Friday, April 28, 2006

It's Alive!

And finished! K.'s stole is finally, ultimately finished! It's blocking on the couch right now, a whopping six and a half feet long and two feet wide! And here I was worried about not making 60 inches. Pictures forthcoming. Oh man, pictures so wonderfully, wonderfully forthcoming. I think it'll take an extra blocking once this one is done, though - I really wasn't expecting this kind of growth, and I fear our meager couch just isn't up to the task. Plus, you know, I wanted to do an initial block before I wove in the ends, so I could make sure nothing woulc pucker. But it's gorgeous. It's goddamn beautiful. And what's more, it's done on time.


So, it occurred to me that while I don't have a long, flat horizontal surface good for blocking, what I do have are a bunch of walls and pushpins. Hells yes, there is now a giant stole blocking in my living room. It is teh awesome.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Earthday and Spinning in the Grease

Man, I totally forgot today was earthday until it was on the Daily Show tonight. Which is funny, since I finally picked up some Peace Fleece rovings! Like, four colors. Two friends went down to the LYS for a spinning class and I tagged along, showing off the Cthulhu drop spindle and whatnot. The teacher is in the spinning guild around here, we talked and eventually traded some of her (absofreakinglutely gorgeous) scarlet lanolin-included roving for some of my undyed lanolin-free South African wool. I definitely made out better in this trade, this stuff is lovely! It's dying my cheap-ass homemade spindle (and hands!) blue, but it's spinning up like a dream, I had no idea how much easier frog hair was to spin with yarns like this! There's I think somewhere around 3-6 ounces, so I should be able to make up a shawl with it :) I'm really excited. If this turns out as well as I think it will, I may rethink my washing strategie on the Stinky Fleece.

About the Peace Fleece, though - I got four colors, 3-5 oz of each, so enough to play with. I got that lovely Orange color (I couldn't resist it when it was the only skein of yarn in that color, how can I be expected to resist it in fiber form?), a harvest-y red, a burgundy (loves me some burgundy), and a light lavender that matches just so with K.'s wedding reception shawl that I've been working on. Which, by the way, is more than 2/3 of the way done, thank you very much! There are ten final repeats to have done by the end of the month, and over a whole ball with which to do them, so I'm feeling very confident in my ability to get this shit done right. And now, I go and work more on it, while eyeing the red grease lace and wishing I was working on that.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

Maximum Sock for the Mother In Law

Well, technically she's not my mother in law yet. Technically, there isn't even an engagement. Or talk of one in the immediate future. But there is talk of "if/when we ever have kids/get a house/move to Europe" and whatnot, so... yeah. I still have to impress her like a MIL.

So, here's my idea for her socks (that have been on hold since christmas, and therefore must be spectacular):

-Knit ribbin, inch of St, do heel, gusset, fitted arch, (get a fitting in!), close toe. Have leftover yarn? That cost $8 a ball? Don't let it go to waste.

- In that inch of St st above the heel, get a bunch of size 0 needles (like, 8) and pick up two seperate rows, far enough apart that you can see what you're doing. In one of the rows between them, take a stitch, and CUT IT.

- The yarn will unravel (hopefully) only to the point where you've picked up the stitches on either end. You should now have what looks like the beginning of a cuff-down sock, and the end of a toe-up sock. This is where you want to be.

- Splice the end of the ball to one of these bits. It doesn't really matter which. The cuff end is probably easier to carry around. Knit until you think you've got maybe two rounds left of yarn.

- Graft the bits together with the remaining yarn. Weave in ends. You now have the (for me) ease of knitting cuff-down, with the awesomeness of using all your yarn.

The next sock, of course, can be made to the same size as the finished first one, without the splicing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu ftahgn!

So, I was feeling really down today for no apparent reason, so Sweetie and I took off work early (just coincidence that we both could afford to) and picked up some Super Sculpey and played around. We were both in a Mythos sort of mood, so he made an Elder Sign (the branch-y one, not the star one) and I made a miniature for my character in our Eberron game, and a Cthulhu drop spindle.

The character I play is Roscoe, the least warlike of all the Warforged. Unlike his construct bretheren, he was made to be a lab assistant, and is therefore no hulking monstrosity designed to smash the enemy. Rather, he is tall, kinda gangly for a construct, honestly just downright goofy. Roscoe, yes, started out as a joke of how far I could push the "dorky warforged" joke before our GM killed him off (turns out that hotpants are okay, a pet chicken to throw in possibly trapped hallways is not), and now he's so beloved by the other players that the Eberron game is actually referred to as "the Roscoe campaign". I'll try and bring him to school tomorrow and get a scan in - I'm really quite proud of him.

The drop spindle I'm actually a little iffy on, right now. It's got a 3mm thick oak dowel, and a sculpey whorl of Cthulhu's squidly face and tentacles (suckers included). Being ceramic-like, I'm terrified of breaking it, and from a purely practical point of view it spins a little lopsided (face = more mass than tentacles). I'm not sure if a thicker dowel would help more, or a shorter one, or adding in some weight in the center, or what - but it does spin, and since it weighs only 0.65oz total, it does spin laceweight like I like to do. I've got two more in the works for friends who are taking a spindling class on monday.

Also, I made a wrist distaff today - I followed the directions from this site ( but there appears to be something buggy with the actual site, so leave me a note if you want the instructions, or do the quicker thing and look up the cached page off Google (as I did). I didn't do the beads on mine, as I was walking out the door when I pulled it together, but I'm really liking it so far. It's much more handy than I would have given it credit for, plus it looks super awesome, and that's always a plus. I think I'll make another out of that yellow handspun I've got tons of :) Or maybe some of the blue?

Anyway, all told, had a rough start but it was a good day. Didn't go to any of my classes, but my homework got in on time yesterday and I know there are no tests this week so fuck class temorarily while I go play with sculpey. Come on, Roscoe. We out.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cobweb, Gossamer, and BEYOND!

So, here's what it's looking like so far:

Laceweight: 24-30 by some counts, others start laceweight at 18 wpi
Cobweb: 30-36
Gossamer: 36-45

With anything of more wpi being classified as "rediculous". Which means, in other words, that I get to invent a system of classification. Whee!

46-55: ?
56-65: ?
66-75: ?
76-85: ?
85+: Frog Hair!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Formula: Success!

Whohoo! So, my The Formula for washing merino? Totally worked! I flicked raw, colkd-washed, hot-washed, let dry, and today I have three lovely rows of super-clean no-yellow-gummy-ends Merino locks! They are well into the process of rocking my whole face off, starting with the nose. I'm spinning it up at about 50 wpi at the moment (taking a break from the 70 wpi silk I've been doing all week - my poor eyesight!) and I hope to make a little lace hanky or whatnot out of it and see how it goes. Then, of course, I've got to try spinning it at an even DK weight (11 wpi, how will I ever get it that large?) for both Magknit's Calla and Eunny's vest. 'Cause nothing says 'nerd chic' like a handspun, handdyed, handknit argyle vest.

Also, I've been trying to find a good guide on wpi classifications once you get smaller than fingering weight. Laceweight seems to be a pretty consistant 22 wpi, and according to some folks on Knitter's Review at least one brand's cobweb is 32 wpi, which makes me suspicious that I have entered into the realm of yarns for which there is no classification. I think I'll try and make something up if it turns out that I have been spinning finer than the classifications go - and I'll have to ask Fiberlife what her average wpi is on her "frog hair", so I can add it to the list :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

In Theory: The Formula

Okay, okay, okay. I've had The Fleece bagged up in my room for a while, to allow the sheep's ass smell to clear and for me to get my head working right. Here are a few things I've learned in the meantime:

-Lanolin comes from wool grease, but wool grease is not technically lanolin yet.
-Denatured alcohol can aid in removing grease, but too much will ass-rape your wool.
-Denatured alcohol is crazy flammable. CRAZY flammable.
-Flicking is good at pretty much any time.
-Soaking things in cold water is a good way to get rid of some of the dirt and smell.
-Having a basket makes things easy and convenient. Making a basket is cheap and easy.
-YOUR MOM is cheap and easy! (sorry, roommates have been telling 'your mom' jokes all week. Seriously, nonstop.)
-When in doubt, flick.
-It's a good idea to have a flicker for raw wools, and another one for washed wools.
-No matter how simple it seems in theory, things are always harder in practice.
-Sometimes, you just end up with wax on the ends of your wool, and you have to accept that.
-If there's an exception to a rule, that exception is for Merino.

So, here's my basic formula for washing wool, in theory. I spent all night goofing off and making a basket out of that thick plastic cross-stitch stuff, so this theory is to be tested tomorrow.

- Sort raw wool into Locks and Crap. Throw away Crap. Flick locks.
- Put down first layer of mesh into basket.
- Arranged flicked locks onto layer of mesh in basket. Cover with another layer of mesh.
- Repeat above step as needed.
- Soak wool in cold water for a few hours. Replace water as needed. This will take all afternoon.
- Remove basket from water (handles are awesome). Let drain.
- Place layers of mesh on drying surface. Locks should be intact. Let dry.
- If desired, flick again. Get the tips especially.
- Fill up a large bowl in the sink with a mix of crazy-hot tap water and boiling water. Add dish soap and a little denatured alcohol. Roommate's whiskey is not a suitable alternative, regardless of any promises to "spin him a hat".
- Swish locks in soapy water lightly, then in rinse water. If waxy buildup on tips, hold lock in the hot water for a few minutes and hope really hard. You never know.
- Place locks on drying rack. Spin as desired.

So, tomorrow, while Sweetie is subjugated to dinner with Enthusiastically Christian Guy* and evades conversion, I will be testing my wool theory.

Me, I got nothing against christians, and I can understand in theory why they go out and tell folks why they believe what they do. It just ain't my cup of tea, and I avoid it when possible. Sweetie, however, loves a good religious discussion, and has way more patience than I do.

Friday, April 07, 2006

In which the Author is Revealed as a Shameless Nerd

Hello, my name is pseudonymous, and I am a gamer. Yes, yes, I know you're all shocked. Today, not only will your world be filled with thoughts of Why isn't she talking knitting up in here? Is this not a knitblog? but also you will be forced to endure the loopy mind-wanderings of the Gamer in her natural habitat - trying to make a new character. Today, it shall be a dwarf.

So, Dwarves. What's stereotypical about dwarves? They have beards. They live in mountains, consuming large amounts of roasted meat and strong beer. They like gems and fine handiwork (can't argue with that) and think elves are pansies (no argument there either). They are direct and honest, very straightforward in and out of battle, to a degree that makes their intelligence honestly surprising. Typically not magic-users or theives. Stubborn. Strong moral compass, but still have feudalist government.

Assuming that all of the different "races" (dwarves, elves, etc) have self-sustaining societies, dwarves sure seem to go through a whole mess of meat, leather, and malt-based substances to be living exclusively underground. Ergo, some dwarves at least have to live primarily above the mountain, in food production roles. Most notably, this must happen below the tree line, and in places fertile enough to support not only the support-class of dwarves, but the consumer-class underhill, so likely not on the side of a rocky mountain. Trade is likely composed of agrarian materials for stone and metal and the like, since the demand is basically one-sided the support-class likely receives back more finished luxury goods in exchange for food and raw materials. Possibly few to none of the support dwarves have blacksmithing skills beyond fixing plows and horseshoes. Weapons still likely to be axes and hammers, supplemented by staves, bows, clubs, grosse messir, and other weapon types often worn by peasantry. Skill in spinning and fiber arts very likely (told you this was a knitblog). Strong familial ties and sense of community, love of simplicity. Possibly socialist tendancies, ignored for the ease of the lifestyle.

Women have beards. I just like beards on dwarven women, okay? So I'm playing an Overhill dwarf (likely her last name as well), strong sturdy woman. Probably more pastoral, tends the livestock, slings full-grown animals over her shoulders when the need arises. Her big selling point for the game (i.e. why she's usefull) is likely her strength and practicality. I don't mind playing a meat shield now and then :)

Hmm... personal backstory. I did mention socialist views, had I not? Say she tried to start a socialist movement. Maybe it works not by viewing the whole society as a unit, but rather turns the small agrarian communities into self-sustaining socialist units, which then trade with each other and the underhill societies, the profit shared within the unit. Yeah, that sounds plausible. So then maybe the more volatile, probably younger dwarves get ahold of her idea (but can't get ahold of her in person to talk things out), maybe they try to be a little more revolutionary and militant than she'd expected (likely she wasn't expecting the need for military activity at all), and that's when things go bad. The king/council/governing body has to put down the uprising, and since the ideas the guerillas were spreading were hers, the king put an official stop to the socialist methods and exiled her (likely turning a blind eye to the villages continuing her lifestyle, so long as they don't get violent). She accepts her exile freely, knowing how things would have had to throw down in this situation, and journeys to the human lands. Her prodigous strength keeps her in plenty of work, her political views keep her moving. Thus she is when she gets the call to Darin, to fight the good fight against evil wizardry and help save an innocent populace. Like she's going to turn down a chance like that?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I Love Psychology

As I've said here before, I am a psych major, and I love it. I love it so hard, that while my overall GPA is a lowly 2.5 (that's a middling C), my GPA for psych courses is 3.1 (that's a B). Obviously, I do well in psych, because I find it interesting and therefore retain it (unlike, for example, calculus and organic chemistry, which I find dry as toast).

So, for those of you who don't know (and hopefully, this blog is anonymous enough that that's most of you), I was abused in my teen years. I don't remember how long this went on, but it was my first sexual experience, and like many folks in similar situations to mine, I now have PTSD (with PTSD-related depression, different from checmical-imbalance depression, as an added bonus). I can function well in my daily life, I very rarely have flashbacks or intrusive thoughts, and since I'm very aware of what's going on in myself, I can look at various behaviors/thoughts and go, okay, I'm acting this way because of X, so let's examine myself and see if I still want to act that way, aside from that influence, and all in all aside from the depression, it works very well.

Well, today I learned an interesting thing about Learned Helplessnes theory. Learned helplessnes is when an animal is given an aversive stimulus (such as a mild shock) that they cannot control. The animal learns that it cannot control its environment, it forms cognitions to that affect, which then decrease its motivations to try and control it. Secondly, the behavior and the environment have no association at this point - in fact, the animal learns that they specifically do NOT effect one another, that the shocks will start or stop regardless of whether the bar is pressed. This works to later on prohibit learning at a time when pressing the bar is able to alleviate shock - they press the bar, the shock stops, but the connection doesn't form in the animal's brain. This is learned helplessnes.

The cool thing I learned today is that when the animal is in this situation, where it has no control over the enviroment, the brain helps the animal endure it by releasing opiates, endorphines, so that it doesn't feel pain as strongly - you know, the same thing the body does in childbirth. Anyway, this opiate may actually be the key to learned helplessnes, because later on when the animal is in the situation where control is possible, they choose to do nothing and get the opiate rather than do whatever (complex) actions give it control (note: if it's a simple action, learned helplessnes doesn't really apply).

However, if you get a Learned Helplessnes rat, and then put him in a situation where he learns that he DOES have control, the opiate effect and the learned helplessnes goes away! (not entirely to the same point where it would be if he'd never had the experience, but close enough to not be statistically significant)

Anyway, the way this all relates together is that PTSD? Yeah, totally works in a very similar way! So I love psychology, because it tells me that those things that make me happy (knitting, driving, living independantly) are actually helping me overcome my PTSD, by learning on an intuitive level that I have control of my environment! Isn't that awesome? Isn't that the most awesome thing ever?

Also, I decided to go ahead and get my ICNHA certification today. I did the practice test and got 98 without using any of the extra credit questions, so I'm feeling pretty confident. I'll have to take pics of my henna tonight and send them in with my recipe :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Getting the Hang of Things

In Wool news, the sorting goes well, one of our gaming group brought over a new friend and she helped me go through the wool this weekend. I've been doing more lock-by-lock washing on the stove, and I'm still getting waxy buildup on the tips, but flicking them beforehand may take care of that, and I now know to cold-soak them to remove what dust isn't stuck in the lanolin (and much of the VM!). One of the folks on the fiberlist had a good idea, layer locks and mesh in a handbasket (like at the grocery store) and use that to soak! I'll have to see if K. has any of her tulle left. The individual locks are spindling very well, I was getting 60-70 WPI from what I'd spun at work, though I haven't tried them on the wheel quite yet. I'm thinking I might weigh out a half-pound or so of the raw wool and see what kind of yield I'm getting, and how many yards of cobwebweight I can spin from that (and ultimately, how many shawls I could get from my 5# lot).

In Knitting news, the new MagKnits is up! I'm really liking the look of Calla, and I may start spinning for it. It needs about 685 yards of DK weight, so 12-14 WPI should do me well, call it about a half pound? I have about that much of the S. African Finewool left, and I need the practice making different weights anyway (they can't ALL be laceweight, after all).

In other news, the bellydance recital is this sunday, and whoopstock this saturday, and both days I plan to spend slingin' mud as fast as I can! I mixed up 100g of Summer 05 Jamila henna with lemon juice and super-fine sucrose and terped it with fresh Tea Tree EO. I'm getting awesome stains from just a day and a half to dye release, A5 on the back of the hand, and I only took the paste off this morning! I'll do the palm either tonight or tomorrow, to see if another day releasing indoors helps the color any, or if it's as good already as it's likely to get. I haven't had a batch this good in quite some time :)