Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tank You, Or My First Garment

 I have been knitting for just over three years and I have made scarves, wash cloths, berets, wristwarmers, coasters, socks, throws, and gaiters.  I have avoided making a sweater or clothes of any kind for fear of badly botching the job.  I have toyed with making a tank because it would be less of a commitment, no sleeves.  I only toyed with the idea until last spring a good friend ask me to make her a top for her.  I would have liked to put her off instead of failing at the task, but she had been so supportive  last winter when I was struggling through my father's illness.  She sent me cards, flowers, and photos of her dog, making me smile when smiles were few and far between.  If anyone was worth the challenge, she was. 

I found a basic pattern in KnitSimple ( ) and thought maybe?  In late may I started knitting, and knitting, and knitting.  Somewhere on the front V neck I started to be wracked by doubt.  I the neckline looked weird and if I failed, I was afraid she would think I was an awful knitter and an ungrateful friend.  My knitting confidence was at an all time low, I found working on the tank to be an exercise in failure.  This pattern was never going to look right, I told myself.  I even quit knitting for a couple of weeks because I just knew this project was a fiasco. 
Finally, I gave up on the doubt and my mantra, "Just keepon  knitting!"  Once I sat down and started again, I decided if I just do this project I can get on with my life. 

After much forced knitting and many mental pep talks, I finally had both front and back pieces were done.  Sandy at Knitorious helped me sew my pieces together teaching me the mattress stitch. I picked up the neck and armhole stitches followed by I-cord bind offs.  I had some problem with armholes they were just too big.  I decreased to cinch them up, but in the end I think I should have decreased a little more.

Tank on fabulous supermodel, Beloved Cuz

The tank is done and the garment given with all my hope and fretting knitted into each stitch.  I have no idea how the item was received or if it even fit (cross your fingers for me).  I can only say that I have completed my first piece of clothing and like so many other things it was a life lesson in perseverance.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding Piccadilly at Manhattan

 As I have mentioned before Thursdays are special nights for my beloved cuz and me.  We like to eat good food and unwind from our work week.  Both of us keep our ears open for any mention of good restaurants and this week we found a keeper.  One of my most annoying customers was talking about this place, Piccadilly at Manhattan ( )on the edge of  the county and city line.

He told me I could never find it so I would have to take him.  Silly customer, I work for a library, I know how to find things.  The gauntlet was thrown down and good food as my prize, I was up to the challenge.

 With a little care reading street signs, we found ourselves standing outside this charming, clematis covered, neighborhood restaurant.  I stepped inside and felt as if I had stepped into a the Ellendale Neighborhood's private little Brigadoon.  I saw people step out of their homes cross the street and walk in to be greeted as if they were family.  The restaurant was clean, bright, and very welcoming.  We were told to sit anywhere and choose the Bob Dylan table next to the window.

 The menu was simple, unpretentious and full of reasonably priced comfort food.  I chose the fried chicken with mash potatoes and green beans.  Cuz decided on the meatloaf.  We sipped our freshly brewed ice tea, knitted a row on our projects, getting excited as we saw our fellow diners meals come out.  The special was a Fred Flinstone sized rack of ribs, and the cheeseburger was a beauty of two stacked patties and lots of melting cheese.  Our food came out fairly quickly, steaming and smelling like heaven.  I am very picky about my fried chicken and I was stunned, I had four very crispy pieces.  The breading was not too salty and the meat tender and moist.  The mashed potatoes were the real mccoy and the green beans just like my grandma use to make.  I fell on that plate like a wild thing.  Cuz was equally as enthusiastic with her meatloaf.  I am not a meatloaf fan, but I am here to tell you that was some awesome meatloaf.  The slice had a good savory flavor with a firm, but juicy texture. The only complaint we had was that we both wished we had a biscuit to sop up all of your very tasty gravy.

With such a good meal we decided on a very decadent dessert, chocolate cheesecake mousse.  What a little luscious dish that was.  We left the restaurant feeling full and very happy. I kept turning around as we walked to the car, expecting the building to disappear into the mist.  Wonderful meal, and after all that food we spent just at $30 for both of us. Definitely the sort of evening that sooths away some of the rough edges of the work week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cleaning Out My Closet

Last weekend sucked.  I felt since I was at a low point I should dig down and really wallow in my misery.  With gritted teeth and a mobile clothing rack I plunged in cleaned out the closet.  I tried on almost every piece of clothing I owned.  I managed to get rid of a significant mound of clothes that no longer fit my curvaceous frame.

I found this process so very hard, this purge was a painful trip down memory lane.  My leather mini skirt that Natalie had made for me, my cream lace shirt I wore to the bar that turned heads, stacks of pants and shirts all removed.  I had to let it all go, I needed the space, I needed to not think about all the clothes in my closet I could no longer wear. 

The deed is done, the items dispersed, and I have space for new clothes.  However, I don't want new clothes.  I want the space, I want to keep things simple and uncluttered.  Okay, maybe a little less cluttered.  If  only I could keep my life a little less cluttered.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grasshopper 1994-2010

Last night when I heard her cries of pain, I knew it was time to let go of my cat, Grasshopper  Like everything else about her nothing was ever easy.  She was and remained to the end a difficult creature.  I knew this from the first day I got her and after sixteen years she went to the great kitty beyond pissed off and ready to do some serious damage.

I have always loved cats and it is a rare thing for a cat not to like me, so it is with heavy heart that I confess Grasshopper only tolerated me.  I was the person that feed her, gave her water, and when she was in the mood I was allowed to rub her behind the ears.  She did not like people, other cats, dogs, loud noises, the vet, wet cat food, and just about everything else.  I tried over the years to ingratiate myself to her, but only when she wanted something would she even consent to recognize I even existed.

The staff at the vets knew her as "that scary cat."  They could only work on her after she had been knocked unconscious.  Any treatment was done very quickly so they could get her in a cage before the anesthetic wore off.  This morning they all came through to pay their respect to the cat that always got the "use caution" sticker on her kennel.  I heard her howls of anger as they prepared her for the end, it only made me sob harder.

Despite her prickly behavior and aloof demeanor, I loved her very much.  She made me work harder to be a good pet parent. I had to learn to give with no expectations of any return of that care.  I was her companion, not the other way around and I am humbled by her spirit of independance even to the very end.  Her chair, the only thing I think she really loved, sits empty, I will miss the indifferent presence that sat there, not needing anything, but herself to be content.