Thursday, February 01, 2007

Where am I?

I'm sorry everybody, I'm not swamped or beleaguered, I'm absolutely buried in work. I can't even think straight, let along knit and blog.
Next week will be a little better, hopefully. But then I said that last week.

Anyway, I shall return!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not so good

It was to be expected. After all the hysteria and hijinks of Christmas and my sunny "cruise mood" of the past two weeks, I should have known it wouldn't stay that way. I'm back in full grief mode with not sleeping, nightmares, helpless weeping at inopportune moments - all the bells and whistles. It's okay. No, seriously, I'm not gunning for pity or anything. It's just the way this works. Fretting about the process does not simplify or shorten it.
Have I gone back to smoking in those long nights of not sleeping and nightmares? Nope :o).

In other news: there is some exciting new job stuff going on - a new book, maybe, go cross something, please - and some writing with an actual deadline.

There has been spinning, sock knitting and fair isling.
I know, the minute I mention that it might be nice to tackle a few UFOs this month, I'm following my startitis wherever it may go. However, please observe the mittens on the left. I started them back in November from one of my first home-plied, home-dyed yarns. No pattern, no nothing, just 2x1 rib, stockinette and a picot edging.

I can explain the lone sock.

It looks as if not much happened since last time, but I frogged what I had done on the Endpaper Mitts and started over on 3 mm dpns. Hence the lone finished Trekking XXL sock - I've got one set of 3 mm bamboo dpns, and according to my laws of KFYS, buying tools is only okay if I NEED them. Wanting to start two projects just because I can't wait to try the Trekking yarn/fair isle knitting does not count as a legitimate need.

This blurry thing
is the first Pink Ribbons sock. I'm making them to ease myself back into cabling, and because I like them a lot. The Tofutsies sock yarn is lovely to work with. It's soft, but crisp and will be great for spring socks. But then I like cotton a lot, so if you don't, this is probably not the sock yarn for you.

I admit it, I'm proud of my yarns.

The grey is my first alpaka two-ply. The singles could be a little less twisted, because I ended up getting a few hard, overspun bits, but overall it's slinky and soft and shiny. I love working with alpaka, even though it took me a while to get used to the slippery feel of the fiber. Maybe it's because the fiber is so soft and fluffy. I spun it thicker than I would have liked, because I was afraid the fibers would separate with even the tiniest bit of take. They probably wouldn't have, but I couldn't get used to the feeling.

The green is the neverending Wollfabrik merino. I've spun these two skeins of two-ply, and there's still enough left for another attempt at sock yarn.

On the left is Strawberry. The first yarn with an actual design process, which is to say I thought about what I would need to do to make it look like this. It's natural moorit Shetland laceweight single plied with mill-spun silk/rayon two-ply cobweb weight in a light beige. I overdyed the plied yarn with Jacquard acid dye in scarlet, which resulted in a deep red yarn with tiny candy cane spots of bright red (the silk) and a pink-y beige (the rayon). I like it. This skein is already destined to leave the house, but I've got more of the yarns, so I'm going to try to repeat the exercise and knit a swatch with it.

It's heigh-ho time. With a few knitting breaks. I'm only human.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

All kinds of good

Okay, who wrote that confused post the other day?
In my defense, I had a fever. It was one of those 24-hour things that make sudden death look maybe not so unwelcome. But I'm back now.
And life is all kinds of good. Allow me to count my blessings for the record.
My long vacation is over, but I've got nothing but nice projects I like doing for nice people I like dealing with. Believe me, this is rare, and I intend to enjoy it for all it's worth.

Tomorrow will mark my first full week as a non-smoker, and I couldn't be happier about it. Okay, so I didn't exactly have a chain-smoking habit (anymore), but hey, it's still sort of an achievement. It's also embarrassing how little time I spend actually craving a cigarette - if I had only known (read: if I'd had the guts to try) I could have quit a long time ago. Whatever, I'm doing it now, that's got to be good enough.

I signed up for Project Spectrum 2.0. Love it! I so wanted to do the first one when I first saw it, but I was busy just looking around blogdom then - and PS1 was already well underway. It's going to be a great incentive to get creative and to take more pictures. I admit that I'm a bit of a photo slacker. Not my medium, really, but I can try to change that within the limits of Project Spectrum, which is easier for me than just resolving to "photograph more stuff".
Look what I made.

Outside in: Shetland moorit singles - about 25 g, for a fingering weight 2-ply, I think. Green silk (not hand-dyed, from Die Wollfabrik), about 50 g, also destined to become fingering weight. I don't know, spinning silk is really hard for me, maybe I'm not doing it right. So I'm very proud of getting the singles so fine. In the center is some Schachenmayr Merino dyed as a sort of solid in purple.I dyed the merino for this:

My first experiment in fair isle: Eunny's Endpaper Mitts. Yes, I know I said that I didn't want to start anything new in January. Fever, remember? It's terribly uneven, and I'm having a devil of a time knitting with the colours in both hands, but it's great fun.

I'm not totally going back on my word though. There has been UFO knitting. And finished grey socks - only they are in action right now and I forgot to take a picture before. It will have to wait. See what I mean with being bad about taking pictures?

I've made lots of plans lately. For knitting projects, a bit of self-improvement and other things. I wasn't sure whether I'd write about it here, because I'm embarrassed about the amount of good fortune coming my way. It's always like that. However, maybe that's the wrong attitude. How about some grateful joy for a change?

So, Andy gave another Christmas present to both of us. He said that 2006 was overshadowed by this huge terrible event we knew would come. And by the one we didn't know about. It was a year of fear, sadness and death. Andy wants 2007 to be just as influenced by something utterly fabulous, so that we will be able to look forward to the passing of the year, instead of being scared by it. I'm not kidding, he really is that wonderful. I do know that I'm extremely lucky to have him in my life, not to mention rather undeserving. Me? Far from wonderful.

On August 23, Andy and I will make our way down to the port of Hamburg and board the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic passage to New York.


Yeah, this has only been my dream since I was a kid and my grandma force-fed me 1930s movies (not that I complained, mind). Eight days at sea on the Queen Mary and then the Statue of Liberty - seaside. And NYC, for the first time in my life. Name yarn stores, people! Oh, in Southampton UK, too, if you know any. We'll be there for a day, and while it's certainly possible to go to London that day, I know that I'll be too scared to miss the boat and probably won't budge.

You know, I've known this for almost two weeks now, but it doesn't get any more believable. Every time I think about it I could just sing and jump - and cry, because I can't discuss it to pieces with my mom, but hey, no plan is totally perfect :o).

The first words out of my mouth? "I don't even have an evening gown." (Well, I wasn't as horrible as all that, there was a lot of gasping and shrieking and crying and hugging before I could speak again.) There is no way I could come up with anything approaching a "suitable wardrobe" in terms of luxury (giggle, they do have "attire suggestions" in the daily board newsletter), so I think I need to beat that with originality. I mean, think Annie Modesitt's Corset Tank. That would be perfectly fine for a formal dinner if paired with a long skirt or something. Creativity rules is my motto.

So, tops, shawls and accessories 2007. Obviously, suggestions are very welcome. If I can figure out how to work it, there's going to be some extra cruise wardrobe action on the sidebar. But I'll have to fiddle with that a bit, when I have the time - either I am rather limited here, or Blogger is. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Well, hello 2007

Nice to meet ya. Hope you brought lunch, because you are going to stay a while.
The party was okay. Andy and I partied the way we always do - mindful of the fact that a hangover is a terrible way to start a year.

Still no smoke in these parts, I'm rather surprised. I don't even want to, so I'm guessing that the hard times are still to come. We'll see what happens. I'm getting all kinds of support (thanks Claudia and Elyse :o), and I'll give it my very best shot. I promise that I'll be honest about it if I slip.

I would like to make January 2007 a UFO month, meaning that I won't start anything new - except second socks, because technically they are part of a UFO. My somewhat addled state of mind had me start tons of projects in the second half of 2006, and I need to review them, decide whether to finish them or not, and work on them accordingly.
Like this one:

This is a sort of lace sampler scarf in Lang Mohair Luxe. You know, the one with the beads :o)

I think I'm going to finish it. The patterns I've combined are not a perfect match, but they are okay, and I like it better now than when I stopped working on it.

Then there is the Sea Silk shawl, the new Clapotis, a shawligan I'm making up as I go along, and a variety of second socks. I'm also still frogging.

Andy and I decided that we need an afghan or two for the living room, so I'm going to think about squares soon. Or log cabins maybe? Obviously, I'm going to start thinking while finishing something else.

In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that there was a bit of last-minute stash enhancement on Saturday.
Top: two balls of regular Regia in black for more dress socks for Andy, and a ball of Schachenmayr Merino for Eunny's Endpaper Mitts - see: getting the hang of fair isle. Next: two balls of white Regia to try the SP9 kool-aid. And two balls of eyelash yarn in blues, greens and turquoise. And I don't have any excuse except they were € 1 and I liked the colours. The last three balls are more merino in natural and white for some dyeing experiments - to get a contrasting colour for the mitts, obviously.
You know what? I'm going to stop nodding off and writing a blog entry in fits and starts and take a nap instead. I know, this is rather sudden, but ... see ya tomorrow.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Revelations and Resolutions

So, first up on this fine day that is the last of 2006 - THANK GOD!! Buh-bye now, 2006, you take care, don't let the door hit you in the ass ... where was I? Right. First up on this fine day, a secret pal Christmas box.

She made me socks, people. She made socks for a perfect stranger with size 11/9/42 feet. Nay, she designed socks for a perfect stranger with size 11/9/42 feet. And put them in a box filled with candles, cookies, cable needles, festive napkins and a Santa-snowman-guy in a bubble ... whatever, he's cute and bearing chocolate, what else do I need to know?
Socks. Did I mention? With a mirrored faux-cable pattern. I'm not going to show off too much detail right now, because I know that my pal is thinking about doing things with the pattern.
I had a bit of an accident (long story) and my feet and ankles are still rather unsightly and misshapen from it all, so if the socks look strange, please don't blame them.
Yeah, the swelling is that bad :o), but don't look at that, look at the gorgeous socks with the perfect fit!

I have been very lucky with secret pals this year. The woman who never got anything handmade since her grandmother died 23 years ago sure has collected quite the pile of handmade gifts in 2006. First there was a cute red hat and a shoulder shawl/blanket that is actually on my knees right now from Alison, then lacy gloves, flower pins and a felted key ring from Sabine, whose blog AND email address I managed to lose, because I'm such a super pal :o( and now socks from Elyse, if that's her real name :o) - I'll find out. Gifts and all notwithstanding, the best part of the exchanges was/is that I got to "meet" eight lovely women and learn a little bit about their lives and craftiness :o) - in a bit of a different way than just finding their blogs accidentally and reading them. This has been and still is a great experience with global fiber love :o), not to mention the kindness and sympathy my pals have extended to me when things got rough this year.

What else happened in "Oh"-Six? Well, obviously I began to knitblog (of course it's a verb, silly) and learned about the fiber-blog community. It continues to be a daily joy. I made my first sorta lace shawl for the World Cup Challenge and my first pair of socks in ten years. (I found that it's not quite like riding a bicycle.) I perpetrated three sweaters we shall never speak of again and knit a shawl that made my mom feel like a queen. She was buried in it. I learned to spin - on a spindle and a wheel, and I can't quite believe myself how happy spinning makes me. The only thing better than spinning is knitting with the handspun :o). All this salt-of-the-earth homemade yarn attitude didn't stop me from having quite a bit of S.E.X. (mostly online ;o) - I encountered SeaSilk and Kaalund Laceweight, not to mention my ongoing love affair with Lang yarns.
My favourite yarn store 2006 was actually not the LYS in my parents' town, but Wollsucht ("wool addiction", if you must know :o), a German online store. They don't have the biggest selection ever, but still plenty of beautiful yarns and everything else the deprived German knitter needs. They are FAST. And nice :o).

2007 is going to be the year of the stash - and the sock, seeing how that's the only type of yarn I may buy according to the KFYS rules. Recently, there has been a rather surprising development that makes it necessary for me to amend those rules.
See, I'm quittin'. Bet you didn't know I smoked. It wasn't much - my two-pack-days are long gone, and ever since I began stashing wool in my office, it happened only outside anymore, but still. I smoked. Until I finished a pack the other day and decided not to buy any more. Just like that. Not as a New Year's resolution or anything, I'm just fed up with it all. So, right now, I'm having a bit of a rough time - I learned that even if you don't smoke a lot, you've got quite the withdrawal going on when you stop - so I compiled a list of little rewards for myself - you know, a week, two weeks ... like that. I'm not going to post the list here - I'll tell you about the individual rewards when they are about to happen - but there are books and yarn on it, and it's exempt, because ... well, because I say so :o). The list is currently going up to 12 weeks, because they say that's the worst of it. I reserve the right to add a few weeks if I need to, but my reward list is not a free-for-all, I'll be very specific. And nothing will be added AFTER I bought it or anything ("oh, oops, let's just call it a reward, shall we?" - not going to happen.)

I also changed my goal for KFYS, since I really don't need to save for an Ashford Traditional anymore :o). I would like to give fair isle a go next year, and if I can learn it, there's going to be Zauberflöte in my future. It's the one AS fair isle sweater I am utterly in love with. But it's raaather expensive, so I'd better be sure I like knitting fair isle first.

Hmm, where are the resolutions? Well, I suppose Knit From Your Stash is one, and not smoking is sort of an unintentional one. There's also kind of a big thing going to happen in 2007 that will come with a couple of resolutions - it's not what you think. No matter what you think, it's not it :o). But I want to give it its own entry, so I'm just going to stop yammering and get ready for the party tonight. I got a very bad cut on my foot today (yeah, I know), so I'm not sure how much partying I'll be able to do. Ah well. There will be more incoherent musings tomorrow.
See you next year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Christmas is almost over. Andy's mom is leaving this afternoon, and tomorrow we'll have a little low-key celebration with my dad. Everything went really well. The most important thing: Andy's mom enjoyed herself. She talked a little about her husband, but mostly in a fond, smiling way, there were only a very few tearful moments. I had a few moments about my mom as well, but, thankfully, we had planned for some alone time in the Christmas itinerary, so it was alright. Lots of great food, lots of wine, sparkling, hot and otherwise, movies, conversations ... a lovely time was had by all.

There was the odd fiber-related gift, too. I found out that the muggle in my daily life actually listens to my fiber rants.

Yippie! Not pictured, but ditto on the yippie: Spin to Knit. It's not pictured, because I left it where Andy's mom was sleeping, and she wasn't up when I took the photos. Obviously, I'm not going to choose my first colorwork project from The Celtic Collection, but it's sure fun to look at and remember what one could be working towards. The Knitting Calendar speaks for itself, I think. What better thing to have on your desk every day? :o)

Oh, yeah, remember what I said about saving the money from the Knit From Your Stash Challenge? Buzzzzzzzzz. Thanks for playing.

Yes. It is. In the flesh, or wood rather. A beautiful, perfectly preserved Ashford Traditional, a used one, thankfully. And it's all mineminemine!!! Andy had wrapped the parts except for the wheel, and he gave me one of the side bars to unwrap first. I recognized it right away, but I didn't want to say anything, in case I was wrong. I might have shouted "Yay, an Ashford!", when he was really giving me a (much needed!!) bookcase or something. But the next thing he gave me to unwrap was the flyer, so the shouts and tears were a safe bet then :o). It is even better than I had remembered. It spins like a dream, and so do I, if I do say so myself. Okay, like a dream of a wet-behind-the-bobbin beginner, but still.
The only thing it was missing was the lazy kate that usually comes with it. But hey, I can splurge on that, I would like to have the one with the brake anyway, and besides, I made do without one thus far.

I love these gifts for more than the obvious reasons. Andy gave them to me because he knows that wool is an important part of my healing process. He said so a few weeks ago and told me that he would support me in that in any way he could. Looks like he meant it, huh?

I still have almost a week of vacation time left, and I'm going to spin up a storm here. And, by the way, Knit From Your Stash is still very much on.

Another great fiber-related gift is the new desktop computer ... she says nonchalantly ;o). Andy refurbished one of his old ones for me, which means that loading a webpage or email or processing a photo will now take fewer than five minutes (I'm so not kidding about the five minutes!). Which means that I might be in the mood to take more pics and update the blog more often. The gift includes the reformatting and streamlining of my laptop once the new computer is installed and everything, so I can keep it for trips. Andy doesn't count this as a "real" present, because it's all his old stuff, but I do count it. There was a lot of time and work and parts involved - and in the end, it's a new computer for me, no matter where it came from.

Gifts and food notwithstanding, the best thing about this Christmas was/is connecting with people who are important to me, be it by card, email, phone or in person. It took a hell of a lot of heartache to get through to Christmas this year, so my family and friends are more important to me than ever. And not just over the holidays.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

May all carols apply

Here in Germany, it's Christmas morning now, and I'm sneaking in a few minutes in blogland before attending to tonight's feast.

Andy's mom arrived last night. Seeing her here for Christmas was harder than I thought. There should be someone next to her on the good sofa. A quiet man with twinkling eyes, who will tell childhood stories after a glass of punch, and who will come back from church with his wife and son tonight to look at the lit tree, the artfully (right!) arranged gifts and the table with the Christmas fare, clap his hands together and exclaim invariably that this should really be photographed for one of those home magazines - no matter how much of a slapdash rush job I've had to do on it. He should be here.

In a little bit, I'm going to call my dad. He is not going to be here either. He will spend Christmas Eve helping out at a homeless shelter. I understand him - better than he knows, actually - because I did the same thing that first Christmas Eve after my ex-husband and I separated. I'm not comparing the events (that divorce was a blessing in disguise), but I understand the impulse to be alone, to not have to play along with family Christmas conventions, to reach out to people who most definitely have a shittier deal than you have. I get it, but it's still hard. And I'm not even going to talk about Mom. Nope, not touching that. At all.

Sorry to be so maudlin today, but I promised myself that I will take quiet moments if I need them this Christmas. This is one of those. And I don't want you to think that it's all sad and gloomy here. On the contrary, Andy's literally un-adult-erated Christmas joy is contagious. You simply cannot be a Grinch around the man, he just loves Christmas too much. So, merry we will make, and - if pressed - a-wassailing we will go, even though I only have the sketchiest of ideas what that might entail.

Since all the cool kids are doing the YouTube thing, I want to share with you my favourite carol ever.

Still dry-eyed? Well, you are way stronger than I am then :o).

I think the seasonal sentiments are best expressed in this find from Come on, people, BE THE HOLIDAY!

Knitters and muggles out there, whatever you are celebrating this season, I wish you the best holiday ever. And if yours is over already, I wish you the best Sunday and Monday ever. Enjoy the lights in the windows and on the streets all the same - the way I understand Christmas they are shining for everybody.