Monday, June 30, 2008


So the most interesting thing going on here is my vertigo, which isn't all that interesting. It's mostly just bad. I am irked at the vertigo situation. So apologies for not being especially coherent tonight.

So I set out to do a Shazza's Bucket hat, and it did not work. It's a great pattern, but there's no gauge indicated, and I clearly got it wrong. So it is now Shazza's lamp shade:

I'm going to run it through the washer and dryer to see if it shrinks a little, but I suspect that a lampshade is what it will stay.

I have been frustrated by most of my knitting recently. I don't know if that's a function of my knitting or if I just have higher expectations than I did when I was starting out. I'm going to move on to the stranded mittens that I'm test-knitting and try to get through my current irritating knitting slump.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oh no!

So remember how a while back I bought yarn for my mom's socks from Peggy's Strands of Heaven, a cute little LYS way out in the western suburbs? It appears to have closed, albeit hopefully temporarily. I really hope it reopens, because I liked it a lot and would definitely go back there if I were ever out that way again.

I've got to say, though, that I'm skeptical that it was the economy that did in this LYS. The construction situation, which completely obscured the store and made it difficult to get there even if you could find it, must have been a factor. And more than that, it really seemed like a hobby store run by someone who was not what you'd call an ace business person. The store hours were really limited, and I don't think she did a great job with publicity. At least, the only reason I found out about them was that I absolutely stumbled onto them on KnitMap. I'd like to think that when the construction ends and the store re-opens, they'll be a little more business savvy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Moritorium on Geek Knitting

I did another Jayne hat for Can't Stop the Serenity. I know that those of you in other cities are thinking "Isn't Can't Stop the Serenity over?", but ours was postponed, so it's not. Anyway, I'm not crazy about the hat. I got gauge exactly, so I'm not sure what's wrong with it, but it fits weirdly. Here's a picture of the hat:

And here's a goofy picture of me in it:

The geek knitting has gotten a little out of control, so I am now switching to projects that have no Firefly tie-in. I've got my mom's socks on hold for a little while. I realized that I messed up the stitch pattern, and I'm taking a break while I get over my frustration with that. In the meantime, I am knitting this summer hat for a fellow Raveler who is going through chemo and has solicited hat donations. For the hat, I'm using some of the GGH Samoa that I purchased for my very first failed project, a baby blanket that I planned to knit to celebrate the birth of my now two-year-old nephew. I don't have any regrets about the now-abortive baby blanket: it was actually a really good way to practice beginning knitting. But I'm clearly never going to finish it, and the yarn is perfect for chemo caps. I'm also test knitting some stranded mittens for another Raveler, which I am very, very excited about. I think I'm going to cast them on when I finish the hat.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Netflix Report: Absolute Beginners

A lot of people do very high-brow and admirable things while they knit, like listen to philosophy books on tape or actually converse with their friends and family members. Not me. I usually watch T.V. while I knit. Sometimes I watch DVDs from Netflix. Because I don't have much interesting to say right now about my knitting, I am going to start a new feature in which I discuss the movies and T.V. shows which I get from Netflix.

For starters, we have a bit of a dud. I don't know why I expected to like Absolute Beginners. The book is supposed to be good, and it (the book, not the movie) is the subject of a Jam song that I like. But the movie kind of sucked. It's a musical that celebrates the youth culture of multicultural London in the 1950s. The hero, a young aspiring photographer, is obsessed with jazz and the new concept of a "teenager" but has to fend off challenges to this awesomeness in the form of racists and people who want him to sell out. It's kind of like Grease with neo-Nazis and no interest in the female characters' points of view. Sadly, it just didn't do anything for me. In fact, I turned it off before it was over, which is not something I usually do. The characters weren't developed at all, and the movie tells you that London's youth culture was super alluring and exciting but doesn't do a very good job of showing you why that would be. And mostly it was kind of boring.

I still might get around to reading the book sometime.

Next up is Derek Jarman's Jubilee. I'm very curious about that one.

If anyone has any good movie or T.V. recommendations for me to get from Netflix, leave 'em in the comments. I am always looking for good new things to get from Netflix.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Warning: this bike will stab you to death and then die of a heroin overdose

In a further addition to the annals of inexplicable marketing, I give you Schwinn's Sid and Nancy bikes. They seem like perfectly lovely bicycles, but I'm not sure I would purchase a bike named after either Sid or Nancy. Do you really want a bike that pays homage to someone who famously had trouble staying upright on stage? And call me crazy, but I just wouldn't be that enthused about riding a vehicle named after someone who is mostly known for the manner of her violent death. It just seems like tempting fate a bit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Futher Adventures in Geekery and Intarsia

You know how sometimes your knitting seems to have a mind of its own? Today my Browncoat Bag woke up and informed me that it was meant to be a Browncoat Laptop Sleeve. Far be it from me to deny an innocent piece of fabric the opportunity to pursue its destiny, so it now is a laptop sleeve.

It's kind of a mess. I'm not sure how much of that is my knitting and how much of it is the crappy yarn. At any rate, I will try intarsia again at some point, but I think I'm going to give it a rest for a while, so I can forget how annoying I found it. I've got a lot on my plate at the moment anyway. I have to finish my mom's socks in the next week, and then I'm test knitting a mitten pattern for a fellow Raveller. I also have to finish my big-person Jayne hat for Can't Stop the Serenity. So it's not like I'm going to be tempted to make a second pass at intarsia anytime soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Warning: This Yarn May Cause You to Fall Flat on Your Face

I give you: Vertigo Yarn, the slogan of which is:

Each stitch is an adventure that will send you into whirling waves of vertigo!

I guess that's a bit clever. Yarn is spun; vertigo makes you feel like you're spinning; har-dee-har-har-har. Except that I'm willing to believe that whoever named this yarn hasn't dealt with a lot of vertigo. Vertigo yarns has, however, inspired me to come up with some potential yarn lines of my own:

Migraine Yarn: Each stitch will give you a terrible headache and make you want to hide in a dark room!

Nausea Yarn: Each stitch will make you puke your guts out!

Twisted Ankle Yarn: Each stitch will make your ankle hurt a lot!

There's a lot of stuff named after my annoying medical symptom: vertigo lollipops, for instance, and vertigo comics. Here are some vertigo pants, and here is some lovely vertigo perfume. For $650, Bloomingdales will sell you a vertigo pitcher. There are also vertigo shoes for kids, which may very well cause the unsuspecting child to fall flat on his or her ass, as vertigo has been known to do. Wal-Mart sells a lovely line of Vertigo bedding for children and teens. And I've got to admit, I do not understand it. I just don't. I'm not claiming that vertigo is the worst thing in the world. It's not. But it is an unpleasant sensation, and it makes it difficult to do things like, say, walk or drive. You don't want to have whirling waves of vertigo if you can avoid it. What on earth do people find appealing about vertigo? It's just motion sickness, except that it's a hallucination, so you can't stop it by stopping the car or getting off the boat. Does anyone want to have unrelenting motion sickness for months at a time? How did this irritating symptom become a marketing slogan?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On Knitting for Others

I've got crazy vertigo today, so I don't seem to be getting any work done. This is bad, of course, but it means that I've made a lot of progress on my mom's Mother's Day socks. They look much better now that I've frogged my first attempt and started reknitting them in my new gauge. I will post pictures as soon as I'm done with the first sock.

I'm pretty sure that my mom will appreciate these socks. The reason I think that is because a while back, her friend Faith knit her a pair of socks, and she's been raving every since about how wonderful handknit socks are. So I feel confident that this is a good gift for my mother.

I've been thinking, however, about the whole idea of knitting for other people: both gifts and knitting for charity. Obviously, I've been doing some of both lately. I've knit one hat for Can't Stop the Serenity and am working on another, and I'm knitting these socks for my mom. So it's not like I'm opposed to knitting for other people.

But there's a discussion going on over on Ravelry that was started by a woman who is wondering whether she should feel guilty about not knitting a baby present for her pregnant niece. She has three family members who are expecting babies, and she is knitting presents for two of them. She doesn't want to knit for the third one, her niece, because the last time her niece had a baby, she didn't seem to appreciate the handknit gift that the poster gave to her. She seemed to appreciate trendy baby clothes and gadgets more. The poster was basically asking everyone to validate her decision to slight her ungrateful niece by not knitting anything for her.

Now, this seems to me to be entirely the wrong way of thinking about this. The poster shouldn't knit her niece a gift, but not for the reason that everyone said, which is that the niece was an ungrateful brat. She may be an ungrateful brat, but that's not the point. The point is that a gift is about the recipient, not the giver. You should give someone the thing that you think they'd appreciate getting, not one that you'd appreciate giving.

When push comes to shove, I'm an entirely selfish knitter. I have never knit a project that I didn't want to knit. I'm not sure I've ever knit a stitch that I didn't want to knit. I knit because I enjoy knitting. If someone else derives a benefit, that's just icing on the cake.

That doesn't mean that I won't knit for others. If I think someone will appreciate something that I would like to knit, I will certainly knit it for them. But I'm conscious of the need to avoid giving people things just because I want to knit them, because that's not a gift for them. That's a gift for myself. I also have to avoid thinking that people should be grateful for the enormous amount of time that goes into every knitted gift. I spend that time knitting for my own pleasure, so it's not like I went through 40 hours of miserable toil to make that present.

All of this may have to do with the fact that I'm a process knitter. I know that the process/ product dichotomy is a little trite, but I'm such a totally hard-core process knitter that I think it's a useful one for me. I kind of don't care very much about FOs. I've knit some things that were nice and useful, but I've also finished a lot of things, admired them, and then thrown them on a shelf, never to look at them again. And I have limited shelf space. I really could see myself giving people "gifts" mostly just because I didn't want the things to collect dust in my apartment. It's useful, therefore, to remind myself that gifts are about doing something nice for the recipient, not for the giver.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I have done the impossible, and that makes me mighty

Yeah, ok, maybe not the impossible. More like the slightly challenging, given my current level of knitting prowess. And maybe I'm not so much mighty as a slightly more experienced knitter than I was a week ago. But I appear to have tackled intarsia. My intarsia experiment was not entirely successful, but given what a chore intarsia has turned out to be, I'm still rather impressed with myself. Here is the browncoat patch panel for a bag that I plan to make:

That looks slightly lumpier than it actually is, because I haven't woven in the ends yet, so it's pinned down on top of all the random strands of yarn. I think it'll look a bit better when it's done.

The pattern, for those who are not quite as obsessively geeky as me, is the patch that's on Mal's uniform in the flashback sequence in the pilot episode of Firefly. I am not quite geeky enough to have found that motif myself: you can buy patches or various things with the patch on them from purveyors of geeky goods. I made this for the Can't Stop the Serenity auction, but I think it's actually probably not good enough to auction off. I'll see when the thing is done, which should be soon. I still have to weave in all the ends, which is going to take approximately as long as it did to knit the thing. After that, I need to connect the front and back panels, knit some straps, and do a lining. I probably won't do the lining unless I'm happy enough with it to think that someone might actually use it.

I knew that a lot of people hated intarsia, but for some reason I got it into my head that their objections were aesthetic. They associated intarsia with hideous Christmas sweaters and clothing with pictures of cloyingly adorable puppies. It didn't occur to me that the issue with intarsia might be that it's actually an enormous pain in the ass. I was deeply surprised by what a pain in the ass it was, because I like stranded knitting, and that seems like it should be harder. But even on DPNs, stranded colorwork is a lot less irritating than intarsia, as far as I'm concerned. I have a feeling that there are a couple of intarsia tricks that one has to figure out for oneself, and then it becomes a little less irksome. For instance, I think that I should keep all the strands of yarn pretty short and just not worry about having to add new yarn fairly frequently. It's less of a pain to weave in a few extra ends than to untangle a really long strand of yarn. But I didn't figure that out until near the end, and I swear that I spent as much time untwisting strands of yarn as I did knitting.

Here, by the way, is the chart that I used, tweaked slightly from the one that I posted way back in February. I'm still not totally happy with it.