Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Karma: Not Always a Bitch

We're still moving into the new place - today I mounted the shelving for spices and I am not sure what made me happier - using power tools at 9 months pregnant or the fact that for possibly the first time in my adult life, getting spices will not involve one or more of the following:

1. Reaching into back of dark, overcrowded cabinet while trying not to disturb living or dead cockroaches and also hoping that this will be the time that I will put my hand on the Turmeric. Which it is not.

2. Looking at tightly packed sea of identical spice jar tops wedged in small ugly white shelving unit and wondering whether or not that's the Cinnamon way in the back and then wondering whether or not I can extract the possibly-Cinnamon without precipitating avalanche of spices onto kitchen floor and then, after the crashing and rolling of jars has subsided, wondering why I always think that I can extract a single jar from the small ugly white shelf without precipitating an avalanche of spices. And it wasn't the Cinnamon.

3. In an effort to avoid the dark, overcrowded cabinet cockroach random grab (tm), removing every single last thing from the dark, overcrowded cabinet only to discover that the Cardamom must be in the small ugly white shelving unit.

Behold the dawn of a new era:

And there's three more just like these on the other side of the stove area. And the spices are alphabetized.

But I digress, if in fact one can lead with a digression. This is supposed to be a post about karma, and the ghosts of knits past. Early on in the revival of my interest in knitting - so I think we're talking about 9-ish years ago - I completed my first ever baby sweater for my Aunt's firstborn (though she's technically my aunt, she's actually only about 6 years older than I am. Whoops! Surprise!). Perhaps two years later I completed a baby blanket for her second. And now, years later, at my baby shower last Saturday, I opened a package from my aunt and was delighted to see that my efforts had been none too shabby, if I do say so myself:

Not the most exciting sweater pattern, but it's a pretty color, unisex, and classic, and the buttons are just adorable. They're ceramic, handmade, and the kitty stripes match the yarn perfectly.

And the blanket:

Again, feather-and-fan is not exactly groundbreaking baby blanket material, but the yarn I chose - it seems to be an extremely soft cotton-something blend with beautiful drape - pushes the blanket into above-average status, I think. So I guess my baby won't have to wait until I finish the alpaca blanket in October to have a hand knit blanket from its mother.

I was going to put the blanket and sweater in the newly repurposed Ikea kitchen unit (old purpose: providing counterspace and holding pots and pans; new purpose: changing table and baby clothing/linen storage), but I randomly smelled them to see if they were musty and as it turns out, because, I guess, until very recently my Aunt and her family lived in my grandparents' house, the blanket and sweater smell like my grandparents' place, and particularly, somehow, my grandparent's place from 30 years ago. Hormones must be making me uncharacteristically sentimental because I decided that I didn't want that smell to go away, and so I put the knits in a plastic bag for the time being.

My aunt also made a card that features a picture of me from about 30 years ago. I don't know if I'm proud or worried that at age 7 I looked this unthrilled with and clueless about being a mother, but in any case I think the picture is hilarious.

Personally, I would have captioned this picture "What am I supposed to do with this thing?" but I guess my aunt wanted to be encouraging.

This picture was clearly taken before La Leche League had firebombed all Chinese factories that dared to accessorize plastic baby dolls with bottles (so my 7-year-old self can't be blamed for not breastfeeding), but shouldn't we perhaps be more concerned that my 7-year-old self seems to think that proper baby care includes depriving the child of clothes and human contact?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Finally free from striped sweater jail

I must preface this post by saying Ash and Turner, I love being able to give dear friends handknits and the all the griping that will follow this disclaimer is mainly for posterity's sake, just in case I ever feel tempted to make my own child a sweater like Alexander's. Which is to say I loved the finished product. It was just the process...

Everyone on Ravelry who noted that this is the most BORING and ETERNAL knit ever is right. I am still trying to figure out why this is the case. In terms of product, the sweater - an online freebie from Drops called b14-27 Jacket - is a clear winner. It is wearable. It is effortlessly unisex. It is adorable. It is not without reason that it's a reasonably popular knit on Ravelry. In terms of process, the sweater has novel, clever construction, being knit sideways from one buttonband to the other, and yet it is simple enough to knit while listening to music, watching movies, etc. It is easily adaptable to a wide range of yarns. It is endlessly customizable. All of these things make it potentially a great knit. And yet...

The pattern is written for alpaca, but I used Zara merino on a size five addi circular. Zara has more stitch definition than alpaca and I think it worked quite well with the pattern. However, the sweater is a huge yarn hog - it consumed nine balls of Zara and is quite heavy as a result. This is not really a problem for a sweater knit for a Canadian baby, but I think the fact that it sucked up yarn and never seemed to grow may have been the reason I felt like I would die before finishing it. It was boring right up until the last green stripe, which is saying something since I had exactly this much green yarn left:

So broken was I by the end that I didn't even care that it was looking likely that I was going to have to buy more Zara in a no doubt different dye lot. I think maybe I believed that there wasn't enough green yarn left in the world to finish the sweater and it therefore wasn't worth getting upset since I was clearly going to spend the rest of my life and my child's college fund searching for and purchasing ball after ball of green yarn. And when it turned out be just enough green yarn, my immediate thoughts were more along the lines of "Now where are those damn brown buttons...?" rather than any elatedness over having completed the green stripes without having to switch dye lots.

The last third of the sweater was knit over a one and a half day marathon session immediately following the submission of my final grades. I took a good hard look at the sweater and then my belly and realized that if the sweater wasn't finished before my baby came, it was NEVER getting finished. And then I grabbed two seasons of Buffy and sat on the sofa and only got up to pee (a somewhat more frequent occurrence these days) and order food for delivery.

The ends were woven in and the buttons attached sitting in Central Park on a particularly golden day. My brain was possibly not entirely recovered from the marathon knitting session because I sewed on the three buttons and held up the sweater to finally, FINALLY admire the finished product only to realize that I had sewn the buttons on the wrong side of the sweater.


But the good thing about knitting is mistakes are always correctable, if not always painless.

The postal service employee I dealt with when I finally got the sweater boxed up and sent to Canada was uncharacteristically spectacularly helpful, so at least the door didn't hit me in the ass on the way out. And it really is a beautiful sweater, and it will look smashing on Alexander, so all is well that FINALLY ends well.

Except in the course of knitting this sweater I have also sadly learned that my love for my unborn child is not quite up to the boundless maternal ideal since I am absolutely certain that I will not suffer this sweater again, even for my own flesh and blood. Oh well. Better to know one's limits sooner rather than later, I guess.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keys to the Kingdom


These would be the keys to our new apartment. Our new apartment that is twice as big as our current apartment. Our new apartment with laundry in the building. Our new apartment that is located in our current beloved neighborhood. Yes.

Now all it needs to do is pass the $325 bedbug sniffing beagle test before we move in. The apartment checked out fine on the bedbug registry, but in this case, an ounce of prevention is worth about a million tons of cure. Landlords are legally obligated to pay for bedbug extermination, so on the off chance that - god forbid - the apartment is infested, at least we'll have some legal protection and some time to kill the bastards before we move in. And by "bastards" I of course mean the bedbugs, not the landlord or the realtor or anything like that.

But the main thing is, we have the keys. The story of how we got them will have to wait until I have recovered from the process of getting them, but believe me, it's a fine tale, and exceptional even by New York real estate standards.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Keep yer illiterate hands offa me

Possibly it's just the third trimester rage talking, or maybe I just really miss grading papers, but this pamphlet copy - extracted from a larger collection of advertisements dumped in my lap on the first day of my $300-ish "natural childbirth" class - made me particularly happy that we own a paper shredder:

Motherhood is wonderful but we often underestimate the physical demands of being a mother. Dr. Knitcrit says: Awkward, redundant sentence structure. Also, we seem to underestimate the utility and necessity of commas. We are carrying the baby all of the time which puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Dr. Knitcrit says: We? You? Which is it? Pronouns must agree and strictly speaking, the second person should not be abused in this manner, even if it is used consistently. Maybe breastfeeding is causing tension in your shoulders. Dr. Knitcrit says: Maybe. But your writing isn't helping, either. Lack of sleep can cause emotional stress or anxiety. Dr. Knitcrit says: Well, so long as it can't cause both. Is it getting harder and harder to ignore the knots and pains in your body? Dr. Knitcrit says: Not as long as your prose provides the welcome distraction of righteous indignation. Well let us spoil you just a little with a massage designed for the needs of a mother. Dr. Knitcrit says: Again, do not fear the comma even though at this point it actually kind of fears you. Studies have shown 1 hour of massage can help replace 4 hours lost sleep or a more relaxed Mama is a more effective mother for her child. Dr. Knitcrit says: (1) footnote the source (2) Studies have also shown that this statement - and please note that it is a "statement," not a "sentence" - is completely incoherent. (3) Numbers should be written out.

$100 = 60 minutes
$145 = 90 minutes
Dr. Knitcrit says: Would you accept a copy of Elements of Style lieu of cash?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama's speech in Cairo

Other than evoking the golden rule in its final minutes (and what preceded the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" made it less banal and useless than it otherwise might have been), this speech was truly masterful. Unbelievable, actually. And it truly sucks that it was blocked in Iran.