Monday, May 29, 2006

You like me! You really like me!

I went home last weekend for my friend Sarah's bridal shower. While I was there, I found a Valentine's Day card I made for my parents in the second grade. My mom actually dug it out and set it aside for me so that I could see it on my visit. (And I wonder where I get my pack-rat tendencies.)

The cupids aren't freehand, alas. But look at that spelling! Not a single mistake.

The penmanship's not bad either, eh? I'll bet it's better than that of a lot of 30 year olds who've just been through med school.

The photo's a little hard to see, so this is what it says:

Dear Mom and Dad:

I like you very much. I like you because you are very sweet, you are nice, and you like me. Thanks (sic) you very much. Happy Valentine's Day!

From [insert picture here]

Yeah, my parents liked me OK. They hardly ever forgot to pick me up after school. But! Just in case they couldn't remember who Olga was, I included this little visual reminder:


Looking at this card, I was also reminded of how much I hated the second grade. I pretty much woke up every morning for eight years of grade school with dread in the pit of my stomach, but I remember second grade being particularly awful.

Ms. Pokorna was my teacher. Ms. Pokorna, whose fame as a scary disciplinarian you learned about the minute you entered kindergarten. She was a bohemian artist with a Polish accent and colorful scarves wrapped around her curly hair, and under any other circumstances, I'm sure she was a lovely person.

As her second grader, however, all you knew or really needed to care about was that she did not hesitate to spank. For all of us, this was a serious proposition, but for the girls, it involved lifting our plaid Catholic school uniform skirts for an extra dollop of humiliation. Even though I was the mousiest, shyest little 8 year old you might ever run across, the least likely to even drop a crayon by mistake, I spent nine months in abject fear of landing on her bad side.

Not much knitting news this week, except that everything I've been working on has been frogged, some of it never to return. In short:

* Trellis stole: frogged because it had just a few too many mistakes. I chalked it up to practice for the Amazing Lace, and started over.

* Jennifer's shrug: frogged because when I took it off the needles to fix a mistake, I realized that it was so enormous that she could wrap it around her body twice and wear it as a straitjacket. And y'all, Jennifer doesn't need one. Her medication works just fine, when she remembers to take it. (Kidding!)

* Vogue Knitting bikini: frogged because although I liked the concept of knitting a bikini, and thought it looked cute in the magazine, I just couldn't handle the crazy decreases on both sides of the cup. Decrease two stitches every third and fifth row twice and then six times while AT THE SAME TIME bind off on the other side every time your nose itches. Repeat until thoroughly confused, frustrated, and angry.

Bah. I can get a cute bikini at Target and turn this perfectly good yarn into a baby sweater.

I made a new friend while at home:

Isn't he a ham? This was right before he almost pecked my eye out. His name is Chirpy, but when I asked my mom what his name was, I thought she said Sharpie, so that's what I'm calling him. I think it'd be cool to name a pet after a permanent marker. Especially now that they're available in all those fun colors!

Hopefully I'll have my first Amazing Lace entry for next time (the deadline is June 4!)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday fun.

Spell your name (or anything else) with Flickr:

O L G 004 A

Like a little sister, I copied from my roommate, Jennifer. You can generate your own here.

Real post to come soon, I swear.

Monday, May 15, 2006


In every knitter's life, there must come a letter like this:

Dear Madli:

I can't do this anymore. It hasn't been easy for me to come to this decision, but I think it's for the best.

I know it's been a whirlwind affair...really, it's lasted only less than two weeks, but what a crazy two weeks it's been. You have to understand, I really was infatuated with you in the beginning. You were so beautiful, in the Interweave Knits photograph, that I pretty much fell in love at first sight. And then your yarn requirements...ah. Perfect. I had just enough Helen's Lace to knit you. It felt like destiny.

But then I tried to cast on. The problems began quietly, almost insignificantly. It took a few tries to estimate the amount of yarn to double, in order to cast on, but I hung in there, figuring you were worth it. Then I started to knit. The first time, I ended up with extra stitches at the end. The second time...yeah, you got it. Extra stitches.

I thought it was me. I figured that I couldn't count, that I couldn't follow a had to be my fault. I found out that other bloggers had successful relationships with you in the past. What was wrong with me? Wasn't I a good lace knitter?

The more I struggled, the more my self-esteem plummeted...but then I remembered all the other lace things I'd made. A baby blanket. The Viennese Shrug for my sister. The Flower Basket Shawl. Orangina. You know what, Madli? I AM a lace knitter. I'm pretty good at it too.

And you know what else? This isn't the only lace game in town. Madli, I'm sorry, but there are LOTS of other lace projects that I could be knitting right now. They're just as pretty, and won't give me the grief and heartache that you have.

So, that's it. I'm saying goodbye. And you know what else? I never liked your nupps* anyway.



* I believe "nupps" is the Estonian word for bobbles, which I'm sure would have made me cry if I'd ever gotten far enough to try and knit them.

Whew. It's never easy to be in an abusive relationship and get to that point where you decide that enough is enough, but I'd had enough last Thursday. After successfuly knitting the first row, I continued to have problems in the third and fifth, and tried to fudge it by knitting the extra stitches at the end, which just looked weird (especially since you're supposed to slip the end stitches for a nice edge). I dropped Madli in the middle of purling back a row, and called it a night.

It was true, there were a lot of other lace projects that were strong contenders for my prized Helen's Lace (40% off at Purl, so I'd never have this yarn otherwise...whatever I make from it has GOT to be good). I narrowed it down to the Icarus Shawl from the new IK, Eunny's Print O' The Wave Stole, and the Trellis Scarf from the Spring IK, lengthened and widened to make a stole. I nixed the Icarus Shawl, because I just think I'll get more use out of a stole. And then I nixed the Print O'The Wave, at least just temporarily, because that seam at the back just makes me nuts, the way I'm sure having the waves not flow identically down the front probably made Eunny nuts. If I do knit this (and I have Knitpicks lace yarn, thanks Ashley!), it will be in one direction. That shouldn't be a problem, right?

So I started test knitting the Trellis, casting on 115 stitches. Relief washed over me as I knit one, then three, then five rows. All without incident! Hurrah!

Truth be told, I don't *really* know what the problem was for me with Madli. I googled and came across another blogger who was doing her yarnovers wrong at first, and once she figured this out, her problem was solved. My yarnovers, though, as well as I can figure, were OK. I counted the stitches in the chart and it just seemed that in each successive knit row, the repeats at either end either required more stitches than the previous row yielded, or less.

Oh, well. I'm not la Grumpy, so I'm not going to take it as my personal mission to solve this mystery. Basta. Life is too short.

And now, for something completely different!

I think I'm going to knit that bikini, y'all. Yes, the one in the spring Vogue Knitting. I know, I know you all think it's crazy, that knitted swimwear should never see the light of day, that perfectly innocent little cotton bolls shouldn't have to die for the sake of a misbegotten, frivolous piece of knitting.

In theory, I agree. But I'm itching to try something a little different, something other than a tank top, with the Classic Elite Star that I have, and I only have 4 skeins of it. Not enough for a sweater, but more than enough for the bikini. Think of it as an experiment. Testing the pattern, if you will. Deciding once and for all, whether it is possible for a knitted bikini to succeed in the real world (without special lighting and airbrushing, etc.).

Think of it as free entertainment for you all.

I also found this beautiful skirt at a yard sale over the weekend.

See the embroidered panel with the bird? I think that was hand-stitched. The label on the inside of the waistband, which looks like it was made in the 1960s, says it was made "Para Barbara," and that it was "hecho en Mexico," listing both Brownsville and Matamoros on there. It really demonstrates visually, for me, how the border is such an artificial construct, especially in a place like Brownsville and Matamoros, where the same culture belongs to both places.

The skirt is way too long for me, but I can see endless possibilities for it. (I felt like I was channelling Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink as I examined the seams, and held it up to myself in front of the mirror.) I could cut out the panels and make a tote bag. I could shorten it and wear it as a skirt. I could make a pillow (or pillows) out of it (which is my least favorite option, because no one would get to see them that way!).

What do you guys think? Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hail Madli, full of lace.

I was just commenting to Laura yesterday that the process of knitting lace could almost be like praying the rosary. In other words, the aspect of repetition gets you into a meditative state, and as you tick off the yo's, or rosary beads, your mind transcends the process and you open yourself up to inspiration.

But then I started knitting Madli's Shawl, from Interweave Knits Summer 04.

Holy crap. I cannot get beyond the first row.

Let alone the fact that the cast-on has caused me more grief than a roomful of kindergarteners on the last day of school. You're supposed to double the yarn as you cast on, and y'all, it looks like I am seriously impaired in judging the length I need to double. Rip rip rip.'s knotted a couple of times so that I had to rip away the tangled mess. It broke my little ghetto knitter's heart.

Then I learned that I had to do a knitted cast on, instead of the longtail cast on I am used to doing. Rip.

Finally, last night, I cast on satisfactorily (I erred in doubling the length again, but at this point I didn't give a flying f*^&%$, I just wanted to start knitting). And then I ended up with four extra stitches at the end. Rip.

I counted my next cast on, and recounted. Counted the stitches in the chart, and they add up to 101, the required number of stitches to cast on.

Knit the first row again. Two stitches at the end.

Praying the rosary? I don't think it involves swearing like a sailor.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Most Excellent Day.

Even if I had thought about it in advance, if I had sat and meditated and lit velitas and speculated and read my astrological chart, I never, ever, in a million years could have predicted or imagined that on this day, all the yarny forces in the universe would converge to smile down on me.

I knew, of course, that I would have a bona fide finished object to show you all. I give you....(drumroll)....Picovoli/Lucky Stripe!


Pattern: Picovoli, by Grumperina for MagKnits
Yarn: Marissa by Adrienne Vittadini, in 708 and 709
Needles: Boye interchangeables, size 4

I'm rechristening the sweater Lucky Stripe, because I decided I couldn't be bothered with plotting out a stripe pattern and I couldn't be trusted with picking random numbers on my own, so I rolled dice every time I had to make a color change. I didn't make any pattern modifications, except for knitting the bottom about an inch longer than the pattern called for.

I guess it came out rather...snug. Which is OK, because the pattern cautions that it's meant to be close-fitting, and so, counting for negative ease and the tendency of cotton to stretch (with which I've had first hand, disastrous results....but my mom got a pretty tank top!) I made the size 32. Although I do like the fit, I kinda don't plan on wearing this on my nights out for Tex-Mex or barbeque, if you know what I mean (I got my baby doll tops specially for those occasions!).

Y'all, you know I work at a snail's pace, because it took me forever and then some to finish this simple, simple knit. Sure, school gets in the way, and then there are Sockapaloooza deadlines to heed, but also? How about not knowing how to make a proper M1? For the waist increases, that's what you do, and so I was plugging along, and ending up with these...holes.

I almost, ALMOST decided to call them eyelets and call it a day, but I noticed that no other bloggers were getting these holes and not wanting to be the only kid on the block with a screwed-up Picovoli, I went back and researched on how to make a proper M1. Let's just say that Stitch and Bitch came to the rescue again with Debbie's nice, elaborate explanations and clear illustrations. Turned out I wasn't knitting through the back loop. But I'll bet you already guessed that. I ripped out the bottom and knit it again, and finally finished Tuesday night while watching old silent movies.

So, here I was, going about my day and planning on wearing Lucky Stripe so that I could take pictures, when I got an email from Karen letting me know that I'd won her contest! Dude, remind me to wear that sweater next time I buy a lottery ticket.

She'd bought some pretty yarn at a fiber festival and hinted that the name of the colorway was the same as Sweet Pea's (her amazing husband...if you read her blog, you know that this man buys her knitting-related presents for holidays and birthdays. Clearly a keeper!). If you guessed the colorway, you'd be entered in a drawing. Well, I guessed Sandy, which was wrong (his name is Pete, and the color's called Peat), but Karen's such a sweetheart she entered me anyway. She's sending me a skein of Steadfast Fibers Wonderful Wool in Boysenberry, which she says is "lovely purple shades." Perfect colors for me--I love anything in the pink, red, and purple family.

And then, what do you suppose shows up on my doorstep? That's Sockapaloooza socks! Hot damn! I was sitting here reading for class when I heard the postman downstairs, and I decided to go have a look, even though I thought...nah. It's way too early. But sure enough, there it was, and I grabbed it and raced upstairs to open it.

If I'd been less greedy, I'd have pictures to show you of the pretty wrapping paper Gina used. Right. Soooo, let me just tell you--the paper was pink, and the ribbon had a quote from Andy Warhol: "The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting." Nice touch, Gina!

And the socks. Sigh. They're just so....well, here. See for yourself.

They fit perfectly. And the colors...purples, reds, and pinks! The pattern is Crusoe, from Knitty, and the yarn, Koigu KPPM. I don't know if you can tell, but the pattern is stranded, which showcases the yarn to perfection.

I was so excited (wait, did I mention that already?), that I put them on with these strappy heels I have (because Gina wrote, "I think these would be smashing with heels!") so that I could snap a picture with my camera phone and send her an email right away.

The colors in the first picture are more true, but I'm totally digging this look! I SO did not want to take them off, but since it was in the high 80s today, I didn't want to muck up my new socks.

Finally, and although this happened last night, it was still part of the most excellent day if you think of it as a 24 hour own sweet boy took me to Uchi, a super schmancy restaurant that does Japanese fusion cuisine. Overwhelmed by the choices on the menu, we opted for the tasting menu, and let the chef (nationally recognized Tyson Cole) send over his top picks.

I don't think I can be relied upon to remember all of the dishes we had (although I do remember the Casalnova Prosecco and the Rosenblum zinfandel I happily swilled), but the highlights included a red snapper carpaccio with lemon-infused olive oil, scallops with pork belly (tastier than it sounds, my friends), and duck foie gras on some kind of bread with little kumquats filled with ice cream. Oh, and these little guys:

Yah. Just close your eyes and put them in your mouth, and chew, said the boy. I screwed up my face and my courage, did as he said, and chewed. And chewed and chewed. Chewed chewed chewed. Took a lot of chewing to get those shells to the point where I wanted to swallow them.

You gotta know, kids, that I'll eat just about everything. But this? Ew...bring back the raw fish, please.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I won't let you down/I will not give you up/Gotta have some faith in the sound/It's the one good thing that I've GOT

(I'm starting to think that every blog post should have a theme song. Don't you?)

Ah, freedom! Even though the semester's not quite over, the end is so close that I can almost taste it. I came home tonight from having dinner with friends, and even though I have some reading to do for my final class this week, I dropped my bags on the floor, grabbed my laptop, and sighed happily. I'm going to blog tonight!

And freedom from sock knitting on a deadline! Whew! I felt the collective sigh from all you sockapalooozers just now! I finally shipped my socks today, and imagined hundreds of knitters all over the country (nay, the globe!) heading into their post offices simultaneously with their little bundles.

As silly as it sounds, I felt connected to something that was larger than myself. (Of course, I could have gotten that on Monday, marching for immigration rights, but since I was home waiting for the UPS man, I gotta take my transcendent moments wherever I can get them.)

I had to fill out a customs declaration, because my sockpal is in the U.K. The clerk asked, what's the value of your package? I stood for a moment, thinking, how do I explain the value of hours spent deciding on yarn and a pattern, then worrying about the fit, and the time spent knitting the socks? Should I say, "priceless," and risk a sneer of outright hostility from the beleaguered postal clerk? I decided on declaring the price of the yarn, and left it at that.

Here's my Rib & Cables, posing on the University of Texas campus, before embarking on their journey:

Yep, folks, there in the distance is the University of Texas clock tower, from which Charles Whitman conducted his infamous shooting spree in 1966. What a little notoriety won't do to enhance a school's reputation, eh?

Anyway, so back to the topic at hand--freedom! Freedom to knit....anything but socks! What to knit, what to knit...the possibilities stretch out like glittering racks of goodies at Shoe Pavilion.

Lured by Laura's and Lolly's glowing reviews of Knitting Nature, I took my latest Border's coupon to the Arboretum over the weekend. I did my usual dance of desire with the book of the moment--I picked it up, stroked the pages, put it down, walked away, looked longingly over my shoulder, strode back....ah, you all know how it goes.

Ultimately, I couldn't justify the purchase, seeing as how I have multiple books/magazines/projects already at home, but good GOD! Those are just some of the most stunning patterns I've seen in a long time. They fit right in with my knitting philosophy, you know...if you're going to knit something, it may as well be beautiful and unique. Why put time and effort into knitting something that could have come from JCPenney's?

So, putting Knitting Nature on the back burner, I'm thinking that I want to knit a stole with the Helen's Laces I scored at Purl in NY over spring break, and I'm thinking I want to make Madli's Shawl, from one of my old Interweave Knits (I can't remember the issue, but will post it if I end up casting on for this). A beautiful shawl with yummy yarn--timeless, compelling to knit--what could be better?

By the way, I haven't really read any opinions on the new Vogue Knits...any of you have it out there? I finally caved and bought it because of the sweet tank tops, but I am also beginning to love the skirt on the cover:

I even had a delusionary moment when I saw this:

I generally have a strict rule against knitted swimwear (based, mostly, on my instinctive gag reflex), but I actually HAVE THE YARN TO KNIT THIS. Classic Elite Star, my friends. Someone, please come over here and slap me back to my senses.