Friday, October 17, 2014

Back In The Saddle Again

You'll be happy to know that I figured out what I need to do.
 
After perusing a few of my reference books and taking some measurements from a few of Sean's old sweaters, this morning I ripped out the top two bands of color (about a day and a half of work...but not too bad, all things considered) and got everything back on track with the corrected pattern.
 
Yay me!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Step Away From The Knitting....

It's gorgeous.

In fact, it's quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I've ever knit....and given my portfolio, that's saying something.  For sure, it's the best sweater I've ever knit.

I've been so focused on this particular project that just about everything else in my life has gone by the wayside lately.  I'm not spinning...or knitting anything else...or reading as much... or blogging...or fill-in-the-blank.  (While this is certainly productive for me, it doesn't exactly make for the most entertaining blog for you. There's only so many times I could say, "I knit x # of rows today," before your eyes would glaze over.)  But that's ok, because - honestly - it's been a pleasure.

The thing is...

I knew from day one that the pattern was problematic.  It was written in the 80's during a time when the popularity of knitting led designers to try to honor traditional styles.  Unfortunately, in their attempts to modernize the patterns they managed to mangle the traditional methods of construction.  Ultimately this was misguided.  The old methods existed for a reason, serving to make a much nicer finished product.  The new pattern instructions - intended to "simplify" the process for a modern knitter who hadn't been taught the hows and whys of traditional knitting - actually complicate things and create multiple potential problems.

So I knew from day one that I was going to have to take this poorly written pattern and return it to it's roots in order to get the sweater I wanted.  Really, this wasn't THAT difficult.  All I thought I had to do was to add in steeks for the sleeves so that I could knit the whole thing in the round.  I consulted a couple of Fair Isle reference books, and that was that.

Crazy how the rows can build up without you even realizing how much you've accomplished....but that's exactly what happened.  After weeks of work, I laid it out a few days ago to check some measurements and fully realized just how big it had become.  Today was going to be important.  Given how much I've been able to accomplish over the last few days, I thought I'd be able to finish the body today.  With that done, I'd be on the downhill slide with just the sleeves left!

The problem became evident when I pulled out the pattern to figure out the shoulder shaping.  I read through it once.  It didn't make sense.  I read through it a second time....it still wasn't coming together.  I tried a third time, and that's when I realized that the pattern was completely, hopelessly messed up.  I've done this before.  I always assume the published pattern is written correctly, so if there's a problem with the pattern I go into this weird confused state until I am able to see that yes, in fact, I was right and the pattern is wrong.

In this particular example, there are multiple errors.  For starters, there *should* be instructions for neck shaping incorporated in there somewhere.  Next up, the shoulder shaping is completely off, part of the instructions are repeated, and the stitch numbers don't match up anywhere.  There are several choice words I use about this bad of a muck up in private.

Now, I'm a smart knitter, and I have a big personal library of amazing reference books.  I can and will be able to figure this out...although I freely admit that it may not be much fun to do so, and that I'm nervous about how much I'm going to have to alter.  Ordinarily I roll with mistakes without too much of a problem.  They happen.  I can fix it.  It's just what happens.

But.

I'm not real happy right now.

I'm annoyed that my plan for today has now been thrown away.  I'm irritated by potential lost time.  I'm angry with myself for not having done a better job of reading the pattern/planning from the get go.  I know better than to trust a pattern too blindly.

So for now I'm going to set the sweater aside.  I think I'll take some time to work on some lace or a nice, simple sock until I'm in a better frame of mind to tackle this.

Sigh. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Into Reading.

Yes, that's a supremely bad post title....I was channelling my inner elementary librarian. 

1.  Burn Me Deadly, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - ok, so I didn't wait to read more of the Eddie Lacrosse books.  It helps that they are all short (less than 10 hours,  with a slow reader that allows me to speed them up to listen at 1.25x speed).  They remind me quite a bit of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books....short, lighthearted, fun reads that are well written enough to make you feel like you aren't reading junk.  (I mean that as a big compliment.)  I found that once I got started with them, I just couldn't stop!  This may be a series that I eventually have to buy for myself.

2.  Sweet Grace: A Weight Loss Memoir, How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor, Teresa Sheilds Parker - Full disclosure, Parker and I see the same allergist, which is how I first heard about her book.  In fact, Parker has the exact same yeast allergy that is the bane of my existence.  So here's the thing...I am a Christian.  In fact, I'm an ordained member of the priesthood in my denomination.  But.  I do not enjoy overtly Christian literature/art/music/etc, as my own faith is a much quieter, more personal faith.  I find more of religious truth in secular works because to me they feel more honest.  I say all of this because Parker very much is someone who does live her faith in a much more open way, and so the focus of her book is more on her faith than on her health.  (She also has a very long history of writing and publishing various Christian publications...this is her calling, and I admire and respect that.)  While on the one hand its awesome to read about someone who understands food like I do, and who really gets the addiction thing (and a special shout out to my allergist, who plays a key part in the book!), I really wish there had been less of an emphasis on the religious side of things.  I really, really dislike being preached to in such a way. She did reference a couple of health books in there that I will be looking up, though, and that's always good.

3.  Dark Jenny, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - Can't stop!  Too much fun!  Dark Jenny is Bledsoe's take on King Arthur, and my oh my was it ever fun!  I'm not generally a fan of satire or spoof books, and so I'm kind of surprised I enjoyed it...even in the framework of Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse genre-mixing books.

4. Wake of the Bloody Angel, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - Eddie LaCrosse takes on pirates.  Honestly...not my favorite.  The grand problem of fantasy books that take place on the sea is that sea travel of that sort necessitates a lot of down time.

5.  Written In My Own Heart's Blood, Diana Gabaldon - Confession, I only read about 1/3 of the book when it first came out...even though I went ahead and listed it as a finished book that month.  (Whoops!)  I had intended to get it done that month, but it just didn't happen.  As I believe I said at the time, Gabaldon doesn't waste time coddling readers with a lot of reminders about who and what is going on in her books.  While I commend her for this (too much exposition being a huge annoyance of mine with certain writers of giant, multi-book epics), I did find it pretty tough to become fully invested in this one.  (When I read the series originally, I read through straight through all seven books in less than 2 months...which makes it kind of like reading one gigantic, almost 7,000 page book.)  All of the press on the Outlander TV show - which I'm sadly not watching as I don't get that station - led me to pick this up again.  This time it sucked me in, and I found myself enjoying it immensely....maybe not as much as the earlier books (did it feel like a string of random to anyone else, too?  like there wasn't a central plot tying it all together?)  My only complaint...the book really bogged down for me with Roger and Brianna.  Usually I like them every bit as much as I like Jamie and Clair, but this time around their portions of the book were a bit of a slog.

6.  He Drank, and Saw the Spider, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - The last one.  Sad.  (Because there are no more.)  This might have actually been my favorite of all of them - even though I saw the conclusion coming from a mile away.  I love that the female characters in these books are so amazing, and don't tend to fall into horrid fantasy stereotypes.  I love that this book made me laugh out loud and was so much fun I had trouble putting it down.  I already loved Bledsoe because of his brilliant Tufa books...now I just love him as a writer.

7.  Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel - Every once in a while both hosts on Books on the Nightstand recommend the same book in the final section of their podcast...and when they do I take notice because those books tend to be something special.  I almost never buy books as soon as they are released...but this one I read within 24 hours of it hitting the shelves.  It's got a fairly simple premise...a pandemic flu basically wipes out most of humanity in the blink of an eye, and this is what happens afterwords.  I find myself at a bit of a loss as to what to say about Station Eleven.  Yes, I enjoyed it.  The language is beautiful and as a character study it's exquisite.  The plot perhaps takes second fiddle, and it's actually quite different from the usual post-apocalyptic novel.  I was left perhaps wanting a little bit more....more plot, more intensity...but I still recommend it highly.

8.  The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell - OK, so the Bledsoe books are super-fun and super-quick and tend to be popcorn filler.  That's kind of awesome in a way because it leaves me free to devote some of my reading time to weightier tomes.  At 600 some odd pages, this fits the bill nicely.  Besides, it's one of two books long-listed for the Booker prize that cross over into the fantasy genre. I'm writing this up the morning after I finished The Bone Clocks, and I find that I could write pages and pages about my reading experience with this book.  I'll try to be brief.  First, I will be buying a hard cover copy asap...I enjoyed it that much.  (As you know, I buy hard cover copies only of the books I love most...of those that impact me.)  Second, I was having trouble sleeping last night, and the last section scared me so badly that it made it worse.  Mitchell's vision of the future is chillingly possible.  I don't remember ever being that frightened by a book.  Third, I absolutely loved the characters.  Every. Single One.  Fourth, the time and perspective jumps were amazingly well done.  While I disagree with others' assessment that it's basically a collection of different novels strung together, I applaud Mitchell's ability to so completely capture such wildly different voices.  It was a lot of fun to see the connections between each section, to start to put them together as the book progressed.  Fifth, Mitchell is very clever and his 'in jokes' really made me laugh, even not having read any of his other work.  Sixth, I now want to read everything he ever wrote.  The Bone Clocks is going to sit with me for a long, long while.  I'm glad I really took my time with this book...and I plan on reading it again in a few years.

9.  Dragon Keeper, Robin Hobb (audio) - Robin Hobb is one of my favorite epic fantasy writers, and this partiuclar book is the first in a series of four books that are a follow-up to her Live Ship series.  I do really enjoy Hobb's work.  Surprisingly enough, it translates well into audio.

10.  My Real Children, Jo Walton - I had preordered this book, and yet when it came out this summer I was so busy reading other stuff that I put it off for a long while.  To be honest, the first chapter kind of threw me a little bit.  I was expecting something other than what I got.  (Silly me, Jo Walton has rapidly become one of my favorites.  I should have known she wouldn't disappoint!)  Truth be told, it rather quickly became apparent that what I was reading was basically the same type of story told by the Gwenyth Paltrow movie, Sliding Doors.  What are the possibilities in life if a split second decision/action had happened differently?  In that way, it felt a bit derivative...but Walton made up for that in the fact that she made her two different lifetimes considerably longer and more complex than they are in the movie.  The end is also more ambiguous.  (Which curiously enough doesn't bother me this time.)  Brilliant book!

11.  The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers - I bought this book from a sale table because it wound up on a gazillion best of lists for last year, despite the fact that (as I've said frequently) I am NOT someone who is into books about modern warfare.  That last little tidbit is why it's been sitting in my queue all year long.  I decided to finally try it, though, and to my surprise I discovered that it was the rare case of a book about war that had been written by a poet.  (Yes, I looked Powers up, and he did hold a fellowship in poetry...which didn't even remotely surprise me.)   The language is beautiful, and I think this is probably an important subject.  Even then, I only made it about a third of the way through the book before setting it aside.  It's just not my cup of tea.  I have a super hard time relating to or understanding our modern military machine, and I just couldn't get into it. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scrumptious

As promised, here she is in all of her glory!
 I'm glad I decided against following the pattern instructions to make this shawl any bigger than intended.  As it is, it stretches about 8 foot across and 22 inches deep.  That's fantastic!
 I love blocking lace.  There's something so magical about seeing it come to its full potential...and the crispness of the finished shawl when you first take the pins out is amazing.
 The colors make me happy.
They actually make my mouth water!
 The stripes make me happy...as does the picot edge.
 The fact that it's so versitile in how it can be worn makes me happy!
The model makes me really happy....of course!
 
 Taygete by Rosemary Hill
from 7 Small Shawls; Year One: The Pleiades
Madelintosh Tosh Sock
1 skein Norway Spruce (the blue-green)
1 skein Oak A (the yellow-green)
(Drat the luck...I actually forgot to record the needle size!  Whoops!)
August 11-29, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

There Is A Metaphor In There Somewhere


I've had this pothos for 15-20 years. It's a beautiful, healthy plant that's never once faltered. 
But it does have a tendency to get leggy. Every few years I'll take it down from it's counter and untangle the vines to check it out. 
Then, for the overall health and well-being of the plant I whack off the ugly vines. 
And use them to start a new plant. 

New life. 

Rebirth.

Possibility. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Starting the Conversation

Dear Green Woman,

My dear, whatever shall we do with each other!

We seem to have been blessed for the first time in a very long while with the twin gifts of time and ability....not to mention the fact that due to my efforts in controlling my allergies I've been gifted with a type of mental clarity that I haven't felt in years.  (We're not kidding anyone...there's still work to be done in THAT department...but that's a story for another day.)  So now that we've had some a few weeks to adjust to the new school year schedule, we could really get some stuff done!

That is not, however, what seems to be happening.  I think at this point you and I are both feeling rather perplexed.

So here's the situation as I see it:

Things have changed this year big time.  My new running schedule takes precedence - and before you gripe about that, let's take a breath and remember that running is part of why I'm feeling so much better now.  No way am I giving that up!  The challenge is that it does take up a large portion of my morning three times/week.  By the time I get home and get cleaned up it's really too late to go to a coffee shop with any hope of getting a table.  So we stay home, and...

Crickets.

I can almost hear them as I sit in the quiet of my empty home, trying to figure out what to do.

True, as usual I'm also overwhelmed by the general household things that need to be done.  Yes, my dear, I'm referring to the things you usually lead me away from with nary a though as to how that effects the rest of my family.  In addition to the laundry and the dishes and the rest, there is also a fairly decent list of projects that I really do need to work on.  (Might I remind you, you wanted that flower bed as much as I did!)  I've always struggled with the perfectionist tendency to be overwhelmed to the point of inaction when faced with so many things to do.  I'm not proud of that...but it is part and parcel of who I am.

And it's so blasted quiet!

You can stop laughing now.

The quiet of an empty house at midday is quite different from the sort of quiet that you know I need in rather large quantities.  Its uncomfortable, and empty, and it makes me a little bit crazy.  I haven't figured out yet if this is just a matter of making my environment more suitable for our needs and comfort...or if it's triggering some uncomfortable emotional junk.  Either way, the quiet of that house can be uncomfortable.

I should point out that I AM getting things done, creatively speaking, on the days when I can start my morning at Starbucks...precious few as those have been.  I tend to come home from those mornings with a clarity of purpose that allows me to actually get some of those household things done in the time remaining before the girls come home from school.  As much as I appreciate that, I don't want to go back to that being my everyday existence.....for a lot of reasons that you already know about.

The trick, therefor, is to figure out how to work with the way things are now.

So what are we going to do?

Better yet, what do we WANT to do?

I don't have any brilliant ideas, but I did want to pose the questions so that we can start to think about them.  Perhaps we'll talk soon and see if we can figure this out!

Love,
Kristin

PS.  I was not amused when you spilled that box of beads.  That most certainly is NOT the way to get my attention with something you want to try.

PPS.  I love you anyway.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In Which I'm Easily Amused....

Forget the knitting part, I could stare at this for hours.
Or the back...it's pretty too.