Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday, vocab edition

Last August, I had taken to a spot at a local university's library.  My quiet corner was a place where even the list of chores I kept in my head had to shush as I read and sometimes wrote for awhile each week.   After the fall semester began, I discovered several tables had been set up near my spot.  A used book sale was underway, each book only one dollar. 

I’m a sucker for a bargain, but I have no room at home for more books.  I’m a wannabe book worm with shelves of the things still needing to be read.  Yet, whenever my concentration wandered from the book I’d brought from home, there the sale tables lay in wait for me.  Did I get up and find another spot to avoid temptation?  No.  I am stubborn.  I was not going to buy a book.   

So I just looked.  Once, to stretch my legs, I trailed up and down the aisles closest to my spot, my neck bowed and cricked as I read the titles.  Fortunately, many there were the library's copies of outdated textbooks or about computer languages deader than Latin and with no hope of being as interesting.  The tables stayed up for weeks, and I found I could ignore them pretty well, eventually.  Because I wasn't going to take any of them home.

Then came the day I wandered too far.  In my defense, I believe my spot was occupied when I arrived at the library, so I went hunting for another one.  I happened to wander by the end of a book sale table I hadn't bothered with before.  More textbooks, more tired reference works, I'd assumed.

Two colossal volumes caught my attention.  Three words on both spines stopped my heart.  And feet.

...Oxford English Dictionary

THE Oxford English Dictionary?  No.  Not here.  No one would sell those.  Well, maybe two of them, if that's all there was...


What.  You mean...that is to say, you mean, the version where all the umpteen volumes are in just two books?  The one that wouldn't occupy miles of shelf space in any given home, like mine?  That one?  THAT ONE?!?!

Oh yes.  That one.

Oh my ever-loving God.

Seriously, folks, I actually looked up to see if anyone else was about to swoop in for this prize.  Had no one else seen these here all this time?  I touched one, lifted it, set it on the backs of WordPerfect manuals (or whatever was underneath it, as if I was paying attention), and I opened it.

Compact OED opened

Understandably, you may not get why I love this dictionary.  I’ll explain.  This compendium is the chronicle of the soul of the English language.  I pored over its pages in college as if reading the secret diaries of my mother tongue.  The OED is not just a book of definitions.  It reveals the definitions' ancestry and the first known use of words in writing.  The dictionary deepens literature and breaks some of its codes.  It's only a little bit of a stretch to say that all the thousands of dollars spent on my higher education was worth it, just to be introduced to these books.

And now every single word in them could be mine for two dollars. Total.

You're damn straight I took those books home, schlepping them to the other side of the campus--I'm telling you, the English Language weighs a ton in late summer--where my car was waiting.  I found room for them on our shelves.  It was only two books, after all.  And I've lived happily with them ever since. 

Says she, like this was a proper fairy tale.  No, I didn’t match soul-destroying obstacles with overcoming heroism; I pounced on a pearl worthy of a greater price, and I’m not sorry.  I’m sharing my geeky confession with you to help you understand why I want to present rusty ol’ words from the OED, and why I’d rather do this on Throwback Thursdays than toss grimace-inducing photos from the late twentieth century onto my Facebook feed.  If I share more OED words, they won’t come with lengthy explanations like now.  Really.

So, with the help of a powerful magnifying glass and a bit of paraphrasing to unpack the dictionary’s abbreviations, today’s TBT Vocab Word from the good people at Oxford:

Repai'ring -- (a noun derived from a verb, rare.)  The act of going or resorting (to a place); (obsolete) return; (obsolete) place of repair or resort.

Earliest recorded use in 1375 by John Barbour in The Bruce:  "Heir I saw the men..mak luging [making camp].  Heir trow [true] I be their repayring.

Page 2493 of the Compact OED

I now own such a treasure because of my repairing to a library. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Deep Stash 9, the initial frontier

I've left a lot of the last several months unrecorded on this blog. When I last waxed on and on, I was giving Monday The Finger, right? It turns out that not only has my defiance helped me throw off the Monday Blahs, but so has just owning up to the blahs out loud, in print. Digital print, anyway.

I was kind of surprised by that. It's not that I was trying to keep my intermittent depression a secret and that tossing it into the blogosphere became a huge relief from a hoarded burden. I hadn't been secretive, but the relief came anyway.  After I set it all down into (moderately) ordered thoughts for more witnesses than just my journal pages to stew over, I somehow created distance--an interruption to some self-defeating cycle. I have had very few very bad Mondays since.

One of the things I've left unrecorded here is that I have finally “Deep Stashed” nine projects. I'm bummed I didn't share the process here. I said I would try, but nope. Didn't happen. I actually made eleven projects, but two different yarns sourced two projects each. So, in order of completion:

(Each project title is a link to its respective Ravelry page.)

Asymetrical Cables Socks, blogged about here. (281yards of yarn used.)

Asymmetrical Cable Socks

Hourglass Throw, also blogged at the aforementioned link. (1512 yards used.)

Hourglass Throw

Magical Mystery Headband, an attempt to mimic a stitch pattern on a small scale. (A meager 88 yards used.)

Magical Mystery Headband

Juno Regina Stole, blogged here. (818 yards)

Juno Regina Stole

Buckland Sweater, blogged here. I dipped into that Donegal Tweed yarn again to test knit a currently unpublished cowl pattern. I wish I could show you a picture, but it'll have to wait until the designer releases the pattern. (1114 yards used, in total)

Buckland preblock

Little Minx socks. For a busy yarn, I made the counter-intuitive match to a busy pattern. The pattern is regular, however, so it doesn't get lost in the manic color changes and actually tames the colorway a little, in my opinion. Which was the one that counted, since I was knitting it. (286 yards)

Little Minx socks

From a skein of thermonuclear green Caron Simply Soft that WILL NOT DIE, I made two projects: Nermal the Roly Poly Kitty and a set of IV Site Wrist Covers for the pediatric ward at a local hospital. These two projects were also used in my local yarn shop's BINGO game, which is still going on. Nermal covered the Toy Square, and the fingerless mitts covered the Charity square. I'll have to blog more about the Bingo game later. (79 yards altogether)

Nermal IV Site Cover Mitts

Meadowsweet Cardigan, suitable to cover the Something for Baby square in Bingo. (234 yards used.)

Meadowsweet Cardigan

Birds of a Feather shawlette. Is it a skinny shawl? A fat-ended scarf? Yes! It's also the first mystery knitalong I've ever done, all to check off another Bingo square. (766 yards of two different yarns)

Birds of a Feather

That's the first nine projects. Did the nearly 5200 yards of yarn I plowed through knock a dent in my oldest stash, the yarn I bought in a new knitter frenzy back in 2007/08? Um, no. Not even. I did the math. I have almost nineteen MILES of yarn left. (I converted the total into miles because the yardage number is just too ridiculous to type. You go convert it back if you really want to know.) So, I'm considering my options. I might give away some of the yarn, sell it, or (more likely) keep knitting it. I'll let know.

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, 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?


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