07 January 2011


Intarsia: I do not think it means what I thought it meant.

So I'm working on a sooper-sekrit project right now. It's a big hunk of intarsia knitting in a Kaffe Fassett pattern. It's been rife with problems.

It has mitered corners. This means I have to knit corners that look roughly like this:

And then you fold them to get this:

But I didn't understand the directions as written. Now that I know the goal, the spartan directions are perfectly clear.

Apparently, I didn't read the directions clearly the first time I tried knitting them. This could have been related to the following facts:
  1. I started it on Sunday, during the 1:00 [American] football game.
  2. I continued working on it through the 4:00 and 8:00 games.
  3. All of this happened at DH's parents' house.
  4. DH's dad bought, and was steadily working through, a handle of Captain Morgan.
  5. DH has mad bartender skillz.
It doesn't take Sherlock to deduct why I had problems with the pattern.

Well, I finally figured out that the increases for the mitered border had nothing to do with the interior intarsia field. So the corners were finally correct. But the field itself was so tight and unevenly knit... and damn, was I tired of interminably twisting those damn yarns with every stitch.

from the front:from the back:

look at that beautifully-wrapped, carried yarn! The only problem is:

I found this video a helpful refresher course. Watch it, and do not do as I have done.

25 September 2010

Stage 1.5: Tequila

My dear, sweet friend died yesterday. It was her wish. I am heartbroken. I had so many plans. She gave me a wedding scrapbook; I was going to surprise her with it when I had finished filling it out. I had just picked up a set of photos at Costco yesterday to send to her... I had the card ready to mail when I received the news of her death. I don't know what to do with the photos now. I wanted so much to share them with her.

I have grieved lost relationships. I still feel grief over a couple of them -- those people I grieve losing are still living, as far as I know (I don't know. I rely on the shaky premise that if they die, someone will remember to tell me. It's not the best method -- simply the best available. I just sort of vaguely hope they're alive and well, knowing I can't know). I grieve because I love them, and sometimes I think the grief will be with me as long as I love -- and as I live, I love. Sometimes I daydream about accidental meetings and happy reconciliations (unlikely, but it might happen!). But this -- I know she won't ever be there. I promised to send her pictures from my first dinner party, and it breaks my heart that she won't see them. I am thankful I got to speak to her last week -- last week! -- she kept telling me how happy it made her to know how happy I was about the china. I just thought there'd be more time. I thought we'd have weeks, at least... if not months. I thought there'd be more time.

DBF took me out for lunch and stuffed me with steak and soaked me in tequila. It was good. In retrospect, I think she would prefer I be pickling myself in Champagne than tequila... but there is time for that. I need to go shopping -- there is no option but to show up at her funeral impeccably turned out, with a gorgeous purse and devastatingly fabulous (yet appropriate) shoes.

I wish she could see them.

14 September 2010

wedding gift

I received a wedding present in the mail today from my friend. It is the money she and her husband had saved to travel to attend my wedding. The long illness has made her unable to walk and too frail to travel. I knew she wouldn't be able to come, but I had held out a small hope that she might recover enough to come. Now it is final; she will not be there. She wants me to use the money to buy my wedding china, so I will have it to remember her.

I am overwhelmed. I cannot process all the emotions that are running through me -- I'm happy about the china, sad that she will not be there, grieving that she is dying, delighted by her gorgeous and thoughtful packaging, warmed by her loving thoughts, guilty at the hugeness of the gift, grateful, melancholy, frustrated... I just can't think about it. I have to call her tomorrow to let her know it's arrived. For once, I have no idea what to say to her.

I'm knitting An American in China socks using Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveler in colorway "Scotland." The linen-stitch sole is beautiful, and probably hard-wearing, but tedious. Every 4-6 rows knit in the round, I have to double back and knit short rows across the soles, in order to compensate for the tight gauge of linen stitch. Since I am knitting them using magic loop method, this leaves holes. I wrap on the sides I can, but it leaves holes at the other side. I'm hoping they won't be glaring deficiencies in the final product. The colorway is gorgeous -- I have held onto this yarn for several years, waiting for the right project. I didn't even knit socks when I bought it, but I figured I'd get around to them at some point. And lo, I have. Pictures at some point.

24 July 2010


So I went in an estate jewelry store today. I knew I couldn't buy anything, so there was no danger in me looking.

And then I saw it -- it whispered to me from its velvet-lined box.

It sparkled from across the room, its soft siren voice asking me to come closer, to be nearer, to come and see...
It lay nestled in soft black silk velvet, its box tilted open. As I came nearer, I felt my heartbeat quicken.

I stood before it. I looked down at it. And when I saw, I wanted to wear. I wanted it. I wanted to possess it, to have it, for it to be MINE. I could not remember wanting anything in my life as badly as I wanted it at that moment.

My desire ran on a knife's edge.
I exhaled slightly. My mouth felt dry. I bit my lip.

In an instant, I recognized it as my precious. I knew it because the thought that ran through my head with wild passion was, I would sell my soul to have this.

And then I thought, well... maybe not sell it as such. Maybe mortgaging it at a reasonable rate. On a non-recourse loan. After my lawyers have read it.

I asked to try it on.

As the saleswoman opened the clasp, I knew it was too small. This tiny Victorian beauty was made for wrists smaller than mine. She slipped it onto my wrist and closed the clasp. It fit perfectly. It was light and sparkling. They were stars of diamonds. My constellation... my perfect tiara I had searched so long to find wasn't a tiara at all. The perfection I had sought was here, now -- it was real, now. It was bright dizzy delight of champagne and sensual earthy pleasure and it belonged here, now, with me.

It was so right. It was the inherent rightness that makes you think, "this is so right."

There was never any question that I had to give it back. At the same time, it was almost painful having to admit to myself that I had to take it off. It was like something that had come out of a blissful golden afternoon, stayed through the jasmine-scented night and --


It was not mine. It felt like heartbreak, that it could not be mine. This beauty, this delicate sparkling beauty, that I would adore -- that I would love as much as a person can love something so cold. It felt like having come home, only to be asked to leave again.

My beautiful bracelet.

Maybe in another life...

15 July 2010

Miss Manners Disapproves of This Post

I do not like these socks.
The yarn is Elann Harlequin. It is cheap, rough and full of sadness.
Alternately, these may be incredibly durable, hard-wearing and economical... yuck.

Many people think etiquette is a bunch of stuffy rules for rich people who have nothing better to do than show off what fancy manners they have and lord them over the ill-informed masses. No. Etiquette is there to help you navigate social situations so that you (a) at best, avoid inadvertently hurting other people's feelings, or (b) at worst, don't leave people thinking you're a horrible, callous, insensitive and/or boorish person. I screw it up a lot... but I do try to get it right, and the intention must count for something.

I feel like I've been immersed in etiquette esoterica lately, with massive party-planning underway. It's wrapped up in every detail from how to address the envelopes to who sits where to who wears what. This little-used knowledge is far beyond my basic childhood primer, which consisted of:
  • how to talk to old people
  • how to introduce two people who don't know each other
and, the all-time favorite
  • how to eat without being a disgusting pig with whom no-one wants to dine -- because if you are, you will eat alone for the rest of your life and won't have any friends and because you have no friends won't be invited to any parties and because you're not invited to any parties you won't have any pretty dresses and because you have no pretty dresses you will have to stay home in rags like a poor person's help and eat alone at your piggy trough with your face in the slop, and you don't want that, now do you, Courtney?
Nonetheless, there are countless books and consultants available to fill the etiquette esoterica gap (cf Crane's Blue Book, Emily Post). Thanks to them, even the rudest of us can learn to not be complete assholes when it comes to dealing with other people. Even if you don't know what the exact protocol is, you probably have a vague idea that there is a protocol out there, somewhere, and someone who knows it.

Another function of etiquette -- and perhaps the favorite for detail-oriented, melancholy types -- is that a breach of it is a wonderful outlet for righteous indignation. Think about how much satisfaction it gives you, when you feel slighted, to think, "I can't believe she said/did that! She ought to know better!" Suddenly the slight doesn't sting so much, because obviously the deficiency is in the other person. It's magical.

There's a reason you don't invite people to your bridal shower if you have not invited them to your wedding -- it makes you look like a greedy, gift-grabbing hussy. It says exactly what you were thinking, namely, "I want to include her but I don't want to invite her to my wedding." The non-invitee's feelings will be hurt, and she will think you're an inconsiderate, greedy, gift-grabbing hussy.

Which you are.

Which Emily Post is too polite to tell you.

Anyway, here's some knitting:

Summit in Lisa Souza Raw Silk.

06 July 2010

Baby Surprise Jacket -- FINISHED!

The Baby Surprise Jacket (knit wiki link) that I started back in May of 2008 is finally finished. The knitting had been completed for a long time but it lacked buttons. I found some wonderful 1940's-era buttons at Accessories of Old. At time of writing, there are 11,927 Baby Surprise Jackets documented on Ravelry. If that's just the number that have been started and recorded in the past 2-3 years, imagine how many there must be actually out there in the world since the pattern was first published in 1968.

yarn info:
Salsa by Dancing Leaf Farm
Worsted / 10 ply
55% Mohair, 45% Wool

29 March 2010

Fiber, fiber everywhere... and no time left to spin.

These are the eggs I have for breakfast.
The names of the hens that laid them are written in pencil.
I know EXACTLY where my food comes from.

I miss spinning. I miss the rhooooom-whirrrrrr-whirrrrr of my wheel. I miss the hypnotic treadling and the clack-clack of the footman-treadle join.... which, come to think of it, might be something that needs fixing.

My poor wheel -- my beautiful, shiny wheel -- has been sitting under a striped sheet for a long time. No one has recently wiped it down with oil after a long spinning session. No one has checked to see that it hasn't been suddenly attacked by termites. I am guilty of spinning wheel neglect -- the only saving graces are that (1) I cared for it very well before it went into the corner with a sheet and (2) it has been kept out of the sun and inside a climate-controlled house, where the temperature and humidity never vary significantly, thanks to the ridiculously complicated HVAC systems.

I know it hasn't suffered physical harm, but I still feel like I've fallen down on some sacred duty... It's times like these that I'm pretty sure I don't deserve a wheel as gorgeous and well-made as mine. My wheel was lovingly made by hand, and now it sits in a corner, unnoticed. One would think that I'd at least have the decency to drape it in a hand-loomed shroud, not a cheap twin-XL sheet leftover from the two years of undergrad that I lived on campus.

I have gigantic plastic storage bins full of fiber -- hand-dyed silk hankies, mounds of fluffy buffalo down, piles of silky angora, three whole alpaca fleeces, goat and sheep fleeces in various states of nature, prime first-clip mohair, and seemingly endless balls of dyed top in various blends of merino/silk -- in an endless holding pattern.

I am not a skilled spinner. I am proficient, but I have not practiced enough to be truly skilled.

With Spring in the air and a definite house-moving coming up, I pause to reflect on this.

Do I need to keep my beautiful Reeves wheel? Do I need these pounds and pounds of fiber that may never become yarn?

Is it something I can let go? Perhaps it was important in the past but I no longer feel the need to cling to it. Maybe it is something unnecessary and weighing me down. Is it something I need to shed? Will I regret the absence of something I barely noticed (except with vague feelings of guilt)?

I am thankful to have owned and had the pleasure of working on such a marvelous, luxurious wheel. It's sorta like having had an exotic sports car in your garage, that you drove once for five miles, detailed and fussed over, and then put on those special curved tired blocks and under a cover, and haven't jingled the keys since. I know how nice it is to spin on a Reeves wheel.

But if I don't spin regularly, why do I have one? I'd get much more use and enjoyment out of an etching press. And I know there are spinners out there who drool over, covet, and would cherish having this wheel.

I'm not going to make a hasty decision on this, but right now I'm leaning toward selling my wheel and getting rid of my fiber stash. I don't think it's necessary at this point in my life.

22 March 2010

Notes from the Inside

Day 453. No cars in the parking lot this morning, except those that have been parked there for nigh on two years. It's 10am. Where is everyone? Aren't they working today? Am I alone here?

Day 462.
Rain today. Think today is Monday, but can't be certain. At times, I'm pretty sure it's Thursday. Don't ask the clients for fear they'll think I'm crazy. Postman came by today, so today is definitely NOT Sunday. Unless they started Sunday delivery and I was so busy working I didn't notice. The adding machine still has a 9+4 keypad in the main section (1-9, 0, 00, 000, .) I have used approximately 2,356 meters of adding machine tape since my time here began. Have processed God only knows how many returns. Well, God and my timesheet.

Day 245346836. Think porcelain coffee cup is permanently stained from green tea. Have possibly measured out life in tea-spoons, but lost count and therefore cannot be certain.

Day 23478! (23478 factorial) . I woke from my nap on the office floor. I had a dream that I was... knitting. I think that's something I used to do, a long time ago...

Day 235φq09Φ20456ЖΔ². Am nearly out of yarn.

15 March 2010

Cookies for Africa -- Easter Cookie Giveaway

Cookies for Africa is an online bake sale to raise money for ChildAlive, a nonprofit that buys mosquito nets for children in Western Africa. I know the woman who runs Cookies for Africa; she is incredibly kind and generous, in addition to incredibly talented.

She is trying to raise awareness for her fundraiser by giving away cookies. The cookies are totally free, with no strings attached. The ulterior motive is, of course, to raise awareness for the charity. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog entry for the giveaway. I won her St. Patrick’s Day cookies (swiped picture below); they are as delicious as they are pretty.

Have you been to Becky's blog yet? Have you commented? DO IT NOW! WIN COOKIES!

09 March 2010

Knitting in the Time of Taxes

The Baltic Sea Stole is chugging right along. Er, it was, when I had time to work on it. Progress is slow lately because most of my waking hours are spent calculating how much money Big Daddy Plantation System the government is stealing taking from its sharecroppers my clients*, and trying to mitigate the damage as much as legally possible.

This means I don't get a whole lot of sleep; I work long, long shifts; knitting is therefore squeezed into remainder time, and there isn't a lot of that until mid-April. Anyway, here's what I've been up to:

not exactly 3 feet long.

Lisa Souza Petal, 50/50 silk/merino, colorway "Sapphire." Gorgeous, isn't it? It feels as beautiful as it looks. Can't wait to block it out.

Oh, and that carpet on which it is resting? Yeah, that's in the latest annex to Knit Goddingdom, a province known as The New House. More on that later.

*Note from the editor: the "Taxation = Slavery" rhetoric has been deleted from this post.

02 March 2010

Tuesday Eye Candy

Like I said, we have a LOT of catching up to do! Future posts include the knitting workshop I recently attended with Anne Hanson of Knitspot.

Welcome back! Here's some eye candy to tide you over until a meatier post comes along.

This is Araucania Ranco Multy. It's a semi-coarse sock yarn that I bought for its colors.

I knitted it up into a half-width Clapotis. It turned out okay. I was not satisfied with the texture, and therefore do not recommend Ranco Multy for this project.

I've been knitting LOTS of socks! I haven't yet taken photos of all of them. Here's an in-progress look at a pair of candy-striped beauties with yarn from Holiday Yarns.

My current project is a Baltic Sea Stole, using a pattern Pearlsmother sent me in a Knitters Tea Swap some time ago. I'm using Lisa Souza Petal, a 50/50 silk merino in colorway "Sapphire." It's soft, gorgeous and has perfect stitch definition. Below is a picture of the beginning. I've been trucking along on this and have about three feet now, and will post an updated picture soon.

Stay tuned!

01 March 2010

Etsy and the art of FAIL

I was surprised this evening to see Health Care as the featured story on Etsy's front page. Figuring it couldn't possibly be about the current US healthcare debacle, I clicked on it. I was wrong.

What followed was a watered-down, left-leaning synopsis of the current state of health care legislation in the United States. It provided no salient details while it omitted a lot of important ones. It was how you might explain the healthcare debate to a third-grader, while trying to stay neutral. The problem is, nobody can stay neutral when discussing such a politically-charged issue. And third-graders aren't going to make informed decisions.

Regardless of your stance on the issue, it has no place on Etsy. What's next, reproductive rights and the art of handmade? I can see it now:

Reproductive Rights: An Etsy Guide.
Since many of our patrons and sellers are female, we thought we'd discuss reproductive rights. The right to an abortion is an issue that affects many people. People have differing opinions about this. Right now,
Roe v. Wade legalizes some types of abortions. Some people don't agree that this should be the case, but they have not been successful in overturning the Supreme Court decision. We here at Etsy thought we'd do a five-part series on abortion, to let you know the ins and outs of women's reproductive rights and how it might affect your life.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see any way in which that would be appropriate. Frankly, I'm not that comfortable posting that fake paragraph here, on my blog. Did it make your blood boil a little bit? Do you find it offensive that I've even mentioned abortion in an uninformative, neutral fashion on my knitting blog?

It illustrates my point perfectly, doesn't it?

I would not want to direct buyers to my Etsy shop, encourage them to poke about the site, only to have them balk at the political discussion. It's not what you look for when you're shopping for a party dress, or a landscape painting, or some vintage housewares. I would like a disclaimer at the top of the article that Etsy in no way represents the political views of the individual sellers. Better yet, why not represent no political views at all, and keep that stuff for the editorial coffee break?

I commented on the article that discussion of such a divisive issue was inappropriate for a community of the handmade. That I enjoyed political discussion elsewhere, but Etsy was not the place for it. Two minutes later, the editors had deleted my comment -- no wonder it had been the sole dissent.

I repost the quote I have kept on the sidebar of my blog, in which I still firmly believe:
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. . . . But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." -- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Etsy welcomes discussion of topics -- as long as you foster discussion that agrees with them. Maybe Etsy should run for Congress -- they'd fit right in.

It's disappointing and disheartening to see this from a site I had liked so much. I'd write them a letter and explain why I don't want to shop there any more, or why I am considering closing my shop and not putting up the new listings I had planned, but I know they won't actually care. They're going to go right on in their happy, green, urban, veganized, shiny, sterilized, unilateral, and in some ways ignorant, world. Etsy in no way represents my political beliefs, and I want no part of it.


Your regularly scheduled knitting blog will resume shortly. We have a LOT of catching up to do.