Saturday, August 25, 2007

In which I steal a time-out

What is the etymology of "stole," I wonder? Does it have anything to do with the verb?

My stole, little thief that it is, has taken me for a joy ride. The kind of joy ride that ends with a white bronco pursued by police and helicopters at 10 mph on a freeway somewhere; the kind of joy ride that ends with a red Chevy Malibu on fire on the side of the road, teenage hoodlums fleeing the scene on foot. Rubberneckers beware!

Lace hubris has done me in. Zipping along (for me, that is) on clue 6, nearly halfway through, I thought about placing a lifeline. Next row, I thought. I'll just count this one and make sure I'm still on track. Maybe I don't need a lifeline at all. Breezily, I began to count the tidy line of purls I had just completed.

And, as I blissfully counted, humming a merry lace-expert sort of tune, the YO stitch at the end of the short row--so in the middle of my circular--surreptitiously hopped off and dropped about 15 rows down. It's hard to tell, because in trying to fix this error, I realized that I can read lace when I'm doing it, I can even fix small errors and tink back successfully, but I can't for the grace of sweet Horus figure out how to repair a line of dropped yarn overs. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I'm off to the yarn store this afternoon to beg help. And perhaps whiskey.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which I trust too much, too soon

I have a habit of trusting. Trusting directions, trusting signs, trusting people. Over the years this has usually been a good habit, albeit one that has led to several bad haircuts (a spiral perm would look great on you!), a wild goose chase for the San Jacinto Monument near Houston (slough? what slough?), and a couple of spectacularly painful breakups.

This time it was not my hair, thank goodness, but something nearly as important to my current psyche: my camera cord. The umbilicus that transcends time and space to pour my photos into my hard drive.

And whom, you ask, did I trust? (Who? whom? You'd think I'd know that one but it's still frickin painful for me.)

My students.

Don't get me wrong--I make a business and a policy of trusting the fifteen-to-eighteen-year-olds with whom I spend my days. (I KNOW for a fact whom is correct in THAT sentence.) I don't think I could teach high school if I couldn't trust them. I just make very sure that they know the natural consequences that will arise should my trust prove to have been invested poorly. I'm sort of the mortgage broker of the trust world.

I'm just meeting this current set of students, most of whom (there it is again!) I have not had in class due to my Year Of The Bambinos. And they borrowed my camera cord. And it did not return. Alas. Note to self: trust teenagers, but always double-check the camera case.

So no photos until I can get/find a replacement--which is probably a good thing considering that MS3 seems to have stalled even though I swear I'm doing a good 10 rows a day...and Baby E's sweater is a back and a couple of hems, and everything else is only in my head...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

In which I see with fresh eyes

This is Isabella. She is a Jordana Paige design, found in the spring 2007 Knitty.

I know I must have seen her before. After all, I obsessively read Knitty, virtual cover to cover. But I guess I never truly saw her until today. Suddenly I must have her. She is my everything. Never mind the Cascade Pastaza waiting patiently downstairs to be wound and knitted into a kick-ass Stefanie Japel design. never mind the mystery stole, languishing away in the middle of clue 5. never mind the slippers I promised my dad for his birthday (in May).

She's all I can think about.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In which the magic happens

Socks are magical.

I made my first pair last fall and was immediately hooked. It seems I'm not alone, judging by the number of sock-making books I've seen reviewed lately.

Cat Bordhi's Coriolis design is especially genius. (And free, even better, though I know I'm going to buy the new book as soon as possible.) The yarn is held doubled, so the result is a thick, squishy pair of warm socks.

Yarn: 2 balls of KnitPicks Memories in Geranium. (no longer available?) I used all but about 2.5 yards of the 440--pretty proud of my efficiency!
Needles: one size 5 Addi Turbo 24", one size 5 KnitPicks Options 24" (The pattern calls for sixes, but my Austermann Step pair turned out just a touch large, so I went down a needle size)
Modifications: I changed the bindoff. The pattern calls for 5 rows of seed stitch, then a normal bindoff using 4 strands of yarn--I couldn't figure out how to do that, plus didn't want to have extra ends to weave in. Instead, I did: 4 rows of seed stitch then: k2 in pattern, return these 2 to left needle, k2tog tbl (results in one st on right needle); *k1 in pattern (2 sts on right needle), sl 2 sts to left needle, k2tog tbl. Repeat from * until all sts bound off.

Monday, August 06, 2007

In which a swallowtail takes flight

In current news, I got my Ravelry invite! Username Wordpurler--come say hi!

I'm slowly catching up my knitblogging to my actual knitting. I just love knitting so much...and we've had such a busy summer...and so much of my computer time has been taken up with MS3 e-mails...that even though I've had so much to say, not much of it has actually ended up here. That's the irony. I have a lot to say this summer...thoughts, ideas, commentary on other blogs, the purpose of blogging, courtesy on the internet, books I've read...when I started blogging, tentative as it was, I wondered if I'd have enough to say. I stressed about it being PUBLIC (as though the knitting community would be knocking down doors to find my little site, just one among the hordes, a fledgling flying with the flock). Now I wonder if I can ever stop having things to say.

Two weeks ago, we dressed up as HP characters and headed off to our local bookstore's Deathly Hallows release party. M was Professor Lupin--he really looked like him! Got double-takes all night--I was Molly Weasley, and Mr. D was Harry in his Invisibility Cloak. There were approximately 1857 kids dressed as Harry that night, but none in Invisibility Cloaks...nice.

My Molly costume looked pretty good, I thought; I bought an oversized wool cardigan at Goodwill and embroidered old knitting swatches with "M" and "W", then sewed them onto the sweater. I teased out my hair and wore bright earrings, shirt, socks, and shoes. At the last minute I decided to wear my Swallowtail shawl--I know Molly doesn't probably have much time for knitting for herself, what with all those Christmas sweaters, but if she did knit for herself, a bright red shawl seems just the ticket. I draped it over my shoulders and we set off.

It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night, and most of the festivities were outdoors on the Village Green. Fire contests...butterbeer--thank goodness for natural fibers, because my (wool) sweater and (wool) socks kept me warm and semi-dry until the craziness had ended.

There was more excitement in store for me than just finishing the saga I've been reading since 1999, though.

- to be continued -

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In which I wing it

The Mystery Stole entitled Swan Lake.

I finished Clue 4, just two days "behind", and will be continuing with the Clue 5 pattern as written, even though it now includes a WING. (Or maybe because it contains a wing!)

Being on this group has been an education in internet manners and mores, that's for sure. I have only posted a few times, but have read nearly every one of the thousands of posts/e-mails. Most are supportive, humorous, and kind...some are clueless and ungrammatical...but some folks are just plain rude, intentionally or otherwise. (Just like in real life, I guess.)

Friday, after clue 5 and the theme were announced, someone posted that they were very disappointed and that the project had been a "waste of time and materials." The poster was immediately flamed in a rally-the-troops, knitterly kind of way. I wanted to post, but I didn't want to do it in a flaming, emotional way. Because--at first I was disappointed, too. I don't know anything about ballet--I have no emotional attachment to Swan Lake--and I had really hoped the theme would be Theseus and Ariadne. But these were MY issues, not Melanie's. There was also that bit of letdown in discovering the "answer" to a mystery. No more speculation, no more suspense; it is what it is, and it is Swan Lake.

I thought about it for a day, and then this is what I posted:

I have to admit that I, too, had a moment of thinking of setting it down...but then I thought of all I've learned so far, the fun I'm having seeing the lace grow on my needles, and of being a part of this neat community of knitters with all our varied and various backgrounds, and I decided to keep on. I've never worn a stole before, ever, and what's the difference if it has a wing or not? I can pretend to be Louis from The Trumpet of the Swan (another favorite childhood story, along with the fairy tale of the girl spinning flax for her swan brothers to break the spell). And I may become entranced with stoles and thank Melanie my whole knitting life for creating an accessible and challenging project that started me off!

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the conversations about and around the "Disappointed" post.

I didn't want to flame the writer, because she was clearly speaking from the heart. But what bothered me, and it's taken until today for the thought to gel in a way I could express it clearly, was what seemed to be anger at Melanie, as though the design was meant to be a trick or a "gotcha!". Anyone who has been reading Melanie's posts can see she is a thoughtful, capable, creative designer who cares very much about the experience that "her knitters" are having. But even our favorite designers don't always create items we would want to knit or wear. Hanami, Scheherezade, and Leda's Dream are each lovely, and each very different, and "Swan Lake" is different still!

We need to keep providing Melanie with feedback on how the project is going for us and how we feel about this design. After all, we're a huge pool of test knitters! Constructive criticism is an artist's most valuable information.

That said, there's a big difference between providing constructive criticism and being just plain critical. Every comment we make or question we bring up as we work our way through this project is helpful to Melanie in creating her final pattern, and the vast majority of comments and questions have been helpful, interesting, and stated with kindness.

In reading the "Disappointed" post, I wasn't upset that there was a knitter who decided to set the project aside--I was upset that it was stated in a way that *seemed* like a personal attack on Melanie; it bothered me because it *seemed* discourteous, not because I thought the author should lock-step-knit her way to a stole she's not crazy about.

Aside from the tips and tricks for creating wonderful/airy/warm/winged lace, the funny/heartwarming/exciting/amazing stories (Matilda danced with both Nureyev AND Baryshnikov? I'm trembling), my most valuable takeaway from this is the 30% Nicer rule of thumb on internet communications.