Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another Episode

Brief.
Click on "Read more! Maybe." to see it.
Enjoy.

Gladys pressed the button for Number 4.

“Yes?” came a man’s voice through the tiny speaker by the door.

“Hello. Good morning. Is Karen there?”

“Who?”

“Or maybe Kathy,” Gladys added uncertainly.

“I think you’ve got he wrong apartment,” the man said gruffly.

“Oh. I’m terribly sorry. Thank you,” Gladys said.

Gladys pressed the button for Number 5 and waited. Receiving no reply, she pressed the button a couple more times until she was satisfied that there was no one home. You never knew: sometimes people slept in on Sundays.

She moved on to Number 6.

“Who is it?” asked a woman’s voice apprehensively.

“Gladys.”

“Gladys?” the woman exclaimed. “How did you find my apartment?”

Finally! Gladys thought, heaving a sigh of relief. There were only a couple of houses on the block left. Once they were exhausted she didn’t know what she would do.

Well, that wasn’t quite true. She was pretty certain that if it came down to it she would grab a cup of coffee to warm up and try the vacancies again in an hour or two.

It wasn’t easy being a knitter.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said,” Gladys said, which was somewhat of an understatement. Gladys had been up all night, tortured by the knowledge that the yarn that she had pursued for years as vigilantly as Jason had pursued the Golden Fleece was not only in the same city as her, but in the same neighborhood. “I’d like to take you up on that offer of a trade. Can I come up?”

“How did you know I live here?” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen asked anxiously.

“I asked around,” Gladys said simply, hoping to leave it at that.

“I didn’t think I was that well-known.”

“Oh, well, you’re not,” Gladys said. “I described your hat.”

“My hat?”

“It’s rather cold out here,” Gladys said hastily. “Shall I come up and we can discuss the trade?”

“Oh. Well. I wasn’t really expecting anybody,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said. “The place is a mess. I don’t suppose we could do this some other time?”

“I little mess doesn’t bother me. I live with a teenager,” Gladys said.

“Oh,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said flatly.

“Are you going to buzz me in?”

“To tell you the truth, Gladys, this really isn’t a very good time for me,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said in low voice, as if confiding a secret. “You see, I’m not alone up here.”

“Oh!” Gladys was surprised. But then, why should she be? Kathy – or was it Karen? – was a healthy young woman, and these days it wasn’t uncommon to entertain gentlemen at home. Even if it did seem cheap. “Why didn’t you just say so? Well, I guess I could come back later. When do you think you’ll be…um… free?”

“It’s hard to say. How about I give you a call?”

“Sure, sure! That would be fine. When?”

“Soon,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said. “I better go now. Bye!”

“Tonight?” Gladys asked anxiously, but there was no reply.

She sighed, her breath puffing out before her like a cloud in the icy air. Maybe she would grab that cup of coffee now.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen watched anxiously from behind a curtain until Gladys had disappeared out of sight. She was still stunned that the old woman had found her. And through her hat!

She strode over the jumble of clothes by the bags of yarn she had slept on and picked up the offending hat. It was her favorite hat. It was of the finest merino wool, in a beautiful red-gold colorway.

“I need to make a new hat,” she said to the presence above the fridge. “Something without animal ears.”

For the next episode, click here.
To read the previous episode, click here.
To go to the Index, click here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Today I:

  • had a croissant and coffee for breakfast again
  • scored two chocolate hazelnut cake rolls
  • am having fruit salad, half a scone, and what I think might be an almond croissant for lunch, courtesy of the OKC

I finished knitting the left front of the Vintage Raglan Cargidan last night. This is where it is revealed to you all (assuming you don't know already) that I am a hopelessly anal retentive knitter. (In the common usage sense.) I am, in all likelihood, pre-blocking this cardigan.

This yarn requires a bit of taming, i.e. pre-blocking blocking. There was an internal struggle over whether the button flap should be blocked flat or folded, and as you can see, folded won out because of the angle created by the future V-neck. I also cut the inside of the pocket loose so that I can sew it back on after the pre-blocking.

What to do with a free weekend

Usually, when I am knitting, my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot talks to me. Or rather, he soliloquizes. This isn't a bad thing. It makes him feel like he is spending quality time with me and is being listened to by a sympathetic audience. Of course, we both know that I am not really listening: I am knitting.

Last night I realized there was something I'd been missing all week. I knew he was going to Philly this weekend, but for some reason, I thought it was on Saturday. It turns out he is actually leaving today. As in, about fifteen minutes after I left for work. (He made sure to buy me cake before leaving. If I were someone else, and he was someone else, I'd think he's about to rendevous with his mistrees and is feeling guilty.) He won't be back until Sunday night, maybe Monday morning. If you add up all the days we have been apart during the five and a half years we have been together you get about a week and a half. Maybe. He always calls me and hates to go, etc.

But I have another take on it.

This is a rare opportunity. I have the "bed" to myself. For two, possibly three, nights. I can use the bathroom in the morning. I could spend all day in a coffeehouse and not worry that he will be waiting for me at home. I could knit and write all day without interruptions - spread my knitting stuff all over the kitchen table without any consideration whatsoever for anyone else's claim to surface space. It is, in truth, a couple days of unexpected freedom!

Except, of course, that I will be waiting around for him to call, because if he can't reach me, he'd worry. And so would I. Because, let's face it - he's going to Philly.

Last night, I:

  • had a panini, a bag of chips, and a soy latte at the coffeehouse
  • knit
  • knit some more

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pie Charts

Today I:

  • had a croissant and a coffee for breakfast
  • am about to have a banana for Second Breakfast
  • am so bored and photoless that I am going to talk to you about genealogy

There isn't much to show on the yarn front lately, other than W.I.I.'S *, so I was digging through my file of pictures and found this chart I whipped up a couple months back to explain my ethnicities to someone.

My family is big into genealogy. (We do not, however, believe in eugenics.) I think our interest in our background stems from 1) trying to find something interesting to do in a small town, and 2) needing to know who you can an can not do that something interesting with in said small town because of issues of inbreeding.

From an early age I knew what surnames were linked to my own in my home town, and there were a lot of them. Some were only by marriage, but you could never be too careful. There was, for instance, the case of the two sisters and brother who lived next to the two brother and one sister who all married each other. Branches of that family tree that began before this intermarriage might be safe, but it certainly isn't afterwards, however you look at it. And yes, I know what a third cousin twice removed is, etc. I wouldn't date one if I was you.

As a result, I am very quick with a pie chart. (I am also an ace at family trees, since I have nine siblings from five marriages.) The complexity of my pie chart can be explained in very simple manner:

My dad's family came over from England around 1642 or so (depending on which line you're looking at), and stayed very English for a long time. Then all hell broke loose when someone decided that Massachusetts was becoming too much of police state back in the late 1800's and decided to move west. From there, my family dropped the Colonial snobbishness, and married whomever they pleased, English or not.

The break away from Englishness came in with my great-grandmother, Lolabelle Hubert. Her father was Scottish, and her mother was French and Cree, via Canada. She's where I got my brown eyes and my crooked index fingers. From what I can tell, my slightly off-color sense of humor, too. She told me joke when I was eighteen that scandalized me.

The Finns came at us from all directions, usually by boat. I am descended from fishermen who didn't want to be drafted into the Russian army for service in the Crimean War. They came to America and eventually married Russians. Go figure.

And the Russians? You remember hearing something about the Russian Revolution? Well, the Russian side of my family heard about it, too: it was coming in their front door.

Hello, California.

The more recent generations in my family have been breaking through the European/Native American barrier, which makes the pie chart skills even handier. For some reason, in California, if you're not obviously of European descent, you're Mexican. Natalie told me a story a couple years ago about how at school some kids pulled her aside to act as a translator. A Spanish translator. She got to explain to them that she did not, in fact, know any more Spanish than them, because she was actually a Eurasian American.

Pie charts! Pie charts and graphs.

Last night, I:

  • had a panini, a bag of chips, and a soy latte for dinner
  • ate some corn chips with olive dip
  • knit, knit, knit
  • finished reading The Mystery of the Yellow Room

* Works In Imagination

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Practically Invisible Pocket

Today I:
  • had a fresh, hot croissant with a cup of coffee for breakfast
  • ate a banana for Second Breakfast
  • am having a Vending Machine lunch

With the assistance of Jeanette (who took the role of Enabler) I was able to cast on the Katia Fanny Cardigan from the Elann website last night. Unfortunately, because I had not read ahead, I was unprepared for when the pattern struck. I was also unwilling to trek all the way home, leaving behind half a panini and a soy latte, for the sake of one cable needle. The pattern is postponed, and I have only what you see below. The color is fairly accurate.

Fortunately, I am a quick eater. But I am also fickle. When I got home I did not look for my cable needle. Instead, I did this:
I knit more on the Vintage Raglan Cardigan and seamed the pocket. And look! The pocket is practically invisible!

I don't know why this pleases me so much, but it does. I have been a bit of a grumpy blogger lately - the no hot water thing is starting to really bother me, and I'm not making the transition from Winter to Summer very well - but there is still that strange, inexplicable ray of sunshine that is the practically invisible pocket. Who knew?

Last night, I:
  • had a panini, a bag of chips, and a soy latte for dinner at the coffeehouse
  • drank a soy white Russian
  • thought about plotting
  • read some more of The Mystery of the Yellow Room

What do you think of the name Henry Kitteridge? Because he has the bag of yarn.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Not to get too poly-sci on you, but progress is slow

Today I:

  • had some corn chips and olive dip for breakfast with very strong coffee
  • am eating two bean and rice burritos for lunch
  • don't have much to show for myself

Vintage Raglan Cardigan Progress

I actually have two sleeve cuffs and 1/4 of a sleeve, but I am easily distracted, so here's picture of the left front panel that I started Saturday. I am very proud of it. It has a pocket!
The pocket is made by knitting a 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) square, leaving it on a stitch holder (in my case, a swizzle stick) and then picking those stitches up later once the front is about 5" long, working from the bottom up.

This leaves live stitches on the front of the panel for knitting the ribbing. Through some kind of miracle of yarn, my ribbing matches the color and thickness of the yarn behind it.

Wasn't that exciting? Despite these highlights, this project already feels like it is taking forever. I think I have been spoiled by the quickie projects I've been doing lately. I am tempted about four or five times a day to cast something new on.

Last night, I:

  • had a laundry date
  • ate an eggplant parmesan sub with an Italian beer while doing laundry
  • read some more of The Mystery of the Yellow Room (free e-book version link on my sidebar)


Ever bend over to pick something up and get this weird feeling that something has just jumped on you and is clinging on for dear life? While purring?

No? Then maybe you should meet my cat.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rat Cat Toy

Today I:
  • had a cup of applesauce for breakfast with coffee
  • woke up an hour early because of my disfunctional alarm clock
  • am having leftover Chinese food for lunch
  • am being made crazy by Blogger

Blogger is not allowing my to compulsively edit my posts for typos. As a result, there are rampant typos and even an extra word in this Sunday's episode. I can not express how this makes me feel. Imagine me having to evacuate from work with four hundred other people at 10 am this morning, without a coat, because of a fire alarm, thinking the whole time, "Damn that Blogger! Grrr!", and you might get a bit of an idea of how aggravated it makes me.

In Other News

I crocheted this catnip-filled, long-tail rat last night, thinking that a new toy would distract that attention-monger I call a cat from me long enough to get some writing done before dawn.

That was a silly idea. While I was very pleased with myself for whipping the toy up, I had somehow forgotten that while Jamieson sometimes plays by himself, he is actually the kind of cat that requires someone to move their toy for them. My boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot and I spent a considerable amount of time last night taking turns swinging this rat around. If we stopped, Jamieson would yowl at the wall, or try to climb our backs, or hung about under our chair in a pitiful manner.

I thought I was so clever.

Last night, I:

  • went out for Chinese food
  • had a "chocolate roll" fro ma Chinese bakery for dessert
  • played with the cat
  • drank some wine
  • played with the cat
  • finished another episode!
  • played with the cat

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This just in

Despite much whining on my part (and the cat's) I have another installment for you. It would have made it in by midnight if it wasn't for all my commas and quotations suddenly turning to code. !@#@$!

Nevertheless, I hope you like it. Click on "Read more! Maybe" below to read it.


Enjoy!

"Have you tried the hair of the dog?" Ivy asked.

"What?" Ann asked, opening her eyes in surprise.

That was a mistake. The sun was shining through the sheer curtains in her bedroom window with what could almost be called a spiteful cheerfulness. She clutched the telephone receiver and retreated under the blankets. Nasty, evil light! Wasn't it enough that her head felt like someone had mistaken it for a tambourine, and that she had a taste in her mouth that, come to think of it, wasn't very far removed from dog hair?

"The 'hair of the dog that bit you'," Ivy explained. "Maybe another drink would help. Do you have any alcohol in your apartment?"

Ann was relieved. The thought of having another drink was only marginally more appealing than the dog hair, but at least it was sanitary. "I've got half a bottle of zinfandel on the fridge door," Ann ventured. "Would that work?"

After a moment of thoughtful (or, quite possibly, appalled) silence, Ivy said, "Um... Probably not. Do you have bananas? Aspirin?"

"No bananas. I've got some acetametaphin in the bathroom," Ann said, but she lacked enthusiasm. The bathroom was so far away.

"What about US #8 dpns?"

Ann perked up a little. "I think so. Do they help a hangover?"

"No, but I lost mine last night during the game, and I need to finish this sweater for Emma before she outgrows it. That's why I was calling."

"Oh."

"Are you sure you have US #8 dpns?"

"Uh...There's some in the kitchen."

"Tell you what: the twins aren't due back from my folks' until four, so how about I swing by for those needles? I can bring you the Rosenberg Family Cure for Hangovers. It hasn't failed me yet."

"I thought your parents were teetotalers?"

"Okay, so it's the Ivy Rosenberg Cure for Hangovers. But it still works. What do you say? I can be there in twenty minutes."

"I guess," Ann said. Ivy coming over sounded suspiciously like getting out of bed. Maybe even brushing her hair.

"Such enthusiasm!" Ivy said sardonically. "'Til then." She rang off.

Ann quickly learned that one symptom of a hangover was the need to hold her head. She wasn't sure why, but it if she let her head go the pounding became worse. She made certain to keep a minimum of one hand on her head at all times. This made putting on her bathrobe and slippers somewhat difficult. She felt silly that she had been so shortsighted as to not practice her toe dexterity. Things would be so much easier if she could use them like hands. She shuffled into the kitchen and looked for the US #8 dpns.

Ann's kitchen was the staging ground for her three most fervent obsessions: cooking, knitting, and old movies. While others may have found it difficult to make one small room encompass such diversity, to Ann it seemed almost natural. She was by nature a very organized and pragmatic individual. There was not a pot or pan or lid in the place that did not have its place, or a spice jar without a label (carefully inscribed with its technical and colloquial name in Ann's own neat hand) on the shelf. A low, wide cabinet with a small TV atop it faced her knitting station, three shelves of VHS and DVD movies looming over it. The cabinet itself housed a fair amount of her knitting stash, organized by color, type, and purpose. A framed poster of Humphrey Bogart oversaw it all from its honored position above the stove. When asked why she kept it in such an odd location, Ann replied, "I just like to look at him." She wiped it down on a daily basis.

Today the room was not in top form. Her knitting bag was strewn in the middle of the floor, as were her shoes, overcoat, hat and scarf. She stared at it with incomprehension. Not only could she not imagine just dumping everything in the kitchen like that, she couldn't remember doing it at all. She wondered what kind of state she had been in when she got home, which raised the inevitable question of how she got home. Both answers were shrouded in an 80 proof haze of mystery.

It was then that Ann heard the cat meow.

Ann didn't have any pets, not even so much as a goldfish or a mouse she couldn't bear to trap. The man who lived above her had a old, fat labrador that was always idiotically happy to meet her in the stairwell, and the landlady, Mrs. Tamborini, had a pug, but aside from that there were no animals in the building - the labrador had only made it in because of the pug and hefty pet deposit.

The cat meowed again: a pitiful, plaintive noise. Ann moved to the window and peeked through the Venetian blinds. She squinted down at the snowy street that fronted her building, fully expecting to see some neighbor's cat waiting impatiently on a stoop. But there was no cat making mournful demands, just a small gray hatchback sloshing its way slowly down the street.

Ann heard the meow again. It was very, very nearby. It was, in fact, coming from the fire escape just outside the window.

There was cat sitting on the fire escape directly across from the window. It returned Ann's astonished stare with equanimity. It was a tidy little cat, a fine boned, shorthaired black and white whose markings were arranged in manner strongly suggestive of formal wear. All it lacked was the bow tie.

Ann couldn't fathom how it got there. Her fire escape was inaccessible from the neighboring buildings, and the cat couldn't have climbed up from the ground. The only conceivable explanation was that despite Mrs. Tamborini's edict, somebody in the building had a cat and it had gotten accidentally stuck out on the fire escape. Maybe she could lure the cat inside where it was warm until its owner came looking for it.

Ann's windows were very old, possibly even original to the building, and notoriously stubborn. Decades of exposure to weather and careless painters had not been kind to them - if she could get them open, there was fifty-fifty chance that she would be able to close them again. She debated with herself over which would be the greater evil. It wasn't snowing just now, but it was definitely below freezing. If she couldn't get it closed again her apartment would be like an icebox, her heat literally going out the window. But she couldn't just leave the little tuxedo cat out in the snow - it might be hours before the cat's owner found it. It could freeze to death in that time.

Ann raised the blind, unlocked the window, and began a one-handed battle with the bottom sash. Much swearing and grunting and head throbbing later she had it opened about a foot. Ann and the tuxedo cat regarded each other through the opening. It didn't seem frightened or the least bit shy. Nor did it seem particularly eager to get inside. It just sat there, watching Ann curiously.

"Here, kitty!" Ann called in what she considered her most beguiling, talk-to-helpless-creatures voice. "Kitty, kitty!"

The tuxedo cat didn't stir.

"Kitty? Come here, kitty!" Ann scratched the windowsill with her nails alluringly, but the tuxedo cat wasn't falling for it.

Ann wondered what she was doing wrong. Was she using a friendly, high voice? Yes. Was she making scritchy noises that attract cats? Yes, indeed. She tried clicking her tongue at it, but that was just as effective as everything else. She thought for sure rolling a ball of Cotton Ease lightly across the windowsill would do the trick.

It didn't.

"Fine! Be that way!" Ann told the cat, ducking her head back inside. She tossed the ball of yarn onto the floor and tried to close the window.

It was stuck.

Ann groaned, holding her head with both hands. She was going to be lying around all day, nauseous and achy, freezing her butt off, and she wasn't even going to have a cat to show for it. Maybe she could get the guy with the labrador to come down and close it for her. He was a nice enough guy; he would do it for her. But then again, did either of them really need to subject him to her in her current state? The man would never look at her the same again. Not that he ever did really look at her. But still.

"You're coming inside," Ann said, fixing the cat with a determined eye. She hiked up her bathrobe and slung a felt-slippered foot over the sill. She just barely managed to squeezed through the narrow opening to tumble somewhat gracelessly onto the fire escape. The window slammed shut and the tuxedo cat ran to the other end of the fire escape and leapt the five or so feet to the neighboring parapet.

Ann gawked at this uber-cat feat, then tried to open the window but it had gone over the other fifty percent where immobility reigned. She swore and stamped her foot. Something pink slipped through the icy ironwork, toppling three stories to the street below. Ann blinked down at the tiny pink dot in the snow that was her felt clog and swore some more.

Just then she saw someone in a bluish hat walking below carrying a large paper bag. Ann knew that hat: it was Noro Silk Garden, knit in four by two rib, straight seamed with a variegated blue pom-pom at each point. It could only mean one thing: the Ivy Rosenberg Cure for Hangovers was here!

And she was stuck on the fire escape, unable to buzz Ivy in.

"Crap, crappity-crap!" Ann swore, clattering down the icy fire escape. She slipped on a step and grabbed the railing. Her other felt clog spiraled forlornly to the fire escape landing outside the second floor. Ivy was already at the door, her mittened hand reaching for the buzzer.

"Ivy!" Ann shouted.

Ivy paused and glanced down the street. Not seeing anyone, she hit the buzzer and waited.

"I'm up here!" Ann shouted, clamoring down to the second floor fire escape. She grabbed up her clog and stepped onto the bottom ladder. Too late, she remembered that it swings down.

Ivy glanced up just in time to witness a startled Ann ride the ladder down like a surfer and tumble headlong into the snow below, her pink terry cloth robe flying behind her. Ann scrambled to her feet and ran toward the door.

Ivy stared at her, clearly thinking Ann must be a madwoman. "What are you doing? I thought you said you were hung over!"

"I am!" Ann panted. She pressed the buzzer for Mrs. Tamborini's apartment.

"You sure don't act like it." Ivy glanced at the felted clog clutched in Ann's hand. "What happened to your slippers?"

"Oh!" Ann exclaimed, remembering the clog in the snow. She would have fetched it right then if it wasn't for Mrs. Tamborini answering the buzz.

"Who is it?" the old woman demanded. A yapping noise could be heard indistinctly in
the background.

"It's Ann, Mrs. Tamborini! I'm afraid I'm locked out. Could you buzz me in, please?"

"You shouldn't leave the house without a spare in your purse," Mrs. Tamborini said reproachfully.

"Yes, you're right, Mrs. Tamborini. Could you hit the buzzer please?"


The buzzer sounded and Ann pushed open the door. "Could you hold this?"

Ivy stuck her foot in the door and watched incredulously as her friend dug about in the snow for her lost clog. "You know, you shouldn't leave the house without getting dressed first."

"I wasn't planning to leave the house," Ann said. "There was a cat stuck on my fire escape. I went out to get it, but it ran off, and my window fell shut."

"Was it a big Russian Blue?" Ivy asked.

"No, it was a tuxedo cat," Ann replied, then raised her pink clog in the air triumphantly. She noticed Ivy peering at something overhead with interest and followed her gaze. On the fire escape outside her apartment there was a big silvery-blue cat looking in her window.

"It was black and white," Ann added lamely.

"Like that one?" Ivy asked, pointing.

The tuxedo cat leapt from the nearby parapet into the fire escape and sat beside the Russian Blue.

They both let out a pitiful meow.

For the next episode, click here.
For the previous episode, click here.
To return to the Index, click here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My piggies are freezing

Today I:
  • got sock yarn in the mail
  • can't get my lame home computer to edit photos
  • am generally aggravated
  • am cold

Isn't this supposed to be spring? I could have sworn somebody said this is spring. People, it is 45 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and about 48 in my apartment, because I have double glazing. The heat is not on. Management must have heard the spring rumor, too. This wouldn't be so bad, except that I have no hot water in the shower, either: for the past two weeks we've had warmish water for about four minutes per shower in this glorious apartment. So no showering to warm up. No showering to relax. My feet are so cold that I am trying to finish those botched socks from the Knit 'n Sip while I should be writing.

And I keep screwing it up. I don't remember (since I knit the first sock so long ago) if I decrease every row, or every other, or after how many rows I switch from decreasing every other row to decreasing every row, if you know what I mean. Over an hour of work. Cold feet. No writing. No socks. No heat.

The IK Winter 2005 Ballet Wrap is working out just fine, though.

I think I am on the verge of doing something desperate, like going back to bed, or wrapping what there is of the Neapolitan Ice Cream Flower Afghan around my feet. I may even (gasp!) postpone the writing until tomorrow. My boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot is willing to put off the date if writing today doesn't work out. We'll see.

Last night, I:

  • ate pizza with mushrooms, kalamata olives, and spinach with three beers
  • watched The General, a Buster Keaton movie
  • had a little chocolate ice cream
  • was cold, too

Friday, April 21, 2006

Knittin' 'n Sippin'

Today I:
  • had a piece of toast with cream cheese, broccoli sprouts, and the last of the lox with coffee for breakfast
  • am having two bean and rice burritos for lunch
  • am organizing the blog a little, so your Bloglines may be going crazy

Last night at the North End Knit 'n Sip I worked on these aquamarine Lamb's Pride Super Wash socks. I don't know why, but aquamarine is a color that I can't seem to photograph well. (Here's a link to it on Yarndex for comparison.) So sad, because it is a great color.


But it's hard to tell that in a dim Irish Pub, just like it's hard to tell that the number of stitches between decreases have been miscounted. (The drinks probably didn't help, either, come to think of it.) Despite a couple obvious signs of intoxication, Jeanette was managing to flawlessly knit black lace, so I feel like a real wimp, esp. since I was sitting next to The Bitter Knitter, who, as an aspiring actuary, could have done my counting for me. (44 divided by 3 is 10, right? No? Where's the waitress, I need another drink...)

It was probably for the best, anyway, because I could not for the life of me remember how to kitchener a toe.

When I got home it was stressed to me again by whatshisname, my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot, that I should leave Sunday free so that we could go somewhere and act like a couple. If nagging me about mailing off my tax return and debating who's turn it is to buy the toilet paper isn't being a couple, I don't know what is, but he gets these fanciful ideas. Museums and parks and whatnot. Smelling the roses and having picnics where he plays violin and I knit or read.

I know, it's a sickness.

This doesn't mean that I'm skipping over a new installment of knitting fiction. I created an Annex today, a kind of blogging broom closet or foyer, that lists each installment, and I wouldn't do that if I didn't think there are going to be enough to get confused about where to find them. (You can get to the Annex through my sidebar.) The disruption to my routine caused by this date-or-what-have-you this weekend is actually going to work in your favor: I am going to post Saturday night.

Last night, I:

  • had a banana around 5pm
  • ate fish and chips with fries and coleslaw for dinner
  • washed it down with a Nutty Irishman and a vodka tonic
  • got to shout "Hooters!" a couple times, much to my gratification

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Style 7194

Today I:

  • had a piece of toast with cream cheese, lox, and broccoli sprouts with a cup of coffee for breakfast
  • am planning a banana for Second Breakfast
  • am scheming to eliminate UFOs

I have a lot of UFOs. Really. The list on my sidebar is just partial. I have so many UFOs that the letter on my apartment door should be 51, as in Area 51. It's pretty bad.

I have been finishing a lot of projects lately, large and small: the IK Winter 2005 ballet wrap, the crochet wrap, the shrug. A washcloth. I'm in such a finishing mood, I should tackle to UFOs, right? Clear some drawer space for virgin yarn? Especially since the Great Turnabout is coming - The Time When Wool is Replaced by Cotton in All Things, Except When It's Linen, Hemp, or Viscose. I can't just continue blithely on with my winter knitting through an air-conditionless East Coast summer; I'll have a heat stroke. And besides, I want to do some summer knitting.

Yet I can't just abandon all those WIPs and UFOs. Should I try to finish them up before the heat wave begins? Or should I pick them up again in August, in anticipation of Fall?

I think I'm going to tackle the most straightforward, big projects first. Which brings up Style 7194, aka the Vintage Raglan Cardigan.

Introducing Campus Hand Knits from 1963. This basic v-neck cardigan, Style 7194, with pockets was supposed to be my first adult sweater. Then I realized I was increasing the sleeves wrong. I paused, thinking I'd get back to it.

Then came the Knitting Olympics. And the shrug. And the crocheted wrap and the IK wrap. I think sweaters can be like popcorn: you think you're just going to have one, and then next thing you know, things have gotten out of hand, and you find yourself suddenly holding an empty bag. (Only with sweaters, the empty bag held yarn.) Now, if I hurry, this cardigan will be my fourth adult sweater. (Let's not forget that FLAK I'm neglecting.) It's very simple. I already have the back done, and the only real challenge will be the button flap and the pockets, two things which I have never done before. That and I'm using 100% pure recycled yarn. This sweater used to be a different sweater. A very large man's sweater made from yarn that varies in thickness. Fortunately, Style 7194 is knit flat.

I blocked the back knit-down, and it came out great - nice and flat. You can probably see the variation in thickness on the purl side below. I also have to spit-splice about every fourth row.

I'm going to have this done by June, at latest. Then I can start a summer sweater.

Yesterday, I:
  • had the same kind of breakfast as today
  • had half a sticky bun for Second Breakfast
  • ate two bean and rice burritos with a banana for lunch
  • inhaled a mozzarella and pesto panini with a soy latte during S'nB
  • had a heart of palm salad when I got home
  • had another heart of palm out the jar for good measure
  • crocheted and knit some
  • finished reading Death of a Ghost... which didn't impress me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chaos Washcloth

Dude 1: Dude, check out my sweet new Chaos Washcloth!

Dude 2: That is totally gnarly, man! Where did you get such a fly washcloth?

Dude 1: I made it, man, and it was, like, so easy. Now I can wash dishes and be stylin'.

Dude 2: Righteous.

Me: I am, like, so square. Obviously I need a hobby to fill all this spare time. Oh, wait, this is my hobby!

Pattern: my own

Size: one size cleans all

Yarn: Lion Brand Lion Cotton in "Maize"

Gauge: (before washing) 18 s = 4"/10 cm on US #7 straight needles

This is what I did last night instead of writing. I also ate a veggie burger. (After I finished the washcloth, of course, around 11pm.)



You scored as Elizabeth Bennet. As one of Austen's most beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet represents what most women would like to become: strong, independent, and loyal. Of course, she has her faults including a stubborn will of iron and a clinging to first impressions. Overall, Lizzie is bright and lovable...something to admire and aspire to.

Elizabeth Bennet

63%

Elinor Dashwood

59%

Charlotte Lucas

56%

Emma Woodhouse

53%

Jane Bennet

50%

Lady Catherine

25%

Marianne Dashwood

22%

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with QuizFarm.com

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

IK wrap FO

Today I:

  • had a piece of toast with cream cheese and lox with coffee for breakfast
  • am having veggie loaf for lunch
  • am trying to buck up

IK Winter 2005 Ballet Wrap Cardigan

One of the things I love about knitting is how sometimes it allows my mind to roam freely upon other topics. I finished up this cardigan Sunday morning while I was having breakfast and wracking my brain for a plotline.

Sorry the picture isn't very good, it was first thing this morning and I just threw it on any old way for a quick photo shoot. It actually fits better than it looks. I wore it all yesterday at work, and I couldn't have been more comfortable without being in bed with a hot chocolate and a book. Pattern: Ballet Wrap Cardigan from IK Winter 2005

Size: 34", sort of (see: modifications)

Yarn: Lion Brand Chunky Wool-Ease in "Charcoal"

Gauge: 14s = 4"/10 cm on US #11 dpns (if I remember correctly)

Modifications:

I substituted yarn, of course, something which I think made this project. I am even more in love with Chunky Wool Ease than before. It makes a dense, lofty fabric, and the color is good. It also hides the seaming exceedingly well. The only drawback is that it may pill, and cats snag on it rather easily.

I also only used two needle sizes (Us #11's and Us #10's). The sleeves bell quite a bit, and had I thought about it, I probably would have nixed the US #11's on the cuffs altogether to reign that in a little.

I knit a 34" body with 32" sleeves. I have a reason for this. That reason is that I'm short. I had one sleeve all knitted up when I realized that it was longer than I like, coming practically to my knuckles. I didn't like the cap, either, so it was no big deal to rip it all out until it was the length of a the sleeve for the smaller size. I knit up the second sleeve with the increases for size 34" so that it would match the first sleeve. This has worked out fine. The sleeves don't seem too wide at all.

Those darn caps! I thought I had made some kind of mistake that was causing them to poof at the shoulder seam, but upon closer examination of the cover photo of IK Winter 2005 I realized that the wrap was designed that way. (The whole top row was k2togs!)This was a bit of a bummer, since it meant re-design, and really, my specialty is hats and socks, not sweaters. I tried to read up on armscyths, etc., but my brain started to hurt and I fell back onThe Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. (This book really does come in handy.) And then I went about it in my usual convoluted way. I'm very happy with the results.

It's pretty simple, but this is what I did:

  • I BO the first 3 s at the beginning of the first two rows of the cap
  • then I bound off 2 s at the beginning in the following 2 rows (This is consistent with the IK instructions, I think)
  • on the RS only, I dec. 1 s at each end of the row twice (30 s remained for me)
  • hunted desperately through the KHBP for a cap with 30 s at this point and a gauge somewhere around 3 s = 1" (Remember, at 14s = 4"/10 cm, that's 3 3/4 s = 1")
  • I knit three rows, and dec. 1 s at each end of the 4th row
  • on the next RS row I decreased 1s at each end
  • on the next row, irregardless of RS or WS, I BO 3s at the beginning
  • BO 3s at beginning of next 5 rows in the same manner
  • BO the remaining 10s
  • called it done

A word about the straps. This is how much I cut off of the straps after I had the entire wrap finished: That's about 8", and I could have taken off more. There's a reason why the straps in the magazine photos of this sweater go out of the frame: I could be wearing this sweater and have enough strap left to strangle someone quite comfortably. Not that I would do that. But these straps are super-mega-ultra long. Just so you know.

All in all, this wrap was a breeze. I recommend it.

Yesterday, I:

  • had no breakfast
  • ate a Vending Machine lunch
  • despaired over my blog stats all day at work to fill the time
  • had eel sushi with a green lettuce and heart of palm salad for dinner with a soy White Russian
  • outlined the next Sunday installment
  • couldn't find my 4 mm crochet hook
  • read some more of Margery Allingham's Death of a Ghost
    Eight people have read the latest installment of the knitting fiction. (This is part of the fun of holidays: blog readership goes down 80%.)To you eight loyal fans (or bored people) I want to say thank you, and that next Sunday involves a cat.
  • Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Here we go!

    This isn't hilarious; my apologies. But I assure you this story is going to be quite funny at points, hopefully even in general, because I just can't help myself.

    I've got the plot. I think it will do. I hope you like it, and that I can be consistent by posting every Sunday. (Knock on wood.)

    Remember, this is a rough draft. I wrote this... um... ten minutes ago.

    Click on "Read More, Maybe" to see it. Enjoy!


    Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was not feeling like a winner. Winners were jubilant, with light hearts and a jig in their step; they did not worry about how they would survive the night, cold, wet toes or how cumbersome a large bag of yarn and knitting doodads can be when you’re trudging home through eighteen inches of new snow during a blackout. Winners believed Lady Luck was on their side and, having made her acquaintance, they didn’t doubt that they would be the ones to take her home, if not for good, then at least for the night. After all, she had favored them; never mind her notoriously fickle nature.

    Kathy-or-maybe–Karen had no such belief. While she had been using more than her fair share of luck the past few weeks, she was not na├»ve enough – or tipsy enough – to think that it could hold out. Something other than luck had been on her side tonight. She felt a slight twang of guilt at leaving the women from the knitting circle with so little to show for their evening, but she had agreed to give them a chance to win it back. Besides, it wasn’t as if she enjoyed practically stealing their yarn out from under them: the bag was heavy.

    Earlier in the evening, snowplows had cleared the streets, creating a hedge of snow that ran along the sides of the parked cars and formed large mounds at every intersection, effectively blocking any but the most adventurous pedestrian from crossing the streets in the usual manner. The blackout had quite literally driven people into the streets, and like them, Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was walking down them, another shadowy explorer with uncertain footing. Kathy-or-maybe–Karen was uncertain about how she felt about her company. It was weeks until the full moon, and the lights from the areas of the city that had power were only sufficient to cast the sky in a dim, sulfurous glow. She felt like she was walking down a deep, black walled chasm, lined with a faintly glowing floor. Dark forms moved toward her, their shape and meaning indistinct until they were nearly upon her - faceless, shuffling apparitions. Mostly, they either did not see her or ignored her altogether, their minds focused solely on their destination.

    A block from her apartment she was crossing the intersection at a diagonal when she noticed something coming down the street on her right. Unless it changed course it would cross very close by her just before the corner. Tightening her grip on the snow-slick bag, Kathy-or-maybe-Karen quickened her pace. She made it a couple steps before she lost her footing, her legs slipping out from under her, landing her heavily atop the booty bag. The shadowy form was rapidly approaching.

    “Are you alright?” it asked.

    “Fine, fine!” Kathy-or-maybe–Karen exclaimed, struggling to right herself. She had to get to her feet before it reached her, had to get away.

    “Are you sure?” it said, and she felt something grab her arm, pulling her to her feet. It was a man.

    “I’m okay,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen insisted, straightening her hat. Snow had gotten down her collar, up her sleeves. She glanced down the streets, but there was no one that she could see. They were alone.

    The man was staring at something just above Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s head. Alarmed, she looked up, but the man merely said, “I hope you didn’t break anything.”

    It took her a moment to realize he was speaking about the bag.

    “Uh, no. No, that’s just yarn.” Crap, she thought. Why did I just tell him that?

    “Ah. A buffer,” the man said, and before Kathy-or-maybe-Karen could say anything he picked up the bag. “They say there’s going to be three more weeks of winter. At least, that’s what they say the groundhog said. Me, I say May.”

    “Uh…” It was dangerous standing out in the open like this. She had to get rid of him. Quickly.

    “Are you going far?”

    He wanted to walk her home. What was the yarn worth, anyway? “I have to go!” she announced suddenly, turning on her heel.

    “Hey! Your bag!”

    But Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was already halfway down the street. She didn’t look back. For once she felt fortunate that the city was not based on a grid. It was easy to be misled in the narrow, winding streets, but it was just as easy to mislead. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen cut down a street that led away from her apartment and followed it for a couple blocks until she was able to turn back and, through a network of crooked, abbreviated mews and alleys, reach the threshold of her apartment. She let herself in with numb, shaking fingers and closed the door carefully behind her. Her apartment building lay within the domain of the power outage, the winding Victorian stairs eerily red-lit from the emergency lights that stood high up on the wall above each tiny landing. She hurried up the stairs, unlocked her door, latching and bolting it firmly behind her. She leaned against it, panting, and stared into the perfect blackness of her apartment.

    Not for the first time it occurred to Kathy-or-maybe-Karen that she in was in way over her head. It was only a matter of time before she was found. She was not good at subterfuge. To some, it was an art; a practiced skill that would deliver, like magic, the heart’s desire, whether it be love or riches. Gavin had been very skilled at it; he pulled a shroud of glamour over everything he did, transforming everything he did into something special, something wondrous. She had been astonished that he had wanted her. But then, if Gavin were all he pretended to be, he would be here right now.

    Kathy-or-maybe-Karen stepped cautiously into the room. Her foot struck something on the floor that tumbled and rolled away. Crouching, she felt for it in the darkness, then set it upright on the gently sloping floor and lit it with a cheap lighter she kept in her pocket. A halo of light sprung up around the candle, illuminating Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s pale face. She rose and moved around the room, lighting candles until a circle appeared on the faux-wood linoleum. Vague symbols in pink and blue chalk were crudely scrawled between the candles, forming a kind of mandalla. There was no furniture visible in the room, only two suitcases in the corner opposite a sink and compact stove set into a niche in one wall. Hanging over the two small windows were braids of garlic.

    Kathy-or-maybe-Karen had lost the bag of yarn, but she still had her stash. She hoped it would be sufficient to garner the knitting circle’s interest. She took off her jacket and set to carefully retracing the chalk lines inadvertently smudged by her shoe. Come dawn, she would sleep.

    In the shadows where the wall met the ceiling, a pair of eyes glinted brightly in the candlelight, watching her movements with interest.

    For the next part, click here.

    To return to the Index, click here.
    For the first part, click here.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Supernatural Fiends

    Last poll, I swear. Maybe this seems intellectually lazy to you, but it's not easy to work out a good (or passable! Please! Please! ) plot in (looking at watch) about 48 hours, and write a bit for it. Maybe it's a bad idea, too. Maybe I should give myself a week.

    Nah. Here at Crisis of Praxis, we embrace the crises.

    Vote as much as you like. I close this poll tomorrow around noon.

    Okay, Let's get specific about these Supernatural Fiends. Which do you prefer?

    The poll is closed!

    And the results are:

    • werewolves 3 votes
    • vampires 6 votes
    • various nasty undeads (ghouls, zombies,etc.) 1 vote
    • giant spiders! 0 votes
    • ghosts 2 votes
    • The Unseen Evil 2 votes
    • dragons, milord 4 votes
    • pixies 4 votes
    • minor gods 3 votes
    • Your own private demon (Please elaborate in Comments) 0 votes

    There's a definite preference, I see, for the undead vs. the living dead, and I thank you. I just threw in ghouls, etc., to be thorough. Describing pus and rot isn't one of my fortes.

    So, let's talk about vampires. The trouble with writing about vampires is that (to quote Carrie K.) "they have been done to death lately, no pun intended." So how can I write about vampires without being trite? (True, I've got a couple scenes in my head, but that's hardly a plot.)

    And dragons. I'm thinking, really. Pixies I think I have covered. I don't know what I was doing yesterday when I was thinking about the pixies, but I have that all sewn up, so to speak.

    It's this overarching plot thingamajiggy. It's Sunday morning, and I haven't had my coffee yet. I think I'll go do that and maybe the brain juices with start flowing. I'll be checking the blog every now and then, so if you're bored on an Easter Sunday, feel free to entertain me in the comments. Don't worry about sounding like you're talking nonsense. I tried to brainstorm the other night with my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot, and all he came up with was giant spiders. With no reason for them. Just giant spiders. We can do better than that. At least, I think so.

    The Results Are In

    Today I:

    • had a bagel with salmon cream cheese and an Americano for breakfast
    • wonder why my work doesn't take Good Friday off
    • wonder what Good Friday is

    The Poll Results

    I closed the poll this morning and took a good look at the results. At the top was Cats (7 votes) and the bottom (not counting Other) was Romantic Interests (2 votes). Nearly everything else came in equally (5 votes each), except Supernatural Fiends, which lagged behind at only 4 votes. That's right: Supernatural Fiends got two more votes than Romantic Interests. You're a funny bunch, preferring monsters to romance, but I like you anyway because you love cats. And besides... I cast a vote for Supernatural Fiends, too. And Cats, of course.

    Jeanette got my mind running wild between dimensioning reflected ceiling plans and scrounging for food from the OKC yesterday with her comment about battling monsters with knitting tools. Don't think I don't think about these things, folks. One of my all-time favorite reads ever (despite forgetting the author and title) was a satire about an office worker who was battling the return of Cthulhu from his cubicle - Dilbert meets H.P. Lovecraft. (If you know what I'm talking about, please please please email me.) I'm perfectly prepared to go outside the box, too, provided there's a good giggle along the way. And maybe a latte or a Crazy Irishman*. You know how it is.

    So cats, mystery, Boston, the food/yarn thing (surprise!), interpersonal drama, and (are we doomed?) patterns from moi, with some supernatural fiending and very little kissy-kissy. Okay. I'm going to go think about this, and with any luck I'll have full plot outline and a chapter by Sunday night. (I'm not going to post the plot outline, by the way. Hope I didn't get your hopes up there. I'm just posting the chapter. And I'm not going to tell what supernatural fiends I come up with, either. So there! Take that suspense. Enjoy it.)

    Until then... (giggling diabolically)

    Last night, I:

    • ate something I shouldn't have. Lived to regret it.
    • had a panini and a bag of Kettle chips with mint tea for dinner
    • crocheted some
    • started a knit washcloth
    • bought red sock yarn
    • finished reading Police at the Funeral by Margery Allingham

    *My impromptu name for a drink whose actual name I couldn't remember, and still can't. It had coffee and whiskey and Irish cream and whipped cream, and my, it was good. The waiter knew what I meant, which is the important part. He was Irish. And not crazy. More like zany.

    Edit:I found it! William Browning Spencer's Resume with Monsters. Wonderful book.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Writing Poll

    I have a swarm of ideas about what to write next. So, to keep my head on, I've created this poll. Vote as many times as you like, and leave comments if you wish.


    Poll Results:
    If I were to write a serial knitting story, what should it incorporate?

    • a mystery (bodies, stalkers, etc.): 5 votes
    • Boston: 4 votes
    • romantic interests: 2 votes
    • cats: 7 votes
    • interpersonal drama:5 votes
    • supernatural fiends: 4 votes
    • attempts on my part at knitting patterns: 5 votes
    • description of food and/or yarn that verges on the obscene: 5 votes
    • other (please specify in Comments): 1 vote

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Down with the OKC

    Today I:
    • had a banana and a cup of coffee for breakfast
    • forgot about Second Breakfast
    • am having The Lesser Evil for lunch (you don't want to know)
    • probably should have stayed under my rock

    You may notice that sometimes I refer to something called the "OKC", usually in conjunction with food. The "OKC" is the Office Kitchen Counter. We have a lot of meetings and lunch presentations at work that are catered. There is an unwritten policy of placing leftovers from these events on the counter of the nearest kitchen for the vultures (which, I might add, are plentiful in this profession. I'm not sure what it is about architecture that engenders a keenness for free food, but it's definitely a marked trait.) to clear away.

    This is what I scored from the OKC yesterday for being extra quick and landing on it before everyone else. Half a tuna sub, some spinach/feta/pistachio/cranberry salad and a cookie that looks like a carrot. Second Lunch, folks.

    Embossed Leaves Socks

    This project has been on my sidebar for a while. I thought you might be interested in learning what it looks like.Last night, I:

    • met Wenders for some crocheting
    • had a bag of Kettle chips
    • ate a handful of lettuce
    • may have had chocolate ice cream for dinner

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Warning! Nauseatingly Cute Pictures Ahead

    Today I:


    • had a bowl of cereal and coffee for breakfast
    • almost had Second Breakfast (dang!)
    • don't have much to say for myself, even in my own defense




    Last night, I:

    • had a panini and a bag of Kettle Chips for dinner
    • drank a soy White Russian
    • bought a wrist brace
    • crocheted some
    • read a little
    • knit even less

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Urg is for Mondays

    Today I:

    • resisted the call of the sticky bun
    • had a banana and a coffee for breakfast
    • am missing Second Breakfast
    • am very glad I brought lunch, however inadequate, because I am getting fed up with the lack of variety provided by the basement vending machine

    Pictures

    If it's not one thing (Blogger) it's another (Photoshop). I can't upload photos today. Which is very unfortunate, since I had a photo shoot with Jamieson this morning where he was sporting the Neapolitan Ice Cream Flower Afghan like a cat blankie. It was adorable. Just take my word for it.

    In Other News

    Apparently the Yarn Harlot is coming to town. You know, that woman who started the whole Knitting Olympics business. People are getting pretty excited about going to see her. Me, I'm not going anywhere. It isn't that I don't like her - I read her sometimes, and I've got a phat Knitting Olympics gold medal on my sidebar - but it takes a lot more than a knitting blog celebrity to get me out from under my rock.

    I'm a bit of a lurker. I didn't go to the Team Boston opening or closing parties, I don't acknowledge Boston bloggers I don't know personally when I pass them on the sidewalk, and even the ones I know have to make their presence known in a fairly obvious manner because of my Philly blinkers. (Don't look at other pedestrians, never make eye contact, get to destination quickly before someone tries to mug you.) The only person that I would go out of my way to see in room full of 100+ people is this man. Just thinking about it makes me feel all fluttery. (Or maybe that's hunger?) I might go see this one, too, depending on my mood, but as a second choice he's pretty far behind. There's a 50/50 chance I'd stay home and knit. Or read the other guy.

    Yesterday, I:

    • had an egg and cheese on a croissant with coffee for breakfast
    • ate a handful of lettuce (the impatient person's salad)
    • had vanilla organic yogurt with raspberries for lunch
    • had potato gnocchi with vodka sauce for dinner with a beer
    • wrote a little
    • got very little knitting done

    I worked on the sleeve cap of the Ik ballet wrap cardigan this weekend and have come to the realization that that buldge in the shoulder is part of the design. Which means redesign. Urg.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Sunday

    Sundays I am supposed to dedicate myself to writing. Working full-time, it's difficult to find time for my varied interests, so this is a way of making time - both for my sanity and for my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot's, because he is the one who gets to hear the whining and bitching.

    Tuesday and Thursday nights he works late, so I have our studio apartment to myself until 10pm. Perfect time for projects, right? Kind of. I find sitting all day in front of a computer trying to focus on little glowing lines rather tiring, so the most I do on Tuesdays and Thursdays is knit or read. If I'm lucky, spew the occasional idea in the form of notes.

    Saturday my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot works from early in the morning until 6pm. Perfect time for projects, right? Oh, wait, there's this little matter of errands to run, and that this is the only day of the week I can do them, because everything is closed (or closes uncomfortably early) on Sunday. Also, after working all week, I feel a bit spastic when I finally get a free day, kind of like a cat let out of a bag. So on Saturday I buy things I need and/or want, watch DVD's, knit, clean the apartment, generally run around like a fool, exhausting myself. Not much room for writing in all that.

    So Sunday. The Chosen Day. My boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot is usually out of the apartment by about noon. He is a workaholic, so he usually goes to school to work on a side project, but if he doesn't show signs of leaving early, I start to give him subtle hints that his presence is not needed. (Did I mention it's a studio apartment? 250 sq. ft.? And I pay the rent? Do I even need to?) He doesn't come back until evening, when it might be safe.

    Today is Sunday. What am I doing? I went and ate an egg and cheese on a fried crossaint in the Paul Revere Mall with my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot, which I really shouldn't have done. I should have sent him out first thing so that I could have the apartment to myself and get to work. But I am weak in the morning (witness the sticky buns) and he paid. He eventually left me to myself so that I might get down to some serious industriousness.

    I have washed the dishes. I finished an entire square of the Neapolitan Ice Cream Flower Afghan (which is going to made of 20 large squares of 9 smaller squares, sewn together) and The Red House Mystery, which I highly recommend to anyone who likes British Country House 1920's mysteries with witty banter. (After reading this, I wish Milne had written a long mystery series, to tell the truth.) I'm washing the Fugly Socks. I am doing a million little household chores. With the exception of this blog entry, I am not writing. Maybe this is a warm-up. Maybe.

    I'm thinking about writing more knitting-oriented shorts. I'm thinking about other humorous stuff to write, and that damn novel I've been working on since forever, and audiences. I'm also considering posting shorts like the poker scene in the evenings on Sundays as a motivator. I wrote that short as a tool to loosen myself up. I am incredibly uptight about writing, I never seem to finish a damn thing. Doing something for fun, rather than, oh, say, artistic expression, or some other conceit, is supposed to be a good ice breaker. Better than a soy White Russian, or a beer, because frankly, I write like hell when I'm drunk. And I mean that in the negative sense.

    So maybe that's what I'll do. What you do you think?

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Skit

    I thought of this skit (or vignette, I'm using very vague language) while walking to work the other day after receiving the package from Christine that had some of her odd balls in it. It got me thinking about how one person's useless yarn is another's treasure, even if it's in small amounts.

    Keep in mind this is a rough writing. Click on "Read more, maybe" to see it. Enjoy!


    “I’ll see you, and raise you half a skein,” Margaret “Peg” Johnson said, tossing a center-pull ball the size and color of a lime into the pot.

    “You’ve got to be kidding,” Ivy “The Eye” protested, shooting the older woman a signature look of cynical incredulity over her Buddy Holly glasses. “That was alpaca.”

    “Wool’s as good, if not better, than alpaca,” Peg said, biting sensuously into a dark chocolate candy. Puff-paint kittens chased a ball of yarn across the bosom of her red sweatshirt, belying the wild heart that lay within. Peg liked to live dangerously; she never used a lifeline, even in lace. Sometimes she didn’t even swatch.

    “It’s chartreuse,” Ivy insisted, pointing with a black lacquered nail at the ball laying atop the heap of yarn like a small, gaudy cuckoo’s egg. Juice glasses in various states of emptiness stood around the mound like sentinels, slices of lemon hanging languidly over their rims. Ivy had emptied two of those glasses herself, but she was still not someone to be trifled with. A plump, unnatural brunette in her early twenties, Ivy had an uncanny ability to guess the weight and length of practically any yarn, give or take an inch or gram. She didn’t even need to pick it up.

    “It’s vintage. You don’t find yarn that color every day,” Peg insisted.

    “I certainly hope not!”

    “Just throw in another, Peg,” Gladys said with a sigh. “You’re holding up the game.” Gladys had known Peg since before either of them had ever dreamt of steeking; she would listen to her.

    Peg reluctantly pushed a small ball of blue tweed toward the pot, the five other women following the bid with their own carefully selected offerings. Snow was falling swift and silent in the darkness beyond the pale green curtains that ran the length of the small, linoleum tiled breakfast nook. Large bags of every shape and size huddled around the player's legs like shy dogs hiding behind their masters. Most of them were empty. None of the women were particularly eager to trudge out into a winter wonderland of snowplows and buried cars - at least, not as long as the vodka held out – so the meeting was lasting longer than anyone had anticipated. The pizza was long gone, the chocolate was on its way, and the pot in the middle of the table had grown to dangerous proportions, a veritable mountain of yarn. Not only was most of each woman’s stash of odd balls herded together on top of the kitchen table, but tape measures with little black lamb tails and cat faces; primary colored row counters, set to random numbers; bright plastic portable scissors and the odd anodized aluminum stitch holder.

    “We could make charity blanket from this,” Peg said conversationally. “Out of granny squares.”

    Ann, a slight, ash blond woman in glasses and a pink Aran cardigan with star buttons was dealing, her knitting (a cotton lace tank top) clamped under one arm. “I can’t crochet,” she said.

    “Hit me,” Ivy said.

    “It’s easy, Ann,” Melanie, Gladys’ seventeen year old granddaughter, said brightly. “I could show you.” Much to Melanie’s disappointment, Peg had stocked the fridge with a liter of Ginger Ale before everyone arrived, and she had it all to herself. No one else seemed to want any. Coupled with the comparatively meager hoard of odd balls she had managed to accumulate over the last two years, Melanie had despaired of making a success of the evening. Fortunately – for her, that is - she was experiencing a streak of beginner’s luck that increased at almost the exact same rate as the other women were drinking.

    “It won’t be an afghan,” Ivy said, carefully arranging her cards. “I’m going to win it, and then you’re all going to cry.” She tossed a ball of off-white fingering weight alpaca into the pot, immediately following it up with two softball-sized pull skeins of red alpaca. “I’ll see you, and raise you two, Peg.”

    “I fold,” Ann said, taking refuge in the box of chocolates.

    “Cocky, cocky,” Gladys murmured, tossing in some mercerized cotton in particularly god-awful combination of burgundy and orange. She seemed to weigh her choice for a moment, then added another ball. Peg put in the chartreuse wool’s five evil brothers: Puce, Lemon Sherbet, “Lego” Blue and Transit Worker Orange. Melanie blithely gave up a couple of mini-skeins of angora, while the new girl pulled a sacrificial ball of super wash merino wool from a bag by her feet. Her name was Kathy, or maybe Karen, something that started with a K or C. She was a thin, dark haired woman in her early thirties with Brooke Shields eyebrows, but that was where the resemblance ended. Ann had met her at the local coffeehouse and had encouraged her to bring her odd balls with her to the “meeting”. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was slowly knitting a shocking pink scarf in garter stitch, English style, on a pair of size 15 needles. Peg’s big gray Persian, Trouble, who normally didn’t take to strangers, had taken up residence in on of Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s empty bags, just a fuzzy rump and tail visible beyond the twine handle.

    “Oh, no!” Ann exclaimed, peering desperately into the box of chocolates. Or rather, the box that had held chocolates.

    Gladys gave Peg a meaningful look. “I told you one wouldn’t be enough.”

    “There’re still plenty of corn chips,” Melanie said.

    “That’s hardly the same,” Ivy pointed out.

    “Hit me,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said to Ann, who was still staring tragically into the empty box.

    “One would have been enough if it wasn’t for the snow.”

    “One is never enough, Gladys, and you know it.”

    “Ann, hit me,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said again.

    “Oh, sorry!”

    “I might have some candy corn in the cupboard above the fridge.”

    “I’d rather eat the chips.”

    “I’ll see you and raise you one,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said, placing a ball of yarn on the table.

    Glances at the ball quickly became stares.

    “Grandma, is that the yarn you need to finish the Roine-”

    Both Ivy and Ann made not-too-subtle gestures at Melanie to be quiet. Everyone knew that Gladys enjoyed color work; the Fair Isle pullovers she made for her husband were the stuff of tears and dreams. But every knitter has their Achilles’ heel, and for Gladys, it was a certain color work sweater, using five different yarn types, all of which had been discontinued years ago. Gladys had come very close to completing it. One ball, maybe two, of a particular color, and she could block it and stack it neatly in her closet beside her other conquests. She had been searching so long for that one or two balls, of a particular color, that she now considered it close to sacrilege to bring up the topic of possible substitutions. Saying the name was akin to asking for an hours-long rant on the logistics of yarn manufacturing and distribution.

    Gladys had gone quite pale.

    “Where did you get that?” she demanded.

    “I used to work at a yarn store,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said with a smile.

    Gladys looked accusingly at Ann.

    “Didn’t I tell you that?” Ann said in a small voice, clutching her knitting.

    “No, you didn’t,” Gladys agreed darkly, glancing at the novelty yarn scarf Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was knitting.

    “I’m letting my wrist rest,” she said, by way of explanation. “I just finished a Dale sweater.”

    “Really?” Peg said, her interest piqued. “Which one?”

    Gladys would not be distracted. “How much do you have?” she asked Kathy-or-maybe-Karen.

    “Four skeins.”

    “I fold,” Ivy announced.

    “Me, too,” said Peg, picking up her knitting.

    “How much is that worth?” Melanie asked.

    Gladys glanced down at her remaining yarn. She had three half-balls of canary yellow Cotton Ease, a dozen tiny balls of sock yarn remnants, and a cat-chewed cable needle.

    “I could use another drink,” Ivy said.

    “You’ve got a good hand?”

    “Gladys, you’re not supposed to ask that!”

    “Call me and we’ll find out,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said.

    Gladys looked at the wedding ring shawl curled up on her lap. She had worked on it off and on for years, through holidays, vacations, snow storms. She had made her husband watch TV on mute with subtitles so that she could focus. But she would never rest until she got that damn Roine… sweater…. off the needles and blocked. Then she would be free. Free to get truly obsessed over another project. Yes.

    She really loved the wedding ring shawl, but sometimes sacrifices had to be made.

    “Grandma, no!” Melanie cried, recognizing the determined look in Gladys’ light blue eyes, but Gladys didn’t listen. Cries of shock and horror rippled around the table as Gladys ruthlessly whipped her new #0 circular Inox from the shawl.

    “I have a lifeline,” she said, laying the needles quietly on the table. The wedding ring shawl was not ruined. “And I have a chocolate.”

    All eyes followed as Gladys slowly pushed the tea saucer that held the last chocolate toward the center of the table. It was a square chocolate, with dark chocolate sprinkles, still nestled in its brown paper wrapper. The silence was such that it was possible to hear clumps of snow falling off the eaves into the yard.

    “Is that nougat?” Ann asked hopefully.

    “Um, I think I’ll fold,” Melanie said quietly.

    “Smart girl,” Peg whispered.

    Gladys and Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s eyes locked over the heap of yarn and knitting tools. “Are you sure you don’t want to fold?” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said. “I could trade you the yarn sometime.”

    Gladys opened her mouth to answer, but just then, like an act of God, the lights flickered and went out.

    “Crap!”

    “Where’s the fuse box?”

    “Nobody move!”

    “What was the hell was that!”

    “I think you just stepped on Trouble.”

    “Oh. Poor kitty.”

    “He’s not a poor kitty, he’s a menace.”

    “I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” Peg exclaimed.

    A small flashlight clicked on, illuminating the scene in a sickly yellow glow. A couple of glasses were knocked over, but they were thankfully empty: the pot was dry. Ann and Peg moved back to their seats, and Kathy-or-maybe-Karen righted her chair. It was then that they all noticed that something had gone missing from the table. They stared for several moments in shocked silence.

    Gladys was the first to speak.

    “Okay, who ate the chocolate?”

    For the next bit, click here.
    To return to the Index, click here.

    Things are sort of getting done

    Today I:

    • am having a sticky bun for breakfast with coffee
    • need to think about kicking the sticky bun habit
    • have a progress photo of the IK ballet wrap cardigan for you


    It wasn't easy to take this photo. I imagine you can guess why.

    I like how this cardigan is looking so far - it is ridiculously easy to seam - and it doesn't seem to add much weight to me. I was a little afraid it might make me look like a have a beer gut or am pregnant. The thing that is bothering me (which I totally didn't expect) is the seam along the top of the arm. Notice the bulge? I think either the arms are a little too long, or I have an extra row in the cap shaping. This will bother me to no end, I know it. It must be fixed. So... before I finish the second arm, I'm going to detach the first one, try to fix the problem, then put it back and hopefully have the problem solved. I can then replicate it in the second sleeve. Yesindeedy.

    Did you catch that part about this being easy to seam? Boy, I really lucked out.

    Milne

    The Pooh-meister isn't doing too bad as a mystery author so far, folks. I'll most likely finish the book up this weekend and give a full report then. However, if you can't wait, the Gutenberg text of the novel is available here.

    Last night, I:

    • had nachos with two beers
    • drank a soy White Russian
    • wrote some, but not enough

    Skit
    Saturday, or late tonight. Really.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Mystery Swap Package has arrived!

    I got home after a long day yesterday to this: My Mystery Swap Package from Tiffany. Everything was wrapped up in cute blue paper and sprinkled with glitter as if it was my birthday.

    Inside was:
    • a ball of midnight blue/light blue Opal sock yarn (a brand I have never used before, which is exciting)
    • a Hubba Bubba Clucker (it winds up and walks while laying bubble gum eggs. Hysterical.)
    • and not one, but four books: Obelists Fly High by C. Daly King, The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Geston Leroux, The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens.

    I haven't even heard of half of these authors. Nevertheless, Tiffany really has my number. I didn't have time to do more than read the back and first paragraph of each book, but judging by that alone, these are all very interesting reads. I don't know where to start first.

    Okay, so maybe I do. The bird is already a-clucking.

    Thank you, Tiffany, for such a well thought out and interesting package!

    Skit
    I worked on the skit some last night, but I got home later than usual and was so exhausted that I didn't get very far. I'm hoping that since I have the apartment to myself until 10pm tonight I will fit in some quality writing time and have it finished by Friday. Part of me wants to sit on it a week so that I can revise it, but then again, another part of me says that I should learn not to take myself so seriously. So I will be posting it this weekend at latest. And it will be behind the cut, of course.

    Toodles!

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Books!

    Today I:

    • had sticky bun for breakfast with coffee
    • have realized sticky buns with pecans are addictive
    • am having a bag of Fritos and a banana for lunch
    • need to go food shopping, but don't have time
    • got mail!

    My boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot left the apartment this morning and then had to come right back because this was already waiting for me in the entry hall:This isn't my Knit the Classics swap package. This is package from Christine, (Thanks, Christine!) who has been reading my blog since she discovered my name (Christine, F.Y.I.) on the Knitting Olympics list and has lately been talking to me about mystery novels. I've never read Edmund Crispin, but Martha Grimes is always a winner, and I covet anything by Margery Allingham, a woman whose works are undeservedly difficult to find - at least for me. I have two if her books - More Work for the Undertaker and The Tiger in the Smoke - because I was fortunate enough to find crumbling copies of them in a thrift store. Think Lord Peter Whimsey, but different, and you've pretty much got it.

    The yarn is a skein of light orangish new wool, and three balls of Classic Elite Flash (two blue, one reddish), weight and yardage unknown. I'm already starting to boggle my mind about what to make with it. It's cotton, so the timing is good. (You know a yarn has your attention when you shove it in your purse to take to work, even though there's no conceivable way you'll be able to do anything with it at work.) I have a yarn meter, so I can figure the lengths. Nevertheless, it's a real puzzler, and if anybody has any ideas, let me know. Right now I'm thinking "striped scarf" or "wristwarmers".

    On my way to work I sent Christine some books in her box along with the first ball of yarn I came across that didn't cause me physical pain to lose. I hope she knits socks. If she doesn't, maybe she'll learn, because she's got sock yarn now.

    Last night, I:

    • went to he coffeehouse for dinner and had a panini and a coffee
    • drank a few sips of beer
    • worked on my writing
    • knit and finished the right front of the IK ballet wrap cardigan
    • started the right sleeve
    I got an idea for a skit to write up while walking to work today. If I finish it tonight, I'm going to post it tomorrow. But first, from you, Kind Readers, I need a discontinued yarn coupled with a project that would make someone truly desperate for a ball of that particular yarn.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Edgy (with silk!)

    Today I:

    • am experiencing some swap anxiety
    • feel even more tired than yesterday
    • am comforting myself with a sticky bun and Wikipedia

    Perhaps I am a nervous person, but my KTC Mystery Swap package is 4 days late. Not the one I sent, but the one I am to receive. I don't know who the sender is, but I am familiar enough with my stat counter to make an educated guess. I think it was sent. Perhaps it is late because I live under a rock. Yet, I think the USPS has a pretty good idea about where I live, despite that rock, because they are on the same block as me.

    You know what this means, don't you? Obviously, this is a plot. A cosmic plot to drive me insane. Let's ignore for the moment that I am probably a posthumanist; preternatural forces are plotting at this moment to deprive me of yarn and books, and possibly, just maybe, chocolate. O, cruel Fate!

    Edit: Just heard from my Mystery Swap pal, turns out my package was delayed by sickness of the child variety.

    Yarn

    Jeanette intercepted my exciting laundry date last night to give me my portion of a group Elann order: 8 balls of blue Katia Fanny (50% silk/50% viscose blend). What am I going to make? Well, this will be a bit obvious: the free pattern on the Elann site. I am a wildwoman.

    Last night, I:

    • ate 3/4 of an eggplant parmesan sub with a beer
    • drank half a bottle of mineral water
    • read about privies (this is a highlight)
    • knit a little
    • did three loads of laundry
    • kept thrusting yarn at my boyfriend/ partner/ whatnot and saying, "Look! Silk."

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Tired


    Today I:
    • had a coffee and a sticky bun from Lulu's for breakfast
    • am having a Vending Machine Lunch (I know, I know. Bad.)
    • am not really functioning up to par. (In fact, I don't even think I could find my clubs. You go ahead. I'll wait here.)

    I feel very, very hung over, and I didn't have anything to drink last night. I knit and I watched a movie (The Weatherman) and had dinner at the Trident Bookstore... all of which should not result in this terrible feeling. The feeling that the world is pitted against me, trying to make me miserable. More pointedly, that even though he is long dead, Benjamin Franklin hates me. I don't like you so much either, Ben. Even though you made a knifty stove.

    Yarn Stuff

    Look! I'm still making the same sweater! I can focus!

    However, you may note that I have slightly more than half a sweater that is entirely finished. I find seaming as I go very good for knitting ADD, don't you?

    And a little crocheting here and there to keep things interesting. I really need to pick up the pace on this Neapolitan Ice Cream Flower Afghan. (Terrible name, I know, but I tend to be little literal about these things.) At this rate, the colors I'm using will be expired before I am even half way through, and then what will I do? Add other flavors?
    This bit is about the size of a placemat.

    Yesterday, I:
    • had French onion soup and chamomile tea for dinner
    • ate a tuna fish sandwich for lunch
    • devoured a bagel with cream cheese with a soy latte for breakfast
    • had a headache all day
    • bought books