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.

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