Knitting the Light Fantastic

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Odds and Sods

Posted by notthatkat on October 15, 2007

Hand Painted Socks

I finally finished my hand painted socks over the weekend. The actual knitting was done on Wednesday night, but I was so busy I didn’t manage to get them bound off until Saturday.

The color bands lasted about a round and a half each, which resulted in skinny stripes. As I said earlier, I am planning to take my drill to my warping board and add some different (shorter) lengths. It’s not that I’m unhappy with these socks – I love them – but I like playing around with stitch patterns on socks and this color repeat length just doesn’t lend itself well to that.

Since these were the first socks I knit with the yarn I dyed using this technique, I decided to knit them toe up, so I could see how the colors worked up before committing to a stitch pattern. I knit the foot in stockinette stitch, but decided to add a bit of lace on the leg á la Dublin Bay (see the sidebar).

Hand Painted Socks

I put a twisted rib at the top and did a sewn bind off, which is my usual for toe up socks. Also my usual short row heel.

I was thinking about taking a break from socks for a while. Yes it’s right in the middle of Socktober, but I’ve done a lot of socks over the last several months and the cooler weather has me thinking about mitts and hats and other little projects. I tend to try to keep myself to only a few projects at any given time, otherwise I find that perfectly fine projects tend to languish unworked in the bottom of the knitting bag. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to limit myself to one big non-lace, one lace, no more than a single pair of socks, and possibly another smaller item or two. But that’s about pushing my limit. I tend to have more mentally lined up for the future, but not a lot OTN at any given time.

So imagine my surprise when I got an email from one of my favorite designers on Friday asking if I would test knit for her. Since I was already thinking mitts, and am done with deadline knitting for a while (and taking a break from the monster projects), I jumped at the chance.

Snow on Cedar Mitts

I am knitting her Snow on Cedar Mitts, which will be sold as a kit at Wooly Wonka Fibers with the yarn Anne used. I am using some more of my hand dyed fingering (sock) yarn. I figured the variegation on this yarn was subtle enough not to fight the pattern. So far, so good. I am through the wrist section and have only found a couple minor mistakes so far. I am knitting the first one using only the written instructions (I consulted the charts to help figure out the couple mistakes). I will knit the second one from the charts. This way, I will have checked out both thoroughly. Normally I am a chart knitter, to the extent that I will write out a chart for a complicated stitch pattern if one is not provided in the pattern.

Clapotis

My Clapotis, she grows. I have finished the straight section with 15 repeats and have done a single repeat of the decrease section.

Clapotis

I love how she is knitting up. The colors are so me. And soft, squishy, pettable alpaca – no complaints here. The only downside (besides the not so pretty joins I mentioned previously) is that the yarn is fairly grippy, so the dropped stitches don’t just unzip but have to be coaxed to unravel all the way down each column. If that’s the biggest knitting problem I have all year, I am a lucky knitter indeed.

Burn Day 1

This is my biggest problem lately. Last Tuesday I burned myself on the autoclave at work. While it wasn’t quite at full heat, it was probably about 250°F (120C). And I managed to whack my arm against the door, which is the only external part that isn’t insulated. I held it under cool running water immedieately, and the picture above is what it looked like about 20 minutes later. I started treating it with silver sulfadine (Silvadene) right away. The blistered skin came off with my shirt when I was undressing Friday evening, which left a lovely open raw patch. Since then I am keeping it covered with Telfa pads and liberal quantites of Silvadene cream. When I changed the dressing this morning it looked like this (warning: semi-gross wound picture) It has a good granulation bed, and has begun to re-epithelialize. I have been treating this myself, mostly because there is nothing an MD would do for me that I’m not already doing. If it begins to look unhealthy, I’ll go see someone, but I have a lot of experience in wound care, and everything looks good so far. Not pretty, but good from a wound healing perspective.

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Posted in Clapotis, misc, Snow on Cedar, socks, test knitting | 4 Comments »

SC State Fair

Posted by notthatkat on October 11, 2007

The State Fair opened yesterday afternoon, and I went down with my good friend Cindi to see what all was going on. We started out by going through the exhibit buildings. The first building housed the interesting mix of agriculture (produce exhibits and various councils and boards) on one side and fine art on the other. The art show (divided roughly in half between amateur and professional artists) is always an interesting mix of local and regional flavor, traditional subjects and themes, abstract, and completely off the wall. This year’s WTF winner (from me, at least) has two paintings by the same artist which were so dark and obscure that the titular subject matter (Iraqi woman and Afghani woman) were unrecognizable.

From there, we went across the way to the flower and plant building. This building also houses one of the crowd favorites every year, a large sand sculpture. The subject varies from year to year. For a while when I first got to South Carolina and attending the Fair on a regular basis, the sculptors would work throughout the week and a half of the Fair and it would only be completed toward the end of the whole shebang. While this concept was intriguing, and I enjoyed seeing the final product emerge, I suspect that those who could only go once, especially early, found it frustrating to only get a partial view. Perhaps for this reason, in the last few years, they have instead had the sculpture finished at the start of the Fair When we got there, the sculptor was just putting the finishing touches on, and there was no information up explaining the theme, as there usually is.

Sand Sculpture

Obviously something horse themed, but beyond that the concept escapes me.

From there, we went to the building with the home and crafts exhibits, including the knitting. I had found the judging results online Tuesday, so I already knew how I did (my messenger bag and shrug took second places and everything else I entered took a first, YAY!). I was more interested in seeing what everyone else had put in. The criteria for the judging is a bit of a mystery to me. For example, in the Shawls, Ponchos and Capes category (which I entered my shrug) they awarded no firsts, but three seconds. There was a lovely intricate lace shawl that seemed technically proficient and should have been a shoe-in for a first in my opinion. On the other hand, I took the first in the Hat and Scarf Set category, with the least impressive item I entered that I didn’t expect to do much. The mystery of the judging is further exacerbated, for me, at least, by the fact that there is no feedback, critique, or score sheets given to the entrants. If I knew where I lost points, I might have a better understanding what the judges are looking for.

I also feel (and Cindi agreed with me) that the purse that won the grand prize for knitting, while cute and well made, was not the most impressive knitted item by a long shot. Removing my own items from consideration, there was a fabulous fair isle vest that really impressed me. Plus the aforementioned shawl. And a couple other items. Granted I am doing my assessment on items on display behind glass, rather than getting up close and personal with all aspects of each item, but that’s my opinion.

All this should not be construed as sour grapes, or I felt I should have won and didn’t – I just find myself baffled by the process. I am very happy with how I did. I was also happy to see several pair of socks entered in the “other knitted item” category (although we couldn’t find my socks despite looking very hard in all the display cases several times. Not sure if we just missed them or if they got lost in the shuffle somehow and wound up under something else). I entered mine in that category since we don’t have a sock category, on the theory that they will never introduce a sock category if they don’t know that there are people out there knitting socks who would like to enter them. So I was thrilled to see 3-4 other pairs of socks also entered. I will probably keep entering socks in this category unless or until they give it a separate category.

After that, we took a bit of a break and watched a different kind of sculpture work:

Cactus

This little bit of Americana seems like something Ann would dig up and bring to the attention of knitters everywhere, so I figured I would share it with you all. While I don’t normally think of chain saws as precision instruments:

Dog

it’s clear that in the right hands, they can be just that:

Dog

My pictures of the finished grizzly bear didn’t come out very good, but the detail on that was even more intricate.

From there, we had a bit of fair food and moved on to the animal exhibits. The livestock shows are divided with dairy cows, horses, and small stock (birds, rabbits, cavys) being shown on the first half. Then they’ll switch and the beef cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs come in for the second half.

French Angora

While South Carolina is not generally a fiber-oriented area, there were a few French Angoras in among the bunnies

Cavy

As well as a few cavies (I wonder how their hair would spin?).

Llama

The petting zoo included some Llamas (as well as some sheep that didn’t make the picture).

Yak

Anyone know what fiber bearing animal this is? I’ll give you a hint: they aren’t native to South Carolina. Or North America for that matter.

Of the dairy cows and heifers, there weren’t a whole lot of exhibitors in yet, but the major (and 1 minor) breeds were represented:

Holstein Heifer

The Holstein

Jersey heifer

The Jersey

Guernsey Heifer

and The Guernsey.

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Wedding Bells (but no Blues)

Posted by notthatkat on October 8, 2007

Vows

On Saturday, I drove to Calhoun, GA (about an hour north of Atlanta) for the event of my good friend Mike’s wedding to his lovely bride Rachel. The setting (outdoors at her parents house) was beyond lovely, the weather was pretty, if a bit warm, and the ceremony was short and sweet. In no time at all, the deed was done and done well.

Kiss your Bride

They are so cute together, no? As they begin the next chapter of their life together, I wish them all the best and am so glad I got to share their special day with them.

The Happy Couple

But this is a knitting blog, and as such, should include some knitting content. Rest assured, I was not idle on the knitting front over the weekend.

Clapotis

My Clapotis has grown a fair bit. I am about 2/3 of the way through the straight section, if I stop when the pattern says to. But I am a bit less than half way through the yarn I have, and I think I might make mine a bit longer than the pattern specifies. I won’t decide for sure until I get to the end of the straight section as written in the pattern.

The yarn I’m using is Paca-Paints from The Alpaca Yarn Company. I acquired it this spring without a clear idea what I wanted to do with it, but it called to me from the shelf of my LYS and would not be ignored. It is extremely soft and squishy and I love the way it’s knitting up. It is a wee bit splitty, but nothing I can’t deal with. My main complaint is that there have been a couple obvious splices or joins in both of the skeins that I have knit up so far. I managed to hide those sections fairly well, I think, but I’m a bit disappointed to have had them in the yarn to begin with.

Hand Painted Socks

My hand painted socks are nearing completion. I will probably put another inch or so on the leg, then ribbing.

Lattice Lace

I especially like the lace panel on each side of the leg. This is basically the panel in the Dublin Bay socks, but I reversed the direction of the pattern for the other side of the sock so they are symmetrical. I think it breaks up the striping of the yarn and adds some visual interest without competing too severely with the color pattern.

I’m considering adding some more holes to my warping board, so I can wind shorter sections of yarn. I’ll probably knit the other skein I dyed with this method before I attack it with the drill, but I’m thinking more options would be a good thing.

Posted in Clapotis, dyeing, misc, socks | 2 Comments »

Wrecked

Posted by notthatkat on August 14, 2007

As in – my shoulder.  My anything-that-can-go-wrong-will streak that started on Sunday decided to continue into Monday.  Let me tell you, only I could manage it like this, too.

Yesterday morning, I was in an exam room working on a patient.  As is often the case with the bigger ones (this one was a 110 lb Lab), I sat down on the floor to do my thing (routine annual exam and vaccinations)  The exam went fine; the shots were given without any fuss; and I drew blood for some additional testing I discussed with the owner (got up to get tubes and needle to draw blood, then back down on the floor, because no way was I lifting her onto a table)  Once we were all done, I placed my right hand flat against the floor and pushed up to get up, a maneuver I perform all the time, only to feel something go zing in my shoulder.  This was closely followed by pretty significant pain.

I immediately took some Alieve (my NSAID of choice), applied an ice pack, and put a call in to my physical therapist/sister to get her input.  After describing the initial injury and what arm movements seem to cause me the most pain (abduction – raising my arm to the side above about a 70° angle) we have come to the conclusion that I probably have a rotator cuff impingement/tendonitis/bursitis.  We don’t think I have a tear, as I don’t have any weakness, but the first problem can result in the second one, so this is not something to mess around with.

I am currently on a course of regular NSAID’s, ice packing, pendulum exercises and  the “if it hurts, don’t do it” approach.  If I’m not significantly better in a week, I seek a doctor’s care (my first question to my sister was, do I need to go see a doctor immediately).  If my symptoms have improved, we will start a program of stretching and strengthening exercises designed to help avoid re-injury.

I am somewhat encouraged by the fact that I did not have trouble sleeping because of the pain (a common occurrence with shoulder injuries), and when I got up this morning, I did not have significant pain until after I had been up a couple hours going about my usual routine.  I’m hoping this is a good sign.  Also, so far the pain doesn’t seem to be exacerbated by knitting like my elbow tendinitis of this spring.  (I tell you, I’m falling apart!)

Cable-Down Raglan

I managed to get finished with the yoke of my Cable-Down Raglan and separate the sleeves from the body.  The white cotton is from where I put the stitches on waste yarn to try it on at the first size option I was considering.  I decided to go up a size, but kept the yarn in to serve as a lifeline in case I change my mind later.

Cable-Down Raglan

Here’s a shot of the sleeve section.  Both sleeves are patiently waiting their turn on waste yarn while I work the body.

Silk Socks

My silk socks are moving right along, and the color repeats decided to behave themselves and line up nicely after all.  I’m not sure how or why, but I was about an inch past the heels when I looked down realized that rather than being about a round off, the were within about 8 stitches.

Black Kitten

This is the kitten I took to her new owners in Georgia on Sunday.

Red and White Kitten

This kitten, the one from under the boat, also left us this weekend to go to his new home in Charleston.

Butch still needs a home if anyone is interested.   He’s very sweet and loving and would make a great pet.

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Some Days I Just Shouldn’t Get Out Of Bed

Posted by notthatkat on August 12, 2007

Today was one of those days.  You know, the kind of day where anything and everything seems to go awry.

It started off well enough.  Got up, went to my hospital to take care of boarders and patients.  I only have a couple of patients, but a lot of boarders (at capacity).  It’s not so bad, though because the patients are doing well, and the boarders are easy keepers for the most part.  Then things started to go sideways.

Today was the monthly meeting day for the fiber guild I belong to that meets in Augusta.  It is a bit of a hike for me, but I’m far enough out in the boonies that I’m used to hiking to go lots of places.  I connected with this group when I was first learning to spin a couple years ago.  At the time, there was nothing available locally to support my growing obsession.  No guilds or associations – I hadn’t even found a knitting group locally that fit my schedule – no teachers, no stores that sold fiber or spinning equipment, no local spinners that I could find.  Recently a spinning guild has been formed locally, but their meetings tend to conflict for me.  Long story short (too late, I know) I now have a lot of friends among this group, and the support it provides makes it worth the trip once a month.

One friend of mine was looking to place a kitten that was adopted from the local shelter by a relative who could no longer keep it.  Another friend who also part of this fiber guild had told me shortly before hand that they were looking for a cat if I encountered any that needed a home.  I was able to get the two of them together and make arrangements to get the kitten a place to be.  Since I was seeing the adopting friend today anyway, we made arrangements for project kitten exchange.  The part of the family not involved with the guild would drive in separately and take the kitten home, leaving the rest of us free to play with fiber for a few hours.

I left with kitten in tow a bit later than I planned, but early enough to be there “on time” – about 10 minutes before the meeting actually started and early enough to take care of the kitten business.  I got about 15 minutes down the road, only to realize I left my purse at the office.  With drivers license,  registration, proof of insurance, money and credit cards.  The last bit was critical as I also needed to put gas in my car somewhere going or coming (I wasn’t driving on fumes, but I was closer to E than 1/4 tank).  I turned around and went back to the office to get my purse.  The kitten meanwhile, was going ballistic in the cardboard carrier, and I decided to let her loose to wander around the car rather than waiting until she tore a hole large enough to let herself out.

I left out again, a bit late now, but figuring I’d make up time on the interstate.  I decided to put gas in the car at the station right before I got on the interstate, as by now, my gas level is reaching a concerning level.  This necessity put me smack dab behind the biggest, baddest wide load convoy I’ve ever encountered(lead car, pick up truck towing some kind of trailer, cop car, very wide load on flatbed, two follow cars ((one for each lane)) all capped off by a state trooper).  Going 10-15 mph below the speed limit the whole way there, and blocking off the entire road in the direction I was traveling.  By now I’m running very late – as in half an hour.  The convoy took the same exit I did, but blissfully turned the opposite direction off the ramp.

I got there and explained my woes to my friends, who were very understanding, and had a good meet up with fiber friends.  We’re a casual group, so there was no problem with me being late for that.  After the meeting, I met other very good friends for dinner in Augusta, as has been our routine for a while now.  Then it was back on the road to home.

I made it up the road to about a mile from my exit when one of my tires blew out.  I dug out the spare and proceeded to start changing the tire.  I was working on getting the last lug nut off, when a young man stopped to help me.  His first words to me were, “What are you doing changing that tire?”  To which I responded, “Well, until you got here, there wasn’t anyone else to do it, so if I didn’t, it wasn’t going to get done.”  He took over the job and put on the spare.  I thanked him for his help and got back on the road.

I got off the highway, and took my usual route back to the office, because, oh, yes, the dogs need to be taken care of again.  I was almost there when I found the back road I needed to take blocked off with a policeman guarding it.  I couldn’t tell what was going on, but it looked like there were a bunch of cars pulled over in a field on the side of the road and a bunch of people gathered.  Almost like a fair or festival, but in the middle of nowhere.  This gathering didn’t seem to have blocked off the road, but the cop wasn’t letting any traffic through.  He directed me how to get around the blockage to where I needed to go (I take this route all the time, but I’m not really familiar with alternate routes.  It’s very country where I was).  Finally I made it to the office, not far behind my staffer that I called when I started changing the tire.  Together we made pretty quick work of walking and cleanup.

I suppose it could have been worse.  I didn’t lose control of the car when my tire blew, and all’s well that ends well.  But still, it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride today.  I’m going to bed now.  Hopefully tomorrow will go smoother, even with having to deal with getting my tire replaced.

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