Friday, September 30, 2005

At last, fall is here

And I am soooo happy! Today I got to wear a wool sweater and wool socks. The very first socks I ever knit, in fact:

They are so cozy and fit me perfectly. I also love the colors in the yarn--really makes me think of autumn. It's Friday and I'm looking forward to a weekend of gorgeous fall weather, knitting, and being outside. Possible outings for Taz and I might include apple picking at this orchard, hiking here, or visit lots of places around this town, (and if we do go, you can bet we'll stop at this place). For sure, Sami and I are going to get together (feels like I haven't seen her in ages), and I'm going to ask her to help me pick out a new stud for my nose. You see, yesterday I noticed that the little jewel had somehow fallen out of my nose ring (stud), and now it just looks like a tiny empty metal dish. Not sparkly and cute. So, since Sami has a pierced nose as well, I thought she would be a good person to bring along for this important decision.

And what will I be knitting, you ask? Well, I'm making good progress on x-mas surprise #2:

Obviously, I had to do a major close up so you couldn't tell what it is (well, OK, some of you can probably still tell, but shhhh!). Luckily, it also allows you to appreciate the beauty of this Mountain Colors yarn. I don't think the future owner of this gift reads my blog much, but you never know, so better safe than sorry. I was working on it last night at SnB, where a reporter from this local publication came by to chat with us all. Look for the article during Rosh Hashanah (Oct. 3-5). Obviously we're not front page news! And what a small world it is--the reporter had gone to high school very near where I used to live in Chile. Anyway, if I finish x-mas surprise #2 this weekend, then I'll go back and finish swatching for x-mas surprise #1, if I get a chance to buy the right size needles.

I really did start reading Ulysses by James Joyce, and so far it is both extremely difficult and extremely beautiful. I have decided this is not a book I can read just to get through it and be able to tell my father I've finally read it (he's been recommending it to me since elementary school, literally). No, this is a book I will need to take my time with and savor each word. Sometimes I will reread parts because I didn't understand them, but I think most parts I return to will be because of language like this:

"Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide." (p. 9)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Banned Books Week!

Not to get all serious on everyone, but I just found out from Jenn than this week is Banned Books Week! Go here to find out more. Then pick a few titles to read yourself and encourage others to read them too. Here are some of the banned or challenged books I have read in my life (many of them when I was still in grade school):

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Bible
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Deenie by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
MacBeth by William Shakespeare
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Not all of them have been banned in the US, and some haven't been banned in a long time. But actually, most of the books on the list were among the top banned or challenged books in this country between 1990 and 2004. And just in case you think more drastic forms of censorship are long gone, read here about book burning. Now that I'm all riled up, time to go start reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which was banned in the US until 1933.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Does this make me a professional?

I just accepted money for a knitted object. I don't think that makes me a real professional, since I don't plan on making a habit of it, but still, it was an interesting experience. The yarn was not expensive, and the needles, though not cheap, weren't exactly Addi Turbos. So if I had based the price solely on materials, then it would have been very low. I knew I had to charge something for my time, but I had no idea how to go about that. I didn't keep close track of how many hours I put into making these wrist warmer/gauntlet thingys for Liz--all I know is that they went really fast compared to most things I knit. Still, even if I had calculated a $5/hr wage for myself, it would have resulted in a price much higher than I felt comfortable charging. So basically, I just pulled a number range out of the air, and she opted to pay me the top end of it. The rest of the payment for me is in how happy she is with them. She may be a work friend, but she's still my friend, and I love seeing her happy, especially because of something I made. Here she is modeling them:

After I finished weaving in the ends of the wrist warmers this morning on the train, I cast on for a swatch for x-mas surprise #1. As you can see, I decided to try the blue-grey yarn first. I figure if I don't like it after the swatch, I can try with the charcoal tweed. So far, I don't mind the look:

However, I'm a little concerned that the gauge is too loose. It's not quite bulky weight and I'm using US 10's. In the past, that size needle has worked OK for me even on worsted weight (acrylic) but this isn't the type of object I'm going to want too loosely knit. I may have to see about getting my hands on some 9's just in case. I have some 8's I can try first, though.

This morning I was reading an article in this magazine about the chick lit phenomenon, and I realized that it's a genre I really haven't explored much. The cultural snob in me has perhaps shied away from it as being below-average quality. But I really can't justify that if I'm willing to read Dan Brown and Martha Grimes and Rita Mae Brown, all of whom I read voraciously. They're all good writers, too, whether they write "high literary fiction" or not. So maybe it's time for me to pick up a chick lit book or two. But since I don't know much about them, I'm afraid of getting a dud with a weak female protagonist who hates her job and is desperate to get married or something like that. Any personal recommendations?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The race has begun

I've made very fast progress on Liz's wrist warmers (which are so long I think they should be renamed gauntlets). I finished the first one at SnB on Thursday night, and once again Lauren was kind enough to share her photo with me (at this point it's just a couple of rows away from being done):

I'm now about 1/3 done with the second one. As soon as I finish with the wrist warmers, I have to dive in and get going on all my x-mas knitting. On Friday I went to a LYS and bought yarn for 3 out of the 6 x-mas gifts I'm knitting this year. One or maybe even two will be knit from stash yarn, and I still have to find something that's just right for the sixth gift. I also bought some yarn for my secret pal. I'm not going to tell you what yarn is for whom, but feast your eyes on this:

On top that's a skein of hand dyed merino with a bit of nylon from Mountain Colors (one of my favorites). Note that it was wound using my new ball-winder that Taz gave me! :) The two skeins of light gray below it are an alpaca-merino blend called Suri Merino, the red is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and the bottom is self-patterning yarn from Germany (I can't tell which is the name of the yarn and which is the name of the company, but the label says Opal ZwergerGarn). I'm very excited about using all this yarn. Apparently I'm not the only one who's excited about the yarn, because as I was typing this post, my back was turned, and this is what became of one of the skeins of light gray merino:

I discovered it spread around the floor of the other room, after I realized that one of the items in my lovely posed photo was missing. I know they both love the smell of wool, especially Ivy, but this is going to be a real pain in the neck to untangle. Sigh... I do love those cats, though, despite everything.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

Here's the dilemma: I have to choose between two different types of yarn in my stash to make something with. But that something is one of the x-mas surprises (which may or may not be shaped like the progress indicator in the sidebar suggests), so I can't tell you what the object will be or who it's for. So you'll just have to give me your reactions based on color alone:

DK weight charcoal-black with bright tweed bits

Near-Bulky weight two-ply brownish gray and light blue

Both yarns are wool, and both are about equally scratchy (how much do you think fabric softener will help with that?). I would double up the DK to knit it like a bulky yarn. The stitch pattern will either be stockinette or 2x2 ribbing. Yes, I know that these aren't the best pictures to work with when trying to help me make a decision, but you'll have to complain to my real camera about that. My poor phone is just doing the best it can. Any and all feedback very appreciated! And if you're a knitter, I'll even give you some (or all) of the leftover yarn, if you like. (Yes, I realize that was a totally blatant attempt to rid myself of some of my stash).

I know I promised book-related content in this post, so here goes, though to be honest I have done a lot more knitting than reading this week. This morning on the train, though, I got stalled on Liz's wrist warmers, so I picked up The Joy of Knitting, which Taz gave me a little while ago (Thanks!). It's a fast read, and so far I'd give it mixed reviews. One moment, she sounds almost as feminist as the intro to this book, the next she's writing as if all knitters are women with husbands and babies, and the next she's all business and practical advice on choosing yarn. That makes the book a little hard to follow, but I did learn a few new things in the chapter on fiber. There are also some good poems quoted in it, and it's given me food for thought regarding why I love knitting so much. So I don't know if it's a book for everyone, but I'm still glad I have it. And hey, there's a pattern at the end of every chapter, so I'll definitely be using it for some of those!

Meanwhile, I get more and more excited each day about our December trip to here:

Map Courtesy of Lonely Planet

Actually, we'll also be going to Bangalore and seeing some other amazing sights in other parts of India. Mostly, I'm just happy to be going at all, and it's even better that I'll be going there with the one I love, and getting to spend time with his wonderful family as well. Sigh... I'm SOO lucky!

ETA: I just found out about a terrible accident today at my alma mater. For more details, read Cate's post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Taz sometimes refers to me (jokingly, I presume) as a knitaholic. But I am starting to think there might actually be some truth to that. Despite the fact that I currently have three projects actually on the needles, five others that have to be completed by early December, and at least three more than I have been planning on starting as soon as I'm done with the holiday knitting (yes, that's a total of 11), guess what I just did? Yup, that's right, I went online and bought two more patterns. The only reason I didn't buy the yarn (check out "Violets" and "Mallard") to go with the first one of them is because it would have totaled about $150, not counting shipping, and that feels a little self-indulgent right now, especially when I'm so far away from being allowed having time to start it. Who is to blame for this pattern buying? Well, it's obviously me and my addiction Margene! I mean, if you saw a photo shoot like this, wouldn't you go out and buy the pattern too? Wouldn't you???

In the interests of bringing myself one FO closer to permitting self-indulgence, I cast on last night for Liz's wrist warmers. They're going to be a little different than the ones I made for Jessie. First, they're a different color (as you can see) and they're acrylic, second, they're going to go all the way to her elbow, and finally, she's not really into ribbing, so after the wrist, they're going to be stockinette all the way to the end. Hope they'll still be stretchy enough to fit well. I'm knitting these on aluminum circular needles, and they're going soooo much faster than the alpaca on the bamboo. I mean, I love the all-natural stuff, but sometimes you've got to opt for speed instead. Next post: book-related content, too!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sideways knit baby sweater

Actually, the official name of the pattern, now that I check in the book is "Baby's Pure and Simple Pullover." Hah! How ironic. Actually, the look is very simple, and the pattern doesn't involve any fancy lace stitches or intarsia or anything. But still, buttonholes, cable cast-ons, and switching needles every row hardly counts as "simple" in my book. Although in my book, "simple" pretty much only involves knitting, purling, and simple increases and decreases. Anyway, it's done, and I was finally able to get my camera phone to cooperate. Please forgive the picture quality:

Completed sweater

Detail of the buttons

Here're the deets:

: "Baby's Pure and Simple Pullover" from p. 150 of Weekend Knitting, by Melanie Falick
Yarn: 2 skeins of King Tut Cotton in color 1130
Needles: 1 pair of US size 5 bamboo Clover 24" circulars; one set of US size 2 bamboo Clover dpns
Notions: 3 large buttons, 1 small button, 4" of ribbon 1.5" wide, yarn needle, sewing needle, thread
Required skills: casting on, casting off, knitting, purling, picking up stitches, cable cast-on, yarn over, knit 2 together, changing needles mid-row
Started: late March, 2005
Finished: September 16, 2005 (yes, I was distracted by other projects during that time)

: The pattern doesn't call for dpns, but I already had some, and I thought it would be easier to use a small dpn than the recommended circular needle for the 4 stitches of edging. Also, it was my idea to add the bit of ribbon under the buttons. I thought that it would make them easier to sew on securely, since the fabric is quite stretchy and the yarn splits easily.

: I actually really liked the pattern, but switching needles every row made it a little hard to get up momentum, so it was slow going at times. Also, having so many needles sticking out made this impractical for train knitting, which is really the majority of my knitting time. There weren't too many errors in the pattern, but there were a couple spots where it was a little ambiguous (e.g. which needle size to use). The fourth buttonhole (the one on the neckband) is considerable smaller than the other 3, unless perhaps you were to knit the neckband using the number 5's instead of the 2's (ah, hindsight). Overall, I really like the final look of the sweater. I might make another one, but only for a baby I was very close to. It would be cool to try to adapt this pattern to an adult size.

Wrist Warmer Update: Yesterday they were finally given to Jessie as a birthday present, and she loved them. Yay! Mishmish was right, it looks like they will have to be pried off her hands before bed every night. I'll try to get some pictures of her modeling them. Meanwhile, I now have several request for other pairs, including some for Mishmish, one of my co-workers, and a few for holiday gifts. And Jessie and Mishmish, very fun birthday party, by the way--totally worth driving through pouring rain to get to!

So what's next? Well, I'll continue slogging along with the merino lace cardigan. But I also want to try a felted bag, and I've had several requests for more of those wrist warmers. I also need to get started on some holiday knitting (which will include socks, hats, wrist warmers, and maybe a bag--but I'm not telling you what's for whom!) I have no desire at this point to pick up my drop stitch ribbon shawl, but maybe I will after I've knit a few more pairs of wrist warmers and am starting to get sick of that pattern. And sitting there in my knitting basket, taunting me, is the other shade of laceweight merino I bought at Morehouse, just waiting to be turned into my first real lace shawl. Clearly, I won't be idle, so stay tuned!

AND THE BIGGEST NEWS OF ALL: Taz's niece was finally born, just last night!!! So big congrats and love and hugs to the new mother and father, as well as to Taz's mom who is now a grandma for the first time. I can't wait to see pictures and meet the little one in person!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Houston, we have completion

Ahhhhh! Can you feel that sigh of relief? Can you see how I glow with a sense of pride and accomplishment? Or are you thinking, what's the big deal about a baby sweater? If it's the latter, let me just say that the name Weekend Knitting is rather deceptive. Actually, the intro of the book has a quasi-disclaimer that the projects can be finished in a weekend's worth of actual knitting time. That, my friends, is a far cry from a true weekend, which even for the more carefree among us usually includes a plethora of errands and socializing, only a few of which can be combined with knitting. There may be some patterns in that book that work up faster, but being sideways knit with different gauge trim (it's sooo fun switching needles every. single. row.) this is not one of the quickies. Suffice to say that I started this gem way back in late March, and only now (the day after its recipient is due to be born) have I finally finished it. But, if I do say so myself, it's a beauty! It was in its final stages last night at SnB, and Lauren was kind enough to share her photos with me:

Sewing on the ribbon for the plaquette

Ready for the buttons

This morning on the train, I finished sewing on the buttons. The conductor even complemented me on it (and no, it wasn't the strict woman conductor who knits, it was the baby-faced man who has kindly noticed how much weight I've managed to lose). Of course, on the one day when I really need my camera phone and its e-mail capabilities, I leave it at home. (I don't want to talk about how much I would prefer to have a functioning high-res digital camera to carry around with me, but cameras? if you can hear me? please at least one of you stop being sick, because I'd really prefer not to have to send you both away and get a new one right now). If I'm lucky, and one of my camera-phone-toting co-workers is feeling generous, I will have a pic to post for you at lunch time. Otherwise, you'll have to be patient and wait until the evening for a (low-res, slightly blurry) pic of this little masterpiece. (Ain't modesty grand?)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Smile in the sky

OK, so the picture is blurry and far away (trust me, that's us up there). But at least this time that's not my fault. This was taken by a very friendly woman Taz and I met when we went parasailing off Block Island, RI over Labor Day weekend. (I mentioned this trip here). What I didn't mention in that earlier post was our parasailing adventure. As luck would have it, we ended up in a boat with two different groups of young Indian people (two of whom--including the woman who took the picture--were quite friendly), as well as a father and his twin 12-year-old boys. The boys weren't very talkative, but that's probably because they were scared to death. Once they were up in the air, their father told us that one of them has a fear of heights. I didn't bother to ask him why he thought sending them up on 800 feet of rope above the sea would cure his kid of that. None of us saw any major flailing around while they were up there, but as soon as they came down, they curled up in a wind-protected corner of the deck and fell asleep. Here you can see they looked less than thrilled with the experience:

As for me and Taz, we weren't scared at all (really, parasailing is nothing compared to this, which we did a couple years ago) and found it to be a very relaxing and peaceful experience on the whole. But we also agreed that it's not the sort of thing you'd really want to do again in the same place--better to go somewhere with different scenery.

OK, so maybe you've figured out that this gratuitous sharing of the parasailing experience is really just a ploy to get you to ignore the fact that I don't have much knitting-related content to share today. I did knit this weekend, really, but mostly on the infamous merino lace cardigan, which means I have so little to show for my efforts, it's truly not worth photographing. But by the end of the week (maybe even tomorrow?) I hope to have one or more FO's to show you!

Downer alert: If you're sick of reading and thinking about Katrina, you might not want to read on, although there is a really good book recommendation in all this...

As for book-related content, I've been quite engrossed in Isabel Allende's Mi País Inventado (My Invented Country), which is a rambly memoir of her growing up in Chile, interwoven with a rather subjective (but good) exploration of Chilean culture and history. I highly recommend it. Perhaps it's because I started reading it right at the time of the Katrina disaster, but one part in particular has stuck in my head so far, which is when she talks about how Chileans are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always expecting the next catastrophe, and at the same time, always expecting solidarity from their fellow citizens in a time of need. I remember when I lived there, flooding was a regular occurrence (though usually nothing so bas as we're seeing now in New Orleans), and there was very little the government ever could do about it (so they claimed). But neighbors would pole old ladies and children across the street and bus drivers would pull up as close to "dry land" as possible so that people could leap onto the bottom step. Many would take time off work to help feed and clothe those who had lost their houses. People had little or no expectation that the government would help and every expectation that neighbors and total strangers would be there for one another, always prepared. That doesn't mean they didn't complain about the government response, or that neighbors (much less strangers) were equally friendly with one another during times of non-crisis, but still. In many ways, the reality of the situation mirrors what's been happening down South here. But the real difference, I feel, is in the expectations. I don't know if I'm expressing this clearly, but that little bit of the book made me wonder if Katrina hit us that much harder because we are so trained to expect the best from our government, despite its repeated failures to live up to those expectations. Thank goodness ordinary people are so generous.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Halfway to wrist comfort

One down, one to go! Given that I knit about 40% of this one operating on the assumption that I had a different number of stitches than I actually did (don't ask me how I managed to cast on two extra stitches and not notice), I'm a wee bit worried that the second one will not be quite identical to this one. But I guess as long as the proportions are basically the same, it oughta work. Besides, I don't really see them being worn around town much. They're more of a working on the computer kind of thing. Speaking of which, my hands are so cold right now that I am seriously considering keeping these for myself. Or at least making another pair, which I suppose would be the kind thing to do, considering how excited Jessie sounded about these. Also, these knit up so fast, that I foresee several people receiving pairs for Christmas. Basically, if you have hands and need to use them when it's cold, you might be getting a pair of these from me. OK, let me clarify, if all of the above is true and I know you and usually give you Christmas presents, you might be getting a pair. Just in case the rest of you were getting excited (yeah, right). I'm not that fast of a knitter!

The Harlot posted today about how much trouble the math was giving her for her lace corset project. She claims she's not good at math. But Steph, if it makes you feel any better, I can't even count right (see above reference to extra stitches). And let's not even talk about how much trouble I had figuring out about the thumb gusset once I realized I had too many stitches. And since it's 2x2 ribbing, I also had to figure out make a wild guess about which stitches to knit and which ones to purl and still end up on the right kind of stitch at the end of the gusset. But at least it's wearable and warm and vewy vewy soft, right?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Knitty knitty bo bitty

Yay! The fall issue of knitty is up, and it has several patterns I actually want to make. Now, I'm not trying to be a total copycat of Lauren, who already posted her opinion on each pattern (I swear, I thought of this before I read her blog today), but I still feel compelled to say a little something about them all:

Arisaig: I love the backstory on this one, but it doesn't look like it would work on me, because of the way the two different textures emphasize the bust area. Love the colors, though.

Samus: Love it. Will probably make it. Though I am a little worried it will be too short if I follow the pattern exactly, but that is easily remedied.

Cinxia: Nice stitch, but the shape would look horrible on me. I'd knit it for someone else, though.

Josephine: I like it, but would probably make it in a darker color. Also, I can't decide how I feel about the neckline. I might try to scale that back a bit. I can't tell if this has a zipper or buttons. If it doesn't have either, I would definitely want to add some kind of closure(s).

Blackberry: This would look great on a very petite, small-busted person. In other words, not me.

Revolution: I like it. A lot. It looks like that stitch pattern would make for slow going, but nevertheless I feel a new project coming on...

Lacey: Love the lace pattern, don't mind the color, just so not a shrug person. But again, I might make it for someone else, as long as they would look good in it (I wouldn't want to make something for someone and then have them think they looked bad in it, and blame it on me, when really it was just because they didn't know what types of clothes work well on their body, ya know?)

Leaves in relief: Looks like it would be interesting to knit. But I don't think I'll be adding it to my list.

Bloom: Very pretty. When I can afford the yarn, I'll probably make it. It looks like an addictive project, in fact. So if I suddenly discover a free supply of Noro, I might begin cranking them out like crazy. But more likely, I'll only get my hands on enough to make just one (if I'm lucky). I would just hope that it doesn't resemble a poncho too much when it's done.

Ella: Looking forward to it. I like the v-shape--a nice compromise between the triangle shawl (which I often find to be lacking in the arm-covering department) and the rectangular one (which I guess could be a little boring).

Flora: Not quite my style, but I can see myself knitting lots of these as gifts.

Hipster: My mom loves fanny packs, so this could be the holiday gift solution I've been searching for for her (shhh!)

Falling leaves: Nice, but for some reason most lace socks look the same to me, regardless of the pattern (that's nothing against the designer, though--it's just me, I think). So if I made these, it would be because of the free pattern more than the originality.

Bubby: If I can keep myself from getting scared of all the tight corners and little details, I am sooo making him (and not just for the babies I know).

Edgar: Meh. I might make the longer version. But I'm just not on a big scarf kick right now.

Astrodome: When I first saw the name of the pattern, I thought it was a charity project for the Katrina relief effort. Oh well. I haven't gotten on the fair isle band wagon yet, so this pattern doesn't excite me much. But I'd make it for someone else, as long as they requested different colors than the ones shown.

I promise an update on my own works in progress very soon (i.e., once there are developments worthy of reporting). And I apologize in advance for the bad photos, but one can only ask so much of a camera phone. I sure wish at least one of the two good digital cameras at home were working...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cut the red tape!

I got this from a friend's blog, and I feel obligated to pass on the information to anyone who happens to read mine. Lots of people (including me) have real problems with the governmental red tape that is happening in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, and the Red Cross is, sadly, stuck in the middle of it. The organizations below have people in the community and the artist that complied the list took the time to confirm that their resources really are going to those in need. Please pass this list on to other blogs and friends!

Compiled by hip-hop artist Kevin Powell:
Monetary donations can be sent to these outlets, which we have confirmed are REALLY delivering services to folks in need........ Relief Fund
PO Box 803209
Dallas, TX 75240
OR you can make an online donation by going
This fund has been set up by nationally syndicated radio personality TOM JOYNER

NAACP Disaster Relief Efforts
The NAACP is setting up command centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as part of its disaster relief efforts. NAACP units across the nation have begun collecting resources that will be placed on trucks and sent directly into the disaster areas. Also, the NAACP has established a disaster relief fund to accept monetary donations to aid in the relief effort.

Checks can be sent to the NAACP payable to NAACP Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215
Donations can also be made online

FYI, the NAACP, founded in 1909, is America's oldest civil rights organization.
Set up by native New Orleans rapper Master P and his wife Sonya Miller

You can mail or ship non-perishable items to these following locations, which we have confirmed are REALLY delivering services to folks in need....

Center for LIFE Outreach Center
121 Saint Landry StreetLafayette, LA 70506
atten.: Minister Pamela Robinson

Mohammad Mosque
652600 Plank Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70805
atten.: Minister Andrew Muhammad

Lewis Temple CME Church
272 Medgar Evers Street
Grambling, LA 71245
atten.: Rev. Dr. Ricky Helton

St. Luke Community United Methodist Church
c/o Hurricane Katrina Victims
5710 East R.L. Thornton Freeway
Dallas, TX 75223
atten.: Pastor Tom Waitschies

S.H.A.P.E. Community Center
3815 Live Oak
Houston, Texas 77004
atten.: Deloyd Parker

Alternative media outlets where you can get a more accurate and balanced presentation of the New Orleans catastrophe....

PLEASE VISIT all these websites.

Five things you can do to help immediately:

1. Duplicate what we are doing elsewhere in New York City, in your city ortown, on your college campus, at your church, synagogue, mosque, or otherreligious institution, via your fraternity or sorority, or via your local civic or social organization.

2. Cut and paste the information in this eblast about Items needed by survivors of the New Orleans catastrophe:* Monetary donations* Where you can ship non-perishable items* Alternative media outlets* Five things you can do to help immediately and share this information, as a ONE SHEET, with folks near and far, via e-mail, or as a hand-out at your event, religious institution, and with your civic or social organization.

3. Voice your opinion to local and national media, and to elected officials, via letter, e-mail, op-ed article, or phone call, regarding the coverage of the New Orleans catastrophe, as well as your reaction to the federal government's ongoing handling of the situation.

4. Ask the hotel you frequent, such as the Marriott or Holiday Inn, to give your hotel points to an individual or family in need of a stay for a night, a few nights, or longer, depending on how many points you have. Be sure to get confirmation that your points have been applied in that way. Encourage others to do the same. Also inquire if your airline Frequent Flyer mileage can be used for hotel stays as well. Finally, either offer to pay for hotel rooms, or encourage others to do so, including your place of employment or worship or your organization.

5. Dare to care about other human beings, no matter their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, geography, culture, clothing, hairstyle, or accent or language. Like September 11th, the New Orleanscatastrophe is a harsh reminder that all life is precious, as is each day wehave on this earth.

AND REMEMBER that our attention and response to the New Orleans catastropheneeds to happen in three stages...DISASTER, RECOVERY, and REBUILDING. We need you for all three stages.

SP6 Questionnaire

As a participant in Secret Pal 6, I was asked to post this information to my blog so that my secret pal will know what types of gifts might be good to send. But perhaps everyone else can also learn a little more about my knitting personality too:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you? Red Heart's not my favorite, and of course there are some expensive yarns that I covet, but I don't think of myself as a yarn snob. Better to have cheap yarn than none at all!

2. Do you spin? Crochet? I don't know how to spin, though it could be fun to learn. So far, I only crochet granny squares, but I wouldn't mind learning a bit more.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.) I don't have any allergies that I know of.

4. How long have you been knitting? I've been knitting on and off since I was about 10, but most avidly for the past four years.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Not yet, but I will look into making one and post a link to it on my blog.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) I like melon/cucumber, and citrus-y scents, as well as gardenia, sandalwood, tea tree, and green tea. Nothing too chemical or overly flowery.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Yes, but I'm really really really trying hard to avoid sweets, so please don't enable my addiction too much! (Dark chocolate is better than milk, for example)

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Not many. I aspire to make a scrap book, but never have time, and there's a part of me that would like to learn to sew clothes, but it seems like too much work to get set up.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Yes, music in MP3 format is great! Especially world music, but also pretty much any other kind of music is good. I'm always open to new stuff. You can see my Blogger profile for more ideas.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? Blue is my favorite color, and I'm into blues, greens and purples in general. But I also like most other colors. For my own clothes, I tend to avoid anything with too much yellow in it, such as orange, yellowish greens, and of course yellow.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I live with my serious boyfriend and we have two cats.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know) To have enough free time to knit and read and camp and be with my loved ones as much as I want to while still accomplishing work that lessens people's suffering and makes the world a better place. You know, since we're stretching it anyway.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? There are so many I still haven't tried! I love alpaca and soft wool blends, and even certain acrylics are nice. I don't think I have a favorite, although I've been dying to try a silk blend and/or an angora blend of some kind.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I'm not too into the really really novelty yarns, except in small amounts for accents. Also, really bulky yarns don't look good on me (though that doesn't mean I can't use them to make something for someone else). But nothing is totally off limits.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? I really want to make a few felted bags, maybe even a felted jacket eventually. And thrummbed mittens fascinate me, even though I'm not sure how often I'd wear them. As for what I'm knitting the most of right now, that would be wrist warmers and very simple lace shawls.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I love sweaters once they're completed, but they take so long it's easy to lose motivation. I also like short projects like hats and wrist warmers and socks, but I can only use so many of those. So basically, I'm open to anything, especially if it will keep me interested and motivated without making me tear my hair out and cry (at least, not too often).

17. What are you knitting right now? A lace-weight cardigan for myself, wrist warmers for a friend, a ribbon yarn shawl for myself, and almost finished with a baby sweater for my boyfriend's niece/nephew.

18. What do you think about ponchos? No, no and NOOOOO!

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Circular, but it's not like I have a personal grudge against straight needles.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Babmoo or Addi Turbo, though I also have some regular aluminum ones. Not so big on the plastic.

21. Are you a sock knitter? I'm not a fanatic, but I have knit socks and enjoyed them and will probably knit more.

22. How did you learn to knit? From my mother, once when I was about 10, and then I sort of re-learned a couple more times over the years, also from her. She's so wonderful (and patient)!

23. How old is your oldest UFO? Technically, it's a Lopi sweater I started about 15 years ago, but after many years of it languishing in my mother's knitting basket, I have decided it is now going to become a felted bag instead. So aside from that, my oldest unfinished object is only about 4 months old (and it's almost done, I swear).

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? Animated: Hello Kitty, Wonder Woman, and Winnie the Pooh. Real animals: turtles, loons, owls, elephants, and cats (especially house cats and tigers).

25. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas (yes, even though I'm Buddhist) and Thanksgiving, but I hate holiday-related kitsch.

26. Is there anything that you collect? Other than knitting supplies? Not really. I used to collect post cards, but at this point in my life I just have too much clutter to want to start a new collection of anything.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? None (well, no print ones--I do subscribe to Every now and then I consider subscribing to Interweave Knits, but then they come out with a disappointing issue so I don't.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on? I'd like one of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books, or maybe Last Minute Knitted Gifts. But I'm open to anything!

29. Any patterns you have been coveting, but haven't bought for one reason or another?? Rogue and Bless are the only two I can think of at the moment.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Total surprise

These are two amazingly wonderful gifts I received this weekend from the most sweet, thoughtful man in the world, Taz. He tells me he has an errand to do, and would I mind hanging out at the yarn store while he does it. Um, what kind of question is that? Duh. So he leaves me happily ensconced in piles of books, searching for a good felted bag pattern. Half an hour later he comes back from whatever mysterious place he went, and I get in the car. As we begin to drive off, he reaches behind the seat and pulls out a bag. He hands it to me, saying "Happy Anniversary!" Inside are a ball winder and the Knitter's Companion. To understand why I instantly burst into tears, you have to realize what a surprise this was. It was not, I repeat not because he never gets me anything. Let us be clear on that!!! He gets me little surprise gifts all the time. It was because we've never really been big on celebrating our dating anniversaries, and I was totally unprepared. Of course, I had nothing ready to give him. I had been planning on getting him a really cool kite the next day when we went to Block Island, but of course those plans were thwarted by the minor fact of the best kite shop in the world having simply disappeared from the face of the earth since last time I was there. Sigh.

Suffice to say, not only was I completely surprised and very touched, I am also very excited to get my hands on a swift now as well, so that the ball-winding fiesta can begin. And better yet, since I don't currently have any skeins that need winding, I now have an excuse to go out and buy more yummy yarn! Yay!

Friday, September 02, 2005

How to Help!!!

We've been reading all week about people dying and starving and drowning and losing everything to Katrina. After watching the news all day and seeing the devastation, it's easy to become a little numb. But before that happens, if you haven't done something yet, now's the time.

So what can you do to help those suffering in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina? Well, for starters, you can donate to the Red Cross:

While you're there, check to see if there's a place near you to donate blood, especially if your blood type is O+, which is the most in demand. And then you can join other knitters in helping with Margene and Susan's effort by letting them know you've donated--just send an e-mail to e-mail givealittle AT gmail DOT com. If you want to see how much has been achieved by caring knitters across the country and find out what else you can do (like knitting prizes to help raise money), visit Give a Little.

If you have a blog or webpage of your own, please save the image above and use it to link to the red cross site yourself. The more times people see this button, the greater the chance they will eventually click on it and donate.

Finally, if you live in the New Haven, CT area, please collect items (clothes, food, medical supplies) to donate to the relief effort and take them to your local Fire Station. The Fire Stations will accept donations from 8AM to 6PM beginning immediately and continuing until further notice.

The 10 stations are:

Central Station - 952 Grand Ave.
Engine 5 - 826 Woodward Ave.
Engine 6 - 125 Goffe St.
Engine 8 - 350 Whitney Ave.
Engine 9 - 120 Ellsworth Ave.
Engine 10 - 412 Lombard St.
Engine 11 - 525 Howard Ave.
Engine 15 - 105 Fountain St.
Engine 16 - 510 Lighthouse Rd.
Engine 17 - 73 East Grand Ave.

All this takes so little time, but it makes such a big difference to people in a desperate situation. It's the very least any of us can do!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Trying too hard?

OK, before I get to the knitting content (which I promise there is!), I want to mention something Taz and I witnessed last weekend and ask you all what you think about it. We were outside the best brunch place in town waiting for a table when we noticed a lone guy wearing a t-shirt that said "Feminist" in big letters, and I found myself kind of turned off by it. Now before everyone jumps to this poor man's defense, let me make clear that any man who truly views women as equals worthy of respect, and treats them as such, is to be valued and adored. And even more kudos to the man who is not repelled by the taboo many people (women included) feel toward the word "feminist." What turned me off here was the strong feeling I got that this particular guy was only wearing the t-shirt so he could pick up women or something (though when I mentioned this to Conker, he joked that maybe the guy just lost a bet). I mean, one who is truly grounded and confident in the truth of one's convictions probably doesn't feel the need to broadcast them to the world. OK, well maybe during a march on Washington or something, but not while reading the Times at a sidewalk café table on a Sunday morning. Right? Now if you want to get into a drawn-out discussion of what "feminist" really means, we can do that, but what I'm asking here is more about his intentions. Do you think my interpretation was correct, or am I way off base?

Now for the knitting content!! You may recall that I had vowed not to start any new projects until I was done with the baby sweater. Well, I must admit that there is still a little bit left to do on the sweater--sew on the ribbon plaquette and the buttons--but I'll be doing that tonight at SnB. Meanwhile, I decided that the perfect thing to be doing on the train would be to get started on Jessie's wrist warmers. So I cast on and started them using the magic loop. They're so soft I keep pausing to stick my fingers inside them to "test them out." But despite the frequent pauses, they're going quite fast. In 5 more rows, I'm going to have to start the increases. This might seem like a dumb question, but does anyone have hints on how to do increases on a purl stitch? Sounds crazy, but despite having done both socks and sweaters, I have always managed to work it so the increases landed right before a knit stitch. So, any hints about doing one before a purl?

Finally, I have to leave you all with this hilarious quote that Cate shared with us all today: "I've sucked at lots of things before and managed to become mediocre at them with a little time and effort. We all have our aspirations." I can't tell you how much I identify with that sometimes!