Thursday, January 29, 2004

Darkness Falls on Tierrasanta
I wanted to show you my progress on another Upside Downer I'm making for my 7yo nephew. Really, I did. But at around 6pm last night, as RockStar and I were watching a Tivo'd episode of VH1 Classic's Metal Mania show, the power went out. Here's what we looked like:

Uh, honey, did you pay the electric bill?

It was a very strange and prolonged blackout. It only affected about 12 houses on our side of the street, and about 5 on the other side. In fact, our neighbors immediately next door and the ones directly across the street had power. Two big power company trucks were prowling around and settled on a circuit box across the street. Something must have broken big-time, because it took almost 6 hours to restore power. In a surreal touch, the power came back on at the stroke of midnight.

Now that I'm firmly back in the 21st century, I'll get some pictures posted tomorrow. Really! I will.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Didn't get time to snap any pitchas ... so you get my rambling thoughts instead. You've been warned; move on to the next site in the KnitBlog Ring if you're so inclined. Decided to stay? Alrighty, then.

There's a Song in My Heart
What is it about certain songs that they become embedded in your brain, playing over (and over and over)? My current torture is split between two songs: OutKast's "Hey Ya" and Britney Spears "Toxic." There's no rhyme (ha ha) or reason for either of these songs to be on auto-replay in my head all day. Well, maybe a case can be made for "Hey Ya." It has the secret Walt Disney song ingredient. You know -- the same one that provides me with instant recall on all songs from the Mary Poppins soundtrack. And just to set the record straight: Movie merchandising did not begin with The Little Mermaid. I'll have you know I had an entire bedroom suite of Mary Poppins paraphernalia: Bedspread, sheets 'n pillowcase, and bedside lamp. Plus a full meal set: Plate, silverware, drinking cup. And M.P. doll. And this was in (cough) 1965.

But I digress. All morning at work, while trying to dig myself out of the creative (funk) (hole) (abyss) that I currently reside in (not a good thing if you're a graphic designer and worthy of a post all by itself), snippets of "Hey Ya" were trolling my brainwaves like a musical freighter on the high seas:

You think you've got it
Ohh, you think you've got it
But got it just don't get it
Till' there's nothing at
AaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaAAAAAAaaaaaallllll.. (love that part)

But wait! There's more:

Shake it, shake, shake it, shake it (OHH OH)
Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it (OHH OH)
Shake it, shake it like a Poloroid Picture, shake it, shake it

But I simply cannot explain the Britney Spears song. With insipid lyrics like these:

With a taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic
I’m slipping under
With a taste of poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic

I have no excuse. Maybe I need a high colonic. Somebody. Help. Me.

Sigh. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Finally ... Friday
Don't know about you, but I'm certainly glad it's Friday. My poor husband, however, has been working 6 days per week since early October. He works for a well-known tax & personal finance software company, and getting the tax software out the door starts waaaay before January 1st, and continues until about mid-February. This is a rough time of year for him (and us). I miss him.

I've got a few more inches done on Cabled Hoodie. I'll post a picture of the back when it's finished. Whipped up a Fuzzy Scarf while hanging out in the car on Saturdays during RockStar's guitar lessons. The scarf has a keyhole, and is uber-fuzzy. The yarn is Lion Brand Fun Fur in Sandstone.

That's one fuzzy scarf!

More Random Amy-ness

I Love …

I Can't Stand …

I Miss …

I Wish …
I could see my family in Oregon more often

I Regret ...
Nothing at the moment

I'm Grateful
I have such a loving family

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Had to put Ridgeway Lite on hold until I find a yarn to my liking. So I've switched back to the Cabled Hoodie for awhile:

I've made it to the underarm shaping on the back. Easy pattern, nice yarn (Paton's Classic Wool in Faded Blue). A win-win knit sitchie-ation!

Musings on My Mother, Part 1
When I was 12yo, we moved from Portland to a rural community about 20 miles south. Here is the paradox that is Oregon: driving 30 minutes from Portland in just about any direction puts you smack into some very rural countryside. From a bastion of liberalism to cows 'n conservatism. From good private schools to "unified school districts" where kids ride the bus through the countryside for nearly an hour to get to school.

I know now that my mother did not want to move there. But greater forces were at work and she decided to make the best of it, and provide her "city kids" with the best that country living had to offer.

Our "spread" consisted of an old farmhouse, a garage/barn/shed, a chicken coop and yard, and about 3/4 of an acre of land. Sort of a "country gentleman's" mini-farm. The land could support about half-a-horse and a good-sized vegetable garden, if you were so inclined.

My mother decided that the animal to inaugurate our farm experience would be chickens. The coop and yard were ready to go, and so was mom. So off we drive to the nearest town (5 miles up the road), to the local farmer's co-op and feed store. For anyone who's never lived in the country, the co-op is THE hub of community activity. All farm business, gossip, and general scratchin' and lyin' are done at the co-op. Lotsa snuff dippin' and spittin'. Trucker hats? Feh! Either John Deere or International Harvester tractor caps, worn with your basic OshKosh b'Gosh overalls and a flannel shirt -- that's the basic Farmer Uniform.

The co-op had wooden floors and smelled strongly but pleasantly of animal feed and of leather from the animal harnesses hanging down from the ceiling throughout the building.

Now, these old farmers must have been absolutely dying of laughter inside, but managed to hold it together long enough to sell my mother a dozen Rhode Island Red laying hens. The old farmer fella at the counter cautioned my mother that these hens had been retired from the local egg farm, but would still lay eggs for a good number of years. He brought out 4 burlap bags from the back of the store, tied at the top with twine. Inside each bag were 3 hens, faintly wriggling and poking the burlap. We also purchased bags of Purina Chicken Feed, feed corn, and water trays for our little Henny Pennies.

And off to home we went. My little brother kept peeking into the back of the station wagon where the burlap bags containing the hens were lying. "Mama," he asked, "are they OK? They aren't moving around much." "They're fine," my mom said, "they just want to get home to their new house." My brother wasn't convinced, but didn't say anything.

We rolled up in the driveway, and hauled the burlap bags into the chicken yard. The big moment had arrived! We were going to be real farm kids, now! Mom ran around, filling water and feed trays, then she carefully opened the burlap bags. We backed away slowly and held our breath. But nothing happened. Not a cluck or a peep from any of the bags.

Mom cautiously pulled back the top of one of the bags. Three Rhode Island Red hens lay on their sides, staring back at her. Alive, and apparently, healthy, but lying quite contentedly on their sides. Mom gently removed all the hens from the bags. 12 hens, all basking in the June sunshine. On their sides. My little brother starts crying, "Mama! What's wrong with the chickens? Are they dead?" My sister joins him in the crying. Mom starts lifting the hens up, trying to get them to stand on their own. They flop back down as soon as she lets go. She starts to get a little frantic, and drags them over, one by one, to the water trough so they can get a drink of water. The hens are perfectly content to lie on their sides and cluck. She then tries gently lofting the chickens into the air to see if they'll flap their wings and start moving on their own. No luck. Prone chickens, again. What the hell is wrong with these chickens?

Well. What the aw-shucks farmers down at the co-op had neglected to tell my mom is that these hens, having come from an egg farm, sat in a laying rack all day and never got to go run around in a nice chicken yard like the one we just brought them home to. Their poor little legs worked, but were weak from disuse.

This story has a happy ending. The hens, after several hours of lying around, with my mother hand-carrying them to the water trough, eventually wobbled to their feet and started pecking at their food and exploring their new home. We ended up having those hens for a number of years, and they laid a lot of nice brown eggs that were very fresh and good.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

New Online Knitting Mag Alert!
Got the news straight from Julie's blog ... there's a new online knitting mag starting publication on February 29th called Magknits. Can't hardly wait!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Speed Sweater!
Wow, I wish I could finish a sweater-a-week all the time! That's what's cool about knitting for kids -- miniature size, fast satisfaction for the knitter. Making its AmyKnits! debut, in all its pink splendor, is the Pink Fiesta Upside-Downer!

Whoa! That's a lotta pink!

I tried to get a closeup shot of the yarn, to show the nifty pastel tweed texture:

And the coolest part? An entire sweater for under $10. PFUD and the Aran Poncho will be heading up to Portland sometime this week, as a surprise for my sister and niece. I love stealth gifting!

The only thing I'd do differently the next time on this sweater is add some short rows to the back of the neck area, ala Elizabeth Zimmerman's Percentage Raglan. I don't think it'll make a lot of difference on a child's sweater, but I can imagine the adult version fitting too closely around the neck front and bothering the wearer.

Hit a Bit of a Snag ...
... when I started Ridgeway Lite for my brother. The yarn I'd intended to use, a discontinued shade of WoolEase called Tartan Twist, ended up being much too dark to show the pattern's texture. The texture is a twisted stockinette stitch that's pretty subtle. The Tartan Twist shade is a very dark navy blue, with a twist of dark purple and forest green running through it. Good for another plain sweater like the Upside Downer Raglan where the yarn is the star. Back into the stash it goes, and online I go, cruising for a medium shade of worsted.

"I found myself driving past convenience stores,
even when they weren't on the way home."
--H.I. McDonnough, Raising Arizona

You can tell you've been on a diet for awhile when you start looking for excuses to just gaze at food. I've started watching Food Network. At first, I just watched the diet-related shows, ostensibly to get ready for the transition to the maintenance phase of my diet. Then I started watching Emeril. Oh, the slippery slope!

The good news is that I've lost a total of 23 lbs. I'm a little over one-third of the way to my goal, and am starting to feel like my old (slender) self again. So I gotta put the kibosh on this Food Network stuff, pronto.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, January 16, 2004

PFUD, Begone!
Got the right sleeve started, and bound off the bottom. Zip, zip! this little sweater should be done this weekend.

I'm feeling the need to knit a sweater for my brother, who is going through some tough times right now. I'm thinking maybe this, in a nice tweedy blue WoolEase that's been aging in my stash. I'm loving these topdown, seamless sweaters! So quick, and no piecing. Works for me.

More Random Amy-ness

I Love …
Sharpie pens

I Can't Stand …
Poor manners

I Miss …
Boots the Chemist in London

I Wish …
I knew then what I know now

I'm Grateful ...
I had gastric-bypass surgery in 1998

Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

PFUD Progress
I'm on the last row of ribbing at the bottom of the sweater -- will try to bind off during lunch today. Then two quick sleeves, and off it goes to my niece in Portland! I love knitting kids clothing -- so much quicker than humongous adult stuff.

Knit Bloggers Are the Nicest People - Part II
Ooh! Ooh! Marcia wrote me a Blog Thank-You Note! We started out as Blog Newbies around the same time last summer, and supported each other via our comments as we slowly attracted new readers to our fledgling blog efforts. Marcia describes much more eloquently than me the special and unique nature of the knit blogging community, and how serendipity led her to it. Read her sweet post. As usual, she cuts right to the heart of the matter and leaves the reader feeling good. Yes, I sent Marcia a silly little gift. But I (and her readers) get a gift from her, every time she posts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Work is hella-busy, today, so I'll amuse you with the following fun link.

See ya tomorrow. Don't borrow. Feed a sparrow. Don't ding your car-o.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Pretty in Pink
Made a lot of progress on the Pink Fiesta Upside-Downer this weekend:

I wish I was 6 years old so *I* could wear this!

I'm hoping to finish PFUD by the end of the week. I think the Aran Poncho may be going to Portland, too, for my sister. I wore it this weekend and really liked it, but I think she'd get more wear out of it.

Welcome to My World
The scene: My sis and me shopping at Wally World in Portland last August. 5yo niece ensconced comfortably in the shopping cart. The mission: Purchase new panties for me, because mine somehow, ahem, disappeared from my packed suitcase enroute from San Diego to Portland. Dear Alaska Airline Employee Who Stole My Underwear: Are you getting a thrill? Geez, they were just plain old tighty-whities … not even Victoria's Secret Angels underwear. More like Victoria's Secret if they made a Civil Servant line.

So here we are, maneuvering a huge plastic 'n metal cart through overstuffed aisles and departments, doing the Good Consumer Bit along the way (plastic hair thingies for Niece since they're always getting lost, munchies that sis 'n me definitely don't need, hair gel, etc.) Eventually, we weave our way into the Intimate Apparel department. I pick out some new underpants (are you listening, Alaska Employee? Don't miss your chance for fun on my return trip!) The IA department is particularly stuffed with all manner of lacey, poofy, padded undergarments. It's nearly impossible to steer the Monster Cart through the aisles without snagging a bustier or three.

We finish our undercover work and head toward the checkout registers at the front of the store. "Do you hear that noise?" asks my sister. "No, I only hear Olivia singing that same Veggie Tales tune over and over," I reply. We unload the cart at the register: underwear, snacks, kid, hair junk. My sister leans down and snags something off the wheels of the cart and holds it up for inspection. Dangling from a plastic hangar is a very tiny, gold 'n black metallic leopard print thong panty, profusely trimmed with black marabou feathers. Apparently, it had gotten snagged off a display and caught on the cart's wheels. The thong's high-speed wheel flapping accounted for the rhythmic "fluh, fluh, fluh, fluh" noise my sister had heard.

The cashier was a no-nonsense, older woman. The three of us looked at the thong, then at each other. Wordlessly, the cashier motioned for the thong. Sis handed it to her. She flung it into a restocking box under the counter, and proceeded to ring us up without a word. We managed to make it out to the car before totally falling apart with laughter.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Bait 'n Switch
Ha! You thought I was firmly ensconced in the making of the Cable Hoodie! But you were deceived by my superior slight-of-hand technique, and are dazzled by my ability to manipulate pink acrylic yarn for hours on end! (OK, I'll stop talking like I'm in a '70s Kung Fu movie)

Lo, feast your eyes on the Pink Fiesta Upside-Downer, a simple pullover for my 6yo niece, who adores pink. Pattern from Paton's Upside Downers (Easy Pullovers Knit from the Top Down). The yarn is Red Heart "Fiesta," a nice soft acrylic with a shiny, multi-colored rayon thread twisted into it. I chose Baby Pink, which has a thread that is light blue, sherbet orange, fuschia, pale yellow, and white, and makes a nice, flecked pattern as it's knit. Perfect for a girly-girl like my niece.

Blast from the Past
My mother has a unique sense of humor. She often chooses a "theme" for my birthday or Christmas presents, and this year was no different. This year's Christmas theme: Nuns. Yes, nuns. One of my stocking stuffer presents was this:

Oh, no! Look out, Tokyo! Go, go, Nunzilla! Yes, it's Nunzilla, a wind-up, walking, ruler-carrying nun that bears an amazing likeness to my 4th grade teacher Sister Elizabeth. Wind up Nunzilla, then watch sparks fly from her mouth as she walks! Ah, I can hear Sr. Elizabeth now, "Who's chewing gum? No gum in the classroom! Get out your New Testament and turn to John 13:34. Who's volunteering for the parish bake sale at recess? No volunteers? Then I'll pick them. Amy, Julie, John, Brendan, go to the 8th grade classroom and they'll tell you what to do. Expect extra homework this weekend, I think we had it rather easy this week ..."

Sr. Elizabeth was definitely Old School -- she ran her classroom as efficiently as Patton routing Italy. But you know what? I learned more in her class than just about any other teacher I've ever had, even though she had me half-scared to death most of the time.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Knit Bloggers Are the Nicest People
Kate is hosting a Must Have Cardigan knitalong at her site. Remember this cardie? I dubbed it the Sweater from Hell when I was knitting it last summer, mainly because it was the first major project I chose after a 15-year hiatus from knitting (see "Must Have Cardigan" under Finished Projects for a picture). Honestly, it's a pretty simple pattern. The only problem is that it's pretty close-fitting (only goes up to a 41" finished bust size). Not a problem for my mom, who's quite tiny, but perhaps a problem for others. Not to fear! Kate has graciously upsized the pattern to fit up to a 46" bust (49" finished size). Link here. Thanks, Kate!

Talking about the Must Have Cardi allows a graceful segue to my next project, also from Paton's Street Smart booklet. It's the front cover design, called Cable Hoodie:

I'm knitting it in the yarn called for in the pattern, Paton's Classic Merino Wool, in a color called Faded Blue. Both yarn and book are available at both Beehive Wool and Ram Wools.

However, I lucked out and got my Classic Wool on sale from Herrschners for the bargain basement price of $2.99 per skein, which puts this project firmly in the Cheap 'n Chic category! Even at full price, I think Paton's Classic Wool is a bargain. Great yardage per skein (223 yards), reasonable price (Ram Wools has it listed for $4.99/skein; 10-skein bags for $44.90), wide selection of colors, a nice firm hand and slightly hard finish which shows off cable work very well, and because it's merino, it's not itchy like other pure wool yarns (Lite Lopi, for instance). Here's my progress to date on the back:

Random Amy-ness

I Love …
Joe Brown Caramel Corn (only available in Portland)

I Can't Stand …
Neurotic people

I Miss …
My grandma

I Wish …
I was taller

I Regret …
Not finishing college at a younger age

I'm Grateful ...
I met & married my second husband

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Squeaking in under the 2003 Projects wire, may I present the Aran Poncho. The pattern is by Norah Gaughan, from Lopi #21. The yarn is Light Lopi, in Oatmeal (book and yarn available at Woodland Woolworks). I had a lot of fun knitting this up. It's basically 2 long rectangles, with a ribbed edging and neckline. The cable pattern is very easy. The Light Lopi yarn was interesting to handle; it was a bit scratchy, but softened up with use. It became even softer and loftier after washing. I'll model it for y'all after it's dried, hokay?

Block Me Gently, Block Me Slowly

"Well, I guess Dick's still alive."
"No, I haven't seen him, but the detectives called yesterday."
"No, they haven't seen him, but they found his car."
--Woman that I overhead talking on her cell in Home Depot, week before Christmas.

True story; I overheard this cell conversation snippet while Christmas shopping. I love the website In Passing. Eva overhears the most incredible bits of conversation in San Francisco, where she resides. Maybe reading the entries on her site primed me to pay more attention to the random flow of public conversation? Who knows.

Musings on 2003
It was a year of highs (my weight, RockStar's improving grades), and lows (the October wildfires, RockStar's $20,000 flooding of the house). I really don't like saying I "survived" the year because that implies that I merely endured, rather than really lived. But it truly was a difficult year for me, physically and emotionally.

But you know what? I had 5 days off, starting on December 31st. I had a lot of time to relax, knit, and think. I identified some issues I need to work on. I let go of some issues I have no control over. I confronted some behaviors I'm ashamed of, and will work on improving them. At the end of the vacation, I ended up with a lighter heart. Things ain't perfect, but they're pretty darn good. And I'm OK with that.

Happy 2004, everyone.