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!