Thursday, July 13

Life trumps knitting

Sorry if I've been scarce lately - failing to reply to comments, failing to comment on your blog, and so on. I've been making a real effort of late to get my so-called shit in order. After a few months of almost complete inactivity and lack of motivation, I've taken a few big steps that will help me get to a better place. However, all this positive change is really cutting in to my knitting time! The USMP is moving along; I started the increases for the front flap. I think that's the only thing I've worked on, in fact. It still fits me quite well... at my current weight. One of the steps that I just mentioned was joining a gym! When I said "inactivity" I really meant it. I've gained too much weight for my body and I just don't feel like a healthy person, at all. I used to be very active - I played soccer all through high school - but since then I've struggled. The gym I joined (Healthworks, for those in the Boston area) is awesome. They have a ton of classes every day that I think will really help motivate me (I'm going to try "Cardio Strike" tomorrow - wish me luck!) and the facility itself is great. I'm really excited. Today I had my first workout in about a year. Anyway, I'm going to stick with it. I have to. And when I'm done, maybe that USMP will be a little baggy instead of skin-tight :)

Oh, and a quick movie review: Last weekend we saw A Scanner Darkly, and I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn't stand Waking Life, and I have an unveiled dislike for Richard Linklater. But I liked Scanner, and I think I know why - Linklater didn't write it. Well, he wrote the screenplay, but the story wasn't his.
The supporting cast - namely Robert Downey Jr, Rory Cochrane and Woody Harrelson - really carried the movie and made it worth watching. Cochrane in particular was just hilarious and wonderful. But I don't know. Certain critics were touting Scanner as "mind-blowing," a "head trip," and so on. But it wasn't, really. We were expecting more of the trippy stuff (although what was there was pretty great - Freck's hallucinations especially). In the end, I did like it a lot, but mostly because I was prepared to hate it and I found it to be such an improvement over Waking Life.

Wednesday, July 5

The grand WIP tour

If you glance at my sidebar to the left, you might notice that I have quite a few WIP's going on. And that list isn't even completely accurate, as a few projects haven't even been added yet. Before Brian moved in, I had free reign of the apartment. Projects were stored all over the house - on chairs, in closets, and at least 3 behind the pillows on the bed. Now they're relegated to just a few spots, and in lieu of more substantial content, I'm going to show them to you! (Bonus: if you stick around until the end of the tour, you'll get a peek at my progress on the USMP - on my body!)

The main area for unfinished projects is this plastic bin, which sits atop 3 other bins that contain my stash:
WIP Tour - the bin
These projects are the ones that I'm least likely to pick up and work on; sad but true. Let's see... the yellow bit poking out of the black bag on the left is my Tina shawl, still unblocked. The blue sweater is a Rogue that I started over a year ago; body complete, sleeves nowhere to be found. Above that is a bit of Lady Eleanor (which I WILL get back to and finish, once I get some other things out of the way). Bottom right corner is Butterfly, and the green/gray is the striped Cascade 220 raglan that I've mentioned - almost done with the yoke.

The projects that I work on more often live in the cabinet under my TV stand. This is also where my camera lives:
WIP Tour  - under the TV stand
Here's the back of Brocade, the New England socks, and the Northern Lights mittens (remember those? Yikes.)

Sometimes you'll find a small project stuffed in the drawer of the same TV stand:
WIP Tour - TV stand drawer
That's the new Regia sock I mentioned, as well as a bunch of random needles that I might need soon and didn't want to return to the knitting bag. And power adapters. And xbox games. And the flash for my camera.

And that's it! Except for whatever I'm currently working on, which lives behind my pillow - with two cats, nothing is safe. Nothing.

So, the Union Square Market Pullover. I hesitated in starting this project - I remember that a lot of people had trouble with it, in terms of gauge and fit, and I didn't want to waste my time on a doomed pattern. I don't know why I went ahead with it anyway. The call of fine, drapey alpaca must have been to much to resist. Jessica commented today, reminding me of the problems she had using the same Frog Tree alpaca. I freaked out and decided to try the thing on:
Union Square Market Pullover progress

Don't mind all the curling, just notice that right now, it fits. Not too much ease, but it's not pulling and puckering terribly (which could have happened with my too-tight gauge). I'm going to keep a close watch on it as I go and hope that it doesn't stretch out.

Ooh, one last thing: I don't know how many of you are Food Network junkies, or, more specifically, Good Eats/Alton Brown fans, but. Alton Brown can do no wrong by me, and this recipe for French Toast is SOOOO good! It has an extra step or two, but totally worth it. Try it out this weekend if you have a little time.

Monday, July 3

Damn my wandering eyes!

The stash sale was a success - everything's gone except the Lampe's Lumps handspun (which I doubt I'll ever use, so if you're interested but balking at the price, just make an offer). Thank you to everyone who bought something - your packages are out (but may be a little delayed due to tomorrow's holiday).

I'm still being quite unfaithful to Brocade; in fact, I've committed quite a major sin in starting another sweater. On Friday I cast on for the Union Square Market Pullover (from the fall '05 Interweave), using this Frog Tree alpaca that I bought at Webs a few months ago. Poor, poor Brocade. Why did I do it? I felt like I needed a plain stockinette project. Normally I'd just reach for a sock but I'm in no mood for dpn's (no idea why). So the USMP it is, on size 2 needles - some Crystal Palace bamboo circs that I got in a swap. The metal join hasn't bothered me at all yet, and I'm very thankful. I'm almost done with the waist decreases already, and I think my gauge is okay. I'll post pictures once I'm a little further along - I bet you can guess what it looks like :)

Oh, and guess what I got? A free copy of Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature! My mom's friend at work, Jill (hi Jill, if you're reading!) had a copy and decided it wasn't quite up her alley, so my mom scooped it up for me. I'd almost bought a copy a few weeks ago, but the price made me return it to the shelf (it's pretty cheap on Amazon, though). Anyway, just looking through this book is a wonderful experience. It's gorgeous; every piece is interesting. After a quick glance through, here are some of the patterns that jump out at me as possible projects: the Hex coat (but in Lopi? Yowch!), Cabled Spiral pullover, Ram's Horn jacket (love it!), Phyllo Yoked pullover, and Sunflower tam. I love many of the other designs as well, but the shapes just don't look flattering. I could see myself using the motifs in other contexts, though.

Onto film, anyone?

I'm a pretty big fan of Michael Haneke; I find his films to be very challenging, unique, and sometimes disturbing - even if you don't particularly like what you've seen, it sticks with you. His most recent film, Caché , was just released on DVD, and I watched it on Friday.
from Michael Haneke's Cache

Caché is about a couple (Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil) that receives mysteriousurveillancece-like videotapes of their home (along with some creepy drawings), but it's not a simple suspense-thriller. It turns into an exploration of guilt and history (specifically France's history with its Algerian immigrant population). I loved it. I found it completely successful as a fulfillment of Haneke's concept and fascinating in terms of the dynamics within the family (issues of trust, detachment). I tend not to watch the extra content on most DVDs, but after watching Caché I watched the interview with Haneke on the disc. It was wonderful hearing his motivations for making the film and his little jabs at American movies and our need to have everything be resolved in the end. Whatever Haneke does next (even if it is an American remake of Funny Games - how odd) I'll be more than willing to give it my time.

Another few quick notes on stuff I've watched lately - after renting Bleu over a month ago, I finally got around to Blanc and Rouge. They were both quite lovely. I enjoyed Blanc more than I expected (for some reason I thought it centered more around Julie Delpy rather than the male lead, and she rubs me the wrong way) and Rouge just blew me away entirely. I also rented Funny Ha Ha, mostly because it was filmed in Boston. I liked it, initially, but at a point it almost became unwatchable... a bunch of awful, awkward moments taking place in some recognizably shabby Boston apartments. And, lastly, Battle in Heaven - I almost wanted to give this film its own paragraph, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to many people for a few reasons. It's not an easy film. It's explicit, but it's slow, deliberate, meditative. It's shot beautifully but what's addressed is so ugly. That said, I really, really liked it... it's just not for everyone.

I hope everyone has a lovely day off tomorrow. We have nothing much planned here, except to watch the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN at noon - I'm not a fan of sports at all, but I could watch Competitive Eating all day long. I love Kobayashi, but I'll root for Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas in most match-ups. There's also a soft spot in my heart for husband-wife team Richard and Carlene LeFevre.... okay, please tell me there are some other fans out there! I'm going to slink away and try to hide my obsession.