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March 2004
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May 2004

Needle in a Haystack

Months ago my friend Stew passed two huge boxes of yarn on to me. The contents were mostly acrylic, and sat in my basement waiting to be put to use. Turns out lucky that the calls to the charity-knitting coordinator went unanswered, because I was able to respond to the Critter Knitters Coalition's request for yarn donations for the Knit-outs Liz is planning. Saturday night I culled through the rejects that didn't make the NY cut, wanting to consolidate before the recycling pick-up ~ and before guests arrive ~ and I found these tiny bits of actual wool:

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Granted, they are timeworn and were in fact tossed after I documented them, yet how beautifully practical and quaint these threads were. Only one bore a price tag on the back: $.05. Today, if we don't save the sample threads that come with some woolens, we are out of luck if we need darning supplies. Aren't we?

For anyone awaiting a post-fulling shot of the French Market bag, here tis. She's done and dried and rather dandy. Since I'm flush with bags of all shapes and sizes (and materials), I believe I'll gift this on to the friend who coordinated our vacation last month, where I began knitting this item.

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I'm glowing green with envy down here for my friends who'll make Maryland this weekend. It's not that I need any more yarn ~ I've noted before I've got stash to last years ~ but I want to play Spot the Blogger! However, my boss said (justifiably, and weeks ago) he expects his director of communications to attend the biennial forum that this year falls April 30-May 1, and that is I, alas. I do plan to knit while listening to architects address regionalism in the context of architectural design, and I'd better not hear any complaints about it.



We're better off for all that we let in

smalligIndeed we are; the notion rang true to me on so many levels as I listened to the incredible Indigo Girls sing the title song from their latest recording here last night. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Saturday two years ago when I drove to FedEx to pick up the photos of my daughter (Monday having been the anniversary of the day I learned who and where she was). I am indescribably better off for having let her in. When Emily (I'm not really on a first-name basis with them, like Rachael is) asked who in the audience had been at the March Sunday, where they sang one song, I proudly waved my hand, thinking of the wonderful women who've entered my life in the past year via this wacky knitting world, the ones who watched the Girls on the big screen on the Mall with me, and the ones who couldn't be there. I began blogging wary of letting anyone in, and few readers took notice. But as we started letting one another into our far-flung lives, true friendships developed. I think of these people every day, with the same devotion that I hold for those I've known for decades.

allthatAnd can I also just say what gifted musicians those two women are? What a great show! They are both exceptional players of stringed instruments, each possesses a unique and lovely voice, and when these elements come together, well, wow. And beyond the indelible harmonies lie the words, which are not only lyrical (to this poet's ear), but tell important stories and say things that matter. I hadn't actually gotten around to adding this latest recording to my collection until today, but I sure did swing by Plan 9 on the way back to the office from an appointment. Thank you, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers!


The Big Walk

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On Saturday night (after we got our basils, tomatoes and pepper -- a Fruit Basket, as all the Jingle Bells were sold -- planted) I told Wee C we were going on an adventure the next day. As we drove towards Washington yesterday, she kept asking, Where's the 'venture? , to which I replied This is the adventure, all of it: the driving, the (first-ever) Metro, the porta-potty (ditto) and the Big Walk with hundreds of thousands of others.

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As it turned out, she grabbed her nap during the March, but she got to enjoy the best part of our day: sittin' and knittin' (and noshin' and chattin') with the flesh-and-blood versions of blog buddies Rachael, Bethany, Michelle, Maureen and Sarah (who shot that photo, and whom I'm happy to have rediscovered, having lost her when she moved [my bad]). I'm also happy to have heard Gloria Steinem and Susan Sarandon and Camryn Manheim and Ashley Judd make sound points (and the Indigo Girls and Betty make good sounds!). Plus, I turned the heel on the Wiggles sock ~ while Caroline affixed Wiggles stickers to my fellow knitters. Caroline was still pointing north this morning and saying Sarah lives that way, a result of our all having parted on the Alexandria Metro platform after a quick visit to the new and wonderful Knit Happens.

Our joy in the company did not overshadow the magnitude of the event, nor my pride in having been a part of it. We stepped off from our meeting point near the front of the March shortly after noon, and when we left the Mall around 3:45, walkers were still completing the two-mile loop. I walked for Caroline's rights especially, and will let her know when she is old enough to understand. I'm actually not sorry she snoozed, because I didn't want her to see the gory propaganda offered by some protesters along the route. The microphoned one who proselytized that women who terminate a pregnancy are doing their ancestors an injustice by denying the continuation of the bloodline really got my blood boiling, as I walked with my daughter who is a member of my family despite the absence of shared genetic material. I'm grateful that my knitting friends could see and affirm that our familial connection is so much bigger than biology.


Gardening Day

clemsmToday we're going to whip our green spaces into shape. Gotta have things looking good before Rachael and Bethany and Greta arrive next weekend (when I have to work, rather than join them at MS&WF, alas.) Click on that pale-lavender clematis for a close-up; I'm not sure it will still be blooming in a week. I love that plant, which I bought as a UFO (unidentified floral object), a pitiful stalk crammed into the wrong container. It might look better if it weren't sidled up next to my somewhat unfortunate ketchup-and-mustard honeysuckle and jessamine, but I'm happy to have it in my little 20'x20' plot.

So, we're off to the 20th annual Herbs Galore at Maymont, a wonderful estate-with-acreage that's like an exceptional city park, but owned by a private foundation. I'll be looking for the great container tomatoes I got last year, and my perennial fave, the jingle-bell pepper, a prolific producer of small, sweet peppers that go from green to red and can be consumed at either stage. Basils, mints ~ we'll see what else grabs us, and post FO (finished outside) pix later if we actually manage to get it all planted. Happy Saturday!


The Not-Poncho

Remember that Rowan Zephyr poncho I began for my friend, which morphed into a wrap made from just one side of the poncho? Here's Nicolee modeling it:

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You can't quite tell what a groovy rhinestone button she's got holding it together. Trust me, it sparkles.

I'm cruising on the Easter-egg rainbow socks, and thinking of skipping some of the colors and making them Wiggles socks (or at least holding the dinosaur green & yellow for the foot & toe, rather than sticking with rainbow order). I have about three inches so far, with a wide section each of Jeff and Anthony. I mean purple and blue.* And the US1s (2.25mm) aren't unmanageable at all. I knit a round at the post office today, while waiting to buy some Dr. Seuss stamps!

*Caroline's friend Lily, with whom we shared a cabin on our recent vacation, really does say her colors this way ~ at least purple, blue, red and yellow!


The Pioneer

I've just learned from the Gibster that today is Pioneer Melissa's birthday, and I want to take a moment to raise a glass (mug o'tea, actually) in her honor. Melissa was one of the first bloggers I connected with personally, via email, and she remains an inspiration, a friend and a delight. Her posts long ago left knitting behind, and I don't mind one iota. In the mean time she's written a novel, repainted her rooms, achieved massive decluttering and turned us on to many books and thinkers and artists as she goes. She prompted me to post a tour of my home when she was looking for her first kitchen colors, and I did so enthusiastically, even at a time (its second month) when I was leaning toward serious anonymity in this blog. I've taken guidance from her on gardening and parenting, even though we live with differing families in vastly different climactic zones. We share a thing for Wiggle Anthony (whose new daughter shares my birthday!), Jeanne Marie Laskas, rocks, shells and children's books. Melissa also shares an uncanny resemblance to my special blog pal Greta, whom I may or may not have discovered via Mel. All Birthday Best, You Wonderful Woman!


Starts & Finishes

We have fulled, and two bags are drying. I'll take 'em off the WIP list when all is said and done. Here's Sophie, awaiting the more complex finishing. I'll be adding a fabric lining, clear plastic handles, and a crocheted flower or two. Click here for a (big) before shot, just to note how much length goes away in the felting. I think this is going to be quite cute upon completion, and will make a great (belated) birthday gift for my friend Laura. Go see Rob for a Sophie that's all done and as cute as all getout!

And here's the French Market bag, knit in Cascade 220 brown (#9459) & green (#9407). Before felting:

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And after:
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I was glad I had a 10x10x10 box handy, even though the pattern notes finished bottom dimensions of 9x9.
And while Polly's specified yarn totals 420 yards, and I allotted 440 of Cascade, I did have to break into second skeins in each color. I attribute both of these factors to my having knitted on US9s rather than 7s, which I chose to do mostly because the Denise 7s were still holding the Must-Have sleeve. (Must finish the Must-Have ~ or at least that sleeve!)

OK, maybe I should've called this post Finishes & Starts, given the order of presentation. Just didn't have the right ring to it. After reading Kerstin's excellent guilt-free post yesterday, I updated my WIP list (left). At the top, a new topper. And contrary to the notes there, the Easter-egg Rainbow socks wait no longer. I stayed up past midnight last night knitting my first picot edge ~ using US1s for the first time, to boot!

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No More Purls*

Yesterday I started knitting backwards! I had read the article in Knitty a while back, and even participated in Kristi's survey of left-handed knitters. But when I passed the rounds of my French Market bag and went on to completing the handles, I suddenly decided to give it a try. I started a purl row, turned it around and looked at where everything was going, then flipped it back over and knit left-to-right (just like reading). Woo-hoo! It was so much fun it almost makes me want to learn Continental, but I think it's the dexterity (sinisterity?) of my left hand that afforded me this ability ~ the picking motion just feels impossibly awkward when I try it with the needle in my right hand. This first go was stockinette destined for the fulling machine, so I felt safe practicing on a WIP. While the stitches were indistinguishable row to row, we'll see how I manage to maintain tension in fabric that isn't purposefully loose. I did feel that I was knitting just a bit faster, and think of all the time I saved by not having to turn the work!

Elisabeth and Marcia, this does not, of course, mean you!


Copycat

Because I want to be like Alison and Anne, and because this is more fun than the Friday Five, and because I can't leave well enough alone, I give you a pair of responses to the following charge.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the sentence in your journal with these instructions.

Non-fiction:
The building tells the story.

archbook.jpgDoncha love that one? It's from Architecture: A Crash Course, by Hilary French, which I bought at the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1999.

Fiction:
"Giving a young girl strong drink."

That's from the (out of print) novel Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944), which I bought at a used book sale for a woman I know named Cluny Brown. Yes, she was named for the book, although I don't know that her father, who had the idea, had read it. And clearly I haven't yet had occasion to hand it over.

I'd like to say, also, that it's too darn bad the directions didn't call for the second sentence from that one:
(He was a man noted for his presence of mind, his quick wit, his savoir faire; such was the aspect of the plumber that for the moment all three deserted him, and this feeble ejaculation was all he could find.)

For the record, said output was "I say!"


Blanketing

I am not one of the knitters who declared 2004 to be the year I knit for me. As the mother of an adorable tot, I think those years are way off, since I knit for sanity and want to knit for the wee one. Right now I find myself knitting for the comfort of others whose faces I will never see, and I'm enjoying it heartily. But, wait! I'm not just knitting, I'm also sewing and crocheting. Critter blankie #3 has got me hookin' and it's way fun. The yarn is acrylic and pretty darned fat ~ it's called rug yarn on its labels and came to me via my friend Stewart's mother's basement. I sent most of it to Liz for the Critter Knitters knit-outs, but held this yarn back so I could get out the hook again. I've done some finishing trim in crochet of late, but no whole items since 2001.

The first two critter comforts are flannel with batting between. Pix of all three to come when complete. This morning I looked at my old old (c.1987) bathrobe on the back of the bathroom door when I put on my new Christmas-gift one, and it suddenly occurred to me to cut it up and make a few more for the animals. I'd been otherwise reluctant to pass it on to a thrifty life, but this seems the perfect solution. Really, I'm doing this for the cats and dogs, not for the chance at prizes.

But all that Rowan's a pretty good enticement, so of course I have not forgotten the year's premier charity, the MDK Afghanalong. Initially I planned to knit one square per month, but I made one in the first month and two in the second, and am well on my way to three in this third. Here are two:
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The Log Cabin technique is irresistable, the perfect way to use up even the shortest of scraps. I tangentially followed quilting tradition and began with a warm, if not red, hearth square for both, then veered off from there. The one on the right was aiming to be a Courthouse Steps variation when I started, but full scrap usage won the case.

Meanwhile, the Lenten fast has ended and I've got a KnitPicks order en route (Thanks for the discount, Knitter's Review), a Charlotte's Web consult underway with the Boys, and a couple of eBay bids pending. I'm joining knit-alongs right and left. When the contractor came last night to survey the basement for improvement potential, I made nary an excuse for the three big stash containers and their surounding offspring, and did not flinch when he suggested I would need to order Portable On Demand Storage should a project begin. Hey, there's a thought: a yarnPOD in perpetuity!