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Brewer Burns

Friday, June 30, 2006

Yesterday, I Did Not Knit

I did not knit yesterday.

I did not knit. This is the first time in many months that I have not knit a single stitch in an entire day.

I am completely obsessed with knitting. This failure to knit did not stem from the unbearable heat coupled with my unwillingness to touch my wool with sweaty hands. It did not stem from summer induced knitting ennui. It did not stem from overwork or general busy-ness.
I did not knit because I was preparing to have a small mental breakdown instead.

The precursor to this breakdown was a fairly pleasant evening. Stephen and I went out to dinner. When we came home we watched some TV, Stephen called Kevin. Everything was going smoothly except at about midnight I was a sobbing mess on the floor of my bedroom. Then I was a sobbing mess laying down on the bed. Then I was a sobbing mess sitting up in bed. Finally I was an exhausted, fitfully sleeping mess very late last night.

Last night I was DESPERATE. Desperate to find peace in my own mind. Desperate to escape soul-crushing anxiety. Desperate.

I am better today. I still have no answers. But I am better.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

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Why Kate Gilbert is a Genius

Do you know what I like in a pattern? When the finished product is really pretty, neat, or downright cool, and the pattern is clever. Clapotis (from Knitty, but you knew that right?) is clever. Very, very clever. You start by casting on two stitches. How neat is that? No fussing with casting on a million stitches, and having to make sure you have enough tail for a long tail cast on, or counting the stitches as you go along, or whatever. Two stitches! Genius.

It just gets better from there. Once you’ve got your two stitches on you increase in a totally predictable way until your Clapotis is as wide as you think it should be. Then you work the straight rows. These two are also really easily memorized, and make perfect sense. In fact, this pattern is so clever and is set up so well that it makes it hard to screw it up (not impossible, but difficult, you know?) The decrease rows are the same, very similar pattern repeat, and you decrease down to two stitches. No silly binding off of a million stitches either. I haven’t even mentioned the fun of unraveling the dropped stitches. Fun!

Anyway, Clapotis is clever, versatile, easily modified to be bigger or smaller than the original pattern, and is quite striking when finished.

I hope these pictures make up for the other crappy pictures from before. Also, the new project up there is one finished “simply lovely lace” sock from Spring IK. They are going along quite well presently. I didn’t even swatch and it fits my foot quite well.

Monday, June 26, 2006

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Recipe for a Mini-Clap-o-tee

2 skeins Noro Silk Garden (any color you like)
Size eight straight needles
Clapotis Pattern from Knitty

Using the pattern for Clapotis:
Work set up rows
Work increase rows once
Then work rows 1-6 of increase rows one more time
Work straight rows until you have used up one skein of yarn
Then continue working straight rows with second skein of yarn until you have about two and a half more color changes left in your second skein of yarn
Switch to the decrease rows and work them once, then work rows 1-10 once more
Work the Final rows.

You now have a fantastic Mini-Clapotis. Mine is 59” x 7”.

Stephen and I had a completely exhausting weekend. Let me brief you on the itinerary: Friday night we went and saw my parents. We stayed over, and after being stuffed with both bacon and pancakes Saturday morning we were off to see my sister for an hour (and my nieces!) Willow is a little chubby baby now. She has entered what I call the “sausage” stage. Her little legs and arms look like links of sausage held together at the knees and elbows. Gwendolyn is getting taller and sweeter, and was little shy around her auntie. The best part? Stephen made Willow laugh out loud. It melted my heart.

Once Stephen was able to pull me away from the baby goodness, we drove into Woodinville and met his brother and new girlfriend at a Red Robin. We actually got lost in the parking lot. Really. Once we had dined and introductions had been made (new girlfriend, you know?) we were off to the going away party for Stephen’s other brother and sister in law. We then spent five hours at a barbecue wherein no less than twenty kids between the ages of one month and six years roamed freely. Finally we were off to yet another barbecue.

This is when the real trouble started. We had planned to head back towards home Saturday night. We figured we would stop in Ellensburg, get a room and then finish the trek Sunday morning. Well, when I called the Ellensburg Inn on our way to the last party, I was informed that they had no vacancies and all the other hotels in town were also full. I don’t know why, but I’m thinking gay rodeo. As soon as we walked into the party our good friend Kevin offered me a Mojito and that was it. I accepted and we stayed. I spent the first two hours on the way home yesterday dry heaving. When we got home I then passed out on the couch completely for no less than an hour, and possibly longer. Today I felt like I had possibly been hit by a train, dragged a few hundred feet, left in the middle of a crossing and run over by a station wagon.

Friday, June 23, 2006

In Which I Make a Shameless Plug for Your Local Farmer's Market

I would like to take some time to talk about our CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture.) A CSA share is like a subscription to a farmer’s market. In our case, it is a subscription to Tolstoy Farms, a mainstay of our local market. Tolstoy is a cooperative farming community located less than an hour outside of Spokane. All of their crops are organically grown and the members of the community share in the work, the fruits of the harvest, and the profit from the sale of the harvest. Beginning last summer, Stephen and I decided to invest in a CSA share with them. This means that every week for (I believe) 17 weeks, from the beginning of June, until mid-October, we get a box of produce from Tolstoy. This year we have also signed up for a fruit share and a winter share. The fruit share produce is provided by neighbors of the Tolstoy community. It runs for fewer weeks than the vegetable share and is cheaper. The winter share will provide us with 50 pounds each of squash, keeper onions and I think potatoes? at the end of the market season.

So, what’s so good about the CSA share? Well, I’ll tell you. Last summer, when I was only working part time, it saved our lives. The full vegetable share costs $400.00 for the whole 17 weeks (that’s $23.50 a week.) At a time when I forbade Stephen from buying lunch at McDonald’s and insisted that he keep all of his receipts so that I could track every cent that we spent, the farmer’s market box also cut my grocery cost in half, and sometimes in third. Since the box was already paid for I didn’t have to come up with money each week. In order to get a comparable amount of organically grown, fresh produce at a grocery store I would be spending at least twice as much if not more. We got so much produce that we were constantly eating from the box instead of making more expensive, less nutritious meals.

The CSA share is good in other ways. You are helping to support local people and local agriculture. Do you have any idea how many non-corporate farms still exist in America? Very few. You are cutting down on the usage of fossil fuels by buying locally, because the produce does not need to be shipped as far to get to you. You are supporting organic agriculture, which introduces fewer poisons into the environment and supports sustainable farming methods.
I love, love, love my farmer’s market box. You will never taste produce as fresh and flavorful as the produce from your local farmer’s market. You will also learn what it means to cook fresh produce when it is in season. The difference between amazingly flavorful, colorful, fulfilling produce eaten in season and the dull, drab, tasteless stuff that you can get in the middle of the winter at your local mega-mart is amazing. If you’ve never been to your local farmer’s market and never sampled the wares, you are missing out. These last few years our little market has grown. Almost every Saturday last summer Stephen and I bought an organically grown, grass fed chicken from a local farm (the Lazy Lightning H Ranch.) A whole chicken. We made beer can chicken, we made fried chicken. I still have memories of the chicken and dumplings. Even more important, I made batches and batches of homemade chicken stock that I froze and used throughout the winter. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still have enough stock to make one more pot of soup. This year we have more meat vendors, a cheese maker and guy whose selling spelt and emmer products (flour, pancake mix, etc.) So if you haven’t already, get out there and check out your local farmer’s market. Look around. Sample. Buy. Maybe even look into a CSA share. It’s definitely worth your time.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

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First, I wanted to mention that Moni has started on her Lotus blossom Tank. You should go over and see. It’s looking good. Second, you should go read Crazy Aunt Purl. Someone needs to give her a book deal. Now on to the knitting. Yes, really, knitting.

I hope you all didn’t think that I had stopped knitting after I finished up on the punk rock backpack. If that’s what you thought then you clearly don’t know me very well. I did have a hard time picking a new project. Actually, to be more honest, it took me a while to justify starting the project that I really wanted to make. You see, I made the backpack for myself (which, by the way, I totally modified so it’s actually a bag instead of a backpack. I’m sure my astute readership noticed that instead of two straps, the "backpack" actually has one long strap for slinging across the body) and so I felt that I should probably tackle one of my "promised" projects. I have a habit of promising people knitted things. Usually I try to alternate projects for me with these other promised projects. So, after knitting the Lotus Blossom Tank for me, I felt like I should make something for someone else.

But it was not to be. You see, my little sister turned 23 on Monday. Yes, 23 (she’s a real live adult now, which leaves me with two questions: how did that happen? (please ignore the fact that she has two children. Really, turning 23 is so much more adult-like), and how fucking old does that make me?) Wonderful big sister that I am, I did remember her birthday and I did remember to call her on her birthday but I didn’t remember to actually get her a gift. Enter, my generous nature (don’t laugh) and the solution to my problem. I’m going to give her the backpack (if the motherfucking thing ever dries enough to actually sew the lining in.) That means that I am totally free to make something for myself.

The Mini-Clapotis. You see, last week when I went to the yarn store in search of ribbon to cinch up the Lotus Blossom Tank I discovered that I had completely hallucinated them having ribbon. They do not have ribbon. They do, however, have a large assortment of embroidery thread. Good to know. Instead of buying ribbon I bought two skeins of Noro Silk Garden. This happened after I spent a good fifteen minutes fondling the Lorna’s Laces Lion and Lamb in "Aslan" trying to think of a way to justify spending $90.00 on yarn. I couldn’t do it so I thought I would buy some Noro, as I had never bought any before, but had often considered it. I figured that if I couldn’t afford the Lorna’s Laces to make a whole clapotis, perhaps I could make a teeny tiny mini-clapotis out of the Silk Garden.

As you can see, my mini-clapotis is looking pretty good. I really like the colors of the yarn. It is hard on my hands, but not nearly as hard as some cotton and acrylic blend yarns I have had the misfortune of using in the past. I occasionally have to pick out a twig, but I knew this going in, thanks to my rabid and obsessive reading of other people’s knitblogs. Surprisingly, although the yarn is hard on my hands, it is pretty soft once it’s knit up. I suspect that blocking might make it even softer. Incidentally it is an almost-certainty that I will run out of yarn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Could You All Shut Up I Can't THINK!

Today is a random, random day for me. I can't seem to concentrate on any one theme, although I have ideas for about twenty different posts. So I thought I would do something a little different. I've got a couple of questions for all of you out there:

1. What, in your opinion, is the worst book ever written and why? (This is not necessarily a book you have read.) and,

2. What is the worst book ever written that you have actually read and why?

Alright, I'll go first. Because I'm a pushy bitch like that.

1. The Malleus Maleficarum or The Witch's Hammer. Originally published in 1487, it was continuously in print for the next 200 years. Interestingly, there is an online english translation available here. The latest english addition was published in 1971, but a german translation was published in 2000. While this book (according to Wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt) was not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, there is no doubt that it was widely used during the time of the inquisition as a tool and a primer on "witchcraft." It's authors continually emphasized that women were weaker, more easily manipulated creatures than men. It's responsible for the widespread torture and murder of millions of people, most of them women.

2. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, published 1748. I read an abridged version of the novel in college (about 700 pages, the original is 1500 pages.) The basic plot can be summarized thusly: Clarissa, a really good girl, gets the shaft repeatedly. First when her grandfather dies she is swindled out of her inheritance. Then she falls in love with a rather dashing (but evil) young man. Her family imprisons her to keep her from him. She escapes to be with him, and he takes her to a brothel where he rapes her and holds her prisoner. Finally, she dies. Oh, and there's some sort of incestual subplot involving her brother and sister. And did I mention that the whole novel is written in the "epistolary" form? Yes, the whole thing is written in letters. Letters from Clarissa to her friends, to Lovelace (the evil man/devil character), letters to Clarissa. Of all the books I had to read as an English Lit major this one was the worst.

So, anyone else want to chime in? Please feel free to have at it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

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What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Let’s see...I demolished our old deck and rebuilt with new decking, watched a lot of world cup soccer, took full advantage of our DVR and expanded cable package, installed just this week, visited friends on the other side of the mountain, finished the Lotus Blossom Tank and made the punk rock backpack from SNB.

Let’s talk about the deck. The old deck was not only ugly but also poorly constructed with completely inappropriate materials. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures because my camera ran out of memory as I was taking pictures of the demolition process, but I didn’t realize it until we had rebuilt the deck. The old deck was constructed of non-treated plywood and non-treated 2x4’s, nails that were not waterproof (seriously, how cheap are you if you don’t even buy steel nails?) In addition, it was constructed like a big box off the back of our house. Instead of having a railing, the deck was enclosed with plywood (on the inside) and vinyl siding (on the outside) and the walls were about four and a half feet high. Sitting out there made Stephen and I both claustrophobic.

The original plan was that we would demolish only the walls of the deck on Monday morning. We didn’t plan to tear off the decking material. Then it did something completely unexpected. It rained and it rained and it rained. We had record breaking rain on Monday and on Wednesday. So, we didn’t demolish on Monday. Instead, we tore off the railing on Tuesday morning, during intermittent rain showers. On Wednesday we went to Lowe’s and priced railing and decking materials. Then Thursday we worked all day. You see, by the time we got the railing off, we realized that the decking (untreated plywood!) was also rotten and would have to come off. So we spent hours removing the decking. Then, about 5:30-6:00 p.m. we bought new decking: pressure treated cedar and really good decking screws. Then we constructed until about 9:30 Thursday night. Stephen finished up actually screwing the decking down Friday morning. I confess that I am useless with power tools. I don’t possess either the coordination or the brute strength to control them. But we do now have a deck that we can hang out on, and we plan to put the railing on by the end of the month. (Funny story: we decided to hang out on the deck last night and have a beer before dinner. One of the neighbor kids, he’s about 12 or 13, had a friend and three girls out on the trampoline they’ve got set up in the backyard. It was pretty clear that we were totally cramping their style. They kept attempting to get the girls to play “truth or dare” with them. Finally, two of the girls went home and we went in. I’m certain they were happy to see us go.)

Now, the punk rock backpack. I have admired this pattern ever since I bought the SNB book. I think it’s cute and versatile. Once I decided that I didn’t want to knit socks or cell phone cozies or anything else in my stash, I settled on the backpack. I figured that I could probably use the leftover LP from the Manly Sweater. I was almost right. I managed to get 99% of the backpack from leftovers, but ran out when I was about ¼ of the way done with the strap. I had to buy one more skein in ruby red. The backpack is currently blocking, as I try to remember how to use my sewing machine.

So what do you have planned for your summer vacation?

Friday, June 16, 2006

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Good Idea Jeans

You’re all wondering how my little dryer + cotton tank adventure went, right? Well, I’m happy to report that even though I threw the tank in the dryer for about an hour total on high heat, I did not turn it into a baby tank top. No. The tank actually shrunk very little. Basically just enough so that I felt alright about not ripping it out and instead threaded a length of yarn right under the bust to cinch it up. So how did I escape certain ruin and retribution from the knitting goddesses? It’s all in the timing.

First, the tank was still wet when I threw it in the dryer. This helped immensely. It basically didn’t shrink at all until it was mostly dry. Second, I started out leaving it in the dryer in ten minute intervals. Then fifteen. Then finally, twenty. At that point I thought it had probably shrunk all it was going to (or, alternatively, if I threw it in again I would end up with a tank top sized for an infant) so I decided just to call it good. As you can see, the result is that the tank top is still loose, but not so loose that it looks like I’m borrowing my much larger friend’s clothes. I will say that the arm holes, through no fault but my own, are a little uneven, and I may rip the bigger one and redo it. I just don’t know yet. Also, I really can’t bend over in this tank unless I wish to expose both of my breasts to everyone within sight distance. I expected this though. If you look at the model whose wearing the tank in the inside of the magazine, you can see that the bust line is a bit loose. Like there should be a decreasing row right before the top is bound off (or some other kind of shaping that would achieve the same goal.)

All in all I’m pretty happy about the tank. It’s cute. It fits reasonably well. Best of all? It’s cheap to make (mine cost me less than $27) and the lotus blossom lace is very pretty.

Project Stats:

Pattern: Lotus Blossom Tank, Summer IK
Yarn: Okay, I don’t really know since the manufacturer’s name is written in Greek on the ball band but here’s what I got for you: Butterfly, Mercerized Cotton, EL. D. Mouzakis, Super-10, in a blue-gray color
Needles: Size 5 and 6, circulars

By the way, that thing I’m standing on in the picture? My new deck. You see, by nature I am lazy, cheap and like my house to maintain a layer of dirt and clutter. As you might imagine that means that I would have liked to spend my one week of vacation a year doing absolutely nothing except knitting and watching Good Eats on the food network. However, I am married to Stephen and he is one of those sick individuals that actually likes to work and enjoys a clean house. So, I spent my vacation demolishing the old deck that was rotting away beneath our feet and constructing a new, non-rotting deck. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

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Bad Idea Jeans

Remember how I mentioned that I measured my bust and it was bigger than I thought it was? And so I made the 38” size instead of the 34” size? Yeah. Bad Idea Jeans (you remember that SNL skit, right? Mid-90’s, three guys sitting around in tight acid wash jeans, one guy (let’s call him David Spade) looks at the other (let’s call him Chris Farley) and says “I’m thinking of leaving my wife for my girlfriend. She’s a crack addict but I figure, hey, the sex is great.” Then the slogan: “Bad Idea Jeans.” Or something like that.) The Lotus Blossom Tank is done. And it is totally too big. Like I could hack out a rather large strip, sew it up and it might still be too big. I should have gone with my first instinct to make the 34” size. Barring that I should have gone with my second instinct to pull out a blouse or tank top that I like and measure its bust. Instead I decided to actually measure my bust and pick the size closest to it. Like I said. Bad Idea Jeans.

Faced with a tank top that is way too big I’ve decided that I have, really, three options: 1. do nothing and rarely wear it, 2. rip and reknit the smaller size or 3. throw the fucker in the dryer until it shrinks enough to fit. Anybody want to guess what I’m doing right now? That’s right. I’m waiting for the dryer to buzz, since my hand knit tank top is in it. For the second time. The first time it just didn’t shrink enough. After this tumble in the dryer I think it will still be a tad too big, but I plan to go buy a bit of ribbon to thread right under the bust line and cinch tight. Cute, right?

I know. This is also Bad Idea Jeans. But I’m doing it anyway. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I figure I can always rip and reknit if it turns out really badly. Just so you know, I did go in and measure one of my favorite shirts after the tank’s first trip through the dryer. It’s got like a 28” bust line. File this whole fiasco under “what the fuck was I thinking?”

Monday, June 12, 2006

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In Which The Lotus Blossom Tank Breaks Me

Regarding my previous post, thanks for the comments and feedback. It’s an issue that had been on my mind and clearly means a lot to me. I may post about this again when I’ve thought about it a little more.

On to more pressing topics of conversation now. The Lotus Blossom Tank. This is my first experience knitting an article of clothing with cotton. My previous experience with cotton yarn is limited to the two Fiesta Tea Sets that I have made. While I knew going into the project that my previous experience with cotton was not positive, and cotton is much heavier than wool and harder on the hands, I figured that I would just go for it. The pattern is pretty and I can’t imagine going through life without knitting myself at least one knitted cotton tank.

The bottom portion of the tank was really quite fun. The yarn that I have chosen (“Butterfly?” I really don’t know) is soft, smooth and really quite pretty. Or so I thought. Over the weekend we did some traveling and some visiting with friends that I haven’t seen in a while and I finished the bottom lace portion of the tank and moved onto the top, stockinette portions. And so the trouble began. As I mentioned before cotton is heavy. I know. Every book on yarn and every knitter who has ever knitted with cotton will tell you: cotton is heavy. Well, when I finally got to the top portions I really started to feel the weight of the tank itself. It’s heaviness.

On the ride home last night I started taking little breaks to sing along to the music, play 20 questions with Stephen, and stare out the window. Then when I got home last night I laid on the couch and knit. And stopped. And knit. And stopped. Finally, I had to take an extended break. I had to put the knitting down. My wrists were on fire and even now, a good twelve hours later I’m having a hard time typing because my left wrist, in particular, is still sore from knitting with the bleeding cotton. Not only that, but the tips of my “working” fingers are also numb and sore from the roughness of the cotton. I have to say that the point at which I truly broke was when I read the pattern instruction that reads “work in stockinette stitch until the armholes measure eight inches.” Like a knife to the heart I tell you.

The Lotus Blossom Tank. She broke me. But she is also very pretty so I’ve decided to soldier on today. And there is one ray of hope in all of this. I’m knitting a tank top. No sleeves!

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Clothes Make The...Woman?

I want to start this post with a proposition: Throughout recorded history clothing has been used as a tool of oppression with respect to people in general and women particularly.

I want to talk about expectations of dress, why those expectations exist and what they mean. But why this topic? Each of us have hot-button issues. Things that really piss us off in a disproportionate way. I hate it when someone makes assumptions about me based on how I look. This manifests in two ways: I hate it when someone looks at me and makes an assumption about me based on their assumption of how old I am (or how young I am, to be more precise) and two, I hate to be judged based on how I am dressed. More particularly, I become livid when someone tells me how to dress. Recently, I came across a post on another knitting blog (which I’m not going to link to) that really pissed me off. Basically the post addressed what that particular blogger (a man) thought his female co-workers should be wearing. Both the topic of the post and its tone, which was incredibly condescending, made my blood boil. Although I did not comment, the post has stayed with me. Then yesterday Eunny wrote a post addressing the same topic, in a different context. This kept me thinking about the issue. Why does it make me so angry when someone tells me how to dress?

I’ve decided that it basically boils down to one thing: telling a person how to dress is tanatamount to judging them based on the garments that they choose to cover their nakedness. To my mind, how a person dresses should not matter. Dressing in low rise jeans with the top of your thong showing does not mean that you are sexually promiscuous. Wearing an akle length skirt and a shirt that’s buttoned up to your neck does not mean that you are a prude. So, all other things being equal, I think that we should all be able to dress in the manner that we find to be most comfortable without judgment.

I know that this is not realistic. I work in a profession where I am required to dress in the most uncomfortable manner every day. I have to dress "professionally." I put "professionally" in quotes for a reason. What does that mean anyway? For men, it’s easy. Dress shirt, tie, slacks, sport coat. Extra points if it all matches. For women, it’s not so easy. I wish that I could come to work in the aforementioned dress shirt, tie, slacks, sport coat every day. I can’t do that for a variety of reasons. One, I would look like ass in that outfit. Two, I could not wear a variation of the same outfit every day because people would start to wonder if I was just wearing the same outfit every day and if so, did I wash it in between? Three, people expect something different of women. And there’s the rub.

Women are not men. Women are not expected to look like men, even in a business or corporate environment. Women are supposed to still look like women and dress accordingly. That means: fitted shirts. Fitted slacks or skirts. Nylons. No bare legs. Fitted sport coats. Fitted suits, of course, are acceptable. Nice shoes. Lots of shoes with heels. Lastly, we are supposed to accessorize tastefully, put on makeup, and fix our hair.

I hate every single minute of it. EVERY MOTHERFUCKING MINUTE. And remember, I do it five days a week, 51 weeks a year.

Don’t get me wrong. I like looking nice. I like dressing up for special occasions. What I really hate is the fact that I am constantly being judged according to how I look I am not the person that I really am on the inside. I am, literally, the clothes. My clients never see past the clothes. The Judge never sees past the clothes. So, depending on how I am dressed, I might be JenniferLawyer or, on some days, JenniferNotQuiteDressedWellEnoughToBeALawyer or JenniferClothesLookGoodButHairIsNotDoneInClassyEnoughStyleToGetRespect. On most days I am JenniferLawyerButStillLooksTooYoungToBeMuchMoreThanAGlorifiedSecretaryBecause

Consequently, it really makes me angry when someone bitches about the fact that some girl’s bra straps are showing. What’s the big fucking deal? And the thing that really gets me is this: I know what the big deal is. The person who thinks it’s a big fucking deal is judging that girl or woman. She’s thinking (and usually these judgers are women rather than men) that the fact that her bra straps are showing is a reflection of her character. That she is trashy or cheap or to put it bluntly: not good enough in some fundamental way. Personally, I can’t imagine anything more unfair or more likely to be untrue.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

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Just Poking My Head in for a Quickie

Remember how I said that I was sick of knitting dinosaurs? Well, I did knit one more. It’s Trice from X-Treme Knitting. I knit him for my sister in law, who really liked the stegosaurus that I knit for my nephew, her son.

I also knit a Nautie for Stephen. As you can see in the pictures, it has been mounted on the beer tap handle. How did I accomplish this feat of engineering? Simple. I knit the nautie, then knit a leg like I would knit for Trice, sewed up said leg, did not stuff it, and sewed it to the side of the nautie. Walla! Tap Handle Nautie. By the by, I knit the nautie from the frog tree alpaca that I picked up on sale from Holy Threads. And there’s plenty left over. Totally awesome.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

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Monday, June 05, 2006

New Beginnings

After finishing my Flower Basket Shawl and about halfway into my first pair of baby socks, some serious knitterly ennui set in. I was like, why am I doing this? I hate baby socks! When will I start the next new exciting project?! Yeah, it was a real crisis. Sifting through all my projects-in-waiting I just wasn't excited about any of them. Lace socks? In wool? It'll be another season before I can wear them. Knitted dinosaur? I just did that. Trellis Scarf? I just finished a big-ole lace shawl and it was an Evelyn A Clark design to boot. I was in a serious rut.

Then I really started thinking about it. I remembered that I felt the same way after I finished my sweater, back in February, and after I finished Manly. I had lots of little projects on my plate but no real desire to knit them. I wanted to start another "big" project. A sweater. A shawl. Something substantial that I could sink my needles into. Then I took a good long look at the cover project on the Summer IK. The Lotus Blossom Tank. I liked it. I opened the magazine and took a good long look at the pattern itself and the stats. I even measured my bust (cause you know, something like that could change*.) I was in love. And the yarn is one that I have worked with before, Southwest Trading Company's bamboo yarn. I used that same yarn to make my Branching Out. So, I loved the pattern, thought the second size would make a nice, snug tank top, and I really loved the lacy pattern. I decided to do it.

My next stop, of course, was the LYS. Not Holy Threads. The other one. Sew EZ Too on Garland. Now, I have had my issues with the store in the past. Mainly the fact that they rarely have enough yarn, of one color, to make a sweater in stock. I understand this. How many people are actually making sweaters instead of felted baskets? I thought this time it would be different though. For one thing, the Lotus Blossom Tank is a tank top not a sweater, and therefore I only needed three balls of the recommended yarn. Three balls, I thought. They should have that. So I stop there after work on Friday to pick some up. And whaddyaknow? They don't have three balls of the same color. They have two balls of one color, and one ball of each of the other two colors. Fuck.

I ask the Yarn Lady (seriously, I think her name is Susan, but for the purposes of the blog we shall call her the Yarn Lady) if they have any more of the bamboo yarn. She confirms that they do not. I sigh heavily and consider whether I can make the bottom of the tank in one color and the top in another? (No.) After a few minutes, sensing my frustration, the Yarn Lady asks me whether I just like the bamboo yarn or if I could find a substitute? I explain the situation and she directs me to her wall o' cotton. Now, I have mentioned in the past my dislike of cotton yarn and how I would rather poke my eye out with an extra sharp dpn then knit with it again. Nonetheless, I'm desperate. I look at the yarn.

As the Yarn Lady points out the nice, multi-colored, Katia (read: cotton yarn from hell that feels like you're knitting with jeans, and not the nice, soft, worn-in jeans, but the brand new, need to be worn and washed and worn and washed about a hundred times before the stiffness goes away type of jeans) and lo and behold, right above the aforementioned crap yarn is a, well, a nice looking cotton yarn. With a subtle sheen. I pick it up. Yarn Lady looks at me, looks at the yarn and says, "It was meant to be**." And so it was. I have posted a picture of the ball band above because I don't even know what the name of the yarn manufacturer is, since it's written in Greek. Literally.

*Actually, my bust is larger than I thought it was. I believe that this is (sadly) due to weight gain and not to actual breast growth.

**No. She didn't really say that, but she did rave about the yarn.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

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On Camping in the Rain

Allow me to summarize our Memorial Day camping trip:

Friday Night: gale force winds
Saturday morning: rain
Saturday afternoon: nice enough
Saturday night: gale force winds
Sunday morning: Ginkgo Petrified Forest
So, what is a Ginkgo Tree, you ask? Well, the Ginkgo was apparently quite common in the ancient world (we’re talking pre-humanity here) but has only survived in the modern world through the efforts of monks in Asian monasteries. At one time the Ginkgo grew wild in what is now Central Washington. The Ginkgo Petrified Forest is the only place in the world where the petrified tree stumps of Ginkgo Trees have ever been found. Although there are other places where the petrified leaves have been found. Petrification refers to the process whereby wood is slowly turned to stone through natural geologic processes.

Which is why the Ginkgo Petrified Forest is so cool. Not only does the visitor center have the petrified Ginkgo on display, it also has three live Ginkgo trees, grown from seeds, as well as several other kinds of petrified wood on display. The Ginkgo leaf has a distinctive fan shape, and the Ginkgo itself is prized in Asia and other parts of the world for its healing properties.

If you get the chance, go to the petrified forest. It is located just on the west side of the Columbia River outside the town of Vantage, just a few short miles off of Interstate 90. Fun fact: during the Myocene period, 15 million years ago, when the Ginkgo flourished in Central Washington, the Cascade mountain range did not yet exist and much of Central Washington was swampland. Think of that the next time you’re passing through three hundred miles of sage brush and arid plain.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kung Fu Genius

Go read this post.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

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Word for the Day: Sticktoitiveness.
If you use this word then it means: 1) You watch too much Sports Center/ESPN/Nightly Sportscast, etc., 2) I’m thinking about slapping you for repeating it as if it’s a REAL WORD because it’s NOT and using it makes me think of my ex-boyfriend from college, who really needed someone to slap him, or 3) if you put the words “statistical iterative” in front of it, as in “statistical iterative sticktoitiveness” you are my husband. And no, I have no idea what that phrase means, other than it hurts my brain to write it. I also did not slap him, although I did try to push him off the path.

Since I finished my FBS (coolest shawl EVER) I’ve finished up two more pairs of baby socks (yes, I know there is only one Hugs and Kisses sock pictured, but trust me, there are two now.) I have now made all of the patterns for the baby socks from IK Summer 2005 (five different patterns) and so I thought I might impart some of the knowledge I have gained in doing so.

First, I love, love, love Lorna’s Laces. Best sock yarn ever. Seriously. Second, you can only get three pairs of socks out of one skein of Lorna’s Laces if you either knit more tightly than I do (I doubt this is really a possibility) or you do not count the Ruffle Rib Socks as one of the three pairs. The Ruffle Rib Socks are cute but you have to cast on 84 (or is it 88?) stitches initially to form the ruffle. Personally, I didn’t really think it was worth it. Third, when forming a picot edge on a pair of baby socks knit with Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock on size 0 needles, you may very well need a crochet hook to do so. Fourth, the person who invented the short row heel and toe is/was a genius. A fucking genius, I tell you!

Fifth (yes I arbitrarily threw in a paragraph break. So?) the Cable Rib Socks employ the neatest fake cable technique. It looks like you cabled them but you didn’t. And that means that you don’t have to pull out the fifth dpn in the set and push the held stitch on and knit the next stitch then knit the held stitch. Instead you do something infinitely easier. Sixth, the Braided Cable and the Hugs and Kisses Socks are so cool it’s totally worth doing the cable thing with that fifth needle. And finally, you should totally make some of these socks if you know someone with an infant. They’re a big hit, in large part, because they will actually stay on the little girl or little guy’s feet.

Oh, and I went to Holy Threads last night, on the advice of Moni and it was pretty exciting for me. They didn’t have any Dale but they did have a ton of yarn. I didn’t like the way they organized a lot of their yarn, but there was a lot of it. Some of it was overpriced ($18 for a ball of Opal? In Spokane? Where I generally get mine for $12?) but they also have a “secret garden” where they invite you to knit any time during normal business hours. Oh, and I bought a hank of Opal handpainted for $18 (notice how they priced the handpainted the same as the regular Opal? Methinks there may have been a mistake in the pricing of one or the other) and three balls of Frog Tree 100% alpaca, on sale, each for $3.00. I thought that was a pretty good deal.

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