Archive for March, 2006

Yay!

I lost 8.4 pounds!! Woohoo!! I will celebrate by working on my cardigan, which, with luck, will be way too big for me in a year or two.

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Memento Mori

So today I was browsing the net and found out that, Tara, yet another lovely knitter from Team Cast Off has a blog, which makes me happy. (Yes, I know I am an uber-nerd, but I get a huge kick out of seeing what my knitting friends are up to online.) Anyway, while I was reading some of the many entries that I’ve missed out on, I came upon this funny story about Tara’s neverending roll of plastic wrap, and it reminded me of a story which is kind of knitting related, but mostly just weird.

I was at the laundromat, waiting on two weeks worth of laundry, knitting on my purple cardigan, when I noticed that two people, an older man and woman, that I kind of recognized. The woman I remembered for sure, as a lady who used to come to the gas station that I used to work at, and while I couldn’t place the man, it was obvious that they were a couple. The woman always wears really conservative clothes, long skirts and endless hair tied up in a bun, and the man was wearing what appeared to be a kind of dirty mechanic uniform or something. I am always running into my former customers and I usually don’t bother to greet them, since I think it would be a little weird to say, "Hi, I worked at a gas station where you bought gas and I remember you!" So I just kept working on the cardigan.

After a few minutes passed by, I kept noticing that the people kept looking at me sideways, like they were trying to place me too. Eventually, the man got up, walked over to me, and said,
"You’re that little Holly girl that used to live across the street from us!" I pretended to remember this, even though I totally had no clue what he was talking about.
"Um, yeah, that’s me! How have you folks been?" I asked. Small talk ensued.

A slight break in the story to provide some background info. My father died suddenly of a heart attack in the fall of 1999. He worked in a factory where the made printing cylinders that was somehow in cahoots with Reynolds, so growing up we always had these enormous rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc. He was the kind of person who would strike up a conversation with just about anybody, so everyone in our neighborhood knew him. Shortly after he died, we moved into a new house a few miles away. Back to the story.

So as the small talk is kind of winding down, the man says,
"We sure did like your Dad, and we were so sorry when he passed away. It was really a tragedy." So I gave the standard replies, "Thank you," and "I still miss him, but life goes on," you know, the kind of thing you say when people you barely know offer you sympathy. You appreciate it and all, but no big deal. Now here’s the weird part. The man said,,
"When y’all moved out of that house, your mother gave us a box full of aluminum foil, and you know, we are still using that foil to this day!"
Then they both got these really rapt, serious appreciative expressions on their faces, and started telling me all about the foil, how they just treasure it so much, and how much money its saved them over the years, and how they really try to save the heavy duty foil for "special occasions", and on, and on. This goes on for probably 10 minutes.

Just picture me, standing in the laundromat with people I only have the most casual acquaintance with, while they are in the throes of ecstasy over a box full of huge rolls of foil.

It was hands down the most surreal experience of my adult life.

I think what I learned from the whole thing was that the things you end up being remembered for when you die are hardly ever "big" things, contributions to society or whatever. My dad had a lot of great qualities, but he didn’t really do anything in his life that most people would consider outstanding or important. And yet for the last 6 years, these people have remembered him every time they tore off a sheet of aluminum foil. It’s kind of touching, in a weird, creepy, foil fetish kind of way.

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A week’s worth of blogging…

I can’t believe it’s been almost a whole week since I had a chance to blog! There’s been a lot going on around here, both in my knitting and regular life. Hmmm… where to start…

  • Last weekend got to go to Cincinnati with the Bob to go see our comedy idol, George Carlin. As if seeing Carlin wasn’t good enough, we also got to stay in an uber-ritzy hotel that was totally out of our league (they had valet parking!! a minibar!! room service!! a bathtub the size of my bathroom!!) AND I got to go to explore and unfamiliar yarn shop, which was… well, I’ll go into further detail about that momentarily. I think the fact that one of the socks I’m working on right now was in the same room as George Carlin is probably the coolest thing ever. (Though I had to cover its delicate, virgin sock ears for some of the jokes.) I had the time of my life, whatever that means.
  • I still have not completed a single knitting project, but I’ve been making slow but steady progress on my purple cardigan and my sock, which I have decided to affectionately name George. I have decided that my inability to finish ANYTHING is only moderately depressing, since it is almost spring anyway and I won’t really be in dire need of heavy woolen garments. Of course, now I am wanting to start on spring/summer sweaters and tanks. Must… persevere….
  • In my last post I mentioned that Mery and I met for a learn-to-spin session at Highland Coffee. Am I making progress? Well, sort of. I have to say, spinning gives you a whole new perspective on your yarn, and it makes you really appreciate all those ancient handspinners in days of yore. If I was somehow zapped back in time and I was relying on my own two hands to spin and knit myself to survival through a cold harsh winter, I would freeze to death for sure. I really, really enjoy the process though, and I have a funny feeling that I’m going to end up investing a lot of time, effort and money to this new hobby before it’s all over with. But for now, all I have to show for a week’s worth of strenuous effort is about half of a gauge swatch in something vaguely resembling Colinette point five.
  • Poor Liz  is probably ready to wring my neck after several days of trying to coordinate a yarn purchase with me so we could split our shipping costs. First I was gone all weekend, then I couldn’t remember what website we were ordering from, then I didn’t see her comment in my blog about already having picked out yarn from Simply Socks and emailed her voting for Purl Soho on the grounds that they have Koigu, which I have never knitted one stitch of and have been dying to try. I am a hurricane of miscommunication.

Purplepurl_1
But just look at the friggin’ awesome yarn I picked out from Purl! (on the right) It’s KPPPM and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Ceorchid_1
Also, I ordered a single skein of this weird color of Classic Elite
Premiere. (on the left) The color is called Bleached Orchid and I need 17 skeins of
it to make this gorgeous, elegant cabled sweater from a slightly older
issue of Interweave Knits. I couldn’t buy all the yarn for the sweater right
now, so I just got one skein to see the color in person (I really
wanted a more lavendary color, but this one looks interesting), and
also, I need to swatch it before I embark on the whole sweater because
it looks pretty complicated and I want to make sure I can take it on
before I invest a lot of money into it.

Before I sign off here, a quick note about the yarn store I visited during my visit to Cincinnati. I won’t name any names, but this probably was the weirdest experience I’ve had at a yarn store in a while. The shop was pretty small, but it had a lot of yarn I’d never seen before and I was happy with the selection. There were three people working in the store and from the time me and the Bob walked in, not a single one of them said a word to either of us. Not when we came in the door. Not after we had walked around awhile. Not even when I made my purchase and left! Not a "Hello", and "Can I help you?", not a "Thanks!" I don’t think I’ve ever been in a yarn shop ever where I wasn’t even greeted. Bizaaaaarro. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that they were all under one of those curses like in the Twelve Wild Swans, where they couldn’t talk for seven years or something at the risk of failing some perilous quest. (Actually, working in a yarn store would be a good place for the main character of that particular fairy tale, since she was knitting shirts out of nettles. Recent studies show that nettles are actually more pleasant to knit with than Fun Fur.) Anyhow, their somewhat odd attitude didn’t prevent me from buying a ball of Opal sock yarn in a pretty, solid pink. It’s funny because Liz and I had just been complaining about how hard it is to find sock yarns in solid colors, and here this weird shop had a whole bunch of the stuff. I only regret that I didn’t buy more. *sigh* So much yarn, so little time.

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Unstashed

All in all, this has been a really slow week for knitting (and for blogging), largely due to the fact that my roommates moved out unexpected sometime in the middle of last week and since then, I’ve been busy cleaning up their half of our apartment and rearranging things so that me and Bob have more space. (The roommates didn’t leave on bad terms or anything like that; their lives are somewhat in upheaval at the moment and they chose to spend some extended time with family, and it’s all good. We miss them, but it’s nice to have the extra space, and the ability to walk around naked all the time if we really feel like it.)

One nice thing is that with a large extra room and bathroom to spread out into, I can finally move my overflowing yarn shelves out of my somewhat crowded bedroom and into the living room, where anyone who comes to my door can be impressed (or frightened) by the amount of yarn I have amassed in my relatively short years of knitting. I took this opportunity to go through my stash, good, bad and ugly, and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Oh boy, was there ever chaff! There was a ton of yarn I bought at our local all-in-one craft store, before I knew that there was such a thing as an LYS. My early stash was very heavy on Red Heart super saver, Fun Fur, and the occasional Homespun. A lot of that has already been relegated to a box in the trunk of my car (I keep meaning to take it to the Goodwill or something), but I still found a lot of FUG that surprised me. Ok, so it wasn’t all that bad, and there is definitely a lot of cool stuff to take to the Cast Off swap this Wednesday.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find my ugliest ball of yarn, which was going to be my contender for the Ugly Yarn Contest. I won’t reveal the specifics at this time, but if I can’t find it by Wednesday I’ll be sure to dredge up a link to a picture or something so that we can all marvel at the fug together.

I’m almost done with my first sock on two circular needles, and it is looking very nice if I do say so myself. I might be able to finish it today, except this afternoon is reserved for learning to spin with  Mery! I’m super excited about this, since I’ve been wanting to learn pretty much since I started knitting, and just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I share a small amount of fear that I’ve heard other knitters express- the fear that spinning will become such an obsession that it will cut into knitting time, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. We’ll see what happens!

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Screw you guys… I’m makin’ socks!

The latest statistics (scientifically collected from my yarn shelf) show that I currently have no less than five projects in various stages of completion, and three of them are sweaters! I am surprised there weren’t actually more, but before I go patting myself on the back for my great project management skills, I have to take into account the fact that I decided that I would only count the projects I have some interest in finishing. The other ten or so things may still technically be "on the needles", but only because I haven’t had the strength of will to frog them yet.

The worst part is, I still have at least one way belated Xmas present to finish (read: start), and two more birthday presents (besides Brad’s sweater, also unfinished) that are either past due or fast approaching. And of course there’s that mounting list of projects that I really, really want to start… some geeky hats for my posse’s annual trip to Gencon, something cool for my Mom for Mother’s Day, assorted baby items for all my pregnant knitting friends… I could go on, but you get the picture. Too much to knit and not enough time.

So what am I going to do about my descent into chaos?

Nothing.

Nada.

Zip.

I’m going to finish the pair of socks I’m working on. I’m going to ignore my growing project pile.And after that, when I feel like it, I’m going to go through my stas and figure it out. I am not going to let knitting, which is one of the few things in world that gives me a genuine feeling of happiness, become another thing in my life to be stressed out about. Life is way too short. All of the knitting-related drama over the past couple of months could easily have sucked all the fun out of my crafting life, and after all that, what’s two or three unfinished sweaters?

My advice for the day for my fellow knitters is to look at what you’re working on and ask yourself, "Is this what I really want to be working on?" And if it’s not, put it down and pick up something that makes you really happy.   

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Sock Lust (that sounds really perverted)

I was going to post something brilliant and utterly relevant, but was hopelessly distracted by gorgeous sock yarn.

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Brad’s Sweater at the Speed of Light

Last night I stayed up late trying to fathom the mysteries of designing my own raglan sweater from the topdown, with the help of my trust sidekick, Sweater Design in Plain English. Even though I have a pretty good grasp on what you need to construct a raglan from the bottom up, this whole top down thing was seeming a lot more complicated, but I was still willing to give it a go.

The problem was that I didn’t realize how many measurements I would need to take from the offset! When you design from the bottom up, you really only need the chest measurement and the length from the bottom of the sweater to just shy of the underarm, and eventually the length of the sleeves. Apparently, when you design from the top down, you need about 8 different measurements of assorted body parts, like the back of the neck, the depth of the underarm, etc.

One very compelling (and surprising, to me at least) thing about knitting a raglan topdown is that gauge isn’t critical the way it is bottom up.  This is due to the fact that pretty much everybody’s neck is about the same, and if you end up with a neckline that’s way to big, you can always correct it when you pick up stitches to make the collar. Of course, I had already made my gauge swatch, so this wasn’t doing me a whole lot of friggin’ good, but anyway….

I waited a while for Brad to get home, so I could re-measure all of these critical parts, but I waited for hours with no sign of my elusive roommate, and my fingers were just *itching* to get started, so about 11:00 pm I decided to throw in the topdown towel, and cast on 144 stitches and went to bed.

This morning, I overslept woke up at my planned time of 7:06 AM, took Bob to work (overtime sucks) and after a quick breakfast stop, sped home with a burning desire to work on this sweater, which I did. I actually knitted in some bizaare, half-awake trance state until 10:30 AM, and after noting the time, promptly went back to trance knitting until right before 12:30 PM, when I had to go back to Louisville and pick Bob up again. I was in the zone!

I got about 4 inches knit on the body of the sweater, including ribbing. Not bad, considering I only need about a total of somewhere between 12" – 14" for the body up till the underarm, at which point I have to decide if I want to take a break, knit sleeves, and join them raglan style, or if it might be more fun to split the sweater front and back, bind of for underarm holes, and then pick up stitches at the underarm and knit them down. Hmmm. I am kind of leaning towards the latter right now, but that’s one of the things I love about making a sweater this way: I don’t have to make any important decisions at the outset, and am free to pretty much figure things out as I go.

I am a little nervous about whether the sweater is actually going to fit Brad, but I guess if it doesn’t I will just have to make friends with some 8 year old goth kid. 

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