28 February 2008

Soft sculpture and comfy chairs

With the wedding cake sorted, the comfy chair got its last bit of styling and soft sculpture.

The first photo is a close up of the throw that was thrown aside as too big.

Even though I really like it, I don't see why it shouldn't go back to the lovely Liz for her to use as either a sales sample swatch or as some little treat on one of her projects.

The smaller version is equally lovely but less photogenic.

In a few of the photos here you can see how well the Jingleberries colourway works back to both the chair colour and the colour of the throw pillow/strawberry.

Because I had put so much effort into the rectangle technique, I was really torn about whether I should or shouldn't attach the cushions to the chair.

By attaching them, I'd mask the construction and the construction matters to me. I took a lot of time working out how to create this thing so that it really is both a chair and a functional pin cushion.

I hope that the effort is understood and appreciated regardless of how it stands up to other entries.

Ultimately, I decided to only physically attach the throw pillow/pin cushion.

In making that choice, I may have left a few tell tale signs of the soft sculpture that went into forcing the arms into sizing submission but that couldn't really be helped.

I know that that also means more possibility of bits being lost in the judging, display and shipping process, but the trade off of having the construction techniques be transparent/apparent is, on balance, worth the risk to me.

What the heck? It's just knitting and I know how to make another one or six.
I decided that the bottom cushion which was originally a square was not going to work out as the combination of the cushion and generous roll of the arms was always threatening to expand and exceed the four inch limit.

So I knit a second one using the centre out rectangle method I developed and used in the top of the bottom/base of the chair. I did a closed loop just to worry/explore the technique.

Centre out it works great but perimeter in has some challenges if trying to exactly reverse the increases with the decreases.

I opted to take it down to the same number of stitches I would have worked a centre out square with rather than delay shipping any longer by working through other options.

27 February 2008

The embellishment muse awakens

Tuesday morning the embellishment muse started stirring.

It's about time that witch woke up. I've been leafing through old and new books on embroidery to find something that will work on this project.

Couple of problems arose. The first is that my embroidery skills are pretty rusty and the second is that not only am I dealing with embroidery on a knit fabric but embroidery on a knit fabric where instructions like secure the ribbon to the wrong side of the fabric make no sense at all.

But I punted and came up with some cabbage-y rose like shapes that are an odd cross of twisted ribbon roses and a French knot.

Ultimately, I decided to loop a length of the ribbon through the knit stitches and then twist the two ends together to form the flower. The first couple were a trial and error effort where I refined the length of ribbon that worked best without waste.

After all, I bought the ribbon from the sale bin at Needlecraft Cottage and there were no more to be had.

By Tuesday evening I had decided that the strands from the flowers on the second layer should loop through the stitch pattern treatment of the 1st layer and that my first "East-West" orientation was faulty.

After dinner with the lovely Liz, I went home and continued working on the final flowers.

On the first pass, I had four flowers but the gap in the centre just looked lumpy.
I wasn't crazy about how the top layer looked or quite how to correct it so once again I let it it sit a bit.

Even though I tried to be careful in tearing out the top layer of roses, I had some serious ribbon loss as a result. The good news is that I had picked up some other ribbon options. The final solution also had four flowers but positioned more to the centre and used both the original ribbon, a second co-ordinating one and a bit of the silk thread I had to secure the flowers and trap the ends.

It looks a lot less like a sun bleached rock cairn and a bit more like a wedding cake. A not quite perfect wedding cake, but a wedding cake.

As the first of the two successful efforts, it pushes the size limit more than the chair but it still fits comfortably in the 4x4x4 box that it calls home.

My new challenge is getting good photos of it before shipping it off. So now it's writing up the list of materials, trying to explain how it was created and finding a box.

24 February 2008

Sushi Soon on a Saturday & Fun with fangs

We've had some rainy weather lately and between that and my lack of motivation there's been far too little walkabout of late.

I managed to just eke out an entrelac lap robe out of the rest of the Lonesome Stone sock yarn during a 1st time home buyer seminar the other night so my pin cushion knitting is done unless I get a wild hair and decide to try to fit in a third effort with small scale colour work based on some Arts & Crafts style embroidery motifs ala Dillmont.

My embellishment muse is asleep at the switch which is putting the wedding cake pin cushion in peril of not getting entered. It is a bit too plain on its own but I'm not feeling the embroidery/embellishment love.

I have threads, ribbons and ideas but nothing's really coming together. The fear is that embellishment will blow all the work I've put into it so far. So it is sitting in the studio/office until the muse wakes up.

For knitting, I've returned to a couple of hat projects that need a little rework. Not a lot of knitting right now, more frog/tinking and rethinking going on.

Armed with that projects and with rain forecast for tomorrow, I headed out for a circuit 'round Balboa Park and the 'hood.

As has been my habit of late, I left too late to be tempted by any thrift shop bargains. Most of the better ones 'round here close at 4pm and since the days are getting longer, I can still get in a good walk without losing/burning daylight or spending money.

The local restaurant scene has had lots of change of late -- closings, openings, name changes and plenty of "coming soons."

In the latter category, one of the ones I'm most interested in is the one on 5th & Nutmeg that is going to be a seafood market & sushi place. I'm much more open to that then yet another Thai place.

Also in the sushi side of the house, awhile back I discovered that Chilango's had disappeared and been replaced with a sushi place. Well, it has changed back again. The sushi place is gone and Chilango's is back. I may have to swing by and see if the killer salads and moles are also back and as they once were.

On the corner of 6th & Upas, near where the venerable San Diego Knit together convenes on the 2nd Saturday of the month, there's a construction project that spent a significant amount of time as just a big hole in the ground. The stalled project picked up steam again in the last year or so and is going to be yet another Balboa Park luxury (who are these people who can afford this surreal estate?) high-ish rise.

For a time while it was in the stalled state people amused themselves by lobbing stuff into the great grand hole -- I suspect that there was some sort of variation on the shoe tree of the disc golf course or the sneakers over telephone/utility lines. Those days are gone but clearly someone still has a sense o' humour and a flair for visual public art as the temp sidewalk bill board ad has been augmented with this great little sight gag.

That sense o' humour is one the things I love most about my crazy neighbourhood.

16 February 2008

The Comfy Chair First images

Still struggling with the size limit in working knitted pin cushions and preparing to do a bit of needle sculpting to keep the arms in check (and under 4 inches in wing span).

The Lonesome Stone entrelac throw is looking very much to scale but also very likely to be both too large and too small at the same time.

Too large to do anything other than obscure the construction and workmanship of the chair and too small to really drape well.

Unlike the rest of the piece, it is purely decorative but I really love the idea so I'm probably going to try to eke out another, smaller lap robe size with the small amount I have left.

At the size (2.75" x 3.25" x 1") the challenge of sewing a rectangle to fill was just a losing proposition for this sewing machine challenged knitter.

So, unlike the wedding cake version, the chair pin cushion has a combination of a cellulose sponge and acrylic nail buffers (both cut to size with an old bread knife) as it base.

The arms are filled with tightly rolled strips of quilt batting. Interestingly the batting did not give a very pin friendly landing space on the piece.

Originally, I thought that I would do some sort of icord around the back of the chair to encase wire to provide the shape/support. Instead I went with another beauty supply find -- make up wedges.

The seat and back cushions are filled with the same combination of polyfil and roving that I used in the second layer of the wedding cake and I sacrificed a second commercially purchased "strawberry" to harvest the aluminum oxide (or emery sand) for the chair's throw pillow.

13 February 2008

Power to the tower

On the Linux front, a co-worker loaned me a Knoppix CD to boot the Linux box from to see if I could see my drives. After fighting with the Windows machine on Tuesday night, I was too tired to try that experiment. Having had some success, I was good with the rest while you're ahead school of computer/network troubleshooting.

Yesterday morning before tearing the Linux system apart for transport to a data recovery lab, I turned the machine on, started to go into setup to allow if to boot from the CD when I made an interesting discovery -- the drive had no LED. Hmm, closer inspection showed me that none of the drives in the hard drive tower showed an illuminated LED.

No, this was not a "but lady you have to plug it in" moment. Instead, it was a hmm, I wonder if I dropped a power supply moment. Mind you, dropping a power supply doesn't eliminate the possibility of data corruption and the need for data recovery but it was worth a shot.

Having done through a similar joy with the processor tower some years back, I took a photo of a couple of key wiring connections before tearing the old power supply out of the box.

So instead of making a data recovery lab run on my way to work, I went to Frye's and found a power supply or two that, while not perfect -- I don't after all need to power a mother board in the drive tower -- could be pressed into service.

I came home with a power supply and a router. I did look longingly at a couple of chassis but decided to keep it simple.

Power supplies come out easier than they go in but neither is a simple matter. Reconnecting the SCSI cable to the bottom drive was enough to make me cry, but I got everything sorted, reconnected the two towers and gave it power.

I cannot tell you just how happy I was to see LILO instead of LI and a hang.

Linux is a very patient OS, and apparently it boots from one of the drives in the drive tower and not from the drives in the processor tower. It was just waiting, patiently waiting, and not timing out.

But here's the key -- it booted, it loaded the OS, and it was halfway home.

The biggest problem with getting the Linux box back on the the internet was remembering which Ethernet port was eth0 and which was eth1 and that took a few resets.

I also had to do a few resets of the cable modem and speak to it sternly.

Getting the WIndows machine back to network normal was tougher and still not 100%

I returned the Knoppix CD to my co-worker with gratitude. It didn't work as planned but the loan of the CD did have a good result.

I'm thinking that some of the money I didn't spend on data recovery should finally go toward a newer machine to replace the Linux system. But I've the luxury of time to do my research and get it configured before I put it into production.

11 February 2008

Meltdown computer style

Saturday's plan was to get a third social knitting event into one week. Other plans for the day included catching up on emails and drafting a "save the date" email to local San Diego TNNA members about the upcoming Stitch N Pitch event.

I was in the middle of editing my alias file for the latter when the system just seized up in the middle of a directory listing and did not respond well to a hard reset. Since I hadn't needed a rescue disk in nearly 9 years of operations, it was a near miracle that I could find the first rescue disk but the second was not to be found and without it, recovery was not looking good.

I'm oddly invested in code compiling, computers operating and cars running -- any of these don't happen and I get a bit anal. Okay, a lot anal.

With the Linux box doing a great impersonation of a boat anchor, I got the idea that I'd reconfigure the Windows machine to at least have some internet access. That effort was not hugely successful and a good reminder of why I hate WIndows. After finally successfully navigating all the GUIs and entering the new IP, gateway and subnet mask to take it off the private network and onto the big wide network, I had no joy. It thought it was talking to the modem and the modem was talking to my ISP but Windows box and modem were not speaking.

So I bought an Ott lamp. Yup, with the prospect of high ticket data recovery fees in my near future and a complete lack of internet access, I went to JoAnn's and bought an Ott light.

The apartment a vampire would love was more than I could bear after a full day of no daylight as I tried to bring my system back up. Couldn't fix the computer problem, could rewind the day and get out and about but I could give myself a bit of light and make working on the comfy chair pin cushion a bit easier.

On Sunday after a short walk with Liz, I borrowed a cup of internet so I could schedule a bill payment and sort a few email accounts out.

After some consults at work with some of my more Windows oriented tech buds, I tried the reset the cable modem and the Windows machine and hope for a handshake. Amazingly it worked but getting the Linux box with my mail server and a host of other hard to face losing files remains a priority.

08 February 2008

More on the horizontal chain & revisting the rectangle

In digging 'round my knitting references, I discovered where I'd been exposed to the idea of the horizontal chain technique I've recently worked out.

My original thinking was that it must have come from some class or source I had for traveling stitches but it turns out that it comes from lace knitting and a Margaret Stove workshop.

While I was exposed to the idea that I could form a strong horizontal stitch while continuing to work in the established direction I didn't remember the technique or even recall where the idea came from in working my own bit out. Now that I've found the "it can be done source" it's clear that I don't work the stitch the way it is documented in Margaret's book and/or as taught briefly in the workshop.

To be honest, although I haven't reknit the original technique found in Margaret's book, I'm convinced that it would not work as well for my purposes as what I've come up with.

The what I've come up with bit has also caused me to revisit and rethink the "North/South" division of stitches technique I've been worrying for some time now.

Short version is that rather than cast on 2x the number of stitches required to work in either direction and dividing those to work in either direction, I'm casting on 1/2 that number of stitches and knitting a round/row. On the next round/row I'm using a specific increase technique to fill out the North & South gaps. I'm sure that's clear as mud and so it should be.

End of the day, I've used this technique to start a centre out rectangle without a provisional cast on and later weave/graft. That's what the photos in this post reflect and I've used exactly this technique in building the comfy chair. As it happens this remarkable bit of construction is hidden under a seat cushion in the chair so I worked another version and set it aside for later reference.

07 February 2008

Rats as in year of and still more cake

Happy Lunar New Year.

Super bowl at the Whistlestop was a good time, the end of the game at home even better, Mardis Gras a bit too gras but Knitnite was great so it's all good.

Also all good is the wedding cake pin cushion although the Super Bowl shopping trip for embellishments didn't go quite as planned.

Based on the lovely Liz's event planning experience I decided that the wedding cake layer proportions were a bit off so I knit a few more layers and used the horizontal chain technique on all three. Here's the pre-assembled sort of artsy-fartsy photo.

The second layer is filled with a mix of roving and polyfil. The roving was a way to introduce some of the lubricating nature of wool into the project. I have it on good authority that quilters like lamb's wool in their pin cushions to help with needle glide. Wool is certainly easier than bees wax to add to add to the project for that functionality.

The third layer of the cake, like the first has the the slip stitch front float and pull up thing going (very technical term that) that mocks icing or bunting sort of look that you might see on an actual cake. This layer has a bit of emery sand as part of it's fill as I sacrificed a manufactured emery sand filled "strawberry" to add that functionality to the piece.

In deciding to work each layer as a unit, without a bit of sewing and styling, the stacked layers look a bit more like a rock cairn than a cake. Hopefully, the embroidery and embellishment will make me less uber critical.

02 February 2008

More cake, horizontal chains & a February frog

The second layer of the Mandarin Petit wedding cake pin cushion got the full implementation of the horizontal chain technique that came about as a result of not being able to travel my stitches as much as I'd like or work a horizontal icord band.

I used a slip stitch stitch pattern for interest and to sort of mock up a basket weave/lattice icing technique.

The first photo shows the horizontal chain, the stitches formed and the next row of knitting -- note no elongated distortion.

The only down side on this is the potential for twisted stitches. That can corrected if the twisted stitches are not acceptable for the application.

Here's another shot showing the same state of knitting but with the already completed centre out circle bottom at the top.

Colour variation owing to difference in lighting.

Clearly this is not going to give me a place to hide a wire but I think I could mutate it to do just that and I also like it as a way to change colours.

The frog reference isn't a failed tale of knitting but rather another happy but unexpected discovery.

In digging out my sewing stuff to try to find a lining solution to the pin cushion problems, I happened upon a stash of marbles.

Apparently, back when we were choosing eyes for SeƱor Frog, I separated the "suitable for eyes" marbles from the others and put them, for some strange reason, in with the sewing stuff.

Since I don't sew often not only is it hard for me to remember that I used to be really good at it, it is also rare that I get into that corner of the closet. I wonder if this means the missing sewing machine needles and other machine accessories are mixed in with some other craft supplies -- perhaps beading?

But here they are and maybe, just maybe, one or more will be on their way to Scotland for transplant.