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July 18, 2005

The Wisdom of Mothers

When Jason was a kid living in Texas, his mother once brought him with her as she scoured local antique sales looking for furniture. While the very idea of such an outing would strike fear in the heart of an average kid, young Jason had a blast exploring these places and things of old. He and his mother decided that Jason would tell his brother and sister that antiquing with mom was a dreadfully boring excercise to be avoided at all costs. That way, it could always be the Special Thing They Did Together (STTDT), just the two of them. (The STTDT approach was one that his mom used with all three kids, and I think it's sheer genius.)

Jason developed quite an eye for antiques during these trips with his mother, and helped her pick out a number of pieces that they still have today. One of them was this cabinet, which he originally picked out for his own room. Later, it became an end table in his parents' family room. When they recently embarked on some renovations and found that the cabinet needed a new home, his mom and dad gave us first dibs.


Generally speaking, we need more furniture like we need holes in our heads. But I had a plan for this cabinet. Since we moved here, I've used a large basket in the living room to store my "current" stash. I did this in blatant violation of two of my mother's rules of organization:

  1. Items to be used for storage should not be open. Whether it's a door or a lid, always make sure that you can hide your inevitable disorganization inside from the world outside.

  2. Beware the law of gas. This law states that gas will expand evenly to fill any space. Getting a bigger closet, for example, will lead to acquiring more clothes to fill it up. I don't think I need to explain how this relates to yarn, hmmm?

In other words, my basket was unsightly and too big for my needs. Out it goes! The cabinet is perfectly suited to hold between four and six projects worth of yarn, as well as my needles, notions and a few books. The metal baskets are my addition, they make it easier to see what's in the cabinet and save me from having to pull everything out to find something buried in the back.


What's the white yarn, you ask? What am I working on now? Patience, my pretties, patience.

Posted by shannon at 11:38 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: La Gringa Habla

July 14, 2005

Drastic Measures

We were in New York (yes, again) for Jason's sister's birthday last weekend, and had a fabulous time. Her husband John had arranged a sunset boatride around Manhattan, which gave us a great opportunity to play with our new camera.

It also gave me an opportunity to give Rachel her birthday present, which was supposed to have been a completed long-sleeved tee-shirt with the graphic she picked out. Well, at least she got the graphic.


I'd say my knitting speed is about average in general, but my intarsia speed is positively glacial. Note to self: if you are doing an intarsia pattern, you will have to do it at least twice. And that's just for general "this looks awful!" do-overs, and does not incldue the times you'll have to rip back or start over because of counting errors.

The night before Rachel's birthday celebration, I was up late finishing up the lettering so that I could give her the front piece at dinner as an indicator of progress. It looked great except for a little stitch looseness around the "o", so I started tugging on the surrounding stitches to tighten it up a bit. Next thing I knew, it looked like crap. (Second note to self: don't do intarsia after midnight.)

I managed to clean it up a bit in time to give it to her the next day, but it still wasn't quite right. Jason assured me that he couldn't even see what I was talking about but it still bugged me. I kept knitting and tried to ignore it, but it was no use. Every time I thought of this otherwise delightful project, all I saw in my mind's eye was the puckered section I'd created next to the "o".

Last night I decided it was time to deal with the problem. Despite the fact that intarsia is slow as Christmas and nobody else seems to see the mistake at all, I ripped back and started the lettering again. I don't want to regret not doing everything I could to get this just right -- Rachel, gift-giver and party-thrower extraordinaire, deserves nothing less.

P.S. -- Happy birthday, boys!

Posted by shannon at 11:15 AM | For related posts: For Rachel, Long-Sleeved Chocolate Tee

July 12, 2005

Outed. Scooped. Found out. Revealed. Exposed.

After years of not telling his family about his blog, Jason's been found. Obviously this means that I, too, have been found. And since gifts for his family (especially the babies!) represent a big chunk of my knitting, that means I'm going to have to take steps to protect "gift secrecy" around here!

Welcome, all!

I love this picture. Looking from left to right, you see nothing but familial bliss - until you get to little Hank. Cracks me up every time.

Posted by shannon at 2:02 PM | For related posts:

July 11, 2005

No-Go Lola

Is the suspense of Lola's fate killing you? No? Too bad, you get an update anyway!

Here's a hint. This was Lola as of last night:

Already ripped

The verdict: too big. It fit OK around the waist, but gapped alarmingly in the bust. I'm not sure when I'll get back to re-knitting this; I'm suddenly faced with a deluge a deadline knitting and it's going to take some re-working* to get Lola right. Since it's a small project, perhaps I'll put it in the "honeymoon knitting" pile!

*When I come back to this, though, I'll be re-reading Claudia's notes on how she finally got this tank right!

Posted by shannon at 8:25 AM | For related posts: Lola

July 9, 2005


As I was knitting on Lola a few weeks back, Alison told me a cautionary tale. "Knit it small, 'cause this thing grows like a weed when you wash it." I got out my measuring tape and soon realized that if her experience was any indicator, I was in trouble.

I ripped what I had, and cast on for the smallest size. This made an already fast knit even faster, and soon both pieces were finished!

Hmmmm. Looks awfully small!
Grow, Lola, grow!
Block, Lola, block!

So, do you think she fit? Did I manage to accurately calculate how much it would grow in water? Stay tuned for the final twist!

Posted by shannon at 10:20 AM | For related posts: Lola

July 8, 2005

Post-Holiday Fluff

This entry was to have been posted yesterday with apologies for the lack of knitting content and assurances that I will be posting lots of pictures and status updates very soon. Turning on the news in the morning, I decided that yesterday wasn't a day for such frivolous things -- so I held off until today.

If Jason is catching up on his blog reads and suddenly bursts into laughter, I know there's a 50% chance he's reading Skot's Izzle pfaff!. (The other half of the time, he's reading dooce.) So when he forwarded me a link to an Izzle pfaff! entry the other day, I made sure that I wasn't eating or drinking anything and headed over to read it. Here's the story: Skot's wife is performing in a play, and she's been looking for a hobby to keep her occupied backstage during rehersals. She tried a few things, but none of them really seemed suited to situation.

And then a friend turned her on to . . . knitting. Which is possibly the most disturbing one yet, at least from my perspective. Because while I know it works for her situation--it's quiet, productive, passes the time, etc.--it is really sort of disturbing to be sitting around the home, I'm watching SportsCenter, and then to look over at my wife . . . knitting. My breathing becomes shallow, and the adrenal glands go juicy. Oh, God! I think. My wife is seventy years old! Because, I'm sorry, I do associate knitting with the elderly. Inept scarves and ill-fitting scratchy sweaters and all that, those lovingly-made gifts that have ruined countless Christmases for children.

Read the rest of the hysterical -- and gleefully profane -- entry here.

Not long after Jason passed on Skot's entry, he also pointed me to an August 2004 newspaper story out of Port Townsend, WA. One minute a woman was riding in a car, happily knitting on a sweater and the next she was sporting a bruised finger and this:

Photo from the original newspaper story

No warning, no explanation... her needle just exploded. I haven't felt safe picking up my metal needles since!

Posted by shannon at 9:29 AM | Comments (3) | For related posts:

July 7, 2005


"This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful; it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers; it was aimed at ordinary working class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christians, Hindu and Jew, young and old, indiscriminate attempt at slaughter irrespective of any considerations, of age, of class, of religion, whatever, that isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith, it's just indiscriminate attempt at mass murder, and we know what the objective is, they seek to divide London. They seek to turn Londoners against each other and Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack... I wish to speak through you directly, to those who came to London to claim lives, nothing you do, how many of us you kill will stop that flight to our cities where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another, whatever you do, how many you kill, you will fail." --Ken Livingston, Mayor of London

I've already seen a host of references to the epic stoicism of London's residents during the Blitz. The analogy is a good one, and their reputation of being resilient in the face of adversity is well-deserved. Let's not forgot that, as one Brit commented today, "nobody yet has won a war by bombing London".

I have a real soft spot for London. It was the first city I ever lived in that felt like a real city. I had lived in places with terrific art museums, lots of history, and diverse populations before -- but London was different. It was the first time I had ever lived in a place where public transportation was enough, where owning a car was an unnecessary nuisance, and where your most valued possession was your transit pass. It was in London where I came up with my own personal "urban livability index"; it wasn't enough to have cool places to go and interesting things to see -- you had to be able to get there conveniently on public transportation. Ever since the summer I spent there, I've judged the "livability" of every one of the five cities I've lived in against London and the Tube. All but one have come up short.

My heartfelt condolences to those involved and their families.

Posted by shannon at 4:35 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: