Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There does seem to be some serious ennui going on as regards blogging, chez Yarnpirate. "I knit. Oh, then? I knit some more. I spun a little bit and plied. Hey, then? You'll never guess what then! I KNIT. No, really. SHUT UP! I know! I DID! Here, look at a picture."

Taught myself to cable today, taught myself to navajo ply yesterday and spun up some rather decent singles out of a bit of black merino a friend had given me to try. I am now no longer afraid of merino's shorter staple. But see? Boring. Just. Plain. Boring. And then? I ate lunch and then I knit some more.

Seem to be getting my antiwar back on and that feels good. I'd gotten very discouraged and stopped my activism for a stretch there - didn't seem to be doing much good, did it? The grrrl is going to a special camp being put on by Code Pink and the Ruckus Society called "Not Your Soldier" which is essentially a reverse recruitment camp for young people. Gives them training in being civilly disobedient but not letting their little teenage heads get carried away in the excitement of the moment. Teaches them about their civil rights. Gives them tools in talking to peers about the military complex and anti war issues. How much do you want to believe that some neo-con propaganda pusher starts calling this a "terrorist training camp"? For the record? Not like that. It is an ACTIVIST training camp. So yeah, Mr. Rove, shut the hell up and go make me a sandwich. No wait. Never mind. I wouldn't touch food from your hands. Just shut the hell up.

This is who I think about when I think about the war in Iraq. I'm so sorry he is gone. I'm so proud of him for going over there because he'd promised to serve and the government called his Guard unit up. I think he must have been a phenomenal man, and I'm sad I never got to know him as a man. Just a giggling, dusty blond kid in my memory, who I saw grow up in pictures on my grandfather's mantle.

So I found this knitalong called Peace Is Patriotic and I joined it. Knitting socks for babies and things for military wives and helmet liners for soldiers. Because I am a peace activist, I am a patriot, and no matter what I feel about Bush, Rove and the war, I have 100% whole hearted support for the men and women serving over there and the families they left behind here.

I knit some baby socks for that today and taught myself to cable on them. They're very tiny and very cute. Hopefully some happy baby at Camp Pendleton will have warm feet and hopefully that baby will have Daddy come home soon.

Monday, August 29, 2005

plying practice

It's not the best yarn. It's not the most perfect plying job. But ya know? It's plied and it doesn't look bad at all. I'll be using it for a set of yarn dreads anyway, so doesn't particularly matter if it's perfectly balanced for knitting. Wish the colors were more true. It's a deep blue plied with a scarlet/purple, so really nifty color variations going on.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

HA! I finished the first Venice Beach Ice Cream sock. BoooYAH! The colors were so ice creamy, so summery and the pattern so delicious, that I could not make it a long wintery sock and ribbing at the top didn't really work for me. SO... I cast off with a picot bind off and made the sock a little shorter - it's lacy and the bind off is ruffly, so it'll be cute and slouchy with summer tennies if the wearer so desires.

Cast on for #2. Go ME.

The picot bind off thing kicked my arse for a solid hour, but I finally figured it out. Sorta. It's like, picot lite, but without the cable cast on. Funny how you can sit and stare at abbreviations for a good long while and try and try and do it wrong, and then suddenly that light bulb goes on, you have a Mr. Head meet Mr. Desk moment and it's easy peasey from there on out. I always feel so triumphant when that happens. I made sticks and string do something new!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Boooooollywood. That's right kids, ain't nothing better than a Bollywood movie. If you haven't got some, go get some. My favorite is Lagaan, but there's so many others that kick butt. Some of the new Bollywood/Hollywood fusion stuff is pretty good too - like Monsoon Wedding, Bride and Prejudice, etc. What's not to love about extravagant song and dance numbers, fabulous costuming and kicky beats? That's right. There's nothing not to love. Well, actually it should be noted that when your husband is sitting next to you translating and it's things like "stop. hammer time. can't touch this." to all the songs, then maybe it's not to love so much as pick up a knitting needle and poke him with it until he stops.

Today the Yarn Fairy waved her wand, did a little stashbusting mojo and some random, fabulous yarn dropped into my lap unexpectedly. I am doing the "holy shit, CHRISTMAS!" dance.

She bestowed upon me... 3 skeins of Rowan all seasons cotton in a sort of coral color, 3 skeins of baby cashmerino in a gorgeous scarlet, 2 skeins (182 yards ea) of King Tut mercerized cotton, one in a leaf green and one in russet, 350 yards of Mountain Colors fingering weight wool/mohair in yellowstone handpaint, 190 yards cashmere fingering weight in Lost Trail handpaint, and 110 yards of Alchemy Yarns Synchronicity silk/wool blend in Rainforest.


Yes. The Yarn Fairy brought me cashmerino, fine cotton, wool, cashmere and SILK yarn.

yarn fairly

I love me some Yarn Fairy.
I hate my flash. It ruins every picture. Cobalt and copper recycled glass markers fit for a pirate queen, and a nifty wire holder to keep them on. The picture does not do the colors justice.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Every pirate loves some booty. Er. Booties.
hedgeblog said "that branching out looks beautiful with the varigated colors!! I have yet to successfully get through the first ten rows without screwing something up. But I need to convert the way the pattern is written to a different fomat so I'll be better able to follow it. I was going to try to finish it to submit for the state fair but that's not happenin'."

Have you tried charts? I still am not quite grokking the chart thing, but I keep hearing that it is SO much easier than the abbreviations. I had to frog this one a gazillion times. Switching to larger needles and worsted yarn is what did it for me. The pattern repeats are getting friendlier and more familiar as I go and I am finding the mistakes are not as frequent. I'm also getting the hang of tinking it if I do mess up, but I still use a lifeline at the start of each repeat. I saw a nifty trick that someone wrote out in an LJ forum. Basically you take an index card and you write out the pattern on both sides of the card. Like thus:

card side A
Row 1 probably garter stitch
Row 3 something redundant like K2, P3, YO K3tog 2x, etc.

card side B
Row 2 did I mention, knit?
Row 4 how about purl two.

I think it would work better with abbreviated patterns, I'll have to see if it works with charts. You have to turn the card over to see the next line of the pattern as you work, thus keeping track of what row you are on. I imagine you could do this for any large pattern and you could put a small tickmark next to each line as you finish it. Brilliant! It was someone's grandma's idea. The really cool thing is, not only does this keep track of what row you are on, but it also is waaaay more portable than the usual 8x11 pattern sheet or laptop and can go in your knitting bag with your WIP. Me, I've got a little composition book (like you see in school) that I write pattern stuff in and that lives in my knit bag, but I think the card idea is really handy.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Still here. I seem to have reached the randomly throwing up part of Effexor withdrawal, in addition to all the other fun symptoms which are not abating. And the ADHD not focusing real well on any one task part. Yay! We love this!

not really yay. not really loving this.

I'm not slacking though.

unblocked Branching Out
About 1/2 way through Branching Out. Not blocked, but you can see that the variegated yarn is still working pretty nicely for this piece, and honestly, I think the worsted weight will be lovely for some cold person this winter.

My friend is delivering her new baby this weekend, if all goes according to plan! So I got a bootie done. I have to finish the other. It's not really yellow - its' more like this really great bright chartreuse green with a lavender stripe. Very gothy colors, which is good cos these are gothy parents and their baby needs something chic. The other one is on the needles and I'll be able to mail it all out on Monday, I am fairly sure.
baby bootie

Of course, booties are nothing without a matching hat.
baby hat

I made some stitch markers because I got a few Sivia Harding lace patterns and realized that my eighty dollar stitch markers/wine glass markers were way too heavy and would snag on lacy yarn.
blue markers

A few other random stitch markers in various colors to mix it up a little.
mixed markers

Then there's Cam's sock, which is slowly growing, a repeat or two a day.

Yep. Still here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This is not about knitting

Still alive. Still here.

I'm not really usually vocal about depression with people outside my actual circle of friends and family. I don't talk about it here, for example, because this is my "public" blog and I don't know who is reading it. But I don't know if that matters so much now and I wonder if hiding isn't exactly what allows the pharmeceutical industry to keep drugs that are dangerous on the market.

I think Effexor can be a really dangerous drug

I'm not a big voice. I'm a little voice. But I'm going to speak to what I am going through in the hopes that maybe even one person will find value here.

Ya wanna know what some of the documented withdrawal symptoms are, when withdrawing from Effexor? Here, let me tell you!

Wyeth-Ayerst, the manufacturer of effexor and effexor xr, did a survey of all the patients in the clinical trial's testing program. According to their method of counting, 35% of the Effexor patients experienced withdrawal symptoms ranging from a flu-like syndrome to insomnia, nausea, nervousness, and loss of energy.

Also, from the FDA medical products reporting program, the list of withdrawal symptoms from effexor include:

agitation, anorexia, anxiety, confusion, coordination impaired, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, dysphoric mood, fasciculation, fatigue, headaches, hypomania, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, sensory disturbances (including shock-like electrical sensations), somnolence, sweating, tremor, vertigo, and vomiting.

One more common effect not mentioned above is long term vision problems.

Most likely, 35 percent is an underestimate of Effexor's withdrawal problems.

So what the heck is Effexor anyway?

Here's what one person experienced.

Some other folks chimed in with this.

There is so much of this out there, I can't link to it all. You couldnt' read it all. You would not want to. It blurs together after a while.

I started taking Effexor two years ago on my doctor's advice for a mild depression. It was not the drug for me, though it worked well in the beginning. Slowly it began to cause problems and it took us a while to figure out that it was the Effexor and not me. It caused among other things, rapid cycling between suicidal depression and hypomania (sometimes multiple times in a single day) and mixed states. This quite nearly tore my life and family apart until we found a doctor who knew what he was doing and why I was all over the place. I have been slowly tapering off my regular dose of 150 mg of this drug since February of 2005. To do this, my psych doc put me on Welbutrin until I was stable and then we began slowly withdrawing me, using 4 week intervals between stepdowns of the smallest increment. They say taper. We tapered and then some. It has been hell, despite all the measures we took to protect me.

Here is what I have personally been experiencing over the last few months of withdrawal and more acutely in the last 3 days of the final step-off from this drug. I went from 37.5 mg (the smallest possible dose) to nothing on Monday and here you go:

Brain shivers, constant electrical shock sensations all over my body that are set off by things as simple as blinking my eyes, breathing and movement. Taking a shower is torture. Loss of memory. Physical pain at loud noises. Inability to process input from multiple sources, like the television, my children talking to me, the clinking of ice in a glass all at once is too much going on. Weepiness, crankiness, mood swings. Irrational anger at stupid things. I can't spell. I can't focus on more than one thing at once. I can't drive my car because there is too much to keep track of. Incessant craving of pudding pops and Indian food. No, I have no idea why. Just hand over the Jello and some tikka masala and nobody is gonna get hurt, ok? But I can't really enjoy them because I'm nauseated, having gi tract issues and I'm bloated up like the stay puffed marshmallow girl. Which is doing wonders for my self esteem thanks. I can't think straight. I cry at the drop of a hat. I want it to stop. I can't sleep. Panic attacks over just about anything. Anxiety, overwhelming. Cold sweats. Hot flashes. Muscle pain, body aches and other flu like symptoms. I've had a headache for 6 months.

About the only things that AREN'T happening to me right now are, I have not sprouted antlers and monkeys are not flying out of my butt. But give it time. It could happen. This is some whacky shit.

I'm not crazy. Sometimes I get a little depressed. Sometimes I get a lot depressed. Sometimes, I'm just fine. I may be on some kind of chemical stabilizer for the rest of my life or I may not be. Whatever you want to call it, mental health is an issue I have to be aware of and it is up to me to deal with it well so that I can live a good life, be a good mom and just get on with it. I didn't ask for this, but it landed in my lap anyway.

I hope that if you ever do end up being prescribed any kind of mood altering drug, that you do your research thoroughly before you take it and know that you DO have a choice as the patient. You don't have to take the first thing they hand you. Do not ask your doctor if some stupid drug could be right for you because the commercial looked good. Do more research than that, please. Your new drug is not automatically going to confer upon you a life that is perfect and that includes a hot chick and a puppy. You too could sprout antlers. You are your own first and best advocate.

I'll be back in a few days, I hope, when the worst is over. You may now return to the normally regularly scheduled knitting and light hearted happy blog.

Monday, August 22, 2005

So this week I am coming off the medication from hell and the side effects of this are no fun to say the least. Plan to watch me a whole lotta Montel, Oprah and Maury Povitch, yep. I'm knitting a lot and I'm a little cranky. My internal editor has stopped working, for example, my inside voice came out a WHOLE LOT today. Trust me kids, while that can be whacky and funny as all hell, you know I kinda do tend to at least TRY to keep a lid on these things ya know? Just a little.

Because most people really do not want to know what I really think.

So I may not be blogging a whole lot this week.

I did, however, get 5 perfect repeats done on Branching Out today, when I was not climbing the walls. So that's something, anyway. Apparently, if you want to master lace, all you need to do is go into an antidepressant withdrawal induced state and you will get it right away.

Who knew?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

How exciting! We got a bunch of hand-me-overs from a friend who was moving and IN that bag I found one *gorgeous* lilac colored angora sweater and one cream colored cashmere blend, um, thing... with, um... pom poms. I have NO intention of wearing either however they are made with YARN and that means I can frog them, salvage the yarn and knit something else. That's right. With the yummy, yummy yarrrrrrrrn. Did I mention angora? Cashmere? YUM.

Being on a budget doesn't suck when random fabulous yarn just drops into your lap for free.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

the boi and I went off to the dog park this evening and when I came home, the Schacht drop spindle was partially filled with very bulky, slubby but still not too badly spun yarn. Eldest daughter was enthralled with watching me spin today and was watching me park and draft with much glee - I explained some of the basics to her and let her give it a shot and I guess that later on when she was here hanging out, she decided to really give it a go.

She's decided to make herself a set of yarn dreads. You can see some pictures here of the amazing creations made by our friend Ashbet at Psysheep. She was kind enough to give us a mini tutorial on the process when out for C11 last spring and since I can't really afford a custom made pair, the idea of spinning up some roving and perhaps creating a set has been stirring around in my brain but I never did really do much more than noodle on the idea. Eldest child has decided that she's going to go for it and is looking about on Ebay for roving to use to spin herself up a hairpiece. Ashbet really does put some amazing yarns and hand dreaded rovings into her creations. Each set is amazing and unique. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Eldest child comes up with on her own after getting to see the stuff that A brought out in the spring. She's been so generous with teaching others in the community and sharing what she's developed over the years.

That's the nice thing about community. The sharing of information and the passing along of skills to one another.
Nothing like a raging, scorcher of a case of pink eye to get your day started. Mmmm, yes. However, I have discovered that you can indeed go out to Dungeon without eyeliner and not be forced to hand in your goth card. I was a little worried. But not to worry. So I danced my arse off for a good few hours straight, but left early because of 8am appt. for scorching case of pinkeye. Yarrrr.

I wish I'd brought my knitting needles with me to the club because there were these 6 really big guys in bowling shirts who'd tied on one too many and were NOT following the 'Rules for Spatial Boundaries, Etiquette and Interpersonal Relations at a Goth Club' and by about the 8th time one of 'em knocked me over on the dance floor, I literally turned around and almost slugged him in the eye. But he was built like a linebacker and Rainy's First Rule of Dancefloor Brawling is: If you hit first, they get to hit you back, it's a fair cop and you may not complain at your black eye the next day. He was a good foot taller and outweighed me by at least seventy pounds, so I was not about to open the door for Mr. Linebacker.

So I just, flounced off on my heel and huffed away in an audible snit instead.

That showed them.

Oh yeah. I'm that badass. Mmmhmmmmm.

I also threw back a couple of Shirley Temples, since I was out on the town for the night. That's my special drink and I have my favorite bartender who makes them for me every week and she always tosses in an extra cherry.

Today I spent the morning sleeping in after the doctors appt., and have spun some yarn and done absolutely nothing. After a rousing stomp and all those Shirley Temples, it was just what I needed. Brawls notwithstanding.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Fabulous Fiber Fest in Santa Monica at the Civic Center was absolutely, well, FABULOUS. FAAAABULOUS, darlings.

My friend Em the Invisible went with me.

I got there, whipped out my digital camera so that I could take all sorts of photos and make witty commentary in my blog, but sadly, realized that the memory card was in the drive at home. Because I am often lame like that. So lets see, what was there. Fiber. Lotta fiber. Met some gals from the local spinners guild and some local knitters. Lotta shiny. LOTTA SHINY.

I didn't really get any farther than the Carolina Homespun booth. That pretty much engaged me for the next few hours. Em and I were playing with spindles and then someone else came up and started talking and then Em began giving a little impromptu lesson and then the booth owner came over and started showing stuff and we ended up with a gaggle of spinners happily playing with wool. Which was kinda the point of the whole day, ya know?

A random act of kindness meant I came home with a Bosworth midi drop spindle and only went $20 over my budget for the day. You can see it here lounging sexily on top of some Blue Faced Leicester top. Mmmm. Top. See how creamy and sexy the top is? Imagine the yarn that will be spun from that top. Mmmmmm. Yarrrrrrrn. Did I mention, I've got a whole *pound* of this top? Imagine the sweater. Imagine. Mmmmm. Sweeeeeeater. /homer>

and also the Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle that I had budgeted for originally. Which is a fun little spindle and can be used for plying and also as a bottom whorl and to teach MY Em (the smaller) to spin, which I'd like to do.

Tiki approves.

I want a Bosworth mini next. Laceweight yarn, here I come.

It was a good day. We ate empanadas after. Now I'm gonna spend some time spinning. It's amazing how a good spindle does most of hte work for you. I'm still park and draft girl, but it's getting easier and my yarn is looking pretty good.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I finished Piglet's Kayak Socks!


I am very proud.

One undone thing OFF the needles. A few more yet to finish.

I'm on my second pudding pop of the day and I gotta say, it's barely making a dent in the stressy. There has been much arse marmotry of the bureacratic sort in my day. If I were a monkey? This would be a poo flinging day. I kid you not. I was on the 405 today and if I'd had poo handy, I'd have flung it. Just sayin. Some days are like that.

Thank god for the Santa Monica Fiber Fest tomorrow. Retail based therapy, except not so heavy on the retail because I'm completely broke. But, budget allows a small treat and thus I plan to buy a bottom whorl spindle (or maybe one of the Hi-Lo spindles) I've got a whole pound of dark Blue Faced Leicester top in my stash to be spun up into something yummy. This is the softest fiber ever. Yum. Delicious, really. And I desperately need another set of #0 dpns (5) so am going to be looking to see what they've got at the show. Though I can get Brittany birch at A Mano Yarn Center pretty reasonably, I kinda yearn for something in an exotic hardwood. Most likely, I"ll just look at those longingly and then go buy the birch needles anyway. Thus does reason win the day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

pointless much?

I am SO grouchy that I'm too grouchy to knit. I mean, I'm so grouchy that when I found out that they pre-empted House for something inane and pointless the Teen Choice Awards I seriously contemplated doing someone at the network bodily harm with a #35 knitting needle. Or a pudding pop. See, I've got a box of pudding pops. In fact, I've got one in hand. I'd have to go to Michaels for the #35's.

Apathy says, pudding pop wins. Though there's not a lot of bodily harm to be done with a pudding pop.

maybe I just really like the words "pudding pop".

pudding pop.

puuuuuuuudding pop.

this is where maybe the husband is taking away the knitting needles and backing away slowly and looking around nervously.

I still haven't fixed the blog sidebar formatting. A lot of the buttons are either gone or not working. I'll get 'em back up there where they belong eventually. Until then though, I've got (you guessed it) pudding pops. I am easily gratified by the little things, sometimes.
one is unsure but thinks the fix might be complete....?
I fought the blog. The blog won. It is doing ONE thing in IE, another in Firefox and working perfectly in Safari. Which means tomorrow, I have to take it apart, piece by piece, and figure out what minute piece of code I messed up so that it will just work, period.

I would so rather be knitting.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The blog code is messed up and I can't figure out how to fix it. And it's pissing me off. So I have my knickers in a wad.

Spun today. Well, spun and spun and said a lot of things like "shite" and "arse" and other even worse things like "wank" and vexed just a little bit under my breath, but I made some rather decent, not too craptacular yarn**. I think rather than focusing on very fine yarn, I"ll just set my sights on something in a worsted weight and try to do that evenly and balanced. *sigh* Harder than it looks, for sure. We are going to the Fiber Fest in Santa Monica on Friday. I am taking just enough cash for a bottom whorl spindle and perhaps lunch, and otherwise behaving myself like a very broke person on a budget ought. There's a bunch of crazy quilting stuff going on that I am interested in - I have a feeling that this trip will be all about inspiration and good ideas. Should be fun.

We checked out the Culver City Stitch n Bitch meeting tonight. GREAT FUN! I think this is gonna be a weekly thing, what a great group of women. I would really like to check out the Santa Monica and West Hollywood meetings as well, but I'm not sure I can justify all the time away. While at the SnB, I worked on Cam's sock. But if you are Cam, you aren't clicking on that are you? I didn't think so. Because then it would ruin the surprise. Here's a stitch detail of Cam's sock which also you should not be clicking if your name is Cam. Just sayin.

I believe I promised puppies, cats and knitted stuff, yes? Yes? I thought I did.

Here's Piglet's Kayak socks, still languishing in Second Sock Gulag

Here is why I don't take a lot of pictures of my stuff I'm working on.

Vintage Capelet I'm making in Lorna's Laces, isn't the Black Purl colorway gorgeous? I don't know how I'll deal with puppy and cats when trying to block this sucker. Heh.

Gratuitous Puppy Shot.

**Oh who am I kidding? It was craptacular yarn. But its' better than the crap I did at the last attempt and the next batch'll be even better still. Plus the bad words were fun.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Today officially started the beginning of Christmas Knitting! We were off to see March of the Penguins for the smunch's birthday today, and I needed something to knit in the theatre. Lace, no way. Sock? Well, I'm doing lace on the sock, so, no. Everything currently on needles is either lace or something I really have to pay attention to. Drat. Well, ya know, sometimes a simple knit is good, to break up the more complex stuff, so I cast on for a plain ole garter stitch scarf in Lamb's Pride bulky. One needs something to do while one watches penguins after all. I ended up hating what I did during the movie and frogging it after, but I've recast on larger needles, am about a foot or so into it and am much happier with the result. I think it will be a nice little giftie, come holiday time. No, it's not complex. That's okay. Mindless stuff can be good too.

So holiday knitting. It's begun. With any luck, I'll be done by (ha! - inside voice) November. I am not doing any interminable prayer shawls in Homespun this year, I swear. In fact, I am not doing anything in Homespun at all, not now, hopefully not ever.

Homespun:The Loathing A new roleplaying game for knitters.

Tenacity. Patience. Google.

I've been struggling a lot with lace, as you might have noticed. The vintage capelet has gone well, I'm past the simple lace bit and working at the decreases now. It's beautiful. I think I'm ready to cast back on for Branching Out. I still really have to concentrate on what I'm doing, but I'm starting to get a feel for the process, which is encouraging. I've got a whole list of skills I want to get to like sweaters and intarsia - but not till I've gotten this one under my belt. There've been a lot of tears and a lot of moments where I just wanted to give it up. Not gonna do that. I know the feeling of finally getting it will make all those tears worthwhile.

I've been thinking about where I come from when it comes to knitting and fiber. See, I taught myself to knit. It was just a little theraputic thing at the time, friends were doing it and it seemed fun so why not? I didn't expect it would become as all consuming as it has. Knitting appeals to me on many levels. I've gotten a great deal of satisfaction from learning various techniques and learning to do them well. Knitting affords me a sense of mastery that I've not had with many other artistic pursuits. It is that satisfaction and sense of mastery that keeps me coming back.

I've noticed a tendency in myself of late to feel frustration at some members of online knit communities who incessantly post questions about very simple things - things that I know are explained clearly in almost every knit book, that have explanations and tutorials on the web or that could be answered by the 50 posts to the community that were made previously, neatly listed with tags, in the memories. There is this wonderful community of people to learn from online now, yes. The wonderful thing is, a lot of those people have taken the time to put up those tutorials, answer these questions and tag the memories of posts that came before. The truth is out there. If you click it, they will come. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I totally get that sometimes you need to ask someone in real space. Sometimes, it takes someone to look at what you are doing and say "Oh, no, see, you want to adjust this here and do this," and then everything snaps into place. For example, SSK took me the longest time to get right. It is *so* simple, but until I saw someone do it, I didn't get it. Once I got it, it was a real forehead smacker. I think we all have moments like that. I like to learn by watching and doing, with an emphasis on the doing, but it is nice to have someone handy to talk to, when I need a push. I get that. I had to watch someone spin, for example, before I could get it. Sometimes a given skillset is like that and ya know, that's okay. But you better bet I had the roving and spindle in hand and spent some seriously committed time feeling perplexed and looking around for answers before I begged my friend to come show me the magic.

In school, I don't get the answers handed to me on a platter with a bow. I have to work for them. In that vein, I think it makes for a better knitter if one has to work for the knitting answers too. Please to take with a grain of salt. I'm heading for a career in library science and I'm a history major. I'm big into research skills. It may not be like this for everyone. I am also the girl who has flunked algebra three times, but damn if I'm not taking it again next semester because as God is my witness, I will get an A in that class, even if it kills me. Not knowing things pisses me off.

Does any of this really matter? Probably not. The only process I need to worry about is mine, after all. My frustration with some of the knitters I see (particularly on LJ) has been growing over the past few weeks and it stems from struggling so hard with my own process. I want to solve it myself. I want to figure it out myself. I want to do that because when I do master it, I will have WON. No, not a shiny prize but something in myself that is a little more dear.

Remember that big wide world of different knitters I was talking about the other day? Well this is just one little perspective among many. We all approach our craft differently. Maybe the lesson for me here is to approach other people with a cluebat or a roll of quarters for the clue machine little more compassion and a little less judgement. Working on it. It's all good. That said? I think I'm still an advocate of tenacity, patience, do-it-yourself, and Google, as long as it comes with a side of knowing when to give yourself a break and ask for help.

In my next post, I am going to have a picture of a WIP, a cat and a puppy, just to make up for the last few days of Deep Thots. I swear.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Can Open. Worms Everywhere. Oh dear....

A few days ago, there was a thread on the Livejournal knitting community board about someone starting another community for "childfree knitters". I must confess, I responded a bit sarcastically. Once I yanked my head out of my arse and really started to think, it occurred to me that maybe I could just agree to disagree and the OP and I seem to have left things on a friendly and mutually respectful note. I'm grateful for the experience.

One of the things I treasure about the various writers of knit blogs I've been finding on the web is that it is such a diverse and interesting group. We are not all the same, but one thing brings us together and that is our mutual and abiding love of fiber, yarn, sticks, string.... we are knitters, we are fiber artists, we are women and men connected by something interesting. If I only wanted to associate with people like myself, who shared my every interest, I probably would not be out there on the internet.

I realize this is not so for everyone.

But I still don't get it. When you start narrowing your world down to a tiny little sliver of safe people who are just like you, you lose something precious. You lose a diversity that most of us don't get in our immediate communities, you lose the opportunity to learn and yeah, you lose the opportunity to go "Hey, you're really not like me, I so don't agree with you on this one but I will listen and be respectful anyway." and trust me, there is nothing like having that experience to make you a more decent human being. Realizing you're being a closed minded jerk and STOPPING? That's priceless. May I always be willing do do that, this mouth to G-d's ear.

The internet allows us to connect with a wide swath of like minded people, but it also allows us to narrow ourselves down to a dangerously tiny subset and forget there is a wider world out there in which we must participate.

For the record? I don't care if other tea drinkers or knitters have kids, don't have kids, raise dogs or cats, queer, whatever. I don't care if the yarn of choice is nasty, cheap acrylic Red Heart (though I confess I'd feel compelled to send them handpainted superwash merino till they saw the error of their ways the dark side), I don't care what religion or what philosophy someone believes in, unless it's truly hateful or hurtful to others. I just want to have a broad community of people, who just like me, love to knit, and who otherwise are just who they are, which is to say, not like me. Because we are all human under the skin and that is where we are the same, where it matters. The rest is just, a chance to learn something.

It keeps it fresh and interesting.

But I gotta say one thing. If you call me a "breeder" or you call my children one of the epithets I saw slung around in the "childfree" discussion the other day? I will jam a #19 knitting needle up your arse nose until you beg me for mercy. Some things are non negotiable.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Have had to turn anonymous comments off on the blog, so sadly, unless you're a blogspot user, no comment. Because ANNOYING SPAMMERS think it is amusing to send me spammy things.

For the record? I don't like spam.

/Monty Python>
When you have to go to coinstar with your pathetic change jar in order to buy milk, you know that maybe its' time to re-think the state of the finances. It's funny, you know. You go on, paycheck to paycheck and you're doing fine and you have a little savings set aside, then BOOM, you need to have a fibroid removed from your uterus, the kid ends up in the ER, the insurance company is still dicking you around over a year later on HUGE bills, then the dog dies and you have another bunch of bills and suddenly you are months behind on the credit cards, bouncing checks, savings gone and barely making ends meet.

Yeah, it's gonna be tight over here Chez Yarnpirate. We'll make it, but it does mean it's gonna be tight. S'okay. I've got a really good stash and I've got my list for holiday knitting all set to go - enough yarn to knit 80% of my gifts and the rest are just the kids, so all is good there. I'm still gonna do SP6. I do get a montly allowance that'll allow me to do it and it sounds fun and I'm willing to give up some lattes and stuff for it. No conflict there. But otherwise? If the allowance won't cover it, it won't happen. Gotta lay off just about everything and get it all under control.

For the record, it's very embarassing to go to the store with a ziploc bag of pennies to buy milk. And for the most part, I don't have to worry about that. But lately? Sometimes? It's been happening with frightening frequency. I applied for a job at Borders today. Applying for a job at Starbucks later on this week. Nights and weekends, so I can keep homeschooling the kidlet. Hopefully something will pop. I can't afford free time right now. I gotta get a job. Well, a job in addition to the job I do which is raising two kids full time and taking care of a home and family. I need a job with money at the end of the week.

Thank GOD for a healthy stash. And you know? This is temporary. This setback.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

For the record? I am not knitting impaired. I am not lace impaired. See, what it is, is that Mercury is in retrograde, that is what it is.

The nice folks at say in this article....

"Here we go again... Mercury goes retrograde once again. It happens 3 times a year and it lasts for about 3 weeks. This time is from July 23 to August 16, 2005.

General influence of Mercury retrograde
Mercury rules over the mind's processes, studying, communication, businesses, travels and the like. When Mercury reverses its direction, all these areas are affected as well. The mind turns naturally inwards and people tend to analyze more the own thoughts and follow the common thinking patterns, rather then be curious and eager of new intellectual experiences or challenges. This helps the meditation or the thorough lonely long-term study of a specific matter, but it affects the study of new subjects, the communication with the others, the attention oriented outwards."

In other words? Don't try to knit lace. Don't quit your day job. Perhaps not the time to take up studying Mandarin. See:

"Don't enroll to courses, don't buy expensive Mercurian items (books, cars, mobile phones etc.), don't sign important contracts and do not marry."

Thank god I've got the wedded bliss thing covered. Can you imagine Bridezilla in the grips of Mercury retrograde?


"It is definitely a very good period for some actions. No time is completely bad for anything, there is a reason in everything happens."

Yes, like root canals and getting dumped by your hot boyfriend. I'm sure there are reasons for those things too. And bad hair days. Do we need a reason? Why bad hair days? Bad coffee? Can someone explain this? Also, what is the reason for the platypus and in particular, I want to know the reason for Lion Brand Fun Fur. Please. Someone just tell me that much and forget the platypus.

"The key is the reversed direction of movement: take any known Mercurian action, reverse its flow, consider the keywords "re-doing something", "double-checking", "finish the old projects" and there you are, you've found the good side of Mercury retrograde. For instance, you may want to read again a book you particularly liked, a subject you studied before, meet and discuss with old friends you haven't met for a long time, travel to places you've already been to before. This is an excellent time to work on old projects that never got to be finished. So, think about the things you started and never finalized."

Righty o then. I'll just put the lace down and back away slowly. I'll go finish up that feather and fan sock that has been languishing in the WIPs pile, or maybe work in some loose ends.

I'm still waiting on the Fun Fur thing, btw. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Secret Pal 6 signups are going on over here. Shiny!

Monday, August 08, 2005

banana slug...

Ever seen a banana slug? They're like seven inches long and BRIGHT yellow. Seriously. They're like the rampaging Godzilla of the garden slug clan, bane of gardens everywhere, loathed by Northern CA gardeners.

Don't believe me?

The last time I went home to visit my hometown, the place where I grew up and the place I couldn't wait to move away from but now wish I'd never left (that'd be Humboldt County, CA) I found a little boombox up in the upstairs bathroom, with a Mozart CD in it and a empty wineglass with the wine residue and a little saucer of pellets and the gun, laying across the counter. Pellet gun, there kids. Pump action. It's not like I went upstairs and found a sawed off 12 gauge or anything, so don't get your knickers in a wad. Not like we're talking hot NRA slug on slug action here. The window looks out over the backyard, porch and where the trashcans live next to the back fence.

After a bit of gentle coaxing, the truth came out. Dad had been having a little wine and relaxing one night, and, um, shooting slugs.

7 pumps for slugs on the back fence, to be precise. He says it's spectacular.

Faster than a shaker of salt, anyway.

My dad is a little strange sometimes, but he's mine and I love him. I'm sure he feels the same way about me, especially the part about "a little strange sometimes".

Hi, Dad! Hey you're famous now! I've blogged about you! It could lead to groupies.

I don't know why there are slugs in the garden, because my dad has it covered with black plastic and tan bark. I don't know why the slugs are still out there lurking. But they are. Go figure. I guess if you were a slimy yellow invertebrate with a nervous system the size of a mung bean, you'd be a bit slow on the uptake too.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

"What're we gonna do tonight, Brain?"

"The same thing we do every night, Pinky."

In my case, that probably involves cursing at something lace-like and muttering under my breath and manfully not throwing yarn at the cat, rather than taking over the world, but you never know. Check back tomorrow.

Is it a bad thing when you walk into a fabulous cafe and immediately think to yourself, "What this place needs is more knitters." and start plotting to get all the knitters you know there on a regular basis and fill up the chairs and yak about yarn and.... yeah. Unurban Cafe in Santa Monica is the coolest, coffee house, evar. EVAR. I think I want to, er, UNorganize some kind of regular knitty, coffee swilling thing there. Because really, I want to spend more time there. And the cafe au lait is good. It is funkay.

I have eighty dollar stitch markers on the shawl I'm cursing at tonight knitting. See, two Christmannukwanzaas ago I got the bright idea that I'd save us scads of money by making all our holiday gifts. And we had all these friends (well, two married couples) who loved wine, so I thought, HEY! WINE GLASS MARKERS! You know, those cute beady things you stick on a wine glass as a polite way of saying "Hey get your rotten, stinkin', germy hands off my wineglass you filthy Ebola monkay." to people at parties when they accidentally try to swill your Merlot instead of their own. Right.

So off I hied to Ritual Adornments and filled my wee basket with some lovely silver charms in a sort of Celtic theme and I grabbed a few strands of beads that shrieked "Glass! Vintage! Leaded Crystal! Austrian! Imported!" and some silver thingers to string them on and I took it all up to the register and that's when the clerk took out a gram scale and started weighing my loot. I had a sinking feeling at that point which only got worse when she informed me that it would be eighty nine dollars and thirty seven cents please.


Being a total weenie and afraid of the sales clerk, I shelled out the money and skulked home and tried to avoid my husband who found out anyway because he usually ferrets out the truth about these whacky hijinks pretty fast. Well, that and he balances the checkbook. Refusing to return them (I have my PRIDE, dammit!) over his vociferous protestations, I very adamantly made the wine charms, and then you know what? Yeah. I totally forgot to give them to our friends for Christmas. That's right. And I found them in about, oh, March. A, um, whole year later.

So they've been sitting in the cupboard all this time, doing nothing, not holding up their end, just sitting there gathering dust and eyeing the Merlot in a rather suspcious manner. Because, you know, eighty dollar wine charms and GOD FORBID we use them. Well, we don't use them because this story comes up EVERY TIME I stick one on a glass thank you very much. And every time the husband opens the wine cupboard he starts grumbling about them and looking at me and saying "Why didn't you just say I'm sorry I didn't realize this was REAL SILVER WEIGHED BY THE GRAM and put them BACK for god's sake?" and you'd THINK he'd just be OVER IT by now seeing as how it's been TWO YEARS but no, no, he's NOT, is he?

Well they make very nice stitch markers and when he rolls his eyes at me I can at least tell him that now they're WORKING instead of slacking in the cupboard, so just to think of them as little indentured stitch markers who are paying off a very large debt to society.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Every time I see a box of oh so cute wine charms on the shelf at Michaels or Ross, just sitting there MOCKING ME with a three dollar on sale price tag?

Yeah, that sucks.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

gauge swatch? We don't need no steenkin' gauge swatch.

Anytime you look at a pattern and think, "Well... I don't really need to knit a gauge swatch, do I? I mean, I could sorta... wing it. It'd fit. Sorta. And anyway, does size really matter?" you just know it's gonna end badly.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I have turned the heel on the sock! Venice Beach Ice Cream Sock #1 has a heel.... the yarn is doing all kinds of interesting stripy and wavy patterny things all by itself, and the pattern is documented (but not here yet cos it's seeeekrut) and for a while there, I was feeling very one with the fu this evening. Then I leaned over to pet the puppeh, accidentally snapped my dpn and the fu went away. Ain't that always the case?

But there is sock. It has heel. All shall be well.
I am somewhat excited.... it looks like I may be starting a knitting class/group at a local shelter and the shelter is gonna foot the bill for needles, yarn and supplies. How great is this? I love the idea of getting to share knitting with people and they can make themselves and other shelter patrons warm hats, scarves and blankets, not to mention the sense of community it can help build.

I joined the Church of Craft because to me, it truly is the way I touch and feel closest to the divine, something deeper than just myself, it is when I am creating beauty in the world. So in a way, getting to share like this? It's almost a form of ministry. I'm sharing my faith and my connection. I'm just not gonna be really pushy or wordy about that part of it. And that's ok. Quiet is good.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

You know, on the flip side of what I wrote....

My work allows me to be somewhat flexible in when I do things. If I want to leave the dishes or not do the laundry till 7 oclock at night, I can. I can sit, surf the net and knit or read a book for a while during the day if I like because my kids are old enough to leave me alone for a while. Or I can take a nap. I don't, btw, I spend a good deal of the day working around the house or schooling or whatever. But my point is, it's on my terms for the most part. I am not tied exclusively to someone else's schedule - while I must be mindful of the schedules of my family, there's nobody standing over me telling me I must do anything now, ever. There are a lot of things in my day that I am damn thankful for and I prefer this infinitely to a 9-5. I don't have to put up with a lot of the bullshit that my husband does in the course of his day. It doesn't mean that the bullshit I have to cope with is any less stinky, it's just different and preferable to me in general.

I do what I love, every day. I should be clear. I'm grateful that I get to do it. I'm grateful I have a partner who supports that, even if sometimes his support does not take the exact form I would prefer.

I just wish that society in general valued it more. It seems to be a pendulum that swings between SaHMs being undervalued for not "having a job" and working mums being denigrated for working outside the home. Whether feminist or a conservative, most people who aren't in the situation have got an opinion about it and are eager to share. Working moms feel like they can't win, stay at home moms feel like they can't win either.

I wish we could all win... That's all.

On a purely knitterly note? I have named the socks. They are Cam's Venice Beach Ice Cream Socks. Now they are official and beautiful and I am zipping along happily and about to turn the heel on the first one. Woo! Go me!
I am a feminist. What that boils down to is, I believe that women and men should both have the opportunity to live a life that is fulfilling, without a lot of gender stereotyping getting in the way. I get really irked by people who denigrate my choice to be a stay at home, homeschooling mom just like I get annoyed by people who malign women who choose to work outside the home. Either choice is viable, valuable and important, but what matters most is that families and individuals have the ability to *choose the lifestyle that works for them individually, for their family unit, and no matter what that choice is, get some support from their community and from their partners. Ideally it means that they not have to claw through a lot of crap to do it or hit a glass ceiling or deal with discrimination in any form. That's what I think, and ideally, the world would be moving towards that but I don't know if it really is.

I would like to see equality for all, in all the forms equality could come in. And respect. I'd personally really like to feel respected and valued for what I do and it'd be nice if that respect was a universal thing for everyone.

I feel the need to state here, for the record, that stay home parents work hard too.

We cook, clean, do the laundry, the marketing, care for the boo-boos, chauffer our mutual offspring hither and yon, pay attention to where said offspring are at any given time of the day, pay the bills, keep the place tidy as the aforementioned offspring try to mess it up on a daily basis, we care for the pets, we care for you. We know when your sheets need to be changed, when you need a clean towel and we make sure there is toilet paper in the closet. Because we're home, we spend a large portion of each day listening to an endless litany of stuff about Neopets, hair, and whatever our offspring find interesting in that moment, but which we do not.

For the record? I do not really care if S's hair is behaving today or that her eyeliner fu is not working or that E's Neopets are in a hotel or she is feeding them omelette. I do not care. I mean, I do care? But I care in an abstract way and I'm generally more focused on the fact that the puppy just peed on the sofa or I need to defrost chicken for dinner, or I haven't paid the phone bill and yeah, sometimes I'm just upset that my eyebrows are overgrown and I look like a yeti but have no time to pluck them and can't afford the eleven bucks to get them waxed. In the end, it does not matter, really, if I care or not. My kids will tell me anyway, in depth, about all of this and more, all the time, all day, every day. I smile and I nod and I listen and I ask questions because the nuggets of information that I do need to hear are usually embedded somewhere in the litany and it's important that I catch the one thing in twenty that is truly needful of my attention. Let me tell you? It's exhausting.

When the children or the puppy want to test boundaries or wear someone down so they get their way, 9 times out of ten, they start with me because I'm here. They also seem to instinctively know that I'm tired and that gives them an advantage in negotiating. Instinctively, they single out the weakest one in the herd for their attack. So I can't really ever afford to be weak.

Then there's school. I homeschool. That's a pretty big job. S is going back to high school this year but trust me, I do not anticipate a cake walk. On top of schooling E, now I get to be the afternoon homework nazi. Trust me on this one? It's tiring and you get really over it, really fast. You have to remember minutae off the top of your head for subjects that you haven't studied in twenty years, there is invariably something horribly important and time consuming that they "forgot" to tell you that they need five minutes before it's time to leave for school, you have to be the grammar cop and the spelling cop and you have to be on them every. bloody. second. of it or you know that the school will be calling you to complain about what a lousy job you're doing. If that's not stressy, I don't know what is. Nobody plays judge and jury like a homeroom teacher wondering where the social studies report is and the stay home parent is the one who takes all those phone calls.

Now, try to be the teacher on top of that.

I do not get days off, I work 24/7/365. There is no such thing as mental time off. I am not given regular physical time off, as a rule, and never without negotiation - asking someone else to cover me, and often I am required to pay for this time off in cash. At least folks who work outside the home are guaranteed time off and get a paid vacation each year. Also? As much as a commute sucks, god, there are some mornings when I'd love an uninterrupted hour to just sit and chill in traffic and suck down a latte and listen to NPR with nobody whining at me. Just sayin. I do not get weekends off and I am NEVER able to leave the office because I live at the office. There is always a pile of things undone that I must attend to and someone who needs my attention now. My spouse leaves the office, and I am his shoulder, ear, counselor and cheerleader. And then we have to talk about the bills and the kids and the money or the lack of it and while we're doing this, usually I'm trying to get the meal on the table and it's a little chaotic.

Sometimes I feel completely devalued in my job, in my role in my family. Because I lack one thing. I lack pay. That is the only thing in this American culture that has any real value, no matter what conservative jerks like Santorum and Limbaugh say.

I respect myself. I value what I do. I stand up and I hold my head high because what I do is amazing and nobody else on earth could do it half as well as I do for my family. But I don't get paid for it. I chose to do it for free and because of that, there's a large portion of the population that doesn't value what I do. I chose this. I want this. I love what I do, but that does not mean it's not hard or frustrating sometimes. It does not mean that I'm not occasionally driven to tears or inundated with job stress because I am.

Wouldn't it be great if there was some kind of Professional Mother stipend and you could earn money because the state valued what you were doing, ie, raising the next generation? How great would that be?

How sad is it that value comes down to money in the end.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

It's been a somewhat exciting morning/day/afternoon/evening Chez Yarnpirate. Our new puppy is perfecting the art of breaking and entering into places she's not supposed to be, broke into the elder sprog's bedroom and ate most of a Toblerone bar. Theobromine being fatal for dogs, she had to be rushed to the vet this morning, before I'd managed to drink my coffee or eat breakfast. Then on the way home from the vet I ran out of gas. Fortunately, I ran out of gas just as I was pulling into the local gas station. Unfortunately, I discovered that my ATM card was demagged and useless. Even more unfortunately, I had no cash. So I had to walk home. In something of a snit, I might add. I mean, I was just a little bit grumpy, really.

As I got in the door, I got a phone call from the vet informing me that the dog had not eaten enough chocolate to do herself any real lasting harm, beyond a bit of gastric upset. So could I please come get her and by the way, they'd removed her stitches from her surgery and no, don't worry, there's no charge. That was nice, the whole no charge + healthy dog thing. That helped. I do love the folks at Center Sinai Animal Hospital. They are nice people and on any given day, you can find them taking care of various rescue animals and foster dogs, in addition to the paying customers. My kind of folks.

So then I walked back to the gas station with some cash I borrowed from my houseguest, then drove said houseguest to LAX via hell the 405, so he could continue his travels, picked up the dog from the vet, have done a bunch of laundry and then the puppy gave me a bath I tried to bathe the puppy, and you know, it's six oclock, I've not had a shower myself yet or even combed my hair today, and I'm exhausted. I did manage to grab a "crunchwrap" from the drive thru at Taco Bell on my way home from LAX so I have eaten something today, but I don't recommend making a practice of it.

Can I have a do over tomorrow?

I realized why I'm being so totally OCD about the sock swap. I think it has something to do about knitting for another knitter - stuff I'd normally just blow off in something for myself, I'm unwilling to let go for someone else. I want them to be as perfect as possible. I mean, gosh, we're swapping art and time and energy here, you know? I guess that the by product of this is that I'm going to be a better knitter and more mindful of the small stuff, and that's never a bad thing.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Would you believe that I had to rip the sock out again? Yes, I did. Because I found a pattern I loved, got two repeats into it and realized that I did NOT love that pattern in this yarn. However, I've found a pattern that I am loving in this yarn, even after two fateful repeats, so I think we've got it. Which is good, cos, well, I thought I might be doomed on this sock project. Had to frog Branching Out. All 12 repeats. Because Pride caused me to leave out the lifeline and Hubris made me think "Oh, I've got it." and then Dismay pointed out the GLARING errors I'd made a few rows later and Clueless made it impossible to tink and... yeah.

The Buddhist concept of impermanence is really becoming something I grok lately.

We've had a visitor from the East Coast on his first trip out West this weekend, so I've been running about like mad doing all manner of touristy goodness. Frankly, I'm exhausted. The boys have headed out to watch some burlesque at The Derby (one of our friends, Ginger E. Lixir, is doing her farewell performance this evening) but I'm home chilling with the pooglins and the puppeh. So. Tired.

Kinda nice to just chill out, do a little laundry and get some knitting done on the sock.

Eldest daughter is home from camp and has a new hair color and hair cut. We'd gotten an email from teh camp director advising us and several other parents that our offspring were running an impromptu salon in the camp bathrooms, so it wasn't such a shock. She's gained a few desperately needed pounds, looks wonderful and had a great time. We're thrilled to have her home! Not, um, that we've talked to her much - seeing as how the telephone is once again glued to her right ear.... I don't even bother to answer it. It's never for me. :-P