Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ask not what your country can do for you...

So here it is - a day filled with so much optimism and hope, and the desire for change. Let us not put too much hope on one man. Let us not weigh down his shoulders with the expectations we all seem to have for him.

Let us help.

The oath taken by two men today is one that I hope that every American would also take:

I do solemnly swear that I will... to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

You don't need to join one of our esteemed branches of military to defend the constitution. First, you can read the constitution and work to uphold the constitution. Perhaps you can preserve the constitution by offering your services to those who have fought to defend it. For more information, please check VFW or Veterans Affairs.

A couple points in particular stuck out to me as part of Obama's speech. First:

"the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness"

We all deserve a chance to pursue our full measure of happiness, but implied in this is the idea that each individual has to work to obtain that happiness. You can't sit back and wait for happiness to come to you, or play the part of a victim. We each must get up and work to obtain our happiness.


"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies"

The difference between today and yesterday is quite simple - there have been a number of personnel changes in Washington D.C. In contrast, we the American people are largely the same. The change in administration may be enough to truly allow change to happen, but we as a populace can certainly facilitate that change.

Let change come, but let us also take responsibility and do what we can to help that change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shades of Purple

First, let me start off by saying how sorry I am for this post being weeks later than I intended it to be. I have been neglecting this blog lately in practice, though in theory I have been writing posts (in my head) most every day. Many thanks to Linda for giving me a well-deserved nudge. My absence is due mainly to two things – a lack of items I can share with you, and a trip to Italy. I hope my absence can be forgiven, as I will post about both of these in the near future.

Anyways, a year ago I bought some yarn from KnitPicks. While it looked lovely on the screen, what I got was nice… but not quite what I was hoping for. Since then it has been lingering in my stash. I didn’t like it enough to use it, even as a gift, but I also couldn’t quite part with something I had just purchased. A month ago, I decided to try over dyeing it using Kool-Aid. I’m going to save the more specific particulars on that for another post (that in and of itself was quite the story!).

Before - KnitPicks Gossamer in Sunrise - nice but not me!

I set out initially to try to get a nice, rich cranberry color, so I first tried the cherry flavored drink packet. Overall, the effect was ok, but still not what I wanted. In addition, there were lots of patchy places where the color didn’t quite permeate. I decided that perhaps I really wanted a purple color, so I removed the yarn, and added in 3 packets of blue flavor (tropical punch?). The color took much more evenly, and produced a product I was much happier with.

After dyeing

Here is a before and after shot of my dyeing experiment. For my part, I am much happier with the ‘after’ than the ‘before’. I also prefer the more subtle variegation to the more drastic color changes. I’m still trying to decide what to make with the two skeins I dyed, and what to do with the 4 other undyed skeins I have laying around the house.

Before and after - much better!

Dyeing this yarn really got me thinking about the state of current US politics. I generally stay away from politics on this blog, as I am one of those who gets a little tired of politics invading every corner of my life. I hope you can all forgive me this one exception.

Don’t be alarmed – I won’t tell you who or what to vote for. Quite frankly, if you were to base your vote off of something you read on a personal blog, I would be concerned. If you are still not sure who to vote for, please read information put out by the candidates themselves to see what they say their position is, and also look at their past record to see what they’ve done in practice. Also keep in mind that the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live are quite funny, but perhaps not the best place to turn to if you wish to formulate a political opinion.

So… What does this have to do with my Kool Aid dyeing experiment? The fact that I needed both red and blue to improve this yarn really made me think long and hard about the state of partisan politics in America. To listen to almost anyone in the media these days, you would think that the world would be a Much Better Place if there were only red states or only blue states. Political parties seem to have evolved to the point where one party (and candidate) can do no wrong, and the other party (and candidate) can do no right. The fact that we are divided as a nation is apparent to just about everyone, yet it seems that we continue down a path of stubborn opposition instead of learning to work together.

At the risk of sounding idealistic, I wish we could all step back for a second and look at the candidates and the issues objectively. Certainly there are good and bad aspects to each candidate, as there are for each person. Furthermore, if you stop to consider your viewpoint on many issues (abortion, gay marriage, states’ rights vs. federal rights, size of government, use of tax money, etc.) it’s entirely likely that your view points on topics don’t reflect the viewpoint of only one party. Your personal political profile is likely a shade of purple, rather than red or blue.

After all, how likely is it that everyone within a political party agrees with each other on EVERY topic? The odds of that happening are staggering, which must mean that there must be some issues that you don’t agree with your party on. Are you a democrat that supports the second amendment? Are you a republican that supports abortion? Shouldn’t it follow that we have much more common ground than what is perhaps being portrayed by the media?

In my rather rambling way, I want to encourage people to vote based on their own personal beliefs, not on party politics. Please take the time to do your own research and formulate your own opinion with an open mind. While I know we will all never agree on anything, it must be possible to at least respect different opinions without bashing and belittling each other. We are all shades of purple as individuals. The nation is strengthened by this diversity, and can only benefit from us working together as shades of purple, instead of clashing as reds and blues.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another FO: Reversible Brioche Scarf

My other final finished Christmas Gift (again, last Christmas) is this scarf made for my dad, again to accompany the gloves and hat, all to keep him warm at Seahawks games.

Reversible Brioche Scarf

Start-End: Feb 18 - Mar 8, 2008
Pattern: Reversible Brioche Scarf by Lori Law. I found the directions on The Brioche Stitch much clearer for the brioche stitch itself.
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in SH008 and SH006
Needles: US7/4.5 mm
New-to-Me Techniques: Brioche stitch

I can't recommend The Brioche Stitch website enough for anything to do with the brioche stitch. The site contains directions and color pictures of many different variations. Much like entrelac, I found the brioche stitch to be a lot of fun once you got the pattern down. I did make a couple mistakes, and found it very difficult to rip back, so there are more "design features" in this than I would normally like.

Brioche up close

This is another pattern I may do again. The knitted fabric is very warm and cushy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

FO Parade: Seahawks-Inspired Danica

I've finally finished all of my Christmas knitting... from last Christmas.

I've posted before about making Danica for my mom to accompany a pair of gloves and a hat to keep her warm at the Seahawks games, and I'm very pleased to say that it's all blocked and ready to be mailed.

Danica completed

Start-End: Jan 1-27, 2008
Pattern: Danica by Jesse Loesberg
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran in SH008, SH004, SH006
Needles: KnitPicks US 8/5.0 mm
New-to-me Techniques: Entrelac
Modifications: I wanted a wider scarf, but instead of adding an extra column of diamonds, I changed the number of base triangle stitches to 16, instead of 10.

Despite having a lot of ends to weave in, I really enjoyed this pattern. I found entrelac to be a lot of fun - simple enough that you can still watch a movie, but with enough complexity that you don't get bored. I also loved working with this yarn. It's the type of yarn that is spendy enough I would likely never have bought it, but when you get it at 75% discount (due to a store closing) you grab what you can.

When blocking this scarf, I decided to try blocking wires. I found a few stainless steel wires at a local welding supply, and enjoyed how quick and easy the process was.

Blocking Danica

I already have plans to knit this pattern again, perhaps playing with the arrangement of color blocks.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

FO: Fearless or Foolish?

Over on Knitting Daily, there has been much talk of being a fearless knitter. As a still-somewhat-new-knitter, I find it very easy to be a fearless knitter. For example, I've found that a lack of experience and knowledge as a knitter makes it easy to explain away less-than-wise choices. No one is more accustomed to frogging and not getting things right than a beginning knitter, so I've learned that being fearless and learning new things go hand-in-hand. Not being fearless would mean that I would still be in stockinette or garter-stitch land. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I do like a challenge.

So, when Susoolu asked at a WI meeting for craft items for an upcoming rally, I offered up one of my recent FO's. It didn't occur to me until after Susoolu had collected the item that it might be judged, and this struck a bit of fear in me. What would be said about an item that was made by a beginner who had no idea that it would ever be judged?

So I ask you: Opening yourself up for critique and criticism by submitted a knitted but not-intended-to-be-judged item for judging... fearless knitting, or foolish behavior?

Hooded Baby Blanket

Start-End: March 19 - May 9, 2008
Pattern: Hooded Baby Blanket by Nikol Lohr
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Lake and Charcoal
Needles: US8/5.0 mm
Modifications: Added the "waves" cable pattern (#125) from the Vogue Stitchionary Volumne 2: Cables
New-to-Me Techniques: Cabling without a cable needle

This is pattern is an easy quick knit, perfect for baby showers. The pattern itself is a great canvas to which you can add anything you would like for extra personalization. I had a lot of fun with the cable pattern, though I wish I had left one or two stitches/rows around the pattern to make picking up for the border a bit easier.

The Cotton-Ease is a real great yarn to work with. It is a 50% cotton/acrylic blend that looks lovely but is easier on your hands than 100% cotton.

As for cabling without a cable needle, I found this tutorial from Grumperina, which is very easy and straight forward. There is a moment of potential panic, as you have live stitches off needles, but depending on what your project is, it shouldn't be too scary. It is a very slick trick and I'm glad I learned how to do it.

Border detail

As for the WI rally, the items were judged, and all told I think I came out of it pretty well.

The judge's decision

Not bad! That's 19/20, with the comment that the item may be heavy for a real little baby. It's a fair enough point, but I do like the use of cotton in a baby blanket/hooded towel. As for the recipient, it will soon be mailed off to a little guy who had a rough and early start on life, but is doing ok.

Woolfest 2008

I've had so much I want to share here lately, and not as much time to sit down and share it with you. Today, I'll let pictures do the talking as I share with you images from this year's Woolfest.

The drive to the Lake District is beautiful, regardless of the weather

There are alpacas

Shorn sheep

and Longwool sheep

Live music fills the building

Oversized knitting needles if you would like a challenge

or perhaps you'd prefer a spinning wheel

Colorful jumbles of roving

and neatly bundled ones

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today, I...

Went kayaking in the fjords

Took a hike

That had a great view

Saw beauty on the way to dinner

Turned 30!