Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The Candle Flame Shawl from Knitpicks. Progressing nicely, though not without pain. It has been suggested that I might have chosen a less difficult pattern for my first lace. I think my next lace project will be a pattern with less than a 36 row repeat.

That said, I am pleased with the growth of the shawl -- currently 32", so I am almost half-way to the final 70". I think it will be beautiful when blocked.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mozart, Buddhists, Cows, & A Dead Woman

With Norbert at sleep-away camp, Myfanwe and I had an evening free to attend a concert at Millennium Park's spectacular Pritzker Pavilion. Anyone who doubts Chicago's status as a world class city need only to visit Millennium Park to have their doubt resolved. And the performances are free to the public!

The program was an innovative performance of Mozart's Requiem by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus combined with a performance of Tibetan Buddhist monks invoking harmony, peace, etc. The weather was perfect and a great crowd turned out.

I love music, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to hear such incredible performances for free. What I can't figure out is why so many people have no respect for either the musicians or the people sitting around them. They act as if they are the only people there!

These horrible cows talked through the entire concert and didn't even have the presence of mind to lower their voices to a whisper...which still would have been annoying, but at last I could have tried to block it out. But no, they mooed at the top of their lungs. During the monks prayer for world peace I found myself praying they would spontaneously combust. Probably not the response the monks were hoping for.

On Saturday morning we went to a bunch of garage sales in the neighborhood. By and large the pickings were slim, but at the last one I saw a ghoulish face staring up at me from a box and I knew I had a find on my hands!

I call her Callie, and she is a glazed ceramic Day of the Dead doll. Her head comes off and swivels. She currently resides on the window sill in the bathroom, where I have her head positioned so that it looks like she's staring at anyone sitting on the toilet!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


This may come as a shock to many of you, but I happen to enjoy attention. At least the positive kind. (I stopped barking in public in the third grade.) So it will not surprise you to learn that I thoroughly enjoy Father's Day. It's the one day of the year I get to be king -- the whole day is planned around my whims and fancies. Oh, were that EVERY day were Father's Day.

Today was an exceptionally good Father's Day.

Myfanwe and I were up at 6:30 -- not exactly sleeping in, but an hour later than we usually rise. Myfanwe and I drank our coffee and read the Sunday paper on the back porch, which, after yesterdays oppressive heat seemed positively decadent. Plus mornings like this feel kind of romantic to me...they remind me of when were were first together and would spend lazy mornings reading the paper, drinking coffee, and listening to NPR. (To this day, the Weekend Edition music makes me randy!)

When Norbert rose I made myself scarce -- Myfanwe clued me in that Norbert wanted to make a light breakfast. So I spent 20 minutes resting up from my strenuous paper reading while he and Myfanwe scrambled eggs, made toast, and cut up a delicious mango/pineapple/banana fruit salad. (And sitting there, next to my plate was a big present! A whole bunch of badly needed summer clothes! In sizes that fit!)

After breakfast I knit a little on the lace shawl...actually I un-knit the two rows I managed to squeeze into yesterday's tight schedule, corrected a mistake, then knit the same two rows again correctly. I then put a lifeline in place and viola! It was time to leave for lunch!

On Father's Day I get to choose what I want, and I chose dim sum. So we went to the New Furama on the (far) south end of Chicago's Chinatown. I meant to take the camera so I could blog the food, but I forgot, so you'll have to settle for a description.

We started out with a big plate of Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, steamed tangerine meatballs, and an order of curried squid. (The squid was sublime!) we added to that crispy corn and "meat" dumplings, roast duck, pickled cucumber, beef fun, fried noodles, and fresh silken tofu with a sweet syrup. I can't tell you how much I love dim sum.

The only drawback to the meal was that our server didn't give us a choice of tea. I wanted to try pu ehr, which I have read is good with rich foods, but instead she just brought us jasmine. But, if that is the worst thing that happened, I guess I'm pretty lucky.

After lunch we took a walk around Chinatown, which was exceptionally busy, to give the food time to digest and make room for dessert! Norbert had a cream cake, Myfanwe had a coconut bun (warm from the oven) and I had a coconut tart. Ummmm. Coconut.

The we came home and I had a luxurious hour knitting on the lace shawl while Myfanwe worked on packing Norbert's bags for camp.

All in all a really, really great day. We should do this again sometime.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Oh, what a sad, sad little man I am. I had no idea of the depths of my insecurity until I started knitting this wrap.

Now, I know that, until blocked, lace looks like a pile of canned ass. (See above illustration of canned ass.) SO I wasn't expecting the product as it slipped from the needles to look special. I expected to knit at a leisurely pace, chatting with my family, looking up on occasion to watch the cat bat playfully at a toy or the dog chew on a rawhide.


First, the chart, even blown up, was so hard to read it was useless to me. So I tried reading the written pattern, which worked well, if I managed to get through a whole row knitting only the instructions for that row... which didn't happen very often.

So I made this:

One index card for each row of the pattern (32 in all) written in thick black marker, with the repeat isolated with red asterisks. Punched and put on a big ring. (This card, and several others, got into the pile upside down, which I didn't' notice when punching. It was a blessing in disguise...notice how it stands upright! Woo Hoo!) It also is a really effective row counter! (I've always had trouble keeping track of what row I am on.)

Anyway, back to my poor self-esteem.

So I start knitting. And I rip back. And I learn my lesson about lifelines. And I start knitting again. I can't tell you how many times I've had to rip back rows. I think I must be closing in on a thousand.

Even though I've worked the 32-row repeat four times, every row is fraught with insecurity. I constantly doubting myself. If someone has the audacity to speak to me mid-row, Dog help them. "Can't you see I'm trying to RELAX?" I scream. Or I answer the phone with a very pleasant "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?"

I've found it is better to knit this one alone. No Myfanwe, no Norbert, no TV, no radio, no music, no cat, no dog. I'd appreciate it if the upstairs neighbors could move out, just for the duration.

I'd ask my doctor for a Valium prescription, but I'm afraid it would make me drop a stitch.

Pray for me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Certain to go down in history as the Great Woolmarket Riot of 2006, World Wide Knit In Public Day was a resounding success! Uppity knitters from across the metropolitan area converged on Millennium Park and, because of the damp and chill, a few spent time in our rain location in the magnificent, Tiffany-domed Chicago Cultural Center. But one and all had the audascity to pull out their needles and...(gasp!)...KNIT! (Some people know no shame!)

Pictures tell it better than I can, but I want to once again thank all of the wonderful people who helped organize and promote the event. Their efforts resulted in a wonderful event. To quote Noel Coward, "I couldn't have liked it more."

This handsome schmoodle is my very own Norbert. He sat quite contentedly, knitting and whistling. My cup runneth over with pride.

Friday, June 09, 2006


World Wide Knit In Public Day!
June 10, 2006

I have absolutely no reservations about knitting in public. Knitting anywhere, actually. I've knit in some out-of-the-ordinary places:

While driving down Lake Shore Drive
During surgery on my feet -- very soothing, really.
In a movie theater...during the movie.
In a live theater -- during the performance
During a concert given by the Illinois Brass Band
During lectures in college (only unusual because it was the 80's and I am a guy.)
In the Home Depot
Hotel Lobbies. (Not while a guest -- I work within a short walk of several 4-star hotels. They provide a beautiful, elegant place to knit over a lunch hour.)
At Synagogue. Not during services, though. Myfanwe wouldn't allow such a thing.

There are still many, many places I would like to knit:

  • More than anywhere, I'd like to knit in the White House. I think that would be great fun. I'd knit on something memorable -- maybe a shawl or sweater...but not socks...they'd wear out. Something that could be handed down. "Your grandfather spent an evening at the White House once and knit on this shawl...I wore it at my wedding, and you'll wear it at yours..." Sounds stupid, but it is what it is.
  • Sitting by the fire of a baronial manor somewhere in Scotland. Preferably when it is raining outside and with a proper cuppa tea on the side table. Maybe listening to a Harry Potter book on the iPod. Wouldn't that be heaven?
  • At the Eiffel Tower. And the Jardin des Tuileries. And at a curbside table at a dozen or so bistros in Paris. And fireside in a Chateaux in the Alps...in winter. Maybe listening to a Jacqueline du Pres recording on the iPod.
  • At the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Knitting is, at least for me, a prayerful experience. I rarely knit without a recipient in mind, and I try to only knit for people I love. Every stitch contains a prayer...a wish...a hope. And wouldn't it be wonderful to sit back and watch the people come to the Wall and pray? I think that would be really grand.
  • Even though I lived in New York, I didn't knit so brazenly in public then. I would like to knit in Times Square, at the UN, at the B&H Dairy restaurant, on the Staten Island Ferry, at Ellis Island, and at a Broadway theater. Since Myfanwe and I are taking Norbert to New York in August, I think I'll be able to check these off of the list.
So where do YOU want to knit?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006



My friend NancyK and I are both going to be knitting the Candle Flame Wrap from Knitpicks. I'm doing mine in the color pictured, and NancyK is knitting hers in a fuscia/pink/magenta colorway. It is my first serious lace knitting. I got started before NancyK -- apparently I bought the last pair of size 4 24" Addi Turbos at out LYS. Pity.

Anyway, this is a new skill for me, and one fraught with peril for someone as neurotic and high-strung as I. I made it 3" into the wrap, dropped a stitch, and had to rip the whole blasted thing out.

So I told NancyK that I recommended putting in lifelines at regular intervals.

NancyK responded thusly: "I don't use lifelines. Lifelines are for wimps."

While I love NancyK, and have the utmost respect for her as a knitter, I thing she's full of sheapdip on this one point. Lifelines are not for wimps. They are for the knitter keen on learning a new skill. They are for the person who does not mind making mistakes -- but doesn't want to pay the ultimate price for them. The are for the former Boy Scout who always needs to Be Prepared. (Please -- don't write to tell me the scouts discriminate against gays/lesbians/and Jews. I already know, and Norbert isn't a scout because of it.)

This evening I ran into trouble. I had dropped a stitch which had originated in a yarn over a few rows prior. Try as I might, I couldn't pick it up in a way that gave me a uniform lace hole. I thought of just doing my best and just knitting forward, imperfection be damned, but I knew that it would make me crazy and diminish the final product in my eye.

So I pulled the wrap off the needles and ripped back 8 rows to the lifeline. I slipped the stitches carefully back on the needles and I counted my stitches. 97! Just what I was supposed to have!

Ripping back lace is not a job for a wimp. It takes a lot of fortitude. But not as much as it would have if I hadn't run a lifeline!

(BTW, NancyK: Norbert once came home from school and called Myfanwe a wimp. Safe to say, after her "We Don't Call People Wimp in This Household -- First it's Wimp, Then it's Sissy, Then it's Faggot. The Next Thing You Know You'll Be Beating Up Kids Because They Take Dance Lessons and I Didn't Raise You So You'd Grow Up To be Like That" lecture, I can promise you he'll never use that word again. I'm not sure he knew what it meant when he said it, but he knows how strongly we disapprove. Norbert is a good kid, bless him.)