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Monday, October 30, 2006

Aw shucks

I'm not sure how to thank you all for the outpouring of kind thoughts. We had a few kinda dark days there -- funerals seem to bring out the worst in my extended family -- but I managed to smile when I read every single comment. Such great readers and friends.

So on to much cheerier news -- I finished a project for Zimmermania! It's the ever-popular February baby sweater from "Knitters Almanac." But I have a confession -- I have no idea what yarn I used. See, I'm a little discombobulated and lost the yarn ball band, which is such a lazy blogger thing to do. It's some kind of Croatian cotton from Knit-a-way -- I picked it based solely on the color because the little recipient is named Violet. And I liked that the yarn might be of Eastern European descent, like me!

I adore this pattern and encourage all of my friend to conceive girls so that I can knit it until the end of time. So relaxing and easy to memorize, really a joy of a project. And it must not look half bad because my cousin saw it and asked why I never made anything this nice for her daughter. Harumph.

Now, about Rhinebeck. I can't really bear to write a traditional festival post, seeing as so much time has elapsed. Instead, I'll give you the highlights and suggest you look at the pics on my flickr page. I munched fried artichokes with my dear Spiders. I met, um, what's her name? A disagreeable sheep bit my yarn bag. We passed a giant Prozac statue. And three words. George. Michael. Sing-a-long.

Oh, and the yarn! I picked up a ton of Brooks Farm Four Play in yummy reds and pinks for some kind of wrap sweater, the pattern for which I haven't selected, along with two skeins from a place called Stonesthrow Farm.

I was drawn to the brilliant blue but was also intrigued that the yarn was half "cormo," which the owner told me is an Australian breed of Corriedale rams crossed with Saxon Merinos. It's kind of like a Wuzzle. But not really.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


No one would describe my grandfather as a meek or gentle man. Quite frankly, he was pretty stubborn and cantankerous and opinionated, sometimes a plain old son of a bitch. But he had to be. My grandfather worked as a coal miner while he went to college. He helped immigrants pass their citizenship tests. He fought to gain money for victims of black lung. He was so obstinate that he once had a fistfight with a man over watermelon -- the man liked watermelon, and my grandfather didn't. Reason enough to throw punches.

Times were tough, he figured, so he had to be tougher.

But beyond the prickly exterior, he was a sentimental guy at heart, a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He kept a scrapbook overflowing with all of his large family's accomplishments next to his recliner, flipping through its ragged pages long after his eyes were too bad to read the yellowing articles about my uncle's promotion at Westinghouse or my father's home runs. He would grab near-strangers by the arm when we were together in public and give them my entire curriculum vitae. And he would yell at me until I accepted his $20 bill every visit, hollering, "Take it, dammit! Take it!"

My pap died late last night. He was 97. And I don't care what people say about it being easier to let go if someone is old and led a good life. He was certainly old, and I believe he led a good life, but I can't imagine it ever would have been easy to say goodbye to him.

I'm so grateful that my trip home, planned weeks before his kidneys began to fail, gave me a few more precious days with him. In his final hours, he inquired about the World Series and asked for a shot of whiskey. He was himself until the end.

I miss him already.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Carrie's amazing technicolor dream scarf -- (or how a trip to the auto body shop restored my faith in humanity)

Some knits are supposed to be multi-colored. Some are not. Fortunately, this one falls into the former category.

This is my amazing technicolor yada yada yada scarf, aka the shell and wave shawl pattern in Brooks Farm Yarn Harmony in the Xanadu colorway. It's so warm and soft and cozy but sheds like crazy. Small price to pay for rainbow-colored fabulousness, right?

Now I can finally allow myself to catch Zimmermania -- I'm knitting the February baby sweater from Knitter's Almanac for a co-worker's new baby girl. And I'm also gearing up for my very first-ever trip to Rhinebeck! I'm not sure what I'm shopping for, but I have this vision of a belted cardigan kind of like this in a fancy pants variegated yarn. Any pattern suggestions?


Bad luck seems to come in waves with me, like this summer, when my identity was stolen, my bathroom ceiling collapsed and I had no electricity. Last week was a little like that.

First, of course, was the coffee disaster. Then on Friday, I took a crowded C train to work and had no choice but to reach for the overhead bar. Now, I'm *just* tall enough to reach the bar, but it hurts like crazy after about five minutes. So somewhere near Broadway/Lafayette, I lost my grip and completely wiped out. With nothing to grab onto, I fell with the full force of my body weight onto the guy next to me, who mercifully caught me. And, for reasons that I don't completely understand, I screamed, "Oh Christ!" I was so humiliated that I got off at the next stop and, of course, proceeded to board a train going in the wrong direction.

So I shouldn't have been surprised Saturday when I walked up to my car and found that some heartless jerk had knocked off its sideview mirror.

See, I've had this car for nearly 10 years, so to see it mauled is actually painful. And I was even more despondent because I'm driving some Spiders up to Rhinebeck this weekend. How could I do that with a dangling mirror? I'd probably need to go to a dealership, would probably have to spend my whole Sunday there. They might have to order parts. And that could take days or weeks.

But nothing was stopping me from getting an oil change, tune-up and desperately needed car wash. I thought I'd feel better if I accomplished something. So I drove to the Manhattan Bridge Car Wash, kind of teary eyed and frustrated, and agreed to have all sorts of things flushed and replaced. I was so ashamed that I had no power windows or doors, that my car was filthy, that my mirror was held up with duct tape. They promised to fix everything but simply didn't have the equipment to fix the mirror. I sighed, "Oh, my poor car." But one of the workers said, "Your car is not poor. Your car is fine."

For about a half hour, I sat in the waiting area drinking coffee and watching CNN, which was downright pleasant. Then the kindly worker came in and asked me to follow him, which is never good at the auto body shop. They might as well send in the Grim Reaper to deliver all the bad news. But I walked outside and the kindly worker was proudly standing next to my car -- and its reattached sideview mirror. For no reason other than to be kind, he had drilled a few screws into the mirror and wrapped the rest in electrical tape. Is it ghetto? A little. But it warmed my heart in a way that I can't describe. And my luck has been all good ever since.

(I treated myself to these autumnal flowers that night. The apartment will never be without fresh flowers again.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The saddest thing ever

Here's proof that I shouldn't get up before 6 a.m.

So I spent the day at a school in the Bronx, and that ain't close to Brooklyn. To prepare myself for the early morning wide, I brewed a heaping cup of French vanilla coffee. But as I walked into the living room around 6:15, I somehow lost my hold of the cup, dropped it and watched in horror as it shattered, sending fragrant coffee everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

I was immediately concerned about my couch -- it was COVERED. So I sopped everything up, used some Oxyclean and took off a touch late, smelling like a Starbucks the rest of the day. (A child actually said to me around 2 p.m., "You smell like pancakes!")

When I returned home nearly 12 hours later, I realized that my laptop was acting funny -- a handful of certain important keys weren't functioning. Recalling the Diet Coke with Lemon fiasco of 2004, I freaked out. I'll leave out the angry call to Circuit City, which sold me a misleading warranty, but long story short is that I bought a new keyboard, so now my laptop looks ridiculous but at least I didn't lose anything.

It wasn't until 11 p.m, when I picked up my nascent Glee, that I realized the full extent of damage wrought by my butterfingers. She's covered in coffee! How did the coffee get all over EVERYTHING? I'm surprised it didn't hit my car parked two blocks away.

So my question to all of you: what now? This is knit out of the Suss Ultrasoft that I picked up at the sale this spring. If I'm gonna make this, I need all the yarn. Can I salvage it? Should I unwind it all and soak it? I'm at my wit's end.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Around the house

I think I'm nesting. I've been slightly obsessed with the apartment lately, finding just the right artwork and slowly making the place feel like a home while driving my co-inhabitant crazy. I bought the Apartment Therapy book, but since the place is brand new to us, I don't think it really needs to be "cured." Just spruced up. And what better way to spruce than with a goose.

Meet Gladys. I found her as I walked to my gym on Court St. She's actually a lamp and was just standing their at a sidewalk sale among maps and mismatched dinnerware. It made me terribly sad. You see, I really like geese, mostly because they are silly. I asked the salesman how much he wanted, and he answered, "This goose just needs a good home, some TLC and some Ajax. How about five dollars?" She's hanging in the bedroom but may end up outside with this winged fellow. I haven't plugged her in for fear she's a fire hazard.

You should have seen how people stared at me as I carried Gladys down the street! I was surprised, since earlier this week a fellow on a unicycle failed to turn heads.

That wasn't my only tag sale score. Picked up this wine rack for a mere two bucks at a little sale at the Italian place on our corner. I hope this doesn't mean they're closing!

And at long last, I decorated my beloved stairway. As further proof that I'm nesting, I picked a bird motif. I first saw Amy Ruppel's delightful artwork on Design Sponge -- she works in beeswax! But her pieces sell out at lightning speed, so I just picked up eight little prints. Here's a close-up:

Despite being a knitter, I'm not always very precise, so I had to force myself to space these perfectly. Using a Martha Stewart method, I first hung up sheets of paper, then went back and hammered in the nails. That's downright fastidious of me.

And I continue to tinker with my creative workspace. I walked over yesterday to Brooklyn General, which is alarmingly close to my apartment, and actually saw Debbie Stoller of Stich 'n Bitch fame! (You might, or might not, remember that I saw her last year at the Bust Craftacular.) I picked up some adorable oil cloth -- so old-fashioned and lovely. I keep painting everything in that area Tiffany box blue, as you can see, and I decoupaged a cheesy little mosaic out of old craft magazines. I think I still need some new curtains, a not-ugly sewing machine cover and a new place to store records. Other thoughts?

Back to knitting later in the week. The powder room/blocking room is hosting my Brooks Farm scarf as I type.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Extreme blog makeover

First the hair, now the blog. I hope you like the new look around these parts. As much as I love the little reporter gal who graced my banner, I had long wanted to create something that better linked knitting and writing and reporting and blogging. (Plus, I was so sick of the blogger dots in the background!)

I've had the idea of knitting with writing implements for a while, so yesterday I finally bought some No. 2s, knit a swatch on actual needles then transferred the yarn to the pencils. Then I took a few photos, and here you go. I realize this is "Every Word's a Purl" -- not "Every Word's a Knit" -- but the purl side of the fabric never looks quite as nice.

To fully disclose, I was actually prompted to redesign after seeing the Spiders this weekend. They informed me that my blog had totally wacko margins in Firefox, and they thought I did this ON PURPOSE! I didn't! I guess I'm not up on these new-fangled web browsers, and it looked A-OK in Internet Explorer. I feel like I was walking around with toilet paper on my Steve Maddens -- or, as Lisa and Veronique can attest, spinach in my teeth.

So, onto the actual knitting. I finished up the Yankee pin-striped cardigan from "Knitting for Baby", and we gave it to my friend's baby, Omri, this morning. He was so cute and fun and pleasant.

And for any of you who follow the news, things have returned almost to normal in our neighborhood, after a woman buying yogurt at my grocery store was briefly held hostage early Saturday. When I went over tonight to buy ingredients for a potato and artichoke rosti, a poor TV reporter was outside asking people if they felt safe. Just for fun, I almost screamed at him, "You vulture! No comment!"