Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breaking the Boyfriend Curse - A Formula

So, I gave the tall man the sweater on Monday, and here it is Thursday, and can you believe it, he hasn't dumped me. Take that boyfriend curse!
So, when exactly do you knit your boyfriend a sweater? In this case, it was kind of, what came first, the sweater or the boyfriend -- I had been wanting to knit the Cobblestone Sweater from the minute I got my hands on the Fall Interweave, and really, I was just looking for an excuse to knit it. That's not to say that I didn't want to knit him something, I did. So the bottom line was a classic SAT tautology:

I want to knit the Cobblestone sweater (I want to knit x)
I want to knit him a birthday present (I want to knit y something for z)
I will knit him the Cobblestone sweater for his birthday. (I will knit x for y for z)

Not quite E=mc2d, but brilliant nonetheless! If you can plug your desires into that simple formula - knit him a sweater, or knit him socks, or knit him anything you damn well please, and don't worry about any silly curse.

Not only have I cracked this simple equation worthy of DaVinci Code notoriety, I discovered something else. I have more in common with my mother than I thought I did. Whenever I visit my parent's house, it can be 9:00 a.m., it can be 3 p.m., it can be right after eating a giant Thanksgiving dinner, and my mom will ask, did you have enough to eat? Knitting this sweater for a 6'4" guy, I was constantly asking myself "is it big enough?" and relatedly, "do you think I have enough yarn, do I have enough yarn?" Of course, I ask myself the same thing when I'm knitting for myself. Am I following the pattern? Yes. Am I on gauge, yes? Did I buy the recommended amount of yarn? Yes. So, the question really is as silly as "have you had enough to eat?" after scarfing down turkey, stuffing, potatoes, string beans, carrot soufle, and pie.
But, I was really worried this time, not play worried, like when I knit for myself. I tricked him into giving me his chest size (hey honey, what size suit do you wear, Robin is knitting her boyfriend a sweater and he's about the same size). I tried subtly asking him how long his arms are, not an easy question to throw into regular banter, and I got an answer I'll just keep to myself. So, while we were at Stitches, four women holed up in a hotel room, knitting in bed, I had Kate call her 6'3 boyfriend, and had him measure himself, as well as his 6'4" brother. They were inches over what was called for in the pattern (22 inches from the arm pit to the bottom, and a 22 inch sleeve from the joining of the yoke to a bit passed the wrist!)

Now, I was really nervous -venturing beyond the parameters of the pattern! So while I had 20 balls of Kathmandu Aran, at a 100 yards a ball, and the pattern called for 18 balls, I still bought 6 more balls from Webs. And lucky that I did, because I did need one - sigh of relief. Sweater complete, it fits, and I didn't run out of yarn.

Sorry the pictures suck - I was right down to the wire when he came over on Monday. I'll try to get better pictures when he actually wears it. The fit was perfect, although the sleeves at the bottom were a little loose for his taste - a little rolling at the bottom, and all was well. What you really can't see in these pictures is how beautiful this yarn is - it's a dark green, with flecks of reds, yellows, and more greens. It has a smidge of cashmere in it, and it is yummy. And, if you're looking for something to knit for yourself - lookie here - the new Winter 2007 Interweave Knits preview, in which Miriam Felton, of Icaraus and friends fame, has a new pattern in Kathmandu -

And, as you know - I have no need for a formula for myself - I see it, I like it, I knit it - this might end up in my queue - because I love this yarn!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rhinebeck 2007

After the buying free for all that was Stitches (yes, I have a camera, yes, I will blog about my purchases), I wasn't completely looking forward to Rhinebeck. The weather was iffy, I was broke, I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head, and I was broke. So, when Courtney bailed due to impending childbirth, and the trip was a 50/50 no-go, I felt a strange kind of relief - I was going to be saved from the crack, er yarn. But, Kate really really wanted to go, the trip was on, and we were in the car, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, heading towards Rhinebeck. As I was getting in the car, my almost five-year old niece called to chat:

Niece: Aunt Wendy, I think it would take 57 days to walk to Florida.
Me: Interesting.
Niece: And it would take 39 days to walk to Colorado.
Me: It would take less time to walk to Colorado than Florida, why is that? Colorado is farther.
Niece: Because Mickey Mouse lives in Florida.

And, from that, I kind of just let my stress about money go - there's just no logic to things, really. Who cares my bank account is empty, Mickey Mouse lives in Florida!

Last year, I stayed at the Bates Motel, where one would certainly go to kill oneself, in I think Hyde Park. This year, since we waited so long to book a room, we stayed at the Pleasant Valley Inn, in, where else, Pleasant Valley. The last five miles of the trip were something straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was rainy, it was dark, it was windy. The roads were slick, and twisty. Kate's hands gripped the wheel, her nose was practically pressed against the dashboard, trying to see. We found our motel, grabbed our stuff, and hustled to our room, 103. All of the rooms were numbered 101, 102, 103, except this one -- Room 23. Outside Room 23, a man in a black hoody lounged in a beach chair. Others milled around in the doorway, wearing boxer shorts and wife beaters. Iron Maiden blasting, the proprietor of Room 23 said "if we're too loud for you girls, just let us know!" We ducked our heads, nodded, and kept moving - into the room, and safety. At one point, while we were watching t.v., the music went off, and all I could hear was a loud buzzing. Uch, I said, they must have blown out their speaker, that reverb is killing me. Kate got up to investigate. She peaked through the blinds, but as she was standing there, she noticed the sound was coming from our room - our refrigerator. She yanked the cord out of the wall, the noise stopped, and we immediately went to sleep - enough time awake at this not so Pleasant motel.

Luckily, between the evening and the morning we only spent 45 waking minutes at what we would come to call Hotel Meth, featuring lovely decor, like this lamp that I found in our closet. In the morning, I ventured into the shower - I turned the water on, it was cold, I let it run. I started to smell something, something that smelled, well, like ass. As the water got hotter, the smell got more pungent, like the smell of warm death, as Kate put it. We quickly got dressed, grabbed our things, and bolted passed Room 23. The door to Room 23 was open. I peaked inside - they're were mattresses strewn around the room, litter, clothes, but there were also tools, and saw horses, and sketchy equipment lying around as well. Between the smell from the water, and the makeshift industrial look of the room, there was only one explanation - we had stayed at a meth lab. Hotel Meth.

We tried to return the key, but drat, the door was locked! Were we going to be stuck at Hotel Meth for all eternity!!!! Luckily, some woman poked her nose through a curtain, and pointed for Kate to just leave the key on the windowsill. She dropped the key, and we made a run for it.

And, we ran towards food, preferably not laced with crystal meth. We stopped at a roadside mom and pop farm stand, and they directed us to the historic Red Hook diner, in historic Red Hook, dubbed the "cutest little town ever," by Kate.

The Historic Red Hook Diner is modeled after the original Silk City Diner, so we felt right at home. And boy did they make us feel at home, as they stuffed us with pure, unadulterated maple syrup, sweet potato pancakes, homefries, omelets, and sausage with gravy and biscuits:

Shockingly well-rested, and clearly well-fed, we were ready for Rhinebeck.

Last year, I arrived at the fairgrounds early, snuck in, and bolted for the Socks that Rock. This year, I have unknit STR's all over my house, 2 skeins sacrificed to moths, and laceweight purchased at Stitches. We got to the festival at 11:00, totally skipped the Fold and Brooks Farm (which I also purchased at Stitches), and while we did start in Building A, home of both vendors, we were relaxed and uncrazed. Within minutes, we ran into Carol, our Black Bunny proprietress, and Laura, co-author of an upcoming Interweave book, with Carol and Lisa, of Rosies.
Carol and Laura had left Philly around 5:00 a.m., and while Hotel Meth wasn't exactly the Four Seasons, or Motel 6 for that matter, I was glad we had each invested $30/night in order to avoid that ungodly morning start.

So, what did I buy? I completely forgot to photograph them - but, I can tell you, I spent under $100. And, you know, I really didn't have to restrain myself from anything - I was just enjoying the fall weather, the beautiful scenery, and making friends with the livestock. I did buy sweater quantity worsted from Shadyside Farm, no gimics, no fancy multi's, just a solid chartreuse from the sale bin, that I completely snatched as someone else was waivering on reaching for it. I also got a fingerless mitt kit from Carolina Homespun in pinks, and sweater quanity Morehouse bulky, which I'll chat about below. Most importantly, however, I got the knob to fix my wheel. I wish I remembered the name of the vendor - this guy helped me out last year, and he was equally helpful this year. Both years, I pointed to a part on the wheel that I was missing, and he went into his secret tool box, and found the part I needed. When I got home, I had a terrible head cold, so I wasn't in the mood for spinning, but I did need to know if it was going to work. So, I quickly banged in the nob, threaded the bobbin, and spun for a few seconds - lookie! There's take-up! I have a brake! I can make yarn. So, I'll save some practice spinning for later in the week, when it doesn't feel so much like exercise.

By lunchtime, I had still not bought anything, and Kate was the big spender - sweater quantity at Green Mountain Spinnery, and sweater quantity at another small farm that basically sold Green Mountain Spinnery. For lunch, we stopped at the 4H counter, and I had my now traditional lunch - lamb chilli.
I love supporting 4-H, anything that brought livestock to Warminster, PA is a gem in my book, as many of my friends were 4H'rs. (I was not - my cityfolk parents knew nothing of cows, bunnies and farming). There is something strange about chowing down on lamb, when you're surrounded by very much alive sheep, but ah well, it's just too good to resist.

So, like I said, I made friends with the animals, did my Dr. Doolittle thing, instead of buying their wares. Here are some of my new friends - alpacas, and goats, and rams, and a turtle - oh my!

And, here's the lovely fall foliage:

And then, it was time to sit down, beat.

We left the fairgrounds at about 4:45, and went to the Morehouse store. Last year, going at the same time as the closing of the festival, the store was a madhouse. This year, we completely beat the crowd, and were able to poke around at our leisure. Sheep's Clothes is everyone's dream yarn store. A cornacopia of color, arranged by weight. After feeling up nearly every weight in the store, Kate had to ask, why isn't everything merino? Everything could be merino, and we'd probably all be happy, but what would the poor Blue Faced Leicester, or the Cormo do? There's room for every sheep in the herd, but merino is a total dream.
While I'm sure there was probably more sale yarn earlier, we did manage to get our hands in a big bin of yarn, and I walked away with a rust colored bulky to make the bandwagon sweater, as we call it at Rosie's, because everyone is knitting it - the moss stitch, asymetrical cardigan/jacket from Drops.
And then, we were done - Kate walked out of the Morehouse Store, last purchase in hand. And, we hit the road, back to Philly, making plans for nexxt year's Rhinebeck, and more grateful than you could ever imagine, that we did not have to return to Hotel Meth!

In other news, the bf Cobblestone sweater is indeed done, has been gifted, and properly appreciated it - pictures later in the week!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Notes from the Not So Underground

Have I really not posted since September? Time flies when you're having fun, or when you're not having exactly what I'd call fun, i.e., cleaning, but I guess time just flies 'cause it's life. So, here's a quick rundown of the lowdown -

1. Lack of Blogging - I have wanted to blog, truly. But, I feel the loss of my digitial camera, deeply. Whenever I try a case, I try to condense things into charts, photographs, visual aids. Usually, when I'm surfing through blogland, what catches my attention is a photograph. I guess I could wax poetic about what I'm knitting, pick the perfectly descriptive adjective to describe a yarn, a pattern, a texture - but I'm lazy. I want the picture. So, why haven't a bit the bullet, and bought a new camera - see #2.

2. The House - So, I decided to keep the boy, and clean the house. Mulling over the decision with my friends turned into an intervention - ideas came pouring forth, cleaning hints and tips, storage solutions, window treatment pointers, it was nothing short of an intervention. I never knew how much my messiness was "hurting" others, how pained they were that my lovely house was such a slop shop flop house. I won't bore you with the home improvement details, because that would be as exciting as watching paint dry, literally. I will share one little story - while moving a rather heavy object on the second floor, I wrenched my back. I fell to the floor, unable to move. About 10 minutes went by, the pain hadn't passed. I recalled the opening moments of Bridget Jones, where she's clutching a bottle of presumably bad wine, singing "all by myself," and having visions of dying, alone, and being eaten by dogs. This was it, I thought I'm going to be eaten by dogs. So, I sucked it up, and dragged myself to the medicine cabinet, and popped a Vicodin. Then, I hobbled downstairs, and went to the icebox to get an icepack. No icepack, just Lean Cuisine's and Weight Watcher's Smart Ones. Well, that will have to do. I took a Lean Cuisine, shoved it down the back of my pants, grabbed a beer, collapsed on the couch, and watched Sunday night television. I may not be clean, but I'm resourceful.

What does all this have to do with not having a digital camera? After runs to Target, Ikea, Linens and Things, and Home Depot, I'm el broko. I really would like to have a camera for Rhinebeck, so hopefully, by the end of the week, I throw myself into further bankruptcy, and buy a camera.

3. Knitting -

a. I finished one Anemoi Mitten, started the second and bought this book . Truth be told I rarely ever read the text of knitting books. I skip the intro, and head right to the patterns. Occasionally, though, the text is a really fascinating history of a technique, or a pattern, or a cultural movement, like Victorian Lace Today. I haven't finished any projects from Victorian Lace today (although I do have, er, three on needles), but I have read the text, and it's a good, juicy read. Same can be said of Selbuvotter. Did you know that knitting these mittens can be traced back to one woman - one woman knit herself a black and white stranded mitten, and it was like the birth of microwave popcorn, or well, something like that. And these mittens were central to mating and courtship rituals - no flowers, no candy, no lipstick, or nailpolish, or f??? me shoes - mittens. It was all about mittens. Dating is hard enough as it is, can you imagine an entire relationship rising or falling based on the workmanship of your mittens? And I thought being a bridesmaid here was a pain in the ass, what with the dress, the shower, the batchlorette party, etc., - can you imagine having to knit and exchange mittens with the entire wedding party? Unfortunately, after reading the text, my little obsession with these mittens is somewhat soured. I can just see myself surrounded by rejected mittens, lying on my back in pain, being eaten by dogs.

But, don't worry, I have every intention of finishing the second mitten, and then, next up, I want to knit these . After seeing them on Ravelry, I became, shockingly, obsessed. Found in a pattern in Piecework Magazine from December 1995, I tossed apart the backroom of Rosie's looking for the back issue. Then, I started bidding like a maniac on ebay. The first time a copy of the magazine surfaced, I was outbid in the last three seconds, argh! On my second bidding war, actually, I hit buy it now, I secured a copy, and have it safely stored in my house for a rainy day, or a Koigu day, because I intend to make them in a brown, a safety orange, and a multi Koigu. Someday.

b. Sweaters. The ribby pullover in Brooks Farm is done, just waiting to be photographed. I have the body, one sleeve, and 3/4's of the second sleeve done of Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I cast on Eunny Jang's Venezia Pullover, did the hem, and screwed up the first three rows of the fair isle pattern, so some ripping needs to happen. That project is on hold, while I knit the boy a sweater for his birthday . . . which is in 2 days.

What, you say? Aren't you worried about the boyfriend curse? Eh, whatever. His favorite team is the San Diego Chargers, so I custom ordered sock yarn in team colors. Unfortunately, the yarn was coming from Canada, and as of today, it's still not here. So, on Wednesday, I had a decision to make. I could switch up the Chargers idea, and knit a scarf, or whatever, in nice worsted weight yarn, like Cascade 220. But, what would I do with the sock yarn when it finally arrived - you can only do the team color thing once -- once is sweet, twice is uninspired. So, I knew I had 2 bags of Katmandu Aran in my stash, one bag already paid for when I had Courtney order it a year ago because I HAD TO HAVE IT THAT SECOND, and one on hold. I really really really liked the Cobblestone Pullover
from this month's Interweave, and I was looking for an excuse to make it - of course, I wasn't really looking for an excuse to make it in a week, but that's what I decided to do - knit a sweater for a 6'4" guy in a week. So, at Stitches, I was the crazy knitting lady - I bought a wristlet pouch for my yarn, and knit like a person possessed. I cast on at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, and by the time I got home last night, I had knit the body to the yoke, and 90% of a sleeve. One sleeve and the yoke to go. We'll see.

And the curse? Well, if I knit him a sweater, and he immediately vanishes, I'll still be happy that I knit him a sweater, and I'll say no more about that at this point. I think writing about it on the internet would be more of a curse than knitting a sweater.

4. Stitches - I took Thursday and Friday off from my real job, and worked Rosie's booth at Stitches East in Maryland. Can I just tell you I have never worked so hard in my life? The packing, the unpacking, the selling, the standing, the repacking, the loading, OY!!! But, I'm glad I went, and I bought fabulous yarn - laceweight from Blue Moon, Lisa Souza, Skaska, and Habu. Sweater yarn from Brooks Farm. New patterns. Beads. More later when I do have my camera.

I'll write more about Stitches when I have the camera (I think), but I really want to say a big thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth, introduced themselves, and told me how much you liked the blog, and/or how much you missed the podcast. I do miss doing the podcast, but there just isn't time. Too much life going on. And, I also want to mention how tickled I was that so many people asked for the pattern for my pi shawl: As part of our Rosie's display, we had a wall full of completed Koigu projects, my shawl being one of them. While I love the stitch patterns in my pi shawl, and the colors, as I've mentioned before, I find it really hard to wear without feeling like a have a bull's eye on my back. But, because so many people asked for the pattern, which is really just Elizabeth Zimmerman's pi shawl numbers, with Barbara Walker patterns plugged in, I'll put a free PDF up for download, and it will also be a freebie at Rosie's.

So, that's it for now. The more I think about it, I have Sunday's money from Stitches still in my pocket - I feel a purchase coming on at lunch today - Ritz Camera is only a hop skip and a jump away, so hopefully, I'll be back into visual aids very soon!