Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Universe Needs A Different Hobby

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took leave of reality and purchased four fleeces in the hopes of turning them into a felted rug for my upstairs hallway.  Both of you who read that post are aware of the fact that I'm up to my ears in fleece in various stages of cleanliness.

I don't know know if I mentioned this before, but I tend to be lazy.  My whole approach to housecleaning is based on entropy, that the laundry doesn't have to be done right this second because, chances are, it's not going to suddenly sprout legs and make a break for it, leaving me with something entirely inappropriate to wear to yoga.  Past experience with this phenomenon has given enough validation to my theory that I'm willing to risk leaving the laundry in a pile next to the washing machine  or the dirty dishes in the sink on a regular basis.  They have always, ALWAYS, without fail, been there when I was ready to deal with them, and I'm pretty sure there's a different force in effect to account for all the missing socks.  I'm not procrastinating. I'm prioritizing; there's other stuff that has to get done first.

So a smallish mountain of fleece, limited time, and internet access led me  to find articles about the Fermented Suint Method of cleaning fleeces.  It's too easy to be believed.  Basically, you get a big tub of rain water, a really greasy fleece, and you put the fleece into the tub of water for a while.  You keep the icky water that the greasy fleece soaked in, because, believe it or not, that's the first thing you're going to soak the next fleece in to get most of the ick out of it.  I couldn't believe it, I thought the whole thing to be a cruel joke, because really, why would you put the thing you want to clean into really dirty, stinky water?  And then I saw that Judith MacKenzie wrote about it.  If it's good enough for Judith Mackenzie, Wool Goddess of the highest order in this house, then I should give it a shot.

Irony #1 of all this is that the fleeces I have are Finns.  They are not greasy.  Not at all, really.  So this meant that I had to go and buy yet another fleece that's greasier than Finn so I can clean the ones I have.  So I did that, and now I have five fleeces to deal with.  Five is more than four, so by trying to make my work easier, I gave myself more work. I'm really hoping it will all even out in the end somehow.

Irony #2 is that the rain started on my way to the festival (after it was too late for me to put a tub under my downspout), the whole time I was there, & stopped when I was about twenty minutes away from home on the way back.  Everything I read said to use rain water, and I didn't have any.  So I used my well water & crossed my fingers.

Irony #3 reared it's ugly head by raining for the first two days my tub of well water and dirty fleece sat on the patio.  I didn't bother to put another tub under the downspout because I already started this nonsense with well water.  So now I'm at the point of no return, unless I buy yet another fleece (that would be #6) and wait for it to rain hard enough to fill a big tub with rainwater.

Number 4 showed up about an hour ago, when I decided to outside to check on the tub & see what was going on with fleece #5 and my well water.  I didn't go out and check because it started to rain.  At this point, I'm pretty sure that the fleece washing deities are trying to tell me that the well water isn't going to work, and there still isn't a tub under the downspout to collect rainwater.

I'm also pretty sure that the Universe is just bored and decided to mess with me for sport.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ten Things

Today I realized some things.  Ten things, in fact.  Here they are:

1. My three-season porch looks like a group of Rastafarians stopped by on their way to the Buddhist monastery the next town over and asked me to cut their hair before they got there.  But that's not what really happened.

2. I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I bought four--that's FOUR-- fleeces, at once, with the ludicrous idea that I would wash them in my tiny kitchen sink, dry them on the porch, and then card them with my little drum carder to make a rug for my upstairs hallway.  In my "spare time".  If that doesn't count as a break from reality, then I really don't know what does.

As you can see, my kitchen sink is ridiculously small.  I think the people who put it in didn't cook.  And it is just not up to the task of getting fleece washed in anything resembling "efficiently".

3. My psychiatrist is woefully underpaid.  (Refer to #1 & 2 above.)

4. I console myself with the fact that I can't afford to pay her what she deserves by knowing that having me as one of her patients affords her no small amount of job security.  Newly single Mom with a severe fiber addiction and two teenage boys living at home?  Yup, I'll be keeping that weekly appointment for YEARS.

5.  It took me two days to wash two of the fleeces and get one drum carded batt.

6.  This is not going as quickly as I had hoped.

7.  All of this means that I am now finding random bits of fluff all over the house.  This one is on my dresser, which is upstairs and at the opposite end of the house from the porch.  I don't know how it got there.

8. Maybe there's still a market for ZZ Top novelty beards in case I don't get the rug made.

9.  Maybe it wasn't a good plan to use the one batt I made as a ZZ Top novelty beard.

10.  The cat doesn't care about any of this.  Lucky bastard.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Amoeba and I

I recently found out that a lovely couple from my yoga class are expecting their first baby.  This made me very happy for a few reasons.  One is that these people are very, very nice and I think they will make fantastic parents, even though I don't really know them all that well.  And loving couples having a wanted baby is always the happiest of news, at least in my book.

The other reason is that now I have a little person to knit for.  I'm at that awkward age between being young enough to have kids of my own but too young to have grandchildren.  Most of my friends are about my age, so they aren't having any more babies who I can knit for, either.  I don't have a big extended family, and I don't have any siblings.  There are no cousins or other family members having babies; the family well is dry in that regard.  So I have to find babies to knit for, and when I do I get really excited about it.  It's like I've been given a really nice gift and I get to share it.

Cute little things in bright colors and tiny sizes.  Just the thought of it makes me want to start making pompoms to attach to the tops of little hats.  Bootees and sweaters and hats, Oh My!  A person could OD on exposure to this level of cuteness.  Well-not really of course.  It's baby stuff.  There's never enough of that kind of cute and all the sweetness and love it represents.  Never enough of that.

So this little person is getting a BSJ* striped in maroon Zara & a multicolor stripe whose ball band is long gone.  The colors are not very baby-ish, but the parents are Asian and these colors will look great with the baby's complexion.  The little person is a boy and I wanted the jacket to look like a boy's jacket.  Something that will look cute with tiny little jeans and other boy stuff.

Well, I got the thing almost done--almost done I say--down to the last dozen rows or so, and noticed a mistake waaaay back.  Back far enough that I had to rip 2/3 of the darn thing out because there was no way I could fix the mistake any other way.  Apparently I had lost track of which stitch was the center stitch for the double increases.  Instead of having a nice straight line of increases, it was wavy and looked terrible.  That was not a good day to be around me, I'm telling you. (Note to self: make appointment for a check-up with the eye doctor.) Out it came, mistakes fixed, and now it's back on track.  I hope.  At lease the lines look straighter now, and the amoeba I'm knitting is definitely more angular than it was.

I love the look on people's faces when they ask what I'm making and I have a BSJ on the needles.  Just love it.  When you tell them that the blob you're producing is a jacket they just don't believe you, not even after you explain it.  They think that you're just messing with them, or that you're a really bad knitter who is unable to come to terms with the fact that you have messed up your project beyond all hope of rescue, or that you're just a crazy lady who has too many cats at home and knits blobs because it's all you know how to make and you're not violent so your family lets you keep the pointy sticks.

Because, really, shouldn't the name of this sweater be the "Surprise! It's Really Not an Amoeba Jacket"?  Or "See? I'm Not Crazy and It Is a Jacket".  But I guess that only really works if the recipients see the work in progress because you don't give it to them in its ambiguous, amorphous, amoeba-like state.

On the other hand, wrapping up an unfinished BSJ & giving it to the lucky recipient could be pretty funny.  Imagine the puzzled look when the expectant Mom opens the box & holds up something that is utterly unlike a jacket for all at the baby shower to see as you call out, "Don't you just love it?  It's the cutest thing EVER!"  Then they'll really think you're the crazy lady with too many cats who can only knit blobs.  But you won't care because you'll be laughing too hard to notice.

*Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you know what BSJ stands for.  For those of you who don't, (that would be the other person reading this blog) it stands for Baby Surprise Jacket, one of many patterns made famous by the great Elizabeth Zimmerman.  The pattern is available here:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MacGyver Would be Proud...If He Knit

Not too long ago, I made a hat.  This one, the Lillehammer hat from YarnZombie.  I used essentially the same colors, but reversed the light and dark and used red instead of the chartreuse-y green.  My version looked like this:

I used three colors of Cascade Superwash DK.  I don't have the color numbers, but it's black, a light gray and red.  My version also started with a provisional cast-on and a 3" hem that is turned to the inside to add another layer of wooly warmth over the ears.  I took out the provisional cast on and did a K2TOG to attach the hem to the hat so I wouldn't have to sew it down later.  (You'll be able to see more of that in a minute.)

So, being the polite gentleman that the recipient is, he put it on and declared it "Perfect!"  And then the cold weather, the dreaded "Arctic Vortex" hit this part of the country.  Now, I love the cold.  My definition of truly cold weather is going outside and taking a deep inhale through the nose only to have your nostrils freeze together.  That's when I start thinking about a hat and zipping up my coat.  It was that cold.  

But the hat did not make an appearance.  I was a bit crushed curious about this, so I asked.  He told me it was just a little too short and didn't quite cover all of his ears, and he didn't like to have cold ears.  

Back to the drawing board.  I didn't want to re-knit the whole thing.  I'm a bit lazy, and I'm trying to cross stuff off of my to-do list, not add finished things back on to it.  So, I channeled MacGyver.

Now, this is where I could give you the long, drawn out version of the story about how a knitting friend and I joke around about being the "MacGyver of Knitting".  By that, we mean finding creative ways to get ourselves out of a knitting nightmare we have managed to get ourselves into.  A weird extra triangle on the edge of your huge entrelac shawl, that you noticed just now but is 4 rows back? Fold it into a triangle & stitch it down.  Nobody will ever know.  Changed the gauge of your project and now the neckline is funny?  Run that sucker through a serger.  It will never show from the front.  Like that.  The problem gets solved and nobody gets hurt.  Soooo--

I snipped the black purl row that was the turning ridge for the hem and put the hem and outside hat stitches each on their own circular needles.

Then I attached a ball of the leftover red yarn and made the hem longer.  When it was long enough, I connected the black yarn, did my purl row to turn it, and then knit a longer ribbing in black.  I couldn't find any of the gray, so the two color rib was eliminated.  I knit the rib longer than the pattern said, and then added enough rows to make the outside length of the hat long enough to cover the deeper hem.  One really long row of kitchener stitch in the black yarn later and VOILA!  

A finished hat that was MacGyvered into submission to keep a pair of tender ear lobes roasty toasty in the cold and...

you can't tell the extra work was done on it unless you look really, really close.  And nobody got hurt in the process.  

While it's a nifty trick to pull off, I really don't want to do that much Kitchener stitch ever again.  

Really.  But I think MacGyver would be proud.