Monday, March 31, 2008

I declare it's spring already! Signs of spring:


Phillies Opening Day! Yippeee! We're going all the way this year, baby!! Yay! I'm delusional but also optimistic!! [Okay, Gordon blew the win today, but it's a long season which will be full of uplifting Phillies wins!]

And this!

Pretty! In the back yard!

And if it's spring, it must mean it's time for Spring Cleaning and Organizing!!

Yes, I have made a momentus decision. I am going to go on a journey. A journey to a far-off place - a mysterious place - a place of despair and wonder. I am going to go on a Journey To The Center Of The Core Of The Stash. Either by giant titanium-bit drill or tiny miniaturized ship (I can't remember what movie I'm stealing from....) I am going to go to a place that hasn't seen the light of day in years. If I can gather up the intestinal fortitude I'm sure I will be rewarded by a great prize at the center of the core of the stash - nice yarn that I love that has survived numerous purges over the years.

I think Yarn Harlot did a riff on the nature of the stash in one of her books - comparing it to different sedimentary layers at the core of which was yarn that was beloved but that had been deemed too precious to ever knit up. That's what's happened to me. I have three or four sweaters' worth of yarn that I dearly love but can't bring myself to use. Ridiculous! Short-sighted! Silly!

Now granted, I work in a yarn store, so there's a never-ending supply of beautiful yarn and inspiring projects that cross my path every day. It's been easy to succumb to the let-me-start-a-new-project-now-let-me-wander-around-the-store-and-
pick-out-some-yarn impulse. And let me say, I am all for supporting your local yarn store, believe you me! But something's gotta give and my momentous decision is that I Am Going To Knit From My Stash. Non-knitters might find it rather interesting that this is so momentous a decision - to actually use yarn that I've accumulated - but you knitters out there know what I'm talking about.

Here's part of the reason why this is such an epic journey. My basement:

Tucked under the shelf and in various Rubbermaid containers is my core stash.

As you can see, most of those containers contain ephemera from my childhood home, which was sold last year. Organizing them is a project for another year. Anyway, I took the first plunge into the Core this weekend and unearthed a nice yarn, which I will tell you about tomorrow.

In other knitting news, I've been ploughing ahead with the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. This was a Knit-Along at The Tangled Web, and though I've been a big proponent of our Knit-Alongs, this one really convinced me how great a concept it is. This was one of the most challenging projects that we've picked and one of the most surprising. More people completed this project more quickly than any Knit-Along I can remember (and we've done a lot of them!). What's up with that?

And I have to say that there were many moments when I would have put it down and let it languish for a long time if I didn't keep seeing customers come in with their gorgeous finished sweaters. That said, I am on Row 17 (of 18) of the yoke cable, so the end is in sight!

Check out the madness!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ooops - I've lapsed into 2007 Diana mode, not posting for a week! Here's what's been going on:

1.) Today is Opening Day! Matthew and Gus got up at 6 am this morning so they could watch the Red Sox-Athletics game, which was played in Japan. Matsuzaka started, came out throwing 125 mph all over the place, but then settled down and the Red Sox eventually won.

Phillies open at home on Monday against the Nationals. After a shaky start, everything's suddenly come together (even Adam "Get's B" Eaton has pitched well!), so now we're back on track to win the division and go to the World Series. Maybe my friend Pat Burrell will be the annual MVP from the Phillies this year!

2.) Gus's community baseball team assignment came the other day. He's on THE RED SOX. Yes, the mighty GYAC Red Sox, along with four other kids from his class at school. The only thing better, of course, would be the mighty GYAC PHILLIES, but at least he's not on the GYAC Yankees.

3.) Happy Easter to all of you out there that celebrate. We do, in a mild, chocolate-eating, egg-dyeing way. Here is the master at work:

I took the plunge into another Selbuvotter project. This was my Valhalla, my ne plus ultra, otherwise known as Annemor #10. Allow me to digress a moment. Back in 1994, when the movie "Little Women" came out, I was absolutely mesmerized by a pair of gloves that Susan Sarandon wore in one scene, and I've obsessed about them ever since. Believe it or not, I found a picture of these gloves on the internet (and it wasn't even difficult - why would there be a picture of these gloves??) Anyway, here is Susan in her obsession-making gloves:

Ever since I saw these, I've sought high and low for a pattern that was similar, with no luck until the mighty Selbuvotter appeared. I remembered these as sort of generic Norwegian snowflake-patterned gloves, though now that I see the picture, it kind of cracks me up that they are almost nothing like I remembered. They actually resemble a more heavily-patterned Annemor #7 (this picture is from the book):

When I saw Annemor #10, they were the ones I thought were the closest to the Little Women gloves, so I decided to take the plunge and off I went. I still love this book A LOT, but there are many moments when the directions kind of fling you off a cliff and expect you to find your footing. As an experienced knitter I appreciate that faith, but there are some places where my intuition can't make the leap.

The charts for the fingers didn't match the pattern or the photograph of the finished glove. I had to appeal to another Annemor #10 veteran on Ravelry, Pam/aka Northstar, who very kindly and quickly emailed me back that she had cast on extra stitches to make it turn out okay. Which I did. Also, there was only one row of ribbing at the cuff, so of course it flipped up madly and I had to pick up stitches and knit a hem to make it lie flat. I like it hemmed better anyway, since it makes the glove more substantial and finished.

I finished one glove, and I love it more than anything I've ever knit. But I need to take a little break before plunging into the second one. It wasn't difficult, but it required a lot of mental exertion. Ta da!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ooooh, look what I pre-ordered from Amazon this morning:

We love Chris Coste. Remember this?

(OMG - Look how young my boy is!!!) Anyway, we like Chris Coste and would like to support him in all his endeavors.

Here is what I worked on yesterday, the 2nd Selbuvotter mitten (what a relief to be doing symmetric color work - so soothing, so predictable - makes me happy - plus 60-stitch rows are sooo short!!!), many rows completed during "Top Chef" debut last night:

Done and done.

I'm not a reality-tv watcher as a rule, but got caught up in this show last season, and this season a dear friend of mine worked as part of the crew, so I'm extra-interested!! I will badger her gently and mercilessly for all the inside gossip.

Yesterday, was the solemn and dignified Closing Ceremonies for GYAC Basketball. Here is Gus's team, the mighty 3-10 Pacers. What a bunch of good kids, and very good sports - they suffered a couple of knife-in-the-gut losses and bounced back cheerfully. (The hair on these kids cracks me up - none of them, including Gus, looks like they know what a comb is....)

Happy St Patrick's Day to you from the great-granddaughter of Himself - Kieran McCulkin. Don't drink too much green beer!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I got the fever. Yeah, I can feel it coming on.... You know the symptoms: a listless feeling while contemplating your present projects, an unhealthy and speculative interest in what other people are knitting, the incipient rationalization of wanting to start a million new and different and shiny projects under the guise of "stash-busting".

I'm slogging through the Paisley Shawl from "Folk Style". Here is unhelpful progress shot:

I love the yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) and I love the finished look (lots of nice flat stretches of stockinette interspersed with paisley yarnover blobs), but the knitting isn't fun. There's no rhythm to the yarnovers and I have to count the stockinette stitches on every row. I finally gave in and charted the last two charts on Excel, complete with stitch counts, but that's 10 lonnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggg rows away. It makes me yearn for some delightful palate-cleansing Feather and Fan - you know, full of regular k2togs and yos.

My Landscape Shawl is growing, but it's so mindless it's almost like socks, so it doesn't count as a project. [hear the rationalization??]

I think I might finish (or actually start) the other Selbuvotter mitten. It would give me a new fussy project to start, but I actually would be finishing a project at the same time. I'm tricky!! [Update: yes I did start the second mitten yesterday, and it feels so good!]

In Phillies spring training news, Davey Lopes has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was diagnosed early and his outlook is good, but still very scary. I remember (said in creaky, old-coot voice) when he used to fly around the bases for the Dodgers in the 70s. Phillies baserunners had some insane base-stealing success rate (like 95%) last year because he was the first base coach. Let's send some good healing vibes out to him.

Likewise to the pitching staff, which seems to have gone into a collective swoon. Of course, they're just swooning now to engage my interest. Once the season starts, they will pitch brilliantly. Yes, say it with me. They....will....pitch....brilliantly.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today's post is about the wonder of the Internet. Sure you hear horror stories, but I'm going to share with you the story of an Internet experience that went wonderfully RIGHT.

Gus received a magic kit for Christmas and really enjoyed trying out tricks for us. So I thought for his birthday party, "I'll get a magician!" But of course, being a tiresome parent, I then thought, "who will teach them magic!" (because everything's got to be educational, right??)

Not knowing where to start, I googled "Philadelphia magician teach" and after checking out some not-so-great sites, came to the website of Magician Francis Menotti. He seemed to fit the bill, so I emailed him. He said teaching magic to kids at parties was something he did, we picked a date and that was that.

Well, weeks went by and I started to think, "Huh, it couldn't be that easy, could it?" On Saturday I found out - it was!

Magician Francis Menotti arrived promptly (in the middle of the crazy monsoon), and spent an hour and a half performing and teaching the kids some simple tricks. He told them how he learned tricks using simple items around the house, like rubber bands and crayons. He emphasized the importance of practice. He said that he got interested in magic by taking a book out of the library (obligatory parental swoon here from all the moms in attendance). And most importantly, the kids had a blast. Here they all are:

I cannot recommend Magician Francis Menotti highly enough. 'Nuff said.

Tomorrow, back to baseball and knitting.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hey, Cole, suck it up and pitch already! I feel so sorry for you that you're only making $500,000 in your second full year. And you're 22.


I was flattened by the flu earlier this week and being confined to bed, finished "The Mauritius Command" in two days. I had to ask Dad to bring Book 5 today when he visits, though how I will explain that in my weakened state a book was easier to hold than the pieces of paper of his manuscript I do not know....

Now I will tell you the story of the Blessed Flu-Induced Contact Lens Miracle. Yesterday, since I had rejoined the ranks of the living and was going back to work I decided I would forego my glasses and look nice and put my contacts in. So I'm standing in the bathroom and I put my right contact in and it's kind of blurry. I put my left contact in and realize I can't really see. So I think, Huh, maybe they've lost their structural integrity [as they have not done in the previous 20 years that I've worn contacts??] So I break out a fresh pair. Then I put the right contact in and it's still blurry, so I think, Huh, I must have reversed them somehow... and switch them around. And it's still blurry. So I take them both out. So then I put the right one back in and it's still blurry and I think, Huh, the flu must have drained fluid out of my eyeball so that my contact doesn't fit anymore. [because that's what happens!] I'll have to call the eye doctor! So I take the contact out and look around and realize, Hey I can see really well! The flu must have altered the shape of my eyeball so that now I can see clearly!! And then I look closer in the mirror and realize that I already have a contact lens in my right eye. What? 

The only thing I can figure is that I must have put it in when I got to the bathroom and then immediately forgot I had it in. Whoa..... That's a scary insight into how my mind is working!! (or not working, actually...)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Who's a crazy sock knitter???

Apparently, I am. Mary decided to do a sock-themed window display this month. When all the socks were displayed, we realized that I had knit every one of them, except one (the rainbow-y one with the loopy top).  Now that's CRAZY.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Birthday Boy!
An auspicious date. 
He is eight. 
He is great. 

xxxooo, my Gussie.

'Nuff said.