Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm sorry I've been so cranky....

It's Christmas Eve and that means all of the holiday rushing and hustling is behind me and also, now that a couple of my kiddos are getting into adulthood (which I keep reminding them is totally overrated), means I have all 3 Things at home - yay!  I wish I could say that the holiday hustling being over is because I accomplished all I set out to do, satisfied every need, and made everything alright and well in the world but, alas, I fell short in so many ways.  Nah, it all comes down to a respect for deadlines. 

I think this comes along with being self-employed.  It doesn't really just 'come along', it's something you cultivate over time - often after many attempts to do more than you ever can and find yourself totally spent, completely saddened and feeling like a failure.  Sure, you can dust yourself off and try again but, over time, you get tired of that, too.  So, the wise person (or the one just beaten down by this repeated experience and desperate for a change) realizes there are tools and tricks to make things more efficient.  The wiser person realizes that you have to know when to stop.  When to call it done, even if you know you can do so much better.  After 4 layers of frosting on your daughter's fairy cake because you are sure you can do better on a wing - you realize that this level of tenacity for 'better' is a bit whacky.  Don't ask me how I know.  So, I try to operate with some mental picture of a target.  Then, an "I would really like to have x, y & z done by this date/time," then, "omg, this is due now!".  Then, the release - you've done the best you can, you've run the race, it's time to let the chips fall where they may.  Noon on Christmas Eve is my stopping point.  What is done is done.  What is not, well, it goes on my list of things I didn't get done.  I'm really still learning that letting the chips fall bit but it is so much harder than it sounds.

So, between shopping, all the holiday preparations, working, and getting around the school schedules, the transportation issues, and the ice storms, even a simple trip to acquire food for the family leaves me feeling growly.  But, that's not at all the kind of cranky I'm here to show you.  I was a little flabergasted this year when all three things requested socks and knits for presents.  We've just started to migrate out of those early teen years wherein it apparently became very embarrassing to wear your mom's handknits.
Thing 1 grew out of it quickly so I've been knitting for her for years but the boys have proven to be a challenge.  I cranked out a few pairs each of some simple black socks and maroon socks (their school colors) and knew those would be a go, but not very interesting color wise, huh?

So, for Thing 1, I pulled out the new EKF self-striping sock yarns - this was the intro to self striping that was the Happy Hooves Yarn Club feature last month.  The new colors will have 3-5 stripes of color in each sock.  I have to say, this is seriously laborious as a dyer and not without tears figuring the whole thing out and adapting my equipment to work but totally worth it!  While I was testing batches, getting used to the winding procedure and generally hating the process those first few times, I kept thinking, "this can't be worth it all."  I mean, how simple is is to just change colors when you need a new stripe?  But, then there's all the weaving in of ends, etc. and then, on the 3rd try when I achieved color striping perfection?   I totally got it.  There is just a rhythm and joy to knitting along on a simple sock stitch and having a rainbow of colors unfold.  And, by rainbow, I don't mean strictly bright, typical rainbow colors - the possibility of color options is endless and each round is a thrill - getting to the next one to change color again.  It made the hand knit socks go so much faster and, on the sock knitting machine - it was just pure, wicked fun!  These are for Thing 1 but Things 2 & 3 liked them so much, I cranked them a pair too.  We're at 7 pairs so far - I told you I was cranky!

Then I have my x-moose present to myself - a pair of  socks in my 'Cheshire Cat' colorway.  I love this colorway so much I could knit it over and over.  And, I have.  This is my 3rd pair in this colorway and the first I will keep for myself.  These socks go with EVERYTHING and while they are predominantly greys and black - those peaks of bright Cheshire Cat eyes just make me happy.  I can wear them with slacks and still feel adventurous - win!

The last pair were actually cranked in November but I'm just now showing them to you because it took me this long to close the toes.  Actually, one toe because my awesome friend Kelly closed the other foot for me a while back.  Yeah, I've actually been hanging on closing one toe for over a month!  Cranky!

These beauties are much more my style for knitting yarns.  This is my 'Bunch of Hippies' colorway and I love it for its bright, bold beauty.

I'm so grateful to this Kelly woman - not only because she's been an awesome friend to me (I know the combination of being super nice to her and saying so many nice things about her here will have a much desired effect of making her want to pinch me and that, my dears, is just how our friendship gig works - LOL) but also because she's kind of the reason there is so much crankiness here.  I'm embarrassed to say I have had this vintage sock knitting machine for about 5 years now.  I bought it for its charm - because I wanted to make LOTS of socks, and because the history of these machines just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  It reminds me every day of the resourcefulness, grace, and fortitude of women and I really dig that sort of thing.  But, mostly, I wanted to make lots of socks.  How disheartening it was to find that you don't just put it together and start a cranking.  It's a machine - Ugh!  I don't 'do' machines!  They break, they are unpredictable,  they need people with some machine skills and finesse to operate them!  Woe!  I tried watching countless videos, tried setting it up multiple times.  I'd make progress, get a sock done - go back the next day to make its mate and have yarn messing disaster on my hands and terrible swear words flowing freely from my mouth.  It was horrible and it went on for months before I finally gave up, put it in a box labelled 'Stupid Thing' and stuck it in the attic.

Then, said friend invited me & my machine into her lair where, as it turns out, she is a sock machine genius and she had it assembled, up and running in no time.  Then, there was that awful part where she had to watch me use it and tell me what we both already knew.  It wasn't the machine that was being stupid, it was yours truly.  She showed me how to be less stupid and, before I left, I had socks!  I've been cranking since and, wouldn't you know it, making LOTS of socks. For a while, when the machine would fall out of alignment or go crazy, I would panic and immediately start calling her name like Sheldon calls for Penny but, over time, I've actually learned how this thing works and I only pull a Sheldon when the stuff really hits the fan:)  She's always there whether I'm panicked or not and reminds me to be the machine's alpha, not the other way around.  I still experience surprise every time I pull a pair of socks off the thing and think, "I'm making this happen - ON A MACHINE!"  This from a woman who, more than once, has experienced a breakdown on the side of the highway and contemplated 1) trying to find out what is wrong and see if it can be fixed 2) calling a repairman, getting a tow truck and going through this fresh hell or 3) hopping a bus to the airport, using said funds for fixing car to relocate to a city nearby and forget where I came from.  Believe it or not, before kids - option 3 was my favorite and how I came to live, car-less, in downtown Austin for a few years.  I don't deal with machines well.  I have total breakdowns over broken machines.  This is not a quality that is serving me well in the current social climate.

I guess you could call this a happy ending.  I'm happy, there are socks, machine is fine.  I just wish, for once, I could have had it all - that it could have been a 'Stupid Thing' that caused all the problems, got magically fixed, and I remained a genius the entire time and am now even more, geniuser????
Ah well, a girl can dream. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!  I'm off to 'test' the caramel batches I made and sent out for holiday gifts.  Yes, they've already been tested but today's taste buds might be the best to decide.  I love the basic salted caramel but then I went and made a batch of bacon caramels.  I wish I'd have put more bacon in but I'll do that next time.  Lastly, there was the nut cluster blend wherein I put pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, white chocolate and dark chocolate in the pan, poured the caramel over it and salted the top - yuuuum!  I'm going to have some of those with a glass of cinnamon whiskey as my Christmas Eve fireside treat tonight!   Be well!  Enjoy your holiday!  Knit for sanity!


  1. Love your sockies, your yarn colorways, your attitude, and most of all, YOU! Merry Christmas, dear heart! ♥

  2. LOVE! I've been wanting a sock knitting machine for awhile. Perhaps I should start looking for one! Although I think I might need a friend to call too.

    Merry Christmas!