Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where is Hunter S. Thompson When You Need Him?

(There is knitting in here eventually)

I was reading yet another article about Tea Party happenings last night in The New Yorker. (So they've stopped calling themselves the Tea Baggers, I see. They finally got clued into that one, and now they get all offended when people call them that, never mind that this was what they started out calling themselves. But I digress.) This article was about Andrew Breitman and mentioned various TP conventions, goings-on, etc. Anyway, in the middle of reading this article, I had a sudden realization.

What the world is really missing right now is Hunter S. Thompson's take on the Tea Party and its denizens. Mainstream media tries so hard to be fair and to attempt to deal with the movement's more rational members and rationales. Faux, of course, treats them as being on an equal footing with the Founding Fathers. Only Thompson could get inside there and get us a true portrait of all the crazy. I'm so sorry he's gone.

In a similar vein, I'm really amused by all those southern Republican politicians -- you know, the ones who are so vocal about overreaching by the federal government, the ones who wanted to refuse stimulus money, ones who so loudly proclaim their favor for "state's rights" -- crying crocodile tears over how the federal government isn't doing enough to deal with the oil spill in the gulf. I heard one talk about how the federal government had the knowledge and the resources to fix this now, whether it was through Homeland Security, the Army Corps of Engineers (let's not mention the levees in New Orleans, shall we?), or even NASA, as if there were a fix out there that is being withheld. Oh, the irony.

Knitting. Yes. I still get to do that a little.

I've finished the knitting on Elegant Empire. The pattern calls for the sweater to be blocked before the side seams and hems are sewn up. That is where I am right now:

And more of a close-up:

And since I still haven't quite settled on what to knit next, I went back to finish up Virve's Stockings. Not done yet, but I've gotten almost to the heel:

In the comments to my last post, Tracey posted a link to a great blog series on fitting sweaters to flatter your particular figure. This was a great series of posts. Unfortunately, I can't decide whether I am top heavy, curvy, or proportionate. But it did lead me to a great pattern from Twist that went into my queue, called Poplar and Elm. So, still waffling on the next pattern, but I do have ideas.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Need a Treat

Today I finally had a couple of hours of quiet time, so I kitchenered the two halves of Elegant Empire together. It was something like 115 stitches plus the cable panel. I've never kitchenered anything but plain old stockinette before, and figured I'd just wing it when I got to the cable panel. Classic overconfidence, no? In this case, it worked out just fine. You can see that the panels don't quite match up. I might have been a row off, but hey, it's not that bad, is it? I think it will look a lot better after it's all done, washed, and blocked, too.

All that kitchenering took a while and definitely made my head and my eyes hurt. I need a treat! All I need to do now to finish this thing is to do the front band, and then sew the side seams and the hems. Not too bad.

I'm still contemplating what to knit next, and I'm still undecided. Kippi provided lots of good suggestions in the comments to the last post, which was helpful and NOT helpful, because it gave me more to choose from. I have a ton of great yarn that I really want to knit up, but I don't have a pattern that's thrilling me.

And no, I don't have time to design one of my own, thankyouverymuch. It's tempting, though.

A weekend of sitting around and waiting at various events has allowed me to finish the first of my Lagoon socks and to start the toe of the second:

I love these socks. I've been knitting a bit tightly, though. I think I need to loosen it up.

In non-knitting news, we got a new treadmill! I'm very excited about this. Now I have no excuse not to exercise. I can't complain when it's too hot, too cold, too rainy, or whatever.

Book Reports

I've read a few since the last blog post mentioning books, of course. I finally got around to reading Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill. This book came out a while ago to great acclaim and good reviews, falling into that category of "post-9/11 novels" that make me wary. I find it hard to read books or see movies that center on 9/11 because it's still so raw in my mind. It's such a huge event that in some ways, putting it into fiction seems exploitative or cheap. There are some 9/11 books that work, however. Next, by James Hynes, one of my favorite authors, deals mainly with post-9/11 anxiety, the effects it has on a personal level, rather than on some larger societal level. Netherland was a bit too slow, in my opinion. It had its moments, but overall was a bit of a slog for me. I know it's supposed to be paced that way (much like a cricket match, which can go on for days), but it had stretched where I just wasn't connecting with it.

I just finished reading The Imperfectionists, a first novel by Tom Rachman. The novel is a portrait of a newspaper told from different perspectives. I really enjoyed this book, but I think I wanted more. On some level, it's a history of modern newspapering, from the days when newspapers were the whole story, to the days of budget cutting and audience-pleasing, to the days when people feel newspapers are old media, not able to keep up with the fast pace of current information dissemination. That last part -- the internet age -- isn't really examined as much as the other stages, so the novel seems to end kind of abruptly. However, it's a great book, very well-written, funny and wise and insightful. We get to see newspapering from so many angles, from the publisher to the stringer to the copy editor. I do recommend it, and I'll be looking out for more from this author.

One of my newest favorite authors, Maggie O'Farrell (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox) has also come out with a new novel, called The Hand that First Held Mine. I'm still at the beginning, but I'm finding it hard to put down. There are two threads that are being developed, and I haven't quite gotten to where they come together, but I can't wait. O'Farrell is definitely now on the list of authors whose books I buy as soon as they come out, along with Jane Smiley, Lorrie Moore, and others.

Off to put some aloe on my sunburn :(

Friday, May 14, 2010


This is where I am right now with Elegant Empire. The main knitting is done. I need to kitchener the two back pieces together, then pick up stitches to knit the front band. Almost done. But I know that I'll need patience, time, and concentration to do the kitchenering, and when will that happen? Uninterrupted quiet time... what a concept. I was hoping for today. Maybe after lunch. We'll see.

In the meantime, since I'm so close to finishing this sweater, I'm starting to ponder what to knit next. I do have a shawl on the needles that I can work on, and a couple of pairs of socks, but I also want to get another sweater going. Unfortunately, nothing's really leaping out at me at the moment. Maybe it's partly because I feel kind of lumpy and all the cute sweater patterns out there right now are pretty fitted. I have a couple of possibilities that I'm letting mature in my mind. We'll see.

I've also done more on the Lagoon socks, but they're just plain old stockinette, toe-up socks. Nothing that requires much concentration or expertise. However, they are very mesmerizing :)

It was serendipitous that I managed to get the heel to start right where the right color is! I'm very pleased about how that turned out. I hope I can swing that in the other Twisted Fiber Arts yarns that I have.

Sooo, all three of you out there... if you have any good sweater recommendations, let me know!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


So, in general, I had a sucky Mother's Day. Sr. Jr. was sick (yucky gunky sinus stuff PLUS strep throat, fun) and we did nothing. Aside from a quick trip to the garden center, nada. I didn't get to knit, even. I did get to pick out where we got our Saturday evening takeout, though :)

But then I found out yesterday that one of my old college roommates died. Ovarian cancer. Obviously, she was my age. She had two boys, just like me. She was diagnosed soon after her younger son was born, and was in treatment on and off for about 8 years. She was a doctor. She had a great sense of humor. She was one of the most generous people I know. It was so tough reading her blog in the last few months, as she went into the hospital, and despite the brave face she always put on, you could see how much pain she was in. This is just NOT FAIR, and my heart goes out to her family, especially her boys.

So all the Mother's Day suckiness aside, I'm alive. I'm healthy and here for my family in every way possible. And I know that they love me as much as I love them, even if they don't always make grand gestures to show me.

Here's what's blooming around here right now, to have some beauty at the end of a depressing post:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Annual Pilgrimage and an Actual Finished Object

This weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Originally it looked like I wasn't going to be able to go, due to Mr. T's work/travel schedule, but a last minute rescheduling intervened. I didn't necessarily want to buy any yarn or fiber. Mostly, I wanted to go to breathe in the fiber crafty air and hang out with friends.

It was hot. Very hot. It was almost unbearable inside the buildings and even the tents. You'd think the tents would be cooler because they'd provide shade, but even with the open sides, the breeze couldn't get inside. I heard there were a number of people who got ill from the heat.

Traffic was fine for me. I guess I got there before the hideously long lines started and left when they were small, too. No problems there.

I met up with Rav-friend Tanya before 9 and we made a quick tour of some of the vendors. I found it a bit lackluster this year. Nothing seemed to scream out at me or make me go "oooh." I went to the Brooks Farm booth first, but nothing captured my eye. There was a big Miss Babs booth, but I can get that locally, so I didn't feel the need to brave the crowds to look at the yarn. In the end, I only bought 2 skeins of yarn, and one was for Sr. Jr.

It was a yarn that's new to me - Shalimar Yarns' Zoe Sock. Nice and cushy, with pretty kettle dyed colors. Sr. Jr.'s is dark blue, of course.

There were adorable animals, too, of course:

SOOOO hard not to take one of these home with me!

Tanya and I gave up on the shopping pretty early and then went to hang out and knit until the rest of the crew showed up. It was really nice to see everybody again. People came down from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, all over.

I brought my Business Time socks with me to knit while I chatted. I started these back in November and I was getting pretty sick of them. They're my "waiting room socks," the ones I knit on in doctor's waiting rooms, at Jr. Jr.'s piano lessons, etc. In other words... not very often. But I got far enough on them at the Sheep and Wool Festival that I was inspired to go ahead and finish them. So, here they are:

(Rainy Days & Woolly Dogs OhMyGoth! Sock yarn in Business Time.) They are cashmerey and soft and warm, but they were boring me. But I will love wearing them when the weather turns, many months from now.

In other yarny goodness, the following came to me via one of the Ravelry trade threads:

Tardis yarn! With cashmere, too. The lovely Helena, aka tinygiraffe, aka Midnight Sheep, offered to custom dye some yarn for me, and was kind enough NOT to laugh her head off when I sent her some inch-long bits for her to try to match. She did an amazing job capturing the color I was looking for and in realizing that it looks very Tardis-y :)

I was excited to finish up the Business Time socks because I really wanted to try out some of my Twisted Fiber Arts yarns. I have fallen in love with her colors, so it was about time to get some on the needles. Top picture is with flash, bottom is without. It's hard to capture the exact intensity of the colors:

This is the Lagoon colorway on the Playful base. I'm mesmerized by this yarn. It's so beautiful in person, so soft and cushy, too. I can't stop knitting it. So even though these are my new "waiting room" socks, I've just been knitting them non-stop since I cast on yesterday (well, non-stop in between the laundry, and the errands, etc.). Look for more socks out of this yarn in the future.