Friday, February 29, 2008

Revenge of the sleeves

Wednesday night, I finished knitting the sleeves on my Ribby Cardi. I immediately sat down, attached them, and knit the front bands. Due to the weeding I did, I didn’t have time to finish the collar.

Good thing.

I was wearing my semi-finished Ribby around the house (yes, with the ends hanging out), and I looked in the mirror. The front of one sleeve seam and the back of one sleeve seam looked HORRIBLE. Like I hadn’t sewn it in properly. It was all askew.

Part of me really wants to pretend it’s not there. Just knit the collar, finish the sweater, and wear it proudly. The realist in me knows that’s not going to happen; I won’t wear a sweater that I’m not proud of- and that includes being proud of the finishing.

The next step is to mark where the sleeves went askew, undo the seams, and redo them. That’s half an evening’s worth of work. So, I’ll suck it up and do it, because the sweater is beautiful and I want to be proud of wearing it.

On the plus side of all of this, I’ve found that you don’t actually have to watch the television to enjoy “Bones”. This has potential.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

“…and rain will make the flowers grow.”

Flowers and weeds, it turns out. I have a tragically brown thumb, so I stick to what I’m good at- demo work. I may be terrible at keeping plants alive, but I am stellar at weeding. No joke.

Our Awesome Neighbors moved to Hawaii last week and their house went up on the market on Monday. I saw that the sign listed open houses this weekend, so I thought (since it has stopped raining, at least briefly) it would be a good time to deal with the weeds in the front yard. This was a 15-minute task in my poor, delusional mind.

The soil out front is nice and soft (and still a little damp). I was pulling out good-sized weeds with ease. For every weed I pulled, I saw four more that needed pulling. No problem; for the AN’s open house, I wanted the front of our house to look as nice as possible. When the space between our houses was weeded, I walked to the “rose” section of our yard.

Four. Foot. Dandelions. No joke.

Did you ever see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze? It was EXACTLY like those dandelions. They must have weighed close to twenty pounds, and needed the leverage of my full body weight to get the roots moving.

We filled our green waste bin in 45 minutes. That would be 45 minutes of triumphant “Boo-yah”-ing and “Ha!”-ing as Andrew and I relieved our garden of the unnaturally large weeds.

Maybe I should spend more time out there; who knows, maybe whatever made the Uber-Dandelions will make me a superhero.

SuperJasmin has quite the ring to it, don’t you think?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Almost a Cardi-carrying member

I’m torn.

The whole “knitting carrot” is failing in the face of more interesting knitting, but I’m trudging towards the Ribby Cardi finish line. Another hour of knitting, and both sleeves will be finished. If we watch a movie tonight, I think the collar and bands will also find themselves complete.

Despite what my Ravelry queue says, the next two projects on my list are “Muir” and “Large Rectangle with Center Diamond Pattern” (from Victorian Lace Today). I picked up some lace yarn at the show, and want to (a) write reviews of the yarns, and (b) knit these shawls.

It’s not the Cardi part of the Ribby Cardi; it’s the sleeves.

I thought I was being super-smart, and I was. In theory.

First, I got out my handy-dandy graph paper and charted out the sleeve cap so that my sleeve was certain to come out in pattern. (Yes, I know it’s ribbing. Yes, I know I have OCD about this stuff.) This is a necessity for me, since my sleeve caps don't need shortening, but the sleeves always do, and I don't like the guesswork of "shorten or lengthen here" before a shaped sleeve cap. Cap first, then work out the rest, I say.

Next, I cast on both sleeves at the same time. I knit the sleeve caps flat (from the top down) to where they hit the underarm. Then, I put them in the round. So now, we have two sleeves on two circs, top-down. This all adds up to a tangly mess if you’re not paying attention. Doubly so if (say) one of your balls decides to throw up everywhere. This project stays home, safely in a place where it won’t get jostled around.

So far, the sleeves have taken me a couple of evenings of knitting, and it looks like I’ll be able to finish the knitting tonight. This is real growth for me, since 90% of my sweaters get held up at the sleeves. It seems I have an aversion to knitting sleeves, but a need to wear them. I am a complicated woman.

Andrew is totally jazzed about Jasmin 2008- especially the finishing things list. As I was trying on my sleeves, he pointed out that I could blast through the Sweater Formerly Known As Zak’s (SFKAZ) in a week and have it completed, too. That would be two sweaters done in a month, he pointed out emphatically.

While that’s true, and Jasmin 2008 likes to finish things, she also wants to knit what she wants to knit. Especially after Stitches. Jasmin 2008 laid out all of her purchases on the dining room table, to inspire her. While I didn’t overbuy, and I certainly limited my purchases to only things that I LOVED, there is a lot of inspiration laying out there. Being beautiful. Tempting me to stray from finishing back to starting.

I think what is most tempting is that I’m not enjoying the sleeve process, which is as tedious as it is smart. I’ll admit that this will leave me the least amount of finishing, which I may dislike even more than knitting sleeves. So, again, smart. But tedious.

The SFKAZ isn’t half as tedious, because when I cast the sleeves on simultaneously (over eight years ago), I didn’t bother to do so in the round. Though I’m not looking forward to attaching sleeves to shoulders and doing the two long, cuff-to-armpit-to-sweater-bottom seams, this sweater has the potential of being an awesome kicking-around sweater. Lucky for me, the formerly intended recipient of this sweater wasn’t much bigger than I am now, and sleeves that aren’t finished are easily shortened.

Hopefully tomorrow you'll be reading about my latest lace shawl.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review Template and Intent

Jerry asked:

“Thank you for being honest about what you write. Will you also give negative reviews in a positive light. Like, "I would like this better if it had more twist and less splitty??" I just omit the review and let the blog reader draw their own conclusions. I may disclose my purchases but only review what I like.”

That’s a really good question, Jerry. While I try to be a tactful person (generally), and my diplomatic skills were praised by an ex-boss recently, if something doesn’t live up to my standards, I’ll say so. I think it's important to be polite, but I find positively-skewed reviews to be, frankly, skewed. The existence of the skew messes with the "balance" of my fair-and-balanced reviews.

Now, I won’t say anything unnecessarily unpleasant or rude. I’m working out my format for the reviews. So far, the template looks like this:

Product: [NAME]

Product Description: [DESC. OF MATERIALS]

Bought from: [STORE/WEBSITE]

Price/Gift: [$X]

Comments: [BLA BLA]

I’m also going to be sending links of my reviews to the people who I’ve bought the product from and/or the company.

Anything else I should add?

Trust and blogging

I love to read knitting blogs, but in the last year I’ve had some trust issues. I feel like some of the more popular bloggers may not be giving “fair and balanced” reviews and promotion of products.

Sometimes it’s not disclosed whether they have paid for what they’re using or reviewing, and in some cases, the reviews of products that they’re given are biased towards the positive BECAUSE they were not paid for.

I have been given some things, and I have paid for some things. From here forward, I will be doing fair and balanced reviews and disclosing what was paid for and what was a gift. I’ve done reviews before, which are all fair and balanced, but the disclosures will be made crystal clear.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jasmin 2008 meets Stitches West

I shopped with some relatively incredible resolve this year. I bought some handpainted roving and yarn, some gorgeous glass needles, and a little yarn from Webs.

What?! No pictures?

That’s right.

This year, I’m not posting pictures of the haul until after I’ve formed an opinion on the quality of my purchases. I don’t want to promote anything that may not be top-quality. I’ll be giving fair and balanced reviews of my purchases, good or bad. Those will be tagged with "Stitches 2008 loot"


I’m qvelling over my purchases. They’re on my dining room table, busy being beautiful.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's a Ribby Process

For a month or so, I’ve been in a knitting lull. I haven’t been knitting as much as I normally do, and I’ve been a little unenthusiastic about it as well. Everything I really wanted to work on was on hold because of something small.

Jasmin 2008 reappeared yesterday. She must have been on vacation this last week, but she’s back. I figured out how to knit the sleeves on my Ribby Cardi top-down, and I am nearly finished with BOTH sleeve caps.

This is simple, but the task makes me feel incredibly smart, and my sleeves always end up the right length. Having short arms means less knitting, but more thinking. It’s a trade-off.

I like to knit my sleeves at the same time, partly because in the event of Project Abandonment, both sleeves will (optimistically speaking) get finished the same way. I also like to knit my sleeves in the round to minimize the finishing.

The zipper has been bought, and once the sleeves are done and attached, Mom will be able to attach it and BAM! The sweater is done. I think that’s enough motivation to actually finish it.

I’m pretty excited about finishing a sweater- I don’t think I’ve finished a sweater in the last year. Half a dozen lace shawls, yes. Sweaters? No. I’ve also given away all but one of the sweaters that I’ve knit for myself.

Its funny how we evolve as knitters; ten years ago I was knitting six pairs of socks a month. Five years ago, I was knitting two pairs of socks a week and finishing a dozen large projects a year. Now, I’m spending more time spinning than knitting.

Sweaters don’t really take that much time; most of the sweaters I knit are out of worsted weight yarn. Even a sock can seem interminable- or maybe that’s just in my case, when I’m knitting Andrew’s giant socks.

Speaking of which, I finished off Pair #4 of the Black Sock Project on Friday night:

Black Sock- pair 4

Once I finish Pair #5 of the Black Sock Project:

Black Sock- pair 5

Andrew has requested that I begin the “Tan Sock Project”. My love for this man may be without limit.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Orange you glad?

We have oranges. Lots of firm, round, oranges. You know you want some.

Instead of doing something organized and structured, let’s do this:

Call (or e-mail me) and I’ll give you our address. I’ll scoop the dog poop, you’ll pick oranges and take them home to your loving families. This is a Bring Your Own Bags arrangement (we’re running low, sorry).

You can find me at cuteknitterAThotmailDOTcom.

Bring on the fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Maria Bamford and my sock!

Last night we went to the Punch Line in San Francisco to see Maria Bamford. The three opening folks were surprisingly good, and Maria was absolutely hysterical.

She was also a good sport and posed with me and my SOCK! (Three times, due to technical difficulties. Triple "good sport points".)

Maria Bamford and sock

Evidently, she too is a knitter. She admitted that she has been working on a scarf for four years, to which I replied, "It's a process."

If you get a chance to see her live, do. If not, she's been on the Comedians of Comedy tour, has a couple of Comedy Central specials, and has a couple of CDs out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome, stalkers!

If you’re the stalking type (or just enjoy stand-up comedy), Maria Bamford is performing at the Punch Line (in San Francisco) tonight, Wednesday, February 13th. You can get tickets here.

I’ll be there (with my camera and sock), and hopefully I’ll get a picture with her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

These shoes are made for… something

I love shoes. More specifically, I love off-the-wall shoes, and fetish shoes. The off-the-wall shoes fill the anti-authoritarian side of me- why else would a person own poison green sneakers?

(Side note: We were watching something on TV and the character asked, “Do you wear these hiking boots for hiking?” I turned to Andrew and said, “I have lots of sneakers that I wear for sneaking.”)

These are my newest pair of shoes, due to arrive any day now:

hot shoes

[Photo courtesy of]

The crazy fetish shoes have more meaning to me. I sustained a serious knee injury in 1999, and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to wear heels, or walk stairs without serious pain. As a minor, my options were to not wear heels, not walk stairs, and the doctor suggested knee surgery- which might (or might not) have left me unable to walk. I chose to go without the surgery, obviously.

That was the case until 2004, when I began physical therapy (which I pursued after being told by a different doctor that I might not be permanently injured).

I went from having pain after walking one flight of stairs to being pain-free, and able to scale four flights of stairs several times a day in eleven weeks. I worked the injured knee to the point where it was actually stronger than my other knee for a few months.

This meant I could begin wearing heels again. I bought a few pairs of incredibly fun heels (which I wear occasionally), which aren’t the most comfortable shoes, but man, do they get things done.

There is the contingent of people who believe that high-heeled shoes are the modern, Western version of foot binding, intended to keep women hobbling along and subservient. I disagree.

While high fashion may tell us that we should wear high-heeled shoes all the time, I’ve found that wearing high-heeled shoes once in a while is much more effective. It’s the same as wearing slacks most of the time, and a skirt occasionally. I can be seen as feminine without being all Stepford-y all the time.

The social dynamics involved are stunning- I can be carrying the same armload of stuff in slacks, and doors aren’t held for me. In a skirt and heels, I find that I’m not opening doors for myself. This was the case at my previous job, too.

Opening doors has gone from being a courtesy to a political act. When Sam was younger, I remember women cooing over how cute it was that chivalry came in the form of a six-year-old boy. Women were shocked that grown men wouldn’t open doors, but this little boy would. (Go Mom!)

When I was in college, I witnessed the following:

Woman: [Approaches the door]

Man: [Opens door, gestures that she should go first]

Woman: I don’t need you to open doors for me! I am PERFECTLY CAPABLE of doing it myself.

Man: [Stands, slack jawed] I’m sorry.

Now, while I’m happy to wave my feminist flag, what the hell?! I would have yelled right back at her if I had been in the guy’s shoes. When did good manners become oppressive? Since when did performing an act of common courtesy require an APOLOGY? California has become downright upside-down. Topsy-turvy. Higgledy-piggledy.

So, you could say that by wearing crazy fetish-shoes (or heels in general), I’m subverting the dominant paradigm. Bringing back chivalry.

And wearing some wicked fierce pumps.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stitches West: T-minus 10 days

Last year, Katie bought the “Trish’s Mini Basque Corselette” kit from White Lies Designs, and challenged me to a race. She bet me that she could finish hers faster than I would finish mine. Andrew, supporting spouse that he is, was all for this competition. He, in fact, was my cheering section. He may even talked smack to my opponent.

I accepted her challenge. We both knit feverishly… for two weeks. Maybe three.

Then we hit the wall. All our pieces were knit, some of them were assembled, but we couldn’t move forward. We were effectively Sock Blocked. At (roughly) the same point in the knitting. It went in the bag, and then, out of sight.

Honestly, what held me up was all of the sewing. To clarify, it wasn’t the seaming of the piece; it’s all the blasted sewing machine sewing. I am totally annoyed by this. For a steek, it’s worth pulling out the sewing machine, but to make a hand-knitted piece more like a piece of commercial underwear? Um, no.

That’s my biggest complaint with her book of knitted lingerie. It’s more sewing than knitting, really. At that point, why not buy commercial lingerie knits and just sew fitting lingerie? Sigh.

I think this all comes back to my philosophy that not all things need to be knitted. Gifts can be bought, and quality lingerie is not knit on size 6 needles.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Knitter’s Block

(Not to be confused with Knitter’s Blocks, which are awesome.)

When I can’t knit, don’t want to spin, and am not in the mood to buy yarn or roving, I know something is wrong. The whole thing starts with a general restlessness, and grows into a frustrating condition which I can only describe as Knitter’s Block (not to be confused with the more specific Sock Block).

Knitter’s block is to knitting as writer’s block is to writing. Having suffered from both, it’s the same type of self-loathing, hair-tearing, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs frustration. I get Knitter’s Block a couple of times a year, which always prompts some introspection. I ask myself why I knit, what is it that I like so much, etc, and then contemplate giving away my whole stash of knitting stuff and taking up something less frustrating. Like yoga. Or learning to speak Klingon.

I’ve noticed that my bouts of Knitter’s Block tend to follow project frustration (also known as Sock Block), illness, or extreme stress. Usually when I need inspiration or comfort most, that’s when it strikes.

I won’t lie: Ravelry is a terrific way of keeping track of all of the awesome stuff I trip over on the internet. Push the “add to Ravelry queue” is SO much easier than my archaic method of bookmarking and hoping I would remember why and what and whom it was for. You’ll see a lot of lace in my queue; I’m sure at some point, I’ll be obsessed with something new and different, and the Ravelry queue will reflect that.

I’m sure I’m just restating what everyone else has said about Ravelry, but it’s true. If I’m having a bad day and I need something good, it’s right there.

It’s knitting window shopping, if you think about it.

Jasmin 2008 likes Ravelry because it’s a database of opportunities to use up the existing stash. It’s truly glorious how useful it is when you’re on a “less is more” kick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Too dumb to be true

Today was one of those off days. You know, the kind where you don’t really want to get out of bed and go to work (because you have three fleeces in your living room), but you realize that you have meetings. Meetings can’t be missed, especially when your work is cool enough to let you do your already awesome job from home when need be.

So, I came in to work, dealt with the morning stuff, had a quick meeting, did more work, and then, bam!


I grab my knitting, because when you’re knitting a giant men’s sock (size US 12) in black fingering weight yarn on size 0’s, all those rows add up.

I get two rounds in before everyone sits down for lunch, and I tuck the mini ho-bag behind me so it doesn’t get food on it. I realize, ten minutes after I had gotten up, that my knitting wasn’t with me.


Now, I am completely aware that people don’t [normally] steal knitting. But I feel this sense of panic. Not big “my-house-is-ablaze” panic, but “oh-shit-am-I-stupid” panic. There was also some “I-can’t-lose-a-sock-I’m-almost-done-with” panic. It was a veritable tartan of panics, if you will.

I approach engineers sitting at (what I thought) was our table and inquire about my Christmas bag full of knitting, to which I get puzzled looks. I thank them, and keep hunting. I turn around to look around, and someone had thoughtfully placed it visibly on a counter.

A sigh of relief. I tuck a corner in my pocket, and went on to play foosball.

The company I work for was once well-known for its’ foosball tables. I’ve never played foosball, ever. I played with people who were good sports, and weren’t so consumed with winning so as to make the whole thing a nightmare. We played five games, and I scored goals in most of them, I think. I felt really good about it.

I was worried that it would turn into a Competition. At a former job, the group I worked in did a departmental bowling thing, and the Former Boss was one of those fiercely competitive people.

Bowling is not my thing, and though I’ve done it before, when you have small hands, it’s just awkward. Couple that with no real bowling skill, and you have me, a crappy bowler. I don’t always have to win, so I prefer to goof off than suck and sulk about it.

I was the lead weight of our team. Cement boots, even. The sad thing was, that I felt like Former Boss was getting more and more frustrated with my lack of bowling skills. Ignore the fact that I was great at that job, my terrible bowling lowered me in his estimation. I felt worthless. How pathetic that a game was so important (a competition we couldn’t have won due to politics, regardless of our skills or score) as to make me so miserable.

Today was the opposite. I got to play, score a few goals, and make defeated “arrr!” noises.

Nineteen pounds of fun

That’s how much roving arrived at the house yesterday. We bought five fleeces at the Monterey Wool Auction. Colleen and Cynthia got the 2nd place fleece last month- a white fleece from a beautiful Corriedale ewe.

Today, we got the two Merinos and one of the two Romney fleeces. As always, they arrived in Sheri’s beautiful, OCD-inducing coils (“Keep them pretty!”).

I bet you want to see them. Knitters are all voyeurs; so you’ll have to wait until I can figure out how to photograph 19 pounds to show it’s true glory.

Grey and navy blue are my colors this year. When we went to the wool auction, I was strictly looking for “natural” colored fleeces. “Natural” meaning anything non-white, since white fleeces are a trait that sheep are bred for. Some of the coolest looking fleeces are the colors that appear naturally. There were three variegated fleeces at the auction, and I bid on all of them.

If it wasn’t for the evil woman behind me (who was bidding on everything I was bidding on, after seeing me bid), I would have won all three. Oh well. Next year I’ll take Rachel to be my muscle (to menace the aforementioned evil

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I love this scarf


I love this scarf.

It’s Henry from Knitty, with some adaptations (changes can be found below). I’m knitting it out of the Buffalo Gals yarn (70% bison, 30% merino). It’s a respectable sportweight yarn, and it’s a dream to knit with.

Every row I knit on it makes it more and more beautiful.


It’s killing me.

It’s not taking a knife out and stabbing me, or slowly giving me cancer, but the 328 stitches per row are absolutely, positively, killing me. It’s the slipping and knitting (or purling). Hell on the hands, people.

I’m all for martyrdom- don’t get me wrong. I’m also not denying the beauty of this piece. But the motion involved in all of the slipping and knitting (or purling) is simply destroying my left hand. (Or, it does after a few hours, I should say.)

When I cast it on, I was convinced I would knit ninety of them. Now, I’m fairly certain that once this one is finished, I’ll love it and wear it all the time- but I won’t knit another one. Ever.

I’m just thrilled that I was smart enough to size up the yarn (as opposed to knitting it in the recommended fingering weight). I followed the pattern with the exception of the two following changes.

My changes:

-Cast on 164 sts

-[Following row 1]Inc to 328 sts.

Monday, February 4, 2008

More Less Is More

In order to actively work towards my goal of “less is more” (or as I like to call it, Jasmin 2008), I have been spinning up a virtual storm of Crown Mountain. I decided to start with the Crown Mountain for two reasons: (1) 11 bumps were being stored on my baby grand piano, and though it is pretty, it looks cluttered (2) I only need half of each bump.

So, the Crown Mountain system goes like this:

Step 1: Weigh out three, 38g bumps.

Step 2: Re-“skein” the remaining 4-4.5 oz, reapply the label.

Step 3: Trade it, give it away, or overdye the remaining “bump”. This works to either (a) get it out of the house and not allow it to become clutter or (b) turn into something new and different to spin.

The plan has been working fairly well, as there are only six bumps remaining on the piano. (This doesn’t include the OTHER ten bumps that are in Space Bags. Those are next on the spinning jihad list.) While I’m spinning up my own sock yarn, Andrew can make a determination early in the process as if he wants some or not.

Jasmin 2008 is also all about finishing things. You wouldn’t think so, based on all of the spinning (which * technically * adds to one stash as it comes out of another), but there is a plan. Three projects that I am planning on finishing before I go on the Sea Socks cruise include:

-The Lady Eleanor Shawl. It’s more than half done, and I started it in Dec. 05-ish.

-The seed stitch Jo Sharp sweater that I started for Zak in 2000. I have less than a handspan of knitting to do on the sleeves, and to seam it up. Maybe 15 hours of work. [No, I’m not giving it to Zak. We’re not in a knitwear-exchanging place.]

-My Ribbi Cardi. It’s still at the Ribbi Halter state, and I have an evening of knitting to finish the back. The sleeves require a little pre-planning- in part because I’m anal retentive, and partly because my previous experience has lead me to the fact that knitting sleeves top-down is always the best way of making sure that cap/raglan/not drop shoulder sleeves fit both the sleeve holes and the subsized wearer (me). Feel free to disagree.

All three of these projects are in my living room, queued up to be worked on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these all finished in rapid succession of each other.

I can be goal-oriented sometimes. I swear!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tagged: 4 Things

Amy tagged me with this survey thingie:

4 Jobs I've Held:

  1. Editorial Intern at XRX
  2. Knitting Instructor
  3. Group Admin
  4. Editor

4 Movies I've Watched Over and Over Again:

  1. Amelie
  2. Love Actually
  3. Legally Blonde
  4. Bring it On (only the first scene, though)

4 Places I've Been:

  1. New York
  2. Florida
  3. Iran
  4. Maryland

4 Places I've Lived:

  1. Concord, CA
  2. Campbell, CA
  3. San Jose, CA
  4. Sioux Falls, SD

Part A: 4 TV Shows I Watch: (This was hard. I watch too much TV.)

  1. House
  2. Project Runway
  3. Robot Chicken
  4. One Tree Hill (I love how bad it is)

Part B: 4 Radio Shows I Listen To: [I'm going to substitute Podcasts for "Radio Shows.]

  1. Cast On
  2. Lime and Violet
  3. Stash and Burn
  4. CraftLit

4 Things I Look Forward To:

  1. Sea Socks!
  2. Stitches West
  3. Painting and decorating the new house
  4. Rewarding my "less is more"-ness with a Schacht-Reeves saxony wheel later this year.

4 Favorite Foods:

  1. Veggie Pho (from work, sadly)
  2. Kashke bademjoon ("Pinchy food"- it's eggplant with lots of good stuff. Vegetarian AND gluten-free!)
  3. My chicken soup with zing
  4. Andrew's cheese and rice dish

4 Places I'd Rather Be:

  1. Purlescence
  2. Getting a massage
  3. Bubba Gump's
  4. Barefoot

4 People I email regularly:

  1. Andrew
  2. Mike (co-worker)
  3. The Minions
  4. Mom

4 People to Tag:

  1. Kathy
  2. Gretch
  3. Patricia
  4. Lisa