A Knitter in Transition

My adventures - in knitting, marriage, and moving across hemispheres.

Monday, May 29, 2006

To Knit, Perchance to Dream.

Ah, the knitter's block. I've hit it hard. I pick up the needles and an hour later, I've powered through a row and a half. I'm reading knitting books and patterns, I'm surfing knitting blogs, I'm even buying lots of yarn. I'm doing everything but actually knitting. This happens to me at least once a year, I think I've just got to slog through it. Any tips?

Perhaps I could work up a good case of startitis. Here's some fuel for the startitis cooties:

Just when I was considering hating the french, for postal reasons not politics, my yarn arrived. The yarn I had ordered in February. That's right. I even wrote the Phildar people a really sad e-mail in really horrible french asking "ou est ma laine?" Ya know, where's the wool, frenchie? They were really nice about the whole thing, and assured me that as it hadn't been returned to them, it must still be en route. The yarn is soft yet crisp and will be perfect for summer. Even if it's next summer, post knit-slump, and I'm the only person outside the mid-west still wearing a shrug.

I've also recently enhanced the stash with some stuff for a gift, some cotton denim yarn, for my very own Absorba the Mason-Dixon bathrug, of course the Mason Dixon book, and soon to arrive via amazon, an Elizabeth Zimmerman. I think knitting sans crying, but I don't remember.

The latest thang: Oma's chocolate cake.
Made this for a bbq, and it was a HUGE hit. Well, with 2 sticks of butter, how could it NOT be??? It will not only win you friends and get you promoted, it will land right smack dab on your ass, and some will fall to your thighs. In a feat of gravity-defiance, some will also climb up and settle in on your belly. Do not look forward to any landing on your boobs or under those teeny wrinkles to smooth them. That is, unless you have the metabolism of a greek god, and the ass to prove it:

*Why yes, that is a bowl of guacamole and a dish of pizza dip behind the cake. Yes, I made them both. What? Those land on my ass too? Rat bastards. In my defense, the pizza dip has tomato sauce which is chock full of all sorts of stuff that's good for me right?? Oh, and the guac, I make KILLER guac. It would be flat out RUDE of me to deprive people of my awesome guac. Everyone loves it, just ask Caelinn:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Secret Gardens

No knitting content, just homesick for New Orleans. I miss the Quarter. Send chickory and half and half po'boys, fully dressed, baby.

If you've ever lived or spent time in New Orleans, you'll know all about secret gardens. The French Quarter is a treasure trove of hidden jewels that most of us will only ever see the tiniest glimpse of through narrow wrought iron alley gates.

The best part of the whole experience is the unexpectedness of it! In the Garden District, you see 10,000 square foot three story wedding-cake confections of gingerbread and leaded-glass, and it's a given that everything inside it and on it's grounds will be fabulous. But, you when you walk through the French Quarter, it's a crazy mix of history and neon lights, homes that have been the same color for a hundred years with slave quarters and carriage houses, all mixed in with Lucky Dog vendors, Voodoo shops and Bourbon Street. You have no idea what's on the other side of the brick walls and sherbet-toned shutters. But, take a peek into someone's alley gate, and you'll see a whole other world.

You might think nothing of the front of the Court of Two Sisters,

but when you get into the courtyard for your Jazz Brunch, you'll gasp:

In the summer, the grape arbor fills in and give full shade to the lucky ones who sit underneath. This is where I had my bridal shower! It is so beautiful and so very New Orleans, it's perfect!

It only looks like the homes are piled on top of each other. It's an illusion that the homes that back up to each other share alarm clocks and soup-can phones. The truth of the matter is that there may well be enough room between the homes for a carriage and small stable. The courtyards are very private! No looky-loo neighbors, your courtyard will probably have your neighbor's solid 2 or 3 story brick wall on one side. The larger, multi-story homes in the heart of the quarter are likely L or U shaped: a grand front faces the street with ornate wrought iron balconies, and the long side(s) holds the slave quarters, kitchen, etc. Sometimes, they look like this, the St. Louis hotel:

A grand New Orleans home, with fancy front, bedrooms along the courtyard sides (you can barely see the edge of the slave quarters on the right), and an adjacent formal garden. The Beauregard-Keyes house street-front:



The best part is the back-yard. They used brick for a reason in southern building. Especially in an area with as high a water table as southern Louisiana, the brick foundation will extend into the earth for 6 or more feet, wicking water up into the brick and cooling the entire building. The courtyard would have been paved in brick, giving the same cooling effect. Coupled with heavy planting and an overhead breeze, a courtyard has the potential to be a (relatively!) pleasant outdoor space well into the summer months.

Anyone who's ever been to any inner city knows that no amount of concrete can pave over the basic human need for greenery. The Quarter is no different. Some streets are tree-lined, most balconies sport ferns and flowers and potted palms. You see ivy in the windows and roof top gardens. But courtyards can be miniature french gardens gone wild. It's like Giverny went to Tahiti and came back with a sarong and cornrows. This is the courtyard at the St. Louis hotel, and is where the Lt and I had our wedding reception. It really does look just like this!

On your next NOLA vacay, and I suggest you visit the city, don't stay at some chain, there's no personality there, no history. Stay somewhere you've never heard of, it's a good thing! Besides, the chains charge out the ying-yang for faking what the others have the real deal in. May I recommend St. Louis hotel, they are super nice there, and the A/C is cold!!

Monday, May 08, 2006


Ok, so I'm a little freaked out about SP8. I got all signed up, and even got an e-mail from the hostesses that I'm "in," but I haven't got my SP yet, and I'm not on the participants page.

Just in case I'm still "in," here goes:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like knitting just about everything. I love blue sky alpacas. Lorna's Laces. Malabrigo. So far, the only thing I don't like knitting with is Red Heart and boucle/popcorn bumpy type stuff. The Red heart is too squeaky, and I'm slow enough with out having to wrestle bumply yarn into stitches! =)

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I keep the case they came in, for quick ID, and then they are roughly sorted by sized into a hanging jewelry thing in the "yarn closet."

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting for about 5 years now, and would say I'm intermediate. I COULD know a lot more techniques, but I'm usually too lazy to get out the books.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Sorry, no.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Genuine Jasmine. Genuine lavender. Herby green scents. Creamy scents. C.O. Bigelow lemon lotion is the perfect tart/creamy combo!

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I have a killer sweet tooth. I LOVE dark dark chocolate. Sadly, it's about a million degrees where I live, so most candies wouldn't survive the journey.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I like to scrapbook, but it's rare. I like to dream about my dream house. I don't spin.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like top-40 type stuff. Rock? John Mayer, Goo Goo Dolls, David Gray, Jason Mraz. Christian music, too, Jeremy Camp, Steven Curtis Chapman, Matthew West.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love color in general. Right now, I'm really drawn to aquas and bright oranges/corals.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married to a wonderful guy (the Lt) who's better than I could ever deserve, and we have a dog, Barley, who follows me around all day.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Scarves, yes. The rest, no.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Right now, I really want to felt. Also, garments for me.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I'm in the Sexy Knitters' Club, working on my aqua Orangina. I just started knitting blankets for charity. In the marination chamber, I have a child's pattern I'm working on, and the Girl from Auntie's Eris.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Aluminum Circular. Any brand!

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes to both.

17. How did you learn to knit?
I walked into the Quarter Stitch, a teensy knitting shop in the heart of the French Quarter, and fell in love with every ball of yarn in the joint. Ten minutes later, I was working on my first baby sweater, in Lamb's Pride and Noro Kueryon.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?
Oy. Right now, it's got to be the socks I started in March of 2004. I have one totally done, but it's not a pair, so I consider it a UFO.

19. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas. Is there any other?

20. Is there anything that you collect?
Hmm...bees and fleurs de lys. (botanical style bees, not cartoon bees.)

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to IK. Books, I would love Knitting on the Edge, Yarn Harlot's 2nd or 3rd, Big Girl Knits, or the Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Fair Isle would be cool. It's just about the only thing that will turn me away fron a project.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am NOT a sock knitter. Which is funny because I love many sock yarns, and can spend hours on-line all googly over other peoples hand-knit socks, and surfing sock patterns.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
July 4th.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Letter

Dear Old Japanese Guy in the Bright Orange Speedo on the Seawall:

I beg you: Put it ALL away.

Seriously? You are at least 60 years old. And somewhere around 7 months along in your pregnancy. Not that I'm perfect, but I do not flaunt my luciousness in a teeny bikini for all of the Asian Pacific to see.

Also, should you deem it acceptable to leave the house in this get-up again, DO NOT under any circumstances climb up onto the 3 foot high seawall and pick your booty. As you are, ahem, petit in stature, it's right in my eye-line. Thanks for searing my corneas.


The White Woman in the Baseball Cap Jogging by at a MOST Inauspicious Moment

Monday, May 01, 2006


How is it that I decide I'm gonna post, and even get all logged into blogger and then spend 40 minutes surfing OTHER people's blogs? How is it that I placed the SAME order twice at knitpicks? Well, the first is a little of MY ADD, and the second is a little of theirs. Just to let you know: take it with a grain (or Tblspn) of salt when they tell you they'll e-mail you in an hour re: your order. They'll wait an hour alright, an hour after you re-place the same order 36 hours later. Ratfinks.

I've been a busy bee since my last post.

The job: no go. Turns out the competition has teaching experience. Chaa. So, today I applied to be a banker. Stoked about the 3 piece suits.

This past weekend, I got baptized! That's right. I've been wanting to do it for a while now, but I really wanted to do it in the ocean. A freezing cold indoor baptism just seemed a little sterile to me, so when Pastor John mentioned in the service that he'd be doing baptisms, my hand shot up. The Lt was in the water with me (in real clothes, the champ), it was awesome!

The Lt and I officially started Marathon training. Also known as "listen to Ashley whine about running for 7 months." It will take us an extra month because the first week of our chosen program has us running 8 miles. Yeah-freaking-right. WHO on earth can run 8 miles at a time in the first week? NO ONE. Tha's hoo. So, I train on, working my way up to the unholy milage requirement. Saturday a.m. included nutella on whole wheat toast and 4 miles. 4 slow miles. In the rain. With a dog pulling the first 2 miles, because he LOVES sniffing the ground while it rains. What a weirdo.

I made gyoza! Gyoza are yummy fried dumplings with pork and veggies and ginger and YUMMM. It was the only saving grace, as I was also making wonton soup, but the wontons disintegrated in the boiling water, and I was nearly in tears. Hm, hormonal? Jest a touch. Granted, my gyoza didn't look quite so nice as the photo in the link, but they tasted like sushi joint specials.

A coupla weekends ago, we went to the Ocean Expo Park. A huge park complex with a western style aquarium, a botanical garden, a historic village set-up, and a hot-house complex. They have whale sharks, here, people. It was so sweet. Here's what we saw:

Whale sharks. HUGE. Like, Shamu huge. We were there for feeding time (dead batteries, drat!), and it was awesome. The sharks eat krill and shrimp, more like a baleen whale than a toothy beast. They hang in the water, almost perpindicular to the surface, and vacuum gallons and gallons of water and munchies into their great wide chompers. Then they whoosh the water out thru their gills, and are left with some serious sashimi. Here's a really horrible photo:

We also saw some things that surely have siblings in hell tormenting souls:
Creepy giant lobsters, look at the rusty things around the regular giant lobster. Who knew it was possible to see a 3 foot long losbter and NOT curse yourself for the ONE time you leave the melted butter at home...

Sand worm beasties. Eeeww. Makes me want to wear my steel toed combat boots to the beach.

We also saw and were seen by one of the coolest guys out there, a cuttlefish. Cuttlefish and octopi are really fascinating creatures. SO SMART!! Seriously, PBS. It rocks.

In keeping with Project Spectrum, we found lots of orange and gold (it was still April then...).
We found orchids:

We found starfish:

We found koi:

We even found Nemo:

I had my April pedi done in PS-style too.

Obligatory knitting content. Here I am knitting Japanese style on my Orangina for the Sexy Knitters Club.