Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weeks of May 14th-27th

I skipped last week's blog post because last Sunday was my husband's grad school commencement, so I was busy with ceremonies and things all day. Knitting-wise, my sock binge has continued, with two more pairs of A4A socks:

Also, two more pairs of "leftovers" socks for myself:

Aside from those, I knit a couple of my usual men's hats for the fall. I think I've more or less exhausted my sock stash for the time being, so I should have something more interesting to share in my next post - probably the Sunday after next.

In other news, I've been enjoying the hot, sunny weather. I love spring; it can make even the urban blight look pretty. Day jobs are going okay, though I'm working on phasing out the dog-walking. I've done it for over a year and a half now, and though I love my dogs, now that I have the JoAnn Fabrics job I think it's time to move on.

I've been reading Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art by Susan M. Strawn. It's much like the excellent book No Idle Hands: A Social History of American Knitting by Anne MacDonald, except it's more of a coffee table book and has lots of pictures. I'm drawn to the history of textile arts, and I find wartime knitting particularly interesting because of my family heritage - both my great-grandmother (World War I) and my grandmother (World War II) knit for the war effort, and I like to knit for the peace effort (Afghanistan, etc.), which feels like a natural progression in time.

In case anyone is wondering how I get all this knitting done, it's because I work ALL THE TIME. I am either away at work or home at work. All jobs combined, I can work anywhere from 50-70 hours a week. When I am not working, I am usually asleep (I need a good nine hours a night to feel truly rested) or eating (at least two meals a day, preferably three, but I often forget to eat lunch). Once or twice a week I'll go grocery shopping and do housework. Occasionally I socialize, but that's usually accompanied by knitting, so whether or not that counts as work or rest is up for debate. I may well be a workaholic, but I'm pretty happy and my husband's pretty happy, so I figure there's no reason to change my lifestyle until we have kids.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week of May 7th-13th

I didn't have to work this weekend and also have very little scheduled to do, so for the past two days I've been doing little other than knitting socks. The socks are great, but honestly I've been a little bored. Boredom isn't common for me; I was an only child with working parents and therefore learned early on to entertain myself. Part of it was that my husband was out of town, and he usually keeps me entertained. It's not that I fall apart or anything when he's not around - of course, I miss him, but I'm not upset - but I tend to revert to my natural reclusive state when left to my own devices.

Anyway, socks. I finished the A4A pair I had on the needles when I wrote last week, and I knit myself a wool-acrylic blend pair from yarn leftovers. Most significantly, I finished my Pink Zebra jacket this week, all except for the button.

I went by Fine Points yarn store yesterday afternoon to help my mother-in-law pick out yarn for a jacket I'm making her. Fine Points is a lovely LYS (Local Yarn Store) and a real fixture of the Larchmere neighborhood. I've taught several knitting and crochet classes there in the past. But here's the funny thing: I always have to psych myself up to go there, because it gets me down. Or to any LYS, for that matter. This is a fairly new thing - I used to love going to yarn stores to admire all the beautiful designer yarns. But over the past couple of years, as I've been more serious about my shop and have been knitting with simpler yarns, going to an LYS tends to make me depressed. The reason is the cost.

I'm not criticizing independent stores for having higher prices than chain stores; they have to if they want to stay in business, and on the whole I don't mind paying an extra dollar or so if it's to support a local store and it saves me having to wait for an online order. But when you're on a limited income and like to make large things like sweaters, the extra couple of dollars per ball of yarn quickly makes a project prohibitively expensive. Even if you do order online, designer yarn is designer yarn, and it's going to cost more than what you get at a chain craft store. Again, I'm not saying they should be cheaper, because I know they often contain fine materials and require a lot of time to make. And it seems like, for most knitters, it's fine. Most of the knitters I know or know of are women in their 40s and up and are fairly wealthy, so they can buy a $15 ball of beautiful, one-of-a-kind handpainted yarn. But for me, looking at a shelf of luxury yarns feels a bit like looking at a case of fine jewelry: I can appreciate the beauty, but I can't afford any of it, so I just get depressed.

Which is why I typically stick to sturdy, simple yarns from places like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby. You can find some affordable and good-quality wools there. I'd be more inclined to buy "nicer" yarns if I could sell what I make from them, but from my experience a hat made from plain worsted wool is much more likely to sell than one made from a fancy wool/mohair blend. Leftover designer wool that I bought when I was a new knitter tends to wind up in my A4A pieces.

Yesterday, as a gift, my husband's grandmother bought me a lovely skein of a silk/mohair blend - something I would never allow myself to buy nowadays - along with a pattern for an airy shawl/cowl/scarf to make from it. It's soft and decadent and only marginally useful. And I'm going to love knitting and wearing it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week of April 30th - May 6th

The new Afghans for Afghans campaign is posted, and here are my pieces from this week. I have two hats that are a bit misshapen because I used bulky and thick-and-thin wools rather than worsted, but nevertheless they're toasty warm and perfectly wearable for an adult or older child.
I also have one completed pair of adult-size socks and another on the needles. Since I learned the two-at-a-time method I've been trying to develop the perfect design for worsted-weight socks - mine always come out too loose around the foot - and I think I've found it! By just adding a slip 1, knit one round every other round at the foot, I can get the foot to fit more snugly without making the rest of the sock too small. These pure wool ones are going to Afghanistan, but later on I'm going to knit some for myself in a washable wool blend.
I worked this week but got the weekend off. My husband and I went to see The Avengers on Friday, which was a lot of fun; it lived up to my high expectations of a movie written and directed by Joss Whedon! And superheroes aren't usually my thing. I also have to add with some pride that the outdoor scenes set in Germany and New York City were actually filmed here in Cleveland, mere blocks away from my apartment. I was working at Filene's Basement while they were filming last summer, and movie people would come in periodically and buy up tons of clothes and accessories for filming. They would never say what movie they were working on, but come on, we all knew! Stuff like that doesn't happen here every day.