Knit Picky: July 2007

"properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit...
 and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."
~elizabeth zimmerman

Monday, July 30, 2007
You Know, I'd Really Like Working At This School If It Weren't For All These Students

Beware: Grumpy Old Woman Rant Commences...NOW

Whatsamatta U has the distinction of being located in an area populated by rich, snotty kids. Kids much like those spotlighted by MTV with their stupid, (sur)reality shows based on plasticy, enhanced-to-within-an-inch-of-themselves lives. And these kids are the worst kinds of entitled that you've ever seen.

They drive far nicer cars than about 90% of the staff. And they have no qualms about scratching, denting or otherwise damaging the cars of us, their underlings. They look with scorn upon those of us who cannot afford/do not want to dress like a) hookers, b) mannequins or c) the latest runway victim of Dolce & Gabana/Versace/H&M/Ralph Lauren/Gwen Stefani (have you seen what her stuff costs?!--holy !@#$). They walk blindly behind reversing vehicles, trusting that their charmed little lives could never be snatched away from them, knowing that if one of us deigned to bump them with our cars, daddy would sue us into oblivion. Because Princess should be allowed to be irresponsible and lazy and insensible of things happening around her!

Ugh. Today two such lithe, young, tanned, spoilt specimens just walked right behind my car as I backed up from my parking spot. They never looked at me or my car. They were talking at each other, scrolling through their ipods, in their designer clothes that cost as much as my monthly car payment. No doubt they were on their way to get their half-caf, soy mochaccinos in their BMW or convertible Mercedes!

If this is our future, God help us all. This is what happens with a concentration of too much money, not enough discipline and spoiling run amok.

Where are the parents here? Other than handing over the limitless credit card and the keys to the Jag, do these mini divas with JUICY printed across their a$$es/their $300 jeans/their Missoni dresses/Gucci pants and their Prada/Coach/Chanel bags have actual, involved parents? I know that there are some awesome parents out there in the real world. Hell, I've known more than a few in real life. So what dysfunction happened to this new generation that has made it acceptable for kids to be this way? Brainless wonders cum tween/teen icons. Oy. Paris, Lindsay, Nicole? I'm looking at you.

God I'm old.

posted by Stephanie at 4:03 PM

Friday, July 27, 2007
Freaky Fridays--and Sock Talk

I swear to you that there has been knitting, it's just not all that exciting. I have ripped and restarted a pair of socks using Koigu KPPM P113 7x. Seriously. SEVEN.TIMES.

Yeah, so I stole the picture, because I don't have a decent one, from Simply Socks Yarn Co. (though I didn't steal Allison's bandwidth or anything--I love SSYC and I love Allison--have you seen her latest addition to the shop? He's a doll--go say hi!!!).

The thing is, I love Koigu (as if you didn't know that), and I really love this variegated colorway, but it was fighting with every pattern I tried. So I finally started it with the Mata Hari pattern (discovered via a pattern search on Ravelry!) And it's working, but it's a slog for a number of reasons--I've been reading a lot and then there was a certain book about a boy magician named Harry, I think...yeah. But I will take a nice photo on my truly fabulous new sock blockers* for you, I promise. Speaking of which...

antler feet
My lovely model

foot in mouth disease2
He really does put his foot in his mouth a lot ;)


Aw well, on to the freakiness!

A somewhat recent fall in my very own bedroom. Fortunately the only witness was The Max (my cat) and he's not talkin'.

You know how falling can be like a domino effect? You start to fall, and you grab something to help break your fall and it breaks, and so you reach for something else and it hits you in the head, That's never happened to you. Huh. Guess it's just me then.

I was sorting out my underbed plastic storage bin that holds wrapping paper, and then I abandoned the project at the foot of the bed for a couple of weeks because it was boring. By it's placement it became a catchall for discarded socks, a paper bag with stuff that needed to be sorted, some get the idea.

I was walking between my 'vanity' (dresser) and the bed and my socked foot slipped on a piece of paper that had fallen off the plastic bin. I stumbled forward, and tried high-stepping in my effort to regain my balance. And thusly did my foot go through the plastic lid of the storage bin. I reached for the down comforter to catch myself, but it is silky and so it just slid off the bed and helped take me down. I grabbed blindly for the handled bag on top of the bin and it swung forward and hit me in the head. I grabbed for the dresser, but my hand slid across it's glossy IKEA surface. In the end I went down, facedown, with the handle ripped from the paper bag and a sweatshirt from off the bin in my hand; the comforter was hanging off the bed and dangling onto the back of my leg. My cat was sitting in the doorway, fascinated and terrified. I had one hand in front of me as I had managed (amazingly, considering) to avoid a faceplant right into the base of the floorlamp.

Naturally, The Boy came running in after all this to find me laying on the ground in the bedroom laughing like a loon. I told him I had been taking a nap. If it weren't for the noise that my ample self made when hitting the ground, I probably could've gotten away with my story, too!

Sock blockers purchased from Leggy Creations. Becky is super nice, incredibly fast and her gorgeous work is very reasonably priced. I saw an almost identical pair of sock blockers in her archives and asked her if she would take a custom order. She made mine a little bit different (so that it is unique for me), and I had them within about a week, I think. Handmade and to my door in about a week, people! If you are ever looking for sock blockers, hers are fabulous and she's wonderful to work with!

posted by Stephanie at 5:22 PM

Friday, July 20, 2007
Freaky Fridays--And Why I'm Famous At Work

So about a month after the first time I sprained my ankle, it was a bit drizzly out and I was walking back to my office from a lunch run, carrying my sandwich and soda. I was heading down a slight grade, unaware of the danger lurking just a foot or so ahead of me.

Cue dramatic music--Bum BUM bum!

Some background: the buildings where our offices are located at Whatsamatta U were built in the '60s (pink stucco bungalows, bay-bee) and had all the typical failings from that era, including no handicapped* access to the doors. The two entrance doors are about 6" or more off the ground, the main walkway has a drop of 5-6", and between the main walkway and the doors is a gravel walkway. Yeah, real handicap-friendly. At some point they added wooden ramps down the main walkway to the gravel area, and back up to the main door that is used to enter our building. /Background

So I'm walking down that first ramp and I hit a damp patch. When stepping with the foot with my already sprained ankle. And I'm wearing boots with a heel (because I'm a moron who doesn't learn her lesson). Down, down, down I went. My purse went flying, my foot/leg again landed folded underneath me, I dropped the bag with my sandwich. But through it all (and this is a point of pride) not one drop of my soda was spilled. (Thank you, thank you.) I got up, looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my idiocy, gathered up the scraps of my dignity and limped back to the office. I tried to pretend that nothing happened because I was sooooo embarassed. But the pain did not get any better.

The next day I told my boss about it half-jokingly because my co-workers love to hear the stories of my humiliation (and I give them plenty of fodder). Well, she didn't find it so funny since it happened on campus property. An accident report was quickly filed, I was dispatched to the campus medical center for assessment, I was referred to physical therapy, and some handy dandy changes were instituted 'round these parts. The most notable was the ginormous rubber mats that were installed that very day on each wooden ramp. The mats were jokingly therefore referred to as KnitPicky** ramps. Campus safety also asked me for any other safety recommendations that I might have (slippery when wet signs, said I). And then there was the fancy shoe.

new shoe

*I know that 'handicapped' is probably not the most PC word to use, but I think 'disabled' sounds worse, like you are referring to a person or people-group with some kind of a failing. You disable a machine, not a person. And 'differently abled' just sounds like you're trying too hard. Is this the lesser of some evils?

**Obviously they don't say KnitPicky. They say my last name, but for purposes of this blog, this works. ;)

posted by Stephanie at 1:59 PM

Saturday, July 14, 2007
Hogwart's TWO, the Return of the Sock Needles

Circumstances beyond my control kept me from posting yesterday, so I apologize to everyone that I may have let down--Freaky Friday fans and Hogwart's swappers alike.

I was meant to have posted the answers to the Hogwart's Sock Swap TWO before today. And I was meant to tell you that sign ups for the sock swap began TODAY if you would like to sign up for Hogwart's I. Le sigh. Life. It is so complicated. To all Hufflepuffs everywhere, I apologize!

Okay, guilt aside, here goes the questionnaire...

1) What Hogwarts house have you been sorted into?
This go round the Sorting Hat saw fit to place me in HUFFLEPUFF!

2) Shoe size? Foot length? Foot circumference?
I wear a bog standard US Women's size 9 shoe. My foot is 9.25" from back of heel to base of toes. My foot circumference is also 9.25".

3) List your three favorite sock yarns.
a. Koigu
b. Lorna's Laces
c. Artyarns

4) Would you like to try a new brand of sock yarn? If so, which brand?
Absolutely! I'm open to trying anything new. My dream yarns to try are the world-famous STR, Yarn Pirate and Sweet Georgia Yarns.

5) Do you prefer variegated or solid sock yarn?
I am a huge fan of variegated and handpainted yarns. If they are solid, I prefer the semi-solids that still have subtle changes from stitch to stitch. I am not really a fan of self-patterning yarns--I think it detracts from the challenge and excitement that you get of seeing what pops up with a variegated yarn.

6) What colors would you like to add to your sock yarn stash?
Red, teal (not turquoise, but a blue-teal), orange, blues. Really, just about anything. I just love me some sock yarn. :)

7) What kind of sock patterns do you gravitate toward? Lace? Ribbed? Fair Isle?
I tend to do lace or ribbed. I haven't actually made that many pairs of socks yet, but the ones that catch my eye the most use creative patterning and stitchery.

8) Do you have any allergies? (smoke, animals, etc.)
I'm allergic to cats, but I have two of them, so that's certainly no deterrent! I am really sensitive to smoke, though. And the only yarn that I have ever sworn off is angora. It is lovely and soft, but it makes my nose itch like mad!

9) Will your socks be exposed to cigarette smoke or animals as you knit them?
As I mentioned above, I do have two cats. The cats are always involved with the knitting--as observers, mostly. But I always handwash 1-2x before I send any gift knitting.

10) Are you willing to have an international Hogwarts Sock Pal?
I think that would be fun.

There you have it, folks. I'm looking forward to HSSII--I hope you are, too.

P.S. We just returned from seeing HP:OOTP and really liked it! Unfortunately so much of the book had to be cut out, but I thought they did a really nice job with what they could squeeze into the time. Was anyone else just shocked when they showed the flashback to young COS Harry vs. current-day Harry? Wow, he sure has grown. :)

posted by Stephanie at 11:29 PM

Thursday, July 12, 2007
Three Reasons Why Swaps Are Totally Worth It

I am so ridiculously and thoughtlessly behind in posting these. I just have not had my act together outside of the work environment (there I am kicking some serious butt), and I didn't get these photographed until just a couple of days ago. I am so pathetic.

The worst part of all, of course, is that my swap pals were so sweetly generous (and, yes, I did thank them via email), and I haven't put their packages up to show you how kind they were!

1) From the International Notions Bag Exchange, organized by the sweet Patty (Midwest Knit Girl). My delightful pal, Sabrina (My Knitting Basket), sent me the following:

Notion swap

Uh, yeah, the picture would have worked if a certain fat cat hadn't gotten in the middle of things!

Here's a better one:

Notion swap4

A much better picture, with the exception of Miss Minipaws covering up the adorable String Thing Geisha! You can see her in the previous picture. Sabrina made me a recycled notions bag out of denim and hemp (clever!), included incense (the little orange/yellow envelope), a braided bracelet, the String Thing (who is now attached to my knitting bag--I love her!), and a magnet from Toronto. Part of the swap is/was to include a magnet from where you live. Sabrina couldn't find a magnet for her actual town, but Toronto is just next door.

The other part of the package from her (yep, there's more), was this great crocheted market bag.

Crocheted market bag

Here it is stuffed with a handful of grocery bags. I am trying to phase out the plastic bags, instead getting the reusable cloth kind from all the stores in California now making them available. So this turned out to be a perfect gift. I don't even remember saying on my blog that I was doing this as a baby step toward greener living, but I did see a couple of these bags on Sabrina's blog when I found out she was my pal (not an anonymous swap), and lo, I got one in my package. You have no idea how thrilled I was, or how much you can stuff in this little bag.

Thanks so much for the notions pack, Sabrina!

2) Also from Sabrina. Yep, we were also pals in her yarn 'n stuff exchange.

Yarn swap_Inari

That darn cat is at it again, inspecting the goods. Sabrina sent me Werther's caramels (uh, they're open), the BEST smokehouse jalapeno almonds (mmmmmmm), a cute little basket that I'm going to put on my coffeetable (when I get one) to hold snall notions and things, a skein of Paton's Cha Cha, about 100 yds of citrusy merino yarn that she dyed herself (the colors are so fresh and summery!), some tags for attaching to handknit gifts, and a great little yarn scrapbook and little handmade envelopes for scraps that she hand-decorated for me! Whew! What a package! :)

3) My Hogwart's Sock Swap package. My pal Queue did Hogwart's proud!

Hogwarts swap

Wow!! I saw this package on the blog and coveted it, but never in a million years did I think it would be winging its way to me. Queue made me some absolutely wonderful Gryffindor stripey socks (see picture below), with a great wrapper (soooo cute!), and she included yummmmmmy teas, delicious dark chocolate (I'm pacing myself; just a couple of little squares each night; sooo good), some bee-yoo-ti-ful stitch markers, size US2 Brittany birch, 5" dpns, and a gorgeous skein of sock yarn called, appropriately, 'Fawkes'.

Inari claims Hogwarts goodies2

This photo shows the needles, and a better picture of the Fawkes yarn, as well as a pink/brown (yay!) crocheted potholder and the yarns from Sabrina that were part of package #2 before they were commandeered by HRH Inari.

Gryffindor socks

When I took the socks out of the wrapper The Boy said that there was no way they were handknit because they were 'just too perfect.' I'm not sure what this means about his estimation of my skills, but I have to agree. These socks are flawless! And I lurrrve the opposite toes/heels.

Queue, thank you SO much for a truly magical package. You can bet I'll be wearing my Gryffindor socks when we go to the movie on Saturday (The Boy works tomorrow night).

I have lots more photos of other things to post, but for now, I think this is plenty!

posted by Stephanie at 3:35 PM

Friday, July 06, 2007
Hey, Guess What I Almost Forgot!

Um, yeah, Freaky Fridays. Yay. The crowd roars.

So today's story is of the first time I sprained my right ankle (for the record, I'm up to *3* times now).

So I was sitting at my very expensive and fashionable [coughcough] KMART (grandma always called it 'CameApart'--heh) kitchen table in the very way that we are told not to, with my right leg tucked underneath me. (Based solely on the fact that I built these chairs myself almost 10 years ago, this was a bad idea.) So I was sitting on my rickety chair and talking to The Boy. He was telling me I needed to get up and do something I didn't want to do (I don't even recall what). He took my hand to help me up and I rocked a little in the chair. I was laughing and rocking, and then, suddenly I wasn't.

Suddenly I wasn't laughing because my chair had collapsed underneath me (soooo bad for the ego, really). One of the legs had completely disconnected itself from the rest of the chair (these are those cheapie chairs consisting of pre-fab shapes and held together with dowels). I had hit the ground with a resounding thump in a sitting position, with my right leg sandwiched between me and the surprisingly solid seat of the chair. I was so startled. I looked up at The Boy and he was staring at me in shock.

I just remember laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation! The Boy quickly reached out and grabbed my arm to pull me up. He kept asking me if I was okay. I just kept laughing (hmmm, maybe I was in a little shock, too?). The Boy, being medically inclined and all, quickly got me to the couch with my foot elevated. He made me put frozen veggies on my ankle, despite my protests that it was probably fine. I was more upset about breaking one of the 4 lousy chairs that we had, and the terrible feeling that it was more me and less the rocking and the cheapness that caused the situation.

Later that night I noticed the big bruise and the swelling that were forming underneath the frozen peas (or was it spinach?). I felt so dumb for how it happened that I tried to avoid explaining the situation unless pressed--mostly I went for the 'bar brawl' or 'gang fight' explanation because it usually deterred most casual questioners. It wasn't until I sprained it AGAIN less than a month later that things got really bad.

Guess what story you get next Friday? ;)

Ooh, a cliffhanger!

posted by Stephanie at 3:49 PM

Thursday, July 05, 2007
Out of the Mouths of....Really Sarcastic Columnists

"So there you have it. Bush shrugs and smirks and then commutes the easy soft-focus sit-on-your-ass-all-day-and-knit white-collar prison sentence of a hollow political lackey who, in turn, took a bullet for his sneering mafia thug of a boss, Dick Cheney, who in turn was complicit (along with lead flying monkey Karl Rove) in the appallingly illegal outing of a CIA operative, which itself was a tiny but particularly nasty link in the giant chain of lies and deceptions undertaken to lead our wary and tattered nation into an unwinnable impossibly costly brutally violent war that will now last, if current estimates are correct, until the goddamn sun explodes."

--Mark Morford,

posted by Stephanie at 1:28 PM