Thursday, February 13, 2014

Since Last Time

Here are just a few of the things that have happened since my last post. They are more or less chronological.

1. I went the the annual Newport Spin-In and made lots of progress on my spindle (from last year's Tour de Fleece).

Dicentra 60/20/20 Merino/Yak/Silk in Strong Hearts on Turkish spindle
2. And while I was there I bought a bit of fiber.

Top: Baby Alpaca
Bottom: Blended Art Batt misc fibers
3. I wore a hole into a pair of my hand knit socks. I'm still deciding whether or not to darn them.

Sock heel woes
4. I made pecan & craisin granola and it's FANTASTIC!!! It's crunchy and it stays crunchy for a while in yogurt.

America's Test Kitchen recipe
5. We had 11-12 inches of snow in 2 days, and it hung around for a while.

Poor tree couldn't take it

6. I hung up a bunch of my photographs finally (on two different walls)

Framed prints and vintage cameras
Canvas prints
7. I'm making wicked progress on all 3 of my WIP Dancing entries for the Ravellenic games. Here's my Pippin socks.

Pipping in MadTosh

8. My truck broke and had to be towed to the mechanic.

Poor Little Red

9. The truck got fixed, but she didn't come home. Instead, I now drive this.

I'm so in love

10. There's a big surprise in store for Westley tomorrow. That will be the subject of my next post.

"You will pay attention to me. NOW!"

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Didn't Even Look

I don't know when the last post to this blog was. I have a vague recollection that it involved county fair results.

The truth is I haven't been up to all that much. In the middle of August My right wrist landed in an immobilization brace, and I'm still wearing it as I type this. I had surgery almost 3 weeks ago to correct the problem so I am (finally) getting better, but overall my productivity has been low, typing has been painful and slow, and I've been more than a little depressed. I have been spending more time with my photography, but even that has been slow since somedays it just hurts too much to hold the camera.

I did think about blogging several times, but using the computer is painful and I still have graduate school going on, so I had to budget my computer time and the blog routinely lost. I am keen to get back to regular blogging (I know, you've read that here before and it's not come to anything). I think the blog would be an important part of my self-care routine, especially as I move into the research part of my PhD studies. So I've decided to set aside a particular time each week to blog. There may or may not be pictures each week, and some posts will be shorter than others, but I'm going to make a real effort.

Today, I'm going to leave you with pictures of the last computer cover I made before I became imprisoned. It's my favorite, and I get lots of compliments when I'm out and about with it. The denim outer fabric was from a curtain I got for very cheap at Goodwill. I cut the pocket off the bottom so that the hem of the curtain was the top finishing of the pocket.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Newest Toy

During my recent imprisonment (in the brace), when I was very depressed and absurdly bored, I found myself one day my favorite local thrift store. I wandered around a bit, but I'm not in the market for furniture or mismatched dishes (anymore), so I hadn't found anything of interest. (I am still trying to figure out who buys half used candles, and not even nice ones, but what's life without some mystery.)

As I was leaving the store I passed one of the locked cases and glanced inside. And saw antique cameras. There were a couple of not quite antique SLRs, but hidden within were a Kodak Brownie Reflex and, what I have since learned, a Kodak Baby Brownie (I'm kicking myself for leaving that one behind).

I was in a weakened state. I had $5 in my pocket. I'm a sucker for black bakelite with chrome accents.

Welcome Home
I brought it home.

This is officially my oldest camera, beating the Duaflex II by nearly a decade. It's older than both my mom and dad. And I think it hadn't been cleaned since it came out of the box back in the early 1940s.

Despite my infirmity, I got out my camera cleaning kit.

It's not a very fancy kit, but it's remarkably effective. Not shown is the lens cleaner and cloth that I pilfered from my desk, which is the best for cleaning the optics (cause if it's good enough for my $600 glasses, it's good enough for a $5 camera).

I started dismantling the camera, paying careful attention to how things came apart so that later I could forget it all and have to puzzle out how to put it back together. I'm so glad I took photos or I'd have a box of camera parts rather than a camera.

The viewing lens was FILTHY.

I fixed that, though it took 3 goes with the cleaners to cut through all the grime.

I couldn't get at the front lens from the inside, like I did in the Duaflex II, so I had to content myself with cleaning it from the outside. It, too, was a travesty of gunk.

I did try to get at the inside, but it is underneath the shutter mechanism. I thought about taking that apart, but decided that in my state of decreased dexterity, it might be better to leave it alone.

So then, using these very photos as a guide, I managed to piece my camera back together, without getting smeary fingerprints all over the lovely clean optics.

I can buy 127mm film, and even get it developed. I just need to find an extra $40 lying around. Maybe it'll be a New Year treat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 County Fair

According to my to-do list, I meant to do this post on August 9th. I didn't get the photos taken, and then on the 12th I landed in an immobilization brace on my right wrist and thumb. I was in that thing for 5 full weeks, and it made doing everything difficult, with working on the computer being one of the most difficult. What little computer stamina I had went towards completing work so that I could get paid.

I've been out of the brace for a few weeks now, but not out of pain or danger of relapse. Working on the computer is unappealing because it invariably leads to an increase in my pain level unless I'm very, very careful of hand placement.

The only thing that consistently did not and does not cause pain is knitting. Go figure. In the brace I could work on large gauge simple projects, now I'm back to working on anything I want. I'll post about my knitting progress later. For now, I'm going to catch up on what happened this summer.

I entered 9 fiber items in the 2013 county fair: 1 crochet, 2 spinning, and the balance knitting. Everything placed, (though some things not as well as I'd have liked), and for once there were judges notes on every tag, which I'm going to include with the photos.

Category: Spinning Scarf/Cowl
Yarn: BFL Dicentra 2ply
Pattern: Looped Loop
"Love the colors! Nice workmanship."

Category: Hand Knitting Hats
Yarn: Handspun BohoKnitterChic Smoothy Batt 2ply (yarn 1st place in previous fair)
Pattern: Toorie
"Beautiful yarn ~ interesting design"

Category: Hand Knitting Gloves/Mittens
Yarn: Abstract Fibers SuperSock in Koi Pond
Pattern: Foxtrot Gloves
"That diagonal stitching and the fingers are just beautiful! So nice."

Category: Hand Knitting Women's Sweater Plain
Yarn: Anzula Wash My Lace in Madam
Pattern: Haussman
"Very nice. Beautiful colors and the ribbon attachment are impressive."

Category: Hand Knitting Shawls
Yarn: 100% BFL Dicentra Navajo-3ply (yarn 1st place in previous fair)
Pattern: Ishebel
"Great yarns and colors. Nice work!"

Category: Spinning Blended Fibers, Plied, Dyed
85/15 Polworth/Silk, 320 yards, 8 oz., Aran Navajo-3ply
"Nice colors!"

Category: Spinning Art Yarn
Mixed Mystery Fibers, 53 yards, 1 oz., 2-ply (spindle spun)
"Nice colors."

Category: Crochet Toy
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine and Comfy Sport
Pattern: Zork the Alien
"Cute! Love his eyes."

Category: Hand Knitting Women's Sweater
Yarn: Cozette
Pattern: Eva's Blouse
"Beautiful job - you might want to check button placement."
(My button placement is perfect.)

I also submitted 4 photographs this year, which I usually don't. One of them was a last minute addition that I stumbled across while printing the others at Kinko's. It was a shot that I took at the Pacific Science Center when I was in Seattle. I was walking around the outdoor sculpture "garden" when I looked up and was struck by the architectural details of the ceiling of the outdoor porticos.

Category: Photography Pattern/Texture

I never thought I'd ever be an award winning photographer :-).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tour de Fleece

There are times when I set goals, I work hard, and I totally blow myself away with my success. I'm hoping that in the near future this will be the story of my dissertation, but for right now it was the 2013 Tour de Fleece.

I set myself an impressive goal for the tour, based on my track record with spinning style and time needed per ounce. I usually spin my fiber into very fine plies, because I like fine yarns, like getting maximum "mileage" out of my fiber, and because I find it way easier to be consistent. So for this year, I challenged myself to spin a nice 3 ply worsted yarn. Making it 3 ply meant that the singles didn't have to be super thick in order to get a worsted finish, but still much thicker than what I spin for 3 ply fingering weight. Also, I usually spin in 4 ounce chunks, but earlier this year I won 8 ounces of a beautiful Polworth/silk, and I wanted to up my game.

So on the first day of the Tour I sat down at my Lendrum and started spinning up the lovely fiber.

I ended up with 320 yards of a lovely Navajo plied blue striping yarn in my target worsted weight. And I finished it in 8 days. 8 days!! This was supposed to take me all tour!

So I went stash diving and pulled out a coordinated combo of 1 oz mystery wool and 1 ounce silk sliver. I spun them separately for a target 2 ply sport weight.

Final product was 190 yards of sport weight, with about 10 yards left over of 3ply wool that I plied up on my Delight. And still a week of the Tour left.

At this point I'd far surpassed my goals and expectations, so rather than stash diving again I decided to go for the guilt free option of taking up a spinning WIP that I set aside at the beginning of the Tour. It was 132 grams of a merino/tencel/firestar blend intended to be a 3 ply fingering weight.

I ended up doing a 2 ply when I was finished spinning, I didn't think the fine singles would hold up to the friction and stress of a Navajo ply. I got 750-ish yards of fingering weight yarn (despite Westley's continued helping during the plying stage. In the bottom right collage picture he's laying on both plies and the Blu-Ray remote. So helpful.) I finished it almost at the end of the Tour.

Also, during this whole wheel spinning decathlon, I was working on a drop spindle spinning project (goal: do as much as I got done). It is a new spindle and fiber that I got at this year's Black Sheep. The spindle is a Jenkins Lark in Burmese Blackwood. The fiber is Dicentra, 2 ounces of a 60/20/20 merino/yak/cultivated silk in color "Strong Heart."

I am so in love with how beautiful the fiber is against the spindle. I keep taking pictures of it. I got about 0.3 ounces spun during the Tour, with the intention of a 3 ply heavy lace weight finish.

So this was my Tour, and what a doozy it turned out to be.

Next post: County Fair results.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The best laid plans

I was all set up to start blogging about this year's Tour de Fleece, then I remembered that when I moved over to my new laptop I stored all of my photos on my external hard drive, which I do not have with me here on campus.


So today's post is going to be a bit more random.

I've been knitting, lots, recently. I recently started Decimal in Bebe Cotsoy. The color I have is a lovely light blue (think robin egg or periwinkle). The sweater is knit in pieces to the underarms, then the sleeves are joined to the body and the yoke is worked in one piece. I knit the left sleeve in lieu of a gauge swatch, and have worked the bottom lace of the sweater body.

I used a lovely 1x1 rib tubular cast on, since I don't like the way regular cast ons look with 1x1 rib. It's trickier but not by much.

This past weekend I stash dove into my fiber to come up with something to spin at the Midsummer Spin-In and Fiber Festival (that was yesterday, it was lovely). I found 2 lovely ounces of a BFL/silk/bamboo blend (percentages unknown) that I bough in 2012 at the February spin-in. Spinning white fiber wasn't appealing to me, but I was in the mood to dye. I busted out the Wilton's and decided to try creating a color progression. I don't have the greatest set up to do this in one piece, so I broke the fiber into 4 sections of approximately 15 grams each. I then blended my colors and dyed the fiber in Ball jars using the microwave for my heat source. I have awesome pictures of the whole process, but they're still mostly on the camera. So here's a teaser.

So that's what I have to offer. I'm going to work on getting better about remembering to have a few photos on my laptop.

Next time: Tour de Fleece 2013 (it was a banner year).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If this blog were a pet...

...I'd be in jail for neglect. I really have been quite busy. I've done gobs of knitting. I just finished the Tour de Fleece with my best success ever. I went to Black Sheep, Westley is as adorkable as ever, I just manage to skip over the blog when it comes to my free time. And the more that piles up the more likely I am to pass on the blog because I don't know where to start! I'm such a bad blogger.

I will endeavor to catch up on what I've been doing with posts on the blog. This week one of my work projects is on hold (and the rest are in a serious slump) so I should have plenty of time on my hands.

I had lots of time yesterday, and after an unscheduled nap I had a surge of energy. Last Thursday I bought a new laptop (long and sad story there, I won't bore you). It is lovely and fantastic and it cost the annual income of some small countries. It is also much more portable, meaning that I will be taking it more places with me, and I wanted something to help protect it. Seeing as I bankrupted myself purchasing the computer, buying a case is out of the question, so I got crafty.

I based my case on this zippered laptop case, with some modifications to match my supplies and needs.

I measured my laptop, added the seam allowances, decided on the dimensions that I wanted for the pocket I added, checked all my math twice (this will be important later), and cut out all of my pieces. The fabric, both outer and lining, was left over from the ring sling I made for my sister-in-law (my niece is due late August). I had fusible fleece left over from my brown coat I made a few years ago, and I have stash of elastic and zippers just because.

On the front I added a contrast strip of the lining fabric.

I sewed it down using one of my decorative stitches.

On the back I added a pocket so I can carry my power source when I need it.

I sewed a casing into the top of the pocket, into which I pulled a length of no-twist elastic (cause that's what I had on hand, not for any special reason).

The bottom of the pocket has a nice reverse box pleat, and I basted the pocket on to the back piece of the case.

I also wanted a handle, for those days when I've got too many things to carry and can't cradle it in my arms like a treasured book. I went a simple route, folding the edges into the middle and seaming it all together.

I also basted this to the back outer case piece.

Then it was time for the hard part: sewing in the zipper. Which I made more difficult by doing it really, really wrong the first time, which resulted in having to rip out 2 lines of stitches. I finally got it together, and checked each placement after that to avoid more zipper related screw-ups.

This was my first time sewing a zipper around a 90 degree angle, and it was a learning experience. I ended sewing the corners down by hand because my machine just couldn't make the turn (or I didn't know how to make it make the turn). I finally got all of the outer and lining pieces sewed on to the zipper in the correct order with minimal ripping and redoing (there was a brief episode where I sewed 2 inches on the wrong side of the tape, make the zipper not work, but I got it sorted). Then it was time to sew the rest of the seams.

I had trouble getting the lining sewed, as the zipper pull was in the way but I couldn't really get the zipper closed, and the corners were also in the way and prevented my machine from getting where I needed it. I think there's and easier way than what I did, but I haven't figured it out yet.

I got it all sewn together after some difficulty (and no swearing, I've very proud).

I trimmed and graded the seams, since I did all the fancy math and checked it, too (remember from earlier? I did the measure twice cut once. Turns out it's not fool proof at my level of foolery). I turned the whole thing and got my laptop to do the test fit before I seamed up the turning space in the lining.

And the laptop didn't fit. No ifs, ands or buts, it wouldn't go in the case.

And I'd already trimmed the seams.

It didn't not fit by much, so I flipped the whole thing inside out again and evaluated. I had enough space (barely) if I resewed the seams 1/8 inch out all the way around, and I just had to hope it would be enough. (The seams were easier to sew at this reduced seam allowance around the zipper and zipper corners).

So after I ripped out the old stitching I flipped the whole thing out again, crossed my fingers, and slipped the laptop in.

It fits. It fits just perfectly. There's no ease, but it snuggles my laptop just perfectly. I had to do a bit of hand work around the end of the zipper, but that's not bad for my first time trying this type of pattern.

I finished the opening in the lining with my top stitch foot, I was tired of hand work (I have a small tolerance for handwork, and I'd reached it.

And now I have a lovely case.

And it was free.