30 September, 2008

Surpassing Loveliness and Unbearable Angst

First, happy Jewish New Year, my friends! Take a moment to celebrate life and those you love whether you adhere to the Jewish faith or not. We don't take enough opportunities to remember the overall beauty of the world we live in, I think.

Are you done? Ok, back to me.

While I watched the debate on Saturday night, I finished the collar on my Ribbi Cardi! Now all that's left is to (find and) install the zipper, and it's d-o-n-e! I'm going to weigh it before I put the zipper in; at the moment I'm not certain how many yards it is, but it's definitely a big ol' chunk of them!

Also falling under the "finished!" tag are my little sissy's Christmas hat and scarf:

Pre-blessed by my mom's cherub fountain! I used the Torch Island handspun for this and I'm quite pleased with how it knitted up. The gradations I worked out on paper ended up pretty close to what I got in a finished fabric, so I'm quite chuffed with the whole she-bang. And as a final finish, I put buttons on the Theodora sweater:
Astute observers will notice the buttons don't match; this is because I used buttons from my great-grandmother's button box. I was utterly charmed when my mom pulled the box off the shelf and let me dig through it; it started life as a little 6 oz tin of buttered toffee from England and has grown to fill a Christmas cookie-sized tin; later that afternoon Mom gave me the original 6 oz tin and let me chose some buttons to start my own button collection. Things like this give me a feeling of being connected to my past. Growing up in Alaska, far away from most of my extended family, I didn't ever really connect with my grandmothers, aunts or uncles. Of course I love them dearly - they're family, after all - but we were definitely cut off from a big family experience, and so I don't know them as well as I would wish. I sat for hours stirring buttons with my mom while she told me that certain ones reminded her of her grandmother, great-aunt or mom. Occasionally a button would recall a specific sweater, or make us cackle with how ugly the original garment had to be to deserve such a monstrous button. Mom was delighted that both her children had used Great Grandmother Madge's button box in the same day; Gabe needed a button for some khaki's, and he learned to sew on a button while I tacked on the three wee buttons for the Theodora sweater. I think now that I have the beginnings of a button box, I'll be more likely to pick up a few here and there when I see them. I already have plans for a few of the lovely buttons I took from the original box, and I'm pretty secure in the knowledge that if I don't actually use them, they'll all fold back together again when the box comes to me.

I've also been working on an Accordion sweater for my friend's mother. She asked me to make a sweater for one of her nephews, and I accepted. I've never done anything on commission before, and I don't know that I will again. Despite the fact that I liked the pattern and didn't mind the yarn, I definitely felt a slight undercurrent of mutiny while I was knitting away. Hopefully that won't come through in the finished piece; at the moment it's waiting to be sewn together and blocked:

But on to the main event! I met this lovely icon on Saturday:
Cat Bordhi and her workshop were everything I wanted them to be. Mom and I joined Jasmin and her mother Gigi along with our friend Colleen and trekked up to Lafayette for a day of mind-blowing ideas. Jasmin and I have been saying for quite some time that neither of us understands toe-up socks or short rows like we want to, and in the 8-hour workshop Ms. Bordhi settled both problems with alacrity.

The woman has magic hands, I swear. She thinks like an engineer and an artist at the same time. We all agreed that one of our favorite things about her is her genuine desire to teach people instead of market her own ideas. I can't yet explain the things I learned at the workshop, but I am reasonably certain that I'll be making many more toe-up socks that actually fit me from now on.

After lunch, we stepped over to the charming Yarn Boutique, and when I walked into the store and Jasmin looked up like a deer in headlights, her arms full of Kauni. For shame! But according to our deal, it's okay as long as she's getting rid of an equivalent amount. This afternoon we'll be doing some weighing out of both of our stashes; I simply could not allow this Anne to stay orphaned at the shop:
Isn't it stunning? I'm in love. Yesterday I stopped by Purlescence to replace some Addi needles I lost when I misplaced a sock bag and picked out this for my stepmother's Christmas present:
I think the bright pink will amuse her when she looks down at her feet during the day; there's an added bonus in that her feet and mine are exactly the same size, so I don't even have to guess about stitch counts. I also cast on these in the same pattern:
That's some of the Regia Man Yarn I bought pre-SPE. It will probably be socks for my dad's Christmas present, but I'm not sure yet.

The mail has been pretty busy lately; I got a fleece back from Sherri at Morro Bay. It's a Lincoln/Merino cross named Steve, and for whatever reason it just tickles me that somewhere in the world there is a Sheep Named Steve. I also got my Knitters for Barack Obama gear:
That's the hoodie and t-shirt; I also got a mug and stickers for my car. I was able to customize the shirts and the mug with my name, and for whatever reason it makes me feel much more involved than if I had simply ordered the stuff without. Zazzle is awesome, people.

And really, this stuff is just in time. Let's have a tiny chat about Sarah Palin, shall we? She's debating with Joe Biden on Thursday, and frankly I'm looking forward to seeing her crash and burn. She may have done fine as governor of my home state - my dad the staunch Dem *loves* her - but she canNOT be allowed to have any part in running our country. Equating being neighbors with Russia and Canada with foreign experience is theatrics - although theater is by and large more watchable than Palin. Everything that comes out of her mouth borders on gibberish, and what isn't ridiculous blustering is jaw-droppingly ignorant or party-line. She's simply appalling, and I'm embarrassed for her as a woman and as a politician. My friend E is heading to Reno to campaign for Obama this week, and I plan to join her as an Alaskan for Obama for a weekend in October.

I think one reason we lost the 2004 race is largely that we sat back a little, thinking no one could possibly vote for Bush after the shit he pulled during his first term. It was a mistake - if so small a term can be used for such a monumental failure - and I for one don't intend to let it happen again. I believe it was Olberman who said that if Sarah Palin gets elected VP, all 350 million Americans will have to evacuate the country, and he's so right it hurts.

29 September, 2008

Reserve This Space

Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah. Since I work for a Jewish family and take classes from 2 Jewish teachers, it's a day off for me. But - and I love this part - it's a religious holiday that I get off of work but don't have to spent in a place of worship. Awesome.

Therefore, tomorrow there will be action on the following fronts of my War to Rule the World:
- Ribbi Cardi progress (don't faint; it's not done)
- Cat Bordhi blows... my mind.
- Slippage but no breakage in the SPE. I bought stuff, but there's stuff to give away too!
- Orifice hooks of doom... and surpassing loveliness
- KFO gear
- Sarah Palin: Not My Governor

I plan to blog to AC/DC's Back in Black and I've been watching politics, so expect some snark. If it's sunny, I may sunbathe. But let's not go crazy or anything.

18 September, 2008

Run Out and Reset

So just after Brie left her comment about my adherence to the Social Pressure Experiment, I fell down a little. But before you snort into your tea (it is before noon, after all), allow me to explain. My friends Kate and Conrad moved to Prague, Czech Republic on Tuesday. They are some of the best, most loyal friends ever, and I will miss them terribly. A few years ago, I re-taught Kate how to knit, and she's been working doggedly away on the same garter stitch scarf ever since. When I learned they were actually leaving (it's been in the works for a couple of years now), I decided I would knit her something. Something gorgeous, lacy, and appropriate for going out to the nice dinners Conrad is so fond of. Something epic. Something like this.

Then, a week before they left, I spent the night at their place in order to help them get rid of all the wine they couldn't take with them to Europe, and Kate tried on my No-Purl Monkey socks. She's very sensitive to wool, but these, she gushed, were perfect - except that they are purple. Kate is not a girly-girl, and the only other color of Panda Silk in my stash was pink. So that settled it; off to the yarn store I went, in search of a Kate-colored Panda Silk that I could whip up into socks in the week before they left.

When I got to Purlescence, I did a bit of in-for-a-penny shopping and picked out three colors I knew Kate would like: straw, tan, and olive.

Olive was the color I pulled out of the bag first, so off I went. I started the socks on Tuesday, hoping to have them done in time for the going away party on Saturday. It didn't quite work out - I had worked through most of the second sock's gusset decreases by Saturday night. So in between sets of Rock Band, I knitted away, and managed to graft together the toe during Conrad's rendition of "Paranoid."

So yes, I bought yarn without intending to get rid of something in the stash. But I did seriously consider what I have before making my expedition, which was the major point of the Experiment in the first place. Neither Jasmin nor I are very interested in having a stash that fits into a shoebox; we simply wanted to break the habit of buying yarn on impulse.

I planned to confess once Jasmin got back from the California Wool Festival, but I received some unexpected absolution in the form of Jasmin's poor resist roll against fleece. She picked up one or two lovely things, and to assuage what she thought would be my indignation - as well as to make up for the loss of the Fleece That Got Away - she bought me 2 pounds of gorgeous oatmeal roving:
It's merino, raised and processed by a 93-year-old woman, and it's simply gorgeous. Every time I look at it, I see a cobweb ring shawl, all floaty and serene. Absolution, indeed. I 'fessed up to the Panda Silk, and we decided that we would call it a wash.

In other news, I've started the daunting task of Christmas knitting. It's really not so bad; I started with a simple diagonal scarf for my sissy out of some handspun. I realized at some point that I should probably have begun the hat first, so I put the scarf on hold and cast on for a hat last night:

I hope the colors agree with her. I'm pretty sure they will - she's wicked cute.

And speaking of wicked cute, let me show you something that is NOT:

This is the Norah Gaughan sweater that (dis)graces the front of the Webs catalog for Fall 08. Now, I'm a fan of Norah's, and I love her unconventional approach to construction. And I confess that at first, I liked this particular unconventional confection. But then I began to channel my inner Jessica and Heather, to the detriment of the garment. The epaulet shape on the collar/shoulders is very cute, but it does strange sag-inducing things to her bust. Then the bottom two rows of shapes create this weird, unattractive corset-but-not shape around her middle, and make her look like nothing so much as an aging flapper whose Spanx have lost their ability to rein in what they are designed to rein in. I hate it. Hate hate hate, and I can't think of a single person I know - of any size - who would look good in this shape.

This idea might possibly fly if the shaped bits stayed on the shoulders and dissolved into a nicely-fitted stockinette sweater, but as it is, I am just bowled over by the unflatteringlyness of the whole thing.

On the plus side, I really like the model's hair.

I don't have to work tomorrow - the Refreshingly Normal family is hanging out together, thus giving me an unexpected day off - so I'm headed up to the Farm tonight. I plan to spend the weekend laying on the porch and working on my as-yet-non-existent tan.

Have a good weekend!

06 September, 2008

Miles to Go

I've been plugging away at things lately. Inspiration seems to have dissolved along with my will to live in our annual early September heat wave, so I've been using the time to finish up a whack of stuff that has been hanging out on the needles:

No-Purl Monkey Socks, Panda Silk, 257 yds.

Daffodil Socks, Undulating Rib pattern, Lorna's Laces "Daffodil," 294 yds.

Theodora Sweater, Dream in Color Classy "Chinatown Apple" and "November Muse," 198 yds.

Ok, well that last one isn't 100% complete - I'll pull out the needle and thread to attach the buttons after I publish this post. But for real it'll get done today. I swear. 

I've also been fooling around with a Branching Out Stole, and I think I've come up with a workable pattern. I'm one whole repeat into the thing, and it seems to be coming along nicely. I'm nowhere near close on memorizing the lace yet though, so no pictures yet; I'm avoiding the 'lookie! I'm smart!' jinx. 

I've decided that 12 miles of knitting in 12 months isn't such a bad goal, so I'm extending my 12-Mile Quest through December. Despite the fact that once again I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew in terms of completed items, I do feel like I've been getting things done in a relatively timely fashion. This is not the time to mention to me how long the knitting on my Ribbi Cardi has been finished. I'm waiting for the Perfect Time to block it, and obviously that Time has not arrived. Shut up. 

Jasmin and I sat and chatted at Purlescence this afternoon, and I manfully resisted the siren call of a Perfected Henley's worth of Dream in Color. As far as I can tell, the company's not going anywhere and I should be able to get the yarn in February, should I still lust after it. This Social Pressure thing is working! 

However, I did pick up these little gems:

Shibui Knits Sock, "Hawaiian Sea"

We all agreed that if a knitter has been lusting after a color so much that it invades her dreams, she should probably make room for it in her stash, so it came home with me.  I'm not certain it wants to be socks, but I could be wrong - perhaps it wants to be some Millicents or even some German Stockings. Hmmm. Speaking of the ever-innovative Cookie A., I picked up her 2 newest patterns today: Ornette and Moselle. Aren't they lovely! It'll be awhile before I make them, considering that even simple things have my brain in a muddle lately, but they're in my queue nevertheless. 

I also brought this little unassuming ball home:

 Cascade SW merino, "Pie Crust"

It's not really called Pie Crust, but that's what it is destined to become. That's right folks, I remembered to get pie crust yarn after only a month and a half of forgetting. Call Guinness; we've got a record on our hands here. And while you're there, get me a celebratory beer. 

Lastly, Robin the Amazing remembered my abiding love for Schaefer and gave me this: 

Schaefer Anne... mmmm!

It's this lovely autumnal mixture of colors that just make me smile. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go purge 200 grams of yarn from my stash. I think the awful chenille in the back corner of my bureau might be just the thing...

P.S. - As promised, the Baby Surprise Jacket yardage was [drumroll please!]: 360 yds.