Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feeding the Habit

Five reasons why this doesn't count as going off my yarn diet:
1. It's sooooo pretty! Who could resist?
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2. It's only a little bit of yarn.
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3. It's from my very favoritest indie dyer, Sundara. She puts up several colors each month, and then - vamos, muchachos - those colors are GONE for at least 24 months. So buy them or live in regret, eating your heart out for two whole years.
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4. It's sock yarn! Sock yarn is methadone for hard-core yarn junkies. You get just enough to take the edge off. Heck, I could probably get a prescription for it! "Take 100 grams of sock yarn PRN; call the office if you need more than three doses per month."
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5. I ordered it BEFORE I went on the diet. So there! Nyah, nyah! It was bought and paid for long ago and just arrived this weekend. Hah!

PS - there's more in the pipeline, too (*wink*)!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bald and Blacked Out

Last night my friend Christina and I (click here for her take on the evening) had a fabulous time at the Spinal Tap 25th Anniversary Tour concert at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, subtitled "Unwigged and Unplugged". (Interested parties may want to click over to the Myspace tour page where they can see a thirteen-minute Youtube video of concert footage. Edited to add: oh duh, or I could embed it!

I am here to tell you that at least one of those adjectives is a lie; some of those instruments were plugged in

Actually the concert was a twofer; not only did Spinal Tap play, but they were joined by the world-famous Folksmen and their close-harmony folk stylings. It was an evening beyond compare. 

It was such fun to see Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer in person! We had seats very close to the front of the balcony so we had a good view, although we don't have any original photos - we got frisked on the way in and Christina had to go back to the car to ditch her camera. I was a good girl - I restrained my concert participation to lip-synching and sway/bob/toetapping. I did sing aloud along with "Old Joe's Place" but that is because they gave us permission

The concert opened with a medley of "Celtic Blues" (new to me) and "Hellhole", followed by songs such as "Never Did No Wandering", "Corn Wine", and "A Mighty Wind". They were always careful to attribute the various songs to their proper composers (Nigel Tufnel, Alan Barrows, David St. Hubbins, whoever) and shifted "attitudes" from group to group, as well as breaking character to themselves. At one point they got great laughs from a deadpan reading of NBC's 1984 Standards and Practices notes on what would have to be cut from the movie This Is Spinal Tap in order to broadcast it on late-nite TV ("Forty-seven minutes thirty seconds - Lyrics to the song "Sex Farm": Unacceptable.") There was also the inexplicable Cheese Rolling interlude...

High points were Spinal Tap's famous "Stonehenge" number (one guy on the ground floor kept screaming "Stonehenge!" at each break between songs; Michael McKean finally told him, "Why don't you just come back when we do Stonehenge; it'll be about an hour ten"), a jazz/blues arrangement of "Big Bottom", the extra verse in "The Good Book Song" - it involved Moses - and the moment Annette O'Toole came out to perform "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" with her husband. (McKean, if you didn't know. I didn't.) We also got the privilege of downloading a free single: "Saucy Jack", from Spinal Tap's unfinished musical about Jack the Ripper. 

Now, anybody who knows me knows of my devotion to musical humor; I know all the words to more than a few parody songs of which I barely know the titles of the originals, and that due only to Weird Al's liner notes. But I am not indiscriminate in my love. I love the guys who build their scaffolding of humor on the firm foundation of skill and musicianship and these men, whatever they call themselves, have done that. 

Now I have to go re-watch  This Is Spinal Tap. And Waiting for Guffman, and for sure A Mighty Wind. While I'm at it, I'd better drag Best in Show off the shelf - yeah, the only music is the Norwich terrier song, but while I'm revisiting Guest's oeuvre, I might as well go all the way...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yarn Spree

I read blogs like the Yarn Harlot's, and I sympathize when she goes to the yarn store and suffers what she calls "a little accident". The intoxication of wool fumes overcomes her and she falls down and her credit card falls through the scanner, and she ends up with more yarn.

I wish I had her excuse.

I am perfectly capable of "falling down" while seated in perfect comfort and safety in my own home. Curse you, Knitpicks! Curse you and your kind! Curse the Internet that causes this unhappiness!
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Well, it all has a purpose, more or less. All the black and the variegated pink is my Classic Lines Cardi
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the cobalt blue is a Laminaria
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(I may have to work up to that one a bit...) BTW, this blue is a lot more intense and shimmery in person!

And then - well, then it all breaks down. The turquoise and the semi solid pink are just bought on spec. I love them and I have lots of lace related ideas, but no specific plans. Kiwassa? Ishbel? EZ's Stonington Shawl? Break out of the box and design a shawl myself?

Anything could happen!

However, I am now OFFICIALLY on a YARN DIET until at least MY BIRTHDAY. In November.

Anyone taking odds?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lace Magic

This is the thing that keeps lace knitters coming back. The best single moment in knitting, in my oh-so-humble opinion. It's like crack.

I refer, of course, to blocking.

There you are, with a crumpled mass of Ramen noodles hanging from your needles.
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You patiently work through the 864-stitch sewn bindoff, but the shawl still cannot be worn.

You give it the gentlest of baths in a sink full of warm water, then place it tenderly on a towel and roll it up to squish out most of the water. You're being so sweet with it because you don't want it to felt. Good Godfrey, no. You did not spend a month knitting this thing to end up with an orange spiral pot holder.

You vacuum the carpet to within an inch of its life, so it will be a fit resting place for your dainty wool confection.

Then, in a personality transformation worthy of Jack Nicholson, you become a ruthless wool torturer, stretching your shawl as if on the rack and PINNING each point firmly to the rug.
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You go around and around, measuring across the center and repositioning pins until the shawl is as close to perfectly shaped (mine is round, but the process is the same for other shapes) as is possible.
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I'm a fan of what's called "severe blocking". That means I pull it so taut that by the time it dries the shawl is typically hovering over the carpet in the middle, rising into the air under its own tension.
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The result is truly Lace Magic. The lace holes have opened out, and each pinned spot on the edging has dried into a cute little point which will stay that way.
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The entire shawl is crisp, smooth and beautiful,
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with a wonderful drape.
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Oh, and I cut my hair!

PS: what do you do when you finish a lace project?

Cast on a lace headband with the leftovers!
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