Thursday, October 27, 2005

I hope to look more put together than this for the wedding.

Constant readers:

Here, at long last, are a couple of pictures of the Flower Basket Shawl! Modeled with the dress it was knit for, found at Ann Taylor in the spring on super-sale. Specs for the shawl must come later, since I need to put myself to bed so that I can get up at some ungodly hour in the am to drive to Houston for my conference and then fly out tomorrow night for San Diego, for the wedding on Saturday. (Update: Specs have been added as of 11/6/05. See below.) So! Tomorrow will be just a little busier than usual.

Here's a front view:

You like how classy I am, with the tag sticking out the back? That, I promise you, will be cut off in time for the wedding:


Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl, from Interweave Knits Fall 2004
Yarn: Two balls of Karabella Breeze, in Blush (26)
Needles: Boye interchangeables, size 9
Time to knit: About three weeks
Modifications: I knit this pattern as written, except that I used one strand of my yarn, rather than the double strand of laceweight alpaca used by the designer. I thus went up two needle sizes from the recommended size 7. And as all of you reassured me, it worked out just fine.

Thank you all again, for your input, advice, and encouragement on this project. You all rock! Real wedding pix to come after this weekend.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Anticipation, Anticipayaytion Is Making Me Late. It's Keeping Me Waaaaiiiiting....

So, you got Carly Simon in your head now? Good! (Yes, Carly, these are the good old days!) So much anticipation at chez moi today! Voici:

The new sewing machine I've been itching to own for months now! Look at how pretty and pristine the box is! I know I'm a freak, but I'm prolonging the excitement for a just little while longer. Besides who can sew when you've got some blocking to do!


The flower basket shawl is done! Knitting purists, please avert your eyes. Yes, those are bamboo skewers threaded through the eyelets along the top, and thumbtacks pinning the edges in place. This, my friends, is called rasquache blocking. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, rasquache means make-do, from whatever it is that you have on hand. In Caramelo, Lala calls it "homemade half-ass."

I like Amala Mesa-Bains' take on it: "The capacity to hold life together with bits of string, old coffee cans, and broken mirrors in a dazzling gesture of aesthetic bravado is at the heart of rasquachismo."

Ha! Who knew? It's aesthetic bravado, people, not the inability or the good sense to wait to buy blocking wires and rust-free pins.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Austin's First Family

These pictures are kinda old, but I thought y'all might still get a kick out of them.

On October 2, Sheryl Crow gave a FREE concert on Auditorium Shores here in Austin to help Lance Armstrong celebrate his 9th anniversary of his cancer diagnosis. Of course, he's now cancer-free and won his 7th Tour de France this year. Amazing. I know there are differing opinions out there about Lance (some having to do with drugs and performance), but how can you argue with the absolute hard work it must have taken him to win...SEVEN FREAKIN Tours de France!

Anyway, now that he and Sheryl are engaged, they've been talking about making Austin their home, at least part-time. There's even a marquee someone set up on South Congress that says "Sheryl for First Lady" (and probably Lance for President on the other side, but I didn't catch that side on my drive down). So my roomie and I were speculating/fantasizing about catching Sheryl shopping on South Congress or giving little impromptu shows around town. Sigh. Yes, I am a total groupie for Sheryl. She's such a badass...she's what I want to be when I grow up. I will wear an outfit like that to my dissertation defense, yes I will.

Here's Lance introducing her, with the newish Frost Bank tower in the background.

And here she is surrounded by munchkins.

Lance has three kids, and swear to GOD, they were swarming all over the stage. Lance tried to pull them off, until they finally gave up and let them have the run of the place. I guess there were other kids backstage, because they all came out and pretty soon it was Romper Room up there. Don't get me wrong, I love kids and his are pretty damn cute, but all could think of as they dangled their legs over the stage was....someone pull that kid back! they're gonna fall 9 feet! The other thing I couldn't stop thinking was that, if that were ME up there and my MOM was in the wings, she would have yanked me off the stage by the ear and whispered, espera nomas hasta que lleguemos a la casa (just wait until we get home!). Yep, I'd be thinking twice about lifting my new pink dress over my head onstage ever again.

Here's Lance on the drums! He joked that he's just learned how to play, and when Sheryl heard how good he was getting, she refused to speak to him for three hours.

Again, he had several kids hanging off him as he played, so I'm doubly impressed with his drumming skillz.

Plus, here's a little bonus for you out-of-towners:

Austin's own hometown honeyboy, Bob Schneider. Dreamboat looks and a voice like velvet. He used to date Sandra Bullock and had a song on the soundrack for Hope Floats, if any of y'all remember that movie. Sheryl wondered aloud how Bob's not famous yet, and I agree, but if he were, he wouldn't be ours anymore. I'm just a little selfish like that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Marfa Moment

Y'all, it's already been more than a week since my Marfa trip and since my last post. Sometimes grad school can be such a drag! But I'm happy and excited to finally be able to share some moments from my trip.

Here's a row of, what, yucca plants? Century plants? I dunno...big spiny plants lining the railroad that runs right through the center of town.

This is the monument to the fallen horse. The landscape's pretty, too. (And I say this with no irony, folks.)

Mariachis serenaded us on Saturday night, at the dinner given by the Chinati Foundation.

For those of you who may not know, Marfa is a teeny tiny little town in West Texas, pop. 2125, and is home to a bunch of artists and also the Marfa lights. The Chinati Foundation, started by artist Donald Judd in the 1970s to preserve large scale installation art in its original context, hosts an open house weekend every October, and hordes of hipsters from Austin and beyond descend on the town, doubling its population for two to three days. DOUBLING IT. I kid you not. The locals were nice to us, but kept muttering under their breath, humph. be glad when the weekend's over.

Marfa is also the town where the cast of Giant took refuge during filming, in the Hotel El Paisano. Cool, huh? There's literally two major streets, and you can pretty much walk from one end of town to the other. You know you're not in just any little Texas town, though, when you stumble into the Marfa Book Co. and find tables and tables of lush art books, a sun-filled art gallery, and a coffee bar.

And the Marfa Lights? Well, who can say? We drove out there and hung out at the schmancy roadside tourist island they built to accommodate all us gawkers, and yeah, I did see some lights--some red, some white--fading in and out. Were they aliens? Swamp gas? Headlights from cars on the highway? Meh, who cares. Didn't really matter. The lights that really mattered were overhead--the vast, breathtaking display of stars and the Milky Way, shining with a brilliance that you just can't get in the city.

Y'all, the most hilarious thing to come out of the whole weekend was Prada Marfa. Qu'est que c'est Prada Marfa? you may be asking. The best picture I found was here, but you can google it to get more/different pictures. A couple of artists constructed a little building out in the middle of the desert, filled it with Prada merchandise from the fall collection, and sealed it. No one's meant to go in there and buy a handbag, or a pair of stilettos. It's meant to simply decay into the surroundings.

What does it all mean? Is it a critique of modern-day capitalism? A comment on the frivolity of fashion? A blowhard, patronizing art concept from a couple of pretentious art snobs from New York and Germany?

I'll bet you can guess what happened next. Come on, take a guess! Yup, you got it! Not 30 hours had passed after the installation was complete before someone broke into the "store," stole some bags and oddly enough, the right mates to a bunch of shoes, and spray painted the words "dumb" on one side and "dum dum" on the other side. !!!!!

In spite of having stated before the incident, "As we purposefully will not preserve Prada Marfa, it will eventually become a ruin so that even in a future decayed state it will remain relevant to the time in which it was made..." the artists immediately went about restoring the installation, cleaning up the graffiti, replacing the stolen merchandise, installing motion sensors, and hiring a security guard to watch the place during opening weekend.

Clearly, there's decay, and then there's decay. Yes, it's quite precious to imagine that the wind and dust will eventually cut away at the structure, but easy enough to forget that human beings are a part of the world. Yes, I understand that we're meant to stand with our heads bowed and ponder the meaninglessness of our existence in comparison to the forces of nature. But we are here, now. We are a part of "nature." And we do cause wear and tear that is perhaps not artful but nevertheless does produce meaning.

And the meaning here is clear: someone in Marfa did not like this piece of art. Read the last two paragraphs of this to get a sense of the condescension that the townspeople most likely had had enough of, and maybe the graffiti will make more sense.

As for me, I read the idea of having a Prada Marfa as, oh, wouldn't it be so funny and too too clever to put a high fashion boutique where you would least expect it, in the middle of West Texas, where most people have never even heard of Prada and perhaps have never even picked up a copy of Vogue? Isn't the absurdity brilliant? Give me a break.

Anyway, another of the highlights of the weekend was a free concert by...drumroll please....YO LA TENGO!!!!

The inspiration for my blog's wordplay! They were pretty cool. I have to confess that I'm not exceedingly familiar with the music (I just like the name), but I really enjoyed myself. In spite of not being able to get a good picture.

Oh, yeah, and the knitting! You'd think that during a sixteen hour round trip car ride (8 each way), I'd be done with maybe two shawls and a pair of socks. Well, no, not me...on the way there, I would knit in short spurts and then get very, very sleepy. On the way back, I really made progress (maybe it's front seat vs. back seat?) and listened to the entire Da Vinci Code audiobook. Good story, but the poor schmuck reading it had to do all kinds of different accents, including a high pitched French one for one of the main characters, Sophie. I never realized how amusing an audiobook mystery could be!

By the way, I really want to thank all the people who left kind words of advice and encouragement on this shawl project. After two years of knitting, I don't know why I'm paralyzed by simple deviations from patterns or from yarn weights. I cling to my patterns like a drowning rat to driftwood. As Nancy so wisely said, the only rule in knitting is yarn over needles. Hurray! How liberating!

I think the chosen project, the Flowerbasket Shawl, is progressing quite nicely:

If it doesn't catch fire up there on top of that lamp, then chances are it will be done very soon. Just another couple rows of the final repeat, and then the edging, and then done! Way ahead of schedule, I might add (the wedding I'm attending isn't until the end of next week). Never mind that the paper I have to present next Friday needs some heavy editing. I'll have my shawl!

If I were a poet, I would write "An Ode to Lace." I love lace, and have always knit lace, without really realizing it. One of my first projects was a baby blanket I picked out of one of those pattern books you buy at Michael's, and the pattern said, a quick and easy knit. Right. With baby yarn, it was definitely not quick, but it got me comfortable with the yo's and the k2tog. Then, guess what? The only socks I have been able to finish...were lace cuff socks. (One of these days I'll post an album of FOs. Probably right when I get started writing the dissertation.) Then I made the Viennese Shrug from Interweave Knits Summer 05. Wow. It was painting with yarn. So cool! So while I may never be a sockster, I finally realized that I have my thing!

In other blogging news, Laura's tagged me with the Flash Your Stash meme. Eeew. I don't care about the exhibitionist nature of this meme (I have been known to flash other things, inadvertently, in the past), but this means that I have to find a clean space in my house to do the photo shoot. And there is no clean space in my house right now. Which means that I have to clean.

Yeah. Might be a while.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I hate to bug you again, but...

First off, I want to send a shout-out to all my knitting and non-knitting homies who weighed in on the San Diego cover-up options. I believe that, although all the options seemed attractive, most felt that either the Spiderweb capelet or the Flower basket shawl would be cutest and/or fastest to knit. Oooh, great, I thought. Maybe I'll knit both!

And when I figured that the cost of the yarn wouldn't be prohibitively expensive (one ball of Merino Frappe for the capelet, and two balls of Misti Alpaca for the Flower Basket shawl, all together run about $20, give or take some pennies), I thought, hell, why not buy the yarn for both, and see how far you get?

Ha. Easier said than done, yeah? I went to my first LYS, which has got the best architectural charm in the world (it's in an adorable house and is super cozy and homey), but no Merino Frappe. All they had was a sad little basket of random balls of Misti Alpaca. And since I needed two balls, I couldn't get the lone pink ball in there. They did have some other laceweight yarn, silk and alpaca, I think, but it was about $20 for a single skein and although I probably could have made two balls out of it to carry together for the Flower Basket, I decided to go to the other LYS, which is not so L(ocal), and check out what they had.

So I hopped on I35 (there are about 3 different ways to get there, none of them good) just before rush hour. Not my preferred time for traveling on I35, aka the Highway of Death, but I wanted to make it before they closed at 6. Once I got to Parmer Lane, I got off there and zipped up the rest of the way. Zip being a relative term.

Those of you who live in the burbs, this may not be so unusual to you. But I'm a little ole city girl, and I am SO not used to doing 60 mph on a street. Which is what Parmer technically is, but really is more like a highway approximating the Highway of Death mentioned earlier. Complete with nutty drivers who believe they are trying out for the Indy 500. Also, someone tell me why it's so hard to get back on the right track after being in the wrong lane and being forced to make a left when all you wanted to do was keep going straight???? (No wonder there weren't any cars in that lane.)

Anyway, I got to the other not so LYS, and they have tons and tons of lovely yarn, Misti Alpaca and definitely no Merino Frappe! I really wanted this project to take with me a road trip this weekend (8 hours to Marfa! Woo hoo! So much knitting time!), so in desperation, I bought this for the Flower Basket Shawl:

Which, don't get me wrong, is a beautiful yarn. Karabella Breeze. Cashmere and silk, yum. And the color is absolutely exquisite--it's a dusty champagne pink color that I think will go perfectly with the dress. But, duh, it's the wrong weight.

I knew this, too. The Flower Basket shawl calls for doubling up laceweight alpaca. But I thought, hmmm, doubling up laceweight would equal this yarn, more or less. Except it doesn't. The label calls for size 4 needles. And the pattern calls for 16 sts to 4" in stockinette. OK, so I start swatching on size 7 needles. Nope. I'm getting 5 sts to the inch, not 4. I go up to size 8. Still, nope. All righty, then (anyone watch Sex and the City last night on TBS?). Feeling panicked and wondering if I should make a mad dash up the Highway of Death again (and calculating that it would cost me about $5 in gas to get there and back and is it worth it?) I grab my size 9s. Weeellll....I'm making about 4 and a half now.

OK, so is this so bad? It's a shawl, after all, and gauge doesn't have to be so important. Not doubling the yarn will also make it less substantial, too, I guess. I feel sorta ridiculous knitting lace on size 9 needles, unless one of you all wants to tell me that it's OK.

Is it, oh knitting gurus? I don't want to end up with weird distorted munchkin lace, kind of like my munchkin cables.

Sorry, didn't mean to scare ya! Kinda scared myself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

You are Shetland Wool.
You are Shetland Wool.
You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a
little on the harsh side. Though you look
delicate you are tough as nails and prone to
intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are
widely respected and even revered.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm sorry, y'all. I just can't resist these quizzes!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Your Opinion Urgently Needed!

I am facing a knitting dilemma. I'm going to a wedding in San Diego in about a month, and I plan to wear this:

It doesn't look like much on the hanger, but it's real pretty on. It's got gold thread in the lace, and the lining is taupe.

I've never been to San Diego, but I imagine that I will need a wrap, because it is by the ocean. And of course, I have decided, a mere 27 days before the date, that I want to knit one.

I know that 27 days sounds like plenty to many of you all, but I knit at a glacier's pace, in addition of having the bother of going to class and working and all that stuff. So, I know I must be certifiable to want to do this, but I need to ask your opinion on several different options.

I want something airy, yet warm. I have some Plymouth Outback Mohair on hand, but am willing to buy yarn to suit the project. Most importantly, I looked for patterns that didn't seem too time consuming. I came up with the following:

Spiderweb Capelet from Stitch and Bitch Nation

Flower Basket Shawl from IK Fall 2004

Lacy Kerchief Scarf from IK Summer 2005

Clapotis from Knitty (you all know what the Clap looks like; I must be the only person in the knitting universe who hasn't made one)

Variation on a Frill from Knitty

Opera Scarf from Blue Sky Alpaca (I would knit this a little wider to make a stole)

There's also another project in the Summer 2005 IK, which is sort of a moebius cowl/capelet. I didn't take a picture, but it's a loose, airy fisherman's rib knit made of mohair (and I can use the Plymouth Mohair for this, bonus.)

Basically, the questions to consider when weighing these matter-of-life-or-death choices are these:

Can I finish it in time?
If I make a lace wrap, will it clash with the lace of the dress?
Should I stop hitting the crack pipe and hie on over to Nordstrom to get something nice and, um, finished?

I would love y'all's opinion on this. Have any of you made any of these pieces? Do you have an E.T.A. for me? Be careful with your could mean a month's worth of knitting time that would otherwise be spent on other projects. Like making a poncho for a certain niece. Do I dare allow my little girl to brave the blustery weather of L.A. for just a while longer, while I whip up this little project for my selfish self?