Glad to see I'm not the only romantic out there.


Maybe it's all the moving about of yarn or the presence of a new roommate, but Winston has been all over the place the last few days. He jumped on top of my highboy dresser, sending assorted jewelery flying to the ground, and breaking a pair of unrepairable hoop earrings. He keeps meowing and pawing at the closed door to the room where he used to nap in the afternoon. Winston is unaware that not everyone wants to sleep in a cat's nest. Then, this afternoon, I came home and found him poised to jump off of the high shelf in my closet. I suspect if I had not intervened, he would have knocked the monitor off my desk. It's also unclear how he got up there, since he's a lazy jumper.
In other news, my destash is off to a good start, but I still have twenty items available. Here is a flickr badge of the available yarns:


This is a Flickr badge showing items in a set called destash '10. Make your own badge here.

Please have a peek at my destash page on Ravelry and PM me if you have any questions.


Shitty shit of the week

And it's only Tuesday!
Last night, I was hanging out at my aunt Maria's house. I said my goodbyes, all the while thinking about how much I wanted to make a McDonalds run. Access denied, by my adorable car and it's bad starter. At first, I thought that I needed a jump, so I called AAA. They sent some guys who checked the battery (fine), then couldn't even find the starter in my engine to give it a tap. I was unimpressed, but I couldn't find it either until I looked at the engine diagram later.
The mechanics where I had the car towed quickly diagnosed it as a bad starter. I was really hoping for a bad fuse or relay. Apparently, VW starters are expensive, because this whole shenanigan cost me over five hundred bucks and a lot of shoe leather.
I am having a destash on Ravelry to help defray the costs of the starter. For fellow ravelers, this is the link to my sell/trade page: linky.
Here's a little preview of the yarns in search of a good home:

 Cherry Tree Hill Silk & Merino DK, going for a cool $16 (including shipping within the US) for the pair. Perfect for a Clapotis or other fanciness.
 A single skein of Malabrigo Lace in Damask Rose, for $9.
Beautiful, soft, and lots of yardage. I used another skein of this to make a Citron, which turned out wonderfully.

 Seven balls of Rowan 4 Ply Cotton, for $24.
A very sophisticated ashes of violet sort of color. This yarn would be perfect for making an Orangina.

 Five balls of Second Time Cotton, for $25. Perfect for a Hey, Teach!

 Three balls of Malabrigo Worsted in Orchid, for $24
The photograph really doesn't do the depth of this color justice. So very pretty in person.

I've got loads of other yarns in the destash as well. Please have a look. You might find something perfect for those last-minute gifts that always strike this time of year!


To the few people who actually read this blog, I apologize. I've been living my life instead of writing about it. It wasn't for lack of material, certainly, but sometimes it is better to wait until things are over to write about them.

I spent the last few months working on one of my dream shows. Everyone working in theatre has a list of shows they'd like to do, but rarely have the privilege of working on one of them. Back in August, I ticked the first one of my list: Sunday in the Park with George, by Stephen Sondheim. I adore Sondheim, but especially that show. It has so much to say about art, creation, and relationships. If you're not familiar, ask a theatre person. They will respond with enthusiasm.

It was my first time mixing Sondheim, and it was fucking difficult. Until about halfway through the run, I had to read fifty pages of piano score in the dark to hit all my marks in one of the numbers. I hadn't read a score since high school. Art isn't easy, to quote the show, but all that hard work was exhilarating. Ideally, mixing should always be like that, since it requires using both sides of the brain, but some shows are just work. Sunday rarely felt like work (except for matinees, which I find unnatural), and the end result was so, so beautiful.

Right on the heels of Sunday, I went into tech on another show. It was my first time designing a show (instead of engineering or associate designing) in a very long time. There are some very interesting differences between engineering and designing. Designers have to think about the show much more closely, but they also get to leave the production when it opens. That is an itch I get on some productions when engineering, though I enjoy mixing shows too. I'd like to design more; I have a few new tricks up my sleeve. This was my first design using QLab. I'd run shows with it before, but never programmed in it. SFX seems more popular, perhaps since it will run on a Windows platform. I vastly prefer QLab now, even the stripped down free version. How far we've come from the days when changes in the design required a trip back to the studio!

On the knitting front, I have finished two cardigans in Peace Fleece, started and abandoned a couple of accessory projects, and have a polo shirt for my grandmother (who does not use the internet and has no great affection for computers) half finished. The first Peace Fleece sweater is an adaptation of the popular Zephyr Knits pattern, 28thirty. The pattern is for a cropped jacket, but as a short person, I do not do cropped anything. I extended it to a cozy, ass-covering length. Upon the advice of another knitter, I also re-engineered the sleeves, which as written would accommodate the Hulk's biceps. It quickly became my favorite sweater. The rustic Peace Fleece is the perfect weight for autumn, making a very cozy fabric. I am trying to choose garments that are more sophisticated and less cozy (well, less cozy-looking), but this cardigan is a win in both categories. One of these days, I may even sew on its buttons.

The second Peace Fleece cardigan is their Everyday Cardigan, in a lovely light aqua tweed. This is the second time I've knit this pattern. It was the first cardigan I ever knit, which lasted many years until it was loved to death. Also, styles have changed a bit since the turn of the century, and its short length left me tugging at its hem absently. Everyday Cardigan 2.0 is longer. It was curious making two Peace Fleece projects back to back. The yarn is a hard-wearing wool, which is to say, a little scratchy to work with. Some colors are scratchier than others. The pink that I used for the adapted 28thirty has a great hand and didn't need to be softened up in the blocking process. Maybe because it came from a store of yarn in which chipmunks made a nest while the Peace Fleecers were in Russia for the summer. The aqua tweed was untouched by rodent pals and a bit rougher. I've no doubt it will relax a bit in its initial bath, allowing the mohair content to bloom.

I've decided to take a break from Peace Fleece for a while, though I have enough stashed for another two cardigans. I'd like to make things that cannot be described as serviceable or hardy. So, I dipped into my stash again and pulled out some Dream in Color Classy that I bought at a seconds sale a few years back. I am knitting Hannah Fettig's Effortless Cardigan, which I suspect will be stylish and cozy. For those of you who can't access the Ravelry link (sorry), it's a top down raglan cardigan that can be worn crossed, a la Diane von Furstenburg, or left open in a devil-may-car Eileen Fisher fashion. Readers, if I had the cash, I would live in Eileen Fisher. The yarn is veil dyed in shades of grey, so I imagine the finished sweater will be worn to the theatre a lot. I've just put all the sleeve stitches onto holders--always a relief when knitting from the top down. Still, those rows of plain old stockinette are very long.


I've been working for weeks on a sweater knit at 5 1/2 stitches to the inch. That's not super tiny, but I usually knit worsted weight sweaters more suitable to my wintry climate. That gauge in a sweater, especially in plain stockinette in the round, seems torturous and dull. When I got up this morning, I thought, I'm going to finish that motherfucking sweater today. And I did. It has no hanger appeal, despite having a charming inset lace panel at the neckline. Until I picked up a mind-numbing number of stitches around the neckline, it gaped in a most unpromising manner. And it looked like I was knitting a sack. It did not inspire me to keep at it, especially with my Singer calling my name from the dining room table. Sewing! You don't have to make the fabric when you sew! And you get to use gadgets! What's not to love?

Aside from weaving in a few ends and blocking, the sweater is done. It actually looks cute on, which was a big relief. If it turned out to be ugly or unflattering, I probably would have had a meltdown.  I've got another boring stockinette WIP to whip into shape. I've been neglecting it because the yarn was dyed with real indigo, which loves to transfer to my hands and anything I touch, like some kind of smurf herpes. That sweater has to be knit monogamously, which is not my modus operandi. I like to bounce back and forth between a couple things, so that I am less likely to get bored. Usually, I have a pair of socks going, but that didn't seem like enough contrast in gauge to provide relief from the small gauge sweater. How people knit sweaters out of sock yarn, I do not know.


Here I am, after a two month absence. And really, I'm typing to avoid the temptation of working on my current project, a flat panel v-neck tank with ribbed sides in Allhemp6. Hemp is a wondrous fiber, but it also really hurts my hands to knit with it for long periods. I like to knit for long periods and want to get that tank done in time to wear it this year, so that is a bit of a problem. The yarn is pretty stiff and a little splitty, which made my cabled cast-on a real headache. After twice (!) making accident mobius strips after using a long tail cast-on, I decided to take the time and extra effort not to fuck it up a third time. The temptation to throw it in the corner in disgust was great, except I'm trying to keep my house fairly neat (or at least not a ridiculous mess, it's all relative).
This is my second recent project in hemp. The first was a shawl made out of Hempathy, which is a hemp blend. The other fibers and its ply structure make it a lot easier to work with than the 100% hemp on my needles now. It might have spoiled regular hemp for me. Allhemp6 is supposed to be a DK weight yarn, but I cannot imagine knitting it such a tight gauge. I'm knitting it at 4.75 stitches to the inch, with no complaints about the look of the fabric. Still, it will probably be a while before I break out the rest of the hemp in my stash.

In other news, I recently discovered that my cat is an excellent birder. Not by catching a bird, thank god, but through his tenacious attack on houseflies. Songbirds, you are lucky that Winston is not allowed outside, or you'd have to flee for your lives! A month or so ago, I had the Orkin man out to attack my carpenter ant problem. They were quite active in my house, thanks to the renovation work. I suspect the Orkin treatment also killed my resident spider population. Spiders are not my favorite houseguest, but they keep the fly population in check. Now, there is only a twelve pound tabby who achieves surprising height and hang time in his jumps. He's very accurate too. Winston is a terrible mouser (never actually killing the mouse), so it's good to see that he has some hunting skills. I may still have to get some flypaper, though.



Magic House Shit

We've been very busy these last few weeks. The bathroom is a bathroom again, all the rooms have new flooring, and the kitchen is basically finished.
The bathroom may be my favorite room in the house. While the walls were down, the guys put in paper faced insulation, so there isn't any noise transmitted. The toilet was rebuilt, so that it no longer aggravates me by running forever after flushing. There's also a new, non-grody medicine cabinet set into the wall, soon to be joined by another storage cabinet over the john. Lewis had a stroke of genius and used the natural stone, yellow '60s California Casual subway tiles I bought last year at ReStore (for a dollar a piece!) as the border with a neutral wall tile. We'd planned to use it on the backsplash in the kitchen, but it's shown to much better of effect in bathroom.

You might recall that we had to take the walls down to remove the old tub. Well, the headache was totally worth it, since we replaced it with a soaking tub and European shower head. It's absolutely amazing. The slope of the tub walls is just perfect for reclining lazily. I've noticed that the plastic tub doesn't hold heat as well as the old cast iron one, but it also isn't so goddamn cold when you first get in. Maybe we should have slid some insulation in between its walls, but there wasn't any provision for doing so.

The bathroom balances out the other remodeling heartbreaks. I decided the ceiling fan in the kitchen had to go. When Lewis took it down, we discovered that the reason the fan has rocked and looked like it might fly off and guillotine us all was that it was not hanging from a rafter after all. And the reason that one of the sockets kept burning through light bulbs turned out to be a major wiring problem, not a short in the fixture as previously assumed. A couple of years ago, my aunt Maria found an awesome local electrician who is now rewiring the entire house. I knew the wiring was bad enough that I didn't want to replace any more switches or outlets, but I didn't understand the scope of the shittiness. The electrician seemed genuinely surprised that a couple of my outlets worked. Soon, all of my outlets will be grounded, the light fixtures replaced, and flickering gone.

The biggest change in the house has been the flooring. Lewis laid real ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom, replacing execrable vinyl flooring. The dander and allergy fortress/carpet was torn up. The original tile lurked underneath, and it was a bitch to tear up. All of the houses in my area were built in a hurry in the 1950s on the cheap, so the tile was a real gem: black and white acetate tile that suggested an orthodontist's office or chiropractor. To say that I am glad that it is gone is an understatement. Removing it was very labor intensive, involving a long handled floor scraper that Lewis tells me was designed for breaking ice off of sidewalks, swearing, and buckets of sweat.

Further complicating matters is this:

Lewis went home for a couple of days and came back with this cast and his husband Ricardo to make up for his limited mobility. This is a good injury for a knitter, but a nightmare for a contractor. The doctors refused to give him a walking cast, which is a major drag. We thought it was just a break in his foot, but it turns out that his ankle, which has felt "funny" is also broken. He's talking about a "spider cast" right now and drawing lines in soapstone on his black fiberglass cast where he'd like to vent it. He has some really great power tools, so it might happen.

If you peer closely at that photo, you might notice the new floor. It's a light oak laminate from IKEA, a total steal at $1.25 a square foot. It's so much nicer than the old flooring and it makes my bright green living room look less jarring. The realtor who walked through a few weeks ago called the color "trouble", but I find it restful and clarifying, like clary sage. The lighter floor makes a huge difference in the look and feel of the house.

I look forward to being able to set up my new den. The old one was a den of iniquity with lots of hand me down furniture, too many bookcases, and a clusterfuck of cables. The new den will be an empowered space for creation, with lots of storage for yarn, a red desk, art on the wall, and an extremely comfortable futon. I'm sitting on the newest addition to the den now, a booger green yoga ball (pictured above) that I picked up for $10 to use as a chair. My Uncle Roy has been using one as his desk chair for ages. Anything to quit slumping in front of the computer! I do not want a dowager's hump.


My House and its Magical Powers for Shit

Please note: for the foreseeable future, this blog will feature renovation related content. Knitting just isn't isn't happening in the middle of this mess.

It all began when I couldn't flush the toilet. The tank would take so long to fill, that it was only possible to flush once, maybe twice a day. A temporary and depressing solution, throwing buckets of water down the toilet to force it to flush, was used until I realized that I essentially had an indoor outhouse. One day, I called my good friend Lewis in tears over the state of the bathroom. He agreed to help. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into then, or he might not have volunteered so quickly. What started as a two hour plumbing fix grew in scope to include the entire house.
As most of you already know, my esteemed grandparents died last summer. For the first six months, I felt unmoored. Then, I resolved to get the fuck out of this place. It doesn't make sense to stay anymore, when its biggest attraction was being able to walk to their house. Far, far away it is. And that means selling the house. And unless it was going to be sold as a gut rehab, work would have to be done. There isn't a huge market for houses with a disreputable air.

At the outset of this undertaking, we planned the following improvements:

  • complete remodel of the bathroom
  • new floor in the kitchen
  • laminate flooring throughout
About halfway through, this has telescoped into:
  • moving a wall
  • new cabinets, countertop, and sink in the kitchen
  • paint, paint everywhere
  • more plumbing than can be discussed in mixed company
  • mysterious plans for the laundry room that are currently unknown to me
  • walling over a door
  • replacing all the windows
  • the clerks at Home Depot not only recognizing me, but asking if we liked the movie we'd discussed renting a few days before (Pineapple Express. Awesome.)


Sorry for the radio silence. I've been totally entranced by my new toy, a Roku, recently acquired with birthday cash. My good pal Meghan got one a couple months ago and has been singing its praises. I vaguely remembered when the Roku was launched as a Netflix box a few years ago, before they released the new, lower price-point model. Now I understand what the big fuss is about. If you have Netflix and eighty bucks, I strongly suggest that you check out the Roku. I can stream Netflix on my television now, allowing me to lounge on the couch instead of slumping in front of my steam-powered PC. I spent the first weekend I had it watching BBC programs obsessively. Pure bliss.

This has also done great things for my knitting output. I finally made the Wicked pullover for which I stashed three balls of Dream in Color Classy two years ago. It's a great pattern, likely to be repeated. My grandmother and aunt complemented me on it today when I wore it to brunch. The real secret of great knitwear is that it can look great and feel like an old sweatshirt at the same time. The DiC is a bit stiffer than the Malabrigo Wicked that I made over the holidays, but I haven't had a chance to wash and block it yet. Maybe it will soften up a bit.

Currently on the needles is another project that had languished in my queue. A year ago, I bought a couple skeins of Blue Moon Worsted Wear to make a Wicked. Now, I realize that a variegated yarn is all wrong for that pattern and am making another Summer Top Down Cardigan. What makes is summery? Short sleeves, though my previous interpretation of this pattern in some Noro yarn has long sleeves. We'll see how far the yarn will go.

In other knitting news, I tore out the February Lady Sweater I was working on. I love the pattern, but I think that a garter stitch yoke is inherently unflattering on anyone with a large chest. Or maybe just that garter stitch yoke, since its edge hit me in a really odd place. Too bad, since it has a lovely lace pattern. Now I must decide what to do with six skeins of Malabrigo Worsted yarn. I am considering Wendy Bernard's Favorite Cardigan, a cardigan-ized version of the Wicked (see? obsessed!), or a Top Down Wrap Cardigan. The last on the list would be super cozy, but I am concerned about pilling caused by the wrap action. Malabrigo pills like a mo-fo in stockinette! Such is the price of softness.


The first Shamrock Shake of the year! Strangely fancy this year, but that whipped cream and maraschino cherry do not hide its minty goodness (or that it matches my living room walls). Even though they can be a little disgusting, I love Shamrock Shakes because they're only available around my birthday. After I saw a crazy, all-green display in the windows of Hollywood Mirror today, I realized that it was shamrock season. McDonalds sucked me in yet again.


I'm Tired, So Tired

Remember all that talk about redoing my house over the summer. Well, after poring over design sites, IKEA catalogs, and paint chips, Phase I has begun. Lewis and Ariel were here last week to work on the living room and the hall. Afterwards, I needed a week to recover. I now have a new couch, chair, shelving, chandelier, and china cabinet.

The china cabinet and chandelier were real finds. I really had no idea where to find a china cabinet, as it seems an old-fashioned piece of furniture. Most of the cabinets available today did not meet my standards: too big, too modern, too expensive. Also, my dishes are large, so I need one that can accomodate eleven inch plates and look good doing it. Ideally, I'd find the perfect one at a flea market, something shabby, chic, and French. I don't go to flea markets, so that seemed an unlikely find. Two days before I had to hand over my mom's china cabinet (which is lovely, but too big for my living room), I found the perfect solution. Lewis and I were at the local ReStore, a great resource for renovation supplies, when I found the china cabinet of my dreams. It's about six feet tall, in golden oak, with elegant details but not excessive ornamentation. My china looks charming in it, as though they were meant to be together, and there is plenty of storage underneath for linens and serving pieces. I could have swooned when I saw it. The best part? It only cost $140! A total steal!

The chandelier was another lucky find. I had to return some shelving to Target, when I spotted the chandelier in one of the carts they keep in customer service for returns. Whoever returned it must have had it for a while, because I later found that it was released in 2008. My expectations for lighting fixtures are about as high as those for china cabinets, so you can imagine how happy I was to snap up a floral chandelier for ten dollars. It has a white enamel finish, with pale pink flowers, and three bulbs. It looks lovely with my black and white floral curtains, but could look just as nice with my painted bedroom set.

The biggest change, though, is the color of the room. Before, it was a sort of colonial blue, which had become kind of sad looking. Now it is a spring green of medium saturation, the sort of color that art directors of independent films love. I call it Zooey Deschanel green. It turned out brighter than I expected, but will look great once I've hung some art and mirrors. With the china cabinet and floral elements, the overall effect is feminine without being pink, pink, pink. Sure, I fell in love with Midcentury Modern, but my personal style is more vintage eclectic.

This is my excuse for not starting my Knitting Olympics project. I'm sitting this one out. I'd planned to work on a cardigan in Manos del Uruguay wool that I stashed away a couple of years ago, but was otherwise occupied. While working on the living room, I found several unfinished knitting projects, which I plan to pick up again. I just finished a Wicked tee in Malabrigo worsted that only needed a sleeve cuff. Let's hope the rest of these UFOs are as easy.


I was looking forward to seeing the Waco Brothers play Martyrs. I recently worked on a show based on Jon Langford's work, so it was an exciting prospect. I told all my friends. My mental note to attend might as well have been in all caps, italics, and circled. This afternoon, I spent forever in the bathroom, putting on my makeup and practically singing Anita's part from the Tonight quintet in West Side Story (Yes, I am a nerd, but that is Sondheim and Bernstein.). I rushed through errands and dinner, afraid of being late for the show. Well, I was. Twenty-four hours late. Fuck. What a stupid mistake. I'd hoped to listen to great music and perhaps swap bodily fluids with a charming man and instead found a totally dead bar. At least I looked fabulous in my disappointment. What was I doing last night, when I should have been at Martyrs? Watching Project Runway and knitting a fucking mitten, unwittingly suffering the lingering effects of mercury retrograde. Friends that I inadvertently blew off, I apologize. I lift a glass of Courvoisier and wish that you were here, and that I had been there.


After writing that introspective New Year's Eve post, I had a dramatic reversal of fortune. Nothing permanent, but damned inconvenient.

After I picked up Winston from the vet, I noticed that he smelled like pee. Winston is particular about his hygiene, never smelling like pee, and certainly not near his head. I have no idea what happened while he was at the vet, but quickly realized that I'd have to give him a bath. Happy New Year, Winston! He was thoroughly unhappy with this turn of events. Can't say I really blame him. Soon, he and I were both cold and miserable, huddled under my new electric blanket.

Around this time, I discovered that my hot water heater had crapped out. It still made hot water, but it also made it all over the utility room floor. Bad news. My mom called my uncle Roy, who advised cutting off the valve to the heater and bleeding it. She came over, bled the water heater, and hustled me and a still quite damp cat out of the house. Poor Winston!

Fortunately, we were able to stay at my grandparents' house, where there are many heat ducts for Winston to hover, a heat lamp, and many, many places for a cat to explore. I would often stop over here to have a drink with my Grandfather on New Year's Eve, so it was a bit ironic that I ended up here. No countdowns or toasts for us, just curling up in a warm bed while the neighbors set off fire crackers.

Winston is curled up under a bed, and I am watching a Law and Order marathon, working on my Daybreak shawl. I am about two thirds done, which means many, many stripes. I decided to use Noro Silk Garden Sock, so most of the work is done in the striping for me, but I've been working from two balls to make single color stripes as the rows get longer and longer. This also allows me to cut out the colors that I don't like from the skeins without having to worry about the yardage. As my crazy color matching sleeves on my summer cardigan last year prove, I can never leave well enough alone where Noro is concerned.

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