26 June, 2008

Me Make Fire

Have you ever held up a finished item and done a little cave-woman style dance? You know the one - it involves some foot-stomping, some hooting, and not a little embarrassment when your ManCandy/roommate/mother/husband/etc. comes in the room and gives you The Eyebrow. Then your embarrassment evaporates as you get to tell the walker-inner that you've just had a Finish. Good, I'm glad I'm not the only one, because that would be awkward. And get your mind out of the gutter.

I got to do the Finishing Dance twice yesterday. The first was when I bound off the last stitch of the Black Forest Shawl with about 1.5 yards of yarn tail. After the dance, which the cats observed with a mild amount of interest, I quickly Soaked and blocked it on the TV room floor. I toddled off to work, and got to do my favorite part of lace making when I got home.

I use blocking wires and T-pins, and I love them. Lurve is actually a better not-word, but anyway. All the stretching and pulling and measuring and protractoring is, I know, necessary to make lace go from cygnet

to swan. Yes, I use a protractor. Shut your face. Anyway. The thing of it is, if you take away the wires and the T-pins while the shawl is still wet, it sproings back into the cygnet stage. Our intuitive knowledge of inertia - or something - tells us that this will continue to happen even when the garment is dry, because when you stretch something it rarely remains stretched. So when I get to unpin and un-wire lace, it's a reverent treat. First, I take out all the T-pins and hide them from the cats in the box under the coffee table. Then I carefully pull out the wires, trying to leave the lace undisturbed. A miracle! It hasn't reverted to bumpy, weird-looking knitting, but remains serenely upon the old sheet I use to block upon.

There is a moment in a ballet dancer's life when she feels both part of the sky and rooted in the earth. Her feet seem to move three inches below the ground, so solid is she, but if you look at her chest, arms, and face, she appears to be floating away. She is no longer a mere human, but a Being. This is the state my teacher called "expanded," and I strove for it every day with every fiber of my being until my body gave me an ultimatum I couldn't refuse. The moment I pull out the wires and survey the work of my hands, I feel expanded. I cannot dance on my own two feet anymore, but I can dance with my hands, two sticks, and a bit of string.
Black Forest Shawl, handspun merino/silk, 383 yds.

Zug zug.

25 June, 2008

A Spatula Would Work Nicely

There are many things I don't let myself think about on a regular basis. Darfur, Guantanamo Bay, the State of the Union, the fact that my brother has been in either Afghanistan or Iraq since 2002 because of a president who cares more about his own pride than about the people who will die for it. I get wound up and upset and can, on occasion, completely incapacitate myself over the unfairness, idiocy and disregard for humanity displayed every day in the news. So I don't think about it very often. 

Instead, I think about my 12-Mile Quest or my Summer Knitting Goals, or how I can put off doing laundry for one more day. I immerse myself in my daily life, surround myself with the work of people long dead, and fail to save up the money for a woolee winder because I can't keep myself away from Etsy (shut up!). I've been working hard on my goals: I'm on the edge chart for the Forest Canopy Shawl, and I'm about a yard of roving away from filling bobbin #2 with Tobacco Road singles. This second thing in particular is important, because I came to an uncomfortable realization two or three days ago. 

You see, in order to knit the faroese shawl for my grandmother for the Knitting Olympics, I must first spin the alpaca roving into yarn. These concepts occasionally escape me. To kickstart my project, I joined the Tour de Fleece and chose the alpaca as my project. So far so good. Then I did a little mental count of bobbins in my possession. I have six, but these are the currently empty ones: 

Problem. How can I make a 2-ply lace yarn with only 2 bobbins? Well, it can be done, but the last time I tried to ply from a yarn cake everything went horribly awry; the remnants are under the couch and are classified as "cat toy." By my calculations, I have until next Saturday to finish up at least one spinning project, so I pulled out that boon of crafters everywhere, the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and cranked out half a bobbin full of singles. A disc of West Wing later, and I'm nearly done with bobbin #2 - which I won't show you because it looks pretty much exactly like bobbin #1. It's the same colorway, you see. 

Then I took a look at my Stutter Socks. Here is how far I had gone since the last photo: 

Pretty good, right? But the literate among you noticed the verb placement and groaned, just like I did when I ripped back to this: 

That would be the waste yarn for the heel stitches, of which I held only 32 instead of 36. I could have probably fudged it, but I would have known. So I frogged. Sigh. That makes three of my four current knitting projects that are in a mindless knitting phase - the Tangled Yoke has 3 inches of stst before the charts, the Stutter Socks are in the world of k2p2, and the Seraphim Shawl I started for Meredith: 

"Petals" light fingering weight merino from The Knittery

Which needs about twice as many stitches as it has now before I begin the edge charts. I forsee a lot of television and audiobook knitting in my future! 

Knitting for charity opens doors in my mind that I usually leave closed. I could knit a hat for a child in Mongolia as long as I didn't imagine what it must be like to be that child - and if I'm spending 5 or 10 hours knitting something, I have to listen to a book to keep my mind from wandering and my notoriously loose stitches from tightening up. But there is a cause that never fails to send me straight to the ceiling: homeless veterans. Just typing it makes me angry. Men have laid their lives and sanity on the line for our country, which is more than I will ever do, and yet they are treated with disrespect and left to live in culverts or beneath freeways because no one understood PTSD when these heros came home from war. If there is one thing our country should be doing, it's taking care of those who fight for her, no matter what.

Now, I grew up in a place essentially without homeless people. Alaska is not kind to her homeless, and so there are very few of them on the streets. Coming to the Lower 48, and especially San Francisco, was a shock to me. I confess to being uneasy and awkward around homeless people, and I have more than once crossed the street when walking alone to avoid an encounter. So I'm not exactly the poster child for homeless veterans' rights. 

However. I can help by making things, in the safety and comfort of my own home (or at work, or school, or in line, etc.) that could save a life on a cold night. And that is why I'm going to hit up my superwash stash and crank out some items to send to Carol. And with every stitch, I can help in a way that doesn't involve handing out cash or restaurant leftovers. Because someday (hopefully soon) my brother Mike will be a veteran, and he deserves to be treated with the respect and honor due his dedication to our country. 

P.S. - the wedding was awesome, and I'll cover it in a different post for reasons of tone.

14 June, 2008

Our Story Thus Far...

My knitting mojo has been MIA for awhile, but no longer! Last week sometime it dragged itself in the door, looking bedraggled and a little worse-for-wear. I lovingly cleaned it up, dressed its wounds and put it back where it belongs: next to my bedside underneath the lamp my mom made and the stack of books I've been meaning to review but haven't (yet?).

A few days ago, I posted some Summer Knitting Goals a la Skeins Her Way. I dragged out all of the WIP's in my list and photographed them all - mostly for my own benefit, but also 'cause I like to take pictures and see progress. In order of the list, here they are:

Juno Regina Wedding Shawl for Elizabeth

Stutter Knee Socks for Me

Wussy Wolverine Socks for ManCandy

Tangled Yoke Cardi for Me

Handspun Black Magic Forest Shawl for Me (or Mom?)

Easter Egg lace for Jasmin 2008

Tobacco Road for socks

So that's not so bad, right? Over the last 3 days, I've managed to whittle away at the list. First, the easiest finish was the Wussy Wolverine Socks:

But lord almighty, they're ugly. So ugly that even ManCandy was a little put off - as I expected. The next day I dropped them in a dye pot with some black acid dye, and they turned out like this:
Wussy No More socks, 311 yds.

Muuuch better! They're definitely black, but there's still some variation from the original blue and yellow. Plus I've discovered a much simpler way to make black socks than knitting with already-black yarn. My eyesight thanks me.

And then yesterday I finished this little baby:

She's blocking in ManCandy's room under a fan. She might even be dry in time to leave for the wedding today, but since Elizabeth is wearing cherry red, the shawl won't be used till the reception party tomorrow anyway. Pick your jaw up off the floor, people. Being on time is the new 15 minutes late.

I haven't weighed the shawl because the beads would throw everything off, but I'm estimating the yardage at about 950, based on how much yarn there is left.

I'm trying to decide what I want to take to the wedding for WWKIP day, but I haven't nailed it down yet. Everything I have going seems either too bright or too big. To the yarn closet by way of the Ravelry queue!!

13 June, 2008


What will you be doing at WWKIP day?

I will be knitting at a garden wedding. 

The wedding of my ex-boyfriend to my very good friend, at which another ex-boyfriend is the best man and the girl sitting next to me at dinner will be my ex-boyfriend's girlfriend-before-me. I will be wearing a white dress that belongs to the bride, who loaned me the dress because a) she is wearing cherry red, and b) we thought it would upset the ex's Aunt Michelle, who all three of us girls agree is a witch.

This shawl might just end up wine-stained at the end of the day. It's called Black Magic.

10 June, 2008

Summer Knitting Goals!

I need to finish:

1) Elizabeth's Wedding Shawl Finished 6/13
2) Stutter Socks
3) Wussy Wolverine Socks Finished 6/11
4) Tangled Yoke Cardi Ripped
5) Forest Canopy Shawl

1) Easter Egg Roving
2) Tobacco Road roving

And a combination goal:
1) Spin Zoe and Rex into yarn for the Tour de Fleece
2) use resulting yarn to knit the Faroese shawl from the cover of AGOL for the 2008 Knitting Olympics (begin 8/8/08).

I also have a miscellaneous fiber-related goal: to collect and organize everything into one place in the house. Probably the TV room closet, but we'll see. Everything on my list except the combination goal is a WIP already, so really this summer is about finishing things - but since I have a phobia of finishing stuff in life (see under college, completion of), we're just going to call it "freeing up needles." It should also help me get a fair way along in my 12-Mile Quest.

This goal list is brought to you by Skeins Her Way. I'm such a joiner.

08 June, 2008

The Siren Song of Television

So lately I've been avoiding the knitting. Like Jas, I've been on a spinning jag, which is good considering that I just acquired a significant portion of my body weight in unspun fiber. But avoiding or not, Elizabeth's wedding is a week from yesterday and I need to finish her shawl before the bocce ball reception on Sunday morning. So I did what any self-respecting knitter with sass would do: I started a new project. 

I wanted to start the Persephone scarf from MimKnits, but both the Perplexed yarn and the pattern thwarted me. So instead, I whipped out the Black Magic yarn and the Forest Canopy Shawl pattern and went to town. It called for sock weight and size 8 needles; I'm using roughly DK+ weight and 8's. It'll be larger than originally intended, but I'm okay with that - in fact, I'm looking forward to it. 

Pictures? Okay. But just this once. 

I put a couple more repeats into it last night after Elizabeth's bachelorette party. We lingered deep into the wee sma's over a bottle of delicious port and talk of video games - the perfect end to a lovely day.

Forest Canopy Shawl from I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can
Black Magic handspun, ~383 yds.

I had an interview with a family today, and the mom wants me to come back to speak with her when her children are away so that we can have a conversation that's not punctuated by offerings to see the playroom/backyard/favorite stuffed animal. That's a good sign, right? They live nearby, which would save me a not insignificant sum in gas money every month, so we'll see. I'm cautiously optimistic, about both the job and the mojo.

And now, Tim Gunn, popcorn and the Sonata are singing a sweet tune of spinning and fashion madness. Au revoir, ma cheries. 

P.S. - the Mint Crisp M&M's are secretly filled with crack. Don't buy them, and for god's sake don't eat them. Consider yourself warned.

06 June, 2008

Alpaca + Spinning = Love

Last night, I hit a pebble in my road to de-cluttering my life. But let me back the truck up a little first. 

Retzlaff was lovely. Because I am apparently camera-challenged, especially when it comes to remembering said camera in the first place, I took pictures with my phone. And let me tell you, I was chuffed to find out that my new-and-improved LG takes much better pictures than my old Razr: 

The view from my chair

Juanita "practiced" spinning (it's pretty snazzy for actual practice!)

Jasmin and No-Blog Rachel bought matchy-matchy mohair

Gregory made friends

This one requires a little bit of explanation. Cynthia was sitting in this chair earlier in the day and mentioned that the wines at Retzlaff weren't her thing. I must say I agree - they were perfectly serviceable wines, but I wasn't thrilled by anything in particular - except the Port, which is fanTAStic. Anyway, as she was saying this, the flyer for her Victoria did a creditable impression of a frog and jumped off of her wheel, landing on the grass at her feet. It was - to say the least - bizarre. 

About 20(?) minutes later, once we had all but forgotten about the strange magnetic fluctuations of the place, there was a great SNAP!, as if a water bottle left too long in the sun had burst. But no, it was the back of Cyn's chair winging off to about 10 feet behind her, narrowly missing an innocent shopper. That was when we decided that it was time to stop talking about how other wineries have wines we like better and totally change the subject. 

In the mean time, I worked on my Tobacco Road roving from CMF. It will eventually be a 3-ply, but I'm still plugging away at bobbin #1. I borrowed these photos from Gretchen 'cause hers were MUCH better than mine:

I really must get a grown-up camera of my own one of these days! And here is the alpaca  I chose on my own that is all Jasmin's fault because she didn't look after me: 

23 oz pin-drafted alpaca from Morro Bay Fleece Works
Left: Zoe, 12 oz   Right: Rex, 11 oz

Closeup for the voyeurs (you know who you are)

In all fairness, I was intending to make the Faroese shawl from the cover of A Gathering of Lace for my grandmother out of the unspun icelandic from Schoolhouse Press and came across this alpaca instead. Since she is from South America, I thought it would be more fitting, and it ended up costing about the same. As soon as I'm finished with the Easter Egg roving for Jas, I'll start on this alpaca. After all, winter is coming sooner than I expect. Sigh.

Anyway, back to the pebble in the road. HeteroLifemate got a job at a game company in Novato, which is about 70 miles away. Sadly for my wine consumption, he's moving next week, so our rent will be going back up again. Last night, ManCandy asked me if I wanted one more bookshelf, or two. My reply was (are you ready for this?)  "actually, I don't feel like buying anything at all right now." 

I know. Shut up. Let's hope it lasts.

01 June, 2008

Taking Responsibility is Overrated

Jasmin Mohair.jpg
Originally uploaded by TikaBelle
This is Jasmin. You can tell she's a sketchy sort 'cause she's vamping and covering her mouth with luscious mohair the same color as her mop of curls - a sure sign of a nefarious soul. She also seems to have forgotten that I am easily overwhelmed by wool and lanolin fumes, which is why I left the Retzlaff Spinning Day with more fiber than I arrived with.