Friday, February 25, 2011

Sigh. Obligation knitting, I hates it.

Gah. I hate knitting under obligation. Yet here I sit, the only active project on my needles an obligation scarf. Oh, the person who is going to get it deserves it, will appreciate it and treat it well; I have no qualms about that. I just hate knitting something that I have to knit.

Knitting for me is about pleasure, recreation. It's a hobby. Knitting to an end not completely my own is just antithetical to the concept of a hobby, to my mind.

I know, I need to get over it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Frightening realization.

Have you ever had one of those moments in which you looked around and suddenly saw yourself with the eyes of a much younger you? I have, more than once. The first time was while I was working as a bank teller and suddenly woke up to the awful reality that the life I thought I was working towards when I was 17 did not magically materialize, and I had no idea how to get there. That event put me into therapy for the first time.

The second time was today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pulling a total Chauncey here.

You know Chauncey, don't you? It's annoying when you can't fast forward while watching live tv, but I understand his feelings today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Notes on designing, hooded cowl progress and, oh, yeah, making money.

In the past, I typically procrastinated on actual work. You know, the stuff you do to get paid? Nowadays, I've moved on a bit and am procrastinating on thinking. That's a first.

I need to do some heavy thinking, mon amis. I have to do business planning, some profit/loss analysis and some serious goal setting. As there is highly unlikely to be room for my naughty fantasies involving Aidan Turner, a large tub of Nutella and some spiffy fingerless green gloves, I really don't want to be bothered.

But I think I must. (Knitting stuff after the cut; I'm experimenting with my blog. Apologies!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

A plague within this house.

Well, not literally the plague with the black buboes and fluid in the lungs, but certainly a plague. Of a sort. My mother caught a very nasty cold in mid January and only just stopped coughing like a consumption victim this week, then passed it on to my niece and nephew who recycled it, gave it a special 'tweenie-teen spin and gave it to me. I've felt a bit like I was wearing the lead apron they put on you at the dentist to take your x-rays all week--not only did I have the weight on my chest, but I've been tired from carrying it and greatly disinterested in doing anything. Not working, not knitting, not nothin'. So that's what I did. I got my federal tax return this week, so while it would have been smart to do the work, it wasn't absolutely necessary.

I'm very glad I didn't get my mother's version of the disease, though. Just watching her deal with it made me hurt. She's got some serious old lady cojones, you know? I'm such a weenie, if I'd caught her version of it I'd probably have lain on the couch all week, crying. She managed to not only get up and dressed each day, she went out to breakfast, took care of the children (hence their own tussle with illness) and clean the kitchen every evening. I'm so weak.

Before I fell ill, I decided to do something for myself I've wanted to do for a very long, long time.

I made myself a red velvet cake for Valentine's Day.

 It was nummilicious. I think next time I will use my brother's cake recipe (which I will have to wrestle from him), but stick to her icing. I actually think I'll just change my cream cheese frosting recipe to hers, period, for every application, reason and season. That stuff's da bomb. The marscarpone cheese just makes it, in my opinion.

In other news, I tried to get new photos of my cats. Yeah, good luck to me.
 Elvis does not know you, but he does not like you. Not one bit.

I did manage to get a few good shots.
 The only good picture I have of Yoda--he does not like cameras.
Very artsy, though, no?

Here's a halfway decent shot of Elvis.
Yes, I keep a waterproof sheet on my bed. Yoda has reflux.
Change my sheets once after a massive wet puke, shame on you....

But the shot below is an example of why I have trouble taking pictures of my cats:

They see the stupid camera come out, they flinch away as if the flash is battery acid. Yoda is particularly averse to the camera. I can't tell you how many pictures I have of Yoda, looking straight on to the camera with his eyes squeezed shut so hard it looks like I just poked him with a sharp stick.

Le sigh, and he has such pretty green eyes. You'll just have to trust me on that, but he does. They're a couple shades darker than Elvis', a lovely spring green turning to pale gold at the edges. I've never had a cat with green eyes before, I find them quite taking.

One day, Yoda. One day. I will get a picture of your eyes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Screeeeeeam! Finally, the cowl is done!

THANK GOODNESS. I've finished the cowl part of my hooded cowl, now all I've got left is...well, some ten inches of hood. But it shouldn't be as confusing as the cowl part, because I have no stripes planned for that section.

And the cowl fits. I've tried it on, twice. I'm just so excited it's done, I could dance in circles for hours until I absolutely puke up yesterday's breakfast.

Sigh. Now that I've accomplished that, it's just more 'onward', I suppose.

(And after two edits-post-log-out-that-require-logging-back-in, I'm giving up and going to bed. Any grammar errors will just have to stay there.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Proof of Swatch

I can follow through on things. See?

Now I'm just waiting for it to dry completely before measuring and doing the final stitch counts for each section of my Sweater To Be.

I like that smocked rib, actually. I'm quite looking forward to working this one out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I went shopping!

Don't get excited; I had a gift card from Christmas to a second hand bookstore that I had to use. I've still got $.48 left on it, too.

Before I tell the tale, let me share the quote of the day from the Keep Calm and Carry On desk calendar I have:
If at the end I have lost every other friend on earth
I shall at least have one friend remaining and that
one shall be down inside me.
Abraham Lincoln
Lovely, isn't it? And something for us all to aspire to.

Anyway, back to shopping. This is what I obtained:

See the price tag? Just under $8. That's...interesting, because the top one on the stack had a price over $9. I had picked up the top copy and rejected it because there was a mark where something had dripped down the back, most likely icky drip water from a ceiling leak. Ewww. So I headed back to the stack and looked at the next one. The second book on the stack was dusty with little chunks of something that made me think it had been stored under a hanging plant (ewwww again), so I grabbed the third one down. Not only was this one cheaper than the other two, it is the original American edition. Which means the pictures are excellent. In the first one I'd picked up (a reprint) the pictures were washed out and all the yarns looked either gray or screaming scarlet. I was shocked when I opened this one and could see excellent stitch detail and color differences between the yarns.

Go me and my OCD dirt aversion!

Also, irony: The stitch pattern on the cover, by my thumb? The pink lattice looking thing? Not in the book. I've looked three times. Thankfully, I have that pattern in another of my (many many) stitch dictionaries.

I've also inadvertently put my foot in it. There is a knitter on Ravelry--a new knitter, mind--who was anxious about casting on for a baby blanket. I understand, hey, I'm the queen of procrastination when it comes to trying new knitting techniques. But I said, if you cast on for the blanket, I'll cast on for a sweater for me that I've designed and put off starting because it's scawy. She replied today that she's cast on (twice; she frogged the first attempt due to user error). She puts no obligation to me to start my sweater, but I cannot let a newb get one over on me. It's a matter of pride. So I'm going to log off now and go cast on for my swatch.

I really should watch my mouth. It just gets me into all kinds of trouble. Glorious trouble, but trouble all the same.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stretch your right arm over your head, bend your elbow and pat yourself on the back.

That's what my choir director in college used to have us do after every successful practice, and it felt appropriate as a title. I had some big, big breakthroughs musically yesterday, and made some wee baby mental connections between art and knitting and my writing, but I don't have words for that yet, so I'll stick to just a quick recap of my day.

I had a list of 8 articles I wanted to get written for the week (the clearinghouse I work for has a list of titles they want, so I can pick as many as I need for the day.) I had been planning, originally, to simply do the research for the four I had left to do on Thursday and do the writing today, but when I got home from my volunteer activities, I told myself that if I was a good girl and got my work done that day, I'd take Friday off and go to the local art museum which is, thankfully, free. So I knuckled under, got my work done and went, as promised, to my museum.

Which is, by the way, very inspirational. I love going there because there is an energy to art that is...visceral. I sit and drink in the emotions the artists have made static. Sometimes I find music too emotionally overwhelming, because I am primarily driven by my hearing, but I can look at art all day because vision is my secondary sense, if you know what I mean. The emotions are there, but less intense--or at least I experience them as less intense--because I'm using a less dominant sense to experience them.

Anyhoo, I saw some beautiful art. There was a piece by Victor Vasarely which blew my mind--it's not on his website, but it's bright orange shading through to red squares on a lilac to dark purple background. It's like a paint color chip on steroids. BEAUTIFUL. Then I enjoyed a piece by Tara Donovan called Untitled (Mylar):

I cannot express the joy walking around that piece generated in me. It's bunches of little glittery balls, all smooshed up and for whatever reason, it made me absolutely giddy. Yes, I know I'm weird. Not news. There was a nice audio piece called "Terrain" by Julianne Swartz (the space I saw it in was much, much smaller than the one in the pictures, so I imagine if the Quicktime video would ever load, the sound would be different) that I liked quite a lot. It takes one whole room and consists of hundreds of these little speakers suspended from the ceiling that play, well, sounds, mostly; a soft, whispering susurrus, atonal wailing and occasional snippets of phrases and words. The amazing thing is how the sounds paint the picture in your mind of a rolling landscape with grasslands, hills and rain. Schmexy. Not even the squealing child in the gallery could ruin that one for me.

Then I got lost in tons of galleries that started giving me yarn color combination ideas--some of them pretty acid and wild--and I began thinking in terms of knitting as related to what I was seeing on the walls in front of me, and color and creation and all that, and I totally lost the plot for a while. Particularly as we have several installations of art that involve string (not knitting, just string. Sounds useless, but it's not) and, well, you can imagine my reaction. Unfortunately, they have those pesky docents hanging around, keeping an eye on the artworks, interfering with any attempt at yarn stealing. Bummer.

So, back to the musical breakthrough. I stopped trying to learn to play the piano about a year ago because I was having trouble understanding what my piano teacher was talking about when he taught. I took music theory (back in the dim recesses of my memory there is a phrase, "Circle of Fifths", that still makes me shudder at night) in college, I've been singing and sight reading for...more years than I care to admit, frankly, and it was still making no sense. So I gave it up, thinking I could never learn piano, there's no way to unlearn what has been learned, and the stuff he was saying was so alien I was beginning to think I'd never learned anything at all, in a musical sense. I gave in to a fit of the sulks, if you must know.

But yesterday, after I finished my work and was excited about my art museum trip today, I started thinking about dinner. Since dinner would have to be manufactured in the kitchen, which is close to my piano, I went in to noodle around while waiting for my dinner to finish the manufacturing process (roughly 15 minutes.) While looking at my Piano for Dummies book (yes, I bought a 'for dummies' book; they're very good, you should try one) I found his tip about 'chopsticks and forks', which makes no sense unless, like me, you're trying to figure out which key is what note. Suddenly, the whole keyboard just made sense, and I wasn't lost anymore on the keys!

That bit of transcendence brought me to another realization--in addition to the totally weird factoid that my piano teacher does not learn new things by relating them to old ones (heh, I just realized I might be a slow learner that taught myself to learn more efficiently without any help from a special ed teacher--how about that, I might be as dumb as I think I am after all!), I also realized that I know how this whole music thing works, I just use a very different language and mental map to maneuver through it than he does.

Suddenly, I realized that what I was having was a translation problem, not a learning problem! He and I were talking about the same cup, just using different words to describe it (heads up--ST:TNG nerd reference there.) Once I realized that, I stopped trying to think like my teacher and started trying to think like me. And the world of piano opened up like a great, piano-y flower before me. Chords make sense. They aren't just there to torture innocent piano students like me, there's a reason why they are what they are, and I already know the reason, I just express it differently. And since I know that reason, I should (in theory) be able to construct any chord I want on the keyboard without the cheat sheets provided with my books. Amazing. I have the power!

I can't tell you what a relief it is to know that my music education hasn't been completely based on lies and fabrications. Or that I'm not having a stroke and have completely mixed up my lessons so what I thought I learned I really didn't. Although the experience did highlight the reason most really serious musicians learn from one, at the most two or three, teachers in the very beginning--part of why I was so screwed up is I had over ten (TEN!!!) music teachers, in school and out, and each of them was teaching the way they learn which may or may not be anything like the way I learn. I have all the basic music theory in there, it's just in a higgledy-pigglety mess of different languages and thought constructs.

So now all I have to do is go through and translate those concepts and lessons into one, coherent language. Sounds difficult, but not really--I had at least...three teachers who spoke roughly the same language, if you follow, so I've got my little translation code right there. I can organize my new studies in music theory into one unified and coherent language, and finally, finally progress musically.

And if I ever have a kid and they want to study music, they're getting one teacher until they've mastered the basics of music theory. It will save a lot of chaos down the road.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I did it! I knitted!

Here's me, making my first stitch in nearly a full week:
It felt good, really good. I only did two rounds, mostly to keep from re-injuring myself but also because I was watching the Super Bowl while knitting. Sheesh. There were moments in the first half that I wondered if anyone was playing against Green Bay, but toward the end it got good. Somebody showed up on the field after halftime, and I'm not talking about Usher. Speaking of the half time show--what was that with Usher? Was he really necessary? Did he actually do anything other than that impressive leap-land-in-splits thing over Why was he there?

Those are just the questions I can verbalize. There's a lot about the half time show that leaves me confused and speechless. Like really excellent fiction, however, I think I will ultimately be left with only more questions, questions that lead me to deep introspection and further personal growth. Or indigestion. One or the other.

I'm currently watching Thing 1 and Thing 2. They, and their human, are moving to New York City soon. I will weep and wail, but I have a cheering image of Thing 2 in a hipster hat and scarf, slouching down the streets by Washington Park with the other college students. Maybe growing a goatee (if he can), probably a straggly one, and reciting poetry on street corners for 'nip money. Thing 2 is definitely a City Cat; I think he will enjoy it there immensely. If nothing else, the street theater outside his new apartment will keep him entertained.

 Kees mah toez, hooman. I am teh sexay.

He helped me with my knitting after being snotty with me all day long and looking down at me from various perches above the level of my head.

ZOMG, my tail looks huge in this thing! Get it off me!

His sistah, Thing 1, was entirely disdainful of my knitting efforts.

Look how regal her pose, how proudly she ignores me. Ah, the cattitude!

I'll miss them, but their human reports they will return, and until then I am free to visit next time I am in the city. I might have to make a special trip, just to see if 2 grows his goatee.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Yet more weather.

This time, snow.

Don't get me wrong, it's far superior to the ice (some streets are still skating rink smooth around here), but I'm getting very tired of the weather. Spring will be torrid as well, I'm sure, but it's usually a slightly warmer torrid, and that would suit me just fine.

In other news, my wrist feels infinitely better. I'm still sitting out on the knitting until tomorrow (which is why I'm posting today; I'm not getting online tomorrow if it can be helped because that might eat into my knitting time) and I can't wait until then. I hope I don't overtire my wrist or anything by knitting for hours on end, some kind of boomerang-knitting-diet sort of binge. Still and all, I think five days is long enough to sit out waiting for my wrist to heal up, and as long as I get some knitting time, I shouldn't go insane about it. Shouldn't. I hope.

And a random observation: I was supposed to hang out with a friend this afternoon, but I called her around 11 and told her not to come over because of the weather. She went quiet for a minute and then asked what was wrong with the weather. That's when I realized a) she really doesn't watch the news or even the commercials on broadcast stations anymore, weather people get so excited about bad weather; it gives them their opportunity to shine, and b) she hadn't even looked out her window yet today. I would have fallen over with shock if I could have (but I was sitting in my car--parked!--in a parking lot with my seat belt on, so that wasn't likely to happen). I am such a morning person that just the thought of waking up at 11 am (unless it's from a nap) nauseated me. The better part of the day is half over by noon! Why would I sleep it away?

Insanity. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have my nap. :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mother Nature strikes again.

I was going to post about the progress on my cowl. Oh, why not:

I've got the biggest color block prior to the hood itself done, the two next biggest blocks done and am started on the last one of size. See that blue stripe below the green? It's a set of 8. I'm doing the green version of that at the top half right now. Then there's a five of the white, a three of the blue and one of the brown to go before I bind off half the stitches and start work on the hood.

Well, I'm not knitting right now, because:

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I'm not a lefty. And you can see what prompted the splinting up behind the hand, too.

Like just about everyone in the States this week, we've had weather. Ice, to be precise, about an inch. Suck, suck, suck. So did I fall? Get whacked when a tree branch, overburdened by it's shellacked coat of heavy ice, gave up and dropped like a freezing stone? No.

I did that scraping the ice (and the thingie that spits windshield washer fluid--hey, I couldn't see it, and it came off in part of an ice chunk, so the argument could be made that it froze off) off my car. My other wrist and both arms, up to the shoulders, ache too, but my right wrist seems to have taken the brunt of the punishment. It's actually far, far better today than it was yesterday (because in addition to scraping, chipping and shoveling a ton of ice off my car, I was baking and cooking all day long), but I don't think it advisable to be knitting in this condition. I don't want to do myself a long term injury, when I could just lay off the toss and flick for two or three days and be right as rain. It's a trade off, I admit, now that I've got a fire under my behind to get the cowl finished (and am close enough to smell it), but I think the rest now would end up being a cost savings in the end, medically speaking. There's always Sunday, after all.

Now that I'm benched, I'm reading, watching junk off my TiVo and trying desperately to stay awake. I worked this morning (really, I'm amazed at myself--when I didn't feel like working before, when I was working for someone else, I would goof off and net surf all day long. Nowadays, when I don't feel like working, I do goof off, but I still do my work anyway. No matter how long it takes. Weird.) I ate some of yesterday's cooking frenzy for dinner--a very Mexican themed chicken soup--and had some raw cookie dough (my favorite! Fresh mixed by Mommy!) for afters and now...I'm blogging. Le sigh.

It's still not knitting, but it's close enough, I guess. At least there's yarn.