Monday, February 26, 2007

Mission Complete: Lombard Street Socks

The pattern: Lombard Street Socks by designer Susan Pierce Lawrence.

The yarn: Dale Baby Ull purchased at current favorite LYS, Knit Purl.

Out of sheer exasperation with my own desire to meddle, I nearly managed not to change the pattern at all. I added one row between picking up the gusset stitches and the first row of redux on the gusset, although I'm thinking I may have just been misunderstanding the pattern in the first place. I also didn't continue the pattern all the way down the toe.

Incidentally, here's SPL's inspiration seen from above: Lombard Street, San Fran, CA, USA.

I promise to get a better handle on the photo thing later.

The experience I gained knitting these socks is fabulous, because they were a great intro to basic lace ideas, and the lace/cable combo made a good challenge. I hadn't done a picot edge or an eye of partridge heel, but now that I have I'm certain I'll use them in my own designs. The finished product is uber-comfy, if a little roomy, but I'm hoping I can get a little shrink out of them after a quick wash.

I've already started two new projects, one is straight bi-color sock in blue and green Wildfoote (bought at Yarn Garden, another LYS, but they don't do online shopping, thus no color link), and the other is a Kilt Hose project for my husband in Aran Lamb's Pride. The genius of two projects is that I can hide the Kilt Hose, which are a birthday gift for my husband, and still have something to do so it doesn't seem like I've suddenly gone off knitting. If you're wondering, here's the pattern for the hose and the kilt they're going to worn with come May 23.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Who The &*%$ Are You?

Though this quip applies to many far and wide, and though it could apply to me and my idea about blogging, in this case I think it applies most accurately to my child. We are currently undergoing what I like to think of as logic-free toddlerism. Case in point:

Last night, Hubby and I went out for dinner with our two-year-old son. Getting into the car seat was a struggle, though getting coat on and out the door was induced by talk of getting into the car. Dinner went well, we made a quick detour to a car dealership to look at a minivan, and then we went to the bookstore which is one of our son's favorite places and one of the first words he used regularly. Getting inside was easy, my husband took the first round of looking about while I played with the kid. Then it was my turn - easy day - and then when it was time to leave I went to find the guys. Well, here's where the trouble starts. My son had (finally) dropped a load in his diaper, and for some reason he wants to not to have "those" diapers changed lately. However, his propensity for diaper rash induced me to make a clear choice and set a firm boundary. I informed the kid, gave him an option, and he flatly ignored me. SO, I picked him up and off we went. This treatment didn't go over well with Shorty. Big friggin' surprise.

Now, I understand that this in "normal" two-year-old behaviour. I put normal in quotes because there really isn't any such thing at this age, which makes everything normal and plausible. Shorty is learning to exercise his independence, thus the advent of "by selfs" as a favorite phrase. What kills me is that things can be going just fine, we're all on the same page and Shorts is getting to do his thing, and then just as suddenly we're off on a tangent that's dangerous or we're refusing to move along to the next gig.

What kills me is that in trying to figure out if throwing a fit will change anything, my son howls like his heart is breaking and that is not something I have an easy time with. We've NEVER let him "cry it out" because we think it's just cruel and sick. Okay, there was ONE time when he was about four months old and he refused to be comforted and ride in his car seat. Once in two years that I haven't been there to comfort him, and now I think it might not be my job anymore. Is that crazy?

All this heartache and boundary pushing and lack of sensible choices makes my head spin. It's like I wake up every morning with a different person, and I spend half the day just trying to figure out what will work and what won't for that particular moment. Sometimes I get all geared up to wrangle, and he submits to my suggestions without comment. Sometimes a thing that normally wouldn't bother him or get him worked up sends him so far over the edge that I have to let him cry for a while so he can get a grip and let me help him work through it. So you can see where I might start to feel like I'm living with someone with a case of severe multiple personality disorder or schizophrenia.

Ultimately, all this will be lost in the history of natural progression and we'll be on to the next challenging stage. But while we're right in the middle of it I find myself wondering if I want to bother having a second child. As I was pointing out to the car salesman last night, it is so different when the child is your own and you are responsible for how they turn out as adults. There is nothing about parenting that makes it not worth the trouble. However, staying sane enough to raise the child is a question for every parent at various stages. This is one of mine, and while it isn't lots of fun, I am growing up quicker than I thought possible, and the moments when Jack and I are golden make all the work worthwhile.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Easy Saturday Morn

Taking is slow and easy this morning, so this post will be link-rich and thought-slim.

Watched a movie from Netflix this week called On A Clear Day. I generally put things in my queue that I can watch with the little rascal, which puts some serious limits on my choices. It's nice when I can enjoy and adult movie and not worry that my son will be seeing things that will scar him for life. My take on the show: feel good ending with believability, some quirky and interesting camera angles, strong characters that don't make you uncomfortable to watch.

Working on the Lombard Street Socks pattern in Dale of Norway Baby Ull in a lovely shade called "Green Apple". Finished the first sock, cast on and knitting the picot cuff of the second. Loving socks right now.

Trying to read blogs on an RSS aggregator or on the web led me to giving up on the whole thing - lost my blog community altogether. Took way too much time and I decided I'd rather knit in my down time. But with the advent of Windows Vista (boo hiss, right?) I can read all my favorite blogs in Outlook! I haven't added them to a list yet, but I'm reading Mason Dixon Knitting, Yarn Harlot (of course!!), and The Panopticon. Notably, all are about knitting. There are a million more blogs about knitting out there, and I have my eye on a few.

And now a quick kid story to wrap it up. We're still nursing, even though Little Man is 25 months. We're working toward weaning, but it's slow going with a high-needs kid. Of course, we have whole conversations about nursing, which lead to some fairly comical ways of asking to have a bit of milk. Like "ita-bita boo-bah". That's little bit of nursing, complete with thumb and pointer finger held close together or doing open-shut-open-shut. Kills me every time.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Continental Style

The boredom level associated with knitting the instep of the second of a pair of socks being knit up with fingering weight yarn on size 1 needles (that's a meager 2.25mm, for non-knitters) is comparable to waiting in line at the DMV on a very busy day. You're stuck because you can't get what you want any other way, but you'd really rather being doing anything else. The temptation at this point is to walk away from the desperately boring socks and start a new project, like the sock pattern you just found here . But I didn't give in, as I really want to wear these finished socks before Christmas.

When I sat down yesterday to work on my sock, I could feel that knot of dreaded boredom in my stomach. I hate being bored; I love knitting, thus I really hate being bored doing one of my favorite things. I love to learn new things; I've been curious to find out how much easier/harder Continental Method would be than English Method, thus I decided to teach myself Continental while finishing the sock instep.

My history with new techniques is iffy at best, especially when I wing it without instructions, as I did yesterday. For instance, I was determined to figure out Kitchener Stitch on my own, and I spent several days attempting it without success. But a couple of days ago, I overheard a very good bit of instruction by one of the kind people at Knit Purl on how to knit Continental Method left-handed, and felt I could remember enough to make a go of it. With pitfalls aplenty, such as gauge change, variable tension, and only better knitters than I know what else, this little step could've gone horribly awry.

But it didn't. Two rows later, I had discovered that Continental - if I can master it - will make knitting in the round, especially on double points, about a 100X easier and faster. The boredom monster evaporated and I got to feel really cool because I tried something different and was successful. I've done about thirty rows now in Continental, and my gauge appears to have stayed pretty much the same. Only the end product will tell, but I think I'm safe to finish my sock that way!

Maybe the next time one of my projects becomes a cure for insomnia, I'll take up Entrelac .

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Knit Theory

I'm the kind of person who gets a kick out of making lists. Add to this my need for perfection and control, and you begin to get an idea of how totally oppressed my poor husband feels when it comes to regular household stuff like buying groceries and doing the dishes. Thankfully, I married someone who doesn't feel all that attached to keeping the house tidy, so I get to pretty much have my way about all that.

However, when it comes to knitting, these are not good attributes to have. As a beginner, I'm constantly making ill-advised choices and overlooking basic principles like gauge swatches and how colors will look together in a particular pattern. If I bother with a pattern in the first place, but that is a whole different skein of tangled wackiness.

For every new skill I develop, like felting or sock knitting, I attempt to make stuff up on my own. I knit and felted myself a hat, then I proceeded to knit and then felt a bag that could hold three large loads of laundry. The bag was supposed to be a large-ish purse. My first pair of socks looked great, except that they were way too big. Gauge swatch? What's that? And why would it matter that I'm using fingering weight yarn in a DK weight pattern. Yippee-ky-ay.

Slowly, I'm beginning to comprehend that there are laws, a la physics, to knitting, and that it won't matter how talented I think I am when I haven't bothered to do my homework properly. I'm trying to see that these laws are really a framework within which to be creative, and the limits placed by the choice between utter failure or tolerable sameness are to be endured while I explore my own lack of experience.

Of course, there is comfort in the fact that every time I make a rather obvious and dim mistake I'm guaranteed to never make the same one again. You see, I learn my lessons and in the process I'm learning what I would like to begin thinking of as "knit theory". Each fiber, each type of garment, each technique, has its own particular properties, but once properly comprehended, these laws will liberate me to explore whole new realms of fiber creativity.

And what will happen with the acquisition of all this knowledge and liberation? A lot of really ugly hats and weirdly shaped socks, most likely.

Post-posting note: I just noticed that I completely failed to tie in my original assertion about being a perfectionist with my later assertion that I've made some really screwed up knit items. So here it is: my control issues compel me to rewrite patterns or ignore them altogether, my inner perfectionist freaks out when the project turns out screwy, and my listing tendancy claims every graphic detail of the mistake and commits it to a log of things I can't seem to do right. Looks like I have some other issues, too. But let's not get into my uglier neuroses until a bit later.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Only The Beginning

Third time's the charm, goes the cliche. Though nothing is ever certain, I assume that this will not be the case with marriages or cross-country moves, both of which I am comfortably on number two and would very much like to stay that way. However, this is my third go at creating a 'blog, and this time I'm determined to have something more interesting to say than what book I've just finished reading or how ultimately pointless I think our current president is. I began my first blog for the least interesting reason - my husband had one. My second was started for my own entertainment, but didn't manage that for anyone else. This, the third, well...

As one thing tends to lead to another (oh, another cliche!), reading books by bloggers, in particular Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Julie Powell, I found that there was the possibilty of much more than the recording of minutae in the blogsphere. Yes, these people manage to have published books on the merits of what they say online to unknown numbers of unknown readers. That is a perk I do not have an expectation (nay, icecube's chance in hell) of finding. This is a chance to practice how I write and what I write about. It is a chance to attempt some meaningful written communication in an age where the written word travels by flickers of electricity rather than snail trail mail. It is a chance to talk about myself to people other than toddlers.

For the moment, this post will suffice to be a placeholder until I can get together the editing time I need to personalize. Look for random motes of thought here and there, though be warned that I am not so html savvy as to attempt more complicated matters in audio or visual mediums.