Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fall, Froggin', F-bombs, & F.O.'s

Get this: I actually put off writing a blog for so long, that Blogger blocked my blog and I had to put in a request to keep it from being deleted.

I don’t have much of an excuse for not writing, other than just getting busy doing other stuff. Personal Stuff which is not appropriate for blogging. If you want to know what that is, you'll just have to come to SnB and pull up a chair like everyone else haha.

But here’s some of idea of what I got into during the months I didn’t write: Rocktober rocked really hard this year; I went camping in Red River Gorge for 6 days/5 nights, and also got in a day of hiking in Bernheim Forest at the start of November. Both months didn't involve a lot of knitting. Which is kinda lame, since Rocktober was when I started knitting - and what a great year its been. I mean check it out everyone, I am an established knitter. I have a freakin’ blog about my knitting for crying out loud (yeah, sorry - it will get a lot more posts in the future!). I won’t say accomplished, but yes, established – and I give a most hearty shout out to all my comrades in yarn at the Knit Nook, Lou.KY for all their help, advice, and wit - here’s to many many more yards of yarn together!

Rocktober - 6 days/5 nights in the Gorge. Fun times.

A view from Bernheim, early Nov. - nice, eh?

Eh, December might as well of not happened. Moving on.

Since my last blog, I have finished the worsted weight socks, and while working on them, gave some thought to the reactions I get about my knitting. Some like it, most don’t care, but generally, everyone points out that I am a man who knits. Just for the record, Balls of Yarn isn’t a “man’s knitting blog” – it is a “knitting blog”. The blog used to be called “Ballistic Knitter”, but I changed the name to Balls of Yarn because my friend D and I had a laugh about it. Yeah. And now I’m stuck with it since Blogger won’t let me have the old name back. Yes, we are stuck with the hairy testicle reference URL for my blog… sorry, world.

But hey, back on topic: being a guy makes no difference in how a knit or purl turns out... But this is an ironic argument for me to make. Feminists have used a similar argument to justify wanting to fly jets, shoot their enemies, and go into space - you know, typical "man" stuff; women can do it just as well, so why shouldn't they? Here's the irony: I ascribe to the school of thought which thinks is should be men crashing into mountain sides, running through foreign slop catching bullets, and die screaming in the black cold silent vacuum of space - call me old fashioned for not thinking gender roles are completely outdated... It's not that I want to put women in a box, so much as them keep them from ending up in a pine one. Moving on.

I admit it – what other people thought about a man knitting – it bothered me at first, and that’s why I didn’t knit much of anywhere other than the Nook. But I also had this in the back of my mind: I went to Ethiopia a few years back, and while there, I paid a weaver to make a gabbi for me. The weaver supported his large family working a simple loom made of tree limbs. He worked with native hand spun cotton to create a sturdy fabric which was then sewn together to make the traditional uni-sex clothing (the only difference, the women's had more 'color'). The weaver was skilled, and extremely proud of his work. In all the areas I visited around Lake Tana, I never saw a woman working a loom; women cooked, carried stacks of wood larger than themselves, fetched water, bartered and haggled in the market, and washed the clothes in hippo and croc infested waters - but weaving was apparently men’s work; it made an impression on me. Evidently. Now, wood is freakin' heavy, and hippos and crocs are lethal, but somehow, this was the woman's work. Go figure. I think the guys did the weaving because, really, its grueling work - and come to think of it, a good source of income. Income is power, and... well, okay, I guess I might as well stop. Culture, mores, gender roles - I figure knitting fits into all that somehow, but I don't know enough to explain it, much less understand it.

Another reason I picked up knitting: it fits. I’m good with my hands; I like to make ‘stuff’; I have a humongous utilitarian streak. Breaking any sort of convention had nothing to do with it - gender or otherwise. Nowadays, though, I have to admit that knitting is unconventional for anyone to do... I can see the appeal knitting might have for all the DIY’ers out there wantin’ to buck the consumer culture, and even for those seeking to connect with something traditional (ie. something older than themselves)… I don't think that's really my reason, though. My friend Deb (who gave me my first knitting instruction) told me the old adage a long time ago, “He who cuts his own wood is twice warmed” – aaaand that’s about as complex as it gets for me.

Recently, I completed a few hats. I made another (larger) butterfly hat. I also knitted an Epitome hat (a Tonya Wagner Shiz Knit design), and it turned out great. I used Malabrigo, double stranded, and manoman is that some great yarn – and it only took one ball! The Epitome was given away to a friend already – so I don’t have a pic of it. I may just make another.

I still have a copper sock on DPs, which needs to get finished. When, I have no idea.

Here’s the worsted weight Cascade 220 socks I finally finished. You have no idea how warm these things are. All of Sept – Nov with no heat in the house? Not a problem. I knit them on US 3s.

Yeah, they are as comfy as they look. I plan to perfect the fit on my next pair.

I also started a Habitat (Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed design) - I'm about 1/3 of the way done.

And my roomie had been hankering for a handknit scarf, so I got some Rowan and knocked it out in about 3 days – it was part of my Thanksgiving knitting. It was a simple knit one row/knit-purl one row, then alternate the 'wrong' side when I switched colors.

the roomie's scarf

I had purchased some yarn to make a jacket for my brother’s baby (who isn’t here yet. The kid was a complete surprise, so, its not like I had to think hard about what to make). But then my friend Deb sent me a pic of Aurdrey Jane (5 months), and the idea of a pink/green striped jacket for her took over. Seriously, knitting for red headed babies - if you haven't done it, go find one, and knit something - you'll know what I mean.

I have a confession to make. In the course of making the baby jacket for sweet Audrey Jane, I had to frog. Twice. The first time, I’d been about 3 hours into it, before I began questioning what was happening. I reread the pattern (EZ’s and the another version I had of it), and not finding an oversight, just carried on for another 4 hours or so. And then I realized it – I wasn’t knitting every 2nd row. So, I bit the bullet, and frogged it. When I started again, I kept going for about 8 hours, and then realized I had been making a different mistake – I hadn’t been moving my marker, so… yeah. I dropped a few F-bombs, and said some things about EZ's pattern which I absolutely entirely wholeheartedly regret. So many regrets.

But don’t sweat it – I finished it a few weeks before Christmas, found just the right buttons for it, and mailed it to Audrey Jane's very appreciative parents (they get it!). And get this: the pattern is awesome and I really like it a lot. Yeah, yeah, nevermind my stupidity earlier. Once I mailed the first, I immediately started the other one for my brother's kid, due in a few more months.

Begin with a bit of inspiration... quote EZ, "ALL GARTER STITCH. All in ONE PIECE." - Knit Workshop pg.100 up the seam with a crochet hook...

...add some buttons....

...insert baby, aaaaannnd...


Next time I completely bomb a project, I'll try not to F-bomb the project - I could end up loving that project and getting tons of thanks for it. I'll just begin rippin’. I'll try not to cuss – it does not help; I will only say things I'll regret. Frogging – its not just the balm, its the cure.

Which makes me recall a favorite book of mine, Emily Upham’s Revenge, or How Deadwood Dick Saved the Banker’s Neice: a Massachusetts Adventure. I loved this book as a kid. It was a smartly crass hybrid of a moralistic children’s tale, and a cheap Western dime novel, and it was hilarious. Here's a poem from the book, “Don’t Tell a Lie Dear Children:”

Don’t tell a lie, dear children,
No matter what you do,
Own up and be a hero,
Right, honest, brave and true
The rod but hurts the body,
While lies destroy the soul,
So, don’t tell a lie, dear children,
Keep your spirit pure and whole

You have no idea how hard I laughed when I first read this as a gradeschooler. I'd recite the poem to myself whenever I needed a laugh. Good times.

Next blog: the Habitat (!), another Baby Surprise (!!), and will I ever finish the copper socks (!?!)? Stay tuned!