Monday, August 31, 2009

Baby Surprise

So, you know what this is, right? No, it's not The Blob, although that was a great movie. (Steve McQueen, sometime in the '60s--rent it at Blockbuster if you get a chance. It'll remind you of a kinder, gentler time in our lives when the worst thing we could imagine happening to us was being pursued and devoured by a giant, oozing blob of sticky stuff. And how bad could it be if you had a guy who looked like Steve McQueen with you when it happened?).

It's an almost ready for the buttonholes Baby Surprise Jacket. The yarn is some Claudia's Handpainted Sportweight that Arlene of Needlenook had on sale (thank you, Arlene--I wish I'd bought more now!), and it's truly wonderful to work with. Well, I have two quibbles--first off, of course it's not superwash and God only knows how the new mother who gets burdened with it will treat it. (Not that that would be anyone's fault but mine--I simply fell in love with the yarn and with the colors!) And second, it's going to make a rather SMALL sweater--newborn to six month size at best. So I'm hoping the December baby turns out to be a girl.

My family seems to be multiplying in a way that implies that none of them are affected by the recession. I guess that's a good thing for the future of the species--we just go ahead and keep procreating even when our intellects are saying, "oh my god, how am I going to pay for all that formula not to mention college?"

Anyway, there seem to be three babies on the imminent horizon--September, October and December. No, not my daughters--I think they've finally got the baby thing out of their systems. No, it's the cousins and nieces and nephews. (By the way, you know you're REALLY old when you look around at a family wedding and realize you're the oldest one there from your side of the family--not a pretty moment at all. Darn you, Connie, for not coming to that wedding--that would really have helped my self-esteem!)

Anyway, for some reason I'm obsessed by the BSJ. This is my second Baby Surprise--do you rmember this blob from last January (2008, that is?)

It turned into this.

So, now I'm on a BSJ kick and every new baby's getting one this year, assuming any of the blobs turn out to be gift material and not just ... blobs.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sock Update

As promised, a sock update. July and August were definitely odd months, careening between wonderfulness (Cooper's and Emma's birthdays, both my daughters' birthdays, Sarah and Mike's wedding) and crap ... there, I said it ... CRAP!

So this gorgeous Hibiscus makes up for it all? Right? Mr. Pug's green thumb is keeping the back yard beautiful and the three fish are apparently happy (or at least alive) and the bird feeders are full of birds and we've been overrun by tomatoes. So, I should just shut up, and quit complaining, right?

Here's my second pair of Zauberball socks--the first will be along in a minute. This is the Skacel Zauberball (which supposedly means "magic ball" in German but which I think really means, "we knew if we gave it a cool name you'd buy it," and I did). Because there's no connection at all between Zauberball #2 (above) and Zauberball #1 (below).

This one is a two ply yarn in which the colors of the plies working around each other create the fabulous ombre effect. So, for instance, you might have bright blue and light blue and then the light blue turns to gray and suddenly your bright blue is grayish and then the bright blue turns to navy blue and all of a sudden your navy and your gray are making it dark grayish blue. Clear? Anyway. trust me--the ombre is created by the plying. The yarn is from Only Ewe and Cotton Too and I bought it at a guild meeting.

The pattern is a Wendy Johnson toe-up but please don't ask me the pattern name--it's a very simple YO K2TOG pattern and in fact got boring because it was dead simple.

Did you think this sock was Zauberball, too? Nope, fooled you!

This is Trekking but, yes, you're right, the ombre effect is created the same way as the Zauberball above (the Skacel Zauberball). This time the plies are pale, baby blue with neutrals like browns, blacks, a little gray, rust, etc. One sock of this pair is finished--the other is about 25% done. It's my standard, tried-and-true Ann Budd sock (with my own innovations) with a 2x2 ribbed instep and short-row heel, toe up, of course. Foot is size 0, cuff is size 2.

That's also the sock that my friend Debra told me she hated. I had to pull the sock aside and soothe her injured feelings, telling her that Debra is a confirmed color-lover and that the neutrals, no matter how beautemous and subtle, simply didn't call out to her. (But my feelings were hurt, too. Oh, well, she'll be sorry when it's fall and I'm wearing these gorgeous browny socks under a pair of dark brown slacks with brown shoes and I look--dare I say it? magnificent in my neutrality.)

What about this baby, stuck here in the middle of the Zauberball lookalikes? Well, I originally bought this Regia yarn thinking it would be a top-down baby sweater but it turns out that the patterning, while perfect for a sock circumference, just looked muddy and confused on a longer row length.

Okay, maybe it wants to be a sock--finally figured out it would be perfect at 64 stitches--each row went around exactly once. But ... Emma saw it and decided it was more perfect for an Emma-sized sock. So, now it's 48 stitches and somewhat less perfect, but let's face it--Emma will never know!

Did you think I forgot? Here's Zauberball #1--I'm so in love with this yarn that the minute I finished these socks, I rushed out to that lovely little yarn store in Pineville, NC and bought more--this time in purple! This yarn is a singles yarn, not plied at all--picture Noro Kureyon but more even and without the barn sweepings and knots. In fact, the perfect yarn in every way. The socks (another Wendy Johnson toe up pattern--Diagonal Lace, I think it's called) are soft and the yarnovers show up well against the more subtle color changes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ewe-doo Economics

If you're too young to get the reference to Voodoo Economics, you'll just have to Google it--the first President Bush (maybe the ONLY President Bush) said it about Ronald Reagan's economic plan. Don't you just hate it when you have to explain a joke?

Oh, well....yesterday I was listening to NPR on the way home, either All Things Considered or Marketplace--I can't remember. I love NPR for the same reasons I love The New Yorker magazine--it always gets me thinking about something I wouldn't have thought about otherwise.

Anyway, yesterday there was a commentary by an economist from The Wharton School of Business or some such place. He sounded Scottish or British so, of course, more learned. What is it about the accent? Have you ever gotten up really early and caught the infomercials for gadgets that will slice and dice everything in your kitchen, including the cat? Almost invariably the "host" hanging out in that fake kitchen has an accent from one of the British colonies--Australia or Scotland or maybe just Soho for all I know. Anyway, for some reason buyers must perk up their ears and take out their checkbooks for that accent or they wouldn't be used so often.

(To diverge completely from the point, this morning I caught two infomercials that deviate from the rule above. First, Ron Popeil is back. Yes, I know--for some of you he never left. For others of us, we hoped he'd disappeared into the ozone of one of his food hydrators. Remember Ron? He brought us the original thingy that chopped and sliced and diced vegetables--was it the Veg-O-Matic? And he was responsible for the Pocket Fisherman as well as that spray-on hair product. Well, as my hair continues to thin with age and menopause, I'm not laughing quite so hard at that hair stuff anymore. But I'm not buying a Pocket Fisherman. He's also the person who first brought us, "But wait! There's more!"
And, by the way, Ron's hair looks very dark and full for an oldish-kind of guy--I'm not sayin' he's spraying it with anything but ....

Anyway, this infomercial is for some kind of knife that will cut anything from a tomato to a Humvee's bumper, and it also stars his two daughters and his cousin. His daughters are limited to saying things like "my dad also wants you to see this!" But the cousin is one of those guys you only see on the boardwalk at Ocean City playing three card monte or selling genuine cubic zirconia rings. It's worth seeing just for the laughs.

Did you forget about the "inside the egg electric egg scrambler"? That was his idea, too. Don't have one? Maybe you can find one on eBay.

And the second surprise of the morning was Vicky Lawrence flogging some type of George Foreman Grill wannabe. First off, she looks old, with a capital OLD. (Well, I do too, but I'm not hanging out on TV begging you to buy a grill from me.) Her hair is bright red, her waist is lumpy under that apron, and she looks like she wishes she'd saved some of those residual checks from the old TV shows instead of gambling them away in Vegas. You can skip this one--she cooks a couple of chicken breasts that emerge looking like something they'd autopsy on CSI, only less moist.)

Back to the point, if there ever was one. This economist was talking about the fact that he's a runner and he's training for a marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in my old neck of the woods to be exact. And he was talking about one of the principal* laws of economics (you did remember I said he was an economics professor, right?) which is Opportunity Cost.

Now if I remember my economics classes from college, the opportunity cost of something is what you give up to do that thing--the non-monetary value of an activity. In his case, he was talking about running and training for the marathon and what he has to give up to do those things--in his case, time with his family, time for a hobby, time to take on another teaching assignment and make some extra money, etc.

But here's where the Ewe-doo Economics comes in. I related immediately to what he was saying because there I was, driving home in Atlanta's rush-hour traffic, missing the opportunity to do what is really important--KNIT. And I was coming from work, where I'd missed the opportunity to KNIT. And I was going home to have a nice dinner with the semi-spouse where I would have to conversate (to use the current non-word for "talk to someone") and eat dinner--okay, maybe I could squeeze some knitting into that part of the day if I could use a set of DPNs as chopsticks--and then sit down with the bills and, again, NO KNITTING. Then bedtime and--you guessed it--NO KNITTING.

Now do you see why I was watching infomercials at 4 am? It's so I could have a few minutes to myself with my knitting!
*No, it's not spelled wrong. I said "principal" law, not to be confused with a "principle." In this case, remember "the principal is your pal." -- signed, your friend, the knitting grammarian.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sockin' Along

I think it was Mark Twain who said something like "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." (Yes, I know I'm paraphrasing.)

If Mark had been a blogger (and if I know anything about him, it's that he would he would have loved blogging!), he would undoubtedly have been reported dead once or twice when he missed a blog entry. Given that even ten years ago, we'd never even heard the word "blog," it's amazing that so many people can get so cranky when you stop blogging.

Actually, I shouldn't be amazed. We've become such a culture of immediacy that we need our news right now--on our phones, on our computers, via Twitter or CNN via Twitter. People think if there's no blog, there must be no life. Soon there will be someone offering a Twitter-After-Death service, sort of a eulogy in 140 characters or less, to let your Followers know they better start following someone else:

"George won’t be Tweeting today. He died early this morning peacefully surrounded by his most valued social networking tools and his IPhone."*

Or, in Haiku, a communication mechanism with its own constraints:

George won't tweet today.
Please post this news on Facebook.
Hush, now, George, for good.

Anyway, I'm not dead. But for me, blogging requires that my head be in the write (he he, that was unintentional, but funny) space.

And space-wise, things haven't been right or write for a few weeks. And, yes, I'm trying to pull myself together to get back into the proper space.

In the meantime, what have I been doing? Well, working as usual. The high point of last week was being challenged by one of the kids I work with, who said, "you're an old lady, aren't you?" Well, yes, actually, I am. Now what are you gonna do about it?

And knitting. Sock knitting, and baby knitting. No, I realize you can't actually knit a baby, and I wouldn't if I could. I'm quite pleased to be out of the baby production phase of my life. If you could just roll up a baby and stick it in your sock drawer with all the other babies you've knit, taking it out on that cold, crisp day that seems to warrant a baby to keep your feet warm, that would be one thing. But instead, you need to actually deal with the baby. So, no babies, thank you.
But it seems all the nieces and cousins ARE doing babies so I'm knitting FOR babies. Not what I do best, but I'm working on it. More later.

And I've been shuttling back and forth between Atlanta and Charlotte. And yes, my daughter's much better now, and thank you very much for asking. One of the side benefits of the shuttle was finding two new yarn shops in Charlotte.

One of them is The Fibre Studio at Yarns to Dye For, downtown. OMG! The owner is actually a dyer and her yarns are actually beautiful if not to die for. I fell in love with one of her colors called Tequila Sunrise and would have bought it in every weight if I could have. Great store! Tiny, mind you, and only a few high-quality brands plus the shop yarn. Not the place to go if you have a specific yarn in mind and won't put up with substitutes, or if you feel like swinging a cat or a pug around wildly, but otherwise, wonderful!

And, closer to DD#1's house, The Yarn Shop by Rainy Day Creations in Pineville. Pineville is a funky little town on the southeast side of Charlotte and The Yarn Shop is almost invisible among the antique shops and railroad depot restaurants, but well worth a visit. Very, very friendly staff and a good selection of yarns and books.
Okay, enough of an update. More news and photos of finished and not-so-finished objects to come.
Stand by. I'm not dead. Or anywhere close. (That I know of.)

*Yes, that's exactly 140 characters, including spaces. And yup, I've heard that Twitter is going to an expanded model with more characters (230? can't remember) but I kinda like the old, compressed, squatty format.