Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"This isn't the stupidest thing we've ever done..."

My husband works for a big beverage company. Big. Multinational. Australian for 'beer'. Dozens of large wineries in the U.S. and Australia, and at least a couple of breweries. As a result, we've acquired a lot of wine over the past year. Rather than drinking all of the wine immediately after purchase, which was my plan, he decided that we should look into carefully storing it in a large wine refrigerator. I'm told that at the size we're installing, such a unit is called a wine cellar. Anyway, drinking our way through the cases in the dining room was ruled out. Killjoy.

We have a long history of stupidity when it comes to home improvement. We staple up insulation at 2:00 a.m. We try not to disturb the neighbors with the chop saw, so we set it up in the tiny hallway outside of our bedroom, where the saw dust and smoke from the blade will set off the smoke detector. We save landscaping dollars by trenching the hard-pan in our back yard ourselves with a gas powered trencher, breaking my finger in the process, but not stopping us from working. "Huh. I don't remember it hurting yesterday. Maybe it's arthritis. Where's the shovel?" Our friends often say, "You guys are f*&king nuts!" They also often say, "Hey, maybe you guys should get out of the house. How are the fumes not KILLING you?!?"

So it was no surprise yesterday at 8:00 p.m. when my beloved Accountant Boy said, "You know what we should do before the cellar shows up tomorrow? We should texture and paint that wall in the garage so that it looks nice." I wanted to sit down and watch television, maybe work on the back of Bristow for a little while, after having to frog all of it the night before. I could have said just said no, but it would have broken his heart, so I went along with it, because I love the big guy.

At 8:30, we started spraying on the texture. "This isn't the stupidest thing we've ever done," he said to me, in a tone that seemed to beg for agreement. "No, honey, it's a good idea!" I chirped back at him.

At 8:34, we realized that we were spraying aerosolized chemicals on the wall, without respirators or adequate ventilation. He threw open the garage door so that we could breathe, and the neighbors could watch us do more nighttime home improvements. "O.K., maybe that was a little stupid, but still not the stupidest thing we've ever done." "No, honey, it'd only be stupid if we were found dead on the garage floor tomorrow. Good call on the open window!"

By 9:15, the spray texture was dry. We rolled on a coat of paint, and lo and behold, it DID look pretty good. By 10:30, we were done with both coats. And it does look nice, I'll give him that. We're going to be happy with the pretty, khaki wall behind the wooden cellar. It wasn't the stupidest thing we've ever done.

But it did keep me from knitting. I really wanted to get back on the horse after falling off so hard on Sunday. Look at this beautiful, even work. See how lovely the yarn works up at this gauge, somewhere in the 22st/4in range...oh, damn. Bristow's 19st/4in. The front that's half completed in my basket is 19st/4in. Not only did I have to frog all of this work, but I now have to figure out what I was doing to get the bigger gauge on these needles. Bye-bye, sweater back. I miss you already.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Happy and Ambivalent

This was a big one, and the picture's kind of dark. Let's see if I can see and remember everything:
- Candle in a jar with a delightfully un-sugary scent
- Two skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Cream
- Two skeins Knitpicks sock yarn in Daffodil
- Two pairs of very small DPNs
- Fleece Artists sock yarn in Mineral
- Four skeins of Knitpicks sock yarn in dark oranges and reds
- Ghirardelli dark chocolates
- Handpainted merino
- IK Spring 2006
- A comprehensive collection of sock patterns and instructions, assembled just for me by my fantastic SP.

(It's in my spot, the Woman. I'm only seconds away from stepping over it all to get to the mesh fabric that enclosed it. By the way, where has she hidden the live finches? -- BtC)

I'm already making plans for all of it. I was going through the small project stash bin, and I noticed that the Berroco that she sent me at the beginning of the round is going to go perfectly with the Cashmerino Aran. I'm thinking about buying more of it and making a cropped sweater or bolero, then working a border around it with the Berroco. The dark orange sock yarn is indescribably beautiful. One of my favorite sweaters of all time, a cotton turtleneck from Victoria's secret, is close to the same colorway. I'm going to have to think about this one -- make socks out of it, or make something more visible? I don't know many people who look good in orange, but fortunately I'm one of them. Maybe I'll make a sock-weight Clapotis. I could go on and on about it, about everything from every package, but that'd only be interesting to me, to be frank. We'll come back to my plans for the newest stash members when the thinking's done and the doing starts.

My pal Purly is wonderful, really above and beyond what I would have expected. The packages and cards and e-mails always arrived just when I needed them. I loved our chats, and hope to keep 'em going.

I've had mixed feelings about this, my first Secret Pal round. The FamilyBanana got some really bad news about DaddyBanana at the very start of the round, and the combined stress almost caused me to drop out of the whole thing. I didn't know how I was going to keep up with everything in my life outside of knitting, and keep up with both my upstream and downstream obligations. I didn't want to let anyone down. Things, or more accurately, my ability to deal with things leveled off quickly with regard to DaddyBanana, and I received a lot of support and sympathy from Purly, so I took a deep breath and continued on. Then things went kooky with work and my commute, and my computer, and the 3,888,000 seconds of continuous rain, and Buddy the Cat's inability to digest carbohydrates. (Don't blame me, the Woman. You know what doesn't contain bulk fiber? A live goldfinch. Fetch! -- BtC) I've got a hundred reasons why I didn't put as much effort into either my upstream or downstream connections, but the point is that I feel like I've kind of let both ends down by not holding up the middle.

I'm pretty sure my downstream SP doesn't feel like I'm neglecting her. In fact, I think she's in the same place I am this round, horribly busy, things going haywire, trying to keep up. It's just that I had bigger plans, and now that we're ten days away from the end of the round, I'm starting to feel that inevitable disappointment in myself for not making every single one of them happen. I feel bad for letting weeks slip by without contacting her. And Purly! Poor Purly! I'd get a package, open it, take pictures of it, LOVE it, and then forget to post or e-mail her about it for days. "I hope your package didn't get lost..." I feel like such a heel.

This is the long way around to saying that I don't know if I'd do another SP round right away. And if you've read this far, for the love of God STOP. I'm even boring myself. Take your knitting and go outside. It's probably a nice day.

Cheesecake Buddy the Cat photo!

Friday, April 14, 2006

David, a Soliloquy

It is hard to be the David, so hard. I stand all day in a state of readiness, moments away from slaying the giant. I am magnificent, the image of a perfect man, frozen at the most critical moment of my young life. I am fierce determination and tightly coiled power.

And yet, I am sad. I am never the first David in any admirer's mind. That honor goes to Michelangelo's David, the fellow with the big head. And why? What is he doing to merit this love? He is a clod, a heavy browed brute. Where is the sense of movement, of action? He can't even be bothered to throw the rock.

I am rarely even the second David. That's the earliest David, the Donatello David, the fey little boy with the floral hat. Knee boots and a floral hat? Did he slay Goliath after coming from an audition at Centerfolds?

The other Davids are beloved. The other Davids are compared. I am an afterthought, if I am thought of at all. Woe is Bernini's David.

But wait! What is this? The lady of the house has knitted a scarf for the David! No longer must I stand under the air conditioner in my state of readiness with my neck exposed to the breeze. I am beloved above all other Davids.

Shut up, Verrochio's David. This is my day.

This is the first completed crochet thingy I've ever completed. It's a long strip of single crochet (I think), made from the leftover yarn from Tubey. I worked it up in a couple of hours this week. I think it'll be a nice little scarf for the slightly cold summer evenings. It looks good on the David, but I don't intend to give it to him permanently. Shhh...don't tell him.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wheeee! Wearable FO!

This is kind of a bad picture of me. My face is shiny, I'm hunching up my shoulders in such a way that I look about four feet wide, I've somehow given myself a triple chin...but I don't care. I wanted a picture of Tubey, and I wanted to be in it.

This was a tough one. I thought it'd be easy, but by the end I was almost crying. When I bound off and realized that I was about an inch shy of long enough, I DID cry. I cursed every stitch of the last twenty rows. I think the issue was that I didn't use the recommended yarn. About a year ago, I bought a bunch of Trendsetter Kashmir, a 50/50 cashmere-silk blend, to make a Clapotis for a wedding. I made the wrap, but didn't end up wearing it to the wedding. I didn't end up wearing it much of anywhere, as it was more of a blanket than an elegant scarf. I loved the color, and I remembered enjoying working with the yarn, so I thought this would be a good time to recycle it and make something wearable. Well, here's the problem. This yarn isn't as springy as Cashmerino Aran. It didn't want to move smoothly around the circular needle. I had to yank it around the cable every ten stitches or so. I do this funky thing with my index finger when stitches won't slide off the left needle, where I put my finger over the tip of the needle for leverage, and pull off the stitch. My finger hurt, and I wasn't able to unlearn my bad habit.

Also, this yarn's expensive. I had all of the pistachio from last year's knitting mishap, but had to buy the blue, cream, tan and brown. I didn't have the right amounts to lay out the stripes in the same proportions as those in the pattern, so I had to guess at their proper length as I went along and hope I didn't run out of any one color before I'd done what I wanted with it. I did not want to have to buy more of a color in order to knit two extra rows of it.

It wasn't as fun as I wanted it to be while I was working on it, but I sure love it now. In fact, I hated it so much at the bind-off that I didn't do the finish work for a month afterward. I finally finished weaving in the ends last Thursday, and wore it to work last Friday and again for a day around town on Sunday.

The details? Why not. This is Knitty's Tubey, knit in the small size. It took about six balls of green, all of the dark brown and tan, and probably half a ball of the blue and white. I started it on February 8th, and bound off on March 18th.

Somewhere in the midst of all of the angry Tubey experience, I decided it'd be a nice change of pace to knit something more challenging. This is the start of Starsky I was having quite a time with this one too, until it occurred to me to rewrite the chart so that I would understand it. I couldn't seem to wrap my mind around the chart, with the right side and wrong side symbols looking the same and meaning different things, but I also couldn't remember what all of the abbreviations meant in the written instructions, so I had to keep looking down at the legend for Every. Single. Cable. Cross. I kept muttering, "Oh, goddammit! It's THAT one again. Why can't I remember what I did seventeen stitches ago???" I made up my own abbreviations for each of the cable crosses, and maybe I'm the only person in the world who'd understand it, but so be it. Now it's fun! I'm a little worried about how small it looks, but I think it only looks narrow because it's all smooshed up on the needles.

And then, in the midst of all of the cable crossing and Tubey cursing, I decided to take up crochet. Here's my first little sampler. I think I'm going to love crochet. It seems like the most natural thing in the world to me. I've got 'The Happy Hooker", and I'm going through each of the sections in order. Tomorrow, the double and triple crochet. It's a brave new world.