Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jelly On Toast Mitts


Pattern: Toast
Needles: US #5 dpn
Yarn: Knit Picks Kettle Dyed in bordeaux

What better way to bring the year to a close than with a finished object? I knit these mitts in a couple of days at the beach last week. They are the epitome of the type of knitting I have been creating this year: simple, relaxing, quick. I feel it is time to complete a few larger projects, and am planning several pullovers. I do hope they are still simple, relaxing, and relatively quick. I'll have a fit if they become complicated, frustrating, and endless.

I love planning knits and gardens; no matter how well laid out your plans, they always surprise you. With that thought, I look towards 2009 as a year of growth, opportunity, change, and surprise. I hope you all will continue to join me on this journey because I couldn't have accomplished anything without your support, friendship, and generosity. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Came by Boat

On Part One of our Christmas Vacation we:
- Splashed in some seriously cold waves
- Knit another pair of Toasty mitts
- Flew kites
- Decorated a gingerbread house
- Watched sunrises/sunsets
- Gathered shells
- Ate 2 pounds of shrimp in one sitting
- Should have bought 2 extra pounds
- Had lunch with wonderful friends
- Played tag in the dense fog
- Watched pelicans fly by our 15th floor balcony
- Opened presents from Santa
- Spent time with our loving In-Laws
- Wrote letters to far away friends
- Wished you were all there

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Obvious

Solstice. The darkest night gives way to the light. Tiny imperceptible fragments of light, broken into degrees, each growing increasing longer and brighter. This particular day has always seemed a bit confusing for me. Rather than the return of the light, which I know is scientifically calculable, it seems the darkest times lay ahead, at least for the next few months. But then I have to remind myself I am looking at the situation from a completely fabricated standpoint. Of course it seems darker to me as I am subject to the governing bodies decision to have daylight savings time. I have no idea what the universe is really doing do I? Or maybe I do.

When I was young, riding in the back of a station wagon with a friend, her father commented absentmindedly that the sky grows darker each second as the sun sets. I was intrigued, staring out the window at the blur of neighborhood lights twinkling behind the tall pines. I had to see for myself. I forced my eyes open, not wanting to miss a second of change, of darkness, of mystery. He was right. I could see the light change when I tried until I could see nothing but my own reflection in the glass. In this case the great mystery fell away because he stated the obvious. The obvious; that which was in front of me all of my life, yet I had never bothered to force myself to see before.
I noticed a few days ago the two hawks who watch me walk home from the bus stop at 6:55 am were still there, but they weren't waiting in the trees. They had already caught breakfast by then since I am an hour late due to savings time. The bluebirds still come at the normal time to devour my suet, but how many mornings have I missed them, wondering where they had gone, forgetting it was I who had changed. This charade all came to me in a rush tonight, not unlike that night as an eight year old so long ago. I stood in the driveway to chat with Orion and Sirius as is my wintry habit, when a great bright light shot through the blue black sky, straight through the Pleiades, over Orion's shoulder, burning out to the southwest just under Venus. Again I saw the obvious: the dead light from those dead stars, the burning light from that passing meteor, the living light of the sun reflected from a planet's surface. No man great or small can change the universe. We can study it, argue about it, try to manipulate it to suit our needs, even kill over it. Silly humans. We can only control how we see the universe and what we choose to believe about everything within it. When I force myself to look with open eyes, heart, and mind, I see the light again. I hope you do too.

I am taking a blog break for the next week and want to wish everyone who stops by here a very happy holiday season. I see I have visitors from over 30 countries now. I don't know all of your languages or customs, but it seems "You are loved and appreciated" translates in most. Be well, friends.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Best of Moms and the Worst of Moms


BEST: I've only knit two gifts this year. The first was the bookmark for my daughter's wonderful teacher and the second was a request I could not deny. It seems that if you are 3 and receive a pair of Incredible Hulk Hands as a prize for having the fortitude and prescience to potty train yourself, the next logical step would be to demand accessories. So, my loving boy asked for "Evil Hulk Socks" and has been wearing one to the point of felting it a bit as I finished the second. He loves them, I love them, we love each other, but do not be mislead; 3 year olds are cruel taskmasters. Every waking minute for the past few days has been filled with this conversation:
"Mama, finish me sock."
" I'm working on it honey."
"Mama, finish me sock. Now."
" I'm doing my best."
"Mama, finish me sock. Now. Pweese(insert tears and jutted lip here)."

Worst: My daughter writes in a journal each day at school. With each entry she draws a picture. On one she drew a strikingly accurate portrayal of me saying 'NO!!!!!!' to a drawing of herself dreaming of caroling. I have an absolute, deep, unrelenting hate for Christmas Caroling. I cannot explain it or deny it. My daughter apparently suffers a million deaths when I say no to the idea as evidenced by the six exclamation points in her picture. I was mildly bothered. Was my vitriolic response to caroling going to mess her up for life? Was I being a bad parent? But when I asked her about the picture she put the issue to rest.
" Can you tell me about this picture?"
" Yeah, I made it look like you were shouting and mean because every Christmas story has a grouchy person. Do you like the way I drew my hair? I'm the best draw-er."

So, I may be the Scroogey McScroogepants this year, but my son loves hand knit socks and my daughter already understands the import of character development and embellishment in constructing good story. My heart grew three sizes today. And I can hear Frances laughing from here.


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Hardest Step is the Most Important

While many of you are enjoying snow or cursing ice today, I am watching the rain fall and contemplating stone. The loud silence of fresh fallen snow is one of my favorite sounds, the ghostly shroud it gives the landscape one of my favorite sights. Of course, by the second day, the charm has turned gray at the edges and the silence broken by the grinding of salt trucks and plows. I'm south again, so rain and ice is more common than snow. The kids and I took advantage of the warmer air and hiked the trails left behind by the developer's bulldozers.

The stone you see in the stairway is what my yard looks like under the sod. This is my bit of mountain, pretty isn't she? After a long walk by the train tracks, over steep hills, under towering naked elms, and around the lake, we were tired and ready to go home. My daughter came to the stairs first. She didn't hesitate, stomped up each one, reaching the top quickly; confident to be the winner as usual. She tapped her foot impatiently waiting for my son and I.

He hesitated, stared up at the top, assessing the uneven terrain, the distance, the possible perils. He let go of my hand and went up on his own slowly, one step at a time, each footstep precisely landed. He reached the top grinning and proud, happy to arrive despite the challenge.

I watched them go up, dawdled and awed over the many colors in the first step. Oh, and look at the striations in this one, or the moss on the edges of the next. Wait, is that a cardinal chirping above? Where is he? Ok, what step am I about to fall off of looking into the sky. Hmm, I wonder what kind of stone this is, how old this piece, who put these here? What was I doing...oh, yes, climbing to the top. I'll get there, I just want to check out the view from this one for a bit. And look at the crunchy leaves on the wet soil, how delightfully they contrast. Let me get another picture. Hold on.

Now I am up top and my daughter is laying on the sidewalk tortured by the hours she has had to wait on me. My son is standing over her laughing that she will have a dirty bum when she gets up and I am still dreaming about each wondrous thing I just saw. Three very different ways of making the same journey. Is one better than the other? Of course we each think our way is the best. The important lesson lies in the compassion we have for others, allowing each to go their own way, eventually arriving at the same point together. Compassion is the most important step; you cannot reach the top with out it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Now Brown Owl Socks

I modified my owl a bit; he seems more alert now. I'm glad I was able to inject a bit of whimsy into a practical pair of brown socks. Whimsy is meant to be shared:
Owl Cable Insert for top-down socks:
1. P2, K8, P2
2. P2, C4F, C4B, P2
3-5. P2, K8, P2
6. P2, C4F, C4B, P2
7 -13. P2, K8, P2
14. P2, C4F, C4B, P2
15. P4, K4, P4
16. K

To work this into a toe-up or bottom-up knit, reverse it ( start with row 16, and cable C4B C4F).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daily Bread

I bake these rolls using this excellent method. I mix a batch of dough in the same bowl as I store it, and pull off little bits to make rolls every couple of days. To avoid the cornmeal/pizza stone mess, I bake the bread on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I also find the dangerous practice of pouring hot water into a pan in the very hot oven a waste. The crust is very crisp and the inside soft and chewy without the burnt knuckles. I calculate each roll costs me 27 cents to make.
I want to take a moment to say thanks to all of the bloggers who are producing such lovely holiday posts and crafts. I am giving myself a break from trying to impress you with tidings of wonder and joy. My efforts would be insincere and that is so not the spirit of this space. I have found more joy in the simple things like spotting planets, fresh baked bread, and birds gathering a few feet from my window to devour my homemade suet. Tinsel and carols just aren't on my radar yet. How are your holidays so far?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random Knitting: The Diary of A Seemingly Simple Sock

First this sock was going to be in the Hedgerow pattern. But, I kept messing it up. So I ripped back a bit and went with the good old standby, my fair friend, simple stockinette. But, I had to rip that back after a couple of inches and decrease stitches. Off and knitting again, until I saw Wazzuki's sweater. "Holy Guacamole, I love it!" I say to the computer screen. On the next random row of my perfectly plain brown sock I toss in a few purls, a few cables, and voila, I have an owl. I decide to make a cable panel down the front of the sock with wee owls. But, after my normally bright and perceptive family couldn't identify my addition as an owl, I ripped back again and just left the original bird in there. The second sock will not have an owl, or a hedgerow patterned cuff, and will take less than half the time to finish. But, it won't have a story, and that makes me a little sad. We should all have a story, born from mistakes, switchbacks, rocky roads, and finally, acceptance that our imperfections are what add interest to our otherwise simple character. Should I try to replicate the first sock or see what it makes of itself?
*Yarn is Pigeonroof Studios, gifted by the Lady many moons ago.
I swear it looks like an owl in person. I think. Maybe. Yeah.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Page 56

Meme time! Frances tagged me with the following: Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 56 and go to the fifth sentence, typing that sentence and a few others around it.

"But to be fair a lot of women might go to pieces after having a gun pointed at them, real or not. Shaking my head so that my hair, which I hadn't combed, tumbled out of its pins, I entered the kitchen, which didn't look as inviting as usual." The Importance of Being Ernestine by Dorothy Cannell

I haven't read Cannell's book yet. Did you know some people read the last page before they start a novel? Not me. I even read my horoscope at the end of the day. I fear reading it before anything has happened will effect my actions and I'll do things subconsciously to make the prediction come true. But if I read it at night I can find comfort in knowing my actions were all mine, free will and what not. I do, however, read the monthly horoscope at the beginning of each month to know if Mars will enter the 11th house of my solar plexus, or Venus and Jupiter will align with my gluteus maximus. Best not to be caught unawares there.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Dumb Stare

I am all about the owls popping up or should I write perching all over blogland. In most ancient cultures, the owl embodied both good and evil depending on the species. The symbolism of the wise old owl or the messenger of death still holds in modern times. I did find this in Wiki, which seems to me the best description of them all:
In Finland the owl is paradoxically viewed as both a symbol of wisdom, and as a symbol of imbecility, presumably because of its "dumb stare". Spot on.

Imbecility is the synonym of wisdom. The owl is wise enough to be compassionate towards the imbecile and imbecile enough to think this is wise. He symbolises the yin and yang of our humanity. I would like to think we are wise after all of these centuries of practice, but who are we kidding? We trample each other to death for a dollar, destroy whole civilizations for another dollar, and then use those bloody dollars to pay the bandits who stole them from us in the first place. I believe we can be better than this. The owl is our reminder to maintain balance, to see far beyond ourselves, and to seek the wisdom from within.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Le Petite Knock-Off

I just couldn't leave you for the holiday weekend with only a post about communicable diseases to remember me by now could I? Say hello to my new best friend:

Pattern: Anthro-Ispired Scarflet by Yorkiegirl (rav link)
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK in mist , held doubled , 2 skeins
Needles: US# 9 straights

Yorkiegirl did those that covet anthropologie a tremendously good turn by designing this scarf to mimic the Le Petite Scarf. She will have the pattern up as soon as she can on Ravelry. The scarf is quick, reversible, and snugly. The ends tuck into each other so the scarflet stays put which is wonderful. The apex of gaucherie might be when your strapless dress slides off, causing you to hunch and pull so many times the DJ thinks you are requesting the chicken dance, but accessories sliding into your hummus is a close second. I knit this in two nights and am planning many more. The only modification I made was to knit the body to 17" so I could wrap it over the thick wool collar of my coat.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Honey and Salt


This photo was the last I took since Thursday. There are a large number of geese that stay in our little park year round, but come late November, hundreds more stop by for the winter. This group was noisy, honking and calling, pushy and rambunctious, creating a stir in the more sedate locals on the lake shore. We all have those relatives don't we?
Right after I took this shot, my eyes began to water. I thought I was just cold. Little did I suspect that by the time I got home, I would be ravaged by a disease so debilitating it could easily end the manufacture of arms, wmd's, chemical agents, and eye liner. Yes, that infection that causes your own doctor to take a step back (!) as soon as you remove your chic sunglasses and reveal... conjunctivitis. It's pretty name is pink eye. As far as euphemisms go that one doesn't come close to masking the ugly truth. I am on the mend after ophthalmic antibiotic drops (which should be over the counter), constant hand washing, cotton ball compresses of warm water and honey, and tons of self pity.
Finally last night, while my husband and children were off at a party I was sad to miss, I popped in Like Water for Chocolate, picked up my needles, poured a glass of Mad Housewife, and cried my eyes out for poor Tita. The crying healed me. My salty tears and the honey water compresses worked their natural magic. I am able to knit, read, and leave the house again. Thanksgiving indeed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Celtic Braid Bookmark


Pattern: my own based on this chart by Sarah Bradberry
Needles: US #1 dpn
Yarn: Karabella Lace Merino
I modified the chart from the afghan square pattern to create one braid with a 3 stitch garter border. This used up the exact yardage leftover from one sock, so I have enough to make another in this color. This was relatively quick since it is small, but the pattern is detailed enough that I had to keep track of the chart as I went. Great for gifts. Make one for yourself and one for your favorite bibliophile!
I have published the pattern for Reid's Woolen Hat. The link to the pdf is on the sidebar as well as on Ravelry. I made a typo (an asterisk was out of place) in the original upload, so double check you have the newest version before knitting it. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
I am designing a pattern for stranded mitts but will not have that posted until the new year since I suddenly seem to be socially active and can't even find time to finish the sock I have on the needles. When it rains, it pours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Charming Gardener

A couple of weeks ago, my Step Grandmother, Dorothy, passed away. She was one of those souls that never meets a stranger. Five years ago Dot knit a blanket for my first born. It was the last thing she ever knit. Her hands were wracked with arthritis and she had to put her needles down. Being generous, she sent all of her needles to me, even though I could barely knit or purl. Included were a few pattern books for baby blankets and tucked into its pages were envelopes and scraps of paper with scratch marks, line counts, and notes. To a knitter this ephemera are precious patterns in themselves; the maps of an artist's mind. Her gift changed my life. I wouldn't be sharing here if she had not countered her sacrifice with generosity.

I will miss Dot, although for me she will never be gone; she is with me in every stitch I make, every gift I give, every person I make feel loved. Dot's light shines brightly in the twinkling eyes and cheshire grins of her children and grandchildren. I hope in their grieving they know their Mother's spark burns brightly in the hearts of every one she met. Let us all live by that standard.

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reid's Woolen Hat


Pattern: my own
Yarn: KnitPicks Merino Style in hollyberry
Needles: US size #5 dpn's

Reid is a friend of the family, a little guy that has the singular gift of being able to capture your heart and not let go. When his mom casually mentioned needing to buy him a hat, well, do you think I could bear his sweet noggin being clothed in anything less than hand knit love? So, after a few hours of knitting this is Reid's ticket to warm this season.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Threshold


A short walk from my house there is a fishing pond with green water full of catfish the size of my leg. On the north side hangs a swing, just a couple ropes and a board, enticing me to linger here and ponder things. I am drawn to swings and bridges, those spaces that are liminal, meaning they are neither here nor there. On the swing I am not on the ground, not in the sky. I am on the threshold between the world beneath my feet and the world above my head. Liminal spaces are perfect for ruminating and seeing your surroundings with new eyes, fresh intention, and a sense of possibility. For instance, how many of you noticed what time I took the picture?

I've heard that you can spot a tourist because they are always looking up. An inhabitant never looks up; presumably they have seen it all before, there is nothing new to bother with. I am determined to be a tourist in this life I inhabit. For too long, I've found myself shuffling along, assuming the world around me was never going to change, never would there be anything new to see. But today I feel different. I want to thank the person who hung that crooked wooden swing. If they hadn't acted with selflessness, I wouldn't have looked up to see the beauty that exists when you leave your cynicism on the ground and let your soul take wing.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To See Beauty Stiffened


The Death Of Autumn

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,—
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,—but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!—What is the Spring to me?

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, October 31, 2008

Boo!


Happy Halloween! Two hulking grey hawks perch themselves on the barren branches of a dead tree in the woods across from my house. Every morning they watch us walk to the bus stop, never moving. Every morning I ponder their silent silhouettes, glad such beautiful creatures are part of my routine. This morning, as I crossed the street to my driveway, they both swooped at me and screeched, scaring me to death. I am sure there must have been a mouse I didn't see, but I really would rather believe they were just celebrating Halloween and getting a good laugh from startling me.
I am consoling my hurt pride with the awesomeness I received in the mail from Irene. Look at those cute Eddie Caps (link to pattern in her sidebar)! The kids love them and I have already put my tote bag to good use. Thank you Irene, you are too generous (and ultra talented).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Mitt in Time

Many of my regular readers will have noticed I have used Knit Picks yarn for several finished objects lately. I am burning through a huge order I placed many months ago. Since yarn is not an essential (don't hate, just relate) to the family of 4 budget in trying economic times, I am using every single inch I can. This Victory Knitting has had two pleasant effects: less odd balls rolling around the stash and a queue of quick projects. My Toasty mitts are made from leftover gold (Felicity Hat) and grey (Liam's sweater). I even have enough of the grey to make another pair of mitts or a hat. I am earmarking anorexic cakes of sock yarn for bookmarks, cozies, ornaments, and baby socks. All of this wee knitting is my equivalent of canning vegetables for the winter. These mitts knit up in a few hours yesterday and I wore them to the bus stop this morning. Huzzah.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Gifts


Pattern: basic top down raglan with a cable, basic beanie with 6 cables
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash 'squirrel heather'
Needles: US #8 circs and DPN's
This set is for Liam, Cutest Baby Ever, who has been delighting the world for a couple weeks now. I planned to make a cabled set because let's face it, with a nickname like Liam, you can bet your Celtic Knots I'm going to cover you in cables. The only deviation from my original plan was to leave the sleeves off the sweater. Liam lives in sunny Florida, and I know from experience, babies will be fine in long sleeved tees under a vest or short sleeved sweater because of the 3 blankets we pile on them "just in case". My children now prefer to run around in the buff, probably a direct consequence of my swaddling them as if we lived on the tundra. The dashing Liam was kind enough to model . He also has wiggle room to grow- that is what I call a knitting success. One day I hope to meet Liam in person and kiss that peaceful face.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Felicity Hat

Pattern: Felicity by Wanett Clyde
Needles: US #6 and 8 circs
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash 'gold'
This little hat was a super easy knit. I cast on 80 instead of 70 and followed the directions from there. The pattern states the wearer of the hat can celebrate their hipster chic. I don't know about that. I could very well be celebrating being the muffin man (do you know him?), the baker (sans butcher and candlestick maker), or now that I see it on my head, Grumpy Dwarf. Regardless, I love this slouchy, odd, really comfortable hat so much I took pictures of my own head in the backyard when neighbors were around. My son sagely asked if I was doing my yoga. Yes, honey, if that is less embarrassing, I am.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkins, Of Course

What would a blog in October be without the pumpkin hunting pictures? This one was my favorite; such a nice shape with all those fabulous bumpy bits. Knitting is in full swing around these parts with socks, a hat, baby gifts, and mitts in various stages of completion. Some people experience a seasonal drowsiness when the days get shorter and the weather colder, but I have the opposite reaction. My little brain gets all active and fidgety and the next thing you know I am cranking out knits, letters, drawings, and stories late into the night. Since self diagnoses is one of my favorite hobbies, I'll call this condition SCD or Seasonal Creative Disorder.

Monday, October 20, 2008

History Lesson


Last weekend, my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Franklin, Tennessee. The weekend was perfect. Touring the battlefield and surrounding plantations was interesting, and the weather was beautiful. What I hadn't planned was falling in love with this small city in a big way. I can't recommend a visit highly enough, especially in the fall; the patchwork leaves on the mountains was breathtaking. The highlight was the Classic Franklin walking tour we took with Rene of Franklin on Foot. Absolutely worth every penny. Rene is an amazing docent who fleshed out the history of the town from the late 1700's to modern times, including a chance to sit among a priceless art collection (I won't spoil the surprise.)

The old retired guys and myself were there with civil war maps in hand, lingering over every plaque and asking a million questions, while the wives and Hubby gamely watched on, wondering when this would all end so they could get an iced tea somewhere. I couldn't help but see parallels between the viscious battles of the 1860's and the modern day cat fight we call a political campaign. Superficially, some of the verbiage is the same: campaigns, attacks, battleground states, opponents, a nation divided, war chest. Standing in front of historic homes riddled in bullet holes, witnessing neighboring modern houses with opposing candidate signs in their yards, and then standing over the blood stained hearth bricks and floors in Carnton, brought home just how little we have advanced as a nation at all. Here we are 144 years later with race and economics still pitting neighbor against neighbor. My hope is that we don't forget what the previous centuries of American men and women lived and died for: liberty to make our own decisions and accept the tremendous responsibility for each other that particular freedom entails.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
Thomas Jefferson

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ever and Anon: Headless Hessian Socks

"The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War,and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind...
Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. "

With the aide of Jack O' Leena, I recovered the head of the Hessian and commemorated the moment ever and anon in my socks. The horrible hunt was dicey to the bloody end as he was hot on my heels, but all is well that endeth well.


Go here for a terrific audio download of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (more satisfying than a political debate, trust me.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oak Socks


Yarn: Knit Picks Kettle Dyed Essential 'oak'
Needles: US#1 DPN

Last month Irene of Mushroom Villagers left a comment about how much she loved my socks and wished she had a pair to keep her warm. I could not live with myself knowing that a fellow crafty blogger would have to face a cold North Western winter with out the essential woolen footwear. I sent her an email asking (begging) to let me knit her a pair. She received them and took much better photos of them.
Thank you for the well wishes for my son. He is doing much better, but had us pretty scared for a few days. After many tests the docs determined he had a sinus infection that then infected his tonsils and epiglottis. After a massive shot of antibiotics and box of Popsicles he was up and running again. I am back from Franklin, TN and will fill you in on the trip later in the week as well as a sneak peek of my 'Headless Hessian' socks for Halloween...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Waiting

Today has been about waiting. Waiting for a fever to break. Waiting in the doctor's office. Waiting in the exam room for the blood work, the x-ray, the diagnosis. Waiting for a definite answer but finding only educated guesses. Waiting for the prescriptions to be filled, the take out to be made, the traffic light to change. Waiting for my son to get better. During all of this waiting, I didn't keep my constant vigil up for the first sign of Autumn. When I forgot to wait, she decided to wait for me and set the sugar maple in my yard on fire so I could find my way home.
Autumn Day
by Rilke

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one anymore.
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time,
will stay up, read, write long letters,and wander the avenues,
up and down,restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Bird In Hand?

To my horror , I discovered a small hole in a sweater I have come to love so much I bought shoes to match it. I think I got them both from Target. I couldn't let the sweater go so instead of relegating it to 'the wear around the house and hope no one rings the doorbell' kind of clothing, I got crafty. I mixed inspiration from Alabama Chanin, Anthropologie, with a dash of Sally Shim for good measure. I used small scraps of Joel Dewberry fabric and Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn to create this fix. I will let the edges fray in the wash so it is imperfect and casual. Be honest, do you think I can wear it out without people thinking I am the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, or should it be shunned and locked away in the house for fear the villagers might discover my un-holey secret?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Blue Jay Socks

Yarn: Knit Picks Kettle Dyed 'jay'
Needles: US#1 DPN

I used to have a big orange cat. I was 5 and convinced him to leave the house he lived in to live with us by depositing copious amounts of cheese singles in a designated spot on the driveway. I still remember the exact place along a crack in the pavement. I also remember the blue jays that attacked him regularly. They would screech and swoop at his backside and ol' Tom would just keep walking with an air of indignation and a cotton ball sized brain full of righteous hate. Do you remember too, Mom? These socks are for you. May they bring you as much joy as I would see in Tom's yellow eyes when he would deposit a blue jay in a designated spot by the kitchen door.

I finished these at 9pm last night in a mad rush because today I am casting on for Socktoberfest socks. The first pair will be black will skulls on them. I love Halloween and if I did not admire Helena Bonham Carter so, I'd kick her to the curb and marry Tim Burton just to watch him doodle all day. Oh, October, you make a girl ghoulishly giddy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sky Is Falling

Yesterday was my 7th wedding anniversary. My husband surprised me with this sock yarn. I am not sure what means more to me, the fact that he knew I would be beside myself with joy over the wool, or the fact that he actually went into a LYS by himself and picked it out. This feat of bravery speaks volumes to me about the wonderful man I married. Thank you honey, I love you. Perfect timing for Socktoberfest!

In other news, the markets were acting a little funny yesterday weren't they? I used to live in St. Louis and every morning the traffic reporters would warn of the back-ups in the Depressed section. This area happened to be near the downtown slums and for the longest time, I thought it was bold and unusual for the reporters to label the area Depressed as if it had been clinically evaluated, but I also found the unseemly truth in the moniker refreshing. Much later I mentioned this to my father in law who explained they call it the depressed section because of the topography, not the socioeconomic status. Oh.

I was wildly mistaken on that one, but can I blame myself or the fact our media has become the Chicken Little? I mean, I certainly feel like the news has become so sensationalized that if I were to be actively burning, and I read a headline stating, "Heather, A Woman on Fire", I would think, yeah right. So the markets plummet and according to the headlines and the pictures of the poor traders with their heads hung low this is Very Bad, but I keep waiting for the next headline to read, "Analysts Agree: Doom, Gloom Not So Bad Really."


I also read this real headline today on my homepage and found it incredibly funny: "Somali Pirates: We Are In It For The Money." Do we have to have this explained to us?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Public Service Announcement

* note to my husband: this is long, honey, and might end up in middle-earth; be forewarned.*

I recently watched Pan's Labyrinth (El Labertino del Fuano) . The movie came out in 2006, and I have had the title scrawled on the crumpled post-it that resides at the bottom of my purse to remind me what to borrow from our library. The catalog listed it as in, but after months of searching the P section and not finding it, the movie found me. First let me say, if you haven't seen this, do. If you can't stand some violent scenes, fast forward through them like me, but really, see this movie. I wish I could crawl into the writer/director Guillermo Del Toro's mind and root around a bit. The way this movie found me is particularly fitting considering this is a story of a young girl's encounters with a fairy tale world in the midst of a real revolution. I am sure there is some debate over religious symbolism and such, but as with all fairy tales, this story is about good and evil, and the slippery gray stepping stones between them.

While at the library earlier this week, I slipped into the conference room, where I rarely go unless it is to extract a wayward child, seating myself facing the tall reference shelves. I set to writing, but after an hour or so, I lost my momentum and I leaned back in the seat to stretch my neck, staring into space. When I looked up to the highest shelf, I noticed a dvd case out of place. It was flat, half of it hanging over the edge. Being a mom, I couldn't resist the urge to put it back neatly with its upright companions. I had to stretch up on my tippy toes; I even considered climbing on a chair if the librarian had not been in view. The movie fell off the shelf and hit me in the head. Humiliations galore that were all worth it once I realized I had found one small thing I had been searching for.

A few days later my husband made a comment about children being over scheduled. I pondered this, rolling it around in my head mixing with Del Toro's images for a few days, until (as all important revelations do) it came to me in a dream. I was talking to a young girl, one morphed out of bits of several I know, and she was reciting a laundry list of her daily activities. Every minute of every day was scheduled so she only stopped moving when she fell exhausted into bed at night. I asked her if she ever had time to get bored. Bored? She didn't even know what I was talking about.

I explained: when you have nothing to do you get really bored and stare at walls. When you think you are going to shrivel up and blow away from all of the nothingness you are doing, a door appears on the wall. The door looks different to every one, but you'll know your door when you see it. Open the door and there, on a table, you see a black iron key. The end of which has been hammered and forged in flames until your initials curl in the looping bow. Take it. The key unlocks the chest that is collecting dust in the groove between your brain hemispheres. The chest is your imagination. Unlock it and you own the universe.

If you have children, want to have children, or ever happened to have been a child, please let them get bored. In our efforts to keep ourselves busy, we have stunted our capacity to discover who we are, what we are capable of doing, and how to cope with good and evil, and the slippery gray stepping stones in between.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me



Happy Birthday Jim Henson, wherever you are. I have knitting in the works, some socks and a wee woolen gift, but I couldn't pass up the chance to share the magic. I always need a tissue when I listen to this song. Especially when Kermie sings it.

I also want to send you to check out today's post titled: At Prada, Milano by The Sartorialist. His photography is always impressive, considering he is usually snapping people on busy urban streets, but this particular shot resonates with me. The interest is the limited values, in the hair, clothing, background, creating a color photo that seems black and white. The strong features of the man are highlighted by the softness of his posture and the offset lighting. The subject is clearly a man who wears his clothes, not the other way around. I find the whole impression feminine and masculine. Soft and strong. Grazioso e scomodo. Perfetto!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's not Autumn-atic


Ah, here were are, the first day of Autumn. Have you seen the pretty colors Google chose for their header today? So very fall. I found myself with the rare free couple of hours thanks to my in laws and I took advantage. I wrote at the library for a couple of hours. (The resounding chorus of "just shut and write" from all of you was motivating in a slightly scary way.)

I got into my car to leave and sat for a moment trying to remember what I had forgotten. My child! Oh no, that's right, he is being watched. Then I saw something through the windshield and laughed at myself. Here I was sitting in my car with the windows up and the doors locked when outside the sun was shining, the breeze across the lake was cool, and some of the sugar elms were beginning to change from green to russet and gold. I was locked in the car as if the only atmosphere I could survive was freon. So, I had a break with the geese. I hope your first day of Autumn doesn't pass by without you, enjoy her, she visits so infrequently.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Layers

Anyone who has taken an art class will tell you the key to painting is not being able to draw a perfect figure and color it in. The trick is to layer the paint, fat over lean, building up the colors, filling in the negative space, until the subject appears in the light as if by magic. The same technique applies to writing. Words are the medium, layered and given rhythm, creating an atmosphere, a negative space which defines the subject. As in life, what is implied is as important to understanding the whole as what is obvious.

I have been busy convincing myself to write. Actually, I write all of the time, but I mean to give a story a go. The process of taking myself seriously has never been easy for me. I am mistress of the second guess. Like water, I carve my way, eventually shaping my world to my preferences, but I always take the path of least resistance. I barely resemble the person I know I could be. I am not talking about adding up accomplishments or tallying victories with a triumphant chalk mark. I am wondering why I have limitless faith in other people yet so very little in myself.

During a walk last night, as the sun set behind the mountain, and the first cool breezes of Autumn whistled in the elms, a doe sprang from the woods. She landed less than twenty feet from me, paused to size me up, then walked across the road, down the hill, to the river. At first I didn't see the doe, but the space the gray street, green grass, and golden lamp light formed around her. While my eyes saw the negative, my mind interpreted the form, then my whole being knew the doe was there. I wonder if it was the same for her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eye Candy


First, thank you ,thank you, thank you to everyone who left such nice comments about my previous post. I took the photo with the help of my camera's self timer, a shipping box as a tripod, and the occasional mutant ninja turtle action figure as hair/makeup talent. I love photography and your comments remind me to pursue it in earnest. This is the first photo of myself I actually approve of. Ever. This combined with the ego boosting comments has led me to change my avatar. You can all look at my mug now.

The photo above is antiqued to conceal the color since this is part of a pair of socks I am knitting for Irene of Mushroom Villagers. She knows about the socks, but I wanted to retain some element of surprise when she opens the package. I am almost to the heel on the second sock, btw.

So, where is the titular eye candy then? Thanks to my friend Nicole's movie suggestions, I have spent the past few evenings developing a ridiculous obsession for this guy. The tall, dark, smoldering good looks, the Scottish accent. Yeah, all bets are off.
What (or who) has caught your eye this week?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

La La Love You Cowl


Pattern:La La Love You Cowl by Sandra Park
Needles: US 8 circular
Mods: cast on 87 for a smaller circumference

I love how this turned out. I want to take it to dinner, not just coffee. On the subject of love, who hasn't felt like this when falling for someone? If you haven't yet experienced this love induced insomnia, just wait, it will come and you will gladly suffer along with the rest of us fools.


As night follows night,
I shift and turn my pillow,
my eyes open wide.
Long ago I dreamed of you.
How was I sleeping that night?

(anonymous Japanese 10th century)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'll Take Predictable for $200, Alex.

* Warning: Superfluous Usage of Italics Ahead*

When I read the intro to Sandra's awesome new La-La-Love-You Cowl (go here for the goodness) I was dismayed. She made hers in green so as to not be predictable in red or pink. I had a momentary crisis of self. I thought, Oh no! I have this kettle dyed bordeaux hued yarn that would look fabulous against my gray wool coat. But Oh! I don't want to be predictable. I don't want to seem uncool. I don't want Others to scoff at the scratchy inexpensive wool in the pinkish purple shade I've chosen when They will all be knitting with uber nice Malabrigo in hip tones. I had an absolute breakdown in my knitterly self confidence. I felt like screaming, Oh! am I to feel an outsider even to my beloved hobby? Am I always to be relegated to the fringe?

Then I remembered that if you choose to do what you think you should do in order to please Everyone Else, you really have chosen the predictable action, the result of which will leave you unhappy. I've operated under the assumption that my place in the world is always a bit on the fringe, uncool or not, and I can confidently say I am proud of my accomplishments because they are uniquely mine. So, if I choose the predictable palette with maverick intention, does this then qualify as an unpredictable act or possibly even ironic? Whatever. I'm knitting the cowl in fuchsia and I may not be hip, but I will be happy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Logwood Socks


Yarn: Madeline Tosh in logwood
Needles: US#1 DPN's

Oh the colors. Oh the softness. Oh the thousands of ways I am smitten. I can't quit them. Please, Fall, please come early.