For a moment, I'm between large knitting projects. I've recently finished my Bleecker Street cardigan and my Prairie Ridge Shawlette (SCARF). In the time since I've last posted I whipped up a bath puff with some cotton scraps and a simple baby blanket to use up one of those pound of love skeins that was taking up space in my stash. (And yes, I DO think that the light gray bits look like brains!)
I've swatched (to check for gauge) for a new sweater, and even washed my swatch, but I haven't gotten around to measuring it yet to cast on. It's a fingering weight cardigan and I just don't know if I have the mojo to start that at the moment. I've matched up my other sweater quantities of yarn with projects they'd like to grow up to be, but the light cardigan is the only one I currently own the pattern for, so it jumped to the top of the list. Use what you've got, right?
So in the meantime, I decided to pick away at that hex quilt I started many moons ago. Oh, this project feels a bit troubled to me! Several months ago, my parents were over and my dad knocked a full glass of red wine over......right into the bag holding my paper templates, finished block or two, and pre-cut fabric. I was a bit in a "throw the baby out with the bathwater" mood already when that happened, but my husband kept a level head and washed all the fabric in an oxyclean soak and laid it out flat to dry. In the end it was all saved, but I was annoyed by the whole thing, not to mention my behavior.
The other kind of irregular thing about it so far is that the hex template I had printed out from a Craftsy tutorial just never seemed quite....symmetrical. I could sometimes find a better fit between pieces by rotating them, which, as sort of a geometry professional, I knew was not right. On my last trip to the fabric store, I was enticed by a sale and picked up one of those fancy rulers shaped like a hexagon. I thought, I'll just cut out some new 5" paper templates and keep going. Sure, the first 3 blocks will not be QUITE the same, but it's ok and it will make the rest of the assembly much more smooth. It seemed like a valid plan.
I cut out a small stack of perfect 5" hexagons and set one in the negative space next to a completed block. In no way were the blocks I already had 5". At best, 4.5". While yes, I'm not exactly far along in this project, I HAVE already cut up a bunch of fabric for more blocks based on that original template. If I went up to a true 5" block, I'd have to really start over and that seemed like a waste. Instead, I painstakingly trimmed a bit at a time until I came up with an ALMOST perfectly symmetrical template the same size as my "5" lying wonky templates that I could use going forward.
It was really annoying.
However, I did manage to piece together the three irregular blocks I had already completed (note the wrinkliness from the wine bath, and further wrinkliness from not being perfect hexagons) - the front three in the photo above. I also took a few deep breaths and put together a fourth block (the orange one in the back), which happily took only about an hour. (For the orange block....not the rest of my whining.) As you can see, even though the fabric itself suffered the same wash as everything else, symmetrical hexagons make the whole thing lay much more nicely. I think I'll make the wonky flowers (that's what I'm calling them) the center of the quilt, and surround them by my now even new blocks.
Here is the whole thing draped over a chair in the dim February morning light for scale:
Slowly but surely, it's growing. Slow yes, but still faster than a fingering weight cardigan. For now I might focus my knitting energy on socks - I have a new two at a time pair going and I've turned the heels, so I'm in the home stretch!
Finally for today, I have to put a brag here. I don't talk a lot about my personal life, and if you are friends with me on facebook, you already know, but I am so damn proud I want to shout it from the rooftops. WE HAVE PAID OFF OUR STUDENT LOANS!!!! We graduated with two bachelor and two masters degrees between us in Dec 2006 and May 2007. We got married in October of 2007, so the majority of that total amount has been paid as a joint effort. Which, just for kicks and for the record, was an original loan amount of, drumroll and scary dun-dun-DUUUUUN music please, was $125,500. One hundred and twenty five thousand dollars. That's a modest house here in the midwest. Luckily we are both gainfully employed in our fields, so these degrees and that money isn't just in the wind, but, ouch.
I'm not entirely sure my husband felt the weight of it the way I did. I'm the money and budgeting half of our relationship. Before me, he had a little credit card debt. When we got engaged, I took away his card and added him as an authorized user on mine so that we could focus on paying his off. I am allergic to having a lot of expenses I can't just write a check to cover. Yes, I do sometimes make payments on 0 or 1% interest plans. I calculate it out to make sure I pay the whole thing off at least a month before that interest kicks in. I'm frugal, sometimes to a fault. If I'd had complete control over paying off our debt, I'd have been so crazy about it that it would have been gone a few years sooner, but likely so would my husband! He's more the type to buy the bar a round, where I'd be sipping water or nursing a single glass of wine to stretch my pennies. Needless to say, we compromised.
I can write more about how we pulled this off if people are interested. We aren't rich, far from it. We started out with pretty modest incomes despite advanced degrees - it's the nature of our field. We've grown over the past 7, almost 8, years of debt repayment to a fairly comfortable income, but still nothing terribly impressive when you put it up against pharmacists or most business majors (I'd guess). As I said, we took on the full load in 2007, but I got really serious about paying this off in 2010. I haven't always been able to stick to my plan exactly - life changes, job loss - but the basic timeline has come out much the way I'd hoped. I'm not sure what we'll do now. Paying bills next month will probably feel like we've gotten a huge raise! I have a couple of ideas, sadly none of which will likely involve a spur of the moment trip to Tahiti. We've got more changes coming up this year that will shake up the budget picture, but I am honestly so happy and so relieved that this burden has been lifted.
To celebrate I bought my knitting group a round of cookies last night. I haven't completely turned over a new leaf though - I waited until after 6 when they were half price!