Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wow, the time has just flown...!

Fourteen years ago today, a cute guy asked me out. Eleven years ago today (precisely - it was also a Wednesday), we got hitched. As decisions go, it was definitely one of my better ones, if not the best!

'Alliance' by Marco Florindez

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sleep deprivation may have been involved.

Okay, O.W.L. progress time. Here's what I turned in for my Charms O.W.L. 50% submission, which is due on June 30 (with the completed O.W.L. due on July 31).

Hello, Professor! This is CraftyGryphon, First Year Slytherin, turning in her 50% of her Charms O.W.L. I had some figuring to do to see if I'd reached the 50% mark, and I believe I have done so.

At 110 chart rows

First, the unreliable math part. The finished diameter of the blanket is stated to be 72" (six feet), so the radius of a finished blanket should be half that, or 36" (three feet). The main blanket, excluding the cast-off edging is 140 rows of lace. Since I knit loosely, I'm not going to count the edging (and yes, I expect to have a humongous blanket at the end of all this). Those 140 rows should average out (lace rows & knit-only rows) to three feet. Thus, 50%, or 110 rows, will be roughly 18", or a foot and a half. I can't actually use this as a measure, since I was at 18" diameter, unblocked, at the end of Chart D! (On the other hand, at the 50% row, my unblocked radius was 28" - so I can calculate up that I'm going to have a blanket with a 74" diameter - which is pretty darned close to what it should be!)

No, wait, that's not right. I must invoke Pi. With Radius squared, and all that... so, roughly, so every time you double the radius of a circle, you increase the surface area by roughly 4 times. Um. So... if the finished radius at 140 rows is 3", then if I'm at 110 rows... um... Wait. Let me try this again.

I'm at approximately .75 of the final radius (slightly over, in fact). So, there are four radius units; each time the radius doubles, the surface area quadruples. From .5r to r, a increases to 4a. So the area for the first quarter is increased fourfold by the time the second quarter is finished, then fourfold again by the time the blanket (less edging) is done. Hmmm, I'm actually gonna have to do math here. Okay, Pir2. 1 unit = 35 rows. So, if the area for the first unit (quarter) of the blanket is Pi 12, the second is Pi 22, the third is Pi 32, and the fourth is Pi 42. Or, rounding, 3.14(x)sq, 12.56(x)sq, 28.27(x)sq, and 50.27(x)sq, where x is the base unit of radius (e.g., "4cm" or "20 inches") and sq is just my shorthand to remember that it's going to be "square cm" or "square inches" because it's area now, not length. But you can see: 3-ish quadded up is 12.5-ish; 12.5-is quadded up is 50-ish. Check. The 3/4r mark, though, is slightly OVER half the area of the finished blanket (less edging) - but, given the stated measurements of the edging, the area calculated using 3/4r mark is actually just a tad over 50% of the final area, which still puts my current 28" radius at 2463 square inches (which is over half of the projected final area - 36" gives 4071 square inches). (This means that my original, less mathematically correct method was a close enough estimate that I could've gone with it and saved my brain some hurting.)

I'm willing to go with that, but I'd like to make cert, maybe measuring by yardage & weight will work? I have a pattern which requires 1,800 yards of yarn for a blanket. I have four skeins at 560 yards each (total of 2240 yards). I have completely used one skein, and am a good bit of the way through the second.

By weight, my needles and markers weigh approximately 23g. My blanket, needles and markers weight approximately 412g. A ball of yarn weighs 237g. I have 71g left of the ball I'm currently knitting. So, I have approximately 403g of yarn in my blanket this far. Since each ball is 560 yds, then a 100 yards of yarn is 42g; so, if my blanket weighs 412g, I have used approximately 980 yards of yarn. This puts me over the "required" amount of 900 yards = 50% done.

Finally, according to the Girasole Tracker I'm using (and which, honestly, is keeping me going with its pretty little checkmarks letting me know that yes, the endless going-around-in-circles is actually resulting in More Blanket), the fifth row of the second repeat of Chart E puts me firmly at 51%. Here's a current screenshot of my personal chart:

I firmly believe I have crossed the 50% mark at this point. The Girasole Tracker indicates that the knitted edging bind-off counts for approximately 15% of the blanket, so I am, at this point, about 63.5% of the way through the body of the blanket, and 54.1% overall. (Really, I think the Girasole Tracker is the Best Thing Ever!!)

I hope this submission meets with your approval, and that I will be marked "50% complete".

Monday, June 28, 2010

Still no half-O.W.L., but soon...

O.W.L. Report: I'm on the last row to hit 50% (finally); I just couldn't stay up last night to finish it. I'll get there tonight (I really, really hope!) so I can post tomorrow, instead of on the dead-last day it's due. I was hoping to post today, but I'm just not there yet!

On the bird front, yarn from the storage unit did NOT save the day. Coloring on actual purple finches is actually cranberry and light grey, so I got some Vanna's Choice in the appropriate colors, and cast on a bird tummy. As of right now, I have a bird tummy attached to about 3/4 of a bird tail, and hope to have a good chunk of bird body by the end of lunch.

Since my sister's daughter still hasn't appeared, and since I really don't want to make a dress for her right now (despite my mother's promises), I've decided to stitch up a quick baby bib. It's going to say "Attorney Work Product" in green and pink (the Official Colors of This Baby), with little crowns in the corners. (Both Kit & her husband are lawyers.) My breaks during today - which is going to be hell - will be working on the design.

That's all I got; I hope to have my O.W.L. 50% report tomorrow.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"640" is a lot of stitches per round.

Meant to go to bed really early last night, so I could be in line to get my car inspected at 6am this morning; this failed badly. Mostly because I didn't get home until 9pm; then because the elimination show of "So You Think You Can Dance" was on (NIGEL WAS RIGHT, darnit!), then because I was almost done with yet another swatch.

Anyway, managed to finish all three swatches for my Melissa Leapman Celtic Cables class, and put them on "holders" (aka bright yellow acrylic yarn, last seen making Happy Sun objects):

Plus, I've got the first of the four swatches for the next class done. I'm sort of freaking out that I'll get to the airport, check my bag, and all my knitting stuff will disappear - but that's not really logical, right? Anyway, my class swatches, registration packet and dad's little birds (which WILL BE FINISHED, darnit!) will be in my carry-on - and anything else can be replaced. I'd rather not have to replace it, mind you, but it can be.

Also hit a milestone of sorts on Girasole: during the final row of Chart D (I'm done with Chart D! I'm done with Chart D!), I switched up to the 36" circs. The 24"s were very, very happy about this, and glad to retire back to their little Plastic Clover Needle Bag.

It's slow going now, though. Every row from here on out is approximately 1% of the blanket; I'm at 37.4% right now, and that means I need another 13 rows to be safely over 50%. (That, according to the Girasole Tracker, puts me at exactly 51%.) There are forty 16-stitch pattern repeats per round with Chart E, and Chart E gets repeated three times.

I get the feeling I'm really going to be hating Chart E by the end of Sunday, since I'd really *really* like to get my 50% turned in already!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not much knitting, but one heck of a line!

Still no Cherry Coke downtown; may have to (*shudder*) Buy Cans and carry them in. V. sad about this.

Didn't get much knitting done after 8am yesterday - too hot, too busy, home too late. This morning, though, I got to the second-to-last row of Chart D, which is where the stitch count goes from 320 stitches per round to 640 stitches per round. The blurry stitches on the top are the first tenth of that row - 64 stitches of k1, yo, repeat. Things are going to slow down from here (figure one row per commute or lunch - and I need 18 rows by Wednesday). I hope I make my 50% mark; I'm at 35.3% right now.

Also, for your entertainment, a shot (no telephoto on the camera phone, sorry) of the new Apple Store in G'Town at approximately 6pm in the evening. It's insane; it's been open for a while now, and there are STILL lines!!

Hopefully, I'll have some knitting time today. I'd really like to finish up Chart D of Girasole!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Storage Unit Yarn will Save The Day

I have to say, doing HPKCHC is making me a much more prolific knitter, which requires I become a more efficient knitter as well. I'm not faster (noticeably?), but my Knitting Time is carefully budgeted. And usually related to "hey, what's the next deadline?"

Since my O.W.L. requires me to wear hot, sticky gloves (which I can only bear for about an hour or so at a time), that's my commuting/lunchtime project, which gives me a wee bit of time in the late evening to do something else, and next-up on the deadline list is my homework for the classes I'm taking at the TKGA convention the first week in July. I've got one class knitted (but not washed & blocked, which for this one, is required - it's Arenda Holladay's Gauge Class):

Once I've got my four classes done, the next thing up is to get a WORKABLE plush finch going for my dad. I'd like to give him a nestful, but the results thus far haven't been great - so I'm blaming the wool. Luckily, the top/front yarn bin in the storage unit yielded this:

... which will work great. Actual finches are kinda colored like this:

Photo by Sally Isacco, Chardon Ohio, April 21, 2009

And the chicks look like this:

Photo by Amazing Grace Photography, May 18, 2007

I'm going to try to hit something between the two, since the point of the little plush birds is to use Caron "Feathers" in the Purple Finch colorway:

No, I couldn't find a better pic on the 'net.
Plus, I think it's been discontinued.

I'm figuring two-stranding. Over purple worsted wool didn't work, so I'll be trying worsted white, and sport-weight blue, sparkly blue and purple to see what gives me the best result. Need to have these done before I get on the plane headed north. Should be interesting to see what I get; my dad's a birder, and I don't want to embarrass him (or myself) with something that doesn't look even remotely correct. (I at least need to get the eyes/beak/feet the correct colors, for example.)

In completely different news, this morning, as I was already running late to work, my last-ditch effort at getting caffeine was almost aborted. See that "Coke Zero" sticker here?

Yeah. That one. The one that's clearly pasted over my Cherry Coke button. The ONLY place downtown I could score Cherry Coke, which doesn't seem to cause me as many issues as Dr. Pepper... which is now my only option. Grrrrr. This combined with having to wait another 40min out in the heat (I don't DO heat) until my bus finally showed up to get me to work late (unsurprisingly), pretty much put a dimmer on my day. Things had better go swimmingly otherwise today, or There Will Be Cranky!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My First Splice

Right now, it's all about getting my O.W.L. up to the 50% mark by June 30th (and preferably several days in advance, and more preferably, comfortably past the 50% mark). I just finished Row 27 of Chart D, which, according to the Girasole Tracker, puts me at 31.2%. Since I really only started knitting on this project again on Sunday, I've done about 12% in three days. I'm still reacting to the yarn enough that I need to wear disposable gloves to knit (annoying) and should probably be wearing a particle mask - but since I need one of those to breathe the "air" outside right now, that's not really a problem. I have, however, hit a kinda cool milestone the end of my first ball of yarn:

Yes, there's a yarn-end in that blurry bit.
The train wasn't cooperating with me
for the photo-taking.

This will lead into another milestone: My first-ever Yarn Splice.

I know, I've been seriously knitting for - um... eight years now, and have been knitting, period, for about (ye gods!) thirty-three. I've only been able to work easily with most animal fibers for the last year or so, though, and I haven't worked anything that I haven't figured out a way to weave in the ends somehow. "Weaving in" just isn't gonna cut it on Girasole, so Jared showed us how to splice in class. On the itty-bitty chance that you've never spliced, here's a quick how-to video:

So, I did the fray-the-ends-a-bit method:

... and then used warm water instead of spit. Rubbed everything together to felt it all, and it actually worked!!

I've already knit a row past the join, and it's both holding (delightful!) and pretty much unnoticable unless you really, really stare for a long time at each individual stitch to spot the differences - and with 320 stitches per round, and this buried somewhere in the middle of Chart D, I don't think anyone will. I'm certainly going to try to forget where it is!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yes, werewolves.

Got my Eclipse Socks done for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and just turned them in. They fit great (one advantage of making my own socks), they're actually tall enough (second advantage) and I added a little touch to let other fans know which team I'm on. Most importantly, they're done in plenty of time to wear to the movie opening on the 30th!

Now I just have to get cracking on hitting the 50% line on my Charms O.W.L. by the 30th. I'm currently at 27.5% according to my Girasole Tracker. I was worried that the tracker didn't take the edging into account, and, strictly, it doesn't count those rows... but the main body of the shawl (the last row of the second Section G repeat) clocks at just over 85%. So the edging is 15% of the shawl... YIKES!!!! Guess I'd better leave two weeks just for that, which means I've gotta get hopping!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gridding Knitting & Charts without Grids

Okay, so, my only class remaining is Defense Against the Dark Arts. The assignment is:
For this month’s assignment, in honor of this amazing piece of wizard engineering, which shows not merely the viewer, but their deepest desire, please make a pair of objects, that represent your deepest desire. While you’re working on them, think about what you can do to attain that desire. Include your ideas in your description when you turn them in.

Please note: a pair means two items. Two socks, two mittens, two booties all count. You don’t need to make two pair. If your item is a single item, however (a hat, a scarf, a bag, a voodoo doll), you’ll have to make two of them.
Now, this is the first project I started this month (since I knew it would take a while), so, naturally, it's the last I'm going to finish. I really got cranking on them Monday night, after turning in my History of Magic and ... um... Oh! Potions & Charms combined assignment. I had both cuffs done *before* the weekend; by Wednesday evening, I had one entire sock (which seems to want to be the left sock) finished. Knitting like a fiend (and not sleeping much) allowed me to get most of the second sock done last night. There was one little snag, though, since I'm winging the base sock pattern to my own specs.

How tall did I make the first sock??

I decided to borrow a concept from Cross Stitch, and grid my finished sock:

I then gridded what I had done of the second sock, and, asa result, was able to see exactly how many rows I had left to go on sock #2.

Here are both socks. The heel hits in the same place (yay) and the kneesock cuff hits, well, my knee - so mission accomplished. (And see how the finished sock is on the right foot here? That's how I know it wanted to be the left sock, it feels much better on the left foot!)

I should have the second sock finished, and the basic finishing done, by the end of lunch today. Then it's just the duplicate stitching - which will take a while, since I've made KNEESOCKS, not just regular socks. On size 1 needles... with turn-downable cuffs... I think they might actually qualify as kilt hose. Yikes! Anyway, I have the pattern for the ribbon, which came with the pattern for the socks (and, as it turns out, is pretty much the only reason I have the pattern since I changed everything else). The ribbon goes on one sock - it will be on my left sock, I decided (even though it's on the right sock in the Official Pattern. See? I change everything). On the back of the right sock, then, I wanted a (were)wolf track. So, had to find a good pic of a wolf track, condense it down, then figure out an easy way to grid it at teeny-tiny (like 25x30) bitmap size, and hit on color-splotchings. While the final image on the sock will be red on black, the pic below tells me what stitch I'm on when, and saved me from figuring out the pattern and converting it to another program that already had a grid in it. Plus - original Wolf Track pattern for duplicate stitch - if it works!!!

Having discovered this gridding shortcut, I expect to be using it in the future - it's just Waaaaaaaay faster than the other methods I've been using. For personal stuff like this (as opposed to patterns for publication), I'll be using it.

And, just because, our HoH posted this in the Slytherin Dungeon, to counteract some of the Unhappy in the Rock-Throwing room:

I swear, the Roomba is getting points for every kitten it ditches...! SOOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Miscellany

Whups, there were a few more photos I meant to share on Tuesday. Since there wasn't really room, I'm not that upset I forgot them. So, here you go!

The seat cushion under the cool illusion/intarsia sun thing is actually a split-back (zipperless) pillow cover, with ties. It's all hand-stitched (I'm still scared of my sewing machine), and made from duck cloth - because it might be, say, sitting outside in a baseball stadium in the rain someday. I want it to hold up! I was a good bunny and actually pinned my seams before stitching so they'd be even. Yeah, that sounds basic, but you'd be surprised how often I don't pin and just hope I can eyeball it!
My boss, out of the blue, brought me some pretty Gerber daisies for my desk last week. They're still doing fine, and will probably make it into next week. I thought that was totally sweet of her!
All that Project Runway watching during making all the sandwiches? I totally loved Heidi Klum's dress at the finale. There's got to be a way to work this neckline (a) with yarn and (b) onto my HoM O.W.L.-to-be corset. I think it would look SUPER cool.
The Hufflepuff-colored dish scrubbie was actually going to be bigger than it is. I even started the next row in yellow, then did the math: I was going to be crocheting over 6,000 stitches for JUST THIS ROUND if I kept going - and I was going to have to do more black on top of that. Exponential progression - YIKES!!! I pulled it out, and went with the lovely little object you saw previously. I'd still be crocheting it NOW if I hadn't!
My friend JJ got some amazing - and expensive and very, very exclusive (like $200/skein!) yarn as a gift. She made an amazing sweater from it - yes, everything you see, even the sparklies, are all one yarn. It's a really, really lovely piece!!
Finally, the Giant Happy Flying Bunny is in its new home. And yes, I just now realized I have a Hufflepuff color scheme car. *Sigh.* I love it anyway.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And now, for something completely different.

So, I was supposed to have hour upon hour of uninterrupted knitting time on Sunday afternoon. The first part went well (during the Michigan race), and I finished stitching my Happy Sun seat cushion, finished up Hamish's scarf, and finished crocheting my second hyperbolic scrubbie. After the race was a Project Runway marathon, and more knitting time. Right?


Afterwards was making tea sandwiches. A dozen DOZEN tea sandwiches for a tea at my mom's workplace on Monday. So you really understand what level of daughterly devotion was operating here, it was (a) NOT KNITTING, (b) COOKING related, and (c) happened AFTER I overheard Mom volunteering me to knit more things for my sister's baby-to-be - which I'd specifically asked her not to do until after the baby was born/HPKCHC term was done. I find out that there's sandwich making around 3pm, and, since there appeared to be panic volunteer to help.

Without finding out how many sandwiches were involved first.

My cousin, who frequently does involved food-prep posts on her blog, is probably rolling her eyes/gasping with horror right now. Never *ever* volunteer for food prep without getting exact quantities detailed first. Turns out the number needed was "about 150".

Friends, let me tell you, that's a lot of tea sandwiches. First, there was making the filling. First up was Egg Salad (a smell I can't stand), enough for four dozen sandwiches. Then cream cheese, which is actually either cream cheese olive, or cream cheese and cucumber, which is pictured here:

There were four dozen of these. Mom filled them and made sure the filling was spread evenly; I then trimmed off the crusts and halved them. They got stacked, in layers of eight per layer, three deep in these lovely plastic boxes, with moist towels to keep them nice until consumption hour.

Then into the fridge with them. The fridge, in its current configuration, would only hold four boxes - which was a problem, as there were also four dozen tuna salad sandwiches! So, one of the shelves had to come out, the apples had to roost in the onion bin, and the giant bottle of syrup... well, I'm not sure what happened to it. For that matter, I'm not sure where it went, either.

Six hours later, everything was put away, washed up, cleaned, packed, and otherwise finished. And as there had been just enough tuna fish and bread for two more little sandwiches, we made them.

And then ate them. And they were good. But still Not Knitting.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three things done, and it's not enough!

So, last Friday, I did a pre-post draft for today. Sort of a wish-list of things I hoped to accomplish, without thinking any of it would actually happen.
Okay, I need to focus. Here's what I need to be knitting, and when it has to be done:

ProjectJune 30
July 5
50% of OWLX      
Eclipse SocksX      
Undecided HoM Project X       
Finches for Dad   X   
TKGA Con Homework   X   
Hello Kitty Scarf      X
Slytherin Scarf for Hamish       X 
Monster Yarn Project      X
Sweet Grandparents      X

Plus, there's the Slytherin TARDIS knitalong in July (thankfully, IN JULY), a scrubbie I need to crochet, etc. etc. etc.....!

Now, realistically, I can do the TKGA con stuff waiting in the airport/hotel the day before. My airline is fine with knitting needles as long as they're not metal. (Those will be in the checked baggage, natch.) This gives me all of the July 4 weekend - when I won't be getting a shot to slow me down - to do the little finches for my Dad.

Also realistically, Hamish's scarf is going to be done this week, and I'm starting the YoT:SE giant Yarn Swatch Blanket of Doom up again or I *never* will.

This means, basically, that I need about 50 rows of Girasole done this & next week, and the Eclipse Socks, to boot. Which means I need to come up with something for History of Magic.

Since extra points are awarded for doing research on a House Founder other than one's own, I picked Rowena Ravenclaw. I found out gobs about her, but still no ideas that just Jump Out. I'm wondering if I could switch to Helga Hufflepuff (honestly, I started with her, but wasn't getting any ideas)? Maybe a market bag or a scrubbie? Practical, useful, hardworking sorts of things? Hm. Must think on this.
As of today, THE LIST has changed!!! The stuff marked out? Already dealt with!

History of Magic is done and turned in (two hyperbolic crocheted scrubbies). The black and yellow is acrylic, for scrubbing, and won't absorb much water; the green is cotton, which will absorb water, for bathing.

See? Hufflepuff house colors!

Hamish's scarf is done. He's getting a bit full of himself since he realized he was a screen star:

He demanded that his scarf have actual sparkly silver.

He's been hanging out with some football hooligans in dark corners under streetlamps lately. I blame the World Cup. But at least he'll be warm in his new scarf.

I found some gorgeous yarn for the Tardis Cowl - can you say MadelineTosh PASHMINA?? This stuff is SOOOOOOO soft - merino, cashmere & silk - and machine washable! The blue (colorway Fathom) is for the Tardis Cowl, as are the lovely pewter buttons. The green (Malachite) is for I-don't-know-what-but-I-pulled-a-20% off-prize-and-it-was-so-pretty!!

I also got more Miss Babs Yummy Toes. I swear, I need to stay out of Fibre Space while they've got these in stock!

There's some progress on DADA, even. Which is good, since I discovered that I really wanted knee-socks, not just socks, so that's an extra 6-8 inches of knitting I need to do per sock. There will be under-the-desk knitting happening if these are going to be done in time!

Plus, I did all the seaming on my Charms intarsia/illusion pillow. Sounds like a good weekend, right? Well, it would've been - except that I missed about eight hours of knitting time that I'd planned on. I'll explain tomorrow!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Keep Calm and Cast On.

Sometimes knitting just doesn't work. The needles break:

"A" is supposed to be connected to "B"

The exquisite pattern is done in exactly the WRONG yarn:

Supposedly Jared Flood's Romney Scarf;
I won't tell him if you won't.

Sometimes a fancy spreadsheet is necessary because just WRITING the pattern out isn't working at all:

On the upside, I did catch all the mistakes. I think.

Thus, the thought for the day: