Friday, October 31, 2008

Feeling Vaguely Tech-Savvy

Not that I am at all tech-savvy.  I am not far from hopeless, actually.  What saves me is the ability to follow idiot-proof directions, and to sometimes tell when directions are not idiot-proof enough.

I added those snazzy progress bars just now (yes, when I should have been doing something else, such studying Japanese or emailing my mother - but these look cool!), following instructions from Ravelry.  It was a pain, not so much because the technical aspects were hard for me (all I did was copy and paste), but because the specific idiot-proff directions I needed were surprisingly difficult to come by.  Here is the thread that actually helped me the most, and I found it after much floundering in the more obvious help areas.  The step 1 and step 2 to which the thread refers can be found here, and I found that through here, eventually.  The wiki help page was surprisingly unhelpful for the progress bars, I found, and in fact it ceases to make sense at all halfway through.  The We Heart Progress Bars group was where I found the actual help, and not through the many lengthy threads where everyone already seemed to know exactly what they were doing and only had a code problem somewhere further down the line.  

So now there's that goodness going on.  Now I just need to figure out how to put the icon that lets all my imaginary readers know that a link goes to Ravelry.

Oh, yeah, and Happy Halloween!  My favorite holiday.  Already had some of my students come up to me and say "Trick or treat!" for stickers.  Little darlings.  They have some Halloween stuff in Japan, but mostly in the form of decorations, like something else for the all the Martha Stewart types to latch on to.  There isn't really any trick-or-treating or haunted house business, which is sad cause those are my favorite parts.  So in an effort to bring some cultural exchange, I'm giving stickers in return for the kids to spout something else they don't clearly understand.  Hey, man, it's an uphill battle.

Scary movie night again tonight!  I put together the little treat bags M sent, hoarding some of the pumpkins for myself, and I'll try not to screw up my knitting while watching and stuffing my face.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Glove" must be short for "Grrr... love."

Okay, I really need to be in bed, to start with.  But I took a nap this afternoon, which always feels delicious when I do it, but then when I go to bed and stare at the ceiling that night, and struggle to wake up the next morning, it always turns out to have been a rotten idea.  So I'm doing this quickly so I can go stare at the ceiling.

I finished the first pair of Xmas gloves, finally.  Rather a trial.  After the heartbreak of the other night,  I gamely cast on again, did most of it yesterday, and then finished tonight.  Of course, I managed to screw up SEVERAL MORE TIMES.  (the excessive use of caps regarding these gloves should should how ticked I am at myself, since I personally hate reading type like that).  First I did an extra row or two on the thumb, and had to go back and unravel it a bit.  Then I realized that I must have done an extra row between the two cables at the top, but there was no way I was going to go back and fix it.  Possibly if it bugs me enough when it's actually time to send them I will redo it, otherwise I'm hoping Jess won't notice.  The above picture also demonstrates one of the downsides of living alone: being both model and photographer for pictures of gloves is a bit tough.

So the details:
Name: Christmas Gloves, pair #1 for Jess in NYC
Pattern: Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath
Finished measurements: just under 7" long, thumb is 1/2" from base to edge, about 6" around when not being worn.
Yarn: Hamanaka Exceed Wool Fl in color #213, a dusky rose/mauve type color.  I used up most of the skein, maybe 5-10 yards left.
Needles: KA Bamboo DPNs in US size 6.
Pattern Mods: Added an extra cable repeat (lengthwise) at the end before binding off.  I'm not sure whether the first glove only got three rows before the extra cable or if the second glove got five rows, but I was aiming for four rows in the ribbing after the last cable row called for in the pattern, then the extra cable, then four more rows, bind off.  Also, I followed a recommendation from someone in the Fetching group on Ravelry to pick up four stitches on each side of the thumb rather than two, then k2t twice on each side on the next row.  It does help a bit with the holes that show up.
Number of times frogged: 3, counting each separate instance of ripping out (bottom of 2nd glove, attempted graft and entire 2nd glove, thumb of 2nd attempt of 2nd glove)
Important Lesson About Life and Knitting Learned In Process: Just because I've done a project once or twice before does NOT mean I can turn off my brain when doing it again.  Especially if I expect to give it as a present to someone I love.  Doing so only leads to mucho, mucho frustration, and possibly to throwing things.
Knitting in Public: Cast on and started in the common room of the Sora House in Naha, worked a couple of inches in a Starbucks in Naha, finished most of that glove at the Yats Fireworks, and cast on and worked some of the other glove (first time around) at the Yats Board of Education.

I think they look pretty good, excepting the slight boo-boo at the top in differing lengths.  And they're finished!  God, if I have this much trouble with the rest of my Xmas knits, about three people will be getting presents this year.  Sigh.

But I did cast on the next pair while I was waiting the six years it took for this picture to load to iPhoto and then to Flickr.  I'm going down a needle size because the yarn is thinner, but I think it will be okay because Robin is tiny and has small hands.  Emphasis on "I think" it will be okay. Given my current track record, the gloves will probably land in poo somewhere along the line and size won't matter.

Monday, October 27, 2008

[Insert Expletive of Choice] Christmas Gloves

So.  Yesterday I was talking about thumbs, and I finished those last night and was feeling quite happy about having finished the first pair of Christmas Gloves, another present to check off the list.  Yea!

Then I tried them on.  Both, at the same time, which I had not yet done.  And I thought to myself, Huh, the right one feels different.  I look more closely.  This is when I discover that on the first glove I knit, I did an extra cable repeat at the beginning that I FORGOT TO DO ON THE SECOND GLOVE!!!!!!!!!


I really hate frogging.  Avoid it like the plague unless I'm within the first inch or two or a project.  I had FINISHED this one.  DONE THE THUMB.  AAARRGGHH!!!

This is what I get for knitting while watching movies.  Actually, I'm not entirely sure when this major brain fart happened.  I realized last night that I had neglected one knitting in public spot for these gloves, because I actually cast on and did the first bit at work on Friday.  Yeah, work.  I don't usually do much at work, so there's loads of discreet goofing off, but this was the first time I'd actually started knitting, so I was nervous.  All the teachers left junior high to go to some meeting (naturally, they forgot to tell me until that morning. they forget to tell me stuff about 50% of the time, though that's just a guess because, um, obviously I don't always know when they forget to tell me things), and since that was when my computer was totally full and I couldn't do anything with it, I left and went to the Board of Education, which is where we always go when there's no school and we still have to sit somewhere and look like there's a reason we're getting paid.  Sorry, run-on sentence.  Anyway, I decided to cast on the second glove since it's small and I was only going to be there for an hour and a half, anyway.  There was hardly anybody there either, not even the big boss, so I was safe.  But maybe not, since I effed up so badly.  It also could have been that night, during scary movie night, when I finished most of the rest of it watching Alien.  

In any case, big boo-boo.  So, I discover this last night while watching Aliens, and start thinking about how to fix it.  In retrospect, the obvious choice would be to unravel the bottom of the longer glove, but instead I ultimately decided to cast on and knit the first cable on one set of needles, then unravel the beginning of the shorter glove and graft the two together.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, relative to redoing the whole thing, anyway.  But it turns out that unraveling ribs from the bottom is way trickier then unraveling from the top.  I don't know what the hell I do to my purl stitches, but it was a total bitch to undo them, and I ended up unraveling a whole extra row I hadn't intended, because I couldn't get the right number of stitches from what I was unraveling.  Then I was going to attempt to knit them together last night, but it was getting late and I knew I'd be a zombie if I stayed up too late, plus I was still watching Aliens on the laptop and I wanted to watch that video of kitchener stitch again before I started, but there was no point stopping the movie when I was ten minutes from the end.  So I put it aside and said "Get away from her, you BITCH!" right along with Ripley (I love that movie), then went to bed.

And tonight... heartbreak.

I had to frog the whole [see title of blog] glove.  It is now in several wound bits of yarn on the arm of my couch.  I could cry.  I'm going to bed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thumbs the Word

So, here is the Stripey Zo, all pictured up for your viewing pleasure.  Well, sort of.  I'm having trouble getting the other pics up. Bleah.

This makes blog #6 for this project, which is a bit silly.  Most people on Ravelry finished this thing in about five minutes flat.  I took more than a month and had to go on and on about it all over the internet.  But, at least he's cute.  I'm very pleased.

So, while I was waiting for the second picture to NOT load just now, I finished the thumb on one of the first pair of Xmas Gloves, the dusty rose pink ones for Jessica.  I finished most of the rest of glove one while waiting for the fireworks to start last weekend, and the other glove was done this week, mostly Thursday and last night while watching scary movies at a friend's house.  

Knitting while waiting for the fireworks was funny to me - I kept wondering what the Japanese people around us must have thought.  Three of us showed up way early to secure a good spot for one of the most awesome fireworks display one can see (it's a competition for professional fireworks people), so there were three foreigners sitting in a large field of Japanese people, and I'm there knitting.  Do they think, Oh, look at that foreigner doing something normal! or maybe, What?! Foreigners know how to knit? or maybe, Quit playing that damn disco music! because I brought my iPod speakers?  Doesn't matter.  One of my students saw me, though.  He came running by, stared for a few seconds, said "Suge!" (cool! or wow!) and wandered off.  Then he proudly told the teacher what he saw when I was in that class this week.  Good thing he did, 'cause I never recognize them out of their uniforms.

Anyway, I joined the Fetching group on Ravelry, since it seemed the thing to do, and saw what others have done to combat the big ol' holes that appear when you pick up the thumb stitches. I decided to try the picking up extra stitches and then decreasing on the next round. And... I'm still not completely pleased, but it seems better than the last pair, and I'll try to fudge it with the sewing up. That means one thumb and ends weaving to go on this pair, and that's Xmas knit #2 owarimashita. That's finished to you lay people. Let's look at the totals, shall we?

Christmas Knitting Tallies:
WIPs: 1
FPs: 1
Knitting in Public:
   Stripey Zo: train to Kumamoto, dentist's office
   Xmas Gloves: Naha hostel, Naha Starbucks, Yats Fireworks Fest

Oh, and it turns out that at least a portion of the computer full problem was solved when I emptied the internal trash in iPhoto. Why iPhoto has to have a separate trash can that does NOT get emptied when one empties the main garbage can, I do not know, but I felt like a real dolt when someone on the Apple help forum told me this. I have never, in the three years I've owned and extensively used the photo application with this computer, emptied that trash. There were 3995 items in it, and emptying it bought me about 8 gigs of space. Sigh. Dolt. I'll still have to get an external hard drive, but at least it bought me some time. I am even more afraid of grad school now, though, since it is once again clear that I am no computer genius. Well, you do what you can.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stripey Zo is Done, Done, Done!

I love knitting, I really do. But towards the end of a project with any level of complexity, there is always a time when I start to hate it. The seaming, sewing, blocking, making it all look put together part is by far my least favorite part. By the time I was finishing this little guy, I was calling him the Little Bastard. But he's done now, and he's so incredibly adorable that he is completely forgiven for the pain he put me through.

As I mentioned, I barely finished the ears. I had to take apart the crochet attempt to finish the second one, but all turned out well. I was able to sew the ears to the head with the tails from the bind-off, and there was even plenty left over to attach the legs and body. After the various ear fiascos that made me believe crocheting requires some special ability I lack, I thought sewing would be easy. No. The first leg was fine, but after that it became an exercise of knitting yoga. And the head! I attached it a bit and thought, hey, that's fine, but he flopped around like a movie corpse. Since I was listening to some NIN at the time, I considered leaving him as a head-banging elephant (he keeps good time), but then I recalled that this was being given to a two-and-a-half year old. So I tried again, and while he is definitely a bit crooked, he is just plain adorable. Oh, and no eyes yet, but I kind of like him this way. I'll look for some buttons this weekend and see if anything strikes me.

Name: Stripey Zo (btw, "zo" with a long 'o' means elephant in Japanese)
Pattern: Elephante, by Susan B. Anderson
Finished measurements: 5 and 1/2" tall, 6" long, and 6" from ear to ear.
Yarn: Used up the last of my Patons Classic Merino in Good Earth, which I was only guessing at 3/4 of a skein, or 167 yards. I didn't weigh or measure, so that's only an estimate.
Needles: Clover Bamboo size 5 dpns.
Stuffing: Some sort of acrylic stuffing I got at the ¥100 store. No pellets.
Pattern mods: I used the knit ear pattern posted by BettyBoops in her project notes.
Knitting in Public: The train to Kumamoto and the street outside the dentist.
Cuteness Level: Off the scale.

Now, as for why there are no pictures. Sigh. My computer is full. My beautiful, trusty, never messes up Powerbook G4 purchased on credit at the beginning of my make-up career, is full. And I don't know what the hell to do with it. It totally sucks. I have the Halloween video clips on the camera as well as the Stripey Zo pics, and nada. They may as well be on the moon. It's one of those fun aspects of digital technology that makes me pause - none of it physically exists except as tiny switches until you do something with it. Pictures, patterns, all that knowledge - it's intangible until you suddenly have a picture in your hands or an elephant on your table. But anyway, I posted a question to the Apple support forums and expect to get an answer soon. I know that is likely to involve buying some sort of external hard drive, and that sounds like a pain in the ass. Quite frankly, I'm nervous about doing it, but since my next career will certainly require far more computer knowledge than I currently possess, I'm sure it will be good for me. But in the meantime, no new pictures. You'll have to imagine it. However, I promise to provide pics as soon as they are available.

Just make sure you imagine cute.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Finished the ears, with just barely enough yarn!  Woo-hoo!  Pictures tomorrow, but I just had to say that they're finished.  Thanks, Betty Boops!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Damn Your Ears!

I cannot get the Elephante ears.  I watched the designer's video about fifty times, pausing and doing it along with her, consulting my one measly book on crochet, making at least four attempts on some spare yarn (hard to tell how many cause I kept frogging), and THEY ALL SUCKED.  I'm sure it's not the pattern or the yarn or the designer or anything but ME.  They would not lie flat, not a single one, no matter how loosely I tried to do it or which awkward part of the stitch I crocheted into (since at one point I suddenly had a seizure of doubt that I'd been doing the whole thing wrong all along - since I tried several ways, my technique is unverified but it was all the same result), they all turned into a cone with a big lumpy bottom, and they were all too small.  I even wasted some of my project yarn making up the best one I could, going two extra rounds (and increasing accordingly) to make it bigger, and it was pointless.  It was still conical (so that when I folded it in half, as the pattern instructs, it was a freakin' triangle), still not the right size, and still super lumpy in the middle where I made the ring around the joined chain of four.  And I also just didn't like the way it looked, the way the stitches looked in comparison to the rest of the little guy.  When Ms. Anderson did it, it looked great.  When I did it, it looked like crap.

I did the crochet part, which is at least a step in the right direction for growing as a craft geek, but crimony.  It's just not going to work.  Now, of the 572 people who are doing or have done this project on Ravelry (as of just now), I know that some of them noted the knit patterns they improvised for the ears, but do I really want to go back through all of those to find one?  Or will I just improvise a half-assed one of my own?  Sigh.  I really wanted this thing DONE already so I could move on and focus on the rest of my Christmas knitting, including the gloves and figuring out the Diamond and Smock pattern that my friend has finally chosen.  And the fireworks are tomorrow, so I'll have plenty of time to work on the gloves, but this stupid Zo will still be at home, sitting there on my couch being incomplete, taunting me.

It is especially ridiculous when you consider that my godson, for whom this thing is intended, has already received a far more fabulous elephant from me.  I gave him this Goliath for his birthday in June, in the hope that he will one day remember me as an awesome godmother in spite of my lengthy absence.  But he can hardly sleep with that one, can he?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Christmas Knitting Begins

Technically, it began when I started the Stripey Zo, which is for my godson, but now it has started in earnest with the beginning of the first of several pairs of Fetching for friends.  Now, I love knitting these gloves - they are quick, easy but interesting, and pretty.  But I finished my pair a while ago and am not sure if I will ever actually wear them.  Yet here I am planning on pairs for three of my friends.  Am I thinking more of them or myself?  Well, myself, obviously.  But since I will be spending Christmas in Vietnam without a single member of my family within three thousand miles, they can suck it up and accept a thoughtful hand-crafted gift that they damn well better feel too guilty to throw out.

So I began this first pair of gloves in a Naha, Okinawa hostel.  I was waiting for my phone to charge so I could wander off, and I cast on.  Naturally, some chick about my own age wanders in and acts all astonished at me.  She politely asked what I was doing and I answered pleasantly enough.  She had kind of a creepy vibe, though, and she didn't seem to know what to say, so I volunteered that Japan had all kinds of great yarn.  She replies, "Who knew?" and I thought myself, "Duh, knitters and crocheters everywhere."  I have hereby resolved not to say "Who knew?" to people when it's clear that plenty of people knew besides myself.  Anyway, I continued knitting the next day at a Naha Starbucks, and didn't get any reaction at all.  

That brings the Christmas Knitting tallies so far to this:
WIPs: 2
FPs: 0
Knitting in Public: 
Stripey Zo - train to Kumamoto, dentist's office
Xmas Fetching - Naha hostel, Naha Starbucks

Also, while in Okinawa I did not end up seeking out any yarn shops.  I posted to the Knitters in Japan forum kinda late and never got any responses (bummer), so I didn't know where to go, and I really didn't need to be spending money on that anyway.  Nevertheless, yarn found me. While attempting to browse the Tsuboya Pottery area, but finding only one store that just had the same kinds of shiisa as everyone else, I wandered back to the shopping arcades.  Down one little street, rather far off Kokusai-dori where most of the tourists, especially foreigners, were conspicuously absent, I found the saddest little craft store you've ever seen.  There were some tables with stuff outside, and a fair number of 80's-era buttons on one wall, but most of the shop was empty.  Shelves with maybe a scrap of fabric, drawers of thread that mostly empty and covered in dust.  I mean, it was like a going-out-of-business sale on it's last day, but I feel certain that they weren't intentionally going out of business.  The only yarn they had was this Hamanaka Garcon (not in Ravelry) stuff I bought for ¥105, and some fingering weight stuff that was an odd shade of yellow.

I also went ahead and got the size 1 dpns for those bab
y booties topping my queue that I'll need to get around to before Sheila is due.  The old lady who worked there was giving me the evil eye at first (tall white woman, likely American, wandering around desolate Okinawan store and getting evil eye from old Japanese lady is not surprising), but then she seemed so happy that I bought stuff.  I'd like to think that I impressed her with my polite Japanese, but let's not get too carried away.  I'm sure she was just glad when I paid and left.

But for real, no more yarn!  How on earth will I save anything for grad school when I'm buying ¥100 yarn every time I turn around?

And the geek knitting project I am YEARNing to start is still so far away.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The First Entry, With Nothing To Say

Right.  Here it is: my knitting blog.  

I haven't actually knit anything in a few days, so there isn't too much to enter here. I have several works in progress, of course, as one can see on Ravelry, but I really can't justify spending very much time on them right now, as I am currently in the process of applying to grad school. But soon the application part will be largely over, and there will be holiday knitting to do, so there is plenty to come. In fact, there is probably too much to come, as the whole reason I'm starting this blog is to cut down on the novels I'm writing in the notes section of my projects on Ravelry. There's just a lot to say.

In any case, the project I am most immediately attempting to finish is the Stripey Zo, but the crochet ears are proving a bit too much for me right now. Hence the avoidance.

As there is more time and more knitting, so will there be more blogging.