Reeds drifting by you know how I feel

September 19, 2010 § 3 Comments

So, the self-imposed three-day knitting pause. Let me tell you how it’s going.

Ah. Until last night, it didn’t go too badly. And by ‘not too badly’ I mean that the only yarn not in a ball in this house is 100g of laceweight even I am not crazy enough to try and wind on my own. (I’ve tried it before. It wasn’t pretty.) And also by ‘not too badly’ I mean that I was bored out of my skull, scouring the internet for interesting things and being close to having to physically restrain myself from going over to my desk and picking up some knitting.

And then I found something amazing. I found a present-day version of Sherlock Holmes, a three-part series written and produced by Mark Gatiss and, wait for it, Steven Moffat, and it was SO GOOD. With how much I wasn’t thrilled by the last DW series I kind of forgot how truly amazing Steven Moffat is. How he’s the guy who created Cpt. Jack Harkness. The guy who has this wonderful gift for suspense and dialogue and horror.

It also helps that the Holmes/Watson subtext is up through the roof. Especially in the first half hour, which I watched twice because that’s when Saskia came home. And it was all good, because the program was just so intriguing and exciting that I didn’t even miss my knitting.

And then It happened. Apparently the universe thinks it’s not bad enough that I can’t knit. No, to add insult to injury, they had Steven Moffat put Watson in this gorgeous, truly gorgeous Aran sweater.

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And I want it. I was up till 2.30 last night researching Arans and figuring out the pattern on paper, my fingers itching to cast on a swatch so I charted more options and went to bed half-crazy and dreamed about gorgeous sweaters that I couldn’t knit all night.

So after messing with contrast and brightness and general photoshoppy shenanigans until my eyes bled, I forced Saskia at swordpoint to knit up a swatch, and then I adjusted, and she cast on a new swatch and did about two rows, and then she just left my room and left the knitting lying on the foot of my bed, about an arm’s length from me.

She might as well have left an opium pipe next to Sherlock Holmes, or 50-year-old whiskey next to a recovering alcoholic. Seriously.

Which is my only excuse that I may or may not have knit three or four rows. With a nifty system, including knitting back tbl left-hand English style, that allowed me to mostly hold my right wrist stable. Which was kind of tiring but also went much better and much less painful than I’d anticipated.

But, better than that… I have charts.

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I have construction notes.

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I have calculations that with my chart, and the construction notes, and some worsted-weight yarn on 3.5mm needles, this sweater should fit me like there’s no tomorrow. I also have a roommate who’d be thrilled to have a Watson Sweater KAL if we can find a way to adjust the pattern to her considerably skinnier frame (either thinner yarn or thinner cables. we’ll see.) I have seldom been so excited about a prospective project.

Now all I need is said worsted-weight yarn, and a new fucking wrist.

Somebody shoot me now.

Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride

September 18, 2010 § 4 Comments

So, it looks like my right wrist is kind of busted.

Well, not busted busted but there is definitely something wrong with it, some kind of repetitive-strain thing. It started last Friday after five solid hours of knitting, but I thought it was just soreness (since I usually don’t do non-stop knitting) and that it would go away after a couple of days of very light knitting.

Well, it didn’t. In fact, it’s creeping up to my elbow, which makes me think it’s something with my tendons, which is Bad with a capital B. And I’m mostly mad at myself, because beating eggs for crème brûlée with a whisk instead of a mixer, even if it was mostly with my left hand, certainly didn’t do any good, and constantly sneaking in ten minutes of knitting here and there didn’t either.

So I’ve decided to take a three-day break from knitting to see if that would help any, and I’m trying to keep general wrist movement to a minimum… and needless to say, it’s severely cramping my style.

Today is day 1 of the self-imposed knitting break and I’m already going bonkers. On the plus side, I’m getting all my hanks of yarn wound into balls, since that’s basically the only activity that I can do to keep my hands busy while not moving my right wrist.

It’s not that I haven’t gone some time without knitting. There’s been times when I was just too damn pissed off with knitting or too busy that I didn’t get my hands on some needles for a day or two. But I’m just not busy, plus all the stuff I’d planned is totally falling through: I wanted to go to the knitting café today, and I was looking forward to listening to Stravinsky’s Firebird while knitting on my red sweater. Plus I was thinking of making beignets this weekend, but I need both my wrists to knead that yeast dough properly.

The only good thing that’s come of this is that I ripped back about half of what I had of the Miralda Shawl I started in May 2009. I made some major mistakes, and I wasn’t the kind of person who’d rip back a couple of rows of 300+ stitches just for the hell of it and tried to fudge it instead, which obviously didn’t work. And required some serious self-medication. Ah, it was so frustrating. So I eventually balled it up and stuck it in a bag and stuffed that into the deep dark recesses of my wardrobe, and only got it out to pull out the needle because I needed it for the Dalek vest.

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But today, after untangling a tangled skein of yarn for a solid hour and a half, I decided to get it out, rip back to (hopefully) before the mistakes, and continue with it… once I can. It was kind of a weird experience though, because it made me realize how much I’ve changed in just a year and a half: I’ve become much more anal-retentive about mistakes, I’m more willing to rip back, and I don’t think 300-stitch rows are all that terrible.

If there’s one thing the Big Green Monster, the Swallowtail Stole, the Garter Stitch Bitch and the current sock-yarn sweater have taught me, it’s patience with long rows. And if there’s anything Girl Friday and Balmoral have taught me is that it’s usually worth ripping back to fix even minor mistakes.

Miralda was only the fifth shawl I cast on, and the other four were two Swallowtail Shawls, a stockinette sock yarn shawl, and an Aerang – none of which were particularly difficult or had a lot of charts. Maybe Miralda, with its bazillion charts, was a bit of an overly ambitious project at that point. But in the 17 months since, I’ve done a lot of chart-work, and a lot of patience-work, and I’ve learned to pay more attention. And, even more than that, I’ve learned not to be afraid of ripping back.

And now my sister has asked for a Girl Friday for Christmas, and I wanna work on Miralda, and get to the short rows on Thermal, and when I know how that works continue with the Dalek vest, and… I just wanna knit. And I know that if I don’t rest up now, it’s only gonna take longer till I can go again, but… help, I’m going insane.

I hope Saskia comes back soon, so we can do some more fencing with our new swords or toss a softball. Maybe I’ll clean up the kitchen. Or photograph… something.

***

Speaking of photography. I’m so proud of this photo. Maybe because it’s just a snapshot of one of these moments, the one where you usually can’t whip out your camera in time.

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How far this bad wild child’s gonna go

September 14, 2010 § 3 Comments

Sometimes, just sometimes, I kind of realize that it would be much more beneficial to my weight if my preferred method of procrastination wasn’t baking.

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Batch of a new recipe for Quiche Lorraine Scones, huge (as per usual) batch of Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies, the best damn cookies ever. The only thing more chocolatey are the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies.

Days to paper deadline: Six.

This is gonna end in tears and/or a baking orgy of post-Denny Izzie proportions.

Blackbird has spoken like the first bird

September 14, 2010 § 4 Comments

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(my life in a picture)

It’s funny; I’ve had a couple of rather introspective days behind me and I hadn’t realized how much I missed them. With the sudden and unexpected arrival of Glühwein season, another year has passed, and, well. It got me thinking.

Usually, with my roomies around, there’s always some form of entertainment going on. I don’t just mean movies, but also conversations that, despite running deep and on several levels at a time, aren’t introspective by definition. But Saskia was off to some square dance event this weekend and Sassi is still in Ireland, and it’s not that I don’t like them, but it was so nice to have some quality time with myself.

I realized I’d been avoiding introspection for a bit. Not consciously, I’m sure, but there’s just so much going on here even if there isn’t really, with Saskia and I popping over to each other’s rooms to share ideas or thoughts and generally having a more-or-less continuous flow of information going on. I also remember, vividly, the long years of teenage angst, penned down and over-analyzed in 3 diaries per year, sometimes more: the pinnacle of introspection. In retrospect, I’m amazed I got anything done at all between the ages of 13 and 18 to contemplate with all the introspection I did. I have no wish to recreate that time, or that amount of angsting about everything. (It’s funny though, in all that time there was very little sexual-identity-angst except when I was dealing with rumors.)

But I also have a feeling tweeting ever last half-formed impulse has contributed to a certain amount of superficiality that’s snuck into my life without me realizing it. Over 4000 tweets in just over a year – that’s a LOT. That’s about 11 tweets a day, on average. Maybe that’s too much, but cutting down is useless, mostly because if I don’t tweet it, I head over to Saskia’s room and tell her in more than 140 characters. I find it harder to focus now, in any case.

So on Friday, I went to the Leipziger Kreativ- und Strickcafé, which was one of the first places I went when I moved to Leipzig but kind of dropped when uni started. I never picked up going at least semi-regularly mostly out of laziness, except for WWKIP and their Wollefest.

Laziness. Sloth. It seems to be my biggest problem.

It’s true, with my successful conversion of Saskia into a knitter a lot of my wool-related isolation (as in, I didn’t have anyone to talk about knitting with) has dissipated, but we’re still very much in a teacher/student dynamic in that respect. I’d forgotten how amazing it is to sit among equals, learn from and teach each other, and just sit and knit and talk for five hours. My wrists still hurt a bit after an hour or so of knitting,  I think from that evening, but I now know better. They have pattern books over there. Next time I go (probably Saturday), I’ll have a look through Victorian Lace Today and rest my wrists a bit.

I’m also checking out a square dance club in the city this Friday, so that might be my new secondary hobby. I’ve realized I need to get out more, and although I’ve vowed more involvement with The World Outside every semester, I have a good feeling this semester it might stick. I have a good feeling about this year. Overall, I mean.

**

On another, unrelated and less life-affirming note, I started to read all three Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins in a row, now that the final part is out. If those books don’t get you thinking about society and television culture and human behavior overall, I’m not sure what will. It’s a dystopia, and from the covers and the age of the protagonist (16), I’d call it young adult. I picked it up because it was rated as YA, and I love YA unashamedly for all that I love Wilde and Tolkien and Ovid too.

But from the premise of the plot and the form of the dystopian society, I’m not sure how well it fits in the 14-21 age bracket. You can read the synopsis on Wikipedia, where I just saw they’re making it into a movie, and what the hell. A book that condemns unreflected TV culture gone mad, and a society where outrageous appearances and capitalism are everything while 90% of the population starve, and the rich 10% love watching innocent children slaughter each other once a year – and they’re making a movie out of it. Of course.

So.  Yeah. Those books. They’re good books, they’re hard to put down, they view modern culture, to put it carefully, somewhat critically. I read part two in the bathtub, and when I looked up because I was done, the 20cm-high cover of bubbles had dissipated because I’d been in there for three hours. They’re that kind of book. And like every dystopian novel there probably is, it takes current society and exaggerates it into something horrifying, and there isn’t a chapter where you don’t realized that everything that’s wrong with that society is what’s wrong with ours, just that we haven’t had the time to get that far. And they’re making it into a movie.

Yesterday we stood at the brink of the abyss. Today we’re one step further.

And on that mood-swingy note, I leave you,  esteemed reader, with the view out of my window a few evenings back, because dudes and dudettes – it’s autumn.

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Can music save your mortal soul?

September 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve considered a dozen different captions with witty references to Supernatural, or a certain series of high school/college movies, or Don McLean, but really…

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… whatever I say, it can’t even come close to this freaking amazing, perfect, brilliant apple pie I made today.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho…

September 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

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I might have spoken of my overwhelming love for post-its before, but even I think I might have overdone it just a little on my research.

I wish the Romans had knit, so I could have a matching project to my paper.

Ad-mitt-ing defeat

September 6, 2010 § 3 Comments

A couple of days ago, I started a mitt. It was a thing of beauty, clever and gorgeous on the palm as well as on the top; even the thumb gusset was delightful.

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And even though the outside was great, I loved the inside even more, for all the cleverness and how you could see the pattern reflected in the floats.

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It was also too tight. I’m not really a tight knitter with most things, so it always comes as a complete and utter surprise when I do colorwork and suddenly my gauge pulls in by a quarter and I can’t get anything to fit. And stretched colorwork just looks silly. Not to mention I’d really like to retain blood flow in my hands this winter.

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So I frogged it. Well, down to the cuffs, because surprisingly enough my wrists are smaller than my hands, and the cuffs don’t stretch out. I’m slightly frustrated, but to be honest, not as much as I could be. If Girl Friday and Balmoral have taught me anything, it’s that ripping back to do it properly will pay off every single time.

Oh, speaking of which. Girl Friday?

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I’m wearing it right now.

And my favorite part, even better than the bold pattern, or the huge collar-slash-buttonband I knit no less than four times (yes, four), or the way it fits me perfectly and looks so damn cool… is the little ‘Handmade’ charm Saskia gave me a bunch of last Christmas, hanging proudly on  the edge of my collar  where everyone can see it.

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