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Archive for April, 2008

It’s been a rough week so far.

I arrived at work on Monday to a frantic e-mail from my friend Miss R. She’s a writer and new knitter and I got her started on her very first project . . . no, not a garter-stitch scarf, but the short-row intensive Ruffles Scarf from Scarf Style . . . which she worked in mohair. MOHAIR!!! For a lesser knitter or lesser human being this would be a recipe for disaster but somehow Miss R. just figured it out and churned out a beautiful scarf in a matter of days. Her next project: a sweater for herself, which she plowed through and finished last week.

So I was heartsick for her when I got her e-mail saying that while trying to block her sweater it had become “shrunk, fuzzy and unwearable.” She’d put it in the washing machine on “delicate” and machine washed it . . . and of course, it felted. So much careful time and trouble and cost, and now her first sweater was all but ruined. She was demoralized, and even confessed to me that she put all her knitting supplies up on eBay. I felt terrible for her, and terrible for myself, faced as I was with the prospect of losing a knitting buddy.

It was also The Baron’s birthday, and although we celebrated, the day started off at 7 am as the construction crew arrived with their power tools and got to work (our yard is having a mini-face lift). Even worse, they asked us to move our cars out of the driveway (no biggie, right) and as usual when I tried to start The Baron’s car it totally died on me. The engine turns over, catches, starts, then just dies. After this happens once or twice it won’t even start but just makes a pathetic, angry chugging sound. So he had to get out of bed, throw on some clothes and give it a try himself. No luck. Of course, after the car rested for about 20 minutes, he was able to start it up just fine on the first try. It’s me — I think his car is jealous of me and only likes it when I’m in the passenger seat. Birthdays are hard for both of us, and it was a rough start to a tough day.

Then the next day I had a horrible fight with my boss.  Long story, but we’ve worked together for years and I’ve had his back forever and finally I just had to ask “what’s in it for me . . . ?”  Then . . . crickets.  Yeah.  Work really sucks sometimes.

I’m at the button-band ribbing for my Tangled Yoke Cardigan (yay!) but I really want to do it right and I’m trying to pick up the right number of stitches and do it evenly and I keep screwing up and I just want it to be nice for my stepmom and also nice for me because It’s my first grown-up sweater and I’m a bit (just a bit!) compulsive.  Wah!

As Alexander says, some days are like that, even in Australia.

Just as I’m getting to the point where I feel really, REALLY sorry for myself, I get an e-mail about my cousins and the incredible trials they are going through.  On Sunday, Emily Le Van is going to run in the Olympic Marathon trials in Boston.  Yes.  Marathon.  Olympics.  I can’t even imagine walking 20 miles in a day, to say nothing of running even farther while being timed.  But what makes it really challenging is that Brad and Emily’s 4 year old daughter Maddie is struggling with Leukemia.  Maddie is going through a difficult treatment and she’s a very brave girl who is, so far, doing well.  Together the family is blogging about their Two Trials on their website, where they are also raising money for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.  Since Emily and Maddie are each running a marathon of sorts, they are hoping to raise a thousand dollars per mile — a total of $52,400 (26.2 miles per marathon, times two marathons).

There’s nothing like looking at true strength and true hardship in the face of life’s petty annoyances.  Suddenly my everyday troubles (felting, remodeling, picking up stitches, car trouble) seem like the smallest of gentle waves on a sea that can easily become fatally stormy.  Theirs is an inspiring story, and if you’re reading this I strongly encourage you to go check it out.  If you like Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News is running a piece on Emily and her family as part of their Olympics coverage tonight or tomorrow.

If you can donate, please do.  If you can’t but still want to help in the fight against cancer, please consider enrolling in the American Cancer Society’s CPS-3 Study.  If nothing else, please read their story, take a deep breath and count your blessings, and then pass the story on.

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Wow . . . just . . . wow

In case anyone is looking for a new project, check out these body-technology interfaces, pointed out to me by our office’s IT guy. Clearly I am known the world over as an insane knitter.

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Summer reading

I always loved reading as a kid, but I dreaded the summer reading assignments. Somehow it always made reading feel like homework instead of fun. It wasn’t until the year that a teacher introduced “free reading” time into the classroom that reading started to be fun all the time. As I’ve gotten older school (an English major) and then work (reading endless piles of scripts) devoured most of my “free reading” time. Until I discovered audiobooks as a companion to knitting and commuting, I was largely without fiction, a sad way to be.

Thank goodness I’ve rediscovered the joy of the local library! It’s given me fodder for my reply to Mick’s meme:

1. What book are you currently reading?

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. See below, but this is an open-anywhere-and-start-reading staple. I had a fat stack of audiobooks that I finished just a few days ago.

Among them: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME (wonderful), THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (so-so), and LOOKING FOR ALASKA (which was a fun teenage kind of read and took me back to my boarding-school days.)

2. When you think of a good story, what are the first three books that come to mind?

I like the sprawling epic, and one of my tests for favorite books are ones that I can pull off the shelf, open to anywhere, and just get immediately pulled in. These include GONE WITH THE WIND, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, LITTLE WOMEN, and POSSESSION.

“Good story” is a hard question though, because I find that story is often not completely connected to good writing and that good writing can breathe life into a story that is relatively simple. A great example: THE CORRECTIONS. The story is sort of all over the place, even though it tracks a single family in great detail it roams across time and geography, but the writing is so vibrant and just kick-in-the-gut powerful that I’ve officially declared THE CORRECTIONS one of my all-time favorite books.

When I think of a good story, the first thing that comes to mind is Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery. Bottom line, that story scared me to death as a kid and I try not to think about it too much! I also think ROMEO & JULIET is a classic story, but I’m a Shakespeare junkie.

3. What 3 books would you recommend for summer beach reading?

Only three?!? For beach reading, its got to be a story that’s all about the story and it has to have a happy ending. I like the young-woman-coming-of-age kinds of stories — I think EMMA is my prototype here. I liked PREP and SAMMY’S HILL and THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. That’s the kind of stuff I like for vacation reading — something light and happy that you can dive into and then just let drift out of your mind.

4. Any knitting books you care to share?

I’m slowly discovering the Barbara Walker Treasuries and they are AWESOME. I don’t think I’ll ever be a designer, but I love the huge variety of patterns!

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Married life so far is wonderful — lots of cozy evenings cuddled up watching Mary Tyler Moore on netflix means lots of knitting time. So while I’ve been a bad blogger (no cookie!) I have been a good knitter. The Tangled Yoke Cardigan for my stepmom is almost done. I just have the collar and button band to finish (I’m inspired by smrjunior’s sweater with ribbon sewn into the button band so I might give ribbon a try) and I hope to be done in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I’ve started a pair of fingerless mitts for Adorable — I’m going to try and make up a pattern, so stay tuned for that . . .

In other news, Mick, the very good knitter AND blogger (she’s got me beat on both counts in spite of me being bored at work and her being busy-busy with grad school) tagged me for a meme about books. Like Mick, I have to ponder for a day or two before answering . . . but how exciting! Me, tagged for a meme!

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