Sunday, April 20, 2008

He's Baaaaaaccck!

Buddy, I mean. He's back...this time to stay, I think. Our friend Tony has been given a 6-month assignment about 75 miles from home and his long daily commute simply doesn't give Buddy the human time he needs. Buddy's still a puppy (around a year old, I guess) and needs attention and companionship. When he doesn't get those things, he chews (or at least he has in the past--woodwork, in particular) and digs (under fences, etc.). Bottom line, he needs a yard and some other dogs and someone to check in on him every so often. So here he is.

I had a tough time getting a good photo. (See the hand on the left side of the picture holding him so he can't escape the camera?) He's a Pug/Boston Terrier mix--does that make him a Bug or a Perrier? I haven't decided. Anyway, he must be part whirling dervish because he is a perpetual motion machine. Now, that probably doesn't sound like an issue to you but that's because you don't live with pugs, who are mostly in Super Slo Mo at their most active. Right now, life in Casa Pug is a little like being surrounded by three blades of gently moving grass and a hyperactive bumblebee. I assume we'll all settle into this routine.

But Buddy's already found out there are lots of beds for four-legged creatures and he's momentarily settled onto one of them here.

In other news, Ellen and Pat and I went beading yesterday. This sounded like a good idea in the beginning--why not enhance our knitting with beads? After all, many of the 235 or so lace shawl knitalongs for which I'm signed up seem to be calling for beads. I opted out of beads for the Mystery Shawl (Swan Lake) shawl last year but several of my friends used the beads and the results were lovely, and special. I opted out of beads for Hanami, too. So, maybe it's time to branch out a little, my tiny brain said.

Now, let's be honest. In my heart of hearts I knew that this could lead to insanity. First, note the pictures above of the Whirling Dervish Bug. That tail of his whips around at approximately 62 MPH and Doppler Radar has already tagged him as a Category 5 tornado. Who in their right mind would bring thousands of teensy weensy little colored thingies into the house with this guy on the premises? (Try to ignore that innocent look on his face and remember that he's under restraints in that picture.)

Further, I recently entered a master's program and will be doing a lot less knitting and a lot more studying and writing papers. So who needs another obsession? (And let's be brutal here: I saw those women at the two beads shops we visited--those women were obsessed!)

Finally, I've promised Mr. Pug that I will start getting the stash organized and maybe even clear out the yarn and such that I am never going to use. Yes, I feel your pain. I know we don't usually get rid of yarn, we just collect it, but he really doesn't get it. He has this sense that I should actually be using it. Men! Can't live with them and can't live with them.

So bringing more crap, er, uh, materials, into the house probably wasn't a good idea. On the other hand, he doesn't read this blog and beads are small and can be easily tucked away into crevices of yarn and needles and what he doesn't know won't tweak his drawers.

And, let me put it on the table--I'm going to Maryland Sheep & Wool in two weeks and there's a lot of roving and yarn to deal with there. So, beads? Probably superfluous and possibly disastrous. (On the other hand, if I find some really wonderful lace yarn at MSW, I'll be ready with the beads.)

Oh, for god's sake, let's stop kidding ourselves. I had to buy them because I had to have them. Fine, it's out on the table. I had to have the beads just like I had to have Buddy. Get over it!

However, for my own sanity, I've decided to put myself on a Completion Regimen. Here's the list of things I MUST finish before I start even one more project:

  1. Kiri
  2. Carolina toe-up socks
  3. 6 pairs of CIC socks (by the end of May)
  4. Diamond vest

And here's the list of things I SHOULD finish before I start anything new but probably won't:

  1. Modern Quilt Wrap (it's too hot to wear fuzzy yarn anyway)
  2. Daughter's mitts (but I better get going because those girls will be looking for them this fall)
  3. Mystic Light Shawl (which I'd like to finish but I'm a little iffy about)

This is going to be a struggle. I have a new baby project I'd like to work on and a lacy tee top that's calling my name, plus all those shawls that those bad girls, the Lovely Lace Ladies, are nagging me about. But I've also got some other commitments like taking the real estate exam, working on my Safety and Accident Prevention course, and FINDING A JOB that have to take precedence. Plus, it's a lot of work to take care of four P/Bugs.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Yarn Harlot In the House

Lesson from last September: When the Yarn Harlot's coming to town, ya better get there early. Last year she came on a weekday evening and I hurried from work (yeah, that was when I HAD a work to come from) and stood way, way, way back in the line. This time, Whit was on the job and we were among the first 10 or so folks in line. At some point, some of them snuck into the Ben & Jerry's but we got caught and had to stand outside again.

That turned out to be good news because we stood for 40 or minutes with some wonderful new friends and I got to play security guard at the front of the line. (In the interests of full disclosure, I was way too busy knitting and talking and Debra had to do all the heavy lifting in the security assignment.) We met some girls from Dothan, Alabama (Hi, Donna and friends!) and schmoozed with some old friends as they wandered back and forth.

But it also put us at the front of the line to talk to the intrepid newspaper reporter who came to see the show. Turns out she's a knitter and a customer of Knitch, the store that sponsored the day's events.

We spent about an hour or maybe two knitting--who's counting when you're knitting with friends?--and finally Stephanie showed up, a little the worse for wear after a luggage mishap with the airline. (Note to Stephanie: In a week when three airlines go out of business, be glad you only lost your luggage!) (Note to Delta Airlines: Never come between a knitter and her yarn!)

Yeah, I know that's not much of a picture. This year we were seated higher up and further back which meant we didn't have to twist our necks to see Stephanie, but the photos weren't too great. But the sound carried just fine--if you could hear the one-liners with all the laughing and clapping going on.

And in the midst of the (very) humorous points made, she also had some very interesting research to share about the effects of knitting (and similar repetitive, relaxing activities) on stress levels as well as on cognitive capacity. Seems we're smarter, less stressed, and less likely to be victims of serious memory disorders. That can't be a bad thing!

Thanks for coming, Stephanie. And thanks to Kim at Knitch for the wonderful day (and by the way, thanks for my lovely Alpaca yarn I won in the raffle!) And thanks to Whit and Joyce and Debra and Betty who made the day even more special by sharing their company.

Finally, the article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for your reading pleasure is here:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Inside ...

Well, actually that's not quite accurate. It would be more accurate to say that I HAVE a cold, a little piece of wedding memorabilia from my trip to Virginia last weekend. I should have known when both my sister Deirdre and my nephew Brian were scarfing down Zicam like it was a bag of Lindor White Chocolate Truffles that I'd be the next recipient. Oh, new meaning to the phrase "the gift that keeps on giving." (I didn't intend to lead with this piece of self-centered health trivia, but after all, it IS all about me, isn't it?)

What's most important about the weekend is that the bride was lovely and the wedding was lots of fun. My sister's and the groom's families are both big Irish clans and there was even a bagpiper. (Although my niece swears she missed seeing or hearing him--oh, well. )

We had a wonderful time with daughters and grandchildren and sisters and nieces and nephews and old, dear friends. What more could anyone want? And, for the record, Hanami attended.

You can tell that's my sister by the ubiquitous Diet Pepsi can in her hand. Neither she or I ever go anywhere without it, even, obviously, into the limousine for the ride to the church. I suppose we'll have to wait for the official formal photographs to see if she put it down for them. (By the way, this hasn't helped my entry into the upper levels of society here in Atlanta--you might as well drive a Kia to a union event as show up with a Pepsi in your hand here in Coca Cola City.)

Mr. Pug and I drove the motor home to Virginia so we could take the three pugs. That meant that I could knit away the whole time. (You see, when I say that "Mr. Pug and I drove" what I really mean is that he drove, except for about an hour when he grudgingly released the wheel to me. I cast on for a lace scarf (pix later) and by the time we got home on Monday, it was just about finished.) The pattern is by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer and the yarn is Panda Silk.

Now what that means is that I did NOT work on either of the two lace knitalongs I'm currently signed up for--Mystic Light and Secret of Bad Nauheim--although I took both patterns and the yarns with me. Just couldn't get into trying to follow those patterns in a moving vehicle. Having finally started ML when I got home, that turned out to be a good decision. I love the pattern but I would have hated trying to keep track of those tiny symbols while bouncing along on North Carolina's bumpy roads.

But, ML is now on the needles and I'm about halfway through Clue 1, with Clue 2 already out. No progress at all on Bad Nauheim--not even a caston, with two clues out. I'm way behind.

Which brings me back to the cold in the first paragraph. I never, ever miss Guild and I missed last night's meeting, which I really wanted to attend, because I was so miserable and so afraid of infecting the whole Guild. So instead I curled up in an easy chair with an old friend, Kiri, and knit all day. Or rather, unknit, and then knit.

It should be a good lesson to me that my brain has turned to Southern-fried mush and I can't just put down and pick up lace patterns. I grabbed Kiri on my way to the Noble Knitters group on Wednesday night and somehow thought I would remember what to do. After all, Kiri is a very simple, repetitive pattern--how bad could I screw it up?

The answer was clear yesterday when I had to tink back 8 rows. When I saw the first, er, uh, SNAFU, I thought maybe I could fudge it. I couldn't. Then I saw the second one. Maybe I could ignore it. Maybe no one would ever notice them. I tried to tell myself that the Lady Godiva rule would probably work in this case. Nope. They were huge, immense, giant, humongous ERRORS.

Tink City.

But like the old friend that she has been for a few months, Kiri was remarkably forgiving. I have to admit I'm not sure I'd have been so nice to someone who jammed me higgly-piggly into a ziploc bag and stuffed me into the bottom of the knitting bag. But once her glitches were gone and she was once again pretty-damned-near-perfect, she jumped in to remind me of why I love this project. After Mystic Light, with every row a new and different collection of stitches, it was so pleasant to sit and knit the beautiful repetitive pattern of Kiri. Once I got back into the rhythm with her, it was like sitting with an old friend, sipping a nice cup of ... well, Diet Pepsi.

She's got a way to go, though. I've knit 10 repetitions and the pattern calls for 12. A search of Ravelry confirms my suspicion that 12 isn't going to be enough. One person did 19 reps and another did 20. Other people moaned that their shawls were smaller than they expected, and they wished they'd done more. I suspect that, after my experience with Birch turning into a shoulder shawl, I'll be happier in the 19-20 range.