Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not Doing Well

I restarted the mittens, but now they're too big and I'm beginning to feel burned out on knitting.  I may go back and finish the smaller ones after all and call it a day; if they don't fit I'll just promise to make new ones after Christmas; deadline-free.

My older siblings are going back to Chicago today unexpectedly, so I won't be spending Christmas/Chanukah with them after all and I guess I'll just have to mail their gifts.  All that time could have been spent on mittens, darn it.

Other than that, I'm quite miserable, thank you.  I'm beginning to wonder if this depression has a capital D.

Monday, December 12, 2011

An update or two

I lost my nerve with the French Press Slippers when I discovered that my row gauge was way, way off.  Maybe I'll endeavor to finish them, but they most likely will not be a Christmas gift this year.  Instead I'm going to make Mom a pair of ChezPlum's Babouches, to commemorate our granny square evening and also because I think they're adorable.  I have a pair started for myself, but I ran out of yarn after finishing the first half of the first slipper.  This is actually exactly where I am on Mom's pair now, so here is a picture of what hers look like, if they were teal and lime green instead of plum and blue.

Her fingerless gloves are finished, ends woven in and all.  They are sweet and dainty, and hopefully not too super-snug.

Jenn's mittens hit a snag (called gauge, surprise surprise), but before I realized that, I let Theo pose with the WIP.

In other news, I think my husband may be reading my journal.  That doesn't bother me; it's mostly musings about Gabriel and loneliness, and other than perhaps the real depth of my feeling of isolation, it's nothing he doesn't know about already.  I wrote last night about missing Gabriel, about my slow loss of sensitivity to not being around him (Ryan), missing being around Phillip, and my terror and sorrow about my Dad's declining health.  I didn't mention it to him or my diary, but writing about it sent me into an intense sobbing fit that scared the cats out of the room.  Perhaps it was childish of me, but why beat myself up about crying when there are so many other things to worry about?

At any rate, Ryan sent me a text today to tell me he misses me.  That may carry me through the night.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Snowing! (title unrelated to post)

I went to the Yarn Basket in Carroll today to look for Karen's Christmas present.  I couldn't decide on a color, much less a yarn, but I did espy many a thing I would like for myself.  Dream in Color has a beautiful colorway that looks exactly like a sunset cloud; all peach with delicate streaks of pink. I was good, however, and didn't buy anything for me.  I also didn't buy anything for Karen, because I am indecisive, especially when it comes to matters of other people's taste. 

My friend (pseudo-sister, bridesmaid) Jenn requested flip-top mittens for Christmas.  Why do I agree to knit things for other people?  Choosing the yarn for her was easy, though.  I didn't even have to leave Wal-Mart.  She wants red and dark purple.  I bought a skein of Dark Plum Simply Soft on my lunch break, and I have a skein of Autumn Red Simply Soft at home.  It was going to be roses on a shawl for my mom, but that project is on the back-burner for now (because I started it and hated it).  I already have a pattern for convertible mittens in Stitch and Bitch: Nation, and bless the designer, it's for bulky weight yarn.  I can knit very, very fast with two strands of yarn held together. 

Mom's mittens are aaaaalmost done - just two more rows on the thumb, cast off, weave in ends, block.  (Ha ha, I think I'm going to block something for once in my life).

I've been on a pretty steady emotional high since the ultrasound and the following appointment.  The midwife, in trying to find the top of my uterus, commented that it was difficult because of my tight abs.  I drily (if bemusedly) thanked her.  My secret, folks?  Spending all day trying to hold my stomach in because I think I look more fat than pregnant.  It doesn't do much in the way of actually trimming my waistline, but it's good for the muscles underneath.  Now if I could just be as diligent about Kegels. 

In trying to find the baby's heartbeat (which used to be my favorite part of the visit, and now I dread), she got another surprise - he kicked the doppler wand hard enough for her to feel it.  She made Ryan come over to feel it.  According to her, while it's normal for me to feel kicks around this time, it's really unusual for anyone else to do so (particularly, I imagine, given my thick layer of padding and sexy ab muscles).

Gabriel was a fierce kicker, too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not very interesting without graphics...

I've raved about Ravelry before.  On Ravelry you keep a notebook of projects you've made, and part of the fun is putting up pictures.  This is mutually benefitial for all users, because it means that you can see how a pattern turned out when someone else made it.  Sometimes, however, there aren't pictures available.  For instance, you may have given the finished object to someone before you joined Ravelry and therefore didn't realize that you might want a picture of it some day.

Or it may be a gift in progress, and you don't want any snooping recipients-to-be spying it before you're finished.

Or, and this is really the heart of the matter, you may have knitted a nice, serviceable hat for someone you loved very dearly, and they left it at work the day they quit and never went back for it.  You might not have a picture of the hat, but you do have a picture of the man, and access to Microsoft Paint.

Sometimes you just feel the need to be clever.

On the topic of gift-knitting (two or three paragraphs ago), I am very nearly finished with Laura's hat.  Despite all my fears of it being small and unslouchy, it turned out huge and deliciously floppy.  It's going to overwhelm her head.  It's almost too cool for her, which is an uncharitable way of saying I want it for myself.  However, I'm going to resist, weave in the ends, consult Shirtless up there on which buttons to use for embellishment, and watch it eat Laura's head on Christmas morning.

Mom's fingerless mitts are coming along so quickly that I really have time to make her a hat, too, but this too I must resist and concentrate instead on what I'm going to do for everybody else. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I'm knitting at the moment.  One hat, and one pair of gloves.  It's madness!  So I must turn to other sources of page fodder. 

I had the big ultrasound on Monday.  Tears were kept to a minimum.  It's another boy (currently kicking me in the cervix, it feels like).  Turns out I highlighted all of those girl names for naught.  A few boys' names that I like (in no particular order):

Isaac  (Hebrew for "He Laughs" or "Laughter")  For my grandpa Isadore
Levi  (Hebrew, "Attached")
Allan  (Breton, "Handsome" or possibly "Little Rock")  My dad's middle name
Elias  (Greek var. of the Hebrew name Elijah, "The Lord is my God")
Felix  (Latin, "Lucky" or "Successful")  My other grandfather's name.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st . . .

The scarf, it is done.

Done, done, done.  Ends woven in and all.  On the right, you can see one of my cats, Theo, or at least as little of him as I could avoid photographing, despite lots of shoving and chastising.

Fine, I told him.  You want to be in the picture?  You're going to work for it.

All that work to get a modelling gig and the cat wouldn't even look at the camera.  Granted, my pretzels had just fallen on the floor, and nothing grabs my cats' attention like falling food.

So I started Laura's hat, and then ripped it out and started again with a larger hook, the result being a crown that was in no way visibly larger than its predecessor. 

I hate this job.

Mom's fingerless gloves are on needles.  Interestingly enough, the result of using too fine of a yarn and too large of needles is matching gauge exactly, and yet the darn things still look too small.  I think I may need a break, but it's December the First, and there are only 24 days left until Christmas. 

Needless to say, these are the only gifts I've made any progress on.  I have no idea what I'm getting for anyone else.

Oh, I made the perhaps foolish decision to stop worrying about felting the slippers and give them to my mom unfelted, as a gag, and then felt them with her there to make sure they come out right size (theoretically).  The only problem with this scenario is that she has a front-loading washing machine, which are notoriously unreliable for the felting process.  I think I shall turn it into a multi-layered gift.  As in, "With these crazy huge slippers comes the promise that you can visit me for a change (where there is a top-loader), without any hemming or hawing on my part (just lots of hectic cleaning)."  It will be a kick in the pants for me to actually clean my house, which I should do anyway seeing as there is a baby coming in four months or so.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Another pictureless post

The mittens are continuing unabated, though I have given up on Continental knitting in this project.  It did horrible things to my gauge.  Whatever I knit next (perhaps fingerless gloves for my mom, if I ever finish her slippers (only three more pieces to go! . . . then felting (scary))) I will start with CK and use it the whole way through, and then we will see how I really feel about it.  For now, mittens in good old English.  They continue to garner lots of attention at work, which is becoming a little annoying at this point.  If one more person asks me "What are you making?" I may just answer "A noose."  Just because.  However, one of the managers asked me a new question.

"Is it difficult?"

This caught me a little off-guard.  Usually this is framed as a statement.  "That looks difficult.  I could never do that.  You must have lots of patience." 

I replied, "It's really not much more difficult than knitting with two needles, because you only use two at a time.  The hardest part is keeping the joins between needles."

I almost fell out of my chair when he said, "I should start soon.  I bought a kit - I'm going to learn how."

Then he wandered off to do managerial things; I don't know what.  The world suddenly seemed much bigger than my dumb red mittens and their wandering cables and little knitted tumors.

I did finish the scarf for my sister, other than weaving in the last end.  Now I must somehow convince myself to make her a hat.  My enthusiasm for Christmas knitting (and crocheting) is waning fast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I'm a stubborn person.  When I set my mind at something, I'm difficult to sway.  It's the only reason I keep knitting.  It's not because I'm patient.  It's because I'm too pig-headed to know when I'm beaten.

These mittens are killing me.

I had to rip back to the ribbing because I didn't like how my cables had started with the new stitches, so I'm just sticking all the extra stitches into the middle of the cable and letting it widen itself out naturally.  It's not as though someone is really going to come along and say, "Hey, that isn't exactly what it looked like the in the movie!"  I've already tried googling them, and there is no photo evidence of Emma Watson wearing them.  I'm safe.  And far too stubborn to give them up as a bad job.

Now, I've always been an English knitter.  I attribute my inability to pick up knitting when I tried to learn as a child to the fact that the book I was using only featured Continental.  When I relearned from memory of the basic technique (stab through loop from front to back, yarn goes around needle), I unknowingly did so in classic English style.  Hey, this is easy!  Why did I have so much trouble as a wee lass?  I scoffed at Elizabeth Zimmerman's advice that Continental knitting was the way to go.  When had I ever given credence to her opinions?  The woman was clearly nuts.  Why should I knit more loosely, either?

The fact is that now my hands are sending out angry pain signals that the woman may have been right.  So I'm practicing my picking.  The good news is that I'm much better at it now than I was as a child, and I'm developing a rhythm and picking up speed.  The bad news is that I still hate it with a passion.  "Just let me knit the way I'm used to!" my fingers cry.  "Stop trying to make us learn new things!"

Sorry, girls, but I've stubbornly latched onto an idea now, and I won't give up until I'm distracted by a new one.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Crafting

I'm not a big fan of knitting gifts for Christmas.  I've done it, and enjoyed it, but I find deadlines highly intimidating and the idea that someone might not appreciate something that I've put hours, days, or weeks into; that they might not wear it, or they might never let me see them wearing it (I'm looking at you, people who still haven't sent me pictures of things I've made them for Ravelry).

However, I've put that aside to finally make something for my mom.  French Press Slippers are just too darn charming to pass up, and I've been half-heartedly promising to knit slippers (or socks) for her for several years.  I don't particularly expect them to turn out, or to fit, or to be comfortable, because my mom is so rarely pleased with things I make for her, but I lay my pride down this year.

And since I can't think of anything else to make for my sister Laura, who remains an enigma to me in spite of vigorous efforts on her part for us to bond, I am making her a red version of the One-Skein Scarf that I made for Ryan's sister.  If I have time and can find a good pattern, I'll make her a coordinating hat.  I don't even know if she wears hats.  Or scarves.  Or likes the color red.  I'm a terrible sister.  On the other hand, she's in Iowa now.  If she didn't wear hats or scarves beforehand, she will now.

I should have bought blue yarn instead.

Speaking of things made of red yarn, my Hermione Mittens are chugging along, after only three false starts.  Goldilocks couldn't have had more trouble making mittens.  "These mittens are too small!"  "These mittens are too big!"  "These mittens aren't airtight enough!"  Instead of trying to change my gauge, I added eight stitches, which has thus far given me a much more comfortably roomy cuff.  I like a long cuff, because many of my coats have sleeves that are a little too short (I have my dad's insanely long arms), so a little more room means I can make the cuffs longer without shaping.  On the other hand, I'm getting pretty tired of knitting ribbing.  As for the cable pattern that the book insists can't be altered, I'm just going to stick the extra four stitches on the back of the hand on either side of the two-stitch cable, where they won't be noticed.  I'm feeling pretty clever.
We'll see if that lasts when I hit the thumb gusset and forget to compensate for my changes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I need a hand . . .

Sometimes you have to stop, take stock of your life, and realize: this isn't working.

This mitten is too small.

That cute little mitten is the beginning of Hermione's Cable and Bobble Mittens from "Charmed Knits" by Alison Hansel, based on Hermione's mittens in "The Prisoner of Azkaban."  The only sizing options, unfortunately, are by changing the gauge.  Of course, I don't want to end up with the same problem I had with my first mittens.

My understanding of gauge has come a long way since high school.

Friday, August 12, 2011

More to Say

A woman came to my counter the other day to return a set of steel crochet hooks.  She said they were the wrong size, and assuming that she meant too small, I chuckled and said they were very much doily-making hooks.  She replied that they were indeed, but she needed a hook small enough to use in adding beads to a project.  My spider-sense tingling, I breathlessly contained my excitement and asked what kind of project.  Glory hallelujah, she said she was knitting a shawl.  I stuttered out something inane about my own attempts at knitting with beads, and we had something like a conversation about techniques, but all the while my brain was screaming, "Find out if she's on Ravelry!  Get her phone number!"

I fired up the camera, since my Ravelry notebook looked so forlorn with all of it empty boxes.  This is good news for my blog, because these posts aren't very interesting without graphics.

Here you can see the crude beginnings of my cabled riding jacket, which has proven to me that one cannot knit with wool during the dog days of summer unless one is in very good air conditioning.  The Fisherman's Wool is lovely and soft, but not very tightly plied and a rather light worsted weight.  Swatching (I swatched!) revealed that two strands would be necessary to get the stitch gauge, but my row gauge is hopelessly off.  I have no idea how to fix it without affecting the stitch gauge, so I'm just going to have a very long sweater.

I suppose I could attempt math, but how likely is that?

Looking ahead at the bodice instructions flip-flops my stomach.  To make any sense of them I will probably have to chart it out on graph paper with the errata close by.  I've never tried graphing out a whole pattern - only color charts, but it seems like a logical way of going about things.

On that note, I charted up this charming expy of my hipster husband as rendered by Charles Schultz, which I am applying to the Punk Rock Backpack from SnB.  It's turning out to be quite the stash-busting exercise, as I'm able to fill in the colors with some of the various odds and ends that have been kicking around in my bins forever.  On the other hand, I'm discovering that I really hate intarsia.

Which is why I have abandoned my ideas of making a colorwork-focused scarf for my husband's friend Andy, and am instead working up a Celtic Cables Scarf.  He has a Celtic cross tattooed on his back, so I figure that he should appreciate the motif, disappointed though he may be to not be getting the argyle scarf that I hinted at when he originally asked for a handknitted scarf.  The cables promise to be suitably impressive, so I'm not too worried.  I reckon it will be finished sometime in the next 20 years.

Having more or less finished Mirasol, I'm embarking on a new amigurumi, this time in knitting.  It's going to be me!  More or less.  The head is the wrong shape already, but I stuffed it with yarn, because that's what my head is full of.  The yarn is the same Sugar 'n Cream or Peaches and Creme kitchen cotton that I used for Mirasol, and I'm stabilizing the neck the same way I did for her: with a small wooden spool.  The gauge is just a little off, but I like the size it's coming out.  I was inspired by Stitch London and the Science Museum's 2010 Stitch Yourself project, but the pattern I'm using is Yarnigan's Blank Slate Doll, because it was free, and it hardly matters if I'm not sending the doll in.  I've added lots of mods to give the body more shape, which is also affecting the finished size considerably.

I dug out my old Pattern-a-Day calendar and found the pages for Cat Bordhi's Treasure Forest socks and the matching bookmark.  I don't have a suitable yarn for the socks just now, so I've cast on for the bookmark in Caron Simply Soft.

The Esperanza bookmark is growing gradually, with a few stitches jumping off whenever I pull it out of the bag - I need a better WIP storage solution.

Also growing - the Marple Shawl.

I've hit a literal snag with this one - it's so tangled up with the other projects in my bag that I can work no further on it until that is remedied.  It speaks volumes for my laziness that I'd just as soon work on something else as try to free this poor WIP.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Catching Up

My period is a day late.  This is not unusual for my periods, but these days wreaks havoc on my mood.

I cried most of the way home, because for one reason or another all the posts that my friends and Ryan's friends have put up about their pregnancies popped into my head, and I thought, ". . . And all of them will get to have their babies."  I was angry at the unfairness and horrified at my selfishness.

Then I look at my house and think, "This is no place for a baby.  This isn't even a place for kittens."  I am living in squalor, and eventually I'm not going to be able to use depression as an excuse.  Well, I could stay depressed forever, but impressed as I am with my ability to drive while sobbing, I don't want to live this way always.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On the upswing

I'm sorry that my last blog was so bleak.  I am full to the brim with turbulent emotion and letting it spill out is the only thing that keeps me sane sometimes.  It makes room for more.

Here is some good news.

My brother is officially back from Afghanistan for good!

He's my closest brother both in terms of age and being my best friend, and it's a major relief and joy to have him home.  Now he can find new dangerous things to do, like learning to ride a motorcycle and dating.

Susan sent me home with a bag full of yarn and books and magazines.  On the one hand, this violates my yarn diet, on the other hand, I didn't spend any money on them, which is what I was really concerned about.  

Ravelry is amazing.  It is the most comprehensive and exhaustively indexed pattern database I've ever encountered, and I love the inventory tools.  It is very cool to be able to type in a yarn that I have and see what other people have made with it, or see the finished objects they've made of patterns that I want to try.  It's like a social network for knitters/crocheters, but so much more than that.  It's my new favorite website.

I'm almost finished with Mirasol, my Free Spirit doll (pattern by Beth Webber)

Just a few more ends to weave in.  I placed her eyes too far apart, I think, but it gives her a unique look.  She's modeling next to my practice charts for Ryan's mittens.  The name Mirasol is an accidental jumbling of the name Marisol, which I also like, but Mirasol stuck.  I like that in rough Spanish it could mean, "She looks at the sun."  You know, if you smushed "mira al sol" together, dropped a couple letters, and understood that the subject of the sentence was implicit.  As I said, rough Spanish, not good Spanish.

This is a really fun pattern to crochet, very clearly and understandably written.  All of the dolls at By Hook, By Hand look like they're pure joy to make, and I look forward to working up more of them.  After all, once she's finished, Mirasol will need lots of clothes and friends!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Lost Art

I've been reading my old xanga entries, and wow, I used to write a lot.  Granted, I was young and anguished as young people often are, but I was also creative, spontaneous, and funny.  Where did that go?  Whatever happened to the quirky dialogues I used to write for no particular characters?  They may not have been brilliant, but they still draw laughs from me, egotistical as that may be.

It feels like my mind is one big empty space where it used to overflow with people and places and ideas.  I was always writing, always daydreaming, always somewhere else.  Now all I think about it knitting, because it keeps me away from the dark places in my head, because it keeps me from crying.

I want to cry, desperately.  Every minute that I let my thoughts go, they invariably return to that cold little body that I didn't get to hold for long enough.  My beautiful, broken boy.  I'm sad and angry and ashamed.  It's just a stillbirth, right?  Get over it and have another baby.

I don't want another baby, I want Gabriel.  I want the son I felt moving inside me for all those months.  He was so alive, so active, so . . . real.

I keep coming back to that word.  He was so real.  I had to stop myself several times in the hospital from saying, "He looks so real, he's like a real baby, he feels so real."  Like I was holding a doll.  It, the situation that is, didn't feel real to me.  This wasn't a baby, it was a body.  Of course it's my baby, look, he has my hair, my chin, my nose.  Look at how big his feet are, no wonder those kicks were so strong.  But . . . he wasn't quite real.  There was no soul in that body.  Whatever it was that was Gabriel was gone already, had been gone for three days, if not more.  All that was left was a shell, a corpse.  And we all smiled through our tears and pretended like he was real, like I was holding something more than a dead body.  And I talked to it, and cuddled it, and kissed it, and where was he?  In Heaven, of course, but was he watching?  If there are no tears in Heaven, what did he feel, what did he think when he watched his mother sobbing over a piece of meat?

What does he think now, when I still can't stop crying when I think about him, even though he's in the most wonderful place, in the Presence of God, and I selfishly want him back on earth where there is all this pain and suffering, fear and hatred, and . . .


Are there kittens in Heaven?  Does Gabriel understand the joy of kittens?  Are there trees?  Is there ice cream?

I'm torn between Heaven and earth, and I don't know how to move.

I don't want to move.  Every day, every minute, I'm moving farther and farther from the time when he was alive.  I have to, because I'm human, and I'm mortal, and I'm subject to Time.

Someday, I will have to do this all again.  As everyone so helpfully reminds me, I'm very young.  I have a good ten or more years of healthy childbearing ahead of me.  I'm in love with my husband, and such love bears fruit.  I'll get pregnant again, and somehow I have to bear up through it to the end without succumbing to a fearful paralysis of losing another baby.  And when that curse is broken, what next?

I'll just do the best I can, and miss him always.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Have I mentioned that I love my husband?  I love him.

We went to see the last Harry Potter movie last night.  I only cried a little, though there was a woman behind me who bawled through several scenes.  I felt sympathy for her, but I did the majority of my crying when I read the book.  I thought the movie was nicely done, and wrapped things up well for all that they had to cover their backsides from all the important details left out of previous movies.  The books were so intricately written, with so many points from previous books winding together, that the movies were in over their heads on bringing it all to the screen.

I loved the scene with Snape's memories - it was pretty much perfectly done, much as they had to leave out some parts.  This review is a pain to write without spoilers.

I still don't buy the Hermione/Ron romance as the movies sold it, and the worst part is that the movies ruined it in the books for me too.  Rupert Grint has great comedic timing and is a fine young actor, but he isn't Ron, and the writers never really wrote him to be.  Ginny/Harry wasn't well-handled in the books or the movies, and particularly in the movies the writers clearly wanted him to be with Hermione.  Honestly, I would have liked to see him fall for Luna - how sweet of a couple would they be?

The music was incredible, and the sound-editing was interesting, but I don't know enough about it to say if it was truly good or not.

In other news, I resisted the urge to buy more yarn.  Yay me!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I hereby solemnly swear . . .

A few nights ago while winding down in the hotel in Minneapolis after a five hour car trip, I managed to keep the Hilton's wireless network's (really lousy, Paris, by the way) attention long enough to order five skeins of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool.  I'm going to bravely and insanely attempt to knit Teva Durham's Cabled Riding Jacket.  Oh yes, oh yes.  I'm going to do math.  I'm going to make one of her crazy designs fit a body that she never conceives of designing for - a plus-sized breastacular post-partum blob.

In efforts of cleaning up my knitting act, and avoiding buying more yarn after this major purchase, I'm committing myself to this vow: once this yarn arrives, NO MORE NEW YARN, NO MORE NEW PROJECTS.  However long it takes, until the last end is woven in, I'm going to finish or frog what I've started.  Projects that are on hiatus because I ran out of yarn will have to wait until the others are done before I buy any new yarn to complete them, but I'm hoping they'll be in the minority.

My first priority is to finish everything that I'm knitting for other people.  To kill time on the way to Minnesota, I cast on for the Half-Pipe Hat for my husband (after ripping out the Pub Crawler sweater I was making for him, after discovering that there was no way I was going to find more Lion Wool in Pumpkin before I got bored of the project), so I'm determined to finish that before starting the Jacket.  I am hopeful and delusional that my yarn substitution will not drastically alter the pattern to the point that I have to give up or restart.  The hat was designed for two strands of DK held together on size 9 needles; I'm making it in worsted weight on size 10.  I'm getting gauge, but it's still coming out very small looking.

After that, I need to finish his flip-top mittens, which only need the ends woven in and the convertible bits tacked down.  I hate finishing, or this would have been done ages ago.

Then there is the dog sweater that I'm knitting for my former coworker Rachel.  Let me just say - I adore Rachel, her dog is sweet, I like dogs, I HATE DOG SWEATERS.  There is something in me that balks at measuring a dog, at knitting for a dog, at a dog wearing something that I knit.  I really do like dogs, but I think they don't wash their hands, as it were.

However, Rachel bribed me by letting me teach her to knit, so here I am, knitting a little purple cabled dog sweater.  It's only acrylic; I don't know how warm it will keep him, but more importantly - it's washable.  And with any luck will be finished before winter, now that I'm dead set on finishing it at some point.

I'm not very good at knitting for other people.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hats and hats

It never occurred to me that flowers could go in and out of style like clothes or hairstyles, but then I witnessed the rise of the Gerbera daisy.  When my husband casually mentioned that it was his sister Lisa's favorite flower, I thought, "The what daisy?  Did they just invent that?  Can you invent flowers?" and dismissed it.  Then it started cropping up everywhere - at work, on banners, in pots, in bouquets, on the covers of Sarah Dessen novels . . .

And then I remembered the Calla lily.  Three years ago my friend Carlin asked what I thought of Calla lilies, because his girlfriend of the moment liked them, and I said, "What lilies?"   Suddenly they were in all the Easter bouquets and wedding bouquets and on magazines and in knitting patterns and as knitting patterns, and then just as suddenly they faded out.  I thought it had all been rather overblown for a dumb flower, but I've never been very good at trends.  Or at flowers, for that matter.  I haven't had a favorite flower since I discovered tulips in grade school, and when my wedding rolled around and they asked what kind of flowers I wanted I chose irises because just in case we decided that real flowers weren't in the budget, I had a nice origami pattern for irises.

The point being, I made a hat.

I was going to give it to Lisa for her birthday, hence the big pink daisy, but instead of the jaunty little cloche the pattern teased me with, it turned out to be huge and grannyish, and entirely unsuited to a trendy 21 year old.  For a trend-bucking 23 year old, the water's just fine.

The daisy is my own pattern, and one of these days I'll sit down and write it out for the internet's pleasure, just as soon as I remember how I did it.

Lisa did get a scarf that I made from The Happy Hooker; the One Skein Scarf, in the same yarn as the daisy - Knit Picks Swish in Bubblegum, and a cabled newsboy hat from SnB Nation, neither of which did I take any pictures of.  The hat was done holding two strands of wool yarn together, one turquoise and one medium blue, in the hopes that the turquoise would brighten the blue and the blue would mellow the turquoise.  I don't know if it did, but the result was a cute speckled effect anyway.  In retrospect, I wish I had tried blocking it over a plate to see if it would turn out more slouchy, but there isn't much I can do about that now, since it would come across a little odd to ask for the hat back "because I just thought of something that would make it more awesome!"

On that note, here is a whale earbud holder that I made for her two Christmases ago.

It may be the very definition of 'ugly cute.'  I'm not sure that it does Roman Sock's pattern justice, but Lisa liked it.  It was my first Christmas with Ryan's family and I wanted to make something unique for everyone.  Since I didn't know them very well yet, handmade gifts would show that I wanted to put effort and thought into their presents, at least more effort than just giving them cash or gift cards.  Not that I'm knocking gift cards - they make nice gifts, especially for hard-to-buy-for friends and long-distance exchanges.  But for that first Christmas I wanted to make and impression.

For his parents I made this beaded ornament:

I also made the box - hooray for origami, fabric scraps, and glitter!

For Ryan I knitted the rooster hat from Scribblenauts, as we were fawning over the game at the time.  Until that inspiration came to me I had been at a loss as to what to make for him.  The expressions on everyone's faces when he opened it were indescribable and fully worth every stitch.  I cobbled the pattern together from elements from several different sources, and managed to make it all up in under a week - record time!

 Actually, record time goes to the three-day knitting frenzy that produced the Jayne Cobb hat for my friend Alan, seen here with the earflaps tied up out of the way, which is a shame because you miss some of the glory.  Someone told him it looked like a parrot had died on his head, which is the sort of original insult that pleases me.  It means that I have truly created a hat that only a man who isn't afraid of anyone would wear.

It was pure joy to knit and there is nothing to compare to the satisfaction of making a gargantuan pompom, even if it does garner some odd looks when you're making it during a Legal Ethics lecture.

One of these days I'd like to make one for myself.  I think Ryan and I would look pretty cunning in our gigantic crazy hats. . .

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tidying Up

My yarn collection is slowly being untangled and sorted into its new home - a set of plastic drawers from Wal-Mart.

Ryan assures me this will make it so much easier to move.  My response was, "We're moving?"  True, our lease ends this month, but I had assumed we would renew it; the main reason we were planning on looking for a new place was because there isn't really room here for a growing family.  When it turned out that Gabriel wasn't to be, we came back to square one, and that square happens to contain a two-bedroom house with incredibly low rent, a blessing straight from God for a young couple with a lot of stuff and sketchy budgeting skills.

However, my premarital counseling class instructed me to take the passage, "Wives, obey your husbands" seriously, so if this is Ryan's plan, then I will trust it to be God's plan as well.  Whatever the end result, at least my yarn is getting untangled and sorted.

I still have too many projects going at once, but I did finish my mystery yarn hat!  My math and my gauge swatch are laughing at me - despite careful calculations the hat is enormous.  I have a larger-than-average head, but this might have been overkill.  Combined with the strange colorway, the overall impression is that my head exploded.  It has been thus christened The Zombie Hat.

Also finished, the Triangular Shawl, another free Red Heart pattern.  I did most of it on my breaks at work while I was pregnant, and there it stayed until I returned from my maternity leave.  I didn't have the heart to continue it in the same context that I had started it, so I brought it home and finished it on the way to my parents.  I tried to give it to my mom for an early Mother's Day gift, but she decided it was too big for her.  I wore it out for my wedding anniversary last weekend, and it was lovely and warm while allowing me to show off my outfit instead of covering it up with a less elegant coat.  Shawls are wonderful inventions.

I worked several more rounds than the pattern called for because my gauge (surprise!) was off.  Other than that, the only modification I made was using burgundy yarn instead of blue, and omitting the tassel.  A single tassel at the point as the pattern called for put me in mind of a tail, and I am not a raccoon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Feeling lost

The knitting progresses sporadically and there are as yet no pictures.  I have started half a dozen new projects and neglected the old ones most shamefully.  The only work getting consistent attention is the Red Heart pattern I'm crocheting on my breaks at work, the Scandinavian Snowflake Throw.  It caught my eye because it was free.  As usual my too-tight crochet gauge has resulted in squares that are a few inches too small, even having gone up two needle sizes, so I'm going to do a six-square-by-six-square throw instead of the five-by-five.  How do they get such big squares out of such a tiny hook???  Also, why the smiling model with the tortured eyes?

My capricious approach to projects seems to be the natural behavior of a wanton heart.  I'm beginning to realize that the faith I have professed for so long is wanting, and I don't really know what I believe.  To put it more accurately, I know WHAT I claim to believe, and I do believe it, but I don't really know much about it, and I don't know how to put it into practice.  All of my attempts feel half-hearted.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, Creator of the Universe and Mankind.  I believe that it is appointed to Man to die once and after this the judgement, and only through Christ and baptism in water and fire can we be saved.  I believe that I am repeating this like a good schoolgirl, but when it comes down to it I don't know if my life reflects my belief.  I witnessed to a few people, but I've never been much of a spokesperson on anything.  Everything is so personal to me, and I have a hard time relating it to other people, especially when I'm put on the spot.

I want to know more, I want to get involved, but I don't know where to start.  I want to live a life of faith, and I don't know what that means.

I feel like the whole world is falling apart around me, and I need to stand my ground and overcome, but it would be so much easier to lie down and stop trying.  What does it take to be like David, Esther, Mary, and Paul?

Friday, March 25, 2011

No knitting today, just musings

Ryan's coworker Ryan just inherited his fourth cat.  I haven't met her yet, but her name is Freya, and she just lost a litter of kittens shortly after giving birth to them.  The other Ryan has a ringtone that sounds like a kitten mewling, and my Ryan says that when Ryan got a text message last night, Freya curled up on the armchair and started making the saddest little noises.  My Ryan teared up, and so did I when he told me the story.

Babies shouldn't die.

Yarn Spree Afterglow

As promised, but a little late, we can now recount the blessings of getting out of the house and buying yarn.

My friend Nathan was gracious enough go with me and drive.  He isn't a knitter but he chatted with the yarn store owner, scoped out the cute guy cutting fabric at Jo-Ann's, and bought supplies to make a pocket for his iPad case to hold all of his accessories.  It strikes me as a considerable oversight that the people who designed the case didn't think to include pockets - where else are you supposed to keep your cables, headphones, adapters, etc?  On the other hand, Nathan got to experience that indescribable thrill of having made something useful with his own two hands.  It almost carried him through the disappointment that the local mall's Hot Topic had closed.  Almost.

The yarn store was a cute little shop tucked up just outside of the university campus, and I got to fawn over the fibers and blanch at the prices.  All of my yarn to this point has always been under $6 per skein, the humble offerings of large chain retailers.  Red Heart, Caron, and Lion Brand are the best friends of the non-picky Midwestern knitter on a college student's budget, though the inner circle also admits the college student's girlfriends' mothers who knit, are eager for a knitting companion, and are generous with their sock yarn.  I may as well note at this digression that I'm not longer a college student, just a twenty-something newlywed with a gas-draining commute to a just-decently-over-minimum-wage job.  However, I am genuinely easy-going in my yarn preferences for most projects - I grew up wearing crocheted acrylic hats and cuddling under crocheted acrylic afghans.  My mom only just starting branching out into cotton.

One of these days I will chronicle for you the work of my mother and my dad's mother, but I'm supposed to be talking about a yarn shop today.

I tend to treat yarn shops like a combination petting-zoo/museum; I go to look and feel but I don't take anything home with me except cheap kitsch from the gift shop.  Today I was determined not to leave without sock yarn.  Did you know there are places charging $30 for a skein of sock yarn?  I'm sure they make lovely socks, but I'm looking for something for my husband, who walks and sweats right through SHOES eventually.  I settled on Berroco Sox.

25% nylon, machine washable.  I love my husband, but there is no way that I'm handwashing his socks.  Air-drying is the most I will do.

I also nabbed the new Stitch and Bitch book by Debbie Stoller.  I've acquired the previous four through Christmases and Chanukahs past, but I was too embarrassed to say the title to my in-laws last year when they did their annual wishlists.  Profanity aside, I love these books.  I love the clear directions and the quirky writing, and I love most of the patterns.  I've already earmarked three for future projects, and if my usual habits are anything to go by, that future will be soon, current WIPs be darned.

In the meantime . . .

Hobby Lobby turned out to be a bust, as they had nothing that sang out to me.  I was intrigued by the bamboo blends by Stitch Nation, which looked like it would have a nice drape and was silky soft, but for once in my life I didn't want a bright solid color.

So it was off to Jo-Ann's, where Nathan, major Wheel of Fortune fan that he is, had an amusing meeting with Vanna's Choice.  The first color he looked for?  White, naturally.  He recounted the movie "Goddess of Love" to me while I debated between the various offerings of Wool-Ease.

Final choice:

Forest Green Heather narrowly won out over Oxford Grey, thanks to Nathan's vote.  The choice was validated when Ryan complimented the color entirely unprompted this morning.  If both the gay friend and the husband agree, it's a winner.  The pattern is Miss Marple's Shawl from the same Piecework issue that I referenced in the last post.  It's taken from Weldon's Practical Needlework Shawls in Knitting and Crochet, an English pattern from 1930.  Goaded by the magazine and my love of British mysteries, I checked out Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder.  Currently Miss Marple is working on a light blue baby jacket and nineteen-year-old case of alleged strangulation.  I picture the baby jacket as Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, ignoring the fact that it was designed in 1968 while the book was written in the 40's.  On the other hand, Agatha Christie did meet Doctor Who, so who's to say that Miss Marple can't have picked up some future knitting patterns on the sly?  It's what Dumbledore would do.

You're going to notice that these digressions are very commonplace in my writing.  Back to the pattern - it calls for a wool/silk blend on size US 6 needles, but if I know anything about vintage patterns it's that they were designed for people who were much smaller than I am, and if I know anything about wool/silk blends, it's that they are pricey.  Ergo, a nice wool/acrylic blend on size US 10 needles.  I tend to knit tightly, so hopefully the extra-large needles will allow for more drape and softness.  I didn't bother with a gauge swatch, because it's a SHAWL - if it's too big it will be a blanket, if it's too small I will give it to my mom, but I'm guessing around 4 stitches to the inch instead of the prescribed 6.

The funky-looking things hanging off the end of my needle are row counters, believe it or not.

I couldn't find my little Susan Bates dial, and Ben Franklin's won't have more in until next week, so I trolled the Internet for something to use in the meantime.  They work like an abacus, with the teal beads marking the tens column and the orange bead marking the ones.  I also made a third one with green beads - this pattern has 671 rows all told, so I'm going to need a hundreds column as well.  There's a handy tutorial describing how to make them here, though it suggests 12 beads to a counter.  Perhaps the writer is Elvish?  Later I found this neat - and fashionable - design.  It's gorgeous, but I don't have the findings and I prefer something that hangs off of my needle instead of me.  On the other hand, once the shawl reaches a certain width, I'll probably have to take the counters off anyway.  An even simpler counter can be found here, reminiscent of an Irish penal rosary (fascinating backstory on those).  Here's one more design I considered, but ultimately forwent as I don't have plastic-coated wire lying around.

While at Jo-Ann's I also bought this nifty reusable bag.  It is now the new mobile home of all my current craftiness.

Please excuse the glare - I am new to this photography thing.

I started (and restarted) a hat last night, made from some random, strangely patterned yarn that my mom gave me a few years ago:

It came to me without a ball band, so I'm at a loss as to what it is, besides clearly acrylic, and clearly dyed by insane people.  The red, magenta, and pink aren't so bad, but then there are the black and white bars completely out of nowhere.  There's nothing like a hat for showing off crazy, and a hat is a good project when you only have one skein of yarn.  This one I'm basing on the companion hat to Teva Durham's Corrugated Asymmetrical Sweater from Loop-d-Loop, with some math to make it work for worsted-weight yarn instead of bulky.  Teva loves her some bulky yarn (and crazy, but brilliant patterns, worn by tiny pretentious, unsmiling models with bizarre hairstyles).  This is another book of patterns that I adore, despite the crazy, and despite none of them being sized for a plus-sized, busty gal like myself.  I have resigned myself to hats and a doll-sized version of her Lace-Leaf Pullover.

It doesn't fit the doll particularly well, she not being of human proportions, and even with modifications to the neck and back it's almost impossible to get her to into it, but it was mostly to scale - same number of stitches as the human-sized sweater width-wise, done on US 0 needles with worsted-weight yarn.  So it's technically impressive while practically useless, like knitting a sweater for a polar bear.  Sure, it would be cute, but you'll never get close enough to put it on him, and even if you did he'd just go swimming in it anyway.  It was fun to knit, though.

The glove and the bookmark are coming along slowly with all this competition, so there really isn't anything to show, so I'm going to end on a personal note.

Gabriel's pictures came yesterday.

Photos by Natural Expression Photography, as a part of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

I miss you, and I'm thinking of you all the time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Hello, people of the internet.  I know absolutely nothing about blogging.  I just knit, and I own a camera, and I need something to keep myself busy and stave off the PPD while I wait out my maternity leave.  Welcome to my recovery.

Currently on my needles:

Ballybeg Homeworker's Gloves to Knit, by Elizabeth Cobbe, from the September/October 2010 issue of Piecework.  They're based on the kind of gloves that would have been knit for sale by women in Ireland, circa 1930, inspired by the play Dancing at Lughnasa, by Brian Friel.

The yarn is Serenity Sock Weight by Premier Yarns.  The color, for some reason, is called Jasper.  I would have called it Halloween.  Both the magazine and the yarn were given to me by my friend Susan at my son's memorial service.  I don't think she intended me to use this particular yarn for this particular pattern, but I needed to knit, and the gauge was right.  It's a nice wool/bamboo/nylon blend.

This was my first time making a picot edge, and I have to say I'm charmed.  Very elegant, very simple.  It's also my first time working with a fingering weight yarn, but it's progressing faster than I thought.  If not for my attention span I might have a few fingers done already, but my mind tends to wander and then it's off to a different pattern.

Such as:

A Bookmark to Crochet, by Julia Baratta, from the same magazine.  For those unable to read the small print in the picture, it's based on an afghan in the children's book Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan.  I'm using Aunt Lydia's Crochet Cotton, color Mexicana, but the only difference seems to be the name; I'm almost positive that it's made by the same company anyway.  I am also using a size 7 hook instead of 9 - I can't speak for the rest of the crocheters in the world, but it's inevitable that to achieve gauge I have to use a hook at least two sizes larger than the pattern calls for.  I don't have the knack of crocheting loosely.

There's a joke in there about not being a loose hooker, but that would be silly.

I haven't read either of the literary works that inspired these projects, because the tiny library in this tiny town doesn't carry them.  I love my husband dearly, and I understand why we had to move here, but I'm not sure he understands the cruelty of taking a bibliophile away from her beloved WELL-STOCKED library.  Alas.

Another trial of living in this town is that the only place to buy yarn is Ben Franklin's.  I'm still new to the world of internet shopping, and the closest yarn shop is forty-five minutes away.  Tune in tomorrow, when I travel an hour to an actual CITY to discover a new yarn shop, and raid a Hobby Lobby or possibly Jo-Ann's Fabrics for Wool-Ease, because two projects are never enough.