Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Anyone Know Any Good Panty Patterns?

So in my last, I jokingly said that my guitar-stringing post would be transformed into glorious blog relevance, if only chicagowench or angeltiger happened to have Guitar Hero for their PS2s. Add to that my spouse's somewhwat cracked idea of a host gift, and you've got late-night gibbing.

Yes, I assure you that Casa 'Wench has gibs of many things all over her living room floor: dignity, panties, prentensions to musical ability (and I didn't even know I had those), etc. On Sunday night, fuelled by the power of Agua Loca, angeltiger and I stayed up with 'wench's spouse, my spouse, and a small but determined group of BBQ lingerers, trying to deflect bullets of shame with the power of our rocking. I'm torn between relief and regret that angeltiger hadn't turned on the flash when taking the picture of me with a pull-up (in lieu of the panties I so richly deserved) on my head.

On Monday, we snuck in a bit more while the kid slept. Chicagowench really helped me reduce Black Sabbath's Iron Man to its component atoms by providing a hot lesbian naked shoulderblade rub at a critical moment.

Apropos of nothing, did you know that there are, apparently, no 24-hour Best Buys in Chicago?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Vive la proletariat

This is not really about knitting. It's also not particularly about gibbing. (However, if one or both people I know, love, and will be visiting over the long weekend bought Guitar Hero for his/her PlayStation2, this could be veritably gibbing adjacent.) It's about things that I do myself even though I could pay someone else to do them: Specifically, restringing my guitar.

For the low, low price of, I think $7 (including strings) and about 10 minutes of my time, I could take my guitar to the nice folks at Different Strummer and hum a happy little tune while someone competent put on shiny new strings that stay in tune and don't sound like old steel pennies on silver dental fillings. I could, I daresay, even spend that 10 minutes or so knitting. But I don't. The only time I've ever paid to have someone put a string on my guitar was when my high E-string tried to kill me right before class.

Now, the thing is, I HATE restringing my guitar. I hate it because my insane tabby cat things that string changing is the BEST GAME EVAR and can I just wait until she takes a hit of crack so she can fully enjoy the experience. I hate it because I always manage to stab myself in an important fingertip with one of the high strings. (It's usually the E. E hates me and my capo's laughing at me.) I hate it because the strings never wind up (heh, an impromptu pun!) curled all neat and tight and sexy around the tuning pegs the way they're supposed to. I hate it because I'm BAD at it and it takes me a ridiculous amount of time.

I hate to do it, and yet I have just done it. It took me almost 40 minutes and my right index finger has stopped bleeding and is now turning purple around a most impressive puncture wound. It was probably my most successful attempt to date. Plus I put on my bitchin' new Bad Batz Maru strap. Why do I have a Bad Batz Maru strap, you might ask, given that I am not a 11-year-old girl? I have a Bad Batz Maru strap because I did NOT buy a Bad Batz Maru bass in an effort to keep the instruments at which I suck at 2.

But I digress. I hate changing my strings and I have an affordable, easy out. But I do it myself under the principle that if I CAN do it, I SHOULD do it. That way, in the words of Ms. Willow Rosenberg, lies churning one's own butter and making sweaters out of sheep. So this does actually have something to do with knitting, because don't look now, but I think that's a sheep behind me.

I have become ridiculously snooty about knit clothing since I started knitting. Yes, I am aware of the irony in that fact, given that I am the primary purveyor of fine Crafty Fucktard entries around here. I'm a horrible snob about material, but that's merely an elaboration of a tendency I've always had. But looking at a piece, being able to take it apart into its component techniques, and thinking "I could make that . . . "? That's new. New and ever-so-slightly crazy. Ok, so not so slightly. Shut up.

This isn't some kind of personal economic revolution. I recently paid (or, rather, my spouse paid) to have my house cleaned. It's lucky I wasn't here, otherwise I think I would have wept and cleaned the feet of the housecleaners with my tears and hair. I am oh-so-very-willing to have someone else grow, raise, and/or slaughter my food (though I have bourgeoise guilt about this). I don't feel the need to start a cotton field so that I can raise denim from seeds. And despite the sheep eye I'm getting, I can't see myself ever wanting to spin or dye my own yarn.

Knitting and stringing: It's a weird line in the sand, but 'tis mine own.

In completely unrelated news, Frankenblankie is blocked and ready to be shipped to my brand new niece, who was born yesterday.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sisyphus Knits

I appear to be weaving my way in and out of Greek tragedies. Good thing I have ample yarn for navigating the labyrinth (just to slather on another layer of metaphor).

We are in California this week, and I brought two projects: Frankeblanket and Tempting, which I started a while ago. I started in on the blanket with the new green and it became clear it just was not going to work. The moss was, as advertised, muddy and mossy looking, not at all the ocean-spray green-blue of the classic elite.

Ironically, back when I first hit Arcadia, hoping for a color match, I found some Jo Sharp silk road aran tweed in "Willow" that was a pretty darn spiffy color match, but I thought it was too rough and tweedy. Having since incorporated the Classic Elite "Cinnamon," though, which is also coarser and tweedier than the cotton/silk Attitude, I thought that if I again mixed and matched the new green with old brown it might work.

Accordingly I was headed Arcadiaward on Wednesday. Unfortunately, someone decided throw a Stupid Person Apocalypse on Ashland and I didn't get the memo (sadly, this is not an Apocalypse where all the stupid people are raptured the fuck away, this is an SPA where stupid people, alerted to my plans by Stupid Person Central hop into their motorized vehicles and form a Matilda Blockade). Seriously, traffic on Ashland was backed up for over 4 miles because one single fucking stoplight had been temporarily converted to a 4-way stop.

I finally bailed from Ashland and thought I'd try The Knitting Workshop first. I don't know who wrote that review of the store, but apparently they got the complimentary bong hit and oral sex at the door. I did not. The place is a complete wreck. All the balls of Debbie Bliss (yes, at the time, I was having a brane fart and thinking that I was looking for DB yarn) are shoved into a cubicle without regard for weight, material, or color. If one is so unwise as to take one out, roughly 12,000 center-pull balls leap to their deaths. There are colors wedged behind others that one would miss if one weren't so bold as to hunt through the cubes. It's actually a good deal that I didn't know I was looking for Jo Sharp at the time, because one glance toward their JS supply revealed that most of the center pull balls in there were partly unwound and shoved back into a kind of rat's nest within the cubes.

As for help, it's pretty nonexistent. There were two women working there. One grudgingly indicated that I could ask her for help if I needed it (with strong undertones that she hoped I wouldn't). The other was sitting at the big table in the window and seemed genuinely irritated that I might want to examine some of the yarn on the 4 shelves that she was blocking. Seriously, fuck that place. Fuck Lincoln Park in general (except for the zoo). Never again.

With difficulty, I made it up to Arcadia (traffic was so bad I was seriously considering bailing on my car and taking the El up, but Arcadia's out of the way for that). And, of course, the yarn was nowhere to be seen. I was seriously on the verge of either Hulking out or crying like a motherfucking girly woman when I suddenly spied a 40% off bin with two, count 'em, TWO center-pull balls of exactly the yarn I wanted. So not only did I have a more workable color match, I didn't have to shell out an organ to pay for it. WOOT!

Of course, it took me three rows of the wrong green to decide that it was completely hopeless, so I now needed to unknit those three rows, wind up the wrong green and the right brown, and start incorporating the Jo Sharp. WAAAAH. Nonetheless, I went to my happy place (aka Welles Park in Lincoln Square---a shady little spot close enough to the Sulzer Regional Library that I can sponge the Wifi) and started unknitting. Sweet fancy jeebus it did not go well. But I finally got the wrong green free and thought I was golden.

Yeah, not so much. Fast forward to Friday, a very full Southwest flight to LAX. Something is just WRONG and I can't quite put my finger on it. It's like a large number of stitches just got all twisted up and are pulling unpleasantly. I started dropping each stitch in sequence and making sure that all was on the up and up. Two and a half hours later, I find myself with a completely fucked up section 30 stitches wide and 12 rows tall. Somehow it was like certain rows had gotten transposed, so if I traced the yarn from the left side of the piece to the right side, many of the rows crossed over one another. This is not a time for atheism. This is a time for recognizing that the Universe is run by malevolent fucking deities.

But I try to take a deep breath and I think "I can fix this." Slowly, carefully, patiently, unable to really stretch the work out, thanks to the skinny bitch in gauchos (see above re: malevolent deities) to my left, I start picking the stitched up through the 12 rows. And fucking things up over and over and over and over and over again. Finally, before someone has to subdue me with deadly force, I shoved the whole fucking thing into the bag and and took out my kinder, gentler, 100% non-moebiused Temptation project.

I happily knit a round, then realize that when I'm back to the join, there's this very odd loop sticking out of the side of the first stitch, and the first stitch of the new round seems curiously tight. I thought maybe it was twisted, but it didn't seem to be. I started to knit the round and realized that there's a big, gaping hole at the join where this stupid loop is. I unknit the first stitch of the round, pull on the loop, and the stitch is dropped down two rows. I pick up the two rows and now I have a nice, holeless join, and the loop is sticking out of the right side of the second stitch. I knit the second stitch, same problem. I try the same solution. Excellent. My first two knit stitches are closed nicely, a slightly longer loop is sticking out to the right of the third stitch.

I complete an entire round in this fashion, the loop getting longer and longer. I think that somehow when I come around to the join again, the loop will resolve itself. Uh, not so much. Exactly the same problems, and dropping each stitch down 2 rows, picking it back up along the correct yarn, and continuing on seems to be the only solution. I have no idea how that fucking happened, nor do I know how to fix it. I can, however, tell you that drop-two-pick-up-two-knit/purl is no fucking way to live.

Today, I brought all my patience to the plate and went back to Frankenblanket. I laid it out on the coffee table and checked and checked and checked again that all the rows were in the correct order, and picked up each and every fucking one of those 30 stitches over 12 rows. Yes, at this point, I've invested about 5 hours in "No I WILL NOT fucking frog this blanket," but I am now a row beyond the trouble spot. I'll need to do some tugging to even out the AIYEEE very tight--Hey Baby I'm Berry White and Very Loose stitches, but Frankenblanket is ALIVE!!!!! AAAALLLIIIIIIIVVVEEE!