May 2, 2006

Coat trailing

Posted in Knitting, Travelling at 3:00 pm by mamalu

I’m Back
Three weeks of vacation and one week of crazy busy at work and I’m back on the blog. Crazy busy continues in fits and starts. Right now it’s hurry up and wait, and I’m not inclined to start work on anything because I suspect it may be a long day—if not today, then tomorrow.

Beijing and Hong Kong were amazing—particularly Beijing (I find that Hong Kong has lots of spirit, but very little heart and soul). This in large part was due to our Beijing guide, my husband’s nephew James, an exceptional young man. He claims his Mandarin is rusty; but he more than made up for it with charm. I don’t think that anyone we met went away from the encounter without a smile on their face. As for details of the trip, I think I’ll leave that up to my husband. I’ll link to his trip report when he gets it done.

The Coat Trailing
I was interested to read that Franklin had tried to join the KnitList and had been rejected without explanation. I wandered over and reaffirmed that it is quite amazingly dull, so, confident that I had nothing to lose, I posted the following:

I was surprised to read on The Panopticon, one of my favourite blogs,
that Franklin had tried three times to join the KnitList and had been
rejected each time without explanation.

What are the criteria for membership of this list? The description of
the list is “a non-commercial, worldwide forum to share knitting
information in an environment of dignity and respect.” Since Franklin
is one of the most dignified and respectful people I have ever
encountered in the knitting world, I find it curious that he would not
be allowed to join. Moreover, I think it is very disrepectful that no
reason be given.

I do hope that I get kicked off as a result. I’ve never been kicked off anything. At any rate, I’ll be interested to see if I get any replies.*

I may join KnitTalk. TechKnit, although interesting, is a little intimidating, and at some point I’d like some pattern sources for a comfy cardi for Kate. Then again, I may try to wing it. The requirements are that it be slouchy without being sloppy, have set-in or raglan sleeves, perhaps a tie belt (in which case I’d make it flare so it doesn’t bunch) and perhaps a shawl collar. It should be in wool, so it doesn’t grow, but be soft and not scratchy, and probably in a DK weight so it’s fine but not impossibly so. Ah well, perhaps when I have some spare cash, I’ll get some knit design software. On the other hand, graph paper is free.

* Ahhhhh. the first came very quickly—an admonition that I e-mail the List Moms because “.They are in charge.” The second just said that she loves Franklin’s blog and his voice.


April 2, 2006

Knitting to go

Posted in Knitting, Travelling at 8:44 pm by mamalu

We leave on Tuesday, so I’ve been trying to work through my to do list this weekend. Unfortunately, I’m at that point of (late) middle age when I start to do something, in the process see something else that needs doing, do that for a bit, and then forget what I was doing in the first place. However, things are looking good. I’m finishing up the laundry, I have two pairs of pants to hem (I seem to buy clothes only when we’re about to go somewhere), and I have to clean out the fridge.

Knitting to goThe most important thing is done. This is the knitting that will sustain me over the next three weeks: the Cobweb Crepe Shawl and a pair of Jaywalker socks in Opal. There’s a second ball of Merino lace that isn’t in the picture, and I just tore the house apart looking for it. It turned up in its own little ziplock in my carry-on. My first idea was to take only the shawl, but I’m not sure how Chinese security view metal knitting needles, so I’m going to work on the socks, on bamboo needles, during the flight from Beijing to Hong Kong. For the flight home, I might put a lifeline in the shawl and bring both. Then, if they don’t like the metal circular, I can abandon the needle and work on the socks.

I’m particularly happy about the little cosmetic case on the right. It’s the perfect size for a ball of sock yarn or a shawl in progress, and it fits in my purse.

March 31, 2006

Good and clever

Posted in Knitting, Varia at 12:31 pm by mamalu

Franklin’s Good Girls versus Bad Girls* field hockey match got me thinking that the good girls (and I believe they was robbed) could also be divided into the “good” and the “clever,” along the lines of the poem by that name. That sent me off to find it, and I was startled to discover that it does not end, as I thought, at the end of the second verse, but that there is a third.

    Good and Clever
    If all the good people were clever,
      And all clever people were good,
    The world would be nicer than ever
      We thought that it possibly could.
    But somehow ’tis seldom or never
      The two hit it off as they should,
    The good are so harsh to the clever,
      The clever, so rude to the good!
    So friends, let it be our endeavour
      To make each by each understood;
    For few can be good, like the clever,
      Or clever, so well as the good.
    Elizabeth Wordsworth

I’m afraid the last verse is a bit of a cop-out; no wonder it has been forgotten. I also looked for more information about Elizabeth Wordsworth. She was described in one place as “grand niece of the poet Wordsworth” and in another as “educator.” I think that hardly does justice to a woman who founded two Oxford Colleges—Lady Margaret Hall and St. Hugh’s College. I vaguely remember my mother saying that she was a friend or at least acquaintance of my grandmother’s. That wouldn’t surprise me, since Granny was something of a bluestocking. She was also friends with Miss Willis of Downe House and made good use of her time by attending lectures in London before she was married (which didn’t happen until she was pushing 30).

I asked my mother if my grandmother had been a suffragette, but I was told that she disapproved of the woman, Emily Davison, who flung herself in front of one of the horses at the running of the 1913 Derby. Miss Davison died of her injuries, but I gather, the cause of Granny’s disapproval was the possibility that it might have resulted in the horse having to be put down.

The shawl won out over the wristwarmers again last night. I am five rows away from the watershed, so I think it’s going on the ferry with me today, and then I’ll
put it aside.

* I can’t tell you how chuffed I am that the link to the Panopticon goes to the right post. (Back)

March 30, 2006

From Bakersfield to Washington

Posted in Knitting, Varia at 11:11 am by mamalu

My daughter is writing a paper for an American history course on the Earl Warren Supreme Court, and last night she e-mailed us a copy for comments and mentioned that she was stuck on a title (her professor likes them to be unusual or provocative). Earl Warren was an interesting man, one of a small percentage of Supreme Court justices from humble beginnings, his rulings championed the powerless because he insisted on fairness. When Warren was a DA in California, his father was murdered, but he refused to allow the police to eavesdrop on a suspect, and the murder was never solved.

Given that he was raised in Bakersfield, California, the title was a no-brainer—

   You don’t know me, but you don’t like me
   You say you care less how I feel
   But how many of you that sit and judge me
   Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

The cobweb crepe centre is approaching its watershed. I am about 10 rows away from 81 side loops (160+ rows and stitches), when I can start decreasing. But the wristwarmers are languishing on the sofa, and I promised to mail them to Kate before we leave on Tuesday. It looks as though the Air Canada passengers from Toronto to Beijing will have to put up with the crazy counting lady. Poor Anselm, these things make him very uncomfortable.

March 27, 2006

At last, a post about knitting

Posted in Knitting at 9:07 pm by mamalu

This was supposed to be a blog with a lot of knitting content, but there hasn’t been much to report lately. I’m making my daughter a pair of wrist-warmers from Heartstring’s Filigree Lace pattern. I cast on for the larger size for the lace part and did six repeats instead of three, so she can wear them on days when it’s not cold enough to bother with mitts and pull them down if her hands get cold. The lace is finished for both of them, I’ve decreased down to the smaller size, and now I’m slogging through the ribbing on the first one. I hate ribbing and I hate twisted ribbing even more, and I dropped a bunch of stitches on Saturday when I was watching a video (Walk the Line, I liked it), so they’re not going well. I won’t bother to photograph them, because they’re in a mottled dark purple, the colour of a grape popsicle, that won’t show up the rather lovely lace.

The other knitting in active rotation is the Cobweb Crepe Shawl from Heirloom Knitting. I want to finish the centre garter stitch square (knit diagonally) and pick up the stitches around the circumference before we leave on vacation. That way, I won’t be counting rows on the plane (a woman talking aloud to herself while holding fine knitting needles might make the other passengers nervous). Although I expect I’ll sleep a bit, the flight is 15 hours and I’ll have a variety of books on my iPod, so I’m hoping to make good progress. In the meantime, though, it’s just a garter stitch triangle, and I’m trying to resist the temptation to rush through it. I’d almost reached the end of the increasing rows, but there were some badly formed stitches that didn’t want to be coaxed back into shape, so I ripped back to start again. I know it’s hard to make garter perfect and it’s called a “crepe” shawl for a reason, but I wanted to see if I could do better if I slowed down. I can.

March 26, 2006

The boys

Posted in The Cats at 5:17 pm by mamalu

We have two cats, collectively referred to as “the boys.” The older one, a black-and-white short-hair, has been with us for about four years. He was a stray who was hanging around the neighbourhood. Hanging around, I might add, not in a cringing hangcat kind of way, but sitting hopefully on people’s doorsteps. Our next-door neighbour took him in, and, since she has two dogs, proceeded to shop him around the neigbourhood. We were catless, following the death of Beatrix Potter-Cat*, so we adopted him and named him Wandering Aengus after the hero in the poem by Yeats with the marvellous closing lines:
“ And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.”

Wandering AengusGus has a tendency to stoutness (a fallout of the stray mentality of eating whatever and whenever he can), so he looks rather like a Kliban cat—broad of beam with little round marble eyes. He’s a hunter, and we have twice discovered decaptitated rats in the flower bed next to the front door (which have earned him the nickname Ratboy). He has a wide territory and is also a bit of a scrapper. He’s not a cuddly cat, but one of his most endearing characteristics is that he will roll onto his back and present his tummy to be scratched if he’s sitting out on the front door when you get home. I was rather crushed to find out from my husband, who has made a study of the cats since he retired, that Gus is quite indiscriminate about this and will roll on his back for pretty much anyone.

Travis McGeeWe acquired the other cat last July. We somehow got it into our heads that Gus would benefit from the company of another cat. This (as it turned out) misguided notion coincided with Gus’s annual visit to the vet who had taken in a mother cat and her kittens. The one we thought had the best chance of standing up to Gus had been named Travis by the staff. We didn’t particularly like the name, but it seemed a bit mean to change it, so we called him Travis McGee (McGee for short) after the John D. MacDonald hero.

McGee is a total charmer and has a remarkably sweet disposition, though after we decided to take him the staff variously pointed out how bad he was: “That Travis is trouble.” “He’s a meathead.” “He’s bad, but he’s handsome.” And from the vet: “Gus isn’t going to know what hit him.”

He will turn a year old around April 1, and we’re hoping that he will continue to have the sense of fun that colours everything he does. He likes to play—retrieving jingly balls and playing parachute when you make the bed. Gus knows only too well what hit him, but he has shown true nobility and has for the most part turned the other jowl, despite provocation and outright sass from McGee.

* BPC was a rather characterless long-haired tabby. I attribute her dullness to two things. She spent her first few weeks with us shut up in the basement until she was old enough for flea treatment (this was in the days before Program—or in the days before we knew of it). She also disappeared between November 11 and December 26 one year. It was either alien abduction or she got stuck in someone’s shed. She returned rail thin and easily spooked.

March 25, 2006

Was someone trying to be funny?

Posted in In the news at 9:27 am by mamalu

Am I the only person who caught a pathetic echo of Churchill in Bush’s speech on March 20?

Churchill Bush
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,… we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,… So we will fight them in Iraq, we’ll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

I have an image of how this happened. The speechwriters are sitting round trying to come up Dubya’s speech in Cleveland. They had already managed a real knee slapper in the opening: “… we believe in free speech, so you’re going to come and give us a speech for free.” But now they need a loud and resounding declaration of their resolve. Nothing. So, to break the silence some junior guy says, “Hey, how about something like …We will fight them in Iraq, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight … ”. Well, everyone thinks that’s the best thing they’ve heard since “axis of evil.” So, now this guy has a problem—does he say that he was joking or does he say nothing, realizing that pointing out to these guys their stupidity in not recognizing that it was a parody would not be not a positive career move.

March 23, 2006

No promises

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:05 pm by mamalu

Oh dear. This is rather like writing on the first page of a diary. It doesn’t seem right to pretend that I’ve been doing this for ages; on the other hand, I’d hate to be reading solemn promises six months from now that will make me cringe.

So I will simply say, this is my first blog entry. I make no promises about what I will write or how often. I will write a lot about knitting and cooking. I will also write about spinning, about what I’m reading, and about things that strike my fancy.