Happy Solistice

This blog post is brought to you by Mad Men. Not an ad, just what I've been watching for the past day. I bought the season pass from itunes and settled in for several hours of solid viewing as I knit my last Christmas gift for the year. I had a realization while soaking in the tub that five days are not sufficient to knit a lace jacket, even if it is bulky. Lace. Talk about serious denial. So, I marched into work the next day and bought two skeins of Artyarns Silk Rhapsody, a gasp-worthy silk and mohair yarn, to make my grandmother a Clapotis shawl from Knitty. I chose the pale blue and silver color, which looks the way I imagine an invisibility cloak would look if you could see it. Maybe this is another attack of denial. It's a fairly wide scarf, knit on the bias. The pattern is fairly simple, though the rows are littered with stitch markers to keep track of where the dropped stitches will later occur (or, as they say on Cribs, where the magic happens). It's about half done now and my shoulders could use a break from all of this knitting. Yet another excuse to take a long bubble bath.


Through a bit of horse trading, I managed to see Dr. Atomic, the John Adams/Peter Sellars opera, this Friday. One of the customers at the store described it as "Dr. Strangelove to music". I cannot stress enough how wildly inaccurate that statement was! Yes, it's about the dawn of the nuclear era, but there's no learning to love the bomb. I really didn't know what to expect, since I am not the biggest fan of contemporary classical music. It was incredible. Peter Sellars really challenges the audience, but succeeds wildly in creating a truly 21st century opera. I hope that the production finds an audience (there were a *few* empty seats on opening night).

I also traded my day off this week, so I have a real weekend. Joy! Bliss! Sleeping in! This will be followed by the sucker punch of a 9am meeting on Monday, but I'll try not to think about it. So far, I've knit two pairs of slippers and made a dent in the Christmas Card pile. Unfortunately, I've misplaced my little black book and must scramble for a lot of addresses. Maybe I'll have a nice long soak in the tub before attacking anything else.

That will give my computer a chance to download my big itunes purchase. I'm such a sucker for the end of the year lists. They reveal albums you hadn't considered and remind you of ones that you meant to give a chance before. So, I am purchasing a jazz album, a Swedish indie, and a rock album. I really must drive their "Just for You" predictor program crazy. What do you suggest to someone who buys Haydn and Timbaland? Maybe that's why their musical advice is always so off the mark....


Another brilliant concert at the symphony. When I bought the tickets, it was a pig in a poke: no program listed. Still, the annual CSO Brass concert seemed like a good bet. It was. The program included a piece that was played at my grandmother's wedding, one of my favorite pieces, and two encores. I'd heard Pictures at an Exhibition last season (by lingering in the rotunda while I was supposed to be working) played by the whole orchestra, but was totally blown away by the all-brass version. It was breathtaking, especially the Kiev Gate movement. It was so grand. It also gave me another opportunity to hear Christopher Martin, the first trumpet. After the Haydn concerto last month, I would go see him play almost anywhere. He was marvelous today. My grandmother declared him cute. He has an obvious joy for his work and a lot of talent. Who wouldn't find that attractive?
I'm a little sad that I don't have another concert until after my birthday. I may have to buy a couple of single tickets between now and then.
We had our Holiday Party at work this week. It was a real production, involving driving in a snowstorm (old hat for me, but it was the California transplant driving), a case of glogg, two crock pots, two new employees, and a color sale. Naturally, the employees took advantage of the compound discount to stock up on red, blue, green, and white yarns. I bought six skeins of powder blue Manos del Uruguay wool to make the Treeline Striped Cardigan from the Purl Bee. A customer came in recently to put this project together. After seeing their picture, I'm impressed by her imagination. It doesn't look like much in the picture, but all of the finished projects on Ravelry look great. I also got a couple of skeins of Claudia's Handpaints Sportweight to make a pair of cushy socks.
The party was well attended. People came early and stayed until closing. Maybe it was the mulled wine and meatballs, or our sassy good cheer. A miracle that, given how stressful these events can be to get on their feet. Someone spilled wine all over the bathroom, as well as in the corner by the bulky yarn. Since we have a concrete floor, it really soaked in overnight, leaving a big red stain. It looks like we killed somebody! A lot of the guests spoke of making gifts from their yarn purchases. I wish them the best of luck, given the quick approach of December 25th. I am beginning to feel pessimistic about my own projects. To that end, I went to the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair to look for possible presents. I didn't buy any, but I looked at a lot of things. I was restrained. I purchased a necklace from an artist I'd seem before on etsy and amazing blue-green handspun alpaca from one of our favorite customers. She didn't have enough to make a garment, so I bought a few skeins to make the yoke on sweater (with a body made out of commercially milled yarn). It's really gorgeous, just my colors. I wish that I'd taken a picture this morning, when there was some natural light, but I was too busy doing my hair and changing purses.



I went to the opera tonight, for the first time this season. It was Puccini. I love Puccini. I did not love the woman sitting behind me. She rifled through her purse a number of times, quite noisily. At first, I thought that she was unwrapping cough drops, but they don't make that much noise. It was as though she had a handbag full of tissue paper. The only way that it could have been more obnoxious is if she had had a tambourine in there.
When I went to the symphony last week, I sat next to a couple that kept talking to each other during the performance. Since we were seated in the terrace, they were in full view of the rest of the audience as they chatted. I longed to hiss in my poshest fake British accent, "Oh, do shut up!", but I couldn't work up the nerve. This made me wonder when people stopped abiding by those tacit rules of attending events. Don't make noise. Don't wear a half a bottle of perfume. And for god's sake, turn off your cell phone. Then I thought about it for a while and realized that people have never been that perfect, non-distracting/non-disruptive audience. Hell, people used to stroll about and visit during shows until Wagner introduced the practice of dimming the lights in the auditorium during performances. Think what you will about his work, he did have a few good ideas.

Otherwise, things are going well. The end is in sight on one of the Christmas gifts, the pure math cardigan for my grandmother. I didn't use a pattern, but math to make it. I am generally pleased with the outcome, though still a bit nervous about running out of yarn for the sleeves. I am currently working on the first one, using an Addi Lace needle to magic loop it. I can't work on it at work (due to it being Knitpicks yarn) and it's getting a bit big for the commute. Fortunately, there is some sort of Law and Order marathon going for the holiday weekend--perfect knitting television. Perhaps I ought to start working on the #### for my cousin ####. It's a small project, after all, and knit in Koigu. Hmmm. I also have #### to knit for my #### and ####. Yes, I am a big tease. The problem is that too many of the people that I knit for may or may not read this blog and I don't want to get demanding or plaintive emails, text messages, or phone calls about the gifts. I will knit it and you will like it. Or I won't and you'll get a gift card that I bought at 7-11 on my way over to see you. Either way, act surprised.


I was rolling through my morning routine this morning (brush teeth, read blogs, etc) when I saw that Bonne Marie of Chicknits had linked to my blog. I nearly spat out my coffee. Well, I might have done that anyway since I used buttermilk instead of milk this morning out of desperation. I wouldn't recommend it. So, if you're a new reader, welcome. Today I will try to be at my wittiest.

It's been an interesting week at the shop. We've had a fairly international crowd the past few days. Yesterday, a very charming mother-son pair of knitters visited from Australia, with dad in tow. They were delightful and humored me with descriptions of the knitting community down under as I wound their purchases into balls. Later, we had an English couple from London. Zoe steered them to me because I understand the UK/Australian knitting terms (though measuring yarn by weight instead of quoting yardage seems ripe for error). One of these days, I might make a cheat sheet. When I have a bit of free time.

We also had a couple of meetings with our yarn reps. I love these meetings because I am a shameless fiber addict, but I must admit that I can only take so much yarn in one sitting. It's fun looking at all of the new colors and yarns, but after an hour or so I really can't retain any more. I gave in to temptation and ordered a bag of Manos wool to make a Pimlico shrug like the one that Lisa made as a store model. She and I wear it around the store fairly frequently, so I started to think that it might be nice to have one that I can wear wherever.

While I was taking in all of the fiber temptation, I knitted away on one of my Christmas projects. If you see me knitting in the next couple of months, it will either be commissioned work or gifts. Ironically, the project in question is knit up in Knitpicks Shine Worsted, which is sort of like going to Paris and eating at McDonalds. I am making a bed jacket for my grandmother, a top down raglan with seed stitch edging. Since I'm not using a pattern, but working from a mathematical formula, it seemed wise not to break out my prized alpaca. The Shine has a lovely hand, as well as an elegant sheen when knit up, though I really ought not to work on it in the shop.

Nina is having an anniversary sale this weekend. I was momentarily elated when I read their email this morning, until I considered my current fiber state. I am stashed to capacity. I have more yarn than time to knit it. I do not need more yarn. Also, I just ordered a Fleece Artist kit and a kilo of Manos. Damn.

Lately, I've been going through my annual Christmas card buying dilemma. I pretend that I will design them myself, which I've not done since college. This leads to denial and epic shopping searches for the perfect card. I must find a tasteful, elegant card on fairly thick cardstock with plenty of room to write on the inside. And, since I haven't won the lottery, it can't be square. Nothing cute or with glitter on it, preferably a vintage looking picture. No cats and no more Asian motifs because I did that three years in a row. You can see how it could be difficult to find that perfect expression of my personal aesthetic in holiday greeting form, no? Well, I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday, fleeing the cold and reading magazines for free when I found this year's card. It is on heavy but not additional postage weight stock with a white on white design of a dove and the word peace embossed on the cover. Not that lousy silk screen "embossing" but a heavy bruise like you find in letterpress designs. Here's the shocker: they were cheap (like a dollar per card) and Unicef cards. Unicef! When did their cards become so nice? I remember when they were cheap looking and awful and only bleeding hearts bought them, but all of their designs this year are elegant. I snapped up two boxes and another design for older relatives who might be challenged by the white on white design. Apparently, my purchase financed the immunization of 45 children, too. I'm not a buy-crap-for-a-cause fan, but I was happy when I read that on the box.


This is the time of year that I'd really like to spend curled up in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Oh, fall, how you fool me. I love all of the foliage you bring and the return of sweater weather, but why must it be dark at 4.30? Don't you know how much that screws up my circadian rhythm?

Things keep plugging along, despite the near total dependence on artificial light. I'm starting to really rethink my Christmas list, in light of all of the professional knitting and overtime that lays ahead. Please don't be offended, friends and loved ones, if you get a gift card or something purchased in a store. I wish that I could knit magically like those kids in Harry Potter, with the projects dancing around my head. Or that I had enough energy to knit on the train ride home every night. See circadian complaint above.

Other complaints: I got two tickets on my car in Wrigleyville last night. They were both my fault, but it still sucks. I now owe the city of Chicago $80. I know that the city needs money, but I would prefer that it wasn't mine! This finally prompted me to mount my front plate on the bumper where it belongs, instead of letting it rattle around on the dashboard. Remember when my car was stolen? Well, the plate holder/mount took a beating in that incident and I procrastinated about fixing it. Turns out that all it needed was a good shove from the guy at the auto parts place to get the plate into the mount. Now that plate isn't going anywhere and I've got new wiper blades.

I sound so grumpy today, and really I'm not. Maybe I just need a good soak in the tub and an hour of knitting (for me).


Don't count your socks before they're knit!

In spite of my mountain of Christmas knitting, I've taken on another project. Actually, two projects. My grandmother has hinted strongly (boldly stated) her desire for a bed jacket for Christmas and I just happen to have twelve balls of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK in my stash. Oh, and I have some test knitting to do, which is top secret but definitely bigger than socks. Fortunately, I have a job where I can knit, but only with yarn that we sell in the store. Only one of my current projects falls into that category.

Not much else going on. I got called in to sub for three performances this weekend. Since I'd just been there the week before, it was quite fresh in my mind. Also, it's a good knitting show. I finished the back piece of my Gruesa cardigan over the weekend, with a good 90% of that knit at the theatre. I'm really lucky that the sub job fell into my lap. One of my coworkers from the Joffrey recommended me, and it was wonderful working with her in our chosen field. It was a really great work environment all around.

I'm glad to pull yarn from stash for the bed jacket. I really ought to do that more. Most of the yarn in my stash is project-stashed, but some of it was bought on spec (ie, on sale) or I just don't want to make that project anymore. I opened the drawer where most of my stash lives the other day and nearly fell over. I have a lot of yarn. I have a hell of a lot of sock yarn, which is quite funny when you consider how rarely I wear socks! Lisa informed me today that she has a whole box of sock yarn to give me. I may plotz.


I should be knitting

Holy shit. Christmas is less than two months away. It comes at the same time every year, but it still somehow manages to sneak up on me. The holiday goodies are already in at Lush*, but my fingers aren't dancing around any crimbo presents. After last year, I seriously considered giving all my ungrateful people gift certificates to Target (I know that Waldemart would be more degrading, but my resolve to never shop there is strong!). That may still happen for a few of them.
I am trying to be a bit more reasonable this year in my knitting list:
*three pairs of socks (one in sport weight)
*a scarf
*two pairs of slippers
*two pairs of armwarmers

I don't know who I am fooling with those three pairs of socks! I knit fast, but I have to sleep sometime! I actually got to knit a bit of my own project today at work, which was a luxury. Usually, I am too busy with other things, but I whipped out Juliet and stitched away while we had a visit from one of our yarn reps. I've finished three repeats of the lace pattern, but I think that I have three or four more to go.

The windows in my car have decided that they do not want to roll down. I suppose that's better than refusing to go up, but still damned inconvenient. What if I want to go to a drive-up? I wonder if there is some secret child lock that I accidentally tripped or simply a short in the electrical system. See, again, I fool myself--there's nothing simple about a short!

I discovered this little problem while making a mad dash to Lush with Zoe after work. I'm not sure why we wanted to roll down the windows in fifty degree weather, but there it is. We got there in just the nick of time to sniff all of the holiday goodies. I was surprised by my likes and dislikes this year. Twinkle, as last year, is on the top of my list. Love that American Cream scent! I also bought a Holiday Slice, which seems to be Ruby Slippers with a new name. I was disappointed by the other holiday bath bombs. Green Party smelled kind of medicinal and I hate cleaning up all of those little streamers. I was surprised to like one of the holiday jellies, Gold, Frankincense, and Beer. The name says it all, really. It has a wonderful, warm scent similar to the base note of my much beloved bottle of Egoiste.

Off to the needles.....


True or False: Knitting lace while you are sick is a good idea.
Now, I thought that statement was true today, though clearly it is false. The end result? A couple of hours spent with a crochet hook fixing my mistakes followed by a few minutes of frogging. Really, I'm not that upset about it. In fact, I think it's kind of funny that I even tried knitting lace while my brain was stuck in second gear. Fortunately, I am feeling better this evening and am wise enough to put aside that project for another day.
Was anyone else excited to hear that Dumbledore is gay? It doesn't matter at all in the course of the HP story, but that's why I like it. Zoe is of a similar opinion. We've decided to make Dumbledore amigurumis to celebrate. At the rate I am moving, that doll might be done in time for Pride next year. As for the people who are upset about this revelation-- there are far more serious things happening in the world. Are they really willing to overlook "witchcraft" and Christ-like figures but unwilling to accept a friend of Dorothy at Hogwarts? I think it's fabulous. Alert readers may also recall that Dumbledore is a knitter, too. I hope that doesn't offend anyone's delicate sensibilities!


What is that mournful sound I hear? A lone oboe or the plaintive wail of a bassoon? No, that is the sad trumpeting of my nose. I am as sick as a dog with a head cold and totally miserable. Since my breathing is less than genteel, I decided to skip the London Symphony Orchestra concert tonight. I bought the ticket ages ago and am fairly sad about missing their all Beethoven program. Let's hope that things work out better for the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, because my track record this season isn't promising.

I selfishly went to work today, like some kind of Typhoid Mary. I honestly believed that after a couple of good doses of Sudafed, it would be manageable. That was not the case. Instead, I went through about a half a box of Kleenex and couldn't keep up with the usual witty banter. I think that I will take tomorrow off, to lie in bed with the New Yorker and breathe as heavily and noisily as I please!

I've made a fair bit of progress on my Juliet sweater. I did a bit of finagling with the pattern (I believe the technical term is *alterations*), to keep it from being so gappy in the front. I knew this would cause some problems when I reached the lace pattern, but the alterations were close enough to the pattern's stitch count that I do not foresee problems. My Juliet is going to be the one with the lower waist, because the high-high waist is unflattering for anyone with breasts. I still want a bit of an empire waist, so I probably won't follow the "long" instructions to a tee.


For your consideration:

Zoe showed me this clip at work. Because all knitters love Harry Potter.

Not much going on at the moment. Inspired by the French Cafe compilation that keeps spinning in my car stereo, I bought Mathieu Boogaerts' latest album. It's finally available on itunes here in the states! It's really great, but difficult to describe. There are some very interesting things coming out of France these days.

I am also geekily excited about a recent Lush purchase. They just released this year's Charity Pot lotion. Love, love, love. It smells kind of like roses, which is curious since it doesn't contain any. Maybe that's the combination of the ylang-ylang, gardenia, and tagette's oil. My favorite part is the dry finish. It's not drying, like Potion, but dries to a powder finish while still providing moisture to the skin below. This is very important to someone who handles fiber all day and can't have lotion-y hands.

Other geeky excitement: Those with a gimlet eye might spot me in one of the Yarn Con pictures on The Panopticon. I'm the lady wearing a red shirt and an orange hat. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I got a lot of compliments on it, and now I can see why so many would take notice. That is a bold color combination.



I have a lot going on these days. A lot to do and a lot weighing on me. This may require a long soak in the tub and a good cry. For starters, the weather has been pretty blah the last couple of days. I was happy on the first cool day when I could bring out one of my heavy sweaters, but all these grey days are really doing a number on my morale. Fortunately, I'm knitting a lot of bright projects.

My grandmother is in the hospital again. I don't want to go into a lot of details, but I'm pretty emotional about it. It's really hard for me this time because I have some sort of bug and am afraid of giving it to her if I go to visit. Sigh. This definitely calls for a bubble bath.

I went to Yarn Con this weekend. It was the first year, and I think a few kinks still need to be worked out. Overall, it was pretty great. I met some really cool artists, like Jenny the Potter. She makes amazing ceramic buttons and fiber-themed crockery. I bought a skein of really awesome, squishy handspun from Biggie. I think I will make a hat out of it. You can never have too many hats when you live in a cold climate like Chicago!

I finally found suitable sock yarn for the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. That shouldn't have been such a struggle, given my place of employment, but it really helped me to see a group of yarns dyed by one dyer together. I finally decided to use a couple of handpaints from My Small Wonders. One is primarily green, with beautiful veins of lavender through it, and the other tone-on-tone purples. The dyer even asked me to email her a picture of the finished product to put on her etsy page. Very cool.

So many projects, so little time... If only I were coordinated enough to knit in the tub and not end up swimming with wool!


Anyone have a black light? Hendrix poster optional

I returned to the rarefied air at the symphony today, but it was anything but relaxing. I had somehow forgotten that the concert was the same day as the marathon. It was impossible to drive downtown (which I did because the sunday train schedule sucks) and my car nearly overheated from all of that bumper to bumper traffic. I was cranky, and really hot because I had to turn the heat on to cool off my engine. Argh.

The performance itself was quite nice. I heard the piece that I really wanted to hear, the William Tell Overture, and left at intermission. My ulterior motive in attending the concert was to see Riccardo Chailly conduct, as he is rumored to be on the CSO shortlist. Naturally, my seat was behind someone with a giant Charlie Brown head and I had to crane my neck all over the place to see the podium. The performance was as I expected. They played William Tell in an Italian fashion: a bit faster tempo, and a lot more vivace than one might hear from an American company. It was really amazing to hear it in concert.

The party we've been working so hard on at work has come and gone. A good time was had by all. I even fell under the spell of a yarn that I walk past dozens of times a day: Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter. It's silk and can send a knitter into a rhapsodic state. Until now, I've avoided the call of the Clapotis. Maybe now that I want to make one, it's officially over. If you aren't familiar with Kate Gilbert's Clapotis pattern from Knitty, you probably aren't a knitter. It had a success fou a few years back. In that contrary way that I'm sure all of my friends love, I refused to give in to something so popular. Then I tried on the store sample. It looked so French, chic, sophisticated. I felt like I should be drinking a solitary cup of cafe au lait on a rainy night at Cafe de Flore. So, now I'm going to make one. If I like it, I'll make a less dressy one (kind of like Elton John's storied special occasion and everyday tiaras). I'm pretty sure I will like it.

I also succumbed to the lure of sale yarn at Peace Fleece. Even though it's hot as hell right now, soon it will be cold, very cold for months on end. I want to be prepared. I was idly surfing their website when I saw that they're offering $3 skeins of Worsted Georgia Rose. That is a veritable bargain! However, it is marked down because a family of chipmunks tried to nest in it. At least, I assume it was a family and that they didn't meet through craigslist. I guess that the yarn was gnawed on a bit, so I ordered a couple of extra skeins, planning to have to cut out some weak spots. When I told my mom about this, she fanned the flames of my doubt. She suggested that the yarn might contain (ahem) organic materials and told me that I can check the skeins for chipmunk pee with a black light. Since it's not 1975, I don't have one. Maybe this is a bit naive, but I don't think that the wonderful hippies who run Peace Fleece would sell me yarn full of *organic chipmunk materials*. They've been really awesome in the past, so I choose to remain optimistic. We'll see if my cat attacks the box when it arrives in a few days. He's already established a strong dislike for wet alpaca, so I can't imagine that he'd allow eau de chipmunk to go unsniffed.


Lazy day

Today was the perfect day off. I rested. I watched Law and Order reruns. I knitted. I am content.

I went to the local Borders, coupon in hand, to snap up a sock book I've been eyeing for a while, Favorite Socks by Ann Budd. Now that I've got so much sock yarn in my stash, it only makes sense to have patterns other than "plain old sock" at my disposal. Right now, I am working on a couple of socks of my own design. I'm making a pair of socks for Lewis's birthday out of Dream in Color Smooshy, in that questionable Chinatown Apple pictured in a previous post. I am knitting from the toe up (makes the long foot seem more manageable), with twisted stitch cables in an alternating turn pattern. They look really strange flat, but look good on the foot. The other pair also features 2 stitch cables, but without the staggered twists. I am using Lorna's Laces in their new color, Envy. It's shades of green, which I like on paper but not quite in the wool. I'm not sure why. They're a gift.

I also gave knitting advice to my aunt. She's going to knit a top down sweater for my uncle Bill and wanted advice about the yardage required. I felt so useful, like when I was in girl scouts. Most knitters like to help, since we're all a bunch of nerds (or even Harry Potter loving nerds, hee!), so I didn't mind work related questions. I might give her the yarn requirement estimator for Christmas.

If you're one of my Ravelry friends, you might notice that I finally got around to updating my stash. Far fewer yarns without pictures now. So, my day was far less lazy than it would seem.


The Pancatron

This morning, I got out of bed at 6 am. The sun wasn't even up yet. That is very rare for me, but I had good reason: I had a date with the Pancatron. My grandfather is active in the local Kiwanis chapter, so I volunteer to flip pancakes most years at their annual fundraiser, Pancake Day. It's kind of like a revival without the religion. Most people in town attend, and people who have moved away come back to eat pancakes in a big, smoky tent with their neighbors. Most people dress for comfort and look like they've just woken up. The pancatron is an unusual device. It is the griddle upon which massive quantities of pancakes are cooked, as well as a system of conveyor belts that carry the plates of pancakes to the hungry masses. It's like something out of mid-century science fiction, perhaps because it was invented in the 1950s. I almost always flip pancakes. I actually had to wait until I was tall enough to reach the conveyor belt above the griddle (which is still questionable, so I wear my "tall" clogs). What I fail to remember every year is that in cooking the pancakes, I cook myself as well. It was hot as hell over that fire, and I turned about three shades of red. It was enough to elicit comments from strangers, but I was okay. I just needed a long, Lush-filled shower, and a cool drink.

I saw many of my former classmates, and have decided that most of the people who stayed in the suburbs now have children and are unattractive. That seems like a vast generalization, but I was surprised at how, well, suburban they looked. Not that I am a great fashion plate. I also had the pleasure of eating with two generations of female relatives and engaging in plenty of theatre gossip with a former mentor. I had a good time, but now I feel like taking a long, long nap.

Even though I work in a yarn store, I am still excited by the arrival of the fall yarn catalogs. Knitpicks and Webs arrived the same day. I am contemplating purchasing a couple of store patterns from Webs, though I'm not up for any project acquisition at the moment. I did break down and buy some yarn from Knitpicks to make Juliet, from Zephyrstyle. It looks just like a sweater that I admired at Urban Outfitters. I had an attack of knitter's guilt (ie, I can knit that myself) and liberal guilt (I know what causes UO's owner supports with his profits, and I don't want my money going to any of them), so I'll be knitting a knock off in Cadena. This was largely influenced by Knitpicks sending me a free color card for Cadena the last time I ordered needles from them. I also had a good laugh at the Lion Brand catalog. I don't know how I got on their mailing list, as I am unlikely to knit with any of their yarn any time soon. I'm also not in the market for a pompom tree.

In other knitting news, I want to wish Lisa and Willie a hearty congratulations for finally getting their Ravelry invites. Now do you understand what all of the fuss is about?


Doomsday Delayed

Like all things CTA related, the "doomsday" fare hikes and service cuts have been delayed. I'm a cynic, so I believe that it will happen in November, in spite of all the funding patches and hot air coming out of Springfield.

I'm a little less cynical about things in my personal life these days. I recently managed to buy three pairs of pants without killing anyone. I've been booking gigs lately, which is a great way to get out of a funk.

I worked a load-in the other day for a touring show. It reminded me of why I don't work at a roadhouse. I was called for sound, but most of what I did involved moving platforms, taping things to the ground, etc. General stagehand stuff. I wasn't expecting to do engineering or anything, since it was a load in. Let's just say I've been spoiled by sit-downs and resident gigs. I don't think I'll do any more calls at that house.

Also job related--I quit my job at the tony cultural institution. It wasn't in a huff. There was no "take this job and shove it" speech. It was bittersweet, like high school graduation. I miss my coworkers there, but it was really time for me to move on. Fortunately, I had a really awesome job lined up elsewhere--a yarn shop! When I got the call, it was all I could do not to run out of my office screaming like someone whose name has just been called on The Price is Right. I'd been job shopping for a while and feeling a little down about it. I just finished my first week there and I really enjoy it. It's retail, but not like that cosmetics job I had before. I don't feel like some kind of evil yarn pusher (just an enabler. hee!).


For the past several months, for unknown reasons, a trade journal has been emailing me their monthly newsletter. Calling them a trade journal is really generous, actually, since the magazine used to be the in-house for a student theatre organization. They're really trying to market themselves to industry professionals, and this apparently includes sending me lots of emails. Every time that I have received one, I have requested to be removed from their list. Every time, the unsubscribe message has bounced back to me. Argh. This time, I actually looked at the address in the link and saw that it was wrong. Now, I don't think that the people in question are clever enough to deliberately do that, and you'll see why later in the story. After several months of their community theatre level crap, I was pretty pissed. I went to their website and emailed the web admin, using strong words. This prompted three further messages from them, suggesting that the messages were being forwarded to me. Anyone that knows me knows better. I emailed back, explaining the faulty email address in their unsubscribe link. Today, I got an email about my *faculty* email address. You can imagine the post office sigh I let out when I read that email. It looks like I'll have to block all email from them with my spam blocker. Reading their crap is cutting into my Ravelry time!


Doomsday Nears

I don't mean to sound like one of the crazy people who preach about the end of the world in the park. I'm referring to the CTA doomsday, which is set to come down this upcoming Sunday. I took the bus today and got a memo from the president of the CTA, along with a list of all of the cuts that will be made. It's all too depressing. See my previous post for political rant on this subject. Why isn't public transportation treated seriously in this country? I understand the American love affair with the car, the size of the country (in comparison to little European states), etc., but this seems really unreasonable. Why is public transport the redheaded stepchild of our infrastructure?

I'm also cranky because I faced some train delays today, wholly unrelated to the CTA. One of the Metra trains hit a car, and the power had to be cut off to extract the car from the tracks (and presumably the driver). This caused a big backlog during late rush hour. Fortunately, I wasn't in a hurry and had my Picovoli to work on. Ha. The Picovoli is turning out to be a real pain in the ass. First I accidentally made a moebius strip, then I messed up the waist shaping. I decided to knit without a net and boldly attacked the sleeves without a pattern or any kind of schematics. This, in retrospect, was a mistake. My first clue should have been when my mother said that it had never occurred to her to knit a sleeve that way. I decided to do short rows to turn the very short cap sleeve/very wide strap into a breezy flutter sleeve. I proceeded to go about this in exactly the wrong way. This also involved two rows of single crochet to stabilize the edge. The outcome is ug-o-lee, and when I have the energy, I will tear it out. I was in such denial as I was working on it that I even declared a love for the look of the crocheted edge. I don't think I even fooled myself with that one!

I made a little list of all of my sock yarn while I was bored today. I am a woman obsessed. I can safely say that I do not need to buy any more sock yarn for a while. Fortunately, I missed the Loopy Ewe's sneak-up today (I was at work, without internet access), therefore avoiding the temptation to stash any more fiber. I have a shipment of two "hiatus" colors from Socks that Rock, and then I am truly done. This time I meant it. Check out my Flickr button to see the sock yarns in my collection.


Don't Worry. It really pisses me off when people say that to me, because it can be so condescending. Like, don't worry your pretty little head about some valid concern that you have. I'm a worrier, okay? There have been a couple of instances when I've been told not to worry recently at work and it has me very worried. Worried about looking for a new job. No, I don't think that I'll get fired (touch wood), but I've been thinking about moving on for a while now. It's all such a drag that I want to pull the covers up over my head and only come out for issues of the New Yorker or yarn.

Speaking of yarn, my stash is out of control. It has taken on ridiculous proportions. The main reason for this is Stitches, aka when Kirstin bought enough yarn for the whole year. There have also been things bought on the interweb. I got in a wee bit of trouble when three packages showed up in one day. In my defense, only two were yarn. I've got to go on a yarn diet and I'm serious this time. I know, you've heard it before. If you had a peak at my stash on Ravelry, though, you'd understand the reason for my consternation.

I also recently declared a no new projects policy, then quickly broke it. So, I'm adding some fine print. Socks don't count. I finished my Jitterbug socks and quickly started on a pair of socks in Dream in Color Smooshy yarn. The label says that it is Chinatown Apple color, but much *internet research* leads me to believe that it's Strange Harvest. I'm thinking of giving the resulting socks to a friend. I've really got to befriend more people with small feet! I'm on a real sock binge at the moment, so I think the sock exemption is necessary. This might be as successful as my "smoking in Europe or while drunk does not count" policy, but we'll see.

Today, I was watching the travel channel and knitting, when a program about Stockholm came on. I really had no idea that Sweden was so beautiful! That comment probably has the Norwegian ancestors spinning in their graves, but Stockholm seems much lovelier than I'd expected. It probably doesn't hurt that they shot the program in the summer. So, Scandinavia goes on my mental travel list. I've already seen the ancestral home in England, so maybe I should learn more about the other places in the family tree.

All the while, I worked on the Picovoli. It's almost done, and I cannot tell you what a relief that is. If I had to tear anything else out of this yarn, it would have turned to permanent yarn ramen. It's good yarn, and not a hard pattern. I think it just needed a bit more attention that I gave it. For example, I noticed that the shaping in the back is wonky. Not lumpy or zigzagged, but the darts both run in the same direction instead of being mirrored. At this point, I really don't care. Yarn abuse? Maybe. I am making an artful ribbed edging around the hem so that it doesn't roll up and make a donut around my waist. I'm also going to crochet around the neckline to stabilize it, and make little sleeves. I tried it on today to assess the length and was really pleased with the sweater. It is very similar to a t-shirt, but somehow looks more sophisticated. That's probably the sheen of the cotton and tencel blend yarn.

Not everything has been a drag lately. I won at bingo again. I gave most of my winnings away, keeping a little stash of Smarties for myself, and giving Bianca a pair of light up glasses. They could easily go from library to rave and look implausibly good on her. Who knew that yellow plastic novelty glasses could look good?

The next day, I was off to brunch with Lisa and the Loopy anniversary party. There was quite the turnout at the party. Knitters can't resist a sale that also features free wine and cake. There were a lot of other Ravelry peeps there, as well as Franklin. I can't believe that he isn't on Ravelry yet, especially considering that his blog has its own Ravelry fan group. Franklin was fairly busy with his 1,000 Knitters shoot, but I had a chance to talk to him for a while. He even remembered me from the yarn tasting at the start of the summer, which gave me a dorky thrill. If you don't read the Panopticon, I highly recommend it. I spent most of the evening sitting in front of a wall of Manos del Uruguay. It sounds like a wallflower move, but I got to talk to a lot of people. You see, I was sitting next to the wine.

I didn't drink any of the wine, but I was still exhausted the next day at work. Did you know that I work Saturday mornings? Or that I am not a morning person? Too much partying the last couple of days really drained my battery. Maybe it was a yarn fumes hangover. I can't party like a rock star anymore.



No, not my stepmother. The ancient Greek. I'm going through a Penelope cycle. That Picovoli pullover that I've been knitting off and on for weeks? Well, I was almost done with the waist shaping when I realized that I'd screwed up my row count on the decreases. I knit a lot of rows that I didn't need to there, and made a very gradual waist. That's no good.
Feeling disgusted by the Picovoli, I decided to knit my Jitterbug socks for a while instead. I'm on the second sock, which is known to be difficult. My difficulty? I dropped a stitch while doing the short row heel. For non-knitting readers, that is very bad. Even worse? I didn't notice until I finished the heel. Well, there's an hour plus of knitting torn out in a minute. I'm not really ticked about it, though. I just need to pay closer attention to what I'm doing. Every third row does not mean every fourth, and all of those stitches are in the heel for a reason.
I'm having a bit of an off day. The workmen painting the house finally returned, so they're making lots of noise outside. Who knew that painting was so noisy? And I can't curl up with a book or take one of my infamous naps because I am blocking a sweater on my bed. It is damp and smells like a wet dog. At least Winston hasn't attacked it or lain down upon it this time... maybe I should go check.



I've had a rough time lately. Nothing horrible has happened; it's more like death from a thousand cuts. I'm not doing as well as I'd like at work and it's taking an emotional toll. Maybe I am a real idealist to believe that there should be something fulfilling in one's job. Must be the theatre background talking. Well, I'm not feeling all warm and fuzzy these days, and it's wearing me out and wearing me down.

It's not just the job. I've been in denial about it, but I got an email from the CTA on Wednesday about the service cuts and fee hikes slated to happen in less than two weeks. I'm not hugely dependent on the CTA, but it still upsets me. Basically, the system in a shambles. Dirty old stations, constant track delays, trains moving at a walking pace, etc. They are trying to improve things, like making stations on the Brown line ADA compliant, but the CTA is still a disgrace. Now they're facing serious funding cuts, which translates to service cuts AND higher fees. Let's look at this problem from a couple of different angles. A) This will unfairly burden the city's poor population. The service cuts will affect them the most, and the increased cost will hurt their pockets more. B) This will cause more people to drive. As if traffic in Chicago wasn't bad enough already, more people will just drive when CTA service becomes impractical/inconvenient. Where will all of these people park? How will increased traffic impact traffic control in the Loop (ie, how much more will the City have to spend on traffic cops)? C) This is bad for the environment. That statement must seem laughable to anyone who has been stuck behind a CTA bus, but it is true. All those extra drivers on the road, circling the streets for parking spots that don't exist, will burn more fossil fuel, directly impacting the air quality in the city. I know that the EPA is more concerned with the "particulate matter" coming from the chocolate factory on the west side. I don't mind inhaling chocolate. I have a problem with smog.
I don't want to drive everywhere. I cannot. I can't afford to park in the loop all the time, or buy all that gas. I like to ride on the train and read the New Yorker or knit. There are a lot of places that I go that have no practical parking, take forever to reach by road, etc and I don't want to stop going to them. So, I really hope that the politicians in Springfield get their act together as far as the RTA funding is concerned. That's my political rant for August.

Nothing new on the knitting front. I jotted down a list of my stash and stashed projects while I was bored and nearly had an anxiety attack. My stash is not small, but it's not responsible for part of the GDP of Scotland, either. I looked at the list and felt that I would never knit all these things. Self-imposed knitting guilt. That stash freakout was really about my feelings of not having any free time. I'm used to having unstructured time and my time is pretty structured these days. I get up, I go to work, then come home too tired to do anything. So my sense of accomplishment is fairly low these days.

Good things that have happened lately: I sold a design to an LYS. It's for a hemp exfoliating washcloth, with a pocket to hold a bar of soap. Totally adorable, and an affordable project, since you can make two from a single skein of Allhemp6. If you're interested, email me and I'll give you the details.
I smoked a Cuban cigar for the first time this week. Yes, I'm a scofflaw. Well, maybe not, since I did not purchase or transport the cigar. I only smoked it and it was fantastic.
I'm making some headway on my Picovoli sweater. I just finished the waist decreases. I think that I will add a couple of extra increase rows later to give it a bit of flounce. This project is a bit of an experiment. I'm dipping my toe into the pond of design by making modifications in my work. I also have a modified bolero planned (modified into a full length jacket, with increases worked in lace pattern. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.), as well as some simple original ideas.
A couple of friends and I are planning a Stash Enhancing Expedition in the next couple of weeks. My stash is pretty enhanced at the moment, but I'm the sucker with a car. So, not everything is bad, it's just hard to focus on the good. I guess I'll have to take another long soak in the tub with some lavender.


I've had a pretty full summer. This evening, I went to my second concert in Millennium Park of the summer. It was incredible. I need nights like this every once and a while to recharge my battery. The program was the Chicago Dancing Festival. I'd never heard of it until I read a little notice in the paper yesterday about the concert. Several major dance companies were involved, including the Joffrey, ABT, Alvin Ailey, and San Francisco Ballet. The Joffrey danced one of their signature pieces, Light Rain. It felt longish, but was very well danced. I'd seen archival recordings of the piece, but never seen it live. Now I understand why it's one of the old warhorses of the company.

I was absolutely blown away by Ballet Florida. I was a little puzzled by their inclusion in the program until I saw them dance. WOW. They danced a Lar Lubovitch piece that I'd never seen before, Elemental Brubeck. I love Brubeck and became a Lubovitch fan tonight. The solo reminded me a bit of Jerome Robbins's work in the 60s. The soloist, Rory Hohenstein, possessed the ease, fluidity, and grace of Gene Kelly, as well as incredible athleticism. I believe he was on loan from the San Francisco Ballet. I wonder how Mr. Hohenstein performs classical ballet. He danced with SF as well, but their Concerto Grosso (by Helgi Tomasson) was another modern piece. I guess I'll just have to see them again. They were absolutely stellar, completely reinforcing all of the excellent things I'd heard about them. How lucky those San Franciscans are, with their ballet, symphony, and opera companies!

Even though I have a fairly full season planned with all of my operas, I think that I'll through some dance into the mix. I don't know why I have to keep discovering dance as a part of my entertainment sphere. Maybe because I wasn't raised with it.

In addition to all of this cultural enrichment, I've been reading all of the new knitting magazines. It's time to start thinking about woolly sweaters, apparently. The first to arrive was Vogue Knitting. Their anniversary issue was very glossy, but I was not inspired to knit any of the projects. The articles were excellent, but I think of knitting magazines as the fiber equivalent to Playboy: I don't buy them for the articles. The Fall Interweave was already sold out when I headed down to Loopy to scoop up a copy. They were all sold the afternoon that they arrived! I love all of the cables, as well as the simple red cardigan in moss stitch. Cast On and Knitters arrived today. Cast On was a total bust. I like the Weekend Gem, but the sizing is wonky and frankly not worth resizing. Knitter's was much better. There's a great article about multi-generational family yarn companies. I learned about Colinette's history. The only pattern that I would consider knitting from the magazine is Copperplate Raglan, a cabled cardigan with portrait neckline designed by Deborah Newton. I question the amount of ease in the pattern, since it's not the kind of cardigan you'd wear over something. Well, that's what decreases are for. It's not as though I'm going to get a ticket from the Knitting Police for making mods to the pattern.


I've been neglecting this blog shamelessly to play with Ravelry and feed my fiber addiction. Exciting stuff. It's hard to explain how great Ravelry is to people who can't try it out for themselves (you have to be invited to be a beta-tester at this point). It really appeals to people who like to make lists. It's really great for networking, looking at other people's projects, etc.

For example, I met an excellent dyer at Stitches Midwest last week. Her work is really amazing, she is a lot of fun, and she goes to my alma mater. We talked for fifteen minutes at the show and later connected via Ravelry. Now, I can see the yarn and roving that she's dyeing, what other people are making with her stuff, and buy the things that I regretted leaving at the store. I'll add a link later. Back in the old days, all of this would have required endless emailing, websearches, or paper catalogs.

Stitches was amazing, as always. It's an annual knitting convention (though crocheters won't be treated like lepers), featuring classes and loads of shopping opportunities. I acquired a lot of fiber. When I say a lot, I mean enough to feel the burn in my forearm the next day from lugging it around. I hadn't felt that in a long time! I prepared a list of projects I want to make and the pertinent yarn details, with the help of my Ravelry queue, and did pretty well. Webs had a well stocked booth of many things on markdown. Yarn on sale around knitters is like blood in the water near sharks. Fortunately, these were polite, midwestern knitters, so there was no trampling, elbowing, or pushiness. I bought some beautiful, pale aqua tweed yarn to make an cabled cardigan. If you look at my Flickr badge in the sidebar, you can see some of my haul.

I feel ready for big woolly jumpers, cardigans, and cables. In other words, I'm ready for autumn. Today was cool enough to wear a sweater, so I wore my current favorite, a green wool hooded pullover with moss stitch detail and cable panels on the body and sleeves. I got loads of compliments and even one inquiry about my pricing on knitwear. They seemed shocked when I named my price. Later, the designer that I assist told me that I've been underpricing my work, so I can only imagine the look a fair price would have gotten!

I'm also on a sock kick again (or at least a sock yarn buying kick). I think this is because of my recently acquired toe up skills. It's pretty neat! My desire to make socks is a little silly considering how rarely I wear them. I certainly wish that I'd worn some today. I got caught in a downpour while wearing a pair of Birki Superclogs. If you've never seen them, I should explain: they're plastic with a cork liner. The cork liner got wet and went squish, squish, squish as I walked. The damp plastic against the top of my foot wasn't too hot either. I've heard that this is less of a problem with Crocs, but I just can't wear them. I need arch support. My feet have gotten really spoiled after a few years of Danskos and I just can't go back to non-supportive shoes. As a result, my shoe wardrobe is basically clogs and Docs.

Well, I feel a bit better about blogging now. It's been on the to-do list for a while. I got out my old laptop to stream a movie from Netflix. I'm a Mac user and they don't support Mac (even with flip4mac, it says my system won't support it). So, I powered up my laptop and prepared to lounge in bed with, say, Sense and Sensibility. Small snag: Netflix doesn't support my Windows OS either. Now, I know that Mac users aren't as numerous as Windows users, though a lot of people are making the switch. Mac users are early adopters. We could really get behing something like Netflix streaming video service if they'd support it for us. I could really get behind it if it didn't want me to upgrade my Windows OS to XP. That simply is not going to happen.


This property is condemned

I am a total Ravelry addict now. That is the official excuse for the lack of updates lately. Also, I've been living my life. Going out with friends, having a dinner party, the odd drink after work. All of those things that keep you away from the keyboard.

It is beastly hot now. That comes as no surprise, since it's August in the Northern Hemisphere, but the humidity is just cruel. It's not the weather for knitting big woolly jumpers, but I am knitting with a bulky wool yarn. It's an AC project; I don't want to felt while I knit with my sweaty hands. Through the miracle of Ravelry, I've come across the work of an English designer, Ysolde Teague. I am currently knitting her Cloud Bolero, a cropped cap sleeve jacket with Feather and Fan lace pattern, in RYC Soft Tweed. Knitting lace in bulky yarn is kind of like using the fat crayons in kindergarten, but that's what I need. I've come to lace later than many knitters of my cohort, due to sheer laziness. All of that counting feels too much like work. But lace is so pretty, and sometimes easier than it looks. So, I am venturing cautiously in the world of intermediate to advanced knitting.

What does the title mean, you wonder. It's a Tennessee Williams play, but I use it in reference to several recent knitting disasters. There was the recent disappointment with the Summertime Tunic. It looked so pretty in the coral cotton blend yarn, but the circular needles hid an ugly secret: it was very, very big. Laughably so when I tried it on. At least I would have laughed if I hadn't been so pissed at myself for the big math error. I tore it out and recycled the yarn into Picovoli, a fitted tee pattern to which I planned to add cap sleeves. I managed to get all the way through the raglan seam (from the top down) before realizing that I had twisted the knitting when joining it in the round. I knit a 4" wide moebius strip! After some inward cursing, I tore it out too. The yarn is in the time out corner. I'd like to believe that it isn't really bad, that rehabilitation is possible, but I will wait until attempting anything else with it.

Also lousy lately: a short row heel for a sock. I've done it a few times to get it right. I presented it for approval and it was torn out because the foot was too long. I had the turn almost finished when I dropped a stitch and the whole damn thing came apart. I did the sensible thing and switched to a different project for a while. I worked on another sock, in Jitterbug, and finally saw the short row light. The wraps were so much easier to see in the multicolor variegation! Then I went back to the original, single tone sock and bossed that heel around. I'm going to present it for approval tomorrow, so I remain cautiously optimistic.

Life seems full of reversals at the moment. Yesterday, I wanted to quit my job and today I was on a roll. The project that seemed written in a foreign language seems perfectly obvious after a night of sleep. A baby gift feared too small for the intended infants turned out to be comically large. (Babies are small, especially twins. They'll grow into the kimonos.) Everything eventually works itself out, even the two screws in my tire.

Freud believed that collecting or hoarding something was a sign of sexual frustration. He was a big cokehead and clearly not a knitter. I have a big stash of wool, alpaca, and cotton yarns just waiting for me to get around to knitting them. Lots of projects in the queue. Still, I continue to succumb to the call for more yarn, namely the annual Stitches Midwest expo this weekend. It's amazing. I learned to knit stranded colorwork there in under five minutes. It is full of opportunities to adopt many, many poor, homeless fibers. I'm making a list of yarn needed for earmarked projects (thanks to Ravelry), but know that there will inevitably be impulse purchases as well.


I had, as my boss put it, a Harry Potter weekend. I stayed up insanely late on Friday to read the book. The late part was aided by my long wait at the bookstore. That isn't a complaint; I had a good time with the other hardy souls waiting in line. I even got to use some of my Borders Rewards towards my purchase. Whoo-hoo! So, I've read the book and am almost done re-reading it. I read very quickly, but often re-read for detail. I won't post any spoilers, but I was sad that one of my favorite characters (somewhat minor) was killed off.
So, after the luxurious three day weekend,I headed back to work this morning. There is a new girl who is working on a show with one of my Goodman friends, and it turns out that she and I did a show together but never met. Crazy. I had been thinking about that show because I saw another production of it at a local theatre. The production values were low, low, low, but they had a lot of heart. Basically no design concept and some damn big dark spots on stage, but my expectations were low. It did remind me how much I liked the show, after all of the negativity surrounding the Chicago production.
I got my hair cut on Friday. I really needed it. I don't like having hair stuck to the nape of my neck in the heat. Since my hair is short now, after soooo many years of wearing it long, a ponytail isn't an option. It is cut in a graduated bob, with the longest layer curling under my jawline. Very flapperish. Actually, it really looks like the haircut that so many of the sorority girls had when I was in college, but didn't have the nerve to do with my nearly waist-length hair. Why I wanted hair like Jan Brady, I do not recall. I gradually cut it back. When you've got long hair, no one really notices when you chop off 6", because it's still long. Until you get above the shoulder. If I'd planned properly, I could have donated my hair to some little bald girl with cancer. I didn't, and the tranferrence of split ends was averted. The assistant manager at work called my hair sassy today. I don't know how I feel about that. I'll post a pic after I hair model tomorrow and you can judge for yourself.
Speaking of sassy, do you remember the magazine Sassy? I loved it, in a way that I've loved no other magazine, not even the New Yorker or Bitch. It rocked, back in the day. Then it was bought out by Teen magazine and died a horrible, change of editorial staff, death. Most of the people from Sassy went on to Jane magazine. Jane really wanted to be a grown-up Sassy, and for a while it was. Then it began to suck. A lot. If I want to look at $500 dresses and jackets with prices "upon request", I'll read Vogue, thank you. And the virginity auction? Desperate on so many levels. I wasn't too sad, then, when I read that Jane is folding after this month. A lot of people stopped reading after Jane Pratt left (and perhaps before) and it never really lived up to its Sassy heritage. Oh, well.


Some douchebag put a flier on my windshield today. From across the lot, it looked like a ticket, which is not funny. Closer inspection revealed that it was political material for Ron Paul for President. I don't really know much about the Republican field (despite driving a Buick Century. The pro-choice bumper sticker should have been a clue.), so I read it while waiting for an extremely long train to cross. Ron Paul is against the UN. He's also endorsed by Gun Owners of America and the Right to Life Committee. There's also a picture of him with Ronald Reagan: a youngish looking Reagan and an old looking Ron Paul. Oh, and he's against the UN, but apparently pro-litter, as I doubt many of the other commuters did more than tear it off their vehicles and throw the flier on the ground. In, short: Ron Paul, you are not getting my vote. I'm a single issue voter (and you're on the other side), have never voted Republican, and would like to elect a president under the age of seventy. Oh, and don't put anything else on my car.

In less cranky news, my invitation to Ravelry finally arrived! Yay!!! I stayed up way too late playing with it last night and had to will myself to get out of bed and go to work this morning. One of my coworkers, referring to my changing shifts, asked me today if I like getting up in the morning. My answer was a concise 'no'. Look for me on Ravelry. My screen name is soundknitter and my profile is a work in progress.

This weekend is going to be hard to prioritize. I've got to finish my mom's birthday present (knitted, of course), go to my friend's opening night, and read the new Harry Potter. I wasn't planning to go see the show until my friend sent me an email about it. I've seen the show on Broadway and worked on a big production of it in Chicago, so I'm not falling over myself to go see it at an LOA theatre. I like to think of myself as a good friend, though, so I'll go. It has high camp potential.


I had a really lousy day today. I was harassed by a homeless man while getting my first coffee of the day (*DON'T INTERRUPT THE COFFEE*), felt lousy enough at work to leave early and therefore worry about getting a lecture about skiving off, and fell down the stairs at the train station and skinned my knee and palm. When it rains it pours, but at least I didn't do a face plant on concrete. My knee really effin' hurts. I had forgotten about that, since it's probably been a decade or more since my last skinned knee. So I am feeling a little self-pitying and cranky.
The Ravelry gods (god and goddess?) have put in a new feature for short attention span types like me. You can now check your position in the waiting list through the website, instead of sending imploring emails. I was a bit optimistic in thinking that I'd get in this week, though not far off the mark. They sent invites out to people who registered on or before May 28th. I registered on the 30th. There are 477 people in line ahead of me, but I don't think it will be long. I can't remember being this excited about an invitation since I got my first college acceptance letter. Is that geek chic?
In addition to all of the other goings-on, knit wise, I have started a new project of my own design. It's small, so I refuse to feel guilty. I'm making a soap case that folds out into an exfoliating washcloth, in a lovely shade of green hemp. There are a few things that I wish I had planned better, but not worth tearing it out over. I've also been paging through my old Phildar magazines for inspiration. God, are cable patterns confusing in French! There are a couple of things that I'd like to make, one of which looks like Thermal by Laura Chau, only larger gauge and with lacy yarnovers. The directions really made me think that it really is easier to do cables instead of fake cables, but I'm sure if I took the time to chart it, it wouldn't be so bad. Because I really need more to knit :)


This was the week that I did not get my invite from Ravelry, despite repeated checking of email in-boxes. I felt fairly optimistic on Sunday, but that feeling has dissipated. Fortunately, I've had a few other things to do.
I won a round of bingo at Roscoe's last night. I think it may have been the first time that I've ever won at bingo and I was a bit surprised. I was a bit drunk, thanks to the special on pitchers of apple martinis, which makes it harder to watch your card. My whole table was a group of girl-drink drunks. I won a fuzzy die (not a pair of dice) for my vehicle and a pair of blue pom poms that remind me of Fraggle Rock. A good time was had by all.
My order from Amazon arrived today. No books with plots, alas, but I'm kind of off fiction at the moment. This is not to say that I won't be standing in line like a fool to get my new Harry Potter next week. I will. Today, I got Tracey Ullman's book, a ho-hum book of quick projects called Speed Knitting, and The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicholson. I may curl up early with a book instead of the usual tv and knitting marathon.
I also made a yarn pilgrimage this week. A bit of unexpected free time presented itself, so I headed out to Chix with Stix in Forest Park. It's a charming yarn shop with lots of natural light and Colinette yarn. That was the primary reason for the trip (secondary reason: green tea ice cream at the place next door), since Chix is the only store in the Chicago area that carries Colinette's new sock yarn, Jitterbug. I exercised some self control and only purchased two skeins. Due to the shitty exchange rate (thanks, Bush administration!), there's no longer a price advantage in having it shipped over from the UK.
My hours are changing at work, so I may be a little hard to reach for the next week. Even though it will call for a major shift in my sleep patterns (ugh), I am optimistic. I really think that working during the day will help me to get out of my sales rut. And I won't have to ask for time off to go to concerts in the park, friends' shows, etc. I'll just have to get up and go to work the morning after.


Back in my day...

I just spent an evening with my cousins, Annie and Kathy, whom I see about every 7 years or so. I'd forgotten how cool they are. They're both out of high school now and are really excited and passionate about lots of things in their lives. Katherine is going to a theatre conservatory school in the fall and we talked about it all night. I'm really excited for her. It makes me remember that point in my life. I guess that college does that for older people. I remember the wistful looks and odd remarks that my mom's friends made when I went off to school. One of them told me that college was the best time in her life. I'm not sure that I would say that. Maybe the best time of my life is still ahead of me. That's the fodder for late night thoughts.

I feel a little guilty about the Ravelry whinge in my last post. I await that invite like a kid awaits Christmas. Really, I'm not ticked about the wait. You probably know how impatient I am, if you've been reading my blog for a while (or know me in real life). I follow the comings and going of my mailman almost obsessively when I'm expecting a package. It turns out that that is actually prudent, given his lackadaisical approach to his job. I blame this expectation of instant gratification on the internet. This seems random, I know, but follow me here: You can buy and download an album in like five minutes from the itunes store, find the answer to just about any question online in far less time than a trip through the library stacks takes, and connect with the world in a way that just didn't exist five or ten years ago. I say five because I went to school pre-facebook. All of my networking involved awkward questions in close vicinity to a keg, like "what's your major?" and pretentious jokes about theatre. Things used to take longer, and people were okay with that. We didn't have expectations of things happening instantly. I checked in over at the Ravelry blog, where the most recent post responds to impatient complaints. I felt guilty as I read it, as though I had been the person who sent them some mysterious, hateful, impatient email. I didn't, but I'm a pisces. They predict sending invites out to people who registered before May 28th this week. I think that includes me! Yay! I might disappear for a little while when I get my invite, because I hear that Ravelry is addictive (in a good way). Thank god I can't read my email at work, or I'd probably get fired for stalking my inbox for the invite.


Today is the last day of the Taste. What a relief! There's something about the Taste that brings out my inner hater, I guess. I just want my regular commute back. Maybe in addition to the family car on the trains, they should have a curmudgeons' car. It would be full of people quietly reading-- no loud music leaks, cell phone conversations, random conversations that amount to me giving a total stranger thirty minutes of free therapy, etc. I'd be there, happily reading the New Yorker and listening to weird Japanese ambient music.

There have been some bright spots. Last week, I was riding home, tired, bored, and knitting as usual, in a train full of boisterous people. They were drunk but happy, unlike my July 3rd ride from hell. I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard some of the revelers saying, hey, hey, hey. Oh, shit, I thought, and steeled myself for the usual taunts. "Knit me a scarf," said one of the kids in the gallery. Sigh. Why do non-knitters think that is funny? Then, one of the guys clarified: "We're not making fun of you. What you're doing is different." I smiled, having never received a literal shout out for my knitting. "Let's give big props to the single mom downstairs." he continued. What the fuck? I wasn't traveling with a small child and I'm not knocked up. Do I have a really mumsy look or something, I thought. Then I realized, it's the knitting. The old knitting stereotype. Why would some young, chic single gal want to knit (in public of all places) unless there was a kid involved?

For many, many years, I avoided knitting in pastels for fear of situations like this. That is, until the recent pastel explosion chez Kirstin. Colors come in cycles, of course. Maybe it's a seasonal thing. That, or I'm finally working more colors into my wardrobe. Look, there's even coral, which is as close to orange as I get! The coral is being used in Interweave Knits' Summertime Tunic, which was the "baby" project I was knitting on the train. There's a free pdf of the pattern on their website, if you're interested/curious. I've made tons of progress on it this week, mostly due to determined knitting on the train. The other yarns are all alpacas. If you look closely, you can spot a cartoonish alpaca on one of the ball bands.

I've made a couple of baby sweaters recently for actual babies that do not belong to me. That is how I like it. I will admit that I got a little emotional when I put them together. They're just so small and cute (like the tiny people involved). I'm angling for the crazy aunt slot in this equation: the one who isn't really a relative, but is cool and spoils the kids with presents of questionable appropriateness. You might also note that neither sweater is pastel. The twins are the offspring of costume designers, so I have to bring my A game. The sweaters are an adaptation of the kimonos in Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies book, made in RYC Cashsoft yarn. Only a crazy aunt would give babies cashmere sweaters, right? Totally washable cashmere blend, not totally impractical!

The 4th was fantastic. I went to two barbecues, one of which featured many, many fireworks. Their neighbors must have spent thousands of dollars on their explosives. They were big, loud, and impressive. It was a great evening. The bottle of Gew├╝rztraminer that I bought at the Co-op turned out to be really good. It was a total pig in a poke, as I'm not really up on German wines, so its quality was a pleasant surprise. My hostess, Shannon, has just discovered the sheer joy of backstage knitting and proudly showed me her projects. It made me nostalgic for a time when I could knit at work. She's already started work on her Christmas presents. Did you guess that she's a stage manager? This put my mind spinning about my own present drawer, now sadly empty. Typically, I being my Christmas knitting in September. My family isn't as large as the Waltons, but that's still cutting it close. Inspired by Shannon's ability to plan ahead, I decided to get cracking myself. Once the books I ordered from Amazon arrive, I'll be in business. I had planned to buy from the LYS, but when I found Knit 2 Together for $5 new, I couldn't resist! I may email a few (female) family members soon about sizing, favorite colors, etc., but try to forget between now and Christmas. Or at least look surprised, eh?

I've been waiting patiently for my Ravelry invite. Well, as patiently as possible. They've compared it to the Gmail invites, but since I got a very early Gmail invite from Blogger, it doesn't really translate for me. While I wait for that exclusive invite to arrive in my inbox, I've been looking at Craftster instead. I could easily become a Craftster addict. This is one of the ways that the internet has really revolutionized knitting. I can see projects that people made in Japan, read about modifications that other people made and weird pattern errata. I've added a couple of projects to the mental list after seeing FOs on Craftster. If I were on Ravelry, I could add them to an actual queue, but that will have to wait.


Saturday morning I had to rise from my extremely cozy bed at 8 am to go to work. That is a struggle on the best of days, but very difficult after being kept awake by the blaring bass beats coming from next door until 2.30 am. I honestly contemplated calling the police, which I rally don't want to do. It's a square thing to do, and it would be fairly obvious who called. But 2.30, neighbor? Not cool. I had a lot of coffee on the train (full of people unused to riding public transportation, sigh) and managed to get to work only ten minutes late. Those ten minutes caused by the great slow moving mass of people inching towards the Taste of Chicago. Taste brings everyone out of the woodwork. Or, as my coworker put it, all sorts of people who walk down the street as though they've never walked on pavement. It's all pretty quotidian for me now, so I must take the crowds in stride. Slow, short stride.
Fortunately, I have a few other things to think about. My knitting for example. I may be a convert to the socks on circs method. I really dig it. I used to scoff, saying why fix what isn't broken (double point needles), not wanting to buy loads of long circular needles. I still cast a doubtful eye on the two circs method. That's a lot of cash, buying all of those Addi lace needles! I wish that I could post a pic to illustrate this method, but I've promised not to post any in-progress photos of the supersocks. Trade secrets and all.
Yesterday, I went to the big sale at my favorite LYS. A number of popular, excellent yarns were 40% off. When I got there around 2.30, it looked like a monkey had been loose in the store. The pima silk yarn that I wanted was greatly diminished, and there was much diving into bins to root out additional balls of a given color. In the end, I bought enough alpaca yarn to make a short-sleeved polo shirt, a lacy tank and matching shrug, and a few "just in case" balls for the 4C alpaca cardigan. Fortunately, I had parked quasi-legally right in front of the store and didn't have to carry my purchases very far. When I say quasi-legally, I mean illegally. In Chicago, most on-street parking is free or becomes legal on Sundays. I actually parked in a no parking ever zone, along with a few other hardy souls counting on the CPD being otherwise occupied. Sure enough, no tickets, clamps, or tow trucks--thanks to crowd control staffing over at the Taste.
My mother also just gave me ten balls of Baby Alpaca Grande, in a kind of lemon-lime color. It's fabulous yarn, and an incredibly generous gift. Basically, she gave me enough yarn to make a cardigan. A big, cozy, green cardigan. So, I officially do not need any more yarn or projects for a while. Here's a list of things in the knitting queue (I refuse to disclose the contents of my stash, for fear of being hauled away to a round room):
*the baby sweaters (really, almost done. just sewing at this point)
*the ubersocks
*summertime tunic from Interweave Knits, in a soft, coral color. I'd like to be able to wear it at least once this summer.
* slip-stitch tank from Fitted Knits, in a rich purple color. Again, a summer garment.
And many, many more. I'll just have to be a knitting ostrich for a while and work on projects I've already stashed. Pics to follow soon.


Ambitious Plans Foiled by Arrival of New Issue of The New Yorker

I meant to go into work early today. Then the New Yorker came in the mail. I had to read it straightaway, because if you fall behind on your New Yorkers, there is no catching up. Also, the handymen that were supposed to arrive at "nine-ish" showed up around 12:15. That's one hell of an "ish". So, I didn't accomplish all of the things that I wanted today, but I got to read urbane prose. Today was a slow day at work, so I doubt a couple of extra hours would have gotten me very far. Maybe it was the storm and all of its moodiness.

I ran into an old acquaintance the other day, which was slightly awkward. She was as condescending as ever, saying "I thought you were going to go into theatre," and other such gems. She also went on to comment on my current employer, stating she'd tried to get a job there and they wouldn't hire her. Oh, where to begin. Don't get me wrong, I can be a priss at times too. I had truly forgotten the slow burn that her remarks cause. Further complicating matters: I saw here while she was applying at a business where I spend a lot of time (no hints, sorry). I really think that I would spend less time there were they to hire her, and therefore less money. That, or I'll have to practice my rejoinders. "You enjoy being critical, don't you?" usually shuts people down.

I don't mean to sound like such a misanthrope. I was pretty amazed the other day by a Good Samaritan. Apparently, I left my monthly pass on the train and someone found it, turned it in to Lost and Found, and called me. I hadn't even realized that it was missing yet. So, not everyone out there is a crumb.

I, unfortunately, have been knitting in denial. This is one type of denial so deep that it is rarely shared with a therapist. I worked and worked feverishly on the sock on the train, at Ravinia, in front of the telly. On some level, I knew that it was a little, em, baggy, but I soldiered on. I had to pull it all out. Okay, a setback, but not a major one. I cast on again, ignoring the ramen-like crimps in the recycled yarn. Well, they show in the knitted fabric, so I had to tear it out again. At that point, I really wasn't up to attacking it again, so I put the sock aside and worked on the languishing baby sweaters. Tomorrow is another day, after all.


B-11, Betty Grable!

It's been a busy week. My social life is on the upswing again, which is a nice feeling. Don't get me wrong, I long for another lazy weekend spent knitting in front of a Law and Order marathon. I've just got too much going on. I've been struggling to find a good life/work balance lately. It's funny that this is more of a problem with just one job than it was with two.
So, this past week, I spent more time working on my textiles gig (technically a second job, but one of those loose, freelance things). It's really good, because Lisa, my designer, and I can just hang while we work. We even do non-work related things, like Drag Queen Bingo.
I should explain: you do not win a drag queen, not do you have to be one to play. The callers are a pair of queens, who were drunk, sassy, and took about a half an hour a round to get through the game. I had an excellent time. The Sam Adams rep was there raffling off an ipod, so I drank a lot more Sam Adams than I normally would (none), but still didn't win the ipod. I got pretty wasted for the princely sum of $4, as one of the other players kept refilling our pints to keep us from buying more. He didn't win either. Hee.
I also went to Ravinia again this weekend to see my favorite band play. I got there really early, thanks to the totally inconvenient train schedule and staked out a really good spot at the front of the lawn. Then I knit. We must have been a funny picture, knitting on the lawn while people around us danced, did weird drunk things, and generally grooved. It was an excellent concert, but Pink Martini always is. Afterwards, I managed to get some shut eye on the train, using my picnic blanket as a pillow, without getting locked in. It was a long day.
When I bought the tickets, I didn't realize that the concert was the same day as the Pride Parade. I should know when Pride is, because it's the same time every year like Thanksgiving, but I blanked on it. So last week, I had to explain at least a dozen times that I wasn't doing anything for Pride, like I was a bad fag hag or something (or queen bee, fruit fly, gay princess, etc.). During the jazz concert, many people were dancing on the verge between the pavilion and the lawn. Some danced well, others just enthusiastic. Jenny pointed out a very touching couple, who turned out to be a pair of lesbians. They were very sweet, and as I watched them, I felt like I'd seen Pride this year.


Is that thunder, or are they moving the dumpster in the alley?

I meant to blog yesterday, but there was a very dramatic thunderstorm preventing me from firing up the mac.
I had the most amazing time at Ravinia with James on Sunday. At first, I was irritated. There were some absolute boors who forced me to move my carefully staked out blanket twice. Because everyone needs eight lawn chairs, three tables, and four blankets when they go to a concert. So, there I was glaring wildly, enjoying the cicada free park and cool breezes. Oh, and a bottle of shiraz-cabernet, a little rotisserie chicken, and some green bean salad. We had a spread on our humble blanket. Seu Jorge, the opening act (and who I really wanted to see), was fantastic. I'd seen him live before at a much more intimate venue, but it was nice to hear him again in a more chill atmosphere. Cesaria Evora I could take or leave. James had such a great time that he returned from a trip to the bathroom with a season booklet to pick out his next concert.
He was surprised, as was I, at how painless it is to get up there. It seems like the back of beyond from the south side, but really isn't that bad by train. We might put together a little group to go see Rufus Wainwright at the end of the summer. I am definitely going back on Sunday to see my favorite band, Pink Martini with Arturo Sandoval. I've seen them twice before, but never so close to home.
Thank god the weather has decided to cool off a bit. I am really not a hot weather person. Most pale people aren't. I don't like to sweat while being still. It was even warm enough in the house to make my block of Jungle melty. My precious conditioner was quickly popped in the fridge, though I currently reek of it. I melted a little chunk of it in hot water and applied a disgusting amount to my hair as a deep conditioner/hair experiment.
The baby sweaters I have so swiftly knitted are at a standstill. They are a yarn eating project. The yarn consumed defies all expectations, that is the amount called for in the pattern. I even had *extra* yardage, I thought. Poo. I'll have to trot off to the LYS again tomorrow morning before heading into work.
Not that I'll get a ton of knitting done, since my boss asked me to work double my number of contracted hours this week. I usually work more than the number in my contract, since I think that is technically the minimum. This week, I have to squeeze twice into one less day, as I called in sick on Monday. I can certainly use the money, but these long days seem like a marathon. Now, I realize that I sound like a big whiner. Other people routinely work much longer days, but how many of them have a screwy internal clock and stay awake until three am? My body wants to work a theatre gig again, I guess. I'll have to get on that.


Bring Your Trombone Sir

I had a two LYS day yesterday. I had a store credit at the first one. I like that store; it's like an art gallery for yarn. Everything is very beautifully presented, but it's still not my favorite. I feel guilty when I cheat on my "real" LYS, especially since the assistant manager told me not to cheat on her. She was half joking at the time and we were a little drunk. So, I was on a mission for yarn for baby sweaters. There was a time, until quite recently, when I wouldn't be caught dead knitting baby things. Now that Lisa has babies, I'm like the crazy aunt. So, at LYS #1, I wisely used my credit on some RYC Cashsoft. It's cashmere! It's machine washable! What else could you want?

At LYS #2, I paid a visit to my designer to talk shop. She's awesome and definitely the reason why the store rocks. I was weak. More yarn followed me home. My justification follows: it's a birthday present. A birthday present that has to be knit in secret.

I went to Wendy's after work the other night, because I was hungry and shameless. The drive-through was closed, so I had to ask about it when I went in. Mysteriously, the service was just as slow if not slower when I went in. Just proves my theory that all the stoners work the night shift. Apparently, someone drove the wrong way through the drive-through and repeated drove into the wall. Now, I don't know how badly they fucked up that person's order, but I must suspect that they did something to piss them off. Oh, and there was probably booze involved too. I had to laugh, since it's the sort of thing that would end up in News of the Weird, "Man Attempts to Drive Through Drive Thru Window". Hee.

Work is, well, work. I think at least once a day that I wish I had a job where I could knit at work. Oh, right, I'm a test knitter. Let me rephrase that; I wish that I could knit at my real job, but that clearly would make my boss's head explode. Not much going on. Today, I heard one o my coworkers talking on the phone about the "Duh-jango" Reinhardt festival and died a little death inside. Not in the French meaning of the phrase. I should have corrected her, but couldn't think of a way to do it without being condescending or bitchy. I guess I could have said something along the lines of 'did you know that Django Reinhardt is the only jazz musician with two silent Ds in his name?'. Oh, and he rocks.

I finally broke down and bought the Jamiroquai partial album that I've been eying on itunes lately. Damn those partial albums. They're just a scam to charge more. I was pleased to see that they've released the Traveling Wilburys' album on itunes, since it's so hard to find. Then I saw the price. Sure, it's probably worth it, but I find the real appeal of itunes to be the lower bottom line.

Clearly, I needed a little funk in my life, because that Jamiroquai album really hit the spot on the way into work today. I really need to bring the energy when I'm working long hours. Sadly, the SFW standards for music are pretty stringent in the office, so no funk, electronica/ambient, indie Canadian singer/songwriters, etc. As a result, I was ready to crawl under the desk and take a nap around 7pm. My circadian rhythm is such a mess right now that I'm having that 4 pm slump three hours later than everyone else.


The Great Escape

My cat, Winston, decided to make a break for it this morning. He was chasing a moth when he bounded out the back door for parts unknown. Naturally, he did this very early in the morning. After about twenty minutes of searching (and a technical B&E in a neighbor's garage which a similar cat was seen entering), I found him placidly exploring the rear property line. That is the only place in the yard where poison ivy grows, so naturally he would gravitate there and refuse to budge. Once he was finally separated from his itchy nest, he was hustled into the laundry tub for a thorough bath. My veterinarian reports that cats cannot get poison ivy, but he could lovingly give it to us with all the oils on his fur. Even though I jumped in the shower after handling him, I feel a little itchy. All over. Now, you probably know that I have a terminal case of hypochondria, so who knows. Just in case, I used a calamine based soap. Winston, now dry and napping in his perch, seems largely unaffected by this whole drama, other than his fur going in all different directions. Maybe he's trying out a punk look.
After dealing with all this excitement, I lay back in bed and looked at my cell phone, trying to gauge just how ticked I should be about the earliness of the hour. There was a text message waiting from Lisa, announcing the arrival of her twins very early this morning. Ironically enough, they were born while I was knitting their sweaters. She had a boy and a girl, through natural childbirth and even used the word huzzah in her announcement text. That is just one example of how kickass Lisa is.


I finished my adapted cardigan in time to wear to my knitting meeting. Yes, I am now a part-time professional knitter. I am really, really excited about this. Got a couple of compliments on the malabrigo cardigan, which I love but would definitely change if I were to make another. The buttonhole is too low and I wish that I'd put in a couple of increases below the waist. It's not awful or anything. I really like it, but I naturally have a critical eye for my own work.

Lisa, the designer for whom I am knitting, is incredibly awesome. We hung out for a few hours and she showed me her portfolio and other artwork. She has a record player. That wins some major points in my book. I can't really talk about what I am making for her, but it is fantastic.
I am almost finished with the Tomato sweater. I slid a piece of waste yarn into the neck ribbing and tried it on last night. I really, really like it. I might make the sleeves shorter than the pattern calls for, as they are about the length that I want now, when I haven't touched them at all.

As I no longer need a major influx of black and white garments to my wardrobe, I am doing a bit of stash assessment. I don't think that I will make a scoop du jour in white after all. It just doesn't inspire me and white isn't a very practical color for me. The other planned projects are okay, but I think that I will shuffle the list a bit. Obviously, professional knitting (on a tight deadline) moves to the top of the list. After that, I think summery things with color.

I'll have to knit from my stash for a while. Yes, I know that I pledged to do that back in January, but that lasted as well as all those times that I quit smoking. Like that odd cigarette allowed when drinking, I found myself giving into temptation and going to the LYS. I stopped by the old employer to pick up my last paycheck on Friday. When they canned me, I asked them to mail my check, as I firmly intended to never set foot in their establishment again. Then I thought about how bad my boss is about those things and my desire to actually have my money. So, I called the store and asked them to hold onto my check behind the counter. When I stopped by, my ex-boss sassily informed me that she'd already popped it in the mail. Somehow, I'd forgotten that she's a full-time bitch. Now, I have to wait for the infamously slow Chicago postal system to bring my check.


My armpits are under the weather in addition to being under my arms. I've been using natural deodorant lately. I really like it. It smells nice, has a great texture, powder finish, actually works, etc. There's one small problem: it's killing the skin under my arms. My skin changed color. It peeled off like a snake shedding its skin. It is red and cranky. This is not good. So, I worked up the nerve to head back to the store to return it, where I had to tell this tale of woe to a couple of the employees. I even wore a tank top in case they wanted a visual (or to scare off other customers? hmm). They took it back after a long consultation and some paperwork. I got some facial cleanser in exchange. In the meantime, I think that I will stick to the drugstore deodorants. Sure, I think that aluminum salts are bad, but so are fiery pits.

I finished the modified cardigan, made from the same pattern as Erica's wedding jacket. It went very quickly and used less yarn than I expected. A pleasant surprise. I'll post a picture (possibly with me in it) once I've put the button on it. My enthusiasm always wanes when it comes to all the fiddly little elements of finishing a project. Fortunately, the weather has been cool enough lately to still wear a few knitted garments. I might actually get to wear the cardigan before it gets put away for the summer.

I had a fantastic time at James's birthday bar crawl, even though I did very little crawling myself. We started off at one of my favorite diners in town. I'm not really sure why it is one of my faves, since the service is terribly slow. Force of habit and good location? The perfect start to a night of boozing is a stack of pancakes, friends. Later, we hit one of the dozens of gay bars in Boystown, which was surprisingly slow. No, that was because I had to leave early to catch the last commuter train. I missed out on the shower contest and had a couple of hi-byes with friends I hadn't seen in ages. Oh well. I had a great time, and my presents (and presence) were appreciated. James even left me a five minute voicemail raving about the soap that I gave him. That's love.

I also went to central post office today. Normally, this is something that really tries my patience, so I procrastinated until I had several parcels to ship. This time, I decided to be more zen. It will take however long it will take, and letting out big post office sighs does not speed things along. That attitude went a long way, and my wait seemed briefer than usual. To my surprise, I learned that it is almost always cheaper to send things priority mail. That really appealed to my inner cheapskate, so my friends will be receiving their care packages sooner than they might have otherwise. That may or may not mean you, but keep an eye on the old mailbox just in case.

One of the packages was not headed for happy-funtime. I recently ordered some Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk yarn in an online sale. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head, but there it is. It was on sale, I was weak, I had a pattern that "needed" yarn, validation, blah, blah, blah. Now, this story is mostly my fault. The yarn looked red on the website, red like the two skeins I already have. Some of that probably has to do with my monitor calibrations, but I also looked at it on a couple other monitors, where the pic looked definitely tomato colored, if not red. When it arrived in the mail, it was pumpkin colored. I was surprised. I am really not an orange person and can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I have worn the color, so I called the store. As I really hate the color (their words, not mine. I was nothing but sleepy when they returned my call), they are making an exception and letting me exchange a sale item. I chalk this up to the store's general awesomeness and my extremely charming phone voice. At least, that's what one of my clients told me today. Hee.

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