Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Something I've never done before.

Went shopping today for yarn of a particular dye lot a month after obtaining the first skein. Typically, I'm too squeamish and terrified of not finding said dye lot to let that much time pass, but since it's for the Cheap-n-Cheerful (which will probably soon be renamed Turkish Flaw--for reasons you'll soon understand), I wasn't too worried. I mean, seriously, the yarn's sparkly. Sparkly acrylic. Where's the harm in a slightly off dye lot?

But I still trudged off to Box Store with my original ball band and lo, the entire bin of Caron Simply Soft Party is the same dye lot. At least this bin is. Thank the yarn goddesses that Caron has long dye runs.

 I now have something like 30" of Cheap-n-Cheerful on the couch there. I had a plan for the scarf that got scrapped, then I realized after some calculations that I was going to have to scrap the new new plan and make a new new new plan. I don't know about any of you, but I've about reached my limit on plans for this scarf. I just can't bring myself to type 'new new new new' with any level of seriousness or conscious intent. Besides, I sort of like the new new new plan.

The name will be changed to Turkish Flaw Scarf, because, well, it will have a major Turkish flaw. See the five stripes there on the end of the scarf (five is folded slightly under, but you can see the corner if you look)? I like odd numbers. Numbers are part of my OCD crazy and, while I haven't been severely OCDish for a while now, there are some carry-overs into my "closer to normal" years that I see no reason to get rid of. Harmless peccadilloes, little eccentricities that I can cast off or just leave in as the mood takes me, and one of them is the numbers. For whatever reason, almost all OCD sufferers enjoy a bit of crazy around the numbers. Most find even numbers to be 'safe', I (ever the rebel) am just the opposite: Numbers should be odd. Prime, when I'm spoiled for choice.

I had planned, when it was the new new plan, to do two sets of five stripes and a large swath of blue sparkles in the middle for the scarf--because that Miro itches like nobody's business and I really have no desire to have it lying on my neck. *shiver* Just the thought makes me twitchy. As to the stripes, five is an excellent odd number--a prime, too, which just makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. But then I noticed:

This. The ball of Miro that remains after my five stripes. I thought I'd use my wicked math skillz and weigh it to make sure I've got half the ball there.

I don't. I don't even, to be honest, have a third of the ball there. Um. Ooops.

So the new new new plan for the Turkish Flaw Scarf is to have the five stripes on the beginning end and three stripes at the other. Sort of an honorific, too, as the Miro swaths are 8 rows long. And there's 8 rows of garter stitch between the Miro bombs. The numbers fit together nicely and I'm pretty happy with it. And I hope there's enough left over for my tassels. If not, I might cry, but I'm saving up the scraps and such, so I should be able to bodge something together. I'm good at the bodge. It's a useful life skill, particularly when you spent nearly 15 years of your life physically incapable of opening doors for yourself because you'd have an uncontrollable, hysterical crying fit in front of the entire mall population if you did.

Don't ever mock the OCD, people. Unless you've been there, you have no idea.

Although, on reflection (and to get back to the scarf, which is the purpose of the post), is it so much a Turkish Flaw as an exercise in asymmetry? Asymmetry is a pleasing visual, too, you know. I have a new scarf planned (beyond this one) that makes use of asymmetry. You will see, when I get there. Anyway, I think we'll keep going with Turkish Flaw as the new new new working title for this one, since I had no intention to play with the asymmetry theme for this scarf. It would be a flaw, if I didn't like the asymmetry.

Practice. I'll regard it as practice.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheap 'n Cheerful progress

I had a hot technicolor dream last night, inspired by the fact I was taking the Phew to the movies today (my Thor obsession knows no bounds). I dreamt I was in a huge building, all modern and super-shiny, with really cool all-glass elevators. Somehow in this dream, I broke my left wrist, went to the hospital floor of the super-shiny building and checked in. As they issued my new brown, warm and fuzzy robes, complimentary tea set (eh?) and Samurai sword (even more eh? than before) and set me down in a soft chair with a manicurist coming over to handle my feet and right hand (I wonder if they were going to take care of the left after it was put in the cast), I wailed that I was going to be late, I had promised Phew to take him to the movies and I needed to be there by 10:30 (the actual time I was picking him up). The nurse dude patted my shoulder and reassured me I would make it. Unfortunately, the worry in my dream kept waking me up. When I finally fell back asleep each time, I went right back to the same dang waiting room. Each time I'd ask the nurse when it would be my turn, each time he'd reassure me I'd make it on time to pick up my nephew.

Just as in real life, the waiting was interminable. In the last segment of sleep/waiting in my mental hospital waiting room, I just got up and left, going down to the ground floor in the glass elevator and walking out of the building before waking up for the last time at quarter of 7. And I took my sword with me when I went.

When I finally took the Phew to the cinema, he had a great time. I did as well, but the sound of all that water rushing over the edge of Asgard made the soda I was drinking a bad idea by the end of the movie. I'd wondered why I had to use the public restrooms each time I'd gone to see it. Oh, well. I made it home safe and dry, so no harm no foul, even if I'm no longer thinking as kindly of Heimdall as I did before.

After dinner, I had some knitting time. Look at what I got done:

 Now you can see the concept a little more clearly. Tighter bands of garter in the sparkly yarn, some ruched stockinette bits of the Miro. The Miro is about as soft as barbed wire (well, knitted up it's not so bad, in the act of knitting, it's pretty harsh), so I'm thinking...three sets of five stripes of ruching with long, long, long bit of the blue in between. Long, dangle-y tassels. I like tassels.

Works for me, anyway. I ran into a bit of an issue, though, working on this scarf. The Miro was suspiciously bulky for a mere 73 yards. I decided to unroll it and see what was in the middle.

See it? See it there?

 Wait, here's a better shot, free of all the yarn:

 A really big, Pepto-pink cardboard tube.

Not heartbroken, really, I knew it wasn't a ton of yarn up front. But this bothered me excessively:

A knot. Gah! Granted, I just cut the short segment past the knot off and saved it up for tassel usage. Still. Knots are the glitter of the knitter's world. Infuriating, really.

Oh, I've gotten over it. I'm a grown up, after all. Mostly. I just hope I don't have to make my tassels smaller than I was hoping because of this bollywoggle.

Short tassels make me cranky. Crankier. Not that it takes much effort, but there you have it. Who wants that?

Friday, May 27, 2011

All hail the conquering heroine!

After a very frustrating, tiring and exasperating year and a freakin' half of creative 'block', I HAVE WRITTEN AND IT IS GOOD!!!!

God, that felt good. There's such catharsis in fiction for me, I hate it when I can't write it effectively. It's like...trying to wear shoes three sizes too small and then running a mile in them. Or wanting to open a door and realizing the knob is covered in grease and you haven't got any Dawn to clean it off.

And right now, I'm sure you're all making faces like this (link goes to an OMG so not work safe animated GIF; if you are easily offended, do not click). Tough. My blog, my life, my rules. If I want to whine about my block or my words not working right or my writing being inauthentic, I will do so.

Oooh, see? The writing gave me a head rush and sent me on a power trip.

Now, if I can just keep it up. The mental hygiene is invaluable.

Ok, I'm tired now. I think I'm going to bed, but first a quote:

Obviously, the idea that the artistic impulse is inevitably the product of a psychological condition is not new. After all, history is filled with examples of the tormented artist stricken by melancholy, going on drunken binges, cutting off an ear, and generally behaving--as we therapists like to say--inappropriately. But to infer that some kind of "craziness" underlies creative endeavor, or, even worse, that the impulse to create is itself an indicator of some condition is just plain wrong.

Dennis Palumbo, Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within. p. 58

I'll have to elaborate on how Mr. Palumbo's book has impacted my thinking as a writer, but later. Maybe tomorrow. For now...sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


And the Surly Knitter is drowsy. And not really working all that hard. Gah. It just means I'll be working extra hard over the next three days. Sucky.

On the upside, since I went to my knitting group last night and did not have to fight the intruder over my yarn, I got started on a new project. An illusion dishcloth--which sounds silly (why the fancy knitting on something designed to scrub pots with?) but it's a good 'getting the basics down' pattern. Better than starting out with the piano scarf. A lot less yarn, at any rate.

I'm washed out with the weather and bad blood sugar control (I forget to eat at regular intervals, sigh) so today was a near wash. I did get one article done, yay me, and did some work on the genealogy front. I realized today that while my great grandfather may have lived in my state, that's no reason to think his father did. I've been searching and searching for my great-great grand's grave (I have a dim memory of his headstone) and haven't been able to find it in state. Suddenly I realized the single great might have moved here after the double great died elsewhere.

Suddenly, my search options opened up. There's still the possibility that the double great never really immigrated and died somewhere in Germany (in which case, he gets put on the back burner until I track down some other family members), but I begin to feel like it's more likely he moved here with his family in 1874, died sometime between then and 1880 (he's not in the census) and his son moved his family across state lines for whatever reason.

I guess that's some progress today. Not a whole heck of a lot, but some.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taking over.

Three days and she's already acting like she lives here.

That's my chair. Mine! Have I had access to it in the last three days? NO. And when I do manage to gain access, she stands on my person and meows at me as if I have to get up right away and go do something else for her.

Evil. She's evil.

I tried to knit for a while Friday, but with all the 'help' coming from this particular quarter, I got very little done. I wanted to try illusion knitting today, but it's already complicated enough with the two colors. Adding in the little white paws and pokey-pokey gray nose and I'd end up with a serious tangle.

She goes home tomorrow. Granted, I like her, but it will be a relief to be able to knit in my own chair in peace again!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tea and company

I finally, finally used my Brown Betty.

I've had this teapot for...a while, let's just say. I finally used it yesterday to try to power through my work. Didn't really help; I've been rather exhausted this week. I think I need more protein. 

Yesterday was a lost day. I spent all morning doing research for work then slept. Got up, watched my friend's little boy, went to see Thor. Aside from the movie, not a sterling day, although I did get my cheap 'n cheerful scarf started. And partially frogged and restarted. And again. And one last time, and I think it's going to stay the way it is now. 

It's really hard to make out the general idea--it's early rows yet--so when I get along a bit farther I'll post a better picture. Thank heaven the yarn is slightly crunchy so I could just frog back and pick up the row I wanted with ease or there'd be no scarf to show you today, just a pile of smoldering ash.

I also, just as an FYI, have a new roommate for the nonce. My aunt went away for a week and she brought one of her cats down to stay here (the other kitties pick on her and it's making the kitty nervous.)

Class, say hello to Precious. I call her Pumpkin (she's got that black triangle nose and a black triangle on her chin and her eyes are permanently dilated so she looks a bit like a jane-o-lantern), or sometimes Killer. My aunt is her fourth owner, Precious has ki...uh, outlived three others*. So far my aunt looks good to outlast Precious, so I think her murderous days are well behind her. Thank goodness, as Precious seems to have taken a shine to me. I will be counting the knives before I fall asleep at night, though. Just in case.

She's staying in my sun room/office, so we'll see how having a needy, desperate for affection animal stropping my ankles constantly affects my ability to work.

And now, on to commentary about the movie....

I go to the movies alone a lot. As often as I can, to be honest. I prefer going to movies alone; having a person next to me in the theater makes me nervous. But the ratio of scary, deep-down comic book fan to me at this showing was a bit unnerving. Don't get me wrong, I like a comic book hero as much as the next girl, and I really love movies based on comic books, but I don't know details about these characters like the color of the underside of their cape or where and when they were born and what they like for dinner. These people do, and they do not hesitate to whine about anything they feel is non-cannon. Aloud. Sometimes during the movie which is, as you can imagine, a bit of a downer for those of us in the audience who really don't care. I've read some comic books, you know, and the non-cannon crap in some of them is a lot worse than the non-cannon stuff in the movies, so shut it already.

That all said, there were more people there than I had anticipated (I love going to 'private showings'--movies either extremely early or late on a weekday when you can safely anticipate a very small audience, like one or two other people), and they were obviously hard core comic book fans. Anyone wearing a winged hat and carrying a hammer has got to be a hard core fan; I tremble to think of any other reason they might sally forth out-of-doors like that otherwise. I was tense with anticipation of their displeasure, but, shockingly, with the exception of one guy (who might not have been huffing in upset over the movie; it is allergy season, he might have been sneezing or blowing his nose) they were very quiet. I was the only one who actually laughed at the appropriate places, though, which makes me feel a bit awkward.

I like Thor. It's loud technicolor, like my dreams, and the men all cried and then went on to kick serious ass, proving sensitive men can kill you casually while wearing skin-tight leather. The 'bad guy' (no spoilers here, although anyone who's read the old legends knows who the bad apple is before the opening credits even roll) is more conflicted and angsty than evil, and you like him although he's doing naughty things. My favorite type of bad guy--you don't want him to win, because that would be morally wrong, but you don't want him to completely lose, either, because you understand his motivation and you feel it sometimes, too. You cheer for both the hero and the villain, and a good time is had by all.

I love cognitive dissonance.

And the actor who plays the, shall we say, Very Misguided Guy With Redeeming Qualities is some pretty hot real estate. It's sad; I'm getting to the point where a lot of the hot guys in movies are younger than I am and I'm starting to feel like a dirty old woman. Well, not old, but certainly a little crinkly around the edges. 

Still. Le sigh. The true reason I like comic book movies (referring herein to Thor in particular): you have the good guy with washboard abs of titanium, the bad guy oozing Sexy Bad Boy all over the scenery (the cape helps a lot) and the good guy's buddies all being snarky cute. It's an awful lot of hot testosterone, colored in by someone on a bad acid trip with sound provided by one of those junkyard machines that crunches cars. A total head rush.

I need more. Maybe it will wake me the heck up and I could manage some productivity this week!

* Ok, ok, two were old and the third was already dying before he took Precious, so calling her killer is a bit harsh. Funny, but harsh. I apologize.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cheap 'n Cheerful Scarves


Sorry, I just loved that look of stunned dismay Franks is affecting there. Not that he doesn't wear it a lot (apparently he's just a little better than we are) but this is the first time I've managed to catch it on camera.

Franks is our cockatiel. Heh, nymphicus hollandicus. I'm going to have to tease him about that. We got him when a nursery and craft store my brother worked for at the time got rid of its pet section (and that should tell you where he worked, if you're from the midwest). Frankie, alas, had been abused for years by unsupervised yardapes who shoved fingers and sticks and whatnot between the cage bars at him. He doesn't talk--apparently the trauma rendered him aphasic--although he does wolf-whistle a good deal.

I think the horror is because he just saw my new yarn:

 Heh, heh, heh. It's got sparkles. I love sparkles. Strangely, despite my attempts to pretend I'm just Too Cool For That, the sparkles have wormed their way into my heart. I wonder if there's an anti-parasitic for that...

Anyway, I got it to go with this yarn:

My Anchor Style Miro. I got given it about a year ago when I sent an emergency care package (with Bernat Chunky Alpaca in) overseas, along with some nice lace yarn, chocolate and teas. Mmmm. The chocolates.

Anyway, most of that care package is gone, long gone, and all I have left is one tin of tea and the yarn. The lace I will find some suitable project for, but the Miro has been a mystery to me all along. It's pretty, but there's so little of it (73 yards) for the weight (DK). All the projects I've seen for it on Ravelry either use a ton of it for some sort of cozy or scarf, or turn it into dishcloths. It's too cheery to be a dishcloth! Plus it's plastic (acrylic and polyester) so I imagine it's crap at the sink-work.

I then thought I need to make a cheap and cheerful scarf for myself, using the Miro and something either fluffy or sparkly. I went to my favorite Big Box and found the Caron Simply Soft Party in Royal. There were two skeins, but someone had torn the ballbands off and unwound them partially (why? Why, for the love of my KnitPicks Zephyr Interchangeables, WHY!?!?!) I called a Big Box Drone over to my side and asked if they had any in back that hadn't been pawed through like the undie bin at a white sale and she said, Alas, no. But I'll give you these half off.

So I got some really cheap and cheerful yarn to go with my completely free and cheerful yarn in a scarf designed to lift my spirits in the winter with sparkle and sheer power of rainbow color.

It's so '80s, I might gag on a spoon.*

*Yes, I totally dated myself there. No, I don't care.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The power of details

I'm a big fan of to-do lists. Lists in general, really. There's something soothing about the notion that the hurly-burly of daily life can be distilled down on a sheet of creamy white paper into its controlled, black lined essence. It's pure fallacy, of course, but it's a nice idea.

Today I decided to try something suggested in one of the blogs I read and write a detailed to-do list. Not just, "Work, Banking, Knit" but a long, drawn out and detailed diagram of the actions required to fulfill those tasks. Mine, today, reads:
Plan weekly money dist.
Plan VO prep steps
Blog Update
(Cross-throughs added to show that I've marked them all off! Yay!)

Granted, I did not split each article down into "Research, Write", but I figured two steps could be consolidated into one. Yes, I put water on my to-do list; I'm getting terribly dehydrated in this heat (we're up to the mid 80s Farenheit) and if I don't make it an obligation of some sort I'm likely to just skip it. I could have made my list even more extensive (and I think I will for tomorrow, although I'm a bit limited by the size of my paper--a small, 1.5" x 3" notebook) by listing out the leisure activities I want to do today (ie, get some knitting done on Mater Gloriosa's shawl).

The possibilities are endless.

I always forget how good I feel when I do the tasks I set for myself for the day instead of goofing off. Maybe if I use the extended to-do type list every day, that feeling will come to be normal and the only productivity related feeling I'll generate is the slight discomfort of not getting stuff done.

That would be when I really feel like a grown up.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Gah. I've felt emotionally stalled the past couple of weeks. Emotional stalling leads to all sorts of stalling, and one of the things to most suffer was my knitting. However, tonight I managed to progress on my mother's shawl to the point I had to tie on the second (of three) skeins of yarn! Witness:

Ok, so it's not much, but I'll take what I can get.

I also need to select a new nom de guerre. I've embarked on a project designed to help me find my writing voice again, and I no longer want to write under my old names (it might make my writing just as dry as it has been under those names, shudder). And since I'd rather choke myself voluntarily with a fork than write under my own name, I need a new name to baptize myself into this new writing life.

I have a new first name, I just need the second. I need to find an interesting name generator -- you know, one of the "what's your Lord of the Rings Elven name?" things. They frequently churn out un-usable drivel, but sometimes you come across a strangely appropriate name that way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

From Total Fail to Epic Win in one week!

Wow. In one day, I've completed (they're not totally sold, yet, mind, but they're written) all the articles I require for my minimum expenses. One. Day.

  Granted, as days go, it was pretty harsh. Harsh! Ha! Listen to me, six to seven hours of sitting at my computer reading websites about getting certain jobs or making illusion knitting patterns and then regurgitating the knowledge is harsh. I forget how working in an office used to feel.

On the whole, though, it is reassuring to think I can maybe make a steady amount of money doing the bare minimum to call myself a writer.

Now I'm going to have some soup (fresh yesterday; it's the sort that just gets better and better as time goes on) and maybe one of my mini-Hagen Daazs tubs (single serving size! Convenience that is actually convenient!) and read for a while. I need some down time after today's power writing session.

Sheesh. Power writing. I need to get over myself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I got nothin'

Seriously. I have done nothing at all this week. Well, I've blogged pretty regularly (shocker), but it was mostly babbling about my internal psychodramas. Bo-ring. I haven't worked on my knitting, I haven't worked on my work (potentially trouble-making), I haven't worked on self-improvement, nothing. Well, I did some writing on a fiction project today, but I don't know that 15 minutes of fumbling on a keyboard really counts for much.


My next project will be to do something with my Sunlit Grotto:

Classic Elite Silky Alpaca, 460 yards of lace weight goodness. I've gotten the Barbara Walker stitchioneries out of the library again, looking for inspiration. Not finding it. Oh, there are indeed tons of pretty, pretty pictures, I'm just not feeling anything this week.

I have just lost all mojo this week. I do not understand. It must be the moon phase (new moon in my area, for those who are curious) or the weather or something. Hormones, maybe. The impending holiday which will pull all my family members in for the day (not a restful thing for me, alas).

I don't know. I do know that tomorrow I cannot let myself be a slacker. I've got at least...six articles to get out of the way tomorrow. Oh, I can do it; I could do all 10 and then some if I let myself, I just have the feeling this malaise will not be going away by tomorrow.

I say it again: Feh.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fail. Much, much fail.

I should totally keep my mouth shut about some stuff, you know?

I should never have mentioned that I had resolved to go on one date this year at New Year's. I really shouldn't. I also shouldn't ever talk about the possibility, either. The knit coven has latched on to this concept now. I keep getting told they're going to fix me up, the sort of man I 'need' (ie, used; they all tell me that I need to marry a divorcee, not the attractive option, I hate to say), how to 'manage' him (what is he, a clerk at Mall Wart?)

I really wish I hadn't ever said anything. Really, really. Every time I think about the issue, I get mightily depressed. I have no self-worth in the dating arena. I think about even thinking about dating again and all the unpleasant, hateful, evil things I've ever thought about myself plays over and over in my head like a seriously scratched record. It's like I'm suddenly 15 again (ironically, about the time I gave up on the thought of men for myself*) and there's nothing about me I like anymore. And every time they bring it up, the same thoughts play, even though I'm not the one originating the thought. Amazing! I self-loathe on auto-pilot!

I can't take it. I'm at such a delicate stage in my new life, I can't handle the negativity.So by and large, I've given up on that resolution for the year. Maybe I'll revisit the issue when I can get by working without having to hold my own hand all day long from sheer terror. Although I confess there's a strong urge in me to never contemplate dating again. I have a feeling that I have incredibly unrealistic expectations of romance in general and coupledom in particular, so I'd have to cope with constant disappointment. I don't know if I want that. I mean, at least now I can have my daydreams and cuddle them close to my heart, which at least gives me hope of some sort and keeps me warm. Experiencing reality...then I wouldn't even have the daydreams, you know? And knowing my past and the truism that you seek in your romantic relationship to repeat the dynamics of your past family relationships so you can "overcome" the bad patterns...yeah. Not interested in that nonsense. If' I'd enjoyed any of my past familial relationships, I'd be in one of my own.

A quandary, then. 

Sigh. Viewed in this light, the negative self-talk is a defensive gesture; me trying to protect myself from repeating the bad relationships of my past over and over and over again. I suppose I should thank myself, although an email saying, "Hey, you still have some work to do before you do that, kthxbye" would be more appropriate. And it's not as if I'm not weird enough to do that, either. Maybe knowing that the self-hateratin' is actually meant to save me further emotional damage will help to stop the cycle before it really gets going and sends me into a negativity tail spin that lasts for days. Maybe.

I also really need to tell the coven I've put that resolution off. Potentially forever. Then they'll drop it, and I won't have to keep repairing the damage to my delicate ego each week.

I hope!

* You would have, too, if you'd been me.