April 29, 2007

All wool all the time

Or so I like to pretend. But I actually have a dark past. As the craft pirate already mentioned, we had a yarn swap at our last knitting group meeting, and it was there that my dirty little secret came out.

For the swap, I really tried to strike a balance between unloading some crap (because, um, one woman's trash is another woman's treasure) and finding nice yarn a deserving home.

With that in mind, I parted with some Soy Wool Stripes and a skein of Malabrigo that I loved but knew I would never, ever knit up (wrong colors), as well as a few solo skeins of Lamb's Pride in colors I just didn't love. They've all gone to good homes with knitters who will appreciate them.

It's possible I also balanced out the good stuff with a rather larger cache of, ahem, fun fur than I usually admit to owning. While I firmly believe that there's no such thing as horrible yarn, some of this stuff came pretty damn close.

Fun fur was my gateway yarn. Let us never speak of it again.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Valerie, of Knitting in Pink, that night. She was working on an Hourglass Sweater in the exact Classic Elite Skye Tweed I bought at Webs. That yarn knits up really, really pretty. And since I own the yarn, I totally felt pleased and proud of her Hourglass, just as if I had knit it myself.

Besides having exceptionally good taste in sweater yarn, Valerie is also one of the yarn pushers proprietresses of Yarn4Socks. You might not want to visit if you are at all weak-willed. There are sales. You've been warned.

The lovely ladies of my knitting group also joined forces to buy irresponsible amounts of yarn at visit the Gore Place Sheepshearing festival yesterday.

My friend Megan (of the dainty feet), who will become a Knitter if it kills me, joined us, despite the fact that she thinks she doesn't "really" knit.


Don't you just want to roll her up in a ball and carry her around in your pocket like a really nice bit of alpaca?

She did have some stiff competition in the cuteness department, though, what with these guys:


And this handsome fellow:


And, well, a whole bunch of these:


And, most adorably, these:


And where there's that many fiber animals, there's a whole lotta fiber, too.(Still-Blogless) Jessica, the aforementioned Pirate, the Daft Crafter and Megan were clearly feeling the fiber love (those bags? Full of fiber), as well as enjoying one of the other perks of festival-going: the food.


In the least obscene way possible, I do enjoy a big sausage now and then. I also scored a sweater's worth of tweedy purple yarn that was sheared, spun and dyed by New England farmers, and a really gorgeous skein of Lucy's merino-tencel sock yarn in a variegated purple and green.

You'll have to wait a few days for pictures of all the loot. Megan is currently in possession of all of my festival yarn. I am working on not being nervous about this.

Thanks ladies, for such a great afternoon!

April 22, 2007

Illusion vs. reality

Against all evidence, I like to think of myself as organized and dedicated and conscientious. I also like to pretend my life looks like a Real Simple photo shoot, where all my knits lounge beautifully against carefully coordinated backdrops and my yarn is carefully stowed in a clever, yet attractive, space-maximizing storage system.

Having a blog really helps with this. I blithely pretend not to have a half-dozen half-finished projects piled untidily around the house. Plus I get to carefully select only those pictures that look like my fantasy life should look. I can even crop out the yucky bits. If only real life were that tidy.

So in the interest of bloggerly veracity (and embracing reality), I present How My Stash Really Looks.

Those big plastic bins? Full of yarn. Those big glass canisters? Full of yarn.

It's also possible there's yarn tucked away in other corners of the living room. (Incidentally, some of the yarn hidden here is the exact same yarn the Craft Pirate bought at Webs a few weeks after I did. Great minds, baby, great minds.)

Much as I am learning to embrace the untidiness of my knitting habits, I have finally embraced being a process knitter. You know how knitters are said to fall into a "process" or a "product" category? I really, really thought of myself as a product knitter, despite the relative absence of said "products." But the Yarn Harlot's new book changed all that.

She has a quick quiz to help determine whether you are a process or a product knitter. One of the questions goes like this: your latest sweater is turning out gigantic. Upon realizing this you a) say "does anyone know a cold elephant?" or b) rip it out - because handknits are for wearing.

I'll be the one looking for a cold elephant. And happily casting on the next sweater.

April 19, 2007

Holy bloglines, batman!

Sheesh, a girl stops checking the blogs for a week or two and you all just produce and produce and produce. As Inigo Montoya once said, "Let me explain. No there is too much to explain, let me sum up."

There are things I have not been doing: blogging, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, taking pictures, checking my email, cleaning my apartment, cooking, seeing my friends, enjoying springtime, or finishing works-in-progress.

And there are things I have been doing: working.

We're at a crucial stage in my current project at work, doing the final rounds of testing for a new systems implementation. This means late nights and early calls and mandatory overtime (including weekends). It also makes for one seriously exhausted Librarian-in-Training. I realized things had reached a crisis point when I had an entire nightmare-filled night of dreams where I was alternately attacked by vicious flesh-eating monsters and testing our new system. What my subconscious lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in inventive and graphic gore. Yuck. And even with all the gore, I honestly couldn't tell which dream-fate was worse.

So I decided I needed to slow down a bit, to make time for the things that matter to me. I went to my knitting group last night for the first time in weeks, and it was amazingly restorative. A few hours of knitting and chatting was exactly what I needed. Plus, I found out one of the my fellow knitters is a knitblogger, and a damn good one at that. Imagine, the Craft Pirate. At my very own knitting group. What a pleasant surprise!

And there actually has been some knitting, but entirely of the mindless variety. Only things I can knit a few rows on, put down and pick up days later without having to check a pattern. This includes Wicked, at long last almost be-sleeved.

I don't think I'm in love with the top-down method. I think bottom-up, where you knit the sleeves separately, then join them with the body to knit the raglan decreases is the method for me. Heaving the entire gigantic flopping weight of the body around while knitting the sleeves is a bit of a pain.

That said, I do leave him draped artfully over the living room furniture, so I can admire him in passing and give him an affectionate stroke even when I don't have time to knit.

I've also been swatching up the J Knits sock yarn I got on my Yarn Safari.


I'm thinking Waving Lace socks from Favorite Socks. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that they'll magically fit me, even though my foot is nowhere near the pattern's 7.5" around. My friend Megan (of the dainty feet) may be getting more socks.

And for subway knitting, there's a basic stockinette sock, in Meilenweit MegaBoots Stretch. The same yarn I used for My Pretties, in a different colorway. I'm still loving the subtle gradations of color and finding it tremendously motivating to know a few more inches will bring me to the next exciting change of color.


Check out the green just peeking through. Nice, no?

April 8, 2007

F-ing an O

My best friend has been in town the past week, so there has been minimal knitting, but rather a lot of drinking wine, talking about our lives and our plans and our goals, and more than a little shopping.

I did squeeze in a bit of knitting time, enough to (finally) finish the Sunshine Yarns Jaywalkers. I feel like I've been knitting them for such a long time that they barely even count as a finished object. But, here they are:


Edited to add project details:
Pattern: Jaywalker, by Grumperina
Needles: size 1 DPNs
Yarn: Sunshine Yarns in Daffodil
Comments: I would definitely knit this again, but I'd use size 2s.

They've been gifted to my friend Megan (she of the tiny feet), a mere three weeks late for her birthday, and she was very pleased. I also tried Eucalan for the first time while blocking the finished socks. It eradicated all traces of wooly itch and smelled awfully nice to boot. I've been converted - no more half-assing the blocking process using Method laundry detergent.

But now for the shopping! My company will likely be sending me on a number of trips in the next few months, to a variety of interesting locales (Singapore, SF, Milan, etc). This is exciting and terrifying all at the same time, but the real problem is that I don't have a solid two weeks of appropriate business attire to wear on this trip. I do not, in fact, own a single suit. My office is business casual, with an emphasis on the casual. My boss wears hoodies at least once a week, and not always on casual Fridays. The offices I will be visiting are not hoodie-friendly. Thus the shopping.

Enter my best friend. Besides being one of the smartest people I've ever met (and funny as hell), my best friend has a finely developed shopping instinct, honed by generations of Quinn women who view clothes shopping as very nearly a vocation. She takes this shit seriously. She finds an armload of clothes for you to try on, brings appropriate accessories into the dressing room to complement your outfit and is not the least bit shy about informing you that a particular item does nothing for you. She even re-hangs the clothes you've tried on while you try on the next batch, to expedite the process.

After an intensive afternoon and evening of shopping, I am now the proud owner of a new black suit and a number of funky-yet-professional shirts to wear beneath said suit. Plus quite a few remarkably cute tops and skirts, and cool jewelry. All I need is a pair of coordinating black pants and a good pair of power heels and I can rule the world. Or at least look the part. And I do clean up well, if I do say so myself.

In fact, Quinn's taste is so excellent overall that she, a non-knitter, even has excellent taste in yarn. When instructed to pick something from the sock yarn stash, she chose this for her socks.


Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Happy Stripe.

Now I just need to pick out a pattern...

April 2, 2007

My man

I’ve been fighting with my radiators pretty much constantly since November. I’m endlessly grateful for a well-heated apartment, but that doesn’t mean I’m overly fond of the radiators’ constant hissing and spitting. Nor do I care for their high-pitched whine, the whine that builds and builds until it triumphantly crescendos in a loud thunk, before starting over with another round of high-pitched whining.

The radiator in my bedroom is a particular nuisance, as its whine/bang cycle is both loud and unpredictable. I have fiddled with its little dials on numerous occasions, but have yet to figure out how to just turn the f-ing thing off. I blame my West Coast upbringing (where climate-controlled air is piped through vents in the ceilings and floors and not through infernal metal contraptions) for my inability to operate 19th century radiator technology.

Anyway, last night the bedroom radiator was feeling particularly frolicsome, producing a veritable symphony of hissing and whining and clanging. Until suddenly the boyfriend jumped out of bed and manhandled the radiator dials for a few moments.

Then the room fell into blessed, blessed silence.

We both paused, stunned at the sudden absence of sound. I said “Oh my god, do you hear that?” I meant, of course, did he hear how blissfully quiet it was in the bedroom.

He responded: “Yes, it’s the sound of me being THE MAN.”

He's a keeper.