Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arts the Beatdoctor is watering my beans.

No, really. That's not a euphemism. He is.

The fella has ten Dutch hip-hop artists in Austin for SXSW, and five of them are staying at his apartment. That's a little too crowded for me -- but what about my poor, struggling potted plants, eking out an existence on the fella's partly shaded balcony?

Arts the Beatdoctor has been kind enough to water my veggies during his stay. Now, I'm not trying to ruin his ultra-cool hip-hop image or anything... but I tell ya, the guy's a sweetheart.

Otherwise... A friend said that today is the strangest day of the year in Austin, which is saying something. It's the day the film portion of SXSW segues into the music free-for-all, and all the gleaming Enterprise rentals head back as the sleeper vans and converted school buses roll into town. Whoosh!

If you're in town, try to make it to the Arts showcase tomorrow. And as Skiggy Rapz does his thing over Arts's beats, you can enjoy the thought of the man behind the turntables politely watering some potted bush beans.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good-bye, Sweet 29

Dang. Thirty? Really?

Oh well!

Today I turn 30. I did it quite well, in fact.

Yesterday, after work, I drove about an hour south of Austin to stay by myself at the Mountain View Lodge, near Wimberley. I got there just after sunset, and I had my priorities in order: first I sat out on my tiny private balcony and read a book* in the fading evening light.

This was the view in one direction:

Then I went inside and knit as I watched My Fair Wedding, which is a guilty pleasure and an insult to one's sophistication and intelligence, because really, David, do you need to have all that drapey white muslin? Again? And are you seriously comparing these hardworking, basically smart and well-focused ladies with a pre-Higgins Eliza Doolittle?

Gratuitous knitting shot of the Whisper Cardigan:

Shrugs look weird when they're only half-done, don't they?

I continued knitting during the Daily Show, then read some more before turning in.

In the morning, I woke up to see the view from my balcony in the morning light:

I love the Texas Hill Country. A playwright whose name escapes me at present once talked about always missing Texas, and always longing for one's "childhood geography." This is mine, and I'll always love looking out over the distance to see the faint outline of more hills on the horizon.

Birds chirped a lot.

I went for a hike on the short nature trail:

Regular readers know how I love the color blue. Perhaps this is why:

I drove back into town, stopping (uh oh!) at the Knitting Nest. It's never in my direct path on an ordinary day, but there I was at the Slaughter Ln. exit, and their lovely supply of Cascade 220 called to me. In my own defense, I totally know what I'm making with it: yes, wedding stuff. (Knitzilla strikes again!)

Now I'm back home, enjoying a day off of work and preparing to hit the town tonight for an Arts the Beatdoctor show. (Did I mention it's SXSW? Batten the hatches, folks, this town's been hit by a storm.)

I'm lucky in many ways. I have good people in my life, and I have things to look forward to. It doesn't get much better than that.

* The book is Guy Gavriel Kay's
Sailing to Sarantium, and I don't know how that guy does it, but he writes these rise-above-the-genre fantasies that somehow deal with all of life's evils and brutality and human mortality, and then they leave you feeling a little bit better about all of those things at the end. A serendipitous literary pick for the occasion.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Whisper Cardigan: When you're in love...

This week, I cast on for the Whisper Cardigan. After at least eight hours of knitting time, this is all I have:

The reason why I only have so much is that I must have cast on about six times.

It's been a long time since I cast on so many times for one project. But here's the thing: I want to wear this cardigan to the rehearsal dinner for my wedding in June, precisely three months from the day I cast on. I want it to be perfect.

(Remember my "knitzilla" theory?)

First I cast on with a backwards loop cast on, because I intended to work a hemmed edge to reduce curl. Then I observed my swatch and saw that it wasn't really curling, and besides, a hemmed edge would increase the thickness in what is supposed to be a whisper-thin cardigan. Hence the name.

Frog one.

I did a cabled cast-on. I bungled the number of stitches.

Frog two.

I did another cabled cast-on, and somehow twisted things up so that there was a big bump on the edge. Plus, given that I'm subbing a cotton/silk blend* for the laceweight merino yarn, I decided I should cast on a couple fewer stitches than the pattern says.

Frog three.

And so on.

Normally, I'm the kind of knitter who just says, "To heck with it, let's roll" to a lot of mistakes. But this cardigan must be perfect. I want it to represent everything that is good about my knitting.

Moreover, you know that pleasure you get from knitting a gift for someone? You spend the whole time thinking positive thoughts about them, which feels good. In this case, even though I'll be the one wearing it, I'm thinking about my fella, and I want it to be just right for him.

(Cue the awwwwws.)

But after the sixth cast-on, I figured something out. I hope it's not too much of a stretch (because I can't stick the cotton/silk blend in the dryer to put it back into shape), but knitting this cardigan is like a good relationship. You try your hardest, and there is lots of starting over. Ultimately, you decide to accept the imperfections as best you can and love the entire product for what it is.

That is, unless you eff up the decreases on row 31. Dang it!

* I'm using Bristol Yarn Gallery Lyndon Hill. It's a little thicker than what's called for, and the cotton/silk content is making me knit it at a tighter gauge than the pattern says so that I can account for the droop.

Yet, as in any long-term relationship... can you really account for the inevitable droop?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hanami: I've got this much...

I've gotten some tips on photo-editing software that ought to tide me over for a little bit. Please munch on the luciousness that is almost half of a Hanami:

This Hanami is on my impossible wedding knitting list, as a gift for someone who's helping out a bit. It might get done, but then to be perfectly honest... and I feel just awful about this... I don't think I can give it away as a gift after all.

Here's my reasoning:

Row 1: "I sure hope _____ likes this stole. It looks like a lovely pattern."
Row 35: "_____ will love this stole! The pattern is phenomenal."
Row 50: "I would love a stole just like this one, if it weren't pale pink."
Row 120: "Maybe pale pink isn't such a bad color after all."
Row 185: "I bet _____ wouldn't like pale pink at all. Nope, I better keep this one and buy her a handbag instead."

I'm not claiming to be a nice person.

In the meantime, I got hit with a wallop of project-lust when I stared too long at the Whisper Cardigan and went blind to all other knitting. I ordered my yarn, and the swatch is drying just a few feet away from me at this very moment. My justification for throwing over all other WIPs? Wedding knitting, of course! Like everything else. It would be the perfect sweater for the Friday night rehearsal and such.

Knitzilla, anyone?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I hate Windows Vista

I have a new laptop. This is good.

It does not have any graphics software. This is inconvenient.

I have the CDs for Microsoft Picture It! Publishing. This has potential.

Microsoft Picture It! Publishing 2001 doesn't work with Windows Vista. This is irritating.

Beyond belief.

See Cobbalicious run. See Cobbalicious take pictures. See Cobbalicious plot to turn Microsoft into the multinational corporation-sized crater it deserves to become.

See Cobbalicious sigh with resignation and poke around the harder-to-use, less-equipped photo editor software that came with her laptop.

Wish her luck.