Friday, February 29, 2008

Behold! Imperfection!

My new glove-to-be. Pretty!
Oh. A bit off. See where the cable ends? On the middle finger, which while it's certainly the middle of the five digits of the hand, is absolutely not the middle of the four fingers, that spot being reserved for the gap between middle and ring fingers. Where the cable does NOT end.
The pattern which I used as a starting point had you add thumb gusset shaping on either side of the stitch one away from the start (or end, depending on which hand we're talking about) of the round, and then to use as the thumb those increased stitches as well as the stitches on either side - meaning the stitch at the beginning or end of the round. This means that the back/front separation point is the beginning of the round, right?

Today as I went on my lovely walk (I might as well be back in San Francisco as the weather is delicious) I examined my older and just about superfluous gloves, only to see that the centre of the thumb gusset points to the centre of the underside of the index finger, with the back/front separation occurring three or four stitches from the thumb gusset. Which helps to explain why the cable that's supposed to mark the centre back of the hand doesn't, instead being skewed towards the thumb.

It's not as though I've never ripped back before (see any previous post mentioning knitting), or even that this is a huge time investment but dammit! I can make gloves in my sleep! Crooked ones, apparently.

All is not lost though, as I did finish this:
The rope has freshwater pearls, garnet and green aventurine beads as well as silvery seed beads, and the pendant is ruby in zoisite set in sterling silver with a pearl and a faceted garnet. There was no ripping and redoing; this one went exactly as planned. I like that, for a change.

Nancy has a jacket I admired, which she'd made of wool fabric that she'd fulled in the machine. This made for a wonderfully stable and surprisingly drapey fabric requiring no edge finishing (though Adriana really didn't approve), and made me think about my fabric stash, and whether there was anything in it with which I could copy her. The thing with my fabric stash is that I stopped sewing quite a while before I figured out that I didn't like making all my own clothes that much, but had continued to augment the stash at a pretty constant rate anyway, so it's bigger than it ought to be for a person who really doesn't sew all that often.

What possessed me, in the nineties, to buy yards and yards of a screamingly eighties-coloured plaid (of all things) wool twill, I'll never know, but it'll be perfect for my experiment. It's in the washing machine right now (I hear the sweet gurgle of rinse-water draining) and if it is respectable (in all but colour) after its turn in the dryer, I'll consider the dyepot. I'm thinking it could be much improved by being overdyed with burnt orange.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Glove Time

As it turns out, I need the length of a flight from San Francisco back to the Midwest, minus a bathroom break, the time it takes to eat an apple, a bit of sketching frenzy as I work out the next design, and one and a half games of Sudoku to make a Sunita-sized (smaller than my hand) glove missing only the middle and index fingers on size 4/3.5mm needles.  Who knew?

The first glove was finished before I stepped on the plane. She admired the yarn so much as I was knitting on Wednesday (it was a convalescent visits of sorts as she was rather incapacitated by recent knee surgery), that I was only too pleased to rip and redo the gloves in her size. I think I've mentioned how susceptible I am to flattery.
The colour is far truer than in my previous post where I was confined to the use of the built-in camera, which is somewhat limiting.

Instead of going home from the airport last night, I went to Wednesday night knitting at the only local yarn shop I ever step into, and started on another pair of gloves for myself (see "sketching frenzy" above). I may end up with Yarn Quantity Issues, as by weight I have almost exactly the same amount of yarn left over as in the pair of Sunita-gloves, so I might just head worry off at the pass and make contrasting fingertips. If I could find a suitable pure angora in the stash (I'm using a thin strand of Nancy-dyed angora along with a wool blend) I'll use that, since my fingertips are the first part of my hand to get cold, and angora is wonderfully warm.
While I was away, I also made great progress on my Architectural Rib sweater, though as soon as I started knitting the sleeve in the round it became Less Fun, since I'd neglected to bring double-pointed needles with me in the appropriate size, and using a circular is extremely tedious for sleeves. I think the people who use circulars for socks are nuts. 

Also I'm certain I will run out of yarn, so I soon will need to spin two plies of Beast to make enough yarn for the cuffs (which I hadn't planned on making quite as long as designed, but circumstances (i.e. lack of yarn) may force me to do so anyway. As it turns out, I spin the third variegated ply way back when I thought I'd still make oodles more of this yarn.

I'll live.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh Look, More Yarn

Even though I bought absolutely nothing in the way of fiber (my lunch, I'm ashamed to admit, was French fries - I'm on vacation, after all) at Stitches, I am staying with Nancy and Adriana, who are of the tribe (and by that I mean that they're fiber people) and Nancy, because of the business, naturally has a stash to die/dye for, and so forced some yarn on me. I was weak, I could not say no.

The picture is a little nasty because I came here on vacation without my camera (ok, not so bright, but there you go) and all I have is the camera built into my iBook. On the left is some yarn that someone gave her for the machine knitters guild, which we picked through before passing it on (a wool blend less pink and warmer than it appears) and on the right some angora which Nancy happened to have dyed in My Colours.

Because this is a House of Fiber, swifts and ball-winders are readily available:

And even though I did bring two knitting projects with me (both sweaters, one almost halfway done, the other requiring a rethink due to yarn grist mismatch), neither of which is anything even beginning to approach finished, I have to make gloves.

You can't argue with imperatives.

Monday, February 25, 2008


About a year ago, when the 2007/2008 dance lineup was made public, the performance that excited me the most was the St Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) Ballet, who were to be performing Les Sylphides and two others. Classical ballet. That which makes me mushy, that for which I subscribe every year - not that I don’t enjoy other types of dance, I do! 

Except for the State Ballet of Georgia (the country, not the state) which I hated so much the first time that I sold my tickets the second time and I hope they don’t bring them back yet again, but apparently they think we like them which is why they brought them here twice within the space of about five years.

The reasons I disliked them so profoundly were many

1. No emotion, story or theme. 

To be sure, folk dances are highly symbolic of something or another: marriage, courage, spring, whatever, but ultimately, they don’t mean much to the onlooker from another culture if they’re as abstract as these dances were.

2. Too much testosterone. 

The men did all this very athletic kicking that we associate with Russian folk dancing, which is wonderful and amazing for about the first five minutes, and then gets quickly dull. 

The women did gliding. They wore floor-length dresses (and coats and scarves and hats and gloves) and would locomote from one side of the stage to the other with only horizoantal motion, no vertical. Again, all very well and good but dull after a few minutes. How much gliding for gliding’s sake can a person watch? For this person, about five minutes.

3. Too many clothes.

For me, part of the aesthetic of dance is the bodies of the dancers. They are fabulously fit with gorgeous musculature, and quite frankly, I love very revealing costumes, be they spandex all-in-ones or bikinis. I love watching the play of the muscles as they perform the simplest moves, let alone feats showcasing astonishing acrobatic prowess. These people wore way too many garments. They all had boots and hats (and presumably voluminus underwear) and pants or skirts (with petticoats) and shirts and vests and coats - altogether too much yardage to even imagine what lay underneath.

But classical ballet performed by the St Petersburg ballet, that was to be my ultimate treat.

Les Sylphides was lovely. Women in yards and yards of floaty white skirts with strange little sticky-out bows at the back waist, silly floral wreath headdresses, en pointe - what’s not to love? And I did.

This was followed by Scheherezade, which frankly made me sleepy. Clearly their choreographer is the same age as I am, as he appeared to have been heavily influenced by the video for Walk Like an Egyptian, which was rather silly considering that the sultan was what? Turkish? Arabic? Whatever, I don’t think they do the weird Walk Like an Egyptian hands. It was a little silly, long and dull, but very glittery.

The finale was a dance to Ravel’s Bolero, which in fact was written as dance music. The concept was a good one: men and women dressed almost exactly the same (the women had sports bras), moving in a counter-clockwise circle, all doing the same steps and movements, and every time the musical theme adds an instrument, one of the dancers goes into the centre of the circle and does stuff that the outer circlers are not doing, until eventually most of them are in the centre of the circle, doing their own things. When the final, all-instrument repeat comes around, everyone goes back to doing the same thing together, big, grand movements, and all is wonderful.

In theory.

The choreography was effective.

The costumes were not. Clearly, someone had made too many red satin harem pants for a version of Scheherezade performed back in the eighties when pants ended at or above the waist, and so instead of cutting them shorter to sit on the hips, they decided instead that paperbag waists are perfectly divine, making everyone look like the unpopular kids who would never get a date with the cheerleaders or the football players, but might have to join the checkers club instead, not being smart enough for the chess club.

A bit sad.

Also it seems, the choreographer was rather too enthralled with Riverdance and the supposed wonderfulness of Michael Flatley (whose annoying website has MUSIC, ugh), and so decided to have a main dancer, dressed in nice tight black pants, who was just a little to enamoured of himself .

Worst of all, the dancers were sloppy. Their synchronization was off, their movements not quite exactly like the others, and it ended up being a third-rate performance, which when properly done, could have been incredible.

Bit of a disappointment, that.

Not to worry, I’m in San Francisco, all happy after having spent time today with Sylvia and Alfred, and resting up before dinner this evening. 

Since yesterday, I can now report that I am no longer a Stitches virgin. This is neither here nor there, it just is.

I didn’t buy anything but lunch, though I do have two fabulous beads singing in my purse, and the possibility of a collaborative relationship with a local beadmaker, which I’m really excited about. More if and when it reaches fruition.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Purple Pron

On the left, mostly wool, a bit more deep royal purple and less blue than it shows; in the middle, a delightful merino/silk blend; on the right, CrossPatch Creations blend of wools, silk and other yummy stuff. The cloud felt wonderful.
Ply ply ply ply ply, to the tune of Season 2 of Prime Suspect (two DVDs, 104 minutes each) and a little more. Abuse the yarn in water almost too hot for my asbestos hands, as cold as ice melt, then thwack severely. It puffed up about twice its size.

Yummmmy. It's lusciously soft, and even though the blend above right naturally made a rather lumpy yarn, it's still quite consistent, and of course plying hides a multitude of sins - though this yarn seems fairly sin-free to me...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not Knitting

Love this stone, I think it's pink zebra jasper. Not exactly pink, more of a coppery red with pink undertones. What absolutely doesn't show up in the picture are the lighter seed beads, which have a fabulous copper metallic inner glow. Very yummy.

I still have bronchitis and tells me I could still have it for another couple of weeks. I've really had enough of this indisposition.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sock Woes

I was a little sceptical as I was working on the foot shaping, but tried to withhold judgement until after the turning of the heel. As you can see, the spiralling section of the Coriolis Sock seems to be the cause of puckers.
Perhaps it's better on the foot?
Not so much. 

(Excuse the funky colour). The sock is about half an inch too long (so much for all the laborious gauge measurements and subsequent calculations) and so does not disguise the puckers, but the truth is that the stitches that spiral lie along the diagonal and are too short and so cause the regular vertical (or horizontal, if you prefer) stitches to seersucker in a most unattractive way.

I'm rather unimpressed, quite frankly. What kind of machinations were needed for the lovely photos in the book? I do hope that the other stylings are truer, and I guess I'll find out soon enough, as I might as well try another.

In other news, it's bronchitis, and I have these gorgeous fuchsia pills which with a bit of luck will heal me up so that I can actually breathe enough when I exert myself more than just typing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just a Girl

A day early (there's a reason), but who cares? Who says romance is dead? 
I'm having a hard time remembering the last time that an actual boy sent me flowers - in a vase - for Valentine's Day. I remember Errol back in undergraduate days sent me a dozen roses, and I'm thinking there may have been another time since then, but I'm blanking. Yeah I know, hackneyed and all that, but what can I say, I'm susceptible.

I've been considering that what with the joblessness, I really ought to put real effort into developing a bit more of a beadwork inventory with, you know, the goal of selling some of it. 

I've sold a few times when the local bead store has had their Bead Art event, and since (a) this town in general doesn't seem to value hand made artisan work and (b) I knew the attendees would largely be drawn from surrounding neighbourhoods, at the time I thought I needed more inexpensive items, so that's much of what I made, and now I think they're embarrassingly sucky, and not deserving of any more exposure. From now on I'm only making things I would wear, and if that means that sometimes they're on the high end price-wise, so be it. What I'll do with the dreck is at this time a mystery though.

I've also sold at Amy's home sale, and while I started out with the same inventory, gradually I've been pulling the low-end items out and adding some better pieces. Pieces I think are better anyway.

Today I finished this. I love muscovite, but you don't see it that often, especially nice pieces like this.  I wish the camera had captured its sparkle: in real life, the stone looks filled with glitter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This Is Why I Believe In Essential Goodness (Saccharine Alert!)

Even though in general I'm really not a joiner (I rarely participate in swaps - two or three in my entire life), last year I bought the kit and made a piece for Beading For A Cure, which I mentioned here.

The time has come to sign up again for this year, but due to lack of job and resultant lack of income, my spending (in order that I might enjoy the fabulousness of unstructured days for as long as feasible, not to mention the possible difficulty in finding suitable employment immediately) is limited to the necessities of food and shelter, with all fluff temporarily on hold. By "fluff" I mean things like beads, yarn, fiber, restaurants, fun clothes (as opposed to The Interview Suit), movies, cleaning person, and so on. And while the BFAC kit isn't hugely expensive, if I'm not even willing to pay $1.99 for the occasional not-new releases from the movie rental part of my local supermarket, preferring instead the library with its rather more eclectic, erratic and limited but very free selection, then the BFAC kit unfortunately just isn't in the budget under the current Austerity Measures.

On the forum which hosts all the BFAC administrivia and communications, I mentioned that I'd have to pass this year, and why.

A couple of hours later I received an email message from someone I've never met in real life, never before communicated with online, neither privately nor as part of a public thread, offering to buy the kit for me. Whether out of delicacy for my feelings or for some other reason, she indicated no desire to claim any public kudos for her generosity, and so while I won't mention her name in case she actually for some odd reason does want to remain anonymous, she nonetheless deserves more than just my private thanks.

I like to think that I'm fundamentally a sensible person with a balanced perspective, but from time to time, someone makes an observation or gives advice that makes me realise that sometimes I may be a little lacking.

Back when I was going through a very rough divorce (my ex afterwards admitted to me that he was on a campaign of intimidation), I gushed to a friend about how lucky I was to have such wonderfully kind and supportive friends. She very sharply said to me "Luck has nothing to do with it. It's because of how they view you, and is a reflection of yourself" which of course was completely contrary to how I was feeling (a miserable wreck) but was far more insightful than anything of which I was capable at the time.

I've never forgotten this, and have been able to gift this to others in analogous situations. It is a gift to be able to make someone realise that they are recipients of kindness not because they or their situations are pitiful, but because their own positive attributes attract relationships with people who like to give tangible demonstrations of their esteem from time to time. In other words, like attracts like. Simple but easy to forget.

Recently some friends made me a very generous offer that I was embarrassed to accept, not because I thought they couldn't afford it, but because I'm not used to receiving gifts that size that aren't from immediate family and it made me a little uncomfortable. Another very wise friend pointed out that to rebuff their kindness for no reason other than my own neurosis would be unkind and hurtful, and that I should get over myself and accept.

I suffered the same hesitation upon receiving the offer from my new kit donor, but for the same reason, was touched and honoured to accept her offer. And when I say "touched", I mean that I cried when I received her email and kept tearing up and sniffling as I wrote to thank her.

(As an aside, even before receiving the kit and therefore completely in the dark in terms of what beads might be in it, I'm buzzing with ideas for the finished item, designs that somehow embody the fact that the end result will have been impossible without contributions from both my donor as well as myself. Absent a kit, I wouldn't be sending in an item to be auctioned).

I feel rich in kindness, as these aren't the only ones. When I was in a shuttered cell, Denny gave me a shawl. Amy gave me some artisan sock yarn because she couldn't believe I didn't have any. My mother sent me a huge gift when she heard I was laid off. Two of my brothers gave me a fraction of their dividends in my third brother's company because I was never offered the opportunity to invest as they were.

And most of this was within the last six months.

I know there's war and murder and rape and child abuse and sketchy mortgages and betrayal and lies and back-stabbing and armed robbery and copyright infringement and elder abuse and treachery and politics and fraud in the world, but when showered with pure kindness, it feeds into my one anti-cynical belief that if people are presented with an opportunity to do a good thing, they will take it, absent other influences. Yeah and I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect - well, not really, kumbaya sessions leave me all retchy, but still, I am left with a certain hope for the future of humanity.

Hanging in There

This has been a nasty chest flu: I still can't get enough air when I exert myself. I first postponed and then cancelled my dinner, and most of what I've been doing is feeling sorry for myself and knitting a bit on the Coriolis socks, which are looking suspiciously deformed. 
I do agree with NeedleDancer (oh I probably misspelled, but you must know who you are) in that I love the way Cat's mind works in terms of design (I didn't buy the book sight unseen after all), but I still contend that as a knitting book, and as a knitting book containing knitting patterns, it's poorly organised. It's clear that the publisher has had little experience with knitting books, as I find it hard to believe that a more traditional knitting publisher would have agreed to something this full of obfuscation. But yes: absolutely brilliant ideas, lovely designs, good pictures, though sucky text.

I do have a picture of a piece for sale that I recently made (alert: Rachel H! eye candy for you!) that I don't think I posted, so in the absence of anything substantive:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

(With Apologies) Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman

Yes, I know that by "frailty", the Bard meant "fickleness", but I'm feeling rather puny and frustrated right now, as I'm running a fever of 100.8, so I've allowed myself some creative quoting.

There was a fabulous local tapas restaurant that served killer mojitos, which I recently found out had closed, and which led me to an obsession: to have a dinner party inspired by tapas. This would mean that instead of a few courses with multiple coordinated accompaniments, I'd orchestrate a procession of bites, each complimenting the previous, so that for example crunchy would follow creamy, sharp would follow mellow and so on.

I spent a goodly amount of time scouring my books and my favourite recipe site for exquisite inspirations, and I found them. We would start with a fig and olive tapenade with goat cheese, and end with anise-scented chocolate mousse with cardamom-infused creme anglaise, with about eight other morsels in between, such as buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, cucumber-sesame salad, and chestnut-fennel soup. 

What kept me up at night was the orchestration of actual plates: my dinner service is for twelve, but I was expecting seven guests (yeah, I know, even numbers are better, but surprisingly, there were those who had Other Plans, the nerve), but I do have an extraneous Shelley (same shape, different pattern) tea service and one or two little oddities which would probably avoid the need for too much dish-washing between courses.

Except for the 100.8 degree fever.

No matter how maniacal my attention to meticulous hand-washing, my guests all agreed that they'd be more comfortable not eating food prepared by a sickie.

I'm feeling rather frail and frustrated.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Things I Learned The Hard Way

Spinning is all about trusting your touch.

As a new spinner, the slide of the fibers, the grab of the twist has to be described to you before you can make sense of the fistful of fluff that you intend to spin into yarn. You have to learn the feel of yarn forming in the drafting triangle, what too much twist grabbing too many fibers feels like as darfting becomes suddenly impossible, and the sensation of not enough twist as the feathery end disappears into the orifice, or the spindle flies across the room.

Eventually you learn to trust your fingers to produce relatively consistent yarn that holds together, and is a pleasure to knit with. Or weave with, I suppose, but I wouldn't know, not being a weaver.

Still, as a new spinner, learning to trust in your fingers, there are some experiences that will defy that trust. 

I can remember knitting a stranded pattern, using one strand of wool with a strand of dog hair yarn, watching in horror as holes formed two or three rows behind. I threaded a needle with the dog hair yarn and attempted to Swiss darn the holes, only to see more stitches dissolving faster than I sewed.

Eventually, sitting on my bed, I pulled out an arms-length of yarn, gave a gentle tug, and felt it drift apart. Drop the yarn, pull out more, tug, break, drop. Apparently, ever-optimistic, I believed that the entire ball could not possibly be this weak and surely, surely I'd get to the strong part of the ball.

I didn't.

I did end up with a very large pile of three-foot lengths of dog yarn on my bed though.

I also learned that just because a yarn feels twisted while spinning, it may not be if it's a slippery, short fiber like dog.

I undid the plying twist on the remaining yarn (I had another few balls), and plied it again, using more twist this time, and adding some heavy cotton sewing thread as a third ply, which did the trick.

Back in those days, I spun kid mohair by trusting my touch too, and learned the hard way that you need more twist: I've also had sweaters disappear parts of a row of knitting after a few years of wear, so now I use a whole lot more twist in non-crimpy, slippery fibers, and know that my fingers don't always have full information.

Back when I was a new spinner, I loved intarsia a whole lot more than I do now.

I had a plan.
I had some charcoal wool yarn, and a boatload of kid mohair that I dyed a rainbow of KoolAid colours.
Not much twist, is there?

I started knitting, and didn't like the difference in texture and weight and drape between the wool and kid sections, and frankly, intarsia with grabby yarn is really annoying, because you have to untangle even more often than with more slippery yarns. This project did not go into the Bermuda Rectangle of UFOs that is between my sofa and the window (I think the project predates my move to this house), but into a bag squeezed next to the wall at the end of a shelf, where it has been for long enough that someone could have gone to college, changed majors, completed a masters and perhaps part of a PhD as well, if they were really focused. 
I feel very grown-up, because I'm not going to undo it to try to salvage the yarn. I might toss it in the machine and see what happens, and if it fulls nicely I might make a bag or a coaster or another pot-holder or something, but if it doesn't, I'm going to 





I loved the leftover yarns though, and all that was really wrong with them was that there wasn't enough twist, and they were too fine. For what? To go with the yummy grape dog 'n' wool yarn I used to extend, uh, trim my cardigan a few days ago, as well as some friendly, well-twisted kid mohair.
Not a problem, I picked coordinating pairs of colours from the piles, and loosely plied them together, adding a little more twist. I'm always happy to knit with multiple strands of yarn if what I have is too fine, and since I'm the spinner in charge of these yarns, I can add enough extra twist to the pairs of yarns so that the individual fibers are held tightly enough. This loosely plied yarn may not look pretty as is, but I think it'll do very well knitted up, and I don't believe it'll dissolve for undertwist.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Well-Intentioned, or The Way to Hell

Since I saw the pictures in this book, I was in lust, and as the Tofutsies socks are complete, it was time to start a new pair (I get a little edgy without socks in progress), the Spiralling Coriolis socks, in which a band of stitches spirals around the sock, cleverly including and hiding the foot shaping and avoiding the use of gussets in the heel. Very, very pretty, and I have this lovely artisan sock yarn, so why not?

Love the look of this toe, even if the start is annoying. This figure-eight start is the reason why I only ever made one of the Turkish socks from that other book, but I guess it really is worth it, because it's so pretty.

These are hands-down the worst knitting instructions I have ever in my life come across, and I have successfully navigated French and German knitting patterns, and while I have some conversational French (I can get by in France without resorting to English), I do not speak knit-French or knit-German. 

Many of the abbreviations are non-standard, there are so-called Master Numbers (many relating to measurements and lengths which any other sock pattern I have ever encountered in my entire life have failed to place significance on) all over the place, and you have to continually flip backwards and forwards in the book to root out the few lines for each particular part of the sock. In addition, she has this verkakte insistence on either using two circular needles or five sock needles (thank you, I prefer four), framing every marker placement in terms of this configuration rather than IN TERMS OF THE SHAPE OF THE SOCK OR A FOOT (yes I do mean to shout), thus obfuscating worse than anything I have ever seen.

And lest I not make myself clear, the repeated use of the word "ever" and the phrase "ever in my life" is most definitely for emphasis, and quite literal.

They should sell this book with an accompanying worksheet for each so-called pattern, as there is no way in hell anyone would not drive themselves completely insane trying to follow the directions. Stickies might help a little. In trying to be as broad and general as possible by including tables and calculations for every possible foot size, row and stitch gauge, this book is one humungous snarl of incomprehensible, unclear, misleading and almost unusable verbiage.

Only my opinion of course, and worth what you paid for it.

That being said, now that I have managed to extract the structure of the sock, and have written it down, I think it'll be smooth sailing and I fully intend to have a very beautiful pair of socks with a lovely band of stitches spiralling around the foot and the leg, but man, the prep!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fog and Frog

Yesterday morning we had fog and I felt compelled to take a picture, any picture, but being in robe and slippers somewhat limited the scope of my artistic impressions, since the slippers are still on the new side and I wasn't keen on introducing pristine footwear to the harsh exigencies of the Great Muddy Beyond, so my focal range was What I Could See From My Front Door. Guess I could have taken a picture of the bamboo in the back yard, but really, there'd be nothing much to say about it besides "This is the bamboo in my back yard", so I didn't. Also I didn't think of it until after the fog had lifted.

This is a view of the house of the neighbour who woke me at 2 one morning because she had considerately removed herself from the inside of her house in which her children were sleeping so that she could have a very loud phone fight with her boyfriend without disturbing the children (who of course can sleep through anything), and instead woke up the entire neighourhood. Not that I fault her stupid choice or anything.
It's foggy.

It cleared to an uncharacteristically bright, hot, muggy day. When I went for my walk, I noticed that the humidity seemed to collect and concentrate air temperature differentials, so I'd pass through warmer and cooler pockets. Very odd. 

Sunday I over-dyed a large skein of dog (husky I think) and wool, and extended the cuff to see if I liked the two yarns together. I did. The teenagers approved too, even the fashion maven.
This meant that I had to commit to the chosen course of action: removing part of the bottom welt in order to reuse the yarn to extend the sleeves, which mean that I had to Commit to the Cut. I measured and counted and checked and rechecked:
After The Snip, the yarn ends had to be pulled through each stitch individually to undo the separating row, and every ten or so stitches, I'd slide them onto my needle. It helped to have steamed the welt before, so that although the yarn was very kinky, it also meant that each stitch was well-formed and relaxed and would not tend to try to unravel. No stitches laddered themselves away.
Once the two parts were separated, I was able to continue to tug on the yarn to undo the knitting, and rewound it into a little kinky ball. Looks like enough for half a cuff and an extra inch of sleeve before each cuff.
Yup, it was. I ended up adding two rows of a handpainted singles yarn between the two parts of each ribbed section as a bridge, and also to make it look like an intentional design feature. While my initial choice was for a sold-colour cardigan, I'm happy with the way it turned out, as it's still basically monochromatic, and it fits me the way I want it to.
I would wear it today if only it were colder.

And then I made a sample for the class I'm teaching at one of the local guilds next month. The coloured parts are seed beads and pearls, and I'm so in love with the seeds, which are copper-lined light amethyst aurora borealis. This means that the actual glass of the bead is a lightish, somewhat warm purple with an iridescent surface finish, and the core of the bead is copper, resulting in a wonderfully deep and complex shade. Paired with matte black rather than with shiny black it would look even better.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Observation #83

There is no better way to determine which task you hate more than by setting yourself something onerous and then opting instead to do something that's been put off since forever due to its hideosity.

To whit: I promised to send my resume out to a few people, which pretty much implies that I have to get it up to date in order to have something to send. Instead, I completely took apart my stovetop for the first time ever (I have been in this house since 1999) so that I could explore and clean every accessible gunk-containing nook and cranny. It's very, very clean now, and as I type, I'm listening to the hum of the exhaust fan as I smell the whiff of incinerating oven goo as the self-cleaning function does its thing.

I hate cleaning so much that the first thing I will do when I get another job is to call Jola, who has been cleaning my house for fifteen years (except for two months six years ago when I was between jobs) and implore her to come back NOW. I'd rather knit, dye, spin, sew, bead, read, cook, sleep, write software, write instructions, submit teaching proposals, see a movie, watch TV, go to parent-teacher conferences (for both kids), help kids with homework, go grocery shopping - pretty much anything! - rather than clean. I was going to say I'd rather do taxes, but I wouldn't, I'd rather clean, though not often. On the other hand taxes happen once a year only, and I believe I have the strength of character to deal with that.

On the other hand (foot?), I do have new socks.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Small Consolation

Pot holders sewn from a long-ago dead vest (not handspun, but hand-dyed) from when I just couldn't get over that cropped is highly unflattering unless you're seven feet tall and proportioned like a rackless Barbie, fulled in the washing machine, with aspirations of becoming a bag of sorts, but apparently, not destined for accommodative greatness.

Always a safe bet on food colours: aubergine, mustard, olive, pumpkin.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Sum of All Fears

As knitters, but moreso as spinners, there are things so truly frightening that all we can do is make jokes about them, like:

"I'd better knit faster so I don't run out of yarn, ha ha!"

With commercial yarn, even a discontinued vintage commercial yarn, miracles happen. Someone on The Big Knitlist who only ever knits acrylic afghans for homeless shelters on even-numbered streets has a recently-dead distant relative who willed her a 60-foot container of Red Heart as well as two skeins of Patons Kismet (a lovely mohair-blend sportweight yarn from the seventies from which I made a gorgeous vest that got stolen out of my boyfriend's mother's house when we were visiting during summer break in grad school) colour #420 dye lot #17, which arrived yesterday, and you're saved. It happens. It could happen.

With your own handspun you tend to have a fairly high degree of certainty exactly how much of it exists in the world, making this fortuitous scenario considerably less possible.

Pretty, huh? Notice the lovely set-in sleeves, knitted top-down. Nice, huh?
But wait, what's that at the end of the (not yet long enough) sleeves? Let's draw yellow (DANGER! DANGER!) circles around those things:

It's the last of the yarn. The last of my handspun. Less than a yard, all told. The left sleeve needs four inches of 3x3 garter ribbing for the cuff, and the right sleeve needs only an inch, perhaps an inch and a half.

And I have half a yard of yarn. Handpsun yarn. My own handspun yarn. All I spun of this yarn IN THE WORLD is in the picture above (except for the bits that I broke off so I could spit-splice, but that's mere inches).

Not funny.

So today I finally made a couple of cold calls to recruiters and head-hunters and the like, and I made a point of telling them that I think on my feet, I'm good a finding creative solutions to problems.

So I dug deeper into the handspun stash:
I'm not delighted, but I don't have a whole lot of choice, short of a complete rip and redesign, which has less appeal than you might imagine.