Monday, October 30, 2006

My First Day of Knitting School

By Susan

I signed up for a 3-night knitting class to make a felted bag. I went and got all my stuff in advance. I found a lovely purple heather skein of Cascade 220 (color 9454). I got my set of US10.5 dpns. I waited to buy a US10.5 circular needle to see if my Knit Picks Options (can't wait can't wait can't wait) would arrive in time. Considering I ordered them on Tuesday and class was Thursday, this was ridiculous, but hope springs eternal.

I get home from work Thursday and call the yarn shop to see when I need to buy my circular needle, because OF COURSE the set of wonder needles didn't arrive magically in 2 days. She says I could come a couple of minutes early because they are closed until class begins.

I believe that I may have given many of you the false impression that my cat, Kouros, is a good cat. This is simply not true. He is a holy terror. And on Thursday, he is in rare form. I have had a stupid thought recently. Since he tries to head out the door every time we come into the house, I thought taking him out in harness and leash might get it out of his system and eventually (HA!) he would be trained so that he would only go outside when his harness was on. So after I speak to the yarn shop lady, I try taking him out, and while he likes being outside, he despises the harness. When I take the harness off, he begins to shoot around the apartment at the speed of sound. After we get back in the house, it is crazy-go-nuts time. He jumps onto the coffee table and sweeps everything onto the floor, including the coasters, several magazines, a book, all 3 remotes and the hard cider I had just opened, which spills all over the floor.

An hour before class, I have another stupid thought. I think, "I need to wind my skein into a ball for class!" I don't have a ball winder. I know most yarn shops will wind the yarn for you. I KNOW! I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I didn't want to arrive unprepared. So I hang the skein from my coat rack and begin winding by hand. It would have been fine, except eventually that bad cat notices what I am doing. He jumps up and begins catching the very bottom of the skein with his hateful little claws. Meanwhile, I'm freaking out and trying to hang the yarn higher and my husband is reading something terribly important on Wikipedia and thus can't wrangle the cat for me. The final time the cat goes after the yarn, Sleepy-Voiced Husband comes and gets him, but the integrity of the skein has been compromised. And in my haste I make it worse. So now I have 3/4 of a skein wound into a ball, and the rest a tangled mess. And it is 6:35. Class starts at 7. Fortunately the shop is only a few blocks from my house.

I eventually give up on my skein. I change out of my work clothes (which have little bits of dried nasty grape all over the sleeves) and go to grab my knitting bag. I hadn't noticed my knitting bag was in the line of fire in the earlier hard cider incident. Several hearty gulps of cider are pooled in the bottom of my bag. All of my stuff is wet, including the jaywalker I'm working on. I have to take everything out to dry and put whatever I think I may need (that isn't completely cider-covered) in a plastic grocery bag. My husband, back at the Wikipedia again, informs me that I really should get going. He gets his head bitten off.

I pull up to the yarn shop (because I left my house at about 5 minutes of 7:00 and had to drive) right at 7, according to my clock. The lady sees me and says, "You need to buy a needle, right?" I look back at the table where I usually see classes, and it's empty. Only 1 woman in the shop, looking at yarn. Yay! I'm not too late! She rings me up and says, "Ok, you can head to the back room. The others are back there already. I'm teaching a different class up front." So I interrupted her class to buy my needle. Damn. And as I walk past the clock, I see that their clock says it's about 7:12. Double damn.

The teacher and the other 3 women were all knitting away happily when I arrive. I sit down, and the teacher (Marie) says, "We'll get you caught up. You just need your yarn and your circular needle." So I slap down my wad of tangled yarn and tell my sad tale and everyone tells me that they would have wound the yarn for me. I KNOW! I KNOW! Marie helps me detangle the yarn for the next 10 minutes or so. I spend the rest of the class behind, but that's not a big deal. I'm always behind. And late. The final moment of “DUH!” comes when she says we need 4 stitch markers, one of a contrasting color to the other 3. I only brought 1 kind, because the bag of my other stitch markers was full of beer. By that point, though, I was completely numb, and was just used to being the class dunce.

But you know what? Class was awesome! I had a great time! I liked the other people, and after knitting a lot on socks lately, knitting on 10.5s was terribly satisfying. I can’t wait for next Thursday.

Sometimes you just have to get used to how you roll. I guess I sort of roll downhill without brakes (after getting to the top of the hill late).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More knitting news!

I've signed up for a class at my LYS! I'm going to try to meet some other real-life knitters (even though I like all of you best). And I'm going to actually see other people knitting! I'm excited. The class is for making a felted purse, and it includes needle felting. It takes place over the next 3 Thursday evenings. I went and bought a deliciously lovely skein for the purse and it got me all giggly.

I'm not sure what has kept me from doing this before. I think because I've been mostly self taught, other than my first lesson (Love you, Berit!), I've maybe felt someone was going to tell me I'm doing it wrong? You know what, I don't even think that's it. I think I've wanted to go back to the days of the Crafty Beavers.

What? I've never told you about the Crafty Beavers? Well, back when I was leaving my Ph.D. program, a couple of my grad student friends, Megan and Jodi, and visiting scientist from Norway, the famous Berit, and I got together to drink tea and bitch. It was near my birthday and they'd gotten me the most delicious birthday card with Aragorn on the front (He's so handsome, especially the dirtier he gets; I could eat Viggo Mortenson for dessert). They drew all over the envelope and had so much fun they decided we should get together regularly to do crafty things. My friend Emily had named her all-girl, crazy-law-school-competition-thing team the Crafty Beavers. It seemed to fit our little group, so I blatantly stole Emily's clever name. So every Sunday for a few months we got together and did stuff like make beads, paint our toenails and learn to knit. It was a group of women who were my friends and with whom I had a lot in common. They were my age, and they knew me well. None of the Beavers live here anymore. They've either gone back to Norway or gotten their Ph.D.s and moved to other states.

I hate to say this, but I guess I felt I was too young and hip for the LYS. I've never seen anyone in there my age- or maybe I have and I just don't realize I'm over 30 now. Why have I made such a big deal of this in my head? I've been against this whole "It's not your grandma's knitting" thing because I think it belittles the women who've passed these crafts on to us. So what's my deal?

Maybe I'm used to older women being more conservative. I'm not tatooed or pierced or anything that I'm worried would cause people to draw unfounded, incorrect conclusions. Maybe it's that oldest child, uber-responsible thing coming out, and I feel I have to be respectful by not saying anything controversial (which is something I do). I'm not sure what I think is going to come up, but I've got something of a potty mouth (especially lately) and I tend to talk about things like porn or ultra-liberal causes I'm championing. Maybe I've been as prejudiced as I accuse others of being. Or maybe I've still got this age means authority thing and I'm still afraid of getting a bad mark on my permanent record! How did I get this far, with my rebellious mind and childhood training constantly at odds?

Well, no more. I'm going to go knit with whomever shows up, and if I drop an f-bomb or something I'll just have to move on from there. Most women rock, and I'm sure these women will be no different! Me and my little ideas in my head. Ugh.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Guess what I just ordered?!?!


Monday, October 23, 2006

Fearsome leader

Sometimes I get really grumpy. I'm having one of those days where I'm feeling all pathetic and tired and crabby and I just want to curl up like Kouros, with the tip of my tail up over my nose, and be left alone.

I'm not one of those organized types. I don't like being in charge. Why do I keep doing it? This time, it's the art show. We had a meeting for it today, and I just hated everyone I'm working with on it because they just stared at me during the meeting OR complained about the fact that we were asking for photographs to be matted or framed for display. A pre-cut matte is only a few bucks, and it doesn't seem to me to be exorbitant, but you'd think we were asking people to mount them on gold bricks the way she was going on about it.

I don't like doing the calling, emailing and coordinating. I have ideas. I can get excited. I can get other people excited. The follow through? Not so much. Oh well, it'll happen and it'll be over next Friday. It's just a gray, cloudy, cold day out there, and I'd much rather be snuggled up in the delicious plush blankie my sister gave me as a bridesmaid gift, knitting on my super secret project (to be shown at a later date, after the gift has been given) or on those pretty pansy jaywalkers (see last post).

Thank goodness I have yoga tonight after work. That will put me back into a more relaxed frame of mind. Oh, did I mention I'm in charge of that, too?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tiptoe through the... pansies?

Hi. Remember me? I just fell off the face of the earth for over a week! I don't know what happened, but apparently nothing in my life was blog-worthy. I'm sure y'all just assumed I was busy playing with all my yarn, and you'd be right!

I cast on a pair of jaywalkers with my new sock garden AND my new Knit Picks needles! Love the sharp pointy wonderful needles even better than my addis! Love them!!!! They're US1, and that is damn small! I'm really having to concentrate not to knit too tightly. Love the pattern, though! It feels so simple, but the results look magical.

I had a bit of trouble with the gauge. When counting gauge in the zigzag pattern, do you count along the zigzag row? I can't imagine how you would count directly across, but I just wanted to be certain. I know some of you out there (APRIL!) have made several pairs and I would welcome your expertise (hint hint). Also, my socks aren't 4" across, so it's hard to get the actual gauge. I've mostly been using my own leg as a guide- ah, the beauty of knitting socks on 2 circs- so easy to try on! I'm pretty sure the recipient of these socks has daintier calves than I, so if they're a bit snug on me, they should be just right on her. I'm also keeping track of the number of repeats I'm doing (this is the most organized I've ever been!), so if I have to make the first sock shorter, I can still make them match.

I like the way the yarn looks, especially the transitions between the yellow and the black on one end and the pink on the other. I almost wish the transitions were longer and more gradual. The one change I myself would make would be to use a red, perhaps more like a maroon or burgundy, rather than the pink. It's a more common pansy color to my mind.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh my god oh my god oh my god!

First- I finished my second sock!

The only problem is I couldn't find the first sock while I was knitting the second one. And I changed the length of the cuff to make them sport socks. And I didn't write down how long I actually made the cuff on the first sock. Sooooooo...

If you count stripes, were a bit shorter on the right (which is the second one).

Then, when I got home today- THERE WAS A PACKAGE FROM KNIT PICKS! Just a little history- I never buy yarn for more than one project at a time. I usually can't afford it. But Knit Picks is so bloody cheap! If I think about it too much, I start to worry, so I'm not going to think about it, because I just barely made the $40 free shipping mark with ALL THIS-

The needles are US1 for socks- my addis are US2. The variegated yarn is Memories in Pansy- it's for socks for a Christmas gift (You aren't reading this, are you, Mom?). The green is Swish in Jade for a sweater for my still-in-the-oven nephew. The glorious Burgundy Gloss is for knee scoks for ME ME ME! And the red stuff is for a felting experiment that I'll get around to someday. I've never had such a haul before! It was so awesome!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My sleeping boys

So Kouros has a thing about forts. He used to like to sit in boxes turned on their sides. He loves to snuggle into the space under the television on the cushion I put there for him. He sits under chairs and likes to dart out from under them when a foil ball is tossed. But he never liked to be under the covers. Unless I was making the bed. And I think he liked to be in the way far more than he liked to be under the covers.

Did you see that?

Lately, though, Kouros has enjoyed climbing under Carl's knees when he reads in bed. It's like a little pup tent for my kitten (lame). He even falls alseep under the blankets with us now. Carl's game "buried alive," played when Kouros would be annoying us on weekend mornings when we wanted to sleep later than 6am, is no longer a punishment.

You didn't? Look again!

So tonight when I couldn't find the boy in the fur coat, I started to ask my sleeping sleepy-voiced husband where he was, and then I stopped, because I saw this:

Carl's gonna kill me for this one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My New Favorite Website

Go to this site. You won't be sorry...

Angry Alien Productions

"... in which a troupe of bunnies parodies a collection of movies
by re-enacting them in 30 seconds, more or less."

I'm on a roll...

It's a sweater! (said like El Guapo in The Three Amigos)

Pattern: Baby Yoda Sweater
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% merino wool) in Putty
Needles: US 8 straights - but again, that tight knitting thing

Now I can have a baby, right? All you really need is a sweater, right? I'm glad it's finished. After the difficult first try (the story is here), this was a nice way of letting that go and getting ready for the next try, whenever that will be.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One down!

Well, well, well... looky what we have here. It's a finished object!

I finished the pompoms last night. They might be a bit big, but little sister Cat can decide when she opens the damn thing on Christmas morning, and I'll deal with them then.

Here's another vanity shot, because I'm just so damn proud of the first hat I've ever knit.

Here's the info:
Pattern: Official Kitty62 Hat
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted in color 217 (Black)
Needles: The pattern recommends size 7 needles, but I still haven't lost my newbie tendancy toward overly tight knitting, so the size 8 16" circular I used for my Gryffindor scarf was perfect.

Woo hoo! One Christmas present done! I've never done this before! I'm always late! Excuse me while I go do a happy dance.

I'm the one on the right. I know it's hard to tell.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Workplace Encounter, Part Deux

Carl has taken the liberty of putting several very important dates on our work calendar (our lab's time off calendar). Tomorrow, for example, is "Carl Appreciation Day." Fantastic Boss said, to him, every day is Carl Appreciation Day.

Next Tuesday is "Blond Guy Day, " while Friday, October 20 is "Bring Your Gin To Work Day." October 24 is "Give Carl 20$ Day," and October 27th is the Feast of St. Awesome, which Carl needs to take off to celebrate.

I'm pretty sure October 18th is the "Leos Among Us Celebration" which works for both FB and Carl, since they are both Leos. It's conveniently happening two weeks before the "Artists Among Us Show" that I'm coordinating. Thank GOD I didn't double book and have them the same day!

Mark you calendars, kids. October is a very important month.

Workplace Encounter

I just walked into the greenhouse where Fantastic Boss was working. He snapped his head up and looked at me, a bit startled. I said,
"So sorry- I hope I didn't frighten you."
His reply?
"Noooo. (pause) Not any more than you usually do."

I love my work environment, even if I am sick of my job.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Overachieving 102, or How I will try to do too much in October.

So this is the piece based on the layout of an ad that I found in my Yoga Journal. It's an interesting blueprint, but I couldn't decide what to do with it beyond that.

And what I made of it is below. I regret making the bottom box in the piece stretch the full width of the paper. I like it ok, but it doesn't really feel as satisfying as most of my pieces. It feels more like doodling than a finished work. I almost typed "dork" rather than work. I guess that's my subconscious saying it's no good.

Over all, I'm glad I did this little exercise. The discipline was good, as was the momentum the project has left me with. On the flip side, it was difficult to complete a piece every day. I relaxed my expectations, but it was still hard to get a piece looking satisfactory every day after work. I need to be able to put some things down and come back to them the next day with a fresh point of view. I also felt a bit confined by the size of the pieces. The most rewarding part was that I never missed a day because I couldn't think of something to do- I missed a couple due to other circumstances, but it was never due to a lack of inspiration. I had plenty of ideas, and they always felt right, perhaps with the exception of the piece above.

So, whatever am I going to do with myself in October? I'm going to give myself a bit of a break on the daily challenge front. Instead, I am going to focus on 2 things: knitting, and a painting I started for my brother. I got the canvas primed and the sketch done and fixed, and that's it. Oh, and that was done in May. Ahem. The knitting projects I have going right now are 1) an official Kitty62 hat for my sister Cat for Christmas (almost done), 2) the baby yoda sweater I made this summer and still haven't seamed, 3) the second homely sock that I have about 3 inches left on, and 4) the Tempting sweater I abandoned this spring. So I guess you could call October The Month of Finishing the Unfinished Projects. Oh, and if I finish those things, I'm going to start a sweater for my due-in-March nephew, and a pair of socks for my favorite Mom for Christmas. So much for a break.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him.

Heaven help us, Carl's found a new hero. Nick Charles.

Last night we watched The Thin Man, the first of the series of movies from the 30s and 40s, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. The movie was terrific. It had everything: mystery; intrigue; witty banter; fantastic clothes; good-looking people... but it was the drinking that really captured Carl's heart.

Near the beginning of the film, Nora Charles (whom you may have read about not too long ago on Crazy Aunt Purl) finds her husband Nick in a bar, schooling the bartender on the necessity of rhythm in properly shaking a cocktail ("a dry martini you always shake to waltz time"). She asks him how many drinks he's had and he says six martinis, so she tells the waiter, "All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here." Brilliant.

When it was over, Carl said, "Wow. The drinking was Magnificent!"

Perhaps I'll have to get him a smoking jacket and several cocktail shakers for Christmas. And a flowing evening gown for me... it's fun for the whole family.