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.

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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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I’ll have you know I’m glad to be back

August 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

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After a five-hour drive, I’m back, I’m back, I’m back in Leipzig. Cut loose from the noose and all that, and I’ve never been more relieved to see these green walls of mine. I’ve already done laundry and photographed my knitting and made myself a Southern Comfort with lemonade, and I’m enjoying the quiet of a flat that has just me in it. And the dog. And my freshly laundered, newly fluffy rugs. I could write about those some more (cause they’re fairly exciting, all white instead of greyish, except for that pink spot on one of them), but I’m also pretty sure y’all would prefer some knitty photos to my yabbering about rugs.

Even if they’re pretty rugs.

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These are the old new socks, the ones I have finished and one of which my mother has already messed with. Or rather the velcro on her shoes. The little standy-uppy tuft is annoying, but I’m kind of hoping it’ll vanish with washing, so there’s that. Either way, they’re Zitron Trekking HandArt experimental tweed yarn, on 2.25mm Knitpicks, pattern is Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner. Quick, entertaining, I’ll have to wait and see how they hold up in shoes but very comfy nonetheless.

However, adding another pair of socks to my already vast collection means my new sock box is also becoming very full very fast.

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Maybe I should retire some of the older, thinned-out socks to a bag or something so I can go on knitting new ones. Not yet though, Christmas is coming after all and I’m almost certain most of the socks I’ll be knitting in the near future won’t be for me. (I have one pair planned for Saskia already. Gosh, I’m excited for those, even though my knitting time on them will be restricted to when she’s not there.)

Speaking of new socks, the socks I started yesterday? Are kind of gorgeous, even if I just only finished the first half-repeat.

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It’s new Zitron Trekking XXL from a line called Salz und Pfeffer (salt and pepper), color 436 (I love it when they have romantic names), and I’m pretty enchanted with the way it totally looks like grass, or fresh minced herbs, or any other sort of springy-summery nature stuff.

And now, and believe me when I say I wish I had it blocked, but that’s gonna have to wait until at least tomorrow… the thistle shawl.

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My brain can’t wait to block it, but my back is already groaning.

These lines of lightening

August 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’m at my parents’, and to counteract the slow, slippery slide towards absolutely bonkers, I thought I’d sit down and blog a bit, even if I don’t have a camera to show my impressive progress with the socks or the Thistle shawl or anything.

Because, oh boy, have I made progress! One of the Rhubarb Tweed Waffle socks is done, the other is almost down to the heel – it’s kind of a long shaft, plus I’ve pretty much only touched them when I needed something for waiting rooms, that kind of thing. I’ve even offered my mother to knit on them for a bit, since she can’t do much more than sit around all day due to knee surgery, but she declined. Strange woman.

But the Thistle shawl… oh man. Last Saturday, I was up to row 110, just after the start of the zig-zag-y edging, and I realized I’d made a colossal mistake in doing the whole daffodil blooms (or whatever those triangles are) on the edges. To demonstrate:

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(Photo not mine)

Doing the whole daffodils on the edges of a semicircular shawl would’ve meant two things: a slight bend in the otherwise straight line – I could’ve dealt with that. In fact, that was kind of what I was counting on making the decision. But the other thing, which I didn’t realize until I started the edging, was that it would’ve meant the corners would have been one of the low points of the stockinette parts, and that would’ve just looked plain silly.

And so I ripped back. 40 rows. Forty. Rows. Of lace. With a fluffy-ish yarn that meant it took well over 2 hours to ravel down due to the stitches sticking together. My heart bled, people. Bled as I was sitting in the sunshine.

But you know what the amazing thing is? Three days later, I was back to row 110, and right now, I’m on 133, and there’s a total of 138. Which means I’m almost done knitting, and then I’ll put off the endless crochet bind-off until I’m home, where I have hooks small enough for that kind of thing. I’m a busy, busy bee. Especially considering one row takes about 15 minutes. I’ve been watching a lot of QI.

So yeah, mentally insert a picture of a thistle segment pinned out to my bed, all pretty and clever and brilliant, and I’ll show you the finished thing in a couple of days.

On another note, I went to Zitron on Monday, found out that my extra-long 160 cm circular needle had not in fact been forgotten, and bought some extra-special, tremendously exciting yarn coming out in October or so which I can’t show you until then, but rest assured, it really is pretty exciting.

Be proud of me. It’s only August and I’m starting on Christmas presents already.

(To remedy the lack of photos in this post, a panorama pic of our new and improved kitchen, with the shelf (on the right) Saskia and I built ourselves, from scratch! Click photo to embiggen slightly, or here for an enormous version)

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The World Will Follow After

February 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

After spending a week and a half at my parents’ and being busy with slowly but steadily going stir-crazy, I’m back in Leipzig, and thank god for that. My system’s acting up, my skin’s acting up, I had random nosebleeds, headaches and a back like a board. So, yes, I’m definitely glad to be back home, where I can stay up all night without a bad conscience and where I’m not trying to squeeze myself into a bed that’s just a tad too short for me to fit comfortably.

The visit wasn’t without perks, though. First, my parents are clearing out my grandparents’ house, and there’s just so much stuff. I snagged a bundt cake pan, a ton of buttons, wooden spoons and tongs my grandpa made himself, a couple of meters of lace edging… also a full set of gold-rimmed china, and a couple of pillows, but I’m not taking those back to Leipzig now. Or in the near future. We have so many plates already, I think our kitchen would burst. But there’s also a couple of quirky things, like an automatic drink dispenser thingy shaped like a knight’s helmet. I’m all for weird drinking accessories!

Then, I got to drive to the Atelier Zitron again, which is always exciting. I only took €45 this time, and didn’t even spend all of it. Which raised eyebrows, honest to god. I guess it’s nice that they know my face there, but it’s also a bad testament to my spending habits when people ask me what’s gotten into me when I leave with less than €60 worth of yarn.

The stuff I bought wasn’t outrageous, but very lovely all the same: four 50g balls of Gobi, which is my favorite worsted weight yarn ever: 40/30/30 merino/alpaca/camel, buttery soft and just an all around joy to work with. It isn’t available in a crazy range of color like the KnitPicks yarns, but all of their colors are lovely and very cozy, somehow. I bought one grey and one burgundy to make another Opus Spicatum hat (for my mother this time, and I finished the thing the same evening), and two rust-colored balls for a hat for myself. Though that one’s gonna have to wait a bit, cause I swear, I can feel spring approaching, and I ain’t knitting no warm hat when I can practically feel the air warming around me.

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I may be exaggerating slightly, but at this point I am so starved for a little sunshine and a little spring.

Anyway. The rest of my purchase was a little less extravagant: a test skein of yellow/orange HandArt, 4 balls of a DK-ish grey new wool yarn that was 2 bucks a pop and I couldn’t resist, and Zitron’s newest baby, the No. 1 Lace Filigran. Lovely indigo blue, nice texture – I like merino lace yarns, they’re not too delicate. Not that I don’t absolutely adore Misti Alpaca Lace, but merino is kind of more down-to-earth. And also more widely available.

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I got struck by a bit of startitis, with the weather changing, so currently I have two new shawls on the needles: one Haruni with the Filigran, and a fudging-it version of the Shetland Lace Triangle. Figuring out how that pattern works made me feel like the knitting equivalent of Sherlock Holmes and entertained me for a whole evening. Entertained is too weak a word, I had a blast. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun on my own in forever.

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Then again, I haven’t really been doing things all by my lonesomes recently. I usually have company, either in the form of roomies hanging out two feet from me, or people via IM programs. I guess I forgot how fun it was to do things by myself. I’ve seriously gotten a little codependent with how much Saskia and I hang out on a regular basis, i.e. at least seven, eight hours a day, every day.

I guess that’s one of the good things that came out of this trip: rediscovering solitude.

But I’m glad to be going back, and rediscovering company, too.

PS: there’s new socks, too. They were awesome and perfect, and then they fulled like crazy in the washing machine. I have a feeling it might be the flamé yarn. So, in conclusion: no more flamé socks.

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Oh the weather outside is frightful

January 9, 2010 § 5 Comments

So, I didn’t go back to Leipzig. My grandmother passed away two hours before the new year, just when it started snowing. Today was her funeral, and I’m going back tomorrow.

We always have terrible funeral weather. My grandfather’s funeral three years ago, it was raining like crazy, this time around, it was snowing even more. But the way and at the age people die in my family, it’s usually a pretty upbeat occasion once the actual funeral is over and everybody goes to eat together. It’s a way to get the extended family together, after all.

Anyway, I bought some yarn the other day so I wouldn’t have to lug around a sweater on the train… unsurprisingly, it’s knit up already. I have no self-restraint. The merino also felt really really good on my hands after all that cotton.

What did I knit? Well, anyone see the Christmas/New Year’s episodes of Doctor Who? With Wilf’s awesome red cables-and-bobbles hat? A visual reminder:

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Well, I was very much enchanted by it, and so was Anushka who charted the cables-and-bobbles design, and I volunteered to test-knit it. What a sacrifice.

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And if I may say so myself, it’s looking pretty damn good! I only changed a couple of minor things. Oh, and the bobble count and position. And the stitches cast on, because a DK hat with 60 stitches? Is not, under any circumstances, gonna fit on my head. I think I’m gonna knit this one again, though, with a pretty major difference: the width of the cables. It’s okay now, but with the widely spaced cables, the single-stitch cables look kind of cut-off, so I’d do it with a two-stitch cable next time. Judging from the photos, it might be a two-stitch cable in the original, too.

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But still. Pretty hat! And I’m very much grateful for somebody else charting it. (Also, I wanted to make a pretty version with KnitVisualizer, and when I was finished… I discovered the demo version doesn’t let you save stuff. WTF.)

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Also, after thsi baby, I’m kind of in love with bobbles. Bobbles! Simple pleasures for simple minds, I know, but they’re kind of awesome and… bobbly!

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Same procedure as every year, James.

December 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

I just wanted to update real quick, wish everybody a Happy New Year.

My grandma’s still lingering – at a point where it could be any minute, or in three weeks, the doctors say. So I’m going back to Leipzig tomorrow, on my father’s insistence. He wanted me to go today, but I didn’t feel much like partying into the new year anyway, so I’m just staying at home with the cats, making sure they don’t freak when the fireworks start and watching movies. And knitting.

I frogged the ginormous arms of the Weasley Sweater I made in 2007. Like I’ve said to anyone who’d listen (and some who wouldn’t), in retrospect it’s incredible I didn’t get suspicious when each arm took around 180g of worsted-weight yarn to complete. Either way, I’m pretty impressed by the quality of the knitting and making up. It’s nice to report that my gauge/tension has changed exactly not at all over two and a half years, and my duplicate stitching was probably better than it is now! Unfortunately, it’s on the wrong part of the sweater, i.e. the back. And also unfortunately, a) the yarn is butt-ugly, I’m gonna dye over it, and b) now I know why I don’t do anything bigger than a washcloth in cotton. It’s a very simple reason: I fucking hate knitting with cotton.

But that is my new year’s resolution right there: Finish that fucking sweater. Cause the body fits awesome, comfy and homey and Weasley.

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So, in conclusion: Happy New Year everybody!

Lay your weary head to rest

December 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

I was going to come home and tweet as first thing: I have a black car I call baby and I just ate a bacon cheeseburger at a diner along the highway. I need a new fandom.

Then I actually came home, there was no car in the driveway, the house was dark and locked and the cats were acting funny.

My grandma is dying. My father’s mother, and it’s not exactly a surprise, except for where it is. She’s 94, she has Alzheimer’s, she’s in a wheelchair, she’s… barely a shell anymore. And yet…

Either way, this isn’t quite reaching my brain yet. It’s much too occupied with pressing issues of me having to cancel New Year’s with Saskia and that I really need to do laundry and that I didn’t bring my cell phone charger and how I only have half a sock left  before I run out of knitting.

So, yeah. Merry fucking Christmas.

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