Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Middle East Peace

I currently have two musical obsessions. One is the Arab rocker Rachid Taha and his album Tekitoi; the other is the Israeli musician whose band has the somewhat unlikely and all too adorable name "Boten Matok BaKirkas," little peanut at the circus (I think). These are artists with personality and a sense of humor: Taha does an Arabic cover of "Rock the Casbah" (yeah, think about it) and Boten Matok BaKirkas, whom M. I. describes as having spent too much time kicking around India after getting out of the army, does a reggae-style version of an old Hebrew prayer. I love them both. So, the two of them, and all their quirkiness, have become the substance of my first ever playlist. I call it Middle East Peace.

Rachid Taha who is, without a doubt, too sexy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I seem to remember a time when knitting was a soothing, meditative, and exceedingly enjoyable way to pass the time. New projects held all the excitement to be found in selecting just the right color from the rainbow of hues available, and picking just the right texture and weight of yarn by perusing, with eye and hand, the trove of treasures available at my several lys's. Having drooled over the pattern for days, weeks, or months, finally settling in, often with brand new needles, to create the long longed for object brought a soft rush of mingled excitement, satisfaction, and anticipation. The occasional gentle challenges set forth by the new pattern were merely opportunities for learning, and then basking in the satisfying glow earned by figuring out a small mystery and mastering the new technique all on your own.

It was all a horrible fraud, wasn't it, designed to lure an unsuspecting dupe into a nefarious addiction to needle and fiber?! An addiction so deep and inescapable that there's no turning back even when the yarn produces nothing but frustration and ever stronger cravings! There's no fix that satisfies any more. Every taste leaves me strung out and sick. Sick, man!!!

I'm at the same point on the corset. Can you tell? WTF? I do, however, have a new excuse -- I mean theory. The problem is not me, but my schedule. Lately there doesn't seem to be any knitting time but brief snatches on a commute that is broken up among a bus, a subway, and lots of standing around waiting in between. None of this is conducive to finishing a lace pattern that, for whatever reason, stymies my apparently limited brain-to-hand coordination. I must finish something or die. It's that simple. I've got to start something new, as well, cost and time be damned. I'm going to the Cape (avec Monsieur I. - more on that later no doubt) for a couple of days next week. I've got to sort something out before then. If I have to lock myself in the bathroom -- well, ok, maybe the garden -- and ignore cat, computer, crisis-ridden friends, whatever, I WILL find a chunk of time to work out my problems with this miserable torture instrument disguised as a knitting pattern -- I mean this beautiful, lovingly crafted project. As a friend of mine used to say, something's gotta give, and it ain't gonna be me.

She means to be helping:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Remembering Jennie

A couple of posts back, I mentioned having had a difficult week. The real difficulty of that week was the sadness of my parents' having to put their dog, Jennie, to sleep. It was the right thing, and she didn't suffer at all, but none of that makes it any less sad. I never lived with Jennie -- my parents got her as a wee puppy long after my brother and I were both out of the house -- but she was, nonetheless, the family dog.

I know everyone thinks their dog is special, but Jennie truly was an extraordinary animal. Even the vet cried at her passing, and my brave parents, who were both with her and holding her as she left this world, received cards and flowers from neighbors and friends who knew Jennie. People who didn't like or were afraid of dogs cast all that aside and fell in love when they met Jennie. And, no matter how much love we all showered on her (and we did!) it will never come close to approaching the amount of love she gave to each of us.

This is Jennie in an uncharacteristically dignified and ladylike pose. In truth, she was a puppy to the last.

Jennie will be so, so sorely missed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A cactus blooms in Brooklyn ...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Girls' Night In

The better part -- and I use "better" here in every sense -- of Saturday night looked like this:

And boy did we need it. That is, perhaps I shouldn't speak for Eris, but I certainly needed it and, judging by her posture in this and about a dozen other photos I took I'd say Eris was pretty happy about the far-too-unusual circumstances. It's been a rough week -- more on that later -- and I've found myself feeling badly deprived of quiet downtime and time to knit. And the end result of having this blessed knitting time at home? I'm back to the beginning of the hip shaping on the silk corset. Yes, it's deja vu all over again as I tinked back to the point I'd initially re-introduced the silk yarn and started on the lace patterning. Didn't I say something about knitting monogomy when I started this blog? Hah -- that's wearing darn thin. I've already been working on a pair of sexy gauntlets (my own design) from yarn given to me by a fabulous non-knitter friend:

(I wanted to show you a beautiful picture of my enchanting stitch markers, but since I haven't yet worked out how to adjust the focus on the Elph, I having to settle for this way blurry shot of a couple of the stitch markers I've made, these from the 'seaside' theme)

You will notice that this lovely, slate-blue yarn comes on a big fat cone, making it less amenable to travel. So now I'm tempted to start a project that's more travel-friendly! Besides that, I'm even distracted now by a small flurry of sewing patterns, vintage and contemporary, whispering their siren song into my all too receptive ears:

So many projects, so little time. Sigh. This week summer begins, which is always my favorite time of year for sewing, knitting, crocheting and other fiber-related arts; we'll just have to wait and see what the season yields this year.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What fresh hell?

Yesterday Karl Rove was un-indicted in the case concerning Valerie Plame, and today it was reported that the U.S. President "took a sigh of relief" on hearing the news. I, on the other hand, gnashed my teeth in simmering fury at the latest outrage under the current administration. Perhaps I should be more generous, perhaps I should take the higher path and say, "innocent until proven guilty." But alas, now there will be no trial, so I guess we'll never know, will we? That being the case, I will say it certainly seems to be true that Karl Rove was involved in satisfying a small and greedy desire for retribution -- his or someone else's -- over a perceived wrong by making public the identity of a CIA operative, thereby putting her and her family at great risk and effectively ending her undercover career. Say what you will about the CIA, certainly plenty could be said, but operatives put their life on the line when they take on their job. Not just while they're working, but always and forever, since enemies who see an operative as a threat are not going to hesitate to do them -- or their families, for that matter -- harm just because they're not currently on the job. Enemies who want revenge for something the operative did while they were working are not going to step back from the brink because the operative isn't working at the moment. What's more, the agents who do this are working for the government. So, for a government official to expose them unnecessarily to risk of personal harm -- outrage does not begin to describe it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Knitting? What knitting?

Knitting progress? I got nothin'. So I've distracted myself with taking pictures of the poppies I have in my backyard. They make me so happy!

Can't go wrong with pictures of flowers, right?

I do, however, have a knitting dilemma. My version of the Annie Modesitt silk corset has, in my imagination at least, a lovely, gradual fading of plain ecru cotton into pale desert colored silk in the lace pattern at the bottom. Something that creates the effect of a dip-dyed fabric or, better yet, silk saturated by the incoming waves of some gentle, magical, multi-hued sea that follows vaguely along with the up-and-down pattern of the lace. Doing this, however, means obscuring the lace pattern with all the yarns I'm carrying over in the back. (I know, I know, had I thought this through I would have realized that. But my imagination is much better at the magical than the practical). What to do, what to do? So far, I'm going ahead with the plan, but hastening the graduation of cotton to silk. And if it doesn't work? I've already knit, unknit and re-knit this pattern so many times. What's one more round? Pass the cocktails ...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Je suis fou

Last week, I did something that completely defies my already crumbling facade of sanity. I purchased a knitting magazine. What, you ask, could possibly be crazy about a knitter buying a knitting magazine? Allow me to explain ...

I'm making every effort at the moment to transition my life out of ho-hum money making in stupid jobs to really great money making in ways that I can feel good about (acting, voice overs, audiobooks...). At the same time, life seems to be making every effort to get me to go completely broke before I succeed in making any real change. So I really don't have the extra money to spend on knitting patterns, let alone the yarn to knit them up.

This endeavor to change my life has also left me critically short on time. That is, with little or no time to finish the projects I'm already knitting, start any of the mountain of other project ideas I have lurking around, or least of all start a completely new project from a completely new source.

Finally, this is a Phildar pattern. As such, it is written completely in French. I don't speak French. I know exactly one knitting term in French: tricoter. You think that's gonna get me through this rather intricate looking pattern? Now, there is a boy in the picture. Let's call him Monsieur I. M. I is fluent in French. However, as I have just learned, he is fluent in speaking and listening to French -- not reading it! Anyway, as wonderfully diverse as M. I's intelligence and interests are -- and they are!!! -- I hardly think he'd recognize a lot of French knitting terms, spoken or otherwise.

But, you see, there was this scarf on Yarnageddon's blog, and, well, you've probably seen it, and I just had to, didn't I?

Having plonked down my seven point something euros, I waited breathlessly for the catalog to arrive. And arrive it did!

In a plain brown wrapper -- how apropos.

While awaiting this much anticipated arrival, I'd looked up any Phildar references I could find and learned that their patterns are noted for being quite clear, with wonderful charts and measurements for everything. Great! There might be hope!! After ripping off the plain brown wrapper, I found this:

Great charts, yes, but with the terms (duh!) in French. I've scoured the web for translations of yarn-related French, and I don't want to be hasty but it's looking like "bride," a pretty common term in this pattern, is actually a term in crochet.

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