Skirting around my Engineering Degree

When I first saw the pattern for the Indigo Ripple Skirt, I wasn't too impressed. Sure, it was an interesting idea, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do anything with it. California gets awfully hot in the summertime and a knitted skirt seemed incongruous, to say the least.

Enter Eunny and her variations. First of all, Rowan Denim. Wow. This is rapidly becoming a favorite yarn. While a bit splitty (solvable by using blunter needles!), it's downright *creamy* to knit. Second, the idea of a knitted skirt that goes in the washer and pops right out - better still. Finally, I know that even a medium-weight cotton is survivable out here and a cotton "flippy skirt" is missing from my wardrobe.

Ok, I'm in.

I'm also getting braver when it comes to my kitting. No more blind pattern following - it's time to really understand what's going on and why so that the finished object is what *I* wanted; but, not necessarily what the designer intended. Elizabeth, you're my hero!

Modification 1: Stitch Density

I mentioned earlier that the Rowan yarn knits up beautifully and I really wanted to find a way to get some stretch in an otherwise non-stretchy (cotton) yarn. Simple solution is a tighter gauge. Rather that the specified US6 needle, I swatched on US5s. I got an extra 1/4 stitch per inch (5.5 vs. 5.25) and 1/4 of an extra row (6.75 vs. 7). Changing needle sizes is pretty simple math, as long as I know the gauge. Trusty Clover bamboos at the ready.

Modification 2: Fit

Because I'm "getting along in life", I don't like clothing that accentuates my belly. While not necessarily flabby, it certainly exists and therefore a skirt that fits at my true waist and tapers accordingly will simply show off a less flattering part of my anatomy. Generally, I like skirts and pants that ride between the waist and the hip so I needed to increase the size of the waistband. Second, I still needed to get the taper to finish at the right place so that made the calculation a bit more complicated. New number of increase stitches over a new vertical dimension - that required paper and pencil. Regardless, I have numbers I'm happy with and I'll give it a shot. Most importantly, the pattern is very simple. So simple that if it's not going where I want it to go, I won't be too heartbroken to frog and restart.

I cast on today over lunch. Maybe this is my new "in office" project. :-)

Gloves and Bags

About two weeks ago, I started knitting on The Bag by Wendy Wonnacott. I'm using the recommended yarn, AllHemp6 from Hemp for Knitting, but with a blue/black combination rather than the two oranges shown. It's been interesting, to say the least.

I've made good progress so far - actually I'm more than half way done. Three repeats remain on the lower section, with the last repeat being the bottom of the bag. The pattern is not subtle! Also, it's just about "readable", though I find myself going back to make sure I'm doing the right filler pattern for the sides. This picture is more "true" when it comes to the overall color of the yarns and also shows where the repeats change direction at the equator of the bag. Again, this really doesn't show when looking at the picture in the book but is immediately apparent (ok, so immediately means one repeat of the pattern).

Yes, mistakes abound, but I'll live with 'em. The colors pop nicely and it's cool to look at. Hemp yarn is VERY stiff and that's resulted in a looser gauge than intended, but I do think I'll have enough to finish. It may be close with the blue, but I can certainly frog back some of what's supposed to be the lining at the top to salvage enough to finish the bottom. Not ideal, but so be it.

Exactly how I'm going to finish this also remains a mystery. I'd like to give it more structure than the original as it's big enough to be a work bag so I think a more substantial lining and handles are in order.

Separately, I'm working the Gansey Gloves from Yarndemon. A word of warning - there is no sizing information so I was going in to this a little blind. It recommended a worsted weight yarn with size 2 needles. I'm using Cascade 220 on Addi #2 and they're a little large. Here's a picture of the glove progress to date:

Peace-out, hey? It's definitely way too big for me so Chris will be the recipient of these. The pattern makes for a great learning experience - I understand how to manage a thumb gusset, add fingers, etc. From here, making my own pattern to fit my own hands seems almost trivial. It was a fun knit this weekend - a welcome change from the (not quite) mindlessness of The Bag.

August UnderCover Squares

Two squares again this month. No, I don't have the names handy here at work but I'll see about updating with the names when I get a chance. Overall matched with a closeup.

The lighting doesn't really show off the color too well - it's really a very nice green with just a hit of yellow. The colorway is called "Willow" - so imagine the silvery-yellow-green that is a willow leaf. Heck, I really like it. I'd even make a sweater (or something) out of it! Very easy to knit this time around; I finished both of them in an afternoon.

Decongestants help, I think. ;-)

How'm I gonna explain this?

Ok, so the "perq" that came with this last-minute trip to China was that I got to spend the weekend in Hong Kong. Given that I used to come here when I worked for HP, I knew that the Sheraton Towers hotel is rather nice. Called up corporate travel and bingo - room's booked.

My trip has been cut short (good and bad - but I can't talk about that) so rather than three nights here, I'm only spending one. Called corporate travel and amended the reservation.

Took the car down from Shenzhen, worried the whole time about whether or not I'd be tagged for having a fever (wasn't) and arrived in fine time for dinner somewhere close by. There was a bit of a queue at the desk, but eventually I stepped forward and, upon seeing my name, the woman immediately directed me to the "Towers Concierge on the 16th floor. This way please."

Uh oh.

Ok, I'll bite. Let's see what's about to happen. I ride the elevator and step in to what looks like Hugh Hefner's living room. Upholstered walls, nice carpeting, the works. Hrm. "Welcome Ms. Palme. You booked a deluxe room but we have a rather tight situation so we have upgraded you to a suite. You are in room 1601. Please go through."

I walk down the hall ... and walk ... and walk ... lots of other rooms ... and I get to a dead end. 1601. Corner room. Bracing myself, I walk in to find this:

Um, where's the bed? Oh yeah ... that's next door:

And what's that little doorway off to the right? Why, that's the dressing room:

and AROUND THE CORNER from that is the bathroom!

Oh, and did I mention there's ANOTHER WHOLE BATHROOM right by the DOOR!??!?!


There's no way this is getting past the corporate expense guys. Thank goodness breakfast is already included. I think I'm buying my own dinner tonight.

Defeated ...

by the treadmill.

I was feeling poorly yesterday (sore throat, stuffed nose) and that makes me a bit paranoid when over here. As you likely know, SARS was rampant over here about 4 years ago and ever since, people are checked for fever when crossing the border. They shine a laser at your forehead and measure your temperature. As long as you're below 38C, they let you through. If above, then it's time for "evaluation". I have to cross the border today, and again tomorrow, and I didn't want to take any chances so I skipped yesterday's run.

I'm not running today, either.

Yes, that means I'm not as morally "strong" as I'd like to be, but I also don't want to get dumped in to a Chinese hospital for monitoring. I suspect that the run on Wednesday, coupled with lack of sleep was enough to make my body rebel - and the mild cold symptoms were the result.

The up side is that I'm going home tomorrow (Saturday). As often happens, there was a "development" and I don't need to be over here next week. I get to go home, go to a pool party and enjoy the mountains for my run on Sunday.

Lantau and the Tian Tan Buddha will be here for me next time. Honestly, it'll be nice to head home.

And no, I won't dignify the treadmill by taking it's picture. Beast.

A quick trip report

Yes, here I am in China again. This time, since I'm here for quite some time, I thought it would be a good idea to try and post a few updates from here. Generally, being in China means being indoors. I go from the hotel, to the factory, to the hotel. There's little opportunity to explore since I'm generally working all day and it's really not safe for a woman to wander around at night. That being said, here's my office:

Note there are a lot of things to drink on the table. See the green cans? It's beer. First of all, why they'd think that I want to drink all day beats the heck out of me. Second - it's been sitting in a warm room all day! Even less incentive.

If you were to stop by, you'd see this:

yep, that's me - typing away crazily while fighting off jet lag. There are those darned warm beers again. What's that? You're wondering what's outside the window? Ah, let me oblidge you:

Factories. Lots of factories. Probably filled with people that look a lot like me, typing away at emails, and fighting off jet lag. Sound familiar? This particular part of China is actually quite modern - and quite clean. There are "shanty towns" that I drive past on the way in every day, but they're mostly hidden behind the riot of foliage that just loves this hot, humid, wet climate. The jungle would dearly love to have this area back ...

I've also said that there is an upside to being over here - quality knitting time. Here's what happened on the flight over:

This is a Tuscany shawl from Amy Singers "No Sheep For You" book. I've almost finished 13 repeats of the pattern and I've still got a TON of yarn left over. This is being knit in Hand Maiden Sea Silk - one of the 150g skeins, of course. This is what I'm talking about:

Dude - there's acres of shawl still in that ball! I'm betting that I'll get 17 repeats out of this baby (Grumperina would have done the math, but alas, no scale) before the ball gives out. It'll be rather huge, me thinks. Should be done this weekend - or sooner if I get really sick of it. I do still have socks to knit.

It's the treadmill for me tonight - and 8 grueling miles. I hate the treadmill so much that I refuse to take a picture. Then again, maybe I'll take one next week - just to show you all what a torture device really looks like.

Bizz Johnson Week 11

Ok, this week will be a challenge. Next one, too. I'm overseas and it's me and the treadmill until further notice. Gods.

Monday - Cross Training actual: 0

Flight to Hong Kong. 12h of knitting on the Tuscany shawl. I'm finished with it per the pattern, but will likely keep knitting until I get to at least 15 repeats. Dude - that's a lot of stitches!

Tuesday - Run 5 miles actual: 5

Back to the treadmill. It's still hot and HUMID over here - pouring down rain. Gotta get over my vanity and realize that the jog bra is the thing. I'm running at night tomorrow for sure.

Wednesday - Run 8 miles actual: 8

! Wow. That was probably the worst 8 miles I've run in a long time. There's a "helpful" feature on the treadmill that prevents you from running longer than 60 minutes. Because of that, I decided to split my run and hopefully motivate myself in the process. I did 5 miles (8km) and then another 3 miles (5k) with a short walk/water break in between. More on this in today's post - but suffice to say, I did it.

Thursday - Run 5 miles actual:

Friday - Rest actual:

Saturday - Run 8 miles actual:

Sunday - Run 18 miles actual:

Total Scheduled Mileage: 44
Actual Mileage:

Here we go again ...

Remember my post from a few weeks ago that talked about China? Well, it's time for a "take two". I'm getting on a plane again on Sunday - this time for nearly 2 weeks. Yes, I'll have to stay over a weekend, but I've been "authorized" to head back to Hong Kong so that I can at least do something interesting (read: get OUT of the hotel!).

Now my dilemma is what knitting to bring. I nearly finished a pair of socks while flying over last time - this time I may take one of the skeins of sea silk I recently purchased and work on turning it in to a scarf of some kind. Also, The Bag would come in handy, but the night markets in Hong Kong are likely cheaper (and more fun).

I plan to try and drop in on a few yarn stores while I'm there - it's an excuse to get out and explore and see what's what. Oh, the joy of currency exchange.

Anyway, I'll have the camera and the connector cable along for the ride. Here's hoping that I manage to post in the interim!

Bizz Johnson Week 10

Time to get back in the swing of things. Holy mackerel, this'll be a big week! I also think I missed a week somewhere (was my last post really week 8?) but we're definitely on week 10. Dude.

Monday - Cross Training actual: 0

Cast on a Baby Surprise Jacket today ... in Patons Grace Cotton. We'll see how it goes. Oh, and I found my otherwise missing skein of Nature's Palette Ice Blue. Now I can finish those Embossed Leaves socks!

Tuesday - Run 4 miles actual: 4.5

My favorite loop through San Carlos - and boy, it's good to be back running again. Just need to remember to PICK UP MY FEET, DAMMIT! ... I do get lazy sometimes ...

Wednesday - Run 8 miles actual: 7.5

Windy Hill. One of the most APTLY named parks in the greater Bay Area. This particular loop involves quite a bit of elevation gain given that it starts at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains and runs to the ridge line. It's probably in the neighborhood of 1000' of climing over the course of 2-2.5 miles. Thank goodness for switchbacks! Anyway, it was sunny and nice at the bottom but the fog was streaming over the ridgeline by the time I reached the top. Ankle is still sore (it might be doctor time ... it's been almost 2 months) and I was *whooped* when it was done. Payback for a summer of avoiding hill climbing. Regardless, I'm SPOT ON for this week and intend to keep it that way.

Thursday - Run 4 miles actual: 4

Friday - Rest actual:

Saturday - Run 8 miles actual: 8

Refereed 3 games which netted out to a good 4+ hours of activity. I put in at least 8 miles since the standard game nets out to about 6 when in the middle and 1-2 when running lines. Fun, tho!

Sunday - Run 17 miles actual:

Ran squat. Got up early and packed to head to the airport. :-(
Total Scheduled Mileage: 41
Actual Mileage: 24 ugh.