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A is for…

About April’s Alphabet
This is my first post in the A-to-Z challenge, and I thought I’d take a little bit of space to talk about what it’s about, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it but know me, and about how I’m going to address it, for those of you who are familiar with it but don’t know me.

What it’s about

1,758 bloggers around the world have signed up to all ‘blog the alphabet’ this month. A post a day, in alphabetical order, excluding Sundays. So a post for “A” on the 1st, “B” on the 2nd, etc. Details are left up to each blogger. We are then encouraged to read each others blogs (5/day suggested). Comment. Respond. Subscribe to those that work, and so on.  Eye of the Beholder is currently blog #1159, but that could change as blogs sometimes drop out.

What Eye Behold is about

Everyone knows  that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

Many people also know that the beholder is a monster from old school Dungeons and Dragons (book 4, Greyhawk).  It’s a floating eyeball and mouth, with multiple tentacles growing from it, each of which ends in an eyeball.  The only way this creature can interact with the world is by observing it, but, because it’s a highly magical creature it changes whatever it observes.  Heisenberg would have been appalled.

When Gary Gygax invented the creature, he saw it as a monster to be slain – no thought to biology, ecosystem, or society, because that’s the way he approached the game.   Because I was a teen aged girl when I found D&D, and put together a D&D group made entirely of teen-aged girls who liked to explore other ways to interact with the world than slay it, I once had a beholder as a player character.  Gygax would have been appalled.

So there you have most of this blog.  It’s mostly where I brag about my perception of beauty and creative outlets (typically knitting and crochet).  Sometimes I draw connections between tangentially related things, or rant at the unfairness of the world, or geek out about science, or literature, or gaming, or whatever the ‘shiny’ of the moment is.  I am a very geeky person.  This month will have less yarn talk than usual, but there will still be plenty.

I don’t usually provide too many details about my personal life, but since this is as good a place as any I’ll give a brief intro to the newcomers.  I’m a middle aged, married, mother.  I have two daughters in college.  I am very proud, and they are extraordinary, but I want to respect their privacy so I don’t give a lot of details about their lives.  I will be mentioning a few things about them over the course of the month, though.    I really should get myself a ‘real job’ (part time retail work at the moment).   We are fortunate to live close to most of my family and to my husbands family as well.

We also have two cats.  Unfortunately, neither one is named Schrodinger.

Note that I don’t actually know all that much about quantum mechanics.  My background is in molecular genetics, but those puns just weren’t coming today.

Footprint

So the TARDIS socks have a fixed stitch count of 76 stitches for the leg.  I cast on, as I usually do for socks, two at a time on two circs, and began increasing asymettrically for the toes.  The goal is to have 38 stitches on each needle, but when I was up to 23 I began to wonder if maybe my gauge was horribly, horribly wrong.  I tried the toes on my feet, and it’s a good fit up to that point, but would a 50% stitch increase really be overkill?

Personal FootprintsSo I pulled out my old copy of Cat Bordhi’s “Personal Footprints“.

This is the pattern book where Cat has us knit a closed footprint, then cut it open, pick up stitches, and knit straight up for the leg.   Very simple concept, step by step instructions.  Works fine, but I’ve only ever knit one pair of socks from it.

Of course, having knit one pair of socks from it, I have a cardboard cut out of my foot.  I really should laminate it at some point, but it’ll hold up well enough for this:Tardis Toe

Here it is with 30 stitches per needle.  I think it’ll work out fine, especially if I follow Cat’s suggestions and knit the toe to 33 per needle, then knit a few more row before increasing more.

Notions

LanternmoonbagsSo I got the Lantern Moon nested notions bags I had ordered on eBay.Notion Bag

I really like the color and the smallest one is the perfect size for the notions the TARDIS socks need – foldable scissors, tapestry needle, and the bag which holds the needle gauge when it’s not acting as a zipper pull.  The other bags look to be good sizes as well.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win either the Sweet Paprika or the Nelsonwood crochet hook giveaways.  No new giveaway this time.

Chiropractor

Had the third chiropractic visit today, out of a 16 visit biweekly schedule.  Definitely a change in my back/neck discomfort, which might mean that it’s working.  It’s certainly expected.   I may have mentioned before that I’m skeptical, but I got a good deal.  I know I mentioned that I fell last week while walking home, and I’ve been limping a bit.  I didn’t mention it to him, but he noticed something about my hips, and changed the procedure slightly.  I take this as a data point indicating that there’s some relationship between the treatment and the state of my body, and probably a good thing, but still skeptical.

There might have been some slight improvement due to it.   Honestly, if the issue at hand is just discomfort, I don’t mind taking a placebo.   Especially considering that my conventional medical professional showed literally no interest.  If there is an underlying cause which puts me at risk, well, I mentioned it to my MD and it didn’t get sussed out.

In any case, I took the bus home this time.  We’ll see what Wednesday looks like.

A to Z

I joined the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (link in the ‘Flare’ section of the sidebar).  The idea is to write short posts (almost) every day in April, in alphabetical order, and to check out other blogs participating in the challenge.  I’m entrant number 1184.   Every one of you is invited to join in the fun.

Knitting Issues

The Belle Greene shawl is progressing, beforeslowly but surely.  However, the beaded, knitted on edging is titchy and takes concentration.  The project is no longer portable or sociable.  So I decided it was time to cast on the TARDIS socks.  I went to my sock needle gauge and realized that I didn’t seem to have any 2.75 mm needles.  What I had was, well, a mess.

The cables were snarled together.  I couldn’t be sure what I’d already checked and what I hadn’t, and I had no idea how many of each needle size I had.

Frustrating.

I once splurged on a Della Q Della Qneedle case for my larger sized fixed circs.  It’s a gorgeous system, with a labeled pouch for each needle size.

Unfortunately, even if such a needle case weren’t pricey, if Della Q makes one for sock needles my LYS doesn’t carry it.  So I had a problem, a model for a solution, and time to think.

I’ve seen three ring binders loaded with plastic ziploc pockets, and that works fine, but I like my needle case, and I haven’t come across one which pleases me aesthetically.

As it happens, since I schlepped to the bus stop rather than walking home through the pedestrian path I went past a chain craft store.  While I was there I picked up some little grommeted labels.labelslabeled  I went through my needles with the gauge, sorted them into diameter.

I wrapped each group of needles in a twist-tie and labeled each tie.

I typically knit socks two at a time on two circulars, so in theory I should have two of each sock needle size.  In point of fact I have one each of the smallest sizes, and three each for some of the larger ones.  I think this is fine.  If I need to knit socks on 000s I can always magic loop, and I have been known to use sock needles for provisional cast ons.  I think I can work with this.

Of course, the finished product doesn’t look that much neater in the case than it did before, but there’s a lot of hidden chaos which has been banished.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

No winner posted yet for the Sweet Paprika drawing. I entered the giveaway for handmade beads at Silverniknaks (31 March)

Notions

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I got a series of wonderful handmade project bags for my birthday, and immediately began to organize my knitting queue.  Now I’m on to the next step of the process, putting together a complete notions case for each project bag.

KnitNackboxI already had this wonderful little box from Nancy’s Knit Knacks.    These seem to have become quite popular in the last year or so, I’ve seen them in a lot of LYSs I’ve been to.  They’re great at both storing a lot of things and organizing them all.  I even picked one up for my DH to store electrical bits and bobs in.  So that’s the first bag basically done.

Debras

The lobster claw was my addition – it works great as a zipper pull on one of the project bags.

I love my notions box, but that didn’t stop me from  looking for other options.  I also realized that I needed a sock needle gauge.

I found this adorable one from Debra’s Garden,  as well as this tiny knit repair tool (read mini crochet hook) at Paradise Fibers. I’d never ordered from them before, but they take PayPal, and the order process was reasonably smooth.  They also offer a ‘Deal of the Day’ and have a mailing list which provides periodic coupon codes.  This site is dangerous!

I also ordered some Lantern Moon nesting notions bags from an eBay seller.  They were projected to arrive in the mail today, but the Post Office web site says that shipment is delayed.  Hopefully I’ll be posting about them soon.

Projects

I finished thefantasy dishcloth dishcloth I mentioned in the last post.

It’s kind of silly, really, how much fun dishcloths can be.  I could have gotten several dozen dishcloths for what I spent on the yarn for this one.

Of course, I have enough yarn leftover to make a bunch more dishcloths or, more likely, several really nice market bags.  As much as I like working in wool, there are definitely some things which call for cotton, and cleaning cloths and stretchy bags are two of them.

Belle Greene

Belle Greene BeadsAs I mentioned before, I decided to go for highly contrasting beads for the shawl.  I also opted for unlined and transparent.  Which meant that the local craft store didn’t have them in stock.  I found some really nice ones at an online bead store, but they had a $25 minimum order, and I just couldn’t justify that kind of expenditure, especially as I don’t bead that much.

So I found some very similar ones on Amazon.  They are Czech glass from Preciosa in 6/0.  This means that you can expect 6 beads strung per inch.  Depending on the brand that might be closer to 3 or 4 mm, and the size of the holes is not necessarily consistent.  It makes sense to order extra beads, because there will be some breakage and/or (if you’re like me) some beads will scatter across the floor when you unstring them.  I got 900 beads, and the pattern calls for 287, so that’s covered.

As I said before, I don’t bead that often, but I do occasionally, and I have a nice craft caddy which is reserved for beads, and they will get used eventually.

Belle Greene Border WIPThe knitted on border is slow going, but it’s going to be gorgeous!  Then all I’ll have to do is get my hands on some blocking wire, and figure out how to use it…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I haven’t heard back from any of the previous giveaways yet, but I entered a drawing for a beautiful Nelsonwood Crochet Hook from Underground Crafter (24 March).

Remembering Terry and Leonard

There’s not much more that can be said about the loss of Terry Pratchett (12 March) and Leonard Nimoy (27 February), but I think I’m ready to try to say something.  I never had the pleasure of meeting either of them personally (though I did see Nimoy in the distance at some SF conventions over the years).  They both touched my life through their work, and made the world a richer place.  They will be missed.

Because I ran into someone who didn’t know, Leonard was also a gifted photographer and artist.  His family is (at least for the time being) keeping his shop open.

As for Sir Terry, you probably already know that he was a knitter himself.  I’ve noticed a lot of hits on my Wear the Lilac pattern this last week.  If any of you do make it, I would love to see pictures.

Other Life Stuff

I’m never sure how much personal stuff to post here, but my eldest daughter has joined the Peace Corps and will be flying to Senegal this September.  I was going to start a blog, but wanted to get other parents involved and ran into some technical problems – that might or might not happen some time in the future.

Younger daughter is looking into internships in DC and New York.  DC would be wonderful, as she could commute from home or from my mother’s house.  New York would depend on a stipend or scholarship, so we’ll see.

I’ve started seeing a chiropractor.  Too early to figure out if that’s working.  My husband drops me off at the office on his way to work, and I walk back to the house afterwards.  It’s a 4 1/2 mile walk, and I don’t mind having built in exercise, but last time I got turned around on the footpath, and today I slipped on a patch of black ice, so it’s been stressful as well as therapeutic…

Knitting Stuff

Progressing nicely Green Sleevewith the Belle Greene shawl.  I took a brief break to knit up a cozy for a collapsible silicone cup.  As you can see, I made a half pattern, just a narrow band, but it actually works well as an insulator, and fits inside the cup when it’s compressed so that’s good.  Now if I can just remember to bring it with me when I go out I’ll cut down on those disposable coffee cups…

Also working on a dishcloth by Knitting Magic Girl.  It’s a slip stitch and cabled thing and I’m using a mixture of Rowan cotton and Berrocco Indigo (a cotton/recycled denim mix).  It’s knitting up nicely, but I don’t have any in-progress pictures to post.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the hand dyed yarn from Chaleurlife or the Mai Tai giveaway at Amy’s Thread.  I entered Sandra SIngh’s Vinterbar Cowl Kit giveaway (31 March) and the Sweet Paprika Colour Naming Contest (20 March).

Project Bags!

I had a wonderful birthday celebration with the family this week.  I got all kinds of loveliness, but I’m just going to talk about the gorgeous project bags my sister made for me.

bags

As you can certainly understand, this led to some organization of my queue.  The tentative makeup is:

With this much organization, I might start working multiple WIPS again!

Missed Projects

haruni

I did finally knit a Haruni, though not in mohair this time.  It was a Christmas gift for the same sister who made me the project bags.  It went so very much smoother (pun acknowledged) in Cascade 220 fingering.  I’m happy with the way it turned out, and very happy to have finally ‘done it right’.  It’s a lovely pattern, and I may very well go back and make one for me some time.

I didn’t enter any yarn giveaways this week, giving the stash time to settle a bit, and there are still some open from previous weeks.

So I’ve finally gotten to the lace portion of the Belle Greene shawl.  There’s a 12 stitch lace repeat, so I figured I’d put in lifelines after each 12 rows, right?  Apparently not so much.  I knit to row 7, frogged back all the lace, knit to row 9, frogged back to row 5, so this time I put in a lifeline when I knit row 6, and I will continue to do so every six rows throughout the lace section.Belle Greene lifeline

Hopefully that’s enough of the three rows forward, two rows back stuff.

You will notice that I didn’t use a plain thread for the lifeline this time.  I actually used some Filatura di Crosa Night for this.  It’s a really pretty yarn – black and glittery, bunightt it’s very ill behaved when it comes off the ball, and loves nothing more than to tangle.

It’s hair fine.  It falls in a lovely way, despite the very heavily plastic feel, but as soon as it’s ‘free’ it will tangle.

I’ve tried using this yarn on its own before, and I ended up wasting more than I used.  I did use a little bit held together with a strand of worsted weight for the top border and handle of the Welcome to Nightvale bag I made, and that was all right.

But it’s both fine and strong, so that makes it good lifeline material.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win any of the Interweave National Craft Month giveaways, or Susan B. Andersons sock yarn giveaway.

I entered the Mai Tai giveaway at Amy’s Thread (15 March), and a giveaway for a sock pattern and yarn skein from Crafts of Texture (1 April).

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