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Sunday, January 19, 2014

And Mondays

"Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."  --  The Carpenters

Unlike Karen Carpenter, I love rainy days:  The gray, monolithic clouds, the cool, the thunder, how green grass oddly brightens under all that gloom.  Some people thrive on sunshine, but I'm more alive with the rain.  Maybe rainy days, for all the noise they can produce, appeal to the introvert in me.  Even daylight needs a retreat from humanity behind a curtain of clouds.

Karen and I are sisters as far as Mondays go, though.  For years, until recently, that wasn't the case.  To me, The Monday Blahs was just a shorthand way of expressing one's disappointment in the brevity of the weekend.  The barely-registered downer might bring a grimace, but not more.

Not so, lately.  The Blahs have morphed into something tenacious.  In fact, "blah" is a euphemism because sometimes the dark impotence and loathing that creeps up in me late Sunday feels nearly tangible.  For several weeks of Mondays I haven't trusted my judgement when I wonder if my relief might come on the heels of drastic change--destruction of a creative project I hold dear but have been stumped on for weeks.  Just shred it, I think.  Better yet, shred all your creative efforts.  Start over.  That'll help.

Of most options beginning with destruction, I am instantly suspicious.  So Monday after Monday for a chunk of last year, I just hunkered down and bore this weird, 24-hour emotional flu, resisting my aforementioned instincts and waiting for it all to ease up.  I would bear it alone in the house or out in public.  When out, I gained a clearer perspective.  I wasn't less convinced of my loathsomeness, but I was more able to untangle myself from the hold it had on me.  I could breathe when I was out and about and had things to do.

It's important to mention here that I have always had some murmur of what the romantics called melancholia.  As a child I had it and as an adolescent: I endured a semester's spell of it in college; and dips and turns of it have stretched into my midlife.  Winston Churchill labeled his depression The Black Dog.  I have never known it to have so much personality.  I call it The Black Hole--the collapse of one's sense of self into a numbness from which even light can't escape.  That's the belief at the time, of course, in the throes of it, but that's just another unreliable instinct I've had to outlast.

This means I know what I've been dealing with every Monday and occasionally on Saturdays.  Why these days, I'm not sure.  Perhaps I became conditioned to feeling crappy on Mondays, independent of the original reason I felt that way.  For whatever reason, for however it started, it is.  And I got tired of barely bearing it.

So I started giving these days The Finger.

That's an inelegant way of putting it, crass, but that's how I felt when I got sick of just squeaking through Mondays.  Giving Monday The Finger is why I bring all this here, on my show-and-tell blog.  The survival skill started on a day when I couldn't get out of the house to distract myself.  I was in the thick of hating myself, and my mind wouldn't let me slog two words together with grace.  My fingers wouldn't make the tiny motions to knit.  I was so tired of this, I had to do something. So I took a larger move, staging a rebellion against my helplessness by cleaning a ceiling fan and its light fixtures, Then I cleaned the light fixture in the office.  Another time, I dragged all the ingredients together to bake something.  The process was laborious; each project took a long time because my muscles hated me, but I made them stir the batter, scrub the surface, or do whatever large motion I determined I had to do to beat back Monday.

By fighting back, I improved something.  My environment, most noticeably.  It was cleaner, smelled yummier, felt less like a cage, and that reward has been an anti-depressant in its own right.  My grimness hasn't vanished magically, however; in the back of my mind, it still simpers at my worth.  Yet I've trusted for a long time that I don't get to determine my own value.  God's life bought mine back from all the lies everyone--including me--tells.  Even so, I had not needed to so diligently remind myself of that truth with actions, until lately.

This Saturday, the hole began to open up again.  This time, I arranged beauty against it.

I don't have Before pictures, but I hung a growing collection of photos and art on my dining room wall.  I had some pieces on the wall already, but they were too spread out, and I needed space to include more.  Some of the work I hung is mine, some a friend's, and the sketches are by a stranger whose work I ran across at an art fair.  Since I'm not including a DIY tutorial here, I'll simply provide a link or two for the method I used to arrange them.

DR Wall 1

DR Wall 2

The clock and window box mirror were there already, and I didn't want to move them.  Since they had a significant gap between them, I divided the pictures into two groupings.  I walk through the room now and smile.  Maybe someday I won't have to muster as much defiance to get a job like this done.  But I might have to.  Even tomorrow, on Monday.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Deep Stash, Fourth Project

I knit a sweater in two weeks.

 A sweater. For me. Even modified to resize it a bit more generously, the pattern was easy-peasy.

  Buckland preblock

 Buckland is knit in two pieces, each one beginning at the sleeve and working toward the center where the live stitches are NOT seamed NOR grafted but joined to the other half with a three-needle bind off. Because the wrong sides of the knitting are facing each other during the bind off, a pretty ridge is created down and front as well as the back, below.

  Buckland back

This is a bind off I learned from the very first project I cast on when I began to knit with needles, so the whole process was smooth...much smoother than the Donegal Tweed Chunky yarn I used. That wool is kinda rough, but not so much it should've been a rug rather than my sweater.

 The only tricky part of the sweater was casting on for the side "seam" once the sleeve was done. I tried to shoot a little video of how I finally did it, but I'm no cinematographer with the equipment I have at my disposal (an iPod Touch with no tripod). If at some point I can figure out how to record it, I'll add the video here. Suffice it to say in still pictures, the "seam" starts out like this:

  Buckland side seam start

 Then the front and back grow simultaneously as the rows are knit and purled up and over the shoulder, back and forth, until the work is ready to be divided for the neck.

  Buckland neck

 The side seam is subtle, when the sweater is all done.

  Buckland side detail

 Buckland chewed up over a thousand yards of yarn and cleared out a drawer and a half in one of my plastic storage chests. I have some of the Donegal Tweed left over, but I'll find another pattern for it eventually. Maybe even for another Deep Stash 9 project.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Deep Stash, Third Project

After two months, it's done.  The Juno Regina Stole.

Juno Regina Stole

The pattern, at Knitty.com, is by Miriam L. Felton.  The yarn is Alpaca Cloud laceweight by Knit Picks.  I have a nit to pick with that yarn, by the way, but later.

Juno Regina Stole

For now, I know I mentioned I might post an in-progress view of the stole.  Instead, I just kept knitting on it; I was determined to finish it by the end of July.  As recompense, I do have a few shots of the wrap while it was blocking.  I tried a couple of new-to-me techniques of which I wanted to keep a record.

Juno Regina Stole

Since I don't have a Hogwarts Great Hall table in my dining room, and because I knew this thing would block to over seventy inches (finaly tally:  94"), I folded it in half to block it.  In the picture below, you might think you're seeing double, but it's just the lower level of knitting that's a tad offset.

Juno Regina Stole

Also, while I love love LOVE blocking wires, they do not come in half sizes.  I needed short wires to set the points of the stole.  (Letting long wires do the job, all the while sticking out over the edge of the table, is an open invitation for a cat to get his eye poked out from PLAY.  MUST PLAY!  ATTACK the sticky-outy things!!!)

Of course, I could cut one of the wires I already have, but that kind of rashness I save for breaking alpaca laceweight yarn three times when its center-pull ball keeps throwing up knots and snarls and general mayhem at all hours of the day and night.

Not that I'm never going to use this yarn again.  I could.  I've learned its limits now and respect them.  High-maintanence, prima donna, breath-of-god soft stuff that it is.

Anyway.  I used a pair of metal knitting needles to set the stole's points.

Juno Regina Stole

And everything turned out all right.

Juno Regina Stole

The stole is about fourteen inches wide.

Juno Regina Stole

And I'll probably wear it more like this, as a loose scarf, than around my shoulders as a stole.

Juno Regina Stole

I'm working on projects right now that either don't involve stash or are using yarn that hasn't spent much time with its elderly counterparts.  But more Deep Stash work is in the queue!  In the form of socks, probably, because this wet, mild summer will eventually dip into even cooler temperatures.

Sunday Storm Tomatoes

Soggy tomatoes, anyone?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Deep Stash 9


I have a hugantic yarn stash.  I began collecting yarn back when I knit only on looms, seven and a half years ago, but the majority of the hoard came into being after I switched to knitting needles a short time later.  The needles made me think I could knit faster, I guess, but I couldn't keep up.  The fiber just appeared in my house--skein after bagload--as if someone had fed the first few of them after midnight.

In the early days, when the stash filled a mere bin or two, I logged it all into Ravelry.  

You're looking at Deep Stash.


It wasn't an overwhelming task, really, and I loved seeing my yarn displayed on one webpage.  Since then, I have continued to keep track of it via Ravelry.  I would buy a few skeins, use one immediately, but mostly tuck the rest of it away until a project worthy of the precious yarnie-warnie came my way.  And so my Ravelry stash page grew.

Not even half of it.


Also, my dad's old wardrobe is now involved for storage, as well as four sets of plastic, stackable chests of drawers.  And there is overflow.  A knitter doesn't divulge exact, total yardage in mixed company (meaning, non-yarn obsessives connoisseurs), but the numbers on Ravelry tell me I could unreel a continuous line of string from my house to Tulsa, no problem.  Whenever I was in the same room as The Stash, I felt confronted by it.  It was a wall of yarn, skeins inhumanely caged because so much potential was just sitting there.  If the yarn could talk, it would've been muttering resentfully.  

Let me tell you, confrontational yarn loses a lot of its preciousness in a big hurry.  

So in January, I began diving into my stash more often for projects.  Now, the fact that I started doing this after New Year's Day is more or less coincidence.  I didn't act from a resolution, in other words, because resolutions made in January are like snowflakes made in May--they're doomed to die as soon as they hit ground.  (And around here this year, we knew about Maytime snowflakes.)  No, I was simply appalled at the stash-strocity around that time of year when winter was at its deepest and darkest.  I became determined to whittle it down, so I reacted without much forethought.  Thus was born Deep Stash 9.

Projects made from my oldest yarn acquisitions (the "Deep Stash") have been and will continue to be my main focus this year.  I've already completed two projects which I've pictured below, and I'm working on the third.  I've knit other projects in between them--those made from more recent additions to my stash and those made with brand new yarns for the local yarn shop where I work.  Primarily, though, I am focusing on the stash yarns with the oldest vintage.

How old is that? Also, have I made any other guidelines for myself?  Here are the bullet point specs:

  • Yarns acquired during 2008 or earlier are eligible for The Nine*.
  • Most of the yardage of a particular yarn must be used in the project, so leftovers are allowed.
  • I can knit or crochet with other yarn, too, especially other yarn from my stash.  My goal is to reduce the general size of the stash, after all.

That's pretty much it.  I'm not even giving myself a time limit, like I Must Knit All Old Yarn By 2014.  Since I would like to reduce the size of my entire stash so that it will all fit into my dad's wardrobe, I'm just going to work stitch by stitch, yard by yard, until enough of it is gone.  Until I'm most of the way back home from Tulsa, that is.  

With all of that explained, the first project of Deep Stash 9 was a pair of socks knit with a superwash merino wool dyed as "Coffee Bean" by Beyond Basic Knits.  

Asymmetrical Cable Socks

Like most of the other yarns in The Nine, I bought this one in 2008.  The dyer is no longer selling yarn on etsy.com, apparently; I can find no trace of her there.  

Asymmetrical Cable Socks close up

The pattern is Asymmetrical Cables by Cookie A, from the book Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd.

The second project is a blanket, Hourglass Throw, by Anne Hanson.  

Hourglass Throw

I bought the yarn as mill ends from another now-defunct online seller Angelicrafts.  It was a great deal, even though Caron Simply Soft is already inexpensive, but I'd never seen this heathered plum in stores.  I had intended to knit THOMY a sweater with it since purple is his favorite color, but I made the blanket instead to give to his stepmom who recently underwent chemotherapy.  I wanted her to have it as her chemo blanket, but I sorely underestimated the time it took to knit.  In the end, she got the blanket for Mother's Day.  

Hourglass Throw close up

I'll post the other Nine individually, and probably while they're in progress.  And I do my utmost to keep the other posts from being this freakishly long.



*Why NINE?  If you're a Trekkie of any depth, you don't really have to ask that question.  And, yes, I accidentally typed "Space" at least once.  To directly answer a question THOMY posed to me:  No, there will be no Ferengi sweaters included.  Not even ear muffs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

To all my fellow Americans of these United States, may you have a happy and safe Independence Day.

Happy Breakfast

If you're allowed to shoot fireworks in your neck of the bone-dry country (we are, though the prairie could burst into flame from a flash of anger), please don't be stupid.  It could make you sad.

Sad Breakfast

And possibly disfigured.  (No, I didn't take a picture of a disfigured breakfast.  Ew.)

I did, however, shoot a creepy angle of Happy Breakfast...

Creepy Breakfast

...using my hard-fought freedom for sober and noble purposes only.

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