Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Piano Tuning and Scrolls

Filed under: Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 5:25 pm on Friday, April 25, 2008

Just a quicky today. I made a fair bit of progress on the latest sock last night at Panera.

SF:P4 A Pattern Forms

As you can see, this is not my usual, plain vanilla, K2P2 ribbed sock. I decided it was time to branch out, and that the color patterning of this yarn, though bright, could support the right stitch pattern. This is an 8-stitch pattern called “Scrolls”, as found in the book More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Since the colors of the yarn itself made a strong horizontal element, I knew that any stitch pattern with a strong vertical look would fight that. I rejected a lot of patterns that I liked, but that were very vertical in their overall appearance. Scrolls wasn’t as horizontal as I hoped for, but I considered it to be relatively neutral in orientation – almost like a curvy checkerboard, rather than either vertical or horizontal lines.

Drop By Friends

The other event of note last night was that we had a travelling knitter drop in and join us! Dorrie (I have no idea if that’s how her name is spelled – my apologies if I got it wrong!) is in town this weekend for, as she described it, a piano tuners’ conference. We had a fascinating talk about what she does for a living, and I learned a lot. I’ve never had much involvement with making music, so I had no idea – though it makes complete sense – that piano tuners needed to attend such conferences on a regular basis as ongoing education, to hone, improve, and maintain their skills. Thank you so much, Dorrie, for joining us, and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

Puttering Around

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 3:41 pm on Thursday, March 8, 2007

That’s what I did Wednesday. Not a day of hours spent focused on one project, but rather a day of an hour here, an hour there. It served to pass the time, though, and a couple of neglected projects got attention.

First up was the Carnival Glass Shawl. When last we saw this, I had four rows of the border left to knit. Wednesday, I got through those rows, then after much reading and re-reading of the edging instructions (they could seriously do with a re-write), I began knitting that.

Thankfully, the edging chart appears to be accurate. I managed to get through almost four repeats with little fuss.

WIP: Carnival Glass Shawl, Edging

Another neglected project is the sorting of the Perler beads. Last weekend, Gryphon and I went to a local party store and picked up a stack of deli containers to store them in. This new arrangement actually is making it easier to do the sorting.

Perler Sorting

What you see above is not ten deli containers of beads – it’s ten stacks of deli containers. Each stack contains a color group. For instance, the one at the bottom right is all the different shades of yellow, each in its own container, but stacked to save space.

Now, it’s easy for me to take a scoop of beads and spread them on a tray. Then one by one I go through the stacks of containers, picking each color from the tray as I go. If I have any colors on the tray when I’m done, then I know I found a new color. It gets its own container and is added to the correct color stack for the next go ’round.

By late evening, the brains I had left were only enough to work on Gryphon’s socks. But you know what? There wasn’t any point in wasting pixels on a picture, because really, it would look the same as yesterday’s photo, only about an inch longer. You’ve got enough imagination to cover that, right?

Puttering Around….er, I mean Knitting Around, at Panera tonight. The socks are the current brainless project, so that’s what I’ll bring to work on. And dinner will be one of the new Crispani pizzas they’re making now – yum!

Unusual Incentives to Take a Job

Filed under: Holidays,Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 1:37 pm on Friday, December 1, 2006

We turned over the scarves to the manager at Panera last night. The event was somewhat anti-climatic, but I think that could be expected. The logistics of giving scarves to every member of the staff while they’re working the counters and kitchen on a busy night at a restaurant demand that most of the actual receiving action happens while we, the givers, are not actually there to see.

The manager seemed impressed, and a little overwhelmed. But he accepted the basket and the card graciously, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it all from the staff over the next few weeks.

The funniest part of the event came while I was explaining to the manager what we’d done, and why. A woman at a nearby booth overheard us (actually, several nearby booths and tables were clearly listening in), and when she realized what was happening, she lunged to lean over the back of the couch and address the manager. “Excuse me, but please…PLEASE! Give me a job. Will you, please?!?! I want that purple scarf!” she said, pointing at a scarf on the top layer of the basket.

I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend of working on the Christmas Knitting, so I hope you can expect a really good update on Monday. Have a great weekend yourselves, and I’ll see you then!

WTF Wednesday – Tell Me To My Face

Filed under: Knitting Groups — folkcat at 11:38 am on Wednesday, October 4, 2006

How would you like it if you found out you’d been behaving in a way that annoyed people for months on end, but no one ever had the courtesy or courage to tell you to your face?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I felt pretty hurt and insulted.

Further, the only way I ever found out was through an e-mail to the entire group that didn’t name names, but which carefully pointed out that certain things had been going on that bothered people and were even keeping some new people from sticking around, and which re-affirmed the policies and conditions of the group to assure that everyone knew what was appropriate behavior.

They may have thought they were being kinder by not being directly confrontational. But I’m not blind, and I’m not stupid. I know what goes on at the group in question, and I know exactly who they were talking about – me. No one else is ever as outgoing and energetic at the meetings as I am.

In addition, some of the behaviors that were listed as proscribed were, in fact, only engaged in after receiving specific permission from the group’s leaders. Which just hurt all the more, since blame was now being passed out for actions that were not done on a whim. In fact, one of the behaviors called out was something that I resisted doing because I didn’t feel it would be acceptable, and one of the group leaders encouraged me to do it anyway.

So, I’m feeling pretty pissed about this particular group right now. It’s the one I’ve been going to for the longest time, and they’re all good people. But obviously, the group leaders, nice as they are, haven’t been enforcing the policies and conditions of the group as required by the venue.

Since I’ve now added a twice-a-month spinning group into my schedule, something on the calendar has to budge. I’ll be dropping this monthly knitting group for the foreseeable future.

And for future reference, please – if you have any issues with me, just tell me. I would rather know sooner than later, and I hate being made to feel a fool by finding out so long after the fact.

Edited later to add: I have had a very kind and gentle response to this issue from one of the appointed leaders of the group in question. My concerns are somewhat eased, as are my feelings. It seems that the bad handling of this is more on the part of the venue hosting the meetings than anyone else.

I’ll still not be attending this group for a while. It is a fact that my schedule just had two to three more meetings a month added to it, and I think I need to make a point of being home at least a couple of nights a week!

What a Blogger Will Do

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Knitting,Knitting Groups,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 12:34 pm on Friday, September 29, 2006

We had quite the cheerful crowd at Knitting Around at Panera last night! When I walked in with my friend Anne, there were already four happy, chatty knitters sitting by the fire – Bea, Judy, Lucille, and Kathy (all blogless). The needles flew as fast as the conversation, and we had a grand old time!

In Which I Go The Extra Mile For My Readers

Oh, the things a blogger will do just for something different to write about. Yesterday, it was time once again to cast on for socks.

Now mind you, I’ve been perfectly content with my sock knitting technique. I knit one at a time, and I can switch at will between 5 dpns, Magic Loop, and 2 circs. And I’ve never been bothered by the so-called second sock syndrome – I just accept repeating the entire process as a natural part of sock knitting.

So what approach did I take last night as I began a new pair? Well, any of the above would have been boring, because you’ve seen me knit socks in each method before. And there was no novelty factor to be found in either my pattern (my own Barefoot Diva Socks) or the yarn (Knit Picks’ discontinued Essential Stripes in Sunset, which you’ve all seen a million times on many blogs and in the catalog, I’m sure.)

How, then, did I make a new pair of socks worthy of blogging? By teaching myself a new knitting parlor trick!

And so, without further ado, I present to you my first

Two Socks on Two Circulars

Two Socks on Two Circulars
Two, Two, Two Socks in One

Yuppers – last night I bulled my way through the mental gymnastics of figuring out how to get this cast on, and how to manipulate the needles, balls of yarn, and the knitting itself. All so that I would have something new and different to show you.

The things I do for you!

The Truth

Okay, it’s not entirely that I did this for the blog and my readers. I’ve been meaning to try this out anyhow, just to see what the fuss was about. You, my readers, provided a handy excuse for going after it sooner rather than later. Thank you!

What do I think of it? Well, it’s a bit of a trick keeping things straight. I’m working on two 40″ Addi Turbo size 1’s, and while the length has never been an issue when working a single sock on two needles, I’m wondering if shorter cables might simplify the maneuvering as I switch between socks. Still, it’s clearly doable with what I’ve got, so I don’t think I’ll go to the approximately $30 expense that getting two sets with shorter cables would entail.

As a knitter used to whipping out single socks fairly quickly, it is a little discouraging to see what feels like only half the progress for the same amount of knitting time. The mind’s eye has trouble making the leap to realize that the half amount of progress should be multiplied by two for a true measure of accomplishment.

Since I’ve only managed around an inch of each sock so far, I think it’s too early to really pass judgment on the 2 socks/2 circs technique. So I’m going to continue to evaluate this as my work progresses.

Coming soon!

A week from tomorrow (Sat., Oct. 7), I’ll be making the rounds of the 2006 NH Wool Arts Tour. Gryphon will drive, and I’m hoping to bring a couple of my friends along for the adventure. I’ll try to remember to take pictures, but I’ll also be shopping – I’m hoping to come away with one or two nice laceweight spindles.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It Was a Very Good Year

Filed under: Knitting Groups — folkcat at 3:36 pm on Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday night, the Eats, Knits & Leaves knitting group at the Toadstool Bookshop celebrated a belated one-year aniversary. (The actual anniversary was in July, but, well – we lost track.)

Lots of people came, arriving in waves. It took me several pictures to make sure that I got everyone!

Tracy, Nita, Kat, and Bea
L. to R.: Tracy, Nita, Kat, and Bea

Bea, Amy, and Anne
L. to R. Bea, Amy, and Anne

Anne, Beth, Tina, & Patty
L. to R.: Anne, Beth, Tina, and Patty (with the top of Vicky’s head at the front!)

Patty and Vicky
Patty spinning, while Vicky looks on

There was spinning, and knitting, and much chatter about everything under the sun. And there were first anniversary cupcakes and brownies brought by Vicky (sorry I didn’t get pictures, they were cute with little flowers on top and everything!), and even little party gifts for everyone from Patty and Vicky.

Our next meeting will be on Monday, October 9th. This is also Columbus Day, but we’ve decided to get together anyhow. As always, if you’re in the area that evening and would like to join us, drop on in!

Totally Twisted Tuesday

Filed under: Folkcat's Fotos,Knitting Groups,Spinning — folkcat at 1:12 pm on Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First things first – please don’t send me links to photo processing services, even if they’re your own. That is called Spam.

‘Nuff said, right?

Totally Twisted – My Second Spinning FO

I finished plying the pink and yellow yarn yesterday.

Plied Yarn - My Second Spinning FO
2-ply – Sunny and Bright

I found that my spinning of the singles was fairly consistent for thickness. Not so for amount of twist. I need to be much more consistent in how much – and how fast – I spin the spindle as I work. There were a couple of places where a portion of the single was less spun and actually pulled apart as I plied. I “fixed” those by just holding the ends together and continuing to ply along with the unbroken ply. But they shouldn’t have happened at all if my spinning had been consistent in twist to begin with.

Penny Shot
The Obligatory Penny Shot

I also find, as I unwind bits of the 2-ply yarn from the spindle, that I’ve definitely overtwisted the yarn in the plying. The solution to that is going to be, I think, to wind this onto another spindle, letting the twist find its own balance point before wrapping the yarn on the shaft.

WPI
WPI

The Wraps-per-Inch tool shows a number of 13, making this a DK weight yarn. I haven’t decided yet if I’m willing to sacrifice a little of the yarn to the McMorran Yarn Balance to find my yardage. I only have a couple of ounces of this altogether…

Monday Madness

Eats, Knits & Leaves met last night at Toadstool Bookshop, and it was quite a turnout! We celebrated a late anniversary for the group (the real one was in July), and there was cake, and brownies, and lucious teas, and even gifts. I took group photos as always, but there were so many of us I couldn’t get everyone in one picture. I’ll be posting them tomorrow when I can take the proper time to devote to getting people’s names right, and sifting through the images to make sure everyone gets in.

Eats, Knits & Leaves, August Photos!

Filed under: Knitting Groups — folkcat at 2:47 pm on Thursday, August 17, 2006

A small but energetic group of knitters met at the Toadstool Bookshop this month.

Eats, Knits & Leaves, August, 2006
L. to R.: Janice, Bea, Patty, Tina

Left early: Helen. Arrived later: Amy.

I was spinning, and Janice brought along some of her own first handspun to show off, too. Tina and Helen came for help in learning how to knit, which was distributed freely by everyone present – I hope we didn’t overwhelm you! Amy was working on her second pair of socks, and was trying the two circulars method for the first time.

Patty was working on mitten number two of what will be an impressive pair. She’s doing multi-colored knitting, and it looks great!

Patty's Colorful Mitten
One Mitten

She taught herself how to carry strands of yarn on both hands for faster two-color work. Here she has the dark blue on her left hand, and the cream color on her right.

Patty Knits With Two Colors
Ambidextrous Knitting

The next meeting of Eats, Knits & Leaves will be on Monday, September 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Knit Calendar Administrivia

Filed under: Announcements,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 3:13 pm on Monday, August 14, 2006

I’ve removed a couple of listings from the Southern NH Knit Meetings Calendar over on the sidebar. The group still exists and still meets on most of the days listed, but they are no longer meeting at a consistent time and place. Sometimes they’re indoors, sometimes they’re outdoors, and the time of day varies depending on what they’re doing individually that day.

I’ll be glad to accept listings from any groups that would like to be included on the calendar. But I will only list events with consistent, reliable times and locations. It’s not fair for a newbie to see an item on the calendar, only to find that they have to go someplace else to verify at the last minute whether the time and place listed will actually hold or not.

Cool Gatherings, Warm Things, and Inquisitive Ratties

Filed under: Knitting,Knitting Groups,Rats! — folkcat at 12:46 pm on Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Last night was the monthly gathering for Eats, Knits & Leaves at the Toadstool Bookshop. Despite some folks’ fears that summer would be too busy a time for knitters to get together, there was a good crowd in attendance, including a newcomer to the group.

Patty's Baby Blanket
Patty’s Baby Blanket

Patty had this one opportunity to show off the marvelous baby blanket she knit for her niece, before giving it to her in a few short days. Actually, her daughter helped – she knit the red square in the bottom left corner.

I almost forgot to take the group photo for the month, and remembered only as Pat was leaving. So I caught a quick snap of Pat’s back as she headed towards the door!

Pat's Back as She Leaves
Bye-bye, Pat!

And then I turned back to the table to take the more traditional monthly group portrait.

July Eats, Knits & Leaves Knitters
L. to R.: Bea, Anne, Beth, Patty, Amy

Part of the evening’s conversation revolved around speculation about when the Eats, Knits & Leaves one-year anniversary would be. We came to the conclusion it was likely to be next month, but guess what? In reviewing my archives, I find that the first ever meeting was in July 2005! So we missed our chance to celebrate with a birthday cake or something this time. Maybe we can have a belated celebration next month!

What’s Jen Crafting?

Yesterday, the Warm Things project came up in my crafting rotation. Last time around, I had blocked my first Warm Things scarf, and began knitting a second one.

Warm Things WIP - Before
WIP – Warm Things: The Before Photo

The photo above shows how far I got at that time. Given another hour’s worth of knitting you would expect me to be further now than this:

Warm Things WIP - Alison's Scarf
WIP – Warm Things: After

The problem is, shortly after I picked up from where I’d left last time, I found an error in one of the vertical lace bands that I wasn’t able to fix. So I frogged back to the beginning. While I was at it, I decided that the fabric I was getting was too tight and stiff, anyhow – Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight on size 5 needles – and I wanted to knit it with a larger size.

So I cast on again with size 7 needles, and knit away. Until about the third repeat of the pattern, when I looked down and realized that all my cables were crossed the wrong ways. *sigh*

Back to the frog pond I went, and I started again. Dropped stitches during the process of doing the I-cord cast-on, and couldn’t adequately figure out how to pick them up. Frog!

Finally, I got the cast-on right, and made the progress you see above. I like the feeling of the fabric much better on the size 7’s, and the cables and lace still have nice definition. I think it’s going to work this time.

Ratties In the Morning

One of the joys of the Rattie Sisters’ day is when Gryphon and I sit at our chairs in the morning for breakfast. Each of us has an armchair, one on either side of the girls’ cage. Their door opens into a ramp on the arm of my chair to let them come out and crawl around on me. Then there’s an ottoman that serves as a small play area, and also as a bridge between my chair and Gryphon’s.

The process usually involves crawling up my front, around my shoulders, onto the back of my chair to see if they can see out the window, over onto the right arm of my chair to look longingly towards the bag of treats they know is stored up on my side table, over onto the other arm of the chair to look down towards the air cleaner that hums away there, down onto the ottoman, into whatever box we have parked there for their enjoyment, over onto Gryphon’s chair, and then all around his pants pockets, over his front and onto the back of the chair. When they get tired of Gryphon, it’s back to me, perhaps back into the cage for a quick poop and sip of water, then repeat from the beginning.

While they’re visiting Gryphon’s chair, they frequently get involved in what he’s doing. Sable has taken up an interest in the computer.

Sable and Laptop
Can You Please Google Rat Treats For Me?

Star always looks on Gryphon’s side table to see what goodies there might be to steal. Today, she was eyeing his coffee longingly. (No worries, the Ratties aren’t allowed coffee!)

Star and Coffee
How Can I Get a Morning Pick-Me-Up if I Can’t Pick It Up?

And no, Gryphon’s coffee mug hasn’t sprouted ears. It’s just serendipitously been parked precisely in front of a Pikachu stuffed toy we got at a yard sale!

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