Friday, April 20, 2012

A day in the life with ADHD

Today is a typical day.  I've got yarn on the stove, the tunic (see earlier posts) on the needles, my first tentative lacework on the knitting machine, a video game, and the blog...all going at once. This is how my days usually go.  It's normal for the attention deficit crowd, of which I'm a lifelong member.  Oh, and my lunch has been in the microwave for an hour, because I've forgotten to eat it.

My new-to-me knitting machine has a name now.  It's Brother Henry.  The manufacturer is Brother.  And Henry just came to me.  Here's what Brother Henry and I are working on today:

This is attempt number five at using the lace carriage.  I keep having stitches hang up on the gate posts.  Not sure why.  I did reduce the weight, a lot, which helped the stitches hop the gate posts.  Now I'm down to one error every other row instead of four per row.  Improvement!

The knitting machine is a good fit for the ADHD, because (at least using the lace carriage) you have to keep switching your attention from the knit carriage, the pattern display, the lace carriage, and the needles.  The pattern display tells you which setting to make on the lace carriage.  You run that for a few rows, checking the needles every time to make sure the stitches made it securely. Then you have to keep an eye on the pattern display, because it will tell you when to run the yarn across with the knit carriage and for how many rows.  It's very satisfying.  Except for the error part. 

Well, I'm off to knit a tunic, or dye some yarn, or make some lace, or shoot some zombies.  Enjoy the cosmos!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Boiling a frog!

I had a "boiling a frog" experience.  First, here's the metaphor, in case you haven't heard it before:
If you take a frog, and put it in boiling water, the frog isn't stupid - it will jump right out!  HOT!  However, if you take a frog, and put it in frog-temperature water, and sloooooowly raise the temperature, it won't notice that it's too hot until it's too late. 

 And that is how you boil a frog.  (Don't try this at home, please! - It's a metaphor. I don't actually boil live frogs!)

So, this is how I became a boiled frog: I want to continue growing and expanding as a dyer, so I began investigating how to make different kinds of gradient effects.  One method, that affords the dyer a lot of control over the outcome, is to start with a knitted panel of undyed yarn, then paint that.  When you unravel the knitting, the yarn can have any number of delicious patterns that will unfold as you knit the socks, shawl, or cardigan that you make out of that yarn.

An astute raveler (that's you, Knittingandroid!) pointed this out to me, but I initially resisted the notion because (boiling water! hot!) I would go bonkers knitting plain panels over and over!  But the seed was there and began to grow.  I started looking at knitting machines. (frog-temperature water)  Little, itsy, bitsy knitting machines, made of plastic that are inexpensive and all they do is panels and tubes. (frog-temp plus 2 degrees).  I watched youtube videos on what they can do. (f-t plus 4).  I tentatively joined a machine knitting group on ravelry (add a couple more degrees). Then I started looking at the lovely items people are making from the machines (temp jumped 7 more degrees, it felt so good!). Then I started researching actual, honest-to-goodness, steel-bed knitting machines (big jump here, but I was on a roll...) Eeek! $1,700 to $2,000 for a machine that knits my weight yarns... (way too big a jump.  Frog begins to notice that the water is too hot!)  But what about used machines...(ah, yes, that feels better - temp up another few degrees).  And so it went until I bid on a machine on ebay!  Bitter disappointment when I was outbid in the last few seconds :( 

Now, of course, I'm fully cooked.  I must have one. 

I feel blessed to have found the nicest person about three hours drive from here who was selling a lovely machine, at a very reasonable price.  Her only stipulation was that she was not going to ship it.  Local-area-only, customer pick up.  Well, three hours is no big deal.  (For those of you who aren't familiar with Texas, three hours driving doesn't get you halfway anywhere. We have a saying, "The sun has risen, the sun has set, and I ain't out of Texas yet!")

The seller gave generously of her time and expertise, showing all the features, sharing ideas, encouraging me.  Best of all, she is passionate about her craft, and her passion is contagious.  I came away with far more than a machine; I came away with enthusiasm and spirit.  Thank you, Karen!

So here it is! Ta Da!  My new-to-me, fully programmable, all parts included and working, Brother KH930e!!!!

Here's my first ever swatch:

I anticipate being quite consumed with this for the next few months.  There is a huge amount to learn.  So many features, techniques, and options... Oh, and I suppose I should take some time out to dye some yarn, too lol!

In other news, I gave up on the tunic. I decided to switch patterns after 16 rows. The crochet hook was fighting me and I began to find excuses to not work on it. Shame, since it is such a lovely fiber blend to work with. So, rather than see it lost in the ever-growing wips pile that will never see the light of day, I frogged it and started over with a vest-style tunic, called "Antique Lace" by Ilga Leja. I'm now halfway done with the back! So exciting to see it grow.
Someone opined that this pattern was one that made you say, "just one more row before I go to bed", and ten rows later, you're still saying that! Fact!

I'm off to play with my new toy.  Enjoy the cosmos, y'all!