Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Da-Dum. Da-Dum. Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Duuuuuuuuuuummmmm...

Pink Panther

Pink Panther
Started:
5/26/06
Finished: 1/13/07
Pattern: basic toe up with short row heel
Yarn: Kona superwash dyed as knit blanks
Needles: #3
Notes: Let's not talk about how long it took me to knit these socks (a little more than 7 months) or the number of times I reknit the heels (3 on one, 2 on the other). It's better that way (for all involved).

Pink Panther

This was a fun project, from dyeing the yarn to discovering the speckly color transitions when knit. In hindsight, it's a lot of work for a pair of socks; at the time, the dyeing was a cool experiment, a "what if". Honestly, when I began knitting and saw how the striping/speckling was coming out, my curiosity was satisfied. (This probably had something to do with the 7 months it took to finish them.)

It was the first time I made an effort to change the yarn sequence at the heels, and it was worth it.

Pink Panther

I used the extra heel yarn to finish off the tops so there's very little left over. Because the yarn was dyed as knit blanks, the yarn was crinkly, and the socks need a soak to smooth out the texture.

Pink Panther

They're a little roomy at the ankles, so maybe in the future I should decrease a couple of stitches there. Or not. Overall I'm very happy with how they came out, and even happier that they're DONE! AND, officially, they're my first finished object of 2007. Heh.

And for the first finished object started and ended in 2007:

Pebbles

Pebbles
Started:
1/1/07
Finished: 1/13/07
Pattern: basic toe up with short row heel and double seed stitch pattern
Yarn: Kona Superwash dyed in blues and purples
Needles: #3
Notes: I finished knitting the Pink Panther socks while traveling and immediately cast on for these socks. The impetus: seeing how the yarn I dyed would knit up. I was surprised that it spiraled so nicely.

Pebbles

I wanted a textured stitch to play with the changing colors, to give them more depth/dimension, but nothing complicated because the colors would obscure a lot of patterning. So I chose double seed stitch and named the socks for the "pebble-y" texture.

This is the first time I continued stockinette stitch on the back of the heel on a patterned sock, and I like how it affects fit. Next time I'll add an inch instead of half. They're shorter than most socks I knit, but I wanted to knit it with the one skein, and apparently, I dyed smaller skeins. It's a good length, though; high enough to keep my ankles warm without needing to fold down.

I really like these socks, the colors make me happy, and there's something special in knowing I dyed the yarn (even more than with the Pink Panther socks, couldn't put into words why; maybe because Pink Panther dyeing was more of an intellectual/technical experiment, where this one was done whimsically, intuitively, with luck thrown in for good measure). I've been a lot more hesitant to dye yarn than fiber because there is less wriggle room with yarn. With fiber, if it doesn't come out the way you want, there are many ways of spinning to compensate. With yarn, Game Over. I think I'll always be more comfortable with dyeing fiber for that reason.

Buttons: Check!

The Project, button

The Project is buttoned, washed and laying flat to dry. Yay!

I'm really happy with how it came out. More work than expected, and a bit fiddly, but definitely worth the effort. Look how cute:

The Project, detail

Please dry soon!

And, Pink Panther sock one is done:

Pink Panther socks, first sock done!

I turned the heel 3 times and knit the top cuff twice. I'm pleased with the results. The striping, though I'd prefer it to straddle the heel, is not broken; and the top 2x2 rib is hidden since I started it after the first full black row. I used extra black that I cut from the heel so there's only a few yards left over. Sock 2 is already in progress. Unbelievable!

I loved reading your comments when I got home, it was a gift and I thank you.

The weekend was not what I expected, and then it was. There was no reminiscing, as we, as a growing family, have not figured out how to have group adult conversation time when the kids are around (especially during meals). But there was lots of family time, good food, and good memories. I was glad to be there for my mom and to just. be.

The family

The memorial ceremony took me a bit by surprise. I missed the end so I'm not sure if anything was said, but the main part was the offering of incense during morning prayer. After my mom, dad and the rest of the family offered incense, other people offered incense, and before they returned to their seats, bowed to mom to pay their respects. It moved me, and I didn't expect it. It was fitting, and right, and brought a kind of closure I didn't expect. I left the weekend knowing my grandmother was gone. Not forgotten, and definitely missed. But gone.

There were lots of good eats, and I think my belly grew another inch or two:

All grown up
taken by my niece; our heads aren't chopped off!

The photo is shocking, it can't possibly be real. Can I really be that big??

We were walking off an amazing Chinese lunch that I hope we repeat. The little goober is taking up valuable stomach real estate in my belly, but I ate as if I were only 6 weeks pregnant.

Walking - 1

Walking - 2

Walking - 3

Skipping rocks
my dad teaching my niece to skip rocks

Wheeee!
oh, to be little again!

My nephew is adorable, we hit it off right away. Last time I saw him he was just starting to walk. He's a little monkey, a real Curious George; and he's so innocent and good natured that it's impossible to be mad at him. But boy, he has non-stop-on-the-go energy. Non. Stop.

Emerging from under the table  Hi!

My niece and nephew  After a granola bar

Sleeping
uncharacteristically still

At the airport on the way to DC, I spent an hour spindling. I have been a slacker Twisted Knitter, and haven't known what to dye, spin or knit. I found my project:

Chasing Rainbows Cashmere/silk

I love the colors, rich browns, earthy (photo is a little muted, see link below). It's the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks cashmere/silk I bought at MDSW that I've been waiting to use. I've been trying to get the wheel up to (laceweight) speed and haven't wanted to waste the cashmere/silk until I had it running reasonably smoothly. But now that I've started it on my new Forrester spindle (and my, does she spin),

Forrester lightweight spindle

it seems the right way to go. I only have 2 oz so I'm spinning quite fine. I'm hoping to make a lacy scarf.

I also tried to work on the pink panther socks (remember those?), just to get them DONE and off my list; but I decided the broken striping after the heel just wasn't working for me. I'm usually a "let it be" knitter, and don't worry about such things. But in this case, it seemed strange to interrupt the striping:

Pink Panther socks, in progress

I also brought a few lace pattern books with me so my mom could pick out a pattern for her lace shawl. She wants something in black to cover up her shoulders when she dresses up. After I got over the "knitting with itty bitty black yarn" bit, I bought a cone of ebony Zephyr. My mom picked out a simple rectangular shawl from Folk Shawls and now I have no excuse not to get started! Once The Project is done (dang those buttons), I've promised to give Scott some knitty love. Then, swatching!

Phew, phew and Phew. It's good to be home, I missed my honey.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Sunshine! I even managed to get these photos this morning between cloud cover:

Washed cormo lock (the top end is the slightly felted cut end):

Washed cormo lock

Based on feedback the other day, I'm trying to comb it with the Forsyth combs. We'll see how it goes (initial attempts are so-so).

Clover Leaf Farms silk/merino, 4 oz spun up:

Clover Leaf Farms merino/silk

Love the colors. The plan is to spin the other 4 oz which is a different (hopefully complementary) colorway, and then ply them together.

Pink Panther socks, just started the heel:

Pink Panther sock - in progress

The second pink band had much less black dye drool on it. I think both bands are interesting.

And last, a new project, Trellis from Knitty.com, in Rowan All Seasons Cotton:

Trellis - in progress

The yarn feels soft and squishy while knitting. It's the actual yarn called for in the pattern, which is so rare for me. I bought a few skeins specifically for this project at that yarn closing sale back in April. Anyone know if the All Seasons Cotton stands up to the washer and dryer?

It didn't rain at all, all day. I looked for pigs, but didn't see any. I wouldn't have been so shocked.

When I said my posting would be spotty, I didn't mean non-existent. Hehe.

The conference was actually quite good. It was Microsoft's TechEd, and a LOT bigger than I expected. There were 10,000-12,000 attendees, another ~3,000 Microsoft employees and ~2,000 vendors. Yeah, a lot of people.

The exhibit hall was immense:

TechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hallTechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hall

with lots of giveaways to be had. I walked away with 10 tshirts, a bunch of pens, a yoyo, 2 flashlight, some squishy lego like pieces, blah blah blah. Typical conference loot, eh?

The food hall was also immense, here's 2/3 of it:

TechEd - food hall

When they opened for lunch the words "cattle call" came to mind: mindlessly following the masses towards food lines. The food: not so hot, in all senses. On the first day I walked for 5 minutes after getting my food, looking for a friendly place to sit, preferably with women, preferably with people still eating... I was near the other end of the hall before I ran out of options and sat down at a table that matched neither criteria. And had an interesting time nonetheless. One of the people at the table was from Turkey, another from Dubai. The next couple of days I didn't search so hard, met an interesting person from Australia who started up their own business and who made me want to buy a video iPod (he showed me the cutest videos of his kids singing itsy bitsy spider; I showed him my knitting).

Besides the sessions/lectures/workshops throughout the day, Microsoft folks were on hand at Technical Learning Centers to answer questions, show demos, etc. They wore identifying blue shirts:

TechEd - TLC
look at all 'em blue shirts

I sat down with a Business Intelligence guy to talk about the reports I'm setting up at work and got great guidance on what to change, how to improve. That made my day. (I also laughed at myself trying to explain to him what I'm doing. I'm used to "dumbing down" the geek speak and hardly ever talk to peers so I can't actually do the geeky geek speak.)

They also had hands-on labs where you could walk through tutorials of various technologies:

TechEd - hands-on labs

It wasn't just a developers conference, it was all things Microsoft, from servers, networks and connectivity to data, websites, web services, applications, Office, and so on. A broad audience. There were over a thousand sessions, and then informal presentations that were not listed online, so it was hard to wade through and find the ones that were most relevant. A bit overwhelming. But I did sit in on some excellent sessions and walked away with good tips and a glimpse of what the future will hold. Some cool stuff.

Oh yeah. The building was huge:

TechEd - location

so walking from session to session was quite a chore. It took me until Friday to get oriented. And then it was all over. Figures, eh?

My new summer shoes performed well under all the stress:

new shoes
happy shoes

It was a little weird seeing so much Microsoft everywhere. Although all my programming is with Microsoft technologies, I have mixed feelings about The Empire. I prefer Firefox to IE, google to MSN... But I can't see building websites with anything but ASP.NET now. It makes it way too easy to build complex data-driven websites.

Hey, you want to know one of the funniest parts of the conference? With a roughly 10:1 men to women ratio, the women's bathrooms were always empty and the men's had lines. Ha! HA!

But you didn't come here to hear about Microsoft. You're here for the fibery stuff, right? :)

That many sessions means much progress was made on FBS:

FBS - in progress

She's almost done!

I also started a sock using Pink Panther to see what the striping looked like. This method leads to splotchy transitions between stripes.

Pink Panther socks

The first pink stripe was the most mucked up one, so it's rather spotty. Even with my mucked up pink band, I think it's still a cool effect. I think it would be easier and less stressful to have color transitions that don't need to be so distinct, like gradual color shifts or color blending.

Oh yeah. On the last day of the conference I saw this:

TechEd - exhibit hall

and was actually sad.