Monthly Archives: September 2006

Knitterly Pitterly Things

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Because La Grumperina is one of my favorite Boston nerds and because I am especially grumpy today…

10 Knitterly Things you didn’t know about me, a meme

1. I am an excellent finisher, but not an excellent completer. I thank the woman who taught me to knit for the finishing skills. That and the insistence that I could and WOULD learn to fix problems. Her philosophy, which is now mine: “If you’re going to spend all that time knitting a garment why the heck would you stop short at the finishing, or leave a mistake. You will have wasted your time.” I am first to admit this is a delicate balance between mania and practicality. However, good finishing skills are NOT hard to acquire and they make a HUGE difference in the finished product.


2. Cheap acrylic sweaters, the kind that squeak when you touch them, make my skin crawl. Debbie had one at her trunk show and I almost lost my cookies. That thing and those damn freaky ass knitted clowns. That woman is going to be the end of me.

3. I have been knitting for 2.5 years. In this time I have never finished (I’ve started) a lace project, a fair-isle project, an intarsia project, or anything else that is too complicated. While I consider myself a decent knitter. I just cannot find the concentration to conquer these mountains. See #4

4. I am a perfectionist. In fact, I am actually shocked I am a knitter. I have few hobbies because I hate failing and I am too impatient to give myself time to learn how to do something well, and if I can’t do something well (or perfect) then I don’t want to do it at all. It took me a few months to get to the point where knitting “clicked”. The fact that I kept at it is nothing short of a minor miracle. See #3

5. I throw with my right hand. When I do this I fully let go of the right needle and prop it with one of my left fingers. This is horribly inefficient yet I feel as though I have decent speed and control. Furthermore, it is hard wired and trying to change makes my brain feel like I am asking it to move inanimate objects.

6. I love wool. I mean wool wool. Sweaters made with scratchy, warm, dense wool are my favorites. Chalk it up to all those teenage years spent in my dad’s Woolrich sweaters.

7. I am obsessed with the little things. I realized this at a baby shower where the mother was gifted with 800 knitted objects. Seriously, the woman had a family of knitters. While this was awesome and inspiring it made my dinky little sweater seem like small beans. From that point forward I spent more time on the little things….packaging, personalized details, etc. Moving the gift from the “grandma knit me this” pile to the “oh-la-la, I came from a fancy pants boutique” pile.

233369482_c2bc5061518. I am the only person alive in my family, extended and immediate, that knits. My grandmother was a knitter. I have a sweater she made for herself (which I hope to share someday), a swatch she knit with her gauge notes pinned to it, and her little plastic box filled with notions and DPNS. My aunt (her daughter-in-law) has her needles. When you open the box the smell of her end table drawer (where she kept the box) fills the air. I am considering vacuum packing this smell so as to not loose it or forget it. Man, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I miss her, especially now. She was my soul-mate and my biggest fan. I wish she was still here.


9. I believe in the power of a knitted object. One that either me or someone else knit (as long as they did it while they were “present” and not unaware). I am not a hokey sentimental person but this force I cannot deny. Some may remember my story of fixing my computer while dressed in items that I had knit. I did this to gain confidence. I am thinking of knitting something to bring with me while I’m in labor.

10. I can’t think of another one….so I’ll tell you a none knitterly thing about me…. I yelled at a bus driver this morning! My commute is done via Public Transportation in Boston. While most mornings, at best, this is an exercise in patience and a grand sense of humor this morning was beyond my capacity to cope. I can usually deal with anything and everything with an understanding that people are people and, in most everyday cases, they are self-centered and tunnel-visioned. However, this morning my coping skills took off for Tahiti and left me screaming at a bus driver from the side of the road through the door that he had just shut in my face without warning because he was a moron and decided that the 800 people on his bus was enough and 801 might just throw him off or something. Asshat. It was not pretty. I do not yell at bus drivers. I am clearly being inhabited by an alien. Please send divine peace.


A Hamburger or A Hot Dog?

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The voting for the glasses is now over. The Chosen Pair has been paid for and ordered. I will be counting votes and producing graphs in the next few days. The winner from a cursory glance was frame #1…however, I did not purchase that frame. ;) Fickle. I know. I think you will all be pleasantly surprised with the final choice. Your opinions were a huge help, I was not even considering that frame as a contender! A winner of the random drawing will also be announced. I think, this time, I might try to get an idea of what the winner likes and sent something from the stash.

In other news…. I have started knitting for Baby Bookish. The first project is the Kai Cable Sweater from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding. Pictures of the pattern are here and here. There are some great versions out in blog land. A quick google search yielded: a stripey version modeled by a cute pooch, and one knit with the called for yarn,

I am using yarn that I picked up in Maine earlier this year at SPA Knit and Spin (sadly, I cannot attend the event next year…it is five days before BB’s due date!). I wish I could remember the vendor. It’s a undyed Merino two-ply. Very soft and very, very nice. I think my gauge is a bit tighter than the patterns (I NEVER gauge swatch for baby sweaters) which means that baby will be able to wear it straight away! A February baby needs some sweaters…and socks…and hats…

Why start knitting now? Well, we found out the sex of the baby! We had an 18 week ultrasound last Thursday. The doctor was awesome and we learned and saw so much. I’ll spare you an endless barrage of black and white photos and share my favorite…


You can see the heart here – and it really looks like the shape of a heart! Pretty cool.

According to the Doctor, we are having A GIRL! I am now especially terrified, as I am not a girly girl and am much more comfortable around boys. However, we are both thrilled beyond belief and this has started to convince me that there is a baby and that I am actually pregnant. It’s a crazy, crazy, world out there.

Now, I said “according to the doctor” for a reason. Rob and I saw a big blob. Apparently the Doctor saw a birds-eye view of the female anatomy. I asked her to point out the specifics of what she saw. And, as she did with the entire ultrasound, she obliged. However, to us there was still a grey blob. I spent some time with Kristen this weekend (which was a blast by the way, Stitchy kicked 17 kinds of ass), having recently finished her OB rotation she assured me that we can indeed “see” texture in the gray variations on the ultrasound screen. She also compared shape of the texture to that of a hamburger. “So, you have a hamburger and not a hot dog.” I found endless amusement in this analogy.

We have chosen a name, although it will be kept private for the duration. I also may or may not have spent a ridiculous amount of money on yarn at WEBS. Rob and I sat down and he, like a good doobie, helped pick out a few patterns for the wee one. This kid is going to be well appointed!

MOK and Roll Babeeee

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Keep Voting. I am blind as a bat – so all of this is a huge help!!

I just popped in to let you all know that everyone’s favorite Stitchy McYarn-in-her-pants commences her MOK and Roll Tour this weekend.  She will be signing her fabulous book tomorrow in Western Massachusetts.  She will be at the Barnes and Noble in Hadley,MA which, from my understanding, is a hop, skip, and a jump from WEBS.  Seriously…why wouldn’t you go?!
Her fan club (myself included) will be there in full force.  We are her support crew…kind of like a pit crew at the race car events.  Our charge – get the woman to a gin-and-tonic before the engagement.  The engagement my friends, is at 2pm.  It should be a funnnnn day.  Too bad I’m preggers!

Come by and show your support – I may even let you rub the Buddha belly for good luck!

The Polling was rigged!!!

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Vicky! Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways. I seem to have labelled the #7 frames toward the end of the set (the Prada ones, you can see it written on the lens) wrong. They were (it has since been fixed) labelled #1. The REAL #1 is the first picture in the set and a few other pictures (now properly labelled) toward the back of the set (Donna Karen written on the lens).

This only worries me because A LOT of the votes (over half) have been for #1 and NOW I DON’T KNOW WHICH YOU MEANT – The REAL #1 or #7.

Please feel free to vote again, this has been a great eye-opener (am I the funniest girl alive, or what?). Your name will be entered in the contest AGAIN. And yes, people probably laughed at us but if you have ever spent any time with us in public you would know that this is by far the least most embarrassing thing we’re capable of. And also, thank you for telling me I’m so cute. You sure know how to make a girl happy. I was trying to figure out which of my ancestors to disown for breeding multiple chins!!! Oh and the Red ones – TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT SALLY…thank you all for your wisdom during this time of crisis.

My appointment is tomorrow and I’ll probably head back to the store after work. I do know about the eyeball changing super power that I now have as a pregnant woman. I have needed new glasses for over a year now and I’m not too worried about a wrong prescription. If the Dr freaks…I’ll wait. But, otherwise I cannot wait another 6-9 months for the eyeballs to regain their former selves.
Also, my server is kind of a pooper sometimes. If you’re having a hard time leaving me a comment you can always click on the contact button in the upper right corner of your screen. This will send an email speeding off to bookish girl central. Just be sure to leave something in the subject that will clue me in to the nature of your email…

To avoid further confusion:

Here are the top vote getter’s in order of popularity

Frame #1 – I’m worried these frames are too big for my face…

248586501_32e7f3656dFrame #4 – I’m not so lazy eyed in real person…248587138_301bfa8eb8Frame #7 – are these too trendy?248586821_0be1d6a3c6

Frame #9 – I like these but I’m afraid they’re not much of a departure from my current pair…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’m just trying to not be so conservative.248587664_80d3b1b30f

I can see clearly now….

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I have worn glasses since I was 6 years old. My mother noticed that I was squinting down the driveway at our house, so during our next breakfast she put the Cheerios box on the kitchen counter across the room from me. She asked if I could read it. “Sure, it says Cheerios”. I couldn’t read it…but I knew what the damn box looked like.

I have an eye appointment on Friday and am in the market for some new frames. Rob and I went to the store today and I tried a whole bunch on in an effort to figure out which made me look “cool”, “funny”, “chic”, “edgy”. All of this and enough practicality to carry me through the next 2 – 3 years.

I made faces, he took pictures.

Vote, voice your opinion…a prize is to be had. Not sure what yet. But, I have a whole stash waiting to be loved.

There are 8 different frames, Labelled 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9….2 was too poopy to share. Actually others are probably too poopy to share as well however, at this point I could give a flying fart.

The Frame with the most votes wins. That is, unless I don’t like the final choice ;). Winner will be choosen at random.

The photos are located in my Flickr account, the first is here, scroll through to see the rest.

My future is in your hands. Godspeed.

I remember.

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I woke up that morning to the phone ringing. I was living with friends in Athens, GA. having just finished my thesis, defended and earned a degree. I was in a transition state. Living the life of a student, working, and having fun.

It was my father, telling me he loved me. I remember thinking, this is weird, and why is he calling to tell me this right now?

He asked if I had seen the news. I said no. He told me to get up and go to the t.v. I clicked on the television. The second plane had just hit the World Trade Center. The news anchors were trying to understand what was going on.

The first words out of my mouth were, “Why are they doing this to us?” and I burst into tears.

At that time no one understood who, what, where. The other planes were still in air. The confusion, shock and helplessness were apparent and visceral. I will NEVER forget that feeling.

We didn’t know anything except that humans were killing other humans.

Innocent People Were Suffering.

I am incredibly proud of our society and how we responded in those initial days after, the first responders, the people on the streets, the media and, for a few hours, our Administration. The bravery, love and compassion were palpable. So were the anger, fear, worry, and sorrow. We were humans; we were able to feel these complex conflicting emotions simultaneously.

I do not believe that humans should kill one another. I will never understand the reason for this course of action. This feeling was cemented on that day. It was the first time in my life that I had faced, really faced, death on such a massive scale. I cannot imagine what is like for those who witness these things first hand.

Today I remember that feeling.

I remember those who gave their lives that day and since.

I hope for peace.

Booking It.

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First off – I must peddle the Stitchy’s fab book. It truly is worth a gander. I love it all, with the strong exception of the clowns. I still have not forgiven her for that chapter. As I said in my last post – I’m proud of Debbie. She has a unique and stunning talent. Turn of phrase and subtle humor are her specialty and I am so glad that she was able to get it out into a printed format.

Fall has started in my psyche – years of the commencement of the school year has ingrained that in me. At the turn of this season, in particular, I have a craving for a certain type of book. Complex, strong sense of place, usually a dark place with dry cool weather. Perhaps a spooky, gothic book. A few years ago I asked for recommendations from friends. Two books were recommended. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind and Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. I started both of them and, for whatever reason, never really got into either. Both went unfinished.

The other day I was over at Michelle’s site and she posted about the Reader’s Imbibing Peril (R.I.P) 2006 Autumn Challenge. (click on imagine to get to site). This group exactly describes the type of novel I seek…


Really, I just love the button. Edward Gorey is the coolest. While I probably will not formally join the challenge (the surest way to get me NOT to read). I love the lists compiled there. Full of great recommendations, in which I hope to find my next book.

In the meantime…. An update on finished stuff since the last reader wrap up (the first week of July)… all books are linked on the sidebar.

Heat by Bill Buford
Verdict: Made me want to eat Italian food and support the slow food movement. Food is awesome. Italian food is better. I was not so interested in the restaurant side of the story. Although, having worked in restaurants I did have to note that his descriptions of the type of people who find the career appealing was dead on. This is worth reading (or listening to, as I did) if you’re a foodie and interested in the origins of the Italian cuisine.

The Grave Maurice (A Richard Jury Novel) by Martha Grimes
Verdict: First Grimes book. It was lying around my parents house and I needed something brainless to read. Entertaining but I won’t seek out the rest of the series.

Heartbreaking work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers.
Verdict: This book bored me. The writing style was exactly what I don’t like about some contemporary writers. Long sentences with 600 adjectives all describing nothing. You’re not writing if you need to use every word in the Thesaurus to describe something. Now, I’m not one for writing, thinking, or talking in minimalist sentence structures…however, I’m not a writer.

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
Verdict: You all might remember my obsession with this series which manifested itself into an epic marathon reading of all titles in publication. This left off with #11. I downloaded the latest book the day it was released. It is really fun to listen to these books. I enjoyed this story as I did the other. Total brain candy, makes no pretense that it will save the world and delivers.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Verdict: I read this is on a Saturday sitting in my hammock outside. This was my first Bryson. I was entertained although ultimately underwhelmed and particularly disappointed in the ending. I suppose, for some reason I wanted it to follow a predictable path and it did not. Demanding Damn Reader.

Garlics and Saphires by Ruth Reichl
Verdict: This was read for my bookclub. I read Tender at the Bone a few years ago and really enjoyed it. This book was very different but cleaver in its construction. Another foodie book. The thing I find amazing about Ruth Reichl is that her writing is so humble. She is so humble about herself and her accomplishments. She built an believable career as a chef, food critic, and now – editor of one of the premier food magazines in the world and, if she is to be believed, she had really little to do with it…it was luck. I should try and find some other writings about her and not by her.

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl.
Verdict: It took me a LONG time to get into this book (almost 150 pgs!) once I got past the initial boredom (too many characters not enough plot). I was hooked. This is a fun mystery book with a lot of history, a strong sense of place (Boston!) and literary references galore. Totally my kind of book. I think the fault is the first part. Pearl has to establish the setting and characters and it gets a little stuck here…once he’s past it the novel flows.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Verdict: Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors and this book follows suit. All of her books are so incredibly different. She is an incredibly talented writer and I love reading her stories.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Verdict: Another bookclub book. I was pissed that I had to read this…I’m such a book snob. However, it was a sweet story and not at all a waste of my time. It took all of a few hours to read and leaves you feeling a bit warm.

There have also been a butt load of preggers books. But I’ll spare you those.

The only book left on the stand is A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion….I am listening to this one and so far really enjoying it…

Ribbing – making room for baby

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I am loving this new blog platform. Truly. I can see who you are! Where your websites are, what email you use…It’s fabulous, a dream come true.

Thank you for the compliments on the sewing. Did you see that my Mom even left one? Moms are great. She has a theory that sewing skips a generation. It seems knitting does not as both of my grandmothers knit. Have you all had this experience in your families?

And we are off to my other most recent finished object. I actually finished 98.7% of this many many weeks ago and it sat in the hat box next to my knitting chair. The part that stopped me? The collar. Picking up stitches for the collar. You see, I love to knit until it makes me think. Then it sits. However, picking up stitches for the collar does not truly require thought, just attention and motivation and well, see the alien inside of me uses up my allotted quota.

232892999_e59b38db6c_mThis pattern was written by former Beantowntown girl, La Gringa. This is a fabulous pattern. You should be proud Shannon!

I love the drape and fit of this sweater. I modified the neck from turtle to crew. I wanted to be able to wear this on cool summer nights. A turtleneck would have discouraged me. Added bonus? The ribbing at the bottom will expand to fit my new Hostess Cupcake habit! This is, by far, my best sweater yet. Claudia – I think I found my magic number! Hopefully it’s all up hill from here.232893290_dcf54c8dcb_mMy hope was to use Shannon’s pattern as an opportunity to write up a tutorial on how to use Excel to modify patterns for size and gauge adjustments. I first did this with my Olympic Hourglass sweater and I found it incredibly useful. It allowed me to make changes on the fly, as I knit my “swatches” (known as sleeves to most people). In the end, I am going to have to hold off. I’m not the best teacher and the whole process involves a liberal dose of “fly by the seat of your pants” which, if you’re not comfortable with Excel or numbers, would frustrate you. If you are comfortable with Excel and numbers you could clearly come up with a spreadsheet on your own – it ain’t rocket science.232893418_d6dc740304_m

Pattern: A Very Necessary Sweater (link opens .pdf) by Shannon Culbertson

Started: 03/06, Finished: 08/06

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (discontinued), Color:

Needles: Denise Interchangeables, Size 7 for body;, Size 8 for ribbing

Modifications: Modified Size to fit my figure. Modified neck

Notes: This is a well written pattern. I highly recommend it.232893099_ca4c364710_m