Monday, February 27, 2006


Thank you to Miss Latoya for getting a book discussion started. As y'all may recall, I do actually belong to a book club, but we hardly ever actually talk about books there. So it's nice to get a little literary conversation happening. And I will enjoy reading y'all's lists and getting your book picks from the library!

So here's my list. It's heavily-weighted towards current reading (as opposed to lifetime reading), but that's mainly because my memory is so dang bad. Wuthering Heights? Sure, I read that. It has a.... woman in it, right? She, uh, has a, uh, let's see, a tragedy of some kind. I know I liked it. Great book. I'm also not discussing knitting books, because I am now a convert to Barbara Walker and believe that all books and patterns are just barriers between you and knitting. It's almost turning into an occult religious thing - so keep an eye on me. You may need to do an intervention.

So, ahem, on to the book list meme thing:

1. Name five of your favorite books.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. I am still pining for the characters. I will have to read it again as soon as the details are fuzzy enough in my mind.
  • Anything written by Barbara Kingsolver - she is just so much fun to read. And I love a good cry.
  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray.
  • You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers, or just about anything Eggers writes/edits.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
2. What was the last book you bought (or brought home from the library)?
  • The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. Possibly the smartest (and most suspenseful) vampire story ever written! A great travelogue, too.
3. What was the last book you read?
  • The last book I actually finished was Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. She is a spectacular writer - a real master of language. I can't wait to read Gilead.
  • The last book I couldn't finish because it was so... what the hell was it? I don't even know. Anyway, that one was Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. Apparently he's like the most popular writer in Japan. I don't think I get Japanese literature.
4. List 5 books that have been particularly meaningful to you.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.
  • Our Stolen Future, by Theo Colborn, JP Myers and Dianne Dumanoski.
  • Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar.
  • This is cheesy, but The World According to Garp, by John Irving. It set me on an enormous life side-track that lasted nearly eight years and took me to faraway places and inadvertently to my "real" life and love. So, thanks to John Irving.
  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson.
5. Name three books you've been dying to read but just haven't gotten around to it.
  • Living to Tell the Tale, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (his autobiography). It's not that I haven't been reading it, I have been... for a year now. It's so damned rich! You can't keep reading it night after night, you have to take your time. So I'm really taking my time. I'd like to power through it one day, but... I just don't know if I can drop everything else in the world for Gabriel. But I will have to.
  • In Search of Lost Time/Remembrances of Things Past, by Marcel Proust. This is actually a series of seven volumes. Seven long volumes.
  • Throwed Away, by Linda Flowers.
6. Tag five people and have them fill this quiz out on their own.

Hm... several of y'all have already been tagged by Latoya, so I say if you're reading this, then you're tagged. But let me know if you're doing it! I want to read your lists! I am extra-special tagging Kristy, because we're in the same book club and I know she'd like to be doing more book-talking, as I would... so go for it, lady! I mean, if you want to...

Saturday, February 25, 2006


It's done! Crappy photo at 11. Press conference after the podium ceremony (I'm giving all my prize money to a worthy charity).

The celebratory beer is open and blocking is underway. Thanks for all the support at the finish line! Y'all were right about the pink button & the flower. I am happy and a little dazed.


The Olympic swing coat sweater is nearly done, and now I'm just trying to make some decisions about details as we move into the home stretch. I dug through my button collection and came up with four possibilities for the neck closure, which are grouped happily together here at right. But now it's time for their final showdown to begin, and after the intense scrutiny of our international panel of judges, only ONE button will be left standing. There are no silver or bronze medals in this competition - it's gold or nothing! Well, it's more of a pink/green/blue combo actually, but you get the idea.

contestant #1, representing france - a sophisticated white-on-white floral

contestant #2, representing japan - junior-sized pink circles

contestant #3, representing sweden - neutral-colored big target

contestant #4, representing the USA- yellow-and-white swirly

Any thoughts? I'm not screaming wild over any of these buttons, but if I'm going to get this thing done on schedule for the Olympic torch-extinguishing tomorrow, I don't think button-shopping will fit into the agenda.

Finally, the flower detail. I can't decide where to put it.

julie thinks it should go on the collar - but i'm concerned that maybe it's too big for the collar.

i'm leaning a bit towards the lower body.

What do y'all think? Please register any votes on buttons and flower placement!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

the craft table challenge

If only we were all as tidy as Jay. There are lots of reasons to be admiring of Jay, with his well-fitted homemade jeans, punk-rock drop stitch sweaters, cute Aussie accent (you have to hear it in your mind as you read his blog) and Burda patterns, but what I admire most about Jay is his craft room - yes, an entire room dedicated purely to crafts - and especially his tidy craft table.

The man is sick. SICK! How can he have so many projects going at once and still have such a neat table???!? I can only assume he is an alien from the planet Neatnix (that's around the corner from Cacafonix). You people with your organization and color-coordination skills make me salivate with jealousy. How do you do it?

But I accept your challenge, Jay, and as requested, here's a picture of my "craft table," a.k.a. desk, a.k.a. cat feeding station. I'm not ashamed!

"Craft table" contents include:
  • one 15-lb domestic long-haired cat
  • one dish of cat food
  • one fancy zillion-watt craft lamp
  • one retro lamp from Bugheart's old lab
  • Bugheart book cover (heart!)
  • mail and bills, including letters from Granny Pea and my Secret Pal
  • my journal of knitting designs, cartoons, random thoughts and other people's brilliant ideas
  • two back issues of Meatcake
  • some ribbon
  • lots of pens, markers & scissors
  • a hat I knitted for myself in the car on the way home from Xmas visits in cold, cold New Jersey
  • an ashtray with a horse on it, containing a broken Carlise & Linny bracelet which I will repair one day.
  • the Winter 2006 issue of Endeavors
  • a lucky-cat button. The first person to comment & ask for this button can have it - it is about 1/2" tall and its erstwhile twin made a great closure for a felted cell phone cozy.
Hey, that was kind of fun! I hereby spread Jay's challenge around: Bugheart? Saun? All of y'all? What's on your craft tables?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

rah rah rah!

Team North Carolina is rocking the Olympics. Mega-knitter and intrepid reporter Marcy is furiously tracking the team's progress (or at least the Raleigh-based contingent) over on her blog, Notions. She joined us Sunday at Stitch & Bitch during her daylong knitting-group marathon, and stopped by again last night (while I was visiting her group, the KnitWits). Her Sunday report included a rather unlovely photo of me swilling a beer (try to just focus on that cute baby picture from the other knitting group instead). But check out the slinky and impressively-stitched stockings she's making as her Olympic project! Way to sex up your winter sports!

Saun is coming along beautifully on her Rowan sweater, despite dye-related disorder. Marcy even managed to get her to smile for a picture! I knitted approximately 6 miles of I-cord last night at KnitWits/Stitch & Bitch for my decorative flower. Julie talked me into cutting back to just one flower on the collar, instead of one on the collar & one on the body, as I had planned, and she's right - it will look way better. But my search for the perfect big button is still on... anyone have any tips for vintage button shopping?

Last night one of the big topics of conversation was knit blogs and related businesses. Saun is selling some faaabulous patterns over on her blog (and Julie was knitting one of them at KnitWits!), and as you know I'm currently making a Knit & Tonic sweater (the Girlfriend Swing Coat). Several of us have also bought some of Glampyre's ultra-hip knitting patterns (especially the ubiquitous One-Skein Wonder), but one of the things I like best about her blog is that she gives away a lot of patterns for free as well, and her for-sale patterns are very professional. My friend Anne and her mom have started up a crafty new business, which you can find online at Check it out! Their cozy blankets make fabulous gifts.

I would love to figure out a way to sell just enough of something I make to finance my yarn addiction. But I have the novelty problem - I don't get a kick out of making something over and over again. If I've done it once (or twice, in the case of socks), the thrill is gone. Maybe patterns? But there is so much room for error in patterns, and I have no desire to knit the same sweater in four sizes just to make sure it works. Maybe I could sell witty rejoinders. The perfect comeback for every situation! Suits any decor!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

end in sight

Here's the scene from my office at 3:48 PM today as a longish conference call catapulted me towards the finish line! I can almost taste victory! I feel like an Austrian skier inspecting the downhill course - SO CLOSE... and yet, I still have to go flying down that hill. Gulp.

The big collar is done, the second sleeve is almost finished, and my remaining tasks now are picking up a zillion stitches for the trimmins along the body of the sweater (just a reverse stockinette roll), two mile-long pieces of I-cord for some decorative flowers, and then a button & loop and lots of blocking. All these things are well within sight for Sunday's finale, and even though I have to work (like, at my job) most of the weekend, I am starting to feel pretty sure of myself. I just have to resist the temptation to party all night with Bodie & the gang, and hit the slopes still drunk the next morning. Oops, am I disqualified? Shit, well, pass me a beer, would ya pal?

Of course that could never happen to me, because mainly I'm a wine drinker and a red wine hangover would keep me off the skis entirely. Coffee in bed, please. No, I can't stand to look at those circular knitting needles, they make me dizzy.

So enough of the Olympic tomfoolery, I have something worthwhile to tell you about today:

This week's issue of Salome Magazine contains a great essay by my dear friend Allen - his reflections on the recent passing of Coretta Scott King, the incredible era of social ferment that she came up in, and some of the other women who helped birth groundbreaking social change in the same times. It's short, so don't be scared, just head on over there. Besides, you'll like Salome, it's edited by Jessica, an amazing writer herself and mother of the little muse who will be soon be wearing my Olympic sweater (if I do medal, I will be sharing all the glory and honor with her).

And happily, Bev is blogging again. I missed her so much! I wish she would start using her blog as an advice column. In her real life, she is the best Everybody's Mama and advice-disher that you could ever want. Now honey, why don't you pull your hair back so the people can see your pretty face?

Monday, February 20, 2006

the brightest week

It may be cold and gray outside, but in my mailbox it is bright and sunny! Look what arrived Saturday from my stupendous Secret Pal:

orange you glad I didn't say apollo?

She is so awesome! Here we have ten - count 'em, TEN! - balls of Filatura di Crossa Ad Hoc, a lovely pair of size 9 needles and a cool card with a block of gold on it, all wrapped in bright orange tissue paper! I am in heaven! Some lucky girl is going to get a soft, lofty, bright gold sweater out of this deal (and it might be me...). What a great prize! Thank you Secret Pal, whoever you may be!

Double bonus: the yarn coordinates perfectly with my new bright Bugheart orange frog book cover. Maybe the frog book will become the journal of my knitting adventures with funky bright colors...

And finally, the update from Day Ten at Team My House. I spent Saturday evening with my folks & Sis eating sushi, playing board games and working on my Olympic project while watching ski jumping. Damn, those Austrians are amazing skiers! Hoch lebe Morgenstern! Hoch lebe Kofler! Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! On Sunday night I got some more work done on the sleeves and collar while watching some freaky psychedelic underpants swirl around the screen during the ice dancing competition. I was sorry that Kerr & Kerr didn't advance further - they seemed to be the only skaters who had any sense of what a Latin rhythm meant. The rest of them looked like cheerleaders on skates (not that there's anything wrong with cheerleaders) - but no rhythm at all.

So, ahem, here's a shot of the sweater from Sunday AM:

I finished that sleeve but still have a long way to go - a big collar, another sleeve, some edgings and a couple of I-cord flowers, plus a button & button loop. Can I do it by Sunday? I'll be wearing my neon orange underpants for good luck!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

under pressure

What a week! Here it is Saturday afternoon, I've just returned from a two-day conference, and other than a little progress at Stitch & Bitch Wednesday, I've done absolutely no knitting this week at all! UGH! I'm glad the weekend is finally starting for me.

The big happy spot of my week was receiving a wonderful and insanely bright Valentine prize in the mail from Miss Bugheart. It's a book cover! With a frog on it!

The front... the back... and the super-cool lost knits label.

I love it I love it I love it! And, you can get these Lost Knits labels from Bugheart herself. The idea is sort of like a bicycle registry or a pet microchip. She will keep a record of who gets labels from her, and if anyone ever loses a special home-made object, the finder just emails Lost Knits and the item can be safely returned! Isn't that cool????

Any rate, I'm looking forward to making some more progress on my Olympic sweater during the remainder of this weekend. I had thought for a while that I actually picked a project that wasn't quite challenging enough for this time period, but considering my actual work schedule right now, I'd say this is just right - it's not going to be easy to get it done by next Sunday.

Day 6, and Day 7, and Day 8 and Day 9.

I think we should get some of those male Olympic figure skaters knitting. It might help them relax a little bit and handle the pressure better. What's with those guys, anyway? I want to see skating, not ass-over-teakettle falls! They are so easily psyched out. I think knitting could really help them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

boob tube

I guess I was feeling left out. I wanted to know what my team-mates were up to.

And then at Sunday Stitch & Belch, which takes place in a bar with big teevees in it, I actually saw some Olympic coverage - women cross-country skiers, in which an Estonian woman won her country's first gold medal - ever. And you know, the humanity, the triumph, the tugged-heartstrings... they all made me feel like I was missing something, you know, with the whole no teevee situation at our house.

So I went up to the attic and dragged down the ten year-old teevee so that I could knit along with the games.

You know what I was missing? Commercials. A lot of fuggin commercials. Holy crap, what a lot of commercials! I guess it's been a while since I spent any time in front of this evil machine - it must be at least 5 or 6 years. I don't think there used to be so many commercials. And I think in the past, they must have shown more skiing, or nudity, or something, that made me sit and stare at this thing for long stretches of time. Look at it, sneering at the books on the shelf next to it. Lording over the side room from its perch atop the cat scratcher - it is an evil machine whose 16 days of glory have arrived.

Speaking of which, here's an Olympic update. Michelle Kwon: OUT! Me: kicking ass!

I am breezing along on this project, despite the multiple froggings I mentioned previously, and um, well, also working on some socks. Because I have to! I can't drag olympic gold along to board meetings with me! But socks... you know how socks like to travel. Plus they're merino (I love merino), and I had never tried this yarn before. It's Knit Picks sock memories, and I'm doing my first lacy sock pattern, thanks to my wonderful Secret Pal who sends me contraband photocopied knitting book patterns (she's the coolest).

I don't have any sock pictures for you (not much to see yet), but here are some shots in the Olympic update genre:

day two day three (I know it's day four now, but I didn't actually knit today)

And a parting shot of Jackie. I think I still feel so sad for Jackie because she lived outside starving for so long and hardly ate anything, and then went through the terrible ordeal, and in my pity I have been overfeeding the heck out of her! Golly, look how dag fat this cat is getting! She looks like a suckling hog! HWWLLB kept calling her fat and admonishing me for giving her treats, but I guess I was blind to it all, until tonight. For some reason the scales suddenly fell from my eyes (she was sitting with her rather rotund rear end pointed at me), and I realized that our poor little wastrel was becoming morbidly obese. We must cut back on the kibble before she goes to the vet in two weeks - they aren't going to believe it's the same kitty. Hey - you've replaced your cat with a pumpkin! We're going to have to charge double!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

opening ceremonies

Since we don't have the teevee at our house, I didn't get to watch the actual olympic opening ceremonies, but I heard about the flaming ice-skaters on NPR. Here at Team My House, the casting-on ceremonies were squeezed in between a quick after-work dinner and heading over to a local venue to see several friends in a Raleigh production of the Vagina Monologues (it was fabulous, by the way).

I saw at least one other olympic knitter at the show last night (Saun) - she didn't have her project with her, because she is in such tip-top knitting shape that she doesn't need to drag it with her everywhere she goes (though she did admit to having some socks in her bag just in case). Getting a sweater done in 16 days is something she does twice a month anyhow!

At the other extreme, I knitted while we saved our seats, knitted during the intermission, and knitted at the bar afterwards. It's a good thing, too, because I had a change of heart about the edging this morning and frogged & re-knit about a dozen rows - twice. It's now five in the afternoon and I've just caught up with where I was at the bar last night when Flems posed with the yarn to show off my progress. Isn't she gorgeous? I wish I had even half her natural glamour!

I learned a lot about Flems last night, including that she too is pining for Jack White (of the White Stripes) and we almost got in a hair-pulling cat-fight over who would get the first crack at bearing his children, should he ever come sowing his wild oats in the Kackalack (they were playing My Doorbell at the bar, which triggered the pavlovian salivation response in both of us that touched off the unfortunate incident). Luckily our respective male companions (secure enough in their manhood not to be threatened by Mr. White) intervened, and it did not come to fisticuffs. Thank goodness.

I know that several of you are about to post comments telling me about Jack White's real life and how he's married and has an actual baby pending and all that. To avoid such future complications, you should know that I don't believe in the real lives of artists and celebrities. As far as I'm concerned, they exist soley for our entertainment and have no actual lives of their own. So don't sweat it - you can keep on fantasizing about Freddie Prinze, Jr., or Kai Ryssdal or Angelina Jolie or whomever else you're hot for because they are all yours, baby.

proper stretching, plenty of water

...and some wrist-warming exercises. In anxious preparation for the Knitting Olympics (only one day away!), I just read through Beadlizard's excellent list of Speed Knitting tips for avoiding carpal tunnel and related injuries, and I feel well-prepared to take on the insanity of this goofy internet-age knitting megameme, free of wrist pain. I have also stocked up on PG Tips and gone to yoga twice this week, two critical factors which I believe can only help my knitting speed.

I have just a bit more preparing to do to achieve optimum knitting ability over the next sixteen days of yarn frenzy, so tonight I have cleaned out my knitting bag, leaving only Olympic tools and yarn (see accompanying photo of very tidy bag), wound the last ball of yarn, and NOT KNIT A DAMN THING.

Not knitting is pretty much what I've been doing all week (except on conference calls, of course - that would be hell). Like Saun I've been either too excited about the Olympics starting to work up any enthusiasm about my other projects, or maybe it's that I'm super-smart and have been resting my fingers and wrists for the big event. That must be it. I'm in training. Must rest up.

So I'm off to clear the junk from the coffee table and optimize the lighting in my favorite cozy knitting spot. I hope the cats have been getting into condition for this - they are going to be doing some serious lap-warming in the coming days.

Stay tuned for more scintillating updates like this one from Team My House (such as: "help! my arse is numb!" and etc).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

breaking news: everything is fine

Whew! Tea emergency over. I had morning tea at 11 after the call was over and the world seemed to right itself pretty immediately.

More good news: I changed my socks. I had forgotten my lunch today, and am lucky enough to live 1/2 mile from the office, so I just ran home for lunch and to change my badly-chosen socks (my wallet is on a strict no going-out-to-lunch diet).

Before: Garish! After: Smooooooth.

My cute pants being tailored stylishly short (is that still stylish?), the off-white socks were sticking out pretty garishly. This just goes to show you, I do need a pair of knee-high boots. Maybe two - one black and one brown. This outfit needs boots.

So... now I'm sitting here on conference call #2 for today, back to work on the still-nameless cardi. And look! Look how beautiful this yarn is! I'm falling more deeply love with this yarn with every happy stitch.

Mainly I'm excited about wearing this thing once it's done. I love the color! I don't know how well this shows up in the picture - it probably just looks white. But it's off-white and it has all these little flecks of natural brown and soft blue. Oh! Look how nice with my brown pants today! The yarn is Queensland Collection Kathmandu aran (I have called it many things on this blog, but that's its real name. I think it either is now, or used to be called Jo Sharp Silk Road aran). It's mostly merino, but with some silk and some cashmere content. Bliss!

This is the one I had to frog thanks to the BBC (yes, I'm still somewhat bitter). It's going to be tough to put this down to start working on my Knitting Olympics project on Friday.

By the way, the LA Times did a story today on the Stitch & Bitch debacle. The reporter didn't dig too deep, but she did capture Evil Seamstress Overlord Creative Director Elissa Meyrich's whiney, victimized tone quite well.

help me

Help! I'm stuck in a conference call and I haven't had any tea! It's 10:15 A.M. and my brain is melting... knitting isn't really helping.

7:50 AM. Got up late. Oops.
8:25 AM. Ran out door to meeting, no tea, bad socks don't work with outfit. Eating a piece of cheese.
8:30 AM. Meeting. Nice. No tea. Nobody mentioned the socks.
9:35 AM. Meeting finally over... conference call started 5 minutes ago. Still no tea.
9:45 AM. Call in. I'm supposed to be chairing this call. Oops.
10:10 AM. Still no tea. We are 1/3 of the way into the agenda.
10:15 AM. Re-knitting recently-frogged sweater. Chairing conference call. Malingering in a no-tea-induced-stupor. Eyelids weigh ten pounds each.

If you're out there reading this right now... send me a barista!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

there's a van with a cat in it

Apparently that's the super-secret British spy way of saying "Danger Will Robinson! Abort mission!" If only I had listened. So here's my nugget of advice gleaned from a weekend of knitting in front of the tube: don't try to design a sweater while watching dramatic British spy shows on TV (or on the laptop, which is how we do it around here).

The sad outcome was, I cast on too many stitches for the front closure, Helen got killed thanks to managerial incompetence, and then I knitted several more inches of whole-sweater-in-the-round, oblivious to the oversized front. In fact, I didn't even notice until this afternoon as I was blithely knitting in the car on the way home from a quick winter jaunt to the beach, and the stitches weren't adding up.

Helen was one of my favorite characters from Episode 1 of MI-5, the aforementioned dramatic British spy show, and they went and killed her off right at the incredibly tense climax of Episode 2. They do things differently over there in England on the teevee. Do you cable-having people get this show on BBC America? Half the reason we have Netflix is so that I can get British television. I don't know what the other half the reason is, you'd have to ask HWWLLB.

Any rate, the MI-5 is bad for my knitting, it's too engrossing. Also, my hands get all trembly while watching it (I told you it's dramatic!), and I think the tension in my knitting increases. I think I could safely frog while watching it though, and goodness knows I have plenty of that to do now. Thanks a lot, BBC!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

design and conquer

First of all I want to give mad props to my girl Saun for her gorgeous shawl design in the current issue of MagKnits! Now this is not one of those shawls that's all lacy and spiderwebby that makes you burn with want, and knit and curse and then never, ever find a thing to wear with it. THIS is a shawl that you will enjoy knitting and wear with all kinds of clothes, and love forever. Go Saun! I am so impressed. The girl is crafty like ice is cold. (Aren't I all old-skool today?)

I might also mention that this particular issue of MagKnits has a pattern for knitted sushi. Ahem. Click on over there, Gwen, it's okay - you can come back later.

So last night I couldn't go to Stitch & Bitch and see Saun and Flems and everyone and their fabulous projects because I was glued to the couch, at home, enraptured by the writing of Barbara C. Walker and drowning in a redisovered love of yarn. LOVE! I feel it!

I loved knitting right from the git-go, but Walker is drawing out something deep in me. Not like the hot passion I have for Addi Turbos, which will probably burn out after the 50th pair of socks, but a rock-solid, sustaining, empowering kind of love... like the love between Mulder and Scully.

The book that wouldn't let me leave the house last night, and that I had to bring with me to work today just in case, is Knitting from the Top. I had seen it a few times in the back pages of the Patternworks catalog but my LYS didn't carry it, so I finally broke down and paid for shipping and all that, and... well, it's a new world at my house.

I've only knit a top-down-all-in-one-piece sweater a couple of times, but I knew in my gut that it was far superior garment construction to this "sew up" stuff. I don't like sewing up, not just because it's tedious work, but because things have to line up exactly right, there's so much room for error, slight differences in tension can create all kinds of problems, etc. But according to Walker, it's not just a pain to sew up knitted clothes, it's entirely the wrong framework. Sewing is for woven cloth! It ignores the inherent three-dimensional flexibility of knitting.
Knitting can be used to make sewable cut-outs like those of a dress pattern, and is so used, more often than not. But it can also be used much more cleverly than that. ... Another great virtue of knitting is that it can alter the very pattern of its fabric in different portions of the same garment, to suit different widths and angles of the figure beneath. Sewing cannot duplicate such refinements. They belong to knitting alone. Therefore, when we knit from the top, we forget about sewing and its methods of putting garments together. We do not shape our clothes the dressmaker's way, nor the tailor's way, but the knitter's way - which, when intelligently handled, is unlike any other method of covering and ornamenting the human figure. (Walker, Knitting from the Top Down, Schoolhouse Press 1972).
I know some folks think they don't want to knit top-down because they don't want raglan sleeves. Fair enough. But Walker teaches you how to knit all kinds of sleeves & shapes top-down, and even the raglan sleeves don't have to have the little holes or the prominent ridge - she shows you ten - TEN! - different ways to do double-increases, from big openwork-type holes to tight & invisible raglan seams.

Okay, now this is the part that made me feel so free and alive last night (and still today): patterns are really just a knitwear designer conspiracy to keep you from understanding garment construction and designing your own stuff - stuff that fits you perfectly and does exactly what you want it to do. She doesn't actually use the word "conspiracy," but after reading this book, the scales fell from my eyes and I could see that the Knitting Pattern Matrix was all a sham! A sham, I tell you! And I immediately picked up the luscious Queensland Collection Silk Road aran that's been gracing my stash since October, and started knitting myself a sweater. With no pattern. And it's going to fit me perfectly. I brought it to work with me today - you know, just in case.

The feeling of liberation is incredible. If only I could spend the rest of my life on the couch...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Have I mentioned lately that I love my Secret Pal? This here picture is me kicking back and chilling to some Amadou et Mariam while wearing a new pair of fancy-ribbed red slipper-socks, courtesy of my wonderful thoughtful Secret Pal.

She has great timing. After a depressing evening of watching pResident Bush doing his State of the Union on the teevee over at Chez Seamless, a lovely package from my Secret Pal was more than welcome! Thank you, SP, for making what could have been an unbearable evening, well, kind of nice, actually. In her package she included a CD full of world music MP3's, including the amazing Amadou et Mariam, which is soothing my frazzled nerves as we speak. Thank you, Secret Pal! (PS - I can call her "she" now 'cause she told me she's one of us wimmins. We have this communication thing going. It's cool).

I can't say I have much of an informed reaction to the State of the Union address, except what in the heck was with all the anti-isolationism rhetoric? Who's actually proposing isolationism as foreign policy? It's amazing to me that he sets up this straw man to tear down, and it sure does look like the actual foreign policy of this very administration - a straw man, indeed. Same deal with the gobbledy-gook about closing our markets to the world - come on man, talk about what's actually happening in our universe!

The quote of the evening (we were watching with friends) came from Robyn, who captioned the Barak Obama close-ups with "Now there's a black man I could get with!" True dat, girlfriend. I love me some Obama. If the next president is going to look (and talk) half that good, I might just withdraw my Australian work-visa application.

One last thing - why was Cindy Sheehan arrested, exactly? What was the disturbance that she caused? Her very existence? Man, this guy is so afraid of critics, he can't even stand to have them looking at him from the balcony.

All right, back to knitting - a much less frustrating topic. Here's the problem: I can't decide what to knit next. I am eagerly sitting on my plans for the Knitting Olympics, but I can't cast on til February 10th! I'm all done with my cute green stripey socks, and I have this big huge design/knit project waiting for me... but I really am one of those loyal one-project-at-a-time knitters (except for the little sock or scarf project that I keep going on the side for meetings and conference calls).

I can't imagine starting a big design/knit project and then interrupting it to start my olympic sweater a week later. It seems so... so disloyal. I'm already burning with guilt over leaving my bamboo knitting needles sitting alone at home while I'm out painting the town red with my Addi Turbos. Help me, Carolyn Hax! I'm a cheater! Is admitting it the first step to recovery? Do I even want to recover?

The last thing I want is to wind up like Simon, the nap slut. Look at him, napping casually in any old chair or cardboard box that will have him. Tramp.