Foggy, Foggy Dew

Well, I’m making progress on the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl, though it’s reached the point where things seem to move at less than a snail’s pace. It’s about 15 minutes per plain purl row, 20ish for a pattern row. So this seems to translate to about a repeat per day.

I weighed things yesterday afternoon, before finishing the latest repeat. There were 74 grams remaining in the ball… and the work in progress, including the 60″ Addi Turbos and the beads, weighed 55 grams. Oy. I’d say that there’s about 40 grams of yarn worked up so far… or… roughly 35% of the total yarn.

That would make me about a third done. I can’t stretch the piece out to show it in a triangle at this point; the legs of the triangle would be more than the 60″ needle long, meaning (oh I’m so good at math!) over 5 feet.

The base of the triangle — the top, that’ll be at the neck and shoulders — is about 41 inches across. Not blocked, remember, but still, stretched out to make things sort of visible and roughly ballpark how big this thing is getting.

As I’m working on it, I keep thinking about Sara Lamb’s Anatomy of a Project post from January of this year. She said:

Most times, after the first blush of excitement, there is just the daily effort. Just More. More stitches, more shots, more miles. The real work. The work without surprises, without wonder, where the planning shows in the ease, or lack thereof, of the doing. Sometimes it comes at the body, sometimes it’s the sleeves, the hours of throwing the shuttle, the hemming, the pressing, the blocking, sometimes it’s the endless miles of edging.

Yeah. So I have been pondering what keeps me going through that part. It’s the part that’s work, not play. I think it’s different in every case, with every project, but this time, the truth is, it’s because I want to see the finished object, and look at it, and know how it came out. And then I want to start the next thing with a clear conscience.

I want to see it. And if I want to see it, I have to do it.

This is my first beaded knitting project. I think maybe on the next one I’ll know what the heck I’m doing. While I’m doing this one, I keep thinking about the others. And in fact, with that in mind, I stashed up for some.

Yeah, I’m a stasher. Was there any doubt? But I swear I’ve been stashing the beads with an eye towards specific projects. Look:

Garnets are my birthstone!

So I got some nicer ones, and some irregular ones. I’m looking forward to putting them on this merino/silk yarn.

And these coppery beads are slated for this merino/silk.

With a little luck, these rhodium-plated beads will fit on this merino/tencel.

I’m looking for red and orange beads for the Hot Lava Optim. I haven’t found quite the right thing yet. And I got some little cultured seed pearls, drilled, to put on a cashmere/tussah yarn… but I think they’re too big. I have to let that idea gel.

Having concluded that the soonest I can possibly be done with the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl is realistically mid-August, I felt gloomy. Odds are I won’t be done with it that quickly; there’s too much else I have to do. That called for some consolation.

“Lovely day for a Genius!” Edward always says. Hah! That isn’t, of course, a Guinness; it’s a Boddington’s. Settling, getting ready for me to drink it. Mmmmm.

Oh, I’ve started actually looking at the heap of WordPress upgrading and tinkering that I need to do. I’ve at least reached the point where I have a shell open on that box and I’m jabbing things in the appropriate directories with the needle-like acuity of my relinquished geekdom. I think it’s reasonably safe to say that this former sysadmin has, in fact, recovered. I wonder if I should stop by the old haunt and let whoever’s left there know. Assuming anybody’s left there.

Anyway, that does mean that coming up in the next… whenever I get to it, there could be all sorts of peculiar blog experiences for my loyal readers, in the event that I decide to eschew any semblance of past professionalism and just make all sorts of changes to live systems and upgrade things in a thoroughly unprincipled manner. You’ve been warned! Any weirdnesses, though, will be short-lived. I promise.

One More Rainy Day

I spent rainy yesterday tidying a bit. It was a day of impressive thunderstorms. Storm the third for the day was reported on the evening news as having dumped 1.65 inches of rain on this town specifically, in about 90 minutes. Not a good week to want to dry things outside, I suppose.

So, I picked up some trash.

Just random bits of drum carder offal, and an ounce or so of merino.

It’s mostly sort of lavender with flashes of colour.

See? I spin not thread sometimes. This’ll be for a felted project — the Trash Bag. Coming soon.

That only took about 90 minutes all told though, for blending and spinning. And it got Cardzilla clean! And I finally did hit that bead shop in town. This, in turn, meant I could work on that shawl — which after everyone’s help and suggestions and everything, I’m calling the Foggy Foggy Dew. Naming things after songs amuses me, but perhaps all the more when they’re arguably a little obscure or even ambiguous. Depending on how you define obscure, I suppose; within its familiar genres, the song’s not at all obscure, but they’re perhaps niche genres. In any case, I love ballads — any ballad — and old ones with histories and apocrypha, all the more.

I did end up staying up past my bedtime to reach a stopping point I liked, and take some pictures. Oops. It wasn’t an evening without incident, despite the manchild’s assistance in luring cats away from bead-sorting efforts; at one point, my mother called (it’s all her fault of course) and I left the project sitting on my chair while I walked off talking with her and my niece. When I returned, I had to kick Kaylee off it. And I found…

Oh, that is going to be annoying as that ball gets more used up.

I did reach this point, however:

Then the help turned back up.

Then the more help.

Paimei was incredibly helpful. He bit the head off a pin so it was impossible to remove from the carpet without tools.

Still, my sense of the size of this project is aided by this. It is, after all, not even big enough to be a cat blanket right now. 34 inches across the top edge (not blocked, really, though).

I had to finish the last row I finished, or I was going to be at risk of starting, and not remembering what I was doing, even though I know exactly what I’m doing.

It’s in the leaves. This time through there are 2 5-diamond diamonds bounded by leaves.

I guess they’ll sort of look like squares when the thing is done, though, since it’s knit diagonally.

But it should look more diamondlike when it’s being worn.

Odds of finishing this project this week: zero.

Oh, and in other news, I’m sick of looking at the same inventory right now, so it’s all 10% off, here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Franquemont-Fibers

starting in about an hour, all through Sunday.

Triangle Progress

In-progress shots of lace are always so disappointing. But I’m sure enough of you are lace knitters to know that, and thus be able to do a little light imagining…

The Triangle (will somebody name this for me? I am no good at naming things, I fear) has grown to the point of being about 30 inches, unblocked, across the top.

I’m not sure if I have enough beads to complete this as I desire. I’ve also reached the conclusion that these beads are not of particularly high quality, and this means I’ve reached that point in a project where the first real pangs of remorse set in: this was a time-consuming yarn, it’s time-consuming knitting, and I’m putting $3 worth of cheap glass beads on it? What was I thinking? Could I not perhaps have shelled out, oh, $5? What if, when I get this sucker wet to block it, the beads turn into crap?

But I’m committed.

Oh, for a better view of the beads, look here for the mega-fullsize version, Flickr style.

Of course, that’s them in the full sun… and they’re sorta iridescent. So they almost look better here:

In other news, I’m less than 20% done, it would seem; the remaining ball of yarn weighs 3.25 ounces, and the skein weighed 4 ounces. But because of how it’s built up, I do not anticipate that this means the finished shawl will be 12 feet across. I’m guessing more like 6 feet.

This weighing, too, creates project angst and remorse. What was I thinking? If I work on this straight through in all my evening time till August, I’ll have… a massive thing. Maybe my original plan is flawed. Perhaps I should change it (No, Abby, continue with the plan, you know you always do this, continue with the plan!) Maybe I should put it aside for a while (You can’t do that, it’s on your 60″ 2.5mm circular needle and you are NOT to leave that stuck in a UFO!)

Nope. Nope, it’s time to summon up the project faith. It is a good plan, and a good project, and it will work out wonderfully. Keep going.

Oh, the random! But there is fiber content, I promise.

Saturday morning dawned, and with the boy at his grandparents’ house we were waking up slowly. Chad made some smart-aleck remark, and I retorted, paraphrasing the episode of “Deadwood” we’d watched the previous night: “I no more need your witticisms than I do a balloonist!”

I looked out the bedroom window and there, drifting just above the trees bordering the neighbours’ horse pasture, was a big red hot air balloon. “Hey Chad,” says I, “There’s a balloon out here, really close!”

“What was that about a balloonist?” he quipped. I laughed. “Can you see how many people are in it?” he asked.

“Two, maybe three?” I guessed. Heading downstairs with thoughts of going out for breakfast, we both watched out the windows as we went. Standing in the kitchen, we looked out and saw the balloon was now very close, with two guys in it. I peered out the sliding door to the deck, and one of ’em waved, from his vantage about 20 feet over the corner of our deck. I waved back, and opened the door.

“Can we land?” the guy asked.

“Sure!” I said, and he told me he’d land right over in the front yard. “Sounds cool!” I replied, looking for my shoes. Having found them seconds later, and grabbed my camera, I headed out the front door… and saw no balloon. Instead I saw this, down by the neighbours’ driveway.

Plainly a ballon chase vehicle, having found its way down our dead-end road, no less. I left the porch and rounding the corner of the house…

As I walked over, the two fellows in the balloon introduced themselves; one was an instructor and the other was a balloonist getting his certification for commercial balloon work. The instructor hopped out, and making it look like nothing at all,

walked the balloon over to the driveway as the chase truck backed its trailer up the driveway.

We chatted as they prepared to pack up (and the chase truck driver brought up the newspaper! Delivery by balloon crew!) They made it look like an absolutely trivial thing to do…

Ever the yarn dork, of course, I was intrigued by the process of dropping the deflating balloon without the fabric or lines tangling.

I hadn’t realized there was an opening at the top of the balloon as well as the bottom, and some sort of rigging lines inside as well as out.

They just laid the whole balloon down right there evenly along the driveway. Packing it up involved tipping over the basket, and then the chase truck crew fella brought out a device that looked like nothing so much as a giant Majacraft flyer hook (you know, an open-ended twist of metal tubing, like the yarn guide on ball winders, too). They passed the fabric through this smoothing things out, then started to cram the balloon into a giant stuffsack. Once this was done, they loaded the basket on a small wheeled trailer, put everything in the truck trailer, and thanked us for letting them use the yard and driveway for landing. The instructor gave me his card and then they were off; it might have all taken half an hour.

Unlike Amy’s recent experience, we didn’t get rides; but it would have been on the early side for me to think about anything like that anyway. I was just sorry that Edward missed it. However, you know, one of the things about this particular part of Ohio — and maybe it’s Ohio at large — is that it’s nutty for anything that goes up in the air. Seriously nutty.

From spring to fall, every single weekend, the air is filled with hot air balloons. I’ve been standing on the deck and been able to see 8 at a single time (though 3 or 4 is more common). Last summer, one landed across the road. And I think there are roughly a trillion small airports around here. There’s more than one hot air balloon festival. And I’m serious about it being aviation type stuff in general, of every type — there’s a small neighbourhood not a mile away as the crow flies which has a little airstrip of its own and folks have their small planes parked next to their driveways or in little hangars on their property.

In 2003, for the Centennial of Flight, well, that was a year when the aviation-type activity here was heavy. We were out visiting, and one day driving down the road, there were literally 8 dirigibles (blimps, airships, you know) visible in the sky — and it seemed like practically every “bigger” airport had an airship hanging out at it. That year, we all met the folks crewing the Fuji blimp, which was at a nearby airport. We were there keeping our distance looking at it, and someone walked up to Edward and said, “You guys can walk right up and touch it and stuff if you like. Wanna see inside?” He got to get in. And I can’t find those pictures!

My periodontist is up by the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, and one recent visit I was sitting in the chair watching big planes land — like I hadn’t seen since the year they landed some of those same unbelievably massive planes at Moffett Field a few years ago. As an aside, let me tell you, those things are BIG. I mean BIG. I will never forget driving along 101 as one of ’em came in for a landing and there it was in front of me, over me, blocking out the sun, looking far too massive to possibly be in the air — those things just defy the brain’s image of what it’s possible to put in the sky.

Let’s see, what other evidence of local aviation-madness can I find… ah! Going to do certain kinds of shopping requires driving past the home of the Wright “B” Flyer and nothing in the area lets you forget the Wright Brothers did their thing in Dayton. And occasionally, here in town, you’ll hear about Neil Armstrong, who recently moved closer to Cincinnati, but lived here for decades, leaving an almost disconcertingly unassuming mark on the place, in things like teeny tiny plaques that are all but hidden from sight in places he helped out at (like the Y where Edward goes to summer camp).

In fact, digressing a little bit, that whole attitude largely characterizes the local mindset — everybody’s just some dude who wants to be a regular schmoe, mow the yard, wave to the neighbours, be regulars at the same restaurants and businesses, raise kids, go to school plays, watch the fireworks from the back yard, and be generally friendly and personable but not intrusive in anyone else’s life. I swear the culture shock almost killed me (but in a good way), moving here from Silicon Valley.

Anyway, so the hot air balloon guys are just out doing what they do, which is no big deal or uncommon thing, and they’re very polite about the use of someone’s yard for landing, which is a routine enough matter that — I later heard from my mother-in-law — the standard, acknowledged convention is that people put a bedsheet in the yard to let balloonists know it’s totally cool to land. So, it wasn’t like it was a special occasion or anything; in fact I’m sure if I walk outside right now and look up, I’ll see hot air balloons. Just not one landing in my yard.

Oh, and before I move on to the actual fiber content for the day, I’d just like to state that in my opinion, the Transformers movie is the best summer blockbuster type movie in quite some time. Therefore I won’t say anything else about it, really, save that Edward totally numbed my arm clinging to it during incredible CG effects-laden fight sequences, when he wasn’t sitting with his mouth agape in glee or identifying which guys were which for me. And yes, it’s an incredibly good GM commercial, and that doesn’t detract from the summer-blockbuster-ness of it at all. Special effects galore, no more than 90 seconds without action sequences, exactly what you need in a summer blockbuster. Pure entertainment.

So anyway, yeah, the fiber content. It’s still too hot to spin, even with the air conditioning on (as it has been and will continue to be), so I’ve been working on that triangle again.

It’s now that big, or actually maybe 2 inches wider at the top part now, so 25 inches across the top unblocked. Shown here, I was moving it from the short 2.5mm circular needle to the long one, so this was a great chance to take a picture.

I decided that certain design elements in this shawl were simply going to end up being far too understated, and that disappointed me as I felt they were among the cleverer parts; the parts that I had to throw in to keep me on my toes so I’d finish the project (since, as I’ve explained before, if I get bored, I stop knitting). Soooo….

…beads.

Yeah, beads. Iridescent beads which I decided I needed to sort by colour. Talk about an exercise in … uh… trying to go blind perhaps.

Anyway, the shawl is top-down from the top center out, around a corner, so that the yarn will stripe in an interesting way. Building on that are diamonds, at a 45% angle to the stripes. Moving out from there, diamond-shaped blocks of 5 diamonds on a side are bordered with lines of leaves, which will be progressing in diamond shapes. This was the design element that I felt was too understated. So, now it’s being punched up with the centers of the leaves being beaded, so that when the shawl is all said and done, there’ll be lines of beads at a 90% angle to the stripes, along the centerline of some of the diamonds, progressing in a diamond-shaped pattern throughout the shawl. Lastly, a beaded edge is planned for the legs of the triangle (not the base, at the neck side).

Wow, does that ever make no sense to describe! You’ll just have to keep watching as this progresses. And it promises to be large — remember, there’s 1100 yards of this yarn, and my plan is to go till I’m done. I’d say that right now I’m probably through the first 20% of the skein. Maybe. Honestly I’ve no idea; I would have to weigh the skein or something, and I can’t be bothered!

Friday Morning, huzzah!

Friday morning, and Thursday did result in almost all the batt club boxes making it out the door. The remaining 4 go today, whew!

Yesterday also brought me this:

Thank you, Amy! As it happens, I was just thinking, “man, I need a little bag to put some of these things on my end table into, it’s a disaster area.” But more important…

…she nailed me with these batts. Again! These are BFL, mohair, silk, and alpaca, with the mohair and alpaca being from farms in Maine. I love love love this colour, too.

While I was snapping pictures, I threw this in the White Reflective Box Thingy With Lights Pointing At It (that’s the technical term).

That’s the plied, skeined Hummingbird yarn from a few posts back, when it was shown on the bobbin.

I had big plans of spinning those Spunky batts right up, but by the time I got downstairs to the slothing chamber and seated in my La-Z-Boy with a fresh bobbin on the Suzie Pro, I realized it was just too hot and muggy for me to feel like spinning anything. So instead, I gave in to startitis!

…what? Okay, it’s this:

which is that merino/tencel skein from yesterday, and some US 2 Bryspun bendy needles, and a bit of random started lace.

By the end of the evening it was this:

and soon, it’ll move to circulars.

Oh, why is this so early, you might ask? I was awakened.

Good morning!

Rainy Day!

It’s an utterly bleak and gray rainy day. I’m thrilled.

Unfortunately, they’re saying on the radio that even if it rains all day today and all day tomorrow, it won’t likely be enough to make a huge difference to the crops, and we’ll still need several more inches of rain, soon. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Thank you all so much for your responses to my 100th post! You still have through Friday to weigh in on the contest if you’re so inclined. And I have still not skeined, finished, dried, and measured that bobbin — and it’s killing me! The suspense! We’ve got votes from the 500s to the 1200s for yardage, and my old friend Wednesday (hah! You’re old!) pointedly notes she really can’t guess at the meters on account of all the yards. This is pointed, because she knows full well I grew up as much metric as SAE, and am prone to switch between the two at random, and have generally tried to be conscientious about using both when I’m referring to measurement type stuff. My excuses are that a) I am lazy sometimes, and b) my skeiner measures yards. However, I am duly reminded and will make an effort to remember to include meters on my numbers from here on out!

Oh, so yesterday I was chit-chatting with Pippi, who updated her store, but did not include any more Pagoda! I hate her so much! So I told her so. That resulted in me promising I’d take at least one in-progress photo of what I was doing with the Falkland Pagoda, even though it just looks like a giant sack of nothing. Or as my mother-in-law has joked, a toilet seat cover! Everything looks like a toilet seat cover when you do it in the round on a set of circular needles. This shawl is not in the round, but nonetheless…

What I can tell you about it is that structurally, it’s a triangle shawl knit from the top down, but getting longer. So there’s a set of central increases — a mitered corner at the centerline. Doing it this way means the long colour repeats I spun into the Pagoda are triangle stripes throughout the fabric. Meanwhile, to counterpoint that (or deal with my tendency to grow bored with one single pattern), I’m doing sections of different patterns, delimited (that’s a geek word for “separated”) by eyelet stripes. These pattern sections are also triangles, but they’re at a 45-degree angle to the triangles that appear because of the striping effect.

I had decided that the final section would go to having all one pattern for the outermost or lowermost edges… and now I see that I won’t have enough yarn to make that happen. So, since Pippi is all out of Pagoda, I thought I’d see if my own Falkland inventory didn’t happen to have something that sorta worked, maybe kinda.

And that looks, in the fiber, like it could match the pink-purples. Or work with them. However, sadly, with the first bobbin of single spun up, the answer is no, not at all. So I probably will have to dye some Falkland yellow and work with that. Given that dilemma and the lead time involved in turning some Falkland top yellow with maybe flecks of pink or orange here and there, I decided to finish something that had been sitting on my table for… since… when did the spring IK come out? Since then.

You see, I’d never actually done this entrelac thing, and I had some problem yarn — a chain-plied tussah silk seconds for “Indian Summer,” which had blurred too much and I lacked confidence in the light brown dye in it (since discontinued). So I simply followed the directions in the magazine and used up the yarn.

I was right to be suspicious of the light brown dye. It ran in the hot water wash.

So, I gave the entire thing a half-hour acid bath at about 180 degrees F, rinsed it very aggressively, and then ironed it to the point of mostly dry.

I’m actually happier with this colourwise than I was with the yarn. I mean, the yarn wasn’t bad. But there were pink overtones I didn’t like so much. The running brown changed those, as did the hot iron.

And really, this was a fun little learning project, with a pleasant end result.

Having that off the needles, of course, allowed me to cast on something else. I took this leftovers skein here, which Chad tells me our cat Paimei has been bringing to him in his office with some regularity, and started fiddling with it.

I think it was somewhere around 125 yards, and was the leftover merino/tencel from this sock yarn. That should be quick and entertaining.

Oh, right — and I’ve been working my way through my “Spin Me” stack. Monday night, I wrapped up the second bobbin of a fine laceweight merino/tussah leftover, and spun up these fellas:

This was another of the superwash/tencel batt trials. There were two, one of which had been through one more pass to even out the colours more. The superwash/tencel batts took more passes than I really felt like doing, oy! Pictured above is the more-blended one, which spun up into this single:

while the second one, less blended, spun up into this single:

which brings us to the end of Monday night’s spinning. Tuesday night, also known as last night, I was thus forced to have a ply-o-rama. It would seem I took no pictures of the 350 yards of merino/tussah, nor have I weighed it, nor anything! For shame. But I did snap this picture of the superwash/tencel once I plied it…

And supposing it ever dries, well. You know. Same goes for that merino/tussah one. This Autumn coloured yarn here came to 385 yards (352 m) before its long long hot soak and whatnot. Simple hot soak for… well, I can’t be sure; the truth is I forgot about it and when I went to take it out later it was far from hot. Ahem. I followed that up with a cold rinse and hung it to dry on the towel bar, as it was, by then, evening and a thunderstorm. That’s why it isn’t dry yet. But I can tell it’s going to be rather nice. Maybe nice enough to make me willing to blend superwash and tencel more. I can’t say for sure yet.

Speaking of blending, that’s really what I ought to be doing right now. So, without further ado, and without telling you more of what I’ve determined thanks to all your wonderful responses to my 100th post, I must now finish my last coffee and head into the studio, lest there be no new exciting batts for Friday’s shop update. Yay, batts!

Oh, and actually that reminds me — a sale! I’ve just marked a whole pile of handspun and handpainted yarns to 15% off, now through July 3. Or, well, starting in about an hour. And your shipping’s on me if you let me know you came from my blog, at checkout time. It’s here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Franquemont-Fibers

Fern Lace Scarf in Merino/Tencel

Some of you may recall these 50/50 merino/tencel dye testers…

There were several, but these were the pair that I culled to spin for myself and test which of several methods of dyeing I planned to use with merino/tencel moving forward. The one at rear, with the greens, remains unspun as yet, but I did spin up the rainbow-coloured one in the front, finding the dye penetration in it to be disappointing as I had feared. Spun and chain plied, here’s how that one turned out:

It’s not that it’s bad exactly, it’s just that it wasn’t nearly as vibrant and garishly bright as what I’d been trying to achieve. Because the dye technique I used on that particular 2-ounce top didn’t penetrate the top fully in some places, there was too much undyed, white fiber, and that toned things down and made for it to be more pastel.

Now, to be honest, sometimes I manipulate things specifically to achieve that result for several reasons (usually as an intermediate stage in a multi-part dye process). This time though, what I really needed to do was get a feel for the rate at which dye moved through this fiber, how it acted, and so forth. And now I know, and future dye efforts on the merino/tencel top are going to be much more predictable.

But so there I was with, I think, 300-some-odd yards of this spun up for test purposes. What to do, what to do… hat? scarf? Something like that. I opted for “scarf,” despite an abject lack of need for anything scarfy. Here comes the whole story — but first, a pop quiz!

So, let’s just say you have something laid out carefully on the bed to take pictures, and it looks like this:

Now, leave the room and walk 12 steps down the hall to get your camera. Upon your return, your careful layout has become…

Hrmmmm. What, then, could have caused this?

Space monkeys. Surely it was space monkeys.

This was a big needle project (well, for me) — I knit it on a pair of US 6 / 4mm Bryspun flexible needles, and it was a schlep-around-in-the-car project last week, plus I worked on it a bit in the evenings.

The pattern is the Fern Leaf Lace in Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting. It is similar to, but slightly different from, the version of it on the Boston Museum sampler studied by Susanna Lewis in Knitting Lace.

After having worked it a few times in a few different ways, I think I’m finally close to settling on a way I like to do it, and the next thing I put this pattern into, I might be genuinely pleased with.

Because of the bias created by the side-leaning double decreases, this pattern does create a… puckered, ripply look in the fabric. That was a challenge I didn’t overcome to my satisfaction in this quickie freehand sweater a couple years back:

(That’s the Susanna Lewis variant from the Boston Museum sampler)

I think my next iteration will use 5 holes per fern instead of 4, knit 3 together at the right edge, knit 3 together through back loop at the left edge, and be bounded with either reverse stockinette or a very loose, stretchy, open lace. I might also change the spacing of the leaves, and see what I can come up with the overemphasize the column of stitches which becomes the stalk at center of each leaf.

Chinchero weaver that I am, I can’t help but classify this pattern as raki-raki, which is a fern when you’re talking about the plant, but part of what makes something raki-raki is how it’s broken up off-kilter from a centerline while still maintaining symmetry. Ferns exhibit raki-raki tendencies, and that’s why they’re called that.

Well, that’s that for a finished object update today. What am I on to for the rest of the day? Here’s the list:

  • Editing plying video — I haven’t forgotten! And while we’re still on plying, has everyone been to see what Amelia’s been saying on the subject? And as a heads up, the latest issue of Spin-Off features a terrific Judith McKenzie-McCuin article on wet finishing yarn, which is really extremely relevant to getting plied yarns to be as nice as they can be.
  • Spinning up odds and ends, including a fat yarn on the bobbin right now
  • Trying to find the right thing to use for drop spindle plying video
  • Re-gluing the arm of my skeiner, which was broken in the moving van last year and just came unglued again
  • Inventory of miscellany to put on clearance sale Friday
  • Packing, shipping, and post office run on the way to pick the lad up from swim camp
  • Acquire new sandals for manchild, to replace the pair of which one half was lost yesterday, down a raccoon hole, at swim camp
  • Spin tussah silk khaitu style weaving yarn for upcoming project
  • Improvised top-town (instead of my perpetual bottom-up) triangle shawl from Pagoda Falkland, which reminds me, did y’all see Shannon’s Pagoda? Can there be any doubt that Pippi needs to do this again? Well, you won’t have any doubt once you see my triangle. Pippi must do this again.
  • Drinking more coffee. Always more coffee.

Looking back at this list, I see that shockingly, there is almost no production in it. Tomorrow will have to be a production day, dyeing tussah silk and maybe some wool.

Wednesday… washing used objects, blocking, and the Elaborated Print o’ the Wave Scarf, FINALLY

Well, here it is, Wednesday morning, and I haven’t gotten that plying video done yet. It might happen today, but there’s also some production work that has to happen, it’s the boy’s last day of school tomorrow and he’s got a couple of days of early release, and lo and behold, it turns out we’ve driven right past a place on Main Street, time and again, called…

The Lebanon Electric Motor Service Company

…so at some point (since we’re still working on picking the right replacement motor or finding a gearbox), Cardzilla’s motor is going to get pulled and I’m going to just take it over there, smile winningly, and say “Hey, can I get a gearbox for this by any chance? It’s slipping under load going forward.”

Another example of my sheer brilliance manifested itself yesterday when, picking up the finished Elaborated Print o’ the Wave scarf to wash and block it, I thought to myself, “Hey, if I’m blocking stuff I might as well wash and block my winter wearables too, they need it! And I’ll just pin everything out on the deck, plenty of space…”

Right. Of course, I hate blocking; so making it “blocking outside in 92F weather” was an even better idea, right? As was attempting to shove quilting pins into a pressure-treated deck. I did get the Purple Mohair/Silk Triangle (I name my stuff so winningly, don’t I?) reasonably well blocked, which is actually tricky because (ssssh, don’t tell) it’s got a bad skew problem at the top of the triangle. But I had forgotten that when you wear something all winter long, and it gets scrunched up and crammed in your coatsleeve and stuffed in a bag and heaven knows what all else, well, yeah, it benefits from a reblocking.

Now, of course, I am starting to think I ought to pick up a dress form one of these days, for the sake of taking pictures of a few things. Well, and for being a dress form. I’ve grown to loathe the finished-object photography issues. I want to take both technical photos and sexy photos, but there’s not many good ways to combine the two; and in some cases I want to be able to show the items “in action,” which could happen with me wearing them and someone else taking a picture, but I’m never satisfied with those. Nor am I satisfied with having pressed a large fan into service to hold this shawl:

It’s totally frustrating; this is an awesome shawl, I wear it all winter long, and so help me, I’ve never been able to get satisfactory photos of it. The whole pile of ’em is here in my old photo gallery area, including the yarn.

I’ve never been satisfied with the Creme de Menthe scarf photos either. So this time around, I’ve tried to get photos I like better. I’m still not really satisfied. Once the Creme de Menthe scarf is dry, I’ll try a few more ideas. For now, here is part of it pinned out on the closet floor (where the pins will actually stick, unlike in the pressure treated lumber).

It’s particularly hard with the Creme de Menthe one, because it’s a sampler with weird variations and whatnot.

Moving on, though, hey, look, it’s a finished object! FINALLY! Started last September as a travel project, I found myself perpetually losing focus on this after I memorized the pattern about 3 repeats in. The pattern is a really pretty one, and it bears some conceptual similarities to the Andean weaving pattern jakaku sisan and variants, which is one of my favourites… and perhaps where I lost focus and found myself getting a little bit bored; I wanted to start improvising or turning it into other things, and that was not the goal of the scarf.

However, odds are that I will apply some jakaku sisan variation principles to the Elaborated Print o’ the Wave pattern at some point, and do a doubled and reflected one which travels over a wider space, with background infill from related patterns as well. I’ve dug around a bit to find something that I have a photo of which has some of those conceptual elements in it. I’m not sure that they’re visually so closely related — to me the connection is obvious, but it is a thing based in Andean weaving that makes the connection, and I’m not sure it’s readily visible if you’re not, say, trying to describe the way you work the pattern in Quechua.

Anyway, jakaku sisan in its straight, basic form is the brown-black one at the sides here:

(the middle fella is Loraypu, which is too complicated to get into today)

A jakaku is a bird, sort of a hummingbird; a sisan is, among other things, part of a flower. This is the conceptual interpretation, not the literal, as represented in Quechua woven thought.

The key conceptual thing that jakaku sisan teaches is the hooked bits and the diagonals, and how to attach them, reflect them, rotate them, and move them around. This next example is several steps more complicated (at least) and uses some other conceptual elements as well:

See the lobed curling hook bits? Attaching to the diagonals on the diamond part? They’re the same lobed curling hook bits in jakaku sisan. Notice, though, how they go up, and down — going up the bottom of the diamond, they curl under, and along the top of the diamond they curl over (not factoring in or discussing the negative space ones right now either).

Anyway, Print o’ the Wave in its base form, here:

has lobed thingies that move inward towards a central line, from points at the bottom. It has no up-curling lobes. However, you have an flow to it where the subsequent lobe starts at a certain point in the completion of the prior one, and there’s a reflection point, that is conceptually very similar to where those lines of symmetry occur in the fundaments of jakaku sisan, which is sort of like… a 4th grade pattern.

Elaborated Print o’ the Wave, then, resembles the diamond pattern with the lobed curling hooks in black & white above — not visually, but conceptually in terms of how you do it. Look:

As your diagonal centerline that the lobes come into zig-zags its way along, you shift at critical points to make it turn one way or the other, and your lobes still are under the traveling centerline. With knitting, it’s not possible to simply reflect the pattern either — if I did lobes that came off the top of the centerline, structurally it wouldn’t be possible to make them exactly match the lobes that start with a single stitch above a yarn over. So what COULD you do to reflect it in the same piece while the centerline travels?

That question plagued me, nonstop, the entire time I worked this scarf. I wanted so badly to go haring off wildly thinking about that, but I also really, really wanted the scarf in straight, unadulterated (well, mostly) Elaborated Print o’ the Wave. For me, it is easier to think in the textile than it is in an on-paper representation, too, so… it wasn’t working if I tried to sketch it. And I knew if I started a tester to see what I could do, I’d never, ever finish this scarf.

So, the scarf went with me on trips out, to dentists’ waiting rooms, visits to the in-laws, drives of more than 20 minutes, to serve as a hand fidget until I finished it. I started it shortly after Labor Day, and finished it on Memorial Day: September 16, I think, to May 28. For a simple scarf from about 600 yards of yarn. Oh! The yarn was Belisa Cashmere, and I picked it up at Stitches West a couple years ago. Decent cashmere yarn. You know, for a millspun.

Let’s take a moment and laugh at the crabby chick (who needs to stop eating so much of her better half’s fabulous cooking) standing by the mirror, for… scale. Or something.

The truth is that I do really like this scarf, and look forward to putting into the rotation come fall, with Creme de Menthe and the purple triangle. I’m just crabby about photography today, and falling behind my self-imposed schedules for things again. Given that tomorrow is the lad’s last day of school and everything, I have no idea when I’m going to actually be able to pull off a dye day this week… but I’ll need to do something or I’m going to be really mad at myself for having no new inventory by the end of the week. I’ll have to pull something out of my hat one way or another.

Monday? MONDAY?

Yeah, definitely Monday. I can’t wake up yet it seems, and I clearly need to refill my coffee.

The coffee’s on the right, next to the chocolate-covered strawberries Chad made me yesterday (that’s right, I’m keeping him, no you can’t have him, don’t even think it, I’m a dangerous woman, make your own strawberries). As for the coffee, it’s strong, diluted only with heavy cream. And yeah, I definitely am going to need more of it today. I’m not sure I support this earlier daylight savings time thing — actually I think daylight savings time is silly in general — and I swear that as I age (yeah yeah, just stick me in a rocking chair on the front porch with my knitting and a cane to shake at the passing kids, already) even small time changes have a bigger impact on me than they used to. All the more when it’s back to waking up in the dark. I hate waking up in the dark. It’s uncivilized.

That said, changes in the schedule for daylight savings time being hyped as the new Y2K with respect to information technology bemuses me at best, and causes eyerolling. Please.

But indeed, coffee. It’s going to take coffee for me to get everything done today that I’ve got on my list of bright ideas. I’ve got boxes to pack and a subsequent post office run and sundry other errands while I’m at it. I have at least 4 loads of laundry to get done, and the inevitable folding-and-putting-away backlog from last week as it is. I’ve got to edit photos for my cabled yarn tutorial and finish that up, I’ve got a plying video I want to make while I have some thinner yarn ready to ply, I need to do some more batts, I’ve got batts from last week I need to get listed for sale, vis:

I’ve got a fearsome backlog of email and comments that I actually need and want to respond to, a handfull of balls to wind for my personal projects, I need to make Gert a chart of that edging for the Falling Leaves Isosceles, I want to chart my changes on the elaborated print o’ the wave, if I’m smart I’ll chart some of that other improvised shawl I’ve back burnered till I finish some other things, and I’d really like to do some straightening in the yarn room, plus I need to do drum carder cleaning and maintenance… okay, we’ve exceeded the scope of today again. I think we did that a while ago. I think I say “we” here in hopes of cloning myself with the power of words alone. Hasn’t worked yet.

On the sad side of things, as of yesterday I’ve survived three whole entire years as a fatherless child. The second week in March is always hard for me, ever since the year he died; but at least now that the date is past, I won’t be thinking about how it’s coming up. I think the world changes forever when a parent dies; I’m no stranger to death and loss and all that sort of thing, but man. As Hope said, it doesn’t really get any easier, just familiar. So it’s good to have chocolate-covered strawberries, and plenty of good, strong coffee with heavy cream. In fact, let’s see that again just for good measure:

Yep, still looks good.

I did stretch out the rassafrackn pink scarf on the floor last night to see how big it is now, and how many more repeats I really need, and if I want to put an edging on it. Here’s the montage of progress from a couple of days ago:

Did I really think it was long enough? Or needed an edging? Well, in all honesty, no. But this scarf — well, there’s a reason it’s not done. That reason is, I chose everything about it for the sake of it being travel knitting, an in-the-car project, a memorizable and straightforward pattern that’s easy to read, easy to remember, and not horrific to execute, but using small yarn and therefore also not hard to take with me places. And then I didn’t finish it on a trip, with the net result that I’ve been stuck with a travel knitting project to do while not traveling; and that bores me.

I clocked it last night; 2 rows, a down-and-back, takes me 3.5-5 minutes. So it’s about 90 minutes for a 35-row repeat, so for around 12 repeats or thereabouts, it’s a mere 18-20 hours of knitting total… but I’ve been at it since September, because I put this thing down and stop working on it so often, since it’s travel knitting and boring the crap out of me if I do it while I’m not also otherwise engaged. And what happens then is that I start thinking, “I wonder what mad flight of fancy and departure from plan I could throw into the mix now to spice this up a little.”

The truth of the matter is none. The right thing to do with the project is knit till I’m out of yarn and the project is completed as per plan. I simply keep losing focus on this project. Which is why it must be completed.

Once it’s done, too, I think I’m also going to wash my two main winter scarfy objects that I actually wear, the Creme de Menthe one and the purple mohair/silk triangle. They’ve both been worn all winter and are in need of washing and re-blocking. And probably new and better pictures. With warming weather, perhaps some outdoor good-light pictures may be forthcoming.

Yesterday, a total of 8 out of 30 bulbs that my son planted last fall could be seen to be sprouting! Surely that’s a sign of spring, along with warmer weather which I’m sure can’t possibly really be here to stay. But I’ve got no real gut sense of winter here; certainly it’s been milder so far than anywhere else I’ve lived that had winter, despite being a record-setter on occasion. It’s a mystery. But soon! Soon, there’ll be lilacs, and that I await eagerly. Lilacs don’t really grow particularly well to the West of the Mississippi, apparently, which means I had none in California; and for many years before that, my urban Chicago lifestyle didn’t feature much in the way of lilacs either. But yet in my childhood and teens, lilacs were the surest sign of true spring and they’re my favourite flower. It’s been seventeen years since I really had lilacs.

Of course, I mentioned my lilac anticipation to my mother yesterday, and she gently reminded me that lilacs may not bloom the first year after you plant them. Damned ethnobotanists with their knowing stuff about plants! “Even if ours don’t,” I argued, “there’ll be lilacs here in Ohio.”

Falling Leaves Isosceles Scarf

Blocking has been completed for the Falling Leaves Isosceles Scarf. Like several other projects I’ve had taking up needle space and whatnot of late, this too is a Giant Swatch, which also had a learning goal, that of thinking through some things about triangular shaping.

Goal 1: Swatch hand-dyed merino/silk and merino laceweight millspun yarn.

To this end, I threw the short skeins that were left over after putting up yarn for dyeing, into the dyeing mix, using low water immersion and getting a variegated autumnlike effect with an overall brown colour containing flashes of bright red and turquoise shades. I had about 100 yards of the merino/silk, and 150 yards of the merino.

The center, with the falling leaves, is merino/silk, and the outside border with the improvised diamonds, is merino.

So, it takes about 250 yards to make a triangle kerchief.

The big challenge in this one for me was working the border in the round, trying to neatly make both 45-degree and 90-degree mitered corners. All in all, it was a success, and the next thing I do that with, I’ll actually feel confident while I’m doing it that I’ll get the shape I’m after.

The center was worked point-up, with increases at either side, 2 every right-side row, just inside a garter stitch border that was there for the sake of expediency. Then, I picked up stitches all the way around. I turned a stock mitered 90-degree corner at the bottom point, increasing on either side of the centerline stitch there, every other row; and on the other corners, I increased that way every single row.

And here it is hanging in the window to let light shine through. It’s very very light; probably under an ounce.