May 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Winter is gone and spring seems fleeting with intense heat already baring down upon us. Our once lush lawn now resembles the not so distant golden foothills that California is famous for. Knitting season, if there even really is one in this golden state of sunshine, is officially over and yet I feel that I have never had my hands so full with knitting projects. Last week while knitting furiously to finish a swatch which I was working on in cotton, my yarn began sticking to my fingers and by the end of the swatch it was completely misshapen, a display of every tension imaginable, ironically causing more tension for me. I am finding that with this hot weather I am feeling incredibly inspired and desire to do so much than I have time for or am capable of, and yet I feel that I am completely unwilling to compromise in my standards when working on something. If only I could let some things be “not so good” I would have time for so much more, but that is just not how I tick. So now the ideas and projects are stacking up, literally and figuratively. Our poor living room is a disaster and I can hardly sleep at night because I am so full of ideas that I just don’t know where to begin and what to weed out.
I spent the majority of last week working on gauge swatches for new designs and ideas. What I thought would be only a few soon multiplied and I couldn’t even escape my creativity in the shower. At the same time, with a bustling garden and an amazing new kitchen I so desire to be cooking up a storm, trying new recipes and my desire to write has also increased dramatically. And none of this is even my “full-time” job. The Little Buckaroo, now 10 1/2 months old, started walking over a month ago, and we are just as busy as ever with play-dates baby gym, baby swimming, and backyard playtime. So where and how do I coax my energy; dedicate my very little spare time?
And then I heard this song. So, I hate to admit it (no, really, I do), I watch SMASH. Oh, the show is terrible. Just recently, in talking to my sister about it, I told her that I thought it was supposed to be satirical, as there is no way with acting, story, and dialog that bad they could really be taking themselves seriously. I assumed that because the show is about the development of a Broadway musical, that the content within the show was intended to closely reflect a real Broadway musical, in which, in my opinion, the acting, dialog and story lines are different from a television or movie drama. She informed me that I was quite wrong, and they do take themselves quite seriously. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it.
On this last week’s (terrible) show—oh the bad, and overacting, the super spelled-out, cliché, predictable storyline—one of the characters serenaded the other with a song by Billy Joel, Vienna. This song really resonated with me looking at it in a very literal way, one section in particular:
You got your passion, you got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true (Oooh)
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?
“Dream on” yup, I’m good at that part. It’s just that I like to imagine them all to come true, too. Yet, I know they won’t. Maybe this is why I am not willing to compromise my standards when I am working on something. If I know that I am not going to complete every single last thing that I want to do, then the things that I do do, I want to try to do as well as I can. And while I ping-pong in between my ideas, projects, cooking, gardening and parenting I feel that I am can be proud of the things that I am accomplishing, even if it is only a fraction of what I wish I had time to do. Dream on!
April 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
Another Fashion Friday post missed, but last week was a real doozie, and the week ended with a very special (surprise) dinner.
My husband always tries to downplay his birthday, with singing cake and gifts not in his preferences for the occasion. He desires for nothing more than to pass the day as just another. However, with this year’s passing his number of years ticking to one ending with a “0″ meant I couldn’t feign indifference and planned a surprise dinner party for last Friday evening with just a few folks that Ramon considers family. The theme for our festive event was “A Dinner Party at the Swiss Chalet” and I served all of the makings from a weeks worth of labor for Raclette followed by a desert of chocolate fondue with fruits. Raclette is a traditional Swiss cheese. Dating back hundreds of years to when shepherds tended their herds in the mountains of Switzerland. With limited supplies meals consisted of cheese which was melted by the fire and drizzled over potatoes and pickles. Today raclette can easily be served in the home with raclette grills which can fairly easily be found. Each individual in the dinner party uses their very own grilling tray. It is a little like “advanced” fondue.
I’ve only had raclette once before and it was made from delicious leftovers prepared by the best amateur chefs I know over a weeks time at a cabin up in Tahoe. I used the week leading up to the party, and Ramon’s birthday as an excuse to make tons of food so that once Friday arrived I would have very little to cook. I started planning weeks in advance, and with the Little Buckaroo in tow, I was fully prepared for my week-long culinary adventure, complete with budges and back-up plans just in case crabby pants wasn’t having any of it. I also knew that we would have a vegetarian at the party so I knew that all of my sauces or post-meat-grilling-pared-veggies would need to be handled in a way as to not be “contaminated” by non-vegetarian-friendly tools and ingredients. So, no well-seasoned-with-bacon-fat cast iron skillets, or reducing a sauce with reserved liquid from a cooking pan. Thank goodness I planned ahead and thought about this before beginning a single dish, or I would have had lots and lots of work on Friday to make a whole new set of dishes for our vegetarian guest. All I did all week was cook, and try to hide the evidence. On Friday Ramon had quite a wonderful surprise and we all had an amazing feast.
While the fruits of my labors were expected to result in many dishes for both herbivores and omnivores (and, if I am being honest, at least one carnivore) I didn’t expect to have so many left-overs from my left-overs but found myself happily cooking omelets on Saturday that took mere minutes from start to finish with mustard-seed crusted prime-rib, grilled green onions, seared bell sweet peppers, topped off with a creamy horseradish sauce. Delightful decadence that could never have come about just from getting raw ingredients out of the cabinet that morning. This started off what I am fondly calling: The Best Saturday of the Year (so far).
Later in the day I was able to sit-down and finish my Joan Tank, from the pattern Essential Tank by Wendy Bernhard published in Custom Knits, which I had also been plodding away on while plotting my work carefully. I started out with one huge skein of somewhere around 800 yards of yarn. Not a knot, or an end in the middle other than just the two to start and finish the skein. Feeling lucky that my ball winder was specifically made to handle “Jumbo” yarn masses I happily knit round and round up until the arm-hole. Now this yarn is slippery, mercerized cotton. Anyone who has ever knit cotton knows how difficult it can be not only to weave in the ends, but to do so in a way which makes them invisible on the right side of the garment.
Listed in bullets for other knitters who want clarity on my modifications, they were:
- So, my first modification to the pattern, even before I landed on the lace panel going up the middle, was to add a purl 1 through the back loop to create a faux side seam, giving me a place to hide the first end from the cast-on.
- Then I decided on the 36 stitch lace panel, finding the center 36 stitches and marking them out with stitch markers. I worked my side decreases and increases every 12 rows as it matched up with the transitions of my lace patterns and the length / number of rows and inches I wanted the piece to measure. I started the decreases for the waste after 36 rows. Immediately after finishing the 12th row of the 3rd decrease I began the increases.
- Working my way through the body I started to think about how to handle the armholes, and the neckline. I knew that I’d need an edging of some sort, and the pattern lists out very basic instructions, but they involved breaking the yarn and starting in again, creating two new, and I felt, unnecessary, ends.
- I knit 24 rows up the front which was one full chart of the lace pattern vertically, and worked the armhole decreases just as described in the pattern. I wanted to shorten the armhole and drop the neck.
- I did have to break the yarn for the top neckline to create the two sides, but I chose not to bind-off the stitches at the shoulder, and just left them on holders, each side of the neck was 26 rows. This created 2 more ends, so now we’re up to 3, total.
- Then I had to start in a across the back—1 more end— and work my way up just at the front for 28 rows, as opposed to 24 for the front. I would still need to break the yarn for the neckline, but had another plan for the shoulder and armhole binding/edging. Upon reaching the shoulder, I took the held stitches from the matching front piece, and with right sides together, working across the wrong side of the work I knit 2 together, and bound-off, leaving the working yarn, unbroken at the armhole side of the tank-top. Then, again without breaking the yarn, I started picking-up and knitting stitches down the armhole, and then back-up the other side, 112 stitches in total. I then worked 4 rows in 2×2 ribbing, and bound off in the stitch pattern
- Before starting work up the second side of the back neck I split the rest of the ball of yarn into two balls, and pulled a loop, and without breaking the yarn, started knitting. I worked all of the way up the last neck piece, and followed just as I had done before to bind-off the stitches together with the front side, and then, again without breaking the yarn picking up and knitting 112 stitches around the armhole in 2×2 ribbing for 4 rows.
- Taking the second attached ball of yarn from the base of the neckline on the back I picked up 140 stitches around the neckline and worked 4 rows in 2×2 rib stitch, then did the bind-off in the same stitch pattern.
In the end I wound up with a total of 8 ends to weave in as opposed to a minimum of 14 if I had broken the yarn before each edging/binding. Then I wove in approximately 10 inches of each end into either the faux seam, or the back-side of the picked up stitches for the armholes and neckline completely hiding the ends from the work. Hooray! Success!! My careful planning worked. Thought I knew that I might have a problem with the abundantly open lace-work on the front side of the tank. I had already decided to lower the neckline of the front, and shorten the armholes on both the front and the back. While I was carefully counting my rows as I started in on the back, I realized that the neck wouldn’t gape with the binding the way I was planning it, so if I lowered it, too, I wouldn’t have problems. The back is 4 rows higher than the front where the neckline begins, but they are still both low and don’t gape.
Nothing ever turns out how you expect that it will with a knitting project. No matter how many gauge swatches, tests, or blocking you do there is always something unexpected. This yarn was supposed to be for a completely different tank-top and it just wasn’t working out. I uncommitted and recommitted to something new, where I anticipated a lot of problems and planned carefully to work around them. I am glad I really thought about it, instead of just following along with the pattern. Serendipity comes in unexpected sizes. Yesterday I made myself a gluten free ham sandwich with brie cheese, ham cubes, dijon sauteed onions and shallots, gently toasted to perfection from unexpected left overs from my raclette and I stood eating it in the kitchen with a glass of home-made lemon-aide while wearing the my Essential Tank with the lace to the back, the unexpected way in which I prefer to wear it.
For those interested in my compelete menu for our surprise raclette dinner (links for those available included, though I do often make changes):
- Ropa Vieja
- Ropa Vieja peppers & tomatoes
- Paprika crusted pork tenderloin
- Paprika mayonnaise
- Braised Short Ribs
- Port Wine Braised Short Ribs Reduction Sauce
- Mustard Seed Crusted Prime Rib Roast
- Dijon Mustard & balsamic sauteed onions and shallots
- Creamy Horseradish Sauce
- Au jus
- Bourbon & Dijon Sauce
- Asparagus Tips
- Bacon Sprouts (Brussels Sprouts cooked in Bacon Fat, and served with Bacon)
- Seared Cauliflower
- Seared Bell Peppers
- Grilled Zucchini
- Sundried Tomatos
- Cubed Ham
- Red wine marinated mushrooms
- Sauteed Green Onions
- Pesto, made fresh from the Basil growing my garden
April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Yes, I freely admit that I took the photos for this weeks Fashion Friday over a month ago, but sometimes it is just about getting it done. I took these photos and meant to post them for my Fashion Friday two weeks ago, but that didn’t happen. Then last week it didn’t happen either. I tried, I really, really did, but just had so much going on that it just wasn’t meant to be. We’re starting to get a little more settled into our new home and are still working our butts of to baby-proof the construction areas. We have no boxes left in the house, cluttering up space, but there is still a lot of stuff in the basement and garage that needs to find its proper spot. My “desk” (my computer sitting on top of a bookcase) also still needs to find a “home” and this remains the most daunting of the unpacking tasks that remains. The last few days it has been quite warm out and my happy, flourishing garden has taken notice. Though, anyone in Northern California this past Monday experienced some super crazy winds, and my new dwarf orange tree, waiting for its permanent planting spot just as the cookbooks wait in the garage for a new little bookcase to arrive in our amazing new kitchen, suffered the worst of the damage of all of my fair little plants. The quite large pot was blown over and it lost its second largest limb. Sadly, I collected it after cutting the remaining threads that attached it to the trunk, and Ramon asked, sadly, “There was no way to put a splint on it?” No, no there was not. I stuck in in a mug by the front window hoping that something will happen and for those sweet smelling little leaves to unfurl, but deep down I know that its fate is die. Such in the opposite trend of the season.
Spring is definitely here! I am knitting away as fast as I can, which just isn’t very fast due to lots of work even with long days. I am really enjoying the very few spring knits that I have made, but I am dying for more. My Rokocella tank-top as a new staple. The furled edges of the beautifully draped neckline in this clever top have constantly searching for more of that yarn to make another, but alas the yarn is unobtainium. Though even with my knitting going slowly I am still trying to get some new things made, and even some things fixed. I brought out my sewing machine this morning to fix the dust ruffle on the baby’s crib, and quickly learned that sewing is something he really, REALLY wants to participate in, and then I experienced his first full blown tantrum when I enforced our “no playing with cords” rule. Sad camper. There will be a time and a place but I need to have a better small spot in the house where he can’t pull on cords for the foot and power, and better place to put the machine than on the dinning room table that we’re trying to sell. I have a non-sewing, non-knitting project I’d like to get underway for next week though. Trying to turn my lemons into lemonade here, which, is something I am constantly doing with the lemons from our still-bursting-with-lemons tree in that beautiful new kitchen.
April 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Things have been slow going around here in the creative department. I’ve missed my last to Fashion Friday posts, and I am feeling very overwhelmed about the amount of work on the house that remains to be done. At the very end of the day when I sit down to enjoy a glass of wine, or sleep I just don’t have the energy for, well, anything. In fact, one night in the last week I just watched 45 minutes of TV, and that was it. No knitting, looking at patterns, yarn ball winding, plotting of my next sewing project. Just 45 minutes of mind-melting television. Ugh! What has become of me?
I am exhausted. It’s that simple. Just completely exhausted. Within 3 days over Easter weekend the Little Buckaroo took his first steps, said his first word, got his second tooth, and barfed carrots in the pool at his swimming lesson. He’s only 9 months old, and he is just so busy, and so social that when he is awake—which is pretty much all day—he requires a full time entertainer. I am sure that anyone else in my shoes would be exhausted, too. I am lucky to have a baby that sleeps solid all night long, but when you’re so busy during the day, come 10 pm your energy is depleted too. With the dark cloud of house projects looming overhead, and this feeling of being utterly overwhelmed it is hard to feel the creativity flowing (in between 10:00 pm and 10:15 pm when I fall asleep). In addition to the baby and the house projects there is all of the day to day: dinner to make dinner to make, new hardwood floors to sweep and mop, a sexy black granite counter-top that deserves nothing but the best, laundry, more laundry, crazy cats that also want attention … OH! There is also my first real garden, planted and growing. I seem to be having a pretty serious problem though. The tomato plants I started from seeds are growing beautifully, so are the squash and the water-mellon plants. My new sunflower, carrot, radish and beet seeds are also sprouting. My strawberry plants are already showing signs of life, and my very first home-grown strawberry is almost ripe. I have my blackberry and raspberry bushes planted with trellises. I even have a garden cart that has folding down metal sides and can hold up to 750 lbs, regardless if there is no way to actually pull that much weight. So, what could be the problem? One grosse, slimy word: Snails.
Zucchini, yellow onions, and my huge, blooming sage bush
Snails! Where to they all come from? They’re slow, sticky and I don’t want anything to do with them. Yet, in the time it takes me to go and fetch an instrument of removal they’ve gone 10 feet across my garden, and multiplied. Slow, they’re supposed to be slow. Snails are specifically known for their slowness. They eat your plants and make a huge mess of things and there seems to be no way to get rid of them. I leave out snail bait. I put my plants in undesirable snail areas. I “remove” them when I find them. I feel like I see so many of them that I they are starting to haunt me.
My precious Green Globe artichoke plant, minus all snails for the moment
My current knitting project even has snails on my mind, too. A couple of weeks ago I started the Shell Tank from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan. I slowly creeped through almost the entire back piece of the top and realized that it just wasn’t going well. I must have measured my gauge 87 times, and everything always came out to 23 stitches per inch, instead of the specified 21. So, why the hell was it so big? I looked at the measurements and decided that my real error was in picking this pattern to begin with. I have a nasty habit of starting a project without reading through the entire pattern first. The pattern is written well, that’s not the problem. It is the sizing. The bust measurement on the smallest size is 36 inches, which would mean over 4 inches of ease on me. While I haven;t taken loads of sewing and fashion classes (yet) I still know that 4 inches of ease in the bust for a garment like this one is just too much. Way too much, in fact. The top is knit from the bottom up, and starts out wider, decreasing towards the bust. So, instead of having waist shaping the top has extra ease for style added in. Well, in the picture with the model it doesn’t look like she has 40 inches of fabric around her 24 inch waist does it. I wanted a flattering tank, not a fattening tank. So, after working on it for a week, well the toads were a-croakin and started leaping over to my snail knitting pace and the back piece was completely frogged (ripped-out). My huge yarn-ball awaiting a new spring or summer knitting project.
That morning during a brief Little Buckaroo napping session, before painting some window trim, and after loading the dishwasher I flipped through my freshly liberated knitting books, delighted to see the light of day after spending 3 1/2 months in moving boxes, and came across Wendy Bernard’s Essential Tank from Custom Knits. Wendy lives in Southern California. I met her at Vogue Knitting Live Los Angeles a year and a half ago. She is a delightful woman and writes delightful patterns, many of which are not only not only appropriate for our California climate but also really suit my personal style. Her books was a go-to for this yarn, as I have just over 800 yards and that is all I will ever be able to get. Upon flipping to the page with the Essential Tank pattern I realized that I really, really wanted to make a tank-top as I just had so much fun with my Rokochella and really wanted to continue in the same spirit. No matter how you slice it, I will not run out of yarn (I truly hope I haven’t just jinxed myself), it’s cute, it’s simple, it is super easy to modify and my gauge was dead on. I never even noticed this pattern before. Done in the round, from the bottom up, shown in a sort of cement color it is a beautiful blank canvas that I overlooked. She has so many cute sweaters this one just didn’t have any pop until I had the right yarn for the project.
I cast on and quickly finished the ribbing, stitches were just flying off my needles. Well, I wanted them to be flying, I even pretended they were, but they were just sort of coming and going. I was excited about the project, the potential! Simple two by two ribbing, so, why did it seem a little slow? Once I got past the ribbing I got to the meat of the project, round after round working my way up to the armholes where then the project would be divided and front and back knit separately. I didn’t feel attached to the beautiful but simple ribbing covering the length of the front of the tank. On Ravelry some other Knitters (with a capital K) replaced this vertical style element with pretty cables or little lace patterns. There has been a pattern in Vogue Knitting Stitctionary 5: Lace Knitting that I have loved forever and have been looking for somewhere to implement this 34 stitch wide, by 24 row high (repeated) beauty: #115 Classic Frost Flowers. In the spirit of spring, and having just completed planting all of my plants and seeds in the garden I thought that embracing frost flowers was a natural progression. I counted my stitches and got my new, wider center panel centered and away I went. The chart was very surprisingly easy to memorize, I changed my decreases and increases for the side shaping to correlate perfectly with the flow of the chart so virtually no thinking was required for completing them yet this super simple tank top, taking oh so little yarn is just dragging on and on and on … After a week and a half I finally reached the level where I divide the front and the back at the armholes.
About 6 weeks ago which was about the time that I bought this yarn at Stitches West, I received an email pertaining to Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. I noticed quite an increase of Vogue Knitting emails timed around Stitches West. Coincidence? I think not. The particular email that I am recalling made mention of a “Speed Knitting” competition at the Vogue Knitting Live Seattle Event. Oh how this got my heart all aflutter. I think I am a speedy knitting, but I know that I am not speedy compared so some others. I can hold my own with a pair of knitting needles though. Before the baby was born, when I was still knitting English style (2-3 seconds per stitch) I could still complete a sweater in a week. After learning to knit Continental style I only got faster and faster, though I had to work on improving my tension to regain my “machine-knit” look in my work. Currently I can easily knit through 200 yards a day, if I have the time and the energy, and can have knit up to 325 yards in a day, though I must not be disturbed in the process. We’re talking straight stockinette (in the round) or garter (flat).
Hearing about the Speed Knitting competition made my imagination go wild. I told Ramon about it, and interested, he started asking questions, “Does everyone knit the same thing, using the same tools?” I didn’t know, and still don’t, but must assume so. Ramon, almost as wide eyed as myself said it sounded like fun, and maybe I should try to go. I quickly turned down the idea. At the time I didn’t know how, or when the move would go and I have that fabulous Little Buckaroo, in need of a full time entertainer. The trip would be two plane tickets, a hotel, and being gone between 1 and 3 days. It wouldn’t be fair to leave the little guy, or Ramon all alone in charge for who knows how many days, especially after he had worked so hard on our new house, and not knowing what state our living situation would be in or if we would have even moved yet. I told Ramon, “I’d really, really love to. Even if I couldn’t participate, and I doubt I would be competitive, just to see what the other magic needle workers can do. Another time, another year. I am sure that there will be another chance.”
Well, Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle came and went this past weekend. The pictures on their facebook page elude to a lot of fun. I can find no mention of the competition, but I already know that this was not my year to try to participate, especially when the thing that I am knitting on now is going so damn slow! As I knit along at a snails pace, I knew that adding in the lace would add some time, but this seems ridiculous. I thought I was a speedy knitter, but we all need to be humbled sometimes. I just didn’t realize that this was the project to do it.
However, as I am learning, snails aren’t particularly slow. The myth a fallacy, they are speedy little slim-balls, especially when you’re trying to protect your precious artichoke plant. I brought up the snails with my mom the other day, another soul not so interested in theirs. She also commented on their sneaky speed and I told her that I tossed them out left and right, applied the snail bait and there always seem to be more. She replied, “Well, have you seen my fish tank?” It all started with only one snail. No one even knows how it got there, but there was only one and it was removed. Now, there are thousands. No matter how many you pluck out of that tiny fish tank, thousands more pop up in their place.
My tank top may be taking a while but I’m getting their with quantity. The slowness could also have to do with the fact that I am working with sport weight mercerized cotton which requires many my favorite hand lotion—Unicorn Farts—applied liberally at bedtimes. But stitch after stitch it’s getting there. The lace is beautiful, I love it, though I know I will have to wear another tank-top underneath it, and because of the slow going I have noticed that the yarn has a super subtle hit of yellow in it which I could only see after about 10 thousand stitches had been completed. Sleepy, exhausted and overwhelmed by the house projects I approach the tank-top every night. Where originally there was just one ball of weaving yarn, never intended for hand-knitting, I am creating something beautiful from thousands of my stitches. I often think of our house as Humpty Dumpty and we’re putting it back together again, a million little pieces to create one
house home. While it may be overwhelming and a lot of work it will be well worth it, just as it will be well worth the continued battle on the slimy mono-peds in my backyard.
Oh my God, if those snails get my very first strawberry though, I am going to go Rambo on their asses.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It has been two weeks since I have touched a knitting needle. Two whole weeks. It is hard for even me to believe. Busy as a little bee I’ve been unpacking, organizing, and of course, as always taking care of my beloved Little Buckaroo. While we moved in on the Ides of March, now here we are just over 10 days later and there is still so much to do. When we moved none of the trim pieces were in place—moldings, door-frames, window-frames, the solid wood doors themselves, wainscoting, and even some of the baseboards. Ramon saved the 107 year old redwood originals (thanks Santa Cruz Mountains) during the demo. He sent them all off to be “tanked” which means that instead of painstakingly stripping off layers and layers of foul paint, the doors and all go in a huge vat of caustic-soda and decades of grime, lead-based paint and God knows what else is removed. At Gymboree today one of the Mommy’s asked me, “Why didn’t you just replace it all?” Good question, one which I asked myself way back when as well. It is probably over a mile worth of “trim,” and you just can’t get this stuff down at the old hardware store. It would all have to be handmade, so why not save the original redwood–great solid, carved pieces—and fix them back up.
All of this is fine and good until the baby is standing up, pulling out our new Pink Panther insulation from the 3 inch, uncovered gap between the window panes in his room, exactly where a trim piece should go. We knew that this is what would happened, but we collapsed in exhaustion and vowed to get to it just as soon as we could move again. Well, the problem got worse on Saturday when I left the room for only a moment and I came back to a screaming, bleeding 9 month old little boy. A huge splinter in his thumb. Where did he get it? I don’t know … so many options. Ugh. As things stand I cannot leave him alone in any room, or in any place for any reason, with the exception of his crib. When you just get him up from a nap, feed him his lunch and then say, oh, need to use the bathroom, you can’t very well put him in his crib again. He’ll be pissed! So, onto the bathmat he goes, pulling at the shower door, toilet paper and everything else until you’re done with you business. Not exactly a road-map for success we’re drawing out here. So, in a delirious state from trying to get boxes unpacked and keep two eyes always on that little, starting-to-take-his-first-steps baby, our new “home-renovation” plan has taken a left turn: Safety first, with a little bit of convenience squeezed in where absolutely necessary. Funny how you can’t open kitchen cabinets without some sort of “pull” or “bar.” And if you don’t have one of those, a broken finger nail just might be able to do the trick. (Special thanks for my Dad to installing all of our kitchen cabinet hardware this weekend, in a special effort to avoid his own home renovation project )
Yesterday I got 15 boxes of books unpacked and put away, 4 boards enamel painted for the baby’s window and a coat of primer on both sides of one door and 10 more trim pieces. Today, the remaining pieces enameled, about 8 boxes unpacked and our bathroom closet organized. At the end of the day we are both exhausted again. Ramon bought an amazing pressure washer which we need to get the rest of the caustic-soda out of the trim pieces. We found out the hard way that they needed a further rinsing. Don’t ask. With paint splattered hands, and through broken finger nails I sat down tonight in need of a Knitcation. I scraped the start of my last project. I just want something simple, something I don’t have to put any thought into—well, not much anyway, little thought for me. I picked up my needles and my Knitting Nature book of patterns and started my Shell Tank—a lovely and unexpected gift from my sister. Two inches in, after two weeks of no knitting and my hands feel cramped and tired. They’ve been very hard at work in other ways though. These two simple, not so special little inches make me realize how much I love creating something new though, and how much I miss, and need it. Un-packing, organizing, painting are all great and extremely worthwhile tasks of employment by our new home, but the act of creating something totally new, where nothing existed before is what drives me forward. Gardening, knitting, cooking, they’re all creating something from nothing, parts, tools. This is why I love all of these types of projects. It is so stimulating and enjoyable knowing that what I have in my hands, even if it is just started, is some sort of contribution I can make that I created completely. There is always something new to learn, and a new tool to enjoy learning about.
Tomorrow is another day. More paint, more boxes, more Gymboree and giggles from the little guy, and I hope a little bit of new creation can be found in there, too.
March 22, 2013 § 1 Comment
I always find it amazing the common references I can come across in passages from different books that I read within a matter of days. This week, for example, in one day, I read a passage from a children’s book to my son that referenced Icarus, and then that afternoon a passage from a book on my nightstand also referencing Icarus.
This has happened many times. Within a week’s time-frame I’ll read, for example, about the higgs boson or about elephant communication through the stamping of feet, 60 miles apart in texts that have nothing, what-so-ever to do with one another. A cookbook and a novel, or a travel essay and a piece in Elle magazine. The universe bringing together loose ends, I suppose. Whatever the case, I always, always find it quite novel, and enlightening.
This week is no different. Even in the chaos of the move I have left two books out. I still try to find time to read to the baby, even though he’s never in the mood to sit and listen. While he plays quietly with his toys in his new room I read then. All of my knitting has been completely packed away for a week now, and even though I know where every last strand of it is, I haven’t liberated it from the moving containers. I know that my attention, patience, and energy just isn’t there. So in what little downtime I have had, I have found myself immersed in literature.
So, twice in one day, in hopes of expanding our already great imaginations, I encountered Icarus. In the children’s book the character in question is a seagull, covered in oil and about to die. She remembers a story of a man how made wings out of eagle feathers and flew so close to the sun that the wax he used to bond them together, and to himself, melts. She decides to do the same thing to try to saver he own life, and in the end dies, but not before making a new acquaintance promise to take care of her egg. In the book from my nightstand the protagonist sees herself as Icarus in his descent from the sun, falling from grace, and an inevitable death. The seagull never gets to that part of the story, even though that is her exact fate, and the young woman in my book never gets to her “death” but learns that she is only on a never ending ascent towards a happiness she never expected—could never see through her own self-doubt and insecurity.
I find that how these two stories intertwine Icarus into them to be quite remarkable. In the children’s book Icarus is used as a symbol of hope, and freedom, even though the unthinkable outcome remains the same, but unmentioned until fate intervenes. And in my book the Icarus is omnipresent pessimism, death certain, and foreseen failure, but the unexpected flight to the sun is the celebrated journey, even though it’s never spoken of in quite that way.
I realize that I’ve seen both sides of Icarus in our move. Let me rephrase: Our remodel and our move. I mentioned in a previous post, my mother commonly says, “It could be worse, you could be moving.” The worst of the move though is the time leading up to the move. I need to remember to read this before my next move, which will hopefully not be for a very, very long while. The baby didn’t want to cooperate. I was at the sad end of my emotional rope. Ramon, too, of course. Oh my God, the hundreds of hours of hard labor he poured into our new home. My mom helped me pack dozens of boxes, and tolerated my foul mood, all while cheerfully watching over my unhappy, insecure baby, so I could pack more boxes, and get ready for the movers. Then, the movers came. The picked everything up. The apartment was empty. To the new house, my mom sitting in the backyard with the Little Buckaroo happily playing in his pack-in-play under our huge awning in our huge backyard. Movers brought everything in, put felt feet on all of our furniture to protect the beautiful floor that my husband painstakingly laid by hand. The Little Buckaroo giggled all afternoon. We set-up is room, completely unpacking every last box of his, except for the books for a bookcase which he doesn’t yet have. In one day we were out of the old, and into the new.
On Saturday lots of work unpacking, a trip to Gymboree and a visit to the Easter Bunny which the Little Buckaroo was convinced was fairly traumatic. On Sunday we cleaned-up the apartment. Done. Completely done with that place and it’s funky lack of 70′s charm. We headed home, and my mom headed out for her home. Shortly thereafter I tripped over a Mega Blok (giant lego) in our new living room while holding the baby, and we were both pretty sure I had broken my big toe. More work on Monday, and on Monday night the lovely fellow how sold Ramon his dirt IMCA car came over and installed our brilliant new counter-tops: black granite with copper specs. Stunning. Running faucet with brilliant motion sensor.
By Tuesday we figured out that my Toe wasn’t broken, but something seriously bad has happened. Alas, I am stuck in my silly Crocs, which I consider house slippers, and then the rain comes in. Desperate for my lovely Hunter rain-boots I pull out the four most giant moving boxes we bought, all containing my precious shoes.
Of course I didn’t get to that box until too late in the day to utilize the boots, but the action was already in motion. After dinner I cleaned up, and loaded our new Kitchen-aid dishwasher, including putting all of the small bottle-parts and silverware in the third-rack (they come with those?) and adjusting the height of the second rack to accommodate cutlery (the rack just slides with the touch of a button! Who knew?). After washing dishes by hand for years the dishwasher is one of my favorite new things. Having a baby and washing everything by hand, then sterilizing it in the oven multiple times per day is mind-bogglingly exhausting. I started the dishwasher and the little light is the only indication it’s on it’s so quiet.
After my new favorite chore, I got to my last box of shoes. I knew this was my holy-grail of the moving boxes: The box with all the good shoes. Shoes I love, and haven’t seen for months and months. Carefully I opened it, and peeled back the flaps. LAMB, Dior, Louboutin, Manolo, Giuseppe, Stuart, Kate … my favorite names. there they were. I felt like this was better than Christmas as a child. The smell of the leather, the brightly colored boxes. The obscene price-tags I like to leave on, from the days when I could afford them. I cleaned the shelves of my armoire where they belong, and carefully Tetris-ed them into their new home. We’re here, we’ve got a long way to go with putting the house together, but we’re home. We’re really home. Faintly, I can hear the dishwasher draining in the background, and I feel immensely happy. Even with my toe broken, and a 9 month old baby on the verge of walking I can’t express my gratitude and happiness at having my beautiful pieces of art back. I know my shoe collection is nice, but wouldn’t come close to rivaling the like’s of Dalyn’s. It is still mine, and it is home, quasi broken-toe and all.
How could all of that moving be so hard? Why was my mood so foul? My emotions so frayed? The move is the hardest in the weeks and days leading up to the big day, but once it’s happened the weight has been lifted. Deadlines removed. There will always be more to get done, but there is time, and, even more importantly there is my amazing family.
My fall from grace happened first, I’m not the seagull. Now I am seeing the great glory of my husband’s amazing hard work and long hours of physical labor that went into building us this amazing new home. Our house is 106 years old. We have new walls, new plumbing, new ceilings, all new electrical, new lights, new chandelier, new rugs, a new hardwood floor through the entire house, a new kitchen, new cabinets, new—very old, vintage—stove, new refrigerator with two sweet bottom pull out freezer drawers, and a new dishwasher that is dead-quiet with bonus features I could have never dreamed of, but an old love, a beautiful family, and a very happy growing little boy with his very own back yard. We all feel the warmth of the sun inspiring our imagination and well-being. This spring, summer, house and future hold a lot of bright things for us.
Well, I suppose I should be getting a move on to this week’s look: a quick headband I knit in one evening in the week leading up to the move, a princess seamed purple, black and gold plaid shirt that I made before starting Project-Hallway.com, some simple jeans, the boots I am oh-so-glad I wore on moving day as I dropped a huge sheet of glass, which shattered upon contact with my foot.
- Headband: Hand-knit, Blue Leaf Headband, A Free pattern by Adrienne Krey
- Earings: Black pearl studs, a gift from my sister and brother-in-law from one of his business trips to Manilla
- Shirt: Handmade using clearance costume fabric from Joanns, go figure. Custom pattern from before I knew enough to get myself into trouble.
- Pants: Jeans, Gap
- Boots: Frye, Veronica Short Black Boot
- Nail polish: Julep, Joan
March 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
So today is the Ides of March. Finally, at long last, it is moving day. I captured this look last week to save myself the headache and impossibility of completing a Fashion Friday post this week. I knew I’d be too
busy crazy packing, and I was right. Glad I planned ahead.
In the very recent past I have noticed some introspective graffiti around the very wealthy town I am in the middle of moving out of. This is a place where people park their Ferrari’s in the driveway, under the tree because they have a nice car in the garage, and the fellas at the bar offer to show you their viper in the parking lot, and are referring to an actual Dodge Viper (go figure)—true story, happened to a girlfriend of mine. (*Disclaimer: Just because I live(d) here, doesn’t mean I share the ideals of my neighbors … or the bank account. It is very beautiful here, lots of trees.) I have noticed two tags in the neighborhood which is very, very, very rare. We don’t even have public transportation going into our downtown here as to keep the “undesirables” out. No one here needs to ride a bus. The first of the two tags was “Ignorance is Bliss,” signed not by the artist but by our small, affluent town. It was removed promptly after it’s arrival, and the second, “Just Keep Waiting” in big, white letters along the sound barrier of a very congested part of the the freeway, among lush trees and smog. I loved these two tags, and in a way are sad that they disappeared so quickly. They weren’t particularly beautiful in their application and execution but their winning ironic messages make me wonder what else is it that is just so obvious that we’re just not seeing, lurking in that tall low-water trendy Japanese grass ground-cover so common around these landscaped parts … ironic & true.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the Pacific Orchid Expo at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I just love going to this event every year, there are always some really shocking, surprising, unexpected orchids. This year, between long, thin green blades, the tiniest string of orchid’s I’ve ever seen. Each of those in the photo (below) are no longer than half of the length of my index finger and too many tiny blossoms to count. Yet, there they are, surprising, tiny orchids, lurking in that unassuming grass. How beautiful.
My mom is known for often telling those complaining, “It could be worse, you could be moving!” Ugh. This has been a very difficult week: packing and finishing the remodel. While I am still not sure it is all going to get done, we are on our way. With a lot of help not only packing but also chasing after the Little Buckaroo, and my husband’s extreme hard work, a hell of a lot has gotten done this week, but for a price. We’re all exhausted, and at the end of our ropes, Buckaroo included. He’s scared to death of the tape-gun and is feeling insecure about all of the changes. I don’t blame him.
The Ides of March is considered an unlucky day. For Julius Cesare it was, and all the while he even knew it was coming. Since I am not a politician I should try to look at this moving day of a day of good fortune, instead of the culmination of exhaustion, but being positive isn’t necessarily my strong suit. I think on this Ides of March I need to find my inner tiger, and pull forth my willpower and courage to get though this tough time. All the while I knew this move was coming, and the lead-up would almost be the (figurative) death of all of us, but lurking behind those blades of grass is the finish line. Just keep
waiting working … If we can get through this, we can get through anything.
So for today we have the Ides of the Tiger, and let’s just make it the hell through this mess. It could be worse, we could be packing up our 6,000 square foot home that we’d lived in for 12 years and moving off to Australia like my older sister just did. I don’t know how she managed it. I really, really don’t. But even she found the willpower and courage to make it through, and look what she found on her new front balcony in her new home down-under.
Maybe ignorance is bliss: you never know what awaits! (Sunrise and Lorikeet photo courtesy of my sister, Lauri—I hope you don’t mind that I used them).
I found the top at Target and snatched it up as soon as I caught eye of the tiger, or maybe it was the other way around. Twelve bucks. I went back the next day, and they were gone, gone, gone. I can’t find a link anywhere on the Target site, but it is the Mossimo brand. I decided to try a couple of fun different looks with it. The first with a skirt from way back when I started my blog, also playing up this fun, super florescent trend of the Spring, even if it is only in the lining of the skirt, and the kick-pleat in the back.
The second notable piece from this look: the debut of my very first knitting project ever, on my blog. I made this scarf about 8 months before I started Project-Hallway.com and felt ashamed of its imperfections. Since then I have really grown to love it, and thought it would be a fun, unexpected addition to my super-bright beloved tiger. The second look includes some of my favorite trousers of the season, my Minty Fresh Cords from Old Navy (link below). The baby HATES these pants. Every single time I wear them he barfs on them, throws pureed blackberries on them, poops on them. None of my other pants, just these. It is guaranteed that if I wear them, they will be in the washing machine before noon.
Only after taking the photos for this week did my husband bring home my March issue of Lucky. I changed my mailing address a while ago, as I thought we’d be moving … a while ago. So, sometimes it takes a while for new mail to make it home. I ripped it out of it’s plastic and flipped through, and there again, I caught the eye of the tiger.
I thought it cute that I styled my tiger with my minty fresh pants when here it is done the same way. I tried the target.com/springstyle link printed in the add, but still no luck on finding the Tiger tee online. I guess every little bargain-hunting fashionista pounced on this little prey as soon as it hit the rack: Sold Out,
just keep waiting Think Fast! I got lucky!
- Scarf: Handmade, a simple 2×2 rib knit. My very first knitting project.
- Top: Target, Mossimo Tiger Tee (Sold Out, no link available)
- Skirt: Handmade, original blog post here
- Shoes: BCBG Generation
- Nailpolish: Zoya, Wednesday
- Blazer: Pim + Larkin, Herringbone Equestrian Jacket
- Top: Target, Mossomo Tiger Tee (Sold Out, no link available)
- Pants: Old Navy, Rockstar Pop-Color Cords in Minty Fresh
- Boots: Frye, Betty in Tan
- Nailpolish: Zoya, Wednesday