Monday, April 30, 2007

take the l out of lover and it's over

Thursday night I lay down in my apartment. Friday morning I got up in hell. I didn't go to sleep in between so I don't know how I missed the transition. But, somehow, I did.

So I have entered a time of great personal difficulty. In the coming days on this blog there will likely be blabbering. There will definitely be the making of many, many things because that is what will save my ass.

What I am going through involves my marriage and I can only conclude one thing--

Marriage: Here there be dragons.

Let us get on with the making, shall we?

On Saturday Miss Natalie threw us a little shindig, "Crafts and Cocktails" (we got right down to business and did the latter first).

Polaroids are my latest thing so I took my new used camera to the party. I've scored some gizmos and learned some tricks to go with, and here's the true Natalie, the hostess with the sure enough mostess:
There was also Tami, who had to leave fairly early because, although I gave her shit about it, she is a responsible mom and had to go do responsible mom stuff.

After she left, we got serious about working on our projects and, oops, more drinking.

Don't even be fooled by the fact that Lori's holding knitting. After this shot, she put it down and boozed it up like the rest of us.

This is Darcy, knitting after a few too many:

And Mary Jo, who can really hold her liquor knit up a storm.

At the end of the night, Darcy helped Natalie strain the joy juice and put it away for future imbibement.

The highlight of the evening was our rollicking karaoke session. I didn't get any pics of that. I was too busy performing crowd pleasers like "Total Eclipse of the Heart." (Please, Bright Eyes, just turn the fuck around.) It wasn't long before we all sang songs together. I got the pleasure of choosing our closing number. I thought Alanis's "You Oughta Know" seemed cheerful enough.

Here's a godawful shot of the project I worked on:

I embroidered a butterfly. At the time, I didn't see the symbolism. Now I'm thinking there may be something to it.

on april

Friday, April 27, 2007

eye candy friday -- evanescing

Ever have one of those days when you wish you could just disappear?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

double triple wide

I thank you guys so much for all the wonderful comments on Gracie Bea's sweater. It was such a joy to be able to come here and share it. I'm hoping I haven't shared it too much. I don't want her mom to see it beforehand, but I'm afraid that if I contact her and say, Hey, don't read my blog, there's a surprise there for you and Gracie, she'll race over here as fast as her little fingers can carry her and look (I know I would). Maybe she already has (D -- if you have, act surprised!). Of course I could've just waited until I knew she'd received it I had actually sent it off before I posted it, but y'all know how it is when you make something you love. You can't wait to show it to your friends and you can't wait to go back jack and do it again.

Sometimes, though, it would maybe be better if you could wait.

Feast your eyes on the modified February Baby Sweater.

If it were a trailer, it would be a double-triple-wide. A houser of at least twenty people. I'm using the Encore Worsted I got on sale at Black Sheep. The needles are size 8. No big deal. Except the body portion is disproportionately wide. The first sleeve came out giant like a tarp, so I ripped it and cast on fewer stitches. The teeny-tiny voice of knitting doom told me to consider picking up fewer body stitches too, but I called the devil a liar and kept on trucking. Now I'm on a trip to Rip City. Oh well.

It's just that I couldn't resist that adorable stockinette yoke, which a fellow Zimmermaniac dreamt up, and I was in a race to bind off so I could finesse the whole deal with some sassy red buttons.

All is not lost. I spent Sunday cleaning my apartment, watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell, girl you know you needed to quit!), and working on the sweater. Looks like this Sunday I'll be doing more of the same. It's hard to get in a snit about that.

Friday, April 20, 2007

eye candy friday -- the second best thing i've ever made

I made a person once. But it wasn't on purpose and I can't say I had a lot to do with the shaping or designing of him. He came out how he came out, which happened to be magnificent, for which I thank my lucky stars.

Even though deep down inside I know I shouldn't go claiming credit, I do. Schmin is the best thing I've ever made.

The second best thing is this:

Remember the tiny buttons from a previous Eye Candy Friday? Here they are, finally at home. And the quote, from this post? It's from the "Some Babies' Things" chapter of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. That's the chapter that contains this lovely, lovely pattern, which everyone refers to as The February Baby Sweater.

Knitting this sweater was, for me, something like giving birth. While other knitbloggers who made it wrote of good times and easy knitting, Zimmermann's "pithy" directions and my own lack of experience knitting sweaters (I'd only done shrugs before) made me cry out for an epidural. The version you see here is number two. Number one was a beautiful failure.

It took a while for me to figure out where I went wrong the first time, but I did. (Among other mistakes, I read Zimmermann's directions literally and worked the 2nd front section just like the first. All she says is "repeat for second sleeve" and I didn't realize I needed to knit all the way around first, so that everything would end up on the same row, but anyhow.) It pained me to frog the first sweater. It was sweet, even in its deformity. But I was making this for the baby girl of a very dear friend and I wanted it to be, needed it to be, perfection. Just like the baby, whose name is Grace Beatrice. Isn't this the most ideal little old-fashioned sweater for a girl named Gracie Bea? I think so. And I love knitting old-timey pieces like this.

February Baby Sweater
Artyarns Supermerino #113
Size 7 Addi Turbos
Buttons from Michael Levine's Fabrics, Downtown LA

Nature's trick on childbearing women is that we develop amnesia regarding the excruciating brush with death that having a baby is. Most of us love the product of all that torture so much that we forget about the agony and we turn around and do it again.

I got the best of nature and decided once was enough, but knitting this sweater, even the second time, was not without its share of comparable agonizing moments.

The pain of which apparently has escaped my consciousness because I'm already a third of the way through a second one.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

there's good and then there's very good

And so I'd been a very good girl when it comes to participating in Knit From Your Stash 2007. With yarn, I'd been upstanding in sticking to the rules I laid out for myself. I bought in Paris, but only one scarf kit for 20 Euros at La Droguerie. America is such a land of fiber plenty -- what with the Internet and all -- that I didn't feel Paris had anything on us. There was no need to go nuts when I can do just as well, without a lousy exchange rate, here.

Other than the kit, I hadn't bought any yarn at all. I'd been a little dodgy with fabric, having bought some pre-cut squares for all the quilting I'll get around to in the year 2010 on eBay. I also bought some dollar-a-yard stuff at my LFS, Michael I've Died and Gone to Fabric Heaven Levine's. Well, and some lining to go with it because it's thin cotton. And a pattern or two to have something to make out of it. Oh yeah, and some notions, embroidery stuff, leather remnants, and jingle bells because a girl never knows when she's going to make baby booties and isn't tiny jingly baby footwear the cutest?

Probably I'm forgetting something I got from
Michael Levine's (right, the backing fabric with the adorable stars for the baby blanket, and...) because that place makes me lose my natural mind the minute I hit the door. I do believe I hit the door three times last month.

I'd also bought a couple of sewing books and craft mags, so I'm close, but not dangerously so, to meeting my limit of 10 books for the year.

Not too too bad.

Then came Black Sheep Knittery :

It seems Black Sheep is having itself not a good sale, but a VERY good sale. Everything in the shop, including books and needles and notions -- books and needles and notions, people! -- is on sale for 50% off. Yes. I know what this means. I've used one of my three get out of jail free cards. I really did try to resist this. But I have friends. Women about whom I speak in reverent tones. Lovely as they are, they talk. They talk of pretty soft things, things color filled and dazzling, and of the beautiful tools necessary to work them into something spectacular. They especially talk when these things can be had for half their retail value.

The Black Sheep sale has been going on since (before?) I left for Paris. Two Saturdays ago there was talk that it would be the last weekend to catch it and since I was busy with the baby blanket, I figured I was safe. Then came word, from Natalie, who has a hawk's eye for such things, that it had been extended. It happened to be last Wednesday. I happened to be getting off work and free as a bird at 2pm. I met her there. The rest, as the old saw goes, is history.

Let's take a closer look at my loot, shall we?

Namaste glass needles. These things usually go for, what? Thirty bucks a pop? I got them for three bucks each. Did I mention Black Sheep also has bins of $1 - 5 yarns, needles, and other goodies? Dollar yarn right here --

and here, in blue, with a 3 dollar Frida tote:

These boxes of ribbon embellishments are marked $12.95. I caught them while they were sunbathing in the 3 dollar bin.

And a few of my most favorite things:

When I walked into Black Sheep the first day (much like a potato chip, it was impossible to indulge in this sale only once, though since it is the same sale, I'm only counting it as one outing, yar!) I had to sit down and catch my breath before I could shop. I mean, come on. A sweet little tin of mixed buttons? 1/2 price Manos? Golden embroidery scissors? Jimi and Che under glass?

They keep pulling more stuff out of some magical warehouse. I'll set a modest spending limit (I will! I mean it!) and drop in just one more time. One more. That's all. Because there's broke and then there's very broke.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

done is better than perfect

The deed is done.

The shower officially started at 1pm. My goal was to be there by 2, as this was a casual backyard affair. At 2, I was just finishing sewing on the backing, using the old face-to-face, sew all around but leave a hole, turn inside-out trick nicely detailed here. Once that was done, I did some of the tacking to see how it would look. I liked the red, so red it was. I snapped a few shots, took measurement (27 x 23.5 -- small, but Bubs said it was okay because I was looking to cover a newborn, not its parents), grabbed the stuff I'd bought at Target (washcloths, onesies, baby wash, a rubber duckie) and placed in this cute little box

Also from Target. Adorable, yes?
and off we went.

With Bubba at the wheel, I spent the 45 minute ride tacking the quilt. Sometimes the backing would get a funny pull in it when I stuck the yarn through to the front and I'd have to do each tack over. When we pulled up in front of the house, I was done tacking and was trying to get the blanket wrapped. I could see people in the backyard -- and they could see me -- so I asked Bubs to pull around the corner. He did, but not too happily because he was starving and had spied the food table. I have to give Ye Olde Bubs lots of credit. While I was at Target, he washed and dried the blanket top and the backing fabric, an operation that took a couple of hours because the thick Lion Cotton creation did not go gently into that good dryness. In fact, the thing was still a bit damp when I gave it to the mom-to-be.

Looking at the pictures of the finished project gives me a tinge of regret over the whipstitching. I suck at using the mattress stitch and, had I used it, it would've taken me twice as long to get done. I did the whipstitch thing at 7 in the morning and from that part of day, it looked fine. Post wash, though, the uneveness of the stitches really shows. I haven't thrown myself on a sharp object over this is because it actually looks better in person. So poo on you, pictures.

The road to the shower:

Über-talented Natalie made me a beautiful set of gift tags for my birthday last year. They're from a photo Schmin took of me reveling in the glory of ImaginKnit. I'd used the photo for my party invitations and Natalie took one and made tags. They're very dear to me. I fondly think of them as "the narcissistic tags" because they feature my big old head in technicolor. And because I love looking at them so much.

She even included the title of one of my blog posts.

Finally, wrapping it up (featuring more Target supplies. They should pay me for advertising):

And the moment that gives us an excuse to knit makes it all worth it:

My lovely friend really liked the blanket. Her friend was checking out the tag, wondering, Who does this chick think she is putting her face on everything? Oprah?

For absolutely no reason, here's a shot of my tablemate. Click for big and check him out close up.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate. Happy Sunday all around.

Friday, April 06, 2007

eye candy friday -- oh baby oh

Goodness! I seem to only make appearances for Eye Candy Friday these days, and late Eye Candy Friday at that. But I'm glad to have this obligation because it keeps me posting when my time is short and it keeps me thinking about posting even when I can't come here and do it. Plus, as my interest turns more and more to photography (I said "my interest," not "my skill") my dedication to ECF pushes me to try harder to develop and carry out a vision. Eh, sometimes I get there.

Since the Paris post will take me time to get together (there's so much I'd like to share), and I won't be showing the contest prizes until (hopefully) early next week, I figured I'd dedicate today's ECF to, well, today.

A few months ago (January? December?) I found I could no longer fight the urge to throw myself into modular knitting. I'd long been planning to do a baby blanket from some Lion Cotton I had stashed. I had the usual dirty dozen (and the dirty dozen's cousins) on the needles, but, with great gusto, I cast on for the blanket. I made two squares then called up Natalie and told her how wonderful and soothing this modular thing was. I could make squares forever, I declared. I carried on, then I got word that one of my friends was a few months pregnant. I decided to give the blanket to her, but y'all know how it is. The baby's birth always seems eons away. So does the baby shower.

So I didn't worry when, after about ten more squares, my usual project ADD set in. I set the squares aside and moved on without a care. This is a fine example of something I really like about myself: I don't nag me too much.

Only maybe, when it comes to making stuff on a deadline, I should at least occasionally shake a threatening finger at myself as I pass a mirror.

Word is bond. My friend's baby shower is tomorrow.

This here is what I'm working with. I am not having much fun breaking my fingers (and having to miss seeing Grindhouse with The Bubba) to get the blanket done, but taking these pictures felt good. The light was better than I thought, and the image of the turquoise blue -- though it could be a tad more green -- makes me happy.

Today I finished the last five squares and I'm in the process of stitching all of them together. It'll be my first time putting on backing, but with the aid of those who've gone before me and been nice enough to tell about it on the Internet, I'll figure out a quick way to get it done.

Lord willing and the crick don't rise, I'll soon be able to post pics of the finished blanket. After gifting it, bless my soul.

UPDATE: 10:10am Saturday. The top is done. I've whipstitched it together and The Bubba is headed to the laundrymat to wash it and the backing fabric while I head to Target for gift packaging and the customary store bought item it's so classy to include with handmade gifts. Target = busy as hell. The Bubba at the laundrymat = wildcard. Departure time for shower = 1pm. I'll still have to sew on the backing and tack quilt the whole thing between Target and then. Will I make it?

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: 11:27am. Back from Target. Not too bad. Checked on Bubs at the laundry. Blanket and backing drying well. No fading on either. Yay. Preparing to use sewing machine to practice putting backing on 1 square. Can I do it? Only if I get off this blog!