Saturday, June 27, 2009

Link Makes Noise *grin*

This is my current favorite Weird Al song, and is particularly apposite given all the furor about Michael Jackson's recent demise. It is, and must be, a link, because embedding is disabled for this video--but totally worth 5 minutes on YouTube.

A warning: if you have not heard Bad, by Michael Jackson, it verges on the uncomfortable, being essentially fat jokes (I am probably over-sensitive on this point--I watched it without having heard the song it's a parody of, and I am profoundly uncomfortable with poking fun *at people* [though I poke fun all the time]. So my first reaction may not be the best gauge). But if you have heard Bad, and especially if you have watched the music video for Bad--O.M.G. hysterical. As a matter of fact, if you watch the original music video immediately after the parody, I can almost guarantee that you'll laugh out loud.

Weird Al is probably the greatest parodic genius ever, and most certainly the greatest parodiest I have ever encountered (is parodiest a word? It is now, at least). Carol Burnett comes close, perhaps--have you ever seen Went with the Wind? Go, watch it now--it's on YouTube. Anyway, he is partly so fabulous because he copies not only meter and line (while completely changing the sense), but also he satirizes the singers, and the videos, nearly as perfectly (some things have to be changed, necessarily, to make the jokes, but he never derails the copy for the sake of the joke).

In short, Weird Al is really funny, and you can spend hours on YouTube, minion of evilness, watching the 25 or so authorized videos (which are not all songs), as well as the scads and zillions of shaky concert home videos and attempts at home to Be Weird Al.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When playing an instrument

--particularly an instrument, a touchy delicate instrument such as the violin--slowing down and calming down work wonders. Not that I would speak from personal experience of needing to slow down or relax or anything, of course.

I worked on the Insani-stocking today, and finished the gusset. No pic, I'm feeling lazy, but also quite pleased. I also worked on the Exchequered ::glances at scarf, blinks:: I knit at least an inch, more like 1.5. Once again, I prove that things do not grow when you knit on them with the power of your mind, but only when you knit with your hands. My perspicuity astounds me.

Speaking of my violin (yes, we were, paragraph before last. Mostly, anyway), there is a story behind me learning violin. (Surprise!) My great-grandfather, better known to me as Gramps, was a professional jazz musician early in his career, before becoming a knife sharpener, and later a show horse breeder.--Not really a stick-to-one-thing kind of family, I suppose; Dad's had one career but dozens of hobbies.....--In time, Gramps died, during one horrible October two years ago, and since Aunt Bev, his daughter and musical child (as opposed to Grandpa Bob, who was a machinist and half deaf at 64) lives in Colorado, the violin came home with my family. Last November it went in to the local music shop and checked out beautifully, so it came home and Mom & I set up my first lessons with a marvelous violin teacher who has been teaching for over 20 years (and has never had a beginning student with a violin this nice).

Happy Fathers Day, Gramps. I'm taking care of your violin.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Momentous News

Lord help us, I'm really going to college.

This, this looks much more like it is supposed to.

And finally, just to prove that I have in fact been working on my Baroque socks. Hey look--another heel!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

That Story I Promised You.....

Plus some soap, and a pretty.

This is that extraordinary heel, that I took on faith as "more than usually magical" (I think those were my words). I should have known better.

But even after 20-odd socks, there are still heels which I have not knit, and I thought this would probably be like the Dutch heel--mysterious and particularly well-fitting.--Here, you observe, are the picked-up gussets. Note the curious slope to the heel.--I picked up the gusset, began to knit, then realized that the instructions did not tally with the number of stitches I needed. (I did not actually swear. Recall that I still live with my mother.) A long, painful tinking and readjustment, so that I could decrease the gusset on the bottom of the foot, where it would be easier, work better, and I could actually decrease enough to fit my foot.

I have currently knit less than 1/2 inch of gusset (you see, here, my current progress). I started picking up the gusset stitches, my camera tells me, June 2nd. Even allowing for a weekend lost to tinking, I should be well down the foot!

This angle, though, may show the difficulty a trifle better. Note the bulge. You do not, by the instructions, knit short rows anywhere in the heel. While decreasing in the middle, you knit to the end, every row. This creates a certain bulginess, which alas is not duplicated anywhere in the heel of my actual foot. (Or perhaps I should say Blessed be God.) So, for almost two weeks, I've been not ripping the heel of this stocking, and re-knitting it so it actually fits my foot. Instead I've been knitting Baroque, and very pretty it looks, though I don't have a photo to show you (no reason--just haven't thought of it, and Lord knows there are enough pictures in this post already).

I think I have finally found the difficulty--she is rather vague in her phrasing, so I took "decrease in the center (knitting to the end every row) until you have 7 small panel stitches in the center, then decrease on either side of this small panel" to mean, Keep knitting to the end of every row after you have the small panel in the center, while she meant (and certainly seems to have knitted), After you have the small panel, knit 7 st in pattern, decrease and turn--thus eating up one st on the edge per row, and forming a flap like a Dutch heel. As this is more or less the solution I had decided on, I feel considerably vindicated. But even that isn't going to make ripping out this d*ned gusset and heel much more pleasant. *sigh* Motivating music required! (And if you are wondering how I can possibly have misread the pattern that badly, or if you are simply consumed with curiousity about the source of my trials, the PDF is here, the charts here, and the designer's site is here.)

Oh, yes, and I knit this as well, while I've been avoiding the stocking heel of doomy doom-doom--it's a soap sweater, a necessity in my bathroom, since there is a drip that wears away the soap in double time, no matter where in the shower caddy I put it. Things I would do differently next time include knitting a real round toe, instead of a befuddled mish-mash of round and wedge, knitting a bag with a drawstring instead of trying to decrease for the other end, and knitting the thing in thicker yarn, or doubling it, because in fingering weight the accursed item took more than a week. I'm reasonably happy with it despite all that, though. It will no doubt do what I intend it to--be a washcloth-cum-soap-saver--and that admirably.

And the pretty! I have a new spindle, despite having no fiber to spin on it (I undoubtedly will get some presently, but I have no stash at the very moment). It's a Golding 2" brass ring, solid (obviously), out of Lignum Vitae or ironwood. I confess from the picture on the site I was expecting something of more walnut hue, but since I loooove green, and also since Mom looked it up (we were both dying with curiousity at the cryptic citing of Lignum Vitae) and mentioned that it commonly turns green when finished, sometimes with black accents. So they may have just had one which was all black accent in the photo.

I will say, spindles are a treat to photograph, even ones that are an elusive green tint combined with a dark oak shaft, compared to yarn. My camera is not very good anyway, and softness defeats it utterly--it simply hates to focus on items without clear edges.

My new spindle. I has a happy. :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good blogging will commence.....

.......sometime after the next blue moon. I was going to wait to post until I could show you all the more-magical-than-normal heel. Aforesaid heel is still not progressed to a point that would suitably show the transformation, though, because after starting the gusset Friday night (remembering to take Before pics), I spent Saturday and Sunday (well, it would have taken me less time, except for some other stuff which I'll talk about in a minute) tinking the few rows of gusset, and this evening I finally rearranged stitches to my satisfaction. The instructions are vague, I hadn't thought much about this crucial stage, and the pattern at the sides would be tricky to decrease in, NOT to mention one (I think) actual lapse of logic. I'll go into it all in detail at sometime that isn't after ten o'clock at night. So I'm decreasing on the bottom of the foot, which appears to be working better. Cautious optimism appears indicated.

Rest assured that when the heel looks really like a heel, pictures and extended commentary will follow on their heels. (And if it doesn't, it will be an interesting and probably funny story. But! Optimism!)

I had come to the conclusion that I needed to frog right before leaving for some hours Saturday afternoon & evening, so I managed to get perhaps a needle tinked, then tinked a little more after returning. The next morning, though, I worked a bit on my poor abandoned needlepoint scene (yes, I *do* go in heavily for the womanly arts.....), then dashed out of the house (with knitting; do not distress yourselves) to help Mom with manning a rest stop for Tulsa Tough. Aforesaid being a pretty big thing in biking, as Tulsa events go. There are criterion races (with, I understand, handsome cash prizes), as well as two days of endurance rides, from 50K to 100 miles. Mom and I were helping at a rest stop--food, water, and medical assistance--the last rest stop, on the 100 mile route. We had relatively few bikers, since it was not only the longest route, but the second day and a hot, windy one at that. I got to be the early alert system, watching for bikers to come over the rise and ringing my cowbell (Official Enthusiasm Generator) like mad as the signal for the others to dash out to the road with water, sports drinks and mister. The mister, a garden variety spray bottle, was especially nice! (The nurse on station was quite generous with the misting.)

Overall it was quite uneventful, except that somehow three bikers got behind the "last" biker, and we only caught them because the station before us mentioned that they had seen three bikers as they pulled out--those three had missed the two stops before us, and had to stop at convenience stores instead. They ended up catching a ride into town, after their "moral victory" 100 miles (our rest stop was 99 miles into the route--because of a detour, they started the timer late, so the route continued for almost 9 more miles). Tough as nails, those three--one didn't even intend to ride 100 miles, but only (!) 100K--and they even had a pretty decent final time!

I'll talk more about knitting later--it's much too late and I should be in bed.