Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

happy giftmas!

We watched "fear and loathing in las vegas" with Terry Gilliam's commentary last night. What a marvelous and twisted film.

Then, this morning, I got a terrific gift.
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He's a terrific husband. I dunno what I'd do without him.
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Now, to overeat at my Aunt's house. Better update later.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yule

And now, the corner is turned. The light is returning! Rejoice! Be glad! The long nights are drawing to a close, and this night, the longest night, is one to savor. Once again, our Earth, our Mother, has begun the long task of turning her face toward the Sun, bringing life and light and joy back to us, her children. The light is returning! Rejoice! Be glad! The cold remains, and will deepen, but the light, the hope returns. The Bright Season begins, the Darkness is ending, and we have survived it, we’ve made it through.

Blessed, joyful, hopeful Solstice to all.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

It's the most hideous time of the year

Knitting my poor little fingers to the bone. I have turned the heel and finished the decreases into the foot of sock two of my mom's socks. Mom's are the pastel ones. I have gone about an inch past the cuff ribbing in the second of Anna's socks, hers are the primary ones. Momsocks are sportweight (Knitpicks "Parade") on size 2 needles, Anna's are fingering weight (Knitpicks "simple stripes") on size ones.
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I'll be glad when I can sit down and spin again... it seems like forever since I've had time, and I miss it, badly.

Tomorrow I need to take my boss's scarf and my clerk's scarf in and gift them. I also must interoffice mail my former cubemate's scarf. I have the sinking feeling that I'm forgetting something, but I think at this point, everything is covered that is going to be covered.

And I'm not even christian.

On the bus last week, two women were talking about what toys they were getting their children. One bemoaned the fact that they just don't make enough of the popular toys. "Why don't they make enough? Don't they realize that they're not making enough?" It was all I could do not to say...
"Look, dummy, they don't make enough ON PURPOSE. If there is an inadequate supply, the demand will go WAY up. Look at all the morons who paid thousands of dollars for a playstation three on ebay or such, rather than wait a couple of weeks or months or hell, gods forbid, even YEARS to get one at a reasonable price. It's sheep like you who make 'orgasm elmo' a cottage industry unto itself. "
"Why don't you try this? Buy your kids LESS cheap plastic crap and give them MORE real values, like conservation, and lack of greed, and generosity towards those less fortunate, and the value of love that can't be proven by the pile of gifts under the pagan symbol in your living room."

And about that pile of gifts. The commercials this year are appalling! From the child who dives headfirst into the HUGE pile of gifts (which include a puppy, a hockey net, a motorized bike, and who knows what all else) to get his Best Buy box, to the shrieking kids freaking out over some toy in an ad for grownups (who REALLY gets a Lexus for christmas?), the message is more blatant than usual. More blatant than ever, which in a twisted kind of way, gives me hope.

Why hope?

I'll tell you why.

Maybe the retailers are getting desperate. Maybe people really ARE consuming less. Maybe the populace is waking up to the fact that this time of year, whatever your religious affiliation or lack thereof, is not about who buys the most stuff. It's about the return of hope, the return of the light, the rebirth of the sun, or the son, the days finally getting longer and the promise of spring, just a few short months away. No matter what you believe in, the Winter Solstice happens and is worth celebrating.

Or maybe I'm sadly misguided, and the constant appeals to greed are working, for the time being.

But as ever, I have hope. I hope that people will open their eyes, that greed and consumerism will not prevail, that beauty and lasting craftsmanship will again be valued, and that the things that are really important will regain their true value, and a 1200.00 piece of plastic will not be counted among what gets you into the afterlife of your choice.

I did cheat a little, though. I asked Santa for a hot tub. I hope he comes through!

Joy to all, in all seasons.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Only One pic

Hopefully, I'll have more in two weeks, after the recipient receives it. I'm not sure who all might be led to this blog via family... so this is the only picture you're getting for now.

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The final look, size, and character is currently up to a bunch of pins and styrofoam. I'm not blocking it terribly severely, as I want it to be cushy. Plus, it's big. Really big.

Ok, on to other stuff.
Dinner tonight is thai curry chicken sausage with fried rice and green beans. I have some lovely fruit thawed out for dessert.

Giftmas is really pissing me off this year. The commercials are more craven than usual. Retailers must be really desperate. And people are in a regular buying frenzy. I feel like Charlie Brown. I really hope everyone appreciates my hand made gifts. There's more in them than money can buy.

Recently, I commented on a home and garden thread to someone who wanted to learn to knit. I thought it was good enough to repost.

Find a local yarn store in your area, and take a lesson, if you can. Knit how you're comfortable doing it, and don't let anyone tell you that you're doing it wrong. If the stitches come out looking the way they're supposed to look, you're doing it right. I suggest trying both english and continental methods and doing what works best and is most comfortable for you.

Mainly, relax, take your time, and learn at your own pace. If you get frustrated, put it down.

Take ripping-out sessions as learning experiences and move on without regrets. Appreciate the process as much as the finished product. Knitting is only two stitches, the knit stitch and the purl stitch. And since the purl stitch is actually a knit stitch done backwards, it's only one stitch. it's all in the order of the stitches, the size of the needles, and the shaping of the finished garment.

Don't let anything about knitting or knitting projects scare you. If you see something you love and want to make, do it. My second finished object (after a scarf) was a pair of socks. My blog has some excellent links for knitting related stuff. Jump in and have fun with it!

Lastly, do not cheapen your hours of labor by using cheaply made yarn. Get the highest quality material you can afford that is appropriate for your project, always. I knit and crochet less because I save my money for good yarn. Appropriateness is relative, of course, the appropriate yarn for a nice washcloth and teatowel set (like I made my mother in law for xmas) cost a buck a ball. (Lily Sugar and Cream) You will thank yourself later if you invest in the best material possible for your project.

Oh, and SAVE TIME by CHECKING YOUR GAUGE. Always. Do. A. Gauge. Swatch.

Kind of a very reduced version of the knitting manifesto from livejournal. Very reduced. I liked it, though.

Oh, what a night

Goodness. It's 209 in the morning, and I'm relatively awake.

I found this very amusing.

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I have about nine rows on my mother's shawl to finish. I've finished my father in law's scarf, and have about five repeats on the last of the warshcloths. Other than socks, that's it for holiday knitting. (unless I decide to whip off a scarf real fast for my aunt Ginny, which I might, considering it appears I have time.)

I'm torn between finishing off the shawl and going to bed. I think if I don't go to bed, I'll regret it tomorrow, but then again, tomorrow might be a busy day and I really want to get this thing done this weekend so I can block it and have it dry by next weekend.

It's clocking in at about 320 stitches across on size ten needles. It's big. I'm ending it sooner than I thought I would because if I don't stop, it'll be too big for her. I'm concerned it will already be too big for her. I managed to get a nice color balance despite not using all the yarn I planned on using.

I might actually get a chance to work on my entrelac scarf again before the holidays! Yay! I put it away, it looked like this then.
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And about those socks? I'm into the foot of the first of Anna's, so I have slightly less than one and a half socks to knit. I might try to get one more pair done, we'll see how that goes. Overly ambitious, probably.

Every paragraph, almost, starts with "I". So I guess this post is all about me. Sometimes, that's okay.

All right. It's bed. I'll try to post more tomorrow with pictures, or maybe Monday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is Enough Really Enough for Raul Malo?

Or is it all my imagination?

Last Friday, we went to see Raul Malo at the Byham Theater. Malo’s a very talented singer who used to be the front man for the Mavericks, an alt-country band that was quite popular for a while in the 90s and early 00s. He put out three solo albums since then, a couple of collaborations, and participated in a some tribute projects, most notably (to me), “Beautiful Dreamer-the Songs of Stephen Foster” in which he performed the title track. Malo’s voice is velvet. He has a Roy Orbison range with a Mel Torme’ timbre, and chooses material that is impeccably suited to his talent. The show was amazing. Not only is he an extraordinary singer, but he knows how to play to an audience, how to captivate, enthrall, and mystify. The show wasn’t sold out, but very nearly so, and while the Byham is a small theater, Malo seemed impressed with it, calling it “fancy” and “really beautiful”, stating that “y’all aren’t supposed to keep these! Get with the times! Knock it down and put up a wal mart or something!” which met with boos and laughter from the audience. An audience, by the way, who were very serious Raul Malo fans, judging from the banter, the back-and-forth, and the delivery to the stage of a bottle of tequila and four glasses by a contingent of well-dressed, giggly, 40-something women.

On the way home, Bob and I were discussing why the guy isn’t a huge star. He could be a huge star. He has the talent, the presence, the relationship with his audience. He has the chops, and the connections. He’s good looking, and knows how to work a room. He ought to be huge. He ought to be topping the charts the way Roy Orbison did. He ought to be saturating the pop and country airwaves. But he’s not. He has a small but devoted following among public radio listeners. He seems to sell enough records. He has a very talented small band that is suited to achieving the sound he’s seeking. He doesn’t seem to bother to memorize all the words to all the songs he does (he had to consult lyrics for Beautiful Dreamer, of all things!) but that’s just a matter of buckling down and doing it, plus, not all minds are suited to rote memorization.

Then it hit me. Maybe that’s enough for him.

What a concept! A performer who loves making music, and doesn’t care if he gets mega-famous. An old-school musician, who sings because he wants to sing, plays because he wants to play, shares with his audience instead of taking from them, and won’t concede a thing to the demands of the record industry, or MTV, or VH1 or CMT. A musician with principles? Is it even possible? A musician who makes a living and is modestly well-known without a huge ego or ten thousand lines of merchandise and a viral video on You Tube?

A blue-collar musician?

I don’t know if this is what he is. He may desire fame and fortune, a multi-million dollar record deal with videos in heavy rotation on CMT and play on all the ClearChannel stations twice an hour, a stadium tour, and he may just be falling short of it. But I doubt that’s the case. The sincerity, the obvious joy and enjoyment and the marvelous rapport with the audience, all said to me that he’s doing what he wants, on his own terms, and that, for once, maybe enough IS enough.

Go on, call me an idealistic sap. You’d probably be right. But if I could make 100K a year as a musician, I’d be the happiest girl on the face of the earth, and it would be enough for me.

I do know one thing as an absolute fact. If Raul Malo and k.d. lang ever did a record together, I’d die of joy. Probably on the spot. So guys, don’t do that, ok? At least not for another 40 years or so.

In other news, I've applied for supervisor at my job. They're hiring "10-20" supervisors county-wide, so the odds are in my favor, I think. I look at it this way-I dislike the job. I might as well dislike the job for a ten percent raise and not dealing with a caseload any more.

Finished objects continue to churn their way off of the ends of my knitting needles. I only need to finish my mom's shawl (almost done, maybe 20 more rows at about five, ten minutes a row), finish my father in law's scarf (also almost done, and chunky wool knitting up fast), one half a dishcloth, and one and one half socks. I'll have photos soon, I hope.