Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Catalog of Shoes

I live in a quite small dorm room. It's a single, which means it's just me and my stuff in a 10.5 feet by 8.5 feet room. It's not very big, but I mostly manage to fit everything in reasonably well. I find myself hampered in this attempt by all the shoes I own.

They are:

one pair black character shoes
one pair gold character shoes (spray painted)
one pair black leather pumps
one pair black ballet slippers
one pair gold ballet slippers
one pair low-top eco-sneaks
one pair converse high tops
one pair flip-flops
one pair running shoes
one pair rugby boots (with large metal cleats)
one pair neoprene winter boots
one pair cow boy boots
one pair brown leather ankle boots
and one pair slippers (red, boiled wool)

Exhibit A: 15 pairs of shoes

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the benifits of gettting dressed up and going somewhere

Last Saturday was the Hepcats Swing Club annual winter dance. Compaq Big Band played. It was lots of fun. We all got dressed up and went out dancing, in the snow. I wore a bright green silk dress that I made last spring, and gold shoes.

Getting dressed up is fun, even if it's just to go to a small dance where some people will show up in fancy dresses or shirts and ties, and others will be in jeans and a tank top. What other people are wearing really doesn't matter.

It was snowing for most of the evening, and by the time we walked back to the dorm. Heavy, wet snow that clung to everything it touched and layered on the trees and bushes and telephone wires.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Sewing

I got very little knitting done this Thanksgiving, mostly because I was too busy working for my mother. I was home for most of a week, and spent the first weekend cutting out and starting a muslin for a dress shirt. I had to go back to school for classes on Monday and Tuesday, but I had intended to come home and work on Wednesday. I figured I could make the final draft, as it were, in a day and where it to Thanksgiving. Not so much.

It turned out my mother (who I love dearly) needed me and my sewing machine all day on Wednesday to finish covering new cushions for a danish chair belonging to a friend, which she had promised by Thanksgiving. It consisted of wrapping the foam cushion forms in dacron fluff and muslin, sewing them on, and then creating removable covers. The covers were in a thick, loose-weave upholstery fabric, with piping around all the edges. I got to make the piping. I'm not quite sure what she would have done if I had not been home to work on them, but they would not have been done by Thanksgiving. (My showing up in the nick of time clearly makes me a Big Damn Hero)

I spent most of Friday and Saturday working with my mom at the Craft Fair, we ran the food. There was ham, egg, and tuna salad sandwiches, hot dogs, and pupkin soup. We worked for 5 hours or so each day, and it was pretty easy. I knew I was going to be doing that, though I hadn't quite realized how exhausted I would be by the end of the week. In all, it was not exactly the relaxing vacation I had in mind.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My life was eaten by:

So, for the past two weeks or so I have hardly had time to think.

The reasons are:

  • Fluid Mechanics: I am taking Fluid Mechanics for honors, and it ate my brain (but maybe when I finish the CAD renditions I'll post them)
  • French: Presentation (on Chartres Cathedral), quiz, the like. It's hard!
  • Technical writing: final team project.
  • I got the flu, and was sick for 48 hours or so.
  • First Saturday Contra Dance in Peterborough New Hampshire
  • Intermittent bits of knitting (new project, will show soon)
  • Harry Dresden, wizard private investigator
But I have gotten a fair amount of knitting done. I started the sleeve of my sweater, but sort of got distracted, and I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out. I may try again and knit the patterned part inside out to keep the floats loose.

The offending sleeve. It's a bit too tight in the pattern, and I think it loosens too fast.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Charleston Game

One of the other things I do when avoiding studying (besides knitting) is swing dance. My school has a Swing Club, we meet every week for an hour lesson and an hour (or so) of free dancing. Swing dance is a couple's dance, and comes in three general types. East Coast Swing has a six count basic, and is danced to any 4 beat music. It is often what people learn first, and is also called Jitterbug. Lindy Hop has an eight count basic, and is the main social dance everywhere. West Coast is a variant on Lindy, it has many of the same moves, but is danced to more latin-type music, rather than the jazz favored by Lindy.

The lessons have now moved on from East Coast Swing to Lindy Hop, which is much more fun. Lindy is a dance that was invented in the 20s and 30s, and is generally danced to jazz music, though anything with a good 4/4 time works (I'm partial to Buddy Holly). Charleston is what came before Swing, and Lindy incorporates a lot of Charleston moves.

This evening during the free dance, a bunch of us started playing "the Charleston game". This is a game invented by a couple of the club members (who have now graduated, sadly), where Charleston is danced in a big group, but with variations all done together. The signals are given on the back rock step, and then the front kick is changed into something else - a stomp, two stomps, a freeze, something like that. From across the room, it looks like telepathy. An entire group of people are all Charlestoning at the same time, with variations, all in sync. And it's not choreographed, except on the fly. Lots of fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This afternoon I spent 3 1/2 hours watching an informational video on identifying bankfull width in streams. Bankfull width is the level at which the stream fills its banks, but doesn't quite spill over onto the floodplain. It's useful in stream restoration. But the upshot of watching this video was that I had 3 1/2 hours sitting staring at my computer screen, knitting. I finished the body of my sweater, and grafted the shoulders. I even wove in all the ends. Now all that's left to do is cut up the middle (you can see where it is folded over in the picture). I'm really pleased, so far.

The Sweater.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Armhole Fitting

I went home last weekend, and was able to figure out what to do next on the sweater. I was wrong - I didn't get the pattern from Elizabeth Zimmerman, it was from Knitting in the Old Way, by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. It uses the percentage system, but gives more exact directions for different shapes and styles. I chose the "fitted sweater", which is a modification of the "fitted vest". I added a fitted waist and a square neck, with a steek so I can cut it up the front.

The armhole shaping turned out to be very easy - cast off one stitch on either side of the front every other round. The neck shaping consisted of casting off 20 stitches on either side of the steek, it will be about 8 inches wide. It has sloped shoulders, which means a short turn row or two at the top of the shoulders. I'm not sure how many, I'll have to look at the two sides together once I've finished the back. I'm working the front above the armholes back and forth, because since it's plain there's no reason not to. I've already finished the front - on to the back! Maybe I'll get to the sleeves before next week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sweater doodles

Also, my design process. Yes, it is the back of an envelope.

Percentage blues

The cardigan that is currently my only real project is based on the percentage system worked out by Elizabeth Zimmerman (knitting goddess). It is based on the fitted sweater, which involves inset sleeves and armhole shaping. My problem is that I have reached the armholes, and do not have the directions for figuring out how the shaping works. The decreases on the body have to match the shaping in the sleeve so they fit together correctly, without puffing or pinning my arms to my sides. I'm sure it will be lovely eventually, and I like the way a fitted sweater looks - it's a little more dressy than the classic drop shoulder. But it's frustrating to get up to the armhole and realize you can't continue.

I've been so busy in the past week I've barely had time to knit at all, and most of that while watching the few TV shows I follow. I watch Bones regularly, and Castle (mostly for Nathan Fillion), and House occasionally. The only way I can really justify it is if I'm accomplishing something on my knitting in the process. It allows me to put my feet up for an hour and not think about all the homework or exams I'll have to go back to shortly. I had three exams within a 24 hour period, which sort of killed my entire life for the week preceding. But I'm done for the moment, and we have a three day weekend, so life is looking good.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why I Love Fall

Fall has always been my favorite season. It's colorful, and bright, and crisp. Even when it's cold or rainy, I love it. Once, in elementary school, the teacher asked us what the saddest season was. I said winter, because everything is cold and dead and blue. She insisted that it was fall, because everything is dying, and that winter is not as sad because everything is already dead.
To me, fall has always seemed like one last party before winter. The wind whips the brightly colored leaves into the air, swirling them around and around. The skies are clear and bright, bluer than they are at any other time. Clouds are light and high in the clean, crisp air. Even when it rains, and everything is grey except the sad, washed out leaves, I still like it. Better than the muddy swamp of spring, anyway.
It's been cold the last couple days, and it feels like fall has really hit us. It doesn't last long, and I plan to enjoy it while I can.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Sweater

Right now I have only one major knitting project actually on the needles. (I have a couple others that are merely yarn and an idea) It is a cardigan, the first I have ever attempted. I found the yarn in a bag in my mom's stash - she bought it because there was enough for a sweater and it was on sale.

Yarn: Kid Classic Mohair, body in purple, patterning in green and brown.
Gauge: between 4.5 and 5 to the inch (all kinds of fun, let me tell you). I'm knitting tighter in pattern than plain, which is not surprising, but makes for interesting math.
Pattern: I'm making it up as I go along. It's based on the Elizabeth Zimmerman cardigan percentages, with a square neckline. We'll see how it goes, could get pretty interesting when I get to arm hole shaping and the like.
Color Pattern: borrowed from one of the sweaters in Poetry in Stitches (wonderful book). I reversed and flipped it so the leaves will alternate around.

The cardigan is steeked down the center, which means that when I'm done I'll have to cut it open. I've done it before, but it's always a little nerve wracking to take the scissors to something you just spent a significant amount of time on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Old Project, Complete

So while my Saturday was totally unproductive from a schoolwork perspective, I did finish a project that has been waiting around for a spare hour since last spring. The project: a tapestry bag, in a size I've been feeling the lack of lately. There wasn't much left to do - just finish sewing on the handles and install the pocket. It's a copy of a canvas bag I've had for years - the original was red with black handles, and had a picture of a sewing machine on the pocket with the legend "Women's Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society." It was the perfect size - the handles are long enough to go from hand to elbow, for ease of wearing on the shoulder, it's wide enough and not too tall. But it's really too worn out to carry without complete reconstruction, so I decided to make a replacement.

The new bag is made out of a sort of brocade/tapystry kind of material, the handles are plain cloth tape, the kind that is used on the seats of Shaker chairs. It's a little less sturdy then the original, but that might not be bad. I might add a lining with some inside pockets, there is some stranding behind the weave, which could catch on things. Regardless, I'm very pleased, and it will be nice to have a bag with just enough room for a notebook or two and my knitting.

Inside of bag

Friday, September 25, 2009

So you want to start a blog

I just came back from an evening pick nick by the sea. Soft cheese, bread, a salami, some grapes, what more could you ask for? It was a gorgeous day - cool and bright, with a cloudless sky. The sun was setting as we got to the beach, and was still bright on the Isles of Shoals across the water. It was altogether a satisfactory expedition.

Having a car is new for me at school - all last year I relied on the university bus system, which will get you places if your willing to set your schedule around once an hour buses, two hours on the weekends. Let me say, it is highly preferable to be able to drive, and go to the tea company and the beach in the same trip. I now have a half finished cup of Chai Tea that I just purchased - decidedly a good investment.

I am a civil engineering student, and mildly addicted to knitting (the construction and math aspects actually have a lot in common). I am currently working on a sweater for me, and I have yarn for a lace shawl, two pairs of socks, a pair of fingerless gloves, and at least one hat. They may not all be made any time soon, but before too long my sweater will be too big to take to class, so I'll have to start something else.