Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Exercise in Futility

Just another episode of the freakshow that is my daily commute.

It's my own fault. If I would just remember to put my ipod back into my bag when I get to the office in the morning instead of dropping it on my desk and then covering it with files, I wouldn't get involved with these things.

Two women sat facing me on the train coming home. They were sort of loud, but one of them was hauling a suitcase, which of course she left sitting in the aisle for people to trip over as they got on and off the train, so I figured they were just excited to see each other.

Suitcase Lady asked her friend what stop they were getting off at and her friend answered, Baldwin. Well, I have an uncontrollable urge to be helpful and am apparently Quite Stupid and have not learned yet that if I actually talk to People On The Train I usually wind up annoyed, so I spoke up and told them that this particular train does not stop at Baldwin.

Suitcase Lady's Friend looked at me and informed me that when she comes into the City she always takes the Babylon train to get home. I replied, yes, but this is an express train, after Jamaica it only stops at Babylon (which, for anyone who may not know, is really nowhere near Baldwin).

She said again that she always takes the Babylon train to get home, but she did it with this smug little smile and such an "I know better than you do even though you do appear to do this every single freaking day so why are you even talking to me?" look on her face that all I could really do was agree that this was, in fact a Babylon train and go right back to knitting Matthew's new sweater.

The conductor announced several times that the train would go express after Jamaica and even listed all the stations that the train would stop at (it was a short list - only three stations) but they didn't stop talking long enough to have heard anything.

I felt a little bit bad when I got off at Jamaica to change trains and left them sitting there, still talking, loudly. I sort of wonder how long it took them to finally get to Baldwin. I wonder if they're possibly sitting in the train station at Babylon right now. Then I think about the Smug Face and this woman's complete unwillingness to accept that someone might know something that she doesn't and I feel, well, not any less bad, but let's face it, sometimes you can only try to be so helpful before you have to let people learn things on their own.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drive By Blogging

Yeah, I know. Another long gap between posts. Frankly, I suspect that I'm just not that interesting. Even to me.

I haven't really been finishing much lately - I knit all the time, I just never seem to finish anything. I really need to work on that. So, since nothing knitterly has happened (and just in case anyone actually stops by to read this) here are some gratuitous baby pictures of my favorite nephew...

He can't quite sit up by himself yet. My sister in law has him propped up in the corner of that chair, otherwise he topples over like a tiny little oak tree. He's wearing the Hooded Jacket from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby. I'm really glad I made the 12-month size. Matthew is six months now and, while he's still got a little ways to go (the sleeves are rolled up and he's still got a little space in there) this looks like it's close enough to fitting him now that by the end of the winter I think he's going to have grown out of it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cold Feet

So they got a little behind at my doctor's office yesterday. I was fine. I had a sock-in-progress in my bag, so while I waited two-and-a-half hours past my appointment time so that the doctor could jab a ginormous needle into my knee (which is every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds) I sat and went round and round and round and got most of a foot done when a woman sat down across from me and watched what I was doing for a while.

When she realized that I was knitting a sock her first question was "Do you wear them?" An odd question to someone who knits socks, but I suppose not to a muggle. She just couldn't believe that someone knew how to or would bother to knit their own socks. Neither could the woman sitting across from me on the train this morning.

So, having amazed two complete strangers in as many days with something as ordinary as a sock, I started to think. Up until relatively recently in human history, if you wanted a sock, this was how you got it. In fact, there was a time not so long ago when a woman wouldn't be seen walking down the road without a piece of knitting in her hands for fear of being "stigmatized with idleness".

I, on the other hand, do this as a hobby. I don't particularly need to knit socks. It's a novelty for me to have hand knit socks. If I were to never knit another sock, I could just go to the store and get a whole package of them for just a few dollars. Actually, I could get a whole package for less money than it costs me to knit one pair. If these women didn't knit socks, then they didn't have any socks.

I've got it pretty damn easy, too. If I want to knit a pair of socks all I have to do is go shopping online or walk into a store and I have access to a huge variety of colors and patterns and yarn that makes stripes all on its own with no effort on my part at all. (I had a woman thoroughly confused on the train a few months back with a skein of self-striping yarn. She absolutely couldn't figure out how I was managing to change colors.) Until relatively recently if you wanted a sock you had to go out and find a sheep, then you had to shear it, then you had to clean the wool, wash the wool, spin the wool into yarn, dye the yarn and then you could get started on knitting your sock.

Now I like to knit and I like to spin, but really...... If this was what I had to go through for a pair of socks, I would probably freeze.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to Mom

Mom's birthday was this past Wednesday, May 7th. This is what she got:

My brother called at 5:15 AM to tell us that Jennifer was in labor (yes, my sister in law's name is Jennifer). I said great, I'm going back to sleep, call me when she's done.

Everything went just fine and she got finished giving birth to the absolutely gorgeous Matthew Jesse at 1:09 PM. I suppose if there were a competition to get our mother the best birthday gift I would have to concede to my brother this year. I don't think the slippers she asked me for are going to quite top this.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I have an excuse !

Yes, yes, it's been two and a half months (thereabouts) since my last post. But in my defense, really crappy things have been happening in those two and a half months and I just didn't have it in me to post anything without sounding whiny.

Thing 1 - My aunt died unexpectedly of heart failure right at the beginning of March. She was my mother's sister and I hadn't spoken to her in about a year because of some things that went on during our last family vacation/rafting trip.

I've had some conflicting feelings. Several people, when I tried to talk about what I was feeling sort of brushed it off and said that it wasn't important and that I should forget it and just stop being angry at her. It's not that easy to just stop being angry though. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that my feelings are still valid. She actually did what I got angry about and the fact that she died doesn't change that.

I loved my aunt. She was a wonderful, thoughtful and caring person. She was also a self-centered, manipulative pain in the behind. I'm sure that I will stop being angry at her eventually and I'm sorry that she died before I got that chance. In the meantime though, I've decided that it is possible to miss her and be mad at her at the same time.

Thing 2 - About a week or so after my aunt died, I got hit by a car. Some woman made a left without checking that pesky crosswalk thing while I was coming home from the train. It could have been a lot worse, I only ended up in the hospital overnight, but I have some torn cartilage in my knee and a small fracture in one of the vertebrae in my spine. Not dangerous, just painful. Apparently it's healing well, but I'm still not allowed to go to yoga or hiking. It's not looking like there's going to be any backpacking or rafting going on this summer. Which is sort of annoying.

That's it. That's where I've been for the past couple of months. It's sucked, but it's getting better. I've been knitting. I've actually finished things, but you can't see any of them because, also, my computer crashed so I lost all my pictures and haven't reloaded them yet.

Yeah. Pathetic.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Shoemaker's Child goes Barefoot

As a knitter, I feel that I should be much better prepared for the cold than I actually am. The problem is that most of the things I knit go to other people. On the occasions that I do (try to) knit something for myself, something always comes up and whatever I was making for myself gets dropped. Somebody has a baby, or a shower or a birthday, or they spring Christmas on me again, or, let's face it, I have a short attention span. Some new yarn or pattern will come along, being all soft and pretty and enticing and I'll follow right along after it. I have no shame.

This is why I don't have a matching hat/scarf/glove set. Right now, I'm wearing a scarf that I crocheted several years ago that I lost the matching hat for, (and which, incidentally, has a hole in it), a hat that doesn't match anything that I think my mother bought for me when I was in college, probably at K-mart, and a pair of mittens that I made fairly early on in my knitting career. They came out about two sizes too big for my hands, and were knitted somewhat loosely, so they did absolutely nothing to keep out the wind or keep my hands warm. They languished in a drawer with other mismatched accessories until we moved about two years ago. When I was unpacking, they managed to end up in the laundry. I spotted them as they were going into the washing machine and I started to pull them out, but then just said "what the hell?" and threw them in to see what would happen. It wasn't like I could ruin them. Well, they shrank and felted and they're now about the warmest mittens I've ever owned. So, I wear them, despite the fact that they have nothing whatsoever to do colorwise with my hat and scarf.

I am working on a hat and scarf set. I found both patterns on Ravelry. The hat pattern is called Greenery, and may be the best cabled hat pattern I've ever worked on. The cables start right up out of the ribbing and the crown decreases don't mess with the cables. It pleases my sense of symmetry. My sister in law got one for Christmas and I liked it so much I made another one for myself.

The scarf is called Persephone. The cables don't really match the hat, but I think there's enough similarity that they'll work together. The designer of this scarf is, quite frankly, insane. Brilliant, but seriously, nuts. There isn't a single right side row on this scarf that doesn't have some sort of cross on it. You never just go for a few rows until your next cross like most (non-insane) cable patterns. It's loads of fun to knit, but you have to SERIOUSLY be paying attention. I can't wait to try some more of her designs.

The scarf has actually stalled a bit at the moment, as Baby Knitting has taken precedence (see... told you) but I'll try to get it done soon and hopefully be able to wear the set this winter. I don't know what I'll do for mittens, though.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get Them While They're Young

My cousin's ten year old was doing something at church with my mother on Saturday and Sunday, so she came to spend Saturday night at our house. I honestly couldn't figure out what in the world we were going to do to entertain this kid. Well, I didn't need to worry, because not too long after dinner she asked me what might have been the most wonderful question I've ever heard.

"Can I knit?"

I nearly cried.

So, upstairs we went to find a pair of needles, I gave her some of the Sugar & Cream that I have left over from the baby bibs and showed her how to cast on and knit. She caught on in no time and sat on the couch for about two hours working her way through a garter stitch washcloth.
Then she discovered the ball winder.

I will admit that I find the ball winder to be ridiculously fun myself, but Kellsey wound every single piece of yarn that she could get her hands on. I finally had to take it away from her and send her to bed. I won't have to wind a bit of yarn for months.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Matthew Jesse

Unless my brother and sister in law change their minds between now and May, this will be the name of my nephew. The Baby Knitting started right after the Christmas Knitting was (mostly) finished. I'm planning to find out exactly how much knitting I can pile on one baby.

I'm about halfway through the Cabled Blanket from Debbie Bliss Simply Baby. I have to admit that I tend to go back and forth a bit on Debbie Bliss patterns. Some I like, some I really don't. This pattern I like, though. It's pretty simple and I like the look of the garter stitch bit in the cable, which you can't really see in the picture, but I can't seem to get it to come out any clearer.

What I'm really, really loving are these bibs. I've been churning these things out for about a week and a half now and there's no stopping in sight. They're really just garter stitch squares and you would think that I would be ready to jump off a roof by now but I'm just finding them adorable. I'm using Peaches & Cream cotton, which feels nice to work with and comes in such great colors that I'm just not getting bored with them. Also, they're small, so they're great for the train. I may have to think of something else to work on tomorrow though. I've used up all the balls in the stash. (Well, except for some pinky sorts of colors, but I don't want to make my brother's head explode.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Very First

It's truly awful, but I'm pretty proud of it. It's my very first ball of hand spun yarn.

I did it on a drop spindle and I think I need a bit more practice. It's totally uneven and kind of fuzzy. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be fuzzy. It's also badly overspun in,, let's just say.... several...places (okay, most of it). But I'm happy because as bad as it is, it's all mine. I'm going to put it in a little baggy and write the date on it and save it. This way, someday far in the future, when I'm hopefully better at this and I'm trying to do something that's totally kicking my behind, I can pull this out and say, "Well, at least its not as bad as this."

My goal is to master the drop spindle and attempt to produce something that I might actually be able to knit something with (this isn't it) before I jump in and get myself a spinning wheel.

I was thinking of something like the classic "Sleeping Beauty" type spinning wheel, but having tried Kelly's wheel at our Sunday afternoon knitting meetup, I think that for the amount of space I have, a more compact portable wheel may be a better choice.

Speaking of which, there was some discussion last week that Panera should be paying us to come in there every week. Between the knitting and the chatting and the spinning wheels we were the main attraction in the place last week.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

And I'm back again

The problem when you get really busy and neglect the blog for a few weeks (okay a month) is that so much has gone on in the meantime that the thought of catching everything up becomes overwhelming and you just keep neglecting the blog. It's a vicious cycle.

So, to update - about five days before Christmas I reached the final stage of holiday knitting. I managed to get through Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression fairly quickly. Acceptance took a little longer. Everyone got their hats, but I had to give up on the scarves. My mom and my brother each got one sock. The others are on the way. My sister in law was pretty impressed with the self-striping yarn. I know I always am. My grandmother really liked her socks, but when she opened them - I noticed something odd.

I'm really not certain how I managed to make one foot half the length of the other, but I did, so now Granny is short a sock as well.

Today at our knitting meetup Kelly brought her spinning wheel and I got a quick lesson from her and Helen. I spun a little bit of remarkably crappy yarn and she loaned me her drop spindle so that I can practice with that for a while until I can get my own. It's possible that I may now be hooked.