Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why Does it Feel Like 7:00?

When it's only 4:15? Maybe I'm just wishing it was 7:00. I haven't been up for an especially long period of time. I haven't worked especially hard. I shouldn't be thinking it's 7:00. It has been storming for most of the afternoon so maybe that has something to do with it. I think I'm going to open the blinds, watch the rain, and knit.

I've made good progress on the SoS sock. I feel like I'm ages away from finishing though. Mostly because I've only been knitting on it in little bits and pieces. While waiting for the internets to load, while making dinner, between answering text messages or filling orders for Tweet Tees.
I still have 4 inches to go before I can start the ribbing. I don't know if I will hold out that long or if my yarn will either, it's starting to look a little skimpy on the ball. I think I need to learn how to knit socks two at a time. Even though it will take longer, when I'm done, I'm done. I don't have to worry about Second Sock Syndrome (which I can feel rising before I've even reached the end of this sock).
This is Penelope demonstrating how very little she cares (about my knitting and about the shipping materials I have to use too).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This or That

As I mentioned yesterday I will be signing up to be a part of the Ravelympics (Ravelry link). At first I thought I would make another Warm Woolies sweater and finish up my designing bits for my sweater in the round pattern at the same time. Kill 2 birds with one stone type of thing. And I figured that I could crank at least one out in 16 days. Then I started to realize that this might be a little difficult for the following reasons:

1. I just bought yarn for a Snezi oversized shrug (Rav link).
2. I think I bought too much yarn for the shrug.
3. I have to return any unused yarn in 30 days.
4. I must knit the shrug in 30 days then.
5. It has been a week since I bought the yarn already.
6. I would have to finish the pre-lim design bits for my sweater in the round pattern.
7. I would still need to purchase yarn for the sweater in the round.
8. I wanted to hand dye the yarn for the next Warm Woolies sweater in 2 shades of purple.
9. I would also need to finish a sock and half for Summer of Socks.

In order for any of the above to happen then...

1. The cat cannot make a mess anywhere in the house for the next week and half.
2. I cannot do laundry, buy groceries, or wash dishes for a week and half.
3. I cannot work for a week and half.
4. I cannot leave my house for a week and half.
5. There will be no reading or looking on the internets for a week and half.

...and that's just to get the first list done before August 8th.

In short, I think I will have to bid Team Charity a warm "Good Luck!" and join in on the sweater sprint event. Sounds like a much less stressful plan.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Braves Play Here

Last night my Aunt Becky and I went to see the Atlanta Braves (our major league baseball team) play in downtown Atlanta. Our seats were about 18 rows behind the visitors dugout.

Pretty good view, huh? The game didn't fair too well for the Braves. They lost 12 to 3. We still made the most of it though.
Aunt Becky kept a running record of everything that happened at the game. It's actually pretty cool to decipher her little abbreviations and drawings. She taught me a little bit about how to do it last night. Every position has a number, every hit has a code, every run has a stat and you have to keep up with each batters strikes and balls. It sounds complicated, and I guess it kind of is. I think of it like learning to read knitting abbreviations though. The first time you see it, it looks like Greek. The more you study and use it though, the easier it gets. I think it also helped that I played a lot of baseball and have grown up watching it with my dad. I have a more than basic knowledge (I think) of the rules of the game and what errors, RBIs, pop flies, and line drives are.
It was an excellent chance to knit on my Summer of Socks sock. It was about a million and one degrees though so I fear my knitting speed was "sluggish" at best. The guy next to me enjoyed the knitting and told me he would give me his address so I could send him a pair (he didn't really). The people behind us where another story.

Now, I hate to sound like a prude but what is up with people's language? I sat in front of 2 of the most foul mouthed women I have every heard. They dropped the f-bomb every other word along with every other colorful adjective you could think of. It wasn't just, "Come on! Catch the ball!" it was, "F***! Catch the ball b!tches!" I mean, is that really necessary? Maybe once on some crucial play but this was all night. 9 innings straight on every single play. And it just got worse the more they drank (big surprise there) and believe me, they drank a lot. I just don't see the need for it. There are kids who don't need to be hearing that. I think it's a shame that we as a society have become so desensitized to this behavior and so afraid of stepping on someones toes that we either don't notice it or we don't say anything. I almost turned and asked them to please watch their language and to stop yelling so loudly (by the end of the night they were screeching in my ear) but I knew they were pretty belligerently drunk and probably would have just cursed me out and made my evening even worse. However, I know I can't expect people without my same morals to respect the ones I have. They just don't understand where I'm coming from.

Today I was at work for the better part of the day trying to set up my classroom. They used my room for summer school so there are about 10 extra desks that I have to move before I can even reach my bulletin board or wall space. Tomorrow me and my mom (thank goodness for her) are going to try and get the majority of the work done. Consequently, I haven't had much time for knitting today. Especially since I have a huge migraine :( This isn't good because I need to finish my socks. I'm trying to get them done before the Olympics start because I've joined the Ravelympics! I'm so excited but I still have not committed 100% to what I want to do but more on that conundrum tomorrow...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wedding Bells are Ringing

This weekend I traveled to South Carolina for an friend's wedding. I have known her and her family for almost 15 years. The nice long car ride and evenings in the hotel room gave me time to get some work done on my sock. Ok, a lot of work (especially when watching the History Channel until 12:00 midnight).
I have enjoyed working this sock. It's the Summer of Socks pattern by Wendy Knits (available only to SoS participants). I have never done toe up before but I've liked learning how.
I did have to tink back the first 5 or so rows of the heel thanks to the fact that I can't count to 16. But I like the fact that toe up socks do not require you to pick up stitches for the gussets. Very nice. The pattern is making the sock twist a little (I noticed this when I tried it on) but I'm going to hope that it corrects itself when blocked.

Tomorrow I have training at work all day but then I'm going to a baseball game with my aunt. Good sock knitting time, don't you think? Maybe I should finish untangling that second ball of yarn...

I leave this short post with a picture of Penelope from a few days ago. She looked so sweet and cuddly with her blanket.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where to Start?

What happens when you try and hand wind some Artyarns Ultramerino 4 into a ball. Well, it tends to make a huge mess if you decide that you can just lay the hank out and pull as you go.
This kind of mess is best punished by sticking it far down into a plastic bin and forgetting about it...until the second sock is ready to be knit.

What happens when you try and hand wind another hank of the same type of yarn but this time anchor it around your desk chair? Well, that works out pretty well.
Maybe not the nicest ball but certainly better than the first.

Way all this work?
Summer of Socks '08. Sock #1 (I'm a little slow on the start). Not coincidentally this is the special Summer of Socks pattern by Wendy Knits just for the SoS '08. On new US size 0 DPNs none the less. That means...

I finally made it out to Knitch. And there was a huge accident. I fell. I threw out my arm to stop the fall and I swiped some lovely yarn and needles into a bag. And my other hand was holding my debit card. Ooops. Oh look! Yarn!
This is from Lotus Yarns. It's some shiny, reddish/purple red sock yarn (I know you can't really see the sparkles but take my word for it). And the name...
Hairdresser on Fire. I love it.

Hmmm...these also ended up in my bag.
Another set of DPNs (US size 1s) and cashmere blend navy yarn. There is a lot of that in there. Along the lines of 11 balls. I'm using it for a pullover and being the smart one that I am I left all my information on the project in my car...down the street. Therefore, I had to guess. I don't want to run out and I can return what I don't use. Ha! Me? Return yarn?

Finally I leave you with a before...

and an after...
I love my cat but I busted out laughing when I saw the kerchief. It's adorable. And Penelope is wearing it like she is hot stuff.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Must Knit Socks...

I finished the One Day Beret yesterday evening (after cleaning and vacuuming). It needs to be blocked so it lays a little flatter. I am not a beret person.But I had fun with it anyways.
I was worried I would run out of yarn. But this is how much I had left over.
Pretty close by my standards. I liked the yarn because it was so interesting. I wish there had been more of the ribbon and interesting other bits. By far there was an unequal portion of mohair. The pattern was super simple and I like how you could use it with any yarn or gauge. If I was more of a beret person I might be tempted to make this for myself. I will say that starting with just 4 stitches was tricky. I put them all on one DPN, turned, and knit the next row (the same way you would do for an i-cord) and then slipped the stitches onto separate DPNs. After that second row you have 8 stitches which is a little more manageable on 3 DPNs.

Yesterday I went to my parent's house to help my mom remove wallpaper from her bathroom and just hang out with her and bond. I knew we'd watch some TV or a movie and I would want to knit so I brought over all the little leftover bits of 100% wool that I used to make sweaters or socks. I cast on for a pair of little-ish Warm Woolies socks and before the end of Hopkins I had turned the heel.
This morning I finished up the toe. I just have to bind off and weave in the ends. I must confess that I love these socks. They are so easy to make and they don't take 15 years like I imagine some socks do (remember for a minute that I made knee high striped socks...). I feel compelled to keep knitting these until I run out of the last bit of yarn that I own. I know that I have 15 things in my Ravelry queue but I'm fixated on little socks and sweaters right now. I think knowing that they go to such a good cause spurs me on. And the fact that I use bulky yarn and big needles means that these projects are done super fast. Well, it's off to bind off some little(-ish) socks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Only Because I Have To

The things that I have to do now officially out number the things I want to do so the better part of today will be spent doing what I have to. Yesterday I did a lot of what I wanted to do though so I guess it evens out in the wash. Which reminds me I need to wash the dishes...

I had a lot of help from a very reliable source.
I was working on this little beauty.
Seems like a lot of columns and numbers.
Hmmm...knitting related maths? Now, I must preface all this by saying that I'm not a mathematician in any sense of the word. In fact, when I was in school, I never really liked math. The problem is, you see, I'm really good at math. I know, I know. It's the ultimate form of irony. I'm good at something I dislike. In the past few years I've come to terms with this love/hate relationship. Math is very logical, which I really like. If you tinker with it long enough you will get the right answer. I like that too. What I don't like is the formulas. I could never memorize all of them. I prefer to use the Melissa Method to Maths. This involves taking all the numbers you want and mentally arranging and rearranging them until you get an answer that seems about right (I always use a calculator to actually test my arrangements). It may be a little time consuming but it works for me.

Ok, so why was I making a giant table full of maths? Awhile ago I purchased a book, Style Your Own Kids Knits. It gives you basic directions for making kid sized sweaters and piecing them together. You can pick several different styles and motifs to individualize these sweaters. I have a few problems with this book. #1: The sweaters are written in pieces-back, front, sleeves, etc. and I hate sewing seams. I like to do things in the round. #2: It is written only for one gauge. This, I realize is typical but I still don't have to like it.

Well, I have become very active in knitting kid sized sweaters for Warm Woolies. I really like to knit for them because the yarn is chunky and the needles are big (I like instant gratification, I also don't like to spend 6 years on a sweater...I hope you're listening big pink thing.) I wanted to use the book I bought to mix up the styles of sweaters I made. So I came up with this great idea of converting all the patterns into formulas. I worked out the length, how long to do certain decreases, when to start the neck lines, etc. for all the different sizes. The kicker is that they all rely on the gauge to calculate them. I've made it so that you can plug in any gauge, with any yarn and any needles, and this little spreadsheet will give you all the information for making these sweaters in the new gauge. Hypothetically at least. None of this has been tested yet.

As I was doing all this (besides getting a major headache) I realized this book is seriously odd in some respects. For the first 3 patterns (ages 3 months-2 years) it follows the same basic procedures. The lengths and things are even determinable by a numerical pattern (ok, I sounded like a big nerd just then). Then, for the next 3 patterns (2-6 years) it follows a totally different procedure. Then the 7-8 year pattern goes back to the original process and the 9-10 jumps to the second. It makes no sense. Do 2-6 year olds have different arm and shoulder shapes than 7-8 year olds because that's how it's written. In conclusion, I think I will use this as a basic guideline as I tweak my personal Warm Woolies sweater in the round pattern. I don't feel like I wasted time doing this but I do wonder if the designers of this book made more work for themselves than was really necessary.

Speaking of Warm Woolies...
I finished the second sweater. It turned out better than I expected (I originally thought the chest/armhole area was too short, it may still be but it looks ok).

The sleeves may be a little big (seeing as how I can fit my hand into them) but I think it will keep a 2 or 3 year old nice and warm. I'm still not ready with a "final" version of my pattern but I'm getting closer.

After I finished with the sweater I started a new project. I promised myself I would take a break from sweaters for awhile. I stayed up until 1:00 this morning working on a birthday/Christmas present for my cousin.
I know that right now it looks like a really bad Rastafarian hat but it's the One Day Beret. I'm using my Be Sweet Magic Ball to make it. My cousin has pretty eccentric tastes so I think she will like this. I stayed up until all hours because I was intrigued by this yarn. I wanted to keep knitting to see what would be next. Ribbon? Curly mohair? Some really slubby sparkly yarn? I'm a little afraid I'll run out but I'm almost ready to start the ribbing so I'm crossing my fingers.

Unfortunately, the better part of today is for vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and general household upkeep. I dislike being an adult some days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Doing What Should Have Been Done Awhile Ago

Warning: This post is very picture heavy. My apologies to anyone using dial up.

I'm finally posting pictures from my trip to Moldova. I went with an organization called Operation Mobilization (OM). They are a sort of missions trip catalyst if you will. They help organize mission trips for individuals and groups in 110 countries around the world. I have a friend who has been a full time missionary through OM for 6 and half years. He and his wife invited me to look into a short term trip with OM last fall and that's what started the whole cycle of things.
This is the OM center in Chişinau, the capital of Moldova. We were here for a day preparing to go out into the various villages.
This is Bălți (pronounced Belts). It's the second largest city in Moldova (Chişinau is the 1st) and this was our home base for the first 5 days of the outreach. We would drive 30 minutes on dirt roads every morning to the little village of Cubolta where there was a small church.
This is the van that we drove 3 hours in to get to Bălți. There were 9 people, a driver, and all our luggage in an 8 passenger van. And this was considered comfortable.
Here I am doing crafts with the kids in Cubolta. We would have a 3 hour Vacation Bible School type program in the morning with a Bible story, games, crafts, snacks, and English lessons. After lunch we would come back and have organized sports like soccer or baseball with the kids. In the evenings we might have a church service or plan for the next day.
For those of you who have never had to use one, this is an outhouse. This particular one was behind the church in Cubolta. The one at our house in Bălți had a much nicer one. Most are just a hole in the ground that you squat over. This one had a little box that you had to stand on and then squat.
As you can see, it's quite cozy in there. There are usually spiders and bees and of course a lovely smell. And see where the door frame is in relation to my head? I hit that stupid thing every time I used the restroom. As if it weren't bad enough that I was having to squat in the elements.
The kids in Cubolta (and pretty much everywhere) are super sweet and love holding your hand and talking to you. Even if you don't speak Romanian and have no clue what they are saying.
One of the coolest things I got the opportunity to do was teach the kids how to play a very crude version of baseball. They had heard of baseball but never played it themselves.
On average we had about 30 kids each day who came out. The day before we left we did face painting for all of them. This was the picture of all of us when we had finished.
We also spent some time in the village going door to door and inviting people to come to church or just praying and evangelizing. The Orthodox church is very strong there so we had some doors slammed in our faces and some accusations as to why we were even there (OM is affiliated with the Baptist and Pentecostal churches) but we also got the chance to share the gospel and challenge some of the people who weren't as strong in their faith. We also saw some of the most spectacular views of the land.

The next week we left Bălți and went 3 hours south to the city of Răzeni. There was a local church there that was quite large and had done 3 church plants in some nearby small villages: Molestii noi, Carbuna, and Ciogarleni. Each morning we would go to one of these villages and begin walking door to door to invite people to church that evening and to the children's program that afternoon. After lunch we would have the kids program. At 8:30 we were supposed to start the church program but the cows came home around 8 and needed to be milked so we would usually start the church service at 9 or 9:30 and go for an hour and half to 2 hours. Then we'd drive back to Răzeni where we stayed with host families, eat dinner (usually around 11:30) and then go to bed (hopefully by midnight).
In addition to the kids program we would give the kids snacks. It's amazing how quickly 20-30 kids can go through 12 liters of soda.
Moldova is mostly agriculturally based. However, the fields are usually for personal use, not commercial. What you grow is for your family. Many times the fathers will go to work in the city and the mother and children will be left to work the fields and care for the animals. Often times the parents will even leave the country to go find better work. Then the children may be cared for the one parent left behind or older siblings, aunts and uncles, or even grandparents. The above picture is from Carbuna. We had an especially difficult day in that city as many of the Orthodox residents were in full opposition of us. We had less than 10 kids show up (eventually) to our program. They told us other kids wanted to come but their parents wouldn't let them because we were Baptist.
When the older children would come to the program it was not unusual for them to bring their little brothers and sisters along. These are some of the littlest ones who showed up in our final village of Ciogarleni. The kids were so well behaved though. Just give them some balloons or some markers to draw with and they were happy.
We also did face painting in Ciogarleni. One of the boys had on a Spiderman shirt so I used that as a template to make all the boys into their favorite action hero. The big guy in the middle is our leader. He had to preach that evening but luckily we got all the face paint off before then.
I have never seen a land as beautiful as Moldova. There are rolling hills and stretches of pasture and farm land as far as the eye can see. Despite being the poorest country in Europe it is rich in natural beauty.
This is a picture of our group that spent 9 days traveling the countryside and sharing the gospel. We came from 7 different countries (Moldova, America, England, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, and Romania) and spoke 5 different languages (English, Romanian, Russian, Swiss German, and Dutch) but we all came together and, even more, became close friends.

It's very interesting to hear that 90% of the world lives in poverty but to actually experience it was a totally life changing adventure. I had so much fun though and, when you think about it, 2 weeks out of an entire year is nothing.

Well, I hope you enjoyed just a little glance into what I was doing for the 2 weeks that I was AWOL (be thankful I didn't post all 384 pictures I took on here). We'll return to our regularly scheduled knitting program later this week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

100th Post

Yes, this is my 100th blog spot. A little hard to believe really. I never knew I would have so much to say about knitting.

Saturday while I was at my grandparent's house I was able to get a good deal of knitting done while we all watched the NASCAR race.
I still have to pick up stitches and knit the sleeves but this sweater is almost done.

I don't profess to be a designer in any real sense of the word but when some of the knitters on Ravelry asked me to write up the design for a simple sweater in the round I got a little excited about the thought of me actually coming up with an original piece of knitwear. I view that first sweater as "practice." I followed someone else's basic design, tweaked the numbers to my liking, and added a few design elements that would make knitting more convenient to me. This second sweater has been the real test of designing though. I had to really tweak some numbers and there are parts of this sweater that are totally different from the first sweater. I had to do maths and write down steps and knit a little and then rework the maths and rewrite the steps. There are things that I like about this sweater and there are things that I think I should change for the next one. The great thing is that these "trial and error" sweaters will still go to a good cause. I think I'll be working on these sweaters for a while yet still. They knit up pretty quick and I can work out any kinks in the design as I go along.

On a personal knitting note, I think this is the next thing I would like to knit for myself.
It's an oversized shrug from Sensual Knits. It just looks super cozy, like the kind of thing I'd like to wrap up in on a cool fall evening and knit in. I've been dying to go to Knitch, the yarn store in Atlanta, for some shopping. I'm thinking this next week I might head out there and see if they have some yarn for this project. For my next charity sweater I've also been tossing around in my head the idea of Kool-Aid dying some cheap yarn. A new facet to this hobby may be emerging...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rainy Days are Here Again

All week I've been trolling around other people's blogs willing them to make new posts so I can read them and be entertained by their knitting adventures. And yet, I have sadly neglected my own blog. I don't feel like I've been doing very much but I thought I might as well share what little I have been up to.

I know that I promised there would be pictures from my trip soon, and there will be. Again, it was hard to delve into them today. I spent the better part of Wednesday morning pawing through them again to try and get some sort of slide show together for friends and family. I have it all there but... well... I'm just not crazy about it. I mean, it does what I want it to do, mostly, but it just looks so unprofessional. I'm not very good with getting my mac to do exactly what I want it to do just yet so everything just looks a bit amateur. The more I think about it the more frustrated I get. I was going to break down and ask a friend to come and help me put it together again (3rd times a charm) but I feel bad because I know he's very busy. Plus, if I have to present this on Sunday at church there's no time for a massive redo. Tomorrow I'm going to be spending some time with my mom and Saturday I'll be at my grandparent's house for most of the day. :::Sigh::: I guess we'll see how it all pans out.

As for knitting, I have been getting some of that done. I haven't felt much like getting out since my stomach has been in rebellion for almost a week so I've taken back up my hobby of watching movies or TV and knitting away. I started another Warm Woolies sweater in a slightly larger size to offer some options on my current pattern.
I only have about 1 or 2 more inches to go until I start the sleeve openings.

I also finished the second set of Warm Woolies socks that I started when I was on my trip.
The newly finished ones are on the right (I put the first pair in for size comparison).
Cute huh? I love how I was able to get 2 pairs of socks out of just 7 oz. of fabric. And I still had a little bit left over. Maybe a stripe on the sweater or something of that nature.

The weather around her has also been perfect for knitting. The mornings start out hot and humid (ok, maybe not perfect for knitting) but by the afternoon thunderstorms have rolled in and between 2 and 7 p.m. we usually have a pretty loud storm. I woke up from a nap this afternoon in the midst of such a storm. Now it's pretty much moved on which means I need to dash out and run some errands before another strikes up around here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig...

Yep, my adventures in Moldova are over (at least for the time being). I had  wonderful time there and meet some amazing people who I already miss very dearly. It has been quite the experience coming back to the states. I've had a little reverse culture shock going on. Not only have I had some emotional moments (yesterday I cried at least twice) but I'm physically suffering as well. My allergies are in full swing again, my face has broken out, and, worst of all, I have been having a terrible reaction to the over processed, fat filled, beyond rich food that we consume on a daily basis here in America. The Pepto Bismol jingle is a very adequate way to describe how I feel right now. Who would have imagined that I would have been feeling better in Moldova?

Hopefully though, all this will pass in the next few days. Well, at least the physical part. There are so many wonderful memories that I want to hold on to forever. I had planned to show a few pictures but I just spent 2 days printing them and up loading them to my facebook page so, frankly, I wasn't too excited to go diving back into all 384 of them again. I promise there will be some soon though.

I'm not the only person who has had issues with me coming back though. Penelope has missed me dearly and has found ways to demand my attention at the most unusual of times. Like say at 2:00 this morning when she decided to step across my chest and look me in the face. And earlier today she jumped up on my desk while I was typing and (after stepping on my computer several times) settled herself in on top of a pile of papers in the sun.
She never jumps up here on the desk.
Of course the computer had to move lest there be cat butt on it. I'm so accommodating.

Oddly enough, over the last 2 weeks there was some knitting.
This is a pair of Warm Woolies Socks. Remember that Patons Classic Wool in Harvest? That's what it was for. These are actually international socks. They were started in here in Georgia, worked on in Rome, Italy, and I sewed in the ends of them while I was in Chişinua, Moldova. 
This is the first of a second, smaller, set of socks for Warm Woolies. Also international, these were started in Prague, Czech Republic and were finished and sewn up somewhere in the air above Canada. The second sock was started over the northern part of the U.S. and I feel should be nearing completion some time this evening. I'm ready for a relaxing night. It seems like all this traveling and time changes have finally caught up to me so I have spent most of the afternoon in the fetal position on the couch. Despite all that, I'm glad to be home.