Thursday, December 15, 2005

Knitting Karma

Yes folks, that crazy guy wearing the hawaiian shirt and sporting an afro is my husband. Tristan decided to play open-mic night at the Karma Coffee house on the corner of Cahuenga and Selma in Hollywood (in the shopping center with the chinese place--Big Wangs, I kid you not). We got there around 7pm so Tristan could sign up and get a spot--they go fast! There are lots of big comfy couches and leather chairs. I found one by a great table light and pulled out my knitting (what? You didn't think I would spend 3 1/2 hours in coffeehouse without knitting, 11 days before Christmas did you? No, I didn't think so).

I've been to open-mic nights before. Usually there is one or two (or 6--really bad memory) really obnoxious poetry readings from some chic's hello kitty journal, hoping to be the next Jewel. But this was totally different. The performers were so amazing. Really unique, original music sung by people with fantastic voices. Lots of just guys and guitars and a few girls with guitars as well. Oh, and they have a house bongo player too!

There was a performer, Extreme Janine, who changed the lyrics of songs by Al Green, Crystal Waters and Tom Jones to words about loving women and being a lesbian--very funny and upbeat. There was also a guy who called himself the "Minstrels of Decency" and who was (supposedly) a right-wing fundamentalist nutcase but you could see he was just actually making fun of those people!

Then there were several guys with amazing soulful voices who sang wonderfully original heartfelt songs. One guy sang a song he wrote for his Grandfather's 80th birthday called 20th Century Man--I got a bit teary-eyed, really, it was lovely. A friend of a friend performed, Benjamin, and he did a song called Ballad 90, I think, written by a friend of his that gave me chills, 3 times!

Tristan's stuff is a bit different. Well, have you heard of Weird Al? Tristan likes to spoof famous songs--Eric Clapton's classic, Tears in Heaven, becomes "Working at 7-11." He also played an original song he wrote about finals week in college which is very funny. Oh, and he got to be on internet radio. The people who sign up for the 9-10pm slots are broadcast on Internet radio (link on their website, if you ever want to listen). People were yelling, encore, encore when he finished--they didn't yell that for anyone else! I'm so proud!

They have open-mic every Wednesday from 7:30pm-11pm. We might just make this a regular thing--after we get back from visiting my folks in PA for Christmas. Next time, though, I'm gonna drink less coffee. I was nervous for Tristan and that combined with the bazillion cups of coffee I had yesterday made me so shaky that I was having trouble holding on to my cable needle in addition to the two I was knitting with. Oy! Next time I'll stick to herbal tea. But seriously, check it out. It was like a free concert. It's just up Cahuenga from Amoeba Records. Oh, and I knitted about 8 inches of a sweater vest. Success all around.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Coffee contamination! Code Red!

So today I am sitting here sipping a delightful cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee from Quilter's Coffee- a delightful online store with lovely flavored and normal coffees. The beans are so aromatic and oily. The coffee is smooth and divine but lurking beneath the calm brown surface is a history of violent conflict. You see, this coffee is special. It is the first pot brewed in my coffee-making exile. No, no, let me start at the beginning....

As a single woman, I often enjoyed a cup of flavored coffee--delightful aromas of cinnamon and vanilla or mocha and spices would play about my nose. Equally perfect when savored while reading the Sunday paper or slurped from a travel mug as I stood in 20 degree weather waiting for the bus. Then I fell in love and moved in with a man who HATES flavored coffee. HATES it! He is a coffee purist. The beans must be oily and fresh and of course he grounds each pot immediatly before brewing (at least he hasn't made the move to using bottled water in the coffee maker yet--the fancy $80 coffee maker that has its own special water filters in addition to the paper ones, non-bleached natural ones from Trader Joes, that is). However, I continued to make flavored coffee occasionally, usually when he wasn't home and I'd be sure to wash out the pot and the filter basket to remove the evidence.

But 4 years later, I got tired of thoroughly scrubbing the coffee pot after each use just so he can come downstairs and make a pot of "his" coffee an hour later. So one day, one day 3 weeks ago to be exact, I DIDN'T clean the pot. I rinsed and returned. I dumped out the filter and put the filter basket back in the maker with nary a rinse. He made a pot of his coffee a short time later and proclaimed that it was contaminated and that it all tasted like cinnamon. I said, no way could cinnamon survive your double-strength Starbucks crap. But he insisted that it had.

Later that same day he went to Target. He came home with a 4 cup coffee maker and a pack of filters and the rest is history. Should I desire flavored coffee, I must use the little white coffee maker instead of the big fancy silver and black one (it was the reason we bought a silver and black microwave and a silver and black toaster oven--we had to match the coffee maker, just so you know how important it is). I've become so accustomed to making 8 cups of coffee and drinking them myself. Now I make a whole pot in my new coffee maker and it gives me a mug and a half. I suppose I can always make 2 pots....and use the thermal carafe he bought just for that purpose--so that my extra flavored coffee would not sully the "good" carafe that we use so the coffee doesn't get bitter from sitting on the hot plate. No, that carafe is for "regular only, please."

I suppose he sensed that I was feeling like an exiled patriot in a foreign (and smaller) land because yesterday he came home with a bag of coffee, coffee just for me....cinnamon hazelnut.

Well, they say marriage is about compromise, right? Don't get angry, just buy her a damn coffee maker of her own!

Freshly caffeinated, I return to my knitting....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A rolling knitter gathers no moss....

Whew boy, I've been knitting so much I might just need a new shoulder joint for Christmas (you know, like a hip replacement but except in my shoulder). Magellan has been keeping me on task and helping me decipher patterns:

Someone posted a query on the SnB discussion list, asking what they could do with one 250 gram ball of recycled silk. Here's what I did with my recycled silk from the
breast cancer site store--made a scarf in double moss stitch:

Here's my pattern for the scarf which is 5 1/2 inches wide and about 54 inches long:
Using size 8 needles:

CO: 20 sts--I used the cable cast on b/c I think it makes a neater edge
knit 3 rows of garters stitch
beginning 4th row:
Row 4: * K2, P2 repeat to end*
Row 5: * K2, P2 repeat to end*
Row 6: * P2, K2 repeat to end*
Row 7: * P2, K2 repeat to end*

Repeat Rows 4-7 until you are about an inch away from the end and then do 3 rows of garter stitch and bind off. Very simple but it gives just a hint of texture to this shiny yarn.

I also finished a pair of socks that are a birthday present that someone will get at Christmas because I just didn't finish them in time. Don't look too close, I messed up on the cuff. I did one in October, improvising a bit on a pattern I have but then I didn't start the other one until November and I forgot to look at the first one before I started. I followed the ribbing directions in the pattern and ended up with a K1, P1 rib. At around the heel flap, I thought to look at the first sock and, um, realized I had done a K2, P2 rib on the first one--whoops! I was not about to rip out 9 1/2 inches of cabled sock done on #2 needles to fix it! So now the recipient knows which one is for the right foot and which one is for the left...yeah, that's what I'll tell 'em. I used Brown sheep wildfoote in shades of rust, brown and olive. They are big boot socks, heading for a chilly climate. I really should invest in some sock forms....Close up shot of those never-ending cables. ...

Oh, did you notice the photos are better? Well, that's because I got my birthday present early (it's on Friday)--a new Canon Powershot. It's so slim it fits into even my smallest clutch purse (I had to try it--you know, in case I ever go to the opera and want to take pictures). It's gonna take me about a month to figure out how to use all the settings (it has a "foliage" setting and a "beach" setting--this may just be more exciting than the "baked potato" button on my microwave!).

Ok, back to playing with sticks!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Getting to know you...

I got another email survey thingy and I thought I would just share it with all ya'll instead of sending a bunch of copies into cyberspace. Plus you guys may need some distraction at work and reading through this could be just what the doctor ordered.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Blah! definitely hot chocolate--the stuff made from milk, not the water & mix and not the kind with the marshmallows already IN the mix!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Depends when santa finishes knitting them....

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White on both
colored lights on the tree. No lights on the house if you can help it but if you just can't, go with the white and absolutely NO LAWN ORNAMENTS such as that obnoxious blow up snow globe they have at Lowe's

4. Do you hang mistletoe? NO

5. When do you put your decorations up? Day after thanksgiving--need the motivation to finish the gifts

6. What is your favorite Christmas dish (excluding dessert)?
the ham! or maybe the green bean casserole

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child? sitting in front of the fire on christmas morning opening gifts

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
hmm, kindergarten or first grade? The news had on a report that Santa's sleigh had been spotted by their news chopper and I announced I was going to tell everyone at school the next day that santa was on his way. My parents told me to spare the embarassment

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? yes--usually gifts from my grandma but sometimes Tristan can't wait and has to give me at least one!

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
none but I bet he would love an Irish coffee and some snickerdoodles

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
LOVE IT but probably won't see any now that we live in SoCal

12. Can you ice skate? Um, no. Tried it once and ended up in a very unflattering position on the ice

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? the barbie house my dad made for me as a kid

14. What's the most important thing about the Christmas for you? spending time with friends & family, singing Christmas carols (I sing them at home other times of the year but it just isn't appropriate)

15. What is your favorite Christmas Dessert? cookies!!!

16. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? going to midnight service and singing silent night by candle light--gives me goosebumps every year

17. What tops your tree? the saddest angel you have every seen. We need a new one

18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving? GIVING, most definitely. I almost don't care whether I get anything myself, I get so excited about everyone else opening up the gifts I gave them!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? O Holy Night

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? yum--but not the weird pina colada flavored ones or whatever

Ok, your turn...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Too fast, too furious, too flustered?

Only 19 days until Christmas so the needles are a' flyin. I've been mostly working on presents but it seems everytime I see a news story about Toys for Tots or how the survivors of Hurricane Katrina are coping with the coming holidays, I feel the need to do some charity knitting. The piece above is destined for the Pine Ridge Reservation, and hopefully I can finish it in time for it to be a Christmas present at the teen center. I like the orange and yellow tahki cotton classic yarns together and I have some fizzy little yarn to use as fringe at either end that is shades of yellow and orange.

I spent some time yesterday working on the plaid wrap by Annie Modesitt from the Vogue Holiday issue. I just started the third pattern repeat and the wrap has 6 repeats total. But it's going fast and I love the colors. My hope is that I can finish it by like Saturday and then focus my attention on the two sweaters, one sweater vest, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of mittens, a scarf and 9 golf club covers that I need to finish by Christmas. Thank goodness I'm now unemployed. I loaded up the netflix queue with good movies and I'm all set for two weeks of non-stop knitting and crocheting.

I made a few clothsforkatrina this week too. I wanted to try out some crochet patterns (including some free patterns from Drew the crochet dude's site--but I butchered the black round one, turns out I doubled the number of stitches on the last round so it has ruffles, but they're not supposed to be there) and, um, make room for "new stock" that I just ordered. I got a box today from plastic canvas that will be the brim of some newsboy-style hats and sugar n'cream yarn for a birthday present that I will be working on AFTER the holidays. Sugar n cream for only $1.49 a ball, minimum of 6 per color and a one pound cone of white for $10.49. So much fun in a box, don't ya just love it? And the boxes that they use are recycled boxes--they reuse ones from their suppliers to reduce waste!
My birthday is coming up soon and hubby informed me that my present is on its way--a new digital camera so hopefully I can post pictures with actual stitch-definition (and without taking 8 shots just to try and get one decent one!) Tonight I have to work on one final project for school then I plan to spend at least an hour or two on that beaded cardigan.

Congrats also to Tami who has joined the world of blogdom.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Count down to, um, everything?

Laurie, Crazy Aunt Purl, posted an "internets" quiz on her page a few days ago and I've decided to take it since my finals this semester are actually all papers and maybe I have a little lack-of-test anxiety? Anywho...

Ten random things you might not know about me.
1. I hate to throw out coffee left in the pot
2. I will microwave yesterday's coffee and
then promptly forget about it until I go
to microwave something else,
hours later
3. I was once a model in a fashion show at a mall
4. I won a college scholarship from the NRA BUT
I abhore guns (will take their money though...)
5. I can sing "Silent Night" in Japanese
6. I only paint my toenails in "Firehouse Red"
7. I sometimes interrupt myself when I'm speaking
8. I love to straighten-up/clean other people's
houses but hate cleaning my own
9. I want to retire to a cabin on an island off
the coast of Maine and do nothing but knit,
spin yarn and bake zucchini bread while
singing folk songs all the live long day...
10. Sometimes I wish I smoked just to make
conversation with people when I go out "to
get some air" at parties

NINE places I've visited:
1. Monaco
2. Switzerland
3. France--once as a pseudo-chaperone!
4. Belgium
5. The Bahamas
6. Belize
7. Cozumel
8. Hawaii
9. New Orleans--and hope to again someday soon...

EIGHT ways to win my heart:
1. Make me pancakes!
2. Drive me places--I too HATE to drive, Laurie!
3. Vacuum my house
4. join me for an impromptu ice cream run
5. Not laugh at my silk scarf fetish
6. ask me how my cats are doing
7. tell me "I don't mind if you sing along with
the radio"
8. email me silly animal pictures

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1. Visit Angor Wat in Cambodia (I had a dream
about it once)
2. make a baked alaska
3. finish my own wedding quilt (still in squares
and I've been married a year and a half)
4. be someone's doting aunt
5. drink coffee in the original starbucks and
remark, loudly, that the coffee is sooo much
better at the Starbucks around the corner from
my house...
6. make a little vegetable garden where onions and
peppers are verboten
7. Take my dad to Germany and visit as many cuckoo
clock shops as he wants...

SIX things I'm afraid of:
1. earthquakes
2. running out of kitty litter when it's too hot
to leave the house
3. losing my teeth and having to get dentures
4. that my sister might be better at something
than I am
5. that Tristan will die first
6. that Ben & Jerry's will stop making Chunky Monkey

FIVE things I don't like
1. big honking SUVS
2. bigots
3. peppers and onions
4. people who feel it is necessary to own more than
one home when so many people live in cardboard
5. the book Wuthering Heights--only time I ever
resorted to Cliff's notes

FOUR ways to turn me off
1. be bitter and cynical
2. force your religion on me
3. swear in front of children
4. eat veal

THREE Things I do every day
1. Knit (well, I try to)
2. Read a book before bed (at least one chapter)
3. open the fridge at least twice without taking
anything out and I then get a glass of water

TWO things that make me happy:
1. when Tristan makes me "movie popcorn" in
our popcorn popper (even though he knows I'm only
pretending I don't know how to make it myself)
2. going to get the mail--there's always hope that
there will be something great in that little box!

ONE thing on my mind right now:
1. how good does my paper (that's due tomorrow) really have to be to maintain my grade for the class? Should I be working on it or sleeping right now?

Oh and a knitting update:

I found a yahoo group, clothsforkatrina, that is collecting knit and crocheted facecloths/handcloths that they are sending to Hurricane Katrina survivors, along with soap. Since I had some extra Sugar 'n Cream laying around I decided to make one as a "reward" for finishing yet another page of my paper. I used Drew the Crochet Dude's free pattern "sunshine dishcloth" from his blog. Thought I would make yet another forray into crocheting, just for fun. I'll snap a photo tomorrow. Also, I started the daisy mohair cardigan from the Vogue Knitting holiday issue (the picture where the chic is wearing a teal satin dress and a huge black feather hat). I strung 250 black beads onto the Karabella lace mohair and made 2 pattern repeats so far. It looks pretty cool so far (photo tomorrow as well-I'm too tired to get out the camera). Also, saw on the Knitzilla email list that there's a new yarn shop opening up on Franklin in Los Feliz, a block east of Vermont called The Little Knittery. Maybe I'll have to go check that out this week, since I lost my #3 circs and I need them to finish a project.

Maybe I'll just type one more paragraph of that paper before I go to bed since it is almost 4 AM! only 4 more days in the semester, yikes!

Friday, December 02, 2005

In the land where yarn is my slave....

I have spent the past week hard at work on my papers. Or maybe this is just something I tell myself. Because you see, I still have so much more to write but I don't know why because I've spent hours in front of the computer since Monday. Yes, strange things have been happening because suddenly I have three emails from three different websites telling me my orders have shipped, and what, are they all yarn? that I ordered? Why yes, they do appear to be of the fiber persuasion. The furry little beauty below was a free gift from the knitting gods. (Ok, it was a free give-away from mary maxim that I sent away for a few weeks ago). I have no idea what I'm going to do with it--a scarf for charity perhaps? It is brown with gold flecks and furry-eyelashy, not my usual milieu but it was free, n'est ce pas?

I have also decided that I am the Ruler of the Yarn in my stash and I can make it take whatever form pleases me. The form this time: crocheted flowers that will somehow be strung into a 12-flower placement. Yes, I said crocheted. Up until Tuesday, I didn't really do crochet. Oh sure, I did edgings a few times, snuck a few crochet cast-ons on the side but that doesn't make me a crocheter, does it? Well, I decided to expand my skills (and put off yet another paper) and voila, this is the result. Now I just have to finish this one and make, um, 7 more sets of 12? At least it is faster than knitting....
Samantha the (perhaps somewhat evil?) Siamese disapproves. She tells me to get back to my papers. Ok, ok just a few more comments...
Laurie is collecting some toys for her internet friend Haji who is currently in Afghanistan. The soldiers and other people on the military base would like to give toys to the children of the village who have basically nothing. You know you have toys laying around too that you'd love to throw her way. I however, cleaned out all of our stuffed animals before we moved from Boston except for two, which Magellan claimed and now they are constantly covered in happy cat drool. So, I decided to make a pink elephant from the Last Minute Knitted Gifts book. I'm using double-stranded Blue Sky Alpaca (which I got at a 75% off sale, thank you very much). I just need to finish the head and trunk and stuff the little guy with polyester fiberfill (or "flufferfill" as I saw on the Blick art supplies site--isnt' that a funny word? I keep saying it over and over again...)
Ok, ok, Samantha, geesh, I'll get back to the darn paper (hate to swear too much in front of her, she is only 12, you know). At least after Dec 8th I'll have nothing to do except knit up the Christmas presents because I quit my job this week and my papers and the semester will be over!