Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: January 2010

Lunch Boxes

(Today’s post has nothing to do with fibers. So, skip as you wish.)

I smiled when I saw these LunchBots at the health food store today.

Why? They reminded me of the metal bento boxes we had while growing up in Taiwan.

Each evening, leftovers are packed in tight into these metal boxes and tied with string.  There’s usually some sort of tag (think dog tags) tied on with the string. Then they are placed in the refrigerator.

In the morning, we would carry our boxes to school. Once at school, we would toss them in a pile outside of the class room. Yup. Just tossed it in a pile.

After school has started, the janitor would come by and pick up all the bento boxes and they would disappear until lunch time.  At lunch, they would magically reappear, steaming hot.  I’m not sure where he took them, or what kind of device he used, but I imagine that it was some sort of large steamer. All the metal boxes would be tossed in, steamed, and brought back in time for lunch.

As lunch time progresses, our ears are tuned for the sound of the janitor coming by and the clatter of metal boxes. The sound of lunch — better than the bell! And the aroma of steamed food.  It’s an odd, indescribable smell of all sorts of leftovers being heated up together.  Not exactly harmonious, but not unpleasant either. But, perhaps it’s just olfactory memories tied with hunger and the promise of food.

At lunch, there’s the big scramble to find your own lunch box (this is where the dog tags come in), and you would have a nice hot lunch.*

LunchBots would like you to think that they are into something new, but to me, this is old technology at its best. And lots of pleasant memories to go with. I may have to buy one just for that!

* And this is why, to this date, I can’t face a cold sandwich or salad for lunch. To me, lunch is supposed to be hot, darn it!

New Vest

As I said in my last post, the CMF Superwash 3 ply in “The Beat Goes On” colorway wasn’t pleasant to knit as sock yarn.  I did wear it for a couple of walks (purl side out), and it wasn’t too bad to wear, but my fingers were still cramped from knitting it on little tiny needles.

So what else can you do with 8 oz of 3 ply sock yarn? Make a vest, of course.

Except, of course, a scant 8 oz (less whatever I used in the anklets) isn’t enough for a full vest.* So I dug into my stash to see what other handspun, superwash, sock weight yarn might be around. Lo and behold! Another skein of CMF superwash in “I Feel Good” colorway, spun in an effort to get into speaking terms with the Lendrum (post here).  The grist is vastly different than from the main yarn, but the pink worked well with the purples in the main yarn.

The vest pattern was based on Barbara Walkers “Knitting from the Top.”  This is the second time I attempted to follow her directions for a top down sweater. The first one was frogged. I’m still not 100% happy with this one.  The problem isn’t with her instructions, but my measurements.  I can’t seem to get my measurements down right. Then there’s the fact that my swatches lie.

The first time, I measured my shoulders from the outside edge to edge instead of at the shoulder bone. So the top was about 3″ too wide. And when you add the fact that my actual knitting was looser than the swatch, I had a sweater that was about 5″ too wide at the shoulders.  Hmm.

This one was better, but still not what I wanted.  Let’s start with the swatch. My swatch said 6.5 sts/in on 3.5 mm needles.  Actual knitting ended up being 6 sts/in.  This vest was designed to have negative ease because I wanted it to be a snug middle layer for winter walking. Instead of negative ease, I have no ease, neither negative nor positive.  It fits, but still not quite what I was looking for.

I would like the shoulders to be a bit narrower. This will reduce bulk when worn under fleece jackets and/or rain coats.

Also, because of the difference between the actual gauge vs. swatch, the neck is too wide. I fixed it by knitting a generous ribbing at the neck to pull it in.

I tried some shaping at the sides, but I think I will forgo that in the next go around. Instead, I will use the staggered 4×1 rib instead to pull it in as needed.

All in all, I’m happy with it, but I’ll likely make another one in an attempt to make it “right.”

* So just how much yarn is needed to make a vest for me? This one weighs out at a generous 8 oz. But I would like it another couple of inches longer (to keep the lower back warm). That plus spinning waste, I would plan at least 10-12 oz for a vest.

** There are a couple of places where the yarn was chain plied in my attempt to squeeze every last yard out of what I spun; once in the pinks and once in the green/purple. They really stand out from the surrounding yarn. Having seen how they pop out, it is unlikely that I will do this again. It may not matter much in socks, but in a larger project, it’s an eye sore.

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