I still live!


I’m teaching more than usual this fall, and the workload snowed me under. Fork on another crisis or two and the aftermath of the last one, and I collapse into bed every night and limp to the finish every week. This is a temporary situation, I know, but I do long for a time in my life when temporary situations last a few hours or a week at most, rather than for months and possibly years. Viewed that way, this whole life is a temporary situation, and I am not yet at an age where I can think to myself, boy, it’ll sure be a relief when this is over.

I’ve been knitting. I’m 3/4 of the way through a pair of Phalangees in the green-and-gray colorway, which are coming out nicely even if I’m having trouble keeping my gauge loose enough. I’m also 3/4 done with the Hudson’s Bay blanket and aiming to put that one under the tree for the baby’s Christmas. Though I know he’ll never know the difference, it still helps me to be motivated by the deadline. I spent a lot of hours knitting that blanket while my husband was in the hospital last spring, and it’s something I feel like will be an important part of my younger son’s history. It’s occurred to me more than once that he won’t ever remember what his dad was like before the stroke. To him, there is only After. I hope he isn’t affected by such an unsettled year as we’ve had. It’s been tough on the kids, to be sure. We work hard to make everything steady and routine and unworrisome, but they know. They see. It can’t not be scary. I’d have been scared when I was their age. My older son worries, I know, but it never comes out as worry. It comes out as severe irritation that owing to Hurricane Sandy, trick-or-treating will be this Saturday instead of tonight.

I’m not feeling the Halloween this year. I usually like it better, but between the storm and unscheduled hospital time, I’ve got enough real fear happening that I don’t need to make any up. But I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble with Thankful Month. Or Tongue Awareness Month, depending on whether you observe (though it’s almost impossible not to…now).

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September, I love you.

I’m blogging to you live from Wingaersheek “How’s that spelled again?” Beach in Gloucester, MA where my in-laws have a place and we spend our summer holidays (or “summer,” if you verb that particular noun, which we do not, because it makes us sound like something we are not). Labor Day is the last hurrah, and one of my favorite times here because it’s usually nice and cool at night. It’s a bit of a bad hand for an introvert, though, because there are roughly a trillion people here for dinner each night, and that’s right about when I run out of steam and need to escape. I am currently hiding in our bedroom off the kitchen. Nobody seems to know I’m here. The wall is so thin that I might as well be in the other room, but for a little while, nobody can see me.

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My small boy has gone to bed. Poor little guy, I found him in the crush just lying down on the couch with his dankie*, glassy-eyed and silent. Both boys run themselves so much at the beach that they come home with beach fatigue for at least two days after. My older boy went out with his cousins to see the fireworks someone brought for the holiday weekend. Later, it seems a game of Uno is in the works. It’s technically his bedtime, but nobody has the heart to get on his case on the last holiday weekend of the summer. Tomorrow night, we can lower the boom. Besides, he’s still high on losing another tooth last night, after a couple of weeks of copious wiggling. We didn’t bring the usual tooth fairy treats, so were in a bit of a panic about how to represent, but his Nana came up with a good substitute.

Oh, just heard someone asking where I am. I was out there the whole time. Prove I wasn’t!

I’ve been knitting my second Francie sock and getting a great deal done on it. A few uninterrupted hours (!!) and I might even finish it. Then I have to decide how to announce that I’ve cured Second Sock Syndrome. There has to be some respectable professional journal that would be interested. It’s a serious disease! Like any cure, I suspect this will lose its effectiveness over time, but in the meantime, hey, I have two pairs of socks for the winter. I still have the little matter of needing new sweaters for work, but that’s a bit of a problem because I’ll have issues affording sweater quantities of yarn for a while yet. I don’t have much. Maybe enough for one. Perhaps if I take the odd balls of Wool of the Andes that I was saving for a blanket and make them into some sort of circus-inspired garment… I’m trying to limit my plans to knit for Christmas. My husband wants a Shetland sweater, but that won’t be done by then. Nobody wants any many-tentacled sea creatures, thank goodness. I owe one baby blanket that is mostly done, and a toddler blanket that is half done. Now that it’s getting cool, I can stomach the idea of working on the Hudson’s Bay blanket again.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year.

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Labors of love

I have everything done on the Rav Games mitts except the thumbs and finish work, but when I sat down to work on them last night, the wool was sticking to my sticky, sweaty fingers and I decided to browse online for new work clothes instead. Every few years, my boredom with my work clothes reaches its zenith and I think back on how frumpy I looked last year and how this year I’d like to look …not… like that, and I embark on a desperate, often fruitless search for clothes that will make that happen. This year has the added fun of a tiny, tiny budget, mostly made up of long-held Christmas money and aluminum can refunds and whatever they’re paying for plasma, plus whatever I think I could possibly knit out of my stash in the next month or so.

If I recall, I spent a lot of Augusts this way in high school, too. On one occasion, a truly unfortunate outfit was the result. It’s best not to be too specific, but I went to high school when Debbie Gibson was popular, if that paints an appropriately horrifying picture for you.

I’ve been holding on to my Caeles yarn for a few months, and since there are no sleeves, perhaps I could maybe do that. I also finally got around to winding another ball of natural Cascade 220 for my baby’s long-neglected Hudsons Bay blanket, because in weather like this, exactly what you want is to have a worsted wool blanket on your lap, yes/yes?

Other doings around here have been unexciting. Summer is winding down. I’m still volunteering at the historical society, but have managed to score a sitting-down job while other people are moving our archives to the new building. I’m hoping to get a look at our textile collections soon. There were several yarn companies in town once. My older boy has been going to municipal day camp for five weeks, and that ends tomorrow. Last night was the show: 101 Dalmatians. I bet you can guess what role he played. It felt like such a quintessentially parental moment that I spent most of it grinning like a fool and taking pictures. He goes back to school in three weeks, and we’re going to try to squeeze in some beach time before then. The baby turns 2 on Sept. 7, so we’ll have a cake on Labor Day weekend for him. I fail at birthdays, for the most part, but at least he’s too young to notice. I wonder if he’d like a nice woolen blanket…

Well, I don’t know that the Rav Games are actually making me more productive, but they’re making me moderately accountable, and I’ll take it. I have one of the Snapdragon mitts done up to the knuckles and cast off, and the other one halfway to that point. Thumbs and flip-tops will take about a quarter as much time as the process of picking up for the flip attachment; I’m saving that for a quiet evening after gymnastics is over. A few tinking incidents have shown me that when I want to watch the sport, I’m not going to get much (accurate) knitting done.

Last night I also managed to graft the cast-on to the live stitches on the Go Baby Go blanket for my cousin’s now month-old baby, and it was stupid-easy and I’m embarrassed for putting it off because I thought it’d be too hard. Well, that’s not true; it’s like this: I have severely limited free time right now. After I’ve played bedtime whack-a-mole with my boys, I get maybe four hours (if I stay up too late) to unwind and get serious work done. And I like those hours to be enjoyable. That means that if I walk into a knitting situation that all goes blooie, I have spent my only free hours in the day in frustration and tears, and probably have to face the problem again on another night, which means it might ruin at least two nights and not just one. So I’m not so much afraid of the knitting task as I’m anxious about spending an evening unhappily. I know that someday, long and idle evenings will probably be a dime a dozen, but I’m pretty sure my cousin is going to want this blanket before then, since when they arrive for me, the baby in question is going to be a lurchy teenage boy. I am motivated by that prospect, at least.

For the last few days, I’ve been hearing the Knit 1 Geek 2 podcast, and while I really love the energy of it, I don’t always share their geekdoms and have been wondering whether I even have the right to call myself one. I am in fact the last living human not to have read Harry Potter–that’s right; you can tell people you know me–so a lot of the squeeing goes right over my head. And I’m not really into a lot of SFF. I have a proper appreciation for Star Trek TOS, and I’m an actual fan of The Twilight Zone, but that’s about it. But I’d have plenty to do at Comic-Con. My sister’s been, and I’m burningly jealous. She got me autographed Futurama comics, and they’re among my prized possessions. I love Futurama. It’s not a show that lends itself well to knitting, but hey. I don’t know why I don’t care much for sci-fi. I like my entertainment to exist in the realm of plausibility, and occasionally a Sheldon Cooper-esque objection to whatever will crop up and spoil things for me. Futurama’s quick with the lampshade, so they get away with more. But I don’t slide easily into the sci-fi mindset. I like wrong-man stories best. It’s pretty easy to see the Venn diagram with The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock films when you think of it that way.

All of that was a long way of saying the podcast is giving me a geek cred crisis. But I take comfort in the fact that having a geek cred crisis is pretty effing geeky, so…solved.

I’ll take that September now.

The heat has been getting hotter all week, but in such tiny increments that it’s not noticeable by the day. And then I looked at the weekend report. Ugh. I don’t know how the weather always knows when the auto show is, but it is never not miserably hot for the auto show. Historic house museums are not generally where you want to be on a miserably hot day. The air circulation is minimal and the sun beats in through the windows with ferocity. I am grateful that I am not also obligated to wear a heavy wool costume of any kind, and also that I am not hugely pregnant like I was for this event two years ago. On Saturday, at least, we can camp in the office between tours, where we have a room air conditioner. 

It really says something about what the city must have been like in the heat that The Grange is where the Codmans spent the summer months. It was bad enough when I lived there long after the age of horses and public sanitation. 

I’m still knitting; #2 Jane Bennett sock is taking off. After this, I have to work on some sweaters to wear while teaching. I was going to do that last year and never got around to it, and then I had to make Christmas gifts. It always goes like that. Rocky Coast is great, but it’s warm. I need a lighter layer for the fall days when it’s chilly in the morning but too warm at lunchtime. That’s my perennial problem, since I always teach at 8 AM. Walk out of office hours at noonish and get heatstroke on the way back to my car. 

This week, while knitting, I’m re-watching The IT Crowd, which is the bastard love child of Seinfeld and the U.K. version of The Office. If you haven’t seen this, I cannot recommend it more. I’m only sorry I can’t see it again for the first time. The humor’s fairly broad, but it mercilessly lampoons goths, and for that alone is worth a shot. My sister, who recently launched Nerdise On Books, put me on to it. She has excellent taste! Plus, Roy and Moss’s two central questions (1: Did you turn it off and on again? and 2: Are you sure it’s plugged in?) have made me an IT hero at my volunteer gig this summer. It’s pleasant to occasionally be of value in a workplace, you know?

Second recommendation: I’ve been loving the Knitmore Girls’ podcast. I picked up a bunch of new podcasts from the list in the sample issue of Knit Edge, and this is my favorite so far. It’s a mother-daughter duo, and they have a nice energy and their conversations are about a wide range of crafts. I wish they were from my coast! Their events sound terrific, but since they’re in San Jose and I’m in Massachusetts…no. I’m really glad people are still making podcasts, honestly. I have no real need for regular radio, and this way, it’s like I have a radio show about knitting whenever I want to listen to something about knitting. Plus, they give honest book reviews rather than advertorials, and sometimes it seems like everyone’s selling something and nobody is willing to say something isn’t worth buying, so that’s really valuable to me. I take their reviews seriously for that reason.

Next time, I hope to have a second finished Jane sock! Really determined to conquer this, and before the Games-that-shall-not-be-named. 

Reblogging the much more rational thoughts of a friend–I’m still too angry about this whole affair to write it for myself, and besides, she says it very well. When a corporation can restrict free speech by sending C&D letters to a non-monetized social network that lacks the wherewithal to defend itself in court, we are truly under the boot of moneyed interests. Olympic spirit, my ass. This isn’t how you celebrate the efforts of athletes, this is how you kiss up to sponsors. Deeply disappointing. But to denigrate knitters by suggesting that the Ravelympics somehow denigrates athletes? Hypocritical and plain mean. Read the letter for yourself. I’ll be back when this vein in my forehead stops throbbing.

knitprints

Once upon a time, a little knitting and crochet website called Ravelry ran a fun competition encouraging excellence in the fiber arts to coincide with that worldwide juggernaut of culture, education, and athleticism, the Olympics. Knitters and crocheters and spinners and weavers are all encouraged to park their rears on a comfy couch and tune into the games while crafting away. Advertisements are enjoyed, athletic feats are celebrated, and some good-natured ribbing of the rivals takes place too.

Then, one day, a very large organization sent a letter to the little fiber arts website so as to defend their trademark, which is normal practice. Admirably, it states that “the Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.” Not shockingly, many knitters support these values too. I mean, we can’t ALL be uncultured criminals hell-bent on war-mongering.

But wait!…

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SockFail

I actually had several uninterrupted hours yesterday to knit something Serious, so I decided to once again set myself up for failure with socks. I could do another whole blog called SockFail after the last year. One pair of plain came out well for my older boy, but other than that, I have a legacy of single socks and half-finished first socks. It’s a very good thing we aren’t depending on me. 

Another knitter would decide that socks just aren’t her thing and move on to something else, and to be fair, I have done that a little. I have successfully completed other things. And I have come around on blankets, which someone I know has been kind enough not to point out that I once thought were a complete waste of time. So I don’t know why I keep torturing myself by falling in love with sock patterns, attempting to make them from my considerable stash of sock yarn, and failing. 

New Knitty is up! I got as far as the article on Lion yarns and the middy jumper pattern by Franklin Habit, and then the website informed me that there are too many users, and so I must wait until later. I’m going on with towels and dishcloths, attempting to use up the bag of cotton yarn sitting in my room, being messy. Did I ever tell you that though I am messy, I can’t just surrender to it and be happy? It’s like I subconsciously enjoy the reproach of my messy house. I would adore to live in a house that was in a constant perfect state of cleanliness, especially if I weren’t charged with maintaining it that way. I dream of a house where there is room for things to be used and then put away easily. One half of my family lives like this, and the other half does not. So I’ve grown up with the desire, but not the will. I do need to clean out this place, though. We’re here seven years in September, and we’ve added two kids and a veritable mountain of clothes and gear for them. And it was none too large a place to begin with. Some things have got to go. I think I’m going to go room-to-room with a plastic bin and just focus on decluttering–by completely emptying to the bin, sorting, and putting back only what goes there–one thing at a time. It’s too bad the two-year-old will want to help. He wanted to help me write a blog post today. He does this by slamming the laptop on my hands as I type.