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