Friday, February 23, 2007

The Power of Suggestion

I've been stalking Zimmermania for months and finally joined up. It's funny, I've had EZ's Knitting Without Tears for awhile now, but never really got the urge to make anything of hers until I started seeing everyone else's EZ stuff online. I blame my initial lack of enthusiasm on the not-too-flattering pictures and drawings in her books, and my failure of imagination. My moment of revelation came as it did for many others - the stunning Seamless Hybrid that brooklyn tweed revealed in August. I can't tell you how many times I have gone back to that post and its luscious photographs. I am obsessed with that sweater, and, judging from all the other Zimmermaniacs making it, I am not alone.

But that's not what I'm making right now. I think it'll be fall before I get one of those on the needles (for My Old Man, for whom, you may remember, I already have a sweater on the needles, though I'm clearly in no rush to finish it). No, it's the Tomten that's got my number right now. Glorious garter stitch, modular shaping, minimal seaming, and a pointed hood - what's not to love? So I'm making a pair for my boys, in KnitPicks Sierra. I had three skeins of Sierra (in Lettuce) left from My Old Man's anniversary sweater. I figured it would take four skeins to make a whole tomten, and I wanted to do a stripe around the edge in Pool, so I ordered a skein of that.

Turns out that though I think four total skeins would still be the right number, I misjudged the amount of yarn I would use for the size stripe I wanted. I'm down to just a few inches of Pool and still have the hood and both sleeves to do. Other than the time spent waiting on a new KnitPicks shipment (which will also include yarn to do the second tomten in Pool with a Lettuce edge), this is shaping up to be a very fast knit.

Since I'm all about the power of suggestion these days, and since I can't move ahead on the tomten until my KP package arrive (tracking says its in a sortation center 30 minutes from here, but it's been there since yesterday and the tracking says it won't get here till Tuesday - good grief, maybe I could just get in my car and drive to the sortation center!), I may just have to knit myself a Calorimetry. I seem to be the only one around who hasn't done one yet.

The power of suggestion does not only persuade me in knitting. Super eggplant started talking about cupcakes yesterday. Not just talking - she showed a picture of the most yummy-looking decadent chocolate cupcake. And she included the recipe (from the Cake Doctor's cupcake book - there's a Cake Doctor CUPCAKE book, people! How did I not know this already?). I've been having a serious chocolate jones lately and nothing I've been eating has satisfied it. Had to make these. HAD to. And, for good measure, I ordered the book, too. Yeah, I'm a marketer's dream.

Even before the frosting, they were calling my name. Without the frosting, couldn't they be considered a muffin? You know, like for breakfast?

I wasn't the only one tempted by the cooling cupcakes.

In the battle with impulse control, the impulse clearly won. Oh, and Mommy might've told him to go touch it for the picture. (here's a lesson in how to confuse a kid: tell him not to do something 15 times in a row, then pull out your camera and tell him to go ahead and do it, then put your camera away and tell him not to do it again)

Oh, but the frosting is what makes them truly decadent. That chocolate jones? Totally satisfied now. I mean, for tonight. Breakfast time tomorrow? Now that's a different story. Becky, I'll try to save you one. (Becky's going to watch my boys while I work tomorrow, since My Old Man is out of town. Yeah, I made a whole batch of cupcakes for a household of one adult and two toddlers. What of it?)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shrove Tuesday, Sock Tuesday

I love this Tuesday. First there were Paczki, then there were socks, then there were pancakes. The sock things hasn't made it into the liturgical calendar yet, but it definitely should.

Knitting Help Sockintine Swap Socks
from my Sock Pal Andrea
pattern: RPM
yarn: Gypsy Girl Creations hand-dyed fingering weight, in Painted Desert
verdict: my feet are in love!

Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda (translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted with her own
sheepherder hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as if they were
with threads of
and the pelt of sheep.

Outrageous socks,
my feet became
two fish
made of wool,
two long sharks
of ultramarine blue
by one golden hair,
two gigantic blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored in this way
They were
so beautiful
that for the first time
my feet seemed to me
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
of that embroidered
of those luminous

I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them
as schoolboys
as scholars
sacred documents,
I resisted
the wild impulse
to put them
in a golden
and each day give them
and chunks of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle
who hand over the rare
green deer
to the roasting spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
then my shoes.

And the moral of my ode
is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it's a matter of two
woolen socks
in winter.

Ah, that Neruda. He got the sock thing, didn't he?

Oh, and my sock pal (the one I knit for) got the socks I made for her, too. She likes them! Happy Sock Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Deadline Knitting

Or how to take a completely soothing and enjoyable hobby and turn it into a high-pressure sport.

Okay, not really. I mean, if I were a normal person, I'm sure I could handle such things as sock swaps. But I am an easily-freaked out, obsessive-compulsive, deadline-dreading, procrastiknitter. Also, when faced with a mistake that involves either frogging or a highly-involved fix, I can get thrown off for a whole week before I finally make myself do the work. Ridiculous, I know. [When I finally did face the task, I astonished myself by actually dropping 3 sts down 35 rounds, putting the yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo in the three places it was supposed to go, and coming back up to the round I was on. It was not perfect, but it did work.]

At any rate, here they finally are.

pattern: Fancy Silk Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks
yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, blackberry, 2 skeins (with some left over)
needles: size 1 dpns
start: January 21
finish: February 14
modifications: none
verdict: I love them, and I hope my sock pal does too.

I love the scalloped cuff and the lace details

And you know what I think of the yarn.
Love me some Lorna's.

You may recall my disappointment with the length - of lack thereof - of the Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan, which I finished in October. I don't wear it as much as I had hoped, because cropped is just not my style (and I haven't yet had the time or inclination to knit some more inches on the bottom). Since it is a nice rich red, I did wear it maybe twice during the Christmas season. And with today being V Day and all, I decided to try to "rock an outfit out of it" as goodkarma suggested.

You can't really tell in this pic, but the shirt I'm wearing under it is pink. I love the whole red-pink thing together, partly b/c as a kid I was taught that those two colors shouldn't be worn together. I'm also wearing my pink lace socks. Today's Valentine's experiment has confirmed for me that if I ever plan to wear this again, I do in fact need to suck it up and add those five or so inches. And not just because of the following conversation:

me to My Old Man: Is this outfit totally goofy?
My Old Man: Well, I know it's the style, but you know I don't really get that look - a long shirt hanging out from under a ... - what do you call that kind of sweater?
me: Cropped
My Old Man: Cropped. Right. Well, it's just not my style.
me: I know. It's not really my style either, and I don't really like showing my stomach, but I want to wear the sweater today. Is it totally goofy looking?
My Old Man: I don't know. I'm sure it's fine.
me: Okay, thanks.

So I wore it, even though it might look goofy. Because I'm a risk-taker like that. But next time? It'll definitely have a few more inches.

Hey, thanks y'all, for all the very sweet anniversary wishes!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

"I Do"

And I'd do it all over again.

February 10, 2001

From Blossoms

Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the joy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hat Trick

Remember how I gave My Old Man's hat away, only to discover he had lost the one I knit him last year? And remember how I then set immediately to knitting him a new one? Well, later that night, when I was roughly seven inches in, My Old Man came gleefully into my study to announce his good news - he had found his old hat! I didn't fully share his excitement, since I was well over halfway done with the new one. But he was thrilled to have found it - and I was touched that the first thing I knit for him apparently had such sentimental value.

Still, he didn't complain when I soon handed him a brand-new hat, much softer than the last - and a bit longer, to cover his ears better. (Last year's hat was made from Manos). Given how frequently hats seem to go missing around here, I suppose having one extra won't be a bad thing. And when My Old Man saw the new one, he said, "Please don't give this one away."

pattern: frugalhaus classic ribbed hat*
yarn: Malabrigo, Marron Oscuro, less than 1 skein
(pattern calls for ~150 yards)
needles: size 8 circs (KP Options) and dpns
start: January 31, 2007
finish: February 2, 2007
verdict: we both love it - of course the yarn is yummilicious; I also love this pattern, which is super simple and so classic, and I love that it easily fits a variety of head sizes (everyone in our family can wear the same hat and just fold the brim up different amounts)

*if you think you might want this pattern, you better snatch it up quick-like, while it's free - it looks like frugalhaus has decided to start selling patterns they used to publish for free....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hopping on the Ballbandwagon

Ubiquity, thy name is Warshrag. You've seen them everywhere else. Now you're seeing them here.

With a list of to-knits a mile long, I found myself grabbing cotton from my stash on my way to the airport. For some reason, these Ballband Warshrags (from Mason-Dixon Knitting and the Peaches and Cream ballband) suddenly called my name.

It has been a year since I've made any dishcloths, and much longer than that since I've made any for my own kitchen. But I've been wanting to make these particular ones for awhile. And since I went through a minor reorganization and decluttering of the kitchen last week, it seemed like the perfect time for a new little bit of brightness. Not to mention that I really needed a mindless knit for the trip. The only time I had to knit was in flight - but that was all I needed to knock these babies out.

pattern: Ballband Warshrag from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Bernat Cottontots in cream and baby blue, Manos Cotton Stria in deep red
needles: size 7 KP Options
start: February 4
finish: February 6
verdict: haven't used them yet but already totally love them - though I'm pretty sure that cream will be pink after I put them in the wash. That red is just too rich and deep not to bleed.

Little Buddha likes them too.
(you wouldn't believe how many pictures we took of him posing with the warshrags, which he really does seem fascinated with.)

edited to add: there's another cool contest this week happening here

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Carolina in my Mind

I went to North Carolina this weekend, for my uncle's funeral. Though the occasion was a sad one, it is also always a happy thing for me to go there, and to see my family. There aren't words, really, for the experience of going back to the place of my deepest family roots (though I myself have never lived there). I moved a lot as a kid (thanks to being an army brat) - and this place, where my family has lived for three centuries, always felt like a sort of touchstone for me, a place I could always return to, to remember where I come from and who I am. I got home late last night, but I'm still feeling the Carolina love.

Olivet United Methodist Church
Lilesville, North Carolina

Olivet United Methodist Church Cemetery

I'm related to the majority of people in this church, and a majority of people in this graveyard. Just to stand in these spaces is such a powerful experience of belonging to my kin, and to this earth.

Of course there was knitting, too. Though not much, really. There just wasn't time for it, except on the plane. And though I certainly have plenty of work to do on the lace socks (still unfixed) and men's zippered raglan, I found myself packing something entirely different at the last minute. Headed to the land of cotton, I was struck with the urge to work with that fiber. Pictures soon of the results. Cotton is always such an interesting tactile experience for me. I really, really like it - there is something very earthy about it to me, not to mention sentimental since I'm from CottonLand. But I always, always enjoy returning to wool when I'm done. My hands just love the substance of wool.

In other knitting news, I won a contest!! I'm so excited! I never win stuff (okay, I did win $100 worth of denim when I was 18 - but we're talking yarn here. YARN!). And I love Dave's taste in yarn, so I'm uber-excited. Wheee!


And in non-knitting news, I have a public service announcement regarding under what circumstances it is appropriate to call me "honey." You may call me "honey" if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
  1. You are my husband.
  2. You are my parents.
  3. You are a southern woman.
  4. You are a very elderly woman, southern or not.
  5. You are a woman who sees me crying or in crisis (in which case it doesn't matter if you are southern or elderly).
  6. You are one of my very close friends, male or female.
  7. I ask you to pass me the honey, and you make a little joke, "Here's the honey, honey."
That's the list. If you are a security worker at the Detroit Airport, and you are a man, and you have the authority to search me or my bags, it is never appropriate to call me "honey," as in, "Have a nice flight, honey." Unless you fit one or more of the above seven categories. Which you, sir, did not.

Y'all, seriously. This was not even in the south. Blew my mind and left me speechless. A Detroit security worker. I mean, really, is that in the training manual?

Okay, enough ranting and reminiscing. There's knitting to be done.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Wardrobe Refashion

I lurked on the Wardrobe Refashion '06 blog from the time it began. I was completely smitten with the concept - just didn't think I had the chops to pull it off.

Now that I'm feeling a little more adept at the sewing machine and am, in fact, getting as obsessed with possible sewing projects as I am with knitting projects, I've decided I think I can do this. So when Wardrobe Refashion '07 was unveiled, I jumped in. I only took the 2-month pledge for starters (there are also 4-month and 6-month options), but I can always re-up.

The Pledge

I, earthchick, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings!

Isn't it a cool concept? I'm way excited!

And of course, my "to make" list is longer than ever, since I'm planning on doing this not only for myself but also for the boys. (I think My Old Man is well-enough covered clotheswise for now). Of course, it's not like I would ordinarily be buying a ton of clothes in just a two-month timeframe (now if I had done the 4-month, that would've been a bigger challenge, what with the warmer weather arriving and the boys probably needing new sizes in warm weather clothing). The main thing for me is that Easter is coming up, and I hope to craft Easter outfits for the boys and me.

So that's what I'm doing.

Oh, and there's a wee bit of knitting news to report, but I'll save it for its own post. Hope all of you are staying warm - it's freakin' COLD here! (yay for wool!)

edited to add: Check out this contest. Thanks to schrodinger for putting out the word.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Blogger's (Silent) Poetry Reading

from Transcendental Etude

Vision begins to happen in such a life
as if a woman quietly walked away
from the argument and jargon in a room
and sitting down in the kitchen, began turning in her lap
bits of yarn, calico and velvet scraps,
laying them out absently on the scrubbed boards
in the lamplight, with small rainbow-colored shells
sent in cotton-wool from somewhere far away,
and skeins of milkweed from the nearest meadow -
original domestic silk, the finest findings -
and the darkblue petal of the petunia,
and the dry darkblown lace of seaweed;
not forgotten either, the shed silver
whisker of the cat,
the spiral of paper-wasp-nest curling
beside the finch's yellow feather.
Such a composition has nothing to do with eternity,
the striving for greatness, brilliance -
only with the musing of a mind
one with her body, experienced fingers quietly pushing
dark against bright, silk against roughness,
pulling the tenets of a life together
with no mere will to mastery,
only care for the many-lived, unending
forms in which she finds herself,
becoming now the sherd of broken glass
slicing light in a corner, dangerous
to flesh, now the plentiful, soft leaf
that wrapped round the throbbing finger, soothes the wound;
and now the stone foundation, rockshelf further
forming underneath everything that grows.

- Adrienne Rich
The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New 1950-1984

Love, love, LOVE this whole poem, and especially this stanza.

Thanks to Cara for getting the word out about the Blogger's (Silent) Poetry Reading. Read more about it here. And if you post a poem, leave a comment and let me know - I'd love to read it!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Solution? Something different.

Thank you, blogfriends, for your kind commiseration and enlightening suggestions about how to cope with my current knitted imperfections. I knew you'd understand. You're the best!

Regarding the Men's Zippered Raglan, I'm going to just keep on knittin'. My Old Man will not likely care that some parts have more white than others. And frankly, I'm tired of this knit. Funny how some projects (easy v-neck raglan, Cozy) keep me enthusiastically engaged for hours on end, and others, no matter how passionately I start out on them, leave me kind of bored. No way am I ripping this one back - if I do, I doubt I'll start it again. I think part of my bad attitude with this knit has to do with my growing irritation with LMKG regarding errors. As Alison pointed out a year ago, this particular pattern cannot leave you with the result pictured (i.e., sleeve ribbing matching up with body ribbing) unless you put the smallest size body with the largest size sleeve. Thankfully, Alison was willing to do the Math for the rest of us knitters, and gives great instructions about how to knit the sleeves to match the body. Still, it irks me to shell out the big bucks for a beautiful book that has so many mistakes (this being simply one example). [I'm also irked that this pattern does not call for dpns but then has me cast on 48 sts for the sleeve, only to discover that there is no freakin' way I can fit that few stitches around a 16" cable. I only realized this when we were on the road at Christmastime, my dpns packed carefully in my luggage, far, far away from the passenger seat.] At any rate, I'm keeping it as is, and I will choose to look at it as Amber suggested - little white clouds floating in a bright blue sky.

Regarding the socks, I am definitely going to try just dropping those 3 sts down 25 rounds and see if I can get things squared away from there. We'll see if I can be the boss of my knitting or not. I couldn't muster the energy/concentration/will for it yesterday, though. I just felt too sick and weak still to imagine trying such a feat.

So what is the logical thing to do when you can't face fixing a mistake in an intricate knit and you are bored out of your mind with one that has no chance of being done by deadline anyway? Cast on for something new, of course!

But first, a little story. On my other blog recently, I mentioned that a homeless man who sleeps at our church asked me for a winter cap. Knowing that My Old Man had an extra (because I had knit him a new one last winter), I went home and got My Old Man's old hat for the man (I did ask My Old Man first). It was much appreciated, and it has been really cool to see him wearing it pretty much all the time (and to know that his head is warm when he sleeps outside in the freezing cold every night). So boy was I surprised when I discovered that My Old Man had actually lost the hat I knit for him (he loved that hat - the first thing I ever knit for him - and had been hesitant to tell me he couldn't find it, which is why he didn't mention it when I asked for his old winter cap).

Regarding giving away what turned out to be My Old Man's only hat, I had to wonder: is this irony, or merely unfortunate coincidence? Most people use the term "irony" incorrectly of course (see: Alannis Morissette, almost every newscaster, many of your friends and neighbors). So I always question myself before ever using the term irony to apply to any circumstance. Fortunately for me, I live with a resident expert on the matter of irony, who happens to have written an entire book on the subject. (Mad props to My Old Man, who still totally awes me.) So I took the question to him, and you wouldn't believe how much time we kicked it around: is this irony? or merely unfortunate coincidence?

Verdict: irony. Explained thusly: In my thinking that my husband didn't need a hat, I took action that actually put him in a position of needing a hat. [*scratches head* - now that I write that out, it doesn't sound so ironic. I'm still convinced, though, on a gut level, that there is definitely something ironic about this.] Interestingly, if there were an audience to this little bit, it would definitely qualify as dramatic irony, wherein the audience knows something (My Old Man lost his knitted hat!) that the actor (earthchick, who gives away his other hat, thereby leaving him who she thought had two hats with none) does not. Not to mention perhaps a bit of poetic justice - the man who does not have a home now has a hat, whereas the man who does have a home now needs a hat. Regardless, I'm happy I gave the hat away - the homeless man definitely needed it more.

Not to mention the blatantly obvious - I am now well-justified in casting on for a brand new, unexpected, and very necessary knit.

A hat for My Old Man. It's the same pattern I used for his original watchcap, one that I love for its elegant simplicity and wonderful functionality. And this is the yummilicious yarn that Sarah gave me - Malabrigo in Marron Oscuro (dark brown). It is brown and black with a lovely greenish cast to some of the lighter browns. It will go perfectly with his jacket, which is dark brown and brownish green.

Also, it is a perfect portable project. You know how everyone calls socks the perfect portable project? Well, not the socks I'm knitting! I tried to work those bad boys in the waiting room of the Urgent Care Center earlier this week, and the whole time I was sweating it, thinking I'd be called in to see the doctor right in the middle of a lace pattern repeat. But this little knit? Totally mindless. Just k2, p1, repeat, for 10 inches before any shaping happens. I started it last night and have so far worked on it while watching 24 on DVD, while waiting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, while waiting in the doctor's office itself, and while sitting at traffic lights. Okay, and a teensy little bit while actually driving. Now that's portable.