I feel the Earth move under my feet

May 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

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Do you know like we were saying, about the earth revolving? It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world is turning and you just can’t quite believe it ’cause everything looks like it’s standing still. I can feel it – the turn of the earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go… That’s who I am.

These days I barely realize how fast time flies by, until another week has gone by and I’m going square dancing and barbecuing and doing yarny stuff over at Annelie’s and taking guided tours around my neighborhood and having business lunch with my friends and climbing up church towers and saving our little grill from the sudden downpour. My Ravelry project page certainly reflects that – I just updated it with a shawl I finished on April 4th, but other than that I just have a ton of half-finished projects flying around. I did finish the socks I started when I needed something to knit for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I back in, uh, November, and I’m almost done with a precious little baby set in red and yellow – it’s funny how Elizabeth Zimmerman’s patterns totally work if you actually follow them.

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Also, this week Annelie and I finally got around to dyeing some yarn, with easter egg dyes, Kool-Aid and onion skins. There was a whole rainbow of little skeins of wool that she’d inherited from her great-grandmother, and then five big skeins that we met up to untangle and wind into balls just yesterday.

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(from top to bottom: kool-aid, easter egg dye, onion skins first skein, onion skins second skein. yes, I am aware of the fact that these are only four skeins; Annelie had already started winding one)

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I love winding yarn into balls, or in my case flat yarn cakes that don’t roll around quite so absurdly. It’s a very social thing, absolute teamwork, with one holding the skein and the other one winding the ball, and while you’re connected to thousands of years of history, you have tons and tons of time on your hands to just talk. And with five 130 g skeins of fingering-weight yarn, that’s quite a lot of time. Good times. We split the onion skeins fraternally (or sororically) and are planning on a glove KAL; the blue-and-green skein is mine and mine alone, yes yes my precioussss, and Annelie promptly cast on another Baby Surprise Jacket with the Kool-Aid skein.

I cannot stress how heartbreakingly gorgeous the first onion yarn is. The second, paler one is still quite pretty, but the first one… It’s like spun gold. Which quite frankly I hadn’t expected from onions. Of all things, really.

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And so, life goes on and on. Down from the road where it began. (speaking of which, today is the first day of Sherlock shooting in Cardiff. I can’t wait for the second season!) There are two weeks left until the Wollefest, two months minus one day until I have to hand in my Bachelor’s thesis. And before I’ll know it, summer will be over and done with, and the leaves will turn to gold, and nothing gold can stay. I feel the earth move under my feet…

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Hey Ashurbanipal, I’m a Mesopotamian!

February 13, 2011 § 6 Comments

Entirely expectedly, I got a lot of knitting done in the crunch phase of my finals, with the whole refusing more than an absolute minimum for Spanish (I passed the oral! Abysmally, but I passed! Yesss.) and general procrastination.

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(The day before my oral, Saskia and I went down to the canal and sat in the sun for an hour. What a perfect day.)

Incredibly, I’m down to one project. Well, three. Well, technically four, but the Dalek vest has been hibernating for so long and it looks like that’s not gonna change anytime soon, so. (well, four things and a lizard.)

Anyway: the Thermal sweater is finished! Done! All sewn up pretty and with buttons and a little ‘handmade’ tag in the back of the neck. I’ve already worn it to choir, literally fifteen minutes after cutting the last thread, and I’m pretty enchanted by the whole thing.

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(Thermal by Laura Chau, 3mm needles, just shy of 600 g of Zitron Trekking XXL)

I’m proud to report that the sleeves are NOT too long, for once. It seems I’ve finally learned my lesson? Or maybe it was just a fluke. Who knows.

Re: the sleeves though, I don’t know if it was the fact that I had to fudge the sleeve cap a little (I increased to 106 instead of 112), or that my sweater is generally a tad less fitted than the one on the model, but the tops of the sleeve caps were VERY boxy. Very angular. To the point where they stuck out and just looked stupid. I fixed that by sewing the seam in a diagonal line over the last 16 rows or so. The downside of that is that now there’s four little triangles inside the sweater, but they’re not noticeable from the outside, and they haven’t been a problem yet.

More photos (and close-ups of the uber-cute little buttons) when I come back from Berlin next weekend or so, in the hope that I’ll catch some good natural light at some point. It’s been overcast, and that always screws with red colors.

Also, guess what became of the handspun?

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A Hitchhiker! It knit up really quickly on 4 mm needles, and I’m still very charmed by the construction. Alas, I did not get 42 spikes, but the fact that they’re much more pronounced and dramatic than in the sock-weight version more than makes up for it.

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The best thing is that it worked out perfectly. I finished on the last row of a spike without a single yard left over; there were two 2-inch pieces that I cut after weaving in the ends, but that was it. A very, very gratifying knit. Calmed me down immensely in the last couple of minutes before my Spanish oral.

Also, I’ve figured out what’s wrong with my Spanish Armada – I’m missing three stitches on each side. Very, very strange. Rather worrying, actually, but I think I’ll just fudge it with another row and a sneaky increase somewhere in the middle. I’m so confused though why 3 and not 2 or 4. Those I could have explained, but three is indeed very bemusing.

Book rec for this week: Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”! I’d never read it before, but I’d resolved to include as many classics I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to buying in my 52 in 52 project as I could. And in the case of Jekyll and Hyde, it was definitely worth the, oh, €2.50 I splurged on the Dover Thrift Edition. And, uh, it’s much better than that just sounded. It reminded me a lot of Dorian Gray, actually, which isn’t all that surprising, considering they’re both Victorian novels dealing with the strange rift in their society, between virtue and vice, between public and private. It was terribly captivating, a gripping read that had some places where I literally recoiled in horror – perfect, really, for a nice rainy afternoon. It’s under 50 pages too, but it’s packed with mystery and thrill. I loved it.

It’s also narrated from an outside perspective, which surprised me: I’d always assumed it was going to be following Jekyll rather closely, but it didn’t at all until the very last chapter, which of course elevates the mystery a good deal more. You literally don’t know what the hell is going on until the last couple of pages. It must have been so endlessly shocking to Victorians reading it as a fresh story, a fresh idea, without any kind of foreknowledge. All in all, a book definitely worth reading. I might tackle Treasure Island too this year, I really liked Stevenson’s style.

Next week I’ll spend four days in Berlin with Saskia. We’ll be visiting at least two yarn shops, one button shop and four museums, and I hope we’ll not be too tired to see a silent movie on Wednesday evening. I’ve already cast on a sock to drag everywhere and photograph; also I’ve been saving the new Thursday Next novel for the train ride. I can’t wait!

Short and stout

December 16, 2010 § 8 Comments

I like tea.

And I’m not even British. I like tea, I drink copious amounts of it, and I have since I was twelve or thirteen. Most of the time, I’ll just throw a tea bag in a big ol’ mug and curl up around it, and since I have many big mugs, I somehow never got around to using the nifty little teapot my mother gave me for my birthday one year, which separates into a pot and a matching tea cup.

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Somehow, sitting at my desk, doing Spanish exercises and pouring myself tea, it somehow elevated the commodity, the necessity that tea has become in my life to something more. It slowed me down, from unnecessarily hectic to calm. There’s something magical about a steaming cup of tea.

I haven’t really been taking my time with things recently. I’ve been increasingly impatient, I’ve thrown knitting away in disgust much more than usual. When I do sit down to knit, I only want to get it done and over with. It’s not even that I’m that much under pressure, because uni is easy this semester and I’m way early with presents this year, but somehow I’m cracking. I haven’t been taking my time.

Maybe I need some medium-size projects. All I have at the moment are sweaters and teeny things like camera cozies or single socks in thick yarn, and no grey area in between at all.

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But maybe what I need is more tea. More sitting down with a tea pot and a small cup. (Small, in this household, is anything under 350 ml. We have mugs going up to 750 ml here.) More enjoying in small quantities. Less flitting from one project to another. Maybe even less composing hateful monologues to my Spanish teacher in my head.

More clearing my head, and breathing in the fragrant steam from the tea cup cradled in my hands.

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It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life

December 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Today, for the first time in my life, I’ve applied something I learned in 5th grade that I found, up until this day, to be remarkably useless. This may be due to the fact that the novelty of winter and being shut indoors all day is slowly but steadily starting to wear off, or that I’m procrastinating, or that I’m afraid I’ll make a total prat out of myself today.

I have a sinking feeling making a prat out of myself will be kind of unavoidable today. Not that I don’t do this on a regular basis, and usually voluntarily too. I’m a person who’s not in the least afraid to burst into song while walking through crowded streets, especially not around Christmas, when I can’t seem to step outside my door without starting to hum some carol.

And yet, personal interaction with semi-strangers continues to terrify me. Which is why I cannot for the life of me figure out what I was thinking when I contacted a girl from my Spanish class asking whether we could meet up, speak some Spanish, to cure me of my crippling inability to formulate a coherent Spanish sentence when I have to do so in front of my class.

The problem is a) my crippling inability to formulate a coherent Spanish sentence in front of strangers, b) that the first time I saw her, I wanted to grab her and furiously make out with her, and c) that I’ve been procrastinating all day, so my room looks like my stash exploded and my muffins are nowhere near existing, and d) I have no idea what to talk about with a stranger. I’m terrible at small talk in German, okay at it in English, and have never attempted it in Spanish, which makes me assume I’m terrible at it.

(I don’t know where my Spanish-related pessimism stems from. I think it might be in part from the fact that I went from upper third of the class to lowest of the low, due to this course mostly being taken by students who’ve spent time abroad. The other thing might be that I’m supposed to be on the level I officially had in English after I finished high school. The problem is that my English was vastly better than B2 even before I went to the US (in 11th grade), and I keep forgetting this, so I feel like my Spanish has to be as good as my English after this semester. Which, to put it mildly, is a slightly insurmountable feat. Also I keep forgetting that I’ve been studying English for 11 years.)

So I made a mind map. Which, for the record, I don’t think I’ve done since 6th grade, and never voluntarily.

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So, basically… I might resort to orchestrating the inevitable ‘my… you sure have a lot of yarn’ moment earlier than the natural progression.

I might not know when to utilize the subjuntivo, or how to conjugate many of the irregular verbs especially in subjuntivo – but I can tell you, without any subjuntivo-inducing uncertainty, that I can totally monologue on knitting for a while.

And if all else fails, I’ll just get her drunk on mulled wine and make out with her.

… and it’s gonna be totally awesome

November 24, 2010 § 9 Comments

I haven’t been posting; I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I got a new paper journal that I love writing in – yet another Moleskine. The third over a relatively short time. Used to be that I thought they were pretentious, now I appreciate their simplistic design and rounded corners.

Speaking of rounded corners. Last night, my old laptop broke, which was a kind of a shame and kind of a relief. I liked Graham, I really did, but I’d had nothing but trouble with him in the last months – freezing, especially, and overheating, and freezing some more, and more random shit that was just annoying. Then last night, he wouldn’t recognize the fact that he was plugged in. I tried the usual – pull the plug out, stick it back in, thump it on the back – nothing.

So I rather hysterically backed everything important up onto my external harddrive, transferred some money, and bought a Macbook today. The Macbook I’ve been planning on for… a while. Ever since summer, I guess, since Graham started acting up more and more.

I was a bit afraid of the Big Bad Apple, but so far I’m loving it. It’s friendly, it’s streamlined, it’s simplistic. I’m sure I’ll encounter some problems at some point, but right now, I’m very much charmed. Oscar (i.e. the Macbook) isn’t quite as big as Graham, which might put a damper on watching movies, but seriously… if that’s all I have to complain about, I’ll take that any day.

Status updates on the Frantic Christmas Knitting: 30 days to go, Girl Friday halfway done, Henry around 60 %. I’d post pictures but it’s at a point where it just looks… more of the same, basically. Which isn’t very exciting as photos go. (Also I don’t have anything on this computer yet.)

Cute knitting-related anecdote: One of my classmates was wearing this stylish beret, so I asked here where she got it. Her answer? Ravelry! So Saskia and I squeed a bit, and started chatting about knitting, and the pattern (Meret/Mystery Beret by Wooly Wormhead, by the way), and yarn, and the whole shebang. It was nice, having a little outpost of normality in the ‘real world’. The Bunter November yarn market (the little brother of the Wollefest each May) was, of course, right on the mainland of the Wondrous Land of Knitting, and I spent a couple of hours deliriously petting yarn, knitting and chatting with people I knew from Ravelry or the Strickcafé or didn’t know at all, at least not their faces (hallo, Jana!).

Why I never posted about this? Well, of course I’d forgotten my camera (figures), and I just haven’t felt like posting yarn porn. Shocking, I know. I’ll post ’em one of these days, when I’ve figured out whether Oscar is compatible with Bobby the External Harddrive. But first, Glee.

If I go crazy then would you still call me Superman?

November 9, 2010 § 4 Comments

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As always, I can count on my desk to be a pretty accurate snapshot of my life. Mostly because I just pile stuff on there, pull things that I need from the bottom to the top, until everything’s arranged in a kind of organized chaos.

My life seems to be a pretty even split between knitting and Spanish right now. Which… is kind of what it’s been for the last year, to be honest. Except now it’s more fun and less fun at the same time – more fun because I read books in Spanish now, even if my dictionary is never particularly far – less fun because my Spanish course kind of sucks, for several reasons I won’t go into.

But those rather vague lumps in the picture, that’s top to bottom: Henry scarf (for Adam), Vespergyle Mitts (for me), Watson sweater (tan-colored lump, for me), Girl Friday (grey, for my sister). Featured in the background: Thermal sweater, for me, which I haven’t touched in a while due to, well, the big pile in the middle.

I’ve tried rotating working on them by day, which was a veritable shipwreck due to my project ADD, so I mostly work on each of them every day. Which sounds like I’m getting a lot more done than is actually the case.

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Which is weird, because I’m actually more lazy recently than in a while. I love knitting, but with Christmas at the door it’s mostly a low-level stress factor, along with something that kind of feels like a chore. Plus I have Smallville and Psych to supplement my usual shows, so more knitting time there. Plus I ordered a webcam the other day and it should get here this week, which means I can knit while webcamming with Adam.

And gosh, doesn’t that sound naughty.

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Take a look ahead

November 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s not like I’m not stressed, with Christmas only 53 days away – especially since I kind of randomly decided to knit a Henry for Adam. On the plus side, I’m almost done with the backside of the Girl Friday for my sister, despite my incredible slackerdom when it comes to that thing.

I’d much rather work on Watson (also only about 15cm to go on that back), or the Thermal (started a sleeve, back done, half the front also), or my Vespergyle mittens (halfway up the thumb on the second mitt), or Saskia’s Super Secret Christmas Present (finished, booyeah! but I’m considering making matching mittens). I’m also done with the Brambles beret and scarf, even if I haven’t gotten around to wearing them. I have a feeling I’ll have to run some kind of elastic through the brim of the beret, since it’s pretty loose, but I’ll wait till after I’ve actually worn it.

In conclusion: I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Making progress. Which is important for my sanity, since uni doesn’t exactly evoke the same feeling at the moment.

Also, it’s kind of hard to get really stressed out if the foot of my bed looks like this most evenings.

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Yes, I also got my other roomie to join us on the dark side. She’s making a hat. Which she was half done with, then discovered a mistake two rows down from where she was, and subsequently… frogged the whole thing. And started over. I’m still kind of flabbergasted.

Speaking of flabbergasted. I’m making good on my resolution to go to the knitting café more, and lo and behold. I was just hanging out there on Saturday, very content indeed about just having bought truly luscious yarn for Henry,

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(Bremont Camino Alpaca, fingering weight, 60% merino, 20% alpaca, 20% nylon)

… and then Christine plunked an armful of yarn on the table in front of me. Not just any yarn. Wollmeise.

I tried, for about three hours, to discourage myself from buying one. I failed. Mostly because I didn’t really have any good arguments except for how it was kind of expensive (€17.50 for 150g, which… isn’t that bad, but not that cheap either), but then I had that exact amount in my wallet and that must’ve been a sign.

It was kind of hard to decide, because all the colors were gorgeous. No kidding. Even the ones I usually can’t stand. ALL. GORGEOUS. But I settled on this beautiful green, Grashüpfer, and my photo doesn’t do it justice.

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Also, it’s so tightly twisted that the 150g look like 100g, and you could probably bludgeon someone to death with the skein. Death by Wollmeise. There’s worse ways to go.

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