On ageing

Last week I joyfully celebrated my 30th birthday. My sister was in town with her husband, and I enjoyed several days of being showered with attention. Thursday we went out for sushi after stopping by to see the knitters at Brooks, Friday a couple friends hosted us for dinner and drinks, Saturday we headed out to watch the US/England match and drink some more. The universe gave me a birthday present, as the Mr. was offered a job last week. It’s only a 6 week contract, but it’s a job. As a result, I’ve had more time than usual in the flat on my own, giving me the opportunity to catch up on little things.

Some people go to pieces on their milestone birthdays (after about 25). I knew one guy who spent the entire year running up to his 30th birthday exercising and eating protein shakes so he could say he was in the best shape of his life when he turned 30. I think he did the same thing for his 40th. Another guy gets depressed every year around his birthday. I can only imagine what his 30th was like. I’ve known lots of people who jokingly refer to their birthdays after 29 as “the fourth anniversary of my 29th birthday.” And, of course, it’s not polite to ask a woman her age.

Me? I couldn’t turn 30 fast enough. Being older means you’ve experienced more, which I’m on board for. It also raises your credibility (however unfairly) in other people’s eyes. It’s been a little while since I’ve said something and gotten that look that says “Oh, you’ll understand when you’re older,” and the only thing that’s changed is that I am older, rather than any age-induced paradigm shift. I rarely get carded when buying alcohol anymore, though I suspect that’s more due to the change of scenery.

I like having a tidy pile of experiences to build upon. I like being old enough to be allowed to make my own choices, like whether to drink, vote, or spend money. I like being “old.” Happy birthday to me.

Quick thoughts

“Knitting is really good for your mental health — despite the moments when you think that it’s the opposite. It’s a great way to practice being successful, tackle problems without fearing terrible consequences, and watch yourself getting things done. Seeing these things on a small scale, like with knitting, can help you see them in the rest of your life.”

— Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot

I like how she uses the phrase practice being successful. Because I am clearly out of practice.

Malabrigo Monday

Today is a bank holiday in Ireland, which means I’m not in work. Despite all this leisure time, this is just a quickie post since I’m hard at work doing last minute flat cleaning for my impending visitors.

Every time the shop gets a shipment of Malabrigo I find a new colour that I simply must have for my own. The last delivery included a colourway I’d witnessed in lace and worsted but not in sock, Stonechat:

Malabrigo Sock in Stonechat

Dye lots can vary significantly with Malabrigo, to the point where you might think you’re looking at two different colourways when comparing skeins from different shipments. Sometimes there will be more yellow or less green in the mix. I’ve noticed this variation with Stonechat even between the lace and the worsted.

The second skein I got was a new colourway for me, Persia:

Malabrigo Sock in Persia

It’s a nice calm blue with brown and gold accents. This would make a nice little cardigan, once I get around to it. I think I’ll use one of my Malabrigo sock skeins for a cardigan, but it’s not yet clear which one it’ll be.

PS: The wedding was awesome. I didn’t wear the blue top, even though it came out fine after a little alteration. The shrug looked fantastic, and I also got to wear a crocheted choker I’d had lying around for years but never found an outfit it looked good with.

PPS: Many of the Ravelry links I include in my posts can be viewed by people who aren’t logged in to Ravelry. If the URL starts with “ravel.me,” that means it’s a project I’ve flagged for sharing outside of Ravelry. Most pattern links don’t have that option, so I usually add a warning like (Rav link) for something that you shouldn’t bother clicking on if you’re not a Raveler.

Treacherous Noro

In some ways, I am living the dream. I work in my LYS, surrounded by luscious fibres in every colour of the rainbow. I am given free reign to devise patterns, match ideas with fibres and colours, display things so they look awesome, and knit until my fingers fall off. It’s the kind of thing knitters dream of, and I am still bowled over by how lucky I am.

There are drawbacks, however. The proximity of bales of Noro is a real issue.

Kureyon

I have a Noro problem. There are so many reasons to dislike Noro. It costs a fortune. It’s single-ply. It’s kind of scratchy. It often has bits of straw or whatever in it. (One of my favourite comments about the Silk Garden range was, “I’d like it if it had a little more of the silk and a little less of the garden.”) It sometimes goes thick and thin which makes tensioning awkward and drives beginners round the bend. And there’s always one colour in every colourway that just looks awful. Some knitters cut and join the yarn just to avoid that one colour.

I know all these things, and yet the siren song of Noro pulls me in every single time. I have made an entire Klaralund (Rav link), two scarves, a hat (which I can’t wear because it’s Kureyon and it’s too scratchy), matching fingerless gloves (which have been replaced by softer ones), and a beret (which got stolen, boo). I have a beautiful Noro entrelac scarf that was given to me last summer, and I have wool set aside for yet another Noro scarf and a Baby Surprise Jacket (Rav link).

This is all despite the fact that every time I knit with the stuff I note the drawbacks. The way that the wool in the ball doesn’t give much of a clue as to what the whole colourway looks like. The one or two colours in every ball that I hate. The ridiculous cost. Every time I think “This one will be my last. I am done with Noro.” Then I head in to work and stare at this all day:

More Kureyon

Is it any wonder my resolve wears down?

The artifice in art

I’ve been in choirs for most of my life, and the director I’ve spent the most time with was (luckily for me) probably the best. When directing a choir full of exhausted scientists towards the end of a term, she would point out that in order to make the songs we didn’t like sound good we would have to pretend to love them. Disliking a song tends to make a choir sound dull, so we needed to pretend to be into the music even for pieces we didn’t like or couldn’t relate to.

She used U2 as an example. “It’s been how many years?” she asked us. “Do you really think Bono still hasn’t found what he’s looking for?” The same point came up over and over, but that was always my favourite example. The idea was that art usually involves some faking. Some bending of the truth to make a point. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do think about art in the course of what I do these days.

I’m slogging away on the blue tank top, and it looks like I’ll finish on time barring disaster like repetitive strain or a really nasty gauge surprise. I’ve thought a lot about clothes as I knit: how they fit, how they’re put together, what lines I should accentuate and which I should play down, and how best to achieve that with knitted fabric. Then comes figuring out how to make that happen through the craft: can I incorporate something clever to make the knitting easier or more interesting or elegant? After that comes the math. There is nothing fake about math. It is necessary to bring the fake beauty of the art into reality as a flattering garment, and oddly enough I find myself engrossed every time I attack the math parts of a knitted piece.

That’s the craft, not the art. And that’s where I am now, calculating armhole depth and hoping my calculations are good ones. If this works, this top (and others like it?) might become a wardrobe staple. And that would be awesome.