Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Devil's Tower

I can't be the only one with an unusual amount of refinery photos in my camera, huh?  How can I help it?  I'm taking photos every day and this is my horizon, no matter where I turn.   I grew up here, yet no matter how familiar the tanks and stacks are, I'm amazed at how different they can look from one day to the next, changing in character with the light.  As children, driving past the hundreds of little lights at night,  my brother and I pretended it was a space colony, covered by an invisible dome, on a hostile planet.  Yeah, we were nerdy then too.

Sometimes they'd burn off things that smelled strong enough to give you a headache.   I believe it was my uncle who said that it smelled like bread and butter.  It breaks up the natural view, true, but if the day is particularly beautiful, that silhouette against it makes it seem even more so.

In the suburbs of southeast Texas, despite city council's big plans for the future, this will have to be our Painted Desert.  This is our Devil's Tower.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Neglected Things

 Neglect works for some things.
They grow better when undisturbed.

They bloom in drought,

increase in character with every flaw.

day 268, Ttv52- week38

Neglect of one thing, makes room for another to thrive.

I do have the idea that people grow under these stressful conditions too,
 even thrive, at least on the inside.


In my quest to find some prop to photograph each day, I thought about the little jar of buttons beside me.   I like to photo things that have some meaning to me.  
That morning I was borrowing a button from it to sew owl eyes on a sweater.  It's just an old baby food jar full of my mother's stray buttons (lots of 70's wood -look in there.)  I don't usually pilfer from it or even let my extra buttons mix with them anymore, keeping it sacred, I guess.

button jar, day 277

 My mother didn't really like to sew, but when she did, I'd dig through her supplies and play with this little green measuring tape.  I'd roll it up tight, then push the center upward in a cone shape and think of The Tower of Babel. 

Seems I have something attached to every object around me, or every place.   They truly are props that I set around to support or soothe me.  Even the weirdest things contain some link to her: a cigar box of letters, a locket, a big, plastic bunny ring that I gave her then guilt tripped her into wearing to church one Sunday, just to see if she'd do it.

 day 278, Ttv52- week 39

If I open this jar, which I rarely do, I can still smell her.  Kind of powdery.  
I guess I could draw some allusion here or tie this all together with the holiday or something; but the kids are at home and I never say things like I want to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Need to Give Thanks

I really do hope that anyone who reads this has or will have had a really special Thanksgiving with people who love them, mindful of the blessings in their life.  Personally, I could use more gratitude.  

Thank you, God, for my life, for your son that saved it,  and for the plan you have for it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to End 365 Number 2

This is a how-to on how to finish your second 365 project without hating it's guts.  
Because at this point you'll do anything to get that picture of the day over with:

Just point the camera in a direction and click.

I didn't have the heart to call this day 281, but it could've been.

Take boring photos of yourself doing nothing in particular.

knitting bag, day 262 

Use your phone a lot and call the grain an effect.

Mix regular mom type pictures in with the daily photos because you were going to take them anyway.
Look, I made the poster, I didn't feel like being creative any more.

This necessitates taking photos of your family, wether they like it or not.  
At this juncture in the project, I'd say the less willing they are, the better.

Don't forget to throw in a few of yourself when you're sick.  They're even classier when taken via phone.

day 292 within day 310

Then, a few days later, you can take pictures of pictures you drew of those pictures of yourself.  (I was drawing with my son and mistakenly thought maybe this would make the phone photo of myself with a migraine seem more artful.  Um, nah.

ttv52- week 43

 Put shoes on your dog.

Ah, a blurry phone pic, now I'm really getting the end-of-365-spirit.

 So, I'm back to the dog again. 

Even if some of these are kind of (very) blah and uninspired, they still mean something to me.  I mean, besides loving my kids and their activities, I really do like my dog in shoes.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuxedo Vest

This is the finished Tuxedo Vest that prompted my new resolution about never being lazy about third grade level math again.  Yeah, right.  Anyway, it's also my second attempt at  merging different patterns. 

 I used the waffle stitch and yarn type from Stefanie Japel's Back to School Vest, but followed the circular version of this Wendy Bernard vest.  I guess this was a compromise because I only had enough yarn to make the tuxedo version, but really liked the thermal look of the waffle stitch.

As I mentioned, I kind of screwed up on my first try, so I was completely relieved last night when the last stitch was bound off and all of the following were true:
it wasn't gigante, 
the edges weren't floppy and mishapen, 
and I had just enough Cascade 220 Quatro to finish it.

I think my whole family breathed a sigh of relief with me, because there's nothing worse than sharing the couch on movie night with a frustrated knitter.

This was only two skeins, people! Two measly skeins, for crying out loud.  There really should be some sort of trumpet blast inserted right here... but oh well.  It was definitely worth the first failed attempt. 

Let's get right into the mods (in case anyone ever wants to try a waffle stitch on this vest) :
First up-  I had to research waffle stitch a little as there are different ways to do it.  But, basically, it's 2 rows of stockinette followed by a row of k1,p1, repeated to end.   

I made it according to the smallest measurements in Wendy's pattern with my gauge being 4 stitches per inch/ 6.5 rows per inch.   It's worked straight on circulars until almost to the ribbing, where it's joined in the round to finish.  The collar and armhole edging are added afterward by picking up stitches.

For the Back: I cast on 48 stitches on size 5 circulars and worked waffle stitch for 6.5 inches, then followed pattern instructions for increases on back.
For Front: I unraveled only 9 stitches on each end of provisional cast on, then followed instructions for armhole shaping as with back.
For Body: I just had to make sure when I joined left front, back, and right front that they were all at the same row of my waffle stitch pattern so that the flow of the stitch pattern would continue uninterrupted as I joined them.  ( I had 86 stitches at this point.)
After working these pieces together (but not joining them in the front to work in round.) I worked the sweater back and forth as if on straight needles in waffle stitch for 2 inches before shaping neck.

Neck: (RS)  I increased this and every 4th row 3 times.  
(WS) work one row even.
(RS) Increase every other row 5 times.
(WS)  Work one row even.
cast on 4 stitches, turn, and work them and rest of row to the end, cast on 4 more. (132 st total)
On this round I made sure my stitches were divisible by 4 and began by joining sweater at front, placing a marker there for beginning of round.
Shaping the waist:  On this same joining round I decreased 4 stitches evenly at sides of sweater on this row and then every third row 3 more times.   
(I just fiddled with waffle stitch for side decreases example: ssk, p1,sm,k1,p2 tog), purling some together or knitting, depending on the stitch needed to continue the stitch pattern once the decrease was finished.  I chose to decrease on the k1,p1 rows of the waffle stitch because they blended in smoothly.  After waist shaping, I had 116 st.

Bottom Ribbing:  At this point, the piece was over 16" long, so I changed to size 4 circulars and began regular old 2x2 rib stitch.  I knit tightly and worked the ribbing for almost 4 inches, binding off not too loosely.

The Collar:  The collar is worked by picking up stitches (a number divisible by 4) and working with short rows until the center back was almost 6 inches long.  It's then turned under and tacked to stay in place. 

Arm Edging: I picked up 52 stitches per armhole. (That's about one for each stitch at bottom of armhole and one for every third row along sides.)  These had to be bound off very loosely.
day 317

I learned and/or got to practice provisional cast on, waffle stitch, spit splicing for breaks in the yarn- yum, short rows for collar shaping, and tacking down the collar with needle and thread.  This is where I give myself a very exaggerated pat on the head.

I like this.  A lot.  It's very wearable, good for the holidays, etc.  It may save me from yoga pants and oversized t-shirts.  It even makes jeans seam special.  But, yes, as soon as I took these pictures, I was right back in the old yoga pants and t-shirt.

 more on my Ravelry or Flickr

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pinterest- Inspired

Pinterest is the new vortex that's sucking up my free time.  It's replaced my ripped out magazine pages and is certainly prettier than a bookmarks folder.  It's like blog reading for the attention-challenged, and sometimes that's me.  In fact most pinners wouldn't make it past this sentence, because Pinterest takes you right to the point... the good stuff... and more stuff...

It also satisfies the innate need to "mark" a project or object:

Mid century decor? Mine.
Jeans under a hundred? Mine.
DIY projects involving pallets? Also, mine.
Cat shaped like Jabba?  Mine, too.

By the time I exhaustedly shut down my computer, I feel as though I accomplished something with all of those new pins marking worthwhile projects.  In fact, the act of noting them half- satisfies the need to make them.  I may not have my own macrame owl, but I skimmed the instructions for 5 seconds and have a neat little image of the finished product sandwiched between other equally pleasing images on my "to do" boards. Why take it any further when there are so many other things to pin?   Ahh, a very satisfying day's work.

I know I'll never knit everything I pin, or follow through on all the millions of cheap DIYs.  But I have tried some, like coating junk with glossy white paint and setting it around my house.  I even have a board of finished experiments to encourage me to follow through, though it only has a handful of pins.

And that's the point: it's getting me to think creatively about things I could make or repair without any investment at all.   I do waste time on it, but I usually leave the computer motivated to tackle something around the house.   Like this painted owl.  Not only did my search of 70's owls give me an easy time waster, it also gratified me with a nostalgic warm fuzzy.  (I think my brother and I broke an owl like that in our living room in the eighties with a nerf ball.  We were probably throwing it into the fan to see where it would fly out, a game we called Russian Roulette.)

Pinterest is definitely a ladies world, though.  If you search art, you'll get engagement photo ideas.  If you search design, you'll get cupcake recipes.  History?  That would be dresses from the twenties.  Also, the  pinnable quotes that seem to beg for a "wocka wocka" in the comment box or the  "best body inspiration" cheese is killing me.   But, knockoff jewelry, t shirt hacks,  and dress upgrades... well, you had me at "Anthropologie."  I am, after all, a mom and somewhat crafty, so Pinterest is responsible for more than a few projects around my house.  It's also responsible for the shortage of large wooden cable spools and the emergence of toilet paper roll art ...sigh...  I really did want to find a cable spool on the side of the road.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Art on the Needles

These remind me how beautiful everyday things can be.  Even the most practical of employments can be an artistic process, not just a finished object.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

My New Leaf

"We're turning over a new leaf..."

My mom often said that when I was a little girl.  What she really meant was that I needed to turn over a new leaf and she was going to help me.  I find myself saying that same phrase a lot these days.   In fact I've heard myself say it twice in two days... hmmm.

Well, this one is my leaf to turn over, too. Here it is:

   I will not modify a knitting pattern without first doing the math ever again.  

Up top was my off the cuff combination of Mina's Tuxedo Vest and the Back to School U- Neck Vest.   You can't tell from the picture, but I think it could have fit my husband.  Click this link and see why that's not a desirable image.  So, what you see above is now ripped out and replaced with a more mathematically correct version.  Why the wasted hours, you ask?  Well, I never thought of myself as a math person.  But, if I'm ever going to write down some of the pattern ideas I have in my head, I'm going to have to become one, so I may as well start now. 

Since I took the alternate version of the tuxedo vest offered in the book and used a wider gauge waffle stitch instead of the twisted rib (as in The Back to School Vest,)  I needed to reduce my cast on stitches to reflect this larger stitch pattern.  It's not too complicated, as long as my total stitch count when both sides of the vest are joined is divisible by four to keep the stitch pattern consistent.  What fun.   Are you still with me?  That's it down there. 

I really don't want to be the one who thinks things through.  I want to be impulsive, free-thinking, devil-may-care and other cliques.  Instead I find myself constantly saying words like, "homework" "budget" and "responsibilities" to my kids or talking my husband down from a remodeling high in which he plans to gut and finish our bathroom in one weekend. 

One of these days I'm going to be the crazy one.  Maybe I'll say something like, "You'll have to get scholarships for college, kids, because I'm having twins." or "Honey, remember the horse that was for sale down the road?" or something.   But as far as knitting goes, I'm doing the math and making stuff that fits.    Hurray for maturity.

Ttv52- week 40