Sunday, October 30, 2011


Hey all,

I'm just popping in here to let you know that I decided to move to a new blog.  The ClumsyKnitter name just hasn't been working for me for a while and I figured it was time to make the change.  I changed my Ravelry name and my email address too, but you can still reach me at the old email.

I will be posting at from now on.  Please join me!  I have some exciting news and updates to share over the next few days. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big News!!!

I think I have mentioned once or twice on my blog that I have been unemployed for a while.  The frustrating thing about finishing a degree just in time for the recession is that I have a lot of education but no practical experience within my new field.  These days (and for several years now), you pretty much need to have five years of experience AND a job just to get a new one. 

I had an interview at (yet another) job placement service last week and I got grilled pretty heavily on my two year "gap" between 2008-2010.  They wanted to know what I had been doing during that time ("So, you just weren't working?") and how they were supposed to explain it to the companies they were hiring for ("I don't's going to be tough to explain this away...").  I had to sit there and calmly explain to them that I had just finished an advanced degree in a very particular field, that I had also moved to a brand new city where I had no industry or personal contacts at a time when no one could get a job.  What I really wanted to do was scream at the woman to get a clue, and tell her to go shove her slightly-above-minimum-wage-job.  But...I needed to get into her system as a backup, in case my other interview of the day didn't pan out.

But it turns out I needn't have worried.  I interviewed at a company that same day, and got a job offer the very next evening.  The woman who interviewed me called me from her home to offer me the position.  I am so thrilled!  Sure, it means less knitting time, and I have to cut out my weekday shifts at the yarn shop so I'm back to Saturdays only, and now I can't continue taking my Tuesday morning sewing class, but...I got a job!  Honestly, it's just entry level and the pay is not that great, but it's in the industry I would like to work in and it's a foot in the door.  I start tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes after I've been there for a week or so.

I still haven't heard back from little Ms. Holier-Than-Thou at the job placement service.  Her loss. ;-)

Lake Tahoe!!!

OK, this post is a bit late but I've been busy since I got back from out of town.  More on that next time.  For now, I just wanted to squish in a post about the day trip The Brain and I took while we were in Reno.

 On Thursday, our last full day in Reno, The Brain decided to blow off the conference (nothing much was relevant to his work that day) and the two of us drove down to Lake Tahoe to take in the scenery.  I had never been before, and all I knew about the area beforehand was that it was beautiful, and that a lot of wealthy people have cabins there.

The reality is that it is beautiful, but those aren't cabins.  The homes built along the sides of this lake are enormous and impressive and honestly, more house than one really needs.  I mean, I grew up in a family of 12 kids and I'm pretty sure there would be enough space for all of us and then some.

One of the fun parts of the day was all the snow.  Big, fluffy, sticky snow was falling all day.  One of the main roads into the lake was blocked off and we had to take an alternate route.  I'm really glad we got new tires put on the car a few weeks ago because I would not have felt very safe on the mountain passages with the old ones. 

It was a very quiet day, partly because it was the middle of the week and partly because the weather was colder than expected.  We drove all the way around the lake, stopping at scenic viewpoints to pop out of the car and nab a few shots and then pop back in to warm up again.  My camera ran out of batteries so most of the shots were taken with my iPhone (and honestly, you can't really tell the difference).

So here you go: a few peaceful shots of a beautiful trip.  It really made me wish I could snuggle up in a cabin near the shores of Lake Tahoe on a misty winter day like this, knitting and sipping hot chocolate.  Hey Peter, maybe we can make a trip one of these years?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, I am out of town.  Reno, NV to be exact.  The Brain helped organize a conference for smarties and I tagged along for the ride. 

First impressions: Reno is a LOT smaller than I thought it would be!  I'll admit to being amusingly unaware of what most cities are really like.  Before I moved to California, for instance, I thought everyone out here spoke like a surfer dude and was passionate about recycling.  Before I moved to Pittsburgh, I was warned that no one out there used infinitives.  A kindly, older coworker spent weeks coaching me on how to interpret things like, "The car needs warshed".  (I was not at all prepared for "yinz" though.  Nobody warns you about "yinz".)

You can understand, then, when I tell you that I blithely set off for Reno fully expecting it to be a slightly smaller version of Las Vegas.  You know, because gambling = smokey casinos and flashing lights.  And heck, I basically expect any city that I have heard of to be large and make an impression.  Reno, however, is so far outside my expectations and I am pleasantly surprised by that.

Here is the view from my hotel window:  Mountains!  Clouds!  So pretty!

OK, here's the unedited version complete with parking lots and a highway.  But still!  Look at all that open space without tall buildings and giant malls!  There's an airport around there somewhere, too.  It's really just so peaceful and quiet and pretty...I really like Reno. :)

Knowing that I would be left to my own devices while The Brain was whooping it up with all of his electrophoresis and spectroscopy buddies, I came armed with knitting.  A lot of knitting.

From L to R:

Seven golf club socks that need to be shortened.  This is a commissioned project from a customer at my LYS who wants the cuffs shortened to fit into his new golf bag better.  The originals were knitted flat by machine and then seamed up so I'm not exactly in a hurry to get cracking on these...

The pile of blue Berroco Vintage is for a Sleeping Baby's Castle Blanket.  I figured I could get started on it when I finished all my other projects after just one day. (Yeah, right.)

Next to that is a pile of pink and white yarn for a sample knit I was hired to do.  I'm still waiting on the pattern, but I brought the yarn with me just in case.

The ball of blue/green in the front is some Knitters Brewing Company Sock-aholic in Jungle Juice that I'm using for Kitman Figueroa's latest KAL.  I just started last night and I'm loving the color already.  I'm only 6 rows in so the jury's still out on the pattern but I fully expect to be happy with that, too. ;-)

And finally, I have one completed Bridge of Roses sock and am ready to cast on for the next.  This is a kit I bought from Knitters Brewing Co. at VKL and I think it's fabulous!  The colors are wonderful and I like the challenge of the design.  I still have a few more roses to embroider and then I can start Sock #2.

And as if I don't have enough yarn crammed into my hotel room, I went shopping on Monday!  Jimmy Beans Wool is located right here in Reno so I couldn't pass up the chance to visit them.  I saved some of my money from VKL because I was sure I could find what I was looking for at JBW and I was not disappointed:

I was on the hunt for some dk weight yarn to go with the Rust-colored Shibui Silk Cloud I have in my stash.  I want to make a Sheer Beauty swirl jacket and I was able to find exactly the right shade of MadelineTosh DK to go with it!  (You can see the Shibui at the top of the photo, and the MadTosh underneath it.  The colors are more vibrant in real life but my hotel room is kind of like a cave at the moment.)

I also found a new lace yarn from Juniper Moon Farm.  Findley is 50/50 merino/silk and comes in 800 yards per ball!  I picked up two balls because I'm thinking of designing something with them.  I love the colors they had available. :)  And finally, I picked up two more project bags, some darning needles, and some gift tags for sewing onto your knits.  Not a bad trip: I found exactly what I was looking for, and I came away with some other useful goodies as well.

One more note about expectations.  I know Jimmy Beans Wool by reputation.  I subscribe to their newsletter and I have placed online orders from them in the past.  (Fewer now that I work at an LYS, but I always appreciated their quick shipping and excellent customer service.)  I knew that they had recently moved into a larger space so of course I was expecting some kind of Webs-like warehouse.  Imagine my surprise (and delight, I must admit) to find that their storefront is actually quite small.  And there is a COW PASTURE across the street!  (Really, my mind just about blew at that one.  First Reno is smaller than expected, then Jimmy Beans is not the giant megastore I had imagined, but to see cows across the street?!?  Too funny.)  Granted, most of their business is done online so they kept a majority of their stock in the back, but I really liked the atmosphere.  It was just like any other normal LYS (in fact, it was one third to one fourth the size of the one I work at) and the woman working there was just charming.  When I lamented that I could only find one skein of the color of MadTosh I was looking for, she immediately brightened and said that they only put out one skein of each color and that they had 10 more in the back.  Then she went into the back and brought out all 10 skeins so I could choose which ones I wanted!  I could see through a window behind her to a second room where two women were sitting at computers processing online orders (I presume).  And when I tweeted about stopping into the shop yesterday, I immediately got a friendly response from them.  How cool is that?!?  All of my interactions with this company have been wonderful, and I highly recommend them to others.  In fact, I may just make another trip back there tomorrow. :)

That's all for now.  I hope everyone is having a week that is just as pleasant as mine has been. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FO Tour

I was hoping to get back to the blog sooner but I've been so busy lately that some days I don't even turn on my computer.  I'm out of town for a while now (more on that tomorrow, hopefully) so how about a drive-by FO post?  I had a whole bunch of projects without FO photos on Ravelry, so last week I made a list, dragged my tripod out to my deck, and did my best to get some shots done.  Here they are!

Pattern: Belle Nuit by Sivia Harding
Yarn: Curious Creek Fibers Meru
Notes: This was the final installment of the Year of Lace club.  I replaced the blue beads with ones that more closely matched the color of the yarn.
Pattern: Daybreak by Stephen West
Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi and ONLine Linie 33 Cosmo
Notes: Large enough to be warm but soft enough to bundle around my neck.

Pattern: Koukla by Hilary Smith Callis
Yarn: Aslan Trends Invernal
Notes: It still needs buttons, but it always takes me a while to get around to those. :-/  Love the finishing details (hems, pockets, folded down collar).
Pattern: Laccaria by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton
Notes: A simple knit with some interesting front details.
Pattern: Striped Snowball Blanket by Sirdar
Yarn: Sirdar Baby Snowball
Notes: This yarn was an impulse purchase one day at work.  It was quick and easy but kind of annoying to work with.  The end result though is a blanket that feels like a cloud; super soft and snuggly...on one side.  The other side is a web of nylon cording and not too pleasant.  The ends were also a pain to finish because they had to be sewn down with a needle and thread.
Pattern: Sweet Jazz by Samantha Roshak
Yarn: Ella Rae Lace Merino
Notes: Quick and easy lace shawlette.  I really like the elongated crescent shape.  It's easy to wear as a scarf or a shawlette.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

VKL Was AWESOME! True Story

Whew!  It's been a while since I've caught up with the blog.  Sorry!  I've been inordinately busy the past couple of weeks and I haven't had time to read blogs, either.  Expect a slew of comments on old posts sometime soon.

I'll do a catch-up post on my own stuff, but this post is all about the FABULOUS time I had at Vogue Knitting Live on Friday!!!

As some of you may recall, I had been waffling about whether to make the trek up to LA or not, but after a won a free class of my choice from a blog tour I was SO IN!!!  I quickly signed up for a custom knitting design class from Josh Bennett on Friday afternoon and then waited patiently for several weeks for the event to arrive.

Let me tell you: it was SO WORTH IT.  Here's the skinny:

The Class
The program told me that my class was being held in Classroom 511.  So...up on the 5th floor of the hotel.  I thought it was a little odd that they had groups of classrooms on the upper floors of the hotel, but I headed up to find it.  Boy did I feel like a hick when I realized that it was just a hotel room with the bed removed!  (DUH!)  They had set up four skinny tables for the 10 students, leaving a tiny sliver of room in the front for Josh to do his thing.  It ended up being quite lovely though because it was much more casual this way.  No one had trouble seeing or hearing what was being demonstrated, and we all felt comfortable introducing ourselves and asking questions.

 Josh Bennett is a WONDERFUL teacher.  He took us through all the steps of designing a sweater.  I mean, we actually designed an entire sweater in class!  He had worksheets with typical sweater instructions written out, with blanks for the stitch or row counts, and another sheet with the equations needed to figure out the correct numbers.  We took the measurements of a volunteer and used those numbers to fill in the blanks in our worksheets.  Along the way, Josh gave examples, answered questions, told stories, and showed samples.  I was excited to see that he had brought in samples of most of his sweaters, and tear sheets of his other designs.  He was kind enough to stay behind after class and answer more questions and even agreed to take a picture with me.  He totally demystified sleeve cap shaping for me and I was able to apply what I learned to the sweater I'm modifying for my brother.  Score!!!

The Marketplace
I wasn't sure what to expect from the marketplace going in.  I had looked over the list of vendors and most of them seemed to be other LYSes in SoCal, not a bunch of indie dyers like you seem to find at larger venues like Stitches or Rhinebeck.  I also knew that all of the fashion shows, book signings, and prize drawings were happening on Saturday and Sunday so I would miss out on those.  But this was my first knitting event, so I was still excited to go.

It turned out to be fantastic fun!  My first stop was to see Michelle Miller of Fickle Knitter Design.  She had her own booth with samples and copies of her first book, Leaves: Fickle Knitter Design, Volume 1.  I have been reading Michelle's blog for years now and I love her designs, especially her one-skein shawlettes.  It was super cool to finally meet her in person and have her sign my copy of the book.  She even gave me a fun tote bag to carry the rest of my marketplace purchases.  Thanks, Michelle!

My next stop was RedFish Dyeworks, right around the corner from Fickle Knitter.  Holy cow, people!  The colors!  I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful colors on such beautiful yarns, arranged in a perfect rainbow of glittering skeins.  Every time I picked up one gorgeous skein, I traded it for the one right next to it, and so on and so on.  Eventually I settled on the three skeins shown here.  I am so glad they have a website I can order from because I'm already kicking myself for not getting more.  I had been saving up my yarn money for a couple of months, so I splurged on some luxuries: The purple skein is 400 yds of a silk/cashmere blend, the gold skein is 800yds of a silk/camel blend, and the variegated skein in the center is 450 yds of 100% silk.  For people who like knitting lace, this stuff is to die for, and very reasonably priced.

After that, I headed over to the Knitters Brewing Co. booth.  They have some fabulous hand-dyed sock yarn, gorgeous patterns and kits, and a really fun podcast called Yarn on Tap that I highly recommend checking out.  I may even have agreed to be interviewed for an upcoming episode!  I had a lot of fun hanging out with Wendy, Kelie, and Rebecca.  We swapped Rav names and I even got a super special handmade stitch marker from Kelie, along with a Sockaholic tattoo!  So much fun.  They promised to come down to San Diego to visit me at the shop soon, so I'm looking forward to that.

Of course I had to take advantage of being able to scope out their lovely sock yarn in person.  I picked up a fabulous Bridge of Roses sock kit in the Greyhound colorway.  I didn't even realize until just now that it includes a cute little stitch marker!  How awesome is that?!?  But why stop at just one kit?  I also picked up a skein of their Sockaholic sock yarn in the Jungle Juice colorway, and now I'm kicking myself for not getting two.  It would be perfect for the Kitman Figueroa mystery KAL I signed up for!  I'll just have to place another order with them and maybe pick up some more Chia Goo needles as well. The cables and tips on these needles are perfect for socks.

Other highlights of the marketplace included meeting Shannon Okey at the Cooperative Press/Bijou Basin booth, chatting with the folks at Namaste and letting them know how much I love their bags (I have several), seeing Amy Singer, Cookie A, and Vickie Howell (I shared an elevator with her and she said she liked my bag), meeting StevenBe of the Yarn Garage (all the way from my home town of Minneapolis!), checking out the carbon fiber needles at Blackthorn Needles, meeting Linda Morse of String from NYC (she wrote the book Luxury Knitting, which first introduced me to luxury fibers when I was a new knitter and didn't know what was "good" and what wasn't), lusting over the quiviut yarns at Windy Valley Muskox (Oh my god!  The samples!), sampling the new Lacey scent from Soak (loved it!), and generally just being with all of these other, happy knitters.  It was so much fun!

I drove home afterwards exhausted but happy, having met a lot of wonderful people both in my class (Hi Sandra and Amanda!) and in the marketplace (Hi Michelle, Wendy, Kelie and Rebecca!), and with new techniques, knowledge and yarn that all made me excited to knit some more.  Now that I've been bitten by the knitting convention bug, I'll be trying to make my way to more shows in the future.  It would be even more fun with some travel companions.  Interweave Knit Lab and Stitches West are right around the 'bout it, Peter?  Can you take a week off school??? ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ups and Downs

Here in Land of the Lost: The Polka Years, life continues with its ups and downs. 

Up: Not taking any classes this fall = saving money and more time to knit!

Up: Wrapping up work in the psychology research lab = more time to knit!

Down: No school = once again looking for a full-time job, without much success yet.  (If you happen to know of any market research firms in the San Diego area who are hiring right now, let me know, will ya?)

Up: More free time = more shifts at the yarn shop during the week. 

Up: More free time = going to the gym more.

Down: Going to the gym more = plantar fasciitis developing in both feet.

Up: Taking the (free!) sewing class this semester through the adult continuing ed program at the local community college. 

Up: Flexible schedule = tagging along with The Brain as he travels to conferences during the year.  Reno, Miami...I forget where else.  But it will be fun.  Plus, there is always more time for KNITTING!!! 

Up: Actual proof of knitting!  Here is the very end of a sample project (green) and the beginnings of a requested sweater for my brother (purple). 

Up: I am also putting together a magic loop class to teach at the yarn shop, so I'm working on writing up a simple hat pattern to use as a sample.

Up: New yarn!  Gorgeous merino/silk laceweight from The Woolen Rabbit yarn club.  I love the deep, rich blend of black and blue in the "Ink" colorway.  This is the second shipment of this new club and I have been 100% pleased so far.  I have been in a few other yarn clubs before and was supremely disappointed by them, but I love The Woolen Rabbit and the Shakespeare in Lace clubs.  I have to save up my sample knitting money to join them, but they are well worth it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

24 Hour Polka People

Yesterday was a looooong day at the shop. Saturdays are normally pretty busy, but this one was unusually so. During the past couple of weeks we have been flooded with people who need help with their projects, but yesterday we were flooded with people who wanted their yarn wound. I was cranking away at that ball winder for HOURS. People were waiting in a line three deep to have their yarn wound, rather than go home and do it themselves or bring the yarn back on a slower day. It was a little ridiculous.

I like winding yarn. Truly, I do. And I'm happy to do it for you if you come into the shop. It's part of the job but it can also be meditative and sometimes it's fun to watch the colors stream off the swift and onto the ball winder. But here's a tip from the friendly girl at your local yarn shop, who is always happy to see you (really!) and help you choose yarn or fix your project:

Please, for the love of god, when the store is packed with people and several of them are waiting to get their yarn wound, and I have just finished winding your four skeins of Malabrigo Lace, do not say: "Thanks! I have a ball winder and swift at home but it's just so much easier when someone else does it for me!"

I would rather not know. I would rather think that I just saved you hours of tangled agony as you tried to wind the yarn yourself by hand. Really and truly, keep your mouth shut. It would be a mercy.

Speaking of mercy, the asshats across the canyon have finally turned off their polka music after 17 straight hours of hell. What started as a seemingly innocent party yesterday evening morphed into an increasingly humorous few hours of drunk Mexican polka karaoke. (I kid you not. Polkaoke, anyone?) But as it stretched well into the wee hours, I was starting to get angry. Party central is two blocks over and that damn tuba could reach me through our closed windows and doors and my high-tech hot pink earplugs. I finally called the cops at 9:30 this morning. They said they had already received noise complaints about that location but no one had been able to get out there yet. Seriously? The music plays for SEVENTEEN HOURS and the cops, who are 6 blocks away, btw, cannot get over there to tell them to shut it?

I don't know what's worse: the fact that I was kept awake all night by polka music, or the fact that I have morphed into the kind of person who calls the cops at 9:30 in the morning (!!!) when the music is too loud. In my defense, I was already exhausted by winding all that yarn yesterday so the sleepless night didn't help.

Also: I'm still knitting. I'm just really bad at taking photos of it in a timely manner. Plus some of it is top-secret so I can't show you anyway. (Do I sound like a badass secret knitting agent yet?) But here are photos of some socks I completed recently:

Purple socks: Twisted Flower Socks, by Cookie A
Yarn: The Woolen Rabbit Pandora, part of the 2011 yarn club

Orange Socks: Vilai, by Cookie A
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Terracota

OK, I know it looks like I have cankles but I DO NOT. It's just the angle of the camera. Or something. Use your imagination.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Apartment Update

Things have settled down a lot here in the jungle. The major things have been taken care of. I totally pulled on my Big Girl Pants (tm) and called Landlord Man to tell him that the carpet still smelled and I was waking up with headaches. Apparently the smell-hating force is strong in me because two days later we had brand new, non-stanky carpet in the bedroom. It is SOOOOOO much better now.

The new carpet doesn't quite match the old carpet but I could care less. I'm so happy to have new carpet that I don't really care. Just add it to the list of quirks in this place. Carpet Man noticed that there is a seam running down the middle of our living room. He offered to bring a strip of the new carpet in to replace it. Thus ensued a comical back-and-forth between us wherein I kept insisting that the strip wouldn't match the old carpet, and he would say things like, "Yes. Is the same." while pointing to the new, mis-matched carpet he had just installed. I finally told him to check with Landlord Man and waved him out the door.

(The following photo was manipulated with Photoshop. I did not actually let him "fix" the seam in the living room carpet.)

Other delightful "quirks" about our new place:

The backsplash in the bathroom isn't actually attached to the wall. I found this out the first time I cleaned the bathroom. Apparently propping pieces of granite against a wall is good enough.

The deadbolt on the back door does not quite match up to its hole in the door frame. This means that the door isn't locked at all, even if you think it is.

Everywhere you look there are screws holding things together. That's all well and good, but these screws were only sunk halfway in. Putting in a window? Who has time to sink the screws? Halfway is good enough! Hanging a curtain rod? Leave the screws sticking out! It's easier to remove them later! Installing sliding closet doors? You didn't want to open those, did you?

We also seem to live next door to a compound for shrieking children, overseen by an old Mexican woman who loves her polka.

And then there is the monster in the canyon. Every so often, and usually at night, our house is visited by a snarling, growling creature thrashing around in the underbrush. It's all very Lost.

Other things are bustling along here as well. I have completed my top-secret project and have been back to working on things I can actually talk about. I have a backlog of FOs that need to be photographed, so I may have a marathon FO post coming soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whee! Fun Knitterly Things!

Dudes, you know how when people win something they always say things like, "I never win anything!", which is probably true for most people and it generally is true for me, too. But I guess I can't claim to be unlucky in this regard anymore because after winning the skein of Smooshy from Kristen I also won...

...a class at Vogue Knitting Live in September! There was a blog tour thing with a different designer giving away a class each day. I was the lucky recipient of a class from Carol Sulcoski's blog. Carol, as you may know, is the author of the very helpful book Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book which helped many a sock knitter figure out just what the heck to do with their beautiful skeins of sock yarn that looked great wound up but fell down flat when knitted.

I had been debating about whether or not to go to VKL. We Unemployeds really don't have money to drop on classes. And if I splurged on a class I would have to give up my right to cry "Unemployed!" as an excuse not to do other things, like buy that stupid mouth guard so I stop grinding my teeth at night. (I am wise beyond my years, truly.) But now I get to take a class (my first knitting class!) and stick around for the marketplace so I'll be sure to let you know what I find. I decided to take a Friday afternoon design class with Josh Bennett. I have always liked his designs, and I have never done any designing myself so I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

The other fun news I have is the new book that finally arrived in the mail: Knit, Swirl by Sandra McIver. The patterns looked interesting and I almost bought the book at the LYS in St. Paul when I was back visiting the fam a few weeks ago, but the hefty price tag held me off. Fortunately, I checked in on Knit Picks' summer book sale where it is being offered at 40% off so I snagged a copy. And let me tell you: I LOVE IT. I can totally see myself making several patterns from this book. The information that she provides about this unique construction method is so fascinating and I can't wait to start knitting one of the sweaters just so I can try it on. It is a beautiful book, with great photography, clear instructions, and a wonderful presentation. She even gives helpful hints on techniques both in the book and on her website. Highly recommended.

I'll be back shortly with a post about real-life stuff but I wanted to get this one out there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Help a Knitter Out, Will Ya?

Now that things are starting to settle down here in the jungle, I have been able to get back to other things, like knitting! Yay! I'm working on a mystery project right now so I don't have a whole lot to blog about, but I did get a special piece of mail on moving day to share with you:

This is a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway Wisterious, and I love it! The fabulous Kristen from the Learner's Per-Knit blog sent it my way after I won a blogiversary drawing on her blog. You may remember that her blog post is partly responsible for me getting back to it myself. This skein of yarn dropped through the mail slot on my moving day and it was quickly stuck into a box, sealed up, and remained there until I was unpacking my office the other day. It was a nice surprise because I had forgotten all about it in the midst of all the other drama at the time.

If you don't read Kristen's blog, you really should. She creates wonderful knits and I always like keeping up with what's going on in her life.

So here's where the help comes in. Kristen put up a blog post today in which she talks about her mother's bout with cancer and upcoming laryngectomy. Kristen could really use some of the fabled knitterly generosity and is asking for help knitting/crocheting/sewing some stoma covers for her mother to use following surgery. She includes a link to a website with several patterns for how to make these items, and they look quite quick and easy.

If that's not enough to get your needles clacking, Kristen is also offering a drawing for a beautiful skein of Wollmeise and the sock pattern of your choice. Because Kristen is a bloggy friend of mine, I'm going to send her another little something to raffle off to participants, too. So go! Check out her blog, whip up some quick little projects (great stashbuster!) and get your name in the drawing for some great yarny prizes!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Further Adventures in Moving

Sorry to leave you all hanging there. The suspense is killing you, I'm sure. Did we manage to take down all our furniture and box up all our possessions in time for the carpet cleaner to come on Saturday morning?!?

Yes, we did. And it sucked. Here is a picture of our dining area with everything piled into it.

I was away at work on Saturday but The Brain had to spend his entire day either crouched on that chair or out on the deck in the sun. He had his iPad and laptop loaded with video games, and he totally had access to food if he shimmied past the mattress and into the kitchen so don't feel too bad for him. It took the carpet roughly 48 hours to dry so on Monday, exactly a week after moving in, we got to celebrate our independence by hauling boxes (AGAIN) and getting our furniture set up.

That musty smell hasn't gone away though, so now I am convinced that the carpet is rotting out from under our feet. I am still recovering from the spider infestation so there is no way in hell I'm peeling back a corner to take a look. I simply don't think I can take the knowledge of whatever is happening under there. I'm trying to be all zen about it. Maybe I can take on a new identity as a quirky knitting lady who smells like rotting carpet. It could be my thing. And then people will get to know me and discover that people who smell like rotting carpets really aren't that bad. It could be an After School Special. Do they still make those things?

So let's recap, shall we? In the last few days we have had our carpet professionally cleaned (The Brain tells me it was one of those super-powered giant tanks on a truck with a long hose), we got our power back and our hot water turned on. Things are looking pretty good, no? Except that I have filled one and a half pages on a legal pad with things that are broken or installed incorrectly or just plain annoying. As Nora suggested to me, I'm putting everything in writing and delivering it to Landlord Man so that there is no confusion later on about who was responsible for what. I am including everything from the fact that we need to run the dryer three times before the clothes are no longer damp to the leaky toilet that is draining water all over the bathroom floor. Now not only do I smell like rotting carpets, but I have the classy distinction of getting to pour a bucket of water down the pot while standing on soggy towels every time I visit the restroom.

Things are not all bad though. Landlord Man brought his own personal washing machine over on Sunday so that we could do laundry (a process which led to our discovery of the faulty dryer). I finally took matters into my own hands and WD-40ed the heck out of our post office box and now the lock works again. The Brain even managed to use his powerful biker's legs to press the front of the dishwasher back into shape so it doesn't catch on the baseboard. Now we can open it all the way! And it was with great relief that I turned on the AC today and discovered that something in this place actually works.

And in case any of you are still wondering what possessed us to move here (aside from a rent payment hundreds of dollars cheaper than before), I leave you with these:

The view of the canyon from our front deck:

The view of the canyon out the door of the guest bedroom:

The sunroom/office, overlooking the canyon:

Every day is kind of like waking up in the middle of a jungle...a jungle with its very own ice cream truck driving up and down playing "Oh Susanna" all the livelong day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It Continues...

Problem #16: The garbage disposal does not work. The landlord's response when I told him? "Sometimes you have to take a broomstick..."

Problem #17: We were given only one key for the mailbox. It's one of those group thingies shared by the whole cul de sac. Problem is that the landlord forgot which box was ours and never called me back to let me know. Once I called him and got an answer, another problem appeared: the lock is old and dirty and probably bent inside. I just spent 10 minutes up there trying to get our key in the lock so we can get our freaking mail. No dice. Landlord told us last week that he was going to replace the lock. We're still waiting.

Problem #18: No doorbell. It's just gone. It's one of those battery-operated things with no wires that you just stick on the wall. Apparently the previous tenant removed it to replace the batteries...and then lost it. Landlord told us weeks ago that he was replacing it but...

Problem #19: I was cleaning the kitchen cupboards when I found the doorbell. Yay! Problem is there were so many bug carcasses in those cabinets that I am completely unwilling to put any food inside unless it is sealed in a snap-loc container. That means another trip to Target. We've already been there every day this week.

Problem #20: We started out with hot water in the shower, which quickly disappeared over the week. My shower this morning was so cold I was shivering. I scouted around and located the water heater in an outdoor cabinet. It was turned off. Gee, thanks Landlord Man. No electricity and no hot water? Way to do your freaking job.

Update: The Brain and I spent all yesterday evening dumping 4-pound boxes of baking soda on the carpet and then finally vacuuming and putting together our bedroom furniture. We even managed to get the couch set up so we can have a place to sit, and hooked the tv up so we could flop on the couch and turn our brains off for a while. So of course when I called the landlord this morning to reiterate the carpet problem, he finally admitted that he never actually asked the previous tenants if they had cleaned the floors--he just assumed they had. The end result is that he is having someone over tomorrow to shampoo the carpets. This means that we have to cram ALL of our belongings into either the kitchen or the bathroom. Tonight. This oughta be good.

I also told him how upset we were that he doesn't have a washer for us yet. Apparently he is scouting around town trying to find the cheapest used washer he can. I told him we need to do our laundry and we're tired of waiting. He said he could bring over his own washer to let us use until he finds a replacement. WTF?!? Just buy a freaking washing machine!!! Or hell, give us a cut on the rent and we'll rent one ourselves!

Uff Da

So did y'all like that little teaser in which I told you I was back to blogging but then disappeared for ages again? Good one, huh?

Yeah. I went on that week-long trip to visit the fam and I totally meant to blog while I was gone, but know how it goes. The trip was fun and I got to spend time with my brothers and sisters and friends so I'm glad I went.

But then I got home and had a day to pack before we moved apartments last Monday.

And let me tell you, this week has nearly killed me, mostly because I have no patience for other peoples' bullsh*ttery, and there has been a lot of it this week. I'm apologizing in advance if this post is super cranky or complainy. It's just been one of those weeks and I really have to vent about it. I actually typed it all out and then almost didn't post it. It's long. Feel free to skip it, if you want. There are no pictures and no knitting content because I can't find my camera cable yet and I haven't knitted a stitch since before the move. It is what it is.

Problem #1: Way back on June 16, The Brain and I met our new landlord at the new place to pay our security deposit and first month's rent. The previous tenant was finishing up his move-out, so there were still a few small things hanging in the closets, etc. Everything still needed to be cleaned. No big deal. Except that there was no power. This detail will be important later on.

Problem #2: On Saturday, June 25, The Brain and I met with the landlord at the new place to pick up our keys for move-in on Monday. Still no power. The landlord guesses that the previous tenant had the power completely shut off instead of reverting it back to the owner. Now he tells us that we'd better call the power company ASAP because they can sometimes take a couple days to turn on the power. Umm...I'm sorry, but shouldn't that have been the landlord's responsibility at any point during the last 10 days? The answer is yes, yes it should have been.

Problem #3: On this same visit I notice that the floors are still dirty. Landlord tells us the carpets have been "cleaned". Kinda hard to do when there is no power, isn't it?

Problem #4: We go home on Saturday and The Brain fills out the online form with the power company to get the power turned back on, hopefully in time for our move-in on Monday. He gets an automated reply telling him to expect a response within 48 hours. So far, so good...maybe.

Problem #5: Knowing that the floors were probably still filthy, I want to bring a vacuum on our first run to the new place and give them a once-over before moving all our belongings in on top of dirty floors. But the lack of power thwarts that plan.

Problem #6: We spend all day Monday moving into the new place and have to put our (new-ish) mattress on the bedroom floor. I refuse to put the furniture together until I can clean the carpet. We keep the mattress in its plastic bag and sleep on the floor Monday night...and Tuesday night...and Wednesday night.

Problem #7: The Brain makes a special trip out to pick up a shower curtain. Gets it home to discover that both the packaging and the curtain have been sliced through. Makes a second trip to the store to replace it.

Problem #8: No power until late Thursday afternoon. This means no vacuuming the floors, which are clearly filthy and full of cat hair. It also means running to Target for some cheap camping lanterns so we can pick our way through piles of boxes and furniture when the sun goes down.

Problem #9: All the cat hair from the previous tenants are aggravating The Brain's allergies. We still can't vacuum all the floors because they are under our stuff. We can only move and clean patches at a time.

Problem #10: There is a VERY STRONG musty or cat smell in the two bedrooms. Our mattress smells from being on the floor. Our bedding smells and has to be dry cleaned. As soon as we got power we cleared everything out of the room and used up two large boxes of baking soda doing two rounds of odor-eating treatment. It's a bit better but still hits you when you walk into the room. I'm sitting on the couch in the living room right now, a good 5 or 6 feet away from the bedroom door, and I still get wafts of mustiness from in there. Not sure if it's a cat smell or if there's something else going on in there.

Problem #11: Still no washing machine. We were told one came with the unit. There is a dryer, but the washer mysteriously disappeared between the time we viewed the unit and when we moved in. Owner/landlord says he is "working on getting one", whatever that means.

Problem #12: This place is crawling with spiders and other bugs. Literally. I have emptied two cans of Raid already just on the doors and windows alone. I have taken to carrying a spray bottle of Hot Shot around with me and I am constantly checking the corners of the rooms. For someone like me, who emptied and re-packed all the boxes we had in storage at our old place just to be sure I wasn't bringing any bugs into the new place, this is a special kind of hell. At least when we had no power we couldn't see them. The Brain counted 5 spiders hanging out near the ceiling of the bedroom closet alone. I just want to dunk this whole building in a vat of toxin. It would help if the owner/landlord had actually sealed things like doors and windows. Instead, this retired-community-college-professor-turned-property-owner has installed his own doors (badly) and windows (badly) using mostly recycled items that don't quite fit. There is a good half-inch gap underneath and between the french doors that lead directly from the living room to the front porch. There are numerous openings between the floor and the outer wall in the self-built sun room. Gee, I wonder how all the bugs are getting in?

Problem #13: The fridge stinks from sitting around in the summer heat for two weeks with no power. Another run to Target for more baking soda.

Problem #14: Most of the food we had in the fridge and freezer at the old place had to be thrown out because we had no place to put it.

Problem #15: Having no power and no place to store food also means having to eat out for all our meals. This means having to eat cheap meals. I don't even want to think about all the crap I have put into my body this past week.

At this point you're probably wondering why we moved to such a horrible-sounding place. Well, it's like this: our old apartment was in a great location and we really liked it...except for the things that we didn't like. For instance, we didn't like that it was on a very busy street with deafening bus and truck traffic. We didn't like having to battle it out with our neighbors for parking every day, let alone having to park more than half a mile from our own home when there were events at nearby Balboa Park. We didn't like that the hardwood floors were so old that they sometimes gave us splinters. We didn't like smelling what our downstairs neighbors had for dinner every night. We didn't like that the windows leaked cold air in the winter, and we didn't like that there was no way to cool the place down in the summer. And finally, we didn't like that our already-expensive rent increased every year while the landlord made no improvements to the building.

So we found an upstairs/downstairs duplex that sits in a canyon at the end of a dead end street. It is surrounded by palm trees and other plants (hence the bugs), but it has TONS of windows, a veranda, a back deck, a sun room, and just enough space for two people with no kids or pets. It is SO QUIET and I love that I can open the two sets of french doors and get a nice breeze. It has air conditioning if we need it, but I doubt we will. It came with all the appliances (except, apparently, a washing machine?) and it has so many wall sockets it's kind of crazy. So we loved it at once, but now we're discovering a lot of problems that we couldn't have known were here. I'm just hoping that things will settle down and once we spray the heck out of this place and get the floors cleaned, things will start to look up. Either way, we're stuck here for the next year so we might as well make the best of it.

Thanks for letting me vent. I'm off to call the landlord (again) to let him know that the garbage disposal does not work, and to inquire about the washing machine (again).

We Have Winners!

Ugh. I've had a whopper of a couple weeks there so I'm a bit late with posting the yarn prizes. I'll get to that in another post, but for now I just want to get the winners' names out there so I can mail off some good stuff!

I used my trusty Random Number app to pick winners. (Just kidding. It's not trusty at all. I mean, it does exactly what it says it will do, but it's not the smoothest interface. But why am I complaining? It's an app that picks numbers for me. If that's the most I have to complain about, I have it pretty good.)

(P.S. That is not the most I have to complain about right now. TRUST ME. You'll get an earful in my next post.)

So without further crankiness, here are the winners:

Julie from the Lotus Blossom blog will receive the Berroco Flicker. I enjoy reading Julie's stories about her sweet little girls and all their adventures. Congratulations, Julie!

ccr in MA from the Knit Reads Cats Hockey blog will receive the Universal Yarns yarn. Congrats, ccr!

And finally, Linda B. (not Johnny) will receive the Noro Kirameki. Linda is a Rav friend from the podcast days and I always enjoy the periodic messages we send back and forth.

I have sent the winners emails (or Rav messages) to ask for your addresses. If you did not get an email from me, please let me know at clumsyknitterATgmailDOTcom. Thank you!

And a big THANK YOU to everyone who welcomed me back from my time in the woodwork. I appreciate everyone who took the time to say hello!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

History Repeating Itself?

Thank you all for your comments on my last post! It is so nice to see that so many of you faithfully kept me in your blog readers where I just popped up. I will admit to going through my Google reader once a year or so and clearing out any blogs that haven't posted in a year so I am happy to see that most of you are not as anal as I am about clutter (virtual or otherwise). Remember, you still have until Friday to comment on that post for a chance to win some yarn.

I also have to add that I tried to reply to all of the comments, so if you did not receive an email reply it's because Blogger does not collect email addresses and I have no way to reach you back if you don't list your email address on your blog or web page. I went searching for each and every one. I apologize if I was not able to get to everyone, but thank you for saying hello anyway.

In my last post I mentioned that I had no idea why Berroco named their Flicker colorway 'Siegfried'. Commenter WillyG said that it reminded him of a character from Wagner's Ring Cycle, so I looked it up along with other Flicker colorway names. Alas, it was not Wagner. But, a quick search of some of the more unusual names directed me straight to the character list from Swan Lake, which is apparently where all the Flicker colorway names are pulled from. Thank you, WillyG, for pointing me in the right direction while simultaneously allowing me to reveal my ignorance of famous ballet character names.

Before I re-started this blog, I made a joke that as soon as I started blogging again I would magically get hired for a great job and be too busy to keep it up. As fate would have it, the very next morning I woke up to find an email(!) inviting me to an interview for a job to which I applied ages ago. The interview is not until early July and the HR rep I spoke with was very unhelpful so I don't have many details, but if anything comes out of it I will be sure to let you know. It is only a part time job, but it is in an area of interest for me so I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am going out of town for a week to visit my family in MN. I haven't been back for a year and a half so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone. I am also looking forward to some thunderstorms. It's been several years since I've been able to enjoy a good thunder and lightning display. Two days after I return home, The Brain and I are moving to a new apartment. I'll be sure to keep you posted as I try to cram 1400sf worth of stuff into 1000sf with no storage. Word of the month: PURGE!!!

Once again, this post has been brought to you by random FO shots.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Knock, Knock! Anyone There?

Yup, it's been a while. It's been a looooong while. I really kinda left this blog hanging, didn't I? A few of you were even nice enough to email me to ask if everything was OK because I hadn't been around for a while. That was very sweet of you, so thank you for checking in.

Yes, everything has been fine. I just got overwhelmingly busy in a short span of time and several things had to go by the wayside, this blog being one of them. I'll give you a (very) brief overview of my life this past year. There are prizes involved if you read to the end!!!

I'm starting the blog back up because I never really intended to let it slide. It just sort of...happened. And then Kristen was having a blogiversary giveaway on her blog, and I realized that we started blogging within a couple weeks of each other. We found each other's blogs way back in the beginning and I've been following her story for years. I also realized that my blogiversary would be the perfect opportunity to restart things. My brother was also very enthusiastic about the idea because he says he never knows what's going on with me otherwise. That was a good enough excuse for me, so here we are on my 4th Blogiversary.

So when last I left you a year ago, I had just been hired on to a new part-time job. Here is my life in a nutshell since then (complete with random FO shots):

1) Part-time job became full-time. Woohoo!

2) I earned three degrees to make copies and travel plans for other people full-time? Boo! :(

3) Quit job (sort of) to go back to school. Agreed to work part-time until replacement found.

4) Last fall semester: Worked 20 hours a week, volunteered 10 hours a week in psychology lab, took 6 classes, studied for GRE, applied to grad programs, managed to survive. Woohoo!

5) Didn't get in to grad school (shortage of research experience). Boo! :(

6) Spring semester: Volunteered in research lab, took 4 classes. Much easier to manage. Woohoo!

7) Still can't find a job. Boo! :(

8) Started working at my favorite LYS on Saturdays. Woohoo!

It is now summer and I am still getting research experience in a different psychology lab on campus. The flexible schedule allows me to pick up random shifts at the LYS during the week and get to the gym more often. (Yes, I joined a gym. I'm super excited! It is brand new and it opened in April. It is women-only and has a spa and you can go to as many classes as you want. Woohoo! Unfortunately, my overzealous running habit caused me to come down with a nagging case of plantar fasciitis nearly three months ago. Still can't walk without limping. In fact, I just got a night splint and casts for custom orthotics today. Boo!)

I am back to my old problem of trying to find a job and weighing the pros and cons of going back to grad school. If I can get a decent job in my line of interest without more schooling I would be thrilled. I'm trying to break into market research analysis. You know, running focus groups and doing the statistics and all that fun stuff. We'll see where I end up.

Now that I have updated you on all the pertinent information, it's time for the fun stuff! I picked up some fun blog prizes at my LYS this week for three lucky commenters. All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment to let me know that I still have some readers. And hey, if my brother and my mother are the only ones who comment, then I guess we're keeping the yarn in the family. ;-)

First up I have two lovely skeins of Berroco's new Flicker yarn in the Siegfried colorway. (No, I have no idea about the name either.) It is a gorgeous, light gray with subtle glints of silver. I love this yarn. Get this: it's a worsted weight and comes in 189 yds/skein, but each skein is only 50g! This yarn is so light and lofty it's unreal. It has a unique chainette construction a lot like my beloved Rowan Lima and it is super soft and squooshy. Berroco has just released photos for their dedicated Flicker pattern book in time for TNNA, so they should be hitting stores soon I hope. In the meantime, you can download a free Flicker ebook from the Berroco website. Two skeins are enough to make several of the patterns in that book.

Next I have two skeins of Universal Yarns Classic Shades in the Harvest colorway. I love this yarn, and I don't normally say that about mostly-acrylic blends. It is a 70/30 acrylic/wool machine washable yarn with amazing color changes. I would definitely opt for this over Noro any day. It is super soft to the touch and each colorway is very pretty--none of those "ugh" colors like you find in Noro. Two skeins will give you 394 yds of fall-colored glory. This is plenty of yarn for a couple of Noro Hats or a Noro Striped Scarf, without the scruffiness and veg matter from Noro.

And finally, lest you think I don't like Noro, I have a skein of their laceweight Kirameki. The color I have for you is a mix of pinks and purples which I think is just lovely. I got a skein for myself and made Grumperina's Volna scarf and I LOVE IT. I loaned it to the shop I work at to be used as a model so I'm looking forward to getting it back so I can wear it. ;-)

If you are interested in winning any of this yarn, or even if you aren't, please pop up and say hello. I will accept comments until this Friday, June 17. I would love it if you can let me know if there is anyone out there still reading this. LOL In the meantime, thank you for reading!