Monday, December 31, 2007

An Uneasy Peace

Well, here we are at the last of 2007 and I have reached a truce with the edging pattern. It has stopped trying to kill me and I have decided not to hate it. I am afraid, however, that that is as good as I have managed to get it.

I have made it past halfway through the first side and I am really hopeful that the second side will be much nicer. I also think that if a designer is going to throw a curve ball, this is the way to do it. By the time I get to the second bit, the pattern every row thing will be old hat and the absence of complex purly moves will be like a gift. A friend of mine suggested that if it got bad enough just to dump it and do a different border, but I couldn't. I love the look so much, and truthfully, despite my lack of skill with this design, it looks really decent. And I have to remind myself, now and then, that one of the reasons I took up knitting was to challenge myself. This certainly fits the bill, so as soon as one half of my brain gets the other half of my brain to accept that, I'll be good to go.

The Horde are great! They are nocturnal, however, and are all about early morning and late evening interaction. One crawled into my hand yesterday. I didn't try to pick it up, just let it sit there. It is really unbelievable that life can come in such small packages. At night they are extremely active. We got them an extra wheel (because although its really funny to watch all 5 try to run in one wheel, it doesn't actually work well) and they are in both wheels all night, almost constantly. They are also busy running around the cage, burrowing, chewing, climbing, eating, tusselling etc. If you need a drink of water in the middle of the night, you can hear them rolling. Last night they laid siege to Samarkand. The cage was full of loot in the morning.

So, 2007. Every year I resolve to have a better year than the last. Every year by February at the latest, I give up on it. 2005 was the topper of the crap year list because of Katrina, and that was nothing I could have prevented, but I always feel that what kind of year I have rests largely in the hands of fate. Not so 2008.

I have decided that 2008 will be a good year, and I will be able to have much more control over that because I realize that all too often I will complain about something but continue to engage in the behaviors that perpetuate the reason for the complaint. No more, my friends. I am going to do something about it this year, not just bide my time 'till I get to wish for a better 2009. Which means that at the very least, my job situation is going to change. By the end of 2008 I might still be in my same job, but only if it falls into line with my goals for my life, none of which are "become a workaholic" or "spend at least 2 hours a day commuting" and the ever popular "forget what your husband looks like".

So if something in my life is not working for me, this year it gets changed to something that does. If we only go round once, I'm not wasting any more time.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


So far, Irtfa'a has not been an exercise in restraint. I would race to it in every spare moment, knitting away until my wrists ached with the strain. I raced through each row, each section, greedy for the next pattern. I found myself at stray moments imagining myself working on it. And I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of anticipation, looking toward the day I can admire it, off the needles, blocked.

When I realized I was finally ready to begin the final edge section, I was nearly floating on the ceiling. It was 7pm. I had 3 more hours before bedtime. Plenty of time, added to the few hours before and after work, then the weekend, and I would surely be done by New Year. I think I may have even mentioned it in my last post. Well, that just goes to show you what I know.

What I know now is that there is lace and then there is lace. When I first started knitting, the whole decreases and yarnovers thing was way beyond me. The first time I had to sl1k2psso, my head nearly exploded. It was awful. But as will happen, in time I became proficient. Then I started understanding lace to the point where I could read the knitting, and I could even drop back a row and fix a missed yarnover. By the time Irtfa'a came along and I started dropping 6 or 8 rows back over 12 stitches and reknitting sections to make them better, I was getting downright cocky. Double yarnovers? Why not quintuple? What the hell, I am one bad ass honky mofo knitter. I knew I still did not sprechen zie Shetland, but I was still an intermediate level force to be reckoned with.

So when I started row one of the edging, I was cool. Another fun pattern to learn. A few easy rows to memorize and I'll be sailing through the last bits at Knitch on Sunday. Row two, wait a minute, there's yarnovers here too, I missed a row. No, I didn't, did I? Holy crap, what is this?

Not since the earliest days of my knitting adventures have I been so tensed up and, well, edgy about knitting. I can't relax into this, not yet, and I really am trying not to fight it as hard as I seem to be fighting it. There's pressure, too. I've gotten this far and I don't want to ruin the shawl, but I have never done this before and I can't tell what's going on at all. Fortunately, I am able to knit this well enough not to ruin the overall piece, but wow, the going is slow. I just hope that when I finally do catch on to this (undoubtedly in the last 3 repeats) it will not look so different that I will have to rip it all out and reknit it.

Don't get me wrong, the pattern is still brilliant. And it is beautiful. It just turned a little too brilliant for me. They say that which does not kill you will make you strong. I don't know who "they" are, but I'd like to smack "them" around a bit right about now. I'm not even going to tell you how many hours have gone into this little bit of knitting. But I will persevere. I am nothing if not stubborn.

Dear edge pattern, I really do love you, and I want this to work out, really I do. It isn't just the way you look, all feathery and perfect, it's more than that. If you were just another pretty pattern I'm sure we could have fun for a while, but you know as well as I do that relationships have to be built on more solid footing than looks alone. You are complex and challenging as well, and those only add to your charms, but I'm afraid I'm not ready to give what you need from me right now. It's not that I'm scared of commitment, that's not it at all. I just need time before I can jump into something this serious. I need you not to push me right now. I know that one day I will be ready, and when that day comes we will be happier together than either of us can imagine. I just need a little space now and then, and you can be a little intense at times. Look, it really isn't you, it's me, I admit that freely. And I know I may have led you on with my initial enthusiasm. In retrospect, that really wasn't fair of me. So can we step it back just a little bit? No, I'm not knitting anything else now, and I'm not looking to find another pattern. Really. I just need a little space, a little time, ok?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dear Lyle, Meg and Famous Steve.....

I can't reply to you directly because of the blogger silliness about not giving me real email addresses to respond to. Thanks, however, for your complementary feedback. I really appreciate it. And I hope you all (and I mean everyone out there, not just Lyle, Meg and Famous Steve) are having as wonderful a holiday and I am.

Irtfa'a progress report: I am finished the body of the shawl and I am ready to begin the edging. I might actually have this done by New Years, and I am really excited about that. To address Steve's comment on how I knit lace, I do lock myself in a room and concentrate on nothing but the pattern until I know it well enough to take it outside the room. And if that never happens, I stay in the room.

I am fortunate enough, you see, to have a knitting room. Actually it is a necessity, because I have 9 cats in the house who all are very interested in whatever I am doing, and want more than anything else to "help". Now, from cats, "helping" means that they all help me understand that I am not paying enough attention to the cats. Who, they will also tell you, are underfed, unloved, attention starved angels who never claw furniture, poop outside the box or chew on yarn. Alrightee.

So I have this knitting room, which my husband does not begrudge me, as he has an entire basement for his toys (and I do mean toys), and I spend lots of time in there when I am knitting. I have music, a place to put my diet coke, I can bring the phone in there, and many hours are spent knitting away while my husband builds his models of WWI biplanes. But it gets kind of lonely in there after a while, separated from all the kitties and the husband, and lately I have really felt kind of sequestered and lonely. While I really want to spend every moment working on the shawl, I started to hate the prospect of spending all that time locked away, alone.

Say hello.

Slightly blurry picture complements of lightning fast hamster. These are Roborovski hamsters (or Robo hamsters), there are five of them and they are all males (because I really don't need more hamsters). They are a naturally dwarf breed from Mongolia, and oh my Bob are they cute. It's like having my own personal Cute Overload right there in the knitting room. They only get 5cm long at full maturity. 5CM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't hold them, I can almost pet them, they're not real bitey (although the scary giant finger from above did get nipped, but that was my fault for being scary and giant on day 1) And they live in a habitrail knockoff in my knitting room. I can't tell them apart, and they move so fast I never know who I'm looking at, or else I'm laughing so hard at them I can't see. I have named them collectively "the Horde".

I have the bestest husband in the world. I'll bet no one else got a Mongol Horde for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pay It Forward

The coolest thing has hit bloglandia, and it's called Pay It Forward. I found it through Ada's blog and it goes like this:

I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on this blog requesting to join the Pay It Forward exchange. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Sounds like fun, don't you think?

Now, for a photo free Irtfa'a update. I am currently on row eleventyjillion of the small feather pattern section, and it is going amazingly fast considering I am approaching 400 stitches per row. I really am still excited about working on this, but I have a problem. I only get to knit in a weekend warrior sort of way, and I have gone slightly past my limit. Yes, that is spelled ouch. I have learned that my particular knitting nemesis is the number 4 needle for some odd reason, and as a preemptive measure I have taken to wearing a Thermacare neck patch on each wrist, which helps a lot but does not imbue knitting superpowers. Especially when I start ignoring the obvious signals (like geting shocky feelings in the wrist) just because I want to finish one more repeat. I only have 4 more repeats to go before the next section and the day is young, dammit!

So I am off the shawl for the rest of the day, which is a little crazymaking, but I'll get over it. Later this evening we are going with HappyGoth and her husband to have dinner and see a medieval Christmas play, and I'm going to crawl around up in the bell tower at St. Lukes. It is really going to be hard to not start screaming "Sanctuary!" but I think I'll be able to control myself. My husband, on the other hand, I can't control, and I fully expect him to take advantage of the opportunity to have a Quasimodo moment.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Last Photos From a Dying Camera

I managed to coax a few more pictures out of the old camera. I hope Christmas gets here soon, I need the new camera I am not supposed to know about really bad. Anyway, here's the progress on Irtfa'a:

This is the picture I got with a flash. I am past the shoulder drop section and into the small feather section. I really could not be happier, well, that's not true. If my camera would take a decent picture of it I would be much happier, but I'm happy as a clam with everything else about this project. The yarn, BMFA Laci, is soft and squishy and really altogether wonderful. I am definitely going to knit with it again. The colorway, Corvid, is as purpley-green-y-black as I could wish for, and the variegation is exactly what I would want for this project. The pattern, thankfully, is very well written and it is just complicated enough to be engaging without being so demanding as to require me to have to completely cloister myself to keep up. It's the best kind of lace that makes you feel smart knitting it. All in all, I find myself just as enchanted here in the middle as I was in the beginning, and that, my friends, is saying something.

Fidelity in knitting is definitely not one of those qualities that any self examination would bring to mind. I am beyond fickle. I tend to fall out of infatuation with a project as soon as I hit a stride, and my brain starts searching for something to bring back the rush of giddiness that casting on or sometimes just buying new yarn or patterns can produce. This was a strange thing for me to encounter in myself when I first started knitting, as in most other areas of my life I am, well, predictable and set. When I was much younger I flitted from project to project, but in my adult life I have managed to achieve that certain level of inner, um, deadness? balance? that allowed me to engage in the same activities day after day, year after year without going absolutely postal. But knitting, or maybe it's the yarn, I don't know, lit a fire under my butt, and got me in touch with my inner 4 year old who is running around wearing an indian chief headdress and brandishing a new set of fingerpaints, an easybake oven, a spin art machine and maybe a cake decorator full of extremely blue icing.

Only I'm 46 now, so add a beer to that. Or maybe two.

And there you have it. So in the middle of the attention deficit festival of projects that is my knitting, I have found a project that incites total monogamy in me. Go figure. And now, because my camera is insisting that it's not dead yet, a close up for a fair representation of the color.

Hello lace.