Friday, January 25, 2008

Russian Join Process

This particular join has been one of my favorites since I heard of it and I use it lots.

Here goes.

The only supplies you will need are as small a needle as possible with an eye that will still accommodate the yarn you are using, a pair of scissors (maybe), and the two ends of yarn you want to join.

Basically, you just loop or hook each yarn end with the other and thread each end of yarn into itself.

Easier done, than said, actually, which is why I am here to show it to you now.

I like to loop or hook them together from the beginning because of all the times I've forgotten this step and had to start over.

VERY annoying, yes.

Thread your needle with one end and insert the tip of the needle between the plies of the same piece of yarn fairly close to the place where the two pieces are hooked together.

I sort of wrap the yarn around after I divide a ply to keep them from separating too much.

So, insert and wrap, insert and wrap, for quite a distance down the piece of yarn.

(so you don't have to do this process again because it's not long enough yet)

Once you get a good bit of yarn spliced and scrunched up on the needle, pull the needle (and threaded yarn, of course) through the splices.

Apparently, I'm showing this process in slow excruciating detail.

My camera was giving me fits (and so were the children) and then my legs fell asleep, so I may have lost track of what in the world I was doing.

I was using the timer on the camera, so I could use both hands in these shots, so it took a ridiculous amount of time.

AND the brand new batteries (normal, not camera rechargeables) were already starting to die, even though I had just put them in when I started this process.

AND, at this point I turned everything around because the WIP was on the right side of the table, and the yarn was really short.

So, smooth the scrunched parts down and pull the yarn tight.

Now just do the same thing for the other side.

Thread the needle with the other end and insert it back into itself between two plies.

Do the splice and wrap thing again. It doesn't really LOOK like I wrap it, but I do.

Splice and wrap until you think you've gone too far, I like to try and fill up the whole needle.

Pull the needle through and smooth down the scrunchy stuff.

Then pull it tight.

In the end, the result looks something like this. You can see where the two join each other from the little tiny loop there in the middle of the backwards S.

If the ends are too long, you can trim them, but be super careful. I did this whole process last night and I was too tired to be using scissors, I guess, and I must have snipped one of the plies. I only discovered it after I knit to that point, just past my join, and the yarn was coming undone. In case you didn't realize it, that means I've shot this process twice. I had much better light today, than last night, so it's all for the best, even though I was REALLY in the mood to knit last night. (which is why I forged ahead in spite of bad lighting)

Anyway, hopefully this wasn't overly detailed and decently understandable. Let me know what you think or if you need more detail, I'll add/edit if you need me to do so.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

In just 3 days I have taken 64 pictures? Wow. Well, my son took a couple, so it's probably more like 60 or 62, but still. I took quite a few on my walk. I would have been more, but my batteries were dying. I think my rechargeable battery pack is going downhill. It's lasted a few years, though, so I guess it's time. I seem to recall saying last year around this time, that I really need a new camera. It's still true, but this camera does have it's redeeming qualities.

One of the things that I love about this camera is also one of the things that really frustrates me. I like to be able to control the focus, which is why I REALLY have to have an SLR next time. I like to turn off the flash, focus and shoot. I can do all of that with this camera, except the focus is the type that you push the button, and it focuses (or refuses to do so) and then you shoot. This has given me some serious bouts of eye twitchin'. It has also given me some really cool stuff, as well. Shooting something a little out of focus makes a great subject for a painting, for instance.

Like this one from my walk on Monday

I also enjoy smearing photos, so to speak, which is basically just catching motion in the picture.

Like these

The one on the left, also from my walk & the one on the right from a concert, his dread locks were fun to shoot

It's really fun to play with lights at night, as well. I don't have any of those shots at hand, since SOMEONE deleted them from this computer, after they had been meticulously cataloged and described. (ARG! Walk the plank ye scurvy toad!)


When my camera is playing nice and focuses well
I get some really nice stuff, too.

Oak Trees are cool. I love how twisted and bent and gnarled they can get.

<-- I wonder who lives in there? There was plenty of stuff to take pictures of on my walk, the pic to the right is a dry creek bed. It's really more of a drainage gully, or whatever. There are places where there is water standing most of the time, but there's only running water during a good rain. It like a flash flood place, so there is a lot of erosion.
And where you have erosion you can often find fossils! I found a few on my walk, which brings me back to my frustration with my camera. When you have an auto focus camera with a macro setting, you are supposed to be able to get close to things and focus. This particular camera has serious issues with this setting, and it REALLY chaps me. I tried and tried to get a good pic of something really weird in one of the rocks I picked up. It has fossilized things on both sides, and I actually picked it up for what was on the other side. When I got it home, I saw the other fossil, it was much more interesting. It looks like a claw or talon or something. It also(since I see faces in stuff) looks very much like an eye, which means I also see nose and mouth, now - so I have an odd cyclops looking fossil thing. I may have gotten one good picture of it after slaving over it for half an hour.

Well it's not good, but it shows what I mean, both by the camera refusing to focus and by showing why I see a face in this rock. lol

The mouth is perfect! It looks like an odd alien Picasso thing, right? lol

OK! Enough with my imagination.

Are you tired of hearing about bread yet? If so, RUN AWAY!


The varied flours I got on Monday were very interesting to work with. I let them rise the first time much longer than 12 hours, more like 20 or 24. I let the whole wheat/barley loaf rest WAY too long the second time, which caused it to really flatten out. This means I sort of lost control of it when you flip it upside down off the thing it's been resting on, onto a towel. So when I plopped it into the baking bowl it hit sorta hard and folded in on itself and I think it fell a little, but it still turned out ok. The crust is VERY hard, but the inside is a very nice texture. I decided that this is the type of bread you break instead of cut, I've always wanted to say, "Come! Break bread with me." ( I don't know why, sounds like something Abraham would say )

The other loaf was made with spelt flour. Now that stuff is very odd to work with. It didn't hold together like normal dough. It was really sticky and freaky, so instead of chancing getting a towel tangled up in it, I used two of those strong paper plates and bunches of flour. I really expected it to not be bready at all, but it turned out rather nice. Maybe next time I'll scrape some of the flour off? The flavor is AMAZING! It's really different and I don't really know how to describe it. I think it would be really good with a strong cheese. It was a great with coffee! It's very moist inside, though, so maybe I need less water in the next attempt.

Anyway, it's been great fun making bread and trying out some different flour. Thanks Micah! =)

I'm most of the way through the 17th repeat on the Fern Lace Stole and I am seriously close to the end of my first yarn cake, which means ***bomp bomp BOM*** The next post should be my Russian Join demonstration! OH, did I mention that my next yarn cake is a different dye lot? (and that I totally don't care -- yet) Anyway, it may end up being slightly two toned, but it was over a year ago when I bought the first one, so the odds of finding the same one, not high enough to attempt it! Well ta ta for now, my lovelies, I'm in the mood for tea. (what are crumpets, anyway?)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Guess what? I have a babysitter today! AND the offer of one next week for a while. Both completely unsolicited. It never ceases to amaze me how things work. Free will being inherently human, means anyone can believe whatever they want and make their choices accordingly. For me, though, having my prayers answered so many times is proof enough. I never doubted, for the record, but I do enjoy the proof that I'm heard and loved, even though at times I feel unworthy. It's a very humbling experience. Especially since I've had a very bad attitude lately. I haven't let much of it out in here, hopefully, but it's been, well... I'll leave it at that. Sometimes we deserve to have our little bad attitudes, because things are unfair or this or that, but they easily get out of hand and turn to discontent or something of that nature. Not that I've been going around with a rain cloud over my head or anything. I try to keep the spirits up in general. It's a little hard to explain outright, so I'll stop trying for now. Anyway, thanks to those of you who've been wishing me well from a distance, it's still working. (and I'm working on my attitude)

Well, I didn't mean to, but I took a break from my knitting for a couple of days. So weird how sometimes you just count the minutes until you can get back to it, and other times you say, "EH, no thanks, maybe tomorrow." Me thinks I needs more socks. Maybe the Strawberry Swirl has learned it's lesson by now and is ready to be socks? We'll see.

With my time being mine today, I decided to go all out. I went to my favorite health food/grocery type store and loaded up on all sorts of interesting stuff for my little bread making adventure. I got Spelt and Barley and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Oat Bran (for the dusting top and bottom) and more yeast. Hopefully I won't wreck too much of it, but I'm pretty sure I'll eat it, even if I do =) I also got some delicious smelling Dead Sea bath salts, and a peach scrub stuff, and a loofah, and some very interesting new teas. Green Tea with Jasmine and some stuff called Honeybush, which smells very nice and a couple others. Green Tea fanatic that I am, have to have at least two cups a day =) The Jasmine stuff is superb. I never liked the Jasmine air fresheners, too strong, for my senses, but this tea is. Well, go get some. The brand is Numi - it's awesome.

OH, I was going to spoil myself even more and buy myself a basketball and go to the park and shoot some hoops, but the ball I wanted was gone. I know I'm being all... picky, or whatever, but it really was TOO cool. It was a very pretty pink. (I KNOW, silly me, but - that's the one I want and I think I'll wait) I've never seen a pink basketball, and I SO should have just snatched it while my heart was thumping, (I KNOW, stop saying that) but I talked myself out of it, or rather, I looked away thinking I was being all silly. OH ME, why dost I deny myself such a simple if vain but innocent pleasure? **snicker** mmmm chocolate

The rambling is starting to annoy me. YES I get on my own nerves, don't worry, it's normal for me. (and I can't escape) NOW I'm going to go take that walk, even if it IS raining.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

No, I'm not getting married! Been there, done that 12 years ago =)

In my ongoing search for better titles, I figured that was close enough to true. The couch is old. (That's the back drop for the lace pic) The lace is old AND new, because it's getting old taking pictures of it, and there are two new repeats to report. (I'm really scraping it, aren't I)

I also have a new skill thanks to a borrowed recipe! I can bake bread and it's GOOD =)

I think I could bake bread already, but this bread is different. It takes very little time and effort.

I borrowed (or stole) the idea and link to the recipe from one of the blogs I read, Micah's ReALity Tour, by a fellow knitter and Ravelry person. It's good bread. I need to fiddle around with the temperatures and times, because I don't have a cast iron pot, and what I used doesn't really close that well, so more heat gets in and I got premature browning of the crust. So a little cooler for a bit longer will probably do the trick. It's call No-Knead Bread and it's a really cool concept, you should totally try it!

**Revised!** A more thorough recipe can be found at KnitXcorE's blog. The video seems to leave out a couple of crucial steps.

I'm having issues with the vocabulary today, there are 6 kiddos running around here asking me questions. (Like can I please eat the whole refrigerator? I'm hungry all day. lol) Actually, it's only 5 at the moment, one is over at the back yard neighbor's house. (You know, our back yards are back to back, so they just climb the fence to see each other)

BTW...thanks for all the kind words of support in the comments from my last post, it really helps. I don't want you all to think that I am wallowing in my freakish misery, or anything. Even when I don't realize the date of the anniversary of a traumatic event, it still affects me. Last year, I got seriously ill on the anniversary of a family friend's death. I didn't realize it until a week or two later that the dates were the same. Anyway, since that happened, I've been more aware and on guard when those sort of anniversaries come up.

That being said, I've done very well this week, feeling pretty good. Of course the memories creep in, now and again, but they aren't bothersome. I have plenty of distractions to keep me busy. AND I am drastically close to investing in some basketball equipment so I can work out the rest of my kinks that way. =) Either that, or I'm going to have to join a gym, get a babysitter and learn to play racquetball. I don't see the gym thing being too terribly likely, but it sounds fun.

I feel a rant coming on! hahaha You know, I really enjoy this job of being Mom and all, it's the thing I wanted to be when I grew up. My particular brand of motherhood, however, has put me in a spot, temporarily, anyway. There is hardly any time or opportunity to do things for me. I can still knit, obviously, but, I'd like to go out and take a walk, by myself, without having to arrange an act of God. (babysitter) And, I don't mean to complain, but after being THE babysitter for, pretty much my whole life, (I started being the go-to babysitter around the age of 9) there really isn't anyone for me to call on. Everyone else has their own life and job and whatever, which is really how it's supposed to be, I know, but I find myself looking forward to when I can say that for myself. I find myself ALMOST wishing that the kids were a little older. Which I can't really WISH for because I also want them to stay little and innocent for as long as they can. It's just the same catch 22 that we all find ourselves in from time to time. Of course, I have to say, it's much better than it has been for me, but I'm greedy. lol I want JUST a little more. I want to take a long walk.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fern Lace Progress

Two posts in two days, almost unprecedented, I know, but, since I finished the 13th repeat and started the 14th, I decided to update y'all on how this project was going.

I would be about two rows further, if not three, if I didn't have to tink nearly one whole row last night while being disturbed deeply by the auditions on American Idol. =) I managed to do row 7 as row 9 for most of the width of the stole. Who knows why? It could have been the grating sounds on TV, I suppose, I'm surprised I didn't do worse. I do it to myself, though, I don't HAVE to watch it, do I?

Anyway, I decided to take a couple of back lit pictures to show off the lace pattern. Even unblocked, it actually looks ok.

I'm very much looking forward to getting it blocked to see how airy it can get. I plan to block it rather severely so that it will be all floaty and light. squeeeeeee!

Of course, I also had to do at least ONE artsy photo with depth AND back lighting =))

OH, and I should mention, too, that Shannon suggested the Russian Join for lace. I have used this join previously, but was a little skeptical of whether it would work with a two ply yarn. Well, let me tell ya, it works JUST fine. Great, even. I haven't gotten to the second yarn cake, yet, but came upon a knot in the yarn (my second one, actually) so I decided to give it a trial run. I'm super happy with the result! When I do the join next time, I'll photo the process just in case any of you would like to see how well it works.

Since I am nearly half way on this project, I may just cast on for my super secret project in the next week or so. That way I'll still have something to blog about while working on that a bit here and there.

Of course, those of you who have access to Ravelry can always see what I'm up to in there. The rest will sadly have to wait until the project is gifted before I post it here. (unless you are super curious and email me for info)

On a little less positive note, well, maybe not less, just different. This week marks one year since my first major meltdown. This week through next week, actually, and I don't always do so great with first anniversaries of traumatic events. I've been a little melancholy, but not too terrible. Tired, mainly, because of how much my brain keeps trying to work the whole thing out. I'm not dwelling on it in the conscious so much, and the advice I was given was to turn it over, as something I can't control, to God. Which is what I've been doing. It works pretty good, of course, but it doesn't hurt to also ask for help. (something I've not been so good at doing in the past, and part of how I got to that dark place before) So, here I am, asking for help. Positive energy, vibes, whatever you call it in your house. Think about me a little here and there during these next few days? Thanks, everyone! Love y'all =)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Reading Meme

I haven't been a very good meme responder lately. (Sorry, about that peeps) Mainly because I was barely even in a blogging mood for the longest time. This meme, though, is super easy peasy and I am actually reading something, so I can play along.

Page 161 /Sentence 5: "But I am sorry to relate what ensued."

Too bad it wasn't sentence 6, which is a true to form Jane Austen sentence. It says, "All that Mrs Ferrars could say to make him put an end to the engagement, assisted too as you may well suppose by my arguments, and Fanny's entreaties, was of no avail."

Of course they are BOTH Jane Austen sentences, since they are both found on page 161 of Sense and Sensibility, which is the first in the giant book I am reading that contains "The complete novels of Jane Austen" I am actually reading Persuasion, which starts on about page 1227, but doesn't have 161 pages. **sniffles**

As for tags... well, I'm sorta gonna flake on that point, since this is the first meme to which I have responded in over a year. So, if you wish to play along, feel free. Leave a comment to that affect and keep the ball rolling. Otherwise.... well thanks for reading my humble little blog =)*)

My Fern Lace Stole is still growing. I'm on the 13th repeat now, which means, it is finally longer that it is wide! Yippee! I am getting close to the end of my first yarn cake, which now begs the question, "HOW do you discreetly join another ball of yarn when you are doing lace work? Won't it always show?" The whole weaving in the ends in the finishing stage, seems to be rather inconceivable as well, because, it's GONNA show, right? Anyone have any awesome lace joining/weaving in tips to share? me scared

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Promised Photos

OK! I finally took pics of the hats. All but one, of course, the one that is lost. I'm hoping to get up to the school in the next day or two and dig through the mountain of lost and found stuff to see if I can find it. (yuck)

I made two of the hats mostly according to the pattern in the January 2008 issue of Creative Knits. I say MOSTLY, because I only used one size of needle and a chunky yarn, instead of two worsted held together. (I'm doing this from memory, it may be wrong) Anyway... I did the other two in all cables instead of cables and bobbles. Bobbles are weird, but coolish for texture. My first few sucked pretty bad, but eventually I got decent at doing them.

I'm still making slow progress on my stole, I couldn't do much with the intermittent migraine I've had for... well yesterday was Tuesday, so 9 days, off and on, but never totally gone. KHAN! (I saw the episode where they take Khan out of stasis the other day, pretty funny) but, I digress.

OH, did I ever mention that I love lifelines? I make a weird mistake a couple of days ago, and if I hadn't had my life line, I would have been totally.... um.... bummed, yeah, bummed =) Gotta love those life lines! (too bad we don't have those for real, life, right? Like, oops, that was a big mistake, lets just go back a few minutes and start that over - oh TOO BAD, that's just your imagination wishing that was possible)

I made a little jaunt over to one of my LYS's yesterday and got another cake of the WONDERFUL Jagger Spun Zephyr silk/merino lace weight I'm using, (Blueberry is the color - I had ripped the band and couldn't remember, so now I know!) and another in a different color, for a top secret project. (cue dramatic music) bomp bomp BOMMMM! I think it has to be top secret, anyway, one never knows who is looking at one's blog, does one? BUT, I can rattle on endlessly about it in Ravelry, because SOME people still can't get in there. BWA HA HA HHHHAAAAAAA. Our very own secret society of knitters. SO... if you want to know the secret, I'll have a project page up soon. (hopefully that means today?) =) Oh yeah, I'm Aprilknitta, in there, if you didn't already know.

MAN! I SO should have gotten some more small stitch markers! DRAT - why can't I think of this stuff 24 hours earlier? RATS

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stolen Blog Fodder

What April Means

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are influential and persuasive. You tend to have a lot of power over people.
Generally, you use your powers for good. You excel at solving other people's problems.
Occasionally, you do get a little selfish and persuade people to do things that are only in your interest.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.
What's Your Name's Hidden Meaning?

Stolen from Robin

Interestingly, Robin and I have a couple of paragraphs in common. =) I admit that I have the tendency to start stuff and lose steam, but I steam on past the boredom and finish anyway. MOST things anyway. If I put down something I was knitting and can't get back into it, I usually just frog it and start something else, but I finish all my knitting, one way or another. I guess that's the "accomplish a lot in a short time" - just get it done during that phase, right? lol That being said, I still have a pumpkin in my cabinet waiting for me to start something with it. How long do pumpkins last? I'd better get to that pretty soon. I think that procrastinator should be somewhere in there, don't you?

Did anyone else notice the blatant contradiction between the last two paragraphs? Tightly wound versus relaxed and chill. Yep, that's me. As ever, the walking oxymoron A type in therapy. =) Remember this post?

I think all those years I was saying "I need therapy" I should have really listened to myself. OH well, no time machines around here that I know of. So onward into the future, which at this moment, means breakfast, coffee, a blanket, my knitting and possibly Persuasion.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

OY! Mi Cabeza!

And not as in Loco, but as in OY! Yes, another stupid, dumb, stupid, stupid, dumb, dumb stoooopid migraine. It started Sunday night, when I ate Chinese food that I had requested to be MSG free. (well I guess they forgot - stupid dumb stupid dumb dumb stooopid) So all night Sunday, all day Monday, a break for Monday night and Tuesday, but then, back again full force last night and all day today with a vengeance in spite of taking TWO doses of Excedrine Migraine. I've never taken the doses this close together before, and yet, I am still in ridiculous pain. Typing with only one eye open and screwing up my face quite horrifically.

I had meant to blog this lace progress on Monday or so, but no explanation needed for that, right? And of course I haven't been knitting the last few days, and I may not again until next week.

So far, I'm happy with how it's turning out, the only real problem is going to be a shortage of yarn. I should have known, right? I think I did know, in spite of myself. Maybe I can find this same stuff locally, even though the dye lot will probably be different. At this point, I don't care that much, but that may change.

One other thing, I see now why most lace things have 2 or more lace patterns in them. BOREDOM =) This will be really pretty though, when it's done, and keeping it simple for my first major project is still a good idea. It not even going to need a border, because it's already wavy on the ends and sides. So that's a plus.

I'm sure I'll be starting some other project soon, since I'm already getting tired of taking pictures of this thing. So until then see ya in cyber space.