The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dreaming of Stardom

Mr. K is home safely from San Francisco, and he came bearing Ghiradelli chocolate and a new baseball hat (I’m not a baseball fan—but I’m a huge fan of having something to stuff onto my head when I go out running so I don’t look like an escapee of Arkham Asylum). Not that he had to bring anything other than his sweet self. I’m just happy to have him home with me again. We went out for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant (if there’s anything that tastes better than warm tortilla chips dipped in warm refried beans, well, I don’t want to know about it because I don’t think I could take that much pleasure) and now he’s out in his metal shop and it’s the kind of chill, gray Autumn day that fairly demands that you sit by the fire and knit. My elbow is as uncooperative as ever but I think if I completely ignore the pain it will almost certainly get tired of bothering me and go away. (I feel certain that I’ll get in to nursing school with that kind of stellar medical reasoning, don’t you?)

I also have the cooking channel on for company, not because I really believe I’ll ever be able to produce those lovely, perfectly arranged plates of goodness, but because I drool with envy at the thought of having a kitchen where I don’t have to wipe up spills, don’t have to wash dishes, don’t have to measure ingredients, and can simply pull a completed meal out of the oven without ever waiting for it to cook. Oh, and can consider items like capers, fresh herbs, orange flower water, and water chestnuts to be pantry staples. How nice would that be? I do think, however, that the public isn’t really ready for any cooking show I might be able to host. I mean, how often do you really wish for shows like:

“Ways With Boxed Macaroni and Cheese”
“Chocolate—it’s not Just for Breakfast!”
“Dump Some More Wine in it and Maybe No One Will Notice” (dump some more wine in the guests and they definitely won’t)
“It’s Not Burned, it’s Cajun Style”
“Eggshells Add Calcium to a Dish”
“Frozen Pizza Made Slightly Palatable”
“Starving Dinner Guests are Less Picky”
“White Sauce: It Hides a Multitude of Sins”
“Anything Can Be Casserole if You’re Persuasive Enough”
“How to Blame Guests for Nearly Any Culinary Disaster”
“Dessert First? Why Not Instead?”
“It’s Just a Cat Hair—Don’t Be Such a Baby.”
“How Many Courses Does Anyone Need, Anyway?”
“It’s Supposed to Taste Like That”
“Homemade: Why?”
“There’s No Proof That the Pilgrims Didn’t Eat Hot Dogs and Frozen Tater Tots”
“You Say Cheap, Frozen Crap Like it’s a Bad Thing”
“Formal Potluck Dinner Parties—Don’t Knock ‘em”
“Pot Roast or Shoe Leather—Ways to Tell the Difference”
“The Five Second Rule and How to Make it Work for You”
“Children in the Kitchen. Let Them Take the Blame”
“Don’t Forget to Hide the Cans and Boxes (and other tips for perfect dinner parties)”
“The Smoke Alarm Need Not Be a Timer”
“If it Tastes Just Like Chicken, Serve the Damned Chicken”
“Canned, Shmanned—if They Don’t Like it, Don’t Invite Them Back”
“Practicing Your Poker Face (“No…..mine tastes fine…why”)”
“You’re Not Really a Cook Until You’ve Given One Person Food Poisoning”
“If the Cat Won’t Eat it, You May Not Want to Serve it”
“Cleavage: How Distracting Dinner Guests May Improve Their Memory of the Meal”
“Just Because Ina Garten Does it, Doesn’t Mean You Can….or Should”
“Peanut Butter and Jelly Made Elegant”
“Just Stir it, Add Cream, and Call it Fondue”
“Lumps Give a Dish Character”
“What’s a Vegetable Peeler? And Why Would Anyone Use it?”
“If You Can Ladle it, it Can be Soup”
“Tablescapes? Are you Crazy?”
“How Busily Patterned Plates Can Work to Confuse Your Guests”
“Who Says Ketchup isn’t a Vegetable?”
“Shove a Wooden Skewer in it and Throw it on the Barbecue—At Least It’ll Look Good.”
"No One is too Good for Spaghetti-o's"
“Cooking is an Art, and I’m No Artist”

And so on. I can bake okay….but cooking may not be absolutely my greatest talent. Mr. K is still alive, but he has a strong constitution.

I’m going to snuggle back down and try to knit some more. The biggest problem with that damned Bianca jacket is that that parts mostly go so quickly that it always feels like you’re almost there….just a bit more. And an obsessive like me can’t possibly put it down when it’s so close…..can I?

Friday, September 29, 2006

It Ain't Just a River in Egypt

Da Nile, I mean. And I can be pretty sure about that, because I’m planted firmly in that place and I don’t see no pyramids. Or alligators, either, as far as that goes. I am driven to this place by—of all things-- my elbow. My right elbow, to be more precise, and I can say I’m more than a little disappointed in it. Or would be, if I wasn’t in da Nile.

See, I started getting tendonitis in my left elbow a couple of years ago while helping the (at that point) not yet Mr. K cut up fallen trees on his property. (Which project led to his famous comment that the sexiest thing a woman can wear is work clothes, I might add.) I babied it and the right one responded by going south in a big way. Since then the right elbow has gotten occasionally cranky but, like the mature, trained medical professional I am, I have chosen to firmly ignore it. (If you’re a medical person, or you’re close to a medical person—you know. There isn’t one of us who couldn’t lop off a finger while carving the Thanksgiving turkey, explain breezily that it’s “just a scratch”, stick everything back together with bandaids, and go right back to the dinner. I can’t explain it, but those of you in the know—tell me I’m wrong). The point of all this being that my elbow is absolutely NOT killing me today, is not aching and throbbing mercilessly, and I certainly am not unable to pick anything up. Definitely. And, if it was hurting (which it isn’t, it really, really isn’t), it wouldn’t have anything whatsoever to do with the 2.5 hours I spent last night knitting on the yoke of Bianca (which, by the way, is a tad bit heavy once all five pieces are on the needles, if anyone was curious…not that this caused any negative reaction in me, whatsoever. Just saying.) And when I was driving to school today, the only reason I drove with my left hand while resting my right arm gingerly on the console between the seats was because, being right handed, I feel that my right arm has been unfairly burdened with an unequal distribution of work. That is, it has had to write, feed me, throw things, and otherwise work itself ragged, while the left arm has been allowed to lay around on its ass and do nothing. Which observation does suggest that I may not know my ass from my elbow, now that I’m reading it……but I digress. My point is that I think it’s high time my left arm began to pull its weight. Is all I’m saying. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with the right one. Not one thing. There is no reason whatsoever that I would need to stop or even slow down my knitting.

Here’s how much I got done on Bianca with my perfectly healthy hands and elbows:

(the cow is one of my strange cow collection that I put in there for a bit of visual interest…. and because I can’t help it. They’re just intrinsically funny.) That lacy bit you can see in the front is the edge of a sleeve. I’m hoping to have the sort of self control and discipline that will lead me to actually finish a shawl and some socks before casting on anything else…..I’ve heard of that sort of behavior. And, of course, the Samus cardigan is not calling me in much the say way that my elbow is not whining and tugging at me like a three-year-old with a runny nose.

ANYWAY, the ladies of my knit group were lovely, of course. I meant to take photos, but somehow completely spaced it. Brain still full of statistics, I think. We have a very open sort of group for crafts of all sorts, so we had two ladies doing counted cross stitch (I wish I had the patience but every time I try it I start feeling like I’ll need to learn Braille if I keep it up) and a couple more making tutus for their respective daughters. Gracie decided to help by attempting to steal the tulle, but this stopped at once as soon as Barbara gave her a piece of her own. Gracie only likes toys if she isn’t supposed to have them. Giving her anything will completely ruin it for her. Little minx.

Mr. K has been out of town all week, but is returning tonight---which I’m very excited about as I’ve missed him terribly. I was going to have the neighbor come hog the remote control and push me out of bed, but it just wouldn’t have been the same. (I’m kidding, Sweetie—you know I am!) Mr. K says he’s bringing back a set of books about anti microbials, and I’m excited about that, too, because that’s what kind of weird science nerd I am. Speaking of science (which we sort of were), guess what nurse-y type knit blogger got 10 points out of 10 points on her A & P quiz this week? (Whattya mean, "who?" Me! It was me!! I got a 100 on a Statistics quiz, too, but that didn’t really fit the segue as well.)

I’m off to go put some ice on my perfectly fine elbow, because….uhrm…..because….oh, I know--because it’s hot in here and I’ve heard that a cool elbow means a cool body. That’s it. But first, since my new Femail Creations catalogue came today, I must leave you with my new favorite quote (which they sell on a plaque): “Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting holy shit…what a ride!” Ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know....

I saw on a couple of different blogs that people had chosen to list “knitterly things” that readers might not know about them. I’m not sure if I can think of that many knitterly things that would truly be of interest….but I decided it might be fun to try. Here, the untold story—every knitterly thing you ever wanted to know about Ms. Knitingale, but were afraid I’d tell you….and tell you….and tell you…..

1. I am told that I have a very strange knitting style—more than one experienced knitter has been known to stare fixedly at my hands while I work, and I swear I can almost hear brain cells rupturing as they try to figure out what in the world I could possibly be doing. And why.
2. Which leads to this: I taught myself to knit when I was 18, sitting on the couch with a knitting encyclopedia on my left, and a pattern on my right. And a very troubled facial expression in the middle. This could easily explain number one.
3. The first item I ever knitted was a pair of blue baby overalls. With button plackets on the sides. And a swan worked into the bib in white. Seriously. I have no explanation for this other than a) I was such a knitting innocent that I believed that if you could knit, you could knit anything (and I’ll even admit that I still believe this for the most part) and b) I didn’t particularly want a knitted dishcloth or scarf. They actually turned out pretty well.
4. The scarves I knitted out of Fun Fur a couple of years ago are actually the first scarves I ever knitted. Truly.
5. I am vehemently opposed to knitted skirts of any kind…..possibly because of disturbing memories of the sweater/skirt outfit I knitted back in 1986. The skirt was red with a slit up the back. And a bow above the slit. That kind of thing can scar a person for life.
6. I once entered two knitted baby outfits in the Spokane Interstate Fair, blue ribboning on one and red on the other.
7. I’m still annoyed that I didn’t notice that tiny flaw on the outfit that got a red ribbon until it was too late.
8. I crocheted before I knitted, (Momma Knitingale taught me) and made myself a big, square afghan that was not much more than a giant granny square. I kept it folded at the foot of my bed until my cat ate all the fringe off of it.
9. For sweaters, I generally dislike things with many colors, both to knit and to wear. Which is odd, because when I was working at a clinic I sewed most of my own scrubs in colors and patterns that could wake a person from a coma (medically very useful, I think). Here, some favorites:

The tie-dye pattern has pants in the same fabric; I just decided I was too lazy to take them off the hanger for the photo op.
10. I adore patterns formed with stitches—cables, lace—you name it. Love making it, love wearing it. Only one exception: I have an unreasonable bias against bobbles. I don’t understand that…but I really don’t like them. Perhaps my mother was frightened by one while pregnant with me….?
11. I’m all for creativity with patterns and suchlike, but I nearly gave up cardigan making entirely due to patterns that say “mark places for six buttons evenly spaced on button band. Make buttonholes to correspond to the markings.” WHAT??? I think only someone who hates knitters and loves math could have come up with that. Give me a pattern that tells me exactly where to put the buttonholes, and I’ll be happy to line up the buttons to match.
12. I detest weaving in ends. Absolutely loathe it. So, on garments that are intended for me, I am often guilty of leaving some ends just hangin’ out, whenever I think they won’t show.
13. I also detest swatching AND NEVER, EVER DO IT. (Some of you may wish to go lie down….go ahead. And feel free to skip ahead in the post if this part makes you feel faint..) And I know that this is tempting the knitting gods and believe me when I say that when they come for me, I will go quietly and accept the punishment that I so richly deserve. I will whine only minimally. Promise.
14. I am unreasonably fond of mohair. I have no idea why—I only know that I can rarely pass it up. It throws itself shamelessly at me in yarn stores. I keep trying to end it, to tell it that the other yarns are getting suspicious, that we can’t go on this way… no avail.
15. I have never understood the attraction to holiday sweaters.
16. The fact that my husband does not wear sweaters, scarves, hats, or nearly anything else knitted makes my fingers itch. The socks are only easing this a tiny bit. How can anyone not want a handknit sweater??
17. I am constitutionally incapable of throwing away knitting patterns. Even if they’re so out of style that I’d be on “What Not to Wear” a mere five seconds after putting the finished product on. If anyone is in need of a truckload of 1980’s knitting patterns……
18. I cannot manage to like boucle yarn, no matter what I do, and no matter what it’s made of.
19. I knit pretty much everything on circulars these days….but every so often, I put something on the straights that I purchased way back when I first started knitting (two sets of Aeros in two different lengths) and I always feel a little pang of knitterly love when I see the orderly march of the stitches across the needle. Weird, I know.
20. I would love to make hats…but I absolutely hate to wear them. I need a friend with a cold head. Anyone know any bald guys in my area?
21. And I love to knit while watching these guys:

Okay, so that wasn't something you didn't know. I just can't pass up an opportunity to say "Go Hawks!!!!" (And yes, the jersey belongs to me and not hubby, given to me by none other than Chad Eaton himself, who is a very nice guy.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Brain is Full

And not even with really cool stuff like “how much of that lovely cream alpaca do I have?”, either. No, it’s stuff like this: “We begin this section by first defining exploratory data analysis, then we introduce outliers, 5-number summaries, and boxplots.” Boxplots? I thought this was when someone else got up earlier than I did and got all the good boxes from behind Safeway on my moving day. Apparently not….at least, not according to my Statistics teacher. Anyway, the point is that with my brain so full you’d think I’d have tons of wonderful, witty stuff to pull right out of it for you. However, it seems to be rather like taking one ping-pong ball out of a closet full of them: everything bounces all over everywhere (I was going to say “you get balls everywhere”…but that really didn’t sound right at all.) and you can't find a single thing. With that caveat, I offer you a series of somewhat disconnected thoughts (strange indeed, since I usually am just so incredibly together)

So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and the first thing that jumped into my mind (thanks to the gaggle of teenage girls who passed me on their way out) was that, if a person has to wax a rather….er….shall we say intimate part of their body in order to wear a pair of jeans, wouldn’t you think that might suggest that said jeans are just tad….oh, I don’t know…LOW? . I swear, one sneeze in those pants and the world’s your gynecologist. What’s up with that? (And I’m not just saying that because my own booty would have to be stuffed into such pants with a shoehorn and a brief prayer…).

The second thing that popped into my mind (I know, you’re worried now, aren’t you?) had to do with cat food. The obvious question is how in the world do 5 little fur people who don’t together weigh as much as a 12-year-old manage to eat a truckload of food per week, particularly when the outdoor cats are supplementing with assorted rodents? Of course, I may owe them an apology on that part….it’s possible that mice just aren’t that filling. Maybe it’s like Chinese food and you’re hungry again an hour later. But the second question I had was this: why do they make cat food in little shapes like fish and chicken legs? They bathe with their tongues, for heaven’s sake—is presentation really a big issue for cats? I can just see my own furfolk: “Hey look, Ed—the food smells like chicken lips and cow snot, just the same as always, but it’s shaped like little drumsticks. Must be legs off of the littlest chickens EVER!”

For that matter, who picks the flavors for cat food? If they asked my cats, they’d be making Moth Medley, Yarn Platter, and Dining Room Plant Buffet. The indoor cats, anyway. The outdoor ones would have to have Rodent Loaf and Snake Supreme. (Yep, one of ‘em likes to play with snakes. Gets really ticked off when they stop playing with her, too. Charming animal.)

If my husband keeps sucking spiders up in the shop vac, will the big ones eat the little ones until I have hooved spiders the size of Volkswagons hunting me down in the middle of the night? (Told you—brain is full. Absolutely no room in there for segues, apparently.)

I think the morning news anchors should look like I feel: squinty, cranky, hair all tangled—then I could go shower and make myself look presentable, look at the TV again, and think “Hey, could be worse. I could still look like THAT.” I think that would get my day started on the right foot.

If an afghan can be both a dog and a knitted or crocheted throw, I think we should have a new breed of critter called a “blanket cat”. I know way more knitters with cats than dogs.

A friend of mine once read that it burns more calories to digest celery than are actually in the celery. She then worked out exactly how much celery she would have to eat in order to get a hot fudge sundae for free. I think my friend needed a hobby (God knows she doesn’t need any more celery).

And lastly, what happened to my lovely, crisp autumn? I was promised a reprieve from thin shirts that require particular bras to go underneath them (we’ve discussed my bra drawer—SO not pretty) and having to bare my toes in sandals (hobbit toes--I swear, People, I have hobbit toes). What happened?

See, bright sunny backyard:

And bright sunny frontyard:

It just ain't right.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Spider Dance

Proving, once and for all, that there are more ways than you can possibly imagine for a middle-aged woman to make an ass of herself.

Mr. K and I came home the other night from some errand or other, and I walked into the kitchen to find in the sink a spider, so large that I swear it had hooves. Seriously—have you ever seen those spiders that have little knobs on the ends of their legs? It was one of those. And it was standing in the sink, glowering at me, looking for all the world as if it had a right to be there and would I please stop staring and allow myself to be eaten like a good human? Naturally, I did what you would expect an adult, mature, eloquent person such as myself to do: I dropped everything in my hands and screamed. Loudly. Mr. K came running, fairly certain from the blood-curdling nature of my scream that I must have lost a limb, and looked into the sink. The spider just stood there on its hooves, pulsating malevolently (okay, so I made up that pulsating part, but it looked as if it might have been thinking about pulsating). At which point Mr. K said, “Oh, it’s just a little wolf spider.” (The italics are mine.) And proceeded to squash it with approximately half a roll of paper towels, and probably no small amount of elbow grease. I don’t deny that I half expected the thing to grab Hubby by the arm, swing him around its head several times, and toss him into the dining room. Don’t ask me how a brilliantly intelligent man such as my Mr. K can possibly describe a spider with a full circumference larger than an Oreo cookie (swear to God) as a little anything, but I was supremely grateful to him for dispatching the beast before it applied for its own area code.

All of which goes to indicate my absolutely primal terror of spiders. The delightful Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns knows what I mean, having been invaded by them recently herself(Jo, I’m right there with you). And they’re like horses: they know we're afraid and, I’m quite certain, seek us out for maximum scaring amusement. Which leads me to The Spider Dance.

Each morning, I get up and go downstairs to feed the cats and clean the litterbox. Litterbox cleanings being what they are, I feel compelled to take the bag immediately outside to the trashcan at the back of the house. ¾ of the year, this is no problem. In the Autumn, it is a bit more of a challenge. It goes something like this: I open the door cautiously, leaning slightly back on one foot in case I need to run quickly from a large spider in the doorway. If it looks clear, I will lean slightly forward, examining the doorway more closely. If it looks okay, I will stick my head out a bit and continue to examine the pathway to the trashcan for the enemy. Once satisfied, I will venture out. And precisely two steps later, without fail, I will feel it—the invisible thread of spiderweb across my face. At this point, I’m certain of two things: 1) that the spider is clearly in the neighborhood somewhere and 2) she is likely to be extraordinarily pissed off that I just trashed her house/leftover storage facility. Moreover, I have more than a passing thought that she may even now be perched on the back of my head, contemplating her vengeance. Clearly, I want her off; however, just as clearly, I don’t want to accidentally touch her because then I’ll have to cut my hand off and I haven’t figured out how to knit one-handed. So I dance. I leap about frantically from foot to foot, brushing ineffectually at the air around the back of my head and generally looking like a complete and total dork. Frantic, half screams are often included. I also flap my clothes in case she is clinging grimly to the hem of my t-shirt, waiting for the earthquake to stop so that she may continue plotting her revenge. Folks, it is just so attractive and appealing—especially with the wild hair and bare feet—that you just wouldn’t believe it. Don’t you wish you lived in my neighborhood?

The fact that I do this every day suggests something about my learning speed that I’d rather not consider at present. However, I HAVE considered how this might look from the spider’s point of view (besides multiplied by all those nasty little eyes). ‘Cause, a spider spins a web to catch food, right? I can just imagine the conversation:

Spider #1, from back of my head: “Hey, Bob—look what I caught! It’s freaking huge!”
Spider #2: “Wow, what the hell is it?”
Spider #1: “I don’t know….but more important, how am I gonna EAT all of it???”

It’s so comforting to think of one’s self as a spider leftover. If only they used Tupperware….I’m pretty sure I’d see a Tupperware bowl before I ran into it.

In other news:

Bianca: back, left front, right front, one full sleeve (78 rows of freaking stockinette, thank you very much) and the beginning of the second. So close. SOO close. I took it to Knit for Life last night, carefully carrying along my needle set so I could change to smaller needles for the stockinette…only to realize that I had not brought along more yarn and I had exactly enough with me to do 3 rows. So the shawl got worked on and I would happily show you progress on that, but some idiot counted funny and threw off the whole thing and it had to be tinked back about three rows. Couldn’t be me….unless I sustained a mild brain injury in the spider attack…maybe got clipped by a wayward hoof. Yeah, that’s it. Must be.

Lastly, Aunt Purl asked people to send in photos of their knitting spots. I do not, alas, know how to send one via e-mail (my computer knowledge is highly specialized—i.e., generally useless) so I am posting it here. Since I just know you're all dying to see my buttprint on the couch.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Morning in the Life of Florence Knitingale

You say "disorganized whackjob" like it's a BAD thing

Feel self being pulled from sleep at crap o’clock in the morning; resist and dig deeply into covers. Pretend to believe that am not awakening.

Break out in sweat from nest of covers. Fling off covers.

Adjust position to find cooler spot. Run into husband’s knee and elbow. Contemplate what position husband could possibly be in that would place both knee and elbow on this side of bed.

Admit defeat, climb out of bed.

Put on workout clothes. Acknowledge that “workout clothes” may be too grandiose a term for what is essentially a pair of men’s boxers and a t-shirt.

Brush teeth in dark, so as not to awaken husband with bathroom light.

Spit toothpaste on hand. Curse quietly.

Stagger into workout room.

Turn on workout room TV to watch news.

Glare at and consider making obscene gesture towards aggressively perky news anchorwoman. Remind self that am adult woman, above such childlike behaviors. Have good laugh at own joke, flip off anchorwoman.

Find resistance band, reminding self that “resistance” does not refer to willingness to use it. Work biceps, triceps, and crankiness.

Settle on recumbent exercise bike with thrift store sweater to unravel. Consider that day may be looking up.

Finish workout approximately one hour later, having turned into giant sweaty ball with yarn stuck to fingers.

Go downstairs to feed cats and clean litterbox.

Argue with cat:

...for at least 100th time about insistence on using litterbox at exact moment it is being cleaned, even if necessary to run across house to do so.

Consider that it may be a bit crazy to argue with cat. Decide it is likely too late to ward off craziness and besides, cat is losing argument.

Return upstairs, take shower and wash hair. Note with equal amounts of astonishment and smugness that have not lacerated legs or armpits with razor.

Dry hair.

Emerge from bedroom to find husband awake (possibly something to do with hair drying procedure)

Cuddle and chat with husband in annoying newlywed fashion. Vow not to lose track of time.

Lose track of time.

Leap away from husband as if scalded, run to closet for clothes.

Grab jeans, remember that Monday is Knit for Life and am not allowed to wear jeans to Knit for Life.

Grab slightly dressy, light tan pants from hanger. Begin to dress; notice huge hanger marks on knees of pants. No time to iron.

Toss pants in ironing pile (possibly a misnomer, as the term “ironing pile” suggests that someone might, at some point, actually iron the items in it)

Find olive-y corduroy pants that have not worn in awhile, put pants on.

Notice that, inexplicably, pants have become too short. Do not remember recent growth spurt; however, pants will only be long enough if buttoned around middle of butt. Decide to forego corduroy pants.

Pull out khaki pants. Put them on. Note that length is correct. Run towards dresser for shirt; catch sight of self in mirror and notice that pants make bottom appear to be approximately six axe-handles across in width. Cannot believe have not noticed this before. Discard evil pants immediately in Goodwill pile. Have moment of guilt, at inflicting giant-bottom-inducing pants on other helpless woman. Do not have time for full-on angst. Make mental note to angst more fully when not in hurry.

Desperate now, pull out last option: different pair of khaki pants with alarmingly low rise, purchased when believing self to be younger and hipper than realistic evidence would suggest. Out of time and options—put on pants (to extent that they can be said to be “on”. )

Grab white, racer-back tank out of dresser.

Go to bra drawer to find racer-back bra.

Dig in bra drawer.


Dig more deeply in bra drawer.

Swear more loudly.

Dump bra drawer on floor. Spot wayward bra on top of socks in next drawer down.

Stuff bras back in drawer, stuff self in bra.

Observe that both breasts should probably be in bra for best sartorial effect.

Shove wandering mammary back into bra.

Grab denim blazer in hope of covering accidental glimpses of top of tushie due to low-rise pants/41-year-old tushie combination.

Tell husband good-bye, head for stairs.

Consider odds of going downstairs with: backpack stuffed with textbooks, wheeled and handled knitting bag stuffed with knitting, cell phone, water bottle, and interchangeable knitting needle set but without tumbling down steps to face plant on hardwood floor.

Decide do not like odds, ask husband to help.

Arrive safely at bottom of stairs. Grab purse. Stuff phone in purse. Realize that will not be home for over 13 hours, but have no food.

Hunt for food to take.

Do not, strangely, find any completely prepared, nutritious, portable meals waiting to be grabbed.

Leave house with purse over arm, water bottle over arm, knitting bag handle in left hand, backpack handle in right hand, keys wedged under knitting bag handle, knitting needle set tucked under arm, top of bag containing 1 ½ handfuls of animal crackers in between teeth.

Bad, right? But here's the worst part: I'm a MORNING PERSON. I swear. Imagine how much fun a late night with Ms. Knitingale might be.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Becoming Ms. Knitingale (Part 2)

An inward journey, in which not one thing is as clear and simple as I would wish it to be

When I apply to nursing school, I will have to write an essay AND sit for an interview. Both of these will require that I answer the question: why do I want to be a nurse? I’m told that the worst possible answer—the one that will guarantee the filing of my application in the cylindrical file with astounding haste—is “because I want to help people”. It’s sort of like the medical version of the beauty contestant who tosses her hair and says “Because I want to help create world peace”. I’ll leave for another time my feelings about a world in which an honest desire to help has become something unbelievable. For now, let’s just say that thinking about the answer has given me something of a chronic headache. Truth is, I DON’T want to be a nurse.

Yep, you heard right. I don’t want to be a nurse. I have to be. In many ways, I already am one in a deep and completely unassailable place that I can’t reach, change, or even reason with. Honestly, there have been many times in which I have wanted desperately to not be a nurse, and I have argued that little internal gargoyle until I was exhausted, to no avail. Like today—when I woke up thinking about the prerequisites and the huge competition, and the fact that I have to get A’s in all of my classes to compete or I may as well trashcan the application myself. And how they just told me that the grading scale for nursing students has changed. For my grade to be a 4.0, I must get a grade of 97% or higher in each of my classes. 94% to 97% is an A- which is only a 3.8, and then it’s B territory all the way. I must be crazy. Who would take this on, this unrelenting invitation to perfectionism which, by the way, I already dance with on a regular basis, always to my detriment? I want to want something different. To invent ice cream flavors. To design ski wear. To clip poodles, for heaven’s sake. Anything. But it’s not up to me at all. I’ve been hooked for too many years.

The first time I knew I was hooked was when I volunteered in a hospital at age 14. I was a candy striper (if you’re old enough to remember what that is, welcome to my middle-aged world) and the nurses really had more trouble finding things for me to do than anything. I hated that then, I hate it now. I want to be useful. But I plugged along until one night the nurse asked me to pop in and talk to this one older, female patient. She didn’t say why and she was so busy, I didn’t ask her. I just went in. I don’t remember what we talked about, really. Probably cats and weather and tv shows. I remember what she looked like, though. She had dark hair that she dyed, soft, perpetually moving hands, a blue nightgown, and what I still think of as “aching eyes”. She looked wounded. But we talked for going on an hour about all kinds of nothing. She smiled at me when I left, and I really didn’t think much more about it. I didn’t find out until later that she had been diagnosed that very day with breast cancer and had refused to speak, eat, drink or even acknowledge anyone from then on--until I went in. And there it was. I had touched another person in some way, and I was hooked. It might as well have been crack.

Nursing had me, and it knew it. I’ve been a medical receptionist, a medical phone person, a CNA in a nursing home, a medical assistant. I’ve been peed on, vomited on, and worse. I had my left nipple twisted viciously by a patient suffering from dementia (yes, I had a shirt on—but she managed to get me anyway), I’ve been yelled at and called names by people who were hurting and afraid and found me to be the safest target. I’ve held people’s hands while they cried and I’ve told people they had diabetes or abnormal paps or mammograms and tried to help hold their fear and their pain for just a few moments so they could breathe before they had to carry it all by themselves. And nursing still has me. Every time I think I might get away—why would ANYONE put themselves through a competition of 500 people for 50 spots?—I think of all those people whom I’ve touched and who have touched me. The lady in the nursing home who was so utterly prim and proper all the time but invariably called the strutting, arrogant physical therapist an “asshole”. To his face. And how I cried when she died one morning, totally unexpectedly and it was the first and only time I ever saw her afraid. The drug addict who cried on my shoulder about how ashamed she was and how I held her and soothed her like a child and she kept using anyway and there was not one thing I could do. The depressive who called in such a dreadful state that the best I could do was make her promise she would not kill herself for at least 24 hours, and when she came in I was the only one she would allow to touch her. (She didn’t die, by the way, and actually got much better, albeit slowly.) The young man who came in for HIV testing every three months, but refused to practice safe sex because he figured HIV was inevitable. (I cried about him, too.) The little girl with a chronic disease who clutched a stuffed animal I gave her and took care of it all through the night that she had to be in the hospital, even getting the nurses to bring her towels so she could make a bed for it.

I don’t want to want to be a nurse. I AM a nurse. It has me. How in the world am I going to put all this in a neat, concise answer? I want to be a nurse because…..

….well, because I can’t not be. There it is. Simple as that. Achingly, astoundingly complex as that.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Black Holes and Other Inanity

This is one frightening outcome when bad things happen to good knitters. I have no explanation or excuse for these, other than I made them awhile ago, and I haven't touched fun fur since. And they really do keep my neck warm, even as they assure that no one I know will walk with me. (No, I do not wear them simultaneously....although, the fact that I made and wear them at all is good enough reason to question my judgement on such things.)

In other news, I have encountered the black hole of knitting. I know about it. I think I’m prepared for it. But then….THE SLEEVE (insert ominous music of your choice here). I love how this picture:

…makes it look like the sleeve is really long and, truthfully, it even seems really long in person, but it’s still about three inches shy of the shaping that will make the miles and miles and miles of stockinette at least slightly more interesting so that I feel less like having a car driven over my foot, just for a change of scenery. And I’m not fooled. I know that those three inches have the ability to morph into 30 while lying there looking perfectly innocent. What’s worse, the second sleeve is looming painfully ahead of me. I sometimes wonder why I don’t just make vests. I mean, besides the fact that I practically never wear them.

In a shameless attempt to distract you from this appalling lack of sleevage, I offer this sweater:

…knitted by moi a couple of years ago while working at the cancer institute by day and attending school to become a medical assistant by night. My job involved sitting in a tiny, windowless room and answering the phone all day. They didn’t care what I did while I answered the phones, so I got quite a bit of knitting done. I still love this sweater, although it’s unfortunate that I made it before carryfairie kindly taught me the way of quality fibers (both my stash and my bank account offer their thanks…..). It’s acrylic, and I’m quite tempted to make it again in something nicer. Even though it stubbornly insists on having sleeves.

It’s been a quiet day here at Insanity Manor (which title seems to fit no matter what’s going on). Momma Knitingale (which suits her, as my mother did used to be a nurse) received her cashmere sweater and called me to say that she loved it. She says everyone compliments her on it, and then asks if she taught me how to knit. She’s still laughing about that one. Momma Knitingale used to crochet beautifully, but she and knitting needles do not get along well at all. I know, right? I don’t get it either. It had something to do with a perfectly dreadful sweater pattern that involved making and assembling four garter stitch squares knitted on huge needles into a garment with a deep v front and back and ¾ length sleeves. Proof if ever you needed it that people should learn to knit on something they’d actually want to have/wear/use. (I’m cracking myself up, here—I kept mistyping the word “wear” as “swear”, which is about right because that sweater certainly induced a fair amount of swearing in Momma Knitingale. I was 16…and I still remember. Which makes me think it might be just as well that she and the pointy sticks didn’t really spark, you know?)

Mr. K decided to work on the bathroom today, which meant conversations like this:

Me: (innocently) “Hey, Sweetie. I’m about to go put some laundry in, make the bed, sweep, vacuum, and clean the other bathroom and the kitchen. What are you up to?”
Mr. K: “Oh, I thought I’d have you help me clean the paint drywall spatters off of the bathroom floor so I can put the caulk down.”
Me: “?” (‘cause, see, I thought I already WAS helping….I mean, with the laundry and stuff….but I’m a good sport and all so…) “okay…..but I don’t see anything to clean up.”
Mr. K: “ There’s still a couple of spatters behind where the toilet will go.”
Me: “But….if it’s behind the toilet… won’t show, will it?”
Mr. K: “It might.”
Me: (resignedly) “Okay (scraping away at nearly invisible spot on floor waaaay behind where toilet will be and nearly needing a microscope to see it). By the way, while I’m down here, there’s still a hole in the baseboard that needs to be patched.”
Mr. K: (astoundingly enough) “Oh, that’s behind the toilet. It won’t show.”
Me: “….”
Mr. K: “What’s wrong, Honey? Is something wrong?”

No jury in the land would convict me. Not if there was even one woman on it.

And finally, a few observations for the day:

I just saw a news headline that read “Do you cry on the way to work? You may want to think about changing jobs.” (What would we do without the crack team of journalists to help us resolve these crises? I can already see tomorrow’s story—“Are you bleeding uncontrollably from a laceration? You may want to think about seeing a doctor”.)

A friend sent me a note with some actual warnings seen on consumer products, including this one on a Swedish chainsaw: "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals." I lie awake nights trying to imagine what prompted this.

A woman in Poland has been arrested for growing marijuana to feed to her cow….which makes me wonder a great deal about the milk out of that cow (who has apparently been much calmer since the owner started doing this). I’ve heard of “special brownies”, but I’m thinking milk and cookies would have a whole new meaning at this woman’s house.

And lastly, I’ve been following with interest the story about e coli spreading through the consumption of fresh, bagged spinach. Which was a horrible thing and I absolutely know that and I'm not trying to belittle it in any way…but I have to point this out: there’s never been a spread of e coli from bags of chocolate kisses. Not ever. I’m just sayin’.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Things I Wonder About

In which it becomes clear that Ms. Knitingale may be a few repeats short of a full pattern....

How come a person can "pass" a football, "pass" a test, "pass" for 18, and "pass" a kidney stone—and the word "pass" means something different in each case? Okay, so it’s a really good thing that it’s different in the case of the football and the kidney stone….I’m just saying, how come we can’t think of more words?

How come rough, bough, and dough don’t rhyme, but through and brew do?

If hockey is a game played with sticks, and a hooker is a woman of questionable repute, how come the phrase “playing hookey” doesn’t refer to women of questionable repute playing a game with sticks?

Why do we call some coats “overcoats”? Outside of animals and car detailing, do we have “undercoats”?

Why is it that you can have a piece of paper containing a list of items needed to make something, directions to make the something, and a picture of the finished something and it’s called a recipe if you’re going to eat it…but a pattern if you’re going to wear it?

How come you can feel all discombobulated when things aren’t going predictably…but no one ever says that it was a great day at work because they felt so combobulated? And what about disgruntled and gruntled? Have you ever felt gruntled? (And by the way, my spell checker is having a ball with this one.)

Pants come in a pair, presumably because two legs go into them. Probably the same thing for underwear. So how come a bra is singular?

If you’re given more money at work, you say you got a raise. How come people taking a pay cut don't say they got a lower?

How come it’s good to be pretty….but no one really wants to be “pretty good?”

Why would the words “maul” and “mall” sound like the same word? Oh….wait. Okay, I remember the last sidewalk sale at the mall…that one makes sense.

How come people hoping to get fish to eat are said to be “going fishing” but people hoping to get other animals to eat aren’t said to be “going elking” or “going deering”?
(Admittedly, Ms. Knitingale wonders why in the world people would engage in either pursuit by ANY name, but that’s another issue entirely.)

How is “melon” a color choice, when melons come in several different colors?

Stationery, stationary; principle, principal—are we just trying to mess with non-native English speakers?

If chapstick is for keeping your lips from getting chapped, what is lipstick for?

How come we have “storm fronts” but not “storm backs”?

Why do some people say “ink pen”? Is there something else we use in pens to make them write?

Yes, indeed, Ms. Knitingale has a strange mind. I’ll admit it. I imagine the greater question might be why I waste my time wondering about such things….

I did, in fact, do some things of value yesterday. I knit a bit on my sweater sleeve (poor Mr. K—his socks are being SO neglected) but once I got past the lace, the following 11 inches of stockinette suddenly turned into an enormous black knitting hole. I knit and knit and knit and knit before going to class; I measured it, I became too annoyed to even take a picture of the darned thing.

I had my first Anatomy and Physiology class yesterday. I wasn’t at all sure how this would go, seeing as how it started out with us having to choose one word to represent how we felt and then share that with the person next to us…and then introduce that person to the class along with an explanation of how that person felt and why. I confess to not loving this sort of exercise….even if I intellectually recognize the value of it. Once I found out that we had do the standing and introducing part, I told my partner that she could change my feeling from “apprehensive” to “like a dork”. I’m sure I made lots of points with the instructor with that one.

Oh, I just thought of another one: you can feel, and you can felt, and you can feel felt…..but you can’t felt a feel. Am I the only one getting dizzy?

And how come if you yell “Duck!” at someone, they know to lower their head….but if you shout “Chicken!” they don’t know to run and flap?

I’m losing it……I’m totally losing it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chapter 23: An Inauspicious Beginning

In which Ms. Knitingale discovers the presence of an LYS mere moments from the college campus, and attempts to learn the Virtue of Patience

So, I got up this morning at 4:00 am, not because I have a burning desire to experience a dark, drippy, Pacific Northwest, early morning, (which I was already pretty sure looked a lot like a dark, drippy, Pacific Northwest late afternoon) and not because it really takes me 4 hours to go from sleep to presentable (oh, I’m not saying I couldn’t use the time…only that I really lack the motivation to do so and consider that I am nearly black-tie ready if I’m showered and my socks match) but because of Mr. K. I love Mr. K from the bottom of my heart, as you all know, and I would never cast aspersions on him…but can I just say that if he sawed as many real logs as he does metaphorical ones, we would never have to pay for heat again? Naturally, he snored for 45 minutes…and then stopped at the precise moment I gave up and got out of bed.

From there, with only minimal grumbling (he can’t help it, I know he can’t….) I went and watched the morning news and did the exercise bike for an hour, unraveling a thrift store sweater as I pedaled. (I never said I wasn’t productive in the wee hours—I’m just not particularly pleasant.) I had some extra time, even so, and I used this to prepare for my day. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have an 8:30 – 10:50 class, and then a 1:10 – 3:30 class. Lousy, I know, but so many classes filled up that I was stuck with this. So I packed snacks, I planned to do homework from class one while waiting for class two but threw some knitting in a bag in case this wasn’t enough, I prepared an extra water bottle—I was set. Off I went, to this lovely institution of higher learning:

(With all these cars in the parking lot, as it happens--quite scintillating photography, yes?)

I went to the classroom, and I waited. And I waited. And I waited. By 8:45, 18 or so of us were waiting, but none of them were the instructor. We waited some more. Eventually someone went to the secretary who came back to tell us that the teacher hadn’t called in and no one knew where she was and they were dismissing the class. This was 9:00 am. I had over four hours until my next class, no homework, and it was raining. I can hardly be held accountable for what happened next….can I?

I went for a short drive, actually looking for a Starbucks so that I might apply a small amount of mocha to the situation and found (picture music and a beam of heavenly light here) an LYS. Small, tucked away, not the best selection ever (what do you mean you don’t carry alpaca? What kind of a fiber obsessive do you call yourself??), but it was wool. It was warm and had that lovely wooly smell and ladies around a table knitting. I knew then that all would be well. They had some new sock yarn, and some of the prettiest Crystal Palace laceweight kid merino I’ve ever seen. In the end, I stopped with mere petting and some knitting talk (did you ever notice how talking about knitting is like crack to an addict? I swear, I’m shameless. I’ll ask anyone about any project at any time and even reach out to feel the yarn. It’s a sickness, it really is.) and didn’t buy a thing. Which sounds quite virtuous until you really go through my stash. Believe me when I say that the Crystal Palace was calling my name in long, loud syllables—but I have to face the truth that I already have enough laceweight yarn to make a lacey housecover, with enough extra left over so that the cars and mailbox can match. It is rare that I can draw a line, but draw it I did. Painfully, and most probably temporarily…but drawn is drawn.

Somewhere during this time, the teacher of the 8:30 psych class called to personally apologize. She said she was calling all of the students—27 had signed up, so she had a lengthy time of it. And I was initially quite relieved to hear that she hadn’t been in an accident or something, and impressed that she had taken the time to call. But then she produced her explanation: “I just got to doing things….and….well, you know….time just got away from me.” As a person, I have sympathy. As a person who can knit 4 hours in what feels like 5 minutes, I have mega-sympathy. As a student who hauled my weary ass across town at 7:45 in the morning and who can expected to be graded down for tardiness of self OR of assignments…well….it was less sympathy and more WTF? However, I figured she was already having what my mom used to call a bitch-kitty of a day (my mom is nothing if not colorful), so I just told her I was glad she was all right. I’m hoping she has her act slightly more gathered together on Monday. And gets the whole shebang shoved into the car in time to come to class.

Statistics was better…but for the fact that the teacher is a tall, follicularly challenged gentleman who kept coming within fractions of an inch of gouging his head on the corner of a ceiling mounted tv/vcr unit which he himself pointed out…but then kept almost backing into anyway. By the end of class, I had muscle spasms from pre-emptory cringing. I probably can’t get extra credit for figuring the statistical probability of him requiring first aid before the quarter is over….can I?

In addiction news, I’m in love with the lace pattern on the sleeves and yoke of Bianca, in spite of having done all of one repeat of it on the first sleeve:

It’s those little scallops. I’m a complete sucker for little knitted scallops, probably because they always seem to appear almost magically. Isn’t it sweet? I already desire desperately to wear it…which, to be frank, does not bode all that well for the ETA of Mr. K’s socks. Mind you, if I slept better, I might knit faster……

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Back to School

Remember the first day of school? I mean, the first EVER. When you didn’t know what to expect and you were nervous, and didn’t sleep the night before? And your mom brushed your hair so hard your head hurt and made you wear shiny new shoes that slipped when you walked? I still remember my first day at Sadie Halsted Elementary School (I still have absolutely no idea who Sadie Halsted was, or what she did to get a school named after her), right down to the dress I wore. Remember those dresses that were all one piece but were supposed to look like a skirt and blouse (no doubt to keep hooligans like me looking at least moderately neat and tucked in)? Mine had a plaid skirt and a cream colored top, and it tied in the back. Which was how I figured out that wooden chairs + bow at back of dress = knot digging into small of back all day long. Remember that? I also remember that I was the girl who didn’t think to put shorts on under my dress so I could play on the monkey bars without the boys being able to look at my panties. Of course, the 6-year-old boys didn’t give a rat’s tushie about our panties…but they loved that we would scream if they did the whole “I see London, I see France….” thing. There was a little girl in my class named Sandy who had blond hair in a blunt cut and who wore red stretch pants instead of a dress and I remember being dreadfully jealous of her because she could play on the bars all through recess and not worry about her panties. Or London or France. I was also jealous of the shiny blond hair (I had brown ponytails) and especially the red pants, as red was my very favorite color.

All of which goes to say that I am returning to school tomorrow. I took some summer classes, but this seems more official, somehow. Like a dork, I’ve already picked out my clothes--blazer, striped shirt, dark wash jeans, boots:(I do have the excuse that I have to get up earlier than Mr. K, and don’t want to wake him up picking out clothes in the wee hours….but we all know the dorky truth) and I’ve packed my books in my backpack (which has wheels—when did textbooks start to be so darned HEAVY?). It feels like a new beginning which, in a way, it is. Okay, the real beginning was quitting my job and signing up for those first classes. But whether it’s the Autumn air or just the fact that school, in my mind, starts in the fall, regardless of what one did over the summer, it feels like tomorrow is the start. And I am spinning, (just click for a rather different definition of spinning than you may be used to) of course, because I have to get perfect grades if I’m going to have any chance at all of competing against those other 299 – 499 other applicants for the 40 – 50 spots. It’s always such a good thing to have outside pressures to be perfect….when one is already a dyed in the wool perfectionist.

When I started this learning business the first time, I carried a Snoopy lunchbox with a thermos full of milk in it, and I fretted all day about getting on the right bus. I also fretted about being able to find the restroom, finding my classroom after recess, and being seen as dumb. While I can definitely find the restroom by myself, and I’m driving a Toyota rather than riding a yellow bus, I still worry about being seen as dumb. Some things never change. (You want to really laugh? I just stopped to proof this and realized that I’d misspelled dumb…as dum. Shades of Homer Simpson, I swear to…..) I’ll probably skip the Snoopy lunchbox, too, in favor of a Luna bar and a bottle of flavored water stuffed in my backpack. But I’m thinking that we really don’t change all that much. I don’t worry about the boys seeing my underwear, but I still want to fit in to some extent, I still want to look smart, I still want to “do it right”. And I still don’t want to get lost, although now “lost” is more likely to mean losing the more ephemeral path to my goals than the one to and from the girls room.

Huh. I didn’t know this was going to be a serious post…but so it seems to be. Funny how I think I’m so tough….but that inner turmoil finds a way out just the same. I’m plain old scared of failure. Wouldn’t you think I’d some up with something more original?

Ah, well--I have gotten some knitting done, and I bought the buttons for Bianca.

I thought I wanted wooden ones, but then decided I wanted something with a shank for reasons I could not possibly explain. You know that little sweater-making voice in your head that just starts shouting “No, No!! Not THOSE buttons!!” but never really tells you why? No? It’s just me? Hmm. This cannot be a good sign. (Remember that bit in the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy" where the woman turns to the guy and says, appropros of nothing, "Are the voices in my head bothering you?" I'm starting to worry that this may be me....) Anyhow, these are little leather buttons that came in this saddle color and in dark brown. I liked the saddle because some of the little tweedy bits are in this color. (By the way, full comedy points to Mr. K who, when told about these “tweedy bits”, replied “I tawt I taw a tweater! I did! I did! I did tee a tweater!’’ That’s TWEEDY, not TWEETY!)

Come to think of it, that whole bird thing might just be the reason for this:

The handsome Ed, keeping my knitting in line while I work on the next piece (I know he's slightly blurry....please don't tell him, though. He's sensitive.).

Naturally, having gotten the back, the right front, and ¾ of the left front finished, I’ve already begun to consider the next project, possibly the Samus jacket from Knitty. As good as the designer looks, I fear I’d look like a safety cone in that shade of orange…so maybe a light, heathery green? I know that you all know I’ll change my mind 12 times and end up making something totally different…so I appreciate your patience with my delusion.

And lastly, a chuckle for you: I went to pick up my husband’s extra pair of glasses for him today at the optician. They were paid for; I only needed to collect them (which is good, as I’m still slightly less than 100%). I was quite surprised when, instead of simply handing them to me, the girl had me wait. And wait. And wait. I came to find out that it hadn’t occurred to her that if my husband wasn’t with me, it probably wouldn’t be possible to fit them… she had me waiting for someone to come fit them for me. I had to wonder—did she think I had his head in my purse?

I’ll let you know how the first day of school goes. I won’t lose my sweater, or my lunch, or my cool. Well, okay. Maybe my cool. Just a little.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Did someone call for an ark?


Is the weather.

And I am under it just a bit today, which means my mind has time to go all kinds of very weird places. For instance, bunnies. See, I have a favorite sweater to wear when I don’t feel well, a particularly warm and cozy angora blend that feels like I imagine wrapping myself in a cloud might feel. (And yes, all you budding meteorologists out there, I know that clouds are actually cold and wet….but it’s a fantasy. Work with me.)

I didn’t make it, although I certainly wish I had because I also think it’s quite lovely and the sort of thing I’d like to be able to casually say “What, this old thing? Oh, I made it EONS ago” about. But I did not, and I am reduced now to lying pitifully on the couch thinking odd things like “Angora bunnies must be really warm and comfy all the time….I should see about coming back as an Angora bunny in my next life…then I could feel like this all the time….of course, I’d probably have to sit and pet myself all day, and that’s a disturbing image no matter how you slice it….then again, maybe I’d be so used to it that it wouldn’t even be cool anymore….maybe what would REALLY shake my tail would be petting people……and then, of course, I’d probably be considered a really weird bunny…..” And so it goes.

I also wonder a lot about that guy who e-mails me every day to ask if I'd like a bigger's a strange world we live in. I mean, is he going to mail me one? And what am I going to do with it? Yeah...probably knit it a cozy or something.

I also got to thinking about Crazy Aunt Purl, and her post about how knitters should rule the world. Because I have the time, and I’m just loopy enough to have all kinds of weird ideas. Like, would sheep become the national animal? And would a quarter, instead of having an eagle clutching an olive branch (or whatever branch it is), have a sheep clutching a pair of knitting needles? Or would currency go by the wayside, to be replaced by yarn? Just picture it: “Honey, I’m going shopping. Can you grab me about 6 balls of Noro, a couple of cashmerino, and 3 balls of that laceweight? I’m hoping for a couple of sock yarns in change.” or "I need change for this mohair....just give me two lambswool and a shetland." Or maybe “Did you see that cheap bastard? He ordered a 10-cashmere meal WITH dessert and only left me this ball of variegated acrylic as a tip!”

Oh, and congress would just be a couple of big knitting groups, wouldn’t they? “The speaker recognizes the senator from Missouri—and also the remarkable progress he’s made on that lacy shawl.” A large yarn stash would just be good citizenship. The White House Lawn would be penned off to hold Alpaca and cashmere goats. If countries had issues to solve, why the leaders could get together to knit and discuss things. Face it—have you ever known a knitter who wouldn’t have the problem solved and be comparing stitch patterns in less than an hour? Oh, and the colorways in Noro and other yummy yarns would be breaking news stories. I’m liking this better all the time.

Okay, yes. I’m a bit loopy and getting silly, I admit it. But I will say, in all seriousness, that I’ve never seen a group of people more giving, more accepting, more caring than knitters. I can’t see us ever turning our backs on a need, or allowing intolerance or bigotry of any kind. Honestly, guys, I can’t see how we can make the world any worse off.

Oh, and hey. We can get rid of that “red state” and “blue state” stuff. We’ll all just be knitting states. Although, I could get my mind around the idea of being an “alpaca state”.

Yeah, I know. Time to go lay on the couch for awhile before I get fitted for a coat with really, really long snuggly sleeves……


Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's All Good

So, I followed the directions for the back of the “Bianca’s Jacket”, including where it said to do double decreases by slipping one, knitting two together, and then passing the slipped stitch over. And I’m trying to be open-minded, but….well, you be the judge:

Carryfairie and her lady love were here yesterday, and Carry very diplomatically said “Well….you could say it adds to the rustic quality of the yarn….” Which was nice, but which I’m pretty sure doesn’t translate to “My, but that looks nifty! How can I add such loveliness to my own knitting?” As it happens, my Seahawks were playing today (Seahawks football—another of Ms. Knitingale’s dirty little secrets), so I frogged back to before the first decrease row and reknit it, doing back to back k2tog instead. I know the light is different in the "after" picture, but I swear you can't see the decreases at all unless you really hunt:

And, after three hours of football and knitting, my boys won (Go you Hawks!!) and my sweater was…..right back where I’d started. I now have more sympathy for the quarterback when he makes a difficult play and everyone runs all over the place and people get tackled….and the ball has moved not one foot forward. Seeing as how I have the attention span of a magpie on crack when it comes to knitting, I did consider just frogging the whole thing and starting something different that hadn’t taunted me in this fashion, but for some reason, I didn’t want the pattern to win. I’m starting to wonder if exposure, even through the TV, to all that NFL testosterone can really be good for me. It bears thinking about.

On a totally different note (and perhaps because I think a less manly topic might be in order, all things considered)I don’t often read so-called “women’s magazines”, largely because they seem to be not much more than a lengthy list of things I need to do in order to be better (thinner, smarter, a better cook, a better lover, do my hair better, do my makeup better—ever notice that men’s magazines don’t do this?). And dudes, I could always dig out my high school yearbook if I wanted that kind of instant insecurity. But there’s one I occasionally read that includes a column I really like, called “It’s okay to…” Having spent a fair number of years on the opposite side of this fence, I’m all about self-acceptance these days, so I got to thinking about the knitting version of “It’s okay to….” See what you’d add.

It’s okay to laugh hysterically when a pattern calls for 20 balls of a yarn that costs about $20 per ball, and to wonder aloud what the designer is smoking
It’s okay to watch football and knit at the same time (you knew that HAD to be in there, yes?)
It’s okay for “one more row” to be your middle name, and to be about as accurate and meaningful as the “two minute warning” in the aforementioned football game.
It’s okay to ask someone to watch your TV show while you go to the bathroom and fill you in on what happened when you get back because your row ends and the commercials just won’t line up
It’s okay to just give up and buy another damned row counter—even though you know this will make the lost one turn up almost immediately and, for that matter,
It’s okay to have four crochet hooks in the same size because you know you’ll lose one if you don’t have extras—and not if you do.
It’s okay to feel a bit melty every time you pet angora yarn…..and to do it every time you go into the yarn store (don’t worry—they’ll get used to you and stop looking at you that way…..not that I’d know…..)
It’s okay to avoid knowing exactly how much yarn you have (try storing it in locations around the house so you can’t ever look at it all at once)
It’s okay to knit for yourself on occasion, and to even use some of the good yarn to do it (this seems obvious, but most of us knitters have a bit of a tough time with it)
It’s okay to watch reruns on purpose, just so you can work on that fiddly pattern that you have to pay attention to.
It’s okay to fantasize about answers you’d like to give to goofy questions you get when knitting in public: ( i.e., “Are you knitting?” Nope, fishing, but all I keep catching is this same darned ball of yarn).
It’s okay to google yarn stores within a 15 mile radius whenever your partner suggests taking a trip somewhere. Anywhere.
It’s okay to leave “yarn room” in your suitcase when traveling, even if you have to be merciless about other things (I could sleep and run in the same t-shirt…couldn’t I?).
It’s okay to think of sheep as “yarn on the hoof”
It’s okay if you sometimes have to count the stitches 4 times to get two counts that match. Likewise, it’s okay to count a couple of more times if you don’t particularly like that count (“whaddya mean there’s still not 136?? There HAS to be!!!”). Hope does spring eternal.
It’s okay if you’re the only one who likes that funky purple sweater you made, even if it embarrasses your children to have you wear it out when they’re with you. How many times have they embarrassed you?
It’s okay to choose a book entirely because one of the characters knits. (books on tape from the library + knitting = a truly splendid afternoon, incidentally)
It’s okay to sometimes have to shake cookie crumbs out of your knitting (watch out for chocolate chips and light-colored mohair, though….I’m just sayin’)
It’s okay to tell people that cat hairs knitted into sweaters are actually good luck for the wearer.
And it's totally okay to read this super fast because you can't wait to get back to your knitting.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Introspective Saturday

Things that make me feel old:

1. When I was a kid, no one owned computers. Or microwave ovens.
2. When I was a kid, there were three regular TV channels, and one public channel. There was no cable, no dvd, no vcr. (The advantage, of course, being that I could figure out that there was nothing on worth watching in a mere fraction of the time it takes me now)
3. I took typing in high school. On a typewriter. (90 words a minute, though, oh yeah)
4. I had feathered hair in junior high….and thought I looked really cool.
5. I went to my family reunion recently and got to see my cousin’s adult children…and her grandchildren.
6. I’ve decided that I am too old to wear clothes that have come back in style, if I remember wearing them the first time they were in style. And there already are some of those things. (Leggings, though—no loss. Seriously.).
7. I can remember John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino. A Sweathog.
8. I used to avoid the UA Cinemas in town because they were the most expensive—their tickets cost all of $4.
9. 20-somethings seem so young.
10. I remember when a thong was half of a pair of rubber shoes.
11. I watched Charlie’s Angels…the original series.
12. I rode my bike all day, all summer long, all over the neighborhood from the time I was 8 and never even heard of a bike helmet (no funny comments about how “that explains a lot”, what do you say?).
13. All of us kids were sent outside to play in the sun all summer so we would “get a little color”. No one even considered putting sunscreen on us..
14. I’ve been told that I look good “for my age”. (Dude…that’s so bad)
15. My doctor’s notes describe me as “a pleasant, middle-aged woman in no apparent distress”. (Yeah, well, I’m distressed NOW. And I’m not as pleasant as I was before I read that, either!)

But, my dear friend Marianne (who is seriously an angel, and not particularly “in disguise”, either) told me recently that if you argue for your limitations, you get to have them. Good point. So here’s a list of reasons why it’s actually pretty cool being this age:

1. I can stay up as late as I want, eat whatever I want, and I never have to worry about getting caught making out.
2. Mr. K. –‘nuff said. (Yeah, yeah, I know—let’s say it together: Awwwwwwwww)
3. I don’t have to be in high school EVER AGAIN. (shudder)
4. There are so many things I still get to learn, only now I really like doing it.
5. Sometimes, people actually think I’m wise (oh, quit laughing. I might have said something wise once or twice, it could happen)
6. I finally “get” that no one really cares how my hair looks
7. If I want to know if someone is mad at me, is still my friend, or thinks this outfit is stupid, I can just ask.
8. I finally understand that there is very little in life that is worth true angst.
9. I can go to a restaurant or a movie alone and it will never occur to me to wonder if other people think I'm a loser who can't get a date
10. I'm starting to think that "interesting" is a better thing to be than "pretty"
11. I realize that “now” is way more important than “was” or “will be”
12. I still do dumb things….but I can laugh at them instead of wanting to die of embarrassment.
13. I’ve had interesting things happen to me, but I’m young enough to think there are probably more coming.
14. I may be a “pleasant, middle-aged woman in no apparent distress”, but the doctor listens to what I have to say. And I know enough to find a new one if she/he won’t.
15. Now that I don’t have to worry about growing up, I can finally work on growing in.

What about you? What's cool about being whatever age you are?

Friday, September 15, 2006


I love Autumn. Not just the colored leaves, but all of it—the whole wood-smoke scented, warm-blankets on the bed, crisp appley goodness of it. Okay, not so much the spiders—those little buggers have meetings, I swear, where they map out my location and make plans for maximum scaring. (No, I’m not paranoid. Why—did someone tell you that?) I even loved Autumn best when I was a child, and all my fellow munchkins positively ached for Spring when they could get outside again. The reality, though, was that this attraction to “outside” typically had something to do with sports-like activities, often involving the hitting of a ludicrously small ball with some unlikely object. And I, sadly, have such poor hand-eye coordination that it’s a full-on miracle that I haven’t ever put out my eye while combing my hair (I mostly credit the round brush for this particular miracle).
Oh, I know that some of you do not believe me. Some of you, in your boundless generosity are thinking “Oh, it can’t be THAT bad. She’s just being too hard on herself!” To which I reply: okay, then. Next time you’re in town, grab your racquetball racquet and stop on by. Don’t forget your health insurance card. We’ll go get down. But remember this conversation later, when you’re sobbing in disbelief in the corner of the racquetball court wondering how in the world anyone can possibly MISS in a room where every single wall and even the ceiling are acceptable targets, and when the bruise might possibly be expected to fade. (It will take a few days, I’m afraid….but try wearing a hat pulled down quite low on your forehead. I’m sure no one will notice. Really.)
Still not convinced? Okay, I’m bringing out the big guns. Picture the 10-year-old Ms. Knitingale. It is a Spring day. My teacher, in a moment of what I can only think of as evil (a strong word? Yes….but you never knew Sister Mary Kevin) decreed that we would all play softball. Even at this tender age, I already understand that my relationship with projectiles is a tenuous one at best. I come up to bat already knowing that I have a slightly greater chance of becoming the crown princess of Fnorkindal than I have of hitting this ball. I am not concerned. I go up, I swing. I stand there. It is only when my teammates begin helpfully shouting out words of support and encouragement (“Run, Stupid!!”) that I realize that I have hit the ball. I am astonished. It takes a few more loving comments from my teammates, but I finally get the hint and run. I am in ecstasy. Perhaps the world is changing for me. Perhaps I am becoming…..coordinated. Perhaps…perhaps….perhaps I should not still have the bat in my hand. At least, that seems to be the gist of the continued kind comments coming my way. Fair enough. I toss the bat behind me with what I feel certain is a jaunty gesture, I finish my run to first base, I bask in the glory. Glory that is sadly short-lived as I become aware of the silence. It is not just any silence—no. It is the silence that can only be made by a horde of children gathered around the catcher who is now lying on the ground behind home plate, another senseless victim of a thoughtless, aluminum batting. Yep. Took him right out. Patrick Murphy, wherever you are…..well….I’m sorry about the whole bat/stomach thing. I really am. And I swear it had nothing whatever to do with that time the week before when you dropped a grasshopper down my back at recess (not that I wouldn’t have….but c’mon. Like I have anywhere NEAR the skill to plan something like that.)
You’re believers now, aren’t you? Told ‘ja. Anyhow, Fall is safe. I know that fall sports are dangerous, but they’re not dangerous to me and, since I don’t play them, they are somewhat less dangerous to everyone else. I’m pretty sure football is a better place for my continued presence on the couch, screaming happily and not holding any sort of dangerous object.

Since knitting doesn’t involve any sort of ball (other than yarn, and that’s comparatively soft), I seem to do all right with it. As a result, I’ve finally finished pink sweater.

I did try it on because, although I am taller than my mother by 4 inches, we are the same distance from shoulder to hip (the cause, I fear, of a number of ill-advised dachshund jokes made by my sweet but oh so reckless father). I would have had Mr. K take a picture of me modeling it but….well….height isn’t the only place I have more inches than my mother. Suffice it to say that the picture would pretty much have been of a pair of cashmere encased breasts with a person behind them. Mr. K liked it….but I think I’ll pass on sharing that one, if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, I’ve started working on the Bianca Jacket, using the new/old needles that I recently got. SOOOO much nicer than I even imagined. The tips are metal with a comforting weight to them, the join is flawless, and the cord perfectly slick. The really amazing thing is that I decided to initially try knitting without using the key to tighten the screw-on tips. Amazingly, some 17 rows later, they haven’t budged. Which is awesome, because I was really worried about not being able to get the tips back off and then having a lovely, 50 piece set of one needle. For yarn, I vacillated between two, but am finding myself drawn to a rustic sort of wool in two shades of a kind of goldy color (think of the "goldenrod" crayon in the big box when you were a kid) with little tweedy bits in chocolate brown, red brown, and burnt orange. The other option is a light alpaca blend in a sort of indigo color...but this gold stuff is calling to me. What do you think?

By the way, has anyone else ever had Blogger suddenly lose the internet connection and toss them out of explorer? I've had this happen two days in a row, both times completely losing my entire post, of course. This, it goes without saying, has not made things terribly pleasant here at the Hotel Pottymouth. When I rewrote it today, I put it in word and then copied and pasted it in quickly before I could be tossed back off....only to find that it won't let you link photos in until you type something directly into the posting form (not just paste). This is no big deal....once you know that's the problem. If you're trying to drive me nuts, Blogger, it's too late.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This Sort of Day

It is this sort of day in Seattle:

Which is to say that it is damp and green and reminds me utterly of why I live in and completely love Seattle. Okay, the lawn you can see is kind of brownish....but it WAS hot and dry and I am personally against sprinklers in that they only lead to more lawnmowing. I may change my mind on that, should I ever figure out how to knit on a riding mower. You may have also observed that they driveway is fairly generously sprinkled with pine needles. This is because the trees viciously spit them onto the concrete, even as Mr. K is cleaning them off. (I would, as a kind wife, help him with this task, but I draw the line at being spit on by trees. You have to have standards.)

It is this sort of day at Chez Madwoman:

I went this morning to pick up my books for the upcoming quarter (which starts next week). I would have picked them up sooner, so that I might peruse them and mount a full-scale panic (oh, anyone can do anxiety...but a really quality panic--now that takes time, committment), but the school decided for some reason to not make the fall books available until this week. This did, as I come to think about it, tend to sow the seeds of a whole other panic, so I should perhaps be appreciative. Here, let me think about it.....nope. I still think the bookstore sucks. Now, I would like to say that it is highly unusual for me to worried or fret about such a thing as school but, as both carryfairie and Mr. K read my blog, I think I will spare myself the humiliation of being caught in the biggest lie since the Trojan soldiers said "What, this? Oh, it's just a little trinket, really. Horses are good luck, you know!" Yeah, I fret a bit.

Mr. K says I "spin", by which he absolutely does NOT mean that I have a charming and fun hobby involving sheep and an old wooden wheel, but rather, that I have a distressing tendency to stress until I all but spin in place, sort of like one of those weird lawn ornaments (you know the ones that look like a little disjointed man running? And his legs are the part that spins around? Yeah, like that.). I believe he has also theorized that, on hot days, much money may be saved on cooling by simply placing me in the hottest room in the house and telling me something stressful. This may be true (yeah, yeah, okay--so it's true), but you know it really is a matter of: "Hello Kettle? This is the Pot calling...". Yeah, Mr, K has created a bit of a breeze himself from time to time. But that's a story for a different day, assuming he doesn't read this and hide the computer while I sleep.

Anyway, it's kind of a magical thinking thing with me. That is, I sort of feel like not worrying about school would be an irresistible temptation to the Fates, who would then have to go and get the gameboard down, while giggling in anticipation. And not a chessboard, I might add. No, nothing so dignified. This is a Chutes and Ladders board, people, and someone greased the chutes. But if I fret, some strange little part of my brain really believes that the Fates will go on to some other poor, unsuspecting soul and I might actually get through school unscathed. It's a lot like knitting a swatch, or buying just a bit more of that yarn that you absolutely know you won't need unless you don't buy it. And then it won't be there. Ya gotta appease the Fates, people, that's all I'm sayin'.

Of the three classes, one is Anatomy & Physiology. This doesn't worry me too hugely, as I've taken A & P classes in the past and been okay with them (note the careful use of language here--no waving the Fate red flag by saying something reckless like "and I'm really good at it"). But the supplies list includes a box of rubber gloves, and my tireless little brain has no trouble at all conjuring up disturbing images to go with that discovery. A friend of mine who took A & P said she had to dissect a sheep's heart. (Picture my eyes widening in horror here.) Besides that this seems like a dreadfully unfriendly thing to do to an innocent sheep, and besides the fact that it seems further to be an unthinkingly cruel thing to ask of a knitter, I'm forced to speculate on the usefulness of this learning. To wit: "Nurse, quickly!! This man has had a heart attack!!" Me, doubtfully: "Okaaaaaaay....but does he by any chance have a sheep's heart? Because that's really what I'm most familiar with." Likewise the Statistics class: Me: "Okaaaaaaay....tell you what. Give me a minute to compile this chart of statistical probabilities. There, see? He is really only 37% statistically likely to die from this given all of the variables, so that should make you feel much better, yes?" Yeah, I'm not getting this completely.

You'll have to bear with me--I only babble like this when utterly terrified, as I am now with the books over there on the counter staring at me. It should be better in...oh....three years or so.

In other, less scary, news: sweater has been blocked! Hooray!! We won't discuss the odd matter of the sleeves of two different sizes (they're not even 6 inches long! How in the world can a person make them differently????); suffice it to say that one sleeve is perhaps not the original and that, after one more stormy hour, they now match. The blocking went well and with only a minimum of swearing, most of this because of the presence of Miss Gracie, who really felt offended at being shut out of the room and dashed in at the first possible moment. And then waited under the bed, staring at me while I tried to get her out. Remember--Gracie is not the semi-feral cat. Rather, she is a very outgoing cat with a huge personality who considers that she is being very kind to allow me to live here AND actually pet her from time to time. I tried shooing her out but the look on her face said it all: "You're kidding, right? I'm supposed to be afraid of the biggest pushover in the house?" Anway, the little cat footyprints smoothed out nicely. I've spent the better (?) part of the day sewing up the sweater and trying to convince myself that I love this part (in much the way that I love running my pinky toe into a chair leg at 3:00 in the morning). Only the collar to go, and this dude's out the door.

My thanks to those lovely ladies who took the time to post their ideas about the coral sweater. I agree wholeheartedly. Perversely, I'm now suddenly drawn to the "Bianca's Jacket" design. Don't ask me why--I've never owned or made anything like it in my life but, out of the blue, it's calling to me. I'm not really sure if I'm the type of woman who wears that sort of sweater, or if it's just that I want to be the type of woman who wears that sort of sweater. I mean, she looks a bit more relaxed and laid back than I do at present. Okay, so a new member of the bomb squad looks a bit more relaxed and laid back than I do with those books looking at me. And I offer this largely because I'm all too aware that carrriefairy or Mr.K would be perfectly happy to reveal it for me. (But it must be said: both of these fine people have dealt with so much of my stress and spinning and full-on nuttiness, that they've earned the right to point it out. See guys? I appreciate you. And I only tease because I love.)

Oh, and to answer a couple of other comments: yes, it was indeed Miss carryfairie that yanked me off the knitting wagon, by shamelessly parading her naked socks in front of me until I could no longer resist. It's quite possible, however, that I had it coming--seeing as how I'm the one who taught her to knit in the first place. And I love the quilt ideas that some good folks offered. I know that Mr. K was hoping to wrap up in the finished product...but...well, he could kind of "scrunch up", couldn't he?