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May 2004
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July 2004

Happy Puppy

Guess who? Why, Miss Sandra Dee Fluffball, that's who! I had the privilege of meeting Greta's new companion, who kissed me and then tried to eat my shoe this afternoon. I've no doubt that eventually I'll join Greta and Becky and Annie as a knitblogger with a bichon ~ but one small animal at home is enough right now. (Actually, we're hosting a guest cat, and seeing how much the Wee One is enjoying said feline, I think we'll have a new kitty before the summer's over.)

I just want to say a big thank-you for our Greta. She provided some needed counsel and a much-needed hug or two as I was in the midst of some heavy family issues. She's a pro ~ and a real friend. I'll say it again, I am amazed at the blessings of this blogging world (and grateful for the happenstance of proximity).

Note the Charlotte tally at left: I've almost crossed over the 100-stitch mark (with 13 markers on the needle), and I finally feel like I get the pattern. Now I can't wait to get to the next ball o'Koigu, which will introduce some blues into the mix. And then I'll take another picture for you.

Cool & Nice

Desperate for post titles, anyone? How tangential is this: Yesterday after we went to exchange a ball of Sugar 'n Cream for a ball of Cotton-Ease (yup, there's the teeny tiny knitting connection), I opened a bottle of water for my thirsty child. After taking a big sip, the Wee C remarked, ah, cool and nice. That transposition of the usual (now, there's a title) struck me as amusing ~

OK, actual knitting content, sans pix, but pretty exciting: yesterday I set in my first knitted sleeve ever! With the tweedy yarn of the recycled fluted jacket, I need daylight, so I'd waited for the weekend to give this a go. I'll attach Sleeve Two during today's naptime, then on to the button bands. Oh, I have to seam the sleeves and sides, but that's not so tough. Then comes the search for buttons. Any suggestions? The pattern specs some square pewter ones. Certainly this deserves better than the average JoAnn fare. I'll try to visit our local buttons shop, Couture, next weekend, or on a lunch hour, but if you've got an exceptional online recommendation, I'll take it. (I've liked M&J Trimming myself, but think I'll prefer placing an actual candidate against the actual fabric.)

In other sleeve/sweater news, I'm knitting the second sleeve of Sitcom Chic, and have already linked the first to the body stitches. So this could be the week of my first raglan shaping as well.

I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. It's lovely here and we're heading for the pool shortly; despite Kay's advice, I'll tote the sleeve-in-progess and try to get a couple of rounds in!


cwcol0001Saddle me up a fast horse, Rach, because I've galloped right past some errors in my Sand&Sea Charlotte's Web. Yup, I'm caught. Started her on Saturday, added the second color last night. Added some stitches that weren't supposed to be there, too. I had 65 stitches when I was supposed to have 63, and I would've frogged, but I really don't know how to do that with lace, and I wasn't up for starting from the beginning. So I decided to play like the Amish and consider it my humility square--even though this may only be quilt lore--showing my imperfection right there, top and center (at least in this photo, saved as I shot it, which is actually upside down for the shawl). I'm not the first to say it, but this thing is addictive: watching the pattern emerge and change color, fingering the Koigu, counting and counting . . .

Charlotte's definitely not what's got my right thumb knuckle sore. This is the first time I've felt some physical discomfort directly related to knitting. (While I continuously have pains in my neck & shoulders, knitting can't take all the blame.) Before I let myself return to Charlotte last night, I finished the collar on the recycled jacket. That's a color for which I picked up 77 stitches (which took more than one try), and that's a collar with a dozen bobbles ~ all in a nubbly silk-wool yarn. I haven't set in the sleeves yet, but once I do, only the button bands remain, so I think I can make my month-end completion goal.

Father's Days

Five years ago I was privileged to spend a two-week vacation with my family and two of our friends in a farmhouse called Le Mimose near the walled city of Lucca. Even though it was May, not June, when I gave my father a pedicure, I told him the treatment constituted his Father's Day gift, for it took quite an effort. A year later, I sent him this poem. This year I've already printed out my year-long journal of life with the Wee One, so I'm not milking this baby for the third time, but I thought I'd post it in his honor nevertheless.


Not supple, yet pliant, his foot is twice as old
as my hand in which it rests. He used
to say he walked five miles to school,
rural Virginia, until, new driver, I
measured the two-tenths distance.

He has soaked in the round pool
beside this rented stucco farmhouse.
The steel bites through yellowed nail;
the clipper’s mechanics surprise us,
word-besotted pair unused
to tools beyond pencil or pen.

I scrape the cuticle, plow
each furrow between toe & nail;
his gaze over my shoulder betrays
a wince as he watches the starling
bring food to fledglings in the hayloft’s eaves.

I sleep alone beside the nest;
their ruckus wakes me daily.
Uccello, he says, in eighth-
decade practice of a new tongue.
Gli uccellini hanno fame, I
reply: The little birds are hungry.

I gently file away the points
and pumice smoothes his skin.
From Segremigno’s tower chime
three deep tones, a pause
before the light half-hour bell.

My father squeezes my hand.
I gesture toward the green
salamanders entwined on the wall.
New life to come. Like Magdalene,
I rub peppermint lotion
into his soles. Eyes closed, he smiles.

Pattern Available

angrib0001You can download the pattern here or from the sidebar, where I'm happy to have changed the header "Stitching Pattern" to plural. Our gal models the finished product with her pajama pants, earlier on this lazy Saturday of banana muffins, ball winding, blocking, Play-doh (while the real dough was cooking) and weaving in ends. While I wound the first two tiny hanks of Lorna's Laces Angel (in Daffodil), the Wee One found it a comfortable adornment. This will be a fuzzy little scarf, pattern courtesy of Theresa the Keyboard Biologist. I also wound the first Charlotte hank of Koigu, and then we had to get ready and head out to my goddaughter's birthday party, where I started a Sitcom sleeve~

That Was Then

beforeI found the pattern for the sweater I made ages ago, ripped a year and a half ago, and have almost made into something new. It was published in 1986 in a Susan Bates Learn to Knit booklet. The most interesting thing about the publication is that it offers instructions for right-handers and left-handers. I'm glad now that I'd already been taught, since most patterns today direct right-handed knitters. And I'm glad we have such a bevy of knitted fashions from which to choose; I certainly don't anticipate making a thing from this booklet, but I'll save it as a relic of my knitting past.

flutscanIn my previous post about the new cardigan I'm making (from Knitter's #56), I suggested that the gauge must've been way off, because the sweater fit so poorly. Now I see the pattern called for 15st/4" on US10s, and I'm now knitting the yarn to 16st/4", but on US8s. If indeed I used 10s, it's no wonder the thing fell off my shoulders. Clearly the design was also part of the problem, even if I knit more loosely then as well. Although the new sweater's design doesn't stand out as much in the tweedy yarn, I'm looking forward to adding this re-engineered item to my wardrobe, and I believe its more basic style will make it a keeper.

*Hurt Books, Healthy Prices*
Much Ado Ann's just pointed me to the Interweave Press site and their Hurt Book & Magazine Sale. Even with a $7 shipping fee, I just ordered The Crocheter's Companion ($9.98 -- thinking of the Charlotte's Web edgings in my future), Knitting on the Road ($9.48 -- my sock yarn stash has grown, and I'm only on my fifth sock), and the Fall 1997 & Summer 2003 issues ($3) of Interweave Knits , my subscription having begun thereafter. If they'd offered the forthcoming Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, I might've taken the plunge (you're not the only impatient one, Greta dear), but it's not yet available. I managed to resist the Deb Menz color book, partly because I know the Threadbears have it, and partly because I arrogantly (and incorrectly) think I know that stuff already~

Ribby in Progress

This has been a fun, quick knit, with $4 yarn expenditure, half of which was left from another project. I took that picture last night; right now I am finishing the second strap and looking for my kitchener how-to. In my mind's eye I've toyed with the idea of additional crochet trim in the contrast yarn of the center stripes (that don't even look like stripes because of the variegation), but I think I'll try the fit once more before I start going for overkill. As a little diversion, this fit the bill. I'll post the pattern when it's done, but probably only in the 2T size; I think it would be easy for a knitter to adapt by adding ribs / rows.

I've also spent some time tonight in stash management mode. Man, there's a lot of yarn down there! Like Mariko, I'd followed the link Kerrie provided to find the pattern for the Koigu kerchief she and Emma made. I also ordered the full-size shawl pattern from Foxy Knits, so I was surveying the KPPPM stash, in case I want to make that after Charlotte. That pattern calls for six skeins in four colors; I have 2sk x 3 colors=6, which I think will work just as well, and be a more successful finished project ( a wrap for my mother) than the one I'd originally planned. With the sleeves of the fluted jacket finished and awaiting their turn on the blocking board, I think I can risk winding the CWeb balls, even as my sweet Sitcom Chic sits lonely and overlooked of late . . .

Book List

Reckon I ought to join in the lit bit, what with my last post about Middlemarch and my dubious credentials. I'll get back to the knitting next time, I promise ~ I finished the fluted-jacket sleeves and passed the midpoint on the wee ribby tank over the weekend.

You know the scoop by now, right? I'm bolding the ones I've read, and adding the occasional note. About 100 titles, and I've not read half of them. My youthful 20th-century and American biases are showing again, dagnabbit.

[Heaney's translation is on the nighstand]
Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
[but Oliver Twist]
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
[but yes to Silas Marner, and into you-know-what]
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury

Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird

Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
[but Love in the Time of Cholera]
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby-Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible

Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front

Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet

Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple

Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
[but Ethan Frome]
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
[but Mrs. Dalloway]
Wright, Richard - Native Son


I just want to thank Em for prompting us to read Eliot's hefty tome. I am loving it! That may be no surprise to hear from a gal with two English degrees, but I must confess that as a student the first time around, I (foolishly) focused on 20th-century literature, and therefore discovered the gaps when I went back for my MFA. That second go emphasized poetry, so Eliot remained overlooked. I'm really glad to be reading her now, and interested to find myself identifying with Dorothea Brooke nearly two centuries later (Published in the 1870s, Middlemarch is set in the 1830s).

After the mid-1990s spate of Jane Austen films (and don't forget to include Clueless among them), I ordered a set of the novels from the book club, but I just couldn't wade through them. The evolution of literary style in a half-century somehow makes Middlemarch more readable for me, even with its daunting length. Or maybe it's just that Austen's girls are all about husband-hunting, while Dodo (to the extent that I know her after a mere 50 pages) maintains loftier goals, even as she wanders the woods dreaming of her longed-for betrothal to the man of letters rather than the man of means . . .

And Miss Brooke is only one of the protagonists! I don't know that we ever suggested anything formal for this read-along, but I'm hoping for some more comments from Em ( & others, Greta & Rachael!). I was so eager to dive right in that I skipped the intro in my volume, but I think I'll make time for it this weekend.

Today's Google: A critic on Eliot, in The Atlantic, 1873 ~

Happy Jack


We're off to NC today for a party tomorrow in honor of our friend Jack's 75th birthday. He's the father of my dear friend Tim (whom you may remember as my Rowan courier), as well as three other swell offspring I'm looking forward to seeing. They are the most active family I have ever known. I'm certain Jack (and his lively wife) have visited more countries and climbed more mountains than I'll ever see. Happy Birthday, Jack!

Wee C's ribby tank has taken the sock slot in my tote and measures about three inches so far (and with her back-waist length of about 10", that's a good chunk). I'm knitting it bottom-up on a Denise circ, in a 4 x 2 rib that gives this dishcloth cotton some, well, give. It's the yarn I didn't use for the additional letters & numbers on Oscar's blanket, a pale teal. Yesterday when I bought her required plastic art smock for summer camp, I grabbed one more ball in another variegated colorway, for a few stripes. I'm all about solids, but she's all about brights, so the stripes will bring some purple & blue into the mix.