Friday, December 31, 2010

Just trying to keep out of trouble for the rest of the year.

Oh, come on! I couldn't let the opportunity to make one of those lame, "next year" New Year's jokes, could I? The chance only rolls around every 365/6 days, after all.

I've done all the stuff that needs done this morning--finished my work, went out and got yarn, actually managed to work in my walk and breakfast, too--so now I'm just sitting back, eating a rather tardy lunch and trying to decide what I want to do with my afternoon and evening.

I'll most likely cast on for the second hat for my aunt with my Great American Yarns Superfine Merino. I need to get that hat done (I'm going with The Flower Bud Beanie, because it's made of all kinds of awesome and topped with awesomesauce), and no time like the present, I say. It's a nice symbolism, too--a hat straddling the new year/decade line--and good symbolism never hurts.

I can also start on the Thorin's Hooded Cowl project I mentioned yesterday because I got my yarn:

Royal Alpaca, from Aslan Trends. Look at that glow. I'm glad I got the gift card from my sister for Christmas, because this is way nicer yarn than I could have afforded on my own for that pattern, I really, really want to knit the pattern and I needed something high end to use.

I've got such sensitive skin on the nape of my neck, I cannot tolerate anything less soft than silk or alpaca against it. I'm not trying to brag or anything; it really gives me the collywobbles to have anything scratchier than that on my neck. The only scarf I can wear for any length of time is my silk corkscrew scarf. Before the silk scarf, I would have said I just don't wear scarves. Now I know it's just wool/acrylic/other fibers I don't wear on my neck.

Here's another shot, just for pure, alpaca-y juice:

Me, hugging my yarn. How fitting for the last picture on this blog for 2010!

Happy New Calender Year to all, and may you find many opportunities to hug you up some stash!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I learned something today.

I tend to procrastinate longer than whatever I'm procrastinating about would take to just do and get over with.

That's counterproductive, right there. I should, maybe, you know, learn something from it.

And, in the good news department, I realized this past week that of the purported 52 Monday nights of 2010 on which I could attend knit night, I made my goal of 50!!!! *throws confetti* *the real kind with almonds in, not the cheap paper sort*

The only two I missed, I was on a cruise. Cry for me, people, cry for me.

Why, yes I do feel good about that accomplishment. I don't get out enough, and at least I can say I socialized this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I have too many toys.

I have too many toys. Too, too much stash. I've been toying (heh) with the idea of doing a yarn diet, but I'm not sure that will totally help, if you know what I mean. I'll still need the occasional yarn fix for mental health, and I am about as monogamous to my knitting projects as Tiger Woods. I'd go insane.

Soooo, I think what I'll do is, starting on the 1st, open the stashtainer, send someone in with a snorkel and have them choose a yarn. Whatever they choose, I must knit up. When that yarn is knitted, send in another diver and repeat as needed.

Really, they can't pick a loser. Here's a selection:

No matter what they pull out of the box, it's going to be fun, no?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's progress!

I'm very proud of myself. Well, not really, but then I always did have unreasonable expectations of myself. So you could say there's a part of me that's very proud and a part of me that's not so much proud as...waiting, impatiently with toes tapping, for me to catch up to the expectations.

I've been working this week. Oh, it's only Tuesday and I've only gotten my research done and gotten myself ready to write, but it's more than I've done for ages. The best part is I don't really need to be working this week--I've budgeted so that I can start next week and make my obligations. However, I really, really, really want to take advantage of a sale going on with the local symphony orchestra next week without damaging my savings, so I'm writing enough articles that I won't have to dip (and will actually be able to bank some of it.) I should give myself a cookie for being so good, you know? I've also started work on another fiction project--this time to see if the software I got for the cheap this past year actually works as a writing tool. I tried using it before, but I used it on an old story idea. I had a bright, shiny, new idea come to me last week (in a nightmare--I find them the most inspirational ideas) that I thought would make an idea guinea pig for my project.I wonder if the program will work better because I've not fully fleshed out my story in my head yet--there are logistical details and characters still showing up at this point--or if I'm just not novel-length writer material. I'm going to put this under the heading of "oh, now we're going to see what she can really do", and just roll with it.

Anyway, I got started on that, too. I've made progress--not a lot, but it's progress. I'd guess I spent about three hours actually working yesterday (between the articles and the new project.) Of course, my critical side is saying if I were a real writer, I'd have all four articles done and half the novel, too, and it'd be much better than what's in the computer right now. I'm considering telling my critical side to get stuffed. It's such a pain in the left butt cheek sometimes, you know?

So, aside from the writing hysteria going down, I've also caught a cold. I'm not really whining (this one isn't anywhere near as bad as the one I had the first two months of the summer), I'm just explaining. Drippy nose, taking a nap every three hours because my eyes start to cross if I don't...yeah. It's been like that. The fact that I'm upright and functioning (when there really isn't a major call for me to be) is amazing. Cookies, hell, I should give myself some credit. I've never been good at doing things that needed doing without there being a sharp, pointy stick pointed at my backside; two projects voluntarily started in one day, when I'm dripping and aching and sleepy? Yeah. That's progress.

And the finish of my one and only Christmas knitting project has me thinking about what I'd like to tackle next, knitting wise. I mean, my stash is huge. I've got miles and miles and miles of luxury yarns available to suit my every knitting whim. I've even got a mile or two of absolute crap yarn available to me. The I go for the sweater I keep promising myself I'm going to knit, or a shawl--which is what I've wanted to knit since I first picked up needles and was the real reason I got into the craft to begin? Cast on a new project, finish up some UFOs that are languishing in the Cedar Chest of Yarny Goodness so I can have the needles back, or frog the bastards, take the needles and start something new anyway?

See what I mean? Decisions.

I think, I think, I think... I think I'll do a Multnomah, extra large, in either this:

Or this:

both of which I have in sufficient quantity to make two of the pattern as written. Or I could use neither, find another project that will use all the yarn as written, or make one up on my own.

Gah. See what I mean? Decisions.

I'm going to go make myself some soup now. Chicken sausage, leeks, potatoes and some baby carrots. I'll let you know if it pays off.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Both mine and for others.

I had a very nice Christmas this year. I had to be at home because of a commitment in another quarter, so I didn't get to go down to my sister in law's family homestead like most of the family (who still aren't back yet.) It was just me, my mother and father and my aunt, who also couldn't go down to my sister in law's parent's house for work reasons. Number Two brother (not the married one) and my sister came over before they went down to the in law's, but they didn't stay to eat. After they left it was very quiet; the four of us ate our Christmas Dinner (ham, broccoli casserole, corn casserole, mac 'n cheese--which has somehow become a big part of our family holidays--and chocolate for afters), watched the Mythbusters marathon and the last half of A Christmas Carol (at my dad's request, but it wasn't his favorite version so we didn't have to watch it in reverent silence). Then I went to church (I was the only one of our three cantors who could do it), came home, changed into my bendy clothes (aka, comfy loungewear) and am now hanging out on the internet, waiting patiently (sorta) for the Doctor Who Christmas Special to air at 9pm. Overall, a very nice day. Quiet, peaceful, calm. No running around like a nervous chicken, no trying frantically to get everyone in one place.

Sigh. Lovely.

Anyway, pressies:

I made this lovely Spam cozy for my brother. It's a very long story, but suffice to say we have a familial can of Spam that circulates around the family on gift giving occasions, and it started with Number One Brother (the married one, if you need a score card.) I also put a present in there in the form of a gift card from Best Buy, so don't feel like he's being neglected or anything.

Below is my haul:

I got, from my parents: my stitch markers (better photo below, no worries), my subscription to Piecework Magazine renewed for two years (whoohooo! I have a weird vintage craft fetish), some slippers, a red sweater (not pictured as I didn't knit it) and a mild talking to when I told them I got my sparkly shoes. Hey, they're hard to hide and when I wear them out of the house at some point, they're going to complain. Might as well get it over with now.

 From my sister, I got a Mini Buddha Board (which is so cool, it hurts to look at), a Lantern Moon sheep-shaped measuring tape and a huge gift card for one of the local yarn stores. Not my LYS, because it's a bit far for me to drive just for yarn, but a LYS nonetheless. Considering how much I've got to spend on yarn there now, I think I will find my way to the shop very soon.

Aren't they cute?

Those are my lovely stitch markers, the ones I bought on Etsy that are Doctor Who themed. And the sheep. I think I'll name him Neville.

Here are my slippers:

They are quite warm. And squishy, which is important in a slipper, I feel.

I also got a free pattern on Ravelry as a random present. The designer was feeling generous on Christmas Eve and 'bought' her own patterns for random people on the boards. I got a shawl/scarf pattern called Snow Scallops (don't know if that Ravelry link will work with a picture; if not I'll try again later.) I had looked at it briefly last week, but since it cost and I have no paper representation of work value to trade for it, I let it go by. It was a nice present, actually. I felt all squishy warm inside when it showed up--even if I'd hated the pattern, I'd have knit it, just because. But I do like it, and my aunt (who saw it today when I showed her my cool stitch markers) wants the shawl version.

And this just in: Apparently, my sister in law's sister had a present for me, as well. I see a thank you note to her will be in my immediate future. She gave me a bag of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee and a gift card, but the best part of the gift was the bag.

Yeah, it's my name. Actually, it's my family's nickname for me, and I don't like it. Very few are given permission to use it and most of them are under the age of 18. If you must shorten my proper name, call me Kate.

Ahem, anyways. The bag was made by my sister in law's sister's son (golly, it gets hard when I don't use names), Nieceling's Cousin. NC is...about 8 or so, maybe a bit younger, and he can bedazzle a gift bag like nobody's business. I'm going to have to find a hook somewhere to hang this bag as a nameplate. It's sparkly, me likey. Even if it does have that version of my name on it.

Never fear, Dog wasn't left out either:

His aunty brought him a present, too. She handed it to me, saying she wasn't sure of his religious affiliation, so she got the Gefilte fish just in case he was Jewish. I reassured her he was Pagan, but would appreciate the toy all the same. I'm a bit worried it's a bit...well, rude--you squeeze it (or bite it firmly midbeam) and it says "Oy, vey!" followed by bubbling noises. Dog doesn't like when it talks, but he finds it handy:

Merry Christmas, y'all. I hope Santa brought you lots of nice things, and I hope you got to spend some time with someone or something you love. 

The kids are coming for their presents, I have an open bottle of blackberry wine in the fridge, and it's less than two hours to WhoTime. God bless us, every one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I know it's not terribly PC, but....

 Merry Christmas. Or a joyous Whatever You Celebrate. And a prosperous and healthy New Year in which your every (good) desire comes true.

I just wanted to make sure I got you all in there and no one felt left out. :-)

Monday, December 20, 2010

OK, so the surprise is...delayed.

I had planned on releasing my second knitting pattern today, but life got a bit insane this week and I've not done a ton of knitting. Next week I will post it, I promise. In the meantime, I've done other things; let me tell you what.

I managed to get myself a set of stitch markers for the holiday that I wanted. I belong to a Ravelry group with LadyDanio and she posted the entirety of her Doctor Who themed stitch marker line. As I've only just finished the majority of my holiday shopping this morning, I am straight out of blunt, so to speak. The emotional pain (Donna Noble is my favorite companion! J'adore Donna!) of being unable to afford them myself prompted me to ask my mother if she had, by the bye, finished shopping for me. From the first sentence of this paragraph, I'm sure you can figure out that she hadn't. Ten minutes later, the stitch markers were mine, bwhaahahahahahaahhaaa! *cough, cough*

Evil laughter has drawbacks.

For secondly, I got myself a Christmas present.

Do you see it there, all tangled in my Infinite Scarf?

There's a proper view. Squeeeee! Sparkly shoes!
I'm not really a girly girl, but I saw these shoes in a shop window a couple of months ago at the local mall and they made me so giddy stooopid happy, I wanted them instantly. I kept going back to visit them, once going so far as to try them on (in the black model--a very secret agent sexy shoe, I must say). Then last week, I managed to get my car's cd player working again (thanks to the rather skillful use of one of the discount cards on my keychain), so the gift I was going to get myself--a new car stereo--became unnecessary. The $80 I had planned to spend went back into the pot marked "Gift To Me For Christmas". And the shoes swum back out of my memory banks, glimmering softly in the shadows of my mind like shiny little piranhas, flashing here and there and then swimming back out of sight when my common sense appeared and opined, "We don't need a pair of $90 shoes! They're totally impractical! We don't even wear heels, much less 4" stiletto heels!" I considered buying them, but in black, a far more sensible color and...well, less visible. Less obviously frivolous. More wearable and less noticeable for a non-social butterfly like myself.

Then I came to myself and realized Who buys 4" platform stilettos in a 'sensible' color? Who buys them with the intent of fading into the background? I'll be six feet tall in those shoes; they could be invisible and people are still going to notice me.

Then I thought of my niece. When she was younger, she had a pair of red sparkly shoes which she loved so much she slept in them (hers were flats, she was all of three when she had them) and I recall thinking at the time, They didn't have these when I was growing up--all we had were patent leather shoes. Yet another thing I lost out on because I'm old! And suddenly, before me, grown up sparkly shoes! How could I ever resist the lure?

So I took my sparkle fetish back to the shoe store, held my breath, pointed at the gold ones and took them home (on sale! They were on sale! $10 off. Still, it's a sale!) Absolutely impractical, absolutely flashier than anything I've ever owned and utterly, completely mental. I've worn them out twice already, which is more than I can say for any other pair of shoes I've owned, other than my tennis shoes and boots. I find them easier to walk in than standard high heels. Granted, you're limited to a rather stately pace, but because of the way the soles are curved, you can't bring your weight down on the heel first; a stride that creates the rather noticeable 'clomp' most women have in high heels. You have to sort of flutter across the floor on your toes--a far more graceful way to deal with heels. Tonight I wore them at knit night and felt a bit like Morticia Addams scuttering around slowly. They also encourage better back posture in me because leaning even slightly to either side results in severe loss of balance. Those heels are very unforgiving, as they only function as gold-foiled kickstands. Actually, considering the build of the shoes, I'm only glad for them when I stop and stand. While walking, they are terribly in the way.

Twice I fell into giggles over the shoes and the walk. I was being graceful. *snicker*

I've been told the shoes are symbolic of my taking back my power (the image of stilettos as 'power heels') and asserting my dominance. Which may be true--either that or they've possessed my mind. I actually came out of the stationery cupboard with my family (granted, on FaceBook) two days after I bought them. I told my family I was freelance writing on purpose, I knew what I was doing and had a plan. I expressed my frustration at my own inability to be honest when pressured, and my desire to let them know so I could take the credit for my hard work instead of having them think it was dumb luck. My family will flip out because they're very traditional, and someone like me (ie, the baby of the family) needs a boss to keep me in line and make sure I get a paycheck. According to them, I'm far too frivolous (oh, if they only knew about the shoes) to take care of myself, I need a minder. But I've put them on notice that I am not incompetent, I know what I'm doing and I'm going to do it whether they like it or not. I've never enforced my will like that before with the family--not even in writing. The shoes, they are doing something to me.Or, perhaps it's more accurate to say, something in me has changed so I bought the shoes and expressed myself to my family.

Perhaps the shoes are just a sign that my inner Wild Child is becoming stronger, more integrated with my outer Sensible Side. My Wild Child is, after all, the one who wants to be a writer. And the shoes are particularly suited to her. They've got the power image, yes, but they're gold sparkly. Like Nieceling's old shoes. A bit of professional aggro coupled with a hysterically amused toddler.

Either way, they're so very, very fun.

My shoes and the stationery cupboard issue and the stating my purpose aloud have all been big things for me this week. I've also been trying to brainstorm some ideas for writing. I know how much I have to write for Demand Studios to make my monthly bills (one a day, Monday through Friday, every week), and that's hardly enough to keep me busy. It will, however, free me up to take some risks. And suddenly, with some four inch, gold sparkled platforms under my feet, I find I don't mind risky. I'm starting to find risky a bit sexier than I ever have before, despite the fact that my material situation hasn't changed. Considering I never gave half a tinker's damn about any job I've ever held before, I get the feeling that I have absolutely no idea precisely what I'm capable of doing, but I'm about to find out, and that's a very, very thrilling idea.

I blame the shoes. :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big post coming up!

I'm getting brave. Sorta. Well, ok, brave for me. I'll have to come and post about it.But not until Monday. I have some pictures to post, but they will not be taken until Monday (you'll understand why they're special when you see them.)

I hate to be a tease (total lie), but I wanted to check in and just let y'all know I'm thinking about you and planning a Christmas/Yule/Festivus/Hannukah surprise. Winter Holiday surprise?

There's got to be a better way to express that....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I know I promised not to buy yarn.

Let me reassure you, I kept my promise. Really, I did. This yarn:

And this yarn:

Were totally and completely free. To me. :-)

My knit coven had our holiday party last night, at one of the group's home. The evening involved a nice nosh, some light tipple (my own contribution: blackberry mead, yummmm) and lots of yarn getting flashed around. A few of us brought some excess to trade. I've trimmed my own stash down lately, so I had none I wanted shot of at present, but saw instead these lovelies to bring home with me, along with 11 of their friends (I've now got five in the blue and eight in the green).

Now the question becomes what does one do with over 1,000 yards of color co-ordinated yarn in DK weight? It's lovely, yes, but I'm not entirely sure what to do with it, if you see. This is my biggest problem, really: I buy (or acquire by other means fair) yarn without having a plan for it. I buy on the strength of the yarn's potential to please me when knit. I buy the yarn, not the project. 

Which leads to my having a stashtainer full of lovely yarns with out a darn thing planned for any of it. Not a jot. And I love it. As far as I'm concerned, that's the best part of knitting--the yarn, the potential of the yarn's becoming what it will be, the slide show of possibilities when I look at the yarn. That's the most seductive part of the enterprise. 

And that particular philosophy explains, I think, the larger part of my own issues with my life. I'm so caught up in the potential that I never bother with actually making any of it real. Because the potential is so intoxicating! Reality just can't possibly compare.

Maybe that's why I'm procrastinating on getting some work done this week that I need to do. I have a lot of stuff that needs doing and no desire to do any of it--it's no longer potential, it's reality. How banal. 
If only the real world was as interesting as the worlds inside my own head!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hat's away!

My aunt seemed quite excited to get her hat. She and my uncle swung by for a visit on Friday afternoon, after her radiation therapy session. I have to say, she looks very good for the strife she's going through. I have a feeling she'll recover from this.

Anyway, she loved her hat. I'd have gotten a picture of her wearing it for the blog (her hair hasn't yet fallen out; the doctors say she's got a week more with it if it's going to fall out) but didn't, because I wouldn't want a picture of myself on some knit blog an hour after I'd been through radiation therapy. Not that she looked bad or anything, but it's the principle of the thing.

So Hat #1 is off to the races, and I'm trying to choose a pattern for Hat #2. I have got a second skein of yarn for a hat for her.

Great American Yarns Supahfiiiiine Merino/Silk blend. Worsted weight, 143 yards a pop. I let my aunt feel the yarn (to make sure it wasn't too merino for her; it's going on her head, after all) and she approved. So, now, to find a pattern....

I'd like to find a hat with a lacy pattern that's reminiscent of wings or feathers, but I'm feeling no love from Ravelry on this subject.

Anyone got a suggestion? Comments are always open!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Don't know why I'm posting...

other than I'm bored and don't want to do what I have to do this evening before I go toddlersit.

So, anyway. I'm test-knitting a new pattern for a version of the fingerless mitts Hermione wears in HP7.1. I'm using this yarn:

Yeah, it's clown barf. But it's pretty clown barf, and that's why I chose it.

I haven't started yet, but will either tonight or tomorrow. I just hate the casting on bit. I mean, I don't mind knitting (ask me again about my Infinity Scarf; the one I've been knitting since Adams was in the White House. The Elder Adams.) I don't mind casting off and enjoying the knit wear. I just hate, loathe and despise the casting on.

Silly, really. You can't knit until you cast on, can you? No, really, you can't, unless you've figured out some way to magic your stitches onto the needles.

Gah. Just. 96 stitches. I really need to grow up.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I did it! Well, one of my 'it's, anyway.

I did it! I did it! I did it, hoooray! Sorry, just feelin' my Dora the Explorer there for a second.


Lo! It is a hat. 

It even:

 Fits. Sorta. I don't think this picture looks right at all, but maybe that's because I don't look quite right. At least the bags under my eyes have mostly retreated (until next allergy season.)

Hey, I own my vain.

And look what the hat did:
Despite me, it actually did the flower thing on top! I will confess, there were some swears said over this hat, a few hysterical moments when I nearly lost control of my DPNs and a dropped stitch recovered ably by one of my knit coven, but on the whole, it wasn't that bad a pattern (until the decreases).

The finished object is worth the swears.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Scared, scared, scared.

Augh! Too many scary things going on in my life right now! Existential angst, gauge drama (or should I say gauge trauma), and to top it all off, I'm not sleeping at home, which means my back is cranky. Gah. I give up.

So, gauge trauma. I'm using this:

To make this:

Lotus Hat by UptownPurl (Ravlink on that name). It's going well, don't get me wrong, I've only had to tink back once or twice (the second time I had to go back nearly the whole darn row). My problem is...I'm crap at gauge. I have to figure out the designer's gauge, then reason out where I should even begin to start on needle sizes. I started this on US 7 needles even though the pattern calls for US6s. I'm a wicked loose knitter but not so loose that I'd get 5 stitches to the inch with worsted weight yarn on size 6 needles. I ended up realizing I'd have to knit the hat on size 8 needles in order to get anywhere close to her gauge. My concern is that I'm going to knit it too loose (still!) and it will be baggy. It's designed to be a beanie, not a beret.

Oh, well. Bravery. Be brave and the gauge will deal with itself, I'm sure.

The other part is my unemployment is coming to an end. I'm not as worried as I should be, I don't think, because I did the math and figured out that I could do one article a day, Monday through Friday, and make ample for my needs. I think I can manage such a slow pace. I think. It'll be dull, I fear the editors, but it can be done. It's the other writing projects I'm coming up with that bother me. And the fear that always crops up that I'm being stupid, I'm a crap writer and should just cave in, get a real job and stop being such a child.

Gah. I just cannot get along with myself on that point! Perhaps I'll take myself out this weekend upcoming, to a movie or something, and have a nice chat about it. Something's got to give, and I just hope it's not my mind that snaps.