A díos le pido

October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dude.

I don’t know what’s up with the last week being majorly sucktastic, but it looks like the entire semester might follow in its footsteps and that does not make me happy.

My Spanish module is full of people who have spent an extended period of time in Hispanic countries, which is great for them and intimidating for me and the other four or so people (out of 25) who haven’t actually taught Chilean homeless kids proper Spanish or something. Also I seem to have forgotten everything I ever learned over break, so there’s the teensy bit of grammar to deal with until, well, yesterday.

When I got back home from my first Spanish lesson I just poured myself a stiff drink and went to take a hot bath, that’s how bad it was. The only silver lining is that there’s a really cute girl in my class, which is great except that I was so much looking forward to learning Spanish without distraction, and there she is, and my concentration goes to hell. At least this time it’s not a highly inappropriate crush. That’s something, I guess.

Hispanistics is comparatively okay, except the times kind of blow ass; and the module for my major is a) full of my least favorite teachers and b) full of my least favorite people. And the times aren’t that great either.

And usually I’d try and go easy on this semester this early on. Give it a chance, y’know. Try to see the positive sides and knit my troubles away.

Except that Christmas is 70 days from now, I haven’t cast on my sister’s cardigan yet, and the Watson sweater is one catastrophe after the other. I frogged for the third time today – at first it was too small, then way too big, and now I randomly cast on 22 stitches less than I should have. No idea how, since I cast on with markers every 20 stitches, but lo and behold, when I was done with the ribbing and trying to set up the body pattern, everything went to crap. (It’s not that I’m bad at math, either. Saskia’s sweater, for some reason, is working out perfectly.)

What’s more, my wrist is starting to hurt. 70 days before Christmas.

Really, I just want something, anything to go right this week. Square dance is a relatively safe bet – everything we could possibly do on Friday I learned last weekend, so I can pretty much sit back and enjoy. Or, y’know, the dancing-my-ass-off equivalent.

I’m also planning on baking Maple-Walnut bread (what could possibly go wrong, huh) and curling up under a blanket for the weekend.

Seriously. Dear God, please have this week not be an omen for the rest of the semester.

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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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It started out as a feeling

July 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

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So, despite almost being done with seaming Girl Friday, I’ve experienced a major setback. AGAIN. And it again consists of me having to rip back the collar/button band (all 80-odd grams of it) and reknitting it with more stitches. AGAIN. I’m pretty much at the point where I just wanna throw the damn thing in the corner and let it rot.

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(Girl Friday as of yesterday around noon)

At least my seams are going well, which is a relief. I’ll have to find another technique for the ribbing on the sleeves, but! I do have to say, I like the actual motions of seaming, it’s just that it takes so damn long. Especially if you make the cardigan even longer to fit your long-ass body.

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But yeah, I’m good at seaming. That wonky column of stitches isn’t the seam, btw, it’s a randomly wonky row. No idea why it looks so weird.

Oh well. To counteract the frustration that is the cardigan (and to procrastinate from the Swallowtail Shawl, which needs to be done in a week) I started a toy owl in some gorgeous alpaca I had lying around since last year’s Wollefest.

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It came to me in a dream – it’s basically a truncated cone, with a flat-knit panel (consisting of eyes, beak, ear-feathers and colorfully embroidered belly) attached to the front. We’ll see how that goes. Right now I’m at the cone part, and it’s going swimmingly.

I really should be working on the Swallowtail Shawl. I’m kind of in the mood for a bit of math, maybe I’ll sit down with it later. It’s probably an issue even a mathematically challenged person like me can figure out in less than two minutes.

**

And now… for something completely different. Like guacamole.

Now, I didn’t even like avocados until last summer, until someone (most likely Christian) convinced me to try the guacamole on the taco platter we shared at a cocktail bar, and va-voom. Just like that, I was hooked.

So last night, I made a half-recipe’s worth of Pioneer Woman’s tortillas and used the recipe from my new Spanish dictionary to make some guacamole. (Yes, at G like guacamole, there’s a little info window with a recipe. How cool is that? Langenscheidt rocks.)

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Not that that recipe was totally extraordinary. It was pretty much like every guacamole recipe you’ve ever seen: an avocado (mashed), a tomato and an onion (finely diced), cilantro (which I can’t get, so I use parsley), a goodly amount of garlic, and lemon juice, salt, pepper and tabasco to taste. Mmmmh.

And then this morning, I used up the leftovers and made a truly heart-stopping brunch.

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Seriously, I wish there wasn’t so much lard in that tortilla recipe. Because they’re the best tortillas I’ve ever made.

Speaking of Spanish, I scored a 2.0 in my oral exam! Which is awesome, especially if you consider how I was convinced I’d fail it. So, cheers, guys.

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Sales a escena y eres immortal

December 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

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It’s funny how my life seems to alternate between insanely productive and absolutely lazy days.

The day before yesterday was a really productive day. In fact, I cut my WIPs on Ravelry down to two – though I do have to admit that I moved the HSJBTM socks in the hibernating section. Oh well.

In any case, I finally sewed the buttons onto my Tempest cardigan!

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This means that only eight months after I finished knitting the thing, it’s finally done. It only took an hour. I can’t believe I haven’t been wearing that thing for months now.

Anyway. I also worked on the Baktus for my grandma some more:

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I believe I’m about halfway done with it, but I couldn’t get myself to get up, which is why I put it aside and instead continued with my slip-stitch socks.

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Usually, I’d say they’re too colorful for me, but man… these are the perfect rainy-day socks. Plus, with the slip-stitch, they feel about twice as thick, and they’re all squooshy, and of course them jewel colors… I’m very much enchanted. I love them.

But, here’s what I hate about holiday season. I mean, apart from the fact that I don’t really know what to do with my Fridays, since there’s no new Grey’s Anatomy or Supernatural on.

It’s the vicious cycle of Christmas Knitting.

You start to knit something, and it’s all good, and then you realize you’d rather work on something else. But you can’t, cause you’ve got that deadline hanging over your head like a sword of Damocles, which makes you start to loathe whatever Christmas present you’re knitting. Which makes it harder to force yourself to knit it, and knitting makes you loathe it even more, but there’s Christmas, and oh god, only two weeks, and…

I just wanna knit some socks.

Instead, I finally started the Christmas ornament mini Weasley sweaters for my host family back in the US. Three weeks late. They’re tiny (14 sts wide, 21 rows high), they’re easy, they’re technically entertaining, they’re technically great TV knitting… and I can’t stand the thought that even though I’ve already finished two, there’s four more to go. Ugh.

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At this point, I’d rather work on Ruba’iyat. Or, you know, the sock. Or study vocab.Which reminds me, I need to block my mom’s scarf.

I’m so, so ready for Christmas to be over.

I can’t get no satisfaction

December 7, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’m the tiniest bit dissatisfied.

I don’t even know why. My parents are gone (I love them, but hell, are they exhausting, especially when they can’t stop nagging about my apartment), I got some studying done, I just watched some Merlin and Mary Poppins with Saskia… technically, good times.

But right now, I have the feeling that knitting-wise, everything I touch turns to shit. I did get my Bad Hair Beanie done – but I did the decreases twice tonight, because after the first time, the hat was just a tad too short. So I ripped it back. Of course.

Then, after, I cast on some socks. In the crazy-colored Trekking I’ve been looking forward to knitting, except I cast on three times, got past the ribbing twice, and ripped back three rows of pattern that I hated three times. Well, twice, but tomorrow will see another ripping. Ugh.

And then my grandma’s christmas present… I don’t even know what possessed me to get two shades of pink, and only 50g of each… I guess I was planning on a Baktus all along. Well, I tried entrelac (unsuccessfully), the Yarn Harlot’s One Row Scarf (gorgeous stitch pattern, but doesn’t work with stripes), something of my own doing, a bias scarf with one-row stripes… I give up. I concede. I cast on another Baktus. Sigh.

Honestly, this is one of the days where I wonder why I even bother knitting. It just makes me stress out unnecessarily.

But I know that tomorrow morning, when I leave the house and my hands and neck and feet and hands are warm and cozy, I’ll have at least four reasons.

Hangin’ tough, staying hungry

November 27, 2009 § 4 Comments

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So! It’s Christmas. Officially. Well, not officially, but our flat looks like Santa Claus’ workshop threw up in here, so yeah, it’s Christmas.

We spent all day decorating – we’re still not done, there’s still a ton littering the floor of the hallway, but Saskia’s off to dancing class, and I’m not touching her stuff. It was like spring cleaning, except for the fact that it’s almost winter; we cleaned windows and vacuumed every last square inch and I’m gonna mop once Saskia gets her crap sorted, so, yeah. Good times.

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We did the whole shebang, with music and scented candles and lots of spiced wine and reverential unpacking of Saskia’s big-ass crate full of stuff. The only thing that didn’t add particularly to the Christmassy mood  – and this is such a silly thing to complain about – was that the weather was gorgeous the whole day.

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We also discovered that we have way too many mugs. This is certainly not a new discovery, but it’s the first time absolutely every single one of our mugs, with the recent addition of the Christmas Market mugs and the ones that came with the spiced wine, was clean and in the cupboard.

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There’s also six more mugs (that came with the Saskia’s tableware set) and of course the espresso cups, and the two yellow ones that belong to my tea pot and… we have too many mugs.

Home in the valley
Home in the city

 

Also, a word on Ruba’iyat. I’m making good progress, almost halfway done with the second chart, which is nice. Even though the pattern doesn’t show quite as much as I’d like, which is partly due to the lighter specks in the brown yarn. Which I don’t particularly mind, it brings some motion into the whole thing. Also, there may not be quite enough contrast between the red and the brown, but I’m not ripping back. Cause the biggest problem with these mitts is, surprisingly enough, my lack of skill when it comes to colorwork.

There, I admitted it. Give me stripes, give me cables, give me short rows, give me lace, and I’ll rock it. Really. But with colorwork, I have tension issues, I knit unevenly, and I consider it nothing short of a miracle that Opus Spicatum came out the way it did.

And Ruba’iyat… I mean, it’s not terrible. I’ve made worse, and I’ve definitely seen worse. It’s to a point where I’m pretty sure most of the uneven spots will block out to some extent, too. But still, it’s frustrating to get your ass kicked by a mitten when you just finished a ginormous lace shawl that came out close to perfect.

Maybe I’ll just put the mittens aside for a bit and finish my mom’s Amber Waves. The rows on that are 10 stitches shorter, take me about half the time, and I can watch a movie. I need a movie.

I wish SPN and Grey’s Anatomy weren’t on hiatus.

I see before me a new horizon

October 14, 2009 § 5 Comments

I am inching closer and closer to the end of Muir. I’m, for the last time, on row 20 or 21, which means I’m done with over half of the last pattern repeat. After that, only the border to go.

The pattern calls for 13 repeats, I’ll have 18. The pattern has three repeats of the pattern next to each other, I have four. The pattern calls for 940m of yarn, I’ll have used twice that amount.

Holy cow.

I knit at Starbucks today, in my favorite seat right next to the window, with a Caramel Brownie and a Chai Tea Latte. I always order a Chai, and it’s gotten to the point where I pop in there and just specify whether I want my drink to go or not, cause the baristas know what I want anyway. Maybe I should change up my habits a bit, but it’s just so tasty and you don’t drop off the high quite as fast as with coffee.

Anyway, it was pretty packed, and an elderly Chinese gentlemen sat down opposite me. And kept making notes in Chinese, and stealing glances at what I was doing. He eventually did ask me what I was doing and how long it had taken me to do all that, and we chatted a bit in German and English after that, and I finally got to ask someone how long it takes for Chinese kids to learn to read and write properly.

Five years, he said. FIVE YEARS. – Dude, if I was a Chinese kid, I couldn’t care less about being literate. Some people would probably jump down my throat for this, but honestly, phonetic writing systems are far superior to ideogram-based systems. For ease of understanding alone.

Speaking of phonetic writing systems, I had my second Spanish class today. It’s hella exciting. And after watching Saskia struggle so much with Chinese, I have a deep-seated appreciation for the clarity and straightforwardness of Spanish. Yes, it’s gonna be a lot of work. But it’s supposed to be, and if I can get to B1 in two semesters, all the better. Plus, really. Spanish is so intuitive. It just makes sense. It’s like Latin, just with fewer rules. (I’ll probably revise this opinion when I get to the tense trickeries, but for the time being, let me cherish this illusion.)

So, an exciting time. Spanish is pretty awesome, Muir is almost done, and I and I can almost ignore the fact that I’ve been getting my ass kicked repeatedly by the February Beret. I’m gonna have to rip it back for the fourth time, somehow I seem to be unable to deal with a seven stitch wide pattern. Sigh.

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