Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I Surrender

Years ago I read a story about Martha Stewart. It alleged that the domestic doyen had sent her family away one Thanksgiving just so she could decorate the house without distractions or interference. The purpose of this tale was to vilify the woman and make her look like a cold hearted perfectionist. However, now that I have children of my own, this all makes absolute sense to me.

Christmas decorating with children is a lesson in surrender. My tree has been up for about two weeks now and has been decorated and rearranged so much, if I didn't know any better I would think we have Christmas Elves in hiding who come out at night when everyone's asleep.
The younger children try to climb the tree and play with the ornaments, the older children disagree on the arrangement of decorations. So far we've lost 3 glass ornaments and one snowman statue to the overly enthusiastic 2 yr old and the creche under the tree now has the Christ child being watched over by angels, shepherds, Hello Kitty and a big plastic elephant.

Today was Christmas cookie baking day and I began to roll out my perfect little circular treats. My 4 year old lovely assistant wanted to pitch in as you can see from the picture above. Mangled globs of dough never tasted so good. If I want perfection I can go buy some Oreos, these are one of a kind.

The Christmas shopping is also done. Hip! Hip! Hoorah!! I was very disappointed in the Barbie selections this year. When I was little I loved getting clothes, clothes and more clothes for my Barbies, but now it's all about the dolls themselves and very few outfits are sold seperately. The doll selection was very limited as well. Whatever happened to "NASA Barbie" and "President Barbie"? Now you can choose between the My Scene Bling Bling dolls which look like little street walkers (I knew she should never have broken up with that nice Ken boy.) Think I'm being harsh? Go ahead click on that link. I dare you. Then click the doll for a larger image. I'll wait here. See?!

If that's not to your liking there's also a pregnant barbie that looks so angelic and chaste it must be a virgin birth. Personally I think they should sell the dolls together as "Cause 'N Effect Barbie". By next year I think we can look forward to "Abnormal Pap Smear Barbie" and "Who's Your Daddy: DNA Surprise Barbie". Big sellers for sure.

And last, but not least I've been sick. It hasn't been fun, but it has been a good excuse to grab a box of Kleenex, put my feet up and knit. I'm posting pics with nobody in them because I'm really not picture ready right now. Runny, red nose. Dark circles under my eyes. Maybe I'll post another picture later when I'm feeling better.
I finished the Marilyn's Not So Shrunken Cardi in KnitPicks Merino Style. I made it a little shorter than the original pattern and left off one row of decreases and made the sleeves just a tiny bit longer. I also left off the ruffles and worked 2 finished button bands with no holes. I'm on the lookout for a small pewter clasp that I can sew at the neckline. It has a retro-bolero feel that works nicely over some of my vintage dresses and it was fun learning how to work a sweater from the top down with minimal finishing.

Next to it is Blackberry from last months Knitty. This was just what I needed right now. A quick bulky knit with interesting details to keep me entertained. I used KnitPicks Andean Silk double stranded and it's so warm and soft. Ahhh. This is now the sweater I slip on in the morning when there's a chill in the air. I'm still on the lookout for the perfect broach to keep this one closed too. Clearly people, I need closure.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Is That What You're Wearing?

These are possibly my least favorite words that occasionally come out of my husband's mouth. It's a close race between that and, "I just threw in a load of laundry." Which usually means some article of Dry Clean Only finery has gone to meet its fate.

But the "Is that what you're wearing?" question is especially cutting when it involves something I've knit myself. For example this cabled newsboy cap from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. Knit up with under a skein of Naturewool . It was a quick, fun knit. I loved the way it looked and then that dreaded question struck.

Sure we were on our way to a gathering at his workplace which requires me to be not so much a human being as a calling card/accessory. And sure his workplace is a convent and we were going to meet one of the apparitioners of Medjugorje, but I figured if anyone could appreciate a handknit Rasta hat, it's a fella who supposedly meets the Queen of Heaven for a chat every night.

There are certainly times when a little style intervention is called for. Like those leopard print pants I wore onstage at T.T.'s with my old band when my entertainment lawyer/manager told me I needed to be more "styled". (don't ever take fashion tips from your attorney, ok kids.) My drummer told me I looked great, but then one of his most prized possessions are his vintage breakaway tuxedo pants.

Or if I decided to leave the house looking like this I would understand if some kind soul suggested I buy a full length mirror and learn to use it. Unless of course I had some inner ear problem which upset my balance and I really needed all those big pom poms to act like bumpers.

Speaking of celebrity fashion missteps, I've been contemplating all those pictures of Jessica Simpson while waiting in line at the grocery store and I've been racking my brain trying to think of who she reminds me of. Suddenly last night as I was cleaning one of the childrens' rooms it hit me. Seriously, If you got My Little Pony some cosmetic dentistry and a little time in a spray-on tanning booth, Jessica Simpson would have a new stand in.

But I digress. So I resisted the urge to respond to the "Is that what you're wearing?" question with, "Ha! Ha! No. This was just a clever ruse to make you THINK this is what I'm wearing. In fact I have a much cooler ensemble hidden under this one, which I will reveal at the last possible moment." and instead cut him some slack for wanting to put his best foot forward at a new job and removed the hat. The things we do for love.

Exhibit A: I collect old magazines from the 1940s such as True Romance, Modern Romance, etc. While flipping through a copy of Modern Romance I found this add for Lysol Disinfectant.
I know the print's probably too small to read, but it's explaining to lonely housewives why their husbands are staying away. It's because they should be using Lysol Disinfectant for feminine hygiene of course. I almost fell off my chair when I saw this. Did women really do this? The advert assures me that, "More women should use Lysol regularly for intimate bodily daintiness." so I'm guessing at least a few did. And if you did this would it leave your nether regions smelling like a pine forest? And however it smelled would this then trigger some kind of Pavlovian response in your spouse everytime you mopped the floor? I picture all these germ free housewives being chased around the coffee table whenever they try to get a little light housekeeping done. Maybe the slight against my hat wasn't such a big deal after all.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Sweater That Knit Itself

Ta Da! The Interweave Knits Greek Pullover is finished and it flew off my needles. It was designed by Sharon Shoji who also has a free twinset pattern available from the IK Knitscene site. I love this design, I love this yarn. I used KnitPicks Andean Silk in Hollyberry and knit it up on size 8 Addi Turbos. I had an awful time trying to get an accurate picture of the chiffon ruffle at the sleeves. For some reason on my camera, the fabric read much more pink than it is in person. I originally sewed a ruffle at the waist as well, but felt like one of Degas' little ballerinas and removed it. I prefer it sans ruffle. The waistline is not an area where I really want to add extra puff 'n fluff. In case you're curious as to how it looked with ruffles at the waist, I asked my husband to snap a picture of the back so you could see how it ties and this was the end result. No pun intended. You'll have to excuse him, he's easily distracted.

I hope to knit up another one in Cornflower Andean Silk, but this time I'll add a little length to the torso and maybe a picot hem. And for any of you Andean Silk knitters out there, it itches like crazy when it's newly finished, but softens up with washing and blocking.

Next up is the Hourglass Sweater in Cinnamon Andean Silk.

Also on the needles is a variation of the Marilyn's Not So Shrunken Cardigan from Wendy over at Knit and Tonic. No pics of that yet, but I left the body a little boxier and more cropped and I think I'm going to lengthen the sleeves to 3/4 length and skip the ruffles.
Also this little number from Debbie Bliss' Cathay book. I'm using Andean Treasure in Fog. This has been a nice break from all the endless St st I've been doing lately.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ye Olde New England Thanksgiving

In which our plucky heroine leaves everything till the last minute and then runs around like a madwoman for 24 hours.

6:00am: Wake up and realize that it's the day before Thanksgiving and everyone is coming to your house. You've not yet written out a menu, nor do you have many of the required ingredients already in your kitchen. Your darling husband's employer has offered to supply the turkey as a lovely Thanksgiving bonus, but it's not here yet and you have no idea if it will be large enough to feed everyone or if it's frozen solid. Consider selling children on the idea of "A Very Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and simply serving toast and popcorn. Go back to sleep.
7:00am: Children wake you up jumping up and down squealing, "Tomorrow's Thanksgiving!" Consider selling children on the idea of "A Very Britney Spear's Thanksgiving," Cheetoes and Red Bull y'all. Must get coffee, stat.
7:15: First cup of coffee, brain cells reviving. Turn on morning news and watch touching piece about Thanksgiving dinners being prepared for our military. Consider joining military before next Thanksgiving.
7:30: Grab ye olde family recipe box and start writing out menu while various and sundry children file through the kitchen looking for breakfast. Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms all around. Wonder if this annual sugar binge is part of why your children enjoy Thanksgiving so much.
8:00am: Second cup of coffee. Realize that if you go to the grocery store now, you could probably beat the crowd and get back in time to have all the baking done before nightfall. Take shower first, Lord knows you won't get one tomorrow. Give children usual pre-shower instructions, "Knock if you need me. No fighting. I want everyone to still be alive when I get out."
8:45am: Put My Little Pony video on constant loop and leave eldest in charge. Get shopping done in record time and load groceries into car feeling pretty darn good. Receive cell phone call from eldest concerning the 2 year old, "ahh, she stripped down and took her dirty diaper off herself. She's running around the house now and she's a mess. What should I do?" Instruct eldest to deposit youngest into tub. Hurry home. Wonder what adopted Mom, Angelina, is doing for Thanksgiving? (Satay and Cristal in between mad boffing sessions in the pantry and text messages from Kofi Annan.)
9:15am: Clean youngest. Clean house. Clean out fridge to make room for what is hopefully a very large turkey. Phone call from hubby to say he's stopping by to drop off the bird. Employer doesn't disappoint. This thing is huge and frozen hard as a rock. Forget fridge, fill sink with cool water and set turkey in there. Children gather around sink to ooh and ahh. Four older children start swapping bad jokes about mom giving the bird swimming lessons so it won't drown in gravy. *badumpbump*
10:00am: Toffee time. The culinary highlight of the children's Thanksgiving every year, homemade, chocolate covered toffee. One by one each child stops by the kitchen to ask if they can taste test when it's done. Everyone gets a sample. One lovely assistant wisely suggests hiding toffee from Dad until tomorrow.
11:00am: Prepare crabmeat stuffed mushrooms and filling for little cheese, pastry puff thingies. Realize that this effort will be totally lost on children who abhor mushrooms.
12:00pm: Inhale lunch.
12:15pm: Cook pie crust and whip up pumpkin filling while it cools. Eldest comes in to see how things are moving along and lights up at sight of nearly completed pie. Remember why you do this.
1:30pm: Set pie in fridge to chill and clean kitchen. Give bird in sink fresh water.
2:30pm: Knit, knit, knit Greek Pullover. Aran weight Andean Silk on Size 8 Addi Turbo needles with an Interweave pattern. It doesn't get any better than this.
4:00pm: Watch Rachel Ray on Oprah while folding laundry. Wish you and family were having Thanksgiving at Rachel's place while Oprah mixes up pomegranate martinis and buys you a house.
5:00pm: Hubby arrives home, "What's for dinner?" Resist urge to strangle darling husband. Wrestle with large turkey instead. Mother-in-law arrives to drop off stuffing and roasting pan.
6:00pm: Fix sorry excuse for a dinner. Chicken nuggets and rice for kids, omelettes for self and spouse.
7:00pm: Help children get ready for bed.
8:00pm: Have embarassingly good time watching Kenny Chesney concert special even though he looks like your 8th grade math teacher when he takes that cowboy hat off. Knit.
9:00pm: Stuff bird. Realize you have no proper kitchen twine and truss turkey with some leftover Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton in ecru. Use aluminum foil to tuck bird in for the night, set him in preheated oven with timer set to go off in 8 hours. Hope for the best.
9:30am: Resist urge to knit just one more row. Get some sleep.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Strange Phenomena

So there I was. Minding my own business. Knitting up a test swatch of Andean Silk in the Pumpkin Patch colorway, because I'm thinking of using it for this. I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting for one of my lovely assistants. After I had knit up a few rows, a mother walked in with her young son. I'd say he was about 4. Mom kept walking into the office, but I looked up to find him frozen in his tracks, staring at me slack jawed and wide eyed, like he'd just stumbled across a dinosaur. A curious creature who makes things with her hands, two sticks and some string. I wasn't at all surprised, because this happens quite a bit when I knit in public. Usually the girls are a bit chattier. "Oooh, look." I'll hear them whisper to their mothers. "What's she doing?"

"She's knitting. Mommy used to knit." they say a little wistfully, watching me too now like they want to pry the needles out of my hands and have a go. Seeing if their hands still know what their minds have forgotten.

And then it happens. The little one has inched closer and closer to have a better view and there's that ball of yarn just sitting there all plush and fuzzy and colorful and the mesmerizing click, click, click of the needles and how can any curious little soul resist. The hands reach out tentatively to touch and mom panics. "No!" she scolds, "Don't Touch!"

"It's alright." I say, "I don't mind."

And it is alright, because they've grown up in a disposable world. Toys break the day after you buy them and Happy Meals don't make you happy and the sweater from the mall falls apart with the very first washing, but it doesn't really matter because the shops have a new style in fashion next week, so you'll need to buy a new one anyways. And sure it feels like plastic, but why would you invest in anything else when it's not going to be around long enough to hold any true value for you?

So, I tell them it's alright and I tell them what animal the yarn comes from. We talk about farming and shearing and spinning and dyeing and making sweaters by hand that actually feel good when you wear them and how I really don't know how long it takes me to make something because I just want to be in the moment and enjoy the softness of my yarn and the click, click, click of my own needles. And then they smile at me in recognition because we understand one another perfectly.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing

I fell off the wagon. A big wagon full of yarn. It's all KnitPicks fault. Why do they have to be such enablers with their free shipping and their little knitable sample in the catalog. Why?!
You knew it had to happen. I've been on a yarn diet so long it hurts. Here I am after my bender. The blue lace weight is for that Karabella shawl I'll never finish and the red is for the IK Greek Pullover. I think the cream might be for that off the shoulder aran knit in the Cathay pattern book from Debbie Bliss, but fiddle di dee, I'll think on that tomorrow. Right now I just need to sleep it off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wake Me When It's Over

I've come down with a little something. It's not a cold or the flu. It's much worse. I've got Knitter's Ennui. I got it bad and that aint good. I think I just burnt myself out with a bazillion projects on the needles. One of which was the Erte Cloche pictured above. I knit it up in black KnitPicks Essential sock yarn with a little KnitPicks Sock Landscape in a contrast color. I'm pleased with how it came out, but I am having some floppy brim issues. I'm thinking of inserting a thin wire in the outer edge, but we'll see.

Or maybe it all started with Jury Duty. Normally I would look forward to a little time away from the house, but this was the equivalent of a five hour trip to the principal's office. First I had the difficult task of figuring out what knitting to bring and then making sure everything was on bamboo or plastic needles that wouldn't set off the metal detectors. After all my care and concern I was waved through security with barely a glance. We were quickly given multiple directions to the same jury holding room, which I think may be their ingenious way of weeding out bad prospects. We all scattered like hamsters in a maze and you know if you're too stupid to find your way to the correct room, they don't want you sitting on a jury anyway.

I was so busy watching instructional videos and waiting for orders that I found it impossible to concentrate on my knitting. I was trying some cablework for a cardigan and I was so afraid I'd be sent to the courtroom mid-row and lose my place on the chart, that I just couldn't do it. Fortunately they had a large bookshelf full of magazines, so I finally got to catch up with Kenny & Renee. I secretly love to read celebrity gossip rags, but there's a celebrity that lives part time in our area and once in a while I see her in the grocery store. It's important to protect her identity, so we'll call her, Sloopy Snolburg. Anyways, I live in fear that I'll be standing in the grocery line, discreetly slipping a copy of Star Magazine into my cart only to turn and find Sloopy behind me in line, glaring at me in disgust from behind her little tinted spectacles.

I was finally brought into one of the courtrooms, but my number wasn't called which was Very fortunate because as soon as I walked in there I broke out in a cold sweat and was suddenly overcome with the fear that I'd developed some kind of judicial Tourette's Syndrome. You know where I suddenly jump up and shout, "It was me! I did it! Whatever it is. I'm GUILTY!" Here's my little internal monologue as the judge was instructing us...

"Is the judge staring at me?
He is, he's staring right at me.
Why is he staring at me like that?
Oh, God. I'm not blinking.
Only guilty people don't blink. I have to blink,
but now I look like I'm thinking about blinking.
Why is he still talking straight to me?
Try and look attentive, not psycho.
Attentive not psycho."

and so on until they finally dismissed me. I can't imagine why.

Of course if they had clapped me in irons and put me on trial I would have the perfect defense. Remember the Karabela crocheted victorian shawl pattern? The one I fell in love with, even though I haven't crocheted in years and it's all done in barely there lace weight yarn? I figure my attorney could just whip that out as exhibit A, along with 2,000 yards of knotted, tear stained alpaca and announce to the jury that his client is clearly insane because she thought she could not only complete this project, but find someplace to wear it. Maybe grocery shopping with Sloopy? Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

You Probably Knit Too Much If...

I dyed my hair to match my Clapotis.

Don't look at me like that. It wasn't all vanity. I was looking at all those gorgeous Noro Silk Garden colors today. Amethyst purples, cobalt blues and emerald greens melting into one another and realized that I had knit this for the old me. I was a redhead as a child and had a love-hate relationship with my hair. It got me quite a bit of attention, not all of it positive, but at least folks knew who I was. When random people talked about our meeting later they could say to each other, "You know, the redhead." or "I forgot the name of the redhead." or, more often than not "The cute blonde says she'll go out with me if I find a blind date for her friend, the redhead."

Well nature plays a cruel joke on us redheads. Red fades with age, which means that just as you reach an age where you can laugh in the face of other peoples' perceptions, "redheaded stepchild" jokes et al, it starts to vanish. Now, when I could finally stare down the bozo who asks, "You gotta temper to match that hair?" it starts to fade to a dishwater blonde.

So today as I looked at Clapotis I realized that my draw to those shades of violet and green stemmed from the fact that they used to be the only shades I could wear that wouldn't clash with my hair. Suddenly I got so homesick for myself, and I did it. I drove to the drugstore and bought some L'oreal Excellence Creme 6R and dyed my hair to match my Clapotis!

Now I once again have that hair that says, "I'm probably descended from Vikings, so while we're having a polite conversation now, you'd best stay on my good side lest my genetic predisposition for burning and pillaging kicks in."

For the first time in a long time I looked in the mirror and recognized myself. I could have used this hair yesterday. We were invited to a birthday party at Chuckie Cheese. For those of you unfamiliar with this establishment, Chuckie Cheese is like Mickey Mouse's out of control, nakedly exploitive and opportunistic younger sibling. Or for all you SAT lovers out there...

Chuckie is to Mickey
As Paris is to Nicky

The only good to come out of this experience is that I can now report with confidence that none of my children have previously undiagnosed epilepsy. Chuckie Cheese is Vegas for children. Bad dinner theater, tokens, gambling,smoke and mirrors. The only thing missing was free cocktails for high stakes gamblers. To which I say, "Ha! you lock me in this building with flashing lights and a 7 foot animatronic mouse, you better make it worth my while."

One interesting side note of the event was watching the interaction between parents. The crowd was made up of women clothed in full Burkas - face covering, the whole nine yards (of fabric) and women in painted on jeans and lingerie as outer wear who were there to spend some quality time with their "baby's daddy" which afforded my children the opportunity to witness the Madonna/Whore Complex in action. Still I felt the need to find some common ground and considered gathering all the women together to hold hands in a circle and sing the Whitney Houston hit I'm Every Woman, but by this point my two year old had gone into electronic overstimulation shock (EOS) and was staring at the mini-carousel screaming "Horsey, Help me! Horsey Help meeeeee!!!!!!!!!" I looked at my husband with that desperate "I know this is your family, but you have to get me out of here before my head implodes." look on my face. Fortunately he felt the same way and together we convinced the children that a three hour wait at the prize counter to redeem 120 points worth of tickets which would earn them a "Let's Go To Chuckie Cheese!" bumper sticker, really wasn't worth it.

And my childrens' only complaint after the fact? They didn't get to spend any quality time with their cousin, the birthday girl.

Rampant consumerism- 1
Human relations- 0

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Swing Low Sweet Chariot...

There is progress on the Clapotis pictured above. It's wrapped around my lovely Irish dancing assistant. This same assistant has not had a very good day. I know this because she sang about it between sobs after she had locked herself in the bathroom. She sang an epic lament about the pain and torment of having me for a mother. I am REALLY looking forward to puberty.

She woke up sad. I know I've had days like that. After a fight with her older sister she came to me for breakfast. I gave her the list of options and nothing sounded good to her. She asked me for the menu twice more and I curtly told her that she had to select from what was available or go hungry. She ran to the bathroom and locked herself in. After a gut wrenching crying jag the (rather loud) pleas to heaven began. "Please God, help me. This is the meanest she's ever been to me. Why does it have to be this way? I do EVERYTHING around here!" This is what comes of watching Cinderella one too many times. And then the singing..." a very bad day, a very bad day, I remember good days so long ago."

This doesn't happen very often, but she has done it before, because it works. There's something about being bad-mouthed to The Almighty by a 6 year old that stops me in my frazzled tracks. I eventually coaxed her out and she later boasted to me "I took a bad day and turned it upside down!" But I secretly fear she's ready to interview new mothers.
I'd like to take this opportunity to beat her to the punch,

Dear Angelina,
If you're reading this, maybe looking for knitting info so you can knit something up for little Zahara? Please adopt me. I'm potty trained, I do dishes, and I have no qualms about calling Brad "Daddy" (insert Soon Yi joke here.) Heck you can even give me the same mohawk as Maddox and change my name to Tonya, but spell it Dhanja, thereby condemming me to a life of having to spell it for every underpaid, overworked office worker that comes my way. I won't write a tell all book and I don't require designer clothes. Just keep me in quality yarn and nobody gets hurt.


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Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Foolishness

I saw this over at Lickety Knit and a few other blogs. Google “[Your Name] needs” and see what kind of sentences come up.

Here are mine:

Aimee needs more cheese.
Aimee needs to spend a few months training in the ring!
Aimee needs a new t-shirt designer.
Aimee needs some retraining.
Aimee needs a caring family to cherish and pamper her for the rest of her life.
Aimee needs wet milling service in Europe.
Aimee needs to stand on a box the next time we take a photo.

pass it on.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Constant Knitter

I have serious blogger's guilt. It's been too long since I've posted, but I have two settings right now. Full speed ahead and full stop! I wake up every morning with the frantic sense that I'm supposed to be somewhere and about 70% of the time I'm right. The other 30% is spent not wanting to do anything at all in protest.
Except knit of course.
I'm knitting like mad to shut out the noise. I have so many projects on the needles right now I've stopped trying to update my WIP bar, at least for the time being.

I have 2 current favorites though that occupy most of my time. First is the Marilyn's Not-So-Shrunken cardi from Wendy at Knit & Tonic which I'm knitting up in Merino Style from KnitPicks. I love this yarn with a passion that knows no depths. It's Dk weight, soft, spongy merino goodness for a little over $2. Plus I love this pattern. It's the first time I've knit a sweater from the top down and I love it. I'm not the biggest fan of finishing, so this project is just what I needed right now. I'm already day dreaming of all the ways I could adapt this pattern in myriad shapes and colors.

The other project is my, at long last, Clapotis. The Clapotis had taken on mythical proportions for me. I've been loathe to blog about this, but we're in the process of attempting to buy a house in a market that's not very accomodating. When we placed our first bid I had visions of myself knitting in front of the fireplace draped in a lovely Clapotis. I decided to cast on with some Noro Silk Garden in a desperate act of wishful knitting. Before I could even get it on the needles we were outbid. Now we've bid on another place and I've been knitting that Clapotis like I could knit the future together just the way I see it. I don't know what's coming or where we're going, but I know that I have to knit into the front and back of every stitch before the markers and I know that Silk Garden drapes lovely and I know that dropped stitches take some coaxing when you actually want them to drop for a change.

In reference to the title of the post, If you haven't been to see The Constant Gardner yet, do your self a favor and see it. Fantastic!

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Wonder of Wonders

One of my lovely assistants is shown here modeling Glampyre's One Skein Wonder. I modified the pattern to fit her and knit it up in a maroon yarn called Touch Me and some Manos del Uruguay wool in the color Butane. It came out perfect. I had very little to do with that. Pattern adjustments mean math and math and I don't usually mix in the context of relaxing hobbies. Not only was I downsizing the pattern, but these yarns knit up at a bulkier gauge than the pattern called for. Instead of grabbing my calculator, I cast on and eye balled the work as I went. If my intuition told me to stop the increases and move on to the edge stitches then that's what I did. Lo and behold it all worked out just right, which is well and fitting since it was a gift for this particular lovely assistant.

Since the day she was born she has had an inner focus that locks onto an objective and never looks back. There's no contemplating the pros and cons, no questioning her own abilities. Just a laser beam straight ahead. As a toddler we would take her to the beach and she would run straight for the water, as high as she could go before we snatched her back to the safety of our sandy blanket. Never mind that she couldn't swim, she just wanted to be there in the waves and I would be franticly pulling her back over and over. In retrospect, if I had let her go, she would have just set about the business of successfully growing fins.

Now she wants to dance. It's all she thinks about. All she does in her free time when she thinks no one's looking. She fell in love with the movie The Secret of Roan Inish and the music captivated her. She began to speak to us with an Irish accent. We brought her to our local pub where a friend was playing his fiddle and she was so thrilled. "It's Roan Inish music!" she said. And then some girls got up to dance and the rhythm of the song was the rhythm of their feet and she dove in.

I made the One Skein Wonder so she would have something special to wear on a special night. For her birthday we surprised her with tickets to Riverdance. She wasn't told where we were going until we arrived at the Theater and she saw the poster. "It's Roan Inish Dancing." she whispered. Beyond ecstatic, she danced in the lobby waiting for the show to start, she sat on the edge of her seat from curtain up to curtain down.

Since the producers of Riverdance failed to notice her remarkable talent as she danced through the lobby, she realized she might have to pay some dues and began dance classes today. The parents aren't allowed to watch class, but my husband later confessed that he peeked in. "All they were doing was hopping around in a line with one leg out." he said. Now I have to confess, I have a nasty trait that I've passed on to the majority of my children. If I can't do something really fantastic from the get go, I lose steam fairly quickly. I remember being in awe of figure skaters as a child until my parents actually signed me up for lessons. I spent class after class just skating in circles, holding on to the waist of the girl in front of me like some conga line in purgatory, thinking, "Hey! When do I get to do a triple toe loop?" So I was sure my daughter would come home with her enthusiasm dampened. Not a chance. She set the dining room chairs up like traffic cones so she could perfect her one leg out hopping on a precise rectangular path. Full steam ahead.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Je Ne Sais Quoi

What is it about the French? When I was about 11 or 12 my uncle had a French girlfriend, Fabian. She would arrive from New York for a weekend visit with just the shoes on her feet and an overnight bag the size of my wallet, but out of it she would pull the makings of a stylish ensemble for every possible situation. She was a fashion "MacGyver"! And I would study her like a science project making mental notes to myself when she arrived at the breakfast table each morning. Nothing fussy. Understated, but undeniably fashion forward, yet never trendy. I wanted to be Fabian when I grew up.

Alas, I was doomed. I grew up in the age of Madonna's Like A Virgin phase. Big hair, parachute pants, linebacker shoulder pads and stirrup pants. Plus, besides Fabian, my other fashion icon was Barbie. I didn't stand a chance. To this day I start out at my closet door with the best of intentions and end up in whatever's clean and comfy (T-shirt & Jeans, T-shirt & Jeans, T-shirt & jeans.) Or the other extreme. I don't know which is worse.

Even with my knitting I always plan on opting for a yarn that's as high quality as my budget allows, in a shade that compliments the stitch pattern and design, but then I actually see the yarn display and ooooohhh that hot pink really catches my eye and wouldn't it look great with some purple metalic lurex at the edge and maybe some rhinestone buttons or beading? Yes, perfect!

So today as I was killing time waiting for the 110th load of laundry to finish in the dryer which is now making an exhausted squeaking noise and I decided to go see how Francoise's vacation went over at Knitwise. She posted pictures of her newest cast on, the Valenciennes cardigan, which is exquisite and naturally from a French pattern. From her site I linked to Le Blog de Caro, which I had never visited before and decided to check out her gallery of finished projects. All of a sudden I was 12 years old again, sitting at the breakfast table with Fabian, feeling utterly inferior in my neon plastic bracelets with an oversized lace bow in my permed hair. Caro's work was all clean lines, rich, but muted hues and delicate edging. *sigh*

So now I want to be Caro when I grow up.
For now I've installed a Babel Fish translator on my sidebar. We can just click on the French flag to translate this page and make believe I'm French. My description of scabies is Much more romantic that way, trust me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Let me preface this post by stating that I love my life and I realize that there are many families who have had far, far worse weeks than I've had. However, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.

We homeschool and we have six children. This time of year is naturally very busy. Now add to that the fact that my 4 year old is going through a serious "mommy phase". ie: everything has to be done by Mom (aka- me). Dad won't do, brother won't do, grandma won't do. It has to be mom. As a result, this is my view all day...

So my darling husband has a job he loves very much. He helps care for the injured and elderly sisters at our local convent. Usually it's a wonderful blessing. The children love to go visit and it's like having 200 grandmothers all fighting to fill you up with cookies, cakes and juice and I have 200 sisters praying for me everyday, which believe me I NEED.

Well, this week one of the sisters came down with Scabies. What's Scabies you ask? I'd do a search and post a link with some graphic pictures and grotesque descriptions, but frankly I don't want to see them myself. Suffice it to say they're microscopic bugs that nest in the skin and they're highly contagious. I prefer to call them kooties. A much nicer image than the alternative. Anyways, because hubby was caring for her and then coming home to us we all have been exposed and must be treated. The treatment itself isn't too bad. Just a topical lotion applied before bed and then washed off in the morning. The hubby tried to make it fun (?) for the children. I applied the lotion while he rounded them up one by one and played emcee- "Congratulations! You're the next contestant on name that itch."

My problem is the laundry. UGH! The laundry. We normally have quite a bit of laundry each week anyways, but this morning all the beds had to be stripped and all the clothes, towels, blankets, etc that have been used lately have to be washed. Just between you and me, a large bonfire in the backyard actually sounds like a reasonable option right now. Minus any handknits of course.

But all is not lost. I actually finished the IK retro rib socks for my mom, plus one of the Glampyre One Skein Wonders for myself in TLC Cotton Plus. I love this little shrug and made myself a second one in pale yellow Lamb's Pride Cotton Fleece which is presently at the bottom of that laundry pile.
A top secret sweater I've been knitting for my FIL for his birthday on Saturday was also completed in the knick of time. I was going for a slouchy, v-neck sweatshirt feel with the sweater and it's my first project from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, which I love. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. Here it is,

All gifts will be washed before giving. No one really wants some kooties with their knitwear.

Back to the laundry I go.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

Show & Tell

Look what I made!

Life's been a little crazy lately, so I took a break from reality and played with yarn and dye all day. I've been experimenting and finally came up with a technique I like. I took some leftover aran weight wool and some fingering weight merino wool that I had dyed previously solid colors and I overdyed them with 2 shades each and created this effect.

I love them both and just knitted up this test swatch with a few different stitches to make sure I didn't end up with some crazy splotches of pooling. So far so good.

My big knitting lessons of the week....give me some natural fibers and dyes and I'm like a pig in mud. Happy, Happy! Ask me to do some lace knitting and you'll find me later in a puddle of tears and knotted yarn.

Dear Santa,
If you're reading this, I'd like 2 bags of Henry's Attic Andromeda from Discount Yarns that I can dye myself and knit up a lovely Clapotis. (I prefer to see myself as not so much a knitting lemming, but rather a woman who knows a good thing when she sees it.) I promise I'll be a very good girl for the rest of the year.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Star Crossed Lovers

You know how sometimes you see a pattern and think, "That's pretty cute and I have that yarn in my stash. Sure, I'll cast on."
and then sometimes you see a pattern and your little knitter's heart starts to race and you HAVE to make it? That's what happened to me when I stumbled across this shawl pattern from Karabella in an old Patternworks catalog. After picking myself up off the floor I read on to find that it's actually a crochet pattern and I haven't crocheted, with the exception of some decorative edging, for over a decade.

No problem. It's like riding a bike, right?

Then I saw the suggested yarn was Karabella LW Supercashmere which costs roughly an arm and a leg.

No problem. I have some heathered lace weight super soft alpaca from Knit Picks that would probably work.

Then I tried to order the pattern from the Patternworks site only to find they no longer carry it.

No problem. A quick Google search and I tracked it down at Knit Pixie.

Now I will sit by my window everyday and wait for the mail man with my crochet hook in one hand and a ball of lace weight alpaca in the other, because although the odds are clearly against us, with God as my witness, I will do whatever I need to do to make this work and we will live happily ever after.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Li'l Miss Crumpet

I've been wrapping up a flourish of finishing. Here's the completed Crumpets babydoll top in KnitPicks' Shine, green apple. Doesn't she look sweet & adorable. You should know I had to delay this post to call Poison Control because I found my little darling eating craft glitter shortly after this picture was taken. This is the same child who had to go to the ER a few weeks ago when she shoved plastic beads up her nose. (If you ever need to know how to extract beads from the nose of a toddler just drop me a line. I can spare you a trip.) Not content with just sticking one up there, she managed to insert 3 before she realized they weren't at all comfortable. The next day I also discovered that she had eaten 2. I'll spare you the details as to how I know this, but let's just say it came out alright in the end. Posted by Picasa

Awww...I Think She Takes After Me

Here are my completed baby gifts. Now let's just hope the ultrasound tech was correct and it's a girl. I tried to make everything big enough so it'll fit in the cooler weather and I certainly hope for the expectant mother's sake she's not born with a head big enough to wear that hat home from the hospital. Ouch!

The hat is Miss Dashwood from Knitty. I used cream colored Andean Silk from KnitPicks. The Mittens are from Zoe Mellor's Nursery Knits, the socks are the ruffle rib Better Than Booties socks from Interweave (PDF file) and all of those were done with KnitPicks Sock Memories in Paperdoll.
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Friday, July 22, 2005

God Save The Queen

My regal assistant is modeling the recently completed Elizabeth ruff from Kate Gilbert, the evil genius who loosed Clapotis on an unsuspecting knitting public. I love this design. Not only was it a quick, fun knit which let me use up odds and ends of Rowan Kidsilk Haze left over from my Maggie sweater, but it's a great option for moms who don't want their little ones running around the playground wearing long scarves.

Also on the needles is a variety of baby booties, mittens, hats, etc. for friends having babies. I'm using knit picks self striping sock yarn in the Paper Doll colorway right now and LOVE it. The colors are more vibrant than they appeared on my computer screen, but still softer than the other shades they offer and the merino is nice and soft and very easy to knit with. I ordered a few extra skeins in a dark purple colorway (the name of which escapes me now) that I'll use to knit up the Erte Cloche from Marnie MacLean as soon as all my gift knitting is done. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Comic Relief

Sorry blogging's been light. With everything that's happened in London writing about knitting seemed a little ridiculous. But here I am, so I mine as well offer the ultimate in ridiculous knitting for a little comic relief. Go check out You Knit What? and have a good laugh.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sock & Crumpets

I've been a busy girl this holiday weekend, knitting away when I wasn't yelling at the TV screen during Live8.

Warning: Non-Knitting Side Rant. Could the MTV coverage have been any worse?!

V.J.: "Scissor Sisters is really tearing it up here live, but let's go now to some pre-recorded footage of Jay-Z and Lincoln Park for the umpteenth time."

And how sad is the state of the modern music industry that Pink Floyd walked out on stage and mopped up the floor with every "artist" who apparently put more thought into their wardrobe than their music.

OK, rant over.

Anyways, I finished the first Retro-Rib sock and cast on Crumpets from Chiagu in the leftover Green Apple Shine from KnitPicks. I'm taking a cue from Wendy over at Knit & Tonic and knitting it as a little baby doll tank for my daughter. So far I really love how the pattern is knitting up. Unfortunately I had originally started on larger needles, but the gauge was way too loose and looked so sloppy I frogged the whole thing and started over on smaller needles. All better now. I found a Crumpets Knit Along and I think I may join. It'll be my first Knit-Along.
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Thursday, June 30, 2005

I Am The Champion My Friends!

Behold the domesticated monster. I was in such a funk this week I knew there was only one project that could pull me through. I had to tackle that fuzzy sweater from Rowan Magazine #31 that's been sitting in the box under my nightstand for over a year and show it who's boss.

Once I pulled it all out and figured where I left off, I was stunned at how quickly it came together. Not only did I finish it, but it's actually my favorite finished piece yet! It's a true testament to the beauty of Kidsilk Haze that I'm still eager to knit with it again after all this and the sweater has a flirty Donna Reed feel that makes me want to greet my family with fresh baked muffins in the morning and vacume in high heels and pearls.

Never again will I be intimidated by two sticks and some yarn. I will knit intarsia. I will knit fair isle. I will knit lace. Who knows, maybe I'll even knit enterlac and NO ONE CAN STOP ME! except maybe my husband when he gets the yarn bill.

Speaking of yarn. Here's a great mystery of the knitting universe to ponder, if KnitPixie receives a new supply of Vesper Sock Yarn every week, why is it always out of stock??? I obsessively check everyday and it's never there. Has anyone tried it? Is my adoration from afar well founded? Will I ultimately be disappointed when I finally get my hands on some? And how does Knitterly Things dye a self striping sock yarn with so many shades of Kool-Aid anyways? The worlds biggest microwave?
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It's time for the Inspirations Yarn Womb Watch! Margaret's due for an induction any time now. Watch her blog for the big announcement.
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