Category Archives: crankypants

Go With Your Instincts

I was talking to a friend last night about how knitting is the one area of my life where I’m quite decisive and don’t worry about consequences.  I will cast on, rip out, cut the yarn, quit when it’s too hard or I’m bored, start something entirely new because it’s pretty and I’m sad or whatever, and overall not really even care. I go entirely on my instinct for what I want to be doing at the moment.

So anyway I had a little yarn money to burn last month, about the same time I had an urge to knit Wrought Iron. Eat Sleep Knit was the only store with the Tosh Merino Light colors I wanted (Candlewick and Tern) in stock, and while I was there I decided I certainly also needed a skein of Violet Beauregard and Yoko. I had a vague notion of a shawl with those two as the main colors and any leftovers from the sweater making nice little accents.


I was well into another sweater when this arrived, but I still had the yarn wound and Wrought Iron cast on by dinner.

(cast on)

I wanted to alternate skeins of Candlewick just to be safe, so for a while knitting the front of this sweater involved wrangling 5 balls of yarn — 2 of Candlewick to alternate for each side of the front and 1 of Tern for the center panel.


It was a huge pain but I wanted this sweater to be as pretty as possible.

Now, another thing about the way I approach knitting is that if a pattern has tricky things in it I need to just go line by line and trust the text. I have a hard time seeing how a thing will knit up if I’m just reading the instructions. I could tell that Wrought Iron had an unusual construction so I just focused in on each step of the instructions and tried not to get ahead of myself.

Which is how I ended up with 6 extra cm of sweater front involving 5 balls of yarn, lace and intarsia before I realized I should have stopped knitting 6 cm ago.

(rip out)

It took me 4 hours to rip that back to where it should have been.

It took the rest of the afternoon to get the provisional cast-ons picked out, the shoulder stitches picked up properly, and the back neck cast on.

It took me a couple more hours to completely fuck up the short-row shaping, rip back to the provisional cast-ons, and redo the short-row shaping properly.

I spent the next morning happily (I mean, not so happily, really, I was already getting pretty fed up with this nonsense) knitting the back to the same (that is, 6 cm shorter than I thought) length as the front, and then FINALLY it was time to join everything up. I was feeling a lot less love for this sweater at this point, but I was ready to put that behind me and get to the pretty part.

Which is when I realized that when I ripped out the back and started it over, I had cast on the center back stitches between the outside edges of the shoulders. So, I had a Möbius yoke, basically, and also I had now had quite enough, thank you.

(cut the yarn, quit when it’s too hard)

And that’s the story of how I’m knitting the 4-color San Drea Shawl in Candlewick, Tern, Violet Beauregard, and Yoko.

(start something entirely new because it’s pretty and I’m sad or whatever)


The end.

Snow Day/Sock Day

A couple weeks ago we had hopefully our last big storm of the year, and I got to enjoy probably my last weather-related day off for a good while. It started while I was at work and snowed all day. By the time I got home the roads were slushy and icing up, and at 6 a.m. the next day things did not look like they had improved. I made myself a second cup of coffee and a giant to-do list and set about seeing what I could accomplish, knitting-wise and otherwise.


I cleaned out the fridge.



I stared in horror. I made an elaborate grocery list.


I worked on my latest socks.



These socks have taken quite a journey. They started out as Whiz Bang but I just didn’t care for the pattern — both the actual look of the sock and the written instructions — and the fit was totally wrong for me. I liked the slipped stitch idea, so I tried something similar that I kind of made up as I went, but that didn’t make me happy either. All that work to try to avoid pooling, and this is what the yarn looks like with just plain knitting; perfect little single-round stripes. These are gorgeous and they will probably be done today and I can’t wait.


Cleaning out the fridge led to a serious attack on the dishes because oh damn I guess all the dishes were actually in the fridge this whole time and I got the sink to completely empty, scrubbed and shiny, and there is one thing that a clean, empty sink always makes me want to do.






I washed all my socks. ALLLLLLLL of them. Of course, seeing them all in a nice clean pile in the dresser every morning has made me want to wear them every day, so now most of them need to be washed again. Vicious cycle and all that. But I’ve learned some very important things about my socks in the last few weeks!


First, remember these?


And how I was all upset that the second one was too small? Turns out my habit of putting socks on the absolute second I finish them and making a final pronouncement on how well I did knitting them isn’t the most helpful. After a bath, these both fit me just perfectly, so my year of socks project has a surprise finished pair to add to the total.


Pattern: just my standard socks for me, 64 stitches, cuff-down, aiming for about a 7″ circumference unstretched
Yarn: Barking Dog Opposites Attract, colorway Bonnie & Clyde
Needles: 2 mm Karbonz DPN’s
Started: 10/21/15
Finished: some time in November 2015
’15-’16:17 Progress: 3 completed pairs, 2 half-finished pairs, 1 pair this close, out of what should be I think 8 pairs by now?


The other thing I’ve learned — or I guess I should say admitted, since I kind of already knew — is that the few pairs I have that I’ve been ignoring the fit issues with for one reason or another really do need fixing. I have a few pairs that are just a squidge too small, and one pair that is just unacceptably small, and I’ve typically avoided acknowledging this by only wearing them in shoes. I guess it’s that the shoes keep the socks in place so they can’t do that thing where the heel keeps sliding forward towards the toes like it wants to fold your foot in half. But also my feet are just…different since I knit them. Maybe it’s arthritis, maybe it’s wearing heels less the last few years, maybe it’s working jobs that have had me on my feet all day, maybe 35 is just a cranky and intolerant age for me, but these socks don’t fit right, dammit, and I want them to fit right, so I am going to fix them somehow. Stay tuned.

Sort Of A Sleeve, And Other Things I’ve Been Up To Lately

I finished the first sleeve on the Green Lantern sweater, yay! But it doesn’t quite fit right and I changed colors too late for my liking so most of it has to be ripped out, boo.

Also, this is my "why the hell am I in school at my age" face.

Also, this is my “why the hell am I in school at my age” face. It’s my only face now. There are no other faces left.

I’ve knit a bit on a few different socks but overall the knitting has been moving slowly. I’m all sort of tired and weird lately, what with school and looking for a job while very very much not wanting to and trying to adjust to this stupid little apartment I should be grateful to have and all that.

I did find the energy to start up a new blog though! It is over here and it is called Feminism Yes But Also The Robots and it will be for long-winded transcripts of my thoughts on general pop culture, specific depictions of women in film, and whatever Friends episodes happen to be running through my head at a given moment. The first post is all about why Mamma Mia! is way awesomer than you maybe even knew (and I’m assuming you already knew it was way awesome). And if you already knew why it was even way awesomer, well, then, just you wait because I have 2 more Mamma Mia! posts on their way. It probably won’t be a blog just about how much I love Mamma Mia! though. Probably.

You got the bullets, I got the time.

Or, wait, no. Strike that. Reverse it. I give you my last 3-ish weeks in bullet points. Because moving is fucking exhausting, you guys, and I can’t handle a narrative right now. For serious.

  • We moved. No, let me be a little clearer, because I don’t think “we moved” really covers it. We moved from a 2-bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and a full basement and washer/dryer hookups and a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, we moved from an apartment we’d lived in for 7 years and I mean wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling lived in, we took an entire week to move and still didn’t quite get it right, into a rather small 1-bedroom with a kitchen in which it is not possible to open both the refrigerator and the oven at the same time, into an apartment so small that checking on dinner sets off the fire alarm in the bedroom, into an apartment so small I think it’s going to impact my yoga practice because I’m not sure I can roll my mat out anywhere that will allow me an arm span (I’m 5’1″), into an apartment without the glorious conveniences of a washer, dryer, dishwasher and garbage disposal, but with the definite advantage of saving us at least $200/month. Which is really what it’s all about right now. And we’re lucky to have it. And we were oh so very lucky to have the last place. So, you know, there are worse problems than ours right now. But I’ve had a very no-fun last few weeks so I’m still working out all the whining, so I ask you to bear with for a bit.
  • I’m documenting the unpacking and organizing to help myself see some progress because I feel like all I do right now is unpack and it doesn’t get any better. The progress pics are helping me realize that we’re getting a lot done, it’s just going to be tricky and take a while to get all our stuff neatly tucked away in the new place. Would you like to see? This is what we’ve got so far:
The view from the front door. This is where we do most of our living so it's been the main focus. There's a serious yarn situation happening behind the couch that needs to be addressed.

The view from the front door. This is where we do most of our living so it’s been the main focus. There’s a serious yarn situation happening behind the couch that needs to be addressed.

The other side of the living room. Our living room is very small. I have to move the coffee table to get this shot.

The other side of the living room. Our living room is very small. I have to move the coffee table to get this shot.


G.P. Hutchinson is serving as both a wall between the kitchen & living room & as the bulk of our kitchen storage. He's about the only thing in the kitchen that's organized so far. I really miss my food and my pans, you guys, but I just haven't figured out what I did with them yet.

G.P. Hutchinson is serving as both a wall between the kitchen & living room & as the bulk of our kitchen storage. He’s about the only thing in the kitchen that’s organized so far. I really miss my food and my pans, you guys, but I just haven’t figured out what I did with them yet.

  • School is going well but I swear I want to find everyone who’s ever told me since I was 18 and have had to justify to the world why I never went to college that “it’s different” or “you’d love it, it’s nothing like high school” and slap them a little. Because aside from there being no awkward social nonsense it’s exactly like high school —  poorly edited textbooks, teachers that don’t give clear instructions and then mark you off for not following the instructions they didn’t give, unhelpful office staff, etc., etc. But I made it through 10 years of this foolishness before and at least now I can drink, so I guess I’ll make it through this as well.
  • I knit a sock to get me through moving week. I think I’ll knit another one next.
Don't worry, I take the needles out before I wear them.

Don’t worry, I take the needles out before I wear them. Also, Zoe says hi.

  • CSA season is moving out of all-greens-all-the-time and we’ve started getting zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, and scallions. This means Smitten Kitchen zucchini fritters are happening all the time and it is such a wonderful time to be alive because Smitten Kitchen zucchini fritters are absolutely in the top 10 greatest things the world has to offer. I’m really not feeling the salads this year, though, and the cucumbers have started backing up on me, so tonight I made pickles.
At least I think they're pickles. I'm never quite sure if what I've canned is what I hope it will be until I open it and eat it and don't die.

At least I think they’re pickles. I’m never quite sure if what I’ve canned is what I hope it will be until I open it and eat it and don’t die.

  • I’ll spare you my whining about how small the stovetop is, but I will just say that it took 3 of my 4 burners to keep the canning pot boiling. I think I may need to read up on small-batch canning.

The One With The Jam Plan

I get Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” stuck in my head a lot. I think it has something to do with the rhythm of my dishwasher’s rinse cycle. Anyway, I hate that song with a burning passion. Would you like to know why? OK, I’ll tell you!

Aside from the banality of the whole damn thing, it’s because I don’t believe her. Or, more accurately, I don’t relate. I simply do not see how a mellow as the month of May face and tenderly call[ing] my name could make me lose control down to my very soul and get hot and cold alloverallover and be all, like, I JUST GOT TO HAVE YOU BABY. Since when are mellow and tender arousing demeanors? Am I hung over? ‘Cause if I’m not hung over, I don’t have much use for mellow and tender.

Also because when I was growing up there was a lot of Carole King’s Tapestry in my house alongside a lot of Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again and so I tend to compare the two even though they came out a decade apart and aren’t very similar in style so it’s really not fair, and also one is, if you ask me, way the fuck better than the other even though I’m not sure you’re allowed to say bad things about Tapestry. So, when I think “I Feel the Earth Move” I also think “All I Want is You” and, I gotta tell ya, in a competition between “when you look at me and you tenderly call my name” and “all I want is you and your Mack-truck lovin’ jumpin’ me, Jack, oh, Jack,” I don’t see any question as to which one of those wins.

(That story has nothing to do with the rest of this post.)

I made jam!

It went like this:

First I got my supplies together.


Then I got the boiling water canner, the lids, and the jars on the stove to simmer. I also put on a pan of water to boil in case I needed to top up the canner. Then I realized I didn’t have a burner left to cook the strawberries, so I got rid of the plain-water one. Nothing I had read had prepared me for not having enough burners (who has 5, anyway?) and this was where I started to get nervous-confused.


Then I trimmed 2 quarts of strawberries and measured out all my other ingredients (I was short on sugar and the nervous-confused feeling continued). And I cooked the strawberries just like the book said but oh golly I was getting tired of being in the kitchen literally watching pots to see when they boiled. (I’m much more a watch-TV-while-the-food-cooks type.)


Then I got a little, “Are you kidding me with how long this is taking?” and this is my face when I’ve been doing something longer than I wanted to but can’t stop without consequences.


When it was finally time to fill the jars, (1) I used the jar lifter the wrong way around, (2) I used the bubble remover the wrong way around, and (3) I started to think maybe this wasn’t the most soothing project for someone who watches as many detective series as I do.


But I got the jars filled and cleaned and capped and 7 half-pints went into the canner. The last half-cup of jam went into the fridge. I was afraid to get my phone too close to the steamy, boily pan with all the glass jars balanced on a thin wire shelf above it, so you get a picture of after I’d put the lid back on and felt safe again.


And then there was jam.


The stuff in the fridge tastes pretty great. All my seals look good. I have been assured by a knowledgable friend that being short on sugar (I used homemade strawberry syrup to make up the difference) and confused regarding foam and bubbles are not indications that my jam will kill me. Here’s hoping. I have 3 or 4 more canning projects I’d like to try this year before I decide whether this is for me or not. It’s an awful lot of work and very nervous-confused making. Maybe I just need practice.

I’ll keep you posted.

Very Specific Rules for Everything

I have always been very particular about how I like my entertainment, food, living space, really just about everything, arranged or presented or composed. The thing is, I often don’t know exactly how I like something until I experience it the wrong way. If you asked me, “Randi, what do you think of X?” I may not have an answer. However, show me/give me a plate of/make a suggestion for X and I will instantly form an opinion of whether or not it is perfect and I am willing to have it in my presence. It is also likely that if you ask what I want to watch, I won’t be able to settle on one thing, but reach for a DVD on my shelf and I can say with some certainty, “No, not that one.”

This can make it frustrating to hang out with me.

Other people will sometimes try to understand my rules, but I myself don’t even always understand them. For example, I’ve never been able to explain to anyone’s satisfaction why I love Crowded House and can’t stand Split Enz. Yes, they do sound very much the same to me, OK? I can’t help you here.

I do try to respect and assert my right to have my rules, however. I think this is because – and here I’m going to get into my very very sad childhood for only a sec, so bear with – growing up I was never once allowed to have anything at all my way everevereverohmygodyouguys. I wasn’t even allowed to state a preference, really, and if I did it came with consequences. So, part of being my very own grownup now involves stating my preferences and indulging them whenever possible. If someone else’s safety or livelihood or feelings are involved, I am certainly capable of backing off. But if I can be considered in any reasonable way in charge of the situation, then I speak up about my rules. (You see, I even have very specific rules for how I’m allowed to have very specific rules.)

I am sure I’m not the only one who does this, but it can feel that way sometimes. I think it’s probably more accurate to say I tend to be the only one around at any given time with my specific set of very specific rules, so when my rules are being questioned, I end up feeling all alone. (All alone and completely right about everything, of course.) In order to feel less like the only one and to realize that we all have issues, I thought I would share my very specific rules with you and ask you to share yours with me.

(Some of) My Very Specific Rules for Everything

  • I don’t like talking in music. Very few exceptions to this one, most notably PJ Harvey because, well, she can do anything she wants, can’t she, and who are we to tell her otherwise?
  • I don’t like pictures in books. I will read graphic novels but it’s very difficult for me to follow the story. I go pages looking at only the text or the pictures and missing big chunks of important stuff.
  • I don’t want to do a puzzle or read a story when I’m playing a video game. I tend to shout obscenities at the screen when I’m being made to talk to the guy in the house, then go buy the potion, then move the blocks into the right formation, etc., etc.  I just want to run and punch and stomp on guys, OK?
  • I don’t like lace in socks. Say it with me: Socks are for keeping feet warm. Lace has holes. Holes let the warmth out.
  • I don’t like my coffee to taste like coffee. I need cinnamon or chocolate or somesuch added in. I do like other things – ice cream, hard candy – that taste like coffee, though. No idea why. I think I just like things that taste like other things. See also: turkey bacon and rice pasta.
  • I don’t like love stories with sad endings. Why did I just waste those 2 hours of my life? WHY?
    • Sub-rule: I prefer that love stories with happy endings not do a lot of bullshit maneuvering to get to the happy ending. I’ll watch the hate-hate-hate-LOVE!!! stuff, but give me something like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where they fall in love and stay in love and the tension comes from external sources, or Music & Lyrics, where they fight and separate but it’s a realistic fight over something that matters, any day.

OK. Your turn.