Monday, August 22, 2011

We Coulda Had a V-8! In Which Dr. Inkenstein Plays With Zebras

Behold!  Yet another cheap little pen that Dr. Inkenstein just HAD to have. 

We have played happily with many Zebra pens before.  The Zebra Sarasa retractible gel pen is one of our go-to models when we're not using fountain pens or drafting pencils.  Zebra's (now-discontinued) Super Marble gel pens, which my kind friend Susan managed to attain for me, are amazing writers, with a rainbow of color swirls in each pen.

Thus we were excited to note that Zebra was producing a fountain pen, at the cost of a whole three dollars! 

In an attempt to write a more, er, ORGANIZED review of a pen, Dr. Inkenstein followed some suggestions on FPN.

The doctor has discovered that this is not at all our style.  No, our style is far more slapdash and impressionistic.  And full of lolz.

But anyway, we present this handwritten review:

Dr. Inkenstein should amend that last written sentence.  

We liked the Preppy's SECTION better.  But only initially!   The more we write with this cute little stainless-steel Zebra cylinder, the more we like it.   The ink flow improves, we are better adapted to manipulating the admittedly-odd section, and it's just plain fun to work with such a cheap pen that also has a cool mecha name.

The proprietary carts can probably be refilled with bottled ink.  It should prove interesting to see how it likes its first refill, but it's nowhere near that stage yet.

Having written with this Zebra V-301 for a couple of weeks, we liked it so much that we took it out and played with it at a recent BBQ, where it was much admired. 

We had also passed a couple of extra Zebra V-301s along to other fountain pen aficionados.  We got ours at  Jetpens , but we hear your local office supply store might carry them. 

A fountain pen!  For three dollars!   In this day and age!  Don't miss out! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Burning Passion! In Which Count Sockula Solves a Mystery

About a year ago, Count Sockula bought a hank of yarn from a local yarn shop. The yarn was on sale for something like two bucks, had no ball band, and the store owner didn't have a clue what it was: no brand, no fiber content, nothin'.
But I liked the colors (every twilight/sunset shade imaginable). Count Sockula is made that way: 'Oooo, colors pretttyyyyyy!' I bought the colorful pig in a poke and let it sit in my drawer while I went, 'Hmmm.......'

The yarn sat patiently, waiting for me to make up my mind about what to knit with it. Then it hit me: Short-row heel.
So, trying to master short-row heels, I started a toe-up sock with it. I used a knitted-square cast-on and discovered I LIKE these: you simply cast on with a reasonable number of stitches, and work either a garter stitch or stockinette square (measure both ways to make sure it's a true square.). Then you pick up stitches evenly all around the square, increase as needed on each needle, and you have your toe practically done!

Quick as a wink, Sock One's toe was finished, using one lonnng #5 Bryspun needle on 40 stitches.  Worked sl 1, k 1, for the sole on and off.   Decided on a k 1, p 1 rib for the cuff.

All those decisions, and I didn't even know what fiber I was dealing with! All I knew was, to my surprise, I loved knitting with it. It has very short color repeats, so that practically every stitch is a new color against the mainly-mulberry ground: orange, suede, cerulean, cobalt, pink.

Oooooo. Prettttyyyyy. Photo does NOT do it justice:

But was there, I wondered, any way to tell what composition this mystery yarn might have?   Was it acrylic?  Wool?  Cotton?  A mix of all three, or some mysterious Bigfoot of fibers?

At a guess, it is DK weight, the springiest yarn I've ever used, with many plys, and tightly twisted.

No smell, no sheen and is in fact very matte and soft. Yet it doesn't feel like cotton. For that matter, it doesn't feel or smell like wool.

Then---several knitters on the Yahoo Socknitter's list suggested----dun dun dunnnnnn!----THE BURN TEST. Apparently, acrylic will flat-out melt. Cotton will ash. Wool will smoulder.

Count Sockula waited until a windless day presented itself, then went outdoors with a lighter to ingnite the yarn. After several unsuccessful attempts, the yarn----didn't burn.

Didn't melt, either. Produced something like a flat black char.


At a guess, it's wool. If I knew the make, I'd buy more of it, in different colors.

MUAHAHAAA. Mystery solved, socks nearing completion.

Oh, and Count Sockula decided on an Afterthought Heel for both socks, because this was after all only one hank of yarn, and it magically rolled itself into two BIG balls and two littler ones, as if it WANTED to have an Afterthought Heel.

We went with it. Nice sock.  Colors preeetttyyyyy!

Stay tuned for, quite possibly, some fan fiction.