Monday, December 19, 2005

2005: A Year in Review

Oh 2005, what a year you've been. In many ways, you have managed to both suck and blow at the same time. But the last 12 months haven't been all bad. There may have been a silver lining or two in there. In order to truly evaluate the year, I'm going to do what any self-respecting VH1 afficianado would do: I'm going to make a list. So, *drumroll, please* I give you, The Best and Worst of Sara's Life in 2005.

The Worst.

4. Interminable job search in Bay Area. Talk about a soul-sucking process. "Hi, I know you have years of experience in this exact field, but we're going to string this out for months, interview you multiple times, and then never tell you why we decided to go with another candidate."

3. Suckiness of job (pre-2005 - 3/05). Let me tell you, my job was awful from, say mid-2003 to the early part of this year. Most of that suckiness was due to internal politics and really bad bosses (from the merely disinterested to the actively sabotaging).

2. Mega-fight with Richard during New Mexico vacation. Serious mega-fight, to the point that, for about 15 seconds, I thought we might actually split. It all boiled down to the fact that we weren't really communicating, and we were so busy with the 18 million extraneous things in our lives that kept us apart.

1. Death of Brent, my dear friend Carrie's boyfriend. Unexpectedly passing away at age 29, two days after they moved in together. Sucked ass and still does.

But, to accentuate the positive, here is The Best.

5. Work! That may seem a bit weird, but actually, since April, when I got a new boss who actually respects my opinion and expertise and makes an effort to understand and appreciate what I do, things here have been really good.

4. LA! We love it! Actually I do love Los Angeles, and this year, after all the suckiness of the job search, we decided to stay. It was a hard decision to make, but I think it was the correct one. And having a firm decision helped reduce a lot of the tension and uncertainty that was causing us stress.

3. Baby Maggie! This is the year that welcomed baby Margaret Allison Carriles into the world on October 21. Congratulations and many hugs to new parents Allison F. & Ignacio!

2. Weddings! Oh my god, this was the year when everyone, their mother & second cousin Hilda, decided to get married. Kirsten & Dave (May 14), Christa & Jeff R. (June 11), Ryan & Sara (July 30) and Allison K. & Jeff S. (August 20). Congratulations to you all!

1. Friends! This year has shown me, more than ever, what amazing friends (old & new) I have.

1a. My Stitch n Bitch friends got me through the awful tedium of the sucky job and the equally sucky job search. Without their support, I would have cracked (or at least had way more fights with Rich). And getting to see them every week makes staying in LA all the more attractive.

1b. I realized just how much I love my girlfriends up in the Bay: Carrie, Allison F., Christa & Elizabeth. When Brent died, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach -- not because I even knew him that well, but because I ached for what it meant for Carrie. We all pulled together to try to offer her as much support as we could, even when all we could do was sit up with her, crying and drinking too much red wine and smoking too many cigarettes. And with Christa's wedding and Allison's pregnancy (and birth of Baby Maggie), we got to share some good times, too. One of my regrets about choosing to stay in LA rather than moving up to the Bay is that I'm staying farther away from these ladies.

1c. My college friends are pretty cool, too. And even though almost every one of them has moved away from LA, this year allowed us to have quite a few opportunities to get together. Ryan & Sara's wedding in Seattle was not only beautiful, but it gave us a reason to hang out and generally, be really silly (of course, it also provided the impetus to create Screech, the Scary Owl!). And seeing so many people in Seattle motivated us to hold our annual Friend's Thanksgiving in Utah, which introduced us all to entire Reng family (Katie, Ben's wife whom I hadn't seen in 5 years, Nichole, who is now almost 6 years old and was not even 1 when I saw her last, and Jason, age 4, Natie, age 2, and Hope, age 2 months, all of whom I'd never met before).

So there you have it, proof that while 2005 was partially sucky, there were some bright spots, too. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday (only 6 crafting days until Christmas and only 7 until Hanukkah!), and that in 2006, the bright spots outweigh the sucky parts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

TMI, and then crochet, I promise

First things first. This is your official warning that this post may be TMI (too much information) for some readers. If you are squeamish about "female issues," you may want to skip down.

Things that suck about no longer being on the Pill:
1. Cramps. They're back! When I was on the Pill, I very rarely had cramps. Now they're here, and they've decided to settle in my lower back. Fun!
2. Aunt Flo is a heavy lady.
3. Aunt Flo stays longer than she used to. I wish she would just leave already.
4. Every strange internal twinge makes me wonder "am I pregnant?" Even if it was just indigestion ("a bit of mustard," in honor of the season)

Things that don't suck about no longer being on the Pill (yes, I know that's a lot of negatives for one sentence):
1. Not having to remember to take that damn pill every day (although I do have to remember the pre-natal vitamins)
2. Not having to experience that icky queasy feeling when I'd have to take two pills at once (because I'd forgotten a day)

3. Not having to worry about whether forgetting 3 pills during the month is enough to get me knocked up. Apparently, it's not. At least not for me.

Ok, that's enough. This officially ends the TMI portion of this post.

Onto the craftiness. So I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on my mom's sweater. I was "inspired" by this sweater I saw in the Anthropologie catalog:
I decided to crochet my version, rather than knit, mainly because I'm a better and faster crocheter. My version is basically three pieces: 1 piece worked sideways for the body, and 2 pieces worked vertically for the bust/sleeves. I chose to do my version in a simple single/double crochet combo (Ellen, is that the granite stitch? I can never remember).

I'm doing it 2-stranded, using a light blue faux mohair and a silver rayon cord, and it's turning out quite nicely. Pictures will come if I ever find my charger for my camera (or just buy a new one). I think I'm going to use a big pearl white vintage button from my collection for the closure.

I hope my mom likes it. I wonder (all the time) whether recipients of my homemade gifts actually wear them. I don't live near most of the people I make gifts for, so I don't really know. I guess that's not really the point, though.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Merry F@$&!*g Christmas

Yes Virginia, there is Christmas in Los Angeles. There is even snow, sort of. Yes, as Julia, Brantlea & I were exiting the movie theater at The Grove yesterday (after seeing Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire -- fantastic!), we noticed something... strange. Out of the ordinary. Unusual. There was this random white stuff falling from the sky in little puffs. Just about anywhere else in the country, that white stuff would be snow, but here in L.A., it is foam. On the rooftops of the shops, foam machines were pumping little bits into the air. I guess they've been doing this for the last few years, but since I normally avoid malls during the holidays like the plague, I'd never seen it. People were gawking, gazing in wonderment at the fake snow. I admit, it was kind of fun, in a so-cheesy-it-can't-be-real, L.A. Story kind of way.

We bought our Christmas tree last night. When it comes to trees, I take the nostalgic route. The tree must maintain its relative mass and height to when I was 8 years old. So, when I was 8, and about 4 ft tall (give or take), and we had a 6 ft tree, it seemed huge. Of course, we lived in a 1960s tract home with low ceilings, so it seemed sky high. Now, being 30, and 5'5" (give or take), and living in a 1930s apartment on the top floor with 10ft ceilings, said tree must be a bit larger. That sucker better be at least 7 1/2 ft tall. So living in central LA, that annual trek to the Christmas tree lot is not going to be cheap. And how much did we spend on that tree?

$75. For a basic 7 1/2 ft Douglas Fir (not even getting near the fancy Nobles). Believe me, they went much higher in price, but I couldn't bring myself to shell out $95 for a tree that will be dead in a few weeks. Call it a matter of principle.

Getting the tree into that 1930s apartment is always a bit of a challenge. After spending now 9 Christmases in the apartment, we've got it down to a science. Wrap the tree in plastic (those Christmas tree disposal bags work well) before carting it into the building. By working together, Richard & I can squeeze the tree & one person into the elevator (the tiny one with the cute grate you have to pull across). Then the other person runs up to the 4th floor to open the elevator door (since the 1st person is squeezed against the elevator wall and can't reach the door). We then have the challenge of manuvering a 7 1/2 ft long tree into the apartment, which opens the onto a wall and you have to turn an immediate left into a very narrow hallway. Somehow, we manage not to knock down every picture frame (especially not my prized possession -- the "Vote Willie Nelson for President in 2004" poster). Then we place the tree in the old-fashioned tree stand (the one with the screws that drill into the tree trunk and kill my fingers). Then we pull the plastic bag off, which has mostly contained the needles and assorted naturey stuff that falls off the tree.

Sounds great, right? Until, that is, I squeeze around the tree to put the light up, and the tree falls over. We unscrew the stand, rescrew, and it falls over again. The tree actually fell over 3 times last night. We finally took the tree out of the stand and realised that the stand has been banged around so much that it's not straight anymore. FYI, by the time we saw this, it was about 10:05 p.m. So Richard heads over to Target (where we saw nice, shiny tree stands on Saturday) and of course, they are out of them. When Rich gets back at about 11 p.m. (he had to circle looking for parking, since Monday is a street cleaning day, i.e. on one side of the street you have to move your car by 8 a.m.), he has to fish the old stand out of the dumpster and we have to carefully jury-rig the tree in the stand so it doesn't fall over before we can track down a new stand.

So Santa, if you're reading this, please let Richard find a new stand at the Target by his office today. Don't let my $75 tree die before Christmas. I need something to remind me that it is Christmas time, even in L.A. And it needs to be something less cheesy than foam snow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tag! You're it!

Ok, the whole internets has been tagged by Crazy Aunt Purl, and since I'm going to ask her to look into my astrological chart, and I don't want her to foresee rampant destruction, raping, pillaging & looting in my future, I think it's best to appease.

TEN random things you might not know about me.
1. I have unbelievably weak ankles. Seriously, I've sprained my ankles (right and left) a combined total of 20+ times in my life. And I'm only 30 years old, so you do the math.
2. I have ugly feet. Very wide (say, D width), and my second toe is longer than my big toe. Plus, they are generally deformed looking from 7 years of dancing ballet on pointe.
3. My first real job was teaching ballet. You wouldn't think it to look at me, but from age 15-18, I spent almost every Saturday getting 2-8 year olds to point their toes.
4. I am insanely ticklish.
5. I am addicted to lip balm. Benefit's Lip Tint is good when I want some color, but the best all-around lip balm EVER is the Walgreen's special: Cococare's Cocoa Butter Lip Balm in the yellow tube.
6. I never pictured myself meeting the love of my life at age 18. In high school, I always thought I'd be a Miranda: career focused, ruthless single girl type. And then, first semester of college, I meet Richard, who sweeps me off my feet. And who, 12 years later, still makes me weak at the knees.
7. I misspelled the word "calendar" in the 4th grade spelling bee. Pathetic.
8. I obsess for YEARS over the stupid and inappropriate things that come out of my mouth.
9. I hate doing laundry. It wouldn't be so bad if I had my own washer & dryer, but I have to go into the basement to use the coin operated ones, and I just can't be bothered.
10. I am a sci-fi nerd. I am obsessed with the new Battlestar Galactica and I have read every book in the MageWorlds series. Bet that one surprised you!

NINE places I've visited
1. Rome
2. Florence
3. Playa del Carmen
4. Honolulu
5. New York City
6. Washington D.C.
7. Lake Tahoe!
8. New Mexico (Alburquerque, Santa Fe, Taos)
9. Tennessee (Nashville, Gatlinburg, Memphis)

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1. Make me dinner. The way to my heart is definitely through food.
2. Get along with my family. They may be crazy, but they're mine.
3. Have good spelling and punctuation. Ever since the "calendar" incident, nothing makes me crazier than using "it's" when it should have been "its."
4. Do my laundry. One year, Richard paid to take all my dirty laundry to a cleaning service for my birthday. Best present ever.
5. Go to flea markets with me.
6. PIE! Or cobbler. Or brown betty, buckle or bundt. I love me some fruity desserts.
7. Foot massage. Richard is the only person ever to touch my feet and not tickle them. I can't even get pedicures because I can't stop giggling, but for some reason, Richard gives good foot rubs.
8. Kitty love. When I'm feeling down, nothing beats having Deano or Doyle crawl up in my lap to snuggle.

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1. Take a photo safari to Africa with my dad.
2. Read the final Harry Potter book. If I die before I find out how it all ends, I'll be very upset.
3. Spend as much time as possible at Lake Tahoe, my favorite place in the world.
4. Get my parents to talk to each other like normal people.
5. Become a good enough seamstress so that I can create any clothing item I can dream up.
6. Have kids. We're moving towards that, but I'm not counting any chickens yet.
7. Enjoy the life that I have every day.

SIX things I'm afraid of
1. Cockroaches.
2. Losing Richard.
3. Losing my family.
4. Losing my friends.
5. People realising I'm not as smart as I pretend I am.
6. Not being able to have kids. I've spent the last 13 years trying not to get pregnant. What if, now that I want to, I can't?

FIVE things I don't like
1. Laundry, but I already said that.
2. Broccoli.
3. Maraschino cherries.
4. Cotton candy.
5. Poor grammar! (and anyone who reads though my blog entries and points out all the mistakes I've made)

FOUR ways to turn me off
1. Criticize my cats.
2. Be insensitive.
3. Blow smoke through your nose. (Richard used to smoke and the brown spots he'd get under his nose were so gross)
4. Wear inappropriate footwear. No open-toed shoes with nylons! No man sandals at formal weddings!

THREE things I do every day
1. Oversleep. Seriously, I roll out of bed at about 8:15 a.m., 8:40 if I'm not taking a shower. My work day is supposed to start at 8:30 a.m., but I'm lucky if I'm here by 9:10 a.m.
2. Wear at least one thing I've made. If I'm wearing a completely store bought outfit, it just feels wrong, somehow.
3. Wear lip balm. I'm addicted, I tell you.

TWO things that make me happy
1. Getting compliments on things I've made. I know I make things because I like them, and not so they please others, but it's still nice to get a compliment.
2. Egg nog. Best part about the extended Christmas season (Oct. 20 - Jan. 6)

ONE thing on my mind right now
1. How much work I'm avoiding right now.

OK, Aunt Purl, I'm done. Anyone else feel like giving this one a whirl?

Monday, November 28, 2005

long time no post

First, let me tell you that I am ectstatic that I don't have to leave LA for 3 1/2 weeks. This summer & fall were non-stop travel (SF, San Jose, Lake Tahoe, San Jose, Seattle, Camp, Dallas, Bike Tour, New Mexico, San Jose, Salt Lake City, New York, Kingsburg, Paso Robles). My cats were ready to sue for neglect (not true, we have pet sitters, but they still aren't happy with us). But now, I'm parking myself in LA and not leaving until Christmas.

New York was fabulous. Cold (highs in the mid-40s), but fab. Good food (Les Halles, Kitchen 82 and Thalia all were yummy) helped. I did go to the Museum at FIT and it was very cool to see some of the fantastic pieces from FIT's permanent collection. This museum will always be at the top of my list of places to visit when in NYC.

We also hit the Met and spent all day there, but of course only saw a fraction of the exhibits. We spent a lot of time downstairs in the Costume Institute and their exhibit: Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection. This exhibit was a fascinating look at how a woman with real... hutpah, let's call it, has collected pieces from couture fashion, primitive art, flea market finds, and puts it together to become truly a fashion trailblazer. She is more than Jackie O. or Audrey Hepburn or another famous rich woman who served as mannequin for a designer to display their collection. It was amazingly inspiring.

We also visited the Museum of Natural History, mostly to see the dinosaurs. I always feel weird in natural history museums, mostly because they are collections of taxidermied animals that I could see alive at a good zoo or aquarium. But we did see the Darwin exhibit, which was fascinating, especially in light of the ridiculous intelligent design "debate." While finishing the exhibit, we saw Dr. Ruth! She was getting a special walk-through with a museum staffer, so we hung back and listened.

Got back from New York and it was Thanksgiving all of a sudden. We spend it with Rich's family up in Kingsburg, CA, a tiny burg about 20 minutes south of Fresno. My dad joined us and we had a huge spread of turkey, ham, tri-tip, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, asparagus, homemade tangerine-cranberry sauce (the asparagus & cranberry sauce were my contributions to the dinner), chocolate cake, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and apple pie. It was overwhelming. And fantastic.

On Saturday, Rich & I drove out to Paso Robles to meet my friend Carrie, whose parent retired there last year. She needed to escape the extended family, so we went wine tasting. We might have tasted a *few* wines. Here's the rundown:
Summerwood Winery
Peachy Canyon Winery
Hunt Cellars -- our favorite of Saturday. Every wine was amazingly tasty.
Dover Canyon
Opolo Vineyards
Norman Vineyards

Caparone Winery -- our favorite of Sunday. Unusual grapes made for rich tasting wines.
Rabbit Ridge
Locatelli Vineyards
Pretty-Smith Vineyards -- another favorite. Really small (the woman pouring our wines was the owner/winemaker/label artist!) but tasty.

We left with 13(!) bottles, some appropriate for intimate fancy dinners, while others I'd break out for WeHo SnB (get ready for some smooth drinkin' wine, ladies!).

And now, I can enjoy the next 3 1/2 weeks in LA. Stitch n Bitch, Yarn Lady sale (depending on finances), Bazaar Bizarre, parties, and most importantly, time at home on the couch!

Monday, November 14, 2005

hot time, November in the city?

Ok, it is now November 14, I purchased my first Starbucks eggnog latte of the season, and here in LA, it is supposed to get to 80 degrees. Up to 90 degrees in the Valley. I know that it's Southern California, and we are blessed with fantastic weather, but when November arrives, I want a chill. The high should be around 68 degrees, with a low of about 50 degrees. If I were a true Angeleno, I'd break out the scarf with the tank top, the Ugg boots and the shorts. But I just can't do it. It just feels like cheating.

I did get to wear my fabulous mohair cowl neck sweater yesterday, as we were in Salt Lake City for the weekend. I know, SLC isn't exactly known as a hopping weekend destination, especially for the non-LDS and non-skier. But we have friends (and their 4 kids) there whom we haven't seen in a very long time, so a bunch of college friends from all over the West Coast flew in to cook a great "Friends Thanksgiving" meal and spend time together. It was very fun. We had a great time, and a huge meal: corn casserole, glazed carrots, jello salad, twice baked potatoes, orange cranberries, turkey, stuffing, gravy, apple pie, pimpkin roll & chocolate fudge pie. Is it really tryptophane that makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving, or is it the 3500 calories that you ingested in a 45-minute period?

Made quite a bit of progress on the afghan for Friend #1. I'd say I was walmost done, but I'm not sure if it's big enough. I may need to buy more yarn. We'll see.

Rich is currently up in the air on his way to NYC. I leave to meet him on Wednesday, our 3rd wedding anniversary. We're having dinner at Les Halles, the French bistro made famous by Anthony Bourdain, Les Halles' exec chef who wrote "Kitchen Confidential" and "A Cook's Tour." We also picked up tickets to Spamalot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Of note to sewers, the museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) is opening a new permanent exhibit: the Fashion & Textile History Gallery. It opens tomorrow, and sounds amazing. I'm so excited to see it. Pictures will come when I get back.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

take that, Govahnatoh!

Hurrah! Arnold's propositions went down in flames! I've been doing the happy dance all morning, once it was confirmed that all the props went down. It was touch and go on the parental notification of a teen's abortion proposition and the one that would have made public unions get permission each and every year from members to use dues for political contributions.

Maybe now Arnold will actually have to govern from the middle (like he promised to do when he was elected) rather than pander to the right. Maybe he'll actually have to make compromises with the legislature, rather than just "take it to the people." You know what? The people elected the legislature. They are our representatives. Deal with them, rather than taking every little issue back to us. Nobody wanted this election, Arnie, besides you and your special interest financial backers. So guess what? You just caused the state to waste $50 million on an election in which you got bitch-slapped. And you're complaining that the state spends $1.10 for every $1 it brings in? Maybe if you would do your job, and negotiate in good faith, you and the legislature would be able to fix things.

P.S. Arnie, good luck in your upcoming negotiations with the public employee unions (police, nurses, etc.). You know, those same groups you accused of highjacking the political process? Yeah, have fun with that. I'm sure they'll just forgive and forget how you smeared them and called them ugly names.

P.S.S. Sometimes, every once in a while, it feels good to be a Democrat and have the joy of winning. I haven't had the opportunity to feel this way in a while, and I'm sure it won't last (Phil Angelides and Steve Westley, really? Is that the best we can do?), but I'll just enjoy it while it does.

Monday, November 07, 2005

everybody hurts, sometimes

And now I hurt, more specifically, my neck hurts. Yes, I legitimately have a pain in my neck. I was sewing last night, and dropped a spool of thread behind my sewing cabinet. I got down on the floor and reached behind the cabinet, twisting my neck in the process, and it hurts like a mo-fo. I put a Thermacare wrap on it and slept with it on last night, and it's better this morning, but it's still not good. So while I'm looking cute in my new yellow top that I finished last night, I'm stiffly walking around like Frankenstein's monster. ME NEED DR-UUU-GG-SSS NN-OOO-WW.

I had my mom, stepdad & sister down this weekend to see the King Tut exhibit. It was good, but very crowded and there were only 50 pieces in the whole show. I saw way more Egyptian artifacts at the Met in New York and the Vatican Museums in Rome (Vatican City really, but come on...) So it was worthwhile, but not earth-shattering.

The other big news from this weekend is that we decided not to pursue the apartment we had been looking at in West Hollywood. It was really cute, in a great location, had a pool and exactly 1 floor down from my good friend, Faith. But it was at the top end of our price range, and didn't have absolutely everything we were looking for (no central air, no laundry in the unit, and biggest for me -- no private outdoor space). I don't know if we'll ever really find a place with everything we're looking for, but I just want to wait until it really feels right.

Friday, November 04, 2005


In a riff on Miss Kendra's post, I'm going to write about depression this morning. And yet, I'm not depressed. I'm chipper, actually. I feel like I'm in a good place emotionally, semi-stable place financially, and a postive place work-wise.

Not that I've never been depressed. I've been through short-term therapy twice, the first time in college while my parents were getting divorced, and the second about a year-and-a-half ago when work was very stressful, I couldn't find a new job, and I felt it was impacting my relationship with Richard. I've never been on any mood-enhancing drugs, although most members of my family have, to their benefit.

So why am I writing about depression? Lately, I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop in my life. Like things are going really well, relatively, and so something crappy must be on its way. Rich & I had a huge, knock-down, drag-out fight/discussion/tear-fest in Taos last month that could have ended very badly, but, luckily for all parties involved, it didn't. That was the worst thing that has happened to me in a long time. But I've watched some of my friends go through difficult times this year: my dear friend's boyfriend (whom she had just moved in with 2 days before) died unexpectedly; another friend just had a baby 4 weeks premature, and she struggled emotionally until her baby was able to come home from the hospital.

And yet, I feel good. Not about those bad things that have happened to friends, but about my life in general. How long can someone be happy? Isn't life cyclical? Isn't that what we tell people who are going through tough times, "it's got to get better?" So is the reverse true? Does it have to get worse? A
nd am I just being a self-involved idiot for looking at my happy-go-lucky life and trying to plumb some angst and sympathy? Am I just like some pampered suburban teenager in black who complains about how awful life is when everything has been handed to them on a silver plate?

I'm not going to complain about how great I feel in general. It's a good thing, and I should just hold onto it for as long as I can. And I've asked Laurie to do an astrology chart for me, just in case I need to be prepared for the crap to hit the fan.

For those people who are reading this and wondering, where's the knitting? What about the craft updates? Isn't it almost Christmas (7 crafting weeks left!)? Well, at SnB last night, I bemoaned the fact that Richard's sweater is taking forever. When I rechecked my gauge, I was way too tight -- instead of 18 stiches and 24 rows to 4", I was at 24 stitches and 28 rows. So I have to rip out the stockinette (I'll leave the ribbing as is -- it will be too depressing if I have to start completely from scratch), and redo, probably with size 8 needles, instead of size 6s. So, in the long run, the sweater will go quicker, but probably not quick enough for my sanity.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

It's Halloween, all day long! And even though it's Monday, which is, in general, not a very good day, I'm happy because I'm in costume. Yes, at 10:28 a.m., sitting at my desk at work, I am wearing a black glittery witches dress, a demure black see-through bed jacket (to disguise cleavage that may be considered inappropriate for work) and a very tall witch hat. Here's a photo that Ellen took at Thursday's Stitch n Witch:Tonight, Rich & I have tickets to go see Gorey Stories at Sacred Fools Theater. Here's what Variety had to say about the play:

"Gorey Tales," [sic] a deliciously macabre assortment of tales, songs and limericks from the gothic outpourings of writer-illustrator Edward Gorey, cleverly compiled by scripter Stephen Currens, is given a sumptuous staging by helmer Pat Towne and Sacred Fools' nine-thesp ensemble. Gorey's jaundiced, neo-Victorian vision of sinister adults, persecuted waifs and malevolent creatures is abetted by the thematically perfect production design (Michael Franco), sets (Joel Daavid), costumes/masks (Ann Closs-Farley) and lights (Cricket Sloat), all in his trademark B&W and shades of gray.

A couple years back, we went to see their production of Dracula: A Musical Nightmare, and it was fantatsic, so I have high hopes for tonight.

On Saturday, Julia and a couple of her friends and I went to the Dia de los Muertos celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetary. People make beautiful altars on some of the graves. Some of the altars are very personal, some are political. Some are traditional, while others incorporate very modern elements, such as the Jayne Mansfield altar, complete with movie screen, or the Johnny Ramone altar, which blasted "Blitzkrieg Bop" in the background. Highly recommended. More photos when mine come back from Snapfish (digital camera died, so I'm down to the old fashioned disposable ones).

weird moments in my life, part 1

Is it wrong to take my prenatal vitamins with a glass of red wine?

We're not actually trying yet; I'm just getting my body ready. But I don't plan on cutting out my wine intake until the last possible moment. So, is it wrong, or just weird?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dorkkus Maximus

So, while I was up in the Bay this weekend, I stopped by my mom's house to drop off some stuff and pick up my birthday present. Of course, I also brought in my knitting bag, because I had table runners for the shower that never happened in there and I wanted to give them to my mom for safe keeping. And when I left, with arms full of gifts, I promptly forgot my bag. And because I was driving if I wasn't sleeping on the ride home, I didn't notice. In fact, I didn't notice until Monday night, when Faith was coming to pick me up and take me out to a birthday dinner and then to the Culver City Stitch n Bitch. And I had nothing to knit or crochet.

I managed to find a scarf that I had started on bamboo straights, which I never use, so it wasn't in my bag, so I wasn't completely unarmed. But I felt almost naked without the familiar canvas bag, and my leopard print crochet hook/scissors/assorted knitted accessories, and without any crochet hooks at all! I'm like a boat without a rudder.

My mom may not bring the bag down until she visits in a week & a half, so I needed to fix this situation. So I headed over to the Knit cafe after work yesterday, picked up some Addi Turbos - size 6, 32", and started work on Richard's sweater, I can't put it off any longer. I have now less than two months till Christmas (ALERT TO ALL CRAFTERS -- LESS THAN 2 MONTHS TILL CHRISTMAS! EXACTLY 2 MONTHS TILL HANUKKAH! PROXIMITY WARNING!) and the sweater has cabled sleeves (which I've never done -- never done cables at all, so I don't want to be stressed for time while trying a new technique) and a special intarsia front design, which I'm designing myself, so I need time to figure that out.

Ooh, and tomorrow is our West Hollywood Stitch n Witch Halloween Celebration! I'm about half-way done with my costume, and I think it's looking really good. We'll see if I actually have anywhere to go on Halloween, but that's another story. At least I'll have a great costume, one that may someday make it to a National Monument of some kind.

Monday, October 24, 2005

30 is flirty!

I had a fabulous weekend. Rich & I headed up to San Jose on Friday, running late as usual because I forgot my cell phone at work, so after going home and packing, I had to return to the office. We got in to SJ around 11:30 p.m., but I stayed up talking to my dad until about 3:30 a.m. (enjoyable, but the whole 3 hours till dawn is not good for someone almost 30).

On Saturday, we joined Christa, Jeff, Carrie & Elizabeth and visited Allison & Iggy at the hospital. Allison looked great; tired and in her jammies, but happy. Iggy looked wiped out. Maybe it's just because I'm more used to seeing Allison tired, having had more than 20 years of slumber parties, bachelorette parties and New Year's parties, but I'm just not used to seeing Iggy so exhausted. They both seemed like they were still in shock over the whole thing. We didn't get to see little Margaret, as she is still in the NICU. The doctors say she'll be there for 1-2 weeks, so that her lungs can fully develop and she can gain some weight. Of course, Allison say's she'll be home in a week, and Iggy has to be contrary and a pessimist and say she won't be home for 2 weeks. We left as extended family members started arriving, as the room was getting really crowded.

For some reason, I started to get tense as we entered the hospital. My gut was just a big ball of lead weight. I can watch all the "Birth Day" episodes I want, and even the 4-part "Pregnancy for Dummies," but pregnancy didn't become real until I got into the elevator at Good Samaritan Hospital.

After we left the hospital, my late night was starting to catch up with me. I was getting tired and cranky, so we went back to my dad's and I laid down for a few minutes. We were due at Christa's at 7:00, but I knew we weren't going to make it. I got up at 7, and Rich gave me my birthday present: 1st season of the Muppet Show on DVD!

We headed to Christa's and then to dinner, a really nice Japanese restaurant in San Jose's
Japantown. We walked in, and that's when I realized that this was more than just dinner. There were 10 people: my dad, my sister, Mel & Grant, Brian (who even drove up from LA), Christa & Jeff, Carrie, Elizabeth & Kathy, there to celebrate my birthday. It was awesome. I had multiple drinks called Liquid Wasabi, bacon-wrapped scallops, lots of yummy sushi and a chocolate & strawberry cake. I received lots of fun presents (including pretty Rowan yarn, a cute knit capelet & a gorgeous crochet hook holder from Mel, and the Loop-d-Loop book and 4 pairs of Addi Turbos from Jenny!), but the best part was that all these people that I care about came together just for me.

After dinner, my dad left and the rest of us headed to 7 Bamboo, a karakoe bar that does a
live feed on the internet!
We enjoyed ourseleves immensely. We even got compliments from the Internets! Someone from Ohio commented that "those girls have the best stage presence of anyone up there!" Woo hoo for making the most of a performance opportunity!

Overall, it was a fabulous night. Everyone
enjoyed themselves (I think). We even ran into an old dance friend, Alyssa, whom none of us had seen since like junior year of high school. We all exchanged email addresses, and hope to get together for coffee over Christmas. But you'll know if was a good night just by looking at this photo:
So Rich & I drove back to LA last night. And now it's Monday morning, and I'm officially 30. I'm ok with it. In fact, I think I'm enjoying it. 30 sounds like an adult (even if I was so excited that my mom bought me the new video game based on one of my favorite movies ever: The Warriors!). So, bring it on, 30! I'm ready for you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

too pooped to pop

I feel like I've been on a constant roller coaster of activity ever since Camp, back at the end of August. I was in Dallas for work for 3 days, then on the CA coast for 9 days working on our bike tour, then on vacation for a week, and now, finally back in the office and I'm swamped with work that had been put off for so long because I was traveling.

I forgot my dad's birthday (he had to remind me a couple of days later -- that's always nice), I forgot to call my mom on her birthday (although luckily, after the mess with my dad, I ordered a present & card online which got to her on her birthday, so it's not like I really forgot). I even forgot a friend's birthday back in August, and still haven't mailed her a gift (I'll see her this weekend, and can give it to her then, but still...).

I haven't started making my Halloween costume. I bought the fabric, but no wig, and I haven't even started sewing.

I did finish the blanket for Miss Margaret Allison, which is a good thing, because as I type this,
SHE IS BEING BORN RIGHT NOW! 4 weeks early. Allison's shower was supposed to be tomorrow, but, obviously, that's not going to happen. Rich & I are still going to drive up tonight to see friends and family, and maybe, if everything goes well, get to see Allison, Iggy & baby for a bit on Sunday.

On the craftiness front, I've started a new sweater: Silk cardigan from Knitscene.
Of course, I'm not using silk, because I can never be bothered to actually use the yarn the pattern is written for. I'm using some Suss Twinkle (I think that was the name) that I picked up on sale for $3 a skein. Also, I'm procrastinating on starting Richard's Christmas sweater. I need to start that so I have a remote chance of actually finishing it by the end of the year. Ooh, also, I want to make socks. I picked up two skeins of Koigu at the summer yard sale I participated in with Faith & Laurie, so I really want to make these socks from the fall issue of Knitty. But they'll have to wait until after the holidays. That's frightening. It isn't even Halloween yet, and I'm already saying, "after the holidays."

I feel like I've been neglecting crochet a bit. The whole discovery of combination knitting, and the completion of the cowl-neck sweater just got me pumped about knitting. While we were on vacaction, I did work on a crocheted shrug made from Berroco Foliage. It's coming out nicely, but I ran out of yarn, so I need to get some more from SuperCrafty. Will post photos when it's done.

I know some of the WIPs on the right have been there for a while, so I'm going to admit defeat and move some off that are just not actually in progress anymore.

And just to add some more color to this page, here are some vacation pics, in case you're interested:

Me & Richard at Bandolier National Monument.

My sister Jenny & I at Bandolier. Yes, we actually brought costumes in with us.

What can I say? At least we have interesting vacation photos...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sweater photo

Ok, one last post before I head out for vacation to New Mexico (and the Fiesta Yarn Outlet Store). I thought it was about time I posted a photo of the fabulous Interweave Cowlneck sweater.

drumroll, please.

Excuse the pajama bottoms.

Ok, off to the Land of Enchantment! See you all in about a week.

I'm published!

Hopefully, some photos will be up to accompany the article soon, but I'm just so excited. This is the first step in fulfilling my New Year's Resolution to do something more with crochet to advance the craft. Horray!

While you're perusing my article, be sure to take a gander at the other articles and great patterns available in this issue (the ballet wrap is my personal fave!). Hooray for crochet!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

back in the saddle again

For those of you wondering where I've been (all three of you), I've been out of town for a work event. A very long, exhausting, yet rewarding work event without email access. But now I'm back, for a while, at least.

While working, I was able to knit, a little. Most nights, I fell asleep with needles in hand, listening to the dulcet tones of John Stewart. I did finish a ribbed hat for a co-worker and started a purse to be felted. Also, I'm working on a felted purse (oversize clutch) pattern to submit to CrochetMe, but since my building's elevator is currently out of service, and I have no desire to lug laundry (and purse to be felted) down & up 4 flights of stairs to and from the laundry room in our basement, it waits patiently.

Yesterday, during my comp day from work, I decided to start the baby blanket/quilt for Miss Margaret Allison (due Nov. 20), since her mom-to-be's (my friend Allison) shower is coming up on Oct. 22. Her room is going to be lavender, I think, so I chose a yellow gingham and lavender flowered fabrics. I created a patchwork quilt (Mel would be so proud), and backed it in off-white flannel. For a finishing touch, I'm sewing crocheted rounds in a pattern over the squares. The rounds were actually crocheted by Allison's grandmother (Miss Margaret Allison's great-grandmother), who passed away about a year ago. Allison had given me her grandmother's thread crochet hooks, thread and some partially completed doilies last year. I think it's only fitting that Miss Margaret Allison receive a blanket that includes pieces her great-grandmother made, especially since she is named after her. I promise pictures as soon as I'm finished.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy as a bee. Bee-like.

Back from lovely and scenic Dallas, where it was hot and muggy (not that I saw much of it, other than the inside of the hotel). My flight there on Thursday was atrocious -- supposed to leave at 12:40 p.m., we sat in the plane, on the runway for an hour and a half, then they announced that those of us with connecting flights should get off the plane and on to another. I did, and after that flight and a later connecting flight, I got into Dallas at about 10 p.m., only to find that my luggage did not make it. So, armed only with my purse, knitting bag, and the Continental airlines toiletries kit, I finally made it to the hotel. My luggage did eventually get in to the hotel around 12 p.m., so I could finally take off the jeans and flip flops that made me feel a bit out of place at the conference.

While in Dallas, I started the Stitch Diva Slinky Fitted Shrug with bamboo yarn from Habu Textiles and pailette sequins. I'd never worked with sequins in crochet before, but it wasn't that difficult to master. But after about 5 rows, I looked at it, and just didn't like it. It's not the pattern, which is great, and relatively easy to follow. But I'd had this idea of the "Dolly Parton" sweater, a green, crocheted, short-sleeved, fitted cardigan with sequins that Dolly wore in the movei "9 to 5" and that I saw in person at Dollywood. And this just wasn't it. I think the biggest problem was that the sequins are too big and the yarn the wrong color of green. So I'm bummed that it didn't work out, especially because I've been thinking about this sweater ever since we went to Tennessee last year. But my sister Jenny said something true when she mentioned that it's better to discover you don't like a project after only 5 rows than after 50. Plus, now sequined shrugs are everywhere, even Forever 21, so what's the point of making something that is the current trend? I want to be ahead of the curve, not behind it. So I'll wait till the trend is over, then do it my way, so it will be retro.

I've found another web site to drool over, and make total impulse purchases from, at least for those people who, like myself, love to sew garments, but think that most pattern companies don't make patterns that are fashion-forward. Hot Patterns is a company that wants to right that wrong. Here's their company description from their website: "unique and exclusive high fashion dressmaking patterns designed for fashion obsessed sewers and dressmaking divas." And get this, their patterns are sized from 6 to 26 -- bust sizes from 32" to 53" -- every pattern! So here's what I've ordered:
1. Artful Dodger Purity Blouse
2. Pirate Queen Peacoat
3. Shanghai Tunic
4. BoHo De-Luxe Peasant Tops
5. Denim Diva Wrapture Jacket
6. Plain & Simple Classic Bootcut Pants

I wanted to buy just about everything on the site, but I struggled to keep my expenditures somewhat reasonable (<$100). These new patterns won't be shipped until 9/30, and then the site says allow 14 days for shipping (it's free, I won't bitch), so they should be waiting for me when I get back from vacation (Sata Fe & Taos! Oct. 8-15!).
Along with my skull cupcake tins!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Victory is Mine!

While I don't yet have any photos to prove it, I am officially a sweater knitter. A knitter of sweaters. I have completed the Mohair Cowl Neck sweater! I finished it last night at SnB and, if I do say so myself, it looks fabulous. The cowl looks like something straight out of a 1960s Spinnerin pattern book. Faith & Julia both took photos, so maybe one of them could send me a copy so I could post it here? (pretty please?)

Work is crazy busy right now. I'm off to Dallas tomorrow for a conference and then back on Saturday. And then I'm off next Friday for over a week on our bike tour.

I did manage to finally make our vacation hotel reservations. Richard and my sister Jenny and I are off to Santa Fe and Taos in mid-October. The hotels we're staying at look fabulous: El Rey Inn in Santa Fe and La Dona Luz Bed & Breakfast in Taos. We loved Santa Fe when we were there two years ago and we've never been to Taos, so I'm very excited. Also, Fiesta Yarns has an outlet store in Albuquerque that we will be visiting.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Weekend of writing

Well, after weeks of procrastinating, I finally finished the article that I promised to write on vintage patterns for CrochetMe. I don't know why I had been dragging my heels on it. But I had, and it is due on Thursday, so I needed to buckle down and just do it. Friday night, I stayed in and wrote and wrote. I scanned in photos from patterns and sent them in to Kim, CrochetMe's editor, along with the final article. I don't know if it's good enough, but it's done, and that's something.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's almost Fall -- I can feel it!

Ok, so the notice that the Fall issue of Knitty is out came today. The grocery stores are filled with Halloween candy. Woo Hoo! Fall must be here (at least, almost).

What does that mean, besides sweater weather? (well, not really here in Southern California -- not for about two months) Well, it means it's time to visit Dragonfly Design Studio's Old Fashion Halloween store, one of my favorite web destinations. I should start out by saying the Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the candy, but most of all the costumes. I
think it all originates with the fact that my birthday is exactly one week before Halloween (Oct. 24th, for those people who are really curious), so growing up, I had a lot of costume/Halloween theme birthday parties.

Since I live in an apartment, I don't get trick or treaters, so I can't go whole hog with a haunted house. And I live in LA, where carved pumpkins rot before your very eyes (I still do carve them -- I just have to do them like 2 days before Halloween, and put them in the refrigerator at night. Maybe I'll try using a Blue Ice pack this year). But I still make an effort to decorate. That's where Old Fashion Halloween comes in. I don't go in for the Scream mask variety of Halloween decor. I'm more a swinging witch or scary cat kind of girl.

This site has great cards, decorations, crafts and more. One thing I'm excited about is the skull shaped cupcake tins.

Think of the fabulous Dia de los Muertos goodies I could make with that!

I'm still on the fence about a costume, though. September and October are incredibly busy for me this year, so I don't think I'll have much time for costume creation. Richard and I always talk about doing coordinating costumes, although we haven't managed it since 1994, when we went as Wayne Newton and Charo. He likes pop culture referential costumes (he wants us to go as Jack and Meg White -- what would that even look like?), while I prefer my own take on the traditional icons. Over the years, I've been a wind-up doll, a devil (more specifically, the Beauty Queen fron Hell, complete with horns, tiara, scepter and sash) and my personal favorite, a mermaid. This year, I'm contemplating a witch or maybe a pirate. Or even a gothic-Lolita fairy (but I'm not really goth, so I'm not sure). I need to make a decision soon because this weekend is my last free one until Halloween (3 weekends of work, 2 weekends of vacation, 1 weekend in the Bay Area for a a baby shower, and then it's Halloween). I'm leaning towards the witch because I want a long, beautiful green wig. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

weekend craftiness

A long, lazy weekend for me, filled with a lot of knitting and crocheting. Maybe too much.
Left hand Right hand
My index finger on my right hand has now swollen to about 150% of the size of my left index finger. The second joint of the finger is really sore. I think it's from knitting, because I use that finger to push the needle in my left hand back and bring the stitches forward. I've been making a lot of progress on the Interweave Mohair Cowl Neck sweater -- again, maybe too much. I always preach switching crafts and methods to avoid repetitive stress injury, but apparently, I don't listen to my own advice.

But the sweater is coming along nicely, despite my injuries.

I just have to do 5 rows of garter stitch to finish the left sleeve and then do the cowl neck. The colors of the yarn pooled in a really beautiful way on the sleeves:
Right Sleeve

Left sleeve

I hope it pools that way for the cowl neck, but I guess we'll see.

On the Baby Crafting front, I've added another project: stuffed animals. I'll be the first to say that normally I cannot support cheesy stuffed animals for babies. But there are a few cute patterns out there. Here's one (it's actually called the "Richard Rabbit," which I thought made it appropriate for the baby of Richard's best friend).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

back in the saddle again

ok, so technically I've been back from camp for a week now, and I'm just getting around to posting here, but catching up is hard to do. Work and personal lives get busy and complicated, blah, blah, blah.

I didn't get as much time to knit at camp as I would have liked, but I've made good progress on the mohair sweater since I've been back. I've completed the body, and am now working on the sleeves. And I've been good about not starting any new projects, except for a baby blanket for the brand new Reng baby, Hope. But I made it on the knitting machine, so was able to finish the body in an afternoon. But I'm backing the blanket with the cutest fabric I found online at Repro Depot Fabrics. They have the cutest baby/kid related fabrics -- most of which aren't cheesy at all. And I need to complete 9 pompoms for the blanket. To date, I've only made two.

It's weird to write about the mundane aspects of my crafty life when a whole section of our country has been wiped out. Rich & I were supposed to go to New Orleans in two weeks. I was going for a work conference and Rich was going because, hey, free hotel and a cool city he'd never been to. And now the city, the region, are in chaos -- at least the parts not under water. Looters are breaking in to beauty supply stores, crazy people are shooting at Coast Guard rescue boats, people are stranded on roof tops in 105 degree heat with nothing but the shirt on their back. The devastation is on such a huge scale, it's hard to fathom. I guess Mother Nature is teaching everyone just who's the boss. And it's not Tony Danza.

So, if you can, consider opening your checkbooks and making a donation to an organization making a difference in the Gulf Coast area. Organizations like the American Red Cross, ASPCA, and Salvation Army all have disaster relief funds to support their work in the region.

Friday, August 19, 2005

no sleep till Brooklyn

SnB last night was great -- about 15 ladies and people got up and rotated around so I got to talk to just about everyone. Ellen is making another Seraphina shawl. She is the bonafide Seraphina Queen! This is her 8th one to date. Sara #2 (we have at least 3 Saras at SnB) finished her first pair of socks, which deserves a big round of applause, as many knitters know how hard that second sock is to finish. Darcy showed off a positively racy knit tank and Crystal worked on a new baby sweater.

I am making good progress on the mohair sweater, despite the gauge issues. I've now made the separation for front and back, which of course means I'm no longer working in the round, which means purling for stockinette. Last night I had my first experience of purling combination style. After a few tries, I think I have it, although it is a bit funky (although I guess purling always is). Looking at the pictures and diagrams, I'm amazed at how far along I am on the sweater. Really, I'm more than half way done. And because the sweater is worked ine the round, and the sleeves & collar are knit directly onto the sweater, the only sewing together I have to do is at the shoulders. I am so close.

I'm also not sleeping very well. (I know, awkward transition, but I haven't finished my coffee) This morning was the first one all week that I've felt actually rested when I woke up. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was the worst. I took two Simply Sleep but I still felt so horrible that I didn't come into work until 11 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning was pretty bad, too. I thought it would be ok, because I'd had a few beers after our kickball game, and normally that puts me out. I took a couple of Simply Sleeps, too, but I tossed and turned all night. I got a few hours of fitful sleep, but wasn't rested at all. Last night, I was tired, but still, sleep was just out of reach. Deano kept whining, until I threatened to kick him out, then he settled down and went to sleep on my feet. I think I finally drifted off around 3:00, and woke up around 8:30 a.m.

I don't know what has me so stressed out. Well, actually it is probably the interview I had up in San Jose last week that I'm not all that excited about, but that I had a follow up phone interview with this week. I'm not sure I want the job, but how could I turn it down if I got it? I couldn't, not after all the bellyaching I've done over the past year and a half. So that's probably it. I just hope the sleeplessness goes away at camp.

Ah, yes, Camp starts tomorrow. I head up to Big Bear for 5 days and 4 nights with 35 15-17 year olds with chronic diseases. I know I'll have fun, but it's so draining (physically & emotionally) that I'm always a bit apprehensive beforehand. We have a bunch of reporters coming up, so I'll be quite busy. Hopefully, I'll have enough downtime to get work done on the sweater. So this is the last post for a while. Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

and victory is ours!

That's right, victory. Don Rickles with a Chainsaw won our first kickball game of the season last night. 4-2 over a more experienced team (aptly named "Armed & Hammered"), and guess who made the game-winning catch? Me. I was more surprised than anyone when the long line drive came right to me (I was playing third base) and I caught it and held it. It was a great feeling, especially when team members hugged me and slapped me (in a good way) and even the other team's members kept saying "great catch!"

It was a great game, for reasons other than my own ego boosting. Our team communicated on the field, we had a good time and no own went out of their way to be an ass hat. Armed & Hammered are a good bunch of people, so it was an out and out good game. Next week we play the Pregnant Cheerleaders, which is another good group of people, so it should be fun, win or lose.

On the crafty front, I'm being remarkably focused on the mohair sweater. Normally, I'm a project jumper -- I keep switching projects because I get bored if I stay with one for too long. But this sweater is a big project and I'm afraid if I'm not focused, I'll never finish it. But I have a lot of ideas swirling in my head. I bought 4 balls of Berrocco Foliage from Allison of SuperCrafty, and I want to make a crocheted sweater vest with that and the three skeins of Classic Elite Gatsby I have in chai latte. The Foliage is so super soft and the colors so eye catching. I should be finishing the Japanese Sunburst tank, which is almost complete. And I
need to frog part of the Rowan "Cannes" tank top so that I can finish it correctly. And there is the green & brown Sweater Girl sweater. Ooh, and Christmas is fast approaching (at least for crafty people who make their gifts), so I have 4 skeins of Lamb's Pride waiting to be turned into felted purses. And, the big project: I told Richard that I would make him a sweater for Christmas.
What was I thinking? Isn't the boyfriend sweater the kiss of death? Well, 1. He's my husband, not my boyfriend, and 2. We're coming up on our 3rd wedding anniversary (in November) and our 12th anniversary of being together (in December). I'm hoping that's enough time for the curse to have worn off. So, the sweater is going to be his big Christmas present (he already knows, so I'm not spoiling anything here). I need to get an early start on it, as not only is it a big project in general, but it has cables up the sleeves, which I've never done before (never done cables period). But it's all part of improving my skill sets, which, way back in January, Faith & I decided would be our New Year's resolution. I haven't done socks yet, but maybe after Christmas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gauges? We don't need no stinkin' gauges...

The first thing any experienced knitter will tell a novice is not to underestimate the importance of gauge. "A gauge swatch will tell you if your knitting will end up too big, too small or just right." Ah yes, the Goldilocks approach to knitting.
But I'm more of a fly the the seat of your pants kind of knitter. A knitter who says, "to hell with your gauge swatches!" I am now also a knitter whose fabulous mohair sweater will probably be too small.
The more careful crafters are tsk-tsking away now. What's that carpentry saying -- "measure twice, cut once"? Not quite the same thing, but the sentiment is the same: more prep time equals less mistakes.
Ok, to be completely fair to myself, I did measure my gauge. I even took it in the round, since this sweater is done in the round (whether this is truly necessary, I'm not quite sure -- I've seen arguments both ways). However, what I didn't take into consideration is that I would change my entire method of knitting after I took the gauge. Remember my epiphany about combination knitting? It was like a lightening bolt and my knitting is so much faster. However, my knitting is now also tighter. Whereas my gauge was initially correct at 10 1/2 rows and 14 stitches to 4", my current gauge (which I didn't bother to check until I was ready to separate for front & back) is now closer to 12 rows and 16 stitches. Which leaves me 5 inches short on the body of my sweater.
What to do? I am not an advocate of frogging, and especially not when it's mohair. The sweater was meant to be big, so hopefully it will just be a bit more snug than intended. I'm still working it, and when I get to the sleeves and cowl neck, I'll use bigger needles to get the correct gauge. If it's too small, it will be a Christmas present (although a part of me will cry inside).
So, what's the lesson of the day? If you want to try a new method of knitting, don't start it in the middle of a project. And if you must, then check your gauge.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

grown up stuff and not so grown up stuff

Grown up stuff: Rich finally got a price estimate for his sinus surgery, and while it ain't cheap, we'll actually be able to pay for it. It will pretty much gut the savings, which kind of sucks, but it won't kill us. Thank goodness for the recent pay raise and its retroactiveness (I know that's not a word, but it's less wordy than, say, "thank goodness my recent pay raise was made retroactive to what should have been my review date"), which gave me a fat check. It sucks that his insurance is so crappy that we have to pay this much, but he'll actually be able to breathe after, so it's worth the expense. But it does wipe out the funds which I had thought of as our moving fund -- first & security deposit, movers, etc.

Not so grown up stuff: I finally bought an iPod. I've wanted one for a long time, and my brother-in-law works for CompUSA, so he gets a 25% discount. So I took a small chunk out of the retroactive pay check and sent it off. Hopefully it will get here in time for camp.

Camp starts next weekend. I volunteer at our (my work's) camp for kids up near Big Bear. This will be my 6th year up there. It's always tiring yet rewarding.

Kickball starts tonight. I'm more or less doing it so that I know I'll see Richard at least one night a week. Knock on wood that I won't sustain any injuries that prevent me from knitting & crocheting like my jammed finger did last season. Our team name is "Don Rickles with a Chainsaw." I'm not kidding.

I'm so proud.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

just breathe

ok, the whirlwind is over, for now at least. Work has been crazy of late, but now one of my major work projects is completed (we'll find out whether it's approved later this month, but at this point, that is almost secondary), so I can take a bit of a breather.

I found the work camera. I thought I had lost it, and was trying to come up with convincing excuses why we had to buy a new camera, but I found it in a bag of yarn. Why it was in the yarn, I don't know, but that's not important.

So a few photos to give some project updates:

1. Finished Baby Camo Vest
I think I need to purchase a baby/child dress form, so that I can create my own baby patterns. Most of the patterns that are readily available just aren't very cute, and I just know I could come up with better stuff, but having no children available for trying things on, I need a substitute.

2. Seraphina Shawl
The colors are a little washed out in this photo, but it is almost done. The stumbling block is the row in which I'm carrying this frindgey metallic yarn -- pain in the ass to crochet with. I do a little at a time and then it bugs me, so I put it down. Hopefully I'll finish it when it gets a bit cooler -- it's hard to work up the nerve to crochet a big wool shawl when it's 90 degrees and 83% humidity (WUWT? This is LA -- we're not supposed to have humidity like this! Ick.)

3. Interweave cowl-neck sweater
As you can see, the progress is a bit limited. I am not exactly the world's fastest knitter, and I do have multiple projects going at the same time, but I figure I'll get some quality knitting time up at camp (between activities and after the kids have gone to bed -- ha!). But I love love love this yarn. It's so beautiful. I hope to finish this in time to get some good use this fall/winter.

I'm also making some good progress on the back of the Japanese Sunburst tank. Hopefully, it will be finished soon enough to get some good warm weather use out of it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Knitting, for a change of pace

I decided to ick up the knitting again, as I've been rather crochet intensive of late (Screech, Baby Camo Vest, Party Princess Sweater, Japanese Sunburst tank, etc.). I'm making the mohair cowl-neck sweater from the Winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits using the hand-dyed loopy mohair that I bought up in Oakland at the Fiber Arts Market. It's knit in the round, so the stockinette body is just knit row after row, so I figured it would be a good project to work on while I'm up at camp in a few weeks (because lord knows that I am not a fast knitter).

But then on Tuesday, before SnB, I was watching Knitty Gritty, and it was the "Home is Where the Knit Is" episode with Annie Modesitt. I've heard of Annie before (my sister has met her and I even think Annie blogstalks Crazy Aunt Purl), so I knew that Annie was a proponent of "combination knitting," which just sounded hard to me.

Let's back up a step: I learned how to knit by sitting down with the first Stitch n Bitch book and just following the diagrams, and because Deb Stoller knits using the English or throwing method, I did too. Now, after Jenny met Annie, she suggested that I learn combination knitting because it used both hands, like crochet, and was faster because you never dropped the right hand needle. I didn't listen, frankly because why should I take advice from a girl who refuses to learn how to knit (Jenny is exclusively a crocheter). But I was still frustrated by how slow my knitting was. Mel, of Remarkable Cow, suggested I learn continental knitting, which also doesn't involve throwing, but I never could get the hang of it.

So back to Knitty Gritty. I was watching the episode, and they used the Knitty Cam to do a closeup on Annie's hands as she knit, and for whatever reason, it just clicked with me. She held her yarn in the left hand, knit through the back stitch and never dropped her needles. So when I went to SnB that night, I tried it. And it worked. The combination method seemed so much more fluid than stopping every stitch to throw the yarn. I'm still not completely comfortable with it, but the speed I'm going now (after a grand total of 2 days) is about the same speed I'm going doing English method (which I've been doing for over a year), so with practice, it should improve. I haven't tried purling yet, but I'll get there. I'm very excited by this new possibility of fast, fluid knitting.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


My lovely friend Ellen was kind enough to forward her photo of the owl once she read that I didn't have one. I warn you, this photo could damage retinas if you stare at it too long. I give you Screech, the World's Scariest Owl.

Look away! Look away! It even gets better, as I filled in the chest with bright yellow & bright orange fringe. It was awful, but in a good way. I am so proud of it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Crochet Fame!

The new issue of Crochet Me is up (it was probably up yesterday, but I've been in work-induced fog and forgot to look), and included is my sister's Hippy Vest Pattern! I'm so proud!

Enough about her -- this post is really about how this is all reflected glory for me. If you notice, she mentions me briefly in the "about Jennifer" section: "My older sister taught me when I was bored on a Super-Bowl Sunday and I’ve been “hooked” ever since." That's me! I'm the older sister! (and, btw, the somewhat flowery description of the vest at the top is me, too. Jenny called me for help while I was at the WeHo SnB and I'd had a glass of wine or two.) Ooh, and I took the picture of her in the "About Jennifer" section -- in Nashville on our tour of Tennessee last year.

Ok, this really isn't all about me. I'm really very proud of Jenny. She has taken something I've talked about for a long time and she's actually done it -- she has written her own patterns and she's gotten them published. And she's inspired me to actually do some of the things I've talked about. The article I'm writing for the next issue of Crochet Me would never have happened if not for Jenny (ok, so she prefers Jennifer, but I'm family and I've been calling her Jenny since she was born, so I think I get grandfathered in). So a big congratulations go out to Jenny. I knew she could do it!

slightly controlled chaos

Every time I sit down to write a post, something comes up, so I'll make this brief so as not to tempt fate. Work has been crazy busy: I'm preparing three grant proposals that are due on Friday, I had to "volunteer" to help registration at our Valley Branch's golf tournament yesterday morning. At 7:30 a.m. In Thousand Oaks. I live in the Hollywood/Miracle Mile area. I was up much earlier than I am used to and I was wiped for the rest of the day. We're in the middle of our camp media push (it's the 20th anniversary of our camp for kids, so it's a big deal) and I'm fielding a lot of reporter phone calls -- which is a good thing, but it's just keeping me on my toes.

So blogging hasn't exactly been a top priority. AND, I can't find my camera, so no photos. Which sucks, because I've finished a couple of key projects lately.

First, for the Seattle wedding of our friends Ryan & Sara: A few weeks ago I posted that I was going to make the horrid vintage ski masks. Well, I didn't, primarily because I'm not a terribly fast knitter and because Rich wanted me to do a crochet project so that he could help (he relearned how to crochet and actually did crochet a few rows, so that the project was legitimately from the both of us). So instead, I chose possibly the ugliest pattern in the world: a 3' tall crochet and fringe wall hanging of an owl. It is truly hideous, and luckily, Ellen & Faith managed to snap photos at last week's WeHo SnB, so maybe I can track those down. We presented the owl on Sunday at the post-wedding brunch and it was a hit. I think it was truly appreciated in the spirit with which it was made -- hi, we created this truly horrific thing for you because we love you. Hope you enjoy it!

Second, during our evil and seemingly never-ending airport experience on Sunday while we were attempting to get back to LA, I finished the mock denim vest from Candi Jensen's "Candy Babies" book. I used a hand-dyed cotton chenille in yellow, beige,brown & green (kind of looks camoflage now), and I trimmed the edges in a fluffy beige GGH yarn (can't remember which one -- I should probably figure that out). It's very cute and it's for Rich's best friend's baby boy who is due next month. All these preganant friends and new babies are starting to give me the baby itch. It's not super strong yet, just a gentle tickle, but I have a feeling these things only get stronger. Hmm. It's probably good for me to lay off the baby stuff for a while, so now I'm working on the mohair pullover sweater with deep cowl neckline from the Winter 2005 Interweave Knits. I've always loved working with mohair in August...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sleepy McSleepykins

I'm exhausted, but in a good way.

Today was a huge training/presentation
that I designed for about 20 staff on communicating our mission. I've been working on it for about 2 months with a couple of other staff members and the purpose was really to get everyone in our organization (including people in fundraising, finance, administration) comfortable understanding and talking about our mission, programs & services.

We started at about 10 a.m., and we didn't finish until 1 (a little longer than planned), but the feedback has been very good. It's such a good feeling to hear that something you've worked really hard on and that you believe in is really valued and appreciated by others. People who've been here for years said that they learned so much today.

People who've known me know that I've had a really difficult time at my job over the last couple of years, but the last three months have been really good. Knock on wood.

Monday, July 25, 2005

bouncing off the walls with excitement

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

I just had my first article proposal accepted! Theoretically, come October, I will be a published author. I've submitted a proposal for an article on looking for inspiration in vintage patterns to Crochet Me, and it was accepted for the October/November issue! Here's a rough idea of the article:

The title of the article would be "Everything Old is New Again," and it would focus on vintage patterns and the possibilities of creating modern, fun garments from these patterns. I believe it's too easy to focus on the hideously ugly patterns of yore. But by looking at the lines of the garments, rather than the outdated color palettes and crunchy yarn choices, modern crocheters can use vintage patterns today. Fashion is all about revisiting the past and updating it with a twist. I can't endorse the current 80s revival, having lived through it the first time, but it's an example of a recycling of fashion. Much of 70s fashion was merely a reinterpretation of the long clean lines of the 30s.

And here is part of the response I received from Kim, Crochet Me's editor:

Thank you for sending me your idea! I absolutely love it -- especially since many non-crocheters have a pigeon-holed view of crochet as "hippy" or simply out-of-date. Busting open people's imaginations by giving them some inspiration and information to retool vintage patterns would be fabulous.

Even more fabulous -- she thinks there is enough there to justify a multi-part series! I can't think about work right now, I'm too excited. Hurrah!

Walking the floor over ... yarn

The FiberArts Market up in Oakland (offered in conjunction with the CGOA and the knitting equivalent which I can't remember the name of for the life of me) was fun and I dropped loads of cash. Smaller than Stitches West, which I went to earlier this year, but also less packed with crazy people. Jenny was working for the Stitch Diva for a few hours, so I had plenty of time to walk the floor (hence the post title). What did I find out? Well, apparently, crochet & spinning are hot because there seemed to be a lot of interest in demonstrations. And, to no one's surprise, the CGOA still seems to have no idea how to reach out to younger, more fashion forward crocheters.

But, soft! What light from yonder window breaks? It is handspun, hand-dyed yarn in a plethora of colors and textures. I found incredible yarn of the same weight and feel as recycled sari silk, but which was made of banana leaf fiber (bought 4 skeins to go with some great Art Fibers yarn I bought back in December). I purchased a huge hank of hand-dyed loopy mohair -- 8 ounces, 900 yards for less than $30. That's a whole sweater! I also got a hank in the same colorway (brown, green, gold & purple) in a tencel ribbon (400 yards) that will make a fab tank. I also visited the booths of stores I'd purchased from at Stitches, West Valley Alpacas and Lisa Souza Knit & Dyeworks, and got more yarn to complete my (yet-to-be-designed) hippy cardigan. And I found a few vintage (1970s) knit magazines to add to my collection (not that I need more, not after visiting Fern, but an obsession is an obsession). Ooh, and Jenny picked up an advance copy of the Stitch Diva's new crocheted bolero for me -- I'll finally use the Habu Textiles bamboo I picked up in New York last year!

Jenny also go to meet Kim, the editor of CrochetMe magazine. Jenny will have a pattern in the upcoming August/September issue (it's her swinging hippy vest), and I wrote the description (well, dictated over the phone while at a WeHo SnB meeting is more like it), so be sure to check it out when it's up (I'm sure I'll post about it). Jenny has inspired me to submit some articles and maybe even a pattern or two, so I'll let you know how that goes.