As promised

The Koigu square, in progress:

Koigu square

The nubbly texture of the Koigu base yarn gives this little section a different feel from the rest of the blanket (which is mostly smoother sock yarns). Also, since I was worried about running out of yarn, I made the pieces of this square a lot smaller. This bit is done now, and I think I’ll go ahead and continue the square with “full size” strips. Alternatively, I could make four smaller squares. (Or two smaller squares and one long rectangular “square.”) Estimating how much yarn I have is the hardest part about this project; often I will hold off on using a particular yarn because I don’t want to blend it with something halfway through.

I haven’t successfully finished any of my obligation knitting, but I did cast on for a pair of plain socks.

Finishing stuff

Not commissions yet, but here’s some stuff I’ve finished and put on the Rav but managed not to chat about on the blog.

I finished a Sackboy a while back:

Sackboy side

I finished the Clapotis and took some fuzzy pictures:

Clapotis, done

Next up, pictures of the new Koigu blanket square!

Projects!

Last time I knitted up a sample for the shop, I had a moment while talking to the Mr. about stuff I needed to do. I think he suggested something innocuous, like going to the cinema, and I was rattling off my commitments for the week. (We try to hit matinées so my inner accountant doesn’t cry quite as hard.) As I listed shifts and private lessons, I sort of trailed off with “I also kind of need to work on the Saroyan, and the sleeves for Gloriosa aren’t going to knit themselves…”

It was then that I realized that I seem to always have something to work on. Even my hobbies are packed to the brim with commitments. During my postgrad, I couldn’t really relax because there was always work to be done and I never stopped worrying about it if I wasn’t actively doing it. And now? It’s not science, but there’s definitely stuff I’m worrying about unless I’m doing it — sample knits, test knits, commissions, designs to write up. I think this is the real reason I stopped blogging; the only thing on my mind was work, and it’s dull to read about those kinds of concerns.

So, what has me not blogging this week? The Sackboys are within a long evening of completion, I think. I am working on a small alteration of a baby jumper for a customer, which I’ll finish today. Then there’s the jumper commission, for which I have yarn and plans.

The big news is that I got my knitting machines on Sunday (mad thanks to R who drove me all over the wilds of Dublin to get it, E who gave us tea afterwards, and of course, the H family who destashed their knitting machines to me). Monday was unsuitable for working on them; 10 hour days don’t really prime the mind for heavy-duty learning. So yesterday I woke up bright and early and spent the entire day setting things up, reading manuals, and knitting test swatches.

Today? I swatch for the Big Jumper. Once I have a workable swatch, I can draw up a pattern. Then comes the big job of figuring out how to execute that plan with the machine.

I am still dangling the two TLE sock club projects out in front of me as treats for when I finish the Sackboys, but I may cast on for a pair of plain socks to knit during the game tonight. Just to remind me why I like handknitting.

Paddy’s Day

I worked, came home, wrote up some stuff, headed out to Chez Savage for the traditional Irish meal of beer-can chicken, snap peas, and roasties; drank most of a bottle of wine, then came home. I do like my low-key Paddy’s Day celebrations, though one of these days I will need to actually see the parade.

I did not finish the Sackboys. Chances are looking grim for them tonight as well. At this rate, I will never get to cast on for socks.

My rock and roll lifestyle

Okay, so it’s not all that glamorous. The past few days have been a little busy for me, in good ways, in fun ways, and in stressful ways.

Leprecon was fantastic, even though my work schedule interfered with any actual gaming other than the pub quiz. (We came in second place, but it was a good and fun pub quiz which is the important thing.) I finally made it to Goldsmith hall Sunday evening long enough to do a circuit around the main room then head across the street for a quick dinner with friends. After that I broke from the Leprecon party and hashed out the future of my weekly game, then met up with Himself for the walk home.

As far as cons go, I know nothing about how well it went or whether it was a Good Con. My part was essentially attending a party that went on for three nights. I love going out with my friends, but there’s something extra special about the con setup where everyone in an extended social circle is in the same pub, and you can drift from group to group. I know none of this is news to people who have been here all their lives, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Dublin con (9 years!).

I’ve been hired for an interesting knitting commission, the kind where it needs to be done right and fast, not clever, and that may lead to subsequent work if it meets expectations. It’s for a reasonably high-profile person for whom image matters, so I’m taking it seriously and fretting. It reminds me uncomfortably of postgrad, except I am less convinced of my ability. I think this lack of confidence will spur me to superhuman achievements. It’s done so before.

Luckily, I’m being generously gifted with two knitting machines (unrelated to the commission), and hopefully I will have the wool and machines in time to figure out how to use them and get the material churned out sooner rather than later. If everything goes perfectly, it won’t take long at all. If it doesn’t…I will look very stupid.

Crossposted at Cobweb.

Becoming embarrassing

I fancy myself a professional knitter at this point, as it is the only profession I am currently paid to participate in. The biggest difference between doing something for a living and doing it as a hobby is that you don’t get to choose when you do it. If you want to continue being paid, you have to deliver. When it’s your hobby there are sometimes pressures (Christmas, anyone?) but you don’t risk your livelihood.

I know this on a deep, almost cellular level. As a result, the bag of Sackboy pieces hiding in the bottom of my closet have been weighing heavier and heavier on my mind. I fell into the same trap that ensnares many knitters — I knitted up all the bits, started a little of the finishing, then stalled out. I know this is an issue with toys, both for me and for knitters in general. We often don’t like finishing. Unlike demon cardigans or jumpers, toys can easily involve more finishing than knitting. So even though I knew it might be an issue, I still promised a friend I would knit him three Sackboys in exchange for some reasonable compensation.

Having left the things to marinate in the closet for six months, it seems a little cheeky to ask for anything other than forgiveness.
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The cure for early spring blues

So I was freezing in my living room, trying to think of something to blog about that wasn’t either a rehash of what I’ve written in the past week or an unnecessary commentary on recent Irish Knitters drama (which is not so dramatic, just gives us something to tweet and goss about). I nearly gave up, resigning myself to being an infrequent blogger, then all of a sudden the Wanderer wandered in with a package from the post office.

“Ho hum,” I thought, “probably that eyeshadow I ordered so long ago I’ve forgotten which colours I asked for.” Yet the package was larger than expected, and the Wanderer noted it was yarn-ish in nature. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I looked at the return address and saw it was in fact my Loopy Ewe Sock Club package! It shipped on Thursday and arrived at the post office yesterday, possibly the fastest anything has ever gotten to me from the US. I had wondered at why the shipping cost so frightfully much, and now I know why. Well, it’s one of two things. Either the money went towards bribing customs officials and couriers, or they paid the faeries to fly it over the ocean.

Some explanation may be in order. I discovered the Loopy Ewe a while ago, as its popularity was on the upswing and I think not everyone had heard of it. It was summer 2007, and I went a little bananas with the ordering of the luxury sock yarn. I have not splurged like that over such a long period of time since, and my stash is still recovering from the experience. Much of what I bought has been knitted and gifted since then, but there are still jars of sock yarn waiting for attention. I learned a lot from what I bought that summer, and to this day TLE holds a special place in my heart. The serotonin rush from opening a package is really incredible, made all the more so now for its rarity.

The Sock Club existed before I knew about TLE, but I have tried for a spot in their lottery-style signups (which they started for the 2008 sock club) for the past two years. I didn’t get into 2008 or 2009 but I did buy the “consolation prize” kits. (Sheri is a fantastic businesswoman. She can’t sell us all sock club subscriptions, but she will sell something to everyone. I am constantly in awe, in a good way.) This year I signed up again, and to my great shock made it in. This is my first TLE package in about 9 months, and I am beside myself with excitement.

I’ll hide the pictures under the fold, on the slim chance that 1. anyone randomly Googling happens upon the main page rather than the individual entry page, AND 2. that anyone is trying to avoid spoilers for some reason.

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Booze!

I was out drinking both Friday and Saturday nights this week.

Friday night I attended a staff meeting, my first with This is Knit. We went over the stuff that needed going over, then we broke out the wine and pizza and crochet hooks. Our all-star crochet teacher had agreed to come and teach us to crochet, as most of us weren’t that familiar with the technique and we decided it was time for all of us to broaden our horizons. They were duly broadened.

Saturday night we had belated birthday pints for the Wanderer and cb, who share a birthday. I hadn’t seen cb since Christmas, so it was great to spend time with him and the clutch of other friends who showed up. I think everyone had a good time; I know I did, and I’m pretty sure both birthday boys did. I don’t go out as often these days as I used to, but nearly every time ends up being a great night. This is one of the many reasons I was so excited to get back to Dublin.

I’m very close to being done with the third log cabin block for my sock yarn leftovers blanket. I never photographed the second block, but I finally draped this one over a chair and took a picture for y’all:

It's not the product, it's the process.

The next block will be dominated by Koigu in the middle, as I’ve been swapping sock yarn bits with a friend. I’m excited about getting it started, and about retiring this block. It saw me through my thesis writing, and a lot of the stress of moving here. It deserves to rest a little while with the first two blocks.

Slow food, slow knitting

Interest in slow food continues to grow. We had everything fast for a while — business, food, lives — and it’s rewarded us with indigestion, high blood pressure, and a crappy economy. As a result, people are trying to slow things down. Their food, their stuff, and their lives.

I have slowed my knitting to a relative crawl. The Clapotis moves at its own pace, stubbornly defying any attempt by me to speed things along. I have to let it be, savour the fact that this is a project with no deadline and that I can take as long as I want. It’s good. It takes a little readjustment, but it’s good.

Not for sale…yet

Recently I mentioned the scary attraction to the knitted cupcakes (or “buns” as they are being called) that are part of the VodaKnitting window dressing. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said they’re not for sale. It’s in my nature, however, to think about selling things once demand has been demonstrated. The buns travelling with me are not mine to sell, of course, but I have been batting around the idea of whipping up some on my own.

So finally, last week, I did.

Okay, so a button was all I had. A little food-ish bead would be better.

I will write up the pattern and distribute it at some point, but I am tempted to charge a tiny amount for it. (Like, €1.) Bad move? Should this be free to the world as well?