Tuesday, January 17, 2006

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Good God, so many things to tell....

First of all, thanks to all y'all for counseling me on the best way to dispose of my Borders 25% off coupon. I am famously indecisive (Honey Bunches of Oats or Banana Nut Crunch? Susan Bates or Boye DPNs?), so having you to poll was kind of like dialing my lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionare.

Popular opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of Weekend Knitting (which I suspected would happen), so on Sunday, I traipsed over to the store and once again stood in front of the cornucopia of knitting porn they have there. I leafed through Vintage Knits again, but you all were right--WK has a broader, more varied array of projects. And there's recipes! I do love the books that Melanie Falick has been producing (like Handknit Holidays), that extend wholesome, homespun luxury and goodness into a lifestyle. Without knitting a thing, you can still participate in their lovely escapism.

Anyway, I grabbed WK off the shelf, not because my mind was totally made up, but mostly to stop the voices in my head (buy the book, so many cute patterns, you know you want it, go to Borders, what about those fingerless mittens, etc. etc.) Feeling somewhat more sane, I then stopped in at Joann Fabrics to get a pattern for some pajama pants.

I bought my sewing machine back in....wow. I think it was October. And I've successfully hemmed a skirt and two pairs of pants, and I made a pillow, but I have been chomping at the bit to make something a little more complicated.

For anyone who sews, the Simplicity and McCall's patterns are only $1.99 at Joann's right now! What a deal! I restrained myself from scooping up an armload (because, let's be for real, I still don't even know how to make a buttonhole or insert a zipper), but I did get a pattern for a summer dress and some pretty pink plaid cotton on clearance--two yards for $3.00! So, even if I make a disaster of it, the whole project will have cost me less than lunch at my favorite cafe.

You may be sensing a theme here...it's called post-holiday self-indulgence. Everyone, all together: LET'S SPOIL OURSELVES! Never mind that I did maybe only 1/16 of the holiday knitting that I saw everyone else doing. All that shopping for other people, all that knitting for my loved ones....hey! It took a LOT of self-discipline to not get myself a little something here and there (unless it was on mega-clearance, like the $11.99 dress I snagged at Banana Republic right before my holiday party!).

If I'm sounding a bit like a brat, well, it's because I am. I was feeling a little sorry for myself that I hadn't received any knitting-related presents from Santa and every blogger I know was getting loads of yarny goodness. I even complained on Chris's blog that I had to give myself these gifts, because who knows what I want better than me, huh? But lo and behold, the magic of Christmas came and shocked the shit out of me by bringing me this:

My sweet, dear friend Marie, who I dragged with me almost three years ago to the knitting class where the original madness began, got me the awesome Bagsmith that has a gabillion pockets and a little handle and a carrying strap, and the Little Box of Sweaters. And my friend Lili, who is not a knitter at all, gave me these fantastic Buddha knitting needles as a belated birthday present! Actually, all my Chicago friends got together to give me the box o'goodies they collected for my birthday back in September. Love you guys!

See, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus!

Hopefully, now I can quit being a brat and be satisfied with the stuff I have and put the brakes on all the post-holiday spending (good thing this ain't a clothes blog, is all I gotta say). Which brings me to my next point:


Here are the regular, non-knitting resolutions:

1) Try to spend less.
2) Finish my prospectus.
3) Use my electric toothbrush more often.
4) Exercise more.

Yawn. Bored yet? Me too.

Let's talk about the fun resolutions:

1) Knit more from stash.
2) Attempt to learn new technique (toe-up, two circ socks?)
3) Knit at least one pattern from every new book purchased within the last month, so as to alleviate guilt over throwing tuition money at non-scholarly books.
4) Try my hand at designing something. Anything.
5) Learn enough crochet to make that hot tank top from Vogue Knitting, Summer 2004.

I've decided that if I'm gonna have a knit blog worth reading, I need to have at least a couple of interesting projects going. Otherwise, you're all just here through the sheer force of my personality, and honestly, that makes me worry for the future of my readership.

Let's face it, I'm no Eunny (and is it heresy to confess that I just skip past all the current steeking business? those pictures just make me go all cross-eyed), but I do want to have ongoing projects that are challenging, stuff I can show progress on, and that will allow me to draw on the collective wisdom of all you lovely people.

Anyway, that Vogue tank was the first reason I got fixated on Cascade Fixation, which they don't carry at my LYS. I know! Makes no sense whatsoever. Once, when I asked for it, they suggested I substitute Classic Elite Star. Having bought both, I can tell you now that they are NOT substitutable (is that even a word?)! Fixation is way thinner, while Star is probably around a worsted weight.

I finally bought a couple of balls, which I then decided would go toward Petit Chou, since I hadn't quite mastered the crochet thing beyond a handful of granny squares.

But then I came to my senses. Knitted underwear? How practical would that be? Let alone the fact that I detest handwashing. Hmmm...socks? How about socks?

To most of you, this is a no-brainer. The entire knitting blogworld is gaga over socks. There are too many sock KALs to even count. There is even a celebrity sock, which, much like Madonna, doesn't need any explanation or introduction beyond its one-word name.

But to me, man. Socks are my Mount Everest. I always feel like I'm knitting on that cuff forever and ever, while my hair goes gray and my eyesight starts to grow dim. Is this because I'm in the knitting Stone Age, doing socks on DPNs from the cuff down? I knit and knit, expecting to look down and see the sock trailing behind me like Tita's afghan did in Like Water for Chocolate, but then I actually look and find only an inch's worth of progress.

Nevertheless, socks seemed to be the best option for the Fixation that I had on hand, so back in October, I cast on for the Broadripple socks (which look just like that celebrity sock, if you ask me) from Knitty. By December, I contemplated binding off, calling it a wristwarmer, and crossing a name off my gift list. But then I'd have to explain what it was for, and why there was only one...naw. It was more trouble than it was worth.

The spark that finally got me going on the sock was Heather's blogging about her Flared Lace Smoke Ring, and what a drag knitting it was turning out to be. Now, I'm not really a competitive person (the only sport I was good at in school was Red Rover), but I imagined the two of us at the end of a block, tired after a long day at the playground, and realized that the best and fastest way to get home was to suggest a race.

She took me up on it (ready, set, GO!), but got sidetracked by, what else, socks! that she's knitting for her grandma. I kept going on my Broadripple, though, and finally finished one last night!

Isn't it beeyoootiful? I didn't want to take it off, and wore it the rest of the night as I cast on for the second sock and knit the first few rounds. It feels so good, so...sprungy! I don't know how else to describe it, but the fabric is nice and thick and springy, and it hugs my foot so well. Yum!

Y'all, I can't say enough good things about this yarn. I think that the reason I was so discouraged with my first pair of socks (pre-blog) was because I was using a cotton/wool Lana Grossa yarn and slippery metal dpns. Can you spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R? Well, in ghetto fashion, I'm too cheap to buy the Brittany, so I've stuck to the Boyes, but this Fixation yarn! just doesn't let go of the needles! Watch!

Isn't that fantastic?! Not a single dropped stitch! It's like magic!

The springiness of the yarn is so forgiving, too, that you can't even see the iffy quality of the picked-up stitches in the heel. Holes just disappear.

I encountered one little bump in the road, though, on my way to finishing the toe. I put the sock down a couple of nights ago, went to bed, and woke up in the morning to find my fourth dpn missing. I don't have kids, or pets, so the only explanation can be...gnomes. I don't need much of an excuse to go to Hobby Lobby, so off I went, and guess what? You all better get your hineys over there, because they are selling their knitting needles and accessories at half off! Woo hoo! I got three sets of needles, in sizes 3, 1, and 0, and paid about four bucks for the lot.

I must say, though, that I made a big mistake in buying the size 3s--I decided to try this Balene needle made by Boye, with some super-fancy, super-fast patented tip or whatever. Blech. I'm not sure what this needle is made of, but it looks like plastic, and it feels like knitting with a piece of al-dente spaghetti. It's way too bendy, and makes it hard to do any kind of decreases (k2tog or ssk).

On a final note, have you all seen the Aunt Martha embroidery iron-on transfers at Hobby Lobby? Many of them are cute and kitschy--there's little kittens doing the Monday through Friday chores, as well as chickens and teapots and Holly Hobby. I was leafing through them, and came across a set with, I kid you not, a Mammy illustration doing all the weekday chores. I thought, man, this is some crazy s*$#t--if I were African-American, I'd be pretty pissed. Was it supposed to be ironic, or merely racist?

Shaking my head, I kept sorting through the designs, and then came across...the Mexican designs! You know the ones--the sleeping Mexican under the cactus, on his donkey, etc. WTF?!? Seriously, are people buying these things? It's too ridiculous to take seriously; it would seem that these designs, taken from "yesteryear," are meant to be understood as products of another time. But honestly: can you see yourself stitching Laundry Day Mammy on a tea towel?

For next time: it's gonna be meme city around here!


At 12:43 AM, Blogger candsmom said...

Girl, you are seriously freaking hilarious!! I actually started laughing so hard (out loud, mind you, like a crazy person) at your demented gnome comment. Are you sure we're not related? It's like you know my fam's crazy inside-joke repertoire (of which gnomes are a vital part, clearly). Of course, if we were related, you'd also have the tea-towel with the slanty-eyed Asian doing laundry or brown-nosing for higher grades. ;-)
Your Broadripple looks bee-yoo-tiful, indeed!! Gorgeous, gorgeous colorway! And I love that Fixation embraces the Boye- that's some fine yarn. I have a skein that I'm now totally excited to try after reading your post. Your friends are so sweet- what an awesome haul, Virginia!! That bag is beautiful and those needles crack me up. Hooray for Weekend Knitting (even though I was secretly pulling for Vintage Knits so I could live vicariously, but I'll live...), too! I'm just as bad with being indecisive- the DH makes me promise to pre-decide what I want to eat before we drive to the restaurant to avoid scenes. And hey, you could knit little garter stitch dishcloths year round and I'd still be a loyal reader by sheer force of your personality, don't you know? ;-) Take care!! :-)

At 3:47 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I, of course, am with Chris. But I will take it further -- you could knit only Fun Fur garter stitch scarves, and I'd still be reading. Hey, maybe all three of us were separated at birth!

I am definitely going to try Broadripple -- I have various yarn contenders, including my little bit rock and roll purple fixation. Yours are so nice! I am not sure how socks became The Thing this year, but I know I am on that bandwagon for sure.

Ok, the embroidery designs. I don't know what to say, except, clearly it was the idea of some deranged white person, and for that I am really sorry. ;)

Backyard Leaves -- I tried starting this, and did about 7 rows. I clearly am going to need to practice the edging a little. Did you find some yarn?

At 5:06 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

Ok, there are so many things I want to talk about in this post that I'm going to have to email you later, but I just want to say that if Hobby Lobby were getting an award in its high school yearbook, it would be voted Store Most Free of Irony. Therefore we can conclude that the embroidery transfers are scarily racist. Wow! Way to go, super-Christian store.

Also, the broadripples look awesome! Congrats on finishing your first sock. I have had similar Jaywalker/Broadripple comparison thoughts. Best I can tell, ours have the little YO holes, while the Jaywalkers do not. But yeah-- totally my first thought when I saw that pattern.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Woo wee, that was one long post!!! But you know it was very entertaining, because it held me to the end. However, I've now forgotten everythign I wanted to comment on. Enjoy Weekend Knitting - I now want to pull out my copy and flip through it!! LOL Your sock is great - that gusset is PERFECT. You'll have to come give me a lesson - I'm not believing it was just the yarn that made it work.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous heather said...

jeez loooeez, lots going on with you!

Your sock is rockin'. See, it isn't so bad knitting socks is it? I like the colorway you're using too.

Um, believe it or not, I'm still chugging away at that damn smoke ring. Just not as fast as I'd like to. Got the grammy's socks to worry about don'tchya know. Of course, if I don't finish them in time, you'll know why. Races are so much more fun than deadlines. ;)

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous nancy said...

I love the "huggable hangers" demonstration with the Fixation! Where did that Mexican-serape-sombraro-cactus nap image come from anyway? I work with several Latino men and I've never seen any of them nap under a cactus.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Great sock! I'm not sure what you mean about holes in the heel - it all looks good to me. Beautiful colors, too. Glad you scored "Weekend Knitting" - you won't be sorry! I'm frightened by the implications of the embroidery designs you describe... I kind of want to see them, and I also kinda don't. ack.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Talitha said...

That sock is beautiful and it looks like it does hug your foot quite nicely. Look at the curves on that foot! And nice buy on the needles. Also, thanks for the Baylene review, I keep wondering about them, but seeing as I'm a tightassed knitter (well, not just cheap, really truly tight!), bendy needles probably aren't the best bet. Later!

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Jill said...

This is such a great post , that I read it twice!

At 8:45 AM, Blogger floresita said...

He he, my guess is Aunt Martha's brought back many of its vintage designs because they saw how well the vintage patterns were doing on Ebay. I'm with you that the Mammy patterns are crazy offensive and should not have been re-released.

The Mexican patterns don't offend me so much (even though I'm Mexican). It cracks me up to think that we're always represented as Spanish dancers or lazy men with Sombreros sleeping off a hangover under a tree... :)


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