June 28, 2016
The “Cap’n Crunch Dishcloth”
Even though she bore three children, our mother was not much of a one for offspring. Oil and water, really. So she was certainly not much of a one for childish arguments. Add to that the fact that she was not a proponent of sugar or desserts and the occasional box of Cap’n Crunch became A Big Deal. One particular box came with a prize—a Cap’n Crunch iron-on decal. One decal. Three kids. The fight was on. Rather than involve herself in our spat, while the argument raged and while no one was paying attention, Mom quietly took the decal and ironed it on her own shirt. Problem solved. (While Mom was quite proud of herself (she wore the shirt for many years), we children remained semi-comatose for days in the face of this unquestionably genius parental betrayal. Indeed, my sister and I, who are now both “women of a certain age,” still remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday.)
As we all adjust to my being out of the house more, Joon has developed a new game—taking small balls of leftover cotton yarn and unrolling them all over the house, specifically around and over and under chairs and chair rungs. And I kept picking them up, day after day, rerolling them and, admittedly, doing a not particularly good job of putting them away. Until the day I decided I was done, so done, with the new game, took all the balls—unrelated in weight or color—doubled them and knit them into a dishcloth. I have no need for a dishcloth—any more than Mom had a need for a decal on her shirt—but…child-rearing problem quickly and sneakily solved, in a way that cannot be undone*. I am my mother’s daughter.
Trigger warning: Picture of remarkably ugly dishcloth ahead (because it’s an arbitrary combination of mercerized and non-mercerized cottons, white Sugar 'n Cream, blue variegated Sugar 'n Cream, and something shiny and purple but still cotton… Plus, as I just realized, literally as I took the photograph, half-way through, I forgot I was doing seed stitch.*)
*At least, not in the absence of opposable thumbs.
*The doubling of the yarn was simply so that I could nyah-nyah-nyah in Joon's face as quickly as possible but I may also inadvertently have become a convert. Doubling the yarn increases its scrubby quotient considerably.
June 26, 2016
(To clarify, because a friend was concerned, I am fine. This was just some gentle musings on living with day-to-day depression that I wanted to write and express, in case there were other people who could relate, and the thoughts just sort of...ended up on the blog.)
Although I live with it every day, give or take an hour here or there—or a whole day, if the stars are aligned—this morning I had strong visual of what living with depression is like, what trying to do something, anything, is like when you feel this way. (I really struggle with this new Way of Being because I didn’t grow up depressed. Sure, I had a couple of episodes, but this fucker—I'm sorry, but there's just no other word for it—came on strong eight years ago and has never left.) So, the visual: It’s like being asked to make something without being given any of the necessary materials.
Life: Hey, I need you to make a dress.
You: Sure, no problem, Life! I’ll make a dress. That sounds like fun! Where’s the cloth?
Life: Oh, no, sorry, you can’t have any cloth.
You: Oh, okay. I’ll try to find another way to get some cloth. No problem. What about some thread?
Life: Nope, no thread. Fresh out.
You: Um, okay… I might have a few pieces of thread around here; I’ll look. A sewing machine?
Life: Nope. And the thread you thought you had? I found it and threw it away.
You: All righty-y, then. Scissors?
You: A needle?
You: Ooooookay. So now what?
Life: I dunno. But you still need to make a dress.
Life: Hey, you need to get up and out and do something.
You: Sure, no problem, Life! I’ll do something. That sounds like fun. Where’s the energy?
Life: Oh, no, sorry, you can’t have any energy.
You: Oh, okay. I’ll try to find another way to get some energy. No problem. What about some motivation?
Life: Nope, no motivation. Fresh out.
You: Um, okay… I might have some motivation around here; I’ll look. Effective medication?
Life: Nope. And the motivation you thought you had? I found it and threw it away.
You: All right-y, then. How about a good hit of caffeine, then?
You: A good night’s sleep?
You: Just a general uplifting of spirits for no reason?
You: Ooooookay. So now what?
Life: I dunno. But you still need to get up and out and do something.
June 20, 2016
While I’m waiting for this shrug* to finish drying (ignore the butt-ugly towel; it had a mishap with bleach many years ago so now it's my blocking towel. Or a cat towel, depending on who gets to it first.)…
…how 'bout I squeeze in a blog posting?
Kmkat and Janna wanted to know what the secret was to making CoBaSi your bitch. The secret is five-fold:
1. Before you put the skein on the swift, stretch the yarn between your hands and snap and straighten the strands as much as possible (if nothing else, this puts the yarn on notice that you're going to whoop its skinny ass).
2. Once you put the skein on the swift, as much as possible tidy up any dangling loops (with CoBaSi, there will always be some and they have it in for you).
3. Check the two free ends to make sure the back end is for sure in the back and the front is for sure in the front, meaning it only travels around in the front and doesn’t all of a sudden hop onto the back.
4. Go slowly.
5. If all else fails, take a flamethrower to it.
On the store end, last week Sharon and Gregor, representatives from Rowan of England and Germany respectively, came into Acorn Street. We spent a good 45 minutes talking with them about their visit to the U.S., the store, what we carry--the usual LYS chit-chat. Sharon and I huddled in the sock-yarn corner for about 10 minutes and yakked away...which is when she casually mentioned that she knit the iconic sweaters and house scarves for the Harry Potter franchise. To the day I die, I will pride myself on the almost “Harry who?” look I was able to keep on my face. I Google-stalked her after the fact and, sure enough.
That was the good news, the fun news. The bad news? She bought some yarn and a pattern from us...and when I went to work the next morning, the second page of the pattern was still sitting on the printer. Page 1, winging its way to England; page 2, not so much. Fortunately, it was a Ravelry pattern so she will receive a .pdf file but still--of all the customers, right?
* If you're thinking, dude, that doesn't look like a shrug, you’re right. The idea is that you’re supposed to seam the ends into short sleeves and then it becomes a shrug. I will report.
May 29, 2016
Pushing the Envelope
Although I’m politically and ideologically liberal, in other ways I’m conservative: I’ve never touched drugs (not even the wacky tobaccy); the last time I had a drink was, oh, 20 years ago (and probably had one sip and slept for the next 24 hours); I’m not a partier (granted, partly from lack of opportunity); I dress modestly; I’m careful with my money... This conventional approach also bleeds over into my knitting. I knit the standard stuff: Ribbed scarves, rolled-brim hats, baby sweaters, your basic top-down socks, simple stranded things—nothing bold or new in yarn or method. And, no surprise, I generally use middle-of-the-road colors (except, you know, for that one time). For over-the top excitement, I make things that are striped. Or I use self-striping yarn. On a really crazy day, I do slipped-stitch color-work. Wheeeeee!! The roller-coaster ride of thrills!
Which’all I had to put aside when I was asked to knit a shop sample for an in-shop fashion show, specifically, FoolProof in silvery grey and a dark plum. Grey? Dark plum? Together?! Moi?! Plus, the pattern itself combines four different angled stripe designs. It’s geometric, modern, vogue, very now. Very not me. And here are the results. I must say I’m chuffed.
I also say, whatever you have on your needles now, put it aside and knit this. It is a blast and the results are wonderful. Plus, it’s garter stitch. And there are no seams, just some live-stitch finagling. (It’s like knitting a Baby Surprise sweater or turning the heel of a sock—you never believe it’s going to work until it does). And, oh, the color possibilities!
May 27, 2016
Last time, I promised a secret confession, the revealing of a secret shame…at least as among experienced knitters. I wind my yarn by hand. So what?, you ask. What that means is that when I walked into Acorn Street for the first time as an employee, despite my 15 years of knitting experience, I had absolutely no idea how to use a swift. None. (I did use a friend’s swift once but I didn’t inhale. She arranged the yarn on the swift and got the whole contraption started for me so I remained oblivious to the set-up process. Then, because her winder was old and wibbly-wobbly, half-way through the winding, the cake flew off the winder and launched itself across the room, scaring me, my friends, and their dogs, so I gave up. Not the most enlightening of experiences. Funny, very funny, but not enlightening.)
Thank God for YouTube. The night before my first day, I spent a good 45 minutes frantically looking up every video I could find about how to use a swift and even mimed the steps along with one of the videos. And thank goodness I did because, given that there wasn’t much I could be relied on to do on Day One, sure enough, I was promptly handed a skein of yarn to wind. As a precaution, I blocked everyone’s view of what I was doing—shuffling to the left if they moved to the left; shuffling to the right if they moved to the right—as I whispered my way through what I had gleaned no more than 12 hours before: Open the skein. Snap it a little so all the strands align. Put the skein around the swift. Lift the base of the swift up so the “umbrella” moves up and out and lock it in place. Cut all the ties without cutting the actual yarn. Find the yarn end that is located on the outside. Make sure the other end is tucked on the inside. Spiral the end of the yarn through the little metal spring. Put the end of the yarn through the notch at the top of the yarn winder. Grab the handle and twirltwirltwirl. Take off the cake. Attach the label. Close the swift. (Remember, now, that my only experience was of a yarn cake that flew across the room so at any minute I expected the yarn cake to bean one of the customers. That might have fed into the anxiety a little.)
I laugh at this now because, oh, my God, the number of skeins I have wound since! Which means, however, I can’t blame inexperience for what happened with the CoBaSi. CoBaSi has some elastic in it which gives the yarn a certain intransigence. By the half-way point, the yarn was everywhere except on the winder. It looked more like Silly String than yarn. Eventually I gave up and just stood there flapping my hands at the swift (Big Sister will recognize this gesture from our youth). A co-worker came to the rescue and literally had to take the entire swift apart, pull the yarn out from inside, outside, top and bottom, gather some up from the floor, and get everything back in order.
I have learned my lesson since. CoBaSi is now my bitch. Because the alternative, yelling at the customers, “Don’t buy that yarn!,” and tackling them to the ground, is frowned upon.