Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Got a hard, hard head

First, and unrelated to this post, an addition to the things that make me cry: fire trucks. SERIOUSLY. After 9/11, any time I saw or heard a fire truck, I would choke up. Later, when my brother became a volunteer firefighter, I became more and more emotional. Often, when a fire truck drives by, I have to stop walking or biking just so I can collect myself. I'm most likely to lose my shit if I'm by myself.

Now, knitting.

It's either a sign of obsession or a sign of stubbornness, or perhaps a delightful mix of both. Whatever it is, allow me to present to you Attempt Number 5 on the first of two Jaywalker socks:

Attempt Number 4 got to the heel and to the leg before I finally admitted that it was just slightly too big in the foot:

The first attempt at these socks started on a Trenton-bound train, January 15. I started the sock as a top-down, carefully casting on and dividing the stitches over 4 US 1 dpns. About 4 inches later that same day, I found that I had to frog the thing--I'd miscounted during a counting row and my Jaywalkers were, in effect, jaywalking all over themselves. I started in on the darn socks January 16, but then had to stop because the bamboo needles were rough. I picked up a couple pairs of US 1 circs and figured happy days were here again. At the heel, I realized that the sock was way too tight. When I checked the gauge, I realized I was missing about two inches of circumference, so I frogged again. The third attempt found me trying to rewrite the pattern. Much like reinventing the wheel, this was redundant redundant. To make up the circumference, I only needed half a pattern repeat, but to make the sock work and work well, I'd actually have to do a full repeat. Attempt four started, and with it, there were new needles--US 2 dpns--and a new pattern revision: this time, it's toe-up. Less than 5 days into this try, I was at the heel, I was turning the heel, and I was at the leg before I realized that these socks are about an inch too long in the foot. Drat. Shit. Fuck. Damn.

Rip it.

With Number 4 facing the ripper, I thought, "Oooh, maybe I'll just knit these up slightly larger and send them to Nat." But, I was then reminded that I give away more of what I make than I actually keep and that DAMN IT, these socks were meant for me from the beginning: the yarn, the pattern, the freaking dedication to actually attempt to knit these fucking things more than once, twice, thrice. Sorry, Nat--you'll get your own handknit socks sometime this summer.

I need to hold my breath, cross my fingers, and avoiding stepping on any cracks--as of last night, I was about 3/4 of an inch away from beginning the 5th gusset. If nothing else, this whole debacle will be a lesson in sock knitting like none before or after.

I don't know about you all, but I need proof that I can finish a pair of socks without running into every knit-wall known to fiber. And, here it is:

Mike's socks, finished, worn more times since finishing than any other pair of socks knit by me. Top-down on US 3s (two circs), using Austermann Step. I made up the pattern: 1x1 ribbing at the cuff, then a ribbing panel on either side. I took guidance from a few socks patterns for the heel, but mostly I just knit it to fit and did not take notes (I'll never make it as a pattern-writer!).

I'm particularly pleased that I got the self-patterning yarn to match up so neatly. Here's another shot of my latest sock model:

And here's my sock model singing an ode to his new most favorite pair of socks ever:

And, just because, two pictures further proving that my cat is not in attack mode 24/7.

Here's Chico, snuggled in the afghan my sister crocheted for one of our anniversaries:

And, here's Chico taking possession of my recently-recovered (as in, from the piles of yarn, fiber, needles, etc.) Poang:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

So emotional

There are a few things, odd as some may be, that are guaranteed to make me cry.

The first one isn't that odd: weddings. Weddings are joyous events, right? People cry out of happiness all the time. Except. I don't exactly cry. I blubber and laugh. And it's not you--I did it at my own wedding. The last wedding I was in, my friend Megan's back in April, I tried so hard to hold my shit together that her grandmother actually stage-whispered in the front row, "What's wrong with that girl? Why is she crying?" Thanks, lady, I think that helped out the situation...

My own wedding, some ten years ago, I remember being so happy that I couldn't stop smiling. And then the smiling led to little laughs, and then the laughing led to out and out crying. And once I started crying, my husband-to-be-in-just-minutes started crying, too.

Prior to my own wedding, I don't recall crying or even getting teary at weddings, though to be honest, I'd not been to all that many weddings before I got married (I had the distinct honor of being among the first of my friends to marry...). The crying-at-weddings has become a little bit of a joke, now, between my husband and I. He kinda just rolls his eyes as I sob my little head off.

Another thing that makes me cry is that damn song that played when Dr. Greene died. I don't know what it is, but any time I hear that song, I get a little weepy-feeling. I don't have an out-and-out bawlfest, but given the right conditions, I totally could.

Standing ovations make me cry. Standing ovations flood me with so much emotion and I don't know why... I've received a few standing o's in my history of performing (once as a soloist and a few times for theatre), but those few personal ovations didn't have that great an effect on me. No--the standing ovations that make me cry are the ones that are given at the end of public performance: the opera, the orchestra, the theatre. The applause washes over me in waves and I tear up, get weak-kneed, and hold my breath lest I start to sob.

Band competitions make me cry. Drump corps competitions make me cry. This particular example is doubly bad because often enough, there's also the chance of a standing ovation happening. GREAT.

I think one of the reasons I cry at band competitions is because way back when I was in marching band, we had the BEST drumline in our division. But, even if our drumline had sucked, I suppose I'd cry over band shows just because being in the band was actually a lot of fun: bus trips, weekend dinners at McDonald's or Burger King (I wouldn't touch either place now for fear of dying, but when I was 16 and 17, those places were awesome), friends, music, performing (and how)... I wasn't disciplined enough to move on to drum corps, but my sister did (she later moved on to instruction), and years after I graduated high school and band, I found that I couldn't watch her performances without bringing some sort of emotional support system with me.

One late spring, I came across the trailer for the sappy flick, The Notebook. I watched that thing no fewer than 10 times in a row, reducing myself to a blubbering mess after only two viewings. I then read the book and declared the whole thing crap. I can watch the trailer and the movie, now, without even a hint of emotion. But, other movies and trailers get me; see Love Actually. TV shows, too: Grey's Anatomy and the scene where Izzy's wearing the prom dress (ridiculous story, but whatever) and going down the elevator and we cut to Denny dying and they're playing that song by Snow Patrol... Oh DEAR, I was a mess. That's not too weird an emotional response, though.

That's about it for things that make me cry... aside from the typical stuff like husbands calling from the ER, funerals, really good news, or really bad news...

Monday, January 29, 2007

You won't stop making sense

Spent Sunday in South Jersey, so you know I have something funny to write.

By the time my mom and I got to her house (she'd picked me up in Marcus Hook and then we paid a visit to my grandmother in the hospital), she and I were both hungry. I rummaged for a GF cookie (SCORE, mom always has GF goodies for me) while baking a GF pizza (did I mention SCORE) and she heated up some soup/chili creation that was potentially not GF. She said that I had to try out her new bed--my parents recently bought one of those Sleep Number beds, so of course, they've spent the last few weeks playing with the settings. Not having much else to do but wait the 8 more minutes on the oven, I took my cookie and climbed into their bed. She laid on one side, I laid on the other, and we both deflated our respective sides before inflating them fully.

At some point (we were laughing, though that's not exactly a time-stamp), I looked at my chest and said, "Oh, I'm getting cookie crumbs all over your bed!"

My mother replied, "Don't worry... Your dad gets his nuts all over the bed..."

Uh. Thanks?

To be fair, though, I must explain. NO, REALLY, I MUST EXPLAIN! She wasn't talking about his man nuts (oh dear god, I hope she wasn't talking about that)--she was referring to my father's practice of bringing snacks to bed--his bedside table holds an alarm clock, a lamp, a package of cheese and peanut butter crackers, a wicker basket of fun-size candies, a half-eaten bag of Tostito's, and--usually--a big jar of mixed nuts. My dad is a right mess.

Once she realized what she'd said and what it could mean... well it was all she could do to not pee up her own bed.

Next time: socks socks and more socks: a picture post!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Needle-ful things

Since I'll be sorta downtown today, I'm going to swing by Rosie's on my lunch hour to get some US1 circs. For those that care, I do not have these needles in my stash already--I have loads of US0 and 00 circs, but no 1s!

The socks I'm working on US1 dpns are progressing slowly and I think there're two reasons for that, both of which are directly related to the needles. One, I'm afraid I'm going to break these fat, oversized toothpicks (you might know them more commonly as Clover bamboo), so I'm deliberately going slower. Two, the size stamp is rather rough and actually prevents the stitches from slidely smoothly across the needle. I tried knitting looser (especially on the K all rounds), but the stitches still got hung up at the same spot. And it's not just one needle that has a rough spot--all 5 of them do!

I suppose I could lightly sand the rough spot, but all of our sandpaper is at the Mechanical Engineering Department at Temple. You know, because that's where a homeowner's sandpaper should be...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Everyone loves pictures!

Lately, this is how I've been doing business: never without a glass of wine nearby. This particular wine's name escapes me, though I can tell you it was fresh, fruity, and light. I'm more of a red wine girl, but this white went well with our dinner that night as well as with my knitting later on.

Anymore, this is what our cat does when Mike gets home: makes a lot of noise, eats two bites of food, and then jumps on his lap at the first chance. Mike's grown accustomed to eating his dinner with his elbows at odd angles. And the lap-snuggling isn't limited to the couch--putting on his shoes, sending an email, taking care of business... Any time there's a Mike-lap available, this cat is ON IT. See--there is a sweet side to The Meanest Cat In World.

There ain't nothing a good thwacking can't soften. This is a shot of my rinsed and thwacked doubles. As promised, the spinning unkinked some and softened a LOT. It's still wool, it's just no longer farm-style Brillo pad. I have some sunny yellow and orange Lamb's Pride in the stash that might get paired with this when I get around to knitting with it.

If I'm not drinking wine these days, it's because I'm drinking Mike's second homebrew/first batch of hard cider. It smells like champagne and tastes like dry baked tart apples. In other words: perfect. It's not as boozy as we'd hoped, but that's fine by me. I've got about a case and a half of this stuff left (started with just under two cases), so if any of you locals want a taste, call me.

Neatly stored DPNs. Doesn't look like 85 individual needles, now, does it?


Not-so-neatly stored circs. They are, however, stored according to size. Now that I have the Denises, though, I'm tempted to get rid of all of my circs between size US 5 and US 15. But you know how temptation is... Also, I made the circular needle holder. *ting*

We all know about the magic potential of wardrobes, right?

Yeah. There's some stash stashed in there...

But the good stuff is mostly in the 5 bins on top of the wardrobe. The ceiling fan makes it sometimes rather difficult to get at the overhead yarn, though so far neither limb nor fiber has been injured.

I lied about cross-stitching and machine sewing and whatever else taking over my life after I finished Mike's socks (by the way, he did surrender them to be laundered...). I cast on for the first Jaywalker on Monday, as I mentioned before. This is attempt number 2. I absolutely LOVE this pattern. It is so much fun to see the zigs and zags. And even though the pattern is predictable, the short color repeats of the yarn keep it interesting. I'm using Rhinebeck '06 stash: Great Adirondack Soxie in Old English. Or, as I like to call it, Malt Likka. Jaywalker's pattern works perfectly with my color name because, let's face it, when you drink the malt likka, you cain't walk a straight line. Yes, I said cain't.

Finally, some black and white self-portraiture. With 0% chance of rain and low humidity today, I took the time to blow out my hair. I felt so pretty that I decided to play with the timer on my camera... Then, instead of holding the pose, I got distracted by something outside the window. The result? Well, you tell me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quick and dirty

Mike's socks are done--I kitchenered by midnight oil Sunday. He's worn them for two and a half days now.

I cast-on for the next pair of socks while on a Trenton-bound train yesterday. I got halfway down a Jaywalker leg and then realized I'd dropped a stitch 3 inches back and holy hannah, there was no way I'd ever be able to pick that up. FROG.

Homebrew hard cider=good stuff.

Pictures, pictures, pictures soon, including how to hide 140 of one's 170 ball stash--no drop ceilings involved!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Spinning and Stashinization

(the art of fitting your stash in an Ikea wardrobe)
A thousand thank yous to my dear friend Anj--she graciously and willingly helped me tackle my stash. We went through everything and by the time she was ready to bike back down to South Philly, I had myself a nifty Excel file, detailing not only what was in my stash but also what I wanted to do with my stash.

It's no surprise that the bulk of my projects in waiting are socks--18 pairs are waiting to be knit. What was surprising--and kinda disappointing--was the overall amount of yarn in my stash: not more than 170 balls! I asked Mike to guess how much I had, telling him that if he guessed more I'd be entitled to purchase enough to reach that number. And, if he guessed less, I'd be able to buy more yarn simply because he's unable to correctly guess, therefore I win. He guessed low, but I'm going to hold off on purchasing yarn. At least, I'll wait until he graduates in May.

Here's a rundown of the projects I have in stash: 1 shawl, 2 cardigans, 4 sweaters, 3 felted bags, 2 felted guitar straps, and a half dozen assorted hats, scarves, and mittens. I also have yarn for about 20-30 unknown projects, including the 20 balls of cashmere I won at Sam's benefit.

A big surprise in the yarn sort-out was discovering how many needles I have... When my mom was up on Friday (she was helping me with Phase I of the craft room, which was to basically make it accessible as a room), she called me a yarn whore because every time she blinked she found yarn and 2 or 3 needles. And I KNOW I have a lot of needles... But, Excel tells me I have a problem: 17 sets of 5 DPNs (85 needles total...), from US0000 (apparently, I have 2 sets of these...) through US 10.5; 37 sets of circulars, ranging from US0 to US35; and 53 pairs of straights (106 needles!), from US1 to US17. This does not include the Denise Interchangeables I got for Christmas!

Going through the stash is very satisfying, though. In some ways, it felt like I was finding new yarns--not that I'd forgotten about any of the yarn (in most cases, I told the story of how that yarn came to be in my stash. Then I realized such tales might be borderline annoying...). But, I rarely take out all of my yarn at once. Seeing everything was more inspirational than overwhelming and I'm finding myself rather content to be stash-knitting. Further evidence: today I was in Chestnut Hill walking along the Avenue. I passed TWO yarn shops and entered neither. Willpower or not? Who knows...

Onto the spinning!

BFL doubles.

This is the fiber I cut my teeth on. It's the sort of fiber that nearly spins itself, especially once one gets the hang of a wheel.


Once I got the hang of spinning the BFL, I pulled out the fleece I picked up at MDSW '05. It's a natural color with dark fibers (blacks and browns randomly) and flecks of nearly fluorescent yellows, oranges, and greens. Spinning it on my drop spindle proved to be a pain in the ass (the spindle was too light for the heavy fiber). You can see, though, that it spun nicely on the wheel.

Little Louet that could.

Thick and thin BFL, supplied to me by Anj, via Boogie. Dear Ms. King: I cannot wait to come up to Maine and sleep on the fiber.

The spinning has taken over my craft life these last few weeks, I'll admit. In fact, several work days had me itching to get the hell home just so I could spin the day away. While there's about half of the original BFL left to spin, my MD fiber is all spun up. In fact, it's been rinsed and thwacked, and it's all now hanging in the shower, drying. I ended up with one skein of doubles and three and a half skeins of thick and thin (mostly thin) singles. There should be enough for a felted bag!

I will treat myself to some fiber, but not just yet. I've got a couple of other projects that are nearly finished, including these socks for Mike:

Austermann Step

I'm pretty satisfied with these socks--basic top-down pattern, no major surprises or pattern notes to mention. I also like that I managed to match the striping. Mike's been a very patient man, so these socks--being so close to the toe--really need to get done.

Other projects, like cross-stitching and machine sewing and jewelry making, are sort of taking over after I finish the second sock. I think, though, that the next knitting project should be for ME.

Next update: bottling home-brew hard cider. Is it drinkable, or is it apple cider vinegar?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hold my beer and watch this

Not much going on knit-wise. I'm on the foot of Mike's simple socks, but rather than forge on and finish the second of the pair (and I do love me some kitchenering... I can do that in my sleep!), I've been doing other things. Pictures and more details tomorrow, or later.

This weekend coming (is it bad that it's only Tuesday, yet I'm already talking about the weekend?) should be GOOD: friends, fiber, more friends, football, friends, and maybe even a dose of family. After Saturday, and with the gracious help of Anj, I should have a grasp on the stash. Since vowing to knit from stash after Rhinebeck, I have to say I've not really felt too much of an urge to buy yarn. And, I've definitely not felt the urge to somehow justify a yarn purchase because it's a gift, or for a project. I guess going cold turkey wasn't so bad after all...

First day back on the bike since before Christmas. I feel like it was a good ride in, despite the fact that I had to take my mountain bike. Cursed Giant and its rear tire! It's probably wrong that, as I rode in, I was thinking, "And tonight, I'll have ice cream and cake, and a bottle of wine, and it'll be ok because I'm burning calories!!!" Girl's gotta dream, though, right?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

First things meme

First Things First

What is the first thing you did in the new year?

The things I will mention include blowing horns and twirling noise-makers, dancing with my neighbor's sister on another neighbor's porch, and having a shouting match with other, unseen neighbors (we were trying to see who could E-A-G-L-E-S the loudest. I think I won.).

I won't mention the vomiting or the hangover.

What is the first thing you ate in the new year?

Half a thing of yogurt. And that was it for the entire day.

What is the first thing you knit in the new year?

Mike's socks! I'm making up a simple sock pattern, top-down, using Austermann Step in the 06 colorway. The socks feature a 1x1 ribbing at the cuff and then two panels of 1x1 ribbing along the sides. Jody once observed that I must be a tight knitter (this after sharing my purchase of 0000 DPNs), and I finally have to agree--I'm knitting these socks on US 3s and the resulting fabric is fairly dense. Perhaps this tight knitting explains my tendency to inadvertently sharpen the points of Addi circs?

What is your first ‘blessing’ of the new year?

Mike getting paid, my hangover going away!

What is the first thing you will do to make the world a better place in the new year?

I'm going to keep on with being a service-oriented person. I've found that kindness goes a lot further (especially in this line of work where I run into the ocassional crazy just a bit too frequently). I'm a big fan of getting what you give, so I try to give the best I can. And that may be the best I can do.

Post the first photo you took in the new year!

My camera's sat relatively untouched, even with the tri-state trip over the holidays. However, this old guy on the bus this morning--he got HIS picture of the New Year in just as we were passing the other train station near my house. Now that I mention it, that guy was kind of weird: as soon as I got on the bus (a stop early so I could reaquaint myself with that old mistress diet cola in the a.m.), he and his companion started complaining about what was more painful--his godchild or her pimple. Then, as we approached the above-mentioned location, he jumped up from his seat and began snapping pictures of two poor saps' fender bender (a Mini Cooper and a Honda Civic), and then sat down, proudly exclaiming, "Oh BOY, Peter Parker!"

Now, really, do I need to post a photo if I've got such a strange story as that?


One of my new favorite bloggers, as brought to my attention by Naomi, gives us astonishingly true horoscopes:

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Sometimes I save Cancer for the last, either because I can't see that far ahead into my own month or because it's too personal. This time, I rushed right to Cancer first, ready to tell all crabs everywhere that finally, hello, 2007 is here! That means we get a whole new list, a whole new year, a whole 'nother chance at love and happy and all those things we secretly wish for deep down in our crabby little hearts. Your January To-Don't is simple: Every time you start beating yourself up over something you said or did in the past, or start replaying a past mistake or bad situation in your head, STOP. And your To-Do is equally simple, but very satisfying: Use this month to exercise your future-tense daydream muscles. In place of all that time you spend in your head trying to fix or re-live the past, now just actively focus on daydreaming your future. See it in your mind, down to the shoes you'll wear. Be whoever you want to be in your futures, your fantasies, your imagination. Us crabs never fully live in the present, so if you have to choose between obsessing over the past (which you can never change) or daydreaming a beautiful future... always, always pick the future. (And yes, my daydreams include what shoes I will be wearing. Indeed!)
My To-Don't is so freakin' true. My To-Do is equally freakin' true. I believe for that future tense daydream, I have the perfect headscarf...