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Monday, November 19, 2007

This is the sweater that never ends ...

It just goes on and on and on.

I'm not sure if I just have less times these days, or if I've become a slower knitter, or if this pattern is just total time suckage. But I seem to be going nowhere fast on the trapeze jacket.

The shawl collar is done, and I'm past the short row sleeve caps. (I'm not so good at short rows. Maybe because I'm not a sock knitter. I'm confident that I'm doing them wrong.)

An uninspired progress shot, for you perusal:

Here is what's irritating about this pattern. It's sort of the worst of all worlds -- the ribbing of the body is boring, but it's NOT mindless. It grows gradually from 1 by 1, to 1 by 2, to 1 by 3 ribbing, at seemingly random intervals. So you have to look at the piece frequently; you can't simply zone out and become captivated by Grey's Anatomy. (Then again, the show's become too over-the-top, implausible and maudlin lately anyway.)

So while I'm typically very loyal to my projects, I had to stray. I used my Morehouse Merino from Rhinebeck to knit up Pepperknit's darling Bainbridge Scarf. I gave it to my dear friend at her bachelorette party because, well, I think it's more useful and less humiliating than typical bachelorette party presents.

And speaking of weddings, which I always seem to be these days, here's one of the engagement pictures that our good friend Julia took for us. No, he didn't toss me off the Promenade.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good reads

I'm often doling out and accepting book recommendations in real life. Today, I'm not only giving you a recommendation, I'm letting you hear from the author herself, who's also a friend of mine. It's not about crafts -- it's about crime reporting, another topic disturbingly near to my heart.

As some of you know already, before moving to New York City, I was a reporter for about four years at the New Haven Register. One of my first editors was Karen E. Olson, who stayed on the phone with me for an hour when I lost power in my attic apartment during my first week in Connecticut. Since then, she's developed into a fabulous mystery writer, writing about a dogged female crime reporter in New Haven. I devoured her first two books, and her third, "Dead of the Day," comes out today.

Karen is a blogger, too, and asked if she could stop here on her week-long blog tour. I know some of my readers are either reporters themselves, news junkies or just like hearing my crazy stories. So I thought you'd all appreciate hearing from her:

I am not a crafty person. I still have half an afghan I crocheted when I was 12 (I never finished it because I ran out of yarn. I could’ve used this blog then, but the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye yet.) But I did have a creative side, and while I wasn’t weaving sweaters, I was weaving stories.

I spent my twenties writing newspaper stories. I covered a lot of planning and zoning and school board meetings. I only covered two murders in my six years as a reporter, and neither of them was a mystery. In one case, a teenager killed his father over a pack of cigarettes, and in the other, a man killed his girlfriend’s former boyfriend. He called the police himself and waited for them to arrive.

When I started writing murder mysteries, I knew the stories had to be a lot more interesting and complicated than any I’d actually written. I also hadn’t liked any of the books I’d read with reporter protagonists, because they really didn’t seem true to the profession. I have tried to be faithful to what it’s really like working at a newspaper — because every newspaper is the same. They’re all in a crappy building with crappy carpets and crappy computer systems.

My reporter protagonist waits for sources to call her, she argues with the editor about how to cover stories, and she’s irritated by a new, eager hire who’s after her job. She uses a lot of four-letter words (I have had readers wonder why a nice reporter like her would use such language), and she drives around a lot, mostly looking for parking. I did have to cross the line a little to give readers what they expect from a mystery and put her in danger in each book.

For the record, I have never owned a gun, although at one paper, I did work with a sports editor who kept one in his car’s glove box. I shot a gun for the first time last year. Let’s just say I’m not making it a habit.

In DEAD OF THE DAY, my third book that’s just out today, Annie Seymour is trying to write a profile of the city’s new police chief. She just can’t pull it together, but when he’s gunned down she’s got the kind of story she can get her teeth into. This book has a lot more action than the previous ones, and I even tackle the illegal immigration issue, although I tried carefully to present all sides and not take one myself. It’s the journalist in me.

I doubt that I will have Annie ever take up knitting, although maybe I will pull that old afghan out of the closet and see what I can do with it while I’m trying to devise my next plot. It’s still remarkably in good shape. But I still don’t have any yarn. Any ideas?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Knits that have stood the test of time

The truth is, I took a progress shot of the trapeze jacket. And there is progress -- I'm finally finished with the back. But I just can't subject all of you to a progress shot of boring old ribbing. So instead, let's take a whirl in the knitting way-back machine via a copy of Spinnerin's "Gentlemen Prefer" that I snagged for $2 at Rhinebeck.

The year is 1967, and apparently gentlemen preferred garish cardigans and women with alarmingly high-waisted pants. Those studious fellows look down-right captivated (or confused?) by her! Either that, or they're waiting for her to leave so they can dig into that tug-boat sized fruit basket.

Nothing says "expert art direction" quite like bright orange, wraparound vest. The photographer appears to be mumbling under his breath, "Put a sock in it, jackass."

It's a man. In a poncho. Is it a mancho? I'm wondering if that masterpiece was knit by his intergalactic companion there. If the sweater curse is bad news, imagine the poncho curse!

In all seriousness, that blazer is a knitting marvel. Seriously. But I fear these fellows are too over-dressed for an afternoon of, um, model airplane building.