Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Tender Happy Place

Everyone, hold your breath. (Figuratively, though if you want to do it literally, that's up to you. I'm kind of long winded.)

First, assuming that my future roommate's lease application passes muster, I will actually have a place to live in Tucson.

Second, assuming nothing goes wrong with the place I'm trying to rent for Mr. Man in Buffalo, he'll also have a place to live in a little over a week when he comes home from Turkey. We haven't done any application or paperwork with them yet, but so far things look good. (I'm hesitant, of course, because five places have gotten closer to the deal being done than this and fallen through.)

Third, I'm going to make truck arrangements tomorrow, so even that's not secure yet. (I've been waiting in case things went wrong, but at this point I've got to make them or I won't have them in time.)

I say this is a tender place to be in because it feels a bit like climbing a house of cards. Last night, my mother suggested that maybe it would be best to ship my stuff instead of driving it. That may have been secret code for, do I really have to come help you drive your menagerie to New York? I offered her an out and she didn't take it though, so keep your fingers crossed on that front as well. Even if she bailed, it would just set me back two days and the price of a plane ticket while I wait for my husband to fly down here and drive the truck.

I keep talking myself in circles. Instead, it's time to go meet my packing quota for the day! Maybe then I can make time for a little crochet. I have another mitt half done.

Is anyone else doing the 198 Countries Peace Project? I've got Norway and Sweden. I may have to put the mitts aside and use those as my brainless projects for a while. At least the flags are simple, though not the same shade of blue!

Norway on the left, Sweden on the right.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Belated Wonder

Hi again. Sorry that this weekend was an off weekend. I helped some friends move away, then spent Saturday getting ready for an unexpected house showing. When I finally was ready yesterday afternoon to do the prep work for the blog, my camera batteries were all dead.

A night in the charger later, I can finally show you my new toy.

One of the friends who moved to Chicago is a professional photographer, and this was an extra tripod he had that he was going to toss. It's too lightweight for his professional rigs, but it's perfect for me, so he let me have it! Go free stuff! (I should add, we have a history of trading with these folks. Five pairs of shoes and god knows what else before now.)

Obviously it's not at its full height here. It's probably less than five feet tall even when fully extended, but it's still about two feet taller than my old tripod. I'm really excited.

On other fronts, the latest apartment for Mr. Man has fallen through, again! But this time, the owner is a real estate agent who is going to look around a bit for us, so maybe he'll find something. My own search seems to be going much better. I've found a good house and a fun-sounding roommate and assuming all the lease application stuff goes through, I've got a place just over one-and-a-half miles from campus and - wait for it - even closer to the knit shop. I'm jazzed, but I'm starting to worry something will go wrong with this one, too.

Rather than spending the day finishing the second mitt - about one third done - I'm going to be spending it walking in to get the faxed application and running other errands.

Keep you fingers crossed for me (or something similar, if you're busy crafting). :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Semi-FOs and Semi-Frogged Projects

Time for crafty goodness. Of late I've been working on one of the mitt designs I've mentioned before. I've also been spending a LOT of time looking for housing since so far everything I've lined up or thought I lined up had fallen through, so I haven't been crafting as much as I'd like to. But, I did make the time to frog the two balls worth of yarn you see about - these are the size of large oranges, so this was no small effort when done by hand. I've still got 2-3 mystery panels of the cream, which is an acrylic yarn and about two-thirds of the shrug in gray left to frog. I can only do it when I don't need my hands, and since I've been TV free for 15 days, most entertainment I have involves holding a book or using a keyboard. :)

Here - above and below - you can see what I think is the neat thing about this design. On one side - the reverse of the hand - you can see the spiral technique, and on the other, you can't. No awkward joins, like in the round can sometimes have, and the use of gradual increases and then decreases in stitch height really make the spiral pop.

My main complaint is that the thumb hole looks ungainly. It's finickiness on my part. As you can see, I haven't bound off yet, so my plan is to half-double crochet around the thumb hole once or twice to provide more protection for the pad of my thumb. The need for these mitts - oh mother of invention - comes from the fact that my wrist that is more prone to inflammation sits right on top of my hot laptop battery when I work, so I need some padding between hand and computer. My knitted mitts are great when it's not 80-plus degrees out, so these are meant to be lighter and trimmer.

Think happy thoughts for me as I try to find housing and make the mate to this lonely mitt. Another design involving mesh is on the way!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Wonder #10 Fieldwork

Hello again. I wanted to do something a little different for this Weekend Wonder. I've mentioned a number of times in the last few months that I was spending the day outside doing fieldwork. Well, as a preservationist, I'm a theory and policy specialist. Knowing that, you might wonder what my fieldwork is.

Once upon a time it was outreach and legal consulting, but I've been involving myself in interpretation more and more over the last few years - the process and theory of how we convey history or heritage to the public. A project that evolved out of that - I'll spare you the long details - is the work I've been doing this year with the help of a great photographer, my research assistant. Our focus is on how the use of repeat photography can be a tool for interpreting urban change.

First, we spent weeks in various archives trying to find the best photographs - those that were old enough to be interesting, best situated to be retaken, and most likely to either show interesting change or an interesting lack of change. An example is this photograph taken early in the twentieth century from a major park in Charleston, Marion Square.

From left to right you can see a hotel, the statue of John C. Calhoun, row houses, especially an elaborate house that is taller with the Classical cupola of the orphanage behind it, and one of the tall steeple churches Charleston is known for.

Second, after we picked out these pictures, we went out and tried to rephotograph them as accurately as possible using transparent overlays and all kinds of little tricks. About one in three was unrepeatable. For example, there are a couple beautiful panoramic shots of this square that were taken from a distance. Where those photographers stood is now inside a building. Fortunately, this one was one we could retake, but not one of our most accurate. Here's the new shot:

You might not notice if I didn't point it out, but the statue and hotel, now substantially blocked by trees, aren't in the exact same vertical alignment. We could figure out fairly precisely where the photographer stood, but the park has been relandscaped many times. All you would see if we took that shot would be trees. Our solution was to move about fifteen feet closer. It captures the significant and less obvious changes. All of the houses are gone, as is the orphanage. They've been replaced by that parking garage and college buildings respectively. The church still stands, but its polychromatic stucco has been replaced with a single darker color. In combination with the white trim, it really changed the look of the steeple.

We have over twenty pairs like this, as well as a handful of shots that we retook much more casually because the change and demolition was so complete, there's nothing left to line up on. Some of the shots are wonderful, but some are slightly off because of a difference in camera equipment or because of new construction that prevented us from retaking from the exact right location. Now that our camera work is done, it's my turn to take over as the writer.

And that's my Weekend Wonder! On that note, I'll be back soon with another post about the new computer mitt I just crocheted after I take some pictures. Have a good week!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Productivity? Really?

Today is the most productive day I've had in a week if you don't count writing. Part of me doesn't count writing. I enjoy it so much that if I spend fourteen hours on it in a day, I feel like I'm getting away with something. It's only after four days of that pace that I start to (a) feel the brain fatigue and (b) remember I should clean the house.
I got up at a good time, did what will hopefully be the last of the fieldwork I have to do for the collection of essays I'm working on. Then I cleaned the house for a couple hours. Because hunger's creeping in, I've decided to take a lunch break, update my blog, check facebook, finish my loan paperwork (yay for gradschool!) and then decide where to go from there.
One thing I'm thinking about doing is frogging a couple pieces that have been in my frog pile for a while. I've got two panels on something that may have been supposed to be a sweater when I first started learning to knit. I could probably make it, but it would be way too heavy for Tucson, so I think I'll frog and use the yarn for experimenting instead. The other big item is the shrug that didn't work as planned. I've been thinking about crocheting one from that yarn or, in the alternative, using it to make mitts I can sell. Hmmm. Thinking...
I would like to add one more thing, which is a discovery I've made. It is possible, at least for me, to lose stuff in a mainly empty house. A student gave me a lovely going-away present of a book wrapped in a reproduction of a map of Venice. (When I teach historic preservation, I spend a couple days talking about Venice.) For weeks I kept that paper on top of my crates of books so I could frame it to protect it while I move. Now that I've unearthed the frame, I can't find the map anywhere. Hrm.
Hope all is well with you!
PS I'm also still not even beginning to catch up on other people's blogs. That's my goal for tomorrow. I plan to post here again Thursday - let's see if I can do it!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend Wonder #9 & FO: Chicago Scarves

These two scarves were made as wedding gifts, oh, so long ago. (Early May.)
This white and blue is the Girl Chicago, a.k.a. the gift for the bride. It matches a hat I gave her as a bridal shower gift.

I knitted it on the yellow straight KK loom out of Bernat Bamboo in Linen and Ocean. Really soft, very cuddly result, though there are always things I'd do differently. The striping pattern was random at first (though I always did the same thing in one color then the other to use equal amounts of the two yarns), but I eventually found a nice pattern of paired stripes best seen in the top picture that I would use exclusively if I did this again. I say "if" because I'm not really sure I liked bi-color knitting enough to do it again. I just felt like it was tedious, and I wanted to enjoy it more. The finishing touch - for strength, to hide the doubled slip stitches, and for balance - was a row of half double crochets down each side.

Also, you might notice these pictures are darker than the previous ones. I took these in slanting late-afternoon sun rather than nearly noon like the earlier WIP pics.

This second scarf in rust and blue is the Guy Chicago for the groom.

I used linked triple crochet for this scarf, which is what gives it the wavy look. I also inserted a row of linked doubles periodically (approximately every seventh row, but sometimes every fifth, sixth, or eighth, if it looked better) to help the colors snake back and forth. Can you see the chevron pattern that developed? It isn't predictable or overly regular, and that was my goal. (Though, to be honest, I'm not sure I could have made it more regular and gotten it done on time.) :)

You also might be able to tell that there were two skeins of yarn with slightly different coloring. I should have alternated when I found a knot, but I didn't think of it until after the fact. The yarns didn't look that different. That said, I think it still turned out really well and would definitely do it again. I've been thinking about making up a pattern for it, but I may make another one first. It's really simple, but not if you don't know linked stitches. I'd like to see how it looks in a heather or multi-colored yarn. Maybe I'll make my husband one to practice.

In this last shot, you can see the color differences between the first and second skein a little bit more clearly. The top layer has darker, more varied blues, where the bottom has paler blues and shows more variation in the rust/brown color.

Questions? Please ask!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Catching Up

Hello again!
Before I begin, I want to say I do have an FO post planned for the Chicago Scarves, but I wanted to start with a "catching up" post first. I can't believe I only posted once in all of June. I just found this in a draft post I started the first week of June:
As you can tell, I'm feeling a little swamped right now. What we in my house refer to as feeling "Yaaaaaaaaaaa." We've put offers on houses only to be repeatedly beaten to the punch or turned down because our offer has to be contingent on selling our current house first, so we are still looking for a place to live and hoping we'll be able to move there this month. I've got longer to find an apartment in Tucson, but finding a house in Buffalo is more urgent. In the meantime, we're packing and cleaning and trying to sell our house and having a yard sale and I'm still doing some things for work (research related). Add to that some writing I've been really grooving with lately, and I haven't crocheted or knitted since right before the wedding. After pushing out the scarves, I stopped on the retro top when I realized I'd never get it done in time for the wedding. Now that it's breaching 90 here and I have a wicked sunburn from a day of stupidity+field work, I may not resume it for a while.
I had blocked half of that out in self-defense. Rereading it was a trip. We finally had an offer accepted on a house just a day or two later, but it just fell through yesterday, so we're back to the drawing board. No nibbles on our own house, and no place to live in either Buffalo or Tucson. And I need a place no later than one month from tomorrow. Yikes.

We packed up all of "our" stuff - my husband's stuff and mine/ours that was going to Buffalo with him - and put it in a POD. Now it's in a storage facility somewhere and I'm camping out in my own house for a month. Why? Because Mr. Man had to go to Turkey* for a month, and I didn't want to keep paying for a street permit to keep the POD. (We had it delivered when our offer was accepted, and at $10 per day, it was adding up.)

So, I've spent a couple days running moving-related errands and catching up on sleep lost in the 72 hours before Mr. Man and the POD both left. I haven't been knitting or crocheting much. I did finish the Retro femme top before Packing Mania began, but I need to frog and redo the bottom half for fit purposes. Sad, but true. I've started the Five O'Clock Tank from Crochet Me but I'm just an inch in and realizing I'll need to start over. I'd like to get back into it, and I'm thinking about checking out some audio books from the library if I can find my library card... Hmmm. I don't have anything but my craft supplies, laptop, mattress, clothes, and 13 crates of books. Add to that almost a month to find places to live, and to pack up my own stuff (not much really) and my office (urg, nightmare).

I've been spending most of my time on a writing project I mentioned before that is flowing really well. I've decided to run with it for a day or two and then get back on the moving, pack, cleaning, house-selling bandwagon.

Glad to be back!

* He's fine in Turkey. got there within hours of the embassy incident but emailed to say he wasn't affected. His luggage was MIA though. :(