Last summer, I spent the entire bonus I received on tailored clothing created just for moi. Yep, we're talking triple digits spent on 3 suits (matching jacket and pants), a couple coordinating skirts, and coordinating tailored shirts. Even though my office has a business casual dress code, I have never regretted spending that money on these exquisite clothes. They fit me perfectly (how could they not, I was measured every which way, even some ways that I never realized I should be measured) and are made of very fine three-season wool. Having these suits and shirts actually makes my dressing in the morning incredibly easy, and as my sister says, put on the suit jacket if you want respect.
The problem is that they are three-season suits: not very comfy or practical in the humid, sticky, copious sweat-inducing weather we've had practically non-stop since June. When it's really hot and humid out, I don't want to sweat all over these expensive suits that must be dry-cleaned; I want to wear long, flowy skirts without hose, chinos, and other items that I can pull off at the end of the day and throw in the washing machine. (Or, in the case of my hand-knit W top, do a quick hand-washing and lay flat to dry.)
Oh, and the reason I had my suits made with pants is equally practical. When it's damn cold outside, I want my legs well-covered, and a pair of hose just won't cut it for me. Also, at the old office it seemed like I often had to duck under desks and tables to connect cords and whatnot, so I didn't want to be wearing a skirt doing that. (In our new office, I can connect my laptop wirelessly anywhere I want, and all power outlets are at "belt level." How nice!)
So...today I thought I'd wear a skirt with hose. I received a compliment shortly after the office opened when a colleague told me how nicely dressed I was and asked if I had a special meeting today (nope, just good skirt weather). No terrible problems to deal with today at work, and I was able to "share the love" by informing my staff about their very good raises that they'll see very soon. I really like passing on good news and positive feedback; I really hate being a manager when I have to give feedback and share news that isn't so great.
The real fun kicked in when I was on my way home, though. My tailored skirts aren't really short (they're cut to just above my knees), but I do get show off a lot of leg in them. And I guess I still have pretty good legs, too.
As I was walking home from the train this afternoon, I paused at a major intersection to assess the traffic flow and figure out if I had the right of way to cross. My eye was caught by a driver who was clearly flirting with me. Flirting. With. Me. Wow!! I'm still flirt-worthy? OK, I'm not incredibly aged or horribly disfigured or extremely weight-challenged or anything, but I don't recall being flirted with for some time. I was so stunned that I missed my chance to cross the street and had to wait through another traffic light cycle. Yeah, this made my day, OK? Is that pathetic?
From that point on, the evening has been one huge happy fest. I put off my weekly grocery shopping until tonight since I was so tired last night, so I had to run out and get milk, etc. tonight as well as pick up cash from the ATM. I'm almost always a pretty mellow driver, and since I was in a good mood tonight I wasn't too annoyed that as I was waiting behind an SUV at the ATM the transaction seemed to be taking quite a while. When the driver was done, she pulled off quickly, I pulled up quickly, and I noticed that the screen was displaying a message sort of like this: Press for another transaction OR press to have bank card returned. Uh, oh. She forgot her card.
There was a guy using the night deposit nearby, so when I exclaimed out my open window, "Wait, she forgot her card!" he looked at me and sort of made some hand motions before he got in his car. There was another car behind me, so I just dithered for about 15 seconds, figured she was long gone, and just slipped her card on my dashboard. (Yeah, I had popped it out of the machine, I just couldn't think of what else to do at the time.) I started and finished my withdrawal, pulled out of the way, and saw the night-deposit guy pull up in front of me. He had found the woman and urged her back. I passed her the card and got all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings as I realized what a good thing we had done together, me and this night-deposity guy. (Hey, and I hadn't even thought about trying that "other transaction" option with her card and draining her account or anything...well, not until afterwards when I realized how totally unsafe the whole thing was; I thought that the cards were supposed to be "eaten" the machine pretty quickly to deter just this kind of mistake from yielding a bonus for the unscrupulous.)
After a not so quick stop at Barnes & Noble to use a coupon and pick up the latest Vogue Knitting that everyone is raving about, I stopped at the grocery store to get my milk, etc. One of the etc. items was some Veggie Shreds soy cheese for our Friday night pizza. Uh, oh, no veggie shreds on the shelf. But the very nice and mannerly produce guy went in the back to check, and was profusely apologetic that it was out of stock today. Well, at least I got the last carton of lactose-free skim milk which I desperately need for my tea tomorrow AM. Then, while checking out, I get politely carded because I was purchasing some wine for Mark. Yeah, I think it's a positive thing to be carded at my age. That plus the appreciative flirting on my way home from the train makes me feel good because it makes me feel young and desireable, not a very close to 40 year-old woman who is past her prime.
...On the needles...
I thought I was done swatching for the baby sweater, but I decided to rip out the 3 rows I had knit and start over. Since I had been knitting on a #2 needle to get row gauge (not stitch gauge this time, just row gauge), all I had was a 29" circular in that size that was kind of long and uncomfortable to knit a baby sweater on; the increases weren't looking quite right, so I was ripping out anyway, I thought I'd just swatch again on the 24" size 1 circular I have and see if I can get stitch and row gauge at the same time. I'm not holding by breath, you understand, as it seems it is impossible for me to get both stitch and row gauge on any given pattern, but it's worth a try. I have at least a month to finish this newborn-sized baby sweater, and I'm confident I can do it well within this timeline.
What yarn am I using for this newborn sweater? I'm using some of this bunch of yarn picked up from the Tess' Designer Yarns booth at Stitches Midwest.
I purchased 6 skeins from Tess' booth: four fingering/sock weight yarns, and two worsted weight Angora & Merino blends. The yarn on the left is a subtly variegated fingering weight in burgundy/garnet tones. I plan on using that for a shawl for myself. The yarn in the middle is what I'm using for the baby sweater. It's variegated with lots of jewel tones and will make an awesome baby sweater. The Angora & Merino in the softer blue/turquoise colorway will be used to make a lacy scarf for a colleague to celebrate her recent promotion. (Any exuse to knit, you know.) I'm planning to use the Branching Out pattern from Knitty for the scarf; I think the fuzz from the angora will look nice and it won't be such a nightmare to tink/frog if I need to, unlike the mohair blend called for in the pattern.
Yeah, I went pretty crazy out of control at Stitches Midwest when it came to purchases. I was quite happy that the Windy City Knitting Guild had a bag check as I made use of it to lessen my load as I worked my way through the Marketplace.
What else did I indulge in? Well, I got some books. I've been renewing Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top regularly from the library, so I decided to buy my own copy. Ditto for Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle; it was a bonus to get her to sign my copy of the book as she had a booth of her own. (Oh, and Adrienne dropped some serious bucks at Cheryl Oberle's booth buying a cabled jacket pattern and yarn. Good for you, Adrienne! We're soldiering on to keep the yarn economy thriving!) Because I've been pretty darn curious about the topic I also bought Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Circular Needles. Although I had Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace on my wish list, I decided to rein myself in and renew the library copy one more time until I can order one through Barnes & Noble and get a better price with my member discount. (Yeah, I buy a lot of books and the membership definitely pays for itself, even if I do "cheat" and use Border's emailed coupons and gift certificates throughout the year, too.)
I realize as I look at my digital camera shots on the laptop screen that some of my new stash-enhancement photos aren't in focus (I guess when the battery gets low, the photos get blurrier) so I'll have to re-take those photos and post more later in the week. But, I'll close with this.
A beautiful hand-crafted drop spindle purchased from Skaska Designs. The drop spindle was the first thing I purchased at Stitches Midwest. I was just working my way through the Marketplace making mental and paper notes to plan my purchases when I rounded the corner and saw the display of beautiful drop spindles. With a snake on the tags. Snakes are sort of my personal totem: I'm always on the look-out for tastefully done snake images and sculptures that I buy and lovingly place in my home.
My eye fell on this one, made with olive wood, and that was it. I had to buy it. It's a work of art and functional at the same time. The roving was not bought at Skaska, but at Interlacements, which had an impressive display of hand-dyed yarn blends, plus this hank of hand-dyed roving for a decent price. I'm going to learn how to spin, but in the meantime this arrangement is displayed in my living room like exquisite work of art that it is.