Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nothing but good times ahead.

That's the eye of tropical storm Earnesto, headed straight for my house. (For those of you overseas and/or not aquainted with American geography, Charleston - where I am - is the lowest city in the picture, at the bottom center of the screen.) In all seriousness, since it's just a tropical storm and my house is rented, this is earning more of an eye roll and a head shake than any acutal worry. Especially since this one seems to be dumping rain and isn't windy. (I once rode out a tropical storm in Virginia that was maybe 1 mph below hurricane status. I watched the windows bend for an hour and then spent the night sleeping in the bathroom - the only room without windows. I will not be riding out any windy storms, ever again. I will be evacuating. Don't you worry.)

In truly amazing news, more mind-boggling than any tropical storm, the husbeast has suddenly realized that the more slack other people pick up with the baby, etc, the more relaxed I get. (Gasp.) He got up this morning and completely unpacked - the ten tons of baby stuff, and everything. He even put the leftover jars of baby food we didn't use back in the cupboard, and put away the last of a load of baby laundry I did before we left and had left in the laundry basket. I have hugged him and thanked him several times. I intend to do it several more. (We're all about rewarding good behavior around here.)

He is now out in the teeth of the storm, getting a hair cut and stopping at the garage to pick up some parts he ordered last week. That's my husbeast. (In his family we call this 'being a dog in the woods' - madly running from tree to tree, sniffing frantically. Figuratively speaking.)

The baby is coming down from her week-long sugar rush and is down for a nap. At grandma and grandpa's she learned the lesson that if she screamed long enough, she'd get pulled from her crib (not their fault - I was the one doing it, in sympathy for the other people in the house. There's only so long people can handle baby screaming, and when you get up toward an hour, it's time to give up, at least in public). Now she's home and she doesn't know it yet, but she might as well consider the next week or two like reprogramming in a prison camp. Heh heh heh. Get out the sodium pentothol, Dr. Strangelove.

Now I'm going to go knit, while the electricity is still on. We've got a camp lantern, but it's not bright enough for lace. I figure if I do my two rounds of the day (maybe more?) on the doily, then if the power goes off I can knit like a zombie on the Blue Shimmer for the rest of the day. In the dark, if I have to.

I just love the coast in the summer time. (Please note heavy sarcasam.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's aliiiiiiive!

And I'm home, and fairly sane (you should see how I spelled that on the first try, maybe you'd doubt me), and not too medicated.

I feel very neglectful. I haven't updated this in FOUR WHOLE DAYS. I think that's the longest I've gone without some sarcastic commentary since I started this blog. It was weird; I've gotten used to it, like how I used to keep a journal.


Saturday was a barbecue with some friends of mine from high school. We went and stayed for a whole hour and a half before the baby had a meltdown due to teething and we had to leave. It was nice to see my buddies, though. I ate too much, and the baby ate a lot of stuff she won't eat at home, because she saw ME eating it. Little shit.

Sunday was the baby's early birthday party. (The big day is actually Sept. 6.) Much cuteness. I will post some pictures, if Blogger allows it, when we dig out from under all this luggage and find the computer, discs, and camera. Between my family and the husbeast's, this kid now has a pile of toys, 90% of it educational stuff. They know me so well. (Hey. You can play, or you can play and learn. Why not learn too? It beats school in a classroom.)

Monday was... uh... oh. We ran over to Pennsylvania to see the husbeast's aunt and visit. That was nice too.

Tuesday was more visits to and from, and a photo session with the local home-town photographer (the baby wore the husbeast's sailor suit from when he was a boy; even the photographer, who has seen, what, ten MILLION babies, said "That's a cute kid.") and we went to the park to visit the duckies. And to my family to say good bye.

Then today we drove back here, just in time for the house to get hit by a tropical storm, sometime tomorrow. Not to mention driving through a massive storm cell in N Carolina on the way here. Fun. Excitement. Pass the tranquilizers.

Now we're home, and I've hugged my cat (and soon will again) and wallowed in the recliner, and all I really want to do is dig in here and refuse to leave the house for a month after all that visiting.

Oh... knitting?

I got to row 35 on the doily. Two rows per day (with a few days to spare) and I'll get it done. I measured a sweater I'd previously knit for my mother-in-law that she likes the fit of, and will now get to work knitting the Vast Blueness of the Blue Shimmer. I've still got fifty-fifty odds of getting it done, if I knit every minute I'm not working on the doily.

Did I mention I get nutty about deadlines?

Friday, August 25, 2006

More non-knitting ramblings.

The baby is napping. Everyone else is off working or playing or visiting junk yards. (That last would be the husbeast. He is truly driving me batshit. He's obsessed with fixing everything wrong with the Suburban that he's noticed on the drive here. It's a 1991 vehicle. There's no fricking way.) I am thinking I should get off the computer and go knit something (row 24 on the lace doily - no way I'm getting it done this week, why do I always set myself idiotic goals?) but of course here I am.

The one nice thing about the trip was driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. They're beautiful, and I really miss mountains, living in the flat-as-a-pancake low country on the coast. I wanted to take photos (always the best for my readers, right?) but it was overcast and foggy and rainy, so we're hoping the drive home will be better. I'm also hoping to get out and take some photos of some genuine Ohio cow pastures to subject you guys to... why, I don't really know. Visiting where I grew up is always a love/hate thing for me. It's soothing, in a way, to be back to my childhood, and in a way it reminds me of all the reasons I bailed and moved out of town at 18. But the family's here for both the husbeast and me, and we want the baby to grow up knowing them.

So here we are.

Several people asked what Hawaiian roadkill is, in the comments. There really isn't any. Hawaii doesn't run to large animals, just pigs, and they stay off the roads. (At least on Oahu.) I would say it's the occasional cat or bird, but not every mile like the deer are in the Carolinas sometimes. (What a happy subject.) Hawaii also has mongoose, but those little suckers are usually too fast and too smart to get hit.

My niece has had hairdresser training and I asked her where to get pink hair dye, and she's going to hook me up. (After ten minutes of "Why? WHY do you want your hair pink??") Right now it's kind of pitifully pinkish-ugh colored. The reason it's not white or pink in my Blogger profile photo is, that's an old picture and I had my hair dyed brown for it. Plus most of the back of my head still IS brown - it's the front around my hair line that's turning white. In streaks. So I look like the Bride of Frankenstein, or a skunk. Is it any wonder I go for colors?

So. Knitting. I'm gonna knit today. Not nap, or vegetate. Knit. Yes. That's it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Road trip + baby = shoot me

We spent about 12 hours on the road yesterday and are now safely in Ohio. There was much stopping for bottles and food and bottles and food and cuddles and diaper changes and bottles. And diaper changes. And food. I grazed my way up I-77. The days of driving straight through are over.

Yesterday I realized that I can tell where I am in the Eastern US by the species of road kill lying, toes up, at the side of the highway. In the Carolinas, it is deer. In the Appalachians, it is racoons. (You guys overseas know what a racoon is, right? Hahaha.) And in Ohio, it is groundhogs.

THIS was the grand revelation of yesterday, giving you an idea of the quality of my experience.

And the husbeast has yammered for two days about thermostats for the Suburban: Yesterday all day it was about how he needed to change it. Today it is about how he has changed it. Shoot me. Shoot me now.

Vacations are hell. I'm going to go knit lace now, and I'm gonna snarl at anyone who talks to me, and blame it on the drugs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So do I worry?

Or sell my soul?

The needed paperwork from the SC State Fair came in the mail today. The Blue Shimmer will be entry number 60666. My first thought: "So... does Satan like women's sweaters?"

A short burst of rational commentary.

There was something I was going to say that was rational, I know there was...

Oh. Right.

If any of you jokers out there get the idea to try the Wilton's food coloring on the hair deal, I really recommend against it. Way too much trouble for the amount of color you wind up with. In fact, unless your hair is silver-white like mine, the color will probably not even be visible. (This morning my hair looks like pink cotton candy. Arg.) If you do insist on trying it, do NOT shower to get the coloring out, stick your head in a sink or something. More food coloring stuck to my ears during the showering process than stuck to my hair. (Yes. My ears are pink. You should see my fingernails.)

While I was wandering around the house last night with my hair gooed up in pink dye, wearing my hair-coloring tee shirt splattered with pinks, purples, blues, and greens, the husbeast says "You know, the baby's probably going to rebel by keeping her hair one color and becoming a lawyer."

Everybody's a comedian.

Thank you all for the kind words over the medication insanity. I don't want to turn this into a 'whine about what drug I took today' blog, but when my moods yo-yo like this, I try to offer some explanation. (Belles said she wouldn't worry until I started saying nice things about Bush. Let me tell ya, if this were a political commentary blog and not a knitting blog, the profanity witnessed so far would be like NOTHING in comparison.)

Anyway. Today is packing day. I'll probably pack the knitting first. That's how everyone packs, isn't it?

Four more pattern rows on the Blue Shimmer.

Monday, August 21, 2006


The little black fuckers are back. I don't know what for. There's nothing left in the office but books and baby toys. They just wander on my desk, looking stupid and going in circles.

Napalm. I'm telling you.

And THEN - I tryed dying my hair tonight with Wilton paste food coloring. IT SHOULD HAVE WORKED, damn it. I used the same formula as when people dye wool (heat, etc) and it should have STUCK. Hair is hair. Wool, alpaca, my head, doesn't MATTER. Instead it all washed out (imagine the goriest bathtub murder scene you've ever witnessed, substitute pink for the red, and that's what my shower looked like) and it's stuck in the fricking grout of our cheap-ass tub which probably hasn't been re-grouted since the Reagan administration. I'd love to blame all this on the drugs but considering my hair's been purple for the last six months, I don't think that's gonna fly.

So an entire evening wasted and my hair's still white. Next time I'm thinking Lanaset. (Kidding.)

Plus tomorrow I have to pack up my life to spend the day in the Suburban Wednesday to spend a week in Ohio. OHIO.


Fuckin' happy pill shit.


Okay, the needed background. The part of your brain that does pain control (the hypothalmus, if you care) is the same part of your brain that controlls mood. (This is why most people in lots of pain are complete assholes.) Being in a good mood while in pain is like driving down the road with the emergency brake on. It can happen, but there's a lot pushing against you. Many people with chronic pain have the brain chemistry of people with fairly serious depression, but from a literal standpoint, we're not depressed - we're in pain.

That said, it's probably an obvious jump to the fact that one class of drugs used to treat chronic pain is anti-depressants. They elevate the brain chemicals that are squashed flat by being in pain constantly, by acting on the same part of the brain, yadda yadda. There is still a lot of resistance in the US to any suggestion of mental illness, let alone being TREATED for mental illness, so many chronic pain sufferers refuse to take these drugs, insisting they aren't depressed. I've tried them before (I'll try anything) and had iffy success with them. Because I'm not truly depressed, there is a 'happy pill' effect (weird mood elevation) that I dislike, but they usually make it possible to shake off pain more easily - for example, this morning I twisted my hand wrong and instead of taking narcotics like usual, I just stood there going "ow, damn it" for a while and then went on with my day.

So last week my doc put me on a new one (I tend to take them until I feel better, and then quit. Dumb, but I freaking hate them). It's developed for chronic pain people and supposed to concentrate on that 'shake off the pain' effect and avoid the 'I'm so fuckin' happy I want to shoot myself' effect.


The last couple days I've been in a suspiciously good mood, but not weirdly so. Not being in pain can make you pretty giddy and I've had those highs before. And I noticed I'm a lot more patient with the baby (which is why I'll probably continue to take this drug even though I'm so happy I hate myself) and my concentration is better (which bodes well for the lace knitting). I was wondering just how high the high would go... and then it happened this morning.

Noggin was running "Beside the Seaside" again - the song I have ranted about repeatedly. The one I say the writer and singer should both be drawn and quartered for. The one with the bended notes that don't fit into a scale and make my eyes squint shut. The one with the lameass rhymes that make me itch for a sharpened pencil and a writer's back to bury it in. And I caught myself thinking "You know, this song isn't THAT bad."

This. Must. Stop.

Anyway. I did the next-to-last increase round on the Blue Shimmer yoke. I'm up to 486 stitches, increasing to 532 total. (Sorry about the old 590 figure - that's from when I thought I was knitting this thing on size zero/2mm needles.) If Blogger takes the photo, here is yet another picture of the yoke:

...and it's not uploading. Bugger it. Suffice it to say, I've got one more pattern band to go and then I begin on The Great Blueness.

We leave for Ohio Wednesday. I should be nice and goddamn happy for the trip.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Uh, a blog post.

My new medication switch-over is going swimmingly and I'm half brain-dead (this crap is why I always wait until I'm near insanity or the husbeast is ready to divorce me - usually both - before monkeying around with my chronic pain medication), so today I'm just going to respond to comments. I'm not sure I could think of anything original. Besides, what's one more photo of the Blue Shimmer, indistiguishable from the last? The knitting is like my brain at the moment; running along at low speed without much interesting going on.

I will note, however, that the ant population in my office has dropped by 99% since I got rid of the wastesbasket full of soda cans (and probably candy wrappers). I think I found my sugar source. My desk is between the window and the wastebasket, so I assume I got caught up in the parade.

No more need to napalm the house. How disappointing.

April mentions that my Blue Shimmer victim must be a special person. It is; my mother-in-law. Half of you probably just choked on your drinks, but my in-laws are very kind and generous people and I knit them sweaters every year for Christmas as something special to do for them in return. Plus they know the value of a hand-knit, and either have me wash them when I visit or send them off to the drycleaner. And this year when I mentioned I needed to measure them for their Christmas sweaters, they waved their fists in the air and cheered. There's nothing like an appeciative audience. (My father-in-law is getting the brown and red jacket.)

Teresa asked where I get my lace patterns. I used to hit libraries and copy them, and paste them into my notebook. These days I buy pattern books, copy them and paste THOSE into my notebook. That way I can write all over the copies and the pattern books stay nice. The First and Second Books of Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel are available almost everywhere now, including Amazon. SchoolHouse Press has a great selection, and Interweave did a series of lace books a while back that should still be available, "The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffman" being the best of that lot if you're looking for doilies. Otherwise, overseas shopping can be interesting. If you get something charted, you can usually figure out what's going on, regardless of language; I've got some German stuff here that I can't read a word of. There are also free patterns on the web; just run a google search on 'free knit doily patterns' and some should pop up.

I haven't created my own doily pattern yet, but it lurks in the back of my mind; I've considered doing a Knitty article on how to knit doilies and of course using my own pattern as the example would be the least copyright-messy way to do it. Haven't yet, though.

Otherwise, it's a quiet Sunday; the husbeast is watching car races, the baby plays on the floor of my office, and the cat is snuggled down on some Australian merino, napping. I'm trying to get motivated to go out and buy some hair coloring, but I doubt it will happen today. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Perhaps I spoke too soon.

I'm off all the nasty medication that was making me a smartass bitch, and yet, today, I find that... well, nothing much has changed. Could it be, possibly, by slim chance, a personality trait, and not the drugs?? Hmmm.

Thanks to everyone for the anti-ant suggestions... I appreciate them. I've decided the number one thing I need to do is quit being a dumbass. I got rid of the wastebasket full of soda cans and thought "There, that's done it." Then this morning I got up and found about five hundred ants doing the back stroke in the dregs of a mug of tea I left sitting on my desk last night. Because, you know, everyone should leave sugary liquid sitting around when they have an ant problem. (The husbeast just HAD to catch me rinsing the ants down the drain and comment on how well my ant-proofing was going.)

And one of the little black fuckers just ran across my desk AGAIN.

I am reminded of the time I spilled soda over my computer and wiped down the outside and it didn't occur to me to clean out the inside and eventually when it started overheating we popped the lid and found a massive nest of cat hair glued together with soda stickies, layered over everything. I've obviously missed some sugar source that they're going for. But WHERE? (Not inside the computer. This is a different one.)

By some miracle, Blogger is uploading photos, so let's actually talk about knitting, shall we?
This is, obviously, what I've got of the lace. I'm not pushing too hard on it yet, because I'm planning to work on it in Ohio while I can't work on the Blue Shimmer. I prefer doing lace on larger needles, but this should look pretty cool when it's done. The pink is another of those controversial provisional cast-ons.

And this is the state of the Blue Shimmer:
Actually, I'm a little further than that but I'm afraid to let Blogger wait while I go take another photo. It started off with 190something stitches cast on, and I'm up to 440. About six more rows and I increase up to 500something. Once the yoke's done (hopefully by Wednesday) it goes on hold until I can get to Ohio and re-measure my victim to make sure all is where it should be. Then it's all that plain blue stockinette, knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting until I lose what's left of my mind. Should be relaxing.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Good News/Bad News

This is my 200th post, which I think covers the good/bad theme neatly. Hahaha.

Trish says that cane spiders eat cockroaches. You would think that was good news. The bad news is, they are the size of house cats. I have witnessed two cane spiders in the wild in my life (one in Aiea, the other in Honolulu proper), each the size of dinner plates and each capable of triggering fatal heart attacks in anyone with anything remotely like a bug phobia. TARANTULAS are smaller than these things. Prettier, too. Sighting one of these things results in screaming. I kid you not. I once had to apologize to the neighbors for teaching their children new words (of the four-letter variety) over a cane spider.

There are still ants on my desk, which I guess means napalm in the morning. (Burning down my house covers the good news/bad news all in one big swipe.)

For everyone enjoying the cuss-fest that had become my blog (and I know there are a couple of you out there), I hate to disappoint you, but my medication has been adjusted by my doctor and my 'internal editor' is back on again. Those tranquilizers made me say ANYTHING. Good gravy, the things I've said this week. (Hell, I even had a discussion with my doctor about anti-depressants and sexual side-effects and the entertainment value therof.) So anyway. Good news, I feel better, bad news, less entertainment for you guys. I'll try to be surly and swear a little, just to keep things on par. But no more discussions of my sex life. And I'll probably quit calling ants 'little black fuckers'. Probably.

I vegetated (and knit) all day in front of the TV, but my hand crapped out around nine-thirty in the middle of Stargate, so I didn't get the yoke finished. Heck, I didn't even get to the next increase round. But I did catch the episode of Eureka I missed. You guys were right. It was good.

And Blogger still won't take pictures. Pah. Double bad news at the end. Isn't that always the way?

Woohoo, Sci-Fi!

There's nothing like a Stargate marathon on the Sci-Fi channel to encourage a bit of knitting. (Bonus, it seems they'll re-run that episode of Eureka that I missed Tuesday.) I've been parked in front of the TV since about eleven this morning, when I realized they were running Stargate all day. The baby missed Jack's Big Music Show today. I'm a bad mother.

There's an increase row in that stripe of blue, between the needle and the tan jiggies: (I would post a photo of the Blue Shimmer Yoke here but BLOGGER IS FUCKING UP AGAIN!!??!!) If I continue to zone in front of the TV as planned until eleven tonight, and my hands don't give out (the big if), I may have the yoke done. Wouldn't that be cool?

I am also on row 19 of the lace doily. There are 90 rows total. (Well, 89 and a bindoff row. Says 90 to me.) I'd post a picture of that too, but NOOOooo. It's teeny tiny. I actually managed to fix a mistake in it earlier today and felt like Einstein (or a brain surgeon).

The ant situation in my office has backed off somewhat: I did the sneaky Science Geek thing (it's related to the Plant Freak thing - plants, bugs, you see the relationship) and used bleach wipes on every flat surface I could. The result is twofold; it kills any ants in the area, and it seems to wipe out their 'trails', meaning they get lost and wander around at the edge of where the bleach-wiping started, which would be my windowsill. (Option two involves buying an ant-eater, but I'm not sure the cat would go for that.)

Now, if I can track the trail back to the ant nest, I will do my usual greenie, tree-hugger pesticide solution: Dump a gallon of boiling salt water on the nest. Works like a charm. (Kills the grass, though.) So the ants are mostly under control.

The husbeast found a cockroach in the dining room last night.

If a cane spider shows up, I'm getting a flame thrower.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

There are still ants in my office.

...and Blogger is fucking up even more than usual. Sorry for the double-post, for anyone on Bloglines. I think I've figured out what I'm doing wrong. (It might not be the baby's fault - how is that possible?)

And the title has really nothing to do with the rest of this, it's just the first thing that went through my head when I sat down to write and saw the little black fuckers running in a little trail along the edge of my desk.


Alwen asks where I scored a 0000 circular needle. As I recall - and the memory is a bit foggy, these days, what with one thing and another - I custom ordered it through a shop in Virginia Beach, Virginia (that may have been called the Hook and Eye, but it may not have, too) when I LIVED in Virginia, which would have been somewhereabouts 1992. Ish. It was ordered from Germany (of that I'm fairly certain) and took about a month to arrive, and cost about $20 USD. It looks, for all the world, like an Addi Turbo. (I have compared it to my brand new Addi Turbo size one, and they seem identical, down to the floppy cord.) You may want to check with the company and see if they make circulars that small. It might be one of theirs. If you do find out, let me know. I'm kind of curious. In my latest round of small-needle purchases, I didn't find anything smaller than a size 0 circular, but I didn't look that hard. With the legions of sock-knitters out there, there SHOULD be someone making the smaller needles.

You know, in Hawaii, we used to say that the only cure for ants in the house was arson. Just saying.

Aha. Blogger is finally taking photos. Here we can see a lameass shot of me wearing the yoke of the Blue Shimmer. You can't tell much from the photo (except that my photography sucks, which I've said all along), but you can tell the yoke is acting like a yoke. I put it back on the needles and did another increase round; I'm up to 440 stitches and those rounds are really starting to take a while.

I considered working on the lace, but decided that's first-thing-in-the-morning knitting (I'm supposed to take tranquilizers as soon as I wake up but I skip that dose and usually have a good six or eight hours where I'm wide awake). The pattern I've chosen is one I've knit at least five times before and love for it's symmetry and the fact that it doesn't LOOK knitted. I just don't know how it's gonna hold up against the inevitable Orenburg Lace Shawl entry at the State Fair. Hopefully tatting thread (Alwen, you were right, it says tatting and crochet on the ball label) and tiny needles will count for something.

Did you know, ants are not native to large parts of the world, but were hauled in by idiot white men who were too bloody stupid to take care with the plant crops they took along with them? (That's how ants got to Hawaii - in the sugar cane.)

You know, arson is looking like a fine answer to this ant problem.

Yeah. Drugs.

(In case you got the un-edited version of this post, which is simply a title, the baby was on my lap and managed to whack the mouse button at JUST the wrong moment. Figures.)

Remember me saying drugged knitting was okay, it was the drugged cutting of steeks you had to look out for? I take it back. When you're knitting a massive algorhythm like a sweater yoke, sobriety is recommended. And I've been on heavy medication the last couple days. (I have to make jokes about being drugged, because if I don't, I get really pissed and throw things. I HATE being like this all the time. Recreational drugs are all well and good, but living this way all the time SUCKS.)

So, the Blue Shimmer. The math is kind of off, but not so badly it's unfixable. Due to it being a top-down knit, I took it off the needles last night and pulled it over my head, and so far, so good (most people are fairly similar from the neck to the shoulder point; it's after that, things get weird). I took a couple bad photos in the mirror (I would upload them if Blogger did not have it's head up it's USB port), but essentially, it fits around my neck, hangs properly, and doesn't look like a giant napkin or Fashion by Omar the Tent Maker. ...that's good.

So back on the needles it goes, for some more increases in hopefully fix-it type places.

One good thing about all this, I went over the yoke looking at the increase rounds and checking them, and by golly, I can barely find the increases and I know where they ARE. Should be interesting to hear what the State Fair people say about that. ("The fabric grows, magically, when I wave my wand." That's what I'll tell them. I'll probably be heavily drugged at the time and look like I believe what I'm saying.)

In other news... well, there is no other news. I'm gearing up to go grocery shopping (hate that), and the baby is cute. I'd upload a picture of that too (sleeping with her knees tucked under and her butt up in the air - hilarious) but Blogger is fucking up. Like that never happens. Remind me again how it's free.

Oh, yeah, and I started the lace. I'm on row 10 of 86, and I'd rather knit lace on 0000 needles with sewing thread than use Doucer et Soie and size 10's. How freaky is that? I mean, it's EASIER and everything.

Sometimes I scare myself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Do I need therapy.

Trish asked, in the comments.

It's almost a trick question, like what color is an orange?

I'd say I need medicated, but I already am.

I'm knitting a sweater, on DEADLINE on size one and two needles (oh, and by the way? There's something wrong with it, but I can't figure out what - the math's wonky, like I missed an increase round, but I didn't, and I'm too drugged to figure it out), I've got some lace ON DEADLINE on 0000 needles that I haven't started yet, I'm watching a freaking flower die in Brooklyn by web cam, and I am a stay-at-home mother to an eleven-month-old whom I expect to come out with Newton's First Law, any day now. Or build a nuclear reactor. Or learn to speak Feline (did I mention she's making a noise that sounds like purring when she's happy? The baby, not the cat.)

Plus I'm so pissed at the world I'm amazed I'm not growing spikes out of my head.

There are ants in my office, I can't figure out why (okay, the open pack of Lemonheads drew them in, but I threw that away a week ago), and the ant traps seem to have made them WORSE.

And I missed Eureka last night, damn it all to hell.

Do I need therapy. Sheesh. Pass the chocolate.


I love comments! They give me some freakin' idea what to write about. I made a little list. You guys are in trouble, now. (For those of you coming late to the party, I've got a hand problem with nerve damage that's been giving me fits, and unfortunately the only real treatment for nerve damage is large doses of 'downers' - to use the street drug term - and I'm on two doses a day of a fairly strong tranquilizer. It's supposed to be three doses. Don't tell my doctor. Anyway, it messes with my ability to remember things, and think, and get jokes, and do much of anything but sleep.) My mother made lists. Lists and lists and lists of lists. Wherever she's at in the afterlife, she's laughing at me, right now. So I'm gonna follow the list and it's gonna be random, but I'll remember everything. Maybe.

Let's all hope Blogger lets me post photos.

The big deal this morning is, I officially entered the State Fair. The Blue Shimmer and a hunk of lace are due on October 4. (I am spazzing already, or would be if my nervous system were capable of it.) There was no scarf category, probably in an effort to keep every new knitter who cranked out a strip of garter stitch from entering. There WAS a scarf AND hat category, but no freaking way am I knitting a hat out of Doucer et Soie. So that idea's scrapped. I didn't really need another thing on deadline anyway. Especially since this is the current state of the lace I'm entering:

That crochet cotton in the little balls? Size 70. Essentially sewing thread. And the needles are 0000. (Yes, of course I own a 0000 circular. Don't you?) I took a photo of one of the little thread-balls so you could have some scale:

Of course the fucker's blurry. I've no idea where the stuff came from. Probably Woolworth's on State Street in Alliance, Ohio. (I haven't lived in Ohio since 1990.) I've been stashing crochet cotton for decades. I have sworn not to buy any more until I work through the two-foot-wide box of it I've got, but they're making some really funky new colors.

And while we're at the state fair project discussion thingie, here's what I've got on the Blue Shimmer.
I'm still not wild about the beige/brown/greyish tan background, but it is an improvement on that big swathe of chocolate brown slap across the middle of the gauge swatch:

And it's not quite as bad as this. So I guess I'll keep going. There are several mistakes in there, but they're consistent - for example, I was supposed to do one round with brown, knitting the brown stitches and purling the blue. I knit everything, all the way around. I'm calling it A Unique Design Element. I was starting to freak about getting this done, but then realized I started it a little less than a week ago, so... I might yet pull this off. (Whose idiotic idea was it to knit this thing on ones and twos, again? I think I was posessed by aliens.)

Other news is mostly updates.

I got a load of the damage to the Suburban last night when the husbeast came home: some scratches and a cracked turn signal lens. (I think the bulb inside is still intact and even works. Just the lens is cracked.) I understand there's nothing left of the Taurus he hit - it had to be towed away. Weirdly, it was an almost exact repeat of the accident that caused all my hand problems: He was going straight on a major road, minding his own business, and some idiot pulled out in front of him, making a left turn across traffic, and pow. But this time, no one was hurt.

Baby, the corpse flower over at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, has been pollenated (Was it good for you, baby?) and is dying back... I suspect that'll be as interesting as the blooming was. At least from six, eight states away, watching it on a web cam. I'm glad I'm not there to smell it. (Have I mentioned I was a botany student when I dropped out of college to have the baby, and plan to go back and finish? This won't be the last of your unwanted plant news.)

I went book shopping last night, and there seemed to be a common theme:
We've got a new book outlet nearby, and I love those places for buying huge, monolithic, full-color-printed books for six bucks each.

I wanna knit a sweater that looks like an old-fashioned map (preferably with dragons and krakens in the oceans) and I wanna knit one covered in alchemical symbols for the Anti-Craft, and I wanna do a couple dozen with edgings taken from the pottery decorations of different cultures, and something in lapis blue based on the city walls at Ur, and I've already started doing charts of the tile work of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and then we get into the actual CLOTHES people wore through history...

And our last bit of news. Someone doing a google search wound up HERE after entering a search for knitting patterns for, and I quote, 'gonad warmers'.

I snarfed tea out my nose on that one. I knew we shouldn't have discussed Freud and knitting. TRISH! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! ahahahaha

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You love me! You really love me!

Sometime in the depths of the night (that would have been mid-afternoon for you folks Down Under), I hit my ten-thousandth page load. I'm trying not to get all weepy and emotional like Sally Fields at the Oscars (what is it with me and the Oscars this week?), but I really do appreciate it.

Half of me is all cocky, like "Oh yeah, all these people hit my blog and clicked on everything." and the other half is "DEAR GOD, PEOPLE OUT THERE ARE ACTUALLY READING THIS STUFF." (Surreal moment on the phone with Best Friend yesterday - she started talking about something going on in my life, I wondered how she knew, and realized, she's been reading my blog.)

But anyway, thank you for reading. It's humbling to have people spend their time reading what I've got to say.

And in other news, 'cause it's always a circus (zoo?) around here - I just got a call from the husbeast. He hasn't been to work yet. (Usually he's there by six AM, 'cause the Navy is crazy like that. Bad guys never attack in the dark.) He's been sitting on Dorchester Road, waiting for the cops. Apparently someone pulled out in front of him and he hit them. No one was hurt, and he was driving his beloved 1991 Suburban (read: Sherman tank, only bigger, and blue), so he's got a tiny dent in the fender and one turn signal is busted. The other car is trashed. (This Suburban is so huge, as we ride down the road I yell for a stewardess to bring me a drink and a magazine - something fun I got from Uncle Fred.)

Never a dull moment at my house.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's like a day at the zoo.

Only... who is on the outside?

Other than that, the Blue Shimmer continues and looks much like the last photo I posted. The goal has been to go from one increase round to the next, per day. So far I've made it, but the increase rounds are getting further apart. I still might make the finished-yoke goal of the 23rd. (I want to re-measure my intended victim while we're in Ohio, so I know how much solid blue to add to the yoke, before moving into sleeve/body action.)

You know, having never knit a yoke sweater, and having never knit a sweater from the top down before, this whole thing's quite an adventure. Next time I want to go to Alaska instead.

Blessing counted: One.

I just got off the phone with my oldest, bestest friend in the whole world, where we'd had an hour-plus bitchfest covering everything from old boyfriends to new boyfriends, baby development, teen sex (wear a condom, ya crazy kids!), UN election oversight, ex-husbands, husbands, extension cords, and cats.

Among other topics.

Boy, do I feel better now.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

And tomorrow, 380 stitches.

I used to enjoy knitting with three colors per row. Made me feel all clever and dextrous and shit.

Lately I think it's a pain in the ass. Probably due to this being the third time I've knit this stupid yoke (if we count the swatch, which I sure do). I'm at round 33 of 70, so that's about half (if you don't allow for the cone-shape created by all those increases; if so then I'm about one-third done). Tomorrow I get to do the next increase row which will take me up to 380 stitches out of an eventual 590. (Try not to swoon, the 590 stitches deal doesn't last that long before getting broken down into sleeves and body.)

I'd really like to get this yoke done before we leave for Ohio, on the 23rd.

It's just possible I'm insane.

Anyway, this is what I've got so far:

You can see my half-assed attempt at short rows, there at the bottom (between the ribbing and the start of the color), to try to make the neck fit more comfortably. And I think I've got the brown problem straightened out. I think. Unfortunately I won't know for sure until after it's knit, and at that point, it's staying that way unless it looks like Cher at the Oscars. (Maybe even then.)

Scarf patterns are up.

I still wander in a maze of confusing directions on the jacket, though.

Anyway. The blue scarf, known as Beth, is here.

The purple scarf, known as Ally, is here.

There are also permanent links in the sidebar under 'free patterns and how-tos'.

Eventually there will be several more of these scarves to choose from, heaven help me.

The fee for using the patterns is, you have to send me photos of what you've done. That's the deal.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

All right.

I think I've got this ball-winder thing out of my system. Maybe. (The husbeast has been laughing at me for hours.)

For those who care, the yarns are, from left to right: A Regia self-striping sock yarn of some kind; two balls (stacked) of Koigu KPPPM in color WhatInHellWasIThinking; next stack, top is Schachenmayr Catania in a variegated something, bottom is indigo SilkyWool from Elsebeth Lavold that I think needs to be turned into a pair of Knucks; next stack in front, top, Elann's "Luna", bottom, some chenille; far right stack, top, Doucer et Soie (yeah, that's right, I went insane and wound a skein into a ball), middle, Lamb's Pride Worsted, and bottom, Plymouth Encore. The big stack in the back is more Plymouth Encore that will hopefully be made into a Weasley Sweater for my nephew for Christmas. (Yeah. Another Christmas job.)

Now if you'll excuse me, my winding arm is tired.

Odds and ends.

First of all, to those who were curious, the husbeast has been allowed to live. I decided I need him for bug removal and vehicle maintenance and baby sitting. (And maybe, you know, sex, once in a while.) But he has been snarled at, most sternly, and for a long time. I plan to inform his father - for whom this jacket is intended - that he doesn't have to worry about getting it dirty because his son has already TOTALLY GRUNGED IT UP for him.

More importantly, anyone know what brand of knitting needle this is? All the damn photos are blurry (of COURSE), but I think it's possible for you to see that the needle itself is metal (I think aluminum or an alloy, it's never rusted, even in the humidity in Hawaii) and a shiny silver, and the cord is gray plastic, probably nylon. The genius of these needles is that the join comes about an

inch up the 'needle' part, so that the shift from plastic to metal does not coincide with a shift in SHAPE. The plastic continues the metal's shape for about an inch before dropping down to cord thickness and flexibility. This needle's about twenty years old and I'd love to get more of them - due to the cord/needle join, it's so smooth that nothing snags on it except sewing thread. (Okay, I once used sewing thread on size two needles for some lace. I admitted I was insane a couple months back.)

Anyone have any ideas?

In other knitting-needle news, I got an Addi Turbo yesterday (that size one I'd ordered) and there, on the cord, was the SIZE OF THE NEEDLE, neatly, if microscopically, printed in both metric and US sizes. I wonder if it'll wear off, but if not, damn, won't that be handy? Leave it to the Germans to come up with something both technologically clever AND useful.

One other question. HOW DID I GO SO MANY YEARS WITHOUT A BALL WINDER? Great googly-moogly, I freaking love this thing. I wound off all the coned yarn I have for the Blue Shimmer into balls, and was found last night around eight, winding up some sock yarn from a perfectly nice skein, just for the fun of it. (The husbeast laughed at me and agreed, the ball winder was pretty cool.) I gave the leftover cardboard cones to the baby, and she chewed the crap out of them (she's teething again), so everyone was happy.

So I had this box sitting around, ready to mail, and it looked just about the right size...

Anyone want a baby? I can pop her in the overnight express mail on Monday. (KIDDING.)

The Blue Shimmer continues. This photo was taken yesterday morning right after the first increase round. (That would be the increase round that made me go all Norman Bates on it the last time.) I'm up to the second increase round now - chugging right along. I've separated the rounds into quarters, so I can put a fourth of the increases needed into one quarter, and count, and know it's right, and then continue on, so that I'll only ever have to tear back one fourth of the round to fix, instead of getting to the end of 352 stitches and realizing I screwed it up for the third time. (Did that make sense? It's early and I haven't had much caffeine.)

Oh, yeah, and there's a corpse flower blooming over at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. (I'm a Plant Freak. Samurai Knitter is a courtesy title.) There's even a web cam updating people every minute. If you're in the area, check it out. Those things don't flower very often and it may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance (plus they're native to Sumatra, it's not like most of us will ever see them wild). Make sure to wear a gas mask.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The husbeast dies at dawn.

I just re-washed and re-blocked the red and brown jacket after sewing down all the hems.

The grease spots are still there, but smaller. I'm going to have to do a spot-by-spot cleaning job on them.

I'd make him do it, but last time he washed anything hand knit he turned a blanket into a pot-holder.

Besides. He'll be dead by then.

Bugger it.

(How's that for a new title in my apparent stream of profanity-ridden posts?)

The baby's down for a nap and I should be knitting neck ribbing or eating breakfast, or napping myself, and here I am in front of the computer. I SWORE I would never again do a project-by-project review of Vogue Knitting, but... but... it's a compulsion. I can't help myself. And now that the folks over at "You Knit What?" have hung up their keyboards, SOMEONE on the 'net has to point out how insanely awful some of these patterns are. (Plus I'm in a bitch of a mood and this is a fine outlet that doesn't involve kicking my cat.) I don't intend to point out the hideousness on a full time basis... maybe, you know, quarterly, when VK comes out.

As always, all images copyright Vogue Knitting. All images from the VK web site, except for the Kors Monstrosity, which I scanned from the magazine (shoot me! shoot me now!). But it's all theirs. Text is my own unless it's in quotes, then it's from them.

And away we go.

First off, I must comment on a few of the articles:

There's an Entrelac workshop that'd be useful if you've never done it before, but the final project is a freaking COAT (uh, little large for a trial run, don't you think? How about a scarf? A hat? A dishrag?) that is insanely unflattering. Just the wrong length, just too bulky, and in case your waist hasn't been totally lost, they hiked the belt up to just under the model's armpits. They're going to claim that's an empire waistline, but I've seen empire waistlines and that's not one; it's a belt under someone's armpits.

Meg Swansen wrote a quickie article on sock knitting, mostly about her mother's forays into it, as she herself doesn't enjoy it much. (Interesting.)

Didja know Tracey Ullman knits? A lot? Neither did I. Probably the best article in the lot, and maybe the only thing worth spending money on in the magazine.

There's also an article on the history of socks that I take exception to (having done some fairly extensive research on the history of knitting myself), but that's a rant for another day. The person writing the article cannot possibly have ever studied archeology (yes, I have; though I don't have a degree I get the basic gist of it). At least they attribute the invention of knitting to the Middle East. But gloves knit before socks? Please. There's no fricking way. (Will not rant, will not rant...)

Photos from the fall runway shows, giving trends in knitwear. Whoever coined the term 'retrosexual' should be flogged. Or at least bitch-slapped.

Maybe if I'm still feeling bitchy tomorrow I'll do a review of the sweaters in the advertisements. The best part is often the look on the model's faces. "Get me out of this piece of shit, NOW."

THE PROJECTS: (I'll refer to them by number, not page.)

1. Got enough going on, in this sweater? Cables, Fair-Isle, belts, buttons, shawl collar, a partridge in a pear tree? I wonder at the knitting method, too; stranding the fair-isle colors across those cables is going to make for some real snag-ability on the inside. But knitting it any other way would be a royal pain in the keester. And it's JUST long enough to make your hips look like they belong on a rhinocerous.

2. This is nice, in that the shape/cut itself is figure-flattering, but can we get any more obvious about BIG HORIZONTAL LINES ACROSS OUR BOOBS? It's a big drawback to traditional designs, that horizontal stripe factor, but it IS possible to work around it. Oy.

3. Deep V-neck pullover with ruffled/gathered hem line. This is one designed to wear over something else, and anyone with even remotely generous boobs would be sending the message HEY LOOK AT MY TITS when she wore it (not saying that's automatically a bad thing; just saying). Plus I'm fairly sure that pretty waistline would add enough bulk to make the average waist disappear. (Dunno about you, but my waist needs all the help it can get.)

4. Cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves and a 'cutaway cropped' waistline. I kinda like it, but I suspect this is a Yarn Company Special (something a yarn company paid to have their yarn used in) because it's made of Muench's "Touch Me" which is so weirdly unappropriate for this style, and would cost a FORTUNE to knit. As I recall, "Touch Me" is 100% Rayon which would sag down to your knees in a second.

5. They're calling this a shawl, but it looks more like a scarf on growth hormones (you need to see it full length for the total effect; they cropped the photo for the web site). If they hacked it down to a useable length and width, I think it'd be really pretty. I like the floral stripes in the solid color. (Oh, but wait! If they make it small it won't use as much Rowan yarn that they're trying to sell!)

6. Blue cardigan in a light-weight yarn with multiple textures. Fifty bucks says they had to pin down the waist to make it hang right for the photo. Even with the pins it looks kinda wonky.

7. Blue V-neck pullover with a light cable pattern and gathered, almost puffy sleeve caps. (??) Nice enough. Probably not flattering to anyone with wide shoulders, though if you have a big bust/small waist combo it could look good. Though the bust only goes up to 40 in/101 cm in the pattern, so if your bust is bigger than that, VK doesn't care about you. (Will not rant, will not rant...)

SOCKS! There's an actual sock section this time around, which blows me away -- Vogue Knitting doing something that might be considered topical?? Sock knitting has been popular for how many years now? It took them how long? Oh well, pat on the head for effort, anyway. And they did use their pull to get in some good designers.

8. Meg Swansen's 'Arch-Shaped Socks'. A total trip, which I suppose should be expected. I'm considering an all-stripe ankle-high version for myself. (In something fun, like pink and orange, or pink and a variegated blue.) The foot shaping is a total mind-bender.

9. "Embroidered Knee-Highs". I can't imagine knitting these and actually wearing them, unless I had a lot of knitting guild meetings to go to, where I wanted to show off and act nutty. The pom-poms at the knees are... are... eek.

10. These look an AWFUL lot like Pomatomi, but with as long as print publishing takes, I'm not sure it was possible to rip off the pattern from Knitty and get it into VK this fast. Still...

11. Pastel lace socks from Cat Bordhi with some interesting (at least to me, but I don't cruise sock patterns too much) shaping around the ankle/top of foot to fit in the lace sections.

12. Nancy Bush (I worship her) weighs in with some insanely complex yet really wearable traveling-stitch socks inspired by a trip to Estonia. (Where else would a knitter go on vacation?)

13. Ribby-cable socks with red toe, heel, and ankle accents. Kinda traditional, kinda not. Kinda cool.

14. Stockings by Joan-McGowan-Mitchell. Pretty.

15. Scandinavian socks by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (to whom I also have set up a shrine).

I'm just so blown away by the idea of Vogue Knitting offering up sock patterns - something popular - by well-known sock knitters, I can't think of a negative thing to say. If they keep this up they might sell a lot of magazines.

THE DESIGNERS: "Four utterly diverse yet equally head-turning sweaters". Yeah. That's for sure.

16. The Michael Kors cover sweater. (I cropped the photo off the web site 'cover' page; the web site doesn't offer a full-length photo, for good reason.) This is supposedly 'long, lean, and luscious' and according to the cover, 'the sweater of the season'. My ASS. And everyone else's, too. I checked the pattern to be sure - NO SHAPING. Not for the bust, not for the waist. And it's long, hitting that just-under-the-butt line that makes even the skinniest posterior look like two iguanas fighting in a knitted white bag. If you cropped this thing off at the waist when knitting it, it'd make a nice enough cable knit. Though it's nothing special. (Except the yarn. It's cashmere. Cashmere to your knees. Another ploy to sell lots of yarn? YOU THINK?)

17. The Monstrosity. There are no words. (Well, there are lots of words. I'm trying to keep this post shorter than the Library of Congress.) Bet he was paid to use that super-bulky by the yarn company (which would be Cascade, FYI).

18. Patchwork bolero. Patchwork... bolero... Sophisticated cut... down-home fabric.... riiiight.

19. The standard knitted jacket found in every copy of Vogue Knitting since the dawn of time. (Shawl collar, a few cables, knitted belt.) This one's knit out of cashmere. Another yarn company special, I betcha.

HOBO CHIC. That's right, there's a section known as 'Hobo Chic' this time around. I'm betting this is the same stylist who put the fucking chickens in the summer issue's farm theme. Here the theme seems to be packing material. I bet they spent a fortune on THIS shoot.

20. Fuzzy rust-orange sweater with oddly ribbed sleeves and a cowl neck. With rope tied around it. Yeah. Makes what is probably a size-six model look fat. Oh yeah, knit me one of those.

21. Knitted jacket. Too many pockets, and what's with the gap down the front AFTER it's fastened??!!?? Hello, frostbite. The point of wearing jackets is to STAY WARM, which is kind of defeated if you can't close them. Honestly.

22. By Brandon Mably. I swear I've seen this exact vest somewhere before... darn if I can remember where. Kaffee Fassett probably knit it twenty years ago. And let's make it REAL LONG so it bags around the hips of everyone who wears it! SO flattering!

23. It pisses me off when I see bad finishing on sweaters in magazines. When I can do a better job than what's there, it's pathetic. (Look at the front left shoulder. The edges don't match up. Come ON.) And yet again we have a sweater that makes a size six look fat. PASS!

24. A nice pullover reminding me vaguely (for some reason) of Star Trek uniforms... that big vertical line down the front would be slimming. Epaulets, on the other hand are just... just.. oh, for crying out loud (maybe that's where the Star Trek mental link is coming from?) And it's knit out of alpaca. Hello, heat stroke.

25. Generic overgrown stockinette-with-garter edge coat, knit with a thick-thin variegated yarn that makes the whole thing look like one vast, giant mistake. Ungh.

GRAY'S ANATOMY: An entire section of gray sweaters. You know gray makes most people look like a day-old corpse, right? And they got a model with silver hair to model everything, and her hair doesn't match the sweaters... And people wonder why I dye my white hair purple. Eesh.

26. I like this except I bet the braid around the neckline is insanely bulky. And I wonder why she's posed like that. Bad sleeve caps? I bet. Or bad finishing on bad sleeve caps. Those seams look wonky.

27. Overgrown gray cable-knit. The cables are REAL BIG which means the fabric is REAL BULKY which means you'll look REAL HUGE. And another weird pose, again making me wonder what's wrong with the sweater other than the obvious.

28. A 'rib warmer' that doesn't cover the ribs. Why? WHY??!!??

29. I'm glad we've got a photo of this because I lack the words to describe it. All that bulk, slap on the middle of your chest. I repeat... WHY??!!??

30. Nice little pullover with some knit/purl texture. Wearable, especially if someone knit it in a flattering color. I wonder what happened. They're slipping up in the VK editorial office.

31. Alpaca cardigan. Heat stroke time. Not sure I like the asymmetric collar/neckline thingie, but at least it adds a vertical line to the whole thing.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: "Black and white and mod all over. Witness the magnetic pull of polar extremes." Yeah, RIGHT. They left this entire section out of the web site preview. Coincidence? I seriously doubt it. And who in HELL uses the term 'mod' any more? Do you guys use it in the UK? Australia? New Zealand? Anyone? Anyone? Leave a comment if you've said 'mod' in the last forty years unless you were imitating Austin Powers.

32. Knee-length coat in black and white diamonds. The bottom hem is ribbing so that it sucks in and makes the wearer look like a mushroom. The look on the model's face might be worth the cost of the magazine, though. She's THRILLED to be there.

33. Sleeveless pullover in some silveryglittery overgrown yarn with black trim. No shape. None. And extra heavy, black ribbing in the vague area of your waist, to bulk it up so it looks like you don't have one.

34. Zippered black and white jacket. When I was a little girl, I had a navy blue and cream houndstooth coat that would make my eyes cross when I looked at it. This jacket reminds me of that.

35. Beige seed or moss stitch vest/boob display/waist disguise thingie. With a bigass shawl collar to use up more yarn. But it's "Very Easy, Very Vogue." I guess that makes it okay.

36. Silver and black, horizontally striped pullover. The silver yarn isn't fuzzy, but the black yarn is, so every other stripe looks an inch bigger than the other. With a matching, half-assed... I can't call it a scarf. Long strip of knitting. Ever seen a woolybear?

37. Silver, short-sleeved pullover with a cowl neck hanging most of the way to the model's waist. (Hello, cleavage. Nice to meet you.) There's a big chunky belt hung around the model's waist so I assume there's no waist shaping and it fits like a sack.

And this concludes the Vogue Knitting, Fall 2006 review.

But probably not the bitchery. Hahaha.

What the fuck is this??!!?

...sometimes I try to clean up my language, but I'm married to a sailor... fuck it.


Last night I went out and picked up some knitting magazines (I should stop doing that, I really should...) because I needed to get out of the house and away from the baby. (She's at that stage where she follows me into the bathroom or else sits outside the closed door and screams.)

So. Book store. Peaceful. Quiet. Magazines. And I flip open Vogue Knitting (which I should never touch again, I KNOW THIS), and there it is:

Image copyright Vogue Knitting and Michael Koors 2006, yadda yadda, even though they don't deserve it. I scanned this right out of the magazine. I NEVER do that. Fuck the copyright laws, this is too ugly for copyright to apply to. It should be a KILLING OFFENSE, not protected under copyright law.

If you or I knit something that monstrous (nice big red diamonds on the hips, because you know, no one's hips look big enough anyway), you know what we'd do? We'd rip it right the hell back out again. We may not even mention it on our blogs. If we did, it's be something like "I tried a new design... it was awful, I ripped it out." WE SURE THE HELL WOULD NOT BE PUBLISHING IT IN VOGUE KNITTING FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD TO SEE.

It's Michael Koors (say 'ooooh, Michael Koors') so he gets away with publishing a pattern that is nothing but a disaster. If you or I would have submitted that to VK we'd have been laughed out of the office, not PUBLISHED.

What a fuckin' disgrace.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Removing a provisional cast-on.

This one's for Trish, who wanted to know 'how to get the pink out', and for Sienna and her boyfriend, who were wondering about the fate of the red and brown jacket.

The red and brown jacket needed it's cuffs hemmed, and lo and behold, there were provisional cast-ons to be taken out, while doing the hem! I used the long-tail cast on method with a contrasting color for the 'tail' portion of the cast on. In this case, blue. (In the case of the Blue Shimmer, which started this round of questions, it was pink. Color doesn't really matter, but anything contrasting makes seeing what you're doing easier. Plus of course smooth yarn is easier to pull out. Only a maniac would do this with eyelash.)

So here's what we had to start with: The turned-back but not hemmed cuff is on the right, and the finished body hem is on the left. Sort of a before and after.

Get some thread handy to do the stitch-down (I usually use embroidery floss), and start removing the blue yarn (or the pink yarn, or whateverthehell contrasting yarn you used). I suggest snipping off the long tail first, and then using the sewing needle to tug loose the extra yarn from the stitches:

Stitch down the stitches as you free them up. This is one of the advantages of the long-tail method for provisional cast-on. You have to pick it out when you're removing it, it doesn't just unravel on the spot leaving you with ten million loose stitches to chase down. Here's the operation in progress, with some stitches sewn down and some more blue yarn to be picked out:

That's about it for excitement and challenge. Work your way around the sleeve, knot the ends of your sewing thread together, darn in all the ends, and turn it right side out.

And you have a hemmed sleeve.

Would anyone be interested in some directions on how to knit the brown and red jacket? I wouldn't be writing up stitch-by-stitch directions, but I can give you the color chart and general idea of the shoulder shaping and you OUGHT to be able to turn out something similar.


Still Shimmering.

In case anyone got confused, I'm still knitting the damn thing. Just on size ones and twos instead of sizes zeros and ones. I'm most of the way through the neck ribbing (again) and the husbeast agrees it looks better - more flexible and, well, ribby. So I'm probably not just telling myself this to feel better for destroying the first attempt. (The husbeast is making noises about this like he did when I threw dishes at him, early in our marriage. I doubt I will ever hear the end of it. Fifty years from now, when I'm struggling with some knitting, he will say, "Well, you can always slash it to shreds with a knife.")

I did a crochet cast-on with pink yesterday (I swear, I will get photos soon, Trish); the yellow bits mark every 25 stitches so I dont' have to go back to the begining and re-count the whole thing every ten minutes:

That's it there. Sorry about the glare; my photography, as always, sucks. Probably should have cropped that a bit, too. Anyway. I used a size three, which is large for this, because it would give me a nice big cast-on so that when it came time later to take it out, I could see what in hell was going on. I then knit off the cast-on onto some double-point size ones. Unfortunately that makes the edge wavy and look like crap BUT IT WILL BE FIXED LATER.

See? It's wavy and looks like crap.

I also knit a couple rounds of plain stockinette before starting on the ribbing, for the same reason as the oversized cast-on: So when I take out the cast-on later and stitch it down, I can see what in heck I'm doing.

So anyway. The Blue Shimmer continues. I'm making better time with these bigger needles, too. I'm too stubborn to give up, especially after the money I spent on this yarn. Plus, what would I enter in the state fair?

Yesterday I placed an order at Halcyon Yarns for the new brown (remember the big stripe of brown through the gauge swatch that I didn't like? I think I've got that fixed), a knitting needle, and a ball winder.

That's right, I've made it 20 years without a ball winder. Mainly due to laziness and a willingness to hang a skein of yarn over my knee and knit from it. That's not gonna work so well with a one-year-old in the house. Plus these little cones of yarn for the Blue Shimmer are really starting to bug me. I'm gonna turn them into center-pull balls. Maybe they'll be easier to work with. (I've got one monster light blue cone for the body that I think I'm stuck with -- if I play my cards right I might be able to knit the entire body with no ends to join or weave in. It's almost like cheating.)

There was bad news on the needle. It was a 24" size one, for the body of the Blue Shimmer, and I really wanted an Inox, but apparently Inox only goes down to size two. (I'm pretty sure my beloved size two circular that I've used to knit piles of lace for twenty years is an Inox. I wish I was sure so I could buy a bunch more.) So, anyway, I got an Addi Turbo. I've used them before and I remember them being okay.

It can't possibly suck worse than the Susan Bates. (Annie? You hearing me this time?)

So, back to knitting and baby chasing. (There has been a shift in the balance of power -- the baby pulled the cat's tail, HARD, yesterday. The cat has been avoiding her since. Perhaps I won't be baking catnip cookies.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The last thing I'm saying on this subject.

...until I think of something else to say.


Way back in the dawn of my misspent youth (is it misspent if you worked a lot of weird jobs? I mean, I was WORKING, not lolling about smoking weed or in jail or anything), I was a certified EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). I didn't stay one very long (the Navy moved us and I lost my state certification), but the knowledge and terminology has stuck with me all these years. (And a good thing too. It's been useful.)

In my house, the statement "If I have to do control of bleeding, I'm gonna be pissed." has become something of a catch phrase. 'Control of bleeding' covers all sorts of emergency stuff - bandaging and direct pressure and elevation of extremities and tourniquets and pressure bandages - you get the idea. So it's my usual statement when I see people doing something stupid. And, unfortunately, in the Navy community I see people doing stupid stuff pretty often. The husbeast has picked up the phrase, and we're known to come out with it regularly. (And yes, we have wound up doing Control of Bleeding. And no, we're usually not that polite about it. "You dumbass" is a phrase that is also regularly used around here.)

I talked to the husbeast a while ago and he told me that while I was slashing the knitting off the knitting needle last night (I never MEANT to hack up the needle itself, that just happened), he was going to say "If I have to do control of bleeding, I'm going to beat your ass." but then decided maybe shutting up was the better part of valor. Though he did say it today. And called me a dumbass.

Ah, true love.

Okay, okay.

I spent an hour re-doing the numbers for Blue Shimmer Take Two, and it's almost like I was meant to do it this way. (Seriously.) The stitch gauge, 8.71 stitches to the inch, is much more sane (yeah, yeah, two decimal places, notice how stuff I knit fits when I'm done?) and closer to things I've done in the past, so I don't feel quite so wild-eyed about it. Plus all the increases sort of fell into place. There was no major head-thunking or husbeast calling or math gymnastics. I didn't have to fudge things by an inch and a half to make the repeats fit. It all fell into place. Maybe the knitting gods were trying to tell me something.

Maybe I'm trying to feel less stupid about that hack-and-slash incident last night. (Oh, like you've never lost your temper before. You're just smart enough to not carry a pocket knife in your knitting bag.)

Anyway, I'm going to cast on again (this time using a crochet cast on, alas, no one's around to take photos, I'll re-do it for anyone who cares - Trish - later tonight) and get to knitting again. Only a hundred and ninety-something stitches this time.

In the long run I think this was a good thing to have happen. Though in the short term it was pretty stupid.


If you haven't read Trish's reply to MY reply in yesterday's comments, you should. When I found them in my mailbox this morning I snarfed tea out my nose. (Snarf: verb. To expel liquid out your nose while drinking and laughing at the same time.) She also has some comments to make over on her own blog. Apparently I am supposed to be psychic knitter and automatically know what she needs to know... I'm going to start reading 'what's a _____?' as 'how would you do a _____?' Maybe that'll cover my ass. I can't have her taking the wrong side in the upcoming cat and baby wars.

I take exception to the description of 'going Mel Gibson' on her, though. (Over at her blog.) I was NOT drunk (mighta been a little whacked out on medication, but hey, IT WAS PERSCRIPTION), and I did NOT make any anti-Semitic remarks. (Is "Hey, dude, got some good kosher cooking? I haven't had any since Aunt Sue died." an anti-Semitic remark? 'Cause that's about as close as I get.) I will not even BEGIN the film critique. (THE BATTLE OF STERLING BRIDGE HAD A BRIDGE IN IT, MEL, YOU PUTZ!) Plus I'm not a short little zealot with a Napoleon complex. Nyeah.

Though I might be crazy.

I killed the Blue Shimmer last night. Things weren't working out between us. It was a ritual homicide.

I was on my fourth try of the increase round (increase from 208 to 280, somehow evenly so there are no puckers), threw it against the wall a couple times, beat it on the coffee table using the yarn tail as a handle, and started jerking it back off the needle to unravel for try number five. (Well, the throwing and pounding and all had already BEGUN the remove-it-from-the-needle thing.)

That's when it got snagged on that bad join on the Susan Bates needle. Then I got a little snagged, figuratively speaking.

Then I got a knife.

It's never good to carry a knife nearby when knitting, and I keep one (a small pocket knife) in my knitting bag. Just another helpful tip over here at Samurai Knitter.

So when all was said and done the needle was in three pieces and the knitting was shredded and I threw it all away and went off and took a bath.

I came out of the bath, and the husbeast (who had witnessed the entire scene as it played out in the middle of the living room) said "Do you feel any better?" and I said "No." and that was the last he spoke to me last night. Smart man.

Anyway. I'd been thinking that it needed to be done on larger needles (seriously) so I'm going to do the color on the size twos and the solid blue on size ones. (Seriously. I had been thinking this. there wasn't enough drape in the fabric; the more I knit, the stiffer it got.) Seriously.

The good news is, because I was a swatching fool, I've already got all the swatching done. I just need to measure it out. And there are no bits on me that need super-glued shut; I wasn't THAT far over the edge.

The bad news is, I have to do all that 'increase by 33% to a multiple of 3' math over again. I suppose that's the punishment for getting out the damn knife. Though the numbers SHOULD be smaller.

I've been a little stressed, lately.

Anyway, I guess this is a good time to show some provisional cast-ons. It'll have to wait 'til the husbeast gets home to take photos, though.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Trish's comments,

commented upon.

A word of warning, Trish is a good friend of mine whom I've actually met in real life, and she's gone back to knitting after a long break due in part to my nefarious influence. She e-mails me a lot of questions, and I attempt to keep up. So here we go. Brace yourselves.

The Great Minds and What They'd Knit Debate:

Trish: What about Freud?? I'm seing him as a bikini knitting sort of dude, then he'd blame it on his mother.

Me: He'd have knit a cigar and explained how it wasn't a cigar, it was symbolic of penis envy or penisness or penile disfunction or gonads and strife, in a bad Austrian accent sounding vaguely like the Terminator, until we all shrieked and/or threw up. Or he'd have knit something that looked like a bird's nest with not one real stitch in it while whacked out on cocaine. I don't consider Freud a Great Mind. (He was a guy with One Good Idea: see Eli Whitney and Henry Ford, among others.) And the concept of Penis Envy? HAH. I've got enough stuff flopping around on me without one of those.

Knitting Issues:

Trish: Inox circulars, all the way!!!

Me: I love them too. The craft store didn't have them. I'm ordering some as soon as my last writing paycheck goes through.

Trish: can you imagine Julie with clickety clack needles?

Me: Can you imagine me heavily sedated? Oh, wait....

Trish: how exactly do you take the pink yarn out? (I assume she means the provisional cast-on I've got going on the neck of the Blue Shimmer.)

Me: Slowly, with great annoyance, snipping off bits every few stitches. I'll probably have to get a swing-arm mounted magnifying glass to keep track of what I'm doing. I should have used a crochet cast on, which would just unravel right out, but I brain-farted and used a long-tail cast on which I will pay dearly for, later.

Trish: And why didn't you tell me that trick when I asked you that for the hat I am making???

Me: You asked me about yarns to use, and told me you were starting over because the hat was too big and if you'd payed attention to that gauge swatch article you proof-read for me, you'd probably know why. You never MENTIONED needing a cast-on for it. Ergo, I did not tell you about it. What am I, the Psychic Knitter? No. I am the Samurai Knitter.

Trish: Seems like you're keeping the good tips for yourself :::sniff sniff:::

Me: Ditto on what am I, the psychic knitter?

I will happily write a book containing every shred of my knitting knowledge. Get me a book deal and I'll get right to work.

I think that concludes todays sniping commentary (mine, not Trish's.)

Clearing up a few details.

First of all, the slightly (hah) frantic round of children's songs posted yesterday was due to this:

Which has got to be the most annoying toy in the history of the universe. It can be vaguely educational, like when you hit the proper parts it will say 'red nose' or 'blue ear' or whatever. But mostly it sings songs. Songs, including "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" that I used to enjoy before the last ten thousand repetitions. It also does "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and the ABCs and some songs on colors and numbers I've never heard before this and thought was kind of cute and clever for the first fifty or sixty go-rounds.

The baby, being a clever sort, has figured out if you sit on the one ear (where there's a switch), the dog will make noise endlessly, until either the batteries run out or (real goal), some grownup pays attention to you. She will play with the thing for hours, and most days it doesn't bother me unless she gets vindictive and resorts to ear-sitting. Yesterday was obviously an ear-sitting day.

I found this, this morning: a small pink shoe wedged into the top of the magazine rack. I think the baby gates were the last straw, and the cat and baby have finally begun the revolution. This is probably a secret sign to throw all their food on the floor in unison, or raid the knitting-needle jars, or chew on electrical cords together. I will have to be diligent. (Or just put them both in cardboard boxes on opposite sides of the house.)

Belle, in the comments, asked if I used a pink cast-on so that I could tell where I started. Partly, yes. It sure helps me tell what's going on. But really it's so I can find it to take it back out again, later. I dislike cast-ons for the most part because they're either too stretchy (wavy, wonky looking edge) or too tight (great-looking edge that won't move). So I often resort to underhanded-ness to avoid the problems involved. For most sweaters I use hems, and in this case I will be folding over the ribbing and stitching it down (not quite a hem, but not quite anything else either). When I do that, I'll pick out the cast-on so that the edge will have as much stretch as possible. And when it comes to picking out cast-ons, it's easier to do if it's in a contrasting color. For light yarns I use a huge (well, not HUGE, but I bet there's a thousand yards left on it) cone of Cotton Fine, left over from the only knitting I ever did for the baby, which she never wore:

And here is all I've got done on the Blue Shimmer: I've got the first of the increase rounds coming up; after that I'll have an idea just how big a mess this is going to be. But so far, so good. I think the measurements are close. (I sure hope the measurements are close.)

Sorry about the blurry photo... elves seem to have come in and re-set my digital camera to the old, bad settings. I'll try re-resetting them for the next round of detailed photos.