Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and other scary things

The month of October has come to an end. It's Halloween, a holiday celebrated with almost as many parties and candy as Christmas. Halloween these days is quite different from the one I knew as a kid. I remember getting dressed up in simple (mostly) homemade costumes and going door-to-door in the neighborhood Trick-or-Treating. We used pillowcases to collect our candy. Daddy always went with us so that nothing bad would happen. Daddy went trick-or-treating twice as a kid...without parents as was the norm in those days...and both times he got beat up by neighborhood bullies who promptly stole all his candy (OK, so he was a wimp). Daddy wasn't about to let someone do that to his precious darlings :-) We came home, carefully sorted our candy, then negotiated swaps with our siblings to get rid of the stuff we didn't want (black licorice, malted milk balls, peanut butter "kisses") for better stuff (Snickers, Reeses', Butterfingers, etc.). That was pretty much it.

Things have changed. By the time the kids have worn their costumes to Halloween events (Trunk or Treat at Church, Boo at the Zoo, Trick or Treating at the Mall, "Safety City" at the police Dept., area corn maze attractions, plus the local park and school) for at least a week, going Trick or Treating on the 31st is rather anticlimatic. We won't go into details about how much more candy the kids haul in nor the sugar high they've been on all week long. Yikes!!! I call this EXCESSIVE!

While I'm ranting about excessive let me tell you about a shower I was recently invited to. The "invitation" was sent via a website that specializes in sending "e-vites", a rather interesting phenomena that I'm not all that keen on. It seems that the availability of a free internet service (sponsored by retailers that feature registry services for the bride or mother-to-be) for inviting people to showers and other parties is the easiest way ever to invite an enormous number of people to come to an event...and bring presents. Lots of presents! Cutting and pasting lists of email addresses is fast and easy not to mention cheap. I don't recall ever attending a bridal or baby shower where there were 70+ invitees in the days of hand addressed, stamped and post-office mailed printed/engraved invitations. Excessive is easy when it's free and online. At least this most recent e-vite was to a shower being hosted in a private home. Previously I was e-vited to shower held at a cafe where attendees were free to order food and beverages--and pay for it--if they wanted to. I guess I'm Old Fashioned, but I find such things to be terribly rude.

My most recent e-vite was for a baby shower. The honoree is having her 5th child. FIVE! Please RVSP and oh, btw the mom-to-be is registered at Baby R Us :-) OK...I totally get a shower for the 1st child...even the 2nd, but I remember the shower for baby #4 just a few years ago, and now it's #5. Forgive me for thinking that this is a bit excessive, but really???? I mean I like the honoree and all and I have no problems with having 5 children, but puhleeze! Five baby showers is excessive in my book. I have recently learned that many Moms-to-be being feted with showers are requesting gifts of disposable diapers. Add this to my list of things in appallingly bad taste. Why don't we just have a donation drive at church or the office or wherever and everyone bring a couple of boxes of Luvs to contribute so the poor child will have something new to poop on? What happened to offering gifts that are of lasting value, perhaps even sentimental value, or at least something that can be worn more than a few hours before being thrown away? What happened to beautiful blankets, silver spoons, or even crib sheets? When it is baby #5 I'd rather fuss over the mother with lotions, bubble bath, or a giftcard for a manicure than tie a ribbon around a box of wadded padding encased in plastic cartoons that will be in the landfill in a few short weeks.

I don't know, maybe my Old Maid is showing. After all, I've never best the honoree in a shower. No one ever gifted me with a crock pot, toaster, or a package of onesies. If you don't get married or have babies, especially in Mormon social culture, you are essentially overlooked...except to be e-vited along with all the other ladies at church to a shower for a dear woman who is having her fifth child. After careful consideration of the event and the time of day (10AM...yikes!)I politely declined the invitation. Having a chronic illness can be very convenient when you need an excuse to avoid stuff. Mom & Dad are going to be in Alabama that weekend so Mom has an excuse too. I'm not sending a gift either...surely the Mom has plenty of onesies and crib sheets. Heck, she probably has a silver spoon tucked away somewhere too. I doubt I'll be missed. At the very least I won't be at an event trying to gush appropriately while feeling like a hypocrite. If nothing else I am an honest woman.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

It was bound to happen. After all the careful contemplation of patterns, extensive swatching, a fair amount of math, and a sleeve aka lace pattern swatch I felt confident that I had done everything in my power to assure that this time the sweater I am knitting would fit. This one was not going to be wide enough for two persons like my previous attempts, after all, I am a much more experienced knitter now. O know what to do and I did it (that "S" thing).

I cast-on the stated 259 sts and started knitting this all-in-one-without-side-seams cardigan with great confidence. I knew the reverse stockinette stitch edging was supposed to undulate so it would take at least one repeat of the lace pattern before I could pass judgment on size. I chose to use a 60" Addi-Turbo needle so I could do a test "try-on" as I knit. Let's just say it didn't take a full repeat for me to know that once again, this cardigan was way too wide. It should be my motto...Way Too Wide. It was at least 4 inches too wide...possibly more. It was late at night (my best knitting time). I groaned and pitched the thing into a basket and called it a night.

The next morning I re-evaluated the situation. I did a bit more math, then I frogged the whole things and started over knitting one size smaller. The test-sleeve will have to be frogged too since the rate of increases is quite different in the smaller size. SIGH! This will be a beautiful sweater that fits...if it kills me!!!

In a fever of Startitis a couple of weeks ago I also cast-on a triangle shawl that I saw on Ravelry. It was a new pattern by an indie designer, Rebecca Hatcher of Archiknist, called Ariel. It was a simple top-down triangle shawl with one lace motif comprising the body of the shawl -- a style similar to that of my favorite designer Evelyn Clark. In a impulsive moment I purchased and downloaded the shawl. Then I dug out a cone of ColourMart merino laceweight yarn in a delicious pinky-raspberry shade and went to work. First I triple stranded the yarn to create a fingering weight (My ball winder and right shoulder have yet to forgive me for this), then I grabbed a big size 6 needle and cast-on. What a wonderful pattern! What a delicious yarn!! What a yummy shawl this is becoming!!! As of this morning I have ten repeats of Chart B (main chart) completed. I have lots of yarn so I'll knit until the shawl is big enough or until I'm sick of knitting on it. Either way it will be fabulous :-)

I didn't need to cast-on for the Ariel Lace Shawl because I have a backlog of KAL shawl projects that need my attention. But who's looking at the practical facts here? Not me. I also cast-on a brand new Stole from Birgit Freyer's Yahoo Group Knitting-Delight. I really love Birgit's design esthetic. Perhaps it is the German blood in me that bonds us, but she has more great designs that I would love to knit that I can ever imagine having the time for. The awful exchange rate makes it expensive for me to buy many of my favorites, but I do collect her free KAL patterns. When the 1st clue of her new Way of Life Stole was posted, I cast-on the same day using some Knit Picks Gloss Lace Yarn from my stash. This shawl is knit sideways having over 300 cast-on stitches. The pattern has been a geometric lace pattern that is repeated 17 times for the length of the stole. Not very complex really, but amazingly attractive and interesting. I have the 1st 4 clues completed and am anxiously awaiting the release of the 5th clue on Thursday.

All this spontaneity means I haven't finished several WIPS, nor have I written the sock patterns I have promised to do. I feel only slightly guilty. I will try to do better by at least getting the patterns done as folks are waiting on them. The WIPS are only about me, so they don't matter nearly as much. In the meantime, I'm trying to do as much knitting as I can given that my fibromyalgia is in a rage and my right arm fells like someone is trying to yank it out of it's socket. Yeeeouch! (that's a huge understatement). I rested it some on Sunday and Monday by taking time off to read Debbie Macomber's wonderful knitty novel The Shop on Blossom Street. The book was completely delightful and I've started reading the sequel A Good Yarn. If my shoulder won't let me knit then I guess I'll have to settle for reading about knitters. Such is life :-)