Monday, March 19, 2007

Deep in the Land of Unfinished

(Royal Bank Tower soaks up the clouds)

So I was chided this weekend for not posting updates often enough. I'd really, really like to have a glamourous reason for it, like that I was too busy wining and dining and living the high life but the truth is way less exciting. See, I have too many unfinished things on the go right now and there is just no way to post about them and make them sound Cool. And also it's just plain no fun to make posts that say "I didn't finish anything, but do you want to see the two inches I did on the shawl? It's a huge achievement but the picture looks only microscopically different from the one I showed you 5,783 days ago..." I like posting about finished stuff more but the WIPs on the list are so very far away from being finished.

Compounding my knitting WIP anxiety is the mother of all WIPs, the Thesis. It's still going. It's in progress. It's getting closer every day. But as I go I leave these little fragments behind while writing, a to-do list for later. (Later being that undefined time when I have a draft and can go back to revise before sending it to my committee.) Stuff like this:

Those are little notes to myself that I stick in while I'm writing, reminders to find a source reference or a page number. Something I don't have on hand but know where to find later. It's a zillion times more efficient to save them all up for one big library trip at the end of the drafting stage and stick them all in when I need them. Some of them are bigger things too, and say stuff like [define Daltonian atoms] or [insert history of matrix mechanics]. It's the textual equivalent of the Seinfeld "yada yada" episode.

The WIP list is bugging me the same way these little things are bugging me. I don't deal so good with loose ends, me. I like them all sewn up and tidy. They're little oily tarnishy blemishes on the shiny satisfaction of getting chapter progress made, reminding me of the constant looming Unfinished. So 1930 is a bummer because it was supposed to be a quick 2-week project, reward for progress made, but it's still Out There, and I've got to trek even further into the Land of Unfinished to get to it, and y'all, it's not so much the Undiscovered Country of my dreams. Gotta keep going til something gets finished, is the mental bargaining chip motto of the day.

But a cheery thing yesterday was finding, as I came back from a weekend away, to find my order waiting, having arrived late on Friday (only 2 days after I'd ordered!). I found out I had some small funding things finally coming in the next few weeks so I treated myself to Mason-Dixon Knitting and Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (since G recced it as a good stash-busting move), because they were both on sale and I got free shipping. Hoo rah. I ripped open that box with the glorious excitement of a grad student starving for knitting excitment and took the books right to the couch to bask in their aura soak up the goodness. G wanted to look over my shoulder but I may have shoved her out of the way with a polite "BACK OFF MY KNITTING PORN MINE MINE MINE". (What? I made her tea after.)

The Mason-Dixon ladies are a hoot (not that we didn't already know this). I particularly liked the bit where they joke about making a new novelty yarn called "Pound of Woe": 50% burlap, 50% fiberglass. I'm in love with all the log cabins. Think of how far you could take that idea. The patterns in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts are not complicated at all, but it's got a good intro section on technique to go with it, which gets total props. Nice books both, can't wait to knit from them. And you know. Finish something eventually.

I'm on the 3rd Chart 1 repeat of Icarus now, I'm guessing a bit less than half way through. After discovering a mistake deep in the 1st repeat, I put a lifeline in. (What's that you say? But playing a game of "chicken" with laceweight could be fun? I don't believe you) Here's a parting shot for the road, before I go off to seek my fortune for the day:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Stumbling at the Finish

Oh my sisters, I thought I was going to have a finished 1930 to show today, but instead I have a tale of sadness. I finished up the pieces on Thursday, blocked them all out carefully and looked with much anticipation to the sewing-up, the finishing, the ooh-la-la... But then Things started to happen.

Thing 1: I have been unwittingly knitting with two different dye lots... because in my euphoria of stupidity, we'll call it, I forgot to check when I bought the yarn. It only didn't become apparent until I soaked the pieces to block them. Sure enough, right there, I had two huge stripes of dye mis-matches right across two of the undies panels.

Thing 2: The cotton is stretching, not a lot, but enough to be uncomfortable. At first I figured, nah, I can still save this. I'll see what I can do right after I spend the whole morning and most of the afternoon put a single-crochet edging on both the top and bottom pieces to sort out this small-but-uncomfortable amount of curling the stockinette is doing. And then I re-measured the bra band and found it had lengthened by almost 4-inches.

Thing 3: The fit is actually pretty fine overall, except for the size I picked. My measurements fell in between two sizes so I sized up. Wrong-o. When combined with the stretchiness, I'm gonna be left with some saggy granny-panties. Which isn't the feeling the pattern is going for, I think.

So I have now what G, who has been vicariously watching through this whole process, is calling a "little pile of sadness". The dye-lot problems I don't actually mind too much, but along with the rest it's a no-go. I'll have to rip it all out, and re-knit the bra band and undies in a smaller size, with some elastic thread for re-inforcement. When, I'm not sure.

I could start now and try to just get it off the WIP list (unfinished things are bugging me in thesis-life and knitting-life these days), or let it sit and go back to Icarus or the Brennan cardigan. The cardi has really been so patient. I started it almost a year ago, thought I would be finished ages ago, but it's been passed over for newer sexier more glamourous knitting. The gals are coming over tonight for dessert & drinks. Time to consult the hive mind.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

In Progress

(Hart House preens in the sunset)

It is some strange and unknown law of thesis-ing that any day in which writing exceeds my normal expectations, the next day I feel that much more mentally stunted and can barely drag two pages out my pen before being distracted by shiny things like, say, the new Knitty issue. For some reason, whether or not I have meetings or office hours or whatever else to fill the other half of the day, I get the same amount of pages written, and no more. It's like my brain stops. So I don't know why I can't have two! personal! best! days in a row, especially when today I got to sit in my sunny kitchen to do it, but at least I did other useful things like laundry and dishwashing and housecleaning.

Part of the culprit yesterday was when my fountain pen ran out of ink. Karma keeping me from writing that 7th or 8th page. At some point I'll have to drag my laptop around with me but for now I'm a more portable worker when all I need is my stack of paper to cart around and a table where I can sit with a beverage. The disadvantage of this is when the guy 10 tables over starts giving me the "STARE MUCH?" face when I lapse into staring unwittingly at the wall behind him as my train of thought coughs and sputters on its way into the station. I must look so sane these days.

Speaking of sanity, it's been brought to my attention recently that pursuing a project of knitted undies may be a sign I am, shall we say, Not Quite Right In The Head. The words "knitting intervention" may even have been bandied about. (Strangely enough, all these reactions have not come from Muggles non-knitters. They actually usually go "WAIT. You can knit underwear?!?", or "ooh, pretty pattern." Don't be hatin', my knittin' peeps...)

So after seconds of careful consideration, I can come up with:
1. But did you SEE the button loops and the ribbon-edge trim and the SHINY?
2. It's my Thesis Progress Reward so I'll Knit Crazy if I want to.
3. There are far, far worse knitting crimes to be committed. Like a People Cozy which, okay, the deepest depths of February cold almost drove me to knitting.
4. Think of the other things I could be wasting my time on. I mean, it's far less dangerous to my person than, say, trying to do a hole-in-one with a Creme Egg.
5. Go on, wouldn't you rather have a knitted nightie or Space Invaders socks instead? (I know I want 'em, ZOMG.)

And speaking of Creme Eggs, lookit what's going to help me through that last undies piece. Then I'll block it and see what I'm really in for.