Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My balls aren't round

This is my progress on the cat toy. I did careful calculations for the heavier weight yarn, and I managed to forget all about them when it came to adjusting the rows. So my balls are a little oblong.

I've just started the I-cord. That's some crazy shit! It's so bizarre the way it works out. My only problem is how to hide the tails when I switch colors. Can I just tuck them into the middle of the magic tube of knitting?

I took the toy for a test run. Kouros seemed to like it quite a lot. I didn't even put the catnip in this one. I'm saving that for the mice.

You don't think he likes them so much because he's reliving his youth- you know, pre-neutering- do you?

brings back old times....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Two days in a row?????

We got out and went hiking again yesterday. After we worked. Plants are living things, people, and they don't care what bloody holiday it is. And I need to accumulate some time off for my sister's impending nuptuals all the way back home in Minnesota.

The greatest part of the Fingerlakes region is the gorges. Well, and the wine, but that's another post. They stay somewhat cool and wet all summer, so you can go get some serious hiking in even though it's sticky hot. That, and we bought our Empire Pass on Sunday, and to break even with the parking fees, we need to go to parks 10 times over the summer. Really, we always want to support the park system, regardless of whether we get all of our money out of it, blah blah good-hearted-nature-loving blah. It's a good way to make sure we get off the couch and get out to enjoy the area in the summer.

This time we went to Watkins Glen, which is at the south end of Seneca Lake. I live at the north end, and unfortunately it's a lot flatter up here. Anyway, more stunning gorge scenery to cover up the fact that I have no knitting pictures to show, although I have been working on my Clapotis and I'm almost through with the increases! I think tonight at the readthrough for the play I'll polish off those increase rows. That will instill trust in me as their intrepid scene painter, right? To knit through play practice?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hiking at Taughannock

Today Carl and I decided to get out and hike in one of the beautiful Fingerlakes state parks. We went to Taughannock Falls State Park, which has the highest vertical drop of any waterfall east of the Mississippi. It's higher than Niagara Falls, but not nearly as impressive. I took the camera and we just took pictures wherever the mood struck. It was a beautiful day. Enjoy.

Taughannock Falls

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cat Party

I listen to Bob and Tom in the mornings, and one of the things that cracks me up about it is the way they're all such dog freaks. They start talking baby (or doggie) talk when they talk about their dogs. Tom, the high-strung germophobe, has what he calls "Dog Parties" every morning, which is really just the time each day where he plays solely with the dogs. I thought my Kouros could stand some love like that. So after work every day, he and I head out of the apartment into the common stair and entry area of our building and we have a Cat Party.

Our apartment is pretty small, and Kouros is a strictly indoor kitty. Our old apartment was a lot bigger and had more windows with screens, so I don't think he felt so restricted in that one. That, and we'd just rescued him from the wilds in December of 2004, so for the first year he was VERY happy to be inside with lots of food.

So we head downstairs with a foil ball, and I throw it around. Kouros used to get it and bring it back, but I think now that he's in his teenage years, he's too cool for that or something. Instead, he chases it, sniffs it, turns around and looks at me, and crouches down to wait for me to throw it again.

He really likes to run up the stairs after the ball, and then chase in back down again. It's the only long stretch in his existance right now where he can really build up some speed.

One of the cat toys is almost done. I'll have a picture tomorrow, I think. Or maybe Monday. We'll have to see. How lazy I am, that is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Knitting Karma

A friend of mine sent me this email a week or so ago:

Have you ever been working on a project, and it looks great—you’re almost to the
end and you do something hideous to it and ruin it, but not enough to frog it
off the needles? So you have this mostly awesome, but slightly damaged
garment, and instead of starting over (because you’re really damn sick of the
thing anyway), you decide to give it to someone you don’t like. Is that
bad knitting karma? Will it tarnish all the rest of my projects for a
lifetime? ;)

I don't seem to knit enough presents to have any experience with this dilema. I've only made a few gifts. Plus, I'm mostly evil and I don't give that many gifts anyway. Well, I'd LIKE to give lots of gifts. See, I'm more of an inspiration kind of gal rather than a follow-through-to-completion kind, you know? I have wonderful ideas and stuff, but then I seem to lose all track of time, money, myself, etc. and suddenly the gift-giving occasion is over.

Anyway, it seems hard for me to imagine giving a hand knitted gift to someone I don't like, because it seems there aren't enough hours in the day for me to clothe all the people I love in hand knits, much less the legions of people I don't like (no, really, I'm totally nice- heh heh). But I suppose there are times where all your friends and coworkers are pumping out the babies, and you just keep knitting baby presents. I could see the heirarchy starting to shape up- you'd want the best stuff to go to the people you like the best.

I get the feeling from what I've read, that other people have done this exact thing- passed off the less-than-perfect to the less-than-loved. Am I right? Has anyone ever had any cosmic repurcussions? Please tell me! I'm DYING to know. It'll be a warning to all, the dangers of bad Knitting Karma. And then you can be one of my imaginary friends out there on the interweb, and if you have a blog, I'll stalk you, too.

Or you can just tell me. And I won't stalk you. Really, I promise.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Some pretty good news

I found out today that I passed that blasted pesticide applicator exam, so hoo-ray. In honor of that manual that caused me such emotional distress, I'd like to share a quote from the section on Pesticide Equipment Storage (you're breathless with anticipation, aren't you?)-

Never let children or uninformed people play on or around your equipment.

Doesn't that just put a really nice picture in your head? The children and the clueless, playing together? Hand in hand, skipping through fields? Just as long as you protect them from themselves. And keep them off your equipment. Ahem.

When Carl and I were in Europe on our semester abroad, Carl used to banish people to Remedial Life, where everything is made of Nerf. For example, the time we were in a Chinese restaurant in Rome, and one of our friends was trying to ask questions about what was in the riso bianco. Ok, first of all- what do you need to ask? And second of all, you're trying to ask this all in ENGLISH! When you're in a CHINESE restaurant in ITALY! IF, and that's a bit if, anyone speaks any English, it's a 3rd language at best. Ahhh. Brilliant. She got sent to Remedial Life, ASAP.

Oops. The bitter angry Susan escaped there for a bit. The BETTER news is that the director of the play I'm doing sets for liked my sketches. THAT was really good. We're doing Pirates of Penzance, and I'm doing Maxfield Parrish-inspired backdrops, which should look fantastic. I love his style.

I also think I'm going to whip out a couple of quick knitted cat toys from the Stitch n Bitch Nation book. I haven't started yet, but I think my boy needs some new playthings. I did some calculations to use a heavier weight yarn, so hopefully they'll go quick and I can show them to you soon!

Bring me the playthings!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Almost Forgot!

Look what came in the mail last week to cheer me out of my pesticide manual-induced blues!

No, the boobs were mine already. But the Knitting is Sexy t-shirt is new! It's from Yarn-A-Go-Go (Thanks for the awesome design, Rachael!). All the cool kids have one.

All knitters post pictures of their boobs online, right?

I've never been so humiliated in my life.


I finished my poor, ugly little sock!

It's made of Lion Brand Magic Stripes yarn, in Sea Blue Pattern. It's 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. Frankly, I think it's rather ugly yarn, but it was on super sale, and I got enough yarn to make a pair of socks for about $4.50. A pair of practice socks.

It's not very soft, because for some reason I thought knitting really tightly would be a good idea. I didn't do no stinkin' gauge swatch, either. I don't know why I made those decisions, but the sock fits, so I guess that's all that matters. In the future, I'll be a good little knitter and obey the rules.

The pattern is Cat Bordhi's Simple Sock from Socks that Soar on Two Circular Needles. I went with a shorter leg, because I decided that doing a full 6 inches of ribbed leg was going to piss me off. The pattern was really easy. My one complaint is that I've never grafted a toe before (becuase it was my first sock!), and the instructions said to "check one of the knitting books in the appendix" if you didn't know how. Not very helpful. However I found a fantastic tutorial here. The pictures and instructions are very clear.

I think once I do the mate for this sock (did I mention I've only done one?) I won't be knitting any more totally ribbed socks for myself, because I just don't like the ribbing so well. Maybe a ribbed cuff, but not the entire leg.

It's turned out to be quite the helpful little sock.

It kept me company on the way to work.

And it helped me water the grapes.

It tried to look a bit more attractive by posing coyly in the grape leaves, but it didn't work.
Still, I love my poor homely little sock, and once I knit it a little mate, I'll wear them all the time. When I'm at home in my bathrobe.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Knitting Flitting (or ribbed for her pleasure, my ass!)

I can't seem to finish a project these days. I wonder if it's because they're all for me right now. I've got 3 projects going, which doesn't work for a scatterbrain like me:

1) The not-so-Tempting sweater = 6 inches of 2x2 rib

2) The slowly gliding sock that's supposed to soar = more 2x2 rib that I originally started to break up the monotony of the above ribbing - brilliant, eh?

3) My bad case of the Clapotis.

I can't seem to finish any of them. I'm not really living up to Hyperactive Hands, am I? Or maybe I am, more than I meant to. Maybe it should be A.K.A. ADD Knitting.

Maybe it's a metaphor for how I live. I feel like I have so many demands on my time, except they're all demands I place. I think I try to do too much at once. And I'm not very organized, despite the fact that I managed to separate and number my three knitting projects above.

Hmm. I'm already tired of thinking about it. I'm going to go finish that damn sock.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Knitting History III

This is probably my favorite finished project so far. I love the design (Thanks Kate!) and it knitted up pretty quickly. Plus, it was for my friend Jenny's beautiful little girl, Annabelle.

The pattern is Anouk, available on

The yarn is Encore, 75% Acrylic, 25% Wool. I wanted to be sure it was machine washable, because handwash clothes for Baby #2 could get me beat up.

I went with the most prismatic colors I could find, like a box of new crayons.

I don't have a lot more to say, I guess. I'm tired today. I can't stand to even look at the pesticide shit, so I'm going out to the greenhouse to do regular work. That way I won't injure anyone. Everybody play nice!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I finished reading the evil Pesticide Manual Yesterday! Done! It was horrible, but I read the whole damn thing! If it weren't a 3-ring binder and all, I would have spiked it like a football. Yay, me! By the way, did you know that symptoms of yellow phosphorous Rodenticide poisoning include glowing and smoking feces? I sure didn't.

Me : 1, Evil Pesticide Manual : 0

I got done about 1/2 hour before I was supposed to leave for my class. I decided I would grab some grocery-store sushi and eat lunch at home while doing a little blogstalking. Then, all relaxed and amused, I could head off to class.

While I was planning this in my head and patting myself on the back for beating the Evil Pesticide Manual, and also listening to Chub Creek, because you can't listen to funny podcasts while reading Evil Pesticide Manuals, I pulled into our parking lot. I carefully grabbed my iPod, my plastic grocery bag of sushi (and a dark chocolate bar), and my purse. I locked and slammed the car door. And I walked up the stairs to discover I HAD NOT GRABBED THE KEYS BECAUSE I WAS TOO BUSY CONGRATULATING MYSELF!

Me : 1, Evil Pesticide Manual : 2

Did I mention one of the things I wanted to grab at home was the cell phone?

So, since none of the neighbors were home, I decided I'd better walk and find a phone. I went to the gas station a few blocks away. The pay phone there is out on the corner of a 5 way intersection, and it seems to be the place where many of the people living in the less-than-comfortable housing above the downtown storefronts make most of their calls. So there were people waiting for me to finish dialing the 300 numbers to use my pre-paid calling card. And Carl was not at his desk. And since the only people who share his phone line at work are himself and me, I knew no one was going to answer so I could leave a message.

Me : 1, Evil Pesticide Manual : 4

I started walking. It was only about a mile and a half to work, so I knew I could be there in 20 minutes or so. Oh yeah, and I was still listening to Chub Creek, and still clutching my Wegmans bag with my sushi in it. I'm one of those people who just isn't right if I wait to long to eat- I either yell at people or I start crying. That's why I kept my lunch with me, clinging to the notion that I was going to be able to eat soon. After about 3 more blocks, it started to rain-

Me: 1, Evil Pesticide Manual : 8


Me: 1, Evil Pesticide Manual : 29

In the end, soaking wet and very grouchy, I got to work, found Carl and Fantastic Boss lent us his car so we could go home and unlock ours and I could retrieve my keys. The rain pretty much stopped once I got to work. It only rained for the time I was walking.

After class, I went home and had some knitting therapy. I felt better.

I guess I shouldn't disrespect the Evil Pesticide Manual.

P.S. I'm getting close on that sock. Really, I'm going to finish something one of these days and post a picture!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Knitting as therapy

The socks save! I'm serious!

Last night, I was a bit down, as you may have heard. When I couldn't sleep, rather than crank up the computer and whine some more and have the monitor lights make me feel even less like sleeping, I brought my half-completed sock to bed with me. I just knitted away on that sock, and the peace settled over me. The beautiful, rhythmic, soothing peace of knitting. I didn't stop thinking, but there's something about moving on, stitch by stitch and row by row that makes your thoughts move on as well. I have some problems with anxiety, and the part that's hardest to fight is the cyclical thought pattern where you dwell and stew and think about all the things that worry you over and over again. Well, I don't dwell when I knit. And I don't think I realized that until last night with my ugly little half-knitted sock.

I love that sock.

Kouros stalks the wild sandal as it grazes.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It could be the iced tea and amaretto talking...

I've been stalking/reading Crazy Aunt Purl lately. You should too, because she's a riot. But that's beside the point. She also writes some very insightful, thoughtful stuff, and talks about blogging as therapy. Reading her blog has made me wonder why I signed on for this bizarre bit of exhibitionism. What is my reason for blogging?

Initially I said it was because I wanted to join the terrific online knitting community, and that's still true. I have learned so much reading about other people's trials and tribulations of the yarny variety. I've found so many excellent online resources through the blogs I read. I've also enjoyed reading about other people's yarn and kids and cats and neuroses and finished objects. I'm so touched when I read about knitbloggers donating to someone's cause or throwing a kickass cyber shower. A friend once said, "There's a whole good karma thing with people who work in agriculture." It's the same for people who knit.

I think I've also discovered that one all-purpose set of friends doesn't work. I may have already alluded to the fact that I don't always see eye to eye with that all-purpose set of friends, anyway. It's funny, because most of them knit or have knitted at some time. One seems to have quit, another is so bogged down with work I don't think she does much else, and a third still knits, but doesn't like hanging out with women as far as I can tell. Her husband has been a better girlfriend to me than she has.

Sometimes a little compartmentalization is good, too. When my friend Nicole said (not joking), "How many yarn shops do you need to go to? I think you have a problem." I realized that you can't always count on your friends to understand all your quirks.

The last time I spent a lot of time online I was really dissatisfied with my friends. Actually, I was disappointed in my life in general. That was years ago in college, and it ended once I started working on the newspaper and I met some of my best friends and my husband. I changed the focus of my major. I went to Ghana for a January class. I made plans to spend a semester abroad. There was a complete overhaul of my life.

I guess that means I'm just unhappy right now. I'm not happy with my living situation; we live in an apartment that's actually smaller than the last place we lived. I HATE the town I live in. I'm pretty sure it wants to suck out my soul. Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but I grew up in a small town and I have NEVER wanted to go back to one. I love my boss, but the job isn't what I want to be doing. Not much I can do about that for the time being. Then there's money. There's ALWAYS money. Or not always money, which is more the problem.

I feel kind of stuck. We don't know when we can move on, but I'm ready to right now. I'm having a hard time finding people who make me feel happy rather than so terribly flawed. Do other people seek out an online community for the same reasons? Does this make any sense? Or am I just a maudlin woman who's had a couple of drinkies?

Maybe this is a way of meeting new people. Maybe reading about all my imaginary friends takes some of the sting out of watching me drift away from my friends here. Oh yeah, and Nicole knits, or at least she did. Can you imagine, knowing about the love of fiber and yet still having the nerve to say something like that? Is there any wonder why I'm disappointed?

Maybe I'm just a stalker at heart, and right now real life isn't satisfying enough to distract me from my true calling. Don't worry about that dark shape lurking in your comments section... it's just me.

Oh, and I'll talk more about knitting tomorrow.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I live in such a caring sharing neighborhood

Dear Neighbors,
I just wanted to write and say thank you for being so SO generous and sharing all your beautiful music with me. I'm sure it must be painful to have the music that loud, but hey, thanks for taking one for the team and playing My Humps loud enough for me to get the full poetic genius of the lyrics right in my own livingroom. Remind me to return the favor sometime. With my favorite tracks from the Ultra Lounge series, or perhaps something from Astrud Gilberto. You know, I want to return the favor and broaden your horizons like you've broadened mine.
Big Love,


So today, I'm cleaning the kitchen. That shouldn't be such a big deal, but we had an accident in these parts the other day. I came home after reading through Crazy Aunt Purl's archives by way of the liquor store with a bottle of wine tucked under my arm.

Note: If you haven't been reading this blog, you should! She is so damn funny and endearing. And open and honest. You can't help but like her- plus, she's southern, and since half of my family lives in GA, reading her blog feels like home. Hey, Laurie, you wanna talk about blogstalking- not only am I totally stalking you, but I'm inviting all my friends to, also!

Isn't the wine bottle pretty? Now, I've had some wine edumacation in my day- I've been working on grapes for 5 years now, so I got away with taking Intro to Wines at the Cornell Hotel School- but sometimes, a pretty bottle comes home with me just cuz it's pretty.

Anyway, I came home, took off my shoes and thought I had stepped in something wet. But I couldn't find it. I wandered around the house for a while, walked back into the kitchen, and stepped in it again. This time it felt oily. Finally, I started rubbing my hands on the floor. And they came up looking like this:

All shiny and covered with oil. Coming from somewhere mysterious. And it smelled funny. Then I looked back into the dining room and saw all my oily little footprints running around in there.

Kouros didn't like the smell much, either, cause he kept trying to bury the oily footprints after he sniffed them.

Finally I recognized the smell, opened the fridge and found the culprit- the jar of anchovies!

It was resting on its side with a trickle of oil running down the inside of the fridge, under the stove and out onto the kitchen floor. I wiped it all up but didn't get around to washing the floor. Good thing, too, because every few hours there was a new trickle of anchovy oil emerging from under the oven. Lemme tell ya, black cat hair LOVES anchovy oil on the floor.

So, I'm off to scrub the floor, and then maybe later I'll do some knitting. This is a knitblog after all, right?

Who'd have thought that little jar had 3 days worth of oil in it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Break time Blogging!

I almost answered the study question "What do chitin inhibitors do?" with the words "Fuck with molting." I don't know if that would be an acceptable answer. It's right, but perhaps not the best way to put it.

Do you have a loud-eating coworker? I do. He's slurping away at his desk and making all manner of disgusting sounds over at his desk. I was going to spend my afternoon break chatting with all of you, but I think I need to leave the office before I either gag or take away his food.
Of course I'm studying! Lay off!
But why is it that entomologists decided to use the most beautiful creatures in mythology- nymphs and naiads- to name life stages of insects (read: nasty creepy bugs!)? It seems wrong.

Knitting History I 1/2

I had forgotten, when I posted the Harry Potter scarf, about a project that came before it- the poncho. It simply slipped my mind. It certainly wasn't because it's EMBARRASSING or anything. I made the Lionbrand Moonlight Mohair poncho pattern, only I didn't use Moonlight Mohair becuase I didn't want the sparklies. I went to my LYS and bought light blue mohair and paired it with a railroad yarn running from navy blue to brown to coral. The combo was really nice, and I liked the fringe on just the one side.

So, here's me, last summer in my sassy new poncho. Please excuse the poor photo composition- I snipped this from a picture of me and my sisters-in-law (Carl has 3 sisters) at one of their bridal luncheons. You don't have to tell me twice how attractive I am when I squint into the blinding sun.

I'm wearing my poncho! It came off the needles the day before! Who the hell ever heard of blocking? And I decided an extra wide neck would be perfect. Perfect for a Flashdance kind of look, but that wasn't what I was going for. The best part, the part you can't see, is how I ran out of mohair for the fringe, so I just used the brown and blue and orange railroad for fringe. It looks... wrong. Like my poncho has roots... I'm sorry, _regrowth_ according to my sister the cosmetologist. I still like the way the two yarns look together, but I think the construction of this poncho leaves something to be desired.

Or maybe I'm just mad that my poncho didn't in any way make my thighs look any smaller. That Lionbrand gal, her thighs look super-skinny, and I hoped that maybe, like how the camera adds 10 pounds, the poncho would subtract a few. Ah well.

Well, I'm still supposed to be studying. Ahem. Please excuse me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ok, last one for the day. Are you sick of me yet? I just wanted to include a picture of the slightly larger triangle I call my clapotis.
Yes, I really am working on it. And I'm going to go work on it right now.

Oh, did you wonder how I got the picture without the wild cat trying to eat my wrap (ok, triangle)?

I didn't have to do anything...

He wasn't feeling too wild at the moment.

I swear to God, woman, if you flash that thing in my face one more time...

By the way, this was the dinner conversation...
Carl: Can you imagine how great life will be with a dishwasher?
Susan: Don't you talk dirty like that to me unless you're ready to take me straight to bed.
Carl: I don't know... with a dishwasher, I might not need sex.
I'm studying, but there's this blob of paint on the window next to my desk in the shape of one of those country geese. You know, from that unfortunate decorating trend of the mid-80s? They usually had blue bows tied around their necks?

I think I need to go study elsewhere.
I'm really studying, I promise, but I just read the most brilliant thing ever! In the "Safety Precautions" chapter, it tells me to "Avoid exposure." No Shit, Sherlock!

Crazy cat and a case of the Clap(otis)

1. My entries today will be numbered, because numbers give the illusion of organization and importance.

2. Sweet tea + Lemon+ Amaretto = Delicious!
I must clarify that if I used my usual sweet tea recipe from my Georgia peach of a mother, it would be WAAAAAY too sweet with the Amaretto. I used about half the normal amount of sugar.

3. InuYasha! I don't remember if I have already confessed my love for Anime. We've started into the 46 DVDs of InuYasha from Netflix. We started at disc 11, since we'd seen everything before it (and all of disc 11, it turns out) on Adult Swim. *sigh* Adult Swim. I'd get cable again just for that... but then I'd get sucked into things like old SNL reruns and stupid talk shows and I'd never leave my futon. But I digress- InuYasha rocks, if you're into stories about half-dog-demon teenagers running through feudal Japan after jewel shards. Wow. It sounds dorkier than I realized.

4. Did you know this is what you envy about me? Well, you totally do. Blogthings said so.

People Envy Your Ingenuity

You're a person with unique ideas, big plans, and a zany outlook on life. Many people look to you for inspiration.
People envy your creativity and "who cares?" attitude. They feel very ordinary next to you - and they usually are!

5. Why do cats always have to use the litterbox right after you've finished cleaning it? Do they save it until you've cleaned everything up for them? Upon seeing a silly human scooping out the stuff they've worked so hard to bury, is there some sort of trigger that gets tripped and gets everything moving, if you know what I mean?

6. Why does my cat specifically decide to leave his covered litterbox like it's the start gate of the Kentucky Derby?

7. I like cheese. Just wanted to share.

8. I'm still working away on the Clap. Only about halfway through the Increase rows. Still haven't taken a picture because Kouros thinks the yarn is a delicious nutritious snack. I may have to lock him in the bedroom and quick take a picture tonight. Before he decides to start trying to bite the embroidered flowers off the bed spread.

9. April is my new favorite person! She left the first unsolicited comment on my blog! [Thank you, thank you, thank you, Anonymous commenter from May day- but I totally know who you are and I so asked for it!] Now you all have to listen to her podcast, Knit2BTied, religiously, because it's hilarious. And you have to listen to Chub Creek because she hangs with them, too. I mean "hangs" in the cyberspace-podcaster-all-is-connected-by-computers sense of the word. And she shows up on their show sometimes. And they're funny. And you have to, because I said so.

I think that's probably enough for this morning. I have to study more of the dreaded pesticide manual, and I want to be environmentally responsible and not poison any of my coworkers so I have to go! I can't keep entertaining you with my rapier wit! You have to let go!

Well, maybe I'll be back tonight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Art in the News

I listen to the Bob and Tom show in the morning, because I likes the funny. Right now they're reading a story about art students in Brooklyn having to remove their display from a public space because it was not family-appropriate. So, I'm not going to comment on that, but Tom said something to the effect of it being sad that art only makes the news in this country when there's some sort controversy about it but never because it's a good. That makes me sad. It explains the inaccurate and out-of-date attitude some people have that art is not a respectable career choice.

I was going to take a picture of my very very slowly growing clapotis, but Kouros kept trying to eat the yarn, so I put it away for another day.

Look at him, licking his chops at the thought of that yummy, yummy ultramerino.


Monday, May 08, 2006

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

I am the worst employee...

I turned off my computer so I would not be tempted to read blogs and other such things while I am supposed to be studying. I did. Honest. But I had to turn it back to to share just how MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING this damn manual is! I want to stab my eyes out to relieve the pain of reading this stupid thing.

What am I studying, you ask? Only the Pesticide Applicator Training Manual. You know, the one that spent 26 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list? Come on, it's the book all your friends are talking about! The new must read! Or maybe it's just the stupid thing you are responsible for reading and knowing if you, for instance, want to measure out the naturally occurring fungus (that's everywhere in all soil and isn't in any way harmful to people and I don't know why I have to have an applicator license to use this stuff when I could grow it easily by just holidng a petri plate open for a few minutes outside and then incubating) we apply to our soil to prevent seedling rots , thus avoiding chemical pesticides.

Ugh. I was supposed to take it last month, but I couldn't get through the manual in time. Remember a few days ago when I was talking about how I left science? Yeah. I'm REAL motivated to study.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Clapotis problem #1

Somehow I managed to pick up a stitch while I was knitting the increase rows. I discovered this extra stitch about 4 rows above where I had picked it up. This alone wouldn't be such a big deal but I picked it up in a position where I had to twist the stitches, so I was twisting the extra stitches, rather than the stitches I was going to... well this is very complicated.

Here's a picture of what I had been doing. The last stitch before each marker is knit through the back loop. You can see the columns of twisted stitches coming down from the stitch markers. Unfortulately the stitch I added was right before a marker. Rather than rip it all out, I just dropped the extra stitch and what should have been the last stitch so I could twist them instead.

The problem was that the extra stitches left things a bit loose as you can see a few rows below the 4th stitch marker from the point. I might have kept going, except I noticed this:

I twisted the damn stitch the wrong way!

It was probably for the best, because although I didn't want to go back and frog to that point (I know, it wasn't that far, but with the increases and my short attention span I was sure I would muck it up), it cleaned up the loose stitches and made every thing look much better. I was still close enough to where I had made the mistake that I really had no excuse not to go back. I'm glad I did. I'm pretty sure that's some rite of passage that means I'm becoming a more mature knitter; I chose to rip rather than think it wouldn't matter. It would matter to me, and I spent enough money on the yarn that I'd damn well better do it right.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Knitting History II

I made this Harry Potter scarf for my nephew. I meant to get it done by Christmas (actually, I meant to get 3 of them done by Christmas for all the kids), but it ended up being a birthday present. His birthday is in early January, so I wasn't that late.

The yarn is Encore and the pattern is located at atypically knit. It's a wonderfully warm, thick scarf. It's knitted in the round and the ends of the tube are closed with the tassels. My husband wants one in the Slytherin colors.

The scarf is about 6 or 7 inches wide, and I think the final length was 6 feet. Ideal for a kid in Minnesota.

Speaking of Minnesota, Happy Birthday to my friend in Minnesota who doesn't like birthdays! I hope you enjoy the evening! Thanks for the picture of your beautiful little girl; she's one of my favorite people to knit for!

P.S. Jenny, my emails to you keep getting sent back!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

If you're happy and you know it, clapotis...

If you're happy and you know it
then your swatch will surely show it

If you're happy and you know it clapotis!

I love this yarn. It's the Art Yarns Ultramerino (color 123) I bought at Easter. I'm so pleased with the way it looks. I finished the swatch last night and I've been knitting away steadily on the clapotis. The yarn is a lighter weight than what the pattern calls for, and I'm hoping it won't cause any problems later, but I really like the openness of the stitches and the drape I can feel even in the swatch. My concern is that it won't hold the structure well enough, but we'll see how it goes. So far, so good.

Oh yeah, and it looks terrific next to the bridesmaid gown that I can fit two of me into. Is this common? I've never been in a wedding where I've needed to get a typical bridesmaid dress from a bridal shop. I gave them my measurements and they gave me a dress that is twice my normal dress size. Twice! It's strapless and I can get it to stay up if I put both arms in the gown with my torso. If I show any pictures, they will be post-alteration.

P.S. I know this is my knitting blog- but I got all three paintings (one of which is the self portrait in the upper left corner) I submitted into the show!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Riding the Rant Wave

As I was doing my daily blog browse, I read Wendy's post from last night, which ran along a similar theme to Cari's post from the 27th. The sentiments resonated so strongly with me, I had an almost physical reaction. It's discouraging when people don't get what you do. It's worse when people trivialize your work, particularly when it's an artistic pursuit and it's such an integral part of you.

I left a Ph.D. program in an applied science after 3 years. I'd already completed a Masters degree in a similar discipline prior to starting the PhD. The research was going well, my grades were excellent, and my adviser was a good person. And I was having panic attacks. One day I realized that the depression and anxiety was because I did not want to be doing this any more; in fact, I hated it! I hated the thought of doing that for the rest of my life. I was planning my retirement before I was done with school. I would make art after I had put in my time in academia or in agricultural industry. After all, I hadn't had an art class since 7th grade. What the hell business did I have leaving something semi-secure to pursue art? But I couldn't not pursue art anymore. I can't believe I made it as long as I did without a major part of me withering and dying. It sounds like I'm being dramatic, but I can't think of another way of describing what it's like for an artist not to make art.

So, after having surrounded myself with a bunch of extremely talented scientists for friends, I left the field they loved so much. I fucking ran from that program and I have never regretted for a moment. It was the best thing I've ever done in my life. The only way it would have been better is if I could have left the way the Weasley twins left Hogwarts. [Maybe I should have painted the lab to look like a swamp and rode off on a... tractor?] And then I expected them to get what I was doing. While I think they're all glad that I'm happier (funny, Susan doesn't cry or freak out as much as she used to), sometimes I think they sort of pat me on the head. I seriously doubt any of them think I'll make a career of art. Every single one of them said, "You know, it's really hard to make a living as an artist." As if any of them have any idea beyond the popular stereotype of the starving artist. But they pay lip service to my passions, and sometimes even tell me I'm good.

There's nothing cute, fun or neat about your creative work. Sure, maybe the final product *may* be able to be described with some of those words- unimaginative though they may be- but the process is so much more vital than that to the creator. When I paint, it's like the world stands still. I disappear into what I'm doing. I don't know that I'm ever that fully engaged in anything else I do in my life. Even rejection is ok when the product has been taken seriously. It's part of working in a subjective field. But when it's simply dismissed, it's heartbreaking and enraging.

I don't want to alienate non-artists. I know what it's like to be in amongst a group of people (in my case, scientists) who are passionate about what they do and not be able to understand what they're feeling. And not know what to say when they express uncertainty. I don't want to heap any of the platitudes on them that I find well-intentioned but ineffective. What would I want to hear when I'm feeling insecure about my work? Perhaps it's best just to listen. Perhaps an expression of faith in my talent would be good. Or even better, and expression of faith in my love for my work would be best, because that's what gets me, and every other artist I know, past crises of confidence. It's also a tacit confirmation of the worth of what I do.

Oddly enough, my knitting hasn't been trivialized; if anything, it's perceived as me taking those crazy delusions of being a working artist and doing something practical instead. Knitted things can be used, worn, given as gifts, and someone might actually buy them, as long as I don't charge much more than the cost of materials. But that should probably be another rant all together.

Of course, I'm writing this between proof reading sections of an application for ANOTHER science job. It's probably a good thing, because my pulse keeps racing each time I get really into what I'm writing here. My husband and I want to move back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, and there's a job that I'm qualified for, which may speed the process along. It sucks to spend 40 hours a week doing something I'm trying to leave, especially when I have SO many more engaging things I'd like to do.

Monday, May 01, 2006

This is how far I got on my sock this weekend!

I like socks.

Part of what makes them so great is sock yarn, which I've taken to browsing online whenever I get the chance.

I've also started the first few rows of Clapotis on some scrap yarn to get the feel for how the stitches work. I may eat these words later, but I think it's going to be fun.

There, I've just doomed myself to every Clapotis complication possible. Bring it on!