Sunday, April 23, 2006

This is most certainly not blogging.

Because I am actually studying and writing. Really and truly.

But since I had to post the FO pictures for my sockapaloooza socks, so that I could make the update on Tuesday, this is a bare-bones post. And not really blogging.

Sockapaloooza Socks!

Pattern: Rib and Cables, from Interweave Knits Fall 2004
Yarn: Hill Country Yarn, in Pecan Grove
Needles: Boye dpns, size 1

I might update later with the gauge and dimensions, when I have time to be a good knitting blogger. These are technically not FOs, because I have yet to weave in the ends, but they are GOOD ENOUGH for a photo.

Y'all already know that I worry about the fit, never having made socks for anyone else, but I love the yarn and the pattern, with all its little quirks (yo short rows, cone shaped toe). I am not a sockster, not just yet, so I appreciated the chance to knit the heel and toes in a way that is new to me.

OK, this is now turning into a real blog post, and it's not supposed to. Over and out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lost: One Mind. Reward.

I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking when I was getting ready last night to go out to listen to Neko Case at La Zona Rosa. All I knew is that she is beautiful and all the little boys luh-uv her, and somehow I had to dress up in order to hold my own.

Now, you may be laughing your asses off right now. Hold my own against...the headliner? While she's in the spotlight and I'm buried somewhere in the dark, anonymous crowd? Yes, I know it makes little sense and even less as you go along, but there it is.

My boyfriend LUH-UVS Neko Case. He calls her The Voice. This is the boy who needs at least at minimum two drinks to allow himself to be pulled on the dance floor, but play him some Neko and his eyes get all faraway and he starts swaying back and forth, in a little world of his own.

So, while I knew that nobody would care what I looked like last night, I figured I would try to look hot at least for the boy, so that he might remember that I was actually still standing next to him once Neko got on stage.

I also come from a people who love to dress up for concerts. Concerts are events. When my girlfriends and I went to see Juanes, a Colombian rock/pop star, back in February, we got all dolled up, the whole nine yards--makeup, jangly earrings, sweet perfume. The theory being, I suppose, that somehow Juanes would spy us in the first mezzanine, make eye contact, and maybe even wink, or wave.

But here in Austin, there are very few concerts. People go to shows, and they go in whatever ratty jeans they were wearing all day and flip flops. Arriving at La Zona Rosa in my bum-hugging jeans and slinky backless silk top last night, I was easily one of the most over-dressed people there.

But, the boy assured me that he appreciated my outfit, and that was all I really cared about, right? The lights dimmed, the opening band came on and did their thing, and once they shuffled off the stage, Neko came on to set up her equipment with her band. She wore a ratty red t-shirt that said something about Kentucky on it, and had her hair in a messy updo on the top of her head. I gaped in disbelief. She's going to change, right? I asked the boy. He shrugged. Probably not.

She didn't. She merely let her tangled red hair down to flow down her back, stood in front of the mike, and let The Voice rip out into the waiting crowd.

At that moment, I felt truly ridiculous. Because, clearly, it doesn't matter what this girl wears. It isn't the point. All she has to do is throw her head back, open her mouth, and let that voice soar, shimmer, and drop. Both men and women on either side of me were entranced, all of them with that little faraway look in their eyes. With my boy's hand on my waist, I settled in and started to sway a little, myself.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

And now, back to our regularly scheduled crafting content.

Happy Easter, babes in blogland! I'm not supposed to be blogging, I'm supposed to be studying (which I will do, right away, after this post!), but I couldn't stay away from you all, not one more second! I hope all of your holidays have been wonderful.

As for myself, I'm still suffering from Daylight Savings Time (second week and counting). And excuse me, but where the blip did April go? I had a mini-meltdown the other day upon realizing that it was already tax day. It didn't bother me so much that my taxes weren't done (they are fairly simple and I knocked them out yesterday afternoon), but that precisely two weeks have slipped by and I have done zero work on my ever-loving prospectus. I know it's a tired old cliche, but I feel like the proverbial hamster in my wheel, spinning through my days and just trying to keep my head above water.

And crafting? I was suffering through some serious crafting withdrawal, not having really worked on anything seriously in days, and then I just said f*ck it and made my Sew? I Knit! tote. My friend Cristina's birthday was coming up, and I had gone to JoAnn's to get some orange fabric to make this bag to fit the Project Spectrum theme this month, so I decided to whip it out for her. My roommate asked me if I thought I'd get it done, and looking at the pattern, I said, sure! No problem.

Good thing I spread the project out over three days, because I was able to finish it at a leisurely pace, without rushing, and with time to iron out the little details (like the handle ends not matching and making the lining look neat). It's always the little details that give me the most trouble.

And why is it that every time, EVERY time I start a sewing project, there's always some notion or facing or fusible that I overlooked on the pattern instructions, and there I go back to Joann or Hancock, fighting rush hour traffic all the way. This time, for Butterick B3873, the information about needing Sewn In Fusible Interfacing was on the inside instructions. Silly me, why would I think that all I needed to look at was the back of the envelope?

After working out the fussy details, I ended up with this:

Here's a closer shot, with a view of the dark orange lining:

But where's my sockpal sock? you may be asking yourself. (Especially sock sister Ina!) Are any of you feeling the deadline pressure now? Whew! About two more weeks to go and even less if you have an international pal, like I do. Hopefully the sweat from my brow won't get the sock yarn all soggy.

In spite of this, I put the sockpal sock aside to knit a little shrug for Jennifer for Easter. She cautiously inquired about the shrug I owe her from....was it March? She wanted to wear a pretty spring dress from J. Crew, but needed to cover up the back and shoulders for mass, being the good church girl she is. ;-) I knew that there would be no way that shrug would be done, but offered instead to whip up a One Skein Wonder. This was last Tuesday. Are you sure? she asked. Yes! No problem!

Especially since I had made these before, I figured I'd get it done, practically in my sleep. Well, friends, that's almost what it came down to last night. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday I went to my LYS and bought two skeins of Wick, a soft springy yarn by Knit One Crochet Two, in a pretty china blue. Since I was busy on Wednesday night (busy stuffing my face at Asti, a shmancy little trattoria here in Austin), I didn't get any knitting done that day.

Thursday I took my needles and yarn to second night Passover seder at a friend's house, and cast on underneath the table as we were waiting to begin. After dinner, while we hung out and talked, I knit a bit more, getting about an inch or two done.

Friday, Jennifer and I went to see Take the Lead, the new Antonio Banderas movie, and I took the knitting. I found that I'm pretty good at knitting in the dark, but can I be blamed for forgetting an increase with all that dancing and all that Antonio on the screen? (although, girls, you have to see him in his prime in Tie me up! Tie me down!) Good progress made, but had to rip back a few rows because that missing increase was making my OCD flare up.

Saturday. Ah, Saturday, my day of peace and relaxation. I woke up and sat and knit in my jammies while watching a half hour of Tex Avery cartoons on TCM. Pure decadence! I finished knitting the body, and put it down so that I could stretch, shower, and do my taxes.

Saturday afternoon, I realized that I was going to have to do the sleeves and the ribbing later that evening, because I was going to a free Calexico show at Emo's at 7. I briefly considered taking my knitting into Emo's but I just couldn't do it. If you've ever been there, you'd know why. It doesn't the atmosphere.

Afterward, my boy and I went to Crown and Anchor for beer and a burger, and I laid on the line. I have work tonight, I told him. I gotta finish that shrug. We agreed to go back to his place so that I could knit and he could read. Two more hours, I said. That's all I need.

By one o'clock I could see that I was almost close. But the boy was falling asleep next to me, so I took my leave and went back home to finish. Because I WAS going to finish, dammit. My Jennifer was NOT going to walk into Easter mass looking like a hoochie because of me.

Have you ever knit so late that you started falling asleep, but kept knitting? I'm working the 2x2 rib around the edge, and I found myself dozing off, and waking up to see that I had knit 4 knit stitches. I was knitting in my sleep....hilarious! Now I just need to learn how to do rib in my sleep, too. After knitting about half an inch to three quarters of an inch of ribbing, I finally called it a night, deciding I would cast off in the morning.

Sunday morning, um, I mean, today, I woke up at 8:15, brewed a cup of coffee, and set about casting off the gazillion stitches. I considered doing another round, but fearing that I would run out of yarn and doing a reality check (we were leaving at 9 to go to mass), I just bound off. Throwing on a dress and running a comb through my hair, we hopped into the car, and I stitched together the sleeves. Remembering how my mother would always make our Easter dresses, pretty and ruffly but just don't look at the inside seams, I decided I didn't have time to weave in the ends, and just tucked them in as she slid the shrug on.

Guess what? It looked beautiful. I kept an eye on her as she went up to receive Communion (I stay in the pew, always the Prodigal Daughter) to make sure no stray bits of yarn were peeking out around the edges.

We got a morning croissant and coffee at Quack's after church, before heading home to make brunch for our friends:

Later, after brunching on frittata and waffles and fruit, we came back to Quack's to "work." My friend Lena was marveling that I had turned out that shrug in time for the deadline, and I said, smacking my books on my stack of books, that I was DETERMINED, damnit, to finish it. Because I had promised I would.

And then realized that if I had attacked my prospectus with the same amount of diligence and determination...well, I could have been on the freaking job market at this point. So I've decided to put a progress bar, over there on the right, for my prospectus. I want you all to hold me to it...check in, bug me about it, demand to see pages (OK, well, I won't put you through that, but do hold me accountable, please!). Apparently I am good at deadline crafting...why can't that carry over to my writing? Why????

OK, am whining now. How was your Easter?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Poetry for the Revolution.

Across the nation, thousands participated in walkouts and marches today, demonstrating for immigrant rights. Here at the University of Texas, students gathered in the morning to march to the Capitol. I'm not just talking college students; middle school and high school kids came marching from miles away, risking suspension and other retaliatory action.

Go here if you want to see some beautiful pictures taken today by my brilliant boy.

And here, a prayer for justice.

"Imagine the Angels of Bread"

by Martín Espada

This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

--from Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996)

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm going back to bed.

Was anyone else thrown off by this whole "spring ahead" business? I could barely get out of bed today and I thought it was just me, but then when I compared notes with some of my friends, it turned out that we'd all been stricken by this malaise. How is it possible that one measly hour can throw you off for two whole days? (Maybe I'll just milk it indefinitely..."Yeah, I'm pretty tired. The whole daylight savings thing threw me off." "But it's Memorial Day.")

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I am given to the occasional non-knitting, political rant. I do not have a rant at this time, but I feel compelled to say one thing about the current wave of anti-immigration sentiment. I won't go on at length; others have put more time and effort into analyzing and countering this hysteria.

All I wanna say is: it's an election year. Hi?! This is not a new issue, yet the public is being expertly manipulated (even cornered) into taking extreme positions on this so that they can take their anger right to the polls. Happened last time, with the gays and their crazy demands to be treated equally by the law. Sound familiar? People, don't let those pinheads in Washington do your thinking for you.

Bueno! On with the knitting content.

Things have been very nice around here at Chez Yo la Tejo. The knitting goes slowly, but it goes. However, I was surprised by the lovely blog button that Claire made for me! Just out of the blue, she goes and sends me this wonderful gift. I never would have made it for myself, since it was challenging enough to get my banner up (and took me a while to realize that the skewed template caused half my readers to try and read pink text on a pink background as a result--sorry, guys!).

So here's the button, if buttons are your thing. Yay! Be sure and visit Claire, who's a kindred spirit politically and musically (who else loves Lyle and Lucinda as psychotically as I do?). And! who has a lovely FO to show off.

How are you all doing with your Sockapaloooza socks? My sock sister, checking in with us today, wrote about the "not-sures." Ina sez:

"They're not sure their pal will like their socks, not sure the socks will fit, etc, etc. Some proceed; some turn back. I'm afraid I know of no cure for such existential doubt. Zen masters sometimes administer a brisk bop alongside the head, but I'm no Zen master and that's impracticable in cyber-space."

Am I suffering from the "not sures"? Well, as I recently posted, I'm done with one sock and am making good progress on the second cuff. I love my Hill Country Yarn; can't say enough good things about the gorgeous colors in the Pecan Tree colorway. If you're a green-loving person, you have to get yourself a skein of this stuff. The colors go from bright green (the color of a new leaf), to true green, to forest green, then dark olive green right before it turns brown.

Knitted up, the fabric does remind me of peeking through the dark brown branches of a big tree and looking at all the different hues of green in the leaves, depending on which were being highlighted by the sun and which were tucked away in the shade. I also ordered a skein of Longhorn Orange from Hill Country, and while it's lovely, it doesn't have the same kind of color variations as this colorway.

I'm also enjoying the Rib and Cable pattern I'm using from IK Fall 2005. Encouraged by Laura and finding much success on Sheep and No City, I decided on this pattern even though my cabling experience is limited. It's super easy, only cable once every eight rounds, and the rest is knitting the ribs.

When I started turning the heel and found that the short rows involved yarnovers, I began to have doubts. Ashley was of the opinion that the YO short row is a tool of Satan, but I decided to blithely (and perhaps foolishly) forge ahead. My sock-making experience is sorta limited, so I decided to use this as a learning experience and see exactly what would happen with these durned YOs.

Well, it turns out that the variegated yarn hides those little holes pretty well. There's only one visible on the ankle, and if it bothers me enough, I might take a little needle and thread and close it. Cheating? Yes. Do I care? Not really. I'm the girl who uses band-aids when a strapless bra is not available. Just call me the MacGyver of knitting (and support garments, apparently).

The toe also threw me for a loop, initially. I started decreasing at the three corners where the dpns met, instead of on the two sides. Huh? I thought it was going to look like a cone. Who has a cone-shaped foot? But I decided to have a little faith, and kept going, and well, who knew? It looks OK.

Here's the front:

And the back:

The purl 2 togethers they have you do look like little stitches, and are actually kind of cute.

So if I love the yarn, and am satisfied with the pattern, what am I not sure about? Oh god, people, the FIT! Will this thing FIT? I've measured and re-measured, stuffed my arm into the cuff, checked the pattern specs, and all indications are that it probably will fit. My friends, all reasonable people, have tried to reassure me. Yet I remain paralyzed by doubt.

And yet, I must knit on. Because other than the fact that the cuff looks so skinny (and this is because of the ribs and cables), there are no logical reasons that I should rip back. And honestly, there's no time left to monkey around with this thing.

Maybe I'll include a "satisfaction guarantee" policy? Like, if the socks cut off this poor woman's circulation and she ends up permanently hobbled because of the Rib and Cables, I will happily offer to knit her a new pair!