Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Seriously, WTF?

Does anyone know what this grainy, out of focus, off center vehicle is that Leo and I are flipping off? It was parked on the PCH in Malibu, chromed out to next week. This is a vehicle that someone DRIVES for regular driving around purposes. I suspect its fuel is a mixture of white tiger fetuses, spotted owl beaks, and, of course, lots and lots of crude oil.

Ok, I'm done ranting, let's move on before I digress further.

Riding the bus has allowed me to crank through most of the Dragon Hoodie I'm knitting, even though I had almost no time to knit this weekend. This is great. I have a scant hour each morning and evening on the bus, and another 45 minutes or so at lunch to get a little bit of knitting done. Actually, all things considered, I should probably be done with this baby by now with that much time to spare, but in truth, sometimes I try to get some reading or work done instead, so there are days when there is almost no knitting going on.

I've actually moved on to the hoodie at this point, but it just looks like a purple and green strip, so I didn't bother photographing.

It's seems like it's been a while since I've worked on something with such a bulky gauge. It's a nice change of pace, but ultimately, I do think I prefer finer gauge pieces.

Coming soon, pictures from my best friend's wedding reception/tiki party thingy

Don't they look great?

Monday, June 27, 2005

They grow up so fast

My humble blog turns a year old today. You can read my amazingly boring first post if you'd like.

Despite my initial reservations about the whole thing, I feel remarkably good about the experience so far. I think everyone has their own reasons for blogging, and it varies from person to person. For me, I have learned so much more about knitting, spinning and pattern designing than I would if I plugged away silence.

So to those of you who stop by regularly, or even once in a while, I wish to thank you all for somehow managing to make knitting more fun than it was before. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but you have.

You didn't think I'd post about this blog and leave out a Panda pic, did you? Here you go, fresh off the memory card from my home to yours.

Friday, June 24, 2005

BUStleing along

There is a great bus near my home that goes straight from a Park and Ride station to a stop two blocks from work. I've had occasions when I could ride it in the past, and have, but up until recently, my schedule hasn't allowed me to use this option very often. It's a "Commuter Express" so it runs only during rush hour and only in the direction of rush hour which leaves few options for a person working until 8 or 9 PM.

Now that I can take the bus again, I'm finding more time for knitting, yay! I've nearly completed a top secret gift.

And am plugging away at another Dragon Hoodie for use in a book of patterns (not my own, someone else's).

That was mostly done over the course of two trips into work, each of which is about 30 minutes long.

I have to admit, after years of taking the T in Boston, I've got a bit of an anti-social side when I take public transportation. After a few too many folks trying to invite me to their cult, feel me up or ask me out (none of which, apparently, are mutually exclusive) I feel it best to put on my best sour puss and avoid eye contact at all costs.

Since the bus I take caters primarily to professional office workers in the Downtown financial district who live in the relatively affluent South Bay area, my crappy attitude is probably a bit out of place. But there are many who won't be dissuaded but a grumpy attitude on a knitter, for knitting, it seems, is the most fascinating thing to hit this bus in a long while. I feel like an exhibit at a zoo, on some days. It makes me laugh a little. It's mostly men who grill me with questions.

"Is that hard?"
"What are you making?"
"How do you switch colors, do you tie a knot?"
"That's not your first project, huh?"
"You look like you are really good at that."
Each followed by long pauses as they process my monosyllabic response and search for another question.

That's right affable internet Marnie is far less so amongst strangers. Not that I'm ever rude, I just tend to be wary of the overzealous.

But it hasn't been all hand knitting, by day, there's also my machine knitting class, one night a week at Otis. It's more of the same, sorry for that, but here goes.

Last night we learned about making a tension swatch to get gauge.

The stripes and dots are set at predetermined row/stitch counts and are used to establish the gauge at a particular tension. I sort of flubbed the bind off by working it too tightly, but I sorted that out in my other swatches that evening.

This swatch, thought it's hard to tell, has cables, moss stitch and neckline decreases.

And here is some ribbing and basic lace technique.

I'm actually anxious to get started a project, but there are some people who are still working on the basics, so I'm channeling some patience and perfecting the techniques we've been learning. Heaven knows a little practice is good for everyone.

To any of you machine knitters out there, do you know of some good sources for yarn on cones? Generally, I like about a sport weight and something without too much froofroo going on. Merino would be ideal.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Not fit for work

But oh-so-funny

I subscribe to the RSS feed for Something Awful and find their posts range from mildly amusing to hysterically funny. This is not a feed one would want to be perusing at work. Though, the content is sometimes fine, the ads are a bit risque which might not reflect well upon you if your boss is stopping in to say "hello".

Anyway, a particularly amusing series they run is called Retro Swat, which has all the snark you could hope for and then some. The most recent is priceless. You can give it a look-see here.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Isn't it loverly?

Leo, Panda and I hiked along the craggy coast of Palos Verdes today. There have been a few, none-too-subtle requests for Panda pictures which is way more than I need to be encouraged to post them, so here goes.

I'll start you off with some of the amazing views of the beach we were on. This locale is not for the faint of heart. The trek down is steep and challenging, and the coast is covered with boulders and rocks, which can wear one out fairly quickly, but I think you'll find the end result to be well worth the effort.

The tide was high (and I'm holding on, I'm going to be your number one) so what is often sandy shore was tide pools instead.

The rocky outcroppings break the waves impressively. I don't think you can really get tired of how beautiful it all looks. When the pools settle between sets, you can see all sorts of neat sea life, including fish, tadpoles, crabs and other such fauna.

This is a great shot of a wave crashing. You can also see, in the background, the cliffs one must descend to reach the shore.

Leo commented, and I agree, that these rocky plains look almost like alien landscapes on some far off planet. Of course, if there were such a planet with all that blue water, there'd probably be cool alien life too, but I digress.

And now for some Panda joy.

This is on the hike down. If you knew how much restraint she is showing, sitting their patiently while we photograph her, you'd have all the more respect for her. I think you can see her pining away for a dip in the cool water.

Once we found a little sandy spot to toss the squirrel, it was business as usual. Leo tosses, Panda fetches, then the cycle starts anew.

Of course, lazy throwers, who do not wish to stand, often pay the consequences when the object of desire is returned for another throw. Click this one for a larger view.

There is something about this picture that just cracks me up. Click, if you like, for a larger image. I'm not sure how we got that mischievous smile out of her, but it speaks of trouble making, if it says anything at all.
We're all a bit beaten and weak from the adventure, but loved every minute of it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The transformation is complete

With that title, I feel like I should be laughing manically and tenting my fingers.

Anyway, I've finally updated the look of the blog. Anyone who uses blogging software is probably well aware of how time consuming it can be to redesign a blog template. I think it's in good working order now.

I'm considering trying to teach myself how to do that whole skinning thing, but for now, I'm just happy the blog has a similar look to the rest of the site.

If anything is wonky, please let me know.

If nothing looks different to you, you may be caching the old site. You can either clear your cache or wait a few days and it should all appear fresh and new.

In other news, last night I had my second machine knitting class. We did lots of little technique things. Having a really solid understanding of the construction of various knit stitches makes understanding the machine much easier. I don't think it's necessary to understand these things to succeed, but I think learning complex techniques is made easier by it. Here's a pic of some of my swatches.

On the left, we have a full fashioned picot hem, stripes and, though you can't tell, increases and decreases.
The middle is a regular full fashioned hem, with two color "plating" I love this effect. From the front, you see the main color with the secondary color just barely peaking through. It's a bit tweed like. From the back, the secondary color dominates with a little of the main color showing through. The effect from afar is that the piece is lined. I think it's great.

The final swatch is a haphazard of faux drop stitch, faux ribbing and plain knit. I really enjoy playing with the various tools and techniques and seeing what happens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Caution: Highly Contagious

You might need to wait for it to load, but click here and make room to tap your toes. Found via A La Guache
And if you are feeling really silly, you can check out funny though political animation of the same tune.

Not much to post of my knitting since it's super secret, still, but hopefully I'll at least get some spinning time in soon.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Here are the pictures from our recent trip to SF.

Additionally, my parents got this shot of the three of us in Union Square. Hey, I'm not above being a tourist.

Friday, June 10, 2005

First Day of School

So last night, I had my first class at Otis. I was riddled with self-doubt before the class, wondering if I had just wasted several hundred dollars on a course meant to be taken in conjunction with a fashion major. Would everyone there be a fashion student with natural artistic talents? Would I feel frumpy and boring? I just didn't know what to expect. I have a tendency to psych myself out about these things, which can manifest itself into apathy, but I held strong and went to class and I'm so glad I did.

Our instructor is Leah Walton who has a several decades long career in fashion, starting with modeling and then quickly moving into a self taught business of knitwear fashion design. She had other jobs as well, from what she said, including rodeo cowboy and motorcycle stunt woman, you know, normal career changes. The other students in the class ranged from fashion students and fashion professionals to grandmothers, grade school teachers, and hobbyist like me. If first impressions are worth anything, everyone seemed wonderfully friendly and good natured.

Much to my pleasure, day one saw us casting on and zipping out rows of stockinette. Wanna see what I did?

That's about 450 rows of stockinette stitch, 40 stitches wide, done in about a half hour's worth of knitting time.

We were shown demos of doing eyelets, full fashioned hems, faux drop stitch effects, and ribbing. Most of these techniques are more manual than you'd expect. We didn't have time to try those, but I think I get the general idea.

Now, I'm as much a process as a product driven knitter. I love knitting for knitting and I don't think this class will ever change that, but I do love the idea of being able to execute a vision I have in an evening instead of a month. I guess it's the two aspects of my knitting habit. On the one side, I love to pass the time, slowly producing something with loving care, finding ways to perfect little techniques and learn new ones. On the other hand, I love to design knitwear, but I sometimes don't know if the piece will be successful until it's completed which can take months, depending on a myriad of factors.

But, I've only completed the first class and there are nine more to go before I'll be able to call myself a semi-expert.

Getting back to the normal content around here, I have been doing some spinning with my beautiful blue roving.

My first 2-ply ball is too loosely spun, by my taste. It softness is unbelievable, but it's a bit sloppy for my taste.

I can't stop spinning, though, so here's the newer, more tightly spun go at it, on the spindle

When it's more tightly spun, it's got a nicer sheen, while when it's more loosely spun, it's softness is enhanced.

All other knitting is top secret right now, but I hope to have more to show soon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm a filthy liar

Do you remember when I said I wouldn't buy any yarn? You knew I was joking, right? Haha, funny stuff, I say.

In my defense, it is mostly for a present I like to have a little extra, just to be sure I have enough of the right dye lot.

I bought the yarn at Greenwich Yarn. I wanted to get some Rowan Calmer for the project I had in mind, and I was sure they had it. They did. I blame Julia, she hooked me up with my first Calmer fix and now I think about it all the time. I'm pretty sure I have plenty of it by a factor of two dye lot, remember so I can make myself something pretty as well.

Actually, the staff at Greenwich was very nice. My mom asked them about local roving suppliers and the owner gave me a bunch of roving she had sitting around. Apparently, no one there spins and a supplier had sent her some roving by mistake. It's undyed, which means I can experiment with color and texture in one go. Want to see how horribly I can bastardize some animal fiber? Stay tuned, my friends.

Well, despite what you may think, my trip to San Francisco was more than roving and Calmer, there were myriad adventures and pictures to prove it, but I've been on a lazy schedule of vacationing, and am attempting to re-acclimate to my early morning work schedule, so pictures will be a few days away. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Got to admit it's getting better

I'm not just quoting the Beatles, I'm actually referring to my spinning. I still feel like I'll never really be great at it, but I'm progressing. Here's my third go (hank) next to my second go (ball) at spinning my practice roving.

There are still some thick and thin areas, but I find them more endearing than annoying because they are still in the same ball park as the rest of the yarn. This fiber was indicated to be "easy to spin" which both gave me confidence that I had chosen the right roving, and made me nervous that I was setting myself up to never be able to spin anything else. At the back of my mind, at all times, was the beautiful roving my secret pal had sent me. Could I really do it any justice? (The answer is obviously, "no.") Would I ever be able to spin it? Would it be too hard? Would I end up with nothing but a tangle of fibers?

Well, instead of letting those gorgeous fibers languish in my craft cabinet, I figured I'd give it a shot. I tend to be one of those people who hordes the stuff she loves "just in case." I have this feeling that I'll have wasted it unless I wait for the perfect time to use it. I fought that urge and just started spinning.

Spinning this is a dream. Where the practice roving is rather rough, this just flows. I still feel like I can't do the roving justice, but at least I'm having a great time trying.

I also have to confess just how dense I was when this whole spinning endeavor started for me, a few weeks ago. I originally placed an order for some practice roving, clueless to one tidbit of knowledge.

It just never occurred to me to look for "carded" roving. Oops. So I do have a rather large bag of basically useless uncarded roving. Live and learn.

At this point, had I been organized enough, I would have some great pictures of the prizes I won from Stitchy a couple weeks back, but that would involve both making myself presentable and finding time and lighting to photograph myself. The stars have just not been aligned for that. I do particularly love my yarny flower hair ornaments, but:
bed head + puffy eyes + need of shower = no picture

Anyway, I head out to SF tomorrow with Leo and Panda. We're celebrating Leo's last birthday before he turns 40. I probably won't be blogging or checking my email much in that time, but will plan to have plenty of pictures when I return.

In the mean time, here's a fun site for you, to tide you over.


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