Thursday, April 24, 2008

Show Report: Nekromantix/Lower Class Brats 4/24

Last night we saw the Nekromantix in San Jose at the Blank club. This was our 6th show since moving to the Bay Area, but our first in San Jose. The Blank club is pretty tiny. It reminded us of the indoor stage at Emo's, but with the bar taking up less room, and no giant poles to get smashed into in front of the stage. If we feel nostalgic for giant poles, we'll go to Slim's. I didn't realize until a couple of days before the show that the Lower Class Brats (from Austin!!!) were going to be opening. I think they may have been at the first show we ever saw in Austin. We've seen both these bands about a jillion times. My verdict: totally awesome. I didn't see much of the crowd, but Bryan said they didn't seem that excited. Their loss. More room in front for me! Bones and Nekroman are both extremely entertaining front men. I had an insane amount of fun. You really haven't lived until you've seen the coffinbass. :)

I forgot to take a camera, so here's a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.

Just kidding. But this is the second time in a row I've forgotten to take a camera to see one of Kim Nekroman's bands! It's ok cause the chick next to me was a photographer wearing a venue staff jacket. Hopefully the photos will be on teh intarwebs soon, but I did snag a set list. So there! :P

They skipped a few of these songs, but pretty much played all my favorites. Including the namesake of my sweater. Haha. I remember last time I saw them, there were a few songs they didn't play that I really wanted to hear. So it's all good now. :) LCB also played like 3 of my favorite songs.

Traveling Stitch Swatch

Traveling Stitch Swatch, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

I finally got to go to a Knitspiration guild meeting! The topic for this month was traveling stitches. This swatch will go in the big pile of collected squares (not actually square) for charity blankets. This is the stitch pattern that Mary brought in from the book Bauerliches Stricken 3. I finally worked out a method of swapping the order of stitches that worked for me. I just used the right needle tip to grab the stitch that needed to be worked next, from the front or from behind depending on which stitch was going in front, pulled the left needle tip out of that stitch and the one it's trading with (leaving 1 stitch off the needles completely), and putting those 2 stitches back on the left needle so they are ready to be worked in the new order.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Handdyed Self-Striping Yarn

Handdyed Self-Striping Yarn, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

If you look closely, you might be able to see one of the 20 or so knots. Apparently the yarn got chewed on between skeining and dyeing. Serves me right for being a procrastinator.

This is my first time with acid dyes, and my first time dyeing yarn black. The black came out better than I expected. I've heard people griping about black dyes before, and I've seen a few skeins of hand-dyed sock yarn in stores that had issues.
How much more black could it be? None more black. I actually said that to Bryan when I finished dyeing.

The yarn is Knit Picks Bare merino sock yarn, and I used Jacquard acid dyes in Fire Red and Jet Black. I was actually going for a real red, but it was taking forever to exhaust. I actually really like the hot pink, though.

I wound the yarn to be self-striping on a sort of warping board. Here's the links to the resources I used for that. I had some plastic pegboard with wooden dowels for uprights, but the dowels started leaning toward each other as more yarn was added. I'm going to make a PVC device like this.

I'm thinking the damage to the yarn happened in Austin. Oh, please let it have happened in Austin!! Here, everything's sealed and up off of the floor. It's the garage, so no carpet beetles. I went through my stash and didn't see any obviously damaged skeins or any visible larvae. A week or two ago, I found holes in the prototype of a bag I designed. That was another thing that sat around for a long time in Austin, and I've realized that the creepy little bugs (often dead) that I saw all the time in the corners of (carpeted!) rooms were probably carpet beetle larvae.

Back to the educational part-
I made stock dye solutions in big jars. I used about 4 tsp dye powder (almost the whole jar) in 800 mL of water. I know measuring by weight would be more consistent, but I don't have the right kind of scale. It's kind of fun to be a sloppy scientist on purpose. If I make a mistake I don't have to worry about my brain slices dying, not getting any data for the afternoon, or looking like a dumbass in front of the department.

The yarn was presoaked in water with a couple glugs of vinegar and however much Euclan (wool wash) was stuck to the inside of the empty bottle. Apparently I have a horrible memory for vinegar. I always assume I have the particular kind I need. I forget that I had to get rid of everything liquid during the move. When I was about to dye, I assumed I had a big jug of white vinegar. Last night when I was cooking, I assumed I had rice vinegar.

I dyed the lighter color first. For this yarn, I used 50mL of the red dye stock. That should be about 1/4 tsp of dye powder for 50g of yarn (half the skein). I added a few glugs of white vinegar to the dyepot. I've heard of people adding salt, but I didn't. The dye and vinegar were added to enough water to cover the yarn. We can call that "excess H2O." There's probably some physics involved with how likely dye particles are to bump into yarn when there's a ton of water, but for practical purposes the amount of water doesn't matter. It's gravimetric, or something like that. :) As long as you don't add more dye powder than the yarn can handle, which you shouldn't cause it costs $, all the dye will be taken up by the yarn.

As you can see, that was enough for a hot pink, but I would have needed more for a true red. It seemed like the dyepot didn't really want to exhaust, so I just went with it. Maybe I didn't squeeze enough water out of the presoaked yarn, or maybe I skimped on the vinegar in the presoak since I ended up using white wine vinegar (which I felt ok substituting since it was even more acidic than the cheap stuff). Whatever.

For the next round, I used a little under 100 mL black dye stock. That works out to about 1/2 tsp dye powder for the 50g in the second half skein. As you can see, I got a nice dark black. The dyepot was pretty much exhausted when I turned off the heat because I needed to leave the house. I can't say exactly how long the yarn should simmer on the stovetop. I was being pretty cautious because our range is sort of "off." It seems to run pretty hot compared to others I've used and to directions in recipes. I ended up leaving it for over an hour on medium, which might be like medium-high for other people.

Other junk- The pot, colander, and gloves (not pictured) are from IKEA. I marked all the dye supplies with masking tape so they wouldn't get confused with kitchen supplies- I use an identical pot for food. I used wooden spoons to gently move the yarn around. I wouldn't even say "stir." The spoons I bought are actually way too rough for this. I'm going to try sanding them.

Remember to use appropriate precautions for airborne particles when you're working with the dye in powder form. This likely will mean a N95 (at least) rated mask or respirator. You should read the MSDS for the particular dye you are using to find out if there's anything you need to be concerned about other than particle inhalation. As far as I know, the only Jacquard colors that contain "hazardous materials" are Chartreuse and Emerald. They both have direct blue 86, a copper phthalocyanine dye. I found this page with some potentially relevant information. It's written for pregnant painters, so the level of caution they recommend is probably trustworthy.
I put down damp paper towels when I was measuring out the powder to catch stray dust. A lot of people cut hand-sized holes in the sides of a clear plastic tub and line that with damp paper towels. I'll probably be doing that in the future. If you have a sink in your utility room or garage, you could do the measuring in the bottom of the sink. How much do you think it would cost to get my own personal fume hood? :P

Reskeining the yarn was exciting with all the chewed-through parts. I got it all done in one train ride, though- about an hour and a half.

I haven't swatched to see if the yarn stripes the way I intended, but I will eventually. :)
I have a LOT of WIPs that need to get finished before I can start anything else with a clear conscience.

2 Skeins of Llama

2 Skeins of Llama, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

After fulling by shocking in hot/icy water and thwacking on the edge of the tub (thanks, Jasmin). There's still a lot of fiber left in the bag. Not sure what I'm going to do with the yarn. Probably a simple warm hat. It's in the vicinity of worsted weight, spun woolen-ish. My first time using the long draw. It's like magic! Especially when done unsupported (one-handed).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Coachella Back

Coachella Back, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

Coachella is done. I ended up making the medium with bust shaping. I love the back, but I'm not sure how I feel about the front. I may attempt surgery to remove the short rows. The worst thing that could happen is I'd have to rip back and reknit.

Ok, so I've snipped and ripped out the short rows. Now I have to knit a few rows, graft, and hope for the best!

The boob job is complete! I think it's a big improvement, but I'm still not 100% in love with the front of this top.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Mom's Going to Be So Jealous!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Old FO: Tofutsies Jester Socks

Jester Sock Cuff, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

I knit these samples in Tofutsies for SWTC last summer. I LOVE this colorway. I never made photos public because I didn't know when/if/how they were going to be releasing the pattern. The pattern is available for download here and there's more pics of my sample sock! I don't remember the designer's name, and it's not on the SWTC site or Ravelry, so I suppose I'll go rummaging around in my folder of old patterns to get more info.

Handspun Socks

Handspun Socks, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

After reaching mid-calf, the first sock has been set aside. The second sock, currently ankle-high, is going much faster. No ripping back at all! Eventually I'll have to decide whether I want 1 pair of tall socks, or 2 pairs of "normal" socks.

Friday, April 04, 2008


I'm trying to decide what to make with the Rowan Pure Wool DK I got on sale at Knitting Arts the night of the meetup.  I want something a little sophisticated (or at least with clean lines).  It also should be a tee, tank, or vest.  I only have about 1230 yards, and it's warm outside anyway.

 I like Rusted Root, but that's usually done in yarn that has at least some cotton, and I'd probably prefer a different color for that pattern.  I thought I'd definitely want to go with green, but I like some of the pinks on Ravelry.   I like the sleeves and being top-down, though.  Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece is the original yarn and it's pretty cheap, so I may do this pattern as intended at a later date.
Zephyrgals photo from Flickr.

I've also found myself getting obsessed with cables.  I liked the Gwen shell from the Louet catalog Margit gave me, and I'm pretty sure I'd have enough yarn.  The downside is the
pattern's no longer free.  It looks like the minimum you can pay to download from Louet is 3 patterns.  There's definitely more Louet patterns I'm in love with right now, but I don't think I feel like buying 3 patterns at the moment.  There's also the sleeveless issue.  My arms are way out of shape.  I was trying to demonstrate this to Bryan the other day, but he didn't believe me.  He pointed out that the cat has much worse "wings" of arm fat than I do.  I'd probably wear it under a jacket anyway.  The cabling (and wool) would probably make it too warm for a warm-weather tank anyway.  I sort of like the traditional aran vibe, but it doesn't make for a pattern that's instantly recognizable.  I sort of feel like jumping on a bandwagon.

Jandjgagnon's photo from flickr.

I think I've talked myself into Catriona by Debbie Bliss.  It's so amazing.  The pattern is also available free through a magazine's website.  The cabling is really different and I like the little sleeves.  If I use this pattern, I'll chart out the cables and work it in the round.  That could be a useful learning experience.  The only thing that was holding me back was the fear that I wouldn't have enough yarn.  Then I looked at the "to fit" versus "finished measurement" numbers and realized that it's designed for a whole lot of ease.  Over 6 inches for the largest size!  I'll definitely be knitting a smaller size, especially since there's no waist shaping.  I think I'd be swimming in the thing if I made the "proper" size for 
my bust measurement.  Plus I think it looks cuter without a shirt underneath.  I figure the worst case scenario for running out of yarn is snipping off the bo
ttom ribbing and redoing it shorter or redoing it and the remaining ribbing in a different dye lot. 

Susiesparkle's photo from flickr.

I thought I'd share something that made me laugh today.  While I was checking out the USAID-funded, Johns Hopkins-hosted portal for reproductive health research that had apparently been censored earlier this week (though maybe not at a literal request by the government) , I found this-

Title:  Contraception in the cosmos: The combined oral contraceptive pill in space.
Author: Murad A
Source: Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. 2008;34(1):55-59.

Here's a choice tidbit from the abstract
"Whist there is no official requirement for them to do so, the vast majority of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) female astronauts chose to use the COC [combined oral contraceptive pill] whilst in space (P Stepaniak, NASA Flight Surgeon, personal communication, 23 October 2006)."

I bet P Stepaniak's about to get a lot of phone calls from magazine reporters wanting to know about sex in space.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Brain Dump!

 Firstly, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is co-sponsoring a series of (free!) lectures in Palo Alto on environmental reproductive health.  The other co-sponsors are Acterra (a local environmental group that seems pretty cool) and Reproductive Health Technologies Project.  More info here.  The first lecture was on early puberty and breast cancer, featuring speakers from Breast Cancer Fund.  Their publications on causes of early puberty and environmental determinants of breast cancer can be found here.  Haven't finished reading all the way through yet, but they look like pretty solid reviews of the literature.  The puberty report in particular cites a whole host of studies that I really want to get my hands on.
The next lectures in the series are
The Impact of Environmental Toxins on Infertility and the Developing Fetus on April 24
Pesticides and Playgrounds- Chemicals in Our Children's Everyday Environment on May 7.

I've posted links on the sidebar to a whole lot of organizations that are members of the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.  I was in Sacramento last week for CCRF's lobby day, and I found out about a lot of great work that a lot of great people are doing.  I picked up some blog-worthy swag that I haven't photographed yet, but I wanted to go ahead and point out  those links.

I also posted links to some of my favorite sex-ed resources, including info on the phone lines I volunteer on.  I also want to point out, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. I had forgotten just how amazing it is.  I read it when I was a teen, and I recommend it all the time.  I discovered something else on the intarwebs that had me stifling laughter on the phone last week.  In the course of doing research for callers, I discovered that the Wikipedia pages for both "Masturbation" and "List of Sex Positions" are illustrated by Gustav Klimt drawings.  That makes me happy.  What did NOT make me happy was having to argue yesterday with my new doctor who wouldn't believe that Gustav was Austrian, not Dutch.  Hello!!??  Which one of us is named Klimt??  

Ok, it's late and I'm starting to ramble.  Laters!