50 Shades of Gansey

Tonight I take part two of a two-part test. I took part one yesterday. This test pretty much determines the difference, between “I’ll have that file ready by noon,” and “May I take your order please?” So you can understand that I’m a little nervous. (Though I am comforted by the knowledge that I can take it again if need be, I just don’t think I’d want to.) I’m also very thankful that I found a place that offers the test on two days, instead of in one big, eight hour block.

Today should be the easy day though. I am over halfway done, and today’s topics should be easy. (I just knocked on my wooden desk.) Keep your fingers crossed for me.

So, knitting has been a little light, what with cramming for this test and actually taking it. (You take four hours out of your day and see how much you knit.) Then I’ve also lost time to nervousness, and to trying not to have an upset stomach. So you see, not a lot of knitting time around here.

But I’m still plodding along on this Gansey. These days I’m really into the saying, “knitting at its worst, is still better than a lot of other things,” because that really is true. I’d much rather spend four hours drinking coffee and knitting this sweater in my comfy chair than having my brain drilled non-stop for information for four hours straight. I’m almost done with the front armhole, then I have to do the back, then join the two with a garter stitch strap, and then it’s sleeve time. The sleeves will probably take a while because they’re knit attached to the body, and I hate doing that because by the end of it I feel like I’m knitting an octopus.

I’m enjoying the cooler weather, which makes it bearable to do things outside. Last night while I waited outside of the testing center I actually got kind of cold. It’s almost time for me to wear those sweaters I’ve been knitting for a while. I’ve done two so far that I haven’t even been able to wear, aside from their original photo shoot. And it’s also jeans weather, which thrills me beyond belief. (More than it really should.)

I’m also reading that new bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey. Let me tell you something, you know how you’ve heard that it’s really dirty and smutty. That is true. Really true.  There was one night, I was sitting outside and reading it, and I just couldn’t stop laughing. There was just so much sex. (This was before the S and M stuff.) It was not at all a funny part, but I just couldn’t stop laughing. All those descriptions, it make me felt like it was almost a parody of romance novels. (Romantic it ain’t.) Is that weird, how funny I found it? I just couldn’t stop laughing.

The story is a good one though, I just don’t think it’s quite worthy of the level of fame it’s received. I could see for a book like The Help, that was a good book that dealt with serious issues in an amusing but thoughtful manner. It was about a serious time in American History, and it protrayed it in a way that made it possible to understand what these people went through.

50 Shades of Grey, is a good book, but it isn’t one that you read in a few days. (At least for me, and I don’t know what you do in your personal life.) Some people might find it better than me.

Another funny story about that book before I have to go. Last night, while I was standing outside and Adult Education Center (And this place is in the middle of nowhere) after my test and waiting for my ride, I was reading that book and there was one part that was so gross I just started jumping up and down screaming “EW! EW! EX!” It was truly barf worthy.  (Leave a comment if you want to know which part it was.)

Death by Gansey

I will come out and say it, I hate knitting Gansey patterns. There, it’s out, make fun of me at will. But it won’t change the deep-seated loathing that I have of them.

It started almost two years ago, with the Gansey Socks. Yes, Gansey socks, from the days back when I knit things that weren’t Elizabeth Zimmermann based. I started them, in October, two years ago I think. They were some of my least favorite projects ever. Worse than that time I knit 7 pairs of fingerless mittens back to back, only because people kept asking for them. (That was also back in the days when I couldn’t say no, and always did what I would say. I still can’t say no, but I can at least pretend that I forgot.) It was worse than seed stitch blanket I knit one winter. (It went pretty quick, what with being on the needle during the holiday rush. And I think I was also knitting that one when I first started up the little ole’  blog, in what was either a crazy or inspired morning.) It was even worse than that sweater I tried to knit at 7 stitches to an inch with worsted. (OW! I don’t even know how I was looking back.)

Anyway, before that little trip into the knitting past, I was telling you about those socks. They were knit out of a simple Gansey pattern that I loathed. There was no chart, so I had to follow written out instructions. I didn’t think to write my own chart. They were knit out of a dark yarn — which wasn’t a good choice for the darkest time of the year. I worked on them so slowly, that I didn’t finish them till the following June. Can you imagine? I didn’t touch another Gansey pattern till now.

It’s not as bad as the socks were, this sweater is. It’s on a much larger scale, and it’s knit out of a nicer yarn, and I’m smarter now. It also helps that it’s got a chart. I love charts.

Though I’ve divided for the armhole (not long now) it still is boring while still being challenging. (It is the wrong kind of challenging.) I’m having to purl back, and it’s creating a few interesting designs what with not always being able to see what you’re doing. It’s that, or I steek the armholes, which is not happening.  I don’t like to cut my knitting, despite how easy everyone says it is. I still have my doubts, though I will have to do it at some point, as a part of this whole Zimmermann thing, and learning stuff. (Bettering yourself is such a chore.)

So I’m knitting a dull pattern, but still challenging. I have got the urge to start something else bad. Maybe the Saddle shouldered sweater or something like that. I’ve got that yarn that would be great for that. It would be the right gauge, and it’s just sitting there, wanting to be knit. I should knit it, shouldn’t I? If I didn’t, it might get sad, right?

Also, Cheryl of Pearls- Toronto, link on sidebar, I know you’ve been MIA from blogland for a while now, but could you please tell me which pattern you want to KAL with? (If you’re even making time in your busy life for all of us little people.) I want to know so I don’t start it without you. We don’t even have to start it till you’re ready. Or if you’re backing out of it, or if your just selling the stash off on Ebay, and trying to forget about this whole knitting endevor, tell me, and I’ll shut up about it.

Booties: Lightening Fast

Last night, I started feeling a little insecure about my knitting. Not along the lines of, “does this make me look fat,” but, “I should do more of this for other people.” (This is usually followed by disaster.)

Well, there is a baby coming here in about a month, which I realized yesterday. I have three urges, A. Sleep while I still can.  (This really shouldn’t be a problem, after years of having people tramp through my room at all hours, I can sleep pretty well.) B. Start looking for an apartment. (I like things to smell nice and be clean, both are hard to do with both a baby and my sister around.) and C. OH MY GOD, I HAVE NOT KNIT ENOUGH.

Well, there is really only one way to fix that feeling, as least the last one. It’s called knit more baby stuff. (I’ve done like 4 sweaters and two blankets, but it still doesn’t feel like enough.) So, last night, around 10:30, I cast on some booties. They are from Newsletter #22 on page 108 of The Opinionated Knitter, by, of course, Elizabeth Zimmermann. This is the first project all summer that I’ve knit that’s not from Knitting Workshop. I’m very proud of my determination, or at least so far.

They are knit out of some leftovers, (Oddly enough, from my first Seemless Yoke sweater from over two years ago. Also, my first Zimmermann sweater.) They’re a little more purple in real life. And they took so little time. The whole pair took about three hours. (One knit last night, one this morning.) This was such a fast high, and I think that they are just so freaking cute. Would it be bad to say that this is my favorite baby knit so far? I mean, the sweaters and blankets were cute, but the sweaters were a little, not me, and the blankets wore on my TONS by the time they were done (Still fun though). But these, wham bam thank you ma’am. Done, and I am so happy with those. This is an easy and fun pattern, one that I recommend highly. Knit them, you won’t be sorry.

In other news, still working on the Gansey, Still not dividing for the armholes. I am working on making my peace with it.

Knitty News

Things are starting to take a turn for the better around here, at least as far as my knitting is concerned. Yesterday was a rather knitty day (I got to knit during the daytime, and in public). And today, while it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be so, I think I can sandwich a little time here and there. (Hope for a slow night at work, but I always do that, and it’s really hard to simply stay caught up, let alone ahead.)

Let’s share, shall we. First, the projects.

Picture number one is the hat from earlier this week. It’s hard to take a picture of pink and white, flash or none, so this thing is going to be a poorly documented project. (Yeah, because I’m so great at showing all the others.) I haven’t been working on it a lot, I need to get a length for it. Dumby over here asked for a head circumference, but not a height measurement.

The bottom picture is of the Gansey, my current project. I don’t think you’ve seen this thing for about a month. It’s grown up a lot since then. I’m ready to start the armholes on it. I changing it though, I don’t think it’s really necessary to steek the armholes on a single color garment, you know. Then again, I hate steeking. I dont’ know, there is just something about hacking up my knitting with scissors, that I dont’ really care for.

Other knitting occurrences.

One – The first gift I’ve ever gotten from another blogger came today. I don’t want to embarrass the person, though he probably wouldn’t care. (And he’ll probably say something too.) I just want to ask the question, are other people with weird and obsessive hobbies this generous with each other? Do Civil War reenactors dye to much vegetable dyed wool just so the can share it with other people? Do skateboarders lend out extra boards willy-nilly? Do yoga people let you borrow their extra mat? I don’t know the answers to these questions, I just want to say that there is no one better than the knitters. We should totally take over the world.

Two (and this is a small one) – Wendy, of Wendy Knits, replied to a comment I left on her blog. That is all.

Things are a little dim in this ole’ tavern

Hello everybody, sorry for the lack of blog yesterday, it was a long day that went from almost the time I got up till the time I went to bed. I Got up and a half hour letter went out to pick blueberries, did that till two, and then helped my father replace the brake lines on his truck. (You read that right.) I am a man of many talents, and I hope that brake lines are not going to be one of them. (I can with certainty that they aren’t now. ) And also,I should know this by now, but when my father says something like “Could you help me with just this one little thing,” that it means, “Would you sit there for six hours and hand me wrenches while I cuss and despair about the fact that six inches of brake line cannot got seven inches.”

Also, I would like to say that my father said this would take a maximum of four hours. I then said that it would probably take six, because my father is noteworthy for his abstract relationship to time. He said, “I already added two hours, this really only should take one or two.”

Guess how long this took. Six hours was about right. I know that I’m not always right, but there is so much evidence to the contrary.

Which sucked because, not only did I lose prime working hours, I also lost blogging time. I try to post every other day, and some days it’s pretty hard because I don’t always have something to say. But yesterday, I actually did have something to say.(It won’t be the same now.)

Knitting Workshop is the only one of EZ’s books that can be called “Learn to knit” Some of them are great for beginners who don’t know what gauge is, but for the most part KW is the only one that could be used as a learning book. (Though I wouldn’t recommend it, she sometimes thinks you a lot smarter than you are.) In KW, she recommends that you use a hat to teach you how to knit, which is a good idea, and much better than the paltry and boring scarf. She tells you how to knit said hat, what to do, different ways to do it ect.

I was bothered by this project, I already knew how to knit, and there isn’t much that I don’t know how to do — or at least things that I care to learn. I thought that in the true spirit of the thing, I should use it to lean something I didn’t know how to do.

Enter project stage left. My mother had a friend, as a matter of fact, this friend used to be her boss. This friend, we’ll call her Peggy, (mostly because that’s her name) has a granddaughter. One day Peggy saw something knit, that she liked It was a pink football hat that looked like the place where you hold onto it on a football. (That place where your hands go, I’m sure there is a name for it.) Anyway, Peggy wanted this knit, knew I knit, and you can put the rest together.

Ordinarily this sort of thing would merit the response of “Yeaaa – no, no.” I’ve got more important things to do with my time, and I don’t even like football. (I think it’s needlessly barbaric, and I think that the millions those players make could be used to a much better purpose. I also don’t like Tim Tebow. I’m also ashamed I sort of know who that is.) I also hate it when non-knitters assume that we all would be so pleased to have them ask for fiddly and time-consuming pieces of crap, and then get all pissy when we don’t make it. (‘Cause I can never say no, which should make me very popular during college.)

But, it was a little cute. (It’s for a baby, which shouldn’t make it cute, but babies are cute from a distance, when they aren’t there to interrupt right at the good part of your story. Babies are kind of drama queens.) And I was looking for something I needed to learn. (This thing is Intrelac, which I ordinarily would hate, and still do on principle, but I don’t know how to do it, and it is on a small-scale.) And I was looking for a new project. Peggy is also a potential knitter, and something like this, made up on the fly, could be enough to push her over the edge, if you know what I mean. It’s also a hat for a toddler, so it shouldn’t make me want to push myself over the edge.

I would show you a picture of it, but it’s dim and I can’t get a good one. Later on it the week I promise.

Cutting and Blocking

Just a few minutes ago I laid open a finger picking out in the garden. Let me tell you a little something before I tell you how this happened, you must know a little bit about my, and specifically about how I pick vegetables. I have in my possession, a very large pocket knife. You couldn’t carry this in Michigan, it’s over three inches. I carry this thing with me everywhere. It comes in handy for having to break down boxes, and carving initials in trees (because I do that all the time). It also makes me feel fearsome and generally bad ass, though if I were ever in that situation, where I would use a knife to cut something besides cardboard and vegetables, I would run like Forrest Gump.

Anyway, today I was out picking vegetables in the garden. (Saying that makes me feel like I should be wearing an apron and a bonnet while I do so.) And after doing my bi-weekly battle with the beans, and picking about a peck of peppers (How much is a peck? Like you pick till you have them?) I dropped my knife and went to pick it up as it was falling. You can see where this is going. That wasn’t even really a cussing moment, it went beyond that. I now have two fingers with band-aids on them, and it’s making typing very hard. It wasn’t quite bad enough to need stitches, but it was still enough to just make everything for the next three days pretty hard. (And I have an eight hour practice test tomorrow. I am taking this test mostly because I am FREAKING out about the eight hour test that I have to take in about ten days. This test entails writing a decent essay in 45 minutes. This is all on my right hand., which is of course, the one I right with. I am petrified with this.)

In other news, I have finished all but the blocking on the Baby Shawl from KW. It looks great, and that’s saying something pre-blocking. The border is finally done, which I think is just great, I have no other words for it. I’ll show you a picture of the shawl once it’s been blocked. Don’t expect that to be for a while. Let me explain my blocking philosophy to you.

For a sweater, I hand wash and lay flat to dry, no pins, no fuss. It just sort of neatens it up, cleans out any of the dirt it would have picked up while knitting, and gives it a final ending. (There’s so many, “I’ve finished this, but I still have to do X,Y,Z before I’m really done” moments with a sweater, you know, that’s why I like seemless.) When it’s for something that will be machine washed (yuk) I just run it through the washer/dryer and call it a day. For shawls, I need to wet it, stretch it, and pin it ruthlessly in order to be satisfied. This is no exception.

The only problem, I don’t have the room to block it.  I used to have a room that had a more or less open floor. It was great for dancing, made even better by the beautiful radio, but it was also good for wet blocking shawls. I would spread out a sleeping bag, borrow my mother’s pins and have a whole lot of fun.

Now things are different. I lost said blocking and dancing room (as well as my bookshelves, and desk space, but I digress). Some people moved, and things got changed, and I, as per usual, got the short end of the stick. (It keeps getting smaller too.) So there’s no floor space with blocking, short of the living room, because someone, not naming any names, has this weird and deep fear of pins being on or anywhere near the floor.

I can’t do it on the bed, it just makes me to nervous. (Not pins, but a wet bed.) I think I could pin it too a sheet and let it dry outside though. There’s plenty of room out there. I only need to buy pins, which will take a while, because I need to have both the money, and the place to buy them. I will keep you updated though, show you pictures, and bitch about the border more, when the time has come. I will also let you know about this slightly unorthodox method of blocking, and how it turns out.

Hope the rest of your weekend is good.

Thursday, what a day, the choices are endless

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Oddly enough, this picture sort of lit a fire under me. I look at it and thing. “Oh my, how pretty, all my lovely lacy stitches, sitting there, looking all polite and delicate.” It makes me want to go knit it and get a move on. It just looks, like what I though it would be.

(Ignore the lumpy stitches, it’s unblocked. It’s also unfinished.)

On the other end of this cotton lace with seven stitch rows, is the Gansey, with 225 stitches to the round, many, many rounds of plain stockingette till I get to the armholes. It’s in a lovely wool that’s all nice and starchy. (I like my wool the way I like my food.)

So tell me, show me, what are all of you knitting this summer? I’m dying to know. (I’m also dying to hear what project you want to knit with me Cheryl? Hmmm Ms. Pearls-Toronto? I know you’re busy with gainful employment and everything, but please, please tell me so I don’t accidentally knit it without you. We don’t even have to start it for a while (fall would be great).  If you don’t let me know soon, I’ll pop over to your blog and start leaving annoying comments like this ALL THE TIME. )

(Note, I had a post all written up, and then had some huge blog problems. I solved it, more or less. All the stuff at the sidebar was moved to the bottom and we can’t have that. So I fixed it, but somewhere along the lines I lost the first half of the post and about a half hour. I now know that I had too man HTML tags, whatever that is, and that it was being all wired. I think it was the picture’s caption. It had one, it said. “Yes, the backround for this picture is my bed, and no, I don’t care.”)

(What I lost was mostly me dithering and complaining about the seven stitch rows that comprise the border on this shawl, and how much I hate them and how much they are so not worth it. You didn’t miss much. Just be lucky there was anything up at all today.