Sunday, October 26, 2008

Totally Out of Control

I had a pretty ugly bike tip-over Saturday while riding to get our "new car" (remember the car shown a month or so ago? Yes? Well, it failed inspection and had to go back to the dealer three times because the "Check Engine" light was on. Luckily in Massachusetts we have a Lemon Law, which means that used cars must pass inspection; if not, it is the dealer's responsibility to fix any problems that come up within the first month of ownership). While at a stop light, in front of a mess of traffic, I leaned over to roll up my left pant leg that was catching on my water bottle cage, lost my balance, and brought myself and my bike crashing to the ground.

I was tired, not feeling well, not up for any of it. Here I am behind 777 Auto, the dealership that sold us New Mulva, with that "my husband is a jerk for suggesting we ride our bikes to get the car" look.

In other news, Fiber is taking over the house. This was my side of the couch Sunday morning.

Ouch. Note the handknit socks, however. It looks a lot worse than this now.

FIBAH! I'm doing a lot of spinning, and am also creating a few super-bulky scarves and cowls from roving for a holiday show and sale at a new gallery and shop called Bead & Fiber. Is there a market out there for such things? The owner of Bead & Fiber seems to think so. Why not.

The "Check Engine" light has been off for two days now. Think positive thoughts for us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Checks and Balances

Problem? Fury over the McCain "Health Care Plan." When Cindy McCain goes to a walk-in clinic, increased use of which is one of McCain's "solution" to the problem, for her pelvic exam, I'll be more inclined to listen. Not that I would agree, but I might listen a little bit. Or not.

Solution? Soothing sock knitting. Here's another Christmas recipient pair, from the Bloody Mary pattern (free!) and made in the discontinued KnitPicks Sock Garden, color Pansy.

When I left my State job a few years ago, I had to take COBRA benefits for a few months, and paid $450 a month for them. That's the monthly payment cost for a single person on a reasonable HMO, not one of the "Cadillac" health plans McCain says are the ones that cost more than $5,000 a year PER FAMILY. I worked in health care (first for the State, then as a hospital administrator) and have never, in my life, heard of a health plan that cost $5,000 per year per family. Triple that and I might listen. For a minute.

Solution? Spinning! Some of the brown fleece that was such a wonderful gift from my parents' neighbor, Ann. My spinning is getting more and more even and becoming a more and more calming experience. I see more of it in the near future, despite knitting deadlines. Besides, my right hand is cramping up from all my working for The Man.

Then I would think of my Dud and wonder what would happen if he lost his job. He's a paraplegic. His medical costs are through the roof. I absolutley could not imagine health plans "competing" to cover him, or even covering him at all. So I guess I wouldn't listen, unless the McCain's started getting their check-ups at walk-in clinics (probably wouldn't have caught that melanoma so quickly), raise the tax credit they suggest to three times the amount, and demostrate how someone in a wheelchair can get insurance for $5,000 a year. Or any insurance at all.


I splurged. Meet my new yarn for the next few months. Color group 1, extra small. I had to consult one of my friends with exceptional taste to reassure me about my choice... I don't tend toward pastels, but these are rich, multi-faced colors, even though they are lighter than my usual choices. I think it will make for more adventurous knitting.

Hope all of you are coping, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heavy on the photos this time.

It's DONE!

And it looks fantastic.

Chris has the sleeves pushed up a bit because it was about 75 degrees in the sun on Saturday at the Flea Market we visited. He kept the sweater on until I told him that I wouldn't be offended if he took it off, it was a bit warm. So sweet. He's earned himself another sweater in the after-Christmas knitting future.

Details? Check out Ravelry.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The design experience I haven't talked about until now because it was upsetting

The Chris sweater is so close to finished I hate to put it down for the evening, but, thanks to that very sweater (knit in shetland at a tight gauge with all sorts of pattern action), as well as a bunch of submission swatch knitting under deadlines and a busy week spent primarily assembling and formatting large documents at the Job (think scrolling and clicking), my right wrist is killing me.

So I thought I'd take a moment to organize things here and talk about a pattern I wrote that I haven't mentioned on the blog but may be familiar to those of you on Ravelry. Meet the Tiny Brocade Cardigan, knit for the Smart Knitter Newsletter's August issue.

I think of this as the anti-Rowan photo. It's all about the sweater and not at all about the styling. It was taken in haste... those are the weeds outside my Job. No one asked what exactly was up with my hair that day in all the comments I got, and it is truly a horror.

The shot without the head is much better. By the way, that's a slip-stitch pattern, you only use one color at a time.

If you've clicked on that Smart Knitter link, you'll see that there isn't much there. I was contacted by the assistant editor of the newsletter, who sent me a sample issue, which I liked. When I investigated further, I found several other clever patterns on Ravelry that had been published in this venue (including three from Tikru, whose work is impeccable and inventive as anything), so I decided to work with them.

The August newsletter came out, I received it electronically, and I posted the pattern to Ravelry. And people wanted the pattern. A lot of people. A. LOT. And the Smart Knitter was not particularly helpful, so I spent a lot of time feeling really sad that people were having trouble getting my pattern and sending messages to the Smart Knitter people about the desire for my pattern and the troubles people were having, and didn't hear back. I still feel sad when I think about it, but it taught me to carefully consider where I publish my work and also consider my goals for my designs and designing in general. And that goal is not to make a full-time living, or even a part-time living, or to be famous in a tiny niche way (I already had that... well, not "famous," but known... in my little academic field when that was my gig), but rather to give others access to my ideas, challenge myself to write out and size patterns, and make a little extra money to, well, finance my knitting.

Fortunately, I did not sign over copyright to The Smart Knitter. I was paid a small amount for the pattern, but rights were not transferred. So to make things better, I have self-published the pattern, which is available now as a PDF for $5. After the Smart Knitter incident, I wanted to make it free, but I know that many knitters paid $10 for the newsletter in which it was published, so I decided to do what, after many nights of serious contemplation, I considered the most fair thing.

So here it is. I will post it to my sidebar soon, along with more organized links to all my downloads and free patterns.

I said this in a few forums on Ravelry, and will state it again here: If you paid for the Smart Knitter and did not receive the issue with my pattern, please email me at and I will email you the PDF. For free.

P.S. Tiny Brocade is made of Cotton Ease, so it holds it shape better than 100% cotton and is a total cheap-o project. Hooray!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Things to do while waiting to vote

Handspun! I'm part of the Spunky Eclectic monthly fiber club, though you would not know it from my lack of spinning. I spun July's shipment, "Celebration" (on the left) as well as another shipment, the name of which was lost. Two skeins of two-ply barber-pole goodness at heavy worsted weight, about 160 yards each.

Right now the plan is to spin up a bunch of this lovely fluffy brown top that I've already prepped and use this funky barber-pole stuff as accents on some sort of simple cardigan.

Mitten! Made a mitten yesterday, the last in a series of three single mittens for a commission. It's a Lopi Mitten, made of Lopi, from the book Folk Mittens.

Socks! Rib and Cable socks by Nancy Bush from Interweave Knits Fall 2005 in Kureyon Sock. Christmas knitting is well underway.

And check this out for happy laughs, not "I'm so scared of where this country could be going" laughs. Happy laughs!