Saturday, March 31, 2007

Guided By Wire

Apparently I was on the right track with poking the needles from the wrong side through the right side and back, although I didn't know it. I was under the impression that the needle shaft wouldn't be seen at all on the right side. Wrong. (Don't ask how I expected the shaft would fit between the right and wrong side surfaces.) And no, I didn't felt it too much. The roll was never going to cover the whole needle.

I also realize that if I do cut the FO, I need to cut all the way through it. I don't know if I have the heart to do that. It was hard enough puncturing the holder with the US 11s and feeling as though I was ruining my work.

The good news is that I know what I'm doing, sort of. I suppose I just need to have more confidence in myself.

On that note, Donna posted something on her blog yesterday that floored me. I can totally relate to the sentiment expressed in her March 30 entry:
"I've always wanted to be an adult. Even as a child I enjoyed adult company more than that of my peers. I still don't feel like an adult, though -- at airports, I wait to be discovered and hustled to the office, an unaccompanied minor who got loose. I'm nervous about how to pay for taxis or order drinks. I wonder if I'll ever feel grown up."
I could have written this, so it rattles me some to read someone else saying it. As a kid I was always "mature for my age". I think anyone looking at me would I assume I have it together. Do I? I feel less and less like that's the case despite appearances.

I get what she's saying here, and I'm sure it has a lot to do with why I often lack the confidence in my own abilities. It doesn't stop me from soldiering on, at least in some areas, but it can undermine my satisfaction with what I've done. At another place in the entry she mentions feeling like an impostor. Me too, me too. There are times I feel like a fraud waiting to be found out even though there's nothing to uncover...I don't think. (Lest I sound like a shambles, let me add that I'm comfortable with who I am, although that doesn't mean I'm happy with everything.)

I was thinking about this today while shopping for some yarn and needles at JoAnn's. For whatever reason I don't feel like I'm trespassing any longer. I have every right to be there. I know what I'm looking for and know where to find it as long as it's in the yarn section. (I wander aimlessly in the rest of the store.) I'm in my sixth month as a knitter, and it feels like I've found something that's a core part of my being. Maybe that makes sense, maybe it doesn't.

As proof of my knitter DNA, I submit that I currently have three projects on the needles. The baby blanket is still on the circs awaiting my attention. I began a baby bib on bamboo needles because I haven't knit with bamboo except for my practice piece. Since I couldn't find any patterns I liked for a cat mat, I'm fiddling around with my own design based on the meager information given here (check 11/19/05). I experimented with knitting a row using the English method. (For unknown reasons I use the continental method despite being taught the English method.) It was really awkward, so I went back to the familiar way. I want to learn to knit by wrapping with my right hand, but I'm better off saving such attempts for another practice piece.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Felted and uncut

Felted needle holder

Yarn: Lion Wool (100% wool; worsted weight)
Colors: Cadet blue, ebony, sage, and winter white
Needles: US 8s
Stitches: 40

OK, so I've finished this thing. Now how do I get it to hold needles?

I tried inserting the needles through the felt, but all I could do was push it through to the other side. That's not what's supposed to happen. I've been reassured that I can cut the fabric, but how exactly do you do that? With much dread I ran a scissor across the wrong side, but it didn't seem to do anything. That's probably just as well.

I've looked at the picture with the pattern (linked above) and searched for instructions, but I've come up short in finding additional help. I seem to have the most problems with the parts that apparently don't require much explanation. That's why I sewed in ends incorrectly for the longest time. Any clues for the clueless?

If you're wondering why the color pattern isn't symmetrical, it's because I wasn't really thinking about it when I finished the first section.

In other calls for help, does anyone know of any patterns for a cat mat? I'm going to another film festival in less than a month, this time in Illinois, and wanted to make one for some friends I meet up with there. Also, suggestions for future projects would be appreciated. I'm kind of stumped about what to work on now that the weather is warming up.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adventures in Felting

Another new year's knitting resolution can be crossed off the list. I felted something for the first time.

Despite having to carry four skeins of yarn with me, the felted needle holder was a great project for knitting at the film festival. Thanks for the suggestion, Jenn! It was easy to pull out for short periods of knitting before and between films and knit quickly. I hadn't knit in stockinette before and was really impressed with how it looked. Sewing in the numerous ends wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but slowly I'm getting better and faster at this finishing skill.

Of course, there was still the matter of felting. Kristin gave me some good advice, including finding a wash protector bag for my project. (There was a dollar store in the mall where the festival was held.) I put some old jeans in the washer along with my needle holder and hoped for the best. I knew what the water temperature was supposed to be, but once at the washer, I couldn't remember if there was a particular cycle I should use. I ran it through the knits and delicates cycle, but that didn't appear to have an appreciable effect. I checked it after one regular cycle and thought it might need a little more felting time. I washed it on a shortened regular cycle and guessed that the felting was complete.

It didn't appear to shrink much, probably because it was knit tightly on US 8s. I didn't have to do a lot of shaping either. It emerged from the washer looking how it should. Pretty neat!

If there's one thing that concerns me, it's what I do now. The pattern says, "Insert needles through the felt for storage. Felt, once made, will not unravel like knitting does, so if necessary, cut holes in the felt for larger needles." It seems wrong to poke the needles through the material. The idea of cutting the project isn't appealing either. I'm going to let it sit out and dry overnight. I'll decide how to approach this final step in the morning.

FYI, I made my first post to the Kniterati blog. It's my advice to new knitters. Perish the thought--me giving knitting advice! If I'm having a particularly lazy or uninspired day, I might repost it here, but for now, you can check it out as a Kniterati exclusive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Quotes

I remember a sign hanging in the room where my high school Sunday school class met. It had the image of a tape recorder, or maybe it was a reel-to-reel. I don't recall the exact words, but the message was something about carefully choosing what you say because God hears and remembers all.

That sounds a lot more paranoid and Orwellian than it actually was and as it was intended, but my memory is too fuzzy to give a clearer picture. (It kind of freaked me out at the time, though.) Regardless, I think it must have made an impact on me because I am careful with what I say, although that doesn't stop me from sticking my foot in my mouth plenty. That's related more to foolishness than nastiness anyway.

The reason I bring this up is because today my words from a year and a half ago were brought into the present...and in the pages of the New York Times, no less. Don't believe me? Check the next to last paragraph of this article about museum renovations. (If you have the paper, go to page H18.) Now I have ammunition for family members who don't think anyone reads what I write.

My quote comes from something I wrote on my movie blog on September 21, 2005. It was a short, tossed-off item with as short of a shelf life as anything I've written there. How the reporter found it escapes me. (OK, probably through Google but you understand.)

I was completely unaware of this until someone from the arts center e-mailed me. Seeing it was really, really weird. Since my office is in the library, I went upstairs to look at it in print. It would have been surreal enough if I knew it was coming. Being surprised by it exponentially increased the weirdness factor. I have to get a copy of this to keep. Would it have killed the Times to give me a link on their website, though? :)

So now my secrecy here makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Odds and ends

Taking a few days off has really knocked me off my rhythm, but this is the last I'll mention the delays in writing up Cleveland. It feels like trying to do three or four entries in one, which is why I'm stalling. I've been swamped since returning. The spring quarter began yesterday, and I've been at regular screenings each night I've been back (and another tomorrow). I just need some time to regain my stride. In the meantime, odds and ends...

T-minus sixty days and counting until I move. Frankly, I'm worried that I won't have everything ready to go. I have the local film festival for four days in April. (I help with the programming.) I'll be gone five days at the end of next month for another film festival. I've done some work in the past month, but having accomplished practically nothing toward the move in the last ten days, I'm beginning to feel the pressure again.

File under "It's Funny Because It Hurts"... Today I learned that one of the two students I will have for a producing practicum is...wait for of my problematic next door neighbors. (Insert symbols indicating strong vulgarity.) It is the fulfillment of everything I've feared since students began moving into this place. The grade is earned based on time and effort put into the process, not on the finished product so much, and as a staff member, I don't sign off on the grade given. (The situation here wouldn't impact any grade I might suggest, but it seems ripe for trouble.) It's up to the registered students to see me and determine how they're going to meet the requirements of the one credit hour course. That may be my safeguard. He may not bother checking in with me at all. I also wouldn't be surprised if he dropped it. I could only be so lucky.

I've finished knitting the felted needle holder. I have lots of ends to sew in before the felting can begin. I thought about doing that tonight, but maybe it's time to get back to knitting the baby blanket that's been put to the side for a couple weeks. I recorded American Idol and this evening's Blue Jackets game, so I have plenty of TV to accompany knitting. I might as well erase the hockey game if I want to get any sleep, though.

The list of things to write is eight miles high. Four days of film festival coverage, knitting-related stories from the fest, a few reviews of films in regular release, some other reviews, a creative piece or two, an introductory Kniterati post that's been percolating for awhile...that's all.

Anyway, that's what's going on. From the little of it that I enjoyed, the weather was wonderful today. Cut to this time of year's recurring moan about working in the basement and fade to black.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Melts in your mouth

The lingering effects of festival fatigue carried over. For most of today I've felt like a train ran over me, so I'll have to postpone stories from the last four days in Cleveland. I just don't have the energy to put them all down at the moment.

But maybe there's time enough for one brief one... Kristin also attended the festival, and during one of our knitting sessions between films, she taught me a trick that's pretty cool. I'm guessing the more experienced knitters out there, which is basically every single one of you, already know this secret, but it was new to me.

I was making excellent progress on my felted needle holder when the time came to stop because the rush was on to get to the next film. I finished the row, pulled out the scissors, and cut the yarn since I was at the end of this part of the pattern. Except I wasn't. I had one more row to do. Let's not blame the martinis at the festival happy hour party for the mistake. This was purely a matter of getting in a hurry and doing something dumb.

It was another sort of whistle-wetting, of course, that provided the solution. That's right, Kristin taught me how to spit splice. She unraveled the strands and explained what I needed to do. Rather than spit in my hand (in the middle of a mall, no less), I elected to put the two intertwined ends in my mouth to felt them. That's much less conspicuous. I rubbed the dampened yarn between my hands. Like magic the severed ends were reconnected.

How cool is that?!

I came upon a bad spot in the yarn while knitting the holder's tie tonight, so I had to put more wool in my mouth to join it where I had severed it to remove the offending portion. It worked like a charm.

The things I've learned...

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Hello again, dear readers. I know it must seem like an eternity since I last posted. It does to me.

There are tales to tell but not right now. I had an enjoyable time at the festival, but I discovered my breaking point. My head said to stay for the final film, my body said no. I stuck around, but the combination of an overly self-conscious quirky comedy, the festivalgoer Kristin dubbed The Howler Monkey sitting behind me, and physical and mental fatigue led me to do what I never do: walk out halfway through a movie and make the two-hour drive back home.

I feel beat, although it's probably not anything a decent night's sleep can't cure. Granted, that's a rare commodity here at home (for two more months), but I think I'll feel much better getting some rest and only seeing one movie in a day.

I intended to post entries while I was gone, but my hotel room was on the wrong side of the building to snag the neighboring inn's free wifi signal. There's just no way I could justify dropping $30 for three nights of internet access at my accommodations, and I didn't feel like lugging around the laptop while at the festival.

That did leave for a fair bit of knitting time and stories related to it, but I'm ready to collapse at this moment. It was good to be gone, and it's good to be back. More to come in the following days...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's next

I have decided upon my knitting project for this weekend at the film festival. Using the yarn pictured above, I will be making a felted needle holder. This project will mark my first time felting, working in stockinette, and binding off in a different way to form the holder's tie. I didn't want to use seven colors, which the pattern recommends, in part because it would have been too much to take with me. The sage and ebony yarn got the call when I couldn't find scarlet and goldenrod at two JoAnn's. I'm hoping to cast on tonight and do a couple rows so I can pick up with it during some downtime at the festival on Thursday.

Considering yesterday's unmitigated productivity disaster, things balanced out today with one of the most effortless writing days I may have ever experienced. (Some might snarkily say that it shows. Those people can keep quiet and let me enjoy being done.) I wrote two reviews at the office this afternoon and then whipped out a Pride review in about an hour after arriving home from the screening. It is never this easy. Never, never, never. This means that the biggest work-related monkey that could have been on my back all weekend has been shaken off.

So I'm ready to enjoy the next four days of films, knitting, the offerings from the food court, and free wifi at Panera. Like last weekend, I'll attempt to keep up my daily blogging, although it will depend in part if I can snag a wifi signal from the nearby hotel at night. In the meantime, happy knitting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


You know, this is one of those days when everything caught up with me. I had big plans for getting work done so that I wouldn't be stressing out about it while I'm away this weekend. Didn't happen. I had an idea for today's blog entry, but it seemed less interesting once I sat down to write it. (Never fear, I'll get to it in a paragraph.) I intended to watch the Blue Jackets game, but once I laid down on the couch, I simply couldn't stay awake. While a 7:00 p.m. nap hit the spot, it's probably going to wreck my sleep tonight. So yeah, it's not been a productive day.

Anyway, what I was going to write about was keeping a journal. I guess I've seen enough movies that I've come to think of such writing as something done with a quill and inkwell by candlelight. Oh, and the writer probably is wearing bifocals. Nobody keeps journals or diaries any longer, right? It was something for fusty oldsters, but that time has passed. (To confuse matters more, I can't say I believe that I really thought this except in the broadest terms. See I told you this wasn't going to work.)

When I wrote from the road this past weekend I realized that my blogging serves the same purpose, even if it is in a public forum. It's become something that I do toward the end of the day. While I may filter what I write about through knitting--not always, but as a general organizing principle--it's still a way of reflecting on my day. I've always been a thinker, perhaps too much of one. Emptying that stuff out has been good for me. I needed to update the blog as a means of completing the day.

Will I be interested to go back and see what mundane and inconsequential things I've written about? Honestly, I'll probably be mortified. I cringed reading some of the old writings that had been kept at my parents' home. (These weren't journal entries. Until I started this site, I've been pretty bad at doing any personal writing on a regular basis.) Yet I see the value in doing this, even at times like this when I'm flailing around and doing nothing but stringing words together. I guess that's where I am today.

In other news, The Kniterati had their kick-off meeting last night. Way to go Jenn!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Film festival slippers

All-Time Favorite Slippers

Yarn: Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds (72% acrylic, 25% wool, 3% viscose; bulky)
Color: Dark forest green
Needles: US 10s
Stitches: 28

It really doesn't take any time to make these, does it?

I knitted most of the left slipper at the film festival and finished it at home last night. I knitted most of the right slipper tonight. Now they're done!

These are a much better fit than my first pair. In theory there shouldn't be any difference in the size, although I used bulky weight this time and double wrapped worsted weight the first time. I measured my feet and ended up sticking to the pattern's suggested length. Whatever the difference, these won't go flopping off my feet. I also did a better job of drawing the yarn tightly at the toes. It's the third time I've knitted these slippers. (The others were for my mom.) I think I have the knack of them now.

I've tended to knit the same things over and over. That might sound boring to you. Occasionally it can be. The advantage of this method is that I get a good grasp on how to correctly make whatever it is. (Pardon the split infinitive. It doesn't sound right any other way.) I don't mean to diminish my first attempts at objects, but as you'd expect, my second FO tends to be an improvement over the first and so on.

These slippers were my project for my first weekend at the film festival. I'm going back for four days beginning on Thursday and could use some suggestions. I know some were made before and dismissed or put on hold, so let me put clarify what I'd like to do even though I don't know what that is.

First, if I'm in the theater or hallway, I don't have a lot of light. Anything that requires frequently reading the knitting or detailed instructions probably isn't the best choice. Second, there's not a lot of room in my bag for yarn and the WIP. This upcoming weekend I may relieve myself of the laptop I carried around during the day, but either way, I'm probably restricted to a couple skeins. Third, I have a limited knowledge base of what I can make. If I haven't thought of something that seems obvious, it's because I'm still very new to all this. I'm willing to knit something different but need some guidance. Fourth, it must have practical use. In other words, I'm not going to knit a cat toy because I don't have a cat. That should cover it.

If you care to read about what I saw at the festival, I've posted recaps of everything on my movie site. (There's a link to it here. Yes, I'm still going through these contortions to shield search engines from drawing too direct a link between this knitblog and my film blog.) I might tack up one more post there with grades and some random observations that didn't make it into the other entries, or I might be satisfied that I produced all that text and consider this weekend in the books.

Hello to my secret pal Starfish from Favorite Color Swap 2 and everyone visiting here via the yarn swap entry on her knitblog. Feel free to have a look around.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More film festival knitting

And I'm back. That went fast.

In a surprise twist, sanity prevailed. Out of nineteen sessions, I went to twelve of them. That might sound like a lot--it is--but last year I went to a film in each available slot over six days. In comparison, keeping this year's schedule looks like asceticism.

I bypassed 9:30 a.m. screenings, as I swore to do, but decided to tough it out for Saturday's midnight session. Go figure, the Norwegian slasher pic Cold Prey, a thoroughly mainstream movie, is my favorite so far. (Hooray for Norway. Cold Prey and Reprise are my top two of the first weekend. I liked that country's films at last year's fest.)

I skipped the late afternoon (4:15-4:45) rounds on Friday and Saturday. I stayed for a 4:15 starter today and then embarked for home. Tonight's two evening sessions weren't enough of a draw, and I was feeling the day's effect. I had to rush from film to film with barely enough time to scarf down lunch. My eyes were getting tired, and I felt weary. Not the best combination for getting behind the wheel for two hours, but leaving when I did allowed me to make about half of the drive while the sun was out. Anyway, I'd seen plenty to satisfy me until I return to the festival for Thursday through Sunday.

The trip was over in the blink of an eye, but it was good to get out of town for a few days. I didn't get quite as much sleep as I thought I might. Being the early bird got me a good parking spot for St. Patrick's Day but an hour's less of slumber. On Friday I got the soundest night of sleep I've had in ages. Even if it's of the rushed variety, I was able to do some writing. What's done is done.

And I did some knitting. I don't have much left to finish one slipper, so I made good use of time that would have otherwise consisted of sitting with nothing to do. It did initiate some conversations, although that was mostly reserved for chats with old ladies. I'm not sure if knitting kept people away, but when I knitted in the theater beforehand, I don't think I had anyone sit next to me.

I know it sounds crazy to say that seeing that many movies is work. Trust me, it is. I have to credit the knitting for giving me a break, even if it was just for twenty minutes at a time.

Next weekend is a dicier proposition for knitting in public. It's likely that I will cross paths with some people who don't know about my secret. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

Apparently St. Patrick's Day is a big deal in Cleveland. Here you can get an idea of how many people drifted into the mall after the parade. I got out of my second movie and encountered this mass of people, many of whom had been celebrating strenuously. This was not a good time to seek somewhere to eat, but it was a must since a running time error in the festival program meant that my first two films were separated by ten minutes, not thirty-five. I was starving and in search of something substantial.

One of the other places in the mall had a 90-minute wait for a seat, so I ended up at Panera Bread. The line to order wasn't too bad, but to give you some idea of the number of people flowing through, they had an employee checking receipts before allowing customers to use the restrooms. Since I decided to bail on the 4:15 session again, I had plenty of time to do some writing until the laptop battery died.

While I was finishing my festival update, another attendee stopped by my table to ask what I had seen. (I'm identifiable as a festivalgoer because I wear the pass in a lanyard.) I rattled off what I had taken in so far. She then asked if I was a knitter because my bag was open and a skein was in plain view. I said that I was--there would be no denying it even if I wanted to--so I ended up talking about knitting for a little bit.

After writing all that I could, I returned to the theaters to wait in line for my next film. The current one hadn't let out yet, so I plopped onto the floor and resumed working on the slipper. One of the festival workers asked me about what I was doing and thought it was neat that I was knitting and mentioned that it was hip right now. Someone else saw me--well, a lot of someones saw me when the theater emptied--but a woman gave me a card with information about a weekly Stitch 'n Bitch meeting in Lakewood. I explained that I don't live here. I might have to seek something like that out at home, though.

I've knitted almost seven inches, so it's possible that I might get one slipper done this weekend. Not bad considering how busy I've been.

Friday, March 16, 2007

On the road

Neither a drained laptop battery nor the lack of free wifi at my hotel can keep me from posting from the road tonight. My accommodations charge an arm and a leg for internet access--$10 for 24 hours--so I'm mooching off the signal coming from a nearby hotel.

I thought I might get an entry posted from the film festival location, but by the time I would have been able to work on it, my depleted computer battery unceremoniously shut down everything. It took a little bit of trickery on my part to get access to my dashboard as the free wifi service's filtering program blocks all things Blogger and Blogspot. Panera's doesn't, though.

My first day at the festival went well. The drive up passed quickly. Although two of the films I saw get qualified positive reviews from me--they're niche documentaries--I liked three of the four films I took in. I skipped one session to take my time getting something to eat and getting some writing finished. The battery life held out long enough for me to get one entry posted on my film blog.

With the computer out of commission until I got to the hotel, I used some of my free time to knit. I cast on the stitches for a pair of slippers prior to the Norwegian film I was seeing at 6:45. Another critic from Columbus who I expected to cross paths with at some point was also there. I didn't mind if she knew my knitting secret, so I kept at it while we talked. I had more than an hour from the end of that film to the start of a documentary about house music DJs. I found a spot in the middle of the mall concourse to knit for awhile. As the film's start time approached I relocated to knitting in the theater.

I finished three inches, so I'm thinking I might be able to get at least one slipper completed while I'm at the festival. How cool is that? It's nice having internet access between films, but lugging the laptop around is kind of a pain.

I did receive a couple comments about knitting at the festival. One woman said that I had inspired her to bring her crochet projects along next time. Another asked what I was making and praised me for what I was doing. It's official: old ladies love me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


What a busy day. Two screenings (Korean monster movie The Host and anti-neoconservative vigilante film Shooter), tying up some loose ends at work, and trying to prepare to head to Cleveland for three days. And on maybe five hours of sleep for the second night in a row! (It was a long night with my yelling friends.)

Surprisingly I've spent almost no time watching the first day of the NCAA Tournament. For the uninitiated, it's the Division I men's college basketball competition, otherwise known as one of the most gambled on sporting events of the year in the U.S. This is the first time in awhile that I haven't had any money in a pool, but I did enter my brackets in the group set up for those in what is lovingly called a movie nerd discussion board.

I watched less college hoops this season than I ever have, meaning I put as little thought into my picks as possible. I didn't pore over the capsule information about each team in the Monday USA Today like I usually do. I didn't even pay attention to records. I just went line by line through the brackets and made snap selections. Watch me have one of my best years prognosticating the winners.

I have won a pool or two in the past, but more often than not my heart ends up overruling my head in these things. I'll side with what I want to see happen--ACC teams, Duke and North Carolina especially, flaming out; my favorite team (when they're in the field) and their conference representatives going too far; too many first round upsets--than what I expect is reasonable. This year I took a more levelheaded or gut instinct approach, so we'll see how it pays off. (It's why I didn't take Xavier to beat Ohio State.) My picks are more conservative, although somehow Selection Sunday commentator raving influence me to have Georgetown winning the whole ball of wax.

If you tried to leave a comment on this post the other day and couldn't, it's because my settings got fouled up. Everything is back to normal.

Jenn invited me to be a contributor for The Kniterati, a new blog for her knitting group. (I can take credit for the name.) I was hoping to post something there today, obviously because I am insane and a terrible judge of time some days. Seeing as the group is in Arkansas, I'll have to be an honorary member. I'll let you know when I write something there unless I'm devious and double post.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to JoAnn's, so I have yarn for my film festival knitting. I'm going to work on a properly sized pair of slippers for myself. I haven't had much time to knit all week, so I'm looking forward to devoting some moments to the needles and yarn.

I checked out a laptop from work, so I intend to keep the entries coming while I'm on the road. There should be more activity over at my film blog, which I hope to update a couple times each day. We'll see how that goes. I've committed to skipping the 9:30 a.m. and midnight sessions, so I think it's doable unless I opt for sleep. God knows I'm not getting any here. The forecast is poor for tonight, so it could be tempting to get eight hours for the first time in ages.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In the bag

As promised, here's a photo of the lovely bag Kristin's friend Chandra made. It's St. Patrick-y while not being so holiday specific that it can only be toted around one day of the year. Of course, I'm due the credit or blame in this department since I picked the fabric.

A peek inside finds pockets everywhere. I think Chandra did a terrific job, which is no surprise since I love the messenger/knitting bag she made me. I'm impressed with how the pattern lines up when the outside pocket is closed. And she got it done so quickly too! My mom is going to love it.

As for the birthday gifts I made that went inside, here are the slippers, coffee cup cozy, and flower pin. I forgot that I made the dishcloth as well, but I remembered in time to put it in the package I mailed today.

After last night's pissy post about struggling to sew the pin back onto the flower pin, I managed to get it attached so that it shouldn't come off. (I should probably be more concerned about my parents' dog eating it.) You would have laughed if you had seen the mess I was making trying to sew it on with the thread pulling from the spool.

I determined that perhaps I needed to cut the thread. I cut probably twice as much, if not more, than was necessary, so I still had my share of challenges. Complicating matters was the fact that to center the pin back I needed to sew through where the flower was while not going through the flower. It isn't centered, but it's on. Mission accomplished.

Jenn has suggested a couple projects for my film festival knitting breaks. I think she may be overestimating what I'm capable of, but I appreciate her faith in what I can do. I may give one of them a go.

That said, I make some silly mistakes. I was telling Kristin that the slippers I made myself were too big probably because of the yarn I used. She asked if I measured my feet. Um, no. I just followed the directions for men's sizes. I used the same flawed logic in making my mom's. If they don't fit, I have plenty of the yarn left to knit them again. But I'd rather not, if I can help it.

I will be knitting slippers for myself again, so at worst I'll have that or dishcloths to knit during down time at the festival. I'm looking forward to the time away from home and my "yelling friends", i.e. my obnoxious student neighbors back to their worst ways with spring break here. ("Yelling friends" comes from a cute story Donna told me about an observation her daughter made. Donna, if you're ever in need of a fallback blog entry, that would be a good one.) And with that, it's time for me to figure out what I'm going to see this weekend while enjoying the melodious voices of my yelling friends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And sew it goes

Kristin gave me some pointers on sewing the pin back onto the flower pin. Tonight I've been trying to do it but am obviously not understanding something. Do I cut the amount of thread I think I need or let it unwind from the spool? How do you keep it from tangling? This is one of those things that's so simple that I can't find an explanation. Have I looked really hard? No, mostly because I'm tired and want to get this done. I'm taking a break to blog and will try again when I'm done here.

Today I received the bag for my mom and think it turned out very well. There wasn't much patterned fabric to pick from at JoAnn's by the time I looked, but what I chose covers St. Patrick's Day and seems appropriate for spring. I'm quite impressed how quickly Chandra whipped out this bag and think it'll be a big hit. Rather than take a picture of it in my apartment, I'll snap one outside tomorrow for posting. Then it's into the mail for the bag and my hand-knit gifts.

While it's not the same as when I gave all the scarves I knitted for Christmas, I'm excited to send what I made and what I had someone else make to my mom for her birthday. There's nothing wrong with buying this stuff from a store, but I feel like I've been able to come up with more personal gifts this way.

It's probably apparent that I want to do well at everything, or at least feel like I put in my full effort regardless of the result. (Then again, who doesn't?) So yeah, it feels good to believe I've put the right amount of thought into these gifts. That sounds like bragging, which isn't how I mean it. (I'm hardly one to trumpet my own accomplishments. I regret to say that I don't always take compliments well either, not that I don't want them. But that's for another time...) I'm happy that I'm giving things that are unexpected and will be well liked. I suppose I'm allowed some satisfaction there without believing I'm patting myself on the back.

Anyway, I'm rambling and ought to return my focus to the pin back. Photos tomorrow...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Booking it

I've seen this meme a couple places, and since I'm pressing for something to write about today (and actually should be writing a review of The Lives of Others and putting the finishing touches on Zodiac), I'm going to take the easy way out today.

I'm taking some liberties with the rules. If the title is in bold, I've read it. If it's in italics, I've seen a film adaptation. If it is in bold and italics, I've read it and seen the film. I'll also comment along the way...

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

-I have zero interest in reading this, even if just to see what's made this the one book that people who don't read have read. The film was a snooze.

2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

-The most recent film version made my top ten for the year. A really lovely movie.

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

-Hasn't everyone who attended junior high in the US had to read this?

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

-I was never much into fantasy books. I suppose if I'm to start anywhere, this would be the place to do it.

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

-I saw plenty of Disney Channel shows based on this, for what it's worth.

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

-Irving's book is better and significantly different than Simon Birch.

15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)

-I remember reading this in high school, but I don't think I ever finished it.

19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

-I probably read this more than any of the books on this list. For my junior year of high school it was such an illicit thrill to write a paper justifying the use of obscenity in the novel and quoting said words. Oooooh.

23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

M. Night Shyamalan, meet the next movie you should make. Truthfully, though, I don't think a film can do it proper justice. How can you make it without it seeming totally preposterous?

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

-Might have read it when I was younger, but the only reason I say that is I remember what the cover looked like. Inconclusive evidence means I can't count it.

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

-Color me crushed to watch the film and find the first several hundred pages of the book cast aside.

30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible

-I'm claiming credit here, although I know I haven't read the whole thing. Hey, it's big!

46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

-Owned but mostly unread.

55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

I might have read this, but I can't say for sure. And you know what the live-action film did to me.

81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

-Can't say I remember either all that well, but I know I read some S.E. Hinton as a kid.

97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

By my count that's 22 I've read, an unimpressive number that looks worse if pulling out the Harry Potter books. I've seen films of 37 of these titles.

Then again, this list is all over the place. It's a mishmash of accepted classics and recent bestsellers. My tastes run toward the literary canon and contemporary authors such as Nick Hornby, Douglas Coupland, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Chabon, and Dave Eggers.

My mom had me on an Agatha Christie kick when I was in junior high. I read a lot of The Three Investigators titles, so it should be no surprise that I am a Hitchcock fanatic, even if he had the most cursory of ties to the books. Encyclopedia Brown books were favorites too. Hmm, I guess I liked reading mysteries.

I tend to read in bursts. Unfortunately I haven't invested much time in reading novels in the past year. Zadie Smith's On Beauty remains half-read from two Christmases ago. (What I read was really good.) I started Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which is not the textbook it sounds like, but, you know, things got busy.

Not like I need anything else on my plate, but what do you recommend? What are you reading?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Two knit gifts

Garter stitch eyelet dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar 'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Faded denim
Needles: US 6s
Stitches: 41

OK, so it's more of a rhombus than a proper square, and there are some flaws in the knitting... It's a dishcloth. I don't feel so bad about the mistakes here than in something made to be worn.

I must have forgotten to do a yarn over at one point, which led to my adventure in increasing. A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. I thought I made two stitches out of one to get me back to the correct number, but somehow I was still a stitch low. I thought maybe it would be better to knit into the front and back of a stitch to increase, so I did that. Why did I think this? Who knows?

The problem, as I soon discovered, was that it was like I had a permanent yarn over stitch. Eventually I got rid of it when at another point I ended up with a stitch too many and knitted two together.

But I think I wove in the ends well on this.

Kristin's Jazzy Coffee Cup Cozy

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic; worsted weight) and Bernat Satin (100% acrylic; worsted weight)
Color: 5 or 23 (green) and silk
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 50

Another day and more stalling on what I really need to be doing. So why not knit another coffee cup cozy? This should bring an end to what I'm making my mom for her birthday. Knitting four items in about a week's time isn't bad, even if they're mostly on the small side.

This means it's time to go back to the baby blanket. It's for the best that I set it aside most of last week. I wasn't in any mindset to be working on it. I'm not sure that I am now either, but I'm hoping I'll have it together to crank out the rest of it within a week or so.

I want to start something else, though. Trading off between the blanket and another project seems like the way to keep me from getting exasperated at how many stitches are left in the blanket. Also, it's getting too large to be portable in my bag. I'm considering getting some bulky yarn to make myself another pair of slippers. (The first one I made is coming apart.) I have a pattern for mittens, which might be good for teaching me some shaping, but with the temperature headed north, it doesn't seem like the timeliest project.

Any ideas? (Don't say socks. Not yet.) It's going to be my film festival down time project, at least for those breaks when I'm not writing blog updates.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Birthday gift knitting

With my mom's birthday a week away, I began one more project to include in a package to send her. I've already made slippers and a flower pin. A dishcloth has been added to the mix. I'm making the garter stitch eyelet pattern found here. I started a different one but scrapped it after I made a couple mistakes. (I mistook a couple loops from knitting two together as dropped stitches.) This pattern has significantly less k2tog (and no p2tog), so it's a quicker knit, which appeals to me in my agitated state.

Since she asked if I could make her Christmas scarf (FOs #3) wider, I may end up using the large amount of bouclé left over from the slippers to make another scarf for her...but not in time for her birthday. I've been putting off movie review writing, so there's no chance I'll knit a scarf between now and when I'd have to mail her package in time for delivery next Saturday. It's getting warmer anyway.

My projects are secondary to the bag I commissioned from Kristin's friend Chandra. (She made my messenger bag, which I'm almost never without.) I picked a shamrock decorated fabric to go with her holiday birthday. Although I come from predominantly German ancestry, there is a little bit of Irish heritage in my family. So yes, St. Patrick's Day had a slightly higher profile in our house.

It occurs to me now that I should have used my green cotton for a dishcloth. I wanted to see how the blue variegated yarn knitted up and didn't even consider the green Sugar 'n Cream. Hmm...I do have some leftover green and white yarn that I could use for a coffee cup cozy that would be appropriate for the day and take less time to make than another dishcloth.

It's a question of time, an hour of which I'm losing tonight with the early time change. I have a significant amount of writing to do by Tuesday. Somewhere in here I need to figure out what movies I'm going to see at the Cleveland International Film Festival next weekend. Plus, there's the ongoing apartment cleaning, which has led to donating six bags of old clothing to Amvets and shredding a lot of old bank statements and the like. Per the advice given to Bill Murray's character in What About Bob?, I just have to keep telling myself "baby steps".

But I really would like it if this Sunday weren't 23 hours.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's beginning to look like spring

Flower pin

Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk (55% superfine alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino wool; worsted weight) for the flower; Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic; worsted weight) for the leaf
Color: Cranberry for the flower; either 5 or 23 (green) for the leaf
Needles: US 6s

Technically this flower pin isn't done yet since I went out and bought pin backs, darning needles, and thread this afternoon, but the knitting part is done. I wandered around JoAnn's with no clue where I needed to go to find the supplies, but eventually I found a worker who ran me to all corners of the store for what I needed. I brought my FO with me to help explain what I needed, and I felt pretty silly doing that. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to sew on the pin back, but I guess I'll find out.

Thanks to Karen for directing me to the free pattern. A couple commenters mentioned a flower pin as a possible knitted gift for my mother. I never would have thought of it. I don't know if she'll have any use for it. I'm happy with how it turned out, so that makes it a success.

In making the flower pin I taught myself how to knit into the front and back of the stitch. It took me awhile to figure out how to knit into the back, but by the time I was doing the increases on the leaf, I felt like I had the hang of it.

The colors are deeper than they appear in the picture. I didn't think to photograph it outside. The natural light would be much more effective and assist with showing detail. Maybe I'll take more pictures after attaching the pin back. Today would have been ideal as we got a teaser of spring. The sun shone brightly, and the temperature crept over 50. The time is right for a knitted flower blooming from my needles.

It wasn't quite the golden hour when I took this photo in downtown Columbus, but it should give you an idea of the kind of day it was.

There's no significance to the picture. The mood struck me when I was putting my messenger bag in the trunk of my car. I was downtown to attend tonight's Columbus Blue Jackets game. After purchasing my ticket I decided not to take the bag (or any knitting) into the arena. I didn't have a project on the needles and didn't want the hassle of finding a place for the bag under my seat. So the trip back to the parking garage led to a picture of the Hyatt.

And speaking of purposeless pictures, here's one that symbolizes the Blue Jackets' scoring for the evening. Yes, their side of the scoreboard was empty.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Nice and cozy

Kristin's Jazzy Coffee Cup Cozy

Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk (55% superfine alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino wool; worsted weight)
Color: Cranberry
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 50

A short project was just what the doctor ordered last night. This is the fourth time I've knitted this cozy, and I think I'm finally getting it. It's a little dodgy around the seam, not from my sewing but because the sides don't line up perfectly. Still, it's a better seam than I have in any of the others. Learning the mattress stitch worked wonders. One of these days I'll make the cozy on circular needles, but for now this will work. I dipped into the leftover yarn in my stash to make it. I'm thinking of using this yarn for an attempt at this flower pin.

Speaking of stashes, what do you do with your yarn labels? In a cleaning frenzy I threw out most of the labels only to realize that they might have been worth keeping so that I would have dye lot information, among other things.

Also, since Francesco Redi helped disprove spontaneous generation hundreds of years ago, I know that moths are not born from the skeins of yarn in my stash; however, I have noticed a few moths in my apartment of late and was wondering if their presence is related to having yarn around the place. If so, are there any measures I should be taking? Or am I just getting insects because my neighbors have a habit of not leaving the door to the building standing wide open?

And yes, that wall in my office at the station really is that yellow. Another wall is cinder block painted a paler yellow. Then there's the pink-ish cubicle wall/divider that splits the room into two offices. The other wall is mostly taken up by a big sheet of glass covered with some hideous curtain out of the 70s. (Long ago the room was a recording booth.) Come this summer, it will be nice to have my own office, not to mention a consistent color scheme in it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Week of No Motivation Whatsoever

The Week of No Motivation Whatsoever continues. I suppose it has its side benefits, like putting me in the proper mood to purge the junk I've amassed at home.

After work I dug through some more stuff. I've found a system that may not be the most efficient, but it makes the time pass painlessly. While sitting with the computer to my side (and e-mail and iTunes at hand) I'll work on a stack and determine if the item in question should be thrown away, given away, recycled, or kept. By no means does the "kept" bin guarantee I'll hang onto it, but for now it's made the cut. Once I'm done with this initial round of culling, then I'll make final determinations on those things receiving temporary reprieves. The winners get packed. The losers get sold or go in the trash.

But enough with the moving talk, right? What about the knitting?

My current bout with ambivalence and lack of internal drive has extended to the baby blanket. It's coming along fine, but like my apartment work, it seems as though it will never get finished. This is why knitters work on more than one project at once, isn't it?

I started knitting a coffee cup cozy with some stash yarn and discovered that I could make casting on go faster if I didn't remove the needle from the stitch I just made. In other words, while sliding the new stitch onto the left needle, I bring the right needle to the bottom of the stitch and cast on the next one instead of taking out the needle. Does that make sense?

I can credit The Art of Knitting DVD in part for my discovery. I haven't watched much of it, but I learned how I should be inserting the left needle into the newly cast on stitch on the right needle. I don't know that what I was doing was wrong, but it has been easier to cast on this way.

I'm curious to see what the rest of the DVD is like. Some of the production aspects surprised me. Couldn't they afford a teleprompter? Didn't anyone realize they needed more head room for that shot? Shouldn't the close-up of the knitter's hands be a little looser? From my brief sampling of the DVD I can say that the information is solid, but there are early signs that some production issues will drive me batty.

Thanks for the comments regarding yesterday's knitting secrecy rumination. I was going to chime in, but I've decided to save those sparked thoughts for another time. Know that I appreciate the support and help I get here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Still secret

Since I don't feel like I have anything to write about today, why not return to a defining aspect of this blog? Yes, the "secret" thing.

Donna recently touched upon the surreal nature of having others know your business from your blog and makes oblique reference to an incident in which her site provided an inadvertent avenue for one of my brothers to find this site. In her case it wasn't a bad thing, just unexpected. In my case, well...

A few weeks ago one of my brothers e-mailed me a link to a site that claims to determine how much your blog is worth. (Go ahead, you know you want to try.) I don't follow all of the rationale behind it, but it looked like a fun thing to give a whirl. I responded to his e-mail that my film blog is worth a lot more than my knitblog. I didn't think anything of it, but it inspired him to hunt down this blog, which he did with remarkable ease. Keep in mind that I've never published my name here and only linked once to my other site.

I knew he found it because a look at my site traffic revealed hits from the ISP of his employer, a major company in the military-industrial complex. There was no doubt in my mind it was him. A wave of panic went through me. I don't have anything "bad" on here, but frankly, I don't want family members reading. As soon as I saw he'd been here I zipped an e-mail to him and asked him not to tell anyone. He said that he wouldn't, and he hasn't been back because this holds no interest for him.

Around the same time I learned that a friend has been reading the blog. I didn't give him the link--I think I've only given it to Kristin and Donna--so I was surprised he found it and was reading. (Of what interest would this place be to a non-knitter?) It's fine that he stops by, but I've not felt a need to tell anyone else.

Of course, I've never truly been secret. My identity is pretty easy to ascertain without much work. My coyness about the issue is more of a search engine defeating tactic than anything else.

So why bother staying secret? I haven't adopted an identity different from who I am. If anything, I'm more the "real me" here than that other site, where I speak with a more confident and authoritative voice. I guess it's no different from how we interact face to face with people. For some we put on the mask that shows our idealized self, how we'd like to be or be seen, and for those who are closer we wear a different mask or none at all. (In film terms, think A History of Violence.) If you doubt what I'm saying, ask yourself if you're the same person with everyone.

The illusion of secrecy allows me to feel like I can let down my guard more than if I were writing under my name. For me part of it has to do with being in the public eye and working at a college. What I'm doing here feels more personal, and I'd rather shield that from the eyes of students, colleagues, family, and those who might know of me from TV or the web. So I don't mind if strangers or some friends read? Yeah, pretty much. I don't expect it to make sense.

I don't feel like I've hashed this out entirely, but I'm at a spot that feels like a good stopping point. Break it down in the comments if you like. (This means you too, lurkers.)

FYI, I used a crochet hook to pull those loops through the heel of my mom's slipper. That'll take care of it for now. I suspect they'll slip back to the right side after some wear, but what am I gonna do?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Moving and mistakes

It's official. I have a new apartment secured.

In what has to be a record turnaround, I applied on Friday, faxed my most recent pay stub this morning, and signed the lease agreement this afternoon. I pushed up my move-in date to May 26 so more help will be available. OK, so I'll have overlapping rents for a few days, but it'll be worth it if it means a faster move.

There are more pleasant ways to spend a holiday weekend, but hopefully this suburban relocation will make every day more pleasant. No more coming home wondering how much noise I'll have to put up with or if I'll have a parking spot. No more guessing if my newspaper will be there in the morning. (A week and a half streak of it not being stolen ended today.)

I still felt blah today. Nothing awful, just a general weariness. I came home from work content to do nothing, but once I started doing laundry, I decided to take care of some cleaning in preparation for the move. This process will be a lot easier on me if I try to get something done every couple days. (I know myself well enough to realize I won't do it every day.) Did I get a lot done? It's hard to say, but I'm now a few hours closer to being finished. Just don't make me calculate how many more are left.

As for the knitting issues of the day...

What do I do with those two loops of yarn protruding from the back of one of my mom's slippers? I believe these were parts of the seam that didn't get pulled tight somehow, although everything back there seems OK. (I don't see any gaping holes.) I could try pulling them through with a crochet hook, but I can't sew them in because they don't have any ends. Even if I were to cut the yarn--a bad idea, I'm guessing--it's not like there'd be a lot for me to sew in anyway.

This does remind me of another near catastrophe I had knitting these. When I finished the second slipper and had a stitch that didn't get drawn up like the rest, I did some extra pulling and broke the yarn. Uh oh. I joined some other yarn to it and made it work, I think, but it just goes to show that I can do all that good knitting and then let my error-prone side try to sabotage everything.

I've started the decreases on the baby blanket. I was wondering if I would really need three skeins of yarn as the pattern suggested. Now I believe. This thing is taking forever to finish.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lazy Sunday

All-Time Favorite Slippers

Yarn: Bernat Soft Bouclé (97% acrylic, 3% polyester; bulky)
Color: The Big Purple
Needles: US 10s
Stitches: 24

One knitted birthday gift down. I previously used this slipper pattern for myself and knitted something too large. I did a little bit of research and found that I probably should have used bulky weight yarn rather than double wrapped worsted weight. I tried the bulky bouclé for these slippers for my mother and think that it produces something that fits better. I won't try them on for fear of stretching them too much or ripping something, which means they should be more her size.

These knitted up very quickly and easily, which isn't to say I didn't do my best to make foolish mistakes. Somehow I have two loops sticking out of the heel seam of the first slipper. I don't know how I missed this when I was seaming, but I must not have pulled the yarn all the way through. Is there any way I can "hide" this? Otherwise I'm pleased with it. My seaming is better, and this yarn hides it well too.

The second slipper nearly had a big problem at the toe. I ran the tapestry needle through the six remaining stitches and removed the project from the knitting needle. Again, I don't know how I did it, but the yarn wasn't going through one of those stitches. I passed it through again, but it left a piece hanging out much looser than the rest. I'm pretty sure I repaired it to the best of my ability, but if I get a call or an e-mail that the slipper is coming apart, I'll know I didn't.

Since it seems that bulky weight yarn should be used for these slippers, I'll have to select some to make a better fitting pair for myself. I like the pair I've made, but they don't like staying on my feet.

You can see that the baby blanket is coming along nicely. I finished the increases Thursday night and haven't worked on it since. I'm supposed to have 126 stitches on the needles, but I have 127. Since I'd been keeping track of how many stitches I had, I probably knitted some split yarn and turned one stitch into two on the last row. In preparing to take this picture I accidentally slid some stitches off the needle, so I may not have the right number on there now. You can count on me to make mistakes at the dumbest times.

If the universe seeks balance, then this lazy Sunday is the yin to the yang of last week's busy Sunday. I've taken a break from the blanket the past two days. I haven't felt the greatest this weekend and didn't think I had the endurance to work on it. I've managed to avoid illness this winter, but a touch of something has caught up with me. I'm fine aside from an upset stomach and feeling more tired than I should after sleeping. I knitted the slippers and watched a lot of recorded television. (I couldn't believe I was four episodes behind on Heroes. I'm not now.)

Needless to say, I've made scant progress on my apartment. All I've felt like doing is sleeping off whatever this is, although I've had varying success getting some rest. (It's not so easy to do when my downstairs neighbors are busy playing Guitar Hero. T-minus 88 days and counting.)

I might try making the flower pin Karen suggested. I have the right yarn for it in my stash, although a couple of the instructions don't inspire the most confidence. At least if it doesn't turn out, I shouldn't be out much time. Keep the suggestions coming.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Comment clarifications

Since I don't know if anyone keeps up with the comments, this seems like the right place to follow up on some things previously written and squeeze out today's entry before I fall asleep at the computer. (Really. I feel like I could have slept all day and still need to go to bed early.)

Contrary to what I said in my February knitting progress report, the baby blanket is not in stockinette stitch. I remembered reading that you get stockinette stitch when you knit every stitch in circular knitting. What I missed is that you have to be knitting in the round to get that. The blanket is in garter stitch. I am the point where I need to begin decreasing.

I appreciate the suggestions about what to make for my mom's upcoming birthday. Can you direct me to some patterns? I could definitely use some guidance for the girly items. I've finished the first of two slippers, although I botched something with the seaming on the heel and have a loose strand sticking out. Is there anything I can do to sew it in? I'll have pictures tomorrow.

I also appreciate how supportive everyone is about my progress. Part of the reason why I'm able to focus on accomplishing these goals is that I have nowhere to go but up. You may see all those FOs, but until I made that first coffee cup cozy and dishcloth in January, I had knitted everything but one scarf in garter stitch. (The exception was the basketweave scarf.) I mixed it up a little by adding the blocks of color on two scarves, but it was basically the same thing with different materials. I stayed away from purling until I made the basketweave scarf. After that I didn't do it again until working on those other items.

I'm not bored knitting scarves, but I like learning new things and have made an effort to add to my knitting repertoire. And let's face it, some of the goals are very modest too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

How to spell relief

I've been tense all week about my future living arrangements. It's the uncertainty of it all. Questions, questions, questions. When can I move? Will my landlord let me break the lease? Will there be an available apartment at the complex where I'd like to live? Can I possibly get everything ready to move in time? What should I pack now?

At heart I am a worrier. (Thanks mom.) I know there's no rational benefit from worrying, especially about things out of my control, but it's tough overcoming something that feels natural. I'll grant myself a little leeway on this matter. After all, a comfortable place to live is pretty important according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Today I was getting wound up about these questions. I decided that I couldn't wait any longer to talk to my landlord. Whatever his answer was regarding the lease, I had to know now. He told me he couldn't let me out of it early. I expected he'd say that, but it was disappointing considering I've been living here since I graduated from college, have some solid reasons for him to make an exception, and have always paid my rent on time. (He's owned the place for just a couple years but knows my history.) He agreed that if he could find someone to take my place early, he'd let me out of the contract. Well, that's something.

Having spoken to him meant that I could fill out a rental application at my apartment complex of choice. (I didn't want them contacting him before I informed him of my intent to move.) At least this would put my name in the hat for any available place. As luck would have it, one apartment with my desired floor plan and location was available to be occupied starting on June 1. That's when my current lease runs out.

Rather than roll the dice that the circumstances would line up better for an April or May move, I paid the deposit and locked in the apartment. Assuming that nothing goofy happens with the processing of my application, I have found my new home and have the address to prove it.

This is a major relief. I have a timetable for moving. I know what I need to do and when it must be ready. Most importantly, I know where I will be. Sure, I'd rather be in the new place sooner than later, but there's comfort in knowing what the next three months will bring. Seriously, it's a big burden off my shoulders, even if moving creates a lot of work for me.

Knitting content returns tomorrow.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

February knitting progress report

I know February is the shortest month, but wow, that went by in a hurry. A new month means an update on how I'm doing with my new year's knitting resolutions.

My biggest achievements had less to do with what I made than what I learned to fix. I figured out how to frog with care and get the stitches on the needle again. I seamed something properly after my first attempt had less than beautiful results. I finally made sense of picking up dropped stitches. Those accomplishments made it a good month for knitting regardless of my output.

It was a productive month, though. I can cross off "make a hat for myself" because I knitted one...and then knitted another. I did it just in time. The weather took a nasty turn for a couple weeks, so the toques have come in handy. It's starting to warm up, but I expect we'll get at least one more cold spell before spring arrives.

I took care of keeping my feet warm by knitting a pair of slippers. They're too big, and the first one I made is starting to unravel at the toe. The second slipper shows improvement over the first, so the next time I make them should produce better FOs. (Also, I've since turned those slippers inside out, so the seams in the pictures are now hidden like they should be.)

By the first of next month I should be able to put a check beside "make a baby blanket". It's helping me with my resolution to learn how to use circular needles. I'm almost done with the increases. I can tell what a difference it makes knitting the blanket on the circs. The twisting cable isn't as much a problem now. I suppose I could count the blanket's stockinette pattern as a second stitch pattern. Incredibly, I haven't knitted anything in stockinette before, although all I'm doing is knitting every stitch,which could make counting it questionable.

After doing it for the first time last month, I've become relatively comfortable knitting in public on my own. Who would've expected that?

I think I get a gold star for the regular blogging goal. I wrote every day in February and have only skipped four days all year--two weekends in January. I knitted more for myself than for others this month, which surprised me.

Am I taking better care of myself? That's debatable. Ask me when I'm in a new apartment.

My January progress report listed six FOs. I also have six for this month, although I think it's a more impressive list:

-2 ribbed scarves
-2 toques
-1 pair of slippers
-1 coffee cup cozy

I have a WIP baby blanket on the needles. My mom's birthday is about two weeks away, so I need to think of something to make for her. March brings a trip to the Cleveland International Film Festival, so maybe I'll do some film fest knitting. The adventure continues...