September 30, 2006


My (awesome) friend Meredith is what we call an "enabler." Awhile ago, she casually mentioned one of her local yarn shops was going out of business and everything was on sale. And that I should probably take the commuter rail up to meet her there. That outing was a supreme success - I totally rounded out my DPN collection and got ten skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool for under $60.

But this weekend Meredith outdid herself. She had a friend that was looking to get rid of some yarn. Did I by chance want to help? Oh, and as long as I was in the area, did I want to swing by the cutest little yarn shop that just opened in Beverly Farms?

This is what the stash-busting jaunt got me. There's actually more but when you pile it all together, it's a little shocking.


And because the phrase "too much yarn to carry on the train" simply didn't occur to me, we went to Yarns in the Farms immediately afterwards. This is the outside of their shop. Go there immediately and give them lots and lots of money.


I could barely stand to leave. It's tiny and adorable and the owners are wonderful and they have the coolest sample projects and the most exquisite yarns. At one point I might have accidentally slipped and fallen and written a check for this:


I was so excited (and by excited I mean "high") from all the yarn that I only cursed a teeny tiny bit when my rebound project, the project that was meant to restore my mojo post-sock, wound up like this:


Yes, I'm out of the brown yarn, thanks for asking.

September 27, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do

The sock and I broke up last week. I just didn't feel like he was giving as much to the relationship as I was. What with his yarn that tangled horribly when I was winding it, and the DPN I snapped while trying him on, and all the frogging and reknitting, I knew we just weren't meant to be together.

But as so often happens after a breakup, I got a little lonely over the weekend. I thought maybe the sock and I had spent enough time apart that we could just be friends.

So I invited him over, we had a glass or two of wine, and wouldn't you know thing led to another, and soon I had finished his heel flap, picked up his stitches and started in on his gusset decreases.

I even tried a new method for picking up the stitches, courtesy of Grumperina. Much fiddlier than the usual way, but no unsightly holes.

Apparently I enjoyed this new method so much that I picked up 27 stitches on a 21-row heel flap.

I've been in serious denial about the problems this might cause, but I finally have to face reality: it's puckering like a bastard and no amount of blocking will fix it.

I see our night together changed nothing for the sock. I was just a convenient one-knit stand.

I feel so cheap.

September 24, 2006

Get yer knits out!

After all that worrying about teaching knitting, the KnitOut was great fun. Given Boston's demographics, it was awfully heartening to teach the basics of knitting to a six-year-old Chinese girl, a middle-aged African American woman, girls in their teens or early twenties and a mom with her toddler. I see the fiber love knows no demographic boundaries. Even the toddler seemed to be feeling the lure of fiber, despite his mother's gentle attempts to convince him that tandem knitting with a two-year-old really wasn't working out.

On my side, the technology continues teaching me the Important Karmic Lesson: Though shalt not mock the technical abilities of others. I was all set to blog the event, with charming photos of knitters of all ages and shapes and descriptions. Then I discovered I forgot to charge my camera's battery. I managed just the one shot of mystery knitters at work before the thing died completely. But look! Knitters! In public!

Also, there was swag: a violently green skein of Classic Elite fun fur, a subtle khaki-and-olive ribbon tape yarn from Cedifra Algarve (?), and a wee hank of Malabrigos cotton (which will be perfect for my friend that wants to knit but is tragically allergic to wool), not to mention a fistful of discount coupons. Because what I need is incentive to buy more yarn.

I even found what might be my first sweater project: the Portland Sweater (scroll down a bit to see) showcased by the fine folks at Webs. The sweater is about ten thousand times cuter in person and knits up in a cute, cheapie yarn.

The weather even held until late afternoon, despite a particularly violent gust of wind that snapped a good-sized tree branch and nearly took out a table of knitters.

Knitting, sunshine, swag, and spreading the love of fiber? What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

September 22, 2006

Oh, so that's what "karma" means

I had a whole moderately funny entry written about a mix-up this afternoon, with crackly phone lines, missed lunch plans, an inability to tell my friends apart on the phone and the hijinks that ensued.

But instead my computer decided to teach me an Important Lesson, with its insistent message that it was "unable to acquire an IP address," even though all the lights on my modem and router were brightly lit and/or blinking, as they should be. It still stubbornly refused to connect to anything, even when my wireless indicator said it was in fact "connected to the wireless network."

LIES. There was no connection to the wireless network. There was no blogger. There was no Simmons WebCT where I have to post two assignments over the weekend.

And how did I respond to this disaster? With hand-flapping, random poking and blank, terrified gaping, of course! I'm so, so sorry I made fun of people that were afraid of technology. Lesson learned.

September 21, 2006


Legwarmers spotted in the wild on attractive, stylishly dressed commuter: 8:15 a.m., C line, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Librarian-in-training to boyfriend: HA!

September 20, 2006

Minimal knitting but lots of ranting

Big knitting news! I joined Socktoberfest! One day I’ll figure out how to put the button in my sidebar like the cool kids do. Until then, here it is in all its “joining the knitblog community” glory:

And as part of my quest to help other knitters feel better about themselves, I give you the following story: A few rows before starting the heel flap of the sock-who-shall-be-shunned, I joined a new ball, knit a few rows and suddenly found myself out of yarn again, because I was KNITTING WITH THE TAIL-END OF THE OLD YARN. Fine, I tinked back, laughed at myself a little, knit a few more rows with the right yarn, then started the heel flap. Which I then managed to KNIT WITH THE TAIL-END OF THE OLD YARN. I had cleverly pulled the tail-end of the old yarn up from three rows back.

I never really thought of having a three-strikes rule in knitting, but this sock is in Big Trouble, young man. So he'll be having a time-out*, during which he will sit in the corner and think about how his behavior makes others feel.

*time-out to begin immediately following his photo shoot amidst the last of the summer flowers, to end no later than October 1 when Socktoberfest participation mandates celebrating socks. I never said I was a consistent wool-mommy.

In the meantime, I’m on the lookout for a new project. Something on two needles, perhaps?

Besides bungling my sock, I also had a library-related crisis of faith yesterday: I’m beginning to question the whole librarian-in-training endeavor. In my defense, I had spent three hours and a completely unnecessary amount of money on the T that day and hadn’t really had anything to eat and had sat through a number of particularly futile meetings.

So by the time I arrived at said moment of crisis, I was hot, sweaty, exhausted and cranky: pretty much a three-year-old who can’t stop crying and whining but still stubbornly insists that they “DON'T NEED A NAP”.

To start with, I lost my T pass some time over the weekend. I’ve already given the MBTA a good chunk of money for my monthly pass, and I take the T to and from work every day. So every time I plunked down $1.25, I felt a fierce new surge of fiery resentment. It’s amazing how much more I dislike riding the B line when I’ve just dropped five perfectly good laundry quarters into the gaping, hungry mouth of the token collector and the train is still packed and lurching, just like it always is. It feels so much more personally disappointing when it’s my laundry money that’s directly funding such crap service.

In any case, I went to the Copley library Monday night to pick up a few books. After waiting patiently in the checkout line, I was told I had fines. Hefty ones I would have to pay before I could check out my books. As a librarian-in-training, I understand fines must be paid. So I stood (ever-so-slightly less patiently) in another line to pay my fines.

The woman behind the counter scanned my card, and with a slight gasp, loudly stated the size of my fine [insert embarrassingly large amount here]. But as I prepared to pay, her computer stopped working. For a minute or two, she alternated shaking, poking and staring at her mouse with a kind of mute terror. Technical support was marshaled. The mouse was unscrewed and blown into to dislodge a rather substantial amount of dust. Still no movement on-screen. Still no fines paid.

There followed twenty minutes of hand-wringing and mystification and still more poking at the computer while the three other lines of customers moved along briskly, with nary a computer glitch in sight. And I just stood there, periodically smiling placidly at the bevy of people prodding the malfunctioning computer in front of me. I really wasn’t visibly irritated, I swear. But that’s only because a nasty, superior part of me was really entertained by the degree of technical incompetence I was witnessing.

Then yesterday, my library class went on a field trip to a literacy library at UMass Boston, in which several (still fairly entertaining) rounds of technical support were required to hook up a VCR and a laptop projector.

Now, I know I work in the corporate world and am judgmental by nature and do lots of presentations and not everyone is comfortable with technology, blah, blah, blah. But shouldn't everyone in a professional position at least try to make sure their technology is up and running BEFORE a presentation? And how can so many people in the library field be so damn uncomfortable with technology? This includes students, professors, library aides, etc.

I’m also pretty sure the very nice and clearly very dedicated librarian didn’t intend to give us the Most Depressing Library Tour Ever (MDLTE). But God – the dire lack of funding, the plastic sheeting over the bookshelves (to keep out the RAINWATER, of course), the dingy acoustic tile ceilings, the piles of leftover floppy disks, the manual checkout system that was literally manual – the checkout slips are written out by hand…

On the way back from the MDLTE I finally admitted that my T pass was lost for good and bought another $10 temporary pass for the rest of the week's commute. Upon arriving home, I discovered my long-lost T pass in the back pocket of a pair of jeans whose pockets I had already checked roughly four thousand times. Score:

MBTA - $61.50.
Librarian-in-Training - 0

What with all that technical difficulty and the MDLTE and all those futile, overpriced hours on the T, and the sweating and the lack of food, I was suddenly, absolutely convinced that I had made the worst decision of my life by pursuing an MLS.

I even had a ridiculously elaborate vision of my future, wherein I sat day after day in a grungy acoustic tile-ceilinged basement library, surrounded by moldering books ('cuz, you know, it had never really dried out since that time the basement flooded) trying to help coworkers that couldn’t plug in a VCR. A future in which I fought bitterly with other libraries for tiny amounts of funding, amounts roughly equal to the cost of my last two-day, two-person meeting for the Day Job.

I fully realize this makes me a huge asshole. My professor drove a bookmobile through Watts immediately after the riots, for fuck’s sake. The librarians of New Orleans are doing heroic work trying to rebuild their libraries. And I’m whining about crappy acoustic tile and a faint scent of mildew.

I’ve also decided to be pissed about it anyway. Why do libraries have to scrape and beg for every single penny of their funding? Why is the literacy materials library for the entire state of Massachusetts housed in two small, depressing rooms and staffed by a single overworked librarian? And why aren’t people in libraries better with technology? How can we hope to build an information-literate society when so many of our guides are clearly terrified of the technology needed to access much of that information?

So am I making a huge mistake? Am I just panicking at the thought of some day giving up my cushy corporate job? Or is there something to it?

September 16, 2006

Retreating to the crosswalk

So I've abandoned the whole Jaywalker sock thing. Given my three previous attempts, I decided to go for plain stockinette instead. I tell myself it's not exactly laziness. Instead, I'm treating the sock kind of like a giant swatch.

After I knit a simple stockinette sock in this yarn, I should have a reasonable idea of my gauge under normal conditions. This will enable me to make more accurate pattern adjustments in more complex patterns in the future.

Yeah, that's it...

September 15, 2006

Knowing it in your gut

Oops, fell behind...

Monday/Tuesday: I'm officially back in training for the fall semester, which really isn’t all that different from being out of school for the summer, except for rushing last-minute to do my reading the night before class.

Though Monday night’s last-minute reading did have the most thrilling typo I’ve ever seen:

Did you see it? Did it make you giggle and repeat "whore community" over and over again? Or are you not a ten year old?

Wednesday: A small group of friends came over, and yeah, my friends can be on the noisy side, and there was a fair amount of drinking and talking about sex on the back porch, but the elderly gentleman that leaned out his bathroom window to shout “Take it inside, folks” really could have been nicer about it. As could the person that left a remarkably similar note the next morning, signed vaguely – and somewhat menacingly – “Your neighbors.”

Which neighbors? The same crotchety neighbor? Different neighbors? Every other person in the building? I’m getting a little paranoid now.

I freely admit, being noisy on the porch at 11:30 on a Wednesday night is high on the Asshole Things Your Neighbors Can Do list. However, it's not as if I've had raucous gatherings before, and as soon as I realized what jerks we were being, we went inside.

Seriously, doesn’t it take more than one incident before you write a snotty note? Even if you’re a crotchety old man? And especially if you’re a crotchety old man whose penis Your Neighbors have seen because you can’t be bothered to shut your bathroom window at night?

Thursday: In retrospect, I really didn’t need to stay up (even inside and quietly) until almost 3 in the morning. And those last few drinks were entirely unnecessary. And given how rancidly hungover I felt all day during our all-day corporate outing, fried chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes for dinner after was a spectacularly bad idea.

I know all of this now, not due to a sudden maturation of my common sense, but thanks to the violent pooping.

In between all the pooping, knitting was actually accomplished. Sort of. I’m back on the Jaywalker bandwagon, now for the third time. Lorna’s Laces in “Clay” pooled horribly, so I gave up after four inches. A later attempt in Opal yarn also got ripped out after four inches, not due to unattractive pooling, just to my own ineptitude.

I figured self-striping yarn wouldn’t pool. And all evidence to the contrary, I’m not a completely inept knitter. I might as well try again, right? With the super-cute “Girly Stripe” yarn from Stash? The yarn that did this to me when I was winding up the skein? The yarn that clearly does not want to be anything other than a huge wretched knot?

I even knit a stupid gauge swatch before starting:

And things were going really, really well through the first few pattern rows. But then I kind of stopped paying attention, bunged up the zig-zagging completely and needed to rip it back.

Drastic measures were in order, but I couldn’t bear the thought of reknitting all that 2x2 ribbing. Lord, do I hate that 2x2 ribbing. So rather than ripping it all the way out and starting over, I ripped it back just to the ribbing, then spent two hours performing microscopic fiddly knitting surgery to ensure I had all 76 stitches picked back up, facing in the right direction. Wow, does that yarn split like a motherfucker.

When I wasn’t busy blowing past double decreases or forgetting to knit through the front and back loop at the end of each needle, I did teach a coworker to knit during the office outing. And I didn’t mention poking crotches or spreading labia at all. Maybe this Knit-Out teaching gig will work out ok.

There may even be a few converts among my coworkers – two of them had that look in their eyes: very, very focused, slightly glazed and kind of gleeful all at the same time.

I’m thinking about dropping off some leftover Cascade at their desks, as gateway yarn.

Because as they say, “The first one’s free.”

September 11, 2006

The road to hell...

...It is paved with the intention to volunteer at the Boston KnitOut. I was hoping to staff the info booth, or maybe to set up chairs or something. You know, meet some nice knitters, see lots of lovely works-in-progress, etc. Instead, I've been assigned to TEACH KNITTING. Like someone WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING.

I suppose I have taught a bunch of my friends to knit, but in my own special obscenity-laden way. e.g., I'm not sure how to explain casting on other than "now, spread its little legs and poke your needle into its crotch."

I don't know if that's what the nice folks at the KnitOut had in mind.

This also means I have to have a reasonably interesting work-in-progress to show off to my fellow knitters. The pressure's on!

September 10, 2006

Mistakes were made

This is a sad day at Casa Librarian-in-Training.

On the red-eye back from California, I was eagerly leafing through my twice-yearly InStyle for evidence that legwarmers really were all the rage for fall. For the past few weeks, the boyfriend has been hatefully insistent that leggings and legwarmers are not at all the same thing. Photographic evidence was a crucial component of my “prove that all the mockery was entirely off-base” campaign. Though it pains me, I am finally forced to admit that he was right and I was wrong.

Fortunately, the boyfriend is not such a good flyer, so his attention was focused on clutching the armrests and picturing his imminent fiery demise, rather than on my poor fashion sense.

So for the record, when the people that make fashion decisions say “leggings,” they mean these:

Not these:

There, I said it.

And as further proof that I am a woman capable of admitting fault, the legwarmer is stylishly shot with the remains of the plant I knocked over while attempting to capture its legwarmery goodness. The boyfriend should note that this is the self-same christmas cactus he got in big trouble for knocking over a month ago.

Obviously this plant wants to die. If it is so eager to pitch itself to the ground, who are we to stand in its way? My humblest apologies for all that yelling.

All is not lost on the legwarmer front. I'm thinking the legwarmer can simply be converted into a really huge armwarmer. Or, as the ever-helpful boyfriend suggested, maybe a “cock cozy for a mule.”

We just had a wonderful vacation in California, so I will try to forgive his occasional lapses regarding my knitting. Four days of fabulous food and even more fabulous company makes for a comparatively tolerant librarian-in-training, thanks in large part to my best friend Sarah, who hostessed awesomely in every way.

I even had time for a stash-enrichment jaunt to the appropriately named Stash in Berkeley.

The goodies include Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Rosehip, two skeins of Lorna’s Laces in Girly Stripe (one skein is already on the needles), and yet another skein of Silky Wool, destined for luxurious lounge socks, ridiculously cute striped socks and a Branching Out scarf, respectively.

Unless things go drastically wrong (she types, tempting fate), none of these are destined to grace a mule’s genitalia.

September 5, 2006

Ain't no sunshine when they're gone

I finally broke down and counted my stitches on the sunshine yarns sock. I'm getting a solid 10 stitches per inch on size 1 needles, when the approximate gauge was 7-9 stitches on size 0-2. This would explain why I can't even get the silly thing over my foot. Stupid gauge.

I see a trip to frogtown in a certain sock's future...

September 4, 2006

Incidentally, she's also a fine knitter

What to do, what to do?

Do I work on my sunshine yarns socks, the socks that are damn cute but sized for an eight year old?

Clearly, I still haven't learned that doing a gauge swatch is not just for pussies, but is also helpful for anyone that wants to knit a wearable item.

Or do I virtuously use up some stash yarn?

Or do I surrender to this yarn? The yarn I fondled every time I went to Windsor Button for months. The yarn I finally bought when I made the mistake of going to the yarn shop after having drinks with my boss (note to self - never ever do that, ever again).

But oh, this yarn... 600 shiny yards of a rayon/flax blend in the most gorgeous pinks and purples.

The question is, what to knit with it? And could any finished object possibly be as perfect as this yarn is, just sitting there?

Or maybe I should focus on accepting Christ as my personal saviour, as the young man "just doing a quick survey" in Coolidge Corner today suggested?

The poor kid's head almost fell off when I told him I couldn't really get behind the whole concept of sin.

Though I can totally get behind his cartoons...

Enjoy, sinners.

September 3, 2006

Less than four hours, my ass

The leg warmers proceed. I knit, I purl. I repeat. I feel like the Last Minute Knitted Gifts people have overestimated my knitting speed rather drastically. Or at least my ability to multitask, what with the extended version of Dune on TV, and Sting oiled up in some sort of pointy patent leather g-string thing, and the portentous Brian Eno theme music and all.

I know I'm not the world's fastest knitter and obviously I'm easily distracted, but less than four hours to knit two 26" legwarmers? Please.

And do excuse the lack of even my usual minimal photo styling. It's rainy, it's dark, my flash is crap, and I'm fairly sure that legwarmers might only look good on toothpick-thin girls.*

* I know there are some people that think legwarmers don't even look good on toothpick-thin girls, but those people are very, very wrong.

September 2, 2006

Done and Done

My first finished pair of socks!

Pattern/yarn: Yankee Knitter Pattern #29 "Classic Socks for the Family", two skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca. This pattern is particularly handy because it includes instructions for fingering, DK and bulky weight yarn, sized from infants to men's large. You never really need another basic sock pattern.

Next time I would definitely do more calf decreases. These are going to be on the slouchy side with just 4 stitches decreased. And I would replace the pattern's wonky-looking "knit two together through back loop" decrease with a tidier slip-slip-knit. And I'll try Cat Bordhi's suggestions for avoiding squarish edges on kitchenered toes.

Though ultimately the sagging ankles, misplaced decreases, and goofy-looking K2G TBL's don't matter at all. Imperfect as they are, I just adore them.

And because the entire world revolves around my new socks, the weather is appropriately chilly - raw and grey with the promise of rain. A perfect day for wearing fuzzy socks, communing with my stash and picking out my next project!