Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The definition of insanity

I know that I was - er - cranky about the pattern errors in the last Kate Gilbert design I knit, but I decided that as long as I knew that it would probably mean a whole new world of pain, it would be okay to try another one of her patterns. It's a basic seduction - dysfunction - seduction - dysfunction cycle. Currently we're in a seduction phase and all is well.

I've had my eye on the Wintergreen Mittens for a long time - I think they are pretty and I was also curious to learn the color cable technique, this despite the fact that in 16 years of knitting, I have never done colorwork (Sheldon looks like he involved colorwork, but it was really just stripes. Honestly.) So why not learn colorwork the hardest way possible - in the round, with cabling thrown in for good measure?

So far, so good. The yarn is my favorite: Blue Sky Alpaca sportweight.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Benny the not entirely super Super

Benny is the superintendent for our building. As supers go, Benny is okay, especially given the fact that we're in a rent stabilized apartment, which often means that the landlord has given the super explicit instructions to ignore any tenant request that does not have the word "fire" in it. He's quick with disaster management (e.g. sudden torrential ceiling leaks, of which we've had three), and over the three years that we've been in the building, he's really developed his amateur general contractor skills, most notably during the epic re-painting of the entire common space of the apartment building, which involved smashing what we affectionately referred to as the "barf-tastic" stucco finish on the walls, hanging sheet rock, and painting over the entire new surface in what Benny said was "linen white" color paint. Benny is originally from Puerto Rico and even though he's clearly in his late 50's and has a bit of a beer belly, he still strikes me as the kind of man who could really take care of himself in a fist fight, which is why, in one of my brief conversations with him about the building renovations, I was charmed by both the fact that he bothered to note the official shade of white he was using and his pronunciation of it: "leeenaan whayt."

Our downstairs neighbors have had a problem with a very slow leak in their bathroom ceiling and because there is a proportional relationship between the level of threat and the speed of response, it took Benny a while to address the issue. I was pretty sure that because our bathtub has a hole in the tilework right where the cold water faucet comes out of the wall, water from our showering was dripping down to the space underneath our bathtub - to our neighbor's bathroom ceiling, in other words. Sometimes when I get in the shower I honestly think to myself that this could be the time that the weight of my body causes the rotted-out wooden floorboards underneath the bathtub to give way, causing the entire bathtub to fall through the ceiling into our downstairs neighbor's bathroom. In fact, several months ago Todd drew a line on the wall to chart any new sinking of the bathroom floor.

Benny stopped by a few days ago to address the issue of our neighbor's ceiling leak. Noting the hole in the tile, he did what he had actually done a few months ago when he stopped by our apartment to fix an unrelated bathroom problem: He stuffed toilet paper in the hole. Oh, yes.

To be fair, I think this time he mixed some caulk in with the toilet paper. I can't really tell and I don't want to poke it because I'm afraid of pushing it into the hole. We'll just have to wait and see if the seal dissolves after a few showers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dr. F!

I've been busy, but not with knitting (and not with several conference papers, either, but I digress). Rather, together with some friends and my clever composer husband, I have made my first and perhaps last amateur video.

Here's a bit of back story: Basically, during the Hollywood writer's strike Joss Whedon created a 45-minute piece called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." It was distributed for free for about a week on a website and then it was moved to itunes, where you can go and download it for a nominal fee (I recommend you do so - it's pretty funny). Dr. Horrible is an aspiring villain seeking membership in the Evil League of Evil; the show is basically the story of his quest to get there; along the way, there' s a love story and lots of great musical numbers. Dr. Horrible's sing-along blog was also a not entirely veiled critique of the current power structure in Hollywood - so Dr. Horrible is clearly a symbol of Joss Whedon/writers and artists, and the "hero" (really the villain) Captain Hammer is clearly a symbol of studio executives, and corporate interests more generally.

The show did very well, and in preparation for an eventual release of DVD, Whedon and his people have created an internet-based contest where fans are invited to create a character who is seeking entry into the Evil League of Evil and a three minute maximum application video. The best ones will be included as DVD extras. I am of course a huge Whedon fan and the idea for this script came to me in a flash - I literally wrote it in an evening and wrote the song lyrics the next morning. Todd wrote the brilliant music for the song. Of course, with the number of entries, we have a snowball's chance in hell of winning - but I honestly wrote this because it came to me, I loved it, and I really wanted to see it done.

And now it is!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

On the pleasures and perils of being a joiner

I'm not much of a joiner, but I have to say that I'm glad I decided to become a part of the Anthropologie Knits group on Ravelry. For the record, I actually have fundamental problems with Anthropologie - there was a critical shopper column in a long-ago New York Times that pretty much summed it up perfectly: Anthropologie sells you the history you wish that you had - Grandma's attic, if Grandma were an elderly hipster incarnation of Martha Stewart (okay, the Critical Shopper didn't put it quite like that, but you get the idea). To this I would add that the price point of Anthropologie suggests that their other major mission is selling hedge fund managers the soul they wish they had. Still, there is no denying I like Anthropologie's bohemian-esque style, though I refuse, for reasons both practical and ideological, to pay hundreds of dollars for it. The solution? The Anthropologie Knits group harnesses the taste and browsing efforts of many people who feel the way I do about Anthropologie's price point, and the result is great tips on patterns that look like Anthropologie sweaters. In preparation for fall, the group has been posting possible patterns for a knit-along, and I'm feeling quite torn. I've wanted to do Rambling Rose (but in one color - like this one on Ravelry) for a long, long time, but someone in the Anthropologie Knits group suggested Oblique by Veronik Avery. I don't think the pictures on Knitty do the sweater justice - this version on Ravelry, however, is inspiring. Basically, I think I like Oblique a bit more, but I know that I am not a huge fan of actually knitting lace (wearing it, sure) and the Oblique pattern doesn't have charts, which means that the lace will be even more challenging/self-loathing-breakdown-inducing.

As Indians say, "What to do?"