Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's powering the engine


I'm in an oddly content mood for a 'writing day'. I generally prefer the joys of research on a scale of about...six to one (I do enjoy writing, it's the flinching from editorial censure that gets me), but I did all my research yesterday in a big, bustley bout of an hour. I've been working for an hour and a half so far, and I've gotten half my day's allotted writing done already. This is what focus can do for you, people! Of course, I'd been writing the easy titles. Now I'm going to concentrate on some of the suckier ones--to get them out of the way. We'll see how fast I go now, won't we?

Anyway, I amused myself with my lunch today. I can tell I'm a writer, you wanna know how? Check it:

That's...three tea bags (including the one steeping), a Milky Way (American style--caramel and nougat under the chocolate only), carrots and ranch dressing to dip. You can also see my iPod (music makes the words work)--I'm listening to Beethoven, the Missa Solemnis, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, at present--and the reading glasses my optometrist recommended to reduce eye strain which only increase my eye strain by about a billion. And coupons for OTC Allegra--my new love. I used to take it when it was prescription only but gave it up when I lost my insurance. Since the Claritin knock-off I used to take doesn't work for me anymore, I'm sooooo glad this is out OTC. The bags under my eyes are shrinking by the day.

This is how I get through my day: gallons of hot tea (I drink it like they've stopped growing it), chocolate and the occasional veggie thrown in for the vitamins. Total breakfast of champions there, isn't it?

Since I've finished the Infinite Scarf, I've been contemplating my next project. There's a shawl for mother that's getting cast on today (it's her birthday and I promised her one--thankfully the pattern is a quickie, so she should have it within the month), something I'm going to do with my Frog Tree alpaca (photo later on, I promise) and I think I'm going to have to make a new pair of hand/wrist warmers for while I'm working. The ones I've got now:

are inadequate to the task. Don't get me wrong, I love the yarn (Lion Brand Landscapes); it's warm as the dickens, it's the pattern I used. Or didn't, to be precise. There is too much finger exposed so I'm numb from tip to knuckle.

I think I'm going to use the leftover Aslan alpaca from my Thorin's Hooded Cowl (aka the Oin) to make some super-duper long arm warmers (I have the yarn, believe me, I have the yarn) with an extra long ribbed section over the fingers that gets folded back (or not, knowing me and my lack of blood circulating to that end of the arm). Maybe, if I'm feeling frisky, I'll even do a finger stub cover, like the tip of a mitten, that can button in or be removed to completely cover the phalanges, as the mood strikes. I can do a toe-up sock start like nobody's business (hah, if only I could finish the g'khested socks to go with), and that strikes me as the perfect tip of a mitten. A button on the inner cuff to secure it (or fold the underside over and leave the top extended, perfect for typing in freezing weather) and Bob's your uncle.

And then the Optional Destashing Project is going to use my Frog Tree alpaca:

Two of each makes for 520 yards of hot pink and navy sport weight alpaca schmexy. I'm not sure what I'll do with it (although I'm minded to use them both for one project; that may change as time goes on, but for now that's the plan), but it's alpaca. How far wrong can you go, no matter what the project is, if it's alpaca running through your fingers? Not very, and that's no lie.

And now the Beethoven has stopped, which means break time is over. I need to clear my dishes, choose a new musical accompaniment and get down with my bad self.

Some days, I so rock.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking news: The Infinite Scarf is finished!!!

 Do you see that? There are no needles in the scarf. Not nowhere.

See? Here's one end. Hold on, this is the cast on.

Here you go, you can now see both ends. See? No needles. I finished it! And I really, literally, finished with less than an inch of yarn to go. It took me three tries to get the stub of yarn through the last stitch to tie it off.

I have no idea how long it is, I have no real intention of blocking it, I've just finished it and strung it on like jewelry.

 Here's a longer shot--yes, the sweater is huge. Sorry.

Lord, but I feel good to have this off the needles. I nearly dropped a stitch while binding off, and I wasn't sure what I'd do. Cry, maybe; put it on a crochet hook and leave it to think about what it had done wrong, definitely, but, thankfully, I hadn't actually dropped a stitch.

Now I can move on with my knitting life. What's next? What should I do next? I wish I could show you all my Ravelry stash page, then you'd be able to tell me what yarn to play with next.

Oh, well. I'll just have to roll in my stash on my own. Uh, I mean search through my stash for a good yarn. Yes, yes, that's what I meant. No hedonistic yarn lolling for me!

The stress of too many wonderful toys. May you all share the problems of abundance!

Oh gosh, oh golly!

The lady I called last Tuesday about research for a potential non-fiction book called me back today. I even spoke to her like I was a real grown up for a half hour and made arrangements to see some research she's done on my topic.

I feel a little giddy right now. I may need to have a lie down....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who am I and what have I done with myself!?!?

My purse broke last week, so it had to be replaced. Since I'm on a 'simplification' kick (which includes cleaning a ton of crap out of my house that I don't use and don't need), I had donated all my old purses to make jobs for other people. Bummer. So I went shopping:

It's got flowers. Some of them are pink.

I hardly recognize myself anymore. But the purse does make me giddy stooopid happy, so whatever.

In other news, I had planned to finish the Infinite Scarf today, but my plans got sidelined. I had to finish digitizing my music collection and get rid of the hardware (and I haven't got a backup yet for my iTunes, gulp, so I'm sort of panicked.) On the one hand, I'm glad to be shot of the twenty five pounds of plastic I don't really need anymore, on the other it took for.Ev.Er to get those things downloaded. I've been doing it in batches, but today was the last, biggest chunk, and it took something like four hours to rip them to iTunes. Then I had to cart them away to my local second hand shop to convert them into cash.

And after getting rid of them, I fell asleep in my chair. Sigh. Oh, well. At least I feel a bit better (the dust makes my eyes swell). Maybe I'll go knit for a while now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I may be a slacker, but occasionally I get the job done.

I actually did something today that I've been dreading for the past two weeks--I made a phone call. And not just any phone call, but a phone call for research purposes. I may have said something about writing a non-fiction book (since I pretty reliably crap out on fiction after 100 pages). Today I actually called someone about the topic on which I'm thinking of writing. She wasn't there, so I had to leave her a voicemail on the general voicemail line, which was massively scary. She's done some research on the topic, and I wanted to a) make sure I'm not stepping on her writerly toes, and b) see if I could get a head start on my research by using hers.

Hey, to you that may be small change, but to me, that's practically finishing a full marathon! I hate telephones, and I especially hate asking people for favors, so to do both in one go was more bravery than I've had to show in what feels like centuries.

I also got a freebie today:

Isn't it swanky? It's huge--a full size desk with a credenza-thingie. It has all the mod cons--a nice, stable shelf for my printer (so no more shaky-shaky table when I need to print something), a place to fit a tower (although my cords aren't long enough to put my tower there, so it's becoming a bit of a junk cabinet), two drawers, a place for a cork board (which I am replacing; the one that came with has been upholstered in a nasty fabric) and a pencil tray in the top drawer. Once I get it cleaned out, I can get rid of my pencil holder and put the blue candy dish (by the curtains) up next to my tower. And just look at that prime desk top real estate. I could put nearly six notebooks side by side by side and still have surface left over!

My brother got this for me from the firehouse where he works. They were going to just toss it--can you imagine? It's too nice to dumpster! Ah, well. Their loss is my gain, and I begin to understand some of what my creativity coach is about with the 'when things don't work out the way you want them to, you might be getting a better deal down the road so go with it' bit. If I'd pressed the issue, taken the desk my brother's in-laws wanted to give me this past winter, I wouldn't have gotten this super nice one now. Or I'd have three desks (still haven't gotten rid of my old computer cart) and no where to put them. In any case, I'll have to say this situation has definitely worked out in my favor. This desk has much better space and features than the one I was going to get before. The credenza alone was worth the wait.

In other news, the Infinite Scarf proceeds apace. At least the yarn wad at the working end has gotten smaller. Not by much, but smaller. See:

Maybe I will finish the scarf before my 80th birthday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Have you ever had a day....

that was so full of stuff you just couldn't process it all?

I just did. There are some words in here somewhere, but I can't think what they are right now. Maybe Sunday, or next Wednesday. My work today took me to a new level, I did an exercise for my life coach that required me to do some digging, and I began pondering a new knit design for either a scarf or a shrug using two different yarns that I have in small enough quantities to make combining them into one project a necessity, not a luxury.

And I gorged myself on tater tots. Mmmm, tater tots. I love tater tots. I love writing the words 'tater tots,' they are absolutely fun to say over and over. Tater tots, tater tots, tater tots. Why is it so fun to act like a fourth grader?

Speaking of, ABC Family is playing the Harry Potter films in series again, for like the eleventy-billionth time. I love the movies, but come on. Again? Really? They'll play them again before the final film in July, you just know they will.

Oh, well. At least it's better than the four days' worth of Beverly Hills Chihuahua they did last week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sneezy and Dopey, all rolled up into one.

Not tonight's sky, but not far off in terms of general mood. Tonight was all pastel blue and pink, soft and cotton candy-ish. It was nice out today, too. In all, good weather. Alas, my camera is fresh out of batteries, so there are no pictures of tonight's sunset. Memo to me: Buy batteries.

Alas, my volunteer gig at the archives has me working on dirty paper (I do repairs and maintenance on  some post-Civil War papers) which has me doing my two dwarves imitation--Sneezy and Dopey. I suppose you could get Sleepy in there, too, as it runs me right down. So...three dwarves. Ok, four--Grumpy. I'm sure as heck not Happy, but whatcha gonna do, amiright?

So I've done bupkiss all week aside from some research into non-fiction writing. If only I had courage, I'd really do it. Actually I do have the courage for this, I just doubt that anyone would want to read anything I'd find interesting enough to write about.

And despite my Lenten promise to maintain positive energy, I find that I haven't been able to get anywhere near positive lately. I have several ideas for non-fiction books (which are ideal for the super slacker I am because, unlike fiction books, you sell them before you write them, which is simply brilliant in my book), but I have no confidence in myself that I will actually do anything about it. I have dozens of unique patterns in my notebooks and head, but no faith that I could make them look right if I tried to knit them. Nothing I want to do will interest anyone else, nothing I can make will be any good and no one wants to know me--that sentence, depressingly, sums up the past week for me.

I'm sleepy and dehydrated and my sinuses feel as if they're stuffed with cotton wool. I can't get any knitting in (it would probably send me into a coma, actually) so I think I'm just going to bed. Maybe some sleep will shine a brighter light on matters tomorrow.

Actually, I'm going to take the afternoon tomorrow (if the weather allows) and go see a new art piece at the museum in celebration of the Solstice. That thought alone energizes me. That and the prospect of some sleep.

Good night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I should post something,

particularly as I've linked this blog to my freelance writing website's metrics counter. They require two posts per week, which I can do. My posts would be better if my life were, you know, interesting. Then again, I've done precious little to make it interesting, so I should not whine. And as serious illness, major injury and suddenly finding oneself homeless could be said to be, to some degree, interesting, I should, perhaps, not wish for it in the first place. Although I guess I could say that getting to watch four episodes of "Poirot" with David Suchet on a nice, slow, lazy Sunday was interesting. Making my cottage pie, a nice beef soup and some lovely fresh-brewed coffee by hand from the grinding on up over the course of this past week was also interesting. So maybe my life isn't quite so dull, after all. It's just interesting in a more prosaic way than most would notice.

I also should not complain as I do not live on a major fault line or on a chain of active volcanoes. I am very happy the ground under my feet is stationary, my house is still standing and no one I love is missing. In the grand scheme of things, my life is very good right now. Annoying at times, but very good. I should be more appreciative.

In happier news, I have been back at my knitting. After the annoyance of my Obligation Scarf (safely frogged, the yarn lost) I got back up on my pony by doing some knitting on the Infinite Scarf. Have I shown you my Infinite Scarf?

Here is my Infinite Scarf. It's roughly...5'7" in length. I rather like the drape of this pattern in this yarn--I just took a stitch at random out of my Interweave stitchionary (Lace and Cables, I believe) and cast it on. It's turning out rather well for a 'gee, I have nothing else better to do, these needles are nice, that pattern is cool, GO!!!' scarf.
Here's a close-up of the right side of the pattern. It's pretty--the yarn overs and psso's make for a sort of fish-scaley column up the length of the scarf. I've also managed (through the magic of blind luck) to get a rather nifty pooling/striping effect with the color runs in my yarn. Heh. I try for that sort of thing and it doesn't happen. I don't care, and voila!

 The wrong side is even sort of nice, too.

Why, oh why can't I do something this cool on purpose!

So why do I call it the Infinite Scarf? Well, Gee, I Have Nothing Else Better To Do, These Needles Are Nice, That Pattern Is Cool, GO!!! Scarf is rather too wordy, and this:

has been attached at the end of my working yarn for rather more than a foot of knitting now. I'm knitting from the outside of that ball, too, so the fact that it's not getting smaller is just pure vulgarity on the yarn's part. Some days, it feels like I'll never get to the casting off.

So. Infinite Scarf. I don't mind that it's infinite; I can certainly imagine worse patterns to be knitting on while waiting in Purgatory. The Obligation Scarf comes to mind, grrr. But I would love to be able to actually wear this one without dropping stitches or needing to carry the needles at the end of it all the time. Makes it rather bottom heavy. And difficult to get through metal detectors, as the needles are aluminum.

Still and all, matters could be worse. I will take comfort in that knowledge and carry on with the knitting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


 A pretty picture, just because. Chihuly made the globes, by the way.
Best laid plans and all... I got completely side tracked this week. I've done no knitting beyond the little I did at Monday's knit night (which was precious little, until I eventually frogged my Obligation Scarf in a fit of pique), aside from a swatch that 's about to get frogged itself, I've been avoiding work again and I'm exhausting myself by going to bed later and later while still getting up at the same time.


I need to get myself back in hand. The mood is against me. So tonight I think I'm going to work on the Infinite Scarf (a project I've been working on, eat some raw sugar cookie dough and maybe read a little before turning in at my usual bedtime--ie, three hours earlier than last night. Tomorrow there is work to be done, but if I'm good and follow my Good Focusing Practices (do my work before checking email, Ravelry or anything else), I can get done by noon and maybe--if the weather works in my favor--go out somewhere for a bit of sun. I could use the vitamin D!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The design bug bites rather like a mosquito.

I've been working on my sweater design in my off-hours (and by off-hours I mean the hours I'm pretty much off my rocker), and it proceeds apace. Well, it will proceed apace when I figure out the maths. There's an off-ness to the ratios of my stitch swatches.

Oh, well. I've discovered another percolating design with an ocean theme, using this yarn:

 Or maybe this one:
Can't decide. The one is fingering, the second is worsted, it's a stole/rectangular shawl, and I'm thinking either would work since both have wool in them. Although the second one is prettier, and would be warmer. I'm super duper cold all the time; warm is important.

I rather like the blue-purple idea with a sea themed shawl. It'll be a pain to finish the way I want (picot trimming), but it might be worth it.

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A view of the Buddha Board

 I've finally been playing with my Buddha Board from Christmas. I've been feeling a bit groundless lately, and thought it would be appropriate since it's supposed to be an exercise in experiencing the temporary nature of being. Or something like that; I threw the box away, and that particular line was a bit of the text on the back.

 That series of photos took place over less than five minutes. Or, if you've been following my blog, less than three weeks.

The only plans I've held to have been some knitting ones. I finished my hooded cowl (yay me!), started on my obligation scarf (yay, ish) and started new sketches of my proposed sweater (yay, if I can make it work.) Considering how I've been feeling of late, I consider this to be a major win.

In the same amount of time, I've also considered: finding a part time, temporary (in my view) office job so I can get into my more risky writing ventures with less worry, writing a non-fiction book about resurrectionists in the United States, and running away to the west and living off my wits. At the moment, running away is winning by a slim margin, although the lack of stable access to hot running water is making it less of a likely winner.

I knew when I got into it that changing my life was going to be difficult, unlikely to pay handsomely off the bat and aggravating, I just didn't really think about what that would feel like up close. As a former office drone, the uncertainty is uncomfortable in the extreme--I'm accustomed to knowing my place, keeping to it and staying out of trouble--but not, I'm thinking, as uncomfortable as being an office drone. In the final balance, I'm sure I'll make it through, if only because I'm too bloody-minded to give up. I've told people I'm going to do this; now it's a matter of pride.

It's been years since I last sketched or doodled, and I'm sure you see why. I have no talent for art. Still, I do enjoy it. I should dabble a bit more often, just for mental hygiene purposes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All crafters are secretly hussies.

Just an observation based on this:

And what is that, you may well ask? A Japanese knot bag, made for me by one of my knitterly sisters-in-arms, A. I donated a ton of acrylic that I had in my stash (accrued over the years for various projects and destashed when I was trying to fit all my toys in the Cedar Stashtainer of Yarny Goodness) to her grandmother, who lurves acrylic. Loves it like buttah.
She'd promised me one when I handed over the trashbags (yes, that's plural) full of yarn, but to be honest, I sort of figured she'd forgotten. Not that it mattered; having someone somewhere take unwanted yarn off your hands to use for her personal knitting happiness is gift enough. It's like playing matchmaker for an ex you don't totally hate but can't have in your life in a romantic capacity anymore--you wish them well and want the best for them, just...elsewhere. But last night at coven, I was presented with what she and our fearless leader C. called 'The Little (Whore)house on the Prairie Bag.' Why call it so? Well.

 A sweet, delicate and ladylike pattern of what appears to be lavender blossoms on the outside,

 tawdry, slutty, Hussy Purple satin on the inside, heh, heh, heh.

Sort of like me, actually.

Anyway, does the lining call anything to mind for anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

'Cause that's how I roll, yo.

I'm using it at present as a project bag. The satin has a second major advantage, besides looking totally trampy, in that it allows my yarn to roll freely as I pull from the skein while I knit. And, since I pull my project through the shorter handle before passing that over the long, I can hang the bag from my wrist, dispense yarn and knit at my ease in almost any situation in which I might find myself! Fabulous.

The things you never realize you need until you have them! Now I can knit when I go sit and wait at the dental school on Sunday at the arsecrack of dawn, to be drilled as part of my dental student's licensing exams, without worrying about besmirching my yarn.

Well. Maybe. I worry a little about besmirching my nice, new Japanese knot bag with dental school germs, but at least it gives me more control over where my yarn is at any given moment. And that's all to the good, isn't it?

Eh. I'll think I'll just take some library books with me, instead.