Tuesday, December 06, 2005

little miss artsy fartsy

The Mercenary is coming to a bathroom near you.

Some of you may recall my baby sis, The Mercenary, aka the printmaking BFA artsy-fartsy girl. Very talented, very artsy. And oh-so-very fartsy.

I pondered whether this post would embarass the heck out of her if she ever caught wind of it. (Be glad it's not vice-versa with you catching her wind!) She may get flustered momentarily, but she's the first to admit that she's got stomach issues. Chalk it up to IBS, a weak stomach or just plain bad luck, but when you've gotta go, you've gotta go, and boy, does the girl ever go.

Call us cheap, but we don't bother taking her out for extravagant celebration meals anymore. She knows as well as we do that her gift will wind up down the tubes within minutes of consumption. She set a new record this past birthday, when she turned 21. We'd barely touched our entrees after finishing appetizers when she disappeared to the bathroom for a full half hour. My MIL, a pretty straight-laced, serious woman, asked whether we should send a search and rescue team after her. Don't get me wrong; most 21 year olds do spend the better part of their birthday evening in the bathroom. But at least they can justify their toilet time with the likes of 2 margaritas too many or a keg party. Imagine if it were a cheese quesadilla that did you in.

Now, I can't really talk, because much as I love Mexican, it does me in pretty quick, too. But for The Mercenary, something as innocuous as grilled chicken breast with plain rice will send her sprinting with a can of Lysol. Lysol is not normally her weapon of choice, though. Something very unappealing about the lingering aroma of evergreen manure. In a pinch, she'll use the courtesy flush and light-a-match method. But she brought us into the millenium last Christmas by stuffing our stockings with a new high-tech Japanese product called Nonshu. (I imagine that the Japanese translates roughly into something like, "No! Smell, shoo!") I'm telling you, this stuff if phenomenal! It's the Addi Turbos of toilet treatment. One drop and everything's coming up roses.

Now that this post has really gone down the tubes, let's Nonshu a little, shall we?

Wednesday is Holiday Countdown KAL day, so I started working on a little something for The Mercenary. Sure, I considered making her a toilet paper cozy, but decided against it since TP doesn't get much of a chance to sit idly about in her bathroom. It's all business, all the time at her place. So I went instead with a little number you've probably seen all over the blogosphere, the infamous Lelah.Image hosted by Photobucket.com A while back, I showed her a bunch of tops I was interested in making, and she mentioned how much she liked Lelah, so I'm hoping she'll get a kick out of it. I've had some issues with lace before, but it looks like we may have a future together, after all. It was pretty fun knitting up that fishtail lace pattern, and this Wool of the Andes in Cranberry is not half-bad, either. Warning: you engineer types with math-inclinations and/or OCD compulsions may want to skip over this part where I explain my fancy-schmancy math calculations. Be it known that I'm not responsible for any ensuing coronaries.

The catch is that since this is a surprise, I couldn't exactly go and measure The Mercenary. So I'm going by kinesthetic memory, aka winging it. Which is kinda bad when this top is sorta fitted. My precise measurements have The Mercenary pegged at about-my-size but-a little-smaller. According to my calculations, I'm a small, so she's a smaller. From there, I painstakingly extrapolated (aka randomly decided) to knit a size 34" bust with size 7 and 9 needles instead of 9 and 10's to achieve something between 29-32". Why? Because I felt like it. Did I swatch? Yes, but there exists little purpose for gauge when you don't know what measurements you're shooting for in the first place. I also added an extra pattern repeat, because my sis is not the belly-baring type. Being cold makes you go more, don't you know. In the final analysis, it's a little tight for me, which was exactly my intention, so my precise plan of keeping nothing constant and varying all the variables just to freak out my inner scientist seems to be working.

I'm crossing my fingers that Lelah that fits The Mercenary. I'm soliciting all the advice I can get on this. Especially for those of you who've knit Lelah, is there anything specific I should be wary of or anything I ought to know about the fit? Ah well, even if it doesn't work out, like everything else in life, there's always a lesson learned. Like learning that artsy-fartsy sisters, while not cost-effective at fine dining, are simply extraordinary at buffets. The unspoken benefits of having dual loading and unloading capacity!

Bossy has made it exceedingly clear to me that he is not pleased with his prolonged blog hiatus. "Why am I not on the bits of knits?" he demanded, arms crossed and scowl in place. Okay, Bossy, this one's for you. From our weekend holiday adventures, Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comhere's Bossy incognito on the swings with his fab new Thomas sunglasses and Stinky practicing her best orangutan smooch with her baby. Finally, we've been trying unsuccessfully to get that dreaded perfect holiday photo. I wish there were some Cute on Command button I could press. I think we got off easy last year, with only 22 shots before arriving at a decent one. We're up to 59 this year and still no dice. Of my faves, there's Bossy strangling Stinky in front of the mall display Image hosted by Photobucket.comand this one,Image hosted by Photobucket.com which could almost be a real contender, save for the phantom limbs in the foreground. Looks like this is going to take us a couple more tries...thank goodness for Costco and expedited shipping!


Anonymous said...

The sweater for your sister looks great. she's going to love it. Your math made perfect sense to me.
We just did the holiday photo thing too. I like the strangle photo. It's so natural.

Karen said...

Another great story to read over morning coffee - I miss you when you have too much schoolwork to blog! (Is it all done, btw?) I agree with Bossy - it was time for more pictures of him and Stinky. So cute . . . you could always crop out the phantom limbs if you get desperate. Sorry, I haven’t tried Lelah, but your random measurements aren’t bothering my OCD tendencies at all.

Brynne said...

Beautiful knitting -- I love the lace pattern. The kids are cute, too!

Jenn said...

I think Lelah looks great - but sadly I have no advice for you. I agree - crop those phantom limbs and use that second photo - it's so cute!

Acornbud said...

Lelah is looking gorgeous! That lace is beautiful. The pictures of S & B are priceless. I was always amazed at some of the Christmas card pictures. One of my friends had 5 children and they all were looking at the camera, looking happy and well adjusted, and smiling at the same time every year. How does that happen?

Anna said...

The Lelah's looking great! I've never knit it before, so I'm sorry, but I have no advice on it.

I like the strangling picture. So sibling like.

Kim said...

Good luck with the Christmas picture--we are still trying to get a good one here too. The sweater looks great so far :)

Jennifer said...

The kidlets are adorable!!

As far as Lelah, she's pretty stretchy, and you could always seam the top, leaving a little unseamed so that you can adjust the elastic if need be before finishing 'er up.

Many in my family have the mercenaries problems. Lactose intolerance... It must be common in Asian families. Pizza is never a good choice at family gatherings.

Lynda said...

Hey - the kids are so cute, I didn't even notice the phantom limbs until they were mentioned!

And that Lelah - pretty!!! Very nice lace work. I'm finding I like knitting the lace patterns more and more... there's something addictive about them!

Allison said...

Oh my goodness, I'm going to make my own fartsy sister read your post. Her particular issue is brought on by nerves (her freshman 15 last year? right down the tubes), but I know she would get a kick out of this!
The lace looks gorgeous - lovely color choice :)

Talitha said...

Frankly, I think Stinky's face in that strangling pic is just too priceless for words! She looks unimpressed, yet docile. Your lelah looks great. I am fixin to make her myself when I ever get any time off of baby knitting (baby 3 of the year is now on the way!). Your story of the Merc reminds me of my old man hubbard (aka Davin). He's just as bad. Honestly he has to disappear in the middle of every meal. And, sometimes, he takes these cayenne pills and when he's taking those he goes around 10 times a day. That is not healthy, not at all. I tend to be the opposite so I figure our kids may have normally acting intestinal tracts. Now THAT's something to look for in a mate!

Danielle said...

Hah! Love the truth about Xmas photos. A friend of a friend had such a hard time getting her 11-month-old to pose for a photo, she ended up making cards with the baby in full shriek mode, fists flying, hair sticking out. Everyone thought it was hysterical!

christine said...

Chris - what an aromatic household you must have grown up in - Lavender Dad and "gastrointestinal-scent" sister! Now I want to meet both of them!
Love the pictures!!! Who said that the holidays have to only involve PERFECT!

Stricken madchen said...

Your kids are too cute! Love those holiday outtakes. ;-) And isn't it fun to make fun of our younger siblings? I only have 1, but 2 older ones who still make fun of me. I think her Lelah looks great. I hope it fits her!

keohinani said...

i think we've tried every aerosol air freshener on the planet! lysol DOES NOT WORK! it just gives the poopy bathroom smell a lemony alcohol scent. ugh! and my my college roommates used to use the melon scented glade one all the time. i could NOT eat any sort of melon for months. i may have to find that nonshu stuff. i would carry it with me everywhere and use in every toilet i encounter--even the neiman marcus one!
so your dad eats all kinds of "exotic" foods and your sister is a chronic bathroom go-er; i still refuse to believe your family is as crazy as you claim...especially with kids as cute as yours :) nevertheless, your stories of your family's eccentricities crack me up!
i haven't tried that knit picks yarn...i like the stitch definition and the color! i think it's so funny how your sizing goes from "small" to "smaller." hehehe. i'll keep my *fingers crossed* that it fits...after i finish typing out more comments :)

Sonya said...

Your Lelah looks great. And your math makes perfect sense to me. I'm a strong proponent of winging it. But as a history major, I really can't be expected to do intense math and/or measuring.

Nothing says Christmas like strangling your little sister. BTW, tell the Mercenary she is not alone. I have ulcerative colitis and can totally relate. I'm really glad I had not just met my husband when that little affliction hit.

msubulldog said...

"the Addi Turbos of toilet treatment" had me spitting my coffee this morning!

The strangling picture is quite cute--particularly because Stinky looks so used to it. :)

No advice for the Lelah except that your sizing seems to be right on--at least, that's the way I'd do it. . . . Good luck!

amylovie said...

Your poor sister!

Your little sweeties crack me up. They must get their expressiveness from their momma.


Agnes said...

I think Lelah is beautiful ... but unfortunately not for me to wear! :( It looks really hot in that red!
Your kids are adorable! The truth is ... most kids are adorable to me as long as I am not the one to take care of them! I don't think I would be a very good mother ... LOL!
Send my regards to The Mercenary ... hope she is doing fine now!

Anonymous said...

Nice lelah.

Jen said...

Okay, first things first, Mercenary could use a dose of U-No-Poo from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Too bad it's not real. Those Japanese are SO GOOD. I hear toileting is of major concern on that island. Can't wait to find out.

Down to business. Believe it or not, I took a very similar approach to Lelah. I winged it. Of course, I proceeded to frog sections of it three times or so before I could get the fit right, and I had a readily available model! Being of the IBTC variety, I found that I didn't need quite as much room through the bust as the designer did (what with her bazoombas that need a lot of reigning in as she claims). I ended up taking out many more stitches than I needed in order to get the thing to stay up. Surprisingly, you can't even tell that I took out 2 full repeats of lace when you look at the FO. The other thing I'd caution about is making sure that if you are trying it on yourself, make sure to thread a lifeline through before trying it on. I didn't bother to, and when i did finally take it off the needles, it turned out much bigger than I expected. Alternatively, you could measure your bust, subtract out an arbitrary number of inches that you think would be appropriate, and then measure your gauge slightly stretched and knit to that number of stitches.

I'm rambling. Anyway, email me if you have anything specific you're worried about.

Laura said...

Hey Chris! Lelah looks like she will be beautiful. I am still a lace virgin, so I can't help you there. LOL!

I agree with Amanda -- the funniest thing about the strangling pic is that Stinky looks like she's thinking, "not again!"

Jenn said...

Your poor sister, I can totally relate. My stomach goes nuts on the weirdest things sometimes!

What's a Christmas card picture without a little strangling? ;) You could crop the second one and use it anyway, Bossy and Stinky are so cute!

I wish I could wear Lelah. The one or two that I've seen are really pretty, but it wouldn't look right on me. I hope your sister loves it!

Lolly said...

Ha! Girlfriend, you are so crazy! My sis would kill me if I wrote these things about her on my blog - hahaha!!

Lelah is lovely, and I hope it fits too. That red is very nice for in the lace pattern. You should get a pic of her modeling it for you in the end.

I LOVE the pics of S and C. Gosh, they are SOOO adorable. Having met them, and you and your DH, I can see that C really looks like you, while S looks like J. ;) Beautiful family you have!


Cat said...

Lelah is fantastic. And your lace knitting is amazing! My lace experiece is only with "Birch" and "Lucky Clover wrap" from S n´B Nation.. I will try some lace socks..

Your kids are so sweet.. I like the strangle picture - siblings who love each other!


K8 said...

Thanks for the good wishes on school - I, being an engineer/math type, loved your calculations for Lelah. Which is also on my long list of things to make!

Debi said...

Your kids are so adorable!! They do look quite full of mischief tho :)

Lelah is soooo pretty, I'm sure your sis will be thrilled!

Ragan said...

Cute pics of bossy & stinky!!! Is that Pearl City mall???? Mele Kalikimaka!
AND...your lace is beautiful!

Wanda said...

Love the pics of Bossy and Stinky, especially the one where Bossy is trying to strangle Stinky, too cute! I think you are following a great strategy with Lelah and if it's a little tight on you, it sounds like it will fit her just right!

gray la gran said...

your poor sister! maybe she needs to see a doctor?

Cathy said...

The pic's are FANTASTIC, I too like the second photo, although I have to admit that I love,the mall display picture! The "natural" poses were always my favorites ;)
Seriously, the kids are just gorgeous, thanks so much for sharing the pictures with all of us. I so miss when my kids were small!

I think your sister is going to LOVE her gift, what a wonderful sister you are!

Teresa said...

It frightens me everytime I come over here how much I can relate to you. My little sis suffers from Chrons, so I can understand your sister's frequent bathroom breaks. My sis has actually gotten quite speedy, yet what lingers afterward is another story. Kid sisters-what are ya gonna do? I'll tell you what-yours is getting a gorgeous knit! Your changes make sense in writing, so hopefully the top will work out. Beautiful color, and the lace looks great. Your kids are just precious. The second pic is a good one, but I always appreciate a good headlock picture myself. Phantom limbs-that's nothing. We usually have a cat with demon-red glowing eyes behind the kids, or the tv gets left on and there is some bizzaro image on the screen. Thank heaven for photoshop.

Thanks for the comments on my Christmas knits. Those are indeed cherries!

Take care-

kimberly said...

Oh I love your posts! I'm still cracking a smile about your sister. I won't say who has the same problem in our house, or shall I say there may be one person or animal for that matter that doesn't have it. Anyway, fun being truthful, isn't it? hehe
Your kids are adorable. I love the kissing doll. I know what you mean about 10,000 shots of the kids before one turns out to be a keaper. Needless to say, I didn't do the obligatory Christmas picture this year. I wasn't into torturing myself taking all the pictures nor the kids for making them smile for just one more picture.