October 27, 2010

When you look up hubris in the dictionary...

I'm pretty sure you'll see my picture. I've started knitting a sweater.

Some of you may recall the rather, er, painful experience I had with my first sweater. But undeterred (or, only deterred for three years*), I've started another sweater.

This sweater, the Providence Hoodie, from New England Knits.

Let's look at the series of mistakes I've already made:

1. I read the instructions and thought "Hey, I can totally knit this! It's actually really easy!"

2. I knit and blocked a huge swatch - IN PATTERN - and got gauge bang-on, with the recommended needle size. Given how tightly I knit, this is a clear violation of all the laws of physics and/or an especially cruel joke.

3. The knitting is going really well. I've finished the bottom cable band, about the equivalent of half a cabled scarf (I hate knitting scarves). And I'm thoroughly enjoying every single damn stitch.

4. The friend I'm knitting it for loves it, too. She named the swatch ("Swatchy"), and carried it around with her all day when I showed it to her. She's also received periodic photo updates on the cabling and remains madly in love with it.

See what I mean? I think we can all expect an especially spectacular fuck-up any day now. Because the knitting gods surely will not stand for this.

* Jesus, I'm a pussy.

October 11, 2010

She gets it

I may have received the single best compliment a knitter could ever receive.

My BFF Quinn called me up last week to tell me she wore her new scarf and socks. First, she mentioned that several people complimented her on the scarf. They touched and admired it and praised the skill of the knitter (we knitters love hearing that). She also gave them a peek at the sparkly fairy princess socks (it takes a especially knitting-friendly person to also show off the usually invisible handknit socks), garnering more praise for the knits and the knitter.

All this was lovely to hear, but the best was yet to come. She said:

"It was cold. And I had all these great things you made. It felt like I was wrapped in cozy warm love the whole time."


September 8, 2010

How knitters say "I love you"

My darling BFF Quinn recently left California for a two year postdoc in Michigan. While I am enormously proud of her success, I haven't really processed her departure in any meaningful way except "Michigan cold. Make handknits."

In fact, so far mostly I just pretend she's on a really long vacation. Denial aside, I did manage to knit a few goodies to keep her warm.

First up, the Ribs and Ruffles Scarf. This is a clever pattern that includes no purling whatsoever and yet makes a reversible rib-like scarf that magically doesn't look like garter stitch. Whoa!


The end result? A fine, cozy and fucking gigantic scarf.


I haven't knit on such big needles in years. Another blogger once said knitting on huge needles felt like pantomiming knitting for someone with bad eyesight who was standing very far away (sorry, I can't remember who said it). And that's exactly what it felt like. Despite that, the pattern itself is rather hypnotic, and I quite like the end result. Sadly, I don't actually need a scarf this chunky in California, or I would knit it over and over again.

And the yarn? Barely plied, super soft Malabrigo in gorgeous blues and purples. I think we can all imagine how very delightful that was.

Specs: Malabrigo Rasta in the Abril colorway. Size 15 needles. Final length: a whopping 84 inches. Completed in three nights of knitting. Take that, hateful Irish Hiking Scarf.

Quinn is also the lucky recipient of the sparkly fairy princess socks. Now completed in all their twinkly glory.


Specs: Yarn, Berroco Sox Metallic, colorway 1357. Size 2 harmony wood DPNs. My standard sock recipe, 68 stitch cast-on with an eye-of-partridge heel. Girly, girly perfection.


Both the scarf and the socks were semi-gifted to, and heartily approved by, Quinn about a month ago. Meaning I showed them to her, let her pat them and try them on, then kept them for their final photo shoot. Because if it hasn't been blogged, it's like I never knit it at all.

In my usual fashion, I did finally delivered them to her. Two days before she moved, on the hottest day we had all year. Just the kind of day you want to receive a hefty pile of woolens.

So I hope you enjoy them, pumpkin, and that they keep you warm. Because that's how knitters say "I love you, man."

March 2, 2010

It was bound to happen eventually

I spent a solid twenty minutes last night digging around for my current sock-in-progress.

It was eventually located. Behind the couch cushions.

Jabbed firmly into the back of the couch.

I suppose it could have been worse. I could have located the pointy little fuckers with my ass.


March 1, 2010

In which I surprise myself

I've joked before that the secret to my happiness is low standards and minimal expectations.

Despite this, I fully intended to challenge myself for the Knitting Olympics. I chose a project I knew I could finish, if I just devoted a moderate amount of time to knitting. Since I haven't been devoting much time to knitting, I figured this would be a fair challenge. I cast on the day after the opening ceremonies. And, much to my surprise I finished it a week later.

So it is with a glow of knitterly pride that I present Gold Medal the First: Just Enough Ruffles.

Details: Lobster Pot Yarns Hand-Dyed Cashmere (gifted to me ages ago by the very thoughtful and knit-friendly boyfriend I had at the time), size 9 32" Chiaogoo metal circular needle. Mods: none, unless you want to pretend "picking up the wraps incorrectly" is a modification. So yes, let's pretend the funky pick-ups were intentional, for, uh, added textural interest.

A stylin' scarf, if I do say so myself. Even modeled in a hoodie.

Thoughts: This is a nice, straightforward pattern, mostly stockinette so it really shows off a lightly variegated hand-dyed yarn. The pattern has some nifty short row shaping to give it a nice neck-drapey crescent shape, which had the added benefit of spicing up the endless stockinette. It definitely seemed kind of endless at times, despite substantial amounts of Torchwood being watched. I should remind myself that if I knit this again and think "HEY! I've only got three rows to go," I should remember that all three are 600 stitch purl rows and one of them is a purlwise bind-off. Those are some long-ass rows.

Since the first project went so well, I figured I should just continue with the red cashmere theme. So, with pride verging on glee, may I present my second Gold Medal project, also completed well before the closing ceremonies: A Noble Cowl.

Details: Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere 4-ply, in a gorgeous true red that my camera refuses to capture, knit on a size 6 16" Chiaogoo metal circular needle.

Thoughts: This is another sweet little pattern (the original is written out, not charted, but the ravelry pattern page includes a link to a chart, if that's what you prefer). Quick and fun. Plus, I think I finally get the cowl thing. Cowls have many of the same virtues as knitting socks: portability, minimal purling, fun patterns and textures, and you can get an entire project out of one skein of yarn, so it's a perfect use for a special skein of something delicious.

I'm damn impressed with myself for finishing both these projects in the allotted time and almost wish it would be colder so I'd have a reason to wear them (almost, not quite). The only downside to all this cashmere knitting is that I may be spoiled for other yarns. Picture knitting with a cloud made of orgasms, only better. And less obscene. Good lord, so much better.

I may have to go buy myself some Malabrigo, just to ease myself back into regular wool.

February 23, 2010

Technology is hard

You've probably noticed I'm not great about responding to blog comments. I'm trying to be better, and I've been really, really good about it on my last three posts.

You may be saying "Hey, I commented. I didn't get a response. Why is she such a lying liar face?"

The question you should be asking is "How can a systems analyst be so technologically incompetent as to send almost all replies to noreplycomment@blogger.com?"


Knitting content resuming next post. I've got two gorgeous red cashmere goodies to show off. And if you admire them as much as I do, I promise this time I'll thank you for the compliments.

February 17, 2010

On Jesus, bacon and such

Awhile back, I blogged about how very much I like my friend Sarah. And, because she is indeed just as awesome as I said she was, lookie what she sent me in the mail last week! Holy mother of fucking awesome!


You may have guessed that I'm not especially religious. Or Mexican. So this might seem like kind of an odd gift. But actually, it's absolutely perfect.

To put it in perspective, these are just a few of the similar items in the house. And I really have to emphasize just a few. I may not be crazy Jesus lady, but I sure collect like one.




Plus, did you see? The Day of the Dead skeletons are drinking!


Finally, my views on crochet are well known. It's not my thing, but it's fine if that's the kind of thing you enjoy. I don't mind. Not at all. Really, it's totally ok if you crochet. IF YOU WANT JESUS TO CRY. Ahem. Kidding. Anyway, Sarah may have proven me wrong.


Yup. It's crocheted BACON. I giggle everytime I look at it. And it's gonna fit right in around here.


Thank you so much, Sarah!

February 11, 2010

Betcha didn't know

I'm a sparkly fairy princess! Or at least I knit like one.


Basic stockinette sock. Berrocco Sox Metallic, in the "I'm a ten year old girl, let's trade puffy unicorn stickers" colorway. Or Color 1357, whatever. This has been a fast knit by my standards. Less than a week for the first leg. I'm completely enchanted by the colors, by the way the stripes aren't too perfect, by all the subtle gradations that can be achieved between pink and purple.


I also think this yarn would make a really fun scarf or shawl, if that's the kind of thing you're into. No judgment.

My only concerns so far are that the yarn seems a bit scratchy, and my ribbing looks like complete ass. My ribbing never looks great, but this is sort of ridiculous.


See? Ass.

Even the stockinette part is knitting up kind of, well, sloppy. And yes, I am choosing to blame this on the yarn. Hopefully it will even out after a good blocking. But for now! So pink! So sparkly!

And on a less girly note, I'm also considering joining the Knitting Olympics. Top project contenders include:

Endpaper Mitts: I have the yarn, and I haven't done any colorwork in ages. Problem: requires DPNs, and I know there will be unattractive laddering issues. Don't bother suggesting two circs or magic loop. That is not how I roll.

Just Enough Ruffles: 400 yards of cashmere in the stash. Plus, a chance to do battle with my nemesis, the "wrap and turn."

Rococo Socks: Pretty. And an excuse to buy the pattern.

Lenore: Dead sexy. Plus, I have two different skeins of Raven Clan STR calling my name, AND I already have the pattern.

We Call Them Pirates: The reasons should be obvious.

Extermiknit: Would make an excellent gift for many of the geeks in my life.

Pyroclastic: A damn fine-looking sock, plus a chance to try a new heel technique.

Technique-wise, none of these should be a huge challenge, but it will be a challenge for me to complete them in the allotted time, given how slow the knitting has been lately.

I'm leaning towards Just Enough Ruffles or Lenore, but the other patterns have much to recommend them.

Any other Olympians out there? What are you knitting?

February 10, 2010

Finding what fits

Alternately titled: Yet more navel-gazing, now with bonus socks!


I was bitching about my job recently, as I do on (ahem) very rare occasions.

Now, I'm a systems analyst for a multi-national consulting company, and I've worked for them for 7 of the last 10 years. Yet somehow, I've never thought of this as The Job I Am Meant to Have. I should be a writer, or a cook, or an activist, or a ninja or, dear god, anything but a systems analyst.

I even got a masters degree in NOT BEING A SYSTEMS ANALYST.

BFF Quinn, the lucky recipient of my complaints, suggested I might want to let go of this sense of what I "should" be. It seemed like I was rejecting my job not because it actually sucked, but because the idea of it sucked. And my aversion to thinking of myself as a systems analyst was clearly getting in the way of enjoying what was actually good about my job.


Frankly, I was stunned. What if I embraced this whole systems analyst thing? What if I just thought of this job as something I was really good at and even - gasp! - could enjoy? What if I can make a decent living and still laugh every time I hear the word 'caulk', still say fuck way too often, and finish the bottle of wine way more than I should? I'd just be a foul-mouthed, tipsy systems analyst with a juvenile sense of humor. So, um, exactly the person I've been for most of the last ten years.

And that doesn't mean I can't still be a writer, and a cook, and all those other interesting things (shut UP, I so could too be a ninja). It just means I'd fully engage with my job and start considering it an actual career. i.e., I hear there's this thing called "networking" that people do. And that people sometimes seek out promotions and such because that's how you advance in your chosen career. Crazy!


The best part is, this is a lesson I should have already learned from knitting. I knit because I enjoy it, and mostly I don't worry about whether there is Knitting I Should Be Doing. Like making something more complicated, or something that isn't a tiny sock, or learning a new skill, or knitting for charity, or whatever. Knitting doesn't have to be anything more than something I like and am (occasionally) pretty good at.

Which brings me to my latest pair of socks. I've knit better, more complicated, and prettier socks. I've actually knit this pattern before, so I'm not even trying anything new. But these socks are the most me of anything I've ever made.


Charade. Knitpicks Superwash Bare Tweed, Koolaid-dyed by me (with a treasure-trove of lime green Koolaid from Double Helix). Size 2 Harmony wooden DPNs. Modifications: 72 stitch cast-on, garter and eye of partridge heel. Fucking fantastic.


Lime green hand-knit tweed socks. It doesn't get any better than that. For me.

And it doesn't need to, either.

January 19, 2010

There's no place like the last place I lived

I know I've posted about this before, but bear with me...

I've spent roughly a third of my life in three places: Arizona, southern Oregon and Massachusetts. Now I've started a new chapter here in California. And I'm still not sure which, if any, of these places is home.

Of all the places I lived, I always said I liked New England the least. So I was mighty surprised to find myself referring to Boston as "back home" recently. It didn't even feel like home when I lived there, so why, after spending a week in Arizona with my mom, chatting with a transplanted Cape Codder, on a shuttle back to my Oakland apartment, was Boston, suddenly, "home"?

Up until September, Boston was the only place I've really lived as an adult. I had my first grown-up job there, rented my first apartment, shacked up with a guy, learned how to cook and knit and unraveled the arcana of library science. I still have a lot of really good friends there.

So does all of that make it home?

When I was in Arizona, the food, the Spanish street names, the astonishing spread of the sky overhead, the adobe houses and javelinas, horned toads and gila monsters: it was all so familiar and somehow right.

But does familiar make it home?

And then there's Oregon. Where I exchanged ardent and anguished love letters with a boy I'd known since seventh grade. The place where I smoked my first cigarette and pierced my nose. Where I wore shitkicker boots and ripped jeans and bewailed the tedium of small-town life in an endless series of coffee shops. The place where my father died.

But does that history make it home?

And what of California? Will it take another ten years, and moving to yet another state, for me to call it home?

I say no, damnit. I will not be writing maudlin blog posts ten years from now about how California never felt like home. I hereby resolve to explore and fully enjoy my new home.

First on my to-do list? Finding good steamed pork buns in Oakland.

What? Everyone has their priorities.