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June 30, 2010

The Lone Glove Ranger

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Well, it's been completed. My masterpiece, my moment of yarn greatness. I can say in all honesty with a totally impartial opinion that this glove is the finest thing ever created by humankind:

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(Action shot with the iphone camera!)

And here it is at rest on the keyboard where sonnets will be written extolling its beauty:

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Yes, I finally completed one whole hand knit glove with real fingers! One. One glove.

Soon I will cast on for the second glove, since July in Southern California is such great handknit wool glove weather. And I am casting on with this schizophrenic mess:

noroglove-finished4.jpg

You may be thinking to yourself, "Self, wasn't that once a pretty, well-adjusted skein of Noro Kureyon sock yarn? What the hell happened to that poor skein of yarn?"

And all I can say is that some people might be just a teetiny bit on the obsessive side and these alleged "some people" dug all the way through the skein of yarn until "they" discovered what appeared to be a similar colorway to glove #1 and thus made a yarn ball out of that part exclusively, so that glove #2 might have some hope of semi-matching glove #1. "Some people" ... crazy much?

Don't answer that.

One of the questions I've been getting asked about this glove is how to manage it with no ladders. Ladders are those telltale areas on handknit items knit on double-pointed needles where you can see almost a ridge of wider stitches where the DPNs were during construction. For me, there are two ways I avoid this and stay always ladder free:

1) I am a freakishly tight knitter anyway, but I always pull that first stitch on the DPN very tight
2) And most importantly, I move my stitches around the DPNs. A LOT.

What do I mean by moving the stitches around? Let's say you have an item knit in the round and you have four double-pointed needles. Each needle has twelve stitches on it. I would knit it that way for a few rounds then on the next round knit 12 off needle 1, and knit two off the next needle so I now have fourteen on needle #1. The next needle now has ten stitches. Knit those ten plus two off the third needle. And so on. I do this constantly in my projects (hats, especially) so the stitches don't have time to ladder. I did it on these gloves and have ladder-free handwarming.

Now, I'm no expert in knitting but I do love when I have a tip I can pass along. The only other special knittip I can offer up if you're making gloves is a little sneaky secret I learned back when I was making my first pair of mittens. This is a trick I have since used countless times -- I did it on all the baby sweaters and baby shoes I made, I did it with socks, and now I applied it liberally to my gloves.

Here it is:
When a pattern tells you to pick up and knit one stitch (or two) to cover a gap -- say, the gap between fingers-- in my world that one or two stitches would only cover a tiny bit of the gap and would leave a gigantor gaping hole. I can't have a gaping hole! So I pick up as many stitches as necessary to cover the whole open edge and on the next round I knit two together until I have my proper stitch count required by the pattern.

That trick works on necklines, armholes, even entrelac if you've had something go amiss on a square. For these gloves these was a GIANT edge of almost 3/4" long along the thumb gusset where the pattern wanted you to cast on one stitch to fill the gap. One stitch in sock yarn does not fill a 3/4" gap. Instead of doing that I picked up eight stitches and made a perfect closure, then on the next two rounds decreased evenly around so it was a gentle decrease and all was well.

noroglove-finished5.jpg
No big gaping holes.

I'm so happy with my one glove! I can't believe I actually created that with my own hands and just some string and sticks. I love knitting. I love the whole process of just figuring it out as you go along, I love yarn that changes colors, I love those tiny toothpick double-pointed-needles. I even love digging throughthe skein like a mental patient and finding the beginning of the orange-purple-green colorway. I love that if you mess up on a project (which I did, several times) you get your ol' brain working and try to figure out how to fix it and in the end you make something that's like wearable art. On one hand.

Now I just gotta cast on for that second glove...

Posted by laurie at 12:47 PM

June 28, 2010

It's happy up here on glove mountain

Sometimes I look at this hand-knit glove I'm making and I just can't believe I am the one knitting it! For one thing, it's redonkulously pretty. And the fingers look like they're all in the right areas. And I even must have measured correctly because a few times I've shoved my hand up parts of it and it fits.

noroglove-one-almost1.jpg

I'm using the build-your-own-pattern method from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges and my yarn is some delicious Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn in color S256 Lot A.


There was a moment of panic when a stealth criminal made a quick drive by and stole the glove. All I caught was this blurry shot on my iphone as proof:

chivas-butt-blurry.jpg

But aside from some spit residue and a slight tussle to remove the glove from the perpetrator's mouth, all is well.

I should be finished with it today! It's so exciting. I was bragging about this to my Dad who said, "Is that your tribute to Michael Jackson or are you planning to make two of 'em?" But non-knitters don't understand. Successfully finishing one is an accomplishment all its own. I think the statute of limitations on finishing the second glove (or sock, or sleeve) is at least a year. Or two. It varies from yarn to yarn.

I can't believe I have almost made a whole glove. With just a little puppy spit on the edges. Life is good.

noroglove-one-almost2.jpg

Posted by laurie at 7:48 AM

June 22, 2010

The father, the car and the neverending road

My parents and the dog and the Family Truckster have finally crossed into California, they're staying in a mountain resort just north of Palm Springs. I needed to get myself up that mountain.

My mom had to park The Rig (that's what they call the big motorhome) and drive down to Orange County to see Grandma, who'd taken to bed. Dad and the dog stayed behind, up on a mountain. I told my mom she was vying for Sainthood.

"More like The Betty," she told me.

Dad's been on the iffy side of well for more than a month now so it was exciting for me just to be able to see his face. And they're in my time zone! I rented a car because I didn't want to burn out my clutch driving in the mountains. My mom warned me it was a slippery road, full of hairpin turns and sharp drop-offs. But I didn't listen because had I listened I would never have attempted the ride.

Here's something you may not know about me. I am full-on crazy afraid of heights. I don't think about it very often, since I am rarely driving myself 7,000 feet up the side of a mountain. I stay firmly planted on the Valley, and when necessary I take pharmaceutical help to sit on a cushy airplane and have a well-trained pilot escort me to some destination that comes with wine in mid-flight service. So when I found myself on the very living edge of a DAMN MOUNTAIN CLIFF, with nothing but clear blue sky on the side of the road, I had to refrain from ralphing into my own handbag (it was a rental car, after all.) I stopped at one of the turnouts only long enough to tell myself that I was a wussy and a wimp and my mom had driven a whole motorhome up this sheer suicide cliff and here I was peeing myself in a rented Nissan Versa while the soundtrack of Hair blasted on the CD player.

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I made myself sing Manchester, England seven times while I drove up that mountain so slow I honestly could have walked it faster and I am a fat chick with the aerobic fitness of a ham.


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This angle makes it look like an easy drive. But it was impossible to photograph the scary parts because I had my eyes closed. Hah.


It was worth it though, to see my dad and the dog.

I love my dad. Not knowing, not being able to see his face, that's been the worst part. When you see someone you see them smile, grimace, frown, cough, laugh and you can judge for yourself how they are that day. I can know how he is when I see him. My dad has been the very center of my universe, the only steady and constant person in my whole chaotic life. I moved in with him just before I turned 12 and it was like reaching shore after churning in the sea for eleven years. Every day he's been the singular thing I could count on. I brought him ginger snaps and Lotto tickets and chocolate milk. It seemed like a poor thankyou for a lifetime of anchoring.

I brought the dog a bone:

chivas-avec-bone.jpg

That dog gets cuter every time I see him!

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And he smiles:

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I stayed through Father's Day and my mom came back to the mountain just in time to drive me down it herself. She sighed because I had to take half a Xanax and go to my safe and happy place while she drove because I have no balls and I am a pathetic excuse of a family member. I sweated so bad coming down that mountain my flip-flops started to slide off! How is it that I can sit on the cramped and angry freeways of Los Angeles all day and zen out with no problem, or how is it you can drop me in the middle of Turkmenistan and in an hour I'll have you in a hotel and drinking a cocktail ... but try to get me on a boat or a high cliff and I panic. Panic. The kind that's almost paralyzing. I fool myself into thinking I am brave but a little drive up a mountain to see the one person I love best in the whole world and I start sweating so bad I may have lost a bra size. My hands were sweating! My ears even sweated.

When I got closer to home and my city greeted me with crawling traffic I sighed with relief. I said, "I love you, traffic! I love you and your slow-n-go predictableness! Let us now relax and sing all the words to Age of Aquarius!" Which I did, with gusto.

love-my-la-traffic.jpg


Others in traffic were more aloof:

bumper-aloof.jpg

- - -

Oh, and it's my birthday. I'm old! My girlfriends are converging tonight at a restaurant with plenty of wine and we'll all pretend I don't have wrinkles. God love 'em.

Posted by laurie at 10:54 AM

June 18, 2010

The Apartment

There are three candles in tiny blown-glass cups atop my old TV set downstairs. I lit all three at 8:55 p.m. and sat on the sofa. And I was happy.

Pleased with my home. Happy in my surroundings. I have only lived here since September of 2009, and here I am nine months later finally happy in a place I will likely move from when my lease is up in three months. This is my life.

When I moved I knew that a new location did not provide instant happiness, I have read enough self-help and done enough navel-gazing to get that memo. But still inside me I assumed a change of location would be just what I needed. It was just what I needed to get out of the old location, but like the saying says, you take yourself with you. I came along with my closet and cats and shoes.

It had no pantry. I complained about that. It was dark. The building next door looks right into my windows. There are people on both sides, I can't vacuum at midnight anymore. It leaked when it rained. this broke, that broke. Complain, complain, complain.

And all the sudden I had this new element -- time. I spent all day vacuuming, I got the stairs one by one, the bedrooms, the vent in the dryer. I LOVE to vacuum. And I finally hung all my paintings, installed the two hanging lamps in the bedroom, magic-erasered the spots off the walls, wiped down the whole kitchen top to bottom, put up some art in the downstairs half-bath, cleaned all the toilets, dusted, cleaned out the old magazine pile. I lit the candles in their little cups (dusted just hours before, shined up and gleaming) and I realized I love my home.

I did not have to buy anything or go anywhere or re-arrange the furniture or make a wish list. All I had to do was clean and hang and sort and dust and arrange. I already have the pieces. I just needed to plug into them.

That's the rub. You have all the pieces, you just need to dust them. My neighbors have a dinner party and I love hearing the glasses tink against one another, I like the laughter heard across the alley, the helicopter hovering above over traffic, the sounds of a city. I never feel truly alone in this apartment, shelved in on both sides by living, breathing neighbors, neither of whom I have met. When you live so compactly you keep your privacy. I like the way we're all so quiet and polite to each other and guarded. And I like hearing the windows shut, the baby next door cries, the people in the building across the alley shush the dog.

I don't own a home. I own the stuff inside it. I pack it, cart it, ship it, move it, carry it, arrange it, dust it. Can anyone ever own a house? Or does it own you, telling you to fix this, caulk that, mow the lawn? I have never owned a home. I only know how to own my stuff, and still it has taken me nine months to do it! It surprised me that all I had to do was clean and dust and sort and spit-shine and hang some pictures and spend a little time loving the stuff I had just yesterday badmouthed for anchoring me down. That anchor may be the only thing keeping me tethered. It's such a luxury, being able to dust and polish and see your stuff. I just had to plug in.

Yeah, it seems like a small thing. But it's your home. It's your to-do list. It's where you sleep each night. And I lit the candles and had a hot cup of tea with a little shot of Calvados and I stretched all my muscles from a day of deep-cleaning and it was damn good. Home, for now.

Posted by laurie at 8:51 PM

June 17, 2010

At the Movies

A couple of weeks ago, Jennifer and I went to See "Sex and the City 2." After just ten minutes, we walked out. I don't think I have ever walked out of a movie before, but definitely not after just ten minutes.

I have asked for my money back on a movie, though. (Not for Sex and the City, sadly. We used passes. Still a waste.) The movie I got my money back for seeing was "Sommersby." I must have been in college already, and my friend Stefanie and I went to see this movie at the mall. We were both on very lean budgets so going to the movies was a treat. We both got sucked into the story and from what I remember the performances were good (this was over 15 years ago, yikes, I am old, moving on.)

So I did what audiences are expected to do in a movie -- suspend reality, sink into it. And now I am going to tell you how it ends, so if your whole life you wanted to see Somersby and still want a surprise you should stop reading.

This movie strings you along into a deepening fantasy and romantic love story for 112 minutes of your life and then in the last two minutes they suddenly wake up, decide to inject REALITY into the plot and kill the romantic hero. Kill him off, just like that. The end, roll the effing credits, screw you, audience! You thought it was a Cinderella tale set in the Reconstruction? Ha! Fooled you! Suckers!

I have never hated a movie as much as I hated that movie. So I marched over to the ticket booth and demanded our money back and got it. It was also the night I developed my "Somersby Theory of Moviegoing" which has now been expanded to books and TV shows. I will not spend my time or money on a movie (or show or book, usually, though sometimes I give books more of a pass) that asks me to suspend disbelief for a portion of my life and then at the end injects some flawed reality just for the hell of it and kills off the person you're invested in. Won't do it. It's FANTASY, people. Unless I am watching an autobiography, I do not want your reality. I want costumes, hair, makeup, and a script that doesn't cop out with a sad tearjerker cemetery scene just because the writer had no idea how to craft a decent ending.

So now I ask. I ask ahead of time, "Does the dragon/dog/ogre/hot leading actor die in the end?" It drives some people crazy. They cannot fathom wanting to know the end before it happens. For them, the whole movie is about the twist at the end. But I can't relax if I think I'm about to get Somersbied. Some people refuse to tell me so I have to google it instead.

The most recent example was "The Hurt Locker." (By the way, I LOVED this movie. LOVED.) Before I saw it I was talking with my friend Cindi, who'd just seen it, and I asked her if Jeremy Renner dies at the end. I was on the fence about seeing it, since I can't imagine spending two hours watching Jeremy Renner be a hero then have to sit through his death. In my Somersby Theory of Moviegoing, I know I would prefer to know ahead of time if he's croaking at the end. That way I can make an informed decision, you see. And if he does croak, by knowing ahead of time I'm not stressed out the whole time. Knowing the character's fate ahead of time doesn't keep me from seeing a movie, but I need to know. I need to manage my expectations.

"Cindi," I asked, "does the cute guy die at the end?"

"I'm not telling you that!" said Cindi. She was aghast. Offended, even.

"No, I really want to know. I have to know before I see it," I said.

"No way," she said. "That ruins the whole movie."

"Oh really?" I asked. "Maybe it ruins the movie for you, but for some of us who spent over two hours worrying about the fate of the freaking teddy bear in 'A.I.,' I can assure you that knowing the outcome is the only way to enjoy the movie. All I remember about AI is the anxiety about the freaking teddy bear."

She just stared. Apparently she did not see AI, or if she did, she managed to move past the perils of the teddy bear and see the actual movie happening around it. She refused to tell me if Jeremy Renner's character died or not so I had to google it. The internet has made my Somersby Theory much more enforceable.

I saw The Hurt Locker and it was tense, even knowing the outcome, but the good kind of tense. Enjoyable. There are some movies my Somersby Theory has saved me from, though. "Phenomenon" comes to mind. "Powder." Some movie years ago with a dragon. There was a time in the 1990s when every other movie had some horrible "let's kill the protagonist" ending. It was like an entire generation of screenwriters wrote themselves into a box and at the end the only way they could wrap it up was to kill the main character and roll the credits. "City of Angels" was outstandingly awful (HATED HATED that movie. You want me to buy Nicholas Cage as an angel and then two hours later you want to turn your movie into some stupid nightly news show about a senseless car wreck? Maybe it worked in the original German version in the 1980s but a 1990s hollywood blockbuster remake with an almost insultingly bad ending? COME ON. Like a surgeon would ride a bike on a blind curve on an unfamiliar mountain road with her EYES SHUT.) (Come to think of it, I got my money back on that movie, too.)

I know that everyone is not like me and some will find this insane. Some people like being jerked into reality, some people like jagged endings, some people like horror movies and being scared and surprised. Me, I like knowing ahead of time. I flip to the last page in a particularly engaging mystery book. Yep, you heard me. I like to know how it ends because then I can go back and enjoy the unraveling of the story. After all, it's fiction, it's fantasy. Maybe it's because in real life I never know what will happen next. Or maybe I'm just wound too tightly. It doesn't bother me one bit but Lord it seems to freak other people out. The idea of the surprise ending is sacrosanct.

I just like to know ahead, is all. Preparation is the key to success!

- - -

Comments are still off because I have not managed to fix or break anything with great success.

Posted by laurie at 6:40 AM

June 14, 2010

OK, I felt that one.

We just had an earthquake... according to the news it was a 5.7 and it was down near the Mexicali area. But I felt it all the way up here in the Valley. I was on the sofa catching up on my New York Real Housewives (judge silently to yourself) when the cats all woke up and the capiz shell lamps started jingling on their own.

The first thing I do when I feel a shaker is to turn on news radio. Then I pour a drink and say a little thankyou that it was only a tremor. Now I am listening to people call into the radio and talk about their experiences ... "I was watching '60 Minutes' on the DVR, of course, because that program is only on on Sundays, anyway, I was sitting there and my dog barked. We thought he needed to go outside so we opened the door and then I noticed we might be shaking. The dog went out anyway."

"I'm in Burbank and I definitely felt it, I was engaged in reading some Ayn Rand works here, and I felt a rolling effect. It wasn't a shock, but it was rolling. And like I said I was reading and it didn't feel like an earthquake but I thought it was because we were moving. But I was reading. Ayn Rand."

"Like, I'm at a hotel in Hollywood and like, nothing much happened. But like the first thing I do, like, when I have an earthquake is turn on KNX. Well, after it stops. Like, you know. To see what's up."

God I love this city.

Posted by laurie at 9:47 PM

Swatching

Sometimes when I don't feel like paying close attention to detailed knitting and I don't have an easy project lying nearby (my gloves are lovely but certainly do require me to pay attention) I like to pick up some pretty yarn and swatch. Or I'll make a center-pull ball, which is a very zen activity once you get the hang of it. (I keep meaning to post a little picture tutorial on making a center pull ball but I need to recruit a friend to either model or take the pictures since I don't have four hands.)

Recently I picked up some Noro Kocharon from my stash and started making a center-pull ball. The good: this yarn is DELICIOUS, buttery soft and so silky. The bad: There was a knot midway through the skein attaching two completely different colors which makes me crazy. All three skeins have had a knot! It's annoying in a cheap yarn but downright irritating in an expensive yarn. There was no way to smooth out the colorways (usually if they're close enough and if there's enough wool content I'll try a felted join and it works fine.) This time I snipped out the knot and got one larger yarn ball and one smaller ball which I used for swatching:

kocharon-swatch1.jpg
(Oh, I put a full skein in the back there because I thought it was pretty.)

When I'm trying to decide which needle size works best sometimes I do a single long block of stockinette separated by ridges of garter stitch. The first block (in red) was knit on size 10.5 needles, then I did a block in size 10 and then the top block, still attached to the needles, is worked on a size 9 needle:

kocharon-swatch2.jpg

After I bind off, I'll safety pin a little note to the swatch reminding what needles I used and all that. I think I want to make a sweater out of this yarn, I love it, its so beautiful. I've been looking for a sweater that I could use with this yarn but I specifically wanted a certain style and I wanted the stripes to go vertically, not horizontally on the body, and then I found Imogen by Perl Grey. I already bought the pattern. I'm excited about making a whole sweater for myself! And I think these crazy colors will make a perfect cardigan for me. It's kind of exciting to work on your first adult sweater! If you call swatching working that is...

Posted by laurie at 9:00 AM

June 11, 2010

Action shots

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frankie-on-patrol.jpg


Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Posted by laurie at 10:05 AM

June 10, 2010

Just imagine if they had thumbs

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Soba: Shut up, I'm the one with the Twitter account. I'm not following Ashton Kutcher just because you want me to. I'm following that Lindsay Lohan.

Frankie: But Ashton is so cute.

Soba: Have you considered flossing? Your meow is releasing defcon five breath.

Frankie: I assume that means something pretty, like me. Have you seen my beautiful whiskers lately?

Soba: Have you seen my paw of death lately? Hold the shift key and zip it while I type.


(and so on)

Posted by laurie at 9:02 AM

June 9, 2010

The big snooze

The sleep is on.

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Posted by laurie at 7:50 AM

June 8, 2010

The sentry

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Kilroy was here.

Posted by laurie at 7:20 AM

June 7, 2010

I'm Free Fallin' ... and yet that is not the song I will embed in your head for later.

Last week was so ... uncharted. It was the first time in eight and a half years -- normal weekdays, not vacation or holiday -- that I didn't wake up and get dressed in my work clothes and get on the road for my commute into downtown Los Angeles. June 4th was my last day at the bank. There were tears and fond farewells and promises to stay in touch. Almost a decade of service to the bank, that is a long time! I made some true friends there-- Jen, Amber, Corey, Work Jen, Michael, it's a long list that could fill paragraphs. Oh Lord we need a new name for Work Jen.

So my job ended, I am fine, I am not sure what the future holds but things always seem to work out.

And for now that's all I have to say about it.

The cats like it. They are plotting together to make me give them treats every two hours, I can just feel it. Today instead of getting on the road and crawling in bumper to bumper traffic, I am going to go for a walk. I will walk, and then come home and shower and make coffee and have breakfast and write a chapter. Then I will probably use a magic eraser to clean something to death. I absolutely, positively will not miss the commute. And I can finally go visit my dad, who I have missed to no end and worried about and I just need to see his face, hug him. In every panic-ridden change is this built-in flipside -- for me, here I have this time to visit with my parents, it's a luxury! I can write without keeping one eye on the clock, I am not sitting in traffic, I can do all the laundry. I have been wanting to fix some of the database issues with this site for five years and just cracked the surface last week, but it's a start. I built a website for my brother. I drove out to the beach and it was cold there and overcast and I walked up and down the sand until I was exhausted and then I just watched the waves come in. I haven't done that in years. I needed to just be in the presence of something big and vast, and the Pacific Ocean fits the bill. I love the ocean. I never went to the coast anymore because my weekends were full of laundry and prepping for the week ahead and making all my lunches and doing all the errands and life was so compact and tight and there was no time to sit on the sand.

It was a little gift. I breathed. Ocean air is good, even in Los Angles.

Actually this new change in my life is a little present in disguise because it offers me the great opportunity to get you hooked on some Wilson Phillips before 6 a.m.!

You know -- you hold on for one more day! You can thank me later for getting that gem stuck on replay in your noggin.

- - -

[Comments are closed today.]

Posted by laurie at 7:47 PM

Cat Week begins! Like Shark Week with 100% less sharks!

Hi! I'm going to be doing a much needed overhaul to the software of this website and working on the database which makes me sound very technical but I am giving you this disclaimer because:

1) At any time this website and any of its eleventynine million pages will probably all break, often, and if the site disappears for a while you know it was just that button I pushed that time. Whoops!

2) Do not fear, I have a backup.

3) But comments will be off as I try to make major updates to how they function, like having your name look like it's part of the comment. HUH. GOOD IDEA.

4) Also I'm going to try adding normal size ad spaces and when I get it working I may need you to help me test it all out. And if I manage to do most of that without completely breaking the whole server I will even try to PDF some of the lengthy patterns, like the loop stitch tutorial, but don't hold your breath on that one. At least not in a week. But maybe!

So thank you for your patience as I muck around and try to imitate a person who knows what she is doing. If you are a person who knows MT fairly well and want to offer me advice I am 100% open to that! I also accept prayer in time of database reassessment.

It is so much easier to get work done with the good help I have:

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He is not transparent.

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But he is very helpy.

Posted by laurie at 8:14 AM

June 4, 2010

All is well in Gloveville today

glovegussetfixed.jpg

I really appreciated everyone's pattern feedback on my glove situation the other day. I think things are going to be fine with glove-opolos and the gusset is not as dire as we may have thought. For one thing, I am a fairly slow and plodding knitter so I was only a few rounds in. And with the General Innernet Consensus saying the pattern is really asking for me to knit two rounds then increase on round number three, I got out a pen and paper and got to work trying to figure it all out which involved colorful sharpies. I'm one of those people who need visual aids. I count on my fingers sometimes, too, which I am sure is awe-inspiring to other grownups.

I just needed to throw in a couple more increase rounds and then my row count and gusset stitch count were back on track.

What I think is funny here is how committed I am to not ripping out my stitches. These may be the tiniest stitches I have ever knit in my life. In the case that I was unable to make the increases go right, I was fully prepared to bind off and felt this sucker into a camera sleeve. Now you know the real reason why I love to knit with wool -- feltability in case of emergency!

And I am always surprised to find out how many folks hate double-pointed needles. I understand it, mind you, even though I don't personally have deep-vein-dpn-aversion I know one knitter friend who hates the mere sight of them. I think she visibly shudders when I whip out my tiny needles of doom. But still I forget what a thing this can be for some folks, that is until I write about a project using DPNs and I get a lot of links and emails with links to tutorials on the Magic Loop and magic this or that or special tiny gnomes or patterns for the same thing I'm making knit flat.

Speaking of knitting flat items... I had purchased these Noro books a while back specifically to make the gloves I saw inside:

pattern-norobooks.jpg

pattern-norogloves1.jpg

Those gloves looked great! But when I read the pattern (and all the glove patterns inside) more carefully I realized they were knit flat and seamed at the end. Seamed. All ten fingers. I don't want seamed fingers, I wanted to knit in the round! With the little short toothpick-looking DPNs I'd purchased special.

So I admit it, I kind of like knitting with DPNs. It's sort of primitive and nutty. Everyone just finds what works for them in knitting, it's all good. I think I like the mechanics of it, how you get a rounded tubelike item out of a bunch of toothpicks. Then again, I secretly enjoy PowerPoint, too. There's something very satisfying about taking a tool most people hate and making a presentation so beautiful that people weep in appreciation. OK, not that anyone has ever actually been brought to tears with my mad PowerPoint skills but I have had fancypants executives specifically ask for me on their presentations, which in Corporatespeak is kind of the same thing.

The first project I ever made on DPNs (not PowerPoint, hah) was my Kitty Pi, and I think the sense of accomplishment I got from making that on my own was so overwhelming that it colored my DPN experience. In fact, that kitty pi may have even been the first real pattern I ever followed. Ah, the things we do for our felines.

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The real author of this site, sitting at her keyboard.

Posted by laurie at 4:30 AM

June 3, 2010

Happy hour

After work last night a few of us got together for drinks and dinner at the Bonaventure. It was so nice, we don't do that very often, mostly just for special events. It was my favorite group of people. My old beloved boss (he's not old, he's just not been my boss for the past 53 days, not that I am counting) (much), and perfect, charming Corey of course who planned the whole thing, she has the world's best laugh, and Work Jen who makes me smile and feel at home just seeing her. There was Larry who is renown at the bank as being a man who can fix anything and who told us a story that involved large beer bottles and duct tape. Rocena was there, she and I have known each other since my first day on the job. She was the one who all those years ago patiently answered my online banking questions and later ...many moons later... I was such an evangelist and convert to online banking that I worked for eight months building out business online banking with Michele, who also came last night, and Amber, one of my closest friends.

It was Amber that was with me when I went all Mary Poppins on some dude in a gutter in Paris and whacked him upside the head with my umbrella and my repressed southern girl rage. We have seen each other through so many birthdays that we actually stopped counting out of compassion.

And then there was New Jersey, our 25-year-old newest addition to the office who has been there two years now(!) and still can surprise everyone. One day last month he showed up at work with a huge shiner, a big black eye with stitches crawling across his brow and claimed, "Uh, basketball mishap." That lasted about six minutes before we heard the story, which gets better at every telling, of New Jersey getting into a tussle at the Roosevelt on a Saturday. It's one thing to have a knock-down-drag-out at a seedy bar in downtown but at the Roosevelt this is kind of an accomplishment. I love his stories. I love listening to him talk-- half bullshit and half pure, unadulterated lust for life.

He is living life. The life, the one where you move to L.A. and just plug into it. He lives without abandon. I love it. It reminds me what it felt like to be 17, 18 years old and think the whole world was just waiting for me. I was always a cautious, careful kid but at 18 I still thought only in terms of what great stuff could happen maybe. I didn't know shit about retirement and checkbooks and insurance and life-altering decisions and fat pants and divorces and the very idea that my own father could fall ill was so impossible to me that even until two weeks ago I didn't believe it to be true, because he was always invincible. Larger than life.

Here's a funny story about my dad: I once worked for him at his newspaper and he had a visceral reaction to my love of Al Gore (let's say it was like throwing up, but expressed verbally) and my father, the proud and deeply conservative businessman could not understand why I kept a framed picture of Al Gore on my desk (next to a framed picture of Peter Jennings, and then one of my dog at the time, Mr. Charlie.) So one night I snuck into the office and replaced my father's family portraits all neatly framed and lined up behind his desk with pictures of Al Gore.

It was so much fun. I cracked my ownself up for days and days. I think my daddy may have needed a Silkwood shower when he first saw the lineup of Al faces watching him.

I do love my father. I do love to torture him.

Oh, to just stay in that space where you're 17 or 19 or 22 or even 25 (though by 25 I had already lost my way) and yeah, of course you have BIG DRAMATIC PROBLEMS but mostly they will be solved by someone calling you back or by you looking hot that night or by you and your friends hauling off to the coast for a weekend of drunken cookouts and someone doing shots with tabasco in them.

I think we get older and scared and we make life so hard, so complex, we pick it or it picks us but either way we start getting into the details so hard and furtively that we lose the 23-year-old way we rushed up each day to see what new thing would show up. We get consumed with the very details of living life. I wasn't always that way, you know. I used to dance first when my favorite band played. I used to be that wild girl in high school you wanted to hang out with because I didn't care if you thought my hair was ridiculous and I could talk my way out of anything ("You could talk a dog off a meat truck," one of my high school friends told me, in teenage awe, as I talked us out of a citation for underage drinking. "Officer, we feel that littering has reached a critical mass and the youth must pick up for the excesses of our older brothers and sisters... which is why we followed them here and will clean this campground of the heathen liquor litter...") I loved just living. I was too young to know it, though.

On Tuesday all lanes of the southbound 101 were closed and traffic had seized up like a heart attack, what people don't know unless they drive here is how one freeway fubar creates a domino effect on all the tributaries and side streets, every road becomes impassable. And so I stayed home and had a coffee, wrote, went for a walk, came in to work later once the lanes had all opened. As I drove by the scene of the accident I could still see debris in the left lane and a gash across the freeway and down into the embankment. I thought, was this person just going to work and that was it, it just ended? And all anyone cared about was the traffic?

And then I wondered why I think morbid junk like that.

But I think junk like that to remind me to plug in. Plug the hell into life! That attitude of being hopeful and invincible can come back. It exists inside us. The belief in a future of endless possibilities doesn't have to go away just because we get older. We can start making a whole list of why it won't work out ... or make a list of why it will. Or screw the list, just go live some life.

The best times are when you spend more energy living and less time worrying about consequences that may never come to pass. I'm writing this not to lecture you but to remind myself to just relax.

Posted by laurie at 12:26 AM

June 2, 2010

Is it tacky for me to wear white? Should we do an evite since it's better for the environment? Am I going to hell for writing this?

When the news broke yesterday that Al and Tipper Gore were separating I wouldn't say I was happy because having endured the end of a marriage myself obviously I feel deep compassion for them and then I wrote my new name, Mrs. Al Gore, twenty times in my notebook. Or should I hyphenate? I had a hard time picking out a china pattern that was produced in an eco-friendly factory. We may have to go with vintage Fiestaware. And I guess we'll have to split our time between L.A. and Tennessee, which is so convenient because I LOVE Tennessee! I worked on his first campaign for President you know. Back when he was wearing the red plaid shirt, I was still in high school. Not that I stalked at an early age. I was just very civic minded.

Seriously, though ... I was shocked to hear they're ending their marriage. I thought those two would be together forever and it makes me a little sad.

Also, it will be harder for us to have a private ceremony with all the paparazzi hanging around.

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Will Bob like his new daddy? Will I be able to dial down my addiction to paper towels? Will my bridesmaids have to wear dresses made out of recycled tea bags? So many questions.

By the way, you are all TOTALLY invited to the wedding.

Posted by laurie at 5:03 AM

June 1, 2010

May wrap-up ... welcome June, New Start # 276

The very best part of a brand-new month is that it's a fresh start. I'm almost halfway through the year and this is as good a time as any to have stumbled and get up again, reboot. After all, in general people don't change their whole life in a day (or 151 days). You try, you fail, you try more, eventually you get better ... or you move and change your name. Actually I'm glad these are my challenges. If I didn't have this stuff to work on I'm sure I'd find some other messes to get in and muck around with and they'd probably cost more.

So I did accomplish one goal in May -- I ate more vegetables than I did in April. Largely because April was the nutritional equivalent of a deep-fried snickers bar. Set the bar low enough and you are bound to succeed.

Actually in May I crossed a major veggie barrier. I have never in the past purchased fresh, pre-cut, pre-washed vegetables (for example, baggies of broccoli, baby carrots and cauliflower.) When you grow up poor you grow up with a thrift mentality about some things, you know? For some folks it's re-using baggie ties, others cannot let go of a gift bag, or order the more expensive entree on the menu during a group lunch (even though you know in advance everyone will split the check evenly and you will feel cheated.) I'm not judging -- everyone has their stuff. For me, it was buying the broccoli and cauliflower whole and then cutting and chopping and cleaning it at home because to me those pre-cut vegetables just smacked of wasted money. Interestingly enough, my monetary moral high horse stops at the crudites, because I have no problem buying bagged salad and pre-shredded cheese.

Like I said, everyone has their stuff.

This month I crossed over that line. One night mid-month I wanted roasted broccoli and cauliflower for dinner which in itself is a minor miracle. It was a work night, however, so I had no time to stand in the kitchen and cut and pare and clean and soak and so on. Traffic had been more heinous than usual, the day was long, the commute was long, everything had been a drain. I contemplated my fast food options and realized no matter where I went or what I bought it would still cost me more than the $2.39 for a baggie of chopped and washed broccoli and cauliflower. That's right -- I ran the numbers on McDonald's value meal versus a baggie of pre-chopped vegetables!

So I stopped at the market on the way home and grabbed a few bags of pre-cut vegetables and loaded up on some two-buck-chuck.

I got home that night and dumped the pre-cut vegetables in a big bowl. Preheated the oven to 400F, added lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the vegetables, a little garlic salt, a sprinkle of cayenne. It was so fast! Spread them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. I roasted them while I was upstairs changing clothes and washing my face. Dinner was a huge helping of delicious goodness and it took me less than three minutes to prepare and just 30 minutes to cook. Topped with Parmesan cheese it was comfort in a bowl.

That was my major May accomplishment.

The rest of May is a blur of wine and stress and cheetos. I walked twice in May. Two days out of 31. No es bueno, senor.

May was... metaphorical tremors in one life.

It's all right. June is all about change and I am right there with it. YES. Most every night in May I had a minor freak out but talked myself off the ledge. Isn't that what the Year of Yes is all about? Talking yourself off the window ledge?

There is nothing but the open expanse of June ahead. I have no idea what will happen, but I'm here. That is where I am. And I have several bags of pre-cut vegetables in the fridge and more two-buck Chuck than you can shake a stick at.

(Ends with a preposition)


- - -

My goals for June are:

1) Think of three things each day to relish and appreciate (My three today are: Dad, cats, Jeep.)
2) Eat vegetables
3) Believe there is another possibility that I just haven't considered yet.


I once heard Marianne Williamson say, "I asked for a miracle. And I considered the possibility of another possibility."

That's my favorite quote right now, I put it on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror.

Oh don't forget to stir the veggies halfway through roasting. Gets them all evenly brown.

Posted by laurie at 7:07 AM