Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

People love summer here. Where I come from, summer was accepted as a necessary evil but avoided if necessary. People got really excited about spring (Spring Break, anyone?) instead. I know now this difference is because spring where I grew up is about the same climate as the height of summer here. Summer here has the additional magic of twilight that stretches throughout the evening. It’s exciting to leave work at 8 and have it still be light out, but it’s really something special to wrap up a hard night’s gaming at 11 and still catch the end of the sunset.

Summer is chock full of milestones for me. By Celtic reckoning, my birthday, my anniversary, my thesis defense, and the date I moved to Dublin all fall squarely in the summer. Last year I spent the longest day of the year in transit, landing in Dublin jetlagged and ecstatic the day after the solstice. This year I woke up the day after the solstice with showtunes in my head and a sense of smug satisfaction that I could now report my stay in Dublin with units of years rather than months.

(I never know how to answer that question. If you’re not from around here, you know the one. “How long have you lived here?” I believe the answer in my case is misleading; after a month of living here I had the experiences and support of nearly a decade of kicking around. It’s not the same thing as living here all that time, but it’s not the same as being here only a month.)

Lots of things changed when I moved, but a key one that doesn’t get discussed much is that for the first time in ten years I’m not trying to live in two places at once. Throughout the Pasadena exile I enjoyed many things, but it was always bittersweet because it sat next to the memory of what I was missing in Dublin. That doesn’t happen anymore, and it is delicious.

The 22nd of June has rolled along behind me, and I’ve found myself nearly halfway through July a little bewildered that I got here so fast. And while there’s a lot to be desired about my situation at the moment, it’s still been a pretty good year.

Polygamous knitting

The black lace shrug is proceeding quite nicely, thank you. Despite my madness induced break, I’ve been steadily working, a few stitches here and there when I can fit them in, and have made excellent progress. One arm is done, blocked, and I’ve even tried it on to make sure it fits. It does. The second arm is past the elbow. Happily, I am a standard issue human and have only the two regulation arms, which means I don’t have far to go.

I am also working on a sock.

Sock in progress

Sometimes things just aren’t right for lace knitting. I knit while I teach, but the experience is better for everyone if I knit something I don’t have to look at or concentrate on. Same with gaming. Sometimes I break those rules, but every time I do I am reminded in one way or another that it’s a bad idea and I should stick to my sock projects when multitasking.

These socks are part of my Black Socks 2010 Collection. A year ago (so Zappo’s has reminded me) I bought a pair of shoes unlike anything I have ever worn. I’m not a shoe person. I own three pair: dress shoes, gym shoes, and everyday shoes. This is my everyday pair, and they’ve done an excellent job so far. The catch was that I’d been wearing boots for a long, long time and therefore unconcerned with the colour of my socks. Since all my socks are my handknits, most of them are riotously coloured. These shoes reveal my socks, which matters to me when I’m pretending to be a normal person. So I needed black socks. I ordered a tonne of black sock yarn from The Loopy Ewe the week before I moved here and spent the summer making black socks.

All those socks are too much alike, and a pain in the neck to sort in the laundry. So this summer I’m going to make plain black socks with a stripe around the toe made of some leftover coloured yarn. The socks appear black when I wear them in the Real World, but they’re easy to match.

It also gives me something simple to work on when I have other things to pay attention to. They are toe-up, so I can’t tune out during the heel, but I hope to have a standard toe-up heel-flap heel memorized by the end of this adventure.

A sudden malaise

I have two pieces of deadline knitting and a stack of commissions making me jumpy and preventing me from having fun at social occasions. So what did I spend my evening last night making? A tea cosy.

Tea Cosy

Not because I need a tea cosy, mind you. My largest teapot (a 4-cup that valiantly fills the role of a much larger pot) has a cosy already. My smallest teapot is just a one-cup deal, and a cosy would be a little ridiculous. It’s not the ridiculosity that stops me, I think, but the fact that it’s one of those pots that sits on top of a little matching teacup and I wouldn’t want to get fuzz in the cup. My middle-sized teapot, the one I bought in a fit of self pity last summer, is too cute for a cosy.

This cosy doesn’t even fit any of those teapots. It’s built for a 6-cup teapot, which means it probably would have fit the white teapot I left behind in the US. (I do not mourn it; don’t get the wrong idea. It was a means to an end, and not worth shipping over.) So I brought it to the shop and got the shop teapot to model it. It doesn’t fit the shop pot quite right either, but it’s still really cute.

I think the thing that got to me was the stitch pattern, a simple mistake rib. The execution disappointed me a little, so I might rewrite it with fewer shenanigans and make it available through the shop. It’s the tea cosy everyone wants, a good, thick, comfortable looking cosy with no bells or whistles. It goes on, it keeps the tea warm, and it looks like it might be good for a hug on a bleak, dark winter’s day.

Why did this come over me the night of the warmest day of the year in Dublin? The world may never know. But the world may get another tea cosy pattern out of it.

Deadline knitting

The other piece of awesomeness in my Loopy Ewe sock club package was a set of custom TLE red “Oh Snap!” pouches from Namaste. I didn’t photograph them along with the yarn because by the time I headed out to take pictures I had already stuffed the bags with projects:

Oh Snap! bags

They may not look like much, but as I’ve learned over years of making and using and cursing different bags for knitting, the see-through nature of these bags is key. They are sturdy and light, they lie pretty flat, they hold a lot more than you might think, and they slide easily into whatever bag you want to carry your stuff in that day. These two projects can now sit on my desk, and I can grab the one I want without having to look into several bags to see if they contain the project I’m looking for.

Yes, I should be able to remember which of my many (non-identical) bags contains the black lace shrug. It doesn’t always work out that way…

Black lace, you say? Why yes, I have started one of the least bloggable projects ever:

Lace in progress

Yes, lovely. Not only does lace look like vomit as it comes off the needles, any black knitted object is impossible to photograph. No matter how pretty the stitch markers may be:

Chainmaille stitch markers!

Chainmaille stitch markers! (silver)

Those are from Red Panda, and I really like them. They do make noise when I knit, since I’m using the very clinky Addis to knit this, it’s not that much more noise. I love that even though the rings aren’t continuous (usually a deal-breaker for me), they are so expertly cut and joined that they don’t snag on the yarn. Which is saying something, as this is very snaggy yarn. I had to change needles twice due to joins that snagged ever so slightly — even with needles that I’ve used before without any trouble.

I blocked out a little of the lace in the hope that it showed things more clearly:

Black lace, stretched out

Still not impressed? I’m not either. I’m kinda hoping it looks better when it’s actually on a person, otherwise I’m going to be very disappointed when this gets done. The pattern is I Do from Knitty, something I started a long long time ago and abandoned. I’d like to wear it to a friend’s wedding in early June, which gives me not very much time to finish this. I’m a very different knitter now than I was when I tried to do this the first time, and it’s been weird to revisit the pattern with five more years of knitting experience under my belt.

In any case, if things progress as they have been, I should be done in time to decide whether the finished object is ready for prime time.

A long, hot summer?

I’m still cold most of the time…

My Loopy Ewe May sock club package came last week, and it was so good the stuff got pressed into service before I got a chance to take decent pictures of it. This is the yarn, in all its summery glory:

May TLE Sock club yarn

It is soft and wonderful and while the shawlette pattern this month didn’t immediately excite me the sock pattern May Flowers looks intriguing. Just like last month, I’ve set it aside as enticement to finish one of the many other projects going on at the moment. Even though the colours aren’t so much my thing (yellow? maybe not), the whole thing wrapped up together looks cheerful and summery. The good kind of summer, like an Irish summer, with rain and cool breezes and sun. Not like LA summer with furnace-like heat and fires, or DC summer that’s so humid that drying off after a shower is an exercise in futility. The kind of summer people write songs about.

As I write, there’s a stack of knits and yarn next to me that needs photographing. I’ll be off to do that now, hoping for some of that summer sun to help out.

Still quiet

With the shadow of the Sackboys removed, I have moved on to other handknitting challenges and obligations. The Big Commission still looms (haha) overhead, but after meditating on the recent issues with it over the past few days I have more ideas for how to deal with it and get it done and get on with forgetting about it.

Last night I headed out to see Amanda Palmer (AFP) and assorted hangers-on. It was meant to be part of the Evelyn Evelyn tour, but the massive travel snarl created by the volcano ash prevented most of the actual show from showing up. The result? A completely random opening act Bitter Ruin, who blew me away. I would have bought a CD if there were any left. This was followed by a sort of shadow of the actual Evelyn Evelyn stage show, with AFP describing what would be happening and Jason Webley (the other Evelyn) joining via webcast. They had pretty successfully figured out how to sing together in spite of the 2-second lag, so it was possible to get some idea of what the music would have been like had they been in the same room and wearing the same dress. (Not identical dresses, the two of them in the same dress.)

AFP’s solo set at the end went well, and the debut of “Fuck the Ashcloud,” AFP’s and Neil’s impromptu songwriting collaboration lamenting the impending cancellation of their planned week together went about as well as anyone could have expected.

I got lucky, I think. The show took place at the Academy, where I’d seen JoCo in the basement venue. I’d never been in the upstairs, which is a slightly bigger, two-tiered deal. I wasn’t in the front of the queue, so all the space by the stage was taken by the time I got in and I headed upstairs to the bar. There were couches set up, and no indication that I wasn’t allowed to sit on them…so I ended up slouching in a comfy couch on a balcony for the entire show. The area is often reserved for people with VIP tickets, but this time it was open to anyone of drinking age. Awesome. I had a lovely evening.

I also finished a pair of socks. What better project to take to a show about a pair of conjoined twin singer/songwriters than a sock?

Socks

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.

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.

I feel fantastic

I’m late with this writeup, but the high points of the Jonathan Coulton concert on the 6th are nonetheless etched into my memory and therefore just as fresh today as they were on my walk home that night. I didn’t enjoy the venue (I’d I’d say the artists weren’t thrilled either) and everyone on stage was jetlagged into delirium, but they did a great job and pulled through like the professionals they are.

Paul and Storm hadn’t experienced Dublin before, and only a few of us in the crowd had experienced them. By my count, there were three veterans. I brought the requisite panties to throw and passed them out to willing (if confused) conspirators. Paul and Storm seemed suitably surprised, and I think next time I will go with lacy thongs rather than the safe but boring looking red and black lace printed panties. Thongs look better on stage.

JoCo was his usual fantastic self, and when Paul and Storm accompanied him they soldiered manfully through despite the lack of shakers or tambourines. (The shakers, I believe, were in their checked luggage which had been misdirected somewhere along the way.) He played the usual expected favourites, and concluded with a completely satisfactory encore. Which was followed by an unprecedented but fantastic second encore (A Talk With George). You can find the entire setlist here.

I think everyone had a good time. Coulton seems to really like Dublin, and I love it when visitors enjoy this place as much as I do. Hopefully this means they’ll be here again soon.