Monday, December 29, 2008

We Have a Date (maybe)!

The official Wedding Date is set (that is, if DH gets on the ball and reserves the reception hall today.) Saturday, April 11th will be the Beginning of Eternal Bliss Day, or so we hope.

This means that I have about three months to knit The Dress, which is why there's been very little blogging, and no pictures (sorry Daniele. I know you keep asking. But it really doesn't look like much right now anyway.) Actually, I need to get it done in a lot less than three months, because if it turns out to be a disaster, we need to get another dress ASAP. So I gotta go knit.

Here's something else: I had gotten into The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling retreat, but I've had to let my spot go. There's no way I can manage a wedding and a trip to St. Louis in the same month, either physically or financially. It's a disappointment, because I'd finally get to meet Wendy from WendyKnits, not to mention a whole bunch of Plurkers and Ravelers that I know only online. Well, I'll keep checking the Interweave site for the info about SOAR. Maybe I can go there instead.

The good news is that I think I'm finally not sick anymore! Hooray! Oh, yeah--remember how I mentioned that Missy didn't stay out of the baby's Vomit Zone? Heh, she paid for that mistake BIG TIME!! Betcha she never takes Rugrat into bed with her while Rugrat's sick again! Oh, the lessons we learn as a parent...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sick of Being Sick

I'm on Day 4 of being really, really sick. I was sick last week, too, but things were looking up around Thursday. Still a little sniffly, but much better. Friday morning, I felt like the worst was over. By Friday evening, it was as if a hurricane hit me. (Didn't they do a commercial like that for some flu med? Probably. There are no original metaphors in my head. It's all from Advertising.) On Saturday I at least got out of bed and got dressed (yeah, yeah. Flannel.) By Sunday I was down to lounging on the sofa in my nightgown (also flannel) but I had at least put on a bra under the nightgown, so the proprieties were observed. I had taken a shower sometime in those two days, and I actually could stay upright and knit.

Yesterday I spent totally in bed. No bra, no shower, no knitting, and if I eat another bowl of ramen noodles, I'll barf. I contemplated just drinking the whole dang bottle of Ny-Quil and sleeping for three days, because the Daytime stuff didn't make the slightest difference in how awful I felt. I left a message with the Very Important Client apologizing all over myself because I (again!) couldn't get her invoices to her. She must have felt sorry for me, because she called me back and said I didn't have to worry about that at all--she needs everything on the 30th, so we're good until then. What a relief.

In the meantime, I've read until my eyeballs are about to explode. I finished "The Duchess", and read all of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier & Clay." (Both very good books.) I couldn't knit at all, and didn't even check my email. So far today I've read the paper, peeked at the email, and caught up on a few blogs. I'm ready to go back to bed. The worst part about this is the coughing, because my head feels like it's going to come off every time I have a hacking fit.

What a Debbie Downer post. I do apologize. I did have to chuckle to myself yesterday, though. We had our first real "throw-up" incident with Rugrat, and I couldn't do a thing to help. Poor baby--we don't know if it was something she ate, or getting overtired from playing really hard with friends on Monday evening, or maybe sinus drainage from her cold. Whatever, she woke up early yesterday calling for "Pappy." He staggered in to find her lying in barfed-up spaghetti. He and Missy got her cleaned up and the sheets changed (oh, the memories that brought back!) and then he went off to work. She was sick several more times (once in Mommy's ear while lying in bed with her.) I really should have told her to always stay out of the Vomit Zone. Ain't Momhood great? I'm happy to say that after a long afternoon nap, Rugrat was back to her normal zoomy self, so all is well. Though I think Missy's still scrubbing her ear.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Bravest Blog I've Ever Read

It's funny how the world of blogging and Ravelry and Plurk has changed my life. Before I started my blog, I had lots of projects--heck, that was the reason for starting the blog! And then I really began to investigate Ravelry, because I had joined, but done nothing with it, and discovered a million a thousand dozens of other projects I want to do. Then I started reading the Yarn Harlot's blog , which BTW is really hysterical today. (She could so be a sitcom. Yeah, "Everyone Loves Steph.") And from her blog, I got links to other blogs, like Wendy Knits, then Zarzuela, and you know how it grows kind of exponentially. I can't keep up with the blogs on my Blog List, and I haven't even put all of them that I have bookmarked in the list yet. Then through Wendy, I got onto Plurk, which is one of those "social networking" sites, so we all talk about knitting and food. Not necessarily in that order.

Almost all of the blogs I read are knitting-oriented, which makes me wonder about the other needlework I love. Are there as many cross-stitch or quilting-themed blogs out there? (Don't tell me. I don't really want to know.) But I came across one the other day, that, even though it doesn't deal at all with knitting, is now the one I check the most. It's here, and it's the bravest thing I ever read, with a large dose of black humor, which is my favorite kind, seeing as how I have major depression difficulties too.

When I read Jenn's words about her illness and problems in life, and the support she gets from her family and friends, it makes me cry. You cannot imagine how hard it is to be honest about something that's still so misunderstood, though it shouldn't be by now. I have written posts about my fibromyalgia, but haven't even touched on the depression because I'm...what? Scared? Embarrassed? Uneasy? I don't know, but I do know that Jenn does some powerful writing about her illness, her fears, and her life. She's the best kind of writer. She's honest. I can't be that honest yet. It's easier to blame the fibromyalgia for all my troubles, because that's less of a stigma, as far as I can tell.

People who know me and find out that I have major depression have told me that they can't believe it. I'm usually pretty chipper in a group (heh, Jenn touches on the Chipper Act in one of her posts, so it must be universal for us crazies.) I have a great sense of humor, especially about the absurdities of life. But people don't know that every morning when I open my eyes, my first thought of the day is a variation of, "Oh, God. I can't get up and deal today. I just can't." I hate even writing that, because it sounds so whiny and pitiful. And, to look at my life, there's no reason to feel that way. I have a home and a family and a job, and they're all going pretty well. Nobody has died recently. We're financially tight, but managing. My job isn't exciting, but it's not hard, either. So I have no reason to slide into the Black Hole, at least to all appearances.

But down into the Black Hole I go. I know some of the underlying causes, and I do need to work with a therapist, but it's so scary. And it's hard. Really hard. I've done it before, and I'd rather crawl naked through broken glass across a freshly salted highway than do it again. But I'm going to, as soon as I find out in January what our new insurance pays for. Because if Jenn can be brave enough to go through what she's going through, and put it all out there for the world to see, then I can at least make a start by going to a therapist. I don't want to. You have to be honest, and cracking jokes doesn't work with those guys. I'd rather crack a joke or two than be honest, let me tell you. I'm better at it. I've had more practice.

Anyway, thank you Jenn, for being brave enough to show the world what it's like to have an illness that people think is somehow your own fault for not just getting over yourself and getting on with it. It's not that easy. And if you want to learn to knit, let me know. I have people...and they have yarn.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blech, Blah, Ick

Still sick. I had to take off work yesterday, which I hate to do right now, because it's the end of the year for one of our clients' accounting departments. I feel like I've let them down because I couldn't get their invoices processed and out to them in time. They were nice enough about it when I called, but it's my own guilt hang-up that's making me feel bad.

But, then again, I was too sick to even knit yesterday. That means I'm really sick. Oh wait--I did cast on Rugrat's second mitten, but casting on and knitting just a few rounds of K2P2 ribbing was all I could handle. I spent most of the day huddled on the sofa watching TV, alternating among "Clean Sweep", "What Not to Wear", and DVR'd "Law & Order: SVU". Do you think the people on "Clean Sweep" REALLY live like that all the time, or do they mess it up worse before the TV crew gets there? And I have a morbid fascination with "WNTW" because I just know that my family is trying to get me on that show. They don't like my flannel-wearing propensities. I know my wardrobe could stand to be punched up a bit, but considering that Clinton was wearing a pair of plaid pants in one of the shows yesterday, I'm not sure how much I'd trust some of their fashion advice. And why do they insist on dressing overweight women in sleeveless clothes? Even I know that's a no-no, even if I do wear men's flannel shirts (but only in my own house. Most of the time.)

So now I feel guilty for having spent a whole day not knitting The Dress. The last time I worked on it, I timed each round. It takes me an hour and a half to knit a round, and there are about 4 or 5 rows to the inch. I have to knit 12 inches of this 2400-stitch row, then double them to 4800 stitches. I refuse to do the math on how many hours this will take. I'm just glad that I have a few audiobooks on the iPod to listen to while I knit, and that this is straight knitting--no fancy increase/decrease stuff.

I'm not sure how long I'll have to knit the 4800-stitch rows. I figure the best thing to do is measure the length of the crinoline. When I start getting close to that measurement, I'll have to put the stitches (oh. my. gosh.) on a string to hold them, let it hang for a day or two, then have Missy try it on over the crinoline to see how much the skirt has stretched. We've talked about doing a ruffle or some such nonsense at the bottom, but I don't think that's going to be possible. By the time I get 4800 stitches on this circular needle, it's going to be packed solid, and there's no way I can do another increase for a ruffle. The only way is to knit a separate strip and attach it. I'll think about that when I get there.

Notice that I haven't even mentioned the bodice for this dress. I'm refusing to think about it at this point.

I had also planned to knit a lace shawl for her to wear over the dress if she wanted to, but I don't think that's going to happen (that was Secret Project #2.) I had started it with some fine ice-blue silk, but now she's not sure that blue will be the theme color. It depends on when the wedding is. So the shawl is definitely on the back-burner, though I think it would be lovely to have made that too. The 4800-stitch skirt looms waaaaay too large though.

I really must go back to work tomorrow, so I think I'd better get settled in with The Dress. The set of replacement tips I called for the first time my needles fell apart has arrived, so I'm good for needles at the moment (though I'll feel a lot more confident using the nickel-plated set when I get it.) I'm feeling a little better today, so I need to use every moment I can. Though I'm thinking a shower is probably in order. And I hope I have a clean flannel shirt in the closet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm Siiiiiick....

Read that in your best whiny tone. Good thing I stopped at the library and got the last two "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Also stocked up on ramen soup (at the grocery, not the library. Though wouldn't a library/grocery be a handy thing?) which I spice up with ground red pepper--it helps the drainage.

Speaking of pepper, I was telling my violin teacher today about my special chicken soup recipe, and she said she'd always heard canine pepper was good for your system. Once we sorted out that she meant "cayenne" pepper, we fell about laughing. I love her. She's as goofy as I am.

We're supposed to get snow today and tomorrow, so I'm glad that I not only have the movies, but I hit the library and the bookstore today. I also have a half-full bottle of Old Crow, which is nearly as good for your system as canine pepper. I think I'll go crawl into my blue flannel nightie with the snowflakes on it, and snuggle in bed with a magazine for a while. If I gather my energy, I should get some knitting done on The Dress as well.

Luckily, I have household help. Everyone is expected to pull her own weight around here!

Such a good little worker she is, but she ends up with dishpan hands.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It Happened Again!

Another needle came apart as I was knitting the Dress. I was beyond stunned. I got on the phone, and I think I got the same CSR as the other day. This time, I said (nicely) that I had had it, and I wanted an exchange. I think she could hear the strain in my voice (it might have been shaking just the tiniest bit,) because she got a little nervous, put me on hold, then came back on to say that an exchange would be made. I have to send the original kit back, which kind of stinks, but she said of course there would be no restocking fee (of course!!) and that she was flagging my account so the new kit would be sent out ASAP. She did say that I was being very nice about the whole thing, and I said that I'd always appreciated their customer service, so the whole thing was extremely civilized. Then I had a really big drink, put the stitches back on the remaining needle, and went to bed.

Of course, if you're a knitter who hasn't been marooned on a desert isle with Johnny Depp, you've figured out by now that I'm talking about Knit Picks. I really do like the company and their products. I think they should have given me the exchange the first time I called, because I just KNEW it was going to happen again in the middle of this Dress, but other than that, I've always had nice dealings with them.

The only thing about the kit is that I was frustrated by trying to keep all my needles tips, cables, end caps, etc. corralled but easy to get to. That little plastic zippy thing they come in is ok, but when I bought the DPNs, fixed circulars, and extra cables, it was next to impossible to find what I wanted easily. Especially those little "keys" for tightening the joins.

Knit Picks offers a binder and pocket kit, but I had read some less-than-favorable reviews. So I dug out my big zip-up Franklin Covey binder that I got off eBay and never use, stocked it with pages and pockets, and this is what I ended up with (clicky to embiggen):

I plan to label the individual pockets with the needle sizes, but for easy identification, I put a small set of tips with a large set so I can tell right away which is which. For instance, a size four set will be in the pocket with a size nine. That way I can check the label (when I get it on there) and if it's a size nine that I need, it's obvious which two those are. It's hard to see in this picture, but I put the "keys" on a keyring (what a concept!) and clipped it inside the top ring.

I put some other tools like cable needles, a small crochet hook, and stitch holders in one of the pockets, and the end caps got a pocket too. I need to add some small scissors, stitch markers, and a yarn needle, but I don't think I can fit another pocket in there, so they'll have to go in with the cable needles or something.

What I really like are the top-loading page protectors. My circular needles curl up and slip right down in there and stay put. I peeled the label off the original flimsy plastic envelopes they came in and stuck them on the page to identify the needle size. I can easily see which length is which--I have 32" and 40" lengths of each size, and there are a couple of random small-sized metal circs as well. When I need to knit socks, they're all right here!

The plastic envelopes with the extra cable sets have their own page as well. It's all very convenient and tidy, and I love it. I wish there were a way to use the pockets on the inside of the front and back covers of the binder, but it's almost too thick as it is. I keep the needle sizer and the plastic envelope that holds the sock DPNs in tidy little slots in the front pocket, but that's all that will fit. And, of course, there's one of my cards, so if I lose it, there's a chance I could get it back if it falls into the right hands.

If you want a similar system, check eBay first. Get a binder with the biggest rings you can, because those needles take up a lot of space. The rings in mine are 2". I certainly wouldn't go any smaller, and I'd get bigger ones if they make them. The book size is "Classic." You can browse binders and accessories at Franklin Covey but I would try to find a less-expensive way to get a binder, either through eBay or a local office supply store. It doesn't have to be a Franklin Covey binder, but you want the hole configuration to be the same so you can get the page protectors from FC. You really need the zip-up binder, too, so you can keep everything secure. Some of them come with handles, which would be nice. I was able to get some vinyl zipper pockets at the office supply, but the Franklin Covey ones I got at the FC store are much nicer and easier to open and close. And I couldn't get the page protectors at the office supply, either, so you'd have to get those through an FC store or their website.

It was quite an experience going to the FC store at our local mall. The manager and clerk were a bit bemused because I took the needle kit with me so I'd know exactly what and how many of each I'd need. The manager said that was a first for him--he'd never seen anyone use their system for that! I wish I'd had the brains to give him one of my cards that has my blog url on it!

To wind up, this is how I've been feeling in general:

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Think About it Every Day

Posting, that is. Well, there's other stuff I think about every day, like how much I love peanut butter M&Ms but I shouldn't eat them because I could stand to lose a few ten twenty-five pounds plus I'm not getting any younger and now that I can not only not fit into my jeans but I'm having those weird hot flashes feelings that women get as they get older I really need to stop eating crap but since I'm too lazy busy to go to the store and get fruit and veggies the M&Ms are really the only food snacks in the house so what's a girl to eat? I think about that, and the fact that Johnny Depp is really cute. But I don't think about Johnny Depp long, because not only am I a few ten twenty-five pounds overweight and he'd never look at me twice, I'm also getting old older and actually I'd prefer the peanut butter M&Ms to attention from Johnny Depp anyway. I'm also married. So is Johnny Depp. Or at least he's in a relationship or something. But hey, that didn't stop Brad and Angelina, did it? BTW, I think it's a hoot that Brad defended Angie after Jen's oh-so-vicious attack (yeah, right) by saying something to the effect that she's such an honorable person. He needs to go buy a dictionary and look up the word "honorable." Anyway, being married and all, the Johnny Depp thing is kind of just a weird twitch I have now and then, and I only bring it up because it makes my husband roll his eyes. Hey, he's the one that thinks Kim Basinger is so hot. I think her eyes are squinty.

So, anyway. Posting. Well, I'm still knitting the dress. Though last night one of my wooden needles came out of its little metal socket thingy. Right in the midst of 2400 stitches of laceweight yarn. The name of the company I bought them from shall, but I did call and complain mention it, so they're sending me a new set of tips. That's great and all, but it didn't help me get the million hundred twenty stitches back on the needle that slipped off last night. AND on top of that, TWO of Missy's needles came apart in the past couple of weeks. So this nameless company is having to send three new sets of needle tips to the same home. I would call that an issue. And, yes, I'm happy they're replacing them, and I know that I could have just glued the darn thing back myself, but the problem is that I'm afraid to knit with them now. It's like driving on defective tires. If you have a blow-out and the tire company replaces the tire, fine. But are you going to feel safe driving on that new tire? Are you going to put your dog, your kids, Brad and Angie's kids, and Johnny Depp in that car and drive 65MPH? Well, are ya? Ok, so it's not that dramatic (and more than a little stupid,) but you get the idea. (Sorry. I think I just had one of those flashes things. I apologize.) I tried to explain that to the customer rep yesterday (without the references to tires or Brad and Angie or Johnny Depp, naturally) and asked if I could just exchange the whole set for the set with the metal tips, but she said if I did that I'd have to pay a restocking fee. HUH?? Well, I settled for the replacement tips for the moment, but if another one goes, I want the whole set replaced with the set of metal tips. And there will be no stinkin' "restocking fee." Yeah, you know what company I'm talking about. They're a very nice company, and their service and products are great, but this particular problem is getting very close to becoming a major issue with me.

When the needle broke last night, Missy got out her kit and found another tip so I could keep knitting. I was zipping along nicely when I got the strangest sensation in my hands. I tried to dismiss it and keep knitting, but it kept bugging me. Finally, I dug out the needle sizer and discovered that she had given me a tip a whole size smaller than the one I needed. I knew something wasn't right! And there you have the blessing of knitting something that will eventually be about 35" long and 4800 stitches around--no one will notice if some of the stitches are the wrong size. Just in case, I switched the tips, so the one I'm making the stitches with is the correct size. The size of the non-working tip won't matter. We can always put that part in the back and cover it with satin roses or something anyway.

Speaking of Missy mishaps, I wish I had a video of the cake-frosting incident of yesterday evening. She had spent all afternoon making several different sizes of cakes to give to her fiance and his family, and to practice her cake-baking and cake-decorating skills. I think she had some vague hope that she would be able to do the wedding cake herself and save a few bucks. Well, the lopsided and slightly singed parts of the cakes were trimmed off, so that was okay. The crumb-coating could have been a little better, but that takes practice. The decoration on The Fiance's cake was nicely done, if you like turquoise frosting with hot pink piping and didn't see the side where she dropped the decorating bag on it. And the cake she made for our family to eat was certainly delicious, even if it didn't show quite the care that had been lavished on The Fiance's cake. (At least it was a normal color--pale cream--straight from the can.) But the highlight of it all was when she was slapping on the last of the frosting for The Fiance's parents' cake, and managed to flip the whole thing off the counter and upside-down on the floor. Don't ask me how she did it. I think it was a slightly-too-vigorous swipe across the top with a two-inch thick smear of frosting that sent it flying. I so wish I'd had the video camera. We all performed our respective parts perfectly: The Baker/Decorator/Fiancee was open-mouthed, The Fiance was obviously amused but appropriately tender in his commisseration with the still open-mouthed Baker/Decorator/Fiancee, The Mother (me) was practically peeing in her pants because she was laughing so hard, and The Father (DH, who has waaaaay too strong a streak of analyst in him) was explaining to the still open-mouthed Baker/Decorator/Fiancee exactly why the cake had zoomed off the counter and done a half-gainer in mid-air. The dog was trying to get to the cake on the floor, and the cats wisely turned their backs on the whole mess. I think we'll be checking around for good cake decorators as the day gets closer.

I had to baby-sit Rugrat today, which partly explains the total insanity and inanity of this post. She's good, but she's a two-year-old. You know what that means. A lot of "NO." From both of us. The house is a wreck, the laundry is piling up, we're out of cat food and dangerously low on dog food but I wasn't about to venture out to a store alone with her, and we ate scrambled eggs for dinner that Missy made (with no disaster that I know of. So far.) But I did knit a mitten for Rugrat. I had made a set when she was really little, but they don't have thumbs (since she had no motor skills at the time, what did it matter?) She needs the thumbs now, though, and gets furious with the mitts because she can't do anything when she has them on. Oh my gosh. (headsmack) Why didn't I just put them on her first thing this morning and duct tape them to her wrists??

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Official!!!

That's pretty much all I have to say about that right now. I've gotta go knit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kind of a Cheat Post

I've been sick with a filthy cold, so this isn't going to be much of a post. I don't have the energy. I actually did try to do a post late last week, but the computer decided it didn't want to upload pictures, so I gave up. But I've since run all the adware/spyware doodads, so it's working fine. I, however, am not.

This is what's been on the agenda for the last million thousand couple of weeks:

It's the wedding gown pattern from Interweave Knits, and I really have very little to go on except a blurry photo on the printout, and some pictures of finished projects on Ravelry. So I'm knitting (and knitting and knitting and knitting) and hoping for the best. It will literally be designed on the bride, because we're not using the yarn called for, and we're changing the neck, and we might be adding sleeves, and we're attaching the skirt at the waistline, and it will go over a crinoline, and she may end up wearing a black plastic bag with holes cut in it for all I know.

Wanna know something really funny? I miss knitting socks.