Friday, July 29, 2011

FO: Twisted Socks

I finished my neon green socks!

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Pattern: Twisted by Jodie Gordon Lucas

Yarn: Elann Sock it to me 4-Ply, hand-dyed with food colouring

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Mods: Continued the twisted-slip-stitch-rib down the heel flap, instead of doing the woven/reinforced heel. The ankle portion is slightly shorter as well.

Notes:
I made the size M. These took me a long time because I started them completely wrong, and I got a bit bored of them partway down the ankle. Once I got to the foot part all hell broke loose! No boredom here, just mad crazy knitting! I did these two-at-a-time with magic loop, and that may not have been the best idea. I knew going in that the socks had reverse shaping, but man - in the moment I got totally confused a bunch of times. But I made it. Woo!

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These socks are very clever, and I love the result. This is a "trust the instructions" kind of pattern - everything turns out in the end. I'm not a big fan of how the pattern was written, however: it's confusing to navigate, and some key information is put in weird places. It seems like even the explanatory notes have explanatory notes... This is okay in Terry Pratchett novels, but not so great in knitting patterns, in my opinion. YMMV. There were some things that I wanted clarification about that were completely ignored, while other (seemingly obvious) things were over-explained. Obviously, what's obvious to me isn't necessarily obvious to others, so fair enough. (Let me say obvious a few more times. Obvious obvious obvious.)

One of my problems is I've gotten a bit cocky when it comes to sock knitting, so I don't pay as much attention as I should. When non-standard sock constructions come along, I'm bound to do something dumb in my over-confidence. I know how to make socks - I don't need to read these wordy instructions thoroughly! (Except, you know, I do.) Consider me duly chastened.

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Whatever. In the end, I love them. The toe-petals look just how I imagined, and I think they are so sweet. I may or may not ever make these again, though.

See more FOs at Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's Mystery

Here's my Team Sweden yarn pre-winding.

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Here's the yarn wound into two balls of equal size.

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Where did the extra 1 g get to?
(note: the pre-wound skein does not have any extra string tying it up)

In reality, it's probably just my argos value scale fighting with its own imprecision - while I was taking the second photo, it couldn't decide between 99 g and 100 g. Quite possibly, the same thing happened during the first photo, but I wasn't paying attention. Still, funny mysteries of the universe!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Unphotogenic Kitchen: Pasta / Noodles with Ginger-Garlic Peanut Sauce

It's still light out at dinner time, which I love. So, I took some pictures of my dinner.

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Noodles with Ginger-Garlic Peanut Sauce, Chickpeas, and Peppers
Serves one.

Pasta or noodle equivalent of your choice (I used penne)
Half a can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
Bell peppers or other vegetable (I used half a red pepper, and a quarter yellow one.)

1 clove of garlic, minced
1 smallish chunk of ginger, minced*
1 heaping teaspoon of peanut butter
1 tablespoon sesame oil
splort of soy sauce
pinch of ground cayenne
pinch of ground cumin
boiling water

Cook your pasta/noodle equivalent. While it is cooking, combine garlic, ginger, sesame oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, and spices in a bowl. Mix until even, adding boiling water to get desired consistency.

Drain noodles. Add chickpeas and chopped peppers. Drizzle sauce over, and stir to coat everything.

Eat!

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Bonus: this is vegan, assuming your pasta/noodles aren't made with eggs.

Next time, I'll add some lime juice to the sauce. My glass citrus-juicer thing shattered (as glass does when you drop heavy things on it), and I haven't replaced it, so my lemon and lime usage is way down these days.

*How does one accurately measure the amount of ginger? My ginger chunk was probably about 1.5 cm square. Er cubed?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

People are Jerks; or, Running Update

I know I've been venting a lot of negativity around here lately, which isn't exactly super fun. I hope isn't driving people away! I promise there will be more sunshine and rainbows next week. (Or at least, more knitting.) But I had an experience yesterday that I feel I have to talk about somewhere, so excuse me while I get a little introspective/rantypants/outraged feminist once more.

Running-wise, Week 5 has been going really well. After the physical difficulty of Week 4, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed the first workout of Week 5. Maybe I've found a good pace, or last week was a hump I had to get over. Maybe Week 6 will be really difficult again. I don't know. I'm trying to hold onto how good I felt while doing the first two workouts of Week 5, because at the end of my run yesterday something happened that soured the whole running experience. I'm supposed to go running tomorrow, and I shouldn't let myself quit over one thing, but everything irrational in me is telling me not to go out tomorrow.

I usually run on a busy bike path. Whenever I've been out, there are people walking their dogs, riding bikes, pushing strollers, sitting on benches reading, and running. Although I wouldn't want to be alone there at night, during the day it's not very isolated and I've never felt uncomfortable or unsafe.

Yesterday, towards the end of my workout, I passed a group of teenaged boys. The two I passed were on foot, and one was on a bike up ahead. As I passed them I heard one of them say something inappropriate. I ignored it, not sure I'd heard correctly, not sure it was even directed at me, and kept going. Because I was walking at this point, I wasn't going much faster than they were, so they remained not far behind me.

It soon became clear that they were talking about me. They exchanged lewd remarks about my body, calling out to make sure I heard them. They started singing an out-of-tune parody of a pop song, with the lyrics changed to refer to my various body parts. They called back their friend on the bicycle, saying "Come here, I want to show you something," and as he cycled back towards them, "What do you think of the *insert lewd comment here* on that one?" All three of them took up the chorus again. The one on the bike came back and circled me, addressing me directly with his taunts.

I thought about starting to run again to get away from them more quickly, but I didn't want them to think I was feeling nervous or threatened - I worried they might give chase. So I did not respond, made up scathing retorts in my head that I would never say, and kept walking as they hurled abuse.

Eventually, I passed a couple with a dog going the opposite way, and I think the assholes fell back a bit. They started their harassment at a point when the four of us were alone, and nobody else was in earshot. Once more people appeared, they no longer called out to me. I'm not sure exactly when they stopped following me, since I didn't look behind me - I didn't want to acknowledge their presence. They had stopped by the time I left the bike path, and I made sure they didn't follow me home.

As sexual harassment goes, this was pretty mild, but it ruined my day and my workout, and I'm not feeling at all enthusiastic about going running tomorrow. When the cyclist was circling me and the two losers behind me were taunting, I felt the tiniest approximation of what it might feel like to be swarmed. There were only three of them, after all, but three idiot teenagers together will do more than one idiot teenager alone. I find myself completely unable to relate to people like that. What makes them think it's okay to ridicule other people?

I am not ashamed of my body, and I don't want to give anyone else the satisfaction of making me feel uncomfortable, but the whole situation left me a bit rattled.

I will probably run somewhere else if I go tomorrow. At the beginning of this exercise, I wanted to convince myself that running was an enjoyable and worthy activity. Just when I was starting to enjoy the exercise part, some losers came and made it suck. I hope I can make it good again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Escape

I've become a bit of a homebody lately, and my unemployment has encouraged some bad habits. I find it all too easy to slip into a hermit-like existence, especially when life is being discouraging. My typical days consist of sleeping in longer than I should, reading, knitting, fooling around on the internet, housework stuff, job applications, drinking tea, and eating - not necessarily in that order. I go out in order to run, get groceries, distribute CVs, go to the library, and do volunteer work, but I don't seem to do much wandering around town these days. When I do wander, I usually discover things I haven't noticed before.

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Awesome doors I've passed many times, but never really focused on until yesterday

This week there's some construction happening outside that involves drilling, machines, and pounding crap into the ground from 8:30 am until past 5:30 pm. I don't know what they are doing, but the constant almost-rhythmic thumping sets my teeth on edge and makes it difficult to concentrate. It's driving me mad. I feel like an Edgar Allan Poe character. At least it gets me out of bed early and makes me anxious to get the hell out of the flat and far away from the din.

It's good to get out more. I might as well... I have plenty of time to waste - better to wander around outside than spend it looking at photos of people I don't care about on facebook. I know hiding from the world won't get me anywhere, but sometimes it takes horribly noisy builders to drive me outside and remember that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Things I like lately

In no particular order, here are some things I like lately...

A Playful Day knitting blog and podcast - I've never really gotten into podcasts, but I'm really enjoying this one! I need the periodic reminder that life can still be playful. (Plus, she has awesome giveaways.)

CMOT Dibbler Discworld Badges - I especially like the Ook librarian badge!

Sweet Potato fries - I've had these in pubs, but never tried making my own.

Briolette earrings - last year I'd never ever heard the term briolette, although I actually have some earrings that would probably count.

Guide to Edinburgh Vintage and Charity Shops by Oranges and Apples - This looks like a good resource. I've explored the charity shops in my area, but one of these days I'll go adventuring to the others she mentions.

This inexpensive yet bridal dress - I wonder if I could pull it off. More to the point, can one still have a lacey knitted shawl if the dress is lacey? Things to think about.

Steampunk jewelry - I don't wear much jewelry, but maybe I would if more of it involved steampunk owls? Heh.

Ditto for Antiqued octopus neclaces.

365 Jars project - Every day, Kirsty Hall lets loose a jar full of art into the world, and encourages people to go out and find them.

Zucchini noodles - looks like a fun spaghetti alternative.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Semi-solid attempt #1

The other day I dyed yarn in the oven for the first time, loosely following this tutorial. A lot of people set hand-painted yarn in the microwave, and I have tried this once in the past with not so brilliant results. Since I currently don't have a microwave, and the idea of cooking plastic wrap in any device sort of bothers me, I thought I'd try the oven.

Since I love semi-solid yarns, I attempted to produce some this time. I've done semi-solid tonal colours on the stove, just by virtue of uneven dye distribution - what I mean by tonal is different concentrations of the same colour dye. In this case I wanted to try semi-solid using different colours. The idea was to mix up a few colours of dye, paint them on the yarn, mush it around a bit, and then bake it. I tried to mix up dye solutions that were close variations - not too contrasting or clashing. Unfortunately, dye solutions that are various shades of greeny blue all kind of look black in the jar, and I was too lazy to try the paper towel or flour tests.*

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The above photo (sorry about the flash) shows the pre-baked handpainted yarn. As you can see, the colours I made were quite contrast-y. Oops. I decided to bake it and see what happened, even though I didn't think it would turn out semi-solid. I didn't take a picture of the result, but it wasn't to my liking. There was more neon green than I'd hoped, and it looked weird with the blackish-blue. (Neon green is awesome, but I already have socks on the go in that shade, and was looking for something else!) I decided to dye it again, this time on the stove.

And tada!

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I over-dyed it blue, and I quite like these results. The blue toned down the neon green and while it's still quite variegated, the colours are less contrasted now. I am curious to see how this knits up. Whether or not this is a semi-solid fail remains to be seen, but I really like it all the same!

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This is 100g of 75% wool, 25% nylon sock yarn. Once again, my camera sucks at capturing green. Imagine there are streaks of slightly brighter yellow-green running through this, in addition to the blue-greens.

*Testing a few drops of dye solution on a paper towl or in a small amount of white flour is supposed to give you an idea of what colour the yarn will come out. I'm not sure if this works, since I never do it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 4

I'm on week 4 of the Couch to 5k running program. This week, the amount of time spent jogging in each workout is longer than the walking time. No surprise that this week has been physically the hardest for me so far. I take this as a sign that I'm making progress - I've moved out of my comfort zone, into hard work.

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I read with interest your comments and advice about distracting my brain while running. Several of your suggested I keep track of distances rather than times. It's a good idea, but here's why I'm not doing that.

I have a way of keeping track of the time precisely, but I don't have a good way of keeping track of distances, except in general terms, since I don't run on a track and there aren't many distance sign posts. I've found that estimating distances makes me more likely to cheat - "Oh, this is about 400 m..." *shifty eyes* .

So instead, as a compromise between checking time and checking distances, I've started only checking my watch when I reach certain landmarks along the way. This is kind of a roundabout way of keeping track of things, but so far it keeps my brain occupied, which is the important thing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WIP: lumpy lace

Here's a WIP I haven't mentioned in a while.

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The lumpy lace will one day be a Honeybee Cardigan. Don't let the crumpledness and straight needle deceive you - this cardigan is knit seamlessly. The picture shows the fronts and back up to the underarms. The reason it is so crumpled and on a straight needle is one part gauge trouble, one part metric conversion fail, one part brokeness, and three parts stubbornness. (That's right, there are six parts to this snafu. I don't know.)

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Here's what happened. I couldn't get gauge on the suggested needles, so I moved down a size, which I only have in straight needles, dpns, and a very short circular. I got gauge, and started the thing on straight needles before my trip home in April, planning to buy some longer circular needles of the right size at the LYS in Ottawa, since they carry circulars with flexible cables that I like. (Hiya Hiyas, in case anyone is wondering). I went to the yarn store, bought several circular needles to round out my collection, left, eventually flew back to the UK, and took stock.

Oops. I needed 3.0 mm circular needles. I bought US size 3s. Now I have a 3.25 mm circular, which isn't a problem and I know will come in handy eventually, but it doesn't help me for this sweater. Never mind! As to why I haven't gone out and bought the right size circular needle, it's mostly stubborness at this point. Now that I'm at the underarms and working on the sleeves, I'll have to come up with a proper needle, I guess. Sigh. What, ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away? ;)

More wips at Tami's Amis!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

FO: Entomology Mittens

My bug mitts are finished! According to my ravelry notes it took me a month, but it felt even faster. Super fast for me and colourwork, I guess.

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Pattern: Entomology Mittens, by Adrian Bizilia

Yarn: Mystery yarn from my mom's stash, same as I used for her snail mittens last year. It's a rough, rustic, sticky single that isn't the same thickness throughout, but generally fingering/sport weight.

Notes:
I found this colourwork pattern to be very intuitive, which is one reason it went so quickly. For the palm, I didn't need to look at the chart once I'd done a few rows; for the back of the hands, I consulted the chart to make the beetles, but the little crosses on the sides happened almost automatically.

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I had some wonky tension things going on, but they mostly blocked out. If you look closely, you can see that one side of the palm is neater than the other. This happened on both mittens, and I'm not sure why. My best guess is that the way the mitten hung off the needles while I was working on the second half of the palm changed my tension. Or something. Anyway, it doesn't bother me too much.

This was a really fun knit, except for the thumbs. Argh, the thumbs! I've done afterthought thumbs like these before, but I must have pushed the experience out of my mind. Unlike some, I don't really mind how the afterthought thumbs fit, but I found creating them to be incredibly fiddly. Removing the waste yarn knit into the palm and picking up the stitches at the base of the thumb was easy, but for some reason figuring out which miscellaneous loops were stitches for the top of the thumb was very difficult. I meant to scour the internet for hints after the first mitten, but then I couldn't be bothered, so blundered through the second thumb in the same manner. They turned out fine, but I didn't enjoy doing them. Does anyone out there have any tips for stress-free afterthought thumbs?

Anyway. Thumbs aside, I loved making these mittens and would totally make them again. Except I have about 10 more stranded colourwork mitten patterns in my queue/library to get started on. This winter I will have warm, cozy hands.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Year One

July 6th, 2010, I got off the plane at Gatwick airport, collected my one suitcase stuffed full of my material possessions, and set out for a great adventure. After three years only seeing my dear for 2 weeks every 4-6 months, I crossed the pond to be with him full-time. With a shiny new MLIS in tow, I thought I was ready to start my career in a new place.

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Photo from last summer in Exeter

I love living in Edinburgh. I like wandering around the picturesque parts of town taking pictures. I love living with my love and seeing him every day. I love our flat and its location. I like my volunteer work, and the people I meet.

Getting off that plane last July, I'm fairly sure it never occurred to me that I'd still be unemployed a year later and looking for any work, any work at all, who cares about libraries. (Okay, I'll shut up about being foreign and jobless. Or maybe I won't. This is my blog, after all). Then again, I also didn't expect to be planning a wedding by this point, either. Surprises all around! I've got another job interview today - how fitting if I finally get hired just over a year after arriving. Fingers crossed.

The last year has been a pretty great adventure. Although I've settled into routines and don't go exploring as much, I'm still having adventures.

More knitting soon, I promise.

Monday, July 04, 2011

cool running

I've started running again using the Couch to 5k training plan. A few years ago I tried this plan, and it worked pretty well to a point. For various reasons, I didn't manage to get to 5K or stick with it that time, but I'm hoping this time I'll do better. There are some lovely places to run around here, and the climate is such that I should be able to run year-round... if I have the right attitude.

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A picture from the spring - those are petals, not snowflakes.

As of tomorrow, I'll be on Week 3 of 9. So far so good, but since I failed somewhere around Week 6 last time I tried, I'm preparing myself for the difficulties ahead. Although I'm not in the greatest shape, my biggest problem when running is mental. The first few weeks of this training plan alternate running for a short time with walking for a short time - figuring out when to start running and when to start walking gives my brain something to do. I think it even distracts me from the fact that I'm exercising. I can handle checking my watch ever two minutes or so, to know when to switch.

Where I get into trouble is running for 8 or 10 minutes at a stretch. There is no need to check my watch every 2 minutes, and doing so becomes a bit depressing: oh, still another 7 minutes to go. I begin to feel like I'm too tired to continue, although I suspect if I wasn't thinking about how long I still had to go, I wouldn't feel so tired. So. I need some way of distracting myself in the coming weeks.

The obvious answer is an mp3 player of some variety. I'm resisting that solution because I don't have one (GASP), and in the past (discman era)didn't really enjoy having music piped straight into my ears. I find it disorients me for some reason. Also, I never had much luck with earbuds staying in when I was bouncing around.

Any suggestions?