Saturday, August 22, 2009

Are you sure you're you?

Last night I got to play harp at the local arts night downtown. Since I was located in an art studio, all sorts of artsies walked in the door; it was fun to meet them. It seems like so long since someone outside my head has expressed an effervescent interest in singing Renaissance music. I also talked with a model (or jack-of-all-trades), listened to the local off-broadway group, and was given a skein of yarn by a friend and an art cube by an artist who also does her own spinning. Fun times. Of course, listening to the people singing made me want to sing all the more; it was nice to have a place to do it, even if it was directly across the street and not quite far enough away to avoid frequent interruptions. I can't really compete with amplifiers and upbeat music when I'm schmalzing. I'm still debating whether I should audition for the broadway group.

The only thing that was a bit off was that everyone kept thinking my name was David. It turns out that I'm not the only man who plays harp around here. Funny, but you can't always get your fame by being unique, even if you are a guy who plays harp and knits. I may still have the corner on the male knitting market, but I wouldn't mind sharing it. I like the attention, but I prefer company. And my name is Will.

Yesterday was my day off, and I was in a funny mood. So I spent the day knitting something small to take a break from my more involved projects. Not because I really needed a willie warmer, but I've wanted to make something off color for a while. I do love the colors and the yarn. Ah. Here's the one time you get to see it:

As I was randomly typing the title for this post, I was reminded of a nice little movie, Who Am I This Time? If you want to see an early Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon, check it out. I only read one Kurt Vonnegut story in high school, but this showed me a different side of him. I like.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sweaters can be fun.

If you are a knitter, you may have had the delight of frogging a project. In the past year, as I have become a more dedicated knitter (nice way of saying that I plummeted over the edge, into the abyss, and may never recover) I have found myself more and more at ease unraveling my hours upon hours of labor. What better way to feel productive than to say that you just purposefully demolished your own project? Well, when it comes to this raglan I'm working on, ripping has become a bit of a joke.

I should back up and give a tad of backround. I have knit one full sweater, back in college when I was a rather new knitter. I don't remember ever having issues with the fabric being uneven. I don't recall ever struggling to work with stranded techniques. My first sweater included a strip of colorwork that I designed myself, and I think it came out nicely. Now the real problem was this: I didn't know how to form a proper knit stitch. Every single stitch was twisted, being worked in the round and apparently wrapped wrong. The result? The sweater sways on a bias, kinda tornado-ing around my body. I also had no concept of clothing construction, so I just went straight up, split into frond and back panels, and sewed the sleeves on at a wonderful ninety-degree angle. I didn't even know I had done anything wrong! That was, I believe, close to seven or eight years ago. I never thought of frogging.

My next sweater was a simple v-neck vest, also done in the round. (I believe this was a slight modification from working the front and back in seperate panels.) It seemed nice enough until I seamed the shoulders and tried it on. I was missing a few inches in the torso. Now, I could have ripped back. But I really didn't want to do that, especially in Malabrigo. So, I am proud to say that I successfully (and painstakingly) snipped in the middle of the torso, picked up the stitches, knit a few more inches, and grafted it back together. You can't tell a thing! Great. No frogging for that process. So the arm and neck holes are bound off to tightly. Some day I will rip them out and redo them. Then I will felt it just a tad, since I don't like how baggy the vest looks.

Now that I am determined to break the barrier that keeps sweaters as a mystery, I am hitting my head against a wall. The body seems like it might be a touch baggy. I'm hoping to get some pointers for how to take it in a bit. The sleeves, though, are the problems. I knit up to the elbows, two at a time, and realized (thanks Ryan!) that they are too tight. Yeah, I knew it, but I didn't want to admit that I would have to frog them. I ripped one out, and reknit past that point. A couple times. One thing after another. Long story kept from getting much longer, I think I'm in the home stretch with sleeve #1. The fabric looks like lumpy oatmeal. I was thinking of calling myself Willy Wonky. I must admit that I committed the unpardonable sin and attempted to learn continental style knitting while working on this sleeve. This has now been rectified, and while I am continuing to use a modified continental style on my Daybreak shawl, I will finish this sweater the way I have been knitting all these years. And I will love myself for it. May the plague of frogs be done!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Long Yarn

The past couple days made for some knitterly goodness. Yesterday I finally got to head up to dear old Loop with my friend Sheila (her first time). As she drove, I worked on my second botanic hat, this time combining my Summertime Blues handspun with a natural grey two-tone yarn. Enh, a bit wonky, but that's my yarn's fault. I am a bit sad for the designer. This hat does a poor job representing his work. But then again, I'll think of it as being a pioneer.

While at Loop, I was delighted to find the Malabrigo stashes replenished, and I got my first two skeins of Malabrigo sock. Every time I see the Lettuce colorway, I get a bit giddy. And then there's Solis (which my friend Jane correctly identified upon first sight, without ever seeing it in person). The blues and greens in this colorway give off the effect of being iridescent, without actually being so. The closest thing I've seen to a peacock in a yarn, I think. Feeling adventurous, I got a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock to work in with it. Need I say that I probably wore out my welcome by talking too fast? I don't need to drink. I have yarn in gorgeous colorways.

After racking up some customer points at Loop, Sheila kindly followed me to Rosie's Yarn Cellar, trusting my male navigational skills. GPS is overrated. The adventure of knowing you are close is better than having everything spelled out in clear and appropriately timed reminders. After poring over way too much fiber in the blue/green category, I settled for my first skein of Bearfoot by Mountain Colors. There are certain yarns that I have seen knit up and thought, "I must get me some of that some day." MC is one of those.

Upon returning to the little hub of my hometown, I donned warmer clothing and headed for the "cinema." Amanda and Lynn had found seats right behind a wall near the front, so I got to display my new Noro socks throughout the movie. The frigid climate control was ideal for a Noro party, as I had my Noro hat and scarf on, too. I love that Noro has the amazing quality of being able to complement the most surprising outfits. Oh, and the movie was good, too. I never knew that Julia Child was so endearing.

You'd think I'd stop writing by now. But today I caught the bus towards Atlantic City, finishing my second Botanic Hat and having a small photo shoot there. I understand that New Jersey is having hot weather, but I don't grasp the need to overcompensate with air conditioning. The hat was finished none too soon. Starbucks wasn't any better. More hat wearing :)

Then Jenny-pookins picked me up for a day of knitting and saying goodbye to the sweet Malabrigo prodigy called Jane. The two had picked out beads and Jenny turned them into stitch markers for me...they are perfect for my blue/green fixation. Enablers. I'm using them on my Daybreak shawl, which is coming rather slowly because I have decided I'm going to master continental knitting. It was nice to have a distraction at some points during the day as the ladies got to talking along certain subjects that I just cannot grasp. I sampled handmade caramels, settling upon fleur de sel as pretty darn good. Jenny may have been on track when she said "orgasmic." I also gorged on some delicious Chocolate Chip cookies made by Tim. He was a good sport, too, all the way through the colorful topics of conversation.

Amanda and I rounded off the day with an interview about knitting and our local group and such. The interviewer focused on her, since I was merely tagging along, but I chimed in a couple times with my supremely deep insights. "I buy yarn at yarn stores." I'm so good. "People associate knitters with growing old and slowing down. That's not true. We're young, we're energetic, and we're rather impatient." "See, I'm knitting with my eyes closed." I'm sure I was a big help. Well, at least I got a lot of progress on my first redone sleeve, and even practiced some continental knitting on it. Don't worry, it's already a mess.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Too beat to knit?

Last week, I could tell I was coming down with something nasty. Thankfully, it did not settle in until the morning following the wedding, so I was able to sing alright. This week has been another story. I have trouble speaking a sentence without breaking into a hacking fit. What fun! I keep a trusty roll of TP handy, and basically sit around. I generally know when I'm really sick by the indicator that I don't feel much like eating. Add to that the indicator that I don't feel much like knitting. Yesterday, to my amazement, I was content to spend good lengths of time on the couch, leaving my knitting untouched for large blocks of time! How could this be??

Maybe I feel I deserve it. After all, I wrestled hard to finish my Coriolis socks, and I survived! The ribbing on the cuff and the concurrent bindoff gave me the trouble, now being too loose, now too tight. Eventually I got it reasonably right. I had to go up two or three needle sizes for the bindoff. I can't wait for warmer weather to wear these. I'm also glad that they are ankle socks...I think I like the look better. And for all you sandal snobs...I have no shame about wearing socks with sandals, especially these! Who made that rule, anyways?

I was happy to pick the sweater back up, and it travelled with me to the local theater production. It was decent, especially the chorus numbers, and I got a lot of knitting done. I'm now working on the sleeves, and using my newly made stitch markers. Yes, I tried my hand at beading this week. For beads not being my thing, I found it surprisingly satisfying to close off the little pins with a few beads on them. I think it was the tactile experience that did it for me. I made them in my favorite colors--blue, green, and woody browns--they should be hard to miss. Being glass, they have a brilliant gleam to them that catches the eye as they move. The red ones are for special markers. I also got to make two markers that hold row counters. It's the ultimate in convenient knitting. If only they weren't so bulky.

I have digressed a bit. Watching the musical this week made me want to act and sing again. I must admit that while I've grown up watching the old musicals on video (Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and all those folks from MGM), I've been slow to take a liking to the genre of musicals. My music studies happened within a snobbish classical context. Unfortunately, there is nothing remotely akin to 'classical' in my neck of the woods. Playing harp has given me an outlet in the realm of compromised folk music, and I milk "Danny Boy" for all it's worth. Okay, so I'm secretly schmalzy. Or not so secretly. This week, my latest whim is to audition for the upcoming show. I don't know if I'm ready to give up all that knitting, especially in the prime time of autumn. But it would be great to act a bit. For now, I can dream.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Knitting in church

This past weekend was a whirlwind of wedding fun. I got to head up to the Philly area to sing in a friend's wedding. Boy, it's been a while since I've really sung! It was great to get back to it a bit. Here's the condensed soup: freak rainstorms, lots of waiting, yay for transposing capabilities on the organ, Christian bachelor parties=Dave and Buster's, reception at a gorgeous mansion, hanging out with good guys and musician-folk, need more sleep, seeing a few old friends, and where's my knitting when I need it?
I knit a set of washrags for the couple, and I even finished weaving in the ends from up on the stage during the extended prelude. Yes, the bride/bridesmaids were a good half hour late. Lucky for the groom, it was only the hairdresser that caused the delay. Worked for me. I kept my work low, so no one could see what I was doing with my hands.

Silly me, I left my knitting behind during the reception, thinking I'd be too busy mingling and dancing. I didn't realize at the time that I'd have a couple hours' worth of photos to wait for, and then my entire table would leave, and I'd be left to explore the beautiful grounds with the fireflies for the greater part of the evening. They were very nice grounds, by the way. Bee-u-tee-ful. So it wasn't all a loss. And I have a few Twizzlers left from the candy bar. I only realized this morning that there had been no cake--only ice cream and candy. Fine with me. But all that time, I could have been working on my second Coriolis sock, and still not missed anything! I don't drink, so that wasn't an option. So I was just meditative and a bit melancholy. It felt like one of those scenes from a movie, except no handsome stranger came to chat. Here's sock number one:

By the way...I'm officially past the toe of number two. It's made with Noro Silk Garden Sock. It has made me want to spin a similar yarn single for socks. I love two things about this sock above: the colors, and the fact that I didn't have to pick up a single stitch. Yahaha!

Now that the wedding's over, I can work on my raglan sweater some more. That said, I'm gonna go do...something.