Knitting the Light Fantastic

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and other crafty goodness

Archive for August, 2006

Saving Lives

Posted by notthatkat on August 28, 2006

This will probably be my last post before I leave for vacation tomorrow night. Details, a con report, and hopefully some knitting progress when I get back.

Please bear with me while I digress from the fibery and crafty stuff for a moment.

In my non-knitting professional life, I am a veterinarian. Actually I am one all the time, but you know what I mean. Much of the time, my career is not, I think, what most people outside my world expect. There is a lot of routine, repetitive stuff. I give vaccinations; I treat skin allergies; I treat the vomiting and/or diarrhea that comes from Fluffy eating something she shouldn’t have, often willingly provided by Mom or Dad.

I’m not saying I don’t like my job, or don’t find it satisfying. But sometimes it is just a job. And sometimes it’s a very difficult job. And sometimes it’s a very messy job. And sometimes it’s a very demanding and busy job that makes planning a life outside of work difficult. But mostly, it tends to take on aspects of the mundane and routine for me. It’s like any other job in many respcets, I suspect.

But on occasions, I am reminded of why I decided I-won’t-tell-how-many years ago why I wanted to do this in the first place. When I see the look of joy that accompanies the first visit of a new family member. When I guide a family through the process of saying goodbye to a beloved dear one and can give a “good death” to a wee one who is suffering, as sad as those moments are as well. When I get to give the “things are going to be all right after all” news. When I feel like I have made a difference in someone’s life and made things better, or just a little easier with a difficult decision.

Today was one of those occasions. Today I got to see the sheer look of joy on the face of an older gentleman as he took home his beloved, now recovering companion, whom he thought he was saying a final goodbye to when he left her (in tears, from this very proud man) a couple short days ago. Who would not have survived if not for my, at the risk of sounding immodest, skillful surgical intervention and careful follow up care that ate up most of my Saturday afternoon and evening “off time.”

It’s all worth it if, every once and a while, I can make this kind of difference in someone’s life.


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Busy, busy me

Posted by notthatkat on August 25, 2006

I’ve been very busy getting ready to go on vacation. There is no knitting progress to report. I’ve done maybe a round and a half on the blanket, not too bad considering I’ve got about 1300 stitches on the needles, but I’m not posting a picture. It doesn’t look any different, and the stitches are crammed so tightly onto my 32″ needle, it’s difficult to get a decent shot that doesn’t just look like big ol’ mess of lace all scrunched up

I have, however, managed to get a little dyeing done and try out a couple new colors. I have been multitasking this with getting paper work done at the office by using favorite tool for busy times: my designated dyeing/soaping crockpot:

I originally got this little baby (6 quarts) for making hot process soap several years ago, and I’ve found a second use for it in my dyeing efforts. I got a couple new colors of Gaywool dyes a little while ago, but hadn’t gotten a chance to try them out. So last night I loaded it up with dye and wool and let ‘er rip:
This is lavender. So far, I’m not impressed. It’s not bad, just a little anemic. I am so not a pastel person at this stage of my life. I’m resisting the urge to overdye this until I can get it combed or carded and spun. I think I want to comb it, but as I don’t yet own combs, this may have to wait until SAFF, where I hope to find a set I like. It it’s still not giving me joy, I’ll re-dye with more of the same and see if I can get the color a bit deeper.
I dyed more wool tonight in Lucerne. I love this one. It’s a rich deep green with blue-ish tones. It is very me.

In other news, I got a package in the mail yesterday from Tom and Linda Diak over at Grafton Fibers. A while back I got these hairsticks from their Ebay store. I love these sticks; they are so smooth and the spiral design holds my baby fine hair as well or better than anything I’ve ever tried.

I’ve been wanting to get a WPI gauge for a while now, but hadn’t found one I liked. So when one popped up in the store, I knew it would be a thing of beauty as well as a practical device. Since I was already paying shipping, I decided to treat myself to another pair of hairsticks in a different wood. They arrived yesterday:
But that’s not all. In lieu of packing material, they wrap their items in a bit of spinnable fiber. There was some in the package with my first sticks. Tom told me he was going to include an extra bit with this order. I never expected this:
Thank you, Tom. My cup runneth over.

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Beaded Stitch Markers

Posted by notthatkat on August 24, 2006

I was asked today about how I make stitch markers, what beads to use, etc. After I emailed my response, I decided to share it here as well.

I have used just about every kind of bead under the sun for stitch markers. I haven’t gotten into polymer clay (dare I say… yet), so I only use fimo, etc if I buy beads pre-made. My current favorite is semi-precious and sterling beads, but the only limit is your imagination. Well, there are some beads that are just too big or small to be practical; small – you can work around by using several, but there’s no cure for too big. I typically shop my bead stash, as it’s even bigger than my yarn stash.

I also tend to mismatch my beads, often each marker in a set is different. Most people tend to make at least one in the set unique to be used as an end of round marker.

Here’s my tried and true technique:

I tend to use soldered jump rings in whatever diameter matches my beads and intended needle size. I stack my selection of beads on a headpin, then do a wrapped loop around the ring. Make sure the eye of the loop is big enough the bead column can move/swing freely. After I cut my wire I make sure that the cut end is tucked in well, preferably into the hole of the top bead if possible. Don’t want any rough edges to snag delicate yarn. I make sure there is a small bead at the bottom of the stack, especially if the center on my next is a little big. I have a collection of tiny silver beads and spacers that work nicely for this. I usually balance out with the same small bead or spacer on top.

I’m a bit of a metal snob when it comes to beading. I feel like if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with sterling. Base metal works okay, but sterling looks better and isn’t that much more expensive. If you prefer gold tone, gold filled wire is much cheaper than 14K, yet looks ever so nice. These metals will hold up better than base, in my experience. YMMV.

Of all the markers I’ve made, I only have one set still in my possession as the moment and it is on my blanket/shawl. I used small sterling beads called cornerless cubes at top and bottom and between beads on the last marker.

A coin shaped aquamarine bead is featured on the bead
currently occupying the start/end of round position

Next up is an amythest carved in a leaf shape

Up third is a 6 mm Mother of Pearl round.Finally, we have a small (3 mm IIRC) amythest and a rice shaped hematite

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Posted by notthatkat on August 23, 2006

I’ve never been much of a joiner. I’ve not been much for following the crowd. I tend to go my own way, follow my own interests. If others travel the same path, I’m happy to have the company. But I’ve never been one to go out and do something just because everyone else does.

This may be why I have yet to knit a Clapotis. (and too many other projects to name) This may change after the holiday knitting gets done, as I’ve been eyeing it a lot lately and think I’ve found a great yarn for one.

Along that same vein, I haven’t been a KAL kinda girl up to now. It’s not that I don’t like them, or that I don’t want to. I acutally like the concept of many people working on the same project, helping each other through the problem spots, etc.

It is just that they so rarely seem to coincide with my knitting plans. I see a lot of KAL’s for things I want to knit… eventually, in the near future, etc. But by the time I get around to this or that project, everyone else seems to have moved on to the NEXT BIG THING.

So I was surprised when I found the ballet camisole KAL recently formed, for a project I was not just planning to knit, but actually had in the prime “on deck, next up” position. Of course, I immediately signed up. I just need to get some measurements on my niece for correct sizing and I’m good to go.

I also joined Sock Wars, because… it just sounds like too much fun. Even if I get knocked out early, which I probably will, it will still be a blast.

So maybe I am becoming a joiner after all these years.

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Apologies to Jordana Paige

Posted by notthatkat on August 20, 2006

Dear Jordana,

I am really sorry. I saw your felted pumpkins in last fall’s Knitty and fell in love immediately. Since I was already knee deep in holiday knitting and sinking fast, I didn’t get any made last fall. However, I vowed to rectify that situation by making extra ones in time for Holloween this year. With the break in the heat the last couple weeks, and the newly arrived wool, I decided today was the day.

I don’t know why, but I think I am not constitutionally capable of knitting a pattern as written. I started out knitting a single wedge for the smaller pumpkin with my Wool of the Andies in the appropriately named Pumpkin color. I got half way up the increases only to find that I didn’t like the way it was coming out. I hated the thought of having to knit the wedges separately, then sew them together. A more patient soul would have trusted that it would all come out right in the end, but not me. I had visions of knitting and sewing up all seven wedges, felting the thing, and winding up with a wonky looking pumpkin.

So, I ripped it out and started modifying. My first thought was to knit the wedges in as single flat piece, and only have one long seam up the side, as well as top and bottom. Then I took it a step further and said, why not go all the way and knit it circularly:

Before I knew it, I had a completed, knit in a single piece, pumpkin:

It was soon joined by a top and a length of vine:

The pieces all felted well and are currently drying:

I have two main concerns for the finished pieces. First off, I think the vine is too big for this pumpkin. I went back and looked at the pictures, and it appears you only put the vine on the larger pumpkin. No worries, I will use it on another, larger pumpkin. I’m debating whether to make a smaller/shorter vine for this one, or to go without.

Of slightly greater concern is the “seam lines”. I knew when I went about modifying that this might be an issue. I used a column of purl stitches to mimic seam lines, but I’m not sure the indentations were quite as prominent as they should have been. I bound the bejayzus out of them:

and I’m hoping for the best. If it doesn’t work out, I have ideas for improving this one, and things to try on the next one, assuming I don’t tuck my (proverbial) tail between my legs and go back to knitting these according to the pattern.

I still think the design is beautiful, and I’m sorry I felt the need to fix what wasn’t broken

Yours sincerely,
Kat (no, not that Kat),
Studiously ignoring everything that has to be done in the next week and a half in favor of felting fun.

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