Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"G" Whiz

I love this dishcloth. I love the color (Peaches & Creme #28 Delft Blue) and the fact that is looks so great in my freshly painted kitchen. I love that the pattern was easy and the whole thing knit up in an afternoon. The only thing I don't love about it is that it's not the sweater I've been working on since April! The knitting is complete and I even thought I'd found the perfect buttons...but the drapiness of the rayon is not allowing for the large button that the pattern had called for. So it's back to the button drawing board for me. SOON, I hope to be reporting in about the finished product--my first ever knitted cardigan. Until then, please enjoy this dishcloth. G, isn't it lovely?

Friday, September 03, 2010

This Old Movie

Never let it be said that I don't excel at something. I am a world-class procrastinator. I am by no means lazy, and I think if I were more lazy I'd get much more accomplished on my actual "to-do" list. Rather, I am a veritable genius at creating other things to do instead. For instance, instead of working diligently on the sweater that I started as a Knit-a-Long with my friend Jani, I have written a dishcloth pattern based on a design brought to me by one of my Monday Morning Knitting Group friends. I have knit 3 different dishcloths and one secret Christmas gift. The result of this is that, almost 5 months after beginning this sweater, I still have more to go. Jani, who stayed on track, has finished the knitting of hers and has moved onto blocking and buttons. Yay, Jani!!!!!!

A second example: instead of revising my NaNoWriMo novel, I have, among other things, created a new blog to house my musings about classic film. To be fair, classic movies do figure incidentally in the novel, so it's bound to help with that, but still...pro-cras-tin-ation!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lantern Moon

Lantern Moon is a company that sells knitting stuff--I thought it was just needles. I was over at their blog today, though, and discovered that they not only sell other stuff, they are working to keep textile arts alive.

A quote from their website:
"Historic Preservation Project--a designation Lantern Moon applies to textile techniques and other artistic forms taught from one generation to the next. Through focused efforts to provide a market for this art, we are hopeful that A-Luoi weaving will be around for many generations to come."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August** Plans: A To-Do List for the End of Summer

1) Eat peaches procured from Dillard's Peaches in Greer (aka the best peaches east of the Mississippi). Try not to say, "Wow, these peaches are so great!!" with every bite.

2) Take full advantage of Duran Duran Appreciation Day and play every DD song on Youtube. All. Day.

3) Finish knitting my first-ever sweater-for-me, just in time to put it away until, what? January?

4) Start novel revision by getting all 50,000+ words in one place (more or less in order) on the computer.

5) Begin outline for this November's NaNoWriMo novel, by deciding if an evil twin is necessary or if a nefarious look-alike is sufficient in the cast of characters, PLUS--which one of the people I know in my real life will get killed off this time?? Fictionally, of course.

6) Read City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 in time for the 124th anniversary of the big quake on August 31.

7) Try to take in some of TCM's Summer Under the Stars, especially Norma Shearer on the 13th and Katherine Hepburn on the 20th.

8) Take lots of walks, storing up the memory of the heat and humidity for the long winter days ahead. Bwahahahaha!

**august-adj: respected and impressive
**August-noun: the eighth month of the year

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On knitting up the (perfect) holiday

Today I found myself tidying up my yarn stash, specifically a drawer full of small balls of leftover yarn, in many colors and varying amounts. I was quickly caught up in a haze of creative contemplating. (Washcloth? Cat toy? Bookmark??)

I love little bits of leftover yarn. They don't have a specified purpose, like the yarn I bought to knit a sweater or sock yarn for, well, socks. Instead the little leftover bits are Free Agents, open to drafting by whichever team finds them useful. (Crazy scarf? Afghan square? Hat??)

Without a specified purpose for this yarn, I feel much less pressure. There are fewer expectations for the unassigned scraps. The receipt for their purchase is long gone, so cost is rarely a consideration. Making a mistake with this yarn is not an earth-shattering possibility. Instead, it is a relaxing, yet energizing thing to hang out with them. (Me: "Ya wanna go get some coffee?" The yarn: "Sure, why not?")

The Yarn With Purpose intimidates me somehow. It has Plans, it has its Destination keyed into its GPS, it knows who it wants to hang out with when it gets to where it's going. There are few margins in the life of Yarn With Purpose. (Me: "Ya wanna go get some coffee?" Yarn With Purpose: "Can't. Too busy." Me: "Oh. Well, OK.")

Now there are those knitters who will take Yarn With Purpose and let it know who's boss, changing the original Plan to something else, and doing it without a backward glance or the slightest twinge of guilt. I envy these people their ability to own the yarn instead of letting the yarn own them. I don't understand them, but I envy them. My own capacity for such behavior is relatively nil.

Maybe it's human nature to gravitate towards the things that make us happiest, or maybe it's laziness to take the path of least resistance.

It's a lot like holidays. We have found at our house that the holidays that are the least trouble, those with the fewest expectations and the most fun, are the ones we like the best. The holidays that are more margin and less pressure. When the day rolls around and the family can just enjoy itself, without having to act a certain way or follow a pre-arranged set of rituals, that is what makes a memorable holiday experience.

Since tomorrow is Independence Day, I'm going to remember this and pretend we are constructing our day from leftover bits of yarn, in many colors and varying amounts, without the pressure to create a perfect holiday sweater. I'm not even going to knit a gauge swatch for the day. Happy Fourth, Everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

WWKiP day, 2010

In the course of my daily life it is a rare occurrence which finds me doing something with tangible international significance. This is not a cry for pity or sympathy. I can accept the fact that the average homeschool mom "doesn't get out much."

Instead this is more along the lines of a Really Good Reason Why the
World Wide Knit in Public Day is something that strikes my fancy. Think of it: knitters from all walks of life (even homeschool moms) knitting. In public. Everywhere. It boggles MY mind, anyway.

So on the official WWKiP Day (last Saturday) I was pleased to be in a public place, in this case a monthly political breakfast, and take out my knitting. DaHubby was kind enough to make it a photo-op, and the blurriness I blame on the camera in my phone, not on him.

The cool thing now in WWKiP circles is to KiP anytime this week, so you can pick a day this week that works best for your community. Frankly, this makes me think that it could be done everyday, since "community" is a term with the possibility for loose interpretation.

So, if you knit, try to do it in public this week, and if you don't knit, why not?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Operation Overlord, June 6, 1944

Today we remember the most famous of all "D-Days", the Allied invasion of France, also known as Operation Overlord. In the planning in one form or another since the Allies retreated from Dunkirk in 1940, this D-Day amassed the largest invasion force in history. The Nazis knew that an invasion was imminent, although they did not know where or when it might begin. The Allies used this to their advantage in order to preserve what edge they might have from the element of surprise. For many months leading up to June 1944, misinformation was systematically fed to the Germans in an effort to convince them that the invasion would come at Calais. This strategy helped keep the German focus on areas other than Normandy, ensuring that the Allies would have a chance to gain a foothold in France before the Nazis could mobilize sufficiently to launch an effective counterattack.

Prior to the landing of the troops on the beaches, 24,000 paratroopers were dropped behind German lines in France. Then the first of the more than 6000 ships arrived, and the first troops attempted to land on Omaha beach, wading through the water into relentless machine gun fire. Of all the beaches, Omaha was the most heavily fortified, and American casualties ran high...most of the 5000 killed there were killed in the first hours of the battle.

The invasion of Normandy was the beginning of the end for the Nazis, as the Allies pushed steadily toward Germany. Less than a year later, the war in Europe was finally over.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ginger Rogers--TCM's Star of the Month

If you are reading this and you don't have access to Turner Classic Movies, or you have never heard of Ginger Rogers (gasp), then this might not mean too much to you. But stick around and maybe you'll learn something new...keep those brain cells working and they'll last longer, I always say!

Ginger Rogers was a STAR. She could sing, she could act and she was undeniably Fred Astaire's best dance partner, their ten films together still amazingly stunning today. My own affinity for Ginger was firmly in place long before I knew she lived for several years in my home town of Fort Worth, Texas. No, really! But it is a nice bonus, to say we essentially hale from the same locale. And you know I say that.

If you want to check out this very talented performer and TCM is an option for you, they are showing more than 40 of her films during the month of March. Wednesday, March 10 they will be showing, in no particular order that I can fathom, all 10 of the movies she made with Fred Astaire. I'll get the popcorn....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy Texas Independence Day!!

You know, Bevo gets dirty, and ya gotta wash 'im someplace! In the part of Texas from which I personally hail, however, I never saw such a sight as this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When Passions Collide

Ok, to me the title of this post is eerily reminiscent of those cheesy romance novels we used to read in high school. You know the ones, with half-dressed drawings of flawless beauties standing submissively quivering next to equally half-dressed brooding hunks. "When Passions Collide!" Too funny.

That, however is NOT what this post is about. So sorry!

I was spending some time in Blogland with The Best of WWII, and I noticed that Melissa, the fabulous blogger there, had added a button since my last visit. It announces that she is a proud member of The Greatest Generation Society. Nifty! So I clicked it and applied for my very own membership, which as of this writing is currently "pending". After applying I was directed to this page, and began to utter loud excited noises of approval, along the lines of, "Oh, wow! Look at this!! This is SO coooooooollllllllll!!!!!!!!!!! Woohooooooooo!!!!!!!" You get the idea. It was the same thing that happened when I was in the mall before Christmas with the kids and discovered the WWII: A Day-by-Day History Calendar. Except when you are in the mall with your kids, you can't really put that much volume into your excitement, lest they suffer needlessly the Shame of an Uncool Mom.

The collision of passions came when I settled in to examine this page and blindly swung my feet to the footstool (or is it an ottoman?) and landed them messily on top of the Olympic Reindeer Hat that I've been knitting. Oops! I think the reindeer survived my Lands End loafers on their pointy heads, thank goodness! The moment made me thankful for my passions, ahem, and for the time and ability to pursue them. And for the Olympics which are frankly not exciting me much at this moment--hence the extra knitting and Blogland visits.

So the next time you find yourself in the midst of pursuing one passion, and you stumble over the evidence of another one, be grateful. With our without the cheesy romance novels.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When all else fails...

Eagerness to begin my second attempt at Fair Isle stranded knitting blurred my usual Girl-Scout-Always-Prepared ability today, and I made it out of the house without my bag of knitting gadgets. When I realized I REALLY needed a stitch marker to figure out where in the pattern I was without having to count and re-count every time I looked up from the chart (duh, that is what stitch markers are for, after all!) I began the hunt...

--Gadget bag? Nope.
--Emergency yarn cutter I usually carry in my purse so I can cut a piece of yarn to use as a stitch marker? Nope. Changed purses on the way out the door to church; neglected to transfer the yarn cutter.
--Stray pair of scissors anywhere in the vehicle? Nope.
--Set of keys not currently in use to employ in cutting of yarn? Nope. (House keys are great for this--if you have them on you.)
--Pocket knife being carried by any male member of family (since they always have pocket knives with them)? Nope.
--Stray piece of yarn that doesn't need cutting before being put to use as stitch marker? Nope.


And then I found it: a paperclip in one of the 4563 assorted storage areas in the van. Genius!

When it grows up, this project will be the very cool Olympic Hat (Ravelry Link).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greetings from the snowy South! On Friday night we got 4 inches of snow at our house, and some of our friends got 6 inches out in the country. Aside from the power outages that seem to accompany such weather phenomena around here, it was a wonderful, once in 10 years treat.

Oh, and yes, that scarf is handknit and the cap was crocheted, both products of SuperCraftyDancerGirl's yellow phase.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK and Benny Goodman...

In honor of MLK Day, we at "...by what we give." would like to pay tribute to a bandleader who hired musicians based on their ability rather than their color.

In 1935, Benny Goodman hired Teddy Wilson, a jazz pianist, to join him and Gene Krupa (drummer extraordinaire) as the Benny Goodman Trio. This made Wilson the first black musician to perform in public in a previously all-white orchestra. Soon after, Goodman invited Lionel Hampton (vibraphonist--cool, huh?) to join his Trio (thereby making it a Quartet, because if there was one thing a good bandleader could do, it was count!).

Hampton is quoted as saying this about Goodman:
"As far as I'm concerned, what he did in those days—and they were hard days, in 1937—made it possible for Negroes to have their chance in baseball and other fields."

Here is the Quartet in 1937. You'll swear that Wilson's hands are computer enhanced versions of the real thing, sped up to look that fast! Man, those cats could play!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Talk about the weather

At the risk of drawing the ire of friends who live in much colder parts of the world, I have to mention that the weather here has been a hot topic, so to speak, the last week or so. Today the temperature might eke past 49 to 50, which will seem balmy after so many days of 44 degrees for a HIGH. At night we've had lows of 22 in some places--night after night. Yes, I know this is nothing compared to a summer's day in Scotland, but this is Charleston, SC, not Charleston, WV, and we just don't live like this. Most of us don't even own a real coat, much less thermal longjohns or an ice scraper. This is serious, people. We're running out of cotton sweaters to wear layered over cotton t-shirts under our cotton hoody sweatshirts! This can't be the sort of weather that people retire here to experience, and judging from what I hear from my transplanted Yankee friends, it's worse when you don't expect it. To either add insult to injury or icing to the cake, depending on your perspective, there is a chance that it will SNOW tonight and tomorrow morning.

All these days in the 40's put me in mind of days in the '40's (1940's, of course), so to warm up your day, wherever you are and whatever the weather, here's a hot little number, written by my favorite composer of such tunes, Irving Berlin, and masterfully played by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra. Ah, the days when music was music and musicians were snappily dressed! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Today is Epiphany, the day the Wise Men visited the Christ Child and threw out all the leftover Christmas cookies and candy. They also brought expensive and extravagant gifts to honor the newborn King, but we would never have known about their visit if they had not been so instrumental in helping Mary stick to her New Year's diet resolution. Being Wise, they looked around at all the sweets and said, "Thou ought to consume less sugar, then thou wilt have more energy to look after thine household." And their sage advice left such an impression on Mary that their visit got moved to the top of the list in her guest book, ensuring that it would be remembered for ages to come.

So, join with me, won't you, and get rid of the leftover sugar cookies, the fudge, the chocolate cherry marvels, and that last little heal of banana bread that has been sitting on the kitchen counter getting the slightest bit moldy. You'll be glad you did and your friends and family will recognize your wisdom, handed down through the generations from the Magi. If, on the off chance that your family misunderstands your efforts of sagacity, just tell them what day it is and that this is how Epiphany should be celebrated. And let me know if that works!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A New Year

Something about the turning of the calendar makes me, despite my best efforts to the contrary, no doubt stemming from a deep-seated desire to not always be doing what everyone else is doing, want to make new goals, dream new dreams, and even be randomly optimistic. It is true that a calendar is just a calendar (unless of course your cats gave you one like my cats gave me for Christmas: World War II: A Day-by-Day History) and for the most part, one day is as good as any other for starting fresh. This year, though, I have decided to make an actual List and maybe even stick to it. Who knows, this being the start of a new decade as well as a new year, maybe there will be something magical about the goals we set.

So, in no particular order and without further ado, my

New Year's Resolutions for 2010
1) Read more.
2) Write more.
3) Know that #'s 1 and 2 do not refer in any way to Facebook.
4) Write more knitting patterns.
5) Revise my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel.
6) Eat at Qdoba (aka Home of the Best Guacamole I Have Ever Eaten) more often. This is the sort of resolution that comes directly from eating at Qdoba on New Year's Day and wondering why I do it so infrequently. I decided that if I did eat there more often, I could pull myself out of my food rut (Cheese Quesadilla with Pico de gallo, please) and actually try something else on the menu. It's about more than just the food--it's about getting out of ruts.
7) Take more long walks. Necessary to work off the extra Mexican food!
8) Cut myself more slack.

There you have it--eight little goals that hopefully will make 2010 a better year and maybe even get the new decade started off on the right foot. Happy New Year, Everyone!