19 June 2007

Under the Boardwalk

No beach knitting on my weekend escape but lots of pretty scenery.

Congratulations, Joe and Hilda! It was a gorgeous weekend!

14 June 2007

It's 5 o'clock somewhere...

... or perhaps I should say that it's 5 o'clock everywhere, at least for the next four days. There will be beach and sun and knitting and trashy magazines and junk food and drinks involving vodka. Oh yeah, and a wedding...

There won't be modeling of a finished shawl. Changed my dress plans and came to my senses about the actual time needed to complete each of those charts. I figured since I was really enjoying the process, no need to rush through it at the end just to make a self-imposed deadline. I'll do modeling shots on the "beach" at Lake Erie. It's kinda like the ocean, right? Well, if you squint really hard, ignore the toxic water and minor details like say, seeing the Canadian shoreline in the distance. We're Americans, we can ignore Canada, right?

Anyway, will return with a new energy for blogging, writing, and keeping my nose clean... hopefully. Oh yeah, and a contest for my blogiversary.

Just a few announcements:

- Mystery Stole 3 sign-ups are going on until July 6. Clues start June 29. I know there's absolutely zero chance of me keeping up with the group, but it's fun to play along. Last year the finished stoles were amazing and I imagine this year's design will be equally inspiring. If you're a lace knitter, you should give it a try. (FYI, link above is to the very, very talented designer. You have to sign-up through Yahoo Groups.)

- Ravelry really is all that and a bag of chips. I received my invite last weekend and have only had about an hour to play so far, but it's going to be a really great tool. If you're in the queue, do get started getting all your Flickr photos whipped into shape. I haven't been keeping up with the uploading and it's going to be time-consuming now to catch up. I'll post more once I have time to play.

Off to slather on the SPF 60+ and think about nothing more serious than the latest issue of Cosmo and what flavor ice cream I want to eat for dinner! Margaritas for everyone!

09 June 2007

Little Boxes

This week my Netflix fix included Weeds, the comedy about the suburban, pot-dealing widow delivering a bit of chemical escape to her fellow private-community-dwelling pals. At first, I skipped this one, finding the whole concept a bit too contrived in its methodology of bringing up stereotypes and then, oh surprise of surprises, inverting them. There are a few groan-worthy moments, but overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how smart and funny this show really is. And for the time-challenged among us (um, that would include pretty much all of us except for those bored, rich housewives with nothing to do outside of daily Pilates class, a weekly PTA meeting and ordering about the maids), I give it many, many stars for being cute and clever in bite-size, less-than-30-min. chunks.

Anyway, the whole point behind my recommendation is that the theme song for the show is wonderful and is completely stuck in my head. (If you haven’t heard it, go here for the lyrics.) Since I’ve been walking around humming “Little Boxes, Little Boxes” to myself, I’ve been thinking first of the points the song and show make about our positions in the world and interactions with people and the stereotypes around them. When I haven’t been vegged in front of the TV this week, I also had a few dates with some perfectly nice but perfectly sheltered suburban boys who clearly had some “little boxes” of their own. There’s probably more to say about that, but I think I’m just going to leave it with this rule for future dating: If you’re scared to come into my neighborhood at night, you’re too uptight for me. And no, I won’t walk you to your car. My neighbors won’t eat you. They might give you a much-deserved hard time for being an uptight suburbanite, but you’ll make it to your vehicle safely if you don’t pass out on the sidewalk like a ninny. Humph…

The second, and more knitting-relevant, “little boxes” point to cross my addled brain is on a much more literal level. I never realized how much of a thing I had for containers… boxes, jars, baskets, bags, all these little treasure chests sitting inconspicuously on the edges of bookshelves, tucked into the corner of a chair, hidden away inside larger containers. I suppose I like the illusion of organization and control, all those boxes lined in a row, but I think it’s more about the tiny bits of treasure that are too dear to toss, too insignificant to know what to do with.

Perhaps this is a crafting thing, the knowledge that those little bits are often just the perfect touch for a project or perhaps they’re the inspiration for something much larger, something that may not even incorporate that tiny sliver of ribbon or small scrap of flannel. Of course, we’ve probably all had the experience of forgetting what is lurking in our little boxes. Sometimes you just know that you have beads that you absolutely must use, but a search under lids and inside pockets everywhere yields everything but those special sparkly bits. Most often, I get frustrated in my search, give up and hit the store for more tiny bits, promising myself that I’ll do better this time, putting my extras away in the perfect little box which will never get lost and will always be remembered. And the cycle of storage, search and loss begins again…

In a rare moment of fortuitous crafting, I happened to open one of my special little boxes around the same time I discovered the pattern for the Spring Things Shawl and just after I purchased the very yarn the pattern calls for, even in the same exact color as the pattern picture, frighteningly enough. A project was born.

If all goes well and my needles take on a never-before-seen speed, I’ll be wearing a beaded shawl to a beach wedding next weekend. Granted, I didn’t bother counting the beads after I discovered them to even see if I have enough stashed away to complete the project, but where’s the fun in that? I’m just planning to knit merrily along, smug in my capacity to finish off leftovers from a previous project while simultaneously taking on my first ‘real’ lace.
Last night when I finally got to the beaded section, I did a massive hunt through all my assorted tool bags for that miniscule crochet hook that I just knew I had holed away… just in case. Oh so many little bags to dig through. Just as I was about to throw up my needles in despair, there it was, hidden amidst all the missing stitch holders, point protectors and odd tape measures that I’d forgotten about entirely.

I’m not sure I should declare this publicly, but so far, this project is coming together ever-so-nicely. Maybe the enchanted little boxes have been conspiring to help the crazy lady who feels the need to store every six-inch piece of scrap yarn. Perhaps this is actually just a tease put together by all my clutter as word has gotten out that I’m doing my darnedest to either use up my stashes or start posting weekly on eBay. I can just hear them, “Oh, we’ll put together one nice thing for her. She’ll start paying more attention to us and opening up all sorts of little boxes to see what’s inside and how it can be used. The next thing you know, she’ll embark on some grandiose scheme and that’s when we’ll get her. We’ll shuffle our contents so she can’t find anything at all, she’ll have a crafty breakdown and run to every store in town with credit card in hand, ready and willing to fill up every little box, bag and jar will tiny bits of unknown origin and design. Each tiny bit will beget 20,749 other tiny bits and nary a completed object will be found.”

Yeah, I worry myself too when I imagine talking little boxes planning an uprising. Best stick to just finishing the shawl and planning some beach knitting for next weekend. I think I’ll only tackle the stash one little box at a time.

05 June 2007

Give and Ye Shall Receive

Earlier this year I sent Lone Knitter an afghan for her charity collection and I was a lucky winner in one of her drawings. Yay for pretty yarn and what looks to be a really useful book of sock patterns!

03 June 2007

And We're Back...

Cue local TV announcer with the cheap suit and cheesy toupee.

“Well, it’s been a week of mysterious sightings of the lost and unknown among us, folks. First, Loch Ness Nellie decided to come to the surface for a little sun and some film time. Then, that blogger who never blogs, Leslie, actually put up a post. Who knows what could be next. I’d keep your pets and children away from the woods because I’m sure Big Foot is sure to emerge any day now. And now to Charlie for the weather…”

Kinda went missing there for a bit. Wish I could start out by announcing that I had won the lottery, found true love with the gas station clerk who sold me the ticket, been passed on my dissertation in the hopes that I’d donate a new library wing to the university, ran a marathon just for kicks and knit twelve pairs of socks on the plane to our exotic honeymoon on a private island. Wouldn’t that make a great blog post?

Actually, the weather has just been rather warm and I’ve actually been working so when I’m not trying to blather on about Dickens, I’ve been escaping to the waterfront on my bike. The shore of Lake Erie isn’t always picturesque, but at least the breeze is nice.

So, what have I been up to?

Baby Blanket

I used the same hexagon idea as the afghan I sent to Lone Knitter to crochet a baby blanket out of recycled yarn that I reclaimed from a lovely but unflattering sweater. (Yeah, I know, nearly unreadable sentence structure there. Yep, and I teach English to the youth of America. We’re all doomed.) I intended for the edge ruffle to be a little more ‘ruffly’ but I was worried that I’d run out of the navy yarn as I was trying to use skeins from the stash. Easy project and fun to see the stash shrinking. Now if I could only get my hiney to start shrinking, we’d be in business!

Back Porch Sewing

I spend many, many of my summer hours reading and writing on the back porch. It was time to update the cushion covers so I put these together, again from stash materials. Perhaps the most exciting part of this project for me was the fact that I used absolutely all of the orange floral fabric and all but maybe ¼ yard of the plaid. I found this at some point on the clearance rack at JoAnn’s and probably just bought what remained on the bolt. It’s disturbingly gratifying to go stash diving and not have to repack anything away.

(UFO's L to R: Spring Things Shawl, Quilt to Bind, Mystery Sewing Project)

I feel like my craft output has really been limited lately but I suppose that’s a good thing as I’m pleased as punch to finally have the chance to be outside without snow boots. I’m still chugging along on several unfinished projects and itching to start something new. I started (but of course didn’t finish) a post for the summer goals contest and realized that I’m in kind of a crafty limbo at the moment. This year, I’m trying to stick to finishing projects before starting new ones, taking care of gift making, and using stash materials. I’m definitely in a ‘slogging’ point with most things, miles and miles to stitch before I blog. I also am working on projects with a deadline, although aren’t we always working on a birthday/holiday/big fancy event deadline? The shawl needs to be finished for a wedding in TWO WEEKS, as does the hand-finishing on the quilt, I still owe everyone last year’s Christmas presents and I have several plans for sock projects that I intended to start ages ago. I do feel like I don’t want to get all hot and bothered over something new until these things are off the needles. Although, I did receive a package in the mail this week that is sooooo tempting. More on that tomorrow. *sigh* The difficulties of life as a crafter…

Man, if only I really could win the lottery and hang out on a private island for a few months, maybe then I could start to see real progress on using the stash and finishing my queue of projects. Until that happens, guess I better just try to keep slogging through the WIPs and blogging more than once a month!