Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Photography frustration

I'm ALWAYS amazed and a bit frustrated (however, frustration is probably a strongly inaccurate description--I've been watching "Cosmos" so let's get real here...) when I try to share photos of my knitting.  The colors are never true, and here's an excellent example:  The color of the yarn is dusty/old rose, a delicate pale pink.  My first shot was on the counter with a fluorescent light overhead, and morning sunshine.  The second is sunlight through the window. And the third is at the window but from a 90º angle to number two.  None of them do it justice...

So I tried other backgrounds, with the same strange results. 
The next two are on a pale lavender blocking pad.  
Sunlight light through the window:
Fluorescent light: (The background changes, too.)

 Then on an off-white linen towel, fluorescent light:
 At the window:

Don't believe anything you see!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Those Ivories. Non-knitting Post

Warning:  This post has no pretty pictures of yarn, and is totally self-involved b.s. reflections.

Though I rarely mention it, ivories (piano keys) and ebonies (organ keys) are as intertwined in my life as eating, sleeping, knitting, relationships, and bodily functions.
Does one retire from such activity?   I suppose one does if something physical happens to prevent the movement of fingers. But now I'm not sure.  In the past few years, I've noticed my little fingers, and they seem to be my main topic when I address playing issues.  I feel like they don't want to take part anymore.  But, I drag them along, and recruit their services.  Just like any repetitive activity, I don't think too much about the mechanics of it, just the surprise factor when something doesn't turn out as expected.
What have I learned in 60 years?  From sitting on a bench in front of 88 keys, I've learned to relate a diagram (printed music) to my movements on the keyboard.  And out comes sounds that are pleasant. Mostly!  That's where the little fingers literally fall short occasionally, and the sounds are not there or (cringe) unpleasant.   I've learned to expect more from my fingers, but nothing is going to bring them back to their former selves.  They are crooked, and one is too flexible, and the other isn't flexible. Even so, the change has been gradual, and my mind and hands have adapted.
For those of you in a similar situation, my only recommendation is focus... Dang, the "f" word again. Focus with help...in the form of the ultimate non-technical tool:  A pencil. Really!  I've found my best weapon against embarrassing goofs is a pencil.  If something goes wrong, and I can locate it, a little/big/dark circle around the problem is my best defense.  There is so much on each page, and my eye needs just that mark to bring focus to something that I need to focus on.
Sounds simple doesn't it?  It is, along with thousands of hours...
So here comes the computation...  Sixty years times 52 weeks = 3120 weeks. Say I have played an average of 2 hours a week over my lifetime... I recall weeks of twenty hours as an accompanist, and weeks of none, so I'm being conservative... And giving myself 6,240 lifetime hours.
There have been services this weekend, shared by ivories and ebonies, and the music goes on. Apprehension always precedes these events...I am my own worst enemy until I start playing!  If my fingers are actively participating, as happens in the days/hours before performance, I feel very insecure.
I wonder what I would be reflecting on if my mommy hadn't decided to take me to piano lessons in September 1954?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ah!! Another HAPPY Birthday.

Another year of knitting ahead... Time to count up:  (Thank you, Ravelry, for keeping tabs on me.)
8 pairs of socks; two on needles now.
18 other projects:  2 little girl pullovers, 1 sweater for me, 1 pullover for Halvard, 1 poncho, 1 vest, 1 shawl, hats, mittens, a necklace....
And how many Ken-Ken's did I complete?  Many hours there, too!
Recently I finished these in (hopefully) a 5 year old size.  They were such fun.  Nice and thick for little feet in water-proof boots.  And they match (kind of) Mommy's socks.  I don't do many socks two-at-a-time because they aren't as portable as one, but this time, without a pattern, I knew they wouldn't be the same if I didn't do them at the same time.
Notice the heel:  I followed Charlene Schurch's toe up pattern which confusingly referred to making the heel upside-down.  It worked, and probably only would bother a knitter.  Anyone else ever try that?

The heel flap is on the bottom of the foot.

In other news, I "fixed" my Dahlia sweater to suit me... Although I was ecstatic that it came off my needles in a shape that I could wear, I grew to regret the ends being too short.  See my Ravelry pictures to describe how it is a rectangle with arms in the middle.  The short ends of the rectangle are bound off;  it is knitted from the center out to the short ends.  Those ends needed a few more inches, and after years of wishing and pulling on them, I unraveled the seed stitch, and voilà!
Hangs nicely.  Hopefully I won't add 4 more inches in a few years... but I'll let you know!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Europa Crescent

Indeed, it doesn't look like much until...
The blocking!  No fibers were touched by an iron.  Just wet blocked with pins at the points.  The inner edge held its own without the help of pinning.  A perfect crescent.
I love the color, the crescent shape (it hugs my shoulders), and it's soft.
The nupps are a disappointment, but I've forgotten the angst they created a few weeks ago... and I forgive them.  They are what they are.  

The pattern: Europa  by Kieran Foley  from knit/lab
The yarn: Angel lace by QuilteHuset Lace / 2 ply 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere, 1312 yards / 100 grams  (Used 49 grams, like spiderweb silk!)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Lesson Learned?

Five years ago I knitted an excruciatingly complex shawl.  "Europa" Crescent...tiny needles, lace weight yarn, nupps, double decreases, you name it... it's all there!  And I loved that shawl... even though I wore it mostly bunched up around my neck under a jacket where the lace features couldn't be appreciated.  And I lost that shawl.  I looked for it at the end of last year just as I wanted to pack it with me to Norway,  and I was SURE it was going to shake out of a sleeve or hanger.  But it hasn't, and I began moping...
No more than two minutes after completing my Mosaic Cardigan I went to my stash, and pulled out some lace weight I've had for YEARS, and I cast on---all 643 stitches for Europa Crescent II.
What have I learned from my past teeth-gnashing?  The cast on has to be loose to get "points".  So I dutifully used two needles, and so far...

looks like it worked.  And don't forget the "lifeline"!
After the pointy section of Chart A, I remembered why there was teeth-gnashing five years ago.  (Remember, Pattie?  I had Europa I on the Pacific Ocean.)  Nemesis chart B:  Nupps.  Since then, I attended a class with Nancy Bush, and she patiently showed us the beauty of nupps, and I swear I paid attention and I don't remember saying to myself that I would never do that again... however, trying to stick my needle through 4 stitches and 3 yarn overs to make one purl stitch umpteen times in the first row, I was having flashbacks of throwing a certain project overboard somewhere near the International Dateline.  
By the time I was halfway through the second row of nupps, I recalled that I had resorted to a tiny crochet hook which would "more successfully" do the trick.  I was still picking up stray loops, and picking up new (to me) vocabulary.  But I persevered until the LAST row of nupps.  
(Aside:  Looking at the above photo, I don't have the capability of putting in a giant ARROW to point to the many nupps...and the thought crossed my mind--WHY was I putting myself through this pain when I really didn't see them?  The truth...I remembered thinking the same thing 5 years ago, and when blocked, I could see them.  I don't know if anyone else could but...)  
So back to the last row of nupps.  Another thought... I wonder if "lace" tip Addis are made just for this type of knitting...?  And I went to my closet, pulled out the lace tip Addis, and... DANG!  It worked.  Now maybe, if I had started with lace tips, I wouldn't have thought of this as such an epiphany, but they sure made my LAST ROW of nupps less painful.  Will I remember?  Will I ever venture into nupp territory again?  I hope I'm quicker to use "the right tool".  Needles: 2.5 mm

Nupp:  Into one stitch k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1.
Next row: Purl all 7 together to make one stitch.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

At Last...

So many people say I knit quickly.  I say I knit a lot!  And the truth is somewhere in between.  However, certain projects just take awhile because I get interested in something else, or another project seems more important, or more suitable to the time of year... At last, I've finished one that has been lingering in a bag, and on the couch, and in view in the living room since last August.
Purchased in September 2012 at the Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario) Knitters' Fair, I should have been more eager, but somehow, it lingered.  And it's a beauty!
I've never knitted so much mosaic!  That's where you knit a garter ridge of one color, and then another garter ridge of the other color.  Modifications were made.

  1. I was undecided about the size.  Bought the L/XL kit and made the smaller size on tighter needles for the body only.  Large for the sleeves.
  2. The collar seemed unnecessarily tall.  I knitted it one-third the height of the pattern.
  3. I used a zipper.  It was supposed to overlap by about 4 inches, but it didn't.  And I really had a hard time imagining that it would hang nicely with only a button at the neck.  Now I'll never know.
I'm delighted to feel how stretchy it is, yet not shapeless.  AND the colors are beyond all expectations. (Colors: Salmon, raspberry and pumpkin. A feast!)
Thanks for the encouragement to use the sleeves and not make it a vest.  The sleeves were knitted first, before the body, and it was a good thing!  
You might want to have a look at my "Finished" page (see in the column to the right) to get a grip on what I've been doing since August....
Don't forget that blankety blank  time change this weekend!  It's especially cruel for someone with an 8 AM commitment on Sunday mornings.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Repair...

I don't like repairs.  And I especially don't like repairing things I DIDN'T knit.  My son-in-law innocently asked and I looked at the hoodie I was working on, and I replied, "I'll see..."  But his story softened my resolve, and within a few hours it was fixed.  Lucky me, I didn't take a "before" picture.
The hat, his favorite, and I know it's a favorite because I've been warned off trying to make one for him because he's very "particular" about his hats...the hat was purchased on a trip to Peru, and it's yummy, double, alpaca, and probably pricey (because I was in the same shop when he bought it).  It had developed a hole from who-knows-what. And of course, since it's reversible, and he would never consider wearing the light side out, he continued to wear it.  That hole was going to get worse, and I took pity on it.
My remedy:

  1. stitch around the hole and contain the stitches that are left intact.
  2. using similar yarn (leftover from something) I picked up a row of stitches
  3. and knitting with tiny needles, I made a swatch of ribbing.
  4. I sewed the swatch down on the sides and top.  
  5. If I had been really serious, I would have ripped it back and knitted with larger needles, but I didn't...
All better:

Was I lucky it wasn't in the cables?


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