Friday, April 21, 2006

God wants me to dye yarn

Ok now, who was it that was sitting here at 6pm mountain time and hitting refresh on Scout's blog like a lab rat?

And who was it that was frantically downloading Firefox so I could make the sign up form work (like it wasn't going to be up for 48 hours)?

Oh, yeah. Who took an odd but intense satisfaction in being like the 7th person in the sign up (even though the automatic alphabetizer makes me show up near the bottom of the list)?

Also - who can't count down hours properly and thought sign up wouldn't start 'till Saturday (when I'll be out in the woods) so it's a damned good thing Scout put a countdown timer on her blog?

Uh, that would all be me.

Then just after confirmation was complete, an amazing lightening storm blew up and took out the DSL.

I don't know about you, but I think all this smacks of Divine Intervention. (Dramatic much?)

(Sign ups are open till Scout's countdown timer says. Go over and sign up!)

And now, because every post needs a picture, here's a little humor from the last time gas went sky high:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All work and no play makes me order stuff on the internet.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Between the pollen making my asthma flare up and work being its usual crazy self, not much knitting progress has occurred. In anticipation ofI have ordered some undyed Opal to play with. Hopefully I will be able to make the sign up even though I'll be out of town and nowhere near internet access this weekend. Oh well, if I don't make it, I'll still play with dyeing, and that's the point.

I have also been on a pattern buying binge that really has to stop. I think I have a pattern stash that will soon exceed the yarn stash, but when I don't get to actually knit, this is the sort of thing that happens. So it is my bosses' fault. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Meanwhile in "the Birch is going nowhere" news, little overall progress has been made, but I have finally figured out what went wrong the first time I tried it. First, I am a loose knitter, second, I knit looser in Continental than in English. The first attempt didn't make it past the 1st repeat, when I found my yarn overs were making holes big enough for the cats to crawl through. So I had to frog it completely and cast on again, and let me tell you I don't ever want to frog KSH again. Oh, no, next time I am buying an extra ball and just cutting that mess off. I am now knitting Birch perfectly, and the secret is to knit English and choke the living *#^! out of the needles with tight stitches. Probably it would have worked just fine going down a needle size or twelve (the holes were huge, I tell you, huge!)but I must do things the hard way sometimes.

And now, I give you my favorite plant in the whole world - my lotus.
Last year's happy baby plant. Now that it has been repotted and it's in the pond, it should be ginormous. Oh, and the Eglu gets ordered soon. I have been chicken free for too long.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Victory, hard won (is there really any other way?)

I have realized that good knitting requires listening to my body. As I move through the process of skill integration, I find that I have very visceral reactions to seeing projects I am going to have trouble with. Tonight was the first night my stomach didn't bunch up just thinking about lace. So I decided to give it a try again.

I finally got through the repeat on the Daisy Meadow Scarf that tried to send me to the crazy house. Being my first real foray into the mystical world of lace knitting, I realize now how much this project is teaching me.

One of many lessons learned is that lace is the great equalizer. The more I read blogs and musings of those who I consider to be really great lace knitters, the more I find that we are all having very similar experiences, even though we have very different skill levels. Everyone, it seems tinks, curses, and approaches tears or stultifying boredom in turns, just like me! So I am going to trust that I will also be like everyone else when blocking time comes, and will feel that all the effort was worth it. I am already pretty happy when I stretch it out.

Something else I learned is that the lace itself will let you know if you are a lace person or not. If you survive the insanities of the process and don't quit, or even still want to knit lace after it is done, you are a lace person. If not, and you still want lace, my advice (even at this early stage of becoming a knitter, I give advice..) is to befriend a lace knitter and trade for lace. Find someone who sucks at something you can do in your sleep, like aran or fair isle, and make a deal. Cause if the lace tells you you aren't cut out for it, trust it, you ain't.

I also learned that there are many levels of patience attainable to the dedicated student of knitting. Sort of like the different levels of meditation, or martial arts, and as you master one level or type of patience, part of what you learn is how badly you need to achieve the next level to be that much better. And so on, until you attain grand master status like Monkee or Eunny or Grumperina or Wendy. Then you get to help others on their path. And from all those wonderful knitters I just mentioned, I learned (among other things) that they still swear over their lace, which has been a most relieving thing for a little lace grasshopper like me. One day maybe I will approach the greatness of the knit fu lacemasters, but for now, I am still one white belt lace knitter who has to call out all the stitches as I go.

Count with me, yo, k, yo, fiddly thing, yo, k, yo, fiddly thing......

Monday, April 10, 2006

One thing still works...

Colorwork. For some reason, while I can't knit plain stockinette in a single color, I have made a bit of progress with the turkish stocking. Can't explain it, but there it is. I did realize that trying to knit the stocking toe up and learn colorwork at the same time was self defeating, and since I think I can produce the same sock knitting it from the top down, I'm going to go with my strengths and do it backwards. I am pretty happy with my slow progress...

Now, the book, which really supposes you know a hell of a lot more about sock knitting that I do, says the original sock has a "hybrid" heel. I have no earthly idea what that is, and I am not sure it is even something that can be done properly if you knit the sock any way but toe up, so I'm going out on a limb with an inserted heel, which I hope will preserve the sillhouette of the sock. Wow, I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about! Anyway, I have a ways to go before I get anywhere near the heel, so there's plenty of time to figure it out. I'm pretty proud to have figured out a couple of errors in the chart in the book (even though it's pretty obvious, still, I could have been unconscious about it) and I like the way it is looking. Mostly I like it because it is the only one of my current attempts at knitting that hasn't self destructed on me. And I've got gauge spot on with 1s. Wheee!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Musings after a week in hell

Well, that's over, and I don't want to repeat it again. I shall have to declare that from now on no one is allowed to take time off work but me, and that's all there is to that. Precious little time was left for knitting, although I was able to sneak in a few rows here and there for purposes of sanity.

Something interesting has happened, though. I am losing my ability to knit. I can only assume that it is a natural part of what I have found over the years to be my learning process.

I have done so many different things with my hands over the years that I am usually able to achieve a sort of instant mediocrity in any new thing I try. This is actually good because it gives me a real boost at whatever craft I am trying, which is nice. It is generally followed by a quick success, then by a strange period of time where I feel like I am "unlearning" whatever techniques I have been doing so well, and nothing feels natural; nothing looks good or works right. It is really kinda scary, it feels like I am, for lack of a better term, "losing it", and the whole experience tends to impact every aspect of my life for a short time.

I know this will be followed by a resolution and integration of skill and ability and I'll move forward again, but somehow I always forget I must go through this and it catches me by surprise. Well, with knitting, it happened right as I was cluing in to lace. Bad timing - really, it could not have been worse. Lace is frustrating enough without this. After deciding to go back to plain knitting and working some of the worst stockinette I have ever produced (and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth) I realized that I have hit my brain damage phase in the process of learning to knit. So there's nothing to show as most things have been ripped and reknit and reripped and will be caught in this cycle until yarn and needles don't feel alien in my hands anymore.

This challenging work week has given me a great excuse to not fight this too much and a break which helped me realize just what was happening. For a minute there I was actually mourning the newly acquired stash I would not be able to make anything out of due to my failure to become a knitter. But I know this won't last, and it has even started getting a little better already. Does anyone else go through this "unlearning" phase like I do?

OK, so here's a picture of a chicken (actually, a rooster) to distract you from the lack of knitting content. It is a Red Jungle Fowl, and may be the chicken from which all others sprang. Dawn chicken, if you will. Ain't he gorgeous? Probably mean as hell, too. Go chicken, you rock!

Saturday, April 01, 2006