Archive for the 'Knitting Takes Over the World' Category

02
Nov
09

Recruiting the Masses, One Tweet at a Time

Do you talk about knitting and stuff?

I admitted on Twitter the other day that I have a knitting blog.  My name over there is @ShutterBitch and if you’re inclined to follow, I’m pretty uncensored.  I say whatever comes to mind, so that’s my only warning.  Anyway, someone was looking for links to St. Louis blogs and when I sent mine, she admitted that she’d learned to knit just the previous weekend.  I offered her a couple websites, told her to get on Ravelry for some inspiration, and offered to answer any questions.  Then I realized I’m kinda sporadic a poster over here.  I suppose I should rectify that, prove that I do care about this place, and make it my own. So I took pictures of the stash enhancement.

 

 

 DSC_0719 by you.

Yarntini Semi Solid Sock, Concord Colorway
  
DSC_0722 by you.
Colourmart.com Laceweight 20/80 Angora/Merino, 2300 delicious, delicious yards.
 
DSC_0724 by you.
Cascade Heritage Solids, Navy.
  
DSC_0725 by you.
Cherry Tree Hill, Foxy Lady Colorway
  
There have been small FOs (Finished Objects for the non-knitters)
 
DSC_0730 by you.
 
And some nearly finished items.
 
The Pinwheel Blanket:
DSC_0714 by you.

Sock 1 of Dad’s WhitbysDSC_0737 by you.

And Baby Blanket Square Hell

DSC_0738 by you.

Five down, 20 more to go.

But that laceweight up there is calling my name.  It’s 2300 yards, plenty for two projects, but I’m having a hard time deciding on which to do first.  The two candidates are the Meandering Vines Shawlrav link by you. or the Fountain Pen Shawlrav link by you..  What do you think?  I sort of like the heavier Meandering Vines shawl because I’m not really one to wear traditional triangular shawls.  That one is more scarf-like and also doesn’t appear to be as challenging.  Given that I’ve not knit with lace before, I’m a little skeered by the Fountain Pen Shawl.  However, that’s the one I have needles for, and the Meandering Vines Shawl calls for holding the yarn double.  If I do that then I won’t have enough for the Fountain Pen Shawl and I really want two projects out of the cone.

See the gripping life I lead?  I’m also considering which socks to cast on once the second Whitby is done for my Dad.  My husband needs new wool socks for his work, and what better way to support him (and get him to support my knitting hobby) than to knit him some heavy duty wool socks to keep him warm for when he’s working in a freezer all day?  But boring navy stockinette doesn’t do much for my inner challenge fiend.  So there’s competition for the sock knitting part of my brain.

Wow, it appears that I do have something to say. And that yes, sometimes I do talk about the knitting.

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13
Oct
09

Packing the Knitting

We’ve been traveling here lately.  Last weekend we went to Indiana (Jones, as Son would say) for camping, Halloween themed stuff at the campground, and theme-park visiting at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.  I love this weekend, one we do every year, and while the mud made it a little harder than usual ~ can you say Baby + Mud Puddle = Instant Face Plant ~ it was still a blast and a half.  I do have pictures, but the camera died before I could get them uploaded. 

We’re also gallivanting off again this weekend for a trip we’ve had planned for coming on a year now.  We’re going to Galena, Illinois, an extremely senic and historic town rich in atmosphere and things to do.  Here are some pictures I took last year.

 

It’s like a Hollywood movie set.  In fact, I believe it was the downtown used in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner’s character found James Earl Jones’ character. 

 

Even the streetlights are awesome.

 

Last year, we were only there for a day, the point of the trip not being Galena but a nearby town.  After seeing what a treasure it is there, we decided to visit again for longer.  So we found a house to rent that is cheaper than a hotel in the area, which will also save us money in that we can make our own food instead of relying on restaurants the entire weekend.  And off we’ll go.

I’m learning that the packing for these trips is challenging.  Preparation to bring a whole family, plus make sure the pets are covered in our absence, is like trying to build the world’s biggest Dominoes maze.  All the pieces have to be just so, done in the right order and executed carefully, or that first push off to make the whole thing fall into place will fail.  I don’t like starting trips off on the fail side of things.  Taints the whole weekend.

However, packing for the kids, while a pain, is doable.  What’s impossible is packing the knitting.  I need car projects because it’ll be 6+ hours in transit.  Socks or scarves are usually good for that, but I have one pair of socks on the needles right now, and while they do have a deadline, I have a greater deadline on 2 baby blankets.  One is nearly done, just needs the miles of i-cord border done.  I got about 1/3 of the way done on it driving home from Indiana yesterday before my brain quivered and threatened to leak out of my nose.  So I switched to the other blanket, the one I just started that I have to complete 36 squares by Thanksgiving.  Luckily it’s done in squares and so is also really portable, except that every row is different, and the pattern isn’t a repeating thing I could memorize.  Unless I memorize 50 different lines.  So that one is kind of a pain but it won’t knit itself.

The trouble is, I want to pack everything I’m working on.  I have a scarf for myself that’s been hibernating for half a year, a pair of socks I want to do for a friend down in the dumps, a pair of socks for my husband, one for each of my kids, and then a sweater I have had the yarn saved for going on a year now, plus the two baby blankets and endless possibilities for scarves and socks in my fairly small stash.  How in the hades does one choose which knitting to pack and which to leave at home?  Because I don’t want to be stuck with something I don’t feel like working on, nor do I want to run out.  But then, there’s a yarn shop on that gorgeous historic street, and I wasn’t a knitter last year when we were there.  But I plan to put a dent in my yarn budget while there this time.  So there are endless possibilities.  It boggles. 

Bag with both husband’s and my clothes: check
Bag for son: check
Bag for baby: check
Bag for baby stuff, i.e. diapers, wipes, sippy cups: check
Bag for knitting, needles, new projects, patterns, list of things to look for at yarn store, possible patterns  in the future, yarn for them, bigger bag, and maybe a 36 hour day: not so check. 

If you’re a knitter who takes things with you when you travel, how do you choose what to take?

02
Oct
09

I Promise, I Really Am a Knitter

So! I swear I still do knit.  I have been a knitting fool!  It’s just that I haven’t had much chance to take pictures of my knitting, but that changed the other night when I found myself bored and waiting for Glee to start.  *cue harmonized a capella singers* Man, if I weren’t already married, I’d be throwing myself at the feet of Mr. Shuster and his pretty crooked smile and curly hair.  Frak me, he’s dreamy. 

As I’ve been watching my shows come back to life with the Fall season kicking in, I’ve made serious progress on my pinwheel blanket for a friend’s baby.  Good thing, because he was born last week.  Knitting like a fiend on this, but it’s slow.  The rows are pushing 500 stitches per, and it takes a good 20 minutes now to finish one.  I have just a little more green to go and then a brown i-cord border, and I can wash it and send it on.  It’s not the prettiest of blankets, but a little baby boy doesn’t need much pretty.  Plus, they didn’t find out the sex, so I needed something neutral.  I love the way the middle turned out.  Looks like a flower.

DSC_0487 by you.

DSC_0482 by you.

This photo is better to show the true colors. 

This next FO is a secret.  I call them Pick Me Ups.  That’s all I can say.  I didn’t love the colors when I tried the first pattern I had in mind for this yarn, Malabrigo in the Carabeño colorway.  Hopefully they’ll be winging their way to the recipient this weekend along with some other goodies and I can rest easy knowing they’ll be used and cared for.

 DSC_0496 by you.

DSC_0497 by you.

 These are the first socks I’ve knit for myself.  I love them.  They’re also Malabrigo yarn in the colorway Velvet Grapes.  I don’t like wearing socks much but the Fall weather has necessitated them, and my feet are happy for them.   Handknit socks are far better than commercial packaged socks. 

DSC_0498 by you. 

DSC_0501 by you.

This next FO I’m extremely proud of.  They’re the Viper Pilots I started in June for my sister, and the color is intensely hard to photograph.  It’s Yarntini Semi Solid Sock yarn in the colorway Strawberry Frenzy.  I loved this pattern so much that I bought more yarn to do a pair for myself.  Mine will be in Dream in Color Smooshy in the Midnight Derby colorway.  Yummy.  But I love the swirls along the sides.  I love the cabled design down the front. I love the ribbed heel and toe with the cabled embellishment.  I love these socks.  My sister may not get them.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  I think I’m kidding.

DSC_0507 by you.

 DSC_0509 by you.

DSC_0510 by you. 

There has also been stash enhancement.  I have gotten more Yarntini.  Lots more Yarntini. 

CaipirinhaDSC_0518 by you.

Lemoncello

DSC_0514 by you.

Summer Sunset

DSC_0492 by you. 

I also received my last Sock Club shipment from Yarntini.  It’s the colorway Concord, a deep rich purple with blue and red undertones and it’s gorgeous.  I’m already itching to roll it up and cast it on, which, if you notice the Summer Sunset one, seems to be a common reaction I have to Yarntini yarn. 

Dream in Color Smooshy, Midnight Derby for my own Viper Pilots

DSC_0512 by you.
I just realized that in this picture, there’s a hair clinging to the yarn, and I keep fighting the urge to reach my hand into it and pluck the hair off. It’s driving me batty.  

I received a package in the mail yesterday from The Loopy Ewe with my latest order, a yarn I thought would work for a scarf for the Red Scarf Fund but it’s not red enough.  The Red Scarf page specifically says no purples and this yarn is way more purple than I expected.  So perhaps I’ll donate it to Norma for prizes, I haven’t yet decided.  I have a cousin who would love it if I were to do it up for her.  Or hell, everything I’ve ever knit has been for someone else.  Maybe I’ll keep it for a change.  Maybe. 

The beauty of the order that came yesterday was that it was my sixth, and frequent shoppers of The Loopy Ewe know what that means.  I’m now officially a Loopy Groupie.  Will Whore for Yarn.  I need to whip up a button for that.  Anyway, the package included an adorable bag, a new sock pattern, some treats that I passed on to my kids, and a free skein of Cherry Tree Hill yarn in Foxy Lady, that has some red in it, among other gorgeous fall type colors that perhaps would look good for the Red Scarf Fun scarf I was going to do.  The wheels, they have been turning.  I didn’t get a chance to get that picture, but I will.  Oh, I will.

The Pinwheel blanket isn’t the only thing on the needles.  I have a pair of socks for my dad coming along nicely.  They’re Whitbys from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush.  I love the ease of the pattern, the yarn is springy and soft (Cascade Heritage Solid in Navy) and I think my dad will like them.  I took crappy camera phone pictures and I will burn your retinas with them.  Trust me when I say that they look much better in person than in the pictures.

Dad's whitby 2 by you.

dad's whitby by you. 

Told you the pictures were bad. 

Anyway, I have two more baby blankets to do in the coming months, and plans for one are in the works, and the other one I have the yarn purchased and have cast on.  And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten on it.  For me right now, it seems to be about socks, socks, socks.  For someone who doesn’t like wearing them that much, I’m interested in knitting way too many pairs.  That’s good for the people I know.  More for them, right?

Next up, finish baby blanket 1, get serious about baby blanket 2, and get yarn for baby blanket 3, knit up that delectable Cherry Tree Hill, consider what I’m going to do with some of this yummy yarn, and wait patiently for a preordered yarn from ThreeIrishGirls that I ordered back in July before Sock Summit that I HAD to have.  As if I don’t have enough to do working full time with two kids.  Luckily, football season is ramping back up, which means Sundays are spent on the couch knitting while husband watches men in tight pants (and truthfully, I’m eyeing them up now and then too) beat the crap out of each other.  Ah, Fall.  I’m so happy you’re here.

18
Jun
09

I Don’t Have the Patience

Since taking up the needles again, I’ve heard this said to me I don’t know how many times by non-knitters, or muggles as they’re becoming known in some parts of the knitting web.  This has been said by friends, relatives, and strangers alike.  So here, for the purposes of this blog, are my reasons why, in my opinion, the statement ‘I don’t have the patience for knitting’ is completely untrue, fallacy, an excuse to quit before starting.  In fact, I believe knitting teaches patience, something I have by far and away needed help learning.

1.  I am the world’s most wholly impatient person.  I fight the urge to snap at Son when he fiddle-farts around getting out of the car, dancing around on his little feet and making faces at his reflection in the rearview mirror when the seatbelt has released him for such freedoms.  And yet, when I pick up the needles, it’s not about the finished project for me, though there are some knitters who are product knitters.  I’m a process knitter, enjoying the actual making of each stitch more so than the finished object that comes off at the end.  Don’t get me wrong, that part rocks, too, looking at something I made with string and sticks from one long piece of yarn that can then be worn or help keep someone warm.  But there’s a meditative quality in a small, repetitive motion that turns into something lovely that can be worn.  Son could take ten whole minutes to get out of the car if it means I get in a few more stitches of zen.

 2.  Have you ever been stuck waiting for someone, or standing in line waiting for a service counter or stuck on hold on the phone?  Those minutes seem interminable.  They draaaaaag out, and seriously can try even the patience of a saint.  Especially if there’s hold music on the phone calls.  Rarely is hold music enjoyable, but it’s only made worse by the break in voice that says, “Your call is very important to us.  Please stay on the line and someone will assist you shortly.”  Ugh!  I hate that voice.  But for a knitter, that time isn’t wasted just sitting there.  That time is good to whip out the sock and do a few rounds.   Spouse running late from being stuck in traffic?  You could turn a sock heel in that time. Waiting for your table to be ready at a busy restaurant?  Few more rounds.  Believe me you could finish a scarf in a matter of a week or two just by doing a couple rows at a time.  Not to mention waiting time has morphed into knitting time, and you’re happy to wait.  No really, you become happy to wait.

 3.  There’s a prevailing thought that knitting should never be stopped in the middle of a row.  I don’t know what this would hurt, as the few times I’ve done it the world hasn’t exploded in an apocalyptic fit, and there hasn’t been a problem picking it back up right where I left off.  Maybe it it’s a particularly fiddly pattern, it might mess up the mojo, but I’ve left even fiddly patterns in the middle of a row.  But I find that I don’t like to leave a round unfinished in the middle.  Sure, I’ll do it to pick up a spilling gallon of milk that Son drops, or to retrieve a piece of fuzz from Daughter’s mouth from the little part on the couch where Dog ripped it and the stuffing is visible to little toddler picking fingers.  (I really need to get on sewing that up.)  It just makes me uncomfortable to leave the row in the middle, even if I leave the needles in such a way that a stitch can’t be slipped.  Because of this, when I see Daughter throw a toy and bean Son in the head with it, my gut reaction is to holler at her and put her in time out, which startles her and just makes her cry.  She’s too young at 18 months for the yelling, and I feel that I’m too yelly in the first place.  So, given that I don’t like leaving a row hanging, I’ll finish up (unless I just started it, then I put it down to handle the carnage) the last few stitches, during which time, I’ve gotten in my count-to-ten and I’m much less likely to yell or get twitchy and red-faced.  It helps keep me from overreacting, so then I can get the thrown toy, check Son’s head for blood (but c’mon, she’s only 18 months, how hard can she throw?) and forcefully but calmly tell her no, we don’t throw toys.  Of course, if there were cries of pain involved in said children fighting episodes, I would drop whatever I was doing no matter what.  I’m not a totally insensitive mother.  Mostly.

 4.  It makes long car rides less of a chore and more of a bonus, but only if you’re not driving.  In August, I have to make a pretty boring work trip to the south and I’ll be in the car for 8 hours or more each way.  I hate this drive, more than I can say, but this year, I’m actually looking forward to the knitting time.  See?  Patience with even the most unpleasant of things.

 5.  Productive spare time.  Most people have time that they sit and watch TV, read, or what have you.  That same time can be used as knitting time without giving up those other things.  Wait, you’re thinking.  Read and knit at the same time?  Yes.  I’m saying it can be done.  With practice, stockinette stitch can be done without looking at it the entire time.  This means you can read blogs, email, and newspapers/magazines without needing your hands at the same time as you knit.  If you want fiction, audiobooks are brilliant for this.  TV is the same way.  If you’ve seen a show before, you can knit and watch at the same time and still keep up with both.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the receiving end of a guilt trip because all I did all day was lay on the couch and watch TV, but with knitting, you can hold it up in your own defense and say, “But I made a sock, too!”  There’s very little arguing with that.  It also gives you patience when your husband wants to watch NASCAR or football or hockey, or something you’re just not that into.  Who cares if the TV is on to something snooze worthy if you have something else on which you can concentrate?  Patience with all those channel-surfers, I’m tellin’ ya.

 6.  Frustrated with an infant who won’t sleep, and you’ve seen the wrong side of the clock too many nights in a row to count?  Well, wrapping said baby in your own handknits makes some of those nights a smidge more tolerable.  Sure, they suck.  Sure they’re hard.  But rocking away in the rocking chair admiring not only your baby who won’t sleep unless she’s in your arms but also the blanket you’ve wrapped around her that you’ve created with your own two hands can give you a little more boost.  Plus, handknits are soft and I’ve noticed my own children gravitate to the handknit blankets and thus I think sleep better with their softer wubbies than with some of the commercial cotton things we have.  Those commercial cottons are fine, but the super soft ones tend to be expensive.  Super soft baby blankets can be made for less than $20 as opposed to the $30 or more I’ve seen some of the commercial soft ones.  But honestly, the patience on this one wears thin even with the handknits.  I just kept telling myself with Son that it might be the last night I’m up with him and do I want that last night to be filled with frustration.  (For the record, I wasn’t admiring my own handknits with Son because I wasn’t back into knitting yet.  My great-grandma Caroline crocheted us a baby blanket before her death and it was that which I was admiring.  And Daughter slept through the night with a few exceptions from the time she was six weeks old.  Yes, I deserve to be flogged for that one.)

 7.  Child comes home late after a night out with friends and you’re too keyed up to sleep?  Knit!  You might get a tighter gauge on your project due to the tension in your shoulders and your iron grip on the yarn, but it’s better than scouring the Internet and finding all kinds of things online that spark bad imaginings of what’s keeping your tardy teen out, everything from them waiting in a long line for the tongue piercings to the backseat makeout sessions you remember from your own youth.  I’m not there yet with my kids, but I will be.  And you can bet I’ll have miles and miles of stockinette stitch to keep me going for those nights.  Although it might be better to have blunt needles on me for when said kid walks in the door.  Wouldn’t want me to have access to anything remotely considered a weapon.

 8.  Angry over a professor giving you trouble or a coworker who sucks tremendously and can’t seem to stay out of your business?  When you have a choice between dropping the class or taking an F, or possibly quitting your job to get away from your nasty coworker, knit yourself an effigy of them.  You can even use blocking pins for that voodoo doll effect if you can secure yourself a piece of their hair (and even if you can’t, when your bitch of an officemate slams the bathroom door in your face, it’s still fun to stick her likeness with pins when you get back to your desk).  If you plan to burn the effigy however, make sure you make it out of an acrylic type yarn.  Wool doesn’t burn very easily.  But I’d bet by the time you’re done making the little doll, you’ll find it so funny by then that you won’t want to burn it.  You can then take out frustration on the doll instead of the actual person, because the doll won’t care if you pull its arm off and you can always reattach it.  This saves you from becoming the subject of a police report or restraining order and you’ll have also saved your sanity or your job without that person ever knowing the wiser, and therefore not getting the best of you.  This is the ultimate in patience. 

 There you have it, the best 8 reasons I can think of that knitting teaches patience, that there’s no reason not to give it a shot, and that spare time becomes knitting time even for those with very little time to spare.  Believe me, it’s worth it.

15
Jun
09

Progress Is As Progress Does

It’s been an exciting weekend in the Conniption Knit house.  There were monumental trades.  There was a relaxing drive.  There was a tornado or three.  There was a drunk driver.  There was vomit.  There were milestones met.  And through it all, there was knitting.  Always with the knitting. 

Confused yet? 

We’ve been dickering over the trade in of our trusty dusty Dodge Durango for a week, and it looked pretty hopeless at a couple points.  We were upside down on the loan, thanks to a tanking economy sinking the value of our trade in nearly by the day, banks with the only thing tighter than their sphincters were their loan approvals, and a dealer that was a little stingy on the negotiation end of the matter.  In the end, a deal was made, the dealer squealed a little at the pain of it (once calling me a ‘shrewd’ woman with the number crunching, to which I gave a Mona Lisa smile and didn’t explain that I wasn’t so much dickering and winning as trying any and everything I could think of in the manner of trade to get things rolling knowing that if we didn’t trade in our Durango now, we would be stuck with it because it’s value would plummet, and I just didn’t want to take the chance it would die a gasping death with our new camper behind it crippling the Durango’s transmission), a bank grudgingly gave us a loan, and we drove away with a new-to-us 2005 Chevy Silverado 3500 Duramax Diesel that takes a ladder for my 5’2” body to climb into.  Step sides are on the list to Santa for this Christmas.  In the end, it seemed the dealer wasn’t as staunchly self-serving as he originally appeared, just as tenacious was he to try to make it work for us as I was.  I even said no a couple times and was ready to walk away and we would just nurse the Durango through the remaining two camper trips we have planned for the summer and try again next year in the hopes that the economy would be turning around sometime in the next few months.  But the dealer came through for us, and while I was irritated at times with him, he turned out to be a generous sort where we were able to squeak something out.  I can rest easier knowing that when we travel with the camper later this summer, we won’t be looking at the potential of thousands of dollars to fix a crippled vehicle.  This new truck could pull a house without so much as a cough.  And I have to say, I love a man in a tough truck, and this truck fits around Mike like a well worn in pair of Levi’s with a great butt.  Rowr! 

Since we were a way outside of the city to make the deal for the truck, we thought we’d take a drive to an old campground from Mike’s past that was nearby and also to our latest campground where I needed to tweak some reservations to accommodate our late summer float trip.  While we were winding through southern Missouri back roads laden with trees, other trucks (isn’t it funny that when you buy a different vehicle, suddenly you see that vehicle everywhere?) and taverns that would feel at home as a set in Deliverance, we saw some serious storm damage.  Apparently the storms that moved through the Midwest last week hit southern Missouri particularly hard.  There were straight-line damaged trees that were simply blown over, there were tornado damaged trees stripped of their leaves and branches and standing bare and naked against the foothills, and there were limbs and debris everywhere.  The majority of the blocked roads had been cleared, but it was very obvious something mean and snarly had blown through there and it left a giant path of destruction in its wake.  There’ll be a lot of firewood to be had in the coming weeks.  

We arrived at the campground we’ll be visiting later this summer and I headed into the front office to square away our final reservations.  When I emerged, I couldn’t find Mike.  Now, I understand that to us, the truck we were in was really only a couple hours old, but for the life of me, I couldn’t see it.  This is so totally something that would trip me up.  I knew what it looked like, but wasn’t positive I’d recognize it out of hand the way you recognize the difference between your vehicle and an identical one next to it.  It’s black.  It’s got 4×4 painted on the side towards the tailgate.  It’s pretty tall.  But it would have totally blended in among all the other 4x4s parked haphazardly around.  I felt pretty stupid, but I have our license plate memorized and it transferred with the deal so I looked at plates.  Missouri, Missouri, Missouri, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Missouri…  None of them had our numbers.  Gods but wasn’t I feeling like an idiot.  Well, maybe he took Son and Daughter down to the river for a peek and a little time on the beach skipping rocks.  I started in that direction and realized that it was a ten minute walk and if I got there and he wasn’t there, I’d be irritated, and he might be looking for me somewhere back by the front office.  Or maybe he took a drive through the campground to see if there was any damage to speak of in this area.  I started along the road to the sites we’d be staying at later and didn’t see him.  There were plenty of scantily clad girls around, cleaning up after their own floats, and plenty of guys around to ogle all the skin.  I felt even stupider in my t-shirt and shorts and nicer sandals as opposed to beat up flip flops.  He wasn’t down there.  I turned to walk back to the front office thinking he’d come through there again soon and I’d be rescued saved picked up and we could head out.  A red truck passed by me and beside it a small black Mazda with a couple girls hooting and hollering at the truck over their blaring radio.  Man, I was so ready to go on our own float.  I remember thinking she was ballsy to pass that truck that way at the speed she was going.  It was, after all, a campground with a posted 5 mph speed limit sign every 20 feet.  Then, a couple minutes later as I walked back into the circle area by the front office, I saw Black Car Girl had plunged through a mud puddle and parked within inches of the main shower house.  There were campground employees leaning in through the passenger side and demanding her keys.  Turns out she was three sheets to the wind and had only barely stopped her car to avoid slamming through the wall and into the showering girls within the bath house.  Wow.  Maybe I wasn’t quite that ready for our float.  That was some enthusiasm.  But yeah, Drunk Black Car Girl brayed laughter as she joined her group of friends exclaiming about how she’d had her keys taken away.  “Probably schmart.  I’ve had jusht a wee bit to drink,” she slurred as she slung her arm around a cheerful companion who brayed along with her.  It was in that moment that I was glad that not only had we not parked in the spot near where her car had barreled through before its close shave stop, but I was glad my kids in the backseat were nowhere around to see that girl.  I’d have had some questions to answer from inquisitive Son who misses nothing.  The gate attendant saw me looking about for our truck one more time and hollered an inquiry about if I was looking for a black truck.  I said yes and he pointed to where Mike was parked outside the gate, as the gate attendant had put it, so as not to scratch ‘your purty new truck’ (I guess Mike talked to him a bit while I was taking care of our reservations).  Relieved, I climbed back in and we turned for home as I relayed what I’d just seen to Mike.  He chuckled, shaking his head at the hubris – and stupidity – of the young, probably college aged Drunk Black Car Girl.  

On the drive back to our house, we decided to use a gift certificate we had for a local steakhouse since we’d be rolling into the driveway at a time when evening turns to night.  This would turn out to be a bad move, since Mike would have something unsavory with his meal that had him up most of the night curled into a fetal ball and moaning with the pain of food poisoning.  Sometime around five in the morning, he ejected his digestive contents and with a sigh of frustration and misery, he climbed back into bed hopeful that it would be the event that would help him feel better.  He endured another hour or so of cramps and then finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.  Around ten in the morning, the cock-a-doodle-doo of our kids woke us up and, surprised by the lateness of the hour to which they had let us sleep, I told Mike he was not to get out of bed until at least noon.  But he was up, despite his body’s fatigue, and over my protests, he decided to clean the truck since the little dealership from where we’d gotten it hadn’t even given it a cursory vacuum.  So we all traipsed out to the driveway, Son running over to play with the neighbors and Daughter tooling around our front lawn playing with the hose and some of her big brother’s old scooters.  That accomplished, we headed out to do some cleaning at the house Mike’s sister and her husband had flipped, a house where Mike spent many hours helping turn an old brick shell built in the 30s into a livable, character filled house replete with modern conveniences.  With Son’s bike in the back, we knew he’d be entertained, but at one point, he complained that one of his training wheels kept coming off.  So I located a socket wrench and in a moment of bravado, Son proclaimed himself ready to bid adieu to the training wheels.  So I removed them for him and set about teaching him to ride his bike big-boy style, as he put it.  After a good workout on my part, consisting of nearly half an hour running behind him with my hand on his seat, I told him I was letting go.  He wanted to panic, but I told him he’d never learn if he didn’t try, and if he wasn’t going to try, well we might as well put the bike away because I wasn’t going to put the training wheels back on.  That shored him up and he said he was ready.  We got going again, me huffing and puffing behind him and him steeling himself to crash, and I let go, shouting for him to go faster, faster and he did.  He rode his bike, big-boy style and even when he reached the end of the sidewalk and fell over into the grass, he was too happy to get upset by the bike pinning his foot.  He ran around like a loon, whooping and bright eyed and in those moments, I saw the world at his feet and won’t swear that a tear didn’t mix in with the sweat on my face.  Just one.  He rode his bike, wobbly and with very little grace but all by himself without training wheels, for another hour or so, improving the whole time.  I’m betting by next week, he’ll be a pro. 

What does all this have to do with knitting?  Well, on the drive I made progress on the Herringbone Socks.  A lot of progress.  What’s been a fiddly pattern for me finally stuck and I was able to get the leg done.  You can see the pattern best in this picture. 

Herringbone Socks

Or this one…

Herringbone Socks 2 by you.

I also received my Signature Arts Needles in the mail on Saturday and while I was on the phone with the dealership about our trade, I got a few rows done on my sister’s wedding blanket. 

Log Cabin/needles by you.

Log Cabin/needles 2 by you.

Those needles are divine.  The points are so sharp that a yarn with the tendency to split stands no chance with them.  The only complaint I have with them is the same complaint I have about all straight needles.  The weight of the project (in this case a big blanket) hinders the movement necessary for total freedom to swing the needles as I need to pick up stitches.  I use the continental, or left-handed, or ‘picking’ method of knitting, which simply means that I hold the working yarn in my left hand and manipulate the right hand needle to pick up the working yarn and pull it through the stitch.  So my right hand needle swings around a lot with the movement of my hand.  With a heavy project weighing down the end it’s harder to pick up the working yarn.  But other than that little quibble, I love them.  They’d be perfect for a washcloth or hand towel, something with a larger stitch size without all the yarn weight hindering their movement.  Still.  These needles are the best needles I’ve worked with, except for that one niggling little complaint.  And they’re very elegant looking, too. 

I also made a smidge of progress on the Viper Pilots.  I’m having a hard time capturing the color of that yarn, though.  It’s not at all pinkish, as the picture would have you believe.

Viper Pilot socks 3 by you.

It’s kinda hard to see the pattern.  At some point, I’ll have enough knit on it to capture the pattern in all its twisty, awesome Battlestar Galactica glory.  Truly.  This picture is a very slight bit better for the pattern.  At least on one side.  Oh, and you know what works in a pinch for stitch markers?  Daughter’s elastic ponytail holders.

Viper Pilot socks 2 by you.

So that’s my busy weekend in a nutshell.  Tell me.  How was your weekend?

10
Jun
09

Because Yarn Harlot Was Already Taken

I thought Knitting Harlot would be too close for copyright and besides, I like Stephanie and thought that maybe I should come up with something a little more original.  Remember I wrote about the socks that were winning?  I threw a couple of huge fits over having to rip those back so many times.  Conniption has always been one of my favorite words.  It’s fun to say, fun to type, and fit rhymes with knit so I could substitute.  

As for the socks that started it all on this blog, the Herringbone Socks, the score is now Socks = EIGHT and Andrea = 1.  That 1 was hard fought.  That 1 comes about as I’ve learned the value of having a knitting lifeline for finicky patterns.  Every few rows that I complete without making a mistake, I move the lifeline so that if a mistake occurs, I don’t have to totally rip out to the beginning since the pattern doesn’t make for very easily picked up stitches.  I’m making slow but steady progress.  Those socks will not best me. 

But I think every knitter has a little harlot in us.  We’re easily seduced by new yarns, new patterns, new techniques, and most of all, by inspiration.

This week has been a floozy week on the knitting front for me.  I swear, if someone on a street corner opened up a trench coat with pockets of yarn along the inner lining instead of the usual fake Rolexes, I would be helpless to keep from finding even the change in the bottom of my purse to fork over for the pretty, pretty yarn.  Surprisingly though, I have bought no yarn this week, though it is only Wednesday.

It started on Monday when I wrote about the siren song of the Viper Pilots sock pattern.  I was wanting to finish up my sister’s knee high stripy socks first before starting this pair and one was birthday, one for Christmas for my sister.  She was the one who turned me onto Battlestar Galactica, by which the pattern was inspired, and so I think she deserves a pair of Viper Pilots.  Then it occurred to me.  Switch which sock is given for which occasion! It was the only possible solution, because I was helpless in the face of the call of these new socks and so casting on for them was actually beyond my control.  I blame the pattern for being too damned irresistible.  So I hibernated the knee highs and cast on the Viper Pilots on Tuesday with much glee and only a sideways glance at the knee highs, hoping they grow unboring enough in the future for me to finish them (by Christmas).  Seems that if a pattern looks at me sideways with a come hither gaze and a wink, I can be seduced away from whatever I’m working on at the moment. 

Then yesterday, I was browsing along on my break, clicking links and following to my hearts content the knitting superhighway online.  I clicked a link and was cemented to my seat.  A beam of heavenly light in bright, sunshiny rays came through the ceiling and my irises went from orbs to hearts, for I instantly fell in knitty love.  Signature Needles.  Hand crafted, custom tips, weighted ends for perfectly balanced needles, much like a precision set of Henckel knives, where the tang is the same weight as the blade and can be balanced on one finger, giving control over the knife’s every movement.  (I’ve learned the art of a good knife from my husband Mike, who is a chef.)  Such were the claims of these needles, the brainchild of the president of a metal fabrication company who also knits and was displeased with her needles to the point of having some custom made for her at her company.  Oh my, but these needles are like art, just to look at the pictures!  To say nothing of the testimonials (I’m a sucker for testimonials) praising them.  These needles are definitely a luxury, a little spendy, but equated to other tools in other crafts that are engineered with quality in mind.  Michelangelo probably had some pretty good brushes in his paint kit; Bob Vila very likely has a top-of-the-line drill to complete his projects; and I’m fairly certain Eddie Van Halen doesn’t get his guitars from Guitar City – although he could make any mediocre instrument sing.  Granted, I’m no Michelangelo or Eddie Van Halen when it comes to knitting, but I could be.  Who’m I to let a little thing like a moderately expensive pair of needles (and in the scheme of expensive, $32 is totally doable.  $32 is a pair of shoes, a haircut, or a trip to the grocery store, not a BMW for crying out loud) keep me from being the next Kate Gilbert?  Who knows the knitting talent I may have latent within me?  And I don’t even need to look at the DPNs (even though I put them all on my wishlist anyway) since I can’t seem to use anything but circs on socks anyway because I’m clumsy with that many needles (and I’m talking to myself about being the next up and coming designer???  My delusions, they run deep). 

Are you talked into it as easily as I was yet?  See how I can get myself into trouble?  See how I can click that cart button and totally feel that I’m shortchanging myself if I don’t spend the money?  Yeah. 

My new needles will hopefully be here by the weekend.  I got some size US 6s (the most common needle size in the sweater patterns I want to tackle come fall, after I finish that wedding blanket that’s also on size 6 needles).  The rest will come as they can be afforded.  And they will come for Christmas, hopefully.  If I can get my family to understand just how much I like to knit and that knitting gifts for me are actually a good thing.  They scoffed at my knitting gift suggestions for my birthday last month.  Non-knitters don’t get it.  Which is why I’ve made it my goal to convert the world to knitters.  I started yesterday on my sister, who said she’d think about trying a scarf.  Which means I have to hurry up on the Viper Pilots.  I need to get a handknit into her hands pronto for the knitting hold to get its hooks further in.  Mwwaaaaahhhahahahahahah ha ha ha ha…  After all, I can’t be the only knitting floozy out there, now can I?

03
Jun
09

Heirloom Quality

My Great-Grandmother Caroline was a crochet and sewing wiz.  When I was a wee slip of a girl, I didn’t understand or appreciate the length to which she went to produce the items for us that she did.  We had the best dressed Barbies on the block, and we didn’t even know the effort it took for her to make that so. 

My Grandma Caroline was one of a kind.  She was a spit-fire hellion wrapped up in a 4’8” frame and woe betide the person who dared stand in her way.  She lived in an older section of the town my mother grew up in, a town we visited often as children, my sister and I.  Her tree lined street was replete with houses from an earlier era, both stone and clapboard sided one and one and a half story houses with large sweeping porches from a time when neighbors would sit outside at sunset, catching up and drinking tea while the locusts came to life and the June bugs swirled around mightily buzzing.  There were lightning bugs to dot the air and those trees provided a protective cover should the skies get sultry and weepy.  The sidewalk in front of Grandma Caroline’s was cracked badly by those magnificent trees’ roots, and there was a worn place in the grass next to the cracked part, where people walked up to the porch bypassing the heaved up section so as not to trip themselves up.  The sound of our little girl shoes clomping on her deck, a giant stone structure covered over with planks of wood and painted white and gray with pillars where we used to sit and pretend they were thrones to hold our royal bums, announced our arrival even to a woman who couldn’t hear too well.

In her old age, she had stooped at the shoulders a bit, shrinking even further, though her heart never shrank.  She always flung the door open wide to admit us, and hugging us fiercely belied the strength her frail looking body concealed.  She was a powerhouse, one we didn’t understand when we were young, but one we came to respect as time and age grew on us.  She wasn’t a woman of means, but what she had was tidy, clean, and loved.  Her furniture was draped with crocheted afghans and pillows and she always had a tomato pin cushion on the table next to her favorite chair, which usually held her latest project in some state of almost-completion.  We were never interested in what she was working on, and she always stopped her work when we came over to give us her full, undivided attention.  She’d ask us now and then how the Barbies were and if they needed anything.  Shortly after a visit to her house, we’d get a box in the mail and it would be full of multiples of our requests, miniaturized versions of purses, hats, dresses, pants, vests, sweaters, quilts.  You name it, she made it, both sewn on a sewing machine and crocheted.  Except for shoes.  She said they were too fiddly and the materials were hard to come by.  But our Barbies had sleeping bags and pillows, tents for camping out and sheets for their beds.  There were dressy clothes and camping clothes and casual clothes and more.  There were clothes for Ken, clothes for multiple Barbies, clothes for Ken and Barbie’s future babies, and I wouldn’t be surprised were I to look through it all to find maternity clothes, though I’ve never seen a pregnant Barbie doll.  I think we used a pillow from the miniature couch to pretend, if I recall correctly.

And it wasn’t just our Barbies who were swathed in Grandma Caroline’s love.  No, us kids were given blankets and pillows galore to rest our heads upon and cover our shoulders.  The most beloved blanket of my childhood was a green ripple blanket that Grandma Caroline had crocheted for my sister that I stole and made my own, draped over my shoulders or my hair to pretend it was lovely cascading hair, or covering my body while I watched TV, or wadded up in a ball in my arms for the comfort of a toddler who needed a lovey.  There wasn’t much in the way of clothes since we grew so fast, but we did know that we were the recipients of some one of a kind pieces of art.  When I was a teen, Grandma Caroline asked me what colors I’d like in a wedding afghan.  I told her and as most sixteen year olds are wont to do, I forgot about it.  My sister also had a list of colors for her wedding afghan and I do believe she also forgot about it.  Imagine my shock when, the day after my wedding eight years later, I grabbed the next box in the succession of wedding gifts and discovered it was from Grandma Caroline, who had been too old and frail to make it to the wedding, not to mention the fact that she had never driven, never learned to do so, and hadn’t the means to do any traveling.  But I know she put her invitation lovingly in a photo album anyway, despite the fact that she wasn’t going to make it in person.  However, her box had made it, and I instantly felt my eyes well up with tears.  Could it be?  I opened the box and there was the most beautiful wedding afghan I’d ever seen, not too big, as her arthritis had begun to take over between the years when she’d asked me for my colors and my wedding.  It was blue and cream, shot through with little bits of green and rose in a variegated bit of yarny goodness.  It wasn’t particularly soft, but warm, yes.  It covered warm quite nicely.  I carefully packed it away thinking that I would put it out when I had some furniture to match it, something that didn’t clash quite as badly as our black and green sofa with the giant rip in it.  That sofa wasn’t worthy of my Grandma Caroline’s wedding afghan for me. 

A couple years later, Grandma Caroline had a moderate stroke.  It took away her ability to speak, which just about killed her not to do.  Grandma Caroline was a great conversationalist.  She could talk about anything, and she was quite the dancer, too, having taught my sister and I to Jitterbug in her younger years.  My mom’s mother had to make the difficult decision to find a nursing home for Grandma Caroline.  She was in need of greater care than could be given in a home setting, and as she began to heal and regain her strength from her stroke, her fire slowly returned.  She couldn’t speak but she could make it clear when she was unhappy, and she was vastly unhappy.  She wanted to talk, to sew, to dance again, and she could do none of those things.  The nursing home staff was overworked and while her medical orders were that she had to have someone help her to her feet, that was essentially a bed rest sentence to her.  But she didn’t let that stop her.  She’d get up on her own, medical orders be damned, and it was to the point that the staff put a monitor on her to track her movements.  When she would get out of bed, they would know it.  Frustrated, Grandma Caroline one day threw the monitor in the toilet, and laughed when the staff came running and found her perfectly fine, perfectly out of bed, and free of one perfectly flushed and dead motion monitor.  Her daughter (my grandmother) knew the staff was frustrated, but tired of seeing her mother so miserable, she moved her to another, more expensive nursing home that had more staff and more comfortable accommodations.  It was there that there was another stroke, and that was just about enough for my Grandma Caroline.  She passed quietly in her sleep the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2003. 

I was 7 months pregnant with my first child, and though there were some concerns about me making a road trip for the funeral, I wouldn’t have missed it.  It was absolutely a celebration of her life, as opposed to a mourning of her death, and my grandmother summed it up best when she said during her eulogy that Grandma Caroline was up in heaven talking God’s ear off and dancing into the wee hours of the morning.  It was that Thanksgiving trip that my grandmother, Caroline’s daughter, took me to her spare bedroom and dug out a box in the closet.  She opened it, and inside were three of the softest baby blankets.  One white, one blue, and one yellow, just like the green one that I’d loved literally to pieces as a child myself.  I was to pick one, and I chose the yellow.  We didn’t know Son was a boy and so I didn’t want to pick the blue one and have it be the ‘wrong’ color, and white seemed too easy to ruin.  What happened to the other two, I don’t know, but I assume they were passed on to their intended recipients with the great care and love that I received with mine.  It lined the bassinet Son slept in, and then four years later with Daughter. 

But I have learned something about the baby blanket, and the wedding afghan for that matter, since I have started needlework and knitting.  I put the wedding afghan away for its importance is too great for me to risk it becoming ruined by either the kids spilling something on it or Cat laying on it and tangling her fur in its stitches or slubbing up the yarn strands with her claws.  I put the baby blanket away when the kids were big enough to move to a crib, not wanting it to get soiled or puked on in the night, because it’s irreplaceable.  Sure I could do another one for them if this one gets shredded, but it’s not the same.  It’s not the same.  So I kept them locked away for safe keeping.  Sure, it’s fine for something of this nature to be considered an heirloom, but now that I make them myself, I know they are intended for use, abuse, and love.  Nothing would please me more than to learn that the blanket I made for a friend’s baby has become that child’s security blanket.  Nothing would make me happier to know that my creations grace the feet of a relative or friend when they’re snowed in and need the extra warmth.  Nothing would give me more pleasure than to know that something I made for someone was used just as much as it was treasured, regardless of the risk posed to it through the uses of every day life. 

And so, the other night, I took out the baby blanket and draped it across the shoulders of Daughter (who is 17 months old today, my how time flies) as she was heavy lidded and sleepy.  I rocked her in the rocking chair and stroked her back through the blanket, marveling at how soft the yarn was and how warm the baby underneath was.  Snug as a bug in a rug, I whispered to her like I do every night right before I say ‘night night’ and lay her in her bed.  And I left the room, but only after carefully adjusting around her shoulders the baby blanket Daughter’s great great grandmother crocheted in the months before a stroke, when she first learned that a family was in the making.  Tonight, as I hack and wheeze my way through a stupid summer cold, I will wrap my wedding afghan around my shoulders and sigh, knowing that even though Great Grandma Caroline is beyond the veil, she’s giving me a hug through that afghan, and I will be warmer for it.




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