Monday, August 29, 2011


I have a lot of stuff I need to scan for work.

Only I couldn't because the inside of the glass was dirty so all the images looked like crap.

Then I found these directions on the HP website for opening the bugger up to clean the glass.


Then I was thwarted because it calls for some special T10 screwdriver, which I didn't think I had. Not that it mattered because I couldn't get past the first step of removing the front plate of the control panel.

I was pretty ticked off about it last night.

Then today I ransacked the barn again and discovered a T10 bit in Hubby's big wrench and screwdriver case. There were also little bitty screwdrivers just the right size for jamming into front plate gaps.

Victory was mine!

Even more importantly, after cleaning the glass I was able to put it all back together and it seems operational.

I am 21st Century woman! Roar!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


The industrial revolution has arrived!

I asked Hubby if the people opposed to the Industrial Revolution were called "frame breakers." I don't know where I got that from, which is why I asked.

He said they were called "Luddites," but that they went after the mechanized weaving looms.

So I should be safe.

Yarn Everywhere

I bought the knitting machine on Sunday.

And, contrary to the weaving loom I acquired at the beginning of the month, the knitting machine did come out of left field.

But it is a logical step.

You see, since I have the best job ever, I recently received three big boxes of sample yarns.

Once again, it's a lot of single balls. Which is to say if I have multiple balls of one type it won't be 10 balls of blue, it will be ten different colors.

So the options are just knitting and crocheting random swatch squares or trying to come up with striped projects.

I told myself that this time I won't fall into the striped project trap like I did last year.

Two Hands vs Two Tons of Yarn

Since I only have two hands and there are only 24 hours in the day all I would ever knit would be swatches.

As nice as all this yarn is that prospect is unacceptable. I am both a process AND project knitter.

How can I be both? Well, I like the finished project, but I also enjoy the knitting process that gets me there. Although I enjoy having a mindless stockinette stitch project to work on when I'm tired or watching good TV, I like to know there is a goal in sight other than keeping my hands busy.

Hence the knitting machine.

If my cunning plan works I'll be able to zip out squares, crochet off a few rows, then get back to my projects.

Stumbling Along

The first square I did on Sunday was an ordeal. But it was a fun ordeal since the machine was new and shiny.

Also, I had figured the first square would be a train wreck since I'd never used a knitting machine before.

I didn't watch the instructional DVD because the booklet had very nice clear pictures allowing me to just plunge in.

Monday morning I got up and zipped out another square of the same smooth, worsted weight yarn (in a different color) in about an hour. I was feeling pretty good about my plan.

Then Monday night I tried a bulky boucle yarn.

And I tried.

And I tried.

And then I tried another bulky singles sort of yarn.

And it was just as frustrating.

And I found it necessary to pack the machine back in it's box because I was so uptight I was either going to crack a tooth from clenching my jaw or throw the machine out the window.

This was disappointing because the bulky yarns are the ones I was really looking forward to doing on the machine. Turns out I don't like knitting with big needles. US7 or US8 is about as big as I generally go.

Then on Tuesday I reassembled it and tried another smooth worsted yarn and everything was sunshine and light again.

Today it is also playing nicely. The square on the machine in the picture is Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool. It knit up very easily. I'm back to thinking my plan might work.

I think I'll give each yarn a go and if it doesn't work in the first couple rows I won't fight it. I'll just redirect to hand-knitting the swatch. It won't be a big deal since there are other yarns I've already eliminated from machine possibility for being either too thin, too thick, or too novel.

One way or another I'll show all this yarn who's boss!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Done: Dissonance Socks

Such a mean name for such pretty socks.

It's not a judgement on the socks. It's a reflection of what was going on when I started them.

Well, it's a bit of a judgement on them, too.

I started these on our trip home from California. The day started with a delayed flight out of San Francisco. We weren't worried about it because our connecting flight had already been changed to a later departure and then delayed so we had time to make the connection.

But we ended up missing the connection anyway, being redirected through Midway, spent the night in the airport, and got home the following morning. Twenty-four hours after we'd first set off for home.

See? Conflict and discomfort were the rule of the day.

I got a lot of knitting done on the sock with the blue leg in those 24 hours.

I had debated making them punky distressed socks with random yarn overs and patches of ribbing, but I came to my sense before I implemented that plan.

Really, I like my socks to match. I would have tried to make the patterns match. That probably wouldn't have worked out and would if it had worked out it would have defeated the purpose of the "dissonance" name.

So I went straight stockinette. There was enough stress going on without getting freaky with my knitting.

Feeling Lightheaded
However, in honor of the whole dissonance thing, and contrary to me need to have matching socks, as soon as the first one finished I cast on for the second.

I went with the flow of the Noro Silk Garden Sock colors.

I did not reel out yarn trying to find the correct point in the color pattern for them to match.

This made me feel a little uncomfortable.

As you can see, until I got to the ankle of the second sock (the one with the red leg) there was really no relation between them color-wise at all.

In case you're wondering, yes, I did seriously consider starting the second sock over and making them match.

But I fought the urge. There was already a lot of knitting time invested in that sock and it would have been a shame to waste it.

In the end I persevered and finished them as is. They are still a bit jarring to look at, in my opinion.

But I guess that's the point.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We interrupt this blog for some breaking news.

That, my dears, is a loom.

A, uh, Harrisville Designs A6, 4 harness, 6 treadle loom, to be precise. Don't worry if not of that means anything to you, although I'm typing the words I don't understand them either.

Now you might be wondering what a nice knitter and crocheter like me is doing with a loom and I would responds, um, seize the day?

Left Field, Not the Bleacher
I can't say I've had a burning desire to learn how to weave, but it's been out there.

I passed on a couple opportunities to take a class when I was working at Knitting Central and I'm on the wait list for classes at The Elegant Ewe. So the interest has been there.

Then last Monday I was fooling around on Ravelry and saw down in the tools forum (which I never read) a post titled "Free to good home (in Maine)" and I thought, "I'm not in Maine, but I'm awfully close." And saw the information about the loom.

Well, it seized my imagination and I was not dissuaded by the fact that it was on the coast of Maine, which is a 5 hour drive from me.

I figured when Hubby got home he would talk sense into me. However, he didn't bat an eye but proceeded to ask practical questions like "Does it work?" and "Why is she giving it away?" He was also hopeful that they could meet us somewhere to shorten the trip. They couldn't, but I pointed out that it's an expensive piece of equipment that they were giving away for free, so that was a reasonable stance.

Road Trip!
With satisfactory answers received to all the questions we hopped in the car last Thursday afternoon and headed out. (The delay gave me a few days to start second guessing myself and worry about it not fitting in the SUV, but I persevered!)

Of course, we left later than we intended and the drive took longer than we expected, so we didn't get there until 7 pm.

But it was lovely countryside.

When we arrived we found a very nice couple, confirmed by them immediately asking if we needed to use the bathroom.

Can I pause here to tell you that she had a fabulous knitting room? Well, the whole house was nice, a mix of modern and comfortable. They live on a island off the coast of Maine and have grand views of the water. Well, they would have if it hadn't been foggy. Anyway, her knitting room was on the second floor, steps from the bedroom, and one entire wall was picture windows looking out over the fog-obscured water. She had a kitchen island type table stuffed with yarn and a comfy couch.

Really, it looked like a very pleasant place to plan and work on a project.

Human Fuel

The loom and accouterments fit in the SUV with room to spare.

Our plan had been to got back to Augusta for dinner, but we had to scrap that since we were behind schedule. They suggested we eat at the Whale's Rib Tavern and called and made us a reservation.

Since we were at just about the last seating, we got to sit in the owner's favorite table in the bar. This allowed Hubby to have a grand time discussing wine and beer with the owner and the bartender.

We also enjoyed a lovely meal. For appetizers Hubby had the pate and I had a cold asparagus salad. For entrees Hubby had the lamb and I had pan roasted chicken. Hubby also got a bottle of wine and said their wine list prices were very good.

By the time we finished eating it was kissing 10 pm and we had a five hour drive ahead of us. (We couldn't stay over because the pups were unattended. As it was we were pushing the limits of their ability to be alone.)

Getting to Know You
The drive home was, happily, uneventful. I did most of it. I suppose I was hyped up from excitement because I was very alert despite the late hour. Still, we didn't get home until 3 am!

This, of course, meant that we were rather useless on Friday. I managed to get a little work done. But really, I wanted to play with the loom.

She had given me the assembly instructions and I read through them touching all the various parts as I went along. I rehung the harnesses and retied the treadles so everything would hang straight.

Then we moved it into the front foyer, where it fits quite nicely. I'll have to pull it out when I want to use it, but that shouldn't be a problem.

She also gave me some learning to weave books and I got a couple books from the library. It's starting to make just a wee bit of sense, but I won't really know until I try.

Monday night I decided to plunge in and got out the warping board she gave me and wrapped some old Peaches and Cream yarn I have on it before bedtime.

That's as far as I've gotten so far. I actually had to do laundry last night and decided to spend my time between loads finishing the socks I started on the way home from California.

Hopefully this weekend will see some free time to play around some more.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Calif Trip: Yarns on First

Chasing Rainbow Dyeworks We took a trip to California from July 15 through July 25 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

There was also a party for my uncle & aunt's 40th wedding anniversary and we used that as the excuse for our trip.

The focus of our activities was wine tasting, which is Hubby's passion so I was his driver. Because of this we spent four days in Napa and three days in the Sonoma area.

I was having a little trouble getting to the yarn store because its hours coincided with the winery hours. Since we were wandering the countryside it wasn't like I could just drop in. (Ah, I was just on their website and see they now have later evening hours than when I was there.) By our third day I was starting to get a little stressed out about the situation. Hubby was buying souvenir wine; I wanted souvenir yarn to balance it.

Hubby reviewed the schedule for Tuesday morning and saw his first appointment was in town so it would be an easy matter for me to drop him off and scoot over to the store for a half hour or so.

Yarns on First
The store in Napa is Yarns on First and it is right down town, which made parking a little tricky.

Hubby's appointment was at 10 am, so I dropped him off, raced back to town, and bounded up to the store...only to see she didn't open for another 20 minutes.

Woe was mine, but she saw me outside the door and came over to tell me she wasn't open yet. Which, of course, was a major tactical error when dealing with a knitter who needs a yarn fix.

I looked as pathetic as possible and said in a small voice, "Oh, well, we're here on vacation and it's our last day in town. This is my only opportunity to stop by." And I turned to walk sadly away.

As you've already realized, she took pity on me and let me in, "as long as I didn't mind she hadn't vacuumed."

Well, as soon as the door opened I raced to the back corner of the store before she could change her mind. I did feel a little wicked. Having worked in a LYS myself I understand how important those first few minutes are for getting yourself organized before the store opens. I told her that as well.

I would also like to point out that in the brief time I was in the store two other people wandered in. So in the end it wasn't just me she opened for. :-)

Sock Yarn!
Jitterbug Magenta It is a nice store. Long and narrow with high ceilings, but well lit.

The stock was arranged by colors, which I've heard of but never seen in person. It looked very nice. But I still have to wonder how easy it is to browse. I mean, if you find a yarn you like and want to see all the color you have to run all over the store. Still, plenty of places do it that way so it must work.

Since I was working on a tight time frame there wasn't really time to browse. I had to be focused.

Although I always try to make a token purchase when I visit a LYS in this case I knew I definitely had to buy something since she opened early for me.

I was relieved to find that she had Collinette Jitterbug, which is one of my favorite sock yarns. Couldn't tell you why. I just love the stuff.

There were a couple colors available, but I snatched up with magenta one. It is much more of a neon hot pink than the picture indicates.

(There was also a skein in white, tan, and pale blue that was very nice, but I had to control myself. However I keep thinking about it...I wonder if it's still in the store....)


Local Yarn
Having secured at least one purchase I was able to calm down and ask if she had anything unique to the store or area. Yarn I can get at my LYS here in NH would hardly be adequate as a souvenir, right?

She pointed me to the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks yarn you see at the top of the post. It is dyed in Willits, Calif, which sounded local enough to me.

Sadly, she didn't have any of their sock yarn in stock, which is always an easy purchse.

The labels on the two skeins I bought are a little incomplete, so I'm not really sure what I have here.

They say "Kid Merino. 180 yards. Juniper Berry." No gauge info or line name.

I'm thinking Juniper Berry is the color name. The yarn looks worsted weight, singles, just a wee bit thick and thin.

I was able to find the brand name on Ravelry, but nothing that really matched my yarn because none of them have the same yardage.

Oh well. Using it will be an adventure. I'll just swatch a little to get gauge and go from there. I bought the two skeins because I figured that would be enough to make a scarf, small shawl, or shrug like thing.

Whatever it ends up being it will remind me of our trip.

Monday, August 1, 2011


That is the ratio of knitting projects taken to knitting projects work on during our July trip to California.

I think it's fairly decent. Actually, it's more like 4:2 since I finished my active project and cast on a new one on the flight home.

That, of course, means I worked on half the projects I brought, which is pretty good, all things considered.

Some of you, however, might think I was being an under-achiever since I brought only four projects along on a 10-day vacation. Still, I knew it would be an active vacation, and I didn't want the stress of unworked projects weighing on my mind.

In the picture I am relaxing with my knitting at the William Hill Estate Winery. Hubby had a 10 am tasting appointment. They had lovely Adirondack chairs with lovely views out in the garden where he could do the tasting (as opposed to inside at the bar). This allowed me to easily sit and knit. While this was very relaxing, it meant we were there for at least an hour, if not more, which cut into our progress for the day. Regardless, Hubby joined their club, which indicates he likes what he tasted.

Sock Love
The project of choice was the Cotton Swirl Socks I cast on when Summer of Socks 2011 started. I hadn't been focusing on them as much as I should, it being the Summer of Socks and all, and the trip seemed like a good opportunity.

Socks are my favorite travel project for a number of reasons:
  • They are small and portable so they fit nicely in both checked and carry on luggage.
  • I often knit plain stockinette stitch socks so I don't have to worry about carrying a pattern or stopping and starting.
  • I usually have a SIP (sock-in-progress) so it is easy to grab and pack without needing to dig around for the pattern, notions, extra needles for swatching, etc.
  • One skein usually makes a pair, so I don't have to worry about bringing extra yarn or running out, etc.
There was (is?) a pattern for these socks. Namely Summer Spiral by Jersey Knitter. However, I had the PDF on my iPhone so I didn't have to worry about carrying it around. Also, the pattern was easy to memorize so I probably would have been ok going from memory.

Easy, Peasy
This is a nice pattern that is easy to memorize. She gives lots of notes about working the pattern along with a few different stitch pattern options.

As you can see, I opted for the mirrored spirals. I rebelled against the pattern and worked a Cotton swirl done sideprincess sole, which I prefer for cotton blend sock yarn.

I also changed the heel flap just a little. The pattern has you slip the first stitch and knit the last stitch of each row. It's been so long since I've worked a heel flap that way that I didn't work it very well. One edge was tighter than the other so it was lopsided. Really strange.

As I was gawking at that I realized I was working the flap over the wrong number of stitches. The combination of errors made it easy to rip the flap out and rework it on the correct number of stitches with a garter stitch edge.

Although the pattern is straight forward, clearly written, and easy to memorize, I would rate the actual pattern for an advanced beginner who is confident reading patterns.

The stitch pattern is just charted, not written out. Because of this the written part of the pattern is a little abbreviated in that it refers you directly to the chart for X number of repeats. As opposed to having the stitch pattern written out and then saying X number of repeats.

This is probably a common way to write patterns, just different from the way I do it, and maybe a style to which you are accustomed.

Anyway, it takes like 3 seconds to figure out what is going on then you'll be happily knitting. And, really, it's not like I found any mistakes or anything, so it's a pretty minor "issue."

Project Stats
Pattern: Summer Spirals by Jersey Knitter
Size: XS
Needles: US1.5 for ribbing. US1 for sock.
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton Print.

Not so sure about how I feel about this yarn. It was soft and felt nice to knit with. However, it is made up of several disparate plies and I found it just a little bit splitty. Nothing major. I either caught it as it happened or found it on the next round and fixed it. But it happened enough for me to feel the need to mention it.

I wore the socks on the flight home and have not washed them yet, so I can't yet tell you how the yarn holds up.