life

Travel Food

After more years than I want to count, I’m finally taking a true and proper vacation. Going Greyhound to Arizona to see my BFF, Tina. She of the life scarf.

Friends since the 5th grade.

If my readership is like most people I’ve told about this trip, about 3/4 of you will make a polite face and wonder why I’m taking the bus instead of a plane, and about 1/4 of you will think it sounds cool and fun.

For the dissenting majority, here’s why I’m taking the bus:

  1. I have more time than money. A bus trip is more than half the price of a flight, including the ticket and any shuttles I’d have to take.
  2. I don’t like to fly. I ain’t skeered; just not interested.
  3. One of my favorite bloggers, James Altucher, says that he wants his life to resemble a book of stories rather than a textbook. That’s how I’ve always thought, but his description puts it best. A long bus trip is going to create many more stories than a boring old plane ride.
  4. When I think about escaping the relentless Texas heat and moving somewhere that supports my wooly wardrobe, I look west. This trip will turn the map into the territory.
  5. And this quote, which I wrote in one of my journals many years ago (and which explains why I’ll do just about anything to earn money, save getting a 9-5):

It is easy to make life and career decisions based solely on financial concerns and to conform your life to the contours of whatever job will pay the most money. That is what most of us Americans are culturally programmed to do. However, if you put the money factor aside, shift your mental frame of reference, and instead analyze your life in terms of the plot of a novel, the results of your analysis will most likely change. Imagine that you are on a long train ride and must choose one of two books to read in order to pass the time: the first is a novel whose main character is an office worker who is essentially working to pay his monthly cable bill; the second is about someone who decides to travel in South America (and of course encounters various setbacks in the process), but who pushes beyond the boundaries of conventional American life. Which book would you pick up to read? Indeed, which of the two characters would you rather be? |-Mark Thompson-|

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto the subject of this post, which is travel food, which for a knitter is: knitting.

The trip out there is 25+ hours and the trip back home is 28+, assuming, of course, that the buses run according to schedule.

I waited until the second-to-last minute to figure out what to take, and came up with two projects that are portable, almost mindless, and will be easy to pick up and put down in case I need to stop knitting to take photos of jackrabbits in the desert, or in case Keanu Reeves boards the bus in El Paso and he wants to talk.

The first is the Baby Kimono by Kristin Spurkland from Interweave Knits Summer 2005.

(c)Interweave Knits

It calls for DK weight yarn, which I’m always sorry I don’t have more of in my stash. So I’m using worsted weight yarn, some Berocco Comfort of which I have just enough* for this little jacket done entirely in garter stitch.

I cast on last night and knit a few rows to get started. My gauge doesn’t match, but eh, if I finish it, and if a baby ever wears it, it probably won’t matter.

No baby will be harmed in the making of this kimono.

If I tire of knitting every row, I can throw in some purling with my second project—Citron by Hilary Smith Callis from Knitty Winter 2009.

(c)Hilary Smith Callis

The pattern calls for lace weight yarn, but I’m using a fingering weight like I did the first time I knit it. I used Knit Picks Comfort in blackberry.

I loved it the first time.

This time, it’s hollyberry.

The stockinette adventure begins.

Catch y’all on the flip side.


*I should have just enough yarn, but with the way my luck goes sometimes…

To Ponder: See above.

High-Low-Yo

My gambling friends will know that high-low-yo is a one-roll bet in craps. You say it as one word as you fling a chip into the center of the table, but you’re making three bets: one bet on the highest roll of the dice (twelve, aka, boxcars or midnight), one bet on the lowest roll (two, aka, aces or snake eyes (which no legit craps player calls it ever)), and one bet on eleven.

Never happens.

Never happens when you want it to and always when you don’t.

It’s a stupid bet* because crap dice (the high-low part) rarely come up (the payout odds are 30:1). Unless, of course, a hot shooter has been hitting numbers for an hour and you start feeling like you can’t lose so you make unnecessarily high bets on the come out rolls. That’s when those evil twins ride up on their Harleys, trailing their dangerous cousin, ace-deuce, and the croupier’s call changes from, “Winner; pay the line,” to “Crap dice; line away.” But did you cover your high line bet with a craps bet? No. You were flush and cocky, thinking that today’s the day you were going to make up for all those other days.

You already know that I gambled on the Hermosa Tee I was knitting up for my sister-in-law, and ran out of yarn half-way through the front.

Just my luck.

I should have covered that bet by ordering more yarn from Knit Picks, but what are the odds that they would send me the same dye lot as the original yarn? At least 50:1.**

So I did the equivalent of walking away from the craps table. I bound off (binded off?) and turned it into a high-low asymmetrical hem.

This tee is so tiny, I had to photograph it on my half-mannequin.

Yo.


*I agree: all bets are stupid.

**Don’t forget we’re talking about me and my luck, so let’s amend those odds to 100:1.

To Ponder: The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil. |-Heywood Hale Broun-|

Nothing for Miles

When I first started this blog, I had tons of stuff to say. I’ve been knitting seriously since high school, designing for a few years, and have had strong thoughts, beliefs, and opinions since birth. I have cultivated the skill of being able to talk to anyone about anything—whether it be a friend’s metal clayworking class or my brother’s new pistol or a librarian’s suddenly overpriced neighborhood.

I doubted I would ever run out of things to say about knitting, and if I did, I had other things to write about, like yoga and stupid stuff in the news. And if that ran out, new situations would come into my life, like a schizophrenic neighbor who has covered her house in foil as a shield against the radio frequency waves and “energy balls” I’m hurling at her.

But lately, I can’t think of a single thing to say. Not just about knitting, but about anything.

Well, I can think of stuff to say, but it’s boring. Like recently I noticed that four of the last 10 patterns I’ve published have used a lime green yarn, which seems impossible because I don’t even like that color.

Not even a picture can make this interesting.

This blog post is so boring, I can’t believe I spent time on it, and I’ll probably delete it later. It doesn’t even have a point.

Sorry.


To Ponder: I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else. |-Kurt Cobain-|

Counting My Blessings: March 2015

My car is running great, my yoga classes are filling with students, and the water continues to run in my little red cabin. This month, I’m specifically grateful for these things:

1. My sister had surgery to remove a tumor on the inside of her skull, and not only was the surgery a success and the doctors let her go home the next day, they didn’t shave her head. That’s a blessing for her, but I was blessed that we didn’t have to do as my brother suggested, which is shave our heads in solidarity.

2. I love being self-employed, and am always looking for new ways to earn money that will work with my yoga schedule and still allow me to design knitwear. It looks like house- and pet-sitting is going to be one of those ways. I pet-sat for my friend Kate in February, and casually mentioned it in another yoga class, and someone asked if I did that, and I thought, well, yes, I guess I do.

I had my second gig this month, sitting two sweet Schnauzers, living in a house with this view from the back porch:

Surrounded by beauty.

3. As mentioned in my last post, I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. The cost was only $30 for two full weekends of classroom instruction and sailing.

Rigging the J-22.

Catching the wind.

I don’t really get sailing, and I certainly can’t afford it as a hobby, but I feel blessed to have the time and money to take the class and to spend a few days with people who know everything there is to know about sailing.

4. Mountain laurels are in bloom.

Making my world smell lovely.

What are you grateful for lately?

p.s. I’m wearing The Sweater in the sailing photos (taken by my friend Sylvie).

To Ponder: Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. |-Howard Thurman-|

How a Giant Ball of Yarn Came Out of a Sailing Class

The first thing that happened is that I read a post on the Classic Elite blog about making a magic ball of yarn.

The idea is to make your own variegated yarn by tying different yarns together. They suggest that you get a bunch of friends together who bring their yarn leftovers and odd balls—they called it a “magic ball party”—and swap out yarns.

Introverts don’t need parties or believe in magic, but I liked the idea.

The second thing that happened is that I had bunches of lengths of yarn from the zillion projects I’ve knit over the past few months. I snip them off, then pile them on the table next to my knitting loveseat with the intention of walking them over to my kitchen trash can at some point.*

The third thing that happened is that I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. I’m not very good at sailing, so we’ll skip over that part.

After all the talk of sheets and lines, jibs and jibes, and tacks and booms, we learned how to tie a few knots—a cleat knot, a figure eight, a bowline, and a square knot. I was especially interested in the last one because you can join two balls of yarn using a square knot.

Well, most people can join two balls of yarn that way. I tried a few times, but could never get the hang of it, so I usually do a spit splice.

After the class, though, I’m a master square knot tyer (tie-er?).

And 1+2+3=

200g of yarn.

After crossing and re-crossing my left and right brains while designing my Icelandic sweater, I needed something mindless to knit, so I picked up some US9 needles, cast on 50 stitches, and started the most mindless of all knitting: a garter stitch scarf.

I hope this looks better when I’m finished.

I’ll have to leave the ends poking out for the simple reason that there’s no way I’m going to weave them all in.


*See? Sometimes good things come from procrastination.

To Ponder: We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life. |-Joshua Glenn Clark-|

Counting My Blessings: February 2015

I never forget that heat, running water, health, clothes, and yarn are daily blessings, but my life is blessed in so many specific ways.

1. A customer from the farmer’s market—a gal who has bought a few things from me to give as gifts and who bought my Voussoir hat for herself—came up to me saying that she had lost her hat. She hoped I had another one in the same color, but I didn’t. I had some of the same yarn, however, and told her I would knit another one for her. I don’t normally do custom work, but she told me, “I love that hat and wear it all the time.”

Aw. How could I refuse her after a sweet compliment like that?

2. I have friends, who, after six months of listening to me fret about my psychotic neighbor, will still listen to me.

Why do paranoid people think that foil helps?

Some friends—the ones with money who think I should have just moved already, as if it were that easy—make a flippant comment and change the subject, but some understand the daily torture I endure. They can’t do anything, but they listen, and that is a true blessing.

3. A couple of weeks ago, I got a lead on a house out here in a really nice neighborhood that I wouldn’t be able to afford except that the owner was asking half the tax value of the house. It’s about 1,400 square-feet with a 650-sf detached garage on .61 acres surrounded by an 8′ deer-proof chain link fence. It wasn’t listed with a realtor, but the owner is the cousin of a friend.

That upper deck used to have a view of a lake until the trees grew.

It needed work, but nothing insurmountable, and it was livable in the meantime, and I was blessed by so many friends offering help and advice:

  • Angie looked at the house with me and agreed that it was awesome, and said she would help me update the inside.
  • Letty, a friend I’ve known since fifth grade, who has a serious career and rather a lot of money, was willing to let me borrow some so I could buy and move into this house before I sold my current one.

Different high schools couldn’t break up these freshmen.

  • Tina said she would loan me the money if she had it.
  • My brother, a man of infinite knowledge and talent, sent dozens of emails helping me find a way to make this work, and even offered to fix the roof and electric issues.
  • Kate offered her husband Eric, a full-time home inspector, to look at the house with a professional eye. They both came out on Valentine’s Day and Eric spent two hours going over everything. And he didn’t charge me! He’s getting a handknit hat, though.

There were many reasons I decided not to get the house, but the main ones were that a) I’m supremely lazy and would drag my feet on the DIY projects, and b) I wasn’t keen on the long-term costs of owning a property that’s three times bigger than the one I have now.

I was blessed a second time by everyone understanding my decision.

4. Kale is cheap and healthy, and dehydrates into The Best kale chip snack.

5. My Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts pattern was published in Knit Picks 2015 Spring Accessories Collection.

6. When I emailed my friend Sarah asking if I could live with her for a couple or three months in Tacoma, she wrote back, “Well of course!!” Just like that.

7. I have enough money to pay my bills, and a little extra to save.

What are you grateful for these days?

To Ponder: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other as though everything is a miracle. |-Albert Einstein-|

Inspired by Art

Jared Flood recently posted about the inspiration for his Agnes pullover.

(c) Jared Flood

He says that this design was influenced by and named after the artist Agnes Martin, and he goes into how and why he chose the neutral color palette and how the color palette of other artists inspired the high-contrast version.

I like a little Mondrian here and there, but I’m mostly not into Modernist art because of its self-conscious aspect, which is what makes it (and people) boring. Sort of like a tire wrapped around an Angora goat that I learned about in an art survey class I took as an adult a few years ago.

Robert Rauschenburg – Monogram – 1955-1959

After rolling my eyes at that pollution, the art world was redeemed by the work of Adolf Wölfli, one of the most famous Art Brut artists, if not the most famous, in the world.

You may not like his style, but you can’t deny his genius.

He worked with colored pencils and any piece of paper he could get his digits on. Mostly newspaper because he spent much of his adult life in the Waldau Mental Asylum in Bern, Switzerland, where he died in 1930 of intestinal cancer.

Inspired and inspiring.

The detail, the color, the raw exposure. There is so much going on in his pieces.* What must his thoughts have been like?

Jared’s post reminded me that I once had an idea to design something** based on Wölfli’s art.

The idea scared me then, and it sort of scares me now, but as I was recently reminded by a friend while discussing another project: all you have to do is take the next step.

Okay, next step is to pull out my collection of Wölfli books.

I can do that.


*They remind me of another small obsession I have with Joan Steiner’s Look-a-Like books. She does a much better job than Robert Rauschenberg of using found objects to create intricate dioramas where nothing is what it appears to be. Look closely and you’ll see that sourdough bread loaves are mountains, a grenade is a pot-bellied stove, playing cards and cinnamon sticks make kitchen chairs, and a dollar bill is grandma’s apron.

Not just for kids.

I have spent many an hour marveling at her creativity, patience, and precision.

**Whatever I create, you can be sure I’ll name it something more vigorous than Agnes.

To Ponder: Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. |-Rumi-|

Changing the Name of My Blog

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to A Texas Girl Sucks, and here’s why:

I made a ridiculous rookie mistake while knitting The Sweater.

Everything I’ve submitted lately has been rejected.

My truck stopped running for no reason at all.

Heck, I even ordered something from Amazon to be delivered 2nd day just so I could give my UPS guy the Christmas gift I bought for him weeks ago, and the package was delivered by FedEx.

Anyone else feel like it’s a good thing breathing is an automatic body process?

To Ponder: The real problem is most of us are idiots. We just like to think we’re not idiots because we use sh*t a bunch of smart people figured out. But how many of us understand that sh*t? If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an email? |-Joe Rogan-|