Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hazy Colored Glasses

Today I:

  • had piece of toast with cream cheese and nutritional yeast and coffee for breakfast
  • ate two bananas
  • called the bananas lunch
  • have the Ruralis Regressivis really bad (or is it just my blood sugar?)

It is wrong to want to be transported to the interiors of Harry Potter or Pride and Prejudice, sans all the characters and the battle for good or evil and someone to dance with stuff? Because they are both so quaint and hand made looking, even the light, that the closest I can get to that here is looking out the window or lying in my bed late at night. California in general is not particularly quaint and old-fashioned, but bits and pieces of it are, and they have stuck indelibly in my memory, like awesome dark chocolate mousse dusted with gold topped with fresh raspberries. Ugh.

Maybe it is my blood sugar level.

I also blame my glasses. The ones that finally broke a couple weeks ago that I haven't replaced. I wore my sunglasses for a while, but they made the cartilage of my ears sore. Now I am wearing my old glasses. The five year old glasses. That's right, these lenses are ready for school, and they're making me feel really light-headed, kind of like I'm floating. Not that I'm complaining (I think it could grow on me) but it does reduce my already floundering desire to stare at the screen all day labeling wall types, if you know what I mean. This may be a good fantasy time.

So brace yourself. I may spew something vaguely literary or poetic onto this blog soon.

I will be kind enough to use a cut.

Last night, I:

  • had yet another bowl of vegetable soup. Will it never end?
  • had a hot cider/rum and wrote 900 words (bad/good me)
  • really wanted to order pizza
  • ate half of a roast beef sandwich (that desperate) , courtesy of the office kitchen counter, then felt weird all evening. Don't think it was food poisoning, just beef. Bit like eating grasshoppers again after not doing it for six or seven years. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Have Been Knitting

I just have no proof at present.

Thanksgiving morning I knitted a simple garter stitch scarf for my sort-of mother-in-law out of this wonderful salmon/lavender/green novelty yarn. (Really! Aw, if I had a picture, you'd believe me!)

I also knitted two flower brooches with beaded centers. I have a little proof for this, since a couple postings back I showed a picture of the lavender brooch before blocking. Remember that? That actually became something.

And I am almost finished with the Bed Socks for my mom. Only 12" more to go!

No, actually, it's more like 4", which is well past the gusset. It's all down hill from there, folks, even though it's a rather long hill. Mom wears size tens. (Sorry, Mom, but it's true!)

So now all I have to knit is:
  1. yellow hat for a nephew
  2. mittens for Sibling #8
  3. black hat for Sibling #5
  4. red hat for Sibling #1
  5. something pink for a niece
  6. seaman's hat for Bob
  7. something for another niece, what was it she wanted?
  8. pink flower brooch for a transexual (don't ask)
  9. rusty brown alpaca cardigan for me
  10. Magic Stripe Toe-Up socks for me
  11. Gentleman's Shooting Socks for me
  12. black alpaca scarf for me
  13. black felted bag for me
  14. black hat for me
  15. mittens for me
  16. stuff for me! me! me!

I think this Selfless Knitting For Others thing that happens around the holidays may be getting to me somewhat. Did I say me? Yes, me. Me is desperate for some knitted goods all her own, but Me won't get any until #9, sometime April?

Today I:

  • had corn flakes with 1% milk for breakfast
  • didn't like it
  • imbibed two cups of coffee like someone who just doesn't care
  • had leftovers from yesterday's lunch and a banana for lunch

Yesterday, I:

  • had vegetable-lentil-rice soup for lunch, cold (Yay?)
  • whined about Art School until the only solution was a salmon burger with fries and an IPA at the Green Dragon
  • forgot to take photos of my WIPs

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bohemian Lifestyle

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

Today I:

  • had two pieces of toast with cream cheese and nutritional yeast and the usual cup of coffee
  • ordered a catalog from a local art school
  • am having terribly attractive fantasies about career and school change
  • am terrified by these terribly attractive fantasies
  • desperately want a fairie godmother

So here we are, once again, teeter-tottering over the issue of art vs. architecture. (This is what a long weekend does.)

I showed my boyfriend/partner/whatnot my high school art portfolio a couple weeks back and he had a fit. He'd never seen any artwork from me produced at a time when I had, well, lots of time. When I have the time, I actually have an imagination, and don't just replicate what's in front of me. This was a big shock to him. He said I should have gone the art school way instead.

Well, I say that every four months or so myself. He usually just takes a neutral stance when that happens. (His main concern is, of course, that I don't suddenly quit my job, unbalancing us both. Anything other than that is perfectly acceptable.)

It is not that I draw very often. I rarely draw. I paint maybe once every two years. (I have the unfinished canvases to prove it.) But some of that is because I don't have the time, or I should be reading about architecture or building a model instead. The problem is that I've always had a knack for it, no matter how long the break, and I especially have a knack for the Bohemian lifestyle.

Oh, do I miss my Bohemian lifestyle. I was very, very, very poor and unambitious, but I could do a Bohemian lifestyle extremely well. It was my element. I am adapting to the office lifestyle, but still, little things creep up, such as my hatred for all authority, my disdain for convention and unimaginativeness, and my desire to, I don't know, build things out of cardboard rather than verify fire egress routes. The aspects of work that I excel at are Lunch, Coffee Break, and Calculations (oddly enough). Mainly the things that have little to do with productivity. (I am currently the only person in the office who is capable, at the drop of a hat, of making any kind of espresso drink that strikes my fancy, and we don't even have an espresso maker.)

Maybe if I take the ambitiousness that got me into this pickle and applied it toward Art, I can stop filing, and get my Bohemian lifestyle back? Maybe then I could:

  • wear my pajamas for three days straight, because I am too busy to get dressed (this does happen with architecture school, I must admit)
  • take a day off, because I want to
  • read all day, because I want to
  • rise at dusk and go to bed at dawn, like a vampire, if I so choose
  • see a matinee during the work week
  • sit in a cafe all day and still technically be working
  • have such a good time that I make other people jealous of my Bohemian lifestyle

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday Night General Update

Today I:

  • ran out of coffee and bagels
  • had to have coffee with still warm croissants from the bakery on my block instead
  • had leftover pizza for lunch
  • am still hungry
  • have serious work angst
  • would rather be knitting than archiving construction admin. files from 2004, a job, I might add, that I was not hired to perform
  • had a soy latte, but that cannot cure the sickness that is the design profession
  • feel a little cynical

Last night I:

  • gorged on a thin crust pizza with a garlic white sauce, ricotta dollops, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and kalamata olives(not pictured here) and washed it down with some mineral water (healthy!)
  • only had one spoonful of chocolate fudge swirl Ben & Jerry's, because let's face it, more than that can floor you
  • finished a knitted brooch
  • accomplished very little otherwise, thanks to my cat, aka the Boneless Chicken

My cat has gone insane.

I crocheted him some catnip cat toys to distract him while I am knitting (or doing anything else that is not centered around him) but it isn't working. Sure, he loves his toys, but he loves meowing at the door, the cupboards, the window, the shelf, the underside of my chair, and the wall much, much more. By 10pm I was close to committing caticide. Not only could I get no knitting done, I couldn't write, either. That was making me want to climb the walls.

For those of you who don't know, I am trying to write a novel. I'm wedging it in between school, work, studying Chinese and living. It'll be done about ten years from now. But if this cat keeps it up, one of three things will happen:

1) he will die at my hands, and I will be too guilt-ridden to write,

2) I will allow the cat to live, but give up writing, and forever resent the stupid furball, or

3) the cat will somehow learn that I DO NOT LIKE THAT BEHAVIOR FOR FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT and kindly give it up.

I am about to go home from work. Antics are due to begin as soon as I arrive (he doesn't do this for Joe).

We will see which path we chose.


What sock?

NOTE: I have not assassinated my cat. We have called a truce. I tracked down his usual cat food and brought it home; he ate the cat food and only meowed at the walls and the door for about a half hour before falling alseep on my clean laundry.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Weekend Knitting Mayhem (or Why I Should Follow My Own Directives)

Today I:
  • had plain bagel with Tofutti "cream cheese" and nutritional yeast
  • drank a cup of organic Fair Trade coffee with vanilla soy milk
  • made myself a soy latte at work
  • reverted to bruchetta pizza and Kettle chips for lunch
  • had yet another coffee... from a box of coffee...

Whereas, yesterday I:

  • had an egg salad sandwich and a large latte for breakfast
  • had the last of the vegetable-noodle soup for dinner
  • ripped out close to 3,000 stitches
  • finished it all off with a beer and a hot buttered rum, and really, who could blame me?

Saturday began innocuously enough: I slept in, had soy lattes with Joe at his work, then made my weekly sacrifice to Windsor Button, and settled in at a coffeehouse to start a hat for my dad for X-mas.

Originally, my dad's hat was going to be Fair Isle. Then, what with the holiday knitting taking so long (I have 8 or 9 siblings), and my mom's socks being such a challenge (why didn't I just stockinette stitch some self-striping yarn? What was I thinking doing an openwork design?) I decided it might be prudent to nix that program and just make something classic and functional, like a seaman's hat. I found a good pattern, bought some black Lion Wool (cheap person that I am) and set to it. Two and half hours of coffee-drinking and some nachos and a couple DVDs later I had a hat. So easy! I just followed the instructions and all the faults were mine. (Luckily, they're minor.)

Side View

This hat is not purple - it's BLACK. It is very difficult to photograph black F.O.s at night in and dinky little apartment, especially when your model is determined to make monkey faces. I managed to edit most of that out, but I can do nothing whatsoever about the color.

Front View

I am rather pleased with the Seaman's Hat. I was going to make the Marsan Watchcap, (such a nice spiral decrease!) but in the photos it looked perhaps a little too loosely knit. My dad works in building maintenance and needs something suitable for wear in extremely foggy/damp weather. This seaman's hat pattern looked snugly knit, and as it turns out, has some very nice details, such as a continuation of the cuff ribbing on the underside and m1 twisted increases. I think I am going to make more, even though that may mean bestowing gifts upon those outside of the nuclear family. Maybe Bob. (Bob recently reported actually enjoying the fingerless gloves I mailed him.)

Which brings me to the serious act of frogging that was committed last tonight, grinding all knitting for the evening to a tragic halt.

It's the fingerless gloves with the mitten flip-tops that I'm making for Sibling #8. I started with the Broad Street Mittens from Knitty, but certain untoward reports about the shaping of the palm led me to actually seeing a couple pairs of them in person, confirming my growing suspicion of the pattern. I had learned (or so I thought) from making those fingerless gloves from Rowan #36 that I could not trust glove patterns to be sized properly - gloves that were supposed to fit the average-sized female hand, and were slightly downsized by me, are now being enjoyed by an averaged-sized man with notably wide palms.

What to do?

Well, after vowing to never faithfully follow a pattern again, I used the Knitting Fiend glove pattern generator to make my own. (I can trust the Knitting Fiend, right?)

As it turns out, not really. I entered my gauge, selected hand type "small", then printed out the directions and followed them. Nearly faithfully. This is what I had when it came time to make the fingers. Now, I know this is a blurry photograph, but I bet you an still see my problem quite clearly: THIS GLOVE IS FAR TOO BIG.

The gauge was correct. The problem, I surmise, is the idea of "small". Apparently, I am "extra small". Possibly even "extra extra small" or "itsy-bitsy".

I frogged down to the cuff and wrote home to Sibling #8 asking for exact measurements of her hands. I'll just start it from scratch. Again.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Please Stand By

Normal Crisis of Praxis updates have been temporarily suspended due to technical difficulties.
(Such as not having either a third arm or second head - I'm knitting!)
Regular posting will resume Monday afternoon.
Thank you for your patience.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm Relaxed! I am!

Today I:

  • had two slices of whole wheat toast with Tofutti "cream cheese" and nutritional yeast for breakfast
  • drank a cup of organic Fair Trade coffee
  • made a soy latte at work; feel much better now
  • walked to and from work... again, for the rest of my life, neverendingly...

Last night was one of the two nights week where I have the box (aka apartment, not TV) to myself. This is because my boyfriend/partner/whatnot (aka Joe) stays late at work. Do not pity him, however, for he is spending those hours doing one of three things: 1) reading in the office, 2) BS-ing with fellow students/co-workers, or 3) making a violin. Sometimes he even does 2 and 3 simultaneously. The result is he is a very productive student, can buy his own food, and gets a lot of reading done.

I envy his reading time. I was tagged on my journal for the last five books I've read and the results were disheartening and a tad... um... Embarrassing. (I won't go into what they were. Let's just say that I haven't been challenging myself very much, shall we, and leave it at that?) The reason my reading has been so schmaltzy lately is that to accomplish any serious reading I would need not only focus but a block of time without distractions. I don't often have that.

I was saying as much to Joe last night (Okay, maybe I was whining a little) and he suggested that I take the time while he was at work to truly Relax. (Whatever that is.)

Brilliant idea! As soon as he left, I started to Relax. I put on some music, took a hot shower, and donned my blue flannel pajamas. Then I sorted out the laundry, changed the sheets, made the bed, organized my closet, did the dishes, scoured the sink, made a large pot of vegetable-noodle soup and wrote two letters. Then I read two chapters of Knitting Harlot. (What else could I do? I was eating!)

I'm not actually a hyper or Type A person. Neither am I Type B. I'm more like the AB- personality type: cynical, generally easy going, yet frenetically industrious. For instance, knitting. To those unfamiliar with knitting, it may seem that a knitter is just someone sitting around, hanging out, not doing much. Enjoying leisure time. But in actuality, a knitter is performing an activity that sometimes leads to sports injuries and mental exhaustion.

I am actually lucky I am this laid back - it's genetic. My father is straight up hyper, On of Off like a switch, always talking. As a child he was given a carrot before bed and would carve it into a totem pole before falling asleep. As an adult he would come home from work and spend another six or more hours gardening, woodworking, etc. He is also a pack rat who actually uses all the stuff... Eventually. His grandfather and my mother's parents have taken such things to practically an artistic (possibly notorious) level. I would tell you about it right now, just to imagine your toes curling in disbelief, but there isn't time.

So instead I will tell you that last night, I:

  • ate a hard candy I found on the office kitchen counter (in a box!)
  • had vegetable-noodle soup for dinner with a glass of merlot
  • ate a banana
  • drank a Nantucket Nectar orange grapefruit mango drink
  • yearned for chocolate, but was too lazy to get dressed for the trek to the 24-hr bakery, alas!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Today I:

  • ate a plain bagel with Tofutti "cream cheese" and nutritional yeast for breakfast
  • chugged a cup of organic Fair Trade coffee, black
  • drank a cup of green tea, reticently
  • ate two lumps of dough covered in frosting, courtesy of anonymous person who left them on the office kitchen counter
  • had honey baked salmon with rice pilaf and salad for lunch

Yesterday, after I posted, I:

  • cracked and ate a sugar cookie, a bag of Cosi Kettle Chips, and a bag of very spicy BBQ Cape Cod chips (Made my lips burn. Serves me right) - all courtesy of the office kitchen counter
  • had a two egg omelet with Muenster cheese and a glass of merlot for dinner
  • had coffee with the works at the Stitch 'n Bitch meeting
  • did not exercise, except for the interminable walk to and from work

I've mentioned the fad bandwagon before in reference to pom-poms, but a map that people can register their location on! Oh, my. Do you know how difficult it is for me to track whoever reads this blog? All the guessing involved? With this map I may never have to guess again. I may even put this in my sidebar. Yes! That's what I will do! I am lame and can not add a button to my website (I think The Knitting Curmudgeon has a condescending little nickname for people like me, but I like her anyway.)

So there. I have no pride, I have no individuality, at least when it comes to stroking my ego with the idea that someone, somewhere, is reading this blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Slow Torture

Today I:

  • had one cup of organic Fair Trade coffee, black (out of soy milk)
  • ate a plain bagel with Tofutti "cream cheese" and nutritional yeast
  • devoured the remains of the hummus and carrots for lunch
  • am waiting avidly for the lunch remains to emerge from an afternoon meeting
  • am drinking mint tea
  • am hating mint tea passionately, as well as the guy who is supposed to keep the office stocked in green tea, but didn't
  • am probably not alone - office has a high ratio of Asian employees with conspicuous green tea habits
  • am thinking maybe I can corner my Chinese co-worker and see if he has a hidden stash?

Last night, I:

  • drank a glass of merlot
  • had the rest of the pesto pasta leftovers with marinara sauce
  • did not exercise, except for the usual trek home

I am not handling this healthy diet well. I feel like I am being slowly tortured. My intention is not to lose weight - I'm probably around 110 lbs., and if I lose any weight, I may blow right over the Summer Street Bridge into the Fort Point Channel. I just want to be in better general shape physically so that I can at least hold onto the handrail during fierce Nor'easters.

I need to plan this better. Hummus is not cutting it for lunch. Not that I had really intended to have hummus every day - it was just something I had in the fridge that was easy to bag at the last minute yesterday morning. Bagels are nice in the morning, but I'm hungry an hour later. And I walk immediately after breakfast (briskly), so something heavy is out. I would be one big ball of suffering stomach knot half way through the business district if I did that.

This might mean the dreaded C-word. You know the one:


I've decided against a fair Isle hat for my Dad for X-mas. I may be masochistic, but I am not quite crazy yet. Instead I'm going to make him this, in black or navy blue:

I am going to omit the mannequin, of course.

Tuesday Night Sock Update 4

I have a sock!

A funny looking sock, but it's still a sock. It looks better with a foot in it.

Ignore the hairy shin, look at the sock. Who knew I would be so clever as to make the ad hoc ribbing on the heel flap and sole match up exactly with the pattern of the toe? Certainly not me! Boy, am I pleased. It would probably photograph even better if it had the right size foot in it. (It's a little big for me.)

Whew! That sock took forever, no thanks to my sudden bouts of illiteracy. I reworked the decreases after the heel gussets six times because I simply couldn't understand the directions in front of me. When the correct procedure became clear at last I had to spend a couple seconds being dumbfounded. Where the hell did those sensible instructions come from?

I've decided my IQ drops about 40 points when I read knitting instructions, which is not good at all, considering all the math involved in altering patterns to fit. Let this be a warning to you all, and especially me.

So what shall be my reward for sticking with it 'til the end, despite all the emotional and intellectual ups and downs? Wine, dancing girls? Ice cream and other fatty, sugary foods? Nope. Trying to be "good", relatively speaking...

I know!

I can start the second sock.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Post-It Art

Today I :

  • got out of bed ten minutes early... that is, I didn't hit the snooze alarm
  • had one cup of organic Fair Trade coffee with vanilla soy milk
  • had a whole wheat bagel with Tofutti "cream cheese" and lox
  • had two cups of green tea at work
  • wish I hadn't brought carrots and hummus for lunch.

I brought my camera to work and snapped a shot of the Post-It portrait of Le Corbusier I and my co-worker did Friday for our studio party. He pixelated the photograph and gridded the black foamcore and I spent 5 hours putting up about 3200 Post-It notes. It was a big hit.

I wonder how it will look in my professional portfolio?

"Christine is extremely tenacious about office party decorations, no matter how seemingly frivolous, or how limited the palette and choices of easily recognizable celebrity architects."

Yesterday, after I posted about my bad, bad habits, I:

  • had another cup of coffee with the works, anyway,
  • had pesto-filled pasta with marinara sauce for dinner (and some cheese nips),
  • drank half a beer and 1/4 cup of egg nog (very good of me)
  • didn't exercise, unless you count the 25 minute walk home against rush hour traffic.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bad, Bad Habits

Today I:

  • ate a cup of Kellogg's Corn Flakes with whole milk for breakfast
  • have had three cups of coffee before 2pm, with the works (one was organic Fair Trade!)
  • ate bruchetta pizza and Kettle chips for lunch
  • had to wear a long-sleeve knit T-shirt to work because all my clean clothes are wrinkled.

Even though it is not quite New Year's I am determined today to make some resolutions to improve my behavior. Not that my behavior is necessarily really, really bad behavior, but it may actually deserve the double bad label (bad, bad behavior). Nothing too serious, just not at all good. (Maybe if I get specific this will start to make sense?)

I have gotten into the habit of browsing a blog called Ginchyworld. This in itself is not bad. However, the owner of this blog studies some field of nutrition that I can't remember how to spell right now, and she lists what she has for breakfast every morning on her blog. I admit that while I originally came to this particular blog because of knitting, I keep coming back for the breakfast posts. I simply must know if she has run out of apple juice and has switched to orange juice. This has gotten me thinking about my own daily eating habits. Add to that the presence of a vegan in my life again (courtesy of Stitch 'n Bitch) and you have one troubled sort-of-vegetarian. Maybe I should eat better.

Maybe I should also drink less, exercise more, clean my apartment more often and iron my clothing within the first week of it coming out of the wash, etc.

For now I think I'll simply focus on the nutritional/exercise aspect of my life. It may be difficult enough.

What do I propose?

Well, for starters, I will post what I eat. That may shame me into good behavior, if for no other reason than that my health-conscious grandmother is reading this blog. (Grandma: I was just kidding about drinking too much...hehe) I will also buy a container of soy milk to leave at work for my morning coffee(s) to lower my dairy product intake. And I will jog. I swear! No shit! Every other day. Really.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I got a free journal!...And I did some knitting, too

I went to the North End Stitch 'n Bitch knitting circle (meeting?) Wednesday night. Nothing really traumatic occurred, thank goodness, except that I revealed that I am an off-the-wagon-and-on-again-as-it-suits-me vegan/vegetarian.

Way back in 1999 I was vegan. I was passing through LA's Japanese neighborhood on my way to the East Coast and ran across a shop that sold mochi. (Have you ever had mochi? Basically it's a scoop of gelato without a cone or cup. Look it up.) They had green tea flavor, the memory of which knocked me down so hard off the back of that wagon that I went ahead and had the red bean, too. I was pretty good about being a lacto-vegetarian from then on... for a while. School got very stressful and I noticed there was sushi place nearby. I thought to myself: "I bet they have green tea ice cream." I needed comfort food (and lots of saki). But of course I couldn't just have a side order of green tea ice cream and a bottle of saki to go from a ritzy Japanese restaurant - I needed a plan. Maybe if I had some food first, then dessert, they wouldn't think I was some deadbeat student like everyone else in the place. So I cleverly ordered the 18-piece sushi/maki platter with a miso soup starter to throw them off my trail. (What was I supposed to do? I was hungry!)

So what do you call it when you eat eggs, dairy products, seafood, and every four months or so totally binge by eating a whole package of bacon (cooked) by yourself, without hashbrowns or eggs , or even toast?

Wait, I don't want to know.

I met several people at the Stitch 'n Bitch meeting from the neighborhood that I, of course, had quite typically never seen before in my life. (Philly taught me to never, ever make eye contact on the street if I could help it.) I will mention one in particular, a woman named Mara, because I scored blank journal off of her. Apparently she is a graduate of the North Bennett Street School Bookbinding Department and had about half a dozen pieces of student work cluttering up her abode that she needed to purge herself off. I was only too glad to help. (All that time playing the card game "War" when I was a teenager has finally paid off.)

I am a big fan of this color red.
Not that I use journals that much, though.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Boxed Art

I went to the Stitch 'n Bitch knitting circle tonight, but I'm not going to write about it just yet. Instead I'm going to show you some art.

I was digging through some boxes of papers last night in my eternal quest for substantiating my financial aid spending when I came across several pieces of artwork. Some of them are abandoned projects, but others were sketches I thought I'd lost last year before the move to Boston.

This is a corner of an unfinished drawing in colored pencils on pastel paper. It's actually about and inch wide. It is, of course, my cat at his most charming: asleep.

Another unfinished drawing. My dad asked me to draw this. It's him, his common-law wife and Sibling #6. Sibling #6 is now sixteen so you can see I've been procrastinating on this one for a while. I'm thinking of asking my grandma to get all the other colored pencil drawings I've done for my dad photocopied so that I can show them, too.

The problem with the drawing was proportion. I was forced to erase my sister's head, and erasing usually spells the end of a drawing in my book unless I'm in a particularly determined mood. Ever since I was a thirteen I've had this thing about not erasing. I hate it. I just start over. (This may explain a little bit of my general uptightness at times.)

I thought I'd lost the next drawing. It's a sketch of my boyfriend when I first met him five years ago in Philly. We were housemates and used to sit up late at night in one of the house's kitchens drinking green tea. You can see a plastic coffee filter holder hanging behind him and a line around his head that I refused to erase. The sketched area is about three and a half inches by five. I was using a mechanical pencil on linen resume paper that I have never in my life used for actual resumes. It took me about a half hour to draw.

During one of those caffeinated evenings I did a drawing my feet to give to him. It's in colored pencils on a paper bag, and it took me about fifteen minutes. The time factor was important because I was trying to impress him. In my more neurotic moments I do this, but it's usually a portrait of whomever I am trying to impress. It's an effective introduction, but people generally have only two reactions to this kind of thing unless I'm especially charming that day: they're either highly disconcerted or turned on. When I actually intended it as a kind of pick-up I found it disconcertingly effective, so I don't do it anymore. As a result I have tons of sketchbooks filled with people I have secretly drawn and never spoken to and a rather empty social register.

And then there's this! This is me. Felt pen on vellum, about 3 inches square.

Tuesday Night Sock Update 3

So it's another Tuesday night and I'm STILL making socks! What were the odds?

Pretty good, as a matter of fact. I was stuck on the heel of the Bed Socks all weekend. It's been years since I'd knitted a sock, so it took me a little while to realize I HAD NEVER DONE SHORT ROWS BEFORE IN MY LIFE.

I was gobsmacked with shock. How had I made socks before?

I ripped out my failed attempt at short rows and thought about it. I'd made socks maybe four, five years ago. It wasn't from a book I owned, because I would still have it, and the only book I've possessed for more than a year with sock instructions in it I'm fairly certain I've never really make socks from. (It's an Argyle pattern. I didn't finish them.) It wasn't an internet pattern. Did I just make it up as I went?

Judging by my other early knitting projects, I'm afraid the answer to that is YES. I knew how to knit, purl, decrease and increase back then. I must have been putting the sock on my foot every couple minutes to figure out if I needed another yo or not.

That first sock must have taken me a while. Wish I still had it - it would be like archeological evidence of the reinvention of the wheel, only in sock heel knitting.

I did finally get a handle on short rows Sunday night (after much panicking and heavy breathing). Continuing the Bed Sock pattern through the heel and onto the sole was making me crazy on my first short row attempt, so I ripped that out and merrily knitted up a Dutch heel with 3x3 ribbing. It looks a little weird, I admit, but I thought stocking stitch for the heel and sole after all that openwork would be too much of a contrast.

When I finished the heel and started on the gusset I got a euphoric rush that was not unlike that experienced when eating expensive Belgium chocolate or say, being given $100 credit at a yarn shop. It felt like I was going to be k3togging my way through the leg forever, and I was finally free! Free!

I'm not really concerned about ruining the mystery behind this X-mas gift by posting photos of it since I'm fairly certain my mom has never thought to visit this blog. I asked Sibling #7 if our mother even realizes I'm making her TV socks, and she said she told her, and the action was approved of in what I interpret to be (as much as one can interpret these things through email) an extremely nonchalant manner. Hmmm. Must ask Sibling #7 if she clearly stressed that I'm making knitted socks. (Perhaps I am knitting for the wrong audience. Grandma, do you want hand-knit TV socks?)

You may notice when reading this blog (as opposed to just breezing through, looking at the pictures! That's right, I'm onto you!) that I sometimes make references to primitive conditions, nature, and livestock. This is not because I am interested in cultural anthropology. It is that ever vigilant (and surprisingly widespread) psychological disease, Rural Nostalgia.

Rural Nostalgia comes in many forms and strengths, the most publicized form being Urbanis Relocatis, wherein seemingly "normal" people (such as New York stockbrokers) astonish their wife and kids by suddenly liquidating all their worldly assets to breed llamas, or grow squash, or some other such occupation they read about in a book, miles and miles away from a descent sushi bar. Ruralis Regressivis (which is more along along the line of what I suffer from) is usually quite innocuous, resulting in much whining and many calls home to Iowa to ask how the barn roof weathered some minor storm.

In my case the symptoms rival my chronic sinitus. Do I feel ill because of the level of particulate matter in the air today, or is it my yearning for wet socks and a long walk home, uphill along a soft shoulder littered with pine cones? Is the ventilation really so poor in underground subway platforms that I feel nauseous, or is it just a premonition that my dad is procrastinating about "making wood" this year? Dammit, he knows it should be done by the rainy season, not during!

Where did I contract this terrible illness?

I contracted it at birth. I'm from Mendocino County, California.

Ah, you say, I see the problem. Redwoods and quaint clapboard houses and a thermometer that rarely dips to freezing. Ocean views and lots of live jazz and raggedy artists painting blue whales. Headlands covered in wildflowers and sea grass and nights where you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

Oh, man, why did I move?

Oh, yeah! I remember now: I was related to half the town, and the other half I knew everything about anyway. Nothing like knowing someone's dating history and income before you even meet them. And there isn't an architecture school in Mendocino County, California.

Maybe my allergy to city air is just a subconscious ploy on my part to rationalize moving to the country? In the meantime, I'll be comforted that I have managed to move to a place that gets overcast and foggy - just like home - although it is somewhat more frigid here at this time of year.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Going Full-On K.I.P

I have a time, I have a place, I have a knitting circle. This is as astonishing to me as ironing with an ironing board (so much easier! No, really! It is!) or when the apartment heat turned on (the day we moved in, sometime this past summer). Perhaps I have not been entirely spoiled by life and still have some venues to explore with bright-eyed, child-like amazement.

Or maybe I am so underprivileged that I don't take so-called "typical" things for granted. I used to think about that back when I lived in a former chicken-hatchery in my father's back yard, propping my furniture up on bricks so that the rain leaking in through the half-constructed South wall wouldn't cause irrevocable damage. (This was when my yen for construction really kicked in, full throttle.) I used to dream of getting a good wood pile nearby, rather than all the way across the yard, in the field. (Yard= 1.5 acre) Dream of the day I would have a lock so reliable that the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig couldn't break in and root through my clothes while I was out.

Oh, the Good 'ol Days before city living spoiled me, when interpersonal relationships were complex and mind-boggling ("What was your maternal grandmother's maiden name? No, sorry, we can't date: you're my fourth cousin, twice removed. Too risky.") and economics really quite simple .

Had a really excellent chocolate mousse and hot chocolate at an Italian cafe down the street from my apartment last night. Next time I'm having a fruit-infused grappa.

What am I going to wear? It's directly after work, so I might be wearing something like I'm sporting today - knee high black boots, a black cashmere pullover, gray cat-eye glasses, gray skirt, my hair out to my shoulders (big tousled poof) - in essence, the uniform of a slutty librarian. * Ye gods. Must do laundry tonight and think hard.

*I take that back. I dress like a Beatnik librarian. But what's a person to do? Black matches everything!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I am so fancy free!

I spent some time this afternoon tearing apart my Homespun hat. I am not a huge fan of Lion Brand Homespun. I'm actually a natural fiber kind of girl, it keeps my knitting regular. But I am also a sucker for a deal. As a result, I have what I consider an enormous load of Homespun (3 or 4 balls). Obviously quick winter hat and scarf material, no problem to knit up quickly.

Going backwards, however, is another matter. What a mess! I was afraid for a while that I was actually just destroying my hat, not improving it. After many close-calls I got to this happy point:

No, this isn't a sea anemone. It's my hat during pin-up. The brim is supposed to be tighter than the crown, resulting in a bit of struggle that reminded me of all the reasons I prefer a continuous pattern, without sewing.

I did manage to turn the sewing to my advantage, though. I didn't want to use the Homespun because of the bulk (and it also gets lost in it all), so I raided my needlepointing stash and came up with this: Notice how the X-stitching gives an air of rusticated whimsy to the hat? It embraces the Holly Hobby crafter in all of us with its naivete, while simultaneously complimenting the pink/purple of the nut button? I planned that. Really. It wasn't that I was desperate to mask a botched seam job, thereby salvaging my work. I'm actually all about whimsy. Everybody knows that. For instance, my apartment - it is FULL of whimsy. See!
My Side of the Kitchen Notice the jaunty angle of the model I have suspended from the wall? I could have made that straight, but instead I chose a whimsical, offbeat angle to add interest to the space. And of course everybody knows making your furniture out of cardboard is the epitome of whimsicality. I would have done it even if I hadn't been required to make it at school.
By the Window Notice the brightly colored, plaid tablecloth? Whimsy. So are the coordinating pots on the windowsill (which also match the teapot). That just happened that way. The carefully aligned Maxfield Parish calendar is oh so whimsical as well. And I use a drafting table as a kitchen table. Obviously a random choice. I thought it would be quaint.

Convinced? Good. Now I'm going to go iron my clothes. Not because I need to, I just happen to feel like it right now. I might change my mind at any moment, without notice. Maybe I'll even wear the hat.

Note: hat pattern is from Rowan #36.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Other Me

Recently I've noticed that even though I spend most of my money and time on architecture, I rarely discuss it, much less mention it. Like many Modern people, I am unconsciously compartmentalizing my life. I may as well complete it.

I now have a diary blog, a craft blog, and a student blog.

This blog (the "craft blog") seems to be my Fun Page, or Pleasure Palace. The "diary blog" is where I whine and complain and generally come off as a miserable human being. The "student blog" is the stuff I'm actually thinking about, in depth. My intellectual side, I suppose. (So Freudian, isn't it?) I'm calling it The Seven Year Stretch. (That's the length of my bachelor of architecture program.)

Enjoy - I dare you.

Do I have what it takes for STITCH 'N' BITCH, BOSTON?

And why are there suddenly Stitch 'n' Bitch knitting circles everywhere?

OK, maybe it's not sudden, just sudden to me. I don't get out much, at least, not in that way. So it seems really out of the blue. That's kind of why I am trying to join some Boston knitting circle.

I actually went to one sort of a couple times. I don't even know what circle it was, but I know a couple people in it, so I went. I wasn't invited, but I was given the time and directions when I asked. Maybe that was why I felt so weird; I had to approach them. I was very nervous and hardly said two words, which is rather unlike me. I'd also made a point of dressing down and then felt unstylish. Soem of the women were nice - there were also a couple guys - but some were also very catty. Maybe I'm just imagining that, but when I went back the second time, the knitting circle wasn't there. Later I learned that it had been relocated to someone's house because they couldn't find a babysitter. The people I knew in the circle didn't think to tell me. Didn't seem like much of a red carpet for a new member so I never went again.

I'm not actually a social pariah. I bathe, I brush my teeth, even my hair sometimes. I don't get followed by security guards. At least, only in CVS. (Must be the big knitting bag. Obviously, I'm up to something.) People don't cross to the other side of the street when they see me coming and the laughter around me is not at me, as far as I can tell.

But meeting people stresses me out. This is because of so many years in so many different California public schools. Reinventing yourself after every move so that you will be liked and can build friendship bases every couple months can be very emotionally exhausting. After the sixth or so time, I gave up. Not bothering has been working well for me so far and when I try to be liked it seems really neurotic and weird. There's some part of me that screams the whole time that it's all smoke and mirrors, a pretense, a disguise, and I hate that.

So maybe I'll have what it takes for the Boston chapter of Stitch 'n' Bitch. Maybe my palms won't sweat and I won't accidentally say something offensive and sincere. Maybe they'll like me despite all that. Maybe it'll be walking distance from my apartment. But probably not.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Winter of My Discontent

Now that the cold weather is encroaching I am getting an opportunity to try out my small F.O.'s. It is very educational. In my previous incarnation as a knitter/crocheter, I mostly made things that were generally One Size Fits All - scarves, hats, snoods, etc. Hard to go wrong there. But now?

My fingerless gloves are too big. The distance between the fingers and the thumb is alright, but even though I did a gauge swatch and used smaller needles, the width of the gloves are 1" more than my hands. This is without stretching them, even. "What went wrong?" I cried, then thought about it. It seems to me that the essential problem was that I quite faithfully followed the instructions. The pattern was for average-sized hands. I am not average-sized - I am child-sized. I should never, ever, follow instructions faithfully again. The gloves are a wash. Off they go to Bob, who has kindly agreed to accept them in lieu of the black fingerless gloves I was going to make him. Now I have no gloves, just a tiny ball of mossy green yarn to stare at through the mesh door of my Stash Isolation Center.

The Stash Isolation Center houses poor, misunderstood balls of yarn who have had the misfortune of falling under the influence of an angora cat named Jameson. For their own safety (and society's sake - 'society' being the occupants of this apartment) their wandering rights have been revoked. They will remain in isolation until said cat forgets about them, whereupon they will be given a brief probation period on the kitchen table, next to the computer, or in my knitting bag. If they last through the day without untoward incidents they will be considered safe to roam. Unfortunately, said cat is very precocious (he has opposing thumbs) and has excellent taste in yarn (alpaca and 100% merino wool being his favorite), so the probation period is often cut very short, and the poor, mauled yarn is returned to the cage - I mean, Center.

The gloves are not the only F.O.'s receiving my scorn. I may rework the brim of my Homespun hat. It was designed with an overlap where the button is attached, but in Homespun it is simply too much. I think I'm going to take it off and re-knit it with just a simple seam next to the button.

I have also been having nasty thoughts about the scarf I just knit for my boyfriend. He loves it, but it really should be a knit tube, sewn together at the ends. Better protection against Nor'easters, and there wouldn't be a wrong side to it. Maybe I should buy the yarn and secretly knit it the way I think it should be. When I'm done I could wait until he falls asleep and replace it like some kind of Tooth Fairy for bad finished objects. Then I could frog the original scarf and make him mittens. Doesn't that sound good? Do you think he'd notice?


Should I make a lace shawl? Wouldn't that get too tangled in my bag on the subway?

I must make another pair of Swedish socks! Er... I take that back...I must make these!

I am determined to make this bag for school. The BIG one. In black.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tuesday Night Sock Update 2

First of all, I'd like to thank those knitters who have been posting such supportive comments.

Thanks, ladies!

I suppose that's what a peer group is like, idealistically speaking. I'm used to that just being me, and lately, my boyfriend, who of course thinks nearly everything I do is perfection defined. (Perhaps that is why he dates me?)

Not much progress has been made this week in the area of socks. In fact, my Gentleman's Shooting Socks have been put on hold - literally.

As you can see by the wedge in the pattern, I am sticking to the shaped leg. I hate bulky ankles socks, despite spending most of my childhood in the '80's. (The fuzzy white balls are courtesy of my cat.) As much as I love these socks, they are being pushed aside so that I can try to meet my X-mas knitting deadline. As soon as those projects are done I can return to selfish projects, such as the rusty brown alpaca cardigan sitting at the bottom of my knitting bag. *sigh*

Feedback from silent siblings has finally arrived. Sibling #8 has approved a mitten pattern, and Sibling #1 has given me color options. (Did I mention I'm making stuff for her kids, too? Well, at least she knows it's not really about the X-mas deadline, rather a manic knitting giveaway.)

I chose the pattern for my Mom's TV socks. I'm not making her purely functional socks because I can't imagine her wearing handknit socks out of the house unless it is late at night and she's out of toilet paper. If they're not 'normal' socks, they don't have to meet any strict standards, and she may be convinced to even wear them. (Maybe I should have just made her a scarf?)

Anyway, I'm making her the Victorian Bed Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. So far I haven't strayed from the pattern, but I am considering whether I really should continue the pattern along the sole or if I should make it a 'normal' sole in case she really surprises me and wants to wear them with shoes out and about where other people will see them. You never know; she's surpised me on things before.
Knitting these socks has been fairly easy so far. I say 'fairly' because I didn't read the instructions before starting them and therefore had no idea that I would be struggling every 4th row with a repeat involving 'K3tog'. Ugh. I'm using US #2 needles and I knit TIGHTLY. What I really need is some US #2 Afghan knitting needles that are double pointed. I am actually having to keep a crochet hook on standby when I work on this sock for the inevitable slipping of the stitches off the needles altogether.

Tag! I'm It.

There has been some kind of ethernet miracle and I can now access my blog again. It has been one harrowing day. You see, I've been tagged by Elaine, and I"VE BEEN WAITING ALL DAY TO POST.

Here we go!

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?

Do you mean just one? How could I pick just one? Well, maybe if I was stranded on a desert island where a huge shipping freighter had mysteriously washed ashore in the night, full of four tons of one kind of yarn, what would I want it to be?

I'm not going to say hemp twine, because although I could make tons of hammocks with it (oooh, and netting... ropes... SHOES), it's not what I actually prefer. No, I'd say that after the initial excitement (wherein I am rolling around in piles and piles of yarn wearing nothing but a grass skirt and a woven palm fiber halter top) I'd find it's alpaca yarn. Just about any brand or weight will do. Then I would nearly faint into it and lie there in a euphoric stupor for days upon days. (Well, until I had to pee. But I'd take some skeins with me.)

Your favorite needles?

My US #8 bamboo dpns; they are the only ones I protect from cat maulings.

The worst thing you've ever knit or crocheted?

Just one thing? That's as tough as choosing a favorite yarn...

Well, I suppose my first pair of socks would be the worst thing I've ever knitted. The yarn was frogged from a burgundy acrylic sweater, and my needles were actually sharpened shish-kabob sticks. It knitted up fine, but I was never happy with how they bagged around my ankles, and the heel flap wore out too fast. I was always darning it. They have long since gone to the Land Where Hopeless Knitting Projects Go: the local landfill.

I've already mentioned the worst thing I have ever crochetted: The World's Ugliest Afghan. (Which, by the way, I need to soak in borax and wash for the upcoming hibernation.)

Your most favorite knit or crochet pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it, but it was the most fun to knit)

Uh... Fun? Do you mean 'do a keg-stand and throw up all night' kind of Fun or 'everybody thinks I'm crazy for making this thing, but I would do it again, dammit' kind of Fun?

If we're looking for something in-between (rather easy, even if it looks difficult; no vomiting involved, but maybe a little too much red wine imbibing) I'd say crocheting snoods from my own patterns.

Most valuable knitting technique?

Whaddyacallit - weaving/carrying yarn strands across the wrong side of my work as I go. It's not just for colorwork, it's Fun.

Best knit book or magazine?

I am getting far too excited for my own good, every night, over Knitting Vintage Socks. It may have to be taken away from me.

Your favorite knit-a-long?

Never done one.

Your favorite knitblogs?

Crazy Aunt Purl. Not a whole lot of knitting going on but she consistantly makes me laugh. Not AT her, even though she is constantly portraying herself as a pathetic, multiple-cat-owning soon-to-be-divorcee. She isn't pathetic: she's hillarious.

Your favorite knitwear designer?

Kim Hargraves, hands down. Or up. Whatever.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)

My new Homespun hat, because I'M ALREADY TOO COLD.

Am I supposed to tag others as well? Hmmm... I don't know how to do that! Nevertheless, I have convinced Eejayya to take the Tag Challenge... As soon as she gets home.


You'll just have to wait until tonight. I don't keep my socks at work.