Wednesday, March 28, 2007

At least it's not orange...

Well, as you know if you've been reading here a bit, I completely frogged the green sweater. It was supposed to be for me. It didn't fit. By a long shot. Upon review of the pattern, and an honest review of my measurements I came to realize that without some major adjustments to the pattern (or my figure) it would NEVER fit me.

So I frogged it.

I came home early from work yesterday with a rotten cold. I was feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to start something new as all my current projects were frustrating me, so last night after I finished the sock, I started a new sweater with that green yarn. (It is a different green from the green socks mentioned in the last post).

I'm using EZ's book "Knitting Without Tears" and did a swatch and remeasured myself ... and while my measurements are no where near the measurements of this lady or anyone in her family... I used her formula to cast on for a knit in the round sweater.

I cast on 294 stitches using a KnitPicks #7 circular needle with a 42" cable. It might actually come out to be the 54" needed to go around my hips. Scary, eh?

I decided with 54 inches of ground to cover, I really didn't care for trying to do ribbing and would be perfectly happy with a rolled cuff at the bottom edge.

To avoid a twist, I went back and forth for a few rows (four) then joined and will use that tail to close up the little gap later.

When I get up to about 4 inches, I will probably decrease a bit to about 50 inches. It will be a nice, comfy sweater. The perfect thing to wear when I'm sick with the chills and miserable.

I already warned Ken that I may need to order more yarn. He's smart cookie really and knows about dye lots (his mother and ex-wife did teach him a few things) and wondered how I would handle that problem. If it is a problem, I will probably do a stripe of black (since I have some of the same yarn in black) put in the newly acquired yarn, then another stripe of black before returning to the original green. I can do the cuffs of the sleeves or a stripe in the upper arm in black to tie in the theme. Might be kind of fun to do a Celtic design of some sort.

I'll see how I feel when I get there.

For now, I'm sitting home burning sick leave; drinking tea, reading other people's blogs and knitting. I plan to nap this afternoon when I break down and have a Theraflu. If I didn't have so much work sitting in the pile on my desk at the office, I might actually be enjoying this steady consumption of facial tissue.


Yes indeedy I finished one of the red socks.

Here it is with one row to go before grafting toe.

And here it is completed.

And yes, that is the second in the pair already started.

I'm so proud of me!

Next pair will be dark green. I already have the yarn balled up and ready to go. I will do the heels a bit differently next time however as these are a bit wide. But I will make these match so they can go to a better home if I end up not liking how they fit.

The first one is very warm and does go nicely inside my shoe.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Need more practise

I got this much (91 yards) of the alpaca-mohair-angora plyed.

I was pretty happy with it but it was a tad overspun I think. Came out to worsted weight which is what I wanted. So two points for me there.

But I had a bit left on one of the bobbins so I decided that rather than try to split it in two and possibly screw up the single by winding off onto another bobbin that I could probably just Navajo ply it.

This is what I got. It's bulky weight, which is fine. But the plying is very uneven which I don't like. I also only have about 29 yards of it.

Anyway, while I originally thought this fiber would be silky enough for next to skin... it does not pass my neck test after being spun. But it's not so bad that it bothers my shins or forearms... I'm thinking mittens.

Yes, I'm seriously thinking mittens.
And I could use the bulky bit for a little decorative textile change at the cuff. But will I have enough to make two mittens or do I need to order more?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Will it be lace weight or fingerling?

Here is a picture of the roving and spinning I'm doing on a drop spindle. I have two spindles worth of this stuff waiting to be plied. I'm hoping to do a three ply by using the spinning wheel.

This roving is a blend of black and white merino roving from Sheep's Shed Studio mixed with some purple and pink mohair.

I had the notion of making a three ply for socks. I have a feeling even at three ply it will be too fine and may end up in a lace project instead.

I must say that the addition of the mohair makes this much easier to spin even though I have gotten a couple of strange "bumps" of purple that didn't blend in perfectly (sort of like purple feathers sticking out here and there). I can see why the addition of mohair to a sock yarn blend would add strength to the product.

It's also amazing to me how FAR it went! The resulting color with the little pink highlights delights me no end.

The batt spinning

I got a new camera! My son went with me and helped me find the right one. Had we lived closer to the store (a two hour drive) the store was ready to hire him because he did such a good job of listening to me and helping me (and the salesman) find what I needed. Unfortunately, he doesn't drive yet. Perhaps I will become brave enough to start teaching him this summer.
In any case, here are pictures I took yesterday of work in progress.This is some of the grey batt from the folks from whom I bought that wonderful fawn colored alpaca roving. This batt is a blend of alpaca and angora and a bit of wool.

This picture shows the luster of the fiber better even though it's slightly out of focus.

This came from a large batt -- about 2 feet wide and 3 foot or more long. I divided the batt in half (one half for each bobbin), then I just broke it into pieces about six inches wide and started spinning. It is very silky feeling. I'm just hoping I didn't over spin it.

The next step is plying it.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I ripped it out!

Remember when I started the green sweater. Yeah, it was a while ago. I still consider myself a really slow knitter but I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not that I'm slow, I'm just easily distracted.

I just heard from my friend "T" and she timed herself knitting socks. She is finishing an inch an hour! So if your average sized sock is 17 inches from top to toe, it takes her 17 hours to knit one sock. I'm probably knitting about the same speed on socks. The problem is that I never MAKE a whole hour or several hours together to knit. I might grab 15 minutes at lunch. I may knit while looking at my emails at home in the morning (obviously moving along a bit slower, since I have to stop from time to time to work the mouse). In the evenings lately I'm just too tired to focus on following a pattern.

Now, back to the ripped out sweater.

I apparently don't do gauge stuff very well well. I could have sworn I had gauge, but when we traveled to West Virginia at the beginning of February, the sweater was just at the waist line point. I was doing the ribbing on the back. I held it up to my ass and waist and realized finally (without denial this time) that I was something like 3 inches short of making this thing fit my body (around, not in length). I held it up to my friend Paige, who is smaller than I but it was too small for her, too.

Then her very slim (model slim) college-student daughter floated past and I slapped it up against her ass. It fit. Perfectly. I suggested at that point that the sweater might have to be for her.

But here it is March and I had tacked on several more inches to the thing, made a mistake and ignored it and kept knitting. But I'm discouraged. I want a sweater to fit me. I have enough yarn (I bought more than my original calculations called for because my mom (the master knitter) told me to.) She's brilliant, my mom, is.

So this morning, I remeasured my gauge.

On 4.5 needles with Wool of the Andes yarn from KnitPicks I am getting 5.25 stitches per inch and 7 rows an inch. Before I thought about it too long, I ripped out the whole thing. I balled up the yarn (loosely, so it doesn't loose it's elasticity). And I got out the Knitting Without Tears book by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I looked for ideas in Big Girl Knits by Jillian Moreno and Amy R. Singer.

I like the fabric I was getting at that gauge with this yarn and those needles. I'm going to start over and use a different pattern. One made to measure for ME! And I think I'm going to knit it in the round.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Normal People

I'm not all together sure why this week seemed so difficult to me. It may be because everyone in the office was feeling the same sort of stress. Yesterday, we actually all stood in the hallway at 11:30 in the morning eating Rocky Road Ice Cream because we needed something nice in our life just that minute. It had been that kind of week. While not all of our offender clients are messing up, a significant number are. In one week, we have had to put 4 in jail from our office.

Some probation officers might scoff at this, for I'm sure there are other offices where the rules are stricter and every week is like this one. Of the four that went to jail, two were mine. I also put four more into drug treatment. That means there were probably 20 who were directed into drug treatment this week by our office.

But I think the thing that has made me tired, were those 30 or so (from a caseload which is now thankfully down to 130 -- due to "graduation" or transfer -- even in jail they are still mine until convicted) who could not seem to show up when scheduled. They just popped in whenever they felt like it. This means I ended up changing my plans for work for the week. I didn't get done the reports that I wanted to get done and off my desk and returned to the court as planned. And I'm think I'm tired because I had to expend too much energy reprimanding people who did stupid things like move without reporting, change jobs without reporting, getting a traffic ticket and not telling me for a month (even though they are supposed to report tickets or arrests and job and home changes within 72 hours).

I must also now find time early next week to sit down and write and mail off the Major Violation Reports that I must file with the Commonwealth's Attorney and the Courts on the people on my caseload who were put into jail this week.

And as of 5 p.m. Friday, I have finally accepted that I have one man who is has chosen to completely ignore his supervision rules and will have to be arrested by the police/deputies in the field next week if they can find him.

Probation and Parole Supervision Rules is not designed to be hard. Normal, law-abiding people actually follow all the rules of probation/parole every day of their lives without another person supervising them.

  • They obey laws.
  • If they get a ticket, they pay it promptly (and report it to their boss or insurance company or spouse within a couple of days).
  • If they move, they plan for it and make arrangements so people know where they went (like credit card companies, mail delivery people, their spouse, their parents, etc.).
  • If they change jobs or get promotions, layoffs or demotions, they let people know and in most cases, plan for it if they have control or warning of it coming.
  • If they are getting treatment for something serious, they show up for their appointments (appointments for probationers with their officers or substance abuse counselors are like doctor appointments for we aim to fix what is wrong (i.e. criminal thinking behaviors).)
  • Normal people don't use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs
  • Normal people don't drink to a point that it interferes with their ability to function at work or school or in their own homes and they don't drink or do drugs in public.
  • Normal folks may own a gun to hunt with. But they don't have need of one otherwise. Felons just have to accept that they can't have one unless the Governor of Virginia decides they have been completely restored to sanity and provides for restoration of their rights.
  • Finally, normal people don't disappear off the face of the planet even when they mess up in one of the areas above. They face up to their errors and accept the consequences. In my world, people who run from their responsibilities are known as "absconders."
While a person is under probation/parole supervision their probation/parole officer must be considered almost a member of the family (not a loved one, perhaps, but a close one) and they must be "kept in the loop" on everything that happens.

My successful clients involve me in their struggles and their successes and I worry about them and celebrate as well. Successful clients talk to me a lot on the phone. They show up five minutes early for appointments and appear for all of them. They pay their fines, fees and restitution every month... even if all they can afford is $5.00. They stay clean and sober. They find a job -- any job -- and get on the books and pay their taxes and look for better jobs but don't quit until they have a better one. They plan their lives. They are honest with the people in their life. They show up for work every day as expected and provide an honest day's work. Most importantly, they know they are fighting a war inside of themselves that is screaming for them to return to their old way of thinking and they just keep shutting it down because they know it is just insanity. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And they know in their heart that this time, it's not a train.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Owl Lace

I started this lace scarf months and months ago. I'm now halfway through.

I decided I needed some motivation to continue because sometimes, as other lace knitters have noted, it just seems like a blob and you wonder if you are doing it right and if the effort is really worth it.

So I laid two handkerchiefs on the back cushion of one of our family room chairs and then pinned out the scarf still on the needles.


Can you see the owl faces?

Yes, this is the Tiger Eye Pattern, but to me it looks like owl faces.

I decided to take a washcloth, dip in hot water and blot the scarf the way it is and let it dry. If it stays even halfway blocked out while I knit the rest of it, I'll be very happy as it will keep me motivated to keep going.

I do have some boo-boos, but since this scarf is for me, I'm not worried about it. No one but me (and another lace knitter) will notice.

This is very cool the way the blocking just transforms the lace knitting!