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.