Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tuesday is for HOPE

Go Obama! It's 10:30, and I'm about ready to pass out. I got home early so Spanky could go vote (I voted this morning!), we got our hot water back FINALLY. I can take a shower in our own apartment tomorrow! We got pizza and more honey for hot tea, and came home. I practiced, and then did some work while we watched the presidential results roll in.

I am finally down to blogging on the list of things to do. Again, sorry no pictures. I think I should just keep going so that I make it a whole week. I'll figure out the style issues as we go along. Alright? ALRIGHT.

So, Tuesday, I think I said would be about upcoming projects. This bit of the process is the exciting part. I've just finished a major 450 yard lace shawlette for one of my authors, and have a scarf for one of my friends (a christmas present) half done. I usually keep two projects on the go, so I have room for a more major project to replace the shawl. This would be the thing I keep at home for working on while watching TV, not what I would take with me to work or travel.

When my mother was ill earlier this year, I was with her in the hospital in Gainesville, FL, and bought myself four balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace yarn in the Fuchsia color to make myself feel better (she's ok--it was a routine type of surgery, but it was very painful for her, and I was alone..). I was not thinking clearly, but I knew I wanted to make a garment out of it, not a shawl or some sort of lace wrap. Each skein has over 400 yards and it is SOFT. I've been waiting to use it, and now, I think the time is here! My needles are out, and the first yarn ball is sitting on my side of the couch just waiting for me to cast on.  I have decided to make the scoop neck top from the Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace pattern booklet that I bought with the yarn. I initially bought the book for one of the other sweaters, but I think this one will actually look better on my body, and I can wear it with all the black shift dresses I have for work in place of a blazer.

So that is the only thing I've got waiting in the wings, although when I finish John's scarf, I am going to cast myself on a pair of socks with some Lion Brand self-striping fun sock yarn I got when my mom was visiting over the summer. She wanted to see the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, so we went, but I was the one who ended up buying yarn. But I'm not casting on until I finish the scarf. That will be my replacement easy project. So there you go. I keep to two projects so that I don't go crazy--one hard one, and one easy one. I'm just going to keep plowing through them, using up the yarn I have been socking away for some reason and trying to enjoy knitting for myself for a change. I haven't started anything yet, so it's all theoretical now. But let me tell you, I don't know how long I can go before I cast on this Rialto. It's some soft stuff!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monday is for drumming

So, post-hurricane life has been kind of crappy, I can't lie. Spanky was violently ill during the storm, and is still moderately sick, including some sort of icky ear infection that she's just now, a week into this mess, getting treated for. I caught her sickness on Friday, and was laid out all weekend through today. I'm just going to be venturing back to Manhattan tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.

My whole neighborhood was flood-ravaged, and we're all still digging out. My apartment is over a garage, which completely flooded, and consequently, we have no hot water. The heat is out too, but the landlords brought us some space heaters, so we're not freezing. We just can't shower unless you want a bracing, freezing cold one, which is unpleasant, especially when you're sick. They have been letting us go upstairs and use their shower (the landlords conveniently live upstairs), but it's still not a great situation. Plus, they're still ripping out the garage drywall and all that stuff that happens when you get inundated with six feet of water. There is nothing that puts you off owning property like a natural disaster, you know?

Anyway, I've been thinking about starting to write again. I have just been so insanely busy and/or exhausted this year that every spare moment is spent doing something a bit more urgent, or just staring vacantly into space, and I just never get around to blogging. But I am going to try to break it up a bit so that I have defined days for everything. I've tried this before with no success, but let's just see, shall we?

Monday, my friends, is for drumming. I take my lessons on Fridays, and each time, my teacher, David, gives me a little history lesson to research. Right now, we're studying different types of drums. This week's drum manufacturer is Slingerland Drum Company. Boy, Wikipedia makes research so easy, doesn't it? Cooper's Vintage Drums has another interesting history of the company, complete with tons of pictures.

Slingerland is a company I've always thought seemed really cool. Their Radio King drums were endorsed by Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, two of the best drummers to ever live, and the company just seems so awesomely retro--I mean, Radio King drums. Sounds like something that should be backing up a rockabilly band, right? David says that Slingerland drums are very collectible as well, especially their "Rolling Bomber" drums, manufactured during WWII, when metal was at a premium, so the company used wood in place of metal for the rims and lugs and so forth. Here is another page that shows a variety of different Slingerland snares as well as the Slingerland logo and the shields affixed to the drums through the years. It's amazing that a drum from 1929 could still be playing great now. I guess that's not that incredible, considering there are violins that are hundreds of years old still being used regularly, but I think it's pretty impressive considering the wear drums get.

The Slingerland company started in Chicago, which seems like the place a lot of drum companies started, for some reason. I guess Chicago was a big music town back in the mid-20th c. Is it still? I'm not very familiar with bands and/or styles originating in Chicago nowadays. Just blues, and that's not new. If anyone can enlighten me, please do. I'm from the South, so I'm much more familiar with that area as a music-producing region.

Anyway, I love how Wikipedia says that one of the problems with Slingerland drums is that there were no consistent manufacturing processes, so if you have a set from 1963, and you lose a lug, you might not be able to replace it with one from even the next year, because they would just use up the stock of the previous year they had at the same time as introducing new styles, so even though a part might have been officially discontinued, like any small business, they wanted to use up what they had so they didn't have to write it off. Makes it harder for folks now, but it's also adorably quirky and practical instead of being corporate.

Slingerland drums even have their own Facebook page, where you can see lots of great pictures of the sets people have kept and/or found.

Sadly, the brand has basically been discontinued. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company had a few different owners, and now the brand is owned by Gibson, who tried to promote it by requiring music stores to order a set of Slingerlands when they bought guitars for their store, and that didn't actually go over very well, so I guess Gibson's pretty much stopped making them. I don't know if they'll ever really come back, but I guess that just means that the existing Slingerlands will be that much more special.

Tuesdays we'll be back to knitting. I'm going to do upcoming projects on Tuesdays. Wednesdays will be for progress on what's on the needles. Thursday I'm going to do some sort of review--either a movie review or TV or something like that. A show of some kind. And then Fridays will be for FOs. I suppose that if I don't have one of those things on that particular day, I'll just skip it. Plus, all the posts won't be this long.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

the next 40 years

Sorry about the dark picture. Spanky took it, and she was getting a bit irritated by my attempts to take my own picture, so she just grabbed the camera and snapped this one off. But that's ok. Basically, just wanted a shot to show that I'm still alive. So a lot's happened:

1. I turned 40. Spanky threw me this awesome surprise party, and invited all my various groups of friends. I got really drunk, but I like to think that's the last time. I mean, what could possibly top that?  My birthday was at the end of April, and I spent the first few months of the year stressing out about it big time. I feel older physically, and sometimes mentally, when I talk to my assistant, for example, but I don't feel old, like, say, my parents. So it's been an adjustment to start thinking of myself as no longer in the 25-40 age group, but start thinking about what will be possible in the next phase of life. Crazy.

2. I cut off all my hair. I did that a couple of weeks before my birthday. I'm really enjoying it, but the plan is to let it grow in over the winter. I don't like looking this boyish all the time. I think it does suit me though, sadly.

3. I got a new tattoo. I did that a couple weeks after my birthday. It stayed in black outline for over a month while I traveled and worked, and then I just added the color about a week or so ago. Spanky's not a huge fan of the color. She liked it better just black. I don't know quite how I feel about it yet. I liked it black too, but I do love all the detail that you can see now that it's colored in.
look at that arm! thanks to the drumming...

It's a bookshelf, in case you couldn't tell. It goes all the way around, and the books are all different sizes and colors. It looked much more punk rock in black, but the color softened everything. Whatever. In a way, when you get a tattoo, you have to just surrender your idea of what should happen and just embrace it the way it turned out, because it's not going anywhere.

4. I did a bunch of travel. At the end of May, I spent a few days in San Francisco at a conference, then flew up to Portland, OR, to spend some time with my brother. Three days after I got back, I had to go to another conference, of Native American Studies, at Mohegan Sun up in Connecticut. Casinos kind of suck. I'm sorry if you gamble and love them, but the smoke and the noise and the lights were really antithetical to the seriousness of the scholarship of the conference.

So, now I'm back, and I think everything's kind of stabilized. I feel better about things, and am starting to get back to normal. It's a hard thing to verbalize, what was happening to me, but it was almost like I didn't recognize myself anymore. I wonder if that's what mid-life crises are like. Because that's what it felt like. So, anyway, I'm going to try to post more often. I don't know how that's going to go, but there are a few things I've been thinking about for a while. I want to do a drummer profile once a week. I want to obviously start talking more about my knitting, and since I'm just about to start a bigger lace project, I think this will all work out just fine.

I'm looking forward to what the next forty years will bring! 

Friday, March 09, 2012

dark days of the soul

So.... I haven't been coping very well the last few months. Or. Perhaps I've been coping, but that has meant just getting by, keeping up with my responsibilities without stumbling, but not taking much joy in anything, not wanting to take the extra time to reflect.

rebecca's cowl 2

baseball sweater 3

The last months of the year last year, I was traveling for work, worrying about my mother, worrying about my job targets, worrying about Spanky, who was about to start a freelance job that she didn't want to do. So it was making her bitter and sad, which made me worried and sad and nervous.

kippah 4

Then, the new year started with me throwing up non stop, and then having a really hard conference experience where I got sick, at the conference, for the first time in my ten years of doing this job. WTF, world.


My mom had to have another surgery, and I spent a week taking care of her down in Florida. It wasn't fun. I love my mom, but she wasn't feeling well, and I really did have to take care of her, for a week, by myself, with no help. I'm not very good with that sort of thing. It's why I don't have kids. I am not a nurturer, and I'm certainly not selfless. But I did my best, and she's feeling better now, and soon will be healed good as new. But Spanky's still working, and now SHE's sick. I missed her birthday, because I was down in FL at my mom's, we had a fight on our anniversary, and nothing seems to be going right. It's really all I can do to just keep things together.

side slouch

I realize that I'm throwing a very first-world pity party for myself right now, and that's really why I haven't been updating.

pogona 3

I have gradually stopped everything that I enjoy doing, except knitting. It takes me forever to read anything anymore, I haven't felt like practicing the drums, and even though Spanky's working nights, and I have the freedom to watch movie after movie that she would hate, I have been so tired myself that I haven't done half of what I thought I would with the extra time. In fact, I just have more chores to do around the house, since she's not here to share them with me. Oh, poor me. I know, I know, it's sickening.

fancy cowl 2 Amy's warm cowl 3

Not everything's been bad. Spanky and I have been able to spend time here and there together, and work seems to be going well. But I do feel like I'm spending more time at work, and less time on the things that make me happy. I just have no extra time! I don't understand how to make more. I know they say you make time for the things that you really want to do, but I have very little energy anymore, and I just want a week to sleep.

shawl scarf

Plus, I'm turning 40. And you know what? I don't feel old. I just feel tired. Like nothing is worth the effort anymore. I think this year is going to be a very uncomfortable one for me. There is going to be some fall out, and it's not going to be pretty. Right now, I feel the pressure building. Maybe the spring will signal the release of some tension.

bear #1

But maybe I'll come out on the other side with a better appreciation for what I do have--the relationship with my family, for example. Sure, I didn't get to use that week of vacation to go relax at a spa, but I was there with my mom, and able to help out when she really needed me. I can't pay her back for all the time and effort she put into raising me, but I can do that much. And hopefully, when Spanky wakes up from the nightmare that she's living right now, she'll look around and realize that I kept the house together while she was working, and that everything is going to be ok. And maybe, I'll find enough hours in the day to do some yoga, practice my drums, cook dinners that aren't made up of breakfast cereal or Subway, and still be able to relax and watch movies and knit.

bear #2 head shot

I can try, right?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

clean slate

Well, I could pretend that I was traveling all summer and couldn't update. Or, I could say that I was working my ass off at work, and was so tired I couldn't update. That's closer to the truth, but the truth of it is that I hit a low point this summer where I just couldn't make myself do anything. I was just barely getting through the days, and the way I did it was to just ignore everything. I know there are a lot of people out there out of work, and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I have the money coming in, but sometimes, I think I just can't do this anymore, and that nothing is worse than having to go back in to work each and every Monday morning. I took a few days off around Labor Day, and I think that was what has helped me get a grip. I am a bit better now, and things are becoming a bit clearer. At least I have a bit of hope now. We'll see what happens, but anyway, I'm back!

I've done a few projects over the summer. I participated in a Stash and Burn knitalong to finish a sweater made of stash yarn. In my case, I'd already started a Girl Friday sweater, so I just concentrated on finishing it. Tada!

It only took four skeins of Shepherd's Wool, so I used one of the remaining two that I had to make a hat:
ashley hat 2

I'm going to use the last skein to make matching fingerless mitts. Probably toasty. Easy, plain ones to counteract the frenetic hat. Also those kind of plain mitts are good to put over plain black gloves when it gets really cold. The thin kind of gloves you get at H&M or Target.

I also made a teddy bear for my mom's birthday back in June:

He's kind of wonky, but he's only my first try, and I learned a lot. I got the pattern from The Knitted Teddy Bear, so I have lots more to try. My mom loved him though. His sweater is made out of leftover sock yarn, and I made him from some Blue Sky Alpaca 100% alpaca I got from a trade years ago. I didn't think I was ever going to use it for anything, but look, it made a pretty decent bear!

Anyway, I've done about a million other things, but it's all gone now, so why don't we just call this a clean slate, and move into the fall, with our heads high, and hearts open?

Next up:
1. finishing spiral socks from hell
2. remaining THIRD knee sock (tell you later)
3. those toasty mitts
4. baby sweater for my cousin's pregnant wife (boy)
5. baby sweater for my pregnant co-worker (girl)
6. starting my niece's one-shoulder sweater
7. next pair of socks from my sock yarn knit down...

I think that's enough, don't you? It's good to be back!

Friday, June 03, 2011

!Women Art Revolution

Today after work, I went to see the documentary !Women Art Revolution at the IFC Center. This is a really amazing piece of history, which is how I ended up there, really. From the postcard I picked up at the theater: "For more than 40 years, filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has collected a plethora of interviews with her contemporaries--and shaped them into an intimate portrayal of their fight to break down barriers facing women both in the art world and society at large." Not only are these interviews in the film, but Lynn is putting them all online. I can't wait to check it out! (It's at the Standford University Libraries collection in a publicly accessible online archive...)

I've mentioned before that I work for an academic publisher, and at the end of the summer, we are publishing a book on Judy Chicago and the Feminist Art Program at CSU Fresno, which was the first program of its kind in the country, and produced Womanhouse, among other things. The author of that book is another amazing woman, who I'm both completely exasperated by (as her editor) and inspired by (as a younger woman looking for feminist role models). Anyway, this author is completely devoted to the book she's just put together, and when she found out the movie was screening at the IFC center, she emailed me and my assistant, and the marketing manager, and asked if we could possibly put some flyers at the theater. I was just going to make the marketing person do it, but then I started reading about the film. Spanky was working, so I thought, well, I'll just go by myself. No one else wanted to go.

Y'all, this film made me think so much that my freaking head hurts. I am a feminist. I say that with pride and defiance, and I will always stand up for women's rights. I don't know much about art, but I do know a bit about the women's movement in the 1970s. So it was amazing to see those two things come together. Those artists did some wacky, out-there things. A lot of it was performance based, because as Judy Chicago said in the film, it was easier for her students to get to the real truth and heavy themes of their art through performance rather than through traditional art media. And they interviewed a couple of young woman artists coming up today who had no idea about the legacy of feminist art that came before them, and I think it was kind of a shock to some of them to realize they were re-treading where they thought they were blazing trails. But you can so clearly trace what happened at the Feminist Art Program up through the 80s and into today. There are many more successful woman artists today than there were, and there are certainly women teaching in university art departments as well as curating at the galleries and museums of major metropolitan areas. But not in the same numbers as men. And I'm sure the woman artists are still hearing the same bullshit as their sisters did thirty years ago.

But the thing that struck me the most was the sense of community that these women from the 1970s had with each other. They worked together to transform an abandoned house into Womanhouse, and they worked together to open A.I.R., and perhaps when the people in the audience asked "Where did all that energy go? What happened?" that is what the answer is... There is not the same sort of feminist collectivization that there was back then. Hell, there is not as much political activism in many groups at all anymore, which is ironic, when we live in an age with so much instantaneous communication. These women did it all manually, with their own journals that they cut and pasted together, flyers advertising shows, consciousness-raising groups, and political activism like the Guerrilla Girls. People don't work together anymore. There's not the sense of trust that there used to be. I think this happened sometime during the ME ME ME 1980s, but the focus stopped being the collective and became the individual.

Anyway, I'd welcome some discussion about what it means to be a feminist nowadays, and collective vs. individual action, and visibility for female artists, and so forth. I'm not an artist myself, but I do enjoy art, and when I saw The Dinner Party for myself, it was one of those transformative, mind-blowing moments. I recommend a trip to the Brooklyn Museum to see it (it's the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art there) for anyone traveling to NYC for other reasons. If you're going to Brooklyn, you really should just skip Williamsburg, and go to the Brooklyn Museum (and Brooklyn General, but that's another post!)

I want to go back and see the film again. This weekend, some of the women interviewed in the film will be speaking afterwards as well, including Faith Ringgold and a couple of Guerrilla Girls. Spanky says she'll go with me on Sunday (for B. Ruby Rich who was one of my favorite people from the film!). If you're in NYC and you identify as a feminist, you should definitely go see this film. And if you're not in NYC, I hope you try to see it if it comes to your town. Whether you're into art or not, it's a piece of feminist history. I'm so glad that I got a chance to see it. And to think, I could have stayed at work late, or come home and watched some stupid tv.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig

I'm still around. We have a house guest crashing on our aerobed right now, which has thrown all our routines and plans into a muddle. He's just moved to JC from Dallas, and had to start his job before his apartment was available on June 1. And he's a great guy, but it's hard having a third person taking up space. We only have two rooms in our house! But that's ok. I'm glad we are here to support him while he needs us. It's just meant that I haven't had a whole lot of time to knit or work, or drum...

I'm still working on my Girl Friday sweater. I have the back done, and am halfway up one side of the front, but I've really been concentrating on finishing at least one of my May socks (spiral boot socks) before the end of the month. I don't think there was any way I could have gotten the whole pair of knee socks done in a month. Each one is over 12" long before you even get to the heel! But I've turned the heel on the first one now, and I'm pretty sure I can finish them by Wednesday. I'm already falling behind in my sock plan. But that's ok! I'm still using yarn from my stash, and I'm still working on projects that have been in my queue forever. So it's all good. Eventually I'll have tons of new socks, and will have gotten through a whole bag of sock yarn. Some day... Just gotta keep my eyes on the prize, as they say. I can't wait until these socks are done though, as my boots are all brown, and the socks are brown, and I think it's gonna look way rad.

In the meantime, I'm reviewing another one of my new knitting books. I got this one on my recent trip to Dallas. There is a great bookstore chain in Texas called Half Price Books, and whenever I find myself near one, I have to go. Well this is the first time I've been in there since I started knitting, so I did check out the knitting books. There were quite a few, but mostly the duds, or the one-trick ponies (Pretty in Punk, I'm looking at you), but I did manage to find two books I wanted. The other one I'll talk about next time. Today's find is Closely Knit: Handmade Gifts for the Ones you Love by Hannah Fettig.

I really love the cover of this book. It's got a girl's arm reaching up to touch the shoulder of a guy standing behind her. She's wearing a cardigan from the book, and he's wearing a knit vest over a dress shirt. I like the fonts they used for the title, etc., and the whole package is just very inviting. Anyway, I'd looked at this book several times in the bookstore before, just to see if I wanted to order it from Amazon or not, and I never did. I think it was because it just wasn't a very big book, and I was not sure I'd ever make anything from it. But finding it at half price, now there's a different story! I think it was totally worth what I paid for it, and I do think that I will make a few of the projects.

A lot of the accessories are pretty basic. But I think that fits what the theme of the book is. The book is a collection of stuff that is supposed to be gifts for loved ones, and if you're anything like me, you're probably knitting these gifts at the last second, so you want something that looks good but is easy to make. Having said that, there are a few sweaters too, in case you need to make something more involved for someone. I probably wouldn't do that for anyone but my mom, but I can still use the sweater patterns to make stuff for me. There's a plain pullover that Spanky quite likes too.

The book is divided into sections depending on who you are thinking of: mothers, daughters, sisters, men, babies, and friends. That's kind of convenient, and I'm sure it helped her organize her thoughts and designs, but in truth, a lot of the patterns cross categories too, so don't get hung up on the book's categorization. There are 31 patterns--each section has about 5 or 6.

Here are my favorites:

1. pin cushionBird's Nest Pin Cushion
I just think this is adorable, and I love the addition of the fake bird. This is in the "Mom" section of the book, and my mom, who sews and quilts, would indeed love it. I don't like how the stuffing shows through the eggs, but I think a tighter knitter could get around that problem (or if a different yarn was used). Also, what a great way of using up scraps of sock yarn! You could make a bunch of different kinds of eggs, and gift the nest with some cute fancy pins.

2. scarfCashmere Ruffles Scarf
This is a gorgeous scarf. Also in the "Mom" section, but I think this would be a great holiday gift for a co-worker. Maybe not in cashmere, but perhaps an alpaca blend? I want one too, in the same red they've shown in the picture.

3. knee socksVintage Knee Socks
After knitting my current knee socks, I'm not going to be too eager to embark on another pair, but this is a great pattern to remember in case I want to do a second set. I especially like how the pattern stops at the ankle, so that the foot will go much faster. This is in the "Daughter" section, and yes, it's quite young, but I'd wear these, and I might have made some for my sister, if she didn't live in Florida. She barely wears shoes let alone knee socks...

4. lace pulloverCap-Sleeved Eyelet Top
This is also in the "Daughter" section, but I want to make it for me, me, me! I'll probably lengthen it a bit, but other than that, I just love it.

5. plain pulloverSimple Sweater
This pullover can be done from a variety of patterns out there. I don't know that it was necessary for this to be included. How boring! But yet, Spanky only likes sweaters like this. She doesn't ever want me to do cables or raglans, or anything colorful, so... I can always use a simple pullover pattern, even if I really could just use the Ann Budd sweater book to do the same thing.

6. baby pantsHeart-Patch Pants
Obviously from the "Baby" section, I just love these to death. I've only made one pair of pants for a baby, which I hated making but turned out really cute. So I think if I make these, the baby's got to be one I really care about. But they're so cute!

There are a few more basic patterns in there that I think are nice, but eh. I'm probably not going to be doing a garter stitch blanket or some embroidered socks any time soon. There are plain hats, plain mittens, plain socks, that sort of thing. The most interesting part of the book was the baby part. I like a few of the baby sweaters, and I can see myself turning to this if I am looking for something interesting to knit for some co-worker's child. But I think for the ten bucks I spent, this was a good investment. There's enough here to make it worth it. If you're a really advanced knitter though, you might take a look through it at a library or B&N first, because you can find a lot of basic patterns like these on Ravelry for free, or in many, many other knitting books. If you want a handy one-stop shop though, with a few basics in every category, with a few interesting twists, then this is a good thing to invest in. I do feel like it's a good addition to my knitting library!

Be back when I have one completed knee sock! Ack!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sunday, up early.

Well, it's not early anymore, but I've got the second of three loads of laundry in, and in ten minutes, I'll go down and switch out the first and second in the dryer. Need to vacuum, finish reading a chapter of a late, late, LATE manuscript, practice the drums, and perhaps later, knit a bit while watching a movie. I've just found another list I want to try to run down--50 essential Gay & Lesbian Films, which I got out of an older OUT magazine. My brother got me a subscription last year for Christmas, maybe, because he was broke, and, well... I don't know. It's mostly a glossy male take on being gay. Except sometimes they profile cool people (Hunx and his Punx) or this, a run-down of the 50 most essential gay films. I can't wait to start running this down.

I know what you're thinking... Whatever happened to the books you were reading? Honey, let me tell you, that Alice Munro short story collection was a) very hard to find, and b) when I finally tracked down a UK copy at a tiny used book store in the East Village, it was HUGE. Needless to say, it's propping up my alarm clock on my bedside table. Sigh. I really should have just bought it on the Kindle. I'm stymied. But I'll get back to it! In the meantime, I have films to see...

Anyway, as a way to make it up to you, I have a review of sorts. Knitting books have been finding their way into this house in a continuous stream all year, and I've basically ignored them all. Well, no more! I want to put them away, so that means going through them and evaluating...

The first one is a stranger to no one reading this, I'm sure: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. This book is obviously a treasure trove of patterns for sock yarn--101 patterns, to be precise. The patterns range from the ridiculously hideous to really awesome, and one of the best things I like about it is that there are patterns for little bits of sock yarn as well as the whole skein. Even when I finally, sometime this side of never, get to the last full skein of sock yarn in my stash, I will still have about 50 partials waiting for me to do something with them. And now I have a resource! (besides Ravelry, of course...)

Here are a few of my favorites--have to say, the shawl section was the best one over all, but there were some good socks and some passable gloves and mittens, although most of them weren't the most creative in my opinion. They should have done more doll clothes--that is such a great idea for sock yarn. My nieces each have those American Girl dolls, and I'm always thinking I should make stuff for them. Now I can!

dog sweater raven crochet panel glasses case blocks baby kimono baby cardi shawl hot girl in a collar lettuce scarf sideways socks footies lacy gloves handwarmers

The pics go from the back of the book to the front. Love that girl's octopus tattoo.

Also, I've finished (finally) my March socks. Except now I'm calling them my March/April socks.

March/April socks

Pattern: Diagonal Rib Socks by Pam Allen. I think I got this pattern from Knitting Daily or from the IK website or something. I've had it a long time. I thought this would be a good pattern for Spanky socks, but she didn't like these when they were done.

sideways ribbing

I think it was the patterning that she objected to. Apparently she really does only like plain socks, although she did say she likes the stripy ones. Anyway, the pattern was really easy to follow, and I just basically did what it said. I don't think I made any actual changes apart from just not knitting the cuffs as long as they said (7"). I was afraid that I'd run out of sock yarn, since the balls seemed to be a bit on the small side. I do have a small ball of each skein left, so I guess I could have made them longer, but better safe than sorry, since this wasn't the called for yarn.

Yarn: Strapaz, by Steinbach Wolle

I got this yarn at The Yarn Connection, a now defunct LYS that was near my office. I complained about it all the time while it was open--it was tiny, cranky ladies worked there, and there was a lack of interesting stock, but man, I sure do miss it now that it closed. This yarn is not my favorite. It's not that soft, and the color is this weird green/gray. I put a piece of white paper underneath the socks in an attempt to get a better shot of the color:

March/April sock

When I showed them to Spanky, that's what she said, 'They're green...' I guess what she meant is that she'd like them better if they were gray or black. Oh well. I don't know why I picked this color. My friend Constance uses this yarn all the time for socks, but she always picks baby pink or blue (she's into ballet, so I guess those are ballet colors...). Mine are much harsher/darker.

Needle: US size 2 dpns. I did mine on 4 dpns rather than 3, as the pattern states. I just don't like using 3 if I can help it. I only did when I got down to the foot, and it went a bit faster with all the patterning on one needle. Otherwise, I prefer four needles (5 total with the working needle).

The finished, blocked socks are thick and warm, but softer than they were pre-blocking. I'm looking forward to wearing them next year with clogs. I bet they're going to be great additions to my wardrobe.

Next up, knee socks! YIKES.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's my birthday!

So I'm going to celebrate by finally unloading FO #11:


Pattern: Citron
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, 1 skein, almost all of it used.
Needles: US 6 straights

Notes: I found this tedious to knit, and really annoying. I don't know why, exactly, as it is just stockinette, but I just didn't enjoy the knitting of this project at all. I initially started it when I did as a break from knitting socks, but still being able to use some sock yarn up.


I took it with me to the UK, and had to start it several times before I got the start right, but then it just trucked along. I finished it when I got back in March, and then put it away for a while. I didn't get a chance right away to take pictures, and I couldn't figure out how to wear it for a while. Last week, I finally wore it to work for the first time since I made it, and it went alright, so I've stopped resenting it so much.

Citron unfurled

Crazy, because I did like working with the yarn. The color is just amazing, and it's soft and light. And in the end, I guess it does look ok. Just not with every outfit.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Holy Month-long Absence, Batman!

Where the hell have I been? Well, my little peanut shells, I've been **clap clap clap clap** deep in the heart of Texas! I had a two week long business trip that I will tell you ALL ABOUT once I've also written it up for my employer, who I'm sure, is waiting with baited breath for my giant report.

However, lest my two faithful followers think I feel off the face of the earth, I thought it would be appropriate to do a short update. In fact, I have several projects to get off my chest and into the blog, so that I don't look like such an FO slacker. I am knitting! I do finish things! Most of the time, I don't have enough time to fully document them though. But here I am, making an effort.

Here are my last three FOs. This is not counting the Citron shawlette that I made before my trip. I haven't worn it yet. It is beautiful, but I haven't found just the right outfit yet for it.

FO #8:

Amy's new cashmere hat

Pattern/Needle/Yarn: Ha--well, this is a pickle. I don't remember what pattern I used! I am pretty sure I found it through a very targeted Ravelry search using a series of parameters the likes of which I'll never be able to reconstruct now. I think I used the yarn weight and something like 'unisex' and 'hat' or 'beanie' or something. I think I used size 5 needles, but again, I don't remember. I think they were 5s because I don't think I have DPNs any smaller, except in sock sizes... The yarn is this great cashmere yarn I got while attending Vogue Knitting Live. It was from a farm or ranch that sells only cashmere, but I can't for the life of me remember that either, and I don't know where the freaking ball band is. Sadly, these notes are useless. But the hat's cute, no? Spanky has been asking me to make her a black hat for a long time, but she's so picky that I've been putting it off forever. Actually, I had, just before Christmas, bought her three skeins of Cascade 220 sport weight in black in order to make her a beanie, but then at VK Live, I found the cashmere, and thought she might like that better. So I bought two balls of that. This particular beanie took less than a ball, so I have enough left to probably make her some cashmere gloves to go along with the hat.

FO #9 & #10:

These I'm going to do together, because they're so boring.

amy's toe up socks

plain socks 2

These are two plain, stockinette pairs of socks I finished in February. I've been trying to do one pair of socks per month, in order to use up some of my sock yarn stash. In January, I finished the Zokni socks, which you've already seen. For February, I finished the Mystery Socks from 2010, which you've also already seen, and then as a bonus, I fished these two projects out of my stash and whipped through them too! Each one of them needed one single sock, and Spanky's socks, in the first picture, needed a cuff fixed.

Yarn: Spanky's blue and brown jacquard socks are Paton's Kroy 4 ply. Knit on US2s, the second sock went pretty fast. I used the short row toe and heel from Socks from the Toe Up. The blue/green socks are Knit Picks Essential sock yarn (now known as Stroll, I believe--dumb name, in my opinion, but the yarn is pretty rad) hand painted, colorway is called "Fly Fishing". This second sock had been sitting in the stash for probably four years. I couldn't tell if they were toe up or top down socks, but I think I knitted the second one top down. It seemed easier to match it to the first one that way. I love these socks now. I wear them all the time. I really don't know what makes them more favored. I also wear the mystery socks that I don't really like the looks of, all the time. No accounting for taste, I guess.

I'd work with both yarns again, but neither experience was particularly pleasing or displeasing. It was just a stockinette sock, you know? Just...eh.

But now, I'm still trying to finish the March sock pick. I'll tell you about that next time. I've also started a sweater, sort of by accident. And I think I'm potentially making the wrong size. I just measured my bust tonight, and I am now measuring at 36"! WTF, y'all. I don't know how I deluded myself into making the 33" size. The next size up was the 37" size, and I should probably have made that one. Oh well. Perhaps I can block it out to fit when I'm done. Perhaps I can make the fronts for the bigger size? We'll discuss this all later, my chickens. I'm finally back on track. Let's leave it at that for tonight.