Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Won't Grow Up

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.--Randy Pausch

For many years, when I would persist and persist and persist to achieve one goal or another, my late husband Jimmy would say to me, "Stop BANGING your head against a brick wall."

As much as I loved and adored him, this was something that I don't think he quite understood about me.

If you have not yet heard about Randy Pausch or seen his remarkable "Last Lecture" on YouTube, shame on you. It is a remarkable legacy and one that I have found moving, funny, and wonderfully snarky. If you're lazy, I have the entire video up on Swing Time. It runs more than an hour but worth ever second.

One of the things that Randy discusses in his lecture is "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."

I was a dreamer as a child. My parents never set limits on what I could do, so I honestly believed that I could do anything. What were my childhood dreams?

  1. I wanted to be an archaeologist specializing in Egyptology and wanted to make a discovery greater than Howard Carter's King Tut.
  2. I wanted to be a great writer and poet.
  3. I wanted to sing and play guitar in a rock band (Chrissie Hynde has always been my girl. We sing in the same range. Chrissie had the guts to do what I didn't.)
  4. I wanted to go to London.
  5. I wanted to be a clothing designer.
I was a strange kid, granted. But to this day, I still have dreams. As should we all. Did I achieve any of my childhood dreams? Well, I'm a writer. Not a great one, for sure, but a writer nonetheless. I've been to London twice. I design my own sweaters and such when I don't get lazy and use someone else's pattern. Never sang with a rock band. Archaeology is still an interest but not a career. Never got to go on a dig.

So. Here's the Open Mic Thursday question:

What were your childhood dreams and which of them did you achieve?

I find this a fascinating question, one that gives you pause to review your life. Randy Pausch truly did give new meaning to carpe diem. He led a rare and handy life. So should we all, no matter how old we are. And I will not grow up. I still have those childhood dreams.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

16 on Monday? NOOOOOOO!! Yes.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer. When I took it out, it was gone.--Steven Wright

I think that the solution to this universal problem is to buy enough sock yarn to make three socks. Well, perhaps that's just insanity rather than a solution.

Yes, the Punk Princess turns sweet 16 next Monday, the 28th. Jesus. If anything could make me feel reeeaallly old, it's that. But as Liz says, "You're NOT old, Gram." No, I suppose not. I'll always be her Gangsta Gram. As the Who said, "Hope I die before I get old."

This was Liz at 2. And here's my pal now, with one of her friends, swiped from her Facebook. She's a talented artist, a drummer (who's going to learn how to play bass), and an all-around funky kid. Blood tells, for sure.

So, Dizzy Ms. Lizzy, Happy Birthday. For the past six years, you've been making cameo appearances on my blog. So fercrissakes, start your own, will ya?

Life in General
I've been busy finishing up the Las Vegas Brights scarf and then rummaging around for something to take its place. Unfortunately, I have not had any time to spin, so I guess I won't win the Maillot Jaune this year. I got the scarf blocked out on the porch. Just yanked it out and shaped it rather than trying to pin it. That would have been sheer madness.

I was flipping through last summer's Knitter's, one of the scant decent issues, the one that had Celeste's Campanula. And found a lace jacket thingie by Nancy Marchant that appealed, Loden Mist. I discovered five balls of Dewberry Kidsilk Haze in the stash. I'll be damned if I remember why the fuck I bought them. But they work for the jacket. This piece is finished and the left front is almost done.

Sometimes you just get sick of making shawls and it's time to go back to garments. I love to do the finishing on sweaters. Yeah. Sick. But to me, it's a different process with its own rewards. I still have that Lavold pullover to finish, the one from last fall. So that's next. The Cobweb Crepe shawl is on hold. I need to stitch me some clothing together.

Open Mic Thursday

Well, I kinda missed last week but it seems as if the last topic had a life of its own. This past week, while digging in the stash for the Kidsilk Haze, I was ruminating on how much I love to work with it. A lot of people don't, simply because it's a bitch to rip out. Rowan yarns are some of my very favorites, along with the magazines and the incredible designs.

However, there are a few yarns that I will never, ever work with again. One is Wildefoote sock yarn. It split so badly that I ended up throwing the shit out. That's one.

Of course, I won't work with crap. It's the stuff that you presume isn't shit but turns out to be awful--that's what I'm talking about.

So here ya are:

What yarn will you never, ever work with again?

Yeah, caveat emptor. So make like Consumer Reports and give everyone your sob story.

Gulp. Six Years Tomorrow.
Christ, it really has been six years. I started this mess on July 25, 2002. I figured it would amuse me for about three months. It certainly took my focus away from my troubles, which at the time were legion. A dead husband, a mortgage I was barely able to pay, two adult children back home with their kids, and a job that was on its way out.

But there was always knitting. And writing. And so it shall remain, always. Knitting is the lover that never disappoints, that always gives back in kind. Whenever I feel alone, sad, and unmotivated, all I have to do is pick up them sticks and start focusing on the fabric I'm making.

The same goes for writing. As I've always said, this blog is my main self-indulgence. I write for me. Only me. If somebody reads it, great. If nobody reads it, hey, it's a legacy for my kids.

Liz and I often talk about my family history, which she seems to find fascinating. So for her and Ian, this blog and the books I'm currently writing, are reason enough to keep on keeping on. Because if nothing else, it's been a rare and occasionally handy life.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who IS Keyser Soze?

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And poof. Just like that, he's gone.--Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), "The Usual Suspects"

And poof. Just like that, I'm here. God, I love this movie. Just finished watching it on TV and I never get tired of it.

So, this will be a down and dirty entry. I've been working from home all week and amazingly, been quite busy. But it beats the shit outta going anywhere. I had this idea that I would write today's bit this afternoon but lo! A document arrives from the wilds of Slovenia, 49 deeliteful pages to be edited between today and tomorrow.

Oh well. Here I am, and it's late.

But it's still Thursday, so hang on.

Open Mic Thursday
Besides eating a bowl of butter pecan ice cream today, which I had no business shoving down my trachea, I spent a little time doing something clandestine.

Yeah, I have these guilty pleasures that no one would ever think I would do. Besides eating ice cream, which habit is quite well known to those near and dear to me. Particularly one Super Jeenyus next door, who frequently cons me into walking to the store down the block for various flavors. Such as cherry vanilla, his favorite. With Hershey's chocolate sauce. Shit, he calls ME an enabler.

So what are my true guilty pleasures? Here they are, not necessarily in order of preference:

  1. Vanity Fair and People magazines
  2. Playing cards and other dopey games on
  3. A real New York egg cream (if you have to ask, then you're clearly from another country)
  4. S'mores
  5. Super Jeenyus (es schmecht sehr gut)
OK, dish.

What are your guilty pleasures?

They need not be of the knitting variety. You will note that I do not consider knitting a guilty pleasure.

Tour de Fleece
I'm doing it. Every day. Spinning a silk roving called Grape Harvest. Quite lovely, I'm enjoying it. I do love to spin silk. So here's the proof in the pudding, as it were, for the past few days.

July 5

July 6

July 7

July 8

I'm really surprised at how much I've managed to spin as of today. Here's a picture of the roving spread out. The red arrow marks the middle of the roving. I always divide rovings in half and mark that point with some white cotton yarn, so that I can balance out the two bobbins more or less.
I took a day off from spinning today because I wanted to get back to knitting the Cobweb Crepe shawl, now that the Las Vegas Brights scarf is finished. I'll block that next weekend and then ship it off to Susan.

So much lace to knit, so little time. I'm contemplating knitting a lace curtain for my one living room window. A pattern from one of the Kinzel books has caught my eye and I have plenty of coned 8/2 cotton lying around.

Wrist Wrought
Well, I knew this was coming and I'm not overly surprised. The carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist has finally gotten to the point where I may no longer ignore it. A trip last week to my wonderful orthopedist, Dr. Rubman (great name, is it not?), kinda brought me back to reality. It's looking more and more like there will be surgery in the near future. I am most definitely losing strength in my thumb and index finger, as well as having increased discomfort.

I can still knit--the way I use my needles does not involve twisting my wrist. And Dr. Rubman blames the computer and mousing, not knitting, as the cause of the CTS.

So, now what? He says the surgery isn't so bad. He doesn't knit. Or type and mouse to make his living. I will have to make a decision on the 29th, when I go back to see him. I'm wearing my brace religiously, using a topical anti-inflammatory, and nothing's working.

I figure, I'll still be able to spin and if I can't knit, I'll pull out the embroidery and do that, since I draft and hand-sew with my left hand.

Being ambidextrous is a rare and handy thing. I will not be inactive. Fuck surgery. Just gimme some good drugs and I'll keep on keepin' on.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No Red, White, and Blue Ackrilic Knitted Objects Allowed on the Premises

Best Quote I Heard All Day

July 4. Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one 4th of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.--Mark Twain

I love fireworks. Here in PA they are legal and you can even buy them in the supermarket. I was so fucking tempted to buy a bunch and shoot 'em off tomorrow. If it doesn't rain, which it's supposed to.

Friggin' Flag Knitting
The only garment made from a flag that was truly cool was worn by The Who back in the '60s. When Carnaby St. was the fashion universe, at least to this then 17 year old.

Here's the perfect KnitDweeb patriotic project. Red, white, and blue warshcloth done in the Old Shale pattern. Nice, huh? Of course, this is done in Sugar 'n Cream, available at the Michaels, AC Moore, WalMart, Hobby Lobby, and other wonderful KnitDweeb emporia.

Or perhaps you'd prefer to crochet a lovely flag afghan? Materials: Red Heart, but of course.

Now, these American flag socks are rather funky. And made with real wool, gang. I'd almost be tempted to make these, just to be obnoxious.

And, in keeping with the true KnitDweeb spirit, all of the aforementioned patterns are FREE, FREE, FREE.

Sorry, can't do white on white. Just white on rice.

Open Mic Thursday
OK, I've given you plenty of ammo. Ya wanna knit patriotic? Then tell the world...

Which of the three patterns above would you knit?

And if you have other sources for patriotic knitted stuff, feel free to shut the fuck up, please. Three are more than enough. Unless you have found something completely absurd. In which case, I'm sure we'd all be intrigued and disgusted.

Warped Speed
After having been sent this link by my dear sister, Ms. Scrappy, I may have to restrict my knitting web surfing. Be afraid, be very afraid of this link. It's not patriotic, just completely bizarre. Knit it because you can. I double dog-dared the blogging Wolvies to knit a pair and be photographed wearing them. No takers. Clearly, I have balls and I'll have to do it.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
The Las Vegas Brights scarf is almost done. Then it's back to the Cobweb Crepe shawl.

In the meanwhile, for all of us who spin, Katherine Matthews once again is having the Tour de Fleece.

I'm in. The Tour begins on July 5th and you must use fiber from your stash, which I think is a capital idea.

This is not the sum total of my fiber stash by a long shot. Just the smaller amounts. We won't talk about the 3 pounds of Romney, the endless supply of Tintagel Farm stuff, and other large purchases.

Please ignore all the Black Bunny Fibers purchases. I can't stay away from Carol's shit.

It's going to be one of these two. And I think I've already chosen the one. Both are silk.

So as of Saturday, the Joy will be cleaned and oiled. And then used for the Tour. Hot damn. I'll be taking photos as I go along. Gotta get it spun and plyed by the 27th so I qualify for the Maillot Jaune button. This one of the few "alongs" that I find worthwhile.

Because "alongs" are not particularly rare and handy, in my opinion. They belong with memes.

Note: The 6th anniversary of The Knitting Curmudgeon is fast approaching. July 25th. If any readers have good ideas for an anniversary blog topic, I'd appreciate the suggestions. God knows I never thought the blog would last this long.