Sunday, November 9, 2014

Halloween (A Little Late)

I love Halloween.  I've never been very good at costumes so it wasn't really about dressing up for me.  There was a bad incident when I was about 12 when I decided to dress up as Medusa.  I had a crazy wig, some sort of toga and a pair of really slippery little weird wicker slippers.  Yes, I said wicker.  Yes, I said slippery.  Yes, I said weird wig.  Yes, I said toga.  Yes, I landed flat on my can running on wet leaves.  And why the hell didn't anyone stop me.  I could have just been a ghost and not be still taking crap from my sister about that epic wipe out.

But today I want to tell you two really good Halloween stories. 

When I was very little--maybe 4 or 5--my mother dressed me up as a black cat for Halloween.  I had on a black leotard, black tights, black ballet slippers and a tail that my mom made from a black stocking, some cotton and an unbent wire coat hanger.  But the best part of the costume was my mask.  It just covered my eyes and it came up to what I believed were very dramatic points at the corners.  I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. 

And I lost it.

About half way through trick or treating (we lived in a really good apartment building for trick or treating), I realized I didn't have my mask on any more.  It wasn't in my candy bag and I couldn't find it anywhere.  Naturally, I started crying.  And naturally, I kept on trick or treating.  I knocked on every door--weeping--and every mom handing out candy I asked my why I was crying.  And I had to explain to them through my sobs that I had lost my mask and now no one would know that I was a black cat.  And they all laughed at me.  LAUGHED!!!

And then we got to the last apartment at the end of the first floor and my poor little heart just broke.  The mom there was my favorite.  She was so pretty and so nice and I just adored her.  She had the perfect pageboy hairdo which she achieved by pulling it up in a really high pony tail and rolling it onto one huge curler (which I still do to try to calm my hair down), she had two kids who were a little older than me but were really, really nice and she had a rug that had games on it.  I'm not sure what her husband did for a living but I do know that somehow we all got really nice, cozy bathrobes from him.  And now my costume was ruined and I couldn't stop crying and I just couldn't get my act together.

But I wasn't giving up on the trick or treating so I rang the bell and there she was.  With a big bowl of candy.  And the perfect pageboy.  She bent down to eye level and asked me why I was crying and I managed to choke out my tail of woe.  And she put the candy bowl down, moved my mask from the top of my head back onto my face, gave me a little kiss and sent me on my way.

Obviously, more than 40 years later, I have never gotten over this.  Ever.  It is the first time I remember an actual act of kindness.  Especially since all of the other moms clearly saw my mask on my head which would explain why they found it funny.

So I try to make Halloween fun at my house.  I answer the door with a meat cleaver.  I pretend I'm going to give them tea bags (and you will be amazed at how many kids are okay with that).  I talk to the kids and their parents and look forward to catching up with them every year.  There are several families who know that they can use the bathroom or grab a soda or bottle of water for a needy kid at my house.

Last year, one of my neighbors came with her daughter and grandkids and one of the little boys and I had a great conversation about Take 5 candy bars.  If you don't know about them, go out and get yourself some.  They are awesome. 

This year, we had a whopping four groups of trick or treaters come to our door.  I was disappointed and almost left to go to Pat (of the tomatoes) house where she gets tons of them.  And then the doorbell rang.  And it was the kid from last year with his family.  And he was so excited.  He told me how glad he was that I was home and that he had been telling his friends at school about the lady who taught him about Take 5 bars.  I had Twizzlers this year but I broke out the private stash for this kid. 

I really hope that he remembers me as an adult as happily as I remember the woman at the end of the hall and that he grows up to have the best Halloween house. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

To Swatch or Not to Swatch

Lately I've been swatching.  Actually, I've been swatching a lot.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, my friend BadCat's book New Vintage Lace has arrived in a store near you.  The book is full of beautiful patterns but the real value in it is the story of her process.  Next, I have some wonderful yarns that I have no idea what they're going to do once they're knit.  So between the book and the fibers, the stars have aligned for a whole lot of swatching.  By the way, I do consider starting a sweater sleeve as the most useful type of swatch there is.  

I've had a cone (or two) of  a very wooly heavy fingering-ish weight yarn that I bought in Vermont at Six Loose Ladies.  It's a local yarn from somewhere in Ascutney.  I was drawn to it by the color--it's a really pretty tweedy raspberry--but once I saw where it was from, I knew it had to come home with me.  I have a good friend who is from a small town near Ascutney and I learned how to ski many years ago at Mt. Ascutney.  Such happy memories had to join my stash.  

I've been looking at it for a while trying to figure out what to do with it and finally settled on a Honey Cowl.    So I swatched.  I cast on with US 8 needles and then gave it a really good wash.

I love the way it looks and the squishiness of it but have been concerned that it may too scratchy.  I am not particularly sensitive to wool's itchiness so I think it's okay but to make sure I have been carrying the swatch around with me and rubbing it on my cheek or wrist every chance I get.  I may just go for it.  Or not.  Who knows?  I'm fickle.

I've also been trying to get my studio dining room table organized.  This pile of sock yarn ends will be wound and bagged as soon as I finish this post.  There's something so satisfying about tidy little buns of yarn.

There are suddenly lots of babies in the wind here in the Y.O. so once these are in order, they'll become little socks to keep tiny toes cozy and warm

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Very Soxy

It's too hot to knit anything but socks.  I have this lovely pile of single socks that has been staring at me, tears of loneliness running down their pretty little gussets.  But alas, they are all still single.

Yes, the second sock for all of them on are on the needles and are all getting done but this one in particular needs to be finished. 

It's my basic sock pattern.  Nothing fancy at all, just a good solid sock that I think will look particularly nice with clogs.  I swear to you the ball band was here 10 seconds ago.  (I just actually noticed that you can see the ball band in the upper right hand corner of the picture.  Proof!)  I got up to get something to drink and now it's gone.  Dagnabit!

This one in particular needs to get off the needles fast because those needles need to start knitting on this.

Isn't she a beauty?  It's Colinette Jitterbug in the Lichen 76 colorway. I'm in love with it.

I'm also in love with those Signature needles that my mother bought me for Christmas.  Really, how did I ever live without them?  Oh wait, I know.  I had to pay for things like food and the mortgage.  They are so shiny and pretty, not to mention their lethal points.  I call them my knitting blades.  

All of these are going into a bag for my sister.  (It's too hot to wear them right now.) A few years back I knit her a pair of socks and it seems I've created a monster.  Really, though, there are far worse things that could happen.  I like to knit socks, she likes to wear the socks that I knit.  I see it as a win/win situation.  And if I stock pile them, I get to give her a pile of them which I think will be very pretty.

As an added bonus, she and I have very different palettes.  She wears a lot of orange, yellow and lime green.  Even her purples and blues are somehow more on the autumn side.  I, on the other hand, go for very saturated, clear colors.  Just wait till you see the yarn I got to make myself a pair of socks--it's practically breathing it is so rich.  But that little skein is also waiting for the Signature needles so I'm not going to torture myself.

I think I'll go wind that Colinette to take the edge off.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Interdependence Day--A Day Late

A few years back, I declared July 5th Interdependence Day.  Although I did celebrate, I never actually got around to posting about it.  So here we go!

Here's what I am think this year for my Interdependence Day resolution (you all make those, right?).   We all need to to stop hiding our light.  I was raised Catholic.  Although I rarely practice anymore, I am still pretty much in line with the basic dogma.  I've just had big problems with the administration and the interpretation of that dogma.  Lately I've been thinking about the whole "don't tell anyone about your good deeds" thing and I have decided to cry bullshit on it. 

We must be kind to each other and we absolutely must tell other people about it.  We have to sing it to the mountaintops and act as we would like others to act toward us.  And everyone else should see us do it--not to make them feel bad or for us to feel that we are somehow better--but to show people what the lingering consequences are of kindness.  Our world as individuals becomes a better place when we are kind and our society cannot exist without the experience of individuals. 

So go out.  Do something nice.  Tell people what you did. Repeat.  Oh, and by the way, when people start doing kind things for you (which I am quite certain that they already have, we've just been programmed not to notice it) make sure you sing their song loud and proud as well.

Here are 10 easy things to do that won't cost you anything (or much):

1.  Hold the door.
2.  Hold the elevator (that's a biggie for me).
3.  Greet people, even strangers, when you see them. 
4.  Beep and wave when you pass a friend (or even an acquaintance) on the street.
5.  Compliment a stranger (but only if it is genuine).
6.  Talk to a child.  And I mean really talk.  Ask them what their favorite book is.  Show them something cool.  Whatever.  Don't just tell them their cute.  Cute fades.  Nice doesn't.
7.  Change the litter box without having to be told 20 times (maybe that's just me).
8.  Give blood.  It's so easy and they give you cookies when you are done.
9.  Give up your seat on the bus or train for someone who needs it.  Or let someone get into your lane at a toll.
10.  The next time you're grabbing a cup of coffee at the deli, and you have an extra buck, ask the counter person to charge you for two.  Then tell them that is up to them to decide who gets a free cup of coffee. 

I'm sure you can come up with dozens more. 

Go!  Now!  Shine your light!

P.S.  Number 11 was going to be "Teach someone to knit".