Back on the Rails

I am sitting on the Amtrak train getting ready to pull away from Seattle enroute to Portland, OR for continued work in the shipyard. I pulled my knitting out of my luggage and prepared to join the second ball of romney I spun up this week.

A thunderbolt struck my head as I discovered what may be the absolute best part of the Navajo plied yarn. At either end you should have a loop and a cut end. I gently worked open the loop on my new ball of yarn by untwisting. I pulled it through the loop on the first ball, then pulled the entire second ball through the opening I made gently untwisting its own end. This enabled me to join the yarn with out weaving in a single end.

I am the smartest person alive, and I hope you never forget it. (I have to say that to myself once in a while)

A few other things that crossed my mind today. I took my luggage to work on the bus from where I was going to head directly to the train this afternoon. As I rolled it down The Ave this morning I was immensely grateful for the omnidirectional wheels which allowed me to push it upright. However, I really need to look into luggage with off roading tires. Where can I find that?

Overheard in line at the station today:
"You got to your pen much faster than I did."
"Oh I knew exactly where it was. It was on top because I had it out when... blah blah blah... but I was in the hospital for ten days... blah blah blah... when you have two kids..."

Seriously? To a perfect stranger it is just fine to stop at, "It was right on top."


Spinning and Receiving

Every single one of the yarns I have spun has been dense. And while they have all been passable yarn, I knew they could have been better. They were all first yarns though and I loved them accordingly.

I am on a mission to spin something with more bounce and stretch however. So I pulled out of my wool stash some batts of Romney I bought in Boise with my good friend Pixie17 (Rav). I think it was 4 oz, but I don't remember. It was brown with a lot of white streaks in it. Moderate VM and only lightly blended. I decided to give it a shot at fluffier yarn because if it came out less than evenly spun it would only come across as rustic.
I have to say, huge success. As I was spinning, quite a bit of lanolin came off in my hands making me feel sticky and lots of VM fell out. It was very, very roughly blended however and I came across lots of knotted wool that contributed a large number of neps to the yarn.

I navajo plied it on the fly. Afterwards I washed it with baby shampoo and hot water with a low amount of agitation. The water that came out was a little yucky, but it didn't felt and it came out even softer and bouncier than it went in.
I spun one batt, then started knitting immediately (knitting = portable, spinning = less portable). I cast on for a cowl with a feather and fan pattern, but the very low amount of yarn I have leads me to believe that a feather and fan pattern maybe isn't the best for me. One batt only gave me about 2.5 inches of cowl. I'm scared to rip it out because I'm worried about it surviving that (did I mention it is super soft and bouncy?). Anyway, what happens at this junction is yet to be decided, rip or not? But all the yarn is now spun.

And speaking of my friend Pixie17...
She likes knitting socks. I hate knitting socks. But I love wearing socks. Pixie17 and I worked out a trade (and I need to get my butt moving on my part of this trade). Pixie17, knit me a pair of socks. I want them to wear with my steel toed work boots. So when I was asked what kind of socks I wanted, I said anything thick and soft. No one will see them. Learn a new technique, or use up crazy yarn colors anything.
What I got was most definitely impossible to hide in my boots. She has named these Sunshine and that is where they are meant to be. I had a heck of a time finding shoes low enough to show off these beautiful socks.
But I think I managed. I took them to the Roller Derby on Saturday night and danced the night away in them at the after party.
But Pixie17 did not stop there. Oh No. She also made me a scarf out of some pretty blue yarn I spun up last year.
It is pretty dense, like all my yarns have been, but oh so soft particularly upon knitting up and blocking. I just realized I completely forgot to blog about this yarn, but here is an old picture from just off the plying wheel. I believe it was BFL. Where I got it? I forgot. Who dyed it? I forgot.
It makes me smile to see all the variation in my twist back then. The romney I finished this week was much more even, but I am so pleased that the old stuff is just as usable and awesome.



New Shower Curtain, New Life

The first weekend in my new place I was surrounded by boxes and plastic totes. This really hasn't changed so much yet (I need to buy a dresser), but I got my bed up immediately. I needed to go to the store for a shower curtain. I swear I brought a brand new one, but where it is right now I haven't the foggiest.

A friend went shopping with me and as we browsed the bed/bath section of the Northgate Target I found a great green shower curtain. I saw some green towels, which I didn't really need, but they would have broken up the stark white of my new bathroom and they went with the new shower curtain. When I asked, "Should I get some matching towels?", his response was "New shower curtain, new life. Get 'em." So I grabbed them.

We got to the bedding and mine wasn't washed after I packed my bed so I needed to do a load of laundry, but I wondered, would it be excessive to get new sheets too?

"New shower curtain, new life."

So I got new sheets.

I took the same friend out for a birthday dinner this week. We went to conveyor belt sushi (first for both of us!) at a great place called Blue C Sushi. We had sake samplers and found out that in fact not all sake tastes like nail polish. But we had to be sure to leave in time for my massage appointment. I was overwhelmed sitting there with a friend I had missed for so long, how great my life is going to be.

Last night I had dinner with my cousin. Just up and texted him, "Want to hang out?" And before you know it, I am in a restaurant with my cousin and girlfriend, and my sister. Now if you aren't aware of this, some of you have heard, my Seattle sister cracks me up and I laughed the whole way to the restaurant.

This morning I had coffee with my sister on my way into work. We are now available to each other whenever it strikes our fancy. Instead of planning a year a head of time and saving up for a flight to California, my closest friends and family are at my fingertips.

I think that this is the best possible therapy for what has been ailing me. I can see myself getting better. The moments when its hard I say to myself,

"New Shower Curtain, New Life."

(it was pointed out to me, that this also, Is an Awsesome Thing)


Pattern: Shamrock Tam

I have sat on this pattern for a year thinking it might be the first I submit to Knitty.com in time for St. Patrick's Day this year, but I was at sea and unable to meet the deadlines. I intended to make a gauge swatch as well, but I didn't. I only had one test knitter (SDMags), I think I made the changes she asked for, and she has since knit up another one for a friend (someone Likes it!). Mine was knit in a bulky or heavy worsted hand spun yarn, Fergus, blogged about just over a year ago (I was designing this pattern at this time last year!). Anyway, enjoy, and hope to see you styling for St. Patrick's Day.

Using a heavy worsted/bulky yarn and size 8 circulars or dpns. There is no gauge, sorry.

M1 = Make one purl
Kfb = Knit in the front and back of the same stitch
CL = Cable 2 k Front, 1P back
Slip two stitches to a cable needle and hold in the front, purl one, knit the two off your cable needle.
CR = Cable 1 P Back, 2 K Front
Slip one stitch to a cable needle and hold in the back of your work, knit two stitches, purl one off your cable needle.
Increases are on every second and fifth row.

Top of hat:
Cast on 8 sts
R1: K8
R2: (Kfb)*8 [16 sts]
R3: K around
R4: K around
R5: (K2, M1, K2, M1)*4 [24 sts]
R6: (K2, P1, K2, P1)*4
R7: (K2, M1, P1, M1, K2, P1)*4 [32 sts]
R8: (K2, P3, K2, P1)*4
R9: (K2, P3, K2, P1)*4
R10: (K2, P1, M1, P2, K2, M1, P1)*4 [40 sts]
R11: (K2, P4, K2, P2)*4
R12: (K2, P1, M1, P2, M1, P1, K2, P2)*4 [48 sts]
R13: (K2, P6, K2, P2)*4
R14: (K2, P6, K2, P2)*4
R15: (K2, P1, M1, P4, M1, P1, K2, P2)*4 [56 sts]
R16: (K2, P8, K2, P2)*4
R17: (K2, P1, M1, P6, M1, P1, K2, P2)*4 [64 sts]
R18: (K2, P10, K2, P2)*4
R19: (K2, P10, K2, P2)*4
R20: (K2, P1, M1, P8, M1, P1, K2, P2)*4 [72 sts]
R21: (K2, P12, K2, P2)*4
R22: (K2, P12, K2, M1, P1, M1, P1)*4 [80 sts]
R23: (K2, P12, K2, P4)*4
R24: (K2, P12, K2, P4)*4
R25: (K2, P5, M1, K2, M1, P5, K2, P4)*4 [88 sts]
R26: (CL, P4, K4, P4, CR, P4)*4
R27: (P1, M1, K2, P3, CR, CL, P3, K2, P1, M1, P4 )*4 [96 sts]
R28: (P2, CL, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, CR, P6)*4
R29: (P3, K2, P1, CR, P2, CL, P1, K2, P7)*4
R30: (P3, CL, K2, P1, M1, P2, M1, P1, K2, CR, P7)*4 [104 sts]
R31: (P3, M1, P1, SSK, K2TOG, P1, M1, P5, M1, SSK, K2TOG, P1, M1, P7)*4
R32: (P3, M1, P16, M1, P7)*4 [112 sts]
R33: P around
R34: P around
R35: (Kfb, K13, Kfb, K13)*4 [120 sts]
R36: K around
R37: (Kfb, K14, Kfb, K14)*4 [128 sts]
R38: P around
R39: P around (128 stitches)
For the following section, knit all rows decreasing 8 stitches evenly around every 2nd and 5th row. I typed up each row below in case you need the reference.
R40: (K2TOG, K14)*8
R41: K around
R42: (K2TOG, K13)*8
R43: K around
R44: K around
R45: (K2TOG, K12)*8
R46: K around
R47: (K2TOG, K11)*8
R48: K around
R49: K around
R50: (K2TOG, K10)*8
R51: K around
R52: (K2TOG, K9)*8
R53: K around
R54: K around
R55: (K2TOG, K8)*8
R56: K around
R57: (K2TOG, K7)*8
R58: K around
R59: K around

Knit 13 rows K2, P2 ribbing.
Bind off loosely.
If necessary, weaving elastic thread in the ribbed rows will allow for a snugger fit.
Weave in the ends and block, I used a dinner plate.

Note: You can adjust the number of decreases around you do to get the fit you want for your head.

Do I really need to inform you standard copyright laws apply? Because I will. They do.

2/10/2011 Corrected Rows 15, 20, 27 and 31. Thanks for the heads up SDMags and bittybee (RavLink)!


Underway FO

I started and finished this project on my recent Barnes excursion. The yarn was Karamea (75% Merino, 15% Alpaca and 10% Possom, made in New Zealand) and a gift from coworkers at UCSD.

I stared at it for a while. I wasn't sure what I wanted. There wasn't a ton, two balls, just enough for a small project. The colors went so well together that I wanted them to stay together. I didn't feel like knitting a hat. So I decided I would just play with the colors and see what happens. I cast on roughly enough for a hat and figured maybe by the time it was done, that's what it would want to be.

I cast on in blue ribbing and and decided I wanted to gradually transition into the green. I didn't have a pattern worked out. Each row I decided what I should do. I wove the second color in the back even on solid colored rows for extra smooshy warmth.

I ultimately decided that it would be great as a headband/cowl. I had been wearing my Ottowa Locks cowl, but the garter has been stretching. I love it stretched, but wrapping it three times under my work vest on the ship was a little bulky and it was getting in the way of the job. But it is AWESOME for going about on the town with leggings and boots, (don't tell Susan, but I might have finally found some style after much of her, Meggers and Special K's influence). This smaller cowl fits much nicer under my foul weather gear and can be pulled up over my ears in a pinch.

It was a struggle keeping the tension on the stranded colorwork even but it is pretty darn good I think. Although, if you look too closely, the green ribbing is much looser than the blue ribbing and the bind off is a little sloppy. Trying to bind off loose enough for stretching, which was successful but looks less good than the cast on. Note to self: practice stretchy cast offs. It is also a little tighter in the middle where I had equal amounts of green and blue (see the second picture) but that's just me being nitpicky.



Coming home two days early!

That's an awesome thing.


Hitting your knitting stride

Working without a pattern, just kind of toying around. You aren't sure what its gonna be exactly or how it's going to look. But suddenly your eyes give it some shape. You know exactly what it is, the yarn just took a while to tell you.
Now, the excitement hits and you cannot wait to see it finished. Every single second has your fingers itching to complete the project and your needles just fly. Then someone walks by and says, hey that looks cool.
That is an awesome project.
~from my phone


Rocking to Sleep

One of the greatest things about working on a ship is the deep sleep I manage to get. Yes, I work my butt off on deck exhausting myself so it makes sense I would crash hard, but the real secret is the motion of the sea.
When you climb into your bunk with a low ceiling and curtains pulled close, no matter how scratchy the blankets or how thin the mattress, it's cozy. As you settle back you start to feel a subtle motion, its a feeling you haven't felt since you fit on your mother's lap. The mattress slowly lifts you up and then you gently fall back. Over and over. Until everything disappears and you are dreaming about mermaids. That, is an awesome way to get to sleep.


All "Mo-" and No "-jo"

I have been staring at two skeins of yarn for the last five days. It was a gift from a co-worker and mixed with opossum from ages ago.

I didn't know what I wanted to cast on. I didn't know if I had the right sized needles. I only had the ones with me tho because I am on a boat again.

Today I made the decision, I cast on and started knitting. Still not really sure what it was going to end up as but I decided it didn't matter it was time to start. I like that I can just start that up and it doesn't matter where it ends the process just feels good. Like maybe I'm sorted out. Like if I can get my knitting together, maybe I can piece together this unraveling life of mine.


Your head is hanging in your coffee. The long long looong day looms before you. Then through the morning air, the volume slowly rises and an unmistakable beat reaches your ears. Glancing down you notice your hips rocking in a familiar fashion. THRILLER! You channel MJ and before you know it, you are singing, dancing and damn near fall on your face as you try that moonwalk thing you were never good at. That, was an awesome way to start the day.

~from my phone



It's dark. The air is crisp. The sky is clear. Quiet. Then, your eyes adjust, stars start to appear and there it is, a constellation. First Orion with his belt, then you make out Taurus and the Pleiades lined up in a row. You turn back and there is the Big Dipper, the little Dipper, the North Star and Cassiopeia.

Friends that have been hiding in the bright of the day come out and remind you that in fact, you are not alone. That is an awesome thing.


Awesome Things

Have you seen the website 1000 Awesome Things? It is my new favorite thanks to my Seattle Sister who introduced us. If you haven't seen it you should definitely check it out. The author was even invited to a TED Talk (also awesome, if you haven't seen any of those, get over there as well). It is all about the little things in our lives that are awesome. It feels good to read. Says even I, the one who believes anything with a happy ending that isn't animated is just plain hokey and unrealistic.

Lately I have had some struggles, months of them. And yet, small things happen that, if only for a fleeting moment make me feel a little better.

I have set sail on the Barnes once again (Hello little guy! Did you miss me?) and at the end of the day yesterday I pulled off my beanie after being out in the cold and scratched the matted hair from my scalp with a toe curling "aaaaaahhhh". That, was an awesome thing.

So, in an attempt to make myself feel better and focus instead on these little moments of bliss, you will get every day of this cruise (pending cell signal status) one of my awesome moments. You got yesterday's goose bump inducing head scratching moment.

Today is the sound of ice cracking. We steamed past the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The thinnest sheet of ice was on the sound and as the wake of the ship hit the smooth ice there was the most satisfying crunching sound. It took me back to chilly school days on the walk to the bus in the morning. Tiny puddles in the dirt road would be frozen over. I would go out of my way to step on every single one between my parents house and the bus stop. With every crunch, would come a little thrill. That, was an awesome thing.