twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Don’t try this at home. May 23, 2010

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 12:18 pm
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This is only one quarter of the crap. The rest is in the POD in our driveway (still).

My friends, my friends…the nightmare is (mostly) now behind me, but I still don’t think I could accurately describe the horror we’ve just lived through. Even the photos don’t show you how frightening this place was over the last week and the months leading up to it. All I can tell you is I will nevernevernever again install new carpeting in a house (with no basement) while we’re living inside of it. Before we move in, okay. Otherwise, I will become good friends with the Stanley Steamer man and learn to love whatever crappy, ugly, lumpy carpet came with the house.

You see, I got up the nerve a few weeks ago to finally commit to some new carpeting and an installation date, thereby initiating phase 2 of the remodel. This threw me into the tailspin I knew it would; I had been dreading this part even more than the  previous “being without a kitchen and 1 bathroom phase” because the house was finally starting to look nice and I could actually clean it and you could tell I cleaned. You cannot believe how much crapola we have in every room that needed carpeting.  Without a basement or an attic, this house is especially full of crapola, thanks especially to the fact that I take part in doing things like sewing (beau coup fabric and notions), draw (many large pads of paper), writing (booksbooksbooks everywhere), jewelry-making (rocks, metal, and tools), and my dearest love, knitting (beaucoupbeaucoup yarn). Sigh. And the Bug is exactly like her old mom, but has zero editing skills and more room to fill up. By the way, CR has his own stash of stuff and things too, lest you are led to believe he has nothing to add to our load of crap collection of stuff.

Another angle

Actually, I’ve been preparing for this part of the remodel since last September, going into each room, sorting and purging. Purged so much that I’m now on a first name basis with the Goodwill guy by the Trader Joe’s. I gave stuff to him, and to friends, and to the City Sanitation Department, and to whoever foolishly dropped those “we’ll be in your neighborhood Monday to pick up your donations” cards in our mailbox.

Still we have too much left over to be believed. Whatever happened to that idea of my youth that “traveling light” was the way to live? Sigh.

On top of it all, I decided I wanted to paint the Bug’s room and furniture before that nice new white carpeting went in, just in case I spilled.

So I started there. And on the fourth morning, upon entering her room to continue cleaning/packing, I burst into tears and scared the begeezus outta the kid. I didn’t mean to do that, but it couldn’t be helped. To me, it still looked like it had three days earlier and  I knew I’d never get it packed in time. Not to mention I still had to paint it, paint her furniture, and pack up the hellhole office, guest room, and our bedroom. And there were just 5 days to go.

Could be dicey...

So I pulled myself together and moved through her room like the proverbial Sherman through Georgia. In about 4 hours I’d finished packing it up once and for all. And once I was finished, I decided to do this (see left):

Perhaps not the wisest thing to drink and knit, but it was a necessary thing as it is a secret birthday surprise for the fella who helped me through this nightmare–perhaps not so secret as I’ve been working on them in front of him. Anyway, so far they’re working out nicely, despite casting on with a  G&T beside me. I decided to used exactly the same garter rib, 2-at-a time, toe up pattern I made up for Papa’s socks so as not to confuse myself. Gotta love that Sportweight yarn to make up size 13 socks in a jiff. Still got a way’s to go, but here’s how far I am:Love that Sportweight yarn for making size 13 socks in a jiff!

By-the-way, here’s how Papa’s Socks look so far. Nearly out of yarn, so I’m going to finish the cuff in a contrasting brown (one of the colors in the main yarn).

The next morning after I sent the Bug off to school, I trotted back into her room, ready to paint her furniture using this fabulous Behr paint that has the primer in it. Fab stuff, I tell you! We painted the ceiling using it, and frankly, I think it could’ve saved my marriage since it was so simple to use and only took one coat.

So I started painting this old, futzy-full-of-gingerbready-carving Louis XV solid cherry furniture, singing happily and patting myself on the back at my cleverness for using this paint so I would be able to skip the primer step.

Here's how it started out...

Silly me.

Don’t you know, the girl at the Home Depot gave me the wrong paint. That’s right. It was the right color, but it had no primer in it.

Here’s what happens when you paint furniture without primer:


Here’s what a raving lunatic looks like–no, I won’t do that to you. Too frightening.

When I called the 800 number on the can, the nice man from Behr paint told me that ‘Oh, the paint numbers on the can are similar.” I told him they should do something about that. Then he told me that they would refund the cost of the wrong paint and the new paint I needed to redo the furniture. Yipee. Problem is, I think the cost of my sanity to sand the rest of the paint off the furniture and start over is what I can’t afford.

At least CR came home that night, gave me a loooong hug, fixed me a laaarge G&T, and promised he’d help me finish the packing. And he did. And he said he’d help me with the painting after they did the carpet.

And Friday, 2 men (both barely bigger than I am–sheesh–is there any doubt that men are stronger than women, no matter how small they are?) came at 8 am, dragged all the furniture out of the rooms, pulled up the garbagey, trashed-from-the-remodel beige carpet, and replaced it with with some lovely, creamy-color berber that smells like a model home. Hooray.

After I post this, I am going back into the Bug’s room to sand and repaint the furniture, paint the walls and finish this job.

Then onto phase 3, Paint the outside.

Gawd help me. I think I should buy stock in Tanqueray. 🙂


Mother, may I? May 10, 2010

Filed under: life — kathy @ 11:25 am
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Waking up this morning with a “love hangover” from a delightful Mother’s Day spoiling, I thought I’d have something pithy and profound (LOL) to say about this holiday designed by savvy marketers. But no, I’m simply grateful to be able to celebrate this holiday.

Gorgeous "Gertrude Jekyll" roses...smell like heaven

Of course, I will always have the world’s most wonderful mother to celebrate. Mama is the most caring and selfless mother I’ve ever known. She always made sure I had something pretty wear for special occasions, usually sewing my outfits. I recall vividly a darling pair of plaid taffeta hot pants with a velvet bolero. Don’t laugh too hard–it was the 70s and I was 11 or 12. And you would’ve been jealous if you’d seen me in them. hahaha. I cannot count the times she’s traveled to help me with moving, or surviving some illness. Although this last little project of mine, well, let’s just say that poor Mama was worn out before she could get here, and I’ll not say by whom…you know who you are. 🙂 At any rate, nowadays, as long as I (at least) have “Virtual Mama,” that is, a frantic phone call for reassurance and help organizing my frazzled mind, I can muster up my reserves and continue. So, lucky me and my siblings–to have a smart, talented, tough, and loving mother to thank for all her selflessness and love. I do my sorry best to emulate her as a mother.

So far, roasting a fabulous chicken, sewing cute outfits for Bug, and making sure the kiddo is snug in her bed each night are about the best I can do. But I’m working on it.

I am blessed also to have a caring husband in CR, and the most precious and bright loving little Bug to remind me that for all my faults and mistakes I might be on the right track when it comes to being a mom. Never as good as Mama, but good enough in my own way.

To that end, I was showered with a day of riches so full as to give me a “love hangover” (as previously mentioned), starting with coffee, shirred eggs, bacon (the good kind) at the dining room table–we opted for the table as we had enough eating in bed during the renovation to last a lifetime. I got lovely handmade cards and socks from the Bug, and from CR, a massage at a spa to be used sometime soon. In fact, since I have to jump into packing up for the new bedroom carpet with both feet today as soon as I post this, the spa massage will be especially welcome.

The finishing touches to a fab dinner in CR's capable hands...

For lunch, the Bug made her own nummy concoction of PastaRoni with LeSeur peas. And for supper, CR fired up his magic grill and they made Beer Can Chicken, roasted beets (roasted in the coals), and asparagus risotto (that was made on the stove). Yummity yum yum. And best of all, no dishes to do.


And I got to knit all day long while watching sappy old movies and didn’t feel one bit guilty about it. Worked on “Papa’s Socks” (yes, still. In fact, am running outta yarn–have to make an emergency yarn shop today!), and cast off (after nearly a year in hibernation) my “Something Rum Raisin,” which now just needs sleeves and front/neck bands, so hopefully I’ll be able to have it to wear this summer. Oh yes, and the Bug and I made some delish Peanut Butter Cookies together. Not something we usually get to do lately, so that was a special treat.

The roses co-operated by blooming like crazy. I love these David Austen roses. Insane.

That yellow rose is one plant--can you believe it?

What a lovely day. Though nothing was as lovely as the Bug hug I got when I woke up yesterday, and right before  I went to sleep. Mother’s Day is still a bit of a bittersweet day, as those of you who know me well understand. Even so, it was lovely and I am blessed beyond words.


Mr. Lucky May 3, 2010

Filed under: knitting,laughter,life — kathy @ 12:25 pm
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As knitters, many of have a special place in our hearts for films that slip in little bits of knitting; some of the movies I've seen with someone knitting: "Wallace and Grommit" (Grommit knits), "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," "Rosemary's Baby," and "Jane Austin Book Club," to name just a few.  And who could forget Jamie Lee Curtis's unforgettable trick with knitting needles in "Halloween,"  hmm?

Well yesterday, as I was intently finishing a little knitting project (yes, it was a detour I'd taken for some instant knitting gratification--I will get Papa's socks done soon!), CR decided to turn on Turner Classic Movies (his default station besides the Hitler History Channel) because there was an old movie we'd never seen featuring one of my favorite actors, Cary Grant. Called "Mr. Lucky," it was filmed in 1943, and was about as campy and melodramatic and predictable as some old movies can get.  I must admit, I do love most old movies, and because Cary was in it, well, I decided not to fight for control of the remote and watch.

About a half hour into the movie, though, my knitting nearly hit the floor along with my jaw. "Joe," Cary's character, is a bloke trying to swindle a WWII War Relief Charity which is run entirely by women. In this surprising scene, he's been waylaid by a young woman who explains that one of the things they do to help the war effort is knit, and she asks him if he knits. Of course, he's shocked and replies he "does not knit, and will not" in his usual C.Grant style. The young woman presses him to try, saying, "We want a group of obviously masculine men to take up knitting--do it perfectly casually in a public place (LOL)." And he says, "Well, I can't knit because I don't know how, and that settles it." So she  sends him to Mrs. Van Every, a matron ready with knitting needles and wool who is glad to show him how. She seats him at the head of a table full of knitters. This is a great shot of many pairs of hands knitting along each side of the screen, framing him in the center. What ensues is lots of knitting silliness, campy expressions, and Mrs. VE's encouragements (which sound like what you said to puppies when they do their business outside: "That's a boy, yesss. There you did it, bless your heart.").

I loved seeing all the different ways the women were holding the needles and throwing the yarn; most, in fact, were using that odd way you hold the right needle in hand a bit like a pencil, and stab repeatedly at your knitting. I could see only one or two women knitting continental. Anyway, the gag continues when "Joe's" sidekick, "Crunk" enters and is forced to pick up the needles, too, although by the following scene, he's the one showing a bunch of guys how to knit, " just take this string and put it between the 2 gimmicks, and you take it, and you haul it off..."

Gotta love those 2 gimmicks...:)

Speaking of gimmicks, I made the most darlin' pair of slippers for Bug--that was the little knitting side trip I mentioned earlier. I saw the pattern in the latest issue of "Knitscene Easy," and just had to try it. It was a fantastic way to use some of my bulky stash yarn, as I decided long ago to not make anything to wear (on my body, at least) made from bulky yarn.  Happily, these slippers completely used an entire skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in a lovely teal--the Bug's favorite color--all but 8 inches of yarn were left. Wonderful.

I thought this would have been a very easy pattern. Quick, too. However, (and I don’t want to be mean, and frankly, I learned one of my favorite knitting techniques (entrelac) from this designer, Lisa Shroyer), but I found that this was the most poorly written, confusing pattern I’ve ever encountered. Surely it was a pattern that could upset beginning knitters enough to cause them to whip their gimmicks across the room in despair.

For instance, the pattern instructed the knitter to repeat the first 2 increase rows multiple times (4 times after the initial 2 increase rows), however if this direction would be followed exactly as written, it would cause the YO increase pattern to tragically skew to the side. Not a happy result.

Instead, I added 2 stitch markers (one on each side of the center knit stitch) and worked the increase row as follows:

Knit to first marker, slip marker, YO, K1, slip marker, YO, Knit to end.

Also, the decreases in what is meant to be the sole are unclear. Here, I added a stitch marker on each side of the middle 13 stitches, then in each decrease row, knit to within 2 stitches of the first marker, K2tog, slipped marker, knit the middle 13, slipped the 2nd marker, K2tog, then knit to the end.
I don’t know if that was correct, but I think it gave the soles a pleasing shape and they fit well.
I finished these with a vintage button on each slipper.
Overall, a very cute, if confusing, pattern, that not only gave me a break from knitting endless Papa socks on size 1 needles,  but showed me that I could figure out how to fix up a goofy pattern and make it do my bidding.
And that's no gimmick...