Sunday, July 30, 2006

I never would have thunk it.

Well, it has been a snakes on a plane kind of weekend here at the Mount Olympus of chickendom. Saturday started with my weekly date with the needle guy. My left shoulder was acting up big time (post migraine, 2 lost days of my life) and I decided to tell my TCM doc about it in case he had a suggestion to help ease the pain. Well, all I can say is that even if I hadn't been an acupuncture convert before, which I was, I would be now because the man whipped out some Chinese magic or something, and next thing you know I was fixed. Fixed! No pain, nothing. Freakin amazing. And you know what he did? One needle. In my right ankle. For my left shoulder. Magic, I tell you! I don't understand, I just believe.

So now I am ready to use my nifty new spindle at the demo for the Fayetteville Library that was scheduled that afternoon with my SCA group. Here is a lovely picture of me all rentarded:
Just your average 15th century peasant
That's me in the middle. Do you see the spindle? No, you don't. And do you know why? Because it rained, cats and dogs, and then the ground steamed gently for a good long while after that. Somehow it never occured to me that wool was hair and that the same weather that would cause a bad hair day would bring about a bad wool day, but there it is. I did try to spin, but the roving was sticky and kept frizzing out in my hands. I mean blow out kit frizz. Almost like static electricity would do, only more soggy and less shocky. So I packed up the spindle and the wool until a friendlier atmosphere could be found, and joined the rest of the ladies under the dayshade-become-sweat lodge while our men fetched us cool drinks and ice cream. Not so medieval, the ice cream, but very very welcome.

From there we headed off to Grantville, to have dinner with an old friend who opened a pizza restaurant there.
Nick with his sign - I love it!
This is Nick Sasso, who along with his wife Kim owns Nick's Pizza Stop which has the best pizza I have eaten since I moved to Atlanta 13 years ago. No joke. I would make the drive again for more of that, and the dessert we had of fried brownies, bananas foster and cheesecake would bring peace to the world if we can just work out the distribution plan...

So no spinning, and very little knitting, no exciting impromptu knitblogger meetups like last Sunday when I met Mouse, Jane and Sandy in person at Knitch, but deep fried desserts have their own charm, I can assure you.

There is plenty of knitting in the future, though, as I have a date with Amtrak next week, and all the fixings for a 22+ hour knitting extravaganza. Look for train knitting reports to come. And next time you're in Grantville Georgia, head over to Main Street for some great pizza, and tell Nick hi for me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fox in the henhouse.

Todays' plans were all cancelled by 11am and I found myself with a free day. Knitch, the new LYS on the block is about 3 blocks away from my TCM practitioner's office, so that was the first stop in my newly liberated schedule. It is a really wonderful place, and like last week I went right after acupuncture, which leaves me really woozy for a few hours after. That must be why I found myself leaving the shop an hour later armed for a brand new battle. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Don't ask me how this happened. I am not a spinner. At least this morning I wasn't. Now, though, I think I just might be. Plus, there is something delightfully perverse in being a chickengoddess and spinning on a spindle named the Fox. Actually there's a really good reason why this happened. Next weekend I am helping with a demo for a library down in Fayetteville. Their summer reading program has adopted a medieval theme this year and the SCA group I belong to agreed to do a demo for them. I had originally planned to knit in the round, which is perfectly medieval, but it is too freaking hot to have a bunch of wool in my lap. I also thought that knitting would be mighty boring for kids to watch, but spinning (even bad beginner spinning) would be more interesting, and I could let kids try it too. Anyway, I am having fun practicing and I can see where I might like to take a spinning class at some point.

So that brought me to lunchtime, after which I picked up the old Fair Isle Sampler Hat and went to town. Made a good bit of progress and man, I am loving the colorwork.

Wish I had a few more days like today, but alas, I must return to my regularly scheduled insanity. It was fun while it lasted, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Knitting vicariously through others.

Summer is half gone, and all my hopes of cool hours spent near the air conditioner vent knitting away peacefully are laid to rest once and for all. I got no time.

Neither, it seems do many others. All over the internet, knitblogs are full of posts of excuses for not knitting, apologies for non knitting content, pictures of anything but knitting. I will make no excuses or apologies, I won't make myself feel guilty for not knitting more, like it is some bad thing, or that I have failed somehow, when in actuality life is good, just busy.

Now, there's always time to buy yarn, against those days to come when good yarn might become scarce (or at least the good money you need to buy good yarn might). And living in Atlanta, this weekend was a banner weekend for yarn acquisition. On Saturday I made it to Knitch, the new store in the Virginia Highlands area. It has a really neat atmosphere and a good range of yarns that doesn't overlap any of the other local stores much at all, which is always nice. Unfortunately I went right after acupuncture (actually only 3 or 4 blocks away from the store) which meant I was really spacey at the time and that probably saved me from going hog wild with new cool yarns. I got away with a new set of Addi Turbos and that was it. I thought I might have recognized someone whose blog I read, but people never look enough like their pictures in person and I was too shy to speak up. Maybe we should all wear pins with our blog names on them when we go out in public so we can recognize each other.

Anyway, today was the glorious trifecta of yarn shop sale happiness in the back lot of Why Knot Knit, and there I admit I did drop the load of moolah. Stash properly enhanced against future yarn shortage, I must return to my regularly scheduled insanity.

So I have decided to knit vicariously through others till life calms down. Doing this, I will knit far better than I would if I actually had the time to commit to it myself anyway. For example, if I knit vicariously through, say, Grumperina, I can instantly achieve far more thorough understanding of the mechanics and techniques than I actually have time to bother with right now. Through Monkee, I will knit lace to perfection without all that nagging practice (read: frogging, tinking, swearing), through Claudia I will crank out socks by the dozen and maybe a sweater or two. Hey, if I include archives, the sky's the limit. Do you know how good this sounds to my weary brain right about now?

Yes, I have gone right round the bend, but I'm ok with that. And when I get some time to knit again and do it, I will thank myself for not flogging myself over not accomplishing much, and I'll undoubtedly enjoy the process a great deal more. Meanwhile, at the request of a few friends, here's a pic of me with my latest needles. Not the knitting kind. If you are squeamish, look away now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Am I missing the point?

OK, will someone please explain lace knitting to me. I have determined that I am pretty much a process knitter, but this is ridiculous. Way back in the mists of time (well, last February) I started a Daisy Meadow shawl. A "beginner" lace project. I'm a beginner, so, ok. After ripping and reknitting every single row at least twice, I made it this far before I had to walk away.

A few weeks later I decided to pick it up again and spent an entire day knitting, ripping and reknitting chart 4. At the end of the day I had made it this far.

Before I admitted defeat. I don't know what it is about chart 4 that is so bad, but I couldn't get past it for love nor money. So back into its ziploc it went and aged several more months before I could stand to look at it again.

The problem is that I love the idea of knitting lace. The designs and the yarns are unbelievably beautiful, and I dream of knitting a Tina shawl or a Forest Path stole. Really. I have the patterns and I pull them out and look fondly at them and look toward the day I'll know enough to cast them on.

At least I used to feel that way. Until yesterday.

So I decided I'd pick up the scarf after another multi month hiatus and give it a go. I knitted the roughly 900 stitches of chart 4 4 times before nearly breaking down into tears. Not girly tears, not tears of sorrow, failure or remorse, but those special tears of frustration that say I know deep down in my heart that there isn't enough weapons grade plutonium on this planet to make a bomb big enough for my personal needs right now and that is why I cry. Oh, people, what is this lace knitting about?

Last row chart 4 I am one stitch short. Always. I think I find an error. Always. I tink back to fix it being very careful not to foul up tinking the fiddly bits. I begin to reknit, find a dropped stitch. I think. It looks like a yarn over, but that's not possible, last row was all knit. This happens in different spots, I think, but it is always the same. Picking up the stitch will make the number of stitches come out right. I pick it up. I knit. The lace pattern is off. I am somehow still one stitch short. And I seem to have a short column of stitches now where I picked up the alleged dropped stitch. Always. I look close, see where the error obviously started. Shouldn't have picked up that thing I thought was a stitch. Go back and undo to before I "fixed" it, but it doesn't look the same. See the obvious error. Fix it. Lose another internal stitch in the column of stitches and at end of the row I am still a stitch short. Always happens just like this. If I continue, I will eventually end up with a really short and mangled section in the internal lace structure and will never recover the 1 stitch I am short. Rip back to lifeline. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So for many hours work yesterday, I was finally able to achieve this:

I don't get it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Welcome July and all the future will bring! As last summer did, this summer has taken me in unexpected directions. Lest all you folks in blogland think you're in for another whine-fest of why I'm not knitting, let me assure you that that won't be the case. We are learning to roll with it. We are open to new experiences. Most importantly, we are still knitting.

First, let's contemplate the lotus blossom in the early morning light. I have never seen anything like it. The flowers actually glowed with a light I couldn't catch with the camera. They smelled like cotton candy and anise. Then one day I was looking in the pond and saw some new minnows. I thought, cool! Then I went inside and started to think about it for a few minutes. I decided that 1, minnows do not spontaneously generate in closed pond systems and 2, birds generally did not eat minnows from one pond and poop the seeds into another, thus spreading minnows like weeds. About now the brain actually starts kicking in, showing me a quick succession of snapshots of my memory. I remember the fish being all cute and synchronized swimmy this spring. I run outside and look really hard at the little plain bronze fish. Then a shubunkin splotchy minnow darts past and I realize my fish had babies! I know it happens, folks, but it was so unexpected! It is just amazing. (Granted, not as amazing as spontaneous minnow generation, but still...)

Then we saw the completion of the Dye-O-Rama swap. Somewhere in England a womans' eyes were burned out as she opened my package and "experienced" her yarn. I included some scented candles (she likes vanilla) so she would get something nice in case she thought the yarn was a booby prize. She was very gracious to me on her blog, I really hope she liked it. I am actually going to dye some more just like it so I can see for myself how that skein knits up. But that will be another project for another day.

I received my yarn and got a real surprise - 2 skeins! One from Susan W. who was my Dye Pal and one from her daughter! Bonus! (or like we say in Louisiana, lagniappe!) I would be hard pressed to tell you which I like better.

Aren't they beautiful? I just can't get over it. I can't wait to see what they look like knitted up.

The chickens are laying eggs on a pretty regular schedule now, we are finding new ways to use up the eggs (still at a 2 to 1 ratio to storebought - tiny!). I have reinstated the ceremonial gifting of fresh eggs to my friends (it's a chickengoddess thing, you wouldn't understand;), and am looking for some of those japanese boiled egg molds for making shaped eggs for bentos. I have always been intrigued by bentos and now that I am having to eat way healthier, I am studying the bento as an option.

Oh, so I haven't mentioned that I'm eating healthier? Let me share my healthcare odyssey. Remember, not whining. Really. Ok, there was overwork stress, then there was a hideous sinus infection, then there were general feelings of death-y-ness (it is a word if I say it is) which went way beyond mere summer cold. Then there were visits to multiple doctors (first one not my usual doc and I shant be making that mistake again) and much lab testing ensued. And guess what? My cholesterol medicine gave me hepatitis. Freaking hep. All those years of avoiding injecting recreational drugs, and for what? So, there was much discontinuation of medication, and supplementation with liver cleansing herbs, and then my MD suggested I consider acupuncture as a complementary treatment for strengthening my liver and for general good health. He recommended a TCM (traditional chinese medicine) practitioner. Let me tell you, I love my Doctor. And now, I love my TCM doc too. And my treatment, at first bizarre, has really been effective, and I have had many benefits from both the acupuncture therapy and the herbal therapy. Now, the final bloodwork was drawn yesterday, so this week I should know the answer to the most important question very soon. Will I be cleared to drink beer? Meanwhile, though, without the benefits of cholesterol lowering medications, I have to really watch what I eat. Did you know that shrimp are high in cholesterol? I sure as hell didn't. Not happy. Hopefully, I will remember to bring my camera with me next time I go. Good Lord, what's the use of being turned into a human pincusion if I can't post pictures and blog about it? Health effects aside, there's blogfodder there!

So ends the first installment of my catch-up. Stay tuned for actual WIP pics and the rest of the story.