Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fiber wise: Inspection Day...

I have to do this every 2 months or so...

Most of my "stash" is stored in a closet in the room that used to be called the "tv room" but now has no name because the tv (although I get no reception and do not have cable--I watch dvd's and videos on it) was moved to the living room. Since it's dark and relatively quiet in the closet, I make a rather thorough inspection of it on a regular basis. I say "relatively quiet" because there is the occassional rustle of small scurrying feet.

This apartment (as many apartments in NYC, even in the glitzy neighborhoods--I know this for a fact) has always had it's share of mice looking for a good home. I used to fight them like crazy but that was simply driving me crazy. Now I just aim to keep it under control as much as possible. It was especially bad right after they gutted the building around the corner. Suddenly there were hordes of mice looking for new accommodations. My place was perfect of course. I have bird seed. But I'm telling you, give these guys an inch and they'll take a yard! Why they'd have no qualms making the place their own if I let them. Little squatters they be.

But it's not mice that prompts me to sort out the stash every now and then. It's moths. They like dark places too, especially dark places crammed full of delicious wool. A moth paradise, and in my experience they're all gourmands. I have seen moths here before and I have incurred the cost of their appetite.

I don't know where they came (come) from apart from the ones that are born from eggs that are in the bird seed. But to my knowledge these very small moths do not eat wool. But on second thought I'd better look that up. The joke may be on me after all.

I have found that a periodic inspection keeps things under control. I'm not one to go around screaming like an alarm when I see a moth (or mouse!). Part of life. There's a certain charm in it all--all creatures great and small. As long as I'm not under attack by a swarm or army that is. That's not to mean that I'm happy when I find moth damage, it's just that I've come to accept it. Nothing lasts forever. Luckily, it's rare. But not rare enough.

Today's inspection revealed a little moth activity. Darn. So there are 3 skeins in the freezer and a bit in the trash. Most of the stash was fine. Next inspection will be sooner than 2 months due to this activity. Also, I'll be stocking up on some more lavender and other herbs to put in the closet to help ward off these house hunters.

Shoo! Shoo! Away!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Knit wise... FO: Brighton Lace Doily

Indeed, the very last row of lace was written incorrectly in the book... I have to admit being glad it's finished! Nothing like the suspense of wondering if worse problems are yet to come along.

But I'm glad I made it and I'm thrilled with the results. I'm even glad to have been challenged and found a way to overcome. It has boosted my confidence I think. I'll post the errors I found at the end of this post in case someone else is having difficulty.

It turned out a very nice 17" x 26.5". The look of it is exactly what I was after. I'm sure my sanity was questioned when I decided to knit a lace piece in a multi-colored, pretty heavily textured yarn. Breaking the rules, oh yes!

It is no surprise to find the lace somewhat obscured by the patterning of the colors and the texture of the yarn. I wanted a doily for the center of the table (or side board) that didn't look too dated. In white crochet thread the doily looks like an antique, which is fine, but not what I wanted. Approaching my doily, from a distance the color draws attention--very pretty colors, and then the texture of the yarn becomes obvious. On closer inspection the lace starts to reveal itself and it takes a good looking at to get a clear sense of the pattern. In a way, I wanted the lace to be part of the texture of this piece, not it's prominent feature. I think it works, and I now have a doily, that to me, looks slightly early 70s'ish retro.


Unfortunately I forgot to write down the first mistake I found, but I will go back through the pattern to try to locate it.

The second problem occurred with Rnd 27. As written (emphasis mine):

*+Yo, k2tog, [yo, k1 tbl, yo, SKP, k3, yo, SKP, k1, k2tog, yo, k3, k2tog] twice, yo, k1 tbl, yo, k1, SKP+, [yo, SKP] twice, k5, k2tog, yo, k2tog; [rep between +'s once, yo, k1 tbl] twice; rep from * once more.

To fix this round, drop the k1 that I have bolded--it doesn't fit.

The third problem occurred with Rnd 37. The directions should mention (in my opinion) that the markers which have worked so well up to now should be ignored for this round.

The fourth problem occurred with Rnd 47. As written (emphasis mine):

*Yo, k2tog, yo, k4, inc 1, +inc 1, k5, [yo, SKP] twice, k3, [k2tog, yo] twice, k1, inc 1+, inc 1, k5, yo, SKP, yo, M3; rep from * for each side.

To fix this round, change the bolded k1 to k4.

I'm pretty sure that the first problem occurred with Rnd 17 where there's an SK2P that should be a plain SKP but I'll double check to make sure.

And that leaves me astounded! The problems occurred in rounds 17, 27, 37 and 47!! Coincidence or secret message? I don't know...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Knit wise... sneak previews...

The doily is done! The last few rows were not without incident and I will write about that when I post the completed doily.

I just laid it out with blocking wires and it's lying on my living room floor to dry.

Full report in a day or so. For now, I thought I post just this teasing bit of corner ...

I have started working on Quercus Alba in earnest, taking it on the subway every day. I've dispensed with the life line! Who would have thought!? I guess I'm feeling more secure in my ability to "read" my knitting. It is important to be able to recognize each stitch in case it needs to be undone.

I changed yarns and needles: Knitting a few inches with the worsted weight on size 6 needles did not produce a result that I liked. So I purchased some lace-weight Malibrigo Baby Merino Wool in a color way called "Autum Forest" which both sounds and looks appropriate for oak leaves and acorns. I'm hoping the pooling will behave itself. Here's what I've knit so far, and I must admit I don't like the "stripey" effect... may start yet again with either a different yarn or different size needles. Pattern is lovely though:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Knit wise... an FO: Persuasion Scarf

It's done! The Persuasion Scarf pattern appears in the Fall 2011 issue of Spin-Off magazine. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable knit. It made for wonderful subway knitting -- that's where most of it was knit. Off to it's recipient in Monday's post.

Don't you like my model? Recognize the street find? :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Knit wise... much ado

Much ado about not so much after all... I discovered that the stitch discrepancy in the doily instructions can be accounted for if the markers are ignored. Sigh. At the beginning of the next row (39) it is mentioned that the stitch markers will now move, but no mention of the markers at the beginning of row 37!

I discovered this not too long after walking the lovely labyrinth near my office. Coincidence? I don't know. Walking the labyrinth is relaxing and meditative, and I would say, centering. Perhaps it slowed things down enough for me to realize there was another possible answer for the pattern discrepancy. Walking it feels good. I walked it on my break this evening just before sundown. Here it is:
If I ever own property of my own I would like to construct one. This one is in Battery Park, around the corner from work. It was built after 9/11 in a part of the park called Jerusalem Grove. In the middle of summer it can be tricky to find because the surrounding grasses grow tall and obscure it. That, and the gate which leads to it is invisible if it's closed. One needs to know where to look for it. Lucky me was shown by a woman from our Knit & Schmooze group.

So Doily Row 37 is done and now I'm on Part C of the pattern, the last section. There are 5 lace rows in this section and hopefully none of them will have discrepancies--or foggy instructions--in them. Needles crossed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My life with birds...

Couscous is back with her "tribe". I left the hospital cage door open for her on Sunday morning. It took her less than a minute to make her departure. Her toes did not fully recover, but this was pretty much her condition before this horrible misadventure.

She was a little wobbly for the first 5 minutes of freedom but has adjusted so well that I could not identify her this morning--even upon close inspection. Whatever use of her toes is gone, she is managing well without them.

Her convalescing cage was in the dining room. I just now came back from the dining room on a trip to raid the fridge of some cheese, and passed the cage which is still there. I miss her. We had a standing date every night at 11:30 for the past 2 weeks. I would take her in a towel and scratch her head--they like that--talk to her and comfort her before giving her the doses of succinor and baytril. I think she knew I was trying to help, and now she's back with her family. I'm glad about that, but a little bit sad too. Birds are so sweet up close and personal. Doesn't take long to grow close.

Of course, I don't miss the "heaviness" of the situation and I'm glad the ordeal is over. A weight is lifted. I won't miss having to give her medicine twice a day. But I do miss her a bit.

Sweet, sweet, love birds.

Knit wise... bumps in the road...

More pattern problems with the doily. There are new discrepancies in the directions, this time between rows 35 and 37. Quite frustrating. I pondered over the directions quite a bit on Saturday but decided to let it all rest on Sunday. I finally got around to looking at it again this evening. This is the third row with errors in the written directions. Grrr.

As near as I can tell from reading the text carefully and comparing row 37 to a similar--but shorter--row, if I change the 'SK2TP's to regular 'SKP's it will add up correctly. I won't know for sure until I actually try it to see if the remaining stitches on the row will match up. I'm hoping. There's yet another problem between the 2nd and 3rd markers on this row. I have located what might be the problem 3 stitches and will try to elimiate them. In my opinion, from having been a typesetter, it looks like a cut and paste was made when typesetting the directions with not enough care to update the paste. Mere speculation, of course.

So, a bit of a slow down on the doily at the moment. After row 37, there will be only 5 more lace rows and 6 plain knit rows so the end is in sight if I can make it past this pot hole.

The good news is that the pattern has become clearer in my knitting so that may help me align the stitches properly when I start changing the directions. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Off topic... Dancing...

Last night was another dance night at the LGBT Center. It was the annual "Fur Ball"--which I will explain, and will need to venture slightly into gay culture to do so. Bears are hairy men who tend to be on the large side--but body hair is more important than weight when considering the term "bear". Last night was bear's night, hence "Fur Ball". Cute, huh?

This is a big dance--over 800 people attending--with both the 1st and 3rd floor halls open for dancing, with a DJ on both floors. Most dances are held just in the big hall down stairs. So the Fur Ball is special... and fun, fun, fun!

Just being in the Center is special. It is hard to explain the feeling of walking off the street into this building. One drops one's doubts at the door. Inside, there is no question of acceptance for being simply who we are. It's a wonderful feeling. Even in this day of much greater acceptance, being in the Center temporarily allows self editing to be put on hold. I love the place. Will be back there tomorrow evening for our knitting group.

But the dance. I have mentioned before that I love dancing and I love it best with a partying crowd, celebrating the joy of being ourselves, of simply being! Dance is primitive, going back to the dawn of our existence. It has deep roots, deep and spiritual. But it is also very contemporary, very here, now and real.

Havelock Ellis wrote in his book "The Dance of Life" (1923),
If we are indifferent to the art of dancing, we have failed to understand, not merely the supreme manifestation of physical life, but also the supreme symbol of spiritual life.
I agee with him. He goes on,
The significance of dancing, in the wide sense, thus lies in the fact that it is simply an intimate concrete appeal of a general rhythm, that general rhythm which marks, not life only, but the universe, if one may still be allowed so to name the sum of the cosmic influences that reach us. ... Dancing is the primitive expression alike of religion and of love -- of religion from the earliest human times we know of and of love from a period long antierior to the coming of man.
And further on,
... as an anthropologist has put it, 'a savage does not preach his religion, he dances it.'
I feel the deep spirituality of dancing. The DJs last night were very talented and mixed some really good rhythms for us. A joyous trance of kinship with those around me, of a connection to the earliest of human times, of a reality all around. A celebration. A dance of Life.

Dance! As much as you can.

Havelock Ellis lived 1859 to 1939, was a Britsh physician and psychologist who studied human sexuality. I found his book "The Dance of Life" (1923) at The Strand book store many years ago. It's a very good read.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letting go....

... of the life line on the scarf. I'm almost done with it and decided last night to finish it without relying on the life line. After so many repeats, my relationship with the pattern is now intimate. I am familiar with all the signposts and can pick up and figure out what row I'm on without having written it down. Will be ready to block it within a week. I hope.

. * . * . * .

Couscous continues to improve. We're on our last leg of treatment and I'll bet she'll be glad to leave the hospital cage--this weekend I'm hoping. I know she's tired of taking the medicine.

. * . * . * .

Spent some time picking out a new lace scarf pattern this evening to use my own handspun in. I've narrowed it down to 2 possibilities. More on that to come.

. * . * . * .

The doily is coming along. Oh woe is me! I came across a discrepancy in the pattern. It is something of a minor miracle that I found (to my knowledge) the erroneous stitch. (I could not find any errata online.) According to the directions, row 25 creates x number of stitches between the 1st and 3rd set of markers and y number of stitches between the 2nd and 4th set of markers. However, row 26 expects only x -1 and y -2! Well, there's a "k1" in row 27 that I believe should not be there (and it's repeated between the 2nd and 4th marker sets) so I've omitted it. Only time will tell if I omitted the correct stitch. Fingers crossed. I would love to finish the doily by the end of the weekend, but I think that may be pushing it a bit.

. * . * . * .

My cello teacher let me know this morning that next week we'll start vibrato exercises. That's very exciting. We also snuck further up the finger board than we've ever gone at my lesson, to reach high D and Eb on the D string... past 4th position. Fun, fun. I love what cello is doing for my "core support" and also how it's opening up and airing out my whole left side, not to mention what bowing is doing for my right. Good stuff. I'm hoping to start taking Alexander Technique lessons again soon. More on that to come.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Life with birds, the flu, and missing stitches

This was the view across the street from my apartment this afternoon as I left for work. A nice greeting for my first major venture of the week, having been struck by the flu on the weekend. Nasty little bug--but quick, so I'm thankful for that. Achy throat on Saturday, chills and fever Sunday night, totally zonked out Monday, and on the mend starting Tuesday.

My favorite spring trees are in the picture. I don't know what they're called but the pink flowers appear to come directly out of the trunk and branches. They have a rejoiceful quality about them interspersed amongst the tender greens of spring.

Couscous, the little lovebird, is getting better (knock on wood). It can take a while to see improvement but I'm heartened to see that she has regained use of her forelegs. Whereas she could just flop back on her "elbows" last weekend, she can now sit herself up in the more classic bird posture. I even saw her perched on the wooden dowel in her convalescing cage the other day.

As I started to have closer interaction with her I realized--well let's say greatly surmise--that she's the same bird I had to treat for lead 4 years ago (or so). I'm quite sure of it. She did not fully recover use of her toes from that ordeal but still managed to get on quite well--unnoticably, really--since then. I have read that lead, besides affecting the neural system, also gets stored in the bones from where it can leach into the blood stream again. Perhaps this round of treatment will remove enough lead to bring her to a place better than from where she started. I will be talking with the vet tomorrow. Couscous will be relieved when she discovers that I won't be bringing her any of that awful medicine tomorrow morning. It will be so for the next five days. After that we'll probably run another 5 days on chelating agent. Fingers crossed.

While I was mending on Tuesday--and felt for the first time that I wanted to sit up for a bit--I pulled out the doily to fix what had become something of a puzzle. Oh, the best made plans--sometimes it doesn't matter! I had been proceeding well enough and had got in the habit of counting the stitches on the needles after every lace row (every other row is straight knitting) to make sure I had the correct number for the next lace row. I find, when reading knitting directions that are written out (vs. charted) I'm prone to missing a yo here or there. So counting the stitches helps ensure that I'm on track. If the stitches add up, I add the row of plain knitting and then move up the life line. So why did I come up a stitch short? I must have miscounted. And now there was no life line to help me because I'd already moved it up pass the problem. Oh oh.

So, in the "it's not that important" mood that I'm in when those nasty little bugs start taking their leave, I "un-knit" a row to see if I could discover the location of the missing stitch. Didn't see anything. So I "un-knit" another row--this one lace--and in the process must have introduced another mistake because now I was off between two, not just one, set of markers. Is this going to have a happy ending?

Yes. Going back even to the previous lace row I discovered... wait for it... a missing yo! I knew it!! I also discovered that the second discrepancy was due to the fact that I'd dropped one of the markers and put it back in the wrong place. I'll attribute that one to still being somewhat under the weather.

♥ ♥ ♥

The day started with a picture of beautiful spring exhorting us to take our time and enjoy. I'll end it with a picture of something I picked up on the street just around the corner on my way home this evening. It's garbage pick-up eve. NY streets are a veritable flea market on the night before large item pickups. I have found several wonderful items free for the taking (except, these days anything upholstered gets passed over due to the bed bug "issue"). I took this home. Not sure if I'll keep it very long. I like it because it's unusual and makes a statement. It's large!