30 November 2007

Raining on my parade

Evil girl kitty aka Kali, may not be the easiest cat to live with but her litter box training is ingrained so, when earlier in the week she showed signs of inappropriate behaviour, I knew a trip to the vet was in order.

Yesterday I took her in and worked at home after. This morning I started the fight over antibiotics pending while awaiting the lab results.

The morning meds fight combined with the rain to make for a nasty in bound commute. It took an hour to make the 23 mile trip North and much of my drive time looked much like this pic.

Today's news on the kitty front was that, indeed, she has another bladder/urinary tract infection. At 17 it's only her second ever -- not too shabby and pretty good indicator that even though I may have done a few things right in her care and feeding over the years.

More worrisome was the news that she has enough kidney damage to trigger a CRF diagnosis. CRF in this case means Chronic Renal Failure and it's the same thing that killed her brother the much mellower Maka Hupo.

If she can persuaded to shift to an RX diet the progression of the disease might be delayed but the outcome isn't going to change. Lately I'm not loving November news but the first order of business is getting her over the current condition and monitor her health as the underlying disease progresses.

Shifting gears to the knitting front, between Tuesday's tire travails and yesterday's while waiting knitting, I got the orange tam done and ready for its closeup. It follows the same construction as the Borjana beret before it and it is in the same gauge yarn as the beige and the blue before it.

To review, that's pentagon to circle all the way to the desired diameter and then decreases following one of the circle recipes back to ribbing. No blocking required for shaping but no clear canvas of stitches sans increase/decreases to do colour work.

27 November 2007

Solo knitting and the berets

The last couple of months haven't been good group knitting months for me.

Since I got back from Cleveland, eight local group knitting events that I've been known to attend have been scheduled.

Of those, two have been canceled due to rain or fire and I've now missed four of the others. I have managed two of the three Whistlestops since I've been back but the none of the Knitnites nor the Knit togethers.

I'm feeling pretty solo on the knitting front and was really looking forward to this evening's post work get together even though it makes for a very long day.

I arranged the day to run errands and go into work later than usual. It was all going according to plan until one of my tires gave into a fatal attraction for a nail. So I did some unanticipated knitting at Discount Tire and working from home. By the time the tire was fixed and sorted, even the allure of a group knitting fix wasn't enough to join the misery of a North bound trip.

Yesterday I finished knitting the blue beret while on walkabout and moved onto finishing up the orange.

The orange will follow the same morph into circle path of the Borjana beret and the Universal Yarn's acrylic versions.

The blue began as a pentagon and did not morph into a circle.

Instead, once it reached the stitch count where it could easily have made the transition from pentagon to circle, it followed the knit with no increase path of my top down twist on traditional tam/beret construction before decreasing as if it was a circle. It will rely on blocking and the decrease strategy to mimic a circle. In the photos, the pink yarn marks the end of the increases.

The difference between the two methods are subtle and most pronounced from the flat side views.

Since the Borjana beret shifts from reverse stocking to stocking on the decrease side, and because it's the only one using the increase to diameter and decrease back that's done, I've used it as the comparison piece.

When viewed from the top or bottom, there's almost no discernible difference between the differently constructed hats. This shouldn't come as a big surprise since they are all approximately the same diameter.

I put together a little hat sandwich to show how all three of the Cleckheaton hats (beige, blue & orange) compare.

Only the beige, with the additional rows to arrive at the same diameter, will not block flat.

26 November 2007

Mall walking the walkabout way

Even if US retailers aren't seeing the sort of sales they'd like, the allure of the malls make them places for the non-shopper to avoid once Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror.

Since the Fashion Valley Mall is off the Friars Road exit on the 163 and that's just before my usual exits on the commute home. avoiding mall traffic is not something I can easily avoid. Even before the buildup of the South Bay, I did not have a warm fuzzy feeling about the mall during the holiday season.

In recent years, if I go to a mall during the holiday season it is more often than not on foot. This has an extra hint of fun when mall shoppers are on the prowl for parking spots. There I am calm and unhurried looking to the parking spot prowler like I'm the answer to their parking prayer. Okay, it's evil but I like it.
With that in mind, on Sunday I took my beret in progress (the blue one) on walkabout down to Fashion Valley and The Container store.

Beginning in Hillcrest on First Avenue, when you cross Washington, First becomes a one way street. Go one block to Lewis. Lewis is a one way street. Turn right and go one block to Lewis & Bachman Place. Left on Bachman Place and you're on your way down the hill.

The route is something of an insider info for locals and at one point the road that takes you from Hillcrest by the hospitals down to Hotel Circle South was gated and privately owned by UCSD.

The street, Bachman Place, was a back way for ambulances to quickly get from the 8 up to the hospitals. The gates are long gone and the long stretch of hill has changed from a no parking zone to pay parking slots.

The private bit of Bachman was just below the intersection of Bachman & Arbor. Here's the view from Arbor & Bachman looking down the hill. There's a UCSD parking lot to the right and the UCSD parking garage to the left down the hill.

Looking back the other way, you can see that we're already on a bit of a hill. I often wish when I'm on these rambles that I could easily measure the grade of the hill I'm on. Gmaps pedometer estimates that the hill is just under 6/10ths of a mile from Arbor to Hotel Circle South.

There's some street crossing and stop signs along the way as there are entrances and exits from the parking structure. Once you're past the stop sign that marks the garage exit, check the mirror before stepping off the curb, it's all down hill and a bit winding. There's no bike lane but it is a popular hill for cyclists.

There are now 60 pay parking slots on the hill. One sign indicates that these slots are UCSD parking lot # P963 with cars needing a UCSD parking permit.

I'm not sure how strictly that's enforced but the machine that takes payment is very clear that it doesn't give change and there are a number of these signs along the way.

Sixty slots and bad short term memory would not be a good story here and think how much it would suck to be in slots 40 and above if the pay station machine spit out a permit that you'd need to display on your dashboard.

At the bottom of the hill Bachman ends at Hotel Circle South between the Holiday Inn and the Days Hotel.

Turn Right on Hotel Circle and follow it around and under the 8 freeway. At the other end of the underpass there's a light where Hotel Circle South becomes Hotel Circle North to the left and intersects with Camino de la Reina to the right.

Cross at the light, turn right and walk on the grass for a bit until the sidewalk starts again by the Union Tribune.

The next light turn left into the back entrance of Fashion Valley. If, like me, you're a pedestrian, this is where it gets really dangerous as distracted drivers abound.

If Mission Valley is your goal, you can continue straight on Camino de la Reina although disappearing sidewalks make the journey way a dicey proposition as you cross under the 163 just beyond the turn into Fashion Valley.

If you've ever been to a TKGA convention in San Diego, you may be familiar with the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center . The intersection of the Hotel Circles and Camino de la Reina is right where the Town & Country's Kelly's Steakhouse is located.

If you've visited San Diego and your hotel was on either side of Hotel Circle this route will get you from the restaurants and other amenities of Hillcrest & downtown San Diego back down to your hotel/motel.

Because First above Washington and Lewis are both one way streets, you can't just reverse the directions and get up the hill to Hillcrest & downtown. If coming the other way it's either a left onto Lewis from Bachman and then a right merge/yield onto 4th to bring you out to 4th & Washington or a right onto Montecito Way and a left onto Front Street to bring you out at Front & Washington.

From my place to The Container Store and back is just about 5.6 miles round trip. I took a minor detour to clock about 7 and change before ending the day.

23 November 2007

Kisses, gnomes, elfin hats & question authorities

The brown/beige hat's knitting recipe was born of a long ago mistake that has given birth to any number of knitted flowers.

It has also inspired speculation about rather rude knitted projects that the shape suggested to some.

The mistake BTW, did not originate with me. It originated with me following the recipe laid out by Mary Thomas in Mary Thomas' Knitting Patterns which was a significant source of my virtual seminar on knitted polygons.

Mary Thomas' recipe has a swirl pentagon recipe that alternates increase rounds with rest rounds (no increases) and while that knitting recipe may lay flat for some people in some gauge in some stitch patterns it never has for me. I maintain that the swirl pentagon, like most other swirl pentagons must increase in every round to lie flat without blocking.

Back to hats, when I embarked on the latest hat knitting frenzy, this one was the wild card project with much of its knitting in a TBD mode so naturally it ended up being the first one I finished.

I did five purl points to "finish" the increase lines of the pentagon and then I did a series of extreme decreases to bring the stitch count down to the 75-80% of total stitch count I prefer for my ribbings. This sharp decrease nips the piece in hard and forms a base much like a beret or tam.

It really does look like a bleached out Hershey's Kiss and could be modified to be a bit more like a gum drop.

It could also easily be modified to be an upside down acorn or strawberry hat. Depending upon the underlying head size it could also be seen as a bit elfin or gnomish.

It's whimsical, fun and warm. It didn't have a target head to warm while it and the other Borjana beret inspired projects were in process but recent events have made my where should they go decision a bit easier -- big easier.

14 November 2007

Just in case you wondered or wish list moments

The Container Store catalog & Knitpicks both arrived in the mail the other day and my wish list musings began in earnest. My wish list isn't a suggestion for others sort of thing -- good thing that since my "others" are few, far between and dwindling. If any of those few get the hint, great, but I've been my own best Santa for a long time and I'm good with that.

I love The Container Store -- no, really. I've always been a fan of gizmos and gadgets designed to help organise your stuff. A piece of me understands that this is a losing battle but I still like things that you can put other things into and believe in the holy grail of perfect organisation systems.

Several years ago, when a store opened here in San Diego, I made a couple of major shopping trips to organise the stash and put some systems together to keep bills and other stuff from disappearing into the hell hole that is often my office.

Since one of my odd family gift giving traditions has been of the kewl stocking stuffer variety -- small thoughtful gifts that get absorbed into daily life and are a more constant reminder of the relationship long after the big gift has broken or otherwise lost it's provenance.

My The Container Store gifts to my mum got so popular with her that not only was I buying for her but also for her as in "You know those wonder paper soap things you bought me last year? Could you please buy an assortment for me to give to other people?" I'll took that as a nice affirmation that I give good gift.

Besides the sort out you life stuff, The Container Store also has quite a bit of fun odd ball stuff that is just the ticket for the stuffing of stockings or the small gift a day over the course of 8 that this time of year brings to mind.

Before the you can buy almost anything on the internet mail order catalogues filled that same odd shopping niche.
My mother was big on shopping from catalogues and from her hits and misses in the gift giving arena I came to get a glimpse into how broad a range of products can be had from an insane array of catalogues.

There's lots of overlap with up market sources carrying the same items as the kitsch korners like Harriet Carter, Lillian Vernon and scores of others I've yet to stumble upon. The upmarket sources, of course, tend to up the price tag. So when the catalogue comes I mark my for me, good for others and can I get the same damn thing somewhere else for less picks and then I stew a bit, revisit and plan a buying binge.

On the KnitPicks front, I've not been an early or even a late adopter/devotee of their stuff and my experience with their needles has been mostly a yes, needles can actually be too damned sharp, but needles, not yarn are the budget busters for me so just a few more in the 6 and under cable needle variety could be just the ticket. Also in the mix is Knit Kimono. Yes, I know I can and have designed my own but I like the book and have been trying to match it up with a Borders coupon for months now without success.

So if any of the gift givers are reading this -- think gift certificate and KnitPicks -- more tools for me means more knit stuff for you.

13 November 2007

Drafts begone and hats off

The drafts be gone reference is just doing the delete thing and not trying to play catch up with posts in the queue.

So the queue got purged and, with a bit of luck, I'll have more luck not getting backed up.

Having mentioned traditional tam/beret construction, in a duh moment about the Borjana beret, I've been knitting up examples since.

I am, of course, doing this in part because the gauge on the mittens to match the hat are not working out all that well and because other potentially deadline driven projects aren't immediately on the horizon (a possible grump there).

I've three berets/tams on the needles and a couple of mistake pentagon projects that might really test the power of blocking.

Three of them are relatively fine gauge (size 4 US 3.5mm needles) using the same Cleckheaton Country 8-ply I used for the DNA scarves and a third colour of the same stuff I picked up from the Guild sale.

Two of these three also explore a couple of variations on pentagon into circle knitting and some simple knit/purl experiments in design.

The blue beret/tam will be blocked into submission ala the traditional method of construction and won't even follow the pentagon increase into circle increase path.

To match up with the Borjana beret and complete the design element I've started, I'll need to knit the blue out to 160 stitches and then work plain (no increases) for about another 15 rounds. I'll decrease back down by reversing on of the centre out circle recipes.

The orange will morph from pentagon to circle at 160 stitches. Then I'll increase the circle until it matches up in diameter to blue and the Borjana beret before decreasing down to the ribbing. Like the blue and the Borjana before I'll decrease as if I'd been knitting a circle all along.

The third fine gauge version is an example of an "oops" or what happens when a swirl pentagon gets a rest row between increase rounds. I've not made a final decision about what path I'll follow with that one.

The beige and blue at the same stitch count have a significantly different diameter when they have the same stitch count. As I was working the beige, I had a thought that in metallic grey/silver or a rich chocolate brown this would make the most adorable chocolate kisses hat for a kidling. I may have to look into that.

The final example is slightly larger gauge version (6US) and a bit less blockable since it's an acrylic.

This is one of the Universal Yarns yarns that surprises even fibre snobs. I love this stuff and think it is just perfect for relatively quick knits for the easy care life style.

Four out of the five will be matching up to the Borjana beret using slightly different increase/decrease and construction methods.

The beige is the wildcard.

11 November 2007

Pink doncha think?

Today's the day that the new and improved (from when I did it back in 2002) San Diego 3 day breast cancer walk goes from OB to East Village & Petco Park.

The theme for the day seemed to be pink and even the trees knew to strut their stuff and show support to the walkers.

I'd already done my homework and knew that the last cheering station location was by the bridge across Park Boulevard.

It was a good thing
that I'd hit the web for info the day before because I was internet-less for most of the day as Cox Communications internet network outage put a real crimp in my plans.

That outage delayed my out the door start, and while I was glad to have confirmation that it was their system not mine, I was still looking at 100% packet loss on pings to my gateway.

The tech guys suggested that there were multiple problems (I'd seen first sync problems in the wee hours) across the network and no estimated time of correction. Really bad news when I'm feeling very blogg-ish.

Even with the sleep in (hey, I went to bed at 3am and was up by 10) and a sanity check to ISP, my out the door was early enough to make the Farmer's Market. So, after a tuck up the knitting a toss a coin about route, I went up the alley and right on University away from the park.

So while my ISP network was down the social network was up and strong.

Although I have many friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and the like who have done this walk over the years, I have yet to run into any of them during the course of the walk with the exception of the wonderful Luis Leon who, like me, wasn't walking that year but just happened to be in Hillcrest on the weekend of the walk.

So imagine my surprise when I'm less than two blocks on my way when I walk directly into the only team I sponsored this year. I got a hello, a hug and a thank you -- it was an unexpected and lovely moment. I, of course, gave back the stock issue encouraging words and hug or two of my own.

When I did the walk, the hardest part for me was the fund raising. I've never forgotten that a virtual stranger, fellow knitter and veteran of the event, wrote one of my biggest cheques and made the event possible for me.

In the years since I've done what I could, as I could, to make this walk happen for others. Sometimes what's been required is money, sometimes training, sometimes just emotional support and brainstorming.

I was, of course, knitting and while I heard some "knitter" shout outs, I didn't see any of my fellow knitter/3-dayers and there was just too much pink as I was feeling like a salmon swimming upstream.

There was a bit of a sprinkle thing starting as I passed the fire station so after I tapped the ATM, I paralleled the walkers' route by taking Robinson back home to check the network ping status and grab a rain jacket.

With no joy on the network status, I headed back out going down Park Boulevard. I was on the North side of the street until the bridge by the rose garden when I crossed over and continued down to President's Way and into the park.

Park and President's Way was porta-potty central and no coverage/discussion of the 3 day walk would be complete without a porta potty moment -- trust me.

I stopped into the Mingei, Old Globe and Museum of Man shops before crossing the bridge out to 6th. As I was walking along 5th, I ran into yet another Shakespeare related friend -- crazy coincidence.

Before rolling home, veered off to stop in at the Von's on the Mission Hills/Hillcrest border. I did manage to briefly lose a knitting needle that suffered a shopping cart incident while separated from the fold.

Before heading out, I set up both recently purchased step counter/pedometers. The two differ in their count by -- big surprise -- but the difference is not huge. Between their counts and g-maps pedometer I logged about 10.5 miles on the day. And I did it while wearing flip flops & knitting.

01 November 2007

Disc Redux or Circling back 'round to an Ooops

Happy Celtic New Year, Day of the Dead and, for me, a return to mobility, the knees have not been happy with recent weather shifts so it has been hobble hobble, ice and isolation. Kali has, of course, been very sympathetic and, as a result, damned near killed me on more than one occasion. This is the cat whose follow along in front has caused two broken toes -- pish.

Recent forays into the circle of round knitting got me to revisit the different increase methods to form knitted approximations of a circle.

While I was looking for clarification, I found an oops in my 1 November 2006 entry on Mary Thomas' recipe for knitting the disc form of a circle.

Without reknitting a disc circle, I'm revisiting my notes and will not only be correcting the original blog entry but also adding a comment to document the corrections.

Sorry, but at least I admit mistakes and fix them.