ambersweet: Hardcore knitters do it with DPNs. (Pink sock)
Dear Knit Picks,

Your products are universally lovely, I must admit, and the prices are generally unbeatable. I own quite a bit of your yarn, and none of it is in the mental list of stuff I'm getting rid of. I've given you lots of my money, though admittedly not nearly as much as some of the people in the "Flash Your Purchase" thread on Ravelry. Those people are nuts, even you have to admit this.

But I'm moving in approximately seven weeks, and I'm on a mandatory yarn diet. In fact, I'm not really allowed to buy anything right now.

So why must you be so mean to me?

I managed to stay strong and not buy yarn, even when you and Webs sent me catalogs ON THE SAME DAY.
I resisted the allure of the Interweave Press Hurt Book Sale, because I don't need to bring any more books into the house, since I'm just going to have to move them.

See how strong I'm being? You should be proud of me! You should acknowledge that I'm a good person and a wonderful knitter and I deserve rewards.

What I don't deserve are emails that say, "You know that book on your wish list? It's 40% off. And discontinued. So if you want it, you should buy it now!"



I will be over here, sobbing hopelessly into my stash.

No love (at the moment),
ambersweet: Hardcore knitters do it with DPNs. (Pink sock)
The Hermione Gloves are finished. And now I'm going to bed.
ambersweet: Enter the secret garden of my heart... (Open the gate)
Suddenly I've been really productive, which is good, because I'm running out of time between now and Christmas.

A lot of knitting. )

So a couple of you suggested, in response to my last post, that I should write a book. I don't know that I'm up to book level yet, but what I'm thinking about actually doing is starting a blog. In it, I would talk about emotional honesty, and healing the damage caused by bad relationships, and building healthy ones, and knitting (and crochet and spinning and weaving). Because for some reason, the crafting and the counseling are plied together in my thoughts - maybe because I came to them together, and maybe just because I needed one to work my way into and through the other. There's just something about knitting, the act of making something real, that just is satisfying in a soul-deep way. Like meditation, with yarn. And meditation brings all sorts of people to new realizations.

I don't pretend I have all the answers, but if I can use my experience to help a few people, well, that's what it's there for. Teaching, and sharing, so we can all grow together.

The name I'm considering (thanks to [personal profile] finch's suggestion) is Ripping Back, which both the knitting term for undoing rows of stitches to fix an error, and what you need to do to expose yourself in a way that honesty is possible. You have to rip back the shields, and the masks, and the facade that is the "cult of okay." So this will be a blog about admitting mistakes, working to fix them, and progressing from there, both in the emotional and the knitting sense.

What do you guys think? Would you follow me elsewhere?
ambersweet: Making it up as I go along. (Mature pink scarf)
Not necessarily in a bad way. I have ONE paper left, but it's the big one and it's due on Friday (rather than next Monday, like I thought.) This is something I can do, though.

I finally put a crocheted edge on the Seafoam Shawl and have declared it FINISHED. If she doesn't like it, I'll sell it on Etsy. I'm done with it. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and put them up. Hilariously, I didn't end up using the yarn I bought FOR THAT PURPOSE but something that was sitting in my stash. Clearly that means I get to use that yarn for Nefarious Projects.

Worked several more rows of the Argyle State scarf while roleplaying on Saturday night; my overall conclusion is that it's too brain-intensive to actually work on while I'm doing something else. I'll probably bring something pattern-light like Ribbed Sock #2 this week.

I also had the dreadful revelation that, as it IS December, I better get moving on my gift making. As such, I cast on a scarf using a ribbon yarn that I'm making for [personal profile] finch's mom. Unless the Rainbow Maiden decides to claim it. *facepalm*
ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
It's 10:49. I have a ten-minute presentation and a five-page paper due tomorrow at 1:30. I skipped my internship today so I could stay home and work on them. I haven't actually started either one. I'm struggling with a complete inability to focus, a total lack of inspiration, and I just wish the semester were over already. I hate this class, I could've taught this class better than the professor, I question virtually every decision she's made in teaching (including the books she selected), and I just have not words. The last thing I want to do is write a paper for her.

The thing that really upsets me is that we read a book, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, for my Women as Healers class. It's written by the first female Navajo surgeon, and I really wish I could write my paper about THAT, but we have to write about the absolute shit we had to read for the second half of the semester. Also (and I've had this problem in virtually every English class I've taken) I can't find supporting documentation about what I actually want to talk about. WHY DOES SOMEONE ELSE NEED TO HAVE HAD AN OPINION FIRST? MY OPINIONS ARE AWESOME.

Hate hate hate hate this.
ambersweet: Yellow crocheted project, in progress (Crochet)
Rather than trying to kill myself writing a novel on top of a full schedule of work, classes, and an internship, I decided to attempt posting every day during November. I actually did this! Well, more or less. I didn't manage to post every single day, but this is the 36th post for November 2010. I talked about knitting a lot, wrote some fic, ranted about stuff, and really had a lot of fun. It feels like a good habit to have, so I'm going to try and stick with it through December and into the new year.

Random knitting updates: I have a full pattern repeat completed on the Argyle State University scarf, and I'm a lot more comfortable with working the pattern, so it's going faster. Work on the Beer Gloves continues apace; I'm about to start in on the fingers. I was in class when I hit that point, and I didn't want to break out the book, so I cast on and worked about half an inch on Ribbed Sock #2. I don't remember if I mentioned this, but I bound off the Seafoam Shawl (again). I picked up this gorgeous silver yarn (Loops and Threads Dewdrops in the Onyx colorway) - it has sequins. I know, right? She wants fringe, and I'm also going to do a crochet edging along the top to make it a little bigger. A friend of ours had a baby, so I also had a minor crochet interruption to make a baby hat. It's going to look like a One Up mushroom when it's done (three spots to go); I'll post pictures.

I didn't get anything done over the weekend, which means I'm going to have to write a six-page paper and put together a ten-minute presentation between now and 1:30 Thursday. THIS WOULD BE EASIER IF I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE MY MIND WAS STUFFED WITH WOOL ROVING. And me without a spinning wheel. Not that I'd know how to use it if you handed it to me, but you know, the principle of the probably very incoherent thing. Anybody want to write a paper on Navajo storytelling styles or do a presentation on captivity narratives for me?

Yeah, me neither.

Also, this thing where I wake up ridiculously early on Tuesday morning is getting old. So not very excited about going to work in an hour.
ambersweet: Making it up as I go along. (Mature pink scarf)
Welcome to the world, little one. She buries the message in every stitch. The hat is a gift, not out of kindness for the new parents but for the child, welcome and apology at the same time: Welcome to the world, sorry we screwed it up so badly. It’s a new mother who tells you about her; you complained briefly about the unseasonable cold while you fixed her camera and you thought it was small talk until she gave you the solution. You’re still not sure why you’re following her directions, but you have a fleece someone traded a few months ago, and your hands have been pretty cold.

She prefers barter to coin, as most people do out here: a jar of honey, an hour’s maintenance on her battered Airstream trailer, a new story that comes to life under her ever-moving fingers. Everywhere you look is something she’s created, or something coming into being. The walls are covered with tapestries, all stories she’s been told. A new one is being born on the small loom in the corner; it’s waiting for the right color, she says, nodding at the spinning wheel. Her hook only stops moving when she’s actively doing something else; right now, she’s pulling a pair of gloves out of a drawer. “These are yours,” she says, and hands them to you. They are fingerless, burgundy wool, and they fit your hands as if they were made for them. The palms are butter-soft leather and you know without being told that it’s genuine. There’s a hat to match, and an argyle scarf worked in burgundy and gold that reminds you of home.

“Thank you,” you say, and she smiles at you.

“Come back any time,” she tells you, and, letting the door click shut behind you, you realize that she means it.
ambersweet: Making it up as I go along. (Mature pink scarf)
So I was staring at the Beer Gloves pattern on the train this morning, fucking around with the part I was confused about, when suddenly I had a blinding revelation and was able to proceed. Sometimes knitter shorthand is annoyingly vague.

I got through a complete repeat of the cable pattern, around to the next row that requires cabling, decided I didn't want to attempt to cable without a needle on the train, and therefore switched to the Seafoam Shawl (which I don't carry around much any more because it's too big and heavy) and did another row. Possibly two? I wasn't quite counting.

Fighting with the Argyle State scarf last night I discovered that I had the wrong number of stitches somehow, so I'm going to have to rip back and try again. "Ripping back" at this point involves frogging exactly two rows, so better now than later. But I have several rows of the pattern written out and I'm getting the hang of working with two balls of yarn at once, so I have high hopes for my ability to succeed on the second attempt.

As to why I hate Thanksgiving? You know the guy who decided that we needed to keep the shit that comes out of and off of the turkey INSIDE the turkey, so that some poor woman has to reach into the cold cavity and pull out the neck, then flip the damned thing over and pull out a squishy damp package of giblets? Yeah, he's the reason I hate Thanksgiving. They don't do this with chickens. They don't do it with spare ribs, either pork or beef; they don't do it with London broil or lamb chops or ANYFUCKINGTHING ELSE. WHY must holiday festivities be preceded with "Step 1: molest a turkey?" Why can't they package this shit OUTSIDE the turkey for the handful of weirdos who see it as something other than garbage? These organs are dead, gentlemen: I DO NOT WANT THEM. Send them to Recycling.

In other news: this is the weirdest thing I've seen all day. Weirder than this and much weirder than this. (That last one? Involves Colin Firth as a sex kraken. And Eames with a tuba. I have no idea.) I saw all three of those images in rapid succession, starting with the tuba.
ambersweet: Ramona with hammer (Ramona - banhammer)
Also because I don't have an angry feminist icon, for some reason.

Tonight I'm taking a break from the brain-intensive beer gloves and casting on the Gryffindor Argyle State University scarf, now that I've found a proper gold yarn. It's double-knitting and colorwork, two things I've not done before, plus it's a pattern I thought was cool, so I'm kind of excited by it.

This evening's Women as Healers class involved talking about the mpreg story I wrote my paper on. The story in question is a "in the near future" feminist science fiction piece in which there exists the technology to remove a woman's uterus, place it in an artificial pouch, and connect it to someone else via a conduit implanted in the navel. It's a semi-surrogacy situation, without the legal messiness, because the uterus and eggs don't belong to the host and obviously aren't actually inside her. The sidebar has marketing materials, newspaper articles, and excerpts from a scholarly paper all using a rhetoric of pregnancy as a messy, dirty burden that the "busy professional woman" can escape from by having a poor woman of color someone else to do the work for her. In fact, the host who is interviewed is a woman (from El Salvador, I believe) who wanted more children but had to be sterilized in order to keep her green card, and so this is the closest she can get to actual pregnancy. The "main" part of the story is a man, a scientist, who takes his wife's uterus in order to have a son after the illness and death of their daughter. The wife, incidentally, isn't interested in having another child, and I got the impression that she gave up her uterus because she was tired of arguing with him about it, but Howard convinces himself that there will be a Magical Point at which she will become interested in the baby and then all will be well.

Most of our discussion was focused on the reversal of gender roles, and the way that Howard (and his privilege) processes pregnancy and others' reactions to it, using simultaneously the Mansplanation "I, a man have experienced this thing, so now it is valid" approach (did you know that morning sickness was not something in our heads, ladies? it's REAL! because Man Howard has experienced it!) and the rhetoric of "I am special! because I are a PIONEER! and if you discriminate against me it must be because I am a MAN HAVING A BABY and that makes YOU uncomfortable!" Also I understand racial oppression because my ancestors are Irish. (Yes, Howard seriously reminds me of Privilege Denying Dude. Google it, it will make your morning.)

Speaking of Privilege Denying Dude, I have a particular classmate (Poli Sci major, Women's Studies Minor) who is gay and Asian, and acts like no one in the world could possibly be more oppressed/stereotyped/racialized than him. He's loudmouthed in a particularly obnoxious way, and several members of the class (including me) get into arguments with him virtually every week because of it. Tonight's Privilege Demonstration was regarding Man Howard's attitude toward parental leave (which he turned into an argument about how it was DISCRIMINATION, REALLY, and if he were adopting a child and he got discriminated against, he would throw a fit. Which, I actually had to turn to a human being in real life, face-to-face discourse, and say, "It's not about you. Stop making it about you."

One of my classmates, a fellow knitter who's usually a little more aware than this, opined that she didn't understand why Dorothy (the wife) and Rosa (the sidebar host) were getting so much sympathy, because they both CHOSE to do these things. (Obviously she's never been in a relationship where it was easier to give in than to argue, even if you really didn't want to do something, because your partner was so gung-ho about it they weren't hearing you when you said no.) The professor pointed out that criticizing Rosa was operating from a position of white privilege, because framing her decision to be sterilized to keep her green card as a choice was problematic. (She did concede the point after I re-emphasized that Rosa wanted more children but chose sterilization rather than deportation; obviously returning to her home country was something she desperately didn't want.) So Privilege Denying Classmate stands up for her against the professor, saying that Knitting Classmate can't be experiencing privilege because she's a lesbian, and her oppressed state as a lesbian basically outranks her privileged state as a white person. I could not possibly be making this up. And then, not ten minutes later, he gets into an argument with another classmate about how she shouldn't treat intersectional oppression like a hierarchy. Because it's only valid when he does it, obviously.

He wasn't in class last week. It was so nice and quiet and civilized.

On the other hand, tag-team jumping him for being wrong is kind of fun.


Nov. 22nd, 2010 09:30 pm
ambersweet: Hardcore knitters do it with DPNs. (Pink sock)
I just cabled without a cable needle. This is sort of like tightrope without a net, except that the only thing that will fall are stitches. SALVAGING DROPPED STITCHES IS NO FUN. However, I WAS SUCCESSFUL!

I was told it was exhilerating.

It's very true.
ambersweet: Ramona Flowers with blue hair drinking coffee (Ramona - coffee (blue))
At least I hope not, because I certainly don't have one. Except that I'm going to talk about knitting, because what else do I talk about ever.

Working on the Beer Gloves, and having some problems with the sizing, so I went poking around until I found someone else who had already resized them and I'm starting the second cuff with her adjustments in mind. If I like how it turns out, I'll rip out the first cuff and redo it; if I don't, I'll figure something else out. Knitting! It is a giant game of trying to figure it out as I go. I'm not thrilled with the way the pattern is written, and I'm thinking about writing it out in the way that I wish it were written. But I am lazy, so I might just make notes directly in the book. We shall see. If nothing else, the chart for the palm is driving me insane and I'm not sure I like how it looks finished (based on pictures I've seen), so I may get rid of that section anyway, or alter it a little. ([personal profile] crankyoldman, are you in love with the textured palm?)

Did some thrifting today, but didn't really find anything cool. Took a stack of books and miscellaneous stuff down to Bookman's and picked up the first and third book in Holly Black's faerie trilogy; I really liked the second, Tithe. Normally I don't read out of order but apparently the first one is mostly unrelated? (At least [personal profile] nepenthe told me so. If this is not true I blame her. XD)

We also went to two different yarn stores looking for the yarn for my boss's scarf; The Fiber Factory had Cascade 220 in a gold that I liked (California Poppy), but they only had one skein of burgundy, so we went up to Tempe Yarn & Fiber. They ALSO only had one skein of burgundy! So I ended up getting that skein and then trekking back to TFF to pick up the other. They're different dye lots, but Fred at TYF assured me that Cascade's dye lots were very consistent, and they look the same to me. So it's all good. I also picked up a darning egg, so I can darn [personal profile] finch's favorite socks, so he will no longer be heartbroken.

Afterwards, we went to a very nice coffee shop for some quality NaNo write-in time for [personal profile] finch and some quality homework-and-yarn-balling time for me. This week on Women and Crime: more reasons for me to hate the justice system! This time, it's inadequate health care, and how mandatory drug sentencing hurts children. I'm normally not into the Think of the Children!!! arguments, but when you have a non-violent first-time offender serving fifteen years for smuggling drugs for somebody else, and she has a toddler when she goes to jail? The person who's going to be suffering the most will be that totally innocent child, who cannot possibly understand why her mommy won't be coming home again.

As I certainly can't do anything about the inadequacies of the justice system tonight, I'm going back to knitting. The Beer Gloves, I can help.
ambersweet: Hardcore knitters do it with DPNs. (Pink sock)
As I said, my Knit Picks package arrived, and the yarn is beautiful, and I've started on [personal profile] crankyoldman's Beer Gloves. I'm using the Magic Loop technique for the first time, which is a lot less confusing than it seemed to be before. Time will tell whether I'm going to stick with it or go back to double-pointed needles. I am one of those strange people who doesn't have a problem working with DPNs, probably because I'm an insanely tight knitter. Anyway, I had a couple of false starts - the first start cast on beautifully, but I used the number called for in the pattern, and I did a couple of rows and went, "That is WAY too big," so I cut ten stitches, which was an odd number when divided in half (that doesn't work well when you're doing a 2X2 rib), so I dropped two more and then proceeded to use the tail for the working yarn for the first row, so I had to pull it all out anyway and then decided that was too small, so I added four back. I've done a round and it looks good, so I'm going to keep going and try it on again in a couple of rounds to make sure it works. Fortunately Cendri and I have similar sized hands (tiny, with long fingers), so as long as they fit me, they should be fine on her.

The most challenging part of this pattern is going to be adjusting it from Man Size to Tiny-Handed Lady size, I think. I've got a couple of inches of ribbing to do before I have to worry about if or whether I'm going to adjust the cable size.

The other exciting knitting-related event was my boss picking the pattern he wants for the scarf he's commissioning from me, and giving me the materials down payment. Amusingly, it's another pattern from the book that the Beer Gloves comes from - an Uncle Argyle Scarf from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch. It's a great pattern book in general, a mix of knit and crochet projects for male recipients. I have several patterns in the book tagged to make for [personal profile] finch, and the Uncle Argyle Scarf was one that I loved that he didn't. So I'm excited for the opportunity to make it, and my boss seems to have a genuine appreciation for handknits that you don't usually see in a) non-crafters and b) men.

So, on the agenda for this weekend is a trip to at least one LYS (Local Yarn Store) to see if I can find some Cascade 220 in Gryffindor my college's colors. My life, it is so difficult.
ambersweet: Kadaj smiles because he has no idea what's going on. (Kadaj has no idea.)
I finished the first Ribbed Sock and I'm now going back and forth debating whether to immediately cast on the second, or finish the damned Seafoam Shawl. After I finished the sock, I got three more rows done on the shawl. I really just need to be working on a project that doesn't feel like the most tedious thing ever. My Knitpicks order should be here tomorrow! So I can get started on that. Except that they'll probably leave the box at the office and I won't be home until after the office closes, so I'll actually have to wait until Thursday. THURSDAY CANNOT BE HERE SOON ENOUGH.

I'm in a weird mental state right now; I'm writing a paper for my Women as Healers class, and I'm still in the transition stage between reading the source material I'm going to talk about and the beginning of the actual writing process. This apparently means that I'm profoundly dissatisfied with every sentence I produce, because I've written this paragraph three times and it still feels awkward. Like I shouldn't be talking about a paper I haven't started? I'm not sure. But the paper is (going to be) about the medicalization of childbirth through the lens of a nurse-midwife's memoir and a science fiction short story about mpreg. (My degree requires reading the weirdest things!) Pregnancy is a very gendered thing, even when it's not.

Thinking about this story makes me wish I had enough time to re-read Ethan of Athos and add in commentary about pregnancy in the Vorkosiverse. Maybe I will do that on the train tomorrow; I'm pretty sure I have it on my ereader (which I cleverly failed to bring to work with me). Science fiction and pregnancy! A fascinating topic.

Poking around, I just found an article on Junior, and now I'm thinking about writing my paper about mpreg. I love this class.
ambersweet: Collage is a joy. (No, not college. Collage.) (Fashion Kitty)
Technically I guess it's Tuesday now, but my philosophy has always been that it's still the same day if I haven't been to bed yet. Otherwise work would seriously screw me up.

We had a good and productive weekend. It was Second Friday, which meant it was Mesa's art walk. We kept running into people we knew, and met the adorable boyfriend of our adorable gay friend, along with another friend of his who LARPs, so [personal profile] finch has a lead on getting back into gaming. The three of them had a briefly impassioned discussion about picking a system for running some sort of game, and whether River from Firefly should be a Slayer, while the boyfriend and I talked about Settlers of Catan and knitting. Everywhere I go these days, I end up talking about knitting; I don't even know what it is.

While we were down there, we discovered a new vintage/thrift/resale type shop, and so we headed back over there on Saturday to check it out. It turned out to be incredibly awesome, and very inexpensive - if an individual article of clothing isn't marked, it costs $2.99/lb. [personal profile] finch ended up scoring a couple of shirts, I got a gorgeous cabled sweater that I'm madly in love with. It's a lettuce-green, cotton/angora blend with a strand of shiny thread plied through the yarn, so it sort of glimmers, and once I get a couple of sweaters under my belt I'm going to try and figure out what the pattern is so I can make another one in a different color. It looks like the least boring sweater to knit in the history of knitted sweaters. There are cables on the sleeves, and the back is totally 2X2 ribbing; the only plain stockinette in sight is the 3/4 of the sleeves that don't have the cables. Plus, gorgeous. I also scored a pretty black Torrid pencil skirt with cherry blossoms on it in red, which was doubly exciting because usually when I find Torrid stuff it's way too big for me. Plus it's a size smaller than what I usually buy, which, when added to the fact that my jeans are loose enough for me to take off without bothering to unfasten them first, does suggest that I've lost weight somewhere.

The most amazing find, though, was a tea set in Zydrate blue. Four cups and saucers and a teapot, ceramic but all in a shiny metallic finish (it totally looks like Z, guys). I HAD TO HAVE IT. The owner almost didn't want to sell it to us because she loved it too. I probably shouldn't have bought it, but it was $15 and I will never see its like again. Also Jack spoils me like a spoiled thing that is spoiled.

The only reason we had any money at all was because we sold Edward the Wardrobe, because I was tired of it watching me while I slept the ex gave us another Expedit and I cleaned out my closet so Jack can actually fit his clothes in there, so everything that was in it got moved to somewhere else.

Edward the Wardrobe came from Ikea, and we bought it as a temporary piece of furniture when we moved into this apartment, because we just didn't have enough closet space. Ikea called it the Kullen. (Dead. Serious.) So, this hulking Kullen that lived in our bedroom got dubbed Edward before he even got assembled. But I'm totally Team Jacob now, so Edward had to go. In the meantime, we've both done quite a bit of decluttering and rearranging, so we really didn't need him any more. Jack put him up on Craigslist, and he went to his new home on Saturday. This is also how I got my Addi Turbo because, like I said, Jack spoils me.

We also made a brief appearance at the NaNo midway party, which was pretty much a dud as a party but was loud and distracting enough that I didn't really get any work done.

Sunday was the Light Rail Write-In, during which I tried out my Addis and got 9 30" rows knitted on the shawl. I worked most of Sunday afternoon and evening, and it was busy enough that the only thing I got done was homework, but today after class I got the last couple of inches on the Ribbed Sock and started decreasing for the toe. I am ALMOST done with the first sock, which is good, because the order I placed with Knitpicks is IN PHOENIX and should be delivered by Wednesday.

Okay, I should really go to bed now, and at least make an effort to get some actual reading done for tomorrow night's class.
ambersweet: Purple knitted scarf, in progress (Knitting)
If I have learned anything from listening to knitting podcasts, it should have been that when you try to knit for a non-crafter it becomes a much more massive undertaking than it should have any right to be. Non-crafters don't understand how difficult things are, so they don't realize when they're asking for something irritating or impossible.

I mentioned previously that someone essentially offered to buy the Seafoam Shawl as soon as I was finished with it. At the time, it was about kerchief size. Now, understand, the pattern for this project came out of a book called One-Skein Wonders. I expected it to take one skein. Granted, I figured out that the yarn was a bit bulkier than the pattern called for, and so it was knitting up denser (and thus making less fabric). I ended up buying a 24" cable needle (because it was the longest needle in that size that JoAnn's had). So, fine, I used 3 skeins on it, knitted until it was longer than my cable needle, fit comfortably over my shoulders. It was a small shawl, but undeniably a shawl. Also I was bored with it. So I bound off, as I mentioned, and took it back to the prospective owner on Friday.

After waiting for her for 45 minutes, she says to me, "Oh, it's lovely, I definitely want it when it's done." I look at her, I look at the shawl. No needles in sight, ends all neatly woven in, very obviously (to me, at least), a finished object.

"It's done," I told her.

She wants it bigger.

So I ended up having to buy a longer cable needle, and because [personal profile] finch loves me, he bought me a 40" #9 Addi Turbo. Addi cable needles are widely accepted as the finest needles on the market. They have the most flexible cable, the smoothest joins, the highest quality needles. Plus, the coating on the Turbos make them the most friction-free needles available - which means they're really damned fast.

Technical babbling about knitting )
ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
It’s Friday, so I’m at my internship, which is a non-profit organization that, among other things, contracts with the state government to perform certain tasks. The staff accountant sits next to me, so I overhear quite a lot. She’s really the go-to person to solve problems around here, particularly complicated ones, and I think in part it’s because she’s forceful enough to confront people when it needs to happen, and to point out (often energetically) when something IS a problem that needs to be addressed, yes, in fact, that’s totally wrong and get that taken care of right now. Women are socialized to not make waves, and in an office of mostly women, women in social services, people are willing to let things go even when they shouldn’t.

That’s sort of part of what I’m talking about, but it’s mostly context.

This morning there’s some sort of intradepartmental politics going on, and Accountant D. is at the center of it, identifying the problem, getting an explanation, explaining it to the unit manager (my BossBoss). I don’t know if that’s related to this thing that happened next, but I leave the room and come back about five minutes later, am working again, and Volunteer Coordinator B. comes in and asks D. if she’s okay. She says she’s called her doctor, and she’s going to call her right back. A few minutes later, D’s cell phone rings, and I assume it’s her doctor, because she grabs the phone and her keys and leaves the room. As she’s leaving, I hear her – clearly in tears or just out of them – say, “Oh, I’m – okay.”


Also, you’re on the phone with your DOCTOR, who really needs to know if you’re not okay, whether they’re a physical or mental health provider, especially if you called them about the problem you’re having right now.

So I really got to thinking about the culture of “okay,” where you’re expected to answer positively to any inquiry after your state of being, even if you’re not. Maybe especially if you’re not. You’re also supposed to answer on the neutral side of positive; it’s bad form somehow to respond, “FANTASTIC!” to “How are you?” even if you are. This is why I called this the culture of “okay” rather than the culture of “good.” “Good” is still a neutral-positive response; we all have our automatic returns to that query, but it baselines to about the same area. How are you? Oh, I’m good. I’m well. I’m okay. Not so bad. Could be better. Comme-ci, comme-ca. So-so. Operating within acceptable parameters. Whatever.

I realize that “How are you” is a kind of generic small talk, along the lines of, “Sure is hot, isn’t it?” – the kind of thing you the checker asks you at the grocery store. A service employee (probably) doesn’t care how you are; they’re just making small talk while you’re standing in front of them. A customer likes to feel like you care about them even if you don’t. Really, not only does the checker doesn’t care how you are, it’s really none of their business, so a neutral-positive response is okay to give. Actually I like to tell service employees that I’m doing great, because they usually smile. It’s nice to hear someone give a non-standard response to anything, really.

But when you’re talking to a friend, or someone whose job it is TO care for or about you, and you still give that neutral-positive response when the answer is ANYTHING else – in either direction – you’re doing a disservice to both of you.

I could talk about the semi-competitive nature of casual friendship, (especially among the female-socialized; there’s a reason the word “frenemy” has to exist and it isn’t a good one) where a super-positive response might trigger jealousy or anger on the part of the friend – but if you’re worried that someone is going to be upset because you’re doing well, or had a good thing happen to you, even if their life is NOT going well – then they’re not really a friend. Or maybe you need to work on your communication, or (and!) they need to work on their emotional responses. In the polyamory community, they call it “compersion,” the ability to find happiness in someone else’s happiness. I am happy for you. The fact that you are doing well makes me genuinely happier. I wish I were doing as well, but I can at least take pleasure in the fact that someone I have a caring relationship with is happy.

What I’m challenging you to do, and what I want to do as well, is increase the number of people in your life that you answer that question honestly with. Eventually create a circle of friends where emotional honesty is actually not only valued but expected.

More about what this means and what I want to accomplish. )
ambersweet: Making it up as I go along. (Mature pink scarf)
I'm sure you're all bored by now.

Just as a reminder, I'm still taking commissions. They don't even need to be remotely geeky; I'm making some fantastic fingerless gloves for [personal profile] crankyoldman, who is totally my favorite person in the world today. (Sorry, [personal profile] finch. She bought me yarn.)

If you would like to become my favorite person in the world, plus score yourself some lovely handmade items for totally keeping for yourself gift-giving purposes, follow that link above, drop me a note, proceed to party.

Someone asked if they could provide me with materials, and the answer is yes! In that case, it would be 1.5 times the cost of materials. (If you can't remember how much you paid for the yarn, I can hunt it up and tell you what the going price is. If it's discontinued, we'll find something similar for pricing purposes.) (If you got it discontinued at Big Lots for $1/skein, we'll talk. I might use the words "fair market value.")

I'm excited because I'm about to do the last row and bind off the Seafoam Shawl. This was a stashbuster project that resulted from buying some of that aforementioned discounted-at-Big-Lots yarn, a Lion Brand mohair/novelty blend that is pretty to look at and kind of a pain to work with. I understand why they discontinued it. However, it was my first opportunity to work with mohair, so I snapped it up. (I admit that I bought it before I'd been knitting for very long and I also didn't know any better. Live and learn, produce a shawl, move on.) So later on this week, I get to find out whether the woman who wanted to buy it was actually serious about it. (I hope so; otherwise I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.) With this project, I learned some things about breaking the rules of the pattern and ignoring gauge - the pattern called for a worsted weight, and I used a bulky, plus my number of stitches per inch were half again as many as the pattern called for. I went with it anyway because first, a shawl isn't a fitted object; and second, I liked the results I was getting. The original Seafoam Shawl is an open, lacy pattern, and what I produced was a warm, dense fabric that drapes beautifully. I may be repeating myself. Anyway.

I'm also making good progress on my ribbed sock. The yarn is a fingering-weight superwash wool, and it's not spun terribly evenly. It's not difficult to work with, exactly, but the more tightly spun sections are a little more uncomfortable to slide over my finger. I like the fluffy sections more. It's even enough that you can't really tell by looking at it and [personal profile] finch will love it anyway.

I should be working on my icon scarf, but I'm not.

I'm ready to start some new projects!
ambersweet: Ramona's purse (Ramona - side shot)
[personal profile] finch being out of work for three weeks hurt us a lot, to be perfectly frank. We got some help from his parents, which kept it from being fatal, but we're still struggling to catch up, plus we have to pay them back. I'm working two jobs, but only one pays, and that one not much. (One of these days I'll write up my rant about the classism inherent in unpaid internships. This is not that day.)

However, what I can do is knit and crochet, which is something... not a lot of people do? I guess? I'm thinking about turning semi-professional, but I need to try it out a little first.

That's where you guys (and your respective networks) come in.

Is there a handmade project you've always wanted? (Say, a Jayne Cobb hat from Firefly or your VERY OWN Evil Wil Wheaton amigurumi? Sleeves for your Rinoa cosplay? A bacon scarf? A house scarf in Hufflepuff colors?) Do you need an awesome hat, mittens, or scarf for the impending SUPER COLD SEASON? Is your office cold enough to hang meat in, so a pair of fingerless gloves is all that's standing between you and frostbite? Do you need a gift for a family member or friend?

I'm taking commissions. I'll be charging approximately 2.5 times the cost of yarn, which means that it can really be as expensive or as cheap as you want. On the other hand, small projects like hats will use up a single skein (or maybe two) of yarn, so it's a good way to splurge on a nice luxury fiber without breaking the bank.

While my Ravelry page has everything I've done on it, you can only get there if you have your own Ravelry account. I do have a Picasa album that has a bunch of finished projects up, for your inspiration or motivation or to see that yes, I can produce finished objects.

If you want your project by Christmas, it should be either small or crocheted! (Or both!) I am a VERY fast crocheter.

One thing I'm really hesitant to do is sweaters, just because I've never made one before, so I don't want to subject someone else to my learning curve, but if you have something in mind and you don't care if it takes me a while to figure it out, we can talk.

I've noticed, since I've started knitting, that there are awesome (geeky) knit objects EVERYWHERE. I mentioned Jayne and Harry Potter, but did you notice the beautiful fingerless gloves Ramona's wearing in my icon? Penny has a beautiful pair in Dr. Horrible, and the Twilight films are FULL of beautiful knit items.

So, yeah! Drop me a note, feel free to pass this around (please?) to people you know!
ambersweet: (Default)
Well, I don't promise anything actually clever. I had a post in mind until I got to talking about ereaders with my co-worker, and then the time just flew.

I went to a grad school fair with [personal profile] finch today, and we toted home a million tons of useful information, approximately 4,000 pens, and a bunch of random stuff (including a spine, a brain, and a syringe). Grad school swag = FTW. Unsurprisingly, the med schools had the best swag. Not that we're looking at med schools, either of us, but I'm not going to turn down fancy pens or a cleaning cloth for my glasses.

Now begins the delightful process of figuring out what the best fit for us is.

We require a school in a reasonable part of the country (i.e., nowhere with a lot of snow; please keep in mind that I've lived most of my life in Arizona, so for me "a lot" is "more than none") that has a decent program for both of us. I'm looking at counseling or social work, leaning toward the former; he's looking at... something probably nonprofit. He hasn't quite worked it out yet. I've managed to escape deciding what it is I want to be when I grow up thus far, and I sort of feel like grad school is the point where I actually have to make that decision.

After we'd walked around the fair, he went back to get a squishy brain (because how do you turn that down) and noticed that gals at two adjoining tables were both knitting. He dragged me over and we had a fantastic time talking about knitting and showing off our projects on Ravelry (one of them had an iPad). I also taught her how to search Ravelry for patterns and techniques, and encouraged her to try cabling. It was fantastic.

And then [personal profile] finch and I ended up in a side room talking about law school with a woman who looked like she stepped out of a Japanese fashion magazine. She had the most amazing brocade suitcoat; I wanted to hit her over the head and steal her clothes except that she was tiny so they would never have fit me. I should have stolen them and sent them to [personal profile] crankyoldman.

All in all, it was a very productive day. Unfortunately, my own university was largely unrepresented at the fair, because they're having an ASU-only grad school fair TOMORROW, when neither of us can make it. Fail.

April 2013

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