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Occasional musings on "life, the universe, and everything" from a fiber junkie.

March 31, 2006

Slumps R Us
There's something about seeing sunshine in March that leads me into a total reluctance to do anything productive.  Sunshine implies (usually falsely, Mother Nature being the tricksy deceiver that she is) that Spring is really here.  Of course, since good ol' Mother Nature also has a sick sense of humor, the gorgeous sunny weather always happens during the week, when I have to be cooped up in The Systems Cave all day.  As soon as the weekend comes, the weather deteriorates into cold and wet and icky.  Fooey.
Ah, but there is some consolation:  cold and wet and icky is perfect weather for making a big pot of coffee, putting silly movies on the VCR, and knitting all day.  What to knit, what to knit?   All of the current projects are boring.  None of the yarn in the stash appeals.  Uh-oh... what we have here looks suspiciously like that most pernicious of conditions, a knitting slump. 
Time to invoke the "Two Row Rule" - when none of the current projects looks interesting, I force myself to knit two rows on each item that's currently on the needles.  Only after doing this can I even begin to contemplate casting on something new.  With some of the projects (especially those with over 300 stitches on the needle) just getting through those mandatory two rows will occupy whatever knitting time I have for that day.  
On to something more positive:  after much waiting, I've finally received my copy of Knitting Rules, the latest by Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee, better known as The Yarn Harlot.  This time around, she writes more about the practicalities of the knitterly life, but with her own unique perspective and humor.  It's a delightful read, with lots of good information, including reminding us that showing a non-knitter  your yarn stash while trying to convince them of your sanity can be counter-productive.  (That's not a direct quote, but a paraphrase from the chapter on Stash.)   She has also shared her "recipes" for such things as hats, scarves and socks.  Many of her bits of advice are accompanied by "Ask me how I know this," implying that she has herself made whatever mistake she's advising against.  Like her first two books, this'un's a keeper!
12:32 pm est

March 23, 2006

Random ramblings
The calendar and the astronomers and the astrologers all claim it's spring, so why is it cold and gray and icky outside, hmmm?  It's certainly not feeling much like spring yet, though some of the young sprouts wandering around campus seem to have abandoned winter clothing   It never ceases to amaze me that they can stand there wearing next to no clothing during a snowstorm and seem to be surprised that they're cold.  Duh.  I wonder if I was that clueless when I was their age. 
In any case, the "wanting winter to be over" syndrome is striking fiercely this week, leaving me extremely reluctant to knit anything made of wool.  The cotton top for this summer, however, is growing daily.  Since it's a top-down one-piece raglan pattern, it's taking longer and longer to get around one row, but there are only 15 more sets of increases until it's time to divide for the sleeves.  That'll cut the stitches per row count down by more than a third, but I suspect that I'll only work a couple of inches of body before backing up to finish the sleeves and neckband.  Once those are done, whatever yarn is left can be used to lengthen the body without fear of running out. 
The burgundy socks for Project Spectrum are languishing, pushed aside for the glories of cotton and the hope of spring.  Other little bits and pieces will appear here as soon as the Infernal DigiCam decides to behave itself. 
12:30 pm est

March 21, 2006

Weekend Adventures
Just returned from a long weekend visiting friends, getting in a bit of feline therapy coupled with industrial-grade silliness.  My friends Frank and Beckie "kidnapped" me Friday afternoon because we hadn't seen each other in months.   What ensued was a weekend full of laziness and giggling, not necessarily in that order.  We started with dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant in Watkins Glen, NY, then returned to their home and settled in to discuss just about every subject under the sun.  If you know the three of us and your ears were burning over the weekend, chances are, yes, we were talking about you. 
Friday night after "lights out" got a bit ... um ... peculiar.  Y'see, I'm not used to having cats around, as my lease has a "no pets" clause.  Frank and Bec are personal servants to Kaylar and Tank Boy, two of the nicest felines I've known.  So everyone settled in to sleep and all was well until about a quarter to one, when a horrible siren-like noise levitated me from the futon where I was sleeping.  Was it a smoke alarm?  If not, what in *$%#*$ was it?  The noise suddenly stopped, and seconds later an unspeakably perky rendition of "Greensleeves" began to tinkle out of the same general area as the siren.  Oh.  Okay.  It's Bec's cell phone ringing.  Visit privy, go back to sleep.  
Some time later, another unfamiliar sound woke me.  It rather sounded like someone rolling a golf ball across a hardwood floor.  Cats.  Okay, no problem.  Then it hit me:  the floors in here are carpeted, not hardwood.  Weird.  Ohwell, back to sleep.  Next thing I know, there are tiny but extremely heavy feet walking up my left leg, followed by a cat tongue inserted into my left ear.  My eyes flew open, to see Kaylar sitting on the floor watching me, while something (tentatively identified, by elimination, as Tank Boy) gave me a wonderful shoulder massage.  Tank then walked down my right leg and settled at my feet.  No further oddness until morning, thank goodness.
Saturday started out lazy and didn't progress much from there.  Frank is an awesome cook, and whipped up a batch of sausage gravy for breakfast.  We then returned to the living room and got out our various projects:  Bec crocheting a wedding gift for friends, me knitting a baby gift for other friends, and Frank playing with his digital camera and photo-editing software.  It wasn't until after 1pm that we all changed from jammies into street clothes to visit the gallery in Ithaca that was showing two of Frank's photos in its current show.  We then returned to the house, changed back into jammies, and watched a very silly movie called "The Lost Princess" starring Don Juan and Miguel.  Fun, especially since it was filmed at Scarborough Faire in Texas and we got to see a lot of people we knew in the cast.   The rest of the day was pure laziness, watching videos and gabbing, capped off with a yummy chicken with feta cheese, spinach and onions.  Did I mention that Frank's a great cook?
The laziness continued Sunday, watching snow fall and working on  our various projects, ending up with three or four consecutive Muppet movies.  What?  I did say "industrial-grade silliness," didn't I? 
However, all good things must come to an end, and I had to return to reality (and grown-up-ness) on Monday, and back to the office today.  No, there are no photos, because my brain spazzed and left the Infernal DigiCam at home.
12:41 pm est

March 14, 2006

New Toys Brighten Winter Doldrums
It's March.  The weather is (as usual) totally unpredictable - gorgeously warm and sunny on Saturday, freezing cold, gray and rainy today.  None of the yarns in the stash (and there are a lot of yarns in the stash) look appealing; none of the current projects ring any bells.  Blah.
At least I have a new toy.
Up until now, my standard procedure for winding hanks into balls worked well, but with one minor inconvenience.  My favorite knitting throne is a modern copy of a 13th-century Italian noble's chair, whose arms are just the right distance apart to hold a hank of yarn while I wind it.  The minor inconvenience?  Being "confined to the throne" until the entire hank is wound.  Don't try this when you have an intestinal virus.  Trust me on this, I speak from (bitter) experience.
Then I bought a batch of Tahki Tweedy Cotton Classic to make a summer sweater for myself.  The kind lady at the LYS wound two hanks of it on her swift and ball winder, and I trundled off happily with that and the other 17 hanks, to begin said summer top.  After finishing the first store-wound ball and getting well into the second, I decided to wind up a couple more hanks to have them ready when needed. 
Yeah.  Right.  Sure. 
These hanks are too small to stretch across the arms of the throne.  What to do, what to do?  Buy a swift, of course!  Since I'd been wanting one anyway, this was all the excuse I needed.  The order winged its way to the online yarn and yarny-gadget pusher in late February, and the parcel arrived at my office last Friday.   After unpacking the gizmo and clamping it to my Throneside knitting stand, I actually (gasp!) sat down to read the directions.
Yeah.  Right.  Sure. 
Two diagrams.  Six lines of text, apparently originally written in Japanese and translated into English by someone who only speaks Urdu.  The only line that sort of made sense was "Push red button to adjust."  Red button, red button.  Um.... there is nothing red on this contraption.  Nothing.  A minor spate of unladylike language ensued, followed by me turning the thing around and seeing a little coral colored button.  Hm.  Ah-HA!!  It works!
Five more hanks of yarn have been transformed into neat balls, ready to be knit into this summer sweater. 
I'm better now.  Mostly.
12:46 pm est

March 10, 2006

Focus? What's that?
Since the Knitting Olympics ended, knitting has proceeded at a snail's pace, largely because I don't seem to be able to focus on just one item.  Last night, for example, I did a few rows on the burgundy sock that's in the same texture stitch as the ZigZag sweater, then noodled around with a bit of mosaic pattern in pink and fuchsia for Project Spectrum.  That didn't hold my interest for long, so I dug out the half-finished Andean Silk 2x2 rib hat that had been in the stash closet for months and added an inch or two to the ribbing.
On the subject of Project Spectrum, let us take a look at the tiny little cluster of pink and red yarns, all that I could find in the stash.
Don't they look pathetic, huddled there against that vast expanse of white sheet?   The burgundy in the middle has been cast on for a sock (as mentioned above), but there are no firm plans for any of the others.  Can you tell that I'm not really a "pink and red" kind of person?  Heh, wait'll we get to greens and blues...
On a happier note, I finally have a swift!  The parcel arrived today, so now I can wind the yarn for my cotton v-neck and have some hope of actually being able to wear it this summer.  .
10:17 am est

March 6, 2006

Color choices
This weekend I rummanged through the stash, looking for yarns is red and pink for the March portion of Project Spectrum.  Not very surprisingly, there wasn't much there, just some burgundy KnitPicks Essential that's on its way to becoming socks to match the ZigZag sweater, one ball of Opal Rainforest self-striping in the Ladybug colorway, and a few odd bits left over from long-ago baby gifts.  
Judicious exploration of the stash with Project Spectrum in mind has been rather eye-opening in regard to my color choices.  I'm going to have lots of possibilities when we get to the green and blue months.  The vast majority of my yarns seem to be in those colors, and I have tons of teal, which falls right between the two.  In fact, most of the projects either planned or actually on the needles for this year seem to be in the green/blue/teal color family.  There's not a lot there in yellow and orange, though if you count brown in that family, there's a bit.  Purples are in short supply as well, largely because it's a color that doesn't work well with my skin tone.  Put me in a purple garment, and I look like I've got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.  A couple of my friends both like and look good in purple, though, so there's a bit of yarn waiting to become gifts for them.  I also found a reasonable amount of neutral-colored yarns, though the ball of handpainted that is mostly black with flecks of orange and teal rather defies categorization.  Also makes me wonder what I was thinking when I bought it, but then lots of things raise that question with me.
Now that I've dug out this month's colors, though, what to do with them?  The burgundy has been cast on to become socks to match ZigZag, and it's quite interesting to see how different the stitch pattern looks in a fingering yarn.  Aside from that, I think that some of the odd bits of leftovers can be used to test a mosaic-knitting pattern that I'm considering using for a gift later in the year.  Time will tell.
10:23 am est

March 2, 2006

March? Already?
Couldn't prove it by the weather today... brrr!
March is a month of interesting juxtapositions.  Spring Break in the middle of Lent.  Almost spring, but still the weather can be vicious.  Some of the worst blizzards I can remember happened in March, most notably in 1993, when we got 42 inches of snow in two days.  Not eager to repeat that, I am. 
Like so many others out there in blogland, I'm finding myself with a truly narsty case of Startitis.  This is coupled with the sudden realization that if I don't use up some of the stash soon, I'm going to need a second apartment just to house the yarns (and fabrics and beads and...).   I think it's time to slow down the acquisition phase of stash management, and concentrate on making some little projects.
Something that's helping me figure out ways to use up stash is a book called Odd Ball Knitting, with lots of projects that can be done with just small amounts.  There's a miniature Christmas stocking in there that seems just about right for noodling around with different colors for Project Spectrum.  Goodness knows, I've got enough sock yarn leftovers in a wide range of colors, perfect for this use.  
Digging in the yarn bins frequently turns up delightful surprises, and brings back great memories too.   The stray ball of Wool-Ease I mentioned last post was actually left over from a wedding gift for my friend Beckie's son Michael and his lady Beth.  Working with the yarn last night brought back delightful memories of their wedding.  They chose a magnificent spot - Cooper's Bluff State Park in West Virginia. 
Gorgeous, isn't it?  The trip out there for the wedding was great fun, and being able to spend time with Mike and Beth was wonderful, even if it was years ago. 
10:29 am est

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"Everything happens for a reason, except possibly football." -- Terry Pratchett