Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crochet Testers?

Hello! I spent the day at home sick, but the good news is I wrote up my first detailed pattern for a project I whipped together last night when I got too feverish to grade. (Note that I haven't yet been too feverish to craft, though I did get too sleepy at one point.)
I’m looking for anyone interested in test crocheting the pattern - I call it Slick: the One-Hour Eye Mask. You just need about an hour and 20g/20yds of a yarn similar in weight to a Bernat’s Bamboo. (It's listed as a Bulky 5, but I don’t think it’s that bulky personally). Oh, and a K hook (a J hook or L would also be worth testing).
What you’ll get is this! I slept in it last night, and it was better than the store bought-one I needed to replace. (There's a bazillion candle-power light directly across from our bedroom window, so a mask is a must for both of us to sleep.)
I’m going to make the pattern freely available, but I’d like it to be clean first. Unfortunately, no one I know knows Tunisian crochet. (There’s the kicker!) The pattern includes what I hope are clear instructions on Tunisian stitch (just need the simple stitch, increases and decreases), but there are also great video tutorials at NexStitch. This would be an easy project to try out Tunisian if you haven’t before, I promise! It’s also a great stash buster. If you’re interested, just comment here or send me an email at notensionknits at gmail.

ETA: Notice the texture? Its a little bumpy on the outside, but the inside (what is technically the front of Tunisian fabric) is smooth (see the parts over my fingers?).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Flu is a dumb word

Okay, so being sick makes me petulant. Sorry.

I'm taking a little break before starting another student's thesis chapter, after which I'm off to the faculty senate. I was stranded on the couch this morning, but I got to play on the blog. What do you think of the new look?

This afternoon I'm feeling better; let's hope it lasts. The best news is that once I get through tomorrow, I'll be riding a wave of catching up on email and grading through Spring Break. No more meetings, no more class prep, just exams on Friday and then a date with the couch. Lovin' it. And then, only seven weeks left in the semester. It's all downhill from here. Lovin' that, too.

Besides the new look, I've been thinking about introducing something I do weekly that has a hook. I don't always have an FO, so no "FO Fridays". I'm thinking about doing tips that I've discovered, or maybe links to some of my favorite blogs, but both have already been done.
... Actually, I just had an idea, but now I'm going to keep you* in suspense about it until I can flesh it out, which I can't do right now, alas. Until next time!

* Yes, you. All two of you that subscribe to this blog on bloglines. :) I know you're out there. And, thanks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gray Weekends, Gray Knitting, Gray Crocheting

Much like the Yarn Harlot, who has recently been knitting much in gray, I've been seeing a lot of gray lately. Gray in the sky outside this weekend to match my stay-in-and-drink-tea, gray mood, as well as both gray knitting and gray crochet.

The shrug is coming along steadily. Having finished a skein's worth of work about a third of the way across the shrug's chest, I've realized I'll have 1-1.5 skeins left over. (Can you tell I'm still new at this?)

Well, a friend's wife is ill and recently has come to the point that she can't put on gloves herself. Not surprisingly, he's having a hard time finding mittens in coastal South Carolina. Supply and demand at work - I've got yarn and an addiction a skill, and they've got a need. I've decided to make her a basic pair in my excess yarn not just because I have it, but because she wears a lot of gray and black, so I know she'll like it.

I've been carrying the spare skein and two crochet hooks around with me this week trying to get a pattern going. I've looked at a lot of different patterns online (thank you Ravelry), and finally ended up with a modified version of this Lion Brand bath mitt in half-double instead of double crochet. I started and frogged at least five designs before this one worked, plus frogging the thumb opening three times, but I've been enjoying it. I'm about 75% done with one, so I'll let you know soon how they turn out.

The shrug has gotten too big for public knitting, so the mitten(s) and a half-finished bath mitt of my own will be in my bag this week. Even last night, at the theater where we saw Quilters, I was crocheting away before the show and at intermission. (Some people stopped to admire my work and a few asked if I thought it was safe to crochet around quilters - that we might come to fisticuffs. It's now given me a tough-to-shake image of gangs of crafters rumbling like the Sharks and the Jets. I think the needlecrafters might band together against the scrapbookers, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it would be fiber versus sewing, or needles versus hooks, with loomers waiting to fight the winner.)

In the meantime, count down with me, because after this week, it's spring break! No vacation here, just grading in my PJs, but I'm still looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My current WIPs and an almost FO

Wow! A crafting post! Imagine! This is what I've been working on recently, though not as much as I'd like.

1. An FO revisited - I ripped the ribbon lining of the Calla Lily strap out and re-felted the bag. A little denser and a little more pilled, I like it better and have been using it for about two weeks without the ribbon sewn back in. I like it and haven't noticed any stretching; so far, so good. I also haven't put my heaviest item - my journal - in it lately.

2. An almost FO - I improvised a camera bag out of some left over Landscapes yarn but I don't have the ribbon to thread through the top to cinch it, so the effect isn't quite complete. Plus, my husband had his camera, so I couldn't take a picture of it with a camera in it. I wrote my first crochet pattern and put all of this up on Ravelry if you want to take a look. (Please do!)

3. A WIP - The shrug I designed hit the 100 row mark tonight - and stopped on the 135 row mark at the end of tonight's faculty senate meeting. :) It's knit sideways on the yellow KK straight loom. The stitch pattern is described here informally for loom and needles. If anyone knows what the "proper" name for this stitch is, I'd love to know. (Sadly, I spotted my first screw up in this piece tonight, but since it's for me, I'm not going to tink it. It was just a purl where there should have been a knit.)

As Rachel said today, click to embiggen. You can see my crochet cast on in both pictures. I was trying a new technique.

For Loom: Cast on an odd number of stitches, R to L (CW). Row 1: Knit off all stitches. Row 2: K, P, to end of row. Repeat Rows 1-2.

For Needles: Cast on an odd number of stitches. Row 1: Knit all stitches. Row 2: P, K, to end of row. Repeat Rows 1-2.

(Note, I don't think that's actually quite right, because the way I loom knit, you only knit the end pegs once, but I'm too tired to translate it perfectly. This would get the body of the stitch right.) :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Work... Up To Here...

Well, some of my grading is done, but it made for a bummer of a weekend. I've got three papers left to grade and three thesis-portions left to read for my advisees. I would very much like to take tonight off and knit(!) but I am waiting to hear from my dear husband. If he has a lot of homework, then I'll probably bring home some grading, but if not, I may just knit while we watch Back to the Future II (and III? perhaps) - part of his birthday present.
I do have an FO to show if I get home in time to take nicely lit pictures. I crocheted a little camera case out of some Lion Brand Landscapes that I've been trying to use. I've got three and a half to three and three quarters skeins of the brown Landscapes colorway I used for my Unoriginal Hat left from a clearance sale and I'm not sure what to do with it. It's my only stash, believe it or not. Everything else is in progress or committed.
Sigh. I need to be committed. Nappy time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

FO: Butterfly Moebius a.k.a twisted wrap

Ah, the saga of the moebius by Cat Bordhi (Ravelry). Actually, this was a pretty easy and fun knit, and if I had been paying more attention it would have turned out the right size. Begin at the beginning, right?
When I started the wrap, I had four skeins of this bamboo yarn and wanted to do something wrap-like with it. I'm not a shawl kind of girl, and I thought about designing my own wrap, but I was inspired by this pattern's twists. Bernat Bamboo Natural Blends (Ravelry) fit the bill of what Bordhi called for in her description of good substitutes for her pattern.
Well, I liked the way my double moss stitch swatch came out better than what I had been thinking anyway, so I cast on and went to town. Then I went past town. I may have already mentioned this, but I was knitting in a meeting and couldn't hold it up to size. It ended up being a couple inches too wide for my shoulders, and my choices were to rip back or to start over. I considered both, but I'd only screwed up one pair of stitches! Every time I've ripped back I've messed it up and lost two to three times what I meant to, so I reallllly didn't want to rip back. I could have started over and made it taller given that I had over a skein left, but I decided instead to try crocheting a border around the edge to tighten it up. (Single crochet only alternating between a regular sc and sc two together... I can't remember the notation for that.) That worked like a charm. The FO doesn't drape like Bordhi's does - but it did until I put the edge on (in case you're considering using the yarn for this project). I liked the drape, but not with the ill fit, so this was my improvisation. The result is cuddly, and I like that, too.
If you have any recommendations for a simple project with about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 skeins of this yarn, let me know. I was thinking a calorimetry, but now that I've knit with it, I think it might be too slippery...

Friday, February 8, 2008

My husband repels Death

I have become convinced that my husband somehow repels Death. I am concerned that I, in fact, somehow attract Death. Let me submit to you the evidence. (Note, some of the evidence is gross. Weak stomach? Consider yourself warned, but I try to keep it above board.)

1. My husband managed to actually roll a car at age 16 with three passengers, none of whom were wearing seatbelts, and no one was hurt. I was not there.

2. When he was in the reserves, my husband had to leave me home alone one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. On one of said longer trips, I began to have strange encounters with Death. First, there was the very run over snake in the middle of the road down which I walked the dog.

3. Then, on another of these trips, I discovered half a deer carcass off on the side of the road. No, I don't know why only half - I tried to neither look, nor think about it, but it was likely for the same reason that the carcass was one day off the road, one day up on the road and the next day about 20 feet farther down the road.

(N.B. - At this point, I forbid Husband to leave. Fortunately, his service was up anyway.)

4. As an archaeologist, he spends his summers doing field work in faraway places like Turkey, Sweden, and Iceland. One year when he was in Turkey, I found some sort of mole/rat thing in the yard. Let's just say the remains were not conclusively identifiable. (Unlike the others, I couldn't skirt this one and had to throw it out myself. Blech.)

5. The next year, when he was in Sweden or Iceland - can't recall which - I had a similar incident with dead birds, one is a public park looking mauled and the other downtown looking suspiciously like he tried to fly through a building.

6. Then, one autumn, I was hit by a large delivery truck while crossing the street. (One like but not actually this one.) Fortunately, He Who Eschews and Repulses Death was with me. As it was, Mr. Truck came to a stop on my foot, but I'm starting to wonder what would have happened if he hadn't been there. (I really don't like to think about what would have happened had I not randomly chosen to wear my work boots that day. I now fear big tires and combinations of bright blue and silver, as well as truck grilles. You can't blame me really.)

7. My husband is out of town this week. This morning, I took the dog out and brought him back in without incident. I pack up to leave, and as I'm walking out of the house, I nearly step on a dead bird on our porch where I had just been standing, not five minutes earlier. Perhaps a robin, I don't really know, but a bird laying there peacefully as if he died of natural causes.

All a coincidence? Perhaps, but I'm really starting to wonder.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ups and Downs

Up: One of my classes is watching a movie this week, which has cut back on my class prep time enough to give me time to grade.
Down: I have to grade.

Up: I discovered I have something else in common with one of my new favorite bloggers, the Knitting Linguist, besides being faculty, which is that she's also a faculty Senate knitter like me!
Down: I had yet another Senate meeting this week at which we continued to not resolve anything and will have to continue meeting weekly until we do.
Double Down: I almost finished the wrap in said meeting but couldn't size it to be sure and have now discovered it to be too wide. Have idea for fix. Will post about that next time.

Fact: My husband is out of town.
Up: More time to craft and edit my writing. Perfect opportunity to acquire his birthday present.
Down: My husband is out of town.
Double Down: His wallet was stolen last night, so I was up and down and up again circa 2 a.m. As a result, I am now less than up. (I think that might be triple or even quadruple down, but I like alliteration, not repetition, so I'm sticking to it.) Oh, and that means there's no one to take pictures even if I get the wrap right.

Up: I don't have to go in today.
Down: That doesn't mean I don't have plenty of work to do. I really shouldn't just spend the day crafting. Grading it is.
Double Down: I'm jonesing to try something with crochet that I thought of last night. Jonesing, damn it.

I guess that's all for now. If I give in to my crochet urge, I'll also give in to my urge to find camera batteries and take a picture to post later.

Monday, February 4, 2008

FO: Fingerless Bath Mitt

This was an improvised design I made after practicing my technique while watching NexStitch videos. I definitely recommend them. I learned to crochet from my left-handed mother who admitted to not being able to tell if I was doing it right. These little tutorials were a big help, as was the tutorial from Lion Brand (also available as PDF). (The project is on Ravelry or you can just see more pictures here.)
In knitting news, I'm about 70% done with my wrap - the Butterfly Moebius. One of the classrooms I teach in is Arctic-ly cold. I'm not kidding - the students keep their jackets on and some actually cover their mouths with their scarves during class. I'm hoping the wrap and/or the shrug that's up right after it will help. The shrug is still in the design phase though until I finish the wrap, so I'm also hoping to get the wrap done this week so the shrug will be done before the weather warms. (Though when it does, the classroom just gets colder.)
Non-knitting related post tomorrow!