31 December, 2008

Obligatory Yearly Round-Up

Tonight, I say goodbye to 2008. It wasn't the best of years, but it wasn't entirely bad either. I learned a lot, played a lot of video games, knitted and spun, and accumulated enough fiber/yarn to fill several big Rubbermaid bins.

However, despite the allowance in the Social Pressure Experiment and my dwindling finances, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas, I said "nothing." That's right, instead of yarn, I said, "nothing," because I am an idiot. On the plus side, I did get several checks in varying amounts, so I decided to do the only possible appropriate thing: I used my Christmas money to buy yarn.

My first internet stop was WEBS, where I discovered that they sell 4 pound cones of Franklin sock yarn for $60. Actually, it's $48 because the discount kicks in, but let's just say $60 and include the shipping. That's 7200 yards, or roughly 20.5 pairs of Tika socks. I would like some recognition here and now for heroically abstaining from buying 4 pounds of yarn that I have never knit with, and instead buying only two skeins of the hand-dyed version instead. One is here:

Valley Yarns Franklin, "Macaw"
SW Merino/Nylon

And the other was curiously the only colorway that was sold out. Maybe it has something to do with the name. I also picked up the new Lorna's Laces colorway by Anne Modesitt, but it was mis-shipped so I'm waiting for that one too. Ah, the holiday season!

My second internet stop was at the Loopy Ewe, where I picked up some more Franklin-colored yarn:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, "Franklin's Panopticon"
SW Merino/Nylon

Delicious. And as if that weren't enough to keep me drooling all day, Jasmin and I went to the Bobbin's Nest yesterday for a sale. A 35% off sale. A sale at which I picked up these little beauties from Pagewood Farm:

Alyeska Sock Yarn "River Rock"
SW Merino/Cashmere/Nylon

Denali Sock Yarn "Santa Fe"
SW Merino/Nylon

And this one from Hazel Knits:
Artisan Sock Yarn, "Euphorbia"
SW Merino/Nylon

Yum. Even ManCandy was impressed with my carefully chosen haul. I also picked up Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Just, y'know, 'cause they were there. And because I'm involved in a supa-secret project that - should it come to fruition - would require a higher level of intimacy with designing than the one I currently possess.

So that was Christmas, not including the lovely case of 2-Buck Chuck hand-picked for me by THB and a set of awesome Dead Sea Spa products from the Mother Ship. Wine, spa, and yarn. Doesn't get much better than that!

All in all, this year I completed 8 miles, 944 yards-worth of knitted items, not counting my infernal Ribbi Cardi and languishing Salina Sweater. That's 50 items all together, spread out over 75 blog posts! Next year, I'm shooting for 12 miles again, but I think I've got a better handle on how to approach it. Next year I'm also going to begin knitting through EZ's Knitter's Workshop, as I said t'other day. I snuggled up and read the first 4 chapters last night and went to bed with visions of sweaters dancing in my head. I'm pretty excited to finish up these Seeded Rib Scarves and get started! Only 2.5 more to go...

I announced to Jasmin before Christmas this year that I was stealing her self-renewal idea for myself. Thus, Tika 2009 will encompass several ideas, all of which I will try to apply to several areas of my life.

1) Experimentation. I used to be the girl who said "sure, let's do it!" but somewhere along the line I lost my way. While my new, in-my-30's experimentation will involve fewer rock stars, I'd like to go back to the impetuosity that kept my life... well, if not enriched, at least entertaining.

2) Organization. I am an organization nightmare. When it comes to work or school, I'm totally on top of things, but in my house I have stuff everywhere and it's driving me nuts. I'd like to get rid of a lot of Things - the kinds of Things that weigh on the soul, not the Things that are made of wool or silk or paper! Books and yarn will always have a place in my home. They're insulating.

3) Reasonable Expectations. Cleaning out a box of stuff every day is not reasonable beyond 2-3 days. One per week, on the other hand, might be do-able. This is an offshoot of the SPE, since our whole intention was to adjust our expectations and habits.

Really, Tika 2009-75 might be about all of these things. But in keeping with #3, we'll just try it out for a year and see how it goes, shall we?

Happy New Year to all! It should kick off nicely with the inauguration, don't you think? The unknown has always held a special fascination for me; I'm excited to see how this year, with all its changes and adjustments will play out. Much love!

Twelve in 2009

Here are my self-imposed and somewhat flexible rules for my 2009 12-Mile Quest:

1) Knit and/or spin through 12 miles of completed items in 2009.
a) Handspun yarn can be counted twice - once for the spinning and once for the knitting.
b)The yardage of completed items is based on weight, using the weight/yardage ratios printed on the ball band.
c) If yardage is not available, reasonable estimation is allowed.

2) Works in progress as of 1/1/09 can be counted, except the Infernal Ribbi Cardi, which has its knitting completed and is only waiting on a matching Infernal Zipper.

3) Some form of Stash Equilibrium should be maintained. Perhaps there will be more on this later, and perhaps there won't. Maybe I'll just try to keep up some Reasonable Habits (TM).

2008 Finished Objects

Ok, it's still "objects finished in 2008," but this title is much more goal-worthy, don't you agree??

1/6 - Grape Jelly pencil roving, 113 yds.
1/11 - Copperpot Woolies Dye4U roving, 205 yds.
1/13 - Charade Socks for Gabe, ~326 yds.
1/24 - Flor de Loto roving, 233 yds.
2/6 - Cargo Pants, 202 yds.
2/14 - Hedera Socks, 268 yds.
2/17 - A Fetching Rainbow, 83 yds.
2/20 - Faina's Scarf, 462 yds.
3/18 - Rhubarb roving, 202 yds.
3/19 - Zombie socks, 315 yds.
3/25 - Egyptian Jungle Cardigan, ~200 yds.
3/29 - Black Magic roving, 383 yds.
4/3 - Reversai Socks, 347 yds.
4/18 - Quietude roving, 171 yds.
4/18 - Millefiore roving, 205 yds.
5/2 - Buffalo Soldier roving, 233 yds.
5/20 - Perplexed roving, 450 yds.
6/11 - Wussy No More Socks, 311 yds
6/13 - Juno Wedding Shawl, ~950 yds.
6/26 - Black Forest Shawl, 383 yds.
7/5 - Tobacco Road roving, 903 yds.
7/11 - Stutter Socks, 436 yds.
7/18 - Pink Sky Socks, 51 yds.
7/27 - Under the Boardwalk roving, 694 yds.
7/29 - Seed Stitch Shoes, 56 yds.
7/29 - Veteran's Hat #1, 106 yds.
7/31 - Veteran's Hat #2, 142 yds.
8/1 - Veteran's Hat #3, 87 yds.
8/4 - Veteran's Hat #4, 92 yds.
8/8 - Torch Island, 255 yds.
8/11 - Veteran's Hat #5, 120 yds.
8/15 - Veteran's Hat #6, 120 yds.
8/20 - Baby Mama Shawl, 267 yds.
8/23 - Baby Surprise Jacket, 360 yds.
8/28 - No-Purl Monkey Socks, 257 yds.
9/6 - Daffodil Socks, 294 yds.
9/6 - Theodora Sweater, 198 yds.
9/13 - No-Purl Monkeys, 298 yds.
9/20 - Torch Island Hat and Scarf, 255 yds.
10/4 - Pink Lightning Socks, 303 yds.
10/25 - Elphaba Socks, 531 yds.
11/1 - Duckling Dove Socks - 319 yds.
11/13 - Seeded Rib Scarf - 233 yds.
11/20 - Gabe's Socks - 400 yds.
12/17 - Alexander's Hat - 120 yds.
12/19 - Erick's Hat - 120 yds.
12/20 - Seeded Rib Scarf #2 - 215 yds.
12/22 - Seeded Rib Scarf #3 - 216 yds.
12/27 - Seeded Rib Scarf #4 - 215 yds.

29 December, 2008

Meddy Wistas!

I hope you all had a lovely Merry Christmas and are looking forward to 2009 as much as I am! In the next year I will graduate from college, get a Big Girl job, and try very hard to modify my expectations so that they are a) reasonable and b) achievable. I will also try to knit myself enough socks to carry me through any winter harsher than a Silicon Valley one. But more on that later; I have pictures!

Seeded Rib Scarf #3 for Aunt C.
Malabrigo "Indigo," 216 yds.

Seeded Rib Scarf #4 for Grandma A.
Malabrigo "Stonechat," 216 yds.
(This is actually Scarf #2, but it's the same scarf)

I've begun my FIFTH Seeded Rib Scarf out of Manos del Uruguay man-colored yarn that I bought ages ago at The Knitting Arts. I also began my KAL project with Brie: the creatively named Scarf #21 with Edging Insert from Victorian Lace Today. I chose some Schaefer Anne from my stash that my friend Robin gave me. This is the first time I've used the Anne - mostly I just sit and pet it obsessively - and I'm in not just love, but lurve. It's perfect for lace, and as soon as I'm done with my 2.5 remaining seeded rib scarves I plan to dive into this scarf with perfect abandon. And possibly the the rest of my stash of Anne.

This year, I'm also going to attempt to put myself through garment construction school by working my way through Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Workshop. So, to sum up the impending new year: Graduate, Big Girl Job, Reasonable Expectations, Socks and Sweaters.

23 December, 2008

A Snort of Reprieve

I had a crappy night. My boss assured me that I would indeed be needed at 8am sharp tomorrow - groan. You may recall that the cat food ran out (see yesterday under barrel, bottom of)  and when I tried to go buy new, they had 2/3 of the kinds of cat food I need to keep my petit chats digestive systems in working order. Believe me, petless people, when I say that changing the mixture of a cat's food and then leaving for 3 days will almost guarantee that you return home to a newer, smellier and more textured floor covering than you left behind. It's practically begging for it. And the nice guy at the pet food store helpfully informed me that the shipment of the 1/3 I need will be coming in - you guessed it - tomorrow at 8am. ARGH. 

So I bought 2 30-pound bags and one 3 pound bag and mixed myself up a mere 9 pounds of cat food - enough to last for the next couple of weeks, but mama doesn't mess with a working recipe. So 9 pounds it is. And then, to add insults to my pile of heaping coals and quickly degenerating mood, when I tried to change the litter out of the boxes on the porch, I did it wrong and got used cat litter all over my (rotting) porch. More on the rotting later, but it doesn't really fit into this story. I haven't fallen through... yet. 

I staggered back inside after cleaning everything up to find Panza scratching at a suspiciously wet spot on the Red Futon of Undying Ugliness. Oh, yes. While I was cleaning his toilet, the little bastard pissed all over my futon. 

I got so mad I bundled the whole thing up and dragged it to the trash. 

Then I called ManCandy in Illinois to inform him that we are now two seats/one bed short in our living room, and what did he intend to do about it? Because clearly if he hadn't left and had been sitting at his computer, Panza would never have christened the futon. The fact that he likely would have christened my bed instead was something MC was wise enough not to bring up. 

Lastly, I cracked a bottle of Ravenswood Old Vine Shiraz - smells like chocolate and black cherries - and sat down to watch my new obsession: Smallville. Surely packing could wait until I was calmer.

Then... my boss called to inform me that she does not, in fact, need me tomorrow, Merry Christmas, and she'll see me on the 5th. Next, ManCandy called to say that I shouldn't worry about the weird smell in the fridge, that it'll keep (HAH!) till Saturday, and that he'll clean it when he gets back home. Plus he loves me even when I blame him for things that aren't his fault (or so he claims). And lastly, my mom called to tell me that my grandmother isn't coming to Christmas after all due to the horrible weather in Portland - which makes me sad, but also means I have all the gifts finished for Household #2. 

I think I'll have another glass of wine, oogle Lex Luthor while contemplating why a girl with 3 feet of hair is attracted to a bald guy, sleep in tomorrow morning, and then leave for family, hearth and home for Christmas. All in all, it turned out rather well, I'd say.

22 December, 2008

Spend It, But Don't Waste It

As I may have mentioned before, the Relatively Normals are Jewish. This means that instead of taking the Elder to catechism, I take her to Hebrew school, and that I get what are to me random days off when there is a Jewish holiday. It also means that around Christmas time they need a sitter for their kids, as they don't celebrate the season the same way my family does.

All this to say, today and tomorrow I planned to work from 8-6 so that the parental units could work while the kids enjoyed Hannukah break at home. Unfortunately, the Father caught some sort of 24-hour flu that has been going around his family - first the Younger, then the Mother. I got a call at 7 this morning telling me for God's sake to please stay home and don't breathe around anyone who might be sick, because they would certainly need me tomorrow. I told them to call me if they needed me to shove anything through the mail slot.

But it gives me an unexpected day, for which I am grateful beyond belief. I intend to buy cat food because the term "scraping the bottom of the barrel" became thoroughly clear to me this morning, and to take my student assistant papers to the SJSU HR department so that I can work in the slide room next semester. After that, my duties will be done and I can watch Smallville for the rest of the day.


21 December, 2008

Getting There

Let's see. I have pictures and FO's and yes, the embroidery pictures. But first, a confession that will shock no one: I have failed at my 12-Mile Quest for 2008. I tried everything from knitting faster to squinting sideways, but there wasn't any real, practical way to get my tally up from barely starting Mile 9 to over Mile 12. That, my friends, is three sweaters, or 12 pairs of socks, or one really scary Wedding Shawl. None of which are feasible between now and oh, 10 days hence.

So, on January 1, I'm starting over. I'm going to maintain my attempt at having reasonable expectations for myself, and say 12 miles for the entire year of 2009, instead of getting to September and realizing that I need to extend my goals. There is a stress point at which I operate perfectly - there's just enough pressure that I feel motivated, but not so much that I throw up my hands and admit defeat. Next year will be about trying to nail down that stress point more clearly so that I can be more productive but less agitated. We'll see if that works...

I'm also debating between 2009 as the Year of Lace or the Year of Socks. Mostly because I'm graduating in May - surely you've heard - and if I move it will be to somewhere colder than the Silicon Valley, and I will need more hand-knitted socks if I intend to survive. Which I do - if only to avoid passing my student loan debt onto my parents. Anyway, these are the things I ponder when I don't have slide tests to cram for or papers to whip up.

Yesterday I finished up this little beauty:

Seeded Rib Scarf #2, Malabrigo "Stonechat," 215 yds.

It'll be for Grandma M. Next up is a Seeded Rib Scarf #3 out of Malabrigo's "Indigo" for my Aunt C.; I've discovered that I'm quite fond of how the seeded rib looks, so that's the theme for the rest of the Christmas and King's Feast scarves. Only one more for Household 2!

In between Alexander's Hat and the Seeded Rib #2, I made a hat for ManCandy in Michigan colors. Neither hat is in my possession at the moment, but they're pretty standard hats, and based on the weights of the Veteran's Hats I made this summer should be around 120 yards, so that's what I'm putting for each. Which brings today's 12-Mile Quest total up to 455 yards; not that I'm counting so much at the moment, but maybe I'll finish up Mile 9 before the year turns.

In other news, here are the embroidery pictures:

Mandala #1, mostly finished

Mandala #2, about 1/2 finished

Sort-of comparative sizes.

Ultimately there will be 3 mandalas on the rectangular piece of fabric, all pretty much the same size (about 5" square). Currently the first one is about 4" square and the smaller one is about 2". In terms of time commitment, I had completed about 95% of what you see in Mandala #1 before I decided to use this as my art project for school, so it only took about 2-3 hours to get it to where it is now. Mandala #2 represents about 40 hours of work up to this point, and I left out some of the filler in favor of overall size. The mandalas themselves were designed by Martina Weber, who is a gifted artist in terms of her embroidery work. I have several of her designs stashed away, waiting for the whim to overtake me. She prefers to work in silks and beads, which are beautiful but also expensive, and so I don't have many of her pieces kitted up.

The piece is being worked on 40-count linen over 2 threads, which means that instead of each cross stitch taking up only one warp/weft pair in the fabric (+), it takes up 4 (#). Therefore, there are 20 stitches per inch on the fabric, which means I need quiet, a big chunk of time, and good strong light to work on this. It is, to say the least, rather time consuming.

Happy Holidays, everyone! I'm off to finish reveling in my only day off with no one in the house. I think I'll celebrate with a glass of wine and some television. And, of course, a Seeded Rib Scarf.

17 December, 2008

Epic But Not Legendary

There's this famous line of Mandy Patinkin's in The Princess Bride that talks about how difficult it is to explain everything, and instead one should just simply sum up. You probably know it. And hence, you probably already anticipate what I'm about to do.

Tomorrow is my last final. It's not going to be tough because my professor is going to Iran on the 27th and doesn't wish to grade any essays, so we get slide ID's instead. I love this. I can cram for slide ID's like my brain was made for it. Therefore, in my head, I'm pretty much done with this semester, and it looks like I'll only need 2 more classes to get a BA. TWO. After twelve years of college, fiddy-billion credits and not a few false starts in majors for which I am clearly ill-suited, I'm going to be done. Done, done done!!

Give me 5 years in the real world and I'll be begging to get back into academics.

Since the middle of November, lots of things have been going on. I direct your attention to my San Diego Trip * and also the joint Birthday Party that Chloe and I had at the Cal Academy. Missing is the Mexico Trip because the photos are all on my laptop and I'll have to upload them later. There were pelicans, baby lions and tigers, pelicans, family, and lots of long-exposure night shots. It's awesome, and apparently I have a thing for Mexican pelicans. Weird.

My Salina sweater is a double fail. It's still sitting in the bag; I've finished up to the armpits and half-way up the top of the back, but good lord that much stockinette is mind-numbing. Also I had to work on an as-yet unphotographed embroidery piece for my Islamic Art class, which cut into my knitting time by quite a bit. However, I still intend to finish it; I'm taking it to Mom's for Christmas holiday knitting. Here's what I have finished recently:
Socks for Gabe in Regia 4-ply (Man Yarn!)

One of 2 Elder R-N Socks - leftover Opal from Natalie's BSJ
A beanie for Alexander - leftover Classy from umpteen baby projects

Seriously, I think I have a hob goblin of some sort in my Dream in Color stash. I've been knitting with this Classy for a year, inserting it here and there, and it's still not gone. I thought for sure this hat would finish at least one of the 2 colors off, but no. Hopefully the addition of a huge pompon on the top will help. Anyone know where I can get a giant pompon maker?

These projects bring me close to completion of my Christmas Knitting. Of the 4 households I intended to give knitted gifts to, I have one completed (minus the pompon...) and nearly wrapped and ready to ship up to Alaska. I'm not finished with Household #2 because my mother called me and announced that my grandmother, aunt, and 2 cousins are coming for Christmas, so I added Aunt C and Grandma M to the list. (Maybe I won't be knitting on my Salina after all...). Household 3 celebrates on January 6, so I'm ok to start late for them - which is good, because I just ordered the yarn for their Christmas gifts yesterday. Hats and Scarves for all on that one. This is one of those times when I bemoan my inability to knit with chunky yarns! The 4th household is the Relatively-Normals, and while I may not get their gifts finished in time, I can give them knits any time. Maybe I'll buy them a board game instead - perhaps Settlers of Catan.

So the count stands at:

Household 1: 4/4 (pompon!)
Household 2: 2/4
Household 3: 0/4
Household 4: .5/2

Sigh. And I thought I was doing so well! Tika 2009 is going to be all about reasonable expectations, I swear. But more on that later - Tika 2008 needs to feverishly finish her Christmas knitting.

* Complete with Adorable BabyBean pictures! Laurie, I set it so they're not downloadable, but if you want'em I'll email them. Malia, same for you.

01 December, 2008

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

... to announce our own Private Knitting Olympics, which will take place in that special spot in Hell that also services Finals, Work, and Blind Panic. 


Because I encountered an Epic Fail in my NaKniSweMo sweater, which is exactly as far along as it was last time I posted a picture. 

Because my Islamic Art professor invited me to a gathering at her house on the 14th of December. And present at this gathering will be Carol Beir, most recent president of the Textile Society of America. A woman whose experience and knowledge surpass my own so much that I may not get sound to pass through my vocal cords. And my professor specifically invited me to help me make the contact with this titan of the textile world.


I'll see you all on the 15th with the promised San Diego, Thanksgiving and Big Day updates. Excuse me, I have to go knit a sweater.

Happy December!

Wow. It's December already?!? I'm looking outside, and I feel like nothing has changed, but that's been a common theme lately. Somehow winter went from my least favorite to my most anticipated season - I think it has something to do with the lack of actual winter in California. 

Anyway, I'm off to class. It's down to 2 weeks before finals, so I'm in Paper Writing Hell, but I'll try to update you guys on the San Diego trip, the Mexico trip, and the upcoming Big Day (not THAT kind of Big Day. A different one. Involving multiples of decades and a birth.)


Paper Count:

20 November, 2008

10-minute blog post!

Oh yes, cheer in exultation, my friends. Today you get TEN minutes worth of information instead of the usual FIVE. I know you're excited. 

Knitting. There has been some - quite a bunch, really. I stopped doing the November Sweater thing when I realized with a panic that I can't make some people in my family handmade gifts and simply buy things for the rest; my family is all craftsy and artsy, and they know the difference in time/thought commitment between handmade and store-bought. 

After several tries, the Buffalo Soldier 3-ply I spun up awhile ago became a scarf in short order - 2 days of knitting and my dad has a Christmas present:

Seeded Rib Scarf, CMF "Buffalo Soldier" 3-ply, 233 yds.

That's a Seeded Rib pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Stitch Dictionary. I have come to the conclusion that I need to knit with more handspun. Jasmin will get all "I told you so!" in the comments, and she's totally right. I need to spin more so I can knit with more handspun, because it's utterly charming. I was more pleased knitting up this little scarf than anything I can think of recently, except for Jessie's hat and scarf... which are also made of handspun. Oh, and my stepmom's shawl - ALSO handspun. Two incidences make a straight line, but three is a trend, as my engineer father is wont to say. Clearly I need to bust out the Sonata more often.

Here's another shot just 'cause I'm so chuffed about the scarf:

Last weekend, I was off on both Friday and Monday as the Relatively Normal's had a bar mitzvah to attend in New York State. I had planned to spend the weekend drinking wine and enjoying the first weekend of the newest World of Warcraft expansion, but I was thwarted when my father called up and asked if he could fly me to LA to spend time with him. I admit freely that I was a little bummed - my dad and I have a rocky relationship, and I had planned my long weekend out to the hour, including time for school projects and going to pick up dinner to eat it in front of the computer screen (can't sit at a restaurant! must level!). But filial duty is a strong part of my nature, and I knew I'd enjoy myself once I got there. 

My dad's college roommate, Sam, was docked in San Diego, so Papa picked me up at the airport and we headed down there to see him and his family. Sam is a character; his family is independently wealthy due to some clever choices in the early part of the 20th century, but he hasn't ever used the money except as a potential safety net. Instead, he buys derelict yachts, fixes them up, then sells them again - but not before sailing them around the world to "make sure they're ship-shape." Needless to say, the man has more stories than Grimm's. I spent an exceedingly pleasant weekend learning about boats, visiting the Maritime Museum and the San Diego Zoo, and learning how to navigate in the world of traveling people. I took a bunch of pictures, and you can see them here; although as of right now not all of them are up on Flickr yet. 

That's the end of my 10 minutes, but I also finished a pair of socks for Gabe's Christmas present - ~400 yards of Regia 4-ply. Pictures to follow!

06 November, 2008

The Harsh Mistress

All together now, let's breathe a sigh of combined relief and just a tinge of sadness. As Mrs. Bennet might have said, "President-Elect Obama! How well that sounds!" Just typing it out gives me a little thrill, and I've been celebrating with champagne. Have you ever noticed how champagne tastes better when you're not guzzling it in a gibbering wreck on the couch, but cheering progress and a new direction for your country with your friends?

On the other hand, it's looking like Prop 8 may have passed in California. I'm consoling myself by guzzling wine on the couch. Champagne and wine do not go together very well, surprisingly. Something to do with the bubbles, I think. I'm also consoling myself with the hope that the Obama Administration ("Mr. Bennet, the White House has been let at last!") will appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who will find that the gender of married people has no business being a legal issue. I don't see how it's ANY of my business whom other people choose to marry, although you may call me old-fashioned if I state here and now that I'm opposed to inter-species weddings. Other than that, go nuts.

In other news, it's NaKniSweMo. I decided to work on my Salina this month in the lovely Felted Tweed I bought just before the Social Pressure Experiment began. To be honest, it was that particular purchase along with another tumble that prompted the Social Pressure Experiment, at least on my side. And please will someone buy up the 25%-off Felted Tweed at Purlescence this week before I start to make excuses?

Anyway. Salina. In the last 5 days, I have trucked through the bottom-edge decreases and yesterday cruised into the increases:

For those playing at home, it's about 300 yards in and 7.5" long.

I'm contemplating bust darts for this, but I haven't decided yet. And I'm not there yet, not having a torso the size of a pixie's. Anyway. I was teaching the Younger Relatively Normal about multiplication and division last night, and seized upon the brilliant idea of teaching him by way of gauge. Aren't I clever? We measured 4" on the tape measure, counted up the stitches, and divided the number by 4 to get 6.75.

Blink blink.

Let's take this opportunity to teach Younger R-N some more basics of division, shall we?
Number of stitches around: 210.
Number of stitches in an inch: 6.75.
210/6.75 = ~31".

Now, let's measure Tika's true waist: 34".


While I am slimming down pretty quickly from the weight I gained eating tons of delicious Indian food at the Sanatarium, I am unlikely to shed THREE INCHES from my waist in the next three weeks. And let's not forget our friend Positive Ease. Or her cousin, Wearing Shirts Under Potentially Itchy Sweaters.

When I got home, I pulled out my needle gauge with a sense of trepidation. Sure enough, I had blithely ignored the instructions to go up a needle size after finishing the seed stitch border. This morning I woke up, pulled out the ball winder, fixed myself a strong cup of coffee (helpful after an evening of guzzling wine and champagne, see above), and went to work.


And yet, there is a positive note in all of this. Younger R-N learned multiplication, along with several other choice phrases he's never ever under pain of death allowed to repeat to his parents. Or his sister. Or anyone, really.

It's only day 6, and there is time to recover so I can finish the sweater before Dec. 1.

And then there's this:

02 November, 2008


Duckling Dove Socks, Knit Picks Bare "Pink Lemonade"
319 yds.

30 October, 2008

Whom Do You Love?

SAN JOSE, CA - Knitters across America were shocked to discover on November 5 that their brother and sister knitters in California are no longer allowed to get married, and that all marriages between two knitters were dissolved. 
"It's startling and unfair," said Jasmin C., 26, of San Jose. "Just because my partner and I choose this lifestyle doesn't mean I'm less than a person." 
"I don't know how this happened," said one knitter who asked not to be identified. "Our pastimes don't harm anyone  - if you don't count sitting on the occasional double-pointed needle - and knitters are often good members of society in many ways. We shop locally and tend to give to charity more than other groups." 
Supporters of the ban say that knitters are "more than welcome to marry non-knitters," said Erick F., 25, San Jose. "They're always showing off their socks and shoving their yarn in people's faces. If they would just stick to video games like the rest of society, we wouldn't have to take away their human rights - or rather, their privileges. If they choose to be knitters, then they've also made the choice not to get married to one another. It's as simple as that." Other interviewees who also asked not to be identified cited knitting as a choice and their disgust at the idea of knitting being taught in schools as the reason they supported the ban. 

Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve

It's Thursday, Oct. 30, and in any other year I would be cackling over my Halloween costume and planning my route to various parties. But this year, I'm simply sitting, waiting anxiously for Tuesday. Everything that doesn't involve voting somehow seems unimportant, which is how I can justify procrastinating on my paper for Biology. This year, I am going to only one gathering - not really a party, more a collection of friends - at Jasmin's house to play Rock Band and hand out candy to kids. My costume will consist of a pair of rockin' jeans, possibly a corset but more likely a tank top, and some yet-to-be-procured colored hair gel. Oh, and a plethora of eye makeup.

The stasis I feel about the election seems to have very little impact on my fingers. Knitting is a fantastic pastime for the twitchily anxious, and in that light I am thrilled to show these off!

Elphaba Socks, Knit Picks Multi "Meadows," 531 yds.

They're just a teensy bit tight; next time I'll start the calf increases a little lower. But for my purposes, I love them. The night I bound them off, we went to hear our friend Juanita sing at Unwined and had a fantastic time.
Me, Lisa, Jasmin, and Gigi. Photograph by Andrew.

I came home and immediately started another pair of socks in the same yarn base so I wouldn't have to fuss with swatching. I'm nearly to the heel of the second sock, which is a small kind of miracle as I had to think very carefully about whether to frog the first one and start over. These socks are Duckling socks of the highest degree. They are stunningly ugly until you put them on your foot, and then they're quite nice. Since I don't intend to show them to many people off my feet, I decided to keep going along and finish the pair. I'm fairly enamored of the colorway; I dyed it way back in the day with Kool-Aid, and I may need to figure out a way to reproduce it using more professional-grade dyes.

Duckling Dove Sock #1

Now if you'll excuse me, my coffee is finally ready and I can now go check out 538.

24 October, 2008

Compromise is the Spice of Life

The other day there was a fire drill at SJSU. Yes, a leave your bags don't come in the building kind of fire drill. I felt like I was in high school, except that I didn't feel like such a total dork talking only to my professors. And I went back to class instead of going to coffee. But anyway.

I showed my Niebling doily to my Islamic professor, and she said that there is an Islamic debate about lace - it's sensual and attractive, which sort of goes against the idea of the hijab - which both she and I argue is a precursor to the mantilla. Ahem. Moving on. So my prof said that I would have to at least imply the link between lace and Islamic art, which would require a paper. And since my point was to avoid writing a paper for this particular class at any cost, I've gone digging through my embroidery stash to see if there's anything remotely useful in there.

Lo and behold, there is. Check this out:

The mini mandalas of Martina Weber, otherwise known as Chatelaine. Her designs are absolutely stunning, and this particular little trio will work nicely for my class - especially since I have already begun the project, and thus have all the necessary accoutrement.

Thus - and here is the material point - I can now start the something lacy and lovely I have been dreaming of. Brie, are you ready?? :D

22 October, 2008

5-Minute Blog Post

This may become a regular feature! anyway, time is ticking.

First, the Drive for Change trip. We headed out for Reno on a Friday and then to Dayton, about an hour further on for canvassing on Saturday and Sunday. I've never really experienced the desert; it was stark and pretty at the same time, and the lack of big buildings or huge trees made for some pretty stunning views. The campaign workers asked us to try to be inconspicuous about the fact that we were coming in from California, so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have normally, but we did manage a picture of this trebuchet sitting in someone's side yard. It was pointed at the neighbor across the street's garage, but I'm sure that was just coincidence...

The rest of the photos are here.

Then came Color: A Fiber Festival this last Saturday. As previously mentioned, I descended gracefully from the SPE wagon. Originally I had intended to but nothing, and it would have worked if Jasmin hadn't started crowing about being morally superior. I blame her. I bought from A Girl on the Rocks, Pigeonroof Studios, and new-to-me Celleach Dyes, which is run by the lovely Kelley and her family - including Brynn (who helps skein yarn) and Rowan (who might be the cutest 3-year-old on the planet right now).

Pictures are here.

Then on the way home, No-Blog Rachel informed J and I that there was a yarn swap planned at Purlescence for Sunday, which promptly absolved me of all my Saturday purchasing. I went through my stash like a whirlwind, culling things left, right and center. Then I divided the pile into 3 bags: Wool-Ease (originally purchased to make sweaters before I knew better), Baby Yarn (gag acrylic!) and Stuff Other Knitters Might Actually Want. That's not to say that Wool-Ease and Baby Yarn aren't perfectly respectable yarns; they certainly are. I'm just a snob, really, when it comes right down to it.

This is what 12 pounds of yarn looks like.

I didn't intend to pick anything up at the swap, but J had left 5 skeins of lace-weight tan that would be perfect for over-dyeing. At 6000 yards, I couldn't pass it up - especially with my Lace Bibles staring at me, and my new as-yet-unexplored interest in Niebling. (ETA - Thanks for catching the spelling, and for the suggestions, Diela! I have a better place to start now. :))

I also grabbed a stunning red in the same brand; only 1200 yards this time, but it's enough for the Faux Russian Stole that has been drifting through my dreams.

This particular red is one of my favorites, most likely because my blankie when I was a child was this color and so I associate it with comfort. Plus I just love red.

And finaly, J dug this out of her stash so that I can make a mis-matched pair of socks for the eldest Relatively Normal. She doesn't wear socks that match, and since I promised her a pair for Hanukkah, I'll be making 2 different ones.

Elphaba Sock #2 is trucking along. I'm about to start the calf increases, so there are only about 12 more inches of sock to go...

20 October, 2008

Midterms Should Be Banned

So here's the short version: 

Reno turned out to be Dayton, and it was a great experience. Not much to talk about, but there were a few pictures. 

Color: A Fiber Festival happened on Saturday. Jasmin was morally superior, we met the cutest 3-year-old girl on the planet, and I chose to descend gracefully from the wagon.

Thankfully, there was a yarn swap at Purlescence on Sunday. I took 12.3 pounds of yarn and came away with significantly less. Way less. I swear. 

There are pictures of all of this. I'm just busy with papers and midterms and the occasional sitting very still and wishing very hard for the election to come out right. It's getting less occasional as the days roll by. I've been so busy wishin' and hopin' that I just barely turned the heel of Elphaba Sock #2 yesterday; it's been a slow month. 

P.S. - I rule at Mario Kart, especially with a bottle of wine under my belt at 4am. I tell you, I am formidable. And stuff.

08 October, 2008

Back to the Knitting

I've been up to a couple of things lately. Since I went to the Cat Bordhi class with Jasmin, I've been cranking out socks like nobody's business. Something about Cat's method clicked in my brain, and I've been sort of off to the races. My second Christmas project is done!

Pink Lightning socks, Trekking XXL, 303 yds., for Lisa

That's two down and... several more to go. Come to think of it, I should probably begin Mom's socks soon; she wants Clessidra knee-highs. But in the mean time, I'm working on some Halloween socks for myself!
Elphaba Socks, Knit Picks Essential "Meadows."

These are Riverbed style socks. The increases are exactly the same as the Pink Lightning ones, but they're on the bottom of the foot. I'm working a k3p1 rib up the leg, and I'll see how far I get. Depending on how much leg length I can get out of one ball, I may need to order an extra; I should know by the end of knitting tonight.

And lastly, I cleaned off the chair in my bedroom, settled in, and cast on for a Salina sweater from Rowan Vintage Knits.

It's the sweater on the front of the book, and I am in lurve with it. Currently I'm only 9 rows in, but I'm in no hurry to get it done; there are Christmas presents looming on the horizon first, and a secret project for school. Darcy loves it when I hang out in the bedroom chair. He curls up on the bed and purrs as if all were right with his world. I may have to indulge in that little scenario more often - it's surprising how calming it really is to just sit and knit on my own.

This weekend, Nadia and I are heading to Reno, NV, to get out the vote. According to 538, Nevada is light blue. Should be a great weekend!

For My Undecided Dad.

Hi Papa!

The New York Times did a real-time fact-check during the debate. Since I know you're not super-impressed with either candidate, this might highlight some of the differences between what they said and what's actually verifiable.


Here's my sum-up:

I feel like both did a better job at answering the questions than they did at the last debate. There seemed to be less dodging of issues and more coming back to the point from both people. I agree with Obama's policies more than with McCain's in every area I can think of at the moment.

I believe strongly that Obama is right when he says that despite the economic trouble we're in, we have to invest in healthcare and education, because keeping people healthy is economically sound and lowering higher education costs is critical if enough American kids are going to attend college to keep the country running.

I disagree with McCain when he says that he knows how to win the war in Iraq, that he knows how to find bin Laden, and that he is a "cool hand at the tiller," as he said in the debate.
-Firstly, in Vietnam he crashed FIVE planes before he was captured as a POW, and despite his heroism we obviously didn't win the war. And is Iraq even a war we can "win"? The contrast to winning is losing, and in my opinion, there's neither victory or defeat to be extracted from the war in Iraq. We just need to get the hell OUT of there and let them run their own damn country.
-Second, if he knows how to find bin Laden, why hasn't he done it already? He has never put forward a plan to find the man, nor told anyone in government where he is, and he has been on record saying *literally* "I know where he is." That's messed up. If he knows, he shouldn't wait till he's president to go find the bastard.
-and Third, I think he's not a "cool hand at the tiller." Crashing a bunch of planes already qualifies him for a full psych evaluation, much less his horrifying experiences in Vietnam. His insistence that if we don't claim victory in Iraq, we come home in defeat shows - in my opinion - his unwillingness to see things in anything less black-and-white than win or lose.

In short, McCain scares me. Economically speaking, I don't understand how buying up people's bad house loans and then re-negotiating with the banks will help us in a crisis. Isn't buying bad debt what got us here in the first place? He kept harping on how the government is going to buy the bad loans and fix the problem, but as far as I can see that just creates more government housing.

There are other points, but this is getting longer than I think it should be. Suffice to say, I believe more in the experience and willingness to dedicate themselves to renewing America's respect level in the world when it comes to the Obama/Biden ticket. I want my president (and VP) to be smarter, more educated and more experienced than I am. I don't have head-scratching moments when Obama speaks, and I do when McCain says things like "I know how to win the war."

Obama said something tonight that struck me deeply. When asked how America can be a peacemaking nation, he said that in order to maintain peace around the world, we need to have good connections with other countries; that we can't do it alone; that we have to be willing to globalize our efforts for peace, and therefore for prosperity for everyone. At the heart of my being, I concur.

That's why I'm going to Nevada this weekend to sign people up to vote: because I believe that being involved in the process is important, and that we have to own our values and our decisions. It's also why Obama gets my vote.

Love you!

07 October, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Obama Bank Shot
Originally uploaded by roadkillrefugee
I give you the next President of these United States.
(Photo from Flickr member roadkillrefugee)

02 October, 2008

Please, just don't vote.

P.S. - Leo, call me! Anytime!

01 October, 2008


Despite the sheer, numbing terror I feel when I think of Sarah Palin as Veep, it doesn't even come close to how angry it makes me that she is currently speaking for all Alaskans. 


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!