Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Words that speak too loudly

I found this "newly coined" phrase:

daughter track n. A career path where a woman reduces her chances of advancement by working flextime or fewer hours to look after her elderly parents.

A Google search for something else entirely led me to wordspy,
a web site "devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases. These aren't "stunt words" or "sniglets," but new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources."

Okay, then. I could riff on "daughter track" for pages and pages, but I think utter disgust - and sadness - precludes any rational discourse.

It's interesting to see there are now words for life-as-we-know-it. For example, I've long been a resident of "nerddom," my children are "digital natives," I'm afraid I tend towards "videophilia" during the few moments each week when I don't have a thousand commitments, and I'm praying really hard that "eICU" doesn't become the norm in this country.

By the way, a search for the word "knit" resulted in "cuddle puddle," a highly entertaining image that linguistically doesn't really apply to knitting, but does suggest the feeling I get when I'm knitting with kindred spirits.

I'd like to propose a new phrase, one that captures the essence of my favorite knitting spot:

all mine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Would you rather run out of yarn or frog an entire project?

My daughter is fond of a game which asks players to choose between two perverse choices. For example, "Would You Rather have your grandmother's hair style or hair growing on the outside of your nose and ears?" Hmmm. . . . Neither choice is palatable, but you're supposed to choose anyway. This leads to the kind of meandering discussion my daughter enjoys. On the other hand, my son refuses to play and simply says, "Neither."

So I'm thinking about the choices knitters make.

  • Would you rather run out of irreplaceable yarn right at the end of the second sleeve of a sweater or frog an entire project because you goofed a repeat someplace near the beginning?
  • Would you rather leave a WIP in a taxi or accidentally pull a needle out of an intricate, 120-stitch lace pattern?
  • Would you rather have six different single socks completed (no mates yet) or try to learn a complicated technique by reading instructions with no pictures?
  • Would you rather knit with cheap, rough acrylic yarn in outdated colors or be limited to a $50 budget for yarn purchases each year?
  • Would you rather knit the same pattern over and over and over again for all eternity or never be allowed to knit ever again?
  • Would you rather be heckled while you knit (what's that? are you crocheting? you can buy that at Target) or knit in the dark?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Knitty gifties!

Wow. One of my favorite blogs, Knitty, has just hit 50 million visitors. To celebrate, Amy Singer is holding an amazing contest. If you're a subscriber, you're entered! Check out the largess at

I finished Hot Cotton. Not so hot results, but I'm thinking about a deliberate shrinking to see if I can reduce some of the bagginess in the back area. I'll post a pix if I like the results. I cast on a mitered square Prayer Shawl using the Bernat Sox I picked up at Goodwill. It's my carpool project, so it'll be hit-and-miss for the next few weeks. (I like a memorized, easy to handle pattern for carpool and waiting rooms. Who wants to try to remember repeats and decreases/increases when you have to drop a project at a second's notice?.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just when you think you've seen everything knitted . . .

Click TangleGirl sent me this link and it's proof that some knitters have way too much time to play with yarn. Absolutely hysterical.

It's been a busy week in my corner of the universe.
  • The DeKalb County School System decided to turn a planned elementary school into a 4th and 5th grade academy - maybe good in the long run, but horrible in the short run as the schools turn into trailered parking lots. This just delays construction, allows even more multi-family housing to flood Austin Elementary School, and turns us all into ping-pong balls.
  • The City of Dunwoody iniative is rolling towards voting day July 15.
  • The new girls' softball fields at Murphy Candler are tantalizingly close to completion, except for grass. We're watching it grow. It has to be green before the girls can play on it. Funny thing is that we've never had grass to play on, so the girls think a grassy outfield is a novelty.
  • I've begun marketing seminars to preschool directors so I can teach their teachers how to teach Preschool Phonics to preschoolers. Try to say that out loud without stammering.
  • I just finished registration for next fall's Preschool Phonics classes. All the spots were filled in 24 hours.
  • I have several private knitting lessons scheduled in the next week or so.

Hmmm . . .

Somewhere in all that overachievement, I finished all the pieces of the White Hot Cardigan and have cast on a lacy edge treatment for the bottom. I don't like the rolled edge of the stockinette field, so I'm laying it down with edging. I'll let the sleeves roll - that looks fine. I'd like to wear it this weekend, so I'm on a mission. AG has softball practice Friday evening and a game Saturday, so I'm sure I'll be sewing together all the pieces by Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reveling in Ravelry

I was checking in with my favorite knitting blogs this morning. What happened to MagKnits? Googling didn't help beyond a few tantalizing blog hints, so I went to Ravelry. Sure enough, there was an extensive forum devoted to the demise of MagKnits and the impact on designers who'd contributed to the four-year-old web site as well as knitters who were caught in medias res on many projects. MagKnits gave me Jaywalker and Lemonade, two free patterns I really enjoyed working. (Thankfully, the designers retained ownership of their work, which is now showing up on Ravelry.) There may yet be another rendition of MagKnits in the future, but for now, the "closed" sign is up via an error message.

Well, darn.

Just like the local yarn shop (LYS), knitting web sites open and close with the vagaries of supply and demand as well as the business acumen and personal flexibility of their owners.

We knitters have grown amazingly dependent on the internet for knitting info, patterns, and chat. Just ten years ago, a few knitting magazines, flyers from individual yarn makers, and a LYS were the best (and only) resources for patterns. Now we can consult Ravelry, Knitting Pattern Central, DROPS, KnittyChick, and Daily Knitter . . . these and more place vast libraries of patterns at our fingertips via the internet. If we live miles away from a well stocked and imaginative LYS like Knitch, we can still converse, learn, and share with kindred spirits via blogs, Ravelry, and knitting rings.

Who says knitting is old school? Our craft bridges the old and new worlds with breathtaking flexibility.

I have an extensive library of patterns purchased at LYS in the area as well as downloaded for a fee from ChicKnits and Ravelry. To "pay it forward" to the knitting community, I have placed a few free patterns on this blog and plan to add several more in the near future.

Back to the White Hot Cardigan. Just one sleeve to go!

Friday, April 11, 2008

White Hot at the Atlanta Zoo

I'm hot, coated in pollen, and sipping a Coke Zero as I post. It's been a busy day and it's not even 4:00!

The morning started early with the weekly Friday morning breakfast at Olde Hickory House with T, then a trip to the Atlanta Zoo with AG and her BFF D. We hit the gates right at opening time and wandered the park as it just started filling. By the time we finished, at noon, the park was packed and groups were arriving by the bus-load. Perfect timing, all around.

The animals were very active, munching on their morning meals and ignoring the bombardment of squeals and parent directives: "Olivia, look at that meerkat! Harrison, see the otters! That's an elephant, Amy!" by the parents. Why do we DO that? I could hear echoes of myself in the parents' relentless directions to their children. "Look at that! Read this! You're missing it!" We're so desperate to have our children fully appreciate each experience that we direct their attention rather than let them discover and explore for themselves. My daughter would have been happy to stare at the tigers for an hour if I'd let her. I wish I had! Now, I appreciate the value of lingering and am happy to sit on a bench while she studies a particular animal.

It helps if I have knitting in hand - that always makes me much more patient.

Today, I toted White Hot, a cardigan pattern I've had for awhile but just recently found the perfect yarn to knit it. It first appeared in Family Circle's Easy Knitting in 2000, then again in Family Circle Easy Sweaters: 50 Knit and Crochet Projects by Trisha Malcolm.

Instead of the Berroco Cotton Twist the pattern recommends, I'm using some vintage Columbia-Minerva Cancun Cotton, which I paid $1 a skein for during my recent visit to the Most Excellent Stash Sale in Atlanta. (She's in Craig's List!) I had to switch to size 5 needles and use the directions for the smallest size to create the large I really need. (Funny how gauges can work.) I'm not adding the beads because they tend to stain white yarn, even during hand washing. Instead, I'm thinking about a Nicky Epstein edge for the bottom and sleeves.

I dropped off the girls at D's house so they could explore Wildcat Creek, which runs through the neighborhood. They'll get wet and grimy and be absolutely delighted. (Note to Dunwoody townies - did you know DHS' team name comes from the creek? And not vice versa?) Then I hit Publix for weekend essentials. I ran into Bobbi and Pat, two of the Nature Center's dedicated volunteers. One is all about worms and the other keeps us in crickets. Our compost demonstration area and Dottie the Newt thank them very much.

Just two more days of Spring Break left. Sigh.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring break, cleaning, and knitting

This week is Spring Break for AG and AM. Since AM had a Remicade treatment scheduled Monday, we stayed in town (we never know whether he'll take the treatment well or be wiped out for awhile). Monday was pretty much Remicade Day, with AG and I waiting in the tiny airless waiting area and AM getting his three hours of infusion. (Our fearless leader and nurse extraordinaire Cathy came breezing in shortly after the infusion started with her latest load of munchies from Costco. The lab always has a tray of snacks for the kids. Crohn's is all about stoking the body with enough fuel to keep going - most of it doesn't stay in the system long enough to do any good.)

Tuesday was sleep-in day for the kids while I started on a long-deferred project: clearing out, de-cluttering, and organizing the basement storage area. They awakened in time to haul stuff to the curb.


The pile by the curb was embarrassingly huge - and those were the rejects. We took a load to Goodwill as well (my favorite treasure-hunting place). I HAD to check the household area. A few weeks ago I scored a huge bag of fuzzy Patons Divine in an assortment of pinks, purples, creams and grays for just $4. So I made 2 prayer shawls, one in purples and pinks, and the other in white and pastels (for a mom in the neonatal ICU).

Purple Prayer Shawl Pattern:

  • 4 Balls Patons Divine in Light Pink, Dark Pink, Purple, and Cream
  • Size 13 circular needles
  • Finished size: 18" deep x 68" wide (without fringe)
    This is a self-fringing pattern in that you break the yarn at the end of each row of knitting. By tying two ends together, you add fringe as you knit.

    Cast on 120 stitches on size 13 needles loosely, using long tail method. Knit across. At end of row, break yarn, approximately 9" from edge of shawl. Insert needle into first stitch (preparing to knit across the next row), carefully looping yarn as if to start a new ball. Leave 9" tail. Tie strand to previous strand. Knit across.

    Continue knitting in garter stitch, adding new colors on the right side as you stripe in any pattern you like.

    Knit until shawl is approximately 18" or more deep. Trim fringe so it's even (I trimmed this one about 6-7").

    During this most recent visit, ostensibly JUST to drop off those donated goods, I scored another bag of yarn: 8 balls of Bernat Sox in a cheerful rainbow of pink, teal, line, brown, and orange for $3. That's enough to create a mitered square prayer shawl, the next design I'll put together. When yarn just falls in my lap, it seems meant for a prayer shawl!

    Wednesday was the day of the Big Reveal. I redid AG's bedroom, taking out one of the twin beds and making it more tween-friendly for her gatherings. We found a huge butterfly chair with a deep, feathery cover that she proclaimed "yummy" for her room. AG and BFF D were playing Dance Revolution on the Wii in the basement rec room while I worked. When I was finished, I called them up for the Big Reveal. Squeals and a prompt slamming of the door in my face after a heartfelt "Thanks, Mom!" were proof of the successful results.

    Today is all about fun. The weather is beautiful, the temp warm enough for shorts, and we're headed to the Island Ford part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area nearby. It's just a ten-minute drive, but it feels like the middle of a natural nowhere. We'll picnic, take a hike along the river, and then go to a movie (Nim's Island).

    Tomorrow, we'll head to the Atlanta Zoo.

    Happy Spring Break!

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    I wish I had time to knit . . .

    Stephanie Pearl-McPhee rocks! I was one of 700 lucky knitters who packed the Milan Theater in Atlanta's trendy Midtown, just around the corner from hosting LYS Knitch. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent a bemused photographer and wrote a typically condescending article. Head-shaking passersby murmured, "what's the big deal?" as we stood in line for an hour before the doors opened for the knit-in portion of the event. And we merrily knitted away, happy to just BE.

    A wonderful non-knitter stood in line next to me, letting me wind a ball of yarn from a skein I'd just purchased at Knitch for a Calorimetry (which I began and was just one row away from finishing by the time the Yarn Harlot wrapped up). I saw gals with tattoos next to ladies in pearls, tweens in plaid bermudas and guys in pressed chinos and button-downs . . . it was the usual can't-pin-us-down crowd.

    The Harlot opened her marvelous "lecture" with a treatise on the stupid stuff people say to knitters. Fave - "I wish I had time to knit," with its implication that while we're idling away at something unimportant, the speaker has so many more meaningful and busy things to do.

    Which made me think of some other gems:

    "There you go again. Do you knit all the time?" Sure. I don't go to work or take care of my kids or cook meals or do chores or write or tend to a thousand different details of daily life. I just knit. All the time.

    "I saw a sweater/socks/scarf/hat/bag just like that at Target." No, you didn't. What you saw was cheap, machine-made goods with no soul. This is hand-made meditation.

    "My grandmother used to crochet." I'm knitting. And while I'm likely as old as your grandma was when you were a kid, I'm not your grandmother.

    "I've always wanted to learn how to knit. I guess I need to take some classes." Or you could just sit down this minute, let me show you a few stitches, and get started. (I offer every time.) It really isn't rocket science.

    Aaahhh. I feel much better.

    Pearl-McPhee also talked about her just-blogged fiasco of an AM wake-up, when all of her alarms failed her - or not. She awakened at 5:30 am, half an hour past her wake-up call, and blasted the front desk. Only to learn that it was actually 4:30 am and that her room clock was wrong.

    That has SO happened to us at one time or another.

    Then Delta lost her luggage (filled with 30+ skeins of yarn and a few items of clothing).

    Despite the chaos, she gave us so much of herself. And we are deeply appreciative.

    Thanks, Yarn Harlot! May your luggage catch up with you before the next step on your whirlwind speaking tour!

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    What fruit can never get married?

    Cant-elope. That's the gem my groggy daughter shared as she staggered out of bed this morning. She thinks her thoughts at the oddest times and they burst out unhindered by time or setting or company. So instead of "good morning," she gave me the joke she'd just thought of when I awakened her at 6:30.

    It's misty and humid outside. Rain is coming again in droughty Atlanta. We're still on major water restrictions, but our gardens and lawns are bursting thanks to the overindulgence of rain this March. Go figure. The gardens around the Dunwoody Farmhouse are lovely as ever. Too bad Chesnut House still suffers from benign neglect. I'm hopeful that once the residents of Dunwoody have a city we can take better care of our special places.

    I'm eager for Sunday to come. I scored one of the few tickets for the Yarn Harlot's impending visit, thanks to Knitch. I'm taking a rare break from family and duties to spend an afternoon among kindred spirits. I'll have yarn in hand and will not feel the least self-conscious about knitting while I listen since hands will be flying all around me.

    Thursday, April 3, 2008

    The winter of our discontent

    Spring just can't come soon enough. I'm likely placing way too much hope that spring will bring change for the better. When I fret, I knit prayer shawls. I just finished one in record time that has prayers for so many people woven into every stitch. Sharing those prayers in such a public forum seems somehow intrusive and self-serving, so suffice to say that a winter's worth of suffering just HAS to end.

    The Comfort Shawl pattern is one of my favorites for combining yarns and varying the size. You can find the pattern here: I crocheted a ruffle along the edge for a bit of whimsy and am quite pleased with how it turned out. The mix of yarns - a thick fuzzy merino, some novelty yarn, and a heathered wool work well together. Now I'm thinking about using some girly pinks and greens for the next shawl.

    The mukluks turned out exactly according to the design, except I felted them too long. So they fit AG's feet perfectly. When they're supposed to be larger so they'll fit next fall. Darn it. AG wants them anyway because "they feel like big thick socks." I'm going to give her the rejects and cast on another pair. They really do knit up quickly, I like the way they look, AG loves how they feel, and the yarn isn't expensive (hurray Paton's Classic Merino!), so I'm not too bugged.

    I have two more weeks of Preschool Phonics after Spring Break, and am both sad to see another class of preschoolers move on to Kindergarten and glad to have some free time. My freelance writing assignments are coming in steadily (I have another speech to write this week and just finished a really technical piece for an IT company), so it's good to have more hours to put into those jobs. And the Nature Center is gearing up for summer camps and the Butterfly Festival, which means exhausting times ahead.

    But right now, it's cold and damp outside and Spring seems just too far away. So I'll go cast on another prayer shawl and keep a little faith in better days ahead.