Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Me: "I still can't believe that Donatella is moving to Palos Verdes."

Daisy: "I know. It's weird."

Me: "It's been a weird summer. My shredder exploded in my face, and then my toenail fell off, and then my dog got the dog cancer, and now Donatella's leaving us. Everything's strange. I am displeased."

Daisy: "I think if you purchased that bag of yarn from the bargain bin, you'd feel better."

Me: "You think?"

Daisy: "Put it up to your face."

Me: "You know how well that works as a deterrent." I put the yarn up to my face for the color test. It brushed against the underside of my chin. "Oh, God. It's merino and silk."

Daisy: "Don't you feel better already?"

Me: "I don't know. I still feel unsettled and discontented. What do you think about this little bag of Berroco Zen? I could make a tank top out of the six balls in here."

Daisy: "I think you've had a hard summer, and you deserve a treat."

Me: "How hard do you think my summer has been? 'Cause there are eight skeins of Tartelette in this bag at $28. Ooh, look! The silvery band is actually iridescent lavender and blue!"

Daisy: "I have no idea why you're even asking me. You know my answer is going to be 'yes'."

Do I still knit? Not as often or as prolifically as I'd want. You know what I do more frequently and with more success? Buy beautiful yarn.

In other news, The Engineer is in China for two weeks. Lucy is currently in full remission and is looking fit and trim. My nemesis, the haunted soda machine, has returned. All I wanted was a damn Coke, you bastard! Why? WHY???

Son of a BITCH!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Turtle Power

For many years now, Accountant Boy has affectionately referred to me as Turtle. I think it stemmed from my need to have a good, solid shell around me into which I can retreat, and also my willingness to push forward with the weight of the entire world on my back. In many ways, I'm more like a hermit crab, but Turtle sounds cuter than Crab, so Turtle stuck.

He's to the right of me here, saying, "Paddle! Use your turtle powers!"

So we went camping this weekend. We put up our tent, referred to as "Tent Mahal", "The Chateau", "The Biltmore", "Pickfair", and "Huge-Ass Tent", unpacked our stuff, arranged everything in the shell just the way I liked it. We bought the tent on sale from REI.com. In our defense, we'd never seen it in person. We had no idea it'd be this big. When we realized what we'd done, we decided to roll with it, really make it ridiculous. Note the tassles on either side of the doorway. What you can't see, because I didn't take pictures of the interior of the back room, are the silk comforter and pillows, the battery-operated ceiling fan and light, and the queen-sized inflatable mattress that doesn't take up even half of the floor. Last year, because I didn't go on the trip, A.B. stayed in the tent by himself, which made its extravagances even more obscene.

Look at it in comparison to the other tents. Accountant Boy is more than six feet tall. He can stand without stooping in this tent.

Breakfast on the morning of the hike. I took this picture to illustrate how huge the guy next to A.B. is.

The hike consisted of a three mile climb up a moderately steep fire road, followed by a short descent to the river. The river portion alternated between short swims across slow-moving pools, and miles and miles of climbing across exposed river rocks. In previous years, there had been more water in the river. I was given to believe that there would be more floating downstream. Instead, there was this.

I know I've mentioned my frightening lack of depth perception before. Here's where it really becomes a handicap. "Honey, just pick your line and WALK. You're going to be way more tired if you hover over each rock before you step on it." When I tried to follow A.B.'s advice, I'd invariably badly overreach and end up stretched out between two boulders, or completely miss my next step. It didn't occur to me until the next day that the root of the problem was my eyesight. I tried to pick my line and walk it, but I just couldn't tell how far away the next step was going to be.

Most of the way, A.B. helped me by actually holding my hand as I hopped tentatively from boulder to boulder. There are no pictures of this, as we two were alone for most of the hike. Soon after this shot, we lost sight of everyone else and didn't catch up again. I know he would have been up with the front group if he hadn't stayed back to help me. I love him for this.

Some of it was a lot of fun. There were watery points, and features that wouldn't have been visible if the river had been higher. Take this slide for example. I'm told that last year, it was completely submerged.

We weren't an outdoorsy family when I was young. I think this might have been the second time in my life that I'd been in a river. I kept looking down as I was pulling forward, exclaiming, "Look, honey! There's FISH!" Then, I'd turn back and find that I was a good thirty yards ahead of him. I have a strong, fast stroke. I loved the water. I wish there had been more of it.

What did I learn on this trip? I learned that I might actually like camping, maybe with a little less in the way of camping equipment. I know it's car camping, but that doesn't mean we have to fill the car with half the contents of our house, and a tent that's roughly half the size of our kitchen and dining room. Everyone at the campsite did this, to some extent. Yes, our tent was the biggest, but everyone had an embarrassingly large collection of supplies.

I learned that I'm a really strong swimmer and paddler. A.B. suggested that I might like rafting or kayaking. "Would I have to climb over two miles of algae-slick rocks with the boat on my back?" "Not usually, no." "Well, then. I think I'll love it."

We were the first two people to reach the bridge at the top of the trail. We stood side-by-side and stepped onto it together.

I love Accountant Boy. I didn't have to learn that on the camping trip. I already knew.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stepping Back

The Arosa sleeve that I thought was too big? I didn't just think it was too big. It's too damn big. The other sleeve's cap shaping is going to be too square. Therefore, Arosa has gone underground for a couple of days/weeks/months/years until I can come to grips with reknitting that sleeve, and reshaping the other sleeve cap so that it's more round. It should have been so simple. I just can't look at in anymore. I can't.

Unfortunately, this has also temporarily soured me on Kristabella, which still only needs sleeves and a little neckline detail. This means that I'm stepping away from both of my works-in-progress. Desperately grumpy, I turned to Accountant Boy last night and bleated, "I'm not a craftswoman! I SUCK!" He suggested that I take a break for a few days, but that will never do. I need a new project. Further, I need a project unlike my current projects. No seaming, no sleeves, try on as you go, that kind of thing. I have the perfect thing in mind.

A couple of months ago, while planning for the camping trip we're going to take this weekend, I was browsing the Sierra Trading Post website. I needed a sleeping bag, and maybe a deeply discounted workout top. Quite by accident, I happened upon a long, flowing skirt with velvet applique. I did not need this skirt. I justified its purchase by saying that it pushed me over the free shipping limit, and that it would probably be too small for me. It's one of the dumbest financial things I do - buying more than I'd planned so that the shipping will be free. "Ah, I'll probably end up sending it back, anyway..."

Turns out that it isn't too small. I love it. Unfortunately, I don't have anything to wear with it. What's a girl to do? This girl took that skirt in hand, marched off to her second-closest yarn store and bought some perfectly matched, fairly expensive yarn with which to make a companion top for her bargain skirt. Yes, if I use all six cones of it, my little top will cost a whopping $96 plus tax, bringing the total of my 'bargain' outfit to about $147. And all I needed was a sleeping bag.

I'm going camping for the first time in my life this weekend, and I'm taking my six little cones of Anny Blatt Victoria with me for the car ride. It's going to turn into Coachella. Let me be more clear. It's going to turn into a wearable, appropriately sized Coachella. Or my cries of rage and anguish will be heard around the globe.

Ooh! I have exciting news and I haven't shared it yet. I have a Boyd Ultimate Sweater Machine! I traded one of my swifts and some yarn for it, in an excellent exchange with Megera from the Knittyboard. This is especially exciting because, given my recent woes, I've been muttering to myself, "Maybe I should just knit big-ass rectangles and stitch them together. Maybe that's all I'm capable of doing anymore. Knitted sack with arm and neck holes. Damned knitting..." Now I can knit all of the big-ass rectangles I want! I'm looking forward to using it. It's making me think about my hobby in a whole new way. Do I knit because I enjoy knitting, or because I want the finished product? If I attain some level of proficiency with the USM, will I ever knit a stockinette sweater by hand again?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sleevie Blunder

So how are things going with the Arosa pullover? Hmmm. That's a tough one to answer. On the one hand, it's been described as 'sloppy', and the sleeves still aren't done. Who dared call my handiwork sloppy? I did. Who agreed with me? Accountant Boy. The neckline is too loose, and I can't bring myself to rip it out and tighten it up. On the other hand, there's still hope for it. I think I can tighten up the neckline by changing where I've seamed the insert to the main part of the body. The sleeves, well, that's a different story. I tried a cap sleeve, but it was out of proportion with the rest of the sweater.

I then knit a 3/4 sleeve, which started out as a full-length sleeve but got demoted because I did some weird shaping at the wrist and decided the weird shaping would look less weird if it were at my elbow. I did all sorts of fancy shaping on the cap, but it looked crappy combined with the shaping on the body of the sweater, so I frogged it and reknit it. I then knit the other sleeve. In an expected turn of events, I've screwed up and knit the second sleeve about an inch wider than the first. I'm so tired of knitting it now that I don't plan to reknit the bigger sleeve to be smaller, or the smaller sleeve to be bigger. Yes, I took copious notes and yes, I followed them, except for the part where I noted how many stitches to cast on.

You might think this has soured me on the project. Wrong-o, dear readers. I'm looking forward to putting it all together tonight. It's got a sort of mid-century vibe to it, with a tailored look to the shoulder and a curvy front. It's very late-series 'Perry Mason' murderess/tennis star.

Lucy's been hanging out with me while I knit. Here she is, at my feet on the concrete patio, a couple of yards away from her very comfortable, cushioned bench. Like I said about this time last year, she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I reached down to pet her after I took this picture. This caused her to sigh, haul herself to her feet, and wander back behind the barbecue.

I like it back here because it smells like delicious, and I like delicious. -- Lucy the Dog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Benny and the Jets

"Here. Take it. You need it more than I do."

"What are you trying to say?"

"My hair's going to grow back. Yours...um...I love you. Look, just take the wig."

"Saturday night's alright for fightin'. Saturday night's alright, alright, ALRIIIIGHT!!!"

I love all of my cousins, but this particular bunch really shines. You give them a few drinks and suddenly there's an Elton John tribute going on in front of you. It wasn't just that he looked like Elton John with his sister's wig on his head. It was that he seemed to be imbued with the very spirit of the man. Pictures don't do it justice.

What was going on in the previous picture? I believe it was something to this effect:

Uncle Warbucks: "That one over there in the grey dress. She's a stripper."
Big Guy (laughing): "Oh yeah?!? How do you know?"
Uncle Warbucks: "He's been dicked over so many times that he only dates strippers now."
Cousin (to himself): "Nah, man...she's not a stripper. It's my sister's wedding. He wouldn't bring a stripper to my baby sister's wedding...well, maybe..."
The Engineer: "Hey, cool it. Suzanne's coming over."

I made a little progress on the Arosa sleeves yesterday, if you count making a cap sleeve that looks completely out of proportion to the rest of the sweater and starting a long sleeve that isn't going to drape especially well as progress. At least now I know that I don't want a cap sleeve, and that the long sleeve I'm making isn't the way to go. Maybe I should make the meshy sleeves.

Oh, and Sara? If that top in yesterday's post looks suspiciously like the shaped lace tee, it's because it IS the shaped lace tee. It's the only pattern in the book that's also been a single pattern for purchase. Its single-pattern name is Krista. When I bought it, I realized that it was very similar to Bella, just with a different neckline, cap sleeves and a larger gauge. I really wanted a Bella, but after knitting it too small and frogging it this winter, I couldn't bring myself to restart it. I liked the neckline of Bella more than Krista, but the gauge and waist shaping of Krista more than Bella, so I thought I'd make Krista with the Bella neckline. I've now decided that I also want longer sleeves on it. So basically, I'm making Bella with the larger gauge/fewer lace repeats.

It might be a few days before I pick either one up again, anyway. Perhaps I should start a new project. Perhaps this is what the universe is trying to tell me. Perhaps this is why Buddy decided to see me off to work this morning by regurgitating in my knitting basket.

Happy belated birthday, the Woman. - Buddy the Cat

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Oh, knitting. Why must you torment me so?

I had taken the past week and a half off, intending to relax and knit. The week did not go exactly as planned, with the doggy chemotherapy and the unpredictable weeping interrupting my hours of enjoyment, but yet I was hopeful. Arosa was only two sleeves away from being finished, and Bella was going to be done in a record-breaking four days. At least, I reasoned, I'd have something to show for my vacation.

What went awry? Why am I less than enthused, with only hours left of my vacation? Notice that neither piece above has sleeves. Both need sleeves, as I have admitted and Daisy has confirmed. "Mmmmmm...yeah," she said, her face crinkling ever so slightly with distaste. "It needs something. Maybe just a cap sleeve, but definitely something."

I knew as soon as I started the Arosa sleeve, which is a *YO, K2tog* mesh for its entire length, that I wasn't going to be doing it. The yarn, so happy to be knit in stockinette, was nearly impossible to knit into that net pattern. I'm going to have to make something up to replace it.

What about the Krista with the Bella neckline, the one I'm going to start calling Kristabella? Oh, that. The sleeves, which I'm too disgusted to photograph, came out at least ten stitches too short on each edge. I ran out of stitches when I was seaming them in. I'm pretty sure I misread the pattern, and that I missed a few repeats between decrease sections. Also, it's cotton. Cotton immediately stretches across my torso and makes me look about ten pounds heavier than I am. I don't know why I keep forgetting this. I don't think it'll be a bad sweater when it's done, and it was quick enough to knit, but now I'm unmotivated to do anything with it.

So here's my dilemma. I can reknit the Kristabella sleeve, making it a 3/4 sleeve with a bell edge, and I'd probably like it. I could have it done by the end of the day. Alternatively, I can make up a sleeve for Arosa and set it in, also being done by the end of the day. My goal is to be able to wear one of them to work tomorrow. I may decide based on a coin flip.

In other news, Lucy's tolerating her chemotherapy very well. The oncologist says that she's already responding well to the drugs, and her lymph nodes are shrinking quickly. I spent last week bursting into tears every time anybody expressed sympathy or concern about the situation. It's like when you fall down, and you're O.K. until somebody comes up and asks you if you're O.K., and then you start sobbing. I'm getting better about it. It now takes a good five minutes of talking about it to get me going. How's Lucy, the happiest dog in the world, handling this? She's wagging her tail and licking anything that moves. Nothing new there. She's sleeping a lot, but she wasn't exactly an insomniac before this. We're just happy to have her around, drowsy or not. She's a few feet away from me right now, snoring softly. It's good.

I got my invitation to Ravelry last week, poked around there a little bit and really liked it, but haven't done anything at all there for myself. Maybe I'll start inputting things once I've recovered from the stress of my vacation.

Yesterday was my 37th birthday. I knit, watched 'Perry Mason', ate brie and salami sandwiches for lunch, and had a good dinner with my friends. Accountant Boy made a fantastic card for me from an old GL transaction report. (We're trying to save money, because Lucy's care has now cost more than a trip to Europe.)

Yep, those last three paragraphs gave me just enough time for to think. I'm going to go knit the Arosa sleeves.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Capital G

Here's one of my favorites. From right to left, that's my uncle, my older brother Big Guy, Kitten's brother, and The Engineer. What are they saying? I can only imagine. Hey, for a laugh, leave a comment about what you think is going on in this picture.