Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot Enough For Ya!?

These hot hot hot days of summer we've been doing some shooting and I've been doing some knitting.

The Good Luck Lace Scarf is coming right along. It's about 18" (or so) long. It's now become a plodding knit. Simple pattern, thick yarn, not very lace-like but it doesn't require a lot of concentration. Great for these lethargic hot summer days.

my street, Dec 07

Yep, it's been around 100 degrees F. every afternoon since Monday. Lovely. Saturday is to be the last one for a while. Whatever I have to do (except a nap) gets done in the morning—laundry, errands, cooking. I'm not on the computer much during the day, a little in the morning to kinda check-in then some in the early evening and then maybe again after dark. My computer wallpaper is a slide show of all the snow and ice photos I've taken.

I've been watering the new grass every other day in the morning for 30 minutes or so. Being well hydrated, it's holding up well. After this heat wave breaks, I'm going to start killing the weeds that were there before I put the new grass in with one of those won't-kill-the-lawn weed killers. I'll do a small section every couple of days so it won't stress and kill the new grass. Then I'll start on the other parts of the yard so that by the time it's time for this same action in the fall, I'll be a little ahead of the weed game.

The mate to my Purple sock is coming right along. The leg is almost half done with almost 40 rounds done. I've mentioned before that this is a very quick knit. Just p1, k2 all the time. There is a short row heel, but well, it does look nice with the hand painted yarn.

And I am still thinking about what to cast on for the next travel sock. I'm thinking of a two-stage travel sock. I want to finish my Monkey Socks (leg on the first sock is only 4" long) but they're not conducive to stoplight knitting when I'm driving. However, they are just fine for knitting to and from the target range or wherever passenger knitting. So. That's what I'm going to do. I will cast on . . . with something . . . for something . . . for when I'm driving which when the Monkey Socks are done will move on to be the travel socks.

Now. What to cast on with and what to knit. I have a few weeks or so to mull over that one. Wool socks for me for winter . . . cotton socks for me . . . simple wool socks for SIL . . . hmmmmm

We've cut down on our shooting a bit from twice a week or so to about once a week, except when it's IDPA
night. Like last night. Some great Courses of Fire (COFs). One of the newer shooters is active military. He had some office time last week and he came up with some terrific and challenging COFs. I did about as well as I always do. Not great compared to the others, but all but one of my bad guys were dead and I didn't shoot any non-threats. And the one I missed? Completely! Two shots with your strong hand at about 3 yards! And I missed the BG (bad guy!) Totally! The one I had to shoot movinghim I got. The one stationary three yards away? Him. I missed.

Now that Sweetie and I are both official card-carrying members of IDPA we're going to shoot a three hour classifier this Sunday morning at an outdoor range. In order for shooters to be able to compete with their peers, IDPA competitors are divided into classifications within each division based upon their skill level. It involves how quick you shoot and how accurate you shoot, mostly how accurate. There is Novice, Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert and Master. I expect we'll both be in the Novice class. After the classifier there'll be a regular IDPA shoot in the afternoon.

This range is shady with lots and lots of huge Burr Oak trees. I won't have to worry much about sunblock there. Also the heatwave is supposed to break with a cold front and rain coming through late Saturday afternoon. The high Sunday is supposed to be in the high 80's. Should be a great time!!

the neighbor's elms after an ice storm in Dec 07

We also want to move forward and become Safety Officers (SO) so we can help run the matches. We only have a handful of SOs at present. It would be nice to have all of us who shoot regularly be SOs and spread the load around. That way everyone would have a chance to shoot and visit along with working as an SO for part of the match. Before that several of us are going to learn to score keep, again freeing up the guys who always do it.

More women are coming out to shoot. There are three of us who regularly shoot in our matches. I'm working on one or two more. They're shooters, too but first I need to get them back to the range, work on them to get their CCW's and come out and watch part of a match. I think that once I get them to the range to shoot and to watch a match, the CCW will be a natural step.

blogging to: a quiet house

reading: Whisper to the Blood by Dana Stabenow (a Kate Shugak mystery)
Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America by Ann Coulter
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Parting Shot: "We, the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution." — Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top Brass

Last weekend we attended an all day IDPA-style shooting event. This photo was taken there but it was after the event. I shot my 1911 .45 pistol not this or the other fun gun pictured below. It was an outdoor range and a lot of LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) shoot there. The range was littered with thousands (and thousands) of brass casings — mostly .223/5.56 and .40 caliber. And they hadn't been there forever, either. Many were still shiny. At the end of the day I'd managed to pick up several hundred .223/5.56 cases, a couple hundred .40's and a smattering of 9mm and .45's, too. A good haul and as I didn't have to "pay" outright for them, FREE!. It's more difficult to find .223/5.56 brass in the wild so that's what I concentrated on. I could have easily picked up just as many .40's, 9mm's and .45's but they're more common where I usually shoot whereas the .223/5.56's are not. And I didn't spend all day with my eyes on the ground. While the next shooter was getting ready or other shooters were pasting the targets (putting a buff colored 1" x 1" adhesive square over each bullet hole after the target had been scored) I picked up some brass. While walking from and back to the firing line when I was pasting targets I would look for and pick up a few pieces of "sliver" .40 brass and so on throughout the day.

One of the great things we came away with was a "secret recipe" for brass cleaning from one of the shooters. Prior to this we would take our sooty just fired brass and dump it in our polisher for an hour or two. Into the corncob media in the polisher we also put a cheap dryer sheet. You can use used ones but I use a liquid fabric softener so I just bought the cheapest dryer sheet I could find. We usually tear it into three or four pieces so it works better. The idea is that the soot on the brass will cling to the dryer sheets and keep your media cleaner which for the non-reloaders / non-shooters here means you don't have to change it as often. I use the cheapest of each (except for the dishwashing liquid) I can find
generic vinegar and generic lemon juice.

Secret Brass Cleaning Recipe

1 quart white vinegar
1 – 1½ cups lemon juice
1 tablespoon (or so) dishwashing liquid
1 gallon warm water

Combine above and stir to mix well. Add brass and let soak about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse brass very well. Lay out brass to dry. Mixture made be saved and reused.

Earlier in the week we "washed", deprimed, sized, polished, case-gauged and sorted all the .223/5.56 brass I picked up. Yes, I picked it up and We did all the rest. Anyway, for the non-shooters, .223/5.56 cartridges have a "necked" case; most pistol cartridges are straight-walled. There are some exceptions but mostly that is the norm. There is more prep involved before reloading a necked cartridge. We have a .223/5.56 case gauge. Every single piece of our .223/5.56 brass goe
s into that gauge. Most of our brass, especially if it's our brass and we shot it last will be just right. If the case is too long it gets trimmed with a case trimmer. If it's too short, which almost never happens, it gets tossed. If a case gets trimmed, that means the inside and outside edges probably have some burrs so we put the narrow end of the tool on the right into the mouth of the case and turn it a few times then turn it around, insert the other end over the mouth of the case and turn it a few times. One end deburrs and chamfer's the inside and the other end the outside of the newly trimmed case mouth. We case gauge it again just to be sure.

One other thing we look at as we're prepping .223/5.56 brass is the primer pocket. If you've picked up or purchased once-fired stranger .223/5.56 brass, it's almost guaranteed that some (or all) of it will be military or NATO brass. That means crimped primer pockets. See the narrow metal rim around the outside of the large opening? That means the primer was crimped in place instead of being pressed in place. The reloading press we use (Dillon 550B) presses the primers in the pocket so we've got to remove that crimp from the primer pocket. Once you do that you don't ever have to do it again to that particular piece of brass. You can use a drill with the proper sized drill bit or you can get a swager. We do a little of both. Occasionally, the hole in the bottom of the primer pocket, known as the flash hole, is blocked with a burr and we use a primer pocket cleaner which is inserted from the bottom of the case. And once in a while, the pocket cleaner doesn't do the job or do a good enough job so we go in from the other end through the mouth of the case with a flash hole uniformer aka pocket reamer.

So a lot of work to reload our necked rifle cases but so much fun to shoot. I guess that's why the target shooting is the sport and the reloading is the hobby.

Today we washed all the rest of our just fired brass. So we don't have to re-sort it by caliber we washed it by caliber. The bed of Mathilda (my little 4 cyl forest green Mazda—sans canoe) is laid with double folded towels that are spread with drying brass. If not tomorrow, in the coming week, we'll re-size, deprime and polish it. It'll only need to be in the polisher for 30 minutes or so just to remove the case lube and put a nice shine on the brass. Then we'll sort it by headstamp (scroll down) and we'll have more brass ready to reload.

The shoot was a blast. Great COF's (Course of Fire) and best of all great folks to shoot with and be around. I got a really bad sunburn, blistered my nose, upper lip and chin but it was worth it. I haven't done that since my late teens. I did have sunblock with us but we were having so much fun we sorta forgot about it.

Many folks had brought various other firearms, so
after the "official" shoot, we shot those, including the one below and the one pictured above. What a blast, literally! I usually bench rest ours but as you can see there was no place to do that so I only shot a handful of rounds though each rifle. I had a great time. Wish we could do that every weekend!

blogging to: a quiet house

reading: Resolution by Robert B Parker (a western) (yes, the same Robert B Parker who writes the Spenser mysteries)
Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America by Ann Coulter
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Parting Shot: "When seconds count the police are only minutes away."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Something Else

I did run out of yarn on Sweetie's Country Socks when I was nine rounds shy of the toe decreases. Luckily, the other day I took myself down to my LYS and got some more. It's a different dye lot but it seems to look OK. I can't see a difference in the light.

And anyway the sock is now done, except for weaving the ends in. Sweetie loves 'em and several of the guys at the target range are envious of Sweetie's socks. Photos and stats next post.

And while I was at my LYS, I picked up Cookie A's new book Sock Innovation. Such great patterns. It not only has patterns but ideas on how to design your own creations. A very worthwhile purchase.

I've not made much progress at all on the Good Luck Lace scarf. I just keep pluggin' along. And some day it'll be done.

And since Sweetie's Country Socks were done, I cast on for the second purple sock (still don't have a catchy name) with the Socks that Rock yarn in the Romancing the Stone colorway--on the way to the range yesterday, of course. There and back I got over eleven rounds done.

In a lot of ways this will be a quicker knit than Sweetie's Country socks, other than the short row heel. It's all ribbing, k2, p1, less stitches per round [88 vs 72], the yarn is larger and lighter in color hence there is more of a contrast between the ebony dnps and the yarn which will make the whole thing easier to see.

I want this sock to be done so I can move on to the next sock, which is ALWAYS going to be the case. I want the Good Luck Lace scarf done so I can finish the Monkey socks and then I want those done so I can cast on for . . . something else. What is next, travel sock-wise. It may the the cammo yarn or something else. The cammo yarn calls to me but it would be a great winter project-- light colored yarn, easy to see on overcast late fall and winter days when the natural light is also short. I have so many cool sock yarns and so many cool patterns I want to knit.

I want to cast on for something in Cookie A's new book. I have around 275 sock patterns saved on my computer. This doesn't count the ones in all the sock books I have. And then there are the patterns that you design yourself, based on a pattern in a stitch dictionary, from a sweater pattern or afghan or one you un-vented. It's almost limitless. The same pattern can look completely different in a different kind of yarn or colorway. I want to do another pair of Waffle Socks in the same yarn because I don't have the original ones any more. I want to do a pair of socks in almost every colorway and pattern that I knit for someone else. The ones with a lotta brown I can leave out.

And so the knit goes on. Always something on the needles. Always something else I want to knit.

blogging to: a quiet house

reading: Ta~Thea by Ann Perry (yes, the same Ann Perry who wrote the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt novels)
Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America by Ann Coulter
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Parting Shot: “The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements. ... They were elements of disorder and subversion. On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind. This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.” ~ Benito Mussolini in an address to the Italian Senate, 1931

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

FO! Paws to Remember Shawl

Maybe it's because I didn't want to let it go but it took me a long time to compile the stats for the finished Paws to Remember Scarf. I'd set myself a deadline to have it done and ready to be delivered by this past weekend and I did. But it set after it was done for three weeks or so before I blocked it then took some inadequate photos of the blocked shawl.

I started with 427 gr of Merging Colors yarn from Strickwear. After the project I was left with 263 gr, enough to do another project. I increased the number of rows knit with each color with each color change until the halfway point in the colors which was colorway #4. Except for the #4/#5 colorway transition, which was 42 rows (one strand of each color) each color transition (one strand of each c
olor) was 6 rows.

colorway #1 ~ 40 rows (2 strands) + 6 transition rows (1 strand) = 46 rows
colorway #2 ~ 42 rows (2 strands) + 12 transition rows (1 strand) = 54 rows
colorway #3 ~ 48 rows (2 strands) + 12 transition rows (1 strand) = 60 rows
colorway #4 ~ 90 rows (2 strands) + 42 transition rows (1 strand) = 135 rows
colorway #5 ~ 91 rows (2 strands) + 43 transition rows (1 strand) = 140 rows
colorway #6 ~ 49 rows (2 strands) + 13 transition rows (1 strand) = 63 rows
colorway #7 ~ 43 rows (2 strands) + 14 transition rows (1 strand) = 57 rows
colorway #8 ~ 36 rows (2 strands) + 7 transition rows (1 strand) = 43 rows

Here's a breakdown; beginning yardage is an estimate based on info from Strickwear, the weights are mine.

colorway #1 ~ started with 600 yds, 57 gr * used 137.84 yds, 13 gr * ended with 463.16 yds, 44 gr
colorway #2 ~ started with 600 yds, 57 gr * used 157.89 yds, 15 gr * ended with 442.11 yds, 42 gr
colorway #3 ~ started with 600 yds, 56 gr * used 182.14 yds, 17 gr * ended with 417.
86 yds, 39 gr
colorway #4 ~ started with 600 yds, 57 gr ~ used 378.95 yds, 36 gr * ended with 221.05 yds, 21 gr
colorway #5 ~ started with 600 yds, 57 gr ~ used 389.47 yds, 37 gr * ended with 210.53 yds, 20 gr
colorway #6 ~ started with 600 yds, 57 gr ~ used 189.47 yds, 18 gr * ended with 410.53 yds, 39 gr
colorway #7 ~ started with 600 yds, 58 gr ~ used 155.17 yds, 15 gr * ended with 444.83 yds, 43 gr
colorway #8 ~ started with 300 yds, 28 gr ~ used 139.29 yds, 13 gr * ended with 160.71 yds, 15 gr

The finished shawl weighs in at 5.7 oz / 164 gr and based on the cost of the yarn it cost $33.42. I cast on on 12/9/07 and bound off on 5/11/09.

This was a very frustrating knit for me. The shawl is knit in garter stitch which makes it reversible but very difficult (for me) to fix any errors. Also while I was knitting I couldn't for the life of me find a straight line of stitches that went between the pattern repeats although blocked I can clearly see it. I used place markers and counted between each and every pattern repeat on both sides. Still I continually
messed up and frogged back to the life lines many, many times. I also put a new life line in at the beginning of very 12 row repeat. I also kept five or six life lines intact in case I needed them. I never did but they were there.

I did two lace scarves and one lace baby blanket while I was doing this one, among other things. This is by far the most complicated lace project I've ever done and it's not that complicated. I learned a lot knitting it. I'm glad it's done but I miss working on it.

And the best part is my SIL loves it.

blogging to: sounds of the birds outside the open window

reading: The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks
Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America by Ann Coulter
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Parting Shot: "The assumption that spending more of the taxpayer's money will make things better has survived all kinds of evidence that it has made things worse." ~ Thomas Sowell

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I just noticed the other day that I have six hundred ninety posts. This one will make six hundred ninety-one. And to think it all began on November 15, 2005. Not bad for someone who want to but couldn't seem to keep a written journal, either handwritten or on the computer.

The Paws to Remember Shawl (yeah, it's back to a shawl) is done blocking. I'm very pleased with how much it opened up. I stretched and stretched and pinned and re-pinn
ed (and in some cases re-pinned again!). I need(ed) another box (or two) of T-pins. Seems like I was going to get those before I blocked this one. Oh, well. You know how it goes. I found that safety pins work pretty well, not the tiny gold ones but the next size up or more. It's what I had. I may need to look into getting some blocking wires or welding rod and a proper blocking board or at least draw some lines on the makeshift one I have if I'm going to be doing lace scarves and shawls that need to be blocked like this. Especially, if the next one I make for myself has points. So far they've all been scarves or baby blankets. No shapes other than rectangles.

Anyway, here are photos of it blocking. I'm trying to get some good photos of the blocked shawl. And although I didn't pin it out straight and there are sorta points where there shouldn't be it came out OK. Wool is very forgiving. When I post photos of the blocked shawl, I'll also post the stats.

The heel of Sweetie's Country Socks has been completed and the gusset stitches picked up. I'm on round 14 of the foot stitches. I refuse to contemplate that I will probably run out of yarn. I will blithely knit on until I either finish or can't ignore it any longer.

The Good Luck Scarf is also coming along well. I've finished with the first skein of the Mariboo at 13¼" and 90 rounds. Eleven rows later I have only a couple yards left of the Feza. A pretty close match considering they're completely different yarns and weights.

I am so pleased with my new grass. Over a month ago I was moaning about how crappy it all was and then I did something about a large part of it. I'm committed to watering it now but I really like how it's filled in. So this fall, I'll kill the clover patches, some more weeds and do the rest of the front yard. [Oh, my aching back and knees!]

We shot IDPA last Thursday night (5/28). I did crappy again, despite the practice over Memorial Day weekend. I'll keep going and keep practicing. Someone's life may depend on it. This past weekend we went to an outdoor IDPA shoot. That was a blast. I did much better outside. One of the non-shooters had these electronic muffs. She let me borrow them for one of the Courses of Fire and it was great. My regular muffs work fine but it muffles all sound. I can't hear folks talking with them on and sometimes you need to.

We're having more and more trouble finding primers for reloading. We've actually starting buying commercial ammo again because although it's not out there in numbers like it was several months ago, we are able to secure enough to shoot with.

blogging to: Memories 89

reading: The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks
Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America by Ann Coulter
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Parting Shot: "When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary." ~ Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776