Monday, December 14, 2009

Green (Late Autumn Ground)

Domina, a word, with your permission?

Yes, Bernini's David?

Domina, the David cannot help but notice that the most hirsute member of the household has not been under his watchful eye this week. Has he gone on a campaign to Gaul?

Oh, David...yes, in a manner of speaking. I think he'd like the euphemism. Yes, Buddy is on an extended campaign at the edge of the frontier.

I take your meaning, Domina. This saddens the David. The tiny master did so entertain me with his capering schemes, his boisterous goadings. "Slay the Philistine, you cast-resin fop! Stop him before he eats my entire dinner! Useless, you are. USELESS!" Such a wit he had, for he could not possibly have meant it in anything but jest. I regret not being a better guardian of his repast. I shall miss him. See how I furrow my chiseled brow in consternation and regret?

And surely you must have noticed my distress, for you have made this lovely garment for me. Why, thank you, Domina! The David is comforted.

Nice segue, my high-relief friend. Let's talk about knitting for a moment, shall we?

I'm still not of a mind to do the formal write-ups on my projects, but I'm finally producing things that I like, things that work in some way. I had a string of "hey, guys? I used to know how to knit, right?" projects this summer, but it's getting better now.

With that in mind, here are the details on this scarf. It's two skeins of Knitpicks Swish Bulky in Verdant Heather, knit on size eleven needles. I cast on 32 stitches, did a two-by-two rib for about six rows, then did a cable cross on two of the four sections of eight stitches. It was an experiment in reversible cabling. Basically, K2, P2, K2, P2, hold four to the front on a cable needle, K2, P2, K2 & P2 off of cable, K2, P2, K2, P2, hold four to the front, K2, P2, K2 & P2 off of cable. I worked a few more rounds in ribbing, then did another set of crosses over the stitches I hadn't cabled in the last go 'round. It made this neat sort of tree bark pattern.

I decided that I wasn't going to care about getting the crosses spread out equally. If the cables varied in length, so be it. This was my lunchroom project, so I tried to not put too much pressure on myself with it. I ended up with fairly uniform crosses anyway, with only a couple noticeably shorter than the rest.

This yarn ended up being much easier to work with than I'd though it would be. I used all but about a foot of it. The color reminds me of the mossy grass in the yard. It's been raining for a week, and the brown of summer is giving way to the rich, damp, dark green of winter. The color is only correct in the middle picture. It's beautiful.

Anyway, I made a scarf and it looks like a scarf. That's progress. I'm a knitter.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments about Buddy. I always did see him as a kindred spirit to Ripple, though they never met. He was a remarkable cat. And I still can't sleep if it's too quiet in our room. I hadn't realized how reliant I was on his weight pressing into my ribs and his purr in my ear. He used to stay next to me until I fell asleep, then head off to do whatever important work he did at night. If it got chilly enough, he'd stay up longer. He only stayed on the bed for the whole night if it was especially cold. It snowed here for the first time in a decade on Sunday night. Dammit, Buddy.

More knitting updates, possibly tomorrow. I've finished some nice sweaters, and haven't taken the time to document them.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Farewell, My Tiny King

This is not a post I ever wanted to write.

Our beloved Buddy Katzmann Schmidt left us this morning. He was doing what he loved, frolicking around the house and enticing Winston to forbidden chases, when he lept from the stairs, suddenly collapsed, and went limp. He was gone before we could get him into the car.

Buddy was more dog than cat, more human than dog, maybe something else entirely. I've always thought that either of the first two comparisons might be somehow insulting to him. Still, it's hard not to make them. He trotted up to us when we called him. He'd sit in front of me and meow when he wanted to play Koosh-on-a-wire, just like a dog would. There was a time when I felt bad for bringing him inside permanently, so I taught him to walk around the yard on a leash. When I'd call Winston over to play, nine times out of ten Buddy would race in from another direction and sit between us, stopping the big guy in his tracks. "Buddy, goddammit, stop screwing with him." And then, invariably, Buddy would jump up onto the ottoman next to me and watch Winston and I play ball. It was as though he wanted to help with the training.

He didn't do typical cat-like things. No jumping on the counters or climbing across the back of the sofa and slapping at the back of your neck while you were trying to watch television, no clawing the upholstery, no sudden bites when he'd decided that he'd had enough of you. Buddy never had enough of anyone. He never demanded love, but he never walked away from it, either. In our ten years with him, he spent countless hours next to us on the couch, sometimes tucked under our arms, sometimes just resting against our legs, and never had enough of us.

Buddy would have been eighteen next spring, a good long life for a cat. But it's never long enough.

It's two in the morning. I have to be at work in six hours. But I can't sleep, because he's not curled up at my side. I'd hoped that typing this out would make me tired, that this was what I needed to do before finally being able to settle in next to A.B. and Winston, but it's not helping.

I'm haunted, not by my last sight of him, but by the memory of him in the days before. On Friday, he sat behind the chair I'm sitting in now and meowed at me. When I turned around, he hopped smartly to his feet and marched into the kitchen, where I kept his favorite toy. We played for a few minutes, and I marvelled at how well he still moved. "Nice chase, Buddy! We'll play again on Monday when I get home from work." It was an after-work think, Koosh-on-a-wire.

Last night, at the BadRap charity event, I talked about him to dozens of people, telling them what a neat cat he was, how he had Winston firmly under his control. We all laughed at the thought. "You should get that on video and share it with the group." Buddy was an inspiration to many cat-loving pit bull owners. I promised that I would remember to record the next time Buddy cut Winston off on his way to a ballgame. But, of course, I never did record it.

This morning, Winston and Buddy were both on the bed. Winston was laying across Accountant Boy's ankles, and Buddy stretched out to face him, laying across my feet. "Look! Buddy's learning a new trick! He's doing The Winston!" We stayed in bed for a long time, not wanting to move them. Later, I looked behind the recliner to see why the vertical blinds were askew. Buddy looked up at me, slats surrounding him, pale sun lighting up his bright, green eyes. He looked stunning. "I should get my camera. You look so handsome. I'm so happy that you're my cat." I told him that all the time, several times a day. "I love you, Katzmann." That look, him staring up at me inquisitively from behind the recliner, was the last look we ever shared. I reached down to scratch his ears, then went upstairs to get dressed. I was up there when A.B. shouted desperately for my help, even as we both realized that there wasn't anything that we could do.

All I can see when I close my eyes are images of my beautiful boy, happy and active, defiantly youthful and vibrant. They're wonderful images, all of them. I'm lucky to have so many. I can't believe that I won't see him again. And I can't sleep.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Confession time.

I lost all interest in talking about myself for a while, and as a result I lost all interest in blogging. I then grew depressed over my lack of creative motivation, which pushed me even further away from here. I didn't do any of the ambitiously planned things that I said I was going to do while I was unemployed. It was not all that I thought it would be.

Just at the point where I thought I was going to lose my mind, vacuuming the house three times a day and spending an entire week not needing to put on shoes because I didn't stray beyond the edge of my property, I got a new job. Good news, yes, but not so good for blogging. My new job is more restrictive than my old one when it comes to the Internet, and I've kind of been enjoying actually working when I'm at work.

I have been knitting, but I haven't been all that great about writing about it. I finished Forestry more than a month ago, and I took some not-so-great pictures of it, but I forgot to write down what size needles I used. I started on one of my oldest projects in the bin, and I'm about halfway through the chest/back/arms. I swatched some silk last night. It's good. I'm just not writing much about it.

In short, this isn't a 'give up' post. It's also not a 'catch up' post. I may never go back and write about the mods I made to Forestry or the sweater I'm making now. If someone were to ask me about either of them, which is improbable since I've done an even worse job of keeping up over at Ravelry, I'd try to come up with more information. Otherwise, it's a done deal.

What does that mean for "Knitting for the Large-Headed Gal"? I hesitate to call this a relaunch, because then I'd feel compelled to keep up, and I don't write well under that kind of pressure. It's why I took a job nearly identical to my last one instead of running off to become a writer. For me, writing is like being in a pen with a silverback gorilla. I have to look askance at it while picking at the grass in front of me, never staring at it head-on.

It's an acorn year for the oak tree in my front yard. A pair of doves built a nest above my deck last week. It's almost the end of summer, but things continue to make a go of their fresh starts.

Let's move forward from here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heavy Boots of Lead

"Alright, Blunder. Hold that pose. Nice job of looking pensive. Good furrowing."

"O.K., but Buddy?"

"Yes, Blunder."

"I wasn't trying to look pensived or whatever. I was just waiting for something fun to happen outside. This is just how I look all the time."

"Oh, dear. How many times must I explain this to you, you great, lumbering oaf? We are to lie here and look pensive as a reflection of the Woman's current state of mind as she stands in the no-mans'-land between her old and new lives. The camera is her mirror-glass, and we are the reflections of pensiveness of her soul. It's all very artistic. Now furrow that brow. Furrow, you foul beast!"

"Umm, Buddy? She seems kinda alright, actually."

"That's because you don't gaze deep into her soul, not as I do. I stare at her for hours and relish the gentle feel of her breath on my whiskers. While she's sleeping."

"Man, that's kinda creepy. I don't think she wants me to do that. I don't even think she wants you to do that. But I guess I could try harder to see the pencils in her soles or whatever. Hold on."

"Nope, still looks O.K. to me. On the plus side, I may have head-tilted my way into a walk around the neighborhood. Yeah!"

"And yet I am the one who understands her vision. Where is my reward? Dammit!

Almost two months into being differently-employed, and I still only have them engaging in imaginary conversations every couple of days or so.

It's been a whirlwind of activity since May 1st. Daisy and Falstaff moved out of our rental house, Daisy moved across the country, Accountant Boy bought another car, Winston made a couple of new friends of the bully-dog persuasion, and I think I broke a couple of fingers while putting down a new floor in our bathroom. It hasn't been boring, I'll say that much for it.

Oh, and I'm still working on Forestry, the stupidest project to have on the needles during the summer in Contra Costa County. I have to sew in the sleeves and knit the collar, but it's slow going now that our unseasonably cold spring has given way to the normal summer. I'm also being slowed by my right hand, which has some kind of arthritic clicky thing going on. I think I injured it while painting the rental house. Of all of the things over there that could hurt me, I least expected trouble from the paint. And yet it was the paint that almost killed me. Who would have thought that a quart of enamel would be behind this exclamation: "Why the F%$K do things keep EXPLODING IN MY FACE IN THIS GODDAMN HOUSE???" But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green (Molto Vibrante)


Bernini's David? What's the deal?

Oh, Domina! I did not see you there, as I was straining mightily against these verdant bonds. Do no fear for the David. Your champion shall be freed anon.

Domina, eh? You've conferred a title on me? That's so thoughtful of you. Grazie mille, David!

You do indeed appear to me as a noble lady, and I would bow before you as a proper gentleman, if only I were able to wrest myself free of these ropes. What manner of enchantment strengthens them so that they are able to hold the David fast in their grip?

It's Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Erwyn Green. I saw it on Dizzy Sheep a few days ago, and I broke down and bought it. I could have held off, but the name, well, it's sort of sentimental to me. Sure, it's only a homophone, but close enough for me to take it as a sign that I was supposed to buy the yarn.

Grrrr....hrrrphft...foul restraints! Pardon me, Domina, but what does the lord of the house say to this extravagance? Has he not tightened the purse strings in anticipation of your full-time return to the manor?

My full-time what? Oh, you mean the layoff?

The David has noticed that the air swirling about his neck is no longer pleasantly conditioned. Is this not the doing of your miserly husband?

No, it's the broken blower on the furnace. We just need to get someone out to fix it. We're not holding off because of money. It's a timing thing. We'll get it fixed before summer hits us full force. I'm going to have plenty of time to meet with HVAC people after May 1st.

Accountant Boy is handling my impending joblessness with even more grace and optimism than I am. In fact, he's worked on several versions of the budget that will allow me to take the summer off, continue our membership at the swanky gym, and even buy yarn every so often.

When I threw a skein of this yarn to him and told him that I couldn't help but buy it, he said, "Honey..." I was expecting it to continue on along the line of " much over budget is this going to put you?" What I got instead was, " need to make sure you make something really special out of this stuff so that it'll bring up happy memories every time you wear it." I'm lucky to have a partner who understands the importance of these things.

I have found what I think will be the perfect pattern for it. I'm going to make Forestry from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008 (Ravelry Link) (Vogue Knitting Link). This yarn might be a little softer and a little fuzzier than is recommended, but I still think it'll work well. A.B. looked at the picture in VK and shrugged, but I wouldn't have expected a better response from him, as the picture in VK isn't at all flattering.

The David understands the need for flattering garments, Domina. It must be difficult for you to pose yourself so near to my perfection for your finished object pictures, even on the best of days. I am magnificent.

He spends all day guarding the cat food dish, and not doing a particularly good job of it at that. Winston gulps down a lot of Friskies senior chicken dinners under the David's not-so-watchful eye. But he is pretty, I'll give him that.

Villainous entanglements! I shall throw you off as water from a duck's wing!

Best go save my yarn from the David, or, more appropriately, the David from my yarn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Green (Pale)

Woefully behind on my project documentation, and with my knitting area desperately in need of reorganization, I decided that the very best thing to do was to pull several balls of yarn and swatch for a batch of new projects. My living room is lousy with knit squares and needles.

This lucky swatch has travelled around with me for a few days as part of an extended wear test. It's Pakucho Organic Cotton in 'Avocado'. This is one of the older yarns in my stash, purchased several years ago from I've washed and dried it, and figured out that it's going to shrink up about 15% on the length. It softened up quite a bit in the wash.

With that in mind, I've cast on for the Greek Pullover from an old Interweave Knits. It's going to be good - easy care, kind of rustic, something I'd imagine that I'd actually want to wear if I were tooling around Greece, as it's cotton instead of mohair - and I'm already halfway done with the back. I won't be able to try it on, or go by any of the measurements in the pattern, because it's going to be 15% too long until after it's all put together and washed. I'm knitting by faith, here. I hope I know as much as I think I know about what think that I'm doing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Make Just One Someone Happy

After more than a few months of being in the state we've been in here at work, we've all slipped into a familiar pattern when talking to each other. The conversations typically follow a line something like this:

"So, looks like it's getting down to it."

"Yep. Who would have thought it'd even go on for this long, huh?" There's usually a short, shared chuckle at this point.

"Yeah. I guess we've been pretty lucky, all things considered. What are you going to do, you know, once it's..."

This is where I don't know how to respond. What am I going to do "once it's..."? Take a couple of months off? I'm lucky enough to have that option. Daisy wants me to ride with her on her move back to the east coast. I have a garage full of home improvement projects. Accountant Boy has a fantasy about me making sandwiches and seeing him off to work every morning, then settling down in front of the computer and writing the next great American novel. I could make a major lifestyle change and do something completely different than what I've been doing.

On the other hand, I like being a programmer. Do I keep going along my current career path? Do I look for another job right away? How much of my identity do I tie to my profession? How much of it am I willing to let go? I don't know.

What I do know is that the workspace in these picture is the last one that I'll have with this company. Ten years and nine months and they finally let me have a window cubicle. Sure it's only for two, maybe three more weeks. Look how nice it is, though! I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I dragged all of the standing plants from the other side of the building over to my area. I've always wanted a conservatory, a very Victorian space, with parlor palms and all sorts of exotic plants. I think this might be as close as I'm going to come to having one.

What desk of mine would be complete without my trinkets, even pared down to the minimum in anticipation of the final pack-up? I've still got the skull with the sword through its mouth, which reminds me of all of our fun times at Treasure Island, before it replace its cheesy-awesome pirate theme with the cheesy-crappy "Sexy Siren" theme. This little guy came from a clearance shelf in the gift shop, a casualty of the iconoclasm of kid-friendly Vegas.

And, of course, there's Pirate Skull Planter. He's with me to the end and beyond. Hey, Pirate Skull Planter! What's up?

N'yar! Don't cast yer gaze upon me. I be hideous!

Oh, c'mon, Cap'n. You look fine to me.

I look like I'm sportin' a bit o' ratty anchor line for a cap.

Didn't I tell you that I'd help you out with this? I'm sorry it took this long, and it was going to be a surprise, but...surprise! I bought you a new batch of plants.

Ye''ve gone to all of the trouble fer me? Searched the far points of the compass for such rare treasure? Fer me?

Well, yes, if you consider the Home Depot in Martinez to be off the edge of the map, then sure, that's what I did for you, guy.

Yar! I be a lucky planter indeed! This puts the wind back in my mainsail, lass!

Let's get to it then. Chose the piece that you want while I pop over to the next cubicle and plug in the glue gun.

See, the thing is, ahh, ye've been so kindly toward me that I feel low fer askin', but, well, what I was gonna ask was, uh, would ye be opposed to me wearin' it all? T'would be a fine headpiece!

I was more thinking of giving you a sportier look, maybe a tall, slender grouping. We'll keep the rest of it in reserve, just in case we have to freshen up your look again.

T'is probably a fine tack to take. Do ye think it would make me look less fearsome if I picked the bit with the posies? Be honest now, lass! Don't worry about breakin' my black heart wi' yer response.

I think you'll still be the toughest looking skeletally-based trinket on my desk, Old Salt.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Country Garden

Country Garden? Really, Cherry Tree Hill? 'Cause I grew up in the country, and nobody had a garden that looked like this, but O.K. We'll go with it. Obviously, you folks are from someplace where "country garden" means something other than "one hundred acres of silage, a dead oak tree and weeds growing up through the floorboards of a rusting, tireless Chevy Impala." Your country is clearly aesthetically superior to mine.

This is not a finished object post, because My So-Called Country Garden Scarf isn't quite done. You can't tell from these pictures, but I made a slight calculation error when I cast on lengthwise, so this scarf is just a smidge longer than I'd like. How long is a smidge, again? Is it two or three feet? Yeah, that's what I mean, then. It's a smidge longer than I'd like, which means that it's eight feet long.

The good news is that I've been experimenting with cutting the sides of knitting to create fringe. By experimenting, I mean that I hacked off the edge of one of my swatches and unravelled a few columns to see how it'd work. It was the Ingenue swatch, so no great loss, since it did nothing but lead me astray. In fact, it was very satisfying to hack at it with my nail scissors.

Tonight, maybe after a couple of drinks and a few minutes of repetitively chanting "it only cost fifteen dollars, it only cost fifteen dollars", I'm going to cut off the short ends of the scarf and unravel it back to the correct length.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Let's do this.


I was going to have this post revolve around a theme, that theme being "What Suzanne Does All Day", but that's all changing. We've got maybe two weeks left here at the ol' job, so cubicle pictures are irrelevant.

When there's no more job seventeen miles from my house, there's no need to belong to a gym that's seventeen miles from my house.

Still, the lighting was bright, and it was the best overall shot I could get of the sweater. It's hard to photograph with any detail at all while I'm wearing it, because the sweater is so dark and I am so very pale. If I bump up the lighting enough for you to see the sweater, I end up washing myself out so badly that I look like an apparition in a wool pullover.

The interesting thing about these pictures was that I took them over the course of a couple of weeks, and I dyed my hair halfway through that time. Guess which pictures are pre- and post-dye. It's not as easy as you'd think.

Ingenue from Custom Knits (Ravelry Link)

Interlacements Dyer's Choice in dark blue, with black Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro carried along. I used about 1250 yards, including the sections that were unrecoverable after being ripped back.

I've had both yarns for several years. I bought the Merino Oro during my very first Stitches West adventure. It's a great carryalong yarn. I used its seafoam companion ball to make Bristow a couple of years ago. I still have a full ball of it in red.

The Interlacements was a mystery. They didn't know how many yards were in the skeins I was buying, and they weren't too sure on the weight. It seemed like a light worsted, so I was trying to bulk it up a tiny bit with the other yarn. As it turns out, I knit this whole sweater at DK weight, so it didn't matter.

I'm pleased with the subtle color variations, and with the very low incidence of pooling. It bled like crazy when I washed it, turning the water in the sink an inky black, but it doesn't look as though it's faded. After about seven full days of wear, it's only starting to fuzz up a little bit at the wrists.

As a bonus, it's a stash-buster. Three big balls of yarn are gone out of the stash, with only about a hundred yards left of each type.

Addi Natura and Addi Turbo size 6 for the body and neck, size 8 for the lower hem. I switched to the bigger needles so that the hem wouldn't pull in at my hips.

November 1st to mid-March. It took a long time, because I wanted it to be done right more than I wanted it to be done fast. At least that's what I keep telling myself every time I see another Ingenue on Ravelry that took the knitter eight days to complete.

Modifications/Design Notes
The pattern would have worked fine as written. I modified it to suit my tastes and my body shape, but it could've been used straight from the book with no changes.

I knit it at a tighter gauge than the pattern called for, because my in-the-round gauge changed between the time that I swatched and the time when I started on the body of the sweater. By the time that it became clear that I was knitting at 22/28 stitches per inch instead of 18/22, I felt like it was too late to turn back.

I didn't like how the sleeves looked with the pattern at the edges, so I turned them under and tacked them up. Tugging at the edges and looking at the pattern on the inside of the sleeve gives me something to do in the company shutdown meetings. I find the lacy ridges soothing.

I continued with the waist increases at the bottom, because no way was this thing going to look good on my waist if it were that narrow. I think I added three extra increase rows in the stockinette section, and a couple in the bottom band.

The patterned section of the hem is longer than the pattern calls for, because it looked dinky to me when compared to the neck. I felt like it needed more weight at the bottom in order to balance out my shoulders. It's seven repeats instead of four. I redid the hem several times in order to get it to hit at the right place for me, and with the right amount of fabric. Again, this wasn't a problem with the pattern itself. It was just a matter of customization.

I wear this sweater as often as I can get away with it without having somebody ask me if it's the only one I own. I love it. It's comfortable, and seems like it's going to be durable because of the tight gauge. It's as appropriate for trips to Home Depot as it is for work.

Would I make it again, maybe at the right gauge this time? Absolutely. The neckline is flattering on me, and I dig the pattern stitch. I'd make it a little tighter at the arm separation, as I've finally figured out that I always overestimate my needs in that area.

In conclusion, great sweater.

So why has it taken me almost a month to blog about finishing it? Combination of things, really. It's more than a little depressing at work, as we're all coming to terms with the finality of what's about to happen. It's hard to keep working on things that we know are going to be mothballed, probably permanently, by the end of the month. On the other hand, it's hard to sit here and blog while I'm supposed to be working. Stupid work ethic.

But I'm fighting through it. Fighting through it for you, dear readers. If I have to go against my deepest instincts and struggle to f$%k around here at work so that you can have something to read on a Friday afternoon, then struggle I shall.

Friday, April 03, 2009


"I'm sad. I'm the saddest dog in the whole wide world."

Winston? What's wrong, guy?

"Well, I'm supposed to be learning stuff and going out to coffee with you, and having a good time in the world, but all you guys do is go to Home Depot without me or sit around and cough."

Oh, c'mon, guy. Is that really fair? We've both had the Death Cough for a month. We can't take you hiking up at the reservoir. We haven't felt good enough on a Saturday morning to drive all the way to Berkeley for class. You're not allowed in Home Depot. I'm trying to keep it together, what with the job thing and my being evicted from my super-sweet cubicle, and both Accountant Boy and I being sick. Besides, you played with Clem and Kaylee for three hours yesterday. That was good times, yeah?

"So sad. And bored. Bored and sad."

Would seeing some pictures of knitting help?

"No, not really."


Yes, sometimes it pays to do what you know is right, even when it's hard. Even when it means unraveling and reknitting two-thirds of your work on a completed garment. This is my revised Sabine, almost finished a little less than a month ago, frogged three weeks ago, finished again yesterday afternoon. I made some small but important modifications to it, and it's just about perfect.

The red from the previous post is more accurate, but it's not too bad here. Thanks for the backdrop, Stainless Steel Fridge! (No problem! Hey, why not return the favor and fill me with something other than half-eaten burritos from Los Panchos? -- Stainless Steel Fridge)

Finished object post coming soon, after I finally do the finishing post for Ingenue. I can't in good conscience write it at work, but I'm not having much luck with it at home, either. See that face in the first picture? That face stares at me the entire time I'm at the computer. Consequently, I don't get a lot done when I'm at home. I'm trying to carve out more time for blogging, but it's not easy right now.

The Woman? What about your Buddy? Do I not merit a mention when discussing your time usage? Have you told them of our newest pursuit?

I was going to get to that later, Buddy. Maybe if we spent less time on this new pursuit and more time letting me type, I'd be able to tell the readers about your new favorite thing...

I've taken up JOGGING!

...or you can just tell them now. More on this story once I can get some pictures of it, or, better yet, some video. Nobody believes that Buddy's actually doing what I'm describing to them. He's like the Michigan J. Frog of feline fitness.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lateral Movement

This is what happens when you don't listen to that inner voice when it tells you that the tie-front sweater you're making is almost certainly going to be too small for you, and that the line of yarn-overs running down the back are going to start ridiculously high on your shoulders. This is what happens when you say, "no way is it going to look like the one in the picture", but you forge ahead anyway. You get to take the whole thing out up to the arms, up past the back pattern, and start over. This was one of my temporarily cursed sweaters, the batch that could not be worked until Ingenue was finished.

The lumpiness is due to the kinked yarn. It'll even out in the wash. I know this, because I had to redo the arm as well, and it flattened out beautifully after a good soak.

Did I finish Ingenue? Yes, I sure did, and a couple of days before the deadline, too. More details on that coming soon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

half a fortnight til freedom

One week left of winter.

I don't have an easy time of it in the winter months. I have a hard time driving after dusk, so I'm reliant on other people to get me from one place to another pretty much from the time I get home from work until the next morning. I have both starbursts and a marked loss of contrast and depth of field in the dark, so every streetlight is like the bloom of a firework, and every change in tone on the sidewalk looks like either an enormous drop-off or a huge bump. I can't drive, can't even really walk down the street without frequently stepping over imagined obstacles or tripping over real ones. In essence, I spend several months of the year trapped in my house after dark. It's a side effect of the LASIK surgery I had a decade ago, and one that I knew I was at a high risk of experiencing. Don't get me wrong, here. I wouldn't trade my all-around good vision for the ability to see better after dark. It's just that after a few months of racing the sun to make it home every weeknight, I start to get more than a little discouraged by it. I get tired of being trapped.

Then there are all of the unhappy things going on around me this year. Daisy and Falstaff are splitting up, we're down to less than a handful of people in my department at work, famine and pestilence are sweeping the land, and I have a bitch of a cold. I've been coughing nonstop for almost two weeks. I'm getting through it now, as I get through it every year, by hunkering down and waiting for the end of March, for the vernal equinox, which I consider to be the start of my new year.

One more week.

What does that have to do with Ol' Blue here?

When we last saw Ol' Blue, I was going to knit the second sleeve and be done with it. I did that, and then I didn't like how the sleeves and the lower hem looked. They were too long, and they looked flimsy when compared to the upper part of the sweater. I decided to turn both sleeves and the hem up and stitch them into place, putting the patterned sections on the inside of the work. Worked great for the sleeves, making them weighty and just the right length.

It wasn't such a good match for the hem, but I thought I'd give it a chance anyway. I wore it with the hem sewn up for most of a day. Toward the end of the afternoon, after a day of tugging the bulky lower edge of the sweater down approximately two hundred times, I decided that the best thing to do would be to snip the sewn thread and let the patterned section down again. I grabbed my desk scissors and snipped the running thread. When it didn't pull the hem free as easily as I'd expected, I found another piece of the thread and snipped that as well. Then, I pulled. Hard.

It's exactly what you're thinking. I hadn't snipped the running hem thread. I'd cut three stitches on the body of the sweater, then pulled an additional three stitches free, and then pulled the working thread so tight that I'd ruched the entire front of the sweater.

At work, with no knitting or sewing supplies handy, I was forced to use paper clips as makeshift stitch holders. I walked around for the rest of the day with office supplies dangling at my waist.

Later that night, when I took pictures of what I'd done, I noticed that there was some weird pooling at the bottom of the sweater. "Good thing I cut the hem!" I thought. "Now I have a good reason to rip back to the point above the pooling and start over."

I did just that, finishing the sweater for the second time a few days later. The hem's shorter, and it's only one layer thick. Why is there still no finished object post about it? Oh, funny story.

My second attempt looks as bad as the first, maybe worse. It's too narrow, and too insubstantial for the heavier, roomy top. It looks, in a word, stupid. I've been working on this sweater for too long, almost five months now, to let the finished product look stupid. I threw it into a bag and refused to look at it for a few weeks.

Since then, I've started several projects that have stalled, failed, or been lovingly chewed up by my dog. Something's gone wrong, crazily wrong, with every other knitting I've touched since stopping work on that one sweater. My gauge changes by an entire stitch per inch between swatch and project, with the swatch being looser, and this disparity does not become apparent until after the finished sweater is washed and blocked, then discovered to be too small to be wearable by even the slenderest of my friends. Winston figures out how to open a locked chest to get to Big Stripey. My entire collection of size 8 needles disappears. It's as though Ol' Blue is cursing my knitting. I am the Ancient Mariner and it is my albatross.

I'm making it my mission to finish it during the winter. This winter. I will break its cursed hold on my knitting. One more week.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ninja Training

Hello, readers! It's been a while, mostly because I rarely have time to update my blog, due to my taking on the work of all of my laid-off comrades. This makes me sad, both because I miss my friends and fear for my own job, and because I have so many stories to tell.

Like, for example, my story about how I've always wanted to be a bad-ass ninja. I've never mentioned it before? Curious, as it's been my motivation during every one of my periodic fitness crusades. Not that I think it'd ever happen, but if corporate terrorists decided to seize control of Bishop Ranch 15, Building A, I want to know that I'd be able to subdue at least a couple of them, rappel down the building and run to the police station down the street. And maybe win a knife fight all Steven Seagal-style, with the twisty-wrist hand-wavy thing he does. Never mind that we don't have knives in any of our kitchens anymore because departing employees have taken them home, so we have to serve birthday cakes and pies with plastic utensils. Never mind that Seagal looks, well, let's not mince words here, more than kinda sissy when he's pretending to be in a knife fight. And if you're wondering why terrorists would want to overtake a little loan servicing shop in San Ramon, or how I'd be able to fend them off with a spork, you're missing the point. Bad-ass ninja. That's the point.

To that end, Accountant Boy and I took a judo class about ten years ago. I wasn't very good at it, because I could never learn how to do the most basic fall properly. If you watch professional wrestling, you know the fall I'm talking about. It looks like you're falling flat on your back, but your arms take most of the energy out of the landing, slapping the ground just before the rest of your body. I couldn't ever get that right, even after a hundred tries. I smacked the back of my head on that mat enough times to finally just give up.

I started going to the gym not too long after that, and while I occasionally got to the point where I felt like a bad-ass, I gave up my dream of being a bad-ass ninja. Sure, I was strong enough, but as soon as someone tripped me or knocked me off balance, I'd be done for.

Lately, though, I've started to wonder if the ninja agility is maybe in there, waiting to come out. A few months ago, Winston swept my feet out from under me while he was sprinting through the house. I flew into the air, suspended completely horizontally above my foyer. Somehow, I managed to land almost flat, forearms forming a triangle that kept my face from the hardwood, my palms and the tops of my feet taking most of the force. I wish I'd been able to see what I did, because I'm certain that it looked awesome, like something a gymnast would do. Winston thought it was cool, at least. He congratulated me by licking the top of my head.

And, a few weeks ago, it happened again. Winston and Kaylee, Daisy's dog, were running around the cul-de-sac, and I made the mistake of calling Winston and then turning my back on him. He ran at full speed into the back of my knees and swept me up like the flap on a pet door. As I found myself up in the air over my neighbor's sidewalk, I thought to myself, "Huh. This is how people die. This is how I'm going to die. I'm going to crack my skull on Barb's sidewalk. Un-be-f$%king-lievable."

And then, as if by magic, I was on the ground, flat on my back, but not dead. I lifted my head up slightly to look through my feet at Daisy and our dogs, all now across the street in my yard.

"Dude! What are you doing on the ground?"

"I...Winston ran into my legs...and..."

"Did you hit your head? Oh my God, are you O.K.???"

By this time, I was walking across the street and dusting myself off. "Yeah, I guess...yeah. I'm O.K. My hands hurt, and I landed a little hard on my hip, but I didn't hit my head. I didn't hit my head."

"Are you sure you didn't hit your head? You seem a little off..."

"I didn't hit my head because I did a bad-ass Judo fall! I did it! I'm like a bad-ass ninja! My hands kinda hurt now, though..."

What's up with my knitting, you ask?

I got this far on Katje, and then Winston got into the yarn.

I did a little more work on Big Stripey, and then Winston got into the yarn.

I rolled these two skeins up into big balls and started to swatch them, and then get the picture.

To be far to the poor guy, it is pretty hard to resist a big ball of string, especially when it's so close in texture to your favorite fleece toy. He's a young dog, with a lot of curiosity and boundless energy. If he eats my yarn and repeatedly tosses me into the air as though I were a particularly untalented matador, who's fault is that?

"Blunder? Are you reflecting on your flaws? Are you sorry for running down the Woman? Twice?"

"Yeah. I'm the saddest dog in the whole wide world."

"And for repeatedly trying to eat her handicrafts?"

"Yeah, so sad and sorry. I'm just gonna stare out the window and sigh for a while."

"And for urinating on the garage floor instead of in my cat box?"

"I'm really, really sorry for...hey, wait a second. I didn't do that last one!"


By the way, Mascorro, if you're reading this, drop me a line! I've been wondering what you've been up to for the last few years.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

get no satisfaction

What in God's name was I thinking? Wasn't I just talking about how I have a great big head?

I haven't mentioned it here, but everyone who knows me in my corporeal life knows that I can't wear hats with any amount of cling to them at all. A few years ago, I developed this weird sensitivity to anything pressing on my skull for even a few seconds. No elastic hats, no sunglasses perched jauntily atop my head, pulling my hair back. Hell, I can't even wear cloth headbands, even when they're loose enough that they're in danger of sliding off. I get these blinding, nauseating headaches, and by the time I realize that I've done it and yanked the offending object away from my head, it's too late. It only takes a few seconds.

And that's what happened when I tried to take pictures of this little hat. This stupid little hat that I knit up because I was tired of the bigger projects failing, and I just wanted something quick and cute and satisfying, and I wanted to be the kind of woman who could pull off a stylish, slouchy little hat.

Well, at least it was quick. I knit it up in under three hours. Now all I have to do is unravel it to the start of the ribbing and make it bigger. It won't be as cute as it is right now, but it'll be wearable, and that's more important. Probably.