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.