Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dogs, Dreams and Babies

I dreamt last night that we had four dogs. When I sat down on the floor to play with them, somehow, they turned into small children. Toddling, talking and articulate children.

I was overwhelmed, the whole time. How do you get four kids on one lap? Simultaneously read four bedtime stories? I was overextended.

Every time that I have too much going on in my life- I have a baby dream. I have had dreams where someone hands me a screaming baby and runs away, dreams where I have a dozen new infants in my care and not enough car seats or food for them.

This is the first time where they haven't been squalling infants, or where it was manageable, but hard.

I know what it all seems to represent: responsibility. People handing me babies and running away is when people dump unwanted responsibility on me, having too many kids in my care represents having too much on my plate. It's all very clear symbolism.

So this? No big. It's going to be hard, but manageable.

But just for safety, I'm not fostering any dogs for the time being.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Strategic Planning

As Cindy pointed out- packing, moving, staging and fixing all take time. However will I finish the shawl in time- even WITH the spreadsheet?

I have come up with a list of strategies:

  • Knit during my breaks at work and during lunch. I managed to hit my quota last Friday doing this.
  • Take a vow of silence- I only managed to knit four rows at knit night last week.
  • Quit sleeping. It seems to be a waste of 8-9 hours a night, since I wake up exhausted.
  • Sub-contract the work. Ursula offered to knit on the shawl to expedite its completion.

More ideas to come.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Excel is for Knitters

I had a dilemma about completing my Pearls of Wisdom shawl in time for the wedding I intend to wear it to- mostly how I could (a) conceptualize it's growth, (b) whether I could actually finish it in time and (c) whether I could finish it in time without wrecking my hands.

I remember reading someone's blog (Grumperina, possibly), where the knitter used Excel to measure (a) total rows, (b) rows completed and (c) rows to be completed. She also had averaged out the total rows over the number of days before the garment needed to be completed, so she had a per diem quota.

Historically, I have been very intimidated by Excel. So, when I found out that I could take Excel classes, I was THRILLED. I was told Excel is hard the same way many young women are told math and the sciences are hard.

[NOTE: Feminist-y rant follows. If you're not interested in the rant, skip down to the next bold section.]

When I realized how incredibly easy Excel can be, I was furious. Every opportunity where Excel was necessary, I was told by a male co-worker that Excel is hard, and he would lighten my load by just doing the spreadsheet for me, saving me * hours * of work.

This made me feel like Excel was a secret language, with all the odd symbols for the formulas and whatnot. I'm a fairly smart person, but I was of the opinion that I just must not be smart enough to do Excel, since it would be so time-consuming to teach me.

After the class, and I realized how simple so many of the tasks are, I was FURIOUS. If I had gotten four hours of this specific Excel training, I could have outdone everyone at my last job. I was just being brushed off because Excel and Math are for boys, and everything else is for girls. It'll shrivel your ovaries, render you barren and possibly result in a "rest cure" for your hysteria, you understand.


Phew. Glad that's over. Anyway, so I had an idea, based on the spreadsheet/graph I remembered seeing, and now I had the skills to make it work. The hardest part was determining the necessary data.

That took a little thinking about how I wanted it to appear, which took a little time.

End result:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Offer Not To Be Refused

Just a quick note- we made on offer on a house (rather unexpectedly), and it was accepted.

The house, the neighborhood and the proximity to my parents' house are all pretty terrific. If all goes well, we will (hopefully) close escrow mid-Julyish.

Good mojo is appreciated. So are offers to help us move. :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Knitting? Here?!

While I have been driving hither, thither and yon, I have been doing a little less knitting than normal. With a tight-ish deadline for the Pearls of Wisdom shawl rapidly speeding towards me, I have become a petulant child who wants to work on anything BUT the shawl I want to wear in 34 days.

34 days means I have to have the shawl done in 32 days. I have started the fourth repeat (of a total 22), and could very well complete, weave in ends and block in time. That is, IF I actually sit down and work on it.

Sunday, all I wanted to do was spin. I spun 5 glorious ounces of Crosspatch Creations Rhiannon's Fire on Sunday before and during the Tony awards. I spun it on the Victoria, since she needed/needs some breaking in and is nearly two months old.

I've got some ideas about how to set a timeline for myself- stay tuned for some nerd-tastic knitting.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Knit in Public Day!

Yes, the Minions made it out for Knit in Public Day. We even had a Mini-Minion join us!

We chose Santana Row for a number of reasons. Santana Row is this chi-chi, expensive, pretentious, pseudo-Italian little shopping center. Knitting there smacks their indulgent, consumerist ways right in their faces.

It was very public, very in your face. Cynthia and Julie secured AWESOME space in the shade, and everyone had their boba/coffee/tea/Ben & Jerry's. (Ok, if not for all of the socio-political reasons I listed earlier, the presence of a Ben & Jerry's always tilts the balance in favor.)

Nobody approached us, and I only noticed odd looks while I was herding the Mini-Minion and juggling Bobas. I think that was because I was afraid that she would randomly dart into traffic or something, and you could totally tell.

[NOTE: She's a terrific kid who would never run into traffic. In fact, I am much more likely to chase a ball into traffic. She and her little sister are the kind of kids that make it seem like a good idea to have a dozen or so.]

Friday, June 8, 2007


It's been a week of driving for me, and yesterday was no different. I had debated going to the Petaluma Yarn Harlot book signing/talk, but every time, I was like, "Petaluma? Ehh…"

After driving to Livermore for wine and spinning and San Francisco for stand-up comedy, Petaluma (at an estimated hour and a half drive) didn't seem so far. Mom and I decided at the last minute that we were going to go.

Alison and I had been e-mailing back and forth about spinning dog hair (Alison was the recipient of Elphie's puppy coat from her first brushing), and she mentioned that she and Nancy were going. She also mentioned that she had conned her non-knitting son into chauffeuring them to Peta-freakin'-luma.

It's enough that he was going to shuttle them for a 3-hour round-trip, but after discussion with some incredibly trustworthy sources, this turned into an 11-hour day. Leave at noon, drive up and have dinner there, and miss the SF traffic. This is a lot to ask of someone who is not only a non-knitter- and when there is nothing for a non-knitter to do around the venue. (I would have felt less sorry if this was in SF, or ANYWHERE more interesting. No offense intended, Petaluma-ians.)

"I have two seats in my car that are open," I offer, "Tell the kid he's off the hook."

They took me up on the offer, and we made plans for the next day. Mom flaked, last minute, but that was ok. We got up to SF in less than 45 minutes, where we took a scenic drive through the Marina district before getting back on the road.

(You know you're having a good time when you've been in the car for two hours and upon arrival a passenger says, "We're here already?" I swear, Alison said that.)

We met Patricia there, who had been dutifully holding the first spot in line since 9:30. (By the way, Patricia is the BOMB. Read her blog, join the fan club. I have.) We decided to leave one person holding a place in line and Patricia and I took Alison to eat. (She can't do sun, so eating in line was a definite no-go.)

They are attractive people, don't let the poor photography fool you.

Anyhow, there was waiting in line, chatting with other knitters (join Leslie's project), and then, there she was. Stephanie was waiting in the wings while the manager hyped us up. (Unnecessary, but appreciated.)

I sat in the second row, behind Alison. You can see me in BOTH of the Harlot's pictures. (Ahem, second row, bright pink sweater.)

[Pictures "borrowed" from Stephanie's blog.]

We got our books signed, and I got yet ANOTHER celebrity sock photo:

See? She's holding my sock, and I'm holding hers.

Also, I told her that I was her "biggest fan" last year. I hadn't seen "Misery" yet, so I didn't realize how scary that could have come across. In an attempt to appear sane, I did not take the "No Parking" sign that I liberated after her Los Altos signing for her to sign.

It lives in my work cube. (Sssh… don't tell her.)

Patricia took us to an Ehh yarn store (so Ehh that I bought NOTHING), and we had a great time. We hit the road at 10, and I was home just before midnight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Patton Oswalt!

Andrew and I drove up to San Francisco to see Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofolo live at the Laugh Factory. If you ever get a chance to see either of them live, do.

It was so good, my stomach muscles and face both hurt after.

But that didn't stop me from getting Patton to pose with my SOCK!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Veni, Vidi, Vino

… or Spinning at the Retzlaff Winery

The Scene: A winery in Livermore
The People: Spinners and a few vendors
The Wine: A Sauvignon Blanc
The Chicken:

Yes, someone brought their chicken.

Erica, Mom and I loaded up Morocco Mole (my Prius, sidekick to Andrew's Secret Squirrel) and drove to the Retzlaff Winery. Now, whenever I plan a Minion event, I add a "time buffer". Whenever there are more people/children, more chitchatting goes on, getting people loaded up and coffee-d takes longer.

I was shocked to find that with three people- no time buffer is really necessary.

At the winery, we saw Morgaine and Lann from Carolina Homespun with their table of temptation. Morgaine had been kind enough to bring my order (and Colleen's), and I limited my purchases to * just * my order- and two small impulse buys.

A SpindleWood Co drop spindle (Flamewood, 25g):

A WPI tool and a mini niddy noddy:

[I love purple heart wood.]

Mom insisted that we look around (there were * maybe * a dozen vendors), and that was when I met Carlos- a gunmetal colored Lincoln/Corriedale fleece.

I have a terrible track record with fleeces. I don't like cleaning them, I don't like carding, and I really don't like combing them. Historically (read: "Before Morgaine told me about fleece processing people."), they would go in the tub and either felt, or get washed, I would card some of it, lose interest, and it would languish, somewhere. I bought a fleece with crimp like an anemone and it languished, somewhat felted. I was heartbroken.

When there wasn't time to wash a fleece, it would languish out of sight in the garage. I told Andrew, "I will never bring home another fleece! If I buy another one, I'll find someone to process it and hand it directly over." He agreed that this was a good idea.

So there was Carlos. I walked past this fleece three times. The last time, I fondled some of it, and stood there, seriously considering it. I told the woman that I wanted to purchase Carlos, and she said, "Cash or check."

Crap. Carlos was a little over $80, and I had * maybe * $60 in my wallet. No checks.

Mom pulls cash out of her wallet and pays the woman. Mom is the person who has been following me around squawking, "No more wool! I want babies!" Carlos is that good.

Fortunately, Shari from Morrow Fleece Works was there. I walked Carlos directly over and handed him over to her care. He should be at the Shanty by the end of July.

After the purchasing was complete, I set up the Victoria, and we wandered over to get some wine. The wine pourer was (no joke) a FIREMAN. Now, if you're a long-time reader, you know how I love the firemen. I especially love firemen who pour wine and agree to pose with my sock:

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Pearls Before A Dumbass

I may have mentioned earlier that I have knitting ADD. In the interests of keeping me interested (if you will), I decided to knit Brenda Patipa's "Pearls of Wisdom" shawl.

[Photos borrowed with permission from Lisa Souza's site. Buy this pattern.]

I bought the pattern at Stitches West '07, and thought it was the coolest thing EVER. I don't like bobbles, yet loved the "nupp"iness of it. I love how the pattern moves, and the variegated yarn is showcased without overwhelming the lace.

Until now, my personal rule has been:

Variegated yarn ≠ lace

This has been a long-held Jasmin rule; why do all that lace work if it won't show? In any case, due to the perfect matchi-ness of the Sea Silk to the fabric (and Hollis's encouragement), I took a leap of faith and the Print O' The Wave shows fine in the lace.

I knew "Pearls of Wisdom" would look lovely variegated- I saw the sample in person. There's no deception when you can fondle the original, folks.

"Pearls of Wisdom" also violated one of my other long-held, hard-and-fast rules:

Bobbles/nupps= nipples

The nupps are EVERYWHERE and bear not even the slightest resemblance to nipples. Eight per right side row, in fact. Now, compared to the total stitch count (a little over a hundred stitches, give or take), eight stitches is less than 10% of the total right side row stitches. Totally do-able, right?

(Brenda Patipa is a genius, and I am a slightly dim knitter. Any commentary on the misery of the pattern is my personal brain-dead ness/ lack of mad skillz, yo.)

Sure. Except that on the first row my nupps are MIA. I used my normal tension on them and had a MISERABLE time pulling the extra stitches over. Elphie felt my pain and laid down on the couch next to me. She's my "comforter" spaniel (mix).

In the subsequent rows, I have been knitting all the "extra" stitches much looser and the last stitch much tighter, and that seems to help with the nupp definition. But these nupps are taking me… a while.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Folly, Thy Name is Shawl

Remember how I said, cockily, that I was blasting through the Print O' The Wave? Remember how I said that I was trying to be careful not to jinx my mojo with claims of ease and speed?

My knitting karma caught up with me. Like a freakin' bullet train. I started the edging.

So, just for your mathematic edification, it's two rows of lace for every edge stitch picked up, except for the corners, where it is 4 rows of lace for every edge stitch.

So, she has you pick up 240 stitches along each long edge, and 80 stitches on each short edge. That ends up being 640 stitches. Now, double that (1280) and divide it by 16. You end up with 80 repeats of the edging lace. Granted, it's only 17-21 stitches per row, but still. Eighty.

It took me (pretty much) forever to hit the "halfway" point on the first long edge, and turning that first corner was rewarding, but not in the almost-at-the-finish-line kind of way that I had hoped. Now, it is rewarding watching the shawl go from octopus-looking thing (bunched up and sack-like) to the superhero cape/ keffiyeh, but the rewards aren't as instantaneous as I thought they would be.

The worst part of it is that this is for the August wedding. Not the July wedding. I have barely cast on the July wedding shawl.

And it has "nupps". I'm hosed.