Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Knitting Birthday

Sometime in April last year was when I started knitting. I can sort of pinpoint the date because the November before I met this super awesome girl and her boyfriend at a Nanowrimo event. Or it might have been the year before's Nano, but we didn't really get to be friends until the 2007 Nano. Her name was Amanda, her boyfriend was Owen. We all sat around at WriteIns talking about our books or his plays, and eventually I was like you guys have to come over and watch Torchwood or Doctor Who or Garth Marenghi's Dark Place- whatever it was, they did and we all started hanging out here and while we'd watch TV Amanda would knit, and I'd ask what she was working on, and she'd offer to teach me, and I'd say, nah, I'm good.

And then they got engaged and he got a job in Chicago and in March she was gone. And as soon as she was gone, I was like, actually, I do want to knit.

That's Amanda and Me at my birthday party, which is why I'm so tarted up.

So, April comes and I... don't actually remember how I learned to knit. I think I looked at some sites on the internet, or checked a book out of the library, and wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into, so I didn't want to buy a bunch of stuff and find out I didn't like knitting, so I posted a want ad on FreeCycle for knitting... anything. And someone behind the Marietta Square was like, I have a bag of yarn you could take, and someone near Roswell behind Sandy Plains was like, I have some needles.

I go to the Square, pull up at their house, and I'm looking for the bag, only all I see is this hugenormous yard bag- like for fall leaves, and I'm like, no way is that my bag. Only I peek in the top and it is. It's so much bag-of-yarn that I have to lay it down in the backseat because it won't fit in the trunk. And over in Roswell there's a freezer bag of needles- mismatched dual points, cables, circulars, straight. Enough needles that for a while I had about five matching sets in each size.

So, I start learning to knit from a book or whatever, and it just all constantly goes wrong. Casting on is a nightmare and everything I try knitting just gets wider instead of going straight up like it should...

Which is where I get to my first teacher, my best friend Kevin's Mom, who's from Germany and knits really fast, so at first you're always like "wait, how did you do that?". She showed me how to do a long tail single hand cast on, which is so easy- and what I was doing wrong- the book wasn't clear about what happens at the end of the row, so I kept adding a stitch. So, she sets me straight on what I'm doing and I'm so excited about being able to knit without the thing getting wider that I just start knitting a four or five stitch wide scarf and it's about ten feet long before I realize I don't know how you finish it.

Anyway, around this time Mom has to go to some doctor appointment down at Perimeter so I go with her because there's a knitting store there, and it's really the first place I've ever been to for yarn besides seeing it at JoAnn's or where-ever. We go to Strings and Strands which has so much yarn stacked up you sort of feel as soon as you open the door it's all falling in on you. I find a couple of nice skeins there, and ask what I do to get the scarf off the needles, and she's like it's called a bind off, and this is how you do it. And then I'm able to get the long thin scarf done and move on to something else.

I do a scarf with two colors all at once, a pair of armwarmers in July which I was so proud of I actually wore them right then, and Kevin's Mom shows me how dual point needles work, and I start a pair of gloves.

august 7 008

And you know what pattern I used for those? I didn't. I totally made that up in my head, based off what I learned from Kevin's Mom. I mean, yeah, they're totally shapeless and not formfitting, but I made that up. I didn't know anything about increases and decreases then or cables or anything.

So, I go to Italy which is where really nice wool comes from but no one knits there and I was living in what might have been the only city in all of Italy to have a place that sold yarn and needles. You hiked out of the town, down a hill, turned down a neighborhood street, and next to a Laundromat there was a store that was sometimes open and it sold buttons and pantyhose and beads and they had about twenty skeins of wool there and a few boxes of needles.


I finished those handwarmers the same day I dislocated my knee in Florence. So at least my hands were warm while I huddled miserably in the Florence McDonalds while everyone else went and saw the museums and I had to wait for the bus home so I could lay in our flat's front room and watch Doctor Who on my laptop all weekend.

The only other place to get yarn there was the weekly market- I still have some of it, and boy is it loud. And strange.

I got home and hadn't really gained any new knitting knowledge since I'd learned to use dual points. But while I was in Italy I'd fallen in love with Anticraft's Swamp Witch pattern, and I'd never done a pattern before. I decided not to buy the yarn for it until I had a job, and so it wasn't until late November, mid December that I finally got all the things I needed. Started the project, was super proud of it, took it up to my Uncle's, got done with it and started putting the tassels on. Which is where it all went terribly awry.

I'd screwed up counting the pattern somewhere and one side was about six inches wider and I didn't have enough tassels for it. And Mom was convinced that even though I couldn't finish it and it was lopsided and lacking tassels it was the greatest. thing. ever. Which only made it worse, because... well. I mean, it's broken. I didn't have more tassels. I had to hide it in the garage to get her to stop talking about it.

And it wasn't for... Oh, four or five months before I took it out, used something else for the tassels, and wore it. And everyone was like OMG THIS IS GREAT WHERE DID YOU BUY IT. Which is sort of a riot. One of the guys in my History class was talking to me about it and I admitted the screw up and he was like *rolls eyes* oh, well, I noticed that, I just didn't want to embarrass you in front of everyone by pointing it out. And then everyone at our table laughed.


That's sort of an extreme close up of when I started it.

And somewhere around that time I learned to cable, too, which is so much easier than it looks.


The funny thing is how many guys are interested in knitting. I mean, yeah, knitting. I've met guy knitters, but this time I mean like, oh hey what are you doing? that's neat looking, kind of stuff. I was working on this pink and brown shawl in class during a movie and the guys at my table kept reaching over to sort of pet the fabric. At the end of class they were all asking if I was going to put tassels on it, and maybe they should be bright red, and shaped like this...


That's the shawl. No, it doesn't have red tassels. But then again JoAnn's ran out of the yarn and can't get more at the moment so I'm kind of screwed until I get more.

And here's a hat I made.


And in that year of knitting I've had a bunch of teachers. Kevin's Mom. Jean. The nice lady at Strings and Strands. People at The Whole Nine Yards. And I actually taught people how to knit, too, which is the most astounding to me. Kayla, while we were in Italy, Mom when I got back. I've even gotten to the point where I'm planning knitted Christmas presents this year, and some for birthdays, too.

One of the other things that gets me as a history student is the strange and mysterious history of knitting. Egyptians knitted, only it was more like advanced knot tying. No one is entirely certain where knitting came from, other than probably the Mediterranean, since it's found in every place that had a port that shipped to, from, or through there. It's even in the Bible- the part about the soldiers dicing for Jesus' seamless garment. I always kind of thought that was a metaphor- that Mary was so badass she could sew something without seams, but it's actually dual point knitting.

Basically I am super happy to be a knitter.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Immortality can be yours....

For the low, low price of stinging the living daylights out of innocent beach goers.

That's right. There's an immortal species of jellyfish. How unfair is that? They don't even have brains. I mean, they do, but you know what I mean. It's not like they understand Shakespeare.

And they're not immortal like they'll come back if you cut them up, they're more like immortal until something kills them. But that's still really awesome.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Good Knitting Lunch

Knitting outside on lunch break:

Pros: The weather is nice, there's squirrels, male classmates tanning outside shirtless...

Cons: Bees are wayyy, wayyy too interested in knitting in a i-must-get-a-much-closer-look way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

(cursed) Amish (chain letter) Friendship Bread

Saturday afternoon I'm driving Fred back from dropping off his car for some work and he tells me someone at work gave him this secret Amish bread that you only know about if someone gives it to you and only the Amish know what it's made out of, and because all the batches go all the way back to the first Amish person who passed it off on someone who's not Amish they're all really the same loaf.

My response: what?

He tells me you get this letter telling you to do certain things on certain days to the 'starter' that comes with the chain letter (a Ziploc freezer bag of goop) and then on day ten you divide up the goop into other freezer bags and pass them on and bake bread with what remains.

And then he tells me since he's going away for a few days it's my job to deal with day ten.

The bread actually came out really good. It's got a lot of cinnamon in it, and it's soft and sweet, very good hot.

So, I get to the 'pay it forward' part of the process and one neighbor isn't home, another is psyched because she hasn't gotten this in years, and another...

The lady who lives diagonal to me, when she moved in, she tried to interview everyone on out street since her son was going to be living with her and she wants to make sure we're all safe or something. I missed that interview (like five years ago) and she's still a little shifty about me and my mom. So, I see her in her driveway and I'm like O HAI and do you like bread? and tell her the whole thing about this Amish Friendship Bread thing.

And she's like great! sounds good! sounds delicious! ..... do i have to do anything?

And I'm like Well, yes, you have to bake it.

And she says "oh, well, I don't want to do anything. If it was already done I'd take it."

Which makes me think of the Little Red Hen.

Like, what am I supposed to do? Bring her a cooked loaf of bread every ten days?

And then, in other news, semi-stolen from the kind of thing Not Always Right would post, I was at JoAnn's the other day trying to deal with a special order they had to cancel when the lady in front of me started hassling the cashier.

Cashier: *ringing up glue sticks*

Customer: Can't you just bulk ring those up? I'm in a hurry.

Cashier: They're all singles... Ok, they're done.

Customer: Can I use a coupon?

Cashier: If you like.

Customer: Can I use two coupons?

Cashier: If they're not the same, sure.

Customer: *hands over two of the same coupon*

Cashier: Um, these are the same.

Customer: No, they're not. I cut them out of two different newspapers.

Cashier: ...

Customer: Well? Are you going to take them?

Cashier: I can't take them both, they're the same.

And then once the lady is all rung up and paid and everything she just stands there pawing through her shopping bag, counting stuff and checking the receipt and doing math. WHILE BLOCKING THE LINE.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bourbon Street and Headstones

Probably it's the trip to the Marietta Cemetery for class this morning but I suddenly really want to reread Interview with the Vampire.

And maybe The Vampire Lestat. And Queen of the Damned. Man, those are some good books. The first time I read them was in the sixth grade and those three are still my favorites of the series. Good, long summer reading.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Your result for The House, MD Personality Test...

Dr. James Wilson

70% Eccentricity, 30% Confidence, 55% Kindness

Congratulations, you're Dr. James Wilson! You've got the tough role of being the conscience and best friend to Dr. Greg House, which proves that you must be secretly (or openly) insane. You're always a good person for providing advice, witty remarks, free lunches, lectures, and (wanted or unwanted) psychoanalysis. You are about as confident as the average person, but you have some big issues with yourself, and may have problems living up to the ideals you have in your head. You do really care about other people, though, even if you sometimes express that caring by trying to get into their pants.

Take The House, MD Personality Test
at HelloQuizzy