Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Llamas invade the blogosphere. News at 11.

Indeed. I guess what blows me away the most is just the attitude of the knitter who is the focus of this shitstorm. Who seems to think that she and her offspring got one over on "the Man" by cheating a LYS owner out of $30. Baffling.

After being smart and listening to my own Litany of Lame, I took a few moments to check gauge on my cardi back last night. I was .5 spi off. Which seemed to be making quite a difference in the overall size of the garment, actually, those .5's add up. I ripped it out, recast on (this involved hilarity when I could not get my count right and had to hand the needle to husband and ask HIM to please count loops as I was obviously on crack) and the result is better. I'm thinking I might gank the charted skull from Skully and stick that center bottom of the right front cardi panel. I'm also lukewarm about the furry trim because no pirate in her right mind would be caught dead in fun fur. We've already established that, no matter what the folks at KnitOne might think. I may just do button band and skip the fur bits.

I am an avid reader. I read all manner of books from nonfiction and history to fantasy, sci fi and yes, even the romantical. I have no shame, I'll read anything. Toothpaste containers. Just put words in my hand. So I was at the library with the pooglin yesterday and found some Taco Bell light, fluffy reading material by Debbie Macomber, called The Shop On Blossom Street. Not having read any Debbie Macomber, but seeing balls of yarn on the cover, naturally I ponied up to the counter and took the book home. I devoured in about two hours while knitting on the aforementioned cardi (because I am all about multitasking) and JUST like when one eats Taco Bell, I was left vaguely dissatisfied and feeling as if I'd wasted an opportunity (to eat a good meal or read a good book). I mean, okay. Yarn store, good. Premise, could be interesting. Execution? Not so much with that, thanks. Moralistic, badly written, preachy craaaaaap with 2 dimensional stock characters, NO plot and a predictable ending that I, er, predicted, about 1/3 of the way through the book. Gentle readers, before you get your romance reading knickers in a wad, please do not to be getting me wrong, I am the huge fan of Brain Taco Bell, I have almost every Nora Roberts paperback ever released. My shelves abound with the not so serious. I appreciate the value of a light, fluffy whipped confection because one cannot always be reading Suetonius and his ilk. Tacitus wears, after a while. You want to bitchslap Jane Eyre and tell her to get a life. I know. My point is that this wasn't even Taco Bell. This was like, a twinkie. This was the Hostess Snack Cake of light fluffy reading and a total waste of time and like a Twinkie will probably hang about in my brain and pollute me for the next five hundred years. So save your money. If you must read it, try your local library. You'll thank me later, I swear.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Spent the evening sorting out a dropped stitch that laddered down in a cable section on the trekking sock (#2) and spent a good deal of today swatching for Rogue. Of course, after swatching, I have decided that I don't particularly want to knit Rogue in the yarn I purchased for it. BWAH! S'okay, it's great yarn, I'll use it in something I'm sure.

LA being a very temperate climate, I think it'd be a little too warm, plus I honestly think the Merino Style would make me nutty in a hoodie, it's thick and a little itchy. I don't want it in a garment that I'd have next to my neck and skin. After swatching the yarn up, I also definitely think I'd prefer a more heathered or tweedy yarn for Rogue - the moss green color I selected kind of makes me worry about looking like a big ole Celtic elfy thing. It'd be okay in black. Just not the green.

Am spot on with that Merino Style gauge swatch for the Go Everywhere/Go With Everything cardi from SnB Nation, so there's a thought, anyway. BPT is also looking interesting. We'll see.

Mostly it was just nice to knit today and not stress about finishing anything.

I was sad to see that Octavia Butler died. She's a talented and skilled writer. Parable Of The Sower is one of my favorite books. Hey, speaking of books, I discovered this great site, Library Thing which is proving rather useful. Well, okay, it's shiny, anyhow.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

You want to know the very funny thing? After all that knitting of a pretty little pastel confection that is decidedly girlish with matching sparkly and ribbon bedecked slippers? The ultrasound is in. My friends are having a boy!

So we will call this the next Valuable Learning Experience in the Litany of Lame.

When knitting for a baby of indeterminate gender, knit something gender neutral. Or, buy backup yarn.
olympics sweater plus booties
The Rosebud Cardigan from Simple Knits For Cherished Babies knit from Jaeger Siena cotton 4-ply, in "phlox". Mother of pearl shell buttons. Matching garter stitch slippers, embellished with silk ribbon and glass beads. Done. May have Seams Of Lameness, but I did it my very own self and what do I want, a freakin' medal? Well. Yes.

Also, I mentioned how much my SP7 rocks, yes? I offer visual proof for the unconvinced.

*Having been given a well meaning "caution" about the advisability of glass beads on baby shoes, allow me to simply say this. I am not an idiot. 'k? Not only that? I'm an experienced mother of two, whose children survived the perilous and fraught baby choking years just fine, thanks. Largely due to my ability to discern and remove such hazards from their path.

Thank you for your concern. For f*cks sake.

Well hold the phone there, Ms. Kerrigan...

The Olympics end tomorrow. I checked the official site. I'm all good. I am GOLDEN. I made it. WOOHOO!

Knitting Curmudgeon was talking about the Knitting Olympics a few posts back and was not personally keen on the idea but said something in comments about wanting to know what knitters got out of it, what the point was, was there a point? I don't wanna spam her journal because lordie, talk about a shitstorm when you throw the rock of dissent into a pool of knitters who are all happily in agreement. Crazy stuff, yo. But here's my answer to that, this post, the one preceding and probably one or two after. Here is what I personally got out of the whole process, which I would have learned anyway, but because of the spirit of fun, competition with myself and the clock, blahblahdeeblah, I learned faster than I would have if left to my own devices.

In which we continue the Litany Of Woe And Talk About Being Lame And Things I Have Learned...

Another very important thing I learned is the importance of a S-E-L-V-E-D-G-E S-T-IT-C-H or rather, selvedge stitch in normal parlance when I'm not drawing my words out for dramatic effect. Say there was a back panel and when I was decreasing on said back panel, I did not k1, k2tog, k to end. Say instead, I k2tog, k to end, instead. That? That there would be missing the selvedge stitch point. Having never put together a sweater or garment, this escaped me and I did not rip back and redo. On later raglan decreases, I actually read the directions all the way through and so decreased appropriately and had the selvedge and we were all good.

I am one of those stupid people who often must make the mistake that she just got told how not to make, before she realizes the point of not making that mistake. Fire hot. That dog bites. You need a selvedge stitch. Okay fine, no no, just go on. Get burned, the dog is going to bite your butt and your seams will look totally lame. I'll just be here when you are done.

Say it with me. Selvedge stitch. Seeeelvedge stitch. You want one. It means you have a place to seam and your garment will not make you say "Hold the phone, OMGWTF, what is up with that?" when you are done. Or maybe you will, but it will be for some other reason and I can't help you with that.

Say also that the book says k1, k2tog tbl on one side of the back panel, but say I missed that tbl part and so knit into the front of the loops. This means that I have about two inches of decreases that do not look like they ought. Which is when I read the actual instruction and said "Oh, hell. It'll be fine. I don't want to rip all that back."

Okay. The MOST IMPORTANT THING that I have learned?

READ THE F*CKING DIRECTIONS, YOU YARNPIRATE. You are so not able to "just sorta wing it" right now. Read. The. Directions. All. Of. Them. Now, read them again. Yarrr.

Also? When you say "Oh it'll be fine. Hell. I don't wanna rip.", when you say that? You're being lame. It will not be fine. Yes, hell. Yes. Hell. We all know. Frogging blows donkeys for wooden nickels. Rip back anyway. Because honeychile, I am here to tell you that all those places you said, "nobody will know, I'm not ripping back." will be glaringly apparent when you go to make up the garment and you will weep and RUE your lazyass not ripping back it'll be fine nobody'll notice ways. You will weep bitter tears of woe.

Sweater done, ends woven, washing and buttons yet to do, but I made it. Probably yet more Litany Of Lameness to come as I continue my post-games sweater analysis.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Call me Nancy Kerrigan, I think I get the Silver.

I'm not going to finish by the end of closing ceremonies, I don't think. When was the cut off time? Okay, whatever. Fine. No big. I basically did what I set out to do, which is knit a sweater. Albeit, a small sweater. I'll probably be done with it by the end of the weekend, anyway.

In the process, I have run into some problems and learned some things and it has been interesting overall.

The obvious thing that's come up in the finishing process is, my gauge is way different on the front panels to the back and also the sleeves. The measurements of certain bits aren't matching up where they need to be matching. I was knitting way tighter when I did the back panel. I'm like, half an inch off in some places. This is a problem.

What did I learn? I learned that if I'm going to knit things like sweaters and garments where fit matters and pieces need to be a certain size, then I must check my gauge frequently during the knitting process and pay attention to my tension throughout. Make sure those measurements match up and things line up. The funny thing is? The looser fabric that's a little off gauge is actually nicer. Dammit.

I also learned to do a mattress stitch and a few other finishing techniques. It doesn't look very nice in spots. I mean, if I were to be totally honest, I'd have to say that my seams kinda look like arse. And not in an oh baby, what a nice arse way. My mattress stitch seams look nothing like the ones in the knitty tutorial. I think I picked up the wrong loops? Also, we do not want to get into those back raglan seams. I don't know what was going on there. Obviously, my technique needs refining. To remedy this one, I think I'm going to knit some swatches and practice finishing techniques, seaming and such, once this is finished, and before I cast on for Rogue. My LYS has a class in finishing, I really should take it.

So there you are. It was a tremendously valuable learning thing overall. I'm a better knitter today than I was two weeks ago and that was the point. So I'm just gonna let it go and hey, if I don't get a button for my blog, whatever. I was sitting here killing myself to finish and I just put the damn thing down, realizing that those seams will look even MORE arselike if I rush it. I got sick yesterday and I was sick all last night and I've been sick all today. And that's cool. I kept knitting anyway. I think it's more in the spirit to set it down and pick it up tomorrow if that means it'll be done right.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Foxy aka the younger sibling who I never had but wish I did, has succumbed to the lure of sticks and string and fabulous luxe yarns. I have known Foxy for many years online and in real life and we have shared many things such as bottles of wine, utterly silly D&D campaigns, way too many late nights on IRC, vintage port, a lot of pizza and a deep love of books. Oh, and wine. We both like the vino. It makes me happy that we get to share yarn and knitting too, Foxy appreciates well made things and nice materials and I know he's going to do shiny things with this craft. Especially now that he's past the Red Heart and Fun Fur I-Can't-Learn-To-Knit-With-Nice-Yarn phase and is now a fan of things like wool, superwash merino, fancy laceweight, etc. I am so excited by this fact that I might even forgive him one day for knitting me a Muppet for Christmas. He should bring down some vintage port when next he visits, to smooth the process. Just sayin.

See the Muppet?

I just wanna say that y'all are completely without sympathy for my poor, blue, frozen digits. However I have sucked it up and am gamely knitting away on that last teeny sleeve. I may even have this thing finished by tomorrow at 2, go figure! It continues to be positively Arctic here in LA, I just want you all to know. Brrrrrr.

There was also a SP7 package ON MY DOORSTEP today when I went out to check mail and I am squeeful. Thank you Super Secret Pal! I love it! I can't find the card for my camera so I am going to post a lovely picture in a separate post, but I wanted you to know I got it and it's fabu and thank you, it was all quite the shiny!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A frigid Arctic chill has fallen over Southern CA and it is 52 degrees outside right now as I type this. I have had to wear a jacket several times this week. My hoodie is insufficient. So is my favorite green emo sweater. TOO COLD. I think it is even colder than 52 degrees because we have had windchill. Seriously, there was so much wind at the dog park the other day, I had to wear a scarf and there was FROST on a friend's brother's cousin's car somewhere in the valley, I heard from my father in law. We are huddled in sweaters and wool socks, and my hands are so cold it is hard to knit. Frozen. Can't think, I'm so cold. Three dog night kind of cold (well one whippet and two cats, but you get the idea.) I had to quit knitting tonight because my hands were frozen and I am SO close to being done with the tiny sweater, I really would hate to lose my Olympic bid on account of weather.**

Shut up, you Canadians. Stop laughing. Really. I mean it. Stoppit. It's cold. It has been cold for DAYS. We've had like, a whole week of this frigid crap and hello, so over it. I would like our "cold month" to be done now and lets all move on into March quickly kthxbye.

Project Runway recap: Guadalupe, on drugs. Andrae, WTF? And that's when the windchill drove me out of the living room and into the bedroom where the down comforter lives so I missed the end. But the kids filled me in.

My 15 y/o, re Guadalupe: "I'll have what she's having."

My 11 y/o re Guadalupe: "I think she took a muscle relaxer. *pause* Well. Five."

11 y/o re, everything. "WHERE THE HELL IS MY CHIFFON???"

**it is possible that I might have lost valuable knitting time today because I spent several hours playing with my new toy, Library Thing which rocks like a big geeky thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Neverending Sock Syndrome

Do you wake up tired in the morning? Endure sore hands and stiff fingers? Knit endlessly and get nothing done? Watch yarn go in and nothing come out? You may be suffering from Neverending Sock Syndrome, or NSS."

Okay I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I'm pretty sure if I ask my doctor what pill is right for me, it'll come with a hot chick and a puppy.

Anyway. The point. I took a break from the tiny sleeve to try to get a little more done on my sock today. I swear, it is the sock that never ends. I keep knitting and it is not growing. Why? I do not understand this. The stitches go in, the sock does not grow. A mystery, I do declare. So I was sitting at Em's Scottish Country Dance class this evening, gamely putting in pointless rounds on the sock and a very nice older lady asked me how the sock was coming - she'd asked me about it THREE WEEKS AGO. Has it grown in that time? I don't think so. I sadly held it up and showed it to her. "Never ending." I said.

"Yes, but, lovely workmanship," she said back.

Made my day.

"Lovely workmanship."

A cure for what ails you, I do declare. I don't think I need to talk to my doctor about a pill after all.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

On behalf of pirates everywhere, I am just, sad.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I must confess than when I placed my order for the yarn to knit Rogue earlier today, several skeins of laceweight and a copy of a new Sivia Harding lace pattern snuck into my shopping cart. I think she is probably one of my favorite lace designers, I love her geometric lace patterns and they are beautifully written. She is also pretty awesome about pattern support and in fact, emailed me a shiny alternate bind off method to substitute for an icord edge when I ran short of yarn on my Diamond Fantasy scarf (the first) and couldn't get more in that colorway. So I've got 3 skeins of Shadow heathered merino laceweight in Vineyard coming and her Hanging Leaves Stole pattern and I guess maybe I'll work that simultaneously while I'm working on Rogue, just to keep things interesting for when I hit the "miles and miles of stockinette" bits.

Something I've noticed as I read patterns and knit them. The designer really can never be too clear and it isn't insulting to assume that the knitter is a bonehead and tell them specifically what to do when. On row four, sing God Save The Queen. Row six, eat some jam. Row seven, stand on your head but only until 4 stitches from the end at which point, you must bungee jump from something very tall. Etc. Tell me exactly what to do when, you cannot be too clear and I will not be insulted if you assume I am without clue. Sivia's patterns don't assume that anything is obvious, she gets that the knitter is not a mind reader and the garments are a pleasure to knit and wear.

Please. Pattern writers. Assume I have the cognitive powers of a chimp. Trust me on this one, whatever you have in your head, whatever you know about this pattern, it isn't obvious to me. To the rest of the world, maybe, but chimps need love too and you can best express that love by being stupidly clear. When it isn't clear, that's maybe when I want to scream and bare my teeth and make with the (metaphoric) poo flinging. Thank you so much.
Talk about yer learning curve... I just downloaded Rogue and clicked "Place Order" on 16 skeins of Merino Style in "moss" from Knitpicks. So I'm totally committed now. I overordered the yarn by about 2.5 skeins but you know, better safe than sorry, right? There is much excitement. I know Rogue is a pretty advanced pattern but I love cables, they don't throw me and I'll swatch the charts till I get the hang of these. I've read that GfA gives excellent pattern support and that her patterns are some of the best written ones around, which is why I picked it for a first sweater.

It's very exciting to start picking projects based on what they can teach me and how I can grow as a knitter from it. For me, that's really a huge part of doing this. It can be a totally static craft, but it doesn't have to be and offers a lot of challenges if you want that.

Having cast on for the right front panel of the current confection, I should probably get back to it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Hey it's a back and left front!

I think this is quite possibly the coolest thing ever, following this pattern and watching tiny sweater bits take shape in my hands. I got a little confused about the neck shaping tonight (mostly on whether to start on the WS or RS) but I sat down and reread the pattern, eyeballed the shape of what I wanted vs. what was on the needles and ended up making the right choice as to which direction to start from. Maybe not rocket science, no, but it felt good to figure it out and not have to ask or go to the LYS and ask a sweater knitter to show me. I did it myself and I now have a gently shaped, perfect little neckline. One right front and two sleeves to go and then we sew. I can do this! I am very excited to make a MY right sized sweater after this. Now I have a clue as to how it comes together, which was the whole point of knitting this little baby sweater in the first place.

My tension is improving on those purl rows and I'm getting a much more consistent tension and nicer fabric now. The right front piece is noticeably smoother and better than the back piece. It is very satisfying to feel like I'm learning something from this experience, that it's not just busy work or yet another garter stitch scarf. This here project is ultimately going to make me a better knitter.

Of course, I look at my little one color baby sweater and then I look at y'all making things like Greek mittens, wicked complex intarsia and Orenberg lace and that's when I start to feel like the village idiot again, but hey, ya know? It's a learning curve, and I'm at least moving forward on it.
Now that things are settled a bit, I can go into a little more detail about the malaise that has Mr. Yarnpirate in its grips. Los Angeles County is in the middle of a massive Hepatitis A outbreak which they've managed to trace back to a couple of restaurants and lettuce from a major produce supplier to the area and hey, guess who eats out every day and favors great big healthy salads for lunch? So he came down sick about two weeks ago and we got the official diagnosis on Monday and it's been a little bit crazy in the meantime.

Today, the little pirates and I, who are as yet healthy, all traipsed down to the county health dept. (think depressing 3 story post-Communist block style building, with a pink stucco facade) and have received our doses of immune globulin goblins. Now to get immune goblins, you get herded into a tiny room, you stand there for a while, a nurse comes in and tells you to drop trou and then you get stuck in the butt and then you are done.

The children were appalled. I think that where the nurse was sticking the needles bugged them more than the actual needles.

I had to go first to quell the mutiny.

Then, this being LA, we all had to stop at Starbucks for a restorative grande non fat marble mocha no whip macchiato, after.

So now we will either not get hepatitis at all or we will still get it but not as badly. I am reliably informed by the powers that be that if, after lining up and getting needled in the arse, they still get sick, a coup will be staged, a new captain will be elected and I am walking the plank.

Being the only able bodied adult on board, I am maintaining the children's activities, homeschooling, taking care of that sick guy of mine and kinda just trying to keep things around here on an even keel. Consequently, I am bone tired and not getting a whole hell of a lot of knitting done. I am so tired, I missed Project Runway last night, in favor of sleep.

I have learned more about viral and bacterial transmission of disease in the last few days than I ever wanted to know. But here's the thing. Avoid salad bars. I know they look yummy. Avoid 'em. Eat hot foods hot. Cold foods cold. Wash your veggies and produce at home, yes even those pre-bagged salads. Wash your hands. Pray your gods that everyone else is washing their hands, too. And remember there's always immune goblins and a public health nurse just waiting to poke you in the arse.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blogger sometimes pisses me off. Today would be one of those days.

I feel great! We have an entire sweater back cast off and awaiting steaming. With a whole section of decreases that I didn't knit into the back of the loops for, but I am NOT ripping this sucker back so the judges can just take a deduction and bite me. Call it a double when I promised a triple. Have cast on for left sweater front and have the requisite 6 row garter stitch border done. Go me.

Why no, I really don't want to go wash dishes or take out trash or do laundry or vacuum or bleach the bathroom or homeschool or get out of my jammies or fix a bowl of soup or do anything other than knit today but I suppose that I have no choice in the matter really because LIFE GOES ON even if you have Very Important Knitting Things To Do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mr. Yarnpirate continues to be, well, very sick. There's something about being told "Oh, he'll be flat on his ass for 2-4 weeks. At least." and knowing that you're on day #2 post DX that feels very... daunting. I'm... tired. I cannot even begin to get into how tired I'm feeling. We're past that fight or flight point of "OMG, serious illness OMGWTF!", past the point where we've received the dx and are relieved that we even know, and we're at the point now where the gaping maw of reality has just opened up in front of us and we're staring at each other and thinking, "Oh sweet creeping zombie jeebus, what is THAT?"

I'm not particularly good at asking for help and honestly, 99% of the time, I don't even know where to start or what I really need help with. But I'm gonna start needing help soon. Today was just this crazy day. Today I was sitting in late afternoon traffic demonlooping things like "Why do the children have to have activities anyway? Why can't they just stay home and watch Nickelodeon? They don't NEED enriching things like dance and horseback riding. What was I thinking? I survived on Bugs Bunny and Brady Bunch reruns, after all." I never realized how much J does for me, around the house, with the kids, just, every day, all he does that makes it possible for me to be home with them, teaching Em and driving to activities and knitting and blogging and doing my own thing at my own pace. Except now? Now I get it.

You know the crazy thing is, this is just, temporary. This is not permanent. Big pain in the butt, yes. A serious chunk of time, yes. A huge change in our life? Yes. But really? Not very long at all. When I think about people who care for the disabled members of their families, the elderly, who do it alone and with no breaks or end in sight? I have tremendous respect for those people. Because we're not even halfway in and I'm whining like a big whiny thing. WHiny whine whine.

Dear Universe. Why, it's another clusterf*ck Glorious Learning Experience that I need to be all freaking zen and enlightened about! Thank you! So much! You really shouldn't have! I guess you thought I really needed one! I'll hang it in the bath or perhaps next to the Moss-Covered, Three-Handled, Family Gredunza. Stoppit with the glorious opportunites. I have quicklime. Just sayin. NO Love, Yarnpirate.

In other news, I am four decrease rows away from casting off my Olympics sweater back. Phwoar.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Harissa! show at Synergy, 2/10

synergy set
Our set, with backdrop and So-chan in lower right corner. Ordinarily this is just bare stage and blank wall. Remember what I was saying about hours of set up and hanging stuff and putting things into place? Yep. That.

k dancing
This is one of our dancers being joyful in the middle of her dance. WHich is what it's all about, right?

basket dance, k and l
Basket dance. One of my favorites. One I hope to perform one day, actually, cos I really like the music and choreography.

We'll be back at Synergy on March 18th, so mark your calendars now and don't miss it!

pics shot by B., copyright and all that stuff I'm sure.
As I zip along with the knitting, I am noticing a real problem with my tension in the purl rows, that being, I'm noticeably looser on purl rows than knit rows. I am gleaning from my reading here and there that sometimes it is an issue with continental style knitting (hey nothing if not predictable, right?) but I have yet to figure out how to fix it. The cotton yarn seems to show up every uneven stitch and flaw as I've said before - it's a little bit daunting, I really thought I was a pretty skilled, consistent knitter. The cotton screams otherwise. I think this will be a new gauge of excellence, whether or not I can get a pleasing, consistent fabric in cotton. It's something to work towards as I go on anyway. I'm about halfway through the raglan shaping/decrease section on the sweater back and it's very exciting to see a recognizeable sweater back forming. I mean, I have sweaters shaped like this. I begin to intuit the shape, I can SEE it. Thrilling.

I must give props to my Team Kvetch co-member (I think there are only two of us and I'm two timing, also knitting for Team Goth. It works because Goth is ultimately kvetchtastic, right?) Z who is making a recognizeable sock on dpns for the first time and it looks great. Go Z!

Olympic musings:
I admit to being utterly baffled by curling. It appears to be a cross between bowling and pool, on ice, with brooms, performed by men who look far too intent and serious about the process. Just.Not.Getting. It. See, first there is a lot of standing around and looking serious. Then, still looking serious, some guy grabs a rock and flings himself across the ice, using the rock to propel himself forward. Then? He lets go of the rock. THEN, a couple more guys with funny brooms VERY intently swish at the ice in front of the rock with their brooms so that... I don't know, um, what? The rock doesn't get dirty? "OH my god Sven! I see a speck of lint on the ice. Sweep!" or something. At least that is what I surmise. The curling teams seem really focused on cleanliness on the ice. A little OCD about it maybe. And then the rock stops and they all stand around and stare at the ice and the rock some more and then they start again.

It begs for a crew of swarthy pirates to come and swill rum and spill crumbs on the ice and generally mock the process. I mean, I think pirates would make curling a lot better. Maybe, a pirate curling team. The possibilities abound.

Obviously, I am not Canadian. Yarrrrr.
SO things at Casa Yarnpirate just took a major turn for the worse and the next few weeks are going to be interesting - in the Chinese sense of the word. Mr. Yarnpirate is down for the next two weeks at least. Flat. Bedrest. Total and complete. I think I'll be one frazzled scallywag by the end of it all.

Also, I lost the book that contains the pattern for my Olympics project and I've hit the section with the decreases.

When the Olympics are over and this damn cotton baby sweater is finished? That finishers button is getting PRIDE OF PLACE on my blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What do you do when you realize you HATE the yarn you picked for your Olympics sweater because it is cotton, COTTON, and shows every little flaw, all the uneven tension in your purl rows (why is my purling tension so off??) and well, it just looks a fright?

Frog it and substitute sock yarn? *ponders* Keep going? *frets* Whine?

I think I'll take "whining" for $500, Alex, thank you.

The next time my mouse hovers over "Superwash merino fingering weight" and my brain says, "Oh no, you don't want that merino wool, get the COTTON YARN because that's what the pattern book said to use." remind me to go slam my head in the closet door a few times.
I got to a place today where I had to decide that it really didn't matter if I couldn't finish my Olympics project. See, that glitter lovin', fire spinning raver guy I'm married to has been really sick for over a week. It seems to be some kind of nonspecific viral infection with raging high fevers and no other symptoms which I admit, is baffling. He was running a 103 fever last Saturday at CNY when he was all fire spinny, and while I applaud his attitude that "the show must go on." it has crossed my mind that JUST MAYBE spinning fire and being shiny until 5am last Saturday with a fever that high was A DUMB IDEA. Because this Wednesday, after going to work for 3 days with that fever, he sorta went down and stayed down and hasn't gotten out of bed since.

What I love about modern healthcare is that you can have a primary care doc, you can have been a patient there for 5 years and still when you call and explain that it is urgent and emergent and you need an appointment today thanks, they will STILL tell you, "Oh gee sorry, we can't get you in until next thursday." and then you might say to them, "Well why on earth do I have a primary care doctor if I can't GET IN TO SEE HIM WHEN I NEED AN APPOINTMENT." and then the receptionist might say something like, "So go to the ER if it's that bad." and THAT is when you have to get all Samuel L. Jackson about things and point out that ERs don't want you if you have primary care docs, unless you are, oh, DYING. In maybe a caustic tone of voice. And maybe then you get so insistent, they agree to squeeze you in first thing Monday morning. Ordinarily I make a point of being absolutely, beautifully polite to people who work in doctors offices and customer service. I consider it my obligation to do so. It is the little niceties that mean so much nowadays. There are times, however, when I will break my policy of niceness rules and I will turn into the biggest bitch you ever met until I get what I want from you. Do not tell me to go to the ER. Give me an appointment. And then go make me a sandwich. /southpark>

Because my other half has been laid up for so long, I have been for all intents and purposes, a single parent for the duration. I am very tired. I am very stressed out. It's been a LONG couple of days.

Harissa! had their debut at Synergy Cafe in Culver City last night. It was utterly splendid, a smashing success and may it just be said, our milkshake brought all the boys to the yard. (If you want lessons, there is, in fact, a charge.) I did a lot of running around and promotion and work during the preceeding days and the day of the show we had to set up which was way too early in the morning and took forever and involved yet more running out to hardware stores and heavy lifting. Herding cats during the performance, then staying after and tearing it down and shlepping it home. A dance troup is a really shiny entity. We all do our part, we all contribute and then the reward is two hours of sheer magic. I have to confess that it is a tiny bit hard for me at the end of the show, when everyone gets up and takes their bows and the audience is clapping and I was as much a part of things as anyone but I'm not up there with them. What the audience doesn't get or doesn't see, doesn't applaud, is the person behind the curtains, behind the scenes. The person who hung the tapestries and arranged the set, who worked the sound, burned CDs, promoted the show, made phone calls and last minute runs to the store, who pinned people into costumes and found veils at the last minute before a panic could set in and made sure cues were met. That's me. I'm the invisible person. I help make the magic too. But nobody knows it. Anyway, I think I got to bed at 2:30 last night.

Today I got some knitting done at the obligatory Saturday trip to the dog park, a little bit more between bouts of cooking, washing up, checking fevers, making broth and all that. I'm encouraged, I only have 6 rows before I start the decreases for the sleeves on the sweater back, but I have had to accept the fact that for me, winning the gold may just mean knitting consistently, a little every day, regardless of what else is going on. That's good enough for me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I cut the hell out of my left index finger last night chopping lemons. Alton would be so disappointed in me because I was not paying attention to Safety First.

Normally this wouldn't bug me but, left index finger? I knit Continental. And the Olympics kick off today. Because we love irony.

It is hard to knit with a band aid on that finger. Plays merry hob with my tension. Though it was pointed out to me that I am knitting for Team Goth and having a huge knife wound on my yarn feeding finger will add angst to the process and that is gothic and sad. Then it was pointed out that I could score more Goth Points if I dipped my yarn in lemon juice. A few more salient points might have been pointed out and then I maybe whipped out The Knitting Needles Of Pain and Instruction and points stopped getting made.

"This here is the Sweater of Eternal Sadness. It is a superwash merino yarn imbued with my personal agony, mixed with drops of my own blood and the long, slow tears that I wept into the fabric."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Programs Bush Wants to Cut or Kill
Here are just a few of the programs that President Bush proposed to eliminate in his proposed 2007 budget, with potential savings in millions:

Educational technology state grants, $272 million
Even Start, $99 million
High school programs terminations:
Vocational education state grants, $1,182 million
Vocational education national programs, $9 million
Upward Bound, $311 million
GEAR UP, $303 million
Talent search, $145 million
Tech prep state grants, $105 million
Smaller learning communities, $94 million
Safe and Drug-Free Schools state grants, $347 million
Elementary and secondary education program terminations:
Parental information and resource centers, $40 million
Arts in education, $35 million
Elementary and secondary school counseling, $35 million
Alcohol abuse reduction, $32 million
Civic education, $29 million
National Writing Project, $22 million
Star Schools, $15 million
School leadership,$15 million
Ready to Teach, $11 million
Javits gifted and talented education, $10 million
Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners, $9 million
Comprehensive school reform, $8 million
Dropout prevention program, $5 million
Mental Health integration in schools, $5 million
Women's Educational Equity, $3 million
Academies for American History and Civics, $2 million
Close-Up fellowships, $1 million
Foundations for Learning, $1 million
Excellence in Economic Education, $1 million

Higher Education Programs:
Education demos for students with disabilities, $7 million
Underground Railroad Program, $2 million
State grants for incarcerated youth offenders, $23 million
Postsecondary Student Financial Assistance Programs:
Perkins Loan cancellations, $65 million
Leveraging educational assistance programs, $65 million
Byrd Scholarships, $41 million
Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational opportunity, $3 million
B.J. Stupak Olympic scholarships, $1 million

Centers for Disease Control preventive block grant, $99 millionUm. Okay. Idiocy? Anyone? Bueller?
Real Choice System Change grants, $25 million
Community services block grant, $630 million
Community economic development, $27 million
Rural community facilities, $7 million
Job opportunities for low-income individuals, $6 million
Maternal and child health small categorical grants, $39 million
Urban Indian Health Program, $33 million

This is just a taste and just the cuts. There are scores more programs that Bush wants to cut or drastically reduce funding for.

We're talking about programs like WIC, PBS, Head Start, low cost health care for families, the mentally ill, services for AIDS patients, this is your life and mine, why, so we can pay for Iraq? Everyone I know will be negatively impacted if this budget goes through.

Please encourage your representative to kill this and fast.
Find your Congressperson

Please make a note to pass this on.

Enter dust bunnies.

Clicky for Harissa Bellydance flyer.

There was precious little knitting done today, however there was some hunting of dust bunnies and I've been enjoying the scent of lemon Pledge. I love the scent of lemon Pledge. It evokes the memory of feeling of being close to my mother during my childhood and because she did not live with me past toddlerhood, those moments were particularly shiny. I'd visit her house and I'd BEG and she'd hold out for a while but eventually she'd pull out the paper towels and Pledge and let me dust her coffee table and bronze chess set. The pawns were owls and the other pieces were all antique looking statues of Greek gods and goddesses, with wee Trojan Horse knights. I loved that chess set. I would spend a long time carefully dusting each piece and then I'd do the shelves and all her knick knacks. It was, I suppose, a way of getting to know my mother better, handling all the little bits of flotsam and treasure that she kept around.

Now if I could only find something equally compelling to make me feel more cuddly about vacuuming or doing my laundry.

What about you? Any household products or scents that routinely bring you a good feeling because it brings back memories of doing something with a parent or loved one?

Reality BITES

It occurs to me that I will NOT be casting on or starting my Olympics sweater on Friday night because I will be working on Friday night until about midnight at our troupe's big dance thing, doing henna. Bother. We've already established that henna and yarn don't mix. When I'm not doing henna, I'll be running around doing stage managerial type things such as, yelling at sound guys, pinning people into their belts and locating veils. Because that's what I do. I herd cats. Cats, in flashy, beaded bra and belt combos. Well, in a manner of speaking anyway.

So, hey, if you're near SoCal, come on down (or up) to Synergy Cafe in Culver City on this Friday night, 8 to midnight. Harissa Bellydance is performing! I'm doing henna! No cover at all. It'll be a great night, great dancing and the cafe has great coffee and pastries, sandwiches, soups and salads.

Just ignore the fact that I'm not knitting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Confession. I am a huge, big, closet Project Runway fan and I cannot hide it anymore because I love it too much. *stares at nubs which were fingernails*

Curse you, Project Runway. Curse your addictive, bitchy, FABULOSITY.

I have a few searingly relevant, insightful thoughts to pass along after this week's episode. Ahem.

First and most important, I don't know WHAT those judges are thinking, passing Santino every week. I will be celebrating loudly when he is voted off the island. LOUDLY. The noise you will hear is going to be me, with something bubbly, and it will top anything my neighbors have EVER dished out on New Year's Eve. I can't even start on the baby poo tan jumpsuit (???) except to say, Santino darling, when you design for a woman's body, best not to have the crotch hanging 3 inches below the actual, um, crotch. Ease is good, that was just droopy. Also, you lied. LIED about the sleeve. I'm on to you, buddy.

Daniel, my beloved Daniel, my darling golden boy. Ein minuten bitte! WHAT was Daniel thinking? Was Daniel in fact, thinking? It was a ren faire outfit gone horribly wrong. In fact, I've seen that outfit at faire, I'm just sure of it. Why didn't Chloe grab him by the shoulders and scream, "JUST STOP RIGHT NOW AND PUT DOWN THE NEEDLE AND THREAD, DANIEL!" The only thing that sucker was lacking was shoulder pads. No, wait. I think it had shoulder pads. Never mind. Thank god he had immunity, s'all I can say. You're all breathing a huge sigh of relief, I can tell.

Kara. Nice girl. Doesn't do well under pressure. I think her continued presence on the show is strictly on the merit of nice, which is the strongest thing I can think to say about her designs. They're... nice. Girl next door nice. Moderately priced, made overseas in a factory and then shipped back to the States nice. Maybe pick one up at Target nice. Hey, it works for Isaac Mizrahi...

And then there was Nick. Ouch. Nick, my darling, did you not learn from Andre's sad fall? Do not let your ego run amuck, dude. Because when you do, you will CRASH AND BURN. Like you did.

I thought they picked the right winner for this challenge, anyway. I like Chloe. I liked her suit. She's a solid designer.

I let my children stay up until 11 on a school night to watch reality television. Curse you, Project Runway!

Why we loathe the LA Times

LA Times article

Forget the maiden aunt putting together an ill-fitting sweater for her favorite nephew. Enter the gay/lesbian/straight/punk/Goth/hipster/ex-corporate exec who's just finished knitting a fuzzy pink-and-black hat emblazoned with skull and crossbones.

Articles like this make me feel like an exhibit in a zoo, somehow. "Mabel, look! She's got BOOOTS on and obviously is one of those $whatever$ and look, she can STILL KNIT, well I never, it's like when they sent that chimp up to the moon what'll they think of next?" Not to mention articles like this totally exclude all the SnB knitters who AREN'T /queer/hipster/glbt/goth/punk/alt.spagetti monster which would be a hell of a lot of them, thanks. Who, regardless of their orientation, personal style or number of labial piercings, happen to knit more than fuzzy skull bags, who are maybe serious knitters. And thank you, ill fitting sweaters? You should be so lucky to have a maiden aunt who loves you that much. We're all just folks and we want to chill out with yarn on a Thursday night and maybe drink some wine and why is this news? It just feels like a patronizing pat on the head, this article. It's also not exactly NEWS. Hey, what was the body count over in Iraq again? I'm sorry, what was up with SCOTUS? Gonzales said what about the President's wiretapping being ok? Oh never mind, I'll just read this here cute little human interest story about freaks with yarn making trite shit out of MUPPET FUR. For f*ck's sake. You wanna talk about yarn, go review some yarn stores and tell me where I can go locally to get good deals on superwash merino. Tell me something I *don't* know.

Obviously I am in dire need of something better to do than sit around on the internet getting worked up over insignificant LA Times articles. Perhaps say, the long-overdue laundry.
I have very little love for blogger this week. Just sayin.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It's like the all baby all the time show around here.

garter cardi
Well here it is, the finished, no really, it's finished, garter stitch cardi with buttons, I swear these are the last buttons, I've only changed my mind about 4 times but this is it I swear. Though dammit, my seams look like ass and I can't figure out why. I did a "simple overstitch" like the book said. Methinks that it is time to take a class in finishing techniques and ask my LYS ladies about seaming sweaters. Hey, a splendid learning opportunity, who knew! They're so abundant on the ground. It pisses me off that the seams look like such shite, that there are errors in the cardi at all, because I do take pride in doing a *good* job and in good craftsmanship. I suppose that we all have a learning curve, but I don't like it when something I've made doesn't live up to my own standards.

I know I said I wasn't going to cast on anything new before the Olympics, but I really did want to just, get used to, um, the yarn. And those Addi turbos. Yep. Training. That's it. SO I made these little sweeties to match the sweater.
fairy slippers
These are slippers made from the same yarn as my Olympics sweater. I added some little glass beads to the toes and it gives them a nice sparkle. All I have to do now is hit the LYS to get some organza ribbon to make ties at the ankles. For the olympics sweater, I think I'll use a smaller version of the same bead and the same organza ribbon and do a tiny bit of ribbon/bead embroidery on the front. I found some very subtle mother of pearl heart buttons to use so the overall effect will be really pretty. Not going for overkill here, just, special. I'm absolutely hitting my LYS for help when it comes time to seam this sucker up because this one is gonna be *perfect*.

Monday, February 06, 2006

rock star
I believe I've probably mentioned that my husband is a fire spinning, glitter lovin' raver? Maybe once or twice?

Make with the clicky for some PRETTY pictures of LA's underground Chinese New Year celebration. Pics of Phoenix Projekt and Machina Candeo and friends lighting up the stage with some truly unbelievable fire play.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My gauge swatch for the rosebud cardigan is currently being washed. Pre-washed I am spot on for gauge which makes me really happy. My LYS did not have any #2 circs in bamboo so I got a pair of Addi turbos to try out. My goodness they're fast. I'm not usually a fan of metal needles but I don't hate these as much as I thought I would. The slippery cotton (I am using Jaeger Sienna) with the metal needles is making things a little bit of a challenge, but overall, I'm pleased with my results. Jury is still out but initial impression of the Addis is generally favorable. I don't exactly think they're sex on a stick and I don't quite get why certain knitters I know get all flushed and pink at the thought of 'em but yeah, okay, they don't suck and I could see the benefit of having a set or two.

I'll probably be done with the Trekking socks in the next day or two, I've got Cam's socks yet to finish and the baby sweater is done. It's weird not to have a ginormous pile of unfinished projects in the basket, though I've still got a couple of felted bags to finish up as yet. Hard not to just cast something new on. I really am itching to get started on the rosebud cardigan, waiting for the flame to be lit is going to be challenging but I will play fair. I guess the next 5 days could just be considered my own personal Finishing Olympics and we'll leave it at that.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

So I've had this itch in my knickers to spiff up our place for a long time, so bit by bit, a little each month, I replace someting or make something shiny. My goal is to have it kinda sorted before we move this summer. It's not that I want some designer house but I'd like things to look less crappy. Most of our furniture with the exception of a couple of badly engineered IKEA pieces was previously owned and totally came from one of 3 places.

1. the parkway (narrow strip of green between sidewalk and street) where it was liberated for free instead of heading to the municipal dump. I should think of a witty name for this, something that indicates hipster boutique, but really, yeah, parkway. Other people's cast offs. Which, given that people in LA sometimes cast off perfectly good stuff? Hey, no worries, I'm down to use them.

2. garage sales/thrift stores - this is very similar to the parkway, only you pay money for it. The principle is the same, however. Think, cast off. Other people. Gently used.

3. Friends and family. See #1 and #2 for continuation of theme.

Like, our sofas. See #1. We got them 11 years ago, off the parkway. They are both serviceable sofas but ancient, shabby and cat-scratched. About the only thing that keeps 'em looking even halfway stylish is the artful use of throws and pillows by moi, and thank G-D those things are cheap at Target, s'all I have to say. My IKEA desk (bought new, go figure) broke a few months ago. I had this temporary card table arrangement housing the computer, it was loathesome and didn't work particularly well (particularly because someone borrowed my card table and left it in the rain till it warped so it had this big DIP in the middle. Every time I sat down at it, I'd get angry all over again. I'm happy to lend my stuff, just please treat it nicely. I don't have a lot of money to replace it.) so today I re-purposed (I got that word from Clean Sweep, repurposed, it means, "taking your old crap and putting something else on it.") two antique tables and turned 'em into the new home for the imac and got a nifty basket/shelfy thing to hold stuff that might otherwise go in a desk. And I LOVE it. I managed to clear out a bunch of storage containers that were housing desk things and can now be repurposed to house yarn.

new look

It really looks pretty nice. If, um, you ignore the shredded sofa and the crappy carpet and stuff.

So here I was, wandering around Target with shelves in my cart and lo, a light shone down and I saw area rugs and it got me to thinking about our horrible living room carpet which is stained and awful (and in dire need of the vacuum) and which my landlord didn't replace when we moved in 5 years ago and is just getting worse and worse and worse what with 4 people, lots of extra teenagers, two cats and a barfy dog. Trust me on this one, even Stanley Steemer cannot work carpet mojo here.


It covers up some serious stainage and helps pull things together a bit more. Please to be ignoring the crappy carpet UNDER it and the aforementioned horrible sofas. Also ignore that I need to vacuum. It looks nice, right? I mean, aside from all the stuff I told you to ignore?

bless me, for I am weak

Also today I went to get some needles with which to knit the yarn on the right, 3 balls of Jaeger Sienna in "phlox" which is my Olympics yarn. And look what jumped me. I was mugged, I tell you. Mugged by sock yarn. 3 skeins of Socks That Rock. Delicious and each skein is 2 socks worth of yarn. Not a bad deal.

This reminds me, while we're talking about mugging, my daughter's ex boyfriend got mugged on his way home from school yesterday and the kid pulled a gun on him. And her best friend got mugged after school a few weeks ago and they stole her Blackberry, again, with the gun in the backpack. And this is in a nice suburban neighborhood and it took place near a California Distinguished School so naturally they have no metal detectors. Seems like maybe they should. Obviously, if the muggings are happening after school, the kids have the guns DURING school. So really, sock yarn mugging me is not nearly so dramatic. Also, I digress again.

up close
Roving from Beaverslide Dry Goods. Pretty colors. If you look closely, you can see how the fiber wants for combing or carding or something. Nice stuff though.

Merino. Very low price. A LOT of Merino for a low price. I do hope one of those balls is a sweater's worth.

and lastly, speaking of sweaters.
garter baby
It was a valuable learning experience. It has a TON of mistakes. It is not the best sweater ever. I learned a lot from making it though (mostly what not to do again) and I think the next one will be really good. I still have to sew the buttons on it and do some finishing, steam it, block it, all that. I have learned two things in particular. I do not like knitting in cotton and I do not like entire garments made of garter stitch. Golden.

EDIT: I had to use different buttons, the giraffes were too big. I hate button holes more than I hate using Excel and that is a mighty powerful hate. However, buttons done, some extra finishing work and we're ready to steam and block. It doesn't look as bad as I thought at first. I still think I prefer wool.
I really don't need any more sock yarn. Really. I don't. The sock yarn bin is kinda full. And when I say full, I mean, lid pops off from the internal pressures and I have to press down on the lid real hard and hope no yarn sticks out the sides and I can snap it shut, full.

Am I the only knitter who wakes up from hot steamy dreams about attractive skeins of handpaint merino sock yarn doing a little can can just out of reach?

I guess that, um. Just me. Right then.