Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Final Olympic Moments

I can do this. Even through all of the challenges and difficulties that I have had to face. I CAN earn this gold medal. It will be mine.

Ok. I just need to regroup and organize. I have the first mitten knit up to the top decreases. I could have finished the thing, if I hadn’t left my knitting bag at work one night. But, I’m going to be positive. Make a plan. Yeah, that’s it.

Ok. So, with one mitten left and two days, this is possible. I have to finish the first mitten today and get the second one to the point where the hand is almost done again. Basically knit that one up to the hand decreases today, and then finish it tomorrow. Ok. The second mitten always goes more quickly because I have spent so much time planning and setting up the pattern. The second mitten becomes a nice and easy straight knit.

These mittens do look a wee bit small. I should probably have my daughter try them on. You know, I have to be honest. I didn’t think that I would still be sitting here with two days left, planning every minute to meet the deadline to earn the gold. I thought that my “challenge” was a bit lame. I mean come on! It would take one day to dye the wool, a few days for it to dry, and I can knit an adult mitten in two days… so two smaller mittens should take less time, right? The entire project should have been done in about 8 or 9 days, tops. Just over half of the time the Olympics are on. Why is it, then that I’m rushing to get this done? Well, the dying took three times longer because the colors wouldn’t get dark enough, and then creating the pattern whipped my butt! But, it’s ok. I’m going to make it.

Ok. Here’s my daughter. I’m going to have her try it on and see if the decreases are ok. YIPPEE! They are. What? What did you just say?

Oh, shit! She doesn’t WANT mittens. SHE WANTS URBAN GLOVES JUST LIKE THE ONES I MADE FOR MY HUSBAND. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

I guess I can kiss that medal goodbye. Gotta go rip out this mitten, rewind the wool, and start all over again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Top 10 Reasons That I Will NOT Earn the Gold Medal

10. Personal trauma. Mother-in-law ended up in the hospital the week before the games with a heart attack. The Sunday after opening ceremonies my DH was in the ER with his own chest pains. They did a heart cath on Monday which turned out good (he has to exercise more, but no blockage that needs to be treated right now).

9. Limited training time. Everytime I turned around, time was taken away from me to practice swatches, chart potential patterns, or read up on dying techniques.

8. Dying Dilemmas. Crap! The dying took twice as long as it was supposed to. Thanks to a blizzard, I finally got the yarn somewhat dark enough, but it still needed two more days to dry! Maybe I bit off a wee bit more than I could handle with this?

7. No knitting time.
Ok. Could my daughters, who I dearly love, please take a break from all of their sporting events so that I can knit? Why is it that they have to be involved in swim meets, basketball games, and basketball tournaments? I mean, what is really more important in life, that they build confidence and develop their skills as part of a team, learning how to work together and strive to better themselves, or I FINISH THIS GOD D#!M KNITTING? It seems pretty clear to me! They need to sit at home, quietly, while I work to get this virtual medal!

6. Crappy spectators.
Every time I try to knit, someone asks me what I’m doing and I have to tell them the entire story of the Knitting Olympics. I need a sweatshirt, or a large hat, that says, “I’m Competing in the Knitting Olympics. LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Can someone come up with this, please?

5. The Frog pond.
After the wool dried and I wound it into little balls of cotton candy, I started knitting. The first ribbing (based upon the measurements from my swatch) was too loose. The swatch lied. I hate the swatch! Obviously, after it was knit and left to sit overnight, it got some grand idea to change measurementsnets so that when I measured it the next day it giggled away at its own cleverness. I ripped and started over on smaller needles. Then, after the ribbing, it has been rip, rip, rip, and rip again to get the pattern to fit into the space, because my entire pattern was developed based upon my SWATCH MEASUREMENTS!

I have thrown the swatch in the garbage. The sticky, gooey, smelly part of the garbage. Guess I got the last laugh there!

4. Equipment malfunctions.
It took me two days to find the US7 dpn, then I needed smaller. It took a lot of stomping, swearing, and sweating to find the US5 dpn. Of course they were right where I had left them, with my baby cap pattern. I hate it when I do that!

3. Bad tempers.
I have been so crabby lately that I can’t even stand myself. I have learned that it is much harder to be a single mom, especially with the year of medical problems that we have had. To recap – in August my father-in-law was hospitalized with a strange infection that was never truly diagnosed or treated successfully. In September he ended up back in the hospital because of the infection and my mother-in-law had a major stroke. Two parents in two different hospitals in two different cities. In October, my mother took her first trip away in three years and ended up in the hospital with a blood infection, bladder infection and a kidney stone. November – my mother-in-law had a procedure done to clean the arteries in her neck, and I had minor surgery for my endometriosis. December, you ask? Well, that would have been my mother, back in the hospital, for five days. January gave us some time off so that we could get the double whammy in February – my mother-in-law’s heart attack and DH’s chest pain. It has been quite a school year!

2. Cookies.
Did I mention that I am the “cookie mom” for my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout troop? Uh, huh! On Friday I get to sort out 2, 700 boxes of cookies for each of the 16 girls. Knit? When?

1 I feel the project has morphed into a living creature and is whipping my a##!

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Can you hear it laughing at me, too?

Oh, and the uneven dye coloring? I'm telling myself that it adds character!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blizzard Christine

I'm just like a kid, getting up at 4:30 am to see if school was cancelled. There was no snow, really, only about 3 inches, which won't close schools here! I sat on the couch for a few hours and shortly before 6:00am it was announced. My district, and my girls' district were closed for the day.

I was a bit shocked. There wasn't much snow on the ground, and it was supposed to have started this morning. I quickly hopped in my car and drove to the gas station and got myself a day's worth of coffee (our coffee pot have been broken for awhile). Then, after breakfast, we needed to run into town (about 10 miles away) to go to the bank. The trip there was ok, but I knew that the storm was barrelling in on my heels, and sure enough, 45 minutes later the road home was nearly invisible. But we made it. I must have been nuts!

Then it was knitting time. So far, my olympic debut has been pretty pathetic. I botched up the first batch of dye, then bought some more, only for that to turn out too pale. So I bought more kool-aid and finally, today, I have yarn! It still isn't exactly the colors I had hoped for, but it is close enough! I started playing with stitch patterns, and would like to do a mosaic pattern, but I can't find any free online resources. Know any?

Because I'm at home alone with the girls, I am the "do it all" person. Which means I get to run the snowblower. The snowblower and I got off to a rocky start a few months ago when she backfired on me at 6:00 in the morning, shooting flames nearly 10 inches out of the engine. I was afraid of her today. I had to call DH and ask him how to start the stupid thing again, and I nearly cried as I slowly upped the choke and engine speed. After that, I forced her into submission and she did a fine job for me. An hour later the driveway was finally cleared out so that I could return the videos I had rented for the storm (they were due back today at 5:00pm.... my fourth time out in the car - I forgot to mention my quick trip to the store to buy toilet paper because we were out). The roads were awful, and I was just about the only fool out there. Well I found out why everyone was home. The only store in my village, the store that I needed to get to in order to return my videos without a late fee was CLOSED. Figures!

Well.... back to knitting. And I can watch the movies again!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Know How You Feel, Michelle!

My practice runs have not been so hot. Luckily, there was no media there to record my demise, unlike my Olympic teammate, Michelle Kwan.

With the Olympic theme music playing, I entered the arena (my kitchen) and began my first steps of kool-aid dyeing with trepidation. I wavered. Should I go with the full immersion dye method, the painting method, or the “just sprinkle it on” method that a friend from spinning guild told me about? I floundered several times, and then decided that the colors would be darker if I sprinkled. I hear all of you moaning and gasping, “No, don’t do it! It will ruin your chances for the gold!” Why didn’t I listen?

Then, to cover up my mistake for the judges, I decided to overdye with the immersion method. I was going for two shades of blue, one dark and one light. I put the mix in the water, and for a dark blue color it looked very light. Then the fatal mistake. I decided to add a packet of “tropical punch” to darken the color. The package was blue, so obviously the mix must also be, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS???? RED???? Now my dye vat was mud colored. CRAP! I had to dump it out and rethink my entire strategy.

I decided to dye the lighter shade of blue with immersion. I got the water ready, added the mix, and OH MY GOD! THIS LIGHT PACKAGE IS ACTUALLY A DARK BLUE. I have now learned this important lesson:

Marketing is a bunch of crap!

The dye was dark, but the yarn, after soaking for over an hour and being coerced with vinegar, didn’t get as dark. I squeezed out all of the water and set the wool to dry, exhausted. Today, I will step into the competition ring and try yet again.

Hang in there Michelle, we can do it!