Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BL Starts Tonight! and Restarted My Socks

Season 8 of The Biggest Loser begins tonight at 8:00! I'm excited because the previews look really good. There are always changes and sometimes new themes from season to season. This season focuses on second chances. Sounds like nothing new considering that's what the show is all about, but this season looks really positive. A former contestant returns and there's a contestant there who lost her husband and two kids in a car accident. It looks like the entire group meets together to introduce themselves, and they train with both Bob and Jillian rather than against each other in two separate teams. Can't wait to see it all start tonight!

On the knitting front, I've frogged and restarted Jared's lattice stitch socks since last posting. The unevenness of the stitch pattern from switching back and forth between knitting styles, and forgetting and not being able to see where I was (hello: black yarn) which resulted in errors caused me to start over. In starting over, I discovered that I'd gotten better at casting on 2aat cuff down. Knitting in one style, Continental Combined, has worked well with the purl stitches of the lattice stitch pattern. Something else I changed was to alternate Longtail CO with German Twisted CO (for the purls in my 1x1 rib). The CO edge looks entirely like longtail but will have some extra stretch from the hidden German Twisted CO stitches.

I have to mention the specifics on how I CO 2aat magic loop if it helps anyone else having trouble. I do the method where you CO all of Sock 2 followed by half of Sock 1, then the second half of Sock 1. Instead of pulling out the loop right away after CO all of Sock 2, I wait until I actually get to that sock on the 1st round so that I don't have to stress out over stitches twisting. After transferring Sock 1's stitches to the other side and facing the front side of those transferred stitches and holding the tail and working yarn, I turn the work around so that my left hand is ready to CO the second half of Sock 1 onto the same needle that holds Sock 2's CO stitches. The reason I CO Sock 2 first is so that when I turn my work around to begin the first round, my two working yarn strands coming from my single Ziploc bag aren't twisted in the home/starting position. Waiting to pull the loop out and knowing how to twist the tail and working yarn to CO the second half of Sock 1 made a BIG difference for me (less stress!). The same two principles could be applied to the other method where you CO half of Sock 1 first, CO all of Sock 2, and then finish CO the second half of Sock 1. I'm now seeing the appeal of why knitters might want to CO all stitches for both socks at once and pull out the loop for both so that your home position is in middle between the two socks. :-) You could hold off on pulling out the loop on Sock 2 with this method until you get to that sock on the first round.

Speaking of CO magic loop 2aat, I also read something I want to try for toe-up socks. Toe-up 2aat CO is super easy, but the increases at the beginning of side 2 for magic loopers can look crappy because of the cable separation. Some Ravelers suggested working each toe separately until the toe increases are done, then put both socks on the same needle. Sounds good to me! I'm going to do that on my next pair of toe-ups.

I also wanted to blog about a recent park visit but will wait until next time since this post is already long enough!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

100% Bamboo?

Recently I read a thread on Ravelry that was very interesting, especially since I just bought a bamboo blend yarn. The Ravelry thread references a recent FTC Consumer Alert on the fiber content labeling practices of companies who sell clothing, linens, or other textile products. Here's the FTC Business Alert concerning bamboo labeling. These alerts were preceded by the FTC charging four companies with deceptive product labeling and advertising concerning bamboo. As of August 2009, all fabric labels now have to say something like "rayon from bamboo" or "bamboo rayon" rather than just "bamboo" since the majority of bamboo fabric is actually rayon. Also, proof (via testing) must be shown for products labeled as "bamboo" or those claiming to be derived from bamboo.

So what's all the hubbub about? Truth in labeling and possibly misleading "green" claims. Up until the FTC blew the whistle on the four companies, many products labeled as bamboo were in fact rayon derived from bamboo. Is rayon derived from bamboo still considered bamboo? No. Let me quote the FTC: Even when bamboo is the “plant source” used to create rayon, no traits of the original plant are left in the finished product. So, not only could companies sell rayon labeled misleadingly as bamboo. They could also get away with labeling products as bamboo rayon even if they were produced from cellulose resources other than bamboo. Their thinking? If there are no traces of bamboo left in the end product, why not use a cheaper cellulose source? With all the attractive qualities naturally inherent in bamboo, people might want to know if they're in fact buying bamboo or be certain that their bamboo rayon is actually derived from bamboo.

I'm no expert in the least. But from the little I've gleaned, bamboo can be processed mechanically or chemically. One process method that qualifies a fabric to be labeled as bamboo is mechanically crushing the woody parts and
retting it with natural enzymes. Since this is the same process that's used for linen, sometimes the resulting fabric is called bamboo linen (or bamboo litrax). Chemical manufacturing processes and technologies other than the viscose process (to make rayon) are appearing which are more eco-friendly (e.g., the lyocell process, the process used to make TENCEL, can be used on bamboo cellulose) and are trying to retain bamboo's natural properties. See here and here for more information on how bamboo fabric is processed.

Truth in labeling and advertising. Are you getting what you think you're paying for? BTW, my bamboo blend yarn is labeled "rayon from bamboo." However, the website lists it simply as bamboo. The yarn is Spa by
naturallycaron.com. Well, at least the yarn label is accurate. I found all this bamboo brouhaha interesting since it relates to yarn. I love my Regia Bamboo Jaywalker socks! I've also used SWTC Bamboo which is listed as 100% bamboo, and I have to say that I believe the label because it has a slightly scratchy, linen-like feel to it compared to some other bamboo yarns to which I've been exposed.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Verde: A Final Pic and Lattice Stitch Socks CO

Though it's been finished for weeks now, I finally braided the drawstring cord for my Verde string bag. I think it looks complete now so I thought I'd include a pic here, especially since it contains some new yarn in it (can you see it?)! On Labor Day, I used a gift card at JoAnns to buy some Country and Spa yarn (both by Caron) and some Serenity Sport Weight yarn ( a Deborah Norville line by Premier Yarns). The gears are turning inside my head as I plan exactly how I want to make Marie and Ian hoodies and Ian a pair of soft pajama pants. I browsed patterns on Ravelry last night to help steer me toward which features I want to include in my knits. At the moment, I definitely know that their hoodies will be pullovers, not cardigans. Everytime I make them a cardigan, it almost looks too fancy to wear at the playground. So this time I want a sweatshirt-style hoodie. Oh, and I do want to have either a handwarmer unipocket or two separate pockets on the front for their hands. Stitch patterns, cuff, hem, and neckline details are still on the drawing board for now... Eventually, I'd love to learn how to line my knits, especially hoodies and bags. Wouldn't that be nice to have a fully lined hoodie for chilly fall days or, at the very least, lined pockets for your hoodie?

Originally, I did a very nice tubular CO for Jared's Lattice Stitch Socks. Since you can really see the green and blue jewel tones, I decided to keep this picture. The second socks picture is the newly re-done German Twisted CO. Since that picture, I've finished 1.5" of ribbing and started the lattice stitch leg pattern. My borrowed audiobook of Pride and Prejudice is due tomorrow at the library, so I've been listening to the last of the CDs at night while knitting these socks :-) I'm so glad that I originally read P & P nearly last of all the Austen books because it's so superior to the others. That's saying a lot, too, because the other books are excellent. Each Austen book has a certain draw to it from the storyline. P & P has the best combined qualities of all the other books. ...In my opinion, of course.

While out shopping for yarn, I also went clothes and shoe shopping. Target had a bunch of stuff on clearance, so I grabbed some things for Marie and Ian. At Kohl's I found some Avia trail running shoes that are very comfortable and sturdy and some casual short sleeve tops that were on sale. My old running shoes were cold in the winter here because they only had thin see-through mesh on the toe area. These new shoes are all-season, so yay! Now that I'm equipped with the right shoes, maybe I'll finally make it through the winter here, running, for the first in a long, long time (college maybe, definitely high school). Winters were so mild in Raleigh that I've been a wimp each winter since moving back to Ohio.

Marie starts preschool tomorrow! It's hard to believe that from now on, she'll be in school most of the year. It's only 2.5 hours 3 days a week, but still... wow!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lullaby Socks FO

Pattern: MSKS Vertical Lace w/Twisted Ribbing
Yarn: Stroll Hand Painted in Lullaby colorway
Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) KP Options fixed circs
Notes: Frilled CO 120 sts. Decreased down to 60 sts in ribbing pattern on 1st rnd. Garter-edged slip stitch heel. Standard toe (I think? The directions seemed slightly different to me.).

I love these socks! I actually stalled my knitting of them at times to delay their being finished. The yarn's colorway is beautiful, and the socks are very cozy :-) Next up are socks for Jared. He picked out the stitch pattern and the colorway of KP Stroll (midnight heather: black with jewel tones of green and blue).

After exactly one week off from mildly spraining my left ankle, I went running tonight. Marie wanted to go, too, so we took the jogging stroller. A good run! This afternoon we went to a cookout over in Hilliard where we had really yummy food. North Carolina was brought to mind with the pulled pork and corn casserole. Friday morning we went to the zoo with Karen, Brandy, and kids. The red panda (visible for once) and tiger (being fed!) were especially fun to see.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Green River Ordinance: Live @ The Basement

Oh my, what a fun night out! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. It's been quite a while since I've gone out with friends and felt giddy and carefree. Last night was perfect because it was just me and my good friend Ronnelle going to see Green River Ordinance, my new favorite band.

We got to The Basement early enough to chill and have drinks, catching up on anything and everything while sitting on one of the many couches aligning the right wall. For the first time in a long time (years) I ordered a couple of drinks at the bar without having to worry about anything else at that moment. After a second drink (I actually got a beer for my second drink, if you can believe that), Ronnelle and I grabbed a spot along the upper railing at stage right. The Basement is a very intimate venue, so you can stand pretty close to the band. GRO started about 8:00 and played for about an hour, ending with their current hit single Come On. When they played my favorite tune Endlessly (click here for that performance) halfway through their set, I sang along softly and took it all in that I was listening to them live 15 feet in front of me and not on YouTube. So cool!

After GRO finished playing, we lined up for autographs and to purchase their CD. I got both the lead singer (Josh Jenkins) and one of the guitarist's (Jamey Ice) autographs on a poster. (Thank goodness for Sharpie markers because Ian later spilled water on my poster. >:-s) I also got a free promotional CD on which is an acoustic version of a song I really like called Piece It Together. Later after the line died down, Ronnelle and I went up to the lead singer so that Ronnelle could snap a picture of us with her phone. Neither of our phones have a flash, so what you see in the above pic is what you get. Editing could only do so much. Looking at that picture now, it makes me laugh because it looks like I'm leaning away from Josh. Ha, silly girl! It's just a picture.

Yesterday afternoon before the concert, I had emailed 107.9 (radio) to say that I liked Green River Ordinance and to please keep playing their music. Well, after getting home last night, I noticed that I'd received a response from the station operations manager who said that if I got his email in time and called, I could come to the station to watch GRO's interview and performance which, btw, played today around 1:00 PM. I would say "Darn, I missed it," but... Here's the podcast and photos!

Every day I have fun doing all sorts of things on a small scale. But I realized after last night that I need to get out more often. Not a lot, but just enough to allow myself to be giddy and carefree on occasion and remember what it's like to be me, Jackie, regardless of age, kids, or whatever. Here's a pic, which you'll probably recognize as my new avatar. Don't I look happy about my impending girls night out?!
Quick Knitting News:
I got my Knit Picks order of sock yarn in the mail today :-) Midnight Heather and Tidepool Heather Stroll. Yay!