27 September 2006

10 Knitterly Things ...

I enjoy reading Grumperina's blog, and the other day, she posted a meme* of ten things related to knitting that her readers probably did not know about her. It was fun to read, and she encouraged others to provide a list as well. Since I'm new to all of this, I figured I would play along, since probably not many of you know a whole lot (if anything at all) "knitterly" about me ... so here you go:

1. One of my goals is to knit Alice Starmore's "St. Brigid" pattern (without the tassels). I have had the book where it is published, Aran Knitting, since it first became available, and I love looking at the pictures. Someday.

2. I don't mind purling. I read other's comments, posts, and some of the knitting listservs, and it seems like the purl stitch is something that a lot of people go to drastic lengths to avoid. My purl stitches are really not that different in appearance from my knit stitches, and, at least in my case, purling does not cause anxiety attacks!

3. I love beautiful wood needles, and if I had unlimited funds, would buy them whenever I could, whether or not they were practical, or a size I needed.

4. I am one of the Founding Mothers (as we liked to call ourselves) of the Penn Knitters, the staff/faculty/knitting group at the University of Pennsylvania here in Philadelphia. The others are Lizz Gable, who I think is still in the area, but I have lost touch with; Karen Walter, who lives out near Reading, and teaches knitting and spinning and is one of the most amazing knitters I've ever met; and, Robin Dougherty, who moved to Cairo last year from Cambridge, England, and the e-mail address she sent me doesn't work, so unfortunately, I've lost touch with her, too. But as far as I know, the Penn Knitters are still going strong, even though the four of us are no longer at Penn.

5. My husband Tim is an enabler in the best possible way. He is always bringing home books about knitting that he comes across at work, or tells me about them to see if I'm interested. A couple of years ago, he actually brought me a printout of knitting books they were getting in for the holidays, and asked me to mark the ones I might like! And it's not like I don't already have plenty of knitting books ... He also never says anything about the amount of yarn I have, or how many projects I have in process, or really, anything negative about any of it. This year, we even took Sebastian and the three of us went to Maryland Sheep & Wool! A real keeper, no?

6. The fact that people like Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow knit, and it's always presented as something that just makes them so much more wonderful, just annoys me. However, finding out that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was a knitter pleased me.

7. I absolutely cannot stand it when people assume that you knit, or that you learned to knit, because you are/were/hope to be pregnant. Puh-leeze. Even before I became an old bitter crone, it annoyed me when that would happen.

8. It makes me nuts when knitters criticize other knitters because they do not create their own patterns. Yes, everyone probably could, at some point, create their own pattern. Much like everyone could learn to play the piano. But not everyone wants to, and not everyone has the aptitude to make it worth their effort. So, if you can create your own patterns, that's pretty amazing. But if I want to follow a pattern, don't lecture me about how I'm limiting myself.

9. I absolutely suck at crochet. I know the chain stitch, and I took class where I managed to create a reasonably nice-looking purse, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not wrap my brain around it. Even though I don't have any plans or desire to give up knitting for crochet, I would still like to get to the point where I could understand the different stitches. And it would be great if, at a minimum, I could crochet well enough to add edgings onto things, or create embellishments for knitted items.

10. Though I do not think I am exceptional, I'm pleased with my knitting abilities, and since I've started helping out now and then at Rosie's, I find I'm picking up new knowledge all of the time, and some concepts/stitches/whatever are finally becoming comprehensible to me!

*Until I started reading other knitting blogs, I had never heard of memes. Who knew?

25 September 2006

Fruit flies like a banana

I can't remember the funny saying, but it goes something like this: "Time flies like a ___; fruit flies like a banana." Stupid, yet amusing. Not hi-larious, though.

Anyway, I looked at the calendar today, and realized that in three months it will be Christmas Day. I also realized that the beginning of The Birthday Marathon is this coming Sunday, October 1. So it's time to review my plans for birthday and holiday gifts.

But first, you may ask, What exactly is this Birthday Marathon you speak of? Said marathon begins on October 1 and ends on December 30 every year. During that time, approximately 20 friends and family members have birthdays, plus Tim and I have our wedding anniversary. To add to the fun, this year my Niece A is getting married on Friday, October 27, so add another important Date to Remember.

Not all of these people get birthday gifts, they all get something, even small, for Christmas/Hannukah/Festivus. (But I do send birthday cards at a minimum, so you may want to run out and buy some Hallmark stock.)

OK, now to review this year's gift-making plans:

1. A pair of socks for a couple of friends, for their first anniversary on October 7. The socks were supposed to be a wedding present. I have the toe of the guy's sock, and the mate to go, and both pairs will be ready for gifting. Hm. Well, I will persevere, and if I'm not finished by October 7, I'll present them whenever they are finished. Because it's just lame to take another year to finish them!

2. The BD gift for Tim, which must remain a mystery, as it seems that he does occasionally take a look at my blog. All I'll say is that I have until November 18 to finish it, and I got a nice chunk of knitting done this past weekend when he was out of town. So yay, I think I'll make it!

3. Wait. That's it. *If* I feel like I am making any kind of true progress with #1 and #2, I may try to squeeze in a pumpkin hat for my GreatNephew Z. If not this year, next year for sure, since he'll only be about 18 months old at Halloween 2007, plenty young enough to wear a cute hat without peer mockery.

In my imaginary life, I can knit as many gifts as I want to, they all turn out beautifully, are completed with plenty of time, and the recipients are thrilled. (I do so enjoy my imaginary life. Especially when I can meet famous people, and give them a piece of my mind, and they are appropriately chagrined. But I digress.) In real life, I am not the world's quickest knitter, and I'm not sure how much some of the people in question would want/appreciate a knitted gift. So I'm a lot more exclusive, as far as who gets what, and when.

Fortunately, I have moved beyond the December 24 all-night marathon to still not finish something. I also don't usually tell people I'm making them something, so that if it doesn't go well, they are not expecting something, and wondering what the deal is (for instance, the sock recipients mentioned above have no reason to suspect or think I was even considering making them something).

Now, do not fear that I will suddenly begin going on and on about the upcoming holidays, starting today. I just noticed the date, and it got me to thinking. But rest assured that I have strict rules regarding holidays, and when you can discuss/decorate/celebrate them. And there are few things that annoy me more than people pushing ahead inappropriately - i.e., Halloween candy for sale the week before Labor Day. Also, under NO circumstances are Christmas decorations appropriate until the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over (I'm looking at you, J.C. Penney).

So it's time to sign off, get a couple of birthday cards ready to send, and get back to my knitting! Because no matter how much I try to switch, my real life is the one I'm living. :-)

24 September 2006

Dear Miss Manners ...

So today I was helping out at Rosie's from 1-5 p.m. (I say helping out, because I only work there very part time, when the usual full- and part-time staff can't make it on a weekend, or if they need extra hands because of a class. I really enjoy doing it!) It was a busy enough day, not hectic, but there was always at least one customer in the shop, asking for help with colors, types of yarn, etc., so I was glad I was there to help Laura, who was working today (whether or not she felt I was any help, you'd need to ask her!).

Anyway, on Sundays, the shop is open from 12-5. The hours are posted on the website, and a couple of people generally call to ask what the weekend hours are, plus the hours are painted on the door. Around 4:30, it seemed that everyone who had been there looking around or buying something, had left. So we started to get things organized to close. About 4:45, a woman came in to look ar0und, and left almost immediately afterwards, to walk down the street to an ATM, but she said she would be back. She mentioned that she noticed we were closing at 5, and we agreed with her.

She returned about 4:50, and said, "Do you really close at 5? Because I thought the website said you were open until 6 o'clock, at least that's what my boyfriend said." We assured her that on Sundays, 5 o'clock was closing time. She said that she was only looking for sock yarn, and some needles, and could we "give her a few minutes?" We said that was fine.

She asked specifically for the needles she wanted, and we handed them to her. Then she started to look through the Koigu, to decide what color she wanted. This was also fine. Then she asked what was new in the shop. OK, we pointed out a few new yarns. Thens she handed me a skein of yarn, and asked if we had one more skein. A quick look showed there wasn't one on the shelf, so I went to the back where the extra yarn is stored to look. I will fully admit that I did a quick and dirty check, but I didn't seen anything with the same number, or even close in look to what she had. So she chose two other skeins.

At this point, it was nearly 5:10, but since she was ready to pay, it looked like things were really wrapping up. But then she wanted to know if we would wind the yarn for her, because she lives in New Jersey, and wouldn't get back anytime soon. I will admit that I was silent at this point, because, well, I'm only there very occasionally, and Laura was the one who had to do the closing routine. Laura asked if there was another place she could have it wound, and the woman said "probably" at a yarn store near her house (followed by a dramatic sigh). So she took her bag and left, and we finished up what we needed to do before shutting down overnight. By the time we left, it was between 5:15 and 5:20. Not really a big deal for me, since the shop is only a few blocks from my house, and I was not on any kind of time schedule. Laura, however, had to retrieve her car, and drive home, also not a long distance, but still time-consuming.

OK, Miss Manners, here's my question: Should we have stayed later, and let the customer take her time, and then regardless of how long she took, wound the yarn for her? She did keep saying that she saw on "some" website that we were open until 6, and she spent about 20 minutes at a minimum looking for a place to park. I completely can appreciate how frustrated she must have been, and that it is disconcerting to feel like you should hurry and do something, when you figured you would have more time.

But on the other hand, when she first arrived, we told her it was very close to closing time. We were willing to let her choose what she wanted, because she seemed to know exactly what that was. But then it seemed like she assumed she could take her time, and look around until 6 p.m., which was her original plan. I think we treated her well, considering her situation, but in the end, it was her mistake (or her boyfriend's), not incorrect information from anyone at the shop. To be perfectly honest, I was going along with all of it until she wanted to know if we would "wind the yarn, because otherwise it would be a problem." It was at that point that I felt she was pushing it, and apparently so did Laura.

Maybe it's just to make myself feel better, but I think we did the right thing. We tried to be accommodating, and she just kept pushing things. At no point were we rude, curt, or unwilling to help her at all. I kept getting the feeling that she thought that since it was a yarn store, and not say, Macy's, that we should go above and beyond to let her take all the time she may have wanted.

Yarn stores are different, because they are generally not megastores, and they rely on repeat visits and purchases from regular customers, as much as new visitors. But it's still a place that is open for a certain number of hours, with employees that have other responsibilities once their workday is over. I think a lot of people feel that since they are so intimate and so much more personal, they should always allow special considerations to their customers. Because as you know, the customer is always right.

Except today, I didn't agree with that. So please tell me, Miss Manners, what do you think?

22 September 2006

September book report

1. Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik (New York : 5 Spot, 2006). I read this book last weekend, not because it was on my list of books I'd like to read, but because my husband Tim, who works in a bookstore, brought home the reader's advance copy, since it had to do with knitting.

Well, it's true I did read the whole thing, but in the end I will admit that I was glad I hadn't bought the book. The story focuses on three friends: Kathleen, who is the fraternal one in a set of triplets. Her sisters are a multi-million dollar enterprise (think Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen), and she has always been more or less the "other" one. Sari works as a teacher and counselor for autistic children, as a result of having grown up with a brother who was autistic, and often the victim of other kids' pranks while in school. Lucy is a scientist in a lab who is somewhat ambivalent about the use of animals in scientific research. The basis of the story is that the three friends get together every Sunday morning for a knitting circle, where they deepen their friendships, support each other, and keep up with one anothers' lives. As you can imagine, there are the usual problems with male/female relationships, the usual heartaches, conflicts, and other general problems that you will usually find in a book about female friends.

I wasn't really too impressed with this book. It was entertaining enough to be a weekend read, or in my opinion, a great beach book. I didn't really like any of the characters, and a lot of what eventually happened seemed to be predictable from the get-go. Each of the characters had a moment at some point in the story when I thought to myself, "God you are stupid."

Now, I must qualify this by saying that I am a person who has been cynical for as long as I can remember, I'm pretty sure I was a cynical baby. So characters who spend all of their time discussing/worrying about/agonizing over their love lives, or lack thereof, really annoy me. It's partly because now you get characters who are well-educated women with nice jobs, and nice places to live, but in the end, the most important thing is to have a boyfriend or husband. Plus, though I have female friends, I have never been one who wanted a "girlfriend!" like a lot of other women. I've read some "Chick Lit" that I've enjoyed, and some that seems like crap. This book falls somewhere in the middle, and frankly, I would not recommend it to any of my friends. So there you have it.

2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Harvest Books; Reprint paperback edition, 2006). This was the choice for September's book for Knit the Classics, and to be honest, I was not looking forward to it. I'm not one much for science fiction or fantastical stories. But all I can say after reading this book is: Wow.

The time traveler is Henry, a librarian who works at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and he meets his wife, Clare, for the first time during one of his time travels when he is an adult, and she is six years old. The story is narrated at different times by each character, sometimes describing the same experience from the perspective of their ages at the time.

The story is well written, and the language very evocative of time and place. The characters are interesting, and really well developed, and you really want to find out what happens to them. I will admit that the fact that it's set in Chicago was a plus for me, since I used to live there, so I could clearly "see" places where Henry and Clare found themselves at different points in the gook. But I think even if you never set foot in the state of Illinois, you would get a clear picture of time and place. Niffenegger is skilled at descriptive prose, so much so that you are almost disappointed when the story ends, as much for the language as for the characters.

Henry's time travel is not something he can control, nor can he decide where he would like to travel. He also runs into himself from time to time. For instance, in spite of the fact that it was a horrible experience, one of his regular "trips" takes him to the car accident on Christmas Eve that killed his mother; he sees himself again and again, standing on the side of the road. At one point, he finds himself at work in a restricted area of the Newberry, and when his boss and co-workers find him, they don't believe his story until another Henry shows up and they can see for themselves.

Clare is an artist, and though she loves Henry, she is also annoyed and relieved by turns when he suddenly vanishes, and she realizes he is on one of his time travels. Clare is the love of Henry's life, and first meets him when she is six years old, and he appears as a adult.

The story is compelling on a number of levels. I enjoyed reading it very much, but once I had finished the book, it struck me how poignant the whole story was. Many times, Henry travels to a happy time, i.e., when he sees his daughter Alba at the age of ten. But he also keeps revisiting the previously mentioned car accident, and he is also aware of exactly where, when, and how he will die. In my opinion, knowing that would make it really difficult to concentrate on the here and now, whether you could time travel or not!

I recommend this book - it's sweet without being mushy, sad without being totally depressing, and gives you a lot to think about while you are reading it, and well after you have finished.

(At the moment, Blogger won't let me add the cover image of this book, so I'll try again later.)

18 September 2006

When seeing red is a good thing ...

One of the best things about knitting is that if you don't have anyone specific to knit something for, there are plenty of ways to knit for charity, regardless of where your sympathies lie. Local, national, or international, if you have yarn, needles, and the desire, you can do your part.

Last year - too late for me to do anything about it - I read about the Red Scarf Project sponsored by the Orphans Foundation of America. The premise is that knitters make red scarves, and send them to be distributed to college students who have spent their lives in the foster care system. The scarves are distributed on Valentine's Day, and hopefully the recipient will feel that someone cares about them, even if they are not fortunate to have any family members to send them care packages. You can find out more details, and review the guidelines for the 2007 project at: http://www.orphan.org/red_scarf_project.html.

The more I thought about this, the more I decided that I really wanted to try to participate in the 2007 scarf drive, even if I could only send a single scarf. Going to college is daunting enough under the best of circumstances, but it must be particularly lonely if you don't have a really strong familial support system. And, since scarves are accepted until the end of January 2007, even I, aka The World's Slowest Knitter, should be able to make at least one scarf. It will be a nice thing to have to do once the birthday and holiday knitting is done, and a good way to start the new year.

I would like to encourage anyone reading this to give it a try as well. You don't need to be the world's most expert knitter, nor do you have to have a vast arsenal of scarf patterns to use - I can only imagine that a garter stitch, or a Seaman's style scarf would be just as appreciated as one with an elaborate pattern. It's not necessary to use the most expensive yarn you can find, because it's not a contest to see who can make the fanciest scarf. All you have to do is knit just one scarf to be given to one other person, who may have never received a handknit item in their life. It's a chance to do something nice for someone else, just because it's a nice thing to do, and because everyone deserves to know that they are special in some way to someone. Especially on a day like Valentine's Day, when some people feel even more bereft than usual. Do you know any kids that are learning to knit, or that you are teaching how to knit? It would be a great beginner project, don't you think?

If you are reading this, and you would like to participate, I really hope you'll give it a try. If for some reason, you are hesitant to send your scarf(ves) yourself, let me know, and I will send you my mailing address, and send yours along with mine.

It can be mightly cold when you are away from all that is familiar, and pretty much on your own. Being a part of the Red Scarf Project may just be a New Year's Resolution that will be easy to keep!

16 September 2006

Dollars and sense

Like most people, I am always happy when I feel that I am getting my money's worth. Don't get me wrong, I can spend frivolously with the best of them, but most of the time, I am able to use common sense.

I have no trouble adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing, but other math (what in the h*** is the quadratic equation for anyway?), and anything requiring a lot of theory, goes waaaay over my head. I have just never been inclined towards math.

Except sometimes when I want to determine how much something actually has cost me. For example, I have rosacea, and my dermatologist told me that I should wash my face with something that can be tissued off, so I don't aggravate the condition. She recommended Cetaphil. So every time I start a new one, I write the date on the bottom of the bottle with a magic marker. Then when it's gone, I calculate how much (roughly) it actually cost me, per use. I can tell you that compared to other drugstore brands and a few of the department store brands, Cetaphil is a good deal (and the CVS version of it is even a better deal! But don't get the Rite Aid brand, as there's no pump and it's too watery. But I digress.) There actually have been times when, using this "formula," I have found that more expensive brands are cheaper in the end than drugstore brands. Because I am so pleased when I find a good result, I have been applying it to a lot of other things. (I even determine how much my gym membership is per use over the course of the year. Clearly I need a life.)

I have, of course, shared this wonderful calculating system with others, and though they may mock me at first, a lot of them start using it too. My friend Lisa has even given it an official name: Bridget's Mathematical Spending Theorem, or the BMST. We often compare notes on how something or other stacks up, once it has been subjected to the BMST. (As you can tell, Lisa appreciates the true beauty of the BMST.)

It doesn't work for everything, though. Knitting, for instance, is not really conducive to the BMST, so I have to find other ways to decide if something is worth my money. To use a knitting book as an example, say it contains 20 patterns, and I only see 6 that I could ever even imagine knitting. I don't buy it, because my informal, personal rule is that I must really like - meaning, someday in the universe I may knit - at least half of the patterns. Once that has been decided, it must be a price that I think is realistic and reasonable, at least for my bank account. These requirements, if you will, apply whether it's hardcover or paperback. Has it worked for me? Most of the time. There have been one or two occasions when I later decided maybe I would go ahead and buy the book, and it's out of print, and used copies are going for hundreds of dollars. Then I try to distract myself with something shiny, and/or cake, to help me feel better ...

Yarn is a little bit more difficult. There are so many yarns that I like, and would love to try. But I'm a slow knitter, and I already have a lot of yarn that has never even been next in the queue for a project. I try to go through my stash every six months or so. If there is something that I realize is just never going to be used, or I am puzzled as to why I bought it in the first place, then it gets put aside, to be sold on the Knitswap list, or given away to a good home. But it's hard for me to have any consistent "system" for deciding what yarn I'll buy.

Then there are needles. I give myself a little bit of leeway here, because I have preferences for different needles for different projects. When I knit socks, I like short needles. Something that is going to end up being heavy to hold will go on a circular needle. Straight needles such as you can use to knit a simple scarf, drive me nuts if they are too long. And then there's material: metal, plastic, bamboo, etc. Maybe it's because they can be specific to a type of project, but I am more willing to splurge on a nice set of needles. Once again, though, they are not BMST-worthy.

By now you have probably decided that this is all very weird, and who cares anyway? I think I'm probably the only one who really cares, but thinking about this made me wonder what kind of decisions other people make about their knitting projects and materials, and why. I mean, all financial things being equal (yes, I know they are not, but suspend your disbelief for a second, would you?), what makes some people barely blink when they buy 10 balls of yarn that is $15 a ball, and some ebony needles for $27, while someone else agonizes for an hour over whether to buy the $5 pattern or the $4.99 knitting magazine, and leaves the store to think about it some more? If I were a sociologist, or a sociology grad student, this would probably be a good starting point for a thesis topic. (Note to sociology Ph.D. candidates: please contact me for the correct spelling of my name for the acknowledgements section of your dissertation.)

Of course, in a Bridget-centric world, we really wouldn't need to use the BMST very often, because things would be priced reasonably all the time. But, alas, I'm not the one in charge of the rest of the world, so you're all on your own.

Sorry. :-)

13 September 2006

Poor girl!

Do you know her?

Until yesterday, I had heard of her, but never seen her in person. I'm sure there are plenty of you thinking "God, I can't believe she didn't know that," but it really was new to me.

This is a Lazy Kate. I had heard of a Lazy Kate, but never saw one in person until yesterday. I walked over to Sophie's Yarns on my lunch break, and there was one sitting behind the sales counter. Now I'm not sure what I thought one would look like, but I was really amazed! (By the way, I received very kind permission to post this image from the folks at Wingham Wool Work, in South Yorkshire, UK: http://www.winghamwoolwork.co.uk/.)

I have since been trying to figure out where the name originated. For instance, is Lazy Kate the "bad one" in a set of twins, where the other one is known as Industrious Katherine or something? Is/was Kate really lazy, or just misunderstood? I know it is a spinning tool, and spinning seems like something that suffers if one is lazy. I'm going to keep looking, but in the meantime, whether she is really lazy or not, isn't she beautiful?

And this is where I get myself into trouble. I see something like this, and it appeals to me aesthetically. Which then makes me think that learning how/why to use it would be something I would really enjoy. Nothing wrong with that, I'm all for continuing to learn new things. I learned the very basics of using a drop spindle a few years back, and recently observed a workshop on the same topic, when I was helping out at Rosie's Yarn Cellar.* The people taking the workshop seemed to be having such a good time, it made me want to give it another try.

I told myself that if I managed to a) finish the gifts I was planning to make for some upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc., and b) made some progress on the many unfinished projects I have sitting around, I would let myself give the drop spindle another try. Which takes me back to the Lazy Kate, because if knew how to spin, then maybe I could get myself one, and ... well, you get the picture.

So with any luck, I'll see something shiny in the next few days, become completely distracted, and forget all about Lazy Kate and her ilk. Maybe that's why she is considered "lazy" - she just sits there and looks pretty, and doesn't have to do anything.

I'll bet Industrious Katherine really hates her.

*Philadelphia has an embarrassment of nice yarn stores, and Rosie's is up the street from home, while Sophie's is down the street from where I work! Am I lucky or what???

11 September 2006

The elephant in the living room

See, here's the thing about September 11. It's always been the same date, and it's always been a time when people are getting settled into the same old routines after a summer vacation, or the new school year, and thinking about the fall weather. Even when it's sunny and around 80 degrees.

But ever since September 11, 2001, it's sort of turned into the proverbial elephant in the living room. You know what happened, and you probably remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, what you first thought had happened. It's one of the worst things you have to remember, even if you try to not think about it too much. But you can't get away from it, and you can't not talk about it, even if just to say that you don't want to talk about it.

So here we are five years later, and everyone is remembering. For a lot of us, it's something that we might occasionally think about the rest of the year, but not as often as we used to. Unfortunately for some, it is the worst day of their lives, and it would be hard to think of how anything else could ever be worse.

But like any death or extreme loss, you don't necessarily get over it. Ever. You do however, get used to it. It's not really a conscious decision, it just happens because no matter what, you still get up the next day, and live your life. Very few of us have the luxury of withdrawing from the world completely.

I hope that nothing even close to the terrorist attacks ever happens again, to anyone. I'm not completely convinced that it won't, but I also know that I am not interested in always looking over my shoulder, so to speak. I sincerely hope that the families and friends of the people who died on September 11, 2o01, have found, or will still find, a way to go on and see their lives as worth living still, and be able to find some modicum of happiness again someday.

But I would also like to suggest that we also remember that September 11 is still just that: a day in the universe, the eleventh day of the month of September. For all of the sorrow we automatically pin onto it now, there are people for whom it is/was/will be, one of the best days of their lives. Maybe a new baby, maybe a wedding anniversary, maybe just a day when the only thing required is to enjoy the day. They shouldn't have to feel guilty about it. Because when you come down to it, we're all still here, and there's a lot to be said for just that fact.

I think that being able to keep that in mind lets me acknowledge the elephant in the living room, but not allow him to take up all of the space in the house.

08 September 2006

Stars and Stripes

Here is a hat I knit this past spring, to send to my GreatNephew Z, who was born in February:

It's the "Stars & Stripes Hat" by Debby Ware. I bought the kit at Rosie's Yarn Cellar last summer, originally thinking I would make it for another baby. But I changed my mind, and once baby Z was born, I decided that I'd make it for him. The pattern is very well written and easy to follow, and the kit contains enough yarn to make two hats. I left off the little bobbly-things that the pattern includes, because I thought the hat had plenty going on without them.

And if you think it looks good on the canteloupe, here he is wearing the hat!

Isn't he a cutie? This is actually only the second time I have ever received a picture of any baby wearing any of the hats I've ever knit - and I've made lots of baby hats over the years! In this picture, it looks like I messed up the cast-on row, which is not beyond the realm of possibility ... however, since he is a baby, I figure I can always say that he was pulling on the yarn or whatever ... yes, I have no shame, I will shift blame from myself to a baby!

Methinks a pumpkin hat may be in his future. :-)

On another note, my gauge swatch for Tim's birthday gift turned out quite well, and since he is working this evening, I will officially cast on and get started! I'm really anxious to feel like I'm making some progress, instead of just getting everything ready to begin. Hopefully it will be one of those projects that goes as smoothly as I'm thinking it will.

I'll keep you posted. Literally.

05 September 2006

Well, I don't know about "revered," but ...

the rest of my results from "What Kind of Yarn Are You?" are not completely off the mark:

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

Apparently, the results don't include "You are also a sucker for online quizzes ..."

04 September 2006

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you are enjoying the Labor Day holiday, especially if you are lucky enough to have a day off from work.

02 September 2006

Catholic or catholic?

I was poking around some of the knitting lists this past week as I am wont to do, and I came across something that made me stop and think. It was a posting on either the Knitlist or the Socknitters list, from a woman who had started a group on yahoogroups for Catholic knitters. When I read it, I remember thinking, "Oh," and moving on. I didn't sign up, because even though I was raised as a Catholic, and still consider myself one (though I'm sure the Pope wouldn't think so. But don't get me started on the Pope!), I just wasn't interested.

But oh, the tongue lashing the person who started the group received from the others on the list! All kinds of posts about how *real* knitters are inclusive, and starting a religious themed group was exclusive, or a couple of snarky remarks like, "Hey, why don't we start a Protestant knitters group, and see how people like that," and lots of other posts by people who were completely bent out of shape by the idea, and the fact that the posting had even been ALLOWED in the first place.

And I thought to myself that it was ironic that those claiming to be more "inclusive" were in such a tizzy over this. I mean, it wasn't like the post said, "I am starting a Catholic knitters group because Catholics are intrinsically better than anyone else, and if you don't join, it proves you are evil." Having grown up in the religion, I know that Catholics are not necessarily better than anyone else - and not just the clergy (i.e. pedophile priests), but the everyday, average Joe Catholic. I currently work for one of the Protestant denominations, and guess what? They aren't a bunch of halo-wearing Christians either. And I'm guessing that there are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and other individuals who identify themselves as part of a religious group who have their faults as well.

So why should knitters be any different? When I read or hear things like "Well, knitters are special people, they would never [fill in the blank]," it makes me want to scream! Even though people in general drive me crazy, I truly believe that most people are as good, sincere, considerate as they can be, most of the time. My friends and acquaintances who are knitters are really great people, but honestly, everyone has their moments.

Someone at work once pointed out to me that it was ironic that the word "catholic" is synonymous with inclusive, but "Catholic" is not. This person said it like it proved some great universal truth, though I have to admit it was lost on me.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that knitters are no better or no worse as group as anyone else, nor do they have a corner on the market of inclusiveness, friendliness, and consideration. I know that my knitting experiences have made me a more patient person, and in some ways more social (I mean, geez, I have a BLOG, people). But I don't like every knitter I read about, or meet. And I don't kid myself that everyone likes me, and why should they?

A couple of years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Ireland as an anniversary gift to each other. We were there for a week, and travelled to several places, and ate in a lot of pubs, cafes, and tea shops. We saw landscapes that took our breath away. We were amused by some things, mostly those that reminded us that we were foreigners, even though we were surrounded by people who could speak English. We took LOTS of pictures, and couldn't wait to tell people about our trip. But on more than one occasion, I had someone say, "So did you drink the whole time you were there? Are they really all drunk most of the time?" (Sadly, they were being serious.)

And guess what? Some of the people who asked me this were ... KNITTERS!! For all I know, they may have also been Catholic. Or maybe they were always drunk, I don't know.

To paraphrase a Stephen Sondheim lyric, maybe we all need to develop more catholic tastes, try to become catholic knitters ... whether or not we are Catholic.