Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aged Beer, New Trees

Just a quick update due to this awesome picture:


This past Sunday, my knit friend Megan and I participated the the Schlafly Bottleworks "Aged Beer, New Trees" event wherein, for $5, you drink beer and plant trees. It's fairly self-explanatory. Well, I am apparently super-buff when I drink beer and plant trees, as evidenced by this photo taken with Megan's phone. I either need to drink more beer, plant more trees...or get the same phone she has. Damn...

Gridlocked

Have you ever found yourself with so many projects-in-progress that you simply cannot, under any circumstances, make any discernible progress on a single one of them? I'm terming this phenomenon "gridlocked" and I've got it bad. I feel just pressured and pulled in all directions, you understand, towards all projects as if they were little children all demanding all my attention, all at the same time! I feel absolutely squeezed into a tiny corner with respect to my ongoing knits and I've got a plan to break out of it.

My god, I think I'm losing it...I don't think I have that much left to lose. You might be asking yourself at this point (as I often do), "Holy buh-jeez, Knitta...why what ever could possibly have you just so flummoxed?! (I'm amazed I not only used but also correctly spelled 'flummoxed' in a sentence.) Well, let's reap a bit:

1) The Sock Yarn Blanket - Critical Level: LOW

This little ditty of a project is perpetually ongoing and causes me very little anxiety in so far as I knew, I just knew that it would take me a very long time to complete. In fact, this is the bosom I rest my weary needles on when the other children are screaming too loud. She is, however, getting larger (well, duh...) and, as such, takes up more space and weighs more. Trying to keep my cats off the blanket whilst in progress (whilst?!) is proving to be as much of a chore as turning the whole damn thing around when I finish I tiny row on a tiny square.

2) The Three Sisters Scarf #2 - Critical Level: MEDIUM

I am so neurotic...I don't even know who this is for. Seriously, I just wanted to make something with the Lavender Cliffs cone! The problem (and joy) of lace is that you have to pay attention to that you're doing, otherwise the whole damn thing goes to hell in a hand-woven hand basket. One wrong move and suddently you're wondering where that extra stitch came from at the end of the row. But I have so many episodes of television that I want to watch...

3) The Swallowtail Shawl - Critical Level: HIGH

Every damn time I dig into my knitting bag, it's there. Just there...sitting, curled up, one motif finished and waiting to move into the next. It's patient, it doesn't complain...and that's what bugs me! (I told you I was neurotic.) This poor thing has been waiting for so long to move into the next phase of its pattern that I simply must get back to it! I think a trip to the local library might be just thing to jump start back into it. Like its sister above, though...no recipient in mind. Just consider it lace exercise for the brain...

4) Diamondback Mitts test knit - Critical Level: MEDIUM

Even though Stephen West has already published his newest pattern and made it available via Ravelry, which I guess means the "test" portion of test knit has effectively been resolved, I still feel the need to finish the second mitt! Mitts, like gloves and socks, come in twos...you can't have just one. And no, I can't just turn the second one into a cool wristband! So, there it sits...I'm not crazy about the yarn, nor the US 8s...*sigh*...

5) Shivian's Diamondback Mitts - Critical Level: HIGH
These were started just last night...because I'm a masochist. My friend Shivian loved what he saw with the first Diamondback and asked for a pair in red and black. He's a great friend and they are just mitts...right? And surely I must have some red and some black...surely! How about pairing some chunky aran tweed in red with worsted black silk-cashmere blend? I swear I will never make these mitts again. Respect the pattern, yo!

6) Work Project IV - Critical Level: LOW

I knit these on lunch, when I'm not blogging. There's no pressure here, you nut!

None of the above even takes into account the encroaching holiday season, insidious though it is. I have discovered that, since becoming the knitter in the family, people have come to harbor deep-seated though nary expressed expectations that surely there will be a hand-knit item under the tree-menorah-secret-santa-gift-and-cake-table for them...surely. But I'm a deliberate knitter, not known for my speed but rather by the precision and intricacy worthy of a clock maker. Take into account that I have never in my life truly been seized by the Christmas spirit. I resent the pressure put upon me by my family (especially) and society (in general) to wallop my butt into a deep rut of debt in the name of giving my step-mom yet another gift basket of bath stuff and my father a gift certificate to the tobacconist (especially now that I'm a non-smoker). There's less pressure with my mom and it's non-existent between my sister and I...which is really the greatest Christmas present of all! God bless ya, sis!

Ahh, Christmas...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breast, 2001

The painting you see to the right was meticulously painted in Las Vegas during the summer of 2001 by my best friend, soulmate, confidante and accomplice. Courtny Richter. I have forever loved this work, much as I love its creator. Although the piece is not mine and I do not own it, I hang it proudly in my living room. It's a small piece...only 12" x 12"...but the reactions it illicits and the conversations it has started are priceless.

Courtny is the same woman who recently created my gorgeous, rock star ring from a plain sheet of sterling silver. The ring is merely the most recent incarnation of the creative energy she seems to channel to well. I think the painting was the first example of it that stands out in my memory. She is not a muse for me, but rather more a creative conductor. Like electricity, it often jumps from one of us to the other and back again. When we're together, silence often reigns in the room as we both become lost in our respective crafts.

She is a woman of a most excellent and outstanding character, a phenomenal mother, artist and friend. I am most blessed to have had her in my life for the past 15 years, give or take. I am beyond fortunate to call her my "wife."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blog Imperative

It's been so long since my last blog entry that I have elected to forgo knitting during my lunch break today so that I might pull everything up to current. As I mentioned before, BK and little LoLo were staying with me all last week, which was awesome...except for a cold that set it around the same time. Lo got some new mitts in red but that was about the extent of the knitting I was able to accomplish. My world becomes very crowded when there are 2 adults, 1 child and 3 cats.

BK turned artisan jeweler a few years ago when she opted to move back to Michigan to raise Lo near her family. She's been working with beads and wire for a long time with great success and has recently moved into the realm of metal smithy. My chosen medium being soft fiber, I know very little about the field, but she's been going hog nutz for it recently with some very impressive results:I have the extreme pleasure of calling this fine piece of metal work mine. Completely wrought from scratch by her nimble and capable hands, the inner ring is a sterling silver spinner, caught by the outer oxidized and hammered ring. I can hardly believe this whole thing started out as nothing more than a small sheet of metal! I think it's very rock star...or Lord of the Rings. I love it either way!

In other knitting news, I was recently approached by the formidable Stephen West, an up and coming knit designer, to test knit one of his new patterns, the Diamondback Mitts. He just released the pattern via Ravelry and I'm pleased to have been one of the first peeps to churn it out!In other knitting news, I came across some close-out cones of Brown Sheep Co.'s Nature Spun Fingering via the DBNY website and snatched 'em up like mad. Two cones, one in lavender, another in sage. They were ridiculously cheap (in my head) and I love them both like a new puppy. I haven't worked with the silvery-sage green one yet, but I did start a lace scarf with the lavender:
This is the Three Sisters Scarves #2 pattern...and yes, there are three patterns that make up the trio. I don't know who the three sisters are, but I'm sure you could find out if you're really dying to know. I haven't been so motivated. I do enjoy this pattern, though...it's a fairly simple collection of YOs and both R and L leaning decreases which gives a nice, neat lace motif.


Let's see...what else? The Swallowtail shawl is stalled in between pattern motifs at the moment. I need to make sure I'm in a space where I'm able to concentrate properly on the change in the chart...and I've been a bit distracted lately.

The Sock Yarn Blanket is, of course, perpetually ongoing. A few more squares have succeeding in their infiltration efforts, but not really enough of them to warrant a new photo.

I'm hoping to make a long weekend trip to the Chicago area before winter really hits...although, being north and being Chicago, winter could really hit at any moment. I have several friends who live there and I have never, ever visited any of them. This includes Jeffer, Shivian and boyfriend, Rachel with new baby Zane...plus I want to yarn crawl a bit. That may not be in the budget, though...

Here's a crazy thought! I have a HUGE...stash of yarn. ;-) Do you think it would be possible for a knitter, any knitter...to make 2010 a year without yarn purchases? Put yourself in my shoes and think about it, really think about it...because I am. Remember, I have a large enough stash to last a whole year...definitely! But could I go a whole 12 months without purchasing any new yarn?

Friday, October 16, 2009

What little knitting...

I haven't gotten much knitting done lately. What I have done is very small...both in quantity and in size. Logan outgrew a pair of fingerless mitts I made for him 2 years ago, so I new pair were in order. I dropped everything, knowing I could churn them out in a night. Well, it took a week. Houseguests, cat fights and a persistent cold kept me from making satisfactory progress. But, the wee mitts are done:
It's been n0thing short of chaos and pandemonium here lately. We've got 3 cats, 2 adults and a 5-year-old all co-existing in my 1-bedroom apartment. You wouldn't think cats could take up that much space...and they don't, not really. Except for one thing: cats are almost always moving and usually in silent, stealthy ways. So, although they don't take up much space, the space they do take up is constantly shifting. Take into account there are three of them and you never know when you're going turn around and trip over one. Please factor into account the bass rumblings and occasional cat fights...always spontaneous in nature. It's a lot like walking through a feline mine field.

The three warring factions seem to be coming closer and closer to a peace accord. They've passed through that very rough, initial introduction stage and are know dukeing it out for supremacy. This was to be expected. The hierarchy has changed and everyone is jockeying for their position relative to the other two. This could very well change again once Nolan has lost the use of his claws.

I've finally completed the first sock of Work Project IV, previously blogged about here. It's a slow-going process making anything on my lunch hours at work. I try and get away from my desk, but often the conference room across the hall is being used. If it's not, then I recede into the shadows and knit in peace, only interrupted by the occasional passer-through. As you can see in the picture, I tried cabling the ribbing on the cuff, but didn't achieve a very noteworthy result. *shrug* Oh well...
PS - I've been asked by Stephen West to test knit on of his new patterns! I've never test knit anything before! How cool is that, yo?! I don't know anything about it yet...and I may have to keep it a secret. I don't know how these things work...
Play by FoxSaver®

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Feline Integration: Day 3

The world watched in wonder and anticipation as the Nolan made an address to a joint session of Catgress. Seen here, The Nolan makes a less than impassioned plea to the Peachy and the Benson, both rapt in attention but less than impressed with the Nolan's Obama-esque oration.

BREAKING NEWS: Late last night, an insidious plot to dethrone the Peachy was discovered when a small scab was found atop the Lady Peachy's head. Approximately 1/8" in length, preliminary results seem implicate the Nolan as the wound matches the profile of the notorious "claw" defense system.

Apologies, reassurances and great outreach was made to the Peachy in the form of humanitarian aid (cat treats) and cultural exchange (excessive playtime with a new mouse toy).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Feline Integration: Day 2

In my new role as Secretary of State for the Feline Nation of My Apartment, I'm please to announce that 3-party talks are continuing and we have made some progress. All three parties can now partake of the morning kibble in the same room, albeit spread far apart and always with a bit of suspicion in their eyes.

The long-standing peace accord between the political factions known as the Peachy and the Benson have, however, taken a slight step backwards as both parties have begun to growl lowly at one another, thus indicating a temporary suspension of a peace which has reigned in the land for years (2 years, to be more accurate). We have every hope and expectation that the previous peaceful relations between the two parties can be re-established and we are not concerned that this might be a sign of increased regional instability. I think such reports are not only premature but also irresponsible and unfounded.

The emergent new, third faction, known only as the Nolan, has agreed to submit to Humane Society vaccination inspections this evening which we hope will help to further sustained and civil relations between the involved parties. (The Nolan has not, in actuality, been notified of this vaccination trip and we do expect some resistance. For this reason, Peace Keepers have been deployed into the territory in the form of me and...me, just me.) Open talks with the Nolan are ongoing and we continue to collect and collate new and exciting intelligence.

The Benson has come to realize that the Nolan has more and better weaponry at his disposal than he does. After a thorough investigation, it has been determined that the Nolan has at his disposal a highly advanced form of technology known as "claws." This dangerous and precise arsenal has been deemed "sharp" by the Inter-Apartmental Regulation Agency and steps have been taken to open negotiations with the Nolan with the view of eventual nullification of said arsenal. We hope to accomplish this goal in approximately 2 weeks with a minimal financial expenditure. The current administration has issued an executive order to remove the block of ice containing the credit card from the freezer in order to further fund these peace-keeping efforts.

The most powerful, yet most reticent, participant in these 3-party appears to be the Peachy, who, with a matriarchal structure of society, seems able merely by the gift of advanced oratory (i.e. low growling and occasional hissing) to force the Nolan to reconsider any advance into close proximity that he may be contemplating. Relations with this administration however, and particularly with me, seem to still be warm and welcoming, although the Peachy has expressed some concern about the Nolan. The Peachy has confirmed knowledge of the Nolan's arsenal of "claws," but only by way of heresay and third-party accounts, not by personal engagement.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feline Integration: Day 1

My home has become a bastion of feline tension and temper.

Nolan is as non-chalant as ever, exploring and going about his business as if nothing could be better. He comes from the streets, remember...so the introduction to these little things called "toys" has him literally rolling on the floor. Rolly balls...bouncy mice...feathers...it's all a street kid could ask for.

Benson has met his match. After his first run-in with Nolan, in which he received a smack across his face, he has since backed down with every ensuing meeting the two have had. Remember, Ben is the cat for whom only total world domination will due when it comes to lifelong goals. Apparently, this has since changed to protecting the underside of my bed.

Peachy holds her own. She is the one that Nolan backs down from, no smacking required. Interestingly enough, she need only growl low and slowly for Nolan to stop in his tracks, contemplate her seeming calm exterior for a moment, then do a 180 and head back the way he came.

And me? I'm sort of a bundle of nerves...this has much to do with my full-house status at the present time, though. I'm trying to be diplomat between these politically charged, three-party feline disarmament negotiations while simultaneously enjoy the company of my best friend and her son.

I hear growling...it could be a cat...or an airplane passing overhead. They're very similar in timbre...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who is Nolan?

I'm pleased to introduce the newest member of my feline tribe. This is Nolan...


Until last night, Nolan had been living in Michigan with my best friend, where he would split his time between her front porch and that of her neighbor. We don't really know where he came from originally, just that he started to show up around the neighborhood several months ago. He was very small and really personable. Kort started giving him food and water throughout the day and soon he was a regular feature.

I had the pleasure of meeting the lil' dude when I was visiting there at the end of July. So small, he could curl up comfortably in my lap, where he would just purr and purr and nap while I knitted away. I was instantly enamored.

But then the weather started to change and leaves began to turn and fall to the ground and everyone's thoughts turned to little Nolan. What would happen to this cute little cat when the Michigan winter came barreling down as it always inevitably does? Would he find warmth and food? Or would something more grave and disastrous happen?So Kort called me up with the proposition. Since it wasn't an option for either her household or that of the neighbor to take him in, would I consider giving him a home? Well, I had to think long and hard about this. I already had two kittehs with a pre-established dynamic and a household that was more of less balanced and at peace. Whenever you add another cat into the mix, everything gets tossed into the air and the heirarchy comes into question. Ultimately, I couldn't say no.So last night, around 8pm, Kort and Logan arrived with Nolan in tow. The poor dude has been wailing for hours on end in his carrier and had finally given up hope of escape. I made sure to have the back 2 rooms of my apartment ready for him and we moved him in right away. The arrangement: Peachy and Benson stay in the front of the apartment and Nolan in the back. Benson was too pissed off about the other house guests invading his domaine to really notice the presence of another cat. Peachy, on the other hand, clued in to it right away and spent much time contemplating the space between the floor and the botom of the bedroom door, a space comprising no more than a fraction of an inch but more than enough to give away the fact that someone was in there, someone new.

Nolan, for his part, has no idea there are 2 more beings like himself only gargantuanly larger in the apartment. Of course, at this stage, he doesn't even know there's more to the apartment than my bedroom and the sunroom. Later this afternoon, we're going to reverse the arrangement for the night. Peachy and Ben will stay in the back, which gives them more opportunity to get used to Nolan's scent. Nolan, in turn, will have the run of the front of the apartment to explore and discover.

It's a brave new (feline) world here on Maury Avenue. Stayed tuned...
"Ben, listen to me...I swear! There's someone in our bedroom. I smelled them!"
"Mmm...pigeon..."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Boy Walking

Isn't this the cutest lil' book you've ever seen? I found it at the Strange Folk Festival on Sunday, September 27th whilst perusing the available wares with Madalene and Megan from my lil' knit night. Thanks for pulling me out of the house, you two...seriously. Anyway, hand-made by Stephen Lott and titled simply "Boy Walking," it was too cute to pass up. I think it's the sweater and button-down paired with the sneakers that did it for me. You can check out more of Stephen's work here.

I've got nothing much that I want to write about for the moment...except to say that my family is total bat-shit crazy. I'm shaking my head even now thinking on the exceptionally insane brand of crazy that makes up my family. Dude, whatever...

Have another peek at "Boy Walking" as he strolls through my literary France. His hair is awesome...

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's not at all glamorous...

If you think for a moment, as I used to, that a job involving oodles or scads of travel to far off places sounds cool, hip and jet-set, then you dilute yourself too, too much...but I still love you. Business travel, my friends, is none of the above. But please, don't misunderstand my meaning...my jaunt into the wild north that is eastern Canada was a certifiable success...just in a very business-like kind of way.

Constant, perpetual travel is exhausting. Through 4 days, I visited 3 cities, took 5 flights, drove 2 cars, rode in 4 others, slept in 3 different hotels, met three dozen (minimum) new people, confiscated 1 bar of soap from the first hotel (which was later confiscated from me by airport security) and successfully knitted 2 stocking caps for winter.

In all that chaos, I was able to wander the streets of Quebec City for just over an hour. I saw only the skylines of Montreal and Toronto. I could have been anywhere...Idaho, Florida, Colorado...they all look the same. The interstates look the same in Canada as they do here, except the signs have different symbols on them. Oh, and the town names are all French, of course...but only in Quebec, not in Ontario. In Ontario, all the signs are printed in French and English; in Quebec, they're only in French. Tough...figure it out.

This was the first call I made, on Tuesday morning, at the local Reno Depot, the French-Canadian equivalent of a Home Depot or Lowe's...but for building contractors. Don't I look fresh and daper, all dressed-up business-like! Yeah, that freshness soon wilted into fatigue and exhaustion by the end of the trip. The photos also became less and less as the excitement wore off.

As in all European cities, Quebec also has a castle, known as Chateau Frontenac. In St. Louis, we also have a Frontenac...it's the really, really posh shopping mall to the west of the city.

Around the chateau, the battlements of the old city walls still stand. Please notice the addition of a chic new scarf from the photo from earlier in the day. Unlike here in St. Louis where we are still slothing toward autumn, it had arrived in full force for them there Canadians. It was C-O-L-D. Okay, so I exaggerate slightly...but it was most definitely in the lower 50s F, which necessitates a scarf.

This is mostly what I saw throughout the trip, though. It was grey...it was cloudy...it rained an awful lot. I think between the planes and rental cars, I probably logged enough mileage for a free something. Unfortunately, as you might have guessed, there was no time whatsoever for yarn crawling. Quebec was the only city I can honestly say I was in. We never even came close to Montreal or Toronto, although their respective skylines were pretty.

All I can say is that I loved being submerged in French again, for the one day I was in Quebec. It reminded me of my year abroad and I became nostalgic for me I once was while there. I also greatly enjoyed meeting in person all of the clients with whom I speak regularly on the phone. All things considered, it was a good trip. I'm glad it's over. Most of all, I'm glad I'm back home.

Dear god...if you can see me, please help. I'm stuck...in Quebec.