knitdds: thoughts on knitting, food, life











You may or may not remember that I postulated in this venue some time ago about how we needed a book club for knitters. You know, an opportunity to bring miles and miles of boring stockinette for that sweater or baby blanket, knit, and have intelligent conversation with like-minded folks about interesting fiction and non-fiction.  

 Well, Franklin went on in his latest post about his library, and got me thinking. . .and knitmasala has come up with the perfect book to initiate this grand tradition, so here we go:

1st meeting of the Stockinette and Sophistry book club, Chicago chapter, will meet on Saturday, February 17, at either 2 or 4pm. The book will be The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai. Desai won the 2006 Booker Prize for this novel, and she’s a phenomenal young Indian writer. Meeting venue to be decided, but we are considering, among other options, the Julius Meinl on Southport, the Uncommon Grounds coffeehouse on Racine, and any available location in Evanston. We will attempt to meet monthly.

If you live in the chicago area and would like to join us, email me at stockinetteandsophistry@gmail.com

It’s snowing again here. . .ugh, or hooray. I never can decide, the city looks so beautiful while it’s snowing, but the traffic is always exponentially worse.



from Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

The top ten ways why being a parent is like being a knitter:

1. You have to work on something for a really long time before you know if it’s going to be okay.

2. They both involve an act of creation involving common materials, easily found around the house.

3. Both knitting and parenting are more pleasant if you have the occasional glass of wine, but go right down the drain if you start up with a lot of tequila or shooters.

4. With either one, you can start with all the right materials, use all the best reference books available, really apply yourself, and still get completely unexpected results.

5. No matter whether you decided to become a parent or a knitter, you are still going to end up with something you have to hand wash.

6. Parents and knitters both have to learn new things all the time, mostly so that they can give someone else something.

7. Both activities are about tension. In knitting, the knitter has control of the amount of tension on the object in progress. In parenting, the opposite is true.

8. No matter how much time you spend at knitting or parenting, you are still going to wish you could spend all your time at it. Which is odd, since both activities are occasionally frustrating enough that you want to gnaw your own arm off.

9. Kntting and parenting are both about endurance. Most of the time it’s just mundane repetitive labor, until one day, you realize you’re actually making something sort of neat.

10. One day, you will wake up and realize that you are spending hours and hours working at something that is costing you a fortune, won’t ever pay the bills, creates laundry and clutters up your house, and won’t ever really be finished. . . and the only thing you will think about it is that you can’t wait to get home and do more.



{January 24, 2007}   Protection. . .

I’m used to being a strong chick. Doing what I need to and doing it well, and in general, fending for myself, with a little additional help from my husband.

Lately, though, I seem to feel the need to be protected, and folks are all for protecting me.  Is this a normal side effect of pregnancy, or have I finally lost it?

For example, in the last several days I’ve read a couple of accounts of women losing their babies at or nearly at full term. One in a book (strangely enough, the Yarn Harlot book), one on a blog (KnitMongrel’s secret pal, here if you’d like to visit and support). Both made me tear up, get angry, scared, and frustrated. And I wished both stories had come with warning labels. As in,

 WARNING: Please do not read if you are pregnant, as this will cause you to become unduly concerned about your health and your baby’s health and, simultaneously make you more neurotic than you thought it was possible to be.

I’m (touch wood) gratefully very low risk and enjoying a wonderful pregnancy. I know these things happen, and I’m sorry for the women to whom they happen, because that’s my worst nightmare at this point. I’m already (unnaturally, it seems) neurotic enough because of my perceived responsibility towards this child and its life support. I tend to be the person who goes through life thinking “Oh, it’s all going to be ok”. . .but I would imagine that’s how these women were feeling when this happened to them.

On top of everything, I had a little guy show up yesterday with pockmarks all over his face. Now, frankly, I’ve had the chicken pox, and theoretically, I should be immune. But first, if his mother suspected he had chicken pox, she should not have been bringing him to a crowded pediatric dental office. Second, there seems to be a miniscule chance that the virus (were it NOT chicken pox) could be passed on to the baby, despite all my infection control protocol. So, when I spoke to my partner, (who’s 59 and male), he immediately volunteered to see this kid so I wouldn’t have to, and I sat in the office feeling like an idiot until he finished. I’m not fond of playing the princess and crying damsel in distress, but I felt responsible towards my kiddo first, rather than my patient, and that’s the first time it’s ever happened that way. 

I suppose that if there ever was a time in my life to be selfish and to let myself be protected, this is it, right? I mean, it’s not just me anymore, and it won’t be just me anymore for a long time to come. But I still feel vaguely guilty about it all. Maybe that will go away and maybe it won’t. Maybe it’s best just to continue to be thankful for what I’ve got.  



{January 23, 2007}   It’s a BOY!

Some of you might have noticed the winter issue of knitty had not one, but two sweet stuffed animals that were knit: Sheldon, and Norberta the dragon. Now, it’s not like I don’t have enough plans for future projects. . .or like I’ve made any useful New Year’s resolutions (like actually knitting something for myself), but I immediately thought to myself. . .while both of these animals are on my future knit list, I might actually make Norberta because hey, dragons are awesome, and it might be fun. Plus, it’s just always been fun for me to make stuff for other people that they actually use, and stuffed animals, especially knit ones, are always awesome.

Well, just the other day, I was blindsided by my most magnificent baby gift so far. . .the fantastic knitmasala made me Sheldon, and somehow managed to do it right under my nose without me even getting a hint that she was doing it! AND. . .he’s got googly eyes (I always was a sucker for googly eyes).  . .and I just know that this kiddo is going to love him. Check out my picture of him here: Sheldon the turtle 

I made so much noise over it that I actually lost my voice (that happens occasionally) and it took the rest of the week to recover. If you’re looking for more pictures of sheldon, go on over and visit knitmasala, you might notice that she’s “vying for favored auntie status”. That’s partially because she claims that I am the “favorite auntie” of her gorgeous daughter, and it’s not fair because I get to be the fun one while she has to be the mom. Now she’ll have a chance to be the fun one, and of course this kid is going to love her.

 Well, yesterday, I had my big 20-week ultrasound, where they look at all the major organs and systems, etc, to make sure things are going alright. Coincidentally, if you want to know what flavor you’re getting, this is a good time to find out, since things aren’t TOO crowded in there and as long as the kiddo’s willing to open up his/her legs, you can get a peek. Hence, the title of this posting. Yes, it’s a boy. Names, we’re going to keep secret until the kid comes out, and anyway we’re still looking around, as I’m really hoping for one Indian name and one Western name.

Well, I texted knitmongrel with the big news, and she shows up at choir last night with these: Booties from Knitmongrel. Go on and look, I’m waiting. . .

You know, I made a pair of these for my friend Pete’s baby, and they’re stunning. Impractical, sure, since they’re made with Lorna’s Angel that’s part angora and stunningly soft and pettable, and non machine washable, but who the heck cares? These things are going on those precious little feet the second those feet are clean and dry enough to wear them. Aren’t they amazing?!?!?

Boy, this kid is lucky to have TWO aunties who are obsessive knitters and intent on spoiling him. I’m going to have to be strict, I can already tell 😎

In other news, we were in Iowa this weekend to visit the husband’s grandfather who turns 90 tomorrow, to celebrate his big birthday with an Iowa steak dinner. What do you give someone who’s turning 90? Why, a handknit scarf, of course!

Future great-grandparents

This is my husband’s grandfather and grandmother on his dad’s side. Aren’t they adorable? This is the bobble blue scarf by Karen B, with some modifications. I decided to abort the majority of the bobbles as they make the scarf less feminine, but it’s in lovely Misti Alpaca Chunky in a nice dark brown to match his formal winter coat. I kept the bobbles at each end, and left out the rest in the middle. When he pulled it out of the box, his wife threatened to steal it, so I figure I’ll make her a version for herself with all the bobbles, maybe in the nice blue that Karen has on her pattern. This was so easy and so fast to make, it took me a couple of days of dedicated knitting (1-2 hours at a time), and seriously, consider the grafted option, it came out with a lovely diamond in the middle.

I really cherish that these two are still around and sharp enough to enjoy their great-grandson, all of my grandparents passed ages ago and I imagine them looking down occasionally as I do things that remind me of them. I know I wish they could share the joys of this pregnancy and motherhood with me. Having a baby is a sharp reminder of the fact that life goes on, and moves pretty fast sometimes. Hope this kid makes his ancestors proud.



Okay. I’m feeling pretty cool. Since the new year, I have officially cast on 3 projects, and I’ve finished 2 of them already! One is the previously mentioned calorimetry head scarf for the lovely knitmongrel (which looks SO cute on her, wait until you see the pictures!). The second is the potato chip scarf from Knitpicks, another project enabled by knitmongrel who gave me her leftover suri dream so I could knit something for my momma’s birthday (which again, I’m missing a picture for), and the third is my abbreviated version of the bobble blue scarf by the fabulous Karen B of  Yarn Is My Metier, which I modified to have far fewer bobbles because it’s for my grandfather-in-law’s 90th birthday and the bobbles make the scarf look much more feminine. Wait’ll you see the yarn for this scarf, it’s Misti Alpaca chunky in a luscious dark brown, to match my grandad-in-law’s cute winter coat that’s tan with a dark brown fur collar. I better remember to take pictures.

Now, we’re headed to Iowa this weekend for the big 90th birthday celebration, and I better get rocking on that scarf, since I’m only halfway through the 1st half!



{January 16, 2007}   Hi Miz Meg!!

Well, this is my first time doing the whole secret pal thing. All in all, I’d say it’s been tons of fun. . .let me clue you in to the events of the past few months from both sides. . .

First, my secret pal (who has yet to reveal herself) went way out of her way to send fun things, all in green, and plenty of chocolate. She even sent me baby stuff! I’ve really enjoyed getting her packages, they’ve been great treats throughout this crazy fall and early winter.

Second, I got my own secret pal, Meg of Wine Meg Up, which if you’ve never been to visit her blog, you should really go. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned about this feisty, talented knitter:

1. She has a super cute sense of style and I love the projects she knits and creates. It’s been fun to watch her posting her finished objects and her crafty Christmas gifts.

2. She lost a dear pet this fall, which made her sad and made me sad. I cried so hard when we put our westie to sleep years ago, and just thinking of him makes me teary sometimes.

3. She also, very happily, got engaged. . .and somehow managed to knit socks for her future mother in law!!

4. She’s a PACKERS FAN!!! I just found this out recently, actually. Turns out the fiance is from Madison, and there’s a family connection to the Packers. Un-be-lievable!

5. I really am hoping that she’ll use the ribbon, the yarn, and the book I gave her to make the lace-up gloves from the AlterKnits book. Because I really wanted to make them for her, but it’s been a busy fall for me with the pregnancy.

 So, Meg, this post is for you!! Feel free to browse around and get to know me, and I hope we continue to stay in touch. I’ll certainly be adding you to my bloglist!! Lotsa love, me.



{January 11, 2007}   Thank You Secret Pal!!!!

Darlings,

I’m starting to get cranky with wordpress. Either I’m too much of a blogger newbie to figure out how to make things work, or the ethernet is messing with my head. . .whichever it is, I can’t get wordpress to behave when it comes to posting pictures. Anyone have any better recommendations for a poor PC girl with no time on her hands?

Anyway, here’s a link so you can see a full size picture (no, I couldn’t get a thumbnail) of my newest secret pal gift. Obviously, she’s spoiled me completely rotten, which is starting to feel normal since I’ve been pregnant (ask knitmasala and knitmongrel, both of them have been treating me and my belly like a princess, and so has my mom, for that matter!) I’ll let you go see and come back. . .

Secret Pal Gift. . .#3!!!

. . .see, isn’t she great? She’s been blogstalking (in a GOOD way) and even though I’ve been a boring poster, she’s been paying attention and sending me LOVELY yarn and fun books to knit for babies!. Secret Pal, once again, you rock!!

Now, here’s a picture of the hat I made for the son of my orthodontist friend Dr. Katie. Dr. Katie had a baby in early December, so I finished off this hat and a pair of booties from the same yarn (same pattern as from before for my friend Pete’s baby, but different yarn).

Hat for Baby Michael

Innit cute? The hat is a Kate Gilbert pattern called “Shining Star” (so well constructed, very easy to follow, and very interesting to knit!), and the booties originate from knitmongrel’s LYS lace guru. And I combined those with an eminently practical gift. . .a transportable diaper changing pad. (the other option was a onesie, for the same excessive price, that said “I don’t floss”. . .I realize we’re both dentists but seriously, over $30 for a onesie makes me cringe)

Once again, I am cranky with wordpress because the booties would only download as a full size picture. Seriously, I don’t have the time or the inclination to figure this out.

Now, there’s a couple more things you need to see, but you’ll see them later (because duh, I have other stuff to do. . .not that I don’t love you guys).

FIRST is the stunning “Backyard Leaves” scarf that Knitmongrel made for me. . .but it’s busy re-blocking at the minute and maybe once it’s done I can take some pictures.

SECOND is a picture that I took of my cutie-patootie bro wearing HIS christmas gift, which is a simple rib-brim hat made in black, yummy karabella cashmere. But as I took the pic with Dad’s camera, I have to wait until I get back to their house to post it.

THIRD is a picture, hopefully in the near future, of knitmongrel wearing her happy calorimetry head-scarf. Cause it looks really cute on her with her reddish hair, and I made it using a lovely Malabrigo colorway that included browns, oranges and greens and a fun tiger-claw button. And for those of you who’ve never knit with Malabrigo (Thanks Karen B and knitmongrel for turning me onto it). . umm, go out and get some. What are you waiting for? It’s soft and fun and pliable and generally a real dream to knit with. Oh, just one caution: it turned out BIG. Now, she’s got a large-ish head, and it fit her much better than it fit me. . .but be careful if you have a small face and/or head and you’re knitting this pattern with Malabrigo. The knitty forum has some advice for you if you do.

I know this was a long post (and my first of the new year?) but hey, I had a lot to say.

Happy New Year dears and best of luck to ya.



{December 14, 2006}   Enough blaming the bed. . .

I know I’ve been a crummy poster over the last 2 months or so. . .OK, well, the truth is, I have an excellent excuse, and it’s the same thing that’s been consuming my daily life for the last 11 weeks or so. . .

I’m expecting a baby!!! A few of those who check in with this blog are already in the know, but hey. . .there it is, it’s out there now.  I’m 16 weeks along, due May 30th, and we’ll find out what we’re having (boy/girl) next month. Of course we’re thrilled, and both sets of grandparents are even more excited, considering this is the first granchild on both sides (oh yes, and considering the fact that my mom has been hinting about grandchildren since I turned 18). Anyway, it’s extraordinary to be simultaneously thrilled and terrified, and doubly extraordinary to have the realization that I’m nurturing a complete human being somewhere in my belly and that I’m completely responsible for the welfare of said human being for the next 5 months.

 I have some sweet baby hat and bootie pictures for you (not for me, for my good orthodontist friend who just had a sweet wee boy), but I’ll have to save those for another time, it’s a swimming day. (Swimming, as it turns out, is excellent exercise for the pregnant lady)

I will leave you with some pictures of the new sweet fuzzy guy in my life, Mortimer.

Mortimer!Mortimer came to me yesterday, freshly cast off the needles of the amazing knitmongrel (where does this girl have the time and what have I done to deserve such fabulous love?) If you’re looking for more pics of Mortimer, you can head over to her blog, which is both updated more regularly and hilariously funny. . .and I’ll go back to the sweet soft fuzziness that is my new buddy Mortimer. I can’t imagine the kiddo isn’t going to love this guy.



O Happy Day, my mattress arrived on Thursday and sleeping in it is the most absolute, incredible bliss.

So much for not knitting, now you’ll know what I’m doing instead. . .sleeping, continuously, for glorious 24 hour stretches. Cooking? Pshaw. Knitting? Please. Sleep is so fantastic, I’ll just be doing that all the time.

Ah. Would that that could be my life.

Have I ever mentioned that my aunt runs an Indian restaurant in Milwaukee? And that she’s an amazing cook? Herein lies a small space for a vent that I will always have regarding any Indian restaurant that is not hers:

I am all for people trying new foods and broadening their taste horizons. However, I will venture to say that the majority of Indian restaurants out there are trash. That is, they do not serve real Indian food, they serve Indian restaurant food. In western cooking terms, it’s not like you have perfectly grilled steak at home every day, right? Well, in Indian restaurants, you get a set selection of mostly Northern Indian specialties, often badly made (but we won’t go there), often overly rich, and generally lots of meat. Okay, hello people, at least 80% of India is Hindu. As in, vegetarian!! Restaurants that serve decent vegetarian fare are few and far between!! The meals that you will get if you visit someone’s home and the meal that you would get at an Indian restaurant are NIGHT AND DAY different. (That is of course, except for my aunt’s restaurant. I know I’m biased, but she really is a genius.)

So what am I saying. I guess, get out of your butter chicken fixation and go try something different. Indian food varies depending on the region the chef comes from, the language they speak, even the religion they practice. My parents are from two different regions of India and their food couldn’t be more different. My aunt, who’s from Gujarat in Western India, has picked up recipes from all over India to serve at her restaurant. Why? Because she likes to play with her food and she’s good at it. And if you walked into the restaurant, she’d serve you the same things she would serve you at her own house. So get out there, folks, and experiment with Indian food. And if you’re in Chicago, New York, or Milwaukee, and looking for a recommendation, email me or comment on the blog, and I’ll be happy to help.

Rant over. 😎 Back to sleep. Hee hee. 



{November 9, 2006}   Thank You, SECRET PAL!!!!!

Interesting. I used to be able to upload pretty little thumbnails which you could then click on to enlarge if necessary. Now, however, not only can I NOT do that, I am also unable to upload pictures and then post them in a single step, because there are “errors on the page”. I wonder if this has anything to do with my browser, because it worked seamlessly the once that I tried it with Firefox. Grrr.

 In any case, here is the SECOND lovely gift from my wonderful beautiful secret pal. You’ll note the dark green Auracania 100% wool (which I think will felt up beautifully), the unnamed light green wool. . (which, I wonder, does she think I should use it for the branching out scarf?ooooo. . .that would be so PRETTY) and all the luscious CHOCOLATE.  .which has long since been broken into but not completely consumed (I’m a one piece at a time kind of girl).

Secret Pal Gift #2

In other news, my friend Suni is on The Panopticon, because she went this weekend to the Dulaan knit in that Franklin organized. I was at the Iowa-Northwestern game (yes, in Iowa, go Cats!), so I was unable to join her, but she nearly finished the hat she started. Just look for pictures of a stunning indian woman, you can’t miss her. . .her smile is a mile wide.

Christmas knitting started, but coming along painfully slow, as is the case with everything these days. The interminable baby blanket. . .still working on it, like a row at a time.

Secret Pal, thank you so much for your lovely gifts, I can’t wait to make your acquaintance!



et cetera