Friday, October 27, 2006

Socks and the people who love them

It's an absolutely gorgeous fall day outside, bright, crisp, leafy, clear and warm. I really don't want to be inside today.

I've been messing about with my new sock yarn, some Socks that Rock medium weight in a colorway "Rooster Rock". I really liked it in the skein. I do not like it so much knitted up:

The colors remind of an unfortunate 70s afghan in a color combination that I particularly dislike.

Guess I will have to overdye the sucker. Blue? Red? Turquoisey-green?
Sigh. I am not cool enough for 70s retro color combos.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

stupid stupid machines

I'm back to work reality this week. I'm currently trying to test something on Mac OS 9 (yeah, moldy oldie) so I've obtained a creaky old machine from the company pile o' useless hardware. And it boots up into German. German. Wonderful. Too bad I took French in high school. Useless new mad job skillz: "Abbrechen" means cancel.

As part of my job (and jobs past) I have to work with a lot of different flavors of computers and operating systems. I've pretty much lost all fear of computer hardware, software, and buzzwords. Most computer buzzwords sound impressive but are, almost entirely, just a new way for computer/software/camera A to talk to piece o' hardware/software B. Ethernet, USB, XML, wifi protocols, blah blah blah blah -- it's just A talking to B.

And really, nothing works. No, really. It's mostly all broken, and the fact that you might be able to push the "on" button and the computer actually starts and talks to the internet correctly is a little miracle. Too often it's like today where I'm clicking through German menus, hoping I'll find "English" in one of them. I attached another monitor to my machine the other day and the machine fuzzed out, went to sleep, then, quel miracle!, came back to life with the monitor working. I almost cried.

San Francisco was gorgeous. So was San Jose (weather-wise). I shouldn't have bothered bringing a coat. No fog, no rain, all sun, all the time. I was generally pretty busy seeing old friends in the evenings and going to class during the days, but I did make it to Commuknity one afternoon while doing laundry in the coin-op down the street (Tip: before you walk away from the washing machine, be sure that the cycle has ACTUALLY STARTED). It's a very nice shop, very airy and light-filled. It just felt comfortable. As well as having a big selection of kick-ass yarn, needles, and books. I wish I could have just sat there and knit all evening.

I took Caltrain to Bart to San Francisco on Friday afternoon and met K the Love Monkey downtown. The hotel room was fabulous - in this old Victorian, but right on the edge of the building, so we had light coming in from 2 sides. I love the old houses and buildings before everything was built at right angles. Each window bowed out over the street.

We went to the farmer's market, took the ferry over to Sausalito to get a whole-bay view, I made it to Artfibers to pet the fiber and gawk at the displays. We walked over Nob Hill to North Beach, climbed up Telegraph Hill to Coit tower to see the WPA murals and the view of the bay, and even got to see the parrots (hi, squawky parrots). It was a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


My parents don't read my blog and don't know it exists, but there's always the possibility they might stumble on it. I don't want to hurt them, I'm sure I've already caused them more than enough pain over the years. So, edit.

Plus, how much of anything is just all in my head? Probably more than I think. It's easy enough to misunderstand people even without each of you looking through the lens of strong opinion. It's why I don't argue. I don't believe anyone ever changes their mind in an argument, at least anyone actively participating. In my experience, people only change their opinions as a result of direct personal experience. I try to listen to other ideas and not close myself off but I'm just as susceptable to my little theory above, I'm sure.

Anyway, back to class. Happy Wednesday

Sunday, October 15, 2006

But never ever on a Sunday, a fun day, a Sunday, 'cause that's my day of rest!

Enough of this crap. Now you know why I go on about knitting ribbing and socks. Introspection == scary and dull.

I'm in lovely suburban San Jose, California, listening to the cars rush by on the 101 freeway. The inner curtains don't close all the way but I've got free wifi, so enh.

I hate trips on my own. I miss K and the cat and my own bed and pillow and favorite cereal. Mostly just K and the cat, though. And San Jose? One messed-up airport. It's like a habitrail with big open areas and small low-ceilinged passageways connecting them. At least there were NO TVs. Because sorry, I'm firmly of the mind that if I have to fly somewhere, the absolute last thing I want to have blaring at me is CNN. There's enough bad vibes around airports already without watching the latest tragedy over and over and over (and over) again.

I just have never learned that Stuff Takes Up Space. I don't know why I don't understand this basic concept. Every trip I have the best intentions of "packing light" and yet I seem to end up with a huge bag full o' stuff. I really cut it thin this time; I'm going to have to find a laundry somewhere or wash stuff in the sink, but no way was I hauling more than one duffel bag and personal bag around.

I only took 3 skeins of yarn. 3 skeins, is it enough to last me through the week?

Rachel gave me a TON of great restaurant and yarn store information, so I am SAVED from crappy hotel food, hooRAY! (oh and is it crappy - "Microbrews and Megabites" is their tagline. Save me) There will hopefully be much fiber fondling in my near future. Thanks to Zardra too for fabulous San Francisco restaurant suggestions and good coffee joints (K will be much appreciative).

Friday, October 13, 2006


Lately I've been walking around in this miasma of anger. For the last few weeks; well, more like months. Recent events have pushed my cynisism to toxic levels. I'm having a difficult time believing any more in the general goodness of humanity. There is so much pain and suffering and so much of it can be traced back to other people's greed and desire for power and money. Not as if I am exempt. I do far too little and most times nothing at all to alleviate anyone's misery.

So in that last post, a little of that anger crept out from the dark place and displayed its ugly. I'm still trying to decide whether I meant it or not. I'm having a hard time self-evaluating.

I know that it's eating away at me and what's probably making me feel like shit most of the time, but I haven't found a way to make it go away. So I appreciate the small happinesses of everyday life and try not to think about it. Maybe that's why I haven't done much, because that reminds me.

There are a lot of good people out there in blogland. I read your stories and laugh and cry at them and marvel at how good you are. But I'm having trouble with reality, because after everything, they're just stories. Are you really flesh and blood and living? Are you really real?

I've been having a lot of trouble connecting with other people lately. It's as if I'm afraid of any interaction with anyone I don't know very well. I avoid checking my email. I look at someone passing on the street and immediately assume they're making fun of me or are disgusted with me. And then immediately kill that thought because it's stupidly narcissistic and probably wrong. I have a hard time not generalizing about people, which I can't stand when people do it about me, so it's doubly guilt-inducing.

I should get out more but it just hasn't been working and I avoid it because it drains my energy. I went to a knit night at local yarn shop. It went poorly, I don't think I was very good at the small talk and they were playing the "I am cooler/more educated/more experienced than you" game with one-upmanship stories. I don't play that game, I really dislike it. Anyway, haven't been back.

So there you go, personal introspection/masturbation post #1. It just all means that I'm a hoser who won't get off her ass long enough to sew Rabbitch some hats for people who really need them. Well, maybe this weekend. I've got an airport wait and a plane flight. That's long enough to do 1/3 of a big chunky yarn Crazy Aunt Purl Easy Roll-brim hat.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lord love a crow

The small(and not so small) furry rodents & feathered friends are living high on the hog these days. The squirrels are digging holes in anything, including hard, pine-tree-rooted ground. Actually, they just give up after a few minutes and stick the nut into the half-hole. They're eating as much as they bury, though, I've never seen fatter, sleaker squirrels.

The crows like the walnut trees down the street, there's always a dozen or so of them over there, perched in the trees, on the ground, on wires. I finally figured out their scheme this morning: A couple of them fly up into the tree and peck at the hanging nuts until they drop 15-20 feet to the concrete and shatter. Then the crows go out and eat walnut until a car comes along. I had no idea crows were fond of walnuts.

My next-door neighbor's fig tree is host to roving hordes of starlings. They'll swoop down on the (not really very big) tree, making a huge racket, and peck the hell out of the figs. The cat is absolutely fascinated by them (small feathered things being her specialty). I wish she's attack the squirrels. I'm tired of the holes dug in all my pots.


I hate it when I sleep wrong somehow and wake up and can't move my neck without pain. Something up with the trapezius, I guess, since raising my arms up hurts too. Bah. I'm stuck with a (seemingly) intractable problem and a deadline at work and a week of gorgeous warm fall weather.

I'm turning the heel (already!) on the Toasty Toes sock. I could get used to this bigger needles/bigger yarn/faster project thing (if you define 3.25 mm needles as bigger; I do because I usually do socks on 2.75 mm because I'm loose, baby). A week of commute knitting and it's almost done.

A local yarn store, Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks, is having a Socktoberfest celebration by offering to display everyone's socks - completed before the end of the month - in their store, for all of November. I'm feeling all exhibitionist and I'm working on a sock pattern of my own. It'd be nice to show it off, uh, I mean proudly display my handiwork. Hmmm. So much other crap to do, though. Like make up a bunch of hats for Rabbitch's hat drive. I'm really a slow knitter so I think it'd be better for us all if I sewed up fleece hats. And also seeing as I rediscovered my fleece stash in the recent basement re-org. I made socks for just about everyone for Christmas one year when I had a lot of Jo-Ann 50%-off coupons and not a lot of money, so I've got leftovers. Stupid packrat tendencies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fall(ing off a log)

I was going to post a big expos&eague; of the silk garden beanie this weekend. Hot pictures! Sexy heads! But I was a big lame-o and didn't manage to find my way to the computer all weekend long. Instead of doing something fun (e.g. knitting), I was cleaning up the basement (a bit of fun since it involved Stash Organization woo!) and the attic. SO EXCITING. not.

I'm going to training in San Jose, CA for all of next week so I'm scrambling at work trying to get all the loose ends tucked up so they'll stay in place for a week, and instructing others in loose end cleanup in case they come, um, loose. (Training, ugh. I have never done Training and I'm afriad that I'm going to get there and know more than the instructor and the cost and loss of time is going to severely piss me off. I'm also worried that I'm going to fall asleep in these lectures because, computer training? BORING. And I've got a finely developed Pavlovian response to lectures and dark rooms which is: fall asleep in 15 minutes. Great for insomnia, really. I'm taking a sock. I figure it's less of a faux pas to knit in class when sleepy than to actually fall asleep).

So, yo, if anyone knows any fabulous fiber or restaurants I should hit while I'm in this Bay Area thingy, I'd appreciate it. I'd say South/East bay only, please (and still open past 6 pm), except:

K the Love Monkey is flying up to SFO on Friday. I'm ditching the rental and taking Caltrain up to meet him and we're going to do the Weekend of San Francisco (via public transit and cabs). So if there are any nifty SF places you love, we don't have plans except a lot of walking and the searching out of Good Food and ArtFibers. We'll be staying near Union Square, and proximity to mass transit or <2 miles walking distance is a big plus.

I've been only once, and that was with family to the tourista spots, and for a single day. So really I have never been. I have these vague memories of a cable car and sourdough bread and a really small hotel room.

Sorry there have been no pictures lately. That always seems to take me the longest time to do. I took some commute photos today. Just for you.

I love these purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), they're so dramatic.

The Toasty Toes sock says hello from the MAX station platform

View from the MAX, going over the Steel bridge. That's the Willamette, which connects up to the Columbia some miles to the north.

Happy (belated, sorry) Thanksgiving, Canada!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Met a knitter today!

What does it say about me when I get all excited to have another knitter come up to me, in a non-yarn-store setting?

I ride the light rail into downtown every day to work, and I'm knitting most days. I'm the only person I've ever seen do this. But this morning, I was working on a trusty sock (Interlacements Toasty Toes mid-calf socks. #2 of the pair, but has been languishing for 6 months or so) and someone came up to me!

Her: Are you knitting a sock?

Me: yes.

Her: Hey, I'm a knitter too! We're going on a trip so all my knitting is packed away right now. Your sock looks great! What is that yarn, is it Mountain Colors Bearfoot?

Excellent! She commented on how comfy and cute the sock looked and I told her the yarn was Interlacements toasty toes and she was so effusively nice I got all glowy inside. We didn't have much time (about 90 seconds) to talk as my train arrived, but, yay! I didn't feel so isolated and weird knitting on the commute today. Too bad she was traveling the other way.

Lately I've just had this obsessive need to knit. I wake up and knit, I knit on the train to work, I spend all day at work wishing I were knitting, then come home and knit. It's a little disturbing. I start resenting dinner and breakfast because it takes time out from knitting.

I was really excited to start work on new sock pattern I was messing around with and bust into the Socks that Rock I got at OFFF. That died quickly, after I realized the pattern I'd designed didn't look so hot and was a pain in the neck to knit. NO FUN. Kind of dampened the enthusiasm a bit.

I messed with the pattern a little and started another test sock, but it's not going so well either. So instead I abandoned it for a swatch. Fickle, I know.

Hey, at least it's Friday. Unfortunately the camellias REALLY need a trim this weekend or we won't be able to see out the front porch. I've got some other yard cleanup to do as well and the waste disposal has died on us. So this weekend will probably not be as knit-filled as I would like. Sulk.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

Want want want. I have too much crap already. And too much yarn. And too many projects.

I did finish 2 large projects last weekend: Lily of the Valley is OFF the needles! She needs a block still but we had a guest last weekend so I couldn't use the guest bed for blocking. I ripped out the original bind off and redid it. Because, you know, I'm all about the pain.

I also finished the blue-green diamonds quilt top. Did that take forever. I've done several Lone Stars so I'm familiar with getting non-90 degree intersections to match at the seam so that the diamonds are nice and pointy, but those at least have some big background chunks of unbroken fabric. This was unremitting 60 degree seams and 10 foot long strips of fabric. Ugh.

Now the always-entertaining question: how'm I going to quilt it?

But before we even get there, I need to
1) baste the sucker
2) teach myself how to machine quilt
3) practice. probably a lot. Hand-eye coordination is not my strong suit.

And THEN I think I'll need to stabilize the puppy with some straight lines because the entire thing is on the bias except a few random fussy-cut diamonds, and because I'd like to freehand quilt it and not have it look like puckered ass when I'm finished. Freehand == not bothering to mark a pattern, but having some idea of the general design. Like drawing on a sketchpad, but with thread. Very good for stomping on your inner perfectionist, because you just have to chill out and let it go. Not recommended for control "enthusiasts." They have this awesome water-soluble thread I'm going to use for the stabilizing straight lines. Water-soluble! How cool is that?

I think I'll block Lily first so I can pathetically feel accomplished. All that quilting prep sounds like too much to deal with when I put it in a list.

Oh yeah, and there's the dyeing. And the marbling. And the beads. And the non-cotton fabric. And the sewing & patterns. And the fabric paints and stamps and stencils. The embossing supplies (not much of those). Did we mention the dyeing? We've got both plant and animal fibers covered here at Chez TooMuchCrap.

I had to clean out the basement so the plumbers could put in a new water main into our house. So now I am yet again acutely aware of the piles of stuff that I have acquired to divert myself. I'm not compulsive about buying, but.... Well maybe I am compulsive, with all those boxes piled up.

And yet I am still lusting after NEW THINGS. I bought Rogue last night. I've been wanting to make it for forever (no hyperbole here, no sir). After the unfortunate and disheartening experience with cabling and Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed, I was bummed enough to put it out of my head. I didn't think I'd ever find the right yarn; I'm sensitive to wool so it has to be soft, and I think I better enjoy knitting cables with it. But I found a possible substitute, so I ordered a couple of skeins for some test swatching and the color cards and...geez, what is wrong with me?

What is it about new things that makes them better? Truly, I love my stash. How come every time I get the urge to buy more yarn/fabric/stuff I don't just go stash-diving and re-appreciate what I already have? Why don't I knit up all the projects I've got lined up already with the yarn I ALREADY OWN. What is wrong with me, people?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Funky Mojo

Wendy just recently asked what causes one to lose their knitting mojo (a note to you grammarians: I'm using 'their' as a neutral 3rd person possessive since there isn't one in English. Yes it's bad classic grammar. No I am not apologetic). There are lots of fabulous answers in the comments to this post.

For me (because it's ALL ABOUT ME HERE), a bunch of stuff can throw off my mojo, bt I guess I've learned to deal with them since I have not ever suffered a serious Loss o' Mojo. We (the royal we) have definitely descended down into knitting funk at some times but never all that far. Mostly my Mojo-droppin' can be attributed to all the things everyone else mentions:

  • Yarn that is not fun to knit with. (Conversely, yarn I love to knit will keep me entertained for hours, if it fits the project. I will get COMPULSIONS to knit. Compulsions, people).

    This has happened a couple times. Most lately, I picked up a cute little hank of Manos Cotton Stria at my LYS, dyed in different shades of violet - very subtle, very nice. It's a super-soft yarn - just a single ply wrapped with a binder thread, so it's naturally kind of kinked up. I'd been meaning to try it (I lurrve the Manos de Uruguay wool), and this single skein was sitting forlornly at the bottom of the 50%-off bucket. I thought, this'll make a cute swatch-cum-baby-hat.

    I got partway into the hat and decided I hate this yarn. It's cotton so I have to knit it tightly, but it's still gapping between stitches, even when I'm using 3.25 mm/US 3 needles (K the Love Monkey says it looks fine but I'm still not sure). I like the variegation but knitting with it turns me into a clench-fisted monkey. I only survived to the end of this hat by doing it as commuter knitting. And I was so glad when I bound it off. Love the yarn, hate to knit with it.

    Same thing happened with doing a cable swatch with Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed Aran. Really, the yarn is gorgeous, but I got through 3 cable turns on my swatch and decided I would rather pick lint and cat hair off the floor than continue. Yay that it was only a swatch and I'd just bought a single ball for swatching.

  • I suspect that the project isn't working out (see also the Gapping Baby Hat O' Manos Doom above). I've got a pair of socks that depress me every time I see them. Love the pattern (one of the Nancy Bush sock patterns), like the yarn (Rowan wool-cotton), but I got 5 inches into the sock before admitting that perhaps I should try the sucker on and sadly confirm that yes, it is too small for my leg and ankle. Damn. Now I've got to rip it all out and adjust the pattern, or work it again with larger needles,... or find someone with petite legs who likes them.

    I vacillate on the current test-slip-stitch-baby sweater on whether it looks cute or nauseating. The current opinion swung to butt-ugly several weeks ago and I haven't made any progress since then. And because I have to figure out the sleeve increases (see next).

  • When I have to sit down and modify a pattern or design. Not only does this take significant time that can't really be interrupted, but I'm always afraid that I'm doing it wrong. Shut up, inner perfectionist. See slip-stitch-baby-sweater (I'm currently trying to get the sleeves to look right with both increases and the slip-stitch pattern.)

My coping mechanisms:

  • Approximately a billion different projects going at once. I have:
    • a commuter project (mindless/memorized pattern, easily portable)

    • lace (gauge does not have to be spot-on)

    • travel project (easily portable, long enough to last the trip, no metal needles (I know, they're fine on planes. I still have no wish at all to be detained for any reason at security and all it takes is one guy who hasn't read the rules lately))

    • Agressive Monumental Project (might need design time, thought, perhaps lots of note taking, a Long-Term Goal)

    • TV knitting (stockinette ONLY)

    • Quickie (not-instant-but-close-to-it gratification project), so that it appears that YES, I AM MAKING KNITTING PROGRESS.

    I'm all about the appropriate project for particular conditions. Also, lots of projects means that if something is bugging me, I ditch it temporarily for the more compelling project (See next one if it keeps bugging me for more than a week).

  • If it's not fun, either finish it fast (see Manos baby hat above) or rip it out now. Don't let it sit and glare at you. You can finish it faster if you have something to distract you.

  • Use yarn I like to knit. I know, duh. But you'd be surprised at how long it took me to figure that out.

  • Swatches! I love me some swatching. See, it doesn't count as something new, because you're just SWATCHING, which you're SUPPOSED to do, right? You're not actually embarking on a new project, just laying the future groundwork. This lets you get to play with new yarn and stitch patterns without feeling guilty about all the unfinished projects you have. Almost a guaranteed pick-me-up (see also the Quickie, above)

  • My first college roommate gave me some of the most useful advice I ever got about college classes. She said, "If you're not passing by drop day, you're not going to be passing by finals." (drop day = last day you're allowed to stop taking the class with no report card reprisals).

    Same goes for me a project. If I don't like it now, I'm not going to like it later.

    And the corollary: Fix the thing that's been bugging you NOW if it's still bugging you several rows after the mistake. It will continue to bug you.

    Ripping is cathartic.

  • Work on what I want to do. Dammit, it's my hobby and I'll do what I enjoy. I spend much of my time already doing Work that I frequently don't like, why torture myself in my off-hours as well? No one expects stamp collectors to have something useful at the end of all that collecting. Or windsurfers or mountain climbers. If you detest finishing, knit only in the round or pay/bribe/cajole/force someone else to finish it.

  • I never work to a deadline. No, not ever. I just don't like to do that. They're done when they're done. Corrollary: I also have learned to never, ever, promise anything.

  • Finishing goes faster with loud music