Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Yarn Behaving Badly

(Pardon any raging incoherence. I awoke at 4:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. So I decided to inflict myself upon the internet. Because sharing is caring!!)

So, Hourglass Sweater.

Despite this project not being anywhere on the Official Project Sidebar, I've been swatching and thinking about this one a lot lately. Because it's a long-sleeved sweater, and because it's for me, and because I am a selfish ho.

My swatch reveals that this beautiful green yarn -- Araucania's Nature Wool (a purchase from the Webs booth at Stitches, and a lovely price, too) -- is knitting up at 6 stitches to the inch on size 8 (5.0mm) needles. (I would like to take this moment to say that while I love this wool and this color [number 23], the ball band is a big fat liar. It says the yarn is worsted weight. To this I say "Ha! You liar!" There is no way this stuff is worsted, unless the knitting world is playing a big joke on me. Which is possible, I guess.)

Anyway, where was I? Gauge. The pattern suggests Noro's Cash Iroha (a yarn also claiming the "worsted" weight), which they say works up to 4.75 sts to the inch on size 7 (4.5mm) needles. You see my flabbergastedness at the vast range of "worsted" weight? See? Yes, you see. (Oh, sleep, I miss you!) Okay, so the pattern also calls for 900 yards of Noro for the 37" size. I have skinnier yarn, but more of it (1560 yards) so I think I'm all set to cast on, except for the math (The Math), which I will get to.

Monday night being Stitch-n-Bitch night, we all trooped over to Heather's and she generously wound our yarn into lovely little yarny cakes of goodness.

Five skanks of yarn decided to play nicely. Unfortunately, the sixth pitched a fit unmatched except by teenage girls who want to go to the dance and wear that cute dress and it does not make me look like a floozy and that's such an old-fashioned word and my god you don't even understand me and I'm going to fling myself across my bed and cry and turn up the music real loud and pout all night long, and that'll show you.

This is what we had last night. I came close to weeping, and also to throwing it across the room. The thought of cutting the tangled part, undoing the massive snarl, and spit-splicing the ends back together did occur to me, but it was scary and I refrained.

This is what I have now. A wee half-ball of yarn, with massive snarl. I tried to work with the other end to untangle it that way, but only got a little ways in (see the mini-mash above the wee half-ball in the picture). I hope I can get the sweater out of the well-behaved five balls and not have to deal with this mess.

And because the advil just kicked in, I'm going to try to get back to sleep (yes, I know. Empty gesture. But you really don't want to see what I've been typing). I will discuss The Math later. When I have a fully functioning brain.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teevee rots your brains

But I watch it anway.

Or at least, I get DVDs of the best shows and watch them without commercials. A year later. Because I'm cheap and don't want to pay for cable.

(But broadcast TV is free! you might say. Usually, you would be right, except DeKalb is in the middle of a vast sea of corn and is nowhere near any broadcast television station. We must purchase cable to get the free stations. This explains why DVD rentals are through the roof at the library, and why VHS is still popular. Anyway, I hate commercials and I hate most of what's on, so we don't have cable TV. So there.)

We have the Netflix, and we love it for its vast array of TV shows with which to occupy our time (or to provide us with knitting time), such as the following:

The Golden Girls
Arrested Development
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
Battlestar Galactica
Penn & Teller's Bullshit

(Buffy & Angel aren't up there, because we own them. All of them. Yes.)

And here's our attempt at the create-your-own TV, courtesy of YouTube and House on the Rock. It's a wee bit lame, but it's our first attempt at the video function on our digital camera. Thanks to Nick for (... filming? digitizing?) this beauteous display of magic.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In which I wax rhapsodic

The weather is turning. Yesterday it only got as high as 67 F, and today is grey and breezy and chilly. The first fallen leaves are blowing around on the sidewalks, and some of the more forward trees in the neighborhood are putting on their flashy fall colors.

I love it*. I love autumn the most of all the seasons (unless Christmas can be counted as its own season), because it means baking doesn't involve heatstroke; there is tasty apple cider, which can be mulled and en-liquored; apple orchard!; tea!**; socks become more vital to survival (perhaps I should finish a pair?); and sweaters begin to consider leaping out of storage to wrap you in their cozy goodness.

Having finished the Tempting (to which I am done forever with linking, I'm sorry), I'm all ready to cast on for another something for me, in the form of the Hourglass Sweater (Last Minute Knitted Gifts). With one lace project, one ribbing project, one cabled project, and one project that is nothing AT ALL but moss stitch, I think a little boring-ass stockinette is perfect. And it's for me! Hooray!

* Of course, I don't love the chill so much when my freaking windows won't close all the way.

** I have joined the Knitter's Tea Swap 2, and I'm pretty excited about it. The only other swap I was in was the Scarf Swap (Julie spoiled me with a beautiful Here-and-There Cables scarf), and then I went and planned a wedding. I was way too busy to do anything but flip out about ridiculous stuff, and was getting a little jealous of my friends who were always finding new KAL or swaps or secret pal stuff to do. Now that my time is my own (ha!), I'm looking forward to getting my KTS pal assignment and putting together a package for her/him. And to drinking all the tasty tea in salute to KTS. Mmm.... tea.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who says I never finish anything?

Everybody does. And usually, they are right.

But not today.

(photo by Nick, who doesn't often photograph handknits, and who was running out the door this morning for work)

pattern: Tempting by Jenna Adorno, in Knitty winter 2004 - I made the 36" size
yarn: Malabrigo Merino worsted (215 yds/skank), 3 skanks in Tiger Lily (with not very much left over)
needles: US 8 circular & dpn

modifications: Just the yarn. When I went to Wool & Co. and asked for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, I was told they don't carry Debbie Bliss. So I hunted around the store for pretty, soft, worsted-to-heavy-worsted yarn. Fortunately, I found the last three skanks of the Tiger Lily in the store and clutched them to my bosom, snarling at those who coveted my spoils. I was also very lucky that day, as my Fairy Godmother was with me at the store and insisted on paying for the yarn. (My Fairy Godmother is a friend of the family who has taken it upon herself to spoil my sisters and me, and only recently did I learn that she is a knitter.)

time spent: I'm not even sure. I think I started in March, and ended on September 10th. So, seven months. Oh my god. That is shameful. Pretend you didn't read that.

inspiration to just finish it already oh my god: Hanging out with the Femiknitter (she has a new blog -- stop in and say hello!) and hearing of her knitting triumphs and FOs made me want to join the club and actually have a wearable FO of my very own. So I knit like a fiend and finished it and here we are.

things I learned from this sweater: I taught myself how to knit continental (picking) because I couldn't deal with the 2x2 rib in English. It was taking for. ever. With continental, I just zoomed right through, until I put the sweater down and forgot about it, or got married, or something (full props to Maggie Righetti's Knitting in Plain English for instructions on how to purl in the continental style). I also learned how to make eyelets with yo, k2tog, which was pretty awsome; how to join sleeves that were knit on dpns to the body on a circular needle; that using a metal circular makes the knitting slide along *much* easier than does a bamboo needle; and how to perform a three-needle bind off.

unofficial slogan: Ribbing sucks way less when you pick!

verdict: This is a great first sweater, in my opinion. Everything is in the round, there is no shaping, and it turns out pretty darn flattering, too. Just after I made the eyelets (about 1 inch from being done), I thought "What am I doing, making an off-the-shoulder sweater? I don't wear off-the-shoulder things. I don't wear bows. How am I going to wear a bra with this?" Well, the design is more flattering on me than I thought it would be, and I'm so *ahem* un-endowed in the boobal region that I don't really need a bra (which is good, because I only have the one straplss bra, and there are very few occasions left in my life that would compel me to wear that again). I don't think I would make this for myself again, one off-the-shoulder sweater being enough for me, but I think it's a good one.

Read all about my trials, triumphs, more triumphs, and more trials with my first-ever knitted garment. Or, to be more accurate, a chronicle of my profound laziness.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Warning: Yarn Pr[0]n Ahead

I'm feeling better. I fixed our home internet connection, the car is better (sort of) and we're looking for a new one, and I'm okay with the cost of our upcoming trip. I'm still weirded out by the ex-boyfriend asshattedness, but I'm going to ignore him.

And I have all of the bounty you see before you here:

Red laceweight, about 900 yards. The ball band is in Japanese except for the yardage. It could be called "Happy Puffy Parakeet Yarny Yarn!!!!!" for all I know.

Sock yarn. Fleece Artist Basic Merino Socks in Marine; KPPPPPPPPPPPM in P822 (it's handwritten on there under "dye code", so I'm guessing that's the colorway number? maybe?). I choose to think of it as lemongrass (there's a bit more yellow in there than is visible in the picture).

Noro Daria, in color #1. Likely destination, Corded by Grumperina. I've been wanting to play with this stuff ever since I first saw it. Mmmm... shiny.

Louisa Harding Grace - Silk & Wool in Silver. It was pretty. It still is pretty. I am in love.

The mystical and coveted Orange Chibi.

And that's my haul from Wool & Co. back on Friday, September 1st. Enormous thanks to Anna, Heather & Sandi who gave me a big fat gift certificate (of which I used every bit). You ladies rule.

(Yes, all the yarn is for me. Yes, I did intend to purchase yarn for Nick's sweater. Yes, I'm a selfish, horrible woman. I don't care. I have pretty yarn for me.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

So. Annoyed.

For the following in-no-particular-order reasons:

1. Our intardnet connection at home decided to seize up, so we are paying Comcast about $2.00 per day for nothing at all. It could be the modem, it could be ... not the modem. Nobody knows. But it would cost us $75 for some dude to come out and tell us one way or the other, and then probably $60 or more for a new modem. Effing machines!

1a. Because of the intardnet non-connection, I can't show you pictures of happy new yarn, or my oh-so-close-to-being-done Tempting sweater, or the crazy huge granny square I crocheted on accident, or the strange new way Nick is using my giant knitting needles. (Get your mind out of the gutter--I heard that!) All those pictures are on my home computer, and not here. Effing machines!

1b. I am blogging at work, because this internet connection is working properly. I keep having to hide the blog Create Post page behind the circulation module or something.

2. Work level this week: much higher than usual. Stress level: much higher than usual. So I guess I don't feel too badly that I'm blogging while at work on a Friday afternoon.

3. Nick's car decided to part ways with its radiator hose on Wednesday night. This is costing us an amount which, while not extreme, is still uncomfortable. The car is on its last legs (rims?) and we're starting to think about a new-to-us car. Ack.

4. We're planning a trip to The House On The Rock with our neighbor friends, and I just checked out the admission prices. $26.50 per person. (And here is where I start to sound like an old curmudgeon...) When Nick and I went there last, and granted it was 8 years ago or something, the prices were a much more reasonable $17-ish per person. Now it's fifty-three dollars just to get two of us into the place which is very awesome and totally stunning, but fifty-three dollars people? Come on! Plus the gas to get up there, plus we might be renting a car (what with all the car death going on), plus food.

So yes, I am annoyed. But it's Friday afternoon, the sun is out, and this little guy just stopped by again:

... or not. Blogger, you asshat.

Effing machines!

ETA (at 1:15am): #5. Apparently an ex-boyfriend (from HIGH SCHOOL, no less!) has located my other email address (not the one I have up on this blog) and has sent me a truly strange email in which he assumes he is "#1 in [my] heart" and professes to "love [me] always." Oh, and he also included his high school football jersey number. I really really want this to be spam, but all signs point to genuine ex-boyfriend-asshattedness.

If, by this point, you have assumed that things ended weirdly or that he was the emotional troll named Brian mentioned here (scroll down to the paragraph in parentheses), you would be correct. Of course, he may not be a complete fuckwit these days, but one must make assessments based on one's own experience, no?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dear Anonymous-Of-The-Vegan-Fiber Question

Dear Anonymous,

You asked (very politely, I thank you) about the perhaps discrepancy between my vegan values and my use of animal fibers. Here's the short-ish version:

While I dislike animal cruelty, and don't personally (or in general, really) see a need to continue eating meat or consuming other animal products, I'm a big fan of renewable resources (acrylic & other fibers made from petroleum products clearly are not), that don't introduce crazy amounts of pollution into the environment (like cotton, though I do use cotton, and I have tossed and turned on this one too), and that keep my toesies warm in the winter (bamboo, rayon, modal, etc, all have great drape and shine but don't have the insulating properties that animal fibers have). (My, what big sentences I have!)

My stupid self used to be the kind of vegan who judged and thought less of people who didn't recognize vegetarianism/veganism for the amazing panacea that it obviously (note mild sarcasm) was. Now, I don't really care what you eat/wear/knit with, but I will talk about the factory farms and the massive evil that is our food supply if it's appropriate to the conversation. Veganism is, to me, about educating oneself and others (gently! not obnoxiously!) about what it is we consume. It's also about doing what you can to make the world a little more healthy and a little less cruel. My personal feeling on that at the moment falls under the thinking that a happy & healthy world is a world that uses its renewable resources responsibly.

Plus I like the way wool feels.

It's not a perfect philosophy, I guess, but it works for me and I'm open to learning more about all aspects of it.

And I appreciate you asking in a totally positive and non-judgmental way. Thank you!

Are there any other vegan knitters out there who use animal fibers (I'm probably the only one, with my weak moral fiber [ha!] and all), or vegans who use synthetics only? Or non-vegans who want to weigh in (nicely)? I'd love to hear more opinions on this topic.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Perfectest Day

Today has been just the peak of lovely.

The weather has been beautiful--mid to upper 70s, sunny, breezy...

Just now I was listening to Cast On while knitting on Tempting, while Nick experiments in the kitchen with a dolmades recipe (I love when he tries new recipes), and with the sunset and the pretty light and a tasty glass of red wine...

And today a dear friend who has moved to the East Coast, and with whom I had lost touch, dropped in to see me at work. Completely took me by surprise, as we haven't seen each other in ... two years? Three years? I don't remember (plus the wine!). Anyway. She is in the area visiting her family over the long weekend and dropped in to see me.

I can't even express how happy I am to reconnect with her. We met on a school-sponsored summer trip to Oxford in 2001 ... actually met while sitting up all night at Heathrow (my plane got in much later than expected). Those six hours of non-stop talking (because we're both good at the talking) made it pretty clear that we were of like mind ("You voted for Al Gore in the last election? So did I!!" "You like the Indigo Girls? So do I!!").

We talked at the library for a while, and then we had lunch together at the Thai place in town and it was just like old times, but better. It turns out she's a knitter ("You're a knitter? So am I!!") and has been surreptitiously reading my blog for a while now and knows what I've been knitting (and oh my god, she knows what kind of sentence structure I have [she was an English major] and I'll have to fling myself from a bridge into the raging waters of the mighty Kishwaukee river as a sacrifice to the grammar gods). It was great to catch up on old stuff, new stuff, and knitterly stuff ("You made wrist warmers? So did I!!" "You made Clapotis? ... That's great!") (She's been knitting longer than I have. My excuse.).

I am so happy she stopped in, and so happy to have her in my life again. What a delight. This is way better than yarn shopping stories (but I'll tell you all about that later, I promise).

And because I know she'll get a big kick out of this...

This is the 3rd Quad of Oriel College. We spent an entire weekend inside this quad once. We made it our goal to not leave 3rd Quad for any reason. I think we sent kind gentlemen out for pizza in order to keep up our strength. (I lived up a staircase just out of frame on the right)

This is the Radcliffe Camera. It smells of old books, and is quite possibly the earthly representation of paradise. We walked past it a lot. I never got inside, and I don't remember if she did.

The gate into Oriel College.

And that is my perfectest day that makes me smile. Hooray!