Friday, August 19, 2005

no sleep till Brooklyn

SnB last night was great -- about 15 ladies and people got up and rotated around so I got to talk to just about everyone. Ellen is making another Seraphina shawl. She is the bonafide Seraphina Queen! This is her 8th one to date. Sara #2 (we have at least 3 Saras at SnB) finished her first pair of socks, which deserves a big round of applause, as many knitters know how hard that second sock is to finish. Darcy showed off a positively racy knit tank and Crystal worked on a new baby sweater.

I am making good progress on the mohair sweater, despite the gauge issues. I've now made the separation for front and back, which of course means I'm no longer working in the round, which means purling for stockinette. Last night I had my first experience of purling combination style. After a few tries, I think I have it, although it is a bit funky (although I guess purling always is). Looking at the pictures and diagrams, I'm amazed at how far along I am on the sweater. Really, I'm more than half way done. And because the sweater is worked ine the round, and the sleeves & collar are knit directly onto the sweater, the only sewing together I have to do is at the shoulders. I am so close.

I'm also not sleeping very well. (I know, awkward transition, but I haven't finished my coffee) This morning was the first one all week that I've felt actually rested when I woke up. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was the worst. I took two Simply Sleep but I still felt so horrible that I didn't come into work until 11 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning was pretty bad, too. I thought it would be ok, because I'd had a few beers after our kickball game, and normally that puts me out. I took a couple of Simply Sleeps, too, but I tossed and turned all night. I got a few hours of fitful sleep, but wasn't rested at all. Last night, I was tired, but still, sleep was just out of reach. Deano kept whining, until I threatened to kick him out, then he settled down and went to sleep on my feet. I think I finally drifted off around 3:00, and woke up around 8:30 a.m.

I don't know what has me so stressed out. Well, actually it is probably the interview I had up in San Jose last week that I'm not all that excited about, but that I had a follow up phone interview with this week. I'm not sure I want the job, but how could I turn it down if I got it? I couldn't, not after all the bellyaching I've done over the past year and a half. So that's probably it. I just hope the sleeplessness goes away at camp.

Ah, yes, Camp starts tomorrow. I head up to Big Bear for 5 days and 4 nights with 35 15-17 year olds with chronic diseases. I know I'll have fun, but it's so draining (physically & emotionally) that I'm always a bit apprehensive beforehand. We have a bunch of reporters coming up, so I'll be quite busy. Hopefully, I'll have enough downtime to get work done on the sweater. So this is the last post for a while. Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

and victory is ours!

That's right, victory. Don Rickles with a Chainsaw won our first kickball game of the season last night. 4-2 over a more experienced team (aptly named "Armed & Hammered"), and guess who made the game-winning catch? Me. I was more surprised than anyone when the long line drive came right to me (I was playing third base) and I caught it and held it. It was a great feeling, especially when team members hugged me and slapped me (in a good way) and even the other team's members kept saying "great catch!"

It was a great game, for reasons other than my own ego boosting. Our team communicated on the field, we had a good time and no own went out of their way to be an ass hat. Armed & Hammered are a good bunch of people, so it was an out and out good game. Next week we play the Pregnant Cheerleaders, which is another good group of people, so it should be fun, win or lose.

On the crafty front, I'm being remarkably focused on the mohair sweater. Normally, I'm a project jumper -- I keep switching projects because I get bored if I stay with one for too long. But this sweater is a big project and I'm afraid if I'm not focused, I'll never finish it. But I have a lot of ideas swirling in my head. I bought 4 balls of Berrocco Foliage from Allison of SuperCrafty, and I want to make a crocheted sweater vest with that and the three skeins of Classic Elite Gatsby I have in chai latte. The Foliage is so super soft and the colors so eye catching. I should be finishing the Japanese Sunburst tank, which is almost complete. And I
need to frog part of the Rowan "Cannes" tank top so that I can finish it correctly. And there is the green & brown Sweater Girl sweater. Ooh, and Christmas is fast approaching (at least for crafty people who make their gifts), so I have 4 skeins of Lamb's Pride waiting to be turned into felted purses. And, the big project: I told Richard that I would make him a sweater for Christmas.
What was I thinking? Isn't the boyfriend sweater the kiss of death? Well, 1. He's my husband, not my boyfriend, and 2. We're coming up on our 3rd wedding anniversary (in November) and our 12th anniversary of being together (in December). I'm hoping that's enough time for the curse to have worn off. So, the sweater is going to be his big Christmas present (he already knows, so I'm not spoiling anything here). I need to get an early start on it, as not only is it a big project in general, but it has cables up the sleeves, which I've never done before (never done cables period). But it's all part of improving my skill sets, which, way back in January, Faith & I decided would be our New Year's resolution. I haven't done socks yet, but maybe after Christmas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gauges? We don't need no stinkin' gauges...

The first thing any experienced knitter will tell a novice is not to underestimate the importance of gauge. "A gauge swatch will tell you if your knitting will end up too big, too small or just right." Ah yes, the Goldilocks approach to knitting.
But I'm more of a fly the the seat of your pants kind of knitter. A knitter who says, "to hell with your gauge swatches!" I am now also a knitter whose fabulous mohair sweater will probably be too small.
The more careful crafters are tsk-tsking away now. What's that carpentry saying -- "measure twice, cut once"? Not quite the same thing, but the sentiment is the same: more prep time equals less mistakes.
Ok, to be completely fair to myself, I did measure my gauge. I even took it in the round, since this sweater is done in the round (whether this is truly necessary, I'm not quite sure -- I've seen arguments both ways). However, what I didn't take into consideration is that I would change my entire method of knitting after I took the gauge. Remember my epiphany about combination knitting? It was like a lightening bolt and my knitting is so much faster. However, my knitting is now also tighter. Whereas my gauge was initially correct at 10 1/2 rows and 14 stitches to 4", my current gauge (which I didn't bother to check until I was ready to separate for front & back) is now closer to 12 rows and 16 stitches. Which leaves me 5 inches short on the body of my sweater.
What to do? I am not an advocate of frogging, and especially not when it's mohair. The sweater was meant to be big, so hopefully it will just be a bit more snug than intended. I'm still working it, and when I get to the sleeves and cowl neck, I'll use bigger needles to get the correct gauge. If it's too small, it will be a Christmas present (although a part of me will cry inside).
So, what's the lesson of the day? If you want to try a new method of knitting, don't start it in the middle of a project. And if you must, then check your gauge.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

grown up stuff and not so grown up stuff

Grown up stuff: Rich finally got a price estimate for his sinus surgery, and while it ain't cheap, we'll actually be able to pay for it. It will pretty much gut the savings, which kind of sucks, but it won't kill us. Thank goodness for the recent pay raise and its retroactiveness (I know that's not a word, but it's less wordy than, say, "thank goodness my recent pay raise was made retroactive to what should have been my review date"), which gave me a fat check. It sucks that his insurance is so crappy that we have to pay this much, but he'll actually be able to breathe after, so it's worth the expense. But it does wipe out the funds which I had thought of as our moving fund -- first & security deposit, movers, etc.

Not so grown up stuff: I finally bought an iPod. I've wanted one for a long time, and my brother-in-law works for CompUSA, so he gets a 25% discount. So I took a small chunk out of the retroactive pay check and sent it off. Hopefully it will get here in time for camp.

Camp starts next weekend. I volunteer at our (my work's) camp for kids up near Big Bear. This will be my 6th year up there. It's always tiring yet rewarding.

Kickball starts tonight. I'm more or less doing it so that I know I'll see Richard at least one night a week. Knock on wood that I won't sustain any injuries that prevent me from knitting & crocheting like my jammed finger did last season. Our team name is "Don Rickles with a Chainsaw." I'm not kidding.

I'm so proud.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

just breathe

ok, the whirlwind is over, for now at least. Work has been crazy of late, but now one of my major work projects is completed (we'll find out whether it's approved later this month, but at this point, that is almost secondary), so I can take a bit of a breather.

I found the work camera. I thought I had lost it, and was trying to come up with convincing excuses why we had to buy a new camera, but I found it in a bag of yarn. Why it was in the yarn, I don't know, but that's not important.

So a few photos to give some project updates:

1. Finished Baby Camo Vest
I think I need to purchase a baby/child dress form, so that I can create my own baby patterns. Most of the patterns that are readily available just aren't very cute, and I just know I could come up with better stuff, but having no children available for trying things on, I need a substitute.

2. Seraphina Shawl
The colors are a little washed out in this photo, but it is almost done. The stumbling block is the row in which I'm carrying this frindgey metallic yarn -- pain in the ass to crochet with. I do a little at a time and then it bugs me, so I put it down. Hopefully I'll finish it when it gets a bit cooler -- it's hard to work up the nerve to crochet a big wool shawl when it's 90 degrees and 83% humidity (WUWT? This is LA -- we're not supposed to have humidity like this! Ick.)

3. Interweave cowl-neck sweater
As you can see, the progress is a bit limited. I am not exactly the world's fastest knitter, and I do have multiple projects going at the same time, but I figure I'll get some quality knitting time up at camp (between activities and after the kids have gone to bed -- ha!). But I love love love this yarn. It's so beautiful. I hope to finish this in time to get some good use this fall/winter.

I'm also making some good progress on the back of the Japanese Sunburst tank. Hopefully, it will be finished soon enough to get some good warm weather use out of it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Knitting, for a change of pace

I decided to ick up the knitting again, as I've been rather crochet intensive of late (Screech, Baby Camo Vest, Party Princess Sweater, Japanese Sunburst tank, etc.). I'm making the mohair cowl-neck sweater from the Winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits using the hand-dyed loopy mohair that I bought up in Oakland at the Fiber Arts Market. It's knit in the round, so the stockinette body is just knit row after row, so I figured it would be a good project to work on while I'm up at camp in a few weeks (because lord knows that I am not a fast knitter).

But then on Tuesday, before SnB, I was watching Knitty Gritty, and it was the "Home is Where the Knit Is" episode with Annie Modesitt. I've heard of Annie before (my sister has met her and I even think Annie blogstalks Crazy Aunt Purl), so I knew that Annie was a proponent of "combination knitting," which just sounded hard to me.

Let's back up a step: I learned how to knit by sitting down with the first Stitch n Bitch book and just following the diagrams, and because Deb Stoller knits using the English or throwing method, I did too. Now, after Jenny met Annie, she suggested that I learn combination knitting because it used both hands, like crochet, and was faster because you never dropped the right hand needle. I didn't listen, frankly because why should I take advice from a girl who refuses to learn how to knit (Jenny is exclusively a crocheter). But I was still frustrated by how slow my knitting was. Mel, of Remarkable Cow, suggested I learn continental knitting, which also doesn't involve throwing, but I never could get the hang of it.

So back to Knitty Gritty. I was watching the episode, and they used the Knitty Cam to do a closeup on Annie's hands as she knit, and for whatever reason, it just clicked with me. She held her yarn in the left hand, knit through the back stitch and never dropped her needles. So when I went to SnB that night, I tried it. And it worked. The combination method seemed so much more fluid than stopping every stitch to throw the yarn. I'm still not completely comfortable with it, but the speed I'm going now (after a grand total of 2 days) is about the same speed I'm going doing English method (which I've been doing for over a year), so with practice, it should improve. I haven't tried purling yet, but I'll get there. I'm very excited by this new possibility of fast, fluid knitting.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


My lovely friend Ellen was kind enough to forward her photo of the owl once she read that I didn't have one. I warn you, this photo could damage retinas if you stare at it too long. I give you Screech, the World's Scariest Owl.

Look away! Look away! It even gets better, as I filled in the chest with bright yellow & bright orange fringe. It was awful, but in a good way. I am so proud of it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Crochet Fame!

The new issue of Crochet Me is up (it was probably up yesterday, but I've been in work-induced fog and forgot to look), and included is my sister's Hippy Vest Pattern! I'm so proud!

Enough about her -- this post is really about how this is all reflected glory for me. If you notice, she mentions me briefly in the "about Jennifer" section: "My older sister taught me when I was bored on a Super-Bowl Sunday and I’ve been “hooked” ever since." That's me! I'm the older sister! (and, btw, the somewhat flowery description of the vest at the top is me, too. Jenny called me for help while I was at the WeHo SnB and I'd had a glass of wine or two.) Ooh, and I took the picture of her in the "About Jennifer" section -- in Nashville on our tour of Tennessee last year.

Ok, this really isn't all about me. I'm really very proud of Jenny. She has taken something I've talked about for a long time and she's actually done it -- she has written her own patterns and she's gotten them published. And she's inspired me to actually do some of the things I've talked about. The article I'm writing for the next issue of Crochet Me would never have happened if not for Jenny (ok, so she prefers Jennifer, but I'm family and I've been calling her Jenny since she was born, so I think I get grandfathered in). So a big congratulations go out to Jenny. I knew she could do it!

slightly controlled chaos

Every time I sit down to write a post, something comes up, so I'll make this brief so as not to tempt fate. Work has been crazy busy: I'm preparing three grant proposals that are due on Friday, I had to "volunteer" to help registration at our Valley Branch's golf tournament yesterday morning. At 7:30 a.m. In Thousand Oaks. I live in the Hollywood/Miracle Mile area. I was up much earlier than I am used to and I was wiped for the rest of the day. We're in the middle of our camp media push (it's the 20th anniversary of our camp for kids, so it's a big deal) and I'm fielding a lot of reporter phone calls -- which is a good thing, but it's just keeping me on my toes.

So blogging hasn't exactly been a top priority. AND, I can't find my camera, so no photos. Which sucks, because I've finished a couple of key projects lately.

First, for the Seattle wedding of our friends Ryan & Sara: A few weeks ago I posted that I was going to make the horrid vintage ski masks. Well, I didn't, primarily because I'm not a terribly fast knitter and because Rich wanted me to do a crochet project so that he could help (he relearned how to crochet and actually did crochet a few rows, so that the project was legitimately from the both of us). So instead, I chose possibly the ugliest pattern in the world: a 3' tall crochet and fringe wall hanging of an owl. It is truly hideous, and luckily, Ellen & Faith managed to snap photos at last week's WeHo SnB, so maybe I can track those down. We presented the owl on Sunday at the post-wedding brunch and it was a hit. I think it was truly appreciated in the spirit with which it was made -- hi, we created this truly horrific thing for you because we love you. Hope you enjoy it!

Second, during our evil and seemingly never-ending airport experience on Sunday while we were attempting to get back to LA, I finished the mock denim vest from Candi Jensen's "Candy Babies" book. I used a hand-dyed cotton chenille in yellow, beige,brown & green (kind of looks camoflage now), and I trimmed the edges in a fluffy beige GGH yarn (can't remember which one -- I should probably figure that out). It's very cute and it's for Rich's best friend's baby boy who is due next month. All these preganant friends and new babies are starting to give me the baby itch. It's not super strong yet, just a gentle tickle, but I have a feeling these things only get stronger. Hmm. It's probably good for me to lay off the baby stuff for a while, so now I'm working on the mohair pullover sweater with deep cowl neckline from the Winter 2005 Interweave Knits. I've always loved working with mohair in August...