Thursday, January 31, 2008

All better now

Five reasons things are better at the Knitternall House:

1. AG is nearly over her cold. She was out of school for two days, which meant I was out of work for the same period. I spent much of yesterday catching up the backlog.

2. I just finished a gi-normous edit job for one of my copywriting clients. Six hours of proofing indices, tables of content, technical data, cross-references, captions, and legalese. Hitting that "send" button felt really, really good.

3. My Preschool Phonics classes are just zooming. The kids collectively had a cognitive "growth spurt" over the holiday break and most are catching on. Many are even reading fluently!

4. I finished six scarves, a prayer shawl, and started a ShareAtlanta layette, so my charity knitting is right on schedule.

5. The ice blue kid silk mohair and suede soles arrived yesterday so I can start Ice Queen and the mukluks!!! Paradise Fibers was a dream to work with.

I'm craving a visit to my favorite LYS, Cast-On Cottage in Roswell. Maybe, just maybe, there will be time to indulge that craving on Saturday. I'm in the mood for some stash-building. And I'd love to dig through their new patterns for the queue.

Jaywalker #1 is nearing the toe and the dreaded second-sock syndrome is looming. Gotta fight it. Must . . . cast . . . on.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm Starstruck and housebound.

I'm housebound with a sick kid, so it's time to show the latest completed project. Starstruck is based on the Six-Pointed Star by Barbara Breiter. Her design is simple and works up quickly - I made this entire strand during a road trip to North Carolina earlier this month.

I used some quirky Rhythm wool by Yarn Treehouse I picked up for a song through eBay. The self-striping qualities of the wool are interesting, and it felts up pretty well. I was able to complete 9 stars with one skein.

I initially connected the stars point-to-point, but that method didn't translate well during the felting process. So I snipped them apart, then used a tapestry needle and extra Rhythm to tie the individual stars together. The result is really cool.

In idle times through the year, I'll make up a bunch of stars and decorate a tree for my knitting room next Christmas.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Not-so-Lean, Mean Knitting Machine

The Miss America pageant last night gave me some solid knitting time. I was so busy supporting Hannah Kiefer (she's a finalist! she made the swimsuit cut! she made the evening gown cut! she's THIRD RUNNER UP!!!!! I'm so proud of her!) that I finished a scarf for the homeless project, got past the instep on Jaywalker #1, and started a prayer shawl using the Comfort Shawl pattern. Whew! My hands are a bit tired, so I'll rest them today.

As of this morning, I have four scarves finished out of the six I want to contribute. I'll knit the other two before next Wednesday night so I can give them to KM at church for delivery to the homeless shelter. Then it's time for another set of blanket, booties, and cap for the ShareAtlanta project.

I've been reading Knitting in America by Melanie Falick, a random find during my last library visit. The profiles of knitters, designers and spinners are fascinating, but I am particularly drawn to the details about the places where they live and work. Knitting in a renovated Victorian in the heart of snowy, cold New England sounds dreamy. I wonder how my own "studio" would play in a profile?

"Knitternall lives in a charming unincorporated town called Dunwoody, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Her home is an updated 1970's-era Colonial four-on-four, with a central hall that resounds with her muttered curses as she lets the dog out for the fourth time in an hour, urges her kids to get their homework finished because they have a thousand things to do and tosses pillows on the sofa to find the phone before it stops ringing.

"Her studio is a cozy sunroom just off the kitchen. A large antique cabinet and huge baskets scattered around the room hold yarn, while various handmade pottery containers organize knitting needles, crochet hooks, and other tools. When the weather is warm (because the sunroom isn't HEATED), Knitternall likes to work where she can see the woods behind her home and keep an ear open to the activities of her children ("Mom, where's my _____? CRASH. "I think it's broken!" DOG WHINING. "Mom, Scooter needs to go out." Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! "STOP! Mom, tell A to STOP!)"

Yeah. That's about right.

I've produced enough bios and profiles in my time to appreciate the deft hand of creative writing. I'm sure Ms. Falick did some judicious editing to up the charm ante. I'm enjoying the results. And dreaming.

CRASH. "Mom!"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

There she is . . .

Having a special person competing in the Miss America pageant has involved me in all kinds of unusual activities. Case in point: reality TV. This is perhaps my least favorite form of entertainment in the world (watching court and medical show TV dramas come close). But I watched Miss America: Reality Check faithfully for the past four weeks in support of Hannah Kiefer, Miss Virginia. Hannah's sunny personality, playful self-effacement and selflessness shone through. The show and the so-called "experts" were exactly what I thought they would be: contrived, way too self-important and eager to catch the contestants in an awkward light. Too bad. Those young women did very, very well for themselves in a surreal environment.

Yes, Hannah was "judged" to be one of the top ten "best." No, she wasn't one of the final three. And yes, her gleeful embrace of one of the "winners" was genuine and heart-felt. That's Hannah.

If you think Hannah is lovely, you ought to see her mom and dad. They're GORGEOUS. And just as special.

Tonight as Miss America goes through her paces and gets crowned, I'll be watching. And knitting, to relieve the tension.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A little fun with my favorite knitting blogs and sites

If I were a Daily Knitter, I might be a MagKnit for all kinds of Knitting Psychos. I may even be considered a Yarn Harlot, considering the extent of my stash, or Knitting Pattern Central, with my extensive library of knitting books and pamphlets. But I try to keep things in perspective. Yes, knitting is my Knitch in life. But it isn't the only thing I do. Really.

I started out as a Knitty Chick, pecking at the yarn and limiting myself to safe scarves and belts. Then wise Knit Sisters encouraged me to try new stitches and techniques. Now I'm just a Big Geek about knitting. It's simply my favorite way to Unwind.

Since I knit below the Mason-Dixon Knitting line, my work has a definite Southern flavor. Call me a Knitting Heretic, but I think knitting is all about breaking the "rules," not limiting oneself to Vintage Purls and Garter Knit stitches. Break free! Knit on the net! Get stitched on the farm! Ravel it!

Hey, I'm not your Crazy Aunt Purl. I'm not even a woman possessed. Maybe someday I'll stash and burn.

But not today. I have knitting to do.

Phases of parenthood

When I was growing up, the phrase I hated to hear most was, "You're just going through a phase." It just anted up the inner hormonal rage even further.

I'm trying very, very hard not to say the same thing.

However, lately I've noticed another inheritance from childhood that's slinking its way through memory and out of my mouth. Suddenly, I'm commenting on the differences between my children. To them.

Bad, bad, bad. Henceforth, that stops right now.

Back to those infamous growing phases.

I have now experienced several of the parenting phases that my "already been there" friends have so gracefully weathered without patronizing me as I followed along. As a result, I wince regularly at my naivete, over-abundance of concern, and silly focus on events of transitory importance.

To whit:

  • The all-consuming involvement in every breath, movement, and feeling of your baby, toddler, and preschooler. The minutiae of my child's life absorbed me completely. I talked about every drip, grin, and signs of genius/delay ad nauseum with friends who had children of the same age, consulted with the teacher/caregiver involved, and checked in with favorite web-based parent groups and experts.
  • FEAR OF KINDERGARTEN. Hoo, boy. The last year in preschool wasn't about growth for my child. It was about that scary first day of kindergarten. The whole private-vs-public school, educational philosophy, red shirted boys, summer birthday, and emotional/cognitive readiness debate dominated every single waking moment. Now, with 10- and 15-year-olds sunnily making their way through upper grades, I realize just how much I overreacted.
  • GRADES: if my genius kids didn't make straight A's, something was wrong with my parenting. I needed to let them fail in elementary school, when it could be a true learning experience. Even more important, it could be THEIR learning experience.
  • Impatience with the playground, play groups, pool, etc. I really shortchanged my children. I got bored quickly and we rarely stayed more than 15-20 minutes. If only I'd had knitting . . .

Yeah, I've been overdoing things a bit. I need to relax, keep the reins in hand, but not hold them quite so tightly.

I guess it's just one more phase I'm going through.

Some day, when I'm all grown up, I'm sure I'll laugh about this. When I'm not wincing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What's that you're doing there?

"Hi! What am I doing? I'm knitting . . . it's a sock/shawl/sweater/purse. Actually, crochet is one needle - knitting is two needles.

"Oh, thank you. I do love this yarn. It's a lot of fun to work with.

"No, I don't spend hours and hours on this. Actually, I have just these few minutes to knit. It helps pass the time while I'm waiting for the ______. The rest of the day is just too hectic."

"Your grandmother knitted? And you never could get the hang of it or spare the time? Well, isn't that something.

"No, it really isn't hard to learn. It took me a few minutes to understand the basic stitch, then I made several scarves until I felt comfortable with the hand movements.

"Yes, it is amazing how many younger people are knitting these days. As well as more seasoned people like me. Thank you! I'm glad I don't look my age. ahem.

"I think knitting is popular because so many people have a longing for the basics, to making something by hand that's both functional and artistic.

"Oh, I'm not a natural. Believe me! I've been playing with yarn for a few years now, and I'm still learning!

"You saw something just like this at the mall? I see! Yes, hand-made takes more time and effort. Personally, I don't knit because I can't find something in a store or because it's a form of artistic expression.

"I started knitting because I needed something to do with my hands during long days and nights with my son in ICU. Thank you. He's doing really well right now.

"I continued knitting because I was scared and it was better to be productive than to fret aimlessly. I found solace and calm in counting rows, focusing on yarn-overs and double-decreases, and keeping rows untwisted around four double-point needles. I knit today because of the magic that comes from knits and purls and colors and textures slowly evolving into something I can give away or wear.

"Nothing I knit is perfect. But it sure is satisfying.

"It was nice to meet you."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Go figure.

Having a blog is FUN. Here, I can rant and wonder to my heart's content. As long, of course, as I do not embarrass Significant Others and people I run into every day. Boy, is that hard, since many of the imponderables of my life are tied to the people in it.

Today, I'm indulging in a bit of introspection.

1. WHY do I run out of yarn in the middle of a row, despite carefully checking how much is left each time I turn - and then forgetting that one time I keep going anyway?

2. WHY is my cable bill going up when the reception is getting so much worse? (Gee, that looks like satellite junk, not a bad cable, guys.)

3. WHEN did "ma'am" become a curse word? (Big box cashier: "This lane is closing, MA'AM." Tax office clerk: "MA'AM, that's our policy." Ice cream shop dude: "It's time for my break. MA'AM? Can you go to the other line?" I'm pretty sure they don't mean MA'AM.

4. WHEN did dogs start wearing more outfits than the children? A recent visitor from Africa was astonished to see pet clothes, pet toys, and pet treats in the local big box store. In her village, a toy or a new outfit is a rare gift indeed . . . for the children.

5. WHY are so many patterns knitted in fabulous, one-of-a-kind yarns that the average knitter has no hope of finding, let alone affording?

6. WHY do my kids finally want to have a heart-to-heart with me about something that's bothered them for DAYS . . . right at the climax of a show I'm watching (after not having watched anything from beginning to end for weeks)? Good thing PBS repeats its Britcoms ad infinitum.

7. WHY did WebVan have to mismanage its growth and shut down? I absolutely, positively, unconditionally loved their grocery home delivery service. We ate healthier and my shelves had far fewer un-necessities. There simply isn't anything like it in Atlanta anymore.

8. WHY do people call children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses "heroic" and "inspiring"? They're children and they have no choice but to live through their challenges. Instead, call them "cherished," do something to distract them, even if momentarily, from their daily pain and fear, and pray for good health.

9. WHO thinks tissue thin shirts are a good idea for anyone who isn't anorexic?

10. WHEN did steel plates become an acceptable alternative to patching and paving potholes? (If you live in Metro Atlanta, you totally get this.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Special delivery

Each Spring, my son's Scout troop has its major fundraiser: selling and delivering pine straw. It's very popular in Dunwoody and a terrific project for the boys. They easily fill two large moving trucks with bales and spend an entire Saturday making their deliveries on well-orchestrated routes. It's exhausting, filthy work and they really get into it.

For two years now, the guys have added a special tradition to the fundraiser. When they get to our house (and they make sure T isn't one of the parent drivers for that route), they get a little . . . creative . . . in their delivery.

Hence, I arrive home to these imaginative delivery spots. Those bales in the tree are better than 8 feet off the ground, so I'm sure a couple of the taller Scouts had some special fun. I certainly did, trying to get them down.

Males between the ages of 11 and 17 are amazingly creative when it comes to monkeyshines. And lest you think they're working unsupervised, I have photographic evidence that adults were not only aiding, but gleefully abetting.

The this year's Pine Straw Fundraising project has just begun.

Can't wait to see where my straw lands this year.

Unexpected blessings

Today's Scout Sunday service went off without a hitch, despite 20-degree temps, snow on the ground, occasional patches of ice and an incorrect notice on the local news that the entire service had been canceled. Oops.

So many things made the morning extra special. Crisp blue skies, snow still on the ground and frigid air just made the sanctuary all the cozier. A founding member of our church celebrated her 100th birthday. Our knitting circle presented her with a prayer shawl and the congregation rang the rafters with an ovation. Six babies and children were baptized. A large contingent of Troop 764 scouts, leaders, and parents led and participated in the service. Nearly every boy who'd volunteered was there. The weather and three-day weekend were great excuses to opt out, but they proudly served.

While I've been thinking about the next knitting projects in the queue, KA, who is a member of our church knitting circle and chair of the Outreach committee, has been thinking selflessly about the needs of others. The homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta needs caps and scarves immediately. I'd just finished a prayer shawl and turned it in, so now I'm setting aside Jaywalker for a couple of weeks while I whip up some warmth in manly colors.

Tomorrow is T's birthday (one of those epochal decade markers), but he's traveling on business. The kids and I are taking him out for lunch today and celebrating with cake and presents this evening. He loves German Chocolate cake - the house is going to smell really good this afternoon!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow in Atlanta and other oddness

I know everyone laughs at Southerners and the way we react to even a dusting of snow. Sure, we go overboard. But snow is so rare here that it's worthy of our undivided attention. We like to imagine we'll be housebound for DAYS, so we stock up on unnecessary foodstuffs. We act like an inch of snow on the ground is plenty of support for the sleds we optimistically purchase and keep stored in the basement for years on end. And we pile the fireplace full of logs, sit back and enjoy the unique pleasure that is snow in the South.

Check out our house! There's a sight we don't see every year. I like the pattern the snow makes on our front mat. Hmm . . . is there a knitting pattern here?

I made a batch of beignets for the guys this morning. A and his best friend are playing video games and will head out shortly to try the sled on the hill near the house (our neighborhood is very hilly - houses perch high above the street on one side and the ground slopes sharply down to a creek on the other). AG spent the night with her BF D and is reported to be happily freezing her tushy off.

The only worry on the horizon is Scout Sunday tomorrow at St. Luke's. A and his troop are supposed to participate in the service, covering everything from prayers and Scripture readings to a flag ceremony and overview of the year's accomplishments. But we're not sure yet if all this pretty snow will turn to ice overnight. I don't care where in the country you live. Ice isn't a good thing to drive on. I just talked to the parent coordinator and assured her we'd be there regardless - one of the many benefits of living just a few blocks from the church. My guy can take multiple roles in the service to help cover for boys who can't make it.

I'm finishing a prayer shawl and will switch to my Jaywalkers shortly. The first sock is almost to the heel part, so it's moving along very well. I really like the yarn - it has a nice feel to it and the striping is fun. It seems to express the Jaywalker pattern perfectly. I'm making the upper portion a bit longer to suit my longer legs.

Back to the snow. I'm going to enjoy every single moment of it because Southern snows are just too fleeting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday night knitting

Ahh, Friday night. My daughter is spending the night with her BF D (and hoping, hoping, hoping that the forecasted snow actually hits the ground enough for sledding!), my son is munching on a hot dog and prepping for an evening of gaming on his Wii, and my poor husband is still at work. I'm going to put my feet up, work on the prayer shawl, and try to stay awake for TLC's Miss America reality show.

I am completely focused on Miss Virginia. She's the sweet baby who entered the world about the time T and I were married, blossomed as a ballerina through years of arduous practice, committed herself completely and faithfully to God, and is now fulfilling the aspirations of her parents and their friends: a happy, wonderful, genuine, focused-on-what-matters-most young lady. I am so completely proud of Hannah Martine Kiefer!

I have sent many prayers her way, and now she's in the hands of God and her own common sense. I do not care for the over-dramatization of the TLC show (please . . . why do they think they're the end-all and be-all of what's best for these girls?). But I love the way Hannah has stayed true to her values. Favorite bit from last week: one of the girls was scared of jumping into the pool. Hannah hugged her, rubbed her arm, and supported her unselfishly. She has neither sought the cameras nor her own limelight. I love that girl!

Hannah Kiefer, Miss Virginia. She's dear to my heart because of what's in her heart.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

So, what's the blog today?

My daughter asked. Just as inspiration was striking, she peered over my shoulder to see what I was writing. This whole blog thing has her fascinated. As a truly gifted writer in her own right (those are her teachers' words, not just mine!), she's very curious about the process of writing and all the ways writing gets into the reader's hands. I foresee a blog by her one day very soon . . .

Meanwhile, what's the blog today?

I was thinking about the difference between originality and creativity today. There is a difference. In the knitting world, originality is sometimes random, oftentimes scarce. It's a burst of genius that comes from lots and lots and lots of effort, imagination, and risk-taking. Creativity comes more frequently, whether in the colorways a knitter chooses to express a design or the reinterpretation of a concept.

I've been following the Annie Modesitt's pursuit of fair compensation and recognition as a knitwear designer. You go, girl! Certainly, a designer deserves far more compensation than the current "standard." Publishers of knitting magazines and yarn manufacturers have fairly narrow profit margins because their audience is relatively small (compared, for example, to a Better Homes & Gardens or Real Simple, which have broad appeal, larger circulations, and deeper pockets). So they have to watch their costs. Yet they'd be nowhere without the designers' efforts, which are the reason knitters buy the magazines and design booklets in the first place.

And there should be a definite hierarchy of compensation. Genuine originality warrants higher compensation. Check out Ravelry. The top 10 designs now underway by thousands of knitters include FREE designs! Jaywalker, for example - will Grumperina continue designing out of the goodness of her heart? Are the paid designers getting the royalties they deserve?

I sure hope so. Because knitting designers have a direct impact on the quality of my knitting and my satisfaction in the craft.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The 10,000 mark

I am flabbergasted. Bemused. And downright happy. Since I started Knitternall around Thanksgiving, 10,000 visitors have stopped by. Thank you! I love having company. I get such a thrill when family comes to stay or a gathering of friends and neighbors is looming. The anticipation . . . the planning . . . the sheer wonderfulness of people coming to my home is magical. This blog gives me the same feeling.

If only I could serve you some tasty treats and have a cozy chat. There are no virtual substitutes for refreshments . . . gonna have to work on that!

Of course, the blog doesn't need dusting and vacuuming, and I don't have to tidy the kids' things or make sure the bathrooms are spic and span. So even though my workstation is surrounded by clutter and piles of to-do's, the blog always looks fine. Yay, blog!

Thank you for spending some time with me. Ya'll come back now, you hear?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Never mind.

Ever gotten a head of steam going over something . . . that turned out to be nothing? When I was in college, SNL's Gilda Radner had a schtick where she'd go completely off-kilter over something during the faux news bit. Jane Curtin clarified, and Gilda ended her commentary with, "Never mind."

Yeah, I went to college in the 70's.

Anyway, I had checked my son's grades online and started yelling as soon as I saw a horrifying 34 on a quiz. He'd just rolled out of bed (I take no prisoners when it comes to grades) and could barely focus. He leaned over my shoulder, squinted, and said, "that's a 97, Mom." Big gusty sigh. Oh. The 34 was in the quintile column.

Never mind.

I like to point out to my kids as often as possible that I'm not perfect so they don't leave me on a pedestal. It would be dreadful if they went through their teen years thinking I'm always right. Hey - it's my job to give them plenty of fodder for lunch-time conversation with friends.

So, "Never mind," my dears. Enjoy yet one more example that your mom is losing it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The little things can make or break your day.

I'm organized? It just looks that way. Somehow I manage to stay on top of things. Except when I'm not.

1. "Control-z." It undoes whatever you just did on the computer. It's fast. It's fearless. And it's way better than point, select the delete or clear option, and click.

2. Run errands between 10 am and 3pm. In Atlanta, it's the only way you can do anything in a reasonable amount of time. If you live here, you understand.

3. Savor a quiet hour early in the morning before the kids get up and the workday officially starts. Wow. Can I get a ton of things done in just one hour.

4. Keep a small pencil pouch with knitting essentials, one for each knitting bag: counter, tapestry needle, miniature scissors, cable needle, markers, crochet hook, and measuring tape. These inexpensive items can stop a project cold, so I want to make sure I always have what I need.

5. An internet-accessible calendar reminds me of upcoming appoints THE DAY BEFORE. Let's see . . . three jobs, two kids, multiple volunteer projects, and my own occasional appointments. Whew.

6. Clean what you can see. My house stays pretty neat, but it isn't necessarily spic and span.

7. I spend a lot of time in waiting rooms, carpool lines, music studios, and bleachers. At least one of my works in progress is always portable so the time passes peacefully.

8. Never, never, never mention that you have some free time. That's just asking for bad karma.

9. Sleep! If I'm not drifting off by 11, I take one Tylenol PM or a half dose of Nyquil. Sounds gross, but my doc said it can't hurt and it puts me right out. I can't focus or function the next day if I don't get those super seven hours.

10. Knitting blogs: bless you all for helping me when I get stuck. Somewhere in your archives is exactly the information or hint I'm looking for, and it's just a Google away!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Prayerfully knitting

T and I attended a reception last night, where the guests included many very special people. The "business" of the reception was church-related, and the bevy of kindred spirits made made it especially nice. KK, the dear lady who taught me to knit, attended, despite significant health challenges. (Her philosophy: "it could be worse, so here I am." I want to be KK when I grow up.) KM, an energetic and creative knitter who heads up Outreach at our church, shared a new "recipe" for a prayer shawl.

The challenge with knitting for charity is that, over time, the purpose behind the knitting can be so saddening. So I like to mix up my projects, layettes stillborn here, prayer shawls filled with hope and, now, caps for the homeless. This latter idea comes from KM, and it's a terrific one. The shawls and caps make wonderful use of stash and remnant yarns.

What I really like about prayer shawls is they fill that desire to do "something." In the midst of pain or need, at least you can give someone a tangible hug, prayed over through its creation, and given with love. Most of the time, I don't know who's getting the prayer shawls I knit because anyone in the church can go into the closet where we keep them and take one to give. No questions, no strings attached.

I'm casting on a new prayer shawl this afternoon once everything is ready for our senior high youth group's Progressive Dinner. We're hosting the main course stop. Steak and pineapple kabobs are ready for the grill, potatoes are oiled and wrapped so they can go in the oven, and the tables are all set. It'll be a fun evening for all of us!

God, help me to remember to be more Mary than Martha as I prepare for the youth coming to our home. And let the prayer shawl I begin carry your grace through me and to the one You know needs it most.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

More than a haircut

About a month ago, AG said she wanted to cut her hair. Her gorgeous, multi-hued, long red hair. She'd been growing it for a few years in preparation for Middle School and all-things-tween. So I told her to wait - let's see if this is an impulse or really what you want to do.

In the spirit of reasoned debate, I pointed out:

  • Long hair is "the look" for tweens and teens.
  • You've been growing it for more than 3 years.
  • You won't be able to wear a pony tail or a messy bun (both of her favorite styles).
  • It's not long enough for Locks of Love.

My daughter is nothing if not determined. This kid knows her mind better than any adult I know. She doesn't care what the crowd is doing (particularly the Queen Bees and their courts) and she can always grow it again. I really admire this about her.

Somewhere along the line, her BF D joined the game. Both wanted haircuts, and both wanted them at the same time.

After careful consultation between moms, we made a weekend of it. D spent the night, we got up this morning, and breakfasted at Panera Bread. Then we dropped in at Azima here in Dunwoody, my fave place to get my own hair cut because they do really good work, charge reasonable prices, and TAKE WALK-INS.

(Sure, Great Cuts does the same thing, but that's a newbie factory. Azima is much, much better than that. I never have a hair appointment because I can't plan that far ahead.)

Both girls were taken at the same time. No wincing, no gulps.

And they look wonderful. Nice jaw-line blunt cuts, with bangs for D and without for AG.

Of course, there's a knitting connection. I worked on Jaywalker (MagKnits) while both girls enjoyed their pampering. The first sock is coming along very well. The pattern is easily memorized and I'm in the leg portion, so it's as close to mindless knitting as it gets.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Random thoughts on knitting, Dunwoody, and Queen Bees

It's been a busy week of constant hat-changing. I've published the workbook for the next Preschool Phonics classes, conferenced with AG's teachers, thought about the main course for my son's church youth group Progressive Dinner coming up on Sunday, and, of course, blogged.

Out of all that frenetic activity have come some random thoughts.

1. After road-knitting for 12 hours last weekend, I needed a break. I've discovered my passion for knitting doesn't lessen just because I take a periodic breather. It just gets more savory.

2. The Queen Bees have emerged! Their circles are busy, busy, busy with long hair, appropriate clothing, and a constantly changing list of "dos" and "don'ts." It's fascinating to watch the queens use their power. Ah, but if it were only for good.

3. Crohn's Disease is one of those pervasive genetic disorders that seem to affect every possible body process. On the other hand, it's all too easy to dismiss something new as Crohn's related. We're still learning how my son's disease works. And just when we think we know, it evolves.

4. I snore. There, I admitted it. I can't believe I do it and there's not a darned thing I can do to stop it. Sigh.

5. I love managing the Nature Center's web site. Want to see it? It's at I took a DreamWeaver class to get me up to speed, and it's been a joy ever since. I'm far from being able to design a site from scratch (the center's site was created by a very talented web designer), but this part of my morning job is definitely keeping me in the loop web-wise.

6. Berroco's new web site design is really good. And Norah Gaughan's latest design is cool. The short-sleeve sweater has an intriguing circular design that radiates out beneath the sleeves. Definitely thinking about knitting it.

7. I'd love to own a knitting shop right here in Dunwoody. But I don't have the business acumen and that's absolutely essential. It's one thing to love all things knitting. It's another to run a business.

That's enough for one day. On to my morning job!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Dunwoody glow worm

Our town newspaper, the Dunwoody Crier, has a delightful new column by Cathy Cobbs. She calls her news items "cobb-lets," and they're a fun mix of vents, questions, and insights about daily life in our corner of the county.

I emailed to her AG's query, regarding a glow worm nest sighted early in the morning darkness, en route to school.

Glow worm nest? There are glow worms? And they have nests?

She claimed the nest was high in the trees behind a house. As any reasonable, rational parent would, I told her it was likely a street light or the homeowner's floodlight. No, she insisted. This is a NEST. And it's too HIGH to be a light.

So I drove her to school so she could show me.

It looks like a nest. All puffy and eerily glowing in the dark. It's huge, about a foot or more in length. It's high up in the tree, much higher than a street light. And it looks like a caterpillar's cocoon. "See, Mom? It's a glow worm nest!"

We sent AG's find to the Crier to see what's up (literally). Logically, it's something very ordinary. But it sure looks cool.

And why not indulge a ten-year-old's quest for the extraordinary?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Where no knitter has gone before . . .

Knitting Daily's challenge to indulge in some "fearless knitting" has me thinking. Each new technique I learn leads to explorations in new expressions.

So, I'm thinking logically today, putting some of my segues into one of those cause and effect exercises that are the bane of SAT-takers everywhere.

  • Son in ICU > a friend with knitting needles and yarn in hand > middle of the night knitting > grace!
  • Modular knitting class > Ojo de Dios Vest > TriMiters
  • A friend's sassy felted clutch >learning how to felt > 20 clutches knitted, felted, and given as gifts to teachers and friends
  • Cabled wool machine-knit handbag in the Nordstrom Catalog for $180 > "oh, please, I can do that!" > learning how to knit cables > my own cabled handbag > oohs and aahs
  • Jaywalker > desire to knit socks > learning how to use double points > my first pair of socks!
  • LYS sale bins > huge stash > prayer shawls mixing gauges and textures > beauty shared
So what where will I put the fearless into my knitting? Stranding colors! I'll try something small, like socks or a hat sometime in the next few months. We'll see where it goes from there. I'd also like to design a sweater or wrap - that'll be fearless, indeed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'm a morning person

Why are people with opposing internal clocks drawn to each other? I'm a morning person, rarin' to go at six in the morning. Some members of my family are night owls, unable to say anything coherent until 10 AM. I chatter merrily away with the birds chirping at the sunrise while the rest of the family is just getting wound up with sundown.

The downside of all that morning alertness for me is the crash and burn around 9 PM. I need at least seven hours of sleep to function well, and I fade fast.

So, the bit of knitting I can work in between dinner and bedtime is sacrosanct.

My Family's Favorite Ways To Interrupt Sacrosanct Knitting Time
  1. The dog has to go to the bathroom.
  2. People need me to find something they've spent all of 30 seconds seeking and that is staring them in the face.
  3. The phone rings. We do not like to answer the phone at night. After some arguing back and forth over who will answer the phone, it goes to message.
  4. The dog has to go to the bathroom again.
  5. One of the kids needs me to see something on the computer (we screen their computer time pretty aggressively, so they're well trained to show us any new web site they want to visit).
  6. There's no TP in whichever bathroom someone is using.
  7. The dryer buzzer goes off.
  8. The dog has to go outside to bark at a squirrel, but he makes "go to the bathroom" barks to fool me.
  9. Telemarketers call. Despite answering machine, it's still a disruption.
  10. The dog has to go outside because this is the most fun game of his day.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Road trip to Greensboro, NC

We visited friends and family in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend, spending some wonderful time over terrific food . . . so much food . . . too much food! Wow, can my sister-in-law COOK.

I worked on the Stars project I'm designing and stopped by LYS Yarns Etc. on Elm Street in downtown Greensboro. It's one of my faves for its very nice selection of European yarns and amazing spinning section. Spinning wheels, raw wool, dyed roving, felting boards, and more take up half the floor space in the shop. The look is thrifty (I don't think they did anything after renting the space but put a sign on the door), but the yarns and supplies are wonderful and the prices are surprisingly reasonable, considering the high-end brands.

A nice guy with a beard was relaxing on one of the shop's seen-better-days chairs, chatting with a few knitters. But he welcomed me cheerfully and pointed me to some new stock they'd received.

Which reminds me of T's experience with an Atlanta LYS when he was shopping for my Christmas present. The guy knows nothing about knitting other than that it's occupying WAY too much of my time (in his mind - not mine, of course!). But he gamely decided to obtain a ball winder AND swift. He remembered my frequent visits to Cast-On Cottage, so he started there. They didn't have both items, so they very nicely called around to other LYS and found one (not to be named here) that could help. (Note: I love Cast-On Cottage!)

HOWEVER, it was 4:30. The shop would close at 5. T raced the 30 minutes from Cast-On Cottage, heading down 400 and racing to beat the clock. He arrived a breathless 5 minutes before closing time.

His greeting? Very grumpy shop-persons, who made sure he understood just how irritated they were that he was shopping so close to their "gettin' off time." Lots of huffing and eye-rolling. He made his expensive purchase and got a belligerent thank-you in return.

I'm thinking about returning the thing I wanted so much because the price was too dear. And I'm not talking about the sticker price. I suggested as much to T, but he knows how much I wanted it and is all "mighty hunter fight big-time for woman" so the LYS is getting more than it deserves.

LYS Alert: if a big guy comes in, clearly doesn't know what he's looking for, but is ready to drop mega-bucks on a knitting tool he neither understands nor appreciates, would you PLEASE give him some validation? I'm betting this is the last time T will step into a LYS. Thanks ever so much!

Five Projects I'm Working On This Month
  1. Mukluks for AG from Folk Style by Mags Kandis using Patons Classic Merino Wool in turquoise with pink, purple, and chartreuse embroidered accents.
  2. Jaywalker socks.
  3. "The Stars Project" - more to come on that in the near future.
  4. Ballband Dishcloth to replace the one I wore out (it lasted a really, really long time!).
  5. Prayer shawl - multi-textural design using a bunch of stash remnants in cream and brown.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What to do with 10+ oddballs of diverse ivory and cream yarns

The title says it all. I was enthralled by Patricia Werner's Dazzling Knits: Building Blocks to Creative Knitting. I made the Ojo de Dios Vest with stash yarns in a dizzying array of brilliant colors, tied together with black in each block and in the trim.

Then I thought . . . how luscious the Pyramid Jacket would look in shades of ivory and cream. A variety of yarns and textures, from thick to thin, silk to wool. I had about ten or so leftovers from other projects - why not make good use of stash remnants?

Eureka! I replaced the designer's collar design with Sawtooth Antique edging from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge. The points seemed to be a good complement to the pointed edge around the waist. I also single-crocheted an edge around the entire jacket with the same ivory wool as the collar. The result is much more spectacular worn than posing on the little chair that perches by my computer. I've worn it for holiday parties, church services, and the last class I taught before the break, which makes my Pyramid Jacket the ultimate work-to-evening choice in my winter closet. I dress it up with a satin ivory blouse and make it casual with a cream turtleneck. Wonderful!

One enjoyable aspect of the knitting for this project was the "one triangle at a time" progress. I could always start and finish a triangle without losing count, track of the pattern, or patience. Seaming was practically irrelevant (you seam as you go). I highly recommend this pattern and project.

TriMiters Update
I'm getting tingles every time I open my email. There have been a kazillion emails about TriMiters - first because I goofed and added a period at the end of the link when I posted on the KnitList group, and then, joyfully, because knitters like it. The talented and very busy knitter behind the Owl Knits podcast is going to make it and let me know what she thinks! Now I'm waiting to get feedback on the directions. I tried really hard to make them clear and logical and will certainly clarify any murkiness.

I'm working on a new design right now, based on mitered stars. It's a quick knit, but I think it'll be very special. More to come on that . . .