Monday, August 29, 2011

Bits and pieces

I've had an almost intangible block on posting recently. If I had to guess, I think I felt I needed to finish the sweater I've been working on before I could update the like, four of you who read this. I suppose I wanted something to show you, some kind of accomplishment. This is not to say that the sweater's done--I've finished the body and one sleeve--but that much broke the sweater-trance of being unable to post. We'll get to the details of that later. (SPOILER ALERT: Because I hate the sleeve and need a sanity check. Hate, hate, hate it. OK, that's a little strong. Just hate hate.) For now, a mental dump of thoughts and happenings from the last three weeks.


I never quite understood why knitting was so strongly associated with babies and baby items before. What's the appeal? I always figured that it was because having a baby was all special and stuff, so worthy of commemoration by a hand-knit object. And they don't complain about your style and workmanship, simple shapes and colors are cosmopolitan enough (also, they can't speak English). But one pair of booties and I am totally riding the baby knits train.

These little darlings took me all of two hours to whip out. I've never felt so productive. Did I mention I was done with them in two hours? Other than sewing up the seams, as you can see from the photo. Turns out that the resident chewing machine has destroyed every single one of my darning needles.


The co-pilot and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary earlier this month. A year ago, we decided to try out a rental cabin for the occasion about an hour and a half north of Madison at a place called Little Pond Lodge.

The cabin was sweet. Which was good, since we spent most of the weekend hiding inside it in an attempt to avoid the army of mosquitoes waiting outside to devour our supple young flesh. Layers upon layers of deep woods bug spray didn't faze them in the least. The icing on the cake was when I got a call from one of my friends, coming home from vacation. I had been watering his plants. 'So, I'll swing by your place and pick up the key to my apartment?' 'You gave me your only key???' The upshot: I drove the 3 hour round trip as the co-pilot grilled our dinner, vainly trying to preserve some of his blood for, you know, living.

For whatever reason, we decided to give it another shot in the winter (probably off-season rates--never underestimate the power of a good deal to a cheap-ass). And...

Relaxing on the porch

Playing some ball

Stomping through the woods was pretty great. Cross-country skiing, a warm fireplace, and a nice dinner on Valentine's Day (which was a coincidence, I swear! We're a couple of those killjoys that love to bitch that V-day is a corporation-y holiday, possibly in part to avoid having to buy gifts), you couldn't ask for much more.

So we gave it another shot for the summer, and we only needed about two coats of deep woods bug spray this time around. Also, Sammy knew how to swim this time and spent as much time as he could in Little Pond.

Not 100% on the retrieving though, which is why we usually throw sticks.


The sweater has mostly gotten down to finishing and detail work, which is where my anal retentive-osity kicks in and progress really slows down. I've been thinking for about a week now that I'm going to finish it up, then I backtrack some more, then something takes way longer than expected, repeat. I watched Blade Runner on TV in the time that it took me to pick up all the stitches for the neckline. That's with commercials. Did you know that movie came out almost 30 years ago? It's set in a 'far-off dystopian future' of something like 2015 (LA could potentially look like that five years from now, I guess). This fact astonished me because a) the special effects really look fabulous and b) that makes me feel old. In Back to the Future II, I think they also go to 2015. Where in the hell are our flying cars?


OK, back to that sleeve. I made it according to the directions, correcting for the fact that the pattern wasn't written to be seamless (i.e. short rows instead of bind-offs). I'll show it to you without comment:

I asked the opinions of some (non-knitting) friends and their assessment was:

a) It looks weird that the branch pattern doesn't continue on the sleeve.

b) The sleeve fabric looks thicker than the body.

c) Fabric is bunching up under the armpit.

It was observation c) that was the crux of my distaste--I cannot stand a top that bunches around the armpit. The rest of their observations just increases my neuroses. The potential solution for the bunching is to make a cap sleeve, but what do you think about keeping the sleeve in pattern? Since I would be doing the sleeve upside-down relative to the way the body was made, the branch pattern would go backwards. Would that be dumb? Or should I try to rework the branch pattern so that it's sort of not upside-down? Or screw the pattern? Sanity check requested.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer rolls on

Thanks for the advice in baby-making, it was very enlightening. I mean, in making stuff for babies. The other way would be weird. I got as far as yarn:

Acrylic, natch (though some people claim that acrylic is a bad choice for babies because it melts in a fire--but my feeling is that if your baby is on fire, you probably have bigger problems than that). As you might have noticed, Sammy has already 'tested' the durability of the yellow yarn. He couldn't even leave me in peace to take a picture of it.

This yarn was really freaking cheap, and momentarily made me question my dedication to yarn snobbery. I might have to mix acrylic into my repertoire. I found myself really drawn to this neon purple shade, but fortunately was talking to my mother on the phone at the time whose assessment of "For a baby??? Come on." made me realize that perhaps it wasn't an appropriate choice for a baby. I hate pastels, though, so I think this was a good compromise. Next up, actually making something.

Here's the thing--I keep putting off writing, because I want to be able to actually show you something that I've made. The new and exciting sweater that I started in, oh let's see, the beginning of JUNE is becoming a never ending chore. And I'm starting to realize I'm such a slow knitter because I keep doing crap like this...

So I realized that I had read part of the (poorly written) pattern wrong, and had run part of the branch pattern right up next to the selvage edge where it wasn't supposed to be:

The whole problem area was about three times the length of what you see in the picture. I internally debated for a while--it would probably look better the correct way, but it didn't really matter, right? My inner perfectionist won that round, but what she didn't seem to remember was that whenever you do lace type stuffs, i.e. use yarn overs and decreases that functionally create new stitches, the column of stitches truncates when you get down where it was created. Stops. Does not go down any further. Which I figured out about here:

Which was a hot mess already and only was about a third of the way down to the start of the problem. Why do I do shit like this? When I realized exactly how many stitches I'd have to drop down (around 30) to actually get everything undone, I begrudgingly started bringing it all back up. Here's about halfway:

And two episodes of Top Gear later, we were back to where we started.

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO STOP DOING THIS KIND OF CRAZY. This is why things never get done.