Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding our people

Last month, I was part of a rather large group of knitters that agreed to meet at the Okemos Road Cracker Barrel for breakfast and to caravan to the Detroit-area to attend Knit Michigan. Only a couple members of our group knew every person invited; so, for the rest of us, we weren't certain who to look for upon entering the restaurant. One knitter in particular was ecstatic when she saw another knitter walk by and was instantly recognized as a fellow fiber-lover because of the beautiful, hand-knit scarf that was worn. "I'm so happy to have found my people," she declared as she took her seat at our table.

Spending time with others who have the same interests and zeal for any particular hobby is always a treat. I experienced this first hand on two recent occasions. Last weekend (March 16th or so) was a gorgeous weekend in Mid-Michigan; the rain and snow melt from the previous week had ceased, the sun returned, and the temperature warmed to its highest in many weeks. Sylvain happened to be out of town, so Chuck and I had the rare chance to spend some quality time together. Last weekend was also a public-viewing weekend at the Fox Park Observatory. Being an amateur astronomer, Chuck is very active in the local astronomy group that hosts public-viewing nights at the MSU Observatory. Saturday evening, we decided to check out the Fox Park public night. In addition to the general public hanging-out and viewing the stars, there were several others there who were taking astro-photos. Chuck fell right at home with this group. He's always been interested in taking photos through his telescopes, but currently isn't set up to do so digitally. Once the general public had left, the photogs stuck around and hooked their cameras up to the Observatory's computers to manipulate their photos in PhotoShop and to take more shots on the Observatory's scopes. Almost immediately, the stars took on a new brilliancy on-screen, where a seemingly empty picture had been. Listening to them talk camera-specs, telescope issues, and their experiences, Chuck had found his people.

As for myself, I always knew where my people had been, but over the past weekend, had the chance to escape with them on the Guild's annual retreat. Leaving on Friday night, we spent the weekend at the DNR's RAM center. I am proud to say that I spent those few days knitting, eating, discovering just how bad I was at charades, and enjoying wine and the company of fellow knitters and the brave quilters who accompanied us.

I worked on only two projects: my second Rippled Baby Blanket for Chuck's cousin Aaron's new twins (made out of my friend Lynn's Cushy Color Sport in a custom purple-pink color that she dyed for me -- aren't I special?) and a pair of socks out of a decrepit stash of Regia that I had laying around. If you happen to know me, you'll know that I don't usually knit socks. But, I am going on Spring Break vacation this year to Florida and really do not want to have a heavy woolen item in hand to work on while in the insufferable heat and humidity of the South.

We also had a three-person project swap. I swapped 4 skeins of a wool that was hand-dyed by my friend Rachel and a children's sock pattern from Kalamazoo Knits. I ended up with a couple of wonderful gray hanks of cashmere (Thanks, Tracy!).

Capping off the weekend, we stopped by Arnie's Arts 'n Crafts (literally a big-ass store full of every possible crafting supply). This was the first time I've been to this store and half-expected to find shelf after shelf of the cheapest acrylic. While there was still plenty of acrylic, there were quite a few surprising finds. Goodies that I picked up were: a copy of the First Book of Modern Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel, two skeins of Happy Feet sock yarn, and two Scrubzilla kits. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend of time with my people.

Last, I should mention that the crocus in my yard knew that the first day of spring was on Friday. Soon, the rest of the flower beds will start to fill in and remind us that spring has sprung.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The day I forgot about my breasts

Yesterday was a day of reflection. It was the day that I woke up and found that the Estes sweater that's been proudly featured here in a few posts does not fit. That the pieces that were carefully seamed together the night before are just plain too small. Yes, I had ignored the skeptical glances from friends when I showed off each piece. Yes, that was me responding to Cheanne's questions about measurement with "I'm a 38 and the finished measurements are to 41.5 and my pieces were blocking to the correct sizes."


Yes, you guessed it, I forgot about my breasts. "How can this be? I've seen you work on many a sweater!?!" you may be wondering. Well, I'm wondering the same thing too. The only way that I can rationalize it is that almost all of the sweaters that I've made for myself are Norwegian-style ski sweaters and those tend to be larger and more forgiving towards these indiscretions, being meant for wearing outdoors without a coat. Maybe the bulk found in that style has skillfully hidden the fact that I must not have a good understanding about measurement and fit.

I recently mentioned tearing out a tank sweater made from Cotton Twist because it didn't fit correctly. Here, I've gone all these years thinking that the pattern was all wrong, when it was probably me mis-reading the sizing.

Well, now that I've spilled my guts out on this and have hung my head in shame, the Estes sweater has been left with Cheanne (goddess of destruction) to reduce it back down to just balls of yarn. I will certainly redo this project and have two more untouched hanks of the Cascade Pastaza yarn that was used for it left, so am assured to be able to achieve the correct size. But now, I'm left to wonder about the yarn bought for three other sweater projects. Maybe I'll drag 'em out at Tuesday's knit-in and beg for verification that I have enough yarn for the sizes I need...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Planning, planning, and more planning

So, I hear that grilled cheese doesn't cook faster if I stand in front of the stove and stare at it. Tonight's dinner is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for Sylvain and soup and a turkey-artichoke wrap for myself. Chuck's at his monthly astronomy club meeting; hence, the crappy dinner for us. While it's "cooking", I'm settling for multi-tasking by posting while cooking...

Multi-tasking. That dirty word that stretches us all in more and more directions each day. Well, it absolutely needs to be the theme of my evening. Tonight, I need to post the details for a dye event hosted by the MMKG onto Ravelry (look for it on the MMKG's group forum and on the Lansing Friends of Fiber group forum).

I also need to send to Sylvain's scout troop forms and details for their attendance at a local summer resident camp. And I also need to start planning their April campout in the Manistee National Forest.

Lastly, I absolutely need to write-up a short bio for my boss, since I'm planning his retirement party towards the end of the month. So, if you happen to run into me tomorrow, please cut me some slack since it's been a rather stressful day.

Did I already mention that I was up at 4:30 this morning making mint chocolate brownies for an office pot-luck today? No? Well, I also won't get into the work that went unfinished today and followed me home in my briefcase. At least, I'll plan on a break to watch Lost. There's always time for Lost....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is 2009 the year of the sweater?

So far in 2009, my yarn purchases have consisted of baby blankets for Chuck's relatives (two down and one more to go!!) and sweaters for me. I guess, technically, the Estes sweater yarn dates back to October. Though if it matters, I frantically worked on the sweater during the week leading up to Knit Michigan with hopes to wear it to the event, only to not make much more progress than what's shown in the photos since missing that artificial deadline. The Estes sweater is from the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knits and is being knit out of Cascade Pastaza from the Yarn Garden.

I now have yarn to work on the "hooded jacket" from the Winter 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting in Kathmandu Aran from Rae's; the trapeze-line jacket from Bergere de France's "Knit Generation" pattern book in their Magic yarn from Threadbear; and Jubileum from the 60th anniversary of Heilo pattern book by Dale of Norway from Woven Art. Can't you tell that I've been on a local shop hop lately?

That aside, I *might* allow myself to finish the Estes sweater once the final baby blanket is done. But, I am refusing to cast on for any of the rest of the sweaters until I've pieced together my afghan squares from the Great American Aran Afghan. Sadly, these have sat on the floor of my stash room since September. Completed. Blocked, even. A shameful tragedy, really. And it's high time for me to make it right. So, if you're local, please be a true friend and chastise me if you see something other than a baby blanket or afghan squares in my hands. Trust me, you'll know when the afghan is finally complete...