Day Seventeen. No Medal for Me

The Winter Games are over and my sweater isn't finished. Would I have finished it if I hadn't caught the flu and the money bug? I don't know. I need cash for my trip, so I am somewhat resistant to guilt in that direction. So far, I have knit on the yukata: both sleeves, the back, and the left front. I started the right front tonight, after a small family gathering. I will continue to work on the yukata, even though my fake deadline has passed. My real deadline looms: March 21st. I want to wrap up a couple of WIPs before I cross the pond.
I've been trying to figure out whether or not I will need a transformer for my cell phone charger while travelling. My ipod is dual voltage, because the people at Apple are smart, but it is unclear if Samsung is similarly hip. I tried their website, but it was pointless, as was calling their 800 #, which wasn't staffed on Sundays. Apparently, people don't use electronics on the lord's day! So, I called my cell phone company. They used some very circular logic in telling me that my charger is dual voltage (as in, I said I bought it while I was on vacation, which is true, and they said that it must work dual voltage then. I was in PA at the time!), then suggested that I buy a new phone for my trip. I work in telesales, so I understand the need to upsell, but holy shit! I know that my current phone works in Europe, which might not be the case with a different phone. Clearly, I can't believe what the phone co's reps say, as they are adept at blowing smoke up asses. Maybe I'll try Samsung again tomorrow. There's no real rush, but I bought a transformer--just in case--and was told that I can return it in 30 days if it turns out that I don't need it. I'd like to figure that out sooner rather than later.


Marathon time

I'm not going to get a gold medal in the KO this year. Maybe in two years, if one gets together for the summer games in 2008. I felt pretty confident about finishing the yukata last week. Then I got a fast flu. Lousy energy, diminished breathing, and increased sleep do not do good things for one's knitting time. Then I got the opportunity to work my hours at my hourly gig. As many as I want, not exceeding forty hours. Well, I'm still running the turkey show, so there's no chance of my exceeding forty hours. Even though I always try to knit a little on the train, I'm just not keeping up with my Olympic sweater. So far, I've knit the sleeves and the back. Not a small accomplishment, but I've still to knit the fronts, fairly wide sash, and collar. The sash and collar are in double moss stitch. That's not going to happen before Sunday unless every day between now and then magically has 36 hours. I'm still going to keep at it, because I don't want to have a dozen UFOs kicking around. The right front is about halfway done, so it is entirely possible that this project could take off after the show and marathon close. Oh, and I'd like to finish my top-down raglan before I go to Europe. And wouldn't it be great if I could finally finish that collar for my Phildar Cecilia cardigan? It all starts to weigh me down.

Today was a very Spring-like day. It was fifty degrees out, in February, in Chicago! I wore my new floral skirt from H&M. It was purchased during a paycheck high, while thinking about my trip to Europe. Like many techies, I wear jeans nearly every day. I do not want to wear jeans every day, especially not while I am traveling. When I saw this skirt, I pictured it with my wedgewood blue boucle cardigan, looking Continental. I wore said outfit today, which generated a lot of comments at work (works? both places). It falls below the knee on me and has a navy lace edging. It's even lined, which is rare at the super cheap, fast fashion giant H&M. I should wear skirts more often. And pants that aren't jeans. Not together.
I also think this skirt would look terrific with the Something Red sweater that Wendy's showing on Knit and Tonic. It would really pop those little red flowers in the print. Just what I need, eh, another project? I told one of my friends that I'd knit a pair of fingerless gloves for his wife's birthday. I've never met his wife, so they're not a present from me. I gave him a pair as an opening present a couple of weeks ago and I guess he wears them all the time. He was telling me on the phone that she tries to steal them from him and she shouted in the background that she has a birthday coming up. Damn, non-knitters can be ballsy! I told him that he and I could work something out, that I have a few projects for me that come first. But I'm going to be on those long transatlantic flights, the chunnel train, etc, which will be excellent small project time. This will also require a trip to one of my favorite LYSes, but with a non-knitter. Could be highly amusing or irritating. We'll see. We'll see after the show closes.


Around the Clear Com

All of my theatre friends already know of the interesting discussions that occur on the Clear Com. Things that would probably be far less riveting if not conveyed through a low voltage party system. Tonight, at work, I told the musical director about my decision to plow ahead with the Knitting Olympics, despite my flu. I was pretty self-pitying yesterday and got absolutely no knitting done, for all my sniffling and coughing. Today, however, I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of knitting and finished sleeve #2 (yay!) and started the back piece. I explained to Margaret that I'd heard a piece on NPR about one of the male figure skaters competing despite an attack of the stomach flu. I figure if he can skate through the flu, I can knit through it! Margaret, who was already very supportive of the KO, was very tickled by my being inspired by this athletic tale. To cheer me on, she and the band played a little Copland and the Olympic theme during their tuning. I was tickled pink! I don't know if I will be able to finish the Olympic sweater on time, but I am glad that I haven't quit!
Speaking of the flu.... This morning, I was blissed out in a cold/flu druggy daze when I heard a clatter from the kitchen. I'd left a glass of orange juice sitting on the counter and my darling cat had gone up there to investigate. There was juice and broken glass everywhere! Winston stood on the counter in that classic Halloween cat pose, realizing that he was caught. I had to get him out of the kitchen before I could attack the mess, gingerly picking up slivers of glass while indelicately breathing through my mouth. I suspect Winston was trying to drink the orange juice (why do cats think they can drink oj?), when he knocked the glass off the counter. He's such a little nut sometimes, but I wasn't laughing about it this morning!
My speaking voice has been affected by all this. This time, instead of doing its usually younger Brady brother thing, it's more like Kathleen Turner. Finally, a sultry sick voice! I'll have to be careful while doing my Telefund work not to sound too much like a phone sex operator!


Day Six

I don't think a KO gold medal is in my future. Today, I was looking at sleeve #2 and realized that I would have to come home and knit for four hours in order to keep up with things. Great, except today I got slammed with a sinus infection and just want to take a long steamy shower and collapse. Do you know what really freaks out sound engineers (besides feedback)? Sinus infections, because they make your ears hurt and affect your hearing. Sucky, to say the least. I'd like to keep going with my project, but I don't know that it will be finished by (or on) February 26th. Clearly, I've been pushing myself too hard lately, what with holding down two jobs and trying not to be a hermit.
A couple of my friends came to see my show last night. We went out for drinks afterwards. I'm glad that I went out, even though I probably shouldn't have (my poor immune system! My neglected knitting!) Maybe I should have had that Black and Tan with an Airborne chaser, haha!
Oh, my head hurts. I'm going to bed.


Day Three, Knitting Olympics

I was a little distracted on Day One of the KO. I spent most of the morning trying to distract myself from a serious case of startitis. Well, joining in the Knitting Olympics feels like an attack of startitis. I've got other projects, but for the next fortnight, my focus is on the yukata project. I even had a few last rounds on my top-down raglan sweater to prevent me from giving into the temptation to start early. Things were really starting to move on that project. Or, as quickly as they can on a sweater knit at six stitches to the inch on size four needles! The neck shaping is done now and it's joined in the round. I'm glad that the designer included a photo of the project at this stage with the pattern, because it looks seriously strange. When the ribbing is added at the neckline, it pulls in the neckline. As is, it's a pretty slatternly look!

The shipping info on my eBay purchase bag indicated that it would be delivered on Friday, so I was counting on that as a distraction. How long I expected to be amused by a piece of luggage, I am unsure. It didn't arrive with the regular mail, so I silently cursed my long-suffering mailman. Oh well. It arrived in a second round of delivery (how exciting!), just ten minutes before I planned to cast on my sleeve. I was sufficiently diverted. I am very satisfied with my purchase and believe it to be jus the thing that I was looking for. The sender even managed to send it in a standard size flat-pack priority box! With some room to spare! Perfect. Also, check out the fun print. Lesportsac calls it "stereo". How could I resist?

So far, so good on the Olympic project. My mother described it thusly to the owner of a new LYS we were exploring. It was assumed that I am making a Dale of Norway sweater. God, I wish I were that good! It's also been assumed that I'm knitting a scarf (no, it's a sleeve). It's nice working at four stitches to the inch again, on big old circulars. The pattern calls for fives, which really makes me wonder about the natural gauge of the designer. The needles I am using to get that gauge, with the same yarn, are twice that size! About the LYS: I liked the owner, but I doubt that I will become a devoted customer. The store isn't near my house (not that great a deterrent, honestly) and the prices are all over the place. I was very tempted to buy some amazing space dyed alpaca yarn, Atacama, but I was glad that I didn't when I saw it in a catalog for ten dollars less! Yes, profits are an expense of business, but that is ridiculous.

Since I had an evening show on Friday (day one), I taped the opening ceremonies of those other Olympics, planning to watch them after work and knit. No, no. I decided to go out for a drink, thinking that I would stay at the bar for "an hour". That was not the case. Very little progress made that night, or the following morning on the train, as I desperately wanted additional sleep. Great leap forward on Day Two, as I knit at work, then while watching my tape of the opener. Sadly, I didn't factor in all the padding put in by the network and missed what I really wanted to see: the torch being brought into the ceremony and Pavarotti singing.

Day Three: Knitting in the morning, a matinee, and more knitting. I am done with the first sleeve, except for casting off, and already have a good start on the cuff for the second. These sleeves are really wide, so it looks like it's large enough to be the back piece. It isn't. Wide sleeves are a little self-indulgent, but I can't complain about the shaping. There isn't any, so once the cuffs are finished, it's clear sailing. The little old lady ushers at work exclaim over my knitting prowess. They can't believe that I don't have to look at my work while I knit. Well, I glance at it occasionally, but this sleeve isn't taxing. At this rate, I think that I will be on track to finish this project before the closing ceremonies. Or at least, cease knitting. I recall the seaming up of this project to be quite challenging from the last go-round, but I am wiser now. Here is a picture of the sleeve, lying across my sadly neglected raglan sweater. Look how luscious those colors are together! I'm such a design student. Also pictured: one of my favorite toys, a really great cheap retractable measuring tape. It's like a cross between a contractor's tape and a tailor's tape. And it only cost $2.50! My Grandma mentioned that she didn't have a good, handy tape measure right before xmas, so I bought one for her as a gift. As they were so cheap, I got one for myself.

I really like the hand of the cotton yarn in my Olympic project, but as I look at that photo, I know blocking is inevitable. It has great stitch definition, which is manufacturer speak for "this will show the slightest wonkiness in your gauge really well". The color is really great too. I bought the yarn online, so I had only an educated guess about its real hue. I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd like to give a big shout out to the Team Wales team captain, Brenda Dayne. Listening to her podcast makes knitting feel less nerdy. I feel like a big dork sometimes when I'm excitedly telling non-knitters about a project. I should be used to that, though. Sound engineers are part dork, part hipster. We have great record collections, but know way too much about Radio Shack. Friday, I was really ebullient about the KO and my upcoming trip to Europe. It was refreshing to feel so excited about something and not care how uncool it was. I haven't felt so passionate since college. Sometime in the past five years, I became much more guarded about my life. I don't know when or why, but I think I lost something in the process.
Too much typing, not enough knitting. I'll check in again tomorrow.


I decided to take the plunge and join Team Wales in the Knitting Olympics. I was always crap at sports, so these will be my only olympic games. I stuck my pin in the Team Wales Frappr map (what a cool program!) and hope not to cripple myself with such goal-oriented knitting. Look here for updates on my "event" project, the lovely merlot yukata.
Today was a return to form in Chicago weather. The cruel north wind blows and blows and snow swirls all around. Today, it was snowing weird couscous-like clumps. The snow looked art directed. As I walked past the skating rink in Millenium Park, I felt a pang of jealousy. I haven't been skating since they moved it from block 37 (or is it 39? You know, across the street from Marshall Fields), but I was on my way to job #2. Also, I've never quite developed a fondness for sports that involve freezing your ass off. I guess that's another reason why the Knitting Olympics are more my speed than the Winter Games.
Fortunately, I had the new St Etienne cd to keep me in a good mood as I made my way from NE Indiana to the Loop. Not a pleasant drive in the snow, but once I hit the Skyway things improved immensely. Soooo much better than 80-94. I haven't really listened to St Etienne in the past, though I knew some of their popular songs. The album was recommended to me by iTunes. I have such eclectic listening patterns that their recommendations can be laughable, but I think this was a good one. It's in the same category as Nouvelle Vague, Morcheeba, et al. Sort of Portishead meets Bebel Gilberto. It was very calming during my commute, but more of a sunny weather sound.


The Retrograde Train

Yesterday, I had the worst luck with public transportation. I waited for almost half an hour before realizing that the train that I wanted wasn't in service. Not fun on a windy winter day in Chicago! It seemed like an eternity before I finally caught a Brown line train, making me late for a very important date. So, I decided to take a luxurious cab ride from the El to my appointment, as it is about a ten minute walk. The cabbie turned the wrong direction. I felt as though I shouldn't have bothered leaving the house. This little escapade put me 15 minutes behind schedule.
Then, on the way to work, I made a disastrous gamble on switching to the Purple line going into the Loop. It would've been aces if there had been a Purple right behind my train, but there wasn't. So, more shivering and cursing until train arrives. Then the train came to a dead halt on the bridge, awaiting signals from ahead. Cut to me running down Lake Street, late for work.
Today, I shelled out an extra 50 cents (tangent: why is there no cent sign key on the modern keyboard?) to park in the near lot of my commuter station, which I appreciated later. The near lot, in addition to costing half again as much, has those scary severe tire damage strips. I'm such a girl scout that it wouldn't even occur to me to drive in through the exit, but it makes me nervous to drive across the strips on my way out.
When the train arrived at the station, ringing its bell, I saw to my surprise that it was one of the much discussed new trains. It was clean! There was a bathroom! I'd also guess that there were 20% fewer seats than on the old trains, and the jump seats (similar to those used on the Metro in Paris, but less charming as they aren't French) are not an improvement over the full width jump seats on the old trains. I can see how the increased flexibility would seem like a plus, but they aren't that comfortable and want to fold up on your purse. There was also a lot of ambient noise, which made it hard to listen to Brenda Dayne's podcast, Cast On, on my ipod. I suspect that there are too many reflective surfaces in the new cars, making normal conversation feel intrusive for other passengers. Especially sound girls trying to make some headway on tiny gauge sweaters.
Well, I hope that these transportation blues are over, because I've just bought a new St. Christopher medal. I lost my last one, or as I explained to the nun at the religious bookstore today, St. Christopher is traveling on without me. I was a little upset when I realized that I'd lost the medal, even though it gave me a rash. I took the rash as a sign that it was time to go home. No, I was irked because I spent almost $30 on that thing. Even though he's no longer officially a saint, St. Christopher's still popular. The replacement medal was about $10 more than one I bought two years ago. This one has a nicer chain and lovely color scheme, as you can see in the pic. I like the aqua lacquer a lot (or is it enamel? The center fill over the figures), which the lovely young nun helpfully pointed out in the vitrine. I guess I have some sort of nun prejudice, because I was surprised to see someone only a few years older than I wearing the veil. She laughed at my St. Christopher joke, too. When I bought the first one, I asked a different nun about St. Christopher's de-listing. She told me that now we just have to take him on faith. I recall thinking that the same could be said of everything in the store! Now, I feel like I am really going to travel.
My fiber addiction is on the wane. Today, I got a tempting email from the folks at Webs, touting their fabulous sale on discontinued colors of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super Chunky (could that name have more adjectives in it?). Swoon! That yarn is usually $16, meaning that all of the projects I've drooled over in her Cashmere Collection book were in the unrealistic $200-$300 range. Yeah, yeah, it's cashmere. It's a cashmere blend. Perfect, I thought, I've been dying to make the moss stitch jacket, with its lovely big collar. Then I did a bit of math and realized that I am not $135 worth of excitement happy about any of the colors that are marked down. And why make a sweater in a blah color? I've already done it, and I rarely wear the garment. That money would be much better applied to my trip, I decided, and proceeded to snap up a Lesportsac Weekender bag on eBay. Yes, the Lesportsac usually associated with loud, slow moving tourists in Times Square, but they have some really chic things that don't attach to your waist. I scouted them out before making my purchase at the big Fields on State Street. They have so many bags there! I just adore Fields! I don't adore paying retail, so I took a pass on the $90 price tag on the Weekender. That would have been $100 with the fabulous city sales tax, so I felt really great about snapping one up online for more than $30 less, even having it shipped from Boston. Lately, I've been looking for a carry-on bag, rather than cramming everything but the kitchen sink in my purse. Every once in a while I have to remind myself that even though you can stuff a tremendous amount of junk into a bag, that doesn't mean you should. My grandmother gave me an old leather carry-on that has a retro, doctor's bag charm, but it needs some serious TLC. Also, I could never cram it into my big board bag. I don't want a million straps and things hanging off of me as I navigate the public transportation systems of several big cities. I want to pick up my checked bag at the airport, shove my carry-on in its massive outer pocket, and hit the ground running. Oh, and it comes with a matching makeup pouch. The seller tells me that I should get it at the end of this week. I'll post a photo when it arrives.
I'm thinking of joining Team Wales for the Knitting Olympics. I don't have any particular attachment to Wales, other than my enjoyment of Team Wales Captain Brenda Dayne's podcast. At first, I really didn't understand the whole knitting Olympics concept (like how would they do the events? Who would judge?), but now I think it would be the kick in the seat of the pants that I need to stay on task with my knitting. Basically, it's a group deadline. All of the participants agree to cast on their projects during the opening ceremonies in Torino and finish before the closing ceremonies, sixteen days later. Am I crazy to think that I can knit a sweater in sixteen days while holding down two jobs? Well, probably, but I think that the team spirit could really propel me to finish my project sooner that I would on my own. So, I'm thinking of entering with a new improved version of the Cotton Kimono sweater from Knit Wit. It took me ages to finish the last one because it attracted so much of my ire, but I know the pattern now (and that I take a smaller size. What a waste of time and yarn!). I'd love to have it to wear on my trip at the end of March, so the Knitting Olympics seem to be the answer.

This I Do For Myself

Should I feel guilty about knitting for myself? Lately, I've felt a twinge while thinking about all the intended presents languishing as I work on a sweater. I halted production on the big projects to make a pair of fingerless gloves (adapted from SnB Nation). Alas, there is no pic of the finished product. I had a very clear idea of the photo I wanted, the gloves displayed on crossed jazz hands, but it's very difficult to take a picture of both of your own hands! You'll just have to use your imagination. The recipient of the gloves was very excited, putting them on immediately over his jacket, in a style favored by Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. Adorably dorky. He also reports that he can play the piano with them on.
So, what other little projects am I neglecting these days? A hat for Sarah, even though I've already made another one and just not mailed it. The 75% finished scarf for Margaret, the musical director at work, which will be her "leaving the show" present. Fingerless gloves for myself and Rita. Maybe this cold weather will light a fire under that project! A hat for myself, again. I hate windy winter weather.
Though it wouldn't take much time to finish any of these projects, it would take me away from the lovely top down cashmerino sweater that I am making for myself. I want to wear that sweater in Europe this spring! And, as it is 6 stitches to the inch, that isn't going to happen overnight! Yesterday was a red letter day on that project. I finally finished the interminable raglan increases. The rows are much shorter without all the sleeve stitches. A very pleasant surprise. Now it feels as though I'm actually making progress on the sweater.
When other knitters hear that I am knitting something for myself, there is an interesting reaction. This is a rare beast, the self-project. Non-knitters seem to think that we (knitters) live to make things for other people, not factoring in the time and skill required to make those gifts. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy making presents for my friends-- sometimes-- as I choose, but it can get to be too much. That's when those old feminist ideas pop into my head as I knit frantically in front of the tv. I don't exist to take care of other people's needs (wool, acrylic, or emotional). Why should I put other people's wants ahead of my own in my hobby? So, if I promised you a present and you haven't gotten it, I'm sorry, but this week is not a good week to ask.
Hateful sweater update: I tore it apart. No, I didn't rend it. I carefully pulled out the side seams and removed the sleeves. A futile attempt was made to sew in a sleeve in a less poufy manner. Impossible. The sleeve cap is inherently poufy. That would be less of a problem if the shoulder seams actually sat on my shoulder. They don't, ad they should. I don't have small shoulders, so you draw your own conclusion. So, I will knit new sleeves for the sweater. The fabulous drug rug sweater has very adaptable sleeves for this pattern. Really, I just want to be done with this project. Now is the time of year for cozy sweaters!

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