Arctic And Apples

This morning I got out of bed, went into the bathroom and opened the window to see what the weather was like. As I was hit with the blast of arctic air so cold it froze my nose up instantly I couldn’t help but think. “Oh shit, it’s going to be a multiple sock day.”

Living in Ohio takes fortitude, we all know this. You must put up with the people, the farms, the blisteringly hot summers, and the freezing cold winters. I know all this and do my best to deal with all this. However, when we got from a teasingly warm few days, wearing shorts while running warm, to wondering what on earth we all did to have the weather this cold, that I can’t stand.

I talk about the weather a lot though. It fascinates me in a way I haven’t been engrossed since I started stealing my mother’s romance novels. (I learned a lot from those books.) Still though, I’m sure that you probably have lost interest. Unless of course you live in Ohio, and then you are, like myself, utterly beguiled by this.

Last night at knitting, a woman gave me a couple of bags of fiber that she had declared that she wasn’t going to spin. Now, my wheel has been broken since spring, but she didn’t take this as a hint that I shouldn’t be collecting fiber. She gives me some stuff, which was very kind of her, and I put it in my friend’s car. When I got home, I grabbed it out of her backseat, said my goodbyes and got out. I took it upstairs, and lo and behold, I was one bag short. She’d given me two and I only had one. I looked around and then just figured I’d left it in Tracy’s backseat. Not a big deal. I then went outside to pee (leave me alone, it was dark out) and there was a bag of fiber. Only it wasn’t there. Yesterday was terribly windy, and as I left the house, it had started to take off. My neighbors were going to have an Alpaca lawn!

In my stocking feet I take off running across the sopping wet driveway and yard. I’m pulling fiber out of mud puddles and chasing down the ever dwindling bag. Thank god that my neighbors already think I’m crazier than a soup sandwich. I’m shrieking as I do this, I don’t know why, so all the dogs within a ten-mile radius start barking as I chase down fiber through the neighborhood.

I think I got most of it.

My mother is down stairs making apple dumplings. Long time readers will recall the deep-seated loathing that I have for these things. They are a pain in the ass to make, I don’t like them that much, and think that they really are much more trouble than they are worth, sort of like rice pudding.  And not to mention that any time she makes them I end up finishing them. I don’t know how this happens. She somehow eagerly starts them, then has a melt down over pie crust or something (rightly so) and then runs out of the kitchen crying. I just in and piece a piece of falling apart dough over a wet apple as best I can, get it all going right, and then by the grace of god she feels better in time to triumphantly take them out of the oven. This is another bone of contention in the spine of resentment.

The real kicker is when she says, “I made apple dumplings . . . Oh, and Garret helped a little.”

I made the biggest mistake of my life when I learned how to make those damn things. I wonder what sadist invented those thing and what on earth was done to him for it.



I am in the mood to knit. This isn’t different than usual, but I feel it more. I always want to knit, but this feels more magnified now. I can’t explain this.The weather here is beautifully warm. It’s over fifty degrees. Ah, global warming. I’m making the most of it, and every few minutes I get up from my desk and walk to the door and just breathe in the refreshing air that is filled with the new growth. I wore shorts running this morning, and I actually went running, so you know that it’s warm out because I’m a big chicken when it comes to that sort of thing. I wonder how long this will last. I would check the weather, but I’m afraid that it won’t last very long at all, and in that case, I don’t want to know.

You can tell that I’m a disgruntled office worker because I’m already starting to steal the office supplies. I took an envelope and a stamp yesterday. It felt good. I’m not sorry.

Moving on to knitting. (I’m in a much better mood today, can you tell?)

I still haven’t re-started the Diamond Aran. I’m just letting it have it’s little time out so that way it can think about what it (me) did. I still even haven’t had a chance to finish ripping it out, though it waits by my computer and I do a little bit on it while I’m waiting for things to load and whatnot. (That’s one of the problems with this new computer, it loads everything quickly so I don’t have to wait a lot.) Maybe tonight I’ll put on my big boy pants and get a move on with it, but don’t bet on it.

So what am I doing in the mean time? Well, that’s a good question.

Do you all remember the Shetland Lace Shawl that I started a few months ago. (Read: May.) I started it, knit a whole bunch on it, put it aside and only worked on it every now and then when I had the urge for lace.

I recently had to come to the conclusion that it was going to be too small. Even for a shawl. This shawl grows out, more or less, from the edging, so if you knit the edge too small, then the rest of it is going to be too small also. So, if you choose an, um, difficult edging like I did, then, well, you’re going to have a hard time of things. I made the edging way too short, namely because knitting that thing was like being water boarded, only when you’re water boarded then you at least had the excitement of being captured. This was just dull; it was dull but yet still required my total concentration because I couldn’t work on it at knitting or while reading. So I made the edging way to short, and then things went south from there. The lace patterns were pretty and somewhat fun to knit and it flew by because it was too small. I got about two thirds of the way done with it, and then came to my conclusion. it was too small, it wasn’t going to be big enough, and I would be wasting my time if I deluded myself into continuing to do it further.

So really, if you think about it, then I am saving myself time.

I pulled out the needles, and will rip it all out if I feel like it. May it rest in peace.

I started it all over again. Only this time out of a wool, and this time with an edging I don’t hate. (The edging was pretty, a pain in the ass, but still pretty.) And this time I’m just going to knit and knit on it, until I feel that it is too big and then I’ll knit for a few more days till I want to set the thing on fire underneath the new moon and dance a dance to raise some knitting that was actually fun. That should be big enough.

(And then what will I do for the other four shawls.)

Such a new promising hand knit. It’s so free from the mistakes I make. It’s a blank slate, and isn’t there anything better than that.

This is possibly the worst picture on this blog to date.

This is possibly the worst picture on this blog to date.

What you have there is a lace edging. Well, it’s not lace. It has a little eyelet border, which is organic to the shaping on the increasing side, but I have to do two decreases instead of one on the decreasing side because I love the way it’s edged with the eyelets.

I will knit it big enough. All these knitting issues is slowly driving me into the arms of crochet. I must work to prevent this.

If only I could rip out everything.

This is the craziest time in the tax world, so it stands to reason that I’ve been working tons of hours here of late. I’m glad to have the hours, because in a few months I’ll once more be joining the ranks of the job hunters, but it doesn’t make for much knitting time, and even less for blogging. (And my poor writing is suffering too. So close to the end of Book 4. I can almost taste it.) So I’m seizing on this day off to write, read, knit, do laundry, clean and cook. (Seems like a lot to expect out of  a day.) My job is slowly, but effectively, giving me a mental disorder of the fifty shades variety. The meek and mild receptionist, all to willing to please, will soon become the oppressing sadist by night. Or maybe by night I’ll just fall asleep in front of the TV while knitting. It could really go either way. It’s your typical office job, a meaningless, bullshit office job that doesn’t fulfill you in anyway, shape or form. I used to say fulfillment was overrated, but that was when what I spent my days doing something that was actually fulfilling. (The pay reflected that.) It makes me long for the days when I was a writer, taping away on my keyboard all day while rain poured down outside. We always romantize the past though, so I shall try to avoid doing so. That still doesn’t mean I enjoy what I do. I get fired on April 15th, and I am almost looking forward to it.

Have I mentioned that my boss is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican?

So this, any my knitting, (I’m getting to that) and my shitty love life, has left me feeling, a little sad. I could deal one of those being shitty without any ill effects, maybe even two, but when all three are going poorly, I get a little upset. (I’ll spare you the details of my various amours, mostly because bitching about my less than stellar romances on my knitting blog crosses a line that I don’t want to cross.)  And all that James Taylor doesn’t help.

So my knitting. Okay, as you know from my last post, I was plodding right along on the Diamond Aran. (Which I was knitting from memory of the last time I made one, over a year ago.) It looked pretty good in the last picture and I was actually starting to feel kind of good about it — it was one of the few things that is actually working out. Knitting is like that, which is why anyone who is feeling like their a  lost and lone reed should knit — it is something that you can make progress on. I was ready to divide for the armhole and it was when I did that that I noticed something was going wrong.

Let explain for a minute. This sweater, or at least the way I’m knitting it from my head, is made with four diamond patterns on it, two on the front and two on the back, with smaller patterns in between them. Well, when I cast on my stitch count was a little off and my cable patterning was a little different. (It ended with more of the smaller cables in the front, this should have been a tip off.) I thought that I’d simply misplanned or miscounted, as I am wont to do, and that it was all working out. I do hate to count. So I start knitting and keep knitting. I knit in coffeehouses, at bookstores, at the library, in bed, at my desk, and even in my living room. I knit and knit, and then I get to the point where I should start thinking about armholes. She tells you to just knit a tube, and then just sew and cut the pattern. I thought it would be a little bit easier if I did a little planning ahead. So I put three on a holder and then cast on five, planning on starting the V-neck soon. Well, I did the first one, and then knit two more diamonds, and then suddenly I was at the start of the round. (The round starts at the center front. I looked at it. I squinted and counted, feeling my blood pressure rise, then counted again. Then I looked at it. Then I took a drink of my coffee (I’m living off caffine these days.) and started crying. Then I pulled out the needles and started ripping.

I was supposed to do knit four diamond patterns, I did three. I knit all the way to the armhole without noticing, that something was wrong. I swore there were four, I was certain that there were four. I remember knitting four in each round.

I tried to make it work, the sweater was wide enough, and I could have made it work. But it would have bothered me forever. I couldn’t have lived with it, and I would actually like to be able to wear this sweater when I’m through with it. It’s likely that I’m through with it already, and I did have the urge to throw it.)

Yay! More of my favorite thing. I get more knitting entertainment out of this yarn, and it’s good for the soul. What are the other things that we knitters say when we have to rip out something that we really don’t want to?

Oddly enough, when I wrote that last word in the last paragraph, I had 911 words. Funny that. Now I’ve got 930.

Knitting and brief politics

Good morning everybody. You all should feel extra special because I got out of bed before eight clock just to talk to you, so please, feel touched.

Up there you have some knitting. (Hey it’s early.) To be blunt, it’s the Diamond Aran, from KW. (Not that she actually gives you anything resembling directions. Just two sentences and a picture.) I included it because I felt like I should, don’t ask why, and because, all in all, it’s a pretty fun pattern to knit. She gives some more directions in The Opinionated Knitter.

I’d knit it once before, long time readers my recall this one. It was red, long sleeves; I look like a serial killer in the pictures. It was about a year and a half ago, back on my ole’ blogger blog. It was fun to knit, and I remember having good time, till that thing happened with the dye lots. (Or DIE lots.) I had two sleeves that were pretty much different colors. Ah, I can’t bitch though, it was a gifted yarn.

I’d lent my copy of The Opinionated Knitter to a friend so I had to knit the above from memory, and those two sentences. I don’t think it looks too bad for pulling it out of my ass. Upon further reflection my diamond panels are too wide, but I don’t think that I did a half bad job with it. It’s fun to knit on, especially because I’m getting to that good point with any knitting. It’s the part where you know the pattern, you’ve got a fair amount of fabric hanging off the needles, and it is starting to get like that tenth year of marriage, not that I would know, or will know, where you’re all comfortable with each other and know each other’s quirks and personalities.

Anyway,  back my mean-cynical ways. The yarn is from a pulled out sweater that I took out last winter. I actually knit it last summer into The Hand to Hand Aran, the sweater that prompted me to do this. So really, this is just the leftovers. (Due to Karma, I may not have enough. I suppose it is a bit much to want to get two sweaters from one, and Arans at that.)

I’ll be needing another sweater too. The weather is about seven million billion degrees below zero around here and I’m not even kidding a little bit. Here’s what it took for me to keep warm yesterday, on my way to work, around one pm. Shetland sweater, magic gloves, mittens, Entrelac scarf, a hat,  and my woolen overcoat. That’s cold.

A short note on politics. I would just like to praise the president for emphasizing (i.e. telling his writers to emphasize) the all-to important issues of climate change and same sex marriage. While the world getting warmer doesn’t seem like a problem right now, I’ll feel differently in about seven months. And James Taylor sung there. That would be worth being president alone, just to be able to call James Taylor and say, “I’m having a little get together next week, would you care to stop by, maybe belt out a tune or two?”)

Hybrid Sweater

Another Photo I look stoned in.

Another Photo I look stoned in.

Above you have the Hybrid Sweater, and me in it, not on anything, I swear. (And yes, that’s a deer mounted on the wall behind me. Yes, I know. No, it wasn’t me. My father hunts. I know. He also votes Republican. I know. I don’t know where I went wrong. I could rant about this now, but I will just save my breath. I’ve already scared off all the people who disagree with me by this point. )

Anyway, there is the Hybrid Sweater. If you don’t know where the patterns from, where the hell have you been.  I knit it on U.S. 2 needles, six stitches to the inch (never fucking again), knit out of a yarn I picked up for a dollar a skein at Big Lots. The ballband says Gala Yarns 100% Acrylic, if that means anything to you. It was 100% acrylic, but it feels and generally behaves like a loosely spun wool. (That combined with the slightly loose gauge this was knit at means this thing is going to pill like you wouldn’t believe.) I would have knitted it tighter, but I would have had to use a zero to do so, and that isn’t happening on so many different levels. (I would have been at like seven to the inch.) There isn’t yardage on the label, so I had to guess how much I needed of it. I had to do a little metric to American, yardage, weight, thickness math right there in the store while holding on to my discounted Italian cookies.

I may have over shot it a little bit. I bought eleven skeins. I used five. Anybody want any of this? I’ve got more than enough for your average male sweater. (40 inches around on a man who likes to wear his clothes tight and skimpy.) At 50 grams/ 1.76 oz. per skein, I used 250 grams or 8.8 oz. So this sweater weighs little more than half of a pound. That’s a light sweater. And it was cheap. I paid a dollar a skein for this yarn (that’s why I’m not so upset about grossly overbuying) But I also got ten percent off my whole purchase, so each was bought for 90 cents.  That means this sweater, without the cost of labor, comes to (drumroll) $4.85. (If I’m correct, which may not be the case, I did buy over double to much yarn.)

This post probably isn’t good for the case that knitters don’t save money by making their sweaters. But still, $4.85! You can’t beat that. It’s almost free.

The demerits of this sweater are that it’s thin, so not very warm. It’s also a little short, because I wanted to be done with it and move on with my life. The back is also a little bit wider than the front, because I did that math in a dark, crowded, and loud coffeehouse, far from my quiet desk and there way no way I was ripping it out. But the back should be a little wider anyway, it works. I’ve been wearing it all day and will continue to do so. Also, due to said thin-ness, I have to wear dark and solid colors underneath it — anything with prints shows through it. I don’t know a lot about fashion, but I am pretty sure that you shouldn’t be able to read clothes through other clothes.

Still thought, with all these factors working against it, I love it. It’s sleeves are perfectly snug. Maybe I’m just finally getting to the point where I can overlook a sweater’s issues and see it for what it really is. Maybe I’m finally starting to grow like I’ve always wanted to. (It’s about time.) Maybe I’m getting all Zen and accepting, and maybe the UN will start taking my calls again.

Or maybe this thing cost less than five dollars.

. . . . . . .

Now that this thing is done, and the rib warmer is done too, it’s time to start thinking about what is next. I’ve got a few ideas, but I am open to any suggestions. Anybody?

(By the way, 18 projects left in Knitting Workshop!!!)

Good Days

I’ve just had the best day, and it’s likely to continue. Here’s where we are so far.

The day got off to a rocky start. My father called me this morning and asked me to measure some space in our kitchen. (The long, long, work in progress kitchen.) This was early -ish, so I was all grumpy and grumbling about doing this prior to coffee and about being woken up early on a Saturday. (I love both nights and mornings, odd, I know.)

The day quickly got better though, once I got some caffeine in me. I had a great morning working on my Hybrid Sweater (so close I can taste it) while listening to my beloved Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. It’d been a while since I’d listened to it, circumstances being what they are. (Don’t these people know that I have radio to listen to?) I’m moving right along on my Hybrid sweater. I have about ten more rows to do on the hem, weave in the ends and wash it, then I’ll be done with the Hybrid Sweater. (Don’t think I just whipped this thing off in a few weeks, it’s been on the needles since November 2nd.)

After I’d had a sufficient amount of NPR/coffee/knitting in me, at about one, I went for a walk. A long walk. I went the scenic route into town (i.e. three miles instead of one), and then went and just looked at books at the library. I then went to Subway and treated myself to some lunch. (Subway is the food of the gods as far as I’m concerned. I have this weird affinity for lunchmeat.) I went to the park and ate it there. (Memorial Park if it means anything to you. It’s really just a big pond, with a trial around it, and a few benches, lots of trees and things. It’s actually a pretty spot.) As I was getting up to leave I ran into a friend of mine playing Frisbee Golf. (Of all things. Tom does this sort of thing a lot, and yes, I make fun of him for it.) I followed him around and we had a great talk walking through tree lined lanes. Then my father came and got me because he needed help moving a dishwasher. (And I had just made my peace with having to wash dishes.)

So that was a good day. Yesterday was a good day too. My father and I went down to Amish Country and had a great time. He’s the sort of person who is great to do this sort of thing with. You know when you see some little country store on the side of the road you stop and think “What do they sell there?” He’ll stop and find out, which is so fun. We went to this little apple stand, where they had groomed the apple trees like topiary to grow at chest height. I discovered Ginger Beer, and I don’t know how I made it this far without that, it got better with every drink. I also tried Cucumber soda, which was a disappointment.

And, oh, this was fun. As we were driving over the Amish hills (I don’t know what makes those hills so cute, whereas the ones here are just a pain in the ass.) we crested a hill and I saw a sign that said, “Wool and More Store.” It was one of those “STOP THE CAR!!” moments. I have always wanted this sort of thing to happen to me.

The man there was lovely, your typical country man, happy to see any face. the selection of wool was small (probably why I didn’t buy anything) but it was all grown on his farm, on his sheep. A lot of what he had were craft show bears and rag-looking rugs. There was some fiber, which I would have bought, if my wheel was in a working condition. But I’ll see him again this spring at Wooster.

(Not to mention he talked about being a vendor at Maryland Sheep and Wool. My father was dumbfounded and intrigued by the knowledge that so many people went there and that it was such a big deal. He seemed rather interested. I don’t want to think about this. Also, I think it falls on his birthday this year. Again, don’t think.)

And I bought whole wheat flour and made whole wheat bread. My best bread yet. (And even better because, while I can’t get enough of it, the fact that it’s good of you seems to have turned off everyone else to it. Mine, all mine. )


My ribs have never been warmer

It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It turns out that having tempertantrums because you’re knitting isn’t working out isn’t really a good way to get things fixed, who knew. It also turns out that coffee is much better induced to problem solving than hard liquor, though anyone with the sense that god gave toothpaste should know that. If not, you do now, though I won’t hold you to applying this done.

Well, I would just like to point out to you that if she would have said “Sew Cast off stitches to side of beginning tab and sew beginning tab cast ons to each other at back,” it would have been a much more simple process. I’m just saying.

And I am really starting to get sick of this sort of thing from her. I think I need a time out.

But that’s not happening. I have to do dishes so I can get this thing into a bath, and then get it drying (need to get the washer clear too) then once it’s dry then it’ll be done and then I can move on with my life, and let this week of  constant “am I doing this right?” be nothing more than a distant memory. (Note, the pattern is right as written. I am just highly neurotic. It had been a while since I had gotten all crazy about my knitting, about two weeks, and I think that I was due. )

There is the ribwarmer, not being modeled, maybe I can convince my mother too after I wash it.

I am happy about this, but not as happy as I thought that I would be. It’s a little big on me, but it just feels funny. I like it a lot though. I just won’t wear it enough. We really cannot wear the handknits enough.

The wool, a handspun Icelandic wool, left tons of lanolin on my hands, they feel all soft and well, oily. (In a good way, not like the godfather was oily.) I remember this slightly so when I was spinning it, but not a lot. It was sort of an impediment while spinning. However, during the knitting, it was nice. And a lot more significant too. (Maybe because I was spinning for an hour every other day or so, but I was knitting a little on this every hour or so. Working from home rules!)

The edging is a red applied I-cord — the best way to finish off any sort of garter stitch garment.

I’m highly caffeinated today, so I’m sure that all of the foregoing reads like utter nonsense.