See? I wasn't kidding. Obnoxious rambling.
I've found myself diving headfirst into the holiday this year, since I didn't do anything last year. I was moving at the time, so I didn't even bother to put up a tree. Overall, an underwhelming holiday with too little time to spend doing all the Christmas things I love.
(This post was sadly abandoned and forgotten until 1/1/2008. Sorry)
*Yarn/Needles/Gift Certificates to knit stores (Knitch or Elann.com are recommended)
*Cool, quirky jewelry
*Books (preferably off of my amazon.com queue to buy)
*New sports bra/workout clothes
*A pretty key chain
*Essential fit jeans from Gap
*Lotion & pillow mist from Bath & Body Works (aromatherapy collection, Eucalyptus Spearmint or Orange Ginger)
*Keihl's baby balm lip balm (my FAVORITE and most necessary item on this list - my lips are dying since mine ran out!)
*An auxilary cable for my iPod to hook up in my car
*A cell phone charger for my car
So, there you go. Those are a few things I want/need. Really, the baby balm is the only thing I need, but otherwise, they're wants.
I've had a lot of fun Christmas shopping for others this year. It's the first year that I've really had money of my own to spend on others, and I'm loving it. Love love loving it. I can't wait until all the presents are wrapped and under my tree.
Any ideas for super quick knits for older brothers? I'm stuck...
(please don't skip post 12, newly added below. it's more than a gimme-list!)
I can't help but wonder if that's why my brain has been in absolute, manic overdrive for the past several weeks. Everything in my world is new. It's like a stimulus overload.
First and cutemost, there are puppies. Not my puppies, of course, but Jesse's sister, Carter's puppies. She's fostering five irresistible little beasts from the Bahamas. The 'breed' is known as the potcake, because that's what the people there give the dogs, who are generally wild, if not feral, to eat. If you're interested, you can learn more about them here or here. They're incredible dogs, so much so, in fact, that I've been engaging in puppy therapy almost every day since Carter got the dogs. There's something about having having five new, squirmy puppies on your lap that keeps even the surliest person from being grumpy. What's that? You want proof, you say? Well here, I have proof for you.
See that? Yeah, that's Jesse, a boy with the capacity to be surly at times, looking completely mollified by the presence of puppitude. But you know, I think he needs more puppy to TRULY get the effects of puppy therapy going.
There it is. A smirk. A blurry smirk, but a smirk nonetheless. Love it. Puppy therapy.
I'm writing this, and wondering what day it'll post under. I know I started this entry several weeks ago, but I'm bad about starting an entry and then walking away from it without finishing it. Anyway, the next new and exciting thing is still new and exciting, at least to me.
Meet my new car, a 2008 Nissan Sentra that I've taken to calling Sonny in my head, though I'm not sure why. I've been driving a 1994 Ford Taurus since I could drive, so a brand new car is definitely wild to me. I still walk out to the parking lot and get a little confused sometimes. The best thing about a new car, at least for me, is its capacity to add a little brightness to a bad day. When I walk out of the studio after a long, exhausting, frustrating day or work and get into this car, it's a conscious reminder of the fact that I'm happy. I'm a really lucky girl with a lot going for me. I'm fortunate, and this car is a reminder of that. Granted, it doesn't take a new car to make me realize these things, but it's a tangible reminder, which is nice to have. It has 500 miles on it, all but 12 of them driven by me. Crazy.
The newness doesn't stop there, though. The details will, because this entry is already ridiculously long, but There's so much more going on. The studio is undergoing major renovations and expansion for our five-year facelift, and of course there's all the newness and excitement of the holiday season, complete with Christmas tree and presents (though that, of course, is its own post). Not to mention new knitting, both projects and goals.
Change is overwhelming, but I'll be darned if it's not exciting.
It's now Saturday evening, and I'm doing my best to get back in the swing of life before Monday bowls me over in a little over 24 hours. I went to bed last night with nary a stitch knit. I needed a moment away from my Fetching gloves, my current project, so that I could regroup and approach the creation of the thumb hole (something I'd not officially done before) with a clear head. I knew when looking at the instructions that "Using waste yarn, k7; slip these sts back to left needle and k them again using working yarn; work in 4x1 Rib as set to end" was not some curious, heretofore unseen code sent to trick me, and yet I - who know that I am no dumber than the 2,723 ravelers who have currently made Fetching gloves - could not seem to put my spatial brain to work deciphering what to do next. So I rested a bit past here (but this was the last picture I took, so this is what you'll see). And I read. And I came back to the Fetchings tonight, and they're glorious. They're done and beautiful and blue and I covet them. Of course I covet them, because I have it in my silly head that I'll be making 3-4 pairs of them before Christmas comes (ha!). The pair I just made, I think, will be for my sister-in-law. I still have machinations to make them for Jesse Dear's sister, Carter, his mom, Lois, and perhaps my own sister and mother. Though, I did find some pretty earrings that I think would suit my sister. They're handmade by a co-op of women in Nepal, and I think she'd like them. At least, if her style is still what I remember it being, she will. I also have a secret knitting-project in the works for my mom, so I might just stick to that for her this year.
Really, I'm nuts, and I'm toying with further exhaustion if I don't pare down my knitting expectations. The problem is, I can't make for my sister-in-law without making for my brother, just as I can't make for my mother without making something for my father. I wish things like small knitted ornaments appealed to me, but they just don't. They feel like knitting time wasted to me, even if it's just an hour of time wasted. So, for now my expectations are thoroughly out of control. They always are, you see. That's a bit of my personality that I'm still working on coming to terms with. I'm adapting to it and wrestling it into manageability, so I'm sure it will be okay.
To further our theme of exhaustion for the day, it's 1:40 in the morning, and I have nowhere to sleep. My bed is covered in freshly laundered clothes and the new bedspread set that I have yet to unpack and put onto the bed, and my sofa-bed is covered in Christmas ornaments, which I spent the evening sorting and examining for their thematic appropriateness for the direction in which I want to go with this year's tree. I've generally been a very traditional, red and gold Christmas tree kind of girl, but this year, I'm all about the peacock colors, as well as a bit of icy blue and green. It'll be beautiful, you'll see. You'll see because I finally have a digital camera cord with which to show you. Oh, we are in trouble.
The problem is, there isn't a lot to write about when I try to go back and do a retrospective entry. Sure, plenty has happened, including a fun trip, a wonderful Thanksgiving, a delightful ride through Atlanta on 150 CC Vespas, but it's so hard to go back and write about it when it's so far in the past.
So, I'm going to try to do better. I've been looking back at old LiveJournal entries, and I miss the way that I could look at that and remember exactly where I was in my life at the time that I wrote particular entries.
So here I am. I'm back. Enjoy me.
One passion I have is for empathy, compassion, and my desire to help make this world a better place than it was when I came into it. I haven't been doing enough to fulfill that desire lately (by any means), and I can feel the absence of it in my life. It's that absence that has led me to start sending out volunteer applications to causes that matter to me. It's interesting, then, that the Yarn Harlot posted an entry today about New Orleans. I remember when Katrina hit, wanting to leave school for the semester and go to help rebuild. I wanted to uproot myself and replant in a place where I could help others re-establish their roots. I saw a concrete opportunity to help make a difference for people who need it, and I didn't take it. So, I read Stephanie's post about the state of things there, commented, and proceeded to read the comments of others. One in particular struck me at my core, hurt me in a deep way, even though it was not a personal attack. One blogger wrote, "As a response to both the post and the comments... It's not the government's job to make sure people have food, clothing, and shelter. It's our responsibility to make sure we have food, clothing, shelter, and the means with which to acquire them. America doesn't ascribe to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." We demand a certain level of personal responsibility. The mayor and governor *didn't* ask for help from the federal government (which it certainly could have, but, you know, politics got in the way), which is a major reason why federal help (and the Red Cross) weren't in the city ASAP."
I was taken aback. It pains me to see such a lack of compassion from anyone. I had to write myself an email just to get the instant and overwhelming rush of emotions out of my head and into the ether in a place where they can do no harm. I just keep asking myself so many questions about how this person and people like her whose responses I've read must think. My inner empath is enraged by the response of so many people to what has been lost. Are the losses any less painful because of who it was that lost them? Are we to feel less for the people who are homeless and living in FEMA shacks because "they didn't have that much to begin with"? How can we let our own justice department spend $60 per person on their lunches when there are people who don't have $60 to spend on food for their families for a week? There is no justice in suffering and poverty, no matter who endures it.
And what can be said to this blogger who says that it's not our government's job to help these people? Are we, as a democratic nation, not supposed to be the core behind our government? If we show indifference and do not ask the government to be accountable, how can we demand accountability from anyone?? If the people who we select to represent us are not asked to take care of these people, are we not thus absolving ourselves of responsibility to help our fellow man? The commenter says that "we are not a nation that ascribes to 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. [and that] we demand a bit more personal responsibility." But what are we as people, as human beings who are inextricably connected and tied to one another as brothers and sisters in the human race if we do not make it our personal responsibility to help one another simply because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO? How can anyone look at human suffering and decide that it is not his or her problem? We are only as great as the kindness that we show to our weakest, our most disadvantaged, our forgotten.
This sadness and outrage (partnered with a hope that I cannot stifle) is the what led me to be a Sociology major. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn why (and hopefully change the fact that) we as a nation allow some people in our country to suffer so terribly while throwing millions and billions of dollars at judicial luncheons and galas at the White House and multiple homes and luxury cars and Paris Hilton and ... ugh. I have to step off of the soapbox for my own sanity's sake, but we Americans are a confusing culture with wonky values, to say the least. I almost have to thank that commenter for the way that what I can only see as her ignorance has re-ignited the desire in me to use every moment of my life to make a change.
Anyway, now that I've settled into my new job (though I keep getting new projects piled onto my head on a weekly basis... long term projects with no foreseeable end date), I hope that I can return to the knitting and blogging world. Autumn is my favorite season for a number of reasons, so hopefully the glee that it inspires in me will encourage me to capture it all in blog form.
This is another instance in which if you breathe you likely know about all of the Harry Potter madness going on. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and only recently realized that my adoration may be nearing obsession level. The big clue for me was when I started buying, you guessed it, Harry Potter hand-dyed yarn colorways. In fact, now that I look back on it, I distinctly recall that my first trip to the yarn shop to buy something with a particular project in mind, I was buying maroon and old gold yarn to make a Gryffindor scarf. I couldn't find a pattern at the time for the "trapped bars" style Harry Potter scarf I wanted, so I took a stab at it myself. It came out reasonably well, but it could certainly be better if I did it today. Now, of course, I have sock yarn (and I wasn't even really a sock knitter!) colored in imitation of Fawkes the phoenix (one sock done!), Professor Sprout, The Half Blood Prince, Salazar Slytherin, and Lord Voldemort. I'm tempted to start dying yarns myself in order to avoid having to buy anymore custom yarn. I am hesitant, though. There's something magical about watching the yarn change colors and not knowing what is coming next.
I am distracted and this entry is most certainly an unfinished work, but for now, I post. Jesse Dear is sick and I'm going to go and check on him. Perhaps I'll return when I have a bit of focus.
You wake up, totter to your computer (for some, this might not be the first step after waking up, but let's all remember that I'm 23; I was raised in the age of computer dependency. If I could have a microchip drip into my arm it might make life a little less twitchy when I'm away from my laptop), and power it up to check your email, you know, just in case someone wrote to you in between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 AM. You see that you have, as you sometimes do, an email newsletter from your local yarn shop. This could be a missive like any other, but it's not. You can feel it.
Something emanates off of this email. There's a ethereal glow around the from line. Your skin tingles as your mouse's pointer moves to open it. You just know, deep within your knitter's soul, that this email is special. Maybe they've finally gotten the color of Cascade Pastaza that you ordered. Maybe they've received a shipment of rare bone needles, and you are one of the lucky few they've decided to tell before they hit the shelves (though why would they do that? it's not as though you rush to the shop immediately each payday and consider whatever you spent to be a standard, government-withheld "knitter's tax"). Maybe, if you're lucky, they're having one of those delicious tax-free weekends.
Maybe it's something better, but you don't dare get too hopeful.
You open the email, and it's far better than you could have imagined. Your favorite local yarn store, the one that always looks like little pixies have come in to clean and organize and decorate (which must be the case because everyone who works there is always happily knitting in cozy chairs or lovingly fondling the yarn; they're never doing REAL work), is having a sale. An incredible sale. You will get to draw little duckies out of a "duckpond" and they'll be marked with savings. You'll save a minimum of 10% on your entire purchase, and one lucky duck has 100% savings. You could get all your yarn for free. You knew this email was special, but you had no idea just how special.
You keep reading, and it gets better. There will be grab bags. Little, mysterious bags that will contain, this heavenly messenger tells you, a minimum of two times the purchase price worth of goodies. Your heart races with excitement. You're nearly drooling at the thought of grab bags, the little pouches of joy that you first met at the Hello Kitty store in the mall as a child. Back then a $1.00 bag that contained two pencils and a pack of gum was thrilling. But now! Now, the goodies will be knitterly, and presumably worth far more than a dollar!
I hope that I'm not the only lucky knitter out there who has known this exhilaration. If I am, well, then all of you should move to Atlanta and start shopping at Knitch. I got more amazing yarn than I can even catalogue there this weekend. I just have to figure out what to make with all of it. And those grab bags? They were even better than I expected (8 balls of Debbie Bliss silk alpaca for $20.00 kind of good).
There’s the significant other who warns you that your yarn spending may be getting out of hand if you want to be able to afford to have a child and send it to college one day (doesn’t he know that good wool is a sound investment?). Maybe you have the sibling who suggests that you could chip in for Dad’s birthday present if you didn’t insist on knitting him new dress socks every year (well, yeah, but he enjoys wearing the socks far more than he likes mowing the lawn with the new mower). If you started knitting at a young age, you likely had the college roommate who suggested that you keep less yarn in the dorm room because it was getting a little crowded (if you look at it as part of the décor, it doesn’t feel so cramped). It’s generally easy to write these folks off as unenlightened. The brave among us even try to win them over through explaining how fun knitting is or introducing them to the comfort of hand-knitted socks. Even still, the majority of knitting nay-sayers remain so despite our best efforts. In my head I call these folks knitmares.
The lucky knitters have a few knitting enablers to balance the negative juju that the knitmares ooze in our general direction. The luckiest of us have more enablers than detractors, resulting in a life full of Merry Christmases with rightfully appreciated knitted gifts and happy trips to the yarn shop. I am blessed. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother is a serious enabler. She drove all over the city with me the last time I visited her in an attempt to help me find the area’s only yarn shop before it closed. She looks at and coos over everything I make. She even took up knitting briefly when I first got into it. Her encouragement keeps me knitting on the days when I think that I can’t barrel through another inch of knit two, purl two ribbing.
Another fantastic enabler, I’ve found is Jesse Dear (yes, another person who will likely come to be referred to by initials. Did anyone else have a flashback to “John Dear” from Lady & the Tramp when I named him? Was that just me?). Jesse is an enabler to the second power. Not only is his mother a knitter (my first real knitting friend, I might add) who accompanies me to the yarn store and shops, oohs, and ahs as much as I do, but he also seems to appreciate the things I knit (and if he doesn't, he wisely pretends that he does). Much of the time we spend together, when we aren't harassing one another and I'm not kicking his rear at MarioKart, is spent on nice, peaceful pursuits. There's a lot of idle-ish time spent simply enjoying one another's company. We watch tv, talk, lay around on the couch with a movie on, and read together. The great thing about these little ways in which we pass the time is that they grant me lots of guilt-free knitting opportunities. He reads; I knit. We watch tv; I knit. He creates awesome websites on his computer; I knit. The point is, we're both people who often choose to stay in together rather than go out. We're not partying types (What's that Courtney? You're a 23 year old knitter, but you're not a party girl? I'd never have guessed!). Occasionally, though, we both break character and go out for the evening. We have a fondness for art gallery openings, Wednesday night trivia at the local Mellow Mushroom, and snooty beer at the Belgian pub on the square.
Friday night, we decided to go a little crazy and head out for a bite to eat and a movie (hush, you! for us, it was a little crazy). We started at Alon's, a local bakery that now has the distinct honor of being one of only three places in the city where I will order and actually enjoy a sandwich (I don't like sandwiches, generally. Don't ask me why; I don't know.). After a light meal we drove to Atlantic Station to see Ratatouille. I have long been a fan of Disney/Pixar films, but Ratatouille was phenomenal. It was so fun and funny that JD and I were both laughing out loud the entire time. It was a huge improvement over our last movie choice, Spiderman 3, which was so bad that it left both of us unsure of whether it was worth it to ever go see another movie again. In fact, the movie was so good that I didn't knit a single stitch the entire time.
And you know what? I had so much fun that I didn't mind not knitting for an entire evening one bit. Just don't expect me to do it again any time soon.
This, of course, is in stark contrast to my fascinations. I am a self-professed nature baby. I take inexplicable pleasure in sitting outside for hours on end and watching all the creatures go by. Waking up before the sunrise is worthwhile to me, if only because it affords me an opportunity to sit outside and listen to the world before the city wakes up. By virtue of my earth-loving nature, I often feel somewhat out-of-place in the concrete and steel of Atlanta, but I manage. The point is, if it isn't soft or fluffy or natural or born and growing from the earth, it doesn't really interest me for too long, no matter how many bells and whistles it may have.
This difference between SD and me has never been more evident than it is right now. If you ... well, if you breathe then you're likely aware that the iPhone premieres here in the US tomorrow. In fact, when I just IM'd SD to ask him when the release date was he said, "Tomorrow, 6pm... Say your prayers. It might be the end of the world; the second coming. I might go to confession just in case." The thing is, he's not kidding. He's been worshipping at the altar of this gadget since it was little more than a rumor. I was forced to endure the announcement that Steve Jobs made about it at least four times. I'm relatively sure that the fact that it's debuting tomorrow while SD is overseas and unable to get his hands on it will cause him to spontaneously combust, if only a little. Thankfully he will be nowhere near my stash when it happens.
Two nights ago, while I was being put through torture-by-listing-of-iPhone-features for some undisclosed crime against humanity, I gave SD a little taste of his own medicine. He was telling me the nine ways that the iPhone can toast your bread (or something like that. I've really started to tune it out), and I linked him to some sale yarn that I found. For each mention of the iPhone, he gets another yarn link. I'm excited about this little form of reinforcement. Either he'll learn to stop trying to make me excited about gadgets, or if he doesn't, he'll at least start learning what yarn I like. We haven't gone head to head yet, but I'm pretty sure I have more wool than the iPhone has functions. I suppose we'll soon see, though if you ask me, the most exciting thing about the phone is that it will give SD something to do other than juggling the yarn balls when I drag him into the shop with me.
I learned my lesson about lecturing him on how expensive his little gadget-habit is, though. When I told him that the iPhone seemed an awfully expensive purchase considering that he just bought a new laptop, he pointed out that I very likely have more than $600 worth of yarn in my stash. I am loathe to tell him that I know he's right, and that's just one basket.
You know, I am learning that there is definitely some kind of fiber-karma floating around out there. If you think hateful and disparaging things about the knitting perils of others, you will soon come to have a project so frustrating that it forces you to think hateful and disparaging thoughts about your own knitting, all the while questioning your skill and sanity.
Case in point, I recently bought Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, and I fell in love instantly with the young, stylish knits that I found in it. I wanted to start with something light that was easy and quick enough that I could start and finish it with time to wear it most of the summer and fall. I chose the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest, though I chose to knit it in a lovely, lightweight, soft brown wool that has been making eyes at me from within my stash for months now. I began the sweater several weeks ago and started to knit on it, finding the project to be an absolute dream. Simple, classic, and best of all seamless construction that seemed to just fly off of my needles. By the end of day two I had made it all the way down the neck, divided for the arm shaping, rejoined, and knit several inches of beautiful, bust-hugging bodice. I estimated that at the rate I was going, I'd have a gorgeous sweater in no more than a week, four or five days at best. I considered the fact that I finished an enormous lace baby blanket in just a couple of months (very shortly after I started knitting, actually! how is it that I managed to do that?) to be proof that I had the stamina to pull it off with no trouble.
Then, I entered... the Twilight Zone (you have to say it in Rod Serling's voice in your head - it sounds great that way).
I'm pretty sure that in the knitting twilight zone there are little goblins that crawl onto your needles and release one stitch for each one you complete. There is no other explanation for the fact that over the course of 3 days during which all of my free time went to working on my sweater, I made less than 2 inches worth of progress. Where were my stitches going?
I'm sure it seems like this is the point in my entry where I tell you that I'd made some error and I was knitting twice as many stitches as I needed in each row or something and that the Black Hole Project doesn't exist, but I didn't make any sort of mistake. There's no explanation. No matter how much or how fast I knit, I just couldn't make progress. The BHP is all too real.
So, to fight my way out of the black hole, I did what any other sane knitter would do. I knit a sock.
My first sock.
More on that later.
Seriously. I had to put my glee here because there is no one who I can call and tell who will appreciate it. And, you know, that's why I started this thing.
I have no illusions that this wee little journal will chronicle feats of unmatchable knitting greatness (yes, I'm looking at you and your nine lace bridesmaid dresses, Knitting Iris) or ever attract hundreds of commenters on each post (why would I be glaring at the Yarn Harlot? I'm not glaring at the Yarn Harlot). I simply realized recently that somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of the conversations that I try to hold with my friends and family at some point come around to knitting. It's a good portion of what I do. Thus, it's what I talk about. So, rather than jumping up and down trying to make the unenlightened in my world appreciate just how incredibly awesome it is that I recently found 800 yds of cashmere on sale for just $30.00, I'm going to jump up and down and make you, dear reader, appreciate it, because if you're knitters (and I can't imagine you'd be reading this if you weren't) then you already know how exciting that is. Don't you?
This blog is also partially for my mother, who lives far away and still lovingly pays my rent while I spend part of my own earnings on yarn, and I think she deserves to see the fruits of my yarn-loving labor. She always listens patiently when I gush about the things I'm knitting, and she either feigns or actually has quite a lot of enthusiasm for the things I knit. So, I know that if no one else is appreciating my knitting posts, she is. It would be very easy for her to say, "Courtney, stop buying yarn and make your own darn rent payments." This blog is my way of thanking her for not saying that... yet.
Another impetus for this little endeavor is the fact that Sweet Darold (heretofore referred to as SD) is overseas in Austria for the entire summer. As SD often takes up large parts of my time by forcing me to do real social things like a human being, such as going out to new restaurants and going to see movies (can you imagine his gall? it's too dark to knit in a movie theatre, and all that talking coming from the big screen makes me lose my place in the pattern!), his absence has left a giant chunk of otherwise unoccupied time in my day that has now been devoted to knitting, thinking about knitting, reading knitting books, or planning what to knit next. Needless to say, I'm getting a hell of a lot more knit now that he's away. Do you think he'll forgive me if I ask him to extend his trip until I get my Christmas present knitting done? Austria has to be worth it, right?
So, for now, I'm at work, and cursing the fact that I don't have a digital camera handy so that I can show you my first ever sock. I've been knitting for several years now, and I've just never taken the plunge on socks until two days ago. Now I have what I think is a lovely first sock and an unquenchable thirst to knit more. I already have more sock yarn in transit to me. I'm thrilled.
Blog updates may be slightly infrequent until the internet in my apartment gets repaired, but hopefully the desire to talk on this blog a bit more will make me into the proverbial squeaky wheel, prompting my landlords to grease me up with a little internet access. Until then.