Friday, November 18, 2011

Word vomit.

Right now can be summed up in a few context-free bullet points.

  • I hate the waiting game. I would really like next week to be now. 
  • I have a good support system. Additionally, I am a good support system for others. Both of these things make me feel incredibly lucky.
  • While I hate waiting, I am a little glad to have some free space. December is going to be crazy-full of house guests, things to do, (possibly) new opportunities, and twice as many "want to's" than there is time for. I welcome all of it, but it still makes me feel a bit tired to think about and I'm not sure how it's all going to work yet. 
  • The mittens are probably too small. I don't actually know if this is true or not, as I don't hang around four-year-olds much. 
  • I'm still not too fancy for $2 Chuck every once in a while. 
  • I recently told someone that, while I would always have things I'd do differently in hindsight, I still have plenty to be proud of. It wasn't until I heard myself say it that I actually believed it. 
  • Fall and winter make me miss living downtown, minus the week my apartment didn't have heat. That part sucked. 
  • Every once in a while I still find myself able to be surprised by the people I think I know best. I'm not sure if that's good, bad, simply interesting or some combination of all three. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This is where stash diving gets me.

I was searching for a coordinating sock yarn to finish off my dad's Christmas socks with, and ended up spending a good 45 minutes or so just digging through stash for no real reason.

Depending on one's perspective, my stash is quite modest. Not counting unspun fiber and sweaters waiting to be unraveled, it all fits in one cubby-holed bookcase, roughly four feet tall by two feet wide. Okay, I'll admit things are slightly crammed into the bookcase, and there's another ten balls or so stashed in an ottoman in my living room, but the overall stash is more or less bookcase-sized. In comparison to the stories of stash I read on Ravelry, this isn't very big. According to my friend Shelly, who has been knitting for just over a year and tends to buy on a project-by-project basis, this is crazy huge. Like I said, it's all about one's perspective.

In any case, my sock yarn search made me go through everything again. Due to poorness, I'm trying to knit as much as possible from my stash, and Christmas presents are no exception. I realize not everything is going to come from here-- for example, my super-special snowflake mom gets socks every year, but can't wear any of the wool or wool-blend sock yarns I currently have on hand-- but I'd at least like to try. Realizing this, I started looking through, hoping for ideas to spring forth from the random hanks, skeins and balls.

I got one. Just not for a Christmas present. As usual, my self-involvement meant that I thought of a perfect project from some long-forgotten handspun for me.

I sometimes feel like I shouldn't keep my first handspun yarns in with the yarns. I don't even really think of them as actual usable fiber and instead tend to view them as an artifact of the learning process. My first plied yarn fell squarely into that category until the other day. It was a purple silk blend that I had started to ply with a grey merino, then switched to a white merino half-way through. In retrospect, for an uneven, horribly underplied mess, it was kind of pretty. Too bad there was only 42 yards of it. But then I came across a basic merino single I'd spun up who-knows-when, and an idea and a swatch or two eventually became a cowl.

I was quite proud of myself-- I waited until I finished a pair of mittens for my brother before casting on, and it went quickly enough that it didn't take much time away from the holiday projects I have to get done. The ends still need to be woven in and it needs serious blocking, but I love the cowl that sprang u from my stash. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I just finished a post about stash diving and unearthing a cowl idea, but then the internet (or more specifically the mobile app that I was using due to being too lazy to turn on my laptop) ate it. We'll try this again tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today's First World Problems

  • I finished the bulk of my dad's Christmas socks last night, but don't have any appropriate sock yarn in my stash for the contrast afterthought heel and toe. The black is too black, the blue has too much green, and I used up all of my white/neutral dyeing mini-skeins for my sock yarn blanket. I'm too poor to buy anything that would work. I really want these socks to be finished!

Reason why this is not a real problem: I won't be poor forever and should be able to find the right yarn and knit the heels and toes in plenty of time for Christmas.

  • I ran out of yarn ten rows away from being finished with the Oaklet shawl I was working on for a friend. Can't buy more for both above reasons and because it's been stashed for the last couple of years, making matching dye-lots tricky. 

Reason why this is not a real problem: I didn't actually like how the shawl/yarn combo looked in the first place.

  • My second attempt at polenta cakes was a complete failure. Maybe I didn't give it enough time to set up, maybe I had the wrong heat, I don't know, but my broccoli polenta fell completely apart tonight into a big, slightly browned mess. 

Reason this is not a real problem: Do I really need a reason for this one? It's freaking polenta for crying out loud.

Despite such horrible setbacks, I managed to eke out a reasonably productive day, then grabbed a glass of raspberry mead and caught the tail end of my friends' set at Honey Moon Winery. Now I'm finishing up a West Wing: Season 1 dvd and planning the rest of my Christmas knitting in my cozy house with my adorable dog asleep at my feet.

That last paragraph? That's the real reason that none of these are real problems.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nothing, followed by more nothing.

So I missed a day in my quest of blogging. On the flip side, no one would have missed the boring, useless blog post it would have been had I bothered to blog yesterday. I swear to god I am actually capable of being slightly interesting.

Sadly, I have little to nothing to write today, except that I'm hoping that something I started this morning ends well. I won't know until next week if things are going to go the way I want, and it will be even more time before I get to know the final outcome. Nonetheless, I sit here today watching Mythbusters and being hopeful.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It's only been four days and I already find myself slightly stuck for a topic today.

I suppose I could write about what I made for dinner-- Veggie and Tempeh Curry with Eggplant Punjab and Basmati Rice--- but since I cheated and used things like curry paste and pre-made eggplant punjab, it's not a recipe, or even an interesting story.

I could write about how the passing of Halloween and the turning of the clocks this weekend have plunged us into instant winter, but a girl can only talk about the weather so much.

I could write about the progress I've made on my dad's Christmas socks, but it's a basic sock. At this point, the only visible change is that it looks like a slightly longer knit tube than it did a couple of days ago.

....and those were the least crappy ideas of the bunch. So for once, I went and looked at NaBloPoMo's page for one of their recent writing prompts and was given this:

When you are writing, do you prefer a pen or a computer? 

It's kind of nice coincidence that this question came up, but I'll get to that in a second. 

I end up writing a lot on computers. Having had a blog in some form or another for over ten years now and being more attached to the internet now that at any other time of my life, the majority of what I write comes from keys punched on a keyboard, but there was a time when my daily routine included putting pen to paper. Writing was one of my decompression methods when I would come home from a particularly bad day of retail hell. I had an online journal at the time, but it wasn't the same as opening up a book and pouring something out on paper. 

A few days ago, I was trying to remember when a particular event happened, so I reached up into the top shelf of my closet and pulled out the three or four beat-up sketchbooks that use to be my daily accessories. I ended up thumbing through them for nearly an hour, reading through a couple of books worth of late teen/early 20s self-involvement. It was kind of funny to read through the things I found important then, but I was more struck by the sketchbooks themselves. 

I had forgotten how much they really contained. More than just hand-written words about goofy times with friends and whatever dumb guy I was involved with; there were elaborate doodles and bits of poetry my friends wrote on napkins, ticket stubs to concerts and watercolor landscapes, random funny postcards and photographs of things that were only cool to me. My old journals felt so much more textured than anything I've written since and a part of me really missed being able to write without concern of who would read it or how it would be interpreted. 

I have a new sketchbook. I don't know if I will be converting it from it's current purpose-- planning out craft ideas and the occasional recipe-- but I have a feeling more words may go into it in the future. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Weekends don't exactly make for great blogging.

Football. Sub sandwiches. Tons of couch knitting. Spending a lazy Sunday with my two favorite guys. These are a few of my favorite things.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

My Saturday was not quite as productive as I originally planned it to be, but I'm still pretty okay with it. I got to sleep in, free in the knowledge that I didn't have to talk to anyone important or official. I got to go out and do things without necessarily having a direct agenda. I got to watch movies with good friends and knit a good two inches on my Dad's Christmas socks.

Honestly, that pretty much sums up my day, though I've also been reveling in one other thing-- as I was going through my day, it occurred to me that the fingerless  gloves I was wearing were the first ones I made, a good five or six years ago. Admittedly, I noticed that the upper palm of the right glove needed mending and is close to unraveling, but I loved the fact that I have made something that has lasted longer than most of the clothes I own. I fully realize that for some folks that's standard procedure-- hell, I know people who wear handknits their grandmothers made!-- but for me it was pretty awesome. 

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's time.

After Round 4 (or is it 5?) of battling with insurance companies this morning, I decided that today it was finally time to get back to the project I started before our surprise remodel. I spent my afternoon working on a felting project that I'll get around to writing and photographing later, but I think the rest of the weekend will be spent on my new quilt project.

Finishing the hexagon quilt left me pretty stoked about this whole ridiculous quilting thing, but wanting something more simple, preferably with seams longer than 3 inches. So a few weeks ago, I picked up a bunch of sale fat quarters and started sketching.

I'm still trying to get away from my fear of patterns, so I went wild with black, white, and blue prints. I liked the idea of a simple brick quilt, but wanted something a little skewed, so I my rows are being cut at 45 degrees and pieced diagonally starting at opposite corners. I also liked the idea of a project that used as as little waste as possible, so in addition to my 3x6 bricks, there are 3 x random length bricks thrown in for good measure. So far my leftover scraps consist of two 1x1 squares and a few 1/4" strips.

I swear to God, it's the last blue thing I'm sewing for a while. Seriously.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

So here we are again.

Once again, it's November and I'm lagging on this whole blogging thing. I'm usually decent at the outset before eventually petering out, but this time I seem to have failed to even make it out of the starting gate.

Thing is, it's been that sort of a week. Actually, scratch that-- it's been that sort of two weeks. Two Sundays ago, my condo flooded due to a malfunctioning washer next door, dumping gallons of water under the adjoining walls into my kitchen, stairwell, and living room. We got a lot cleaned up that night, but it took four days, a cleanup crew, seven industrial fans, a dehumidifier the size of my stove, and the removal of half my downstairs flooring before everything was finally dry.

...and that was the easy part. Week 2 has been the hard part-- dealing with insurance companies. I generally expect insurance companies to do their job-- wearing us down to avoid having to release money-- but the run-around we've been getting has exceeded even my already-low standards. Luckily, I've armed myself with a trusty notebook full of info-- every name, every phone number, and every single scrap of documentation that might be remotely relevant. I'm also really lucky to have a couple of friends with insurance backgrounds who've let me pick their brains when needed, so I feel well-prepared for our fight with bullshit bureaucracy.

The whole thing, along with a couple of related tensions and frustrations, left me pretty worn out and depressed. I was too tired to do much for Halloween, which bummed me out even further. So after a week of eating my feelings and a beer or three, I went back to my preferred method of coping-- following through with my restoration plan, reminding myself that this will also pass, and making lists of the things I have to be happy and grateful for.

Right now I'm glad to be snuggled under my finished-at-long-last hex quilt. My finished size ended up being slightly bigger than throw-sized at 65"x65". I was originally planning on making a twin-sized piece, but after months of sewing I looked at my quilt where it was pinned on the wall and finally admitted that if I had to sew another hexagon I was going to hurt someone. "A throw would get more use anyway," I told myself while shoving 150 leftover hexes into my fabric trunk, and thusfar it's turned out to be true.