Sunday, January 31, 2010

There's no place like home!

I love to travel and I do as much of it as time and budget allow. The return trip, however, always kicks my butt, especially going from 85° to 32°. I'm feeling the humidity difference, too. Denver seems dry as a bone compared to Jamaica. Yeah, tough problem to have.

I didn't knit as much as I'd planned to, but what little I did was really fun (see my previous post). In between flights, I got a text from my tennis friend--she knit on her plane ride home, so it seems she's addicted now. Almost finished my hat on the plane. Not sure if I have it in me to knit the last little bit today, so I'll leave you with a few beach-y type photos and hopefully post some knitting stuff in the next day or two. I'm under strict orders not to post certain vacation photos on my facebook page, so of course I'm firing up PhotoShop for a little bit of, shall we say, enhancement. Certain People, you are soooo busted! I do accept blackmail payments via PayPal, however. Gotta start saving for next year's trip.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yaman, I want to knit!

Day six of my Jamaica tennis trip found me and my bff in the bar--I know that's hard to believe, but one does what one can. At that point, any activity that involved my butt in a chair was fantastic. I know it's a tennis trip, but enough already. I have aching body parts I didn't even remember I have, and a little recovery knitting was just what the doctor ordered. Bff and I were chillin' with a couple of cold Red Stripes, watching ESPN. While she read, I worked on a hat. We'd had a lot of fun with one of the waiters from dinner a few nights ago, and when he walked through the bar on the way to his shift, he stopped to chat with us. He asked about my knitting and I jokingly asked if he wanted to learn. Imagine my surprised when he plopped into the chair next to me and held out his hands. Cool! I showed him how to hold the yarn, then demonstrated the knit and purl stitches and away he went. Here's some photos of Giovanni, taken with my iPhone.

I had to tink his entire row, but it was so much fun to teach him. He caught on immediately, and while I have a feeling he won't be doing much knitting in the future, I think it's a nice memory for both of us. Just call me the Knitting Ambassador, spreading the love all over the world. More later.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Passing the torch

Greeting from Jamaica! My friends and I are playing lots of tennis and enjoying the local culture and sights. I've bought some Blue Mountain coffee and the required Bob Marley t-shirt, but it hasn't been all about hedonism. Last week, before we left Denver, one of my tennis buddies requested a knitting lesson. How cool is that?

It did get me to thinking, however. Am I a good enough knitter to try and teach someone else? Am I a good teacher? I've really focussed on my knitting the last couple of years--classes, knitting workshops, books and videos, a vast number of projects. Yet, there's still so much I don't know. Until last week, I had never even heard of the Italian cast-on. Am I kidding myself here?

I brought along a basic book, some yarn, and an assortment of needles. We had a bit of rain yesterday, so my friend and I found some comfortable chairs on a covered veranda, and before we knew it, two hours had flown by. She already knew how to cast on, and also the knit stitch. I taught her to purl and the two-by-two rib. We talked about gauge and swatches and staying relaxed. Tomorrow she's going to try knitting in the round and maybe start a hat, and I think she's really enjoying herself. She told several others in our group that I'm a good teacher, which made me happy. I hope I did a good job.

Teaching someone to knit is such an enjoyable experience--satisfying in a way that goes beyond knitting itself. I'm glad I'm able to help my friend with her knitting, even if I'm unsure of my teaching abilities. I know I'm not even in the same universe as the Yarn Harlots or the Ann Budds of the world, but it gives me a sense of belonging, a sense of giving back to an art that has given me so much. I like that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The knit goes on...

The Ravelympic super-secret test socks are finished. Clearly, I have some work to do. This was an experiment, and I learned plenty, so I can't call it a loss. The pattern needs work, no doubt.

Here's a linky to the SAM KAL I'm doing--you can see the finished socks. It's my second year and it sure helped out with the holiday gifts. You commit to knitting a pair of socks a month and by December, you have a pretty good dent in the knitted gifts list. Zonda, Karen, and ChelseaD, you rock!

Meanwhile, Golden Apples is working hard, coming up with a pattern I whined for inquired about. Check it out, and maybe buy the pattern when it's up. It's for a good cause. Thanks!

By this time tomorrow kids, I'll be sipping an umbrella drink in Jamaica. It's mainly a tennis trip, but one of my tennis buddies has asked me to teach her to knit a ski hat. I'm happy to do it and I just have one question--is this tax deductible? Will try to post some photos. Later!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We need more goat udders!

Cat Bordhi seriously cracks me up. How do you watch her youtube knitting videos and NOT laugh your ass off, and oh yeah, learn something? I needed a refresher course on Judy's Magic Cast-On for my super-secret Ravelympic test socks, and immediately thought of Cat. In this video, she also gives a few tips on knitting socks two at a time on two circulars, which I absolutely love. If you're thinking of learning this method, here's an important tip--learn the difference between cow udders and goat udders. I'll say no more. Just watch the video.

I adore Judy's Magic Cast-On. It is fabulous for toe-up socks. See for yourselves:

There's no seam, no bumpy stuff to bother sensitive toes. It really is magic. The legend goes like this: Judy was laid up, sick as a dog (or goat, if you like) and this revolutionary cast-on just came to her, like a vision. The only thing I can see when I'm sick is the television. Judy Becker, I bow to your skills. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I think I can, I think I can...

I’ve always been fascinated by people who choose to live in harsh environments, like the Arctic Circle, the Sahara Desert, or a city without a Starbucks. Not that I’m soft or anything—I’ve actually seen one of these up close, and almost used it. But the older I get, the less inclined I am to go out of my way to be uncomfortable.

Golden Apples has a friend who lived waaay up north, near the Arctic Circle. While she and I seem to share the same aversion to changing the litter box, the similarities most likely end there. The cold climate probably doesn’t faze her; I would mostly likely be miserable and want to spend every waking moment knitting warm things to wear. She, on the other hand, sounds like a very responsible person. I’m sure if she owned a dog, she’d take way better care of it than I would:

Dog: Put down the damn knitting and take me out!

Me: What do you mean? I just took you out yesterday. I’m right in the middle of a row! Grow some thumbs and let yourself out!

But I like to think I’m not a total wuss. While “experience more pain and suffering” is something I crossed off my bucket list years ago, I do try to stretch myself, and learn new things. I want my knitting to reflect that, but many times, I find myself taking the easy way out. I see a photo of a cute hat and sprint on over to Ravelry and look for a pattern. Why not just cast on and try to do it myself? Put on the big-girl panties and go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? I frog a bunch of times until I come up with something I like. Lots easier than walking a dog in the tundra.

I don’t consider sites such as Ravlery to be a crutch, though. I’ve gained so much knowledge from so many of the knitters who hang out there. It’s bound to rub off sooner or later. One day I’ll write those patterns myself, and hopefully be brave enough to post them, but I’ll always look to the Golden Apples of the world—they inspire and teach. Then there are all the new knitting friends I’ve made—but that’s another post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Channeling my inner Vinko Bogataj*

The 2010 Olympics are just around the corner, so it's Ravelympics time again. I'm quite excited about it, since this will be my first time participating. Maybe I need to get out more, but hey! What says excitement more than thousands of knitters getting together and knitting our fingers bloody for two weeks of intense competition for no reason other than because we can?

I'm competing in Sock Hockey, with Team Blue Moon's Rockin' Sock Club. I'd tell you the name of my pattern, but then I'd have to kill you--it's that big. Not wanting to be a tease, here's a little taste of what's to come.

Training is tough. My test pair of socks is toe-up, so that I can make use of every single inch of yarn and because one of Ravelympics' rules is to stretch my knitting skills, go where this knitter has never gone before. I'm a little schooled in toe-up, but I don't recall ever knitting a pair of lace socks of my own invention. I figure I'll either know the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. (Do NOT give me that look. You know you saw it coming.) If it has gold metal potential, this pair will end up as a gift. If they don't make the cut but are wearable, they'll end up in my sock drawer.

I can't knowing give a sub-par pair of socks to anybody, even if they don't knit. That's just bad Karma. I don't mind ripping up and starting fresh, but if a less-than-perfect, completed pair of socks doesn't make me queasy, I keep them and happily wear them. I can accept my own mistakes, I just can't inflict them on someone I like. And I only give hand-knitted gifts to someone I like. If I've given you a knitted gift, it's the dog equivalent of rolling over on my back and showing you my belly. I'll spare you the photos.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rant on...telemarketing

I realize there are sh*t jobs in the world and somebody has to do them. I'm grateful it's not me--being the mom of a teenager, and a cat owner, is as close as I want to get. But really, Telemarketing Company. I'm on the National Do Not Call Registry. It means that you DO NOT GET TO CALL ME. I'm not blaming the poor schmuck with the headset on. You're just trying to make enough money so that you don't have to ask for 57 packets of ketchup with your Extra Jumbo Meal and use them for spaghetti sauce the next day. I understand that. It's your bosses who make me wish I could bitch-slap somebody through the phone line. I've had four calls today. I pity the poor fool who's number five.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hot Grandma--yeah, that's me.

Hot flashes, that is. I'm thinking it would be wise to stick to cardigans and shawls for a while. Makes it so much easier to rip your clothes off quickly. Fortunately, I've got the Woodland Shawl on the circulars right now. I love this pattern--it's easy without being boring. Making pretty good progress, too. I'm taking a leap of faith, however, and continuing on with Cottage Garden. Love the double picot hem. Hopefully, by the time I finish it, I'll be finished with flashing too. Otherwise, I'll find a thin t-shirt to wear under it, and just deal. Check me out on Ravelry, if you swing that way. I'm Jellidonut.

I'm not officially a grandmother until there is an actual pooping, drooling baby, but I'm already stalking patterns and feeling up yarns. I adore Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket--his use of the tweedy grays is so sophisticated. But this blanket will be for a Minnesota baby, where the winters go on for-freaking-ever. Should I go for something a little brighter? Or jewel tones? The one thing I won't do is the standard, bland baby pink or baby blue. I don't think I could stand to look at that much pink or blue for that much garter stitch.

Baby is due mid July, so I have plenty of time. Yes, I know. That's what I said about last year's holiday knitting. And the two baby blankets I made for the back-to-back baby showers last year. And my mother's birthday socks. You get the picture.


By now, you've been inundated with requests to help. I committed to a monthly donation to Doctors Without Borders. Do what works best for you, just don't get suckered into some scam. You know they'll be out there sooner or later. Anybody who would use this tragedy as a way to rip off people needs to be put on an express elevator to Hell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's alive!

I love blogs. Every morning, after checking my email, you can find me with a cup of coffee and my trusty MacBook, checking out my favorite blogs. I spend time with the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, and the NYTimes. Ravelry gets a fair share of my attention too, but it's blogs that make my day. I've listed some of my favorites, but I'm always on the lookout for something new.

The web is a big place. I think there's room for one more blog. Here's mine, to read or ignore, love or hate. There'll be stuff about knitting, of course, since I'm a fiber addict. I'm about to become a grandparent for the first time and how could I NOT blog about that. But since Heather Armstrong does funny kid stuff way better than I ever will, I'll leave most of that to her. I'll be naughty at times, but won't go out of my way to offend or hurt. Yes, I say bad words, but I'll try to keep it to stuff your average middle schooler would use. I'm all about leeway! That's the way I'll monitor any comments--amuse me, inform me, but don't hate on me and we'll get along just fine.

Thanks for stopping by.