Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When you first found obsession

Hey: did you check out my new free pattern, Brr-ring!!!?

I have many WIPs right now. So I will intersperse pictures with a bit of story.

Last Friday night, I went to the theater to review two plays that are part of the same festival. Back-to-back overnighters: I'm hard-core. I just so happened to bump into a woman who reviews for another publication, and we chatted for a bit after. She is a wickedly smart, assertive, articulate individual, and I enjoy her company.

As we were about to part ways, she remarked that she wanted nothing more than to "go home and sit by the fire with my husband, my cat, and my knitting ."

She said the magic word.

I jumped up and down a few times and, since words had evidently left me, I reached for my half-finished first Leyburn Sock. "You knit, too?!" she exclaimed.

There was a Critics' Table happy hour on Monday evening, and on Friday she told me that we should both bring our knitting. As it turns out, she's a chicken, and I was the only one willing to knit in public. I'm comfortable with that. We each must go through our own process before we're willing to be ourselves and trust that we'll find acceptance.

What addles me is that another of the critics there confessed to a bit of knitting herself, and they each insisted that they can't do anything like a sock, no, nothing but a little garter stitch here and there.

Now, I inherited from my father the odd and, for other people, inconvenient trait that we figure that if we can do it, then by golly, the rest of the world should be able to as well. (That is less enjoyable when we start talking about our particular area of expertise and forget that we have a nice education and lots of practice, etc., and I wonder what the heck is wrong with you that you haven't read Martin Esslin's treatise on the absurdist playrights? It's, like, fundamental. Duh.)

Honestly, it's not like I'm talented or anything. I just move a couple sticks together a lot because it calms me. Which says far more about my nervous state of mind than it does about any particular skill level.

Then I recalled that I only moved beyond garter-stitch trances in late 2006. Exactly when I began intense work on my one-person show. Which nearly equated with a nervous breakdown on my part. Knitting kept me from plunging into a catatonic state. There were still tears, of course, but there were four pairs of Fetching to go along with them.

So fess up, internet. What was the thing that tipped you into crazyland? Even if you're not a knitter, I want to know what happened in your life to suddenly make you lose all reason when you talk about, say, the Astros. Or Greek word roots. Or Sufjan Stevens. Or whatever.

And if you don't have an unhealthy obsession... Seriously. Do you need a foot rub?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Je suis tagged!

I've been tagged! Soneone reads my blog, and they tagged me! I am so validated. Thank you, Sally Comes Unraveled.

4 Jobs I've Held:
freelance writer
production assistant

4 Movies I Watch Over and Over:
Last of the Mohicans
Pride and Prejudice (1996)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Princess Bride

4 Places I've Been:
Venice (easternmost)
Boston (northernmost)
Pt. Reyes, CA (westernmost)
Laredo, TX (southernmost)

4 Places I've Lived:
San Francisco
San Antonio

4 TV Shows I Watch:
King of the Hill
Battlestar Gallactica (on Netflix)
Daily Show (or I would, if I had cable)

4 People Who E-mail Me Regularly:
my mom
my fellah
that poor fellow in Nigeria; he still needs that investemnt money for his 9 kidds!

4 Favorite Foods:
chocolate truffles
dinner with my fam

4 Places I Would Rather Be:
on vacation
San Francisco
a lovely retreat in the Hill Country, minus the scorpions

4 Things I'm Looking Forward To:
after Monday (I have like 4 deadlines that day)
becoming a homeowner, if that ever happens
finishing my novel, so I can pimp it to agents and editors
finishing my first pair of knitted socks

4 People To Tag: (I'm going to tag two non-knitters just to be different.)
Yellow Turtle


Hey, peeps. Imagine my surprise to learn that this is post #100. I mean, I don't even think of myself as someone who would have a blog, let alone post to it 100 times. But there it is!

In celebration, I considered a yarn giveaway. However, the only yarn I'd part with is, to be polite, blech. So instead, I'm giving away a free pattern. It's a sweet little ditty.


Is it silly? For sure. Is it useful? Partly. Is it a heckuva lot of fun to make? Heck yeah!

This pattern is intended to be a template for your own creativity. As is noted below, cell phones come in all shapes and sizes, and so must cell phone cozies. So as long as you’re working those brain muscles to adjust the sizing for your own cozy, think of what else you can do. Would you like to try a crazy color combo from your stash scraps? Are there any neat-o stitch patterns you’d like to try out for just a few rows, in lieu of these mini-cables?

I recommend stash diving for scraps of any aran/worsted weight yarn. (Despite my love of bamboo, I recommend a sturdier fiber like wool or cotton.) Of course, if you choose to buy new yarn for this project, be prepared to crank out holiday gifts for everyone you know. This little cozy uses so little yarn, you’ll have as many sweaters to give out as Ron Weasley’s mother.

Sized to fit phone that measures 4.25” by 2” by 1”. Due to the wide variety of cell phone dimensions, I highly recommend measuring your phone or iPod first. Indicated in the pattern are a few places where you can add or subtract stitches to accommodate your phone’s size.

Lion Brand Wool-Ease [80% acrylic, 20% wool; 197 yd/185 m per 85g skein]; color: Dark Rose Heather; 1 skein
2 set(s) US #8/Xmm circular needles of any length, or 1 set DPNs
1 set US #10/Xmm DPNs

cable needle (optional if you cable without an extra needle)
tapestry needle

17 sts/23 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch on size 8 needles

C2F: Slip next stitch to cable needle and hold to front of work; k1, k1 from cable needle.
C2B: Slip next stitch to cable needle and hold to back of work; k1, k1 from cable needle.


With smaller needles, CO 7 sts.
Starting with RS facing, work rows 1-3 in St st.
Row 4: p7, CO 13 (total of 20 sts). Join to work in the round.

Rnd 5-6: K all sts.

Rnd 7: K14, C2F, k1, C2B, k1
Rnd 8: K all sts.

Repeat Rnds 7-8 three more times. Add or subtract a repetition to fit your phone.

On final round of stockinette, k last st with waste yarn.
Next round: K 2 sts with waste yarn; sl 3 waste yarn sts to left needle and k these sts again; k 9 sts; k 3 sts with waste yarn; sl 3 waste yarn sts to left needle and k these sts again; k 6 sts.

Next round: k1, m1, k11, m1, k8.
Next round: k14, BO 5 sts, k1.

Work back and forth in St st until work from BO measures 2.25 inches (or to the top of your phone), ending with WS.

Hood shaping:
Row 1: k1, k2tog, k8, w&t.
Row 2: p7, w&t.
Row 3: k8, k2tog, k1.
Row 4: p all sts.
Row 5: k1, k2tog, k7, w&t.
Row 6: p7, w&t.
Row 7: k7, k2tog, k1.
Row 8: p1, p2tog, p5, p2tog, p1.
Row 9: k1, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k1.
Work 2 more rows in St st.
BO all sts.

Keep a generous tail and pick up seven stitches held by waste yarn. Work in St st for 6 rnds; BO all sts and weave in ends, making sure to use the tail to cover holes at the base of the arms.

Seam together bottom, and the two corners of the hoodie.

Hoodie tie:
With smaller needles, pick up 6 sts along the right edge of the hood, 5 sts along the top, and 6 sts along the left edge.
With larger needles, K 1 row in this semicircle.

Cut three strands approx. 12 inches each. Tie them together with a double knot at one end. Loosely braid them together.
With a needle, thread the braided tie through the loops made by the larger needle. Tie the second end together with a double knot and trim the ends.

Weave in all loose ends. Go play in the snow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Sock Help?

The poll has closed, and folks, I agree with 75% of you. The sock toe was huge, and in that perfectly unmathematical manner I mentioned before, Leyburn Sock v2.0 (with 8" around instead of 8.5") works much better.

Now onto two other problems! (Tell me others of you needed this much coaching when you knit your first pair...)

I've noticed that the pattern has little vertical give. But look at the difference between the sole and the instep:

See how the sole fabric is turning out much longer than the instep? How will this affect what I do when I get read to work on my short-row heel?

Also, look at the spot between the instep and the sole, at the gap between the two dpns:

This is what I get for being cheap and buying the dpns rather than one long circular for magic loop... But honestly, is there any way to avoid this? I think this particular pattern makes the ladder between needles more pronounced, but no matter what kind of tug I give the yarn to close up that gap, it's pretty big.

In all honesty, I doubt I'll really mind that gap once the sock is done... Still, if there's something to be done to make sock #2 better, let's hear it!

In other news...

The next post is post 100. I ought to do something faboo to celebrate, as other knitters seem to do. I'll dive into the stash to see what's contest-worthy, but no promises. I like my yarn!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Early Morning Jolt of Dismay

This morning, I woke up to the gentle sounds of public radio commentary as I prepared my breakfast. I carefully chopped up half of an organic banana to put on my whole-grain cereal. I turned on my laptop; then I remembered to plug the laptop back in, since I unplug it at night to save power. All in all, by 8:30 a.m., I was fairly pleased with myself and my progressive lifestyle.

My timing was off, however. The battery was nearly out, so the computer died just as I plugged it back in. No matter. I gave it a few seconds, then I pressed the on button.

Nothing happened.

I pressed it again.


I poked it three more times.

Nothing, nothing, nothing.

I checked the wall socket. Yup. I tried to turn the computer on again.


I whimpered. I continued to poke, press, prod, plead, and pray. Then I had to go to work.

Clearly, since I'm posting this, things turned out okay. Upon the advice of Pieces and one other genius, I handily removed the battery myself. Once the pesky thing was extracted, the computer decided to work again.

But dude: that was one crappy morning.

Now I'm going to back up my files for the sixth time this evening.

P.S. Thanks to everybody who gave advice about the sock (I frogged and reknit) and who offered encouragement on the play last night (it went fine). Y'all are so nice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The end is nigh!

If you're looking for something a little unusual to do this evening, may I suggest...

by me
showing at the Frontera Festival
Hyde Park Theater at 43rd and Guadalupe
Wednesday, January 16
8 p.m.
ticket price $12
Advance tickets: http://www.hydeparktheatre.org/site/index.html or 512.479.7529.

My show is the 5th show of five plays. They are all short plays. They are good.

In my play, you get to see the Seventh Angel of the Apocalypse dine on a turkey pot pie, as the rest of us debate it's worth it to maintain a living faith in our lives.

Now where else will you see that for $12?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sasquatch asks your advice

Dear internet,


I am knitting my very first sock ever. (Pause for trumpet fanfare, because you know these things matter.) I found a pattern here, and some sock yarn my mom gave me from her stash (she is so nice!). I took the toe from the IK summer '07 piece on "On-Your-Toes Socks." I figured out the stitch pattern, made adjustments for my gauge and my very big feet. Specifically, size 10 feet, which is just going to happen if you're 5'10", and 8.5" around.

Then I tried it on when I got to the foot-knuckles.

No, that's not a hat. That's a sock on my foot. Promise.

I've had trouble with Ann Budd's instructions before, in the so-loose-it's-falling-off sense. No criticism intended, of course. Her math seems to work, but as all of my dear friends know, I personally defy mathematics.

But I'm also a sock noob. Please take the poll at left, which will be up for a week. Or leave comments. Especially if you're tall, like me, and have Sasquatch feet. Most especially leave a comment, email, or send chocolate-laced instructions if you've knit socks for my feet before, and you know who you are.

Thank you, internet. Sasquatch loves you.

Addition at 9:26 p.m.:

Gauge is precisely 8 sts/in. Foot is 8.5" around at knuckles. Ergo, it should be 68 sts, right? So why is it falling off? Especially in a pattern with little elasticity in the instep? Snarf!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Needle Shortage?!

What do you mean I don't have the right needles to start a pair of socks? What is going on that I can't start those gloves because I don't have any size 5 dpns?

I have an entire beer bucket (Shiner Bock!) full of knitting needles, plus a full set of Boye interchangeable needles. What is going on that I somehow don't have enough and need to go buy more?

Deep breath. Here's a speedy, un-phenomenal FO from last week:

pattern: Square Shawl by Cookie A., from Vogue Knitting winter 2007/08
yarn: Caron Perfect Match (100% acrylic; Blue Teal Ombre). Don't use it.
made for: Aaron's cat, as a favor (to Aaron, not the cat)
needles: size 9
notes: Obviously, a Vogue Knitting shawl is going to be larger and prettier than this. This shawl provided a nice square pattern is all. This blanket is about 15" x 15" (discounting the messy blocking -- I don't think kitty will care!). I did three of the first repeats, and one of the charted repeats.

The variegated acrylic yarn is just hideous, in my opinion, and I really don't like to criticize in a public forum. But it is: it's scratchy and it hurts your fingers and whoever gets a garment made from this stuff won't wear it because it irritates the skin. It was the most durable yarn in my stash, however, and the machine-washableness ought to work well for a pet.

In other news:

1. I've decided that I really like Bill Richardson. What a shame the media isn't even giving him a chance. As an erstwhile newspaper writer, I don't like to criticize the media in general, but it seems like the television networks, newspapers, and co. have prematurely narrowed our choices. Don't you think?

2. I have a 15-minute play going up next Wednesday, and I am mired in rewrites of the last two pages. The reason why I am mired is that I have discovered some accidental depth in a play in which the Seventh Angel arrives to begin the Apocalypse but chooses to share a turkey pot pie with the actors instead.

In other words, this wasn't something I intended to be serious.

However, as I was discussing my writerly confusion with my SM/AD/seamstress/life-saver, I realized that I am in fact saying some rather intense stuff about religious faith, about what we choose to believe in.

Damn it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I am so cute.

Think I'm being bold? You try on this hat. Trust me, you'll be saying the same thing!

pattern: Aveline Slouchy Hat by Jennifer Tallapaneni, at Pieknits.
yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash (100% superwash wool; 100 m/110 y; Coast Gray; 1.5 skeins)
made for: me
needles: sizes 6 and 9

I love this pattern so much, I want to marry it. I cast on during my flight to Nebraska, I worked about two-thirds during the rehearsal for a Catholic wedding (man do they ever have a lot of stuff to do), and finished it off before even getting out of bed on New Year's Day.

The yarn had me barely off-gauge, and there wasn't much I could do on the road. It still fits, but if (no, when!) I make another, I'll go down a needle size instead of up.

It's easy on the hair. It also just so happens to match my stylin' Beatsbroke t-shirt.

A look at the decreases:

So. Barack Obama may have won the Democratic Iowa Caucus, but do you see him wearing a hat this cute? I don't think so!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A line of demarcation

A year or two ago, my mother knit me a beautiful pair of wool socks. I love to wear them at home, where I don't turn on the heater for environmental reasons.

I don't know what brand of yarn she used, but it was all the same dye lot of the same colorway. It's machine-washable and colorfast. But look what happened:

You see where the color is completely faded in half of each sock -- but the opposite halves? My mother swears up and down that she switched skeins, but in a different place than where the color fades in/out.

I'm left wondering if I'm folding my socks in some damaging way. That doesn't last long, because I then remember that I rarely fold my socks.

Has this ever happened to anyone else? What on earth do you think happened?


On another note... That's some weird Iowa s*** going down. I want to caucus now, too! But only because then I could bake cookies and fight with my neighbors and determine the future of the free world in one afternoon. I mean, I already do two of the three on a normal day, but you add baking cookies on top of that, and that's worthy of a call to Aunt Ethel.

Post your thoughts, on the socks or on the Iowa results. Unlike some folks, I'm not afraid of the occasional dispute in the comments section. After all, individuals should be allowed a public forum to safely voice opinions and disagreements about something vital as faded sock yarn.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Monkeys in Nebraska


My Nebraska adventure of last week included many lovely and fascinating things:

  • Snow
  • Cold weather
  • Beef
  • A wedding of people I didn't know, but they seemed nice enough
  • Open bar(s) at said wedding
  • More beef
  • A sweet and cozy small town among the plains
  • Various drafty spots in Omaha
  • Even more beef
  • A visit to the fabulous Omaha zoo
  • Delightful home cooking and baking
  • New friends
  • Still more beef

When we arrived at the Omaha Zoo and were waiting in line to buy tickets, a woman behind the desk was taking a call. "You said an orange hat? In the blue monkeys?"

Now, how can you not listen when you hear a call like that?

She switched to her walky-talky. "We have a boy who lost his orange hat in the blue monkeys. Please send a zookeeper," she said. A static-clogged response followed, which I made out to be, "If he can't do a better job with color-coordinating, then don't make it our problem. 10-4."

Tickets in hand, my fellah and I made our way first to the Largest Indoor Rainforest in the World. It was fascinating and beautiful and strange and drippy. There were turtles (TURTLE!), huge fish, monkeys, parrots, and slithery things everywhere, jumping and swimming and slinking and lying innert. We were so close to some of these animals, we even became a bit nervous, given recent events.

Then we came across some more monkeys, dark-colored with white fur around their faces. They were playing with a scrap of bright cloth. One in particular seemed to take ownership, munching on bits of orangey-red yarn, sticking his head inside the droopy hole, pulling the thing down over the tops of some bamboo shafts, then bouncing up and down as he held onto the edge.

Need a better look?

That is, or was, a knit beanie made from variegated orange and brown yarn, stretched beyond all recognition by a cluster of blue monkeys.

I hope that hat wasn't hand-knit, or that boy's hide is already hanging on the wall beside a warm, Nebraskan fireside.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What I Learned in '07

1. No more fingering-weight sweaters. Seriously. Six months of work? I've read one or two blogs where the knitter who finished Thermal claims she did it in only a month, but that sort of thing makes my head spin around three times and my face turn green. I'm thinking something with a wee bit more bulk to it next time.

2. Don't write, perform, and produce your own one-person show. Or rather, do it, but only once. It left me in proud, accomplished tears.

I should add that this is a lesson I did not learn very well, because I'm currently directing a three-person short play named "Apocalypse" for the '08 Frontera Festival that goes up January 16. This is a play which I have written and in which I also perform. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

3. There's a reason you people up north like wool. I just returned from Nebraska, where the state has been buried under snow for over a month. "Better y'all than me," says this Texan!

Hey, look! Wool really does keep you warm and dry!

4. Relationships take time. I am smitten with my fellah. I've also lost my regular workout routine, failed to maintain my regular writing routine, and I hardly ever cook. I vastly prefer talking to him on the phone or exploring Austin or watching a movie together or fill-in-the-blanks (Get your minds out of the gutter! Honestly.) to doing any of those other things... But I realized that the health of my relationship and the prettiness of my kitchen floor have an inverse relationship.

5. I have a lot to say. I failed to come remotely close to finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, but I witnessed several friends fall off the wagon during NaBloPoMo, because they had nothing to say. I was rather amazed, because, well, you can't shut me up! I might not have time to say it, but I've always got at least one thing to share. (Of course, I'd never look down on my friends for finding themselves at a loss for quippy ideas.) Eureka: I really am a writer after all.

Along the lines of #5, I could keep going for hours. But that would get a bit too personal for Monsieur de l'Internet.

I shall post about a lovely FO from this morning, when I find some daylight time for picture taking. I also have some delightful pictures from the bitter reaches of the north (stop laughing, Canadians).