Wednesday, May 13, 2009

6 Reasons to Go See the New Star Trek Movie, and One Thing That is Bugging Me

1) His new understanding of the space-time continuum allows JJ Abrams to recreate the entire timeline without screwing up the original

2) Captain Kirk has sex with a green girl

3) They kill a Redshirt.

4) These guys:

are way hotter than these guys:

5) The knitwear:

I want to make Scotty's hat. More importantly, I believe that Spock is wearing a Snuggie Monster. I have invented the sweater of tomorrow. The future is now!!!

6) It was AWESOME.


The One Thing That Bugs Me:

When Kirk meets Scotty, Scotty tells a story about how he transported Admiral Archer’s favorite pet beagle and it was never seen again. It seems safe to assume that the Archer in question is, in fact, the beagle-owning Captain Archer of the Enterprise series. HOWEVER, Enteprise is supposed to take place 150 years before the original Star Trek series, i.e., 150 years before the events of this film take place. Which would make Admiral Archer about 200 years old. Even given the possibility of increased human life spans or any possible argument about relativistic time lags between faster-than-light and sub-light travel (which would be moot because Enterprise always had warp drives), 200 years seems unlikely. Thank you. And now back to your regularly scheduled awesomeness.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kayaking - Yay!

Today was the great Kayaking Experiment, which turned out to be a success. I was slightly misled about where said kayaking was taking place, however. The company's name was Billington Sea Kayaking, which I read as "Billington - Sea Kayaking," but which was in fact "Billington Sea - Kayaking." In other words, I went kayaking on the Billington Sea rather than kayaking on the sea with Billington. Who knew that Plymouth boasted an inland sea? All 300 acres of 11-foot deep water of it right there smack dab in the middle of the South Shore for anyone to kayak on. Crazy.

I made it to the kayak shop successfully right at 10am and while I was waiting for the gang I talked to Ross and Ben about pirates, the merchant marine, and the idiocy of gun control laws that ban only scary-looking guns but not weenie-looking ones that are just as deadly. Then Ross showed me all sorts of paddles and I learned about surface area and wind resistance & stuff, and then I learned all about dry suits and wet suits and neoprene and polar fleece and lycra. Then the gang showed up and Ben and Alex taught us how to get into the kayak from the dock, which truly was easier than it looked, and no one fell in, not even me or M. We all got into the kayaks and paddled around for an hour and a half, bumping into each other and getting splashed, and it was awesome.

My kayak was a yellow-orange-red 12.5' Riot Edge, which I christened The Billington Sea Flame, and I am now ready to load her up with grog and my arsenal of knitting needles, and take to the Seven Seas in search of plunder and glory. I'll take that Letter of Marque now, Mr. President. Pirates of the world beware: Don't mess with me and the Sea Flame, or you'll get 14 inches of Boye Aluminum size 13 right in the eye.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Airborne Even-Toed Ungulates Attack

Thanks to Janet Napolitano for declaring a Public Health Emergency in order to prepare for a potential swine flu epidemic. I am especially grateful because this will mean that there is Tamiflu available for the latest strain, which is apparently a swine-human-avian flu virus. What happens when you cross swine flu and avian flu? Flying Pig Flu. That's right, people. No more of this "when pigs fly" crap. They are already in the air. Borne aloft on the breeze, they will spread from person to person. Soon we should start to see a number of other highly improbable events come to pass, including:

1) Kim Jong-Il will realize he's a crazed, megalomaniacal demagogue and have himself committed for the sake of his people and all the peoples of the world. (That's demagogue, not demigod, you puny, freakish moron)
2) Angelina Jolie will admit that she's nothing but a talentless set of walking knockers and will stop making babies to cover up that fact.
3) Dick Cheney will admit he was President of the United States for eight years, and
4) that yeah, that whole WMD thing really was just an excuse to get Halliburton in control of a huge segment of the Middle Eastern oil industry.
5) Indian conglomerates will snap up failing U.S. businesses, become world leaders of industry, and start outsourcing their labor to economically depressed regions like North America.
6) American Idol will be canceled because people realize it's brain-killing, peurile crap designed to keep them from paying attention to the general shittiness of their lives and from actually getting off their asses and doing something about it. Then they will rise in the streets and the revolution will start.
7) The Democratic Party of the United States will nominate a vibrant, idealistic black man for president before they nominate an experienced, politically savvy white woman and
8) American citizens elect him rather than an even-more-experienced, down-to-earth, establishment-approved white man.

Screw the Tamiflu.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


You know how you happen to glance at something and suddenly, without any rumination whatsoever, an idea will pop into your head fully-formed? Well, J's iChat avatar this week (for part of it, anyway) was the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. His quote was "With the thoughts I'd be thinkin', I could be another Lincoln..." Now, some might disupute that J could be another Lincoln, but as he is my only reader, I will not.

Well, for whatever reason, seeing the Scarecrow suddenly and without transition brought a question/concern/conundrum into my head. Dorothy flies to Oz, lands her house on the Wicked Witch of the East, and kills her. Glenda asks if she’s a good witch or a bad witch, but of course she’s neither—she’s an outsider from another world. So Dorothy then goes on a journey through this mystical land, and ends up killing the other Bad Witch, which nobody in Oz had apparently thought to do for themselves. Then she flies away again, this time in a balloon piloted by another outsider who has until recently been dictator-for-life. So here's my issue:

Dorothy isn't even from there. She's not a citizen, she doesn't pay taxes, she comes in without so much as a by-your-leave, completely disrupts the status quo and balance of power, and then disappears. What about the people left behind who suddenly have to deal with the power vacuum? How long would the two good witches actually remain good with all that BadWitch real estate opening up? The whole system of checks and balances would crumble and fall apart and you'd end up with a pair of tyrants floating around in bubbles forcing people to starch their skirts and wear glitter.

So what seems like a fairy tale about being transported to a magical land and becoming a hero by killing the baddies, is, from the Ozian’s perspective, nothing more than the machinations of a foreign power to impose its own moral imperative and system of governance. And of course the Ozians are all dancing with exuberance at the end, because the book was written by a white male Westerner and of course those poor downtrodden yoiks are thrilled to be liberated from tyranny and intellectual and moral stagnation.

Of course what really happened is that as soon as the balloon was out of sight, anarchy set in and the Emerald City became an unpoliced criminal paradise since with his new brains the Scarecrow realized that the Emerald Guard needed something to do now that the Witch was dead, and why not turn them into a mercenary army and make a little money off it; the GoodWitches put all of the Munchkins into indentured servitude in the poppy fields to make heroin; the Tin Woodsman chopped down the talking trees to burn them for charcoal so that he could sell it to buy food for the law-abiding but now homeless noncriminal refugees from the City; the lion went on a fearless heroin-driven rampage and had to be put down; and the flying monkeys ruled the air, throwing poop bombs at everyone with impunity.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Also on the Sticks

Congrats to Abby on her 2nd Boston Marathon! 26.2 to cure cancer! Way to rock the sticks attached to your feet. You are my hero!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the Sticks

I haven't blogged in a bit, but that's not because I'm trying to imitate Franklin Habit (Franklin, where are you?). Nor is it because I don't have anything to say. I am currently working on a theory whereby knitting is like writing a sonnet but it's not quite ready for public consumption yet.

Also not quite ready yet are the Ruffled Stole and Edwardian Teddy Bear with Swimsuit. Since I couldn't decide on the next project I figured I'd do two at once. As with the Snuggie Monster and Peep-Bo, I figured I'd do one project that had a lot of boring repetition and one that had a lot of interesting things going on. The problem is that both are full of boring repetition, with the occasional dropped stitch on the stole enlivening things by requiring a bunch of un-knitting (the yarn's too fluffy and I'm too inexperienced to figure out where things have gone wrong), and the increases and decreases on the swath of stockinette that will eventually be the bear requiring a certain degree of focus.

So far, what I have learned is that when making a bear in pieces, one must be mindful of one's tension, or the bear will have one leg slightly shorter than the other. Not enough shorter to do the whole thing over again, just shorter enough that if he were wearing shoes he'd need one sole thicker than the other. Another important item of information is that I am not knitting the swimsuit. I think it's ridiculous to put a bear knitted in wool into a swimsuit. So I'm going to knit him a sweater instead. Or possibly just let him run around naked, given my problems with sweaters.

The Ruffled Stole, on the other hand, is turning out just about perfectly thanks to my willingness to rip, and looks nice half-finished on my coffee table as well. My main concern is that it is too lacy and lavender and Great-Aunt-Eunice, but we'll see what happens when it is actually done. (BTW, I don't have a Great-Aunt-Eunice, but there was a very nice lady named Eunice at the nursing home Mom used to take us to visit when I was a kid who would give us raisins and who had extremely long, perfectly straight, perfectly white hair. My actual great-aunts, who were, at one happy time, legion, would never, ever wear this thing. They were all ball-busters. Props to Aunt Frances, Aunt Virginia, my other Aunt Virginia who we called Aunt Louise because she hated that she had been named Virginia, and whose friends all called her "Kelly", and my other Aunt Frances. And while I'm at it, props to the Grammas as well. Love and miss you, and why did none of you ever teach me to knit? Oh yeah. Ball-busters.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Two irksome things

Two things have really, really irked me this week. Well, it was really one thing that irked me for the last two weeks and one thing that's irking me as of today, but if you take the average it all works out.

People who assign moral value to their caloric intake. Last week I bought a package of peanut butter cups out of the vending machine. In a valiant display of self-sacrifice and generosity I offered one of the said peanut butter cups to a companion, who responded, "No, thanks, I'm being good today." Will someone please tell me how not eating a peanut butter cup makes you "good?" Does the fact that I then ate both make me a sinkhole of moral filth and contagion?

I'm sure it's part of our essentially Puritanical streak (this is New England after all) that whispers to us that anything pleasurable is evil. But you'd think they'd appreciate the fact that by consuming 260 delicious calories of peanut butter-and-chocolate confection, I was giving jobs to all of the hard-working people involved in making, packaging, warehousing, transporting, and selling said candy. I was also giving jobs to all the people involved in managing, stocking, and cleaning my gym, where I burned off that 260 calories in 45 minutes on the treadmill.

The real reason we assign these moral values is this: It makes us feel superior. If my friend had said "No thanks, I'm trying to lose five pounds," then the unspoken admission would be that she is self-conscious about her weight. By making the refusal a moral issue, she doesn't have to admit that it's about her weight at all--it's about being "good," which is more noble than being worried about how she looks. The fact that we think of food in terms of "good" and "bad" at all shows that we're a lot less healthy than we ought to be.

2) Writers who can't be bothered to cite things properly. I've got a freelance gig copyediting a textbook. There is a famous quotation in this book that was cited in the references. This citation listed the author's name incorrectly. It also listed the date of the publication from which the quote was taken incorrectly. The publication from which the quote was taken was an anthology of quotations. Not only could these experts in their field not get the name of the author right, they also couldn't be bothered to take 5 minutes and look online for the original source. (I know it only took 5 minutes because I did it and fixed it for them.) I realize that morally speaking this does not compare with eating peanut butter cups, but I think it's shockingly sloppy for someone writing a textbook, and I have no patience for this kind of laziness and shoddy scholarship.

Now I've got that off my chest, I can settle back down to my Doritos and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Oh, and here's my rainbow, courtesy of Rabbitch:
Your rainbow is strongly shaded violet.


What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

It is also to Rabbitch that I owe this:

Thank you, Rabbitch. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I have no idea what to do next

I examined the beginner-ish stash last weekend. There is a surprising amount of yarn in it given that to date I have knitted 1 weird messenger bag type thing, 3 scarves, 1 pair of mittens, 1 hat, 1 Snuggie Monster, 1 sheep, and 1 cute little bag.

Given that I should have plenty of yarn to choose from, it should be easy to determine the next project.

1) 1 ginormous fluffy ball of Lion Brand Romance, which I could make a lovely ruffled stole from
2) 2 skeins sock yarn, socks, for the knitting of, which I am scared to attempt
3) what I hope is enough yarn to make the Debbie Bliss "Edwardian Bear"
4) 1 skein Lion Brand homespun to make my mom a hat with
5) Tons more moonlight mohair with interesting contrasting DK to make another cute little bag
6) 1 skein Patons Kroy sock yarn in Summer Moss which isn't enough for socks but which I love
7) 4 skeins Blue Sky alpaca which are Sacred unto the Unknown Project
8) 2 skeins Cascade Yarns Peruvian Wool which I'm not sure I have enough of to make anything I want but which I also love
9) 1 skein Patons SWS in a pretty purplish color which I thought I was going to make arm warmers out of but now I'm not sure I have enough
10) 12 skeins Red Heart Designer Sport in Brick, which is obviously the next sweater project except that I'm now traumatized by the Snuggie Monster and have an inferiority complex given by Interweave Knits Knitter's Daily, where all they talk about is how the pattern should be adjusted here and there to fit better and I don't even know my measurements and it's all just TOO HARD but not really it's just a lot of time invested in something that may or may not look good so I'm not going to knit that sweater just yet.
11) Random half-balls and extra skeins from other projects that will molder away until I find a "stash buster" project that doesn't look like it was knit by a color-blind rhesus monkey

I also have several books of patterns, not to mention the binder I'm putting together of projects found in the library and online, and I've got nothing. No idea. I am not inspired. I'm worried that I'm going to make something I don't care about just because I need to be knitting. That's like drinking bad whisky because you're an alcoholic.

SO clearly I will have to meditate on the subject. Perhaps tomorrow I will enter a craft store and buy another skein of the Patons Kroy Summer Moss sock yarn. No one will notice if the dye lots don't match because they're on separate feet, right? Or maybe I can knit the feet of each sock from one skein and the legs from the other? Anything is possible.

Obviously what I really need to do is go cook a pork chop and watch Lost while eating it. And here's the turkey who lives in my apartment complex showing off. I love spring.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Patterns that Lie

I haven't finished anything this week. After sewing up Peep-Bo, I moved on to "Jet," one of the patterns in 25 Bags to Knit, which I picked up at the Brattle Bookshop a couple of weekends ago for a mere $7.50. (There are actually only about 5 different patterns in the book, with 5 color variations for each, but it has great pictures and lots of color ideas.) I went to the stash for yarn to use and realized that this was a perfect opportunity to play with some of the Moonlight Mohair I picked up at OSJL a couple of months ago. I also picked up some Red Heart Designer Sport, since the pattern calls for a combination of mohair and DK.

Having learned the lesson of the Snuggie Monster, I swatched. Then I swatched again. Third time was the charm--I finally settled on 2 strands of the DK and one strand of the MM and made the 4 inches across 14 sts/19 rows. Hooray! Swatching to Success! Then I read the pattern again, and said "WTF?" The final size of the bag was listed as 7" x 7-1/2". The gauge indicated by the pattern is the aforementioned 14 sts/19 rows = 4". The pattern instructs one to cast on 50 sts. FIFTY. For each side. Even given a seam allowance, that would seem to indicate that the bag would be at least a foot across. NOT 7". However, like the obedient beginner I am, I followed instructions. I knit the entire first side. And it was, indeed, a foot across. I don't want a bag that's a foot across. I want a bag that's 7" across. I therefore chanted my new mantra and frogged the whole thing. Then I started again by casting on 30 sts. I now have the front of the bag finished, and it's coming in at a respectable 8" or so, which will give me the size bag I so earnestly desire.

I have a major beef now. There was obviously something wrong with the pattern. This happened on Peep-Bo, too, but when I looked online, I found corrections on the author's website (thank you Claire Crompton!). For 25 Bags to Knit, I dug everywhere I could to find a list of corrections and found nothing. The author apparently had a website at one time, but it was defunct. Neither publisher (the title pubbed in the U.S. and U.K.) had corrections available on their websites and I didn't want to wade through the process of emailing them and waiting for some editorial intern to look up from the slush pile in order to tell me that they don't keep corrections lists and I'd have to check the author's (nonexistent) website.

What are we beginners supposed to do when even the simplest patterns lie? How are we supposed to learn trust and affection for the patterns we work from when they seem to be universally untrustworthy? The only good thing I can see emerging from this pattern (hah) is that I'm learning what kind of knitter I am--a smartypants one. I've realized that I can read a pattern and see that it makes no sense, and then I can go back and fix it. I can figure it out. And I really like the figuring-out part, even if it means I frog everything I've done in the last week. The other thing I've figured out is that I really like the fabric the pattern in this particular project makes. It's straightforward--R1 is knit across, and R2 is k1, p1 across--but the result is a really dense, sturdy-feeling fabric that I would like to use again. Maybe on a cushion cover or something? I think, perhaps, that the best way to make sure I don't have to depend on patterns that lie or lists of corrections that may or may not exist online is to invent my own. Every project I do teaches me a little bit more about what I'm doing and how knitting works, and every bit I learn leads me closer to being able to invent my own projects. Knitting is a perfect balance between the indulgence of pathologically compulsive repetitive behaviors and the exertion of creative energy and problem-solving skills. It is the ideal expressive medium for the lazy, artistic, crisis-oriented neurotic. It is, in fact, the perfect pasttime.

P.S.: Speaking of pasttimes, K won Red Sox tickets at Abby's Boston Marathon fundraiser last night. Boston v. Seattle. Guess who's going with her! My dilemma with any Boston v. Seattle game is who to root for, but it becomes immaterial after the second $8 Bud Light. And there is seriously nothing more life-affirming than eating baseball food in Fenway Park, the oldest pro baseball stadium in the country. It's a shame it'll turn 100 the same year the world is supposed to end. But since the apocalypse isn't due till December, we should all still be able to go the party.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Winter Ensemble and a Sheep

I took a trip to Michael's on Friday and didn't purchase any yarn though I did buy two pairs of straight needles (Boye aluminums, sizes 13 and 15) to further round out the needle stash. There's a clearance sale at Stitch House that I haven't visited yet. I didn't go for a ride this weekend because there's something going on with the gear shift on my bike, which needs a tune-up anyway, but I didn't take it into the shop. No, I've stayed in, finished reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons, watched a couple episodes of Alias on DVD (in spite of my appreciation for JJ Abrams, it's just not doing it for me), drunk 3 cups of ginger tea, and finished Peep-Bo, the loop stitch sheep that saved me from brain death during the weeks of stockinette stitch required on the Snuggie Monster. Peep-Bo is both a matter of pride and some disappointment. In spite of following the pattern she didn't come out exactly like the one in the book, and she has some bald spots where the seams for the underbelly and main body meet. The only thing I can figure out is that instead of binding off after a k1 tbl row, I should have bound off after the loop stitch row. Still, Peep-Bo is awful cute. I'm feeling done with sheep though, so that alpaca will just have to wait quietly for a new inspiration.

This means I can also finally share the Winter Ensemble, as modelled by Nigel. Note the hat, the mittens, and the scarf. All of which were made by me! All 3 were done from patterns I found online. The hat came out bigger than anticipated because I went a size up on the needles--I'm a pretty tight knitter, though I'm learning to loosen up a little bit, and I was worried about the gauge, which I didn't bother to check. Still, it's a comfy hat and warm. The scarf is my first bit of pattern knitting, and it came out really well. IMHO, it looks better than the one shown online as an example. The mittens involved 2 sizes of needle and thumb gussets. I can't tell you the thrill of pride I felt in my thumb gussets when I realized that they actually worked. I wish I could put thumb gussets on everything. (In case you're wondering, that's Sloth and Pollocks the Small Bear on the bookshelf behind Nigel.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekends Rule

This was one of those rare weekends we get sometimes in New England. Spring isn't quite here but it's definitely not winter, either. It was in the mid-fifties and sunny and clear; the brisk breezes were still; and there was nothing to do but get out and enjoy it. So of course it was also the weekend I finished my first sweater project and had to stay inside to make it up.

The sweater is based on the Skully pattern in Stitch & Bitch, but without the skulls or the slubby Rowan. No, I thought that any bulky-weight yarn would do, so I found Lion Brand Color Waves in Blue Lagoon at OSJL for $2/skein and figured I'd make myself a nice, easy, boxy sweater just for fun. Here's what I learned:

1) I learned to shape armholes.
2) I learned to pick up stitches around the armholes and neck.
3) I learned to make sleeves and a collar by knitting off my picked-up stitches.
4) It's practically impossible to check gauge on fuzzy yarn. DO IT ANYWAY.
5) If you decide to knit something based on the Skully pattern in Stitch & Bitch using Lion Brand Color Waves in Blue Lagoon that you bought at OSJL for $2/skein be prepared for the fact that what you are about to knit is a cross between Cookie Monster and a Snuggie, and it will in fact fit about 3 of you.
Awesome, huh?

But Beth, you ask, why O why didn't you realize that it would fit three of you once you'd finished the front? Why not rip it out and start again? What would possess you to waste so much time on something you will never ever ever wear where people can see you (and by people I also mean your parakeet Agnes)?

There are any number of answers to this, including the fact that I am obsessively completist, but here are the ones I used at the time:
• Maybe it's supposed to be that big
• Maybe once it's made up it will be smaller
• Maybe my hips are bigger than I thought
• I hate this stupid yarn and the sooner I'm done the better it only cost $2/skein anyway and it's all just practice besides I've got to learn sometime and oh my God it's going to make me look like Cookie Monster well maybe I can make a hat to go with it with googly eyes and have a Halloween costume for next year.

All of which leads me to the most important lesson, the one S&B tried to teach me, the one I've read about on every other knitting blog out there, and perhaps I kept knitting the Snuggie Monster in order to teach it to myself.

Be not afraid to rip.


I did not spend the entire weekend alternately amusing and abusing myself for the Snuggie Monster sweater. I also pumped up the tires on my bike (aka The Hoss) and took her out for her first spin of the spring.

I went down to Wompatuck State Park for my ride. It's a great park--miles of paved and unpaved trails and roads perfect for toodling around in. Some of them still had snow on them, which I rode through! I rode my bike on snow!

As I said at the beginning of this blog, it was a gorgeous weekend and today was a gorgeous day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The LYS Inferiority Complex, or, Notes From a Cheap-Ass Knitting Kn00b

Okay, so I lied about the Winter Ensemble being in the next post. The hat is still in my car and I still can't be bothered to go get it. But I stopped by Ocean State Job Lot on my way home from work and bought some more discontinued Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair for $2/skein. I am consumed by guilt that I am not shopping at my LYS, but the fact is that I am newbie enough to be scared of the LYS ladies. Not to mention the fact that I am convinced that there's no point in spending $15/skein on something that
a) I'm going to ruin
b) I'm going give up on, or
c) will make me stop knitting forever.
So instead, I keep buying yarn that will make me feel less guilty about ruining/giving up on/stopping knitting. I don't think the last will happen; this is undoubtedly a very real obsession. I just don't know if it will last. But I LOVE shopping for yarn. It's always been the most enticing section of the craft megastores (quel horreur) that have dotted my suburban landscape, even back when I took a (quel beaucoup d'horreur) toll painting class.

My Boston-area LYS experiences so far include:
Woolcott & Co in Harvard Square: Intimidatingly full of people knitting gorgeous sweaters in 100% cashmere at $50 skein, but pleasant enough when I spent $8 on a pair of Clover 10-1/2 bamboo needles.
Windsor Button in Downtown Crossing: Overwhelming. Couldn't spend a dime. I was too scared that I'd spend $22 on a skein of Noro and not know what to do with it. Ran for my life and ended up spending $14 on used knitting books at the Brattle Bookshop (and $3 on a lovely little Maxwell Parrish exhibit book that had a bunch of period photos of his model). Then I went to the Boston Public Library and spent and hour and a half gazing at Debbie Bliss teddy bear patterns and hoping I could learn to shape and decrease well enough to make an Edwardian Bear With Swimsuit.
Stitch House in Dorchester: This is the LYS that most wracks my guilt complex. Not only is it directly across the street from an apartment that I once lived happily in for 5 years, it is the closest to my current living situation. It offers many classes, including random hours of help, and monthly "Sock Club," "Sweater Club," "Felting Club," etc. meetings. (First rule of Sock Club: Don't talk about Sock Club.) I am a greenhorn! I know nothing! I don't deserve to gaze upon its yards of fibery deliciousness with my ignorant and cheap-ass eyes. It's back to liquidation outlets and craft megastores stores for me. (Shame! Shame!) I did however spend $40 on 4 hanks of Blue Sky Alpaca in #512 (the lovely dark wine color) and #517 (the ecru-ish color) and a pair of Clover #3's.
Obviously, I invested in natural fibers because I wanted to use them to knit a toy sheep from a pattern I found in a knitting book I got at Christmas Tree Shoppes for $4.99. Of course, at the time I wasn't thinking about the fact that alpacas are not sheep. Clearly this knitting thing requires more thought than I've been giving it. (Greenhorn! Kn00bs!) The LYS lady very kindly took my money, put me on the mailing list, and left me to help the 20-something Ugg-wearing hipster at the cool kids' table cast on. (Dude, I figured out casting on SIX MONTHS ago!) The problem now is that I'm on the mailing list. So I can see all the events I don't feel knowledgeable enough to attend (art felting? I just looked up felting on Google 3 weeks ago!), and all the sales I don't know enough to feel really excited about (except for the Red Heart acrylic that's going for 62¢/skein).

Here's the thing: the Blue Sky Alpaca is now Sacred. It nestles in its high-end brown paper gift bag with handles next to my re-used Stop&Shop grocery bags full of Red Heart Soft Yarn ("Wine"--no dye lot, 2 for $5 at A.C. Moore, of which the yet-to-be-revealed Winter Ensemble is knitted); Red Heart Designer Sport ("Brick"--also no dye lot, $1.25/skein at Michael's--no idea what I'm going to do with this, I have 12 skeins and it's not my color); Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair in 2 colors ($2/skein, OSJL); Lion Brand Romance in Lavender ($5/pound at OSJL); 1 skein of Paton's sock yarn (I don't even know if I WANT to knit socks--Michael's clearance sale, $2.49); etc. etc. etc., ad infinitum, ad astra, ad humiliatium. The Blue Sky Alpaca is Untouchable by my mere mortal hands. I went so far as to buy some more Red Heart Soft Yarn to knit the sheep in so I could make sure I was actually capable of making it before attempting it with the alpaca. And now I've got the whole Using-Alpaca-to-Knit-a Sheep complex, so who knows if it will ever actually happen? The alpaca could stay at the back of the stash for years till I gain the courage to actually use it.

All I know is that the last time I thought this much about something, I ended up living with him for 2 years before he dumped me. Really, the Alpaca Complex should be easy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where was I?

So: The first knitting post. I thought I'd share my two second efforts. (The first, an attempt at a garter stitch messenger bag without a pattern, is somewhere in the back of my friend K's car. She drunkenly complimented it and I drunkenly gave it to her. Friends are awesome.) These scarves were moments of extraordinary pride at the times they were finished; now (six or so months later) I see them as steps on a one-way path to knowledge.

This was an attempt at a horizontal rib using Red Heart acrylic yarn in "Painted Desert," which can be found at Wal-Mart, where I bought my "Teach Yourself to Knit" kit, for $2.49. It also includes a scratchy gray yarn left over from 10 years ago when a roommate tried to teach me crochet. (She later disappeared into a New Mexico rehab center and was never heard from again, unless you count her mother, who came to pack up her stuff and try to cover up the prescription drug addiction.) Knit 2 rows across, purl 2 rows across. If you look closely you can see where I screwed up because I didn't yet know how to tell when to knit and when to purl just by looking at the way the stitch sat on the needle. There's nothing to be done, but it looks great with my brown coat and from a distance it looks fine unless you're a knitter.
What I learned:
1) How to read the stitches on the needle.
2) A well-hung fringe convinces people that what you made is AWESOME.

This is my first proper stockinette stitch experiment. I was unaware of the curling effect of stockinette at the time and had a vision of a scarf that was perfectly flat and commercially-knit looking. I did it in Lion Suede Ecru, Denim, and Eggplant, which I got at Christmas Tree Shoppes in Pembroke, MA for $1.50/skein.
This one taught me:
1) Stockinette curls at the edges
2) Joining yarn makes you feel like you know what you're doing
3) Weaving in ends SUCKS.

I think that this one is salvageable. I love that it's long and skinny. What I think I'll do is pick up some stiches at the ends, put a little decrease in, stitch up the seam, and add tassels or pompoms to the ends, and it'll look like I did it on purpose.

Next time: The Winter Ensemble. I'm not including it this time because the hat is in my car and I can't be bothered to go out and get it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Inaugural Post, courtesy of Edna St. Vincent Millay

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body's weight upon my breast;
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity,—let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.