May 21, 2008

Two swatches and a cat

It's pink, and it's lacy, but so far that's all I know. Here's a swatch with a few stitch patterns, but no clear favorite. I bought this cotton yarn (Reynolds Saucy) a year ago after I learned to crochet. My intention was to make a lacy jacket thing. But, then I learned to knit. I haven't really crocheted since.

This is the beginning of the Honeycomb vest. It's pretty. The cable twist is kind of a pain in the gluteus maximus, though. The yarn (Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool) is thin and much darker than in these pictures. I'm having a hard time seeing the stitches. I'm getting used to it. And, since it's not for me, I can congratulate myself on what a self-sacrificing martyr I am when the irritation starts building.

It kind of looks like Ziggy is genuflecting to me in this pic. That'll be the day. He's playing on the bed. Like Oprah, he prefers fresh sheets daily, or at least every other day (I heard her say that on her show once). Clean bedding makes him frisky (don't know what effect they have on Oprah). As soon as the sheets hit the mattress, he starts prancing around, arching his back, hissing and acting tough. He does not deign to frolic on unclean sheets. He thinks they're...unclean.

May 17, 2008

Help save a Sun Bear

Hand Knit Bear MittenPerhaps you are thinking, given the photographic evidence, that I’m peculiarly untalented when it comes to knitting socks. It’s true; I have yet to knit a single pair of real socks. I started a pair about a year ago and haven’t progressed beyond the first 2 inches of cuff. However, this particular sock is humongous because it is for a Sun Bear. (It’s a bear bootie, sock or mitten, depending on your preference.)

Malayan Sun Bear at the Oregon ZooMalay Sun Bear at Oregon Zoo. Photo by Stuart Seeger

A couple months ago, Animals Asia Foundation and Oregon Zoo requested help from knitters. Sun Bears need mittens to keep them warm after surgery. The bears need surgery to repair damage from years of living on bear farms in China. The farms are in the business of extracting bile from the animals’ gallbladders. The bile is used in traditional medicine.

It’s not a nice practice. Animals Asia Foundation has been rescuing and rehabilitating bears since 1998. Twisted, a yarn store in Portland, designed a pattern for the bear mittens/booties/socks. Any knitter who has a little time, some machine-washable yarn, and a love of bears, should knit some booties.

Cat and Mitten
Ziggy says, "Be nice to bears...and isn't it past time for my 8pm feeding?"

May 7, 2008

Minimalist Raglan

Although I love Dobby the House Elf in the Harry Potter books, I’ve decided to give up dressing like him. I never meant to become an eyesore. Slovenliness snuck up on me. But, in my defense, it seems like a waste of valuable knitting time to put together a coordinated look in order to sit at home knitting.

Still, one doesn’t want to let these things get out of hand, so I compromised by knitting a house sweater. I’m happy with how it turned out. It’s roomy, comfortable, and looks better than lots of things I wear. It was also fun to knit because I made up the design as I went.

I started only with the intention of knitting a simple sweater with minimal shaping. I determined my gauge and my desired neck width and decided on everything else as things progressed. That’s the beauty of a top-down raglan. You can try it on and adjust things as you go.

I didn’t want any pattern or embellishments on the sweater, but I did add visible decreases on the front and back. I like the rolled hem at the neck, but chose a bumpy garter stitch hem for the bottom and cuffs. On the raglan seams, I increased every other row for the first and last couple of inches, and every third row for the main section. That gave me a roomy but neat looking armhole.

I’m calling this sweater a success even though it’s not gorgeous, and it’s made from yarn of questionable quality. That’s all OK, because the yarn and the design were perfect for my plan of a hanging-around-the-house-doing-dishes-and grooming-the-cat kind of sweater.

Pattern: My version of a basic top-down raglan. Finished chest is about 36".
Needles: size 10 for the body
Yarn: A little less than 6 skeins (750 yards) of Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds, in Beige. 25% wool, 75% acrylic.

May 5, 2008

What would Ricardo Montalbán do?

Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh in the Star Trek episode "Space Seed."*

As a kid, I watched more episodes of the Merv Griffin show than was healthy. It was there, I think, that I heard Ricardo Montalbán say, he had long ago given up on hopes and dreams because they led to disappointment. He tried to be happy with the roles that came his way.

He was probably playing Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island” at the time. I can see how, under the circumstances, his was a healthy attitude. I myself, have, for several decades, enthusiastically been living a life of low expectations. For me, fatalism leads to serenity. Whenever I temporarily get ambitious and try for something better, I go mad.

So, I hope it is more a paradox and less a sign of impending insanity, that I’ve lately been engaged in activities that require a good amount of striving and a fair degree of hope for a happy ending.

I’m over-dramatizing. Here are my two modest dreams.

1) To design a good sweater and share the pattern with the blogosphere,
2) To finish a half marathon without walking, crying, or swearing-off running (swearing and cursing during the race will be allowed when warranted).

To make my dreams come true, I’m in training. The half marathon training is predictable: more mileage, strength workouts, etc. It’s too boring, really, to write about here.

I’ve also completed my first totally-from-scratch sweater. It’s not the “good sweater” I’m working towards, but, more like a useful experiment. I’ll have more details and a photo as soon as it’s blocked.

Facts about Ricardo Montalbán that I learned from Wikipedia and Don:
  1. Ricardo Montalbán’s full name is, Ricardo Gonzálo Pedro Montalbán Merino. Merino? Cool!

  2. It’s been rumored that to achieve a buff look, Mr. Montalbán wore a prosthetic chest during the filming of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” These rumors were denied by Leonard Nimoy in his book “I am Spock.” To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Don and I rented Star Trek II. If Mr. Montalbán’s chest was enhanced, in my opinion, it was only with bronzer and strategically placed duct tape.

  3. In 1984, Mr. Montalbán visited the restaurant, La Pinata (or something like that), in Bellingham, WA, while filming a commercial for the Chyrsler Cordoba. He ordered a chimichanga. Don, who was then a fresh-faced reporter, interviewed the perfectly coifed star on location. Mr. Montalbán was exceedingly gracious.

* Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios This image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.