Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I found the link where I learned to recycle yarn! http://neauveau.com/recycledyarn.html Wonderful accompanying pictures.

I get a real energy boost from turning $3.90 worth of Value Village sweater into two lovely sweaters for my children.
Several people have found this blog while searching on STITCHDC. Here is a quick review of the store.

I've only been to the StitchDC store on Capitol Hill, not the one in Georgetown. The store is just across from the Navy Barracks in a section of 8th Street, SE that is nicely renovated. It may be hard to spot - the outside is pale blue. I've interacted with two different women who work at StitchDC and both were very helpful and wonderful. They made me feel free to tell of my rank amateur status and they suggested but were not pushy. They did not steer me toward "easy" patterns or expensive yarn. I had a nice conversation with one woman about the quality of knitting instructions and the importance (to me) of not having the knitting treated too zen. I do like a little humour and straight forward instructions. (sigh) A diagram with labelled parts is always helpful.

The StitchDc store is beautifully lit with natural light and is 2.5 rooms deep. It is not cluttered, many of the yarns are in oak looking cubbies. Some yarns are hanging from hooks against the walls. There is a small section travelling from the front to the back where non-knitting goods are displayed for sale. Kitschy and arty kitchen and dinner ware (written up in the NYT in February!). There is a nice variety of yarns, even I could tell that, and prices ranged from $4 - $30 a skein. Yes, I had shock at the high prices but I took full advantage of sales and all of the range of lovely yarns.

Edited to add the link: http://www.stitchdc.com/
Well, it sort of makes sense. I have Mid-western in me and I have never been to the mid-west. I grew up in Kenya, spent some formative pre-college years in rural North Carolina, went to college in Pennsylvania, lived in DC for for 8 years, and in Maryland just outside DC for 11 years. Though really DC and Maryland are pretty Southern/Dixie not yankee at all. People can't usually tell where I'm from by listening to me though talking to people from certain regios tends to bring those accents to the top of my tongue.

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

20% Yankee

15% Dixie

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The ill-fated blue wrap. Isn't the ruffle edge nice? Posted by Hello
Fun scarf - knitted in less than 24 hours as a birthday present Posted by Hello
There is no shame in being afraid. Acknowledging fear should not be shameful. I should not feel guilty and inadequate because I'm afraid of something.

Is there any other way to say that and make it clearer?

I'm afraid of lots of things. I am afraid of rejection and it impacts my life but that isn't the sort of fear that I'm thinking about today. I'm afraid of ants even though I know that that fear is not totally logical. Fear of ants and my fear of dentists are both based on negative experiences I had when I was child and even though I *know* that I am not around that kind of ants or that particular dentist but I *feel* the fear.

Other things that I'm afraid of are more logical things to fear. I'm afraid of guns. I'm afraid or driving a motorcycle. I'm afraid of fallen electricity wires. I'm afraid of things that make loud noises and can also possibly hurt me. Airplanes don't frighten me but chainsaws do. Ok, a blade with a motor is scary for me. Those motorized knives? I won't touch them. It suddenly occured to me that the feeling I have when confronted with electric knives, chainsaws, and lawn mowers is linked in my mind with my first sewing machine experience where the needle went faster and faster and I couldn't connect my foot on the peddle with the speed of the needle and so the fabric whipped around and around as I sat frozen with my foot pressing the peddle to the floor. (deep breath)

I admit I'm afraid of these things. I try to address my fears head on which is much easier once I've named them outloud. For years I used a push mower to mow our yard; I liked that it was quiet, wouldn't move on its own, and was good for the environment. We moved to a larger house/yard and my husband bought a gas mower. It was loud and I was scared of it but my husband did all the mowing and I kept the kids inside. Then we moved to a hilly acre of land and my husband was diagnosed with a heart problem that restricts him from mowing. I tried using the push mower but it took hours. I finally got myself together, read the manual for the gas mower, and tried it out. I got used to the sound and I practiced until I felt in control of the mower. For several years now I have mowed the land with the gas mower; it's hot work and takes about 2.5 hours (I split it over two days). Two days ago my father-in-law handed down his old rider mower to us. It's a Sears Craftsman and feels very big. Today I read the manual, disengaged the blades, and sat on the mower. Slowly, step by step, I started the engine, slid the throttle through its paces, and gently put the mower in gear. I jolted forward and my heart was pounding. My hands shook and sweat beaded on my forehead even though it is a cool day. I rode back and forth using 1st gear and reverse and even engaged the blades along the flat portion of land just behind the house. I had a phone in my pocket in case the mower turned over and trapped me. After several laps I braved a corner and even turned around (I think it was a 14 point turn). (deep breath) I started up the hill and it was scary. I was afraid the mower would roll over, I was afraid that I would hit a rut and flip, I felt like I was lurching. I tried small things, small sections, I backed up if I felt like it was too dangerous to go forward. Sometimes I went back and tackled a fearsome place but others I avoided.

I didn't cover the whole yard there are lots of ruts and several steep sections that I wouldn't face today but I feel more confidant. Admitting my fear and then carefully feeling out what parts I could handle and which were too much for me lessened my fear. I can use this machine.

I heard a radio article some time ago where the author claimed that women don't use power tools because the women are afraid of them. It's true that I'm afraid of loud power tools but I know a secret...lots of men are afraid of loud power tools as well. Some men are afraid but won't say so - they just avoid those tools. Some people are afraid and then they are afraid to say they are afraid and so they don't try things.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

An expensive and time consuming knitting mistake.

I made a beautiful moebius wrap. It was supposed to be lacy with a lovely geometric pattern and I bought a great denim coloured variegated mohair yarn to knit it out of. I cast on for the largest size wrap, 236 stitches, and increased one stitch at the beginning of the next round. Then I knot and purled my way through the beginning of the scarf - which ends up being the simple looking middle of the wrap. After a few rounds, following the instructions, I started knitting the lace pattern and I knew I was in trouble pretty early in the program. I couldn't seem to remember where I was in the pattern; so I ripped it out to a sure place and started again, several patterns later I was lost again. I decided to go with the flow and let it work itself out. On the third round of pattern, I wondered that I was making two increases and one decrease per pattern which means with a gain of 1 stitch per pattern execution, maybe 20 extra stitches per round added. The math became boggling as I tried to work out number of increases x patterns per round x number of rounds. Who says people don't use Algebra in real life? I checked the book several times to make sure I was following it correctly; I even checked the website to see if there were corrections; I trusted the pattern.

I should have NOT TRUSTED MYSELF because, of course, I had misunderstood the directions for one set of stitches. The book said SSK and in the back (yes, I had checked) it explained that this meant to slip two stitches knitwise, then slip them back and knit them. The part I missed was that I was supposed to knit them together which would decrease a stitch leaving an equal increase and decrease by two for each pattern.

What did this mean? Well the pattern looked beautiful, not geometric and orderly but lovely and organic and not random looking or chaotic. Unfortunately every round started to take forever to complete. My hands cramped from the pressure of knitting against purled stitches. I got lost again and again in the pattern. Yarn disappeared onto the circular needles at a tremendous pace even though the knitting itself felt slow-slow-slow.

I finally started to bind off since I was worried about running out of yarn and I was so tired of knitting on this project and I secretly hoped to wear it to an event this evening. Binding off took several hours. I ended with 2 feet of yarn left.

The completed scarf is 90" from beginning to beginning (moebius joke). 45" long when folded. It has wonderful slightly wavy edges and the colour moves in eye catching ways. It feels lovely and snuggles against my neck.


it wraps around my neck 3 or 4 times or twice (and droopily at that) around my shoulders or once across my shoulders with a dip in the back that exactly frames my ass which does not need that kind of attention. I cannot wear it tonight and I don't think I can unknit it because the yarn gets those tangles from having its fibers rubbed against each other.

(sigh) It was a lovely pattern and a lovely colour of yarn. And really pattern I ended up with is very nice.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

People try to ban books from schools and libraries for many reasons including racism and sexism in the books, what is considered excess violence in books for children, and religious ideals (or lack thereof). I'm considered quite conservative among the parents of my children's peers. We don't watch much tv or read the Left Behind series for either adults or teens and yet we read Harry Potter, Chaim Potok, and watch "Best in Show". I'd much rather discuss the issues of our lives like racism and sexism in real time so that they can relate to the actions and incidences of our lives but talking about them as seen in books and movies through the lives of people who do not mirror our lives and yet who we see as real people...that is also valuable, very valuable. I did once ask to have a set of books removed from the children's section of our library. The books were, in my opinion, misfiled. They were re-shelved in the open racks where nobody was kept from looking at, reading, or checking them out but they were not kept in the area most recommended to children. As an adult I found the books offensive but I didn't see any reason to keep other people from ever reading them. The books I asked to have moved were these. I didn't expect them to be moved because of my asking I thought it must be a mistake. Do people sometimes try to ban a book knowing that they will fail in order to bring attention to what they see as flaws in the books? For instance, I've heard the Giving Tree has been banned from some schools because of the role of the female tree who gives and gives til the death and is expected to give all. The casual acceptance of this idea and the promotion of the book as a positive role model for children who may then also pull out gender expectations gives some people pause. I see and understand their reservations but I balk at banning the book. (g) I just don't give it as a gift.

100 Most Frequently Challenger Books

What banned books have you read? The ones I've read are in bold.

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel I read these but they were TERRIBLE
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak because the boys penis is shown in the illustrations
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein Maybe, like my Mama they thought it was Flowers in the Attic
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) I read two of them and found them horribly written, unrealistic, and stupid
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis I didn't like this one either, I quit halfway through
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Wow! It looks like I've read a huge number of these books but I read a lot of books so it is probably a reasonable ratio.