Monday, September 29, 2003

I made quite a bit of progress on the VH1 Shawl this weekend, but like my blog sistah Marcia, I'm not going to bore you with endless pictures of it.

A co-worker is trying to obtain every copy of Workbasket magazine between 195x and 197x. She really, really likes that magazine. Anyway, she had a number of duplicate issues gleaned from her EBay trawling, and offered them to me. I didn't find any patterns I liked, but advertising junkie that I am, I did enjoy the old ads. What I found particularly interesting was that the type of ads offered then are basically the same as those being offered today: crafting, dieting, health, etc. But the tone is completely different. The Political Correctness Police would have their work cut out for them with these gems:

Carrying a Few Extra Pounds?

Need Clothes to Encompass that Extra Girth?

Or Are You Busticularly Challenged?

Anyway, you get the idea. The copywriters of bygone years had no problem calling it like it was. So after reading about how stout and fat you are, why not relax with a rewarding craft project?

We Three Kings

Here's why I didn't see any knitting projects worth pursuing in these old issues of Workbasket. Why, oh why would you ever subject your child to wearing an outfit such as this?

An outfit like this'll guarantee that the kid'll need therapy in 10 years. Or maybe you do want your kid looking like a TV test pattern, I dunno. I could be wrong.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Oh, this is too funny. The perfect antidote for us poor slobs working in Cubeville -- it's Stealth Disco!. Go up behind a fellow cube inmate and let loose your inner John Travolta! Thanks to betseeee knits! for this one.

You may not be aware that the Amy Knits! site has a patron saint: Joan Jett. I've always admired Joan for the ballsy and uncompromising swath she's cut through life. She's got that pixie-with-a-flamethrower vibe going. So behave yourself or St. Joan will whack you upside the head with her Gibson guitar.

Knit Knacks
Back to our regularly scheduled knitting. Here's RockStar modeling the almost finished Homespun Hoodie:

I have such a cruel stepmom …

Believe it or not, this darn hoodie is going to be a rather nice sweater, despite all the poor polyesters that had to die in order for it to live. Next on RockStar's list: a Bucket O' Chic hat in (what else) black.

And the VH1 Shawl is galloping right along. We've just attached Ball #2 of 4 with all yarn overs present and accounted for:

C'mon. Pet me. You know you want to.

Hang on, babies. Friday's almost here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I've found the perfect TV accompaniment for knitting lace. Any VH1 show like Driven, Where Are They Now? or I Love the '70s provide excellent background noise while I concentrate on the intricacies of lace knitting. But I still end up absorbing a lot of this pop culture stuff by osmosis. For instance, did you know that Beyonce's first name is actually her mother's maiden name? Or that Kid Rock's girlfriend tried to pass off another guy's baby onto Kid as his? Neither did I. Do you care? I thought not.

Here's the progress thus far on the newly dubbed VH1 Shawl (formerly the Marks & Katten Mohair Shawl):

Just picked up the cutest flip-flops to keep in my car to wear post-pedicure. I can't walk in the flimsy disposable ones they give you at the salon, so I got these little beauties. I'm such a girly-girl, sometimes. My flip-flops have to have sequins on them, natch. But I can rebuild a toilet with the best of them, so don't be dissin' me 'bout my bling-bling, 'kay?

Look at the sandals, not the chipped toenail polish!

Gotta go -- me 'n RockStar are watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy at 7pm. We're hooked on Carson's one-liners. Our faves so far: "You're working my last gay nerve!" and "I'm gonna need a Ritalin milkshake to deal with this!" Of course, I will be conscientiously knitting on the Homespun Hoodie under RockStar's watchful gaze.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I Can Say I Knew Him When ...
Just what every budding RockStar needs, a hoodie made of Lion Brand Homespun. I started RockStar's sweater late last year, but abandoned it because I couldn't stand working with Homespun yarn. It's pretty squirrelly stuff and it gives me the heebie-jeebies while knitting with it. However, RockStar has watched me complete at least 3 other sweaters in the meantime, and has gone from casting plaintive glances at his abandoned hoodie, to (in the last few weeks) pointedly asking, "When are you going to finish MY sweater?" Never mind that it's still 90 degrees every day here in San Diego. The kid wants his damn sweater. So yesterday I sewed up the shoulder seams, cast on the for hood, and knitted 4". Here's RockStar modeling yesterday's progress:

The Ozzy Glasses really class up that Homespun yarn, eh?

The mailman was ever so nice to me today:

Yarn and shawl pattern from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills. Yum.

Gotta go. Time to feed 1 husband, 1 teenager, 5 parrots, 1 dog and 1 cat. Have a nice evening, everyone.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Aran Gone Round
Unblocked, but unbowed, Aran Go Round makes its debut:

A few loose ends to weave in, a quick dunk in some H2O 'n soap, smoosh out the water, and a blocking we will go! Final pix when dry, hokay?

Welcome to My Nightmare
How can something that looks so fragile totally kick my b*tt? It can if it's lace, my friends. For some unknown reason, if a pattern involves yarn-overs, I'll find a way to screw it up. Always. Here's my own 7th Circle of Hell, otherwise known as a Marks & Katten Mohair Lace Stole:

75 Stitches of Discomfort

Don't Let Its Beauty Deceive You ... It's Lethal

Mmmm-Mmmm, Good!
Got some goodies at the LYS last weekend -- 4 skeins of Jazz in Hot Pink, plus a pattern book, to make this darling vest (or waistcoat, as the Brits call it), for my niece:

And 4 skeins of very nice Rowan Kid Classic, a lambswool & mohair blend, in a gorgeous shade of teal blue. Enough to make a scarf for some lucky person:

So You Wanna Make a Crazy Quilt?
I received a few emails asking more about my Victorian Crazy Quilt. I love using the Foundation Piecing method of quilting -- sewing fabric directly onto a foundation consisting of either paper or fabric. Paper foundations must be removed; fabric isn't removed. I used Benartex's Foundation By The Yard in the Crazy Quilt pattern. One section of Foundation By the Yard gives you 16 crazy quilt squares, prestamped onto muslin fabric. I Googled and found several vendors for this product. It also comes in about 7-8 other traditional quilt patterns. Here's what it looks like:

Here's some of the stuff in my little Rubbermaid box of embroidery thread, beads, needles, etc. I don't use the little blue embroidery hoop much; I use a much larger wooden quilting hoop when embroidering. I'd post a picture of it, but one of my parrots got ahold of it and used it as a chew toy and I have to buy another one.

Then you need fabric. To emulate the ladies of the late 19th century, who used scraps from their silk dresses in their crazy quilts, I collected mainly satins and velvets. I purchased old prom dresses, cocktail dresses, velvet blazers and skirts, and small amounts of fabric from yardage stores. It took about a year to collect enough variety before I actually started the quilt.

But the most important resource for me was books on the subject of crazy quilting. Here are the four books I relied upon most heavily while creating the quilt:

The titles are The Magic of Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler, Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches by Carole Samples, Art & Inspirations by Judith Baker Montano, and Crazy Patchwork by Meryl Potter. I believe several of these titles are still available, but the Potter book might be a bit difficult to locate as it's an Australian publication.

Stitching the crazy quilt blocks is fun, but the embroidery is heaven. And you don't have to undertake a 30-block monster like mine -- stitch up 4 blocks, embroider them, add a border and backing, and voila! you have a very nice wallhanging or table runner.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

No blogging last night as I was being a good citizen and donating blood. I suggest you do the same. Really. You'll feel better. And you get a tshirt and orange juice -- how can you beat that?

Round and round
Our love will find a way
Just give it time
Ratt, Out of the Cellar

Aran Go Round is in the final throes ...

The Whole Enchilada

Ooh! Pardon my Unblocked Cables

Stay tuned for the Final Viewing. Eeew, that sounded a bit morbid, didn't it?

What's Next, You Ask?
Well, since the mohair lace stole from Ram Wools is kicking my b*tt, it might be this:

This is a Victorian Crazy Quilt I started over 3 years ago. It's actually been nearly finished for over a year. I've been stalling because I really want to add another 10 squares, for a total of 30 squares. This quilt has traveled to and was worked on during a trip to London. See the little gold metallic thread crown, commemorating the trip?

Here's another of my favorite spots, a heart composed of french knots and daisy chain leaves.

I love this little quilt. I haunted thrift shops for months, picking up satin prom dresses for pennies. There's brocade cocktail dresses from the 1950s sprinkled in among remnants of velvet Ralph Lauren blazers. A few of my own overblown 80s party dresses are even in there. I always handle the fabric I harvest from pre-owned clothing with a sense of reverence. These discarded party frocks once represented someone's hopes and dreams and even maybe even a heartache or two.

All the embroidery is done in metallic or shiny rayon thread. There's even a bit of beadwork here and there. We'll see what happens. Getting the 10 new patchwork squares sewn is the first hurdle. Then all the embroidery. I think I need to set up a Project Rotation like Brent over at Beetle Blog. He's very disciplined about his projects!

Come On Over Baby, Whole Lotta Bloggin' Goin' On!
Some excellent blogging in the last few days. My blog sister Marcia posted a lovely and bittersweet entry about her memories of the 1970s. Pioneer Melissa's little Lamb gave us some words of wisdom regarding the importance of dessert. I always get hungry reading Mariko's blog! Kerstin has been an excellent source of blog resources. And Wendy is an inspiration; she knits at a ratio of five sweaters to my piddly one.

Finally, I've got to send a big shout out to our own Julie, aka BoogaJ, for tying us all together in the KnitBlog Webring. She's also becoming quite the talented knitwear designer!

Gotta run; RockStar is nosing around looking for dinner.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Requiem for the Man in Black: RIP, Johnny Cash
God sent his singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Wuv, Twue Wuv
Well, it's happened. RockStar has had his first breakup. This being the digital age, however, it happened with a girl he has been corresponding with online for 4 years and has never actually met in person. Apparently, they've been "together" as a couple for the past 2 years. She is 2 years older than he is. She's a senior this year; he's a sophomore. She outgrew him and set him free last Monday with an AOL "Dear John" instant message.

The weird thing is that even though this relationship was entirely virtual, the emotions and feelings experienced by RockStar were very real and exactly the same as if this had been a face-to-face relationship. He expressed the hurt and anger of anyone who'd been dumped by their significant other. Lots of talking and assurances that he would, indeed, love again seem to have soothed him a bit. DH and I gently suggested that RockStar be brave and start talking to real, live girls that live in the same state, at least. We live in very interesting times, my friends, very interesting, indeed.

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Knitting
Aran Go Round is progressing nicely. I've just passed the 2nd major decrease round, again lightening the load on my 36" circulars. Still plugging away, still enjoying the pattern, still not independently wealthy. Drat.

Da Big Pitcha

Da Little Pitcha

Gimme Five
I haven't done a Friday Five in awhile, and today's topic looked interesting:

1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? If not, what's changed?

The name I go by is a derivative of my formal name. The name on my birth certificate is Amelia Ann; my nickname is Amy.

2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be?

Up until about 5th grade I wanted to change my first name -- the children's book Amelia Bedelia was popular and I was called that name a LOT by unimaginative classmates. After 5th grade, I shrugged it off as their problem, not mine.

3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?)

Yes, there's a story. My siblings and I were supposed to be named after the characters in Little Women -- Amy, Jo, Meg & Beth. I was born first and Mom chose Amy, short for Amelia. My sister was 2nd, and her name was supposed to be Margaret Jane, or Meg for short. But Mom was woozy from all the Demerol they pumped her with during the delivery, and answered "Jane Margaret" when the nurses asked her the name. So that blew the naming program. If it had worked, my little brother would have been Joe, short for Joseph. And she never intended to have 4 kids, so what was she thinking, anyway?

4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why?

First off, I don't like to use the word hate to describe my level of dislike for anything. But there are some names I truly dislike. Trendy girl names of any era drive me up the wall -- can you imagine 70 years from now some nurse will go into an old lady's room and say, "OK, Britney, it's time for your Maalox!" Too horrible to contemplate.

5. Is the analysis of your name at / / astroexpert accurate? How or how isn't it?

The analysis of Amy at kabalarians was fairly accurate. The kabalarians' analysis of Amelia was a bit off-the-wall. It made me sound like a kind, caring person who'd morph into a lunatic if she got stressed (oh damn, busted!). The triggur site was rather juvenile. I didn't understand the results of the astroexpert site.

Happy Friday, everyone. Go forth and sing a song, fall in love, and be good to each other.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I feel like a pirate who just took down an English frigate and scored some maaajor booty!

First, we have 2 balls of Odyssey to make a scarf for some lucky Christmas recipient:

Then, my copy of Fiber Trends' Faina scarf pattern arrived (it was on backorder), along with some lovely Marks & Katten mohair and an equally lovely shawl pattern. All from Ram Wools in Canada:

But the piece de resistance are the two Alice Starmore books that turned up in today's mail. The Celtic Collection was a heck of a deal from (about 1/2 the cover price), and Stillwater came all the way from Jolly Old England via EBay. Stillwater has been out-of-print and is getting a bit hard to find, but I got it for a decent price and am happy to have it. Now, if only In The Hebrides, Pacific Coast Highway, and Aran Knitting weren't so outrageous. We won't even talk about what The Scottish Collection is fetching these days.

Gotta go -- stash examination awaits! Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Nuttin, Honey
Only got another 5-6 rows picked off on Aran Go Round last night … not enough to take a picture. Pretty pix to follow, post progress.

I'm Hearing You
Thank you, faithful readers, for all your supportive and helpful comments and suggestions. By nature, I'm a shy person, as well as a bit of a stoic. It was really hard to reach out and ask for help. But I'm glad I did -- your comments reaffirmed my belief that there are nice, caring people out there. I just have to learn to ask more often. Thank you all for some very good suggestions. I’ll keep you posted on my further adventures down in the Diet Delta.

Compromises and Trade-Offs Can Make Great Art
I am a graphic artist by occupation. Not a fine artist. The difference between the two is that while a fine artist can paint, sculpt, or express him or herself freely in their chosen medium, a graphic artist works to create the vision of others. Usually, the "other" in question is your employer (or your client, if you're self-employed).

That being said, there's a long history of excellent graphic design, both here in the US and abroad. One of my favorite genres is Chinese Propaganda Art (talk about having the boss looking over your shoulder while you're working). Stefan Landsberger has a terrific site (and book) that details the history of this provocative subject.

Here’s a New Year picture (nianhua) depicting chubby babies and carp (male offspring--important in China, and carp for abundance):

Another of my favorites are the posters of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Franklin Roosevelt "New Deal" cultural program. There are a variety of subjects including some beautiful travel posters, but the "Health & Safety" category is particularly amusing.

Poor Johnny, A Shameful Affliction, and Community Sanitation:

Gotta go. Hungry teenager demanding dinner now.

Monday, September 08, 2003

I completely forgot to post on Friday. So …

Into the Penalty Box I Go
For anyone wondering why I keep referring to being sent to the penalty box, rent Slapshot and it will all become clear. Being married to a former amateur hockey player, it's one of the more oft-quoted movies in my house -- along with The Godfather, Scarface, and a few other testosterone-laden movies. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

And Now We Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming
Well, shake it up, baby, now, (shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout. (twist and shout)
The Beatles

Woo hoo! A weekend of assiduous Housework Avoidance, several excellent movies on satellite tee-vee, and Aran Go Round is lookin' good! Roll that beautiful bean footage:

The Big Picture

Cable Detail

The cable pattern is quite easy, with a big visual and textural pay-off. I'm enjoying it even more now that I'm past the first major decrease round and there's a lot fewer stitches crammed on my 36" circular. The only thing I'm not thrilled with is the hole at the beginning of the cabling ... I thought I followed Janet's directions so as not to have this happen, but it looks a bit "airy."

One of the cinematic gems that accompanied my weekend knitting frenzy was the 1968 classic Yours, Mine & Ours, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. I adore these unrealistic Technicolor portrayals of idyllic family life, precisely because my own childhood was anything but. Right up there with YM&O is its Siamese twin, With Six You Get Eggroll (starring Doris Day & Brian Keith). But I never did buy off on The Brady Bunch, the television incarnation of these 2 movies. It was just a little too sanitized. At least Lucille Ball gave one of her little imps a light swat on the bottom when he misbehaved -- that would never have happened on TBB (horrors!). Also watched The Mothman Prophecies with RockStar. Surprisingly, it was better than either of us expected.

My Own Private Idaho (Potato)
OK, faithful readers, I'm asking for your help. I have not been able to stick to any sort of diet plan, lo-carb, no-carb, Weight Watchers, etc. for longer than 2 weeks. I want to lose the 50 lbs. I've gained over the past 2 years. It's (literally) weighing me down, energy- and confidence-wise.

On a positive note, I have started exercising regularly on the Clothes Hangar 950, my elliptical trainer. I'm logging a minimum of 20 minutes each weekday morning, and try to do 30 minutes on at least 2 of those days. So that's good.

On the diet front, however, I've had success on various plans, but only for the first 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, boredom sets in and that little voice in the back of my head starts whispering, "eat the chocolate, eat the chocolate." I start to focus on what I can't have. If anyone has any tips to combat this problem, please comment or email me. I'm getting quite tired of this.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

A Pleasant Diversion
Not much to show on Aran Go Round, so I'll amuse you with this lovely jacket from the latest Peruvian Connection catalog:

The jacket

Jacket detail

Isn't it gorgeous? It looks so easy to make -- it's knit horizontally, with drop shoulders. The sleeves appear to be knit horizontally as well. The yarn used in the catalog version is composed of baby alpaca and wool. The jacket retails for $169. Looks like a pretty lightweight yarn -- maybe Baby Cashmerino would work for this?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … so I'm gonna sign off like Kerstin of At My Knit's End and Marcia of Purls Before Swine. Those girls rhyme real good:

See ya tomorrow. Not gonna borrow. Can't have no sorrow. Pack up my wheelbarrow. RockStar will play his guitar-o.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Mystery Solved!
I had intended to email Janet Szabo and run my problem with Aran Go Round past her, but she beat me to it -- there was an email from her awaiting me this morning! She read of the problems I'd been having with AGR on my blog and offered to post corrections to her Errata page. There was a bit of confusion because I originally (and incorrectly) stated that the problem was with Row 2, when it's actually Row 3 that has the error. We got the problem straightened out and I'm happily cabling away. Kudos to Janet for her quick response and devotion to maintaining a quality publication :-)

This Is Getting Old
It's the same old story
Same old song and dance, my friend

It's only Day 2 of school, and RockStar is already up to his old tricks. We leave for school promptly at 7:05am. Every day at 7:00am, it's the same litany of questions from the parental units:

"Did you put on deodorant?"
"No. I'll go do it now."

"Did you take your medication?"
"No. I'm about to do it."

"Do you have your cellphone?"
"No. I'll go get it."

"Do you have your homework?"
"No. I'm going to put it in my backpack right now"

"Did you finish your homework?"
"Most of it."

"Why not all of it?"
"I needed a book from the library."

"Why didn’t you ask me to take you to the library?"
"I forgot."

"Is there anything we need to sign?"
"Yes, I have to dig it out of my backpack."

"Do you have your house key?"
"No. I have to find it."

Except for Questions #1 & #2, all of these items could have been completed the night before. But completing these items the night before might cut into the all-important America On-Line Instant Messenger (AIM) chat sessions that are the lifeline of RockStar and his pubescent buddies. I see the whole year stretching before me … and it looks like a bad flashback of last year. We're headed for a showdown, my friends. If you don't want to be caught in the crossfire, stay away from our house around 7pm PST. The sparks are gonna fly. And RockStar may become a technological Luddite before I'm through.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Labor Day weekend was rather underwhelming. DH and his brother were back in Ohio for the weekend, visiting a close family friend who's getting on in years. RockStar and I rattled around the house, rented movies and video games, and generally ate too much. DH comes home tonight. RockStar and I are glad; we missed him terribly.

RockStar celebrated his 15th birthday yesterday … I took him to dinner at Ruby's, his favorite eatery. He indulged in endless vanilla Cokes, had a huge Ruby Burger, and was even a good sport when the staff came out and sang a very loud Happy Birthday and stuck a paper Ruby's cap on his head. I think that getting a free ice cream sundae made it bearable.

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This
Got the sleeves and body of Aran Go Round united …

… and started the cabling around the yoke. Right away on Row 2, things aren't matching up. Ripped out and reknit the first 2 rows three times, with the same funky result each time. I'm gonna try it one more time, and if it doesn't work, I'm firing off an email to Janet Szabo and see if she can get me steered in the right direction.

UPDATE 2:00pm: The above paragraph was written earlier this morning. I've since discovered there's a typo in the Row 2 instructions. I knit Row 2 as it should be, then picked up the instructions starting with Row 3. Everything is matching up. Whew! I'll email Janet later and let her know what I found.

A Brush with Fame
Fairy tales can come true,
It can happen to you,
If you're young at heart.
Frank Sinatra

Remember RockStar's quest to meet Rob Halford, lead singer of Judas Priest? Well, he didn't get to meet him, but he got the next best thing … his '82 Judas Priest tour jacket and 3 CDs were signed personally by Mr. Halford last Thursday. Josh, the affable, tongue-pierced clerk at Borders, kept RockStar's stuff in safekeeping until Mr. Halford dropped by on his next visit. Apparently, Mr. Halford has a looong memory and knows virtually everyone in the world of rock. He had Josh and the other Borders staffers enthralled with stories that began with, "I was sitting around one night and Ozzy called me up …" Now I need to wait for the next Michaels' 40% off coupon to get the jacket framed. I'll close with a picture of RockStar modeling his prize: