Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dog hairs in my knitting again

You all were so kind and sympathetic when my much-loved Max died. So I wanted to share some joy with you. Meet the newest member of our family: Brodie.

He's a 14-month-old from Golden Retriever Rescue, and I'm already completely ga-ga over him after two days. Isn't he handsome?

Of course, Brodie has issues. The poor fellow has been through four homes in his short life so he hasn't had much training (although he's pretty solid on "sit"). He's a bit of a juvenile delinquent when he's loose in the backyard. It looks like a colony of gophers has moved in, and he's attacked a couple of innocent bushes for no apparent reason. "Heel" is an alien concept to him but he's not a puller on the leash, thank goodness.

So we're off to obedience school starting this Friday. Actually, I have to attend the first class without Brodie. I guess they figure humans need training too.

The good news: I'll have dog hairs in my knitting again. Wahoo!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reprise: Finishing Things

My new website is about to go live (look for the announcement soon--with a special contest!) so I was combing through my old one for things I didn't want to lose. I found this entry in my "From the Garret" page (which will soon become a blog). It seemed very appropriate for this blog so I'm posting it as a reprise.

From May 2006:

Women’s lives tend to be filled with tasks that never end. I personally own an enchanted laundry basket; by the time the last load of clean clothes is in the dryer, the basket has magically refilled itself. Then there are the days when I vacuum the family room carpet and five minutes later half the soccer team stampedes through throwing clots of dried mud off their cleats. By the time I’ve managed to pay the last bill for this month, the first bill for next month is due.

That’s why actually completing a project is cause for celebration. Below is a photograph of my (beautiful) teenaged daughter modeling the shawl I just finished making for her. Wahoo!

I enjoyed the knitting tremendously. As fellow author Barbara Bretton says, it’s great therapy. Granted, I had to learn strange new stitches and do some ripping out when I lost track of the pattern. The fringe was a bit tedious, requiring a lot of hand-knotting, and blocking something that size was a challenge. But it’s complete. I can sit back and bask in the glow of my accomplishment, knowing that there’s nothing else I need to do to it.

Almost the same day I trimmed the fringe on the shawl, I sent the finished manuscript of my romantic suspense novel Music of the Night to my agent. I had actually typed “The End” a couple of weeks before but a book is not really finished until it’s in print. There are synopses to write and revisions to make and typos to correct so I had to take care of those tasks before I mailed it out. However, it’s a good feeling to have the manuscript sitting on my agent’s desk rather than my own. For just a few days I can dream about bestseller lists without having to do anything about getting my book on one.

We have to celebrate the few things we truly get to finish—with chocolate or champagne or a happy dance down a public sidewalk. Completion is a rare joy.

(All right, I lied about being finished with the shawl. I just discovered one more task I have to accomplish, the most difficult of all: getting my daughter to fold it up and put it away in her room!)

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Indulgence: Video knitting

After Barbara's enticing description of the Baby Surprise Jacket, I went in search of directions for an adult version thereof (mostly because I don't have any babies to knit for at the moment). In my hunt, I discovered this knitting video on Amazon.com. I couldn't resist; I indulged myself by ordering it (along with the utterly delightful book A Place in the Shower Schedule, published by our colleague-in-blogging, Fran Baker).

What a treat it is to have Elizabeth Zimmerman's own daughter, the gentle-voiced Meg Swansen show us her mother's great invention step-by-step. Her unhurried speech, nimble fingers, and some great camera angles make the instructions crystal clear. Best of all, she demosntrates all sorts of nifty additional techniques and features, such as:

-- invisible cast-on

-- i-cord cast-off

--various shaped collars

--a matching bonnet with and without a flange

--button loops

--adding a continuous line as a design element

--and, of course, how to size up for the adult version.

Somehow seeing these techniques, as opposed to reading about them, makes them easier to learn.

Ms. Swansen also shows you some of the Baby Surprise Jackets her mother knitted in various colors and designs.

One camera trick amused me. I'm sure you've seen old movies where the hero and heroine sink onto the bed locked in a passionate embrace, and then the camera cuts to blowing curtains or breaking waves or some other metaphor for sex.

Well, in this video, when Ms. Swansen needs to do some boring old knitting back and forth before she gets to the next step of the pattern, the camera pans up to the autumn leaves fluttering on the trees around where she's sitting. She's invented a metaphor for doing garter stitch: fall foliage.

Does anyone else have a favorite knitting video? I'm hooked now.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Faina's Scarf and other things

Dallas is on blog hiatus right now which means I can sneak in and brag about her when she isn't looking.

I was poking around in the hall closet yesterday, dreaming of the moment when the leaves start changing color and I can drag out scarves and sweaters and fingerless gloves. You know: all the stuff that makes a knitter's life worth living.

I found the first multidirectional scarf I ever made: a sad narrow little excuse for a scarf with missing fringe and good intentions.

I found the trigger finger mittens (just typing "trigger finger" unnerves me!) I made by combining Elizabeth Zimmerman's Norwegian mitten pattern with web instructions on adding the index finger then copying a pair of gift mittens for the design. Who knew I could be that resourceful? Unfortunately they are big enough to fit hands five times the size of mine. I'm thinking about steeking them and turning them into fingerless mitts. If you have any suggestions (or really big hands) please share!

And then I found the fabulous baby camel scarf Dallas knitted for me a few Christmases ago. The pattern is Faina's Scarf and to say I absolutely adore it is to laughably understate my feelings. I'm one of those unfortunates who can't bear wool next to my skin. I turn into a red, itchy, miserable bundle of humanity. But baby camel is deliciously soft and gentle and apparently allergen-free. At least free of allergens that make me crazy. The pattern looks uncomfortably complex to me but the finished product is fabulous in every regard.

Right now I have the following on the needles:
  • a second Irish Hiking Scarf
  • 60% finished Vintage Velvet
  • the ongoing story of the giant EZ Garter Stitch blanket
  • Silk Garden Wavy
  • (drum roll) my first Log Cabin!

What have you been up to?

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Progress Report: Lace Scarf and Life Upheaval

Twenty-eight inches of lace scarf; that's all I've done knitting-wise in forever. I'm bored with it and I've decided that when my ball of Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver runs out, the scarf is finished. What is the shortest length you think a scarf can be and still legitimately be considered a scarf?
I've been remiss in my knitting and blogging duties because I've had a Life Upheaval. My oldest child, Darling Daughter, went away to college for the first time last week. I spent three days curled into a ball of misery, trying to sleep the time away until she returns in October for a long weekend. Finally, I snapped out of it. After all, I still have a husband and son at home to take care of. Also, every time I spoke with DD she was bubbling over with excitement about her new friends, new professors, new classes and new location. How could I continue to be sad when her world was opening up for her? It was pure self-pity at that point and I have no patience with self-pity on a long-term basis.
Instead I've been reading the utterly delightful volume of essays which Fran's Delphi Books just published called A Place in the Shower Schedule by Roger Aylworth . It makes me laugh and get teary-eyed, sometimes at the same time. Roger Aylworth writes with great charm and self-deprecating humor about raising seven (!) children, owning "MAH TRUCK" (he captures my joy in my own gas-guzzling SUV perfectly), moving from one house to another, and various other experiences of every day life. I'd love to meet him in person because he must be great company.
So, any thoughts on the question of scarf length?

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Noro Winner!

Congratulations to Sara B from New Hampshire! She's the winner of the four balls of Noro. Watch for a confirmation email from me, Sara, so I can get the yarn mailed to you.

If no one minds, I'll keep your emails for another contest, coming soon. My LYS is clearing out in preparation for winter and holiday knitting, and I've been invited to go through what they're clearing out. We can always use a little stash, can't we?
Happy Labor Day!

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Beautiful Faces in Unexpected Places

This is another winner from Philip Scott Johnson. I think you'll love it. (And if you do, please visit my other blog to see Tom Hanks morph into Denzel Washington!)

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