Friday, July 22, 2005

End of a Blog

I don't want to stop blogging, but I fear the knitting blog has run it's course. As my mother said to me yesterday, I have a very strong way of expressing my convictions. For some reason this doesn't seem to translate well to a knitting blog.

I started blogging only because I wanted to join a group that required a blog – of course it was a knitting group. I never imagined how much I would enjoy it. Well, and also how annoying it would be.

I have talked to a few people about the latest blog issue I've been having, and even after listening very carefully I still do not understand why otherwise sane people would get so incredibly angry with me. About a book for children no less.

So I'm moving my blog. I'm not stopping, I'm not cutting people off, but I am moving. Mainly because I think "Phoenix Knitter" is a limiting title. You are all welcome to follow me over there as long as you are an adult (sorry Mary) and don't mind reading strong opinions that you may possibly disagree with every now and again. If you are easily offended or you just don't want to know what I really think, perhaps it's not the place for you.

So my new blog is going to be all about living in Phoenix. I am native Arizonan and have lived in New York and Northern California. Now I'm back and my little city-that-could is actually trying to become something, hopefully something great. Since I am never allowed to leave again (I think Jack's grandmothers would set up road blocks if we tried to move him out of the state), I am going to provide commentary on the changes impacting my permanent residence.

So thank you all for visiting Phoenix Knitter. I hope to see you at Phoenista sometime soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NAW is back!

Not to detract from all the fun we're having beating to death the relative merit of a children's story, but news is news. Mr. Now A Warning is back, maybe only temporarily, but at least he's posted so you can all know he's alive and stop asking me.

I've decided I need to find a job where I can get paid to make people angry, hurt and upset all the time since I do it so well here. Maybe I should go to law school.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jeez Louize

Kim called me today to fill me in on why everyone is so wildly angry about my Harry Potter post. She says people are reading into it that I'm saying "If you like Harry Potter you are stupid." I am NOT saying that at all. I watch reality TV and read Stephen King – I don't think people are dumb for liking bad stuff.

When it comes to Harry Potter, I feel the reading public treats these books like something wonderful and great instead of what they are - plot-driven children’s books. It just makes me sad that caring about good writing makes me a snob. (or an elitist, depending upon which comment you agree with more.) I care that published authors and their editors don’t take the time to improve upon the writing at least enough so you don't cringe as you're reading. But the truth is they don't have to - the books will sell even if the writing is mediocre, even if there are glaring errors in syntax, even if the sentences don’t exactly flow.

Yes I am glad children are reading. But what are they going to read in between these extravaganzas put on by the publisher to sell more books? Perhaps some Sweet Valley High?

I don't have a lot of favorites when it comes to Children's Literature, but since Mrs. R asked I would highly recommend CS Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. And I don't know if it's still the case, but I remember the Newberry Medal at least would single out one book a year that was usually good. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor are two that stood out for me as a child. Oh, and of course Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan – all by EB White.

Paula had a good point about writers being too in love with their prose to get to the story. This is often a problem in serious contemporary "literature" these days (I blame over-workshopping in the MFA programs that have appeared at practically every university in the country). It's all about balance, and I think Rowling misses the balance by a long shot, albeit on the other end of the spectrum.

Like any art, writing is up for interpretation. If I wrote here "I think the Mona Lisa is rubbish, it doesn't deserve the wall space" would you all still freak out on me? I don't think so. So everyone simmer back down and stop being so angry. I still hate the books and probably won't read them until I have to read them to Jack. Then we'll see if I change my tune.

(And Jen, I was actually shocked at the response I got to this. I did expect some controversy regarding my divorce with kids post considering the divorce rate in our country and I was looking forward to hearing different perspectives. Oh well, I guess I didn't quite understand the Harry Potter zeal had reached such a fevered pitch.)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Potter Schmotter

I am proud to say I have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie. Why am I proud? Because I think the writing is rubbish. I don't think Rowling cares about word selection or sentence structure one iota, and I can't bear a writer who takes her craft so lightly. (My mom had the first book, I read the first chapter, that is the extent of my knowledge of the topic.) Yes, it is supposed to be for children, and yes, everyone in America loves it so it must be good. I am just disappointed that people have such low thresholds for literature these days. It's all about the plot – nothing else matters as long as you can keep people on the edge of their seats, right? Plot plot plot. And will it make a good movie? Can I sell the screenplay? Will Americans salivate and line up to buy the sequel?

I feel the same way about the book "Wicked". When did we become so lackadaisical about books? We just devour all the junk in the world without a care. I hate to sound like a snob, but I just wish that people would take a step back and think while they are reading.

On the knitting front, I have to rip out my second blue sock. For some reason I have a disease that makes me forget what type of cast-on method I used for the first sock and apply it to the second. So I will be ripping out and restarting. But for now I'm doing a little more work on Ribby Shell. The pattern measurements seem a little long – for the size I'm knitting you are supposed to knit 14 inches from the cast-on edge. I don't think I want it to be that long so I'm probably one going to knit 12 ½. I know I am short so this might be part of the problem. I even measure some shirts I like to see how long they are from armhole to waist and they all came out at 12 inches.

I don't usually cross post my pictures from my baby blog, but this shot is worth sharing. It is my six year old nephew who lives in Colorado.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

another finished sock

blue sock

I am obsessed with those stupid footie socks. I stayed up past 11 Friday night working on the next one. I think about them when I sleep. I want to knit the world a pair of socks. It’s insane.

I was talking to a friend this week about her relationship. Now, those of you who know me are probably used to hearing me say “Dump him, he’s a loser, he’s not that into you, etc, etc, etc.” However that all changes once a child is born. If you have a child with someone you are bound to them for life. Period. Even if you’re bored or tired or angry. Really in my opinion the only exception is abuse. (Oddly, women who are abused are more likely to stick around and let their kids get beat up on, but that’s another story).

I know marriage is hard, I know it’s not always the sunshine and roses we expected when we walked down the aisle. But what I told my friend and what I tell you all now is this. It isn’t about you. Look in the mirror and say it with me. “It’s not about me.” The only thing that matters is the health and happiness of your child.

But I never let people off easily (including myself if it makes any difference.) You can’t just “stay together for the children” either. You have to work. You have to look across the kitchen table and find something you love about that man every single day of your life. You obviously loved him at some point or the child would not be around, right?

He’s a loser? Whip him into shape. He’s not interesting? Maybe you’re the one who’s not really interesting. He’s not the man you married? Honey, let me tell you, you’re nowhere near the woman he married.

Children are better off with happy parents in a strong and healthy relationship. You decide to have that strong and healthy relationship, no one else can decide it for you. But please, for the love of all that is good in this world, take a step back out of your selfishness and try to make things work.

Lecture is officially over.

Now on to the discussion of the weather. You know how all of you in Canada were complaining a few months back about snow and ice and storms and misery? We were laughing at you, basking in our sunshiney winter, growing vegetables and lying by the pool. We are paying dearly for it now.

Phoenix has odd weather, really. It’s not too bad until right before the monsoon, and then it’s as if Mother Nature has decided she doesn’t like cookie dough ice cream anymore, she likes burnt cookies and she likes them all day long. (we, the residents of Phoenix, are the blobs of cookie dough in this scenario, in case that wasn’t clear.)

After a few days of temperatures above 110, we are all miserable, cranky and mad about the weather. We don’t want to leave the house. It’s even too hot to go swimming. And then the storms start.

Of course they don’t start with rain – that would be too nice a break. They start with wind that seems as if a giant hairdryer was pointed on your house at high speed. This is what happened in our yard, shortly before the electricity went out:

storm 2

storm 1

Yes, that is our tree. Broken. But still no rain, nothing to cool off this miserable city.

Luckily Jeff came to dinner tonight. We had to eat in the living room because the dining room is about 20 degrees warmer. I set up a card table with all the cute stuff we bought from his garage sale and Joe made baked ziti. Except the power went out, so we ordered pizza. Then the power came back on so we had both! Here we all are, enjoying Arizona as much as we possibly can:


Jeff remarked as he was leaving that this was the first time he hung out with me without the baby. (Don’t worry, the baby was here, he was just asleep.) I do exist outside of that kid, I swear it. It’s nice to have a friend who doesn’t have kids so we can discuss various topics that don’t revolve around diapers and breastfeeding. I mean, it’s nice to have friends with kids as well, because they are invaluable when strange things happen and you need a shoulder to cry on. But a little bit of balance is slowly returning to my world and I am happy about that.

I’m tired now, I may not even knit tonight (!).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Yarn Day!

I was emailing with Jeff last night and asked if he wanted to come hang out with us today. To my great surprise he agreed. On the agenda? Nursing home, yarn shop, and lunch with Julie and Mac. Hardly the type of day I would expect him to enjoy – but we all had a great time.

Fiber Factory is empty this time of year – it was wonderful. The staff was not nearly as harassed as they are during the winter. It was quiet and enjoyable. And I bought some yarn. I am obsessed with these footie socks. I had to make myself a pair. As you can see, I’ve already started them:


Yes, that is Baby Cashmerino. I am hoping that by bringing it in the house it will release the curse on the Cashmerino Chunky that just can’t seem to make itself into a sweater. Since my house is now 75 degrees thanks to the kind men at Chas Roberts Air Conditioning, I thought I might need a pair of cashmere socks to keep my tootsies warm. This yarn is so soft it will make you cry. I will update my progress so you can all drool.

Never fear, my sweet mother. I finished your socks this afternoon:

clown socks done

Super cute. Perfect. I couldn’t be happier. I will never get enough of this pattern.

I can now see why people get stuck on only making socks. Especially these socks. So quick. So refreshing. So Summery. I am one happy knitter. I hope everyone wants footie socks for Christmas this year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Finished Socks?

I finished the socks last night and, well, see for yourself.

They don’t match at all. Now, I did use a different cast on method for the second sock. This was inadvertent – when I made the first sock I forgot my crochet hook in the car, so I had to use a normal cable cast on. With the second sock I used the crocheted cast on where you use the hook to make loops on the needle. I thought they were similar but apparently not. The second sock (the one on top) has a lacy/frilly edge. The other problem is the striping is off and the top sock looks way more red than the bottom sock.

So, I am going to cast on and knit another sock. I want them to resemble one another more closely, and if I start the yarn in the big red stripe I think it will help. The yarn is called Clown by Marks and Kattens. It’s 45% cotton, 40% superwash wool and 15% nylon. Oh, and it is not colorfast. So mom, don’t get your feet wet or they will turn pink.

If you need a good reference for the kitchner stitch, go here. It has great explanations and pictures.

I will be at Fiber Factory on Thursday at 10 a.m. if anyone wants to come knit with me. My student Judy will be there as well. I may try to find some yarn for myself for these socks. I also just read a pattern in Interweave Knits where you double the yarn on the foot so there is extra padding. Considering how often I run around with only my socks on this sounds like a good idea.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sock Pattern

Here is the link for the sock pattern. Sorry, I meant to put it up yesterday and didn't get around to it.

She (Alison of the Blue Blog) also has a cute t-shirt pattern here. It's called "Nothing But a T-shirt" and it's made out of Rowan Calmer. I can't even imagine how soft and comfortable that would be, but at $11 a ball I don't think I'll be making this shirt any time soon. (The pattern takes 6 balls, so $66 without tax, shipping and needles. Because of course I don't have the required needles, why would I?)

I tried the sock on my mom today and it fit, so I'm going to give the pair to her when they are done. I'm a little confused about the short-row technique again because I picked up the copy of Interweave Knits that has the baby bootie pattern she refers to, and the directions are a bit different. Only slightly, but enough to make me think I'm doing it wrong.

I hope to finish the sock tonight so I should have pictures of it tomorrow. Everything else is on hold until this crazy sock is completed.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

One Day, One Sock

A 24 hour sock is really something, especially for me. I spent yesterday sleeping in (yay!), going out for breakfast, picking up the baby from his Grandma Gloria's house, and then monitoring that baby all day while he tried his darndest to get into every possible thing in the house that was either unsafe of off limits.

But still, here is the sock:

24 hour sock

Now, I used yarn I had that I don't particularly love – my mom picked it out last year. Of course as soon as I stitched the last part of the toe I realized I should have just made it in her size. Oh well, live and learn. I think I'm going to crochet an edge with some Microspun I have lying around that will match perfectly.

Let me tell you how much I love this pattern. I have never done short row heels and toes and they are far superior to any other sock I have knit in the past. There is no picking up of stitches along the heel flap, and the toe is round like a normal sock instead of all squared and weird. A big thank you to Alison of the Blue Blog for sharing her pattern so generously.

I answered my own question yesterday, but if any of you happen to make this sock and wonder what I did, you knit to the stitch right before the yarn over and then turn your work.

I went to Michael's today and got some thread for my beads. I've decided to stitch them on after the purse is finished – I think trying to strand them and knit them in will be too complicated for me right now. Plus I want to get that purse done and write up the patterns.

As many of you may have read, Kim is moving to China and I will be taking over the scheduling of our Stitch and Bitch group. One of my biggest challenges with this is that I will need to get to a good portion of the meetings, and my little tax deduction goes to bed at 6:30. If anyone knows a trustworthy babysitter who can sit in my house and make sure it doesn't burn down before Joe gets home I would probably hire them on the spot. It's not the fun kind of babysitting that the grandparents enjoy – you know, where they actually interact with the child. And it doesn't make sense for them to drive all the way over here for one hour of sitting anyway. I really just need someone to watch over him like a lion and call me if he starts bleeding or vomiting or something.

I am going to miss Kim. She was one of my first new friends when I moved back to Phoenix and we got pregnant at the same time last year, which is almost like going into the army with someone. It is such a great opportunity for her and her family and I know they will have a wonderful trip. I'm just getting tired of people leaving.

I haven't had any sleep. Last night about 1 a.m. a drunk driver was pulled over directly in front of my house. The nice police office decided it was necessary to keep his lights flashing for the entire hour it took to perform the field sobriety tests. In the end the young gentleman was not arrested, but it looked like he was asked to go sit in his car for a while. He pulled over on the curb and sat there while the nice policeman left. Of course I was wide awake through it all and peering at them through the curtains. I wanted to go yell at the officer for disturbing my sleep, but my pjs didn't match.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I'm becoming a somewhat scattered knitter. Or really I just am a scattered knitter and sometimes I'm more focused than others. Right now I'm about as focused as Ben and Jennifer's wedding photos. The SWTC purse is halted because of beads. I have gotten pretty far on the Ribby Tank, as you can see here:

4 inches

It's a good project for knitting with a baby because I don't have to pay too much attention. Although it's a good thing I've learned how to drop a stitch down and change it from a knit to a purl because I have messed up a few times.

The pink sweater is completely on hold because I fear it is possessed by demons. I bought a skein of chenielle to make the washcloth from Weekend Knitting but it's still sitting in my car.

And then today I found these adorable footy socks – remember the ones with the pom poms on the back? Alison at the Blue Blog designed them and I just think they are adorable. So I started a pair of those with some yarn in my stash. I’m having trouble understanding her method of short rowing but I'm hoping to figure it out. Even with pictures it is just not making sense to me. If anyone has done this pattern and can answer one question for me that would be great. (My question is this, do I knit the stitch BEFORE the yarn over or do I turn there?)

As many of you noticed PJS took down his blog without warning. I don't know if he'll be back, I don't know why he did it that way other than he said it was starting to feel like work. He was very tied to the number of comments he got in a day and apparently he didn't feel like people were commenting enough. I'm guessing he will resurface on some of your blogs and explain himself, but probably not until Tuesday or after. (He has company in town right now.) Anyhow, he was fine as of yesterday afternoon, I can only assume he's fine today. He has a cute habit of not returning emails or phone calls, so hopefully everything is okay.

I'm not going to comment about London other than to say it makes me sad and scared. I don't feel like ranting or arguing or anything, I just wish it didn't happen.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

All the Needles in the World

A group met up at Changing Hands Thursday night and I was able to make it thanks to my darling husband Joe. He came home early so I could jet down to Tempe and sit for a bit. It was fun to see people, and to finally meet Maura from my comments section. Here is a picture, she’s the blond smiley one.

changing hands

And here’s the other side of the room:

changing hands 2

I worked a little on my red bag – I added a crocheted edge around the top that I may take off. It just doesn’t look right. I’m stuck on the white bag because I want to add beads but I can’t figure out how to thread the beads onto the yarn. I bought a beading needle but the eye is verrrrry tinnnnny, and I don’t have little threader. So I’m stuck. What do I do when I’m stuck? Start the next project of course. Here you can see my new Knitpicks Shine yarn being knit up into Ribby Shell:

cast on

I love this yarn – it is soft and great to knit. At only $2.29 a ball you just can’t beat the price. You could make a huge sweater for less than $30. I want to make this wonderful cabled sweater for Jack that is totally impractical but so cute I want to die when I see it. At least if I use cheaper yarn it won’t be such a waste, right? (I know, I’m rationalizing, but I LOVE this sweater so much. I can’t find an individual picture, but if you go here and scroll down to Cable and Rib Sweater w/Hood you will see what I mean.) And please don’t bother reminding me that I don’t think you should put hoods on baby sweaters. I know this, but I can’t stop myself.

I had to go buy two sets of needles yesterday in order to cast on for Ribby Shell. Joe was, once again, shocked and amazed that I could possibly need another needle. He asked “So, how many needles are there? Is it possible to have all the needles?”

I responded “Well, there are different types, circular, straight, double pointed….”

He interrupted “No, I asked, is it possible to have all the needles?” (Can you tell he’s been doing depositions a lot lately?)

“Well, I suppose so.”

“How many would that be?”

“I honestly cannot tell you.”

And since he wouldn’t let me tell him why this is such a difficult question to answer (by now he was frustrated and grumbling in the other room), I will share with you my copious knowledge of the knitting needle world. But first, just so you can see where he’s coming from, here is a look at my needle case:


Outside of this case I probably have another ten or so sets of needles. Maybe more. I know, it’s a lot, but there’s a lot to keep in mind when buying needles.

First, they are made of different materials. Some are plastic, some are wood, some are bamboo, some are metal, some are made from the shin bones of llamas that live on the coast of Peru. There is much debate about what the best materials is for creating the perfect needle, but I am here to tell you there is no one best needle. Sure, I like Addi Turbos just as much as the next knitter, but if you’re knitting lace weight yarn you will be sorely disappointed with the slippery mess you create. (For the uninitiated, these needles are about 3 times more expensive than others, so the needle snobs are out in force trying to convince the world they are the ONLY needles to buy.)

Secondly they come in three different types: straight (the common needle, the ones you see on Six Feet Under where all they knit are scarves), circular (for knitting heavy projects or hats), and double pointed needles (socks, tops of hats, and I-cords).

Then you have to deal with size and length. This is where I ran into trouble yesterday. I needed size 6 circulars with a 29 inch cord. And they couldn’t be bamboo because I’m knitting cotton. (Bamboo is great for lace weight yarn or, oddly, for bamboo yarn.) And to be honest, my favorite metal needle is Susan Bates Quicksilvers – only $5.50 a pair instead of $16 for addis. Plus they aren’t as slippery and I like the sound they make when they hit one another. The closest yarn store to me didn’t have 29 inch cords, only 24. Could I get away with it? Hard to tell without buying the needles and casting on the project, but I decided to go out on a limb and get them.

So there is my small dissertation on needles. I am learning more with every project. Like the fact that lace is best knit on straight needles because circulars pull on the little yarn-overs. And socks are best on metal needles because the little wood ones snap like toothpicks. So my education as a knitter continues, and I’m sure someday I will have all the needles.

And now on to sad news. I’m afraid my pink Cashmerino Chunky Sweater project has been jinxed somehow. Or maybe the yarn is occupied by demons. I don’t know what is wrong with this project but I just can’t make it work. First the cabled fiasco. Then the wrong gauge on size 17 needles. Then I bought the size 19(!) needles and cast on, only to realize I didn’t have large enough stitch markers. I finally got started, cast on, was knitting happily away, and then this:

new short row

If you look at the stitches on the green part of the needle you will see a gap. This is also known as a short row. It means that on the last row I knit up to this point, turned the work and knit back to the end. So that little edge piece has one less row than the rest of the sweater. I can’t believe I made this stupid weird mistake. It must be the fault of the yarn, because I certainly wouldn’t do this on my own.

So there you have it. Joe is home all weekend, we hardly have a single plan save for some family parties and celebrations, so I plan to knit and relax as much as I can.