Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back on the Horse

Never though I would use that expression, but...there you have it. I just did.

Thanks everyone for your kind comments on my last post, and for sharing your own stories. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels faint from time to time, although this is the first time I have actually blacked out. Plus it seems that I have now inspired a new joke. Mr. Legendary Producer is known around town for droning on and on when given the opportunity to speak. Now the joke is, "He talks so much people start to pass out!" Better to be the punchline of a joke than the butt of it, I guess.

The evening wasn't a total bust. I did run into an exec from last semester's internship who handed me a card with a Target gift certificate inside and apologized for not catching me before I left on my final day. Woohoo! Free stuff! I ordered the Twinkle Book and Sensual Knits, as well as The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitelson. One of my goals this year is to try stranded colorwork and I always like to do things properly, so a book about the history and techniques of fair isle seemed appropriate. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but the reviews on Amazon were pretty good. I'm not a fan of any of the sweater patterns in the back, but I bought it for the information so that's OK.

Sadly, Sensual Knits seems to be pretty popular right now and is on back order or something. I only got the other two in the mail yesterday. That's OK. I really don't have any plans to start anything from it soon. Classes start tomorrow, and my new internship starts up on Monday. :(

I am really not looking forward to this semester. My internship is shaping up to be pretty challenging and my days are going to be very long. I will need to leave my house at 7:00 AM just to get to work by 9:00, and then I won't get home until 8:00 PM or so every night. Then there is a full load of grad-level courses on top of that. Oh yes, and did I mention that they only recently revamped the thesis requirement for my program and now we have less than three months to produce a Masters Thesis on an original research topic, complete with public presentations? My stress level has been steadily growing this past week and I don't think it's going to let up any time soon.

OK. Sorry. Needed to vent for a second there. I try to keep this blog about the knitting, but I have been really unhappy with my program lately (lately? Try since I started it!) so it comes out once in a while. I haven't been knitting much since I got sick. I did start working on my Tempting II, but only until my Knit Picks yarn comes in. Then I have to crank out a baby blanket and sweater for my sister. I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but she's having a boy. A friend of hers forgot and came to her baby shower with a bunch of pink clothes and my brother-in-law apparently got all upset and decreed that they can't use that stuff because it's pink. Now I have the strongest desire to knit their baby a bunch of frilly pink things. What does he think is going to happen? The baby will turn gay? (Yes, sadly, he probably does think that.) Maybe it's just because I grew up in a house with 12 kids, but I'm thinking: just wait, after a few weeks you'll be happy to have anything without crusted spit-up on it, no matter what color it is!

Oh sorry, I said I was going to stop venting, didn't I? I guess that should teach me not to blog while taking a break from writing my thesis proposal. Apologies to all. You probably don't want to hear about how I needed to run a gazillion errands this morning but for some reason my car battery was dead so I've been stranded at home all day. I would like to think that it can only get better from here, but with the semester starting up again tomorrow...not likely.

Well with that cheery end to my post, I leave you with the promise that my next post will definitely be more upbeat...whenever I can find the time to write one. Later!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How NOT To Make a Good Impression

First of all, I want to thank everyone for the kind wishes you sent me after my last sick post. I am feeling a bit better today...see? It works both ways!

Fair warning: this post is rather long, contains no pictures, and no knitting. But if you want to feel better about yourself for some reason: feel free to read about my shame, which I am happily (and anonymously) sharing with everyone. I guarantee you a healthy shot of schadenfreude.

This post is about an extremely embarrassing incident that happened on Tuesday night. No knitting has taken place since Monday, and if you will bear with me and read my story, hopefully you will understand and forgive me.

I am about to enter my final semester of graduate school. My department hosted a networking event/cocktail reception on Tuesday evening, and since I am involved in the film industry the place was full of Hollywood movers and shakers. We were in the very posh lobby of a certain theater, which happened to have a very loooong, marble bar along one wall. This will be an important detail in a moment.

I was having a good time, schmoozing and chatting with people, and generally just excited to be out of my house for the first time in days and days. At one point, my program director, Ms. Well-Known Producer, stepped up to the podium to thank everyone for coming and to introduce one of our evening's celebrated guests. Next, Mr. Long-Time Producer went up and said a few words to introduce our super-important guest, Mr. Legendary Producer.

Well, sometime in the middle of Mr. Long-Time Producer's talk, I started to get hot. Really really hot. Then my vision started to blur. I glanced behind me and saw that no one was between myself and the long bar. I could make my way over to the bar and lean against it! Except for one problem: Mr. Legendary Producer was casually leaning against the bar, waiting for Mr. Long-Time Producer to introduce him to the crowd. I didn't really want to be in the spotlight when he was called up to speak, so I thought I would wait until he was called up and then skirt around a pillar to a seating area and flop down.

But as I was formulating this plan in my head, black spots started appearing everywhere, and the blood was rushing through my ears so much I couldn't hear anything anyway. I turned and casually sauntered over to the bar (and by "casually sauntered", of course I mean "stumbled blindly") where I managed to delicately set my wine glass down (read: slammed my glass down so hard I'm sure the bartender thought I was drunk).

That's the last I remember. From what I was told later, there was a colleague of mine standing against the other end of the bar when I got there and she came over to say hello. Since I could neither see nor hear anything at the time, she may have tap danced topless for me for all I know. What I do know is that I woke up several minutes later, slumped awkwardly into a padded chair with someone yelling "Can you hear me? Can you hear me?" in my face as someone else was ushering all the guests into an adjoining hall.

Yes, that's right. I passed out right as Mr. Legendary Producer was being called to the podium, but from what I'm told, my colleague managed to catch me and make it so surreptitious that only a few people noticed. Until, of course, they cut short Mr. Legendary Producer's soliloquy to shoo everyone out of the hall so the paramedics could come ask me all sorts of embarrassing questions in front of my remaining colleagues: "What medications are you on? Any chance you're pregnant? When did you have your last menstrual period?" That sort of thing.

To make matters worse, one of my shoes had slipped off and all I could think was, "Damn! I meant to paint my toenails today!" Plus I was so damned hot that I was sweating profusely all over my brand new shirt, so of course I was annoyed with that. Ms. Well-Known Producer was kind enough to sit on the floor next to me and bathe my face with ice cubes, but then I kept thinking, "My hair and makeup are going to look awful!" Right. As if I was just going to get up off the floor and start chatting people up again.

To cut a long story short, they took me to the hospital and kept me for hours, running all sorts of inconclusive tests on me. The Brain was able to make the drive up and keep me company. The doctor wanted me to stay under observation for 24 hours to see if a pre-existing heart condition caused the episode, but I just wanted to go home. I figured if it happens again I'll stay. But one episode in 29 years? Meh. I'm blaming it on my cold and staying at home.

So there you have it: my absolutely MORTIFYING episode for the week. I would advise against this strategy, however, as a way to make people remember you. Only two things would have made it worse: if I had actually fallen backwards onto Mr. Legendary Producer, or if I had peed my pants when I passed out. This horrible possibility didn't even occur to me until the ER nurse asked me if I had "voided" when it happened. Can you imagine? Suddenly my whole episode didn't seem so bad after all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Y'all Got Me Sick

Yes, that's right: all you sick people in blogland got me sick! That's the only way I can explain how I came down with a nasty cold when I haven't been out in public or had people over to my house. Just reading about all the germy knitters out there who have been sick this week somehow got the bugs into my system. Or...OK, so I did go to the mall and the movie theater on Saturday. But I didn't see any sick people there!

The only reason I'm not still in bed is that I got a call from our apartment office saying the exterminator would be here today between 11:00-1:00. See--we've had this termite problem since October. Apparently, termites leave behind little "droppings", which are really just tiny balls of wood that they spit out. These droppings have been dropping all over our living room for months now. At first we had no idea what they were: seed pods? Eggs? Roach droppings? I bagged some up and took them into the apartment office and they immediately said, "Termites!" We don't have this problem in Minnesota and they were just astounded that I had never seen these things before. It took nearly a month to get the people in here to treat the ceiling and they didn't go away. Now it's taken another month to get them back here, and...let's just say that I'm tired of having to vacuum my couch every couple of days, and of not being able to set anything nearby that I don't want covered in termite droppings (knitting, anyone? Even a glass of water!) So needless to say I am very eager to get rid of these things!

Well...I didn't wake up enough to even check my voicemail messages until noon today and there was no exterminator in sight yet. I figured the only way to guarantee that the exterminator did come today was to hop in the shower. (I had an unfortunate incident with an IKEA delivery showing up early when I moved to Pittsburgh last fall.) Well I took that shower, and no exterminator. I even got dressed (too bad The Brain's not here to see me out of my sweatpants for the first time in days), but no exterminator! It is now 1:04 and there is no exterminator in sight. Great.

Since I have been sick, not much knitting has happened since my last post, although The Brain did manage to scrounge up some batteries for my camera so I do have pics!

I did some reading this weekend and although I couldn't get excited enough about my Keyhole Top to work on it, I did whip out these Maine Morning Mitts from The Knitter's Book of Yarn. Both are made from the same skein of Noro Kureyon. I followed the pattern exactly as written in the book. I like the finished result (warm and fitted), although I wish each glove shared some of the same colors as the other one! I'm not a big fan of the matchy-matchy, but you know the next thing people are going to be looking at are my feet to see if I managed to put two of the same shoes on.

It was my first experience with Noro Kureyon and I really like it. The colors have really loooooong sections, and I like that it doesn't repeat the same colors over and over. It is a bit scratchy though, and I wish it could be softer, but I'm sure in the future I'll be on the lookout for other patterns that use it.

And to finish it off, here are a couple really boring pics of my Keyhole Top. I'm still working on the waistband. I am starting to get really nervous about my new job starting up in a week and a half; mostly because I don't know when I'll have time for homework or writing my thesis or sleeping. I think that's affecting my knitting motivation. I don't really want to start anything that I can't finish before my life gets hectic again. Besides, I still need to knit up a baby blanket for my sister, who has about a month left before that bomb goes off. Anyway, here you go:

Friday, January 4, 2008

No Pics! Boo!

So it seems that my no-so-trusty camera decided it wasn't going to work today. It could be because it doesn't have any batteries in it, but I wouldn't put it past the camera to have some other sneaky reason. progress pictures of my Keyhole Top. It's not that exciting anyway. I'm only about halfway done with the belt.

I can, however, share with you the fact that I was at Anthropologie the other day checking out their sale stuff and they had a couple sweaters from Twinkle, Wenlan Chia's line. Now, I've browsed through her book Twinkle's Big City Knits before and thought the stuff looked fun, but really not for me. But after actually holding one of those big, soft, chunky sweaters...all I want to do is run out and find yarn as big around as my thumb (where do you get yarn that thick, anyway?) and knit me up a giant, squooshy sweater! I probably don't need one here in Southern California, but...I like to be prepared. ;-) Both her books are going back up on my Amazon Wish list!

Speaking of books, I was also at Barnes & Noble today picking up the latest Vogue Knitting issue, and I checked out the book Sensual Knits by Yahaira Ferreira. OMIGOD, I'm in love! I have to get this book and knit at least half the stuff in it! This book is full of sweaters knit in body-skimming shapes with the most lovely-looking yarn. They look so nice that the camisoles alone are enough to motivate me to get back into a regular running routine...but these sweaters will look good on anyone. As soon as my student loan money comes in (ahem, I mean as soon as I get my paycheck for being a student and working for free), I'm ordering this book.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Got Gauge!!!

I really didn't, but I also really wanted to say that. Go me.

So the results of my swatching experiment were a little less than stellar. If you recall from yesterday's post, I made two swatches for two different sweaters. I measured them last night and found that my gauge was too tight. Big surprise. I always have to move up at least one needle size. Smarter souls than I am might suggest that perhaps I should have swatched with a larger size to begin with, but I'm trying to play by the rules here.

After my first swatches turned out to be less than desirable, I made two new swatches, each using a larger needle than the pattern called for. I soaked these and flattened them out, then let them dry overnight. I measured them again and this time my stitch gauge is the tiniest bit too loose with the purple stuff. But then again, it's kind of hard to measure this yarn because of the metallic string wrapped through it. It makes kind of a puffy effect in the yarn:

Then, when the yarn is knit up, all those little poofs cuddle up next to each other and while it makes for a very soft and smooth fabric, it also means I get zero stitch definition. Kinda not good for the measuring of the swatches.

All right, fine. So the photo makes it look pretty simple. But believe me, if I was measuring this swatch underneath a microscope it would be a lot easier! And kind of obsessive, so I just did it the old-fashioned way.

As promised, I also have an update on two new book acquisitions. Vogue Knitting was having a sale on their books before Christmas so I ordered up a copy of their Stitchionaries: Volume 1 and Volume 3. I already had Volume 2 from a surprise clearance on knitting books I found at my local Barnes and Noble a couple months ago. Not that I even intend on using these things any time soon. I mean, let's face it, I can't even make a sweater that fits when I follow directions. I have no business messing around with fancy dancy new stitches in these patterns. And don't even mention designing my own stuff. I can't navigate my way down an empty hallway without bouncing off the walls at least once. Designing a sweater obviously takes way more brain power than I have to spare.

Oh, and last but not least, I dashed out to Joann Fabrics today and picked up a button for my BIL's GF's Xmas hat. Too cute!

Tune in tomorrow for (hopefully) a start on my Keyhole Top. I just hope the suspense won't be too much to handle. :-P

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's Twosday!

Yes, I know...lame blog title. But I'm competing for Dorkiest Knitting Blog this year and I wanted to start strong.

But seriously, check this out:

Two blog posts in two days, now featuring two swatches! I know. I'm stunned myself. And these ones were actually bound off, soaked, and laid out for the night to dry.

I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's a huge step forward for me. I haven't measured them yet so I have no idea if I got gauge or not. I guess I could have done that before my post, but you wouldn't have the suspense of waiting for my next post to find out! I like to keep my readers coming back. ;-)

The yarn on the left is RYC Soft Lux in Amethyst. I picked this up from WEBS big clearance sale. It is amazingly soft! I can't wait to wear it. I plan on using it for Kate Gilbert's Keyhole Top from Interweave, Spring 2007. I think I'm going to make a closed back though. I didn't decide this until after I ordered the yarn so I hope I have enough. Oooh...see what I did there? I created more suspense! Those striking WGA writers ain't got nuthin' on me!

The yarn on the right is good ol' Cascade 220 in some kind of garnet/cranberry color. I like it a lot. This will be used for Jenna Adorno's Tempting II from Knitty, Winter 2005. This will make a nice, casual top. (Fingers crossed that it doesn't do what my last ribbed sweater did and serve as a sausage casing.)

A final note on my Dollar 1/2 Cardi: Andrea left a brilliant suggestion in the comments of my last post about taking out the side seams, picking up those stitches, and adding some width to the sweater that way. Now why didn't I think of that? Most likely because I have been knitting sweaters for less than a year and I'm not quite qualified to be thinking like a pro yet. Thanks for the suggestion, Andrea! I'll tackle that problem after I work on some other things first. An operation like that takes more mojo than I have right now.

Stay tuned next time for the results of my swatching experiment, some new book acquisitions, and more knitty goodness than you can shake a stick at! (Or, you know, maybe just the right amount of knitty goodness. Why are you shaking that stick, anyway?)