Tuesday, 31 March 2009

/is grumpy

Apparently I can't knit today. Started seaming sizzle, and messed that up royally. No problems, I tell myself, we'll put it away and start Ishbel. Cast on with 3.75mm and realise it's way to tight. Cast on with 4.0mm, which this weekend was way too lose, and now it's ok. Some rows into it, mess up the yarn overs in an irrecoverable way. Rip it all off again.

Thankfully I've also been making garlic bread, which smells and looks delicious. It's now in the oven, and it'd better taste as well as my knitting has sucked today. Mmmm garlic...

ETA: Garlic bread was lovely. When I tried to cast on for Tuscany, I screwed up even before I cast on, tangling the ball horribly. /hangs head in shame
Maybe tomorrow will be a better knitting day.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Be squared!

Bottoms up continues at good pace. I might have it finished before Easter.

Bottoms Up in progress

I picked up Sizzle after a long hibernation. It only had 2 cm left of knitting, which is already done, and the top is now blocking.

I got Whimsical Little Knits on the mail, and love it. I can't wait to start Ishbel. In fact, I did start Ishbel, and then discovered that my needles (4mm) made the fabric too lose, so I have to wait until I got to my LYS to start it again.
Ishbel preparation

Thursday, 26 March 2009

F is for Foot, Fractured

So, a while ago I broke my foot. It was a clean, not displaced break (5th metatarsus) and, although it was still a bummer, because I had a broken bone. Estimated healing time: 4-6 weeks.

4 months later, foot is still partially fractured. I can walk on it: barefoot at home (carefully), with my boot and one crutch outside. The bone has healed half-way through, but not completely, so it still won't take full weight without some pain.
This is my usual work do:

F is for foot, fractured

This, however, is my usual home do:
F is for foot, fractured

You can see the bone I fractured on black, the green being the fracture line.

I do have a hospital appointment via the NHS in another month, and I'm trying to get a second opinion privately via work's insurance. Hopefully I will have answers soon. Because, frankly, this is getting quite old. Though at least it saved me having to think of an F

- ABC along in ravelry
- My ABCs

Monday, 23 March 2009

Organic Cotton Sock yarn

It's very difficult to find sock yarn when you can't tolerate animal hair. I keep queueing socks, and then not being able to make them because of this. There are some sheepless sock yarns, but normally you have to import them.

Sock yarn

Lo and behold, sheepless sock yarn from the UK! My etsy persusals have final yielded fruit, and I now own a skein of YarnAddict's Organic cotton sock yarn (55% organic cotton/45% Tencel) in the Fresh Water colourway. I am being very restrained and not casting on inmediately, but that is mainly because I have only one skein and many sock pattern ideas.

I'll let you know how it knits up (it's very recent, I had to enter the yarn into the Ravelry database), but I'm very very excited about this!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Not everthing is high-brow control theory

Some beautiful handspun silk from the wonderful SpindleImp.
Some socks from Alex.
Two, in fact.
Some ridges and ribs for me.

Bushfire red silk

Viva Blackpool



Thursday, 12 March 2009

Depression and Control Theory, part 1

For a while now I have been thinking about explaining depressive behaviour using control theory. I only have a rough idea for now, and it will never be a very good model, but I think it can help me explain what I go through. Given that most of my friends are scientists or engineers, it will give them better understanding than me just saying "but I can't".

However, because not all of my readers are, and to help myself along, I'm going to start by talking about control theory. This is mainly so the idea is out, rather than just bouncing in my head, and that will mean I have an extra motivation to keep thinking about it.

Everybody ready? No need for those calculators, don't worry. If you know about the basics of control theory, you can skip this, or you can keep reading and point out my glaring mistakes :)

Control theory is all about achieving a desired output. So you have a control "box" that takes an input, processes it, and spews an output. That is, however, very unexciting. The cool bit is feedback, so that, for your next input, the previous output is also an input. The output of your system plays a role. Let's say you are driving: you step on the accelerator to go faster. However, the faster you go, the harder you have to push to go any faster, because the state your output is in (your speed) also affects the input (the force on the accelerator).

Everybody still with me?

This feedback is very important, and can be of two types: positive feedback or negative feedback. Don't get lured by what positive and negative feedback mean in normal life. In this context, if applies to whether they are added or subtracted.

A positive feedback loop amplifies the effect of your input, while a negative feedback loop dampens the effect of your input to a stable state.
For example, imagine a Trivial Pursuit drinking game. If you are playing with a positive feedback mechanism, you drink every time you get a question wrong. The more you drink, the more likely you are go get a question wrong, which leads you to drink more, etc. The effects of the input stack, and you end up in hospital.
However, if you are playing with negative feedback, you drink every time you get a question right. So you'll be drinking more at the beginning, but as you drink, you get more questions wrong, which doesn't make you drink more, and thus kind of slows down your drinking rate as you get drunker. This doesn't lead to alcohol poisoning, which is a Good Thing.

Negative feedback mechanisms are what are used in control theory, because you can get your system into a stable state. A positive feedback look will get the system out of control, and we don't want that.

People that knew about Control Theory can join us again now.

My idea is that the brain functions in a negative feedback loop. You get sad for whatever reason, but after a while your brain processes that, and you go back to your normal state. However, a depressed brain has changed to be in a positive feedback loop. You get a bit sad for whatever reason and your brain amplifies that, and can't bring you back to your normal state.

Duh, I can hear you say, we *knew* that! But I don't want to just know that, I want to detail it more. I want to model it. I want to add switches to filter the happy thoughts when depressed, and how different contributions modify the control mechanism. I want to model normal brains and see how the structure of the control loop differs from that of a depressed brain.

Of course, this has no actual use beyond explaining how my brain works, and it might not even be transferable to other brains, but I like it. If I can cajole my depression into an engineering model, it will make me feel closer to understand it. If I can obsess about the modelling instead of the depression, it will distract me with it. It appeals to my engineering mind to deal with it in this way, as I can't seem to make any sense of the emotions I feel, or why.

Feel free to tell me that I'm completely insane (now it's Zoidberg's turn to say duh!). I probably won't work on this very often, or very seriously, but it is a nice little project to have, and it might help to explain depressive behaviour to other people. Suggestions, comments, yarn welcomed!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

E is for electricity


I was boiling the (electric) kettle to make a pot of tea, when Alex, who was playing on his computer, asked me to turn on the lights for him, because it was getting dark. And then I realised (for the nth time) how nice it is to have electricity.
Electricity make me warm and lets me have hot water. It makes working in this computer possible, gives me light. I like candles, but I would be even more blind if I had to knit or read to the light of a candle. Electricity cooks my foot.

It is something that we take for granted. But sometimes I remember how much is possible thanks to electricity, and I marvel at the little travelling electrons, and thank the for the comfort they give me.

I must admit that I was struggling to find something for E, but then electricity struck me (pun intended) so much that I actually mentioned to Alex that it was great to have it, and I thought it deserved some thanks.

Electricity on wikipedia.

Friday, 6 March 2009

It's not all dark

I've been having a bit of a rough time lately, as a result of the foot bone that doesn't finish healing and makes me even more tired and frustrated. But not all is bad. I'm still mostly ok, I still have Alex, and there are projects on the needles.

Bottoms up in progress

I started this top in between projects, as something to do and put away when something else came up. Other things have come up, but I can't bring myself to stop. It's mainly twisted rib, and it takes forever, but for some reason I love it. I want to knit it, and so I do. And it feels great.
Bottoms up in progress

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

One email, one stitch at a time

I have a bestest friend, whom I really love, and I think she is great: E.

I have not talked to her in a very long time, because I get anxious every time I try to email her. I get so anxious that I postpone it, and then it's been so long that I think she must be angry at me and that makes me more anxious, and I postpone it. You see where this is going.

Today is E's birthday, and I have finally written to her. It's not a very coherent email, because I'm never very coherent when I'm doing something that scares me, as irrational as that fear might be. I hate it when my illnesses get the better of me so today, armed with the excuse of her birthday, I finally gathered the courage.

I am also making her a lacy mohair and silk scarf in one of her colours, and I have let her know that in the email. It's the only thing I can do. Despite my panic, I know that she forgives me (in fact, she is probably more worried than upset at me), but I need to come to terms with this as well. So I will knit her the scarf, and put in each stitch all the love I have for her, and how much I want that bond to reunite again. A scarf like a bridge to get us together again, even if we've probably never left each other.

I am very lucky to have her friendship, that spans time and place without regards for them, and I would hate to lose that. So I overcome my fears for her, and knit the bridge scarf. One email, one stitch at a time.