Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yarny Christmas, and a Happy Knit Year!

It's been a while since I've been here, and if anyone is reading, I do apologize. I've had to do some navel gazing and that can be really boring for those not attached to the navel. Anyway, I've decided to keep this a knit blog only (which is probably real boring for a lot of people), and 2010 is going to be the year I knit my own designs and post about them.

We'll see how long I keep that particular resolution. :-)

Anywho, I got some nice yarn for Christmas. There was a massive sale at my LYS, my friend took me to a yarn store in her city and bought me some pretties, and my mother also chipped in some yarnie goodness for the holidays, so I got some primo swag in just the last two weeks. I can see I will have to do more knitting in 2010, if only to burn through some of this stash!

On to the roll call:

This first batch is the stuff I bought today at my LYS. She does a store-wide clearance the week between Christmas and New Year's, so I saved up some green (and got some from my sister-in-law at the holiday for this purpose) and went to town this afternoon, so to speak.

Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed--one ball in Emerald, two in Berry. They were in bins marked $4 a pop, so I couldn't resist. They are the Borg of the yarn world, without the creepy eyeball implants.



Two skeins of Cascade 220 and a pattern for a felted bucket hat in PeptoBismol Pink, for my mother. She chose the color, not I. It's really not so outrageous in person, but the picture fair gives me heartburn.



Two skeins of Berroco Sundae. I see on the Berroco site the color is called "Snozzberry", which is amusing. This stuff is gorgeous. I love the way the colors twine and twist and make pretty together. You can't really see it in the picture, but it's like...irridescence frozen into yarn.



Three skeins of Cascade Alpaca Lace Paint in a very pretty mix of blue, green and purple. I was going to get a massive ball of raspberry red cobweb lace and make a Victorian inspired shawl, then saw this. I don't like raspberries and I can still do a massive shawl with this, anyway.



My favorite of this lot: Three skeins of Great American Yarns Superfine Merino/Silk blend in a heart-stoppingly beautiful mix of blues and purples. I can see this in a very nice scarf, with a star-theme pattern. I'm not sure how big of a scarf I can do (it's 420-ish yards in what appears to be worsted weight), but this one really called my name. Quite loudly, actually.



End of the yarns from the LYS binge. Now we come to the yarns my mother bought for me at my favorite box store. She feels a bit guilty, I think, because I had to buy all of my own Christmas gifts this year (and had only one surprise). No, it's not a surprise, but it's a penance, anyway.

Bernat Alpaca, chunky, in color Indigo. I rather like it, even though I don't typically like the loosely spun yarns that look like a certain brand's 'homespun' yarn (cough, cough, *is innocent*). There's something about the bumpiness that bothers me, I guess I like my yarn tidy. Heh. Anyway, it was pretty and on sale, and that's good enough for me.



Lion Brand Wool-Ease, the workhorse of my yarn stash. This shade is called Blue Mist. I'm making a shawl in this stuff, in Forest Green, and I'm loving it. There is many a yarn snob who will turn their nose up at LB in all its many manifestations, but as a brand I have to say I've found very few losers (and only one that goes on my 'melt it down and use it for tray tables' list). I just wish they'd sell their higher end yarns in the box stores instead of reserving them for the online store. I am a yarn pervert; I must fondle a yarn before I'll take it home with me. I'd hazard a guess that many yarn fanciers are the same. LB does themselves no favors with this particular policy.



Joann's Sensations line Rainbow Classic acrylic yarn. 600+ yards in one big, fuzzy ball of smoosh. I have at least six, possibly as many as eight, of these suckers at any given time in my stash. I don't know why I love it so, but I do. This skein (??!!? What an inadequate word for such a massive lump of yarn) is destined for eternal life as a lap rug type item.



I visited a friend next state over the week before Christmas, and she weenused out on the holiday shopping by taking me to a yarn shop. I can't complain; I got some sweet swag out of it--quite literally, actually.

Araucania's Ruca. Sugar cane fiber, and the sample sold me. It knits up soft as silk, solid as cotton. And the colors are gorgeous. Since I wasn't paying (and the price tag made me wince; at the exact moment of purchase I was exceptionally poor--the price is actually pretty reasonable for such exotic yarn, these were $14 per hank) I chose two skeins of this and got a free scarf pattern. I'm not sure if I'll use the free pattern for this yarn or make something up on my own, but I can't wait to knit it.



Misti Alpaca, lace weight baby alpaca, looks like color Merlot. It was on clearance, and I love the purple. I should have gotten a third skein, but I was dazzled by the fleeces for spinning on display. Still, 880 yards, I'm sure I can come up with something to suit.



Finally, we have reached the point of no more pictures, the end of my yarn binge. Now I just have to figure out where in my stashtainers I'm going to stuff these new items, what I'm going to do with them and when. I'm practically rubbing my hands together in evil glee over all the exciting new toys I have to play with here.

2010 looks like it will be an excellent year for the knitting!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And I feel fine.

I've been floating a lot lately. Not as in floating in water, just...floating. I don't want to write, I'm not all that enthused by knitting, I'm not into anything, actually. I'm just riding the stream of my life. Which, admittedly, is pretty narrow at the moment. I'm not depressed, I'm just not feeling driven, and actually am pretty burnt out at being driven, as I can't seem to meet any goals I set for myself, so I've just let go. Let go angsting over outcomes I cannot control. Let go of pushing and pushing and feeling guilty that I can't get anywhere. Just...let go. And it's ok, for once. I'm not criticizing myself about the not pushing, and for the first time have a sense of inner peace.

I've finally come to inner terms over my slacker self.

In other news, Dog had some minor cosmetic surgery. He'd grown two of those black blobby things that dogs seem to develop as they age, and quite by accident they were in the scratch path to his ears. He'd hit them and they'd bleed like buggers, so I had to have them removed (if only for the sake of my pant legs--dashedly hard to get blood out of jeans!) He's got six stitches total, an appointment next Friday to have them removed, and a brand new...erm, well, they used to be cones? Those thingies that keep dogs from scratching or biting at surgical incisions? They ain't cones anymore:

Doesn't he look thrilled? *snerk*

I had some observations and thoughts to post in my next blog post, but they seem to have been swept downstream without me. I guess I'll just leave you with the Puppy Flower (alternately, it looks like he's been knocked off a boat), and a wish that you can find your own inner peace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love Malabrigo?

I sure do. Hop over, quickly, quickly, to the Yarn & Kisses Malabrigo Giveaway at the Salihan Crafts blog.

Unfortunately, they make you choose which yarn you want to win. Which, considering the overall lusciousness of Malabrigo in all its forms, is so very, very hard....

Good luck!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Well, that's gratitude for you.

I nursed my mother through a wicked cold last week--made her hot toddies (probably getting her hooked on Drambuie, which is sorta funny as she is a hysterical teetotaler), fetched and carried (to a limited extent: I wasn't home the whole time) and even checked with a mirror to make sure she didn't die during one of her naps. And how does she thank me? By giving me her cold.

Bugger.

Ah, well. It could be worse, I suppose. Always could be worse.

I spent Thursday morning retaking pictures of all my yarns. I only got through the cedar chest of yarny goodness, but already I'm up to 79 pictures. I have...my sock yarn box (new!), my bulky acrylic box (also new, but not as new as the sock yarn box) and my general acrylic tub, which contains all the acrylic yarns I have dedicated to a particular project which I will not be photographing individually. And my knitting bag contents. And some random bits and bobs of yarn that I've got lying about...elsewhere. I begin to believe I have a problem--my yarn is disorganized!

In knitting news, I have slightly more sock than I did before (it took forever to get that toe put in and I did it completely wrong, so I'm not going to have a pair of matched socks at the end--which is rather in the spirit of the Weasley twins), I'm starting a baby blanket for a cousin of mine--or will be, when I get some #10 circulars in a 32" or longer length--and I've been trying to get a self-designed item started up, but keep finding problems with my pattern and so have decided to put it off for a short while. A very short while, maybe just until after Christmas. Maybe I'll take them on for Ravelympics? Then again, maybe not. I don't do well with deadlines.

The book goes (if you are following the blog, you know what I'm talking about), but will have to wait until the cold is gone to be taken up again. I've only been sitting in my desk chair for an hour surfing the webs this evening and already my back feels like it's on fire. OMG, it sucks to get sick. I suffer excellent health the majority of the time, and this is why I'm such a whiner. I wouldn't whine if I wasn't so accustomed to feeling quite hale and hearty. I know it seems I take my naturally excellent constitution quite for granted, but believe me, I don't. I long ago assumed an Attitude of Gratitude for my hearty nature. But I miss it. *sniffle, sniffle* And I'm coughing. I hate coughing.

I think I'm going to go make myself a pot of (decaffeinated) tea, and grab a tot of Drambuie for myself to drop into the bottom of the cup right before bed. That stuff is wonderful. It's every bit as good as a certain "stop your coughing, sneezing, blah, blah, blabbity, blah, blah and knock yourself out" medicine, but tastes far superior. Particularly in tea. And it isn't green. Always a good thing, that. I don't believe one should drink anything of that particular shade. Can't be good for your health.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh, my.

Two words. One name.

Yo-Yo Ma.

I am still in shock. I was actually less than 30 feet from Yo-Yo Ma. While he played beautiful music.

Ah, the stories to tell my grandchildren. :-)

Other stuff has been going on in my life. Stuff that was important before 8pm this evening, that is. Now I just have an urge to take my iPod to my bedroom and doze off to the sounds of baroque cello.... I will have to come back some other time and relate my September to you. Some other time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gomez

I occasionally take care of a pair of cats--we'll call them Thing 1 and Thing 2, because that's about how they are--for a very nice kitty mommy who lives down the street from my sisters and goes on vacation (unlike my mother, who is an enmeshed kitty mommy and won't go on vacation, because "who'll take care of the cats?"). Kitty Mommy just went on a cruise to Mexico, and, in addition to giving me gas money and sweet tea to deal with the fact that Thing 1 has mastered the art of turning on the touch lamp next to the guest bed--at 4:30 in the morning, no less*--, she brought me a new friend.

He has some tattoos on his back--apparently, he's into gardening. If I come downstairs at an unusual hour and find "LA Ink" on the telly, I'll know why....

Class, say hello to Gomez. I chose the name because of the glorious mustache he seems to have there; it reminds me of Gomez Addams ("Tish, you spoke French!") and they both have that slightly skeezy smile that manages to both make you incredibly uncomfortable and completely charm you at the same time. He's found a new home on top of my computer next to Bluebird of Happiness and Moon Turtle, right in front of my Stephanie Pearl-McPhee 2009 Calendar of Knitting Win. It might be hard to tell from the pictures (not!) but he's an eye-searing orange and blue tabby with big, cheerful daisies on his back, and I love him. I think he fits right in with both my Weltenshauung and the colors I tend to favor. I'd take him upstairs and put him in with some of my other collected items, particularly the beautiful chalk drawing I got in Puerto Rico, which has much the same color scheme, but last night he started to tell me his story and it's just handy to keep him near my keyboard. Writer's Digest is having their annual short-short story competition, and Gomez strikes me as being the soul of brevity. So far, there are art thieves, street urchins and dangerous, self-effacing heroics involving a leaking dugout canoe and piranhas. Methinks Gomez is also a bit of a braggart, but I have to admit he's a fascinating storyteller. Those "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials seem to have given him an inflated sense of adventure....


No, it's not blurred, this is an
accurate rendition of the actual painting.


And under the heading of Old Business, this is a picture of a painting I especially loved in Chicago. I myself didn't get a shot of her (mostly because I'd just found my friends again after losing them in the galleries and was concentrating on keeping them in sight), but I remembered her vividly and regretted the loss. She's not available on the website (alas!), but the friend who did take the picture remembered to get the little info plaque in a picture, too. Instead of sending it along with the painting, she transcribed it:

"Lisa Yuskavage
American, born 1962

Angel, 2004
Oil on linen

Collection Nancy Lauter McDougal and Alfred L. McDougal, promised gift to the Art Institute of Chicago, 7.2009

Lisa Yuskavage paints exaggerated, self-aware pictures of women--usually in various stages of undress and in suggestive poses--that compel erotic, voyeuristic interaction. Employing imagery derived from pin-up magazines as well as from an exploration of her own conscious and unconscious desires, Yuskavage's unsettling, indecorous subjects function in opposition to her technically skilled conveyance of light and suggestion of mood through color. While most of her nudes seem ironically trapped in their own sexuality, the poised, monumental, and fully clothed figure in Angel gazes outward with melancholic sincerity. Her stance suggests empowering self-revelation. This almost-classical figure--set in a sublime landscape featuring a still life in the foreground--is based on a model, but can be understood as a kind of self-portrait."

Gods, but I do love this one. It's nearly impossible to capture the actual colors of any painting in photograph, so understand that the colors are a little more saturated in life. And I seem to recall the 'sky' above her head as more purple, but that could be paintings crossing paths in my mind and blending together. In any case, she was one of the paintings that resonated most strongly with me at the time. Reading the plaque info, I'm pleased (I'm all about the empowering self-revelation) that it resonated, and I like the confidence the figure projects. You don't often see images of round women looking confident--apparently, you need to have bones showing to deserve confidence--or so...powerful. She really gives the impression that she is a goddess, she knows it, and she wants you to know it, too. Bow before me, peons, before I pelt you with the fruit from my bowl!

To quote an absolutely dreadful stage play made film that I don't recall the name of now: Moxie. :-)

* I just want to point out it's very hard to be angry at Thing 1, she's adorable. She looks like a cross between a tiny teddy bear and a little fuzzy lion cub. But at 4:30 a.m., when you weren't able to get to sleep the night before because someone was purring like a motorboat and laying across your neck like a slightly outsized, furry garrote, it's re-e-e-eal easy to see how you could get angry at a tiny, golden teddy lion. Just sayin'.

Thing 2 is a story all of his own, perhaps for another post.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Slacker Queen

Yes, I am a slacker queen, thank you very much. Although I'm trying to be one not so very much, which is harder than it looks. See, I'm a perfectionist. And slacking off, despite what it looks like, is a perfectionist behavior. It goes like this: I could do it, but I'll just do it wrong, it won't be perfect, so why waste time starting to begin with. See? Slacker Queen.

So, anyway, I decided as my unemployment benefits are running out (sooner than I thought--oh, not by much, but still, sooner) I would dedicate September to be the Month of Doing Something I Have Always Wanted To Do But Never Tried As I Will Just Get It Wrong And Fail, Anyway. Which isn't going to acronym down to anything sensible, so I will just call it my September Project. I actually began September Project on September 1. I've only missed one day, that was yesterday, but I had other issues that took priority, and since I'm trying to get over the perfectionist slacking, I've decided to be kind to myself and say I'm not perfect, occasionally there will be a day off. And that's OK.

So I got back up on my pony today. Yes, it sucked. Yes, I tried to avoid my daily duty by hopping on the intarwebs and checking my bank balance, my savings account, my Ravelry, my email, anything and everything and all that other crap. No, I didn't let myself totally slack off. I did my surfing, beat myself up a little bit for slacking, told myself to take a chill pill, made a pot of tea and got on with what I came here to do. I feel justifyably proud of myself for doing so.

And what is this magical September Project? What is that wacky, kooky, nutty Surly Knitter doing when she should be getting off her arse and getting her freelance writing up to snuff? I'm writing a novel.

Let me 'splain.

I'm da bomb at short fiction--I can write short stories like gang busters (and I have the three--three!!!--thumb drives full to prove it), and I can even do short non-fiction pretty quickly as well, hence the decision to try and earn my living through freelance writing. I mean, I'll never be a millionaire, but I can surely pull down a decent living if I work at it, and if it means I never have to call another human being boss and kiss their butt when what I really want to do is slap them stupid...well. I can work pretty hard when I'm inspired, and that is so inspiring! Plus, Dog is getting accustomed to having me here all day. Yes, it's weak to say I'm trying to work at home for the sake of an elderly dog, but.... In many ways, he's taught me to be a far better human than I was before. I owe him. And he's cute and fuzzy and has a big, squishy nose. He wins.

So, yeah. Well. Ahem. *blushes* Anyway, I have this unreasonable block about long fiction. I've tried, lo so many times over the past ten years to write something longer than 10 pages and failed. Well, not so much failed as 'discovered systems that don't work for me' (heh, how's that for spin?) It's become my Great White Whale, the novel form. Not so much because I believe in my heart of hearts that I am destined to write the next Great American Novel (whatever that is), but just because...so far, it's won. The long fiction? It's beaten me down, brung me low, painted the yellow stripe down my spine and mocked me all the way home.

You see, then, why this situation is intolerable. I will not live at the mercy of a literary format! Did I let an inadequate in-person knitting education stop me from finding great peace in my crafting life? No, I found online videos and tutorials that spoke my language and taught myself how to knit. Did I let the lack of patterns that looked just so block me from creating items that I desired? No, I found reference guides, learned to Love the Swatch and designed my own damn patterns. Will I let some arbitrary word count mock me as an unreachable goal? No. No and yet again NO! This, gentlemen (and ladies) means war!

So I continued my quest to figure out a system that will work for me, enable me to harpoon the magical novel-length fiction. I got a random email this summer (believe me, it was totally random--I didn't even belong to this guy's newsletter list until after the email came) that described a method of using the 'outline' system that, for once, made some sort of sense. I have no idea who this Randy Ingermanson is, but his Snowflake System seems sensible. And just now I have realized why it makes more sense to me: it's based on a mathematical model. Hear me out: I had trouble learning to knit from the woman who taught my class because I have an engineering mind (unfortunate, but yes, it's true), and she was teaching it from a hobbyist's perspective. There's nothing wrong with the hobbyist's perspective on knitting, but I needed to understand the engineering of the thing--how the yarn twists in the stitch, how the loops behave under tension--before the way the yarn is wrapped around the needles and drawn through the loops made any sense. He's using a software designing tool to write long fiction. Beauty! Now I can use my methodical, plodding engineer's mind to shape my words!

Anyway. I'm up to step 6 already (just finished today; it's actually a page longer than he describes, but I'm just going to go with it.) Next week, I plan on getting my in depth character studies and the spreadsheet of scenes done. I'm skipping step 8--waiting for the thing to sell--because that's not the purpose of this activity. This particular novel is most likely going to be crap. And I'm fine with that. I just want it to be longer than ten pages, coherent enough to tell a story and, frankly, just done. It will be crap, but novel-length crap, so who cares if it ever sees the light of day? I'll have done the thing, and that's enough for me. I will know that I have done it, I have conquered my unreasonable fear and percieved inability to write long fiction. And if I can do that, why, dear reader, just imagine what I can go on to do! This month, a novel. Next month, the world!

So. That's what I'm up to nowadays. If I succeed, I succeed, if not, I'll have eliminated one more option from the billions of systems out there for the aspiring writer. And I'll know that much more about myself and how my mind works. All in all, that can't be such a bad thing, can it?

And because people enjoy pretty pictures, here's my random photograph of the day:


Tiffany glass window, ain't it purty? And oh, Blogger, my Blogger, why won't you post my pictures where the cursor is? Why must I drag and drop the darn thing all the way down the page?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Minication

Apologies for the disjointed and distracted air of this post, but I'm attempting to multi-task. Since I haven't got the wattage to do so successfully, I'm sure the writing will suffer.

I went to visit a friend in Chicago this past week, and it was quite therapeutic. I'm currently a bit dehydrated (I was there and walking around when it was nice and hot), but that can be corrected. It was quite fun to get out and about. I was only going to go up for one day, to see the Harry Potter prop exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, but somehow it blossomed into a two day barn storm of the town, which grew to include bringing along a second friend and staying overnight at the Chicago friend's house. I don't mind, really, I got to do more fun stuff in two days (well, more like 30 hours all told) than I typically do when I go to Chicago. Not that I go often; the drive is a pain in the kiester and to fly is...well, frankly, silly. So I ended up seeing Millenium Park, eating at the John Hancock Tower's restaurant (on the 95th floor! What a view!) and then we wandered past the Water Tower, down to the Navy Pier and the stained glass museum exhibit (which is beautiful; if you get a chance you should go), and capped off the day with deep dish pizza, naturally. I was so excited that I got to eat in restaurants with relatively little trouble that I consider that a highlight of the event.

Day two we started with some excellent home cooking, then off to the Art Institute of Chicago where I figured out how to take low-light, no flash photos with my camera (a big issue in art museums!) that didn't get either washed out from auto-color correction or turn out so dark you had no idea what the heck the target was in the first place. I got some pictures of art, which is cool. Particularly the Van Goghs. I loves me some Van Gogh. Then we wandered down to Buckingham Fountain, although it was a gloomy, rainy day, and back up for some lunch and then home. In all, it was a lovely two days. We weren't rushing around (in fact, our pace was quite leisurely), we got to see all the things we wanted to see (even if they were relatively few in number) and it was fun to hang out with my friends.

Unfortunately, the next day I had to take my cat to the vet's for a shot of whatever steroid they give him when he has his asthma attacks-the weather, you know, is quite harsh for asthma kitties in summer. I guess it's the humidity. Anyway, he was doing quite well the day after the shot, and he's doing even better now that the humidity/temperature have dropped, so I'm a lot more calm myself. He's going to be unhappy tomorrow night, as my brother is going to be by with the platform bed he built for my new foam mattress, and I'm sure the sounds of drills and hammers will just please Asthma Kitty no end, but whatcha gonna do?

So it's been a mixed week as far as experiences go. Two days of excellent, one day of suckage, one day of good. The other three, I suppose, have been six or half dozen of both. And I think my photobucket album is done downloading, so I can leave you with this:


The Poet's Garden by Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blogger love

My friend took me out today for my birthday. We went to the mall, where I watched her drop an obscene amount of cash on clothing (seriously, I nearly had a coronary, and I used to spend nearly as much on books. Over the course of two months, of course. Even I'm not that spendy!) Then we went to the bookstore where she bought me my gift, a book, and I gang-pressed her into donating a book to the local children's hospital. Then we went to the movies.

I should point out, I attend movies regularly--I enjoy them far more than television. Why, just last night, I went to the movies in celebration of another friend's birthday. That film was...less than satisfactory. I like to find meaning in my films, messages, little love notes of wisdom from the film's writers to me. Granted, this wisdom is typically watered down with all the Hollywood bollywoggle that has to be added to make the film marketable, but to the discerning eye, it is there. Last night, I went to see a film whose only possible meaning is "be glad for death; at least you won't end up living a half-life like this nitwit." Not exactly life-affirming, if you know what I'm saying. Then again, it is High Victorian Melodrama of the lowest order, so you know a) Hero and Heroine would fall deeply, madly, truly in love, b) someone's going to die a painful, senseless death, and c) the other party will suffer in the tradition of Good Queen Vic for her Albert for all the rest of their days. Tripe. Bah.

Not to insult cow stomachs everywhere, but today I decided to go a little more cheery with Julie & Julia. Little did I realize that the movie is a love note to bloggers--well, and Julia Child. And butter. And yes, they did make Julie look a little more than very self important, and treat her blogging (at one point) as little more than the butt of a very extended joke about how her readers would be traumatized (traumatized, we tell you!) if she were to stop writing. But in the end, the movie was about making promises to yourself and the importance of keeping them, and Julie isn't the only blogger to use her blog to do this. There is an accountability in blogging, even if no one else is reading, even if no one else ever does. It's like...weighing yourself at a certain very popular weight loss group's centers--no one ever knows the numbers but you and the lady behind the desk, but you know you're going to be there. An obligation to yourself.

And, frankly, the marriage of Julia and Paul Child was the sweetest thing I've ever seen on film in my life. If only the writer of Tripe Central would have used this as the basis of a romance, I would have enjoyed it more. Love, true love, means something more than dying a beautiful death and then self-involved wallowing in pain and misery. It means...helping your beloved to be the best them they can be, supporting them through the bad stretches, and then letting them take all the credit for their success because, well, they did the work. That's love. And it's beautiful!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh, this is SO pathetic.

Do you know what this is? Well, if the picture wasn't blurred beyond recognition, do you think you'd know what it is?

The start of a toe of a sock! I managed to figure out (with group assistance) the ins and outs of the Magic Cast On--which is not as hard as it looks initially--and did three rows. Well, did it twice as my first cast on was as tight as Joan Rivers' face (hey, she jokes about it). My second cast on was less painful and I managed to get the first row knitted on. After a small happy dance, I did the first increase row. Next up will be another knit row, but I think I'll leave it for a time when I'm not exhausted and suffering from dry contacts. Yeah, it's small and I can easily redo it, but why duplicate effort if it's not necessary?

To get the whole kit and kaboodle home, I decided to improvise my own needle case.



Yeah, sometimes I'm so sharp I just about cut myself. No need to worry about fragile size 1 DPNs! Just insulate them against shocks with your yarn.

It's silly, I know, but hey. Take what pride you can in whatever accomplishments you can own. It's just a toe, but I did not let it scare me. I did not let the sock intimidate me into backing down. I deserve cake now. And maybe some milk.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I spotted a gap, then I filled it.

Before I begin today's blather, I'd like to show you something I bought a few weeks ago and am not sure if I displayed here:

Yarn Love fingering weight in colorway Turtle Cheesecake. Mmmm. Cheesecake. Actually, to me it either looks like a seal point Siamese cat's coloring, or Dog. Just...Dog doesn't have quite that much peach in his fur colorway. Not that he's opposed, just it's not really a naturally occurring color in dogs. I could always do some of his white up in a nice peach, I suppose.

Anyway. I've been beaten down. Lured to the Dark Side of Knitting. Yes, them as wot reads this Blog, I am planning to knit my first pair of socks.

Prior to this point, I never saw any reason to knit socks. DPNs are fiddly and prickly, Magic Loop escapes me (mostly because I can't get my circular needle wires to straighten out enough, boiling water not withstanding) and I can't handle two circs at once. But then a member of my knitting coven showed me the error of my DPN ways--I had been using metal DPNs, exclusively. I don't (typically) use metal needles for anything other than lace (and then only the circs) because it's too inflexible and slippery. I'm not big on yarn slipping off my needles and I keep a death grip on them anyway, so I switched to bamboo needles for most applications. It's got enough flex to keep my hands from cramping and grabs the yarn (and I don't, as you would think, grip them hard enough to snap--I think the flex encourages me to loosen my grip.)

So I picked up several sets of bamboo DPNs in the popular sock-knitting gauges, and then headed off to review patterns. Have y'all seen how many pages of free sock patterns there are on Ravelry, much less the rest of the internets? Holy carp. How does one choose?

So I hemmed and hawed and eliminated them one by one (I don't want lace for a first sock project, since I'm still getting my grip in with the DPNs, no cables as I've not done cables in a bigger project yet and I want to have a firm grasp on the principles before I do it on a small project, etc.,) and have decided I want to do the Fred & George Socks, from over at The Leaky Cauldron. It's a simple enough pattern that I won't get bogged down in the stitch details, plus the color alternations will make them interesting enough to actually finish. Not to mention, Fred and George are my favorite of the Weasleys (like just about everyone else in the online knitting world, I read and loved the Harry Potter series. It's inevitable, really, all the knitting that goes on in the books.) It should have been Percy! Ahem.

So, my completely biased sock pattern choice made, I went in search of sock yarn. Imagine my surprise when I checked my cedar chest of yarn and discovered that I have no sock yarn! Well, I do, but the colorways are hardly complimentary, and the four skeins (yes, of all my yarn, only four skeins are sock yarn) are earmarked for lace projects. Oh, I have Knitpicks Palette, which would do in a pinch, but I wanted sock yarn with nylon in it. It wears longer, and if I'm going to be bothered, they will last for a long time. As socks go.

Spotting this gap in my collection policy, I immediately rectified it. A quick trip to Joann's, and now I am the proud owner of this group of yarns:

The wise among you will realize this is way more than necessary for one pair of socks. There's two pairs' worth of yarn there. In two sets of colorways.

The first potential pairing will involve this pink variegation and the charcoal.

The second would involve this purple stripe and the solid purple.

I can't choose the colors I want to use first! Purples or pinks, purples or pinks...which is weird, anyway, because prior to today I would have said I completely despise purples and pinks! I'd rather wear sacking! No, not only have I been called over to the Dark Side with Socks, I've chosen girly colors.

Oh, the shame.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ye Gods.

I found out yesterday through the Grapevine (to which I thought I was no longer connected) that a former coworker died on Friday. Even worse, she was my age (or fairly close). Granted, it wasn't as if she was the queen of health habits, and she'd had some health problems in the years prior, but, yeah. It's just...it makes me feel odd. Worse yet, I've discovered that while I may think I've gotten over the trauma of my layoff and the stressful year proceeding (we all knew it was coming, but not when or for whom), I'm really not. I think I may have to have a nice, therapeutic cry at some point. And then get my health back in order, because whoo, doggie. This hit me hard. Yeah, she wasn't really the poster child of health, but she wasn't old. I guess it really doesn't take long for the self-abuse to tell....

Anyway, emotional trauma aside, the Success of the Sweater has inspired me to enter the Berroco Sock Star competition. I don't do socks, so I'm going to go for something a bit more in my style. Granted, it's probably massive hubris, and I doubt I'll win, place or show, but eh. It's keeping me off the streets and Nieceling gets another item for the closet out of it. And it's fun. I'm doing my swatch today, along with some of the maths (when the swatch dries) and then starting up on it before the week is out. Scary, but I can be dumb like that.

I've also decided that if I'm going to start freelancing, I really need to get in the habit of financial prudence. To that end, I'm again declaring at least one month of not spending, in the spirit of the MSN 30 Day Challenge. I've got two 'committments' to spending in the form of attending movies with friends (and I may have to tuck up $10 per week into my budget for discretionary movie attendance), but I can certainly stand to go on a yarn diet. I've been bulking up lately, and that needs to stop. I've also got a blue dozen patterns in my head that need to be made manifest, and I already have the yarns for them, so it's not like I won't have something to do to keep me busy that doesn't require spending.

The biggest problem to this end is that one of my friends is a massive spender herself. Anything we do together typically costs. AND she's always asking me to go shopping with her when her sister won't go. It's not her fault that I'm a recovering shopaholic and that this is tantamount to asking a recovering alcoholic to hang out in a bar, and it's also not her fault that I find the fact that she just legally made a large chunk of unsecured personal debt disappear and so has a disposable income while I spent five, long, miserable years paying off my spending sins only to end up unemployed and floundering, and I resent it. She had three times the debt I did, and there are those who have no sympathy for me, saying that with two college degrees, I should be doing better for myself than I am, so perhaps what we've got here is a six or half dozen type of situation that I should just get the hell over. Regardless, she loves to shop and eat out, and I no longer enjoy either (although I dislike eating out for a different reason), and there's a part of me that worries we'll have nothing left to bond over and just that likely to spend without really needing to do so, in a sense of accomodation.

So, the whole point of that paragraph long rant is that I really, really, really need to sit down and craft my own personal Manifesto. That way, I know what is important to me, what my priorities are, and can refer back to them personally when I need guidance on things like spending or activities. I like to have things written out clearly and concisely so that I can refer back to them at will (I like to think it is a residual affect of my OCD, this mental tidiness, and not incipient schizophrenia, which also counts compulsive writing as a symptom). If nothing else, it will give me a better sense of my self and my direction, which is all good when someone asks about my elevator speech. After all, if I know where I'm going, then I can spin anything in my direction.

I'm a writer, we're good like that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My God, I'm better than I knew!

The sweater has been delivered to the Nieceling. Here's a detail of the sleeve, which can be folded over and pinned back, or hang completely over the hand in a tube:

This detail turned out better than planned, actually. Even when pinned back, they sort of bell out and flare, like an old-fashioned collar. I'm fairly surprised by that, myself.

And here she is, making a really cheesy face (and pose) for the camera:
Just as planned, the sweater dropped down to tunic length, which completely covered what she was wearing (t-shirt and shorts). She was enjoying it, even though it had to be sweltering hot--wool sweater, even a loosely knit sweater, on a monstrously hot day....

Yeah. She's good to her Auntie. :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where has the time gone?

Yeesh. June. Yeah, let's not talk about June. It wasn't the best month I've ever had. Not the worst by a long shot, certainly not, but not the best. Let's just discuss what I've been doing in terms of knitting.

Here's a clue.

Here's an even bigger one....

I made a sweater! My very firstiest-first one, and I did the maths and designing (such as it is) all myself. My pride is enormous and probably completely out of proportion with the actual accomplishment.

I decided, since I am such a sweater newb, to design and knit the sweater for the Nieceling, as she is about half as large as me. Granted, it's a bulky yarn knit on large needles, but half the time to knit is half the time to knit, as well as less effort if I screwed up. I don't think I've done too badly; when I get Nieceling into it for fitting and photos, we'll see.

I still have to put the buttons on, but that's just housekeeping. Now that I've done a whole sweater and have a feel for the maths involved, I can make myself my spencer-style half sweater thingie. Maybe. I went back to the museum today to look at the potential sleeves, and I realize I'm going to have to re-think how I want to do the sleeves. The ones on the museum dummy are slightly different than I remember, and I like them better than the ones I sketched lo those many months ago.

I hate rethinking. It's typically the way I screw everything up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I've been knitting!

Shocker, huh? I finally completed the Scotty Hat, based on the hat from the Star Trek movie--which you should see if you haven't yet. Lots of fun, and I adore Simon Pegg. A. Dore. Ever since I saw Shaun of the Dead. So when he popped up as Scotty in that cute hat, I just knew that someone, somewhere, would work out the pattern and make it so. My patience (heh, patience isn't the word, the movie had been out less than two weeks before the pattern popped up on the intarwebs) was rewarded and I cranked out the two panel version (not entirely movie authentic, but they've updated the pattern already to a four panel version.) I made some minor structural modifications and it works very nicely.

For firstly, I only used 330 yards of yarn, not the 380 yards called for in the two-pannel pattern. This was just a matter of how I knit and the cast on I used (a lace type of cable cast on that leaves no wasted at the tail end, which probably saved some yardage). Of course, this is all I have left of my three skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted (Blackberry):
Not much to be going on with, eh?

Then, in the decrease section, it calls for k2tog on the right side of the fabric. Being a pervy lace knitter, I find this unacceptable, as the k2tog is a right leaning decrease--leaving a series of small holes up the sides of the panel. So I changed the first of each pair of decreases to a ssk, which leans left, leaving no gaps of any kind at the edges, and my OCD was calmed. In addition, I did not use a mattress stitch seam, I kitchnered that beyatch. On the upside, my hat is truly reversable. On the downside, the kitchner instructions are now engraved on the inside of my skull. Those side seams were 85 stitches long, people. And my yarn is dark purple. I've got a migraine like you wouldn't believe right now.

The true insanity is that I'm already contemplating making one of the 4 panel version. Oy, vey.

Anyway, here's the fruit of all that labor:

Purty, ain't it? It's nice and warm, and the seams, for a beginner kitchner, are beautiful. I can't fathom why anyone would make do with a paltry mattress seam (migrain not withstanding) in the face of such beauty.

It actually even looks good with my hair:
What little of it you can see, that is. This was a very easy pattern, for all that it was my first experience with short rows and kitchner stitching, and I knocked it out in less than a week.
See the lengths I will go to for a piece of Simon Pegg and Trekkery? I really need help.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Been a while

And I ain't been doin' nothin'. Well, some things, but not much. My primary focus has been trying to figure out how I can freelance doing something I love and am good at, but since I've never had it as a job, everyone keeps telling me I won't be able to get work. However, I can't seem to get into the field as a job because I've never done it as a job, so it's a Catch-22.

Suck.

Anyway, one of the ladies from my knitting coven suggested a cat sweater knit along. Since Yoda is just that kind of a hip, timely guy, I figure he needs a sweater. I was going to go with a late '60s, early '70s color, like lime green or burnt orange, but decided on cream, on the basis that cream is always classy.

So I bought the yarn today. As Yoda has a surplus of the fluff, I decided a cotton sweater would be for the best. Wool would be too much and might itch. I got the cheap cotton from Hobby Lobby, the "I Love This Yarn" line. I introduced the concept to himself early on.


But would it make my ass look big?


I don't know, dude. I think it would be ok.


OK, I'll go with it. Hey, it's kinda nice....

Yoda loves this yarn.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I note a trend....

Of course, I'm always on here on Thursdays--I rarely come to the internets anymore; I'm not at the day job so I'm not bored, and I typically end up shopping, something unemployed women should not do--so I tend to make a post. Still, I hate being...predictable. I'm going to have to start shaking things up, I guess!


How's this for a shake-up: The 'You're Just Making This Sh!t Up' baby blanket is done! *sound of roaring crowd*


To whit:
The unfortunate thing about the blanket, aside from the fact that I knitted it, is that the stretchy nature of both the Caron Spa yarn and a loose garter stitch means the blanket can measure anything from 22" x 22" to 36" x 36", or even 18" x 22" x 28" x 36". It's hardly even and square, which is, I suppose, typical of just about anything I do. So screw it. It's done and I'm happy with it. The proud parents (who I think actually are parents of a physically independent child at this point; they weren't at church last Saturday) are under no obligation to accept the thing. It's rather nice and squishy, though, so if they don't take it I'll roll it over, seam the sides, stuff it and make a pillow.
Anne of Knitspot actually replied to my post last week, and after my vinaigrette was fetched and I was brought around from my fangurl swoon, I again pondered the wonder of knitted skirts. If you read her blog, you will note that Anne is (just like my sister, also named Anne, perhaps it's the name?) quite willowy. I, alas, am constructed more along the lines of the Venus of Willendorf (just not quite so boobtastic). Are knitted skirts only for the slim? I seem to recall from the dim recesses of memory (quite dim; this particular memory comes from a time when I was heavily depressed, and as any depressive will tell you, memory can be quite...hit or miss during the down times) that I owned a knitted skirt, and it was quite flattering and pleasing. I was also a good 50 pounds lighter at that point in my life, even though I thought I was a total whale; oh, how silly we can be!--so maybe....
Eh. I'm sure there's some construction trick that can be used. Stiffer yarn, perhaps, a tighter stitch. I will have to ponder.
Speaking of construction, I went walkabout to our local art museum yesterday and went absolutely giddy with glee when I realized a) they have a room dedicated to clothing and fiber arts now--leftovers from a prior exhibit, but still! and b) they've got a new piece in the modern art galleries that is quite...stimulating to my senses.
The fiber arts display consists of a short run of female clothing (from 1750-1990ish) and--the best part--a set of miniature dresses hanging on forms that you can touch and tinker with to see how the darn things go together. Praise Jesus I wasn't born in the late Victorian, that is some fiddly underwear, but I had an interesting idea for a short sweater/shrug item based on a certain set of sleeves I saw...actually, two sweater/shrugs. I love sleeves. I must take my camera back and get images for my notebook.
The new piece in the modern art wing is called "Moebis Ship", and it's a model ship made out of found items (popsicle sticks and the like) of a ship with a keel that is a Moebis strip. The sails all face inward and the piece is suspended from the ceiling with a rope, like a giant, toasty Lifesaver. I giggled when I saw it. I want one just like it, except my cats would probably make short work of pulling the rigging down.... Ah, well. Such is life!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is it Thursday again?

Seems we get one every week.

Yes, I'm a little punchy. I actually got a call back from one of the places I sent my resume to, and I will be dropping by on Monday to fill in an application. Oh, hell, maybe I'll go tomorrow, although I already had plans for my Friday...it will depend on what I find when I go shopping tonight. And if I remember to print my resume out today. At least I've got the paper on the printer hopper now.

I've been busy lately. The baby blanket is (mostly) done, I just want to tuck the knots up into the stitches. I knotted the yarn, yes. The thing is going into washing machines, people, and the bamboo yarn is slicker than snot. Knots were a necessity. I started a wrap from the inestimably gifted Anne Hansen of Knitspot (link to her blog, the link to her shop is top right). I am addicted to that woman's patterns. I don't buy patterns, typically, unless they come as a feature of a book/stitchionary I buy, except for hers. And it's not like I couldn't have figured out this one (I have the stitch pattern somewhere), but I was right when I decided there would be a point of interest added to make her pattern different from just the stitch. And it was only $6. I got the yarn as part of my yarn brokering deal with my creativity teacher (I buy yarn online for him and he pays me to get my own yarn so we qualify for the free shipping bit), so I deserved to splurge a little bit. (Speaking of patterns; what is the new craze on Ravelry for knitted skirts? I mean, knit wear in general is stretchy and clingy, and what woman in America feels like she has the thighs for a skirt knit in a slouchy, clingy yarn? Or, worse yet, knit with horizontal stripes/ridges/patterning? Am I just superdeduperdy insecure, or are there others who feel the way I do?)

I got my arm warmers patterned out--which amazes me, I have no graphics skillz--and actually it only took 30 minutes to reason out the pattern repeat. Shock and awe.... Now I just have to buy needles in size 3 (I think I'm going to have to cave in and use double points to get the bastard started--I have a lot of trouble with using two circulars and/or magic loop, probably because I'm stupid and don't melt my needle cables into submission with boiling water). Or maybe I won't, I'll just deal with what I've got. I don't know, really. I'm in such a tizzy over my life in general, it's hard to think ahead more than ten minutes.

Speaking of which, I really should get off here, walk the dog and get ready for my day. I'm doing my recording stint, going shopping, going out for dinner and a movie with a friend and then getting home really, really late. And my left contact is being a beyatch, clouding up, and my new contacts aren't here yet. Grrr.

That's what I get for procrastinating!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eh-yeah

That's really about all that can be said at moment. The "You're Just Making This Sh!t Up" baby blanket is stalling. Well, not really 'stalling', but it's moving very slowly. If I'd knuckle down and knit like I mean it, it would be done today, despite all the junk I still have to get done, but I'm a wussie, so it probably won't be done until tomorrow.

In typical Me fashion, I've already got the next ten or two dozen projects lined up. There's a pair of mitts patterned after some stained glass windows I know I want to get designed and realized, the shawl I started and quit on (although it's not hard, and I could probably finish it up in less than three weeks from the point where it got left), the scarf I owe my friend for her birthday last month (a month ago yesterday, actually), the scarf I want to make for my sister's birthday in June,.... It's like, as soon as I choose a project to work on, everything else I ever thought about comes crushing into my skull, clamoring for attention. I think I need to get out of the house more.

I've also discovered that going on diets makes me crave donuts (and I don't even like donuts), so I've given up on diets at this time. I will simply have to find another way around the issue. Thankfully, this time I did not gain another 20 pounds (like the last time I tried it.) In fact, I've lost 3 pounds since quitting and have gone back to craving sensible things like bell peppers and tomatoes (mmm, tomatoes). I'm pretty sure that's the water drinking--stuff yourself with water and you can't fit the cookies in. Anyway, even if it was the diet, I can't take the anxiety it provokes. I'll have to out-think myself. Oooh, it's almost like a game of "Survivor" in my head....

The weather this weekend seems to be looking up, which is good. I typically enjoy rainy, cloudy weather, but when it's also cold it gets to be a bit of a drag. Plus, we haven't had enough bright, warm, obnoxiously sunny days for me to really enjoy the gloom (I need a balance, you see). I think I will have to take myself off to the art museum tomorrow, maybe take the dog to the park tonight between my volunteer obligation and something I promised Nieceling I would do. I need to get out, to get away with myself before I do something drastic, such as take a vacation I can't afford at this time (like, I've again been thinking about taking a long weekend in Key West so I can see the Mel Fisher museum).

It's a sickness. A sickness, I tell you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Losing focus and life with Wheezy

Since Elvis was diagnosed with the asthma (and who the hell would anticipate a cat getting asthma? I mean, seriously, now), I've been having trouble with my sleep patterns again. Something about the occasional fit of wheezing that breaks out at anything from 1 am to 3 (peak sleeping time for me, I confess) in the vicinity of my right ear, I suppose. The meds are doing him good--why, he's down to minor wheezing and not the sort that sounds as if he's trying to bring up his lungs, but I have to get myself back on track, get my life back on a semblance of a schedule, in order to get myself back on track with my goals. I've also discovered that, just because I can drink soda again, doesn't mean I should. I've developed a caffeine twitch (left eyelid, it's annoying, particularly with my contacts in) and heartburn that just won't quit. So I'm currently punishing myself with water. Blech. But it seems to be helping with the heartburn, so I'm not going to complain too loudly.

This morning I was feeling guilty because I've lost my focus (I won't tell you how long it's been since last I sat and wrote; that alone is enough to make me want to whip myself with knotted cords), when I realized, that's just how life goes. It's a constant process of setting a goal, finding your focus and then resetting your course when you drift. Life isn't...isn't like the mechanical rabbits at the dog track, your feet locked into a mechanized track that is so very linear in that you can't deviate from it but simply go around and around and around from point A to point B in some endless frenzy of productivity. It's much more like sailing, you drift, the breeze drops, you tack against the currents and wind, sometimes you see something to the side of your course that's interesting so you jog on over to have a look-see, but eventually, if you keep to the general course, you'll get where you're going in good time. There's no real lines to keep yourself between (at least not on the open sea; if you have experienced something different in any ocean in the world, please take a picture), so it's what you make of it and how you choose to get where you're going.

It's sort of the 80/20 rule (it's what you do 80% of the time that makes the most difference, the other 20 is just deviation that makes life interesting.) I never would have thought this would give me such troubles, seeing as I'm about as concrete in thought as your average bowl of jello, and the ocean-going goal attainment style sounds much more pleasant to me than a dog track, but I put it down to how I learned to set goals and attain them. I am not concrete of thought, but my sister is fairly linear and direct, and she is the one who taught me goal setting skills. Apparently, her style is not appropriate for me. Alas, she seems far better at meeting her goals than I ever have been.... Anyway, so I'm trying to overlay concrete goal setting skills onto jello-type thinking, which is a recipe for disaster. Not only does the jello resent being forced into attempting to imitate concrete, it's not very good at it, leading to all sorts of badly mushed and mangled attemps at goal attainment. No wonder I'm so negative when it comes to goal attainment, I've been going about the whole thing all wrong! It's not my anyone's fault, really, most of humanity is all about concrete style goal setting/attainment. I wonder if there's a book at the library about how to set goals when you're more jello than ReadyCrete....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Baff Time

I've been gone a while. Not much new is going on. I'm just keeping on keepin' on, if you know what I'm saying.

Well, and giving someone a good wash behind the ears.


Awww, come on! It wasn't hardly a lot of stinky.


Oh, all right. Maybe it was stinky.



Not really any cause for the whole bath thing, though. I still say you were out of line with the scrubby bit.

Completely.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ohio pirates and the such

I'm feeling quite proud of myself; I've managed now to keep up the habit of writing each morning (for at least one hour and occasionally up to four--very occasionally) for almost a full week. I've also managed to keep myself on a semblance of a schedule, waking at or around 7 am each morning and going for a walk before settling in for the day. Go me!

I've managed to keep this up, despite taking the weekend off (which I've already decided I probably will do anyway, just to give the weeks some sort of shape) to visit my friend S, who lives in Ohio. I visit her at least three or four times a year. It's been a while since last I was there, so it's always a pleasant respite to get out for a weekend of fresh air and new scenery.

This weekend, we played games with some friends when I arrived Friday night (and it's ever so nice to have the whole of Friday to travel--I get there much earlier and less frazzled that way), then Saturday we went to see Twilight and visited a park to take a nice, long walk. We also did some mall shopping, but that's neither here nor there, as that was the least interesting part of the trip. I perked up when we went to Half Price Books, but only because I'm a total book hoor, and I was certain we'd be tossed out of the theater for laughing so hard as we did at Twilight. I can't help it; sparkly vampires. What will they think of next? Sunday saw us in another park, just outside Yellow Springs, Ohio, along the Miami River. I found the perfect little nook in the river for the pirates to moor up.

I have another picture that shows the gap from straight on, and the land slopes up to the ridge above the river. Lots of interesting places to plop a small cabin in which to sleep and count your pirate booty, argh. Well, such as booty might be on the Miami, but hey. We all do what we can to get by.

We had ice cream (yeah, I know, it was cold, but hey, I don't get out much) and then dinner and played a round of Carcassone, which is a totally fun game. S's cat kept pretending to be Catzilla, terrorizing our thieves, knights, farmers and monks, but she never really messed up the lay of the land, so to speak. We built some very suspiciously shaped towns, and then peppered the countryside around them with monasteries to off-set the naughtiness of our fortifications.

There were quite a few touches of the Japanese aesthetic in the two parks we visited this weekend. I never thought of Ohio as a bastion of Eastern Philosophy, but there you go. You just never can tell, I guess. F'rinstance, this bridge with willow, reflecting calmly in the pool of water.

Branches of willow,
Green against a bright blue sky,
Fronds of springtime joy.

Sorry for the craptacular haiku. I suffer delusions of poetry.
There was something about the arrangment of tree and stone in the middle of the river that looked vaguely like calligraphy. I hope it's not saying anything unpleasant, although it was such a pretty day, I'm not sure how it could have been.

A little lamp tucked up next to a bench. Very pretty.
I feel quite rested and relaxed. I think the little holiday has done me some good. I think I've also gotten some good done by checking my unemployment website today and finding that a) they simply refused my first application (the one I screwed up), as I'd applied during my 'waiting week' (ie, the week I got my last severance check). No ramifications, just a quiet no. Le sigh. and b) my application completed last week for the week prior (the week after the severance ran out) was approved. Now I'm just waiting for the debit card--we no longer do checks. That's just so 1995, I guess.
Anyway. I feel better. At least they won't be dragging me off to interrogate me about being such a dumbarse I can't fill in the applications properly!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Celebrations

Last night, I got myself a pizza (did you know Mystic Pizza makes frozen pies? I didn't either--but they're very good) and a chocolate torte (made in France, oooh la la) and threw myself a pity party. I should do it much more often.

I've been staying away from home at my sister's house, watching her cats as she gambles away some vacation time in Vegas. I'm also taking care of one of her neighbor's cat as well--cute little blighter. Bites, though. As I'm away from home this weekend, and I had a time trying to figure out how to file for my weekly unemployment (which I did for the first time this week) and getting it wrong, which is criminal on the part of my state government, making the form so damn confusing, and everything just came crashing down and I had a nice, soppy breakdown in my car. My eyes are still a little swollen and I'll need to pull out a new pair of contacts (question: why do my contacts get all fuzzy after I've been crying? You'd think they'd be manufactured to stand up to a few tears, since all they are is saline), but I do feel better. I knew I'd been feeling a bit...numb for the past two months, and I was way overdue for the cry. Oh, not because I miss that job, no, getting pink slipped was the best way out of the gig for me, but because I miss having a job. Having somewhere to be, even if they resented me for being there. Feeling like a productive member of society, if only in a way I resent.

Now, to clarify, it's possible to be a productive member of society and work for yourself/at home/part time/for your family. I'm talking, I never do anything anymore. For the past two months I've been sitting like a lump in my chair, knitting on things I never finish and reading books. Probably a healing process, but not what I'd call 'contributing to society', except as it kept me off the streets and out of trouble.

If possible, I'm getting tired of being a slacker. Holy Jesus, I need medication; I'm bored of doing nothing! How is this possible? I guess I just needed the time to rest up and recover from the psychic damage done by my entire work history, time to get my head around the thought of "work keeps you from feeling at loose ends, allows you to feel a part of something, connected to the world at large" as opposed to "work is something you do because you have to, even though you hate it". Not that I'm going to go all Ghandi or anything, but there's much to be said about working as a means to connect with humanity, even if you're a hermit and all you do is pray, you're praying for others and/or the world, which is connecting with humanity. Sorta.

So last night, after my Pity Party, during the lame ghost hunter show that comes on before Most Haunted on Travel Channel, I curled up on my sister's couch and read the first three letters from Rainer Maria Rilke aloud to myself. And I realized that, even though I suck at it, even though I'll probably never share it with anyone, I have to take up my writing again. I have to man up and be my authentic self (if only with myself), and tell stories again. And I have to take it seriously, if I'm to take myself seriously. The fact that I so disrespect my writing practice is a reflection of how little I really respect myself, which is sad.

So on Tuesday, I start my new schedule. I'll have to set my alarm, get up a bit earlier than I have been, eat, get my morning walk, then sit to the computer. Even if I can't come up with something on my pre-started stories, I'll force myself to brainstorm, write ahead of myself, word doodle, whatever, just to get into the habit again. I'm shooting for four hours a day, but that is just the ideal. I know things will get in the way (for instance, I have two vets' appointments this week, one for the cat, one for Dog), but I must be more...respectful of my needs. I need to tell stories, I need to express my creativity, and by not taking time for it, I'm openly stating to the world that my needs are not important.

And that's just wrong. In all ways, just plain wrong.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good grief.

I hate my computer. There's some setting that constantly flips it to off network, usually after I've got a huge post already typed up and ready to submit. Sigh.

I will take a leaf from Dog's How To Release Anxiety Book:

Enjoy a calming scent.

Not pig ear for me. They smell like dead things. This does not seem to concern Dog, however. I guess he likes the smell of putrefied dead things. Hmm. Must be his scavenger nature.

In addition to many, many things I dare not write about now, for fear of the dreaded Network Cut-Off, I managed to get in a weaving lesson.

It's very springy. I wasn't sure how I would like the yellow warp (not being a yellow person myself, although in the definition of "Irony" I wore a daffodil yellow shirt to my lesson) but I find it quite appealing. I've been wearing it around for the past three days. It's comfy and warm, but doesn't feel at all noose-like or confining. I'm pleased.

Here's a close up of the colored weft (spot dyed Tussah Silk, oooh). It's much more shiny than this picture seems to show, which is a shame. It's got a nice gleam. The weave is a little...rough, dare I say "rustic", but for a first effort, it's not bad at all.

Dog consented to model for me. Doesn't he look thrilled?

In a striking turn of events, I've been invited to a second baby shower this year as myself. By 'as myself', I mean not as 'Aunt T's daughter, you know, the younger one'. This is quite unusual for me. At a time when most women are beyond the "first baby" stage, I'm getting invited to showers. I feel honored.
Also in a rather dimwitted turn of events, I've decided to knit something for the baby. I'm using Caron's Spa Yarn (acrylic/bamboo blend), which is very pretty, incredibly soft, and, on the needle I'm using, nicely squishy. I'm calling it (preliminarily) the "Now You're Just Making This Sh*t Up" blanket, mostly because I hear that all the time (usually when I'm not making it up), and I am, well, making it up as I go along. I'm about a quarter of the way done and the shower is Saturday afternoon. Good thing I'm unemployed, eh?
Here's an image of the start:
I chose the colors at random from the options offered. Since I know the baby is a boy, pastel pink and lilac didn't seem appropriate. I like the yellow, it's nice and sunny. Bamboo, as anyone who's ever bothered with it, is soft as snot, and has a nice, fresh smell (that only I seem able to smell; I'm not sure why or what it means, but I'll roll with it for now.) Anti-microbial, too, which is always handy on baby things.
In other-other news, Nieceling is getting confirmed this spring and has asked me to be her sponsor. Heh. I've warped her for sure and certain, and now I'm going to take metaphorical "responsibility" for her spiritual growth. Poor lass. And she was doing so well, up to this point....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, a day late and dollar short.

Happy Valentine's Day. Just because.

In past, I've not been wild about celebrating, being a cynical, bitter female who's never had a Valentine (hard to believe, I know, but if you time things just so, it's possible), but I finally decided to make the day my own. I send cards to my friends, Nieceling and Nephew and give myself chocolate. Or something. I was going to give myself weaving lessons this Valentine's Day, but traffic got in my way. Maybe I'll use it to justify giving myself a new outfit and shoes, instead.

I've been markedly unproductive of late. Reading, reading, reading, knitting a little, but not a lot. Sleeping, yes. Got a call from a former co-worker, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I like my former coworkers, yes, and it was good to hear from him, but it felt strange to talk about things not complaints about our mutual job. In any case, he seems far more cheerful than he ever was at work, so I suppose the forced downtime is doing him as much good as me. Maybe I'll see if he wants to get together for coffee sometime, or perhaps visit the art museum. I need the inspiration.

Tomorrow I go to check out a medical transcription school. I'm really uncertain about this. A friend turned me onto the prospect (it's what she does), and it's probably the only medical field job I could tolerate for any length of time. Since medical is the only growing employment field at the present, it's not too bad of an idea. And it's an opportunity to work for myself--set my own schedule and all. Which is quite seductive, if truth be told. I'm liking not having to punch anyone's clock aside from my own. And I'd be completely mobile--if I'm working over the internets, I can live anywhere and keep the same job. REALLY seductive!

In any case, I have been slowly cleaning junk up (my computer, primarily) and was pleasantly surprised when I took a short break to write again. It's been a while since I've had an idea, although this is an older one (a dream I'd had at one point) that initially got added to and then started, abandoned, and now I've gone back and cleaned it all up to where I first started. I've still got the other version(s), but I think I'll ignore them. I also pulled up the last story I began, which was still quite a while ago, and re-read it. I think I'll make a go at that one, too. I like to have several stories running at once, just as I read three books at a time--one to cover all moods.

Yes, I have a short attention span. Sue me.

It felt good to write again. Searching for the words, trying to paint pictures through letters alone, all of it. I really need to get myself back into the habit. If I challenge myself to write each day, even if it's only a sentence, maybe. Just maybe.

If nothing else, it's good mental hygiene.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Running naked in the rain

I was speaking to someone today who reminded me that I once said something along the lines of 'If I could only lose this job, I would ____.' She reminded me of all the things I had talked about, all the possibilities, all the things I am now free to pursue. It all came rushing back at that moment, the rush of giddy excitement I first felt when called into the Firing Room. I'm free.

Heady stuff. And not something that I'm really ready to explore. Not yet. I've still got some rather toxic mental sludge left over from this job that I've got to slough off. There's a part of me that keeps thinking (foolishly) that I'm merely on vacation, I'll wind up back in that breezy, ancient house again, sitting at that desk, slogging through endless emails. A part of me that, when asked what do you do, wants to reply with '[insert job title here], at [insert former place of employment here],' instead of 'nothing at the moment.'

It was suggested that I might want to meet with some of my former co-workers--both those who won the Pink Slip Lotto and those who lost it--in order to speed the processing of the situation. This feels like it might be a good idea. Maybe if I get to see those people outside the confines of the fishbowl in which we worked, I can get better at seeing myself as someone who doesn't work there, who works nowhere at the moment, who is simply Citizen Me.

I liked my coworkers. Even the ones who made me want to throw shoes at their heads (perhaps particularly the ones who aggravated me to such levels). Maybe if I get used to seeing humans as people I know as opposed to people I work with/people I don't, maybe I can clear out a little of the sludge.

And then, once the sludge is either removed or contained (and the edges of the spill marked for caution), I can decide what to do with my liberty. Perhaps I can even come to terms with what I love, what I most enjoy. Right now, I'm attempting something new; I'm following my heart wherever it leads. For someone like me, who has always been led by her head, it's a strange, new path. Right now, my heart says Wait. See what will come. Taste lightly, touch softly, enjoy greatly and wait. All will be made clear in time.

It's an exercise in both patience and profound trust with/in myself, and those are two things I've never really excelled at. Eh. New year, new way of being. I will try this trusting thing. It's not like the other way really ever got me anywhere.

Who knows? I might be pleasantly surprised. Wherever I end up.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Knitalong progress

I've been being lazy--doing some thinking, getting out and walking and just putzing around to no purpose. Everyone around me has been panicked about my lack of employment, but I'm still calm. I begin to wonder if I'm losing my mind.

Anyway, with no further ado:

Ta-daaa! This is probably the farthest I've ever gotten on an actual shawl. I feel oddly proud of myself. Ain't it purdy?

Anyway. I suppose I should get off my bum next week and spend the evenings (if nothing else) in my job search. If I promise to myself that I'm going to work at it for two hours a day, maybe I'll actually work at it for, you know, two hours a day.

I just wish I cared a little more!