Better Pals are BEST!

I LOVE to give gifts. I love choosing the gift, I love putting it together, I love wrapping it – I LOVE seeing the giftee’s expression. I really do. I’m very generous. Because of love the act of THE GIFT – more than the sentiment behind it. Do you know what I mean? It’s got to be PERFECT!

So when I saw all the Secret Pal buttons I knew I had to get in on one. I eagerly joined SP4. Blah. Let’s just say it did NOT meet up to my expectations. I tried to do a good job for my SP, and I think I did, but she was very preoccupied with lots of stuff going on in her life and we didn’t make much of a connection. She was appropriately grateful and all, but there was no spark between us. My SP sent one package that really didn’t fit my profile and then nothing until a nice gift certificate from Elann. Which helped me buy a swift so I was grateful for that, but again, no real contact. Next to nothing spark.

So when I was approached to join a small intimiate gathering of bloggers who would be better pals, I jumped at the chance. We all sort of know each other, or know someone who knows someone, so the odds are that there won’t be much disappointment going around.

Well, today I received my first BETTER PAL package! Yay! I was SO excited. The thing that sort of makes this gift exchange unique is that since we’re such a small group – the secret can almost leap out of the bag. My BP does not live in my country, apparently, from the postage, and I’m relatively sure I could find out very quickly who she is! But I HAVEN’T BP! I don’t know! And I vow, right now, on my blog, to do my best NOT to find out! Okay? Okay.

Look how bright and cheery! I couldn’t wait to rip all the packages open. In her note, BP says she wanted to go with an autumn theme – and autumn she did!

That’s three balls of Rowan Felted Tweed in the new Ginger Spice color! Luscious! I’ve never knit with this yarn, but I’m raring to go. When I picked it up the first thing I thought of was MITTENS! (Or gloves?) The yarn is perfect for that, don’t you think? Nice and warm and cozy! And there’s an orange suede pencil case – which I think I’ll use for knitting doodads – I don’t want to mess it up with pencils. And a gorgeous notebook that will hopefully inspire some writing. Thank you thank you thank you BP! Can’t wait to hear from you again!


I’ve taken some editorial license over at Knit One Read Too, yet again. Instead of taking regular nominations, I’ve decided that this month’s book (discussion will start on October 17th) will be a book set in New Orleans, as a way to honor the city and its citizens, as well as a way to travel through literature. I’ve never had the chance to visit, and I’m sorry for that now. Each book is VERY different, and if you’re a member, head on over to vote. If you’re not a member, but would like to be, c’mon and join. We’re just getting back after the summer, so you haven’t missed anything yet.

Have a great weekend everyone! See you on the flip side!
L, C

Hello my friend. I’ve missed you.

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in (literally) years.

I read. All day. For hours. In fact, I read so much I finished my book. The Time Traveler’s Wife was completed at 5:36 PM after reading off and on since about 10:30. I read about 400 pages. And I didn’t fall asleep once (in fact, I was strangely energized.)

I’m not going to say much about the book, because I’ll save that for the discussion over at K1R2 next Monday, but I cried my eyes out. The book, overall, was disturbing, and I don’t think it was terribly well-written, but it certainly was captivating, and it certainly evoked a powerful reaction – which is pretty much what you’re hoping for when you write. So I’d say it was a success.

For many, many years reading was my only obsession. I was the kid with the flashlight. I was never without a book (used to bring them on dates – kind of the way I do with my knitting now). Not being in the middle of a book resulted in crankiness and irritability. Even BUYING books was cause for celebration.

Things change, and in the last few years, especially since I’ve gotten so involved with my knitting, you could take the above paragraph and change books to yarn and you’ve got my life. So I’m very grateful to Audrey Niffenegger for giving me a taste of my past. I’ve missed it.

I did manage to knit a couple of rows on Clap-O-TEE AND, get ready, hold onto your handknitted socks, weave in a few ends on Short Rows. It was getting awfully crowded on the side and there was just NO MORE ROOM to weave in another end, so I tied a knot. Is that terribly, horribly awful? Just ONE TINY knot. It won’t take away the complete and utter integrity of the piece will it?

I also did a bad bad thing. After I saw Meredith’s spanking new fabulous purple socks, I had to have the yarn. So I bought two skeins – one in the to die for purple, and one in light/dark blue stripes. The yarn is Regia Cotton Surf and it is SO soft. I’m loving the idea of cotton sock yarn too. The problem? I’ve been wanting to try two socks on two circulars and they’ve given me ONE skein for two socks. And Meredith’s stripes match up so nicely – I’m afraid to split the skein in half to have two balls, so I can do two socks at one time. Crazy, right? I should just do one freaking sock already! And Jen? Where were you? You’re supposed to STOP me from buying sock yarn!!!

What I’d really like to do today is knit Clap-o-TEE until my hands fall off – I want this done so I can go back to Short Rows. I’m really missing it.

Hey! Has everyone seen Margene’s Nothin’ But A T-Shirt? A more perfect garment (especially for the owner) has NOT been knit. Go on over and show her the love! 😉

Oh and speaking of showing the love, I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails about my photographs. Your appreciation of my work is beyond appreciated. It’s hard to put yourself out there in the world – really hard. And the feedback is so encouraging. So, thank you!

Charting A Course

And yes, I know I’m missing a WS knit stitch. Already fixed!

It’s amazing how much fun you can have with some knitting software and excel. I basically ended up making up the symbols for the twists and cables (I copied the ones from the Harmony book – it’s what I’m used to) and I’m pretty proud of my chart. Georgie thinks I’m crazy. (But hey, he was playing TENNIS all weekend, so what does he care what I do with my time? 😉 )

Even more fun than charting? Knitting up the swatch!

I changed some things from the last swatch, namely, made the small cable (the one in the middle that breaks up the two larger cables) a CB4 instead of a CB6 and there are now only two purl stitches between the big cable and the little cable. (Isn’t it so convenient that the cables are small, medium and large!?!) I’m VERY happy with the third cable – the new one that everyone was SO HELPFUL with Friday night! I couldn’t have done this without you!

And in true geek fashion, I’ve cut out a bunch of component pieces, if you will, so I can map out my plan for the back, fronts, sleeves. It’s like a big puzzle!

In other knitting news, I worked on Clap-o-TEE through the weekend, with some extra special love time on Friday (that was my friend’s birthday.) She hates to be reminded of it, so instead of calling her, I knit for her. Works out well, I think. I’ve now dropped 10 stitches, including the really long one that goes to the other corner (you all know what I mean, right?)

It’s amazing how different this yarn looks in sunlight. Trust me – it positively glows.

What else, what else? We did a little more taking back the house, as G likes to call it, by cleaning out our little front closet with 451 gym bags. Now we only have 401 bags. Sentimental value and all. And while we were moving all the TVs around (because the big one in the living room is still broken and probably will be forever, unless the kind Sony people come on Wednesday and tell us that it really will be broken forever and then, I guarantee you, by midnight Wednesday night we’ll have a brand new big TV) we watched this incredible storm roll through. We have windows in every room, big windows, all facing west. We also live in the middle of a swamp, so we get to see these great sunsets, and clouds, and storms. Well the storm came in about 7PM on Saturday and the clouds were amazing – you know how the air smells wet, before it even rains, and the gray light makes everything look clearer? The amazing thing – the sun was still out – far off on the horizon. The rains brought lighting and thunder and wind and all the while the sun was boldly setting. I didn’t get the camera out because I don’t think I would’ve captured it really and besides, I didn’t want to leave the window where Georgie was hugging me and we were watching nature be poetic.

I also read a bunch of The Time Traveler’s Wife. From a craft standpoint, this book has some serious flaws (what’s the conflict, really?) and the author made one of my DREADED description mistakes on p. 175 – a mistake I love berating my students about. Want me to tell you what it is? The author uses a brand name as an adjective – for instance, a character is describing a room and says “It looks like an ad from Pottery Barn.” There’s only one way to describe this people – LAZY! The author is using “pottery barn” as an easy way out of describing the room, because she assumes that her readers will know what this means. Not only is she being lazy, but she’s also damning her book to lose relevance within time. 100 years from now, no one will give a shit about Pottery Barn and an instant room will not pop into their minds so what are they to make of this? USE YOUR IMAGINATION writers! I understand how hard writing is, truly I do, but that’s no excuse. If you’re going to put your blood sweat and tears into this – don’t take short cuts.

Okay. Rant over. Truly, I am enjoying the book. I easily read over a hundred pages in one sitting yesterday – something I haven’t done in a long time. So it’s all good.

Enough already. Back to your day. Thanks for stopping.


Substitute me for him
Substitute my coke for gin
Substitute you for my mum
At least I’ll get my washing done

I’m substituting tonight for a Fiction II workshop, so I’ve got work to do today. But I thought this was the perfect time to do the book meme that Lorette tagged me for a million years ago. (Sorry Lorette! I didn’t forget, I just got stuck in my life!)

Q: You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Fahrenheit 451. A book about the dangers of the sublimation of independent thinking sounds good to me.

Q: Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Oh sure. Robert Jordan. Rabbit Angstrom. The two guys are probably my biggest crushes. I don’t think Rhett Butler counts, as I read GWTW when I was eleven and I didn’t know then what to properly do with imaginary crushes. You can throw Howard Roark in the RB category as well.

Now if you want to talk about author crushes, well, they are legion.

Q: The last book you bought is:

I went on a mini-spree a couple of weeks ago. Borders was having a buy two get one free sale or some such thing so I bought: Pete Dexter’s Train, Sam Lipsyte’s Home Land and The Best American Short Stories: 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore. Then, as I was leaving the store, I found James Salter’s short story collection, Last Night. I LOVE James Salter. Really and truly love him.

Q: The last book you read:

Easter Parade by Richard Yates

Q: What are you currently reading?

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, for K1R2. (Don’t forget to vote!)

Q: Five books you would take to a desert island.

Don Quixote by Cervantes

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

Diary of a Seducer by Kierkegaard

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky

These are the five books that came to mind. Not sure why. Not sure I’d actually take them, but this is what came to me first.

Q: Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Whoever wants it, consider yourself tagged!


First off, for Chelsea, who wants me to post a flower a day for a week. (Okay, not just me, everybody! So join in the fun!) And for Lara.

Next up, we’ve got one you’ll all know. I feel like it should be on Army Warning Posters by now – beware of pretty girls with the Clap!

Alchemy Yarns of Transformation Silk Purse, Sea of Cortez colorway. The color is much darker than I thought it would be, but I still like it. The silk is interesting to work with – very slippery and fuzzier than I thought – also, don’t know if this is something that should be happening or not, but sometimes I find a spot in the yarn where the dye has not penetrated – you can see the white poking through. Normal? I don’t really care, just asking. I’ve dropped three stitches so far and am almost through my second hank of yarn. I started with seven. Used one and change for the increases – I threw an extra repeat in there – and will probably end up going through the rest of the yarn. By the way, thanks Emma for the tip link – very helpful!

New favorite Children’s Book:

Have you seen it yet? Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. Seriously, after reading this 479 times in three days, I actually miss it. It’s a hoot, and the kids get to say their favorite word, over and over and over. NO! (This takes it’s place of honor in my kids’ books bookcase along with Bark, George, Rotten Island, and Duck Is Dirty. Classics all.)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I look at this, I see the Grand Canyon times two:

Pinwheel avec holes.

I’ve been too heartbroken to pick it back up. I promise it will be fixed before I head back to my sister’s – for my niece’s second birthday. (She’s having a Dora party don’t you know. She so freaking cute. She LOVES Dora. She calls Dora Dodo. But if you say to her, is that Dodo? She freaks out. No, Dodo. Dodo? you say. NO, DODO. Poor girl. We’re so mean!)

What’s this?

Maybe something, maybe not, but you’ve got to try, right? We shall see.

Have a great Monday!

Surely You’re Joking! *

Yesterday’s New York Times crossoword. Check out 40 Down.

Thanks so much for all the compliments on Short Rows! It means so much. I’ll be SO proud of this project when it’s finally finished. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ll get there. I’ve given myself a projected deadline of June 5th. I’m thinking if all goes well I’ll wear it to The Secret Garden opening. Hopefully it won’t be too hot! I’m thinking a nice denim skirt? Cross your fingers. I did the first part of the second short row sequence – I figured out that decreases were built into the pattern – but in the end I have one stitch too many. So I’ll be ripping out the short rows – AGAIN. Yes. I’m a glutton for punishment (and apparently, chocolate covered raisins.) And the ends are getting really out of hand – so when I rip it, I’m going to try and weave some in. Hopefully clean things up a little so the wires don’t get crossed so much, so to speak. It’s all good!

Yesterday I did a little shopping, but not before having a fabu lunch with my honey! First I got my hair cut – it looks cute and cleaned up – then met Georgie at a doctor’s appointment he had. While we were waiting for him to be seen, I received a mysterious text message. Georgie says to me – who’s text messaging you? I said I don’t know and wouldn’t you know it, the message read KISS THE PERSON TO YOUR RIGHT. He’s so sweet! I’m SO, so lucky!

After waiting forever, it was off to TAO for lunch. Georgie’s been wanting to take me there, and I have to say, the steak I had was very, very good. The decor was neat as well, but don’t you just hate restaurants that don’t label the bathroom doors with GIRL/BOY, WOMAN/MAN, FEMALE/MALE? These bathrooms said YIN and YANG. There was a man that was behind me and we both just stood there and I said this is so not fair. Finally we both chose – and you guessed it – we chose UNwisely. The male attendant (who for the record, was in the women’s room at first) corrected us. Why? Why is it necessary to be COOL all the time? Anyway. The food was very good.

On the way back I stopped at Borders. I needed to pick up this:

I’ve listened to it about a dozen times all the way through – it’s looped on WINAMP – and for the most part I’m pretty happy with it. For all those people I told it was a cross between Tunnel and TGOTJ – I’m revising that. It’s more like a cross between TGOTJ and Lucky Town. But better on both accounts. Nothing’s going to make me cry, (there are a few like that on The RisingMy City of Ruins never ceases to amaze me) but I did get a few chills listening to Long Time Comin’. The woman’s name is Rosie and it’s clear they’ve been together for a long time. (They have two kids and another on the way.) It’s also clear that mistakes have been made but he stills loves her, wants her very much. This is a theme near and dear to my heart. Georgie and I have been together for fifteen years and are very much in love, still. It’s always nice to have that validated. This song did that for me. Okay. Enough Bruce. If you want to talk about it, let me know. Email me.

I also bought a couple of knitting books:

Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham

Instant Expert: Knitting by Ros Badger

I’m really split on these two. I only bought the Ros Badger because I saw a pattern I liked on Kristine‘s blog (go on over and congratulate her on the new online store!!)

I thought it would be perfect for some Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed I have stashed. Problem is, the book only gives one pattern size and that happens to be ONE SIZE FITS NONE! You know, one of those anorexic sizes – like if you eat an entire carton of chocolate covered raisins and need to purge for the next week and a half (just kidding!) So, if I want to make this sweater to be able to fit my humongous boobs I’m going to have to do some knitty math – and you all know how much I hate THE MATH! We’ll see if I keep the book. It’s kind of disappointing all the way around.

But Loop-d-Loop? This book is gorgeous genius. There’s a million patterns I’d like to make!

Click for bigger pictures!

Of course, my favorite is this:

Are you seeing a trend here? Can you IMAGINE the ends? Someone stop me!

I highly recommend this book – really – it’s very, very well done.

And finally – a stash addition:

It’s 50% Tussah – 50% Merino from Chasing Rainbow Dyeworks in Mary’s colorway. I’ve got 840 yds. I’m thinking my very own Clap. It’s taken a LOOONG time to get here. I bought it on my Boston visit.

Have a great day!

* Surely You’re Joking is a reference to Richard Feynman – I bought his collection of letters yesterday. I’m thinking I’ll read them out loud to Georgie, since he’s the one who introduced me to this phenomenal personality. Check him out if you haven’t already. It’s worth it. Hey Lauren – I also picked up Freakonomics!

World Book Day?

What? No Hallmark Card?

In honor of this austere day (I’m sorry – isn’t every day BOOK day?!?) The Independent asked 100 Literary Lumineries (most of which I’ve never heard of) to name their favorite literary characters. [link from bookslut]

So, I’ll play:

Robert Jordan
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Ernest Hemingway

I’m actually not a big Hemingway fan – but I love this book. First off, starts Chapter 13 (that’s right, run out RIGHT NOW to read it!) – it’s beyond moving and beautiful and there’s a romantic desperateness that can only be born from living in a cave during the Spanish American War. Oh, Robert Jordan, you had me at rabbit.

Speaking of which…

Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom
Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit is Rich; and Rabbit at Rest
John Updike

I spent a summer alternating between loving and hating this guy – not a hard feat at all. But in the end, I was so sad to leave him. I mean, really sad. I missed the fucker like all get out. He’s a bastard to be sure, but you can’t help but feel for the guy as he wanders through the decades.

Melanie Wilkes
Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell

I was eleven when I read Gone With the Wind and it’s stayed with me forever – I am and forever will be a hopeless romantic, so there’s not much more to say except the emotion I felt when I read Melanie had died will stay with me forever. I was sprawled across my parent’s bed one afternoon after school. I remember my friend called to invite me out for a bike ride and I couldn’t understand how she could want to “play” when the sweetest, most understanding, most gentle, most moral human being ever to live was DYING. Dying I say, all because babies were the miracles that make life worth living. Sniff, sniff. Damn that Margaret Mitchell! Oh yeah and I loved Rhett too.

“Carried Away,” Selected Stories
Alice Munro

Okay, so it helps that she’s a librarian and a pathetic one at that, but the way this story winds together is breathtaking. And Louisa, the way she falls for the boy that writes to her from the war, while pathetic, also fits that romantic sensibility I was talking about earlier. And the scene with her and Arthur in the library during the storm, well, it just stabs at your heart like only Alice’s pen can.

That’s all I got right now. I’m sure I could come up with more if I tried. This little exercise was harder than I thought – I realize now that while I attach an emotional response to books I love (or hate, for that matter), I don’t necessarily form an emotional attachment to character – in fact sometimes it’s hard to really remember characters at all. Hmmm. Very interesting. I do remenber all the characters I’ve writen though. They are tattoed on my soul. Maybe because they’re all really me.

Okay. Enough maudlin sentimentality. Don’t forget to wish Wendy a happy birthday today. What a coincidence: The Bookish Girl‘s birthday is World Book Day! Hossana!

And can I just say, that Alison is one popular girl! She linked to me on her blog yesterday and I got twice as many hits! All from her blog. Wow. I guess there was good reason to stalk her…. 😉

Oh and one last thing – thanks for all your feel betters yesterday – they worked. And thanks for all the compliments on my color choices for Short Rows. I’m sorry if I didn’t email you back – something’s weird with MT and I didn’t get the emails. Appreciate it though. 🙂

Thursday is class day, so it’s off to work. They were nice to me this week though – everybody wrote short.