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Brewer Burns

Thursday, August 31, 2006

That's the Way the Knitting Crumbles

Okay, I’ve tried to write about knitting today. I really have. But every time I’ve tried I’ve ended up writing about something else entirely. So, before I write about the knitting, I really have to say this: Have you ever called someone and left a message and they didn’t call you back? Did it piss you off? The next time you called, and you still couldn’t talk to them and they still hadn’t called you back, did you then take out all of your anger on the person who answered the phone? Did you insinuate that the person you were trying to call or the person answering the phone is lazy? Did you get sarcastic and act like you’re the most important person in the whole wide world whose needs must be attended to RIGHT NOW or you were going to throw a tantrum like a two year old? Okay. Did it do any good in the long run? Did that person call you back quicker? Did the person who answered the phone become suddenly more inclined to help you out? No? Huh. Funny that.

On to the knitting. I’ve finished knitting the entirety of my Greek Pullover, except the I-Cord ties. And now I must level with you. I fear that the sweater may be too small. Now, I’m not even close to being sure of that yet. Tonight I’m going to go home, pin the front and back together and try it on. I will definitely let you know how it goes. I’m just afraid that I overreacted to my experience with the Lotus Blossom Tank, which is still too big, by several inches. I’m really just not all that sure. The one thing that I can tell you is that my gauge has been spot on perfect the entire project and so the sweater itself is the size intended. I’m just not sure that I’m not going to end up with a sweater that is more like some kind of summery, holey, nipple bearing, cover, and less like an actual sweater.

I’m putting my faith in two things: first, the fact that I tend to overreact and overanalyze and overthink while the garment is still on my needles and second, the miracle that is the blocking process.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Your Linguistic Profile:
70% General American English
15% Upper Midwestern
5% Midwestern
5% Yankee
0% Dixie
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Granny Walker

My great-grandmother was born on June 14, 1910 in Oklahoma. She didn’t knit and everything that she cooked was fried in a vat of grease until it was hard and tough, or possibly burned. I figure that my grandmother learned how to cook out of sheer desperation. Even though she couldn’t cook, my Granny could create a pattern for anything after viewing the finished garment. And she did. When my grandmother (who was born in 1930) was young, Granny used to make her clothes out of cloth flour sacks. My whole life I remember that she had an old, black, manual sewing machine set up in her living room, right in front of a window. During the depression, she picked cotton for a living and earned about 25 cents a day.

When my mother was growing up, she went to live with Granny Walker when she was sixteen. At the time, my mother and father were dating, and my father was allowed to come over once a week (on Sunday) and take my mother for a drive. When I was born my mother and father were living in a double-wide trailer on her property. I saw Granny Walker practically every day of my life from the time I was born until I was almost four and we moved. My mother cleaned and cooked for her as she was unable to do very well for herself. She loved me, her first grandchild, and she made me many things. Two of my most prized possessions are a two-headed doll that she sewed for me, even going so far as to embroider on the face, and a baby doll that she crocheted.

After we moved I only saw Granny Walker about once a year when we would go to visit her. Then when I was seven, she died.

When she died my mother inherited some of her furniture, including a lamp and a vanity. When Stephen and I bought our house it was at the same time that my parents were renovating theirs and they were looking to get rid of things that they didn’t need. That’s how I ended up with the vanity and the lamp. Up until last weekend, the lamp had an honored place in my living room and the vanity was being stored in my basement. But last weekend we decided to change one of our rooms, the guest bedroom. So, we moved out the furniture that we had in the room, painted the room a pale yellow (we had painted it red when we moved in) and moved the lamp and the vanity into the room.

I think it’s nice.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

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Greek Pullover

So, in an earlier post I said that I bought the Rowan Kid Classic to make the "Grecian Sweater" in the Fall ‘05 IK. Of course, what I meant to say was that I’m using it to make the Greek Pullover by Sharon Shoji. Can I just say that I love this yarn? It’s pretty, it’s soft, it has a fabulous mohair halo, and the color is amazing. It’s a rose-pink color, by the way. Yes, I am still obsessed with pink. No, I don’t know when its going to end and yes I know that having this amazing obsession with pink at my age is a little pathetic. What can I say? I was pink-deprived as a child. (Okay, that’s a lie but I can’t think of a better explanation for the pink thing.)

Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I really, really love A Great Yarn (where I bought the Rowan.) Why? Because when I told them that what I really needed was one more skein of Rowan Kid Classic in color 842 the owner of the store (Mary) sent her husband home to look for more Rowan Kid Classic in color 842 and promised to call me later in the afternoon and let me know what he had found. When she called me later and told me that they couldn’t find the extra Rowan that they knew they had in color 842, she offered up a pretty lavender color (841, actually the color called for in the pattern) and I said I would come get it. Then, five minutes later Mary called again and told me that they had finally found the extra stash of Rowan in the back room of the shop and they did have one more skein in color 842. I was ecstatic. In closing, they also have a ball winder available so that I did not have to hand-wind 400 yards of Socks That Rock, and while I’m sure that Stephen will really miss that special bonding time that we have when we wind my skeins of yarn into balls, I am still really grateful for this.

The Greek Pullover is really moving along. I finished the back last night and started on the front. It’s just zooming. I’m really quite impressed with my own speed. Really, though, I think the speed comes from: the size 8 needles, the openness and lightness of the fabric I’m making, and the fact that I’m making the smallest size. This means that either I’m going to end up with a sweater that will only fit my fictional younger, thinner, self, or that it will fit just right. Honestly? I’m just trying to avoid the issues that I had with my Lotus Blossom Tank, which I still have to be really careful about bending over in for fear of exposing the whole of my bosom to perfect strangers. (and yes, I know that a blend of kid mohair, lambswool and nylon is not going to behave the same way as mercerized cotton, but I’m still paranoid about it.)

Oh, also, just in case you were wondering, I swatched before I began this pattern. Really. See up there? That’s the swatch.

Okay, really, last thing, Stephen and I had a conversation last night that I’m still laughing about. Seriously, it was like an episode of Three’s Company, but funnier (and with less John Ritter, who I love and am sad that he died so unexpectedly.) We have both learned an important lesson in the importance of communication in a marriage (It’s Important!)

Have you seen Ghost World? If you haven’t then you should. It’s got Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanssen and it’s quite funny, in a quirky way.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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Is the Glass Half-Crazy or Half-Sane?

So, I totally finished the Perfect Socks.

Pattern: Father and Son Socks, Fall ‘06 IK
Yarn: Opal Hand Painted
Needles: U.S. Size 1, dpns
Mods: Very few, explained below

I like this pattern. It is extremely simple and easy to memorize, but more interesting than plain stockinette. I like that it forms a simple, angular pattern without a lot of work or fuss. I especially like it for the men in my life, since they do not want lacy, pretty socks. They want strong, manly socks. This is good.

The pattern itself is pretty straight forward and mostly well written. HOWEVER. Ahem. However, there is one little bit of pattern writing that really should be cut out, pasted to the editor or pattern writer’s forehead, enclosed in a square of black marker that says: THIS IS NOT CLEAR. THIS IS JACKASS PATTERN WRITING. After you’ve completed the pattern repeats that make up the leg of the sock there is a section of the pattern that says: "In preparation for working the heel flap, work rows [blank] through [blank] on needles 1 and 2. Continue working in pattern on needles 3 and 4." Okay, so what do you all think this means? I figured out (after scratching my head a couple of times and thinking about it a little too hard if you know what I mean) that you work rows [blank] through [blank] before you start the heel flap.

Now, I know that, in terms of bad pattern writing, this is most definitely not the most egregious bit of obfuscation that I have ever come across, so you might think that I’m being a little too hard on the pattern writer (or perhaps her editor) here. You may be right. But, seriously, why would you bother to say something that simple in such a confusing way other than to make the knitter stop, scratch her head, and go What the Fuck? And really, I don’t think that there is really a good reason for that.

Other than that I found the pattern to be clear, the chart to be impeccable and the end product both usable and nice, in a very classic kind of way. I did modify the pattern: I substituted yarn, I used Size 1 instead of Size 2 needles, and I lopped a half an inch of length off of the toe of the sock. I achieved that by leaving out the extra rows that you’re supposed to work before working the toe decreases. I finished up my eighth Chevron pattern (btw, when the pattern says "eighth chevron pattern" what it means is the eighth time that you finish the pointy end of the chevron pattern, not the eight time that you finish all the rows in the little red box on the chart) and jumped right into the decreasing rows. It worked like a charm.

Oh, right, on the title of this post. I was reading Crazy Aunt Purl today (I. Love. Her.) and she mentioned how sometimes she simply likes to sit with her loneliness. Not pushing it away, but not wallowing in it either. Right now, that is my goal. To sit with my pain, my anxiety, my fear. To feel it but not wallow in it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

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On Food Preservation, Knitting and Yarn Porn

Let me tell you of the things I did this weekend:

I made dilled cucumber pickles. Stephen has been wanting to make these for a while, so when we were at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, we picked up some pickling cucumbers (those are the ones that are sort of grey and have little spiny bumps on them.) We brought them home, and brined them overnight in two cups of salt mixed into eight cups of water. We packed them into jars this morning with distilled white vinegar, pickling spices, garlic, dill and habanero peppers.

I met a woman at the Farmer’s Market that not only let me spin a little on her spinning wheel (!) but also offered to teach me to spin “in an afternoon.” I will be calling her very, very soon.

I discovered a new yarn store after eating breakfast Saturday morning at Bittersweet. Bittersweet is a cute little bistro? Café? Money hole? on the South hill. Stephen and I like to order a gourmet crepe (filled with amazing stuff) and drink their exceptional coffee on Saturday mornings. Anyway, we were walking around after breakfast and discovered a new yarn store, A Great Yarn (it’s right next to the Blockbuster on 14th and Grand.) They had yarns that I have only dreamed of finding in my native environment. Rowan. Socks that Rock. Classic Elite. The problem of course is that I can hardly afford these yarns. Nonetheless, I bought five skeins of Rowan Kid Classic, Color 842 (rose), to make the Grecian Sweater in the Fall ’05 IK. I also bought one skein of Socks That Rock in “Sedona.” I’m thinking of using it to make Pomotomas from Knitty.

I finished the Perfect Sock and it is, indeed, Perfect. I also started and am about ¾ of the way through its mate.

I may have also bought a ball of Trekking XXL and a couple of fabric remnants (for lining knit bags) from Sew E-Z Too, my regular yarn store. I bought the Trekking to make socks for my good friend, Mike Ball, who turns 60 next month (he’s older than dried fuck, as I like to say.)

I made beet pickles this morning too. And Oh, did I make them. I chopped them, I cooked them, I sliced their skins off, I simmered them with sugar and vinegar and lemons and spices, and I canned them. They’re going to be wonderful.

I also hung out on my deck that now has a railing! (thanks entirely to Stephen) in my new Adirondack chair! (thanks to me and Stephen) with a glass of beer! (again, credit must go to Stephen.)

Did I mention that I did this all before 1:00 on Sunday (except the beer. We waited until 1:00 to crack the first beer)?

Friday, August 18, 2006

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Perfect Sock!

Okay, I have to come clean with you. I’ve been working on a project that I haven’t blogged yet. I actually started it on Friday? Saturday? I started it before I finished the bags on Sunday, because they were blocking. Hmmm. I’m thinking it must have been Friday. Maybe even Thursday night. Anyway, I started on a pair of socks for Stephen. I’ve been knitting and knitting but I haven’t knit him a pair of socks since the Thuja I knit him back in January. And I’ve had a hank of Opal handpainted sock yarn sitting in my stash, that he picked out during my expedition to Holy Threads in June, and I hadn’t even wound it yet. When he asked me to make him some socks, I decided it was time (of course, he did whine a little about having to help wind the hank into a ball, but it’s the price of hand knitted socks, you know?)

I had the yarn but not the pattern picked out. After some perusing of my back issues of IK and other assorted patterns, I settled on the Father and Son Socks from the Fall IK. Why these socks? Well, they’re pretty simple and therefore conducive to showcasing the lovely handpainted yarn. Also, they’re pretty simple so they’re totally manly. Lastly, they’re already sized for a man’s foot and specifically the leg is 8.5" in circumference. Since Stephen’s ankle is, in reality, 8.5" in circumference (according to my less than fastidious measuring technique) I thought that the pattern would likely be a very good fit with very little tinkering with it. In the past I have spent a lot of time rewriting entire patterns to make them fit my tiny feet (and the tiny feet of my family members) so I really like it when I find a pattern that I can just knit without thinking about much. Stephen, luckily, has very standard sized feet.

I cast on using the size 2 needles called for in the pattern (which also happen to be my favorite sock knitting needles. Due to an unfortunate man-sized-feet-stepping-on-knitting-bag-incident I only have four of the five dpns left. But I digress.) I cast on, knitted a little swatch, measured, and thought, well, I’m a half a stitch too large. Close enough, right? Uh-huh. I cast on for the sock, knitted all the way through row 32 of the pattern and then went to bed. The next morning I took a good hard look at the sock, measured it, and ripped the whole thing. It was definitely too big. Additionally, the size 2's weren’t giving me the nice, tight, sock fabric that I’m used to getting. So I cast on again, this time using size 1 dpn’s. Ahh. Perfect I thought. So I knit and knit and knit.

Last night, I started the toe decreases. The whole time I’m thinking, this sock is still too big. I’m going to have to rip the whole thing and start over again with fewer stitches or even smaller needles. Damn. Finally, I had Stephen try the sock on. And guess what? It fit absolutely perfectly in every respect. Perfect, I tell you. Now, I’m still allowing for the possibility that the foot will be a little long since I haven’t actually finished the toe yet, but if so it’s so easy to rip and re-knit a toe, you know? And the rest of the sock fits so perfectly that I’m going to take precise (hah!) measurements of the sock and knit all others to those dimensions. I’ve knit the perfect sock and the perfect sock template.

Of course, I haven’t knit the second sock yet, so the jury is still out on whether I will manage to knit a perfect pair of socks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Locked in a Maze

I feel like I’m trapped in a maze. I’m not even looking for the cheese in the center anymore, I’m just looking for the way out, the way I came in.

I mentioned a little while ago that my free counseling appointments had run out and I was going to try another path. So far, I’ve attended two Al-Anon meetings. The first one was made up entirely of women. It was fine. I felt uncomfortable but it wasn’t bad. At the second one I felt more uncomfortable. I just don’t know that this is the right environment for me. For one, I’m an atheist (yes, yes, I’m a godless lawyer,) so the idea of giving my problems to a higher power doesn’t work for me. For another, the idea of working the twelve steps? I don’t know. What horrible addiction am I quitting? I mean, I bite my nails obsessively and Stephen accuses me of having an addiction to hand creams, but I don’t really feel like I need a twelve step program for those issues.

Anyway, the other thing I have done is call all the recommendations that my former counselor gave me at my last appointment and found that I don’t make enough money to keep me in good psychological health. Treatment prices range from $75.00 up to $140.00 an hour. That’s a lot of money to me. I’ve also contacted my insurance provider and discovered that while they do cover mental health care, I have a $1,000.00 deductible, and they only cover twelve visits a year and those twelve visits a year include the appointments at which I am still paying on my deductible. Translation? They will never cover anything at all. I also can’t sign up for Stephen’s insurance until December, and it wouldn’t take effect until January. Since I’m sitting at my desk considering what would happen if I jumped out my office window (which doesn’t actually open, so don’t worry it’s not a real, viable suicide plan) I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t wait five months to get another appointment.

Anyway, so I signed up for an appointment on Thursday with the woman who will charge me $75.00. I will pay it out of pocket. And then I’m going to have to come up with an alternative plan. I just don’t know what.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

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Best Friend Bags

Okay, so, the knitting and blocking done on the Best Friend Bags I got up this morning ready to get to the hard part: the sewing, the seaming, and more sewing followed by, yes, sewing. (Just so you’re not surprised, it all goes horribly wrong of course.) Anyway, so, first thing: I cut the lining from the remains of the material I used to make my wedding dress (don’t worry, I have enough to make another wedding dress.) Then I seamed the knitted portion of the bags about ¾ of the way (according to the pattern) and seamed the lining a similar distance. Next, I sewed the zipper to the lining. Yes, I know the pattern doesn’t call for a zipper but in my journeys into the local craft stores I couldn’t find the metal clasps called for in the pattern (surprise!) and I’m way too impatient to actually order over the internet. So I decided to go for a zipper. Anyway, after hours of hand sewing the zipper in (it seemed like) I then sewed the zipper and lining into the bag. And this is when things go horribly wrong.

Once I had the zipper and lining sewn into the bag I, to my horror found that I could not open the zipper. Through a combination of sewing the zipper too closely to the lining and the bag and the zipper generally being a cheap piece of crap, it would not open. Yanking on it did not help, going back and coming forward again did not help. Nothing helped. And there’s no way I’m sending my arthritic grandmother a bag with a zipper that I can’t open. So I went to plan B. I ripped the lining and zipper out of the bag, ripped the zipper out of the lining and prepared to start again, intending to put in a button closure (I went on a bit of a button buying extravaganza at JoAnn’s yesterday.) Then I realized that I would have to clip portions of the knitting and somehow secure a buttonhole. Um. No. So then I thought about it and decided to go with Plan C. Plan C called for seaming the sides of the bag and lining all the way up and then adding a drawstring closure. So I seamed up the bag (looking good) then I seamed up the lining. Fuck. The lining, when seamed all the way to top, was so tight that I couldn’t fit my hand through it. No, no, no.

Finally, sick of sewing and ripping seams and sewing again (and with the lining fabric looking pretty frayed by this point) I decided to modify Plan C just a tad. I nixed the idea of a lining altogether, went with the drawstring closure and installed really pretty beads on the front, the back, and at the ends of the drawstring.

While I’m disappointed with my inability to successfully install the lining, I’m really happy with the finished project. Stats:

Pattern: Best Friend Bags from Knitty
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in pink and peach
Needles: Size 3 straights
Notions: Blue Moon Beads bought at JoAnn’s

Lovely yarn, lovely (cheap!) beads, and lovely finished product. The bags and the finished Lilies will be shipped off, one each, to my grandmother and Stephen’s grandmother sometime next week. I hope they like them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

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Wee Update

This will be fast. I'm working on a couple of different posts. One will be a follow up to my "Clothes Make the Woman" post and another will address the negative reaction to the cover of BabyTalk magazine (for those of you not in the know: BabyTalk, a magazine aimed at parents of babies (duh), put a picture of a breastfeeding baby on its cover. Chaos ensued.) I feel like these are related topics, so hopefully I will have written something that I feel like posting in the near future.

On to the real update though: last night I finished my second Lily. I plan to post pictures of the Lilies in progress and the finished Lilies tonight.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Have Learned that Blogger Does Not Like to Link to Clapotis

Seriously, yesterday, I had a link to the Clapotis pattern page in my post, and Blogger refused to publish it. Instead it cut off the Clapotis link and everything below it. I have no idea why. It also refused to publish my pictures last night. Again, I have no idea why. Tonight, I will try to post those pictures again, although I did see that there is a scheduled outage today so, maybe tomorrow? Whenever things are up and running again. However, because of these technical difficulties I’m not going to bother linking directly to the Clapotis page, I will just link to Knitty. Besides, I think everyone reading this blog for the knitting content has already made Clapotis and knows where to find the pattern, so it should be fine.

Anyway, I finished one Lily last night and continued working on the other. Project Stats:

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in pink and dusty pink (for the flowers,) and yellow (for the stamen,) and Baby Ull in spring green (for the stems)
Needles: Size 3 dpns
Pattern: Lilies from Knitty
Mods: None (unless you count using different yarn)

I’m using baby cashmerino because I have several odd skeins of it in my stash, and it’s working out really well. I did not check gauge, because it’s not something that needs to fit. I like the pattern. Before I actually read the pattern I assumed that the stem, blossom and stamen were worked separately and then sewn together. I’m pleased to tell you that this is not the case. Instead the entire flower is worked in one piece, starting with an I-cord stem, then the blossom is worked, ending with an I-cord stamen.

I really like how the pattern is worked. Since it’s all in one piece there is no sewing necessary. Basically you work the stem, then join the yarn for the blossom. From there you create a wide cone shape. Then short rows are used to first knit up to a point (for the pointy tip of the blossom) and used to reduce back down to form the inner blossom fabric. Once you’re done with the short rows you then reduce the number of stitches gradually until there are only a few left, and then knit an I-cord stamen. When you’re all done with the knitting, the fabric of the inner blossom is pulled down inside and secured in place by pulling all of the yarn ends (the main color end, the start and end of the yarn for the stamen) down and out at the point where the stem meets with the blossom. It’s clever construction, it’s fast and easy, the instructions are well written and simple to follow. I’m really digging this pattern. In fact, I’m thinking of making one for myself when I’m done knitting for the grandmothers.

With any luck I will post pictures of the finished Lily and the unfinished Lily tonight. Incidentally, the pattern actually calls for a bit of floral wire to be inserted into the Lily so that it will hold it’s shape. I have not done this yet and I don’t think that it’s absolutely necessary. However, I may go looking for floral wire because I think that if I make one for myself I would like to wear it in my hair (if said hair will cooperate) and I think the addition of the wire would make that work a lot better.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Time for Random Tuesday

1. There is no coffee. No coffee at work and no coffee at home. No coffee. Please kill me now. Update: I just did something I swore I would never do. I microwaved coffee that has been sitting in the pot since yesterday. Just to take the edge off, I swear.

2. I cry a lot. I think this is probably bad.

3. The weekend is a blur. My home is not made to house a toddler, an infant, my sister and a puppy. My dog has still not forgiven me.

4. I do remember enjoying the weekend in spite of number three. My nieces are cute (and well-mannered, I might add.) The puppy was cute. My sister is a wonderful woman.

5. Work is kicking my ass. I am also kicking my own ass.

6. I have finished the knitting on the first Best Friend Bag. Unfortunately, because I did not bother to even check my gauge, it is two and a half to three inches too long. I have decided that those extra inches will make the bag look jackassed so I need to rip back, but I foolishly wove the ends in before I measured the knitting. now I have to find my end, remove it, unbind off and rip back.

7. I am making Lilies for the grandmothers as well. I have, so far, finished one lily about halfway and the other about three-quarters of the way. I started one lily and ran out of yarn halfway through, then I cast on for the second lily (since I had no more yarn and it was Sunday and the yarn store was closed) and am about three-quarters of the way done with it as of last night. I would probably be done with it if I hadn’t spent so much time sobbing last night.

8. My parents are in the woods. To be specific, they are in the Olympic National Park hiking for a week. I wish that I was in the woods for a week. I think the lack of civilization and other people would be good for me.

9. I made cherry jam on Sunday (after the wee ones had gone.) It seems to have gelled really well. I was lazy and used the inversion method so if I get botulism and die then it is my own fault. In my defense, by the time I had completed the jam making it was all I could do to keep from laying down on the kitchen floor and having a bit of a lie down, as the yarn harlot might say, so I really can’t be blamed for taking the easy way out on the jam.

10. I went to the yarn store yesterday to buy more yarn so that I can finish my half-finished lily. I have not been to the yarn store since I bought the yarn for my second punk rock purse. That means that I have not shopped for yarn since the end of June. It is now August. I’ll give you a moment to process that.

Okay, so, first: I only bought what I came in to buy, another skein of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in pink to finish my first lily. However, I did have a good look around while I was there and I have to tell you that it was good. I have ideas. One of the ideas floating around in my head is to make a full-sized Clapotis from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport. By my calculations this would cut the cost of the Clapotis in half and I could get the yarn in any of the colorways that Lorna’s Laces makes. The down side would be that Shepherd Sport is superwash wool, not a yummy silk and wool blend. I also discovered that I have a fervent wish to make the Eyelet Camisole from the Summer IK. I will be substituting cotton for the linen yarn recommended (because it’s cheaper, I have found a cotton I really like and I can’t even fathom what would induce a person to knit with linen. Talk about hard on your hands! Of course, if anyone out there knows of a good source of soft linen, I would be willing to think about it, price permitting.)

11. This is a long post, but I just had to tell you that I had my first near-death experience on my bike last week. I was riding home on Thursday afternoon, and I came up to an intersection where people coming from a side street tend to blow right on through the stop sign at the intersection with the arterial (that I was on) and just keep on going. I know this. I also saw this woman coming (which is a very good thing.) I saw her, at the top of the hill, coming down to the stop sign. At this point I’m going uphill, I have the right of way, and I really don’t want to have to stop if I don’t have to since I’m going uphill and it’s a pain in the ass to get going again if you stop. Anyway, so I see her but I’m still counting on her stopping somewhere in the vicinity of the stop sign. Because it’s like, red, and octagonal, and there, you know? Of course, she doesn’t stop. Not only does she not stop, she blows through that stop sign like it doesn’t exist and is halfway out into the arterial, inches from my front tire, when she slams on her brakes, looks kind of scared and asks me if I’m okay. I’m fine, of course, because at the last minute I realized that she really wasn’t going to stop so I stopped. Moral of the story: you cannot expect that people driving cars will obey the rules of the road. They are surrounded in metal. They will hit you, and then keep going if you’re not careful.

Friday, August 04, 2006

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Construction Hell

Yep. The construction of the Laura Jane Bear was hell. Before I get into the specifics, let me give you the vital statistics:

Pattern: Laura Jane Bear from Magknits
Yarn: Lamb’s Pride Worsted in rose and onyx
Needles: Size 6 straights
Mods: None (except yarn substitution)

So, as I’ve mentioned previously, the bear is knitted in pieces: a head, two arms, two legs, two soles, a body, four ear halves, and a tummy patch. That’s thirteen separate pieces that have to be seamed up, stuffed and then sewn together to form the bear. Let’s start with the head. When you knit the head piece you end up with a shape that resembles a T. The directions tell you to seam up the sides of the head, stuff, then gather together and pull tight for the neck. I read these directions over and over again and looked at the T shaped piece in my hand and could not for the life of me figure out what the fuck I was expected to do. Finally, Stephen came home and he figured it out in about 30 seconds. Thank god. So, just in case you were planning to make this bear, this is how you construct the head: okay, you lay out the head flat. Got it? Good. Now, take the two sides of the top bar of the "T" and bring the short ends together. Now, bring the long base of the "T"up and over so that the short end of the base of the "T" meets up with the short ends of the top bar of the "T" that you have just brought together. Now, look at it. See how the little bumps formed from the increasing and decreasing you did are roughly where the ears should go? And see how the short ends of the top bar of the "T," brought together, form a vertical seam that resembles the mouth of the teddy? Good. Now, don’t do what I did. I seamed up the bottom (neck) seam first, and then sewed the other seams. Bad idea jeans. Instead, what you should do is sew the base of the "T" to the top bar of the "T," then sew the bottom (neck) seam. Why? Because when you stop and leave a gap for the stuffing in the neck, and then you stuff, and then you sew up the little gap any wonkiness with the sewing up of the stuffing gap will be hidden when the head is sewn to the body.

Now, I don’t mean to knock the pattern here, but seriously, if I wasn’t married to an extremely visual guy I’m not sure that I would have ever figured out how to sew the head together. I just wasn’t getting it. What this pattern really needs is a good schematic. In fact, I’m thinking of drawing my own rudimentary schematic just to save the ass of other people like me. Anyway, onto the body. The body is pretty easy to figure out, in terms of the sewing up, since there is only one seam. I was stymied when I tried to figure out which way it goes. What I mean is, there is a bulge in one side of the body created by some clever shaping. Should the bulge go in the back (to form a butt for the bear) or should it go in the front (to form a pot belly?) Ultimately I decided that my bear should have a pot belly.

Now, the arms are easy (just one seam) but the legs are a little bit tricky. I think that anyone could figure out how to seam them up, but it is a little tricky when you sew the sole to the bottom of the foot. Not difficult, just a little tricky. Lastly, of course, you have to sew everything together (and sew the tummy patch on.) I found this to be a little fiddly. I also found that I really needed to go back and add some stabilizing stitches, especially for the head. The head is a little large, a little top heavy, and if you don’t want your bear to constantly have a head swiveling atop a narrow ridge line you’re going to have to add some stabilizing stitches all the way around. Ditto for the arms and legs.

Even though the sewing up gave me fits, I like the finished product. She’s cute, isn’t she?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Completely HAPPY Post

Hey All. Glad to see that you’re still with me (you’re still with me, right?) My blogging lately has definitely been skewed towards my deep-seated psychological problems rather than my knitting. Yeah. I know. You come here for the knitting.

Anyway, I wanted to talk just a little bit about child abuse today. First, I wanted to say that you should all go over and read some of the entries on the second blog carnival against child abuse here. Oh? What’s that? You weren’t abused as a child and so you don’t care to read about other’s experiences of abuse? Child abuse doesn’t affect your life? Really? Well, consider this: ridiculously large numbers of people in our society have been abused as children. Statistics are pretty meaningless, but, just for fun, consider these: one in five boys and one in four girls are victims of childhood sexual abuse. There are many, many people living with the scars of child abuse all around us. And even more depressingly, there are many, many children still living in abusive situations right now, as I’m writing these words. What does this mean? It means that even if you were not abused as a child, and your spouse wasn’t, and your mother wasn’t, you know someone that was, even if you don’t know that they were. (That made sense, right?)

And you know the scary thing about child abuse? We all like to think that it’s (scary looking) strangers hiding in bushes waiting to kidnap and abuse our children. In reality those cases represent a minuscule number of child abuse cases. In most instances of child abuse, it is someone that is known and trusted that perpetrates the abuse. Let me say that again because I want you all out there to hear me when I say this: THE PERSON MOST LIKELY TO ABUSE YOUR CHILD IS SOMEONE THAT YOU KNOW AND TRUST WITH YOUR CHILD. Did you hear me that time? I know that there are some people who are reading this that are thinking, Yeah, Yeah, I know that but it couldn’t happen to me. I would know if my child’s teacher/daycare provider/uncle/priest/pastor/father/brother/grandmother/old family friend, was abusing my child. I would know. There’s no way that someone as disgusting and despicable as a child abuser could possibly slip under my incredibly honed parent radar. Well you know what? We all think that. We all believe that. And yet, it is patently, demonstrably untrue. All you have to do is take a look at the child abuse scandal that is currently (still) rocking the catholic church. Do you think any of the parents whose children were abused by their priest at any time thought that it was even possible that their priest, their trusted religious advisor and confidant, was capable of molesting their child, of taking their precious, innocent baby into the back room and doing horrible, despicable, sadistic things to them? No, of course not.

So why am I talking about this? What does it matter to you? Well, if you have children, then it matters that you are aware that there is a risk to your child of abuse, and that you talk to your children about what to do if they are abused by someone. Even someone that you know and trust and like. It’s equally important that you yourself are prepared to hear from your child that they have been abused. All too often when victims tell, they are met with disbelief. If you don’t have children, then it’s important to understand that there are lots of people walking around out there still dealing with the unthinkable. Dealing with the thing that should never happen to anyone, that never should have happened to them. Maybe if we all make an effort to understand what being the victim of child abuse means, we can all spare a little compassion for those in our midst who are still dealing with it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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Moving Along at a Snail's Pace

The knitting has been kept to a minimum around here. I did manage to finish, oh, a row on the Best Friend purse last night. It’s just been moving really, really slowly. What can I say? It’s summer and Stephen and I have been trying to walk the dog and make dinner at home these days. It doesn’t leave a ton of time for other things. Tonight I do plan to do something knitting related: start sewing up the Laura Jane Bear. All the pieces are dry, so it’s time. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Let me tell you about the Laura Jane Bear. It’s really cute. Click on the link and go look. Not only that but the shaping is completely new to me. Basically, each piece is shaped really cleverly through the use of increases and decreases, creating little pointy shapes, and really wide shapes. I was completely in the dark about what was going on until I actually saw the first finished piece (the head) and then I was pleasantly surprised at the finished piece. Hopefully I will be equally delighted when I sew it up tonight.

The one drawback to this pattern is that each piece is worked separately, and therefore, must be sewn up separately. In other words, there will be a lot of seaming going on at my house. But you know what? For some weird reason I’m really looking forward to it. I think I’m looking forward to it because it’s a new project (instead of yet another repeat of something I’ve already done) and I’m quite excited to see what it looks like when it’s done. Unlike a sweater, where you can really see what it’s going to look like before you seam it, this is different. The bear is in pieces and although I know what it should look like, since I have the pattern photo, I still don’t know what my bear will look like. It’s exciting.

And that brings me to my next dilemma. What to do with the bear? I know that I want one of these for myself but I really feel like I should give the bear away. I have two nieces, after all, both of whom have been deprived of stuffed knitted objects from their aunt. What I’m thinking, in fact, is that maybe I will keep the bear until a birthday or Christmas rolls around, then give it away. That way, I have a few months of the bear to myself, and then I still get to give it away. Plus, I have a finished present. It’s a good idea. Of course, I may just send it off next week, depending on my mood. I’m capricious, I’m complex. Sometimes I just want to unburden myself of knitted objects. Know what I mean?

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