Friday, December 26, 2008

Guest Post: Introducing...

hello my name is mr monkers

it is nice to meet u, do u like my pickture

sumbody gave me to cobbalicious for chrissmuss, it was her brother

dont listen to what they say, i am not an "embarrassing reversion to pre-adolescent security issues" grown women can have fluffy friends too

i am soft and round and squishy

will u be my friend?

mr monkers

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Noro Striped Scarf Ate My Blog

Pretty much. Darn you, Christmas surprises! Darn you, broken camera!

This whole lack-of-a-camera thing has really grown stale. I am saving for a new one and can't wait to get back to technicolor. Hopefully in another month or two I'll be in control of my visuals again, and you won't hear me complain ever again about having to borrow someone else's.

Although, really, that's sorta turned into my tag, hasn't it? By that I mean, with all the knit blogs I read, I can't keep straight one from another just by their titles, except for a few with whom I occasionally correspond. Otherwise, it's the Manhattan chick who just got married, or it's the San Francisco lesbian who just got her first book published, or it's the preacher lady with two of the cutest twin boys I've ever seen. I think there's someone out there raising chickens, too... I guess I'm the Austin gal who keeps whining about not haivng a camera. Note to self: must work on re-branding.


Christmas knitting. Boo on that.

I got one gift done out of four, and you're so going to laugh at me.

Yeah, that's a Noro Scarf. One of the easiest and most common projects in existence. The Harlot made a multiple number of these scarves in one week, and me? Took me over three weeks just to eke out one.

In all fairness, during that time, I organized a group garage sale (the fella and I are now $250 richer), wrote two reviews and one article, read most of a book, went to Nebraska, came to Dallas, and I'm sure did some other things that did not involve knitting.

But the fella, who at present is still shivering in Nebraska's negative wind chills, won't be able to wear it until we see each other again on December 29 here in Texas, where it's likely to be about as cold as a fish can fly. Mea culpa, once again.

The other three gifts? Not even gonna talk about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pledge Drive Won't Keep Me Down

Nothing kills your buzz like pledge drive on PBS.

But, I have just the thing. Let me explain...

I went into Thanksgiving blissfully free of any and all Christmas gift knitting. It wasn't that I had finished it -- it was that I never promised to do any in the first place. Smart, n'est-ce pas?

Yet somehow, by the end of the weekend, I had gotten myself tangled up with a promise for four gifts. That three of those gifts are promises I'm keeping with myself and nobody but me has to know if I fail is beside the point; they'd make great gifts! Y'know?

Here's the list:

- two ______ ______ hats for ______ in _____
- a _____ _____ for my _____
- a pair of _____ for my _____ in _____

The second on the list was the one I went for. (Obviously. I mean, who can resist knitting a _____ ______?)

Okay, I'll give a hint that is _____-proof: The Harlot recently knit sixteen of them in, like, two days. Yup: according to Ravelry, over 3,000 people have tread this stripey path before I, and while conformity is irksome... sometimes you find that everybody is doing a thing because it's a really awesome thing!

The _____ _____ is especially awesome. In fact, it's much like reading a novel, in that you can't wait for the next transition. I'd call it very Dickensian in pace: slow, thorough, plodding, rhythmic, and just when you're about to toss the thing down the disposal and go turn your lights repeatedly on and off to remind yourself you're living in modern times and not a Victorian debtor's prison, something completely new and beautiful comes along.

If you have patience, that is. I do not. When I read Dickens, or anybody else for that matter, I tend to jump ahead to see when the next neat thing happens.

Translated to the terms of the _____ _____, that means that every so often the suspense gets the better of me and I yank out about twenty yards of yarn, just so see how long I have to wait until I get a little kick of green.

And I keep knitting. In fact, last night, after Stephen Colbert signed off (his Christmas special was so disappointing, wasn't it?), I switched to PBS, only to be insulted by the inane blabber that it pledge drive. Didn't realize it immediately, although my first hint should have been that I was being shown a long succession of nature shots with trippy narration about the Wonderous Power of Nature over a New Age synthesized soundtrack.

The second hint was the comparison between the Grand Canyon and PBS, made by a guy who I had pegged for working at a GM dealership. (Until last week, when there ceased to be any work at GM dealerships.)

However, the _____ _____ didn't want to be put down, even just long enough for me to channel surf my way to safety. Can you blame me? I was just around the corner from purple!

And onto the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, and more idiotic philanthropic nonsense. I'm telling you: boom, ten inches. And I'm barely out of dark gray on one of my skeins.

This is one Christmas gift that will surely be done in time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old Age and Colin Firth

In my own defense, I try not to use the heater in the winter. It's better for the environment.

So I snuggle under a blanket when I'm sitting still. Often when I'm sitting still, I'm knitting. Often when I'm knitting, I have a movie on, one that I've watched before. Often when I watch a movie, it's Pride and Prejudice.

Okay. So, to save money, a few weeks ago I moved into an apartment that I share with two other people who are never there. It's like a fake apartment: I'm the only one who's ever around, and it's not like I'm home much myself. Works for everybody.

One of the roommates and his girlfriend dropped by tonight, unannounced. That doesn't bother me; after all, he's paying rent, isn't he?

Only, they dropped by as I was knitting a sock under a blanket in a chair in front of the TV watching an old movie.

Quick: I'm going to go do a keg stand before I start looking like the 80-year-old I apparently am.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quick Meme

Forgive the uncraftiness. I just love these things.

I found this one at le petit hibou. You're supposed to answer with only one word.

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? traffic
Your hair colour? brown
Your mother? super
Your father? dandy
Your favourite thing? bed
Your dream last night? troubled
Your dream goal? bestseller
The room you're in? messy
Your hobby? knitting
Your fear? cockroaches
Where do you want to be in 6 years? deep-pocketed
Where were you last night? barbecue
What you're not? bored
One of your wish-list items? garden
Where you grew up? safe
The last thing you did? mail
What are you wearing? boots
Your TV? analog
Your pets? imaginary
Your computer? limping
Your mood? sleepy
Missing someone? grin
Your car? rez-de-chausez
Something you're not wearing? earrings
Favourite shop? Anthropologie
Your summer? hot
Love someone? grin
Your favourite colour? yes
When is the last time you laughed? 4 p.m.
When is the last time you cried? election (in a good way)

Steal away!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sock-Knitting in Technicolor

Sock-knitting has a lot of advantages. Plenty of other people have noted them before me. Portability, ease, quickness, versatility: socks have it all.

I'm only on my second pair ever, so my speediness isn't up there just yet. I knit socks in chunks, split apart by the inertia of not wanting to go back to the computer to figure out exactly how one does a toe, foot, heel, or leg.

The best thing about socks, however, is that they are nowhere near your face.

Here's the thing: I love pinks and purples and reds and corals. They are very pretty. They make my face look like the wall of my last apartment: dull, rental-white, and you don't want to look for very long.

Socks, however, are nowhere near my face. Having discovered this, I have set off on a whole new palette of exploration.

Seriously, have you ever seen purple and pink together on this blog before?

These are the Twilight Socks from 2-at-a-Time Socks, converted into toe-up because I'm always fiddling with yarn weight and gauge and it's better to know you've screwed up early on. I am also not knitting them two at a time, because I'm too cheap for all those circular needles. (You should see what I do with recipes in the kitchen.)

The yarn is delish: Seacoast Handpainted Yarns, a sock yarn in Raspberry Mocha. This is another treat from my mother's attempt at reducing her stash. (You may have heard me mention that before... Love ya, Mom!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daily Skein Is My New Best Friend

Betcha didn't know that, did you, Cailyn?

I'm not actually trying to spook the lady, who writes very engaging posts over at The Daily Skein. I just want to give her props for saving a knitter in trouble. Namely me.

She and I apparently have what is either a total knitting kismet-thing going on, or else we just both like Knit Picks. (Okay, probably the latter, but I just like the word kismet.) Total coincidence here: I totally fell in love with the Estes Vest from the Fall '08 Interweave Knits. I am a cheap lady, so as soon as I decided must have, must have, I dashed on over to Knit Picks for an affordable yarn substitute. I settled on Wool of the Andes Bulky, in Scuba.

I totally and completely did my math wrong and only ordered five skeins instead of six. I'm smart like that.

About the time I realized this, I happened across a blog post from The Daily Skein. I knit her Albuquerque Gloves (and have been pimping them ever since) this summer, and haven't been reading all that long. But lo and behold, guess who was knitting the exact same pattern -- in the exact same yarn -- ordered at exactly the same time?

A quick email and a friendly sale and I now have enough yarn in the same dye lot to finish the pattern and add an inch or two to the length, as several others have chosen to do.

Thanks, lady. You really saved me there.

By the way... I'm knitting these on those self-same 10.5 Boye Needlemaster needles that my blue suede love seat has developed such an appetite for. Just to show how you can make just about all things work for the best, I'm using the spare 10.5 needle as a cable needle, along with my two replacements, to knit this piece. I never use cable needles, either, but I couldn't get gauge without.

It's all about the love seat, I'm telling you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love Song of the 10.5 Boye Needlemaster Tip

I have three stories for you this evening.

Almost four years ago, when I was living in Cincinnati, I decided to go see a play. In those days I was more active in theater, so I was sure I'd bump into someone I knew, and I did: my friend "Gordon," a very interesting sort of dude who is very catlike in his attention span. He takes everything very earnestly and seriously, but not for very long.

After the show, we went to Shanghai Mama's for Chinese food. I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a loveseat. "A loveseat?" he said. "No kidding. This week I'm working at _____ Furniture. They're having a closing sale. You should come by. I'll hook you up." I didn't think working at a furniture store was the sort of thing you did for a week, but that's Gordon.

Show up I did, and he showed me several loveseats that were just not calling my name. "Well, there's always the clearance room." Gordon ushered me in, and behold, just as we entered the room, a voice was heard on the storewide speakers: "Now in the clearance rooms. Sofas and loveseats for only $25. First-come, first-served."

I executed a near-perfect dive onto the nearest loveseat, a blue suede number with puffy cushions, and claimed it as my own.

The fella has never taken to it, really, but after an adventure like that, I'm quite attached.

Here it is, back in the apartment in Cincinnati:

Now for story number two!

A year ago, not long after I purchased my Boye Needlemaster set, I was knitting something or other (been too long) on the blue suede loveseat. I did not stand up. I did not change position much at all. I set my knitting in my lap and watched the end of what was probably Pride and Prejudice or something. Then when I reached for the Needlemaster case to put away the needles... one of them was gone.

I lifted the cushions, I looked underneath, I shook out the blankets: I looked everywhere. Nowhere. One of the 10.5 tips had vanished. Completely.

And now the third story in this saga:

I have just finished moving into two different apartments. And, like the splitting of an atom, it hasn't been easy.

My fella has graciously agreed to let the blue suede loveseat continue its life with us and has taken it into his apartment. That required that he and I together test the mettle of our relationship and get the thing up three flights of narrow stairs. We survived as a couple, but we hope to hire movers next time.

Just as we reached the very top, we heard a clink, tinkle tinkle. He froze. "What's that?"

"Urk," I said, which is about all I can say when I'm carrying half a loveseat.

We were moving it into its place in his apartment and pushing it against the wall when we heard it again. Clink, tinkle tinkle.

The freakin' 10.5 needle tip!

I took off the cushions. I felt in the cracks. I searched everywhere.

We can't get it out! Not without major surgery, and I'm sorry, but that's a $25 blue suede loveseat. Ain't nobody cuttin' into my baby like that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When They Called It for Obama

On CNN, they said that around the world, everyone will remember where they were when they heard Obama had won the 2008 election.

I don't think that's true. Don't get me wrong: It's amazing! I'm thrilled! It's such a relief that today I felt like I was breathing a different kind of oxygen. It's just, everybody basically has the same answer: "I was watching TV." We were all already waiting to see whether or not it would happen.

For the knitters amongst us, I have a better question: What were you knitting when you heard Obama had won the 2008 election?

(You'll have to reward yourselves this time. Someday, there will be a proper contest on this blog, when I have a working camera and am not in the middle of moving to a new apartment and have no clue what stash is where.)

I was knitting this:

It's the Storm Water Scarf, obviously unblocked, made out of Sea Silk. I knit two rows, and then they called Pennsylvania. I dropped the knitting and howled for joy. I knit one and half more rows and was very distracted, and then they called Ohio. I jumped up and down on the fella's couch (much to his dismay; it's a nice couch).

I knit three more stitches over the next hour or so. When they called California, that was it. No more knitting last night!

We watched the beautiful acceptance speech. We joined the spontaneous street party at 6th and Brazos last night. We are very tired today.

But we are hopeful.

Let's see what's next.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where Is Cobbalicious?

It's tough to participate in the vibrant online knitting community (reread that phrase and I swear, you'll turn red in the face) when your camera, computer, and life are on the fritz. I've really missed posting and reading and putting pictures up on Ravelry. I've even been pretty nutty with the knitting, with all kinds of start-stop-startover projects to share.

But first, some recent adventures. The fella and I went to San Francisco last weekend to attend Groomzilla's wedding, which may have been one of the most tasteful, elegant events of the year. At least up until the point that we left; a random encounter with Groomzilla himself the next day confirmed that we left just before things got crazy outta hand with the lush/law student/lawyer populations (and those overlap like a Venn diagram) in attendance.

Here's some of the other things we did:

That's me in front of the de Young Museum. It looks like a Klingon palace. Inside is nifty, too.

Amoeba Music is big. This is only one corner. That was the fella's big request of the trip.

It was unusually warm most of the time we were there. After the wedding, we took a trolley up the hill to Grace Cathedral, one of my favorite places in the city.

See that little white thing on my foot? During the trolley ride, a lady accidentally dropped a very full, 30+ oz bottle of water on my toe. (That hurts like hell, if you've never tried it.) I tried to shake it off, but it started bleeding. I brought that to my fella's attention, and upon doing so I heard "Her foot is bleeding because that lady dropped a water bottle on it" translated into about three language groups on our trolley car.

The fella was chivalrous. He helped me limp to a cafe, which supplied us with makeshift first aid supplies. I don't think the toe was broken, but even if it was, nothing would have happened differently.

The last afternoon we paid a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, just as the fog bank rolled in. This is the view up from standing beside the SF-side pylon.

No wonder it's such a hotspot for personally devastating emotional crises. The fog, the cold wind, the fog horns, and the sheer height of everything is stunning. I suggest only paying a visit when you are in a good mood.

Next up: knitting. Promise. (I snagged the camera today. Yipee!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Personal No-Fly Zone

I'm writing to you from my fella's computer.

Mine died at approximately 4:00 p.m. today. May she rest in peace.

I would like to add that in the past month, my digital camera, cell phone, and wireless mouse have all bit the dust. There appears to be a contagion. Please, if you know where I live, don't come near -- or at least, don't bring your personal electronics.

I now owe a friend of mine who works in IT about three sweaters. She (or her computer) is peeling the data off the broken carcass as I write this.

(If you're interested, today also involved me cleaning up a cockroach so scary he looked like a Reaver ship from Serenity, a teeny tear in my favorite skirt, and an increase to my health insurance payments. Oh, and the stock market.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hill Country Yarn Crawl 2008

Or, Not the Thing I Did Today

Today, my fella asked me if I'd partake in a labor of love. He wanted me to go digging with him at the Austin Record Convention for hard-to-find vinyl records, in particular some rare hip-hop finds plus one or two soundtracks that usually go for around $50.

There's these moments in relationships where you look at the other person. You blink, and in that space of a blink, you must determine whether it's worth (a) an argument, (b) loving acquiescance, (c) tears, or (d) chocolate cream pie.

I almost had my answer. Then he said, "I'll go to yarn conventions with you."

I chose (b).

Quick: Can you find the only other female in the entire room? (Hint: I'm the one you can't see.)

(My fella is reading over my shoulder now and he wants you all to know that it really wasn't that bad, and that he was very sweet to hold my place in line for me to get a couple hardcover books signed by Michael Chabon for about two hours with nary a complaint or a request for chocolate cream pie. He's right, and I have treated him very unfairly. The above passage is a good example of hyperbole.)

Predictably, I didn't find anything to buy. However, I found the convention to be a veritable safari of fascinating people to observe.

I wanted to Kinear two of these guys especially, I really did. For complicated reasons, that didn't happen. One gentleman was quite tall, a black guy with what must have been a huge pile of dreads atop his head, which bobbled about on his neck under the weight as he walked. The dreads were tucked far inside a white crocheted rasta hat that looked like one of those giant, overnight mushrooms that shoots out of the ground after a hard rain and stands twelve inches high the next morning. It was as if the guy hadn't yet figured out how the mushroom had sprouted on his head, and it would be nice if no one mentioned it.

But the winner of all the goofy-looking people in the place (and keep in mind, this is me saying this) was a gentleman in the true sense. In an under-air conditioned room full of cut-off denim shorts and sweaty t-shirts, he wore a double-breasted suit, a tie, and a felted Sherlock Holmes hat. He was also spry and wirey, and he intrigued me so much that I had my fella (patiently, lovingly) follow him around with me for about fifteen minutes. Some of the things we overheard him say:

"Yes, I weigh the same amount that I did in 1967. In fact, four pounds lighter!"

To a large lady on crutches: "Have you decided? Are you going to run away with me yet?"

To my fella: "I must say, I don't think your lady friend there is finding a lot of these records to her liking."

Quite observant. Fortunately, there were other pleasures to be had.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

FO: Navajo Wedding Basket Purse

Most people learn to do intarsia from a booklet, a tutorial, or failing that, a published pattern.

I learned by designing an intarsia-heavy project from scratch.

Fortunately, I then felted the heck out of the sucker, which hides almost any mistake.

Here's the backstory: No, I'm not Navajo. I don't live in the American Southwest. I don't have anything in the way of Southwestern decor or clothing.

Last year, I participated in a volunteer trip to the Navajo Reservation, where we spent a week on home repair for a few of the locals. One day over lunch I met a lady who helps run a local charity. She saw my recently completed Reasonably Hip, and the next day she invited me to her office to see some fiber-related crafts that she and the ladies of her family had made.

She showed me a rug, a hat, a crocheted purse, and a few pictures of the Navajo wedding basket motif. Each had variations on color and structure, but all of them followed the stair-step pattern with a gap on one side. "That's to let the evil spirits out," she explained. "If you're superstitious." (After designing this pattern, I've come to the conclusion that the women who originally created those baskets just told people that to hide the jog in the spiral. But then I'm a cynical knitter.)

See the gap on the backside? It's always supposed to go on the eastern side of the piece, or failing that, away from the vital opening.

She requested a couple Reasonably Hip-style hats with that motif. Whoopsies, I still haven't done anything about those, but I did happen to use the half-pound of Brown Sheep yarn I bought while I was out there (wonderful thing, expandable luggage) to create this purse. At Sunday's fundraising luncheon for the 2008 volunteer trip, it brought in about $20.

I plan to post a pattern for it ASAP, for any who are interested.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FO: Helleborus, aka My Yellow Rose

We here at A Mighty Good Yarn were a little surprised to wake up to find that two weeks have passed since the last post. I won't make excuses, but I will brag:

This, this, and some of this have been occupying my time. Among other things.

Here's the tardy report on my completed Helleborus. The word, according to the designer, comes from Helleborus niger, the Latin name for the Christmas rose. Since I knit it almost entirely during the summer, and given my status as a dyed-in-the-wool (get it? get it?) Texan, I'm calling it my Yellow Rose instead.

Plus, you type "niger" too many times, and you're bound to run into trouble.

Color's off, whoopsies. End-of-the-day lighting, couldn't be helped. At least the scarf is pretty close to the actual yellow.

pattern: Helleborus by Terhi.
completed: August 29, 2008.
yarn: Plymouth Royal Silk Merino (colorway: 0017; 3 skeins; love it, love it, love it).
made for: me
needles: size 9 circs
notes: I had so many brain farts early on with this project. You know that thing you do, where you think to yourself how you'll totally have enough yarn, even though you have half what the pattern calls for? Yup. I cast on 38 stitches on my third try, and it was only a good wash and a block that got this piece to the minimum 66 inches in length I need for my scarves.

I love the yarn, I love the color, I love the finished product.

How was the knitting, you ask? Boring as sin. The designer knows it, and I'm not afraid to say it. Some knitting pieces you work on in solitude in a comfy chair and let yourself slip into the brain massage that is lace knitting or Fair Isle. Others, you take on the bus.

This one I took on the bus. That's okay, too.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

FO: Duimloze baby-handschoentjes

Roundabout when I was finishing up the Leyburn Socks and noticed a copious amount of leftover, machine-washable sock yarn, I came across this post at Girl Who Knits. A perfect gift for two nice people about to welcome their first:

These no-thumb baby mittens go to overseas friends in honor of their upcoming release. Included are care instructions, translation into Dutch courtesy of Arts the Beatdoctor. Who says hip-hop musicians can't be sweethearts?

It took me even less time to knit these than it did to get around to posting about them.

pattern: Baby Mittens by Malin Nilsson.
completed: August 28, 2008.
yarn: The Woolen Rabbit merino/nylon sock yarn (colorway: Rosemary and Thyme; 1 skein; machine washable). Soooo soft!
made for: Inf and Nita's
first true collaboration.
needles: size 1 dpns
notes: Used twisted rib instead of regular (just gotta be different). I got very confused by the vertical measurements -- I did what the pattern said, but it came out too long, for some reason, so I knit them to match the picture in the pattern. Also, I made a 3-stitch i-cord. If I had it to do over again, I'd use only 2 stitches. Otherwise an adorable, quick pattern!

I highly recommend this pattern. It's a quick, fun bit of easy knitting, and an excellent option for leftover sock yarn. I might just have to go make another six pairs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

FO: Leyburn Socks

It's been crazy, crazy times here at chez Cobbalicious. Darn me for my restraint on revealing personal details online, but let's just say this is a kooky, awesome transition period that sends ya right to the feet of Ganesh* with all the milk and honey you can muster.

Fortunately, when life is changing, there are socks to keep us steady. At the very least, our feet are clean and warm.

The Leyburn Socks: I've complained about this so many times to anyone who will listen, so blah dee blah, the stranded stitch pattern on top but not on the sole makes sizing wonky, or at least it did for me. I also learned the hard way that I need at least 8.5" around the ankle and calf, even if it's loose, because my heels are long and pointy.

Now there's an interesting digression: I am like a female version of my father, appearance-wise. It's eerie to look at pictures of his family, because you can trace my nose on through the generations. (And oh, what a honker it is. I like it for comic effect. Plus there's extra storage room in there when I've got a cold.)

My mother's genetic material manifests itself in my heels. We both have long, narrow, pointy heels. Her feet are dainty, mine are... not. But the heels are proportionally long, narrow, and pointy. Now isn't that just fascinating?

Okay, okay. Another sock picture, coming up. Check your Rav for close-ups.

pattern: Leyburn Socks by MintyFresh.
completed: August 23, 2008.
yarn: The Woolen Rabbit merino/nylon sock yarn (colorway: Rosemary and Thyme; 1 skein; machine washable). Soooo soft! Got even softer after a wash.
made for: me

size 1 dpns

My first socks! Naturally, I chose a pattern with complicated sizing due to the stranded stitch pattern on the instep but not the sole. I also got cocky and went with a yarn with a smaller gauge. ("Oh, I'll figure it out!") Eight months later...

* Or transition-oriented deity of your choice.

Monday, September 1, 2008

FO: Albuquerque Gloves!

Apparently camera + cord + battery + recharger = pictures!

No kiddin', I've got pictures this time. For realz.

pattern: Albuquerque Gloves by Cailyn Meyer.

completed: August 20, 2008.

yarn: Knit Picks Palette (100% wool; 1 ball each of Sky, Calypso Heather, Marine Heather, Golden Heather, Salsa Heather, and Garnet Heather. Enough left over for perhaps a second pair?)

made for: charity auction, with permission.

needles: size 1 dpns

mods: Lessee... I switched out a couple of the blue tones. The ribbing is 2x1 and 2 rows longer at the wrists. I did some m1L and m1R for my increases, because I'm stubborn... That's about it. A great chance to improve my colorwork abilities!

These really aren't my style personally, but I'm still crazy-goofy proud of them. For one thing, these were my Ravelympics project, the one that I finished on time and in twelve days. For another, that's some nice stranded colorwork there, folks. If I do say so myself.

Props to Cailyn Meyer for writing a good pattern, by the way. If you're interested but would prefer a more traditional design, look at her Snowflake Fingerless Gloves.

While borrowing my fella's camera (and cord and battery and recharger) I snagged some shots of a couple other FOs. La la la, it's gonna be picture city around here for a few days!

Friday, August 29, 2008

What I Got

I got them no-camera blues. Still.

In the meantime, go amuse yourself with this.

Seriously, it's the best thing for a bad day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What I Liked

From Barack Obama's acceptance speech, courtesy of the transcript on the New York Times website:

Democrats, as well as Republicans, will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past, for part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.

The -- the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.

I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.

You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.

Rhetorically, the man just rose above every wedge issue the Republicans have tried to drum up over the last twenty years. Now let's see if he -- we? -- can get people to listen and think.

In other (knitting) news... one more FO! And still no working camera. It's turning comical, this sudden flood of FOs with no means of documentation (or really, showing off). We will have daily FO posts once this dilemma of mine is solved and $200 for a new camera magically lands on my doorstop from the digital camera fairy. I hear she makes house calls?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So close. So close.

Still no pictures, and the FOs are starting to pile up!

And you know what? This morning I even had a couple people from an indie film crew in my apartment taking pictures with a digital camera to see if they want to film a scene in my kitchen next month. I very nearly asked if they could just take a quick shot, just a quick one, of my feet with the newly-completed Leyburn Socks on them.

Now before anybody gets excited about the film part, don't. This is an indie film, and when I say indie, I don't mean Hustle and Flow. I mean tiny budget, film-on-the-weekends-only, miniscule distribution if any. Trust me, you won't see a preview during primetime. This is just another one of those favors you do for people. (I'm the one doing the favor, btw. In case you were wondering.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ravthlete '08

Man. Of all the months for Ravelympics to come along. Broken camera, 12+ hour work days... my first stage management gig,* for crying out loud...

All I can say is, the upside of my fella's alcoholic twit of a roommate bailing on him and moving out early (aside from the drastic decrease in bad drama and juju) is that he is hiding his valuable portable electronics in my closet** until she's gone, which means my Ravelympic success and failure and other WIPs are tucked safely away on his camera. Tucked safe away, because the cord to transfer data from the camera to a computer wasn't included in the buried treasure.

I really hope I can get access to that cord before he gets his camera back, or he's going to flip through the images and, well, you can imagine. "Why do you need 87 pictures of yarn?"

But to commemorate my finished project, here is my single award, and I display it proudly.

* Dude. Long story, but check it out: I didn't screw everything up. In fact, I even did extremely well. Who knew?

** I'm brilliant. I put it behind and under my feminine hygiene supplies. Just in case I do get burgled, any male burgler will doubtless flee in terror. (I would say "run away like a girl," but any girl burgler would grab everything and fence it for untold sums.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

FO: ...

I finished 'em! I finished 'em! I finished the Albuquerque Gloves in time for the close of Ravelympics '08!

I'm sure you want to see a picture.

So do I, actually.

Yeah, the camera's still out of commission. No time to get a new one yet. Will borrow one shortly, and you better come back to peep my work, because I'm terrifically proud. These things are beautiful, and if you live in Austin I want you bidding on these at the Four Corners auction at the end of September.

So... A picture will come when opportunity permits.

Other clever thoughts:

1. I have a second project entered in the Ravelympics, one that doesn't look too likely now. Ah, well. It's good to be ambitious.

2. Since when do they actually enforce that "Don't step on the line" rule in the 200m dash? In nine years of track and field, I never once saw that rule enforced. True, I was running DIII, but come on.

3. It is a good thing to weave your ends in as you go when working on stranded colorwork. All I had to do tonight after finishing the ribbing was snip, snip, snip. So much better, even if irritating at the time.

4. A lot of knitters entered projects into the Ravelympics in more than one category, which doesn't seem right to me. And there's a few people who entered stuff in the colorwork category that has like one row of duplicate stitch, or maybe it's like a couple stripes thrown in here and there, which I personally don't think qualifies. I was getting all grumpy and thinking about ways to introduce difficulty scores, a la gymnastics... then I remembered, "Oh, right. It's all in fun." I ought to remember that more often.

5. No details or anything here, but don't ever live with an alcoholic. Unless you want to do character research into the nature of denial and self-destruction.

6. And lastly, dudes: go back and watch all the finals of the 400m hurdles. That was my big event in college, and look at them at the end of that race. These are the best runners in the world, and even they are slagging at the end. That race is freakin' impossible. So cool.

See you soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Speed of Yarn


Last weekend, I went to my parents' place for a quiet visit. I knit this much:

Day 3 of Ravelympics: Almost the entire first glove.

I'm not at my parents' place now. Yesterday I clocked 12.75 hours at two different jobs (neither of them writing my novel, incidentally). It's now day 6 of Ravelympics, and I've knit 10 rows of ribbing on glove two.

That tell you something about vacations?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ravelympic Jellyfish

I, too, have joined the Ravelympics. (If you know what Ravelry is, then you know what the Ravelympics are. Everybody's joined up.) I gave myself two projects: a felted purse of my own design out of Brown Sheep Top o' the Lamb, and a pair of Albuquerque Gloves, a pattern which has gotten almost no attention as far as I can see but deserves more. They aren't my style, per se, but they will be loved by the person who gets them, and the colors are gorgeous, and the yarn was affordable.

Here's the first one, almost half done as of this morning (courtesy of a borrowed digital camera that, unlike mine, works):

Is it just me, or do the dangly bits of loose ends look like the stinging tentacles of a jellyfish?

Fortunately, these don't sting. In theory, I won't even have to sew all of them in when I'm done, because the pattern recommends weaving each end in with the floats of the colors currently in play, as you go.

I hope I'm glad about that when I'm done, because it's irritating as all get-out to fiddle with them now.

Stranded colorwork, by the way, is not for beginners. If you were wondering. After a lot of experimenting and gnashing of teeth and massaging of knuckles and some help from a video at Sticks and String, I think I've figured out my own ideosyncratic way of carrying two colors in my right hand. That made a big difference. If you're considering trying stranded colorwork for the first time, however, I strongly recommend the Fake Isle Hat as a starter project.

If you've done some stranded colorwork yourself, care to share with me in the comments section how you prefer to start/stop new colors? Is there a better way to go?

My second project, that felted purse I mentioned up above, has not yet reached the needles. "It's all locked safe up here," as Will said in Shakespeare in Love. Ravelympics aside, I have a late-September deadline for both projects, because we're having another silent auction for the New Mexico volunteer trip I took part in last year.

Therein lies the connection: the gloves are Navajo- and Pueblo-themed. The Brown Sheep yarn for the purse I purchased (for wicked cheap!) at a trading post on the Reservation last year, and I'm imagining a design that uses this traditional Navajo motif. Which will require more stranded colorwork and possibly even intarsia, but a girl's gotta have a challenge, right? I don't have the proper colors for a true version of that pattern, but the ladies and gents of Austin, Texas are not likely to mind.

That's it for me! How are your Ravelympic projects coming?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Please water your dead wood, every two weeks.

This weekend, I took a basketweaving class at Hill Country Weavers. It was affordable, and I'd always been a little interested. Plus, it never hurts to have a new crafty skill, right?

We made a God's Eye melon basket. It took about three hours. When we were done, the teacher held up one of the baskets for everyone to see. "Make sure you spritz your basket with water every two weeks to maintain its condition."

Excuse me?

"Even if you treat it with sealant, you still need to spritz it. Otherwise it will get hard and brittle."

You mean I have to water my basket? Every two weeks? I know wool sweaters need some tender loving care, but I don't have to freakin' water them.

This teacher was telling us earlier how she teaches at weeklong basketweaving retreats, and she has furniture that is built from basketweaving. No doubt she gives away many of these baskets as gifts, otherwise she wouldn't be able to walk through her front door. "I'm so glad you like it!" I imagine her telling the recipients. "Now be sure to water it at least once every two weeks." And does she walk around her house every week or two to spritz her whole furniture set?

Suffice to say, you won't find me making any more baskets. In fact, I have no idea what I'm going to do with this one:

Wait a sec. Let me check that.

Oh, darn.

Yup. Adding some expensive insult to injury, my digital camera has crapped out. All I did between the last use and this morning was recharge the batteries. The display works just fine. I can look at pictures taken before the aneurysm without a problem, which means it's something in the works that can't be fixed by the likes of me.

Sigh. I had plans for those $150, but I suppose the economy did need a little reinvigorating.

Please pardon me if posts in the immediate future are picture-free. (Assuming I can still download pictures already taken off the camera, I should at least be able to post that light box tutorial I told you about.)

In the meantime, I'm going to go water my stupid basket.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Call a duck a duck, even if it's naked.

There's something known as a True Austin Day. Anyone who's ever had one knows it on sight.

I had a True Austin Day my first weekend in college, when a friend I'd literally just met invited me to hitch a ride with her from San Antonio, where we (1) met up with some friends of hers, (2) saw that Princess Diana had been killed via a newspaper box on the Drag but didn't have any quarters to find out more, (3) watched a bizarre bunch of people we didn't know rehearsing in their living room for a Rocky Horror show that night at the Alamo Drafthouse, (4) were witness to a meltdown over a Key Lime Pie involving a long-haired, goateed fellow in a broomstick skirt, argyle socks, and a chef's hat, and then (5) fell asleep on someone's floor as more people we'd just met watched Ghost in the Shell with the volume on high.

That's a True Austin Day.

It's impossible to define in specifics because the major identifying characteristic is its sheer unpredictability. (Bonus points if you wind up sleeping on a stranger's couch.) Essentially, a True Austin Day is the kind of day where you wind up somewhere you could never have predicted when you woke up that morning. One guy I know wound up at three different parties one New Year's Eve, including a biker bar, a barbeque, and then a political pow-wow at a state senator's mansion. Hard to say which was roudiest. A dear friend had a True Austin Day recently when she and her husband went to pick up a used drum set only to find themselves the recipients of much free booze, and you can imagine where that's going.

Having said all that, I'll admit that yesterday wasn't really a True Austin Day. I mean, I slept in my own bed and went to work, so already I'm out. But I had a glimmer in the evening, when I went to see Girls Girls Girls, a friend's improv troupe, perform.

After they were done, another group took the "stage" (in fact the back patio of an Eastside bar, next to the dumpster). They were called Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. As I learned shortly, they are a burlesque group.

Now check this out: when you say "burlesque," the French linguistic roots apparently make it different than stripping. I had no idea the power of language.

First there was a song by a short girl in skimpy lingerie and pincurled hair who flashed her parts (rather clumsily, if you ask me) at the audience, which happened to be made up of actors, singers, writers, and musicians (it was a theater party). They all watched very politely, but I wonder if I wasn't the only one who was thinking, "Damn, if I only took my clothes off then I wouldn't have had to spend all that money on voice lessons."

Then there was another woman in a wig and I think she was African-American, but she was dressed up in a purposely cheesy Native American getup -- faux skins (very tight across the bust), doofy headdress, mini-tomahawks, a few feathers, and a dinky fake fire on the ground. She did a little dance that mostly involved arching her back and spinning the tomahawks on strings around in the air.


Okay, part of me wants to get into the problem of whether that's considered disrespectful or not to Native American peoples, and whether or not the fact that the dancer was something other than Caucasian gets her a free pass... but really, I'm just kind of stuck on the fact that there was a nine-year-old boy in the front row who looked like he wanted to be ANYWHERE ELSE.

I'm told that these ladies perform in respectable venues -- coffeeshops, famous 6th Street music clubs, and so on. And I'm really working up a sweat trying to see how them calling it "burlesque" means they don't need a nudie bar permit.

At first I thought this was the second sign of the week that I'm getting old. (The first was the serious pain in my right knee while roller skating, thank you college track and field.) But no, I would have thought this was ridiculous even when I was that 18-year-old college freshman wandering around the Drag in a haze of confusion over the fate of Princess Di.

Man. Artistic sensibilities apparently go out the window once you find a group of girls who like showing off their boobs in public. Because look, they weren't even good. (The girls, not the boobs.) If they were really good performers, or if they'd found some great, interesting way to appropriate the burlesque formula or whatnot, then maybe I'd go along with it.

But really. Call a duck a duck, and don't use its feathers to hide your hoo-has unless you can really back it up.

So to speak.

Cross-posted at Letters from the Orchard

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The knitter on the bus goes snaGROROARRRRWLrl!

"All through the mor-ning!"

One of the charms of living in Austin is that anybody, and I mean anybody, will strike up a conversation with you. They say the South is friendly (minus Atlanta)? Come to Austin. You can step on somebody's foot and they'll invite you out to see some live music with them. People love to talk here.

Yesterday, I was riding a bus home. I've been taking the bus and saving oodles of gas money for about a year now. It's become more popular, with the increased attention to climate change and rising gas prices, and my once-empty bus home has become, over the last twelve months, full of semi-cheerful commuters who ride both the bus and a veritable cloud of smugness as we do not fill up our cars.

In the last three months, another knitter has joined the ride. She knits socks on DPNs, so it goes without saying that she's some to crazy-land with the rest of us. Sock knitters have bought in wholesale, yes? And knitters just loooove to talk about knitting. One of my fellow arts critics in Austin knits nothing but garter-stitch scarves, but she still wants to talk about knitting every time we see each other. My knitting Meetup group talks nonstop for the whole time we're together. My mother and I talk mostly about knitting - not because we don't have anything else to talk about, but we both really like it. (Plus I think my father's short on opinions regarding magic loop vs. DPNs.)

Yesterday, for the first time, the Other Knitter and I wound up on seats across the aisle from each other. I looked over curiously at the black-and-gray variegated sock yarn. (Maybe that should have tipped me off, as black is a color I won't touch with size 15 straights when knitting.) She didn't look up.

"What kind of yarn are you using?" I asked, smiling.

"Excuse me?"

"What kind of yarn is that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Oh. I guess I meant like brand." Surely she'd seen me knitting, too. I'd just put away the EZ Tomten Jacket a few minutes ago. She had to know I spoke her language.

"It's a yarn I found on Etsy." She turned back to her knitting. End of conversation.

Well. All I can think is, she must be a recent transplant, because that sort of thing just isn't done around here.

I did sneak one or two more glances at her, and I saw that she does this really weird thing with her left hand even though it's continental style, and it's really slow-going. Sucker.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Buy Your Color Here!

I'm pleased to announce that I now have my very own Etsy shop for hand-dyed yarn. To start, I'm offering six different fingering-weight yarns for sale.

For a limited time, I will offer a $4.99 discount off your entire order if you purchase a digital download of Arts the Beatdoctor's "Progressions" at Beats Broke for only $4.99. (Low-key trip-hop, perfect for late-night knitting with an iPod. Think Moby, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow.) See the store for more details!

These pictures were taken in my brand-spankin' new lightbox, built by yours truly. With a run-of-the-mill digital camera, a little color tweaking was still requred (trust the yarn, not the background), but it's a vast improvement over my kitchen table. I'll post a tutorial soon on how to build your very own lightbox for less than $20. It's worth it -- trust me!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Turn a Corner, Turn a Heel

This post is a big shout-out to my gal Nicki, who is a very accomplished knitter but who for some reason had as much trouble as I did figuring out the heel of her very first sock. So great was her consternation, in fact, that I think the lady attempted like six pairs or something before she finally got a pair of Crazy Monkeys nailed down, and then proceeded to make the whole free world try one on.

I mention this because Leyburn, you will not keep me down.

I finally figured out the short-row heel. It's not rocket science by any means, but my confusion stemmed from the stranded stitch pattern on the instep and stockinette on the sole.

See what happens? Every fourth row of the lattice stitch is full of floats, not stitches. That means that every fourth row on top is not knit, but it is knit on the bottom. Therefore, you have 33 percent more rows on the sole than on the instep. I had no idea how that would affect my heel.

Finally I just said darn the torpedoes and went for it. I used Wendy's Toe-Up Sock tutorial, and simply worked it out to have fewer short rows placed just so, and by all appearances, I've got it.

I brought these socks with me to work on in the lobby before seeing Tongue and Groove's Red Balloon (my as-yet-to-be-written review, eep, will appear in the Chronicle on Thursday). While waiting, a nice couple next to me asked after the sock. Like any of us knitters who have passed the crazy point and stamped our passports, I was pleased to tell all.

"Gosh," the woman said after a bit. "That's kind of a lost art, isn't it?"

Lost? Well, I did spend six months trying to figure out a short-row heel, but I'm not lost anymore, thankyouverymuch.

I politely informed her of the great knitting movement, and of the popularity of sock knitting in particular. But goodness me. It's like when I was knitting during a rehearsal break last December and a fellow actor said, "Geez, I didn't know you were eighty."

What's your favorite response to comments like that?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's here, yo!

The creation of brilliant work is so grinding.

All the making-of documentaries in the world can't capture the late nights, the back aches, the headaches, the surprises, the tiny pleasures, and the eventual relief and pride of putting out a new album.

Thank goodness you don't care about any of that. What you do care about is adding something brilliant to your iPod, so you can knit with a tapping toe and a wonderfully relaxed muscular system.

Arts the Beatdoctor is a 24-year-old Dutch producer with a stellar new album. Five songs, three of them instrumental (but don't you dare call them ambient!), make up Progressions, his newest achievement and his first American release on the Beats Broke label. Think Moby, Massive Attack, or DJ Shadow. Think about ending a really crappy day in bad traffic with a foot massage and a sexy scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Follow this link and go to the right side of the page to listen to two sample songs.

Then go to this link to get you some for only $4.99.

Let me know what you think!

EDIT: Okey-doke, for you iTunes peeps, here's the link. (I'm in the iPod-less stone age and didn't think.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Good Morning, Sunshine!

It's always the bad days when you wind up on the evening news.

Let me backtrack. My fella owns Beats Broke, an underground hip-hop record label. They have a new release called Progressions from Arts the Beatdoctor coming out on Tuesday, on both digital and double seven-inch vinyl. It's freakin' awesome, by the way. Steamy, smart, complex, fascinating music.

The vinyl is the issue. An internet blog is not the place to catalog the number of ways in which vendors have royally screwed up my fella's orders, but let's just say he's had to mention the words "Better Business Bureau" to more than one merchant over the last few weeks.

Also, the release party is in one week in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We are not in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

These circumstances meant that we both woke up bright and early on July 4 (me after attending a play, whose review I still need to write, on July 3) to begin stuffing records into sleeves and sleeves into envelopes along with stickers, download cards, and liner notes. Then a series of frantic phone calls to in-town merchants who will rush a shrink wrap job on July 4, to be told, "Yeah, but you need to get 'em here in half an hour" for the pleasure of having someone else run the things over with a glorified blow dryer.

Quick interlude: fireworks in Cedar Park, getting lost and briefly stuck on the %&#$ing toll road.

Figured out how to pack sixty double seven-inch records. (He did that. I was knitting a sock, I believe.) Woke up early this morning to get to one of the only neighborhood post offices open today, argued with the clerk that expedited shopping really is available to that postal code, finally won only to spend ten minutes puzzling over the customs forms, me without makeup and he in the clothes he slept in.

Then a news camera sets up in the lobby.

My hope at this point was that the cameraman was there to grab a few seconds of footage of the clerks stamping things. In fact, he argued with said clerks about federal restrictions on filming inside post offices, but in the end he won, and stayed.

And stayed.

The customs forms and various transactions meant that we both had to fetch things from different corners of the post office. We started to notice that the camera was following us from place to place. I walked over to grab some priority mail stickers; the camera followed me. It stayed trained on us as we debated how to list the price per unit in triplicate. And it didn't go away.

My only explanation is that between the two of us, the fella and I embodied an Austin archetype: the young couple out together before noon on a holiday weekend, semi-coherent, bleary-eyed, not dressed for success, and really wishing they could just go have breakfast.

Well, if anyone watched KXAN this evening at six o'clock, you might have seen us stumbling around the post office, vinyl-laden boxes in tow.

I, for one, did not watch the news.

Cross-posted at Letters from the Orchard.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

I appear to have gone the whole month of June without an FO.

Except for, y'know. The NOVEL.

I ended that late last night, the eve of my fella's birthday, with the completion of his gloves. Here he is, holding another of his gifts, a former shoeshine tin now used for coasters made from recycled vinyl, care of the stellajames Etsy shop:

Too bad I didn't have time to model them on my own hands before I had to wrap them up. They looked like floppy clown gloves!

pattern: Basic Glove Pattern by Ann Budd.
completed: June 30, 2008.
yarn: Plymouth Encore DK (acrylic/wool; just over one skein)
made for: my fella. Happy Berfday!
needles: size 4 dpns

Now, speaking of floppy clown gloves...

I want to share some math with you. Without giving away too much personal information, the fella's hands are 8.5" around at the knuckles, and 7" at the wrists. That ought to have meant a men's size M, according to these ingenious charts.

Had I followed the chart religiously and cast on 46 stitches, the cuff would have been ginormous. This is a common feature with Ms. Budd's patterns: she does not take away the requisite ~20 percent with cuffs and instead relies on ribbing to draw in the fabric enough so that the thing doesn't fall off (and I don't have to knit another glove). I eventually settled on 33 stitches.

I don't say this to criticize the designer or say mean things about people. Only to wonder why I seem to be the only person online who's mentioned this. Perhaps my ribbing is saggy? Perhaps the fella's wrists turn mysteriously scrawny at the merest touch of 2x1 ribbing?

No matter. Only, if you should follow Ms. Budd's otherwise helpful patterns, mind the sag.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why I'm Currently Away

I mean, good grief. Doesn't anybody in this city have any translucent white paper for sale? What's a girl supposed to do to construct her own lightbox?

Be back soon. I freakin' hope.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Picture Meme

Thanks to Sally Comes Unraveled for mentioning this meme. It's so very creative and fun. I encourage everyone who, like me, is now burning time before a major professional event (burnt-out brain cells, what can I say?) to give it a whirl.

1. Elizabeth - Liliana photomanip, 2. Shrimp and Penne Pasta Salad with Pesto, Bocconcini and Cherry Tomatoes, 3. Atitlan Dock, 4. Masjid Al-Noor, 5. D. Day-Lewis/Cosmos, 6. White Russian Unmixed - Lebowski Style, 7. Tutorial II - After, 8. squares, 9. The Letter Writer, 10. books, 11. Arc de Smart Triomphe, 12. One pretty boy

Directions if you want to play:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No pictures and fewer words

I've been post-shy of late. Rather than spending time on the internet playing games, surfing Ravelry, and generally goofing off, I've been pounding away at final* revisions to my mystery novel, Death Under a Plastic Orchard. Today is the day that I have finished the book -- or, as a mentor of mine once put it, I beat it out of myself. Feels good.

It's a tremendous, 85,000-word milestone, one that is as fraught with uncertainties as all the other creative pursuits I "enjoy." Can I get an agent? Can the agent sell it? If not, will I write another? How many will I have to write before one can be sold? Is there really such a thing as a top quark? It's sure to be an adventure.

To that end, this blog has now spawned, in the interest of focus. My life and work as a writer and artist shall be detailed (but not too detailed!) here. I'm sure stray bits will find themselves to this here crafty blog, but I know the truth: y'all are out for yarn pr0n. Heck, so am I. Let's give 'em what they want.

This will be a cordial separation, with little property to divide and no children. In fact, the two blogs intend to remain close friends. But be aware that all agreements are off if the book gets published. (Just saying.)

Before long, I'm hoping for a finished glove shot. That's a maybe/maybe not kind of thing, which is a long story involving a bit of a joke I want to play... Let's just say, I can't wait for the FO pics. Not a peep till then, y'hear?


* Ha, ha. There will be more, should it find its little way to publication. Only for now it's good enough to show people. That's saying something.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Economic Stimulus 2008

If anyone has been paying attention to economic news in the U.S., she will know that a vast swath of the tax-paying population (including me) are receiving $600 "economic stimulus checks," designed to save the economy from recession.

Heh. No, really, guys. Come on. There is nobody in this country for whom $600 is enough to serve as a life preserver. If you need a life preserver, you're likely looking for something on the order of $20,000 or more.

The whole "stimulus plan" seems to me like Congress and our president stayed up late one night, and in a fit of trying to sympathize with actual, struggling Americans, tossed this idea out in a grand "Let them eat cake!" moment, without thinking through the rest.

This is how I visualize their planning process:

This is the first glove, up to the pinky, of a pair I'm knitting for my fellah from Ann Budd's patterns. As yet, it covers the least useful finger of them all, and the rest are left to figure something out for themselves. Fortunately, I have skills, but how many people don't?

My stimulus check came a couple weeks ago. I donated a little to Doctors Without Borders:

I donated a little to the Nature Conservancy, to support their efforts in Costa Rica, chiefly rain forest conservation.

The rest I'm packing away in various schemes designed to (a) take advantage of a plunging stock market and (b) dodge this crazy inflation rate. We'll see how many more fingers I can cover before I run out of yarn and the hard winter comes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


First dates. They're even worse when they're other people's.

Last night, at the table too close to ours:

GUY: Did you know you can find prostitutes on Craig's List?


GIRL: Do you know that from experience?

GUY: What? No. No! I just heard it from, I mean, I just... I saw it on Dateline?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Let's Not Go Without Mentioning

Read this article, regarding Clinton's exit of the primary:

In a culture that’s reached such a level of ostensible enlightenment as ours, calling a powerful woman “castrating” – however you choose to put it – ought to be seen as just as offensive as rubbing your fingers together to convey a love of gold coinage when you talk about a Jew. It’s nothing other than an expression of woman-hate — and the degree to which such expressions have flourished, in the mainstream media and in the loonier reaches of cyberspace this year, has added up to be a real national shame.

I'm not upset that Obama has taken the nomination, but I wish more people, both men and women, would take note of what raging sexism has limned this campaign from the day Hillary said, "Me, too." Sexism - linguistic, professional, casual, automatic - is so accepted in the culture today that a person is often shamed into silence when sexist jokes are told, when bowling shirts with nudie girls on them are ordered, when a woman is assumed to be dependent rather than independent, when her opinions are simply not considered.

Not long after the Ohio primary, which Hillary won, a male sort-of-friend in Ohio wrote me in a fit of rage. He said something to the effect that "These women want to eat men alive and see us all dead." That is as close to the original as I can recall, since I deleted his email, but come on, folks. Get with it.

From where does this irrational male terror arise? Can you please tell me when the last time was that a man was scared to walk to his car alone after midnight because he might be assaulted and raped by a gang of hormonal women? What made the male employees of the theater where I saw Sex and the City on opening night stare at all of us with eyes widened in shock and fear, when we were just hanging out together and having a good time?

Get. Over. It.

Later in the same article, writer Judith Warner criticizes the recent Sex and the City movie for disallowing women to be dumpy or bitchy, from what I can gather. It's a shame she disses what was an imperfect film but an excellent event. Her critique is a throwback to earlier feminism that rejected anything traditional (crafters, speak up!). It's ignorant to insist that a feminist can't also choose to dress fasionably or be open about her sex drive. And as to the insistence that no real, working woman over 35 can be slender... come off it. You get no prizes for not taking care of yourself, no matter how busy you are or how many demands are placed on your time.

Read the rest of the piece - just disregard the SATC bits.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One in a Thousand

This weekend, the hilarious, witty, and quite-sweet-in-person Franklin Habit of The Panopticon came to Austin from Chicago to shoot at The Knitting Nest for his 1,000 Knitters project. On Saturday morning, I made the trek across town to take part.

I forgot to bring my own camera with me, but thankfully my knitting-friend Sally was there. Not only is it true that Sally Comes Unraveled. She also comes equipped with a camera, a folding chair, and no fewer than two WIPs at any time. Thanks, lady. You keep the rest of us from running out of gas.

It will surprise no one that I had no trouble chatting away while Franklin shot. Poor man; I may have taken him a little bit aback. One forgets after having spent so much time around actors that the neighbors leave the volume on a little lower, as it were.

That blue dress I'm wearing which shows up very little in the shot is a vintage dress I found accidentally one First Thursday on South Congress for $27. I get lathered with compliments every time I wear it, to the point where I either need to go back to the store for more vintage or find a way to make the dress wash itself so I don't have to take it off. After 29 years, I may have at last figured out "my look."

I shall have to make a "Habit" of it.


Sunday, June 1, 2008


At Central Market's bakery counter:

Lady Patron: Excuse me, are those muffins any good?

Male Employee: They're better than sex with 90 percent of the men you've slept with.


Lady Patron: I'll take two.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Quick Update

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me, one way or another, in the difficult decision of whether or not to take part in FringeNYC. I know that if you didn't care, you wouldn't have told me your opinion.

I have declined the honor of performing Ohio Trip in New York in August. While it would have been a memorable experience, the workload and financial expenses were insurmountable in light of other projects I have on my plate this summer.

As an artist, one must learn to treat one's work as a business, not a hobby. Now if I'd been invited to go to New York to knit with seasilk and buffalo fiber for three weeks...

Thank you again, and check back soon for my adventures with gauge, or as I am starting to think of it, gouge.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Summer FO, and a Gauge Mystery

Part of going whole-hog on the Trellis Scarf was that a couple nearly-finished projects were set aside. Here's one that was attended to the day after Trellis saw the way of the blocking pin:

pattern: Bamboozled by Cyn, free online.
yarn: SWTC Twize (100% bamboo, 110m, color: "Twellow")
made for: me
needles: size 6 bamboo circs
notes: The pattern said not to worry too much about gauge. I didn't, and now I have an FO that is about two inches too long. Gah!

I may have to frog the whole durned thing, but first I'm experimenting with button placement to see if this can be saved. In the picture, it's cute. Now can it be cute in motion?

I also spent all my limited knitting time last night swatching three times for this shawl-collared top from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer '06. To my surprise, it calls for the ultra-cheap Lion Brand Microspun. I'm no acrylic-lover, but why get a substitute when the designated yarn is about $12.50 total?

But I've never had so much trouble with gauge. I'm tellin' ya, this is a worsted yarn masquerading as sport. The label says 6 sts/in on size 6 needles. The pattern says 6 sts/in on size 6 needles over the lace. Not so much! Try 4.5 sts.

I went down to size 4 needles. I got to 5 sts/in. I'm tellin' ya, this is not sport.

Finally, I tried some size 2 needles, and pardon me, but the fabric is about as pliable as a steel breastplate. The yarn no longer feels silky-smooth, but stubborn and grumpy and stiff. That is how I will feel if I try to knit this top on size 2 needles.

I may defect and try some Knit Picks Shine Sport. Also inexpensive, and hopefully more workable! What a girl does for fashion...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mystery FO Revealed (Again!)

A true record for me, I finished the Trellis Scarf (Rav link) in five weeks. This included several "7 into 5 cluster" stitches (hard to finish, easy to drop) while riding public transportation. Boo yeah!

Gratuitous blocking shot:

pattern: Trellis Scarf by Evelyn A. Clark, Interweave Knits Spring 2006.
yarn: Knit Picks Shadow (color: Redwood Forest, 100% merino, 440 yds, <1 skein)
made for: she of the late Yellow Turtle blog, as a pre-wedding gift. Sorry to spoil the surprise, dear.
notes: I know they barely show up, but look for the little gold beads added to the pattern just below each cluster stitch. They glitter much more in person.
Also, and I know you can't tell, but I was a total moron. I've been knitting by chart in the round so much that I forgot about the even-numbered-rows-are-reverse rule when you go back and forth, and I knit every other row rather than purl. So, check out the garter stitch, huh? Didn't even figure it out until I was two-thirds of the way done.
If you're thinking of knitting this, check out these mods for the bind-off end.

And a close-up:

Thanks for all who commented on the FringeNYC opportunity. I'll post something when it all gets sorted out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Good news, and yet.

My show Ohio Trip has been accepted to FringeNYC, the New York International Fringe Festival. This is a big deal. But now that I have the acceptance letter and one week to commit to participating...

It's a BIG DEAL. Occasionally shows go from here to little places like Broadway (not really what Ohio Trip is destined for) or other exciting and profitable ends.

I get some income from box office.

I want to see this show continue somehow. It's a really good script.

Three weeks off of work. I don't know if I can even do that!

Three weeks of feeding myself and finding a place to stay without income.

I have to pay $550 up front, on Wednesday.

I'm already out $750 from the play's first run. We're looking at a total loss of maybe $2500 when I'm done with FringeNYC. Can I take that?

Not to mention trying to rehearse and tech and market and produce a show from 1,000 miles away.

I'd take a pass, but other artists from Austin and around the world find a way to make this happen. (True, those artists have company funds to survive on, but still.) Am I already so old that I am too scared to risk it? I've taken so many risks already, and this one's an awesome one because, hello, FringeNYC. But am I being stupid to take a pass? Do I play it safe or pay up for some crazy memories and a stressful summer?

This isn't just a question of how I will spend my August. This is a question of who I am, and who I'm willing to be.

Damn it.

P.S.: Contest, here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

World's Smallest Bloomers

What do you do when you have fifteen minutes until the start of a bachlorette party, you're expected to bring a pair of undies for the bride, and you have no more room in your budget after everything else involved in being a guest at a modern-day wedding?

Knit the world's smallest pair of bloomers!

That's 15 minutes with me, some #9 dpn, and a little leftover Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Highly unfunctional, terrible craftsmanship, but dude. I should get a merit badge.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is not a sewing blog.

When one of the knit-bloggers whom I read occasionally posts a picture of a recent sewing project, I'm always a little disappointed. It's yarn I'm after, and that's what I want.

These days I'm practicing monogomy with the not-so-mystery project that's due May 11, however, so here's what I have for you.

For my birthday, I asked for and received a Sewing 101 class at Craft-o-Rama in South Austin. Took me a while to get around to it, but I did yesterday. I enjoyed myself and the close attention I got from the instructor. This bag is the project you make in that class.

I'm absolutely delighted with what is clearly going to be my new knitting bag. Craft-o-Rama specializes in woven fabrics with hip designs; their selection is small but nifty. The sample projects in the store used multiple prints in complimentary colorways for single items. I wasn't quite brave enough to take that on, but I'm pleased with the pale yellow liner I chose to accompany the pink/brown cherry blossom print.

I don't have the funds or the room right now for my own sewing machine, but that isn't stopping me from daydreaming about all the things I could now make. A bridesmaid's dress from a couple years ago is dying to turn tea-length, and I could use a few more casual skirts.

But knitting has my heart and my brain. Onward, not-so-mystery project!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Sally Comes Unraveled highlighted this link in her blog. It's a tool to help you determine your priorities, and if you're scatterbrained like me, you need all the help you can get.

It told me to go buy a house.

That made me short of breath, so I plugged in 15 knitting projects from my queue. I had a few ties, but the first three projects were as follows:

1. Vogue Multi-Pattern Top: Summery, fashiony, colorful. Bring it on.
2. Pinwheel Cape: I might be able to wear this to a wedding in a few weeks. If time stands still.
3. Noro Scarf: I love color. I also fell down and bought some more Silk Garden in a white/beige colorway, and I now want this scarf with a firey passion. It may, however, mean buying two MORE skeins of Noro to match the beige/white. So it goes.