Saturday, August 25, 2007

Going over to the dark side

So about this time last year, I promised myself I would learn to crochet before my 40th birthday. I'm not sure why that seemed important to me, but it did, and just like pretty much every other resolution I've ever made, I let it slip almost immediately after making it. Other than purchasing a few crochet hooks in likely sizes and a copy of the Stitch 'n Bitch crochet book, I did nothing at all to forward this particular goal. I'm really good at shopping for resolutions, but not so good on the follow-through. Hey, I had the book, I had the tools, I had the time. Just not right now.

But there it was, Wednesday night, with about four hours of my thirties left. I was bored and not in the mood to work on any of my current knitting projects when I remembered the stupid resolution. My past attempts at learning how to crochet had all failed, but I thought, eh, what the hell. I poured a glass of wine and got out some smooth, reasonably tightly-spun DK weight, a 4 mm hook, and the book. And I did it. I carefully read the instructions, managed to hold everything right, remembered to keep the yarn in my left hand, and finally had the conceptual breakthrough I'd been missing in every previous attempt.

I made a long and ugly swatch of single, half-double, double, and then triple crochet. As I felt confident I'd conquered each stitch, I threw in a row of slip stitch and moved on to the next. Wonky as fuck, my gauge wildly off, and oh, so very ugly, nonetheless, I had something that was recognizably crochet when I put down my hook with 45 minutes to go until my deadline. And I've been plugging away at it ever since. As it turns out, crochet is a lot of fun. I like working with the hook, I like twirling it around and pulling it through, and I love the feeling of slowly and surely mastering a new skill.

The only problem is that crochet? Has almost no practical application to my life. Practically every crochet pattern I have ever seen has seemed to be tragically ugly. I cannot imagine a sweater made out of this stuff. I can all-too-easily imagine toilet paper covers and granny squares in hideous colour combinations. Doilies. When I was learning to crochet in a circle, I was all pleased with myself and my progress until I put it down, looked at it, and realised I had just basically made a doily. A doily in claret DK Cashsoft, so it was like, a nice doily, but a doily all the same. Me. Crocheting doilies. I should probably seek help.

Rightly or wrongly, crochet feels hopelessly naff to me, and yet, I cannot stop doing it. Those twirls and loops are just so goddamn much fun to make. It's addictive. I have ordered copies of every issue of Interweave Crochet I can find in the UK, in the hopes that there will be something in at least one of them that I actually want to crochet, and am willing to be seen wearing. That's how much fun this is. Crochet isn't a problem, I tell myself. I just need the right pattern, and then everything will be OK. The right pattern will save me. I have to believe that.

If I fail in my search, should you happen to come across me, wandering the aisles of Hobbycraft, clutching petrochemical yarn in my hands, please do me a favour and KILL ME.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

. . . And the Rest: A Gibbing Update

Despite evidence to the contrary, we have not forgotten our initial mission statement: To knit, to gib. To gib perchance to pull off a groin shot . . .

Where was I? Oh, gibbing. That we knit is obvious, but we do, in fact, gib. Sometimes we do both simultaneously, but, on the advice of council, we do not commit anything on that score to print. (Hint: Do NOT ask chicagowench how she single-handedly raised our nation's terror-level alert with nothing more than her knitting needles.)

But on the gibbing front. Just a week or so ago, I had only to say two short phrases to chicagowench ("Shooting at the walls of heartache" and "It was the HEEEEAAAAAT of the moment) and she was off to obtain the means of rocking '80s style. (Our short, collective review of Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s? Awesome costumes [should have had alternates], several great song choices, many, many more egregious holes in the catalog. No Night Ranger? I bloody well ask you!)

Chicagowench got her own back, though. There was brazen, shameless Wii flaunting on my recent visit Chez 'Wench. Before Herself had to leave town, she'd had me hooked on the bowling. By the next day, DevilKitty had lured me into golfing. (GOLFING?! Moi? It is the greatest understatement to say that I do not golf.)

But it was not until Tuesday, my head heavy with math, that I found my gibbing calling. The Lad had talked up Red Steel quite a lot, and I'm very big on wandering around and mindlessly killing (despite the fact that we've had an xBox 360 for almost 3 months, and I have yet to smash a painting over the head of a single zombie, thus preventing him from reaching beyond the border of the picture's frame). So in the down-time between math! and murfle swim lesson, DK and the Lad tried to de-spazz me sufficiently to play. The result was me finding my Native American/Hobbit/Pylean gibbing name: Twitching, Twirling, Reloading Princess of the Junk-Touching Clan.

See, I have some pretty serious gibbing affliction, probably attributable to my complete lack of art brain. This plays merry hell with my sense of spatial relationships. For example, in racing games, I cannot back up and turn at the same time. So trying to navigate with the remote + nunchuck is a bit of a personal nightmare (especially as I had not understood some instruction regarding this "aiming" thing). My first attempt at the game culminated in me spinning uncontrollably in place, shooting---among many other things, few of them the bastards shooting at me---the overhead lights. One of the very few kill shots I did manage to get off? Right to the groin. Take THAT, dirty pudendum-touching bus boy.

When I returned to the game, after much rocking, golfing, bowling, and the retirement of chicagowench for the evening. I managed to develop what I thought to be quite a stylish mode of play. This involved shooting away any and all shelter that the bad guys might take (no wall is safe from me!) and then emptying roughly 2 clips of automatic ammunition into each and every bad guy. I cut them in half. I blew off their heads by shooting up through the underside of their chins. And, yes, I shot them in the junk. Repeatedly. After a while, I realized that I'd been totally bogarting the gaming console, but then I realized that me playing Red Steel was the most fun that any three people could have. I'm sure my companions would have concurred, but they were too busy rolling around, crying, and pissing themselves in convulsions of envy for my m@d 5k1llz. Oh YEAH!

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Ravelry ate me alive, and the world is unfair

I fell down the rabbit hole of Ravelry. I am feeling the love, people; more important, I am so excited and jazzed about knitting again it's hilarious. Clearly, the DEA will be stepping in and scheduling Ravelry any day now. The clapotis which has been languishing? Suddenly done with the 10th repeat of the straightaway. The slogalong socks? Done. Already into the 3rd, 24 row repeat of a new pattern. Planning to knit myself in a reality based (aka, not the largest size possible) sweater. Banging out felted boxes.

Ravelry should so totally come with a black box warning.

As for the world being unfair, Matilda has been here since Sunday. Monday I had to fly out on business. As I was driving to the airport, I got a call from the LYS- their handmaiden shipment had come in and did I want to swing on by? I got back into town late yesterday, and Matilda So. Not. Fair.

Friday, August 03, 2007

La Bebita! Thank God You Are Here! You Must Leave Immediately!

So I've had a somewhat unusual request from a friend. A knitting request, people. Sheesh.

She wants me to mask her baby: not because her baby is hideously deformed (she's adorable!) and she wants to save her from a life on the carnie circuit (save her? Sign me up!); not because she has dreams of raising a luchadora (more's the pity).

No, the baby, at the tender age of 6 months as already decided that she is NOT TIRED thank you very much, even when her floppy, still-mostly-cartilaginous little limbs are drooping with weariness. Fortunately, her growing brain is still squishy, meaning she is easily tricked. When she's rubbing her eyes and fussing up a storm, but refuses to conk out, she's sure to fall for the old "blanket over the head" routine. But, blah blah blah suffocation, choking, DCFS, blah blah blah.

The blanket, in short, leads to rest for la bebita and anxiety for the parents. Initially, my pal had thought of sewing a sleep mask, but even with a velcro closure that the baby could easily pull open or push off, anything circumferential, in the mind of the new parent, has other unpleasant potentials.

So she came up with the idea of a "sleep hat" (this is the rare 1 in 1 billion baby that already consents to have things strapped on to its head pretty regularly). The sleep hat will, ideally, be a kind of demi-inverse-balaclava (so almost entirely, but not quite unlike a balaclava . . .). It'll have a snug-fitting back and sort of a dual-swag front, arching up in the middle to leave the tiny wee nosie free, but covering the eyes.

Really, I screw things up so regularly that I could probably just try earnestly to knit a cotton balaclava and end up with something about right, but I'll try putting a bit more thought into it at the outset. Stay tuned as Matilda attempts to make up a pattern, in all probability, bringing the world to an end in the process!