Sunday, December 27, 2009

I've been yarn bombed!

I was up at 5am this morning for no particular reason. I was looking at my Ravlery friends page and saw this project called "Balcony Gates". For the non-Ravelers, here are the pictures that were posted.

Balcony Gates pics from Ravelry's Knitarchy

"How clever! How charming! How just my kind of thing!," I thought to myself. Then I thought "Hey wait! Is that my balcony?" and indeed, it was. Sneaky sneaky vandals these are. I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 5 and it is hard to sneak up to my balcony without being heard. I love it, yarn bombers, whoever you are!

Be it resolved?

I resolved to accomplish the following in 2009.

* to blog a tutorial about knitting backwards that will not result in my readership temporarily forgetting how to knit. Nope. This didn't get done.

* to keep attempting to dye the color "White Queen" until it looks how it looks in my head. You wouldn't think a color that was predominantly WHITE would be so hard for me to dye. It's always the easy stuff that trips me up. This didn't get done, either.

* to attend at least one meeting for the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois (formerly the St. Clair Fiber Guild), nevermind that I don't live in Southern Illinois and I hate driving across the river. This group made a great impression on Scott and I during the Strange Folk Festival and we would love to spend more time with these people. The group is small compared to the knitting and weaving guilds in St. Louis, but what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm. Poke around their webpage. I would be willing to carpool if anyone is interested. Or this, even though they remain absolutely lovely people.

* Explore Missouri. I have lived here my entire life and have explored very little of it. Nope, but I've been to O'Fallon, IL 5 times.

* Crochet at least two projects. Nope.

* Revisit kindergarten. Today I read the following quote about organizing space that embodied exactly what I am trying to accomplish in my own living/work/creative space.
In a kindergarten classroom, everything is organized in such a way that no matter how messy the room gets, 20 five-year-olds can put it back in order in fiver minutes and find what they need again the next day. The kindergarten model works well for creative spaces, too. I mostly did this and it only took 2 dumpsters, abandoning all my furniture and moving to get it done. I'm still not what you would call organized, but everything has general area now.

* Develop focus. I waste a lot of time going off on tangents both mentally and physically. I could get so much more accomplished if I could just stay focused. Hahahaha, hahaha! Ha! Ha! HA!

* Knit like crazy. I have 4 17-gallon containers of stash. I want to eliminate at least one of those. [Confession time. I also have 6 smaller containers between 2.5 and 11 gallons each of what I call 'working yarn'. I don't count it as stash.] I finished 24 projects this year. Only 7 of those projects came from stash, yet I am down to 2 17-gallon containers of stash and I could maybe fill a third with my WIPS and a smattering of working yarn. I reduced my stash but I did it through brutal weeding and redistribution of yarn wealth.

* Develop and maintain a better work schedule. Remember to include work knitting, sample knitting, design, research and website time. Sort of. I quit working at Knitorious altogether in late spring. I still don't focus and schedule as well as I should but since this is now my only job I get a lot more done with the business.

* Work on my 101 things in 1001 day list. There are some things I won't be able to accomplish in the time remaining. There are other things that don't seem important anymore. What remains are things that are absolutely achievable, such as devoting more time to reading, listening to new music and knitting for others. I haven't seen my 101 in 1001 list since before I moved. One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to move and reduce my stash, so at least I accomplished those two things.

What about 2010 resolutions? There is no point in my making resolutions in the new year. I always forget about them until after Christmas each and every year. That hasn't stopped me from starting a list of business resolutions. So far the list of business and knitting resolutions are quite sane and doable. The list so far contains items like "buy more silk" and "dye more yarn".

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends. Wednesday night my mother and I watched my sister's chorus sing along with the Compton Heights Band at Powell Symphony Hall.

Yesterday Scott and I baked and knit ornaments all day* and then celebrated with his family that evening. I woke up this morning after, oh, 4 hours of sleep and finished up 2 ornaments. I love the quiet of Christmas pre-dawn and then the quiet slumbering of Christmas night. Our building, normally full of sounds, is so quiet right now except the howling wind outside.

This morning we had enough snow for a white Christmas, but not enough to stick. We spent the morning at my sister's house celebrating her birthday and having a wonderful Christmas brunch. In the afternoon we gorged ourselves on cookies, cheese, quiche, wassail, roasted chestnuts and cheesecakes with the knitters.

*I neglected to get a picture of a single ornament. I KNOW.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Address

[I edited out some of the rambling middle parts of this. The message is still the same--I changed my blog URL.]

This blog has a new address. I have been wanting to do this for awhile now. I never liked the name stlrachelknits. It was always intended to be temporary. Now my own shortsightedness has allowed stlracheknits to become synonymous with Dyeabolical. I was doing THIS before I was a dyer. I was getting paid to write before I started blogging. I want what I do to be separate from who I am. This is the best solution I can come up with for now.

Dyeabolical is Dyeabolical. lehcarknits is Me. Obviously there is going to be a lot of overlap and obviously I am going to talk about work here. My intention is not to pretend that StlRachelKnits and Dyeabolical are different people. Not at all. My intention is to break the stlrachelknits/Dyeabolical connection, at least for myself and Google. The best and easiest way to do that is to start over with a blog address that has never been indexed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Charming Shoppes

I'm calling an end to a personal shopping era. I own 1 pair of pants, 2 bras, 5 shirts and 1 coat that did not come from Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug or Catherine's. That's it. Nearly everything else in my wardrobe has come from a store owned by Charming Shoppes, Inc.

Every February, going back as long as I can remember, I have spent my tax refund at one of those 3 stores. I was a pretty devoted Lane Bryant customer, shopped the Fashion Bug sales and sporadically shopped Catherine's. Not anymore.

You have all read about how I was showered with dust in a Fashion Bug dressing room and how it made me sick. I contacted customer service and the district manager for Fashion Bug over the phone and received no response. I have emailed Fashion Bug again to no response. I sent a message through Charming Shoppes main website. I have emailed Charming Shoppes, their CEO and Fashion Bug executives. I have not received any response beyond a single auto-generated email letting me know someone would get in touch with me soon.

No one ever got in touch with me. Friends have speculated that they didn't contact me because they were afraid they would get sued. Maybe that is the reason why, but it just doesn't fly with me. Maybe it is because I have spent a lot of time with good and decent people, but I expect people I do business with to do the right thing.

I am done spending time trying to get Fashion Bug and Charming Shoppes, Inc. to do the right thing. I am definitely finished shopping with them. I won't give my money to a store who won't make it right. How can they make it right? First, acknowledge that I have said something. Don't ignore me. Second, apologize. They can even phrase it in that corporate speak that doesn't say anything meaningful at all. Just...don't ignore me.

Charming Shoppes, Inc owns the following stores:
  • Lane Bryant and Lane Bryant Outlet
  • Fashion Bug
  • Catherine's Plus Sizes
  • Petite Sophisticate
  • Figi's

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old

The next asshole who tells me that 30 is the new 20 is getting a boot to the head. I didn't have an age complex until these damn kids these days gave me one. You know you have crossed the invisible aging line when, unbidden, a young 20-something starts consoling you about your age by telling you that she knows a 60-year old with a tattoo. I don't know which was worse--that she interrupted our otherwise lovely conversation about comic books and cartoons to console me unbidden on being old or that she thinks 35 and 60 are practically the same thing. 

By the way, you can tell I am practically antique and stuffed with ancient sawdust because I use words like 'unbidden'. Yesterday I used the phrase "to wit". I wouldn't have said shit like that when I was 33. Suddenly I'm 34, almost 35, and I'm all like "blah blah blah to wit, blah blah blah UNBIDDEN!" No wonder these young whippersnappers think I'm all decrepity and old.  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Palate Cleansing Cowl

I cast on and knit this quick cowl after I finished my February Lady Sweater. This is my first mobius knit, but definitely not my last. It was fast, fun and it looks great.




Yarn: Schaeffer Yarns Elaine, color Happy (thanks Mindy!)
Pattern: Cast on a random amount of stitches, knit in stockinette until it is tall enough, end with about an inch or two of garter stitch. Cast off.
Needle size: US 8 (thanks Tammie!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's finished!

My February Lady Sweater is finished and I had enough yarn left over to knit a February Baby Sweater. 4 skeins of yarn, 2 projects, less than $40. I call that a win. I have listed my modifications on Ravlery and have more details about the yarn in the business blog.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Green Living Expo

Just a reminder--

I will be at the Missouri History Museum's Green Living Expo this Sunday, December 6. The expo officially opens at noon and goes to 4, but the History Museum opens at 10. I am splitting a table with The Knitress, who specializes in hand knitted accessories made from natural fibers. I will be bringing with me a small assortment of sock yarns, cottons, the last of the silk, a few necklaces from Crafty and Crap Studio, reversible hand sewn bags, some roving and that entrelac shawl from the previous post.

Here are some of the exhibits that have signed on. How could you not stop by? 

• Isabee’s Honey • HPO Spa Treatments
• Kakao Chocolate • The J.U.I.C.E. Project
• Hope Build • Little Pleasures Foods
• Mod Creations • Go Green Clean
• Green It! • Better Life
• Miss Lemon • Squaresville
• Super Chick Studio
• Suzanne Shenkman Designs
• Missouri Coalition for the Environment
• Earthways Center, Missouri Botanical Garden
& U.S. Green Building Council–St. Louis

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

At least I know where I can get more....

1.5" of garter to go and I'll be finished with my February Lady Sweater made from my own Cotton Slub yarn.


 Too bad this is all that is left of the 3rd skein:

 
I guess I'll be needing that 4th skein after all. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lady Eleanor and Green Expo

I have completely given up trying to blog every day. Moving on.

I dug out my Lady Eleanor stole this week and gave it a long scalding hot bath.  She was fine and dried beautifully, even softer and more lovely than she was before.

The scalding hot bath was an accident. I was aiming for a warm bath. Even after turning the hot water heater down again it still seems to be getting up to 140C. I am happy to know that my water is hot enough to wash a sheep fleece should the desire strike. Given how prone I am to reacting to sheepy wool, it would probably be a bad idea to process a fleece in my house. Still, a girl can dream.

Wait, where was I again? Oh right. I washed Lady Eleanor. She dried beautifully. I love her. She's soft, marvelous, long and warm. Every color is a different fiber content, so she is also endlessly entertaining just to look at. She was my largest and most expensive project to date. I bought and knit her yarn one skein at a time until she was long enough. I wrote in this 2006 blog post that I cut out most of the angora. Was I smoking the crack rock? Either I didn't know how to ID angora then or angora was over represented in the yarn because this shawl still has plenty of angora in it despite my taking out several lengths of it.

The stole ended up just a little too short for my body type, soooo I have decided to put it up for sale or trade and see what happens. Maybe it will sell, maybe it won't, but if you love it enough to take care of it, speak up and we will work something out. I priced it at about what I paid for the yarn originally. I am open to bartering for things I want for work. I would rather see someone who loves it wear it than to have it folded up in my closet for years.




 ======================================================
I will have a small display at the Missouri History Museum this coming Sunday for the Second Annual Green Living Expo from noon-4pm. I am splitting a table with The Knittress (aka Suzi)  who will have a variety of knitted accessories made from natural fibers and her friend who I believe is a jeweler. I am only bringing a limited amount of inventory with me, but I am looking to do a little wheeling and dealing that day since it is my last show of the year, so come on down. Just let me know you are a blog reader and I'll hook you up with a discount. If you would like me to bring something specific so you can see it in person just let me know and I will be happy to accommodate your request.  As always, I will be accepting cash, check or credit card.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the most awesome stitch marker in the whole wide world, given to me by my friend Deborah and made by our friend Suzanne. It's a mood marker. It changes colors as you knit. Plus the stars glow in the dark. This is the kind of stitch marker Wonder Woman would knit with. Grammar Girl says I can end a sentence with a preposition so stop making that face, Deborah. :P


I am also thankful for YOU. Happy Thanksgiving!
====================================
Check out the business blog for details on sales this weekend in my Etsy and Artfire stores.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thank you, Jeanne-Claude

I fail NaNoBloPoMo. It doesn't count as blogging every day if you go a week between posts. It wasn't intentional. I had blog posts planned out. Then a few days ago I was derailed when I found out that one of my favorite artists has died. I immediately started a blog post describing the day we dropped everything and flew to New York to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates project. I never finished the post, but I feel like I need to at least publicly acknowledge the passing of this great artist.

Thank you, Jeanne-Claude, for your part in making The Gates happen. It was one of the best days of our lives.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

St. Louis Craft Mafia

I have been accepted in to the St. Louis Craft Mafia! This means that I will automatically be accepted in to several different shows and that my networking opportunities just exploded. I'm so excited!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Special kind of special

Today I achieved a new first. I managed to set soup on fire. I was kind of proud of myself. Ain't every hoosier who can catch soup on fire. Scott patted my head and reminded me that this is actually the second time I cought soup on fire--some nonsense about setting the jambalaya on fire before his sisters wedding reception. He then added that I'm a special kind of special. Fucker.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nose full of snot. Not thankful.

[Update: No sooner do I post this "woe is me" post than a post from Sarahkate comes across my blog reader completely making my day. For a while there I thought maybe I had gone crazy with my expectations of customer service.]


I'm not feeling very thankful today, but I should. I have lots to be thankful for, blah blah new futon, blah blah friends, blah blah work, blah blah food, blah blah family.

Instead of being thankful I have a nose full of crap which is diametrically opposed to being thankful. I'm not sleeping well. I can't spring my car from the shop until payday. I accidentally fed my fish a piece of gravel. Hopefully he coughed it up and won't die when he tries to poop it out.The inside of my mouth still tastes like Fashion Bug's dressing room. Blogger's new format doesn't have spell check.

Here's some knitting that has left me dissatisfied this week. Blah, blah, blah.




Friday, November 13, 2009

Dust Shower


It has been 7 days since the incident below happened and I still have not received an acknowledgment or apology from Fashion Bug. If Fashion Bug still wants to call and apologize to me that would be great. I don't want to boycott Fashion Bug. They have clothes that fit me and they are starting to get a little more stylish, but I'm not going there until they say the words "I am sorry". 

Fashion Bug, make it better. Don't make it worse by ignoring me. Say you're sorry. Offer me a coupon. Acknowledge that your store failed to provide the minimum customer service. "omigosh! I'm sorry! Are you okay?" would have halted things right there. "Are you okay?" would have been the end of the story. 

It has been a week now and I've heard nothing back. I'm feeling alright about outing their filthy dressing room and lack of customer service. I've been various degrees of sick ever since this happened and all I ever wanted was an apology. "I'm sorry" would have sufficed. I wasn't expecting an "I'm sorry our dressing room showered you with cups full of dust, triggered an allergic reaction, asthma and has made you sick all week"  even though it DID trigger an allergic reaction and has made me punky and sick all week. I just wanted an apology. Now? Now I want more. Now I want you to know how gross the Affton Fashion Bug dressing room was. 

If Fashion Bug still wants to call and apologize to me that would be great. I don't want to boycott Fashion Bug. They have clothes that fit me and they are starting to get a little more stylish, but I'm not going there until they say the words "I am sorry". Fashion Bug, make it better. Don't make it worse by ignoring me. Say you're sorry. Offer me a coupon. Acknowledge that your store failed to provide the minimum customer service. "omigosh! I'm sorry! Are you okay?" would have halted thinks right there. "Are you okay?" would have been the end of the story. 

This is the letter I sent to Fashion Bug.


I was in your Affton, MO location this past Friday to buy a new long sleeve t-shirt. My hand bumped the grid covering the dressing room light fixture while I was trying the shirt on and I was showered with dust. This wasn't just a sprinkling of a little dust. This was huge amount of big clumps of dust that literally showered over me and continued to hang in the air. [A Twitter friend pointed out that it may not have been just dust. She said there could have been bugs up there. Thanks, Twitter friend! As if having a bucket of dust upended over your head isn't squicky enough.]

I put my shirt right back on and left the dressing room without trying on the shirt I had come for. I told the attendant that I had just been showered with dust. The only thing she did was to go up and poke at the grid gently, which caused more dust to come down, and say "well, I don't know how we're supposed to clean THAT". I told her to take it down and rinse it off and how appalled I was at the conditions of the dressing room. The whole time my husband was brushing dust off of my shirt and out of my hair.

Even after I exited the dressing room, in a hurry, I could still see the dust hanging in the air. There was so much of it my husband, who was standing outside the room, could see it still hanging from the ceiling and in the air.

The clerk never apologized. My husband and I quickly left the store, but stood outside the store for a few minutes while I took big gulps of air, tried not to loose it and while we tried to shake and brush all the dust off. I really cannot iterate enough just how much dust came down. I was SHOWERED with dust. It was filthy, disgusting and unhygienic.

After we left it became apparent that I was having some sort of reaction to the dust shower. [I am allergic to dust.] We stopped and my husband bought Benedryl which I had to keep taking throughout the day, along with my regular allergy medicines, to keep from being sick. You can thank my asthma medicines from triggering a full-on asthmatic attack. I have been dry, had chapped skin, been low on energy because of allergies and asthma and generally felt sick since the moment I was showered with a really disgusting amount of filth in your Affton, MO Fashion Bug dressing room. 

I called your corporate number while my husband was going inside to get Benedryl and asked to be transferred to the regional or district manager for that area. I wanted a phone call back and I haven't gotten one yet. I want an apology. Your clerk hasn't apologized. I haven't gotten a phone call from your regional or district manager (I think Robin was the name on the voice mail) to apologize. Your dressing room made me sick. It wasn't any fault of mine. All I wanted was a lousy t-shirt. I don't understand why your company didn’t apologize immediately and right up front. An apology and asking if I were okay would have gone a long way. Instead I got a “I don’t know how to clean that” as an excuse. This is how you train your employees?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Whoa

I have been toying with the idea of shutting down the blog. The last I checked numbers only about 30 people read me regularly. I know most of the 30 personally and figure they would probably follow me over if I decided to blog exclusively in the business blog. On a whim I unsubscribed and resubscribed the Google Reader feed and suddenly instead of 13 subscribers I had 44. Um. So then I went over to Bloglines and refreshed the feed. It isn't 12 Bloglines subscribers. It's 31.

Apparently there are a lot more of you reading this than I thought were reading it and I'm finding myself a little bit shy. Welcome, 50 additional people who I didn't know were reading. I hope I haven't said anything really offensive since you arrived.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Craft Fair, Day 2

The second day of the craft show had fewer people attend but better sales. I came $11 short of the magic number that would make this craft fair worth it. I will do another craft show again but I don't think I'll do the O'Fallon, Il craft show unless we can get a better booth location, the price goes down and the clientele changes. Scott wants to try another craft fair, but in St. Louis this time. Fine by me. The less I have to cross the Mississippi the better.

We met some really great crafters at the show who were also first-timers. I lusted after the glass enamel on copper jewelry from K.G. Jewelry. Hopefully they will have a website up soon. Cheryl Yeager from The Flying Dog and Co. and her granddaughter Sydney are both very creative who draw, make sculptured pins, paint, and knit. By the end of the weekend we had them spinning yarn, too. Sydney, the granddaughter, was so intuitive with her knitting and took right to spinning after only hearing instructions once. Both of them did this sort of backwards loop wrap when they were knitting English style (right handed) that was very efficient and fast. I plan on sitting down today to see if I can replicate it.

Our next show will be the Green Living Expo (pdf link) at the Missouri History Museum on Sunday, December 6th from noon-4pm. I am splitting a table with Suzi from The Knittresses. She will have hand knitted items made from wool, alpaca and other natural fibers. I will probably be bringing 3 or 4 cubes-worth of product since I am limited on space. I will have a sock yarns, cotton slub, spinning fibers and a little bit of silk. Even if you don't come for the yarn, come for the other vendors. It sounds like it will be a worthwhile event.   


Even with the good experiences we had and the new friends we made, I still feel like we fell in to some kind of time warp where being from St. Louis is a sin, at least for our booth neighbor and all his customers who nodded their agreements. Screw them. Most of the people were lovely and delightful. They were welcoming and friendly and many were happy to see yarn there even if it wasn't their style of yarn.

How do people feel about the Lindbergh craft fair? They have outdoor booths available still and if it is supposed to be a nice weekend I might just do it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Craft Fair: Day 1

Today I learned


-there are at least 3 teenage knitters in O'Fallon who are frustrated that they can't get the "real stuff" without getting a ride over to St. Louis. One knitter, maybe 13 or 14, learned to knit 3 weeks ago and has already expressed a preference for the "good stuff". These kids made my day.

-that people love color even if they aren't knitters.

-that there is still a strong mentality that 88-cent worsted weight acrylic yarn is the best yarn for all yarn-related projects.

-that sometimes people express their sticker shock by bearing their teeth and recoiling in horror. I pretended these people were non-knitters.

-that sometimes people didn't know where to get better yarn and are delighted to find it at the craft show, even if they are a little bit shocked by the price.

-that Scott is almost done making my scarf. I can't wait to wear it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

O'Fallon Craft Fair

Scott and I will be at the O'Fallon, IL High School craft fair this weekend. If you are in the area, stop by. I have never been to this craft fair before but I hear it is very large. Here is the pertinent info:


Dates: Saturday Nov. 7th 9am - 5pm and Sunday Nov. 8th 10am - 4pm
Address: 600 S Smiley Street, O'Fallon, IL, 62269-2316
My table: Booth #1614 in the multipurpose room. I am splitting a table with local horror author Elizabeth Donald. Look for the gothic booth decorations, books and yarn you can see from space. You can't possibly miss us. 
Admission Fee: $3
  
Here's a sampling of what I'm bringing--






Thursday, November 5, 2009

Doing this baby right


Gianna
Originally uploaded by sungazing

I do love a baby wrapped in Noro.

Thanks you to Julie from Sungazing Photography  for sharing this picture of her latest subject, baby Gianna. Gianna is nestled in the first Noro project I ever made. Julie fell in love with this purse. Before I gave it to her I put together a rigid basket "liner" made from plastic canvas, spray glue and fake leather to help keep the bag from losing its shape when filled with normal purse contents. I can't guarantee bag integrity when you fill said bag with babies, Julie. ;)

Sesame Street

Sesame Street turned 40 yesterday. The Sesame Street website has open voting of the best clips of the 80s. I'm too old to know about half of the clips listed. What happened to the best Sesame Street clips of the 70s? In related news, I am somewhat alarmed to discover that I was ever too old for Sesame Street.







Madaline Kahn:


True Blue Miracle:


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoReBloPoSweKniThaMo Day 4: Crankypants

Here's by daily National Novel Reading Blog Posting Sweater Knitting Giving Thanks Month---oh wait, that would mean that NaNoReBloPoSweKniThanMo should really be NaNoReBloPoSweKniGiThaMo...or something like that. Let's just call it Wednesday for short, okay?

On the novel reading front: I read 3 pages yesterday. My face burns with shame.

On the blog posting: This is the 4th blog post in 4 days. Do I have to point out that I'm making a new blog post every day if that notification is, in fact, inside a blog post? I think I'm already falling out of love with the National do-whatever-everyday-for-a-month concept

On the sweater knitting front: I have been knitting a single sweater sleeve for approximately 100 years now and it still isn't long enough. I have to finish the first sleeve, knit the second sleeve, finish the body of the sweater, block it and sew on buttons to meet my goal of having a new sweater to wear by this weekend. I don't think I'm going to make it.


Things I'm cranky about: Age discrimination. It happens a lot and it is damned hard to prove.

I know too many older adults who have lost their jobs because their small business employers can't afford or don't want to pay increased premiums that insurance companies charge for adults 50+. Imagine being you are fired from a long term job for a made up reason when the age clock flips from 54 to 55. You are hired immediately at a new job because of your experience, but then let go again for a completely daft reason when it comes time to give you insurance. Or maybe you are lucky and they keep you on through December, when it is time to pay the next years premium. You're another year older and then whoops! You are suddenly the only person "downsized".

It takes you longer to get a new job now, because after 35 years of steady employment you've suddenly blown through 2 jobs in 2 years. Finally you get a new job but "whoops", HR suspiciously asks if you are on anyone else's insurance and before you know it you are let go at the end of your probationary period. Lather rinse repeat.

Finally, finally, you are 65 and getting medicare. Unfortunately, life circumstances won't allow you to retire for several more years if at all. You don't need the employers insurance and you can finally find a job again without being worried about being fired, except now you have had 10 years of spotty employment because you had the audacity to age. Who the hell is going to hire you when there are 48 year olds lined up to take your job?

You think this doesn't happen? When I worked at the yarn shop, I talked to several 55-65 year old single women who would come in and share their version of this story with me. It pisses me off. It was never the hot shot lawyers, the professors, or the mid-level corporate managers who have this happen to them. It was always the secretaries who worked for small to medium businesses. Think about it. Businesses can't afford the higher premiums, which are considerable, nor can they say that the employees age is the reason they are getting fired.

This is a public health issue, a feminist issue, an older adult issue, an economic issue and a class issue. Why the hell aren't we doing something about it?

On the giving thanks front: I'm thankful that I have health insurance. I'm thankful that Sesame Street is still around 40 years later. And as always, I'm thankful for yarn.

Day 4: Progress continues

I'm knitting knitting knitting on my February Lady Sweater made from my own Cotton Slub yarn and still not done. It's the downside of being fat. I'm happy with who I am and accepting of the size I'm at, but if anything can give me a complex about my size it's how damned long it takes to knit a sweater. I'm estimating that adding full sleeves plus extending the length will put me just under 4 skeins to knit this, or about a $40 investment. Not bad.

This is what I've accomplished so far. I am sorely tempted to finish it off right now, but a cropped cap-sleeve shrug isn't my style as much as I want it to be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoReBloPoSweKniThaMo--Thanksgiving

A week ago I would have written a post on giving thanks that would have started "It's been a stressful year around here and I'm thankful it is almost over." This week I just want to say that this year could have ended so much differently and I am thankful it did not.

Some of you know that Scott's otherwise healthy cousin had to be resuscitated last week and put on a ventilator. I am so happy and thankful to report that her numbers quickly improved and today she is at home recovering nicely.

After the year my family and social circle has had, I could go my whole life without hearing the words ventilator, resuscitation, coma, airlifted, transplant, gallstone, pancreatitis, ICU, oxygen levels, or liver disease ever again. I could go a long long time before getting bad news when Scott is hundreds of miles away--which seemed to be most of the year. At the same time I am thankful he has a job still. I am thankful to my friends Sandy, Ann and Deborah who let me hang out at Knitorious last week under the pretense that I needed to get work knitting done. I actually did get work done. I picked out yarn and made sketches for a new cowl pattern I've been thinking of.

Finally, after a dreary dreary dreary couple of weeks, I'm thankful the sun is out and the clouds are gone.

NaNoReBloPoSweKniThaMo

It's National Novel Writing month, National Blog Posting month, I'm pretty sure it is National Sweater Knitting month but I could be wrong there, and it is the month of Thanksgiving. In the Internet tradition of abbreviating everything, I'm calling it my personal NaNoWriBloPoSweKniThaMo or something like that.

Please try not to notice that we are 3 days in to the month and I have yet to write a blog post nor am I even going to attempt to write a novel. I might read a novel. So that should be NaNoReBloPoSweKniThaMo. I've started reading Diana Gabaldon's new book. At 832 pages, finishing it seems like a suitable challenge. College-me just cried a little inside. College me read 100-200 pages per day every day. Graduated Knitter Me reads almost a whopping 100 or so book pages a month. I'm sure if I stopped skimming 100 or so blog posts a day that I could get a lot more reading in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

February Lady Sweater Party?

I'm just thinking out loud here, but I know of 4 people working on the February Lady Sweater out of my Cotton Slub yarn. I'm wondering, should we have a February Lady party and photoshoot? Say, in February? Any excuse for a party, I say.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fact

Have I ever told you my theory that slugs are slimy evil minions of the vampiric undead?

Fact: You never see vampires during the day time.
Fact: You never see slugs during the day time.

Fact: Vampires hate holy water.
Fact: Slugs hate salt water.

Fact: Vampires can be killed with a stake to the heart.
Fact: Slugs love tomato stakes and will often climb up them to discourage would-be vampire hunters from using the stakes to kill the slugs' undead masters.

Conclusion: Slugs = Evil minions of the vampiric undead.

This morning I had to drop Scott off very early for work. Instead of going back to bed I took advantage of the pre-dawn hours to clean up the patio.

Fact: The Army can accomplish more before 9am than most people do all day because the human brain doesn't realize it's awake until about 9:45 or the second cup of coffee, whichever comes first.
Fact: The party in the next courtyard was still going strong at 5:15.
Fact: An Army recruiter lives in the next courtyard.
Conclusion: The Army can party more before 9am than most people do all day.

Around 5 this morning I was dumping water out of empty pots and buckets, dumping heavy heavy heavy clay dirt and mini-boulders in to construction-strength trash bags so I could carry them downstairs. I moved a few plants around, splashed in the puddles on the way back up from the dumpster and generally playing around with the garden. Then I remembered that slugs like dark, damp muddy things like buckets of clay, planters, puddles and saucers full of water. I came back inside and poured myself a cup of coffee. I think there may be a slug on my cardigan, but I refuse to look. I just took it off and left it on the patio.

Fact: I'm not afraid of slugs.
Fact: I just don't like touching slimy things in the dark. That's what she said.
Conclusion: Wait until daylight to sweep off the patio.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 days of random

It's been 10 days since my last post? How did that happen? Here's what's been happening:

  • Scott and I joined our friends at the Second Wind fundraiser walk for a brief memorial service and to walk in memory of Jennie, our friends daughter who died earlier this year. It was emotional and painful, but also nice to see Selena again and to have another chance to honor Jennie. The raffle fundraiser after the walk was pretty kickin', too. Scott and I won a Kentucky themed basket that included spoon bread, corn bread, pancake mix, sorghum, salsa, bourbon-infused marinade called Kentuckyaki, elderberry wine, butter rum tea, beer cheese mix, julep glasses, a 6-pack of beer called Horse Piss. If this basket is truly representative of the state, then my impression of Kentucky is they really like their breads and their beer. Jennie would have approved.

  • After the walk Scott and I went to the zoo and watched a giraffe chase an ostrich. Check it out:


After that we went home and tore down the rest of the summer plants, dug up bulbs and moved the cold-weather plants closer to the building. We dropped off the cold-hating plants at Scott's parents house and stopped by the exotic pet store for an innocent look around and came home with a not very exotic betta fish. We named him Sid. Sid Fishious. He looks sad in the picture, but I think he's just nervous that I'm going to kill him the first time I change the water. I think he's right to be nervous.

Sid Fishious

  • The rest of last weekend and part of this week was spent updating Scott's resume. Cross your fingers that he won't need it. 

  • I dyed up 20 pounds of sock yarn this week for the shop and for the O'Fallon, IL craft fair in November. I did 1 pound of hand painted Themyscira (clear distinct areas of color), 1 pound of kettle dyed Themyscira (similar colors but more subtle and less predictable color transitions), 3 pounds of haphazard throwing dye at yarn, 1 pound of an expensive mistake and 14 pounds of yarn inspired by the high school colors of my twitter friends. I can't wait to get the yarn rewound and pictures up.


  • Earlier this week I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon knitting at Knitty Couture and lunch with Selena at Pi. If you haven't been to Pi, GO! There is a location opening in Kirkwood this month and in the CWE in December. It's even better than Dewey's pizza. Yeah, I said it. It's better than Dewey's. 
  •  I've finished the garter stitch section on the February Lady Sweater but it still looks like a pile of green yarn and not very picture worthy.

I am certain other interesting things have happened in the last 10 days but they have left my brain for now. So I bid you farewell until tomorrow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Progress continues

  • We agreed to set the furnace on 68 degrees and no higher no matter what. We probably should have gone through a winter here first before we pinky swore on it. It is, in fact, warmer in this apartment than in most homes. That's a good thing. We are well insulated. The heat from the apartments below rise in to our apartment. The airflow is minimal unless I open all the windows. Except....well...I threw open all the windows a few days ago because it was practically balmy in here. That was a mistake. All that did was trap the cold air in and now it can't get out. The thermostat, who is clearly more prepared for winter than we are, reads a consistent 72-74 degrees while I'm shivering from cold.
  • I'm still on the boring and easy part of the February Lady Sweater. It looks a lot like a lime green garter stitch rectangle. That doesn't really make for interesting blogging. I have managed one more repeat on Scott's Tadpole socks, so that isn't really picture worthy, either. I was swatching for Stephen West's Herbivore but that's as far as I got. 
  • This week has been stressful. It's looking like maybe unemployment numbers might go up by one person at the end of the month. Hopefully not. Cross your fingers.
  • I might have a table at the O'Fallon, Illinois High School craft fair on November 7-8. I've joined up with author Elizabeth Donald to split the table. We're both low on stock and couldn't fill a full booth for 2 days, so splitting the table works out. Neither one of us are entirely sure our products will do well at a traditional craft fair, so that gave us even more incentive to split the table. Unfortunately I think our application went in past the deadline (or will go in?) but Elizabeth had preliminary approval so it should be okay. 
  • If you haven't checked out the shared links in the sidebar of this blog, I encourage you to do so. The Berlin Reunion is especially good, as is the $3000 scarf. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2009 Garden in Review

Apologies for the length of this post. I'm not sure if anyone will be interested in my season-end review of our container garden, but here it is if you are. Has anyone else reading this done a review or planning a review of your own gardening efforts? Please link to it! I would love to read it.

Apologies for any spelling errors. Apparently Blogger no longer has a spell check option, which doesn't make any kind of sense at all. 
======================================================

Our garden had a rough time this year. We weren't going to plant anything this year because we hoped to be moving and didn't want to deal with the hassle of moving a garden. It started innocently enough when Scott brought home a pot full of campanulas. I did a minor amount of copy writing for E. J. Slayton's wonderful Bellflower Lace Scarf which lead to some discussion of campanulas/bellflowers looked like and whether they grew in Missouri.  When Scott saw bellflowers for sale he brought some home so we could enjoy them up close and in person.


Then we stopped at Sappington Farmers Market (which isn't really a farmers market, at all) and came home with just a few plants that we couldn't bear to do without. Let me break down what a "few" plants are in our universe--1 pot of Italian herbs, a pot of tuplips, 4 tissue paper looking things that ended up not surviving, 6 crepes looking things that I killed after a month, lemon balm, some other mint, some sort of succulent that lost its label and 2 other unidentified plants.



Somehow we also ended up with 2 topsy turvys, 1 strawberry planter (don't bother) and seeds for tiny sunflowers, 5 different kinds of tomatoes, 2 sweet peas and bell peppers.


I don't think either one of us believed we would ever really move and couldn't bear being stuck in our old apartment without a garden to sneak out to, but move out we did. The move was not kind to the plants and several died or were injured beyond full recovery. Those that made it thrived on our new balcony that has high humidity and ambient temperatures 10-15 degrees warmer than the rest of the world.



Our old patio wasn't useful for anything other than plants. It was right next to the parking lot, which was convenient for carrying in groceries but not conducive to having living space on the patio. We packed that old patio to the gills and felt free to extend beyond our tiny concrete patio out to the  common areas on either side of our patio. We also drilled half a dozen hooks for hanging plants. The landlords didn't care if we spread our garden out as far and wide as possible. They always made it clear how much the other residents enjoyed our garden and encouraged us in keeping it up.

Our new balcony was technically larger than our old patio, but didn't have the expansion space the old patio had. Additionally, we wanted to frequently sit out on our balcony which is something we never did at the old place. We grilled frequently at the old place, but the number of plants and the size of the grill kept us from firing it up this summer. The very high ambient temperatures proved a special concern. The plants needed twice-a-day watering in the summer and thrice-a-day watering on the hottest days of the year. At one point, as a joke, I set out a meat thermometer to see if anything would register. An hour later it was clear that I could cook a ham on my balcony if need be.


Weather was a special concern this year. It rained all through May and many of our plants drowned. In mid-September the temperature dropped suddenly. The heat-loving tomatillos and cukes stopped producing and started shutting down. There was a minor uptick in temperatures that started them producing again, but the yields were small.

Ultimately we ended up with:
  • Dead ivy, which remained dead despite various resuscitation attemts
  • Bellflowers, which lived a colorful and brief life before succumbing to the summer sun
  • 2 canna bulbs, which failed to thrive. They were replaced by new cannas in late summer
  • kalanchoe, which is hearty and thriving but never flowered
  • aloe, killed in the spring rains and replaced
  • sunflowers--barely sprouted and died
  • tomato seeds from Target--gave them away. I'm not sure how they are doing.
  • Sweet pea flowers--we gave away one pot and the other one died
  • hens and chicks, didn't do a thing. The hen got fatter but there never were any chicks
  • spicy basil, my favorite kind of basil! We planted far too many spicy basil seeds and never thinned them out. The shoots remained tiny and tender with a mild flavor throughout the season because of pot overcrowding, but the tiny leaves were difficult to work with. Next year we need to thin the plantings out and allow the basil to reach greater maturity. Even with the stunted growth of this plant, it was our highest yielding pot. We had enough basil for 3 lemon-basil cakes, 20 servings of pesto (frozen in ice cube trays), and several meals consisting only of mozzarella, tomato and basil.
  • sweet basil, we were in basil overload when we were moving and gave this away to ???
  • italian herb pot with parsley, rosemary, oregano and more basil--the parsley was a waste. Once I pulled it the oregano went wild. I need to pull and dry it today. The basil never thrived. Usually just being around rosemary will send me in to a sneezing fit, but this year we managed to use every last bit of it in the pot. Hooray for Zyrtec!
  • strawberries. I give up on strawberries. I just flipping give up.
  • balloon flower--neither one of us is sure what happened to the balloon flower. Possibly it reached the end of the season and made its way to the dumpster.
  • Tiger lilies--these grew wild all over the old apartment complex. We stole a few bulbs before we left and had a nice bloom this year.
  • christmas cactus--dead, dead, dead.
  • pablano peppers--It made one pepper.
  • jalapeno--This was a late bloomer. We didn't think it was going to produce and then in September it exploded with jalepenos.
  • pansies--A beautiful spring addition to our cucumber bucket until the cukes took off.
  • orange mint--pretty and smells good, but we didn't do anything with it.
  • tomatoes in a Topsy Turvy--it had great foilage growth, but the yield was dismal. It could have been the medium it was grown in, the method used to grow it or, and I'm just guessing here, but perhaps it could have been because the movers stepped on it. Repeatedly.
  • yet another strawberry planter--The strawberry seeds never sprouted but the clover weeds thrived.
  • cucumber plant--we were on our way to a bumper crop of cucumbers when it suddenly stopped producing when the weather turned cooler in September. The cucumbers we did get were seedy and flavorless. We probably won't get the generic burpless variety again.
  • brussels sprouts--The plants loved the sun. The largest of the 2 plants is nearly 3 feet tall and has a giant beautiful head of leaves. The sprouts may have gotten too warm. Those towards the bottom of the plant are loosely formed and will probably be bitter. Since the cool weather has hit the sprout production has really taken off. If we can get the sprouts to full size before the first freeze we should have about 200 sprouts.
  • catnip--the cats hated it so we pitched it
  • some kind of fuzzy headed flower--died a wet death. That month of rain in May/June really wasn't that helpful.
  • some kind of flowering succulent--I'm sure it died a wet death, too.
  • jade plant--I have no idea where this even is. [Update: Scott replies "IT'S RIGHT NEXT TO THE KALANCHOE!"]
  • eggplants--We had a lot of eggplants. Probably about 15 or 20 small to fist-sized vegetables that nearly all went bad. We just couldn't eat them fast enough largely because (drumroll please) I don't like eggplant. They are extremely entertaining to grow, but I can't cook them well for anything.


  • lantanas--Scott bought a lantana plant from the clearance table at Dierbergs. They were beautiful and produced abundant seeds.
  • avocado plant--grown from the pit of an avocado. It's probably going to die this winter. Avocado trees don't do well in the midwest.
  • zuccinni--Code Name, Zukethulu. We planted this in a topsy turvy and it thrived until, again, the movers stepped on it. The base of the plant rotted but the foilage continued to thrive and produce fruit. Unfortunately none of the fruit made it to full size. They wold reach about the size of a marker and then rot. We tried pruning back the leaves but that didn't help. One day it snapped at the base and that was the end of Zukethulu. 


  • sweet potato vines--bought on a whim and on sale. These vines grow like crazy. Halfway through their growing season I accidentally ripped them up and off their roots. I plopped it down on top of a pot full of dirt to dispose of later and it set up plenty of roots. I harvested 6 or 7 tubers for next year.
  • head lettuce--I bought 4 lettuce seedlings and grew 4 lettuce heads that tasted a lot like dirt. Disappointing and not a very exciting gardening experience.
  • pole beans--We never got enough beans to make a serving. What we did get was very tough without good flavor.
  • tomatillos--The tomatillos thrived with 2 plants in one pot until the temperatures dropped off. Unfortunately hey also spread out like crazy and threatened to take over half the balcony.This might be a better plant for ground planting than container gardening. 
  • spearmint--this didn't grow like it normally does. At the end of the season I normally pull the plant by the roots and dispose of it. This year I cut it back and am hoping for  a resurgence next year. 
  • lemon balm--we had a mega mid-season haul of lemon balm. I made a 24 ice-cubes and 6 half-pints of lemon balm syrup that are tasty but I will probably never use. It smells good in the garden, but it was only so-so in tea. The syrup is good, but how much does one family need? Unless we find some way to use it we probably won't plant more.
  • Radishes and carrots--I planted 3 batches of radishes and carrots and ended up pulling 3 batches of greens. For some reason the radishes just aren't producing anything but tops.
What we used:
We started with compost from Scott's parents garden. That has always worked for us. This year we mixed the compost with dirt from their garden and the soil proved too heavy and dense for the containers. It was just too clay like.

We bought some expensive Miracle Grow for container gardening. It has pellets in it to retain water, but I couldn't tell that it made much of a difference. At the end of the season we mixed regular top soil with manure (yuck). The dirt was dark, but it was too late in the season to tell if it made any difference to the rate of growth. We planted some radishes in it that had good foilage, but extremely shallow roots. I can't tell if that's because of the dirt, the seeds or the growing conditions. I'm not ready to discount the manure/top soil mixture yet. The best dirt we got was plain old potting soil from Rolling Ridge Nursery. It was also the cheapest.

We used some plant food when the nitrogen-sucking plants started turning yellow. We used it regularly for a few weeks and then promptly forgot all about it.


Wildlife:
I enjoyed fantasizing about shooting the squirrel that kept digging up our tender bulbs and stealing our tomatillos, but I let him live and bought a roll of chicken wire instead. I did run out and chase him off quite a bit. I started taking the cats on the balcony every morning when I knew Mr. Squirrel was around.

The birds were viscous with their poop. Their songs were pretty, but they liked to eat what the squirrel didn't and poop on our front door. The bird songs (and the fact that HELLO, nature!) kept me from complaining to the complex. I do think other neighbors must have complained about the mess, which was considerable. Either that or there was a massive bird migration at the beginning of the summer. Doesn't seem likely.

A few birds still came around, such as this amorous pair of love birds:



We had several visits from a hummingbird. Lovely!

Earlier this week we had a visit from this fat bird. That's not one of our love birds, is it? Sheesh!


We went through 2 bottles of Concern Multipurpose Insect Killer. The harmful bugs on our patio were vicious, but pretty. After only ever seeing whitefly or hornworms in our old apartment garden, the influx of very colorful insect life and spiders was entertaining for a few weeks. It stopped being entertaining when the garden started showing signs of serious damage.

Where we bought:

For the 3rd year in a row the best quality seedlings have come from Sappington Farmers Market. Chef Jeff's grew best for us, once again. We also bought seedlings from Westlake Ace Hardware, Sappington Garden, Rolling Ridge Nursery, Flower Box, Home Depot, Dierbergs and Target.

The Bounty:
  • 24 ice-cubes and 6 half-pints of lemon balm syrup
  • a sandwiched sized container of dried spearmint
  • about 40 small tomatillos--enough for a batch of salsa. I'm sad that the other few hundred fruits never reached maturity
  • maybe 10 pole beans
  • 4 heads of lettuce
  • 15 or 20 small to fist-sized eggplants
  • If we can get them to maturity we should have ~200 brussel sprouts
  • 10 or 15 cucumbers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 dozen or so jalepenos
  • 1 pablano pepper
  • 3 lemon-basil cakes, 20 servings of pesto (frozen in ice cube trays), and several meals consisting only of mozzarella, tomato and basil.
  • some herbs
and that's that. Have you ever read The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
? That's how I feel. The only plants that paid for themselves are the spicy basil, eggplants (if we had eaten them in time), jalepenos, cucumbers and brussels sprouts

Winter:
We're talking about experimenting with keeping our plants outside this year. There's talk of a building a little plastic tarp house for the avocado tree. We're getting a little too close to the end of the year to just now be thinking about what we can do with our plants. We've gotten as far as deciding they aren't coming in here. If we had an enclosed porch or a basement it wouldn't be an issue, but we don't.

Looking forward:
Next year we will be focusing on high yield plants that need less space to grow. We are also going to be focusing more on flowering plants in railing planters. I loved seeing the lush greens of our vegetable garden, but a little color would have broken up the monotony. I would like to replace the orange utility buckets we have used for tomatoes and cucumbers with something a little more attractive.

We need to be more efficient in how we use our space. We would like to replace many of our round containers with square containers. We would like to grow up instead of out, if we can do it without our patio taking on a jungle look.  We need to plan the patio out to maximize space.

With Scott traveling so much this year much of our produce went to waste. If he continues to travel then our vegetables should be ones that keep or freeze well. Another concern is how to keep water off of our neighbors heads. We use plastic trays right now but occasionally there is spill over.

We have lantana seeds from our garden, 4 o'clock and hyacinth bean seeds from my mother's garden, which was pretty impressive this year. All 3 are late bloomers, I think, so we'll need another plan for the spring plants. I would like to do brussel sprouts again, even if it isn't cool enough to grow them without taking on a bitter taste. The big thick leaves were beautiful. Basil and spearmint are a given. We would like to try some heirloom tomatoes. We may do a topsy turvy again, but only as an experiment. It is good idea in theory, but it seems like other peoples tomatoes did better in containers rather than in topsy turvys.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bullets!

  • I posted a few links about cashmere fiber herding practices and why I might not be carrying cashmere any more in the Dyeabolical blog.
  • What's with temperature? I think the way we measure temperature currently must be faulty. How can it be 73 degrees in here and still be so chilly when two months ago 73 degrees was barely cool enough to be tolerable? Aren't you freezing? You should knit a hat or some mittens to warm yourself up. Gratuitous self promotion aside, my fingers are so cold that I can't even think. Go buy a pattern from me and yarn from me and then knit me some mittens. Oh wait...no. That would be selfish. Go knit yourself something nice! Yeah, that's better. :)
  • For some reason Google Reader keeps deleting my contacts that I share links with. I'm sorry if I keep dropping and adding you back. I'm not sure what's up with it. If you use Google Reader feel free to add me. I'm under the name stlrachelknits, you can click the handy new box of links on the right of my blog or you can add it to your blog reader.
  • We washed the winter socks this weekend. I rediscovered these socks:
Patriotic socks
and their hole:
...with a hole
That hole makes me so damn mad. It reminds me of our old apartment, which made me damn mad on a regular basis. The spike strip of tack heads leading in to the kitchen was probably the least annoying thing about that apartment, but it ripped my socks and it pisses me off every time I forget and try to put them on. So I guess, instead of just rediscovering my patriotic socks I also rediscovered my seething rage that we were stuck in that apartment that final year. Scott, on the other hand, rediscovered these...
Obnoxious
...the first pair of sock-like things I ever knit. I really wish he hadn't found them. I really really wish he wouldn't insist on wearing them. They're huge:
Large
No, really. I mean huge:
Hat?
It's embarrassing. He also won't pitch the fuzzy acrylic scarf I crocheted for him 10 years ago. He tells people I made both the slippers and the scarf. He won't accept a replacement scarf or slippers when he has perfectly hideous and functional ones he's still using. My pleas for him to consider my knitterly reputation before wearing those awful slippers or wearing that brillo-looking scarf have fallen on deaf ears.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bellies

I have been trying to pick out a new cardigan pattern for 2 weeks now. The ones I love the most are the ones that button at the top and swing free at the bottom. I'm torn on empire waist pullovers, too. On the one hand, they are cute. They fit my body type very well. When I see people wearing them they seem to say "Hey, look at my belly! I'm comfortable with who I am! Bellies are cute!"

On the other hand, empire waists, babydolls and cutaways can, according to belly haters the fashion elite, make virtually anyone look pregnant. And you know what? I think I might be okay with that. I look pregnant anyway regardless of what I weigh. I have a picture of me as a pre-teen that looks like I'm 4 months in.

When preparing this blog post I did a search for "makes you look pregnant" and found a web page from a man who, in his ever helpful way, said flat out that gathered dresses and empire waists make women look pregnant. A woman who looks pregnant, writes the ever so helpful author, makes him lose his erection. If I may make one comment about that article--Bring on the maternity wear.

What is the pregnant "look" besides having a belly? We've spent generations trying to hide the fact that we have curvy flesh underneath our busts. We don't buy and wear expensive bras to make our busts look bigger. We buy them to make our waists look smaller. I'm done with it. I like bellies. I like the confidence of people who have bellies and aren't trying to hide them under giant t-shirts. Hey, if people can find clothes that fit, then more power to them. I certainly have a hard time finding clothes that fit me well.

It's hard being a fat girl with a belly. No, scratch that. It's hard being an extended sizes fat girl with a belly. Clothing manufacturers started to make extended sizes a few years ago, which is great, but most of those new larger clothes are for big busts, narrow waists and big hips--the classic hourglass. Us apples squeezed in to them anyway because otherwise we'd go naked or have to wear puffy-sleeved mumus with elastic necklines because our heads were so fat we needed elastic to get our clothes on. Ahem. And let us not even get in to low-riding jeans, okay? I'm not ignorant of the giant muffin top problem. What else are you going to wear when there are only 2 jeans manufacturers who make your size? Choose one--a low-rider that muffin tops or a low-rider that muffin tops and gaps in back showing off your overpriced Torrid underpants that fall apart after 2 washings? And again I say, Ahem!

I didn't mean to go on this particular rant when I started this blog post. As I started to write about how much I wanted to knit these cardigans but was concerned about the "might look pregnant" problem, I realized something. I don't really care what some mythical fashion elite douche thinks about the sweater I knit. Neither should anyone else. We're knitters. Most non-knitters don't get us anyway, especially among fashion writers. They call knitting grandmotherly (what the hell is wrong with that?) and unfashionable while, at the same time, sending couture fashions down the runway that have been pulled straight from the pages of Interweave Knits. Hell, I bought a cardigan last week that is a total Whisper knock-off. And those big giant knitted cowls that came down the runway last year? Haute couture didn't start that trend. Knitters on Etsy did.

Why the hell are we (the less bold and the less confident, aka me), letting the collective voices of the "fashion experts" in to our head to tell us what we should and shouldn't be wearing or knitting? I think I will cast on for a "makes me look pregnant" sweater today. I'll wear it proudly just like all my other less concerned, cooler, more confident knitter friends do. Because you know what? It may not be "fashionable" but it is making a statement. Here's the statement that I'm going to make--This here? It's my belly. It deserves to be warm and comfortable, too.

And really, maybe I'm not a bold trendsetter, but my our fellow knitters and indie designers are. They're trendsetters even if I'm not, and by looking at what's coming down the runway? I think the fashion elite think our community are trendsetters, too.

Whew. I had no idea this is where I was going when I started this blog post.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What's knittin'

  • Over the last few days I have put a few designs up on Ravelry, including the Tamberet (a tam/beret that precious skein of handspun!), Whimsy Hat (wheee!), and All Hands On Deck (top-down mittens for all sizes in all weights of yarn). More information can be found over in my other blog. Great big thank yous to Deborah, Becky, Tammie, Fiona, Marilin and Kara for looking over the patterns.
Photography by Sungazing Photography (www.sungazingphotography.com)
  • I pulled out trusty Barbara Walker a few weeks ago and worked up this hat out of Lamb's Pride yarn for a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society silent auction at a local pub. The decreases were a little bit tricky, but worth it. Non-knitting attendees seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the design. I wrote notes down as I went. The only tricky part was the decreasing. I'm considering writing it up as a multi-size pattern just for the experience in pattern writing.



  • I promised myself that I would knit myself a pair of socks from the Tofutsi sock yarn that was a gift from Deborah nearly a year ago. Then earlier this week Scott called from on the road and was freezing, so I pushed the Tofutsis aside and cast on for the Tadpole pattern (link is a pdf file) in my Old Jeans colorway. A travelin' man needs warm socks.
Some of the finished socks on Ravelry looked a little tight, so I added 4 extra stitches. I did a 4-stitch purl ditch in the center of the motif instead of the 2-stitches called for. Technically the Tadpole pattern is a lace motif. To keep it from being lacy I knit all the yarn overs through the back loop. I knit the entire cuff in a single evening and I didn't even work that hard, which means this might be my new favorite pattern ever.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Strange Folk Wrap Up

Strange Folk was awesome, but exhausting. For two days people validated my career and color choices. What's not to love about that?
Saturdays table
Saturdays table

We had a good mix of vendors across from us--Claudia's Burning Ink, Pasties by Michelle (you heard me) and a jewelry maker whose name I'm forgetting. I'm sorry. We didn't get any pasties, but were highly amused by the pastie sales techniques employed. We bought a gnome hat and traded for this really awesome bag with Claudia:
This is a Kineared picture of the gnome vendor who completely charmed me
(I Kinneared Claudia in her gnome hat)
Bag I traded for
(Awesome Marvel bag on a very messy desk)

and bought 6 soaps from Tom the soap maker from the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois. [Tom, if you are reading this, can you email me? I forgot to get your address and wanted to get that pattern to you. ] I cannot speak highly enough about the Artisan Guild. I have spoken about them before and how much I want to join them for some of their meetings. Unfortunately our lives have worked out that I can't make it out to Illinois for Thursday meetings even though it is only a 30 minute drive. Dang it. But you should go. They are amazing people.


Of the few pictures I managed to take this past weekend, this is my favorite. It's not only my favorite, but it's also the ONLY picture I took at my booth that had people in it.
Crazy customers and friends
Here is a picture Monte took of Scott and I. It's one of those rare pictures where I both look like how I really look and am pleased not horrified at how I look in the picture. If you notice, most of the pictures of myself in this blog are carefully cropped. In my head we still look like this. It's always a little startling to realize that it's been 11 years and that time didn't stand still.

I have to apologize for getting everyones hopes up about the funnel cakes. It must have been an old vendor list or maybe they canceled at the last minute? I never did find out what happened. My sister left me this comment regarding the funnel cakes on my facebook page "Your self-inflicted shame makes my job a lot easier". Ah, sisters. :)