Think I Have A Favorite Color?

Look at these yarns that I have in my stash: Some people may think that pink is my favorite color, but anyone who's seen my fiber knows which color is really "mine".

This is a ball of Suss yarn for a spiderweb like wrap sweater. I bought it at the expensive yarn lover's crackhouse near the theatre. Maybe I should have had them wind the skeins into balls for me, because it was a serious challenge. It didn't want to cooperate at all. The yarn is two very fine strands of hairy goodness held together, which probably means that it can't be torn out. Only for the confident knitter who makes no mistakes.

Anyone who has knit with mohair before knows how difficult it is to tear it out. I've heard that putting the fabric in the freezer first helps to unhook all its little hairs for a frogging session. Knock on wood, I've never had to try. This yarn is from La Droguerie in Paris, and it is sooo my color. I plan to make a cardigan out of it, with matching mother-of-pearl buttons. Nothing particularly fancy, like the cabled La Gran pattern I've drooled over for years, but something a bit vintage. And it's from France, did I mention that?

Here's another shot of that hand-dyed alpaca that I bought on sale. Not a summer fabric, but I look forward to working with it. I think alpaca is the "it" fiber right now.

And here's an in progress shot of the Cashmerino Cowl, that sweater of many names. I'm working on the fairly wide waistband ribbing now. It's three inches deep, or it will be when I am done with it. Notice the tiny needles. I'd hoped to work on it on the train tonight, but an inconsiderate gentleman took up my personal space instead. Or, it's impossible to knit with one shoulder pinned to the windowpane. Sure, he had a right to sit in that seat, but did he have to sit with his legs apart in that odd, masculine fashion? Instead, I paged through the New Yorker that arrived today, which was probably better for my wrist anyway.

Didn't you miss those pics in my last several posts? I'm trying to figure out how to transfer images from my phone to my computer, as I am far more likely to have my cell phone with me than my camera these days. There oughta be a way... In case I wonder past something fabulous.

Trifling Matters

Small things can really get under your skin. Like running up two flights of stairs only to have the train doors slam shut in your face. Going to a strange Starbucks and having the barista really fuck up your drink order and forget to buzz you into the bathroom when you're dangerously close to doing the pee dance. Inaccurate yarn estimates in patterns. Some guy sitting next to you on the train with his knees a yarn apart, seriously cutting into your personal space. Yes, I know that people are dying in places like Darfur while I whine about this crap. That's exactly what it is. How can such petty matters be so irritating at the time?
I went to the opening night of my latest project. They hadn't put my name in the program. Maybe they couldn't spell it. Maybe it's a general reflection of their attitude towards me, since they were inclined to walk all over me, but not let me actually get any tech accomplished. Grr. The technical aspects of the show were very, very weak. Hell, it was Waiting for Guffman bad. The cues were all over the place. The stage manager makes the actors set their own props. Their one and only stagehand moved like Sasquatch during the scene changes. And really, the audience's attention should be elsewhere. The piece de resistance, really, was that they were apparently doing laundry backstage and left the alarm on for the dryer. It went off four times during the first act. I was about ready to look for it and turn it off! But still, they don't pay me enough to care. There is some strong acting in the show, and a lot of strange choices. One of my favorite actors is in it, and it was largely because he is in it that I even bothered to go to opening night. That and the free dinner to follow.
I don't have any other theatre gigs lined up. I don't know how I feel about that. It is nice to not be working three jobs at a time. Was I trying to work myself to death or something? Still, I miss it. Not crap like the above anecdote, but working with friends, doing a challenging mix, the social opportunities. It's a busy time of year, so I haven't been able to get a hold of my friends lately, which is lonely making.
I'm making some new friends, as my horoscope predicted for the year. Over the past few months, I've met some really fabulous ladies through work. Friends who've let me crash at their place, gotten me ridiculously drunk, fed me wonderful dinners. It's good to build a bigger network of friends here in town, since most of my friends are far away. Yes, you can imagine me listening to old Carole King records on a rainy afternoon as you read that sentence, though I'm more inclined to listened to Joni Mitchell.
Since the Colinette pullover has turned out to be The Project That Eats Yarn, it's idling on the needles now. I'm working on another version of the Classy Drug Rug, for me this time. As I was knitting away at it on the train, I noticed a lot of people smiling at me. Maybe they think it's a child's sweater, I thought, but it's probably the happy colors. It is a very cheerful colorway. So, I'm alternating that and the Cashmerino Cowl wonder, which is moving along nicely even though I can only work on it in short bursts. I'm also trying to resist the temptation to start yet another project, as my Blue Sky Cotton yarn arrived in the mail today. It's for another Wendy creation, the Something Red, but I think I need Something Finished first. That is one disadvantage to working more than one project at a time.


Protect Your Tools

I was knitting this morning, working on my "at home" project, when I had a sudden realization. The project in question, my top down raglan sweater, had gotten a bit too cumbersome for the commute. I'd finally reached the waistband ribbing, which required switching to size 4 needles. For those of you who don't knit, smaller numbers equal smaller needles, so that's tiny. I was knitting along when I got a pain in my forearm, that pain that made me remember the words of my drafting professor: "If you keep drafting like that, you're going to have carpal tunnel before you're thirty". Thanks a lot. I can't speed along on size four needles. I'll have to alternate this project with other, larger gauge projects. I'll never be able to knit a Rowan sweater. It's strange that these needles are causing me problems, since I've knit socks on smaller needles. Of course, socks are a smaller project. Oh well. I'd rather take an extra couple of months to finish this than cripple myself.
Later at work, I felt a pain in the big joint of my thumb on my right hand. What I imagined to be a vaguely arthritic twinge, as I am clearly a hypochondriac. Or the child of a hypochondriac. I looked down and realized that I was gripping my cheapo Bic pen as though my life depended on it. I grip that pen for a good five hours a day at work, so this was a distressing thought. I'd heard of people getting repetitive stress injuries from typing, but from writing?! So, I made a conscious effort to relax my grip on the pen and immediately felt better. My handwriting looked pretty spindly without that apparently crippling force behind it. Maybe I should start bringing my own pens or those dorky rubber grips favored by people who do a lot of crossword puzzles.
Fortunately, my other project is on larger needles. Yes, back to that. I'm back to work on the Colinette Giotto pullover, now that my extra skein has arrived from the UK. I really love the people at Colinette. The pattern for the sleeves has a right and a left. Most patterns don't. These designers clearly know what they're doing. Further advancing my theory that all Colinette books should feature a disclaimer at the front warning knitters of the addictive properties of their product. I've got to find some warm weather projects, once this one's off the needles. Almost all of the projects in the batting order at cold weather items. Of course, knitting them during the warmer months of the year would ensure that they would be ready and waiting on that first cold day of autumn, but it means missing out on that gratifying first wearing, still warm from the needles. Delayed gratification is not a favorite activity of mine. I think that I may tackle Wendy's Something Red next. It looks like a good cross-season garment, good for when they turn the AC on at work. I don't want to get caught wearing an Old Grandpa sweater in the middle of the summer, like so many office workers keep in their cubicles!


Happy Day

Two packages arrived for me today: an Amazon shipment and that ball of yarn needed to finish my sweater. Yay! I bought a couple of cds from Amazon, which is kind of crazy considering that I have music that I bought a while ago and still haven't heard. I bought a couple of albums before my trip to Europe, figuring that it would be an excellent time to fall in love with new music. Except I barely listened to my ipod when I was over there. So, I have a few albums to listen to when the mood strikes me: Z, by My Morning Jacket, Oh Inverted World, by The Shins, the new Stereolab, Strangers Almanac, by Whiskeytown, and Garden Ruin by Calexico. Well, I've had an unfocussed listening to some of those. It's been a long time since I've been able to sit down and really listen to a new album. I used to read the New Yorker from cover to cover when it came in the mail, too. Sniff. So, today, my recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love arrived. It's not exactly easy to find, so when I saw it on Amazon, I knew I had to snap it up. I also bought a Neko Case album. That combination whould work wonders on my recommendations page. I like to think that my taste is unpredictable, but the people at Amazon and iTunes like to think differently. Unfortunately, iTunes keeps recommending that I purchase albums that I already own. No, I don't expect them to be psychics at Apple, but it's music that I bought from them.
I got a new cellphone. It's a camera phone. Naturally, it is silver and a flip-phone, very Star Trekky. Suppose it was time that I join the 21st Century. The ring tones are atrocious, so I went with a Bach derived one. I'd buy a new ringtone, except I can't preview them on my Mac. And the Bach isn't bad.
Today, I got a call from a prestigious summer stock company for whom I would dearly love to work. They offered me a position for this summer. Small problem: it was an unpaid internship. Maybe if I had a sugar daddy, I'd take it, but I can't afford to quit my job and go work there for nothing. They did admit that I am overqualified for the position. Better than underqualified, I guess, considering that I've been out of school for five years.


So, a little bit of redesign here at Reciprocity Failure. I was looking for a change and tried a couple of different templates before settling on this one. Sorry to everyone on an update feed, you probably got a few emails on that one! Well, in the end, I've chosen a template virtually identical to the one that I used before. The background color is dark instead of cream now, but the dots and everything are the same. Not a bold change, friends, but I like it.
Things are a little easier at work. I've started actually making sales, after a week of nothing. That was very difficult, because I was used to being a total rock star in fundraising. Sales has a very different pace, and it has been hard adjusting to that. Still, I love my job. My boss is amazing, it's a very positive, fun environment, and my coworkers are really great. It feels good to get the swing of it now, because it was starting to look like I wouldn't!
On the knitting front: the amazing Colinette project is idling now, waiting for that additional skein of yarn. God only knows when it will show up. I have such a short attention span for mail order. Thank god I live in a city full of yarn shops, because it would be a big problem if I had to do everything from a catalog. Well, I don't mean to be a big pessimist, but I went back to look at the website whence I bought the yarn and found that they had the color/yarn I ordered listed as out of stock. So, I may have to wait a while. Or I might have just gotten under the wire. We'll see. I don't really want to get too far into the sleeves before it arrives, in case it's noticeably different from the yarn I have now. It's hard to double-strand if you run out! Instead, I've pulled the beautiful top-down raglan sweater from its back burner. I'd sort of forgotten how luscious the yarn is. Well, other knitters will roll their eyes: how could I forget what a great hand cashmere blend yarn has? Still, terrific. I didn't miss working with those tiny needles, which is why I can't do any marathon knitting sessions on this project. Large needles are great for (relatively) instant gratification, but how many bulky sweaters do I need? That said, I don't think I'll ever be able to switch over to the European school of thought on gauge. Why do so many Rowan and Phildar patterns feature such fine gauge yarn? Who wants to knit an entire sweater at nine stitches to the inch?! Sadly, that's not hyperbole.
Oh, I'm procrastinating. I should be doing paperwork for my show, but I'm resisting. I already have the paperwork generated, you see, I just have to fill in additional info that will undoubtedly be changed later. Sigh. I could have avoided this problem if I'd left the running cue sheets at the theatre, but instead I tucked them in my script and brought them home. That would make it very hard for the designer (whom I assist) to train the new board operator. So, I have to make a crib sheet of all the levels and get it off to him. I guess I'll go do that now...


I want culture. I want to go to a ballet, or the opera, or a really great play. Well, I live in a major metropolitan area, so that should be easy, right? Well, a quick scan of the ads really doesn't inspire me. I should live in Europe, where there are heaps of ballet and opera companies, instead of one of each here. Well, one major company of each. Whine, whine, whine. Hell, even NYC would do it. It's that Sunday night feeling that creeps in when you're least expecting it. Maybe I'll go to the Art Institute this week. That's cultured, to say the least. I take so little advantage of all of the artistic opportunities available in the city. I've never been to the Goodman, for example, and I haven't been to a museum in town in years. I need something to recharge my artistic battery. Maybe I'll buy a copy of Einstein's Dreams and finally hang onto it for myself.
There's knitting, I suppose. I got bored on the train home the other day and actually read the general instructions at the front of one of my Colinette pattern books. It was very interesting. They advise going up a needle size for circular needles. Maybe I've been doing this unconsciously, since I generally swatch a size larger than the pattern specifies to start. I have a tight gauge, though nowhere near as tight as it used to be! Since I knit nearly all of my projects on circular needles these days, I'm surprised that I hadn't come across this bit of advice before. Maybe it's a Welsh knitting secret, or just so obvious to everyone but me that no one's mentioned it. Hmm. What the general advice should state is that Colinette yarns are dangerously addictive, especially to American knitters who are unfairly dependent upon the whims of the yarn's greedy importers. I've heard that it's hard to come by in the UK, since they export most of their stock, but I've resolved only to order it from there. I bought another Colinette pattern book (total now two) when I was at the young hip knitting shop. This was largely inspired by the shop model of a ribbed cardigan in Giotto, the yarn of my current project. As though I need another project in the lineup. Oh, about that current project. I detest knitting sleeves, but nearly all of my sweaters have them, so I am soldiering on through a pair of sleeves now. I had a little yardage freak-out and ordered another ball, but suspect that it may not be necessary. Well, better too much than too little.
Today, I was sitting at a high counter in the window of a coffee shop on Michigan Avenue. Yes, I've absorbed enough café culture to want to be near the window when possible. So, there I was, perched over a panini when a woman whizzed past on a Segway. Well, maybe whizzed isn't the correct word, since I think they move at a brisk walking pace at best. The Chicago Police Department has outfitted some of their beat cops with Segways, which amuses me to no end. Beat cops not actually walking their beat---blasphemy! Are they for low speed chases? It's just so absurd to see them scooting around dispensing parking tickets in the Loop. This woman, however, was not a cop, but wearing a tweed coat and carrying an expensive-looking purse. She was nonchalantly moving under borrowed power. I guess she caught my eye because she was at eye level with me as I sat at the counter. Very weird. Segways are the rickshaw of the 21st century, for rich people who are too damn lazy to walk anywhere. She was in her late twenties, too.
Chicago is a weird place somedays. Other days, fantastic. It's supposed to be spring now and the weather is almost coöperating. Lovely to look at today, but there was a sneaky cold wind blowing. I was fooled by that warm week at the beginning of March. There was even a warm day when the wind blew the sweet aroma of the chocolate factories of the Gallery District into the Loop. Such a warm, enticing scent.


LYS Envy

I was at the theatre yesterday, working on the interminable tech production that somehow doesn't do anything technical in its tech rehearsals, when one of my friends gave me a little card. There is a yarn shop a pleasant walking distance from the theatre. Naturally, I went there, even though I probably won't need anything from a yarn shop for a year. It was amazing. Hip, lovely, lots of space, great couches, great help, okay prices. It was very cute. I resisted the urge to buy all sorts of fabulous, unusual yarns from places like France and South Africa. I bought patterns and darning needles. You can never have too many darning needles. Hell, it feels like I can never have enough, as I keep losing them. As I was leaving, I thought, why can't this LYS be near my house? Why do I have to have the somewhat unhelpful, old lady LYS near my house? My actually local LYS doesn't have velvet couches or wine tasting nights or even an appealing layout. However, if the hip young knitter LYS was near my house, I would never have a cent. So, maybe these things happen for a reason.
My Indiana LYS (actually only 20 miles away, according to my trip odometer) is having a big sale, as I mentioned before. Well, I had to go see it for myself, and ended up leaving with another project. It was on sale, though, an excellent buy. That's how knitters justify these things. This really was a steal. I had previously salivated over the t-shirt sweater pattern in the Ella Rae book (currently being knit by the lovely lady of Blue Blog).It's knit in hand-dyed alpaca, in perfect Piscean shades of blue, teal, and aqua. It looked kind of strange in its skinny little hanks, but I can make that leap of faith. Look how lovely it is once it is wound up! Well, I'd thought long and hard about buying it at another LYS which I will call Markup Central. It was on sale there too, except it started off with a $10 markup. Shameless! Well, I didn't buy it them because I was planning to buy all sorts of fiber on my trip (which I did). Good decision, since I snapped it up for $4.50 a skein and $6 for the book of patterns instead of $14 a skein at Markup Central. That's a cheap project for such a fabulous fiber!
I also picked up the Chicago-based hand-dyed yarn that I wanted to make another Classy Drug Rug. The colors are a little outrageous, but I think that I will like the end result. It is a little hard to envision an entire sweater out of it, as you can see here. So much for my denying a love of the color pink. Really, I love blues and greens; I'm a total Pisces. But pink makes me happy. It can be very flattering to my rosy cheeks (or tired, hungover eyes). So, I own a lot of pink things, but I'm not a pink person. Maybe it's a phase. I'm really rediscovering color after so many years of black. I wasn't a Goth: it's a professional hazard in theatre. You may end up with a closet full of black clothing.

The Update Update

Here is the denouement of all the dangling ends of my posts of the last few months. Not that it has been all that suspenseful...
* Yes, I eventually finished my Olympic Sweater. I even wore it to England and back, as sweaters take up a lot of room in a suitcase. When I wore it to work this week, one of my knitting coworkers recognized the sweater from its pattern. Very impressive! That had never happened to me before. We had a long conversation about flaws in the pattern, including the difficulty of fitting the collar to the body. When I was riding home on the train, I realized that the sweater was an excellent illustration of that problem. Somehow, part of the collar seam had come loose and I had live stitches just hanging out, waiting to be rescued by my darning needle. When I get around to it, of course. I like the sweater a lot, but it does that hateful, slouchy cotton thing. Still, it's a much better fit than the last one.
* That show I was doing before I left for Europe is plugging along without me, just as I like it. The designer paid me for it when I got back in town. We occasionally discuss the project, but we're both finished with it. This is what I missed about design while I was working exclusively as an engineer: designers get to leave after opening.
* I bought a ticket to see Sir John in Love at ENO as a sort of pig in a poke. I like opera and I like Falstaff, I reasoned. Margaret the musical director assured me that it would be beautiful as it was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams. She was absolutely correct. My previous exposure to his work was hymns, hymns, and more hymns. They're lovely, but not terribly exciting. His orchestral work, though, is amazing. Naturally, iTunes doesn't have a recording of the opera. Sure, it's fairly obscure, but they have forty-odd recordings of his hymns, folk songs, etc. Maybe iTunes isn't such instant gratification after all.
* My phone changer did work in Europe. So did my ipod charger, though I hardly used my ipod that week. While I was walking around Paris, on a beautiful rainy evening, with my ipod stowed away in my bag, I began to wonder how much we lose with our ipods. Not hearing loss, but things we don't hear because we're too busy listening to the Gipsy Kings. Don't get me wrong, I love my ipod. It makes public transportation bearable. But what about all that ambient noise?
* Hey, everyone waiting for a postcard from Europe from me. Don't hold your breath or swear at the post office. I forgot to mail the cards that I spent two hours composing at a cafe and found them at the bottom of my bag the other day. I was sick, I was busy, post offices in Paris keep weird hours. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But, if you ask nicely, I can give you your beautiful French postcard. Sorry, no naked ladies.


How long will I be satisfied by the contents of my stash and not tempted to buy more fiber? Well, until the sales fliers from a couple of LYSes arrived in the mail today. Yes. I am ashamed. I resisted the temptation to purchase deeply marked down Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky to make a fantastic shrug. The shrug would be chunky, and I don't need chunky anything anywhere on my person. Also, I just bought yarn to make a shrug from the lovely people at the Phildar counter in Le Printemps. Shrugs are not like handbags: one can have too many.
However, I will probably head over to my actually local LYS during their sale this week to look for a couple of skeins of Lorna's Laces sportweight. I bought three skeins of it a couple of months ago, planning to make a Clapotis scarf (resistance is futile!). Except, it's not the silk blend called for in the pattern (and probably not a clever substitute) and has really great yardage. There are 225 yards to the skein, which makes three skeins for a scarf, no matter how wide, overkill. A bit of math revealed that I'd only need two more to make another of Lewis's Classy Drug Rug. That pattern, which has a completely different name in its published form, only calls for an astonishing 1,080 yards. That's in worsted weight yarn, and for an adult size! And they're having a storewide sale, which ought to include the usually excluded hand-dyed yarns. Does this reek of validation? It would maximize the potential of yarn already in my stash...
Work continues on the Giotto funnelneck pullover, despite my return to work today. The back piece is finished, and I've done about seven inches of the front. When I bought the yarn, I saw all of the skeins come out of the same mill pack, so I know that they're from the same lot. Except it looks like they're not. Hand-dyeds are like that, so I've been working alternating rows from different balls. Somehow, the back still looks pinker than the front. If it wouldn't be a total pain in the ass, I would tear it out in order to more equitably distribute pinkness through the garment, but I think this is one of those things that only I will see in the finished garment.


I read the new Vogue Knitting yesterday and wasn't tempted to make a single thing. None of the featured yarns or ads in the back inspired me. That is very, very rare. Oh, there was an excellent article on the state of the British Wool industry. I had no idea how hard the economies of production (over there) are on sheep farmers. No wonder English yarn is so expensive! But other than that, I just leafed through the magazine. Maybe I am currently immune to new projects because of my recent European acquisitions. It's just all too fabulous for competition. This may be the first time that this has happened in my memory, but I feel completely satisfied with my stash. How many people can say that? And how long will it last?

Stash is usually a dirty word for knitters, though some people are coming out of the wool-hoarding closet. Wendy over at Knit and Tonic has an incredible photograph of her in her stash, bathing in wool like some crazy knitting porn fantasy. She's really amazing, that Wendy! I'm not sure that I am ready to come to terms with the contents of my stash. I still have a lot of questionable yarns in it that were bought out of the sales bin when I first started knitting. I've still not learned to resist the siren song of sale yarn, but I'd like to think that I buy a better class of it now. I should weed it out and give it away, but to whom? There are also the beloved, projectless yarns. What will I do with 1300 yards of nearly lace weight charcoal alpaca? It is so wonderful that I am afraid I will never find the right project for it. I rarely buy yarn without a project anymore. Whether or not the yarns end up becoming what I'd originally planned is another matter entirely.

Yesterday was a blah day. Jet lag is not nearly so glamourous as it sounds. I have to wait for hours for my friends to wake up before I can call them, then I'm off to bed at the ridiculously early hour of ten. This is clearly an opportunity for self-pity. Well, I was supposed to have a gig yesterday. The production manager and I had discussed it three times. Yet, when I called him yesterday morning to inquire when he wanted me to come in, he told me that he had hired someone else for the gig. Argh! I played it cool, but really felt shat on in this situation. I was looking forward to seeing my work friends and instead I was at home watching the latest Law and Order spin-off. Not exactly a high self-esteem day. I just need one really sunny afternoon, to reset my clock and my outlook. But, being a Chicago spring, that is unlikely to occur.

At least my knitting is going well. My Giotto pullover is just flying off the needles. Yes, I have other projects languishing on the needles as I type, where my attention might have been better directed, but how could I resist this Giotto yarn? It was a real bitch to wind, possibly because I was using a wooden swift and it is a ribbon yarn. Giotto isn't hateful like your typical ribbon yarn, though. It isn't slithery, and at the pattern gauge, makes a fairly firm, cushy fabric. I am already to the armholes on the front piece of the sweater. Well, the adapted front piece. I can't ever follow a pattern without meddling, so I decided that I do not want a twenty-seven inch long sweater. I got out my trusty tape measure and measured one of my favorite sweaters. It's only twenty-one inches long. The Giotto sweater will be 23 7/8" long. Too-short sweaters drive me crazy, so I hope that this will be a happy medium. I look forward to wearing it soon!

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