Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Up to here

I am upset.
I am just about ready to scream highly offensive things at inappropriate times.
I am close to saying Just Fuck Away Off You Damned Inconsiderate Bastard to several people (or groups of people) (or my own body).
I can't do this because these are people (or groups of people) (or body parts) with whom I must share some part of my life or space or time, and can't afford to anger them in the way that would please me most.
The weather (grey and dreary and unseasonal) isn't helping.

Dare I knit? It soothes the savage beast, but will the savage beast scare the stitches into tiny shrunken unusable versions of themselves?

And of course this whole rant was just made to sound WAY more pathetic and whiney by a co-worker who dealt with four very pleasant people at the Reference Desk just now, and whose mood was vastly improved because of it. Dammit.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pretty much a direct rip-off

This post is essentially a "homage" (a better word than "rip-off" I feel) to Femiknitter's most recent post, because it's Sunday and what the hell -- I'm going to say some of the same things, so why not acknowledge the similarity (or "rip-off") and just go with it? Why not indeed.

My Thanksgivings (one on Thursday, one on Friday) were good, overall. The one on Thursday was laid-back, calm, and had an 11-month-old baby to entertain the family. The one on Friday was, um, not as laid-back or calm, was running late on everything which contributed to my bread not rising, and didn't have a cute baby to entertain us all. Although my grandmother did keep touching my stomach and hinting that I should be pregnant, a joke that was kept up all day despite my many glasses of wine. Obviously, I ought to be knocked up after only four months of marriage. Delightful! I love my family!!

But everything was easier to deal with when I thought of the totally awesome package sent to me by none other than Femiknitter, which arrived on Wednesday. (click to bigginate)

(everyone tries to lick their elbow. I did. So did Femiknitter. In the store.)

She sent me Vesper sock yarn in Tartan! I've been looking at Vesper and wanting to try it out, and she totally read my mind. I love the Tartan colors, very winter-cozy-by-the-fire.

Of course, it remains to be seen how fast this yarn becomes socks. Have you seen a completed sock on this blog? Or on hers? No, you haven't because there are none. Maybe this is the push I need to stop hoarding sock yarn and make some damn socks, already. Maybe.

The last time we hung out, Femiknitter told me about this musician and this CD, with music all about the great and mispronounced state of Illinois. And now I have my own copy.

And this was a complete surprise -- she loaned me The West Wing! I have never seen this show, and now I can watch enough to get myself completely hooked and desperate for more. Yes!

Hooray for happy packages that lighten the holiday mood!

And because she did it, I'm doing it too:

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Knitting content should grace the pixels of this blog soon. I'm making good progress on the Margaret Scarf, I think. And I'm considering casting on for something for me. And there is wee knitting to show off, and additional wee knitting to consider casting on.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


First, thank you to everyone who thought about Nick and I (whether you commented on the post or not) over the weekend. We both read the comments and felt warm fuzzies in the form of knitterly support. Thank you.

ETA: to answer Pica's question about the deer -- yes, it is totally dead. Our car is still in the hands of the body shop, and we haven't heard from them yet. And I get to take Nick's sutures out tomorrow morning. (!!!)

Second, due to the impending holiday my knitting is taking a backseat to the madness of preparation and logistic impossibilities that come up when two people are suddenly thrust into one-car-having when they are accustomed to two-car-having. I have today off work and would love to say that I'll be spending it knitting away at some lovely thing while listening to the mellifluous tones of Jim Dale reading Harry Potter. But alas. I have to pre-prepare our Thanksgiving meal, organize my errands to take place in very close proximity to one another, and bake some bread.

I'm actually pretty excited about the bread -- I bought a bread cookbook (a bakebook?) a few months ago and it's got all these recipes from around the world, and it's very very cool. When I brought it home and showed it to Nick, he mentioned a bread he knew from childhood that was the epitome of breads, the best of breads, and it was called Olive Oil Bread. The other day I flipped the pages of my new bakebook and came across Olive Oil Bread. I'm going to make it for him (and share it with the rest of the family, of course) and I'm totally excited about it. Whee!

Third, nature photos.

And that is all, for I am tired and must away. Tune in next time, when we hope to bring you more knitting content, of the no-reason-to-panic variety.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why I Hate The Deer

Yesterday was the first day of firearm deer hunting season in this part of Illinois (possibly for the whole state. I don't know.). It is also mating season for the deer. This combination of sexy hormones and un-sexy fear makes the deer go completely batshit crazy.

Just how batshit crazy do they go?

Well, one went so batshit crazy that it attempted to LEAP OVER MY HUSBAND'S CAR while he was driving 65 miles per hour. And missed.

The car caught the buck in the ribs, its head caved in the windshield (but did not go through), its hind end hit the driver's side window and shattered that entire thing, and rolled up over the roof.

Nick is fine. He has a lot of superficial cuts on his face, but he's fine. The car is less fine, but is getting taken care of (hello insurance! I love you!).

He called me just after 11:00am yesterday, while I was on my break at work and (oddly) in the middle of writing another blog post. An ambulance came out (really, he's fine -- it's just procedure) and took him to the closest hospital and I left work as soon as I found out where he was going.

Have any of you (my three readers) had to do something like this -- drive somewhere unfamiliar in a stressful situation? I had no idea where I was, but I was watching for those blue "H" signs that directed me to the hospital. I had no idea where I parked, or how I got in the door. My mind wasn't really on those unimportant details.

When I got there and saw him kind of bloody (superficial cuts to the head generally bleed more than you think possible -- think professional wrestling), I lost my cool for a moment and cried, but recovered because really, he was fine and he was hugging me and it was all okay. Then I helped him get the glass off his head and clothes, and kept wanting to hug him every 30 seconds. We waited a long time for the doctor (another, more urgent case was helicoptered in) and I knit on the only thing I had in my bag, the candy striped sock, to keep myself from flipping out (because even though I knew everything was okay, and he was okay, and I could see him in front of me being very visibly okay, I was still dealing with the adrenalin and what-could-have-happened. Fun!!).

Of course, for the life of me I couldn't remember how to make the pattern when I pulled out the sock. It just went completely out of my head. What was I going to do, not knit? I just knit plain around, because I think I forgot how to purl as well.

Everything is okay. Nick is okay (two stitches, which I watched with much fascination and enthusiasm, for which I felt only slightly guilty), the car is being taken care of, and I have my husband (of three months) home with me and I can hug him whenever I want. So it's all okay.

And that, my friends, is why I hate the deer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Rule of Sevens, which today is the Rule of Fours

I try to find balance when I complain about crappy things by thinking of an equal number of happy things. Sometimes the happy things distract me from the crappy things. Try it. It may improve your mood. Maybe.

And the number seven came out of nowhere, except that was the number of things I was bitching about the first time I tried this. And it's four today, because I am tired. See #1 immediately below.

I Can Certainly Live Without These Things
1. This chest cold. I started to type out a description of my experience with this cold, but even I got grossed out. So, I have this chest cold and it completely sucks.

2. This grey, gloomy weather. The lighting is no good for taking yarn pictures.

3. The fact that -- after 26 years of working as a team -- my left eye is now worse than my right eye, lens-prescription-wise. When I got glasses for the first time back in 6th grade, my eyes were the same prescription. They've continued working well together (and saving me money, because when I lost one contact lens, I could just use one from another set and not have to worry about which eye it belonged to) for 14 years, until last week. Then the left one went all wonky. The sinister bastard.

4. My apartment ... well, I suppose I need it for the shelter and all, but damn is it feeling small right now. And dirty (not its fault -- I've been sick and Nick and I have both been busy). And annoying (I challenge you to get anything out of my microwave or nearby cupboards without hitting your head on the stove hood). And small. Quite, quite small. Not designed to hold all our stuff. Sigh.

I Cannot Live Without These Things
1. Wendy Bernard's new pattern Sahara (over at StitchDiva). I am more than a bit smitten with this sweater. I'm ignoring the fact that the blurb says it's an intermediate project, because in my brain I *am* an intermediate knitter, not a mere new-to-sweaters, can't-finish-anything kinda knitter. I will make this sweater, as [insert deity here] is my witness!

Seriously, this thing is beeeyoooteeful and it calls to me with a sweet, sweet voice made of silk and candy. Because I have a hundred other projects on the needles/hooks (in various stages of construction) I'll have to wait on this one, but that just gives me time to dream and lose weight. Perfect!!

2. Classic Elite's Tweed Four (booklet 9078). I have an unhealthy need to make the cover sweater (the brown one with cabley goodness on the chest above the boobal area), possibly in a pretty, deep red. I showed the pattern to Nick and he made the "ehhn" face and said "I don't like the twisty things." You mean the cables? The beautiful cables? The design feature to which I have pledged my very life? "Um, yes?" No, silly beloved man, no. You may not dislike those cables, for they are the essence of all that is good upon this earth.

3. Myrna by White Lies Designs. This is another perfect sweater, although I see a stripe-free and longer sleeve on this sweater in my future. The sweater is great, but I think the stripes create a bit of a target, look-RIGHT-here effect and that's something I can really do without, to be honest. We don't need to draw attention that much. The design is beautiful, and simple, and tres 1940s, and oh yes it is also MADE WITH RIBBING. We have discovered the true root of my obsession.

4. Lizard Ridge by Laura Aylor in the last Knitty. My first thought when I saw this pattern was, for some reason, "ehhn." Probably because it's an afghan and knitting something as large as an afghan intimidates the bejeezus right out of me. But as I kept looking at it (because I return to websites that haven't changed to stare at the pretty pictures. What?), it grew on me like ... something growy that isn't disgusting (I'll think of something in a minute). I love the bright colors and how they go together, I love the wavy stitch pattern, I love the fact that it's made of blocks and therefore (a) is portable and (b) can be worked over a long time. Because the thought of going out and purchasing 21 balls of Noro Kureyon right now makes me break out in hives. But I can do one at a time, and perhaps convince my Mom &/or Nick that Noro makes a great stocking-stuffer.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One of Four

I have finished one of the four promised bridesmaid gifts. This one is Maribeth's scarf, finished posthaste after a pointed observation about the growing chill in the air.

It's the FO I mentioned before, and here it is all pinned out for her block party. Heh.

Left = before; right = during. I love how the ribs have opened up.

Here it is all foldy. I'm totally impressed with blocking. It makes the scarf look fantastic and semi-professional. (I'm tooting the horn of Blocking, not my own. My stitches looked fairly squashy and uneven before the voodoo that is Blocking.)

Even the edge stitches look better. Does everyone know about this? I have the urge to become a blocking evangelist and travel the world telling every knitter about this fabulious (that's right, I'm keeping that word) technique and how it can save humanity by stunning us with its transformative power and making us speak softly and offer tea and cookies to one another.

Except I'm probably the last knitter on earth to have found out about the magic of Blocking (I think it deserves to be capitalized, don't you?). Ah well. I'll keep my eyes open for the tea and cookies then, shall I?

And here it is, all wrapped up and on its way to my sister. Hooray!

Pattern: None, just 3x3 rib over ... um... 30 stitches, I think.
Yarn: Catalina Chunky 100% baby alpaca (109 yds per skank) 2 skanks
Needles: US 10 (6.0 mm) aluminum circulars, inherited, unknown origin.
What I Learned: How to wash and block a finished object, which I had never done before.
Thoughts: I love the softness, but hated the bloomy-ness of this yarn. I kept sneezing all the time, and didn't like that my shirt fronts looked like I'd been wrestling cats after a knitting session. The yarn was splitty and loosely plied, too, which slowed me down a bit. But the color (natural - 101) is beautiful and will go well with Maribeth's winter coat (and I have some more natural colored alpaca -- Classic Elite -- which may be a hat to match later on).

One down, three to go.

Oh, and did you remember today?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What kind, indeed?

Overheard tonight Chez HookOn:

[Nick prepares to leave for the game store (the "dork forest" as a friend of ours calls it) for to play Magic:The Gathering]

Me: "Ooh, look out! Don't step on the [finished object to be announced later] on the floor. I'm blocking it."
Nick: "You're blocking it?"
Me: "Yes, that's when you soak the [finished object] and then pin it--"
Nick: "I know what blocking is."
Me: "You do?" [amazed that some of my knitting babble actually stuck]
Nick: "Of course I do. What kind of knitter's husband would I be if I didn't know what blocking meant?"

I love this man.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Day of the Dyed

First: Did you go VOTE?

Warning: This post contains many pictures (but really, you should expect this from me by now). I apologize to anyone using dial-up internet service.

Credit Where Credit is Due: I followed Nicole's great tutorial on dyeing yarn in her dorm room. As my kitchen resembles a broom closet, her instructions worked really well for me.

It all started with some KnitPicks Bare Superwash/nylon sock yarn, and four little jars of dye (also from KnitPicks. Maybe I should just buy stock in that company and reap the benefits of my unstoppable shopping habit? Maybe?). And then we skeined up that yarn into the Giant Loop Of Doom at Heather's a couple weeks ago, with the help of Tipsy the Cat (who enjoyed trying to kill the yarn every time I walked around the chairs).
Then (time lapse narration here -- there were about 2 weeks between skeining and the "then"), I put the yarn in a pot filled with water and a glug of vinegar and soaked it overnight.

(I floated a smaller pot lid weighted with a glass jar on top of the yarn, as it had a tendency to pop up out of the water.)

On Friday (the Day of the Dyed) I took the yarn out of the giant soaking pot (after getting anxious looks from Nick -- "That's my good pasta pot. Are you going to be dyeing in that?" So cute.) and put it in the colander over a bowl to drain...

... and set up the table for some hot dyeing action. Yes!!

Lots of layers of Saran wrap all over my table. Like an idiot, I didn't put anything under the table. Thankfully the dyes didn't decide to go exploring.

By this time I had Anna (who had done some dyeing herself the day before) and her boys, Heather, and Beth all over because no one in our group has ever dyed before and the process was intriguing to all of us. At one point I got irrationally nervous because everyone was looking at me and I really had no clue about what I was doing. But then I calmed down, because they had no clue about what I was doing either, so I could totally wing it.

And the dyeing began. You can see that the Giant Loop of Doom was too big to lay out on my puny little table (but thanks, Mom & Dad, for giving to to me for free!!). I had to make a double-layered "C" out of it, but it worked.

I started with the yellow/orange (1/4 tsp yellow, 1/8 tsp salmon), moved to the blue (1/4 tsp sky blue), and on to the pink (1/4 tsp pink)

Bright, isn't it?

Then I wrapped the whole thing up in the Saran wrap...

... and plunked it in a Pyrex baking dish (I spiralled it all up first) and put it in the microwave.

Now, Nicole's tutorial says she microwaved her yarn (this sets the dye) for 4 minutes, let it rest, cooked for 4 minutes, let it rest, and cooked for 2 minutes. I followed this exactly, not remembering that sometimes, some microwaves are stronger than others and that my microwave is a big beefy bodybuilder in the land of microwaves.

I burned my yarn.

When I took it out of the microwave, I noticed these dark spots on the pink and yellow bits. I thought the blue dye had migrated and I was kind of sad, but thought "Oh well, it's my first attempt and everything else was going so well and this is just a little bump in the road and it's not so bad and it'll be okay and DAMMIT!" When the yarn had cooled and I was rinsing it, I still thought that it was the dye. After a long stint of drying in the shower, I realized what it was.

I had scorched my yarn. I am the girl who burns yarn.

Oh my god. I can never show my face to knitters/dyers again (clearly I have moved on since then). But I kept my cheery, can-do, it's-my-first-attempt-and-I'm-learning spirit about me and said "Whatever. It's my yarn and I like it!"

Then I took the Giant Loop of Doom and wound it up into a Much Smaller Loop of Doom, and this is what it looks like now:

(both pictures remarkably true to color) and I love it. It's 440 yards of sweet socky goodness. And I think it came out pretty close to the inspiration, too.

(doing the happy dance!)

What I learned: Don't drain out so much water from the yarn! Maybe temper the uber-bright colors with some softer colors next time. Always have friends around with you when you dye yarn, because the process is way more fun. Mixing colors together gets you better colors, and more bang for your dyeing buck. I am now addicted to dyeing yarn.

And now: I'm off to VOTE!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Adventures in Civic Responsibility

As you may have noticed, if you live in the USA and are not deprived of every one of your senses, election season is upon us.

I don't have cable, so that means I don't have television (too far from broadcast towers to get any sort of reception) and am happily deprived of the nasty "don't-vote-for-this-candidate" commercials, and thought I was relatively safe from all campaigning as I only listen to National Public Radio. Wrong! Apparently, it's now part of the campaign process to invade voters' homes! I have received 2 phone calls and 3 slick brochures from the Committee to Re-elect Hastert in the past week.

My thoughts on this are two-fold:

1. Do the Republicans even know who they're sending this shit to? Because I'm on the left side of things, generally speaking, and shall not be moved. Maybe they're trying to lure me over to the dark side with their waste-a-tree pamphlets and southern-accented messages saying "President Bush and I urge you to support a strong Republican candidate" ... (is the message-leaver even from Illinois?) Maybe? They're wasting their breath [metaphorically speaking], for oh so many reasons.

2. Why aren't the Democrats doing this? Or maybe they are, and they're already aware of how much of a liberal I am thus feeling no need to waste time and precious, precious money on converting me. I hope they're calling the on-the-fence voters, though. Goodness knows we need all the help we can get.

Do you know who your candidates are? If you don't, may I direct your attention to the following?:
Wiki article about House elections (I have never been happier to live in the 14th district, because here I can vote against that assmonkey Hastert.)
Wiki article about Senate elections (complete with graphics!)
Pro-choice candidate information (see? See how liberal? That's how I roll.)
Human Rights Campaign (LBGT) candidate info (again with the liberal! It's amazing!)

I'm too late to tell you to register to vote for this election, but I can encourage everyone to vote on this coming Tuesday. I don't care how you vote -- just make sure you do.

Next time: see how the Great Dyeing Party went! Same Bat-time, Same Bat-station!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Finishing a finished object, again

Perhaps you remember my Olympic Hat? It was my first project in-the-round, my first shot at dpns (I'm still not sure if I love them or hate them... it's a fine line), my first picked-up hem, and my first bout of I-cord. It was many things for me. It was also too big.

It being my first hat, I had no idea how to size it. I measured my head and got ... um, whatever measurement I got. 20 inches? I have no idea now. But I do remember that I thought "X inches, eh? Well then, the hat I am about to make must be precisely X inches itself!! I am a knitting genius! Well done, me!"

Perhaps you know what happens when you knit a hat precisely the same size as your head. It just sits there on your noggin all loosely, not grabbing, not keeping out the whistling winds of winter. My ears got cold when I wore this hat. Not very much fun.

So I decided to knit a cuff to my hat. A ribbed cuff, because as I said, I have this huge problem doing any knitting that does not involve ribbing. Thank the gods I had one ball of the yarn left over.

I started with picking up and knitting the stitches on the edge of the original hem.

*A-hem!* (hoo boy am I ever funny!) This is where I learned how to pick up stitches (don't judge -- we all learn at different speeds).

This is the cuff, about 1/3 the way through. Maybe. I can't be sure. But the ribbing -- the ribbing! It sang to me as I knit it! It looks fabulious (Hey Femiknitter!) and I love it with my whole heart.

This is the cuff, finished and bound off. (And it is also an example of me forgetting to rotate the image clock-wise. Multi-tasking!!!) I wasn't sure if I wanted to attach the end of the cuff to the inside of the hat, and in the end I decided not to attach it. Partly because I thought non-attachment would improve the fit, but mostly because I couldn't figure out a lazy way to do it.

My noggin, as encased in the hat. See the grabbiness? See?

Now you can see the grabbiness. See it grip my forehead in a firm but snuggly way. See also how I need some sleep.

And this, my friends, is the final chapter in The Making Of The Olympic Hat. It is now finished for real and is the first hat I reach for in the morning when I walk to work.

The whistling winds will just have to find someone else's ears to freeze.