Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A White Belt in Knitting

I know a woman who has a mantra that she has gleaned from her years of karate practice and it is this: "Everyone starts out a white belt."

There is no testing out of belts, so she tells me and this is something I have been thinking about lately. There have been some very thought provoking blogversations about knitters and knitting lately. Who are the smart knitters and who are the dumb ones? The Knitters and the knitters?

Rather than rehash any of that, I would rather think about beginnings. Everyone starts out with a cast on and a knit stitch.

And some stay there: one of my bosses on seeing me knit remarked, "You need to talk to my daughter. She doesn't know how to stop."

"Stop?" I was briefly excited about the idea of another fiberaddict.

"Yeah, she just knits these long [exasperated hand gesture indicating neverendingness] I-don't-know-whats."

"Scarves?" I replied.

"No, scarves have ends, these just go on. She doesn't know how to stop one."

I could picture her buying a new set of needles for every new not-scarf, and a whole basket overflowing with snaky UFOs...

So is this young knitter lacking guidance, discipline, or brains? Or is knitting maybe just not her bag? Or god forbid, is it just something to occupy her time, rather than consume it? Does everyone have to approach the act of looping loops of fiber as an art to be mastered or forsaken?

On the left is SR, the woman who taught me to knit, though "taught" is probably a strong word. I got a book and she gave suggestions about how to hold the needles. She has this wildly indefinable style of knitting—I wish I had a little streaming video—she holds one needle in her lap and throws with her left hand. You have to see it, really.

On the right is me, with my first bundle of hand-dyed wool. I am smiling because I have convinced SR that I am going to knit something with it. We are at the Taos Sheep and Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico (Fall, 2000). {To Be Continued...}

Monday, June 28, 2004

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

...quoth the Bard.

(Although I prefer Ms. Parker's take: "Brevity is the soul of lingerie.")

That last post was a doozy, and my apologies to anyone with dial-up or an otherwise slow connection. I will keep this one brief and photo free.

This weekend I got a little bit of knitting (and a lot of sightseeing) done with Michelle! She describes the afternoon quite well, so I won't rehash it. I will say that I was very happy to finally get to one of the Smithsonians... it is nearly criminal that I have been here for more than 5 months and hadn't gone yet. I can see more trips in the future now that my curiousity is piqued.

Knitwise, I managed to get about 3 inches done on my Eyelet Cardi body and should have pictures up tomorrow. Also finished the "shiny coffee" garter stitch scarf (I have posted a detail already, and if you've seen one...) and got two-thirds done on my fifth Critter Knit.

Thanks to a great post by Margene, I have been thinking about beginner knitters (I very much consider myself one) and how they are made. I have been trying to get a hold of the woman who taught me to knit and ask her how she learned and from whom. Once I do (and she gives me the OK to blab about her on the blog) I hope to post a little about it. Who taught you to knit, and do you know who taught your teacher?

Last But Not Least: Jessie Finished Salt Peanuts! {and the crowd goes WILD! whraaaawwwww} It looks great, especially (IMHO) the olivewood brown. I am newly inspired to get my brown peanut blocking.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Vacation Slides

Oh man, I wish I had a whole carousel of slides from my visit to my folks' in Phoenix... and you were all stuck with me in a stuffy living room having to be polite and murmur encouragingly as I flipped to the eightieth cactus picture.

Instead (thanks in part to the ease of escape that the internet provides) I will bother you with only a few (and no cacti, it was way too hot for sightseeing). Be forewarned however, this post contains knitting content, but really it is mostly the blog-equivalent of a vacation slide show.

What I did on my Summer Vacation:

click here for the school picture version

The Hulk, played by Nephew #1 while he models his sweater (remember the stash-buster?) My knitting-sense—not unlike Spidey-sense—has vastly improved in 6 short months of being Serious about knitting not to mention blog-surfing around other Serious Knitters, and I now see so many holes and gauge issues in this sweater that I felt kind of crummy giving it as a gift—but he lives in ARIZONA and will probably only ever wear it once. Huge props to the kid for modeling for me in (get this)... 104° weather (don't worry the AC was on). Not surprisingly, the only LYS I visited was sparsely stocked.

Here's is Nephew #2 in his bottoms up bucket. He enjoyed it most in it's secondary configuration as a projectile weapon. His head is really almost too big for a size small (99th percentile... my poor, poor sister).

Speaking of, she has a due-date for niece #1/nephew #3 in less than 8 weeks. Please DO NOT send warm wishes through cyberspace to her, but rather the coolest and breeziest wishes you can muster. Poor thing, all pregnant in (that's right) 104° weather. Also, meditate on small heads.

lil big-head knows how to keep cool

While we are still talking about my little sis... She learned to knit (and purl) while I was there! She made several little Jiffy squares of different stitch patterns (garter, stockinette, 2x2 rib, basketweave) and is already clamoring for more. The squares will become a blanket for what we hope is Niece #1. While she has elected to be "surprised," We At Small Hands are rooting for a girl since there are SO many cute girly things to knit.

By way of instruction, I knit two Critter Knits. One in Homespun and the other in Jiffy.

Oh, and for my birthday, besides lots of great clothes and books and CDs, my mom (Yay Mom!) got me a new digital camera! The blog should be much more interesting to look at going forward.

5.3 megapixels
21x total zoom
Auto Focus, White-balance, Flash

And did I mention MACRO??

This is the "classy" lookin' garter scarf of previous posts... click here to look at how slippery and shiny it is!

On the subject of classy and birthdays, check THIS out, lest we forget the AWESOME gift from Lara (she's got her own site in the works, in the meantime she can be soaked up at diaryland). From Lara I received the very cute and practical Knit & Crochet Companion, complete with a little zippered pocket for yarn bits, a needles-I-already-own-so-don't-buy-them-again chart, and room for notes and patterns and what-not... AND some so so so soft Blue Sky Alpaca in Natural Light Tan (that just happens to be enough and the right gauge for the Debbie Bliss bunny that Jen made earlier (and Lara is making now). So Imma jump on the bunny-wagon.

Whew. What else? Oh, and I finished the knitting on Salt Peanuts! Still needs finishing... But YEAH! Swoosh! Goal! I will post pics of it once it is blocking.

Also finished sleeve number two on my Eyelet Cardi. This teeny gauge is very intimidating. As such, it has gotten little attention of late. I am going to try to focus a bit more on it.

Regular sleeves, no surprises

I also swatched my lace-along pattern. And I made gauge and everything! But I left the swatch in Phoenix, so you will have to trust me. I haven't cast on yet, as I am currently being wooed by the Jo Sharp Soho Summer cotton and shell pattern that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago AND the Classic Elite Premiere and other shell pattern I bought in Phoenix. Oh, right! I almost forgot to mention the stash enhancement... Wait, you didn't actually think I left town without buying yarn, did you? 104ยบ or not, yarn's yarn. The lovely ladies at The Knitter's Nook even wound it up for me.

So, lace-along or tank... lace-along or tank... It is this very conundrum that has led to my commitment to hurry the hell up on my cardi. If the cardi were done, I could start a tank AND the shawl. I would like to forestall the choosing for another week.

In the meantime, I have been working on "lace-esque" scarf number two. The Morning Surf scarf (aka "Blue Wavy Scarf") from Heartstrings Fiberarts. This second scarf—numero uno was the red knotwork number—is made out of Tess' Designer Mohair/Merino blend and now that I have such a cool camera, you can see how great the yarn looks in this wavy pattern.

Only two weeks gone and I missed all kinds of amazing things in the bloggerhood. But I got a lot of knitting done (and a lot of my paying work done, too). I don't think I have the time management skills to both read all the blogs I love and write a blog I can stand... not sure what's to be done about that. For now, I will just let the housework slide until I can come up with a solution... I mean, priorities are only worth anything if they are in line with one's values.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Blog vacation 6/11-6/25

Yesterday I got to do a bit of knitting with Lara and her crazy cute cat, Haley. When I return I will have to post a coupla pics of the the perfect pressie she got me!

With the exception of a lil bit of buddy knittin', this has been a very hectic week, and I haven't been able to knit too much OR keep up with my blog reading and blogging pals. That is no good. I will be on a work trip next week and then settling into a regular workout routine when I get back, so I will be stepping away from the blog world for a couple of weeks.

But I will be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail, hopefully with some FOs or another. (Including, I hope, my entry in the Lace - Along.) I already can't wait to read about all of y'all's FOs when I get back!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Scarves: Detail (or, too tired for a whole post)

Here are the two scarves:

The one on the left is about 72 inches (sans fringe) and includes the dreamy Gedifra Byzanz (in color 04) as well as Lamb's Pride worsted, Lion Brand Jiffy, Homespun, and Reynolds Allagash. It is really warm and gooshy, with just the tiniest bits of gold flecks. Why is my bind off always so much tighter than my cast on, even though I concentrate on looseness? I am about to re-do it on this one.

The one on the right is about 60 inches and is made from two skeins of the Katia Twist in No. 11.

The last scarf is still on the needles. I looked online for the fibers used, but couldn't find anything on "Fantasy Yarns"— maybe a private label yarn? Anyway, I am using Java, a 100% Polymide stretchy shiny tape yarn, and Violet, a 50/50 Polymide/Wool railroad tape with two rows that alternate shiny and a fuzzy flags. Both are in a matching colorway that is eloquently titled "Shade 01." I like to think of it as "Coffee on a Cloudy Day" because it melts from a deep strong coffee brown through to a light latte and cream color then to a silvery grey and back to brown.

Hello, my name is Chelsea...

...and I am addicted to novelty garter-stitch scarves. I didn't think it could happen to me. I mean, I went to A.C. Moore for some cotton-y something to make a quick thank you gift for a friend in Texas.

I mean, I had to... How many things can you knit for a woman in Texas in June??? Well, I figured I would try just one, long, skinny, garter-stitch scarf in the very slinky and coolly casual Twist by Katia. But then there was this stuff called something like Byzantum... I didn't even really look at the label, just tossed it in the basket. And then this end-cap display... railroad ribbon, elastic-y shiny tape, all color coordinated. I already had the Byzanthius or whatever, so I figured two more wouldn't hurt. I, I didn't even realize what I was doing! I must have blacked out right before buying the ten inch US15s... I was really glad when I came to and didn't see traces of anything eyelash-y around, at least none that I could find.

Anyway. I finished two over the weekend and have one more (the last one, I swear... well, except for maybe ONE other) on the needles. Turns out easy garter-stitch scarves are the perfect cure for knitting ennui. I made a nice gift, a rather dreamy winter wooly (probably for me), and have a very "classy" one on the way. (The last one will be a perfect gift for one of the "if it isn't a knock-off of something one could get at Bergdorf's, then I am not interested" family members of mine.)

My image server is on the move again, and I am not sure when I will get pictures up, but I will.

There is still half of one sleeve to finish on Salt Peanuts. It really OUGHT to be done by now, but I just couldn't bring myself to it.

The weather was rainy and cool (!) for the National Race for the Cure. I am going to refrain from unleashing the long-ass diatribe I would like to make on the base greed of people. I will say briefly that I was there volunteering with my coworkers to hand out Sniffs tissues... along with several other companies who were there handing out other freebies (Flip-flops, Soymilk smoothies, bandanas, etc. ) and the lengths people will go to to get a freakin packet of TEN tissues! I mean, stealing? Sure. Lying? Yep. Like doing their "time" by walking 3.1 miles entitles them to plenty of "loot."

Did I mention that the weather was cool? It was! In JUNE! Sure, it means more mosquitoes later, but there was a BREEZE. And, there still is today! If this means that in September there might be breezes (I am not crazy, I hold no illusions about July and August) then the summer might not be so bad. I mean, even if it just "summer" length... instead of "most of the year" length... Then I can try not to bitchandmoan too much about the hot and sticky and buggy.

THANK YOU to Jen, Lara, and Ann for their kind support and tips for dealing with the heat. Jen, whenever I am next goin' to California - I will be lookin' to you and La to show me around the LYSes. Lara, you can come sit in my free air conditioning anytime (but not until I finish unpacking alla boxes). And Ann, I will get to a beach ASAP... thanks for the reminder.

Friday, June 04, 2004

oddly enough, the only song I can sing is Summertime

Warning: whine an cheese post with no knitting news ahead.

I am not a fan of summer. I can safely say that it is my least favorite season, and I dread its arrival every year. But I wasn't always a summah hatah.

Ever since I realized that not everyone got summers "off" and that one day I too would be among those who had to work in June, July and August, I have grown to resent those months a little more each year. Why not take a vacation each summer, you ask? (Well, you probably don't, but I can project whatever I want.)

Ah, that brings me to the second problem with summer. I grew up in Portland, Oregon. Summers in the NW were usually warmish, and usually brief. There were often a few weeks of really warm weather, but I only remember a couple of times during summer beach trips when I actually trusted the sun to warm me enough after plunging into the very chilly Pacific Ocean.

Since spending the first 22 and a half years of my life in such idyllic summer-y climes, I have lived in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and now Maryland. Can you, gentle readers, pre-ceive my post-childhood issues with this stupid season? (We'll leave NM out of this discussion because summer in Santa Fe was actually better than summer in Portland, but for the glaring lack of an ocean I would be there now.) Why, if I enjoyed the cool, rainy dampness of the Great Northwest, do I insist on living in places that not only have terrible summers (for one reason or another) but climates that are decidedly dominated by them? Let's hope, whatever the reason, that it is at least noble in intent.

I have only been in Maryland since February (when there was actual snow on the ground, folks! SNOW!) so I am hoping that this summer is better than the blistering heat of Phoenix, or the utterly demoralizing and obscene summer of New Orleans (I know, I know, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I was very... financially challenged while there, and had only one small window unit that my "neighbors" kept trying to steal and the roaches and the smell of a "city that care forgot" in August is one I would like to forget myself), or the Austin summer that is somehow just as bad even though it isn't quite as hot or quite as humid, but is just so long.
summertime, and the living is easy
fish are jumping, and the cotton is high
oh, your daddy's rich, and your ma is good-lookin'
so hush, little baby, don't you cry

one of these mornings you going to rise up singing
then you'll spread your wings and you'll take the sky
but 'til that morning there's a nothing can harm you
with daddy and mammy standing by.

...where was I? Ah yes, in Maryland. Hoping for the best. You may be thinking, as I usually do this time of the year (every freakin' year, it seems), that if I hate having to work through the summer and hate having to live through the summer, then maybe JUST MAYBE?! I am dong the wrong thing in the wrong place? It would seem. But each year, once I feel the first cool breeze of Fall, or what passes for it Things Begin Looking Up again and I forget.

I may know the right where, but I have no idea about the what. Well, that isn't true. I just started to type two different paragraphs about the what, but what if I am wrong? And this is what summer does to me. Sweat, Heat Rash, Mosquitoes, Self Doubt, and a longing for something, somewhere else. Is it any wonder that this year, now that I have a bit of confidence in my knitting, that all I want is to knit row upon row of beautiful delicate lace—to have something fragile and lovely to concentrate on through these longest months? To loop up the ennui-that-is-really-an-ache and make something of it?

People tell me that the summer here is dreadful. My hope is that it is only relatively dreadful. If you know otherwise, don't tell me. Or better yet, send ice-cubes and tell me what you do to enjoy the hottest months. Most people enjoy summers, don't they?

Oh. And the thousands upon thousands millions upon millions of cicadas that only befall Maryland once every seventeen years, that is, this year? It is a natural phenomenon, not to mention a fabulous example of my "summertime" timing, and I feel like I should comment at great and witty length about them. But they don't inspire me. I mean, they may be a bit disturbing as they kamikaze dumbly through the air, but they should be gone in another week or two. And I will hopefully be on the opposite shore when they come back.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

how wild...

No smoking around Deva Kali. Thank you for your co-operation.


From Go-Quiz.com (via Ann)

A goofy quiz, or an oracle? (My preferred pseudonym is Deva Kali)
I quit smoking at 8:00 AM (CST) on January 22, 2003
Here are my stats:
  • 497 days, 1 hour, 49 minutes and 31 seconds smoke free.

  • 9942 cigarettes not smoked.

  • $1,913.45 and 2 months, 15 days, 22 hours of my life saved.

If you or someone you know wants to quit... be sure to check out the web's best resource for it: QuitNet: Quit All Together

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

titles are hard

I did indeed finish the Right Front of Salt Peanuts on Sunday. Since I did one of the sleeves before the fronts, I only have one sleeve left of knitting. WOO!

I have also started a little wavy blue scarf for some instant gratification. The current languishing project is the Eyelet Cardi. It is hard to visualize it ever being done, so it is easy to avoid. I need to get creative about reinspiring myself about it.

My photoeditor (aka Sweet Baboo) is taking the day off from being at my digital beck and call to do some real work (YAY Sweet Baboo!!) which means there may be some lag in the project photos... unless I knuckle down and learn some freakin' Photoshop.

Thank you to all who left messages the other day with concern for my knees. I have since moved the ottoman lenthwise, so one end of the loveseat is like a chaise, and added a small pillow. I used to use a footstool in my large folding chair and it did wreak havoc. The new setup is much better. Thanks again!