Friday, August 31, 2012

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of this Tank

This week's work was more stockinette for the front, all the way up to the neck shaping.  It knitted up much faster than the previous week, leaving me time to work on another project in my bag.

I'm really trying to watch my gauge, because I don't want this tank to turn out too loose.  I once read on someone's blog that most people make their sweaters too loose and should instead knit down a size from what they are used to knitting if they want a better fit.  I've taken that to heart, especially since I have some older sweaters that only began to fit me well in recent years because I've gained a few.

Apparently, the Holla Knits patterns are working for me because this is my third to begin and I'm making at least one more from the first emag before winter.  I was reading about the designers of the upcoming winter emag and seeing that several are new to design.  That's encouraging because I think I'd like to design my own patterns in the future.  Only, there just seems to be so much good stuff out there that's already been published for me to make that I haven't found time to create anything.  Well, anything but one cowl that was really very simple.

(on my Ravelry and Flickr)

This Knit Along has proven itself animal friendly.  I cheated by planting Spotticus' rawhide in the photo so he would pose.  If my finished object photo is one of my lab wearing this tank, don't be surprised.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Unscheduled, Colorful, Climb-y, Lanky, Slightly Wild...

My pictorial cure for the beginnings of a migraine at 11:47 with the first day of school looming: the unscheduled, colorful, climb-y, lanky, slightly wild things of summer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Holla Knits Knit Along

This is my progress so far on the Holla Knits Knit Along, which I am fighting the urge to make into a "Knit Ahead."

Though I like to work on things non-stop (that is, when I'm not procrastinating) until they're done, I'm waiting to do this one with the group.  It's nice to see everyone's progress and get all sorts of yarn and modification ideas.  One such mod I've seen some of the ladies chat about is adding sleeves to the Holla Knit Tank.  I really wanted to do this too, but I tend to have a "more yarn is better" attitude and had to talk myself down with a look at the thermometer outside.  I also remembered how excited I was about this collection of knits because I could pretty much wear all of them at any time of year in Southeast Texas.  Besides, my sweater boxes overfloweth... so, I'm sticking with the original plan.

Did I say plan?  Yes, I did, albeit slowly, as if it were a foreign word.  I'm just not used to being this organized: voting for the pattern choice, ordering yarn in advance, swatching and blocking, planning my week's work, and even ordering buttons ahead of time.

I am so, so glad Emma and Katie encouraged us to swatch, because I had to go back to my trusty size 2 circulars again.  I don't know why I bother trying any other needle when I cast on.  I suppose I've mastered that laid back, zen-like state of existence Elizabeth Zimmerman called loose knitting.

 (my flickr and ravelry)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Free Floating

This is a pattern swatch for another knit along I'm starting today, lots of linkage, and other free floating thoughts.
Feel free to ignore this post, altogether.

I've decided to forgive Knit Picks for not awarding me with their Sunstruck interchangeable needle set in their Pinterest contest.  I know, that's big of me.  It's a good thing I'm forgiving too, because I need to place another order for one skein of Stroll Sport to finish my Finishing School tank.  

You know how yarn orders for "just one more skein" go, right?  My husband does, anyway.  He knows I'll be moving his stuff over further in the closet to make room for another plastic bag full of yarn. 

 I finally got photoshop and am determined to clean up my mess of photos on my computer before I install it.  I'm excited but also dread the learning curve.

I haven't even organized or edited vacation photos yet.  I have 8 years worth of pictures all mixed up and labeled things like img-0215749 since a computer mishap.  I blame the lack of photo taking of the last several months on him... er... I mean it.

My reading list has grown to include the book above because my hive is alive, a photoshop how-to because I'm desparate, Knitbot because it's about time, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold because of all of this Bourne Divinity business,  Stranger in a Strange Land because someone said it was Heinlein's best, and a manual on stick fighting because I'm a nerd.

I have a stash of polaroid film in my closet as a back-to-school treat for me.   I feel so rich. 

I'm laying aside the sweater/tank I've been working on to start the Holla Back Tank knit along.   I've been a knitting machine.  This either means I'm a little obsessive or else I'm fighting off melancholia.

I don't want lessons.  I want to learn to play the banjo, magically.   I don't own one, but that would be part of the magic.

I am going to start running daily and see what it does to me.  I mean that I've been transitioning to racing flats slowly and I think I'm ready to use them for more distance.

I want to watch all of the old Star Treks in order from the beginning.  My kids say they hate it but find that once they begin watching an episode they are transfixed by the sight of Leonard Nimoy's makeup and can't leave the room.

Bees After All

Along time ago, when I started this blog, I bought a beehive.  I put my supers together, painted them, bought an extractor, and waited for all of that raw honey.  Aside from the DIY appeal of having a beehive, wasn't having bees and an organic garden doing the world a service.  I mean who hasn't seen  The Vanishing of the Bees free on Netflix?

But within a few months, and many passes of the mosquito control plane over our home, our hive really seemed to be vanishing.   I didn't open it up and check on it as much as I could have because it was hard to lift the hive body by myself and my husband gets home late most days and ...blah... blah ....blah....I'm a bee murderer.

Every time we looked, they appeared weaker and I doubted my decision to keep bees naturally.   Eventually we found some kind of beetle taking over the hive and followed the advice of a Dadant rep who suggested we wait until they were all gone, hose the hive and frames down at a car wash, and start over.  So I waited.

For a few months I walked guiltily past the hive.  I was ashamed of the lack of activity because I thought I probably did something wrong to hurt them.  (My family teases me for once, as a little girl,  wanting my grandfather to let a tree roach he found in the house go free on the road.)   However, after a few months, the movement around the hive seemed to pick up.  We weren't getting extra honey in the supers, but the hive wasn't abandoned or dead.  So, we let them do their thing.   I don't know if they bounced back or if a new swarm moved in.

Then, a week ago, it hit me:  summer is almost over and this hive has to have filled our supers this year and if so we have to harvest now!  I called my husband, re-read everything I had once learned about extracting honey, and the next day, after church, the harvesting commenced.

Fortunately, we had an extractor that we'd bought when we first had dreams of beekeeping.  This, a smoker, and a 5 gallon bucket were our only proper harvesting tools.  A dear friend of ours showed up with his camera to commemorate what would either be our first harvest or an Attack of the Killer Bees re-enactment.

First, we smoked them.

Then we started removing the supers from the top.

The most red neck moment of this venture came when my husband used a leaf blower to shoo them out of the super frames.  Sorry, no photos.
We worked with one super at a time,  bringing the frames inside to extract at our high tech extraction station - the kitchen table.

I used a hand-me-down electric knife from Thanksgivings past to cut the wax seal off of the honeycomb on each side of the frames.

I did it over a plastic tub to catch the beeswax for later projects.

They were then placed in the extractor, two at a time, then we cranked it for one minute before turning each frame around and extracting the other side.

When the honey in the bottom of the extractor began to rise to the bottom of the frame baskets, we would drain it into a clean bucket, holding a strainer up to the spigot.

When we got to the bottom super, we decided to leave several frames worth of honey because we were doing this later than normal and wanted to leave plenty for the bees; plus, we were out of storage containers.  That decision left us with about 7 gallons of honey.

After filling the buckets and large jars, we let it sit for a couple of days for air bubbles and impurities to rise to the surface.

I skimmed these away with a spoon and filled our jars.  This honey seems really dark and has a slightly syrup-y taste.  But it's really good.  I read that older honey (what we had in our bottom super from a year before) has darker comb, that might have once held brood but has been cleaned out and used to store honey, is thought to have more health benefits.  Huh.

I'm not such a bee murderer after all.  Ah, happy endings.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Knit, Michelle, Knit Like the Wind...

That's what my husband says when I'm cramming to finish a project by Christmas or something.  This time it was The Ravellenics Games, and I made it by a few hours.

My event: the Sock Put.  My goal: one pair of toe-up socks knitted two at a time.  My time: 16 days.  I am now a Ravthlete.

You can read about the beginning of this project here.

I could've knit a sweater faster, but my goal was something difficult for me because I am not familiar with sock patterns.  I already mentioned my first pair to knit and how they were flung across a room more than once.  Well, it's been a few years and I have more experience and have tried lots of techniques, so I knew there would be no flinging.  However, I had a zillion false starts because I kept zoning out and losing track of my toe increases.   It really seemed to drag on.  I finished while watching Life on Mars this afternoon and am satisfied.  The pattern by Ann Budd was easy to follow, except that it was written explicitly for double points (actually telling how many stitches to have on each needle, etc.) but I just translated it for magic loop.

They fit for now, though I wonder how well the 1x1 rib at the top will fit after several wearings.  I just didn't have time to figure out a fix for that.  Besides, I have bought wool socks that fit all floppy at the top, so maybe it's a common problem.

The yarn is a really nice, donegal color mix from Hand Painted Knitting Yarns.  They're supposed to be my new hiking socks since I got the yarn while hiking in Tennesse, but look pretty nice with regular boots.

I like them.
I am a Ravthlete.
And I'm not knitting socks again for a loooong time.

Want to watch them grow via my instagrams?

I know, you wonder how many pictures can she take of one pair of socks.  It's not pride in the socks, it's because I'm photo happy.