Monday, January 30, 2006

eye of the tiger

(Indulge my inner '80's child for a moment and insert forte syncopated synthesizer notes here)

Rising up, back on the street
Took my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a knitter and her will to survive. . . eye of the tiger
Kiri Shawl
Knit Picks Shimmer in Happy Dance
Size 7 Addi Turbos, 24 "
Final dimensions: 60" by 30"
Successful attempt: 1/20/06- 1/30/06
Modifications: 11 repeats of Chart 2 instead of 12

After all the tribulation, I feel absolutely giddy to be ending the saga of Kiri on a high note! Watching that awkward, jumbled mass metamorphose into a delicate shawl during blocking was amazing. I am absolutely hooked!! More lace is definitely on the horizon. The only thing I'm not too thrilled about is the yellow pooling, but I suppose it adds some interesting character. I haven't much to complain about, though, as this was a one skein (read: $5!!) knit. Even better, this qualifies as another 3-fer KAL deal: What's Your Skein?, It's NOT a gift! and Show Your FO! Overall, I would say that I'm pretty pleased with Kiri and am even more pleased to finally be done with this shawl. She even gets a thumbs-up Fonzie "Aaayyy!"
By nature, I'm not a very competitive person, but having tasted the agony of defeat several times, finally finishing Kiri was especially sweet. Now, board games with my family however, are an entirely different issue. Bring it on, baby! Pictionary at our home is cut-throat, dog-eat-dog insanity. Once that sand hourglass runs out, boom, it's over. In the blink of an eye, you're being heckled by the masses, with tomatoes being pelted at your pathetic attempt of a drawing. Those "all-play" cards are the worst, with both teams going for the kill simultaneously, no holds barred.

This past Christmas, the six of us played, with The Mercenary and Fredo on my team. (Darn straight I made sure to pick the resident artist for my team! Cut-throat, remember?) Anyway, one of those notorious all-play cards came up and The Mercenary and Mom decided to tackle the beast head-to-head. Determined, they steeled themselves for the challenge as the hourglass was inverted. The Mercenary begin scribbling furiously. . . Fredo and I peered over her shoulder to see unmistakable pictures of flags. "Canada!" I yelled. "Japan!" Fredo chimed in. As Mexico and the UK joined the picture, it became clear that individual nations were not the intended answer. With The Mercenary gesturing wildly and circling all the flags, my train of thought turned. "Global!" I screamed. Nodding yes, yes so vehemently that I thought her head might break off, I tried again. "International?!" More maniacal head nodding. Then the unavoidable and desperate stream-of-consciousness spewage as the sand trickled faster. . . "Worldwide, transatlantic, Meridian line, equator!" Eyeing the last grains of sand, the Mercenary drew two distinct pictures separated by a plus sign, in one last desperate attempt. It was clear that the second picture was a tree. But the first? My face contorted as I took my best guess at the crude depiction before me as the hourglass stopped. . . . Ass-tree?! The Mercenary started laughing so hard I feared she might pee her pants, but Fredo and I had the last laugh when she finally managed to yell out, "Country!!"

Pretty offensive and crude, I know. I'm sorry if I offended anybody. Trust me, we're pretty straight-laced girls and it never occurs to us to even think that word, much less use it, which was made it all the funnier at the moment. And hey, if you're going to play Pictionary, you play to win!! Eye of the Tiger, baby!

And finally, I've been working on a little something in this pretty little number gifted to me by the lovely Allison over at Perknitious. I've been saving it for something special and I think I may have finally found the perfect knit for it. Keep your fingers crossed for me. . . I hope to have pictures to share by next week!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

can you hear me now?

Search and Rescue: Dispatch, this is Search and Rescue, come in Dispatch.
Dispatch: This is Dispatch. We read you Search and Rescue, go ahead.
Search and Rescue: We've recovered the missing knitter, I repeat, we've recovered the missing knitter. She is alive and well. She seems to be in shock, muttering something incoherent about slk2togpsso, but seems otherwise well.
Dispatch: Good work, team. Have you recovered any personal effects?
Search and Rescue: Just one item, Dispatch. We found her cradling it like a baby, cooing, "There, there, Kiri."After a near catastrophic turn of events and a successful Search and Rescue effort, I present to you my unblocked Kiri! I still have 8 rows of edging to complete, but barring any unforeseen disasters, Kiri is basically (and finally!) done. Right now, she's measuring about 3 feet wide and close to 2 feet long unblocked, so I'm hoping for something near 5 feet by 3 feet after blocking. And the "near catastrophic turn of events, " you ask? Well, after posting last Tuesday, I cockily went about knitting Chart 2 without a lifeline, only to realize that I'd made an egregious error about 3 pattern repeats 2000 stitches back!! Realizing that there was no way I could frog without losing the correct placement of the stitches, I had no choice but to tink back. Yes, you read that right folks, I tinked back 2000+ stitches!! Only to realize, after 2 nights of tinking, that Kiri was ultimately unsalvageable. After much profanity, I tearfully tossed her in the Frog pond. Fortunately, that evening I happened upon Margene's beautiful post (thank you for the link, Laura!) and managed to compose myself long enough to cast-on again. With the help of a few judiciously placed angels watching over me (Thank you, Barbara and Jill!!), and with Chrissy's (my awesome Secret Santa!) beautiful stitch marker to yell my name and snap me back into concentration mode whenever my mind would wander, things proceeded smoothly. Dare I say, it was a blessing in disguise, as Version #3 looks much better than my previous two attempts. With size 7 Addi Turbos, the lace looks much more cohesive this time...not to mention all the grief saved with that snag-free join!

I'm still not sure about the exact nature of the egregious error in Version #2. I can only assume that I misread the chart. Now, I know my hearing's going, but I didn't think my vision was going, too! I have a mild (15 dB) hearing loss due to recurrent ear infections during grade school. It's nothing too major; I've tried hearing aids, but they just make people sound like they're mumbling loudly. I've learned to compensate instead by quasi-lip-reading and watching for visual clues when people speak. Which kind of doesn't work when you can't see the speaker, like with, oh, say, songs on the radio, for instance.

My baby sis, the Mercenary and I were driving around in Hilo this past summer, listening to one of those "I Love the '80's" shows on the radio. Remember that song, Hands to Heaven by Breathe? Total late '80's classic, right? I like it well enough, but one line in the chorus has always disturbed me. We're both singing along when the chorus starts. Flustered by the lyrics, I just can't contain myself any longer. "Hey, you know I'm all for gender equity and everything, right?" Hesitating nod and quizzical glance from the Mercenary. "Well, I'm trying to be open minded, but I just don't get why this guy can't call his chest a chest, rather than breasts! Don't you think that's kind of a gross image?" Total what-the-hell? look from the Mercenary. Exasperated, I sing along: Tonight I need your sweet caress, hold me in the darkness. Tonight you call my breasts love's nest... A moment of silence and then deafening laughter. "You DORK! It's Tonight you calm my restlessness!!!" Oops, one of those lightbulb moments, folks. Remind me to look into a pair of glasses when I go to pick up those hearing aids!
Sonya and Jenn tagged me for this meme a while back- thanks for the tag, ladies!!

4 jobs you've had:
Speech/language therapist working with students with autism
Waitress at a Japanese pub and at KC Drive Inn
SPED instructor at Easter Seals; adults with severe developmental disabilities
Entomology Research Assistant (aka Termite Terminator)

4 movies you can (and have) watched over and over:
The Godfather
Gone With the Wind
Pulp Fiction
As Good As It Gets

4 TV shows you love to watch:
American Idol
Barefoot Contessa

4 places you've lived:
Hilo, Hawaii
Kailua, HI
San Jose, CA
Seoul, Korea

4 places you've been on vacation:
Kaua'i (for our honeymoon!)

4 websites you visit daily:
My Yahoo

4 of your favorite foods:
french fries
corn chowder
mom's banana cream pie
fettucine alfredo

4 places you'd rather be right now:
at a coffee shop, knitting with the yarn purchased from LYS
at the beach, drinking coffee purchased from the coffee shop and knitting with the yarn purchased from LYS
using the bathroom without a 2 year old or 4 year old giving running commentary alongside me!

I'm pretty sure that I'm the very last person in the blogosphere to do this meme, but if you're still waiting for a tag, consider yourself "it!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

let's make a deal

I'm a sucker for a good deal. Some of you may remember my Knitting Without Tears purchase for $1.75 at the Friends of the Library book sale last summer. I think I did a jig heel-click when I found that morsel nestled amongst the other dust covered books in that 25-year old dank and mildewed box. I probably inhaled mold spores up the wazoo dusting that puppy off, but for $1.75??! Well, plague be damned! I also regularly test the bounds of E. coli and Listeria, buying reduced-price- about-to-expire beef and pork at the market. (But never, ever expired chicken. Campylobacter is horrific crap. Literally.) So far, we're all still kicking and we've certainly saved a bundle. But in terms of dining savings, you just can't beat Chinatown. And as blog luck would have it, my dad was in town this past week for work meetings. Oh yes, my dad and Chinatown!

Of course, my dad couldn't leave Honolulu without dining on his favorite Chinatown dim sum for breakfast. The poor waitress had barely managed to wheel the dim sum cart to our table before my dad anxiously blurted out, "Chicken feet, please!" I could barely repress the giggle as my jasmine tea threatened to spray out of my nose. Watching him contentedly gnaw on the talon webbing did my heart good. After breakfast, we took a stroll through town and you should've seen the way my dad's eyes positively lit up when he saw the "Live Animals" sign in the butcher's lane. The man could barely contain his glee as he pushed his way through the crowd. I think he was a little disappointed to find that there were only frogs and lobsters in the macabre aquarium of sorts. I'm honestly scared to know what he had hoped to see, but he took consolation in a couple of splayed pig carcasses and duck heads. Yeah, my dad's wired a little different than most.

So as I was saying, I love a good deal. And what could be better than a 4 for 1 KAL deal?? Well, that's what this little pair of footlets in Knit Picks Sock Garden Geranium is giving me! This humble 4 day knit counts toward the Sock-a-Month KAL, Count Your Socks KAL (bringing my total to a whopping 2!), It's NOT a Gift KAL (because they're definitely for me, me, selfish me!) and What's Your Skein KAL, since they were knit out of less than one skein of yarn (What did I say about good deals?)! I adore these socks! I've barely taken them off since casting-off a few days ago. And the whole time I was working on the second sock, I wore the first one by itself, a la Diddle Diddle Dumpling. This was my first (successful) toe-up knit, and my first short row heel and toe. I also gained confidence with provisional cast-on and I have to say....I think I may be a toe-up convert! At least for stockinette or self-patterning yarn. I love how no pattern is necessary with toe-up, once you understand the general principles and construction. Since I vowed that 2006 would be the year of rut-upheaval, I think I'd like to up the ante and try 2 circs or even Magic Loop toe-up for my next self-patterning sock. (But don't anybody call me out on that one!)

One of my other knitterly resolutions for 2006 was to stop being such a wuss and tackle more challenging knits. On that note, I dragged out ye ole Kiri. Some of you may recall how I got dumped by Kiri last fall. I refuse to be dumped by my knitting anymore! It's far too humiliating to get rejected by a pile of yarn. Acting desperate by constantly frogging and crying, however, is just as humiliating, so I'm playing it cool this time around, using lifelines and stitch markers to keep Kiri in line. With our tenuous past, I'm scared to jinx myself, but I think we may have a future together. Right now, I'm 6 pattern repeats into the 2nd chart (about double what the picture shows), which puts me at almost a third of the way through the shawl. I know the variegated Knit Picks Shimmer was not the best choice for this lace, but this is more of a 'process knit' to help me overcome my fear of lace. I'm using Clover Size 7 circs, but I'm definitely investing in Addi Naturas if lace remains in my future...that snaggy join with laceweight yarn is driving me bonkers! I'm resolute about not posting again until I'm done with the pattern repeats for Chart 2. I'm estimating that should take me somewhere near a week, but if you don't hear from me in 8-9 days, someone send in the Search and Rescue Squad!
I was tagged with two memes by Jennifer and Sonya- thanks, girls! I'll do one now and the other on my next post, assuming I make it out of Kiri alive. ;-) I was asked to list 5 quirky habits about myself....hmmmm....things you wish you never knew....

1) I don't do runny eggs. Ix-nay on the sunnyside-up, over-easy and poached. Major double blech on those nasty soft-boiled eggs that they present all genteel-like in those china egg-cups. Chicken periods are not meant to be eaten runny!! Once that yellow goop touches my pancakes or french toast, it's game over. Scrambled HARD, please. The rubber-ier and browner the better.
2) I can't sleep facing the open end of my pillowcase. I need to be facing the enclosed end. Or something very bad will happen.
3) When washing my face, I need to splash an odd number of times, never even. Or something very bad will happen.
4) One of my guiltiest pleasures is watching really bad infommercials late at night. The E-zee Rotisserie, The Pasta Maker and The Food Dehydrator- all hail Ron Popeil!!
5) When riding in an elevator, I will shove little old ladies over to make sure I stand in the corner of the elevator. Because, you know, if the elevator should ever start free-falling 45 floors (seriously, am I the only one who thinks about these things??!), the corner is clearly the safe spot to be.

Let's see, who to tag....if you're willing to bare all, Laura, Olga, Lolly, Myra and Cathy, you're it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

are you there god? it's me, chris.

First lesson learned in 2006: Don't go looking for blog fodder where none exists, or it will surely come to find you in the worst karmic way possible! There I was, smug as could be, anticipating tales of the fam and the outhouse, totally unaware that I would become the subject of my own blog, thanks to my vanity. Now, I'm not a very vain person by any stretch of the imagination. As far as physical appearance goes, I'm a low-key Gap/Old Navy on-clearance, touch of lipstick and newly black roots courtesy of Loreal Excellence kind of gal. As a mom, I don't have the patience for fussy routines; that said, as a mom, I do have a few new "needs" that seem to have come part and parcel with the mom territory. For example, sneezing and laughing have now become mini-Russian Roulette games. (All you moms out there, can I get an amen, please!) And after three years of nursing two children, the sisters don't revel in anywhere near the glory that they used to. Having literally had the life sucked out of them, they need a little assistance to achieve A minus status. (And why is it that the same status used for school grades doesn't apply to bra cup sizes?) Assistance presented itself in the form of leftover Curity Nursing Pads remaining from my nursing stint, so I figured, why not? and took a little help in the form of....well...stuffing. This was not the stuffing of middle-school yesteryear, but rather, the dignified post-partum alternative to plastic surgery. (Justification, clarification, denial, whatever.)

Anyhoo, Fredo, Mercenary, Bossy, Stinky and I were at the Hilo Airport, making our way through security. I'm grateful for all the security measures, but lemme tell you, going through the whole rigamarole with kids SUCKS. Breaking down the stroller, wrestling 3 tickets, taking off 3 pairs of shoes, trying to send scared kids alone through the security device while simultaneously having your diaper bag searched for embedded bombs is a little tricky. We finally made it through security when I was accosted by one of the TSA guys regarding the number of people in our travel party. I was flustered and a little worse for wear after all the hustle and bustle, but I tried to answer him as politely as possible. It was then that I noticed his furtive glances at my neckline. Not my chest, mind you, but my neckline. You know that sick feeling you get when you've eaten sushi and you start noticing people staring at your mouth and you just know that you have gobs of green nori stuck to your front tooth? I started to get that same sinking feeling as I saw the guard repeatedly looking and eventually, outright staring at my neckline. We cleared up the "travel party" matter and I walked away quickly, head held high, as I sensed the inevitable humiliation that was to follow. For as I glanced down, there, proudly displayed on my collar bone, was my handy-dandy nursing pad stuffing hanging in plain view out of the top of my t-shirt for all the world to see. Beam me up, Scotty! I had a momentary altercation with myself as I tried to determine whether stuffing it back in my shirt or sticking it in my bag would be the lesser of two humiliating evils. I opted for the former, deciding that walking around half A-/ half B- would only add to the jackass factor.

So, instead of starting 2006 with outhouse lore, it seems that self-deprecation is the name of the game here at Bits of Knits. Thankfully, that doesn't apply to the knitting....yet, at least. As promised, here are pics of some Christmas gifts given to family. My baby brother, Bozobana, modeling the ubiquitous Irish Hiking Scarf in Austermann Naturwolle from Elann. Knit with Clover size 8 circs, 7 inches wide and 65 inches long, post-blocking. He seems to like it, though I don't know how much use he'll get out of it in Seattle. The Naturwolle is a tad rougher than the Peruvian Highland, but not overly unpleasant to work with. At less than $2 a skein and 4 skeins total, I really can't complain. And here's a pic of The Mercenary, modeling Lelah. As it turns out, she likes it as is without straps (thank goodness!), and I'm quite pleased with the fit. Here's another pic of her posing with one of the paintings she did last summer. Did I mention she was disgustingly talented, too? Yep, I hate her. :-)

Time spent with the fam was wonderful and it flew by entirely too fast. No knitting was accomplished at all, but I know it's a good thing when you're so happily involved with life that you don't have time to knit. I'm sure it'll take me a couple of posts to recount those two weeks, but I'll try to give you the highlights now. Bozobana and Bossy bonded, and Stinky got very attached to Fredo, as you can see. My dad is a fantastic cook, so my body has reaped the lovely blubbery rewards of overindulgence. But they were certainly delicious pounds!! Kalbi (Korean style short ribs), shrimp scampi, sushi night (you can bet your suction cups that there were tentacles involved!), ozoni (traditional mochi soup), barbecue spareribs, seafood salad...the list goes on. And that was just dinner!! The snacks deserve a post of their own someday. Homemade hummus and salsa, cookies up the ying yang, Filipino desserts like cascaron and suman (he may be Japanese, but my dad's a Waipahu boy through and through!), and these ono-licious Mrs. Prindable's candied apples that my mom ordered from QVC for our reunion. So. Darned. Good!!! We celebrated a belated Christmas and New Year's Eve on the same taxing day, which rendered only my dad and I conscious at midnight to watch the proverbial ball drop. We rocked in the New Year the way we always did growing up, with Dick Clark and a bowl of soba noodles at midnight.

We (Fredo, Mercenary, Bozobana and I) surprised our parents on the 2nd with a belated 35th anniversary celebration, complete with a surprise vow renewal ceremony and anniversary rings. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Fredo was in charge of everything and she really pulled out all the stops with the Martha Stewart decor and place settings. We even had our family portrait taken at Sears, which really deserves a post in and of itself. Imagine getting 10 people to smile at one time when everyone's annoyed, hot and hungry. Definite blog fodder, but for another day, once I get over the sting of my Are You There God, It's Me Margaret incident.

The semester began again for me tonight, so I'm glad that I managed to squeeze in a little knitting yesterday after arriving back in Honolulu. Along with my sight, hearing and ahem, other parts, my circulation is slowly going south, so my poor toes and fingers are always freezing. Yes, it's the tropics, but darn it, it's getting pretty nippy these days! So I set straightaway to work on a pair of anklets for myself. I opted for some Knit Picks Geranium, not wanting to screw up the beautiful sock yarn I was gifted with at Christmas. One of my knitting resolutions this year is to be more adventurous in trying new techniques. Although I finally threw out the big hair Aqua Net spray and blue eyeshadow, I still tend to get stuck in ruts, like knitting socks from the cuff down. Having failed at toe-up socks before, I decided to give it the old college try once again...this time to success, much to my delight. I'm thrilled to have finally done a short row toe and heel! With one down and one more to go, I hope to have a finished pair to show by the next time I post.

Whew!! If you made it all the way through this interminable post, I thank you for being a true blue blog pal, indeed! I promise to get this long-windedness under control by next time. See what happens when you deprive a gal of internet access for 2 weeks?? Hilo was wonderful, but it sure is good to be home. And in the spirit of Jack Handy (thank you, Olga, for reminding me of how much I love him!), I leave you with the moral of this post and my new personal proverb: Dont count your outhouse stories before exiting homeland security!

BTW, it's De-lurking week, so if you've been lurking in the shadows, it's high time to come into the light and give a holler! I'd love to "meet" you!