Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pax? Really?

Who the heck names a snow event Pax? Note that I'm loathe to call Pax a "snowstorm" since even in the hinterlands of Chez Pug 3-4" over three days isn't exactly a blizzard. Yet, here I am, trapped at home waiting for the streets to be clear enough to go to work. Ice, you see, and even with our fine governator's admittedly better efforts, the highways are still largely impassable.

Also note that the Pax namers, The Weather Channel, also called the last snow/ice event, the one I call Clusterstuck, Leon. I don't know which one is dumber, Pax or Leon.

Oh, well, what do you do when you're at home and shamelessly avoiding all the productive things you could do, like housework? You knit and read and watch movies on Amazon Prime. Sometimes all at once. And in between you go on Facebook to see how your friends and relatives are managing their own personal and weather crises.

And, of course, you surf Ravelry. And you find a new Total Time Suck, Goodreads.

In between, you log into work and actually complete some items on the "to do" list, but don't tell the bosses. They prefer to think you're squandering valuable work opportunities and who are we to disabuse them of this fantasy?

Once in awhile, you even complete something. So, in knitting, one project off the needles: Cameo.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What's On The Needles?

Anyone who know me knows that I am incapable of knitting on one project at a time.

I always have several things going at once, probably accounting for the fact that it takes me forever to complete a project. This really makes sense if you think about it.

My knitting projects are specifically for certain places and situations:

First, I always have a relatively complex project, lace or something that requires close attention to a chart or something filled with seemingly (but not really) random short rows. This is for times that I'm not too tired, completely alone, and have both patience and no other distractions.

Then there's the project that is large and/or just complicated enough that I have to think about it. Maybe a sweater with complex shaping or stitch patterns or cables or some such. Or it has too many balls of yarn hanging off it.

Finally, there's mindless knitting. The shawl above, Cameo by Paulina Popiolek. It's miles of garter stitch in two yarns from my stash, some Miss Babs sock yarn in Frogbelly and some turquoise Araucania fingering. Ellen made this shawl (with a lot more imagination, I might say) and I knew I had to make it. It would be my sitting in the snow that some people in Atlanta are currently calling "Clusterstuck," or watching TV with a dog or two on my lap.

Socks, of course, fall into this category, in the subcategory Purse Knitting. I usually have a sock in my purse for line waiting and always at least one in the car for red lights.

but that's for another day.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wow...a Year?

If asked, and I have been but chose to ignore the questions, I'd have estimated my last post here was a few months ago, October maybe. A year is sort of shocking. But that's about the time a wheel or two fell off the bus here at Chez Pug--personally and definitely technologically. Basically it's been a tough year but no tougher than anyone else's, so no excuses.

I hope the technology is a little more under control, and the rest of it is what it will be. Anyway, here I am again. 

So, Snow-mageddon 2014. What we would have called in the north "a light dusting" has thus far closed down Atlanta for two and a half days. Before I moved here in 2001 I might have chuckled. Now I know this crap is no joke! This city really isn't prepared for any weather at all. Interesting in a city whose news weather branch is called "Severe Weather Center." Seriously, most of us wake up to Channel 2's intrepid weather woman, Karen Minton, saying, "Here in Atlanta the weather is beautiful, 75 degrees and clear. Stay tuned to Severe Weather Center for updates." Really?

Love ya, Karen, but seriously? But that jacket you were wearing this morning? Killer! And that's apparently all that matters, because the governor and mayor don't listen to you anyway. Just a pretty blonde woman with great clothes.

Anyway, this week "weather" was predicted. "Winter weather," to be exact. All the local and national outlets said it was coming and Severe Weather Center said it was coming at 1 pm. About noon flakes started to fall, delicately and without malice at all. Beautiful. No problem. At work we'd planned for such an eventuality and we were as ready as we could be. Some of my co-workers went home. Others, like myself, gave them time to get off the roads and then left later. 5 pm in my case. Snow count? About an inch or less.

Hours later I was sitting about three miles from the office (only 39 to go!) and I checked my traffic app. Yes, I have a traffic app, put out by the same Severe Weather Center TV station. It's a fabulous app--a lovely graphic map with little camera icons that show you where all the traffic cameras are along the route home, and a glowing blue bubble that represented where my car was at the moment (are you kidding me??) and little accident icons that showed trouble spots. The route is also color-coded--green for "no problem," yellow for "whoa, slow down a little, honey, there's something up ahead," and red for "go back, don't even think about it."

Red everywhere. Shit!

This picture was taken when we still thought it was an anomaly that would be cleared up soon. At this point, I still thought I might get home that night. Not so much.

By midnight the traffic was almost completely stopped. Oh, every so often we moved ahead by a car length. I think that was just the Goddesses teasing us. That movement made me think we were making progress. But every time Mr. Pug called, getting increasingly frantic and angry--not at me, but at Georgia's Governator and the Mayor of Atlanta for not having salted and cindered the roads in a timely fashion--I checked my odometer, and my progress could be measured in tenths of a mile. About 3 am, I pulled over to the side of the road, along with 10 or 15% of my fellow travelers, and tried to sleep. 

Lesson Learned: It's almost impossible to sleep with other cars slipping on the icy roads and skimming past your vehicle space with spinning tires and blowing horns. Okay, that was not going to work.

By 4 am I had extracted myself from my shoulder spot and inched far enough forward to see an upcoming exit where I knew there was a fast food joint. I tried to exit but it was completely clogged with broken down cars. Damn! The next exit was a little more passable and I slunk past the abandoned cars on the ramp and into a McDonald's. Good thing because my bladder was about to burst! (I cannot tell you how many men and women I saw standing and squatting by the side of I-75, relieving themselves. I swear if I hadn't been wearing jeans, it might have been an option. I also saw the guys in the car in front of me pour what was left from a carton of orange juice out onto the pavement. Then I saw it re-emptied again a minute or two later. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.)

Lesson Learned: Just because the sign says "Open 24 Hours" doesn't mean it is. Everything, including the shopping center across the street, assuming I could have gotten across the street,  was completely clogged with cars. I wedged mine into an illegal spot in the McDonald's lot, locked the door, crossed my legs tightly, and tried to sleep. First I woke Mr. Pug one last time to tell him I was safe and hear more diatribes against Governor Dumbass. Around 6, I fell asleep. At 6:30, the parking lot around me began to wake up.

So, to make a hideously long story even longer, I finally strolled into Chez Pug at 2:30 pm the day after I left the office. And here's what I got from the experience:

  1. Thank Dog for knitting. I knit off and on the whole time.
  2. Thank Dog twice for mindless knitting projects. Mine had lots of yarn and garter stitch. Doesn't get any more mindless than that. (Cameo Shawl if you're interested.)
  3. The snow around the parked cars in the McD's lot was splotched with lots of yellow. Good thing I slept through all of it.
  4. My night was pretty tame compared to others. My friend Sandy's car ran off the road and she was (luckily) rescued by a friend of her sister's. Otherwise her story could have been much uglier.
  5. When the 24 hour McDonald's opens, at 7:30 am, the only person there will be the manager who mostly doesn't speak English. He does know how to make coffee and is happy to sell it for a dollar a cup. plus tax for the governor.
  6. The bathroom will be mostly clean but at that point, who really cares?
  7. No other food will be available until a worker shows up an hour later and finally grasps that what the manager is saying is "sausage, please cook the sausage."
  8. Apparently when they hired him for his facility with languages, they didn't take into account the fact that someone who speaks Croatian fluently may not be able to communicate with a largely Hispanic staff or customers.
  9. But Croatians can apparently make great coffee.
  10. Oatmeal doesn't require food, just hot water. I set off a trend by mentioning that to the manager and he fixed me a cup.
  11. Hundreds of people who slept in their cars all along the block will be happy to pay a dollar a cup. Most will be friendly and just happy not to be on I-75.
  12. The road will still not be clear when you're ready to go home, which is right after drinking your coffee and eating your oatmeal.
  13. Which is fine because the guy who's got you blocked in with his car isn't in a hurry to leave anyway.
  14. When you get out, around 10 am (more knitting with some news and audiobook listening thrown in), traffic won't be able to get up the hill. It will be full of more 18-wheelers as if we haven't seen enough in the last 12 hours.
  15. All the gas stations will be simultaneously raising their prices and running out of gas.
  16. The parking lot across the street will have one tiny space left, just big enough for your car. The guy in the car next to you will get out of his car to greet you, saying "Welcome! You must be our new neighbor!"
  17. He'll fill you in on the neighborhood gossip: the 24 hour cafe is closed (of course!), the Publix is open but filled with people sheltering in place (big shoutout to Publix!), the Starbucks is open but their restroom is suspiciously "out of order." And I  bet their coffee was more than a dollar.
  18. Apparently the big convention in town this week is the National Egg and Poultry show. (Not a joke! You cannot make this stuff up!) This explains the large truck parked about three cars away with hundreds of empty chicken boxes in the back. I don't want to know what happened to the chickens.
  19. People are mostly very decent. I did not meet one person who wasn't gracious and friendly and we all chuckled about how we'll be telling these stories for years. No one called the Governator Dumbass, with the possible exception of me.
  20. We were about a mile from the Governator's mansion. I'm betting there was no one sheltering in place in his house that night. Again, thanks to all the businesses who let folks hang out for the night.
Postscript: When I finally got to my subdivision, there were cars parked all along the entrance. There were also several people shoveling the street. I stopped to thank them and realized their leader was Mr. Pug. One of the young guys told me that Mr. Pug told them his wife was on her way home and he wanted her to be able to get up and down the hills in the subdivision. They all jumped in to help.

Lesson learned: Gotta love people! They're pretty okay. And Mr. Pug's no slouch either.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finally -- a Finished Object!

Actually, two finished objects. Here's the first pair, Seaweed Socks from a pattern by Wendy Johnson.  This pair came off the needles last Friday, after a mere two years in the making. (One of my lovely friends gave me this yarn on the occasion of my wedding--only a true friend would know to give sock yarn as a wedding gift!)

Love this sock even though I'm a little iffy about the heel. Actually, it's probably the gusset and heel you've been knitting ever since you learned how to knit socks--it's that slip one, knit one that makes a padded back-of-the-heel. This sock is knit toe up but it's done in much the same way, after you knit a sort of Fleegle-ish gusset increase on the bottom of the sock.

The reason I stopped doing this heel is that most of my shoes don't want a big, padded heel in the back--it makes them uncomfortable. I took a chance on this one because I love, love, love everything Wendy Johnson does and I trust her.

This pair of Opal socks, finished just this morning, are my old familiar, Ann Budd-ish socks with a short row heel (also toe up, of course). There's nothing better than Opal, ever, and if I had another skein of Opal at hand, I'd cast on today. Just the best all-around sock yarn ever!

Oh, who am I kidding? There's got to be more Opal in the stash somewhere--I just have to dig around and find it!

Finally, here's a hint of What's On The Needles: I started these on Saturday after finishing the Regia socks. It's a toe-up pattern called Socks on a Plane, with one cable going up the side of each foot. The yarn is Mini Mochi from my stash. Fabulous colors, and I do love my MM socks. The original MM yarn was more splitty and more fragile (it's a single) but the newly formulated yarn is more durable.

And, of course, it's got a weird heel variation, too--somewhere in between the Fleegle heel and a short row heel. I don't like it at all but I'm trying to give it a chance.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Knitting Forward

So, I've been knitting since I was in elementary school, blogging since about 2004, and on Ravelry since 2007. That means I should know better, because my track record of being able to predict what I'll actually knit in a given year isn't that great. I get distracted easily.

But every year I prognosticate about the coming year so it's in the nature of a tradition at this point.

So let's make it easier this year:

  • I will start the year promising to finish a bunch of UFO's but will end the year with more than I started with.
  • I'll have really good intentions about organizing my stash but will end the year in the same state of chaos that exists right now. Maybe worse.
  • Ditto my intentions to knit strictly from stash. Let's face it--I'm like a crow with yarn. If it's pretty, I'll dive on it from a mile in the sky to grab it. 
  • Six months after I dive on something pretty, I'll look at it in wonderment and try to remember what I thought I was going to do with it.
  • I'd like to make Christmas gifts and ornaments all year but... Well, do I even need to say I probably won't?
  • We're not even going to talk about my abysmal record of updating this puppy. Doesn't seem that likely, does it?
On a positive note, I'm trying really hard to finish Fifty Shades of Red within the next two weeks. I'm down to four half blocks, then need to connect the shoulders, and then knit several miles of I-cord. Sounds do-able, right?

After that, I'll either get back to Smitten (yuk!) or do the crab stitch edging on the patchwork jacket. 

I'd like to knit Canyonlands as a Rav KAL. Dream in Color Smooshy.

I'd like to do a Goddess Knits shawl as a KAL.

I'd like to knit one of the sweaters I have yarn set aside for--Three Sisters or Carter Cardigan or Simona. 

Is that too much planning? Or not enough?

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Garter Stitch Year

Will this year not end? I feel like I've been waiting forever, and not that patiently, and this frickin' year will NOT die!

So far it's been December for about 73 days. This day alone has lasted at least 37 hours and it's barely 7 pm. I've been watching bowl games forever and we seem to be no closer to the national championship than we were at Thanksgiving.

In knitting terms, it's been a Very Garter Stitch Year.

Endless rows of the knit stitch. No purls, no yarnovers, not even a nupp to liven things up. Every so often a short row to take you backwards and make you start over, back at the beginning.

2012 has been the world's largest Color Affection shawl.

And lest you think I'm speaking metaphorically, well, I am. But in a literal sense, everything I've knit lately has been garter stitch.

The aforementioned Color Affection. Garter.

Stripe Study. Garter.

The Brooks Farm Fifty Shades of Red vest. Modular garter. Well, you saw that the other day.

And, of course, the famous neverending Sock Yarn Blankie. Modular garter. 

My last almost-finished project? The famous patchwork sweater that might actually be completed in 2013. Modular garter.

My last frogged never-to-be-finished project? The Jane Slicer-Smith vest that I will....I WILL....reknit in 2013 or possibly 2014 or beyond. Modular garter.

I am sensing a rut. And that I'm in it.

Oh, crap!

To totally change the subject and divert your attention from how pitiful my life is, check this out. Grandson KC can SO dunk! He obviously has MY vertical leap!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fifty Shades of Red

The year is finally, finally, finally grinding to a close. Is it just me, or has this year actually been kind of crappy? I know I shouldn't complain, but 2012's been a tough one. Not just for me, but for friends and family too. (Frankly, I blame the election. I think all that concentrated negativity sucked every bit of good spirit out of the year.)

I'm looking for 2013 to be an easier, softer year.  But in the meantime, we knit.

I'm within shouting distance of the final mitered diamonds of the Acero Diamond Vest, or, as I've been calling  it, Fifty Shades of Red. Literally there are fewer than ten of the big guys to go. Maybe 8 big ones and five or six half-squares.

(Yes, Debra, I know you've told me it's not really red--it's rust. But some of it really is red and rust is really just red that's lost its way, so I'm sticking with red.")

I'm at that point where I'm halfway between "OMG, it's almost over, woohoo!" and "OMG, what will I do when it's done?" I have truly loved doing all those squares, unlike other modular projects I've worked on, and I think the difference is changing the yarn every square and feeling like each one is totally different from the one that went before.

To clarify, I love modular knitting. I think I could restrict my knitting to modular knitting only and be pretty happy. I love the concept and am always looking for new modular projects. But some are more tedious than others. For instance, I've been working for five or six years on the Tess Diamond Vest and I feel weak just thinking about it--I think it's because every diamond is the same and because I've added another whole column of diamonds to make it a little larger and that makes me nervous. I'm scared to death that I'll finish it and it'll be HUGE.

Anyway, once the squares are done, then there are two tiny places to sew--the pointy ends of the shoulder fronts get sewn into the valley ends of  the shoulder backs. Then the endless I-Cord begins, around the armholes and then around the entire perimeter.

And, since I'm a big girl, the perimeter is substantial. That's a lot of I-Cord. Luckily, the I-Cord is purple (see that teensy hint of purple in the lower right diamond above, and the top diamond? That's the purple!). Then to select a button (Cast On Cottage, here I come), and I'm done.

Lest this sound more optimistic than it really is, let us remember that the other modular sweater still hanging out, the Patchwork Sweater in Noro, only got sewn together this year (by Debra, thank you!) and still doesn't have its crab stitch edging. It has yarn, it has a button, all it doesn't have is ... me to finish it.

Did I say this is Brooks Farm Acero? And that I'm already thinking of how to get more Brooks Farm Acero? Love, love, love this yarn!

Finally, and I bet you already knew this, yes, the fawn fur butt at the top of the picture IS a pug butt. Lucy, in this case. She never even moved when I laid the knitting across her rear end and snapped the picture.