Monday, February 6, 2017

Music That Crawls Into Your Bones, The Sounds of Knitting

As promised, a playlist to fuel the sounds of knitting.  If you are looking for rated G playlists, "these are not the songs you are looking for, move along."  They're not full of filth and irreverence, but a few song lyrics might make you turn your head and do a, what now?  For your listening pleasure:

The songs are varied and not at all homogeneous.  I have been fortunate in my life to have been exposed to multitudes of different places and people and my lack of roots is probably most reflected in my music choices.  I have moved 12+ times, lived in 8+ cities in 6 states and was weaned on a careful diet of Johnny Cash, the Oakridge Boys, Patsy Cline, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis, the Big Bopper, etc.  Mom is country and Dad was city but they met in the middle at folk.  So in terms of nature, my love of guttural, gets in your bones and haunts you music is straight up from my parents.  If you've not heard Elvis' In the Ghetto or Simon & Garfunkel's anything, you are not living.  Thanks Mom & Dad!  If I had to pick a knitting publication that fit this mood, I would check out Knitting Traditions or Jane Austen Knits.  Earthy, period work yet somehow still timeless.

Nurture. Nurture.  What about the nurture.  Weeeelll, let's blame my 80s penchant on my birthdate, my 90s grunge on my days emulating Dead Poets Society in the suburbs of Chicago the first half of high school and my Caribbean, reggae vein on my second half of high school in the much more diverse suburbs of Atlanta.  And my love of jazz and blues, the standards, Michael Buble, Sinatra, Jonny Lang, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Nina Simone, well that is just simply taste.  Knitting publications that would rock this music might be Twist Collective, Knitscene, or a pattern from Drops.

You will find a lack of my punk/guitar pulse, also from my Chicago days, which would normally feature the likes of Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, Muse, Sex Pistols, The Dead Milkmen, etc. This music I reserve for angry house cleaning, getting ready to head out for a night of revelry, or having the "right" kind of company over, if ya know what I mean *wink wink*.    For rebellious knitting, I recommend, oh, ANYTHING from Anna Zilboorg (she's 83!!), Son of Stitch n Bitch Underground Knitwear or my absolute fave for steampunk patterns, Needles and Artifice.

Hopefully this will cushion your mental musings whilst you knit and maybe inspire you to build some playlists of your own for work, play, just general life things.  I would love to hear playlists that are out there, feel free to leave a link to your public playlist in the comments down below. Happy Listening!

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year, New Me. BS, Knitting Blasphemy and Mobile Apps

Ah, the New Year.  The time for gyms to burgeon with hopefuls, bookstores to see an increase in self help sales, and for the general populace to reboot their good intentions. For those who actually achieve these goals, I applaud you.  My guess is these folks are goal setters, list makers, and achievers in general.  I, however, hold no such self delusions.  I am still the same mouth breathing, knuckle dragging, fumbling through life person I was on December 31st. Bully for me.

If I really want to get some shiz done, for example finishing knitting projects, I don't need to set out all these new things to learn and do, I just need to change HOW I do things currently.  Do the same things, but different, ya ken?

Why do I have so many unfinished knitting projects?  Probably the same reasons anyone does.  I have knitting ADHD and want to feel all the new yarns and get shiny wide eyes at all the pretty pictures that accompany the patterns. I too can look like a Vogue knitting model if I just make what she's wearing, right?  No, Paula, NO.  You will NEVER be 5'10" and weigh 120lbs.  Heck you'll never weigh 120 lbs at your current height unless you get sick, so let's avoid that.  How about quit looking at all the new yarns and patterns, like, just don't start new projects?  Mind blown.

No new projects.  Check.  So, what do you do while you actually knit?  If you're anything like me, you probably put on your fave show, get situated in your cushy chair with a comfort beverage, and click away at the needles.  In my case my fave show is usually binge watching Netflix for when I didn't bother to watch when it was airing live and 1 show turns into like, well, TOO many and then it's like midnight and I'm frogging because I forgot to yo or m1L three rows back during the big chase scene.  Maybe, just MAYBE, I won't need to frog if I'm not half watching something or actually kinda focusing on my work.  BLASPHEMY!  So replace TV in the background?  Hint:   next week's blog might include a knitting playlist.

In addition to half-arse binge watching Netflix, my phone or tablet is always handy because I do digital patterns in an effort to not actually kill my planet.  This leads to email notifications, app notifications and general mayhem and sensory overload.  The only fix I can think of here is to ignore said notifications and actually apply discipline to my attention span.  I do NOT need to go check that email immediately for the Bath & Body Works Clearance sale, I smell just fine!  There are actually some decent knitting apps out there where you can import your pattern, check for yarn gauge, keep inventory of your needles and all sorts of handy gizmos.  Some of my faves, I'm an Android user so if anyone has recommendations for Apple or Windows phones, leave a comment down below and I will add them!

Stash2Go - app for you Ravelers out there:

Knitting Stash - Very simple app for keeping track of needles and hooks, nice little counter feature:

KnittingCalc - Simple app for calculating gauge when doing yarn substitutions, only does calcs but does them right!

So in short, don't start new projects, quit watching tv while I knit, and filter out what I don't need.  Really, if you look at it, it's just filtering period - projects, tv, ignoring emails, etc.  Off I go to get my filter on.......

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Mayhem

Hello Interwebs.  So I have literally not posted in a year.  Why Paula, why would you do that when you were doing so good and you were on a roll?  Here, in my best impression of Albrecht Dürer is my response to 2016:
The breakdown:

December 2015:  My nonsuperhero daytime persona job rolled out a new system, of which I am a department of one in my office that I support.  Now, when I say new system, I mean like NO ONE knew how to use it, how to pull data out of it, how to put data in it, how to analyze or report on said data which no one could input or extract.  I take 1 extra day off for Christmas and promptly lose my mind and work 60+ hour weeks.  This continues for about 2 months.  My son gets his acceptance letter from his college and we rejoice.  A path has been set.

January 2016:  Allan Rickman and David Bowie die.  A harbinger of sorrows to come.

March 2016:  People can now use the system and I realize, I have an only child graduating high school in two months.  I begin the hot pursuit of graduation pictures, grad party venues, nailing down the guest list for said graduation and laying ground rules for attending graduation. Meanwhile we are doing college visits, accepting scholarship packages, and trying to get through the emotional roller coaster that is the highs of accomplishments and lows of leaving the familiar.  I only have one shot at doing this right, it's not like I have a spare.  In May the biggest snafu would be the squabble with my sister about the color of the cups holding the plasticware at the party.  Her husband intercedes and  I win.  Bully!

April 2016:  Prince dies.  I cry over making pancakes the next morning.  I assure myself this has nothing to do with my son finishing his high school career and starting his first job next month.  I really do love me some Prince.  Purple Rain Foreva!

June 2016:  Graduation is over.  My A/C goes out the day after everyone leaves and I have to replace the entire system.  Lovely.  We are culling the summer sales for college gear and preparing for our trip to Sea Base next month in the Bahamas. I need to drop more weight and feign interest in actual exercise.  It's too damn hot.  Anton Yelchin dies.  I dread seeing the new Star Trek and I'm just really getting pissed.

July 2016:  Sea Base with scouts in the Bahamas.  The islands are lovely, the captain is a character and epitomizes what I always envisioned as an old salt dog.  I would not have been the least surprised if we woke up one morning to find ourselves transported from his racing boat to a Man-O-War and he was brandishing a cutlass in one hand and sporting a crusty hook on the other.  I sleep restlessly on deck, spy nurse sharks, master my Go Pro, fall in love with cracked conch and the easy smiles of the natives and am cranky for a week after we get home because I don't wake up to being surrounded by the sea.  When I die someday my son is reminded once again to dump my ashes in the transatlantic current or I will find a way to haunt his ass.

August 2016: I drop my only son and child off at college.  I manage to hold my shiz together until I get in the car to drive away and am comforted by a group of students sitting on a front porch waving at me as they watch me drive watery eyed away.  I can't cry because I'm driving and if I cry I can't see and if I can't see then I can't drive.  Sometimes the requirements of my life keep it basic and manageable.  Gene Wilder dies.  RIP my dear Willy Wonka.

September 2016:  I settle into a steady rhythm of nothing.  Just nothing.  No knitting, no socializing, no sleeping, no waking, just a big vast stretch of nothing.  I call it "adjusting".

October 2016:  Son comes home for a mid-term break and he is so busy visiting friends we actually only spend 1 night hanging out  and 1 day together.  I'll take it.  He got his own ride home and own ride back.  I am reminded life is an ebb and flow and I need to get my flow on.  Breathing again.  Prep for Thanksgiving I am hosting next month.

November 2016:  I host Thanksgiving and make it a low carb event for the health issues in the family. There are no rolls.  It is chaos.  We do the Turkey Trot, survive a white elephant gift exchange with no arrests, and it is pronounced with grudging acknowledgement that it is the healthiest Thanksgiving we've ever had.  I am just happy to see my family and have some time off with my son.  He goes back to school and I know I will see him again in 3 weeks.  Leonard Cohen dies and we elect, well, it's just sub optimal.  The election seriously messes with some good karma happening in my life.  Eff you 2016.

December 2016:  We have a mini rollout at work and the first two weeks find me doing a solid week of training in two states.  I also attend two craft fairs in between, which I have been knitting for on all the sleepless nights since Thanksgiving and before and sell out almost all of my inventory of hats and mitts.  I even sell a springerle ornament and a snowman bracelet.  I manage to get my packages and cards mailed to my immediate family on time and get at least 3 kinds of cookies baked before my son comes home for the month break.  We discover he has gained the freshmen whatever and scramble to exchange early Christmas presents so he has some dress clothes to wear to meet up with family and friends over the holidays.  Carrie Fisher dies and shortly after her mother Debbie Reynolds.  SERIOUSLY 2016 JUST EFF THE EFF OFF.  I realize I haven't blogged ONCE the whole year.

So here we are.  2017. Let us begin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

FABULOUS Ruffly Goodness

It was Thursday night, November 12th and it was the witching hour. And no one in their right mind would be up arguing with a neon green sash about how it's red edges should ruffle but me.  Hard battles were fought, wills clashed but in the end I won. Some things I learned about ruffles:

1.  I hate them.
2.  They grow like a fungus on the edge of your work. They start out small and in their ruffly demanding ways require more and more, and more, stitches.  Curse them and all their houses.
3.  I really hate them
4.  You cannot necessarily control how the ruffles wax and wane or fold or wave or whatever they decide to do. This is dictated by your yarn choice and number of initial stitches and tension of your gauge and the wind blowing and unicorns over the rainbow and monks in Tibet and mystical forces beyond your ken
5.  Do not ruffle past your bedtime.  This *might* be influencing my opinion.  Just a little.
6.  Unless you're creating something for the very young, the very old, or the very gaudy I highly question their importance in the universe.  See Example A

Example A

Now that all the hate is out of the way, I did find some good resources should you lose your mind and decide this is the way to go.  And to be fair, and less bitter, they are very cute on dresses for BABIES or rhumba pants for BABIES or ugly sweater prizes when ugly sweaters are weighed and measured and they're worth determined in yarn.  So if you're in the mood to inflict yarn mutilation, please check out the links below for ruffly goodness:

Friday, November 6, 2015

I have added a Calendar page to the blog, hooray!  I'm really excited to have events start lining up and having my work seen outside my, well, anywhere.  I have a rich history of being a closet poetess, writer, and crafter.  My sophomore year  I finally got the courage to submit a poem to the school literary publication, anonymously, and actually attended the meeting and saw it get approved by the committee to publish.  In a twist of irony, they lost or damaged the disc the poetry was on and they didn't know who submitted it so it was lost in the annals of time.  Oh Ruby in the rocking chair, your legacy was never known.

Yes, I said disc.  Correct.  I am not a spring chicken.  Moving on.

**Disclaimer:  The ugly sweater contest itself will not feature any sweaters knit by me.  I don't do ugly.  They will, however, be truly atrocious I have no doubt.**

So, click on over to the calendar page and check out the events coming up and come check out what's going on!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Steampunk, a series of torture devices?

It is now October 31st and I can't believe tomorrow is already November.  It feels like it finally, it's actually chilly and I might have to drag my feeble plants in tonight.  I also need to sauce, butter, bake, or otherwise mutilate the fruits of our apple picking labors last weekend before the bag runs amuck. I've been grossly preoccupied with my Halloween costume this month and while I look hella awesome, my house is in dire straights and in need of some domestication.

This year for Halloween I went steampunk. I get one of two reactions - awesome or WHAT is that?!?!? 

Dr. Livingston, I presume?

Steampunk is a fantasy genre in a Victorian world where electricity and industrialization haven't quite taken hold and machines operate on steam and clockworks, explorers battle over air and sea in airships and great galleons over discoveries, and inventors gleefully violate humanity with their inane creations. It's kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Indiana Jones meets Studio Ghibli.  To be steampunk you need corsets, metal, goggles, leather, boots, and a gun to defend your person and property. The devil is in the detail!

Steampunk accessories
Steampunk Trinkets

Neck Corset
You Shall Not Pass!
I made most of the accessories for my costume and purchased the garments. I was inspired by a few films and fell in love with the knitting world of Needles and Artifice.  I made the Master and Commander cap to add a pop of color to my black and brown theme and was able to incorporate some beaded fingerless gloves I made a few years back.   It turns out my costume was a series of torture devices with 4" heels that I could stab a man through the heart with, a corset that kept me from indulging in Halloween sweets and a neck corset of my own design that made, well, everything awkward.

Goggles from Verillas
Occuli and apertures

I did get my feet wet in leather work though and tapped into my jewelry skills on the neck corset, watch fob and wrist cuffs. I can now rivet, eyelet, and mold leather. I did snaps but I would not count those as a "can do" yet.  My biggest takeaways?  Keep the rawhide mallet away from the dogs and set 30 minutes aside to use the restroom while in costume!

Steampunk wrist cuffs
For Personal Edification

Check out these businesses if you're putting together steampunk, goth, larp, or otherwise funky gear!

Yandy - corset
Hips and Curves - peasant top
Springfield Leather - neck and cuffs hardware
Hardware Elf - neck hardware
Hades Footware - boots
Dark Knight Armory - belt, clips and belt bottle
Moonhoar - gun holster
Verillas - goggles

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall, Ad infinitum?

It's been a minute since I posted.  Why, might you ask?  Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I had to travel for work.  Let's just say it involved about 1569 miles, 1 bloodmoon, 1 new car starter, 1 repaired tire, 1 sick child, a week out of town for work immediately followed by a weekend out of town for a family visit, and to top it all off with a toy surprise, a vet checkup that ended with bladder infection meds and xrays for 1 of my dogs.  Due to the chaos I did not get to my yarn stops I had planned and I was just happy to be here when it was all said and done.

And speaking of happy, it is fall!  Well, officially, according to the calendar.  According to the weather apparently I live in FL for 12 hours of the day and Chicago for the other 12.  We call it St Louis, a magical land of confusion and mysticism.  I have, however, had the air off for at least two weeks, nevermind the fact the house gets down into the sixties at night and in the mid 70s during the day.  We're not here during the day, it's fine, really.

In celebration of fall and all things foliage, I present this month's knitting design Leaf River.

Leaf River metallic knit scarf
Leaf River a la Patons Metallic
The idea was sparked by seeing many a leaf motif knitted in one direction and wanting a pattern where the leaves flowed in both directions and went endlessly on.  To many, fall signifies the end of summer and vacations.  For me, it is the beginning of crispy outdoor walks and hot chocolate oatmeal mornings and a new buzz of activity around the school year and holidays.  I wanted my design to be ad infinitum knittable and entirely up to the knitter when it would end, or begin.  To me, nothing ever really ends, it just changes.  The pattern can be knit in any weight yarn, as long or as short as you want it to be, pieced together with other knitted "scarves" to create blankets or wall hangings,  I can't wait to see how others use this pattern!  Enjoy!