Thursday, July 31, 2003

Vacation, all I ever wanted,
Vacation, gotta get away
The Go-Gos

We're off to Portland, Oregon to visit my family for the next two weeks -- so I will blog no more forever (apologies to Chief Joseph). No blogging for 2 weeks, anyway. DH is bringing his golf clubs, RockStar is bringing his Gibson, and I'm bringing Aran Go Round. We'll be arriving in the middle of a heat wave (98 degrees with 70% humidity -- ugh). I'm going to park Mom in front of the air conditioner and have her model the Aran Cardie for me; I'm worried it's too big, but she assures me it's not.

Later in the first week, DH and I will be driving up to Seattle for the day. We'll be touring the Boeing facility (DH is an airplane nut). The next morning we're off to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit a dear friend and his family. We'll be there for several days, then it's back to Portland for the rest of the visit.

We're going to take a drive up to Mount St. Helens and show the blast zone to RockStar. I was living about 20 miles south of Portland when Mount St. Helens erupted on Sunday, May 18, 1980. Within hours, everything was covered with a light layer of ash -- and I was living about 100 miles away from the blast zone. Portland was even worse. I had a friend who was living in Longview, Washington at the time, and she remembers a blanket of ash at least 4" thick covering everything. Mind you, Longview was on the west side of Mount St. Helens, about 20 miles away. The blast was on the east side of the mountain and the prevailing winds blew most of the ash eastward. Nearly 230 acres of forest was obliterated. Today, you can visit the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Monument. More adventurous types can even climb Mount St. Helens.

Portland is a great city with lots to do and see. A "must-do" whenever I go home is a visit to Powell Books. Before there was Borders or Barnes & Noble, there was Powell Books. Encompassing an entire city block and two stories tall, Powell has new and used books in just about any category you can think of. Powell has spun off a number of targeted satellite stores including one for cooking, travel, mystery, and technical books. Portland's funky Hawthorne District is on the southeast side of town, and is a lot of fun for window shopping. Every Saturday under the Burnside Bridge, Portland's Saturday Market is billed as "the largest outdoor arts and crafts market in continuous operation in the United States." Portland's nickname is the City of Roses. The International Rose Test Garden is at its most stunning in late spring/early summer.

OK! My ambassador duties fully discharged, I will see everyone in two weeks. Behave yourselves; no partying in the house while I'm gone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Knitted up a few more inches on Aran Go Round:

Our air conditioner died sometime yesterday afternoon. Came in the house after work and was hit by a wall of hot air. Asked RockStar when the air conditioner quit, and got the usual response of "Huh?" DH called a repair company, and a very nice repairman came out at 7:00pm and worked for about 2 hrs on the recalcitrant unit. Got it working, we cut him a check, and just as he was about to leave, he said, "Let's turn it on one more time just to be sure." And it didn't turn on. Grrrr. So he's coming back Thursday afternoon to work on it again.

RockStar and I amused ourselves last night watching 2 episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Straight Guy, hell! Come on over to this Straight Girl's house and make it (and me) over! It's such a fun show. I think the key to the formula is that they choose a straight guy who sincerely wants to make a change in his look and home. The Fab 5 are hilarious, and they are so protective of their guy! They're like 5 mother hens pushing a chick out of the nest. QE is on Bravo on Tuesday nights at 10pm -- check it out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Made about 1" of progress on Aran Go Round. I'm afraid if I took a picture, you wouldn't be able to see any difference. I'll take another picture after a few more inches, OK?

Future WIPs?
I like this pattern quite a lot ...

Nice little Fair Isle knit in-the-round ...

I mentioned awhile back that I was making one of those dreadfully boring Einstein jackets for my sis ... well, Mr.E, you may be have been one of the brainiest men on the planet, but your jacket stinks. It's boring, boring, boring. So what, pray tell, would Mr. Einstein mutate into? Why, this lovely jacket from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting, called Fjorgyn:

A much better use for all that Lopi, wouldn't you agree? And since the unravelled Lopi will be a crimped 'n kinky mess, this sounds like a perfect excuse to purchase a swift and ball winder. The Lopi will need to be soaked and coaxed back to its former loveliness before being Fjorgyn'd.

Taking An Elliptical View of the World
Hmmm. Have managed to get up every weekday morning and climb on the Clothes Hangar 950, also known as the ProForm 950 Elliptical Trainer. Have worked up to the full 20-minute program. Haven't been sore. This is suspiciously easy. Am waiting for the either shoe to drop. Haven't weighed or measured myself or made any changes to my diet, but clothes feel a bit looser. Can it really be this easy? Will keep you posted.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Suddenly Monday appears again.
Were was the weekend? I lost it again.
Melanie C

Oh, how the weekend flew by! Saw Seabiscuit on Sunday -- terrific movie. A little long, but worth it. I read the book by Laura Hillenbrand 2 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the story of the little thoroughbred, the misfit jockey, the mysterious trainer, and the millionaire owner, all set against the tragic backdrop of the Great Depression. If you like stories about the underdog coming out on top, this is the movie for you.

Made some goodly progress on Aran Go Round this weekend:

The last "in the round" sweater I made (the Andre Sweater) was knitted up on size 8 needles and sped right along. AGR is on 7s, so I feel like it's really sloooow going. But it's nice, mindless summer knitting. It's in reverse stockinette stitch, so I'm purling each stitch. I'm a "thrower" on my knit stitches, which really slows me down. But I hold my yarn in my left hand while purling, and I can purl like the wind, baby!

Weird Beauty Tip 'O The Week
As I get older, I try to view the aging process with an air of bemused detachment. But some things are not to be borne! My mother warned me repeatedly over the years: don't over-pluck your eyebrows, they'll eventually stop growing back and you'll end up looking like Joan Collins in Dynasty. A scary thought -- remember her expression of permanent surprise? Well, as in most things, mother was right. At 41, my eyebrows have receded, and new growth is almost non-existent. I cherish each little hair and only pluck the few rogue ones that appear now and then. Mind you, I used to have really thick, nicely arched brows, ala Brooke Shields in the late '70s Calvin Klein ads. But over the years, the growth has diminished and I've been left with the basic "essence" of my formerly luxuriant brows.

So imagine my surprise reading Allure magazine (the beauty bible) and finding a little tidbit about using Rogaine to restore the hair growth of your eyebrows! The tip recommended applying the men's Rogaine formula twice a day on the eyebrows, using a Q-Tip. After an over-vigorous plucking a month or so ago, with little sign of regrowth, I decided to try it out. I ended up buying the women's Rogaine formula since it was on sale at my local Rite-Aid drugstore (Rogaine is spendy stuff!). And you know what? While I don't have any "new" growth resembling my former brows of bygone years, the regrowth from the plucking session is coming in thicker and stronger than before. Whoda thunk it?

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Fabu Friday Fun!
No real knitting progress last night -- just a desultory sleeve cast-on for Inishmore, in Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool. So let's have some Friday Fun!

Possible Captions:
  • Geez, it's tough balancing my feminine and masculine sides!

  • The Mrs. has been complaining about how rough my feet are in bed. Maybe this'll help?

  • The Softer Side of Sears
  • Uh, honey? I found this in your nightstand? Is this something we need to talk about?

  • Everything But The Kitchen Sink
    Leisure Arts publications takes the "all things for all people" approach to crafting. If a craft topic has even a whiff of popularity, you can bet Leisure Arts will publish a leaflet on it. For some reason unfathomable to me, knitted dishclothes are all the rage and have a hardcore group of supporters. Can't figure out how to knit an 8" cotton square all by yourself? Bingo! Leisure Arts to the rescue:

    Do you get motion sickness with traditional knitting? Ditch the Dramamine! Leisure Arts has this gem for you:

    Swimming in an Oatmeal Sea
    When I ended my 15-year knitting hiatus, I needed some cheap 'n chic yarn to become reaquainted with gauge. Trusty Michael's always carries Wool-Ease (or Wool-Sleaze, as some fiber snobs call it). The Oatmeal color rarely varies from one dye lot to another, and the color is nice and, well, oat-ey. So I kinda glommed onto it for several projects:

    Sweater from Hell, aka Aran Cardie

    Andre (the human)'s Sweater and Zoe (the Dog)'s sweaters

    Aran-Go-Round Sweater

    ... and I probably have enough left for at least a child's cardie, too. I promise to Stop the Insanity after the AGR Sweater and never knit with anything less than Manos de Uraguay or Colinette. Yeah, right -- if I win the California Lottery, that is. Actually, I'm pretty democratic when it comes to yarn. If I like the way it looks and feels, I use it, even if it's not (gasp!) all natural fiber. By necessity, I have to be somewhat budget-conscious when it comes to buying yarn. After all, RockStar needs to be kept in CDs and Gibson Zinger guitar strings and I am nothing if not a self-sacrificing mother (hand on breast, eyes cast towards the heavens).

    Happy Friday, everyone.

    Thursday, July 24, 2003

    You spin me right round, baby
    Right round like a record, baby
    Right round round round
    Uranium 235, 1980-something

    Aran Go Round is proceeding nicely, thank you very much. The seed stitch ribbing is kinda weird -- 2 seed stitches on either side of a knit rib stitch. I've just begun the reverse stockinette stitch body -- you can't really see it in the picture. Notice that lately all my knit pix have been taken on my trusty light table. All the necessary graphic art tools are nearby: XActo knife, proportion wheel, acetate grid overlays, etc. I got into graphic design in the twilight days of paste-up -- remember rubylith, anyone?

    Retro Cool
    Isn't this the coolest cover?

    This little beauty is from 1964, but the sweater could be knit up and worn proudly in the new millenium, thus proving the adage that the classic style is timeless. Want more like this? Go to Laurie Kynaston's Vintage Knits website and check out her offerings.

    Plain and simply put, I am the laziest gal on the planet. I, however, prefer the more elegant term sybarite. If Quizilla had a quiz for "What Mammal Are You?" I'd surely be a Three-Toed Sloth. You'd think DH would be a natural inspiration to me. He goes to the gym faithfully at 5:30 am Monday through Friday. He rarely misses a day. Somehow I've managed to burrow under the covers and ignore his daily departure. But time and gravity are having their way with me and a recent check of my finances reveals that no, I can't hire Gunnar the Wonder Trainer to come to my house every morning to kick my lazy butt out of bed. So for the last 2 mornings I've dragged my sleepy carcass out of bed and onto my very expensive clothes hangar, aka the Proform Model 950 Elliptical Trainer. I bought the Clothes Hangar 950 about 8 months ago, fully intending to reclaim the svelte form of my youth. I had the same intentions when I purchased the Pilates Reformer from QVC, the Walk-Away-the-Pounds videotapes, and the ProForm Model Something-or-Other Treadmill.

    So here's my routine for the last 2 mornings: throw on loose shorts & tshirt, grab a bottle of water, turn on VH1, and hop on the CH950. Choose the easiest 20-minute program on the console. Manage 10 minutes on Morning #1, and 15 minutes on Morning #2. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that it's much easier to exercise, and I can exercise longer, in the morning rather than in the evening after work. And once I've finished, I don't have the Damocles Sword of Exercise hanging over my head all day. DH is definitely onto something with this AM workout thing.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2003

    Another Day, Another WIP?
    Didn't feel like working on Trudie last night ... she seems to have become a break project at work. It'll be a Christmas present for Mom, so I've got time if I keep plugging away on break.

    But I did feel like knitting something ... so I dug around and came up with this:

    It's called Aran Go Round, and it's from Janet Szabo's Twists and Turns, The Newsletter for Lovers of Cable Knitting. Janet's site, Big Sky Knitting, has all the info for ordering this terrific quarterly publication. Bonne Marie turned me on to this publication in one of her blog entries last spring when she was on a cable knitting jag. I'm making my AGR from the seemingly endless supply of oatmeal-colored Wool-Ease leftover from the Sweater From Hell (Aran Cardie) project. The Aran Go Round is knit in the round, which I love. The pattern is based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's classic Percentage System, but Janet did all the figgerin' for us! Janet did her sample in gorgeous Black Water Abbey yarn, a traditional 2-ply Irish Wool. I have a color card from BWA, and the colors are not to be believed. Someday I'll indulge in enough of their yarn for a sweater that'll have to go in my cedar trunk 'cause it's too darn hot for wool in San Diego, even in the winter. Hmmph.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2003

    A Brighter Day
    Sorry about yesterday, folks. Had a rather blue day and couldn't pull out of it for most of the day. But today's a new day and let's talk knitting! Trudie is plodding along:

    I've gotten about halfway up the armholes ... haven't been knitting much in the evenings. Any progress I've made has been on breaks during the workday. I take my breaks in the lunchroom at my office (too hot to sit outside), and people buzz in and out of there all day. People have gotten used to seeing me knitting, and often ask, "How'd that sweater for your mom turn out?" or "Whatcha makin' now?" There's only one other real knitter in the office, and when she stops by, my break often runs waaay over the time limit :-)

    Bonne Marie Burns has re-released her very cool LoTech Sweat pattern. It's now available in 7 sizes, from 38" to 50". Go to her site now and use PayPal to download the pattern for this wardrobe staple!

    Flashback: 1973
    One of the touchstones of my childhood arrived in the mail every October: The Sears Wish Book. Here's an actual 1973 Sears Wish Book that is being auctioned off on EBay. I remember this cover very well.

    By Thanksgiving, the Sears Wish Book would be well-worn and dogeared by grubby little fingers poring over its pages chock full of the latest cool toys. I wasn't into dolls like my little sister -- I was more of an artsy-fartsy chick, even as a kid. I always wanted creative stuff like Spirographs, paint-by-number kits, Walter Foster "Learn to Draw!" books, etc. Never got that rock tumber that I lusted after, though.

    Here's another page from the 1973 Wish Book. In a funny coincidence, it shows two toys that my little sister and brother got for Christmas that year. My sister loved her Mrs. Beasley doll to pieces (literally). She made at least one trip to a real Doll Hospital we had in Portland to get restuffed and have her glasses repaired. Notice the price on Mrs. Beasley ($9.94). A check of today's EBay auctions shows a fully restored 1967 Mrs. Beasley going for $155.50! Who'da thunk it?

    My little brother dragged Bozo the Clown around for several years. Bozo talked when you pulled his string, but towards the end of his life his voice box slowed down considerably. You'd pull his string and he'd say, "Hiiiiiiiiii kiiiiiiiiiiids" in this deep Exorcist voice. My brother loved him nonetheless.

    Monday, July 21, 2003

    "Well now everybody all up and down the block
    Let's do the monday morning rock."
    Marshall Crenshaw

    What is about knitting and summer? My knitting, never speedy to begin with, slows down to nearly a dead stop. It was all I could do to crank out a few rows on Trudie this weekend. Sigh.

    This isn't turning out to be a good day for writing, either. Let's quit while we're ahead and try again tomorrow.

    Friday, July 18, 2003

    i don't care if monday's blue
    tuesday's grey and wednesday too
    thursday i don't care about you
    it's friday i'm in love
    The Cure, 1980-something

    I truly love my husband. We had an unexpected and major banking snafu yesterday that left us (literally) penniless until at least next Monday or Tuesday. Even worse, we found out about it last night at the gas station, when our debit card was rejected after we filled our SUV with almost $30 of gas. DH got on the phone at the gas station (the attendant was very nice about the situation), and I drove home to grab an emergency credit card. Apparently, wonderful Bank of America decided to "hold" a large check we'd deposited on Tuesday evening via the ATM. They didn't notify us that they intended to hold the check, so DH busily paid off a bunch of bills electronically Tuesday night. Since (unbeknownst to us) the check was being held, it was Bounce City for all the electronic checks on Wednesday, and embarrassment at the gas pumps on Thursday. Friday morning, DH called the bank that issued the check and found out that it had cleared on Thursday night. Then he went into BofA as soon as they opened, and got medieval on their asses. Apologies all around, lots of excuses as to why BofA was holding the money and basically getting a 15-day loan of our money (which you can bet the farm they'd be making interest on while "holding" it). The upshot of the whole mess was that the VP of the bank released about 1/10th of the money into our account so we wouldn't be destitute (gee, thanks), and she assured DH that she personally would release the remainder of the funds into our account on Saturday morning. Oh, and yes they'd take off the $160 of bounced check charges. How big of them. What a mess. But DH really came through in the clutch. When the chips are down, you can count on this man. I love you, honey.

    Thursday, July 17, 2003

    BlogSpot Woes
    I've gotten a few queries from readers asking why they can't get my blog to load completely. I'm sorry to say I don't have an answer except that BlogSpot is a good program in theory, but stinks in execution. Even I can't get my blog to load completely onscreen unless I maximize my Internet Explorer 6 window to completely fill my screen, then minimize it back to my normal operating size of 930x685 pixels. Stupid, but it works. I queried the Blogger Support Group on Yahoo Groups, but no one had any insight into the problem. I think I'm going to migrate the blog over to my ISP and see if the problem clears up.

    Trudie Marches Along
    Almost to the last row before starting armhole shaping:

    Mission Falls 1824 Cotton is such a strange little yarn. My gauge was a bit wobbly until I got used to the nubbyness of the yarn, after that it was clear sailing. Normally, I don't care for knitting with cotton at all. It's got a dry, dusty feel that reminds me of picking potatoes out of the ground. This yarn doesn't have that, a big plus in my book.

    Get Yer Bic Lighters Ready ...
    After more than 12 years, Judas Priest has reunited with their original lead singer, leather-lunged (and clad) vocalist Rob Halford. A new album and tour are due in 2004. RockStar (my 14yo stepson) is ecstatic. DH and I introduced him to Judas Priest when he came to live with us last August. He's become a hardcore little metalhead in the ensuing months ... does my heart proud, yessir! You see, my very first concert was Judas Priest. I was 15 years old and I've never forgotten the sight of Rob Halford, wearing his best leather-daddy duds, riding a Harley onstage in Portland, Oregon in 1977. I was hooked, baby. I've been a Priest fan ever since. I remember hopping into my temperamental little Triumph Spitfire ragtop right after work on a Friday night in the summer of 1983. I drove straight up to Vancouver, British Columbia from Portland, Oregon to spend the weekend with my boyfriend, who was working under-the-table as a Christmas tree trimmer (yes, that made him an "illegal alien"). I played Priest's "Screaming for Vengeance" over and over to keep myself awake on the long drive. I vividly remember the puzzled look the Border Patrol agent gave me. I'm sure he hadn't seen many cute brunettes in convertibles wearing halter top and shorts crossing the Canadian border at 1:00 am. Ah, memories.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2003

    Got a few inches done on Trudie last night ... I'll post a picture when I get a bit more done.

    Hotmail Gems
    It's always a trip to see what shows up in the Junk folder of my Hotmail account. This morning's random sampler included come-ons for the following:

  • Check Out Various Good Looking Russian Brides (send this one to my brother-in-law)
  • Cause Your Venture Continuing Quick!!! (huh?)
  • bronchitis, asthma, or emphysema? wjrlqalt (thank God, no)
  • [Locate] Long Lost [People] (maybe they're lost for a reason?)
  • ,,What, Are ,They, ,,Hiding?,, (,,I,Don't,Know,,Maybe,Control,,Of,The,,,Comma, ,,Key?)

  • Anyway, you get the idea.

    New Project on the Horizon?
    I've been eyeballing this for awhile. It's called Siobhan, from Ram Wools in Canada.

    It also comes in a short version. I like the chick in this picture ... looks like one of the gloomy models in Alice Starmore's books.

    Oh, wait! There's a smile on this Starmore model. Plus, I love this sweater she's modeling. It's called Maidenhair from Alice Starmore's Virtual Yarns site. I think this'll have to go on the "to do" list, too.

    Happy Wednesday, everyone.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    No knitting last night ... I was in Damage Control Mode! Read on ...

    Where's a (Hair) Cop When You Need 'Em?
    What's the old saying? When we don't learn from our mistakes we're bound to repeat them? Truer words were never spoken. My Hair Cop was lying down on the job this weekend ...

    ...when he should have been preventing me from getting into hair mischief with this:

    I've been experimenting with hair color for years, with, uh, varying results. Back in high school in the late '70s, I turned my naturally dark brown hair a revolting shade of orange with a box of Clairol Quiet Touch ("shimmering highlights at home!"). Did I learn? Noooo. Over the years I've colored and recolored my hair repeatedly. About 2 years ago, I chose too dark a hair color, and had the bright idea to use something called a "Hair Color Remover" that I picked up at the beauty supply store. "Hair Color Remover" turned out to be a super high-powered bleach that literally melted the bottom 4" of my shoulder-length hair, and turned it a mottled white with orange splotches (sort of like a King Charles Spaniel). I could literally pull clumps of melted hair off like sun-warmed taffy. I ran to the nearest hair salon in my neighborhood and begged them to save what was left of my hair. The young woman who was brave enough to take on the job very carefully trimmed off the melted spaghetti that was the bottom 4", and trimmed sort of a shag with what was left (not quite Jane Fonda's do in "Klute" but awful close). Then she colored what was left with the gentlest hair color she had on hand. The result was still rather brassy and reddish-orange, and very flat and not at all shiny. I was lucky to escape this idiotic experiment with any hair at all, so I wasn't complaining. My sister-in-law later confided to me that when she saw me that weekend, she asked my brother worriedly, "Does Amy have cancer?"

    Well, it took another year to grow out that mess. And did I learn? Hell, no. My sister and I affectionately call ourselves Beauty Sluts. We're seduced by any new beauty product that comes down the pike. My particular bailiwick is hair color. This weekend I was seduced by a new product by L'Oreal: Coloeur Experte. "Vivid color with multi-tonal highlights at home!" Oh yes, this had my name written all over it. (this is where that donut-eatin' Hair Cop should have put the cuffs on me) So on goes the base shade (Chocolate Macaroon). 40 minutes later, rinsed and towel-dried, we're ready for the lovely, shimmery highlights. I mixed up the highlight solution, painted it on, and waited the recommended 15 minutes. Rinse, blow dry, and ... uh ... where are the shimmery highlights I was promised? Upon further review, I found that I'd mistaken the bottle of conditioner provided for after color care, and mixed it with the highlight powder, instead of mixing in the developer like I was supposed to. The result? No damage, but no highlights either. But I just didn't care for "Chocolate Macaroon" by itself. It's a dark, reddish brown that makes me look kinda tired. I wanted highlights, damn it! But I wasn't about to spring for another box of Coloeur Experte just to get the highlights. OK, Plan B. What do I have on hand to fix this? Hmmm, here's a box of Wella Gel Hair Color in Shade 611 (Sunlight Medium Blonde). Instead of 20 Volume Peroxide, let's add a little 30 Volume to "help" it along (Hair Cop, where are you?). 40 minutes later, it's a little lighter. Still pretty dark, but not quite as bad. And still no highlights. Hmmph. Maybe another application of Wella Shade 611, with a little more 30 Volume? Well, at this point the Hair Cop got off his lazy, donut-eatin' rear end and said, "Nyet!" to another round of hair abuse. Have I learned my lesson? Heh, heh, ask me in about a year. That's when I'll be due for my next Temptation.

    Monday, July 14, 2003

    "It was a Monday, a day like any other day" Foreigner, 1979

    Had a very relaxing weekend ... I think the batteries have been fully recharged. The knitting block seems to have broken, cuz I got a few inches done on Trudie:

    And look what came in the mail from Awesome Ewe in Canada, and Laurie Kynaston's Vintage Knits:

    Enough Canadiana yarn in a nice burgundy shade to make the cabled cardie in the picture. Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment, another cabled cardie. And FOUR old issues of Vogue Knitting, and an old FCEK! I'm trying to rebuild my old VK library. I used to have all the issues from the 80s. I chucked them and a lot of other stuff during a major depression in the mid-90s (another story for another time).

    Trudie is made up in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in a shade called Phlox. The picture looks more purple than it really is. It's more a dusty greyish purple. The yarn itself is rather nubby and has taken some getting used to. I had some cramps in my left hand after yesterday's knitting session. The pattern for Trudie is super easy -- a 4-row repeat with staggered yarn-overs that make a nice vertical openwork ladder.

    Also finished Harry Potter #5 -- excellent read. That book had to be one of biggest hardbacks I've ever seen (next to any James Michener book, of course). It was so heavy, I felt like I was bench pressing while reading it in bed.

    Happy Monday, everyone.

    Thursday, July 10, 2003

    I've noticed a definite connection between knitters and books. As Forrest Gump would say, they go together like peas and carrots. Many knit bloggers cite the current book they're reading in their blog entries. There's even a Knit Bloggers Reading Group. What is the link? Personally, I believe knitters have a strong curiousity about life in general. We seem to enjoy the journey, as well as the final destination. We enjoy what's "around the corner," be it the next row of a project or the next page of a book. We're definitely a tactile bunch -- we love the feel of yarn under our fingers or the heft of a good hardback book. I do not believe that e-publishing will ever replace books completely. There's just no comparison between holding a cold, impersonal electronic device to snuggling up in bed with a brand new book. As a graphic artist, I'm fascinated with the cover illustrations, typefaces, and paper stock of books. I love deckle-edge paper.

    Pioneer Melissa had a entry yesterday about the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Course. Melissa said her mother is a prolific reader, and uses a similar method to mine: she takes in entire paragraphs at a time rather than reading word-by-word. I tend to move my eyes around a paragraph in a circular fashion. It takes several revolutions for me to "absorb" the words. I don't know when I started reading this way -- it just seemed to evolve naturally. Reading in this fashion, I can easily read/absorb up to 4 books per week. Thank God for the public library -- otherwise I'd go broke trying to feed my "book jones." But once in awhile, I do like to purchase books. I fluctuate between Costco, Amazon, and (shameless plug!) the Quality Paperback Book Club, or QPB. QPB carries only trade paperback-size books -- you know, the "larger" paperbacks. They usually have a first-time sign-up offer of 4 Books for 4 Bucks (plus shipping & handling). There's no further obligation to buy -- you can quit anytime. I've managed to build up a nice little library over the last 10 years as a member. Anyway, check it out.

    I like read just about *anything* -- fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and my favorite literary indulgence, short horror stories. When I was finishing college, my time was limited and I was dog-tired since I was also working full-time. The only kind of "recreational" reading I could manage were short stories. I had the satisfaction of being able to read a story on a break, between classes, or before falling asleep at night. I'm not sure how I gravitated to the horror genre, though. I think it probably started years ago after reading Stephen King's "Night Shift," with its scary cover illustration of a hand, with numerous open eyes covering the palm. Shiver! I don't care for King's novels (too windy), but his short fiction is some of the most finely crafted out there.

    Available for Weddings & Bar Mitzvahs
    "Guess who just got back today, them wild-eyed boys who'd been away" Thin Lizzy, 1974

    RockStar (aka my 14yo stepson) gets home from a 3-week visit with his mother, in North Carolina. Here he is, in full regalia, bonding with his beloved Gibson guitar:

    DH and I truly enjoyed the quiet during his absence, but we've missed his energy and goofy sense of humor. Welcome home, RockStar.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2003

    Sigh. I've only been blogging for 5 weeks now and I'm starting to realize that the care and feeding of a daily blog is a real commitment. I admire daily bloggers like Bonne Marie and Wendy. Not only are they among the most prolific knitters I've ever seen, they provide fun and interesting blog material for all of us to enjoy. I also enjoy Pioneer Melissa's thoughtful insights and the loving way she writes about her family.

    I must confess that I signed onto Blogger several times yesterday, fully intending to post an entry. But I'm currently experiencing severe "start-itis" and can't seem to settle on a new knitting project. The Dump Truck Sweater for my nephew has been frogged. I found 2 holes in the intarsia where I hadn't crossed the new color under the old. It's been so long since I've done intarsia that I wasn't maintaining a consistent tension on my floats, either. So I got disgusted and ripped it back to the ribbing. The Trudie Vest for Mom has been swatched and cast on and hasn't gone any further. The Horse Blanket (aka Einstein) for my sister is too hot to work on. I need to seam the shoulders and knit the hood onto a hooded pullover for my stepson (aka RockStar), but that hasn't grabbed my attention, either.

    So until the knitting indecisiveness sorts itself out, all I have to talk about is ... me. And I'll be the first to admit that talking about myself, especially in public, is extremely difficult. I am by nature a *very* private person. And very shy. So bear with me while I figure this out.

    Summer Reading
    It's official - I've become hooked on Harry Potter. I checked out #3 and #4 from the library to read on vacation. #1 and #2 seemed pretty close to the movie versions (both of which I've seen), so I figured I'd get to those some other time. I started #3 on Friday in Tucson, and finished it on Saturday when we got home. I started #4 Saturday evening, and read straight through until I finished it late Sunday afternoon (yes, I read extremely fast). I had to know what happened next! As soon as I read the last page of #4, I begged DH to take me to Borders to pick up #5. I'd just passed it up at Borders the week before. So naturally, they were out of #5 when we got there. Curses! So we meander over to Costco, who was also out (I'd seen them there the week before, too). I was so disappointed that DH ordered it from Amazon when we got home. He also got #1 and #2 in paperback so now I can read the whole series. Then, like everyone else, I'm stuck waiting for the next one. Please, J.K. Rowling, don't bask in your millions for too long before writing #6!

    Monday, July 07, 2003

    I Don't Like Mondays
    "I want to shoot the whole day down." --Boomtown Rats, 1979

    Tucson Redux
    Had a great time in Tucson. Spent 3 days/3 nights at the Westin La Paloma resort, in the foothills of north Tucson. My mother called before we left and asked, "You're not going to be anywhere near those fires, are you?" My husband assured her we wouldn't be near them at all. Ha! Here's what we saw off our balcony. The fire was still at least 10 miles away, but there was so much smoke in the sky that the sun was blocked out.

    If you are visiting Tucson, you gotta go to Purl's. Ably and affably run by Sharon Wittenberg, Purl's has not one but TWO locations in Tucson. As the Knitter's Review article states, there is an excellent balance of affordable acrylic blend yarns and the obligatory novelty yarns. Sharon asked where I bought yarn in San Diego and I told her that I usually go to Knitting in La Jolla or The Needlecraft Cottage in Pacific Beach. "Good!" she said, "Support your local yarn store!" I complained that Knitting in La Jolla is overly stocked with luxury fibers and novelty yarns (read: out of my price range), and she said that Suzanne's (owner of KiLJ) clientele consisted of rich retired women who "didn't want to think when they knit." Sharon's clientele, however, leans toward cables and fair isle designs. If only I could wave a magic wand and switch the two stores! DH was a complete sweetheart. He parked himself in a chair in front of a fan and let me shop to my heart's content. I came away with 8 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 cotton to make this for my Mom for Christmas. I chose Phlox, a medium greyish-purple shade. I started swatching last night -- I'll post a picture tomorrow. Happy Monday, everyone :-)

    Tuesday, July 01, 2003

    Happy Friday!
    No, that's not a typo ... after today, I'm taking the rest of the week off and going on vacation! DH and I are hopping in the car and driving from San Diego to Tucson, where it's currently 106 degrees and 9% humidity (perfect!) We're staying at a 4-star resort with a championship golf course (DH has an early Thursday morning tee time), and an Elizabeth Arden spa that he's trying to convince me to check out. I'm sorry, but I simply won't spring $65 for a pedicure! But I am going to check out at least one yarn store in the area: Purls. Anyone been there? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of it.

    Caution! Heavy Machinery
    The Dump Truck sweater has been started:

    I'll probably make this my takealong project, but I think I'll bring a backup, no-brainer project (i.e., no bobbins!) just in case. Have a happy 4th of July, everyone, and I'll see you next Monday!