Wednesday, March 29, 2006

i lose again

After arriving back home to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unpacking and repacking on Sunday - and finishing my Sockapaloooza socks!!! - I flew out to Colorado on Monday to attend the Keystone Symposia on HIV for work/school. More about that in another post, but this one is about knitting on the plane.

With the pair of socks done, I decided to get to work on another give-to-somebody project, the poncho that was supposed to be for Christmas. I had swatched last week and decided on a pattern adapted from the Sarah Blanche shawl from Folk Shawls. I decided to do two stupid things, which I discovered on the plane:

1. I chose to use straight needles instead of circulars. Why is this bad? Because when you have to loop the yarn around 3 times in one stitch, as the pattern calls for, that adds 2 stitches-worth of yarn onto your needle...and that doesn't fit on the straight needles I was using. I considered how to fix this problem during my trip...maybe I could steal the circular that is only a size smaller from the Wave Skirt I had also brought

2. Before I had spent too much time trying to figure out how to solve this problem, I found another one. I don't have enough yarn. I had sort of wondered this when I first bought the yarn, but my mental calculations told me I should be fine. Since when do I trust my brain in a yarn store??? Not a good idea. I've used up about a quarter of the yarn I'm supposed to have for the front of the poncho, and the poncho is of the size it should be. Ugh.

I decided to accept defeat, not make this poncho for the friend (another example of the benefit of not telling people you're making them something - they won't hate you when you don't end up making it!), and try to make the yarn into a shirt of some sort - it's a cotton, so it would be pretty nice in the summer, although the colors aren't exactly my favorite for me.

Fortunately for me, I was overzealous and had packed not just one (the Wave Skirt) but two alternative knitting projects, just in case I finished the poncho. So, wavey-wave is finally getting some attention as I sit in lectures about HIV, and I cast on for the second Hermione mitten while traveling from one part of the conference resort to the other.

Monday, March 27, 2006

we lost...

(I am retroactively publishing this post...)

On Thursday I drove to Buffalo, New York, for the 2006 USA Hockey Women's Senior B National Championships. My team, Central Pittsburgh, had battled strenuously against zero other teams in our area to win the regional title and had secured our spot in the national tournament by sheer paying of the entry fee. Throughout the season many of my teammates moaned about us being in the B Division for the tournament, saying we weren't good enough to be a B team. However, USA Hockey rules say that, unless we can prove otherwise, any team that has any player who ever played Division III or club hockey in college must be good enough to be B.

I think we proved them wrong.

We played our first game at 7:30 Friday morning, which is a really ugly time for a hockey game. We lost 9 to 0. Our second game later that day was lost 13 to 0. Finally on Saturday we scored, and the final score was us losing 12 to 1. You can see all the stats and that stuff on the website, although they aren't exactly correct, because I know that the stats on myself and the other goalie on my team are not correct - the minutes played are incorrect, to begin with, and that messes up all the other stats. At any rate...we obviously didn't do that great, although it didn't feel like were were doing that awful, really - it just felt like tough, good games. I guess I've developed a thick skin from playing on teams in the past that never won any games.

Anyhow...that's how we did. In the end a team from good old Michigan won - hooray for them!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

i won!

Mwahahaha!! I have defeated the evil hole-in-the-ankle! And no, of course I didn't ask for help. I never do that. I'm determined to do everything myself and never make any knitting friends...

After posting yesterday I googled my short row heel with holes problem, and I noted a few good pieces of advice. Then I went home, tinked back to the site of the hole (it was 3 rounds or so...not too bad, but annoying enough), and through a strange combination of all the techniques I read, I managed to prevent the hole. Hooray!

I am still really confused as to why the first time there were no holes, then this time there were. I've got to figure it out sometime...

I forgot to mention yesterday that I managed to make a chunk of my yarn stash disappear over the weekend. Not by knitting with it, though. Saturday night I saw an acquaintance at church hobbling around on crutches. She is recovering from some sort of surgery on her ankle, and she told me she's incredibly immobile even a week after the procedure. I asked her what she did during the days, since she didn't seem to be at work, and she said she's never watched so many movies in her life. I suggested she learn to knit, and she told me she already knew how but she had used up all of her yarn. AHA!! I promised to get her some straight away.

That evening I dug around in my yarn stash and was amazed at what I found. I got inspiration for three garments and still managed to give away the equivalent of 2.5 skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky (left over from last year's Fairly Easy Fair Isle cardigan), So Soft acrylic that I'd used to make the first sweater I ever designed (I obviously over-estimated the yardage sincer there were THREE extra balls!!), a ball of some funky textured yarn that had at one time been destined to be a bear-shaped dog toy until the intended recipient died, and the prize from the Holiday Gift Knitalong - Kid Silk Haze with a scarf pattern. I will probably get blasted by a few folks who think I'm crazy to give away that last yarn, but I had to be would be forever and ever before I actually made something out of it, and I didn't know what that was going to be yet. I had swatched with it, so at least I know what it feels like.

Last night, after having pondered the remainder of my stash for the past couple days, I made a list of what I will make with what I have. That's really my favorite part of knitting, I must say. Making lists of what I dream of... I could do it every day, I think. ...Perhaps that's why I never get any actual knitting accomplished. If wishes were horses.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

me vs. the sock

This post might also be appropriately titled "beginner's luck."

As noted previously, I finished the first of my pair of socks for the sockapaloooza. It's lovely (in my humble opinion).
I have to admit that if I were to do it all over again, I would not have gone with this yarn (at least not in this color) because the white nylon that's worked into the wool shows through. Some would say it gives a nice fleck of white here and there, but I say it's not supposed to be there and makes an otherwise dark-hued sock have strange white flecks. Anyhow, it's done, and I love how it turned out - I amaze myself.

So...I started the second sock, and it was going along well. There's, again, a tad gauge issue - this sock is a teeny, tiny bit wider than the first one, but not enough to be concerned. I sat down Friday and knit the heel, I was looking at it on Saturday, it just wasn't right. On the first sock, I got the short row heel to turn out fine. I have decided that I did the wraps a little bit wrong, causing for a small weirdness, but even that is okay. No holes. No strange blobs. Short row heels are easy, I had decided. ...But for some reason this second one didn't turn out so well. I don't know what I did wrong, but there were holes at the corners of both sides of the heel. Hm.

So, I ripped out the heel. While wasn't exactly the best of thoughts, because - since I had encountered absolutely no problem with the heel on the first sock, I hadn't put in a lifeline, and I didn't feel like running needles through the stitches to which I wanted to rip - I just ripped and picked up the stitches when I was done. Just a lesson learned - don't rip out your knitting when you're at the intermission of a play. You never know when the intermission will conclude, the lights will go out, and you'll be only halfway done putting stray stitches onto needles. You will then spend the remainder of the play attempting to concentrate but worrying about your poor orphaned stitches, just waiting to fall to pieces. Such was the case with me on Saturday. But, I survived, and all the stitches got back to where they were supposed to be.

I tried to make the heel feel bad by not working on it Saturday night. Instead I finished the Hermione mitten, which wasn't as awful as I thought it would be.

Sunday I reknit the heel. But I had somehow put the wrong stitches onto the wrong needles, so now in addition to there being holes, the pattern from before the heel was all messed up because of the misaligned stitches. So I ripped again. You'd think I would have considered putting in a lifeline, but I didn't. Plus, that would have required finding a needle, and I didn't want to do that. I knit the heel once more. Still not right. The way it stands now, it's semi-acceptable. The one side of the heel is fine, perfect. The other has a small hole.

I am again trying the silent-and-forgotten treatment with the sock. I threw it aside, picked up the Wave Skirt, and continued work on that. Anything but that nasty, stupid sock. I then started reading the fifth Harry Potter book. Bad, mean sock... I also started swatching the new poncho from the old poncho disaster. ...Grr, grr, sock - I'm ignoring you until you become more agreeable!!

I feel like I'm on the brink of some huge knitting revelation. I am trying and trying and trying to figure out WHY the holes appear. I haven't figured it out yet, which is why the holes continue to be there. The plan is (I think), to tink back a couple rounds to the place where the hole is. Then...after I figure out how to rewrap the yarn from the short rows...I WILL make there be no holes.

All the other knitters out there who got offended when I wrote before that short rows were easy...I'm sorry! I don't have the faintest idea how I managed to get my first one to work, but obviously it wasn't because I'm super skilled at it. I'm ready for any suggestions...!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

stash vs. sofa

It sounds like a cheesy horror movie. To many a knitter, it would imply that their stash of yarn is taking over all sitting space on their sofa. However, for me it means I have to decide between adding to my stash of yarn or getting a sofa.

I couldn't fall asleep last night. First, I couldn't stop thinking about possible designs for the redoing of the poncho for my friend. But then it got worse - I started thinking about money. I am currently owed around $2400 in reimbursements from my workplace, and, as you may imagine, that doesn't make the bank account balances of this grad student incredibly hefty. I have enough money squirreled away to survive for many a blissful month, especially since my car is now fully paid off (WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!), but there are also several things I'd like to have money for in a couple of months. Being that I've been incredibly not-responsible in my spending since Christmas-time (that season has a tendency to encourage me to spend more for some very strange reason...this year it stuck), I've landed myself in a situation where I feel more than a little guilty about not so much how much money I've spent but on what I've spent my money!

And the big culprit...YARN.

I thought it would never happen, but it surely did. I am addicted to yarn. Yesterday I was feeling stressed about two big writing projects I'm supposed to have completed today, and on the bus ride home I kept thinking, "I'd feel so much better if I'd stop in a yarn store..." That is not healthy. That is, first of all, a sick, twisted mindset the culture of America encourages, and following the culture is never a good thing in my humble opinion. And that is not true, either - going into the yarn store...feeling the yarn...buying the yarn... That won't in any way, shape, or form make me feel better about getting my writing done! Best case scenario: I waste more money on yarn (and can't afford to buy that new printer cartridge I'll need to actually print out the writing). Worst case scenario: I buy the yarn and feel the necessity to knit it into something starting RIGHT NOW, and I spend the rest of the night knitting and getting no writing done.

I decided not to go to the yarn store yesterday, which was really good, because Microsoft Word kept crashing as I was doing my writing, and that obviously put a damper on the speed of my progress. Finally I came to the end of the day, lying in my bed, not able to sleep, and I decided...I really would like a sofa for my new apartment (this one, in fact - if you've never been to IKEA or their website, you should), and I won't be able to afford that if I continue frivolously spending my money, especially on yarn. And I have way more than enough yarn to keep me knitting for a long time (plus tons more yarn that various non-knitting friends have told me they would like to donate to me). So...

It's time for me to decide between adding to the stash or saving for a sofa. Since it would be extremely nice to have a sofa upon which to sit while I use up my stash...I am selecting the latter option. Goodbye, yarn stores, at least for a while! (And judging from the slowness of my knitting and the size of the trunk and closet that hold my could be a long while...)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

no crocus

With spring only a few days away, you would expect that there would be flowers popping up, but I've been surprised. We've had some weird weather this year - really warm, then really cold the next day - and I think it might have messed up some of my plants. For example, the crocuses, which usually peek their cheery buds out of the snow, still aren't out. The green striped crocus leaves are coming out here and there, but this is as far as they've gotten in the way of budding:
poor, sad crocus
Guess I'll just have to keep on waiting. ...Or maybe the daffodils will bloom (there are billions popping up all over the billions, but lots) and the crocuses will miss their heyday?

Or...maybe the snow is just all gone way earlier this year than it usually is!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

a concert all about knitting!

Last night I amazingly didn't have any commitments to anything (e.g. meeting, practice, etc., which has occurred essentially every night for the past two weeks). So...I went to watch Harry and the Potters!!

The Potters are a punk/rock duo from Boston, and I heard about them over at Alison's blog. For those who don't know, Alison of "the blue blog" is a big Harry Potter fan and incorporates HP stuff in many a knitting project. She also hosts the Sockapaloooza and other knitalongs I've done. Thus, when I think of the Potters, I think of knitting and socks.


I was picking up some groceries the other day, and on my way out I saw a flyer for Harry and the Potters coming to play a concert in Pittsburgh! So I set out last night to visit Artists Upstairs, which in and of itself is a unique concept/place - it is self-described as "an educational arts organization devoted to the promotion and development of new works that explore the inter-relationship between movement, media, sound, visual arts and theatre." An example of this: sitting in the warehouse-like huge room (with one wall spray-painted to read "DO NOT DEMO") is a bicycle that has what looks like papier-mach'e dragon parts extending from the front and back. Visual art, right? Well...probably, but I definitely saw one of the people who I think works there (she was wearing wings and bug-looking goggle-glasses) riding it around the room, also.

Such was my impression of the venue, but I was really there to see the Potters. First I had to watch the opening band, called Uncle Monsterface. This band is really not my style, but there were a couple redeeming factors. First, any band that has a keytar is worth giving a bit of respect, and they certainly do. Second, they play some really awesome (although somewhat...disturbing) digital video in the background (you might be able to see it in the below really awful picture...I am so not able to take pictures!). And third - the best! - they have a sock-puppet show going on the entire time.
fans were invited on stage to "rock out" with blow-up guitars, sock puppets, and a cowbell.a sock puppet with lead singer marty. i asked for a picture with a sock because i knit socks. he looked at me weird. hey, i'm not the one wearing a whistle around my neck!
Hooray for socks! In light of the fact that I'd discovered the Potters at Alison's place, I brought along my sock to work on before the show and between sets.
and old lady and her knitting... oh, did i mention that most of the crowd was in high school? most of the rest were their parents.
Finally it was time for the Potters!! Many of the fans were decked out in some sort of Harry-Potter-esque garb - scarves (not many authentic ones...and none from PoA...this knitter knows way too much about HP scarves now!!), ties, grey sweaters, robes, even a guy who looked a lot like Snape and who carried around a wand. The Potters, who are brothers, came out dressed like Harry - they play the part really well, explaining that they're Harry Potter Year 4 and Harry Potter Year 7, and giving a little blurb about what was going on when they (as in Harry) "wrote" each song. They also did an excellent job of getting the crowd involved, and truly were a good live show to watch and experience! I was glad that there weren't any injuries (see their March 4 entries on their tour diary), and I had to laugh when I saw that they are now selling toothbrushes along with shirts and CD's on their merchandise table!

After the show, I convinced Harry Year 7 (aka Paul) to pose with me and my sock. (Again, crappy photo...I need to figure out the modes on my camera better...)
It was a fun, fun night. And the knitting-ness wasn't over, for once I left the show and was walking through downtown to get to my bus-stop, I took a wrong turn and ended up in front of a yarn store that I had heard existed but had never seen. Ooooh. Now I'm going to have to go downtown and get lost again so I can visit it!

Yay for Harry Potter and knitting!!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

gimme a break

Well, this is funny. I took pictures of my sock and the Hermione mitten and intended to post them last Friday, but I ran out of time/motivation, so I didn't. And then this morning I was running out the house and made a mental note, "I have my camera in my purse, right, to get pictures off of and post to my blog? Yes, I certainly do." I certainly didn't. I certainly hope that my camera is safe at home somewhere.

So...alas, no pictures, but I can tell you that I am happy with my knitting. Here's what's news:
  • Sock 1 of the pair is DONE!!! I even pulled out the lifelines, which must mean I'm happy with it.
  • Sock 2 hopped on the needles sometime over the weekend, and it's...going.
  • I'm almost done with the first Hermione mitten. I have run into a bit of a snag: my hand is too long. I suspected this going into it, but I didn't bother to care much. It's all good, though, because now I've gotten to the part in the pattern where I'm supposed to decrease to finish off the top of the mitt, I know exactly how short the thing is, and I can just knit some more in the established pattern. The pattern has a cable that snakes back and forth across the mitten, and the extra that I need to knit will get me to basically the "opposite" side of the cable I was supposed to end on. With a little bit of brain power and some luck, I think I can modify the decreases simply by just reading the pattern chart backwards. That probably makes absolutely no sense... See, this is why I need my camera: pictures really help.
  • I forgot to mention that I'm even making this, but I'm going to try my hand at felting by creating some decor for my new apartment. "New apartment??" say you? "Yes," say I. Not until July/August, but it's now time for me to move on from the wonderful home that is Our House. I've been thinking about it for a long time, and all the roommates know now - I was scared about hurting their feelings or something, but when I finally told them...they all said they were wanting to move too. Perfect! (It's not that we don't like each other, it's just...time. Things are changing in our lives. Heck, one of them is getting married this summer, so I hope she'd move out!) Anyhow...back to the knitting. I picked out some colors for my very own living and dining rooms of the near future, and I'm going to make some felted pot holders and coasters to coorinate, following the pattern from Knitting at Knoon, which happens to be from my hometown! I saw the pattern in the wonderous Pattern-a-Day calendar my sis gave me for Christmas. I finished my first potholder in denim blue and lime-ish green, and I'm waiting to finish some more before I felt.

And finally, my sweet, super-secret-sockpal just informed me that she(or he)'s tried six patterns and hasn't come up with a good one for me yet. Awwww! Sockpal, I'm going to find my tape measure when I get home and tell you all about how big my feet are. And the fact that one of them is a little shorter than the other doesn't really matter - just make 'em both the bigger size (that's what I've gotta do with shoes!). I'm so not that high maintenance! Whatever you knit for me will be WON-der-FUL!!! ...I'm just impressed that you haven't started yet, because if it were me...they wouldn't be done by May if I had to start now. I slow.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

almost famous

I have a long mental (and also somewhat written down) list of things I'd like to do at some time in my life. Once upon a time "knit a sweater" was on this list - and I did that a year and a half ago. A couple weeks ago, I checked off another item from my "to do" list: I was in a movie!

I've wanted to be an extra for several years. Not so I can break into Hollywood or anything extravagant like that. I just always wondered what it was like to make a movie. I know it's not all that people dream it will be like - it's not fun all the time (and, according to some, not fun most of the time). Yet, I wondered what exactly it was like. I've considered contacting Someone (I once knew who this was...don't now) in the Pittsburgh area who had Some Connections and helped find extras for motion pictures being shot in the are. I never did.

Then, a movie needing extras landed in my lap! My roommate Ren shot me an email saying a friend of hers was looking for extras for his independent movie. I kept being out of town every weekend when they needed people, but finally one Friday night in February, I was around and they needed people for their evening shoot.

I drove to the set location, which was an apartment building in an area of town called Shadyside, my car filled with various clothes that fit the description the costume manager had requested - business casual in neutral colors. Being the very non-good-dresser I am, that meant I had no idea what to wear, so I basically threw in half of my closet. What I should have done was to put all of those clothes on, because I spent the majority of the bitterly cold evening standing outside waiting for some instruction, and I was C.O.L.D!

The movie is entitled "Grace" (at least for now) and is a murder mystery with what sounds like a lot of twists. I got to see two scenes being worked on in front of the apartment building - one of which I was in! The things that struck me most about the shooting of the scenes were 1) the lighting - how detailed it had to be - how lights in the wrong places made bad glare in the wrong places or ugly shadows in the wrong places. And there were SO many people holding lights and probably other things, too, like microphones or something; 2) the repetition...each scene took about 20 shots. This wasn't so surprising, but the fact that each time the actors acted out the scene in each of these shots, it had to be similar, if not identical. My job was to walk down the stairs inside the apartment building and go out the door, down the steps, and to the sidewalk past the acting couple standing outside. I was praised for doing it the same way every time. ??? I guess I have skill; 3) the discomfort - it's a lot of standing around...waiting...listening to the directors and camera people and other individuals discuss the best way to do something, what they didn't like about this or that, what to do next - my legs got tired, I got tired, and it was really cold. I felt especially bad for the actors who had to look like they were mildly appeased even though they had on no hat and it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite all the non-glamour, it was fun, and I'd definitely do it again, although preferably inside as opposed to out. The thing I was happiest about was that I managed to get my knitting into the shot - I wore a hat and mittens I had knit, and I actually carried my red bag o' knitting with me as I sauntered out the door and down the steps. Yay, knitting!

I'll let you know if and when the movie ever comes out. Then...look out - I'll be FAMOUS! (not really).

Monday, March 06, 2006


Have you taken a look at the world lately? Not even the entire world, with its oppression, exploitation, poverty, civil war, and brokenness - but just your world, the world around you. There's been a push recently at my church to get out and do something for the uneducated children, homeless adults, and troubled youth in the "inner city" (it's not what I call the inner's what I call "home"! The suburbanites don't see it like that, though.) of Pittsburgh. It's a noble goal, and I am looking forward to what will be done, but in the midst of it all I have found myself feeling utterly paralyzed.

Paralyzed why? ...Because when I think about one example of need, more come rushing to my head...then I get asked by someone by the bus stop if I can give them some money, and then I get upset that so many panhandlers are making more money than I or anyone in my household are by asking for handouts, and then I wonder how to discern to whom to give my money, and I wonder if my giving has an impact, and I realize how bad the problem is.

Paralyzed how? ...I can't figure out where to start if I'm going to make a difference. Which problem to tackle first? Even if I had a clear vision of what needed to be done, how would I decide which was the most important? I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the combination of issues.

Yet...and I know this has been said eloquently by many a famous, witty, individual...doing something is a lot better than doing nothing. I can't do everything, but I can do something (I think that one actually is a quote from someone). I can't agree to be paralyzed by my confusion and woe. I need to step out and do something.