Thursday, November 01, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
Just like I promised! I'm going to try, unofficially, for NaNoBloMo (where you blog every day in November.) It may be a terrific failure, but I'd like to just keep it a fun way to get back into the habit of updating.

I was afraid it had been a month

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

but, thankfully, it hasn't been! I've got no pictures for you, but I have a good reason: I've been spending lots of time both looking for a job (and not knitting much) and spending time with the boyfriend. Didn't know I had one? Well, he's a newish addition to my life, but a welcome one! We like geeky things, he's super smart (and handsome) and he even went to a fiber festival with me and we petted the bunnies. I have started a new vest, Cambridge, from Rowan Classic Alpaca. Obviously I am not going to use their expensive-ass alpaca, pretty as it is... no, I am using a squooshy extra-fine merino I picked up from Elann (link to actual yarn included, until it sells out.) I love it, but it's a tiny bit stringy; a small price to pay for stretchy, bouncy, the-perfect-color (an academic golden olive), merino. For whatever reason my gauge is way off with it, so instead of using 6s, I'm using 3s. I even used a 2 for the ribbing. Clearly, this yarn is not dk, but the fabric is great and soft. I'm knitting it as a Christmas gift for my mom (because I'm a masochist, who loves having her hard work felted). Since I'm not an idiot, I showed her the pattern and color first and got a thumbs up.

Anyway, for the next couple days I am holed up in the bf's apartment, eating all of his fruit roll-ups and going to job interviews. So, no pictures, sorry! (Also, I cut all my hair off. It's really cute! I promise I'll show you soon!)

What is meditation like?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I finished my cashsoft 4 ply vest tonight, excepting the buttons (the ones I bought are too large. Damn!) But, since I'll have no camera til the weekend, I thought I'd tell you a little about what the experience of meditating regularly has been to me. I know from the outside meditation came seem really foreign, or pretentious even. For the first month, I felt silly. I still practice in privacy, though I'll have to get over it eventually, especially if I ever want to go on a retreat or live with someone again!

The closest experience I had in my pre-buddhism days was when I went swimming with a big raft in the ocean near Myrtle Beach, SC with my grandparents. I was 7 or 8, if I remember correctly. My grandfather was an ex-marine, and always trying to toughen me up. So, to scare me out of holding my nose when I swim, he flipped the raft on top of me, thinking I'd swim out from under it. I was so overwhelmed, it was completely dark and I didn't have any breath left in me. While I don't doubt it was my brain's reaction to the lack of oxygen and the paralyzing fear, I had the strangest peaceful feeling. Everything I associated with as my hands, my feet, my hair... suddenly none of it seemed attached to the part of me that was in the water. That stuff seemed to dissolve, leaving behind just the purified elements, floating comfortably in the dark, content. A minute later my grandfather dragged me up to the beach where I threw up a lot of really salty, disgusting water and my grandmother gave my grandfather the worst tongue lashing I have ever heard.

Now when I meditate the feeling is often the same. It's not that I imagine fields of flowers or world peace... instead of forcing a connection, I force a disconnection with my body, with the ground and the temperature and my surroundings. I went out tonight it was in the 40s - pretty cool. But for some reason I felt compelled out the door in bare feet and I have to admit that at first, it sucked. The concrete dug into the skin on my legs, my shoulders and back were taut with cold, and all I could think of was "Just go inside. Are you crazy? It's past midnight. You're sitting outside in the dark, it's cold, just go to bed." But, I continued to sit and dispel thought after thought, layers of the old and new slipping off. After a while the cold passed, my ankles didn't ache, my back relaxed somewhat... and I felt that same feeling that I had back then. Of being surrounded by things that couldn't touch me.

Whenever I read about people like Thích Quảng Đức, I begin to understand how you could withstand such a thing. While he is a great hero to many still, I wouldn't advise self-immolation as a form of protest. The most amazing aspect, though, is that he sat without making a sound, while burning. I have no desire to meet such an end, but I really admire what must have been a devoted practice of many years to be able to detach so well from something so overwhelming (or at least enough to not scream bloody murder.)

If you've ever thought about meditating, try it. Al you have to do is sit. That's it! Just sit, and in time, let your surroundings fall away. Don't acknowledge them or they'll come rushing back. As a friend who had a tattoo told me, "it didn't hurt because I had been practicing right before... but as soon as I thought, 'hey, this doesn't hurt,' I felt it and it hurt!" The human mind is an amazing thing.

For Your Consideration:

Friday, October 05, 2007

I've been thinking for a while now about making the blog bilingual. Not necessarily because I am just inundated with foreign readers, but because my own language skills need to be maintained, and my knitting vocabulary is pretty pathetic! I've been looking into ways to make it easy for users to change language, without making English viewers read double posts. Some bloggers have varying answers to this - the most popular is being able to choose your language from a pull-down bar or tab and have the entire page convert. My computer skills just aren't up to that, though, so I'd like your opinions. Would it be really annoying to have a French language version of a blog post in with the English (my guess is yes, but y'all might be more forgiving) or should I make a twin blog with its own URL - i.r. or similar? I just worry that maintaining links, comments, etc for two separate blogs might discourage me from posting regularly.

If you have an opinion (that isn't completely rude and left anonymously, LOL) let me know in the comments or via e-mail.

Here's a fun bit that I learned recently though - you know that awkward silence in conversation that sometimes occur? In French, it's un ange est passe, literally "an angel is passing." You'd use it like this: Quand j'ai mentionné que j'etais enceinte, un ange est passe. - "When I mentioned I was expecting (pregnant), an awkward silence fell." I'm not expecting, of course! But I thought it was funny, and another step towards talking like a 'real' person. :)

ETA: Here is a link to a bilingual blog discussing the "Ten Commandments" of bilingual blogging. Some of these just aren't possible, but I thought it would be interesting reading for anyone else considering such a venture.

Bloggers' Day for Burma

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You'll find this blog "silent" today (intentionally) to join the protest not only the lack of information freedom, but the overall feeling of terror and helplessness in Burma. At one point some friends had a contact there that was collecting money to help feed the monks (since they are refusing food or alms from military families), but that person has since disappeared and has yet to resurface. The worst is feared, considering the number of unreported deaths that have been occuring there.

It is utterly shameful and depraved for a group to seek out and destroy the lives of those who oppose war peacefully. If you've ever thought that pacifism wasn't powerful, then perhaps you can explain to me why so many lives are being taken away because of it! If you have the stomach for it, look here to see some photos of what is really going on there. The photos are graphic, but so is death and that doesn't go away because we close our eyes.

Rather than feeling guilty or helpless, try to turn your mind towards peaceful and lovingkindess towards those close AND far away, even your enemies. Express your thanks that the place you live in is comparatively safe. Even if tears can't save lives, they can at least mourn what is lost and affirm that there is heartbreak, loss, and terror - not just a story on the news. This blog will return to normal tomorrow, but Burma (and Darfur, and and and...) won't.

ETA: For those who haven't bothered to read but feel necessary to criticize, there is no feasible way to donate money to the monks in Burma at this time. Any packages or $ sent will be redirected to the Junta, which will cause more hurt, not relief. I wish this weren't the case, and you can be assured that if the opportunity to help presents itself, I (and many others) will.

Christmas Spread - October

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
Here's where I am on the Christmas knitting. Three scarves, three pairs of socks, and a hat/fetching set. I have at least one more scarf, one pair of fetching, one pair of socks, and a hat left to go. Whether I get there or not is immaterial; I refuse to stress. Gift cards are your friends if you don't get far enough down your list of people deserving on knitting love.

For the last couple years, I've been working on this principle - if you don't get a gift this year (and you deserve one, obviously) you'll get one next year or the next. People who got knitted gifts the year before are moved to the bottom, and work their way back up. I knit for gifts all year round, mostly because you can only wear so many small woollen goods! Another good thing? With the exception of the green scarf on the left (which I'll give you a closeup of here in a second) all of these are from stash. :D

I've been doing well on the stash front. I have no real desire to buy yarn. There are lots of things that I have yarn for and want to knit, so that helps. It doesn't mean I don't want bag upon bag of DK-weight extra fine merino which seems to be flooding ebay and the internet stores right now. I'm sure I'll break... eventually. But not now! My savings is actually going up, little by little! Yay!

Here's the aforementioned finished green scarf:


It's the scarf I knit for my friend Tyson, until reality stepped in and pointed out that Los Angeles does not require an alpaca scarf. So, it's being repurposed and sent to Vancouver instead, and I'll knit something more useful for him! The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Pea Soup Mix, easily the prettiest green I have ever seen. Berroco in general has stepped it up when it comes to yarn AND patterns since Norah went on board with them. Go Norah!

I've been away.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
Not really, I just haven't had access to a camera and I find posts without pictures to be sort of... dull.

I'd like to introduce you to Otta Owl. She'll be going to live with my niece for her third birthday, accompanied by a copy of Owl Babies. Isn't she cute, with her fetching scarf? The pattern is from And So To Bed by Lucinda Guy. (Note that I didn't buy my copy from Laughing Hens, but they're a great resource for seeing all the pattern pictures and requirements!) Otta was fun to knit, but a pain in the ass to seam and complete. The pattern called for 14 separate pieces, which seemed excessive to me so I knit everything in the round except her wings (which I seamed with fabric):


I thought it gave Otta a charmingly handmade look, and I got to work on my sewing ever so slightly. (Newsflash: it still sucks! *grin*)

Here's a shot of her round little body from the back, showcasing her cute tail:


I like her, but I won't be making another one. If you decide to make an Otto or Otta for yourself, I would suggest the following: knit the body in the round, along with her ears. Sew on felt or fabric eyes, rather than do the annoying colorwork. Sew a flat fabric bottom with perhaps a beanbag or something in the bottom. This otta is more like a pillow than a stuffie!

I've been rolling right along on the Christmas gifts, having finished a broken rib scarf (which I didn't bother photographing, it's very plain.) out of stash, and cast on for a stole/washcloth out of some Great Adirondack Handspun Cotton:


Yep, the color is really that bright. I say stole/washcloth because I'm doubting as to whether or not the ball of yarn I have will complete a full stole. It may end up a scarf. Who knows? The color is absolutely perfect for the recipient, so I know she'll love it regardless of what it becomes!

Cross it off the list...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I finished these socks up yesterday in the early morning (like 4am early, after falling into bed at 8pm...bliss!) They're a Christmas gift for my 'aunt' (really a great-step-cousin, but that makes her feel old apparently.) I have to tell you... if I hadn't liked the colors so much, I never would've finished them. First, the skein had three knots, and a bunch of dark blue strips that showed up all over the socks like they had blueberry measles. Not to mention that Opal feel... pure steel wool. I like soft things, and I recognize that everything can't be soft. That's okay with me. But this Opal and Trekking have always felt like they had tiny shredded bits of tin cans in the yarn. Needless to say, I won't be buying anymore Opal!

While covering at the Knaughty Knitter yesterday, I had time to knit the first sock of this pair:

Panda Cotton gift socks in seed rib

In Panda Cotton Print in 'Circus' which is oddly the SAME colors as the previous Opal socks! Totally unintentional... obviously I need some sunshine and rainbows in my life. Anyway, I managed to complete 1 and 1/3 socks in 24 hours, which must be some kind of record for me. (A record that I have no life :B) They're going to be accompanying my best friend on her road trip across the USA, so they need to get done.

While I was working, I found the yarn I've been looking for (seemingly) forever.

knitting 004

Three skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Pea Soup Mix. It's a lot prettier than the name would imply! It's a nice bright olive color, with flecks of gold, orange, and darker green. Just perfect for Forbes Forest! The Ultra Alpaca is a worsted yarn, so it's heavier than the dk called for... so I'm not sure what to do. I mean, the color is just what I wanted. Not too dark, not too bright, heathered without being distracting, soft without excess fuzz... I could either make the scarf as is and have a stole size, or cut out the center cable and replace with a smaller one. I'm not there yet, but it's on my mind.

Lastly, I'm edging closer to the finish line on my Thermal-ish Vest:

Thermal-ish Vest in Cashsoft 4 ply

I've finished the back and part of the left front. I've got the rest of the left (just straight up to the shoulder; the decreasing is done at this point.) and the remaining right front, plus the edgings and various small finishing tasks. I'm hoping it fits like I want - my Cashsoft DK vest isn't as snug as I wanted, even with two inches of negative ease, so this best has four inches' worth. It feels weird knitting a 32" bust for myself, but knits are not like clothes. They seem to actually fit BETTER when they're smaller (within reason of course.)

The parents are taking the camera on an anniversary trip so photos and posts will be sparse for a couple of weeks. I'll photo any FOs, of course.

Schaefer summer sweater T

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
I followed the pattern for the Anthropologie Capelet (at peonyknits, just google it) down to where you slip the sleeve stitches onto a holder. I then joined the body (where the 'v' is) and knit around, keeping the YO detail down the sides to give me a convenient place to increase.

It's very comfortable, and not as thin as most cotton sweaters. It'll definitely help regulate the temperature for me at knitting groups, where I seem to rocket from cold to hot and back again constantly.

I used two full skeins of Schaefer Laurel (I have two more in this color, if someone wants to swap) which were 225g each, so I used up 450g for this sweater. I did buy one ball of Silkroad Aran at my LYS the other night, but it was needed for a project I'll be casting on soon.

I'm getting down to the wire on three gifts I need to have done by the end of September - two going away gifts for my best friends who are moving to Los Angeles (a pair of socks for him [worsted weight] and a shawl or something for her.) I also want to knit my niece a present, since she LOVES everything I've ever knitted for her! :) (She actually screamed when my sister tried to take a dress I made off. I think that is so cute... maybe not so to my sis, though!)

Just let it go.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter

There's been a lot going on in my world lately, not all of it good. But if there's any Buddhist philosophy that's served me recently, it's accepting that life gives what it gives. Things are never 'as they should be' they only ARE. So it's with that spirit that I write this post. :)

The Celaeno socks are coming along. I finished the pattern, but er... it's 7 pages long. Granted, I haven't changed the font and shrunk it (right now it's huge; don't worry about it being too small!) but I also haven't added the cable chart. Er.. I think my problem is that I want things to be TOO clear, and especially when there is sizing involved, it can get REALLY cluttered with extra notes, etc. On the plus side, it will be very clear and have not one, not two, but four (I've knit two different ones now) samples. So you will have a very clear picture of what to expect!

I'm also knitting a sweater that is coming along swimmingly! (This picture has unintended boobage, scroll past it if you're at work. *grin*)


It's two strands of Schaefer Laurel held together. A top down raglan with eyelet details and a perfect fit so far. I haven't decided whether or not to use short sleeves (pros: less knitting, more appropriate for summer; cons: shows exactly how untoned my arms are, not really work appropriate) or long sleeves (hides arm fluff, is work appropriate, but is more knitting.) Can you tell I want something to just be finishedand wearable? Not to mention I have 800g of Laurel to use, and it's so quick knitting that I think I can knock my total stash gs down by a good bit by mid month!

I also did a little stash enhancing. I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but I had a credit from The Loopy Ewe from a site referral (thank you, whoever clicked through and bought yarn! I hope you had a good experience!) so I decided to use it. One skein of Fleece Artist 2/6 Merino sock in Rainforest:

Fleece Artist 2/6 in Rainforest

And two skeins of Shibui sock in Spectrum (which is still in stock at Sheri's as of this post):


I wasn't sure if I should blog about this last thing. But I guess I wanted to hear your thoughts. I cooked dinner for the family on Sunday... and not from a can or box. Marinated and grilled tofu, balsamic asparagus, and mashed potatoes with gravy. They ate it, said it was really good, etc. Fast forward to this morning... my mom leaves her e-mail open all the time, with its own tab. I clicked over today by accident while trying to get to Ravelry. I clicked back again... but not before I noticed that she had written her friend (who, admittedly, I don't like much) saying how awful my cooking was. She actually used the word awful.

I am so, so hurt. Mostly because she lied, and if she knew me at all she would know that I'd rather have constructive criticism than fake compliments. ESPECIALLY if you are going to turn around and slam what I've done! This isn't the first time she's done something like this, either... She always had a smart remark to make to her friends about me, I guess thinking I was deaf? I can understand that a parent isn't always thrilled with what their kids do, but how unbelievably disappointing and juvenile is this behavior? Really!

I just had to get that off my chest. Sorry. It's so depressing when your own mother uses you as the butt of a joke among her friends, whereas my father would probably punch someone if they made fun of me. *sigh* I'll be working on letting this go in meditation tonight...

Placed Cable Gone Awry

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Placed Cable
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter

While the yarn is soft, that's pretty much all I like about this sweater (and the pattern.) It was definitely NOT written for those of us with some frontage up top. The sleeves as written - 17.5" - are way too short (by about three inches.) The body is also too short for my taste.

I haven't decided yet whether I should just give it away (I'd rather not) or unpick the bottoms of each part and lengthen them. I have about half a ball left (over 100 yards) and I might rip out the cowl too, which doesn't lay at all. At least it was a quick knit! I finished the pieces on the 28th (including the cowl.) While trying it on, though, I realized this was going to fit something funky, and avoided doing the seaming until last night. (Hoping it would grow in my sleep, maybe??)

To be fair, I think I have broad shoulders, though this has yet to be confirmed. That would explain the weird sleeve fitting. On second thought, maybe I'll rip out the cowl and gift it instead... it's pretty obvious to me that this sweater was meant to be knit with a good amount of ease, on a small-busted gal. If you want to knit the Placed Cable for yourself, definitely give yourself some positive ease and add some bust shaping if your girls are bigger than a B. :)

In other knitting news, I'm rewriting the pattern for my Celaeno socks. The originals were knit last year, but when the iBook went kaput, it took the pattern with it. Now I'm knitting it again, this time out of a delicious ShiBui sock yarn from Haus of Yarn. The color is Midnight, appropriate since Celaeno (the harpy, not the wife of Poseidon) means 'darkness.' Here's a shot of the yarn, and you just see the sock in the background:

Harpy Socks

I'm going to need a couple test knitters for this pattern, one who has very small feet, and one who has larger feet (though not as large as a man's.) If you can knit these for me, I'll provide the yarn to knit them, and a free copy of the pattern once it's done. You can keep the finished socks, of course, but I do want to have them for a day or two to take photos.

About the pattern: It has a lot of cabling, though not a lot of cables. Nothing as intense as the Bayerische socks, but there are a lot of little 2-3 stitch twists. If you've never cabled before, I don't think this would be the best pattern to learn on! I need the two test knitters to give me feedback on the pattern and let me know what's confusing or unclear. If you think you can do that, please email me at nararabbit (AT) yahoo (DOT) com. If you can, point me to a gallery of your finished works so I can poke around. I am on Ravelry, so galleries there are okay too! Thanks!

Edited to add: I now only need a test knitter for the larger size. If you choose to knit this pattern for me, you'll be knitting it in Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ivory. Just so you know!

Placed Cable Aran 8/22/07 and a Contest

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Though I'm savoring drifting in and out of foggy dreams where I'm chasing my old high school friends through underground subway mazes, one can't sleep ALL day, and I didn't have the mental energy to add 2+2, so I knit. The body and one sleeve of the Placed Cable Aran is now finished, and the second sleeve has about 2.5" on it. This thing has gone quickly! I have a little neck shaping to go on the front, the rest of the second sleeve, and the cowl, plus finishing.

Tell you what... we'll make it a contest. Keeping in mind that I am hot and sleepy from illness, guess when the PCA will be finished (as in seamed, blocked, and photo'd) and you will win a prize from the stash (your choice from some selections!) I will tell you that tonight I'm teaching, and then will probably come home and fall asleep while studying, so I doubt any real knitting will get done for the rest of the day.

So, leave a guess in the comments with an exact day (i.e. September 1st, or August 30th, etc.) If no one guesses the right day, I reserve the right to keep my precious yarn! ;)

ETA: This contest is open to internet folks only. If you see me at any of the knitting groups, you're not eligible, since it's unfair advantage! Sorry!

Fever Dreams

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

True to form, I woke early this morning covered in sweat and with my head pounding. A fever! I haven't had one of those in a while; truth be told I enjoy them if I have the day off, because I have the most f'ed up dreams. Plus, that feeling when the fever breaks... everything suddenly feels cool and delicious, the pain in your head recedes, and you sleep the sleep of the dead.

I'm not there yet though, so my to-do list for today:
_ laundry, sheets (15 min)

_ empty dishwasher (10 min)

_ vacuum floor(s)

_ put all books onto shelves (1 hr)

_ put away all loose yarn in proper homes (20 min)

_ study GRE at least 30 min (30 min - 1 hr)

_ work on current book(s)

_ remake bed (10 min)

_ listen to BBC Francais for 1 session while knitting, sewing, or drawing

_ swiffer bathroom floor (yuck!)

_ work on MS3


_ sleep all day, maybe take a shower later, go back to sleep after eating 1/2 box of gummy bears for sustenance. ;) See y'all later...

I am in love.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
My Minimalist Cardigan is done, and I love it! The length, the sleeves (perfect for those of us always at work, pushing up their sleeves over and over again!) I even love the rolling edge. I toyed with sewing a lining to the front edges, but the rolling really does make it nice, and has the added benefit of letting a bit of ruffled blouse peek out underneath. This particular top is a sleeveless number from Banana Republic that's been languishing in the closet... obviously it was waiting for this sweater to be born.

Anyway, I love it. It'll be perfect for studying for the GRE (yep, I said it... I'm both terrified and thrilled at having a direction for once.) and, eventually, reading in the Bodleian. (That dream might be a while in the making, though!) The yarn, even though the gauge was off, is the perfect one in my opinion. Soft, but with a good amount of body, and it shows off the stitch definition beautifully due to the bit of silk. I've no idea where to get the stuff on sale, as it's pretty dear otherwise (about $9/ball, I used 12.5 for a 38" size). I just look for it on sale and then stash it for the future.

Here's another shot, check out that perfect late summer sky:

Minimalist Cardigan

Now that the Mini is done, am I resting on my laurels? You ought to know better... I started this beauty:
Placed Cable Aran
It's the Placed Cable Aran from the same issue, Interweave Fall 2007. I'm using Malabrigo in Sunset, a warm ochre gold. I was initially unsure of the intense color, but I loved this photo by Brooklyn Tweed, which decided it for me. And I'm glad I went with this one; the color is so utterly perfect for fall! You know how sunlight shines through the yellow and gold leaves, making them seem like they're glowing? Yeah. It's that color.

By the way, I hope I didn't freak anyone out with yesterday's post... it was just on my mind, with fall and me realizing I am the same age now as Rob was when he was killed. Life is strange, the way it sneaks up on us!

Totally unrelated to knitting

Friday, August 17, 2007

For those here for the knitting: I'm still finishing the sleeve of my Minimalist Cardigan. The moss stitch that I was so enamored with at the beginning is now pure slog material. Thankfully I am almost up to the armpit... the rest of the post will likely be depressing, so if you're having a bad day, turn back now (but visit later if you don't mind.)

When I was born, all my brothers and sister were a lot older than me - I even have a photo of my oldest brother, Robbie, proud in his Navy uniform, and me as a toddler in what I *think* were my Easter dress clothes. Because of the age difference (and the fact that my half-siblings lived with their respective "other" parents most of my life), we weren't close. They looked out for me, babysat me when needed, and kept me entertained. But I never had a chance to know them the way most kids know their brothers and sister. There were no intimate, secret bond; the only shared activity I remember was brushing my sister's long, thick hair when she was thirteen. I know we must have been friends, because I don't remember any fighting, but like I said... I was really young when we all lived together.

The year I turned 8 (and I don't remember the date or season, if that tells you anything) my parents came to pick me up from school, early. That NEVER happened. Those of you who had working parents know what I mean when I say that you just KNOW something is wrong if they are there. I remember I had been playing, and the woman at the checkout desk gave me a weird, pitying look when I came through the door. My parents were standing there, as close as they could with becoming siamese twins. Just by looking at their faces, you couldn't really tell what was going on... no tears or anything dramatic like that. Just white faced and stony. When we got out of the school, they told me my next eldest brother, Jason, had been killed.

It's a weird feeling, being a kid and experiencing death. On one hand, you don't really understand the ramifications; at 8 you know what happens when you die, but there's a part of you, too, that can't comprehend the finality. He had picked on me a little the last time I had seen him, blaming me for ruining the guest towels (he skinned his elbow or knee, then wiped the blood off on them) and so to be honest, I wasn't that sad. I didn't get what it meant, of course, only that he had been mean and now had been hurt somehow. (I'm sure this sounds bizarre to you all.. maybe I was just a weird kid?)

We didn't talk about it much. I'm sure my parents spent a lot of time huddled in their room, and I lay awake for a few nights, but there was no real communication about it. I'm sure the wound was so raw for my dad (his father) that he was still processing it as well. Add to it that he died horribly - his spine crushed by a tractor during a Halloween hay ride - and knowing that he had survived for 45 minutes afterward. it was just a shock, pure and simple. Even later, at the funeral, I could not sit still. I made my sister (his sister) come outside and play with me, both of us in our dress clothes. I can't remember crying either.

Fast forward three years; my family has been recovering, though a silence has settled over the house and no one talks about anything but my horrible academic performance (they were nice about it, and helped any way they could, but I just didn' or our cats, or food, etc. Anything deeper was simply danced around. In the middle of the night (we're living with my grandfather while our very own house, the first one! is being built) I'm awakened by my dad. "Come downstairs," he says, in a strange voice.

The next part is blurry, but I'm standing in the doorway of the kitchen (which has one of those dutch doors that splits in half) and my mom has her feet curled up under her in the big stuffed chair. Her face looks awful and I just knew. I remember crossing my arms, mostly to keep it all together. "Robbie's dead," she squeaks out. (My mom is not a squeaker in any sense.) "How?" I ask, and I'm told his jeep flipped over into a ditch, and the safety equipment installed failed miserably, meaning a lot of steel squished him. He hadn't been drinking; he had only been reaching over to change a cd, and turned the wheel accidentally when he had done so. It never ceases to amaze me how large things can come to nothing, and small actions can have the biggest consequences...

Oddly, I don't remember anything after that point. Not because I fainted or anything dramatic like that, but my mind fast-forwards over the blank parts until I go back to school. I should mention that the back patio of my grandfather's house had hand-poured slabs, made by my older siblings in funny shapes that locked together like puzzle pieces. In each one were names, handprints, etc. It got ripped up when the deck was put down for the new owner, years later...

When I get to school, people know. I am treated differently, and am forced to work with a counselor because my school performance is so dismal. I get special treatment, getting missed assignments forgiven. If I get scolded, I tear up, get sent to an office, and get out of whatever trouble I was in. I read books under my desk during math, and ignored whatever instructions I was given. I lied about having done homework, and was a major pain in the ass. I really feel sorry for my parents now, having that to deal with on top of everything else. I don't think anyone ever talked to me directly about what had happened, they only talked about school. I hated it; having that feeling that teachers talk about you in the lounge and having nothing be private.

My school performance got better, if only because I graduated into high school (barely *sigh*) Most teachers didn't know anything about me then, other than the fact that my dad was a counselor at the same school. I didn't carry as much of the baggage to the new breed. I joined the Creative Coalition, lead by my English teacher who is so similar to Lupin from Harry Potter it's scary (he's not a werewolf though, of course!) I met other kids who had had screwed up childhoods, and they got where I was coming from, and treated me like a friend, not someone with a disease.

You'd think I'd had my fill by then... but no. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer that year. I was so used to being a grown up that when my parents told me, I simply said "Well, you'll probably want some time to be alone together. I'll be staying at [neighborhood friend]'s house tonight." Nothing much more was said, though I knew of course that she was nauseous a lot, had a million doctor's appts to go to, etc. Teachers inevitably found out (I think they may have called the school) and I got asked "How's your mom?" with regularity. The sad thing was, I didn't know. In my mind, she was either fine and just going through another rough time, or she was on the verge of death. My English teacher even had us read a book about cancer in which the person dies on the operating table in the end, something I think was totally inappropriate and still irritates me. But, I had friends, ones who knew me as more than "that girl" and I had the Creative Coalition. All the poems and stories I wrote were about people going through shit times, then having epiphanies or lucky breaks. and I actually won a couple awards, which was nice for my ego. I was nominated for a leadership award my sophomore year (something I don't think I deserved, but I think the school counselor saw in me a lot of raw energy that could be used for good *grin*) and attended a seminar on that, which exposed me to a lot of very driven, charismatic kids. I was surprised to find that many of them had grown up in less than desirable circumstances too.

There have been a few blessings that came out of so much trauma - I can roll with just about anything. Father breaks his neck? As long as he's alive, it's all good. Boyfriend leaves you? Well, obviously he wasn't any good after all. Emotionally, I'm very strong, and I recognize the need to just get it out there. When someone I meet has been having a rough time of it, I'm prepared. (Don't say you understand, or anything else that isn't true. Just be there, squeeze their hand, and treat them like you always would, and maybe a little gentler.) I'm not afraid of anything for longer than a moment or two. I appreciate what I have, no matter how much or little. I've learned to let go with grace when it's time, rather than with an iron grip that must be pried off one finger at a time.

If you or someone that you've met are having a rough time for whatever reason, you can always feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment. I won't lie and say I understand every situation, but pain is never trivial to the person going through it, whether it's a pet, a partner, or even someone you barely knew. I'm ashamed to say I can no longer remember either of my brothers with clarity, but that should be a testament to the ability of the mind to heal on its own, over time. And if the day comes when I begin to forget entirely, I can always take out the ephemera - the first name tag from a first job, a photo of Jason with his first car, or look at the activism that filtered from from Jason's life (stealing all the styrofoam cups from the cafeteria and replacing them with paper ones! *grin*) into my own.

Though he is fallen asleep, God will not leave him
In this forgetfulness. Awakened, he
Will laugh to think what troublous dreams he had.
And wonder how his happy state of being
He could forget, and not perceive that all
Those pains and sorrows were the effect of sleep
And guile and vain illusion. So this world
Seems lasting, though 'tis but the sleepers' dream;
Who, when the appointed Day shall dawn, escapes
From dark imaginings that haunted him,
And turns with laughter on his phantom griefs
When he beholds his everlasting home.

Rumi, translation by R.A. Nicholson

Minimalist Cardigan, part 2, and a look towards the future

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I finished the body this afternoon and am now onto the sleeves. I don't think you can tell from the photos, but it has a kind of kimono collar - the straps that you see at the top are grafted together, then the edge is sewn against the back neck so that it will stand up. I don't know how I feel about the edging, personally. I know the pattern description says it is supposed to roll, and it's a "design feature" (we all know what that means. *wink*) but I find it very annoying. I am considering sewing a fabric facing and blocking the heck out of it to make it more... kimono like, and less like I am wearing rubber tubing over my lady bits.

Also, the sleeves increase a lot right about the ribbing, and while I like it on the model, it looks very blouse-y. I'll keep it, but I just thought you should know before you get there that there is no gentle increasing outward, just one free-for-all 16 stitches increased in one row. So, you may want to increase slowly along the seam line if that's more your style.

(Oh, and the sleeves aren't going to be elbow length on anyone who isn't 6' tall. As written, it's a 3/4 length sleeve on me.)

At one point, I had knit the entire body... only to realize that I had missed two decreases on the left front, meaning that from the armpit up, it had two extra stitches. To help my frustration, I dug around in the stash to begin thinking about the next project since this one should be done in the not-too-distant future. Out popped 9 balls of Artful Yarns' Candy, an elastic/cotton blend with a cool, tweedy mix of colors. (I'm using Sweet Tart, which is cream, aqua, purple, and blue.):
Artful Yarns' Candy swatch

At 20 sts/4 in prewashed, and 22 sts/4 in post wash, it does shrink a little. (This included a dryer, since I thought it would be a nice change to own a sweater that wasn't a pain in the ass to wash.) However, since I think this sort of yarn is better suited to more figure-hugging designs, I'll be knitting it at 20 st, then when it shrinks in the wash, it will have the perfect snugness required to frame my lady parts in all their glory.

In case you're wondering, it's nothing at all like Fixation or any other extremely stretchy yarns. If anything, it's more like a very elastic merino. Some give, but keeping tension was easy, though I did snag the loosely-spun plies a few times. I'm considering a top-down, deep-V long sleeve sweater, but we'll see. I have a few more days of work on the Minimalist Cardi, and when it's done I may just feel like knitting a t-shirt. :)

The Minimalist

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter

When I popped into Angel Hair on Monday evening to SnB (I like to spread myself around ;) and to see Charisse, I bought a copy of the Fall Interweave Knits. I had looked through the preview, and while it was nice, nothing screamed "Do me now!" (Well, that sounded bad. You know what I mean, right?!) But when flipping through the real thing, several things jumped out at me as needing to be added to my fall sweater closet immediately!

The Minimalist Cardigan, with its clean lines and nubbly texture, made me think of something you'd wear while tending the garden in a Buddhist monastery. (Please allow my imagination this flight of fancy.) You'd be raking over the soil, perspiring lightly in the cool early evening air. You stand up, weight resting on the rake, and squint against the intense orange sun of the fading day.) You can see why it appealed to me. Or maybe you think I have a problem. Either way, I'm up to the bustline now and about to split it to knit the fronts and back. Since the sleeves are cropped, I'm thinking this little cardigan will go quickly. And the yarn? Silkroad Aran, as usual. I bought it while in Myrtle Beach, SC back in the spring, at half off. I always buy some when I find it on sale, because it is my standby yarn for any sweater which must be both wearable and attractive. (The color is Venetian, a dark plummy brown. Much more monkish than cherry red!)

My next project (big sweater project, that is) will also be from this issue of Interweave, and probably the one after that too, though I ordered yarn for this one. I know, I said I wouldn't, but I've been really good and the Malabrigo was on sale, and in an INCREDIBLE orange-y gold that is also very Buddhist.

I'm a member over at Stashalong and the August challenge is to use use single balls that have been marinating for a while. I didn't think I had many... but look what I found while digging out all of that luscious Silkroad:

Single balls for August Stashalong challenge
Obviously I have my work cut out for me! Good thing I need to get started on birthday gifts/Xmas/going away/baby and so on. No idea if I'll get these all knitted, but I hope so. None of them is so objectionable that it deserves to be abandoned this way!


Friday, August 03, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
Sheri posted an entry about her cat, Zoe, who stretches out like a dog when she relaxes. We have a stretcher in the house too, though for different reasons. Munchkin (pictured) has a really fat ass*, and teeny little paws. Whenever she tucks her paws under, making a < ahref="">Cat Loaf, I think the weight causes her legs to fall asleep. She can never stand right up into Loaf Stance; she has to roll herself over on her side, fuss until someone rubs her tummy, THEN get up. Hey, she's an old lady (12)... she can do what she wants! ;)

*I don't think cat obesity is good, no matter how cute it is... and Munchkin's fatness has continued to confuse us and our vet. We only feed her a bit twice a day, but she lays her face down in the bowl and INHALES it. It's kind of disturbing. Anyway, she's otherwise healthy, and we're always trying to get her to play or exercise, but like I said, she's old. I just didn't want anyone to think I didn't care about her fatness. It concerns me. :*(

The Destash Vibe is Strong With You

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I finally took a dive and tried out toe-up socks. I've always admired the convenience of being able to use all the yarn you have (I have so many oddballs, ugh.) but I really do not like Magic Loop or Two Circs... I wasn't really invested enough in the idea to try a "real" sock (i.e. fingering weight) so when Wendy posted her free Southwestern Sock pattern over at The Loopy Ewe, I decided to give it a try. The stitch pattern is cute and easily memorized, and I didn't have to do a crochet cast-on, which I hate. I really love the Turkish cast-on - so easy! After that, though, not so much. It wasn't hard, really, just fiddly. I would definitely have to complete the toe before packing a sock to knit on while out and about; not so with a top-down sock. I put this one away, to work on later (since I really don't like the pressure of three pairs on the needles at once!) Not to mention the distance will give me time to decide if I like it. I mean... it's so thick. I hate hot feet, and I'm not sure I'll wear them. We'll see. I won't do anything rash, like give it away.. ;) But I could finish them and gift them to someone in a cold climate!

Here are the current socks in progress, mostly:
Cherry Tree Hill socks
In Cherry Tree Hill Potluck Supersock. This was a swap, and I still find it hard to believe that anyone could NOT love these colors. I mean... look at them! I cast these on almost a year ago, but the weeny little size 00 needles are killer on my hands and fingers so I don't see these getting finished with lightning speed or anything!

These are getting more attention:
Lisa Souza socks
Lisa Souza Merino! Sport in Violet's Pink Ribbon. I love the way these striped so perfectly, and they really remind me of my favorite food group, the cupcake (right down to the "sprinkles"!) I've finished the first one that you see in the photo, and am about halfway down the leg of the second. It would be good to finish this one in a couple days...

Goals for August: I don't know if the sock madness will continue, but I'm enjoying all the things getting finished right now. I have two, yes, TWO UFOs remaining, both only needing a little bit of work! One is a hat in RYC Silk Wool that is so pretty, but I just can't work up any excitement about it while it's still so hot and humid. I also need to weave in the ends of my Bird's Nest Shawl. Since the latter is for my mom's birthday on the 4th of this month, that will get done soon! (I also bound off too tightly, thought about it, and threw the little remaining yarn away to keep myself from ripping back. Kinda regretting it now...!)

Numbers for this July:

Grams Out: 1,850. Unbelievable, I know. The Quidditch sweater ate up a lot, and I sold 500 g, but still!
Grams In: 790! That's only 50g over my "allowance" of 740g (40% of what I used up.) Go me! ~~does the patented Bronwyn dance~~

Of course, I'm starting this month off with a deficit of 250g. Ack! It was Crown Mountain that did it - two skeins of Sock Hop (besides costing $43, UGH) add 150g, and the Loopy Ewe... well... they got this Handmaiden in. Mini Maiden, in Paris, specifically. Another 100g.
I only have to knit up 640g this month, tho, to make up for it! Yay! (Except, er, is going to have RYC Cashsoft 4ply next week. You all know how much I love Cashsoft so I could be in trouble there... send good destashing vibes my way this month, please! Thanks!

Socks On a Tray

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Socks On a Tray
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
I've finished a lot of socks lately - I guess it's the portability. With the house torn apart from the renovation, it makes life easy to keep everything in one Loopy project bag. No needing to keep up with pattern pages, or multiple balls of yarn. This does mean that MS3 has been set aside, but I think I'll live. It's stalled at the 3rd clue, and I'll keep printing out the charts until I get the intense desire to work on it...

For project specs on each pair, click on the photo above. I'll show you the new socks on the needles! tomorrow!

Bearclaw Scarfette

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter

Pattern: Bearclaw Scarfette

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy Sock in Giant Peach from The Loopy Ewe!

Time: About two weeks, give or take a few days.

Notes: This "little" scarf (over 90" long, oops!) went by quickly thanks to the frost flowers pattern, which was easy enough to memorize but changing enough that it wasn't boring. I knit 6 repeats, placed the live stitches on a holder, knit another 6 repeats and then grafted them together. You can't even tell where I grafted it, since I finished each pattern short one purl row before grafting (so, it was ready for a plain row either way, and the grafted stitches took its place.)

Up next? Socks, socks, and more socks. I have two finished ones, and their mates on the needles. Some of the contenders for the next couple pairs:


I have been good about using from my stash, largely. I did order enough Sundara to knit a small shawl, but since I've never used her stuff, the color was gorgeous, and I had a paypal balance left over from the destash, I am not worried in the least. (Now, the Loopy Ewe getting Handmaiden mini maiden? That is Not Good.)


Sunday, July 22, 2007

After staying up all night on Friday to read Harry Potter (it was worth it, of course) and then last night I kept waking up... over and over again.. this morning I am so tired and have to teach. I love the kids, but we are having a house painting party as soon as I get done, and no doubt I will be up late again. Can't I have a time turner, please, and sleep for a few hours? Maybe then this headache would go away...

(I had gotten behind on the mystery stole, by an embarassing amount. After finishing Clue 1 only a couple hours after it was released... then never touching it again til yesterday. I'm up to row 140 now, so clue 2 will be finished soon. Yay!)

It's Over.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I finished the final installment of HP at 6:55 this morning, having begun at 1:00AM. 6 hours. Pretty good time; even I was surprised by how quickly it flew.

Okay... THERE ARE SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS! PLEASE don't highlight the below text if you don't want my thoughts on very spoiler-ish events in the book, okay? Don't say I didn't warn you...

I was really upset about Fred. I mean... so sad. I really was not that shocked about Moody, I mean, he really didn't have a lot more to contribute to the story at that point. But really, I think the worst was Tonks/Lupin, and right after they became parents. I know Tonks loved Lupin (obviously), but THIS IS HER CHILD. Why would you abandon your new baby for a husband you already sorta know is toast? It seemed really selfish and weird to me. I'm glad the posse survived, and overall I really liked the storyline with Ron/Hermione/Harry on the run for months, and Ron even abandoning Harry at one point! I was actually pleased by that, I think it shows more of a real person than this abstract ideal of a best friend who never, ever wavers. I loved when Harry is approaching Voldemort, counting each heartbeat left to him, etc... VERY tense! However, I thought the whole 'dream' sequence was kinda hokey and it would've made far more of an impact if he had stayed you-know. Also, the final chapter? I didn't like it. I thought I would, but it seemed so... childish? It was cool to see all the kids grown up, with children of their own, but it was written almost like a fanfic, right down to the shipper's preference in pairing! Grown-up Draco was cute, too, heh. (Oh, and I am so pleased about Snape. YAY!! Not really surprising about Petunia, I always knew she was jealous.)

If you have any comments about the books, please email me privately or post spoiler-free remarks only. I don't want the book to be ruined accidentally, hence the highlighting, etc.

Eleventh Hour

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dates: July 4, 2007 - July 19, 2007. 15 days. Pretty good considering this thing's giant!
Pattern: A significantly altered (gauge, added stripes, changed neckline, knit in round, etc.) version of the Quidditch sweater from Charmed Knits. Such a cute book!
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton in Poster Blue (13 balls) and Moonstone (2 and a bit of a third.) The blue bled really bad the first wash, but the grey was sort of too warm anyway, and now it's perfect. The weight of this thing caused it to stretch about 2" in length, but since those sweaters are sooo long anyway, I don't think it'll be an issue. It's very hugging and flattering, believe it or not. (You won't have to believe for long; I'll get a photo of me in it tomorrow!)

The patch is from an ebay seller who does amazing HP patches. They aren't endorsed by WB, as far as I know, but here it is. The communication was good, the shipping cheapo but predictably not so fast (8 days, including weekends.) I really want one of her Auror patches too, it changes color in the light!

Overall, I liked this project and I'm really tempted to make another out of the green yarn that I have. (*the* green yarn? Who am I kidding? One of the many green yarns...) Or possibly hufflepuff, since it's been pointed out I look like Tonks, with my newly purple hair. (You heard me. No photo today, sorry!) I think, though, a more likely HP project will be a school sweater in charcoal, with the slytherin colors. I like all the houses, so I think it would be fun to have a whole wardrobe of different house clothing!

I will be offline til I finish reading Deathly Hallows, to avoid any spoilers. But, since it took me 6 1/2 hours to read number 6, and no doubt a reread will follow, it should only be a week or so. I won't be posting any spoilers on the blog, for obvious reasons. If I do feel the need to shout from the rooftops (and I can only think of one thing that would make me do that.. *hearts*Snape*hearts*) I'll make sure to black it out so you have to highlight to read it. Don't want to be ruining it for anyone else...

Oh, and I'll be baking pumpkin pasties tonight. :9

The FO train continues...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This little number is for a friend of mine, due with a baby next month. (Isn't everyone pregnant right now? It seems like it... must have been a very dull winter. ;)

Dates: Unknown, as it's been sitting in the basket for almost two months, just waiting for underarm seaming. Sad, I know!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora in Stone, two skeins, and Cashmerino Astrakhan in Teal, most of one skein.

Pattern: Placket-neck baby sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Love this pattern, I think this is my third?

I have at least another week's worth of FOs for you, so there should be plenty of blog fodder for a while. See you tomorrow with a new FO!

Ride the FO Train!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I used slightly less than 5 balls, on size 3 & 5 needles; it took almost exactly a week. =) The color is true on my monitor, it's "Crush" (bought from Elann last week for a song!)
Dates: June 28 to July 4 (4 am!)
Pattern: Cool Vest from RYC Classic Style, modified to knit in the round, using 3 needle bindoff on shoulders.
Yarn: 5 balls Rowan Cashsoft DK for 36" size

Pattern notes: Both the yarn and the ribbed pattern are very stretchy; if I make a similar vest, I should make it the next smaller size to incorporate some negative ease. It does fit, but it definitely looks better over a button-up rather than a t-shirt, etc.

Next up:

Beginnings of Quidditch Sweater (Ravenclaw)

A Ravenclaw Quidditch sweater from this pattern. I'd like to be able to wear it to the book release party in two weeks, and I think, barring any unseen circumstances, I can do it. Why Ravenclaw? I had the yarn for it! ;) Specifically, Rowan Wool Cotton in Poster Blue, a nice dark royal; I'll be hopping over to Angel Hair today to get the contrasting pale gray color. Not to mention the maroon/gold combo would look really gross on me, and I'd like a sweater I can wear "undercover" and not be recognized as a huge HP dork when I'd rather not. This yarn has been marinating for quite a while, so I'm happy that it finally has a destination.

Summer of Lace

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lace Stash
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter
I have been in a major lace mood lately, and will soon have a FO to show you. My Bird's Nest Shawl (supposed to be finished by Aug 4.,) has only 22 rows and a bindoff remaining, though each row takes exactly 15 minutes - so, about 5.5 hours of knitting time remaining, plus time to block the humongous thing. My mom wants a BIG shawl, so rather than knit it in laceweight, I'm knitting it out of Knitpicks Gloss in Cocoa on size 9 needles. I should've googled before going too far into it, because most people get a shawl around 100 inches long with laceweight. This thing is going to be a blanket!

The lace mood hasn't evaporated, so I joined the Mystery Stole 3 group over at Yahoo. I've never done a mystery shawl before, and I like her other designs, so this will give me a chance to try one. And, (you'll be so proud) I'm using stash yarn! That pale gray, over to the left? A cashmere/merino blend that I bought for $5 (about 3000 yards, I think!) at School Products in NYC. I hanked and washed about 1/3 of it, and boy, does it expand. Also, the water was filthy, so it had been sitting for a while. Oops.

So, what happens when I finish the Bird's Nest with some time to kill before June 29 (the day of the first clue release)? A lacy scarf is in order, either out of the Colinette Parisienne (middle bottom) which I have about 700 yards of, or out of the bright yellow merino cake (880 yards, next to the Basil Zephyr), or out of the Jade Sapphire Cashmere (400 yards, Lapis) on the right. I don't want anything super complex, so I'll be poring through my pile of lace books to find just the right thing...

Quittin' Time

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My mom has smoked as long as I can remember. My dad smoked too, but not like her. It's constant; anything stressful, she smokes. I don't want anyone to feel judged, but whenever I'm around a smoker I just feel gross, like I have a layer of grit on me (much like a city near a lot of factories.) the smell stays on you forever, yellows your teeth, gives you wrinkles around the mouth, and most important to me, it endangers you and your family. Every time I inhale second hand smoke (far more toxic than the filtered that the smoker enjoys) my lungs are clogged and blackened with toxins and I increase my risk of lung cancer. Multiply that by 24 years of exposure, and you can see why I might be concerned. Add to that a family history of cancers of all kinds, even in people who take care of themselves (including the current smoker) and perhaps you'll understand why I just freaking hate it with all my being. This is not a habit that hurts only you, it hurts everyone around you, whether you can see it or not. If you have kids (who don't already smoke, another downside to being a smoking parent) you should know that my relationship with my mom has never been as good as it could be. Why? I really resent that cigarettes are more important to her than her and her family's health. I think it's insulting, and for a long time I wouldn't go around them. My feelings were so strong - "Why would you risk your future with us for something so stupid? Do you not care about us at all? How are you going to feel if I become sick later; will you always wonder if it was your fault?" It sounds melodramatic now, but kids and teenagers feel every emotion intensely, and over time it builds up. So don't think that your kids don't care, even if they say they don't. They are hurt; they worry; they're angry. It will affect your connection in subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways.

I've never pushed my mother to quit (as an adult, anyway) because I know it has to come from her own heart for it to stick. That's why I am SO, SO, SO PROUD OF HER! Today is her quit day, May 8 (the day before my birthday =) and she has been doing it all right. Seeing a smoking cessation counselor, taking a class, getting gum, mints, carrot sticks, etc., (starting a new knitting project to occupy her fingers...) I hope you all will keep her in your thoughts, and us as well because smoking is a very hard habit to drop. Ultimately, though, she will gain something in return that can't be bought at a gas station - the respect of her friends and family, the joy of those who love her, and the feeling that she is finally doing something to care for herself, because she matters.

I should be clear and say that I dearly love my mom, and always have. I also respect her as a business woman and scientist, mom, and wife. It has been very hard to watch a woman that I nearly lost to cancer continue to hurt her own body, as if we didn't need her here! I hope no one misunderstands, but I wanted to be honest about what a child (even a grown one) feels about their parent smoking (or really, doing anything else detrimental to their health!) Just in case there are any parents thinking of quitting... DO IT! =D

Whistle while you work...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

And don't ever knit, sadly. I think I got in maybe 10 rows all week. I did try Carole's suggestion of a glass of wine at night, but I ended up falling asleep at 8pm so perhaps that's out. ;) Thankfully this week I have the day off on Thursday, which means if I can get my tired butt out of bed I will be at Thursday morning knitting group at The Knaughty Knitter! I won't be able to stay a whole long time, so if you wanna see me, roll up at 10 or 10:30 as opposed to noon. *grin*

So, I get my first paycheck May 20. To celebrate, I'm having a blog contest! I love to knit socks, and with no time to do it these days, I figgered I might as well share the wealth with some readers. Leave a comment (any emailed entries will be deleted, sorry) before May 20th, and two random, lucky winners will win a new ball of sock yarn from my stash! It's my choice, but you can suggest colors if you win. And yes, it will be "the good stuff." (To keep from being overwhelmed, once I have 100 entries I will close the comments. Just FYI.) You don't have to be new to knitting socks, but I admit it would make my little heart flutter to see it cast on rather than squirreled away for the next 20 years.

That's it. I'm going to lay down for a few minutes before going out to teach lessons. I hope you're all well, and while I don't know when I'll have something to show, rest assured y'all will be the first to see pictures when I do!

sunrise, sunset

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Apologies for the silence, but I started a new job! Yay! =D However, you may not see much of me, as almost every waking hour I am working. I am still running my side business on my own, and added another new student, so that means working sun up to sun down, every day of the week. Not much time for knitting!

I am making slow, but steady progress on the Shramrock sweater (one sleeve to go, then attaching it all and doing the neck left to do). If I get some daylight hours free (and I'll have 2 free hours Thursday A.M.) I'll try to get some pictures of that and the Panda Cotton socks I just finished!

Any suggestions you guys have for winding down before bed that DON'T involve television or the internet would be appreciated. This last week it seems I've come home, knit a few rows while watching Fairly Oddparents, and fallen asleep. I will say I cram in a chapter or two of A Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis) and I'm listening to Laurie R. King's "The Game" in the car, so reading is already on the list...

Vacation, or, why can't I do this once a month?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
The two and a half days in Asheville was really wonderful. The drive up there wasn't too bad, being only about 5-6 hours (and we stopped a time or two.) We stayed at the Aberdeen Inn, which I won't link as they're changing hands right now and I don't know what their status is. The house was just gorgeous - nestled in a well cared for residential neighborhood, up on a hill with a sloping lawn and lots of flowers (the ones that hadn't been killed in the frost, anyway!) Bonnie, who reminds me a lot of Paula Deen, greeted us at the door, showed us around, and got us settled in our room. One of the things that I really liked about this place was that she was totally nonplussed by my "special diet," even if Asheville has a larger veg community than usual. It's so nice not to feel like you're imposing by just being yourself!

The house is full of antiques, photos, etc. Each room was totally different, with ours being a sort of lavender-and-cream room. The bedspreads were those gorgeous bobbledy white cotton stuff (metelasse?) that you mind find at your grandmother's. A large clawfoot tub, desk with tissues (the good kind, with the nose lotion!) and books galore, including an Agatha Christie I hadn't read! Bonnie (the old owner) and Tom (the transitioning new owner) really did a lot to make us feel at home. Since we got into town on Easter Sunday, there wasn't a lot to do except read in the hot tub (oh, darn!) lounge in the living room nook with a pile of squashy pillows and a fire roaring, explore the grounds, and surf the internet (kindlt provided by an anonymous neighbor.)

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast (included in the tab, nice) of a spinach omelette with pepper sauce, two kinds of toast, three kinds of jam, a large, homemade fruit cup with starfruit, kiwi, melon, strawberry, and grape, yogurt, coffee, and orange juice. The 'rents also got some kind of specialty sausage, but I don't pretend to know if that was any good. We were served by the owner/chef Tom, who took time out to talk with us about his experience running a B&B in Chicago (which he just came from) between servings of coffee. I couldn't even remotely eat everything on the plate, which is a feeling I don't like. I will say the next day he altered the portion for me. Thanks, Tom!

We went on to Biltmore house. If you've never been there, you should definitely go. The huge size of it made for a creepy "compound" feel for me, but it was really cool looking into all the bedrooms, bathrooms, KITCHENS (happy sigh), and seeing so many Sargent paintings that I got a little lightheaded. I have always been a huge fan of his expressive oils, and seeing not just one, but five or sixe up close was something I'll never forget. (They're so smooth, the very opposite of what you'd expect!) You can't take photographs inside the house, which I understand. But I hope know I would have been posing in front of those in a heartbeat if I could have! Also, the library there, breathtaking. But not as large as I would have thought... We did pass right by a whole shelf of oversized, antique art books full of plates on obscure subjects. They should charge a nightly fee to let bibliophiles like me camp out, fire roaring in the massive fireplace, delicately fingering each tome like a precious necklace. What a dream that would be...

We also ate at the Winery restaurant, which did not offer many (if any) veg options. I ended up eating French Onion Soup, which was delicious, though I'm fairly sure it was made with beef broth (gross.) It was either that or sit there awkwardly, so I ate it and didn't think about it. They offer free wine tasting (21 and up, duh) in the winery shop, and that was really fun. Smart on their part as well, as I'm not a big wine person but I still came away with three bottles worth, and not just because the labels were pretty!

After that, my parents sacrificed themselves. Not by tearing out their own hearts, but by taking me yarn shopping (almost as bad in their eyes.) First up was Yarn Paradise, in an AWESOME house in Biltmore village (close to the All Souls Church.) They have Koigu mill ends there:

koigu mill ends

Prices ranged from $3-$11, depending on the yardage, dyeing, and number (or lack of knots). They also had a good variety of other yarns I haven't seen elsewhere, like Jitterbug, Claudia Handpainted Silk:

Claudia Handpainted Silk Lace

(Mine is in colorway "Midnight.")
, and everything Rowan you could ever hope for. Also, all the new Debbie Bliss yarns, including Soft Cotton, Stella, and whatever that 100% merino is. Very cool!

Next stop was Piece Gardens, which is sadly going out of business, so no linky. This cool shop made me ache for a quilt shop back home. Piles of Westminster (read: Rowan and Kaffe Fassett) and other "upper" fabrics, on sale 25%. There was a whole drawer FULL of westminster fat quarters. I think my total damage was about 16 bucks, and I got a bag full of gorgeous fabric squares. Too bad they're closing, it looks like it would've been a fun place to take a class or two.

After that was Earth Guild. I wasn't really impressed with this place, to be totally honest. They had a little bit of EVERYTHING, but didn't go at all indepth with any one medium. I did manage to buy a pack of silk hankies and a packet of Cushings dye to play around with, but I would be sad if this were my only LYS. If you're into weaving, they did have Dragon Tale yarns, which are cotton and rayon (smooth and slubbed) in very pretty hand dyed colors, on cones, for cheap.

The next day, Tom made the delicious fruit cups again, and a really yummy german pancake. The parental units got some kind of mozzarella and chicken sausage thing. They seemed to like it. =)

When we checked out of the B&B (as we had to get down to Florence, SC that day) I was sad. Asheville had so much to offer me still. I wasn't ready. I would LOVE to back there again. Especially to the Laughing Seed an ALL VEG restaurant that had COOKED FOOD and I could choose from ANYTHING on the menu. It was wonderful!

Two more yarn shops followed: Yarns Forever in Greer, SC (about 30 min out from the interstate) and Knitting Up A Storm in Myrtle Beach, SC. Yarns Forever was nice, and they had a good bit of local yarn, but it was all organized by color. It's one thing to do weight/fiber, THEN color, but no. All in together. I hated it, couldn't find what I wanted, and so bought a ball of very pretty pewtery sock yarn and beat a hasty retreat.

Knitting Up A Storm. It was great! The owner and her husband (a rep for Westminster) were so nice. They had a good selection of sock yarn (handdyed and otherwise), sweater yarn, and novelty. The best part? We got there during a 50% OFF SALE. My heart still gets fluttery! My mom very nearly bought a bag of Louisa Harding Kashmir for her first sweater (knit by me, I'm no fool) but sadly, they didn't take AMEX. I did end up buying 14 balls of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran in Venetian, a deep plum brown.
Yes, it's wool. Yes, I am still ashamed over my poor self-control, but there were baskets of the stuff overflowing in the floor. (I also stopped and rewound all the balls that had gotten tangled. ALL OF THEM.) It was like putting my mother into a room with a dozen choices of coffee, all of them excellent. Anyway, I didn't do TOO badly. I didn't break out the credit card (which I don't have anyway), nor did I beg to use the owner's computer to do a transfer online. (This last one, I did think about it. Yes, I am embarassed.)

Anyway, it was a great time, even if it rained like hell the ONE day we drove out to the beach. I definitely see myself visited Asheville again, but the cost of living there is relatively high, and Portland has a higher Yarn Store Per Capita Ratio (YSPCR).

Chop chop!

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Haircut
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
Did you see the hair in yesterday's entry? Long, shiny, but kinda bedraggled looking? Well, it's all gone! (Actually I saved the ponytail, to try and spin with. I know, I've crossed the threshold in crazy!) I had an appointment for a trim today, and on a whim told her to chop it all off (about 12" of hair came off in one fell swoop.) I think she did a great job and it's really swingy and fun! Perfect for going on vacation...

which reminds me, I'll be gone 4/8-4/15. See you after the break!

swallowtail no. 2

Thursday, April 05, 2007

swallowtail no. 2
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
Here's the finished picture! It turned out REALLY large, especially for a swallowtail. I love it! I've also finished a pair of socks, with another nearly finished. I guess it's true - I have finishing fever. Now to decide what to take on vacation... since we'll be visiting both Yarn Paradise and Earth Guild, I don't want to take TONS of yarn, but a whole week? What if something happens and I run out of knitting? Perhaps the Shamrock sweater will go along, since she's pretty far from finishing but isn't so involved that I can't enjoy a day at the beach. (And, more importantly, not get completely and utterly carsick. So sick that I have to lay down on the cool floor of the gas station, wheezing while an attendant gives me a bottle of water to hold to my face, to keep from being sick. Yes, I get carsick easily. ;)

Swallowtail No. 2

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It should say something that this is my second swallowtail shawl (from Interweave Knits) in less than 30 days. Mostly, it says that I love how easy this shawl is; the first time, it was easy, if a little fiddly, but the second time? It was practically stupid knitting, I could totally tune out the shawl itself and just knit, knit, knit.

Here're the specs, with an unpinned photo shoot either this afternoon (if dry before sun goes down) or tomorrow morning before work:

Pattern: Swallowtail from Interweave Knits, with mod of 5 extra repeats in center panel, making 19 repeats total.
Yarn: Claudia Handpainted in Lemon Ice from The Loopy Ewe. (This particular color is sold out at the mo', but I believe she's expecting more in soon.) I used one skein (and very nearly a whole one, at that) for the edging; it's Koigu KPM in a very pale yellow/peach color. You can just see a bit of it to the left edge in this picture. If you decided to knit this enlarged shawl yourself, you'd need 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn, 185 yards each.

Needles: Size 10 Addi Natura (Normally I have to scale down, but I wanted it very open and airy, not to mention large!)

I really, really like this pattern. Is it sick that I'm considering another one, this time in the Purple Earth colorway. Gorgeous, huh? I bought enough to knit some socks for my mom, since she loves these jeweltones, but she's also been "subtley" (in her world ;) hinting that she wants a shawl. I think I could manage... (BTW, when will stores in my area start carrying silk laceweight that is not $1000 per hank?? Claudia makes a 1,100 skein for about $40. Blue Moon's is about the same. Trying to sell me 300 yards for $50 is only going to make me irritable. I may get stupid around yarn, but not THAT stupid...!)

Around and around and around....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
The Rowan Calmer sweater was coming out totally unstretchy, so out it came. In its place, a flattering little cardigan jacket in a dark forest green color. I do have a funny story about "forest green."

We all know kids have strong opinions about things that are often sort of... well... unimportant, really. They don't have causes to get up at arms over at 5 years old, but they want to have an opinion on something, and it usually ends up being totally weird. One of my students was choosing colors for a project (a rainbow polar bear, if you're curious) and kept pulling out green after green. Each time she'd pull out a green, whether it was leaf, lime, chartreuse, moss, olive, etc, she would say "Is this forest green?" And I'd say not really, and start looking for a forest green, thinking that's what she was wanting. Finally, after getting out ALL the greens, she said in a very firm voice, "I can't use forest green. I HATE forest green!" Never mind that she had at least two or three greens that could fall under the "forest" label. I don't think she really knew what it meant, but she sure felt strongly about it. I admit, I laughed about it later.

Anyway, a simple, in-the-round cardigan with seed stitch edgings and bands and a nice, nipped in waist to keep the dumpy look at bay. And may I just say, that with all this gym time lately, I actually am developing some muscles?! Soon I will be a smokin' cardi-wearin' hot mama, with bandaids on every finger because I still cannot let go of the wool. It is bad for me. It gives me a rash, and the medicine thins my heart muscle (slowly, but still) and "helps" me gain weight. If only cotton sweaters provided the same hugging effect... I'd never need rash-causing wool again!

I have been real bad with the blogging, I know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

swallowtail shawl
Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
But I have a few reasons:

1. I am working on a lot of gift projects. For people who know how to use the internet.

2. My life is more of the same right now - just imagine me talking about job-hunting and knitting. (You can also imagine me watching Cartoon Network all evening, which I've never told you that I do that. But I do. Especially Camp Lazlo, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Danny Phantom [though he's on Nickelodeon.])

3. I am still working on losing weight, but to keep myself from becoming obsessed with numbers and pouring my frustration into counting every.single.calorie, I only weight every Saturday. Therefore, poundage news only once a week!

But this little number, this shawl, is a gift for someone who never reads this blog, mostly because if she is online, she is running her Ebay business and playing Bejeweled. She has no time for silly pointless pursuits like nosily reading her daughter's blog! ;)

You recognize the pattern, I'm sure, but if not, it's the Swallowtail shawl. Very, very easy and good tv knitting. It's in Karabella Vintage Cotton, which is one of the most beautiful cottons I have ever seen, EVER. It has a real sheen, and the coffee bean color is just perfect for her java-loving self. It took exactly 3 balls, 140 yards each, and I'm planning on making another one just because they're so darned easy. =)

edited to add (because I am a dumbass and forgot): I got my second secret pal package!!! Generally when I get yarn-related mail, I don't open it til I finish the project at hand, to ensure fidelity to my knitted partnership. So, I finished off the shawl and opened it up. Three skeins of Cascade Sierra (and 80/20 cotton/wool blend) in a lovely cornflower blue color nestled in the box, along with a shamrock pin (prolly shouldn't have waited to open it, heh, but I'll wear it next year) and a really cute card with a bunny on it. YAY! I took some pictures, but the yarn kept coming out a gray/brown/eggplant color (NO idea why..!) so I gave up. THANK YOU, PAL! It will soon be transformed into a little baby thing. ;)