Ramona." Tanya went on to greater fame with Belly but Kristin Hersh kept the Muses records coming, keeping them challenging without ever compomising her vision of the band's unique sound. This last album, it it remains the last one, is a fine goodbye, full of the usual twists and turns, never predictable, yet terribly catchy.


Due to multiple requests (and because I'm a closet exibitionist...isn't that an oxymoron?) I'm posting a PIC of the new piercings (pay no mind to the pale, skinny upper torso!). I took this just a few days after they were done. They seem to be healing really well, no issues there. I'm doing 4-times-a-day cleanings, at least for the first three weeks. Then I'll probably go down to 3-times-a-day for another couple weeks. And honestly, there has been very little discomfort which has been a pleasant surprise. All in all, a good experience...I'm glad I went ahead with it after just thinking about it for years!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Upcoming Lace Project

Along with the needles, my last order from Knit Picks included some new yarn... Shimmer lace- weight in Turquoise Splendor. My intention is to make the Candle Flame Shawl as a present, maybe for Mom. Now I haven't done too much with lace yet, but I have tried this pattern out with a sock weight yarn and it looked pretty good. So I think I'll practice some more with that before tackling the real thing.

Not a whole lot to update on the other knitting. Ruth-Anne and I did meet on Thursday though and I got most of the left-side panel for the head on the bear rug completed. I also got a few more rows into the clogs, but haven't really found the time to sit and concentrate on that as needed. The last half of the second sock seems to be on the back burner for whatever reason, but I'll get back to it eventually.

Today is going to be a lot of puttering around the house. Which, being the homebody that I am, I rather like! So hopefully in between the cleaning, laundry and cooking I can find a little time to knit. We'll see...

LISTENING TO: MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO - "99%" This album, years ahead of it's time when it came out in 1990, still sounds as fresh and important to the electronic scene today as it did then. Though they have gone on to make other great albums, this for me was/is their finest hour.


If you have no interest in piercings, read no further...

Last Friday a few of my female co-workers went to get piercings done. They all decided to get their tragus pireced which is the small flap of cartilage that sticks out in front of the ear canal. I wanted to go along but wasn't able because I had to work that night. And even if I could have gone, I wouldn't be able to get anything above the neck pierced since I work in a conservative medical/retail environment. That pretty much left me with the option of either the nipples or a genital piercing. The latter was definitely out for me, so I decided that if I were to get anything done it would be my nipples.

The next Monday one of those same co-workers mentioned that she was going to go back to get her navel pierced that coming Friday...AND that I needed to go along and get something done since I missed out the week before. I told her I would do it if it didn't cost a fortune (which I thought it would). She called the place and it turns out it was only $20 per, jewelry included. So after work on Friday we headed down to the shop in Brewer.

My co-worker went first and was done in no time...which means that before I knew it, I was up next! I filled out my paperwork, hopped in the chair and removed my shirt. He disinfected the area, marked where the piercings would be and applied the clamp on the right side. The first one was really quick and relatively speaking, not too bad. I had prepared myself for much worse. The second one was more like what I was expecting, the pain lasting longer and it was more intense, though STILL not as bad as I had expected. As I was cringing through the second one, the piercer said, "the second one always hurts more, but I didn't want to tell you that before doing it." Which I suppose was a good thing, really.

It's only been two days, but all's going well. And I am VERY pleasantly surprised that despite some discomfort the first night, there is almost none now. I do have 6-8 weeks of 3-4 times-a-day cleanings to do, but that's to be expected. So despite some initial reservations (mostly pain related ones!), I must say I'm happy with the end result (they look great!) and for anyone out there contemplating doing the same, I'd say to go for it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Clog-Along has begun

For those of you who aren't up to speed, Chris organized a clog-along over at Men Who Knit that was set to start on Monday the 17th. I had all my materials together and wholeheartedly planned on starting my first clog last night. And in the end I did start it...but just barely. I began the evening by working on the fourth (and last) leg of the rug, which I did finish (leaving just the head to complete!). By the time that was done it was getting late, around 11:30. I almost talked myself into skipping the clog for the night and starting it on Tuesday instead. However I really wanted to get something done, so I managed to cast on and then knit the first row. Though it wasn't much, I did get to start with everyone else which was good!

Tonight I worked more on the clog and got the sole done (see above). I didn't start knitting until late and that seemed like a good breaking point, before changing colors and starting the top. Right now it doesn't look much like a clog, so it will be cool to see it take shape. I keep hearing words of advice from my very early days of knitting... "trust the pattern."

On the left is the bear skin rug in it's most recent state. You can get an idea of the size of it by comparing it to the coffee table and the ottoman on either side. The head will be at the end nearest the bottom of the picture. The sides of the head will be knit and attached and then the whole thing is made three dimensional with stuffing. Hope to have more progress on that soon.

LISTENING TO: THE INNOCENCE MISSON - "Birds Of My Neighborhood." Karen Peris leads this lovely trio from my home state of PA. Those familiar with early 10,000 Maniacs should find this to their liking. This CD makes me think of childhood, winter and yes, innocence.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Just a quickie...

This was my weekend to work. There are three of us on a rotating schedule which works out pretty well. I was there Friday evening until 8PM and Saturday 9-2PM. I really don't mind it all that much, it just makes what's left of the weekend go by really quickly!

I did get a little work done on my sock...I'm on the gusset decreases. And I dug the bear skin rug out and got some more done on that. When last I left off he only had one leg. As of today he has three and a half. I hope to finish that last leg tomorrow (and post an updated pic) which will leave only the head to complete! The rug has really not been a hard project, just a long one. And one that I haven't managed to devote enough time to. So it's coming along, just a little slower than originally anticipated!

I'll sign off for now with a picture I took out in the yard on Saturday. Hope you all had a great weekend!

P.S. Thanks to Kenny for the help with the great progress bars!

LISTENING TO: LISA GERMANO - "Geek The Girl." Lisa is one of my top ten favorite artists. She is an incredible songwriter who has a penchant for making beautifully sad and lonely music. That isn't to say that listening to her work is depressing...but she is able to tap into some dark places and emotions we often leave unexplored. Highly recommended if you're game for that kinda thing!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Options have landed

Upon arriving home from work last night I discovered a package from Knit order had arrived! Woohoo! I've spent a good bit of this morning trying them out, so let me go over what I think of them. Here's what my order consisted of:

- 1 set of 24" needle cables which also includes 4 cable cap screws and a cable key to tighten the joins
- pairs of needle tips in sizes 4, 5, 6, and 13
- two of the Classic circulars in size 2 (the Classics are a one-piece, non-interchangable circular)

Cable Ends

The cable ends seem very sturdy. The area where the cable joins the metal is smooth and will withstand a vigorous tug. The length of the post with the threads on it seems like it will add a lot of stability to the join.

Cable Key

The cable key is rather unexciting, but that being said, it does exactly what it's supposed to do. I found that the pieces can be screwed together about 90% of the way by hand, but you really need the key to finish the last bit. Which is good because it makes for a tight join.

The Join

The join itself is very clean. This is a trial piece that I knit this morning just to try out the size 13s with the 24" cable. I had no snagging and no loosening of the join.

Cable Caps

Here's an example of a "straight" needle made by using one needle tip and one cable cap end. The caps screw on just like the needle tips

Takumi Bamboo Vs. Options Part 1

I've used the bamboo circulars before with no problem, but in trying the Options I must say the the join is even better due to a smoother and longer taper.

Takumi Bamboo Vs. Options Part 2

The Options win out here, too, due to the extra amount of needle length (4.5 inches from join to tip). The short needle on the Takumis made them a bit akward to handle and was my only real complaint about them at the time. However I now have another complaint which is illustrated in the picture above. The Takumis have a very tight cable. I couldn't get it to straighten out any more than it is. The Options cables are very soft, pliable and easy to work with.

Takumi Vs. Options Part 3

This picture shows the difference between the tips of these two brands. The Options tip is much pointier! I don't know that I have a preference as far as that goes (yet anyway), but I thought I'd show you how they compare for your own reference.

My Sock!

I've transferred my sock over to the two Classic circulars (size 2). I had it on a set of bamboo DPNs, but figured I'd not only try out the new needles but a new technique (for me)...a sock on two circulars.

And this last pic is a shot of the sock in progress on the new needles.

So though I've only had them a day I'd have to give them a thumbs up all around. They are comfortable to use, attractive, fairly inexpensive and seem like they have been made well with a lot of thought put into them. I'll continue to use them and give one last post about them in a week or two as a follow up. But if you have been looking at them and trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge, I'd say go for it!

LISTENING TO: MUSE - "Black Holes And Revelations." Anyone who has listened to Muse in the past and thought of them as mere Radiohead wannabes, take another listen. This is one kick-ass album, adding in some Middle Eastern and Latin influences...even a little funk. But have no fear, the signature Muse sound and Matthew Bellamy's trademark vocals are in place.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

MenWhoKnit rocks!

I want to say a big thank you to the guys over at MenWhoKnit for their gracious welcome and kind words. And especially to Chris who badgered me into joining in the first place (I mean that in a nice way...). Not that I didn't want to join, mind you. I can just be a bit lazy at times and despite Chris mentioning that I should go check out the MWK site, I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. But now that I have, I'm glad I did and look forward to getting to know the guys there.

My KnitPicks Options needles should hopefully arrive this week! I'm very excited to give them a try. At first I debated as to whether I wanted to get them at all. Up until now I've been using bamboo needles almost exclusively. I've used bamboo DPNs for socks and a hat and bamboo circulars for the sweater sampler I made. I actually liked the fact that they have a little grab to them, especially in the beginning. As someone fairly new to knitting and who's paranoid about dropping a stitch, they were a perfect solution and I still really like working with them. So the thought of trying metal needles felt akin to cheating! However I have gotten to the point where I can see some advantage to the metal needles, mainly increased speed! (Sounds like I'm going through a midlife crisis, but instead of trading the mini-van in on a sports car, I'm going from the dependable bamboos to the sporty, speedy metals!)

As far as the interchangeable vs. classic circular issue, I have no opinion on that...yet, anyway. This will be my first experience with interchangeables. I am optimistic that I will like them. From all the reviews that I've read from people who already have them, people with much more knitting experience than myself, they seem to be a huge hit. Once mine arrive and I have a chance to try them out I'll post my own review for those interested.

Still working on sock #2. I haven't had the time to just sit and get much done, but I'm a little over two inches into the leg right now. On the left I've posted a pic of sock #1 completed. I ended up doing the ribbing just down the leg and the rest in stockinette. Tallguy had posted a comment that the alpaca may tend to stretch a bit so he was hoping I had continued the ribbing down the top of the foot as well. Argh, I didn't! However, the fit on them is comfortably snug, so even if they stretch out just a little, I'm hoping they'll still be fine.

LISTENING TO: COCTEAU TWINS - "Treasure." Between Robin Guthrie's ethereal guitar work and Liz Fraser's beautiful, angelic voice, Cocteau Twins were an amazing band. If you haven't heard anything by them and are interested in checking them out, I'd recommend "Four-Calendar Cafe" or "Heaven Or Las Vegas" as a good starting point.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Check out your Options

Has anyone else checked out the new needles by Knit Picks? (Hope they don't mind that I "borrowed" a pic from their site!) They've come up with their own line of interchangeable needles which look fantastic.

This weekend I got their most recent catalog that featured them on the cover and after a quick peruse of that I headed off to do some online research. I ended up at Knitters Review where a lot of people who have already ordered and received theirs have given them the thumbs up. The only real negative I've heard so far is that the needles aren't marked with the sizes. But if that's the biggest complaint, it's a minor inconvenience.

Things that people have praised them for: The join between the cable and needles is said to be extremely smooth. The cable is very flexible, thin, strong and lightweight. The needles are hollow brass with nickel plating for a very lightweight feel and a smooth surface. I'll stop here since I don't want to sound like a commercial...especially since I haven't even tried them yet! But after reading all the available information on them, I have to say that I'm very excited to give them a shot. So much so that I placed an order today!

I ordered a pair of the Classic Circulars in size 2 for socks (the circulars in sizes 0-3 come in a non-interchangeable, one piece unit due to their small size) and a 24" cable set with a pair of size 13 needle tips (I needed these anyway to make the Fiber Trends felt clogs that I learned about from Chris over at the Tex Knitter site.). When ordering, they have a disclaimer that due to the high demand for the needles there is a one to two week backorder. But once they come in and I have a chance to use them, I'll let you know what I think. If you've gotten them and have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments section.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you're all having a great holiday today. Be safe and take care!

LISTENING TO: SEVERED HEADS - "Gigapus." Tom Ellard is the brains behind this fun Australian electronic band. They've gone from the early days of creating sound collages with odd samples and drum loops to a string of great electro-pop albums. But even at their most pop sounding, they still don't sound remotely Top 40. However, for the adventurous out there, they have a lot of smart music to offer...including their upcoming "Under Gail Succubus."

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

Well, after 11 hours on the road, I am back home from my trip to PA. I am exhausted, even after my 7 hour 'nap' this afternoon, but I'll have the rest of the holiday weekend to recover and recoup.

The trip was really good. Some of the highlights of the trip were: Seeing Mom and Dad and the old house, getting to see my sister and niece who flew in from Florida; visiting with my old co-workers; the family reunion at my cousin's house; visiting with two of my best friends, one which I hadn't seen in four years...and lots of good food!

One bad thing about the trip is that I managed to pick the week of one of the worst floods in the area. In fact it was second only to the Agnes flood in 1972. The picture I've posted shows a street that is just over two blocks away from the river.

My parents live one block away from the river. Luckily their house sits high on the far side of the street so we were spared any flooding. But most of the neighbors on the other side of the street did get flooded. We spent a good part of Wednesday helping people across the street bring things up from their basements. And if the flooding itself weren't bad enough, the whole town lost water service for four days, there were power outtages and due to large areas of water on the roads, many people were unable to leave their homes or to get to their homes depending on where they were when the flood hit. But despite all that, it surprisingly didn't put a damper on the trip and I was glad I was there and able to help.

I didn't have much time to work on my knitting, as I expected. However I did get a little more work done on my sock. I got the heel turned, the gusset decreases finished and I'm halfway down the foot. Hopefully I'll be able to finish that and get started on sock two this weekend!

LISTENING TO: LAURA VEIRS - "Year Of Meteors." Think of a slightly more off-beat Suzanne Vega, less folky and with a more electronic edge. I bought this CD having never heard her, but was drawn to it by the album cover. It's rare that I'd do that, but I'm glad I did!