Friday, March 30, 2007

And We're Off!

Well, it's official: The TKAL has begun! I've posted the materials list, and am converting the first couple of clues into PDFs. I don't want to get too far ahead, in case of unforseen mistakes, but I do want to be prepared in case I get swamped with extra homework (and what is up with assigning extra homework the same day as a 12 page paper? What is the deal with that?) which I'm expecting semi-weekly until the end of the school year. I'm so excited about this shawl. I've cast on for it (again) myself, and I'm already into the second chart. It would be nice to get to knit along with my own knitalong, after all :) It's really the only pattern I'm working on at the moment - Frost Flowers is great and all, but it's a heavy son of a bitch, and I'm paranoid about my math not working like it should in Galveston.

In other news, I think I might be awesome-ing myself out of a job. I mainly do stuff like returning books and asking for money for books we've returned, and ever since we stole a cataloger to do our ordering we haven't had a lot of mistakes to return (fancy that, someone who knows what they're doing is doing things correctly) so I'd been set to check out the massive backlog of stuff we hadn't gotten money for. There were hundreds of books in this, from dozens of vendors, with prices ranging from the trivial (less than $15) to the massive (I don't know what about a book justifies a $500+ price, and I don't think I want to know. Maybe it's printed on solid gold?), and this has been what I do all day for the past couple of months.

Now? There are about twenty where we're just waiting to receive the actual check from the vendor, a few where I've got their people checking up on the info I've sent them (I am great at this. I provide definitive proof for everything. There can be no conclusion but to send me all their dollars), and two - exactly two - where I have been playing phone-tag with the ladies in charge, leaving and receiving messages like please give us money and and sure we'll give you internal credit and did you not hear the part where I said cash? I'm sorry, but two phone calls, no matter how entertaining, do not an eight-hour shift make. So I've been doing lots of little things, like running errands, and getting coffee, and hey-do-you-need-a whatever the fuck. That this happens to coincide with my work study grants being generously doubled (I'm so hardcore, I use up all funding in half the time) and my serious need for extra hours frustrates me. I need to be getting in about 150% of the hours I'm scheduled to work in a week. I need to get those hours and put moving money into savings. I have become an absolute beast around the house because Sweetie does not seem to be worried in the slightest about this, has made NO plans for the move, has made no plans for if we CAN'T move (which will happen if he isn't offered a sweet deal pretty damn quick), and keeps applying for positions in places where I can't go to school.

I have told Sweetie that I am taking exactly one year away from school after I graduate this may. This year is to be filled with a full-time job and studying for my GRE's, and reading research and kissing ass at whatever school I'm trying to get into. There are certain things I need for this, such as a full-time job and a school both within reasonable distance of public transportation, as I have no car. A friend of mine is working in a lab that offers $10 an hour for what I used to do for free in the rat lab: slicing frozen organs and putting them on slides. Evidently the careful placement of guts-based deli meat is a skill high in demand? And after a year, I'd be able to take a certification test, which would let me make $30 an hour doing the same in a hospital! I want a job like this! I can do a job like this! Plus, full time experience in a laboratory setting? Helps the FUCK out of grad school. Plus, I like where I live, and I like the people in this city. I don't want to leave here, but if I am, it had damn well be for something that will put me where I want to go.

I guess we're having a talk later tonight.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Galveston Mystery Testknit-a-long!

Last night I set up the yahoo group for the Galveston shawl. I'm really excited about this - I've never run a KAL before, I've never made PDFs before, I've (officially) never designed a shawl before (okay, so I backwards engineered Icarus until I could find another copy of the pattern, but I really don't think that counts).

So the membership is going to be completely open for the first week, then I'm restricting it (so you have to ask to get in - just to keep the spambots and such out, you know) and putting up the first clue. I'm hoping to swatch more during this time - I've been focusing on Frost Flowers for Meagan, and it's making me wonder if I ought replace one of the stitch patterns for something simpler. My kingdom for a jellyfish!

At any rate, if anyone else would like to join you're certainly welcome:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Oh, And By The Way...

Crazy Adventure (Overview)

Here is how things ran down.

On friday, we awoke entirely too early in the morning and Sweetie drove Hastur and I into Houston. We checked our luggage (they didn't ask to look into any of my carry-on bits) and got on the plane fine, there was flying and sleeping and we watched Happy Feet. I give it a resounding meh.

Contrary to my expectations, we did not crash and die, and settled into Hastur's parents house with relative ease. Hastur's mom's dog tried to eat three balls of the Baby Silk I'd brought for Frost Flowers (a little eulacan and they were fine, very little loss of yardage. But I do hate that dog forever), and every time I started on my homework Hastur's mom would strike up a one-sided conversation, but otherwise it was okay.

We saw the aquarium (I got a stuffed octopus) and the zoo (stuffed Hippo for Sweetie) and met up with some very nice cross-stitchers. I met Dani from Canada, and Jill, and a very nice lady whose name I cannot remember for the life of me because I have the memory of a goldfish (who's also a spinner, and I'll be sending her half of that giant Beaverslide fleece I got ages ago - I think her online name is branch52?). It was good times. We also drove around San Diego like hoodlums, met up with Hastur's most bestest of friends (who's a really cool person and has a very sweet cockatiel who likes neck scritchies). We went to Trader Joe's, which is a great place, and I wish we had one in Texas, and then we headed home. This took two days total, one night stopped at a friend of Hastur's, the other driving the entire time, from noon saturday to 9 a.m. sunday, at which point I came home, gave Sweetie a kiss, and slept like the dead.

I wasn't able to get as many souveniers this trip as I might have liked. For example, though orange trees were abundant, I couldn't afford to get one for my dad (sorry dad!), though I was able to pick up a small California Poppy. I'm a little nervous about this, since I have something of a black thumb, and plants around me tend to die horribly, often through strange accidents. But I got the two stuffed animals for Sweetie and myself, and thanks to Hastur's ability to scent out every craft store in the tri-state radius we found a little knit shop!

I picked up the infamous Peacock Feathers shawl from Fiddlesticks, and the new Addi Lace needles (size 4, 24", my old standard) and I've got to say I love these. The new finish on them makes them more grabby than my wooden ones, so they're easier on my hands, but not so slick that I'm doing acrobatics to keep them from falling off, like tends to happen with me and metal needles. They're just the right amount of pointy (for now, but I'll likely try those KnitPicks needles when next I get a chance), and the join of course is perfect. They weren't kidding about that flexible cord, either! If you like lace, I think it's worth it to at least try one pair of these needles. I'm giving them a sort of trial by fire, and casting on for Mountain Ash :)

All in all, the vacation was fun, but it's good to be home. Heed and Cricket's fleas have mysteriously dissapeared in the week I've been gone (it's about damn time that advantage kicked in, in my opinion), so there's been lots of good snuggle time. Right now Heed's curled up on my blanket, finally asleep after his arduous week all by his lonesome with Cricket and Sweetie and lots of guests over to give him affection. It's hard to be a cat sometimes, eh?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

LACE (like that's any surprise)

So, today I have given myself the task of deciding which yarns/patterns/projects I am going to pack in my carry-on for the Crazy Adventure that starts on Friday. I'm going to need good plane knitting, good walking around being a tourist knitting, good showing off the mad skillz to the x-stitchers knitting, and good driving back for three days while listening to audiobooks and having wonderful conversations knitting. And, in case of an emergency, a backup project.

Luckily, plane knitting and driving knitting are pretty much the same. It's sitting-in-one-place-forever knitting; I'm thinking Frost Flowers and Leaves, which has gotten to the point that I simply can't work on it without sitting down. This is sadness for me.

Tourist knitting and mad skillz knitting I may also be able to combine. Two socks at once is pretty damn impressive, and portable to boot. So, of course, is fair isles, and I have been wanting to start on those Norwegian Stockings for a while now. Shawls in their younger stages have all the benefits of lightness and mobility while still being pretty damn cool, and I do have a couple of brilliant silks on cones that are nice and droolworthy.

Have I mentioned I got in a pair of patterns? Raku Suri and Misty Morning, both from the Alpaca Yarn Company.

So today I go stashdiving. It makes me wish I had more handknit socks finished, so I could show off a different pair every day. Sadly, this will have to wait until my rough heels stop eating my socks in less than a week. A week!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Someone Asked Me

where I like to go to buy yarn online.. Here was my reply - a kind of informal review of some of my favorite sites.

Depends on what I'm making and how I can pay. I have a good LYS, so for workhorse worsted, I just go to her, and buy online the things she doesn't carry.

Usually all I have is paypal, so I go with for my luxury fingering weights (they make a nice fingering yarn, I really like the baby silk). It's really good stuff for quality-looking jackets and tops, it looks like it'd cost a fortune in the store :) And they often have discounts on other brand yarns.

If I want a good DK or a pure wool fingering weight , I have to either acquire a credit card or send a money order for KnitPicks (I really like their Merino Style DK, and for stranded colorwork their Palette is awesome, it forms a nice solid fabric). KnitPicks has some good laceweights too, but they tend to be on the thinner side even for laceweights, except for their Bare (undyed) merino laceweight, which has good bounce to it. I really like their Bare laceweight, it makes a soft, fluffy fabric with good stitch definition and enough weight that you don't have to worry about a stray breeze carrying away your scarf :) Plus it's super cheap, so it's also a good practice lace yarn if you're not used to working that thin, and it grafts well.

If I'm wanting something quick and cheap, but still colorful and fun, I go for, they've got a good singles laceweight that's on the thicker side, and 900+ yards for $6 is a helluva deal. Everyone loves a $6 shawl, right? They've got great colors, but be sure and wash the yarn and/or finished item in a good wool wash since a lot of color will bleed (thought it doesn't appear to actually change the color of the yarn?) when you do. Still, they're fast to ship and have great customer service; I had two hanks of yellow that didn't quite match even though they were the same dyelot, I emailed the company to ask if they had more I could buy and hope to match up, they sent me an extra hank for free, and followed up to see that it matched at least one of the ones I already had (it did). The colors aren't always how they look on the pictures, but I bet you could email and ask ahead of time if you're all that worried about it, and for $6 a ball I'm willing to allow some wiggle room. Since they are singles yarns, they are a little fuzzier a than a two-ply would be, but it evens out into a homey sort of halo and it's easy to graft (though if you're spit-grafting on your jeans, remember the dye will run). I made an Icarus shawl with one skein of theirs, and I love it. Also, their yarns are handspun by a women's cooperative in Uruguay, so there's good work being done there.

If I want a larger amount of laceweights (can you tell I buy mostly laceweights?) in a flat-out luxury fiber, I go to or ebay seller colourmarkuk (same folks). They have good cashmere and silk yarns at good prices; they're mill-ends so they might be on a few smaller cones, but they'll wind multiple plies for you for free if you want a thicker yarn, or twist them into a balanced yarn for a little extra. This is especially great with their 2/28 laceweighs (that's two ply, 28 meters per gram of the single ply, so 14 meters/gram of the two ply - trust me, it's a very tiny yarn) that will drive you nuts while you're working with them (my size 3 needles are too big for this yarn. Time to make a shawl on sock needles!) but for a finished project they are absolutely stunning. It can be hard finding a color you want, but $16 for 2000+ yards of pure silk is worth it in my book. I haven't tested them for colorfastness yet, but be aware their cashmere yarns still have spinning oil on them - this makes them stronger and a little stiffer while you're knitting with them, which I like personally, but some folks don't care for it. Either way, it washes right out, and then it's soft as a cloud. You will want to pet the cone.

There are a couple of other good places, if I can remember where they are. Etsy often has great deals, I know I get great undyed yarns from a seller called StickChick, $20 for 2200 yards laceweight alpaca, and she's really good about answering questions and even putting stuff aside and special ordering (at least for me she did, anyway; I needed 2000 more yards of her natural tussah silk yarn for a shawl and she was able to get it to me within two weeks, including the time it took for shipping and for my check to clear). Aim for $1.00 per 100 yards if you can for laceweight, and you're getting a good deal. Etsy has a lot of other sellers, lots of hand-dyed, handspun, handpainted, and otherwise handled yarns. ChewySpaghetti reserved a green lace yarn for me, she's a bit pricier than I normally go but the fiber content and the colors were worth it. Don't be afraid to ask people for extra pictures, Etsy is full of nice people and often they'll oblige :)

As far as specific brands go, FleeceArtist is one of my personal favorites. It's not as good of a deal yardage-wise, even with what I get, which is the handmaiden angel hair yarn, 800 yards for about $22-$25, but since it's mohair you can use a bigger gague so it kinda evens out. Their colors are awesome. You can't even imagine until you see them in person, the way the light plays on it is truly spectacular! There are a couple of places to get that, mostly I do ebay, and if I want a solid color mohair I do the louet brand kid mohair/nylon blend. That's like $5 for 500-ish yards, so it's cheaper than kidsilk haze and can substitute for it. Hell, the FleeceArtist is cheaper than kidsilk haze, though, so I'm not sure if that's saying much.

Anyway, if you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line any time :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Love You, Access

So, recently at work I've been getting trained on Access. I don't know if this is just my own inner geekiness or what, but this is the best program EVER for organizing my knitting patterns! Seriously, I'm making a database right now that will have all the details I could want (including gague, yardage, what book it's in, and location in my house) so I can search for exactly what I want, or pick a pattern based on what yarn I want to use at the moment.

There is nothing better than this. I can even search with pictures, to see if that's really the one I want!

Since this is all computer-based, I'll be able to give screenshots as soon as I have it all up and running :) I am a universe of joy.