Friday, April 16, 2010

Serious Nerd Mode, Booties, and the Celtic Braid socks

Bleh! I am so down! But I know it comes from going full-tilt at learning to code webapps for iPhones and the iPad. For a Windows girl, making the trasition is hard, but ultimately rewarding. I watched myself tackle it this time. First I tried coding a version of the corporate website in Dashcode, Apple's web development tool. It's awesome for designing the screen and for almost nothing else. I tried designing the screen in Dashcode, importing it into Visual Studio and coding it there.  Eventually, I might could have made it work, but it certainly didn't want to at first. I got on the internet, looking for help. Wow! If I Google something about .NET code problems, I get pages of answers. If I search for an Apple-related code problem, I get ads for DVD tutorials. I suppose the developer base just isn't out there. Finally, I ran across a book by a developer who 1) knows what he's doing and 2) has a good sense of humor about it. As of this afternoon, after a hard week of work, I have a viable iPhone/iPad website developed on the Mac... sort of. It was developed on the Mac, but the .Net code builds the page fragments which are volatile. It's probably a strange way to work, but it does work and works very well.  I, however, am not working all that well. I'm tired, drained, depressed, cranky and the whole bit. I think the term is "burned out."

When I'm going full-tilt like this, I don't balance anything well.  I don't take care of myself, the family, the house, nothing.  Everything tends to go to rack and ruin. I should probably work on that, although George is wonderful at picking up the slack. The up side is that I do learn and learn quickly so I have a viable skill pretty much at my fingertips. No, I don't learn quickly. I probably take as long as anybody else - I just do it all at once and get it over with!

But whether all this work will pay off is another matter. Is what I'm doing all that vital to the company? I don't know. Sometimes I think so. Sometimes not.  I guess we'll see.

Christine Bourquin's Stay-On Booties
I did manage to get a pair of booties knitted for some dear friends who are expecting their first. I adore this pattern. It was sent to Threads magazine in the late 80's by Christine Bourquin, 95-years-old at the time. She didn't want her pattern to die with her, so she freely shared it with the Threads community. I've made booties from it for years, but have always been afraid I'd lose the pattern.  I have two photocopies and the original cut from the magazine, but... I thought that I'd post it on Ravelry, just to be safe.  When I entered the project I thought, what the heck, I'd search for the pattern in their database.  Only a thousand other folks have made this pattern! Duh!  I guess I don't need to be afraid of losing it! I think Christine Bourquin is living on! I have made a few changes in the pattern.  I do a provisional cast-on and then pick up the provisional stitches when I'm picking up around the sole to knit in the round. I still knit these booties on 5 double-point needles.  One of these days, I'm going to try knitting them Magic Loop.  Today wasn't the day.

I'm not totally in love with the yarn as it snags too easily, but it is soft and pretty for little footies. In looking for more information about the booties, I ran across a blog where the knitter chose to make i-cord ties instead of the crocheted ties suggested in the pattern.  Much better!  Also, since the horizontal ribs on the foot hold the bootie on, the cuffs above the ties can be anything. I've seen them done in ribbing, but I didn't like it much. I think I'll try doing them in lace.  It should be pretty. Oooooo, or maybe cables and braid for Celtic babies! (Or maybe I'll just leave the pattern alone.)

Celtic Braid Socks
I'm making some progress on the Celtic Braid socks, but they're still boring.  The foot section is pretty much ribbing on the instep and plain on the sole. The fun doesn't start until after the heel.  Of course, the pattern was originally written cuff-down.  I'm knitting them toe-up so I'm having to re-engineer them a bit. I have great faith in them, though. I'll choose one of the arch expansions in Cat Bordhi's book, do the heel and then get to start the braid on the legs.

Maybe I'll spend some time this weekend warping the 4-harness loom. I'd like to get finished with it, so I can start the weaving. Handwoven has great articles on double-weave this month.  Oh no!  More projects!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Many Projects!

I should realize by now that I tend to go into some kind of hyper-mode when I finish a major project, such as the Highland Games. I didn't go as much into hyper-mode after the St. Francis In The Wood Renaissance Faire because I knew I had the games to get ready for (not to mention a major systems conversion). However, since the Games, I've been going projecct-crazy.

I think it's because I can't decide what I want to do next. With so many memories from the last event, I churn out tons of new projects, or decide to revive shelved or forgotten projects. The ideas flood for a time, and I start, or work on, lots of projects. Some stay to completion (or live in a basket awaiting completion). Others get unraveled and go back into storage. So from the Games I have the following:

The 4-harness loom is finally getting the lace shawl out of Aunt Lydia's Crochet Bamboo. This project is in the December (I think) 2009 edition of Handwoven. With the economy being so bad, they did a section of projects with inexpensive yarn. I would have completely overlooked the Crochet Bamboo, but it is gorgeous! I wove a couple of bookmarks on the rigid heddle loom (double heddles) with it and they turned out quite well. I have high hopes for the shawl.

The 8-harness loom is by-golly going to get the Peacock Shawl, from one of Handwoven's booklets. I have the kit in Bambu 12 and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I haven't started warping it yet as the warping rack is busy with the Crochet Bamboo.

Because warping is such a major deal, I tend to put off weaving projects. That has to change. I love weaving so much, but only remember when I'm actually at the loom. Sooner or later, it will become an obsession and I won't need to remember!

Oh! The 16" rigid heddle has a set of CotLin log cabin dishcloths on it. Since the 16" Harp is destined for the boat, so are the dishcloths. I'm not best pleased with how they're turning out. CotLin may not do well on a rigid heddle with the heddles doubled. I obviously need to work more on it.

Oh my gosh!  Let's see... Projects Galore.

I started a set of kilt hose for George using the Knit Picks kit. He likes to wear his UtiliKilt, but it can be a bit cold. I want these socks to be done prior to the Central Texas Renaissance Faire. He probably won't wear his kilt then, but they should go well with his Ren pants. I'd imagine he'll need socks in November!

I also started a set of Philosopher's House socks for him after he almost immediately wore a hole in the sole of the socks I made him during the winter. At least I'm going to get a lesson in darning socks as I try to repair the original pair. They were made of a wool/acrylic blend, which I suspect, along with wearing them outside on rough concrete, may have had something to do with the hole.

Then I started a set of Celtic Braid socks for me. I spin and weave barefoot. This is partly because I want to feel the treadles better and partly because I don't want to grind dirt into the treadles. I have a set of hand-knit ankle socks dedicated to spinning and weaving, but they're a bit too modern for demonstrations. These socks aren't kilt hose, but they are very Celtic inspired. Right now, they're just at the toe expansion, so there aren't any photos. I'll add some later.

And while visiting my fave LYS, I saw some unspun Icelandic roving. Woot! I've been looking for it for years! I started Cheryl Oberle's Feather and Fan shawl, but casting on almost 400 stitches with unspun roving is a chore. I assume I'll be able to do it some time, but I switched to the Feather and Fan triangle shawl. I tried knitting double-stranded, but I think it looks better in single-strand. I do think casting on double stranded helps a bit. We'll see how this one goes. I love the Evilla PreYarn. It has all the lanolin left in the roving, so it has that wonderful lanolin smell. I know some people hate it, and some people are allergic to it. Thank Heaven I'm not allergic to it, because I love it!

And if that weren't enough (and it probably isn't everything), I started a Alberta Faroese shawl from Myrna Stahman's book. I've wanted one forever and decide to use a handspun single yarn I bought ages ago. I had started another shawl on our summer trip two or three years ago.  It because an abandoned project for some reason. Although I love Old Shale lace, this shawl pattern didn't do much for me. So I frogged it a few days ago and am now plunging into the mysteries of Faroese shaping. The Alberta shawl uses fir cone lace, which vies for being my favorite pattern. This yarn also has the lanolin left in. I bury my face in it while I'm knitting to smell that wonderful sheep/lanolin smell.

I think that's all the projects for now.  Okay, it probably isn't.  I haven't even started on the spinning projects! I wonder which ones will see completion and which will get boring and be abandoned. Only time will tell.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Highland Games and the Bluebonnet Tartan

I'm finishing the Bluebonnet tartan shawl I started to weave for the 2010 Highland Games. This has been an interesting journey for me. I decided last year that I wanted to weave a sash or shawl in the Bluebonnet tartan, and that I wanted to try weaving it in bamboo. Bamboo is kind of the new "wonder fiber." I have sheets and towels of it for both home and the boat, and it's been available for spinners and weavers for a while now. It's an interesting fiber - behaving much like silk in some ways.  Last year, I wove a shadow weave shawl from Bamboo 7 (15 EPI) which is gorgeous.  Okay, I haven't finished the fringe yet, but it IS a gorgeous shawl.  Last year, I wove a Hume tartan scarf in Scottish wool for the 2009 Highland Games. It turned out beautifully, but kind of scratchy and very warm for this climate.  I decided to go for Bamboo 12 (30 EPI) to see how it would work.  The short version is that the shawl worked beautifully, but what a journey!

Saturday at the Games was busy.  We had more people come by the booth that one day than came the entire weekend in 2009.  At least it felt that way. One of the questions I was commonly asked was where to buy Bluebonnet tartan items. It's a beautiful tartan and many people wanted to buy it. Handwoven items are too expensive for most people to buy and I only weave for love. So on Sunday morning, I went to ask one of the vendors at the Games if he sold the Bluebonnet tartan. Wrong! In my memory, I see this image of a man getting crazier by the moment, threatening me with all sorts of dire consequences simply because I was weaving a tartan. Yes, I researched the tartan before I warped the loom.  No, I could find nothing that indicated that I couldn't weave the tartan, especially for demonstration purposes. I should have been calm, but his craziness caused me to be unsettled for the rest of the day.  Hmm.... That's giving him too much power over me.

In spite of the insanity, the day progressed well enough. I had tension problems the entire weekend. The left side of the weaving was slacker than the rest of it, for no reason that I could see. When I started, the tension was very even. When I removed the shawl from the loom later, I discovered that I had not triple-knotted the warp onto the front lease stick on the left side - exactly the threads that slackened. Note to self: bamboo is slippery and has to be triple-knotted at least! However, the finished product didn't look bad, so I think I dodged the bullet on this one.

After the games and as a result of the "crazy man" I started on a quest to learn as much as I could about the Bluebonnet tartan. It's been an interesting journey of its own and I met some wonderful people along the way. I also have a new destination - the Tartan Museum in North Carolina. Who knows where my weaving journey will take me!

More later!  It's time to get going with Easter dinner.