Friday, March 31, 2006

Let us be rid of it.

The weeks of agony are over. I have finished both the crochet class I was teaching and my first-ever garment.

First, I have to say that I'm pretty proud of myself. I re-wrote that pattern 3 times, actually gauge-swatched for the first time, and made something that will cover a child's arms and torso without having to resort to clever-but-awkward pinning methods. Plus I taught a good class... all the students understood the basics of very basic garment construction, and they all left on Tuesday night with at least a half-sewn-up sweater. Rock!

But. But oh my gawd I hated this whole project, kind of. It is now 4 months until my wedding and I am feeling the breath of the hellbeast of Forgetting To Do Something Crucial on my neck; during the class time I felt like I was getting robbed of precious planning/decision-making time because I had to crochet the damn sweater pieces and re-write the pattern 3 times.

It was not pretty. And the yarn kept fuzzing out and laughing at me. Bastard yarn.

Ah well. It's finished (except weaving ends), it's a birthday sweater for baby Maggie (so I can cross that off my list), and I don't have to look at it again until December (which is why the ends aren't woven in).

Project: Baby Sweater [except it's more like a jacket]
From: Lion Brand [annoyingly poorly written pattern - therefore no link]
Size: 12 months [this is highly suspect--it's huge]

Yarn: Lion Brand Velvetspun [lovely finish, but nasty habit of leaving bits of fuzz everywhere]
Meduim: Crochet

Now I can spend my time working on the three wedding-season projects I have stupidly assigned myself in a fit of martha-esque "I Can Do It All Myself!" Which sounds vaguely naughty.

I'm working on Tempting from Knitty, using Malabrigo in the Tiger Lily colorway (I needed three skeins/hanks/skanks of it and Wool&Co. had only three left and I got them! and it was awsome, I tell you!!). I haven't talked about it here because I am Sneaky McStealthypants and, well, I have fallen into the black hole of knitting where it seems no progress is made. I need 14 inches of k2 p2 rib, and I have only 8, and my goal seems ever farther.

The last picture has the most accurate color. It reminds me of orange sherbert (or sherbet or sorbet or whatever you call it. I was raised in the Midwest where it was sherbert.). I love it. I haven't picked out a ribbon for the neckline yet, but it might be a very pale green. And Oh My God I never thought I would make myself a sweater out of Malabrigo (affordability-wise) but here it is. Sigh of contentment.

I'm also hoping to make Picovoli in time for one of my four bridal showers (Shut up. I can hear the laughter.), and make it out of the KnitPicks Shine, shown here with Ziggy for your viewing pleasure.

It's the "orchid" color and in reality it has just a bit more purple to it. The blue kind of purple.

And of course, I have the wedding shawl. No, I have not yet cast on for my first lace project ever (Seriously, stop laughing.), but I have swatched (look! I swatched again! I'm a swatching fool!), and I plan to get at least one pattern repeat in today, as it is my day off work and I have nothing more pressing to do than the dishes and knitting and bra shopping.

(Quick aside: I don't remember the last time I bought a bra, but I need one for the Wedding Dress. So I'm driving up to Rockford to meet my mom this afternoon to buy me a fancy long-line pushup bra--there's a story behind this, and I'll tell you tomorrow--and probably some fancy panties that won't show under the skirt. Or I could just go commando to my wedding. Hmm..)

And holy crap, kiddies, it's a freaking gorgeous day here in central Northern Illinois. I took pictures from the building's shared balcony, but they really don't do it justice. It's sunny, it's warm (finally!), there's a nice breeze blowing through my apartment, and I am in the best mood since ... probably last summer.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Take One For The Team

Doesn't this administration have any interns?

(sent by a friend -- I don't know the original source)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Warning: Abnormal Amounts of Sentiment Present

Nine years ago today, I stood in my parents' driveway and got all giddy and almost swallowed my heart when he said "Will you be my girlfriend?" Being nervous, I immediately countered with "Will you be my boyfriend?" and he, being nervous, said "I asked you first!"

I can't believe that I was seventeen years old when we met. The next year we both went away to different schools and everyone said we'd never last. There are more fish in the sea. Long-distance relationships never work. You'll meet someone else. He'll meet someone else.

And it was hard, and over the years we have broken up and gotten back together lots of times. This time it's for ever. For ever ever. And to commemorate this amazing achievement in the relationship category, I give you...

Nine Reasons Why I Love This Man
9. Green eyes. Swoon-worthy.
8. This weekend when I was getting overwhelmed with wedding-stuff shopping, he hugged me in the store for a really long time.
7. The most thinking-of-others man I have ever met. Generous, caring, thoughtful.
6. He's an acrobat/stuntman at heart. He loves doing all these crazy flips and jumps and things that I'm too scared to do. He goads me into trying them, the is patiently supportive when I wimp out.
5. Best sense of humor ever.
4. He's not a Type A personality (I am). He calms me down and reminds me that very little in this life is worth getting that worked up over.
3. He's a handsome devil.
2. He tolerates the stash.
1. He has been so helpful in this whole wedding process that if I weren't already doing so by marrying him, I would endow him with half of my worldly goods anyway.

Nick, you're a good man. I am proud to be (future-ly speaking) your wife. Happy Anniversary.

(There were going to be pictures, but Blogger had other ideas.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My Blog, My Self

I went tanning tonight (gasp! faint! horror! what? tanning? yes!) and learned something about myself in the process.

(Don't you just love these heartwarming after-school-special-type beginnings? Gag. Yes--I went a wee bit overboard on the cheezeball factor. Life is cheezey in spots. Whatever.)

Okay. So, tonight was my first time tanning. I was waiting in line to sign up and get my splendid dark spectacles, completely surrounded by college-age women, all blonde and thin and already tan, and I felt like it was my first day of school or something. I'm 5'6" and 160 lbs (which is 15 to 20 more than I weighed in college) and have been working in a basement with flourescent lighting for the past two years. I am not at my spiffiest. Sigh. Soldier on.

I get to a room with a plastic bed (or time machine, if you watch Family Guy) and the dude kind of rushes through the spiel and I ask a question and he sort of answers before he dashes back to the desk to deal with the other people in line (for we must get our post-spring break tans. Yes.) So I strip down (I'm naked in semi-public! Dear god!) and climb into the bed and push the button and the blue lights go on and I've got my eyes firmly shut with the splendid dark spectacles over them and I'm trying to relax and then I remember something:

I forgot to lock the door.

And so, for the next eight minutes I am completely freaking out. Every sound that I hear is people opening the door to my little tanning room and making fun of my chubby, naked body with THREE MONTHS WORTH OF LEG HAIR! And I couldn't get up to lock the door because I am terrified of those blue lights and what they might do to my eyes and what if I go blind and oh my god everything is awful.

And then it was over and I got dressed and left. And no one pointed, laughed, or combined the two so I think I was just imagining the public mocking. (but I will shave my legs before the next time I go. Probably.)

So, perhaps I had a point around here somewhere? Ah yes. The point is that I haven't really written about much other than knitting here, and it was because I feared the public point-and-laugh (or worse, the chasing-everyone-away). Ridiculous, really. I started this blog to join the crochet/knit/yarn community in a bigger way and it's silly to think that I could only write about yarn-related topics for the rest of my life.

If I tell the internets (or the 7 people who read this stuff) about my weight and my leg hair... I don't know what will happen. But it beats hiding behind yarn.

(oh my god, I just visualized playing hide-and-seek in a huge yarn shop. That's probably what heaven is like.)

(and did you notice the kind of (okay, a lot) cheezeball ending? Full circle, man. It's awesome.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Drunken Knitting

A few weeks ago (or was it last weekend? I have no idea) I taught some friends how to knit.


Let me be a little more precise.

We were drinking and the yarn and needles came out and there was some learning, but it's unclear at this point how much actually stuck.

Trying to teach the long-tail cast-on while drinking a beer was quite an experience. Which became easier once I said "Think of your thumb and forefinger as a speculum." I imagine that only works with women.

L. and C. both learned how to cast-on (we will have the largest dishcloth ever when we're done) and knit, and have declared knitting the new preferred pastime when drinking. The dishcloth is now the community dishcloth and everyone will be made to knit a few when throwing back a few.

At least, these were the rules we came up with after several rows and several more beers.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fish Don't Fry in the Kitchen, Beans Don't Burn on the Grill...

Is it in fact possible that 12 of you are spending more than an hour at my blog?
That's what Statcounter is telling me, via the little yellow piece of the pie chart.
Alright, who is it?
Mom? Is it you?

Because really, though I find myself terribly witty and highly amusing at all times, I don't know that twelve other people--to whom I'm not related--think something similar.

(But if you do, that's awesome and I appreciate the curve-setting.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kiss Me, I'm Irish

(at least in theory)

I found this picture on my work computer today. That's Maribeth, me and Laura on Christmas Day 2004.

My sisters are amazing. Laura is going to Library School, working part time, and helping me plan the heck out of my wedding. She's doing a damn good job of it, too. She also drove to DeKalb from Rockton (driving time: 1 hour) to see me on Tuesday night, because she wanted to give me a hug. She's a super lady.

Maribeth is a CNA, working full-time and going to school full-time. She is the bubbliest, happiest person I know, even when she's tired and cranky. Making her smile is so easy. She is recently engaged, but told me that she didn't want to steal my thunder (her words) and usurp (my word) my star-of-the-show "Bride!" status. Thoughtful doesn't begin to describe her.

I'm super lucky to have these wonderful women as sisters (and bridesmaids!) and I wanted to tell the world that I love them. And I did.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Snarky McCheerfulpants

I just looked out the window and it's snowing again. Yesterday it was 42 degrees. Today we're supposed to get anywhere between 5 and 7 inches of snow (do you remember that album by that one-hit-wonder rapper Snow? I just remembered that and instantly returned to junior high... ...and I'm back). March is such a schizophrenic month.

Over the past few days I've been feeling a wee bit schizoid myself. I've been kind of cranky about this crocheted baby sweater class, because I have to work on it, rather than on what I want to work on, namely:

The cast-on stitches for the Tempting sweater, which I worked while my wrists were recovering (because that was all I could do, and I needed to work on something. You know). This is the Malabrigo 100% Merino in "Tiger Lily" and I loves it. It's mine, my own, my precioussssss.

(Oh, and I've been re-watching Lord of the Rings extended versions with the extra stuff. In case you were wondering.)

Or, I could be working on this:

which is the wedding shawl in its larval form. Yes, I have yet to seriously cast on for that thing. I'm annoyed with myself and with my wrists and with the crochet sweater class and with the weather, which has nothing to do with my ability to cast on, but is easily blamed because it doesn't talk back. Much.

I'd also like to be working this stuff up:

This is recycled sari rayon, and I have it earmarked for a throw pillow. Maybe I'll get another ball or 3 and do matching pillows for the couch. (Our current throw pillows are in a bad way.)

I'd even be happy to work on this thing:

My first ripple afghan. It's freaking huge. Five-and-a-half rows of this stuff takes up ONE skein of yarn. I think I have 9 skeins. Fortunately it's Red Heart TLC Essentials in "Falling Leaves" and I can find it anywhere, really.

Pica said something in the comments the other day about crochet being worked with acrylic, and knitting not so much. I'm so with her. I never got snooty about fiber until I started knitting, probably for two reasons. One, I was introduced to more varieties of fiber as my experience grew. Two, (and I must stress that this is only my opinion, and you can't flame me for having an opinion) I think knitting is prettier and is a better setting for prettier yarns. That's what I think.

So, what was my point? Oh yes, that I feel schizo for some reasons which I am in the process of outlining. To wrap up the first reason, I would rather be working on anything you saw above than on this crocheted baby sweater. I won't even show pictures because it is just so boring. It's just squares so far, and it's been making me crazy. (although the pattern-clarification went pretty well, minus the sleeves which I still have to work on--aaargh!) But, as today is my day off work I get to stitch on the sleeve (shudder) AND on the sweater and the shawl. Hooray!

I was also snarking because I had this big bill to pay, and I didn't think I'd be able to pay it. Sad! But then I did some looking-into and whatnot and I can pay it! Hooray! Working lots of overtime and not going buckwild on yarn has paid off! Happy! Exclamation points!!

Reason #3: Work was starting to make me nuts. Our town turns 150 years old this year (a mere babe compared to towns on the east coast, yes, but a big deal to us) and the Library is involved in the kicking-off of the celebrations due to the time capsule being buried on our grounds. I've been busy making informational bookmarks, posters, brochures and many other semi-exciting things for this event, which is April 2nd. Busy busy busy. Sad! But then I heard that we are getting raises for the first time in two(? three?) years. And I couldn't be happier. Happy!

And the best reason ever to be happy, despite the snarky weather, is that one year ago today, Nick asked me to marry him. We were on the shore of Lake Michigan and it was beautiful, and when he asked me to marry him I burst into tears and burst out laughing at the same time. One of my prouder moments, really.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Today's meltdown brought to you by witless trolls

I was finally able to stitch this weekend (hooray! and thank you to everyone who wished me better wrist health!), and I had to crochet a baby sweater.


Not that baby sweaters (or crochet!) are bad, but it's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to knit on my "wedding season" top, or on the wedding shawl (still not cast on! We have 4 months to go! I love to live on the edge!), but I had to work on this baby sweater.


Because I teach a class on how to make a baby sweater TOMORROW NIGHT. Yes, Tuesday night. And I wanted to have the entire sweater done (all the pieces, anyway) to (a) show to my students who have not made a sweater before (yes, I know that I haven't either. Shut up. I'm a quick learner) and (b) have read through the pattern so I know it's not all bollocksed up.

I have made the following progress:
The back is completed.
One of the fronts is completed.
I have determined that the pattern is written by witless trolls who know nothing of crochet but have only heard somewhere that it is a fun torture device when applied properly.

So. Thanks to the witless trolls over at Lion Brand (I cease to publicly recommend their yarn & patterns here and now, though I'm stuck with this pattern of theirs as it's so late in the game) I have to rewrite the pattern for my students and myself (it says "work buttonholes spacing them evenly on front" but it doesn't say HOW to work the damn things--as part of the rows? as a separate element? after working the front do I reattach the yarn and work side-to-side? You bastards, tell me something useful!) and do it by 7:00 tomorrow night. I also have to create other class materials, but that's more of my own fault. I can't blame the witless trolls at Lion Brand for that, much as I'd like to.

(Did you see that run-on sentence? Holy hell, my high school English teacher would be appalled. But I find it cheering. I don't know why.)

Oh, and Saturday? First time I cried about the wedding planning. Because it's a freaking nightmare, people. Absolutely insane. Limited funds + exhortation to invite the whole family (including the completely awful ones) + exhortation to invite people we don't know = impossible & tears. Fortunately we may have a solution to the madness. More on that later. Because I must go crochet a baby sweater. Ugh.

Only four entire months of insanity left to go! Yipeee!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Again With The Swag

Sometimes, working in a public library is the best thing ever.

I put out adverts for my upcoming (less than a week! Oh My God!) intermediate crochet class all around the town (newspapers, posters in the library, etc) and this lovely woman who comes into the library at least once a week called me up the other day. She asked if I could use crochet hooks for my students, as she is nearing 90 years old and the handwork has gotten beyond her. I said of course I could use them, and thank you for offering. Today she called me up and asked if I could use any knitting needles. Well of course I could, and you are a dear.

When I got back to work from my lunch break I found a bag full of knitastic goodness.

I found booklets (one from 1941)

This one has designs in it for size 35 and 50 needles, and I suspect that the enormous Reynolds Jumbo Jet needles I have are size 50 (because really, how could they not be). I'm currently holding onto the needles purely for the comic relief. I may decide to let them go (what, like into the wild?) someday. Someday, but not now.

I also found the tiniest crochet hook I've ever seen (steel size 12).

Yes, I'm sure there are smaller ones, you wacky crochet-with-cobweb purists. It's just that I own this one. And it's freaking tiny. Can't see the hook part? Neither can I, from here. Click to bigginate and you too shall bask in its petite tinydom. And in my fingerprints, if you look closely.

I also found a pom-pom maker, which is awesome.

I almost bought one the other day, and I'm uberglad I didn't. (Do you ever wish you could type an umlaut? I totally want to right now.) I don't know what those round rings are, unless they are another kind of pom-pom maker and I've just displayed my ignorance to the knit/crochet blogosphere. That would be the best thing ever.

And there were stitch holders, too.

It's kind of hard to make stitch holders exciting.

And there were all manner of needles, including this size 10 29" circular, which is awesome because I didn't own one (until now! Sweet!).

See that price? Yes, that baby was $2.50 once upon a time. Oh, for the good ol' days when a circular needle was two-fifty and all you could buy was ...Red Heart. Oh wait. Nevermind.

I also got this set of four size 4 dpns. Alumin(i)um. Pink. They are cute and I love them.

And these shorter straights, still in their Heroic cases:

Can you see those prices? Well, okay, the two on the left are plastic, but still. The alumin(i)um ones were only $1.35 once.

And here is the rest of the haul, backgrounded by my great-grandmother's quilt made of old neckties. I got lots of needles in all sizes, and my needle roll/case for long straights is almost all full.

I love the people who patronize public libraries. They're so lovely.

In Other News
My wrists feel better. I'm not going to stitch till Sunday (maybe Saturday night. Probably Saturday night--who am I kidding), but I am feeling much better. I'm stretching and moving more while I work (thanks Laura!), and throwing my shoulders back when I sit, as Heather does (although I feel all "tits-to-the-wind" when I do and feel kind of naughty about it). Charming, no?

Now I must away and sleep. Long day today. Long day tomorrow. Normal day Friday. Long-ass day Saturday. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knitter Down!

Of course this would happen now.

I have three major time-sensitive projects going right now--a sweater [my first sweater!] for myself to be worn at the various and plentiful pre-wedding thingies; the wedding shawl [my first lace project!] to be worn, you know, at the wedding; and the toddler sweater for my intermediate crochet class that begins next week... and naturally my WRISTS DECIDED TO SEIZE UP AND REBEL.


And by "seize up" I mean "tingle and become numb and refuse to allow the making of stitches of any kind, dammit." Or doing any actual paid work, come to think of it.

I went to the chiropractor yesterday, and he suggested that my wretched posture might be the most to blame, though he did say I need to stretch my forearms more than I have been. My posture has never been fantastic (except for that one time I wore the corset...) because when I was in middle school (11, 12, 13 years old) and growing, I was one of the tallest girls and I kind of slouched and hid and the boobies were just embarrassing at that point and--well, slouching was the general outcome there. Now I'm not so tall (I'm 5'6") but I still slouch (my last doctor-measured height was 5'5"-- not good!) and therefore the wrist rebellion.

I'm not allowing myself to stitch all this week [it is completely making me nuts not to stitch... what did I do before I learned? Actually watch the whole movie? And the yarn is just begging to be worked up, and I hate to disappoint it], so that I can hopefully crochet up at least part of that baby-sized sweater before the class (which is a week from tonight) starts. If I rest and ice my wee little wristies this week, they can work nicely (I hope!) next week and I can start working on the time-sensitive projects.

And that is all for now because the typing angers the wrists. We must appease the wrists. Oh, does anyone have any suggestions for stretches or other wrist care? I'd really appreciate it. And so would the wedding shawl.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This is your definition of sane?

Overheard at Chez HookOn:

Nick (upon seeing me pull out a long-forgotten crochet afghan project): "You're crocheting!"
Me (delighting in his ability to observe the obvious): "Yes. Why are you all excited?"
Nick: "You haven't crocheted in a long time and I like it."
Me: "You like it when I crochet." (massive skepticism)
Nick: "Well, it's just that when you used to crochet you weren't all insane about yarn and stuff the way you are now, with the knitting."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lifelong learning, but without the tuition

The Knitting Olympics taught me some pretty cool stuff, not the least of which was the fact that Yes! I can knit on a deadline! I learned...

  • How to wield double-pointed needles with speed and accuracy (something I never thought I'd be able to do, but I did it, and am going to start socks in a minute here)
  • How to make a hem by stitching the cast-on together with the working stitches
  • How to use the spit-splice method to eliminate the need for weaving-in ends (a lovely invention, that. I wasn't sure it would work, but I loaded up the ends with spit [holy crap, I'm talking about my spit on the internets. Hi Mom!], splayed them out a bit, and performed a mini-felting right there on the knee of my jeans. I wanted a parade or at least a banner in my honor for learning that trick. Alas.)
  • I've remembered how to curse in Spanish (or at least to combine the last vestiges of my Spanish vocabulary together and to say them with a scowl and with great force: "This feminine thing operates a vehicle crazy me!")
  • I've become extremely adept at finding new ways to curse in English (again, it's all a matter of combinations)
  • How to use the left-hand carry, in preparation for all-out picking instead of throwing. (I'm not sure if I can stick with this one. It worked really well for the knitting, but that's all I had to do. When I tried it with purling the whole thing went batshit and rebelled. I went back to throwing after the rebellion.)
  • How to make I-cord (and it's just too fun to stop)

I also learned that when one's head is 21 inches around, one should choose to make a hat that is SMALLER than one's head size, as this will provide a bit of grab round the ol' noggin and prevent drafts. I did not do this. I made my hat exactly 21 inches around. Damn damn damn damn.

It kind of fits, but could fit better. I'm dangerously close to ripping THE WHOLE THING back and starting over again and making it smaller. I feel like such a doofus.

On the whole, though, I had a superawesome time with the KO. After seeing how well I did with deadline-knitting, I've assigned myself a must-finish-by time for the wedding shawl (well before the wedding, of course). I am glad to have more than one project going again--I'm just not built for kntting monogamy.