Sunday, April 27, 2008

Knitting associations

I'm sure this is rather common and not just limited to knitting, but I've always closely associated movies (which, I should mention straight away, I tend to watch a few favorites over and over and over again!), television shows, books, or life events with whatever I happen to be knitting at the time.
When I started to knit seriously again in the '90s, I had just purchased the special edition of Gone With The Wind (on VHS!) and watched it nearly everyday while knitting BH my first ever stranded knitting hat (which, incidentally, was so tight that the poor dear could barely keep it on his head...but he wore it nonetheless) during a two-day snowstorm that left Ann Arbor buried under nearly 20" of snow. I can still see that nasty little hat, with yarn I bought at a craft store as Ann Arbor had no yarn shops at the time, watching our German Shepherd, Mingus try to jump through the snow in the yard, smelling the yeasty aroma from the kitchen as bread was baking in my brand new bread machine.

My first Starmore sweater was undertaken after we moved to Milwaukee, living in our "little cabin by the river" and when I was particularly enamored of Impromptu and Immortal Beloved. Meadow (sorry, just have a link to my Ravelry project page) a sweater I knit last spring, will forever be associated with Pan's Labyrinth. I still laugh at myself for some very silly mistakes I made while so engrossed in this amazing movie, trying to read subtitles and decrease properly in the midst of a lace pattern all at the same time. That's something I certainly wouldn't advise...unless, of course, you really enjoy ripping back.

My Selbuvotter mittens are Christmas 2007 and listening to The Golden Compass audiobook. Even Sweet William has its associations which aren't altogether good - when I started the sweater during this late winter, I was watching Away From Her and dealing with a very nasty bout of some sort of stomach virus that laid me flat for a few days. Unfortunately, even now that Sweet William is almost done, each time I pick it up I remember how tremendously queasy I was, too! While knitting Jack, I was listening to the audiobook of World Without End which I didn't exactly enjoy. Even after I finished the book, I still couldn't work on Jack without thinking of the characters and the plot of the book.
So, I find it rather poetic that my last completed sweater, Jack - a sweater of "firsts" was immediately followed by the super brilliant Cookie A's Pomatomus socks...a project which - in direct contrast to Jack and for reasons I shall not discuss - will be one of "lasts".

It got me thinking, though, that I and probably very many knitters out there, knit with more than just yarn, needles, notions and patterns. I knit a piece of my life into each article. I guess that's why it is so hard for me to give away what I knit. Each sweater, each amazing pair of socks, even a really bad attempt at a hat takes a snapshot of my life at that time. For better and, in this instance, for worse. Impressions, memories, life events become as an indelible part of the knitting as the yarn itself.

I began the Pomatomus socks on a very bad day - a day that I finally made a very hard realization about myself before 6 a.m. followed a few hours later by something equally as difficult to bear.
As I've worked on the socks this week, I'm pouring into this beautifully envisioned lace pattern all the complex emotions I've had to contend with both events. A simple stockinette pattern at this time wouldn't do the trick at all. Like figuring out the logic underlying the pattern, I'm figuring out the logic - or lack thereof - of my life at present.

To be sure, each time I work on the socks, or wear the completed pair in the future, I will be reminded of these very difficult times. I hope, though, that the association will become more bittersweet and that I will be a better and happier person because of my self-realization and the other event...just as one enjoys wearing a pair of beautiful lace socks that are well knit even though mistakes were made and re-dos were necessary in the process. It is my hope.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stranded on sleeve island

But happily so. I've been able to crank out quite a bit on Sweet William this week despite having a second re-do on my altered neck. At least that's some consolation for a night or two of insomnia - bonus knitting time.

The stitch pattern on the sleeve is completely different than that on the body. At first, I wasn't digging the way it looked, but now I think it'll make quite an interesting contrast:

Here, four stitches are slipped with the yarn in the front on the RS and - with alternating these stitches - creates a basketweave look:

In honor of more spring-like weather, I broke out some suitably springy stitchmarkers (also from the delightful Jelby...creators of the felted Easter egg and sheep markers):

Yesterday marked the first Saturday in two months that I neither worked or taught. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to a real two-day weekend. Unfortunately, I woke up Saturday morning feeling entirely crapped out physically and emotionally. I'm still a bit burned out and just wanted to do something different. So, after the gym, we packed up and head to Alterra with a pit stop for me to The Loop. Normally I want to be home as much as possible when I'm not at work but I just needed to make a change in the routine. It was 50% good. I don't like Alterra - way too hipster for me, very loud, and too filled with the Cool Couples each sitting with their own laptops, PDAs, souped-up cells, and ipods madly clicking away and speaking to everyone else in the world except each other. I really wanted to just sit and knit at a cafe and recharge. I should have followed instinct #1 and gone to The Last Drop - much more relaxed and less about "being seen".

Anyway, after a few rows, I packed up and went next door to The Loop and had a much better impression than my first visit there during the winter.
I purchased a The Luxury Collection by Debbie Bliss which is going to prove superb in busting through my worsted weight stash, including the lovely on the cover plus this must-knit, "Olivia" is SCREAMING my name!

This week, this little guy made me happy:
I went to Goldi's on Thursday to preview the Dansko trunk show. While many pairs caught my eye, this silly thing stole my heart. What's better is that it is also a bank! How cute is that!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happiness is...

Here's an understatement for you: I've struggled for a very long time with simply being happy - I fret way too much about so many things. I'm really trying to turn that around, to appreciate and find joy where I can...and, most importantly, to remind myself of those things rather than focus in on any negative thoughts. I thought by listing what makes me happy today would be a good, here goes!

1. My old microwave finally bit the dust - I got it as a gift from my first husband's parents a year or two before we were married (if you want to call about a year married). This poor thing belonged in a museum and I think it was about 17 years old. But, hell, it worked well enough for what we need a microwave for which is general re-heating. A quick trip to Chez Target led to this cutie:
I'm realizing I have a thing for red kitchen appliances. My electric tea kettle is red and I can't wait until my coffee maker konks out so I can get a red one, too. I figure, if you can't have fun with small kitchen appliances, what's the point?

2. Knitting, even when it seems to be taking FOREVER! The front of Sweet William was done and I had worked out some modifications to the neck to make it more of a traditional crew instead of the wide & low neck as written. I was pretty pleased with the way the modifications worked out until I looked carefully at the darned thing - lo and behold, before the beginning of the neck shaping, I had a made an error in the pattern and added an extra row in the 6-row pattern, resulting in what sort of looked like a divot. It took a lot to see it, but once I knew it was there, I understand myself well enough to know that it would bug me until I re-did it. Seeing that I was about ready to hit the hay when I saw the mistake, I just set it aside until this morning. It took just a little bit of extra time but it's all all fixed, and I'm ready to re-cruise on the neck:

It struck me this morning that, even with this sweater that just doesn't seem to want to get finished, I love it...the whole process of knitting and ending up with something I can wear proudly and with a great sense of accomplishment.

3. Beloved Husband went to a meet up yesterday for one of his many hobbies and had a very good time. I'm really proud of him that he did this and he's inspired me to do likewise. Maybe someday I'll get up the gumption to go to a Ravelry Alterra meet up.

4. A good week at the gym. I think I was a little over-trained and have had some tough physical and emotional days at the gym. I did a little scaling back, which is very hard for me to do but it's what I needed to do. It feels very good to have put in a solid and sensible week in!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thinking ahead

My knitting progress on Sweet William continues and I've just started the armhole shaping of the front. No photo, I'm afraid, 'cause...well, it looks a lot like the previous photos! I've taken my time back on Sweet William just a smidge (to pre-work out a.m.s and evenings) and have begun to bring needlepoint to work on during the sweet 30 minutes before I have to go to work. More on this (with photos, I promise) in my next post!

With Sweet William's finish on the horizon, I'm trying desperately to stave off my nasty bout of startitis by simply solidifying my plans for the next project. The keyword here is trying - so far, it's been successful but I simply can't vouch for how the next week will go. The pull to start another spring sweater is so curiously strong! I have been repeating to myself my project monogamy mantra: that is, having more than one project on the needles simply delays each of the project's completion! So good, and daydreaming about what comes next is making me want to complete Sweet William even more (that, and the promise of spring sweater weather).

I made a list of all of the lovelies (spring and even one fall project) that I'd like to make sooner than later and I made up my mind that if I don't knit up the delightful Manos Silk & Wool soon, it's going to languish in the stash for a while. I had pegged it for "Wildflower", but something was always troubling me a bit about the yarn and pattern pairing.

It hit me this morning. I can only envision this sweater is some shade of green. Maybe it's the tulip lace pattern, maybe it's the photo, maybe it's the name. Whatever it is, my gorgeous yarn in blues and khakis just didn't set right in my oddly ordered brain.

Aufklärung #2 (pardon the German there...this has always been one of my favorite words in German, meaning "enlightenment"): the silk & wool would be perfect for "Sassoon" from the same pattern collection and which caught my eye last spring:

It certainly meets all the requirements:

1. lacy? - check
2. wearable, especially in the deep freeze that the ancient air conditioning system makes the shop in the summer? - check

3. ok in blue and khaki? - check!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Excuse me?

Ok, so I had a linguistic rant about Troy Aikman's complete and utter mis-use of the English language back in December. I hadn't heard any major offenses since then 'til this morning when - while watching ESPN's SportsCenter during my a.m. workout - when I overheard one of the Final Four coaches (I think it was Kansas) - actually say in reference to the upcoming game this weekend:

"We are apprehenseful."

I thought we had a perfectly good word already with apprehensive.

That's just downright embarrassing - especially for someone who is supposedly representing a place of higher learning.