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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

back to reality

I'm not going to pretend my vacation was perfect. Let's just say there was a fight, and it was with a relative, and it was over an old sewing machine that wouldn't fit in my car. But who among us *hasn't* had that argument with a relative? I mean really.

But the good news is that my cousin won a trip to a dude ranch in Montana off the back of a carton of Marlboros! (And no, I'm not making that up!)

On Saturday, mom and I went to the "Summer in the City" festivities in downtown Greensburg. As far as I can ascertain, "Summer in the City" involves little more than kids drawing on the street with chalk, a few folks playing chess al fresco and the sporting goods store moving a rack of dusty, 12-year-old polo shirts onto the sidewalk. I had higher hopes for the affair, but it was thoroughly disappointing. I got excited when I saw this man and assumed he was involved:

But apparently he was walking down Main Street wearing a snake on a totally unrelated matter.

Mom and I made up for our disappointment by ordering a fattening appetizer at the Baggy Knee cafe. Isn't she the prettiest?

I also spent an inordinate amount of time with my cousin's wonderful five-year-old triplets, Olivia, Nolan and Brennan. They're so much fun and so delightful, but naturally two-thirds of them were injured in my care. (Nolan slammed his head on the concrete floor and got a bloody nose, while Brennan bit his lip until it bled.) Nolan, the blond boy, is big on giving people quarters for the gumball machine. He gave my mom one, then gave me four. When I asked why I got extra, he said, "Because you live in New York." Even a child knows that this place is too dern expensive. Here we are after a little hockey match, during which no one was hurt:

There was much shopping and much napping and much eating. We also exchanged some presents. Here is the Phildar rivage yarn that my mom purchased in a village near Normandy. I dunno what I'll do with it yet. Any ideas? And doesn't it look radiant in this overexposed shot?

I am so, so close to finishing the Aflutter top designed by Keridiana, and I'm even closer to wrapping up the cabled Interweave shrug, which by the way does NOT look like a thong! I am so excited to wrap up both that I can't muster the energy to work on either. So very sad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

homeward bound

This is my childhood home in Greensburg, Pa., about 40 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. And this is where I'm headed bright and early tomorrow for a relaxing trip home. It's like a little resort for me, an escape from my whacky life in New York. I love that there's central AC in the summer and plenty of heat in the winter. I love that the bathrooms all have fragrant soaps and thick, thirsty towels to dry off with. I love that my parents always stock four different kinds of cheese and at least as many types of pretzels. I even love the sound of my parent's front door opening -- the jingle of keys, the loud thunk of the latch unlocking, and the creak of the door pushing open.

I just can't wait to see them.

(And I'm told there's a skein of yarn from France waiting for me!)

P.S. Aren't the bushes out front shaped a little like Grimace?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hits the spot

Now, this is going to sound a little odd to those of you who don't have the unique pleasure of parking a car in New York City. And maybe it will still sound odd to those of you who do. But I have a sworn parking enemy -- my car's doppelganger.

This evil twin is an aging, lapis blue Neon, much like my eight-year-old car. It's similarly outdated, a vehicle that harkens back to the glory days of the mid-nineties. Its driver, like me, probably doesn't care a stitch about status, only using the car to get to and fro.

A better person might think it's cute that its car has a twin, probably driven by someone in the same building. (A saner person might not have noticed.) But day after day, no matter what, that stinking car has a better parking space than me.

To be honest, the doppelganger haunts me. After a long day, I often find myself parking next to this ugly, corrugated metal fence a four long blocks away from my apartment. It's simply insulting, after a long day of work, to trudge home and have the twin Neon sitting smugly a few yards from my doorway. The nerve of that car!

I've never seen its driver, though I have a lot of theories about her -- and it HAS to be a her. I imagine she is unemployed, which explains how she can just spend her days circling the neighborhood until a spot opens up in front of our building. She can't be independently wealthy, or else she'd have a better ride. But maybe she's simply a cheapskate, spending her inheritance on lavish vacations or some sort of noble charity endeavour.

And sadly, she probably doesn't even know my car exists -- since she's never had to walk by it to get home. That's just totally insulting.

But this afternoon, I tasted victory for the very first time. I came home from running errands, pulled down my block and saw a spot directly in front of my door. This has NEVER happened.

And what made this better was that my evil doppelganger was down the block! I took photos to memorialize the moment. Not sure what people thought when I was shooting pix of these cars. And I couldn't exactly say, "Oh, don't mind me. I'm just documenting the fact that I got a better spot than my car's doppelganger."

Here is the evil twin, with my door in the background:

And here is my car! Triumph!

Lest you worry I've gone even further off the deep end, I am also doing a little crocheting. I'm working on a cute pattern from Keridiana's new website. It's super 70s inspired and perfect for mint acrylic yarn, in my humble opinion. Here it is so far:

Also, I just learned of the wonders of podcasts, particularly
Knitcasts! Basically, these are interviews with knit designers, bloggers and other craft celebrities that can be download for enjoyment on an iPod. (Please excuse my pedestrian explanation). My first Knitcast was with Stefanie from Glampyre. A careful (or crazy) reader will see the meta irony in this -- a few posts back, I showed one of Stefanie's creations -- the ever-popular one-skein wonder -- hugging my ipod mini. How's that for full circle?

Monday, July 11, 2005

the cute little doll with the strawberry smell

My mother, ever wise, insists that when you shop, you simply cannot go in search of a specific article. Need a new black cardigan? You'll never find it. Want a pair of strappy silver sandals? You'll only see gold. Desperate for a pair of low-rise, dark denim, boot cut, petite, size 5 jeans? Dream on.

Generally, she's right. I can't even begin to calculate the hours that she and I have spent in search of black wool coats, bathing suits, back-to-school shoes and, rather recently, the jeans described above. Thank goodness we consider mall-time our quality time.

But there was one glorious day three years ago when I had the oddest of requests in my mind and, miraculously, found it. I was reminded of this treasure hunt by a post on Skylar's adorable blog.

I had recently quit my job as a reporter in New Haven, CT, a rather traumatic experience. Though I wouldn't dare to admit it, I dreamt of being a reporter in New York -- and the only way that was ever going to happen was a leap of faith. So I quit my perfectly fine job, enrolled in grad school down here, and started plotting my move to the big city.

That summer, though, I remained in CT, doing a little freelance writing and working at a fabric store. This was a humbling experience for numerous reasons. What was I thinking, working odd hours for near minimum wage? I'd wanted to be a reporter since fifth grade, and here I was cutting gingham and calicos for someone else's quilts.

Looking back, this was when I threw myself head on into crafts, trying new things and really challenging myself. I found that I didn't need a byline to feel rewarded, I didn't need a business card to feel worthwhile. Teaching myself to knit, learning to insert a zipper and finishing a cute halter top each gave me an entirely different sense of accomplishment.

Anyway, I saw some Strawberry Shortcake sheets selling on ebay for some exorbitant amount that summer and thought, "Wouldn't it be cool find this for $3 at Goodwill?"

So I drove to the Goodwill in Milford, walked straight back to the moth-ball smelling linen section, and don't you know they were sitting right there? Honestly, I got a little weak in the knees. I whipped this up in a few days -- bet it's not quite what Simplicity had in mind. (As always, these fantastic photos were taken in my bathroom!)

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Here's a close-up of the sheet's pattern:

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Enough of that trip down memory lane. I have decided that I need to give you all an update on the Interweave shrug. It was brought to my attention after my previous post about the shrug that the pictures made it look like, well, a thong. (Is this why nobody commented on that post?) Let me assure you -- I am far too busy (and classy!) to make wool thongs with cables on them. I'm nuts, but not that nuts.

I added my reporter's notebook for the sake of SCALE. See, these are clearly sleeves!

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And here is a close-up of my notebook. These quotes are from an article about two pipe bombs found on a beach. Yes, I know that my handwriting is an abomination. But at least I know that no prosecutor would bother to subpeona them!

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

a bunny, a baby blanket and a bear

It was love at first sight. One glance at this adorable pattern, and I knew I simply had to make a bunny for my friend Laura, who is expecting a little girl. Her shower is Wednesday morning, so I scurried to finish up this little fellow. I'm not gonna lie to you -- I'm not so great with the double pointed needles. That's why he looks a tad lumpy.

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This is the piece de resistance -- the pom pom tail. I also made him a little purple scarf.

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I also whipped up a crocheted baby blanket. It's a drastic variation of Beth's Little Star Afghan via High Energy Knits. I adore the original pattern, and I'm whipping one up for another friend who is expecting. But I decided to mix it up a bit for this blanket, which is also for my friend Laura. She already has a little one and once mentioned that she has more than enough traditional baby garb and gear, so I thought something a little funkier might be in order. I can't remember the name of this yarn -- it feels like terry cloth, just kinda spongy and soft. So I used a larger hook than called for, and I added a stripe of Patons Divine just to break up the monotony. Whaddya think?

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Jonathan and I both desperately needed a restful holiday weekend. As I said to my editor Saturday night, I am always amazed that the news just NEVER STOPS. Every day, there's more and more. In a matter of a half hour Saturday, we learned:
1. There were arrests in the murder of two New York men in St. Thomas;
2. The child killed in a car accident on Long Island had been a flower girl in her aunt's wedding early that day;
3. Jerry Seinfeld's ex-girlfriend's house in the Hamptons exploded. (I'm not kidding.)
4. A boy in Brooklyn was killed for his iPod.

So, we had kind of a busy night. The next day, my brother came to the city to visit several amusement parks. He's a roller coaster enthusiast, and he literally travels the world riding coasters. It's an interesting hobby, but I just don't have the stomach for it. We went to Rye Playland on Sunday, and Jonathan and I didn't ride anything too nauseau enducing. (Though he did give me whiplash on the bumper cars!) He also won me this adorable Care Bear!

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It's Champ Bear. Whatever happened to Grumpy? Is he no longer PC?