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February 28, 2005

Some cuteness to offset the ugliness

roy-soba-cuteness.jpg

Posted by laurie at 5:14 PM

February 27, 2005

Now I smoke the Noro weed, too

I stopped by a local yarn shop in Sherman Oaks over the weekend to snoop around. As I do.

While I was there I found a hank of Noro Big Kureyon in color 7 that I just loved, the color palette was downright organic. It's nubby earthiness brought back a previously suppressed memory of the macrame plant hangers and big wooden beads and Grateful Dead of my childhood.

I bought the Noro, even though it was SIXTEEN DOLLARS (and twenty-five cents) for one hank of yarn. I'm interested to see what this self-striping transitioning crack the knitheads are smoking is all about. Will I become a one-dose addict? I fear this habit could get very expensive.

Posted by laurie at 4:51 PM

February 26, 2005

Cats and hats and haiku, oh my

Finally ripped out all my stitches on the Filatura di Crosa "Tokyo" scarf, my first-ever scarf is now my first-ever pile of unknitting.

tokyo-closeup3.jpg

Gosh it's pretty yarn. Post-demolition, the fiber was all kinked up and crazy from my manic tight knitting so I hung it in loose folds on clothes hangers in the bathroom to steam during my morning shower.

How much steam can be generated by a morning dip, you may ask? I have set off the smoke alarm in my hallway more than once with my steamy showers. I don't know how I manage to take a steamy shower for twenty minutes, but I consider it one of my superpowers. I emerge pink and shiny and pruned of finger and toe, but thoroughly relaxed.

There was a non-knitted ball of the yarn still in my bag and I have been swatching like a madwoman to find the best gauge and stitch to display the yarn to its fullest. I've knitted it on 11s, 13s and 15s. Next swatch is going to be a drop-stitch, which I think will show the ribbon off really well (though doing garter stitch on big needles, or two different size needles, may be a solution). Drop-stitch ends up wonky for me on the first and last stitch. I WILL NOT ABIDE THE WONKY.

In preparation for knitting the Kitty Pi, I decided I should do a smaller round project. I'm not sure why I decided this. If pressed, I might say it came about from a trip to a local yarn shop where I found some really beautiful Lana Grossa yarn on sale. It just looked like a cute winter hat-to-be, and I could envision it topped with the world's largest pom-pom.

Hat Haiku:

Oh hat, I'll knit you....
But circulars look daunting.
Double-points? Eeeegads.

I have missed my knitting class for several weeks and these double-pointed needles aren't just going to knit themselves into a hat, you know. If I can figure out the secret of round knitting I will be able to make the ever-so-coveted Kitty Pi cat bed.

Maybe if she had a Kitty Pi, Frankie would stay out of the cupboard:

frankiefood-sm.jpg
One of these things does not belong inside the pantry.

Posted by laurie at 2:51 PM

February 19, 2005

Los Angeles drowns, film footage at eleven

I didn't make it to class. It's been raining in Los Angeles, which sounds like normal winter weather but is in fact THE WORLD COMING TO AN END. Homes are falling off their foundations, rivers of mud are sweeping the roads, entire neighborhoods are under water, and hair gel is failing left and right, with nothing to keep us from the frizz.

Shannon called me a few hours before class started and said, "I don't think I'm going to Lani's today, I just have so much to do and Karman and I have to produce just years of bank statements together for the lender..." (Shannon and Karman are buying a condo!) and I said, "It's raining."

And we both laughed, because neither of us want to go out in the awful weather.

Side note: Rain may not seem like awful weather to you. I grew up in the deep south and rain was an every day thing. But out here in Los Angeles it almost never rains. We only get about seven inches of rain each year and even that is daunting, but this year we have had 33 inches and counting. With all the canyon roads closed from mud and the Sepulveda basin closed from flooding, traffic is an unholy mess. Gridlock is everywhere, even on small neighborhood streets. To drive the 6.5 miles to Lani's I would need to give myself a full hour thanks to the water falling from the sky. While you laugh at us Angelenos and our fussy ways, just remember that we are paying $2.33 a gallon for gas right now. Don't you feel sorry for us? Sad for the poor Hollywoodites and their tragic mist and Starbucks cups and high gas prices? C'mon, even just a little?

My rainy patio, click for bigger images of exciting raindrops:


Posted by laurie at 9:17 AM

February 18, 2005

Already obsessing over Kitty Pi

Class tomorrow. I printed out the pattern for the felted cat bed on wendyknits, and I'm going to ask the knitting instructor at Lani's to help me get started. This will be a project of firsts ... first (intentional) felting, first circular needle knitting, first three-needle double pointed insanity knitting. I'm a woman on the edge of madness, I tell you.

I'm not going to worry about the inevitable mistakes I will make on the cat bed. I am going to remind myself repeatedly that it is just a cat bed. My cats unroll the toilet paper from the spool and sleep on it in a pile in the bathroom. Do you think they're going to be pointing out my twisted stitches? A purl that should have been a knit?

Obviously, I can't make four cat beds in one swoop of the needles. So I'll make one and let them Darwinize over it.

Survival of the fittest, yo.

Posted by laurie at 9:12 AM

February 17, 2005

Felting... on purpose!

Turns out, this there's cool thing called "felting" that I've actually been doing for years.

Of course, my felting was entirely unintentional and was generally referred to as "fucking up." My felting (fucking up) occurred mostly with wool sweaters, though I do remember a lone mitten that was felted after my trip to Norway, and a wool hat that snuck in to the laundry between some towels and was felted into a cotton ball impersonator. Don't know what the towels were doing mingling with the outerwear, but I suspect he had something to do with it:

bob the cat
Cat who digs in laundry.


Felting is the intentional shrinking and matting of knitted wool products, and it creates a lovely felt fabric that is smooth and sturdy and it can be shaped when wet (into purses and such.)

You knitter savants already know this, but I am a new knitter and this felting thing was a fascinating discovery. Had I known that ruining wool in the washer would be such a popular craft, I would have made something out of that matted fisherman's sweater in the 11th grade.

I also fondly recall a wool sweater vest (don't ask) that was ugly and loose... slutty me decided to wash 'n shrink it for a Catholic-schoolgirl-gone-bad vibe. However, having never before worked my slutty high school magic on wool I was not prepared for the tiny vestglob that emerged from the washer and dryer. Turns out, one must not dry the felted wool in the tumbler. You shape it and let it air dry.

Good to know.

Now that I have discovered felting is an actual desired result, I'm very anxious to try it. I am going to make the Kitty Pi:

http://media.wendyknits.net/knit/kittybed.htm

Oh yes I am.

Posted by laurie at 9:07 AM

February 16, 2005

Fringed out

Lo I present the Raven scarf, a combination of Patons Twister and Patons Allure, knitted on humongoid size 17 bamboo needles:

raven-scarf.jpg

I finished the furry pink candy-stripe scarf last night for Mary's granddaughter. Traffic was gnarly and I not only finished knitting the scarf while still on the bus, but I also had plenty of time to cast off, weave in all my loose ends and wind my leftover fuzzy yarn for the fringe. However, the only item I had available for winding the right length of fringe was a pack of cigarettes, which seemed wrong and inappropriate for a frilly little girl's scarf (of course I used it anyway.)

Some key things I have learned about making fringe:

Fringe Lesson 1:
Try to make an even row of fringe on the fringe-making device or else some strands will be longer than others. I mistakenly wrapped the thread round and round over itself. I should have wrapped all of it side-by-side (on the oh-so-Klassy pack of smokes) because some of the fringe strands were shorter than other strands.

Fringe Lesson 2:
Do not cut fringe, add fringe, arrange fringe or any other fringe-related activities anywhere near Frankie. She is a fringe-eating, yarn-destroying maniac with claws.


frankie-rawr.jpg


My new morning commute project is a duplicate of the very first scarf I ever completed, a Crystal Palace splash fuzzy little frou-frou that looks exactly like I am knitting up a kitten. I still have my Practice Scarf -- which is going ribbingly! -- but I'm not going to work on my Tokyo scarf swatches until I get some size 11 needles on Saturday and swatch out a piece of yarn in a bigger weave, and maybe in stockinette.

And just in case you think Franklin Delano Rosencat is an evil, yarn-eating maniac who never sleeps, you would be wrong. Even evil sleeps.

Posted by laurie at 9:00 AM

February 15, 2005

Knitting with telephone poles

Working away on the Raven Scarf. Initially, I cast on ten stitches with size 15 needles. My swatch was WAY too tight, this combo is much thicker than I anticipated. After some trial and error, I decided on 7 stitches on a size 17 needle. This should go quickly.

Mistakenly, I assumed the big size 17 needles would be easier to handle but they make my hands cramp and I fear I may even be burning calories hoisting those giants. It's so awkward maneuvering the stitches I could almost break a sweat.

Aside from the prematurely arthritic cramping of my hands, the Raven scarf is turning out well. It's fuzzy and dense but the pink chenille yarn makes a faint stripe, almost like a candycane.

Close-up of the yarn:

raven-scarf-closeup.jpg

In other breaking scarf news, my practice yarn scarf is coming along just swimmingly. It's an original all right. I'm using the Patons Up Country wool yarn in dark grey. By the way, it's much harder to see your stitches in a dark yarn. But my unique one-of-a-kind scarf has got ribbing in the middle of some stockinette, right next to some drop-stitch madness, where I apparently increased a stitch magically. Practice makes perfect.

I can't seem to figure out the proper way to do a drop-stitch row, since my end stitches are either way too tight or way too lose, hopefully I can make it to class on Saturday to ask the instructor what the hell I'm doing wrong. Teaching myself to knit from a book is a real adventure in patience and screwing up. Does anybody know if you're supposed to knit the first stitch, then start your yarnover on the second stitch? I was yarn-overing on the first stitch and getting a mess.

It should be very clear now why I needed a "practice yarn" and a "practice scarf."

Posted by laurie at 8:57 AM

February 14, 2005

First Valentine's Day resingled

pink-yarn-sofa.jpg

You know, after surviving your first Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's season without your spouse, one would think Valentine's Day would be a breeze.

One would be wrong.

So, off to Michael's for yarn. There are some stereotypes built into that sentence and the picture right above probably doesn't help.

The problem with my local yarn shops -- and there are about seven GREAT little yarn boutiques in my general area -- is that they all close at 4 p.m. For those of us who must work to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, that is deeply inconvenient. I better stock up on Saturdays because nothing is open by the time I return to the Valley after a long day of working for The Man. Nothing except Michael's, that is.

The new project is a girly-girl scarf for a coworker's granddaughter, Raven. Raven is the granddaughter of Mary, a very cool lady who is now the sole caretaker of 5-year-old Raven, which I think is pretty upstanding of coworker Mary.

Mary was in the Meeting Where I Got Yelled At (which then became Meeting Where I Cried). As you can imagine, I was horribly embarrassed by this incident but Mary later confessed that she has also cried at work, and she's also been yelled at by the same horrible woman who yelled at me in the meeting, and that made me feel better and somewhat less pathetic. Also kind of wondering why horrible woman is allowed to yell at people. But that was a long time ago and now I carry very sturdy knitting needles in my bag, so take heed future meeting yellers.

Since I was looking for a novelty yarn for a little girl, the Encino Michael's was less frustrating than usual. I decided on a Patons chenille-eyelash twist in hot pink and white. It's a cute combo, but not soft enough for a scarf on its own. I'm combining it with a super-fuzzy, supersoft Paton's Allure in pale pink.

patons-twister-allure.jpg

Should be a nice challenge, knitting with three different yarns at the same time. And wine. And general malaise about the day.

I got lots of help admiring the yarn:

frankie-pink-yarn2.jpg
Frankie investigates.

soba-pink-yarns2.jpg
Soba appraises the pink yarn from her pink carpet.

pink-yarn-roy.jpg
Roy is so helpful when it comes to untangling the yarn.

Posted by laurie at 8:51 AM

February 13, 2005

Obsessive compulsive much?

It's final, I am going to rip out the stitches on my Tokyo scarf and start all over again.

I decided this just now, as I am about 3/4 done. What's most embarrassing is that I am only a very beginner knitter and already I'm being an irrational perfectionist freak.

But, OK, I'm not really being a perfectionist freak. I'm being detailed. And craft-loving. I hereby present in my defense three significant concerns about my Tokyo scarf:

Significant Concern # 1: It's too wide. That's the main problem. You don't need to be a Type-A neurotic to see that. It's clearly visible. Really. And while the yarn knits up very neat and tiny on these 10.5 needles, maybe the natural beauty of the yarn would be more obvious in a larger needle. Plus, I don't have to point out that at $12/ball, this scarf is going to cost me eleventeen hundred dollars by the time this is all over.

Significant Concern # 2: This is an eleventeen hundred dollar scarf that I don't love love love.

Significant Concern # 3: Since the yarn is knitting up so tightly, the fabric is super dense and I don't think it will drape nicely unless it's super long to offset the weight or unless I am using it to stop bullets during an ambush. While a dense, warm, bulletproof wool scarf of 15 feet will work swimmingly on a trip to Siberia, it will never get used here in Los Angeles. Not to mention I get about 14 inches of length per skein, and at the required 72.5 feet for draping I'm looking at ....oh, eleventeen million dollars.

So, what do I do? To rip or not to rip, that is the question.

Pro: I will be able to cast on myself, the amount and size stitches I prefer.
Con: I will have to unravel three skeins of tightly knit wool.

Pro: I can avoid creating a scarf I am unhappy with, which will end up shoved in a drawer somewhere, thereby wasting $60 of yarn.
Con: Unraveling days of hard work!

Pro: Can maybe use a new stitch, like stockinette.
Con:
What if I rip it all out and don't like the new scarf any better?
Pro: Can avoid that by swatching. See, aha, I am learning something!

Pro: Will not be obsessed by imperfect scarf.
Con: Class and teacher will think I am OCD.

Pro: Since I am OCD, won't care what class thinks. Will need to wash hands twice during class, though.

So I think we all know where this is headed. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night. One last look before it goes away:


tokyo-pre-frog1.jpg

tokyo-closeup.jpg

tokyo-closeup.jpg

Posted by laurie at 8:42 AM

February 12, 2005

Class chatter and knit chit-chat

Class was insanity. Knitting is the new Pilates, everyone is doing it (including me). Except I would never do Pilates, because exercise can kill you.

My co-worker did indeed drive out to the Valley from San Gabriel to attend the knitting class at Lani's. There were two other beginners in the class and both picked really tiny yarn, yikes!, plus me, Shannon, the instructor and a lady who brought her daughter and about 27 unfinished knitting works-in-progress. I meant to tell the works-in-progress lady that her daughter was exceptionally well-behaved and lovely but I forgot, so next week I hope she's there.

Needless to say, with that many new people I did not mention ripping out my Tokyo scarf. It would have been an embarrassing diversion and the teacher was already swamped with needy knitters. Shannon and I chatted most of the time, she's working on her shawl and I decided to finish the fuzzy Crystal Palace scarf and maybe finally learn casting off, thereby picking up one skill and prolonging the pain of scarf indecision for another week. I did buy two balls of Tokyo and our teacher joined the yarn, so some probably futile work was done on it, but not too much.

Co-worker Friend picked out a really pretty cotton tape and she's on size 13 needles so it should go fast. We didn't get to talk at all during class since we were at opposite ends of the table and I felt really bad because the instructor was busy, but as it turned out one of the workers at the shop named Meadow gave her some one-on-one instruction and Co-worker caught on really fast.

Aside: How much do you love the Valley, where women in Uggs attend knitting class at a shop where a girl named Meadow can help you select a $25 hank of yarn?

Now, cue the parting of the clouds and envision a wide swath of sunlight and angels singing in the background...

I FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO FINISH A DAMN SCARF.

The teacher showed me how to cast off stitches and my fuzzy Crystal Palace scarf became my very first completed knitting project! I draped it around Shannon's neck to see how it looked ... and she looked amazing in it. It was totally right on her. She was fondling it and cooing to it ("Ooooh, softy soft!") and I was so happy someone wasn't embarrassed to wear a scarf I knitted that I happily gave it to her. And she genuinely liked it, though she is an actress so perhaps she was acting, who cares! I was pleased as peach pie.

After class the shop was still insanely busy but I somehow managed to buy two pairs of Lantern Moon needles (size 15 and 13, both 14" long), the two balls of Tokyo for my possibly-about-to-be-ripped-out scarf, a fuzzy novelty yarn to maybe mix in the fringe of the maybe-ripped-out scarf, and an amazing hand-painted mohair in deepest blues and greens. I LOVE MOHAIR. LOVE it.

Karman picked up Shannon after class and before long she was wearing the scarf I had just made. I was tickled pink.

Hot damn, ya'll, I'm a knitter!

Posted by laurie at 8:34 AM

February 11, 2005

Wherein I persuade a coworker to drink the kool-aid

After weeks of talking nonstop about knitting, combined with the visual aids (look! it's a scarf! and yet another scarf in different yarn! and yet another!) it appears that one of my co-workers has decided to come to class with me next week and see what all this knitting madness is about.

I feel proud like a missionary about to convert my first knitter. Amen.

Posted by laurie at 8:24 AM

February 10, 2005

Veuve Cliquot taste on a Colt 45 budget

Apparently my material snobbery issues extend not only to furniture and design, but also to yarn. And knitting needles.

After spending $120 on supplies this week alone, I decided I needed to calm the fuck down on yarn spending. However, I'm totally obsessed with knitting and jonesing to practice my purl stitch skills and rib stitch and drop-stitch oh my.

So I decided to purchase some more yarn. BECAUSE THAT SOLVES THE PROBLEM. But I decided to purchase practice yarn and by "practice yarn" I mean a skein of something cheap and easy ... not the $25 hank of feathery mohair I purchased, not the Crystal Palace fuzzies in my bag, not the skein of Noro I was eying on my way out of class on Saturday. No. I need plain, bulky wool that is inexpensive and easy to work with.

In just the past few weeks I have managed to visit and patronize a rather startling number of local yarn shops. For someone who has yet to successfully cast off a single project this might be a melding of craft love + retail therapy, who can say for sure.

All I know is that if I visit another local yarn shop I'll go nutty and end up with a bag of mohair and alpaca and god only knows what novelty crap. Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

To prevent financial bloodletting, I have to remove myself from the environment of money suckage (i.e. upscale shops with a good selection) in order to buy a nice, plain practice yarn. This method of shopping is how I handle my Bloomingdale's problem. For example, if I want a simple T-shirt and I go to Bloomie's for it, I'll end up spending $72 on a white cotton T-shirt which is INSANE, and I am immediately embarrassed by my lack of self control and common sense. Plus my credit cards begin to vibrate in a bad way. To control myself, I must go to a place where the uppermost cap on T-shirt spending is a reasonable $30-40. That way I feel judiciously prudent with my $25 plain white T-shirt.

The things we do.

Back to yarn. I really had no idea where to go for the plain, wool practice yarn of my dreams. Unlike T-shirts, there is no Gap of yarn. So I went to Michael's in Encino.

It was crowded. And damp. And a ketchup-covered child was running hog wild touching everything within reach of his grimy little paws. There was not a natural fiber in the entire store. I would pick up a skein of this or that, hold it between my fingers, and feel it squeak. Some of it kind of crunched. And some of it was glazed with ketchup from hog wild kid.

As soon as I arrived in the yarn aisle I realized that I had become a yarn snob, and I was exhibiting snobbery -- something I detest to do in the presence of snobbery-free folks -- and I still couldn't stop myself. I wanted to be one with the people, the Glasnost Girl of acrylics, the Cumbaya of faux wool, but I was unable to get past myself. And the people! Ladies were swarming in there! Seriously. It was like the Soviet bread line of yarn, with people prodding and pushing, grabbing skeins out of near-empty shelves, tussling over some burgundy Red Heart.

It's not like I have never been to a Michael's before. I've clipped the 50% OFF ONE ITEM! coupon many a time for a tub of gesso, or a boar-bristle brush, a tube of titanium white. I've bought pre-stretched canvas there. Sure, I prefer to hand-stretch my own, but I also prefer the smell of home-baked bread to a microwaved tortilla and how many nights do you think I bake my own freakin' bread, people? Not too many, I'll tell you that much. I am lazy. And I am democratic with paint surfaces. I mean, if Picasso could paint on a slab of wood, I think I can handle a Michael's pre-stretched canvas. I'll paint on anything. Cardboard, masonite, wood, concrete. I'd paint on you if you'd stand still long enough.

Yet, I've never really wandered outside the painting supplies aisle of a Michael's. I don't scrapbook. I don't do fake flowers, or cake pans shaped like Timba, or year-round Easter baskets. I buy all my sewing supplies in the garment district. My beads and bobbles and such come from Bohemian Crystal or one of the other bazillion notions shops in downtown Los Angeles. I thought maybe the problem was the store. Like Target or Ralph's or Rite-Aid, sometimes location makes all the difference. Right?

So I drove to Burbank to the newer, much larger Michael's where the larger, more plentiful yarn aisles were equally as crowded as the Encino Michael's, but certainly cleaner. I searched aisle to aisle for any natural-fiber yarn. I like novelty yarn and fun fur and acrylic just fine. For some reason, however, I had 100% pure wool bulky yarn on the brain, and I wanted it cheap, and I wanted it now. Michael's is a perfectly fine store, once you get past the ketchup-covered, parentless children. Really. It is.

Finally, I located a Michael's salesperson (do you have any idea how hard that was or how long it took to find a person in a red smock who had worked there for longer than one hour and had any knowledge of the store's stock? Oh. My. God.) and I asked said salesperson if they stocked any 100% wool yarn.

"Well, we have one, but it's been discontinued, so what's here is all we have, and we won't be getting more."

It was a perfectly lovely, soft, classic bulky wool, Patons Up Country in deep charcoal grey.

patons-grey.jpg

"Why are you discontinuing this?" I asked. "It's so nice!"

"It's just too expensive," she said.

I looked at the price on the bin. $7.99/skein (100g). That's too expensive? And then my old pre-knitting brain kicked in and reminded me that mere months ago I would have been astonished to find that any human being on planet earth would willingly pay more than two dollars for yarn. Good Lord. I must be sucked into some netherworld of yarn snobbery whose depths are unbeknownst even to me. Maybe I've grown so accustomed to being ripped off, I just think it's natural to fork over $25 for a skein of yarn. Remember me, the dumbass? I was happy with my starter yarn, $12 for a tee-tiny ball of Filatura di Crosa.

So this is how it's gonna be, I guess. It's my hobby after all, not the makings of a scarf sweatshop. Why not indulge myself? I have so few hobbies that I love these days. I'm too depressed and love-hating to finish my novel, I don't have a studio any more to paint in, and if you give me enough time I will think of some other dramatical reason to add to this list.

It's been a rough few months. I need this hobby. I love this hobby. So, if I want to be a high-end yarn ho, then dammit, a-ho'ing I will go.

Posted by laurie at 9:01 AM

February 9, 2005

Perfectionism rears its ugly head

Knitted a few rows on my new fuzzy scarf and then scrutinized my Beginner Scarf, which I will now call the Tokyo scarf, after the name of the yarn. I can't knit on it anymore since I have no aforementioned Tokyo yarn, but scrutiny is free and plentiful.

Problem is that as my Tokyo Scarf shapes up, it's... uh, it's a bit wide. And thick. It's so thick it could stand up on its own, less like a scarf and more life a statue made of knit stitch.

Maybe it's because my stitches are so tight or because I pulled the yarn. Or maybe there are just too many stitches cast on. I read about blocking and that sounds like a wonderful way to shape a project but I'm not sure a spritz of water and a pin or two will turn the Kevlar tightness of this knit into a wearable item.

Also, the ladies at the yarn shop said two hanks of yarn is plenty for normal scarves yet I'm only 25 or so inches in on my impenetrable Tokyo Scarf, so clearly I'll need one if not two more skeins. That brings the grand total to what.... over $50?

In other news, I'll be standing on a corner on 7th Street later if anyone wants to pay a nice girl for her company.

The Splash scarf is coming along:

splash-roy.jpg

Roy helps me knit by keeping the yarn warm.

I'm going to teach myself to purl from the Stitch n' Bitch book, I just can't wait until class on Saturday!

Posted by laurie at 10:28 AM

February 8, 2005

Joining the yarn, casting on, and Bob's your uncle

Dilemma struck last night.

I was knitting obsessively on the sofa and at 11 p.m. I knitted all the way through my skein of yarn. I had another skein just sitting there.

But, uh, how do you begin the new ball of yarn?

I couldn't *stop* knitting and go to bed and wait until my next class (many, many days away!) and the store was closed and the cats were not forthcoming with tips so you see my quandary. Unconcerned that it was late and that other people have lives and whatnot, I called Shannon in a flurry and after our phone consultation (and a sigh that may or may not mean she regrets the monster she has created) I finally sort of overlapped the tails and knit them in. It's not perfect, but it worked and I continued in a frenzy.

Tonight after work I decided to stop by the local yarn shop near my house to see if they had any Filatura di Crosa Tokyo yarn for my scarf since I am a apparently a knitting maniac and have knitted all the way through the yarn I bought on Saturday. This is Tuesday. I can do the math, and I do not plan on being yarnless on a Wednesday night with nothing to do but finally unpack the mountain of boxes in my guest room. Nosiree and Bob's your uncle.

My beginner scarf is coming together and I feel it may be a masterpiece. All the neat little rows, the way the yarn hooks together to make fabric. It is rather wider than I thought and I may have a slight hole on the left but no matter. I must knit, must keep needles moving. I NEED MORE YARN.

The closest yarn shop is a small neighborhood place, and inside it's so packed and narrow I worried I might get stuck between the bins. The owner of the store is a tiny, knitting Erma Bombeck. Erma Bombeckish. She's very tidy and cute, but all business. All yarn business. She and her mother run the shop and make all the creations sold inside.

I asked if they offered knitting classes and the owner looked at me, in that way people have of sizing you up, and I came out short.

"Well, if you purchase supplies here we'll show you what you need to know," she said. "Most people don't need a class. But if you really, REALLY need handholding we can sit with you.... for $25 an hour."

I found this very funny. She found me somewhat moronic. I think my exuberance was exhausting to her. This happens from time to time. I overtalk when I'm nervous, it's a compensatory thing.

The shop doesn't carry the Filatura di Crosa Tokyo yarn I need for my scarf but never one to leave a store empty-handed, I bought another pair of knitting needles (size 15 "Uncle Ronnie" needles) and two skeins of Crystal Palace Splash yarn that doesn't even look like yarn. I LOVE it. It's very shiny and fuzzy, exactly what beginners are cautioned to stay away from. But I have the knit stitch down pat (obsess obsess obsess and ye too shall learn to knit.) This stuff is like knitting a cat, it's all silky and fuzzy.

splash-closer.jpg

Erma Bombeckish's mom showed me how to cast on with frightening intensity. It was like having a nun stand over you weilding a knitting needle, only this nun was Jewish and wearing a Mickey Mouse wristwatch.

"You're doing it wrong."
"No, hold your yarn this way."
"Stop tugging."
"You beginners always hold the yarn too tightly."

In the end, this was best method of learning the two-tail cast on because I will NEVER FORGET casting on properly. I was so nervous and scared of wearing the knitting dunce cap that I concentrated like never before.

I practiced several times on my new fuzzy yarn. It's wonderful! If I keep buying yarn and needles I assume I can just continue on this path indefinitely, as I have no idea how to cast off and finish anything.

But I can cast on with the best of the best, yes I can.

Posted by laurie at 11:44 AM

February 7, 2005

Spinsterdom, party of one, your table is ready

I spent most of this morning proudly showing off my knitting to every single person who stopped by my desk. You want a banner ad? First, admire my knitting. You need a logo resized? No problem, let me tell you all about knitting class!

I knitted last night. I knitted this morning on the bus. I knitted almost through my first skein of yarn. Admittedly it's a small skein of yarn, but still. Knitting perfectly dovetails with my OCD -- must finish. Must do one more row. Must count stitches. Whoops, twenty-one? Could have sworn I began with twenty. Oh well, I'll just knit those two together. Problem solved. I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER. Must keep knitting. Must. Not. Stop.

All I've heard since Mr. X moved out is, "Laurie, maybe you should take up a hobby or something." "Stay busy, it will keep your mind off things." "Have you thought about taking a class or something?"

Well, the joke's on you now, all you future recipients of thousands of scarves. I have a hobby dammit! Can't talk, I'm knitting!

Posted by laurie at 4:40 PM

February 6, 2005

Knit stitch

Shannon has been knitting for months now. Sometime last fall she brought her knitting bag and a scarf project over to my place, it was back in the early days of my sudden, new-found singleness. She told me she'd taken a class at Lani's in Studio City and now she's a knitter with a bag full of string that will one day be a sweater. I was interested in her new obsession — yarn and sticks turn into into fabric? That's crazytalk! — but my schedule was full, I was simply too busy being miserable to take up a new hobby.

Trying to find a new place to live, trying to figure out how to handle the holidays, trying to wake up each morning and make it through eight hours at work without crying at my desk or talking into my bra while directing traffic on 6th Street, muttering something about marriage being for suckers, film footage at eleven. It kept me busy.

But now that's all behind me, thank God. Except the part about talking into my bra.

Now that the move is done and I am safely nested away in my tiny house and there are many stacks of unpacked boxes to ignore, I can open up to a new hobby. I need a new hobby. Aside from bonding with my sofa and making sweet love to my TiVo, my life is pretty passionless.

Shannon took me along me to her Saturday knitting class at Lani's. The instructor was patient with me and laughed at my neurotic antics, but with a nice laugh, not the you're making me nervous laugh. Very important difference.

I had no yarn or needles, of course, and one of the ladies in the shop told me to select a yarn and then she'd help me with needles. I immediately went for the fussiest yarn on the shelf, and was sent back for a "beginner" yarn, something smooth, not too nubby, evenly sized, not too small. I picked a lovely wool yarn with little tiny ribbon bits running through it, not exactly a beginner yarn but I have to love the yarn or I will never complete a project.

tokyo1.jpg

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Filatura di Crosa "Tokyo" color 2 , 50 grams, $12
Lantern Moon ebony needles, 12", size 10.5

The class instructor cast on the yarn to get me started, and then she taught me the basic knit stitch while Shannon watched on. Do you have any idea how much pressure it is to knit your first stitch while people watch you? Knitting stress is a real thing.

Before long I was looping and stitching may way to a whole row. Then another. Knitting is fun! Knitting is like crack! Give me more! Can't stop!

I went home and all I wanted to do was knit, knit, knit. Unfortunately, I had to put the yarn aside and clean my house as much as one can clean with piles of boxes everywhere. Jennifer was coming over for dinner last night, so I had to tidy up and find something to cook. All I wanted to do was knit! Knit! I swept and vacuumed around the boxes and put away dishes in record time. I got in at least two rows before she came over, and was midway through a third when she knocked at the door. I opened the gate for her and then, good hostess that I am, promptly sat back on the sofa to finish my half-completed row. Jennifer was clearly bored with this fascinating new hobby of mine, so I put everything aside for the evening. I guess it's more exciting to be the knitter than the observer of the knitter.

This morning I finally gave myself over to the obsession.

I woke up, made a cup of coffee and planted myself on the couch with knitting and TiVo. By noon my ass had grown roots into the sofa and my very first scarf was all on its way.

I LOVE knitting. I mean love-love-love knitting.

Posted by laurie at 3:29 PM