Thursday, September 30, 2010

If Spanx made outerwear...

For your consideration: J. Crew's Minnie Pants*

These babies will vacuum seal your ass. I am currently wearing them, and I have to get up every three minutes to check myself out in the mirror. Like the aforementioned wildly popular fat-sucking undergarments, these are uncannily comfortable-- it is as if by immobilizing every jiggly bit of your lower half they induce a Zen-like detachment from corporeal reality. I'm not sure exactly what I will wear them with yet. Probably not lace-up open-toe booties. Right now I'm just trying to decide whether I will ever take them off.

* Coincidentally, one of my cat's many nicknames is Minnie Pants, which is probably 50% of why I decided to buy these.
** I am in the process of beginning a new blog. Earthshaking, I know. This will be my last post here. I would like to thank all three of my sporadic readers for tuning in.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good things come in very small packages

Real estate has kind of taken over my life lately... but the payoff is coming soon! We just went under contract on an absolutely adorable house. Six weeks from Thursday Eric & I will officially be homeowners!

"Adorable" and "cozy" are well-known real estate euphemisms for small-- and at 1037 square feet, they are both fitting terms for this house. Unlike other small houses we've looked at, this one has practically zero wasted space. We are used to apartment living and relentless clutter clearing, so this does not worry me at all. The trade-off:
  • We will be a five minute walk to the beach
  • There are three ice cream stands, two bakeries, A YARN STORE, and a handful of dear friends within walking distance.
  • I will finally have my own dishwasher!
  • And flowerbeds!
  • And laundry!
  • And two decks!
I honestly thought when I saw this house that we had no chance of getting it. I was convinced that we'd be up against multiple offers and that we'd lose out because we are militant about our budget. Did I mention that there is A YARN STORE within walking distance?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Eric & I are thisclose to becoming homeowners. Anyone know what a kick-out clause is? I didn't until Monday. The seller of the house we would very much like to own is under contract to another buyer. That buyer has their own house to sell, so the contract allows the seller to cancel deal if they get another attractive offer before the buyer fulfills their end of the bargain. Given this opportunity, we decided to make a higher offer to said seller. She would now very much like to sell her house to us.

However. The first buyer has 48 hours to either sell their house, or come back with more enticing goodies for the seller. 48 hours starting from when we sign OUR contract with the seller. Which has yet to occur. I am waiting for our broker to show up with the papers. This is agonizing.

What a perfect exercise in staying positive. I'm planning to spend the next 48 hours distracting myself with knitting. I'm putting the finishing touches on Eric's sweater. I don't think I could be more proud of this thing unless I had carried it in my uterus for 9 months. My next post will include lavish, detailed pictures and lots of gloating.

Also on deck: a shawl for my friend Alicia. This shawl was started by her grandmother before she passed away last summer, and I have been commissioned by Alicia's mom to finish it. I can't possibly express how honored and touched I am that she asked me.

A trip to my favorite yarn store is pretty much inevitable. I have yarn to exchange (which means... more yarn!!!) and a class to attend, and I may seek out some expert advice for sewing in the hems of Eric's sweater. Provided I finish them by tomorrow...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Developments

Two things:
  • Major knitting operations on the Commitment Sweater are complete as of this afternoon (pictures to follow when the sun comes out again)
  • We made an offer on a house today. We find out tomorrow-- fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An award? For me?

Sarah, I humbly accept. I was going to make a crack about this being kind of like getting a "best daughter" award from my mom, but it makes me so happy that someone is reading my blog. In recognition of the honor, I'm going to try to make this entry less wordy, and more beautiful-- turns out knitting snafus make me ramble on... and on...

First, seven things about me:
  1. I'm going to become a homeowner soon. This is pretty exciting.
  2. I own way too many books, and since becoming a full-fledged knitting junkie I barely read anymore, unless you count obsessively trolling Ravelry forums. (Vickie, I confess I just acquired another Penguin: Great Expectations!)
  3. I'm double jointed in both thumbs.
  4. I never thought I would end up living less than 10 miles from my hometown.
  5. My husband and I are exact zodiac opposites-- which is "perfect" according to our friend Kourosh. Imagine him saying "perfect" with unconstrained glee in an Iranian accent. Oh yeah, and I was apparently born on "The Day of Authority", which basically sums up my whole personality.
  6. Eric and I have impromptu dance parties in our kitchen most nights. I invented something called the finger dance. At least I think I invented it.
  7. I taught myself to knit Continental in November and am now an almost-exclusive Continental knitter after 10 years of English knitting. This makes me absurdly proud of myself. (I have also recently acquired a taste for rye whiskey. Not quite so proud of that.)
And now, for the beautiful part:

Knit in the round, thank you very much

The body of the sweater is finally the right size, and is nearing completion!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Knitting With Tears

There are a few things in life that are inevitable-- death and taxes, of course, but if you're a knitter, you can add gauge to that list. Gauge, and crying over gauge. Gauge is kind of like Karma, only worse. When gauge and Karma gang up on you, you're totally fucked.

I can count the number of readers of this blog on one hand, and I know some of you don't knit. So for the record, gauge is the number of stitches in one inch of knitting. Gauge changes when you change your yarn, needle size, needle type, the color of your underwear, or how you brush your teeth. If you have a glass of delicious and refreshing red wine, your gauge can change. If you are knitting while watching a suspenseful movie, your gauge can change. Sometimes, for no apparent reason whatsoever, your gauge can and will change.

You can thumb your nose at gauge, for years even, blithely knitting up scarves, hats, blankets, Christmas stockings, and all manner of wonderful things. Some may turn out bigger than expected, some smaller, but none of that really matters and you're having a delightful time. Thing is, gauge is critical for a garment that actually needs to fit.

Let's take, for example, my husband's sweater. Just for example. I basically want to knit a 44" circumference tube. I have diligently made my gauge swatch-- a little piece of test knitting-- using my yarn and multiple needle sizes. I have even washed and blocked this adorable little strip of knitting to get a feeling for how much the fabric will stretch out. I decide I like the fabric best at a gauge of 5.5 stitches/inch after blocking. 44 X 5.5 = 242 stitches that I need to cast on. Tra la la.

I am expecting that before I wash the sweater, my gauge will be 6 stitches per inch. 242/6 = roughly 4o. So I know that when I measure the tube, as I will diligently do every few inches or so, it should be 40" around.

Yeah, and monkeys might also fly out of my butt.

This is what happened Monday. I woke up, knit a few rows of the tube, and then slipped all 242 stitches onto a piece of white cotton thread. That way, I can stretch out the tube to it's full dimensions. And measure it. It should be 40", I know this at the very core of my being.

Gauge and Karma. They don't like me. That six inch long tube, which has taken me quite a few hours-- mindless, pleasurable hours, but still, many-- to create, and into which so much thought and homework has gone, measures 44" around.

I know you're following me closely, so you remember that I want a 44" circumference tube. What on earth could be wrong, then? Well, remember the yarn I'm using contains 50% soft, fuzzy, delicious Alpaca fibers, which have all the resilience of a wet noodle. There's only so much the 50% sturdy, elastic wool can do here. It's going to stretch out like gangbusters. My 44" tube (which I knew in the deepest part of my soul should measure 40") is going to end up fitting like those "before" pants in a Jenny Craig commercial.

Sometimes words can't capture a moment:

I briefly flirted with the idea that I could very delicately cut the tube and seam it back together with fewer stitches, then continue on my merry way. I think EZ would approve of this strategy-- remember EZ? Then I came to my senses-- the whole point of making a seamless sweater is to not have to sew, right? There is a time and a place for cutting a hole in your knitting, and this is not it.

The only compensation I had for unravelling 6 inches of sweater was getting to use my favorite new toy, the ball winder. Now I have a cute pile of yarn cakes awaiting my renewed efforts:

I'm sitting down now trying to come up with the reasons my gauge sample betrayed me. Karma and hubris come to mind. It also dawns on me that I knit my gauge sample flat, rather than in the round. I thought of that while I was knitting the flat gauge sample, but I decided that my gauge would probably not change much-- famous last words, as they say.

The good people on Ravelry had many helpful suggestions. My favorite: "Ultimately, your finished work will be your most accurate gauge swatch." Does that mean I have to knit two sweaters for every one that fits? Fuck.

I think I'll start by making some gauge swatches in the round. As soon as I finish crying.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Karmic Retribution

On Friday, I promised to work on being patient and staying positive. I got the night off from work-- sweet! Worked Saturday, and was a paragon of positive attitude and general helpfulness. Sunday, woke up at 2:30PM and went to see Avatar with Eric. I should say, Eric woke me up at 2:30PM. Our movie was at 3, and we were supposed to meet a friend at the theater before the show.

Well, hell if I didn't bitch the whole way to theater because I was worried we would be late. And about the perceived crappiness of our seats. And about missing our friend. I bitched until Eric actually told me to get over it-- and he puts up with a lot, as I've mentioned before. I did get over it. The movie was awesome, we ate delicious pizza afterward, and I apologized on the drive home.

Karma, as they say, is not a nice lady who bakes cookies and watches your cats while you are out of town. Apologies are not good enough for Karma. Today, Karma decided I was going to pay for my little promise to be a better person.

First, a major gauge mishap. I have still not recovered from the aftermath. More on this later.

After the gauge mishap, I went looking for some yarn to swatch for a new project. Positive people don't cry over spilled milk, they just go get more milk! I promised a pair of mittens to Eric's cousin in the annual Christmas Yankee Swap-- what better time to get started?

These will be no ordinary mittens. Said cousin requested black and white patterned mittens. Bring it on! She will get black and white patterned mittens with HOT PINK linings. I bought some yarn-- Louet Gems Fingering-- to get started, but it is a substitution for the yarn called for in the pattern. Since I am both frugal and clever, I decided to make my swatch with some of the same yarn I had left over from another project. If it doesn't suit, I can exchange the unused, newly bought yarn.

Having just set aside the gauge mishap, I went to find the leftover Louet Gems. I keep my yarn stash in a cardboard box. It's not much of a stash, really. But there's some nice stuff in there, including some discontinued Diakeito Diarufuran that Vickie gave me for my birthday, and yarn recycled from two J.Crew cashmere sweaters.

About here is where Karma comes in again. I found the leftover yarn and headed off to play. I got some fabulous toys for Christmas this year-- an umbrella swift and ball winder. It's really really fun to play with these toys. I started winding the leftover yarn on my ballwinder, having fun and thinking happy, positive thoughts in spite of the gauge mishap. About halfway through winding, a tiny little speck of something flew off the yarn and landed on the table. A tiny, wriggling, distinctly larval speck. Mother of God, it was a moth larva. In my yarn stash.


Now, a positive person would probably be thinking that said moth larva was in my yarn stash before I promised to become a better person and then failed two days later. A positive person would also consider that had the gauge mishap not occurred, the moth larva would not have been discovered today. A positive person would inspect the damage (none that I have seen so far), quarantine the affected yarn (in a Ziploc in my freezer), take precautions against future yarnivorous insects (bagging the rest of my yarn in separate Ziplocs, throwing around lavender sachets), and give thanks (on my knees) that the problem was discovered early. Finally, a positive person would revel in the opportunity to organize her yarn stash and tools, make a neat pile of books and patterns that were previously scattered about the apartment, and play more with the ball winder. Whee!

I hope you're watching me now, Karma. I'm staying positive! I'm being flexible! I'm thinking positive thoughts. Positive, moth-murdering thoughts.