Monday, June 30, 2008

Small Favors: First in a Series

For seaming, use sock yarn of the same color as the knitted pieces. Sock weight mercerized cotton works well too.

Why I love this?
  • Finding a use for those little tidbits and balls of leftover yarn.
  • It isn't (usually) as bulky as the yarn I used for the garment.
  • It withstands being pulled through the knitted fabric numerous times with minimal haloing and fuzzing.
  • There's just enough contrast between the garment yarn and the sock yarn that you can see the sock yarn should you (heaven forbid) need to remove and resew a seam.

Sweet Charity and the Great Debacle

Someone I love very much (but can't remember who) once told me that the worse you feel the more necessary it is to be kind to others. If for no other reason than at least you will be a nice person with a tragic air as opposed to just a world weary wretch. After wallowing for the weekend, I've decided to take what action I can. I'm knitting for someone other than myself and starting a cute pile of baby socks. I'll most likely pass them to MamaSara to send off to afghans for Afghans.

On a more selfish note, I'm also making great progress on my pink MistiCotton sweater of my own design. So far the body is complete, and one sleeve has been started. It's shaping into something I think I can be proud of making. We'll see as time goes by. Despite my excitement, progress will have to slow down. All that cotton is hard on the hands.

Next on the agenda is executing the plan for Master Blackhead's sweaters (yes, sweaters plural). He's been in the doldrums too. Asking him what kind of sweater he would like me to make for him seemed to snap him out of it for a while. Recent Stash transplants (from MamaSara's to mine) a fiery red orange Classic Elite Princess and Camel colored KnitPicks Elegance are earmarked for him. Now just what is the plan? Well... I don't know yet exactly.

Here are the parameters I need to design around:
1. No lace, obviously. What he actually said was "no yarnovers". I'm so proud of him.
2. No cables, either. Apparently, they are "girly." Yeah, just ask an Irishman that and see what he says.
3. No fancy ribbing. What exactly is "fancy" ribbing?
4. No pullovers.
5. Zippered. No button placket, which is too Mr. Rogers. Personally, I think Fred was pretty awesome, but that's just me.
6. Pockets... with positive capture. That's nerd-speak for pocket with button or zipper so stuff doesn't fall out.
7. Don't go to too much trouble. huh? He stressed this several times as he was dictating the above terms.

All this leaves me with stockinette, garter, and non-fancy ribbing stitches. I didn't ask him about color work, which might leave me with a small measure of freedom to design. Fortunately for me, he's one of those insanely lucky people who looks great in everything (unlike me). I think I'm going to throw in a cable out of spite. Perhaps I will even title the pattern "Spite" just to make him smile (he thinks my spiteful nature is cute... I'll show him cute). muahaha

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Keeping Busy

Today is the big day, the day we sign up for a 30 yr ball and chain (a.k.a. 30 yr mortgage): today is closing day for the Blackheads first house. We are buying one of the millions of foreclosures around the country. Naturally, the entire process has been riddled with snafus, but is not yet fubar. This morning, five hours before closing we hit another pothole. Our agent, bless him, is once again busily making this right as rain. He is the best. He is a bear. Hope you never hear him roar. Closing is now a close two hours away. Am I nervous? You bet. Am I quietly freaking? Double that bet. Am I sitting here brooding? Not a chance. I am, if nothing else, an expert at the art of distraction. Here's what I've been doing:

1. Making to do lists.
2. Making lists of supplies needed.
3. Calling mom, something all children should do and do often. Love ya mom!
4. Photographing my Stash.
5. Inventoring my Stash.
6. Wishing I hadn't already packed my Stash because unpacking and repacking seems kinda stupid.
7. Obsessing about the organizational system we will use for MamaSara's Stash.
8. Fretting at the bloat of my Stash.
9. Wondering if there is some sort of contraceptive that keeps yarn from multiplying when you aren't watching.
10. Musing at the way MamaSara's Stash is slowly migrating to my house.
11. Contemplating the extent of other people's Stash.

Upon number 11, I looked up the topic on Ravelry. There was a link to some photos of the supposed largest Stash. Thinking, how bad can it be? I looked here. I was amused... very amused... for the better part of an hour. Master Blackhead MUST see this. He saw MamaSara's Stash this weekend, and didn't even blink an eye. I think he's used to fiber now. Well hopefully, this will turn his head. Shocking him is so nearly impossible that I can't resist trying.

Last Friday was visit number 3 to MamaSara's. We've sorted through the yarn. A shopping bag full managed to find its way home with me. Saturday, Master Blackhead and I went over to hang up a flag and pole outside on her deck. While there, I measured her yarn room and have decided that she needs 2 more shelves. I've been studying people's Stash pictures and am culling ideas to organize and display hers.

I think I've found my niche and higher calling: Stash Organizer. I love it! There can possibly no cooler job than that. Let's explore the benefits of this occupation.

1. Play and swim in yarn with zero guilt for spending all that money.
2. Spend time with friends chatting and laughing.
3. Eating yummy home-cooked meals, NOT made by me.
4. Compensation via yarn.

While I hope I've made it perfectly clear to MamaSara that I have accepted her case pro bono, she still piles on the yarn when I leave. Last Friday was no exception. A giant pile of yarn (left) and two hand towels (right) somehow came home with me. The quilted runner in the middle is from the week before. Isn't it beautiful. It currently lives on my bedroom dresser. All beautiful and all welcome additions to our home. Thank you MamaSara!

In case, I am accused of not actually knitting. I have indeed. I've finished one sock using the only Koigu in my Stash. The completed pair will be for Master Blackhead. I've also a started a sweater using Misti's Pima Cotton in a pretty pink color. It's a design all of my own. I hope it will look decent.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Showdown at Blackhead Manor

Last week, MamaSara invited me to her home for a Stash sorting party. This was an exceptional occasion. I have been sworn to secrecy, but am compelled to say that her Stash is beautiful. Upon coming home, I opened up the cabinet doors that hide my Stash and its 8 cubic feet of living space. My Stash: the once beautiful, well-sorted, carefully-edited, luxurious, no nonsense collection of fiberly consolation and comfort has somehow undergone a Calvinistic Transmogrification into a paltry, anemic, and somewhat anorexic accumulation of string.

Master Blackhead, knowing full well what I had done all afternoon, came home from work took one look at me as I white-knuckedly clenched my credit card in my hand and said, "Stash Envy. Go buy yarn."

Just like that.

Like some underpaid, overworked, battle-weary general who had seen numerous tours of duty through enemy laden territory, Master Blackhead had walked into the war tent, sounded the retreat, and left to battle another day. He asked no questions, ignored his soldier's morale, and capitulated to enemy defenses. As for me with bazooka in hand, I glowered at my general.

Retreat would not save me to do battle another day. My resolve to not excessively and thoughtlessly accumulate Stash had not been weakened by the glorious sight of MamaSara's Stash. The real problem was and still is my Stash needs more room! Crammed into its little 2' x 2' x 2' cubby, it couldn't strut its stuff. Shelving and a whole wall of mounted cubbies was the need, not more yarn! More yarn would choke the spark out of my Stash. Looking beautiful and inviting to the touch is what differentiates a Stash from a pile of yarn. Space! Space! Space! A display shelf... oooh!

The general's thoughtless disregard meant only one thing. MUTINY! Hurling 'harumpf!' and a stuck out tongue at Master Blackhead's retreating back, I weighed my options. A shoe would have been better, but we're Asian and we don't wear shoes at home. Perhaps economic warfare would be better. I did have a credit card in my hand, my trusty bazooka fully loaded backed by trigger happy me.

Yesterday was dreary. So dreary that even the Little Blackheads had no desire to look outside the window. As a long time Staff Member for the Little Blackheads, you'd think it would stop surprising me just how human they really are. Just like me, they seem to want nothing more on a day like that than to snuggle in soft handknit blankets and drink warm milk (I get a splash of coffee in mine as a special treat).

I've been productive. My Blue Mimosa is almost finished. The Cashsoft DK I bought inadvertently came from two different dye lots. Disaster! Right? Well all was saved by striping the sweater to produce a subtle variegation. Me like. I have the lace collar to knit up and sew to the body. I'm really excited, but DK weight takes forever. I can't wait to get started on a chunky project.

My carry along projects have been rolling along as well. Socks galore. I think I've found a new favorite summer sock yarn: Panda Cotton. It's bamboo, cotton, and elastic. It is so soft. Here's a pair and a half. The multicolored flecked socks are for me. The light blue variegated one and its mate (currently on the needles) are for a friend. The same friend will also be receiving the tealy green striped socks. The striped socks are made out of Sockatta. It isn't as soft as Panda Cotton, but MamaSara says Sockatta "wears like iron." It should last a long time hopefully.

As for MamaSara, she continues to spoil. Just when I thought she couldn't pamper me more, she shows me this beauty. I love it! The colors are just gorgeous and really complement my decor. The flowers are hand appliqued. Can you see how beautiful her craftsmanship is? She showed me a few other quilts she's made. First, this lady has color sense. Second, she's got talent. Third, I'm jealous. Again.

Thank you MamaSara, I will cherish this quilt block. Everytime I see it, I will think of you.