Monday, April 28, 2008


I have a serious, serious gauge issue. I cannot ever get gauge. I must be a sloppy swatcher or something.

I just washed and dried the back of my Green Tea Raglan, and my gauge is totally off. I'm getting 26 rows per 4 inches, instead of the required 28, and that's having gone down two needle sizes from what's suggested. I think I'm going to have to frog the whole thing, because it's definitely going to be too big, and I think this pattern will just look sloppy unless it's pretty form-fitting. It's sad, too, because all that seed stitch looks so pretty.

I'm off to swatch on size 4 needles. Aaargggh!

In the meantime, I think I'm going to knit a baby Jayne hat to be auctioned off at Can't Stop the Serenity. I figure everyone else will be making grown-up Jayne hats, and maybe there will be a market for the tiny ones for tiny, newborn Browncoats. Also, I think I need to knit something really quick and easy to overcome my frustration at screwing up my second sweater.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I have nothing to say

The good news is that I'm back from D.C. in one piece. The bad news is that I am not feeling particularly witty or articulate at the moment. I think I have blogger's block. I have nothing at all to write about. I'm still working on my Green Tea Raglan, but I haven't got around to taking pictures yet. I'm going to wash and dry the back tomorrow to shrink it down to its correct size, and I'll try to take a picture then.

And other than that, I have no news. I mean, I sort of have news. Here are some things that I have considered blogging about:

1. The new Cynthia Rawley "Whim" line of fun summer things at Target is full of adorableness. I bought pretty much the cheapest and not-cutest thing in the whole line, a lunch box for $3, and it was still pretty darn cute. I'm very excited about my lunch box. It's the perfect size to put a sandwich in to avoid the dreaded sandwich squishage problem. Every time I put a sandwich in my bag in the morning, it gets squished by lunch time. I think the whole point of the Whim line is that it's supposed to be goofy, non-utilitarian stuff, but the lunch boxes are actually pretty practical. And the goofy, non-utilitarian items are awesome, too, for those of you who are into that kind of frivolity.

2. As you may be aware, this has been a bad year for terrible mass death in the Chicago metro area. We've had university shootings and Layne Bryant shootings and a whole rash of horrible murders of school kids. And yet none of that has freaked me out as much as a stupid truck smashing itself into the Chinatown El station. Because the thing is, I can't actually picture Northern Illinois University or the Layne Bryant in Tinley Park (and in fact I have no idea where Tinley Park is), but that El station is totally part of my mental landscape. And apparently, that makes mass death much freakier.

3. It appears that pretty much everyone in my family, or at least every female member of my family, is obsessed with the terrible teensploitation show Gossip Girl. How could it be that a show could have such terrible ratings, and yet everyone I know could watch it? It may be that the audience of Gossip Girl is comprised entirely off people whom I know personally. And that's kind of weird, because I don't actually know any high school-aged girls at the moment.

4. I'm trying very hard to get into Battlestar Gallactica at the moment. I really should love Battlestar Gallactica. It has all sorts of things that should make one love it: its very thoughtful and deep and I'm nearly certain that the people who make it share my basic politics. And yet I'm not sure that I do love it. I think I might prefer Gossip Girl I'm going to reserve judgment until I've finished the first season.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seed stitch is pretty

That's the conclusion that I've come to while working on my Green Tea Raglan. It's also much less of a pain in the ass now that I'm a continental knitter. I would post a picture, but my camera's batteries are dead.

That will clearly have to be rectified immediately, because tomorrow morning I leave for NY and D.C., where I will be doing research, celebrating Passover, and ogling my adorable nephew. The camera is necessary for the adorable nephew, but not for the research, since they don't allow cameras at most of my archives. Sadly, there will be no nephew pictures, because I'd have to ask my brother and sister-in-law, and that would entail telling them about this blog, and I'm not sure that's such a good idea. They already think I'm enough of a freak as it is.

For knitting, I am bringing my sweater and the Hedera socks that I abandoned sometime around New Year's. They're really close to done, and I need to bite the bullet and finish them. I've also packed the weird Kaffe Fassett variegated sock yarn that I purchased in December for some inexplicable reason and have since not been able to figure out what to do with. Hopefully a change of scenery will give me some inspiration. There should be lots of time for knitting, because the plan is to drive down to D.C. with the aforementioned brother, sister-in-law and adorable nephew, and then drive back up to NY. Plus, it's anyone's guess whether my plane will actually get out tomorrow. I may be sitting around Midway for a long time.

So anyway, I don't know how much blogging will be going on. It depends entirely on whether my parents' neighbors have wised up and password protected their WiFi.

Musings on being a real knitter

So I just heard on the news that people who do at least 20 minutes of housework a week are happier than those who don't. Which leads me to the question: is it possible to exist without doing 20 minutes of housework a week? I mean, obviously some people are physically incapacitated and can't do any housework at all, but other than that? That's less than three and a half minutes a day. Even if you hire someone to do your actual cleaning, or even if you just live in a dirty home, wouldn't you spend twenty minutes a week just doing the dishes? Even if you had a dishwasher, I imagine that loading and unloading it would take more than 20 minutes a week. And what about preparing meals? It's got to take more than three and a half minutes to take things out of take-out containers and put them on plates. Taking out the garbage?

Newsflash: people who get out of bed every day are happier than those who don't. Update at 10.

But that's not what I'm writing about. I am writing, again, about my second sweater. I casted on my green tea raglan, and I'm off and running. As I said earlier, this is my second attempt to do this sweater. I first tried it a little over a year ago and gave up after one sleeve and half of the back. And doing it a second time has made me realize how far I have progressed as a knitter. The pattern actually isn't very specific: for instance, it says "decrease one stitch on both sides every tenth row," but it doesn't specifically tell you how to do that. The last time I attempted the sweater, the only decrease I knew was knit two together, so I didn't realize that I should do SSK on one side to mirror the K2T decrease. I just K2T on both sides. I didn't know I should do the decreases one stitch in from the edge, to leave a nice selvage. I don't think I knew what selvage was. At that point, the only cast-on I could do was long tail. Now, I can do long-tail, cable, knit on, backwards loop, tubular, provisional, and figure 8.

I'm not much of a knitter. Perusing Ravelry, it's clear that there are a lot of people who are vastly more technically proficient and more creative than I am. But I realize that I do feel like a real knitter. I don't know when this happened! Is it something that magically occurs around about the time when you finish your first sweater?

Now I want to know how long it will be before I stop being intimidated by LYSs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Awesome stuff

  1. I complain a lot about this university and especially about the undergrads. But every once in a while they do something so endearingly geeky that you have to love them. Here is an article about a new fund that has been set up to give money to student initiatives.

    The Zombie Readiness Task Force was granted $5,540 to bring Max Brooks, the author of The Zombie Survival Guide, to campus to deliver a speech on how to survive zombie attacks. Because the group was denied RSO status last spring, the Task Force is not eligible for SG funding this year. Second-year Justin Hartmann, co-founder of the Task Force, said receiving UnCommon funding was crucial to the group’s development and growth....
    “While discussions on the quad about Kant and Marx are great, every now and then we need a little change of pace. Last year’s grant money went to a lecture by James Carville, which, while ever so academic, hardly provided a break from strenuous academic life. Max Brooks is a wonderful speaker and can help stressed U of C students remember the important things in life, like protecting ourselves from the undead,” he said.
  2. Yesterday I learned from Knitting Daily that silk is hardened worm pee.
  3. Google maps has a nifty little thing that will find the best public transit route for you. For Chicagoans, this is basically the same idea as the RTA trip finder, but it has some nifty features. You can look at a street level view, which is helpful if you have to get off a bus in a strange place, and they compare the price of your public transit journey to how much it would cost to drive to the same place. This is very good for feeling smug about the fact that you're saving money by taking the bus.
  4. My Comfy rocks. Having swatched it, I'm back to thinking I'm going to knit the Green Tea Raglan with it. It just seems like a good match.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Comfy Has Landed

My Knitpicks order just arrived, and with it the yarn for my second sweater. Exciting! Is it just me, or has Knitpicks' shipping gotten faster? I ordered Comfy, their new cotton/acrylic blend, in blackberry. Here's the best photo I could take. It's a very dark purple. It's so dark, in fact, that it appears almost black in certain lights. I like it. I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to do with it, but I'm going to swatch it tonight.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I have actually finished the Article of Doom, so I spent today doing things like attending to the sink full of dirty dishes and procuring actual food with actual nutritional value. But I'm still pondering the second sweater. I think I'm going to put these cables on a modified Central Park Hoodie:

That's not my swatch. Actually, someone won a contest with that swatch, and it's easy to see why. It's awesome, which is why I'm going to try to copy it. The central six-stranded cable is a Saxon Braid, and it's not hard to find charts for it. I originally fell in love with it when I checked Barbara Walker's third treasury out from the library, and there are versions of it floating around the internet. But I haven't been able to find a chart for the four-stranded cable, so tonight I decided to try to work it out for myself. Boy, did that not work. I realize that I actually don't totally understand how cables work. I have only done really simple cables, with no purl stitches in between the knit bits. I haven't entirely internalized how you make the cable turn, rather than cross another strand of the cable. I understand it in theory: it's the same as crossing a strand, except that you cross a purl stitch rather than a knit one. But I still can't quite wrap my head around it enough to figure out how to make it work. I think I'm going to try to swatch up the Saxon Braid and see if that makes things clearer for me.

This may all be overly ambitious. It's possible that I should make a bunch of Saxon Braid dishcloths before I attempt a complicated cable on a sweater. I will report back on this after I have attempted to do a swatch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Further thoughts on the second sweater

Ok, so here's what I think I'm going to do for my second sweater.

I think I'm going to do another Central Park Hoodie. I like the idea of being able to look at a version of the sweater while I try to map out modifications, and I think that the CPH would work well in the Comfy that I have just ordered from Knit Picks.

I am going to knit the thing in one piece, and I'm going to try to do EZ's fake seams, to give the sweater structure. I'm going to do a 32 inch back and a 36 inch front, in an attempt to make the sweater fit better. I'm also going to add some waist shaping. I'm going to shorten the sleeves a bit more than I did this time, because even though I took three inches off of the finished product, they were still too long. And I'm going to substitute more-awesome cables for the simple ones in the standard CPH. I think I am going to do Barbara Walker's Saxon Braid for the double cables up the back and the sleeves. For the smaller cables, I might try to unvent the braided rib cable here.

I can't decide whether I'm going to do the hood or not, but I don't have to decide that right away.

The CPH is the single most popular cardigan pattern on Ravelry, and I feel like I should choose something more interesting and creative. But I don't think I'm going to. I think I'm going to be boring. The pattern is popular for a reason.