On Pattern Writing

My body clock is something I can really count on.  Even on the weekends I’m awake between 6 and 6:30 because that’s the time I get up during the week.  Sleeping in is a thing of the past.  This also makes jet lag something very painful for me.  Today is no exception.  It’s 7:45 in the morning and I’ve already had coffee and read a magazine and have written this blog post in my head in bed.

I was laying in bed musing about my latest knitting project.  I can’t show it to you.  I’m designing my own socks and am planning to submit the pattern and photos to knitty.com and hopefully I’ll be published!  The rules are, you can’t have published anything about your project before it is published on knitty, and this includes your own website, which makes sense.  That would spoil the exclusiveness of the first publication.  So you’ll just have to imagine that I’m designing a pair of socks, and while you are imagining this, please imagine that they are fantastic.

Anyway, yesterday while jogging I was listening to the caston podcast and Brenda said that she just isn’t able to design on the needles.  After thinking about this, I realized that I am able to do this.  My iPhone case was designed on the needles.  And my mystery sock project was also designed on the needles.

After doing a couple of swatches to get the gauge and needle size right, I just cast on what I thought would be the right number of stitches and knit the first sock without a plan, and without writing anything down as I went along.  The sock came out perfect and I don’t need to change a thing.  But that not writing anything down as I went along was kind of stupid.  Now that I’m working on the second sock and HAVE to write everything down in order to write up the pattern for submission, I have to look at the first sock and remember what I did and try to deconstruct it in my head.  So far I have been successful in figuring out what I did, but it makes writing the pattern slower than it needs to be.

This is the first pattern submission I’ve ever done.  Writing patterns I’m discovering is rather tedious.  But at the same time, I think I’m good at it.  I’m probably good at it because I like to READ knitting patterns.  Now, in my morning musings, I’m finding that rather curious.  Why would someone like to read knitting patterns just for the sake of reading them?

When I get a new knitting magazine I like to read the patterns, even if I have no intention of knitting the item.  I’ve had to consciously back away from the computer and Ravelry because I started spending too much time reading patterns and not getting any knitting done.  I have a growing library of knitting books that I like to browse and see how the patterns are written and how things are constructed.

I think that this boils down to the fact that I am a technician at heart.  I learned how to sew my own clothes at a young age and have always been interested in how clothing is constructed.  If I had the time and money I’d take apart the front wheel of my bike to see how the dynamo for the light and the breaks are built into the hub of the wheel (ingenious!).  One of my favorite books that Mom had in the house when I was a teenager was something like “How Things Work”.  I want to deconstruct things and see how they work.  Now that I’m writing down this sock pattern I’m constructing instead of deconstructing and I’m finding it an interesting process.

If my pattern is not accepted by knitty.com I’ll post it here and you can tell me if my pattern writing skills are any good or not.  I’m going for the holiday edition (published in December), so it will still be a while until you see it either here or on knitty.  Stay tuned!

9km and Counting

This morning, after checking to see if my new baby (read: iPhone) would fit into the running belt pouch (yes!) I headed off to Sloterplas for my weekend long run. I haven’t run at all the last week (due to working too many hours) so I really didn’t know what to expect. How would I feel after a week off? Better or worse? I guess better is the answer.

My goal was to run 60 minutes since last week was 50 minutes. I decided after running half way that my new goal would be 9km, which turned out to be 61 minutes. I also at first thought that I would run one time around Sloterplas (6km) then run 1.5km around on a second loop and turn around and run 1.5km back so as to end up neatly at the starting point. But I hate doubling back on myself so I just continued on around the lake. 9km is 1.5 times around the lake so I walked the last 3km back to the starting point.

One nice thing about making 2 laps is that I get the chance to take photos from that far side of the lake, which I hadn’t done before. Looking at these photos you’d think we were in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire. Little do you know that behind me are concrete apartment buildings and just beyond the trees is the A10 motorway.

Yes, these photos were taken with my iPhone, while at the same time I was listening to a podcast. The camera is only 2m pixels, which is quite a disappointment, but as long as the photos look like this, and I only use them for online viewing, it should be fine.

By the way, I jogged this morning listening to the Cast On podcast, which my friend Andy recommended. I had tried listening to the KnitPicks podcast but I honestly couldn’t stand that woman. After 2 tries I just wanted to strangle her. But Brenda Dayne is so enjoyable to listen to. I’ve started at the beginning (October 2006) and am working my way to the present time. You can find her also on iTunes. Andy has a lot of other good podcast suggestions and now that I have phone and ipod in one, it should be even easier to find the time to check them out.

I finished one podcast about 40 minutes into my run and for the next 20 minutes I ran without earbuds and just listened to the birds singing and the small sounds of people in the park on a Sunday morning. It was lovely. I have to do that more often.

iPhone – the first 24 hours

I’ve had my new iPhone 3G just about 24 hours now so I guess it’s time to report in. Shall I start from the beginning?

Yesterday morning at 7:00 I stepped onto my bike and headed over to the Kinkerstraat T-Mobile shop. I had no idea how many people would be there already. Luckily, only 12 other crazy people like me. I was number 13. One very smart guy (who had obviously gone through something like this before) showed up with a heavy black marker and put numbers on people’s hands once they showed up. This turned out later to be a stroke of genius.

The shop didn’t open until 9:30 so we had time to kill. It was gezellig. People joked and chatted. Typically, I was the only female (1) and (2) I was certainly the oldest one there. Ha! I should win a prize. Well, I got an iPhone, one of the only 7,000 in the entire country at this point, so I do feel like I’ve won something. Here’s a photo from early in the morning:

At 9:30 the doors opened and I have to say, the staff at the shop did an excellent job of making sure people were served in the order they showed up. By 9:30 there must have been 35 people standing around. We had been told at 8:30 that they only had 19 phones to sell! By 10:30 only ONE person had walked out with phone in hand. Why? T-Mobile’s registration system totally crashed! We stood around and stood around but it wasn’t getting any better. Finally they came around and photocopied our ID’s, wrote down what we wanted to buy (8GB, 16GB, or white). A few minutes later we were told whether or not we were in luck and would get our first choice product (I did) and that we’d be called later in the day when we could come pick up our phones. This was both exciting and quite a let down. At least I knew that later in the day I’d have my hands on a white 16GB phone, but not quite yet.

I went home for a little while, then hopped back on the bike and headed to work. The T-Mobile shop is on my route to work and as I biked past I saw 3 guys from the morning standing outside. “What! You guys are still here?” They had left, then came back to see if the computer system was working yet. Nope! Still down! I went on to work, and later that afternoon got an sms that my phone and contract were ready to be picked up. I stopped there on my way home from work at 5:30pm and was out again 5 minutes later, new baby in the bag.

To tell you truth, I was so exhausted last night that I played around with my phone in kind of a stupor. You have to first put in your SIM card, then sync your phone with iTunes. Here again, systems were completely overtaxed and it took about 10 tries and over an hour before I could connect and get activated. After that, it’s been fun all the way.

This weekend is just typical of how I feel after having worked just far too many hours and am BEAT. My body just wants to go to sleep. But my head says “Hey! We’re not at work! We can do all those fun things you have been wanting to do, like knitting, and surfing, and now playing with your new phone….”. Head and body have a fight and I just don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I was awake at 5:30 this morning and felt jetlagged. I got up and ate something and then at 8:00 went back to bed for 2 hours. I’m a mess.

But between the sleeping and being spaced out, I managed to first sync my iPhone with Outlook on my work PC and also do a blog post early this morning (during the HUGE thunder and lightening storm). I also went out this afternoon down the block to a fabric store and luckily they had a button I could use on my new iPhone case. It’s a blue apple. How appropriate.

I have to say…. the iPhone case is the PERFECT size. The iPhone fits just perfect in it. I’m incredibly happy with it. Here are some photos:

Here are a couple of shots of the phone itself. The screen is beautiful. This photo is taken in full sun at an angle, so take no notice of the dullness of it. The clarity is amazing. And also here’s a shot of this website, shown landscape. It’s just so cool to see your own website like this. 🙂

Yes, I got a white one. Way cooler than the boring black. 🙂

Now, I need to load up some music, movies, applications…….. oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I also bought a docking station. I opened up the box and found THIS. I couldn’t stop laughing because to me it looked like a display of Barbie bathtubs. (They are really the different sized trays to put in the dock for the different sized iPods and iPhone.)

Just to prove to you that I have not locked myself completely away from the real world while playing with new toys, here’s a photo of Bas this afternoon (which will become my new phone wallpaper) and also a photo of the cherry tomatoes that are getting ripe, even in this cool cloudy weather.


Back in April I wrote a blog post about a certain button shop in Amsterdam and the not very pleasant visit I had there. I was polite at that time and didn’t name names. This time I’m not so polite. I’ve really had it with that woman and her so-called “shop“. It’s not a shop at all. It’s her very high cost space where she hangs out and entertains friends. Selling things is just something she does when she feels it’s ok to lower her standards and talk to other people.

Yesterday I finished knitting my iPhone pouch (photos coming this weekend) and needed 1 lousy button for the little flap on top. I know, I know, I already swore I’d never go back to this “shop” again, but they do have a very large selection and I thought, well, ok, one more chance to find the perfect button.

It’s Thursday night which means late night shopping in the center of Amsterdam. I left work at 5:45 and arrived in front of this “shop” at 6:05pm. The doors were wide open and the sign said “Open” so I locked up my bike and walked in. Ms Button Woman said “Mevrouw, wij zijn dicht.” (Lady, we’re closed.) I said (in Dutch) “But your doors are open!” She said “That’s just to get some fresh air in here.” I said “Is it not possible to buy just one small button?” And she just looked at me. Just looked. No smile. No comment. Just.  Looked.  So I said “Dus niet” and walked out. I repeat, this is not a shop. It’s a social club or button museum, but never get the idea that it’s a shop.

15 seconds after I walked out, while I was busy unlocking my bike to leave, two other women walked in and were quickly escorted out of the building while Ms Button Woman quickly closed her doors and turned the sign to “Closed”. Yeah, you betcha, “closed” is right. Even when it’s open.

I told DB that the next time I even mention the possibility of going to this “shop” that he has my permission to HIT ME.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s high time we find together a real shop that sells a nice variety of buttons in Amsterdam.  Haarlem.  Even Utrecht.  Even farther if needed.  Anywhere except the Knopenwinkel in Amsterdam.

iPhone pouch – WIP

This coming Friday, 11 July, we in the Netherlands will finally be able to buy an “official” iPhone.  It also happens to be the new 3G iPhone.  I’m so excited.  I will be standing in line at my local T-Mobile store early Friday morning.

In preparation for my new baby, I’m knitting it a pouch to live in.  I’m still undecided whether to get a black one or a white one, so I’m knitting a black and white pouch.  I’m using leftover yarn from DB’s Nitzer Ebb sweater.  The sweater was knit on size 4 needles but I’m knitting my pouch on size 2 needles.  It’s making a dense thick squishy fabric which should be perfect for protecting the phone.

I have never made toe-up socks so have never tried a magic 8 cast on or Turkish cast on or any other type of cast on that you can knit from either side.  After looking around a bit on Ravelry I decided to try the Turkish cast on as described here on FluffyknitterDeb’s blog.  You must try this!  It’s the easiest thing in the world and looks just flawless.  Her instructions are perfect and make it even easier.

I started out with just the cat heads but then DB said it would be boring to do cats on both sides, so I’m doing a dog on the other side.  I don’t like the dog as much, but oh well, if I don’t like it I can always knit another one later.  Both cat and dog designs came from “The Complete Book of Traditional Scandinavian Knitting” by Sheila McGregor (nice Scandinavian name, huh?).   The book appears to be out of print, or at least not available at Amazon.com.

Here are photos of the work in progress.  I’ll post the finished item when it is done – hopefully by Friday so I can bring the new baby home in it. 🙂  Am I enjoying knitting this?  Not really!  The small needles and thick yarn make it hard on your hands to work with.  But it’s small and goes fast and I like the result, so it’s ok.  I won’t be going into business making them though.

Still Running

It’s Saturday, lovely blue skies, a cool breeze is blowing, perfect weather for a run in the park.

Normally I run on Sunday’s but tomorrow I have to work so today’s the day instead.  Yes, I have to work on Sunday, which totally is not normal, but it’s project go-live day!  Tomorrow we turn the switch and enter some orders, enter some PO’s, ship some product and see what happens.  If all goes well, which I expect it to, Monday morning we are officially up and running on SAP.  Sigh.

ANYWAY, back to the running.  I biked over to Sloterplas.  On the way I took this photo:

These geese are always here.  It’s their home, along this canal, and you’d best not get in their way!

Today I ran more than the total distance around the lake.  I ran 51 minutes without stopping, which was approximately 7.6km.  It was a slow easy run that was meant just to make it the 50 minutes.  Distance wasn’t important.  But man it’s good to be making progress!  Now that my working hours should be starting to decrease (I hope!) I should be able to run 3 times a week instead of only 2.  During the week I’ve been running intervals, which should help me increase speed and muscle.

I guess I’m one of those weird people who like intervals.  I run 1.5 minutes so fast that at the end of that time I just want to die and can’t breath any more.  Then I walk for 1.5 minutes.  Repeat 6-8 times.  I just like the feeling that for one short minute I can run like a real athlete.  I can really MOVE with SPEED!  I can RUN!  And then a minute later I want to die.  Ah well.  The feeling is good while it lasts!

Today I ran just about 1/2 the distance that I have to cover on 21 September.   It’s only July.  That gives me 9 weeks to increase 8km.  One kilometer more per week?  Ha!  I can do that.