31 March 2007

Back, for real this time? :)

When I got home, I found this comment sitting in my email from AlisonH:

When last seen, our heroine was heard swearing off all but sock knitting and was proclaiming the $1.50 sweater boring. Lace. Boring! The horror, the horror. Fingerprints left at the scenes of other blogs leave us to suspect our heroine is live and kicking, and we have great hope to hear from her or her captors soon.

When I got done laughing hysterically, I realized that yes, I had been remiss in updating. I've been...counting. Furiously counting. I leave it to you to figure out what I'm counting.

First funny thing I've seen lately.

I finally pulled up the photos off my camera that travelled to Vegas. Although there were some lovely shawl photos:

What really entertained me was Robb playing with the camera. To my benefit or detriment? You decide.

I finished one Regia Bamboo sock, but it's all the way over there.

Dollar and a half cardi continues. Now that I've got the rhythm of the lace pattern, I'm really enjoying it; the back is almost done, since if I made anything 18" from my armpits to the cast on edge it would dangle down to my knees.

I'm in love with the Jaeger Roma. This is such a soft, pretty, deeply colored yarn. It's sort of a purpley-taupe color that I just adore. Using the Denise Interchangeable needles, which I'm also in love with. Thus far, this sweater is an experience of bliss. :) How fun is that?

See how pretty the yarn is? And I haven't even blocked it yet!

I think the mail just got here. The mail might contain my new Addi lace needles. !!! If so, expect a review tomorrow!

Until then.

27 March 2007

Still breathing

I've been avoiding the world this past weekend, partly due to exhaustion, partially due to workload, and partially due to emotional instability. Nothing terrible, just some bad news I know will be coming down the pike, but until it actually arrives, all I can do is wait. I hate waiting. I want to know that the cancer is back and that my aunt is refusing treatment, because then I can grieve and be with her and hold her hand and cry. Until then, I am just waiting for confirmation, and, as stated, I hate waiting.

I know that this should galvanize me to go down to South Royalton tomorrow to see Grammy, but I just can't do it. Not this week. I'm too tired and too bitchy, and I would be no kind of fit company. I promise, absolutely swear, to get off my ass and go down with whichever of my brothers want to come with me, next Wednesday.

The weather here is finally warming up, so all things wool that are not socks (but mostly including the socks as well) have gone into the basket to wait for fall. On the needles are the Dollar & a Half cardi (I'm tolerating the boring lace pretty well, thanks for asking), and some bamboo socks from the Regia Bamboo yarn. I want to try the Trekking XXL yarn next, and I have some Regia Surf that I bought last summer kicking around. It should start being warm enough to knit socks while I walk to and from work, so I'm going to start keeping them in my purse again. Yay!

I switched from bamboo needles to my Addi Turbo's on the Lily of the Valley shawl, and it has made a huge difference. The needle point is still painfully blunt, but the slipperiness of the needles makes it easier to make the stitch bigger and the yarn over looser, and that seems to be the key. That, and knowing that it's going to take me a year to make this shawl. I'll survive it. :) I'm trying to knit a couple of rows every other day, and I'll get there eventually. I'm going to order the Addi Lace Needles on Friday (yay Payday).

I promise to post pictures of wedding like stuff this afternoon. I'll find the energy somewhere. :)

23 March 2007

I am so cut off

From lace knitting.

At least for a little while.

Here's the song in my head:

Oh where, oh where, can my mojo be?
The knitting goddess took it away from me-e-e
I went to Vegas and I thought it'd be good
but I dropped stitches from my neeeedles...of wood.

Okay, it doesn't scan. At all. Let it go, please, I'm a woman under pressure, what can I say.

So, we survived the trip. As I pointed out, I'd started Hanami, messed up the pattern repeat, and left it behind in disgust/annoyance because I didn't want to bring beads on the plane, didn't have time to redo the cast on, and hadn't had time to get to the library to print out my PDF files.

I brought the Jaggerspun Superfine Merino and the LaceStyle book and needles that I thought would be sharp enough to work the Lily of the Valley Shawl by Nancy Bush.

Ha. Hahaha. Ha-ha! HA!

So. Not. True.

Row one? k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, all in the same stitch. Row two? Purl these five stitches together.

Ex-squeeze me? That's possible?

Not for me, not with those needles. I finished three rows, completely disgusted with myself, and read Sara Douglass' The Wayfarer's Redemption all the rest of the trip. I mostly slept and read through the layover in Newark. I hadn't brought any other knitting, and I couldn't bring myself ot do much of anything else.

My choices at this point are two fold. Abandon the project until I get my hands on some of those new Addi lace needles that I want to try out anyway, or come up with some way to keep Nancy's crazy stitches loose enough that I can P5tog with the needles I have. I'm going to try doing a k1, p1,k1,p1,k1 instead of the yos, see if that helps. When I feel braver.

Until then, I'm going to knit inside-out socks. The colors are growing on me, I think. And, truth-be-told, they're handknit socks. I could fail to love them, but I feel it would somehow reduce me as a person.

Oh, wait, you wanted to know about the trip? The most exciting part was when we were in the elevator, on the way to the wedding itself, and this guy in the elevator got an eyeful of my shawl, and asked "Did you knit that yourself?" And started telling me all about how his wife knits fine lace, and so few women do, and how gorgeous it was...this would have been fantastic if he'd been, ya know, looking at the shawl. Not the girls. But all ended well. Robb took me shopping. I got new jeans, one of the Gap's desi(red) shirts, a Johnny Cash t-shirt for $9...it was good. I wasted $20 on the slot machines just so I could say that I did, Robb played in a Texas Hold'em tournament for 6 1/2 hours on $100 bucks (lost in the end, should have left after 5 1/2 hours) but had a grand time.

Pictures tomorrow, after I've unearthed the camera.

20 March 2007

Almost ready

I know that he's not enthused about this trip. We're happy to go see his sister get married, but Las Vegas isn't the vacation spot either of us would choose.

I know that he's never flown before, and he's nervous about what it's going to be like.

But I swear on all things holy that if he doesn't get his butt in gear, I'm going to go completely and totally nuts.


Nothing knitting to report. Cast on for Dollar & A Half cardi. Screwed it up. Cast on for Hanami. Screwed it up. So on. Getting on the plane with bamboo circs (cross your fingers for me), the Nancy Bush shawl out of Lace Style, and a skein or so of the Jaggerspun Superfine Merino in Plum that Karin sent me way back.

I think I can survive until Friday.

It's a three hour layover in Newark on the way back.

Wish me luck.

16 March 2007

Well, that was more excitement...

...than I need in an average day.

You may or may not know that two Verizon servers bit the dust a couple days ago, one in New York, and one in Mass. Oops. So much for my internet connection. This is the first time I've been online in DAYS I tell you, DAYS!!! I thought I was going to die from the lack of blogs. It was painful.

Today was a big day, though. Went to Mom's, because her iron is better than mine, and guess what I did?

I'll give you a hint.

Yup. I steam-blocked Scheherazade. It was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be. I even touched the iron down briefly in some stubborn areas, just to make sure that it, ya know, mellowed out. Very briefly, and very, very carefully.

Check out the center motif.


I'm in love.

The very next big-lace-project is going to be Hanami, also designed by Melanie. I'm nearly positive that I'm going to knit it out of Lisa Souza's Sock! Merino in Mulberry, but I haven't entirely made up my mind. I do still have the purple lace yarn that started Scheherazade. We'll see.

Also, I got to hear Bill McKibben talk for awhile yesterday, which was very cool. Some good ideas about local economies, etc. Very neat.

He talked for this long:

I was gusset shaping when I got there. Have I mentioned how much I am in love with the Regia Bamboo yarn? I must have more, for summer socks. In love, love love!!

You've been asking me questions.

Kendra asked why I stopped using the Skacel laceweight and switched to the mohair/silk -- it's not Cracksilk Haze, by the way, it's.. Matil Kid Seta? Yeah, that one. Purely color reasons. I thought I'd want a purple shawl, the purple looked good with the chocolate brown skirt, but then I saw the cranberry color and just fell utterly in love. Normally I don't do red, it's too touchy with my coloring, but it just looked so amazing with the skirt that I couldn't help myself. I promise to get Robb to take pictures when I'm all dressed up so you can see.

Sheila (who has a blog, but my compy is being stubborn and won't let me see it so I can link her) asked when I'm going to Vegas -- next week! We're leaving Tuesday, back Thursday. There will be a full report. Robb's sister is getting married at the MGM Grand.

And now, one last picture, because when he took it, Robb said "That's the good one," so here you go.

14 March 2007

First, I just gotta say it.

It looks like the most optomistic willywarmer that ever existed. But it is, in fact, the toe of the newest Socks That Rock Sock Club kit sock.

I'm not sure how I feel about this sock. The pattern doesn't wow me, the colors are muddier than I would ever buy for myself...I'm enchanted with the zigzagging stripes, which is a good thing, because if that army green shade had pooled, I would have just burst into tears.

But I am knitting the second sock. Maybe I'll keep them, maybe I won't. We'll see how the cookie crumbles.

Right now, all of my assigned knitting projects are so boring that it's actually painful. The Inside Out socks? Just finished the first one, so I have another foot full of k2p2 k2p1 ribbing to do before anything interesting happens again.

Knitting a scarf for a friend whose mother is going downhill very quickly from systematically invasive cancer. It's out of the Victorian Lace, one of the 400yd quick scarves? I've done 20 repeats of the elongated garter stitch, and the 7 more that I need to do (all 30 and I think I'll run out of yarn) might just put me in an early grave.

Last night, I even cast on for the Dollar And A Half Cardi (there's been lots of talk of substitutions, I'm using Jaeger Roma in a mocha kind of color) only to realize that the entire back is the same boring lace pattern (although the extra photos on the website make it look different than the pattern describes, I'll need to go read the pattern more closely).

And finally, it occured to me that since temps in Las Vegas have been hitting the 80s this week, wearing a big old Mohair shawl might not be the best plan. I'm certainly still going to block it and bring it, but depending on the temperatures at the hotel where Robb's sister is getting married, I may be wearing my little purple Angel Pearls scarf instead! I'll keep you posted.

Okay, off to do some more incredibly boring knitting. Have fun!

13 March 2007

Kitchener Stitching for B

Warning: This post will be pic heavy.

So, I spent years Kitchenering backwards. Instead of a nice, smooth ending to the toe, I got a purl ridge. I still don't know what I changed so that it finally works now, but since my friend B (sadly blogless) just finished her first pair of socks, and needs to learn how to do that "toe-closing stitch-thing", and I had a sock from Socks That Rock that needed to be Kitchenered, I thought, we could work together.

So, B, (and anyone else who's interested), here's how I kitchener stitch my toes.

Here we have a friendly neighborhood sock. Say hello to the Sivia Harding sock, kids! (sock voice) Hello kids!

Okay, I'll stop.

This sock is all prepped for kitchenering. We have the stitches lined up on two needles, evenly split. We've cut the yarn from the ball, but left a long tail (probably 18" or so) and threaded it on a yarn needle.

First, we prep the front stitch. Insert the yarn needle into the stitch like you're going to purl. Pull through. Do not remove that single stitch from the knitting needle.Prep the back stitch. Insert the sewing needle into the stitch on the back needle as if you're going to knit. See how I'm still coming from the "front" of the work? I think I used to get in trouble by bringing my working yarn over the knitting needles. That doesn't work. Learn from my mistakes. :)

Okay, now we're ready to get going. Insert the sewing needle into the first stitch on the front knitting needle.

Pull this stitch off the knitting needle. You've got your sewing needle in it, it's not going anywhere.

Now, pull the yarn through (don't get too tight, you can adjust this later with a little fidgeting of the yarn). One stitch bound off.

Now, prep the next stitch, still on the front needle. Don't pull this stitch off the knitting needle.

Back needle gets the same treatment, but in reverse. Insert your sewing needle as if to purl, and pull the stitch off the knitting needle.

Prep your next stitch by inserting the sewing needle as if to knit. Don't take this stitch off the needle.

Wash, rinse, repeat.
Until all of your stitches are bound off.

Then, do a happy dance. Possibly have a drink. It's good for you! (the kitchenering, I mean).

10 March 2007

I have a "thing"

This "thing" is about green. It's not a good thing.

See, when I was about five or six years old, my mom put me in ballet classes. This, in itself, was fine. I wasn't very good, but I loved it. Until some snotty teacher told a five year old girl who asked if she could be a ballerina when she grew up that ballerinas were small and thin, and this girl would be tall and average. But whatever.

So, the not-so-tiny blonde ballerina was in a production of The Night Before Christmas that all the ballet classes were putting on for the parents. The little kid groups were different things from the beginning of the poem. I was a gumdrop. We had to dance around in pairs, or something, I don't remember exactly.

But we had to have gum drop costumes in gum drop colors.

Now, the little girl I was supposed to dance with had a Stage Mom. You would have thought her daughter's future ballet career rested in this moment. As if there were a scout from Julliard in the audience of the Colchester Village Youth Ballet Class Performance, and that scout would stop the performance and snatch up her daughter by the hand saying "This gumdrop! This one encapsulates what I have tried for so long to teach!" and sweep the girl off to a life of fame, fortune, and anorexia (sorry, it turns out I'm still bitter).

So, we weren't allowed to choose our costume colors, because we would have all chosen the same three colors, and it's not about letting little kids have fun, it's about the final look, or some other equally adult nonsense. Well, the little girl with me wanted to be purple. But so did I. Purple was my favorite color, because my aunt who'd been blind almost her whole life still remembered purple, and I wanted to be able to tell her that I'd been a purple gum drop, so she could see me in her mind. I wanted to be purple with a fire that burned the suns. If I could be a purple gumdrop, I would always be okay with not being a ballerina, because I would be too tall and not skinny enough.

And here's the part I remember crystal clear. The other girl's mom had gone off and gotten two packets of color dye, two different colors, and she came back to us, and she held out her hands to her daughter with her fists closed so she couldn't see what color was in which hand. "Which one?" she asked, holding one way out in front of the other. Her daughter picked the one that had been held back. "Are you sure?" the mom asked. And like all five year olds everywhere, the daughter picked the other one.

The mom opened her hand. And she had the purple packet in that hand. And suddenly, I was a green gumdrop.

According to my mother, I was very mellow about the thing at the time. I got my mother and protested that the so called random drawing had been unfairly rigged (this might have gone something like "She cheeeeeeeated!!!") but there was nothing we could do. I was a green gumdrop.

I let them take my picture, and I danced around in an awful costume the color of a rotting avacado (mom did her best, but the dye was awful). And then I transfered into a jazz class where the shoes didn't hurt and I got to wave streamers around. I was much happier.

I don't wear green, to this day. I don't think about it consciously, but if there's blue or purple or grey or black or even red available, I choose them over green. I'm just not a fan. There are a few shades that I like -- emerald, in particular -- but I just don't care for green.

And then this month's Socks That Rock kit came in the mail. And I wanted to hate it. Especially when the pattern looked so purpley, and my yarn was grey. (Tammy has assured me that they tried and tried to get the pattern picture to look right, and it just wouldn't, so I'm not mad at the BMFA people, not at all). I wonder if this is an across-the-board difference, because Wendy's also have charming blue stripes. But my yarn is green and grey and brown.

I was very ready to hate this yarn. I was going to make the sock, and then find some green loving recipient to give it to. I was going to fuss about the color and use it as an excuse to make one last purchase before I tighten the yarn belt. (Robb gave notice at work, this is a good thing, but it may be a few months of thinness). But last night, I wound the yarn and started knitting -- because everything stops for Socks That Rock -- and I entirely enchanted. The stripes -- even if they are sort of grey with a touch of purple if I squint -- completely break up the stretches of green, and I'm in love with them. I think they're utterly charming. Yay!

So, Tammy, no more whining. Promise!

09 March 2007

Well, I WAS going to show off how to Kitchener.

But then my camera batteries died. And there are only two batteries in the charger, instead of four. And no one will admit to seeing the other two (I think I took them to S. Royalton with me when I went to see Grammy, but I turned my bag upside down and shook, and they didn't fall out). And I can't find the OTHER battery charger, the one we moved with.

And I don't know if the photos I took will survive having no battery power.

And I'm now kinda grouchy.

So I'm going to wind the new Socks That Rock yarn that I got for this month's kit. Tomorrow, I'll whine about how everyone else got stripes of blue, or purple, and I got green and grey. >.<. And I'll buy more batteries (regular and rechargeable, because instant gratification isn't fast enough) tomorrow. And there will be pictures again.

Because everything stops for Socks That Rock.

Hip hip hooray.

OH! B! was the sock for your dad WAY too tight, or a little too tight? Because if it was just a little too tight, you can make it longer, and it will probably stretch to be comfortable.

Tomorrow, the new Socks That Rock kit, and kitchener stitching.

07 March 2007

Back (thank the goodnesses) and showing off tattoos

Sorry for disappearing. It was a very intense week of work, combined with some very intense conversations with the boyfriend (all ending well, but still, exhausting in their intensity) that made it so I hardly knit, and even more hardly thought, and certainly didn't blog.

I took yesterday off to recover, and I'm back in full form today.

I've come to realize that something I need to learn in order to simplify my life is how much more efficiently I can complete certain things when I devote all of my attention to them. I'm applying this lesson first to knitting.

I cleaned out the UFO basket. I have a pile of reclaimed yarn that was rewound and deposited back into the stash. I have several socks that need mates, one sweater that needs sleeves, another that needs a back, one that has to get sewn and cut and then I'm going to just work turning edges for it, plus add in a zipper (I think). I have too many things on the needles, and it keeps me from focussing. I know this. So I'm going to try and get that under control, and proceed from there. The biggest problem is that several of the projects in question have gotten to that mind-numbing place. It's different for every project...for the sweater from the Holiday VK, it's the endless expanse of stockinette before I get to do the waist shaping again. For the Annie Modesitt cardi from one of last year's IK, it's the sleeve issue. Socks...well, that's obvious. It may be that a couple of them just go into the drawer as "odd socks" and get worn when I'm just around the house and it doesn't matter. We'll see.

All of that said, the one thing I didn't have on the needles yesterday, as I was rushing around, about to head off to see Bridge to Terabithia (I completely loved it, they kept the story perfectly together, I sobbed for twenty minutes), was a plain sock that I could knit in the dark. I grabbed some needles (I don't even know what size they are, probably US 1s) and a ball of the Regia Bamboo that I got from Sheri at the Loopy Ewe a few weeks ago, and cast on in the car.

The movie was as long as the stockinette. The ribbing was done while waiting for the movie to start, and I turned the heel at the local Irish Pub, waiting for Robb to be done work. It was absurdly cold last night, so I passed the time with an older gentleman who looked a little too interested in my socks until I pointedly mentioned my boyfriend, and then we settled down into a friendly conversation about knitting and modern comedians. Don't ask me how these relate, I've no idea.

I'm utterly charmed by this yarn. It's cool and soft and cotton feeling, but without the stiffness of cotton, and the ribbing actually stretches and fits well.

I'm especially endeared by the way the Eye of the (Partridge? Peacock? Owl? Whichever) heel shows off the variegated colors.

Now, there's been a lot of tattoo showing off going on in blogland, and I always love to show off my stories. So:

The first tattoo I got is on ... well, Robb says it's the top of my ass, I say it's the bottom of my back, those khakis I'm wearing would normally fall just below his head. It's your call, I'm fine either way. He's biggish; he'd be covered by the palm of my hand.

This tattoo I got when I was nineteen years old and living in London. I'm an adopted kid, and the year before, I had made contact with my biological family for the first time. I'd grown up believing that my father's family was of English, Irish, and Scottish heritage. It was one of the few facts I could throw out when my friends started talking about their parents and their histories, and I clung to it like a liferaft sometimes.

When I finally met Frank, nineteen, and a little bit more comfortable in my heritage and my experience, I found out that his aunt had done more research, and the branch (root?) of the family they'd thought was Irish was actually Welsh.

The oldest of my three biological brothers drew this for me. He based it on the traditional Welsh dragon that you find on the Welsh flag, and emailed it to me. I shrunk it slightly, and took it to Kensington High Street, where I found the most amazing tattoo artist I'd seen at the time, and he found the reddest ink he had, and I thought of Scully briefly before I had this dragon inscribed on my back. To remind me of family, and what it means.

The second tattoo I've already talked about so we'll skip that one.

The third is the most recent (duh), and I got it right here in Burlington.

This one I designed myself, and the fuzziness is the picture, not the tat. Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your own bicep? I'm just saying.

This is probably the tat I thought the longest about. I hadn't been happy with the second one, so I carefully considered what I wanted to do before I got this one. The character in the center is the character for "self" (I was more careful this time) and the outside is a proper Celtic Knot, no beginning or end, so all together, the symbol means (to me) protection of self. I've sense been chastized by one very nice Chinese woman who told me that I should have added in another character to make it mean "my self," but this time, I'm glad I didn't. I like the way it looks, and what it means. A higher sense of self than the self I am continually aware of. Does that make sense?

Anyway, those are my tats. I've been contemplating a fourth lately, but I'm not sure what or where, so it's not high on my priority list. Especially since I'll be tightening the yarn belt for a month or so.

All right, off to knit. Tomorrow, kitchener stitch, for the benefit of B.

01 March 2007

Get off my nerves!

Okay, so I was going to keep my mouth shut about this, but it's been banging around in my brain, and I just have to out with it.

If you're a new knitter, and you're wondering what the next thing you should knit is, and you spy something you love, and someone tells you it's too complicated, what should you do?

Kick them in the shins. Tell them to stop being a jerk. Unless they're offering to help you learn, you should ignore them.

I am sick to death of hearing new knitters being told that they're not good enough, or they don't know enough, or they should wait until they know more. I can't stand that attitude. It seems to be held mostly by sophomore knitters who are just passing their "Oh, how little I knew!" phase on the way to being damned good knitters. But here's the thing. While you certainly can perfect a skill by doing one thing over and over and over, you don't improve on other skills. You don't learn to cable by knitting garter stitch scarves. You don't learn lace work by doing stockinette for acres.

If what you really want to be doing is Alice Starmore or Dale of Norway, nothing in this world is going to teach you how to do it except for diving in and giving it a whirl. There is no other cable design in the world that will prepare you for Alice, and there is no other colorwork that makes me as happily insane as a good Dale. No one is going to show up on your doorstep and tell you that you're good enough now, you can proceed to the next level. You have to push yourself if you want to get better.

Maybe part of this rant is because I learned to knit before I actually have active memories. I remember being six or seven and making my mom do the casting on, not because I couldn't, but because I didn't like to. I kind of knit all the way through high school, but I don't think I ever finished anything. When I was in college, the bug bit, hard. You know what my first real project was in college? A pair of gloves. A pair of alpaca gloves. And since I didn't know crap about gauge, I used the needle size recommended on the yarn (US6) instead of the size in the pattern (US3). I made gloves for the Jolly Green Giant. And I loved them. And I made more gloves (with the right needles this time) for a bunch of friends that Christmas. It was fantastic.

Know the first sweater project I did? Alice Starmore's Cromarty. I'd never cabled before, never knit a sweater before, but someone asked me to make it for them, and I wanted to learn how, so I just did it.

It makes me so aggravated when people let their current skill level deter them from something they really want, or save a beautiful yarn for when they're "good enough."

Maybe I'm no one special, maybe you don't know me from Eve, but you know what? If you can tell the pointy end of a knitting needle from the other end, I hereby dub you good enough. Get yarn you love and a pattern that lights a fire in your heart, and knit it. Otherwise, what the heck's the point?

Okay, rant off. I'm going to go knit a cardi and calm down. Pictures later.