Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Me!

Today is my birthday, and I am celebrating in several ways.

1. I made birthday crowns.*

2. I kicked my father out of the country. I'd had enough. He is on his way to Guatemala.

3. I wore a crown at work today.** So did Juliann. It is her birthday, too.

It is also Connie Chang Chinchio's, so go tell her happy birthday on Ravelry or Twitter (@changcon). [And on an unrelated note: I am loving the little birthday cake on my Ravatar.]

4. I am organizing the Stash. It has gotten out of control. I'd ceded the right side of my bedroom to Stash, and the right side to Everything Else. Like books. DVDs. And laundry.

This was caused by a Moth Sighting, even though I could easily tell that the moth in question was a Random Outdoor Moth and not a clothes moth, due to the species. But It still frightened me. I don't like to think that They might Come. Hence the cedar and the ziplocs.*

5. I got organize-y things for the Stash for my birthday. This means I can make-over my closet to be more yarn-centric and less clothes-centric. Or maybe equally divided.

6. I grabbed yet another storage dealie at Walmart today for only sock yarn. It is large. Because I have too much sock yarn. I need more feet...

7. I am going to Knit Night, where I will laugh and show off my Madelinetosh Sport. Which I have yet to take pictures of. Sorry. It is the Mansfield Garden Party colorway, which I keep calling Mansfield Park because I have read too many Jane Austen novels. Or, rather, I have read Jane Austen's novels too many times.

8. I am getting a Blondie with Rachael afterwards.

9. I will undoubtedly do other happy things, but I haven't planned them yet. One of these involves Biaggi's, as I have Free Dessert and a gift card (Thanks, Amy!) that need using. Also I will rip apart my closet and put it back together again, while watching copious amounts of Poirot, because I've raided the library's Poirot supply for my entertainment.

10. I will, on Saturday, go to American English (Beatles cover group) at the Honeywell Center. This is because I was too young to go see the real thing. And also because it will be FUN!

11. I will go get Madelinetosh TML at my local yarn store in two weeks, as it is currently being dyed and will soon be dropped in the mail! After the dye sets. And after the yarn is all the way dry. And made into hanks. And labeled.

12. I will try not to think about the white hair I found and what that hair might mean. Instead I will think about this:

13. And plan a zoo trip.

*Pardon the exposure/white balance problem. It has been resolved.

**Wow, I need to work on being more fit...or maybe we'll restrict all pictures to my upper half...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday!

She is still older than me.

Since it is her birthday, how about a Laura's Mom story?

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, when Laura was a wee lass, she was making a cake with her mother...

Mom and I had decided to make a cake. This usually preceded the two of us eating the cake.

Usually, we iced it the second it came out of the oven, the icing slid off, and we ate it with or without the icing. Why not?

This time, Mom had just finished pouring the cake batter into the pan and sliding it into the oven.

I was a very good little girl. I didn't try to eat the cake batter. But when Mom used her finger to scoop up a large portion of the lovely yellow cake batter and held it out to me, I could not resist.

And then she shoved her cake-batter-covered finger straight up my nose and I spent the next week smelling vanilla, no matter how many times I blew my nose.

I love you Mom. Happy birthday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What I've Been Up To Lately

The stockinette will not end.

I had this ingenious idea: knit a summer top. In summer. And then, when the top was finished, I could wear it. Maybe even on my birthday!

I bought yarn. It was exciting. I cast on, I made half of a pretty yoke. Then I made the other half. Then I seamed them together at the shoulders, picked up stitches, started knitting, and began to make some real progress.

Eventually, I joined both the front and back of the sweater in the round. This was a huge deal, because it meant things would go so much faster--no purling, you see.

I was wrong.

Firstly, instead of just knitting every row all the time, Coral has a "false seam." This is accomplished by [here comes the knit-speak, skip ahead to * if you want it dumbed down] ssk, knitting until the center front stitch, m1r, knit center stitch, m1l, knit to the last two front stitches, and k2tog.

*The fake side seams are caused by knitting fancy, by making new stitches and getting rid of them, kind of an exercise in futility, since everything pretty much stays the same.

All that fanciness causes a V shape to emerge. But not on the back. So the length your sweater really is is the length the back is. The V is much longer, and eventually, you start to cast stitches off and, while doing so, you d-V the V, making the bottom a straight line.

I have finally reached that stage of the sweater.

But here's the thing. This is a really cool way to design a sweater--if it works.

And I'm not so confident in it's working.

I have this nightmare scenario in which the back of my sweater is way shorter than the front. Like someone would wear to show off some kind of elaborate lower-back tattoo. I have no tattoos. Also, I don't want any. So my sweater better be even.

However, knitting it without confidence in it's wearability makes me not so happy. With every stitch I think, "I'm going to have to rip all this back out..." And it makes me knit slowly...because the more I knit, the more I have to FROG.

I don't want to frog my knitting. Tearing out that many episodes of Veronica Mars would be a death-blow to my knitting confidence. Especially after the Extra Four Inches Incident and the What Is Up With This Collar Incident, each of which required my taking scissors to my own knitting, butchering it like some kind of sadistic serial killer.

Just as I was about to force myself to knit yet another row, a call went out through the Twitter-verse. Apparently, someone with my freakish deformity was needed!

Freakish deformity, you ask?

Narrow feet.

My feet are so skinny, I fall out of my shoes. Sideways. My feet are so skinny, I have to go DOWN a needle size (not up two) when I knit socks. My feet are so skinny, I have to get dress-shoes special ordered for me (this is why all my dressy shoes look like old lady orthopedics).

And my ankles are so skinny, it makes me look like I'm walking on stilts. It looks like they should shatter under the weight of my normal-sized body--Crunch! There go your ankles, Laura! See, they were supposed to grow WITH you, but no! Instead, they stayed the same size you were back in the fifth grade, before your growth spurt! Congratulations! Now you need us to rebuild them--it's a good thing you have insurance!

My weird ankles are the reason why my Walmart socks always fell down (unless I bought them from the little girls section). Maybe they are also the cause of my single-ness, the talking to myself in public thing, and even the falling down a lot thing. Heck--let's blame my lower half for all my problems. That will make life more fun for me, because I'll be off the hook. Can't understand algebra, Laura? It's okay! Your feet are cursed; it isn't your fault!

That was fun. But I know better. Bad fairies all the way. They cause tooth decay, so they're bound to be up to something in between dental visits.**

Long story short, (I know--too late, right?) I have begun test-knitting another pair of socks.

Finally, my freakishness pays off by awarding me the long-hoped-for excuse to not finish my "birthday sweater" before my birthday (not this Tuesday, but next Tuesday--and I like yarn, if you were wondering...Come on. I had to try). And it also gives me something to do with the Pagewood Farms yarn I picked up a couple months ago. It didn't like the other patterns I tried to use it with, but it's taken to this one like a dream.

Last night I watched Poirot and knit a full four inches during The Third Girl alone (you can watch it on PBS for the next couple of weeks if you missed out). Today I'm hoping to get to the heel turn, and I think I can make it if my insomnia doesn't decide to spontaneously vanish.

**I threw that in for those of you who, like me, enjoyed watching The Tenth Kingdom. If you missed it, that joke won't make sense and will instead make me seem like a tree-worshiping new-ager. I hug trees. But I don't worship them. And you'd hug them too if they kept you from falling face-first into the river.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Going Cold Turkey

I am addicted to something.

And no, I'm not talking about sweet tea. This is something new.

Ravelry is having a Search Party. The dumbed-down explaination? Because Ravelry is a huge pattern reference tool as well as a community for knitters and crocheters, it needs accurate tags on patterns so that when you search "cable" and "pullover" you end up with not just the cabled pullovers that have been tagged with those two words but with all the cabled pullovers on Ravelry. In other words, you get to see all of your choices, not just a handful of possibilities.

In order to make an accurate pattern search possible, Ravelry needs to go through every pattern they have entered now. That's a lot of work. So they set up the "Search Party" so that knitters and crocheters on Ravelry can use their widget to look over all the patterns they have in their library, adding in the missing information. And then they offered us really cool prizes, prizes every knitter wants.

Now, one might imagine that these amazing prizes are why I became obsessed with the Search Party. That would be wrong. Sure, I want to win one, but that isn't why I kept searching.

It is fun. Really fun.

You are given a checklist that you can add to as you run out of patterns. Once you begin working on the list, a bar appears along the side and across the top of your window, allowing you to work. Let's look at our above example, shall we? First, you pick a category for the pattern, such as Clothing > Sweater > Pullover, meaning the pattern is for a pullover. You can also select home decor items, socks (mid calf, ankle, knee-high, etc) or any one of many other options.

Then you're taken to the attributes page. There, you can pick options that best describe your pattern. Take our pullover. We'll just say we're knitting an ordinary sweater, crew neck, set-in sleeves, unisex, with ribbing at the cuffs and cables everywhere. You read through the attributes, selecting each tag that applies to the pattern. You also tell Ravelry how the pattern is presented, with charts, written, etc.

I know it doesn't sound like it, but this is immensely fun. Also, it is one of those projects that doesn't have a clear "end" or even a stopping point. After each pattern you review and save, you are taken directly to the next pattern on your checklist (unless you run out of patterns on your checklist).

The first night, I stayed up until three in the morning working on this. The next night? Two. The night after that, I was up until midnight, but that was only due to my running out of patterns I could review.

I'd run out already once. That was on Saturday. I needed a fix so badly; I logged into Ravelry as my mother so that I could review her patterns too, since I knew she wouldn't do it. She only had three, though. Three measly patterns to review. That's what happens when you don't queue things, Mom.

Sunday, I was itching for more reviewing.

I think this is the same reason I work in a library. I like to organize things, I like to find the "perfect" book, much as I enjoy finding the "perfect" pattern. And to find the pattern you want, you have to be able to search for it. And searching for it means finishing the search party. Plus, I don't trust some of Ravelry's other knitters to know how to tag things effectively, so I feel the need to work doubly hard to do a good job the first time and to take on more work, because then I know it's done right.

Steaming plateful of Crazy, served up just for you, Blog. That's the kind of service I offer. Try to find a better restaurant anywhere.

Back to Sunday. I had several hours before Poirot came on Mystery (though that didn't so much matter since my PBS affiliate chose to allow their signal to fail Sunday night). Those hours had to be spent doing something, so I brought up my Ravelry library, then I began to add in books, magazines, and pamphlets we have on our bookshelf. Some of them were my grandmothers, and therefore are very old and crumbly. But the patterns are sound.

This gave me more patterns to play with (not as many as I'd hoped, but still). I finished reviewing those right before Poirot was supposed to come on the air (but didn't). I suppose it was good that I didn't get hundreds of new patterns, but it was kind of sad. But on the up side, I finally have my library updated. There are 36 books, 46 magazines, 16 booklets, and 80 PDF files in there. And those are just the books, pamphlets, and magazines that were on Ravelry. I had more.

Why do we have to stop? I could do all the patterns, Ravelry. I will buy the books. All of them. Or interlibrary loan them, so I can help. I want to help. Help more. I don't even really need sleep, not at all. I could keep going after the party is over, too, if you want. It's fun. And if you want to give me Wollmeise, go for it. But I don't need it. I'll just make coffee as my present. Coffee is good enough for me.

Still, I think the Ravelry Search Party had better end soon. Just like I think the official "end" to the test knitting should come, too. This much knitwear obsession is starting to leak into other parts of my life. Yesterday, I put down sock #2 in order to knit as much stockinette as was humanly possible on Coral, because I wanted it done, right? I only wanted to finish the second skein, after all. That wasn't too much to ask, was it? In the end, I knitted maybe four inches yesterday. Four is good, but not great. It was all those patterns that did it.

All this stuff made me realize that I have what could be described as an addictive personality. This might be why I eat often, alone, and for comfort. I'm lucky I love control so much, if I hated it, or even hated responsibility, I would be in real trouble. Instead, I just drink too much sweet tea, watch too many Veronica Mars episodes (now, the series I'm hooked on changes by the month), and knit well into the morning hours, throwing sleep away in lieu of knitting accomplishment.

The search officially ends on the 18th. It needs to end faster. I am calling on all knitters and crocheters who use Ravelry: go online. Join the Search Party. Review patterns. Get this thing done before I start checking knitting books out of the library in batches, hoping to finish this project single-handedly. I need your help. I'm counting on you.

Do your part to keep Laura off this very addictive habit!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tosh Merino Light and the Three Hours I'll Never Get Back

Look everyone! It's a blog Laura wrote back on June 26th and forgot to post! It just sat there all lonely in draft form for all this time. Let's read it, shall we?

A few weeks ago, Rachael came to knit night with a bag of yarn. Upon setting down her knitting, she pulled out two hanks of yarn and handed them to me.

I was immediately paralyzed by their beauty. Struck speechless, I gazed at them longingly until the other knitters around me forced me to relinquish my--Rachael's--Precious(es).

One was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, in this color (I think).

The other was Three Irish Girls. Rachael had bought that after being asked to test-knit a sweater. But she was concerned that the sweater would need to be finished before the yarn would arrive, so she made other yarn arrangements. This was what she sent me (I found the exact quote) via Ravelry mail:

Anyway, in the “probably not a possibility because it would take to long to arrive” category, we have the Three Irish Girls, which I may buy anyway because it’s too stinking lovely. http://www.threeirishgirls.com/catalog.php?item=231

I had followed the link, oohed and ahhed over The Pretty, then promptly forgotten my examination of it.

When Rachael handed it to me, I fell in love with the sheer perfection. I vowed to buy Three Irish Girls yarn, because it was so perfect.

Then she told me she'd use her Powers for Good to find me Tosh Merino Light on Etsy, so I became hugely distracted.

A mere day later, she'd found me TML, and it was coming. Then it came, and we terrified the Muggles (non-knitters) by winding yarn into center-pull little yarn cakes at the coffee shop, and I tried to photograph them but failed due to a missing SD card. And it would have made such a funny picture.

That night, I went home and planned to wind all four hanks of my TML into balls. It didn't work out that way.

This is what three hours looks like:

Yeah. I said three.

There were tangles, knots, snarls, and Problems. But I ended the night with a lovely yarn cake and a new understanding of Life. One becomes philosophical after two hours of winding the same hank of yarn. After three, sharp objects should be removed from the area.

Luckily, Paul spent some of the time I was winding on YouTube, and he found me some absurd videos to make my mood...lighter.


Here is the first:

I don't even know what to say about that. Except that he has a fly on his forehead, and should have swatted it away prior to filming...clearly they weren't too worried about doing more than one take while filming that movie. Trolls 2, if you were wondering. Because Trolls 1 wasn't bad enough.

Next up was this:

This was much funnier at 2:00 a.m.

And this:

This is listed on YouTube as both the "Worst Movie Fight Scene Ever" and "Best Fight Scene Ever." It is the worst. I will warn you, only watch the first half. When the woman walks in to fight with her arm in a sling, it becomes very gross. Very. Gross. The words "Catastrophic Blindness" come to mind, as does the phrase, "It's all fun and games until somebody loses both eyes."

I'm making you link over to the clip so you don't accidentally watch the whole thing. Don't do it. Stop when Sling Girl walks in.

And then we saw this, which is famous for being the worst TV fight scene ever.

When Paul and I spend time together, we watch horrible fight scenes, soccer accidents, and stupid anime moments, like this one.


Okay. Done with the clips. After watching these, Paul went to sleep, and I couldn't because there was yarn everywhere.

The next day, I did the rest of the winding, and it took a grand total of 30 minutes for the other three hanks.

This is what ten minutes looks like:

And here are more gratuitous shots of my yarn, TML in the Calligraphy colorway.

All the pretty yarn made me want more pretty yarn. But instead of buying the Three Irish Girls yarn, I waited. I didn't need two sweaters-worth of fantastic beautiful awesome yarn, did I? No. I could do without.

But then I found myself driving home with the pattern book I'd wanted AND the yarn to knit the tank top I'd wanted to knit from it. This was due to yarn fumes.

I knitted away on the tank top, certain now more than ever that I didn't need MORE yarn. I had plenty.

But then I thought about the Three Irish Girls. Then I walked through a yarn store and saw myself walking out with even more yarn. I fled the store. I decided in that moment that the Wise Choice would be to get the yarn I was craving, so I wouldn't keep buying Substitute Yarn.

I went online, found the website, looked at colorways. I was so happy. I asked Rachael what weight she'd gotten. I planned on the same weight, you see.

Filled with glee, I scrolled through the color choices. I looked at pictures on Ravelry, I had a happy time. It was wonderful. Then I picked.

The exact same colorway Rachael had chosen.

Of course, this is after the Malabrigo Lace incident and the We're Knitting the Same Pattern Incidents 1, 2, and...I'm pretty sure we're up to 3 now? Maybe. The Malabrigo Lace Incident could also be referred to as the Same Sweater Incident, except that neither of us has even started knitting the geodesic cardigan, and therefore we don't have same-sweaters quite yet.

I have come to a conclusion. Actually, several.

1. This freakish tendency has nothing to do with either of us intentionally going out and saying, "I want my sweater to be just like so-and-so's" and everything to do with the fact that, for two very different people, Rachael and I like a great deal of the same things. Like books. And yarn. And styles of clothing. This is a good thing, because we always have someone to tell us what is the best new whatsit and where we can find it. It has to do with us being Awesome People with Really Good Taste.

2. If, by chance, Rachael and I ever are divided by time, we can rest easy, knowing that when we retire, all we'll need to do is look across the retirement home's common room and we'll see that we've each chosen the same place to spend our sunset years, independently. It's bound to happen. And whatever retirement home it is, it will be Yarn Adjacent.