September 24, 2008

Another Relationship Bites It

yarnclipart2.gifHow not to do a swatch: Knit it, block it, measure it, do your calculations, bond with it, fall in love with it, imagine a future together, plan a trip to California or Massachusetts which are the only two states that recognize marriage between a woman and a piece of knitting.

Then realize that you knit the swatch using interchangeable needles with a size 6 on one end of the cord and a size 5 on the other, and the damn thing has been lying to you all along.

I loathe the thought of doing yet another swatch so now I’m left trying to figure out if I dare fudge the measurements and knit the sweater anyway. What would you do?


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Over time, and especially because I’m a faithful reader of Rachael’s blog, I’ve seen more and more mention of Kindles. Now, I may have misled some of you when I mentioned Kindling when I went on vacay with Elaine and Leslie. The Kindle ‘tweren’t mine, ‘twere Leslie’s. Granted, my geek self was fascinated by it, grabbed it out of her hand before she could say, “Hey, look at my new…,” and peppered her with endless questions about it. I was intrigued by the next page/previous page buttons, especially since I like to read and knit at the same time and frequently have to hold the more stubborn book pages down with, oh, other books, salt and pepper shakers, my sock-project bag, a cat, whatever’s handy. This means that, to turn a page, I have to:

Put my knitting down.

Remove the weight with one hand.

Turn the page with the other.

Read the first paragraph because the weight will obscure half of the words if I put it back right away.

Put the weight back on.

Pick up my knitting.

Read until I get to the top of the next page.

Put down my knitting.

Remove the weight.

Read the first paragraph.

Put the weight back on.

Pick up my knitting.

Read until I get to the bottom of the page.

Tink the mistake I made while going through all of this rigamarole.

Repeat.

Imagine a book that isn’t constantly trying to close! Imagine just pushing a button to turn a page! Imagine not having to use a cat to hold down the pages! Imagine being able to knit uninterrupted!

Despite my initial skepticism, I was also impressed by how easy the screen is to read. The black text on ultra-light gray is fabulous. That being said, Kindles still scream cold!, plastic!, sterile! to me, and have made me ultra-aware that books are so much more than just words. Kindles deliver words; books deliver experiences. I am, I must confess, a book stroker, a book fondler, a book sniffer. I love the look and feel of book covers. I love book-cover art. I love the breeze that fans your face if you riffle through the pages. I love the smell of the pages, especially the sweet, musty smell of older books, even ones that smell of stale cigarette smoke which remind me of my mother. I like the simple act of using a pretty little bookmark. As long-time readers know, I also get obscenely excited at the thought of going to one of our library book sales. Walking into a warehouse full of thousands of books, all being sold for $1 or .50—oh, the possibilities! Just think: On Half-Off Day, I could buy 718 books for the price of a Kindle. Be still my heart.

But most importantly, with a Kindle, you can’t experience the spontaneity of having a friend, or even a stranger, catch sight of the book title and say “Oh, I read that! What do you think?” And voilà—some quality human interaction is born. (Granted, a a stranger could just as easily say, “Oooooooooo, a Kindle! I have a Kindle! What have you downloaded?” "Downloaded?!" Doesn't have near the same cuddle factor.)

Speaking of high-tech and human interaction and all, despite my initial assertion that FaceBook was my technological Waterloo, in one swell foop, it has redeemed itself. Two weekends ago, at a social gathering of…ahem…alternative-lifestyle types—actually two gatherings (she happened to be at both)—I met a woman who wanted to learn more about knitting. So I gave her my card, she lost it, she sent out an experimental “Hallooooooooooo” to me through FaceBook, I “Hallooooooooo” –ed back, and we bonded (platonically) over a dropped stitch. Sweet!

Posted by Ryan at 12:14 PM | Comments (27)

September 19, 2008

Meanderings Continued

cutesheepc.bmpIn answer to Irina’s question, I will be at Oregon Flock & Fiber next weekend, an OFFF virgin. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday but won’t be attending any classes so I’ll be casting about for, in no particular order, things to buy and people to annoy. If you see me, please say “How do,” because you may know my face but I most likely won’t know yours (except my homies who I know will be there, and I will be all over all a’ y’all!). Unlike when I went to Black Sheep, when I was still thisclose to wanting to off myself and was so depressed I made a horrendously bad decision about lying down in the sun, I hope to be slightly more engaged in the world around me this time. If you see me starting to lie down in the sunshine, like a horse going down with the colic, feel free to slap me. Or tempt me with some oats. Or, better yet, scratch me on the withers. If I’m at all like a horse, I’ll do funny things with my upper lip.

Still working away on my gansey design. I’m slogging through the whole swatching, blocking, measuring, calculating dance now, almost like a real knitter. My yarn of choice for this project is Cascade 220 Heathers, in a dark pine green. So far, the results are luscious.

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Joon’s decimated dewclaw did get infected (the smell, oh, the smell!) so off to the doctor she went. The solution: Some antibiotics, which she takes like a champ, almost to the point of opening her mouth for the inevitable, and soaking her foot three times a day for ten minutes at a time in, from what I can tell, is a solution of water and antiseptic soap. Really, Doctor? A cat? In water? For ten minutes at a time? Three times a day? Really? Actually she did pretty well, especially since the vet recommended this trick: Make the water slightly warm to your touch. By the time the cat realizes her foot is soaking in the cat version of Kryptonite, some therapeutic soaking will already have occurred. Also, I discovered a magic point on what qualifies as a kitty elbow where, if you gripped it soundly and roundly, she couldn’t lift her paw up. We got up to a miraculous 3.5 minutes—at which point I got bored and quit. All looks good now, and I discovered a new, pretty, white, pointy claw hidden in her fur just yesterday.

Posted by Ryan at 01:07 PM | Comments (11)

September 17, 2008

Mental Meanderings

Ahem.

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And a picture for Erika, whose cat does this, too. He got under the jacket himself, and then carefully put his white hairs on the dark things and his dark hairs on the light things because he's smart that way.

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Now, all of you, raise your hands and swear on all that is holy to you that you never saw the black thing draped on the left of the laundry basket, which happens to be a pair of my underwear. Clean and Downy-fresh, but still, underwear. The things we will do for blogging.

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There’s done…

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And there’s done done:

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Granted, this sweater is now very hardware-heavy and the kid’ll never make it through airport security without being frisked by two burly men, but it’s the best I could find.

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You never know where or in what form small truths and inspirations will come from. Recently, local knitter, friend and blogger Supergirl Knits wrote about ruining one heart-rate monitor and getting a new one. In conclusion, she wrote, “I learned that if you ruin something, you can get something shiny and new that works faster and better than what you had before.” While I would argue that I didn’t do the ruining, this seems to apply very much to my current journey. Perhaps someday I, too, can have something shiny and new that works faster and better. And has something to do with my heart rate, but probably not the way Supergirl was thinking.

Posted by Ryan at 01:56 PM | Comments (13)

September 11, 2008

MeTube

My first YouTube effort ever, a five-second-long video of your Blog Mistress and a slightly startled but accomodating Benny.

See, what happened wuz, I was completely clueless about the camera function on my laptop, and one day I clicked on something and then clicked on something else and then an odd blue light appeared at the top of the screen and...good God, there was my face, staring back at me, sporting a, not unsurprisingly, deer-in-the-headlights, "What the hell is that weird blue light?" expression.

It then devolved into one of those slapstick scenes where a character makes artibrary movements to see if he's standing in front of a mirror, a magic doppelganger, or a heretofore unknown twin (and it always ends up being a magic doppelganger or a heretofore unknown twin). I waved, the picture on the screen waved; I adjusted my bangs, the picture on the screen adjusted its bangs; I made an ugly face, the picture on the screen...euw. You get the idea. Anyhoo, I discovered almost immediately I had no real practical use for the camera but before I turned it off I scooped up the closest feline and we did a little mugging. And then I inflicted the whole damn thing on you. Ta-da!

Joony, for her part, recently fell of the spiral staircase and ripped 3/4 of a claw off. I called the emergency vet who said I could wait until the next day to take her to my regular vet but, in the meantime, I could dust the claw with flour to stanch the bleeding. Poor Joon: From that moment on she couldn't do anything mischievous without my knowing exactly who did it. The dusting of slightly pink flour was a dead giveaway.

Bottom line: My regular vet said just keep an eye out for infection. So far so good. Nail may or may not grow back, but I figure that's just one more I may not have to clip.

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I’m trying to design a gansey, the kind that has simple, knit and purl diamond, chevron and checkerboard patterns, but things aren’t going well. Out of the three, yarn, gauge, or pattern, inevitably one doesn’t want to play along (which makes me think, of course, of the "one of these things is not like the others" song from Sesame Street). I did, however, stumble across this while doing the damnable math part of the design and thought it might be helpful to someone out there, a Wikipedia table of divisors for all numbers from 1 to 1000.

This comes in handy when you’re designing a gansey because if you want to use three or four different stacked stitch motifs, you can easily determine if they will all fit into the base stitch count. For example, if you design a sweater based on 216 stitches for the body, a stitch motif based on any of the divisors of 216, in this case, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, 27, 36, 54, 72, 108, or 216 (some of which, I realize, you wouldna’ use), will work with any other stitch motif based on one of the other divisors. This may be common mathematical sense but it’s nice to have it all laid out in one honkin’ chart.

Posted by Ryan at 02:55 PM | Comments (21)

September 09, 2008

Eff Oh!

A milestone: My first objet finis since I decided to go camping in the ninth circle of Hell. Minus the buttons, but still—hoo-ah! (Third picture is the best approximation of color.)

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The Dale Baby Ull keeps getting better and better. After washing and blocking, it feels even more cottony, more silky, more squooshy than before. As a matter of fact, because I’m bonding with the sweater before slapping on the buttons and giving it to the recipient (you know how we do; it's hard to give some things up), it’s sitting on my (naked-ish, thanks to short-ish shorts) thigh right now and keeps sliding off, it’s so smooth. Where has this inexpensive workhorse of a yarn been all my life? Certainly not hidden in other balls of Baby Ull that've crossed my path in the past.

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I can add to the list of things the cats think are toys: My bra strap, the wrist cord on my camera, the Velcro straps on my flip-flop sandals, the string on a tea bag, my necklaces, and my hair.

I can add to the list of lessons I’ve learned since adopting the cats: Don’t lie in bed and tell the cats it’s time for their breakfast when one of the cats is sitting on the far-side night table and the only launching point between her and the door is your face.

And I can add to the list of pictures so cute they make you want to barf a pictorial representation of yin and yin, with a little furry yang thrown into the middle:

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Emotionally, in my “recovery,” I feel myself heading into a weird, gray danger zone, where being with people and groups isn’t cutting it for me anymore, and being alone isn’t either, and, last time I checked the rules of social engagement, those are my only choices. What to do, what to do. I'm still trying to maintain an emotional balance, still trying to keep myself occupied, still trying to be courageous, still trying not to make stupid decisions just so I won’t be alone. I am, however, having a hoot of a time online with a woman from Ottawa (yes, that Ottawa, so she’s in another country , completely on the other side of that country. Think Yarn Harlot, only a little northeast.).

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxccccccccccccccccccccccccczzzzzzzd. Crap. Guess who just walked across the keyboard.

Anyway...the woman in Ottawa. We met online and, sure, there was some initial relationship sniffing-about, but we’ve gotten past that idiotic notion (because we’re not stupid; did I mention she lived in Ottawa?) and have just turned into the best of online chums, helping each other deal with our broken hearts,

Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjiiiiiilmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Crap.

helping each other navigate the truly bizarre world of online dating, and even helping each other figure out what to do with other women we've met.

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnniiijjjjjjjjj. Crap.

She’s funny, articulate, and writes well, and I’m just enjoying the heck out of getting to know her. As a friend. Huh. What a novel idea.

Posted by Ryan at 10:44 AM | Comments (13)

September 03, 2008

Just Some General Blithering

I've finished all the pieces of the Fisherman T-Shirt and am ready to seam, just in time to learn that our Executive Director has also just become grandpawpaw to twins, and may need a sweater or two flung in his direction, but other than that, no knitting news today, Dear Readers, just some light blahblahblah about my sister, the cats, and my inability to cook. You have been warned.

coloredcake3.bmpFirst, please help me wish Big Sister a Happy Birthday. This is important for two reasons: One, she has succumbed to something strep-ish and feels like crapola (anyone who has had strep knows there’s no sore throat like it), so I’m sure she could use the pick-me-up, even if it is from complete strangers. (But what kwality strangers you are!) And two, during the worst part of my, er, Blue Period, she was there for me every minute of every day, 24 hours a day, and did, and continues to do, so much for me I can’t even begin to describe it. Happy Birthday, Big Sister, and I hope you feel better soon! Will call you later and sing you the three family birthday songs. Again, you have been warned.

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My big event for this weekend was to go on a hike with OutVentures here. I planned, oh, how I planned for this event. A piddly six hours of hiking, but when you take a princess away from her hot and cold running water and send her into the vicious, feral wilderness of a local state park, she panics.

Layered the clothes, packed a lunch, packed snacks, brought water, brought SPF 50 suntan lotion, brought a First Aid kit, wore my sturdiest shoes, printed text directions, printed a map, left the house with enough time to make the one-hour drive to the park and get lost twice, got to the trailhead just fine. And discovered that I hadn’t planned for one thing:

Rain.

I live in Seattle and I didn’t plan for rain. Somehow I couldn’t face six hours of schlepping around in the wet stuff since even minor sprinkles soak through to the skin after hour two or three, so I watched all the other guys and gals, who had planned wisely, march off in their warm, dry GoreTex jackets, and turned tail and drove the one hour back to chez moi. (Hmmmm. Seems I haven’t quite grasped this conserving gas thing.) I went to support group instead and drooled over the new strawberry blond. Then went home and cleaned the cat litter. Good God; just shoot me now.

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You think I kid when I say I’m not a good cook? I invited knitting friends Gail and Diana over this weekend—because I wanted to hang wid 'em, of course, but also to practice my fledgling hostessing skills—and, in preparation, spent considerable time studying this page. I chickened out in the end and didn’t buy or make any coffee, but I coulda, I certainly coulda. In fact, I dare ya'; ask me, ask me anything.

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lamp2.bmpThe latest Benny escapade: He discovered the touch-sensitive, three-way lamp over my desk and spent a good ten minutes last night turning it low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off; low, medium, high, off. Tell me, God; what did I ever do to you?

I have also started to compose a list of the things that the cats think are yarn and must therefore try to bite in half or remove and drag across the room. So far we have: The mouse cord; the laptop power cord; the camera battery recharger; the cell phone recharger; the landline-phone cord; the answering machine phone cord; the answering machine power cord; the shredder power cord; the vacuum power cord; the ties on the chair pads; any and all pieces of fringe on my lap blanket; any and all pieces of fringe on my rug; the pull strings on any and all window blinds; the drawstrings on my jacket; the drawstrings on my sweatpants; the straps on my knapsack; gift-wrap ribbon; the string on a teabag; the measuring tape; and last but not least, dental floss, especially when you’re actively using it.

I feel as if Rabbitch and I are having the same experiences with our children, only different.

Posted by Ryan at 10:09 AM | Comments (18)