Friday Gauge Check: Really Short Week Edition

How is it Friday already? Okay, yes, Jack had surgery on Tuesday, and everything ended up shifted around because of it, but really? The end of January is closing in with alarming speed.

I’m somewhere between relaxed and stressed this week, and I really haven’t made the kind of progress on my projects that I really wanted to. I discovered that I dropped at least one stitch on Ribbed Sock #2, and the idea of sitting down to fish them out or ripping back to the point that I know it’s okay makes me want to cry, so Ribbed Sock #2 is going to sit in the Bin of Unfinished Objects and think about what it’s done. In the meantime, I really want to cast on another pair of socks, but the technique I want to try is toe-up two at a time, and I only have one cable needle long enough to do that on, and it’s currently being used for the Hermione gloves. This should be an incentive to get those finished, really, but what it’s actually doing is giving me an acute case of startitis. Maybe this weekend I’ll whine at Jack and see if I can talk him into buying me another long cable needle. They’re his socks, anyway.

I only got two posts out this week, but one wasn’t about knitting, so I accomplished half of my goal, at least. Next week should be more normal, so I’m going to keep trying for three posts a week. If you guys have something you want to hear me talk about, or if you have a question, leave me a comment or drop me an email at rippingback at gmail dot com.

This week I’ve also been spoiled rotten.

We thought the PS2 – which we bought secondhand from the local used bookstore when we moved into our apartment a year and a half ago (wow, it’s been that long) – was dying. It stopped playing some DVDs, and then it stopped playing any DVDs, and then it stopped playing PS1 games. In all cases, we got audio, but no video. So, after we cleaned out a bunch of hardcover books that we’d gotten ebook editions of and traded them for quite a lot of credit, we decided that we would use some of it to get a slimline PS2. Fantastic. Except the first one we brought home had the same problem. Okay, we thought, it’s broken too. It’s not terribly uncommon for PS2s to stop working like that; it has something to do with the laser. I played my PS2 game on it for about ten minutes and saved, while Jack surfed around and talked to a friend and figured out a possible solution to the problem – which made it stop reading the PS2 game too.

So we took it back, and traded it for another one. This one played PS2 games fine, but had the audio-no-video issue for DVDs and PS1 games.

“Maybe it’s the TV,” Jack says. Now, you have to understand that our TV was a very second-hand gift from his parents – we got it because it had one dead pixel in a place that drove his dad nuts. We also discovered that the component outs (I think that’s what they’re called; the one with five plugs) didn’t work, so we could only plug in either the Wii or the PS2 at any given time. Totally a first-world problem, I know. But we’ve had it for over a year now, and it not only has three dead pixels (which don’t bother me), but intermittently the screen will go black for a second or two. This isn’t a problem when you’re watching a movie, but when you’re fighting a boss battle, or trying to navigate an area where you have to see where you’re going or else fall to your death, it’s a big deal. But I was doing my best with it.

He looked at the finances, and made the credit card payment early, and declared that I was getting a new TV as a late Christmas/early birthday present. So that’s what we did. It’s a 26″ Sanyo, which is slightly bigger than what we had, but still perfectly suited to our cozy living room. It’s beautiful, by which I mean all the pixels work, and it shows video on everything that’s supposed to show video, and we might get a digital antenna and actually watch television on our television for the first time since we got our own place. It also has input for the computer, which is how we watch streaming movies on Netflix and stuff on Hulu and the like.

Let me preface this with the statement that I understand that most people do like television. I understand that I’m weird for having this opinion, and I’m not trying to sway anybody or act like I’m superior. This is genuinely the way I feel. If you’re the type of person who’s going to feel slighted if someone doesn’t like the normal things that you do, go ahead and skip the next paragraph. I won’t be hurt. Okay, everybody else ready? Let’s go, then.

In general, I’m not a live-television person. I don’t like the commercials, I’m not really interested in most shows, I don’t like having it on as background noise (I’d rather listen to music), and I hate the horrible time-suck that it represents. We’ll watch stuff on Hulu or Netflix maybe once a month or so, and we’ll watch TV when we’re in hotel rooms and that’s fine. The absolute most TV I have watched at a stretch in the past year was when Jack was in the hospital, and it was totally a sanity-saver. It gave him something to watch when he was intermittently awake, and it made me feel less alone when he was asleep. (You should ask him about the Longest Project Runway Episode Ever sometime.) TV signals going digital-only was the greatest thing in the world to me, because I wasn’t about to pay to get either a digital converter or a monthly television subscription, and this way I didn’t have to make an argument against turning the TV on.

There are, however, things that it would be nice to watch on occasion – when Lady Gaga was on American Idol, for example, or enough of a show that everyone’s talking about to remind me that my tastes are really weird and I probably won’t like it. Or White Collar, which is actually genuinely awesome.

But for me, the real benefit is how pretty my video games are, and how the screen won’t go black any more. FANTASTIC.

Anyway, that’s how I got spoiled: a working TV and a much smaller PS2.

I’ve still been staying on track for creative every day, although yesterday I didn’t pick up my knitting at all (I know, right?). Instead, I took another stab at Super Sekrit Project, which turned out… better, but not what I want it to be. I have two more ideas to try; hopefully one of them will work.

The first two thirds of the Super Sekrit Project have been given to their recipients, to much delight. Part #1 is an amigurumi octopus, part 2 is an amigurumi bat. Both were Christmas commissions for friends, and they were pretty fun to do. The bat was badly written, but in a way that was easy to work around. Part 3 is…vague. Very vague. Following the pattern directions exactly made it lopsided; adjusting the directions made it… less lopsided. I will continue to adjust and tweak until I make it work. I have faith in myself! For some reason.

I’m up to five and a half pattern repeats on the Argyle State University scarf, which is not as far as I wanted to be, but again, short week. I cast off Hermione Glove #1; all that’s left is the afterthought thumb, and I really ought to do that tonight, to make sure the pattern works, so I can bring it to roleplaying tomorrow. I even did two more rows on my basketweave scarf, which I’ve left sitting out so I keep working on it.

I’ve also been reading a lot of knitting books. I read Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks, which had more about the history of sockmaking than you ever realized existed, but is somehow engrossing all the same – at least, if you’re a fiber nerd like me. I also read Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne’s Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, which was absolutely fantastic and I can’t recommend highly enough. Not only was it interesting enough to read cover-to-cover, it has some gorgeous patterns that I really want to knit. I want to make something with a steek, though it scares me. Finally, I dug through Jillian Moreno and Amy Singer’s two plus-size knitting books, Big Girl Knits and More Big Girl Knits, which give me hope for my ability to produce a sweater that will look good on me. I’m on the very bottom edge of what is considered “plus size,” that nebulous zone that’s incredibly difficult to fit well, because I’m just barely too big for most regular lines and just too small for most plus lines. (Yes, my life is hard.) I’m also blessed/cursed with… vast tracts of land, shall we say. What that generally translates to is an inability to buy button-down shirts, or shirts in fabrics that aren’t stretchy, because anything big enough to fit my top hangs on me like a sack. Again: life is hard, yes. These two books are chock-full of suggestions on ways to accentuate the positive while adjusting the pattern to fit in all my places. Some of the patterns are genuinely beautiful, too, and I’m excited about possibly knitting one or more of them. (Most of them are short-sleeved, because I still live in Arizona.)

One of the things we’re planning on doing when Jack’s financial aid comes in is a tech purchase that will lead to some shifting around of the living room. Specifically, he’s getting rid of his desktop, and he’s going to let me have the desk for a craft space. What this means is that I’ll finally have a place to put a sewing machine. I’ve wanted one for quite some time, but I haven’t actually bought any of the ones I’ve found at Goodwill because I didn’t have anywhere to put it, and I definitely didn’t have the space for another craft. With the desk and the bookshelf that goes with it, I’ll finally have some space to spread out and give sewing a try. (This will also help with the “finding clothes that fit” thing.)

So, if anybody’s got a sewing machine collecting dust, I could certainly give it a good home.

I’m still playing Final Fantasy X. I’m up to the Calm Lands, and I still love it. I particularly love the system where you can switch out members of your party during fights; I think it’s brilliant, and I wish every game let you do that. It solves the eternal question of what to do with your white mage when nobody needs to be healed, for one thing. It’s challenging without being frustrating, and I’ve spent minimal time screaming obscenities at the screen/main character/enemy. The plot is interesting, if just a little full of religious fanatics for my taste. Watching a True Believer learn that life’s a little less one-sided than he thought is… sad, but he’s mostly managed to avoid going all the way to pathetic. I don’t quite dislike him, most of the time. Hopefully Wakka will finish falling apart and go back to being cute and bouncy again. I can also see why a lot of people don’t like Tidus, but I think he’s totally adorable. The scene where he was all, “I’M SORRY I DIDN’T KNOW I HOPE I DIDN’T MAKE YOU SAD” just made me want to hug him. He and Yuna have a surprisingly believable and nuanced relationship, too. (Jack says that Yuna/Tidus looks rather like Squall/Zell. I’ll let that hurt your brains for a minute.)

Now that I’ve talked FOREVER, let’s finish up with a few goals!

Three and a half pattern repeats on the Argyle State University scarf. Didn’t manage it this week (I think I got one and a half); I’ll keep trying. The trick is to put on a podcast and just go; I did nine rows this morning that way. I would be further ahead, but I found an error and had to rip back almost three rows.

Cast on Hermione Glove #2. Also do the thumb for #1.

Keep on Super Sekrit Projecting. Maybe this week I’ll finish? Maybe a new sock. Maybe some plotting on the Sekrit Glove Project.

Make time for play. Also reading. Reading about knitting…counts, somehow. Because I enjoy it.

Keep posting here! Because you guys are awesome.

Your turn, now that I’ve talked forever. What’s your gauge look like? Got anything new on the needles (metaphorically or literally)? What are you working on next week?

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~ by Amber on January 21, 2011.

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