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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