a knitter navigates through life

Friday, April 25, 2008

I can't fix cancer, but I can knit.

When I was just a wee little sprout, we moved to Atlanta, to a neighborhood which consisted of three kids (me, my sister, and a neighbor boy), and a bazillion retirees. Initially, that sounds like no fun, but we made out like gangbusters. We always had a ready audience for our Girl Scout cookie sales, and we made a lot of money pet-sitting when people went on vacation (soooo much better than baby-sitting. I've baby-sat twice and both times the kids tried to kill me. And people wonder why I'm child-free-by-choice.). With two of the neighbors, we grew so close that they gave us money at our graduations. We've all known each other for twenty years now, and about two months ago, one of these neighbors died of cancer. It wasn't exactly sudden, but death is always unexpected and leaves such a rift, and his widow is trying to cope with her loss.

I want to make it better, but I can't fix cancer. I can, however, knit. (And I do, even when asked nicely not to.) So I decided to design and knit a scarf for her. I went into Knitch to buy yarn with no real idea of what I wanted. I wanted something in a chunky weight, that could stand up to ungentle washing, and a nice, neutral color, because I really didn't know her color preferences. I was thinking a nice tan. And so I preceded to torture poor Lois, who is a very sweet person and deserves better, making her show me every tan yarn in the place. Nothing would work; everything was too light, too dark, just not right. So Lois went off to help a less indecisive customer, and I wandered over to the cotton area, where I saw: the perfect yarn, Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Cotton in Tomato, which is the most beautiful deep earthy red. Red is kind of like tan, right? Sorry, Lois.

I'm really enjoying designing the cables. I wanted it to be all symbolic, with two cables representing her and her husband, starting apart at the beginning and growing closer until they began to twine around each other. Then the cables separate again, with a braided cable growing between them (they have three sons), and the two original cables will continue to twine around them. Designing this has been very good for my brain. It's been making me do a lot of that painful thinking thing. I feel my brain growing. And because it's changing so much, it's a lightning-fast knit. Usually I get so bored with scarves, but I haven't had a chance to here.
I hope it makes her feel better. My only fear is that she's going to cry when I give it to her.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

washed ashore

After a long and grumpy absence due to (as Cher Horowitz would say) surfing the crimson wave, I have returned with much progress and exciting new stuff for show and tell.

Work on the Brookside sweater, sadly shunted aside for the pre-Yarn-Harlot sprint on the Dancing Flames socks, has resumed, and I've used up all the brown yarn and moved onto the pink.

I love this color so much. Here's a close-up.

The Seraphim shawl is growing bigger and bigger. I'm almost done with the plain stockinette part, ready to start the charts. And working the the Malabrigo laceweight is every bit as wonderful as I imagined. Every couple of minutes I have to stop and bury my face in my work. I've gotten some strange looks, even from other knitters, but I just say, "Malabrigo laceweight" and they're like, "Ohh, I get it."

It's like knitting with unicorn down.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

isn't he precious?

The Best Roommate Ever and I had the following conversation this morning. (Side note: we both work weekends, so this happened at about 6 AM.)

BRE: Guess what woke me up at 2:30 this morning?

Me: Was it something four-legged and furry?

BRE: Yes. This one (points to Jaymie) threw up in my bed.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thank Bob I knit.

My sister moved back to Atlanta last weekend and, being the dutiful child that I am, I went over to my parents house to help with the unpacking. (She's staying at my parents house for a week and moving into her apartment this weekend. The fun never stops.) The plan was for them to leave at noon, hopefully to arrive at home around sixish. Well, they didn't leave until about 2:30, stranding me at my parents house alone for two and a half extra hours. Fortunately, I had brought my Dancing Flames socks, intending to finish them that night. Because I was so determinged not to be distracted, I had brought only the socks and no other knitting. (You see where this is going, don't you?)
I did, in fact, finish the socks that evening, and as I tried them on to admire them, a sobering thought sank over me: I had no other knitting. I was trapped alone, with two hours until other humans would arrive, and no knitting. (And my parents live 45 minutes from me, so while driving home to get more knitting and driving back was technically possible, it wasn't really practical.) I spent the evening sprawled prostrate and grumpy on the couch in front of the TV, flipping back and forth between Discovery Channel ("How It's Made") and VH1 ("I Love the 80's"), eating everything in sight and muttering, "Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. BORED." It was not pretty. Next time, I'll pack more yarn.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who are these people and why do I have to be related to them?

My sister is moving into a new apartment this weekend and made a request for a specific housewarming item she would like for me to knit. It seems her new apartment is one of those trendy, all-concrete, exposed-ductwork type of lofts, and she is worried that her little tootsies will get chilly on those hard cold floors. So she asked me to knit her an area rug. I stared at her for a good thirty seconds before I realized she was serious. Afterward, when I had picked myself up off the floor, I patted her on the shoulder and said, "It's good to want things." Nonknitters are so cute sometimes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dancing flames!

Finished, at long last! For real this time.

Here's a close-up of the lace pattern ("scrolls" from Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Knitted Socks, one of the eight-stitch lace patterns). This pattern never stopped being fun and intriguing. Usually once I knit something, I never want to knit it again, but I would do this again in a heartbeat.

And, for an accuracy check, the sock with Rereading Proust's bitchin' tattoo.

(Upon seeing the tattoo, Treats for Breathing asked, in her wide-eyed and innocent way, "What do you have against guitar music?" She makes me laugh until I snort.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


A while back, Gotta Knit tagged me for a meme. And I said some very bad words, because it was not one of those easy ones, like "what's your favorite color and favorite flavor of toothpaste?" Oh, no. It was a hard one: summarize your life philosophy in six words. Not five. Not seven. Six. Dammit. So I did a lot of thinking. And counting. And cussing. And more thinking. I finally came up with something , although there were several honorable mentions which didn't fit the word count that I'll list first.

"This too shall pass." This is a big favorite around my house. Mostly it's used when things are going bad, but I think it's also useful to keep in mind when things are going well. Nothing lasts forever, however much we may want it to. When I was younger, I would make the mistake of assuming during the happy times that I would be happy forever. Nuh-uh. Doesn't work that way. Remembering that happiness, like everything else, comes and goes, helps me keep things in perspective and not be crushed when Old Man Trouble comes around again.

"Sock yarn is good. Need more sock yarn." Well, this is pretty close to being my life philosophy. Hi, my name is Kim, and I have a sock yarn problem. But it's not really a real answer, is it? And a fair question deserves a fair answer.

What I finally decided on is "Treasure love in all its forms." One of my Eastern European coworkers (Oscar, of course) was telling me the other day, "Kim, you need a boyfriend." (Yes, again.) When I said, "No, I don't. What do I need a boyfriend for?", he responded, "You need someone to love you." And I told him, "I have LOTS of people who love me." And I realized it's true. I may not have (or want) a boyfriend, but I have very close ties with both my parents, an amazingly fun extended family, great coworkers (yes, even Oscar), dozens of friends who love me to bits, the Best Roommate Ever (my heterosexual life partner), and two obnoxious, adorable fuzzballs to squish and love on (because it is really hard to mope when you have a cat whining and meowing and rubbing on your face). Why should I feel bereft because I'm boyfriendless? I'm drowning in love over here. Just because it's not That Kind of love doesn't mean it shouldn't be treasured. Life usually doesn't turn out the way we've planned, and many of the people I've loved (romantically and platonically) I no longer talk to (what with break-ups, moving away, graduating, etc.) But that doesn't mean that those relationships were meaningless, or that I won't have more love come into my life. And I've learned to value it in whatever form, whether it's a boyfriend or a mentor or an obnoxious kittenbeast that wants to lay on my chest and knead my bladder.

It may look like they're snuggling, but they're not.

Kitties must maintain an inch of air between them at all times.

Oh, and no, I'm not going to tag anyone else. If you wanna do it, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Just in case you doubted that I'm crazy . . .

The dancing flames socks were finished, bound off, and photographed in the wild at the Yarn Harlot. (Many thanks to Gotta Knit for these pics.)

(Aside: I love this picture. I look so demure with my crossed ankles, don't I? The first and last time in my life, I'm sure.)

They look pretty finished, right? . . . . Or are they?

Imagine the shock and dismay when I appeared at the next knit gathering, working on the same damn socks. I wasn't happy with them. In my eagerness to widen them to accommodate my calves, I went a little overboard. Also, the 1x1 twisted rib that I used for the cuff was not nearly stretchy enough. So, I did what any sensible crazy person would do, and ripped them back one and a half repeats, picked up the lace pattern (by now, I could do this one while anesthetized) . . .

and reknit. I changed the ribbing to a nice 2x2 rib and I left the sock circumference at 80 stitches, instead of 88.

Crazy? Yes. But I'm so much happier with the fit now.

The Mad Crocheter said to me, "Kim, you're a sock perfectionist." No, darlin', I'm an everything perfectionist. Socks are just the only medium in which this level of perfectionism is practical, much less achievable.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Yarn Harlot!

She came. She saw. She made us laugh until we wet ourselves. (Well, metaphorically. I hope.) And she made the front page of the AJC. (Take THAT, knitting naysayers!)
The socks were indeed finished (barely) just in time for the Harlot.

Here is a picture of my post at the event. Kim, in her infinite wisdom, decided I had just the right blend of organization skills, crazed efficiency, the tactfulness born of years working in petting zoos, and manic bossiness to woman the box office and check in all of the 3 million knitters.

It was fine. I've worked July 4ths at Stone Mountain Park. You can't scare me.

And here she is in all her glory. Thanks, Steph! You gave the knitters of Atlanta an awesome time.