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Socks, socks, and more socks!

On the knitting front, I have largely finished Nyte's gray socks, YAY!!!!!! I re-knit the one heel and before I weave in all the ends and cut them, I'm going to wash them up with some shampoo and conditioner (wool is sheep hair, dontchaknow, and this stuff could use a little Pantene) and see if they shrink/bloom/grow/whatevs. (Trekking XXL, by-the-by.)

So, you know how I was all set to knit up my Knitpicks Memories sock yarn (sorry about the random link, but Knitpicks no longer carries Memories, so until I post up my own pic, this will have to do.) in the S'mores colorway using the Monkey sock pattern? Now, I love Cookie's sock patterns and all (is not that curvy rib on the pink sock just the dog's bollocks?), but this just wasn't doing it for me. It wasn't the pattern, it's the yarn itself. S'mores happens to have very short runs of color, about 8 inches for each, and there are four colors. Graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate and ash (because who doesn't burn theirs sometimes?). I love the color combo, and I love the way it looks in the skein and the ball, but the twisted rib cuff and that particular lace pattern resulted in a weird sort of tweedy effect. For a different color set, a different yarn, this would be perfectly acceptable. Pretty much every other skein of sock yarn I have, actually, would be perfectly fine. But my S'mores, no...they must pool. They must blend smoothly. They must flow.

Now, you can change your pooling results by going up or down a few needle sizes, fudging your stitch count up or down a bit - basically changing your gauge so that the colors fall just slightly differently and perhaps do something you like. But with socks, there's only so much you can do. Your foot is only as big as it is, and everyone likes their socks to be a certain way; snug on the instep, cushy on the sole, perfectly fitted to one's mutant toes, short and fitted in the ankle or as close to knee-high and trampy as humanly possible, to name a few options. When you add lace patterns into the mix, especially 16-stitch and 11-row lace patterns, well...your options of gauge-fudging decrease by a whole bunch more.

So, I'm sorry, Cookie. Your pattern will have to wait for the next pair of socks. Maybe something to go to the new Mother-In-Law for Christmas, as thanks for pretty much funding our wedding, honeymoon, and the down-payment on our new car. Happily, she and I have the same shoe size, and she lives in a big drafty house that they like to keep at about 60 degrees during the winter, not to mention she's on her feet and in the cold at the family tree farm during the Christmas season, so socks will be a great gift. Perhaps I should hustle it up on those socks and get them to her before Thanksgiving, when the rush starts at the farm....

Speaking of rushes....damned if I didn't let this sit here for several hours, and now it's time to go.

It's supposed to be October, y'all...

Just a few things:

Firstly, the shawl I began on my pre-marriage honeymoon cruise is sitting and waiting for the correct-sized needles to arrive from Knitpicks. Silly me thought that I didn't really need size 15's with a cable longer than 35 inches, or that I could at least find something when the time came. Yeah, not so much, really. The are options, of course - I could have picked up part of an Addi Turbo set, but what's the point of doing that when I already have the Knitpicks Options cables in the correct lengths? So now it sits. And waits.

And I wait. And try to work on other projects in the meantime.

And I hate them all. They aren't what I want and they don't look like I thought they would and they're too small/big/lacy/boring/stupid. I can't get the Spider's-web Shawl out of my system, with all that lovely blue-green Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light (DK weight) lushness, not until it's done. And it's so close. I've done the first set of Chart C, and need to do that four more times before I can bind off. And I can't wait.

Can't. Wait.

Secondly, I've attempted in the meantime to start at least one hat (Knitty.com's Shedir, in Rowan Calmer), an ugly cat sweater of my own design for Crazy Aunt Purl's ugly cat sweater sweepstakes, another lace project (Sampler Stole from Victorian Lace Today, in Alpaca With A Twist's Fino), and a baby sweater/pants set (from Debbie Bliss's Simply Baby, which I just picked up, in some unlabeled cotton/acrylic blend I inherited from somewhere). Shedir is sitting forlornly on my vanity with about 20 rows done, the lace project is coming up short in the stitch count area and I am cross at it, the cat sweater is largely finished except for closures and pictures, and I just began the layette set last night. Let's begin the complaints, be they warranted or imaginary:

Shedir - needles too small, not enough elasticity, makes my hands cramp up
Sampler Stole - black yarn + Knitpicks Harmony wood needles = I can't freaking see what I'm doing even in direct light
Cat sweater - whooo-boy, it's ugly all right. I don't really have the heart to put it back on the cat, and I have no idea how to close it without way too much work
Layette set - boring! Also, since I'm using stash yarn, I don't like the yarn colors. Unhappily, most of the stash yarn is in pink or blue, and we don't know what baby is going to be, so it seems silly to make anything in pink or blue. I suppose I could donate it later, but....

Thirdly, I am cranky and stressed and nothing is pleasing me, quite frankly. I am fighting the urge to pull everything out and start something new, or just start something new. My startitis has been terrible lately, as well as my stash guilt. I'm getting married in about two weeks, my car died two weeks ago and we're trying to buy a new one, and also plan for the future as far as making decisions on whether I should continue to work or not, and depending on that, how to choose a daycare provider for an infant. It's a bit much, especially with everything that's going on with work.

Fourthly, Christmas is coming up. Even though I swore up and down that nobody's getting anything knitted this Christmas except for baby, I want to make something, something for everyone. It can't be done, and I am vexed at the laws of time and space. Stupid science, bein' all inflexible. Humph. At the least I'd like to make a little baby doll for my parents, a scarf and a hat for my soon-to-be-in-laws (they've been so helpful), and possibly Christmas stockings for myself, Nyte, baby, and my parents (they don't have any stockings! Scandalous!). WTF, self.

In conclusion, I apparently think that I have the stamina and energy to knit like a fiend for the next few months instead of relaxing and enjoying what sleep I can get. Is there ever a point when one stops fighting that whole time/space continuum thing and just lets the holidays be?

Project updates! Finally.

Normally, I can't wait to have an excuse to stay home from work. I hate working in an office, any office, and as soon as I set foot in the building all I can think about is things I want to knit, or clean/sort/organize at home. Unfortunately, when one is obligated to stay home from work because of illness (as I did the past two days), that's usually because you can't function at all. And when you can't function, you can't clean/sort/organize/knit anything. Generally, you can't do anything except sleep and stare slack-jawed at the tv. (In my case, a third option is to sneeze and blow my nose every five minutes, give or take five minutes.)

However, I was feeling well enough last night to actually find the cord to my camera and upload a few pictures onto flickr. Pictures I took some time ago, and have been promising you.

So, without further ado:

Unfinished OSSP(2):


Finished OSSP (2)


Closeup of bottom:

OSSP 2 bottom

Closeup of duplicate stitch patterns, pine tree, squirrel and acorn:

OSSP 2 pine tree

OSSP 2 squirrel nuts

As always, there are a few more pics over at my flickr account, which if you click on any of the pictures should take you right there. I'm not showing closeups of the top, simply because I could have done a better job on it and the buttons are a little wonky anyway. But you can't tell from far away.

In other news, the cabled square for the SSP that I ripped out:

green square cabled

It's lovely, but far too big and used up far too much yarn. We're dealing with limited amounts of yarn and time, here, and it was simply too much of both. Switched to simple texture stitch patterns and some lace (but not too lacy, I hope), and am now able to get three 10x10 squares out of two skeins of the Plymouth Encore worsted. Held double, in this case, hence the size of them horshoe cables. Not quite life-sized, but too close for this project.

Isosceles liked the square, too. She claimed it, with her butt:

green square isosceles

It's something cats tend to do. And then she gnawed on the yarn. I can't blame her much...it's not bad, as acrylic/wool blends go.

isosceles has a square and yarns

(In the background, dishcloths cowering in terror.)

Speaking of dishcloths....

dishcloths doing what they do

In their natural habitat, a dirty sink. (Their natural habitat OUGHT to be a clean sink, but you work with what you have.) The multi-colored orange/green/yellow one still had its strings hanging out, but it has since been put to very good use. You can see it shivering at the mounds and mounds of dishes (offscreen) waiting to be washed.

I'm not the monogamous sort

Not when it comes to knitting projects.

So last night, instead of working on one of my existing knitting projects or cleaning something, I decided to cast on for something new. A little while ago I bought a little pop-up kitty tent, big enough for both of them if they curled up (and were inclined to share anything), or for one to stretch out a bit to sleep. Trouble is, it's a very thin synthetic fabric, and they're not inclined to sleep in it at all. They explore it now and then, but I couldn't say they're exactly excited to stick around. It smells funny, you see, which seems to both attract and repel them. Naturally, I'm convinced that all they need is a little bit of cushion for the bottom. Something nice to sleep on when the floor is chilly (I know that carpet doesn't get very chilly, but work with me, people). They love to sit on my knitting.....AHAH, I HAS AN IDEAR.

A few months ago during a chilly trip up to Nyte's parents' house, his mom gave me bags and bags of old yarn leftover from her mother's and grandmother's stashes. Old, old stuff, from the Era Of Scratchy, Hard-Wearing Yarns. Back when the "good stuff" was the scratchiest, because it lasted longer. When "orlon" (nylon) and acrylic hit the market, they had the same feel for the simple fact that knitters equated that texture with long wear and good quality. A lot of that has changed now, so let's not start with the synthetic-hate for the time being; there are communities for that sort of thing, y'all hear?

The result of this acquisition (which I totally didn't need, and OH GOD THE COLORS, but it's yarn, and I cannot say no to free yarn) is an eye-searing amalgam of solid itch. There's no way I could make a sweater out of this, even if I had enough colors for a whole one, and that goes double for hats and mittens and scarves. A blanket might be doable, but I have much softer yarn already destined for blankethood. What to do with this (because I don't think I could bring myself to give it away, ugly as it is)? Why....make something for people without skin.

Or rather, people with fur. Colorblind people with fur.


So, I grabbed some skeins (labels? What labels?) and held them double-stranded, and am now in the process of wonky-log-cabin-ing a little blankie for their tent. I think I'll use the scratchy (but sturdy and warm) stuff for the bottom, and then whip-stitch or cro-Kay another layer on made of the same stuff I used for Amelia's Pinwheel blanket, doubled and perhaps stranded with some leftover TLC. Something cushy and squishy and verra nice. Already I have a 10x10-inch square of garter stitch, in Christmas red and green. Next up: avacado and black. Oooh, baby. Eye-searing won't be strong enough of a descriptor pretty soon.

Then today at work, I knitted a few inches of Pillar Stitch in the oatmeal, and printed off a few more patterns for the other squares. I bet I could finish the white ones this weekend and get a solid start on the brown. I bet I could do even better if I don't play board games Saturday, and instead stay home and knit and clean. It may not be quite as fun, but I bet I could even get into the pinks by Sunday if I did that. And then, perhaps hint that if Maggie doesn't feel she has the time to do 12 squares, offer to do some of hers. Or maybe I should start blocking mine. I guess I could block stuff.

Maybe after that, and once the kitty mat is finished, I could start on the Dizzy Rug for the kitchen, to put under my tired feet when I'm washing dishes. Something bright and happy. And heavily backed with that rubber stuff.

...maybe I should start that NOW.

Well, crap.

So, the solitary square has a middle, a top, and one side. And it is way, way too big. Okay, maybe not WAY too big, but with cables and a bit of garter stitch, you'd think there'd be a bit of blocking room even with only 25% wool, right? Well, unblocked this sucker is about 10x11 already, and it's still missing two sides.

Le sigh.

Not only that, but I've used up half of one color, and there are only four colors. Assuming we get one square per skein, that's still only sixteen, possibly eighteen squares if we use my leftover Encore from the OSSP(2). 10x10 inch squares, but still. We were hoping for so much more than that.

The solution, then, is to rip out the square I've done and try something that doesn't use up as much yarn, as cabling is notorious for doing. Some sort of slip-stitch lace or simple textured patterns. Nothing that's going to distort the fabric the way the cables will. I may even make another square out of the extra Encore with only one strand, and the appropriately-sized needles, just to compare yarn consumption.

I thought I'd be far more upset about ripping out that square, but to be honest, I'm kind of glad. It didn't really take that much time, and it looks awful (well....I think so). I'd rather make something else of it anyway. But I'll take pictures, first. High time I did, ne?


Growing pains, right in the checkbook

Having a baby is a very expensive venture. Especially if your emotional response is to try to own or eat everything in the world, right now this very instant, which is apparently what my subconscious is telling me I must do. You see, I had an appointment on Monday morning. It was understandably emotional, since it was the first time I'd seen anything in there moving of its own volition that actually kind of looked vaguely human-shaped, and not the alien chestburster I was certain had infested Ohio (and me).

Naturally, I had to go to my therapy session...my retail therapy session.

Target is my choice of therapy providers, because although a yarn store can be fun, I can't rationalize six skeins of Crystal Palace cotton chenille as useful or necessary. Underwear, socks and cleaning supplies though....that can be rationlized from here to kingdom come, baby. And we DO need that mildew remover and those two packs of paper towels and some travel-sized mouthwashes, and two six-packs of white socks and a pair of earrings (shh, they're small, he won't notice) and lipstick and.....what? Like you've never done that?

Every time I go into a store, I am amazed by how much money I spend. It isn't that I'm stupid, or can't do math, I just....well, okay. I can't do math. Not in my head. Especially not when I'm talking to my mommy on the cellphone the whole time, discussing how freaking impossible it is to find a store wherein they have not just maternity clothes, not just maternity clothes that I would wear, but maternity clothes that would and CAN wear. Plus sizes, you see, have been banished to the outer reaches of the intarwebs. Like large shoe sizes, you don't get to try them on before you buy. No, you must trust their measurements and their workmanship and HOPE TO GOD that when they say "wide toe" they mean "wide toe" and not "average toe that kind of appears to be wide-ish from this angle, which is all we have to go on because no one in the warehouse wears this size and so we are kind of just guessing from the picture."

I don't want to go online, especially to buy foundation garments. Those are hard enough to get right when you're in the dressing room with six or seven in different cheery colors, guaranteed to show through whatever shirt you could possibly find to wear with them, assuming you can stand the underwires trying to bore through your batflaps and digging strange rune-like marks into your under-girls-area so deep that, should you be mummified in a freak accident involving huge amounts of those little silica gel packets you find in new handbags, will cause a hubbub of excitement among the archaeologists who find you a zillion years later and they'll assume those marks have some sort of bizarre religious significance involving fertility and sadomasochism. Future generations will surely be bad enough that they don't need that sort of confusion about their roots, you know? And yet, there it is.

I think I have digressed somewhere along the way.

What I really meant to talk about was that I have decided the SSP needs US size 13 needles and will go fairly quickly unless I have to swatch for every single frakking square. My answer to this is probably to knit the square, then pick up stitches on each side and log-cabin a garter-stitch until it's 10x10. Hi, wave at the genius over here. Plans for later tonight, assuming we don't go golfing with folks. Well, putt-putt golfing. Y'all know. Columbus may have actual hoity-toity golf courses with country clubs on them an golf tournaments that get televised, but we're going to putt-putt. Largely because none of us really golf like the big kids, and also, it's a six-year-old's birthday.

Does anyone remember how many pattern repeats I put into my dishcloths? Why don't I write this down anywhere?

....did you think that the subject line would have anything to do with the subject matter?


Put Your Head On My Needles

The good news is, I'm knitting again. I've finished two dishcloths and am well on my way to a third, in the mindset that simple knitting will ease me into the process again. I can do it at work, and that seems to help get me into the habit of knitting again. They're simple ballband dishcloths, which I've done a number of before and shall continue to do, except that these are for me, myself, and I. I'm keeping these babies, and so I can do whatever I want and make them as fussy or ugly or pretty as I want.

The bad news is, knitting at home on things I should be knitting on is still sort of limping sluggishly, if one could even call it moving at all. I haven't touched the OSSP(2), and it may in fact be trying to weasel its way between the couch cushions in well-deserved shame.

However! I did actually make some progress on the SSP, yay! And by "progress" I mean, of course, "taking the yarn out of the trunk of my car where it has been these past few months and brought it into the house, swatched an inch of garter stitch on size 11 needles and measured, then ripped it all out and put it down again." But it's something, and I'm counting it.

I would have gotten a good deal more done yesterday night, settling in with a big pot of tea and a night of Ghost Hunters reruns. Wednesdays are usually great nights for knitting in my house, largely because I like the ghost-chasey shows and the psychic detective shows that run on CourtTv until the wee hours of the morning, and they re-use so much of the same visual footage that without knitting to multitask with, I generally can't sit through a whole episode. That same re-using of footage means that when I hear a particularly excited voice, I can look up and catch whatever flashy-floaty-shadowy whatever that is the one piece of evidence the world has been searching for to prove the existence of Other Worlds Beyond Any Doubt. Y'all know.

Unfortunately, about twenty minutes into my gauge swatch on 13's, my stomach felt funny. Not angry, just....funny. It didn't get any better, and I stretched out on the couch to give it a chance to fix itself. Next thing I knew it was 11:30 and the Mythbusters were blowing up Christmas trees. Sadly, the same thing happened yesterday evening (only without the icky tummy or the Mythbusters), and while I know I do need sleep, I resent the lack of getting things done. Because really, not even getting through my gauge swatch? That's sad. That's so very sad.

I can tell now that these squares are going to fly. As long as I can find enough different patterns for the inside of the squares, there should be no problem at all whipping through them. Encore held doubled on size 11-15 needles (I'll figure out which one eventually) is very thick, and very cushy, and perfect for the SSP. Trust me.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the cool weather (under 75 F for late July? Scandalous!) and hopefully manage to stay awake long enough this evening to finish a freaking swatch. We don't want to anger the Muse of Knitting, so we shall swatch away like Good Little Knitters, and measure, and measure again, and perhaps wash the swatch and see how it goes. I've never done that before. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe I could change my free-spirited ways and get orthopedic inserts for my sneakers and always chew my food twenty-six times before swallowing and watch my sodium intake and stick thermometers into all my cooked meat to be sure it really is done.

Or, I could fly by the seat of my pants like I always do, and fix it if it doesn't work out the way I think it will. I mean, all that work...kind of takes the spontenaity out of the relationship with your project-in-progress, doesn't it? It's too new, I think, to put it through the rigors of checking and double-checking and triple-checking. Too early to buy the ring, if you know what I mean. Let's keep some mystery between us, some anticipation, some of that wiggly-tingly stuff in your stomach when you're finally alone together....yes, let's let the romance stew.


Long, dark tea-time of the hobbyist

I've been reading all the books (well, not all of them, just the ones I happen to have bought upon recommendation by some people, and even then only parts of each when they happen to be in reach and I happen to be waiting for something), and they all tell me that yes, it's normal to feel overwhelmed and not at all like doing anything, especially at times like this. I am speaking, of course, about The Change.

More specifically, the change your hobby undergoes when it no longer becomes good fun, but work. It starts out as a challenge, something exciting and new and interesting to keep your attention and make you feel accomplished and intelligent. You move on from one project to another, perhaps finishing them, perhaps not. You take on more projects, more things to occupy your time, and you enjoy the time you spend on it. It's rewarding, it's relaxing, and completely worth all the money and energy you devote to it. You start to build real skills, and the people around you begin to notice. You want to share your hobby with those you love, and suddenly for Christmas and birthdays they receive the fruits of your labor. Whether or not they like it, generally they encourage your new hobby and thank you politely for thinking of them. Maybe they didn't need a hand-stamped leather figurine of an owl or a duct tape wallet, or three wool hats with duckies, hunting dogs, and bluebirds on them (it being June and all), but it's the thought that counts, right?

After a while, you realize that you aren't being challenged anymore. You need to try something harder, bigger, more involved than anything you've done before. So you start getting involved in projects you would never wear/keep/buy, simply because they're different and look interesting. Surely someone you know will appreciate it. Grandma was just saying last Easter that she could really use a plant stand for her dining room, wasn't she? This one in the shape of a Chinese carp will surely fit into her pink-china-and-lace decor if she puts it in the right spot. China, Chinese....it's practically the same thing. Or a set of acrylic potholders in really bright, cheerful limes and neon oranges, like the ones you made Mom when you were in Boy Scouts, the little loops with the loom. This set will blow that one out of the water. There'll be flaming hearts on it. How is that not the coolest ever? Oh, right -- it's impossible not to be the coolest thing ever.

You load yourself down with projects, certain you can finish all of them before the appointed deadline (usually the holidays). Not giving someone a hand-made gift seems like a cop-out now. What would everyone think if you went out and bought that leather iPod case your sister was hinting at a few weeks ago, instead of giving her something that your time and love and blood and sweat went into? She might feel slighted! She might think you don't appreciate her as much as everyone else! The littlest bit of pressure creeps into the situation. (Note: the concept that she actually might want that iPod case does not actually enter the hobbyist's mind. If it happens to flit in, it is immediately dismissed by the following argument. The many evils of consumerism might possibly be included to further bolster your case.)

But that's no problem; you work great under pressure. You shine under pressure, and besides, it really isn't that much. Just a little unconditional love riding on this, that's all. No biggie. You have two weeks to finish the 50"x27" glass mosaic panel; no problem at all.

And then, something goes wrong.

It starts out small at first. Innocuous. A mere distraction to the task at hand. The green sea glass you ordered is neither green nor glass? Well....that's okay. You can work around that part until the correct order comes in. Then the putty you're using to anchor the pieces begins to degrade in the humidity. Did you not mix it correctly? Is it expired? Does it have to be immediately sealed? Tension mounts. You may find yourself thinking about it driving to and from work, while at your desk, while talking to other people. You may find you can't talk about anything else. You may think that telling other people about it will keep you motivated.

And then, when you're well into the project, the Big Thing hits. The doves spiraling around the fountain in the center are too far to the right, and look more like big, white cicadas. The fountain itself is crooked. Somewhere along the way, you skipped six inches of instruction. Somewhere way, way back.

Perhaps there are several Big Things. Perhaps your kid comes down with a mysterious fever, or you must work extra hours at work, or the weekend trip to the lake you thought was well after your deadline is actually tomorrow, taking three precious days of solid project work out of your timeline.

And suddenly, you can't stand the thing. You don't even want to look at it. People you told ask about it, and you turn green. Maybe you explain the problem, maybe you don't. Maybe you deny its existence at all. Maybe you bundle up the bits and pieces and shove it into the closet, and promise your sister a project as soon as it's done.

And it sits there, lurking in the dark. Lurking in the back of your mind. Waiting.

Maybe you forget about it entirely. Maybe one day, you're working on one of eight other projects and you stumble across the remains and wonder what on earth this was for. Maybe you have stashed and forgotten it so well, you actually use some of the pieces for other projects. Eventually, though, the realization will dawn on you.

Oh. That project. The one that beat you.

If you've let it sit long enough, there might be several. Ones that perhaps someone requested, ones that you weren't really interested in, but were happy to make. You like making things for people, after all. But maybe you didn't like the materials, or the instructions are hard to understand, or there are just other things you're more interested in making and somehow these projects just kind of find their way into the corners of your house, under books and bills and cats and toys, to resurface at an embarrassing moment when you've just begun three other projects new.

Maybe you resolve now and then to finish them all up. Maybe you realize that some are not meant to be, and break them down into their basic compenents to be fodder for other things. Maybe you make lists upon lists upon lists of what you'll do next, what you'll finish before you spend anymore money on this hobby, and clip various strategies to keep yourself motivated. Maybe you'll pay attention to them, or, if you're like me, the lists and strategies will be lost in the same mysterious manner as those unfinished projects.

Regardless, at this point your hobby isn't so fun anymore. There are a number of things you'd like to try, but the mass of other unfinished projects are watching you. You can feel it like a physical force, little bits of yarn or glass or plastic or wood whispering things in your ear when you're trying to sleep, or especially when you pull out the materials for a new project - just one this time, you swear! - from among the unfinished ones, and slink away guiltily.

Now, your hobby holds no joy. All you can think of are the things you need to do. A hat for Bob, a dress for your niece's wedding, a carved cigar box for Grandpa, a new pantry for your wife. You might even try to distract yourself by cleaning, or organizing your space, or helping out with chores you normally wouldn't touch with the poky end of a broom.

And this, my friends, is where I find myself. I want to enjoy knitting, but I can't. There are so many big projects for other people in the way that I am overwhelmed. It isn't that I don't want to do these projects, because I do - just....just not right now. And there are even a lot of things I've started for myself, blankets and teapot cozies and more blankets, and now there's a new one on the way who needs his or her own knitted things, and....and I don't have time.

Maybe it's the fatigue, or the hormones, or the huge list of things to catch up on, or the sock yarn eying me from the bookcase I shoved it into, or the stupid, stupid, wretched and miserable diet the doctor put me on. I don't know. Maybe it's everything. I don't know.

What I do know is that I would rather swallow a handful of prenatal pills than look at the OSSP(2). All I can see is its flaws. All I can see are the color jogs and the place where I tried to duplicate stitch and it looked like crap and I ripped it out in a fit of pique. All I can see are the wonky applied i-cord edgings and the uneven tension, and the snags from Isosceles' kneading when I wasn't paying attention. And the cat hair.

All it needs is two buttons and something done with the bottom hem, that's all. That's all. I don't have to fill in the cream space, I can just thread two thin ribbons through the stitches, one pink and one blue, and tell the recipient to take one out when we know what the baby is, or heck, whichever color she prefers. I could even make little belt loops if I felt really ambitious (which I don't, but I could). The point is, it's SO CLOSE TO DONE.

I just can't look at it right now. And the worst part is, I can't enjoy the dishcloths I'm making either, because all I can think about is the SSP I should be working on instead. You know, the one that's supposed to be nearly done by now, even though the deadline is no longer so pressing because there has been no progress on the recipient's part to actually finalize her divorce and get married to her fiance. She's distracted, which gives me more time, which is as good as it is bad. (Here I go again, thinking that a deadline will make things easier for me instead of more stressful, when all you have to do is look at the OSSP(2) to see that deadlines really don't do all that much besides make me feel bad about myself. I had two perfectly good evenings to get it done before the shower, and while I might not have finished it completely, I'd have gotten super-close. Instead, I watched tv and didn't do anything. I was too overwhelmed to move.)

I'm definitely not making a wedding shawl now. I should really save up for things like a wedding dress, invitations, renting a reception hall, and a cake. You know, that stuff that nobody's going to randomly decide to buy for us. Stuff we may want, come October. (September for some of those. Earlier for others.) The point is, it's another big project and I don't have the heart to do it. Granted, I don't need one, but I'm more concerned about the fact that I don't have the drive. I've wanted to do lace for months. I've wanted to make myself something for even longer.

Alas. Those UFO's (unfinished objects) keep talking to me in my brain, and there isn't room for anything else. Maybe I need a tinfoil hat.

Socky pickchurs

Oh hey, remember me? Yeah, I'm pretty much still around and stuff. I know I said I had these picture-taking skills, but they're not as good as my other skills, like nunchucks or something. These guys wanted me to join their gang once. I'm pretty good with a bo-staff. But I guess I'm not so good at posting the pictures once I'm done with them. Gosh! Idiot!

Anyway, here's some pictures I made. They're probably the best I've ever done. The shading on the upper lip took me probably an hour.*
(As always, click on the pics for teh bigz.)

northern lights finished socks 2

See how there's a tight spiral on one sock, and a slow lumpy twist on the other? The cuffs of each sock did the opposite; tight spiral cuff = slow lumpy twist on foot, and slow lumpy twisty cuff = tight spiral on foot. Pretty cunning, isn't it?

northern lights finished socks 1

These pictures are pretty good on color. The color is the best part, honestly.

northern lights finished socks left instep

Left foot instep, there. Heel flap and shaping. Very nice. Plain heel, no fancy sturdy or eye-of-partridge stitches or any such thing.

I completely forgot to take pictures of the afghan I knit on the US 50 needles with the four-stranded Lion Brand Homespun. The reception was this weekend, and I barely had time to shove it into a pretty bag and write out the tag. I didn't even have time to de-hair it (my kitties sent along their best furry wishes too), which shames me to no end, and I really, really hope no one in the house is violently allergic to cats, dust, or general untidiness. So in that respect, I sucketh heartily. And yet the world moves on, somehow.

However, I did manage to snap a few low-light pics of the OSSP, the Hoover Baby Blanket in Encore. So, not a complete and utter failure, just partly.

Hoover blanket detail other side

One side is completely chocolate, but look at the needles! What is that I spy? Double-knitting, the slowest of all possible knitting techniques! (Possibly slower even than attempting to grow out your own hair, spin it, and knit it into a gansey. This is not a scientific fact, only a scientific suspicion.) That's how it seemed, at any rate, before and after I discovered I was with pod and then ripped it out.

Hoover blanket detail

And the other side! A swath of cream, comfy and pure against the chocolate. I have the technique down, but I don't think I'll be using it until I'm far more motivated than my first-trimester-can't-be-arsed-to-do-anything self currently is. Although I must admit, I did feel awfully brilliant carting it around and pulling it out for people to goggle at. I mean, I generally didn't even make it a whole row before I put it away again and slumped back in my seat to put all my energy into not being a mouth-breather, but you know...priorities.

In the meantime, some temptation in the form of sock yarn descended from Ye Olde Knitpicks, and I unhanked and balled it up with glee. I like looking at it. I like touching it. Again, however, can't be arsed to knit it up into something. Admittedly, I'm already in the middle of a pair of socks, and it would be terrible to abandon Nyte's Socks Of Ginormity so close to the heel turn, with so many projects already needing my attention. And they are indeed ginormous.

Example: When we went to Nyte's graduation, it was held at OSU's stadium. The one that holds over 100,000 people, I am told. We were far, far away. The only way we recognized Nyte in the black-gowned flood of graduates was his particular gait, and his great, big, white sneakers.

Nyte Graduation 2007 standing in line

I wasn't kidding, was I? Size 14E feet are nothing to take lightly. And you know what they say about guys with big feet (wink wink, nudge nudge). **

Where were we? Oh yes! Sock yarn.

knitpicks sock yarn

Colors are Yukon (the blue and white), Cape Cod (navy/tan), Fly Fishing (green/blue/brown), and S'mores (brown/tan/white). Delish, kiddos. Delish.

But gasp! What is this? A ballwinder for my birthday? Oh darling, you shouldn't have! (You should have. I'm glad you listened to me.)

Yarny cakes and ball winder

Look at these lovely, stackable, tidy little yarny cakes! I am absurdly pleased and amused. I would venture to say my pleasedness is ludicrous for such a small toy, in the grand scheme of things. And yet, look at the Trekking XXL on the left, there! Tidy, orderly, ready to be center-pulled both cakes at one time, still connected on the outside in case the yarny division was unequal. No knots, no cutting, just orderly beauty. And just behind, the S'mores sock yarn in all its brown glory! And in front of that, the cream Encore, and behind both (and barely visible), the chocolate Encore! No more balls rolling around the living room (provoking kitty to kill) or off the shelves (where I keep it when I don't want kitty to kill), all colors displayed delightfully...so happy. I took a lot of pictures of the caked yarn, but they are gratuitous and kind of blurry.

Well. Okay, one more.

Yarny cakes

Ah. That does my little nauseated soul good.

Now, all this is not to say that I haven't been knitting at all. No, for there is still gaming on Sunday evening, and even I can't sit there idle for a whole six hours (something about the tv not being on makes a difference; these guys are not as entertaining, apparently). I actually made a Swiffer cover Sunday, and finished it Monday, I do believe.

I looked up the many, many ways a Swiffer cover can be made. These covers are much preferred over the little maxi-pads you have to buy each time you want to mop your floor, which are held on by Velcro strips. These things are expensive after a while, not to mention made of plastic and thus not at all biodegradable (last I checked, anyway). All the patterns highly recommend the use of cotton, since you'll be mopping your floor with it. However, there are a number of ways to go about the knitting (or crocheting) such a cover. You see, the cover has to somehow stay on the mop, and securely enough that the offending floor can be properly scrubbed.

Some patterns start with a simple rectangle in whatever pattern (the ballband dishcloth of Mason-Dixon fame is popular) one chooses, then pick up all the border stitches with a circular or double-points and knitting decreases at the corners, until you cover the whole back of the mop and cinch it shut around the mop handle with an i-cord drawstring. Secure, I think, but a whole lot of work and a whole lot of cotton.

Some patterns tell you to knit a rectangle several inches longer than your Swiffer, fold the excess ends over and sew them along the top and bottom, so that the sides of the mop can slip into the little pockets. If you measure your gauge and your Swiffer mop head accurately, and given cotton's penchant for shrinking slightly with each wash, it seems a fairly easy way to secure the cover.

HOWEVER. Cotton may shrink in the dryer, but when you get that baby wet it's going to stretch back out again, Jack. Not to mention you have to do some measuring and some swatching, and as per usual, I couldn't be arsed.

So, I cast on some stitches using Sugar & Creme kitchen cotton, using up my leftovers and oddballs. I knitted the ballband dishcloth pattern (reverse stockinette "bricks" should be keen for scrubbing, and the spaces can house hair and gunk) for...a while...a little while more...etc. Didn't measure my Swiffer. Was confident I could make it work.

Monday, decided to actually measure the blasted thing. (I'd run out of the little maxi-pad mopheads well over a week ago, and the kitchen floor was a sight.) My particular mop is 4.5x10.5 inches. My rectangle? 6.5x17-some inches.


Well. Okay then. Finished the pattern repeat, whipped up a 2-row garter-stitch border, bound off, and measured furiously. It's ridiculously big, but I fixed that. I wove in short pieces of cotton and braided them into ties, two on each side toward the middle of the rectangle, which shall tie around the mop handle and stabilize my creation.


...did you think I had pictures yet? Pffft.

And now, a parting thought:

Grove City taste 1

What the hell is this doing in my neighbor's yard, and what the hell is it for?

The world may never know. At least, I sure won't.

*Don't ask me why I seem to be channeling Napoleon Dynamite. I don't know any better than you do.
** They wear big shoes.

Which muse is the one for knitting?

I hope you weren't expecting a progress report, because I have actually made negative progress, in the grand scheme of things. Hearken to my words, all you new knitters out there, still flushed with excitement at new discoveries and woolly fumes, triumphs over p3tbl and your first lace swatch. There will come a time in your life, dear friends, when you will Not Want To Knit.

It is a dark and frightening place. You may think about knitting, or of all the projects that need to be done RIGHTNOWOMGWTFBBQ, and somehow nothing will actually happen. You may even pick up your knitting and lay it in your lap, arrange yourself into whatever habitual setup you have, and nothing will happen. You may even discover that the object over which you found yourself obsessing barely a week ago has become anathema to your very soul, and you may, in a fit of pique, rip the whole blasted thing out and find yourself unable to continue.

You may think it a lack of motivation, a personal flaw preventing you from Being All You Can Be, and may muck about in the swamp of self-doubt and shame. Your personal goals may fall by the wayside, abandoned like so much noodled yarn (of which you have in abundance since you just frogged half a project in aforementioned fit of pique) scooting itself sadly under the sofa.

The sad truth is, however, that your muse has abandoned you. The knitter's version of writer's block is a frustrating and confusing time of self-reflection and changes. You may experience strange new urges, hair growth in new and strange places, and something resembling the plague popping up around the head and shoulders region. (Sorry. Wrong set of changes. For a better explanation of those sorts of changes, please consult Eddie Izzard's complete body of works.) Wool holds no fuzzy joy. Novelty yarn, not so full of novelty. Even silk and cashmere, though delightful at any other time, will languish unmolested on the shelf.

These doldrums are a time of trials and suffering, when Other Shit must be done first, or when your creative juices flow in a different direction, or when, like me, you are too freaking exhausted to remember to eat and must have someone poke you in the back of the neck with a carrot and scare the bejeebus out of you so you'll wake up long enough to take in enough calories to keep the evil nausea away.

I may or may not have based all this on recent events. I also may or may not have torn out the OSSP and begun a second project. And by "begun" I of course mean "cast on and miscounted and cast on again and realized that the circular needle I had was way too big to actually work in the round and instead of going to get a properly-sized circular upstairs, laid it on the couch beside me and watched tv until I fell asleep again, which took less than 15 minutes." I mean, those are practically the same thing.

Do not lose hope, Knitters Without Muses. The time will pass. Your energy will return, your creativity will one day show up at an inconvenient moment and you'll find yourself hunting down a store, any store, that sells both sticks and string, even though you should probably be somewhere else important. And you'll pick it up again and it'll be like nothing happened.

I hope. God, I hope.