30 March, 2007

Physics at Work

This week has been a study in things-taking-longer-than-I-planned. The charting of my motif for Islamic art goes slowly. The leveling to 70 in World of Warcraft even slower, although I suppose it's a good thing those 2 things are in that particular order. Shows I'm making some progress in Life, instead of video games I guess! Tonight we head to Conrad and Kate's house for Italian food, wine and Wii. But today, oh, today I opened my front door and discovered a package that contained this:
Seven skeins of bare sock yarn and 50g of silk/merino gloss in Chestnut from Knitpicks.com. I swear, the neighbors must think I've gone crazy. I jumped up and down, hugged that plastic package and danced a little jig from sheer anticipation of playing with color.

I have been a dancer all my life, and I think the sparkles and bright rainbow costumes have worn off on me. Sometimes I stand in front of Unit 1's Closet-o-Fabric and just drink in the reds, blues, greens and yellows. She is also a consummate gardener, so there has always been gorgeous color in my life. So is it any wonder the desire to create my own lovely color combinations has been marinating? I speed-cleaned the kitchen, grabbed my shoebox full of Kool-Aid and set to work (note the necessary liquor and chocolate - a girl's gotta have her fix!).

Soon my yarn was percolating away in Jer's beer-making stockpot:

Do you see the physics problem I created for myself? Not having 3 jars of similar heights, one is much shorter than the others. So the yarn kept sucking up liquid from the taller jars and siphoning it to the lower one. So until I get another jar of the proper height, I think I'll stick to 2 colors.

At the end of the dying frenzy, I am left with only 4 packets of Black Cherry Kool-Aid and these gems:I must say, I'm quite proud of them. They make notions and dreams fly about my brain, and it's difficult to keep from making Grand Schemes and Things. But I'm trying!

22 March, 2007

Spring Break, baby! Woo!

My midterms are over! I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off, prepared to begin a rockin' spring break of work and video games. I know, exciting right? But brace yourselves, I may get wild this week and actually go outside. Hmm, maybe not. The only disadvantage I can see to having friends who are actually brown - instead of just from a brown-people sort of country but actually pasty and freckle-free - is that no one will lay by the illusion pool and worship Ra with me. Otherwise, you guys are great. I love the food, the warmth, the flash-in-the-pan emotions, all of it. But seriously... if one could only go to the beach! A little sun-bathing would set me up forever. And Mrs. Bennet I think would agree.

So remember My Very First Sock? I frogged it. And re-started it. But the pattern is a divisible-by-four pattern and I wanted a K2P1 rib, which (as my l33t math skillz soon informed me) is NOT divisible by 4. So I re-worked everything and created my own pattern, which is its own special brand of challenging. Then I realized that the self-patterning yarn I have isn't quite the right stuff to show off my genius First Sock pattern, what with the baby cables and the ribbed heel and all. I've made it all the way to the point where I have to pick up the stitches for the gusset, and I'm quite proud of myself. I think I may even use the pattern again!

Spring break in my world has never been a very exciting time. I'm usually too broke to go anywhere that involves flashing cameras or really anywhere that involves spending money. This year is no exception, but this time I'm doing it on purpose. That's right, #41 on my 101 in 1001 list starts in 2 hours and 27 minutes. I am going to go this entire week of spring break without spending any money, and it is going to suck. But I've set myself up for success; I have a full tank of gas, milk in the fridge and coffee both at home and at work, knitting projects to last me and a Netflix account to keep me occupied in case I should get bored catching up on Battlestar Galactica (uh huh, like that'll happen). I also have twice as many hours at work as usual this week, which is awesome. The only thing I am going to be lenient about is buying my plane ticket to Michigan for Erick's graduation; I've been waiting for my tax return to be deposited into my bank account, and if I don't get the ticket this week I'll be under the 30-day mark and I won't be able to afford it at all.

Assuming I can get at least one thing done per day - and some days two things (don't look so shocked) - I'm listing 10 things I'd like to finish before next Monday. So without further ado, here is the Spring Break List of Demands:
1. Starting Monday, do not spend any money for 1 week (not including plane ticket or bills automatically deducted from bank account).
2. Get laundry situation under control. White socks do not look good with black shoes!
3. Begin ARTH 175 paper, due April 10.
4. Begin ARTH 183C project
4a. Scan and print stitch descriptions
4b. Chart motif
4c. Pull colors/linen from stash
4d. Begin stitching (outlines first?)
5. Finish My Very First Socks. Or at least *almost* finish them, because the 52-Pair Plunge begins April 1. I'm not above stacking the deck in my favor, especially with Spring Break Demands 4 and 7 on the books!
6. Kool-Aid dye first set of KnitPicks yarn
7. Choose a topic for ARTH 185B paper, or design a project. One fewer paper to write will be a blessing come May, I'm sure.
8. Finish tearing apart, washing and skeining RUS's.
9. Get to 70 in World of Warcraft (yes, I said video games! What?!?)
10. Catch up on Battlestar Galactica.

Seems reasonable when I put it on virtual paper like that. Sweet.
And now I'm going to go work on my socks. Expect a pattern after I've made a few!

19 March, 2007

Deconstructionism is an art term...

...practiced by knitters everywhere. But first!

I rocked my Islamic Art midterm. The professor was sick with a horrible flu last week and as a result didn't feel like creating a huge test, so there were only 10 (of an original 50+) images to define. Thanks to my super-stressful cramming techniques, I knew all 10 pretty much spot-on. Go me. She also gave me the go-ahead on reproducing a piece of embroidery from Marianne Ellis' Ottoman Embroidery, so all that's left for my term project is to choose, design and make the thing. I'm going to make an effort not to bite off more than I can chew, as per my usual modus operandi.

In a fit of celebratory... celebration, I stopped at Goodwill and bought some Ridiculously Ugly Sweaters. RUS buying is tricky, because the yarn cannot be heinous - only the construction of the sweater. All in all, I came out with four selections: an ivory angora blend, a white-and-gold cotton/acrylic, a forest green 100% lambswool and a cranberry red cotton. We'll see how they deconstruct; I think the sparkly yarn will go into the stash for sock embellishment and the rest will go onto eBay for some pin money if I can get Darcy to relinquish them.

Speaking of socks, mine is a sad, pathetic, bagging-at-the-ankle monstrosity that might possibly drive me mad. I scoured knitty.com today for sock patterns, which led me into a bright, shiny, devlish world of yarns and techniques, each one making my poor saggy sock seem more and more unbearable. So tomorrow I will venture to the LYS to buy a set of 00 DPN's and bid this incarnation of sockdom farewell. Again with the biting-off-of-more-than-we-can-chew theme...

Darcy says:

"I do not look ridiculous. Go about your business, human!"

15 March, 2007

The Heeling

I'm so punny. Moving on.

Today is gorgeous and sunny and lovely in the South Bay. This is the view off our apartment's back porch - I love trees in bloom. (The netting keeps the kittens from getting off the deck and works until Darcy uses his alien skills to find a hole, the little creep.) I discovered a set of knitters via Sock Pr0n (who has become one of my knitting heroes, BTW), went to the Pre-Midterm Lecture in my Roman Art class only to discover that the midterm has been bumped one more day - hurrah for reprieve! - and actually did study for my Islamic Art midterm a bit. All those beautiful but hard-to-pronounce words are swimming through my head, along with images of octagonal tombs and brick-and-tile work. Islamic art is so different from western art, it sometimes boggles my mind. I've been searching for the perfect piece for my term project - something not difficult to embroider but still lovely, and I've become enamoured of the arabesque designs and beautiful textiles that have been passed down through the centuries. The wheels are turning, if ever-so-slowly.

In other news, I've been listening to Craft Lit and playing with My First Sock instead of studying, but at least I'm not playing World of Warcraft. Not that it's bad - it's quite entertaining and has filled most of my free time for 2+ years now - but I decided last week that I wouldn't play video games until after midterms, which end a week from today. I'm curious to see how much I can accomplish. Anyway, last night I turned my first heel! Jer came home in the middle and took great delight in my Milton-like muttering to myself: "purl ten, purl two together, he said I could play music at a reasonable volume, slip and turn, I'll burn this place to the ground, knit eleven..." I sounded like a maniac I'm sure, but at the end of the night, there it was - a respectably turned heel.

Darcy was proud and cheered me on from his favorite spot on the couch. I think I see some of his alien workings back there, but I can't be sure without further proof.

14 March, 2007

Visual Puns and Socks

My stomach has been roiling since I got to work at the Ass-Crack of Pre-Dawn, and I'm tired of it. Usually my cure-all for tummyaches is to take a nap, but I have shit to DO, people! And it's 6pm, so if I took a nap now I'd completely screw my sleeping schedule. Damn you, internet for encouraging me in my procrastination!

My good friend Sarah and I hooked up today to sit in the sun with huge sunglasses and dish about men. It was great fun, and I learned several things:

1. Naval officers and former bartenders are not a good mix, marriage-wise.
2. The best way to derail a conversation with a soon-to-be/already/formerly married person is to bring up wedding plans.
3. I don't brown as quickly as some of my more olive counterparts, for which I am grateful.

But alas, while dishing gossip with Sarah is one of my favorite things (missed you girl, glad you're back around!), I must still head to the homework with a heavy heart. Two chapters of History of Islamic Art to cover tonight. So overall, I'd say the day is a wash so far, what with my Islamic class being canceled, tea with Sarah, getting ready to make the first sock part of my sock, versus the tummyache and the studying for a midterm and the self-imposed "no video games till spring break" policy. Why are self-imposed restrictions so much easier to blow off? I'm determined to keep this one.

My First Sock is coming along well and I start the heel today. Pre-heel, it looks much like the tubes my esteemed state senator thinks make up the internet:

Here is how I'm feeling today.

Get it?

12 March, 2007

Road Trip! (picture heavy)

Several weeks ago, Nadia and I sat down with a calendar and decided that we needed to go visit the Mother Ship.

On the 25th of February, I called the Mother Ship and confessed that I am a daughter of the worst order - her birthday was the 22nd and I was three days late wishing her happy returns of the day. She replied that yes, I am a daughter of the worst order and all her training has clearly gone to waste and by the way, she bought snap-together wood flooring for the great room and since I was a Daughter of the Worst Order, my birthday present to her would be to help her rip up the carpet in the great room and lay down said floor. On my nice, sleepy, wandering-the-Gold-Rush-Town weekend with my citified best friend. Suffice to say I was less-than-pleased, but since I was also contrite, it couldn't be helped.

On Friday, Nadia, myself and all my laundry (free wash/dry at the Mother Ship!) packed into her Mini Cooper and headed to the mountains. Once we got there, we discovered that it was not going to be the weekend for tearing up the floor, and settled in for a weekend of relaxation instead. Ahhh, reprieve! My brother and Nadia went disc golfing on Saturday while Parental Unit 1 and I slipped out to the LYS - a favorite store of mine and one owned by a former coworker of Unit 1's. And there, I accomplished two fabulous things: I started my first pair of socks and I began teaching Unit 1 to knit. Yes, she crumbled like a crumb cake when I started shamelessly shoving chenille and lace into her hands, and as she settled at the unbiquitous craft store table, needles and fresh ball of yarn in her hands, I did a victory lap of the store a la Rocky in case anyone in the county missed my triumph. Then I sat down and taught Unit 1 to knit. I also stashed a bit - triumph in dragging a recalcitrant knitter back into the fold deserves some sort of celebration! - by picking up 750 yards of some lovely worsted something-or-other and adorable, non-splitty yarn so I can start back up on Jenny's baby hat/booties.

Here is My First Sock Yarn, a Meilenweit Safari that Unit 1 picked out (remember the shamelessly enabling part of our mother/daughter relationship? So does my bank account):

And My First Sock!:
Isn't it great, folks? The color in the second photos is much closer - it's more brownish than red. And I am tickled pink, let me tell you.

After that, we spent the rest of the weekend messing about, taking pictures of chickens and flowers:

Unit 1 is a consummate gardener and the light was perfect this weekend, which combined to make me a camera nerd. Plus, the chickens are so fun I just can't help but take pictures of them.

Napoleon is our aptly-named King Rooster:

Unit 1 also has a thing for ridiculous chickens:

I apparently have a thing for cherry-blossom pink and peacock blue:

But Waffles is content to simply supervise the new knitters while I'm outside playing with the camera toy:

Here is the look I got when I returned home with another cat's hair on my collar:

I am properly ashamed of myself. For penance I shall go knit on my new sock. Eeeee!

07 March, 2007

The Saga of the Scarf

I'm toiling away on my dad's scarf. This week I open three days in a row - today, tomorrow and Friday - which for those not familiar with coffee shop hours means I get up before the sun, at a time commonly known as the Ass-Crack of Pre-Dawn. It also means I have to head to bed around 9pm. Now, way back in my pre-coffeeshop days 9pm was when the evening was just gettin' started, but nowadays it's when I begin to yawn slightly. I'm definitely blaming the coffeeshop and not my ever-increasing desire to just stay home with needles and yarn, listening to audiobooks/podcasts. Lucas once asked me sweetly to not turn thirty-eight before my time, and the request has stuck. I really must try to get out more.

But back to the scarf! I did The Halfway Test today - the test where I hold the needle under my chin and drape the scarf around my neck to see where it falls - and it passed! Just barely, but it passed which is a huge relief because it's all downhill from here! At least this time around, I'm comfortable about the thing. The times before, it itched me wrong; the needles were too big, the pattern too wide, the edges too sloppy and of course, the yarn strangely striped. This time, although one edge is looser than the other, it's relatively well in line. Which is also good, because spring has sprung here in California, and I am dreaming of socks. Yes, socks.

Dear god, I never thought I would want to knit socks when Steve Madden has done such a phenomenal job. I mean, really - why mess with the man's work? But I do want to knit socks, and for this I again blame the afore-mentioned Wendy. And sock pr0n, whose web mistress I have a sneaking suspicion lives sooooomewhere near me in the Bay. Did you SEE her Space Invaders socks on Knitty? The 80's child in me is jumping for joy and whining to make them in knee-highs right now, but my more adult mental voice is chiding the child, saying it's too big a project for her Very First Socks, and that she should perhaps try something ever-so-slightly less difficult, having not only never knitted socks but also never tried stranded work or knit with double-pointed needles or for that matter successfully used a chart, and all those things aside, would she ever really wear them? No, I didn't think so. But I could show them off, and get mad cred with my nerdy friends, yo. Which is really what counts, right?!? Crap. I think I'm going to learn to knit socks, and I think my mother has taken over a part of my brain. Juuuust great. I also have a hankering for this yarn from Pickupsticks. I crack myself up.

Darcy gives the socks two paws up. SETI left a message on my cell phone today, but I don't think I'll call them back quite yet. The kitty paws are too cute to put behind one-way glass, don't you think?

03 March, 2007

The Projects

First, a finish! I made a (practice) baby hat!

The pattern was a pain in the ass to learn, but once I stopped trying to "fix" it (HAH!) and just worked it the way the book said, it turned out okay. The yarn was splitty and the edges of the piece are less-than-gorgeous, but it's done and will be even cuter with matching booties. Originally I bought a Clover circular needle, but it tried to poke my eye out so I bought an Addi Natura circular needle instead; love at first stitch, let me tell you, and well worth the $15. I haven't worked with circs (as they are apparently called in the biz) much, but this brand is pretty f'in sweet, yo. I think I'll try this little set again with better yarn and see how it goes, since I'm sure as heck not giving THIS flawed gem to anyone. *ahem* My perfectionist is showing.

Faina's Scarf:

This one will be for my mom, who picked out the yarn (Cascade 220 wool) and the pattern last time I visited her. Yea, remember what I said about enabling eachother? Mmhmm. It is by far the most complicated thing I've ever done, and I had to go back to traditional continental-style knitting from Annie Modesitt's combination knitting. I think I'm too noobish to use non-traditional knitting styles, so I'm just going to stick with continental for now, even though I like Modesitt's style better. I need to somehow rig my embroidery stand to hold my knitting chart. Perhaps a clipboard? Hmmm.

Papa's Scarf:
Oh lord. I want to throw the damn thing away; the only thing keeping me from such a drastic measure is that the yarn is gorgeous. Obviously papa's birthday has come and gone, and the scarf remains unfinished. It started like this:

Super-pretty, right? Here's a close-up of the stitch:

But of COURSE I ignored the suggestion of the knitting store lady (always a bad idea. ALWAYS!) and the second skein striped differently from the first. My dad isn't a picky guy - he would love it no matter what - but if I inherited my craftsy inclinations from my lovely mother, I inherited my perfectionist inclinations from my dad. And I know it would have bothered me that his scarf was striped weird. So, I ripped out the WHOLE DAMN THING, toddled to my LYS, where the knitting lady kindly let me re-wind my skeins, and started over with a new pattern:

I've used this pattern before to make my beloved Zig Zag scarf, but I think with the myriad colors in my dad's yarn, the original stitch would look much better. So today when I'm done, I will be ripping the scarf out for what feels like the 50th time to go back to the original pattern. ARGH! I am consoled by how lovely it will be when done, and that the stitch itself isn't ridiculously hard. Whew!

Going along with my quest to document the lives of extraterrestrials on our planet, Mr. Darcy recharged in the sun today:

But then his alien started to show:

It's a good thing he's so loving, otherwise I'd have out-ed him to SETI long ago.


March came into California just like you'd expect: like a lamb. It's about 60 here, I have all the windows and doors with screens open to air out the house. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 65. Hooray! My friend Erick visited for his spring break from UofM in Dearborn, MI. I never remember how nice it is here until someone from the world outside my California bubble arrives to remind me that not all of the country - nay, the world - enjoys the weather and atmosphere we do.

I've finally messed with Jer's snooty camera enough to take pictures of what I'm working on. But first, most of the blogs I frequent have mascots of the feline persuasion, and the delightful furballs who run my apartment have become a bit jealous. Without further ado, here are the Keepers of the Klink:

Kami is a rare and endangered San Jose Brown Gutter Cat. Jer found her, tiny and sick, on his doorstep one day roughly 7 years ago. She has since blossomed into the beautiful tortie you see above. And she is such a tortie, complete with the cantankerous but utterly sweet personality. She curls up on an available lap and watches TV with us.

Mr Darcy is an alien from an unidentified planet, currently observing the human race from a feline perspective. He doesn't sleep, he uploads, and I'm fairly certain the alien race he represents must be preeeeeetty confused by now. I was volunteering at C.A.T.S. in 2001 when he showed up in a box full of short-haired black female kittens who were found abandoned under a freeway. I picked him up, he rolled over onto his back and laid in my arms for 4 hours. I took him home and he's been sleeping at my feet ever since. He doesn't like sitting in laps, but he will settle within about a 10-foot radius of wherever I am in the house.

And them's the felines!