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 Winston...you 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.