Saturday, August 30, 2014

Building Block #8

I have finished Building Block #8.  After last months mock cable block, which I loved, I found this month's block to be kind of boring.  It was a slip stitch pattern, and I like a slip stitch pattern in a ball band dishcloth, but not so much this pattern.  However it knitted up quick and I only have 4 more blocks to go.  Color me excited to think this project is 2/3 finish.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tied Up In Crochet

Over a decade ago I purchased a tie dyed tee shirt.  It was a rainbow of colors and I just loved it.  Many weekends and vacation days were spent in that shirt.  Natalie liked it when I wore the shirt because she could spot me in a crowd.  I was disappointed that after a decade of hard wear my beloved tee shirt gave up on me ripping out under both arms.  I was thinking about tossing the shirt, but remembered my friend Suzanne was teaching a class on how to make tee shirt yarn and crochet it into a basket.  I knew in theory how to make the yarn so with my fancy scissors Lenora gave me and a ruler I cut my shirt up.  I ended up making a ball of very colorful yarn and a need to learn to crochet a basket.

First I want to say I am a knitter, not a crocheter.  There is nothing wrong with crochet, I just have limited skill in that arena.  I do have a desire to be more proficient with a crochet hook, but not really the drive to practice the skill.  Here was an opportunity to get my crochet on and spend some time with the always patient Suzanne.

I ended up doing a 1 on 1 class with Suzanne and she got me hooking along.  As you know I am a go big or go home kind of girl and after I finished my ball of tie dyed tee shirt yarn I realized I wanted a bigger basket.  Suzanne congenially offered to cut up a second shirt for me with her speedy rotary cutter saving me from the slower scissor method.  With the second ball and more help from Suzanne I finished up my lovely, crocheted basket.  I know it is not perfect and working that size P hook was awkward to my knit trained hands, but I still have my old tee shirt repurposed into to something else I will love.  Thanks Suzanne!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Burning Down the Couch

I have not been blogging the last couple of weeks because I felt anything I may have blogged about was trivial compared to the tragic events happening in my community.  The situation has been heartbreaking and painful for everyone in the metropolitan St Louis area and our country.  I have been appalled by the violence and hate which has been perpetuate by the press landing on our city en mass as we have become the media event of the month.  I have stopped participating in the media blitz putting my attention towards the other things like my job, my friends, my family and my beautiful wife.  I am moving forward with the hope that others will as well.  Back to the trivia which makes my life worthwhile for me.

Today my beautiful wife wanted to take me to a vintage mall called The Green Shag Market(  We had a great time and saw some fun things.  We were also impressed with the reasonable prices.  Everything was going well until I rounded a corner and saw this couch.  A black, brushed, upholstery monstrosity which was first couch I every remember having.

Who would think a couch could evoke such a torrent of toddler emotions, but it does.  My mother hated this inherited piece of furniture.  She hated it so much that one day she dragged the couch out of our house and into the field behind our house.  She then doused the couch with lighter fluid and set it on FIRE!  I remember watching the thing being consumed by flames while plumes of black smoke billowed heavenward.  It was amazing.  Periodically she would poke at the couch with either a hoe or a rake and it would send sparks flying.  Again, I say amazing. 

About the time the couch had burned down to a carcass of wood and metal my dad came home.  My brother ran to his car and said, "Mom burned the couch."  My dad walked to about 5 feet from the fire and gave my mother his head down, I am judging you stare.  He said nothing, but I am sure he looked at the skeleton of the still burning couch and thought he was lucky it was not him in that fire.

The burning couch was a seminal moment for me.  I learned that things can be burned and it stuck in my forming consciousness.  For many months after that whenever I was asked things like, "What did you do with your other shoe?"  or "Where are your manners?" 

I had a ready answer, "I burned it with the couch."  I used that answer so much my father forbid me to say it.  I started just saying I burned it.  This answer got even more awkward for my parents because I would say it in front of other people.  I remember one woman cautioning my mother about leaving matches laying around for children to play with.

Years later as a teenager I would hear the song, "Burning down the House," by the Talking Heads.  I would mentally change it to burning down the couch.  I have even used the line on my beautiful wife a few times.  Today as I rounded the corner at Green Shag and saw this couch I stopped dead in my tracks.  I pointed and said, "Natalie it is the couch, the couch my mother burned."  People started staring and she tried to move me along, but I couldn't let the moment pass without a photo and time to savor the memory of seeing one of its brethren on fire.

As ugly as that couch was, it left a life time of answers for me.  The next time anyone asks me where something is I can now say, "In the couch at Green Shag." 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Deborah Harkness and The Book of Life

Once again Deborah Harkness stopped by St Louis on her latest tour for The Book of Life.  Since we had so much fun last time she was in town (, my friend Kim F (not Kim G or C) and I decided to repeat the experience.  We were not disappointed.  Harkness was just as delightful as I remember.  This time she was talking about the last book in the her All Souls Trilogy: The Book of Life.  She was very keen to not give any secrets away on her new book, and neither am I, but she read from the first couple of chapters.  She talked about writing her books and answered questions too.

Deborah Harkness Working the Crowd
One of the topics another fan brought up was how does it feel to be successful female scholar and novelist.  Harkness loved this question and said she hoped her success inspired other women to not be afraid of being an over achiever.  I found her encouraging words refreshing in a world that does not always embrace feminism.  Also, when asked how many languages she knew she reeled off about 8 languages, mostly romance languages, but she did also know some Finnish and German.  Impressive.  I felt so lucky to have a second opportunity to bask in her intellect and charming personality.

Deborah Harkness and Tempest
When I had the opportunity to talk to her as she was signing my copy of her book I made it a point to thank her for including married same-sex characters as part of the normal tapestry of the books.  She said, "I wanted to include couples at all stages of a relationship."  I was just happy that the LGBTQ characters were there. 

Now to finish the final book and find out what happens to our cast of vampires, witches, demons, and humans.   Excited, but no spoilers for you.

(Also as an aside, it was so nice to see so many people I knew from my library days.  I miss them all so much).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kitchen Warming

A Basket Full of Dishcloths
A kitchen remodel is a good time to update kitchen linens.  Our good friends Kim & Barb ( recently updated their kitchen, and I felt they need new matching linens.  They actually spent most of the spring with no kitchen while the contractor didn't work on the stripped down room that use to be the heart of the house.  But patience and time rewarded them with a shiny, newly equipped.  Early on in the process I asked, repeatedly, what color are you painting the walls.  I am sure they got tired of hearing me ask.  One visit to their home yielded the paint sample.  A red kitchen it was.

French Stripped Tea Towel
Tabbed Tea Towel

My beautiful wife, Natalie, was convinced to join me in my secret project to knit some new kitchen towels and dishcloths for our friends.  We started in our stash and found scant red yarn to work with, but we soon had some red cotton and linen yarns on our needles.  We knit dishcloths, tea towels, a tabbed towel, a tawashi and a table runner.  Much red yarn was used.

Dishcloths Knitted by Natalie
I noticed a pattern for little, knitted, scrubby things called tawashi (unsure if that is the singular or plural).  I decided to knit one of those with the scrap yarn. It was a quick little knit, too.  I also made a pinwheel dishcloth out of the linen leftovers.  The tawashi was a success, the pinwheel dishcloth, not so much.  I was just about finished with the pinwheel when I noticed my dishcloth had a decidedly boob like look.  I was so close to being done I thought okay, too late to stop, I had to accept I knitted a boob.

Heart Shaped Tawashi
I had also thought to knit some placemats for our friends.  I had a pattern and some great, clearance yarn for my placemats.  Strangely, the yarn decided it did not want to be placemats, but a very showy table runner.  Who was I to say no, runner it was, with a lovely and time consuming I-cord edge to boot. 

Boob like Pinwheel Dishcloth
Yesterday, I amassed our knitted linens for Kim & Barb and was surprised we had knitted so much.  I mentioned to Natalie that we might have overdone it a bit.  She laughed and said wasn't that normal for us.  I only hope our friends have enough room in their new cabinets for all the kitchen towels and dishcloths we knitted.  We wish them much good dish washing in their newly redone kitchen.

Ballband Dishcloth