Sunday, February 26, 2006

Finally finished!

I think I've been working on this sweater since at least September of 2004. That's a long time! This is from Jo Sharp's book Knitting Bazaar and is called Georgia. I never could get the right gauge for this sweater, so I ended up redesigning it to match my gauge. I did email the Jo Sharp folks and they seemed to indicate it was my weird knitting. Only later did I find out that Jo Sharp DK was so popular for a while that they couldn't keep up, so they may have switched mills or they had more than one mill at a time producing it. Hence, my yarn could have been thicker or thinner than the yarn they worked with, and would never have knitted to the appropriate gauge. Honestly, I wonder if anyone else knitted this sweater! Anyhow, it is finished, thanks to the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics. I didn't compete, I wasn't competitive, but I did find it motivating and finished this sweater... finally. I think I'll wear it a lot. The sweater's better than the photo, really! Here it is:

Saturday, February 25, 2006

buggy article

Hey! Today I got written up in the Raleigh News and Observer..Check it out:
Knitter caught a bug, then spread it

Not the most flattering header, true, and they somehow thought I lived in Indiana instead of Kentucky, but otherwise, I am thrilled.

On the crazy February entertaining front, I served a lovely meal last night of butternut squash cream bisque, imam bayildi (roasted eggplant with tomato garlic sauce), salad, goat cheese from Capriole Farm and challah, and apple chocolate chip cake with whipped cream for dessert. I've heard that some people like hearing the menu, so here it is!

On to Knitting:
Alas, I am not a Contender. In fact, I couldn't even have been a contender! I did not formally enter the yarn harlot's Knitting Olympics. However, I've been quietly working alongside of the Olympians, and my Jo Sharp cardigan is nearing the last bend. I'm sewing things together and I hope to block it soon. The Knitting Olympics has helped motivate me to speed up my UFO completion, and I'm grateful. I feel like one of those northernly Canadian sorts who skates fast fast fast on a frozen canal, dreaming of far off glory but only using their skates to commute to work...I'm knitting, fast, but maybe I'm too much of a loner for formal competition right now. Maybe I'll try again--in Vancouver.

Monday, February 20, 2006

chocolate cake, parties, lambs

OK, not quite finished with poetry yet, I know, Valentine's is over, but..I just listened to this recording of Billy Collins reading his poetry and it is fabulous. Laughed loud enough to wake up both dogs. Check it out here if you like buying such things, I personally got it from the library, but I'm considering getting a book of his poetry. It's so worth it. OK, poetry time is over, I promise.

For some reason, we've got a pile of houseguests this month. I'm thrilled to see them all (really) but of course, it requires a lot of preparation and Friday night dinner parties
and things. Yes, I took a photo of the dining room before dinner, I just wanted everyone to see how nice it looked before all the guests came and the dogs started showing off and being disruptive. It did look peaceful and lovely, didn't it? On our couple of February weekends without houseguests, we've either been travelling or trying to rest pitifully at home. Just now we are celebrating the one weekend of rest with snow! snow, hurray, I love it, it is great...even when last weekend, I got to shovel a lot of it on the aforementioned trip to Virginia and it delays the flight home. This weekend, in Kentucky, there has been far less snow but enough so the ground is finally hard. That is good, because the muddy dog pawprints were taking over my life before. Don't worry, I'm not showing you photos of the pawprints, my blog is focused on the all the good things I can share with the universe. :)

So, since this is the holiday that celebrates Presidents' birthdays, I'm sharing my homemade, from scratch, completely vegan pareve chocolate cake, iced with bittersweet Belgian chocolate and coffee icing, decorated with raw sugar and raspberries on top, with you. I made it for the first dinner party of the month, since our guest was just about to turn 30. (the recipe is in the New Joy of Cooking.) I served it with beef kofta, tehina sauce, fattoush, homemade pickles, Mediterranean potato salad and homebaked challah. Ready for the cake? Oooooh Ahhhh.
This is when my husband starts dancing around the kitchen, singing the "Joanne is great, she makes chocolate cake!" song over and over again. He gets good spouse points for this, believe me. No, we're not doing another one this month, dear, but it sure was good, huh?

Finally, because it sounds like I don't do anything else than be a baleboste, (that's a Yiddish word, it means a superb homemaker--go ahead, laugh here, I know you can see the muddy pawprints all the way from over there) here's a sneak peak at a design I am working on. I am hoping to sell my little stuffed animal, Lambie, on my website as my first downloadable pdf pattern. That is, soon, when I get the design edited and we work out the webdesigning kinks. However, I wanted you to see him early. He fits in your palm. He's good for squeezing when you need extra comforting..and his legs are wobbly just like a newborn lamb's. Ahhh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a good poem

Happy Valentine's to all my sweethearts--my husband, my puppies, and all my friends and family. Hugs and kisses to all of y'all, every day of the year, of course... and not just Valentine's Day.

I'm a sucker for a good poem, even if it's a sad one.
Valentine's day is one of the only times each year when a poem is entirely cool and acceptable. When I taught English, I used a game on Valentine's to get adolescents to read all sorts of poems about love. Some poems were about romantic love, sure, but a lot of them were about other kinds of "love"--parental love, lust, and even loss. The poems were all printed in different fonts and cut into sections. Every student got a section. They had to read all the other sections to find the pieces of their poem, read it, and then the students interpreted what it said. I'll never forget when I taught this in an inner-city DC high school. One of my students remembered the poetry day, but the stunning part was that she'd memorized her poem in one class session. She came back later, asking for that "Even as I hold you" poem. I wish no one ever had to feel the way this poem describes, but since we've all had to deal with it, I'm deeply grateful that Alice Walker has given us the words to express and understand it. Here it is, in honor of a motivated student, Valentine's Day, Alice Walker, and poetry in general.

Even as I Hold You
by Alice Walker

Even as I hold you
I think of you as someone gone
far, far away. Your eyes the color
of pennies in a bowl of dark honey
bringing sweet light to someone else
your black hair slipping through my fingers
is the flash of your head going
around a corner
your smile, breaking before me,
the flippant last turn
of a revolving door,
emptying you out, changed,
away from me.

Even as I hold you
I am letting go.

Friday, February 10, 2006

lovin' music

I'm off to D.C. -Falls Church, Virginia, actually- to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday with the whole family. However, I got an email today from NPR-about Valentine's Day...Here's the link. Treat yourself to a few bits of wonderfully sentimental music during winter's longest (but shortest) month. Please. I especially like the Depeche Mode one, "Somebody." A long lost childhood friend and boyfriend gave me a mix tape with that song when we were seniors in high school. We weren't right for each other in the end but Mark, if you're out there somewhere, thanks for that; I was overwhelmingly grateful for your romantic nature.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ouch! Skewered

On the knitting front, I've run out of Romney ram yarn again and I have to spin more to finish the sleeve of my coat. I know, it will be done--someday. This time, I'm going to do at least two skeins so that I'll have a backup and I won't stall out yet again. It takes no time to spin up a bulky skein, it's just the skein washing and drying that causes delay. In the meanwhile, I'm knitting up some sleeves to finish another sweater UFO. I'm treading water here in knitting world, but at least I'm trying not to sink under the weight of all this unfinished stuff!

Here's a story to keep you entertained. I have a very beat-up office chair. However, I'm short and this chair is just right--my feet hit the floor and everything. So it has stuffing coming what. Or at least, that's what I thought until this past weekend. I slid onto the chair. I was wearing canvas pants that slipped along with me...until I felt something cold and sharp. No, my bottom felt something cold and sharp. I decided to move--but I couldn't. Nope.

The metal chair spring popped up through the stuffing, through my pants, through my underwear. Yup.

I was skewered to the seat.

There was no one at home to see my plight. Thank goodness. I managed to detach myself, and then I had to quick sew up the big hole in my seat of my pants before my husband and the houseguest came home. Luckily there was no blood, and I'm, uhh, cushioned, in the place where the metal spring got me. I'll spare you any visual images. While you're laughing, I'll leave you with a picture of Sally. She was laughing too. I'm not taking it personally. Go ahead, laugh...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

karmic stall?

I've been joking with my fibertraditions friends that if I finally finished one of my knitting UFO's, it might karmically tilt the universe. Lord knows we need some karmic tilting right now--the news has gotten me so down lately, and I could only get through the State of the Union by watching a certain lady senator's reactions and knitting, madly! Anyhow, I have been fiber-stalled out, like when your car dies in the middle of an intersection, and this week I decided to push my "fiber car" down the hill until the engine kicked in. It worked. Here are some of the things I've gotten going. I finished some socks. I know, I know, they were not remarkable socks in any way, but I'd been carrying these babies around to doctor's appointments and airports for months now. Perhaps years. Here they are, just off the needles. (note how they are still needle shaped and haven't accomodated themselves to my feet yet!) You'll notice someone else's foot is in the photo too. Harry likes to be a part of things, how could I say no?

Then, I did some spinning. I must say that the lesson here was one I have to learn over and over again. The cost of the fiber does not relate directly to its quality. (This from the queen of free and inexpensive gorgeous fiber...Doh!) This may have been some nice alpaca from the San Juans, and the color was great, but at $6 an ounce, it was way too expensive. Second cuts everywhere and that alpaca had been rolling in dirt like you wouldn't believe before being sheared. For $6 an ounce, they should have blown out his blanket (prime fiber) before shearing and invited a shearer who knows how to please spinners. For $6 an ounce, I'm just saying...

Here's what it looks like, in process. I have no idea if this will be anything in particular, I haven't even plied it yet. It's only 4 oz. Ideas, anyone? Should I ply it with another color alpaca? Go for nice plain black, or pop in some colored ingeo?

Finally, one last comforting story-'cause I think most people need comforting stories in February. It's a tough month! For the first time, I found Sally sleeping in a little dip, in the wool quilt, a nest on our bed. Harry has defended the bed as HIS spot and since Sally's new here (hey, it's only been 3 months), she was too shy to try it out. When I saw this, I had to capture it for you. Isn't this the meaning of snuggling up, at home, in a patch of winter time sunshine? Yeah, I thought so.