Summering Along

In light of the fact that I don't really have anything else to post about, I'm going to offer you an update on all the things happening in my life at this point. I hope you're all deeply interested. Ha!

Ok, so being home isn't as bad as I feared, but I haven't really accomplished much. You'll note that the design around here isn't what it usually is (this is the time of year that TealArt usually gets budgeted into attention/time budget), I've of course done a lot of knitting, and a (very very) little reading.

While I strive for knitting accomplishment, and really enjoy finishing a project, I think I've discovered that finishing written things provide a greater sense of accomplishment. Which is interesting, because last semester my course work was entirely based on papers, (2 classes, 4 hours, out of 23 hours, had tests in addition to two papers) and finishing a paper wasn't particularly exciting. Now I think next semester might be a little bit better. I don't have to figure out any new disciplinary method (last semester I took two classes outside of my majors, and felt like a fish out of water, pretty much the whole time), and I'm only taking 19 hours: well, certainly no more than 19.

Once upon a time, I used to preach that, the need to write, simply to write, is what defined a person as a writer. Since then I think I've moderated a bit, as I have found lots of writers who don't seem to partake in this "need to write" urge. Also, as I've gotten more busy with academic work in the last two years, I haven't been pressing a fiction project as I did when I was writing Circle Games. (I'd like to say, that the binder carrying CG goes almost everywhere with me, though I haven't really opened it much of late.)

I've pronounced Another Round, what would be my second novel project dead, more than once, and eventually when I get the urge to write I revive it and work on it some more. I have a pretty good start, but not really enough of an urge to put in the effort it deserves. I kept a window open for a few days and wrote 3-6 pages, give or take a bit. While this isn't anything to spit at, it's not the kind of energy it could have been, and I'm not feeling it. I also know that, well it's crap. I mean I think the story is engaging, and it's not the right for me right now. I think the allegory and social commentary aspects are all set up, but there isn't depth. And try as I might, 20,000 words and the characters aren't fully formed. For Circle Games they were and still are. And the genre doesn't feel like something I'm into any more. I haven't been reading it. I haven't been thinking it. And I don't have the science background to believe it for myself. Maybe this is the same argument that I've been making for a long time, and maybe I mean it this time.

While it's good to know this about myself and my writing, the problem is that it leaves me with a metaphoric blank page with the words "Great American Novel" at the top. You all will probably remember this winter when I talked about writing another all new book. Well at the time, before the shit hit the fan, I made some notes for a story, which I rediscovered as the summer started, and I found that it wasn't really all that good. So I'm back to the drawing board, and I don't have anything. The problem becomes that as soon as the blank paper appears on the screen I get the undying urge to knit, which I don't fight because I like to knit and all. So I have something of an impasse on my hands.

In the past, in addition to some sort of fiction project, I've had some other writing related project. It was mobile technology, it was TealArt, it was gender theory musing. I think knitting should be my next thing, because it makes sense. I'm not going to make the mistake of trying to start my own website above and beyond TealArt. I'm not that digitally charismatic, nor do I have the time resources to tackle a project like that alone, and somehow I doubt I could Tom Sawyer Chris into that. On the other hand, I realized a few days ago, that I really like editing, and that side of things. So maybe doing a periodical of some sort would work out. The other thing is that, the knitting community, for lack of a better term, functions very differently. There are a number of fairly successful knitting blogs (I read about 12 of them), 1 big online magazine, another much smaller one, and then thousands of every day knitters that maintain blogs, with varying readerships. There are also 2 or 3 print magazines (depending on how you count Vogue-Knitting; I don't). I'm not going to register a new domain and start a knitting blog, I have a blog, this one, and it continues to satisfy all of my blogging needs. Which leaves designing; I already make the designs, so writing them up wouldn't seem to be too hard; and general knitting writing. I have fairly entertaining curmudgeonly opinions about knitting, but they aren't new, and at least on Knitty there have been a few articles that describe my technique, so I could probably scratch that. There's already columnist for Knitter's Magazine who has the "talk about knitting and life" shtick down (and she's wonderful) so that might be a hard sell to make. Anyway, I'm thinking about it.

Enough about writing. On to real talk about knitting, because that seems to be the only thing that I've kept up consistently.

Near the end of the semester I made a shawl out of 50/50 Silk Wool Zephyr Lace Weight yarn. It's about 4 ounces of yarn total. Pi Shawl (that is Elizabeth Zimmermen's shawl pattern that's circular and has these increases that happen in groups (the number of stitches double as the diameter doubles. so every 3, then 6, then 12, 24, and 48 rows there is one round where the number of stitches double. The pattern is drop dead easy, and combines the right amount of mindlessness with possibility for creativity. I've done this kind of thing before. Now I've made 4 ones of very passable quality, and another 3 (earlier) experiments which fail to stand up to even the lowest judgments of quality.

After I finished the Zephyr shawl, I started one using Skacel Merino Lace Yarn, which I'm convinced is the perfect lace yarn. It's cheap, 13 bucks a skien (100g; 1345 yards), and one skien will make an entire shawl. I finished that shawl today. It's more complicated, with more lace, but it's really nice. In a dark teal. I of course don't have any use for these, but they're fun to make. They'd make god gifts, and I could probably be convinced to sell them.

As for current knitting, I have a few projects that I'm working on. The main project at the moment is a red, alpaca, shawl. Rather that work lace patterns, I'm doing textured patterns. It's a subtle effect, but I think it will keep me interested. Preliminary testing shows that I need to work on improving the patterns a bit, and that while it may require about the same level of engagement, the pay off isn't as great. Nevertheless I'm going to continue this, at the moment because I think this is about as close to a "manly" shawl as I'm going to get. Lace, though beautiful, isn't terribly practical for day to day wear, in the same way that texture might be. I'd like to complete one shawl like this just to try it out. I've also started knitting on another one (I know I know), out of a cone of yarn I bought almost a year ago. This is part of a stash reduction attempt. At the moment, I'm using it as a swatch to test out another texture pattern that will pop up later in the red shawl. Also, as the red shawl is a project for this weekend's MidWest Morris Ale, I want to be extra sure that I don't run out of yarn. I'm pretty damn sure that I'm going to run out of yarn on this one, which is ok, because I'd like to edge it in black, and it's a kind of yarn that's fairly easy to get.

Other projects which aren't within arms reach at the moment, and remain on the plan for this summer (and beyond) are: The sleeves for a sweater I made this semester, some sort of very simple, stole/scarve using some hand dyed yarn in my stash (quick-y project). There's also enough zephyr for another 2 shawls, and I have another skein of merino lace weight. Also, I'm going to buy a pound of Tencel yarn to make a shawl or four. In some order. When I get back to beloit, I have my Ram's Horn sweater to take a stab at for a third try, and a few other that I can make.

In terms of current and upcoming main projects, I have the two shawls currently under way, then the sleeves, then probably the Tencel, and probably another Zephyr one in greens if I have time this summer. Then back to Beloit, where I'll work on whatever shawl is still on the needles until the weather breaks and I can do some fall sweater production. Then again, this could all change with my whim.

Now to tie this all together. I'm a big project kind of guy. I haven't really been able to write fiction unless it's as part of a big project; I find knitting things that aren't big projects to be a bore (in the neighborhood of 20,000 stitches and 20-25 hours of SERIOUS work), and I think that both my writing issue, and this "knitting character" come from the same place. On the upside, I've found it much easier to knit the big projects, than it is to write them, but the time scales are way off.

Now that I've tied this monster of a post into a nice little bow, I think I'll compleatly wreck the ending by talking about my computer situation.

I upgraded, and passed off my trusty little iBook to my mother. In it's place I have a very shinny very nice, Powerbook G4 15". I'm psyched about the extra hard drive space, (of which I only have 30 gigs free, along with 20 gigs on my iPod). The speed is nice, the video memory is really nice, the screen is to die for. I'm not terribly wild about the heat output, or the battery life, in comparison to the ibook, but I think part of it's the season (having a warm computer on your lap or under your hands is more of an issue when it's hot out than it is in the depths of Wisconsin winter (when I'm also more likely to have a blanket and jeans between me and the computer in the winter). I'm going to need to upgrade the ram, at one end of the fall semester or the other, but I expected that. Sooner or later I'm going to have to buy an external firewire drive for backup and additional storage, but that's more or less unaffected by the new computer (it forestalls it a little bit because I now have about 50 gb of space to play around with, rather than 15-20 gb). We'll have to see how much I end up carrying around the computer. I've occasionally rethought the PDA question, but any time that I would carry around a PDA as it is, I already have the laptop. This might change, we'll have to wait for the school year I suppose.

Ok, I think I'm done. I'll see you all soon.

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