Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Busy Little Blog

The blog has asked to me write and inform you that it is buried under work at a temporary job (everyone should get paid well for playing with toddlers), moving (in the real world, not the virtual) and yet another cover letter for yet another right-up-my-alley job.

Its little life should be far less hectic come 1 July, when the cover letters and move will be complete. It hopes, despite its utter dependence on the person tapping the keyboard, to have an exciting (hmm hmm) post about New Zealand and its yarn. This isn't a complete impossibility, given that Things 1-4 are being kidnapped by their various grandparents at around that time.

Until then, the blog begs your forgiveness at its (relative)boringness. If you're that hard up, there's always the archives, which, let's face it, shouldn't take any time at all to read, given that there's not much in them.

Or, says the blog, you could go read the blogs of people who aren't frogging lace on socks because they left their knitting a tad too near an inquisitive two-year old.

Your call.

Either way, happy end (sort of) of June!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Movie Mind Games

I don't think it matters that I've sewn them up, albeit inexpertly.

The blinkin' bunny bits are messing with my mind big time. And in the most bizarre ways.

It started while they were still scattered pieces. I kept getting these odd cross references to morbid movies. They made me giggle, in a sort of nervous way. Silly B's bits evidently thought they were worth blogging about. I, on the other hand, wasn't really sure that the world needed to know that much about my weirdness. But the bunny bits were determined.

And now, I see, I'll have to explain all.

There's something kind of off, I've decided, about doing a stuffed animal that comes in parts.

The only other stuffies I had done were some crocheted birds and they were all in one piece.(They are also seemingly the only project for which I did not take pics. When I dig their little, loved-to-the-point-of-battered selves out of storage, I'll add their photo.)

But as I staked each bunny piece out, I began to feel like some strange sort of cousin to Glenn Close in her Fatal Attraction phase. Not pleasant. Only my firm resolution to cook nothing for dinner that involved a large pot helped me shake the feeling.

Well, that and the Sesame Street beach towel on which the pieces were being blocked. Somehow, Glenn hadn't seen like a Sesame Street kind of girl in that movie.

I thought things would be better as I prepared to sew the bunny up. I was wrong.

Enter Frankenbunny moment. I had disembodied bits lying all about my little operating table. All I needed was a blackened sky, an eerie wind and an appropriately hunched assistant to hand me more T-pins and fluff the fiberfill while I attached a nice lightning rod to the sewing machine.

Fine, fine. I had had a strangely morbid turn of mind but that could be overcome by what I was sure would be the Peter Cottontail-esque moment that would come when I wrote the bunny blog.

What I got instead was me shamelessly ripping off two quotes, "Show me the bunny bits = Show me the money" and "Silly B had me at CO 13 stitches = You had me at hello" from a movie that was thankfully not twisted, but, c'mon. It's a movie I've not even seen.

Maybe Silly B will leave me alone if I get back to her summer dress instead of sneaking in sock knitting time. If that's what it takes, so be it.

But I am so not renting her any DVDs. Especially not Jerry Maguire.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bloggin' Bunny Butts

When I title it that way, it almost sounds like an epithet. But knitting a bunny butt had its epithet moments, I have to say.

This is all for Cecelia, the ex-b'friend's beautiful niece. CeeCee has recently become a big sister and while her mom, Anna, reports that Cecelia seems thrilled with little Lief for his own sake, she's been less than thrilled with the shift in attention that, as the only granddaughter and youngest grandchild, she magnanimously accepted as her due. It's fine for her to love Lief, but all others are supposed to be focused on her curly-headed self. I can say, very truthfully, that she is not spoiled. I was around enough to watch her being told no by all grown-ups. What she is is enormously, unreservedly loved, as all children should be.

Anyway, as honorary auntie for a time, I decided that when I crocheted up Lief's blanket, I should make something for CeeCee as well. I didn't want her to feel left out. You know the deal.

I found on a cute sweater from The Natural Knitter, by the late Barbara Albright (a wonderful book; check it out). However, about the time I discovered that Anna was knee deep in blankets, I also looked more closely at the Bodacious Bunny Set and realized that Cecelia was already too big for it. And I wasn't so sure that my first sweater ever was the best time to play with pattern alteration. It's never bothered me before, but then again, those alternations were always for things like Christmas stockings. I wanted Cecelia to actually be able to wear it, if I made it.

So for Lief, I switched to the EZ BSJ with matching hat and booties (thank you Ravelry for inspiration) and decided that I would still do the baby blanket, as I want to learn Tunisian crochet in the worst way and that was a legitimate excuse to do so. (And it still is. I just need to find a blanket-less baby out there, that's all. Unfortunately, there are probably all too many of them.)

But figuring out what to do for Cecelia was harder. For some reason, the Bodacious Bunny had hopped into the deepest reaches of my subconscious. I found myself flipping through Family Circle Easy Toys: 25 Delightful Creations to Knit and Crochet, and there it was. Silly Bunny. Bodacious Bunny totally approved, as Silly Bunny was just too cute.

And I could make Silly B little outfits, thus getting my let's-experiment-with-sweaters-now phase going. After all, Silly B will be living in Maine, where mere knittedness isn't always enough to keep one warm. Well, not if that's all you're made of, anyway.

Enter the epithet moments. (You were wondering if I would get back to those, weren't you?)

To begin with, the pattern, while well-written, was the sort that assumed that one had the ability to visualize how the pieces would fit together.

The problem with that is that I'm dyslexic. (Yeah, yeah, a dyslexic writer, how ynnuf is that. I've heard all the jokes. And the rest I've made up myself).

Besides the classic problems with reading (I skipped that for various reasons and instead flipped more numbers than I did letters), dyslexics also tend to have problems with short-term memory (but look out for long-term; once we embed it, we don't forget it) and can have some problems with spatial visualization and judgement as well, which may explain my unaccountable habit of knocking one shoulder into door frames on a more-consistent-than-I-would-like basis.

Either way, I could not visualize how this bunny would actually fit together, and, as I watched two back bunny pieces come out longer than one front bunny piece, I began to get more than a little apprehensive. I mean, I know to what extent I can mess up royally. I never underestimate myself there.

I knit on optimistically (i.e. with as much denial as I could muster), but there was no getting round it. The back of the bunny seemed, to me, to have morphed into this ominous, are-you-sure-you-didn't-repeat-a-couple -rows'-worth-of-instructions-one-too-many-times bigness. Believe me, there were times when an epithet such as ,"Bloggin' bunny butts anyway!" was probably the politest phrase in my said-under-my-breath crafting vocabulary. It's a wonder the the yarn didn't leap off my needles and make a run for it when it heard all threats I muttered at it.

To make matters worse, there was one more than one fetching bunny photo, with cute little Silly B posing cutely (sometimes with a cute kiddie, sometimes alone) in its cute little overalls which cutely hid its seemingly freakishly misshapen bunny butt and other pertinent bunny construction points from me. All I had was one brief line drawing which, again, expected that I could mentally visualize to fit the bits and pieces lying scattered about me.

For most of you, I'm sure figuring out things like how bunny body parts fit together would have been a walk in the park. But for those of us like me, I beg a boon of the designers. One cute picture only, please. I mean, Silly Bunny had me at cast on 13 stitches. Really. I didn't need additional adorableness to induce me to buy the yarn.

So if you've got the extra photo op space, use it well. Show me the bunny bits. Loads of bunny bits. Give me pictures of bodiless hands holding bunny bits and showing me how to put them all together.

I finally did manage to hit visualization possibilities; I had a dim picture in my head, literally, and I held grimly onto it. It was only after I had most of the front finally knitted and I could hold each piece an physically rotate it in my own two hands, though, that I could see whether or not I was correct.

Strangely enough, I was.

Given the number of stuffed animals that have an actual heinie upon which to sit, I know it seems rather goofy that I did not realize I was creating Silly B's little seat. But there you have it. Or, more correctly, there Silly B had it. I may have clued in (may being the operative word) had Silly B not been dressed in overalls; it was hard for me to tell whether there was anything upon which the bunny could sit or if they photographer had cunningly propped the bunny up (and you know they'd do that).

Despite major bunny butt angst, I finally produced this:

(Silly B with her suitcase which will hold the ensembles I am theoretically crocheting and knitting.)

You'll be seeing Silly B a lot more when she models her wardrobe. Best not to go into bunny overkill now.

So, for the tribe of the outside the box crafters (especially those of us who aren't even sure what shape or color the box is), have mercy, oh designers.

.hcum os reve ti etaicerppa eW .sknahT

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Think I'm Going to...Cleveland?

Yes, it's the (seriously belated) post about the trip home. Life tends to get like that for me. Things fog over. Especially when I discovered I have moved to the land of the cottonwoods trees. Huge amounts of white fluff in the air.

This wouldn't normally bother me, but I've realized, mostly due to being so stopped up on one side of my head that I can't hear well, that I'm allergic to cottonwoods.

Allergies, like job hunting, rather suck. Both can create hazy fogs. And while I'm trying just to ignore the allergies, I can at least poke fun at adventures while job hunting. (Especially today; won't say why, just trust me on that one, okay? Thanks, dears.)

So a few posts ago, you left me packing for my trip out east. The trip there was uneventful, thank goodness. The trip back was something else.

After leaving Boston (where, yeah, the song Boston by Augustana got stuck in my head) we were behind schedule all the way through New York and beyond. The bus drivers, bless them, drove like bats out of hell and we made our connection in Cleveland with a bare twenty minutes to spare.

"Well," said the young geologist (bound for Boulder, Colorado) whom I queued up behind in an already longish line, "at least we won't have much of a layover!"

I mentioned he was young, right? Well, add naive to that as well. We'll overlook the fact that I agreed with full conviction, shall we? After all, at 3:20 a.m. one must have hope, mustn't one?

After waiting an hour and a half, our bus arrived. They hustled everyone off for cleaning and refueling, which meant that there was a line of reboarders (such a practical name) who got to get back on the bus first.

About a half of a bus worth of reboarders to be exact. The geologist and I glanced ahead of us. Roughly a half a bus worth of new boarders stood in front of us. We glanced at each other. We are both people with advanced degrees in our professions, the glance said. We could handle the math. 1/2 reboarders + 1/2 new boarders =...

"Oh dear," said the expression on the young geologist's face (he looked too polite to swear).

"Oh bloody hell and somebody slap the Gods of Bus Scheduling because no Goddess would be this damn incompetent," mine said in return. He inched away from me and continued conversation from a safe distance.

Finally, the reboarders reboarded. The new boarders' line inched forward. Knowing that we had both already missed our connecting buses, we speculated. Would it be worse to be crammed like a sardine in a bus clear to Chicago, or to be stuck in a bus station and have the chance at a less full bus next go round?

He found out what sardine land was like.

I found out about the wait. This, of course, means I never got to ask him which was better.

Stanley and Stanley tried to console me with the fact that as we were now definitely, without a doubt, first in line due to them cutting off passengers right when they got to me, there was no way we wouldn't make the next bus. I scowled. In desperation, they pointed out that Cleveland is the only major metro area through which I actually enjoy driving in rush hour traffic.

(This is due to the insanely polite Cleveland drivers. Just for fun, I do things like signal when I'm about to lane change. The kids and I, while trekking across the country, have made a game, you see, of trying to figure out which city's drivers will cut us off the fastest when we warn said drivers of our intentions. (Extra aside: Boston has a lot of NASCAR wannabes. Just sayin'.) In Cleveland, if you signal, they let you in. And it wasn't one freakishly aberrant driver who did so. It was all of them. I know. I changed lanes a lot in order to get verifiable evidence.)

I pointed out to the Stanleys that the floor of the Cleveland bus station was something less than immaculate. (If I were in Boston or Chicago, or even some of other stops, I'd have taken the floor. Cleveland? Er, no. In its defense, I must say that 3 something in the morning is hardly the best time for people, let alone floors.)

I further pointed out that they were currently hogging the best seat on top of my practical, tiny luggage and that I had made the catastrophic mistake of changing in a toilet cubicle just moments earlier and that just proved that I was in bus station hell, do not pass limbo, do not collect your connecting bus.

The Stanleys ignored my rant and inquired into why changing was a mistake. I certainly looked fresher, they pointed out (none too diplomatically).

"Because the probability of dropping an article of clothing you rather liked into a toilet bowl due to lack of toilet seat covers means that, while said water was nonetheless clean, you will be forced to stuff the beloved article of clothing into the feminine hygiene trash receptacle by its one centimeter of dry fabric since there's no way on God's green earth you'd want to take it home with you again," I snapped.

The Stanleys promptly feigned sleep. Even flat paper men behave like the real things.

There were a few bright spots in the wait, don't get me wrong. I came up with new lyrics to the tune of Boston, which, while amusing enough (Think I'm stuck in Cleveland/I'm tired of the toilets) are essentially not for younger viewers.

There was a crocheter spotted in the wild. I was too shy to get her picture, let alone talk to her, but she was lightning quick and was creating a beautiful, delicate lacy looking piece of work. I was helping Stanley with his scarf at that time (I promised I'd hook a bit of it for him) and felt large and very not delicate with his bright yarn and jaunty colored but clear plastic hook.

There was also James, the wonderful cook at the station (not that the food was great, but dude could only work with the ingredients given him--like icky fake cheese and miniscule biscuits--and bus lines obviously don't believe in buying four star quality ingredients, you know?). James was wonderful because he fed a hungry waif of a traveler a full hour before he was supposed to be open. Seriously kind man.

The Stanleys, who immediately woke up when they smelled food (did I mention the similarities between paper and real men? Just checkin'.) thought him very kind, and, after finishing my meal for me, begged to be introduced to James so they request one of their Stanley photos.

James willingly agreed to be photographed, but Katrina the cashier fell on us like a category 5 storm and said there was a policy that no photos could be taken in the station due to the threat of terrorists. James and I stared at the Stanleys; he incredulously, I with horror, wondering what vipers I had harbored in my breast when they were purporting to be an innocent schoolchild project. The Stanleys loudly protested their innocence and begged me to not take the photo, lest their camera be confiscated and they be hauled off for questioning. It's hard to hide an escape envelope on your person when you're not a person, after all.

We were sneaky, though. We didn't tell Katrina the cashier that we had already taken these:

of the two Stanleys reveling in their first in line-ness and luckily, we escaped to Chicago before the authorities got wind of our nefarious activities.

And Chicago was where I got into a line that had, at the head of it, some of the people I'd seen ahead of me in the line in Cleveland.

I'm not the type to crow meanly over the fact that they had had to wait as well. I did begrudge them the cleaner floor, though.

But there was one incident that made the whole wait worthwhile. There was an Amish family at the station, waiting to go somewhere. The son, a boy of about 7 with blond hair peeking out from under his black-banded straw hat and mischievous eyes of a deep, bright blue which exactly matched his shirt, had fallen head over heels for a little Hispanic girl of about the same age one bench over. She had ponytails which ran the length of her back and a demure smile. He found her dazzlingly beautiful and spent his time alternating between worshipping stares, shy grins coupled with quick looks away when at last he caught her eye, and feigned cool guy indifference.

The Stanleys were confused by my giggles. They thought the boy's tactics were top notch. (I'm almost certain I've already pointed out the essential sameness of men everywhere, at every age, and in every medium, have I not? Thought so. )

She, I am pleased to say, comported herself in a manner becoming to an adored object and was in general a credit to her sex.

And I got on a bus smiling. Young love does that to me every time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There's One of You Here

I've an old friend from high school days that I keep more or less in touch with, even though we've not seen each other since our early 20s (And no, I'm not gonna tell you how long that is in years. Let's keep today a happy thought day, shall we? No age reminders necessary.)

Anyway, he travels a great deal and two days ago he pinged me from the airport, via his Blackberry, with the following message:

Subject: There's one of you here

There's a lady with yellow yarn and two big needles making something?? I am trying to visualize you sitting there doing it! Hmmmm??

He's been following the blog (though he never comments--loser) and I may have mentioned to him my...mild interest...in the pursuit of all things woolly here or there. In an email or two. Not more than that. Really.

But it's interesting. I've become a "one of you," i.e. one of them, to him. A part of a larger whole. I find that amusing when I know no crocheters or knitters in the metro area, still. I mean, the one event, the Yarn Harlot signing, at which I ran into large numbers of stick and string people, I was so blown away by the knitters around me that my wee little project and its larger companion stayed safely tucked away.

I was totally intimidated by the talent on display. After all, I'm a small town bistickual, a girl from a place where the lovely Darrin of my then-LYS made me feel like I wasn't a true sticks and strings person unless I'd made the boneheaded mistake that I'd just begged her to correct. ("Don't you know you're not a knitter unless you dropped eight stitches without noticing? And of course everyone crochets a border with a cast on so tight that it makes the rectangle into a lovely semicircle. That's what we all do!") I'm by turns extremely sociable or extremely shy, so things of a groupish nature have always been a bit of an adventure for me.

And yet, I am part of a whole, in a virtual kind of way. I've found other blogging crafters, like Needle Tart, who's offered advice that was blindingly helpful, so obviously practical and so un-thought of by me that it's a wonder she didn't question my I.Q. level and whether or not I should be allowed to handle pointy objects. But the virtual community has not ended with the bloggers.

Thanks to Ravelry, I've found not only fantastic things I'd love to knit or crochet, but also crafters who are stormy weather fanatics and those who are interested in crafts in ancient times. I've joined the Ankh-Morpork Knitters Guild and the Crochet Liberation Front. And though I've been busy, I've still lurked in the Knitting for Peace, Tunisian Crochet and Pen & Needles. (Those are all Rav links, btw, so unless you're a Raveller, you won't be able to view them. Sorry.) I had no idea that there were so many obsessed-with-multiple-subject-areas people out there. Especially not people who were obsessed with so many of my obsessions. Now if there were groups for those who are interested in falconry, kayaking or wanting to train for canine search and rescue... (Then again, knowing Raverly, there might be. I'm almost afraid to check. How much groupiness could one solo crafter take?)

I've also found individualized help from a lady on Rav who knitted up an EZ Baby Surprise Jacket in just the colors I knew the new mother for whom I wanted to knit would like. Said kindly knitter provided me with the exact numbers for the three Punto colors she used. Then, when I could find only one supplier of more than a color or two of Punto in the US, L & B Yarn Co. (and they still did not have the colors I needed), I posted a plea for help in the Yarn forum of Rav and what did I get? This and this from two lovely German Ravellers who offered to help me with the ordering as well, should I have trouble with the German (the Rikes Woolmaus site offers the option to translate to English, and I even figured out the other site well enough to navigate it).

They've welcomed me in, these virtual, global knitters and crocheters. Just like that and with loads of helpful, practical encouragement. And somehow, their finished projects, breathtaking as they are, aren't nearly as intimidating as uberknitters' and ubercrocheters' projects are when viewed in person.

So, I'm a groupie from a distance? Hmmm. I noticed that another new member of the Ankh-Morpork Guild is from the Twin Cities. Perhaps I should say hello. Maybe she's had trouble counting to five on a repeat section of a pattern too? (I know it'd be too much to hope for that she's crocheted through only half of the stitch rather than all of it, or that she's ever knit backwards along a circular project.)

But J, I think you may be right. Crafting klutz though I am, I am "one of you."

Sorry, crafters. Mea culpa.