Still Life, With Cats

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Sticks and string and everything in between

I am a knitter. And I have been one for nearly nine years. Wow. Sometimes it feels like it’s only been a few years since I started. It took me a little digging, but I eventually figured out that I’ve been knitting since January of 2003, when I asked a knitting friend if she would show me how. My mom says she showed all of us, back when we were very small, but I honestly don’t remember it. I have this very vague recollection of sitting with one of the grandmothers, doing something with yarn, but I’ve no idea if it was knitting or crochet.

It took me a little bit to get the hang of how to hold the needles, and I freely admit that I am a lazy knitter – I prop one needle against myself when I knit. I never figured out quite how to hold both needles away from me, without losing hold of one of them, and even though I know it’d be a really handy skill to eventually learn, I quickly lose patience every time I try. I’m a fairly quick knitter, and propping works well for me. I may never be able to knit while walking, or standing, but I’m okay with that.

I love this craft. I really, really do. There’s something amazingly rewarding about turning skeins of yarn into something beautiful, or even just something practical. I love doing cables – the more intricate the better. I love knitting lace, even though I am most decidedly *not* a lace wearer. And I am just as happy noodling along on a pair of plain stockinette socks as I am hunched over a complicated lace pattern that requires absolute silence, all my concentration, and usually a fair bit of swearing under my breath.

It has definitely had its rewards. I have taken second place twice for my lace – once at the California State Fair; once at the Sacramento county fair. I have knit a LOT of socks, so it is rare that I wear anything but handknit socks these days, and there is a pile of knit afghans (done in machine-washable acrylic because hello, I live with five little shedding, hairball-hacking cats). I do test knitting on a regular basis for two toy designers, and have made a number of shop samples for various local yarn stores, ranging from hats to lace. And four years ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at doing my own designs, just for fun. I set myself a goal – one published pattern a year (I could do more if I wanted, but the whole point of setting such a low goal was to keep it stress free; I’m doing this for fun, not to make a living). And every single year I have met that goal.

This year I managed to squeak it in under the wire, but here’s my published pattern for 2011 – the Embossed Scarf.

I’m pretty happy with this one – I have a LOT of sock yarn in my stash, so finding ways to turn it into something other than socks has become somewhat of a priority lately, and this pattern was the result.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Click, click

Pattern: Gentlemen’s Sock – from Knitting Vintage Socks. Made for Richard. This is sock pair #2 completed for the year (yes, I am aware that I am 3 pairs behind schedule).

The results of a massive book purge: 8 grocery sacks, and 3 boxes, stuffed with books. This filled the back of the Prius completely, yet is only a small fraction of what we still own. We dropped them off at the Friends of the Library used book store this morning, and returned with only 6 ‘new’ ones (one of which is being sent off to someone else).

Stacking herb garden. There are three basils on the bottom. Naturally those are the ones the snails are decimating. Stupid snails (I hope you like Sluggo).

Tiny baby cucumbers. There’s about half a dozen on the plant so far.

Baby tomatoes. We put in twice as many tomatoes this year. I am hoping that I do not regret this.

Clickety click

So, I was right – the 100,000 mile check-up did include another ‘ouch’ for my car. Turns out a cracked drive belt can be expensive. Ugh. But I am consoling myself that, all things considered, the ‘major’ repairs on this car have been few and far between, so it isn’t as bad as it could have been. We’ll see if I can keep it going for another 100,000 miles (although I suspect it’ll take even longer than the first 100,000, since we do a lot less driving than we did when we first got it).

Aside from the wince-inducing auto maintenance, though, the week’s been a decent one. The box arrived for Kathy’s Take and Replace Swap, and even though I need more lace yarn and/or more sock yarn like I need another overly caffeinated turbo-cat (aka Rupert), I could not help myself, and took out these:

That’s two skeins of Knit Picks Shimmer in an absolutely gorgeous red, and a ball of self-patterning sock yarn. I have a laceweight drawer and a sockweight drawer in the paint-spattered old dresser I use for yarn storage, and they are both so full that it is almost impossible to stuff any more yarn into them, but…in the face of shiny new yarn, I am weak. At least with a Take-and-Replace swap, yarn in = yarn out, so total number of yarn skeins in the house didn’t change.

On the plus side, however, last night I did finish a pair of socks (plain stockinette ones, in purple Trekking XL), thereby fulfilling the Sock-Completion-Goal for January. And earlier this week, I handed a few sock pattern books to Richard and said ‘pick the ones you like’, so (using some of the sock yarn that ‘accidentally’ fell into my shopping basket at a yarn-shop-closing event a few weekends ago – ahem), Thursday night, I cast on for a new pair. I’m not holding my breath I’ll get these done by end of month, because Richard has large feet and I have other things I also need to be knitting in the meantime, but it at least gets me an early start for February.

Oh, and speaking of February, since she posted it to her blog, I can show you the thing I was frantically trying to finish up last weekend.

This is Coo and Coy, and you can get the pattern to make your own little duo here (just in time for Valentine’s Day!).