Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Out of the knitting bag and into the closet


It's magic! Four and a half months' worth of stitching, cabling, measuring, trying-on, adding-extra magic. It's my first garment and the first thing I've knit just for myself, and despite a few flaws--there's no picture of the back here, but we'll say that the ribbed edge and the "seamless" join are artfully asymmetrical--I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out (blocking helped a lot). And I'm sure I'm not the only one who's tired of monitoring its progress. So: welcome to the wardrobe, shrug! (The shrug is noncommittal.)

The knitterly details, for those who care:

Pattern: Cabled Shrug, Interweave Knits Summer 2005
Yarn: Rowan Soft Baby in Cloud, 4.5(?) balls
Needles: Susan Bates US 5 straights
Notes: This (free internet) pattern didn't include a size of any kind, and it turned out to be written for tiny people. Thankfully, it was knitted from the sleeves in, so I just kept knitting extra rows until it fit. I added a ribbon closure to keep everything in place. Other than that, things went reasonably well for my first big project. Hurrah!

Now I'm working in earnest on the socks I took to England. I love them even though I'm fairly sure that 80% of the stitches will have been knitted at least twice by the time I'm done, as I am flying entirely by the seat of my pants and feeling free to interpret the pattern as I see fit. I'm going heavy on the lifelines, having already performed major surgery once this week--the odds that I'll have to rip back a bit are excellent. I've just turned the heel and taken a first shot at the beginning of the heel flap, but I think I'm going to take advantage of the most recent lifeline and try again. These are my Learning Socks, and I personally think they're pretty great, plain stockinette or no.

Knit on!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Playing catch-up

I've been a bad blogger. Who can't even follow up with photos of her own bookshelves? They're only in the living room. (In my own defense, getting good photo light in my apartment is a delicate business.) Someday.

But, in the last week, I went here:

Also, does anybody notice anything...wrong with this picture?

The shrug has hit some...shall we say roadblocks? in the end stages, due to my own airheadedness and the fact that knitting references the world over lied to me. Or perhaps I'm just not as good at Kitchener stitch as I expected. (I suspect it's the first.) I'm afraid this is going to end up closer to the "learning experiences" end of the spectrum than the "objet d'art" end, which is mildly disappointing. On the other hand, I may wear it anyway, because I MADE IT. Take that!

I came home sick today with a fever and some cold-like symptoms. Mostly, the whole thing involved me doing some knitting and watching a lot of the first season of Gilmore Girls. (Rory just ran away to the Elder Gilmores' and is about to tell Dean, "I love you, you idiot!" Good times.) Now I've moved on to my favorite episode of 30 Rock, in which the hot guy, The Hair, asks Liz out. She makes Star Wars/Star Trek jokes. It's great. (Ack! I just got spoiled for the future of Friday Night Lights, which just goes to show why old commercials can be dangerous. Curse you, Tivo!)

Aren't you sad that I didn't blog all week? So much excitement!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shelves of Glory

After looking at this and this, I've been thinking a lot about how I organize my books. Or, rather, how I don't organize my books.

You'd think that somebody as list-happy as I am would have an organized bookshelf, but for whatever reason, I'm pretty much about the Shelves of Anarchy. It kind of bothers me--list-happy, remember? Maybe I should decide on something and do it. There's alphabetical, which actually doesn't sound so bad, but it's kind of boring. Some people organize by color, which actually appeals to me, except that it makes me think of my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which are green, purple, orange, and yellow, respectively. I can't separate them; they're a series! And the by-color scheme seems pretty rigid. Anything mis-filed or granted an exception is going to be pretty obvious, and we can't have that! Some people put books together whose authors they believe should be friends, but that comes across as a whole lot of speculation (though potentially entertaining). I've also given some thought to the John-Cusack-in-High-Fidelity model, organizing autobiographically (starting, I suppose, with the copy of The Sneetches I got for my fourth birthday and ending with my new Portable Dorothy Parker?). I would love to be able to pull that off. I'm just not sure it would work. It certainly wouldn't be low-maintenance (which is actually kind of cool--an ever-shifting reflection of life, right there on my bookcase!).

I guess I do have some organizational guidelines. For as long as I can remember, the bottom shelf of my big bookcase has been reserved for the books that won't fit anywhere else: my (sizable) horse-book collection, my Calvin and Hobbes, anything by Dr. Seuss (The Sneetches, again), and the reference section. For awhile I had a "girly classics" shelf, where I kept my Jane Austen books, my Charlotte Brontes, my Louisa May Alcotts, and the like. (L.M. Montgomery would go there, but she has her own spot on top of the bookcase.) But those are all organizational whims more than systems, attempts at keeping things clean or making the books more sociable. In reality, I use the "I moved recently and might move again at any moment" scheme, which is not a scheme at all.

Coming soon: Photos of the shelves in all their freewheeling glory!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

12 of 12: August

What kind of 12-of-12er can't get her pictures up by the 13th, at the latest? The kind with too much to do and a suspiciously buggy-feeling wireless connection, that's who. Think of this as...a fond recollection of the weekend, okay?

What's 12 of 12, you ask? I never explained it, you say (as accused, wrongly, by my brother)? See here.

9:02 - A new twist on the waking-up photo: overhead! Also note that a 9:00 alarm is so much better than a 7:00 alarm (but it's kind of alarming--ha!--that I can't even manage to be conscious by 9:00 without help. How can I call myself a morning person?).

9:55 - I promised the novice coach at my rowing club that I'd cox for his Sunday learn-to-row class, so here we all are on the dock. And yes, that coxswain's seat is actually as small as it looks.

12:47 - Off to Berkeley!

12:56 - Corner of 65th and San Pablo; lost/misplaced and calling my cousin for directions.

1:03 - Found it! Heading to the back yard for....

1:05 - ....Alyson's surprise birthday party! Happy birthday, Alyson!

2:43 - The birthday girl and her cakes.

3:17 - Taking a "swing through" Sephora, if a "swing through" includes inching around the Bay Street parking garage (counterclockwise), squeezing into a space, testing every black eye pencil in the store, erasing the test marks, forgetting which one I'd liked best, re-testing them all, standing in line, paying for parking, and inching around the parking garage (clockwise).

3:30 - Eyeliner tests. Winner: Urban Decay, far right.

4:46 - Plums from the icebox. I was not saving them for breakfast, but they were in fact delicious, so sweet and so cold.

5:10 - Note to self: Church is not the time to be setting up elaborate photographs. Hence the blurry.

9:27 - Birthday party #2! Apple crisp and presents for my mom. Happy birthday, Mom!

Next month: same bat time, same bat channel, possibly on time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

In pieces

Contrary to popular (or is it just personal?) belief, it's looking like I might actually finish this shrug before global warming renders it useless. I had a mild bout of knitter's block last week--I'd finished one half and stopped sewing mid-sleeve on the other, knowing that finishing the seam would only mean more knitting when I realized the thing didn't fit.

I was right--I seamed and wove ends all through Kinky Boots (delightful), and then tied the two halves together to check the fit. As expected, the sizeless pattern was clearly designed for people who don't have anything to measure, and the back needed a good three inches to even approach a decent fit. Here it is at the vital "tied and laid out" stage:

In the interest of full disclosure, I've since seen the light at the end of the shrug tunnel and have been knitting like mad, leap-frogging back and forth between episodes of Firefly and Bones. I think that around the time a) Mal and Zoey rescue Simon and River and become Big Damn Heroes, and b) Brennan actually gets to drive for once, I should have things more or less done. The new thing on my mind is: ribbon closure, or no? It's a good problem to have.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A change of mind

In reading Sarah Vowell this morning on my break, I came across a sentence that got me thinking. That happens a lot with her and me; some of her writing is about American history (and it's a fabulous, thoughtful, nerdily enthusiastic way to learn about that), but some of it's just about life, about being a young adult with friends and family and a brain. I was reading her essay about the time Ira Glass tried to teach her how to drive, and she said, "maybe rethinking driving was just part of the general mind-changing trend of adulthood, part of the same impulse that caused me to reverse my previously held opinions on cucumbers, lipstick, and Neil Young."

I've been thinking all day about the mind-changing trend of adulthood. As an opinionated person, I like knowing what I think about things. I'm a side-chooser. A friend once commented that I have a capsule answer to any question of preference--complete with full reasoning and acknowledgment of loopholes--ready at all times. I took it as a compliment: I know what I think and why I think it. I've never really understood people who don't know what they think.

But it's as an adult that I've realized that my opinions are actually not The Way Things Are, and they don't have to stay the same forever: my identity doesn't shift forever, and the world certainly isn't going to start spinning in the other direction, just because I've decided that, for example, not all pork products are gross. Just because I've chosen a side doesn't mean I can't look around and then sneak back over the line when nobody else is looking. And letting my preferences shift around doesn't mean I know myself any less, or that I'm a less thoughtful person; it just means I can recognize that things change, including myself. And I have changed--in recent memory, just off the top of my head, I've reversed my opinions on tofu, Justin Timberlake, bangs, Friends, contact lenses, Ben Stiller (and back again), Mac computers, vanilla things, sleeping in tents, and wearing pink. It's not even that hard. See?

There are, of course, some things about which I expect never to change my mind (green olives and most brown sodas taste bad; Five for Fighting should stop making records; "interrobang" is a really great word), and there are some things about which I hope never to change my mind (God loves me and is worth loving back; time is more important than money; voting is important and exciting). But I think Sarah Vowell is right: growing up is the act of realizing that the world isn't exactly like you thought it was, and maybe you're not exactly like you think you are, either. And that's okay; you can always change your mind again, anyway.