What Would Laura Ingalls Wilder Do? Drink Some Wine and Sew Some More.

I stayed up until 4 am last night sewing xmess presents. I realized today that the sound of the machine, so comforting to me, probably irritated the neighbors. Then I though about how their child has endless screaming tantrums and decided not to feel guilty.
In the past twenty-four hours, my sewing machine has:

  • Refused to work. The thread wouldn't catch. I disassembled it, cleaned its nooks and crannies, swapped bobbins, everything. Turns out that the problem was a little burr on the spool of thread I was using that prevented the thread from feeding. 
  • Broken two needles. This was my fault. I recently fell in love with a quarter inch foot that is apparently NOT for zigzag. My previous favorite utility foot is, so it didn't occur to me that the slimmer foot would be a problem. Thank god I had a whole pack of needles, but I could definitely have done without catching part of a needle in my hand.
  • Burned through a surprising amount of bobbin thread. I could probably wind a bobbin in my sleep now. Maybe I did last night.
  • Installed many a zipper (with my guidance). The new fave quarter inch foot is great for zippers, so I don't have to swap feet to put them in. Zippers are now my bitch.
Even though the sewing has been a little fiddly, it has been so much quicker than knitting presents like I usually do. I've decided that most of my family aren't knitworthy. I got tired of seeing the presents that took me hours to make get casually tossed on the pile. The work was not appreciated.

Mad Men has fueled my holiday craft marathons in the past (or one year, shamefully, Gossip Girl), but this year I'm working my way through all of the episodes of Saving Grace on Netflix. Maybe I needed a badass Holly Hunter fix and didn't know it. I've also got the new Jane Eyre adaptation out from the library, but that seems like something that requires a little more attention. 

In other news, my cell phone broke. It still works, after a fashion, but the scroll pad refuses to scroll. I can't check my email, text messages, use the internet, turn my ringer back on, or about a dozen other things without it. All those reasons I want a smartphone now don't work. So, if I've missed a call from you in the past few days, I apologize. I'll call you when I get my new phone tomorrow. I decided to abandon the Blackberry (8 track of the 2000s) for an iphone. Yes, I've mocked them in the past. Yes, I tease one of my friends for his near-obsessive love of his iphone. I just want a smartphone that works, has no scroll button to break (which killed my last two phones), and doesn't have a squint-inducingly tiny screen. That leaves android phones and the iphone. The tech support guy who remotely reprogrammed my Blackberry when its data service went out told me that iphones generate the fewest number of problem tickets of any phones on my carrier. What else do you need to know? My new phone is in the FedEx depot across the street from my apartment, which has me as antsy as a kid waiting for Christmas. I wish I could just go get it, but I'll have to wait for them to deliver it tomorrow. Sometimes the tracking page is not your friend.



Knowing that when light is gone,
   Love remains for shining.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


I had an idea for an art piece made out of the disposable gowns I have to wear when I visit my grandmother in the hospital. I would shred them and use the resulting strips to weave a giant piece of fabric, possibly incorporating medical paperwork. Then I realized that I have to wear those gowns to prevent transmission of infectious disease. So, I'd have to use a lot of Lysol on it, or post a warning that no one with a compromised immune system could be in a gallery with it. I would also need a loom. Back to the drawing board.


Some days, I think that I should have just stayed in bed.
Today, I decided to take the El into the city to see my grandmother, who is still in the hospital. I could have driven, but I ran out of parking passes for the garage and didn't feel like paying their exorbitant rates. Mistake. I had to run to catch the train, but might as well have taken my time. Two stations later, the train went out of service due to a fire at the Logan Square station. The CTA's answer? Provide a shuttle to the Logan Square station. At the California station, the CTA peeps said that platforms would be headed towards the loop. Except, when the train showed up, it was headed to O'Hare and the conductor kept yelling at passengers who were just trying to ask where the train was headed. After plenty of shivering on the platform in the freezing rain, a southbound train finally arrived. It was packed. Despite all the standees, there was a man sitting Indian style across two of the seats. When an older woman admonished him for taking up two seats when so many people had to stand, he just stretched his legs out across the second seat. I hate everybody.
My grandmother's nurse proudly told me that she's doing much better. She stood up today, briefly, which is not a big deal for most of us, but incredibly hard when you've been bedridden for a month. Her appetite hasn't improved, though, which is incredibly frustrating. She has to get her strength up to get out of the hospital and that requires eating. Last time, I took her pad thai. This time, I made her rice pudding, which I normally only make for xmas. The nurses were very encouraging, saying that she needs all the extra nutrition she can get. Well, she only ate two bites. I suggested. I cajoled. I hovered and handed her things. She even told me that I am the only member of the family more stubborn that she (a dubious achievement that I attribute to my Norwegian ancestors). I don't know what to do, other than keeping at it. As hard and frustrating as it is for me, I am sure that it is worse for her.



Warning knitters: this is a sad tale.
After I remodeled the house, it became overrun with wool eating bugs. Almost all of my socks and more than a few of my hats and sweaters were quietly destroyed by munching insects, while I was blissfully unaware. As a result, I have only a few pairs of socks left.
Saturday, I worked a twelve hour call at the museum. It was real stagehand work, as opposed to my usual cushy A1 work, so I wore my Doc Marten boots and one of my few remaining pairs of socks. After many hours of gigging it, I was quite tempted to just sleep on top of the covers with my boots on. Instead, I took them off and discovered something horrific. There must have been a weak spot in the right sock that I hadn't noticed when I put it on, because hours of rubbing against the very structured toe of my shitkickers made a hole large enough for my first three toes to stick out. GAH!
I've decided to temporarily put my other projects on hold so that I can replenish my sock supply. So, if you were hoping for a knitted gift for xmas, it's not going to happen. Honestly, I'd already decided to cut back my xmas knitting because I felt a lot of it was unappreciated. I practically crippled myself last year trying to finish things at the last minute. This year, it's drawings of spiders for everyone!


La Douleur Exquise!

What used to cause me pleasure now causes me pain.  Too many times, I have pinned my hopes on the wrong thing. Or pinned all of them on one thing, setting myself up for heartbreaking disappointment. I have to stop living in a privately defined world and start living again. If only I could feel as light as those umbrellas, to take long strides across the world, and feel unafraid!


I am moving a week from today and I've barely packed. I'm in big trouble. I don't want to be that girl who has nothing packed when the movers show up, so I spent most of the afternoon putting my stash into ziplock bags and listening to old Radiohead albums.

I have really mixed feelings about this move. My neighborhood has become increasingly unsafe, and some of you may know that I am having a problem with a peeping tom/creeper. After the neighbors informed me that he tried to break in one night that I stayed abroad, I decided that I couldn't stay here anymore. That stranger stole my sense of security; something so often taken for granted, but once lost, rarely regained. I became afraid to leave the house, in fear that "they" would break in and steal all my things while I was gone. I was afraid to stay in, in fear that "they" would break in and attack me. Not a good way to live. The only answer is to move.

I have lived in this house off and on since I was five years old, so leaving it is a bit of a wrench. It's been my permanent address for a long time. It was never my intent to stay here. I always imagined myself as a glamorous ex-pat. Well, not glamorous, as my self-esteem is limited, but at least far, far away from this place. And now I'm leaving, but it doesn't really feel like it was a choice. The low caliber element that has moved into my neighborhood has pushed me out of my home. Not just my house, but my HOME. That didn't really hit me until today. I felt like throwing myself on the bed and having a good cry, except all of my beds have knitwear blocking on them. Never underestimate the power of a good cry. I've had to make do with some Cadbury's drinking chocolate and an immoderate amount of peanut m&ms.

On the knitting front, I just finished knitting another Peace Fleece Everyday Cardigan. I used this pattern for the first "real" sweater I ever knit, years ago, and wore it to death. If you live in a cold climate, I highly recommend Peace Fleece for cozy garments. It's a rustic yarn made by old hippies in New Hampshire that really softens up when washed. I <3 it a lot. This incarnation of the sweater is a lovely seamoss color, soon to be punched up with antique pressed glass buttons. If only it would hurry up and dry! The weather is perfect for rustic sweaters now.

I am also trying to finish up some WIPs before the move. I've picked up the Wicked cardigan in Madelinetosh merino again. The yarn is luscious, but the rows are so, so long. I've knit the pullover version of this a few times before and it's always flown off the needles. Knitting it flat, though, is taking much longer. If steeks didn't make me skittish, I would have done that instead. Taking scissors to my knitting? No. 

I've decided not to knit presents for xmas unless I feel like it. I practically cripple myself every year and the effort and gifts aren't appreciated enough. Any hints dropped about new scarves, hats, or god forbid, sweaters, will be ignored. Want some knitwear? Learn to knit or buy it at the store. I want to knit for myself.


Treeline Cardigan, I hardly knew ye. A few years back, I fell in love with a free pattern on purl bee.

See? Lovely, great single row stripes with a nostalgic, Grandpa-style shawl collar. Here's the problem, it only comes in two sizes, neither of which I am. I stashed the yarn, planning to do the math to make it in my own size, but frankly, I don't like doing math. I can--I'm not an idiot--but it's not one of my favorite activities and I'm not always confident of my work. So, that Manos has been waiting until I get around to crunching the numbers or con my math genius mom into doing it for me.

Then I saw the new Webs catalog this week, with this gorgeous pattern in it:

which just happens to use the same yarns as the Treeline Cardigan, except for the Kidsilk Haze. I'll have to decide whether or not I want to carry it along in the brown stripes. It would give the color more depth... I ordered a copy of the pattern, Marais, from Webs, so I guess their catalog marketing is effective. Also, I love that it is a modern interpretation of un mariniere, which is very stylish at the moment, but classic enough that it won't look dated in a few years. I think that I will make the sleeves longer, maybe the waist as well. 3/4 length is a difficult proportion.


My Shoulder Hurts

My left shoulder, to be precise. I am right-handed, so I am a little confused as to how this happened. No, that is total denial. This is a knitting-related injury. On Christmases past, I have had achy forearms (bad!), but this shoulder thing is new. I don't think that I've been knitting any more than usual lately, or anything unusual. I am still working on the Central Park Hoodie in Ultra Alpaca for my grandmother. The yarn isn't hard to knit, but I am using some old-school, heavy, metal needles instead of my usual Addis/HiyaHiyas/Harmonys. Could they be to blame? Could this be from using my laptop too much or sleeping in weird positions? I need a day off from all of this.
Do you think I could work on a sock while this heals up?
Probably not. Sigh.
Tomorrow, I think I will go see a movie at the place in Indiana with cheap matinees of new releases. I can get some (relatively) cheap gas while I'm there. I'll be able to eat greasy movie theater popcorn without having to worry about getting the "butter" on my precioussssssss yarn. This plan gets better and better...
I am slowly working my way through World On Fire, a book about the British involvement and influence in the American Civil War. It was written by the historian who wrote that fabulous Duchess of Devonshire biography a few years ago. This is a bit slower moving, as there are so many characters (historical figures) to keep track of, what with the Federals and their British supporters and the Confederates and their British supporters. Still, very interesting. I had no idea what a dick Seward was before reading this book! The other reason this hasn't kept me riveted, I suspect, is my extremely limited interest in the American Civil War. It was long, it was awful, and afterward people said "the United States is.." instead of "the United States are..". It's the stuff of 5th grade reports, reenactors' weekends, and sad folk ballads. I'm midway through 1863 right now. Will write more once I've finished the book.


I Hate Everybody.

Someone tried to break into my house while I was out for the night. THANK GOD, my neighbor scared them off, but it still has me really freaked out. I am afraid to go out, because I am convinced that someone will break in and steal all the things while I am gone. When I am home, I am afraid that someone will break in and it will lead to violence or worse. Someone tried to break into my home. My former roommate had left the window in his room unlocked, which gave them an easy access point, and me a total rage fit when I realized it had been unsecured. What can I expect from someone who used to live in a house where the back doors were secured with a rubber band? Everything is locked up tight now and I have a couple of motion activated floodlights to swap out with my existing fixtures on the patio, when I can get someone to hold the ladder while I work. Call me crazy, but I think that doing electrical work on an aluminum ladder alone is a bad idea. That must be why I'm not a union stagehand. Ideally, I would like a security system, as I must leave the house occasionally and most of my gigs are at night. Or a flat on a leafy street in Hyde Park. 

My resolve to only work on long-term UFOs has faded. After the limited success of the Damariscotta and Rusted Root (which has found a home with my mother, who tells me she will redo the ribbing at the hem, which I accidentally knit as k2p2 instead of k3p1. More power to her, I say!), I decide to start on a new cooler weather appropriate project. In fact, I have been project monogamous for the past week. That's rare for me, so you can appreciate my determination.
I am currently working on a Central Park Hoodie in Ultra Alpaca for my grandmother, who is ill. Every time I see her, she looks cold, so I'm sure this cozy sweater will be well received. So far, I have knit the back and right front pieces and am about halfway through the left front piece. The left front went remarkably fast, probably because it is only half the width of the back piece. Also, it happened to be in my bag when I went to check on my grandmother in the ER. It took them five hours to admit her, which is a lot of knitting time. I expect the pace of this project will slow a little when I run out of flat pieces to knit. Anything that involves picking up over a hundred stitches just doesn't travel well, so when I get to the hood and ribbing, the CPH will have to stay home.

Current projects:
* The Bribe CPH
* Everlasting Mary Jane
* Rainbow Noro Shawl

What I will knit next, I do not know, but with this unseasonably mild weather, I am considering rescuing my Madelinetosh worsted Wicked cardigan from its couch exile. The yarn is a loosely spun wool single, so it's not the best for knitting while sweaty. Now that it is cool enough to have a whole sweater sit in my lap while I work on it, I might tackle more cold weather projects.


An update on the UFO roundup

After writing my last post, I attacked my unfinished objected with alacrity. Over the past few days, I have finished three sweaters. Better yet, they are weather appropriate sweaters! As I write this, the Damariscotta and Rusted Root are blocking on my bed. If I had a larger bed, there'd be a Twilight Tee on it as well. Since it is August, I am not itching to start working on the cold weather projects. I know that I should, but I can't stand having a big, heavy sweater lying in my lap in this weather. So, I will probably tear out the duds and work on small things.
When it is too hot to knit, I have a few good books to read. When it's too hot to read, that's sheer misery. 


UFOs, be gone!

I have decided that I will finish or tear out all of my UFOs and WIPs before starting any new projects. I'm dying to cast on something new! Because I am shameless (or need to subject myself to internet shame in order to motivate myself to finish a bunch of abandoned projects), here's a rundown:

  • Damariscotta tee-- This shapely tee with crochet edged neckline, knit in Malabrigo's worsted cotton, lay abandoned in my credenza for about a year. I'd knit it from the top down, all the way to the waist increases before casting it aside for more exciting knitting. The pattern calls for a double knit hem with tubular bind-off. Um, no. All of my double knitting experience has ended in disaster, so I am knitting a turned hem and whipstitching it to the body. I highly recommend weaving in a high contrast lifeline in the row before starting the turned hem, so that you have a reference point for stitching the seam later. I've had my fair share of wonky picot edges, so I wish that I'd thought of the lifeline earlier.
  • Everlasting pullover-- This recently abandoned project was set aside in favor of small, summery projects after one end of the circular needles developed a burr. I tried sanding it down and powering through it, but the yarn is a splitty, 12 ply cashmere blend. The resulting fabric is sprongy and lush, but the process of knitting it can be exasperating. I cannot tell you how many times I accidentally put the tip of the needle through the yarn. The burred needle's manufacturer sent me a free replacement, so the everlasting pullover is free to resume, weather permitting.
  • Fairly Easy Fairisle Cardigan-- This has been marinating the longest of all of my UFOs. I knit the peeries, sleeves, and body, but ran out of steam on the colorwork yoke. It's not hard and it's knit with bulky yarn, but the flat construction makes the colorwork a bit of a drag. Guaranteed to make a cozy winter favorite for someone. I can't remember what size I was making, so this might go to one of the female relatives.
  • 2830 jacket with heavy mods-- This one potentially needs the most work. It needs sleeves, but after they are made up I will tear out the hem edge and lengthen it. My mother thinks that the yarn is a little ugly. It's a two color variegated hand-dye.  I think it is lovely, but can see how it might not be to everyone's taste. I have some darling pink oval buttons for it, which it makes it slightly more likely that I will actually finish it someday.
  • Transatlantic Shawl-- It just needs the border finished and a little crochet work. But the rows are soooo long.
  • Twilight Henley-- Needs to be sewn together and get its collar. I am very unenthusiastic about sewing right now. This might be due to the hot weather. Finishing work is so dull, but it always pays to take your time and do it properly. A sweater that took months to knit can be ruined in minutes by slapdash finishing.
  • Wicked Cardigan-- This was put on the back burner so that I could make seasonally appropriate projects. Now that it's August, I'm starting to think ahead to cozy fall sweaters. Must find air conditioned place where I can hang out and knit so that I don't felt this with my sweat!
  • Ulmus shawl-- I didn't get into the rhythm of this pattern, so I will probably tear it out and start over when I can give it the attention it deserves.
Most of these projects can be finished with one big push, an afternoon or an evening's worth of finishing and knitting before they can be enjoyed. What that says about my attention span is not great, but I'll be able to have lots of new handknit garments with little effort on my part.

No smoke from the Vatican on everything else going on right now. My knitting I can control.


I wish I could quit you, cotton.

Every time I knit with cotton, I swear that I will never do it again. And yet I do and more lurks in my stash. Sometimes the same cotton yarn can be a pleasure in one project and an utter pain in the ass in the next. I just finished a lace tee in a cotton/wool blend at four stitches to the inch. I breezed through that project. The same yarn knitted at five stitches to the inch? Pure drudgery.

I'm trying to knit a few quick warm weather projects while the weather is still conducive. So far, that has included a Twilight short sleeved sweater (no vampires were harmed) and another Krista tee. Now, I am trying to remain motivated to work on a Rusted Root. The lace panel is a little too fiddly for mindless knitting and the resulting fabric surprisingly thick. Maybe I'll cheat on it with another weather-appropriate UFO, Damariscotta (also in cotton, FML).

In things unrelated to fiber, I've been spending a lot of time with my grandmother lately. Did you know that grandmas are the largest growing population in new internet users? Well, add mine to that statistic. I recently gave her a surprise!computer after years of resistance on her part. I just showed up at her house with an old iMac and asked her where she wanted it. So far, she knows how to turn it on and off and check her email. She doesn't know how to reply to them yet. Rome wasn't built in a day. When I went over there this morning to deliver a bunch of gladioli I picked up at the farmer's market, my cousin Chris was there helping her with the computer. He's part of the mac using branch of the family. Actually, the majority of us use macs (even Grandma!), with the exception of a few family members who've never even used macs. I am oddly fascinated by people who cling to PCs because switching to macs made such a difference in my life. Could I do what I do on a PC? Yes, but not as easily or cheaply, and with way more unprintable words used.


I went on a two person yarn crawl today with a friend. Miraculously, I bought nothing. Some of it is willpower and the rest a function of the depth of my stash.  I heard recently that novelty yarn is coming back, a less than thrilling prospect. I didn't see any novelty yarn at the three stores I visited today, but saw many novel things.

The first store I visited was Sifu Design Studio, in Andersonville. I really, really like this store and not just because Lisa, the owner, gave me a much needed cup of coffee. Sifu is eclectic and charming, full of potential inspiration.  I was very tempted to buy a bundle of high end yarn from a famous Michigan fiber artist for a Colinette style throw, but I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head. Most importantly, I learned that Lisa sews zippers into sweaters for $30-- a steal. I've decided against a few designs that featured zippers due to my dread of sewing them in, but now that I know where to have them put in properly, I might get around to knitting them after all.

Just up the street (ok, many long blocks), we headed to Windy Knitty. I'd been there a few times before and raved about it to Nancy, but it was her first time there. WK and Sifu are very different, but both excellent in their own way. Windy Knitty is a spacious, airy store with a clean, cheery aesthetic. They carry both workhorse yarns and luscious independent dyers, in sweater quantities. They also have excellent notions and some knitpicks needles. If you're curious about the joins in knitpicks options needles, this is an excellent place to see them for yourself before buying (although I can tell you, they are excellent and make addi turbos feel slow!). I envy the knitters of Andersonville for having two such excellent stores.

Our third stop was Knit1, which has undergone a change of ownership since my last visit. Knit1 is a dog friendly yarn shop a block or so north of Trader Joe's on Lincoln. The great selection of Malabrigo is still there, though there are plenty of other reasons to stop by. Curious about Ysolda Teague's new book, Little Red in the City? Thumb through it at Knit1 and check out the wonderful illustrations.

Perhaps you noticed that I have Daybreak listed in my knitting projects again. This is the fourth one I've made, and I blame all of the wonderful people participating in the LSG Daybreak KAL. After seeing all of their excellent shawls, I couldn't resist casting on another one. This is Daybreak #4, but the first one in Colinette Jitterbug. The first three were in Noro Silk Garden Sock, which is lovely, but a lively single. That's a nice way of saying "this yarn wants to twist and tangle with itself all the time". The cushy, tight twist of Jitterbug is a dream compared to SGS, even if it isn't that great for socks. All of the socks that I've made with Jitterbug have felted at the heel, but I love it for shawls and accessories. I've been working on this Daybreak for a week and it's nearly finished. All of the previous ones took a month each. Funny what you can do when you aren't fighting your yarn!

I plan to give the shawl to my grandmother. She doesn't wear a lot of shawls, so I hope that she doesn't think they're too old lady-ish (though there is nothing matronly about the colors in this Daybreak). I gave her an old G4 iMac last week that I picked up on craigslist, after years of her resisting all things computer. While we were setting it up in the basement, I noticed how chilly it was down there. Unfortunately, it has to be that cold there to be cool enough in the rest of the house, so I thought she might need a shawl to wrap around her shoulders while playing with her mac. So far, she knows how to turn it on and off. Great, considering that she has assiduously avoided computers for the past decade or so. She asked me for the book for it, not realizing that computers don't come with instruction manuals anymore. Fortunately, the library had a couple of appropriate For Dummies books. She'll come up with questions after she's read them, she tells me.


If I were to have that imaginary dinner party that people talk about idly, inviting anyone from history, I would invite Samuel Pepys. I'm re-reading his edited diaries now and I feel that I know him. He wasn't writing for an audience, so the content is more intimate and unguarded. It's also a great first person account of some of the most interesting parts of English history. He was personally involved in the return of Charles II, witnessed the Great Fire of London, and attended a great deal of theatre. After dinner, he might play his flageolet or regale us with old backstage gossip.

Pepys also spends a lot of time chasing after women, talking about clothes, and running all over London getting papers signed or dispatched. He nearly went blind from all his paperwork, which may be why he stopped keeping his diary in 1669. I doubt it was for lack of material; almost every entry contains some gem. Did you know that the word turd was already in popular usage in 1660? It's also interesting to see what has stayed the same, like Pepys wishing to God that he'll be able to afford his new silk suit.

Phil Gyford runs a website, Pepys' Diary, that is a great introduction to the text. It displays an entry from the current date, but you can also browse different dates. Perhaps you'll make a periwigged friend there.


Found on Ravelry


I was just thinking sour thoughts about a favorite blogger not updating in a while, when I realized that I haven't written anything on this blog in over five months. Some of that is due to lack of material. Some of it is hesitation to write about a current production.

So, what have I been up to since January? Well, I engineered another musical. It was a new work, or new-ish work that had only been workshopped before. Yes, that is a verb in the theatre. New works are a mixed blessing. Everything was new once. Four hundred odd years ago, Shakespeare probably paced backstage wondering if Hamlet would be a hit. Sometimes, a new work turns out to be a hit, an amazing, exhilarating experience. Other times, you want to kill the writers and run far, far away. I don't know what the future holds for that show, but I hope to remain friends with the wonderful company of actors, musicians, and technicians (okay, technician singular-- it was just me and the stage manager) assembled to perform it.

I've become more of a hermit lately. Maybe hermit is a misnomer. More properly, the word is homebody, which is incredibly unappealing. Basically, I spend a lot of time in my house. It takes something special to interest me in going out. As a result, I think I may have inadvertently drifted away from some friends and acquaintances. If we haven't talked in a while, drop me a line or give me a ring. I get a little too involved in living a life of the mind sometimes.

I had an idea for a hermit newsletter recently, but the internet already serves that purpose. Also, some people have suggested that hermits aren't interested in sharing their thoughts and ideas or in the thoughts and ideas of others. Not true, I say, but I don't know of any hermits who might be interested. What are the odds that a couple of hermits would know each other, though?

Here's a list of things that have gotten me out of the house. I'll write more about them later.

  • A Ron Sexsmith concert at Schuba's
  • The Dream in Color factory sale (I even got up early for it!)
  • Liza Minelli's Daughter, a cabaret written and starring my college classmate Mary Fons


Bah Humbug. And Happy Belated Saturnalia.

So, the holidays are over. They really weren't so bad, except that it is impossible for them to live up to all of the crazy expectations. I am wary of any event that calls for general felicity, especially during the most depressing time of the year. It's cold and dark and I'm supposed to be having the time of my life? Bah!

Christmas wasn't that bad this year. I did a lot of knitting for gifts, but also bought a few as well. About a week before Christmas, I looked at the sweater I was knitting for my grandmother with a critical eye and decided that it would not do. It was more than halfway done and in worsted weight yarn. Instead, I decided to go the totally illogical route and start a new sweater in dk weight hemp. By illogical, I mean crazy. Over two hundred stitches in every row, worked in stiff, finger torturing hemp; I must be a masochist. Everyone else who knit that pattern on Ravelry took a month to finish it. I made mine in five days. All I did was knit and breathe for those five days. I knit everywhere. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when it was finished, a cool twenty four hours before Christmas Eve dinner. Especially my hands. Please note, the picture is neither my grandmother nor the sweater I knit, just the same pattern. It turned out very well, but still quite stiff. Since it was far too cold to go outside and beat the sweater against a rock (not a joke), I put it through the spin cycle and high agitation in the washer about six times. My grandmother reports that she has tried on the sweater and likes it, especially the neckline. I'm glad that all of those short rows didn't go amiss. I also made the sleeves on hers a bit longer, as octogenarians are usually reticent to show so much arm.

On the present front, I got a set of Harmony interchangeable needles, which are the bee's knees. I'm using them now to make a sweater in soft, cushy wool. My hands deserve a reward. I've revived the Dream in Color Classy that made most of a wrap cardigan a couple years ago and languished afterward to make a cowl-y/turtleneck sweater. I don't find turtlenecks especially flattering on large busted ladies, but this turtleneck is very relaxed. I described it recently as looking like a cowl and and turtleneck smoked marijuana together. The resulting fabric is a dream, though I do have to watch for pooling and changes between skeins.

I am trying to step it up a notch in the wardrobe department, so I have decided to knit and wear more sophisticated pieces. No more hoodies for me, unless they feature incredibly chic Celtic designs and look like a million dollars. I decided this after my aunt referred to her "dress hoodie", which must be an oxymoron. No more things that look cozy. Stealth luxury is the key, like handknit socks and dreamy fibers. I've also weeded out the rattiest jeans from my wardrobe and bought some really dark indigo replacements. And an adorable pair of Swedish heels that I can't wear in the snow, which is probably why they were on sale. Still, I am trying to look like less of a slob and more of an adult.

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