Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Restless Knitting Syndrome

I have an inability to knit very long right now. I'm bored. This is a very strange thing for me, because I find myself still very interested in knitting things (last night I did one of those total reorganizations of my knitting tools) but not much actual knitting is happening.
I think it may be because I have to many projects on the needles. I'm constantly switching the status of my projects on Ravelry from "In Progress" to "Hibernating" and back again.

For example, a couple weeks ago I pulled out my brown cabled sweater again and finished the front and started the neck. It is back to hibernating again. I picked up A Handsome Triangle and it has been laying over the arm of my couch for a good week without me working on it (which is crazy really since I only have 8 more rows and then I can do the crochet bind-off border and be done with it). I picked up Mark's sweater again. I've knit about three rows on each sleeve (I have them going at the same time on a long circular needle) I got confused about where I was since I was reading message boards while knitting again and I set them down. Knowing me lately, I'm not sure when I'll pick them up again.
Then I randomly start small projects. Like the project that shall not be discussed because it is a Christmas present and the so bright it hurts my eyes dishcloth. Why? I don't know. I need small projects now and then. I think that maybe it is that a majority of my projects are really kind of simple knits that I'm bored. Then I should be working on Clessidra, but I don't really feel like it right now.

I can actually explain the bright dishcloth. It is getting to be fall so I feel drawn to browns, reds, and grays. I honestly think I needed the hot pink, neon yellow, and bright orange to counteract what had become rather dreary knitting colors. I suppose I could also cast on the second Koigu sock, that is a pretty pink and purple, and maybe I will next but I needed another dishcloth. I guess I needed some flat knitting on circular needles and not another sock. It is strange how that works- different things appeal at different times.

I have also talked Mark into going to Geneva tomorrow night so I can go to Wool & Company. I can't really explain it, but I feel the need to visit a yarn store. I don't even know what I would want to buy, but I want to go. One of two things is going to happen- I'll either walk out of there with nothing or I'll walk out of there with a sweater's worth of yarn. Just watch. I also thought maybe Becky and I could go to Sew Krazy (a knitting and quilting store) when I am home this weekend.

Speaking of home, I am really looking forward to being home and not having to do anything wedding related. College football starts this weekend too, so I'm sure my Dad and Mark will be watching and discussing and debating (Dad- OSU fan, Mark- U of M fan, you probably won't really understand the depth of this clash unless you've lived in northern Ohio). I'm excited about it starting too, I like college football and I pay no attention to the NFL. I've always liked college football because to me it just feels like fall. I don't pay much attention to the actual games honestly, it is sort of comforting background noise, but I do care about who wins and loses and I like to follow it. I know some woman complain about their significant other's attachment to sports, but I don't mind it. It is guilt-free knitting time as far as I'm concerned.

Maybe I'll go back to knitting now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Our resilient balcony resident

This is our resident spider. Mark doesn't like her very much, but I won't let him kill her. It isn't like she is inside the apartment, she is in her natural habitat. Plus, this time of year there gets to be plenty of bugs around because of the pond. She is preventing them from getting to us. There was a really impressive web earlier this week, but the storm Thursday night did it in. This web has been constructed in the last three days.

Anyway, I tried to take pictures before but the spiderweb never shows up in the daylight. I went outside and could see the web perfectly in the light of the almost-full moon (creepy huh?) and thought maybe this time, with the flash, it would work. Obviously, it did (although you can't really see the moon.)

Overrated or overcritical?

While Mark is watching a movie that I decided I have no interest in seeing the end of, I've been playing around on Ravelry.

One of the things that happens and I think is funny, is that the same threads get started on practically every knitting board. I used to look through the Knitter's Review message boards a lot and I've visited some others from time to time, and it was no surprise to me to see a discussion thread on Ravelry about "overrated yarns."

Now most knitters are going to have yarns they like and yarns they dislike and there are going to be various reasons for that. I'm not sure just personally disliking a yarn makes it "overrated" though.

I noticed a lot of comments that were down on yarn because they weren't soft. I think it is kind of silly to expect all yarns to be soft. Some people have pointed it out already, but you really have to match the yarn to the project. Would I knit a sweater I wanted to wear next to my skin with Lopi, Noro Kuryeon, Manos, or Lamb's Pride? Not likely- the mohair content in Lamb's Pride would certainly make me itch and the other 3 are not soft enough wools for my taste. Lopi is especially meant for outerwear. I made mittens with Lopi and while they are not soft, they are fine for their purpose. All along I figured that if they were too itchy for me I'd make a pair of liner pair of mittens out of Classic Elite Lush (I haven't felt the need so far). Lamb's Pride and Kuryeon are great for felting and Lamb's Pride can be beautiful for non-garments - like the Christmas Stockings I knit last year. I love Manos, but it is not evenly spun and it is a little scratchy. It is perfect for a scarf that is going to be worn over a jacket instead of next to skin. Once again, knowing that it has its irregularities, I wouldn't choose it for certain projects.

That said I think the complaint about the number of knots in Noro and some other yarns is legitimate. When you buy a skein of yarn that is meant to have these long color repeats, it really throws your project off when 2/3 the way through you run into a knot and the yarn attached is in the middle of a completely different color. I did not appreciate that when it happened to me and most other people don't either.

I think complaints about the way yarn holds dye or the way it wears are also legitimate. I think some yarns can be overrated for certain purposes too- for example, a yarn that may be hailed as a terrific sock yarn may make only mediocre socks but may be excellent for lace.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I guess my opinion is that it is unreasonable to expect all yarn to handle the way you envisioned it. Some yarn is going to have little pieces of straw or tiny burrs or whatever in it. You can usually tell this before you buy it, and if you know you don't have the patience for a yarn that rustic, then don't buy it, and certainly don't expect that you are going to get a soft cuddly sweater out of it. If you buy handpainted yarn, you have to be prepared that it might pool and it might stripe and might do any number of things you don't like. Sometimes you just have to play with it until you find what really shows off those colors in a way that is pleasing to you. I sort of feel like you need to understand that before you buy it, and if you don't have the patience, buy something else.

Oh, and if you are allergic to a certain fiber in a yarn, it is really unfair to say it is overrated and complain about the yarn as if it is its fault. Don't buy a yarn you are allergic to.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Knitting Status Update

I don't have pictures quite yet, I hope to add them later this weekend.

I realized that as much as I've been typing the past couple days, none of it has been about knitting, so here is the update:

I finished the Malabrigo scarf. It ended up being slightly over 5 feet. I thought it would be longer and would have liked it to be, but is still an acceptable length and it matches one of my favorite hats, so all is good.

After I posted about the Clessidra sock a couple weeks ago I realized I was going to have to rip it. Fortunately, I only had to rip as far as the ribbing, but still, that wasn't exactly fun. It turns out that if you want seed stitch you have to alternate your knit and purl stitches else you will end up with ribbing. I don't know what I was thinking, obviously I wasn't. To be fair, I very rarely knit seed stitch because I find incredibly tedious and I knit it the round even more infrequently, so I guess it isn't surprising that when I went into autopilot on the knitting in those sections it failed. Anyway, after a few days I picked it back up and started again and I'm further than I was before now. Third time's the charm, right? (The first time was in May when I was going to make it larger than the pattern called for to be sure it accommodated my, um, shapely, calves. Then I got confused about where to put the extra stitches in the pattern so I ripped it out after Kate convinced me the pattern as is would probably be fine. Now that I've got it going I see how I would make it larger if I had wanted to.)

I've also resumed some of the projects that were "hibernating" for awhile. I finished the cable panel and the rest of the front on the sweater I started (and stopped) back in May. I've now picked up stitches around the neck and am knitting the mock turtle.

I also picked up the "Handsome Triangle" again. This is good knitting when Mark is reading law in the evening, and since he was back to school this week the shawl has reappeared. I was about 2/3 the way through the third (of four) section repeat when I put it down. When I was photographing it awhile back for Ravelry I noticed it was getting pretty big. After doing some research on other Handsome Triangles, I decided that my idea to stop knitting after the end of the third section was probably a good one. This means that I now have only 8 more rows to go (although those rows have 300+ stitches) and then a crochet border to do.

I have another project I am working on, but it is a Christmas present so I can't write about it in detail. Part 1 is done and I have begun part 2. We will leave it at that.

I also knit a quick pair of mittens two Sundays ago. They are child sized and I will send them for the Dulaan Project.


I am so incredibly glad that it is the weekend. I don't know why, but the last two days have just dragged. My co-worker Amanda turned around this morning and expressed amazement that it was only 10 a.m. She thought it was at least 12:30 and was ready to ask me why I hadn't left for lunch yet. Yes, it was one of those days. Another co-worker had 2 inches of water in her basement and the sump pump wasn't working because they lost power. I heard her call her husband and tell him ComEd had a recorded message on their phone that it will be 2 days before power is restored. I also heard her call everyone else she knows to tell them about the situation after she had gone around to tell each one of us in the office individually about it. This may have been a factor in it being one of those days.

It had some bright spots too. Mark was on his way to work this morning (he does not have Friday classes so he is continuing his internship of Fridays) and the traffic was all backed up because every traffic light was out on the road he needs to be on. Then he gets to the courthouse and security is out front directing everyone away because the power is out there too. This meant that Mark could meet me for lunch and not be rushed. He could also do some errands, like running to Target and getting some Kleenex. I had asked him to pick up an extra box for me to bring to work and he offered to drop it off for me (Target is just down the street). I accepted and then he showed up with the Kleenex and a Caramel Macchiato. I have a very sweet and thoughtful husband. (Right now he's picking up Chinese take-out for dinner too.)

Things just feel so weird right now. I haven't been affected by the storms too much. Work and home and the path between has escaped without much damage. I still had to hold up towels and a bucket to the living room window last night because water was coming in AGAIN. It was leaking in by the sliding door too. This is at least the fourth time this has happened, and we notify maintenance and all they ever say is that it is happening because the water is coming straight down the side of the building because the gutters are jammed up and they can't do anything about it except clean out the gutters the next day. Well first of all, if the gutters are such a problem maybe they should clean them out more often. Second of all, this doesn't happen at the bedroom window, and unless every other apartment is having the same problem there must also be a problem with the way the living room window and the sliding door are sealed. They are not interested in fixing that at all. I keep complaining because, as I said last time, as long as I'm there and know what is happening I can do something about it to minimize the damage, but what happens when we get a storm like that and I'm at work? Or what happens if it rains like that in the middle of the night and I don't wake up? I'm going to have two gallons of water in the carpet causing all sorts of damage to my apartment, my things, and very likely to the apartment below me. Apparently, I overreact.

Speaking of overreacting, I obviously am once again more concerned about safety than some people at work. It is customary to put extra food or goodies on the counter in the kitchen for people to help themselves too. One of the things that has always bugged me is that they will serve food for some event (usually organized by marketing) and then they will bring leftover sandwiches and meat upstairs and leave it on the counter. I have no idea how long that has been out, but I usually figure that it is probably already been almost 2 hours. Today that happened again. I noticed the food when I came back from lunch a little after 1 p.m. I went in the kitchen at 3 p.m. and there was still a little food left and it was still sitting out. I threw it away because no one should be eating Skirt Stake or Lemon Chicken that has been sitting out for at least 3 hours. Geeesh.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't worry, that siren is just an inconvient background noise

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. today I receive a phone call at work. It is from Mark telling me that they [everyone in the law school] have been sent to the basement because of a Tornado Warning. Everything is fine, but being that whatever is in DeKalb county will surely arrive in DuPage soon after, I started monitoring the weather situation.

About twenty minutes later I stopped by a friend's office to peak out her window at the sky. That is when I realize the tornado sirens are sounding (the building is oddly soundproof I guess). I rush back to my desk and inform my co-workers that the tornado sirens are going off. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise because I've already shared what is going on with Mark. No one believes me or seems very alarmed by the whole thing. I work on the third floor in the center of the building. While the center is rather isolated from the outside, I'm thinking that if the roof gets torn off this won't be a good thing. I decided that this would be an opportune time to return the investor file I have at my desk to the file room in the basement and I announce as much. I grab my cell phone and the folder and head downstairs.

The UPS truck is loading up on the distribution center dock, and after I return the folder I peaked outside. The clouds were churning around and the sky was getting to be a nasty color. Just about that time everyone else came downstairs too. The senior vice president had insisted everyone go. I found it incredibly interesting though that NO OTHER company in the building thought it was necessary to take precautionary shelter. What were they waiting for? To actually see a funnel cloud? It isn't like we are in an open area where you can see miles and miles of sky in all directions. I just don't get it. I have often thought that there is a disturbingly large chunk of the population here in Chicagoland that has no concern over the life or death or themselves or anyone else. This conclusion is most easily reached by driving here for awhile, but there are other clues. Obviously, this is one of them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The computer really is mine tonight.

Last night opened up the floodgates to issues I've had for the past year with not having a reliable working computer. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it affects a lot. I haven't been able to blog, and I really need to be able to write, it bugs me that I can't necessarily write when I want to. It annoys me to no end that I can take all these pictures and then it takes 5 hours if I want to edit them (and just simple editing like cropping and adjusting the light levels). My scrapbooking has completely dropped off, and while I can't deny the knitting has been a guilty party in its demise, if I can't get my pictures the way I want them I don't get them printed. If I don't have pictures, I don't scrapbook. It drives me up a wall that I can only update my iPod every two months when my laptop stays on long enough to download all the new podcasts and then actually update the iPod. This is important because I listen to podcasts at work when I have particularly dull tasks at hand or need to block out all the stupid noise around me. Listening to knitting talk or classic literature reminds me that I am alive. (I mentioned last night that I am feeling a little down, right?)

Anyway, the computer thing isn't just about having a computer. It is about being able to keep up my creative, intellectual side too. Mark thought it was important that we get me a new computer now. I've done some pricing now and then over the past year, I've looked at what was available, but I always decided it was an expense I didn't need. Since we have combined a lot of expenses now that we are married and live in one apartment instead of two, I agree that now is the time.

I initially thought I wouldn't want another laptop. I'm not a student, why would I necessarily need that? They are easier to physically damage. After the last eight months of having my old desktop back, I changed my mind. I feel isolated sitting at the desk, and the words never flow as easily. I spend 8 hours a day at a desk, I need to be able to sit on the couch when I check my email. I need to be able to sit next to Mark and blog while he does his law school reading. Although this time I got a 3 year warranty.

Today marks the two year anniversary of being in the full-time working world instead of in school. My first job was so terrible I try not to think about it too much. Well, except for those days I really hate my current job. I have to remind myself that it could be much worse- I could still work at that first job.

Tomorrow it will be two months that Mark and I have been married. I am very happy to say that all thank-you notes have been written and mailed before the deadline imposed by The Knot. (Which, by the way, they have wedding dates on file, so could they please quit emailing me offers for "30% off Bridal party gifts!" and other such things that are completely useless to me now?) Here is my helpful hint for Thank You notes: leave the house with them. It wasn't easy for us to write them with both of us working full time this summer and the apartment a bit cramped for space. We ended up packing up the gift list, pens, and several boxes of notes and heading off to Starbucks where we could actually concentrate on writing. This worked great because then there were no distractions, we had plenty of room to write and we could sit a surface that was the right height for writing. Also, it was easy to say that we could go home when one of the following happened:
  1. We finished writing notes for everyone on the list
  2. We ran out of blank Thank You notes
  3. The store closed
  4. It was bedtime
The first night we actually ran out of cards (I brought 3+ boxes). The second time we finished.

Now that I've written and feel better, I am going to go knit. I am working on A Handsome Triangle again and have about 10 rows before I'm going to cast-off. There is still a crochet border so it might be a month until I am done anyway.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rain rain go away

It seems like it has been raining constantly for the past week. Looking ahead in the forecast I see more rain/thunderstorm icons. I could really use some sunshine again, I feel like my energy is being drained.

OK nevermind.

I don't get to make a blog post because someone wants his computer back.

I could really use the creative outlet, I really want to write, and I don't get to.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thirty-one days hath September?

Growing up, the local newspaper was often referred to as "The Daily Mistake," and not just by my family. (It is really The Daily Record.)

This morning I was reading the paper online, and like always, I was checking out the vital statistics to see who I know (remember, small town and small school) that got sentenced for what. (I also like to see who takes out marriage licenses because they don't always put announcements in for their Engagements and Weddings.)

Today, we have this (names and addresses removed):

***** was fined $100 for criminal trespass and placed on two years probation. He must perform 20 hours of community service by Sept. 31, screen for mental health court and stay off victim's property.

***** was fined $250 for prohibitions and $100 for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was placed on 18 months probation, must perform 40 hours of community service before Sept. 31, complete an alcohol assessment and obtain and maintain gainful employment.

I'm wondering if this means they never have to complete their community service because September 31 is really never going to come. I doubt that, but I have to ask anyway.

On an unrelated note, MB asked:
Do you have a swift, or is Mark your swift?
I do have a swift. I bought one very early in my knitting career soon after I discovered the type of yarns that you need a swift for. I pretty much ruined one skein of yarn trying to wind it into a ball, I successfully wound another (but not without trouble) and that was enough for me. I figured that if I was spending that much money on the yarn I couldn't afford to have it end up in a big tangled mess. I also didn't really know any experienced knitters yet and podcasts were limited to KnitCast, so I had no one to show me or tell me that you can use your knees or you can put two dining room chairs back to back or you can just make someone hold the yarn for you while you wind it up. I don't regret the purchase though, it has got a lot of use (and those other methods have come in handy when I'm away from home and the swift). Since the picture of my swift is holding the yarn I used for Clapotis , I will share a startling discovery I made. I bought these mini pink calla lilies for my desk at work, and suddenly on Friday afternoon (after they were on my desk for two weeks) it struck me- they are the same color of Clapotis!In the summer I keep Clapotis draped over my desk chair. The AC gets a bit chilly sometimes. I found the calla lilies at Whole Foods. I had no idea they would last so long.

On to current knitting:

I've been doing a lot more cleaning and cooking than knitting so far this weekend, but here is the Malabrigo scarf I've been working on. When I took that picture it was about 2 feet long. Last I checked, it was up to 3 feet. It is the fourth time I've knit this pattern, but it can look so pretty in variegated yarn. There are only two rows to remember so while it is mostly mindless once you get started, it is still more interesting than just doing garter stitch or ribbing. I've come to accept that I like most of my projects to be mindless. It helps me relax and multi-task. That doesn't mean I don't like my cables and lace and colorwork. I do enjoy the finished object and sometimes I prefer to be more occupied with what I'm knitting. Sometimes I just like the challenge. I think I need a little more time for those projects I need to pay attention to. Mark starts classes again next week, so when he's studying in the evening I will probably pick up those more complicated things again.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Brown Clessidras

I'm feeling much better today. Want to see what I started yesterday afternoon? I learned that VH-1 countdowns are great to knit to.

It is Clessidra in Regia silk. I love the brown, it is so quitessentially fall to me. This may be because I went to a high school whose colors were brown & gold and that makes me think of football, and that makes me think of fall...

It could also be because brown always makes an appearance in fall fashion. Which brings me to another reason why today is good- I got my bonus check for last quarter! This means I can actually go buy some new things for my work wardrope. I really want a pair of much cuter brown shoes than I currently have. I think I may need to start on some sweaters again soon too.

My thoughts are a little jumbled. It is because I know I need to take care of some stuff. For example, I need to send the wedding picture proofs to my mom. I know why I've procrastinated. I hate to give them up. I will get them back eventually and then eventually I'll get the nice big album too, but right now these are what I have and I don't feel like giving them up. I'm actually looking through them one last time as I type this entry. Sad, huh?

All right, I've got to go do this.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Yarn winder follow-up

I've been resting and the second dose of Benadryl is working, so here is the post about the yarn winder.

As you can see, I now own one. After my unsuccessful search a couple weekends ago, I decided to just order one from Knit Picks. It actually arrived Thursday, but because our mailman hates us, instead of leaving the package at the Apartment office liked he has always done in the past, the mailman took the box to the post office where I had to have Mark pick it. I still got it Friday before we left for Toledo. I may also have wound up 3 skeins of yarn to test it out before leaving. It is fast! I used to think that I would want an electronic one because it would be tedious to keep cranking the winder- not so! The one I have is very smooth and fast without a lot of effort. I was also a little concerned about the capacity, but I was able to wind up a 900 yard skein of yarn (light weight) without too much trouble. I even wound a 450+ yd skein of bulky yarn (although that took a little more effort near the end).

I've become a little obsessed with converting balls of yarn into cakes. A small sampling is visible on the left. They actually are much neater and fit nicer in storage.

See the brown yarn that is front and center? That is the Regia Silk that I have cast on again (there was a failed attempt in May) for Clessidra. I bought the yarn awhile back from The Loopy Ewe and I've been meaning to make them, but I was originally going to make them larger (I have curvy calves) and I had a lot of trouble figuring out where the extra stitches would belong in the pattern. I'm going to try again without the adjustment and hope they fit. If they don't, I have someone in mind I could give them too.

I've had that attitude a lot lately, the "I it doesn't fit I'll find someone who wants it and can wear it" attitude. It may be due to the inability to close drawers, closets, etc. because every inch of storage in our apartment is in use. I can't wait for that day when I have a house.

I've also been stuck in that "I don't want to knit on anything I have cast on already, so I'm going to start something new" phase. I think the term is "Startitis." Anyway, it is bad. At least with Ravelry I don't forget about them so much.

It sort of feels like it is going to storm again. My head does not appreciate that.


Is it a little sad that I have to be sick before I have time to blog? Perhaps. It is all about priorities, and as much as I want to write sometimes there are other things demanding my attention.

I'm having some sort of sinus attack. I've felt it coming for the last couple days, and if I'd been able to nurse it a little more yesterday I probably would have been okay today. (Maybe not though, because I went to bed at 8:30 last night and still woke up feeling awful.)
Instead, when I came into work yesterday, this is what I saw. That pond is flooding because of a water main break. Which meant that we had no water in my building. Without water, I could not make tea, which would have helped me (I was really stuffy and had a scratchy throat), and I couldn't really stay hydrated because you had to go to another building to use the restroom, and I didn't need to be doing that 10 times throughout the day. It isn't such a big deal when it is just down the hall, when it is in another building it is. Lovely, huh? FYI that water color is not the sky. They put some weird chemical in the pond a few weeks ago to kill the algae and the pond became the color of toilet bowl cleaner. With the mud that was picked up from the water main break, it was just beautiful. I nearly gagged every time I walked by it.
It isn't just that though, the weather has really been doing weird things lately and all the pressure must be getting to me. We were in Toledo last weekend too, and more often than not I get sick with sinus/allergies while I'm there. I managed to escape without it this time, but you see what I'm doing now. I am staying on the couch with cup after cup of my favorite tea (Egyptian Licorice Mint by Yogi). I took some Benadryl too, and I think that may be kicking in because I am starting to feel sleepy. I'm going to lay down again and if I feel better later I will write all about my new yarn winder.