Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January: The New March

Why, you ask?  Because it came in like a Lion and is apparently going out like a Lamb!  If I'm reading the news correctly, it's supposed to be in the sixties today?  Really?  In Chicago?

I'm not really a fan of that in the middle of the winter, since changing weather seems to make germs breed like crazy and everybody gets sick, but whatever.  I can't complain.

Here is your newest edition of Knit Tips Tuesday, about cables:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/knit-tips-tuesday-cables

I can hear all of the snickering from Katy.  See, I prefer to use a cable needle.  I dont'  know if I necessarily NEED to use one, but I prefer it.  I'm more of a death-grip knitter and the last thing I need to do is rip out cable stitches just by sliding them off of the needle.  But the women of Katy know that the best way to shut me up is to have me work on a cable pattern.  I tend to put the cable needle in my mouth and then I can't talk during that row.  I'm a great listener, however.

Today, I have to take photos of the February Scarf Pattern of the Month Series piece.  Tiny E, my test-knitter, finished it over two weeks ago but she doesn't want me photographing her test-knits, thereby forcing me to knit them for myself, anyway.  They do, however, hang in her store, so I have that going for me.  I will drop just a teeny hint about February's scarf...I used Loretta's "nose to thumb" method to measure the red sections.

Tonight, I'm going to Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro for the inaugural meeting of the Bistro Knitters...I am guessing it will be more of a meat-eating event than a vegan event, but whatever.  It's knitting and I can always get french fries.  Here's the article I wrote on it...tell your Chicago friends to join us, whether or not they knit, because the food alone is worth it:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/mrs-murphy-sons-irish-bistro-is-host-to-the-first-meeting-of-bistro-knitters

Then...and I haven't decided yet about March...it's time to bust out the lace.  I feel some Filatura di Crosa Superior in my future.  And after whipping through most of the back of that Rowan sweater I was making, of course I haven't touched it since then.  I have a problem.  Well, several.

In other news, mom, the husband, and I saw "One For The Money" the other night.  If you read the Janet Evanovich books, you will like it...it sticks very closely with the book.  Sherri Shepherd was perfect as Lula also...she alone is worth the price of admission.  Have a good day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

There Is A Dog Under My Laptop

It's my first non-holiday Sunday off, and I don't know what to do with myself.  So far, it has to do with knitting, the husband, and a dog being used as a lap desk.  Don't believe me?


So yeah.  I'm trying to concentrate, but it won't be easy.  My laptop keeps rising and falling with the breath of the killer pit bull.

But I have a plan...the next Scarf Pattern of the Month, quite obviously, gets released on Wednesday, February 1.  I have my laptop to finish putting the pattern together (with pictures, charts, and silly comments), and I think I'm pretty well done with the next pattern also.  Because of the one I started at the beginning of the month but switched to the "new" February one, this actually puts me ONE MONTH AHEAD.  Look at that, ladies and gentlemen...my plan is falling into place...

But there is still the matter of the dog.  If Bluto doesn't wake up and sleep somewhere else, I'll have a hard time taking advantage of the fact that I have opposable thumbs.  If I get up, he'll probably just follow me, and if not, it will still take me an hour to get that useless cute weight off of my legs.  I'm swamped.

Either way, I'm excited about the coming week.  I have a knitting event to cover, a new Knit Tips Tuesday to publish on...well...Tuesday, and just a lot of happy and yarny stuff.  Oh, and I think I'll use the rest of my Lion Brand Fisherman's wool to make a kitty bed for Axl...his tent is okay, but it's not made with love.  Axl should have something made with love.  That, and I really want to felt something...

And on a completely separate note, I know that retail isn't exactly a glamorous profession, but what a lot of people fail to realize (I think) is that there is a lot of strategic capitalism involved in my job.  In other words, the combo of being nice, getting the best out of my people, and making the most profitable products look appealing is what makes retail companies money.  I'm practicing, and I hope I'm succeeding.  No, I'm not a door-greeter.  Please stop making fun of my job because I do NOT just look for a bouncy smiley-face and watch my double-digit IQ go down the tubes.  I think my measurement of success will be the day I can stop defending my career path and my employer.  There...I feel better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Post Shall Be Titled "Titled"

So here we are, with another day off come and gone and a lot to have been accomplished.  Looking back, the problem is two-fold:

1.  My expectations are too high
2.  I'm sick and I NEVER get sick

So now I'm cranked out, and instead of GETTING a lot done I'm THINKING ABOUT getting a lot done.  Yes, it's half the battle, but it's the wrong half.

My doctor did, in fact, see me two hours early yesterday.  So I have that going for me.  When I was in the exam room, I asked the nurse, "Am I allowed to pull out my wool yarn in this sterile room?"  She said yes, as long as I didn't put it on the instrument table.  Well, I saw what was on the instrument table.  I also know she placed those items on said table before I entered the room, and I assure you that there are certain places where I would not want stray bits of wool, either.

Then, I finished another foot of the next test-knit and what makes me pissy is that my other test-knitter actually finished it before I did.  That, my friends, is not right.  I should know any mistakes before she does...she should just knit it and tell me (by then) if it's easy to read, and I should have worked out all of the math mistakes.  Apparently, there were none at least, and the only feedback I got was to change the odd and even numbered rows because the first row should have been the last row.  I did.  She knitted a swatch (yes, she's THAT far ahead of me...I'm doing the version before this change) and said to leave it like it was. 

Anyway, with the other pattern all I have left to do is the math.  For most people, it's the hardest part.  For me, the deciding is the hardest part.  So I'm sailing along on that front.

Here is your weekly dose of Knit Tips Tuesday...it's all about the short row, and it's the third in a series of shaping posts:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/knit-tips-tuesday-short-rows

Today, I see green tea and yarn in my future.  Why do anything home-related when I can go outside, get cozy, and just knit all day?  Tomorrow is the domestic day anyway...if I don't do laundry, I will be forced to show up at work in camoflauge shorts and an Oscar the Grouch tee shirt.  While I did buy the tee shirt at Walmart several years ago, I just don't think it's dress-code compatible.  Have a good day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Post Shall Be Called "Untitled"

Good morning, everyone...I have to take a field trip to a doctor today (actually not because I can't shake this cold-and-flu thing I have, but for something else), and then I have to go to my tenant's place on Ogden because...and I quote..."the thermostat face plate has a mind of its own."  After further probing, I gathered that either the unit needs a new battery and the tenant is too afraid to take off the face plate, or it's possesses and something needs to be exorcised from there anyway.

More on that later.  Like, in July or so.

Anyway, now that my schedule is stable, I'm looking at actually, you know, getting things done on my days off.  That was, of course, before asking a plumber to root my pipes and seven thousand dollars later getting everything replaced under the house.  So since I'd never ask anyone for money, but everyone says, "Let me know what I can do to help," here's what you can do:

1.  Tell people to read my column.  I get paid by the click and I don't care if they know about knitting or not...examiner.com has MANY other topics to explore after mine.
2.  Tell people to buy my patterns.  Yes, I know this one is more of a longshot.
3.  Tell people to shop at the Walmart in Villa Park, Illinois.

See?  Other than the buying knitting patterns and reading examiner.com articles and driving to a specific Walmart instead of going to the one closest to your house, these are things you are already doing!

That said, I plan on being a knitting and pattern-writing fiend today.  Here's why.  The next scarf I'm designing is a bit complicated, and as I was putting the finishing touches on the pencil-and-graph paper version yesterday, I realized something.  I ran out of little squares.  This means I can do nothing but bust out the Excel spreadsheet, otherwise known as "the place with an infinite number of squares.  So for those of you who subscribe to my pattern series, count the number of stitches on graph paper from top to bottom, and know that one scarf will have more stitches than that.  But to be fair, just BARELY.

I might leave for the doctor's office early so I can sit there and abuse his free wi-fi.  Then, I also get a better chance of getting in early...I'm his last appointment of the day, so lord knows how late the appointment will actually be.

Last night, I was at work until 11pm.  Teeny Jesus busted out to hang on the dashboard and keep me safe on the drive home, I think.  It's also possible that he was being a diva and was offended that I was taking his photo so late in the day, I don't know.  But here he is...sometimes I like to be downright artsy when it comes to Teeny Jesus:


Also, here is the January pattern for the scarf series...they are made available to non-subscribers on the 20th of every month:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/91063040/keystone-scarf-knitting-pattern

See you tomorrow, when another episode of Knit Tips Tuesday hits the airwaves!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick n Quick

Okay...just an insight as to what goes through my mind.

Last year I bought a Rowan pattern book called Arabesque.  All...ALL!...of the patterns in it are fabulous.  I mean it.  There isn't a single one that I think would be a waste of yarn.  That said, however, I made one sweater from the book so far, and I made it with Louisa Harding and had to do math to convert the pattern to a different weight.  I don't want to do that again.

Here's where the fun begins.  The next one I want to make is this little open-neck pullover called Lillith.  Here is the photo of it, so you have an idea:  http://theknittinggarden.com/patterns/arabesque/lillith.htm

I want to make it out of a solid color that I can wear to work (which means any shade of grey, Columbia blue, black, white, or something along those lines).  The yarn it originally called for is discontinued, and after popping my head into four different local yarn stores in the last week, I have yet to find it.  Actually, correction:  I did find it, but I only found four balls at the most of one color, and the pattern calls for twelve balls.  I figure even without striping it, I'll probably need eight of the same quantity of one color.  So there's that.  I asked one of the ladies in one of the yarn stores, who shall remain nameless due to the fact that I didn't GET her name.  I also won't give up the name of the yarn store, due to the fact that this wasn't the owner and her employee deserves the benefit of the doubt...she may be too new to have known better.

"Do you have something similar to this?"  I point to the picture oft the sweater in the book.
"Yes we do!  Here..."  She walks me to a display of thick-and-thin yarns, none of which were even in solid colors.  "See, you could just use this and it stripes itself."
I held up the skein and un-skeined it to show her how it was dyed.  "Actually, this yarn won't stripe...see how it looks like it's just dipped one four-inch section at a time?  That's as long as the colors go...you get one or two stitches per color before it moves on to the next color."
"Ooh...you're right!"  Her lightbulb goes on.  "How about this?"  She brought me to an aran-weight yarn that was self-striping.  Okay...I'm on my own.
"Thanks...this is gorgeous but I think I'll just look around."  I do know the owner of the store...she'll be getting a professional non-complaint-but-necessary-FYI phone call today.  Anyway, I didn't find anything similar to what I was looking for in a solid color.

Then, I was in Michael's Arts and Crafts because they are having their dollar days this week.  Not only that, but one of the stores near me is moving, so a bunch of stuff is on extra-deep discount!  So I was on a mission to find this book I saw about six months ago, that I can't remember the name of but it has a lhasa apso in a red and white sweater on the cover, and I walked out with six balls of dark gray Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick n Quick.  I still didn't find that damn book, but if I DO find it before Saturday at Michael's, I think it will be marked down.

Anyway, after going to four yarn stores and looking for a discontinued yarn, I started thinking about the sweater and how it's very dress-code, but not very ME.  I went through my mental filofax of my stash, and I realized that I have almost zero bulky yarns in a quantity more than maybe a hat, or one and a half gloves.  If I am going to make a work sweater, I was either going to have to buy this yarn on the internet, keep looking, or just...you know...make it out of Lion Brand first, because the problem is actually that I'm on the fence about the pattern and not the yarn.  I just wished I had thought of this before popping into the local yarn stores to look for the yarn in the first place.

I use Rowan all the time.  I love it.  Love it love it love it.  After making the basketweave shrug for Yarntopia in Katy, I still dream about the alpaca chunky.  But that yarn isn't as common here as I would have thought, unless I just happened to pick the wrong four yarn stores last week (not that it was too much of a choice...they were the ones closest to where I was going at the time).

I would also, regardless of the type of yarn, rather give my money to a local yarn store over giving it to Michael's Arts and Crafts.  I tried, actually.  But I encountered three disappointments and a very amusing conversation about a yarn that striped itself, even though that's not what I wanted.

The reason I went with Option "C" is because I spent about 66% less on the yarn than I would if I bought the original, discontinued yarn online, and if it turns out that this isn't a flattering sweater for me, I won't feel like I've taken precious yarn and ruined it.  I knit a bunch of my pattern samples out of Lion Brand, and the reason I love it so much for that is because I can always, always find it again in person if I need to.  No, it's not Rowan, but it certainly holds up and does the job, especially if I am going to be groped by cranky humans who had to wait too long in line at work.

And if it looks horrible on me, that's okay.  Someone will wear it.

My boss wears St. John almost every day.  She worked in an industry where getting $600 suit pieces (not the entire suit, mind you, but each piece) was easy to do by not paying nearly what the retail cost would be.  She looks fabulous every day.  With Rowan Little Big Wool being discontinued, if I could find it at 80% off I would probably buy enough to make this sweater, even though I fear it will make my shoulders look like I played professional volleyball for years.  But I can't find it at 80% off...I can just find a yarn that costs the same as what it WOULD be at 80% off, and if I make it and like it, then I'll pay whatever it takes to get the yarn I want.

Bottom line is that I need my brain to take a specific course of action, and go for it.  It doesn't.  I am blaming the new coffee maker.

On another note, the February scarf from the Scarf Pattern of the Month series is downright silly and obnoxious.  Not quite Phyllis-Diller-Obnoxious, but still.  I'm looking forward to sharing it.  Have a good day...I have a lot to do but I'm hoping to start on the front of this sweater with yarn that is true to it's name:  it's both thick, AND quick.  Yay!

I knit up the back in a day.  So far, so good, even gauge-wise.  So I'll hopefully know within the week if I should go on a mission to find LYS yarns to make this sweater again and again...the moment I pull it on, I'll know.  It takes me no time at all to make a decision about clothing; I purchased my wedding dress in ten minutes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yet Another Knit Tips Tuesday Goes By...

Good morning!  It feels like every other Tuesday, really...I wake up, let the dogs out, feed them, the husband scampers off to work, and then I spend the morning writing knit tips and watching Penny and Bluto cry at each other when one of them won't share a bone with the other one.

Anyway, here is today's Knit Tips Tuesday...the subject is decreasing:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/knit-tips-tuesday-decreases

I just feel so blah today...bought a new coffee maker from my fabulous employer (and of course got my 10% discount, just in case I didn't save ENOUGH money so I could live better), and now there is no room in the kitchen to make coffee.  Rather, I don't feel like making the room in the kitchen to bust out the coffee maker and make coffee.  I'm THAT lazy.  But I've had bad dreams all weekend, so the grogginess factor won't dissipate.

Either way, I spent my three lunch breaks finishing this ridiculous lace pattern I wanted to try, and I only have one more panel to go (seasoned knitters who know what I mean by that sentence just cringed and said to themselves, "One MORE?  How many are there to begin with?")  Don't be scared, dear knitters...it has a way to start, a repeated middle, and a way to end.  It's not that bad.  But now I have to try and knit it before passing it off to my lovely test-knitter, and the question is, do i use some cheapo stuff I can get at the five-and-dime so I can just toss it if it doesn't work, or should I suck it up and use the good stuff and call it an investment-slash-learning-experience if I have to go back to the drawing board and waste five hundred yards of gorgeous?

I'm inclined to consider the latter.  If it DOES work, it will still be five hundred yards of gorgeous.  If it doesn't, I know where to get more gorgeous.  It all works out.

Screw it.  I'll get out of the jammy pants and dress like a grownup and head into the wild gray yonder.  Too many ideas, and not enough time to get to them all.  I guess the same could be said for yarn, but it's never stopped me from buying more of it.

My friend Michelle gave me a project bag that has holes in it for pulling through your yarn.  This means I can do the one pattern I've been contemplating for three months now and now worry about the colors getting tangled!  Yay!  Not that I mind getting out knots in yarn...ask anyone who has knitted next to me who does NOT like getting out their tangles, and they will all tell you I have offered to de-tangle them.  It's a lefty thing...pick apart the puzzle so it makes sense as to how it got that way, as opposed to build the puzzle to prove the end result.

Some photos to share...the first one is proof that not all pit bulls are killers.  Or gifted, for that matter.  I think Penny and Bluto are trying to grasp the concept of "chair built for one" by testing and failing on their perspective of the size of the chair (Bluto is lying behind my back with his head cocked over my shoulder, and Penny tried to squeeze her little muscular butt between my leg and the arm of the chair):


And finally, the husband needed some spiritual guidance.  I thought that Teeny Jesus was the right man for the job, so I placed him on Guille's head while he was doing the dishes.  The dishes, at least, were more enlightened because of it:

Have a good week, everyone!  Thanks to Alex, I will be writing about a knitting-and-foodie event at a bistro in North Center, near Lincoln Avenue and Irving Park Road coming up at the end of the month.  AND...since I'm not working that day, I can actually attend the event!  Score!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Snowing!

So, here's the thing.  I'm a knitter...I should have wooly items all over the freaking place for days when it snows.  Today is the first major snowfall of the season, and I'm sitting here wondering where my gloves (WITH fingers, I'm talking) are, where a hat is...I know they are somewhere, but I might just have to buy some super-bulky yarn and make something and be done with it.

Anyway, if you're in Chicago or you live near a big-box retailer and need big-box yarn, here is a roundup of where to get a discount on it this week:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/area-local-yarn-purveyors-are-spring-cleaning-by-holding-clearance-sales

I, of course, am a much bigger fan of local yarn shops.  I used to own a small business, the yarns are beautiful and unique and it's stuff you couldn't get at a big-box retailer.  However, I do think big-box yarns have their purpose...I will test-knit new patterns on big-box yarn, and if I'm making something that I know will be totally abused, I might be more inclined to make it out of something that doesn't cost as much money (the tradeoff is that it doesn't FEEL as nice, but if it's a table runner and I live with two pit bulls who spill my coffee for me, this is a consideration).

I'm fighting with all I have to not buy more yarn...ha ha ha.  But I'm a foot into one sample, and the pattern for the other one is this ridiculous and complicated math algorhythm that's throwing me off.  Wait...I don't think I spelled that right...anyway, it's a lace pattern and the number of stitches is changing on a few rows, and I just don't have the bandwidth for it at the moment.

So maybe, just maybe, I should start another one of the samples...

STOP ME!  I'M ADDICTED!

Anyway, the snow is coming down so of course I have to think about knitting.  Wool and snow just sort of go together.  Teeny Jesus even got into the action, enjoying the falling snow from the top of the grill in the backyard:

Time to clean and get my yarn on!  Thanks as always for your support...be sure to shop your Local Yarn Shop and tell them how much you appreciate their expertise.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Ahead

Good morning, everyone...and here is your blog entry for the day.

First, here is Knit Tips Tuesday...this one is sort of a three-part series on shaping.  Today will be increases, next Tuesday will be decreases, and the week after that will be short-rows.

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/knit-tips-tuesday-increases

I took the dogs for a walk this morning, and now I have to get my yarn on before doing some crafty math to solve the world's financial problems.  The good news is that the world's financial problems are actually higher on the list than solving the reason why Patrick Kane is playing like he has his head up his ass...I love him and think he's awesome, but when he's slumping the entire Chicago Blackhawks team suffers.

In case anyone cares.

I think I'm going to start the next sample for the Scarf Pattern of the Month series today, since I'm far enough into next month's sample where I know that the test-knit is working.  I mean seriously...if, between me and the test-knitter (who will most likely always remain nameless...she has asked for me to not mention her name because she doesn't want people to start asking her to test-knit for her), we haven't found any major foul-ups in the pattern, that's a good sign.  I'm incredibly anal-retentive on stuff like that.

Scratch that...I hate that phrase.  I'm tightly wound.  If it's not a right angle, it's a WRONG angle.

Anyway, I was thinking of going ahead and test-knitting the next one, since I have unpacked about 35% of my yarn so I feel like I've already accomplished something this week.  This seems like a reasonable reward, and it DOES fall in the category of "Get ahead in 2012!" in my book.  Now the real question is, do I use the Tahki Stacy Charles Luna, or the Filatura di Crosa Superior?  I think the pattern would be gorgeous in either one.

Well, Teeny Jesus may have to make an appearance at a yarn store, with decisions like this to make.  Don't get me wrong...I'm still not buying yarn, but dammit Teeny Jesus may need to learn how to knit.  Yesterday, I put him in my prescription bottle so people could have the perspective of just how teeny this Teeny Jesus IS:


I've already taken the dogs for a walk, wrote my column, and now I'm going to make my tea and REALLY start my day.  Bring on the yarn!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Pit Bulls and some Pergo

So, tonight, I did something I haven't been able to do since I've been back in Chicago...I went to a Thursday-night knitting group.

The yarn store is great...it's called the Woolly Lamb Yarn Studio, and it's owned by this fabulous woman named Bridgette.  She carries a lot of Berroco and Bergere de France, so I can pretty much find anything in any weight I would like.  She was also showing Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance" video to one of the ladies as I was leaving...perfect. 

The knitting was fine as well...I've been working on this purple scarf all day, the pattern is mathematically-correct, and it's knitting up nicely.  Well...it will block nicely anyway...the yarn is merino wool and silk, so it will probably come out heavenly if I do it right.  I'll probably need a third skein of the yarn, though, and I purchased it in Katy.  A phone call may be heading that way.

Anyway, I realized something.  My stepmom and I have talked about this in the past...here I am, 36 years old (I'll be 36 1/2 next Thursday, of course), and I'm in the city where I always come back and end up.  I have a solid network here already, I have roots, favorite places, rituals, and all that stuff.  Yet here I am, walking into a room with probably eighteen women who have known each other for ages, and I feel slightly intimidated because I have no guarantees that these people will have any desire to get to know me.  The bottom line is, I'm no more interesting than the person next to me, and it is VERY difficult to make friends as you get older.

The good news is that the person next to me is someone I almost find very interesting.

So the yarn store is set up where there are three main places to sit, and I met two sisters and one of their cousins:  Noreen, Mary Pat, and Kelly.  I probably should have brought a garter-stitch project so I could do more talking and listening, but c'est la vie...it was still a very nice chat, and I hope to run into these women at a future date.

I actually spent the first half of my day at Knot Just Knits in Oak Park, hanging out with Sue and Katie and just laughing my tooshie off for a few hours.  I think these women are easier to get to know, not because of who they are, but because the crowd is smaller.  Open Knit Night is a heck of a way to meet people, but there is a sort of underlying fear that there will be one clique and you won't belong in it.  I did not experience that at all, thank goodness.

For the past two days, I have accomplished more than I have the previous three weeks I've been home.  I feel a turning tide, in a good way.  As much as I still miss my women in Katy, I feel hope that I'll have new women here to miss the next time I up and get married and move to a different state (this doesn't figure to happen in the near future, since Bert seems to be in good health and doesn't appear to want to secretly pack up his stuff and leave, but you can never be too prepared for spontaneity).

At least I will always have a piece of Katy with me throughout this year...here is Teeny Jesus swimming in the coffee creamers at 7-Eleven.  I mentioned it was his maiden voyage, but of course Alex pointed out that since he's all-knowing and all-present, it wasn't his first 7-Eleven coffee:


To follow the Teeny Jesus Photo Gallery day-by-day, you're welcome to friend-request me on facebook...my profile picture is me wearing a white headband.  I am posting a new Teeny Jesus photo a day there, and I'll take your word for it that this is why you want to be friends with me...ha ha ha.

Also, to follow the knitting endeavors, search for The Fiber Friend and "like" the page...that photo is me in Mary's Anti-Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell rainbow hat, made with Kauni.  I'd love to hear from you.

If we are "actual" friends, then thank you for being with me through my life.  Much appreciated!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Teeny Jesus Phenomenon

Good evening!  I know I usually don't write this late...heck, I'm not even normally up this late...but I didn't get home from work until after my bedtime.  This is why I decided to post my free knitter's pin pattern as a Knit Tips Tuesday:

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/knit-tips-tuesday-a-project-for-ten-yards-of-yarn

Anyway, I'm having too much fun with the Teeny Jesus project.  If you missed yesterday's photo, here he is posing with the girl who took my toll at the Elgin Toll Plaza:


See, I've been training in a store that's about 35 miles from my house, and while that commute wasn't a big deal in Texas, it's freaking brutal in Chicago.  It's okay, though...it's only temporary.

I started knitting another scarf sample for the Scarf Pattern of the Month series, and the guy at Subway was fascinated.  I actually think he liked the color of the yarn way better than the actual knitting, but whatever...I can attract a weirdo wherever I go, so at least if I'm doing it with knitting needles in my hand, I'm protected.

And true to my word, I am doing my best to get ahead.  Now, it's only been three days into the new year, but I'm already more ahead than I normally am on my New Year's Resolutions.  Stay tuned tomorrow, for an article centered solely on what knitters are resolving to do in 2012.  I am going to try and get everything ELSE done tomorrow, so I can knit like a non-stop nutcase on Thursday and Friday.  See?  I'm getting ahead!

Not only that, but I'm hoping to write out all...ALL...of the patterns by the end of the month so they can be test-knitted.  Ambitious, I know, but I have another project up my sleeve and I want to get to it as soon as possible.  That, and I have a lot of worsted-weight yarn and want to start plowing through other weights, like super-chunky.  I need a quick knit, and it's January!  I could wear what I make right away!

Good night...here is Teeny Jesus monitoring the boss' computer:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for 2012

Good evening, everyone...my January Scarf Pattern of the Month was emailed out to the subscribers (it's not too late if you want to join us by purchasing at this link), lunch at Leona's involved Bert and Alex and I submitting our names for the dead-pool, and I'm tired.  Already!  It's too early in the year to be tired.

Well, one of my resolutions involves a story.  Two, actually.  Well, three.  But they all tie together.  And let me start by saying that I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone.  The story involves Jesus, so here you go...some of you have heard this story, but it bears repeating.

First, my dad had a sister named Aunt Starlene (my dad is the past tense, not Starlene), and she is the family crier.  As everyone has a purpose on this planet, I'm sure hers is to tell stories about things like hotel towels in as great of detail as possible in an effort to build the character of the listeners. At Uncle Walt's funeral, I was standing next to my brother Mike and my Uncle George when we caught the eye of my father, standing in a corner and facing us.  Aunt Starlene was standing opposite him, basically trapping him in the corner of the room with some story, probably something having to do with Starlene's newly-granted use of e-mail through Avon Cosmetics (yes, in addition to being the family crier, Aunt Starlene is an Avon lady). The three of us laughed loud enough for Dad to hear, so he...and I am sure it was just a coincidence...started to scratch his head with his middle finger.

So anyway, Aunt Starlene gave my mother and father a wedding gift back on July 23, 1966. It was a life-size Infant Jesus of Prague doll, very hip and trendy for the times.  Aunt Starlene has a nativity scene in HER front yard, so this was a completely appropriate gift coming from her.  Problem was, well, it was a life-size Baby Jesus too large and tacky to display in the house without hiring models to re-enact the birth-in-a-manger scene right there in the living room.

When Mom and Dad split up in January of 1982, Mom got custody of the kids, including Baby Jesus, despite the fact that it was a gift from Dad's sister.  It was not as well-taken-care-of as the three of us, but it was given shelter if not so much love.  Mom still has it in a box in her closet, forty-five years later, because you cannot just throw out Baby Jesus.

Fast-forward to 1992, when my grandmother died. Mom was at her parents' house, cleaning out rooms and
preparing the house to sell so Grandpa could move into a smaller "retirement community" (which is French for "condo for old widows who like playing Bingo"). There were garbage bags, avocado-colored Tupperware bowls, junior-high-school yearbooks...My mom has one sister, so there were really only two people involved in the dissemination of the house besides its owner, and Grandpa pretty much was not into saving the Woman Artifacts, such as cookware. Somehow or other, though, the Baby Jesus that belonged to my grandmother was discovered.

And somehow or other, my mother got custody of that one as well.

So now here she is, with a 45-year-old Baby Jesus and a 70-year-old Baby Jesus, in separate boxes (after
all, Michael Jackson has taught us about bunking with boys twenty-five years our junior) in her closet.  Now, I have two brothers ahead of me, and for years it has been the family joke that when my mom is incapacitated, I will be the one taking care of her because my brothers would just lock her up in a nursing home somewhere. After my mother started using Baby Jesus One and Baby Jesus Two as blackmail,
however, I am considering the same alternative.

About ten or eleven years ago, mom started to joke that she was going to leave me both Baby Jesus dolls when she died.  Sure enough, neither of us can even utter the word "Jesus" without it turning into a threat of
me receiving those things when the broad keels over.

During Easter brunch ten years ago, the Baby Jesus discussion turned downright ugly. Actually, it was not as ugly as the previous Easter when the hoof-and-mouth disease scare was occurring in England, and I added red sprinkles to the feet and mouth of Mom's lamb cake. But I digress. Anyway, on Easter of 2002 we rehashed the entire Baby Jesus issue for the family to join in the debate. Of course it started with Mom saying, "Just remember, when I die, you get both Baby Jesus dolls."

We all talked about the fact that throwing out Baby Jesus was not an option, since you would obviously go
straight to hell for commiting such a blasphemous act.  Sue suggested donating them to a church. "No," said
Mom. "They are heirlooms. I am leaving them for Amy to deal with."

See? Just like Ophelia, I was destined for tragedy.

"Why don't you sell them on eBay?" I offered. The table was aroar with the idea that if one could not THROW OUT Baby Jesus, one could certainly not SELL OUT on Baby Jesus, either. I thought that at least this way, Baby Jesus One and Baby Jesus Two would go to good homes with parents who loved and took care of them. Sure, you run the risk of psychological damage and the inevitable consequences (teenage pregnancy, runaways, and drug use) if they get separated, but it would be worth it in the end. I was shot down.

Finally, Mom just told me to deal with the fact that I was going to get these dolls when she died, so I said,
"Fine. I will just put them in your coffin with you, and you will be buried with them." One in the crook of each arm. No one would have the cajones to remove Baby Jesus from someone's coffin, and then my mother
would be assured of going straight to Heaven.

Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my brother Steve's head. "Mom? Wait a minute...you will not throw out
Baby Jesus, you will not sell out on Baby Jesus, but re-gifting Baby Jesus is okay with you?"


So that's where we are with THAT.  Then, during Christmas season in 2006, PJ and I were driving back from O'Hare airport, when we actually pulled over on Foster Avenue to take in a sight neither of us would have repeated if we didn't have each other as witnesses.  We saw a manger scene in a front yard of a home that was arranged, from left to right, as follows:

Wise Men
Joseph
Jesus (in the manger, of course)
Mary
Santa
Snowman with red and green scarf
Lambs
Goats

Even better than that, we thought, was the fact that there was a grown-up Jesus statue in what appeared to be a white phone booth, back-lit like a diva, to the far left of the manger scene.  We thought that perhaps, in their effort to combine the two traditions of Christmas, they were showing what a miracle it was that a snow man could survive in the desert for the birth of Jesus.
I was telling these two stories to Sheryl, one of the owners of Yarntopia in Katy, and this was the second straw which caused her to give me an unforgettable goodbye gift.  The first, I'm told be her, was the fact that when I first walked into her store, there were no customers besides me and I was on the phone with PJ at the time.  When I hung up, I told Sheryl I had just moved to Texas and that everyone down there just LOOOOVES Jesus.  That stuck in her mind, along with me spinning in like the Tazmanian Devil and spinning back out just as quickly, leaving her in that state where she didn't know if she should laugh or cry.

Her parting gift to me, since I will have to wait for my mother to die for my "heirlooms," was the teeniest Baby Jesus you've ever seen, plucked right from her own personal home manger scene.  I told you that story to tell you this one.

My minor resolutions all involve eating better, getting settled, getting ahead...the usual stuff.  But I decided I need a project.  I am going to start the Teeny Jesus Project, and I will attempt to take a photo of Teeny Jesus every day of 2012.  It will be similar to the Flat Stanley project that third-graders complete.  And again, I mean no disrespect whatsoever...please don't be offended, as I have a very high respect for the religious beliefs of others and I myself cantored at a Catholic church for a long time, so I get the importance of Jesus and the perceived disrespect this project might show.  I will go ahead, go on record, and say that I love Jesus...but I still have a sense of humor.  The first Teeny Jesus adventure is Teeny Jesus in our new refrigerator, complete with LED lighting and an auto-sensor for the temperature:


I hope everyone had a Happy New Year, and that 2012 brings you happiness and prosperity.  And of course, happy knitting!