Sonnet Stitches

Knitting, mostly. With occasional kvetching, lots of adventures, gratuitous cat photos and a healthy appreciation for the absurd.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Adventures in brioche

So I've finished mountains of things, all of them gifts, all of them at the last minute, and none of them photographed...

...except this one:

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I decided I wanted to learn to do two-color brioche stitch, so I dug into a back issue of Interweave Knits (Winter 2005). My goal was to make a reversible scarf, as the alternative is constant fiddling to make sure the scarf's (ahem) back side isn't hanging out for all the world to see. Unfortunately, I discovered that the instructions, while very spiffy and easy to follow, were based on instructions for a two-color sweater and thus, not reversible. Observe:

Smooth decrease on the right side:

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Nasty decrease on the wrong side:

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Well. We weren't going to have any of that.

So, I did some finagling, involving alternately 1)a safety pin in a CC stitch hanging out in mid-air on row one of the three-row decrease to be picked up on the next row or 2)when I was lazy, undoing a decrease stitch on row two of the three-row decrease, releasing the trapped CC stitch from its shackles, and putting the MC and yarnover back together.

Aha! Success!

Right side:

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Wrong side:

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Tada! Reversible two-color brioche.

I am certain someone has already invented it with 1)a better method and 2)more detailed instructions, so now I am on a quest to find it so I can better explain the process to the other people at the yarn shop who were mildly fascinated.

In the meantime, though, I have a modest feeling of accomplishment after engineering a better stitch than the one I was given. I also have a shiny red and black reversible scarf in Lamb's Pride Bulky (ignore the tuft of Jo-hair hanging in front of the lens next to the mo-hair, ha ha):

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... AND I have an extremely cute scarf model who was nice enough to humor me when I decided to chase him with the camera at 1 a.m.:

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I think that means I win.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Approaching from the north

Signposts and signspotting. Small miracles and unexplained events. Mysticism and scoffing. Wondering and skepticism. It's a new year today and I am in a new place. Did I used to consider myself a writer? When?

Moving, even if you move on purpose, includes a grief, a letting go, a mourning. I thought this time would be all excitement and discovery and adventure. Every morning I wake up full of stress about the job, even though the job itself isn't that stressful and my coworkers seem very positive. I have never been secure enough in my self-esteem to handle being new, being ignorant, without hearing a buzzing internal monologue: Dumb. Stupid. Failure. Idiot. Go back where you came from, stick your head under a rock and wait for birds to light on your bum. And then there are issues about being in the work force for what seems like forever, and then feeling like I am still at the bottom of the totem pole. I know it's only humiliating if I consider it humiliating, because this is an opportunity, a ladder with rungs, unlike the bottomless dead end I left. Still, on bad days, anxious days, I consider it humiliating because I'm used to looking at myself that way. Also, being new, work still feels like work. The coworkers all seem like very nice people, but it takes time to forge alliances. There's no ace reporter with 30 stuffed animals and aliens in kilts covering her desk, no photographers yelling at me to march over here RIGHT NOW, no matter what it is I'm doing, to look at this ridiculous video clip they found on the Web. I have a stuffed prairie dog and a devil with a cape in a box, and I'm afraid that somehow displaying them will not give off the proper professional vibe. Instead I have a goodbye card, covered in well-wishes I have a hard time articulating appreciation for, tacked on the wall of my new cubicle. Onward and upward.

The spouse also has no place to lay his head, no place to unpack and stow the box of oddities, pictures and personal things labeled "office," and that is taking its toll on him as well... the fact that he is working constantly, seven days a week, with no place to hang his shingle and mark this patch of cubicle "MINE." We moved here in part because a new job offered me better hours, offered us a better chance of spending time together, having evenings to take long walks and conjure up stories about some unseen future like newlyweds are supposed to have and we never did. But Temp Assignment No. 1's schedule is noon to 9 p.m. for three months. It's a role reversal; these days it's me climbing, fully dressed, over the cat and onto the edge of the bed as the sun makes a valiant effort to hike up the hill across the street and look in our window. It's me kissing forehead, nose, cheeks, whispering, "Good morning and goodbye." Me falling asleep on the couch in my pajama pants and faded T-shirt with a book, waiting up for him to tromp up the stairs with his mileage log and his empty lunch bag at the end of the night. And that does not count the days when we get up at the same time because the part-time job, the Safety Net In Case of Temp Job Gaps, has required him to grace it with his presence for four or five hours before trading name tags and security passes.

I knit. I found a yarn shop, seconds from his part-time job. There are yarn shops everywhere; I haven't been to half of them. This one makes me very happy, even though they stopped hiring part-timers about a week before I moved here. Bad timing. It's nice there; I'm having a purple adventure at the moment in honor of my boss's birthday, which is Thursday. For Christmas she bought herself a purple suede jacket, a sparkly pink top. This will match. I made two scarves, a hat, almost finished a pair of socks, gave them all away and forgot to take pictures. They were nice. My sister-in-law's: ice-blue bulky baby alpaca, soft as kitten fur, in cables that subtly announce affection: xoxoxo. With a seed stitch border. And a hat that matches, because I had finished one skein of yarn, was talking to Fae at the coffee shop back home all day that day, felt like making a hat with a cabled border, and did, trying it on every so often to make sure it would fit an actual head.

We joined a gym. I go to spinning class, ride an exercise bike until my calves burn, lift weights and imagine that something is happening to make my chest and thighs defy gravity. Gyms are expensive, but we got a special, I bought us the memberships for a Christmas present. Thought that the boy would be less stressed if he swam. He is, when he has time. He complains that his schedule is out of whack when he works late. It makes him stay up, makes him sleep late, all he does is sleep and work, how is it that the shift is still eight hours but eats up his day? I am impervious to such nonsense, remind him that I worked 1-10 or worse for all the years he knew me, that I adjusted, I woke up, put on sneakers, went to the gym, came home, took a shower, made lunch, went to work, went to bed. He can get up at 8 a.m. when I leave for work, find his swim trunks, his track shoes, the gym is blocks away. He will. The transition took me a long time, which is why my Old Self was so fat. One reason. Then, once he adjusts, the temp job will be over, maybe there will be another one with a new schedule. Maybe (oh, dare we hope) there will be a fixed peg of a job in its place, something on which to hang his hand-knit hats and empty the contents of the box labeled "work." Maybe.

The apartment has tiny closets, ridiculously tiny, made even worse by the fact that the last house had closets one could live in. I am still unpacking, I will always be unpacking and there is nowhere to put anything. The place had a closet where one could discreetly fold closed the doors and hide the washer and dryer behind, but even that was too small. The doors are unscrewed, taken apart, folded up underneath the bed. Our washer and dryer hang slightly out into the hallway like a beer belly over faded blue jeans. I'd like to put shelves above it, but there are rules against Big Holes in the wall.

I have no friends yet. I have Several Nice Acquaintances. The spouse has a cousin who is worth about twice his weight in gold. He helped us move the heavy things up the stairs to the apartment, cursed us for having so much junk, was three hours late to work putting my car back together two days before Christmas after it broke down and I was stranded. He likes ethnic food and museums, we go down the street to have lunch in India, Morocco, Greece, Italy. We went to a Slavic church once, without the cousin, and would go back except it's far away and the boy works Sunday mornings. We go to a suburb church instead; it's close by, it's enormous, it feels just as foreign. I e-mail my former priest, I e-mail my former coworkers, I e-mail my former knitting pals, hoping what I am doing is not e-mailing former friends. I feel uprooted. I feel transient. Talk of my former residence as "back home," although that isn't true, either. Remind myself that we are stubborn square pegs who make our way by hammering, day after day, at the round holes like human battering rams until they give way at the corners and we manage a crude sort of fit.