Monday, June 28, 2010

What?!? Me Worry?

Shit My Friend Charles Says
A friend of ours has some great expressions, and I have no idea whether they're his or not...I doubt he does either.

One of my faves, is "Don't worry about anything money can fix."

I have always said that money does not buy fact I bet if there were some way of quantifying happiness, that there would be more unhappy rich people than unhappy poor people.

However, I can say that not having money can also cause an enormous amount of stress. If someone is living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes has to worry where the rent/mortgage money is going to come from, or whether they can afford to pay for their kid's allergy medications, it can't make for an easy life.

I just heard that next year in the U.S., Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts can not be used to pay for over-the-counter medications (unless you have a prescription from your doctor for it). What kind of bullshit is that? Just another way to make it more difficult or impossible for folks to keep up.

I always love how many ways there are to increase taxes without being labeled as a politician that "increased taxes."

Current Knitting
I ended up finishing the back of the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover this past weekend, and started the front section.

I noticed there is quite a difference in color in one of the skeins used on the back, but I'm going to completely ignore it and call it a design element based on the kettle dyeing techniques.

I also felt I must start the scarf in the latest issue of Spin-off Magazine.

I'm using what I think is handspun from probably Black Bunny Fiber roving...but honestly, I'd have to look back in my blog posts to figure it out. The picture shows two pattern repeats, and I'm liking it a lot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shopping Spree!

Due to a number of different circumstances, I have found myself supplementing my fiber stash over the last few weeks.

Retreat Vendors and Seattle Friends
As one of the coordinators of the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, there are quite a few fiber-related vendors who send items as door-prizes or give-aways to the guys. (Here's a list of them if you'd like to support them).

The good part about this, is that the guys get awesome swag when they come to the retreat. The bad part is that I exclude myself from being able to win prizes, so I can only look with envy at the lovely yarn, books and roving that come to my home.

Well, perhaps a bit more than look.

I can certainly order from these vendors...right?

If that wasn't enough incentive, friend Brian took me to a yarn store favorite of his while I was in Seattle last week, and I supplemented the stash there too.

Here are some of my recent purchases:

Knitivity Order
Ray at Knitivity was very generous to the retreaters. In addition to other yarn, he sent a "Pride Yarn Pack" in rainbow colors. I loved the idea and had to order one for myself.

In addition, since I wanted to make sure I had a full box for postal efficiency, I ordered some of his custom dyed wool in "Dark Roast Espresso" colorway. I LOVE this yarn.

Puff The Magic Rabbit Order
Mindy (of Puff the Magic Rabbit) sends some of here goat fluff each year, and when she posted on Facebook some pictures of roving she had recently dyed, I knew it was the time to pounce. I got this amazing roving from Mindy.

I loved it so much, I had to start spinning it right away, and it spins like a dream.

Unfortunately, I had to stall a bit on the spinning because someone decided Mindy's roving made a comfortable napping spot.

Weaving Works Order
I met up with Brian, one of the coordinators for last year's west coast men's knitting retreat while I was in Seattle. In addition to having some great Thai food, he also took me to a wonderful yarn store (Weaving Works...but it's definitely not just for weavers!)not far from where I'm staying.

I ended up getting some Rowan Felted Tweed in a muted blue/gray...the color is incredibly rich and will make a fantastic sweater.

I also bought some Manos silk yarn...I couldn't resist this green color yarn and thought the complementary color was perfect...for something...not sure what.

Finally, I bought the third "Simply Knit 3" book from Unicorn books. Like the first two, this one has a lot of Carol Lapin's designs, which I have always loved.

Current Knitting
I continue to make incremental progress on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover and I've decided on a sleeve treatment (even though I haven't gotten to that point just yet.

I'm thinking about doing a single band of the twisted stitches up the center of the sleeve, and extending that into the shoulder up to the collar.

Not sure if it will work, but I'll try. I'll post a progress picture in my next blog post.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nothing More Satisfying...

...than taking the time to hand wind a nice, neat center-pull ball.

Knitting is NOT Meditative For Me
When folks ask if I knit to relax, I have to admit, I'm usually pressuring myself to make it to the next round of the stitch pattern I'm on so that I have some knit content about which to blog.

I'm more of a competitive knitter than a meditative, relaxed knitter.

And when I take the time to hand wind a ball of yarn, for me, the ball has to be nice looking and uniform, similar to what my plastic ball-winder can do.

I guess for me, the magic of knitting and anything hand-made that I find satisfying, is the fact that I can take raw ingredients, and mix them into something that can sometimes be amazing. I mean, just the simple fact that I have the ability to create fabric from yarn is rather awesome.

Current Knitting
More slow going on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover.

I've finally made it up to the arm-hole shaping, so the remainder of the back should move along a bit more quickly. Plus, I've gotten the left-slanting twisted stitch down a bit more easily (by doing a slightly looser purl on the wrong side of the row).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carl writes, "So did I miss a fabulous MSKR? From the blogposts and facebook messages I've seen so far, it sounds like it was wonderful. Hopefully I can be back next year."

Like comparing the second one to the first one, it was very different, with a very new and eclectic group of guys, but yes, it was completely fabulous. It doesn't seem to matter what we do or who's there, but we have a magical time...this year was no exception, but it definitely wasn't the same without you. Hope your reason for missing it was fantastic...from all accounts, it sounds like it was....congratulations.

Thanks also to all the folks that commented on my last post...I got a lot out of your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Work Is What I Do

A number of years ago, I remember driving home from work and having unhealthy and obsessive worries about my job.

I Used To Be My Job
At the time, I didn't realize it, but I thought I was my job in many ways. While there were other things I did in my life...I was in a relationship, I was a homeowner, I was a knitter, etc., none of them took on the role of solely defining who I was like my job.

If I did well in my job, all was great, but if things weren't going so well, I was a failure. And there was about a year in my life where I felt like a terrible failure for that very reason.

I started by coming up with techniques that would alleviate the symptom of feeling like a failure...for instance, there was a bridge on my way home right near my house, and each night I would cross that bridge, I would leave all my work-related worries on the other side, pick them up on the way back to work. While this helped some, it didn't solve the problem, which was that I placed my entire self-worth on something outside myself.

A few things got me to the place where I could see myself as worthy and and even accomplished, with work only being a factor.

Primarily, it was the fact that I couldn't sustain such a painful premise in my life that forced me to change. As my job got more and more critical of me, even thought I knew their critiques were inaccurate and done for reasons other than my performance, I continued to trust myself less and think I was more and more worthless. Once I realized I couldn't live like that much longer, I forced myself to start looking at other things that made me who I was.

One of those was obviously knitting. I was becoming a talented and knowledgeable knitter. I also participated in some co-dependency help groups that started to let me see that work was only one aspect of who I was, and often, not the overriding one. Finally, when I found a job in consulting where clients seemed to always want my skill set, I realized that work and my skills for my job were just one factor in a very amazing set of factors that made me who I am.

Suffice it to say, I'm glad to be me today.

Current Knitting
The flight out to Seattle this week gave me time to get some knitting done on my current Malabrigo Silky Merion pullover.

This is about 10 or 11 inches from hem to needle at the moment to give you a sense of scale.  The pattern is starting to emerge nicely, and as the piece grows, the vibrancy of the purple is starting to be absorbed in the size of the piece. I'm thinking that I'll switch to a different pattern stitch completely for the chest/yoke of the sweater...we'll see as it develops.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Alice writes, "Thank you for stating that you had ripped out several times in order to establish the pattern."

I used to avoid ripping out at all costs, thinking that it was such a waste of knitting to rip out something that wasn't as good as I hoped...when, of course, it's just the's a waste of knitting if you don't rip out and hate the results. I have no problem ripping out something that isn't turning out as well as I had hoped.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Giddy With Delight

Is it just me, or does this mini-swatch make you deliriously happy to look at?

I LOVE Green
I blame knitting-friend Kathy Merrick and Kaffe Fasset for my passion for sharp, acidy greens, and I think the swatch above is a perfect combination of the shades of green I find incredibly appealing.

The yarn is Cliffs of Insanity MCN Worsted weight yarn (80% merino / 10% cashmere / 10% nylon) by Indigo Dragonfly, and while I could find no available yarns on her site in this colorway (actually, she's Canadian, so it's colourway), I did request some of the MCN sport yarn in a different colourway.

Her dyeing is quite amazing and her choice of fibers is really wonderful.

Current Knitting
Despite waiting in airports, and flying to the West Coast again, I haven't made a lot of progress on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover.

I've had to rip this one out a number of times, and I think if I have to rip it out again, the yarn may not survive.

But fortunately, I think I've established a stitch pattern that I like a lot.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Seanna Lee writes, "I love Seven Yaks. It is wear I bought those sock blockers (though presumably mine are smaller). I had forgotten that there are other things there! "

It's one of the many pleasures of coordinating the men's knitting retreat each year...I get exposed to amazing little fiber businesses that I might never have known about, like Seven Yaks and Indigo Dragonfly.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Wonderful Skies

In my business, you get tired of hearing about how awful it is to travel post-9/11 and you can always get a frequent traveler who can beat your best "awful flying story" with one of their own.

I Must Be The Lucky Flier!
I really have very few awful flying stories...however if waterboarded for anything over 3 seconds, I could easily come up with a lie about some.

However, I can think of at least 3 times when my flying life was completely charmed.
1. A few years back, Thaddeus and I were vacationing in Cancun with a friend of ours. We had booked the same flight down to Cancun as she did, but the non-stop back to Philadelphia was too expensive for her, so she booked a flight going through Charlotte on her way home, but scheduled it to arrive in Philadelphia at the same time as our flight. When bad weather in Charlotte threatened her chances of making it home, I was able to not only have her rescheduled on our flight at no extra charge, but I was also able to use a companion upgrade coupon to get her upgraded to first class.

2. Last week, I was slated to fly home from Seattle with a stop in Phoenix. At boarding time there was a maintenance issue on our plane, and they eventually canceled the Phoenix leg of my flight. In calling my travel department, they were able to book me on a non-stop flight later the same evening going directly to Philadelphia...a flight I didn't even know existed and I would have much rather been on anyway. I just changed all my future flights home from Seattle to that flight (and it's cheaper than the 1-stop flight through Phoenix).

3. Finally today, I boarded a jammed Monday morning flight to Seattle (with only 2 empty seats on the whole plane)...Not only was one of those seats the center seat next to me, but the man on the aisle and I started talking about my knitting, and it turns out he had just spent some time with two of the guys at the retreat center where we hold the Men's Knitting Retreat, who are also knitters (and attend the retreat). The man was fascinating and the 5 hour flight...well, flew by.
So if you need a positive flying experience, come fly with me.

Current Knitting
I finished up the pair of Newland socks for Thaddeus and they came out extremely well.

The sock blockers, I just recently purchased from Seven Yaks, along with some other awesome items...

...this is a site I will be stalking regularly to find anything new and interesting she comes up with. Two of the balls of roving in the bad photo above are some of the nicest/softest feeling rovings I have ever touched in my life.

I also started a new sweater project.

Yeah, I know it's not much, but it's a start. This is the seed stitch edging at the bottom of the back of a pullover I'm designing on the needles. I'm using the Malabrigo Silky Merino I purchased from Sean a year or so ago when he still had his yarn store. The edge/contrasting color is some old Rowan yarn I had hanging around from somewhere.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jayme writes, "Sometime I hope to see you wax philosophical about how you've backed away from identifying yourself solely as what you did well career wise. Has being an exceptional knitter/friend/blog poster helped balance your identity?"

That is an excellent topic, and I will try and incorporate that into a blog entry soon. In short, the answer to your question is, "yes, somewhat" but it certainly wasn't what prompted me to establish an independent identity from what I did for work. More will be revealed...thanks for asking such a great question!

Thanks everyone for the nice compliments about the neckwarmer fashion photo...I just looked back at it, and I'm afraid I'm going to show up on that web site..."Man or Old Lesbian"...but I'd be happy with that too!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Taking Pride

I've always love the expression "taking pride" because it indicates that pride isn't something that is bestowed on need to actively do something to achieve it.

Examples of Merit
I have always taken an enormous about of pride in what I fact in the first couple decades of my career, I would go so far as to say I mistakenly identified myself as what I did way more than was healthy.

Recently, I've seen some amazing examples of folks doing unextraordinary jobs in an extraordinary way. Here is the latest one.

Last night I flew to Seattle for a new short-term project. The flight attendant in the coach cabin was exceptional. He assisted almost every flier with their luggage if they needed it, he made sure that if someone had two bags, that only one went in the overhead, he helped people make sure that luggage was stowed in a way that allowed for the most possible use of the overhead space. Even though the flight was completely full, not ONE person had to gate-check their luggage (which I have never seen before...ever).

Then throughout the 5-6 hour flight, he was constantly up and helping folks, or making sure they got what they needed. I hope to have him on future flights and the flight carrier will hear about this.

Current Knitting
I've made quite a bit of progress on the Newland Sock by Marlowe.

As you can see, I've finished both cuffs, and turned the first heel.

I've modified the pattern somewhat by first increasing the number of repeats so that the cuff is longer than called for, and I'm also only continuing the pattern stitch into the "V" section of the shaped foot. I'll show photos of what I mean when I've got the sock finished.

I also made a quick-knit "Urbanite Neckwarmer" designed by Crafty Andy.

This is my version of a trendy photograph...I don't typically look good in funky fashions, so I decided to go with over exaggerated.

Readers' Comments/Questions