Sunday, December 4, 2016

Done and Dusted

I finally got to make a special knitting delivery today!

When I found out my friends E&P were expecting twins, I was very excited. E and I have been friends long enough that if you ask, neither of us can entirely figure out how we met. At some point she was just on speed dial and we've been through many a professional organization mini-crisis together.

Twins often show up a little early and this pair was no exception. And while I'd gotten to meet them, I just now finally finished all the edging and end-weaving, etc, and so when I went over to babysit for a couple of hours, I brought along their blankets.

I made two Mason Dixon Moderne Log Cabin baby blankets.  The yarn for both was Plymouth Encore, which is 75% acrylic, 25% merino and very washable. It also comes in many colors.  E had said black was totally fine and she didn't want pink but beyond that she didn't have any particular color preferences. Blanket One was Black, Dark Burgundy, Medium Gray, and Charcoal. 

Blanket Two, in addition to the Black, was more of a study in Heathers. The colors included Emerald Heather, Light Gray Heather, and Gray Heather.  And you can see I changed up my color orders so the black wasn't in the same place at the same time. 

I modified the pattern; I always do a bit (this is the 3rd/4th of these).  I didn't do the color work at the bottom or sides, instead just doing straight long rectangles.  I'm also not sure what the correct border is supposed to be --I always just work from the PDF on Ravelry which doesn't tell you what it is. 

So instead I do a 3 stitch applied I-cord edging. For these I did it in the non-gray color for each blanket.  

I don't have much yarn left from either set of colors. The Philosopher had suggested that I use the black as the border but I didn't have enough and I liked the idea of a little bit of color around the edge. But if they go through the wash a few times and need any minor touch ups, I have the leftovers stashed away.  

Now they are ready for wash and dry with their baby detergent of choice and tummy time has a whole new set of blankets for drooling upon! 

(Also, now I get to blog about most of my knitting again! E noticed that she hadn't seen these on the blog.) 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maybe It Will Work for Easter

Earlier this fall I bought yarn for making my Loopy Academy projects. I had patterns and plans but alas, am a Hedgehog of the Occasional Inability to Read the Pattern Properly Until Several Months later. *sigh*

And so I refactored, grabbed new patterns, and faced my yarn choices. 

Two skeins from that shipment have to be set aside for gifts, so I'm left with my original yarn choices and a curious wondering about what I was possibly thinking in September.

I bought lavender wool. I don't particularly care for lavender-- I don't wear the color; I'm not a big fan of the scent. More for those of you who do like it, truly. Why did I buy lavender wool? If you run into September Hedgehog, ask her. 

And the project needs to be at least 250 yards and include bobbles, which means I need to use both skeins. 

I also don't like bobbles. Sibling-the-Elder has done some fantastic work with lace and nupps. I adore what she is capable of and my coworkers keep threatening to permanently borrow the shawls she has made me. But bobbles in worsted weight and with me knitting just look like clunky blobs dangling off an otherwise reasonably satisfactory knitting project.

Each semester, Loopy Academy brings me a project with a skill set I don't really have and while I can say, ah yes, I've now done it, the result turns back into yarn or goes immediately into the gift bin.  In doing a quick count on Ravelry just now, of the 12 projects completed so far 4 were gifted/are in the gift bin; 3 were frogged; and I've kept 5. Of the three for this semester, I have a feeling I'll keep 1. It depends if there is any hope that the gloves will fit someone else.

I've restarted the bobble project a couple of times now. And I've just decided to rip out what I have so far and start again. My first effort was a pattern that I found online and while yes, it would have been doable, six inches in I found it so hideous that I refused to take pictures of it. Not the pattern's fault, though the designer wasn't the clearest and I wouldn't buy anything from her again. But lavender feather and fan lace topped with chunky bobbles wasn't doing anyone any good.

So now I've tracked down a crescent scarf pattern that I will modify to add a row of small bobbles. And if I run out of yarn, I'll bind off early and it will be a shallow crescent. Hopefully this is the last time, as I go to cast on again. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

It Always Comes Down to December

Every year, I think I will do better. Every year, I don't. You'd think I'd learn and either would do better or would at least know my own tendency to put things off.

Fall knitting has been taken up by large projects that you've not seen, due to my wanting to get them finished and off to recipients before I showed pictures. The last ends are finally woven in and the delivery date for them set. and proof that I haven't been a total slacker.

I'm now trying desperately to catch up on my Loopy Academy Junior Year Fall Semester Projects. I could easily have knocked these out months ago but instead here I am frantically trying to catch up. It didn't help that when I went to work on one project I realized that I'd not bought enough yarn. Some refactoring and new patterns later and I'll be okay, if annoyed.

Getting attention this weekend was Loopy Project: Make a Toy. I've not gotten much into toys, for all that I have the Rebecca Danger Monster book (AudioGirl, is that still at your house?). The Philosopher tracked down an unusual pattern for me though: Balloon Tying Stuff Animals

I, of course, am tackling the Elephant, albeit with a bit of help. It's fiddly, mostly because I tend to knit all of my circular stuff inside out. It's slowing me down to have to knit it this way, because you stuff as you go. Also six stitches on four circulars is a disaster waiting to happen if you are me.

I'm working on one of the legs, with another leg and then the ears up next. Then it's back to knitting purgatory as I continue the fingers of gloves. AudioGirl reminded me that I really don't like knitting mittens and yes, it's very true. And there are a couple other finished projects and a start of  a pair of socks that I took to Moana last night (excellent movie, by the by!)

Christmas Knitting and Loopy Academy Deadlines are upon me. I'll get through but December is going to require a lot of extra knitting focus. Good luck to the other knitters facing these deadlines!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Knitting Adjacent

I've been searching for a knitting metaphor for the world over the past days since the US election. Not so much for you, for myself. Knitting focuses me when I am troubled, gives me tangible progress when information work feels horrendously intangible, and has the added side benefit of connecting me to a large community of people who share my hobby--if not all of my opinions (e.g. DPNs vs. Magic Looping for socks. I'm #TeamDPN).

Knitting is often made up of big projects. Long projects. Anyone who has ever undertaken a large shawl, the second sock at that tiny gauge, or a full size afghan knows the slog, the haul, the do-I-really-have-that-much-more-yarn-to-go feeling.

That is what is keeping me going right now. Following the election and facing tumultuous and scary time ahead, I'm grasping on to all the knitting metaphors I can find. This may be simplistic but it gives me a little bit of reassurance.

I can do big things. And each big thing is made up of many thousands of small things. I cannot do much knitting most days -- I've been too tired, too overwhelmed, and still working on the train. But it's rare that at least one stitch doesn't get done. This is then my approach to the larger project of trying to deal with a world where the word of the year is "post-truth."

I will be trying to document my single-stitch actions, privately. This isn't about seeking accolades, it's about knowing for myself that I have made those stitches and to remind myself of each activity so I can repeat some of them.

We have much work to do. We have many people to advocate for and defend.

And I have pointy needles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Unpacking the Stash

I'm going through the stash. Some friendly neighborhood clothes moths paid a visit to a couple pair of handknit socks that had been left out over the summer and I want to salad toss everything, vacuum, and make sure that further damage isn't afoot.*

Usually I try to go through the stash a couple of times a year. It's good to sort out yarn that I am no longer interested in, remember what I have, get back in touch with my yarn and spark a ridiculous amount of creative inspiration. I knew it had been a while but apparently full yarn-amnesia has set in. As I opened up bins I kept commenting "what's that? I don't remember buying that." Ravelry helps but I'm finding things that aren't in Ravelry, which means they snuck in here without even that documentation.

Somewhere around mid-July I was staring at the stash on it's many shelves in the living room and all I could think was that perhaps I should just clear it all out. Try again with some new yarn if something particularly inspired me but stop carrying around stash. That this thought occurred was slightly troubling, but also a sign of how overwhelmed I was feeling about the rest of life. It also suggested a need to go through and lighten.

Currently I am going through a Use-the-Yarn-You-Own phase. I get these a lot, most often after I've tossed the stash, so that seems perfectly normal and appropriate. As I handle, vacuum, examine, and re-sort the stash ideas trickle in. That would make a nice hat; these two skeins would make a nice shawl.

I am, of course, trying to finish up some gift knitting and then there's Loopy Academy for the Junior Year Fall Semester and Christmas knitting. So my plans are likely to be slightly delayed as I try and get through all of that. But making sure that knitting is a commute priority (the various games I play on my phone will have to take a pause) should help. And the cool weather outside is inspiring as well. 

Have you tossed your stash lately? 

*Handknit socks; afoot. Yes, I crack me up too.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Delights at Every Turn

It was recently a birthday at Chez Hedgehog. One of the quieter years for me: AudioGirl and I met up for a mutual birthday meal; the Philosopher and I went to a very nice dinner on the actual day; and then the Incredibly Patient Mother came up last weekend and we ate and drank our way around Chicago: Dim Sum down in Chinatown followed by my first trip to our Cider Pub--Northman! The past year has been challenging in terms of work, personal goals, some health things, etc. and I wasn't up for any kind of big celebration. Time with my boyfriend, mother, and one of my longest friends was exactly what I needed. 

And there have been a few lovely additions to the knitting accouterments from my birthday...

Apparently if one has a sibling who knits and loves hedgehogs, you find her this. It's a lovely felted knitting bag from Sibling-the-Younger and has an aborable little cat pin. I've already got plans to haul it around and see how many comments I get on it! I think he picked it up at Maryland Sheep and Wool-- but it's definitely from Frabjous Fibers. 

Tucked inside were a novel set of knitting needles. I think they are porcupine quills?

I have absolutely no idea what I'll make with them, they appear to be a size 8 or 9 US and very flexible. These might need to be stay-at-home needles, I'd worry about losing one while traveling or sitting on them accidentally on the train. (That happens more than I'd like to admit, no puncture wounds yet but I do have a current tetanus shot!) 

Fortunately, Sibling-the-Elder sent along some knitting books from which I can extract some patterns. She got me Amy Herzog's newest: You Can Knit That; Modern Baby Knits; and the Knowledgeable Knitter. Scheming will abound with my stash. 

And AudioGirl knows me too well. We met up for dinner at Knit1, a yarn store in Chicago that I'd not made it to yet. I'll definitely go back though, they were lovely and the selection was delicious.  As I picked up my X-teenth skein of rainbow yarn, she interjected that perhaps I should peek at part of my birthday gift before pulling out my credit card: 

Isn't it fabulous? It's Knitted Wit yarn that she picked up on her travels. It's gloriously bright and is certain to knit up super quickly as I go "Oh, look, it'll be green in five more stitches." I've already started going through the Ravelry queue. 

And finally, I was on a delivery mission for my friend Catherine and she also sent me this lovely little magnet! 

I feel amazingly understood, loved, and known by my friends and family. I appreciate it more than I can say! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For All the Miles

Before work today a man came to pick up my Pontiac. He was running late (weather/traffic/people can't drive); I was already exhausted from a new spate of insomnia; and a very full day of work lay ahead.  As he backed up the flatbed, I took off the license plate and made sure I had pulled out my last registration card. I signed over the title and --oh right--you need the keys. 

And he said "Great, I'll load it, you get to work, I'm sorry for being so late."

Suddenly I didn't want to go. My car was leaving me and I was just going to go to work like a normal day? 

I bought the car in 2004 as I was headed into my final semester of graduate school. My first car had finally given up the ghost and I needed to drive both for school and all over Long Island for work. I'd done research online, found a car I  wanted, arranged with the Incredibly Patient Mother to go make a purchase, arrived at the dealer at the beginning of the day and... neither the car nor the SalesDude I'd been emailing with were there. The manager of the dealership listened to the description of the car and immediately knew that the car wasn't on the lot. SalesDude was "coming in later that day" and they didn't have anything else really they could show me but if I wanted to wait 2-3 hours, they could get the car there (from the other side of Indianapolis). I remember looking at my mother briefly, back at the sales manager, and announcing "That's not acceptable." And so we left.  I'm still curious as to what kind of conversation SalesDude came into when he finally bothered to show up for work and a nearly guaranteed sale had already walked off the lot. 

Several other dealerships later (all of which seemed to be vying for a Worst Customer Service award), I walked onto another used dealer lot and flatly stated my requirements. Budget, car age/ approximate mileage, sedan, not a Dodge Neon, and not red.* The dealer was unfazed and presented me with the Pontiac for a test drive. Twenty-four hours, a new set of brakes, and a co-signed car loan later and I was on the road back to New York. I remember calling a couple of friends to keep me company/sane while I made my way across Pennsylvania. 

It was the second Grand Am in my group of friends: the Blonde had the Pumpkin and I now had the Gecko. We were the most identifiable cars in any parking lot. 

I only did the drive to NY once. When I moved to Chicago the first time, I drove the Gecko to New Jersey and got a truck hitch. But we made the run between LaCrosse and Chicago almost monthly for three years. It only refused to start once due to the cold--and frankly, no one should have been outside that day. 

Of late I've been less confident driving it. It needs new brakes, again, and a lot of other work that was beyond what I could do with it. My mechanic had stronger words about it. So I started car hunting and, happily, made a very easy acquisition.*** Of course, this meant the Gecko was no longer needed even for Target runs. 

A coworker also recently got a new car and pointed me towards a church that has a vehicle ministry--doing repairs, repurposing homing or breaking down donated cars, teaching car repair. They would come and take the Gecko and--if possible--give it a little more life and a new home. 

And so my car was driven onto a flatbed and it's unlikely I'll see it again.  The level of grief I'm experiencing for an inanimate object seems oddly high, but I spent a lot of hours in that car and 95% of the time it just turned on and took me wherever I needed to go. I owned it for 12 years and it was something of a physical extension. With Pontiac now out of business, it's unlikely I'll ever be able to own one again.  

Now it's off on an adventure without me and I will miss my bright green car. Such it is I bid adieu to my Gecko. Thanks for all of the miles. 

*I have a strong dislike of red cars
**Thank you again to the IPM, not sure how else they expect early 20s adults to get car loans.
***It's far easier to get a car loan in my 30s