Monday, August 29, 2011

Mixing it up: stripes

Self-striping yarn is just so darn fun to knit with. The yarn colors look so cool all mixed up on the ball so sometimes the results are much more stripey than I want. This is some Supersocke 100 Wellness-color 1070 sock yarn I was given.
When knit, the stripes can be much wider than expected. See the toe of the sock.
If you want wide stripes, fine. But if you don't, the solution is to knit with both ends of the yarn. Pull out the center of the ball and use it as well as the yarn that comes from the outside of the ball, knitting alternate rows with them. If you happen to get both yarns going in the same color, edit out a little of the yarn. (That only happened to me twice in the pair of socks I knit.) The results using alternating rows looked much more like the ball of yarn. I'm sure these socks are going to lift my spirits when I wear them.
Technical tip: The yarns will get twisted. Every so often, grab the two yarns and pull them away from each other, letting the sock twirl in the air. It will get the socks prepared for dancing later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Walking in northern waters

 We finally made up to Door County, that little thumb of northern Wisconsin that sticks out into Lake Michigan. It's a beautiful and popular vacation destination. Driving 4 hours to it from Madison reminded me how big Wisconsin is.
  There are lots of picturesque sights, such as the Door County Ice Cream Factory and the church across the street. The ice cream was just as delicious as vacation ice cream ought to be.
One day we canoed up the Mink River Estuary, a special area that has been protected by the Nature Conservancy. It's possible to rent canoes and kayaks right on Rowley Bay near the entry to the estuary, but we borrowed a friend's canoe.
Water and hiking opportunities abound in Door County. There are five state parks and and numerous state natural areas. Even though Door County is very popular, short hikes can take you away from any crowd. We visited Toft Point to enjoy this water in solitude.
But wait, what about combining my favorite new sport of water watching with hiking? Peter knew a way to walk from Washington Island to Rock Island, the nearby island that is a state park. It seemed like it was over a kilometer (.62mile). This picture shows Rock Island in the distance from the beach on Washington Island.
The water was up to our knees most of the way and a wave got Mr. Rududu wet considerably higher than that. We felt very adventurous and we discovered that "water walking" is very good exercise for the legs, indeed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Water to the west

  On our recent trip to the Northwest U.S. by train, we didn't expect to see a lot of water until we got to the ocean. However, there were miles and miles of Great Plains under water due to the massive flooding there this summer.
In fact, our train was the first westbound train on that route for about a month. The station at Minot, North Dakota was still closed due to water damage.
   Once we we got to the Pacific, most of our time was devoted to watching water from a boat. The San Juan Islands area is surely one of the most scenic places on earth.
I was fascinated by the little ferries that take vehicles and goods to the smaller islands. I tried to imagine day-to-day life in such a beautiful place where most things happen by boat.
 The sky and the water often joined to cast a dreamy spell on me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Living with the errors of my ways

   I have an aversion to going backwards—and that includes correcting mistakes in my knitting. In rationalizing decisions to leave errors, I balance the gravity of the mistake with how much work it will take to fix it. A dropped stitch about 1000 stitches back? Fix it with a little bit of yarn sewn through it. A major booboo right in the front of the sweater? Bite the bullet and rip it back.
   Two pairs of socks I finished this month have errors that I decided not to fix. I had already ripped and reknit various parts of the Milo socks from Cookie A's Sock Innovation when I discovered a mistake in the cable on the back of the second sock. I decided to not go back some 20 rows to fix the cable out of a combination of laziness and admiration for the way my newly invented cable looked. OK, mostly laziness. If I had been on the first sock I would have made the second one with the same, design variation. 
I love these socks and I'm happy to have them finally finished so I can wear them. (I started them about a year ago.)
   In the other pair of socks, I made an unfortunate decision to combine a gorgeous eggplant purple and a knit and purl pattern that is hard to follow. The yarn was so dark that I needed a bright light and sometimes a magnifying glass to figure out where I was. Thus, I sometimes discovered that 6 rows back I had repeated a row; the mistake just wasn't visible until I had knit quite a bit more. My decision to forge ahead was based on the fact that when stretched out on the foot you can't see the pattern anyhow. It does make a pleasant pebbly texture, but the work-to-glory ratio was not good. It's probably a fine stitch pattern for a sweater, but not for anything worn stretched. I'm happy I finished both of these pairs of socks so I can go on to other projects. Onward!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Favorite bunnies

   For a long time I thought I was born in the Chinese year of the dragon. Then I realized that the Chinese year is lunar and because of my January birthday I was actually born in the preceding year— under the sign of the hare.
I felt a little deflated but, truth be told, I'm not a particularly brave person. And I really like bunnies.
   I didn't even notice until now that 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. To celebrate, here are some pictures of some of my favorite bunnies.  They include very small souvenirs from Japan.
 Of course rabbits are fun to knit. One of my favorite toy patterns is the Chubby Bunny by Susan B. Anderson, found in her book Itty-Bitty Nursery.  Here are my chubby bunnies.
Bunnies are probably friendlier with each other than dragons.