Monday, January 31, 2011

Crossed Off The List

Resolution #4 is complete!

The picture below shows the homage to the '70s we were doing with our cushions.  The blue and red are from our couch now.  The orange, brown, brown plaid and fuzzy gold are the cushions we wanted redone.

Apparently we're going to get a storm that will shut everything down for a bit, so the upholsterers called and asked if I could meet them at my house on my lunch hour so they could be sure to get the delivery done before Stormageddon.

The brown and fuzzy gold chairs both got covered with this:
 and will live in our living room.  It was tricky to pick upholstery that would help tie these chairs into the rest of our belongings.  Our life looks a bit like an Ikea store, albeit a lot messier.  I think the contemporary fabric helps the chairs look like they belong.

Who am I kidding?  We just liked the spots.

The plaid became this:
 and will live in Andrew's hobby room, which has a bunch of comics, Reds memorabilia, and two bright red walls.  There's a pattern on this, but it's subtle and didn't photograph.

The orange became this:

 and will live in our bedroom.  The top three chairs were all garage sale finds.  The leaf chair was Andrew's grandparents, and he had a hard time deciding to let go of the orange (super scratchy) upholstery.  When we found this bit of fabulous fabric, he changed his mind.  The fact that the orange cushion had a distinct bum imprint from years of use may have helped as well.

The piece I'm most excited about is the metamorphosis of this little chair.

It lived in the bedroom at my grandparents' that I slept in when I stayed with them.  It belonged to my mom as she was growing up, and it held no sentimental attachment for Mom or Grandfather.  This became clear when I discovered it in Grandfather's garage on a pile of junk.  He let me take it home, and it's been living in our garage until we got around to making the trip to the upholsterer.

Here it is finished!

I love it.  I love love love it.  It makes me feel like I'm a character in Alice in Wonderland.  It's going to live in the yarn guest room.  Now I'm wondering if it's time to paint that room....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Anatomy of a Shirt

The way a sleeve is attached to a shirt is likely something you've not given much thought.  I've made some very high-tech illustrations to help.  Please do try not to be overawed.
In t-shirts, the front is basically a rectangle with a little dip cut out for your neck.  The sleeves are slapped on the side of the rectangle.

In dress shirts and many sweaters, the sleeve is "set in," which means it's oddly shaped at the top and fits into the front of the shirt with a curve.
If you pretend you're looking at one of the front pieces of a cardigan, for example, it would look something like the picture above.  There's a big dip where the sleeve will be sewn in, and then there's a smaller dip on the other side where the neck is.

These are on opposite sides because, in fact, your arm is quite a distance from your neck.

I'm telling you this because I have not once but twice knit the front of a cardigan with the arm and neck dips on the same side.

The Bristow cardigan is going fine.  Why do you ask?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Saturday with family, Sunday with friends, and Monday with Andrew and this:

That's a perfect birthday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the Occasion of My 33rd Birthday

Several years ago, I was listening to Writer's Almanac in the car when they presented a poem by Wendy Cope. I loved it.  A long time later, I e-mailed it to some friends, and was really, really, really shocked to find that some of them didn't like it at all.

Make your own decision:

Being Boring
'May you live in interesting times.' Chinese curse

If you ask me 'What's new?', I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion - I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last.
If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.

Linked from here.

Once I realized this poem didn't resonate with everyone--not even necessarily with people I love dearly-- I tried to figure out why I loved it so much.

The easy answer (which I've tried to type a couple times, so it's obviously not all that easy) is that my parents' relationship was uber-dysfunctional, and I try to avoid drama in response.

The more honest answer is that I've done a lot of work to figure out how to break the cycle of crazy.  And, for the most part, I have.  

After growing up in Dysfunction Junction, I thought I wouldn't get married.  Then I met Andrew, and I slowly realized that things could be different--really different.  Andrew is the main reason I believe in reincarnation; I'm pretty sure we knew each other before this go-round.

I'm thinking about all this today because it is my birthday.  It's the one day a year that is uniquely mine.  What is the very best way I can imagine spending this day?

Today I went to work.  I went to lunch with a friend.  When I get home, I want to take a walk, eat my favorite meal*, and knit on the couch while we watch something funny.

A happier cabbage you never did see.

*chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter, a banana, veggie sausage links, and either milk or iced coffee

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Accountability, Part II

Sorry about the horribly mundane nature of this post, but really, you haven't come to expect sparkling brilliance, have you?  I thought not.

My New Year's resolution was, in general terms, "Love what you have and where you are."  I broke that into four smaller pieces, and here's the progress on those:

1.  I wrote that I couldn't decide if it was smarter to clean off my full mp3 player or buy a larger device.  As I reread that, I realized the choice was clear.  Why would I buy a different device when all that was needed was to clean off what I already owned?  Because I am OCD, I deleted 30 GB of data and spent a weekend putting music back on it.  Crazy?  Mais oui!

The good news is that the device is better organized and doesn't have music on it to which I will never listen.  (Timbaland, you're out.)  The bad news is that the best place to really listen to albums is the car.  My car won't play from my mp3 player, so I need to be more purposeful about carrying CDs in the car.

The fact that this is such a dilemma is an excellent illustration of how charmed my life is.  As Professor Henry Higgins says, "A reminder."

2.  I am kicking exercise's ass.  I've had a cold that decided to linger on for a week and a half, so I've just been walking on the treadmill and not pushing myself.  It's been working.  I've earned $20.  Take that, couch!

3.  I've started knitting this Bristow cardigan in yarn I bought when a local yarn shop was closing.  The yarn is Lang Yarns Silk Dream, and it's delightfully soft.  I'm also still knitting a pair of socks with stash yarn, but they were boring me to tears, so they haven't gotten much needle time.

4.  Our appointment at the upholstery place was postponed for a week because the owner was sick, but Andrew and I went on Saturday.  We're getting my little chair covered as well as some cushions we have.

Progress abounds.  It's good for me to write this out because right now I feel cranky and suspicious that one day soon everyone I know will figure out that I really have no idea what I'm doing.  That may very well be true, but I'm blundering along.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weaving and Stabbing

Back in August, Mom and I took a weaving class.  I ended up with this:

Mom was horrified by my lack of color, but I love gray and wanted the sweater to go with any of my coats.  In spite of gray being my go-to color, I'm not at all afraid of bright color.  I have a blue, lime green, and deep purple coat.  I think a gray scarf would be fine with any of them.

When I finished the scarf though, I had to admit it was horribly boring.  It took several months, but this morning I got out my new needlefelting stuff I'd been given for Christmas and some roving my mom was given by a student, and armed with those tools and a cookie cutter got to work.

To needlefelt, you put a small amount of roving (wool after it's cleaned, combed, and dyed but before it's spun) onto the top of your cloth and repeatedly stab it with the needle felting tool.  The fibers mesh together so the top roving stays put on the cloth.

I'm amused by the flowers and think they brighten up the scarf. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Defeating the Trolls

My work is heated by a gang of sadistic trolls.  Sometimes they sneak in after I leave for the day and turn off the heat altogether.  They have the heating unit in the conference room, which is what "heats" my office, rigged so it either blows full-blast regardless of the temperature or refuses to turn on.  After giving them gold, bagels, and a promise for my firstborn (suckers), I have decided that I don't want to play with them anymore.

So I knit these:
Regina Cable and Bobble Fingerless Mitts (pattern here
in indigodragonfly's MCN sock, 
I Can't Believe It's Not Pewter colorway

Take that, trolls!

After deciding that I was the boss of my hobby, I wanted to knit something fun.

So I knit another, identical pair.  I gave them away to the person who loves my knitting the most, and now they're keeping her hands warm while she works.  I was able to knit something enjoyable, and somebody loves them.  Win-win.

I have a slight problem when it comes to the yarn:  I love this yarn so much that I simultaneously want to sing its praises and keep it a secret.  I am afraid if I tell you how much I love this yarn, you might decide to buy some for yourself.  Not a knitter?  Doesn't matter.  This yarn is so soft you might want to buy it just to stroke gently in times of stress.  I love this yarn so much that I've weighed what's left of the ball (after knitting two pair of fingerless gloves--pretty groovy), and am trying to decide what else I can make with 1.2 oz.of yarn.  I'll find something.  Have no fear.

I think the only possible solution to my fibery dilemma is this: Buy this yarn if you have to, but after you've pet it awhile, give it to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saying No

A little backstory:

I am a sophomore in college and attempting a double major in biology and religious studies.  I have just earned a B- on a botany quiz.  I am a straight-A student.  I stop by to see the professor, a lovely person, who gently asks me how many hours I am taking that semester.  I tell her: 19.  

She tells me that it is impossible to take that many lab-intensive classes with that many credit hours and asks me why I'm doing it.  I tell her about the double major.  She tells me it can't be done.  I tell her I've been thinking about dropping biology to a minor.  I plan to go to grad. school in religious studies, but I love biology.  She tells me to drop the major and to drop her class, since it's no longer required.  

I tell her that I want to continue with botany.  I don't want it to beat me.  I can bring it up to an A; I just have to work harder.

She pauses, then says, "Of course you can do it.  But why would you kill yourself to make a point?  Who are you trying to convince?"  Then she goes to her printer, prints off the drop form, and hands it to me.

I owe that professor a lot.

I have always struggled with "should," with proving to myself that I can do things instead of walking away gracefully.

This afternoon, I sat at a computer I was attempting to rebuild* and pulled out Jeanie and started to knit while Microsoft was loading.  The stitches alternatively split and fell off the needle.  I spent several minutes struggling with the first eight stitches, which were a cable, before the computer blue screened and I stuffed the whole lot into my bag in frustration.  I yearned for something calming I could do while the computer stomped its foot and refused to cooperate.

After spending some time on the phone with my new South American friend from Dell, who is now sending me a replacement hard drive for said computer, I walked back to my office with my knitting bag and thought.

1.  I love this pattern.  It's gorgeous.  I've seen many people's finished stoles, and they are breathtaking.
2.  I love this yarn.  It, too, is gorgeous.
3.  I am convinced that this finished product would be one of the most beautiful things I have ever made.
4.  I hate knitting this pattern.  My needles were too dull.  Andrew sanded them into sharp points for me, and now they stab me.  I can't see the pattern well.  The laceweight splits and falls off the needles unless I am 100% dedicated to watching them.  Everything with this has been a struggle with me.

I thought for a long time about it.  Most of me felt like that student in the botany professor's office, determined to push through regardless of whether that was the best thing for me; afraid that walking away was failing.

I remembered the conversation with my professor and asked myself, "Who are you trying to convince?"  The answer had to be myself.  Nobody else cared what I was knitting, seeing how this is my hobby, forthelove.  I was trying to convince myself that I should finish this pattern because I had started it, irregardless of anything else.

Then, I said no.

* Master's in Theological Studies, remember.  I, too, am a bit confused at what my life has become.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Process (again)

I finished a pair of socks yesterday at lunch.  They're fraternal and lovely.
Naive Socks (Ravelry link), Knitpicks Felici yarn in Tyrean (discontinued colorway)

This led me to contemplation about what was next.  I looked through a couple of books, flicked through a magazine, carried around two skeins of yarn, rummaged through my needles.

And yet something was watching me, silently waiting.

I tried to ignore it.  It simply waited, looking at me, unblinking.

It knew it had the upper hand.  It knew it was just a matter of time.  It's the perfect yarn for the perfect project.  I can only resist for so long, even though I'm sure it's going to plunge me into despair.

Beware the laceweight.  It's too late for me, but maybe you can be saved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Checking In

Because I've found I follow through if I publish things on the Internet I'm sure you're all dying to know my progress:

1.  I've decided my first order of business is to make the decision to either buy an external hard drive or clean off my mp3 player.  The mp3 player is full, and there is music on there I won't listen to.  On the other hand, it would be lots easier to move everything to a big hard drive.  On the third hand, moving things to a hard drive means I can't listen to it unless I'm with a computer, which is most of the time but not all the time.  I haven't started this because I can't decide the best course of action, but I'm working on it.

2.  Andrew and I both exercised last night.  I had a bad headache after, which is unfair, but I'm not sore today and plan to work out again tonight.  $1.50 earned.

3.  I'm ready for the toe on the second sock of a pair knit with yarn I already owned.  I started these before making my New Year's resolutions, but I've decided it still counts.  I'm contemplating what I will knit next.  It might be this.  (Ravelry link.  I can't find it on Vogue Knitting's site.  Sorry about that.)

4.  I have an appointment at 9:00 Saturday morning at the upholstery place.


Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

On one hand, making New Year’s resolutions feels trite and doomed to failure.

On the other hand, making New Year’s resolutions might lead to the formation of better habits.  If they don’t last forever, that’s okay.  Even if it just lasts a few weeks, that’s a few weeks with better habits than if I didn’t set a resolution.

And, hey, it worked last year

I’ve been mulling over what changes I’d like in my life, and I keep coming back to this:

Love what you have and where you are.

I live a lovely existence.  I’m healthy.  My partner is my favorite person.  We have wonderful, stupendous friends.  I like the people with whom I work.  I have a hobby I love that yields gifts for others as well as myself.  Andrew’s and my extended families are mostly delightful, and they care about us and we care about them.  I’ve also got a lot of nice stuff like yarn and music and exercise equipment.

So I want to spend time appreciating what I have.  In concrete terms, it boils down to this:

1.  I resolve to go through my music collection and really listen to albums.  This might sound like a silly resolution to you, but that’s why it’s mine and not yours.

2.  Exercise.  I have accepted that exercise is always going to be a struggle for me.  I’m an “object at rest tends to stay at rest” kind of person.  Even when I’m an object in motion, it takes very little to turn me into an object at rest… like perhaps an encounter with my couch and the remote control.  It’s a habit I will have to consciously pick up many times throughout my life, and this is one of those times.  Andrew and I have decided on the following plan: The first person home will walk Dexter.  (This is usually me.  I’m okay with this.)  Then we will both exercise.  Then we will eat dinner.  My goal is to do this 4 times a week.  

Now, because I know myself, I am also dangling a carrot.  For every time I exercise, I will pay myself $1.50.  However, if I exercise four times in one week, I will pay myself $2.50/workout.  That means I can earn $10 a week.  Does it seem ridiculous to pay myself?  Yes.  Do I think it will work?  Yes. 

3. I want to knit things with yarn I already own.  I have projects that have been in my queue a long time, and I want to work on them.  I have the tendency, like many knitters, to be wowed by new.  New pattern!  New pattern requires new yarn even though I have tons of yarn already!  I want to spend time with the lovely yarn I already own.

4. One final, short-term goal:  I resolve to call the furniture reupholsterers, take the little chair that’s sitting in my garage to them, and have it fixed.  I have saved money for this, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be done.  So I will do it.

What about you?