Monday, May 24, 2010

FO: I beat the baby!

That headline got your attention, didn't it?

However, my blog has nothing to do with child abuse. I'm just very pleased with myself because I finished blocking the baby blanket one week before the baby was born. This is a first since usually I am woefully behind when it comes to baby gifts. Often I have to give them to the NEXT arrival in the family because the baby the gift was intended for has long outgrown it.

This one though is right on time. The recipient was born at 1:00 a.m. this morning. Mother and baby are both well. Sadly, my nephew the daddy hasn't met his new son yet because he's in the Navy and is currently at sea.

This is the blanket I made by adapting the pattern for my Darling Daughter's Boundless Blue Blanket. I think it's really pretty and very practical.

Closeup detail below.

Next up: I'm going to attempt to knit a top for myself with some gorgeous yarn a red-headed knitter whose initials are B.B. gave me. The top and the yarn seem meant for each other but I don't dare try to knit a top to give away. I'm afraid it wouldn't fit.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Signing in the Waldenbooks by Parnell Hall

Painfully true and very funny. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Six Degrees from Sonny Fox

<== Sonny Fox, host of Wonderama on WNEW out of NYC.

Once upon a time there lived in the Borough of Queens in the City of New York a frizzy/curly-haired kid named Barbara who had a wonderful talent: she was a very good speller. Words like encyclopaedia (and encyclopedia), antidisestablishmentarianism, all sorts of crazy words. She could spell all of them.

But that wasn't what set her apart from the crowd of other frizzy/curly-haired kids who were great spellers: our heroine could spell them backwards. Now no one quite knew where that ability came from. She learned to read and write at a precociously early age (reading at three; writing at four) and seemed normal in all respects until the backwards stuff kicked in and life got interesting.

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Okay, okay. I'll drop the third person nonsense. We all know who our frizzball is, right? And you're probably wondering how spelling backwards ties in with Sonny Fox and Wonderama and knitting so here goes.

Spelling backwards came as easily to me as spelling the normal way. My parents used to create both word and number games for me to play on Saturday morning while they slept in and I guess I took them one step beyond where they were supposed to go and started flipping them. (I see patterns in numbers everywhere I look. Show me a phone number and I'll be linking those digits to other numbers in the blink of an eye.)

I was an only child and only children are endlessly fascinating to their families so my backwards abilities garnered a lot of attention and laughter. My spelling abilities had already landed me in any number of city-wide spelling bees (they hadn't become quite the pressure-cookers they are today) and I'd done pretty well every time.

But what I wanted more than anything was to take part in the Wonderama Spelling Bee.

I wanted to meet Sonny Fox, the sleekly dark and handsome host. I wanted to dazzle everyone with my spelling abilities. And I wanted to win dinner at the Luau 400, a little touch of Hawaii in midtown Manhattan.

Now it wasn't easy to get on Wonderama. Every kid in the early 1960s wanted tickets. And, trust me, a lot of those kids could spell just as well as I did. But could they spell backwards? No! So in the summer of 1961, my mother took me and my friend Dorothy Cullen into Manhattan where we were part of the audience and entrants in the spelling bee.

I'm not going to keep you in suspense. I won! Yes, it was a dream come true. Not only was I on live television, but I won dinner for my parents and me at Luau 400 by winning a spelling bee by spelling backwards. I still smile ear-to-ear thinking about it! So what does all of this have to do with knitting? Up until a few months ago I would have said, "Nothing at all," but it's actually the key to my problems with charts and sewing cuffs on sleeves and the dreaded pattern instructions Reverse Shaping.

A friend and I took dancing lessons once. I absolutely couldn't follow the instructor. I kept reversing everything. I sewed cuffs on a shirt in some crazy upside down way that even I couldn't explain. My husband had to show me how to do it correctly. I can't watch someone demonstrate how to use a spindle and then recreate her actions without great trial, error, and sweat-inducing concentration. And then my mind and muscles forget what I learned within five minutes and I have to struggle all over again.

And then I realized: the same little glitch in my brain that makes it easy for me to see words frontways and backways and sideways makes it very difficult for me to interpret patterns, architectural drawings, or how in the name of all that's holy they managed to stick a new road near the bridge and still keep the same landmarks. What's up with that anyway?

Spatially dyslexic is what I'm calling myself until I come up with a better term and it goes a long way toward explaining so much of the way I relate to the physical world.

Knitting charts? Don't get me started. They were the bane of my existence. They made this grown woman weep with frustration for most of the years of my knitting life. Or at least they did until last year when something in my brain clicked and I grabbed onto them like Velcro and wouldn't let go. (Okay, so maybe I have to keep a ruler underneath the working row but still . . . ) I don't know why or how it happened but it's opened up my knitting to a whole new dimension of possibilities and I'm delighted.

And yes I can still spell backwards! Life is good.

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Picking up the needles again

One of the best things about finishing up the book (at last) (it seemed like it took 100 years) is picking up the needles again.

I can't tell you how much I missed knitting last month. Being the all-or-nothing idiot that I am, I had to ban knitting until I turned in the manuscript. (When it comes to sticks and strings, I have no will power. Absolutely none.)

On Monday I sat down and reached for Knit Picks Harmony circs, Berroco Suede in Hopalong Cassidy, and some Plush in creamy white and whipped up another pair of Baby Uggs.

Did you hear the sigh of pleasure where you were? It felt like coming home!

It's a terrible picture. (They're much cuter in person.) But here they are:

Now it's on to -- ? My knitting books are scattered all around me. My binders filled with pattern print-outs are stacked on the floor next to me. My stash beckons.

But what's next? Which of the eight zillion projects should I start?

What are you working on right now? Any suggestions?

It's so good to come out to play again.