Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Catching Up

For those who haven't heard, Interweave Knits will have a new Editor in a couple of issues. Eunny Jang will be taking over at the helm of the magazine. As a follower of her blog and an admirer of her designs, this is an exciting announcement. She has a great attention to detail and puts an extraordinary amount of thought into her patterns. Congratulations to Eunny!

The lace shawl I'm currently knitting for my sister's-in-law wedding, is a Eunny Jang design. The shawl is the Print o' the Wave pattern off her website. So far, it has been a very easy knit. I originally used stitch markers to segment each repeat section. I quickly abandoned the stitch markers for a couple of reasons. First, the pattern repeats become easy to read as the knitting grows. Secondly, the repeat sections are flanked by K2tog or SSK and occasionally, they would consume a stitch on each side of the stitch marker making me do this crazy balancing act of slipping off the stitch marker with a couple of fingers and then precariously holding the stitch marker between some free fingers while I try to knit, then placing the stitch marker back on my knitting. After doing this for a couple of rows, I decided to be darning and flung my stitch markers to the side. I felt liberated.

The pattern tells you to start with an invisible cast on. There is actually a cast on called the invisible cast on. This was news to me and I'm glad I took the time to look it up before I started knitting. You will need a piece of waste yarn and you will end up with live stitches. Could you imagine my surprise if I had used the long tail cast on and then gotten to the "pick up stitches part" for the edging? The Victorian Lace Today has wonderful instructions for an invisible cast on. The tutorial in Victorian Lace Today is also better than the instructions in The Knitter's Companion by Vicki Square. Although The Knitter's Companion has pictures, the instructions in Victorian Lace Today were a bit easier for me to understand. I didn't look at anything else in The Knitter's Companion, so the rest of the reference book may be quite handy.

The shawl is definitely growing. I was casually working on it last Thursday at my bi-weekly knit night, and was talking about the pattern with blogless Lynsey. I was happily relaxed thinking I was over halfway done with the center panel and could easily knock it out by the end of the month, when a small comment made me realize that I was only halfway done with one of the two center panels. I started to panic. Since Thursday, I've been knitting furiously on the shawl and the sweat and swearing and tears have paid off. I finished one of the two panels Sunday and have casted on for the second panel. With luck, I can have the shawl finished in a couple of weeks. I am completely loving the pattern. It's an easy lace knit. I think there will be much more lace in my future.

The Picovilo is also growing and is almost a half top.

My spinning is also progressing at a decent rate. My LYS has a very large supply of Ashland Bay fibres. I was lucky enough to score some bamboo:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I realized the other day while driving Little Clover to a game that loving your child is enough. After my mom died, one of the biggest regrets I had was that I didn't show my love for her enough. There was more I could have done. I could have been nicer to her while I was a teen. I could have said "I love you," to her more. I could have called more. I could have talked to her more. I could have hugged her more. I could have done all those things and it still wouldn't be enough, because after you lose someone, all you think about is what you don't have anymore and there is this gap that stays behind for a while.

Being a mom, though, has brought me the realization that my mom had enough. She loved me with all her heart and that is all she needed. That's why I remember the special smile she had just for me. Italian calls it the "Mommy glow." I know that the love she felt for me is pretty darn similar to the love I feel for Little Clover. I love him enough for the both of us. My love for him is enough especially for me. Do I want him to love me back? Of course I do, but I don't need it. Feeling how much I love him makes me immensely happy. Being able to show him my love makes me happier still. The rest, his hugs and kisses, are an added bonus. I have enough.

I actually wrote the above paragraphs several months ago and was waiting for the right time to post it. Today, my mom's birthday, seemed to be the right time.

When March hits, her birthday enters my mind and I usually begin to miss her and become quite sad. This year, though, whenever I thought about her birthday, I found myself getting excited and looking forward to it. I miss her still, but it has been different. Her birthday is seeming more like a celebration. It is a special time for me to remember her and be thankful for the time we had together. I can still feel her love for me and as I look around, I see small things that remind me of her. I've seen four leaf clovers everywhere, birthday cards in people's cubicles today, and even a bright seven color rainbow. It's as if with every little sign, she's saying hello in her special way and reminding me that she loved me enough. I love her back and I think she knew.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Southland in the Springtime

There are many things I love about being a Southerner. Spring (or nearly Spring) is one of them. Every March, the South begins to transfer from a black and white Ansel Adams to a Technicolor backdrop as the gray trees sprout blooms in luscious whites, bright pinks, golden yellows, and brilliant blues. The tulips pop up out of the ground in reds and the daffodils and crocus open. There is definitely something 'bout the Southland in the Springtime.


Yesterday was National Pi Day and we celebrated by having pie, cherry to be specific :)
(I meant to post a picture of the pie, but forgot to upload the pictures. It might show up later)
We are now gearing up for Square Root Day on March 3, 2009 (3/3/09). Anyone else want to join in?

To complete my dorkiness, here is a book review:

Brave New World
I finished the book a couple of weeks ago after having put it down for a few months. My schedule did not allow for much actual reading time, but during a business trip, I picked the book back up again. It was still good and the narrative was very fresh. (I have yet to master the art of knitting while reading, but once I do, watch out bookshelves!)

The book was written in the late 1940s/early 1950s timeframe. It is touted as being "timeless," and it is for the most part. We have made some technological advances that date the book to a certain extent, but in the 1950s, the internet, email, instant messaging, and cell phones were very very experimental at best. The social aspects of the book are still timeless and still provoke thought.

This is my second time to read the book. I first read it in high school and it was inappropriate for me at 15. I could get it, but not on the same level as now. Who knows, when I read it again at the age of 60, it may take on a whole new level of complexity. Overall, the pace was good, the writing was fine. I wanted to finish the book and even hit the sweet spot of reading where the book takes over and calls to you. As a warning, the sweet spot is late in the novel.

The things that struck me were the arguments for and against emotional attachments and the discussions on what is civilized. Huxley can causes you to think and evaluate what a society is and its influence on its members. He also does something beautiful with paragraph structure when Linda is introduced. Up to that point, the paragraphs and writing overall were well structured. They were fairly short, easy to read, cohesive, and formatted correctly. When Linda was introduced, the paragraphs begin to stretch and flow. The sentences jump a little and some paragraphs are question after questions. The lack of social constraints become evident as John and Linda speak, and I enjoyed the visual shift.

Also, I couldn't help but think of Disney World during the descriptions of the Feelies. If you have been to Disney and seen either Mickey's Philharmonic or the Muppet Movie in 4-D, then you will know what I mean when you get to this part of the book. It was actually a bit unnerving.

As for the ending, it is conclusive but also open ending. You could interpret the actions that lead up to the ending in two ways. Both ways could plausibly leave you with the ending Huxley has written. I have to admit, that I like the fact that the ending can be interpreted like this. I think it makes the book a little better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In my Element

Oh, how I love my car. This past weekend, I got to try out the second of the 64 seating configurations of the Honda Element (the first being the standard seating configuration, which I think counts, but shouldn't really). This seating configuration will be called the "Can you shove the mattress in there, too?" configuration. You see, I got a call from my dad Friday morning letting me know that they would be in the neighborhood and he was wondering how the spare room was coming along. I smiled and said, "Well, I've been meaning to pick up the futon from Costco." We made plans, I assured him that this would be no big deal and that I could whip up the room with very little effort. Of course, I lied.

Although we had picked up the house and tidied for Xavier Guy and SweetPea (who is super sweet), the house was in no state for parental visits. I don't know what it is about having the parents over, but I feel the need to show them that I've grown up and become responsible and neat despite the fact that they saw the state of my bedroom while I was in high school. I called Italian and we settled on the game plan. Costco though, wasn't cooperating. They had sold out of the futons. I called around, checked online, found a futon store in town who did have 7 in stock that I could drive away. I rushed in, bought a futon, mattress (with internal springs, quite comfy), and a cover in under 15 minutes. Then Futon Guy and I had to load it into the Element.

He asked me to raise up the seat and I went, "huh????" Lucky for me, Honda gives you a Quick Start Guide (I kid you not. Being in the software industry, I found this rather humorous). The guide told me how to fold my back seat and attach it to the side wall of the car. We shoved in the futon, both boxes, the mattress, and the mattress pad all in the car. I even had room to pick up Little Clover from school. Yippee! The Parental Clovers confirmed the comfiness of the futon and much fun was had by all.


It's even blue to go along with Project Spectrum. Okay, that's a coincidence. I may be a knitting dork, but I'm not that big of a knitting dork. Okay, okay, I am!

During the melee of the weekend, I did get some knitting done. The Picovoli is coming along. I've made the sleeves and they look like sleeves. This is my first top down sweater and it's rather fun.

Secondly, the wedding shawl is slowly coming along.

Oh, Xavier Guy, watch out. I think Little Clover was trying to move in on SweetPea this weekend. We had a great time seeing you guys and can't wait for May!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

To the gentleman I passed on the interstate:

Although the local newspaper can be quite interesting at times and can contain enthralling articles, please do not read it while driving. It seems that you only have enough mental capacity to either read or drive and not both. Maybe the cup of coffee you were drinking at the time while driving in the fast lane was too much of a distraction, but you were only driving the speed limit and I really needed to get to work.

Irish Clover

I had a spare moment this week and settled down on the sofa with a Pottery Barn catalog that had recently arrived in the mail. I think it might have been a late winter issue, but hey, I don't often have a chance to look through a catalog. Plus, since I'm on a shopping hiatus, I can pretend that I'm browsing at the store. This issue was jam packed with knitting!

Knitted blanket on the homepage

Knitted furniture

And knitting on the floor

Who knew you could knit furniture?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Slowing Down and Speeding Up

I spend Saturday mornings knitting and listening to podcasts while Little Clover watches cartoons. I have a few that are my favorites, but in general, I will listen to almost any knitting podcast. There is something about having a conversation about knitting with someone who obviously loves it as much as you do. It is quite pleasing and unifying. This Saturday including listening to David's latest episode of Sticks and Strings. His essay on "The Slow Clothes Movement" drew me in to the point that I slowed down my knitting so I could focus on listening.

He drew attention to the amount of time each knitter invests in a finished object. The yarn can usually be purchased again and often times, a store bought item is cheaper, but the time can never be renewed. Once it is spent, it's gone and knitters choose to spend the time on making lovely things for themselves or for lucky people they love. Our knitting now is a conscientious decision. David talks about how we purposely delay gratification and go against the "I want it now" mentality which is prevalent in our world today. With each stitch, we are taking back our time and slowing it down, making it last for days, weeks, years, or if we are lucky, decades as our knitted items are used and passed along.

This is the beginnings of a shawl for an upcoming wedding.

As a side note, what makes one qualified to become a social chair? Evidently not much because I am the new social chair for my neighborhood association. The closet I have ever gotten to being a social chair before now was working on the posters for my Junior Prom. I had the glitter, so I got to help. I feel oddly unqualified at this position, so much so, that I'm tempted to go buy this:


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Chestnuts Roasting

We had our first fire last night and it was wonderful. We had a gas fireplace in our old house. It was convenient to be able to walk into the living room and have a fire with the turn of a key, but we didn't really use it much. Even though it had the fiberglass stuff at the bottom to mimic burning embers, it still had this tinny out-of-a-box fakeness to it. Now, I know what was missing. What was missing from our fake gas fire was the popping of wood as the water trapped in the fibres exploded, the smell of camping and out-of-doors that waft out of an open fireplace, and the crisp glow of orange that can only come from real carbon materials. It was wonderful and dreamy and perfect. We all spent the evening with no television watching the real embers and flames dance and jump behind the screen. Bliss.

Now, the saga of our fireplace began over two years ago. The massive fireplace in the family room commands attention and was one of the features that drew us to this house. It was beautiful, but it wasn't functional. The chimney cap was damaged and there nothing to arrest sparks, so if we had a fire, we could possible set the roof on fire. Little Clover suggested that we only have a fire when it was raining outside. He's a smart kid. In addition to the missing chimney covers, the dampner was broken as well. This winter, we finally decided to have the entire chimney serviced and fixed. All the work was completed last week, and we had temperatures in the high 60s and even hit 71 one day. We were resigned to waiting until the next winter to have a fire, but we lucked out with a fairly cold night and a lunar eclipse (one really doesn't have anything to do with the other, but they were both highlights [hee, hee] for us). I'll never go back to a gas fireplace again.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I am Woman

Where's the Kitchen?

That was going to be the title of my book. Before I found a job I liked at a company that I really, really liked, I used to dream of being a full time writer. I have notes on several different book ideas that cover a broad range of fiction categories and a few nonfiction concepts. One of the concepts that is my favorite is the concept of the a neo-feminist viewpoint.

The book idea began when I heard some news story or read some article about a feminist thought or ideal or movement. I probably became very frustrated by said thought/ideal/movement because I don't consider myself a traditional feminist activist and could not identify with that movement. I don't consider myself a traditionalist either and find their ideals to be just as distasteful. I was somewhere in-between and felt a bit alone.

I was tired of hearing from people what a woman (womyn for those versed in the NOW campaign from the 80s) should be. The extreme sides had extreme views. Some feminist shunned not only stay at home moms, but motherhood in general. Being a mother myself, I disagreed. The other extreme shunned those who decided not to be mothers (or wives) to focused on their careers, because they believed that women should be at home tending husband and children. Being a working woman, I couldn't agree with this side either. Where were the moderate people, the ones in the middle who believed that it was okay to work and it was okay to be a homemaker? Why couldn't we all just get along???? Surely there were other people out there that shared some of my views. I just had to find them. I rationalized that if I wrote a book and people bought it, then the others who were in the middle wouldn't feel alone. We could all be happily in the middle together.

I had this in mind for my cover art:

It quickly conveys the gist of what neo-feminism means to me. I can have it all, if I want to, but there is nothing wrong with not wanting something either -- the happy medium. Who knows, maybe this little book of mine will come out anyway. (Of course, if the book were as witty as Erma Bombeck but as insightful as Anna Quindelin, then I'd be happier)

Happy Woman's History Month. Let's celebrate all the woman who have come before us, those who were vibrant and progressive, and those who moved history in their own quiet ways.