Plans Scrapped

Sorry for the late blog, but it was one of those days where your plans are different from those around you. (Ah, it’s almost worth getting a real job to be able to plead work as an excuse.)

My father needed my help in the garden. I don’t mind that sort of work, it isn’t my favorite, but I can live with it. We’re running a little late on planting it, so he felt (and therefore I felt) an ardent desire to get stuff in the ground.

In order to get stuff in the ground, you must first remove the interlopers that have claimed it as their own. Those weeds, oh, those weeds. It was utterly horrendous. Do you remember that episode of Three’s Company where Jack, Chrissy, and Janet clean out Mr. Roper’s garden, to I think, earn a little off their rent. The one where Chrissy picks the marijuana and puts it in the bouquet because she didn’t realize what it was. It was like that, only without the drugs. Let’s say this then, some of those weeds were taller than me, and I’m about six feet. I was looking for Tarzan out there.

Well, as you can imagine it was a lot of work. I thankfully was raking up the weeds that were already cut, and he was the one who was plowing through the hayfield-like grasses and ground ivy. There was a period where he tried to make me run the weed-eater, but that, uh, didn’t work out so well.

You see, I have this unholy, downright unnatural, fear of the weed-eater, It’s right up there with spiders. And Sarah Palin. I loathe that thing, and if he had any sense of how very terrified I am of that death trap, he wouldn’t make me go within twenty feet with it. I don’t like loud things, and I don’t like things that make grass fly around, and I really don’t like things that can remove limbs. (He was using the brush blade, I could cut down a tree with that thing.) Oh my, I hate that thing. I’m always afraid that it’s going to kill me. I know on a rational level, that all it can do is maim me badly. I give it a little kick whenever I walk past it in the garage.

This leads me to the long and arduous topic of my father and I’s different personalities. I’m an impractical dreamy soul. He’s a pragmatic, mechanical minded person. Both of these things have their place, and generally speaking he stays in his world, and I stay in mine. We’re both good sports, and I’ll help him work on a furnace if he realizes that I’m an idiot about, well, lots of stuff. (You don’t want me to help you move, unless you need a creative way to get that couch through a doorway. I am an idiot, like no other when it comes to moving furniture.) But it’s times like these when he doesn’t see why I should have any reason to be afraid of the weed-eater, or spiders, Sarah Palin, or driving, (though that last one I refuse to not do it because of fear, I know I will have to do it someday, and that I need to learn. And also, if my mother can do it, so can I.) Anyway, he just doesn’t get that part of me. And I don’t get that part of him that doesn’t know how to pronounce designee.

After far too many minutes, and odd jerks farther away from the blade, he finally came over and said, “You don’t even look comfortable with this, give it to me.”

I said, “That’s because I’m not comfortable with it,” as un-sarcastic as I could.

Then I raked till my fore-arms started shaking, which was about two hours. (I may need to work out more.) Took a quick shower, stuck something in my mouth. (Food, get it out the gutter.) And then raced to downtown, dropped off a letter, and then raced into a tutoring session that I was exactly one minute early for.

I swear, on the quiet days, I wish for action, on the quick days, I wish for quiet. It’s that whole happy medium thing that I think every one is looking for. So, has anyone been able to find it.

And thanks for all your help on the issue of the variations of Knitting Workshop patterns. I’ve adopted the “Only if I feel like it” approach.

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The Haul

Yesterday morning, bright and early (i.e. about Ten o’clock) I grabbed my knitting and my father, (Who actually wanted to go) And set off for Wooster. Our destination, The Great Lakes Fiber Show.

I had forgotten that Wayne county is such a beautiful place too. It’s mostly farm, to those of you who didn’t grow up like ten minutes from it. But, this time of year with the brown fields newly planed with small green things, it is utterly breathtaking.

We were a little pressed for time. (My father does AC repair on the side a little, and this is like the busiest weekend of the year.) I would have found another ride, one where we could have had many laughs, and made a day out of it, but he really wanted to go, it’s one of the few times our interests meet.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Let me just say that Alpaca was dirt cheap this year, the cheapest I’ve ever seen it, and I’m kicking myself for not buying more of it. (I bought two pounds, unprocessed, for just 20$ To those who do not knit, that is a price sooooooooo good that I felt like I was taking advantage of the seller)

 

And now I’ve bought about a year’s worth of spinning supplies. And this will help me with my Zimmermann project, having a few sweater’s worth of roving.

Today is Memorial Day down here in the US. It’s a day to remember fallen soldiers in all the wars, too many I say, that our country has fought. Take an earnest minute now to think about that, no matter where you’re from.

 

Thank you for the minutes. It is also the unofficial start of summer too, so now go and weed those flower beds!  Ah, who are we kidding? Let’s just go knit some lace. Speaking of which, I started a shawl a few days ago. It’s a traditional Shetland Shawl. (I’m all about the Shetland stuff.) That means that you have to start with the edge. I did that on Saturday night, (Ah, date night) I got about four or so inches, done on it, and I hated it. It was too open (I was using a super fine yarn) too complicated, and I just didn’t like it.

So last night, after cooking a very sensual lasagna, (Two jars of sauce, a can of tomatoes, a tub of ricotta, and a whole pack of mozzarella. I feel the need to go running.) I pulled the whole thing out, and instead of doing the dishes, I managed to knit exactly one whole repeat of this lace pattern. No one said this was going to be easy.

(And my knitting and whatnot, has fallen behind my blogging. How does this always happen to me. I need to show you that lace, the unraveled yarn)

I have an important question for all of you, concerning the Knitting Workshop project. What should I do about the variations? For instance, on the Seemless Yoke, she gives you three different yoke patterns. Do I have to do all of them? Julie Powell said she skipped the variations in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My mother said I don’t have to do them, only if I want to. What do you guys think. Should I just use my good judgement? (HAH!) HELP!!!

The Last Two Inches

I’m nearing the end of the Hand-to-Hand Aran, which I must say has been one of the most fun, and probably one of the quickest knits I’ve had to date, or at least it feels that way. I know for a fact that this wasn’t an unusually quick knit, but it feels like that, which is always a good thing. Often times I am done with a project before I’ve finished the knitting, and it’s nice to have something a little different. It’s an odd feeling, but a good one, and I hope that it is going to be a pattern, which is good because I have a feeling that I’m going to need it.

Let me look and see at the start date. Actually, let me talk for a minute before I tell you the start date. You know how so many knitters,  Like EZ, the Harlot, Debbie Bliss, and too many more to name, all recommend doing something like a knitting diary. Where you record all of your projects, start dates, finish dates, gauge, yarn, amount used, finished fit, recipient, etc. I’ve had one for years, it has about seven entries. I haven’t exactly been dedicated to doing it, if you know what I mean. I don’t feel bad about, just a little guilty about it when I think too much. Anyway, this project actually merited an entry about it if that tells you anything. (And I hope to reform this with my project.)

Wow! This has been on the needles a lot longer than I thought it was. I was thinking maybe, two, three weeks. I started it on April 28th. That means that I’ll have spent a month knitting this sweater. Now that I think about it, it does make a little sence, when I think about how long some parts of it took me. The ending on this will be a little bittersweet for me.

Care to see? The pictures aren’t the greatest, but they’re better than trying to imagine what it looks like. (And I do remember what it was like to have to try and describe my knitting, as opposed to showing it. Let me tell you that Norwegian Mittens look a lot better than they sound.)

My, it is a rare day where I don’t look stoned and/or crazy in a picture. This one isn’t so bad, compared to some of the other ones that I’ve taken in the past.  There’s also a close up of the neck line too, for all you cable nut-heads.

Off to the Great Lakes Fiber Fest tomorrow down in Wooster. I’ve managed to scrape a few dollars together, enough so that this year, I hopefully will be able to buy a knity-noddy. I also feel like this event needs a new name. It’s about two hours from the nearest Great Lake, maybe something like “The Amish Country  Fiber Fest.” Because it is in Amish Country, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen plural Amish people there. I may have seen an Amish person before.

(Aside: It is really odd for me to accept the fact that other people don’t have a place that’s about a 45-minute car ride from them where they can go to buy overpriced baskets, and herbs. )

Though, why do people always have these things on the hottest days of the year? It should be illegal to have these sorts of things in months that don’t have ” ber” in them.

The AC is on here, but I’m little affected by it considering I spend most of my waking hours on the second floor. I’m sticking to both the chair and the desk.

WIP Deck Clearing

The official start-up date looms before me, but I’m doing my best to get ready for it. I’ve got six days till D-day, which really won’t be that different from any other day. June first is coming, and it’s coming soon.

So I’m working to get all other projects, ones that are not a Zimmermann, off the needles. At least  the ones that I’m actively working on, the other ones will just mildew in the corner for a while. (Oh, what a while.) I’m please to report that I’ve got about an evening’s worth of knitting left before it becomes all Zimmermann all the time.

Let’s have some pictures.

Here’s one of my most controversial projects to date. The squares for a friend’s blanket. I’m pleased to say that I don’t have enough to do another one, which means that four will be all for me, and I can now commence to moving on to bigger and better things.

Once I spend about an hour or two on it. Then I will be ready to revel in the wisdom of Elizabeth. (I think using her first name is now appropriate, by the end of this thing, I imagine that we will be quiet close, as close as we can be, considering that she isn’t alive any more.)

And then here’s another thing that I’m glad to have done.

The socks!! They’re knit for my father, for a Christmas present. I love to get a head start on things, and this is no exception. Christmas knitting this year will be an odd affair, either I make Zimmermann sweaters for everyone, or they get socks, and that’s it. I’ll have to start ahead of time too. I at least now know that I’ll have something for my father.

These socks look a little big, which is because they are. These were the ones that really startled me when I found out what my gauge was. On a US 3, I was getting . . . 5 stitches to an inch. Can you believe that? I knit continental style, which means I’m naturally lose, (Which makes me very popular.) but this is just too lose. It unsettled me. I need to start investing in smaller needles I guess.

So that’s where I am. That, and trying to figure out some of the intricacies of some of Elizabeth’s trickier patterns. I think I’m starting to figure it out, but let me just tell you that some of these won’t be easy. That and spinning. I love spinning.

Spinning

In Knitting Workshop there are a lot of sweaters and shawls. More than I have yarn for, but that isn’t surprising, considering I haven’t bought yarn in months. What can I say, there’s only the one shop nearby, and I hate going there because you never know what her hours are, and her staff is a little odd. (We’ll leave it at odd.) Not to mention that none of her yarn had the price written on it, so you always have to ask her how much it is, and that leaves that awkward moment when you know that you’re not going to pay that much for it, but you have to figure out a way to say that you don’t want to buy it. Not to mention that there’s rarely anyone there, so the owner or her staff is always hovering over for you, which makes it really hard to give it a proper feel and rub. (Even a yarn store owner looks at you funny when you smell it.) (I live with a bunch of smokers, I want to smell it while it’s still fresh.)

Anyway, I digress from that tangent. I was talking about Knitting Workshop, like I do a lot these days. I don’t have enough yarn to knit everything in it, so instead of going to a store to stock up on it, I look towards my spinning wheel.

I’ve been neglecting my poor wheel lately. Mostly because it’s been on the fritz or something. Maybe it’s haunted, who knows? I had a few little repairs to make on it, and I never was able to find both the time and the inclination to do them, so I let it mildew in a corner, fleece still on it.

Well, I was rummaging around for some wool the other day, taking stock of my supplies and what not, and I cleverly unearthed my spinning stash, little though it may be. I then remembered that next weekend is the greatest weekend in the history of weekends. It’s the Great Lakes Fiber Fest.

Now, to those of you who think nothing of racking up frequent flyer miles to places like Rinebeck or Maryland Sheep and Wool, this may seem like small potatoes to you. But let me assure you that it is great. Utterly great. And utterly hot. (They really should do it in fall.) But it’s here where I buy a whole years worth of fleece, mostly because it’s cheaper, and well, I’m cheap. Back before I had a wheel, a year’s worth of fleece wasn’t much at all, just a few batts to use on my little drop spindle. But now, when my wheel is working at least, I can take a months work on the spindle, and do it in less than a week. (When it comes to spinning, I’m all about the product, not the process, which I will admit is a very medative one. This is the exact opposite of the way that I feel about knitting, which is all about the process.)

Anyway, here I am with this fiber, and I’ve got some pretty nice stuff, and with a bunch more about to come it. (I’ve made a rule for this year, no yarn purchases, unless they’re really really cheap, and/or sock yarn. This way I can spend more on fleece.)  I figured, it’s time to bite the bullet, and the aching back, and fix my wheel.

It took about thirty seconds.  It was a simple matter of replacing the drivebands with a cotton yarn, i.e. not stretchy, and taking off the old one, which was, well, stretchier. And I haven’t even had to put any corn syrup on it.  It seems to be working, but I don’t want to say too much and jinx it though.

I love having a spinning wheel, even if it is such a pain in the ass sometimes.

The morning after

I think by now, after that long and whiney post over the weekend, that you know I’m going to do it. (Scroll down if you missed something.) It won’t be easy, not always fun, but it will bigger than me and my little existence, a way to connect with a true knitting genius, and for every late and tearful night there will be a counter balance for it.

I’m thinking as June first as my official start up date, that will give me enough time to work out the rules, and come up with something clever to say up at the top of the blog. (I’m thinking something like, “Welcome to this Knitting Workshop. It’s all Zimmermann, and all of her masterpiece,  Knitting Workshop.”) (I’m open to suggestions.) (And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited about the rise in blog hits I’ll get from this. What can I say, a little bump in the ego right?)

You might say, “Rules! We don’t need to stinking rules!” But we do, or at least I do. Without some rules and guidelines, I’ll fall off this thing in no time, and then what will I be left with, a mountain of yarn, a few sweaters, and a sense of failure that will be unparalleled in modern times. I’ve already wisely chosen a loose deadline of two years, but that is high arguable. I’ve also decided that I will be allowed to have one non KW (I have a feeling I’m going to be saying that often, so I’d better start with the abbreviations now.) project on the needles, but I must work on a KW project at least everyday. Sound like a good idea.

As I can tell from my morning blog roll, the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat was last week. I’m very glad that I forgot all about it, and instead had a productive weekend, without fits of envy.

I’ve reached the body on the Hand-to-Hand Aran, which is the first KW project in this thing. (By the way, I also need a name for what I’m doing.) I must say that I’m really starting to like it, which is odd because I’m generally not a big pullover fan. (I think that may change soon.) And the sleeves, which I thought would be too short, are really, a little on the long side. But I’m really liking the cabled-ness of this sweater. Isn’t that an odd thing to say. I like the cushy dense-ness of it. (And I have a feeling this won’t be my last. There are 13 sweaters in KW and a lot of them are plain, i.e. easy to change.)

This week’s lesson, don’t ever, EVER, eat more than one Altoid in one sitting. You’ll gag on all the mint.

But I want to

Last night I, in what was a late and desperate hour, pulled my copy of Knitting Workshop off the shelf, and gave it its first in-depth look in a while. First I must say, my, there’s a lot of knitting in it, and there are indeed, no live lobsters. Or dead ones. (Phew!)

But back to my other point, my god there’s a lot of knitting in it. I do believe that it really qualifies for the title of “assload.” I counted, and as near as I can tell, there are 29 knitting patterns in it. Actually twenty-eight, but there is one that I felt should be added because she put several pictures in it, and tells you, very roughly, how she did it. (i.e. two sentences.) That’s 29 patterns, thirteen of which are sweaters. There are I think six shawls, a few vests, some blankets and some baby things. That’s a lot of knitting. I know I keep saying that over and over again, but it just sunk in how very much knitting there is.

This is not to say that I’m going to do it. I’ve only had two people say it was a good idea, which is hardly a large fan base, though I know if I continue to write funny things about it, toeing that line between witty and not right, people will read. I know I can do this. I’m just not sure that I should. You know that old proverb, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” Is this like that?

And the funny part is that I’m not sure that I can do this. There’s a lot of stuff in there that is just plain hard. I’m a fairly adventurous knitter, or at least I like to think so. But even in that book are something that I would balk at doing. Like the Epaulet sweater, that thing terrifies me to pieces, as much as it intrigues me. Or the Rorschach sweater. Or the Shirt Yoke sweater. All those lace shawls. Not to mention the grafting. I am a horrible grafter, and at least half those patterns have a little grafting in them.

Then you also have my short attention span, combined with my decreasing amount of free time. I can’t do this in a year, two maybe, but that might be a stretch. In two years I will be in a completely different situation then I am now. I’ll be busy, even more so. I’ll still knit, but will I have the energy to plug measurements into formulas and whatnot. And not to give much away, but there will be a baby in this house soon, and as a resident knitter, I will have to churn out buckets of stuff for the expected little one. There are a few baby things in there, but not enough for the multitude that I’m sure is expected. And what about gifts, I don’t want to make a seemless hybrid sweater then turn around and give it to someone who’ll shrink it through improper care. (The people I know all have one rule, which I thankfully do not, “if it doesn’t go in the washer, it doesn’t go on me.”) 

EZ is a pretty utilitarian knitter. Her garments are not exactly fashionable, but they are serviceable and warm. But what if I want something like a cabled vest, which isn’t in Knitting Workshop. What will I do then? If I deny myself having it, won’t that make me want it more?

Then you have the money question. I’m a knitter on a pretty tight budget, most of my nice yarn comes from unraveling sweaters and from generous gifts of yarn. Wool is expensive, and for the most part you have to use it for Elizabeth Zimmermann’s patterns. How am I going to pay for this project?

I remember reading somewhere though that there are always a hundred reasons not to do something. Thousands of reasons. But generally, there are very few reasons to do something. Very few. But still, I want to do it. All of the doubts in my mind start to re-surface, then my mind quiets them by saying “But I want to.”

“But what about your future?”

“But I want to, and you can go to college while knitting sweaters. As a matter of fact, All the plain knitting to the shoulder might suit all that studying.”

“But what about the money?”

“But I want to.”

“Think about the blocky style of EZ’s knits.”

“But I want to.”

“What about your attention span?”

“But I want to.”

How can you argue with something that only says, “But I want to.” Especially when that thing is in your own mind. This isn’t a time for you to open up the comments box and send me well wishes. (Unless you want to, then I won’t stop you.) This is just me trying to work out what I’m feeling now. It’s such a conflicting feeling. And these are just the qualifying questions, if I decide to do this, what will I do about the things that I’ve already knit, or what about the things that I knit, but didn’t like?

What about my writing, won’t this affect the books that I’m working on? Won’t I be distracted from my work by knitting. When knitting is just in the background it doesn’t distract me at all, but what if I do this project, and instead of writing short stories in the evening, I knit for two straight hours. Will I quit reading because of all the knitting?

“But I want to.”

I think we all know what’s going to happen.