31 January 2007

My Two Cents On "The Sweater Curse"

Alternate Title:
I Married An Ape-Man!

What else am I supposed to think when the first completed Leo sleeve measures a solid 28 inches from end to end?? He's got to be at least one-eighth orangutan.

"Call me 'Pongo'."
(Sorry, that's a taxonomy joke.)

(So you don't become unduly frightened, I shall clarify that the sleeve is only 20" from wrist to armpit, but the sleeve cap bit is another 8 inches.)

The first of the mega sleeves is, as you can see, finished. I thought perhaps it would never end.

And now I fear the same might be true of the second. After two solid days of working on it, it is approximately 1/3 total length.

So as to this sweater curse business, which I mentioned in a recent post. First of all, my marriage is definitely not in jeopardy, but there is a little latent hostility floating around in regards to this sweater. Particularly, from his side, because it isn't finished yet; from my side, because I have ceased to enjoy working on it - which is why it isn't finished yet. It's a cyclical thing.

I have read many opinions on the sweater curse - whether it exists, is complete BS, what the possible explanations might be, testimonials of its dark power, etc. There is, in fact, a Wikipedia entry on it, which is well worth perusing. My favorite explanation can be found here - about the tendency of a knitter to pester and nag the recipient about the minutiae of sweater-knitting until the recipient realizes that the knitter is, in fact, a CrazyPerson. I had based my sweater-curse belief system around that theory, but now I'm beginning to have ideas of my own swirling around... I'm sure this does not apply in every case, but I believe it may be a viable hypothesis that I have not actually seen proposed before. Here goes.

A sweater is a large, involved, long-term type of project. And many men have - I won't say plain, and certainly not boring - but simple taste in sweaters. Which leads, in many cases, to a large, involved, long-term DULL and REPETITIVE project. For instance, while a very classic and attractive sweater, the Leo is pretty much continuous 5x3 ribbing, knit on size 3 and 4 needles. It gets a bit old.

This leads to a couple of things. First of all, a project like that ceases to be enjoyable around the time the first half of the body is done. The knitter's love for the recipient may carry the knitter through further, but the knitting itself is no longer interesting. After a while, even the color is unattractive. Disdain for the project starts to arise. Then, the knitter becomes tempted by other projects. A new issue of a knitting magazine comes out, and the knitter starts fantasizing about new patterns, with different, interesting features, like cables, or Fair Isle, or - well, not the same old ribbing. A friend's birthday is coming up, and the knitter "cheats" on the sweater to work on a scarf or pair of socks.

Then repercussions are felt in the relationship. The recipient sees the knitter casting on for other projects - possibly even "selfish" ones - while his sweater sits pitifully unfinished, and he is understandably hurt. Often the blame for the sweater-curse-breakup is placed on the recipient, but I believe that the knitter may start to transpose the negative feelings they hold toward the project onto the recipient himself. Likely without realizing they are doing so. The knitter feels oppressed by the project, and the recipient feels neglected when it is not finished in a timely manner. He starts making snide remarks about how it was supposed to be a Christmas present. She starts making excuses. Bitterness emerges. The relationship must be truly strong to survive something like this.

Of course, as far as my circumstances go, this is MASSIVE exaggeration. But I can see where it could happen. There will certainly be a huge wave of relief when it is done, though. Right now:

The rest of that sleeve, seaming the sleeves, and the neck. Ohhhh it sounds like a lot.

So I continue to knit. Leo, and nothing else until Leo is no more.

29 January 2007

Dad's Socks, Done

Ta da. A sock.

Modeled by my husband. Helpful guy that he is. I'll have to make a trip to the UPS store this week and send them on their way to Daddy.

Pattern: The decorative band is half of the "Rosemary and Sage" pattern from Stitchionary Vol. 3. The sock construction is, um, a basic sock. With a contrasting color heel and toe. (Check out Knitty's Socks 101 Tutorial if you have never made a sock before.) Size 1 and 3 needles, magic loop method (my new favorite thing).

Yarn: KnitPicks Essential sock yarn (75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon) in Navy, Dusk and Ash. Very nice stuff for a basic machine washable sock yarn - and yes, they have been put through my washer and dryer, and they came out exactly the same as they went in. Except smelling like dryer sheets.

Time spent: An embarrassing two weeks. Come on, it shouldn't take that long to make a pair of socks! Even if they are huge socks!

For the future, I must keep in mind that stranding doesn't stretch. I am extremely pleased with these socks except for the fact that they're rather difficult to get on past one's heel. Maybe (hope!) my dad's heel is slightly smaller than Brendon's, but I kinda doubt it. Once on the foot, they seem to fit B rather perfectly...

How do you solve this problem? I went up two needle sizes for the pattern section, and it certainly helped, but it's still not ideal. What am I doing wrong?

I'd say they look pretty good though.

Riley is helping. By shedding white hair all over them.

25 January 2007

Grand Intentions

First of all:

I love it when a swatch measures up! Particularly when making yarn substitutions. And I don't think I could be more in love with the texture. Or the little color flecks - not just grey and white, but bright pink and lilac too.

However, there are more important things to be discussed - and goals to be set.

First and foremost:

I will not purchase any more yarn until April.

Not because I have a ridiculous number of UFOs or a years-old stash that needs cleaning out. No, it's because I've been on a yarn shopping spree over the last month or so, and have spend wayyy too much money and purchased for, well, enough projects to last me until the spring.

To keep me on task, I'm even going to set up a tentative timeline.
My dad's socks shall be finished this weekend.
Brendon's Leo shall be finished (and blocked!) by Feb. 9.
My Central Park hoodie shall be finished by Mar. 2. (My birthday. Remember my mom bought me the yarn for a birthday present? I mean to make good on my part of that deal.)
After that's done, the next couple of weeks will be put toward a pair of argyle socks for B, and then, the knitting bag! It would be higher up on the list, but, I want to be able to wear the hoodie a couple of times before it gets scorchingly hot in Florida.

Sounds like April to me. And if not, I also have some cotton for a couple of summertime tops. Perhaps I can even push the no-yarn-buying rule back to May... but I'm not prepared to commit to that.

Also, I resolve that I will not knit another selfish stitch until the Leo is done. It's getting to be a sore subject around my house, that it isn't done yet. (Sweater curse, I believe in your black magic. And I may have a post in store for you.)

I have lots of other things I'll have to tackle in the next couple of months, though, that have nothing to do with knitting. I have the move, a major job hunt, and the task of filling up twice the square footage of my previous home - furniture and decorations will need to be purchased. Also, I've been strongly considering getting an online masters degree in Library & Information Science, so I'll be investigating programs and financial aid opportunities. All of this, and adjusting to a brand new city BY MYSELF. (That's right, pretty much as soon as we show up in Florida, Brendon's going to be gone with his new ship for approximately a month. At least, probably. Still don't know for sure. The Navy likes to keep you guessing like that. I really don't appreciate it.)

Now that I've written all of this down and put it "out there" as it were, I'll have to really commit to it, right? And if you see me straying, mentioning that I'm longing to go hit the LYS (knit-ins don't count, alright?) or starting my sweater before Brendon's is stitched together, I want you to yell at me, okay?? Help me out.

**Edited to add - I almost forgot another commitment I need to make. I will be losing 15 lbs or so. I don't actually know how much of the weight I lost last year has been regained since living in RI, because I don't have a scale with me here. But 15 should be plenty for fitting (easily) back into all those new pairs of pants that I got when I'd lost the weight. New England does not promote healthy eating habits, I'm afraid. Florida does, though. Especially since you have to walk around all summer practically naked. I hear it's mandatory there.**

24 January 2007

Daddy's Socks

Voila, my current project.

These socks mark the first time I've used three colors at once, in a non-striping type of situation. And, since it has been a learning type of project, I am coming out of it with important new knowledge: stranding takes away all of the stretch. I got halfway through the pattern bit before I realized that it would no longer go over my foot, and certainly wouldn't go over my father's. Oops. So I ripped back, and went up to size 3 needles for the colorwork (the rest is worked in size 1). I don't know if that's the normal way to accommodate for the lack of stretch; any other recommendations? It's still rather tight over the heel, but definitely better, and it fits well around the ankle, so... I dunno what to do.

Now for the funny story. I was working on these in Florida last week, in the hotel room, at the knit-in, and on the airplanes and so forth, originally intending to be finished by the time I got back to RI and my dad flew out for a long weekend visit - but I didn't even have the first one done. Oops. This left me working on the socks in his presence, while watching the playoffs on my couch, etc.

While doing this knitting in front of him, I didn't exactly mention what I was doing or who I was doing it for... and he never asked about it. He's used to me knitting and just accepts it as-is, I guess. Then I started giving "hints" - as I was getting near the toe, I started holding it up to his foot to compare. And he laughs and turns to my mom and says, "I'm a foot model!"


So when I finish that first sock, he's working on his laptop catching up on work email, and I drape the sock over the top of the computer. He says, "That sure is a big sock." To which I reply, "Well, my foot model has big feet." Still not quite getting it, he asks who they're for anyway, and then I finally tell him outright. At which point we all have a big hearty laugh and he feels a little silly.

In his defense, playoff games and work emails are quite distracting.

So he flies back home, and this is where it stands. Guess I'll be putting them in the mail...

23 January 2007

My Very Own

In less than two weeks, I will be living here.

So we may not be homeowners just yet, but we are moving up in the world: renting a real, actual house - no apartment, no townhouse, no condo, no duplex, but a REAL HOUSE, on a real cul-de-sac, with a yard and a deck and a garage and and and -

(And I will be purchasing some exercise equipment. Man, that's an unflattering picture.)

So, yes, the Jacksonville trip's mission was completed successfully. In addition, I made some new friends! Since finding a house went so smoothly, my mom and I had some extra time on our hands, and (since she's a knitter too) we were able to hit up the knit-in at KnitWitz, where I had the pleasure of spending a few hours knitting and chatting with several lovely ladies, including a couple of members of a knitting group that I'll be joining. I'm so excited!

We visited a second LYS as well, plus two bead stores, and then ANOTHER yarn/bead-store-in-one once we got back to RI. Many skeins and beads were purchased between us. Most of my loot was left at the Jax house - a strategic move on my part, to hopefully keep me focused on B's damned Leo sweater for the time being. (The sweater didn't go to FL with me; instead I had a pair of socks for my dad to work on, and they will most certainly be the subject of my next post.) I did bring one single ball of this back with me:

Have I mentioned I'm a sucker for pink? Purple, too. Girly colors, you know. I had picked out a nice neutral shade, a nice rich taupey color, but my mom talked me into the pink. This little guy (and his 11 brothers and sisters who were left in the Sunshine State) will be my new Central Park hoodie. My mom bought the yarn as a "birthday present" for me; my birthday is at the beginning of March, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that the sweater will be finished by then.

If so, I might even be able to wear it once or twice this year. Possibly not though - it hit 80 degrees while we were down there. Sheesh. I can't even imagine what July will be like. And then we came back to Newport and this business:

Seriously. B and I are here for a total of just under 3 months, and the ONE SINGLE morning with snow on the ground has to be the very same morning that B has his final written exam, and I have to drive my parents to the airport 20 miles away (in my truck with it's worn-out tires). Amazingly, no problems, but still - the audacity of the weather. Can you believe it?! Of all the nerve...

13 January 2007

Off to Warmer Climes

Well, I'm headed to Jacksonville to go look at rental houses. Fly tomorrow morning, there until Friday, then after that my parents will be staying with us in Newport for a couple of days.

Why is this relevant to a knitting blog?

Because, if there is actually anybody out there (other than real-life friends of mine that use this to keep up with me) who actually reads on a regular basis, be prepared for no new blog entries for the next week and a half. Sorry. I hope I don't break any hearts.

I will actually have my laptop in Florida with me, so if I have anything especially relevant to blog about, or an emergency blog type situation, you might actually hear from me. But really, I expect to stay pretty busy.

See ya in a week and a half!

12 January 2007

BFF Socks

Since I know the recipient (my mom) is currently boarding her plane to come here and therefore posting this won't ruin the surprise, here it is. The latest FO. Finished this morning.

Pattern: Cookie A.'s BFF Socks. Appropriate since my mom pretty much fills that role.

Yarn: J. Knits Superwash Sock yarn in "Columbus" colorway (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, hand-dyed).

Time Spent: Started last Thursday, finished this morning = approximately a week.

Notes: A very pleasant knitting experience. The pattern was interesting enough that I didn't get bored, but not so complicated as to prohibit multi-tasking. The yarn, while a touch on the expensive side ($22 for a 4 oz skein at my LYS), is gorgeous, machine washable, and pretty friendly to work with - except for the nightmare of a time I had trying to wind it into a ball with no swift or ballwinder. (This is one of the first issues I'll address upon moving.)

Also noteworthy is that this was my first pair of socks worked with the "Magic Loop" method, and I'm loving that.

And I think they turned out pretty well, too.

06 January 2007

YarnQuest and Miscellaneous

There's been a lot going on yarn-wise this past week, and since I've been a bit remiss in my blogging, there is plenty to catch up on.

Tuesday, my darling husband was sweet enough to accompany me on "YarnQuest: Rhode Island" - wherein we hit 4 yarn stores in the greater Providence area in about two hours. Well, alright, technically it was only three stores because we couldn't find the fourth. We found where it was supposed to be, and saw the sign for it in front of the shopping center, but we circled and circled and it was just not there. Still, I know I just lauded B a mere week or so ago for being awesome and patient and supportive of my obsession, but... props to him once more. I hope you knitters out in KnitBlogLand have good supportive significant others like I do.

Anyhow, between the trip and the KnitPicks order that arrived the following day, I have lots to keep me busy.

The haul.

Let's see, there's a bunch of manly colored sock yarn, several balls of lavender KnitPicks 100% wool, 2 skeins of Kureyon, a ball of Berroco Pure Merino in black (not pictured: ditto that in red - by the time I got my camera out, it was already being worked into the Ferrari scarf, since, as you remember, that was too short), and assorted needles and blocking pins.

I didn't find "the yarn" for my Central Park hoodie, but I guess I have enough projects to keep myself occupied until the right stuff comes along. The Ferrari scarf is done (again), and one of these days I'll make a matching hat.

Then there's this beast, which may never be done...


Seam? What seam?

Half a sleeve.

And because, as good as my intentions may be, I just can't seem to focus on one project at a time, there's this:

Artsy shot only, since this is still top-secret.

AND, as if that's not enough, I can't stop thinking about my plans for my bag, even though I know I can't make that much progress on it until we move at the end of the month and I get my sewing machine back. But I'm really looking forward to it. I mean, look at this yarn combo.

Actually, the picture doesn't really do justice to the colors together, so you'll have to trust that it's awesome. Also, there you can kind of see the results of my polymer clay experimentations. There are a few other bits and pieces too, I haven't decided yet what I'm using.

I couldn't resist a bit of swatching.

01 January 2007

Looking Back

Feeling reflective on New Year's Day is probably considered a massive cliche, but really, who can help it? It's practically a cultural obligation.

Not much of the information from my college Classical history classes has really stuck with me, but one fascinating tidbit I remember is this: that the Ancient Greeks' concept of time was remarkably different from the way we think of time these days. We modern folks tend to imagine that we're moving forward through time, facing the future, with the past retreating behind us. Contrarily, in the Greek mind, the future comes from behind us while we stand facing the past. If you can manage to separate yourself from the way you're used to thinking of such things, the Greek idea actually makes a lot of sense. History is visible, the future is unseen.

Either way, time is a human fabrication, subjective and pretty much meaningless on a grand scale. But the Greek view works really well with the reflective mood of the New Year - who can say what '07 is going to bring? All I can do with certainty is to look back over what I've accomplished this year. With that in mind, and Dove's New Year's post as further inspiration, I bring you My 2006 Knitting Sum-Up.

Yarn-wise, well, it's been a pretty good year. Like Dove, and probably a lot of you out there, the year was full of firsts. I started knitting around the late summer of '05 after a couple years of being an occasional crocheter - so there was LOTS to learn in '06. First socks, first sweater, first cables, first intarsia, first trip to a LYS, first discovery of people like Debbie Stoller, Yarn Harlot, and the massive network of KnitBlogLand. Et cetera. Basically, 2006 was a journey from a beginner knitting rectangles back and forth, to an intermediate one not afraid of shaping or pattern jargon or intricate cables or anything else you might throw my way. Also, this year marked the birth of my blog. I'm having kind of a hard time reaching all the way back to my projects last winter, or really before I started tracking them on the blog, but as best I recall here's my big list of the year's completed projects (in no particular order):
  • a couple of novelty yarn scarves, because that's how they suck you into learning to knit in the first place
  • a handful of slightly more respectable scarves: 2 crocheted lacy ones, a knitted tubular one, and then the Ferrari scarf
  • 2 knitted helmet liners for the Marines in Afghanistan
  • 2 bags - a felted green monster for my mom and a little crocheted wristlet purse
  • 5 hats
  • 3 pairs of Fetching Convertible Mittens
  • one amigurumi kitty baby toy
  • one squid cat toy
  • 3 completed sweaters - Kimono, Jolly Roger, and one beast of a thing that I wore once and likely never again
  • one dog sweater
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • one headband
And I've seamed together the front and back of B's Leo. There are a few other UFO's that I may or may not pick up again. Out of everything, I am proudest of the Kimono Sweater, though each FO is an accomplishment. Looking back on my intended knitting, the list I posted in October, I feel pretty good about what I've done, even if not everything was finished on schedule. I'm a little disappointed not to have Leo finished yet, but... soon. Anything else on that list that remains undone was a conscious decision.

2007... Dare I attempt to predict the knitting future?

My project list is pretty short at the moment. After Leo's done, I have a handful of socks I've already bought/ordered yarn for, and I still really want to make myself a Central Park hoodie, and then my sari silk and felted wool project bag... That alone should get me pretty close to the spring. After that I foresee a lot of sleeveless tops and cotton yarn in my Floridian future. Next winter, possibly a couple more sweaters. All in all, the upcoming year's project plans are still pretty nebulous, for now.

Goals for '07 include more experimentation in colorwork and fancy cables, perhaps some more involved original pattern-composing, and hopefully delving into lace knitting.

That's it for reflections. Happy New Year to everyone, and good luck in your own knitting goals this year!