Thursday, August 31, 2006

Book Meme

Amber tagged me for this. I've never been tagged before, so that was kinda cool!

1. One book that changed your life: The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor. Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest in Georgia, writes like a poet and preaches in a way I had never experienced before. Reading her book (which is both a memoir of her calling and a collection of a few sermons), smashed all my stereotypes of preachers and preaching, gave me a whole new understanding of what preaching could be and was instrumental in helping me recognize that I was called to preach.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Brilliant, subversive and delightful. I read this in high school and then read it again earlier this year, after seeing the movie. Austen is a master of the form.

3. One book you’d want on a deserted island: Hmmm, this is a toughie. I should probably say Don Quixote since I couldn't get through it the first time I tried 2 years ago and on a deserted island maybe I'd have more time and focus. But the truth is, a knitting book would probably keep me entertained and occupied for a lot longer (assuming I also had yarn and needles, which of course I would, but even if I didn't My Old Man can attest to the fact that I read and reread knitting books even when I'm not working a pattern from them). It would be a tough call, but I guess I'd choose Mason-Dixon Knitting since I haven't knit anything from it yet.

4. One book that made you laugh: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. Wickedly funny. I love me some Sedaris.

5. One book that made you cry: The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate by Marjorie Williams. Marjorie Williams was a brilliant journalist for the Washington Post who died last year of liver cancer (outliving predictions of her death by about 4 years). She left behind a husband and two young children. This book is a collection of her best columns, along with personal essays. Her husband collected these and published them after her death. She was a brilliant writer, and an incisive analyst of politics and political figures. I was devastated by the personal essays and found myself reading through tears numerous times. [I actually could've listed any numbers of books that have made me cry, as I tend to cry easily and to pick books that induce such.]

6. One book you wish had been written: Oh, probably any of the several novels I have either conceived of or actually started writing over the last 25 years.

7. One book you wish had never been written: Mein Kampf.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. It's a little unnerving when a preaching icon like Taylor decides she's had enough of parish life. But I couldn't not read it, and it is every bit as moving and inspiring as every other book of hers.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I originally postponed this one because I didn't think I could handle another death book right after The Woman at the Washington Zoo. But that was 7 months ago. Don't know what my excuse is now.

10. Tag six people: Rebecca, Sara Jayne, Becky, yakmidi, Dave, and Vegan Knitting.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I'm a finalist in the final Amazing Lace challenge!

I've been dutifully playing along all summer, entering every challenge - writing poetry, taking potty shots, even taking pictures of the inside of my closet - but everyone else has been so much more clever. For my all time favorite knitting pic, check out Dave's winning entry for challenge #4. I mean, seriously folks, who can compete with creativity - or abs - like that?

At any rate, I kept on making my humble submissions to the challenges. It was fun to participate (and My Old Man was quite the sport for going along with a couple of long and ridiculous-seeming photo shoots). And it turns out that for every challenge we did, we'll get entered into the drawing for prizes, whether we ever won a challenge or not. Pretty cool, eh?

So to get chosen as a finalist for the final challenge is icing on the proverbial cake (here's my entry). And on top of that, I got a little shout-out for my subsequent post, with me imitating the Knitty model. tee hee. In addition to getting entered extra times into the final prize drawing, the winner of this challenge wins a $42 ball of laceweight Belisa Cashmere (!!!) from Hollis at Full Thread Ahead. Right now I'm trailing all the other participants in the challenge - there are some super entries. Check out this one and this one. Knitters are creative folks, aren't they?

Dudes, go on over and vote. For me, preferably.

This has been the coolest KAL. I'm so glad I took the plunge and entered. Not only did I challenge myself to learn more about knitting lace, and not only were the challenges creative and fun, but I discovered some awesome blogs out there in the process (because we all know that what I really need is to spend more time online, reading blogs). If you have haven't seen these before, check them out: Lickety Knit (written by Rachel, one of the co-creators and co-hosts of the Amazing Lace) and Criminy Jickets (written by Dave, who has more to offer than just great abs). Both blogs have everything I think a knitting blog should have - super writing, great photos, and some really beautiful knitting.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Saturday Seven - #8

I haven't been tracking these on this blog, but I've meant to. So here's today's Saturday Seven.

In knitting news, I'm working on little projects while I wait for my size 13 KP Options needle tips to arrive, so I can start on my fall cardigan. Earlier in the week, I made a wee baby hat for a baby due early September. I should make either a kimono or booties to match, but instead I've spent the rest of my knitting time this week fiddling with more socks for me. I'm using Lorna's Laces worsted in chocolate (such a yummy color) and am working in a little pink (using my Pearl pink panther fingering weight, doubled). (brown and pink are a fave color combo of mine, esp. for fall) I'm sort of making up the color design as I go, and I keep being unhappy with it. So I'm about to frog for the second time and start again. Is it possible to do Fair Isle (a technique I've never tried) over ribbing, or should I really stick with stockinette?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a little something different

Okay, so since my last three posts all had actual knitting content, I'm giving myself license to post something completely random today.

An article about my "little" bro.

If you like good music and want to hear some new tunes, check out his blog, where he offers tons of free live recordings of Athens bands (recorded by my brother with permission from the bands).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

just for fun

I know I've already posted a pic of Cozy (for the Amazing Lace final challenge; see previous post). But I am so thrilled with this FO and have been so obsessed with this project since I first spotted it last fall (when I first discovered the online world of knitting, including, that one picture doesn't satisfy me. So just for fun, I had My Old Man take some pics of me imitating the poses of the redhead who models Cozy for Knitty, as seen here and here. I knitted Cozy in the same yarn, same exact color (though the color looks a bit different in the Knitty pics, I double-checked with the pattern author and this is the same color). For my "photo shoot" I also made sure to wear the same color shirt and jeans as the Knitty model. Yes, I know, I'm a freak.

And one with both boys, with their super-serious faces on. (We had to promise Little Buddha an M&M to stay still for one more shot).

And one more.

Did I mention how thrilled I am with this? It blocked beautifully, it smells delicious and earthy, and I just love, love, love it.

Okay, the freak show is over. You can move along now.

Amazing Lace Challenge #6: Unlikely Model

Your challenge — your final challenge — is to post a photo of your lace being proudly worn or displayed by the strangest, funniest, or most unlikely model you can find.... [Pets are disqualified.]

Okay, so this one stumped me. My first thought, which would've been great fun but I am a total coward, was my neighbor Jack. I imagined him on his Harley with his cigarette in his mouth and his t-shirt off and his tattoos showing, wearing Cozy. It would've been a great shot. But like I said, I'm a coward. There was just no way I could get up the nerve to ask that man to wear my shawl.

My second thought came when I was at the zoo with my boys. In the petting zoo part, I was easily within throwing distance of pot-bellied pigs and alpacas (how cute would that have been?). The drawback was, once thrown, how would I get the thing back? I could've gone for the goats, which we could walk right up to and pet, but still I hesitated. Mainly because I failed to bring my shawl with me to the zoo.

My Old Man would've been an easy unlikely model, but I figure a lot of other challenge participants are going with spouses. And statues. Plenty of statues around here but other people have already done that, and better than I could've.

So I thought and thought and thought. And I realized who was the most unlikely model of all.


Because the truth is, I have never ever worn anything I have knitted. I've only ever knitted two things for myself before - the Anthropolgie-Inspired Disaster and vaguely disatisfying To Dye For - neither of which I wear. Okay, I did actually wear the Disaster once, but I realized moments after putting it on that it was an ill-conceived choice. It was too late to fix the situation, though, because I was already out and if I took the thing off then I'd be wearing only a tiny camisole. Since I was having a formal dinner with a bunch of clergywomen and nuns, that hardly seemed appropriate. The upshot is, my previous projects for myself have spent pretty much their entire knitted lives shut away, unworn.

But with the inspiration of the Amazing Lace, I have finally completed not one but two projects I will actually wear. Cozy and the Simply Lovely Lace Socks (I'm wearing both in the picture). It feels sooooo good finally to have knit something I love and will definitely wear! Yay!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Knitted Dreams, a little lovely lace, and lessons learned

Last night was a night of fitful, broken sleep, thanks in part to going to bed way too late (I was knitting till about 1:00) and in part to Tiny Dancer waking up 3 ½ hours later with a cough and runny nose. I took TD to bed with us to see if he would go back to sleep (he did not, well at least not till I put him back in his own bed 45 minutes later); Little Buddha woke in the process and started crying because he wanted to get up too. He said he wanted to go swimming.

At any rate, my short night was full of knitting dreams.

1 – I ran into the Yarn Harlot in line somewhere. It was very cool. I liked her a lot - she was exceptionally warm and friendly. I don’t remember anything else, except that she was wearing a yellow shirt.

2 – I got a lot of knitting done on the back of my cardigan. Then I realized I forgot to put in reverse stockinette stitch “seams” and was going to have to frog the whole thing. I was really upset about it. In real life, all I have knit is two swatches. Am not sure why I'm having anxiety dreams about it.

3 – I finished two lace projects this week.

OH WAIT! That last one wasn’t a dream. I really did finish two projects. Wheeeee! Finished Cozy on Monday, blocked it on Thursday, and am absolutely thrilled with it. Pics to come tomorrow, as a part of my final Amazing Lace challenge.

Then today I finished my Simply Lovely Lace Socks. They are so yummy! I love them.

So this is a first for me. Two things I’ve made that I’m not unhappy with. Two things I’ve made for myself that I’ll actually wear.

Other firsts involved in the SLLS: first size 0 needles (also first fingering weight project), first picot trim, first socks for myself, first project knit from a magazine (IK Spring 2006). Also, the first project that has ever required pulling over into the emergency lane on a highway. On Wednesday, as we were driving home north on I-75, one of my needles slid out. I suddenly had 15 tiny live stitches threatening to undo all my work. I freaked out. Didn’t have a crochet hook that tiny. Tried to painstakingly get them all back on a needle, but the motion of the car was making it difficult. Things were coming undone – including me. My Old Man offered to pull over, and promptly did. He deserves some sort of knitterly spouse award for that, doesn’t he?

Finally, a few lessons learned on my vacation:

1 – Even after having lived for 29 ½ years in the south (except for the first 3 weeks of my life in Kansas, a summer in Bolivia [where it was actually winter], and a summer in Washington state), I will never ever get used to hot, humid weather.

2 – Allowing children to watch enormous quantities of television makes them far easier to "manage" than usual.

3 – Going back to life as usual once home (i.e., no TV) will make those same children far more difficult to manage than before.

4 – After a year-and-a-half without television, I will still have seen roughly 90% of all the Law and Order episodes I try to watch on vacation.

5 – The one new SVU episode I see on vacation will be repeated one week later.

6 – I will quickly and happily fall back into a Daily Show addiction when given the opportunity, as well as developing a new addiction to the Colbert Report.

7 – I will also watch mass quantities of perfectly wretched programming, for no good reason.

8 – It is possible to allow one’s spouse to drive all but 200 miles of a 2000+ mile trip without feeling guilty, if knitting is involved.

9 – I can easily take over 200 pictures on vacation and not get a single one of my family (i.e., the four of us). I will, however, manage to take 3 shots of a knitting shop.

10 - If I pack a whole suitcase full of yarn for a 2 ½ week trip, chances are I won’t open it a single time until the very last night. And that will be just to get the second ball of yarn for a project I’m already working on.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Scenes from a vacation

Cozy is blocking*, the Simply Lovely Lace Socks are almost done, we are home from the road (but still on vacation - woohoo!), and now there are bills to pay, loads of laundry to wash, and emails to respond to. So for now, I'm just going to post a few favorite pics from our travels. I got some great ones of Baby J, but I don't like to post pics of other people's babies without permission, and I haven't asked yet. But trust me, he's totally adorable!

A few snaps from down south:

The boys each took a turn riding on Granddad's tractor.
The tractor was a huge hit. So was riding on Granddad's lap.

Little Buddha gazes out the window at geese, as we pull up to a pond at a park in my hometown. Half my life ago, I used to cross-country practice runs on the same trail.

The boys get to see puppies for the first time. My mom's yorkie died two days before we arrived. We went with her to look at some yorkie pups. The boys had a ball.

Tiny Dancer prepares to get his first haircut.
(Actually, I've been trimming his hair for a year, but this was the first cut by a pro.
He did much better than I expected!
Little Buddha wanted his cut too, but we are letting his stay in big fat ringlets.)

Little Buddha models Cozy.
All done but the blocking!

*I have to admit, I hate blocking! It's one of those details requiring a kind of meticulousness that I just do not possess. It took forever, and the whole time I was thinking about all the knitting I could be doing. Also, I couldn't find my spritz bottle and was hesitant to do a wet-block since it's 100% silk. So I got a cup of water and just repeatedly dunked my hand in it and flicked water on the shawl. I have no idea if this is going to do the trick. It looks great all pinned out straight on the bed, but I have no confidence whatsoever that it is actually blocked in such a way that it's going to come out right....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Simply Lovely Local Yarn Shop

In the midst of working steadily on Cozy, I got obsessed with my Simply Lovely Lace Socks. I finished the first one in Birmingham (pictures will come when I'm through with the pair). I LOVE THIS SOCK.

But I hated my needles. They were Brittany birch dpns, size 0, 5 inches long. The socks are knit on 4 needles, which means I have to have all 5 in the set. The first night I owned them, one of the needles snapped in two. I went out the next day and bought another set. They are so soft and flexible that all but 2 of the 9 needles have warped. Then Tiny Dancer got ahold of one and snapped it in two. By the end of the first sock, I was grinding my teeth at these warped needles. I really grew to detest them (and I swear the ladder at the middle of the bottom of the sock is their fault!). I was determined that the second sock would be done on a brand new set of needles.

In all of Birmingham, population ~500,000, only 3 yarn shops were listed. One of them was supposedly half a mile from my BIL's house, but when I got there it was someone's home with no signage. I still don't know what the deal was with that. The second one disappointed me. There was a large group of knitters hanging out there and no one seemed to have the time to wait on me (I was never quite sure who worked there and who didn't). There seemed to be more knitters than yarn in that store (I wasn't thrilled with the selection). When I finally did get someone to answer some questions it turned out they didn't carry any dpns smaller than size 2! Bah!

And then I stumbled on a gem. This shop is everything I think a yarn shop should be.

It was a dream. We stopped by on our way out of town, and My Old Man and the boys waited in the car while I went in, so I didn't get to shop the way I would've wanted. The woman working there was so warm and friendly. She didn't seem irritated about having to put down her knitting to help a customer. The layout of the store was really inviting, and there was TONS of great yarns. I got to touch Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace for the first time ever, after stalking it online for months (loved it) [for a shawl I know I'm not going to have time to knit]. She helped me figure out which needles to get for my lace socks (Crystal Palace bamboo, 6"). And when it turned out they were out of this really cool needle protector she had been recommending (called a "knitwit" - I'll post pics when I can), she gave me her own personal one!

It was one of the best LYS experiences I've had. I can't wait to be in Birmingham again sometime so I can really shop there. They are moving from Helena to Homewood later this month, so if you're in the area, definitely look them up.

I've held off on starting the second sock until I finish Cozy, which is just a few inches from done. But my hands are itching to try the new needles, and I really can't wait to have my very own handmade socks (the first I've made for myself).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Checking in from the road

Little Buddha wants to show you that Mommy did, in fact, stay up late the night before leaving town to sew a couple of wee wonderful kitties. I stuffed them in the car the first night and then sewed up the last bit when we got to the hotel, so the boys had them by bedtime our first night away from home. I had low expectations about how much the boys would like them, so I was thrilled that they both became instantly and thoroughly attached to them.

More pics from the road later. I'm about halfway done with Cozy and think I'll finish before we get home. I've done a bit on the Simply Lovely Lace Socks but haven't broken into my knitting suitcase yet. It's too bloody hot to even think about starting on my wool cardigan.

The layette I made for Baby J (who is completely beautiful) was enthusiastically received. I tell ya, newborns are magical creatures. I can't quit looking and smiling at this little guy, and my boys seem to know he's something special too - always giving him kisses and gentle pats on the head. We are all in love.