30 June 2006

Amazing Lace Challenge #3: A Poem

The Summer Sestina: Or, Swearing on my Christmas Stole

Tis on this day I begin my latest challenge.
I was looking for some blog activities to enhance my summer
and stumbled upon mention of
The Amazing Lace.
“Aha!” I thought. “Perfect way to make myself finish off that Christmas stole.
I’ll get out my needles and sit down to knit.
I’ll think of pics to take and things to write with every purl.”

Knit and purl, I did, and purl and purl and purl,
projects growing with each row, but finding each a challenge.
My mind started wandering to new things to knit,
planning away the hours of endless summer.
Yes, you guessed it, I abandoned yet again the Christmas stole
for newer, fancier sweaters, socks and shawls, all lace, lace, lace.

Oh wait, I gasped, there’s that blog thing, The Amazing Lace.
The first task is an
introduction, gotta be a pearl.
Arrange the photo shoot, get out the Christmas stole.
This is fun, glad I took the challenge.
I can do this, will finish before the end of summer.
It’s so nice right now, just sit outside and knit.

Knit I did, yes sirree, but on what project did I knit?
Was it a sweater, scarf or socks? Was it even lace?
The heat baked my brain, oh yes, it was summer.
Here a project, there a project, try a new combination of knit and purl.
Keeping my focus, that’s always a challenge.
Hours needed for this and that, from the UFO at hand, I stole.

I need those needles, the ones in a project. Sorry, Christmas stole.
There’s a sweater to be knit,
it’s the perfect challenge.
It will make up for that
sweater I destroyed, the one of lace.
I couldn’t remember what needles to use, when to knit and purl,
so I ripped her out for all my neighbors to see as they enjoyed their night of summer.

Oh my, where has the time gone? It’s almost the middle of summer!
There it sits, patiently waiting, unfinished yet, the Christmas stole.
Here I sit, at the computer type, type, type instead of purl, knit, purl, knit, purl.
But after this poem is published, I’ve time to knit.
Isn’t that the purpose, after all, of the Amazing Lace?
Have some fun, be creative, and enjoy each challenge!

I wonder, though, what I should I knit to be ready for the next challenge.
Maybe I should return to a WIP, was I on a knit or purl? Oh my, I swear, by the end of summer,
I will be finished with that Christmas stole. We’ve months to go, after all, in The Amazing Lace.

Leslie and the Airport... A Tale of Woe

You would think I’d learn my lesson about travel and just stay put. Or maybe just walk everywhere… Or maybe a buggy… I bet I could handle a buggy. But this airplane thing, it seems the Fates are against me and my ever-present wanderlust.

Perhaps you saw that last post, where I was heading to Missouri? All a ruse, a mere pipe dream of hours in the pool with homemade ice cream…

Yes, don’t we all need a good Leslie travel debacle story to give us a chuckle? Perhaps I’ll start a book of travel tales. Perhaps they’ll be the next Sherlock Holmes stories, written by someone who just wants things to go swimmingly so he can attend to important matters (like talking with the dead and taking pictures of fairies in their natural habitats)*, yet the public demands more stories. Not that you, my friends and fellow knitters, demand more tales of horror travel. You’re not that cruel. I’m assuming it’s the Fates reading this blog. “He, he,” they laugh. “She’s been way too jolly with that knitting nonsense of late. Let’s get her! We want airport farce. Oh, she’s packing. Sit back and laugh when the story comes.”

Yesterday morning at the entirely uncivilized hour of 3.30 a.m., I yank myself from the covers and struggle into the bathroom after only three hours of fitful sleep. You’d think that by now, I could pack a suitcase with nary a thought but no, I wait until the last minute and then debate over every article of clothing. But I’ll sleep on the plane, I think in all my delusional innocence. Despite the hour, the morning goes smoothly… too smoothly. The last bits of laundry are tossed into my bag, the bathroom articles dried after the shower, and I’m actually waiting on the porch fifteen minutes ahead of my 5 a.m. cab. It’s very dark, quiet and peaceful on my street that early. I relaxed and thought this was a good sign, a refreshing start to what I hoped would be a refreshing weekend away.

Even my cab driver remarked about how peaceful it was that morning as the sun was starting to come up. “You’ll have a nice day for travel. Not a storm in sight.”

“Well,” I replied in my usual pessimism, “I’m sure if there’s a storm I’ll find it. I have a travel curse. I try not to get too optimistic about actually getting to my destination on time and in one piece.”

“But this will be your lucky day,” he smiled in return. “You’ll break the curse.”

Boy, was he wrong.

At 5.30 a.m., the airport was already a madhouse. There was a line for curbside check-in, but it was shorter than the inside line so I gave it a go. Better to breathe the exhaust fumes for a bit and get a few minutes of outside air before the stale airport environment. Dave, the friendly porter, took my ID and started punching in my information, getting increasingly more frustrated as he worked. “Honey, you’re not in my system. Here, come around the look at the screen.” He probably shouldn’t have done that, but he wanted me to see that I was, in fact, missing. “Go inside to the first class line and tell them that Dave sent you because he couldn’t find you.”

Not a good sign.

I wheeled in behind an uppity woman who was waiting for her husband who was out parking the Saab and patiently waited. I’ve always wanted to be in the first class line, but not because Dave sent me. The man took my ID, started punching in my info, and telling me that I wasn’t in the system. I started getting frustrated. “I know this is my flight. I wrote it down. See?” As if my chicken scratches on an old notepad were going to get me on the plane. “Where can I get to the internet to check my email?” The first time I’ve tried to fly without printing my itinerary and of course, it’s the first time I actually needed it.

“I don’t know, miss. You’re not in the system. That’s all I know.”

Oh the helpfulness of airport employees…

Finally, I found an airline with no early morning flights and therefore, two smiling employees chit chatting and laughing at their fellow ticket counter workers facing lines that snaked all the way to the door. I just needed to check my email and get this all straightened out. “Well, the only place to get to an internet machine is past security, which won’t help you. I’d let you use my laptop and get on wireless, but I didn’t bring it today. I’ll give you the 1-800 numbers of the airlines if that will help.”

After a little digging through his computer system, he came up with the number for Expedia and the two airlines where I was supposed to have reservations. (Yes, just to give me an extra challenge, Expedia had put me on a different airline for the outgoing and return flights.) Of course, just to prove what a glorious day it was going to be, I get the one person at the call center that I can’t understand… and that frustrated me as much as the whole not-in-the-system debacle. I always try very hard to avoid the stereotype of the “ugly American” who refuses to listen to any accent, point of view, lifestyle but my own. But the stress and the lack of sleep and caffeine had shut off my brain entirely. I couldn’t understand her accent. I cringed as I had to say, “I don’t understand you. What should I do?”

Just to get me off the line, she told me to go to Delta. I go to Delta. The very upset woman there tells me to go to U.S. Airway, the place I started my airport adventure. Oh, the circle is complete. I refuse to start over so I pick up the Delta phone and try to talk to someone there, hoping they will find me “in the system.” After many tense moments of trying to explain my situation and knowing that I’ll never make the 6.30 flight I thought I should be on, I finally am found “in the system.”

“Okay, miss, it looks like you missed your flight.”
“Well, yes, I think I will. There’s no way I’m going to make it through that line now.”

“No, your flight was yesterday.”

Huh… what?

Seems that I’m in need of more caffeine and sleep than I even knew. Yes, I booked a trip home, but I booked it for the wrong day.

“Okay, so can I get to Kansas City today?”

“Well, I doubt it, but I’ll check. You know this will cost you.”

My stomach churned and my head started pounding. “Check for empty seats, but tell me how much it’ll be before you book anything.”

“I can get you on standby for a flight tomorrow… for $850.”

Gulp. Yeah, not gonna work. She started asked questions in airport code, the kind where if you say yes or no, they’re going to do some computer magic and you’re going to sign over your first born or get shipped to Egypt without even realizing it. At one point, I laid it all on the line. “Look, speak to me with plain words, not airline speak. Let’s just assume I’m the stupidest person you’ve ever talked to. Use small words and speak slowly and loudly. I’m stuck in the airport with no sleep or caffeine. I just realized that I screwed up royally and am going to miss out on a weekend at the pool. What are my options? Even better, what should I do?”

I’m still not really sure what happened at that point, but she gave me a whole string of numbers and I think that if I book with Delta in the next year I can get part of my ticket value. I think.

So I called home to let mom know she didn’t need to drive to the airport. Later, I realized that I called her hours before she needed to be awake, let alone leave home. Oops, sorry. I trudged back to the line of taxis, the only arrival that early in the morning. And wouldn’t you know the same driver that had picked me up an hour before was at the front of the line. “I’m back. Told you I have the worst flying luck.”

“What happened? Shouldn’t you be on a plane, enjoying the calm weather and easy flying?”

“Yeah, I should, but I’m not. Remember my address?”

I couldn’t confess to him that I screwed up so I mumbled something about someone else getting my reservation wrong. Dejected and embarrassed, I crawled back into bed immediately upon returning home… and I didn’t wake up until noon.

So, kids, the lessons of this story…

1. Never travel with Leslie. She’s cursed.

2. Never let Leslie make airline reservations. She’s cursed at that too.

3. Never let Leslie borrow your buggy. She only thinks that it will be a superior form of travel. She’ll be cursed at that too. And with a buggy, the curse will probably affect the horses. It could get very messy.

The only good part of this little tale… Yarn Kitty, I had a perfect opportunity to test out the stress relieving qualities of the aromatherapy bath salts, scrubbing lotion and cool washcloths. They work. They work especially well if you add a good strong drink.

Pics of my latest package to come soon… after I unpack and find my camera again.

*That Doc Doyle was quite something. Of course anyone who makes a violin-playing cocaine-addict into the world’s greatest detective has to be on the “creative” side. The fairy pics are actually pretty cool, if you’re into that sort of thing.

28 June 2006

R & R

I'm off to Missouri for a few days at the pool. If you need me, I'll be knitting with my new cotton yarn from my secret pal. Yarn Kitty, you're good... very good. I've printed out the Shedir pattern a few times and debated giving it a whirl. The dpns are packed and I may be trying to do cabling on a plane at 6.30 a.m. Yeah, I already feel sorry for the guy sitting next to me.

The birthday was great. Pics to come. No, Bert, not that pic... :P

27 June 2006

A Big One

3..0.. *gulp*

For anyone keeping track, no, I didn't even come close to making my goal of the 20 Things to Do in my Twenties list... oops. I've started a new one... 30 Things for 30. I'm going to keep it simpler. What with age and all, it may be a challenge to take my walker and grey hair to the grocery store now.

I've also got another of those oh-so-boring-to-everyone-else introspective posts that's simmering, waiting to be polished off and published. Eh, I'll get to it before I'm 40. That is unless my Alzheimer's kicks in and I forget.

What I won't forget is to thank all of you for your birthday well wishes. It was nice to hear from you again, Yarn Kitty, and for those of you more local, see you at the bar. I'll be the one avoiding the birthday tiara like it's the plague.

25 June 2006

One Year

I recently passed my one year blogiversary. Of course I missed the big day (just keeping up my role in the universal… to be perpetually late…), but it’s still close enough to mark off the event. And of course how does any introspective, naval-gazer mark off important events? With personal writing that you, my three readers, have to sit through. Gee, how fun for us all, right? How has blogging changed my life? (Not to be melodramatic or anything there…) What have I accomplished by blogging? What have I learned? What have I enjoyed? What will keep me doing this for another year?

I’ve tried to explain the blogging concept to many a friend and while I think it sounds gloriously fun, I get the feeling that most walk away thinking I’ve gone off the deep end with this knitting thing. Granted, this is true, but still, one must ask the question, why blog, when you could be knitting?

As far as the actual outcomes of blogging, it’s been good for my finishing motivation, which is sometimes woefully lacking. There’s a bit of excitement when I get to post about a finished object which propels me to zip through the boring bits. And then there’s the sense of community that many bloggers have written about. Of course there’s the housekeeping part of it which appeals to my inner organizing guru. As you saw in my Amazing Lace challenge, I have a tendency to forget to write things down… like what needle size I’m using when I rip the set out to start on another project. Oops.

But the greatest personal reward in blogging has been in developing my sense of creativity and a validation for the work that I do. No, I’m never going to design the hottest new project or knit the object which causes jaws to drop on keyboards everywhere, but I’ve been truly inspired to do what I love to do… create beauty where I can. Yes, my knitting is probably more “craft” than “art,” but by always looking for the next picture for the blog, I’m noticing beauty in unexpected places. I’ve always been one to notice beauty, but by blogging it, at even just thinking that something would be great blog material, I’ve made myself look a little closer at my world. And not just look, actually get my hiney up to grab the camera. Somehow if you pose a scarf on your porch ledge and take a whole slew of pictures of it, it becomes more than just the product of a hobby. While my pictures aren’t design magazine quality, the challenge in coming up with a decent shot forces me to stop and think about the details, the colors, the textures of what I’ve made. Blogging seems to give worth where I too easily dismiss my interests as mere procrastination.

The payoff for this elevation of my hobby, at least in my own eyes, is that I’ve really gotten back to thinking about what is important to me. Sometimes I feel so small in the face of the problems of my life or the greater problems of the world, I feel like one little person with her nose in a book probably makes no difference at all.

If I had to describe my personal philosophy, it would be that oft-cited passage from the end of Middlemarch:

But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculaby diffusive: for the growing good of the world is not so ill with you or me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

I’m still pretty sure that my knitting doesn’t really improve the world, but the point of including this philosophy here is that it’s all about the small, the local, the insignificant. I don’t want to be the next famous knit designer or blogger. I’m perfectly comfortable looking at a pattern in a magazine, making a few adjustments to suit my taste, yarn budget and knitting expertise and knitting for pleasure, following the directions while I enjoy the sunshine on my back porch. I’ve written about this before, but this year has really been about accepting being average (or wherever I happen to be the continuum of knitting, running, writing, and so on) and realizing that I’m happy there.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that I can be a bit of a stressball. Really, can’t imagine that to be true, but I suppose the clenched fists and teeth grinding have to come from somewhere. I may just be a wee bit susceptible to the pressures of work, work, work and those pressures don’t make for a very happy camper. I sometimes look at the blogs and get angry. “How do they have time to do all these great things? Why can’t I be crafty and fun? It’s not fair! Why can’t I be as talented as they are?” And then I write a post. No, I’m not knitting as much as the superstars nor am I throwing out super impressive projects, but I am knitting. Creating beauty is a priority for me, maybe even a greater one than being successful in the traditional sense of career, esteem and monetary gain. Blogging is my little chance to celebrate the silly things that make me smile. The pleasures of merino wool… funky fabric colors… the thrill of a project that works… the comedy of a failed project… It’s a reminder that I am taking what I have in terms of time, resources and talent and making the most of it.

Sure, blogging occasionally brings out the competitive side in me, wanting to post a picture that others will appreciate. My competitive side is rarely about other knitters, but about the ideal that I often see on the blogs and wanting to push myself to be better. Yet as I’ve been growing more comfortable with my own limitations, I’m also more comfortable with my blog being just so-so, something that I want to work on and improve, but also something that is just fine not being perfect. I don’t have time to knit every pattern out there or try every yarn. That’s fine. I have a lot of written and photographic proof that the past year I’ve done a lot of pleasurable crafting. Maybe my life will never be Martha Stewart perfect, but sometimes within the frame of my blog picture, I can aspire to a few square inches of charming beauty.

Anyway, it’s been a good year. Happy blogging to all and to all another year!

20 June 2006

Look, Ma! ReinYARNation

Yes, yes, bad, bad pun... but the yarn, it's alive again!

Is it mere coincidence that I'm currently writing about Vanity Fair's Becky Sharp who may have axed off her lover for his insurance money and my last post created rumors that I'm a yarn murderess? They always say you have to watch the quiet ones. And those Victorians... whoever fooled people into thinking they were all sunshine and lace turned a rather scandalous group into a bunch of ho-hums and did us all a big disservice.

Anyway, the yarn corpse of this past weekend has been re-born and the lace knitting has resumed. I'm not so sure the yarn has made peace with this identity yet, but I've decided to give the Knit 'n Style sweater a whirl. I'm leaving off the bobbles in the middle of the cables because, um, ick and with the two cables running up the middle of her "girls," the bobbles sorta give the sweater the nipply effect, no? Guess the holes in the lace make the poor girl a little chilly.

So, my inch and half up top there are my new start. You knit the bottom band and then pick up for the front and back. Let's see, my hip size, minus the inch and a half already completed, I'll wear this one in about 20 years.

18 June 2006

The X-Treme Yarnover

Amazing Lace Challenge #2: X-Treme Knitting

Warning: This is a tale of X-treme horror and mental anguish. Read with care.

Somewhere on a quiet street, a peaceful Sunday afternoon is disturbed by the unmistakable roar of sirens and the flash of lights.

Neighbors peek around the bushes and gasp at the horror unfolding.

“Goodbye, cruel world!”

Somewhere a knitter screams. “No, Lacy Sweater, no. Please don’t jump. Yarnover is just a stitch. It doesn’t literally mean you have to take the plunge. Please, it will all get better. I promise. Life is worth living. You have to fulfill your sweater destiny. You have so much to live for!”

“Oh, you silly woman. How dare you call yourself a knitter! Do you know how it feels to be abandoned? To sit lonely waiting in a basket for over a year? How can you talk of my bright and happy future when you don’t even know what size needles you used on me?”

“But, Lacy Sweater, we’re a team! What will the other Amazing Lacers think when I have to confess that I’ve lost you!”

“Ma’am, maybe it’s best if I step in. My name is Sergeant Stash McKnittin. I’m a trained expert at talking suicidal WIPs down from the ledge. Can you tell me a little bit about our distressed sweater here? Does she have a family history of frogging? Why might she wish to end it all? What has been going on in her life lately?”

“Well, Sergeant, she had a rocky beginning, but I thought she overcame all of that. We’ve had some questions about her parentage, but I told her that I didn’t care about having a distinguished pedigree. She started her life looking like a cute wrap bolero from Vogue Knitting, the Spring/Summer 2005 issue. I was impressed by her fashion sense and connection to the designers. When we met, I was intimidated by her complexity and trendiness, to be honest.

Turns out she had some body image issues, but don’t we all? I mean, I know I’m always bigger than those Vogue models, so I didn’t worry when she was several inches too wide. Sure, those other projects picked on her while she was growing up and out, but we spent so much time in therapy. I thought she was happy about accepting herself and moving on to look more like a lacy sweater from the June 2005 issue of Knit ‘N Style. I mean, just because no one pays much attention to this magazine and we all love to peruse Vogue for both the latest, greatest doodad and the biggest fug ever, well, sometimes the unfamiliar is okay. No, that future wasn’t going to be as glamorous, but I assured her that I’d actually love her more if we could just be comfortable together. I thought we’d compromised by using the lace pattern from the Vogue sweater she really wanted to be and the schematics from the Knit ‘N Style sweater she was meant to be. Oh, this has to be my fault!”

“Ma’am, your fault? What do you mean? It sounds like you were dealing with a very confused little knitting project.”

“Well, see, that’s just it. She was confused, but I was even more confused. I’ve never really had such a complex relationship. Sure, I’ve spent some pretty wild times with some challenging pieces of yarn, but I’m a good stockinette kind of girl at heart. I took notes and did lots of math, but I guess it just wasn’t enough.”

“Hey there, you two. Over here. You know, the suicidal lace project? Maybe you should pay some attention to me. Isn’t this just typical? I’m the one getting ready to jump and you’re the one doing all the yammering!”

“Oh, Lacy Sweater, don’t say that. I’m trying, really I am. I love you. I want to be with you.”

“Don’t make me laugh. Sure, you did some math and pretended to be interested, but you’re just a tease. Yes, you put me in a fancy basket, but this home is nothing more than a glorified coffin! Do you know what it’s like to watch the one who is supposed to love you and help you grow turn her attention to others? Every day you’d either bring new yarn into our house or you’d pick up another project. You’d flaunt your floozy status around like it was a good thing. And that blog! You’d even celebrate your infidelity. You should be ashamed of how you treated me. Can’t even be bothered to keep your fingers faithful!”

“But Lacy Sweater, I’ve returned. I won’t stray again, I promise. I want to finish you. I need you!”

“You’re just saying that because you need me for your little Amazing Lace shindig. Look at me. You even took out my needles so you could go have a fling with something else!”

Sergeant McKnittin couldn’t take it any more. “Now, Lacy Sweater. All of that may be true, but there’s still hope. We can enroll you two in counseling. Or maybe you’ll have a better life if you find another knitter who can love you the way you deserve to be loved. I think you’re very pretty. Maybe if you just come down off that ledge, we can talk about this over coffee. Maybe I’ve got some needles that will fit you.”

“Oh, you knitters, you’re all the same. Promises, promises. I’ve had it. Let my death be a lesson to you all. Abandon your projects and we’ll suffer. We’re not just going to wait faithfully for you harlots any more. Just because one of your fearless leaders gets book deals and adoration from all of you by calling herself a harlot, don’t think that this kind of carefree lifestyle comes without consequences. Feelings get hurt. Sometimes sweaters just can’t take it any more!”

Shocked and horrified, the neighborhood let out a cry of desperation as the poor, sad sweater flew through the air. Within minutes, all that remained was a grisly scene of yarn carnage.

Our poor lace knitter screamed and ran to what remained of her former partner. “Sergeant McKnittin, I thought you said you were good at saving projects on the edge. You made her jump!”

“Ma’am, with all due respect, sometimes the best thing to do is frog it. Sometimes these misguided projects get too confused with their muddled family trees and lack of direction. No amount of math in the world can save them.”

“That’s a rather X-TREME position to take, don’t you think?”

“Well now, that’s not my fault. Didn’t the knitting gods warn you about this being an X-TREME hobby when you first took up your needles? Sure, you may think it’s all sunshine and innocence here, but knitters have been floozies for years. All that flitting back and forth between projects has made for many a jilted lover. Besides, look at it this way, for every project that goes over the edge, you get a pile of yarn and we all know what a pile of yarn means.”

“Ooooh, I could start a new project! Oh, she’ll be quite a beauty. It’ll be the sexiest lacy sweater ever. I can’t wait!”

As the knitter started her swatching, a sigh was heard emanating from her apartment. All the newly abandoned projects felt another slight as her eyes and fingers wandered away from them. They all felt themselves pushed just another inch closer to the edge and each wondered who would be the next to experience their own version of an X-TREME YARNOVER.

13 June 2006

Staving Off Winter

Since I know all of Buffalo is dependent on my knitting to keep off the chill, I managed to finish a scarf recently. You know the drill, work on a cold weather item in the middle of a heatwave just to be prepared. Really, the weather of the world depends on knitters being decidedly out of sync with our environment. I mean, shoot, if we did things on time all hell could break loose! Well, maybe that's just if I managed to do things on time... See, my tardiness is keeping everything on kilter. That's why you get Christmas presents in July. (Ahem, not that I owe my aunt a holiday gift or anything...)

Pattern: Beaded Scarf from Elmwood Yarn Shop
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 color 19; 4 1/2 skeins (The top picture is probably closest to the true color, although it is maybe a bit darker... a very gorgeous shade of deep plum.)
Beads: Clear glass with color painted on the insides, from the LYS Needles: Addis 8
Date Started: Um, a long time ago... fall *cough, cough* 2003
Date Finished: June 2006... talk about the world's slowest knitter
Recipient: Me, me, me
Notes: Love, love, love the yarn. With the Addis, it was the poverbial "like knitting with buttah." Of course, I had to make the pattern a bit more fiddly by doing the lines of beads the entire length of the scarf and adding an extra skein and a half to the pattern, just to keep it challenging. Granted, this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do as those little suckers are going to be cold against my neck this winter. Yes, practicality, you are a stranger to me.

This was my first knitting with beads experience and the jury is still out. I used the technique where you string all the beads onto your yarn and then fight, push, curse, tease and growl the little suckers down the skein as you knit. Knit, knit, knit... damn, hit the beads... push, push, push... knit, knit, knit... damn, again... To place the beads, I slipped the stitch purlwise with the yarn in front, pushing the bead into the little cradle made by the slipped stitch. (For whatever value my little knitting techniques are worth...) I enjoyed doing this when on the beaded sections at each end, but it made for some slow progress in the center section. I could easily see knitting this one again, but I think the beads just on the ends and maybe a little bit of striping above the chart pattern but would be enough.

But the most important thing... finished project! Checking 'em off little by little. I think this means that the yarn diet is actually working if I'm returning to old projects. Although, I may have cast on my Trekking socks yesterday... I'm reforming, but I still like a new project now and then.

Oh, and I just passed my one-year blogiversary. I've started a post about it, but as with most things around here, just not finished on time. Like I said, reform is a very, very slow and inconsistent process.

07 June 2006

Being Humble

I'm not going to brag and say that my Secret Pal is better than other secret pals, but Yarn Kitty, you rock. I've been enjoying all your comments and do look forward to chatting sometime as I'd like to hear more about your knitting projects and life outside of knitting (I know, sometimes I forget there's life outside of knitting...). Oh, and I've already got a question for you, see below.

Anyway, so today I get home from a long day of editing photos at the office and was greeted by a FedEx box. Woo hoo! I'm not sure if this was planned, but this was literally what the corner looked like. What a tease... two inches of yarn sticking out as if I wasn't going to tear into that sucker immediately!

This picture isn't the clearest, but she made this great little amulet bag out of Trekking and included two sets of stitch markers. I've already put them to use since I was just getting ready to start a row that needed marking. (Yes, another new project; I've had castonitis. I'll try to get a better pic of the markers when I start writing about that sweater.) I'm not sure if she made the little book, but someone did and it's great. Sometimes I get handmade things like this and I never use them because I want to keep them "special." Well, I've already decided this is going to be my sock journal where I can start keeping track of the patterns I've used and the variations, needles, etc. And to get started with another sock project, she got me Trekking #135! I tried to get a good picture of the color but tonight was not a friendly night with my camera. It's very bright and summery, perfect to start hiking with.

She included some yummy candy and a card with a great line: "When Bernie asked Madge what sort of books she was interested in, she told him checkbooks." I like Madge! After some time with my library stash today, I really think she has the right idea.

So, thank you, Yarn Kitty. I can't wait to finish off the sock on my needles and get started. Here's the question since it looks like you've knit with Trekking before. I've read that it has a slightly bigger gauge than many sock yarns. What needles did you use? How many cast-on stitches? I've been using the magic loop method on Addi #1s and casting on anywhere from 56-64 stitches depending on the yarn. Might have to do some experimenting and keep track of my trials and tribulations in my snazzy new sock journal.

04 June 2006

Amazing Lace Intro: With Kicky Music

Well, Amazing Lacers, let's meet our next team! This group tells me they've choreographed a little intro song for us today. How, um, cheerful!

Here's the story,
Of a lovely knitter,
Who was busy with a very d’manding life.
All of it took her away, from her knitting,
‘Til the Amazing Lace started.

Here's the story,
Of some lace named Stole-y,
Who was waiting with three other projects.
They were four WIPs,
Living all together, but they were all alone-.

Till the one day when the knitter got her needles,
and they knew it was much more than a hunch.
That this group,
Must somehow form a family.
That's the way we all became the Lacey Bunch,
The Lacey Bunch- the Lacey Bunch
That's the way- we became the Lacey Bunch.


The Knitter: Slightly neurotic young lady livin’ it up as a grad student in Buffalo, NY

Her Life:

The Job that Pays the Bills: Read, write, edit… repeat

The “To-Do” List: hit the gym, clean the house, pay the bills, cook the dinner, call friends

The Diss: Novels, novels, and more novels…

Stoley: An overdue Christmas present of the Knitter’s own design

The WIPs:

The Sweater: The Knitter’s attempt at designing a sweater… fussy, fiddly, and not likely to fit, but she sure is pretty

Ene’s Scarf from Scarf Style
: Dependable, predictable and sturdy, but always overlooked for the latest fad

Opera Scarf: The wee little project that’s been waiting in the wings for many a month, patiently hoping for her turn in the spotlight

Well, they may not be the Partridge Family, but they've got some kick! Good luck in the race. And remember, if you get into trouble, just call on Alice!

02 June 2006

And Then There Were Three...

I cracked a drinking glass today while washing dishes. When added to the recent demise of my blender, seems my kitchen is a dangerous place to try to live out your life in peace and harmony. With this loss, my current glass count is down to three. Three, odd, lonely pieces of utilitarian life…

As I was tossing the glass, I remembered where I bought it… Bunceton rummage sales, summer ’98. Bunceton is one of those (mostly trashy) little towns with no stop light and more cows and mangy dogs than people. But darn, they used to put out the goodies at their annual town rummage sale, and true to form, my family was there to claim it all. In fact, I could probably still identify which house belonged to the little old lady who always sold hand-woven placemats (I have a set in yellow and blue) and the house where I bought a living room set whose loveseat is still kicking it here in Buffalo. The summer I moved into my first off-campus apartment I scrounged and bargained my way into grown-up living, a quarter here, fifty cents there. I’m pretty sure my set of eight glasses was a whole dollar, maybe even two.

At the time, I had no idea that those glasses and the grungy loveseat would make it through five moves and eight years of my life.

I’ve heard two schools of thought on shopping. The proponents of investment buying tell you to consider the life expectancy of your desired object and buy the nicest object that you can afford, be it a piece of furniture or a pair of jeans. Quality will last the tests of time so you’ll buy fewer objects in the long run. The other side, which may be called the disposable goods crowd, tells you to spend only what you need to get by for now. I do this with my summer tank top shopping. I find a four for $10 sale at Old Navy or Forever 21, wear the things for a few months and then find the nearest trash can come fall.

While washing the rest of the non-broken (yet) dishes, I started thinking about which of these schools of thought I employ more often. What items do I consider investments and where do I skimp? The trick in all of this seems to be determining the life expectancy of objects. I know I’m a hoarder so life expectancy around these parts tends to be a little longer than it should (yes, I’m still proudly sporting t-shirts from high school). But, I also make less than the average American household so I have a need for budgeting the pennies. Disposable is always less at the outset.

In this week’s Target run, I purchased a few items for my summer back porch living. Now Target tends to be hip and trendy, with objects that offer funk and soul but will drive you nuts after you use them for awhile. Trendy is temporary. So throw in a few vinyl tablecloths and some funky placemats but keep ‘em cheap because hopefully they’ll only be employed for a year. Next summer, when I get that super great job somewhere, I’ll look into buying real porch furniture and real accessories. That’ll be the time to invest; this is the time to opt for disposable.

But how long do you live the disposable life? When do you feel financially secure enough to invest? What in life signals that it’s time to upgrade? I’ve been noticing that my wardrobe seems to be right on the border of the disposable/investment faultline. I still flinch at the price tags of high-end items, but I’m inching forward into the clearance racks of real stores rather than garage sales and thrift stores. Yet, I still seem to have this homing device which sends me immediately to the sale racks or the cheapest item possible. When I went to replace my blender, without even thinking about it, I grabbed the $17.99 model and felt my nose wrinkle at the $49.99 selection. I have no idea what special features the more expensive ones had, but for as little as I use a blender, cheap is good.

But back to the glasses. I still don’t know where I’ll purchase a replacement set, or if I even will. Somehow three glasses just seems wrong, maybe unlucky. Who has a dinner party with three people? But when was the last time I had a dinner party and used anything but the wine glasses? If this year goes as I want it to, I’ll likely be packing up and moving to who knows where so I’ve started to look at every purchase with that discerning question, “Are you worth hauling to the end of creation?” (If you want to curb your shopping, spend a good deal of time thinking about moving boxes, ugh.) I’m certainly not putting the kibosh on consumption as my funky placemats will attest, but I’m not really feeling the need to rush out to Williams Sonoma to start my bar glass collection. Maybe I only need three glasses for this year. Or maybe I should hit up the nearest trash town’s rummage sales. Or maybe I’ll just stick to wine glasses.

Of course, drinking OJ out of wine glasses would probably be inspiration to add a little vodka and make it festive. And who knows how many wine glasses I’d break then…