Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This gardening thing might not work out.

These are my tomatoes:

These are tomatoes a colleague gave to me (thank you, R!):

Tiny bit of a difference, eh?

Weather has been miserable, so all my little seeds are not in the ground. Most of them have died. I don't know what I've done wrong. Too much water? Too little? Too much sun? Not enough? I am completely ignorant in the ways of growing things, my houseplant success notwithstanding. That's pure luck.

So, buying bedding plants it will be. At least a few. Friday is supposed to be nice, it's my keep-the-crazy-away night off, and the stuff that is still alive is going in the ground. No arguments.

Knitting: I've continued working on Icarus, a row here, a row there, and the toe-up socks continue too. I'm spending much time thinking of my next project (naturally, working on something I have all ready started does not even register on my radar screen).

Question, because this is my blog, and only five people read it:

When someone you dated briefly, three years ago, and have remained friends with ever since tells you that he loves you, what does it mean? (N, I'll tell you all when you are feeling better).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Single Girl's Saturday Night

I could have gone out tonight. A very nice man did call, and under the pretense of selling me a set of encyclopedias ask me if I could give him some time and attention for a demonstration. I thought that was quite clever of him. He knows how much I like books.

However, it's my second-last day at home before going back to work, and so I chose to spend it by myself. I am almost ready to paint that damn feature wall in the dining room (why do I feel the burning need to clean before I make a mess? That's a rhetorical question).

So, Icarus and I spent some time together, and I am mid-way through chart 3. Again. No yarn-shortage worries this time, and having those decreases pointed in the right direction does make a difference. Perhaps because I know it's right now, and that's all that it needed. I still maintain that after blocking, it would make no difference, but I feel better about the quality of my work.

I hope you don't mind, J, but I'm going to share what you wrote to me personally:

"Ohmygod. I just looked at the Purloined Letter site. That's what Icarus is going to look like when you're done? What a beautiful thing! You are going to be so pleased that you went back and fixed things. Did I mention how beautiful it is? It's the kind of thing that makes people want to learn to knit, and knitters learn to be better, and non-knitters bow down before you in awe. Wow. And you say you can't pay attention to detail?"

Yup, those are the kind of photos that make a knitter want to be better. I know I am capable of great knitting. I just choose to gloss over mistakes in the blind faith (wildly optimistic hope?) that only I will notice. But, since this choice was made for me, I must take the opportunity to learn and do better. And, no, it's not that I can't pay attention to detail. I pay great attention to detail in my life. That's what makes me good at what I do (however unsatisfactory my employment situation is, I do have a gift for that kind of work), and I do find a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure in looking at things, whether it be art, spreadsheets, or knitting in great detail. It's just that sometimes, I choose to not let the errors in the details bother me. It's a balance thing. If I stressed about every little thing that only I noticed, well, I'd be in an institution right now. It's a choice. And, since I chose to finish Icarus instead of stuffing it in a basket and ignoring it, I'm going to do it right.

Here ends the lecture.

However, I did take some time to wind some of my precious Sea Silk and start swatching it. I have been searching for an appropriate stole pattern, and the most suitable one is the pattern included with the yarn, and I'm not really that fond of it (I couldn't work three rows of a swatch. Not a good sign). Then, I received the new Interweave Knits yesterday, and I'm quite attracted to this scarf pattern. I would just adjust the width to make it more of a stole than a scarf. The bottom part of the swatch is on 5.5 mm needles, the pattern suggested size. I hate it. Tiny, slippery yarn on such big needles was not at all pleasant. So, I switched to my beloved 4 mm (my favourite size, whenever I have to re-jig gauge, I always fudge it so I can use 4 mm needles). To make a long story short, I could make this, and have it done in a week or so, and then be able to enjoy it this summer, not next. So, I'm leaning that way, but will still give that other pattern another stab.

And, I've been hunting for a stole/shawl pattern for my darling, wonderful knitting teacher. I've found some beautiful designs, but nothing speaks to me more than Print of the Wave. And, finances being what they are, I went shopping in my stash and found this: It's burgundy, beige, purple and blue, which sounds like vomit, but it's not. I'm going to try a swatch and see how it works up. I have loads of it, so running out will not be a problem, thank goodness. Not wild about working with fuzzy mohair in the summer, though. This might be postponed until September, and then it would get my undivided attention for a while. The woman is 77. I can't stall too long. And speaking of not stalling, I have to get off my duff and send some photos. This week, for sure. In the interest of doing this promptly, I think I will be doing colour photocopies instead of searching for negatives from fifteen years ago. I have no desire to drive myself insane after such a lovely, peaceful week (crappy weather notwithstanding).

Oh, and toe-up socks? Pretty cool. I've turned the heel on one, and while I'm not wild about having a much tighter gusset, the short-row heel and toe? Very clever. I'm hooked!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Frog Pond

It became clear, yesterday, that I was going to run out of yarn long before I reached the point where I could shorten chart 4. Plus, I saw these photos, and which are stinking gorgeous, and I want my Icarus to look like that.
Off the needles, before frogging.
So, I frogged nine days of work. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought. I didn't cry, and didn't even touch my glass of courage until I was picking up the stitches. Strangely, I'm not as po'd about this as I thought I would be. Before I found my knitting community or started this blog, Icarus would have been stuffed into a basket and hidden away, never to be spoken of again. Now, I see it as an opportunity to get the decreases pointed in the right direction, and the shawl will be better as a result, if somewhat smaller. I actually am looking forward to re-doing charts 2 through 4. I love watching the pattern emerge. Never get tired of that.

Just about ready to start again.

Of course, tinking back an additional six rows because I stopped frogging too soon has not been fun, but it was pleasantly done at the watering hole last night while chatting with a very nice gentleman and listening to some karaoke (No, I did not get up and sing. I wasn't in the mood).

Now, if the weather would smarten up a little so I could sit outside and knit, that would be lovely. Oh yeah, and get my plants into the ground.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Barbecue and bistro set: $225 Steak and asparagus: $14
Dining al fresco in my own back yard: Priceless.
Bonus - using my own power tools and muscles to build something all-by-myself: Beyond priceless.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm on vacation!

I took this week off to work on the yard, here at Chez Peepee. Not that I have grand plans, but I need more time than the weekend affords me (if I would quit knitting three hours a day, it would help. Not gonna happen, though).

Naturally enough, the weather is horrible. Cool and overcast, when it's not pissing down rain. You can blame me for the nasty weather. It's my fault because I HAD OUTDOOR PLANS.

So, I'm spending my time working on Icarus, while intently staring out the window, waiting for a break in the gloom. When I see it, I rush outdoors, do a project and hope that I get it done before the break is over.

Much as this bothers me, there is a bright (Ha! Bright!) side to the crappy weather. Some things that need doing indoors are also being done. Things that I should have done before I moved in. Things that will make me feel much better about the space and therefore improve my state of mind. Perhaps even inspire me to do more unpacking. I do miss my books.

However, here's Icarus:

I finished the last row of chart 3 waiting for the bus tonight. At nearly 500 (edited - 435 stitches sez the pattern) stitches, it takes close to two hours to knit two rows (the wrong-side rows go much faster - no yo, k2tog or ssk's). It measures roughly 67 cm (26") from centre back to the needle. I have 17 g of yarn left, including my swatch, with 28 rows and the cast-off remaining. I may just have enough. Since I began weighing the remaining yarn obsessively, I'm using about a gram every two rows (chart 3). If I don't have enough yarn, I will eliminate a couple of the last rows of chart 4 (the last eight rows are identical).

Other miscellaneous notes:

  • I have not counted the stitches since the last row of chart one. At that point, I was four under, three over and then one short. Decided that was good enough. The first row of chart 2 fit, so I suppose my counting was off (I was watching teevee at the time).

  • Now, I know how the pattern repeat is supposed to look, and if I don't have enough stitches to do what I need to do, or it doesn't seem like I'm supposed to purl and I want to, I look at the row beneath and see what I missed, drop the stitches and fix it. I've had to drop back more than one row twice. Once three rows down, and once four rows. Thank goodness for teeny crochet hooks and spare sock needles to hold the live stitches. Lace is very forgiving - there's lots of give with all the yarn-overs, and most of the stitches eventually adjust themselves. Blocking will fix the rest.

  • I have reversed a whole bunch of the k2tog and ssk's. I just had a picture in my head of where the dominant pattern should be, and went with it. I am trained, from months of knitting socks, to k2tog first and then ssk. Charts 2 and 3 charts change the order mid-way through the chart, and I didn't catch it. I am not ripping to fix this. I bet no one will notice. Blocking hides lots of sins. Makes others apparent, but I will worry about that when I come to it. Or not.

I'm OCD about lots of things, but not whether my decreases are right- or left-leaning in a shawl. In a sweater, I would.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's a sad day in blog land

Miss Snark is hanging up her clue gun.

If you like books, if you like business, if you like hearing someone who knows what they are talking about spout off, read the archives.

I was married to a writer for eight years. I know how it is, and she tells it.

Many a stitch was knit while trolling through the posts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Decision made

AKA, shouldn't have made all that fuss.

I was very happy to get home tonight and begin playing with my new scale (only $20 CAD at Home Depot - all the scales I looked at on-line were $80, I'm feeling quite thrifty).

As you can see, the news is not good. With only 37 g remaining, I don't even need to do the math. Icarus will be completed as written. In fact, my worry extends to the other end of the spectrum, and I worry I won't have enough, with forty-or-so rows to go.

After posting my question to the Icarus Knit A Long, I realized that it would be impossible to graft two sections together. If I added a repeat, I would have more than the correct amount of stitches. Oops. (Sorry to bother you, thanks for your time, mumble, mumble, mumble).

However, good things are happening, too.

Tonight, at our final crochet class, the switch flipped. You know, when learning something new, you hate it, you wonder why you bothered, you just don't get it, and really, who needs to do this anyway? Well, that's how I felt about crochet. But, I decided to not give up quite yet, because I'd made a commitment, and I was not going to let one little stick kick me in the ass. I am Misstea, and I can (and will) do anything I want to do.

Well, wouldn't you know it, my tension eased, my rows were nice and even, and I even had the same number of stitches on each of several consecutive rows. Even moving between single and double-crochets. Wow! I get it now, it intuitively makes sense (the switch-flipping I referred to above). Whew! I don't need remedial crochet classes, I only need extra homework.

Really, I'm quite chuffed. I would show you the swatch, but evening light is this house, with my mediocre-at-best camera did not give me a satisfying result. When I'm home in daylight, I'll put it out on the grass.

So, I'm going to try the class project (a hat), and am determined to set aside some time every week to crochet. At least until the hat is done and I have more than a passing familiarity with how it all works.

Then, I'm thinking a scooped-neck summer sweater, short-sleeved, with some pretty crocheted scallops for edgings. Pink, naturally.

If I am going have time to knit all the sweaters I dream about, the office lottery pool had better have won tonight.

Never mind stop my bank account from seizing up over all the shopping I did yesterday. That deserves a post of its own but suffice to say: girls night on the ce-ment pad, coming soon!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Still dithering

I've got 12 rows to go before I must make a decision about adding extra repeats to Icarus.

Had a brain wave while at work, and decided to check Miriam Felton's blog to see what she had to say. I found the most delightful thing, an Icarus knit-a-long. I've read most of the archives tonight, and am receiving conflicting messages. Some folks are running out of yarn, and therefore adding a contrasting edging, or buying more, or fudging the end. None of those are options for me. Others have lots left over. Of course, there's no way for me to reliably calculate the odds. All those above-mentioned knitters have different gauges, needles, yarn. Too many variables.

Miriam, herself, posted and basically said that the last two charts and the edging really eat yarn, and that one should be cautious. That made my heart stop (and I cannot find that post; I'm so tired I'm cross-eyed).

I do not want to fudge the pattern and I hate the idea of adding a different yarn. There is no way I can get more of this. Each skein is unique, and even if Black Bunny came close, it would not be the same.

The only thing I can think of is buying a scale to determine the weight I have left, extrapolate the number of stitches made and remaining, and doing some funky algebra to determine if what remains will be enough.

If I hold a 50g ball of yarn in one hand, and my remaining yarn in the other, it feels the same. But, that is SOOO not scientific. And, one gram could make all the difference. That's roughly two percent of my remaining yarn. Too close to call.

So my mind remains un-made up. There is no doubt, however, that I will be practising the next charts on some scrap yarn. I really need to be able to visualize this before I go ahead.

There is some good news. I did swatch! I just didn't remember. While not blocked, I did get gauge when the swatch was slightly stretched. Size will not be a problem.

However, I do see the purchase of blocking wires in my future. I think it's the only way I will get a nice straight top edge (Yay! More knitting toys!)

In conclusion (thus far): Icarus is coming along to knit night tomorrow, to get advice and encouragement. And, I joined the knit-a-long. I'll throw my question out there, because I have not seen it addressed. specifically.

Now, to bed. I really am tired (and it's not booze or boy-related. Stupid insomnia and work).

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I'm about to begin the last partial repeat of Chart 1. Believe it or not, the bulk of this shawl is done. I've haven't even used half the yarn. I think there will be plenty left over. I don't want any to be left over. So. I'm thinking about doing a extra couple chart repeats. There's just one teeny, tiny problem.

I didn't swatch.

Yup, I admit it. The queen of the swatch did not prepare a swatch for this project. After all, the finished dimensions are reasonable, and how could a shawl not fit? Plus, I am a tall, broad woman. If a shawl turns out bigger-than-expected, that just makes it even more proportionate. If it's smaller, then it's a triangular scarf. Either way, I'm happy.

So, if I throw in the couple extra repeats, the remaining three charts will be that much wider, and use more yarn. If I use too much more yarn, I may run out. Then I would have to rip back all the way to chart one and remove the extra repeats. Right now, it takes me half an hour to do one row, and that amount of time is only going to increase. If I extrapolate that over the remaining hundred-or-so rows, that's quite a bit of time. I don't mind ripping back, but even my mind balks at potentially wasting that amount of knitting time.

I've put it aside for tonight, and will mull this over. Any comments are appreciated.

We have a finished object:

It's been a while. These socks took much longer than usual, because I'm busy with other things. However, I did a pretty fine job of making identical twins, if I do say so myself.

Turning the second heel was exciting, because I was about twelve inches of yarn off my starting place for the first sock. I was prepared to suck that up. I figured that I would re-jig my toe decreases to compensate. Then, I started the toe decreases at totally the wrong spot, because I was in a very dark bar, listing to a band that I will think be the next BIG THING. You can't blame a girl for getting all excited about the music and knitting ahead of herself. That turned out OK, I just frogged at the well-lit watering hole (one of the reasons I like it so much), and all was restored before the end of the night.

I also deviated from the basic sock recipe in that I grafted two sets of 10, rather than two sets of eight. I have several pairs of socks I've made for myself, and I really don't think I like a very pointy toe. My toes aren't pointy. This may be a permanent adjustment. Very exciting, eh? The things I ponder.

So, in need of a bar-and-bus sock, I sat down and figured out how to begin a sock using a toe-up method. I'm using this tutorial.

I think I messed up picking up a couple of the wraps. At any rate, I know I can do a better job. So, I'm going to wind the other skein, start again, and see if I've improved (which is pretty much a sure bet). If so, I will rip this one and start over.

I must admit, I struggled for a bit. I've only done a provisional cast-on once before, and this short-row toe was different from any other short-row work I've ever done before (it was the wrapping business that messed me up). That said, I felt pretty damn clever when all was said and done. I just need to practice. I do like how non-pointy the toe is. Also, I was pretty sure that trying it on my foot would be like Cinderella's step-sisters trying on the glass slipper. I.E., it wouldn't fit. I knit a swatch (ha! this time!), calculated gauge to fit my foot, and cast on 60 stitches. I have rather large feet. I knit 60 stitch socks for my littler friends. That felt strange. However, this Koigu is fatter than my regular sock yarn. Must remember that.

On to crochet:

The top picture is supposed to be a square. See how it is not? That's because I didn't believe I needed to single chain up to begin the next row of single crochet. So, I just kind of started over without ripping back. The green stuff is supposed to be the class project. As you can see, I am rebelling by refusing to work on it. I must learn technique before starting a project, by SWATCHING (I realize there is burning irony here, see shawl, above).

Those of you who have met me in real life (99.95% of readers) will be familiar with me spouting off about how yarn is a better addiction than heroin. Well, I may be rethinking that. I earned this:

in exchange for teaching some knitting classes. Honest to dog, if I could heat it up on a spoon and smoke it, I would. It's 800 m of HandMaiden (I cannot find a link) Sea Silk in corals and greens. If I don't stick it in my bra to carry around with me permanently (not a good look for the office, though I'm tempted), I will make a stole. This must be rectangular. I have two triangular shawls (or I will, once Icarus is done), and circular shawls don't speak to me at all, so stole it is. The nicest pattern I've seen so far is the pattern included with the yarn. But, there was the pattern for sale on the lettuce knit site a while back. I heard that it's yummy too, but I can't remember the geometry of it.

OK, that makes up for the lack of knitting content over the past week or so. Let's have some flowers now:

Can you believe that I hold the mortgage on those lilacs? I can't.

On Tuesday, I am taking a vacation day, renting a car and going on spending spree. I've received my enforced savings from CRA, and I, like a good Canadian, am going shopping with the proceeds. I see barbecued steaks in my future. And all my little sprouting plants in the ground. YAY!

Man news - the sushi date was lovely. More than lovely, in fact.

Since then, I have left two very pleasant messages, with no response. So, I have been "Lone Rangered" - where a stranger swoops in, makes me feel all swirly and fun, and then promptly gallops off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. I am confident that this is not my problem.

Apart from the bruising blow to my ego, this is just fine. Tall Cute Boy was just that, tall and cute. Not much else, I'm afraid. You cannot base a lasting relationship on a mutual fondness of country music, though I would have tried a third date. For my second step out of the gate in a year, not bad. The first step called tonight (he's been out of town) and we talked for half an hour (note: I HATE talking on the phone). I will let him take me out again.

And, the search for the super-tall man who understands that feminists can still wear pink and shave (and knit) continues.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there. I do adore mine, and we had an excellent visit today, sitting on my ce-ment pad. I do enjoy having a grown-up relationship with her. I'm hoping it's making up for the pain-in-the-ass I was until I was oh, about 29. Which makes me think that I have much to make up for.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Overheard at local bars:

Scene 1:

"Why are you knitting?"

"Because I like to."

"How old are you?"

"That's rude, so I'm not telling you."

"Do you like to dance?"

"I've been known to dance."

"Will you buy me a beer?"


Scene 2:

"You're the knitting lady."

"Yes, I am."

"Will you make me a hat?"

"Sure, for $150."

"$150? Are you crazy?"

"No, but my time is worth something. Why would I make a hat for someone I don't know? Buy one at a craft sale."

Scene 3:

"You are so pretty!"

"Thank you, I know."

"No, really. You are very pretty."

"Thank you, I know."

To a third person: "Isn't she pretty?"

Third person: "Yes, she is. And you don't stand a chance. But, she's nice, too."

Scene 4:

"Are you going out with him?"

"Let's just say I've applied for the position."

"But, you're the knitting lady."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Not much knitting going on.

Rainy today. Not nearly the fun day that last Saturday was.

Mostly because I went to Canadian Tire. Remind me to never go there again on a Saturday. All the stupid people were out, and my tolerance for stupid people is just about zero. Unless they express an interest in knitting. Then, I have infinite tolerance.

I was all jiggy from drinking an entire pot of coffee, and having a deliciously flirty conversation with Tall Cute Boy, so, no knitting this afternoon. I washed the floors instead. Blegh, but a necessary job.

And, my delightful former roommate came for a visit. She's never been here before. We had a wonderful time. I even cooked for her, and I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I've cooked for others. Sure do miss her. Don't miss living with her. I suspect she says the same about me. I suppose I could have knit then, but I just didn't get around to it.

Now, at nearly bedtime, I'm considering turning on a movie and stitching few rows. The shawl and socks have not progressed much this week. Again, it's my fault. Karaoke at the watering hole got in the way. Damn, it was fun, but I sure didn't feel good at work the next day. I can't believe I used to do that on a regular basis. If I were my boss, I would have given me a stern talking-to, for coming in drunk and barely doing anything all day. Plus, it was the annual shareholder's meeting. Just the perfect day to be smelling all boozy in the elevator. Once I got to my desk, I stayed there.

Plus, I'm taking a crochet class. Let's be honest here: I don't care for the look of crocheted fabric. The patterns are crap, and really, two sticks are better than one. That said, I think knowing how to crochet would be a useful skill. It aids in finishing, and there are beautiful crocheted edgings that I think are wonderful additions to garments. So, I think I need to know how in order to add to my proficiency as a knitter.

The class was a disaster for me. Our teacher is a lovely person, and well on her way to becoming a dear friend of mine. This disaster is not her fault: it's mine. There were others who deserved her attention, so I furrowed my brow, grabbed her copy of Happy Hooker, and tried to figure it out. To my credit, I can execute a double crochet with a certain amount of flair, but the rest of it is a mystery to me.

It's my fault because I walked in a little too cocky, thinking that I was pretty bright, and I could pick this up, no problem. Nope, just like I tell everybody else, learning a new skill requires patience and practice. Even for me. The knitting goddess has been pretty kind to me, so the crochet god smacked me upside the head (yes, I think the crochet god is a man. It's the only way it makes sense to me).

On the up-side, Tall Cute Boy and I are meeting for sushi tomorrow night. He doesn't know it, but he just passed a very important test. Sushi is my favourite cuisine in the entire world. If you are going to spend time with me, you had better like sushi.

I hope the phone tag all week to make arrangements for this will be worth it. It really does cut into my knitting time.

Pictures soon. I promise.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Waxing philosophically

I was going to write a blog entry tonight. About current knitting, knit night, domestic projects, the ever-expanding shelves of sprouting seeds. And more thoughts about Sunday's date. Which was even nicer in retrospect, thankyouverymuch.

Thanks to J, I was given the opportunity to break my book-buying fast and purchase Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off.

There is a reason I broke the fast. Yarn Harlot was my first faithful-read blog, and from there, I discovered that I wasn't alone. I had no idea there was this enormous community out there who shared my obsession.

I loved yarn and knitting from the moment two dpn's with rubber-bands for stoppers on the ends were placed into my hands, nearly 18 years ago. I have always had a project on the go. While I may have put knitting aside for a time, because of work, or education, or another hobby, or various other reasons, knitting has defined a significant part of who I am since I was 15. I was never particularly ashamed of it, and always knit at parties, and cheerfully showed off what I was working on to any guests, but since I found this elusive place, I have made it a priority. I have stopped brushing off the compliments. I have challenged myself to become better at this craft.

And you know what? I'm grateful. Being loud and proud, as it were, has given me much joy during a year where much has changed, for the better, mostly (though any change is hard for me), given me security when I needed something to hang on to, and made me reach out during a time when I didn't really feel like reaching out.

Thank you, J, for cluing me in. Thank you, D, for coming over to my house one day and saying "hey, I knit too!" Thank you, L, for insisting that I bring yarn and needles to teach you. Thank you, Wolseley Wardrobe. Thank you, teacher. Well, I can't thank you enough. Thank you, bloggers, for putting it all out there.

Why yes, I have had three glasses of wine. I'll get going on dinner right away.