Saturday, May 31, 2008

Last post of May (Technically)

This has become the blog that should have been. It was all thought up and ready to go (well, except for minor details like, say, typing it) when some terrific storm cells marched through the area. Between the hail, intermittent lightning and tornado sirens, somehow posting seemed neither the safest nor the most logical of choices at the time.

So, do me a favor, okay? Pretend it's Saturday while you're reading this. I'll even adjust the date, if that will help.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.

I. Am. Tired.

You'll get more on the trip over the next few days. Suffice to say, I made it to my friend's place, made it to the interview and said things of an interviewish nature, then returned to the friend's place, where I was treated to Chinese at a local restaurant (excellent), Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (okay) and mad packing for an equally mad return trip (much more eventful than the trip out). There are stories to tell. But not now.

Now I just want to sleep. I was pleased with the pack for the trip situation, though. Here's how the ginormous amount of "keep busy" stuff was used:

Books--Three read and the fourth well into. Only two extraneous. Pretty good for roughly three days on the road, all told.

Magazines--Both read cover to cover. Interesting, though I could have read more lace history in Piecework and not been bored.

CDs and movies--Bit of a bummer. The mini-DVD player only held a charge for about two hours, max. Never have I mourned my iPodless state more.

Extra yarn for corrupting kiddies--No kiddies above 2 years in my immediate vicinity, darn it. So I corrupted the only other people available.

Stanley decided to crochet a scarf like Stanley's, while Stanley-with-the-scarf-already-done thought a blanket might be nice, as he will be visiting the United Arab Emeritus, France and possibly Ireland this summer. Stanley-with-the-scarf fell victim to the purl-without-paying-attention syndrome and decided to keep it in as part of the design pattern. While I'm not sure about it myself, I felt letting him have his creative freedom was more important than my measly opinion, especially as he did a crochet edge for the whole thing as well. Thing 3 approved (as did Thing 4 with Stanley's scarf).

And hey, the dudes finished their first solo projects. Way to go, S & S! (Yes, there are no limits to the odd ways in which I will attempt to amuse myself while on a long trip.)

The sock monkey butt socks were finished. (It's Sockina Cotton #03/Garden, btw.)

And I do mean were. While taking the picture you are currently viewing, I realized that with the Kitchener stitch, I had (uh-duh; I did mention I'm a newb, right?) created an extra row of pinkish-tan, making the band before the toe slightly bigger on one sock.

I'd like to say that anal-retentive me did not grumble and fret that everyone who looked at my feet any time I wore them would notice and mock me for my only slightly-off-match-up on the socks. I'd really like to say that I did not frog back, with lots of muttering and cursing of my own self for weaving in ends far more thoroughly than I'd ever thought myself capable of and that I am not now sitting with a toe-less sock waiting patiently for me to get back to it and its short rows with its purl and knit encroachments (we loves the encroachments, we do; total fun).

I'd like to say that. So, er, let's just pretend that I did, shall we? Thanks ever so much.

I did the provisional cast on for the Leyburn,

but quickly realized that I did not have a small enough crochet hook with me and the toe was coming out with stitches that were a bit more open than I would want in a sock when I stretched it.

I also realized that I'd made a fatal error in checking out the different Leyburns being done by Raverly people, and that I actually, truly and really wanted to do the Ley's in variegated yarn. Socks that Rock (Cracked Canyon in process with Zeitgeist Yarns--Ravelry link--and another colorway which had some bright white in it--bwa ha, just double checked--Knitters Without Borders knitted up by the YH) were what really caught my eye.

So...I'm definitely still doing the Leyburns, but I've decided to check out Socks that Rock and go with a colorway that looks Leyburny/Me-ish to me. Especially as a quick peek confirmed that Cracked Canyon isn't available. Maybe it was her stash, or maybe part of the current Socks that Rock Club. (We wants to do the STRC someday, we do, we do.) Meanwhile, I found more possibilities than I needed to by running over to the Blue Moon Fiber Arts site. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing...

With my pretty purple yarn, I'll be doing this the Shetland Lace Rib Sock (free pattern by Marguerite Byrne). I'm looking forward to experimenting with lace and learning a new heel. I think the color and the lace patterning will complement each other extremely well.

Until next time, when you'll either hear about trip news (delays, exciting Stanley and Stanley moments and young love) or a bunny butt (yep, a bunny butt).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

All Packed Up & Someplace to Go

The blog and I will be away for a bit. We're road-tripping to a state far, far away for a job interview.

Whilst packing for this, I decided, virtuously, to use this bag as my carry on:

My ex-boyfriend gave me this bag, and when he sent it, he didn't say, "Here's a small hiking backpack." He said, "I found you a good knitting bag for when you go kayaking." Dude understood.

Anyway, I was sure that this smaller bag would force me to pack less, as I tend to over-pack just a tad.

Turns out I was wrong. Instead, I became the uber-packer. I managed to add most of the following:

Lots of books because 1) who knows what I will be in the mood to read and 2) I read rather abnormally fast. I finally caved and chose a few for the suitcase; I'll switch them out on the way home.

Some magazines (Hey, only two, okay? And they're both, er, educational...)

Lots of movies, books on tape and CDs (thank goodness for those DVD cases that hold three movies each!) because (again) who knows which movie I will feel like watching, and if I'm knitting, I'll have to have something to listen to, right? And yes, I know having an iPod would make my life easier. Let's not add to my iPod envy, okay?

Two sets of socks, one set almost finished, one set not yet begun.

And, um, one mystery knit project; just in case, you know? I doubt I'll need but, but...well, what if I do?? But I was good; I packed that one in the suitcase! The French version of Fred Vargas went to the case as well. I'm too keyed up to attempt to decipher French. That'll be a ride home challenge instead.

Two Stanleys of a flatish nature (Thing 3's and Thing 4's contribution to the chaos).

And most importantly:

Items to corrupt the uninitiated short people of the world. Plus patterns. I have no shame.

(In my defense, I could argue that this could actually be more for self-protection, you know. I've taken my knitting and crocheting to every class at which I've substituted and if they are kids between the ages of two and eight, they want to do it as well. Note to all: it has always, without exception, been the boys who were first to ask to be taught and who knitted or crocheted the most on whatever project I had in my hands. We have to talk to whoever is in charge of stereotypes.)

So, the blog and I will try to update you mid-trip if we can. Otherwise, see you next week!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, Catholic-style Guilt--A Day Late

Yes, it's Monday. For another hour and forty-eight more minutes, anyway.

And no, I'm not Catholic. I'm Lutheran. But ask anyone who has attended Lutheran schools growing up and if they're honest, here's how they'll define a Lutheran:

We're disgruntled Catholics.

Sure we threw out purgatory, Latin, and those pesky saints (though we keep them for our school names, a dichotomy I've never quite figured out) and other such things we couldn't be bothered with, but we kept the guilt.

And here the blog promised, away and far ago, updates on the ongoing projects. (This was before the blog took a job-hunting hiatus. You know how busy blogs can get.)

Puesdo-Catholic guilt hit hard on Sunday (as all good guilt should) and thus produced results with me on Monday (my life tends to work like that).

So, pictures and updates.

Totally unblogged but were-meant-to-be blogged baby hats for charity for the Yarn Harlot's Tour. I knitted two, Thing Two knitted one (the blue one, if you couldn't guess).

Mind you, I didn't actually get to see the YH speak. I was at Thing Four's vocal concert with Thing Three keeping me company in the audience. (Songs and poems that were all about food. Not to be missed.) Thing Two, with Thing One as a non-knitter chaperone, went in my stead to laugh. (And even Thing One found the talk funny. That gives me hope. He's the only one I have left to corrupt...)

The pretty, pretty self-patterning sock yarn did arrive at the YH event in time for the signing, though, and it had its photo op. (Please ignore the non-Harlot person in that picture. Not only does she suffer from frozen smile-itis each time a camera is pointed in her direction, she also has been experiencing what can only be termed as a bad hair lifetime.)

The train hat, in its third and final incarnation, with some previously unblogged mitten buddies. Both hat and mittens, especially mittens, are already much battered by winter wearings (since winter went long this year), a tendency of the Bernat yarn to pill and many tussles between the mittens and their Velcro-ized brethren in the mitten bin. (Damn Velcro anyway. We hates it, we do.) So yeah, I should have gotten pictures the day they were done and still shiny and new. I guess I can say they look well-loved instead, right?

The mittens, of which 1 and 3/4 were knit in one bizarrely fast--for me--day (last 1/4 completed the next day), aren't technically done. They still need the trains duplicate stitched on. (That should be fun as all get out. Anybody want to guess the number of times I'll fuse the two sides of the mittens together? Me neither.) I promised to line them as well. Midwestern winter winds are cold. And of course, he's getting a tubular scarf, one side red, one side blue, trains across each end in the same pills-from-hell producing yarn.

Maybe I'll make him a whole new set this summer. The pillish ones can be backup.

Hat for the daughter. Yeah, I snuck that one in. First official cable job. Discovered something there. I can have a glass of wine or two and cable blithely along. I cannot cable and chat at a family gathering at the same time, though. Not. At. All.

The pretty, pretty self-patterning yarn. Again. Apparently its appearance with the Yarn Harlot wasn't enough. It wants more face time. (Quite the blog pig, if you ask me. I guess I shouldn't tell it that Thing Two and I have named it the Sockey Monkey Butt Socks, because the heel reminds of said part of a sock monkey's anatomy--hey, it sounded funnier than Sock Monkey face/mouth/nose socks. We tried all variations, just to be sure. Sock Monkey Butt Socks was the decided fav.)

And bwa ha ha! I have defeated SSS; see? There's the second and all it's fighting now is the deadline knitting. (The since finished birthday shawl and bookmark; the definitely NOT finished baby-to-be-birthdate gift and gift for baby-to-be's big sis, whom I suspect will be a bit put off at the interloper moving in on her grandparent adoration territory. She's getting a bunny with a trousseau that is beginning to make me jealous. Someone hit me on the head with stitch dictionary the next time I get grandiose ideas, okay?)

What makes me happy, though, is that I managed to match up the patterning; I was only one stitch off (and was able to hide that one white stitch on the cuff with the dark tail of the yarn). This means that I don't have to count rows; when the pattern gets past the next block of pinkish tan, I switch to my heel work.

My little Frankensocks, made from yarn which is not really sockish in nature. Erm. Yes. Well. The two-at-once Frankensocks are still on the agenda, but not on the needles. I decided to practice with cheapo yarn in different colors. This, I felt, would make me more confident when having to switch back and forth with yarn that looked the same. And so they've been pushed even farther down the line, what with deadline knitting and de-feeting SSS (ha ha ha).

But I've got a long bus trip coming up and miles to go before I sleep (probably rather literally) and...


Frankensocks may have competition.

I feel disgruntled-Catholic guilt coming on big time.

The only question is, should I feel guilty about doing the Leyburn pattern or the Froot Loop pattern?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

O, That Way Madness Lies

Okay, so King Lear had child-rearing issues, not crafting ones.

I realize that.

But knitting and crocheting have become my Regan and Goneril. The little ingrates are taking over my life and plotting to use it to further their own agendas.

It started randomly. Little things that were spaced far and few between. Tactical maneuvers that at first made it seem like they were on my side, supporting me.

Examples you ask? I have them aplenty.

After a huge, emotionally-charged move halfway across the continent, leaving what had become home for what used to be home, a friend said that he hoped the move had gone well. This was part of my reply:

Discovered something nifty though. If one takes refuge in a corner with knitting, no one comes near. I think it was because I had strategically tossed the skeins of yarn about me on the floor (four colors) and people were afraid to come too close lest they become entangled in the yarn and fall helplessly onto my double pointed needles (which are very, well, pointy and numerous--four at once to be exact). It was then that I realized my needles had a heretofore unrealized tactical advantage. And, of course, I achieved a nice little eddy of peace in the swirling waters of relations.

Supportive little needles and yarn, weren't they? To help out like that. But they had other views in mind.

My little Regan and Goneril have convinced everyone else that all I do will be yarn impacted and that all my responses will be yarn-related ones. You require proof? Here are some recent offspring comments.

Don't talk to mom for another couple of rows. She hasn't had enough of her morning knitting to be coherent yet. (Thing Two, who has just read the blog, insists that I inform all and sundry that it was she who came up with this--cough--witty observation. There. You happy, kid?)

I can too wear this shirt to school, mom. Just knit me a button quick. (Thing Four's response to being unable to wear his most favorite in the world shirt due to a gaping, button-loss hole on the front of him.)

Mom! Look up from your knitting before you cross the street! (Thing Four can walk to school on his own if this is the way he's going to be. Seriously.)

Er, mom, was part of your crochet project supposed be embedded in our dinner? What have we told you about crocheting near the stove?! (Another note from the increasingly editoral Thing Two. She insists this one should be labeled: All Things Implied, because they've all said it. Har. Har. Har.)

See? Little R & G have made everyone assume that I do these projects so much that I cannot function without yarn and some form of stick, be it pointy or hooked, in my hand.

But worst of all, they're convincing me of it as well. They've infiltrated my mind and distracted my attention.

Again, it was little things at first. Things such as, upon seeing Tony Robbins' 6'7", size-16-shod, ginormously-handed self in Shallow Hal, causing me to have the immediate reaction of, "For the love of everything alpaca, I am so glad I do not have to knit for that man!"

But they weren't content with that little victory. Oh no. They've upped the ante. They've made it seem perfectly logical to knit or crochet not only in lines, but also during morning walks to school (see son comment above), while participating in non-yarn related meetings and in a kayak in the middle of a lake.

They've made it seem normal that with each job posting I consider, I immediately do a web search to see how many, if any, yarn shops are in that area.

They've convinced me to go ahead with the baby blanket after receiving notice that the mommy-to-be was already buried under baby blankets from the last kid (she's getting an EZ Baby Surprise Jacket with matching hat and booties instead) because I simply cannot pass up learning Tunisian crochet, nor could I ever, ever return yarn that I really quite like.

But worst? They've even managed to make me purl without noticing. I mean, knit stitch without paying much attention I can understand. But purling? Since when have I been able to purl every other row as called for without looking down or even noticing that I had switched from knit to purl?

Since never, that's when.

I think the coup is about to occur. Somebody dial up Cordelia for me, would you? She's got to deal with with Regan and Goneril for me, because clearly, I can't.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Fortune Cookie Never Lies

And good thing, that, because after today's hair trauma I needed to hear

Plan your graduation party with Leeann Chin Delivery.

Oh, wait, wrong side.

Your sparkle never fades.

This is reassuring to know, because I have entered the phase of interviews rather than just resume submissions. My first non-phone interview is this week, and I had decided I'd better get my growing-out hair whipped into shape (It's not been cut in awhile. I've been going through hairdresser withdrawal, as the guy who has cut my hair for years is now half a continent away, damn him.).

So, in I go to the new place, with the same old requirements. Trim off the ends, please don't layer the sides or the back (that's death to me, who has baby fine hair) and cut the front to about cheekbone level.

I got bangs. They're the sort of bangs that fall perfectly into your eyes in a manner that means you'll be constantly blowing them out of the way. Longer bangs, to be sure. But still, bangs. Not exactly the length or look for which I was going.

Now, lots of people look great in bangs. They can wear bangs and a suit and look sleekly competent, or bangs and something slinky and look chic. You know the type of women I mean.Then there are a minuscule few who look like a six-year-old with prematurely wrinkling skin when you whack their hair into a fringe. Especially when one tiny point of hair at the side of the bangs, right near one's glasses arm, wings straight out for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Any guesses as to the group in which I am placed?

Yup. I'm freakin' six.

Add to that fact that I have several cowlicks in the front of my hair (which are only noticeable when said hair is short) and I now resemble one of those sheepdogs from Bugs Bunny cartoons, only I look like I have a bad case of the mange.

It's not really the hairdresser's fault, you know. She did the best anyone could do with the materials at hand. Truly. It was an uphill battle for her from the moment she ticked my name off the list.

So I'm taking a deep breath and reminding myself that even mangy puppies (remember the six is in people years) can sparkle when called upon to explain composition theory and strategies for succeeding with at-risk and LD students.

I'm also reminding myself that, for the first time in what seems forever, I have completed two projects in time for the birthday of a little girl I love in the Dominican Republic. It's a sparkle moment all its own, that. Granted, Carolina's birthday isn't for another two months, but I have to allow for DR mail service and letter translation, as my Spanish is back to non-existent.
Well, okay, the projects are almost completed. The Bloom Shawl is knitted and blocked:

All that remains is sewing on the button on the front. She's a lover of bright colors, our Carolina, so I hope she likes this.And the bookmark is half completed. As it only takes about two to three hours, tops, for this project, I'm on the downhill side:

I'm fervently hoped its gnarled little self will straighten nicely with application of a border, heavy doses of spray starch and merciless T-pinning. The adding of the ribbon should help as well, though I've yet to decide on the ribbon color: blue, or white.

That project is a more than just a sparkle moment, really. It's actually a labor of generational love. I've never attempted to crochet with mercerized cotton and a hook so small it's hard to see the point before this moment. But my Great-Aunt Mary, who was a child's perfect example of unconditional love and patience, used to crochet such tiny things and give them to me as gifts. I loved their fineness and the possibilities for my imagination that each lacy pattern held.

I hope that the project does block out well. If not, I'll redo it. What my hands are recreating isn't just a bookmark. It's a feeling that Mary gave to me and that I carry with me still; a feeling which, through the repetitive movements of my hands, will perhaps be passed on to a quickly growing up girl far from me. Maybe she'll tuck it into the copy of El Principe Caspian that we bought her at the book fair. I hope she does, and I hope it makes her smile in her soon to be twelve-year-oldness, this little bit of tangible, child-like love; just as I smiled at the bookmark made for me.

With this haircut, I don't look twelve yet, but that's okay. Maybe six with sparkle has its merits.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moving House

I'd let the blog go. Not pretty, but there it was.

Truth to tell, I'd been buried in sending out teaching applications (Thirty some out in fifteen or so states at the moment) and trying to adjust to being surrounded by family again after living half a continent away.

There's nothing wrong with my family, mind you. I just tend to be an introvert in large crowds, and when we get together we are not a tiny gathering.

At any rate, I focused on kids and apps and knitting and crocheting while the the poor blog sulked angrily in a corner, feeling neglected and unloved.

I've finally had enough, though. It's gotten to the point where there is constantly yarn and needles or hook in my hands. Seriously. And despite not writing about it, I've still been busy.

The result? A backlog of projects to blog and nifty things to tell.

All of which has not been done.

So today I made a change. I left this notice at the old blog space:

The move has been made!

Bwa ha ha I have moved my blog to the following place

It's called Confessions of a Bistickual Crafter: The Life & Times of a Novice Knitter and Crocheter.

Bistickual, snork. Get it? Er, knitting needles AND crochet hooks?, yeah, never mind.

It was funny at the time.

Nothing much new there yet. I've posted all my old blogs (though one is misbehaving) and am about to start a massive couple of catch up posts there. Then it's hopefully back to posting there on a regular basis so I can submit the blog to a knitters/crocheters blog ring.

So this will be the last of the posts at the old stand.
Hope to see you at the new!

And what will the new include? Updates on hats and socks, plus shawls and bunnies not yet even heard of. Signs that I may be knitting too much. Memorial crochet. Knittin' chickens. You know, the usual bistickual crafter stuff.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm Loved

I love Mother's Day. My children know me well.

From Thing Three: a movie picked out especially for mom, and hey since it happens to be their favorite series, why don't we all watch it together?

From Things One and Two: a totally cool knitting chickens sock needles and crochet hook case to match my knitting chickens bag, both created by the totally awesome ZigZag Stitches on esty. That is one seller who will do anything for a customer, including making sure their mom's favorite chickens (one knitting a chicken foot sock despite its lack of legs and another with its yarn hopelessly snarled and a happy smile on its beak) are strategically placed for optimum viewing.

From Thing Three: dark chocolate kisses because you like dark chocolate AND there are lots for you to share, mom, which wouldn't have happened if I'd just picked out one candy bar; and

The homemade stuff. Thing Three's the last of the elementary age kiddos, so I'm treasuring the homemade for all it's worth.

And now I think I will use my wonderful new bookmark (complete with a photo of Thing Three mugging it up) to mark my place in my novel. I've got a movie to go watch. I just hope I don't get any of the chocolate on my needle and hook case.