Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delivery Imminent

deliveryI got some news recently that reminded me of the episode of Keeping Up Appearances in which Hyacinth is expecting the arrival of her new three-piece suite which is an exact replica of one at Sandringham House and is to be delivered by a van displaying the royal warrant. In order to make sure that her neighbors (especially that nosy pseudo-hyphenated Mrs. Barker-Finch at number 23) know all about it, she directs poor Richard to set up traffic cones in front of their house, along with a sign reading, NO PARKING. DELIVERY IMMINENT.

No parking, indeed. Because it turns out the baby for whom I’m knitting this blanket, originally thought to be arriving sometime in mid-December, will now make her appearance on Monday, November 29. Two days from now. As in day after tomorrow. Imminently.

Well, the blanket will be getting there some time after that – a not-quite- so-imminent delivery on my part. I finished square number 100 just a few minutes ago, but I still have to re-weave a few of the early ends I wove in before I tried a new method that I’m happier with, and I still have to attached the applied I-cord edging. But the end is very much near.

IMG_3043And, I got a rare request for a handknit item this holiday weekend. My youngest niece requested a pair of blue socks – so that her feet wouldn’t be cold. Gracie hates being cold. I’m happy to oblige! One evening while she was here, I whipped up a prototype. All I had was a dirty machine-knit sock snatched from her dirty clothes pile to work from for a size reference, and I’m afraid it turned out a bit small. But the cool thing was, I totally knit it while watching TV for a few hours, and didn’t consult a pattern once! While it didn’t fit, she adored the color, so it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something she likes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I’ve finished 9 of the 10 rows – 90%! It’s actually starting to feel like this project will be finished.

Plugging along. I got to work on this during the week more than I thought I would – plus at various knitting groups meetings. One of which was at my house. So fun to have everyone here. All I had to do was make some coffee. We talked about all our crazy families, Thanksgiving plans, and the bizarre phenomenon of TV shows about people who don’t know they’re pregnant. It was the general consensus among us all, although only a couple of us have ever carried children, that one should know these things.

After everyone left, I caught Miss Mess relaxing quite comfortably – on the blanket! Luckily, she wasn’t interested in pawing at it, chewing on it, or otherwise molesting it. She was more intent on the squirrels that were taunting her outside the window. But it was a bit of a wake up call. It’s so easy to get complacent about such things, and although Kate is by no means an evil dog, it is in her nature to be inquisitive around un-anchored soft things.

As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes have to knit the squares into a corner. Because I couldn’t quite figure it out, I’ve been knitting them separately and then sewing them in. The seams look a bit different, but they’re acceptable to me. But today, the inevitable happened. I sewed one of the squares in with the wrong side showing. It took nearly an hour to pick out the woven in ends and re-do it. But it’s undetectable at this point.

I’m hoping that I can get the final row (and dare I hope the I-cord edging?) done during this long holiday weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seven Tenths

For reasons that are murky to me – but probably have something to do with guilt – I picked up the Tamarix Quilt again this week. And, I was able to add a whole row. This row had four squares that had to be sewn in by hand, due to my inability to knit squares into the corners, so I might have even been able to crank out more. I’m hoping to get some more work in on it tomorrow

In other knitting news, I’ve had a hankering to make myself a button-up cardigan. My office gets cold. It’s on a northeast-facing external wall. I’ve been using an old cotton hoodie for those times when it gets a bit chilly, but that needs to change. I need something a bit more librarian-y and Mister Rogers-ish. The pattern I’ve picked out is Kerouac by Jenn Jarvis. I’m not going to make mine striped, though. Gray is the color being considered. I wanted to knit something on small needles, and this fits the bill. I did get some yarn last week for my birthday, but it didn’t quite work out. It was a bit thinner than sport-weight, so by the time I got gauge, the fabric was too loose. I’m thinking of doing some shopping over at Knitpicks. If anyone has a favorite sport-weight yarn that would work for this, speak up!

On Friday, I attended a meeting of local academic librarians. One top of getting great ideas, I was pleased to see that two other librarians brought their needlework with them. One was using Tunisian Crochet to make a scarf. I totally want to use this technique – I think it would be great for place mats. Staci used this technique a while back to make a most awesome baby blanket, and has recently put yet another one of her helpful instructional videos on Tunisian Crochet. Everyone should know how to do this. It’s so easy, and the results are so cool.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Medical History: Diagnosing with Yarn

Today, I depart from the usual tediously detailed ramblings on knitting to bring you a little story about how colored yarn was used in early research into color blindness. Interesting, no?

I'm currently reading Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, by Guy Deutscher. It's quite good so far. In the early part of the book, there is a section about how the vocabulary of color arose (or didn't) in various languages and what that might have to say about cultural development. As it happens, at the same time that linguists were talking about color vocabulary, the concept of color-blindness was recognized.

And an early tool in the diagnosing of color blindness was something called the Holmgren Test for Color Blindness. Devised by Swedish professor Alarik Holmgren after a horrible color-blindness-related train crash, this test was used to determine color blindness in employees of occupations related to public transportation and shipping and other trades where being able to discern color accurately was of great importance. This tool was also used in cultural anthropology research to test the detail of color vocabulary amongst various groups -- for instance, noting whether a language discriminated between blue and black, for instance.

In the color-blindness application, those being tested were asked to choose from among the available scraps of yarn for the 10 pieces that best matched, say, a light green. Clicking on the image above will take you to the web site for the the UK's Science Museum's website on the history of medicine. From there, clicking on the image takes you to a very large version where you can read the tester's instructions inside the lid of the box. I think it's cool that some of these original 19th-century kits have been preserved -- and that the pieces of wool inside are still so vibrant -- assuming those are still the originals.

Thus endeth the lesson.