Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Log Jam

Right now I have a log jam in my head. I’m seeing designs that I just can’t translate to make the fabric. I’m seeing some socks and lace but when I put them to my needles, it isn’t working. I either hate the yarn I thought would be perfect for the design or I can’t execute the design. I started on a lace and cable sock, the yarn was obscuring all the lacework. I was using Tofusies but a solid color, well really a marl and it just didn’t show. I have a shawl swirling in my head but I don’t seem to be able to get it down on paper, let alone knit it. It’s all crammed in my brain without a proper outlet. I have my little idea book that I keep with me, but I’m a lousy artist. I tend to make geometric shapes when left to my own devices. They should translate nicely to lace patterns but it’s not happening. I feel perplexed by the whole thing. I’ve not has a problem with sweater design. That always seems to work itself out of my brain and into fabric. The problem there is I don’t know how to grade a sweater up or down to get a pattern that usuable for others I have lots of patterns for a 45 in D to DD cup, that is a 50-51 in chest with bust shaping that I can put out for use. If you aren’t that I could write it to your exact measurements but not to a typical 38 inch bust measurement because there is no “typical” person out there to measure. That’s where a knowledge of pattern grading comes in. While we probably can all add an inch or three to a bust, how much do you add for an arm circumference, or a shoulder or armhole depth to get the next three sizes? I imagine that’s why someone who can grade a pattern is so valuable on Seventh Ave. Pattern graders and pattern cutters are the highest paid employees in the garment trade for the most part. They can affect profits by how well they know their materials and the design. It has to fit the majority of people in that size range but not have too much ease and waste. I have been buying books on the subject. It’s quite an exercise in special geometry.

I believe that women look better in clothes that have some structure. Drop shoulder designs are a friend to very few. They are easily designed but look extremely sloppy. People like me who don’t have a strong shoulder line look awful in them. I sometimes can get away with a modified drop shoulder, but only on casual clothes. I look best in a set in sleeve with a saddle shoulder as a second best look. I can wear a raglan sometimes, but I have a bit of a sloped shoulder, so it isn’t my best look. So if I go for my best look, it usually means seams and finishing work which many people hate to do. I think it’s because they don’t get taught the different ways to finish an item early on. So they develop the ideathat finishing is hard to do. It isn’t any harder to do than learning how to knit is. It’s just a matter of learning the different ways to sew up the ieces ans which are the most appropriate for the particular seam. Matress stitch is the most popular for sewing long side and sleeve seams. It leaves an almost invisible seam from the public side of the garment. However,a backstitch can be used for a side seam successfully. Backstitch is commonly used for shoulders seams although short rows and a three needle bind off are becoming more popular. Some clain that this does not make a stable seam like sewing does while others claim just the opposite. I think this may be a directional thing. If you bind off towards the shoulder , the seam may stretch that way. If you bind off towards the neck, it may not stretch as much. Do I have proof? No, it’s just a conjecture based on the anatomy of a stitch in the bindoff.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Boys of Spring, Summer and Fall

Today is opening day for baseball. If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know I’m a rabid Yankee fan and a fan of baseball in general. So having to work today is killing me, especially after not working for 5 years. In that time I have watched every Yankee opening day with my father or Robert. And for the last 2 years, it hits me that both of them are gone. Watching and going to baseball games was one of the daddy-daughter things my father and I did. We continued to do that until his death. Robert watched and/or played almost every sport there is. Hockey and baseball were his favorites. He was finally the person who got me watching hockey and understanding most of what went on in a game. I still think some of the rules of hockey are dumb, like icing. After all it is played on ice, why call it icing and not off-sides like they do in other sports.

I will say that while I’m meeting some very nice people at work, it really cuts into the time I have for my other interests. I’m not knitting up a storm like I did before, and my reading time is cut way short. My internet trolling is down as is the time I spend on Ravelry and Yahoo groups. I feel disconnected from the people who helped me get through some tough times. I try my best to keep up, but there is only just so much time in the evenings. I haven’t been able to teat knit as much as I want. I’m not talking about paid test knitting, but the things I do for MMario and some people on Ravelry. But the job I have is pretty cool. I like it a lot. And it helps people eventually get the medicines they need for a better life.

I joined Sock Madness on Ravelry this year. For those of you not on Ravelry (why aren’t you??) or just haven’t been swept up by it, it’s a competitive knitting contest. The first round, everyone who joins is given a relatively easy sock pattern and 2 weeks to make a pair of socks with at least a 7 inch foot (before the toe). Those who complete the socks in that time frame go through to the next round. I made it through with about 4 hours to spare. I know, me who boasts of being a fast knitter, took the whole 2 weeks! Well, that was because I signed up late and didn’t check to see if I got in right away. When I did check and saw that I was in the competition, a week had past. Actually 9 days had past. So I was left with 5 days to get yarn and make a pair of striped, offsetting ribbed socks. Not totally mindless because the ribbing was offset for each stripe, but not overly hard. I made these which I need to undo the toe and shorten the foot. I did not get row gauge even though I got stitch gauge. So they came out big. And they are reverse twins, which is different for me. I only was able to snag 1 skein each color of Wild Foote for the pair and knew I didn’t have enough of the light yellow to make a matching pair. I was surprised I liked them when I finished. That not me, I like matchy-matchy socks. But I’m keeping these the way they are and not hunting for more yellow Wild Foote. I was better prepared for the second sock challenge. This one was a combo brioche / slip stitch pattern. The suggested yarn was either variegated or semi-solid, although almost anything has looked good in this sock. The pattern stitch of one brioche knot surrounded by two slipped stitches and a purl between the slipped stitches breaks up the pooling that may occur with variegated or hand painted sock yarns. Not that pooling is bad, just sometimes it’s not wanted. This pattern wasn’t hard but seemed awfully slow. Even the fast Scandinavian knitters were slow with this sock. It took the fastest person about 30% more time to do this pair, 17 hours versus 13 for the first pair. I think I had about 20-22 hours of knitting in this pair and was in the first 10 finishers in my group. This time, the group was broken into 4 teams of 48 people. The first 37 knitters for each group will go onto round 3. So I’m through to round three and waiting for the rest of the field to finish. I’m in the slow and/or newbie group. The groups are broken down by experience and speed. I think I would have made it through even on the fastest team, but definitely would not have been in the first 10 there. I’ve been using the time in-between rounds to finish up a few WIPs and rip out the sweaters that don’t fit anymore. I’m back working on the beaded border of my Samhain shawl. I think that was Renee’s Mystery 14 shawl. She’s up to 22(?) now. I think I started the shawl in the fall of 2008. I kept up with the knit along until the last clue. I got the end of the shawl done in fine time, even with all the beading. But the edging has been my bane. There are three beads to every four rows of the edge and that slows me down to the extreme. I never seem to be able to get a rhythm going when I have to bead. I’m using a lace weight yarn from Zen Yarn Gardens and placing the beads on by the crochet hook method. The yarn is a bit too fragile to string the beads on and then pull up one where it’s needed. Plus it wouldn’t sit as the designer intended if I beaded it that way. So I’m just plugging along. There are 48 repeats of the edge pattern on this shawl and I have about 30 done. The end is in sight but not that close. Finishing or frogging this shawl was something I wanted to accomplish this year. I really want that set of Addi Lace needles available for something else, even though I treated myself to a set of Addi Lace Clicks (their interchangeable) while at Stitches last October. I also got a set of the KA interchangeable bamboo needles. They go down to a size 1 US (2.25 mm). And they have the 1.5 and 2.5 US tips available. I used the 1’s on the first sock of Sock Madness and have put a slight bend into the tips. But that always happens to my 2.0 and 2.25 bamboo double points so I really didn’t expect anything different from the KA’s. What has surprised me is how well the tips stay on despite them being screw on tips. I have used the Boye interchangeable set and the tips are always loosening while I knit. I think it has to do with my actions knitting continental. So far, I did one pair of socks and started a second with them loosening only once on the second set. And I didn’t use any grip aids to tighten them, just did it by hand. The loosening of the Boye needles discouraged me from the Knit Picks interchangeable set along with some other things. I figure if they have what appears to be a lot of people calling about broken tips and joins, they must have a quality issue. I don’t care how inexpensive they are, if they are going to break a lot I don’t want to invest in them. I’d rather save up for the Addi’s or Dykraft’s wood interchangeable. They have gotten good reviews and appear to have good quality for the money. Even the Denise plastic needles don’t seem to have the issues that Knit Picks have. I just occasionally spray mine with Armor All and wipe them off. It helps with keeping the finish a bit slicker. I also do the cords. The silicone seems to help.  I learned that trick when I was making a market bag with that Jelly yarn.  Plastic on plastic is not a good thing.  The silicon spray helped the crocheting go, not go faster, just go. 

It's getting time for me to go to the game with my nephew.  And I've been pretty chatty, so I'll say so long and see ya for now.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A New Year

It’s been a long time since I last blogged. There’s been too much going to and fro to sit down and take stock. But I should try to catch you up with all that’s going on, especially since I am going back to work on next Monday. I will be a contractor for Pfizer in their regulatory department. I will be writing submissions for re-registering the Wyeth products under the Pfizer name. I can write like a lawyer and summarize things very well. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately for you, I don’t use that skill here. Ii figure you want all the messy juicy language

I last left you with my Rhinebeck experience. I then went to Stitches East with two knitting friends, Cindy and Cheryl. They are part of the group that gets together at my LYS (well the one I frequent the most) for open knitting. We didn’t have classes together but it was nice to have someone to have meals with as we were staying in the same hotel. I then went on from Hartford to Cape Cod to see my high school boyfriend. I was nervous seeing him again after 42 years. Funny thing, I recognized him right away. I’m not sure what he thought since I’m twice the size I was in high school. But he was too much of a gentleman to say anything. He did try to start up where we had left things but I’m a bit too old for making out now. And I’m still not ready for someone to replace Robert. I’d like to have a companion for my old age, but … We did catch up and do talk every now and then. I’m glad I got back in touch with him and the old college boyfriend/fiancée. I found that one is still the nice guy I remembered and the other is still the adolescent, head turned by big boobs and accessibility. I’m no slouch in the boob area, been a D or E cup since 30. But I wasn’t always around so he went for the closest thing around. And unfortunately for him, he’s still in that mode so he’s had three wives and is probably married to #4. And he’s married the same type every time, insecure, jealous and looking for a pay day. I wanted to send a wedding gift to his fiancée and she questioned the hell out of me. I explained I had no interest other than friendship with him and that it was just a gift to wish them happiness in their life together. She turned all belle (a NC native) and turned the gift down. I’m not sure who did it, but I was un-friended on Facebook which really pissed me off. He claimed it was a problem with his computer, but Facebook doesn’t just drop one person as a friend and not everyone else. And even if it did, he didn’t do anything to remedy the problem and re-friend me. So I found out that he is still the stupid jerk he was 37 years ago when we broke up.

I have been having a hard time with transferring programs from my old computer to this new one. The one I’m really having a problem with is the Intertwined charting program. So either I am going to spend the big bucks and get Knit or Stitch Illustrator and Photoshop or re-purchase the Intertwined program. Or figure out how to make Excel work the way I want for charts. I do like charts but also want to give written directions for my stuff. And that ain’t happening with some kind of program. I hope Photoshop is somewhat intuitive and that I’ll be able to use it. I’ve heard it can be hard, but that was a while back.

I must confess I did not submit my design for the Vogue contest. I procrastinated a bit and then kept changing the design to the point that there was no time left. I am still working on it for myself and hope to have it done in February to show off.

Next time I’ll talk about Vogue Knitting Live! And all the classes I took there and the knitteratti I saw and talked to. There were some biggies. Bye and happy knitting!