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.

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