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Knitting to The X-Files (and Firefly, and Top Chef, and Venture Brothers and...)

or, Can My TV Habit Really Be Bad If It Helps Me Make Cool Stuff?

January 7th, 2008


I threw this together when my dear friend Amy wanted a very, uh, flamboyant sweater for her dachshund Elvis. Apparently, Elvis' favorite color is purple.

I had some leftover Caron Simply Soft Brites that I had purchased for my Burner Baby Blanket, and I figured that would make a nice, washable dog sweater. Since I was knitting for a hound, what would be more classic than Houndstooth? And since he is a German hound, then I decided his sweater should have a German name--Houndstooth Hundestrickjacke. I have no idea if that is proper German, but I like the sound of it.

Here's the first draft. I am currently knitting, so I will correct this and add photos when it is all done.

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Brites, in Grape (175 yards) and Lemonade (70 yards)
Needles: Circular or DPNs in sizes 6 and 7 (or whatever it takes to knit to the gauge that will fit your dog)

With Grape and size 6 needles, cast on 108 stitches. Join to work in the round.

Work K1,P1 ribbing for 1 inch.

Attach Lemonade, switch to size 7 needles and begin houndstooth pattern, working until piece measures 4 1/2 inches.

Place two straight pins 6 inches apart in body of fabric. Continue knitting, binding off three stitches centered at each pin, until you return to the first set of bound-off stitches. These mark the armholes.

Knit back and forth in pattern across back between armholes until piece measures 7 1/4 inches. Break yarn. Knit back and forth in pattern across chest between armholes until chest matches back, 7 1/4 inches.

Return to knitting in the round, casting on three stitches for the top of each armhole, and knit in pattern until piece measures 9 inches.

Switch to size 6 needles and work K1,P1 ribbing for 4 1/2 inches. Bind off.

To work sleeves, pick up stitches around each armhole, and work K1, P1 ribbing for one inch. Bind off.

Weave ends.

I just finished the sweater, and there was no dog to try it on. My cat Will Riker "offered" to model, to stunning results.

November 9th, 2007

Bracing for Impact...

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Sometimes we have an idea. It's a COOL idea, but we are uncertain as to whether it is actually a GOOD idea. This weekend, I suffer the consequences of such an idea.

About a month ago, I posted on my knitting group's mailing list about possibly having a weekend at my place for people to come hang out and work on craft projects, and thus the Drinkin Craftin Slumber Party Weekend was born. In just over seven hours, I will begin to learn whether this cool idea is indeed a good idea, or some unmanageable social experiment that will eat my apartment, damage my health and perhaps unpredictably transform a friendship or two.

A couple dozen people drawn from my many communities will collide in a frenzy of yarn, beads, paint and glue guns, which will carry them through a full, sleepless weekend of alcohol- and caffeine-fueled crafting mania.

Or not.

I have no idea what I have set in motion. It may be a riot, or it may be a really boring weekend. We're throwing together an eclectic band of Knitters, Burners, Pagans, Academians, Hippies, Ravers, BDSMers, Burlesque Perfomers, Single Moms, Libertarians, Tech Geeks and a Pirate Wench or two. Hopefully, there will be photos. Phone ahead if you feel like swinging by...

November 6th, 2007


I couldn't help myself. A friend of mine with a baby said "my child needs a hat", so I whipped one up. I thought at first I would do it correctly in a knitterly fashion, with measurements and gauge swatches and actual PLANNING, but it didn't work out that way.

I found Pauline Wall's Tomato Baby Beanie and decided that I must make it. I didn't have any red in the yarn that I wanted to use, but I did have green and orange, so the tomato became a pumpkin.

I think it's cute. I have no idea if it will fit. It was fast enough to knit that I could make it again in a different size. We'll see if Mom likes it. :)

October 30th, 2007

New Project: Duet Wavy

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I've knit a lot of Wavys. A LOT. And while I was at SAFF, it occurred to me that as much as I love that scarf design, I don't actually OWN one. Huh.

All the Wavys I've done have been in Noro Silk Garden, and hey, why not, right? But whilst hanging out at the Brooks Farm booth in the vendor arena at SAFF, I heard another yarnaholic say "Wavy", immediately snapping my head around to see her holding a 500-yard hank of Duet, a gorgeous wool/mohair two-ply in a lovely palette of handpainted colors.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Duet Wavy. And THIS one, I'm keeping.
On Saturday, I boarded the Knitch bus with a horde of other fiber-crazed obsessives, and made a pilgrimmage to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. It was wonderful to have uninterrupted knitting time while someone else did the driving, and terrific to hang out with all the happy people who understand my disease well enough to not question why in the name of all that is holy I feel I need to own more sock yarn.

I got to meet Allen, the mad genius behind numma numma hand-dyed yarns. She is responsible for the lovely yarn my Pistachio Chicken Wire Socks are being knit from, and I am liking the results so much I will have to invest in other colorways SOON.

Once at SAFF, I was irretreivably lost. There was no way I was going to escape without doing something financially reckless. With this foregone conclusion in mind, I sought to limit the damage by creating rules to govern my shopping. I know that most of you reading this are shaking your heads in tragic recognition of my naivete. Ah! The innocence of a well-funded knitter at her first big fiber event...

Here were the rules:
  1. No more sock yarn
  2. No yarn for which I don't already have a project in mind
  3. No yarn of a type I could easily find locally
  4. No more sock yarn
  5. Nothing that wasn't either a bargain price, or something so unique that this would be my only opportunity to grab it
  6. No more sock yarn

Here are the results (click image for slightly larger view):
  • Dream in Color Smooshy, in Cloud Jungle and Black Parade (purchased the night before SAFF, but without question it is part of this binge). This yarn is traditionally used to make socks.
  • 2 different colorways of Acero, a wool/silk/viscose blend fingering-weight from Brooks Farm. Fingering-weight? Isn't that used for socks?
  • A skein of Paca-peds superwash merino/alpaca blend in the Fireside colorway. This yarn has just a touch of nylon in the blend, should anyone decide to use it to knit socks, or something
  • SeaWool, hand-painted by Creatively Dyed Yarn in the scrumptious Ocean colorway. Owing to its need to be handwashed, this will probably end up as a little lacy scarf instead of as socks. Probably.
  • Yarnsmith's Prairie (a fingering-weight blend of lambswool, baby alpaca and cashmere) in the Cowboy and Seaweed colorways. Wow. This stuff feels amazing. I bet it would feel really wonderful against skin. Skin on your feet.
  • A HUGE honking skein of Brooks Farm Duet, which is destined to become the first Wavy I have knit that I will actually keep. For me. A scarf. Honestly. It's already cast on, and about 12 inches along. As a scarf. So there.
  • I grabbed a skein of Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sock and Baby Yarn in the Harvest colorway. Nothing I couldn't have found here in Atlanta, but the colors were really lovely, and it was so soft and tempting. And before you go jumping to the conclusion that I will be knitting socks from this, I want to point out this is Sock and BABY yarn. I could be using it to knit a baby. Well... I COULD.
  • My most gloat-worthy purchase was two different colorways of Just Our Yarn's Caravan, an amazing blend of lambswool and CAMEL DOWN. Let me say that again--CAMEL DOWN. I want camel socks. So what? Wouldn't you want camel socks? Why the hell not?
Before I even left the arena, I swore to myself that I would purchase no more yarn this calendar year. I have enough stash to knit happily for the next THREE years, I can certainly go a few months without buying more.

Really, I can.

October 24th, 2007

Connoisseur Yarn

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I've been trying for a while to get my hands on some Sundara hand-dyed sock yarn. This is much easier said than done. Knitting Daily featured her yarns in an article about semi-solid yarn and how hard it is to come by, contributing (of course) to making it even HARDER to get one's hands on, because now everyone who reads Knitting Daily and knits socks is joining the stampede to swell the ranks of those who compete for the very limited supply that she produces each month. Crazed, rabid, trend-following, sock-obsessed yarn connoisseurs.

Like me.

Long story short (too late), I FINALLY succeeded in getting my hands on not one, not two, but THREE skeins of Sundara Sock when she posted her most recent batch of limited edition yarns yesterday. They usually sell out in about 10 minutes. I feel... blessed.

;)

Anyway, feast your eyes on Black over Port, Blackberry over Violet, and Ivy. Drool bibs can be rapidly knit with the Mason-Dixon Warshrag pattern.

  


HA! It is mine! Now, let's see if it was worth all the fuss...

October 19th, 2007

If you are not already a member of Ravelry, or on the waiting list for an invite, SAVE YOURSELF NOW!!!

Seriously. Ravelry is insidious. Ravelry is pernicious. Ravelry should come with a warning label. Hey! I think this is it. Please, all of you, be warned.

Not only am I investing large chunks of time in cataloging and photographing my stash, and wasting hours and hours discovering new patterns I want to knit (because I would play with my stash and daydream about new projects anyway), but NOW I have everything in one place as a convenient visual reminder of all the possibilities that await me if I just ignore my responsibilities, open a bin, take out some yarn I already own, and cast on YET ANOTHER PROJECT.

Evil! Wicked Temptation! Fun!

I already have three pairs of socks on the needles, and one mateless Pomatomus who needs a friend. That's three whole socks and three partial socks I am already committed to. What sane woman would think it reasonable to begin yet another pair? Let me show you what I am considering...

Uzumaki Socks ROCK, don't they? I love the spirally, squishy ribs that wind around the leg. I'm thinking I need a pair in either Colinette Jitterbug (first photo below) or maybe in Knit Picks Memories (second photo below). Whaddaya think?

 


Also, I saw the Rainbow Socks and FREAKED. OMG! A reason to actually own some self-patterning sock yarn. And I never had a reason to even justify the existence of the stuff before (I am one of those control-freak, skills-intensive knitters who believes that if you want stripes or colorful patterns, you should actually design and knit them instead of relying on the yarn to do your job for you).

So, I logged in to eBay (because I was too ashamed to actually SHOP for self-patterning yarn in public), and bought a skein of Meilenweit Cotton Multi-Jacquard. I chose this one because A) it was self-patterning in colors that I found to be acceptable, and B) it was ending it's auction, like, NOW.

So, let this be a lesson to you all. The cunning and treacherous inspiration that is Ravelry will corrupt you into unreasonable and unbalanced behavior. It will never be safe for me to surf the Internet ever again.

But I will have an amazing wardrobe of handknit socks this winter...

October 13th, 2007

Well, I wasn't able to make the Drunken Bees pattern work with the ToastyPlus yarn, so I opted to keep the yarn and test Sabine Riefler's Snicket Socks, originally published in the September 2006 edition of MagKnits.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

The designer came up with the pattern because she was visualizing netting, but to me it looks more like Chicken Wire. Well... it does. And since we already know my yarn reminds me of pistachios, I have decided these will be Pistachio Chicken Wire socks. HOORAY!

I'm having to cast on for the largest size, even though I wear a size 5 1/2 shoe, because the yarn is so fine and I likes me the smaller needles. This works out really well on a 2.5mm needle, which is a US 1 1/2, and I like the density of the fabric just fine. I've tampered a bit with the pattern, because I didn't really like the cuff ribbing in the original design.

See This Project's History

October 12th, 2007

Ravelry has a Sock Knitters Anonymous group. Guess who joined?

They have a wonderful enablement device group activity called Sockdown, where every month members are challenged to knit a pair of socks that fit that month's criteria. Members who complete the challenge on time have a chance to win prizes, generally sock yarn or other knitting tools. FUN!

October's Sockdown challenge is to knit either a Nancy Bush pattern, or a pattern that includes cables. I picked cables, because it will give me a chance to knit Domesticat's Drunken Bees socks. Very cool.

At Needle Nook I found some ToastyPlus, a locally-produced handpaint sock yarn, and I'm doing some test swatches to see if this yarn will work for the Bees pattern. I love the softness of the yarn so far, and it is knitting up beautifully on 2.5mm Addi Turbo Lace circulars. The colorway is called Olive Oil for Eve (every color in this special run is named after a staffer at Needle Nook), but for some reason I think of it as being less like olive oil and peppercorns (the flecks of brown and red are supposed to be peppercorns), and more like all the colors of pistachios--including the red you get when they commit the crime of dyeing them.

I like the yarn very much, but I am beginning to suspect that it won't be suitable for this pattern without extensive modification. The gauge I am getting for the fabric I prefer to produce looks way too small for the 68-stitch leg that this pattern calls for. *sigh* I'll play with it a little, and see if throwing in an extra couple of pattern repeats around the leg will do the trick, which would also require big changes to the heel design.

If I can't make it work, I will have to make the difficult choice of keeping the Bees but switching to a heavier yarn, or staying with this yummy stuff and choosing a new pattern.

Progress on this Project

October 8th, 2007

Surfing the web is dangerous.

I was reading a blog that linked to a blog that mentioned a book that linked to an online store, and before you know it I was buying... Japanese Knitting Books. Specifically, knitting books by Japanese designer Shida Hitomi.



From the first book, I found a pattern I liked, modified it a little, and turned it into a pair of socks in Jojoland Melody Superwash (color ms26).

I like the socks very much so far, especially the acid-trip color gradations. I'll post more photos as I have them.

Progress on this project

October 7th, 2007

Turning Heels at Turandot

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I went with my dear friend Tom to the opera this afternoon, for a performance of Atlanta Opera's production of Turandot. The opera may mean a lot of different things to a lot of people, but to me it always means good times (I am a four-year season ticket holder, and counting) and it also means an opportunity to knit. Here's sock two of my Celtic Knots sock, getting a heel flap and some cultural enrichment all at the same time.

AO has moved to a new home, relocating from the Civic Center downtown to a new facility out in Scared White People Land. While it was nice to have a shiny new opera house, it did bother me to realize that all it took to raise average attendance figures from 6,000 people to 10,000 was shifting the setting from an urban neighborhood where "those people" live, to a site out in the sterile suburbs which is insanely far from the nearest MARTA station.

I can deal with people being idiots, and being afraid to support the arts when it requires them to step outside their little vanilla comfort zones, but something else happened that actually gave me the willies. Have you ever been to an opera, ballet or symphony concert that started with the playing of the national anthem? No shit. It was something strange and alien that I had never seen before. Displays of honest patriotism and love of America are just dandy, but this was something different. It was contrived and stilted, and smacked of enforced compliance. Patriotism, my ass. This was nationalism, and more to the point, it was nationalism invading the arts. And I wasn't happy to note that the arrangement the orchestra was using was not some lush symphonic work-up suitable to the occasion. It was a martial arrangement, real John Philip Sousa stuff, the whole bells and whistles shooting match, complete with glockenspiel and rolling snare drums that you would expect a marching band to play.

Welcome to Cobb County.

Anyway, Philip Webb kicked ASS as Calaf, and gave me beautifully delicate shivers at the ending of Nessun Dorma, so it was an afternoon wonderfully well-spent.

And I got some knitting done.

October 2nd, 2007

Knitting is a Small World

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I was uploading some finished projects at Ravelry, and in the process I left a comment on the pattern page for Norah Gaughan's Droplet Hat.

And I got an email from Norah Gaughan! Wow!

I wrote back a total fanboy email that I hope she reads with tolerance and grace, hahaha.

I'm going to like Ravelry. :D

October 1st, 2007

RAVELRY HAS FOUND ME!

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Hello, all.

I've been away for more than a year. Hard to believe, isn't it?

I got an invitation from Ravelry today, after many, many weeks of waiting. The first thing they want is an RSS feed from your blog, so it guilted me into trotting over to make a post. Shame on me. But, hey, good on me that I am back.

:D

August 28th, 2006

New Book! (and a speed hat)

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Well, I've been waiting and waiting, and my copy of Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature FINALLY arrived! I was so excited.

I sat down right away and looked at every single page of the book, and only found about 20 projects I want to make, hahaha. I thought I was home free, and then I got to the very last page of the book and saw The Hat. I loved it. I was seized with an immediate compulsion to grab something in my stash and knit it RIGHT NOW.

Which is what I did. Thank God for stash. ;)

I had a skein of Malabrigo kettle-dyed merino in a great color called Marron Oscuro, which is mostly brown with shots of rose and green. I'd picked it up on a whim, thinking I could swatch it and play around, and eventually be inspired to create a project for it.

Before I could stop myself, I was casting on for my hat. I hadn't even managed to close the book the first time I opened it. :D

August 21st, 2006

Fun With Felting

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I've been interested in felting for a long time. In June, I even took a bag design workshop with felting specialist Debbie Radtke. The class was very inspirational, and I immediately went out and bought some Noro Kureyon in colorway 115, and whipped up a quick little mini-tote.

And immediately stalled.

Thankfully, the Guild has a summer project knit-along to make felted water bottle covers, and our founder Whit Robbins has hosted several afternoons at her home so people can get together and help each other actually get our felted projects FELTED, lol.

I got the tote felted, then knitted a matching bottle cover from the same wool. As wild as the colors are, I find it all a little plain, so I plan to stitch a pattern in iridescent bugle beads to give it a little character.

I'll post when I have more progress to report. :)

Passing On The Obsession

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I find I am really enjoying teaching. My students all tend to be new knitters or absolute beginners, and it is really a lot of fun to help them learn early all the little things it took me years to begin being aware of. Right now, the students in my Knitting in the Round class are all making simple watch caps (including my friend knit_snit who is currently my chief knitting enabler).

I think everyone is doing a terrific job. Here's a shot of what everyone got finished in class last week. The green hat on the left is the finished hat everyone is making.

August 20th, 2006

Hand Towels Get Fancy

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Another intoxicating temptation from the Mason-Dixon book are scrumptious looking hand towels knit from Euroflax all-linen yarn. YUM!

I got impatient to acquire some Euroflax, I gotta admit. Normally, I shop around. I hit the 3 or 4 local stores I shop at, and see what they carry. I scout out eBay. I see what's for sale online. This time, I couldn't wait.

I happened to be fondling some Claudia Handpaints linen randomly whilst window shopping, and I noticed that Euroflax was used as a base. !!!!! I couldn't stop myself. I bought it.

I'm going to launder it first before I knit with it, because it is a little stiff. Here's how it looks before washing.

See all the Mason-Dixon projects


The Ballband Warshrag was the real reason I bought this book (well, that and the Baby Bib). Somehow, the thought of handknitting dishrags instead of continually buying sponges was immensely appealing. I was enchanted by all the color possibilities, and loved the idea of giving myself such a long lasting gift. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized if I am going to knit for the kitchen, I might as well get serious about it. I need full-sized kitchen towels. Why not knit those?

I turned to my stash of cheap cotton (recently aquired just for this book) and picked three different color schemes. In every case, I wanted to use a solid color for the background, and a varigated for the reverse stockinette stripes. I started with a blue towel using a blue-to-white varigated. It turned out really well, and I am already using it in my kitchen. YAY!

The second one is yellow with a gold-to-blue varigated, and the girls in my various knitting groups like the color combination a LOT more than I do. It's okay. My final for the first set of towels will be a green towel with a blue-to-green varigated. As you can see, my cat Will Riker likes the newest ones vary much.

See all the Mason-Dixon projects

August 16th, 2006

Six Is Enough For Now

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I finished the last two helmet liners I had sponsorship yarn for, and I am calling it quits for a while. I figure six liners is enough for now, and I can always whip up a few more if I feel so moved.

I finished the last one when I was visiting my folks back in Arkansas for the 4th of July. My mom, always a real good sport, gamely models my final (for now) liner.

History of this Project

The Practical Baby Blanket

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I loved the Koigu blanket. I really did. But THIS is the MUCH more practical replacement for that project.

I rarely stray into acrylic yarn territory, but it really is the best choice for this kind of project. Not knowing where to start, I went to the experts at Lion Brand, and came away with some really solid recommendations. Using Lion Brand Jiffy, I downloaded a really simple lace pattern from their free patterns section (you may need to log in to their site to see it).

I had to crank out two of these in rapid succession. The first one is pictured above in a pastel colorway called "Daytona". I am about half-way through with the second, below, in a jazzy colorway called "El Paso". Can you guess which is for the boy and which is for the girl?

Adventures in Frogland

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I finished the first skein of the Chevron Lace Baby Throw, and decided to rip it back to yarn. Why, you may ask?

One of the four infants I have been knitting for was born, and in the process of visiting her and her mom in the hospital over the first week of her life, I was forcibly reminded what indignities baby blankets are routinely submitted to. And while a gorgeous Koigu merino wool giftie certainly speaks volumes about my regard for this part of my extended family, do I really want to subject a mother with a newborn to "wash delicate, dry flat" every other day? Or would I prefer to have my present actually USED by mom and baby on a regular basis?

This project is abandoned, and hopefully this nice wool will show up in a future project.

History of this Project

Joining the Herd

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Like almost every other knitter in America, I have succumbed to the quaint charm of Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Normally, I am not a fan of simple, homey knitting. I HATE garter stitch with a bloody passion. Really. But the lure of the Warshrag, the linen hand towel, the charming cotton baby bib, and the marvel that is the Absorba Bath Mat were just too much for me to resist. I bought the book.

To complicate matters, Michael's had a big sale on Sugar-n-Cream cotton yarn. How do you beat a dollar a ball? I bought a few. About 50. Or so.

I imagine there will be a whole series of Mason-Dixon projects. Stay tuned for details.

The Warshrag Kitchen Towel
The Linen Hand Towel
The Absorba Bath Mat
A World of Baby Bibs

The Prodigal Knitter

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Wow... I disappeared for two months. Sorry about that.

In the time I have been away, my soon-to-be-ex-husband moved out of the apartment (yeah, it sucks), I started teaching at a new knitting store in town (yeah, it rocks), and I committed myself to attempting the three levels of the Knitting Guild of America's Master Knitter program.

In TV news, I am still ripping through the X-Files, and am currently beginning Season 5. Since I kind of fell down on writing episode remarks for most of season 2 and all of seasons 3 and 4, I will probably abandon the practice of summarizing my experience of every single upcoming episode. I'll probably still post about the adventures of Mulder and Scully periodically, but it doesn't make sense to keep poring over it in detail when I have missed writing about such a huge chunk.

It's good to be back. I have a LOT of project updates to post. :)

June 5th, 2006

When I was ready to start working on this project, I went back and read the pattern again while I was working on my gauge swatch. I'd always loved the mini-bobble edging on this, so imagine my shock when I read "Make 28. Sew to points."

Uh... no.

Can you imagine anyone seriously designing something like this, and then expecting anyone to knit 28 individual bobbles, then SEW them in place? 28 TIMES?!?!?!? Not to mention, this is a baby blanket, and they will get ripped off, most certainly.

So, while I was gauge-swatching, I figured out a way to just knit the bobbles into the first row, as should have been done in the pattern in the first place. As you can see, it worked just fine. And by the time I get to the opposite side and am ready to knit the bobbles into the bind off row, I will be highly motivated to figure out the best way to do it. ;)

Progress on this Project.

June 4th, 2006

One of the reasons I like Duane Barry is that we get a totally gratuitous shot of Mulder in a speedo. There is absolutely no reason for Krycek to have to track Mulder down while he is swimming laps in the Bureau pool, but hey, I'm not complaining. Otherwise, it is still a really good episode that sets up a pivotal plot development that will be relied upon again and again in future episodes. You see, Gillian Anderson got inconveniently pregnant and they had to work it into the show somehow without actually having Scully get pregnant. What to do, what to do? Let's have her kidnapped by aliens, so no one will wonder why she isn't around for a few shows. And Duane Barry is just the man to make that possible. Mulder assists in a hostage negotiation where the hostage-taker is a wacko alien abductee (hence why they call in Mulder). In the process of sorting out the reality of Duane Barry's situation, it is discovered that THEY have insert metal tracking devices in his body, one of which is recovered upon Barry's capture, and ends up in Scully's hands. She carries it around with her in her purse, which turns out to be a Big Mistake. It makes it easier for Barry to find her (with the help of his "friends"), and use her as an offering to the aliens so they won't take him any more.

This leads us to Ascension, which is all about how Mulder and Krycek chase Barry up Skyland Mountain while Scully rides along with him, very uncomfortably in the trunk of his car. Fox gets there just in time to see Duane Barry rejoicing because the aliens considered Scully an acceptable consolation prize, and left without taking Barry along. This doesn't prevent Mulder from disagreeing with their choice to the point that he attempts to strangle Barry to death, but hey, nobody's perfect. Fox is just edgy because he believes Dana's horrible fate is all his fault. Which, it kind of is. But Scully is gone now, and Mulder will just have to soldier on alone.

Which he attempts to do in 3, running all the way to Los Angeles to chase down a triad of vampire killers (vampires who kill, as opposed to vampire killers, folks who kill vampires). His investigation takes him to a club that caters to clientele who like to pretend they are vampires, or at least try to look like them, where he is propositioned by a sexy blood sucker who thinks he may be all that, but drops him like a hot rock when he won't drink her blood. Some people, gah. Turns out this girl is not a vampire herself, but is the woman the three killers are running all over the country to find, because, you know, they want to recruit her. So, Fox spends the night at her Malibu house to, you know, protect her, and we are treated to another gratuitous semi-nude Mulder viewing when he is attempting to shave without a mirror (she likes the vampires, right?, so there are no mirrors in the house). Now, don't get me wrong. I like seeing a stripped down David Duchovny at least as much as the average man-o-phile would, but in the end, this show isn't about cheesecake. It's about implausible stories about aliens, monsters and psychic phenomenon, and putting in all the man candy just makes it cheap. ;)

Anyway, in One Breath, Scully magically reappears. Just shows up in a hospital intensive care ward wired for all manner of special effects, and no one knows how she got there. She looks pretty good for someone who has been missing and presumed dead, especially those torpedo-like breasts that jut quite alarmingly up from underneath her drab hospital gown. Now, I know Gillian Anderson had just had a baby when those scenes were shot, and it certainly explains her physiognomy, but viewers who didn't know that would surely be wondering when mammoth breast augmentation became part of the standard medical-experiment repertoire of people-snatching extraterrestrials. Or maybe they will just wonder if Scully moonlights as a stripper. Or maybe it was sweeps week when this episode originally aired, and the network thought it would boost ratings? Hard to say. In the end, Scully's post-abduction rack is about all that is memorable in this episode. Oh, except that we get to hear X make an impassed speech about... something. Oh, and someone gets shot.

Work has mostly stopped on the Lady Eleanor Stole for the time being. I have four friends giving birth any week now (one has already) and I need to make progress on my baby knitting. I've missed working on this one, so I add on a square or two from time to time to keep my love for it fresh.

I've done nothing at all on the Entrelac Socks or the clothing for my Trauma Bear. Call it project triage. I want to work on them, but other things have the top priority now.

I have two more Helmet Liners to finish before I will have used up the free yarn I was given to make them. I want to have them both done before the next Guild meeting, so I don't have them hanging over my head. No pun intended.

I've got the back and the left front done on the Double-Breasted Baby Jacket, and I've gotten a nice start on the right front. Also, I've cast on for the Chevron Lace Throw and worked the first six rows.

June 3rd, 2006

I spent the Memorial Day Weekend visiting a friend who has been kind enough to offer me refuge in times of turmoil on more than one occasion. He's a terrific guy who I have deliberately addicted to my infamous Coconut Cranberry Muffins, so I can visit as often as I like. And not only does he not mind if I bring my knitting along to work on obsessively, he's even cool with me bringing my X-Files. That's a friend.

As I started to burn through the first four episodes of season two whilst curled up in a papasan chair in my friend's basement, it hit me rather surprisingly that I have never seen ANY of these episodes. Wow. Three of them I knew the plotline already, but I can't recall ever actually having seen these shows. Huh.

Little Green Men is the first episode I've watched that caused me to speculate whether it really even should have been made. It's not quite as worthless as "Space" from season one, but only because it isn't an obvious attempt to cheesily cash in on current events. Instead, we get to see Mulder and Scully risk life and limb in the jungles of Puerto Rico, and be very implausibly shot at by American Special Forces troops, for no better reason that to support a ponderous episode where Mulder questions whether or not he's really seeing little green men, or simply just wants to really badly. It's not a bad premise for an episode to be built around, but the execution was really poor.

Host is without question the most ridiculous X-Files episode ever made. It is so over the top, that they actually make fun of it in future episodes. In it, sewer workers in New Jersey stalk and are stalked by a creature that lives in the toxic waste below, and attacks people at will. Turns out it is a mutant monster with many human characteristics, but it is essentially... a flatworm. A fluke. A big, blood-sucking wormlike thing that looks suspiciously like the Creature from the Black Lagoon tricked out with worm-resembling special effects makeup. I am not kidding. You see, this thing was created accidentally onboard a Russian freighter that was illegally dumping radioactive waste from... Chernobyl. So, apparently, Chernobyl radiation is so super-bitching that it can take the human genetic matter found in sewage, fuse it onto an innocuous flatworm, cause it to evolve through thousands of generations in the course of a few days or weeks, resulting in Flukeman who escapes from the Russian ship, and goes to live in the cozy New Jersey sewers, presumably because that most resembles the toxic soup from which it was born. In the end, they actually cut the fleeing Flukeman in half, for no other reason than they want to leave us with the realization that when you cut a flatworm in half, they regenerate their missing parts, and you end up with TWO fully-functional flukes. THAT is what I'm talking about! :)

Blood is also more fantasy-based than a good X-Files episode should be. I think the writers kind of went insane for a brief period of time, because they are currently pushing my ability to suspend disbelief quite a bit further than it should be pushed, even for a diehard fan like me. In this show, people in a friendly little town are murdering each other, then killing themselves, for no apparent reason. It would seem they are going berserk because... wait for it... their appliances are telling them to kill. Anything with a digital readout or a TV-like screen becomes capable of sending blood-thirsty messages of mayhem to innocent citizens who then become rampaging mass murderers. Wow. Can you imagine your WATCH telling you to bludgeon your boss to death? Our intrepid agents discover that local agriculturalists have been spraying crops with suspect chemicals that induce deep states of paranoia in those exposed. But that in itself is not enough to account for all the murderous wigging out that transpires. In the closing moments of the episode, Mulder receives a message from his phone readout that says "All Done. Bye bye.", implying that the text exhortations of microwave ovens, elevator readouts, automobile clocks and business machinery may have been part of a controlled experiment that is now concluded. Or is it?

I had trouble connecting with Sleepless because at this point I was really irritated by the character of the episodes that had preceded it. In it's defense, this episode was actually pretty well-done, and had some terrific performances by its cast of guest stars. It also does a fairly decent job of executing the moralistic gambit invented by Star Trek, where you make a show that is ostensibly about ONE thing, but it is REALLY about something else. In this show, sleeplessness is a metaphor for guilt, and the moral being preached is that when you play at being god, the consequences are disastrous and far-reaching. A platoon of soldiers in Vietnam is surgically altered so they never have to sleep. Sounds good for the military, right? Until these super soldiers decide they don't need to follow orders any more, and go their merry way, leaving a string of murdered civilians in their wake. Cut to 24 years later when surviving members of this project are being killed off one by one by the only member of the platoon whose conscience has survived. Oh, and he has developed amazing psychic powers also. See what I mean about far-reaching consequences? All in all, I probably would have enjoyed this one more without the taste of the first three in my mouth.

Well, Flukeman may have been really awful, but it still kind of rocks. I think it is becoming one of those "so bad it is good" things in my mind. Go, Flukeman.

So, like many other Americans, I decided to spend my Memorial Day weekend driving to visit friends. I packed half my kitchen (I wanted to cook, and I was pretty certain my friend's kitchen would be rather ill-equipped), fun clothes for many occasions, and of course, my knitting. How can you take a road trip without bringing your knitting?

Ninety miles into my drive, I crossed the border into South Carolina, and promptly got a ticket. No, I was NOT knitting while driving. But I was doing 82 in a 65 mile-per-hour zone, and the officer knew I would not be looking to reduce speed so suddenly, considering the higher speed limit and general crazy driving practices in Georgia. They camp out at the border waiting for the unwary. Boo. Hiss.

The officer wrote me up as having been doing 74 in a 65 zone, so it looks like he might have saved me about $110 on my fine. You think he was a knitter?

I finished off my fourth helmet liner forever ago, but I let my journal updating get sidetracked to mundane things like being busy at work, and taking a short vacation for Memorial Day Weekend (more on that in another post).

Here, another of my very accommodating co-workers models the finished object. I have two more to complete, and I am taking a break from helmet liners for a while.

Progress on this project.

May 25th, 2006

And season one draws to a close. All in all, I enjoyed the last disk very much. Four really enjoyable episodes.

In Tooms, we get to revisit Eugene Tooms, the guy from "Squeeze" at the beginning of the season, as he schemes to get out of the mental hospital and eat the last liver he needs for his 30-year hybernation cycle. He gets out. Chow time. We get to meet Assistant Director Skinner in this episode, certainly a joy, and I believe we get to hear the Smoking Man speak for the first time. Skinner asks him "Do you believe this?" indicating Mulder's preposterous report of 100-year-old, shape-altering, liver-devouring, serial killer Tooms. The Smoking Man replies "Of course I do".

Born Again was one of those episodes that likes to hint at the answers, but always hints at the wrong answers, to string you along and keep you guessing. It basically boils down to a little girl who is mysteriously connected to the violent deaths of several police officers. Could she be the killer? How could a little girl forcefully toss a big guy out a window? Well, if she's telekinetic it isn't so hard. But why would she want to? Could be she is the reincarnated soul of their former partner whom they "accidentally" drowned in his own fish tank when he refused to go along with some dirty money scheme, and then covered the circumstances of his death by mutilating the body so it would look like the triads did it. Fairly plausible, if you ask me.

I like Roland very much. It's another episode where someone is not who they seem because they are being controlled by a consciousness other than their own. In this case, mentally-challenged janitor Roland Fuller does advanced aeronautical mathematics when no one is looking because he is being manipulated by his brother. His twin brother. His DEAD twin brother. Or rather, his dead twin brother's frozen head. Seriously. But even in the face of such absurdity, this episode manages to be suspenseful, engaging, and capable of tugging at the old heart strings. I actually cried when Roland gives his prized possession (a mayonnaise jar full of adhesive-backed foil stars) to the woman he loves when the feds come to take him away. Oh, and we get to see the aftermath of what happens when you stick someone's head in a LOT of liquid nitrogen, and then drop them on the floor. The forensics boys have to use a LOT of tape to outline all the little ice cubey bits.

The season concludes with The Erlenmeyer Flask, where we get to see our first alien/human hybrid skulking about in the harbor of what is probably supposed to be Baltimore but is inescapably Vancouver, right down to the "local" cops with all the Canadian accents, eh? Not without its cheesier devices ("Zeus" Storage on "Pandora" Street...puh-lease. I don't think we need to get beaten quite that badly over the head to get the playing-at-being-gods-to-the-detriment-of-humanity implications), this episode is notable for several things. This is the first time a season will end with a threat to shut down the X-Files (but certainly not the last). We get to see the uber-cool frozen alien baby. And Deep Throat gets shot. Or does he? No, really, he does. But does he really? Yes, he does.

Season Two is up next.

May 20th, 2006

New Project: Helmet Liners

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Another of the many community service projects sponsored by the Atlanta Knitting Guild are woolen helmet liners for soldiers. I've already knocked out three of these (they knit up fast in Cascade 220 on 7s and 9s), but I have wool for three more. I'll finish the green one this weekend, and maybe dash off the other two before the next Guild meeting.

At the risk of politicizing my journal, I am NOT a supporter of our government's policies in Iraq. I don't believe we have a right to undertake the military action we have taken, and I don't believe our troops are being sent into harm's way for a just cause. Having said that, I am a citizen of this country, and these men and women are in mortal jeopardy because they have made a committment to protecting.... me. And you, and him, and her, and the rest of us all. It's a terrible position for them to be in, and regardless of how misguided the choices that placed them there, I respect that they have chosen to do this thankless job. The very least I can do is acknowledge their humanity, and do what I can to make a few people more comfortable than they otherwise would have been.

Progress on this project

May 17th, 2006

Did I mention a LOT of people I know are having babies? Soon?

I bought some wonderful Koigu yarn today, solid color number 2329. If you've ever worked with Koigu Premium Merino before, you know why I love this yarn so unreasoningly. Sure, it is amazingly soft merino. Sure, it has a super tight twist that makes it knit up beautifully. Sure, the Painter's Palette line has a breathtaking array of available colorways. But the SOLIDS! The solids have a beautiful, soft varigation of color throughout the skein, very painterly, gorgeous.

The Vogue Knitting on the Go series has a volume on Baby Blankets, and it includes a wonderful pattern using four skeins of Koigu called the Chevron Lace Throw. I realized as soon as the baby blue Koigu came up on eBay that I was going to be making this pattern. :)

This is as good a picture as I can get of what the blanket will look like. I'll be starting on this shortly after my yarn arrives. I really like the mini-bobble edging. :)

Progress on this Project

May 16th, 2006

I have to admit that I didn't get much knitting done during these episodes. Well, I did during Shapes, but I was working on the garter stitch Diagonal Chenille Scarf, and that hardly counts. ;)

Miracle Man is a solid episode, with all the hallmarks of a good X-Files story (at this stage, anyway) - witty interpersonal exchanges between Mulder and Scully, a collection of things and people who are not what they seem, and plenty of doubt as to whether there really is anything paranormal going on here. I tend to favor the "unexplained" angle of most of the early episodes because, like Mulder, I want to believe. In THIS show, what we want to believe is that a child faith-healer who raised a man from the dead, grew up to be the star attraction in his father's tent revival ministry. We don't want to believe he's murdering people, however a lot of folks he heals are turning up dead. I think I would have enjoyed this episode a lot, but it took me about a dozen tries to make it through to the end. Life intervenes, sometimes.

In Shapes, we get to see the Native American legend of the manitou in action, and it will look a whole lot like werewolves to most viewers out there. Ranchers and Indians involved in land dispute. Ranchers kill animal who is attacking their cattle. Dead "animal" turns out to be dead Indian, who is involved in said court case over land. Ranchers son is heartsick over accidental murder of court case foe. Then he "accidentally" murders his own father, because HE is the werewolf now. But he doesn't know it. Then he almost accidentally murders Scully, who doesn't believe in werewolves. blah blah blah etc. I was steeped in such chaos over the weekend that I didn't really get a chance to relax into this episode and enjoy it. But I did finish a garter-stitch scarf. ;)

Darkness Falls I watched without knitting. Not a stitch. But at the end of my roller coaster weekend, it was all I could do to lay quietly and stay awake until the end of the episode. This is a show that falls into my "nature run amok" category, which describes shows where the natural world is the enemy. Often when they have shows like this, the writers go overboard to deliver some sort of heavy-handed sermon about conservation, but this one was quite a bit more even-handed, at least on the environmental message. Some of the characters were a bit stridently two-dimensional, but hey... you can't have everything. One thing that is different about this episode (other than this is the first episode Gillian Anderson looks pregnant in), it is one of the rare ones where both Mulder and Scully end up in serious jeopardy. Usually, one is shot, or kidnapped, or assaulted, or SOMETHING, but the other one is there to save the day. This is one of only three episodes I can recall where both of our heroes end up in dire straits. I find it unsettling. Also, this completely changes the way I perceive that sinister creature... the firefly. Thank gawd Joss Whedon came along and redeemed THAT one. ;)

Less than 24-hours after I started it, the red chenille scarf is done! Damn, that was fast.

Here it is, modeled by a co-worker who also knits and was consequently willing to be my mannequin. She's going to have a baby coming up soon, so one of the projects I will be listing next will be something for her baby.

Project recap

  • Materials used
    • 7 oz. Cherry Tree Hill Plush chenille in a potluck colorway resembling their production colorway "Foxy Lady"
    • U.S. size 15 needles
    • big-ass plastic tapestry needle for weaving ends
  • Pattern - knit with no pattern, in garter stitch

See the history of this project.

May 14th, 2006

E.B.E. stands for Extraterrestrial Biological Entity. That means "space alien". This is the episode where we get to see little green men. Or do we?

This episode is all about The Lie. From the beginning, Deep Throat has Mulder and Scully dancing to his tune, sending them chasing all over America in pursuit of a truck that may or may not contain the wreckage of a downed UFO and the remains of its former occupant. At every turn, the "evidence" turns out to be fake, fabricated for them by their deep source contact. Scully questions his motivations for sharing information with them, but Fox needs to believe. With each step closer to gaining the knowledge he seeks, Mulder becomes more and more disillusioned as he realizes how easily he is manipulated, and how readily the enemy keeps the truth from him.

Was there ever an E.B.E. or a spacecraft? Or was it all a deliberate series of lies designed to achieve some unknown purpose regarding our intrepid special agents? This episode does its very best to see that question is never satisfactorily answered.

Happily, we get to meet the Lone Gunmen in this episode. Many of my favorite episodes include them, and they are integral to my enjoyment of the series. I may even watch their wretchedly short-lived TV series after I am finished with The X-Files. Well... maybe. ;)

May 13th, 2006

Eleanor Goes to TaeKwonDo

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I take my knitting everywhere. Don't you?

While at a karate dojo watching my pseudo-nephews Ryan and Andrew (who also knits) take their Orange Belt test, I brought along the Eleanor stole to work on. I didn't get much done on it, but it attracted a lot of attention. One little lady was such a big fan that I used her as a subject for testing the fabric's drapability.

Looks fine to me. :D

Progress on this Project

Today was not a good day. I was sleep deprived (my fault), and sad, depressed and anxious (also my fault), and dealing with the breakup of my marriage (no one's fault, but not my choice). I was going to a karate school to see my pseudo-nephews test for their orange belts (they passed... YAY), and of course I brought my knitting along. My girlfriend (who is the mother of the boys) gave me some very potent pharmeceutical compounds to help me deal with my very icky day. While helping me stay grounded and calm, the drugs did not contribute in any way to my ability to be an effective knitter.

I had brought the Lady Eleanor Stole with me to work on, but I was basically too altered to work the entrelac without error. Hmmmm. Too messed up to knit, but with a great need to keep my hands busy. What to do, what to do.

So, I asked myself in my brain-muddled way, "What can I knit that will take no real skill or conscious effort?" I am ashamed to admit how readily I came up with "How about a garter stitch scarf in a multi-colored novelty yarn?"

What kind of horrid yarn-and-knitting-snob does one have to be to get snarky with ONESELF in an internal dialog about the relative merits of "scarf knitters".

I happened to have in my bag a big hank of Cherry Tree Hill's Plush chenille. Now, I am not a novelty yarn knitter. But I bought this mill end on eBay because it was cheap, I loved the colors, and Warren had suggested the Wavy scarf I am so fond of might work well in chenille.

I had bulky, quick-knit chenille. I had my Denise's, so I whipped up a size 15 circular. I can figure out how to do the diagonal knitting thing without a pattern. There was nothing to stand between me and my future as a garter stitch scarf knitter.

Know what? I am liking this scarf. Chenille is soft and snuggly, and knitting big yarn on big needles gives big results FAST. :)

I may even keep this one when it is finished.

Progress on this Project

May 11th, 2006

Maybe my knitting is just really interesting these days, but I find I don't have a lot to say about these next two episodes.

In Lazarus, we get to meet one of Scully's former lovers, as we did with Mulder in Fire. My double standard is probably showing, but I didn't find this glimpse nearly as interesting. FBI agent is gunned down by bank robber, and when Scully goes to save the life of her former boyfriend/professor, some kind of cosmic cross-connect brings back the dead bad guy (whom Scully killed) in Mr. Nice Guy's body. Blah, blah, blah. Silk Garden 47 has such beautiful color transitions.

Young at Heart gives us a sinister killer who is aging in reverse, and has an axe to grind with Mulder. Oh, and he also has a regenerated salamander hand that he uses to write snarky notes to Fox, which he conveniently leaves on dead people so the FBI will deliver them.

Did you know the X-Files theme song has LYRICS? I read them once in an interview with the show's composer, Mark Snow.

The X-Files is a show
With music by Mark Snow
La la la la la la

Critical Equipment Failure

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I went to work on the baby jacket, and I couldn't find my other needle. I can't imagine where it is, because it isn't in my knitting bag, it isn't in my car, and it isn't in the living room. Must have fallen out of my bag at the car dealership when I was getting the Civic serviced today.

:(

Luckily, I just bought five pairs of Addi Turbos from a vendor on eBay for supercheap. It will take a while for them to get here, but one of them is a size 4, and that is just what the Baby Jacket Doctor ordered. Besides, being a Denise Interchangable Needles convert, I haven't worked with anything but circulars (and small-sized dpns) for 15 years. It was weird knitting up the jacket back on straight needles after all this time, so I am glad my circulars are on the way.

May 10th, 2006

Can it be possible for me to ever get enough of Brad Dourif? I don't think so. He's amazing in everything he's ever done, from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest to LOTR: The Two Towers to Deadwood, and he is just as terrific in this episode. In Beyond the Sea, Dourif plays a mass murderer who attempts to bargain his way out of his execution by psychically channeling information on a unsolved case of two abducted people who need to get rescued before the crazy guy kills them. In the process, he taps into a message coming through to Scully from her recently deceased father. Another bargaining chip. This is a great episode for Gillian Anderson to really give Scully some depth. It is wonderful to watch her struggle with accepting something she can't believe in to 1) save a couple of lives, and 2) communicate with her father. And Brad Dourif is AMAZING. But he always is.

Gender Bender is a lot of fun, because it has a few wicked little twists in it, like having pheromonally supercharged sex machines emerge from a community of isolationist religious fundamentalists (a la the Amish). Oh, and they are gender changing shapeshifters. Their unusual, uh, PROPERTIES are uncovered when one of them escapes from the farm and heads for the city to get him/her some. Problem is, the "lucky" sex partners all die from an overdose of pheromones. So sad. One nice bit was that the only survivor of one of these encounters is a self-centered Disco Romeo played surprisingly enough by Nicholas Lea, who we will see later on as the magnificently evil Alex Krycek. Outstanding!

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