Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another Year Gone

I always look forward to this time of year -- the chance to look back and reflect on what went right, what went wrong, how my knitting performance compares to the Knitlisters who each year share their annual performance statistics to make me feel like crap. Not!

I've had a year like many others -- I've done a bunch of knitting for CIC, and some for preemies. I've knit a few things for my grandchildren. I designed one new sock pattern. I knit several single socks. I've started 20 things I'll never finish, and 15 I'll never even pick up again. I've knit with both of my sisters, have knit with other members of my knitting guild, have served my second year as guild president, have traveled to other parts of the country and toured shops, proselytizing about knitting in general and the Atlanta Knitting Guild specifically. I've taken classes with several nationally known knitting teachers (Sally Melville, Debbie Radtke, Ginger Luters) and several local classes. God knows I've bought my share of yarn!

So why do I feel so completely inadequate when I read those lists on the Knitlist? Seriously, this is the time of year when I set the Knitlist to "no mail" so I don't have to read those lists by the metrics-obsessed members. Am I secretly jealous? What's my problem?

One of the things that's exciting about belonging to the guild is that there are so many really fine knitters. If ever there was a place to make a less-productive and creative knitter feel inadequate, that would be the place. For instance, one of our former presidents brought her latest project to the guild one night for show and tell: an upholstered chair! That made me feel a little, well, "what the heck was she thinking?," but not inadequate.

And I read knitting blogs -- lots of knitting blogs -- and have a pretty good idea of what other knitters are knitting. Some are more productive than others, some more creative, and some definitely fall into the "what the heck was she thinking" category.

So why does it burn my toast when I read those smug, self-satisfied itemizations of shawls, ponchos, gloves, socks (presumably entire pairs!), jackets, baby blankets, and God Knows What Else?

I think the difference is the feeling of connectivity. When I read a blog, I might think, "wow, I can't believe she got all that done, what with her three children under six, unemployed husband, overgrown garden, and that fibromyalgia." When I see one of the members of the guild excel I'm happy for him/her because they're real people to me. But when I see a post from someone who never posts otherwise listing those 224 pairs of socks, all donated to a worthy charity, I'm sure, I feel like crap.

I don't make New Year's resolutions any more -- they're just one more thing to make me feel like a failure when I break them -- but if I did, it would be to delete any postings from the Knitlist Overachievers. But I love the list, so I hope they all get it out of their systems soon so I can get back to enjoying reading about the ordinary shlumps like myself who may frog more than they bind off.


And, about the yarn diet controversy. What a tempest in a teapot...Wendy must be laughing her butt off, to think that so many people have their knickers in a twist about this, although she's obviously wayyyy too polite to ever say so. (What an odd mixture of metaphors that sentence was.)

I mean the joke is ... if my yarn diet is as successful as my regular diet is, I'll end up with two rooms of yarn instead of one. The simple fact is, many of us who knit have way too much yarn, more than we'll ever be able to knit. Wondering who will parcel it out is much more of a problem for me than wondering who'll pay for my funeral after I'm gone and whether I should get more life insurance from AARP. So, yes, of course, I think I should go on a yarn diet. I should really, no, really, buy less yarn and use it up faster.

Reality? I'll try to eat less and exercise more this year, and I'll try not to buy quite so much yarn. But, bottom line, I'll see something in one of the local shops, or online, or while I'm traveling, that will make me think -- I could be a better knitter if I had that, or That yarn will make me look slimmer, or OMG, I HAVE to make one of those. And then I'll buy the yarn.

So, I think the LYS owners who are in a swivet about this issue, and whether Wendy Johnson can singlehandedly bring all the yarn stores in the country down with her yarn diet, should take a deep breath and relax. Concentrate instead on giving your customers excellent service. We'll be back, again and again, if we feel welcome. Because, let's face it, yarn buying is much more about going to a warm, cozy environment, sitting and knitting with old and new friends, fondling fiber, and learning a new technique than it is about stashing or destashing.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that I am considering the yarn diet. So, I dashed out to Joann's Fabric yesterday to buy wool yarn on sale (Paton's) for CIC socks. Then I quick ordered two new lots of wool yarn from eBay, also for CIC socks. And I didn't buy new yarn for the hat my grandson Cole asked for, because I couldn't find the pattern, but as soon as I find it, I'm buying that yarn, diet or no.

As Wendy says, it's all about the rules. Mine are that I'll try to do better, really I will, but yarn happens and it's quite likely that I'll buy yarn this year. Maybe even lots of yarn. And if I win the lottery, it could get ugly. And that won't be against any of my rules.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Little Breathing Room

Well, one of my big deliverables for work has been completed, presented, and signed off on. My group (all 4 of us) delivered three Six Sigma projects on Friday--one of them was my own, I was the process owner in the other two. Our deadline was Tuesday the 12th, then the decision was made to close them all on Friday the 8th. Bad news, I didn't have this weekend to work on finalizing it; good news, I was done with it by noon on Friday and haven't had to do anything on it this weekend.

So, I've been lazing and knitting. I got very little sleep last week--most days did not leave the office until quite late and then went in early to get this project (on the ergonomics of our office workstations if you care) done. Thursday night I even missed going to the monthly guild meeting because I just couldn't take the time. Since I'm the president this year, that was sort of a bummer. The December meeting is one of two big meetings (May general meeting and elections is the other) we hold each year. It's a big potluck with lots of good food, and we turn over our teddy bears to the local police department for use with abused kids. Hated missing it!
It turned out that there was a huge traffic jam that caused a 2-hour gridlock that I would have been caught in. I guess it worked out right. I would really have been pissed if I'd missed it because I was stuck in one of Atlanta's famous traffice jams!
Knitting away on the front of Cooper's gansey. The sweater is supposed to have his initials on the front but I knit it twice and hated the way it looked, so frog, frog, and no initials. Stockinette will be fine. He's one--it really won't matter to him! Anyway, back and both sleeves are done so I'm on the downhill slope on that one.
And I started the semi-spouse's Christmas scarf today while watching football. (Positive - Falcons wons. Negative - Panthers and Redskins lost) The pattern is from Lion Brand, a reversible cable scarf. So far so good--no problems with the pattern. And it's one of those cable patterns that, as soon as you figure out how often to turn the cables (every 8 rows), it just flows on its own. The yarn is 1824 washable worsted and I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's soft and feels good but I've found one big knot and 3 or 4 rough places that I wasn't expecting with this yarn. I'm sort of dissappointed but it's been a great opportunity to practice my spit splice!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Knit Unto Others - Not So Much

I don't know why I thought I'd get more done, but I didn't. And here it is December 1. I'm traveling to Charlotte tonight to spend the weekend with the grands, and I won't be accomplishing anything more by the deadline tomorrow, so here it is: a total of one vest, two preemie hats. Not much of an accomplishment, but better than nothing, I suppose.

The hats are from Ann Norling's basic fruit hat pattern and are made of Lion Brand Microspun. I have a stash of about eight colors that are bright and fun to create with. Microspun is a major pain to work with, as my sister warned me, because of its tendency to split. I find that I look back at something I've knitted earlier and find one little split-off thread hanging off a stitch, and then I have to drop down and fix it. That's what happens when you knit while online or while watching TV--when I'm doing mindless stockinette, I'm not usually looking at what I'm doing at all. Thus, the occasional split. But the yarn washes well, which is key for preemie hats, so I'll make more. The hats will go to the NICU where my niece works in Lexington, KY, and they can use all they can get.

The vest is Lamb's Pride Bulky from the stash and will go to CIC, though not in time for the most recent deadline, which was yesterday. I don't know how I lost sight of that deadline, but there will be no package postmarked by November 30 for CIC this time. Oh, well. Again, the need is always there, and the vest will go toward the next challenge.

So, I'm disappointed with my performance and my output. No excuses, but here's the explanation: (1) Work is extremely busy right now; because of my commute (1-1.5 hours each way) and long days at work trying to finish a Six Sigma project, I get home around 8 pm and dive into bed. Little or no knitting. (2) I've been sick since Thanksgiving with a cold that just won't quit. Again, little or no knitting. (3) I have worked a little on Cooper's gansey, which I'm hoping to give him for Christmas. I'm on the second sleeve and then just have the front and finishing. This is my car knitting for red lights and gridlock.

I knitted with the informal group that has met at a coffee shop in north Atlanta for over a year now. I don't get there every Thursday, maybe only 50% of the time, and the players change every week. Some weeks there are as many as six or eight knitters, other weeks only two or three. Last night there were five of the regulars, plus one who wandered in, checked her purse, and announced she'd left her knitting at home and wouldn't be staying. We also met a customer who stopped to chat and we recruited her for the guild--hopefully, she'll be able to come to our December meeting next week.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Toddler Vest for CIC complete, just need to weave in the ends. Since I only worked on it while sitting at the computer, that probably says I spent way too much time on the computer in the last day or two. This has been an unusual weekend for me. Four days off, no work, no travel. I've been dealing with a cold but the miracles of Zicam (honestly they should have me doing their commercials!) have made me feel almost human and I really have no complaints. I have some work I should have been doing, but I really wasn't up to that--no excuses but it's not done. So there!

Went to the movies last night to see Casino Royale, the new James Bond flick. Quite different from the original, which was made in the 60's I'd guess, when movies were a lot tamer. A lot of violence, killing, short, all the things that were implied in the book but are very explicit here. There were two young boys sitting next to me with their father, probably 8 and 10. They seemed bored and got up and down several times. Annoying to me, but they probably shouldn't have been taken to the movie in the first place. But I'd definitely give it 3.5 stars, and the new James Bond does have the most amazing eyes--like a pair of turquoises. Anyway, I've been to the local Barnes & Noble tonight to get a copy of the book so I can re-read it.

And football has been awful today. Yesterday I knit through most of the Georgia/Georgia Tech game which was pretty exciting. But today I couldn't sit still through the Panthers/Redskins game (I consider both to be "my" teams, but I was rooting for the Panthers) and every time I turned on the Falcons/New Orleans game and the Steelers/Ravens game, my teams (Falcons, Steelers) were getting whomped worse. You can only expect so much from knitting--it can't relieve the stress of seeing your teams get beaten like an omelet.

By the way, there was a knitting-related comic in today's paper. I don't remember which one it was, but there's a snake reading a book titled "Anyone Can Knit." He's got his yarn and needles handy and the caption reads something like "Jack was optimistic." I will have to save it--I have another snake cartoon from The New Yorker that I've been saving because it reminded me of the "snake bites woman" workers comp claim that is currently driving my company's rates up. Totally bogus--it only squeezed her a little.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What is Woofgang Pug?

Inquiring minds want to know: what (or who) is Woofgang Pug? Well, the obvious answer is that we (the semi-spouse and I) have four pugs, pictured here. In the rear is Bluto, and on the front pillow are Lightning (also pictured in my profile), Lucy (left) and Lulu (right).
Much less obvious is why anyone in her right mind would have four pugs. That's definitely a story for another day. Suffice it to say, we're in it for the long haul with pugs. Lightning is 10, Bluto 9, Lucy 3, Lulu 2. (And who's to say there's anything right about my mind for that matter?)

On another subject completely, I'm out of denial about that toddler sweater for CIC. You know, the one I was doing on size 11's because I couldn't be bothered to empty a 10.5? You may remember I characterized the fabric as "loose." Yeah, loose like fishnet stockings. And not just loose--sloppy, floppy. Hated it! So earlier today I frogged it and went to Plan B: remove the 10.5 from the hedgehog WIP and knit a toddler sweater that's my own combination of Marguerite's Cozy in Cables Vest and the Countrywool What's In Your Pocket Vest. This one feels a lot better and will be much warmer for the kid who ends up with it. This one is the perfect project to knit while I'm reading blogs--it's completely mindless. While I can read, watch TV or surf the net while I knit, I'm really only capable of doing one thing that's even a little complicated. I cannot follow a pattern and surf, for instance. That's why this pattern should be called the Lazy Knitter's Toddler Vest Pattern.

And still on the needles is Cooper's gansey from a Debbie Bliss pattern. The back and one sleeve have been completed and now I'm on the second sleeve. (No, I'm not knitting the two sleeves together. I've done it in the past but this time I'm using dark navy and it's hard enough to see the stitches. Put that together with trying to keep two sets of yarn separate and it's not any fun at all.)

Finally, I'm already irritated with Blogger. What's with the formatting? My first post went deceptively simply--now I can't seem to get line spaces in between paragraphs. Oh, well...tomorrow's another day to figure this out. At least I was able to get Lightning's picture into the profile section. One small victory.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Making a Change

I've decided to move my blog (The Yarn Diva, formerly on Typepad) to Blogger. No major problems with Typepad--it just seemed to be harder than it should be. Of course, I've got no idea whether Blogger will be any better.

So far, I've been able to manipulate the sidebar much better than I ever could with Typepad. I took an HTML class years ago and I guess I need to go back and read up on it to refresh the old brain cells, but it does seem more intuitive to actively edit the code than what I was doing with Typepad. I never could get the sidebar to look the way I wanted. Probably not Typepad's fault, but I needed a better fit for my own limited technical skills.

I do seem to read a lot of comments about problems getting photos into Blogger. That should be the least of my problems since I seldom seem to have photos.

On another note, I've decided (belatedly!) to participate in Knit Unto Others. I started a vest for Children in Common last night, using Marguerite's Cozy in Cables pattern. I had some Lamb's Pride Bulky in the stash but, of course, all my 10.5 needles were in use. (Can you say, too many WIPs?) So, I'm using an 11 which is making the vest a little looser than the one I did earlier this summer (although that was knit on two strands of worsted weight mohair and wasn't ideal either). Oh, well, it will fit some child, it will be warm and woolly, and it might be better to be a little loose than stiff from a comfort standpoint. And that's really what counts in the long run.

Given my schedule these days, I won't get much more than this vest done by the deadline. Maybe a preemie hat or two for my niece Caitlin's NICU babies. Possibly a bear sweater for the guild's annual donation to the police at the December meeting, but that's not seeming too likely. We'll see--I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Charity work done with gritted teeth is not charitable, in my opinion.