Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let them eat...


I started my first sock!

I ordered takeout for the gang because none of them responded to my Mother's Day idea. Besides, I wanted Wednesday to be an adventure day for me since I crapped out on Nano Write, I thought I would try something else extremely different. True knitting isn't exactly something new for me but socks are. I've done booties before but I don't remember ever doing an adult sock. Why did I wait so long? First, I've seen all of you crazy sock knitters out there who buy zillion dollar sock yarn in dozen lots and stand on line for hours at sheep festivals in order to buy some (read Iris). Second, I know my will power limitations and just like with spinning and dyeing, I didn't want to succumb!

Beatriz over on Gauche Knits has been featuring her sock exploits and has been tempting me with some easy pattern ideas. Then Lynn, over on Never A Dull Moment shows off hers. Still, I was a bit unsure about the technique so I found this great online tutorial called Silver's Sock Class. Look how far I got -

Yes, that is a heel flap, and I have you know, that I did the turned heel! The only problem is I don't like this yarn... Aw geez, I'm sounding like you sockers already! Got any sock yarn ideas?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The last of the leftovers

On Monday I managed to scrape together just enough leftovers to make a meal. I nearly had a mutiny on my hands, they wanted something different, the nerve. They got yams, collards, a little bit of mac and cheese and potato salad - the meats were gone on Sunday. It tasted great to me - what's their problem, I even served it up on the good china!

Yesterday, on Tuesday I spent the day at the orthopedist with the former crip tonight son. He finally got that ball and chain removed and is now scheduled for 2 weeks of physical therapy.

This is how he looked moments before the verdict. He was really worried.

Tis the Season...
There are a million and one craft fairs going on all over and I want to go to everyone of them. What's even cooler is when you know some of the crafters! I bought this pretty vase from my friend Bina, it's just perfect for my needles.

And, I'm still crafting myself, that is doing something a little different than my usual knitted garmet stuff. This is my second cupcake. I hope to get a few of these finished to give as gifts this Christmas.

And then there's dance

Alvin Ailey's holiday season has started, I love, love, love it! This is a poster from a previous season. The 2006 season is at New York City Center, November 29 - December 31, 2006. Run and dance on over!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunday after Thanksgiving should be ...

I don't know about you all but by Sunday, I'm sooo tired I can't even think. So, I'm gonna make a huge suggestion here and I know a lot of you are true traditionalists and won't like it. But, I feel really strongly about this and I kinda really need something to happen for me by Sunday sooooo - I move that the Sunday after Thanksgiving (today, November 26), be MOTHER'S DAY. That's right, I've said it. I want it to be mother's day, I need it to be mother's day. Do you know what my son asked me tonight, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, "What's for dinner?" Why? How can his belly require any more nourishment after the debauchery on Thursday and the subsequent OD'ing on deserts on Friday morning?? What's for dinner, really. I may not cook for a week, at least until someone cleans that susie bake oven of mine!

This would be what today, MOTHER'S DAY, could be like -

Well, maybe not...

Cast on, Cast off

Nope, no knitting here, just more ways to keep me from it!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quiet before the storm

On Wednesday, before Thanksgiving day, I try to find some quiet time to get my head together for the cooking marathon. I have an average size stove, fine if you cook on occasion - I cook all the time. And, for special occasions I'm at it all day and night because only 1 thing can go into the stove at a time. Check this out:

Turkey: 4 hours
Ham: 3 hours
Mac and cheese: 45 minutes
Apple Pies: 1 hour
Pumpkin Pies: 45 minutes
Cake: 1 hour 30 minutes
Candied Yams: 30 minutes
Banana Pudding: 15 minutes
Yeast Rolls: 30 minutes
Corn bread: 45 minutes

Stove top with (4 burners going)
Collard greens: 2 hours
String beans: 45 minutes
Boiling yams: 1 hour
Boiling potatoes: 45 minutes
Boiling macaroni: 45 minutes
Custard for banana pudding: 45 minutes
Rice and peas: 1 hour
Plantains: 30 minutes
Sauted veggies: 30 minutes
Sauted sausage: 30 minutes
...and the list goes on and on

You don't have to be math whiz to figure out the time involved. There simply isn't enough time in the day to do all of the switcharoos with the oven. Next year, if I do nothing else, I'm getting a new stove. It is insane to live in a house with 4 men and have to cook for them with a jive susie bake oven!

Well, back to my meditation project. I decided to try out the cupcakes in the One Skein book. No cooking these beauties and they look so yummy.

Making the base was really easy. You can pick any yarn from your stash.

That's some fiber fill that you stuff inside the base before you assemble the top.

I found some sweet buttons that I sewed on (yes, I used a needle and thread!). Good enough to eat!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Hairstory and a Tag

Crazy Aunt Pearl has decreed this week hairstory week. I don't have many pictures that are available to show but I do have a few

I'm the bug eyed girl with ponytails, I may have been 9 or 10. Those are my goofy twin brothers (who are now both like maybe 6'4"), and my cousins. My mother and older sister still whine about the travails of doing my hair. I don't have this problem with 3 boys!

Yes, that's me at 20 something. Oh, gosh, who ever said youth was wasted on the young has really described my life! If I knew what I know now and have now what I had then....

That's me and hubby in North Africa. I was 30 years old and was having a seriously bad hair day even though I can say with confidence that I looked better than the camel!

I've been Tagged!

I have been tagged by Deb. The rules; list seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether or not they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to. These are my current favorites:

I can't possible do only 7 songs! I've increased mine to 10 but you can do just 7.

When You Wish Upon a Star: Wynton Marsalis
Umi Says: Mos Def
The Creator has a Master Plan: Brooklyn Funk Essentials
Stimela: Hugh Masekela
Sideways: Santana
My Favorite Things: Kathleen Battle and Al Jerreau
Dairy: Alicia Keys
Le Boheme Act I O Soave Fanciulla: Andrea Bocelli
1 Thing: Amerie
With God on Our Side: Bob Dylan
More Than A Felling: Boston
Seasons of Love - Soundtrack from Rent
Papillon - Chaka Khan (I can't help myself, I keep adding more...)

Yea, I know that's 13, I can count!

Now I'm tagging:

Barbara - Knitting On Fire
Beatriz - Gauche Knits
Stephanie - Sharky Purl
Del - Cozys Place
Dana - Knitting Aloud
Nickie - Lofty Perches
Patricia - Pischi Days

A Three Stage Rose

Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekend Update

This picture is the culmination of my month long sojourn to Princeton each Tuesday to take my son to jazz choir rehearsal. The Choir had their final performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. While the concert was wonderful, it was a harrowing day for me. I had to pick him up from Rutgers University in New Brunswick where he was attending Model UN, take him to the concert hall in Newark for sound check, drive home to Ridgewood to pick up the crippled son, change, and speed back to Newark for the concert... Er, no, I didn't speed, I drove 55 mph all the way. (I still have to wait for my court date on those tickets, I'll keep you posted.)

Who says you can't knit in the dark?
I was able to get some knitting done while sitting around waiting for the show to start. I've completed 3 sets of Fetching mitts so far. I'm on a roll!

That Truffle bag
I was able to start on that Truffle bag I told you all about a ways back. This was the hardest part (not including the lining that my girl Phyllis promises to help me with), the rest is done in garter stitch.

Holiday Facecloths
I'm still churning out a facecloth every now and again. This one is from the November KAl over on the Yahoo Monthly Dishcloth KAL group.

The cripple one all scrubbed up
Jonathan attended a formal teenage party this weekend. I can't believe I got him out of his basketball gear!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Knitting book candy

by Kaffee Fassett and Zoe Hunt

I found this book during one of my book hunts in Princeton. It is truly one of the most beautiful knitting books I've ever seen. The sweaters are a parade of color and design. What was equally alluring were the pictures of the people. Different people than who are usually featured together. If for nothing more than the people gathered together for this photo shoot wearing such spectacular sweaters I would keep the book. It is such a special book that I feel guilty about having it knowing that I won't be making any of these beautiful sweaters anytime soon. I'm thinking about passing it along on the Destash site I'm a member of. I know many of the knitters over there would love to jump right in and make a few dozen of these before the year is out.

What do you think? Should I keep it?

A Fetching Phase

I was looking for holiday gift ideas that fell into the "quick, ornate, and easy" category and I realized that Fetching, Cheryl Niamath's clever fingerless gloves featured on Knitty, was perfect. I just finished a pair with the leftover yarn from the Briar Rose poncho.

Fetching is a perfect holiday idea because it takes very little yarn; it can be adapted to just about any yarn (for all of you one skein stashers); you can add or take away any fussy cables and you can attach embellishments like beads and buttons. I just finished one mitt done with Rowan's Cashsoft DK, I have to do the thumb still. That's another thing, you can skip the thumb if you want - even faster!

Here are a few skeins for future Fetchings

What would be my dream pair? This stuff

Believe it or not I bought several skeins 2 years ago to make the Scarf Style's cabled felted scarf. I've been too chicken to try it, afraid I'd screw up the felting part. Maybe I'll just make cushy mitts with them. You'll know who my giftees are by the way they walk around touching their faces!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Knit Mitt Kit Swap

Ok yall, another questionnaire for another swap.

Are you allergic to any fibers? No just don't like scratchy stuff unless I'm going to felt it
What are your favorite colors? I have color ADD, right now I like earth tones.

Are you a new mitt knitter? How long have you been knitting mittens? I am brand spanking new!

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? I have no preference

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn? The softa the betta

Where do you usually knit mittens? Wherever there's bright light

How do you usually carry/store small projects? In every nook and cranny in my home, purse and person

What are your favorite mitten patterns? I've not tried them all but I've done a bunch of fingerless ones

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques? Can't rightly say but I think if I spent more time around a mitten knitter I'd be less confused about those fingers.

What new techniques would you like to try? I'd like to try knitting something other than thumbs

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens? I've only used double pointed ones when done in the round

What are some of your favorite yarns? Alpaca and alpaca wool blends

What yarn do you totally covet? Right now it's this Briar Rose fiber

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? I do adore Fetching but a long cashmere cabled lovely would be yummy

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? bamboo is good

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? I'm still stuck figuring out who I really am

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? Believe it or not I try not to snack - I can't stop so I try never to start

What’s your favorite animal? I love dogs but I'm allergic to them

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts? Anything my swap buddy wants to do

If you were a color what color would you be?
the color of water, just to know what that's like in a world full of color

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature?
Can't decide I love it all including sound and smell, taste and touch

Do you have a wishlist?
Yes, I'd like more stuff for my Denise Needles
Anything else you’d like to share with the group today? I enjoy swaps for the mystery and the uniqueness of the sender. If I get something I don't like or nothing at all, I think that's part of the mystery!

Knitters Coffee Swap questionnaire

I'm being scolded for being late with posting my questionnaire. This is for one of my swaps where we'll be swapping knitting stuff and coffee. Sounds like fun right? Should be a high octane blast!

I've edited this post to include a little commentary on my favorite coffee mug -

I've had this mug for over 10 years and it was in pristine condition, even with everyday use. I love this mug. I bought it from a small boutique in West Orange. It features some folk scenes of farm children playing with animals. I've seen the exact same motif on needlepoint tablecloths in Jamaica 25 years ago (that I bought but don't know where in the world they've disappeared to during our zillion and one moves from New York City apartments and then to suburbia). When I saw the mug, I only had $50 dollars on me at the time and I could only buy one. Every time I wanted to go back and buy more, something came up and well, that's the brief explanation as to why I only have one.

Yesterday, I don't know how, but something dropped from the cupboard and hit my precious mug and chipped it! So I am now faced with accepting that my favorite mug will have to be retired to the statuette shelf.

So, there you have it. Back to the regularly scheduled program...

1. Whole bean or ground? Either one, I own a noisy mill
2. Fully-loaded or decaf? Fully loaded or I'd drink tea
3. Regular or flavored? Regular, can't get into coffee as milkshake
4. How do you drink your coffee? Hot, light and sweet - sounds like a metaphor, right?
5. Favorite coffee ever? Jamaican Blue Mountain, fogettaboutit - can't afford it now
6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do? I don't know why, but supermarket coffee makes me gag
7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? time and solitude
8. Anything else about your coffee preferences? I also enjoy the mug it goes into
9. What treats do you enjoy with your coffee? See # 7
10. Yarn/fiber you love? Anything soft
11. Yarn/fiber you hate? Scratchy yarn unless I'm felting it
12. What's on your needles? Afghan, sweater, hats, facecloths, scarves... you get the idea
13. Favorite colors? I have color ADD, today it's nature tones
14. Allergies? Cats, sorry I still love them
15. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? I enjoy swapping but I don't enjoy whiney swappers - it's a crap shoot yall, if you get crap or no crap at all, join another swap! Part of the fun is the known unknown (sorry wrong quote, by a really wrong guy!)

A short post before a hectic day

I think I got 3 hours sleep last night. This change of life thing is getting old now. I do weird things in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, exhibit A

I think I made a thousand dozen of these for my garden club meeting today that I can't attend because I'll be taking my youngest son to the orthopedist to hopefully get him out of that cast. Do you know that there are no orthopedists in Bergen County, New Jersey in my medical plan?? No you wouldn't know that and one day, when I'm more rested and less irritated about the state of health care in this country, I'll expand on that.

I'm also doing those fetching fingerless mittens featured on Kitty. I used the left over yarn from my Briar Rose poncho so I had to do some modifications starting with using size 2 needles. I also had to add some Brown Sheep Handpaint yarn that I had in my stash just in case I didn't have enough of the main colorway from the poncho.

One down, one to go.

My pal, Phyllis, helped me to sew up the poncho using a mattress stitch. I didn't know how to do that before (i'm pretty clueless with anything to do with sewing). I had used a crochet hook which caused this thick keloid looking seam to run down the side of my beautiful poncho. Karen, who works at my LYS, knew exactly what I had done, I know she was thinking, "why don't these ladies make the time to take a finishing class?"

I'm indebted, again, to Phyllis - that girl got skillz!

Monday, November 13, 2006

A very random post

I had a very busy weekend. Here in New Jersey, November 9 and 10 was the Teacher's Convention weekend and the children were all off school. It was also my oldest son's debut with the New Jersey Honors Jazz Choir at Trump Casino. Have you ever been to the casinos at Atlantic City? For me it was like being stuck in a Hunter Thompson script. I'll say no more.

Here are some random pictures of what I've been up to.

I made my first ATC! What's an ATC. Over on swap-bot I learned about these precious little art trading cards (ATC) that crafters and artist make to swap. They are only 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 in size and can be anything - mixed media (like mine above), paintings, collages, etc. You can read more about them here.

Also on swap-bot, I did a book list exchange project. The object was to recommend 10 of your favorite books and write a brief description. For me, reading a good book is only part of the fun, there is also something tangible about the experience and I tried to capture that with presenting my list as an art project

Yeah, I know the pictures kinda suck. I should take a photo course to find out how to eliminate glare with digital cameras.

I hit the jackpot at one of my son's basketball games. In the next hall was an old fashion flea market! There was so much stuff! I love miniatures. I bought the thimbles and some of the shoes. I may have paid 50 cents each.

No, I did not buy any these -

I just thought it was a fun photo.

Oh yeah, a couple of weekends ago, I went to the Natural History Museum in New York City. My son wanted to see the lizard exhibit. I bought my Karabella silk scarf to finish and here she is stretched out with a bronze snake.

The same son who sings is also in a theatre program with his High School. They do some very amazing productions. This was a recent. Not only has my son learned all about acting with this program, he has learned about lighting, wardrobe, set design - he can now use a power drill!

Lastly, I made some rolls to go with a spaghetti dinner. Have you ever tried making your own yeast rolls? Come on, it's worth a try even just once.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Back to Reality

I've been struggling with this post in more ways than one. First, blogger has given me a fit about uploading any pictures and second, well, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to violate one of the rules I made for myself when I started the blog in August. What's the rule? To avoid talking politics and race - two totally unavoidable pain in the ass realities that confront me everyday. My blog would be a place where I could perhaps talk about the aesthetics of life and all of its beauty. Yeah right. Sometimes though, things happen that make the point that in order to fully appreciate beauty, sometimes, it's important to understand its antecedent, that is, what is going on the in life of the artist that makes their art more triumphant. Please, I'm no artist, I knit, I cook a little but I do see art in just about everything except crap like this -

I got to collect these one evening on the infamous Garden State Parkway.

I was returning home with my oldest son from music rehearsal in Princeton. Remember he was selected to sing with the NJ Jazz Choir. Each Tuesday, I drove him down (a 1 1/2 hour drive each way) after school and hung out in Princeton for 4 hours. I got to do some crazy knitting, browse through great book stores and eat lots of ice cream.

Returning home from the last rehearsal, at around Clifton, NJ, I get pulled over by a NJ State Trooper. As I await my sentence, I notice that there is not one cruiser but 3 lined up behind me. In all of the years that I have been traveling in New Jersey, I have never had this experience before. I read about it too many times - about the legions of black people who have met their demise by the hands of these troopers - thrown in jail, property seized, sometimes death....

My mind was fighting reality, intellect and emotion. There was that time I was caught in a freak snow storm nearly 10 years ago on the Garden State Parkway and I was praying to see troopers. There were so many accidents and it was freezing outside. I got to my destination in 5 hours in what was a 2 hour drive and I felt guilty that I couldn't help the dozens of accidents I passed. I was grateful that we lived in a society that provided assistance just for the asking - EMS and troopers.

Back to reality, the trooper comes to my window and one of the three cruisers drives up to block me in. I have a 17 year old boy with me, in dreadlocks. He is asking me a million questions while seething and I tell him that this was a good experience for him so that he will know how this whole thing goes down and he'll know exactly how to behave if it should happen to him. My child was enraged at the notion that he got to see his mother humiliate herself in order to keep her car, keep her freedom, keep her life. Yeah I know what you all are thinking, it's just a traffic stop. No, it is never just a traffic stop in the reality of the lives of black people.

The trooper comes to my window after maybe 10-15 minutes. He's flashing his flashlight throughout the van while another trooper at my son's window is keeping an eye on him with her (I think it was a 'her') flashlight.

"You cut me off." Trooper 1

"Officer, I was at a dilemma. I was in the passing lane to avoid someone who was driving too close to me and I was merely trying to pass into your lane, grateful to have seen you, just in case the guy on my tail decides to follow me. My dilemma was what to do, do I speed up to 65 in order to pass into your lane at a better distance or do I pass into your lane at 60 MPH, just 5 miles above the speed limit?"

"You could have caused an accident." Trooper 1

"You? I could have caused you to have an accident?" I'm thinking what crap that is, these guys know how to drive like stunt men, this guy is pissed that I cut him off.

I decide not to argue and pray that my son stays quiet too. One half hour later, I get three tickets -

Ticket one: Hazardous driving (interpreted to mean - cutting off cruiser)
Ticket two: Failing to produce registration (I was so nervous about getting pulled over - and knowing that they don't have the best reputation for safety for people who look like me and my son, I can't find the damn registration)
Ticket tree: Not having an updated inspection sticker (yup, he was right on that one. Getting the van inspected slipped my mind after having paid $1500 for new breaks and a heater - I had such sticker shock that day that I totally forgot the inspection)

Before the trooper turns to leave, I ask him -

"Officer, I have a young son here just learning to drive. How would you advise me to tell him what happened here?"

"Speed limit is 55, you don't cut people off."

Wow, that was helpful.

I will be going to court. I ask you, who in their right mind would cut off a NJ State Trooper? The question I have for the judge - "why would a black, 47 year old mother of 3 driving with her dreadlocked 17 year old son pick 9pm at night to do such a thing? Didn't the trooper know I had visions of this dancing in my head all the way home -

My Rhinebeck poncho that I bought at Briar Rose yarns. Alpaca and wool. Delicious.