Thursday, March 30, 2006

So, no stinkin' pattern was going to kick my ass. Minutes after I posted the last entry, I decided to go on the attack - damn the laceovers, man the torpedos! I shut my office door (so what it was past lunch time, so what I had a brief due - there was serious business at hand, no 10 stitch repeat was going to get the best of me, no siree Bob (whoever Bob is!)). I managed to get through 2 repeats of the pattern, not without mistakes, but without throwing off my stitch count, and sending me into another ripping tizzy. I, sigh, have moved on. The sampler scarf is not toast, it's still a bagel.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm Melting!

After the ballgame was over, and my grandfather had received his "haircut" from my brother and I, he would put on his hat, and announce that he was going to the bowling alley, and off he would go. I never asked, but it didn't make sense to me that my 75 year old grandfather was actually bowling, could he lift a bowling ball? Later, it finally hit me - my grandfather wasn't going to the bowling alley - he was going to the track. My mother told me that the hat was all part of the ritual - the lucky hat. And, if his luck went bad, he would throw the hat on floor, and buy a new hat. The hat would sometimes lie on the floor for days, until my grandmother picked it up, because there was no way he was going to touch the unlucky hat again.

And that, my friends, is how I'm feeling about my pink lace sampler scarf. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of my woeful lack of progress - the batteries are dead in my camera. But, last week, the first pattern we attempted in class came from some stupid German book with stupid patterns with stupid stitches for just plain stupid people. I have to have that attitude, because this smart person CANNOT DO THIS PATTERN!!!!! It starts on the wrong side, and has this crazy stitch that I've dubbed the Martini stitch - as it is shaken and stirred. It starts out kind of looking like a ssk, but then the stitches are then put back on the left needle, and purled through the back of the stitch. And, of course, there is patterning on both the right side and the wrong side. I got to row five in class, and I just could not get the right number of stitches on the needle, ironically following the easiest row in the pattern (in a 10 stitch repeat, 7 of the stitches are knit on row 4). So, I ripped back to the beginning, and I tried again . . . and again . . . and again. I knit without the t.v., I knit in total silence. I knit not hung over, until, sometime on Sunday, the darn thing ended up on the floor at work, and like my grandfather's hat, never to be touched again. I've tried to pick it up, but I go to pick it up, and it's like the Wicked Witch of the West and the ruby slippers - my fingers are singed, and I recoil in horror.

It's kind of like, I dated this guy for a awhile, and I knew that he had been in a movie. He told me over and over again, don't watch the movie. I didn't listen, I rented to movie. It was so bad that I could not get it out of the VCR. I don't know if it was because I was too embarrassed to return it to the video store, I was so embarrassed that I had been seen in public with it's star . . . I don't know. But, I dumped the guy, and I could not get the tape out of the VCR. Finally, my roommate had an intervention. We dropped the tape in the night box, cancelled my credit so I wouldn't be charged the late fees, and I never went back to that video store again. Extreme, I know - but I tell this story to let you know just how serious this problem is . . . I think the pink scarf is doomed . . .

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Button Button, Who's Got the Button?

Whenever I pick out buttons, I always think of my grandparents. When we were little, every Saturday, my mom would pack up my brother and I, and we would make the trek from the 'burbs to Northeast Philly to visit my grandparents. Back in those old days, my mother did not bring a trunkload of toys to entertain us with, nor was there a toy box waiting for us at the apartment. While my grandparents did have a t.v., they didn't really have any reception, and more often than not, my grandfather would be found in his rocking chair, listening to the ballgame on the radio. One source of amusement was playing barbershop, and "cutting" my bald grandfather's hair while we listened to Ritchie Ashburn call balls and strikes. Other times, I would play with the one doll I kept in the bottom drawer of my grandmother's dresser - whom I called Uncle Bessy. But, my favorite thing to do was play in the button drawer. Heaping with buttons - big buttons, little buttons, jewels, bakelite, pearls -- I don't know exactly what I did with the buttons - I certainly didn't sew, but I put them in groups, and I moved them around, and I traded them with my brother, and I played made-up games with them. I don't know what was a better treat - playing in the button drawer or the Stella Dora "S" cookie that was always on hand for a snack.

But, ya grow up, you move away, you forget about the buttons. My grandfather passed away, my grandmother eventually moved to a nursing home. In the craziness that accompanied the move to the "assisted living community," my mother gave away all of my grandmother's furniture to some Russian immigrants who came with their truck, and took it away. When she called to tell me that everything was cleaned out, I said, "Well, you saved the button drawer, right?" My memories of the buttons that were given away are probably more extravagant than the actual buttons, but to me, it was quite a loss.

Anyway, so it makes me happy to pick out buttons, and ladies and gents, it is time to pick buttons for the Sunrise - behind door No. 1 - we have long skinny pinkish buttons.

Or, the ellipse-like wooden toggles,

Or, the rather interesting shaped, I think plastic, toggles,

Your basic toothy black -

Cast your vote now! I already bought a set, but I think I've changed my mind.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Better Late than Never

March is not quite over yet, and while I'm cutting it close, better late than never - today, I managed to finally put my tax stuff in the mail to my accountant, and on Thursday, I rustled up a March Pink Project.

My March Pink Project covers many bases. First, it's the projected finished sampler scarf from my lace class at Rosie's. Second, it is my Project Spectrum Pink Thing, and Third, I'll be knitting-a-long with Theresa for Purls of Love, which distributes hand knit scarves to chemo patients. So, far, I've knit some zig zags, and some English Lace, next I'll be faggotting.

The yarn is our favorite stripper girl, Misti Alpaca, so swatching at class was a surprisingly easy knit for me - since I just knit Ene on 3's with Lady Misti. So, while I cast on without angst (unlike my normal, "I'll just hold my breath until I get gauge" cast on), I listened to one of my fellow classmates struggle along - a perfectly good knitter, but she knits in Spanish. I've never really thought about knitting in another language - cultural differences (see Jews Don't Throw from back in August (or, as Robin likes to correct me, "I didn't say Jews Don't Throw, I said, I don't throw because I'm Jewish. Yep, big difference, I know - but the record is now set straight.), I've contemplated, but I've never really thought of a different language for knitting. Knitting, to me, is a universal language. In fact, I was listening to Ann Budd on KnitCast the other day, and she was talking about how she learned to knit. Her family ended up transplanted to Switzerland for a year, and in her Swiss Miss school, boys were taught to hammer and saw, and girls were taught to knit and sew. Since classes were taught in German, the only thing she actually understood was knitting. I get that -- whenever I have a Spanish speaking only client, I absolutely need a translator. But, once, I had to interview a deaf client, who didn't know formal sign language, but kind of had a language all of his own. We drew pictures, we acted out things, we had common hand signals, common facial expressions, and I was able to get his story out of him - how he was the lookout for a burglary as opposed to the inside man -- easier than my Spanish clients, with whom I struggle to find words, or bastardized words of our intermingled languages.

So, while this Spanish knitter knew what the stitches looked like, the language - left, right v. knit, purl - all a big mystery. Hopefully, she's tackled the struggle, and her Misti is coming along fine as well.

And, in other knitting news, I've finished the left front of my Sunrise Jacket. Yes, it looks good, and in fact, it looks like a sunrise over the ocean to me, but I don't think it's actually going to work as a jacket. The fabric itself is not stiff, in fact, it's pretty floppy. Hopefully, it will be equally pretty as a baggie sweater, if not so very functional. Don't worry -- it won't become a blanket!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sunshine on the Water Makes Me Happy

Sunrise Circle has begun! Yes, I know I just cast on Beach House Kimono, and yes, I still have Lacy Cardigan on needles (and the Karabella sweater, and I'm starting a lace class tonight, and I have all but 6 inches to go on my slip stitch cardigan), but since I joined a Knit-a-Long, I feel very compelled to well, knit-a-long.

I was very worried about the pattern. Line by line, inch by inch, there's an instruction. So many potholes, so many opportunities for things to go horrible awry. But, I found this , and my concerns were alleviated when I saw several finished jackets, with very pleased, satisfied owners wearing them. The postings are curse-free, and everyone seems to be having a good knit. So, I cast on. And, where my friends, did things go awry for me? Of course - gauge.

Because I'm a remedial gaugist, I had a friend (CHRISTINA!!!!) check my gauge for me - and, even though I'm a loose knitter, she had me go up 2 needle sizes, and said, you're good to go girlfriend. I trusted her, and cast on, in my favorite, Silk Garden, of course, and began to knit. The first time (oh, yes, ripping is coming) I didn't pay any attention to how I was going to hem the thing, I just followed along, creating a turning row for sewing later. Then, about 20 rows up the sleeve, I realized I was knitting not a sleeve, but a nose warmer for an elephant. It was huge! So, out it came, and I began to swatch on my lonesome.

Like the Silk Garden Suit (and we all know what happened to that), I ended up on 3's - my gauge was close (5 to the inch), but not perfect (4.6 to the inch). This time, before blindly casting on, I considered the hem, and I thought, hem, I do not want to sew thee. So, I did a crochet cast-on, and knitted up the hem:
and once again, I traveled up the sleeve. When I finished the increasing on the sleeve the instructions said I should be at 13 inches - I was only at 9. Row gauge - uch - so off! I continued knitting, thinking I would block out the problem, by then I got to the raglan, and I pondered. With my row gauge I would be lucky to have a trapezoid, let only a nice pie shape. So with a sigh, I ripped again (not the hem, though, no need to do that again, that can just be a tad smaller), and now I'm traveling along on 5's, and things, cross your fingers, seem to be ok!

Pink Post

Almost all words do have color and
nothing is more pleasant than
to utter a pink word and see someone's
eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too”
- Gladys Taber

To me, nothing is more pleasant than to slap on a coat of pink polish, especially when it's snowing in the middle of March!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Top Down, Top Done!

Yep, I had to rip again. I really don't get people who call it "frogging." I'd never heard that oh-so-generous term until I started blogging. I assume that it comes from that frog mantra "rippit rippit," but that's something a frog croaks when it's happy, it's fed (or, during the Super Bowl, it's just had a beer), it's not a noise it makes when some brat catches it in a jar, and it's about to become a school dissection project. And, that's what this ripping was - surgery, multiple surgeries - suturing. Today's surgery, again, fixing a hemorrage.

Where was the hemorrage - need you ask? Of course, when I ripped the dress out, and started to knit down again, the goddamn stripes once again pooled at my middle - yep, typical Wendy, everything settles on the hips. Uch. So, I put the thing away for a couple of days (or else it was going to go the way of the Silk Garden Suit - when it doubt, turn it into a blanket). But, I went the less destructive route, and decided a rib would fix all -

So, once again I ripped,

And, we then offered Chesty up to the knitting gods -

And, I settled in to get the job done, once and for all!

And, voila - FOUR SWEATERS LATER - I have one completed Bobble Down Top Down~

Friday, March 10, 2006

Separated at Birth II

In the wise words of Jon Stewart:"I do have some sad news to report," Stewart said. "Bjork could not be here. She was trying on her Oscars dress and Dick Cheney shot her."

Did anyone really think that on a Knitting Circle night, when I was going to find myself in Rosie's, on the fence about a particular yarn, that I was actually going to say, Nah, I'll save some money, destash, and continue on with this color I'm not altogether fond of? Pshaw! On the way to the shop, I secretly, or not so secretly, I think when you try to keep secrets from yourself, it's called rationalizing, but I think I knew in a concrete sense that I was going to buy the Great Adirondack that had just arrived. I used the silk to make that dreaded Landscape Shawl, that I ended up gifting to my mom (who wore it to the flower show the other day. We had lunch, she handed me roses, and said, "they only cost $5.99 a dozen!"). I loved knitting with the yarn, I just didn't enjoy Landscape Shawl at all. I got sucked into it, because at that time it was like the flu - everyone at the store had it. I can't tell you why I didn't like knitting it - the picot edging, the y/o's before the markers that I kept screwing up, I don't know. I just didn't like it.

But, I really wanted to use the yarn again - so here it is, in Beach House:

And, I love the name - Beach House. I could so use a Beach right now. I put my make up on the other day, and there was a distinct difference between my face and my neck - uch! I've reached my height of pale. If hadn't just seen the horrors of self-tanning on the Oscars - JLo - the dress is stunning, but you look like you fell into a vat of bronzer, and oops, you missed a spot - like your hair line. Ah well. She should have settled for knitting with Beach House.

As I knit, I envision Beach House Kimono Shawl blowing in the breeze, and the smell of the ocean. I see Kate Winslet, on the Titanic, wrapped in Beach House Kimono Shawl (which is a much prettier vision than me at the beach, which usually involves a nasty sunburn and a case of beer). And, while I don't see mom standing on the bow of a ship, arms extended, flying, wrapped in Beach House Kimono (I don't see Leonardo with mom either), I do see her walking the decks of her next cruise (my parents are bigtime cruisers now that they're retired), completely fashionable in her cruisewear Kimono. So, even though I substituted a new yarn for the matronly yarn, I think I'm still going to gift it to mom for Mother's Day.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In the Pink

It should come as no shock to anyone that I could not stay off the Pink for long. I'm back in the pink, and it's not just the new Bobbi Brown Pink pallette for spring.

Yesterday, after I finished the blog entry about the upcoming Highland Triangle Along (because, of course, it will be all about me and my project!), I googled the Triangle to see fellow knitter's finished masterpieces. Obviously, I got a hit on WendyKnits. I also stumbled onto one of her self-styled interview Q&A's, where she recommends Kimono Shawl as a good first lace project. W--whhat??? I stammered out loud (that's ok, What????, enunciated with outrage is fairly typical in my office -- he did WHAT? he got WHAT? the judge did WHAT?).

I tried Kimono a few years ago. I used a Zephyrlike Merino Silk that I got at Stitches, and I think I was on 7's. I couldn't even get through one repeat of the 24 row pattern without a half a dozen mistakes. I said, Feh, and put it away.

But, Wendy says, "Easy and fun." Fun? Hmm . . . we'll see about that. I set out to prove her wrong.

I remembered some pink Rowan yarn I got on Ebay when I first started to knit, Rowan dk Soft, which is now discontinued. At the time, I made a pretty drop stitch scarf, but I wasn't crazy about the yarn, and the dull pink didn't do it for me. So, I abandoned the rest of it to the bottomless stash, not even placing it in a queue position. Eh, I'll cast on with this yarn, I thought, because it won't be easy, and it won't be fun, and I'm just going to rip it out, and I'd rather screw around with crap than waste "real" yarn (real = likely to become something).

And low and behold, it was easy, and I'm on the fence about fun -

What's the difference? Am I that better of a knitter three years later? Well, probably yes. But, the real difference is, this time around, I'm reading the chart instead of the written out directions. I always poo poo'd people who said charts would change my life - but now, I've been born again - I see the light. The chart is where it's at. And, the markers!! As I mentioned below - Fast and Wrong is my game - and the markers are really a guidepost. For those of you who know me, you know that I don't drive. That's because I'm an incredibly bad driver, and I've retired myself from the road. Driving a car to me is like driving a weapon, and the world is a much safer place without me on the road. One of my problems was that I liked to drive fast -- but driving fast, I tend to miss turn-offs, along with traffic lights and stop signs. I knit very much the same way, and these markers - oy!, I just cannot say enough about the markers - other than, why didn't I try that before, duh.

Now to the serious business - the fun part. I still don't love the yarn, and 25 repeats is a big (huge) commitment. So, do I say, yep, this was excellent practice, and cast on in the real deal, or do I finish this, and probably gift it. Dunno.

And, by the way - Dolly must have heard about project spectrum - because that could be the only reason for this disaster of a dress!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sometimes, you don't need to throw stripes around you midline to give yourself a beer gut. Just throw on some shredded newspaper, and a drop waste reminiscent of the '80's belted sweater a la Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu, and even an 80 lbs girl can look like she threw back one too many Guinness.

My vote for Worst Dressed at the Oscars (and no, I'm not forgetting about Charlize Theron - that wouldn't be the Worst Dressed Award - that would be the I'm So Stoned this Bow Looked Smaller award).

She would have looked better in Top Down Bobble Dress.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dress Down, Crash Down

I like to think of myself as fashion savy. I read Vogue, In Style. I watch the Style Network. I'm never without a lipstick. In the world of public defenders, where the standard shoe wear is Berkenstocks, my budget friendly clothes are definitely fashion forward. But, frankly, this Top Down is shaking my confidence. First, I got myself ready for clown college, and now this. Can anyone explain to me WHAT I WAS THINKING?????
WHAT WAS I THINKING PUTTING STRIPES ACROSS MY BEER GUT AND MY BUTT? Sausage may be tasty, but sausage casing is not a fashion statement. Or, I take that back, it's a statement alright - A BAD STATEMENT
I am just so disappointed in myself. I picked the yarn, the color. The problem should have been predictable. But, I plowed ahead -- and the resulting crop circles are not the result of aliens, oh, no, those enormous landing strips across my stomach and my ass are my own doing!

So, I ran to the ballwinder. Out out damn spot! I ripped - and, living up to my mother's nickname for me (not "take me buy me bring me get me"), FAST AND WRONG - I tangled up the ballwinder, and nearly took the table down trying to untangle it. Grace to the rescue! And you know what, this ripping, wasn't like breaking up with a boyfriend - like the ruffle - this ripping was as if Frankenstein took over my body - I'M MAKING A MONSTER! A striped, body stocking monster! See that wild look in my eye! This project is driving me mad, I say!
And, here it, is, back to that oh familiar spot! Can I leave it this way? Bring the belly shirt back? Can this be turned into a shrug?
Sigh, but, believe it or not, Saturday's class is not all about me, and we were there for serious business - steeking, and Grace showed us how -
I, of course, bring it all back to me - and I had visions of taking a scissors to my top down - no steeking involved of course, just shredding.

And, while none of us walked out with a finished top down, we all have a roadmap, and a knitter's bible. I, of course, forgot to bring mine to class - mad scientist abandons pattern, all hell breaks loose!

But here is Cecelia's And Merrill's
And, let's all give Merrill a hand, she may not have garnered a gold medal, but she did remain faithful to one project, and her top down is well on it's way:

And, what's next for the Top Downers, although I'm starting to think that I'm a Sundowner -one of those people who loses their mind as the day grows long and dark. And the envelope is . . . starting April 1st (appropriate, April Fool's Day), through 4 Saturdays in April, Grace will be leading the way for a Shawl Along Class. Pick any Shawl in Folk Shawls, and knit-a-long. I'm picking the Highland Triangle, and I'm going to do it in Green - because I have visions of peatmoss, and Wuthering Heights:
Merrill, who is going to do the same shawl, has a different vision:
Anyone who's interested, just give Loop a call, and sign up.

And, after strong arming Grace into teaching another class, was I done yet? After ripping out my dress and nearly taking out the ball winder, was I done yet? Oh, no, I had to take out the store - I was a knitting terrorist. I grabbed my coat, and knocked over the coat rack, taking all of the needles down with me. I may not now how to make an entrance, but I sure know how to make an exit. Needless to say, Grace was so not unhappy to see my back walking out the door that day, and I'm sure she's looking forward to April!

Friday, March 03, 2006

So, Lolly's Project Spectrum is well underway. I had every intention of casting on my pink project, picked out months ago, and waiting in my extremely organized sweater bag, in line in the queue.

But, you know what, I'm not feeling pink. I'm off the pink.

But, red on the other hand . . .

I'm reading this book right now, the Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman. The main character is a lightning strike survivor(among other very complicated, screwed up things), and as a result of the strike, she loses the ability to see the color red --"I didn't say a word when I noticed the Jello I was being offered was the color of stones. The nurse herself, not more than twenty-five, appeared to have long white hair. The flowers my brother and his wife had brought me seemed dusted with snow. I understood then. I had completely lost the color red. Whatever had once been red was now cloudy and pale. All I saw was ice; all I felt was the cold of my own ruined self . . . why the absence of a color would affect me so deeply I had no idea, but I suddenly felt bereft. I had lost something before I'd known its worth, and now it was too late."

While attending support group meetings as part of lightning strike study, she learns of another strike survivor, who was actually dead and transported to the morgue. Drawn to him, she buys a dress, and seeks him out at his orange orchard. The organges hang from the trees, like snowballs, and she waits on his front steps, wearing what she thinks is a white dress. He tells her later, he may never have opened the door but for the red dress . . .

As she begins to heal, red returns, "On the way to my brother's house I saw flashes of red everywhere. I suppose I was recovering. Or maybe I was hallucinating, imagining what I wanted most to see. The sign on the mini mart flashed so deeply crimson it took my breath away. Had such ridiculous things been beautiful before and I simply hadn't noticed? I stopped, pulled into the lot, went inside the market, to the fruit aisle. Wrapped lettuce, cucumbers, peaches, lemons, and then, at last, a single pale apple, blushed on one side as if filled with life, with blood. I bought the apple and ate it in my car. It was delicious, all the more so because of its color."

I've been very affected by these passages (of course, that could be because I read right before I go to bed, following a couple of glasses of white wine . . .). As I've written before, I'm always struck how a life can be changed in a second, a heartbeat -- a missed field goal, a moment of bad judgment, or with one foreperson, rising, and uttering a verdict that will inevitably, change lives, and now, by a color . . . if she hadn't worn the red dress, he would not have opened the door . . .

So, I haven't picked a red project - I don't know if a red project is going to strike me (especially since I'm half way down my thigh with top down, and I have a grey project lined up to go on needles, and a blocked what I have of lacy cardigan to make sure it's going to fit . . . ), but I am going to devote March to being aware of red . . . and knowing it's worth before it's too late.