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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The people have spoken

So there will be more pix of my completed clapotis! (The fact that the knit blog public has an insatiable thirst for clapotis pictures really speaks to this pattern's staying power.)

I simply could not remember to take a picture outside during daylight hours. Guess I was too busy napping, watching political coverage on CNN, standing in front of my parents' fridge and napping again. So I picked what seemed like the perfect spot for a portrait -- my mom's little sitting area. Holy huge smile.

And here is a more stately and genteel shot of the clapotis turned the "wrong way," how Kate Gilbert prefers it to look.

Lastly, here she is alllll stretched out.

Finally, I see what all the fuss is about. I really loved this pattern. I didn't get bored, didn't find the repeats interminable. All the stitch markers sometimes made my head spin, but I'm already starting another. And this one -- are you reading Yahaira? -- is for my dear mother. She's a French teacher, so she loves the idea of the pattern's Francophile roots.

Mom and I decided to go on a search together for the perfect clapotis yarn. You may recall that there is but one yarn store in my hometown, save for JoAnn's, and that I had somehow been unable to find it during previous visits. I suppose it is hard to locate -- if you somehow manage to miss the GIANT SHEEP outside. Yeah, we're not so swift.

It's called Knit Wits, and this is a just a stellar store. One of the proprietors, Marianne, was so delightful and friendly. We talked about knitcasts and swifts and the yarn harlot's visit to their store -- it was like meeting an old friend. I didn't wear my clapotis into the store because I thought that was a little amateur hour, but after she wound my mom's yarn, I ran out to get it. When's the last time you felt that comfy at a yarn store?

Mom settled on a handpainted wool called Fienneans Rainbow made in Pennsylvania at Autumn House Farm. She chose a color called Fox Grape that reminds me simultaneously of an Aesop fable and pb & j sandwiches.

My flight landed about three hours ago, so I'm back in New York and preparing myself for work. I'm sure I'll be able to ease back in -- it's not like there will be a lot of crime news on Halloween, right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Two for one

I'm the baby of the family, so when I come home, my parents naturally pull out all the stops. They show up early at the airport and clean the house from top to bottom. We plan day trips and dad gives up the remote, usually. One year, they even put up a "Welcome Home Carrie!" banner on our front porch, for heaven's sake.

Of course, this vacation is no different. Nothing but the best for me. And by the best, I mean two "buy one get one free" meals in the first two days of my trip.

Monday evening my father and I met my uncle and grandfather at a local Italian restaurant for "two for one" spaghetti. That's slightly misleading -- you could get any kind of pasta, and it was more like 4 p.m. than "evening." The sauce was a little burnt, but what do you expect when two plates cost just $5.99?

Then, dad followed it up Tuesday with a trip to Arby's for "Two for Tuesday." He got the turkey swiss sandwich, I had the "Low CArby" chicken wrap. It was not all bad and SUPER CHEAP. There was a great view of the mammoth new Super Walmart, and I got to take out my clapotis for its inaurgural run.

Too bad you can't see the Walmart in the distance. Soon enough, it will have eaten my hometown. I'll take some better shots in a more picturesque locale tomorrow.

Honestly, as poorly as I'm eating, this is still a wonderful, relaxing, satisfying respite. I've finished clapotis, as you can see. And I've completed a few more squares for Jonathan's afghan, nearly finished a baby sweater for my friend, and even revisited the Keridiana "aflutter." Oh yeah, and I'm spending lots of time with my fantastic family, whom I miss so much.

And what's that they always say? When in Greensburg, eat like a Greensburger.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Perhaps in the history of vacations, one has never been as well timed as mine next week. Work was driving me bananas, and I became unbearable and exasperating and impossible to be around. (You know what's so irritating about news? It just never stops. Never. It keeps coming and coming. Even when you want to go home and work on your clapotis.)

So tomorrow I'm heading to see my parents for a luxurious week. Embarrassingly, half of my suitcase is filled with projects that I expect to complete while away. You know how the revered Yarn Harlot talks about SABLE -- Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy? Well, my suitcase illustrates what I'll not-so-cleverly call PELT -- Projects Exceed Length of Trip.

(Aren't my captions fab?) Anyway, cross your fingers because I'm flying Independence Air, which I'm antsy about. I've never flown one of these start-up airlines. I'm clinging to the fact that it's the official airline of the Washington Redskins.

My mom and I are going to attempt once again to find the first and only yarn store in my hometown. What's strange is that it doesn't seem to exist. We drove by the address last time I was home and couldn't find it. Then mom looked again on her own, and still couldn't find it. It's as though I'm willing it to appear.

And, because I can't resist a trend, I'm tackling the meme that is sweeping the knitblog ring. You type "(your name) needs" into Google and get the alarming results:

Carrie needs more than deep-breathing exercises
Carrie needs everything
Carrie needs someone to show her the opportunities available to enhance her life
Carrie needs her parents permission to join the group
Carrie needs to get to the hospital
Carrie needs warmer clothing
Carrie needs to shut up
Carrie needs to follow in her friends’ Manolo Blahniked footsteps and grow up.
Carrie needs to go home and tend to the chickens and milk some cows
Carrie needs to survive floating ice platforms suspended in nothingness to get to the top
Carrie needs to have makeup and be airbrushed to hell
Carrie needs to be put on paid leave to conduct the investigation.
And, appropriately,
Carrie needs a vacation

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Another finished object by the selfish, selfish knitter

Just as soon as I finished my not-so-shrunken cardigan, autumn's chill blew into New York and the biblical rains subsided. Which means it was suddenly cold enough to wear this little number and dry enough to take photos in Central Park. Coincidence, or knitting kismet?

* Many thanks to long-suffering boyfriend/official every word's a purl photographer, Jonathan. We took these pictures after viewing the Emancipation Proclamation at the Historical Society, and I feel a little shallow having asked him to take 45 photos of me in my new sweater. (Ok, it was the preliminary draft of the proclamation, but the real one burned in the Chicago fire, so this is as close as it gets. And can you believe that people actually tried to CUT IN LINE to see the Emancipation Proclamation? C'mon!)

This was a fun, relaxing knit. And I'll definitely wear it a lot -- I'm just a cardigan gal. In fact, I think I'll wear it to work tomorrow. Isn't it a little reporter chic? I lengthened the body a good deal, and I crocheted one row of ruffles, though I might be persuaded to add a second.

About the yarn -- it's elsebeth lavold Silky Wool, and I just didn't love it. It's OK, but it doesn't feel great or fun or lovely. I'm looking for a substitute if I knit this for my mother. (Oh, my poor mom. Will she ever get a finished sweater?) And be forewarned -- I knit the smallest size, added a few extra rows and still had two skeins left over. I feel bad returning it since my LYS doesn't seem to be in good financial shape, but I just don't think I'll ever use it.

I have crocheted several more squares for Jonathan's birthday afghan that is more than a year in the making. And I've been whittling away on my friend's baby sweater. But how could I resist starting clapotis? The yarn arrived Saturday, and I was beside myself giddy.

Yes, I know I should be knitting presents, and yes, I know this looks like it caught on fire. But I think once the stitches get dropped, it will look less like a conflagration and more like a yummy scarf.

And I have a confession for everyone who went to the Sheep and Wool fest. I'm jealous. Super jealous. Magenta jealous. And I hate being that way, so instead I'll live vicariously through your blogs. Maybe next year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

And the winner is ...

So I made the leap. After much careful deliberation -- read: hemming and hawing -- I selected a yarn for my clapotis. I think.

Let's give a warm welcome to Knit Picks Sock Garden in Stargazer Lily! I was really drawn to the pinks and yellows, and I've been eager to give Knit Picks a try. A few commenters suggested this yarn, so I checked and found two examples of clapotis in sock garden. One, in my estimation, is a success. (It's the second clapotis on the page, the scarlett and green one.) The other example? Not so much. (And I'm not being nasty -- the knitter decided to frog it.)

I think, though, mine won't look so lousy because the color changes are more subtle. And I'll be on the look-out for pooling, I suppose. Or, maybe I'll just buy this beauty instead. Tee hee!

I'm also trucking along on Marilyn's Not-so-shrunken cardigan. I made it slightly longer because super cropped wasn't so flattering for me. Now, using the wonderful magic loop method, I'm scurrying to finish the sleeves so I can get going on the fun ruffles. (And yes, I know that I'm using the same color as Yahaira. She and I have made peace with this. I hope.)

I need to move onto less selfish projects, like the sweater for my friend's baby, the afghan for my boyfriend and another sweater for my mom. Poor mom.

If you don't hear from me for a while, it's probably because I've been imprisoned for bludgeoning my neighbors. See, their front door lock has been broken for eight or nine months. In order to shut it, they need to slam it shut repeatedly then loudly turn the lock between 10 and 45 times. And they do this at 6:30 a.m., oblivious to the fact that I get home from work only a few hours earlier. I have tried to discuss this with them reasonably, or as reasonably as you can when you are half asleep and wearing a robe with penguins on it. What kills me is that they won't apologize, and they won't just call the management company. This is a very simple problem to fix! So I called the management company myself today, explained the situation and left my neighbor a note about how exactly to do the same thing. I'm not sure how they have survived this long without any problem solving skills.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Square by square

As you might imagine, today was a strange day to live in New York City. And not to navel-gaze too much, but it was also a strange day to be a reporter in New York City. I got home a little while ago, and I'm only now starting to feel kind of emotionally exhausted. I guess I hadn't let myself really think about the warnings --our office was too busy for worrying or hand-wringing. Now I'm alone and I feel a little overwhelmed. Not nervous. Not scared. Just overwhelmed.

Times like this, I sometimes think of Anne Lamott and her suggestion to take things "bird by bird." In her book by that title, she recounts a story about her brother when he was 10. Though he'd had three months to complete a report on birds, he hadn't cracked a book until the night before it was due. He was "immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead," as we all often are. And his father told him, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

So I guess all we can do is take it hour by hour, day by day, bird by bird.

Or, in the case of the blanket I've been making for Jonathan since 2004, square by square. How comforting a memorized pattern can be! So mindless. I've made about 4,000 squares for this afghan and have about 3,888 to go. (Really, I've made 17 and have 13 to go.)

It's going to be so mod and funky when completed. And I will complete it.

I'm chipping away at several other projects right now. I'm working on a not-so-shrunken cardigan from Knit and Tonic. It's really not worth showing off. (Yahaira started it in the same color waaaaay before me anyway, so check out hers instead. I'm so ashamed!)

In keeping with my raglan madness, I'm whipping up a mint green baby sweater for my friend's new little one, Daniel. (I already gave her a crocheted blanket, so I think it's OK if I take my time on this one.) I want to put some cute buttons on it, like little cars or something, not to be too gender specific.

And this might seem ridiculous, but I'm suddenly DYING to make a clapotis. I know, I know, could I be any later to the party on this one? I always liked it, but now I'm captivated. Swoon! Only I can't afford (or reconcile) the Lorna's Lace, and my eyes are completely glossing over looking at blog after blog and message board after message board about substitute yarns. (There are TOO MANY options!) Gentle readers, have any of you used a less expensive yarn and had similarly spectacular results? I'm dying here!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Knit-Out ... of their minds!

We all know that knitters are nuts. We try to make our own clothes. We try to make clothes for our friends and family. And we try to convince ourselves that this is all perfectly normal. As Dave Barry is quoted as saying in the Yarn Harlot's book, "There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness.'"

Still, I was blown away by the MADNESS that was the Knit-Out in Union Square. There were thousands of people pushing and shoving for anything that was free, even if it was only a Red Heart catalog or a leaflet pattern for basic garter stitch scarf knit on, like, size 40 needles.

But my friend Shannon and I braved it briefly nonetheless. (We left after a while to go shoe shopping.) My goal was to meet knitting celebrities, like maybe that red-headed model who is all of the Interweave magazines. (Who the heck is she?) So naturally, the highlight of the day was meeting the Lion Brand Lion and thanking him for the creation of Fun Fur!

Just kidding. I really wanted to snap a photo with Vickie Howell, host of Knitty Gritty on DIY network. I know that I'm crazy and a loser for seeking her out, but I really enjoy the show. It's like hosting a little knitting circle in my studio apartment. She was emceeing a fashion show (with lots of Fun Fur) and seemed to be hidden from the general public. So I used my super sleuth reporter skills to locate her behind the stage and grab her for a quick photo. I'm sure she thought I was insane.

There were a lot of nasty knit and crochet items -- like a man in a brown, faux suede poncho sending emails on his blackberry -- but as Shannon said, it just isn't "in the knitting spirit" to poke too much fun. But mostly, I loved seeing all the hard work people put into their items. During the amateur fashion show, a woman displayed this totally awesome afghan made from yarn scraps that knocked my socks off. Shannon didn't feel the need to go up on stage but privately showed me the super soft, super cute lap blanket she is making from "Weekend Knits."

Afterwards, Jonathan and I celebrated our two-year (dating) anniversary at Cafe des Artistes on the Upper West Side, which made me feel like old money. Then he had to leave this morning to cover the Yankees in Anaheim. Sigh.

I'm working on 85 projects right now, which I will show later this week. But I will leave you with a fantastic example of the Dumbest Thing I Did All Week. So I bought a package of Rite Aid brand meal replacement shakes to drink for breakfast before I go to the gym. I was lifting them over my head Saturday to put them in a high cupboard. Naturally, one fell out and slammed right into my face. It struck my lip, and I instantly tasted blood. The pain and shock stunned me in the truest sense of the word, plus I feared that I'd lose a tooth. Luckily, the swelling stopped and it's only a little cut. So, so stupid.