Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This morning our lovely cook/nanny called us with some exciting news: her daughter-in-law, who lives with her, had a baby boy last night. We knew that a baby was coming, so this was not unexpected, although it was on early side. The surprise is that the baby had to be delivered by cesarean section, and that means that unless the maternal grandmother wants to stay with the in-laws and help out, we have lost childcare and cooking help for the next few weeks.

Hence the Noooooooooo.

The internet came back today after a week of server problems (apparently when the guy who deals with broadband goes on vacation, no one else at MTNL is capable of solving server problems), and I was wondering what the next crisis would be. Now I know. The most devastating part of this is the timing - I am supposed to finish proofing my copy edited manuscript by 1 December. Which basically means I am screwed.

Let's try to cheer ourselves up with some recent photos of everyday Indian absurdity, shall we?

But before '88 he was a really nice guy.

I guess we wouldn't want any vehicles running over those manhole covers.

And a recent photo of db - playing in our sort of probably clean enough local park, which is closed from 8 am to 6 pm. That's right. 8 am to 6 pm. Don't try to understand. Unless you want to go totally mad.

The Aviatrix hat is snug, but still wearable, and great for fending off intrepid end-of-season mosquitoes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Spotted in the Catholic bookstore in Connaught Place:

But if God is eternal, wouldn't all his knitting projects also be eternal, and wouldn't he therefore have to cast off forever?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Oh, the grumpiness.

On October 3rd, my birthday, we had some friends over for pizza and scotch (it was supposed to be pizza and beer, but whoops, liquor store is closed on Sunday despite the fact that Sunday is not the primary day of worship for about 99% of the Indian population) and made fun of the Opening Ceremony for the Commonwealth Games. Earlier that day, my big special birthday breakfast at the imperial hotel was ruined by a call from the nanny saying that she had just locked herself out of the house. Leaving db in the house. Alone. So one minute Todd was lovingly piling his plate full of cold cuts and I was ordering my omelet and the next minute we were running through the well-appointed, jasmine-scented hall, crying (me), yelling for a taxi (Todd). In the cab, the driver said to me "Madam, if god is good, then baby is okay." Which he probably thought was reassuring but which actually just made me cry harder.

As it turned out, our nanny Sunita, who had come specially on her day off because it was my birthday, got locked out because although there are SIX locks on our front door (post for another time: paranoia in Delhi), not one of them allows you to simply close the door without also locking it. Sunita went out the door to call down to the building super to send someone to buy onions (we were out of onions, again not her fault but mine because I was still figuring out the delivery system for what seems to be the only organic vegetable dealer in all of Delhi), and the door closed behind her. We only have one set of keys because that is all our snakey, distinctly unlovable landlord gave us, so we don’t have a spare for ourselves, let alone the Sunita.

So this would have been a huge disaster had Sunita not put db in her crib/playpen – just as she should have – right before going to request onions. Consequently, db was alone in the house, but she was safe in her playpen, incapable of pulling the TV on herself, eating the mothballs that one has to stick in the shower drains in India to discourage bugs, poking her eyes out with stray pencils, etc. But I did not know this until we got home.

So in the end, everything was okay, though we couldn’t go back to The Imperial because there was a special event at one of my field sites that I had to attend, and at that point there wasn’t really time to do anything other than head off to work.

Other highlights of the past month included me being laid flat on my back for about a week with a terrible cold followed by a frenzied house-hunting stint because about two weeks after we moved into this apartment they began renovations in several of the other apartments in our complex. This would be a nightmare anywhere, but in India, where all construction work is done by pickaxe-wielding, barefoot, malnourished villagers from Bihar, even a relatively simple construction project will become extremely loud and more or less eternal. Then we learned that an elevator would be installed and they started cutting marble for flooring behind the building and I flipped and spent a long, hot, miserable, pointless week riding around Delhi on the backs of various barely competent realtors’ motorcycles (sans helmet, of course) looking at a lot of unsuitable places, after which we got the hell out of Delhi for the Commonwealth Games and went to Mauritius via Dubai for ten days of blue skies and ocean.

There was a large stuffed tiger in our hotel room. We don't know why.

And now we are back. After a bit of soul-searching, we decided that sticking it out made the most sense, and so I bought a HEPA air filter to protect db from any construction dust that might make its way into the apartment, and here we are. The uberpisser is that my book’s copyedits came back and now I have to spend the next month going through them, making final decisions on how my book will appear to the world, which is daunting and exhilarating at the same time – and how I will manage to concentrate through all the construction noise is completely beyond me.

And to conclude this inarticulate whine, I can only marvel at how I have no motivation to do anything other than watch movies we download via bittorrent. I have two knitting projects with me, including one for a new baby boy who will outgrow said project within three months if I don’t get going, but I just can’t seem to care. Ditto for writing. I haven’t done yoga in two months, either: I have become a big, boring, constantly tired and unhappy blob. Here’s to hoping I rally sometime before January.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Delhi ate my brain and then pooped it into an open sewer

Ah, Delhi. Who knew that you would be ravaged, wrecked and otherwise generally destroyed by the upcoming Commonwealth Games? It didn't have to be this way - with the right management, you are capable of producing wonders like the Delhi Metro: built on budget and on schedule, clean, fast, beautiful, air conditioned. But the Indian government has had seven - SEVEN, count 'em - years to get ready for the games and it's come to this: the entire central part of the city is a torn-up dengue-mosquito breeding construction site from hell and the games are a week away. Today in a rickshaw I passed one of the games venues and noticed that the games countdown clock had stopped working: it's possible the clock just broke, but it's equally possible that someone disabled it since at this point all it's doing is reminding everyone exactly how hopelessly behind schedule everything is.

I wish I could conjure up the energy to say more, but setting up a household in Delhi has basically rendered me catatonic, and all writing energy has been directed towards field notes. I considered setting up a blog for posting my field notes, but for now anyway I think that's a little more pressure than I need, given everything else.

No knitting has happened except the hour it took to put the finishing touches on this sweater, modeled by a walkin', talkin' ever-changing, ever-charming db. This was my first knitting kit: it was a gift from a friend and while I normally don't use variegated yarn, I am happy with the result. The yarn was, I think, misti alpaca sportweight 50 pima cotton/50 silk: nice to knit with amazing drape; it's also incredibly soft, and what I like most about it is usually a yarn this soft has pilling issues (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, anyone?) but this one is wearing like iron. The pattern was Spring Garden Tee by Alana Dakos (aka Never Knot Knitting).

I hope I get my blogging grove back soon - I do genuinely love writing, but so much happens in a day here that I generally don't know where to start. That and after a while I find that speaking Hindi puts a real damper on English. Not that my Hindi is setting the world on fire, either. So basically I don't speak anything well at the moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sleepless in Delhi

Also photoless in Delhi because the little drive I use to connect my photo card to my mac is in New York and right now finding an apartment that won't kill my daughter is a slightly higher priority than finding a way to upload photos. The past two months have been mad: getting an Indian research visa ended up being the living, breathing, monstrous embodiment of the soul of Kafka, just beating out getting IRB approval for my research project for that title. Finding a subletter who would not pee on our sofa or sell Todd's DVD collection to support a crack habit was also time consuming, and then there was the small task of packing for a five-month trip to India with a one-year-old in mind. So much could be written, and will be written, but at the moment I've been up since 2:30 am local time (and it's now 8 local time) and I think I need to have some protein and drink a lot of tea in order to have any hope of making it through the day. Db and Todd are still asleep, as they were for pretty much the entire night. I guess I should just be glad that someone will be functional today.

And knitting has, remarkably, been happening, though not on the 14-hour flight from Newark to Delhi. I actually put some knitting in my carry on and didn't even think about it - much less touch it - for the entire flight. I am not sure why I thought I would be doing anything other than keeping db from climbing me and the seat and all the other passengers as though they were here own personal Mount Everest.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day Sweater

Blogging on July 4th? Do I not have a life? In fact, I do have a life, but it starts on July 5th, when we head up to the Adirondacks for ten days of lakeside fun with the blood relatives I actually like. Hooray!

In the meantime, the Mossy Cardi is finished, and it is a stunner.

It only seems that this blog has been taken over by Brooklyntweed.

Perfect buttons.

Still maybe not quite worth the $60 in yarn, but close. Which is saying a lot for a baby sweater.

It's extremely wearable, too - I tried it on db and the off-center opening really works - nice drape over the baby belly. The problem is of course that it's a little big on her, and she's almost one, and the baby for whom I knit it will turn one in May...best not to think too hard about this. Especially since I chose to knit the one year size. I guess I can blame it on sleep deprivation.

Oh, well. Just keep looking at the pretty sweater.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicken sitting! Chicken knitting!

Things have been - how shall we say - busy here at Knitcrit central. Busy. Like the chickens in one of db's favorite books. Busy busy Chickens. What are they doing? Chicken walking...chicken talking...

Excuse me. Db cut three teeth this month and each one of them took a great big meaty bite out of my sleep. In the past 30 days, while db was cutting three teeth and my babysitter was out of town at a yoga teacher training, I turned in my grades and completed an idiotic but totally necessary Institutional Research Board application so when I go do my research in India this fall, it will be with the approval of a small group of people who have never been to India and know nothing about it. Most importantly, though, I mailed off my manuscript to my editor at University of California Press! I think hearing it hit the floor on the other side of the mail drop wall at the local post office will be one of the moments that stay with me the rest of my life, right up there with the moment that db's head was out but her body was still in and I looked down at her and thought "cute head. lots of hair. boy or girl?"

Speaking of babies, an old friend of mine just had a little boy - or rather, his wife did - and I decided that I'd knit him a cute little asymmetrical cardigan. Behold the Mossy Jacket, a freebie on Ravelry.

The yarn is a beautiful Irish wool with a hint of angora - it's actually not that much fun to knit and even just thinking about hot water while standing within 10 feet of it might cause it to spontaneously felt, but it looks absolutely beautiful, and is perfect for this pattern. Officially, the yarn is Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Chunky, and at $20/skein it certainly lives up to its name. Last time I bring stuff to the counter without checking the price first.

It's being knit at the 1 year size - now that I have my very own baby, I totally get that there is very little point to knitting anything smaller than a 3-month size. Tiny babies look best in tiny baby onesies and they barf on everything, anyway.

And on that note, it's over and out. Db is asleep and it's time for her mom to take a nap.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cardigan Confessional Redux

I had this plan to make db a blanket; loyal readers will recall that there was a lot of pattern research and swatching and hand wringing and finally a decision to make db a blanket in Blue Sky Alpaca Silky Alpaca (50/50 silk/alpaca) in the most beautiful silver-gray color imaginable.

But then my aunt gave me a hand knit blanket that I had made for her son, and Todd's mother gave me the blanket made by Great Aunt Nettie and Todd's mother's friend gave me a hand crocheted blanket and THEN the mother of one of my oldest and closest friends gave me a jaw-droppingly stunning hand knit blanket.

The photos are from January, which is a sad meditation on how busy I have been these past few months. Anyway. How many hand knit blankets does one baby need, particularly given the fact that all we ever put her in anyway are those overpriced Halo sleep sacks because we are paranoid about SIDS?

I did make some limited progress on the silk alpaca blanket, but upon realizing that I had made a slight error 20 rows after the fact, I kind of lost interest and drowned my frustrated sorrows in a little worsted-weight instant gratification - so there was the aviator cap phase and also the pink top-down raglan, which is now finished and adorable.

Cute, eh? Db is currently obsessed with buttons, so I am leaving them off for the time being.

So I decided that there were better uses for my beautiful silk alpaca; currently I'm about 3 rows into this vintage-esque cardigan for me -


It's a freebie from Drops. I'm hoping that I finish it by Christmas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cardigan confessional

I decided that I wanted to knit db a cardigan for spring. Because spring has more or less sprung here in the city, I also decided that I needed a pattern written for worsted weight in order to have a chance in hell of finishing it in time. Enter Little Coffee Bean, a top-down baby raglan freebie pattern on Ravelry.

Yeah, I know it's pink. In fact, it's two shades of pink. Technically, the colors are "Mulberry" and "Orchid," but I think we can just call a spade a spade here. Next thing you know I'll be buying db Disney Princess products. I'm so ashamed.

Maybe my taste has been warped by extreme sleep deprivation. About three weeks ago, db's sleep pattern changed - basically, she no longer sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time and when she wakes up she almost immediately becomes hysterically upset. Teething, growth spurt, developmental leap, night terrors, hunger - take your pick. The almighty boob normally calms her down, but of course that has meant some pretty rough nights for the bearer of the boob.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aviatrix redux

I decided that db needed her own damn aviator cap.

Three hours later, after digging some leftover Malabrigo out of the stash bag, voila. I love this pattern.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Posting photos in haste - it's midterm week (and curse email for making students think they can ask me questions 24/7), book deadline looming, not a lot of quality sleeping going on at the moment...but despite the general mayhem involved in living a relatively normal life, I have somehow managed to knit a cute little aviator cap for a friend's incoming baby girl. The almost finished cap is being modeled by db, who was fascinated with the un-sewn-in end:

Aviatrix, a Ravelry freebie, is truly an amazing pattern. I also think it may be the only reasonably cute baby hat that will actually stay on a baby's head. I knit it in Blue Sky Alpacas worsted weight 50 merino/50 alpaca - an absolutely lovely yarn. To get gauge for the worsted version of the pattern (which is written for three different yarn weights!) I knit the body of the hat on a 10 and the ribbing on an 8.

All that remains is to sew on buttons so it has a functioning chin strap - let's see if I manage to get a finished object photo posted. I hate to bet against myself, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Now if I could only figure out how to download the medal

The Wintergreen mittens were finished around 4:00 pm est on the final day of the Winter Olympics. I can't say that I really enjoyed knitting them - it could be the pattern wasn't fun, but more likely I don't like knitting to a deadline that isn't a real deadline (e.g., Christmas, a due date, etc).

I think I screwed up the thumb opening - or maybe there's something I don't understand about "work in pattern for 5 stitches, work 9 st in scrap yarn, sl 9 back to the left needle and continue working in pattern." Doesn't this essentially result in a grafting the scrap yarn into the knitting? And if so, when you remove the scrap yarn, how exactly do you pick up the top stitches? The bottom stitches are simply loose stitches - no problem. The top stitches, however, aren't really loose stitches, even though they are not stable, either. I just picked them up "doubled" - and k2 tog as I joined the yarn to make the thumb. I am sure this isn't clear but the instructions weren't either. I don't know what type of thumb this is (e.g. afterthought?), so I couldn't even look it up online.

But anyway, they are done and it wouldn't have been an exciting Olympic finish without the thumb crisis.

I'm most proud of the fact that I finished these AND kept db fed, clean, and happy AND kept to the editing schedule for my book manuscript AND did my regular teaching/meeting work AND kept to my usual yoga schedule AND didn't get in horrible fights with Todd because of all the stress.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cunning mittens

Looking at the teams over on Ravelry, I saw that (1) there was a Big Damn Heroes team and (2) one of the team members was none other than my long-lost spinning teacher from a very unhappy year I once spent in central Pennsylvania as an assistant professor. Shiny, right? So I decided to join the Browncoat Olympians and go for it. It is amazing how many hard core Joss Whedon fans also appear to be hard core knitters. I am apparently absolutely typical after all.

I figure if I do 15 rows a day, I'll have my Wintergreen mittens finished by the time the gimpy Canadian Olympic torch goes out. This cold calculation doesn't make for much Olympian drama, though of course the chances that I will actually manage to keep to this schedule are minimal. Plus of course I have dramatic back story - the Mitten Comeback - to keep things exciting.

I decided that tara is right - if I did the original gray/cream color combination even though I didn't think it had enough contrast I would always and forever think about how I should have re-knit the mittens using better colors. So I've taken the cream from the originals and added a lovely natural brown - both Blue Sky Alpaca sportweight.

The brown alpaca/Browncoat tie-in is pure serendipity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time for a comeback?

I admit that the last time around, I thought the whole idea of the Knitting Olympics was kind of dumb. Now that I am older and possibly dumber, I am actually considering participating.

Loyal readers will recall my Wintergreen mittens tragedy, wherein I forgot the mostly-knitted project on an airplane and by the time I realized what I had done, it was Too Late. I did go and buy the exact same yarn for the project again, but on a whim decided to knit the Lillyfield mittens instead. Unfortunately, even though I was basically making gauge, it became clear about three quarters of the way through the first mitten that they were going to be immense, and so, after several months of denial, I bit the bullet and frogged the whole damn thing. For the record, Famous Knitblogger Grumperina actually had similar gauge problems with her Lillyfield mittens, and one of the reasons she is a Famous Knitblogger is she re-charted and otherwise rejiggered the entire pattern to make the mitten fit properly. I am not nearly that committed a knitter or, for that matter, blogger. Which may be why I am not famous.

I really did like the Wintergreen mitts, though, and I did pay for the pattern...you see where I'm going with this. My knitting Olympics project could be the Wintergreen mitts comeback - a potentially happy ending to a heretofore sad story.

The only question is whether or not I should use the yarn I have. If I do, I accept that the original gray/white wasn't quite high contrast enough for the Wintergreen design. In the interest of perfect closure, I should use my original yarn color choices, or should I keep the white and buy a new contrasting color? And should I play on the Yarn Harlot team or figure out the Ravelry Olympics scene?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mittens and blues

Classes start on Thursday. I am dreading them though not for any particularly good reason other than perhaps all the time I have spent on planet lactation has made me feel like an alien about to land on the hostile planet of academia. I really, really, really don't want to store my breastmilk in the department refrigerator. That's what the icepack box in my breast pump bag is for, right?

I made these cute little baby mittens out of some worsted scraps in an effort to chase the blues away. My mood was not all that improved, but they are very cute and also very warm, thanks the fair isle motif. The pattern is a Ravelry freebie, searchable under "two colour mittens" by Abigail Welbourne.

I put one on db's hand and her eyes got very wide and then she began waving her hand around in the air, staring at it and giggling. She has clearly learned how to get on my good side.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Upstate is a different land

Growing up, I never understood why Democratic candidates would always win New York's senate seats, this despite the fact that my parents and everyone I knew voted Republican. I didn't understand about the New York City factor until I was older.

A recent trip upstate to visit my parents reminded me of my conservative roots, which I manage to repress most of the time here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which is pretty much the bleeding liberal heart of the western world. So yes, I am aware that I've been away from Kansas for a while, but even still, I couldn't help but find this envelope - here photographed in the wild, sitting on top of my parents' stack-o-mail - a little disturbing.

Is it me or does that Eagle's beak look a little longer and more predatory than is strictly necessary? Ready to peck out the eyes of filthy illegal immigrants, perhaps? To feast upon the steaming entrails of freshly disemboweled MoveOn members? To pick clean the bones of Obama's dead on arrival attempt to reform healthcare?

On the bright side, The Land of Upstate is home to some spectacular winter sunsets.