Musings on knitting, crochet, and a fairly loopy life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

favorite (fictional) knitters, part I

Sure, everyone's heard of Madame DeFarge from A Tale of Two Cities, sinsterly knitting a register of people she has marked for death during the French Revolution. But how about more modern, more respectable, fictional knitters? In this and future posts, I'll share some of my favorites. These women aren't just knitters; they're revolutionaries in their own ways.

#1: Elizabeth ("Betty") Jean Rubble (nee McBrickle), and her best friend, Wilma Pebble Slaghoople Flintstone.
Whether they used woodpeckers' beaks or carved bone needles (which I believe was Wilma's preference), these two cavewomen were millenia ahead of their time. Most people remember Wilma and Betty as being typical stone-age hausfraus who devoted their days to vacuuming with mastodons and cleaning the breakfast dishes in their automatic pelicans. But these Bedrock babes were actually domestic trailblazers in animal skins. 

Fred and Wilma were the first couple ever to be seen sharing a bed on television, and Wilma was the first cartoon character shown during pregnancy. Betty and her husband, Barney, were the first TV couple to legally adopt a child, (their son, Bamm-Bamm).

And ... no matter how badly their husbands behaved, Wilma and Betty managed to remain (mostly) level-headed. Maybe it was the knitting that kept them so calm?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

funny kid stories, part III

When I was looking for the picture of Andrea that I took back in college, I came across photo albums from the summer I spent in London and Paris when I was 21 years old. Ian and I spent a fun half-hour looking through them.

One of the last photos in the album is a picture of me sitting in the Parc du Champs de Mars beneath the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. There I am, looking '80s chic in my oversized leather blazer, Ray Bans, and mini-mullet. I know in that picture I've been awake for 48 straight hours, but even make-up free I'm glowing because I'm in Paris, because I'm in love, because I'm 21 years old, for Pete's sake.
Ian wouldn't let me close the book. He stared at that picture for close to five minutes, then finally looked at me and said:

"Wow, Mom, I never would have believed you could be so beautiful."

Thanks, kid. And God will get you for that, Ian.

Friday, February 26, 2010

funny kid stories, part II

There's a painting covering the wall of the parking lot for Seth's school. Yesterday, Seth remarked on it for the first time.

"Mommy, that's a beautiful painting."

"Yes it is," I agreed. Then being a teacher, and not one to pass up a teachable moment, I continued, "Do you know that when you paint a picture on a wall it's called a mural?"

"Isn't it bad to paint on the walls?" Seth wanted to know.

Hmm ... how to answer this one without subjecting OUR walls to future Seth scribbles?

"Well, when the owner of the wall says it's okay and you paint something beautiful, it's not bad," I offered.

"But it's bad to paint on walls," Seth insisted.

"No honey, when it's a mural it's not bad. It's art."

"Okay," Seth said happily. "Then my bedroom door isn't bad. It's a mural."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

funny kid stories, part I

I was having breakfast with Seth this morning talking about this and that, when we somehow landed on the topic of taking care of your teeth and visiting the dentist.

"When I am older," he informed me, "I will go to the dentist all by myself. When I am older."

"Okay," I answered. "How old will that be?"

"Really old," he replied. "Really, really old. Like maybe 21."

first sale!

A huge thanks to my bonus mom ... my very first Etsy customer. She purchased the 4 Corners hat, seen here modeled by little sis.
Her most excellent reason for buying it? As she said,
"It looks good on curly red hair.  I'm making it mine."
Enjoy wearing it, stepmom of mine. I hope it gets cold enough in the desert to make the purchase worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

remember assembly day?

The white shirt, blue skirt and red tie? How about a knit version of it?
I found this little scarf on the Mason-Dixon blog. (Linked to a pattern on Ravelry, of course. Man, I love that website.) Ann Shayne of found her version of it in an old Martha Stewart Living magazine. Yes, it's a good thing.

I have to give my profound thanks to step-cuz for all her long-distance tutorials in Photoshop. Thanks to her, I was able to take this picture on my webcam and actually make it look good. Hey, Mich - whaddaya think of my Gaussian blur?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

etsy ho!

I finally posted my first items on I had wanted to put at least six items up for sale to start with, but I only have four I'm comfortable selling right now. And they're all wintery items, and as there are only a few more weeks of winter ...

Yep, it made sense to go live with just the four.

Monday, February 22, 2010

sittin' by the fence of the bay

Finally, a beautiful, warm winter day in New York. We hit a high of 40 degrees at noon. (Hey, that's tropical by our standards.) It was so nice, Charles and I took the kids for a walk to the Nature Center after school. The trail is closed for reconstruction, but the birds don't know the difference.

We spotted mallards and buffleheads (mostly paired off and a little aggressive this time of year), a pair of swans, tons of seagulls, a gaggle of black brants, and one lone plover. I'm still waiting to spot the marsh hawks that allegedly nest there.
The Nature Center was my second bird walk of the day. The classrooms I work in had no heat, so we took the little ones to Sheepshead Bay to feed the birds there. More ducks, swans, and seagulls, plus pigeons. And if you think it was easy to get the seagulls to pose that nicely for the camera, think again. They're real divas, those seagulls.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

it's an honor just to compete...

... but even more satisfying to stand on the podium! Hooray, and here's my medal to prove I successfully frogged my first project.
When you think about it, it's kind of perverse that the first knitting finish line I've crossed is in the competition that involves destroying something.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

pure chaos

My house in the morning. Charles is trying to get the kids ready for gymnastics.

Charles and the kids: "Get your gloves." "I can't find my gloves! Where are my gloves?" "I can't find my hat!" "Mom, my scarf is missing." "I know I had two gloves! Where's the other one?" "You need gloves. It's cold. Find your other glove." "I don't have two matching gloves!" "Fine, wear an unmatched pair."

Me: "You know ... the reason I put that chest of drawers in the coat closet is so you can put your things away when you take them off. Then you'd be able to find everything when you need it."

Ian: "What drawers?"

Me: "The ones that are labelled Gloves, Winter Hats and Scarves?"

Ian: (with all sincerity in his voice) "Oh, is that what those are for?"

You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

gold medalist.

My yarn and I have crossed the finish line! Hard to believe these were once a sad, unfinished tank top, languishing in the bottom of my knitting bag.

Now they are reclaimed. Three balls of soft, cottony goodness. They're full of promise. Full of potential. Ready to take their rightful place on my knitting needles ... as soon as I can figure out what the heck I want to make with them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

repentance and reformation

My former tank has taken the next steps toward becoming a useful member of society again. While watching the Olympics, I spent two hours (!!!) untangling the ramen noodles and turning them into matzo balls.
Then it was time to move on to the swift. Interesting fact: in the 18th and 19th centuries, yarn swifts were often made of whale ivory. Mine is simple but renewable bamboo.

Not only is wrapping yarn around a swift a vast improvement over making a beloved family member sit with their hands held stiffly in front of them for hours, but it's also a wonderful way to help the kids pass a snowy day.

After the yarn was wrapped around the swift, I tied it off and moved it into a cool, soothing bath, then hung it from the shower head to stretch and dry. I wound up placing some jars in the bottoms of the loops to weight them down, but I didn't get pictures of that.

My yarn is now dry, and ready to be rewound into center-pull balls. Its rehabilitation is almost complete. Our marathon event is almost over.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the trouble with tribbles

My poor, unfinished tank is no longer. Here it sits, in its new, temporarily unusable, form:
Some people refer to this as "ramen noodles." My husband saw it and said, "What's with the tribble?" (Any original Star Trek fans out there?) As for me, all I can say is I've finally found something that's curlier and harder to manage than my hair.

Believe it or not, this is 2-1/2 balls of yarn. If I'd been smart, I would have rolled it into nice, neat balls as I unraveled it, but it was too much fun to watch it fall into this crazy pile of cotton worms. Of course, now I have to untangle it all so I can stretch out all those kinks and create functional yarn again. I guess it's time to pay the piper. (My mother used to say that a lot. What's it supposed to mean, exactly?)

Monday, February 15, 2010

ribbit, ribbit

I overcame one of my fears and entered the 2010 Ravelympics on Ravelry. The point of the games is to take on a yarn-work challenge and complete it from start to finish within the time contraints of the Winter Olympics.

My event is the Aerial Unwind. The competition consists of frogging a UFO (for those of you who don't speak "knit", that means ripping back an unfinished object) to reclaim the yarn. This has always been a challenge for me as a knitter. When I've given up on a project in the past, I've either donated it to my mother-in-law's craft group or (gasp!) just thrown it away. Not this time. This time I'm a contender.

This was my first post on the Ravelry thread:

"You poor, sweet tank. Such a lovely neckline, such beautiful, yet simple lacework. Enough to make a project interesting but not too complicated. And yet, somehow, we never even made it to the armhole level before I cheated on you. I apologize for stealing your yarn for projects that promised more immediate gratification. Without those extra skeins, there’s just no way to complete what we started. And so I say, with just a hint of a tear in my eye, I need to stop denying it’s over. I need to get rid of all traces of something that started out with such promise. Only then can I free up those size 6 circulars and get on with my life."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

conventional beauty.

Canadian knitwear designer Mark Fast is another designer whose clothes I can only look at with dropped jaw and envious heart. I could never in a million years come up with the amazing designs he creates. But even better, Mr. Fast has earned a very special place in my pantheon of designers: this past September he walked three "plus-size" models down the catwalk alongside more "conventionally slim" models (as a newspaper article described them). Two of his people (a stylist and a creative director) were so outraged they walked out on him three days before London Fashion Week.
The model on the left is the "conventionally slim" girl. (I wonder whose conventions we're using?) The model on the right is one of the fatties who caused two fashionistas to storm out in anger. She's a size 12-14. On one of her fat days, she's the size of the average American woman. 

I have to thank you Mark, from the bottom of my "unconventional" heart.

Friday, February 12, 2010

in which lori loses another item of clothing to the cause

I interrupted Ian and Seth during one of their battles to save the planet. Ian's hat is one I knit for myself from Vogue Knitting. Not a cheap hat. Not in time or in money. And so it's one of the few hats I'm actually careful about putting away when I'm not wearing it.

Doesn't matter. As you can see, it made its way onto the head of my courageous knight as he fought dragons or aliens or whatever it was he was battling that day.

At least it's getting a lot of use.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

knit 1, paint 51

This little movie is my modest reflection on how knitters have been portrayed in Western art since the 15th century. It's probably appropriate mostly for people who REALLY love knitting or art enough to want to spend nearly five minutes of their lives viewing it.

I do have to apologize: I included each work's title, artist, and date in my original slide show, but they weren't appearing in the "movie-cized" version. You can link to the list of works here, if you're interested.

The music is a Tulley Cathey guitar recital of "Capricho Arabe" by Tarrega.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow day in the city

You know what they say about the best laid plans, don't you? Lovely snow day in NYC. I knew in advance I'd be home. I had plans to take new pictures of my fingerless gloves. But then I stayed up until 4:00 this morning setting up a chart for a year-long afghan knit-along I'm involved in on Ravelry. Woke up an hour and a half later when the snow plows rolled down the street.

Charles took Ian out to play in the snow, but Seth has decided he's more the warm-weather type. He stayed indoors with the other snow slacker (namely, me). Later, some friends came over for Oreos and hot cocoa. When they left, my lack of sleep caught up to me, and I took a "short" (like 2 hour) nap.

So, no new glove pictures yet. But I do have a finished color chart and at least one semi-fair snowy day photo.
P.S. - When I previewed this post, I started noticing a serious theme going on in my color choices these days. Must be going through my Green Period.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

holy stitches, batman!

Thanks to everyone for your tips on how to make the pictures of my fingerless gloves look better.  I totally forgot that my cousin/step-sister (long story) -- hereafter called "Step-Cuz" -- is a brilliant graphic designer who has experience photographing merchandise for catalogues. She's offered her support and some really expert advice, and ...  tomorrow we're having a snow day! School's closed! Woo-hoo!

That being the case, I'm going to try to take new pictures, Photoshop them if needed, and then run them past Step-Cuz before I post them again.

On another note, I'm creating a slideshow of six centuries of paintings depicting knitters. Once finished, I'll try to post it or link it to this blog. In the meantime, here's one of the earliest known depictions of a knitter in Western art.
It's a detail from Visit of the Angel, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar in Germany. It was painted by Master Bertram of Mindan from 1400-1410. The Buxtehude Madonna is sitting in her garden with her Child. She is knitting a seamless garment in the round as two angels approach.

The Madonna is knitting as she receives holy messengers? There's the proof (as if we needed it) that knitting is a sacred pursuit.

Monday, February 8, 2010

i wouldn't buy these gloves, would you?

I am truly at a loss. I'm really happy with these fingerless gloves in person. Really. But in the photos ... blech. I'm not even sure what I can do to photograph them better. I'm pretty sure if I saw these gloves online I would pass them by for the gloves in the cuter, livelier picture. Image really is everything. Where's Annie Liebovitz when I need her?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

first ladies who knit

I love knitting. I love history. I love being able to combine the two. I recently read an article from a 2008 issue of The Anchorage Daily News  by Catherine Hollingsworth that discussed the history of knitting in the White House. (Ain't the Internet grand?) Hollingsworth is an interior designer, artist, knitwear designer, and past president of Knitters of the North. She, in turn, drew her information from the book No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne L. Macdonald (which I will be adding to my wishlist post-haste.

Here they are, your list of needle-wielding, yarn-loving First Ladies:

There are records that Martha Washington (1731-1802) helped with a drive to sell knitted socks to raise money for the troops.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) spoke out against rigidly held stereotypes that women were too "trifle" to do more than knit.

Edith Roosevelt (1861-1948) invited friends to knitting "socials" at the White House, which many Washington insiders feared for the blunt political discourse that occurred at them.

Grace Coolidge (1879-1957) was generous with her knitting, donating to bazaars and benefit raffles.

Lou Hoover (1874-1944) was a self-taught knitter who often wrote her own patterns, called recipes. When a friend spotted a mistake, Mrs. Hoover chided her not to rip it out, but to repeat it in the next row and make a pattern of it. (A woman after my own heart!)

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was perhaps the most famous knitting First Lady. She was such an avid knitter, she dragged her knitting bag everywhere, and was once referred to as “The First Knitter of the Land”. Her passion for knitting led her to unify American women to knit for the troops during World War II. She was so strongly identified with her knitting that an official White House Christmas card portrait included an image of her with her knitting in her hands.
My hat is off to these incredible women who were passionate, generous, patriotic, and sometimes even a little dangerous. They used a "traditional," "womanly" craft to help change their world. Can we do any less?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

lots of links, here!

I have to thank AlyceinNYC from Ravelry for sending me the link to Sinje Ollen's blog: Knit Your Socks Off. Sinje is a New York based knitwear designer, and her designs are to die for. In my wildest imagination, I could only aspire to design clothing as cutting edge and sexy as hers.

Sinje is blogging her way through New York City's local yarn shops. So far she's reviewed something like 30 shops in three boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens). Her reviews are timely and highly informative. There's also a wonderful guide to yarn way back at the beginning of her blog (January 2009). 

Thanks to "Knit Your Socks Off," I may just have to get off my bum and leave Brooklyn and my three go-to yarn shops (Lana's Fabrics, Stitch Therapy, and Knit-A-Way) to explore woolier pastures in Manhattan and Queens.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

no general consensus

The comments are in and the votes are all counted on the great debate (a.k.a. Is my photo artistic or sleazy?). Here are the results:

No men commented. Women who are in the general neighborhood of my mother's generation agreed that the photo was on the risky side. Women of my generation and younger saw nothing wrong with it.

Breaking down the results another way ... women with daughters had more trouble with the picture than those without. No big surprise.

By the way, this is my sister these days, still modeling for me (wearing my Four Corners hat), still cute as a button.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

my favorite loop

One of my favorite places to walk is the trail at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park. The one-mile loop meanders through 530 acres of grassland and salt marsh. It's in no way a challenging trail; in fact, except for one small plateau, it's completely flat. But it is truly a miracle in the middle of the city. For long stretches of the trail, you can completely forget you're in an urban environment. Surrounded by marsh grasses that are taller than the average basketball star, you hear nothing but the crunch of gravel beneath your feet and the lap of water. On an average summer day I've spotted ducks, geese, egrets, and red-winged blackbirds. I'm told you can see marsh hawks there, but I haven't come across them yet. I have seen butterflies bursting from their chrysalises, dragonflies resting on flowers, and rabbits scooting across my path. It is one of the most peaceful yet vital oases I know, and I feel blessed to have it less than 3 blocks from my home.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

homage to ingres: maybe mom overreacted?

I found the picture of my sister that caused all the uproar way back when. (And I won't even mention what a trial it was to locate! Oops, already did.)

I did no cropping to the photograph I took. This is the picture, exactly as I composed it 25 years ago. Do you see anything pornographic about it? Heck, Ingres was all about that little bit of booty, and I didn't go anywhere near that. All I see is a gorgeous curve of back and neck, light glowing artistically on skin, and the sinuous drape of fabric.

Back then, my mother forbade me from showing this photo to ANYONE. But now, thanks to the wonderful world wide web, I can show it to the everyone in the entire world!!!! Or - more realistically - to any of the handful of people who actually reads this blog.

Guess those mother-daughter power issues never really do go away. But since mom is no longer here to add her 2 cents, I win. (Mwaa-ha-ha-ha!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

color theory

Seth is now putting together his own ensembles. Friday's look: a Fair Isle sweater and camouflage shorts. Perkily accessorized with a small stuffed cat "a la tete."

Those don't go together, you say? Nonsense. I see perfectly matched shades of olive, tan, and buff. Even Sir Kitty matches the color palette. I think Seth has a very discerning eye.