Monday, July 30

Too many holes.

Caution. Minor HP spoilers ahead.

I used to work at a leading independent children's bookstore, owned by an energetic mover and shaker in the world of selling children's books. Therefore, just about any author of children or teen lit on tour would come to our store and I met a lot of them. I never met the author whose name rhymes with bowling, she only toured for her first book and that was before I started my job. The boss and manager had dinner with her way back then. Thought she was a nice woman and that her book had some potential.

I did meet, twice, a nice young woman whose name sort of rhymes with Hay Shears. On her second book tour, I had a chance to chat with her before her reading. I wasn't trying to be mean or anything, but sometimes I ask questions without thinking them through. I was trying to be sympathetic to the challenges of writing when I commented on (one of) the continuity errors. As she developed the characters and found it would really help to tweak the past, she must have had to wrestle with the editor? How did an author decide to change facts from book to book? She gave me a deer in the headlights look and asked what I meant. Well, I said, one of the main character's grandmother lived in one state and had had limited contact with her grandkids over the years. In the next book, grandma lived in a different state and the grandkids had (until a few years ago) spent significant parts of their summers with her. No. She had not realized this, nor had the editor caught it. Oops.

One European author who is popular abroad didn't need to tour the US so I haven't met her. I got to read the galley of her second book (second published in America that is, riding on the reading wave sparked by Ms Rhymes with Bowling) right after it arrived at the store and it was a good read, but oh dear, the climax of that book had a glaring error. At one point, two people are locked in a building as two other people leave. The building is being watched; any activity would have been noticed. Then someone sets fire to the building so as I was reading I was worrying about the folks trapped inside. Well, the author wasn't --- somehow they ended up somewhere else. The galley had a very friendly note asking for comments, so I very helpfully emailed the editor. I hoped this could be caught before the final version was printed? I got a polite thank you, but I don't think anyone actually read the email or else didn't care. The book was published just like the galley. Did anyone else ever notice, I wonder? (props if you did. let me know.)

Ms Rowling has written seven books with the same characters. Seven! She's done an admirable job overall with continuity within and between volumes. So consistent that I could forgive occasional lapses, such as the fact that at the end of one book, Harry has lost his Marauder's Map to someone not inclined to give it back. However, at the beginning of the next book it is back in his possession. And the lack of internal consistency on whether or not apparition makes noise. And on and on, actually. There are lots of continuity errors, but I've been willing to forgive them. Overall the books have been good stories with decent consistency.

I finished Book Seven and enjoyed it. Didn't like the epilogue. Really didn't like the epilogue. But my husband thought perhaps she wanted to stress that these folks lived regular ordinary boring happy lives and therefore she was Not Going To Write About Them Anymore. I also noticed in chapter one a squat man with a wheezy giggle who was on the Dark Side and who took special delight in the fact that the Ministry had been infiltrated. Who was he? Was he in the Ministry? JK is usually good about following up on these sorts of clues, so I expected him to reappear. Two short men with high pitched, wheezy voices did appear: Elphias Doge and Deadalus Diggle. Which one was an agent for evil? What would happen to the Dursleys? Well, nothing was said again. I was irked. But oh well. Easy to forgive. And no one else I have talked to found it troubling.

This weekend I decided it was time to restart Book Seven. I had memorized the edging pattern for Leda's Dream and figured I could knit while rereading, to see if I was justified in being irked about the anonymous short wheezy guy and maybe I would understand the whole Elder Wand thing better. But on page one, I started thinking about chapter one and the rest of the book and a huge plot hole became apparent. A quick check of a scene near the end of the book confirmed it. I was stunned. I was furious. How could such a major glaring error in time sequencing have been allowed?

This is perhaps the straw that breaks the hippogriff's back. I am surprised at myself for my reaction but I am really pissed off. Does anyone else know which error I must mean? Am I overreacting?

Monday, July 23

Seven Things

1. I am not reading blogs or much of the internet at all, so I don't stumble across spoilers before I finish HP7. I ought to finish by this afternoon, now that F and Z are gone and there isn't any competition for the book. One blog exception is Erika, since I was pretty sure she wouldn't be posting any spoilers. She just have a birthday, so go over and wish her many happy returns, if you haven't already.

2. I finished the pillow and have sewn two bags.

3. My introverted family went out of our boring comfort zone and volunteered to host a Japanese student here on a student trip for two weeks. Zach studies Japanese and we are thinking of traveling to Japan next year. I've always wanted to host a foreign exchange student, but the timing never worked out until now. So this was a great opportunity. We said on the application that we would be willing to host an adult accompanying the students. It turned out that we did get an adult, H, which was fine by me. I have to admit I was a bit relieved to get an adult who has traveled before and knows English very well for our first experience with this sort of thing. H is the trip coordinator and works for a travel agency. While she has traveled a lot, in the past on these student trips she has stayed by herself in a hotel, which was quiet and lonely. She is happy to be with a family.

4. H is from Nagasaki. The flower of Nagasaki is the Hydrangea, and ours are in full bloom right now.

5. A few weeks ago, when a friend offered to pick up Stitch and Pitch tickets, while we were still debating whether to volunteer to be a host family, I went ahead and ordered an extra ticket, just in case. Would our student want to attend a baseball game with us? And would the student be interested in sitting with a bunch of knitters? I didn't know, but the tickets aren't expensive so it seemed worth the gamble. H is interested, in fact she asked about baseball, since the Mariners have a player from Nagasaki.

6. And she crochets. But she still thinks it's a little strange to have knitters attend a baseball game, but I think once she is there it will make more sense.

7. Last year Franz and Zach came to Stitch and Pitch, but it is looking like Franz will be going on a business trip to California the end of this week. But his boss is a little flaky when it comes to finalizing schedules, so we don't know yet. I am not sure about Zach, but I am guessing that without Franz, he might be less interested in attending. Therefore we may have two extra tickets. If anyone is interested in them, let me know.

Tuesday, July 17

Happy Yellow Pig's Day!

Wednesday, July 11

On Ravelry

I confess I am on ravelry. Didn't want to admit it because before I got my invite I hated reading folks blogging about it. But it's time to fess up so I can add my 2 cents.

First, some data. I first read about ravelry on Jessica's blog, on May 1. I immediately put my name on the waiting list. I got my invite on May 31st. I think the wait has grown a bit from one month.

What is ravelry? Mostly it's a database to allow knitters and crocheters to list their projects by various attributes. So if you want to see pea pod jackets, you search on that. All the pea pods show up along with what yarn the knitter used. Then you can go to that knitter's page and find more details. Any modifications, how much yarn was used, any blog post with more details, more photos. Or search on other designs by the same designer. Or fall in love with the yarn and search on that. We want this. I know we want this because that's the kind of searches that folks use to find my blog. Ever since I blogged about my flower basket shawl in Sea Silk I got tons of hits for sea silk. Isn't that what you would do? After taking the plunge and paying over 30 bucks for one skein of yarn, wouldn't you look for as many design choices as possible? And when you find someone's data, don't you want to know needle size and the size of the finished garment and maybe even how much yarn was left over?

Recently I blogged about Leda's Dream. Within 48 hours I got about a dozen hits from folks searching for this. At first I figured that it was the same person, but then realized that the searches were coming from all over the world. Sure, Leda's Dream is "hot" right now since it was Melanie's Mystery Stole 1 and so many of us are going gaga blogging about mystery stole 3. But still. Anyway, Jenny Raye has the most drop dead gorgeous Leda's Dream imaginable, if you want to see it, click here to get to her blog post.

Ravelry is designed to be more efficient than searching blogs. It is. Mostly. As it gets bigger and more folks' projects are listed, I worry that it will lose some of its charm and effectiveness. Remember, data is only as good as what someone has input. So when more people join, if they are lazy or sloppy or forgetful or clueless and don't add details and photos, using ravelry could get frustrating. Maybe Jess and Casey can implement some "how useful was this information?" attribute. Then when someone searches for a popular design, they won't have to wade through all the folks who just mention that they are knitting but don't add any valuable information.

So if you knit or crochet and are not in the ravelry queue yet? Sign up. In the meanwhile, get yourself a flickr account and start loading all your photos. WIPs, FOs, Stash, etc. Use flickr's functionality to record details about each item. Then you will be all ready to be a contributor to ravelry instead of just a consumer.

So why can't we all get into ravelry? Well even though I have a master's degree in computer science, before I got my invite, I was privately indignant about that and didn't understand. Even if I couldn't become a member yet, why not let me look? Now I understand. The number of members is a factor in scalability, but really what they have to limit is the number of folks using it at any given time. Each of those lovely addictive searches we members do takes bandwidth. Bandwidth that Jess and Casey have to pay for. At least until google or Interweave purchases the company or something.

A suggestion if they read this (and from seeing other blogs that mention ravelry and get a comment from Jess or Casey, it does appear that they might). For those in the queue, chomping at the bit, could there be a limited access available? Maybe 10 on the waitlist per day get a 24 hour window to play around with searches so that they can at least see what the fuss is about?

Oh, and Casey, if you read this. My husband's jaw dropped when I showed him the site. He's a computer engineer and understood exactly what it took to make ravelry. Some features that I took for granted he was flabbergasted about, saying that they were really hard. He said you were more productive in 6 months of evenings and weekends than his team of developers were in 6 months at work. So, everyone else., if you get to ravelry and find a bug or get irked that some feature isn't perfect, consider that.

Tuesday, July 10

Oh well.


knit, knit, sew, sew

Just a few photos to show what I've been doing.

Mystery Stole 3. Clue 2 finished:

A simple sewing project using thrift store fabric. A grocery bag from The Impatient Patchworker, by Jayne Emerson. No, it isn't patchwork, but it was thrift store cotton and I am a novice at sewing. Just wanted something to practice with.

Also from The Impatient Patchworker, a pillow top. My first plunge into fat quarters will most likely not be my last. This will cover a garage sale pillow and live in the guest room, which has new curtains made of one of the fabrics (I believe it is the only fabric to be in each of the five rows. )
Now to get back to Leda's Dream. A dream of a stole and a dream of a yarn combo.

Only in Seattle?



Friday, July 6


Originally uploaded by madorville
that I am taller than my chicken.


Originally uploaded by madorville
Early July and we have fruit! More proof that Seattle summer came earlier than usual. More photos and details on my flickr page.


I have already finished Mystery Stole Three Clue Two!
just kidding! But it is downloaded, printed and 28% completed.

Since two of the big wheels in knit-blogdom, Bonne Marie and Stephanie, blogged about joining Mystery Stole 3 (signups close any minute now) the number of members doubled in a couple hours. I trust Melanie can take the excitement. Why would so many people be willing to invest their knitting time and money into a project where they don't know what it will look like? And me, I even dyed yarn specially for this.

The first two clues have each have about 5000 stitches. Not too overwhelming, especially in installments. I do expect to be finished with clue two today or tomorrow. Lace provides such a fun challenge. Melanie has added to that with a hidden theme. She won't reveal the theme for a while, but we do know that a stole closely following the theme would be either white or black but she warned us not plan to use this as a wedding shawl. Most likely the theme is a tragic love story. (Madame Butterfly? Swhan Lake? Othello? Knitters have been guessing.)

I do enjoy knitting for intellectual puzzles. New stitches, new stitch patterns, new yarns, new yarn combinations, new colors all stimulate the desire to knit. Erika offered a different sort of kntting challenge, when a while ago she discovered a handwritten cryptic pattern in her great aunt's knitting books. Numbers, letters in knitting shorthand and just a few words. Two important words --- sleeve & body --- told us that it's a sweater. The 'k' is clearly a knit stitch, but nothing else was evident. Page one seems to be missing, this starts on row 29. What's the size, the gauge, the cast-on? Can we reconstruct a pattern from it? To follow the discussion so far, go to Erika's blog, find the search box in the right hand column and search for Helen.

If you do, you can see many different interpretations were considered. I took a mathematical approach. How many k's, o's, sp's were in each row? How did the number of stitches change from row to row? In answering those questions, I finally narrowed it down. The only way I could make it work was to identify the o's as yarn overs and the sp's as a double decrease. That's the crux. Who, at first glance would think of a double decrease?

Basic pattern. multiple of 6 plus 3.

DD = double decrease. I slip two together knitwise, knit one, pass two stitches over.

Row 1: K3 *yo DD yo K3* repeat in asterisk til end of row.
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: K6 *yo DD yo K3* repeat til last three stitches, K3
Row 4: Purl

repeat for pattern.

Helen's notes look a lot more complicated because she's making a sweater from the top down, with raglan increases following the stitch pattern. Can you see in the swatch below where I increased? Swatch is done with Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece on US7s. This would make a nice simple lacy summery sweater.

Thursday, July 5

Windows and Gutters

Getting the gutters and windows cleaned today.

Our house is pretty easy, only one story, the roof pitch isn't bad. But the front picture window is right under a deep eave. A little challenging to access with a ladder. So as the fellow was standing in the shrubbery below with the ladder stymied, I said, "Well, do you have a longer handle for your squeegee? You don't need the ladder at all. That's how I'd do it." He replied, "Great idea, one would think you did this for a living."

Actually, I did. I worked for a window washing company one summer many years ago.

Dunno if that really is weird, but it's perhaps an unusual occupation. I did promise six weird things for that meme last winter and I only got to two. This makes three. Will I reveal more?

Wednesday, July 4


I covet this:From Louisa Harding's Modern Classics.

The softness, the delicacy, the style! Hard to tell from the photo, but there are 4 different lace columns asymmetrically repeated. If I could only knit one more sweater in my entire life, this would be it.

The book has some wonderful designs and some terrible instructions. Charts where the keys don't match the symbols in the chart. Sweater sets where the outer sweater has two inches less ease than the inner one. Complex stitches -- such as p2tog tbl --- that are not described in the glossary, while pages are devoted to describing simple stitches. (Does every book need to explain knit and purl?) And the chart for this sweater is a confusing jumble that would be impossible to follow without previous lace experience. If I make this sweater, I'll use Ann Budd's book of sweater patterns for the details and use the pattern for inspiration.

Having used Ann Budd and Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system, I am slowly learning how *I* want a sweater to fit, which is different than either Ann or Liz. For instance, Ann tends to have the sleeve circumference at the armhole at 50% of chest measurement. EZ says to make this 33%. Well, Ann's proportions are part of my problem with Franz's Cambridge Jacket, the arms are too big. EZ's proportions, on the other hand, mean my Fibonacci Sweater's sleeves are turning out to be tighter than I would prefer. I suspect that the differences lie in how much ease one wants or expects in the chest measurement. I have not a clue how to modify a set in sleeve design for more or less ease in the arm, but EZ's percentage system for a raglan can be personalized just fine.

I am still puzzled about cardigan designs. I read over and over that the backs and fronts must match, and sure, in pullovers that's easy to accomplish. But Cardigans have button bands. Therefore, I would assume that designers would account for the width of the button band and make the fronts a wee bit narrower than 1/2 the back. That's not the case though. In almost all patterns I have read, each front gets exactly half the number of stitches cast on for the back. Why?

So far, the sweater on the left, Diamond Mesh from Knitter's Magazine, Summer 2007, is the only exception I have found. The back has six more stitches than the sum of the fronts. (I like this sweater a lot.)

Wait. One more exception. That red sweater above I covet? It has the traditional button band knit on sideways, 6 rows worth. But the fronts added together have two more stitches than the back.

Tuesday, July 3


My list of finished knits includes a large proportion of lace.

Branching Out in Noro Cash Iroha
Mountain Stream in Madil Kid Seta
Cece in Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool
Spinner's Shawl in Corriedale - Romney from Oregon Trail Natural Fibers
Flower Basket Shawl in Handmaiden Sea Silk
Estonian Garden in Frog Tree Alpaca

Lace satisfies an itch, an itch to try new technique, new fiber, new color, new pattern. And once you've bound off, just block and you are done! No sleeves to seam, no zippers to sew in. Well, Cece is a sweater, but is very simply constructed.

It's no surprise then that I have two lace shawls on the needles. Both are designed by Melanie.

Leda's Dream is almost half finished. I am knitting this on US6 addi lace needles (would have used 7's if addi would only make them) combining one strand of Zephyr and one strand of Madil Kid Seta. I love it, especially the Swan's Wing lace pattern, which I believe is from Barbara Walker. The central all-over pattern is also easy to learn and looks good. I could see a lightweight afghan knit with just that pattern and a garter strip border. She designed this as a mystery stole, offering the pattern for free in serial form two summers ago. Now she sells the pattern for a very affordable 2 dollars.

I joined Melanie's second mystery stole last summer, but never started. Turned out that the design never called to me. But I couldn't resist joining again this year. Why, when I have so many ideas of what to knit, would I join a group to knit a stole where I would not know the final design til late in the game? I don't know. Figured it couldn't hurt --- I wasn't required to cast-on. Well, we got the first clue and I have cast on, using some hand-dyed Henry's Attic Carerra and addi lace US5s. We still don't know the final shape of the stole, but it won't be a triangle. After 100 rows, there are 99 stitches on the needles, and Melanie says that's as many as we get. So, is this going to be knit on the bias or will it have pointy ends? Time will tell. The outer pattern is a variation of the Swan's wing pattern from Leda's Dream. I love the way she made that work, especially in the corner.

Monday, July 2


I tend to have holes in my blogging. My intentions to blog, to record everyday happenings, tend to be stronger than my follow through. Sometimes it's just hard to justify the time to craft a post. But enough blogging about not blogging. Let's talk about holes. Knitting with holes.

I learned a lot of knitting from books. I don't have any fancy way of holding the yarn and picking or throwing, I just loop the yarn around the needle. Inefficient, but it works for me. Learning the basics of lace, I understood, or at least I thought I did, the idea of a yarn over. Just make that loop around the needle without having put said needle into an existing stitch. No sweat. I played with some swatching, but then I made the mistake then of looking at a book and good golly, there were six different instructions for Yarn Overs! That confused the hell out of me. I finally realized that all of them did the same thing. The instructions were just to show the most efficient way of getting that YO in there without actually putting the loop on the needle in a separate step. The six different instructions explained what to do when working between two knit stitches, between two purls, going from a knit to a purl, etc. Now I have found a knitting book that even gives them different names. Instead of instructing one to make a YO, the instructions have yfrn, yrn, yon, and yo. I ask you. Does any knitter need or want instructions that contain all four variants?