Friday, September 29, 2006

a short post on a serious subject

Think about it.
How much courage would it take to be the only person who goes against the tide of authority?
Would you be willing to be the one who chooses to say no when everyone else is saying yes?
How did words like "torture" and "water-boarding" become part of our everyday lexicon?
Is there any justification for making the Geneva conventions optional?
What does it mean if we eschew the fundamentals of human freedom in pursuit of "freedom"?
What emotions would you be feeling if you were the newest judge in the trial against Saddam Hussein?
Is it possible to find a good resolution to any war?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

a birthday present


A present of a poem from a friend via email this morning:

"This morning's poem seemed perfect for you and your birthday. So, here it is. I hope you like it too."

"Messenger" by Mary Oliver from Thirst.© BeaconPress. Reprinted with permission.


Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let
me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients
are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up
clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Happy almost Jello birthday



This is awesome. My neighbor made me a jello birthday cake and her husband just delivered it to my front door!

Why jello? Because we were all having dinner with some friends. Somehow, the conversation turned to jello, and because we all have some sort of wierd cookbook (no value judgement here about Jello) on our shelves that we inherited or bought or recived as a shower gift in the dim, dark past, my friend actually had a jello cookbook.

We were comparing jello histories. They like the skin on the top. I hate the skin. (No Jello value judgement here either). They eat jello as regular food. I eat it only when sick. A meal consisting of the following courses heals most illnesses: chicken noodle soup (the kind that comes in the packet and you have to add water and then simmer), a toasted bagel, and some flavor of red jello, barely set.

I was flipping through the cookbook, while we downed Chinese dumplings and bruschetta, and had the best laugh I've had in months. The reason: a photograph of toasted white bread with a slab of green jello and some mayonnaise between the toast. Even someone who loves jello wouldn't want to eat that. Only in the 60s would someone even dream of printing a recipe of a jello sandwich.

I held the picture up for the rest of the table to admire, tears almost streaming down my cheeks.

"Who would ever want to eat this? Green jello on toast?" I asked. No, Janet, they explained. It's not toast, it's pound cake. And that's not mayonnaise, it's whipped cream.

Oh. Then everyone else started laughing, too.

Thanks, Shelly, for the cake and another reason to laugh at, I mean with, Jello

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

there are no (fortune cookie) coincedences

I spent the day at a training meeting on diversity and inclusion. Stopped on my way home to pick up dinner at Panda Express.

Fortune in my fortune cookie: "A diversity of friends is a credit to your flexible nature."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Is it Bakelite?


This is one of our finds from the resale shop down the street from our house.

I found it at the bottom of a box, and loved the clasp. This is the way it works: you lift up the piece at the center, and then each horizontal piece folds open at the middle point so that the opening forms a rectangle.

The incised lines and ivory color make it look like scrimshaw, but I doubt that it actually is ivory. Do you think that it's Bakelite? Any guesses about when or where it might have been made? Nothing inside to identify the bag, and the hardware seems to be handstitched to the cloth part.

More than Circular waits


Here sits More than Circular. On the advice of my teacher, I'm going to wait to finish it.

I ordered the yarn today, faxing the order off at about 1 p.m. and placing my hope in a fax-copier-scanner whose operations I have not taken time to figure out. It worked the last time, though, so I'm counting on it working this time. I wish that I could remember where I filed the instruction manual.

Once I receive the yarn, I'll need a few days to dye it, let it sit for 24 hours, rinse, and then dry the dyed fiber. With the first batch, I played with shades of turquoise on one skein; turquoise and marine blue on a second; then added navy to the mix for the third hank. To finish the shawl, which started with the bright turquoise and moved out into the purples and blues at the edges (double click on the photo to see color details better), I'll try to dye the yarn more in the deeper blue and violet ranges.

Last time, it was summer, and the yarn could dry outdoors. This time, who knows? The weather is perfect autumn today, but is supposed to turn rainy and cold later in the week.

In the meantime, I finished the lace poncho in Malabrigo. Nothing impressive about that, though; it was super easy. Yet I continue to fuss. I made the medium so that the little girl receiving it would have some growing room. Now I'm looking at it as it's blocking and thinking, "that looks huge." I could never size clothes for my own kids when they weren't with me, either. I would hold the little pants or shirt up to my leg and try to imagine how tall the daughter was: knee high, or shin high, and where the clothing would hit her. It was not an extremely successful maneuver, which is why I always found it a lot more enjoyable to shop with them than to try to do it myself. I'd rather buy it once than make numerous trips back and forth to do exchanges.

I thought about felting it. But patience wins out. And really, it's definitely time to go back to the hammock and read a Peter Robinson mystery.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

my first blog ring!

I'm in a blog ring. For y'all, as we say in North Carolina, where I spent a brief and somewhat but not entirely unhappy time as a freshman and half a sophomore in college, that's a collection of blogs connected by a subject matter, a geographic tie, or some thread that connects disparate blogs into an online community.

The good part is that it apparently brings more readers wandering into your blog from your neighbors' blogs. See the link in my sidebar: Midwest, etc., and the links that move you from blog to blog?

The other good part is that I'm in between Molly Bee's Attic and Minivan Mafia. Honest.

Today, the ring. Tomorrow, the button.

ingredients for a blog

A strong point of view.

Good visuals. Digital cameras are the blog's best friend. The more color and texture the better. Posing the subject, alive or inanimate, like a layout from a shelter or fashion magazine doesn't hurt either.

Lively writing with a strong sense of voice.

A tone that hovers between the personal and the public, that either moves outward in subtle circles as it draws connections or draws readers happy to observe this small space. This is a genre that mimics a diary, but is open to the world to read. A very tricky tone is called for. Neither whining nor self-pitying, but self-aware, sufficiently convinced of the interest of its day-to-day activities to imagine someone else wanting to know about them.

Posts on a regular basis: every other day at least is nice for the reader and the writer.

Willingness to expose one's foibles.

Willingness to admit that you routinely use words like "foibles."

Addendum and variation to above 2 rules: a strong sense of language, irregardless of the type of language. One person's foibles are another person's snarkiness. It's not the language itself, but the consistency and mastery of that language.

Affection for the subject matter, and this holds true even more for those angry blogs. If you don't care about something, why bother criticizing it? Also known as the Last Person Chosen for Fourth Grade Kickball Rule.

Lively investigations into every topic imaginable, from faith and ethics to a response to Julia Childs' death from one woman trying to cook the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.

Willingness by the blogger to let go of the outcome. Process, not product.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

almost done with More than Circular


This is my Saturday afternoon. A cup of tea, trying to finish the Easy Lace Poncho (over in the corner of the couch), and resisting the urge to bind off More than Circular.

I'm almost done with what is shawl #2 out of 10 in the series of shawls I'm making for my staff.

Last year I made scarves for everyone. I started knitting in November and finished up sometime in February. In between, I made myself the Shetland Triangle Shawl from Wrap Style. Because I am lucky enough to work with smart, creative women, they noticed the shawl and quickly planned my next project: wraps for everyone on the staff.

I don't mind. I like knitting for other people. I told them they were on, as long as no one expected to have her shawl by a certain date. I'm not knitting wildly in preparation for Christmas, just trying to get one done every month or so.

A project like this also helps you to get out of a color rut. I realized, a few months ago, that everything I'd knit was blue: sky blue, gray blue, navy blue. Now I'm knitting for tall and short people, brunette or auburn or blonde, light skinned and dark skinned.

Most crucial variable: does she run hot or cold? You all know what I'm saying here: are you the person turning down the thermostat at work or home or the one putting on an extra sweater?

Shawl #1 was the Kiri shawl from All Tangled Up for a cold person. I used Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk in a grass green color, overestimated the amount of yarn needed, and ended up with a very large shawl for someone who's about 5'2". But it seems to be okay, and she can wrap herself in it while sitting on the couch with her daughters or standing outside chatting with the neighbors. I'll post a picture when she comes back from vacation.

I hope to finish More than Circular this week. I'm stuck at the moment. Only one ball of my handdyed yarn left, and not enough lace experience to jury rig a way to bind off or edge it on my own. I went over to my FYS for advice. The lace expert wasn't in, so I bought an amazing apple tart, looked at some Debbie Bliss silk in just the right shade of blue (I know, but that's what the recipient asked for), bought a Noni pattern for a perfect felted baguette, and lime green Lucite handles to go on it. Knowing I had some grey Cascade 220 in my stash, I resisted temptation to buy the dark brown and pistachio yarn or the pink for the felted flowers decorating the bag in the picture.

Monday morning I'll go back and get some advice from the lace expert. In the meantime, I'm trying to continue my effort to learn patience by not just going ahead and binding off at row 74.

I will not bind off. I will not bind off. I will not bind off.

Friday, September 22, 2006

brain fuzzed

Goal this morning: stop and sit still at least ten minutes before hurtling myself into another non-stop day.

It's been nuts this week. And the more that it would help to do some yoga or meditate, the less that I feel like making time for it.

Fall is my Christmas: too many things to do, lots of occasions to remember and mark, the weather starting to get gray and dark. Just when I could use some sun and some quiet, it all goes to hell.

No more writing this morning. Getting my coffee, then setting the timer and not moving for at least ten minutes. Going to just focus on breathing in and out. Nothing magical, but meditating is sort of like taking a broom and sweeping out some of the clutter in the mind.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tea


This beautiful melange of colors is Herbal Blend No. 1152 from Tea Gschwender. Rose hips, apple pieces, cinnamon, cranberries, hibiscus blossoms, blackberry leaves, lemon grass.

It's like a poem.

It comes from this amazing store near where I work. At first, it's overwhelming. So many choices. Green or black or white tea. Fruity or aromatic or smoky. Hot or cold. Not a good place to go when you're tired and at the end of the day and you just want an iced tea to drink on the way home.

But very good if you figure out a method. Last night I worked with someone who loves the place, and she has come up with a system. She begins by asking to sample either the hot or cold tea brewed daily. Every day it's a different tea, and this way she's starting to develop a base line of knowledge. If she likes the sample, she orders that. Otherwise, she tries something new.

So, today, when I needed to get a breath of fresh air, I went over to the store and tried this approach. Much better. I didn't even sample. I just ordered the iced green tea, which I was told was fruity and very refreshing. Honestly. That's the way they talk: this place is very serious about its tea.

But the stuff was great. A very pale green color, dry, a little bit medicinal like licorice or tonic water.

I'm hooked.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My first knitalong button!

Check it out in the sidebar: my first knitalong button! Isn't it beautiful?

It's from the Icarus Shawl Knitalong, hosted by froggy_dear, and full of great pictures and good posts, including comments from the designer, Miriam Felton.

Thanks to the friend who helped me to install the button, and to the friends who offered help.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Fairy Tale to Watch

"The Cat Returns": an anime coming-of-age in which cats walk, mazes move, a fat white cat jumps into a bowl of catnip jelly, and a young girl learns to like herself just as she is.

A nod to "The Wizard of Oz," "The Prisoner," and other twentieth-century fairy tales.

Haru's mom is voiced by Kristen Sutherland, the mom from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Organizing


There's something immensely satisfying about organizing stuff.

My favorite way to organize is to throw things away. This makes the people that I work with as well as my family somewhat frustrated at times. I love the sight of an empty desk, a blank computer screen, a dining room table free of newspapers and books and mail and coffee cups. Even when I'm the one who walked away and left the mess behind.

This is how disorganized I've become in the last few weeks: Friday morning, I suddenly realized that I could go out and buy clean clothes and not have to fold all the laundry waiting in the baskets from the last time the wash was done. It was eerie. I never expected to be one of those people who circumvent chores by simply replacing the stuff that needs work.

I did resist temptation to take that path.

But today, I spent a very satisfying, sad as that is, 20 minutes finally organizing some gauge swatches and the notebook in which I keep track of my projects.

Both very low-tech systems, both nicely tactile and somewhat like a journal.

The gauge swatches are stapled to the back of white 4X6 inch index cards.

On the face of the card I write the name of the project; designer's name; source of the project (a book, a magazine, a store pattern); the name and color code of the yarn; any techniques applied to it (such as dyeing and the name and type of the dye); needles (sizes, metal or bamboo, circular or DPN, length); the gauge result.

In the journal, I start each new project on the right-hand page. At the top corner, the start and conclusion dates. Much the same information as on the card, but now I note only the needles I used, and I add the amount of yarn used for the project.

I staple a sample of the yarn and the wrapper from the yarn skein to the page. That way, I can remember how the project looked and felt as I worked on it.

I used to take notes in this journal, keeping track of pattern repeats or the length of the WIP. Now I keep that minutaie in a small notebook in my knitting bag. I don't mind if it gets lost; I would be far sadder if I lost the journal, which is a bit like a baby book for my knitting.

The notes I now include in the journal are reactions to the pattern, to the experience of knitting the project, perhaps something that happened while I was knitting, perhaps something about the person for whom I'm knitting.

On my second effort on the Waterlily Top, I wrote: "aargh. . . I worked all the way to the top of the front. . .only to discover that the top is now too small - too tight around hips and midsection, armholes too tight - and because I did not alternate skeins of Giotto, one side of front has red/pink blotches while other side does not - ergh, rip and try it again-"

I don't know that I've ever before used argh and ergh in a sentence, or that I ever will again. But the notes bring back my frustration and my unwillingness to give up: I was going to triumph over this project!

My notes from the Icarus Knitalong, in contrast, look like this: "a great KAL experience for a new blogger - a very nice group of knitters/bloggers."

Is there a way that you like to keep track of your knitting life? Feel free to leave a comment and share your system. Don't worry: my stash is overflowing the laundry basket in my living room, too.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Supta Padangusthasana


First, off, this is not me.

This is a perfect model from one of the popular yoga magazines' websites. I'm allowing her to be present because she provides a great visual of a pose I taught today, Supta Padangusthasana.

I usually begin my class with quiet: a few minutes of sitting comfortably on the mat at the beginning of class. It's probably one of the only moments that most of us sit still all week long.

Some Saturdays it can be uncomfortably silent in the room, or blissfully peaceful, or even raucous and silly, such as those meditative opportunities broken into by the sound of the Moose Club tossing their empties from Friday night rousings into the dumpster

Today, between the cool autumn air, the small size of the group, and the seasonal sense of everything slowing down, all felt restful before we began.

Instead of sitting quietly, we started out with Supta Padangusthasana: a pose that stretches the hamstrings and fronts of the legs, begins to release the hips and shoulders, and stretches the soles of the feet.

Like the model, lie on your back, extend the left leg into the mat, bring a strap around the ball of your right foot and extend the right heel to the ceiling . Slide your hands down the strap until your elbows are grounded.

Why the strap, you may be wondering? Well, for most of us, we are not sufficiently limber to hold onto our foot and straighten the leg. Thus, strap supplements arm quite nicely.

Now, the work begins. Extend your heel, point your toes more at your forehead, press the left leg into the mat, straighten the right leg. Extend the heel again, and straighten the leg again, because it is so darned lazy and would rather relax than work. Then straighten the left leg again, press out through the heel of the left foot, press the thigh bone into the mat. Because while you were paying attention to the right leg, the left leg was shirking.

Breathe, because at this point you've probably lost any attention to a smooth, rhythmic breath.

Release. Repeat on the other side. This time, the mind is a bit more willing: it knows the score and has a hazy sense of how long the pose will last, so all seems a bit more reassuring. This is an illusion, however, because each side, each pose, each moment will be different that what one expects.

That's one of the rewards of a yoga practice: you learn, by working so intently on controlling the body, that control is elusive, and not all that important after all. Process, not end result.

And, by dividing time into individual breaths in and out, you build into your experience that every moment is living, instead of life being something out there that you are waiting to achieve.

Now, Savasana, or final relaxation. Lie down on your back. Close your eyes, let the feet flop to the side, relax your jaw. Take a deep breath, exhale. And then, allow yourself to be still for at least five minutes.

And it's fine to have silence. Just like the staying still part, try to think back to the last time you sat with no sound, no stimulation from television or radio or conversation. Notice the many sounds that you miss when you fill each moment with noise.

Emptiness is okay.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What Not Knitting Looks Like


This is how much not knitting I did last night.

Finished the body section. Bound off the neckline. Finished about two inches of the side.

It's hard to resist this yarn. And the pattern, Easy Lace Poncho from Fiber Trends is, as promised, actually "super easy to knit": capable of being knitted without mistakes, by me, while watching t.v. or talking to another human being.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Not much knitting

Not much knitting getting done around here. I've had an incredibly busy few days, and today when I drove the car into the garage, I thought: glass of wine, backyard, read.

Stopped at the library on my way home and collected an armload of books. I was looking for something comforting but well-written, which is neither a genre nor something easily found. It doesn't have to be snooty, just literary enough. The very helpful librarian suggested Eat Cake, which I've tried and found not well enough written; Plainsong, which I came in looking for and realized that I'd already read; and Pomegranate Soup, which I brought home.

I also collected The Time Traveler's Wife, a Peter Robinson mystery, the new Gael Greene biography (is it Insatiable?), and mindless but entertaining Soap Opera Digest (the library near my town subscribes!) and an April issue of Gourmet, because May was about grilling and potentially not vegetarian-friendly and everything more recent was checked out.

Take out from the local Indian restaurant and the new season of Survivor will be the plan for the evening.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Patience, no. 2

Always wait a little longer than you expect to have to wait.

Family

We had dinner last night with cousins who I have not seen in at least 25 years.

And it was really nice.

She came out to Pittsburgh and lived with us for a while when I was a little kid. I still remember a guy that she dated, who rode a motorcycle, took me for a ride around the block (my one and only ride ever), and would hold me up to the ceiling so that I could touch it with my hand.

Turns out that this was a friend of my father's. Who knew?

It's rare for us to spend time with relatives. Almost everyone we are related to live about three states away.

But the older I get, the more I appreciate the history, comfort, and absurdity of having a family.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 and the letter H

"Sesame Street" is the best television to watch today.

It says far more about people, diversity, New York City, and compassion than any news program about 9/11.

Today's letter is H.

H is for Hola: "hola," "hola" "hola," all the kids are saying as they walk by Elmo, sitting on a brick wall. But Elmo doesn't understand what they are saying until Maria explains that the word means hello. Elmo, first sad that he has no one to say his new word to, then looks right at the camera and says "hola" to everyone - a melting pot of an audience - watching the show.

H is for heroics: a little cartoon character hidden by the huge fireman's hat he's wearing, then saved by another cartoonish character who turns a big fireman's hose on him to wash the hat away.

H is for hungry: Cookie Monster proudly showing off a chocolate chip cookie with an icing H.

And H is for hope.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Things to Recommend doing in the Twin Cities


Find a hotel that lets you bring your dog along.

Spend as much time as possible lying on the very large, very comfortable bed with dog (see above), watching Roger Federer and Andy Roddick in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open.

Wonder about the truth or fiction of all the awful things you've heard about hotel bedspreads. On the first day, remove the bedspread and lie on the blanket while watching t.v. On the second day, throw caution to the wind and lie on the bedspread.

Keep the bedspread on when the dog reclines, like Cleopatra going down the Nile on her barge, on the bed.

Eat at Everest on Grand, a Tibetan restaurant, where you discover that Gewurtztraminer is way too girlie a wine to drink with curries and pakoras. Observe the extremely large bottle of Indian beer that your husband has ordered, and wonder about the super sizing of alcoholic beverages.

Sleep in until a quarter to nine. It's the latest I've slept in in the last two months.

Go to yoga at One Yoga in St. Paul with your daughter. Walk several blocks from the neighborhood where we park to the yoga place. Admire how clean and organized and beautiful the studio is. As you enter, you come into a large room with a wooden reception desk, and behind that, a lovely sitting area painted sage green, with big upholstered chairs in sage green velvet and an Oriental carpet. The studio has a shiny cork floor, exposed wooden beams, walls of a cinnabar color, and a large skylight that pours sunlight into the room. The class is challenging, but it feels good and surprising to be able to balance in Crow pose and hold a headstand for, maybe, two minutes.

Walk over to the pizza place for dinner. Walk back to my daughter's house. Walk over to the student center to buy cheap movie tickets. Walk to the theater and see "Little Miss Sunshine." Enjoy laughing. Especially enjoy the ending, which gives a great take-down of little girl beauty pagents. Favorite character: Dwayne, a teenager with bottle black punk hair, pale skin, and a Nietzche t-shirt who has taken a vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force Academy and communicates by writing emphatically magic marked notes to his family. Very "Harold and Maude."

Walk back to my daughter's house.

Leave the dog overnight with my daughter and her roommates, who are happy to have a pet for the night. When we go back in the morning, we are told that they had a slumber party, painted each other's nails, and stayed up too late. This wouldn't be so plausible if the dog hasn't always wanted to be a part of the party when my daughters had slumber parties for their birthdays. We would have to drag the dog out by the collar, or she would flop herself down in the middle of a heap of pre-teen girls and wouldn't leave for anything. In the morning, we would come down to a pile of sleeping kids and the dog, blissfully arranged in the midst of them.

Drive home through a cold, misty rain. Make some progress on a new project: a poncho for a colleague's daughter.

Realize that good materials make the difference. Malabrigo is a pleasure to knit: soft, lustrous, and saturated with color that still have some varigation throughout the skein. This is Shocking Pink from the Yarnery in St.Paul, which I was told would be the right choice for a little girl. So much more enjoyable than the washable acrylic with a bit of wool that I'd initially tried for this project.

There's no substitute for good yarn or good olive oil.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tech question

I'm trying to figure out how to get each post to have its own "address," so that when readers link to a specific post, it will show as a specific, named address - instead of every post showing as http://pegotty.blogspot.com.

Yikes. Does that make sense?

In any case, if you're a bit tech savvy, can you point me in the right direction to figure this out?

I've tried enabling Permalinks and republishing the index and blog, but no change - all posts keep showing as my blog URL.

Icarus




Project: Icarus
Designer: Miriam Felton
Source: Interweave Knits, Summer 2006
Yarn: KnitPicks laceweight 100% wool
Dye: Koolaid, Pink Lemonade and Mandarin Orange at various dilutions
Amount: 850 yds.
Needle: size 4 24" Inox circular
Size before blocking: 49" wide by 28" long
Size after blocking: 59" wide by 34" long

Here it is.

I feel like I'm trying to get a good picture of the baby. I photographed the finished shawl last night and then again this morning, and just can't seem the get the right shot.

But if you double click on the full length picture, you'll be able to get a better feel for the detail and the colors in the fabric.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Done!

Done.

Ahhh.

Big sigh of relief. A shoulder massage would be welcome right about now.

But I am very happy with the result. There's something alchemical about a heap of knitted stuff turning into this beautiful, lacy wrap. Pictures tomorrow, outside so that you can see how delicate the lace is, before I drop it off at the yoga studio one day before the benefit and silent auction.

I know that it will find a good home.

It's going to be just right for autumn, for sitting and reading, for meditating.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

napping

Fell asleep in the hammock this morning for a few minutes, and spent the rest of the day with my brain thinking that it was time to go to bed.

before blocking



I finished binding off last night at about 10 p.m.

But I waited until this morning to lay Icarus out and photograph it pre-blocking.

That's because I found an open, bright pink highlighter at the bottom of my knitting bag yesterday, which had bled all over my pattern. I was amazed and relieved that the shawl hadn't been touched. Usually, my carelessness serves to teach me a lesson. This time I was lucky.

And because, after I finished taking pictures the other night, and tried to catch a few of the cat looking clever in front of the shawl, I discovered that what looked like her turning little circles and playing was actually Belle chewing through my yarn. It was only when I picked up the shawl to continue knitting that I discovered that she had bitten through the thread, and I had to start a new strand. I wouldn't have figured out the culprit, except that I then remembered that one of my knitting teachers, who specializes in lace, told the class that she has to keep her projects locked away or her cat will dine on her shawls.

So, released this morning, here is Icarus, pre-blocking.

And a picture of the yarn left. Not much, but enough to finish the shawl without having to find another yarn to coordinate with the handdyed Pink Lemonade and Orange Mandarin Koolaid colors.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

ready to bind off



Last row done. Ready to bind off.

And yes, it is very early, but I couldn't sleep and thought that it would be great to have this off the needles by the time I leave for work.

Monday, September 04, 2006

your turn

Today is your turn: what's your favorite book?

You can post your answer by clicking on the "Comments" line below. And you can choose to post anonymously, or by real name, or by on-line name.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday

Risotto for dinner.

Ten more rows of Chart 4 on Icarus, then 4 rows of edging, then bind-off.

My deadline has moved up two days; I'm taking an unexpected trip this weekend.

No pressure.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's all about the focus, baby!

Here's my day so far:

Wake up a bit later than planned. I know that I turned the volume of my clock radio up, but I still didn't hear it go off. My husband woke me up for the second time this week, which is probably two more times than he's had to wake me up this year.

Drink coffee, get dressed, read a tiny bit of the New York Times.

Teach my Saturday morning yoga class.

Go to Caribou Coffee. Find a nice table by the window and knit until the line goes down. Observe that little boys are always busy, and always fascinated by trains. Wonder how many times in a day his parents will say "Charlie, come back!" Suddenly, the place is quiet, and I can order a steamed milk with vanilla and a piece of lemon poppyseed cake. Keep knitting. Get very good advice from a friend who returns my phone call.

Go back to the yoga studio and take a class to relieve a very stiff back (from knitting and not practicing yoga all week long). Lots and lots of twists. Lots and lots of props: blocks and straps and a chair and a bolster, all of which help me find the way into the pose. Manage to clasp my hands behind my back in a seated twist that turns into a forward folder. Wonder if my arms aren't actually short in proportion to my body, which has been my excuse for not being able to do Gomukhasana without a strap.

Come home, eat lunch, read a bit more of the Times.

Knit. Knit while watching food shows on PBS. Are all the folks who work at "America's Test Kitchen" obsessive and detail-oriented, or is it me? Take pleasure in learning that Hershey's cocoa (albeit the Dutch process version) wins the taste test at $3 a can, after the host and hostess diss the $20 Callebaut cocoa available only by mail-order. But it won, I think, and should receive appropriate honors.

Wonder, along with just about everyone else participating in the Icarus KAL, whether I will run out of yarn before I finish. Go to the blog and look for hints about how to bail out at row 5 of Chart 4. Find no solutions that I can implement, due to my still-novice status as a lace knitter. Go boldly forward, hoping that I'll either have enough yarn or will come up with a Creative Solution.

Run to the library to pick up an interlibrary loan, look for enjoyable and semi-mindless DVD to watch while knitting. Come home, among other selections, with the 27-CD version of Anna Karenina. I plan to give it the first few sentences, and if I don't bond with the narrator, it's done. Also, Seven-Up with a reader I haven't heard before, Huckleberry Finn, an Anne Tyler novel that was a NY Times Notable Book (usually a good bet), and a Bharati Mukerjee novel. I guess last night's meme followed me to the library.

Sit on the front porch and knit. Listen alternately to "A Prairie Home Companion" and WXRT until my Walkman dies suddenly due to "Lo Batt."

Keep knitting. Wind the last hank of yarn and think that maybe, possibly, I'll have enough yarn to finish.

About ten rows of Chart 4 left to go, plus 4 rows to finish and bind off.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Book Meme


Found this meme on MimKnits and liked the questions and her answers. With apologies for not knowing the ultimate source to credit, here goes:

1. A book that changed my life:
Anna Karenina. I've read it several times. It has the best opening sentence of any book ever written ("All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.") All right, The Tale of Two Cities has a great beginning too.

But this book showed me that you could have majesty, beauty, unhappiness, family life, and historical sweep in one big book. I love the length of it: long enough to really live with the characters, but not drawn out to the point of stretching. And what an ending! I won't give it away, but it is amazing and realistic and dramatic and moving and full of lots of lessons that we can all stand to learn.

And you can see, from the yellowed pages and the cracked spine of my paperback, how long I've had it and how many times it's been read.

2. A book I have read more than once:
I'm gonna be honest here, and admit that it's the Harry Potter series. I wish I could claim it was Shakespeare or Henry James. But the truth is that when I reread, I want something well-written but comforting, something that reassures me that in the midst of the mess that we are making of the world, that something good remains.
I also reread all of the Shoes series this winter when I was sick.

3. A book I would take to a desert island:
Huckleberry Finn. One of my less stellar moments as a grad student was sitting on my front porch, studying for orals with some friends, inanely emoting about Huck and Jim. There is so much that I missed in my first reading of the book. If I had time, I'd want to be a smarter, closer reader. If nothing else, the Duke and the Dauphin chapters at the end could give you lots to think about, if you're considering any one of a bunch of ways to read the book: American history, commentary on American culture, America's obsession with monarchies, the flim-flam side of our nation, the heritage of slavery, and so much more.

4. A book that made me laugh:
Hmm, that's a tough one, I'm accustomed to taking a too Serious view of reading. I guess it would be a toss-up between the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich and The Phantom Tollbooth. My husband worked for years to try to get me to read Janet Evanovich, and I kept putting him off. Finally, I think that I picked up a paperback to read at the beach, and he was right: they are hilarious. If you've read any, I just have one word for you: Lula. Well, maybe two words: thong.

5. A book that made me cry:
I don't cry when I read, that I can recall. I'm definitely a crier at movies. Not a sobber, just those quiet tears that keep trickling down your cheeks. You swipe them away, and then you swipe them away again.
Ah, now I remember. The end of The Lovely Bones. The most beautiful book on death and being young that I've read. The writing is lyrical, smart, sweet, and telling. What could have been an unbearable gimmick - having a young girl narrate the story after her murder - becomes a poetic look at families, friends, and retribution.

6. Oops - I think that this question was: A book that I would like to write.
Let's agree that it is. . .I'd like to write a yoga book that has some humor in it. There must be a way to write about yoga that is not overly serious or New Agey. Something grounded in the literature and philosophy, but that would offer new students and more experienced students ways to think about yoga's relevance to life outside the yoga studio.

7. A book that should have never been written:
I don't think there is such a thing. Books are like ice cream: some people like vanilla, some people chocolate. It doesn't mean that one flavor is better than another; they're just different.
The corollary to this is that I believe that there is a book out there for everyone. When someone tells me that he doesn't read, I tell him that I believe that she just hasn't found the right book yet.
My neighbors in Ohio had twin boys. One started talking at an average age. The other did not talk for several years. They took him to doctors and had him tested, but nothing showed up. Then, one day, as his dad was backing out of the driveway and the little boy was sitting in the back seat, he started to talk. Apparently he had nothing to say until then, and so had no need to talk.
I think books and reading are like that. When you find the right book, then you start to read, and you don't look back.

8. A book I am currently reading:
I'm finishing The Bee's Kiss by Barbara Cleverly, part of a series about a detective named Joe Sandilands. The first books are set in India, and have lots of good back history on the culture and mores of turn-of-the-century India. This one, however, is set in England, and is a much more conventional British mystery. I miss the rajas and tigers and colonial politics.
I'm also reading slowly through the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They are dense and aphoristic, and it's helping me to understand them by reading one aloud every class or so to my students, and trying to unpack the meaning for and with them.

That's it. Feel free to send me a comment if you decide to work your way through this meme --



I'm onto row 5 of Chart 4 of Icarus, and asked for some kind words about light at the end of the tunnel, and so forth on the Knit Along blog I've been participating in.

I need to have this finished and blocked by next Friday, at the latest, so that I can come through with my promise of a hand-knitted, hand-dyed lace shawl for a silent auction for a fundraiser.

No pressure.

But I did receive a nice response from the designer, Miriam Felton, who commiserated and said that she found the last part of this shawl slow going.

Support and random acts of kindness from unexpected visitors.
That's one of the things that I like about blogging.