Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Magic of 2's

I've never been what you would call "dainty." Klutzy, that's me. When I was young, and I would go see my grandmother, first in the retirement community in Bricktown, NJ, and then, later, in the nursing home, it was always the same thing - what? that's what you're wearing? Couldn't you comb your hair? Don't you have a party dress? As I got older, my answers got better - "By the time I was your age, I had a husband," "Grandma, by the time you were my age, you had three husbands."

Grandma wanted me to become a writer, but now, I'm a lawyer - a lawyer who goes to prisons, who can talk the talk as good as any of my clients, who certainly, during a rape case, is hardly very ladylike - I tried a case a couple of years ago now, where the victim truly believed that she was the Pope, that she was born in 1583, and that sometimes, she wasn't the Pope, but she was really Mary. When the police arrived at her apartment, my client was naked, and she was tied up, in a corner, bleeding from an ugly lip injury. My theory, and what I argued to the jury, was that it was S&M gone bad, and that you knew that had to be true because if she thought she was the Pope, or Mary, she could only have sex tied up - resisting.

The jury hung - 11-1 to acquit. And, I know exactly when I lost that one juror. She was the last juror I picked, and I didn't like her right away. She was heavyset, lived in West Philly, alone, and was unemployed - she seemed lonely, and someone who might be very sympathetic to someone with mental illness. On the other hand, she lived alone even after being burglarized several times, and she had a distrust of the police. I had one strike left, and I knew I had to strike the next guy. I took her, the DA took her, I was stuck. It was during my closing that I knew, knew I should have used that last strike on her - I was talking to the jury about the complainant's injury -- that you know it didn't happen how she said it happened, because it didn't happen where she said it happened. The Pope claimed that she had been hit with a closed fist in front of her bookcase. Now, this Pope was a former Nan Duskin model, tall, over 6 ft, with long, blond hair. To emphasize her size, I reminded the jury of how she had showed them her hands, and then I showed them my hands, surprisingly small -- remember her hands, look at my hands - you've watched me trip all over this courtroom, drop things -- if that linebacker of a woman had gone down where she said she had - the whole bookcase would have gone down with her. That linebacker of a woman . . . I lost her. The jury was out five days, one holdout, 11-1 to acquit.

And, now, when I look at my hands, I remember that victim's hands - and you know what erases that?

Knitting on 2's.

I look at my hands, holding the 2's, lightly, ever so lightly, can't knit tight on 2's, the little stitches, the delicate yarn. And those 2's make every clumsy, unladylike moment of my life just unimaginable -- if grandma had seen me with 2's, she never would have asked about my party dress. That big old prom dress with the bustle on the butt? No, that couldn't have been the dress she wore, that tent - her hands are so nimble, knitting on 2's. Is that the girl who dragged toilet paper wrapped around her ankle all the way through Penn State's library? Can't be, look at how she knits on 2's! She stepped on the bride's seven layer train and ripped it as they were walking back up the aisle? Nah, she's so poised, with those 2's. Are you sure she really dropped the cover of the toilet seat at that shorehouse, breaking it into a million pieces? She looks so steady, knitting with 2's. Every spilt beer, every trip into midair on absolutely nothing, the courthouse, the prison, everything, a 6 ft tall Pope -

Gone when I knit with 2's.

Everyone needs a 2 in her life.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Being Penitent

Usually, on Sunday, I spend the day at the pool, lounging with the Inky and the Times. This Sunday, however, spelled the coming of fall (which also brings football, the E-A-G-L-E-S, and all of the accompanying Philly drama), and I was back to my fall routine of hanging out at Barnes & Nobles with my sesame bagel, an iced coffee, and the papers. The Times' Supplement this week highlighted the fall fashions (hmm . . . I didn't see any mention of Rowan 38), and low and behold, my leggings are so in!:

How sad that this ol' project keeps getting moved farther and farther on the backburner!

So, did I run home to cast on the second stocking? No, instead, I took the bad weather as an opportunity to attend my first Penitent Knitters in Fairmount. No, it's not the AA of Knitters, nor a Knitters Anonymous group, rather Penitent Knitters is so named because it convenes across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary, a long-closed prison, built in a hub, based on solitary confinement and Quaker principals. Normally, my thinking is I spend enough time at the very real prisons on State Road, why would I want to spend my Sunday knitting in the shadow of the country's first prison? And, between my very busy pool and football watching schedule, I've never been able to get to this Sunday knitalong, but a little rain, a little coffee, a very comfy couch, good company, and we have a front (and part of a sleeve):

Because this project is going so swimmingly, what did I do? I cast on another. The Alan Rickman of Rowan 38:

I just had to do it - had to! See, I came back from court on Monday, bummed out, I guess, just because I had to slog over to court in a suit in the rain. And on my desk - my Rowan package had arrived from England! Sweet! Love that Ebay! Rowan Tweed 4 ply, called Mulled Wine, at $3.25 per ball (normally $5.50), even with the postage. And, since this project takes 10, count 'em, 10 balls, I couldn't pass up that kind of bargain, could I? And, it really is a more challenging project than the baby cardigan. Knit on 2's (well, the pattern calls for 3's, but I'm on gauge on 2's, and frankly, the yarn feels much more comfortable on 2's, the 3's seemed kind of bulky), it's a kind of knotty pattern, a combination of yo's and P3tog's. And, I did continue on in the prison theme, watching the 2 hour premiere of Prison Break.

So, I should be penitent that I haven't cast on my legging. And I should be really penitent that I didn't finish my future nephew's cardigan before starting something for myself, and I should be penitent for the chocolate bar I ate for lunch - but you know what, eh! I'll wait 'til Yom Kippur and get it all over and done with in one day.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


The coat done - what next?? I woke up feeling, lost - I had nothing to knit. Oh, I had plenty of projects on needles, but they don't count. Well, it's present time -- new nephew arriving and dad's birthday the same week in September.

I hate knitting baby presents. I've said it. Yeah, they're cute, yadda yadda, but the bottom line is that often a. they're unappreciated, and b. the parents put the kid in the handmade garment for a photo op, take the kid out of the outfit, wrap the outfit up in tissue paper, and save the outfit - for what? what are they saving it for? To pull it out 20 years from now, go aw - Auntie Wendy made that for you, and you never wore it.

The other thing I hate more than knitting baby outfits, is baby showers. I avoid them like the plague - actually, the plague is preferable, at least you lose a few pounds and there isn't a jello mold in sight -- so it's not surprising that I have two baby garments on needles, and the babies for whom they were meant are well on their way to toddler sizes. I have this:

which only needs a button band, collar, and this:

Unfortunately, this pattern is MIA, as I've either lost or lent the Debbie Bliss book the pattern was in to someone who held onto the book, as they probably didn't finish their baby present either.

And, can you really regift a gift that was never gifted? What I mean is - shouldn't I be knitting something for my future nephew with my nephew in mind -- I knit this for YOU, isn't that what I should be thinking? Wouldn't it be cheating, and kind of cold, to pass off something knit for a baby that I didn't even care enough about to actually finish the little cardigan?

While I was mulling this over, my brother called - the father of my future nephew. He said, quick, get on Jdate -- this new guy is going to be on, and you need to snatch him up. How do you know? I asked. Because he was engaged to a friend, she dumped him, he's definitely looking to get married, and I'm sure he's reactivated his profile. You need to strike while the iron is hot! This immediately didn't smell right to me. Isn't that like looking for an apartment in the obituaries?

So, with that in mind, I decided fresh is best - and off to Rosie's I went, early dismissing myself from work at 3:30 on Friday. I picked a hoodie - because every newborn needs a hoodie - out of Rowan's Pipsqueaks -
And, rather than wool cotton (which is $10 per ball), I picked the Zara, which was on sale for $5.50 (look, I've already guilttripped myself into making a whole new baby thingy when I have two perfectly good things started, I can buy the sale yarn!),and while I watched the world's worst movie on On Demand today during our typical Philly rainy Saturday afternoon (meet the Fockers - do we really need one more smacked ass movie that makes Jews look like we all stepped out of Jackie Mason routine??), I quickly knit up the back:

And, I do feel much better that I'm not recycling for my new nephew - just as I won't be looking for leftovers on Jdate.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ta Da!

The Postman Revisited

Rowan 38 came to me in a dream last night - ok, that tells you how exciting my extracurricular activities are lately - and it resembled a montage of really bad Kevin Costner movies - the Postman, Waterworld, Robin Hood - where dishtowels strapped around one's waist passed for a skirt; Wyatt Earp, where a prostitute in a brothel was never without a veiled shmata on her head, Bull Durham where Susan Sarandon channeled Flashdance with the wide sleeve, and Tin Cup, where Golf Club Covers substituting for neck ornaments would certainly be applauded.

I awoke from this nightmare in a sweat, fear - Rowan 38, directed by Kevin Costner, ah! I calmed myself. I remembered that with every Costner stinker, along with the bad clothes, bad haircut and the horrible English accent, there's always a bright lining - Alan Rickman as the Sheriff, Dennis Quaid as Doc Holiday, that long, wet kiss monologue from Bull Durham, the wolf in Dances with Wolves. All is not lost in Rowan 38, but as a whole, style definitely took precedence over wearability, and I'm not so sure it's real style or rather stylization. The Postman, Waterworld, very stylized, high concept films - but, bad story, bad script, bad acting. I give you Rowan 38.

And, something else came to me - R, I may not be half wrong. I never said what would come first - the disappointment or the sex - following dinner with an ex - many times the disappointment comes later. And, I'm not talking about disappointing sex, for after all, the only reason to have dinner with an ex is either to go back to the well, or make sure the well is still full, and to reaffirm that we are still as cute as we think we are. If disappointment weren't sure to follow, we never would have broken up with the guy in the first place.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

At Arm's Length

Only one seam left to sew (the arm - my bad bad bad pun title) -- finished product unveiled tomorrow!

Tonight was Rowan fest - of course, after I had decided to make my dad the socks on the cover of the new Rowan Classic Winter, someone (you know who you are, and so do we!), dubbed the new Soft Tweed "Dryer Lint." Not very attractive. True, but unappealing.

Another true, but unappealing topic - clearly, a topic appropriate for knitting circle - male waxing. Having been with two men who wax their backs (yes, you too know who you are, and at least knitting circle knows that one of you is Dog Walker),I can tell you - well, let's put it this way - you know that beard burn that we delicate women tend to get from unshaven men -- imagine cuddling up to one big brillo pad. Uh huh - bad idea! Just say no to male back waxing!

But, apparently, everyone is saying yes yes yes to Rowan 38. I'm still not so sure. Interesting patterns, new designers, but . . . is it really all that wearable? We'll see. Duran Duran surprised us, and withstood the test of time, maybe Kid Acne will as well.

Pics. tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2005

The End of the Short Tunnel

Knitting this was hardly a long dark tunnel - it has raced by so quickly not only did I have an EZ Pass, I must have hit all of the green lights along the way:

Half a sleeve, the collar, and sewing to go! Just in time for . . . yep, there was a real hurry to knit up a heavy wool sweater in this 90 degree heat. Sometimes you just gotta knit what you gotta knit. Ok, I really have watched Rocky one too many times. Have I ever mentioned that I think there should be a Rocky channel in Philadelphia? I think it should broadcast from Friday at midnight, until midday Sunday (just in time for football), and it should run all of the Rocky's back to back, in a round - the next week picking up where the last week left off. And, all of our local businesses - like Pat's, Geno's, Italian Market vendors, Lee's Hoagies, the Blue Horizon, etc., could advertise. Just another one of my get rich quick schemes. Well, it's my only get rich quick scheme -- hmmmm, and I'm not rich.

Next project -- so far the vote is 2-0 in favor of . . . ripit ripit ripit. I've now reread the pattern for the skirt. Not looking so good there, either. I thought it was a safe assumption that it would be knit in the round -- since it is round, but no, wrong. Strange increases, and a seam. This may be a complete retreat, and back to the old drawing board with 20 skeins of Silk Garden on deck.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I've Been Hubble'd

I've been told I look like Barbra Streisand. That's ok, I just wish I could carry a tune, but Songbird I ain't. Anyway, we all know the movie The Way We Were, and aside from that bittersweet, sigh, tissuebox moment at that end of the movie when she brushes Robert Redford's hair off his forehead and says, "Your girl is lovely, Hubble," (an aside - what kind of a name is Hubble anyway? Have you ever met a Hubble?) what do we all remember - the song, of course. If we had the chance to do it all again - would we? could we?

The flyermaker's daughter is starting NYU in the fall, and she's a bit nervous about the four strangers who she's been thrown in with in her dorm. I reminisced with her about my Penn State roomies. My first roommate, who grew up in Sunbury, PA, graduated with all of 20 people, and asked to see my horns when she first met me. My roommate Debbie who had a killer rabbit named Milky who I swear must have been an extra in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail. The apartment I shared with four other girls, one bathroom, and the one roommate who always had sex in the bathroom while we waited in line in the hallway, towels in hand. Sweet NYU freshman asked, "why would she want to have sex in the bathroom? Didn't she have her own room?" I started to answer, about that big ol' tub with the feet on the bottom . . . but, ah, innocence. Anyway, I started to think what it would be like if I could do it all over again.

One thing I know I would do different is this:

What possessed me to dye my hair black? And, not only did we dye my hair, we dyed my earlobes. I had black earlobes for weeks, weeks. Shocked aren't you, from the pictures - doesn't it look like we took care? I guess we should have read the label, and noticed that black hair dye is TAR, and it's PERMANENT.

And my knitting - what would I take back? Easy -- my Noro Silk Garden Suit From Hell!!!!

It's supposed to look like this:

I was enthralled -- I had two birthday gift certificates, which just covered the 20 skeins. I quickly cast on -- on 7's, the recommended needle size in the pattern. Swatching, swatching, swatching -- I should have been suspicious then - to get on gauge I had to go down to 3's. Ok, so I cast on. Knit knit knit. It was clearly too small, and I was on gauge. So, I ripped, and added six stitches -- the short rows which you will see in a minute are on a six stitch repeat. I persevered:

So, what's supposed to happen is you knit the bottom of the back, around the short rows, to the side panel. Then, you sew the two back edges together, pick up stitches across the top of that bottom edge, and knit the back panel:

I finished the fronts, and I'm still convinced it's too small. I know I still have to pick up the buttonband, but I've compared it to clothes I wear, and it's too short, and seems too narrow. But, determined, I plugged away, finished one sleeve, and I'm almost done the other:

But, look carefully - that sleeve isn't going to go in that armhole. It just looks all f-k'd up!

So, I've reached the crucial moment - actually, I've probably already passed the crucial moment several times, but like many times in my life, I remained in denial:

To rip or not to rip? To run the risk of living with the proverbial black earlobes again. Oh, and by the way, not only did I hide my ears with hideous big earrings, the hair looked like crap for months and months. Whenever you get a bad haircut, everyone says, it will grow (after they tell you that it looks good, and then the next week, it's not so bad, and then finally, they admit that you got butchered). This suit is such a BAD HAIRCUT.

So, what I'm thinking of doing is casting on the skirt -- how badly could that go, and then making a different top, something like this cardigan in the new Noro book:

Cut my losses, not my hair? Any thoughts friends? There's a reason why there are no Hubble's out there - the name just sucks, and who would name someone after a character who would rather be with the lovely girl than K-K-Katie? Fellow knitters, this pattern may just be a Hubble. How many Noro suits do you see walking around out there?

Help please!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Knit in Being

Oy! I'm exhausted! Changing this template took more brainpower than the LSAT. Isn't it ironic that someone who has 2 degrees steeped completely in self-expression, can't speak that speech because of a crazy insane code -- I think HMTL is a violation of the First Amendment. It's certainly designed to curb speech. Everytime I crack the code, much like when I read Clockwork Orange, I whoop with glee! Now, if someone could just, please, for G-d's sake, tell me how to change my header!

Anyway, knitting circle was rockin' in the West Wing last night. Although I did give kudos this week to the Poolside Knitters, I forgot to mention the crocheter who showed up -- she plopped herself down, of course looking for help, and while I respect crochet, I like to keep it at a distance - so I was worthless to her. I asked her what she was making. A baby blanket (in white fluffy acrylic of course). Oh, who's having a baby? Me. Great, when are you due? I'm not. Ok, my blank stare must have motivated her to explain. You see, she said, my husband and I have been trying to have a baby, we've been having trouble, so I thought I would knit a baby blanket, maybe to help things along. Honey, crochet is not what gets the job done! Luckily, everyone at Rosie's was knitting for a life in being.

But, if you shouldn't knit for a baby that doesn't exist (and let's be clear, you shouldn't), should you show up for dinner for a relationship that doesn't exist? I guess we'll have to wait for the update next week, but my feeling is that they're one in the same - both lead to disappointment, and, sigh . . . sex.

Anyway, the update on the seedstitch coat -- no one could believe that I only started this thing on Sunday, but really, it's just knitting up so fast the progress is really out of my hands:

As you can see, I've completed the back, and begun one of the front panels. Here is where an anal knitter hits trouble -- keeping those Noro bands of color in some kind of order. I, well, I'm not so picky, I kind of like the mishmashing of stripes (see completed projects), and I'm not so concerned. The only thing I really try to do is stay dark on the bottom, but I just can't be bothered with perfectly lining up the blue stripes.

And, between HTML translation exercises and speed knitting, no, I just haven't had time to cast on that stocking!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Rocky II

So when I went into Rosie's to feed my addiction, and purchase my wool for the seedstitch coat, Lisa told me that she had read my Jews Don't Throw entry -- then she looked down at me swatching away, and said, "Seedstitch -- why in G-d's name are you still carrying the yarn in your right hand?!?"

Ok, ok -- I think I might have to join Jews Do Throw Anonymous. I just can't switch, I'm too old, I'm to set in my ways. It's like Rocky II -- I know, there's nothing about a fat Sylvester Stallone throwing punches at a hunk of meat that immediately calls to mind anything remotely related to knitting, but in Rocky II his trainer, Micky, decides that in order to win, Rocky has to throw away his South Paw ways, and become a right handed fighter. So, he ties Rocky's left arm to his side, and has him chase a chicken around a yard for the bulk of the movie. Yes, believe me, this is a Philadelphia classic. Anyway, me switching the yarn to my left hand would require training as drastic as the tie down/chicken pitch. So, since there's no title fight at stake, and no chicken race to finish, I just plug away at throwing my yarn, back and forth, in a motion that would making anyone watching me knit a little seasick, but it works for me. And, I think the back of the coat will be finished tonight!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Full Circle

Poolside Knitters has found it's way! We sat in a circle, not two semi-circles. Yes, I had to teach the Gartersnake how to pearl (again), but you know, she came determined to learn, and she really tried hard. The conversations were about knitting, and the love of textiles, travel, family, movies, Six Feet Under. I'm so relieved! Judy, a knitter far more experienced than I, had been quietly knitting the first few weeks, feeling the group out, determining, I guess, if the rest of us were knitworthy. And, I guess it was a true testament that were all sitting, knitting in 90 degree weather, outdoors week after week. Satisfied, she told us about her trip to Wales, and the Colinette spinnery and the secrets of their handpainting, how she can't stop touching fiber, and her secret yarn stash. It was like a confessional or a gush - it all came with a sly smile, and a sigh.

Speaking of outdoors, it was so nice to look at my new project grow in natural lighting. I could now see the beautiful flecks of yellow and purple throughout the fabric, and I was even more pleased with my choice of yarn. So, what is my new mystery project. Wait no more:

The seed stitch coat in the new Winter Vogue. I, of course, am doing it in my second favorite yarn, anything by Noro. This yarn is called Yoiro, get's 3.5 stitches to the inch on 11's (my favorite needles - a post for a different day, and looks just beautiful:

This is the back, about 22" worth, 4" from the armhole shaping:

This is knitting up so fast it's incredible. I love instant gratification! Some things take patience, like the growth of a circle, but other things . . . well, not everything has to be difficult.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Missoni Complete

No, I did not cast on that second sock. But, I did finish the exactly one skein of Koigu hat:

Knit on 16" circular 3's, it went surprisingly quickly. Well, any knitting at a family function, I find, goes really quickly. I sit, nod my head, try to be polite, try not to make faces, and knit. Like my mother, not only do I throw my yarn, I make faces that, for some reason, I think no one can see. But, any time a "you're an idiot," "can't you just shut up," "you don't know anything," "that child is such a wackjob" expression crossed my face, I just looked down at my knitting, carefully counted stitches, recomposed, and that's the way to get through the day - certainly better than shoving a chocolate chip cookie in my face.

And, since I finished a project, I got to start a new one . . . no, not the second sock . . .more tomorrow. I know the suspense is killing you.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Second Sock

The first sock. It's like a breakup. You've spent weeks and weeks, forming a relationship with that particular sock. And, then, it's done. Sometimes, its very sad -- the sock was a perfect knit. But, before you can mourn the relationship, you cast on the second sock, and it's your chance to relive the romance. Then, you have a pair, and a love that will last a lifetime. But, sometimes, it's a very bad breakup. The pattern was really complicated, but not particularly fun, the heel was a real heel - this would be a good place to put up a gallery of my rogue socks, but no need to revisit those one hit wonders. And, sometimes, the relationship was just plain old boring, round and round you go . . . Bind of that toe, slip it on, everyone goes ooo, ah . . . but then, sigh, now the second one. Start all over. Go back to the well. The relationship was ok, no magic. The sense of accomplishment of finishing the first sock is shortlived, it's almost as if it never happened, because what good is one sock? So, it's not hard to understand why I've been procrastinating casting on my second sock - because it's a monster sock, not even a sock at all, but a stocking:

Round and round. And, the wool is beautiful -- Bluefaced Leicester from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but from the Cuff to the first set of decreases is 70 rounds. 70! Oy! And then, once they're finished, these stockings are not going to stand up on their on, on no. They need support. I have to sew in some elastic, or wear a garter -- now, wait, hmmmm . . . that could be fun!

And, as always, socks, like boys, like buses -- there's always a next one! On to the second sock, the future garter, and whatever follows . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Missoni Madness

I went into Rosie's the other day, to simply replace a pattern that I had lost. Well, I choose to think it's lost, because the only other option is that my cleaning lady threw it out, and right now, my cleaning lady is on double secret probation. It all started several years ago, when cleaning lady was cleaning my friend Sue's apartment as well as mine. Sue came home from work one day to find cleaning lady scrubbing the house in Sue's shoes -- yes, you read that right, she had changed her shoes, and put Sue's shoes on to clean her house. Sue fired her. I felt bad for her, and, she hadn't worn my shoes, and she's cheap. The next summer, I bought a pair of fabulous, and fabulously expensive Dansko shoes. I wore them everywhere, to work, to Europe, everywhere. The next season, I looked for them, and couldn't find them. Strange for a pair of shoes to just disappear, but I just figured they were lost in the house somewhere. This summer, when I was planning my Europe trip, I said to my friend Betsy, damn, I wish I had those Dansko's. She said, Wend, I have something to tell you. It turns out that one time, when cleaning lady came over to Betsy's place, Betsy noticed that she was wearing those Dansko shoes. Betsy was immediately suspicious, how did cleaning lady afford the Dansko's? But, she put it out of her head, why would cleaning lady steal a pair of used Dansko's? But, now that she heard that my shoes had never turned up, her suspicions seemed confirmed. Cleaning lady stole my shoes? I still can't believe it, so double secret probation, and no shoes had better go missing this summer.

Anyway, that's a really long tangent, and hardly explains why I had to buy three more skeins of Koigu to recreate the scarf/hat combo that Grace was knitting in the store, even though I have 50 billion projects already on needles. However, maybe this blurb from Harper's Bazaar will:

Koigu, to me, knits up just like Missoni (although this particular cap isn't the best example, but for anyone who has seen any of Missoni's knit clothing . . .), and this hat looks just like the hat Grace had already finished. The hat is beretlike, like this one, and the pattern is kind of criss cross stitch. I couldn't wait to have it, and considering the Missoni hat is $335, and the skein of Koigu was 9.00, I figured it was a good investment.

I wanted to practice the pattern first, so I cast on the scarf:

I'm pretty much done the scarf now, but I don't want to cast it off, just in case I run short on yarn for the hat because I noticed at Knitting Circle on Wednesday that Rosie's is sold out of my particular skein, so I had better be conservative. And, well, as long as it's still on needles, well, I don't have to worry about cleaning lady walking away in it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jews Don't Throw

I went to my real knitting circle tonight at Rosie's - where there wasn't an acrylic garter scarf in sight. Sigh. My friends shuddered at my poolside knitting, rightly thinking that I had been recruited for the sole purpose of giving free knitting lessons, not for the pleasure of my delightful company. I did start to feel badly about my snide comments about the garter scarf -- you have to start somewhere right? If it's only practice, and you're not really going to wear it, and it's certainly not going to be a gift, and no one is going to see it, well, then what the hell is wrong with acrylic anyway? (Hmm, there are those maybes again when you're rationalizing). You wouldn't want to waste wool on practice, right? Well, that lead to a discussion about how we learned to knit, and who throws their yarn, and one woman matter-of-factly said, "Jews don't throw." (Uch, I just thought of something really disgusting - another myth about what Jews don't do . . . another falsehood, by the way). Her theory was that since nice Jewish knitters are generally taught how to knit by their mother's who likewise were taught by their mothers, we all are taught a very Eastern European style of knitting, NO THROWING.

Well, unfortunately, my mom isn't quite the knitter. The best best Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls in the entire universe (hmm . . . future blog - Soup to Knit By, recipe to follow), but knitter? eh. My grandmother on my mother's side crocheted, but by the time I was old enough to learn, she had stopped, her hands no longer nimble. My other grandmother may have knit or crocheted at one point, but I all I remember is her hands mangled by arthritis. So, the task to teach me was left to my mother alone.

Here is my first knitting lesson:

There's a smile on my face, but I was throwing my yarn, dropping stitches, adding stitches. Frustration lead to fear which lead to hate, the force was not with me, I went to the dark side, and my knitting was quickly abandoned. (Uch! Did I just refer to SciF? Sorry West Wingers). Years later, when I picked it up again, this time with much more success, it was time for me to teach my mom. Now, I check her stitches, to make sure she hasn't dropped or added. I attempt to fix her deviations from her patterns (although sometimes they just become design elements). I've refreshed her memory of how to increase and decrease. She is queen of the Chemo Cap with her Hadassah group, and she proudly wears the shawls, scarves, sweaters I've made her to her Red Hat Luncheons, nodding and saying, "My daughter made it." Now, all I have to do is catch up to my brother and give her a grandchild for whom she can knit to her heart's content. Thank goodness for my brother!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rethinking Knitting and Drinking

Soggy Kniting was indeed soggy, but we did persevere. All two of us, my friend who made the flyer, and I. The woman with the acrylic starter scarf the length of the New Jersey turnpike was a no show. I was so upset at the thought of that snake having one more day to thrive, to grow, to be enabled to wrap around someone's neck 50+ times, that we called her, dragged her out of her stupor in front of the t.v., and cast-off the garter snake. I convinced her that the next endless scarf should incorporate some purling. For a 1/2 hour, I attempted to show her how to purl . . . I am clearly a shitty teacher, which leads me to the drinking element of this post . . .

The flyer-maker brought a bottle of wine to the dry pool night -- so much for choosing a safe night like Monday. That one glass, one small glass, calmed me through first purling, did not impeded my own knitting (not that I did much of my own knitting), and did not in any way shape or form lead to anything irreparable. And, really, what in knitting is irreparable? Take my first drunken knitting project:

The Japanese Chulla. Why did I choose to cast this on at 3:00 a.m.? Good question. Maybe because I had bought the yarn, Noro Iro, that morning, and I was thinking about it all day (ok, thinking about a certain yarn all day I guess is a qualification for serious therapy), maybe because I didn't realize quite how buzzed I was, and -- maybe's -- they stack up, don't they when you're trying to rationalize? Notice the ear flaps - short rows. Then the cast on to the other flap. Mmm . . . good idea to do it drunk. I woke up the next morning to find that my ear flaps looked like lightening bolts, and my cast on to the other flap was a mobius. Good work! But, you know what? -- not irreparable. Rip, fix, all better.

And my drunken dialing? I wish as simple as rip, fix, all better. Rip, yes. Fix? Always more complicated. Stick to the Japanese chulla.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Maryland Revisited

I don't know what happened -- well, that's not true, I know exactly what happened. I got swept up in the moment, the frenzy, the chaos -- I COULD NOT STOP BUYING KOIGU. The talk on Rosie's Yarn Cellar's annual bus trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival was all koigu. Baskets of koigu, koigu colors colors colors, we must get to Koigu! No, no brainwashing occurred, hardly, I've always been a big fan. But, did I really need anymore Koigu as I headed to the Koigu booth at the festival? But, once I had my basket in hand, there was no stopping me - skein after incomplete skein ended up on the scale, and I went home with 700+ yards of Kersti, and 1300 + yards of KPPPM. I decided to tackle the unknown first, the Kersti.

What to make? Even though I had carefully weighed my scraps, I wasn't sure I had done it correctly (yes, I know it's just a scale, but I'm a person who doesn't even drive a car because driving a car is the equivalent of driving a weapon, to me), so I decided to make a shawl that didn't mind being a scarf if I ran out of yarn, which is kind of what happened.

So, I started with the Sarah Blanch Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls as my basic pattern:

And, I began striping with at least 10 different partial skeins of Kersti, using one greenish skein throughout the pinks:


I am pleased with the results.

I had never experimented with Kersti, had not heard very positive things about it, and had actually never seen a completed garment in this very soft, brightly colored merino. But, I'm happy, and I would knit in it again. It hasn't replaced the KPPPM in my heart, but what could?

Soggy Knitting

It's raining on Knitting Night. Normally, not a problem, but I've recently started a knitting "circle," at the outdoor pool club (or, the stationary, secret cruise ship located in the heart of Philadelphia) , at which I am oh so lucky enough to be a member, having signed on as a friend's nanny years ago in hopes that it would lead to a full-fledged membership, which, sigh, it did. The pool club looks like a warehouse, but it's really an outdoor pool with a snazzy upper deck with an open bar, nightly except for Monday and Wednesday -- obviously, why we chose Monday for Knitting Night, as all Knitters know, knitting and pina coladas don't mix. Don't let friends Drink and Knit! Some bemoan the horrors of drunk dialing, but the horrors of drunk knitting! You can always claim amnesia the morning after drunk dialing (unless you've left that dreaded drunk message), but drunk knitting leads to much pain and ripping.

So, because I was the lone, visible poolside knitter, I was recruited by underground poolside knitters to start a knitting circle, I think with the hopes that I would actually teach newbies to knit. I made it clear I would be happy to show up, lend assistance, help a new knitter along, but that I just wasn't cut out for actually teaching from cast-on. Our flyer went up, and we had three knitters join our little group. Interesting group, one woman actually fell asleep while in midstitch, never saw that before, but the group must have been a success because the next week we had six knitters. Six knitters, but two circles -- bizarre. We had two round tables, not quite pushed together. I was sitting at one end, with another woman. Two other women were sitting at the far side of the other table. The fifth woman came, and pulled her chair up right in the middle of the two tables, with her back to my little semi-circle, cutting the circle in half. Hm. The next poor soul was a bit confused, but grabbed a seat kind of in between. So, this was to be week three, and I had high hopes to unite the two tables, that our group might even grow to 8 or 9, and that I could inspire the group to move beyond garter stitch scarves. I did see one woman knitting furiously all week, her scarf growing and growing, as she had clearly replaced pyschotherapy with knitting -- she could probably wrap that solid brown scarf around her neck ten times. And, n0w that we're probably rained out, and I won't be able to show her how to cast off, the monsterous snake will continue to grow! Rain be damned! I must save a future Frankenstein!