Big Stuff!!

Well, need I say that this, a long hiatus from blogging, was a bit much. Even now, over break, I still have a hard time finding time to sit down and write a blog post. As usual, there are a thousand other things that crop up, things that really seem more pressing at the time than writing drivel to be read by no more than ten people. I find a list format would be useful for a quick update on what I’ve been doing for the past few months.

1. College. That time suck. I think I am stuck in that sophmore space — the newness has faded off, while the classes got harder, so really I just want to be done — I get bored easily and am ready to move on. I think about if I wasn’t in college I would have so much time, and do so much, then I realize that it would be like trading a fishing pole for a bucket of fish. Yes, it would be easier — for now. So onward I go, studying German (of all things! Kill me!), and English.

2. Work. Hey! Did you know that I got a job? Hey, did you know what sucks? My job. I am, what I like to say, a telephone research specialist for a data collection agency, which is a fancy way of saying a telephone surveyor. (Not a telemarkter. Call me one, I dare you.) It is awful, but it’s a job, which is what everyone says to people that have awful jobs and it is not the least bit comforting. However, they have very flexible schedules and were willing to give me a leave for Christmas break. And it’s second shift too, which I love because mornings are awful. (Tell that to my morning German class all next semester.)

3. Well, I started writing another book this fall. This one is about a heroin addict who dies. Because of this I now have a very incriminating Google search history. I mean for this one to be more experimental than my other books — thus making it more fufilling to write. (And I crave fufillment.)  The narration style is less direct and controlled than my earlier works — making this one more flowing and artistic.

4. The Beatles. I had listened to them before, but I never really appreciated them, you know? I recognized the cultural phenomion that they were, however, I never actually liked music. Then, I don’t know, something clicked in me, and suddenly it was like Beatlemania up in here. Guess what is playing in my ears as I write this?

(Also, as an aside, do you know why they spelled their band “Bea” instead of the more common spelling “Bee” ? It was due, in part, to the Beat Generation — a school of writers with whom I’m infatuated — there are like three beat books on my desk now as I write this, and one book of really awful poetry that was obviously trying to imitate that — but failed.)

5. Virginia Woolf. Are you afraid of her. For a long time, I confess that I was, till I had to read A Room of One’s Own and “The Mark on the Wall” for a class, along with Mrs. Dalloway because I wanted to, and fell in love with her beautiful prose, which walks the line between poetry and narrative plot.

6. Knitting! Well, I’ve been doing some of this. I finished my coat this fall, knit another vest, a few little things, and am working on a sweater now. I’ve been very busy, can’t you tell? (School was, um, like hell there for a little while — I didn’t really sleep for about three or four days there for a while during finals week because I had too much work to do, in addiction to doing 1-2 all-nighters a week for two months prior. My professors were doing that thing where I swear that they get together and try to kill me — the scary part is that they almost won.)

7. That part about the coat above? Do you remember that coat? If you do, you may also recall that it was the last project in Knitting Workshop. Yes, I guess that means I’ve finished it. It may sound like I’m not particularly excited about this, and that’s for two reasons — one, I finished it months ago, and two, I really don’t know how I feel about it. I will explore this more in an upcoming post; I feel that it at least deserves that.

And here I am, back at my old desk, my feet propped up on the same old tin, surrounded by cookbooks and dwarfing piles of paper, post-its with nuggets of wisdom taped all around me, and half-read books waiting for me to get to them — which I will, right now.

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Five Weeks

Okay, so it’s been over five weeks since I last made a blog post, and almost three weeks since I’ve knit a stitch. This sort of behavior is not acceptable! Of course, it’s not like I came without a large amount of excuses regarding my lax blogging and even more lax knitting. 

For starters, there was packing. I didn’t really start doing that till a few days before I left, mostly because that idea of dragging out suitcases and finding boxes proved to be far to much for me to handle in my ragged mental state. I did forget a great many things, like my sanity and hangers. (I forgot hangers last year too. I sense a theme.) So I just piled my clothes in the bottom of the closet. Live with it. 

Then I’ve got the big one, Classes. Boy, there really is a big difference between Freshman year and Sophmore year. Namely, you loose that two week grace period. Last year they sort of didn’t really make you do anything when you first came back. You had time to order pizza and have great sex and then stay up till three in the morning talking with some people you just met who seem like they’re really awesome. It was the time of long lunches, even longer dinners, and classes were really just your justification for this. Now that’s all gone. I have written two papers already. Learned more German that I thought I could (only those nutty Germans would find a way to have three genders).I’ve read three books. Pretty much everything. I’ve done it all. 

Except knit. Do you remember that coat? That coat. The one that only needs about a dozen ends to be wove in before it’s finished. The same coat that will finish off the 28 month Zimmerman project? (Lets put that 28 month into perspective, there are walking and talking children who are younger than this.) Part of me is waiting for the right time to finish it. Not in a rush between classes, but quietly, with a cup of tea, the way that I started this project. 

But part of me just wants to grow a pair and do it already. So what if I don’t finish this the way that I finish it? I’m not that same person (thankfully, I think). I’ve grown, changed since then. In some ways good, in some ways bad. I’ve realized the degree of which I’m not well. I also have lost a lot of my compulsive tics. (Not all though.) I’ve relaxed in some ways, sped up in others. Developed a love for Jack Kerouac. Developed love in general. I’ve seen some scary parts of the underbelly of humanity, but I’ve seen the best that it has to offer. I’ve needed crutches, been the crutch, stood up for myself, learned when to shut my mouth. I’ve learned that you have to put on your own life jacket before anyone else’s. I’ve become someone that I like at times, and that’s really good. 

And maybe the new me would just grow a pair and finish it off already. Well, it has to happen soon. I didn’t bring another coat, that was my plan. So I have to do it before it gets really cold out. 

Okay, so you know, I’m supposed to be working part-time. Really though, it’s a very large part of time. Like really just a few hours short of being full-time. (I wonder why . . . . ) (Did you get that sarcasm. I hope you did.) While I really don’t like this, I really enjoy the fact that I get closer and closer to being able to return to college each week. (I have got 25 days before I move back into the dorms, 26 till classes start.) And as I sit here and write this, attempting to ignore my sister who never ceases conversation and her two crying kids. (The one keeps asking for a bath and the other keeps trying to grab my computer cord.) 

And oh boy, am I ever looking forward to going back. Mostly because it means that I no longer have to be live-in childcare, and that I either get to quit or take a long leave of abscence from my job, which is slowly draining the life out of me. I don’t like people, I don’t like gas, and I don’t like hot dogs. I don’t like the uniform. I don’t like counting the ciggerettes at the end of the day, or the lottery tickets, or cleaning the grill, or stocking the grill. But I mostly don’t like the new manager — no one does and we call her Godzilla behind her back. (This is mostly because I work with catty old women and young catty girls. I am the only male, and I am really bad to perpetuate work spats. Because I get bored there, and really, talking about your co-workers behind their back is a fascinating enterprise.) She expects me to do my job, which I really don’t like, and she never helps me with my register, not to mention she does everything by the book, which means that I can’t ring up my own sales. But then how can I buy anything if she’s never on her register? All so frustrating. (25 days.) 

I’ve been knitting a little bit though, not to bad considering that I’m also trying to do all my reading for college before I start back, so that way if I miss a reading assignment it’s not the end of the world. (Considering that I’m taking three writing intensive courses means that I’ve got my work cut out for me, or means I have to write two papers a week for fifteen weeks. You’d start working early too.)

I still have yet to take pictures of that shawl and that sweater that I finished about a month and a half ago. I don’t know why. Leave me alone, I have issues. I should get to work on that; it’s not every day that you finish sweaters, and I should at least document it. But I’m so close to being done with knitting workshop that facing the idea of knitting or blogging, I typically, (as my publishing record this past year has gone), chose knitting. I’ve gotten a little bit done, though, take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What you can see up there is the first sleeve, with sheepfold running up the front of it. (I’m going to make that be the part that I saddle back and forth on later.) then there are two fish-bone cables running up the side of that, with a chain cable at the back, with increases on either side of it. (Do you see how the increases are turning into ribs, I did that, all that. I’m pretty proud of it.) 

You also can see up in the first picture, the snow cuff. This a technique that was published in Knitting Around, (which while it was written by EZ, the video for this book clearly paints this as Meg’s idea, like a lot of the things that EZ came up with late in her life. The more I look into this the more I see of Meg being the real genius.) No matter who unvented it though, it still is a very smart idea. The problem with coat cuffs is that, while you want them to be snug to keep out the bad weather, you also want them to roomy enough to fascillitate the wearing of other garments. So Meg came up with the idea of the snow cuff. You knit the beginning of  a sleeve like you would for a yoke sweater, only increasing a bit more, work till its about four or five inches. Then you start the sleeve for the coat on another needle (which is a bit more roomy than a standard cuff) and work for about two inches. Then you do this thing where you stick the cuff into the sleeve and then knit (or purl) according to the patterns on the upper piece. (I try and time it when I only have a few stitches on the front piece to cable on.) I like the way that it fits, really snug, and it means that the upper piece, (the thinking piece) doesn’t have to be as long as it usually would have to be. 

The second sleeve hasn’t been quite as lucky. 

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My favorite part about all these pictures though, is my T-shirt. I went last weekend with my parents to see James Taylor while he played as Blossom. (And to local people, I had NO IDEA how very far out into the middle of nowhere Blossom is. I was waiting for those guys with the banjos from Deliverance to show up.) It also sprinkled a little bit during the concert (and we were on the lawn) so I heard Fire and Rain, in the rain. James said that we were getting in touch with nature. Easy for him to say as he sits under his nice little pavilion. I smelled someone smoking weed at one point, which made me really happy, as I felt the experience would have been lacking without that. 

What I’ve Been Up To . . . .

 

Well things have been hopping here recently! I’m enjoying it though – it is much better than having nothing to do. I like to keep myself busy, and I’ve been doing just that. Here’s what I’ve been up to in list format:

1. I got a job! Yeah, I’m pretty proud of it. It’s at Speedway (a gas station that is not particularly widespread), as a clerk. I had my first day today – and I think that it will go pretty well. (Unlike the last two jobs where I worked for micromanaging idiots who didn’t understand that there could be an easier way to do things and didn’t like it when I dared to point that out to them.) The manager seemed pretty easy going, and the job isn’t terribly taxing. I also only work three or four days a week, which I like. So, back I go, tomorrow, at seven in the morning. (I really hope this isn’t going to be a trend.) But I am happy just to have a job. I called Tammy at the Yarn Shop and told her expect an increase in sales.

2. My next book is well underway. I think that I’ve got about 100 handwritten pages. When I got back from college, I didn’t have anything underway that I was really serious about. So I dug around in some of my old notebooks and found some notes a bit of a novel fragment that I’ve been working on ever since. I don’t know why I stopped writing this book — I found even myself to be charmed by some of the things that I wrote. The main character is an introspective one, and it gives me more chance to dwell in his thoughts and not his actions.

3. Knitting! I’ve got a lot on the go right now, (including an Aran Coat as soon as I clear the decks as I feel that the Aran Coat will take a lot out of me). But what I’ve really been working on a lot recently is the unspun Pereline. A pereline is sort of a poncho/cape/shawl thing, that I really don’t think will get used, but I’m making anyway because of KW. (I’ve only got four left, almost three, which is pratically two, which means I’m kind of done. )

I’m knitting this out of unspun yarn for a few reasons. I didn’t think that any of the yarn I had would work well for it, and I didn’t want to “waste” them on something that I didn’t think I would wear.  I wanted to use up some of my fiber in a way that didn’t require me to spin it, because I didn’t feel like it, and because I have a lot of fiber. A lot.  I also wanted to try this and play with it — something I will probably do more of in the future. (I’m picturing a garment made from this.)

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I put in a blue stripe in with the brown. It was funny, you could tell while knitting with it, that the blue was processed so much better than the brown.  Of course the blue was a little four ounce bit that I bought, and the brown was given to me in a garbage bag. I aim to have about as much of the brown as I do with the blue, and that means that I’ve only got about 15 more rows till it is I-cord city. I’m also going to sew it up the front for a bit, not the whole way, just so if I put it on, It’ll stay on. That’s always the problem with shawls isn’t it? You arrange them, get them looking nice, then drop something, bend over to it, and when you come up your shawl looks like something a little old woman would wear.

 

I Hate Titles

Good news to start off with. (It is not that big of a deal.) The local yarn shop came under new ownership a while back, and even though I haven’t been able to get there for  a little while (I never had the time and the inclination at the same time), I was finally able to make it today. I had to plan it in advance, but I’m glad I went. I chatted with the new owner for a bit, who was lovely, and the shop, it actually looked like a shop — instead of the random balls of yarn stuck anywhere there was a free shelf spot or bin. The half finished projects that littered the shop were mostly gone.  She bought new stock, and put all the old, (we are talking over twenty years old here) stock on sale. (I plan to buy a little once I start working, which is getting closer and closer, more on that later). The back room was cleaned out, and the register was in a place where it would be logical to put one. The hours are limited, but regular, and I’ll be going to their knit night tomorrow night.

And I’ve been making some progress with my knitting too — despite the never-ending round of scholarship essays, cover letters and applications. (I swear, sit me down in front of a sheet of paper, and I automatically begin to write down my address and work history.) It’s actually going somewhat well, considering that I’ve got a lot on the go, with more to be started. Since there are only four things in KW that I haven’t finished, I thought that it would be in my best interest (I don’t know why I thought this) to simply cast them all on, put them all around the house (as best I can, living with a two-year old who thinks that its fun to pull DPNs out of sleeve, and then lose on of the needles). I’ve got three things on the go, and I bought the needles today that I need to start my last project, an aran sweater/coat/ we’ll see how it goes. I’ve moving so fast that I my hands are blurry these days. (Did I also tell you that I’ve started working on another book in earnest too?)

Here’s what I’ve got on my Shirt-Yoke Sweater.

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This picture thankfully shows off the wonderful colors of the sweater. I’ve got the body done, plus what you see here. This project lives in my bag and sees work in the odd moments. A relaxing round done between emails, a bit done while reading a book or watching the children. I’m just past the elbow, with a few more inches to go. I’ve been thinking about this sweater for a while, and I’m pretty happy about it finally being underway. I’m thinking that this will be one of those workhorse cardigans — the ones that look great with jeans, and you throw on in the winter for warmth. I have a few of this (I think that the naglar is one), but I’m always looking for more. In knitting there is art and there is wearable. The two don’t often mix, because think about it, you don’t really wear that aran that you spent months of your life knitting — but you do wear that chunky cardigan that you banged out in three weeks when your life was crazy and you needed something relaxing. At least that’s true in my experience, you might wear your arans all the time — I don’t really.

This next project is one that falls more into the art category, even though it doesn’t look like it. Let me show you what it is, then I’ll explain.

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What you see here is EZ’s Pelerine, a very basic garment. You simply cast it on at the neck, work three double increases every second row till it is long enough. Then you cast off, maybe in I-cord, and then you’re done. It looks nice. EZ said it was very warm and comforting on cold winter evenings, which I’m sure it is, but I’m also sure that I won’t be using it too much — it will be one of those sweaters that don’t go with me to college.

Anyway though, I’m taking this to a new level. I figured since it is essentially a blank canvas, that I might as well have some fun with it. I thought about putting in a few cables, but nixed that idea. I thought about a few stripes, which I toyed with, but I swapped it out for what you see here. Look at the lower edge of that picture. You don’t see yarn, but you can see a tuft of fiber. I’m knitting this with un-spun fiber that I have in my stash. It’s a large batt that a friend gave me a while ago and that I haven’t gotten around to spinning yet. (I really don’t spin much at all any more though. My fiber stash reflects this. I haven’t added anything, but I haven’t really taken anything out either. It doesn’t help that I’ve broken both of my spindles.)

It’s really a pain to knit with — considering that I keep breaking the yarn. (It might be due to the way that I knit, or the fact that it’s not spun.) Note: this is not the Icelandic Wool that is sold by Schoolhouse Press. This is a hunk of fiber that was supposed to be spun. But then I decided not to spin it. I read about this technique a while ago in an old issue of Spun-out magazine, and have kept the idea in the back of my head for a few years now. I’m glad it’s finally coming into being. It is tough knitting, but I’ll keep going. More on this later.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

You know, how when you’re young everyone tells you to go to college, how much fun it’ll be, how much you’ll learn, how you’ll set yourself up for life? You probably have said that to  someone my age, and probably had it said to you when you were my age. I would like to pose the question to you, how did I end up here? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, and I guess that’s how I ended up here.

I am here. Here is the library. It’s almost midnight. I should be working on yet another paper (my third in a week, not due till Wednesday, thankfully), but I’m writing this instead.  I’m up to my elbows in work, with two exams next week, three the week after, and two research papers to write.  I have been exiled from my room, where I could be typing this, snug in my snug bed, because my roommate is having sex. (To much information, maybe, but it’s late, my inhibitions are low.) I am surrounded by stacks of dusty books, (a situation that is losing its charm fast). The dead bugs on the window sill are my only friends. I’m wound so tight that I might snap here really, really soon.

I had this Snickers cheese cake after dinner (I had a salad, I’m okay), so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. Plus I had dinner with this amazing person I haven’t talked to in almost a year. I’m also listening to A Prairie Home Companion while I write this. I’ve got a sweater (at home) that is close to being finished. I left it there, I can’t handle steeks and graphs and percentages during the end of the semester, and I didn’t want to cart it back home.  (And yes I know it is confusing that I use home to refer to both Wadsworth (where my parents live) and Kent, but they both have a lot of home-y aspects to them. I feel more myself here than Wadsworth, but my parents still live in the house I was raised in, so that means a lot too.) I also was just elected Secretary for the English Club, which is good, considering that I am an English major.

I know that I’ve got a really good life here though. I am confident of that. I am well fed. I am studying what I love. I am grateful for the chance to do this. And most times, I love it. I really do. The mornings with the sun rising beyond the trees in the distance, the fact that so many people here know things and can hold an intelligent conversation that doesn’t reference guns, children, or God. The trees that are just starting to flower, and the daffodils that are planted all around the May fourth area (I find that fitting. Daffodils are very peaceful flowers. And there is a bower of them!)

However, it’s nights like this when I just feel like giving up. Not on college, not even necessarily on life, but just in general. I don’t know how to explain it, but if you’ve felt it, you understand it. It’s dark outside, the wind is howling, and I’m just ready to be done. But I can’t be. I’ve got work to do, things to learn, and a life to live. And it will go on, and when I wake up tomorrow, all this will be in the past, and I will look toward the future. It’s hard to do that though, when your eyes are bleary, you either want sex, sleep, or to punch someone in the face, and the Japanese kid at the next table has been looking at you strangely for the past hour.

I didn’t intend for this post to be all sad and whiny. I hate that I’m sad and whiny. I always tried to be like a combination of Garrison Keillor and Jane Austen — witty, funny, artful, and charming. They weren’t always like that though, they had their moments too. Maybe it was because they are from different times (Even though Garrison and I are both alive, we still have a severe generation gap considering that he is in his seventies.) they didn’t share every emotion. Trust me, I am from the generation of sharing — we will spew any emotion if we think it will give us a slight amount of attention. Not that I am trying to do that. With my small (but lovely) readership I would certainly be barking up the wrong tree. There is more to my life than knitting, reading, and shenanigans, and while I typically try not to pour that here, I feel the need for an outlet, and I left my diary back at the dorm room.

It doesn’t help that even though I am really ready for this semester to be over, I really, really am dreading the thought of spending the next few months at home.

Oh dear, I’ve become one of those whiny college students that no one likes. “Oh, life’s so hard. I’m so busy. Wah, wah, wah,” Someone smack me the next time you see me.

 

 

(Please don’t really.)

I knit a lot

I do a lot of things while I visit my parents. (Schoolwork is not one of them, ahem.) Downloading music is one of them. Getting sacked is another, running into ex’s that you’d really hoped not to see again (always a delight after aforementioned sacking).  But the thing that I spend the most time doing here, it would seem, is knit. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much free time to knit. (Mostly due to aforementioned neglect of schoolwork. I was going to write it tonight. It’s almost one in the morning. You see my problem.)

But I am thrilled with the knitting output! Thrilled I tell you, thrilled. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath for so long that I’m finally able to release it. I’ve got one thing that’s all finished, another thing that’s drying right now, and another thing that I started yesterday and have a few inches on. Holy Knitting Batman! The two recent finished things mean that I’ve got 5 projects left in KW. It’ll be two years in June that I’ve been working on this. (I don’t know if I can finish by then what with crazy finals week and finding employment right after school ends.) Five! I remember when it seemed like being under twenty was an accomplishment. I’ve gotten a lot out of this — aside from a large pile of sweaters, but we can talk about that later. (I’m planning a big, moody, introspective, and probably over dramatic post for when this is all done. You don’t have to read it, but I have to wright it. (And yes, it will contain many cliches similar to that.)

The post today though, or tonight really, or this morning, will concentrate on The Stonington Shetland Shawl. (We will call it TSSS.)

Let me show you what it looks like.

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From the side.

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From the back.

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The whole square.

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The uber-French way.

And because I couldn’t get a decent picture of the edge — look at this one from a little while ago.

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The pattern was TSSS from Knitting Workshop.

The yarn was a Shetland wool that I pulled out of a sweater a while ago. I had just enough of it to do a shawl of a decent size with minimal leftovers. I don’t know how I was able to manage that, and I don’t know if I can repeat it, but I’ll do what I can. I started this on January Thirteenth (I remember this because it was the first day of spring classes.) So not too bad as far as finishing goes, but still hardly my best. (Consider that most of it was garter stitch.) But it is a good sized shawl and I’m pretty happy about it.

I also would like to take a minute to say a few words on shawls. To me, the word itself has a different meaning. To many it means that thing that little old ladies wear while they drink their tea in winter. To me, it’s a piece of fabric that you drape any part of your body when it’s cold. That can be shoulders, neck, lap, feet, anything.

There was a funny blocking story with this one too. (Every time I block and pin something the process is a bit different. I need a system. Who am I kidding, I can’t get a system for my life, let alone for my knitting.) All right, the weather has been nice recently. The house is crowded with all of us, and all of our stuff, taking up space. I didn’t feel like stripping my bed of it’s pillows and comforters, so I decided to block it outside. It wasn’t too cold out that day — the shawl wouldn’t have frozen. So I asked Brianna if she thought it was a good idea. (I was thinking that it might help to have another opinion on the idea.) She didn’t seem to think anything was the matter with it. So I pull out the foam tiles (of which I don’t own a full set) some towels and set to blocking. I finish it with few hitches and it looks like I did a fairly decent job.

I had a few things I also needed to do that day. I head into downtown, do what needs to be done, then visit my old friends at the bookshop. (The non-profit that didn’t fire me.) While I’m there, the weather turns nasty and it starts snow. I head home, not thinking at all about the shawl. (I didn’t even notice it when I walked past it on the way into the house. ) Brianna says, “I’m sorry I didn’t know what to do with your thing out there.” I suddenly remembered.

My shawl had blown off the table and onto a chair, all the tiles still pinned to it, and covered with snow. I had alternate fits of utter charm and frustration removing all the pins and tiles. But the parts that were not snowy were still dry and I didn’t have to re-block it.

Tomorrow, we will continue our tour of Scottish knitwear with a lovely (if I do say so myself) Fair Isle vest, knit mostly with Shetland wool, and sweet, sweet love.