Friday, May 29, 2009

Erm, Remember That Post I Promised Two Months Ago?

Yes, darlings. They're here. At last. (As in, really long last.)

Without further ado, we present to you...

Snow Zombies on the Catwalk.

The hip and edgy Snow Zombies of the Things, featuring Thing 1's SZ doing a mosh-pit leap onto the runway.

The classically elegant look of the mature SZs, featuring accessories which can hold two of them up, if need be, and which are craftily disguised as a walking stick and snow shovel.

And the star of this event, the Carolina Snow Zombie in a beautiful pale pink ensemble, with glittery snowflakes all about it.

They were, needless to say, a sensation that hit the snow zombie society by storm. Within mere hours of this exclusive event, we were being pelted with orders from SZs the world over (well, the cold parts of the world over) with orders for the magnificent couture accoutrements. And the Things are right on that. Knitting up a storm, they are. (Me? I'm ducking lightning bolts right about now. Let's just move along from order-processing discussion, shall we?)

The organizers of this affair would like to thank one very busy photographer for all of his work with our sometimes high-maintenance models. What do you mean, he was having to mess with Photoshopping the SZs over human models?!? What is this photoshopping of which you speak? Never heard of it. Clearly, that is a vicious rumor started by Paris Hilton, who was all in a snit because she was not invited to the show. I mean, she called up crying and everything, but what was I supposed to do when Nicole Richie said no way was she coming if Paris was coming and...(Erm. Ahem. Time to move along once again. Right ho. Back to the ultra chic world-weary tone.)

Yes, yes, you say, in bored voice. Everyone know all about the runway (runaway?) life of models. But what are they like away from the bright lights and high fashion? Enquiring minds want to know.

Enter Thing 2, who has the makings of a first-rate tabloid paparazzi already blossoming in her teenage self. She stalked the snow zombies, stealthily intruded into their private lives and now presents to us a pictorial peek into their doings.

(The fact that Thing 2 discovered that my homemade light box had been taken over by this lot had nothing to do with shoving the Thing out the door with camera and SZs in hand.)

Thing 1's SZ headed straight off to see a concert. But not Slayer. Air Supply has kicked off their reunion tour, and this headbanging SZ had front-row tickets.

Thing 2's SZ headed back to its job as a sketchy droid dealer, thus negating my idea that its hood had an EZ-Tomten-meets-Laura-Ingall-Wilder look to it and confirming Thing 2's jawa-look opinion. Sigh. But at least it's a colorful jawa look.

Thing 3's SZ bought into all the, "You look like an owl" observations and, in the words of Elbow, decided that it was perfect weather to fly. (The pictures of said flight are here withheld. It wasn't pretty, and we do have certain level of decorum to maintain on the blog.)

Thing 4's SZ seemed overwhelmed by all the green and retreated to the shade of the trees, the better to protect its precious snowball. (Though how it is going to throw the snowball when said sphere is attached to its hand is rather a circular conversation at the moment. One cannot always reason with snow zombies. Rather like men in that respect.)

The Grandpa's SZ decamped without his ever-ncessary snow shovel. (If you know Midwestern farmers, you'll immediately understand what a scandal that is. Why it's not on the front page of every national newspaper I can't even begin to think.)

Carolina's SZ enjoyed a moment with Maine wildflowers in the charmingly natural (i.e. in desperate need of a mowing) front yard before being stuffed in a mailer and posted to the Dominican Republic. (Carolina has a dear wish to see snow. The SZ was the closest we could come.)

The Mom Zom in her natural, undecorated state*, next to her favorite flower, the effervescent dandelion. (Now picked for her exclusively by Thing 4, as the others have grown too up to do so.)

And Jed's SZ? Off into the wilderness it went. Completely unlike its new owner... ;)

Thus, we at tardily long last, present the final snow zombies post. They were great fun to make, and I'm trying hard to convince myself that Marie Mayhew's owls aren't just as cute.


*And yes, I rather ran out of steam when it came time to accessorize my own SZ. Fun as they were, I think I may have made them to excess and ended up zombied out. I'll make the hat and scarf next winter. I'm leaning toward the Carolina SZ look, I think. Same yarn, anyway. Just a different color.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meeting Ysolda Teague

One of my favorite things about Purl Diva’s, aside from the amazing yarns Ellen stocks, is the little email updates that tell you who’s going to be around and when. (Yes, I know email updates are commonplace now. But I still appreciate them, okay? I lived a good chunk of life without a home computer, basically because there were no such things.) And this little email update informed me that Ysolda Teague would be at the shop.

I live a good distance from Purl Diva's, which means I usually reserve visits for “special occasions” so I can justify the trip. Meeting a designer whose work I like? Yep. It qualified.

So yes, I also tend to stock up when I go down there (Oy vey, what I spent when I took the Franklin Habit class), though with Thing 1 graduating high school and a family wedding in New York this June, I was minimalist to the extreme this trip.

That hurt. Badly. It was especially painful as there was more of the naturally-colored alpaca that I love (might need two skeins to make it a shawl, after all), and some beautiful beaded silk in soft pastels hanging right near the register, just begging me to take it home. (I can still hear it sniffling in the background. If it doesn’t give up soon I’m going to have to buy it some cold medicine, because I am under strict orders to myself NOT to call up Ellen and buy it instead. I hope I listen to me.)

I did have extra cash in my pocket, but it was given me by a friend with the understanding that I would pick up dinner at the Bombay Mahal and said friend might have been cranky if I had returned with alpaca and silk instead. Worse yet, he may have tried to eat them in lieu of the lamb bhuna he ordered. He is that kind of person.

So, cautious pocketbook notwithstanding, I ventured down to Purl Diva’s last Saturday. I had seen some of her work in Knitty; the Airsaig in particular caught my eye, in part because I’m a geek for the history of things, be it culture-wide or personal, and I loved the story of her grandfather’s talent for knitting, and of how she inherited his yarn. I peeked at her website, was bowled over by the new (to me) designs, and quickly talked my lovely Thing 2 into babysitting Things 3 & 4.

I’m always of two minds about attending these sorts of gatherings. It is nice to get out and show support for designers who do work you admire, but I nonetheless feel like I have about 15 left feet and am stuffing all them in my mouth simultaneously when it comes to actually talking to people. Stick me on a stage where I’m being somebody else and I’m fine. (Well, most days. I did have one mucked up dress rehearsal recently.) But in a room full of strangers as myself? I tank, baby, every time. I go very shy, which makes me nervously talkative, which makes me wish I would just shut up.

Fortunately, there were a lot of nice knitters there, as well as Ysolda

who very sweet, charming, and quietly helpful and who managed not to look as if she wanted to hit 911 any time I opened my mouth—I thought that very gracious of her. There was Sadie, who seemed to share my affinity for the color purple in all its shades, judging by the number of yarns we kept agreeing we liked. (Should I worry that I can now spot Noro and Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride across a store and know what they are without getting closer? Nah. They’re both distinctive on the shelf, so it has nothing to do with me spending too much time around yarn, right? Right.) And there were an oddly high number of people who had once been Midwesterners, or who were current, traveling Midwesterners, in attendance. It makes me wonder what’s up with us all running back East. Blog for another day, I guess.

And, of course, there were the samples of Ysolda’s work. She is such a talented designer!

(this sweater is Matilda Jane)

Everything was beautiful, though I think I fell most in love with Vivian, which is a cabled hoodie. I’m still kicking myself for not taking a picture of the cuff detail, let alone the whole sweater--I had another attack of the shys about then. Anyway, Ysolda runs the cable down into the cuff itself, and said cuff has a lovely, soft flair to it. Fortunately, if you click on the picture of Vivian on Ysolda's website, you will be taken to Twist Collective, where they do have a picture of the sleeve detail. (And yes I am off to purchase that particular pattern from her website when I finish up here, because it’s not expensive and I decided it would be my treat to myself for catching up blogs—snow zombies, complete with pictures, are being written up next, woot—and surely I will be good enough to wait until later to purchase the yarn so don’t give me that look. I can be good. I can show restraint. Oh, quit laughing.)

The other thing that stood out for me was the casual speed at which Ysolda knits and crochets. To someone who does both slowly (that would be me, in case there was any doubt), it was sort of hypnotic to watch, especially since she throws her yarn when knitting. By the time I get enough experience to be that fast, I’ll be so old I won’t remember what the sticks, hook and strings are for, you know?

All in all, it was a lovely day. I walked away with Ysolda’s book and some stitch markers for the other project I’m a hairsbreadth from casting on. (Shhh, fuss at me later.) And that is all. Seriously. I stopped off at Bombay Mahal where I picked up the friend's order and some to-die-for lamb pasanda, along with two kinds of naan, cucumber raita and rice pudding, and went on my merry way. (Though I have to say that Shere Punjab is next on the To Try list--I've heard it's fabulous as well.)

I think all Saturdays should be like that one, don’t you? (Well, like that one, but with a bigger yarn purchase budgets and less feet stuffed into mouth.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

We interrupt our regularly scheduled knit/crochet blog to bring you this breaking news

Well, okay, so you don’t need the blog to tell you what’s been all over the national papers these past two days: on Tuesday, the Maine State House approved LD1020, and on Wednesday, in a move that had my jaw dropping (but in a really good way) Baldacci quickly signed it into law. Baldacci was quoted in more papers than I can count: "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," [he] said in a statement read in his office. "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

Opposition is already gearing up a petition drive for a people’s veto, but I’m hopeful that if that comes about, the courts will do as the Iowa Supreme Court did and say, “Sorry, banning same-sex marriage is constitutionally a wash,” or, in more formal language:

“The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion,” said a summary of the ruling issued by the court.

There are some strong correlations between this issue and what we faced with desegregation. I’ve read opinion write-ins following the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision—I grew up there—and a recurring theme was: how 7 could trump the will of 3,000,000?

Because sometimes it just has to, I guess. That may seem simplistic, but I can guarantee that many of those people who are up in arms about allowing GLBTs the same civil liberties as the rest of us do believe that race should not be a basis of restriction of rights. They will say that to discriminate against any of God’s children is not right, and will point to the behaviors of past generations of whites as heinously wrong, all the while Biblically justifying their GBLT discrimination.

Just as many whites did when it came to African-Americans. Hey, I’m mostly white, despite a few family tree veers in other ethnic directions. I grew up in an all-white community; everyone considered me white because no one knew I wasn't entirely Caucasian. I know that it can play out that way. I’ve watched it happen, and on all sorts of issues. Past battles fought are seen as right in retrospect, but God help anyone who tries to shake current beliefs.

These were the sorts of things I have discussed before, and the sorts of things I expected to continue discussing when the subject of legalization of gay marriage came up.

But I was surprised. My post-signed-into-law-excitement thoughts have been of an entirely different nature than I could have foreseen.

My friends and I were doing the long-distance celebrating of legalizing on Facebook, as Fbers will do, when one of my former play directors posed a thoughtful question. (He’s that sort of person, is L.) Why were so many straight people so involved in discussing this, when his gay friends were being pretty quiet about it? Why did it matter to us? Or more to the point, why did it matter to me, as this was my wall he was posting on.

Good question, that. I gave my reasons: 1) marginalizing any group heightens the chance of marginalization of even more people, and all on as arbitrary a basis as this marginalization (Christians wouldn’t consider themselves bound by Islamic law, after all, so why are we Christians assuming all other faiths and non-faiths should be bound some Christians’ beliefs?) and 2) legislating love, thereby impeding two persons’ desires to make a life-long commitment one to the other, is just plain wrong.

L. read this, I’ll assume, and possibly other wall posts on the subject as well. The next day, he posted this:

L. -- is wondering why people demanding tolerance, aren't very tolerant, if you see things a little different. Why so much anger?

That’s a good question, if you ask me. Because one, yes, I have been angry that it has taken us this long as a country to get it together. Seven other countries, beginning with the Netherlands in 2001, have enacted laws legalizing, not civil unions or partnerships, but same-sex marriages (see's data for more details). And we, the country that has been famous for at least paying lip-service to our democratic ideals, have done nothing, and furthermore our federal government has bowed out of this one, more than happy for once to not try to trump states’ rights. So it’s literally 50 different battles that must be fought.

The cheeky part of me, when looking at how much longer other countries have had such legislation, also dearly wants to point out that if people are poised for lightning-bolt retribution from Above, they shouldn’t worry as we’ve had a seven-country bolt buffer (and for far too many years). Chances are we’ve received the Divine all-clear, you know?

A bit snarky of me, I know. I’ll admit it. And I’m adamant about equal rights in marriage, that’s for sure. I can see why people might perceive that as angry.

And yet, the angry rhetoric of those who oppose same-sex union bothered me so badly that I was unable to stay in the room and watch the video stream of the Senate hearings that my co-workers had up. The person who was speaking is no different than I am in level of conviction, nor was he passively standing by the sidelines. He was vocal about his opinion, just as I am about mine. So, was L. right? Is there no difference between the lack of tolerance?

I hope there is. I do dislike the stand, I don’t understand why love thy neighbor can’t be more prevalent than what an apostle who didn’t even run with Jesus thought, but I hope I haven’t flashed over into the world of hate conviction. There’s a fine line between the two and we do after be careful as we walk that line. But to stand on the sidelines, would be, as Edmund Burke pointed out, allowing evil to flourish, because [we] stood by and did nothing.* They don’t see their behavior as evil, granted, but hate is the true evil in the world. It damages those who hate as much as those who are hated. And that’s sad.

I think I like how E.M. Forester put it best, though. His character, George Emerson, said that we all cast a shadow wherever we stand. The best we can do is to pick a place where we won’t do much harm, and stand in the sun for all we are worth.

He’s right. At this point in life, I just want to keep my shadow print as pale as possible. Maybe I’ll go play with sticks and strings under a tree where the light is still there, warm and brilliant, and yet softly filtered. That sounds about right, don’t you think?

Okay, next blogs will be back on-topic and about dazzlingly controversial issues such as why the Snow Zombie don't melt when frolicking in the dandelions, successfully convincing myself that summer IS the logical time to be knitting hats and mittens and crocheting warm shawls, and the utter asininity of ordering yarn for another project when I’ve already got more than enough on needles and hook. (I'll also catch up the reading and music lists. I've stumbled onto some stellar recording artists of late...)

*The quote I paraphrased was: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. However, in the course of looking it up today for accuracy’s sake, I discovered that it isn’t an actual quote at all. I ended up paraphrasing a paraphrase. And the geek in me feels duty bound to point that out. What Burke actually said in Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents was, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

I think I see why the paraphrase caught on… ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday, May 1 is Just Another Friday the 13th to a Dyslexic

(Being a dyslexic means I can mess with numbers at will, and, more to the point, without will. It's a built-in thing.)

Anyway, it's been one of those days, I have to say. Don't believe me? Allow me to illustrate. Please use public service beep, squawk, or freaky annoying sound of your choice for each of the following PSAs.

Public Service Announcement the First: If you set your P2's (Samsung's iPod) alarm for uber early so you can do a mountain of dishes and make yummy lemon bars, then set the P2 on the other bed pillow (as you have done all year), said P2 will somehow slide under your shoulder (as it has never done before) where 1) your shoulder will continually hit the touch screen's snooze option and 2) the headphones will be too buried under covers to hear.

(Just sayin'. In case you were, you know, wondering about things like that.)

Public Service Announcement the Second: You should always remember that just because you've taught the Things, on pain of beheading, to stack the dishes, this does not mean they've rinsed them, and you could be stuck with bits of chocolate cake clinging to EVERY last plate you try to wash.

Ask me how I know this. I dare you.

Please note that couscous in a bowl has the same effect and is very noticeable if you have just drained and cleaned sink and refilled it with fresh, hot, soapy water.

Public Service Announcement the Third: One should remember that if one is running late due to evil P2/dishes conspiracy and decides to shave in shower anyway, that odds are good that one will drop razor and not only knock blade head free, but also get to watch it fall right down that gaping abyss the landlady insists on calling a drain. And once new blade head is located (after dripping all over bathroom), one WILL put it on razor upside down.

If one is lucky, one will notice this mistake and correct before one shreds one's legs to bits.

(And believe me, that was a third person moment if ever there was one...)

Public Service Announcement the Final: If you discover that your too-young-to-stay home-alone Things 3 and 4 don't have school and your slave-babysitting-labor Thing 2 does have school, and you entice Things 3 and 4 to work with you on the promise they can play on the HUGE side lawn by your office all day...IT. WILL. RAIN. A LOT. And you will discover just how small your strangely pointy office is when you cram three people and a mini DVD-TV into it for eight hours.

Is anyone else laughing yet? Because I have been, all day. There comes a point, you know, where you can't do anything but. (And I haven't even discussed the damp weather hair which has simultaneously flattened and yet swooshed out on the ends of the layers, making me look like a very brunette, very bedraggled, Farrah Fawcett wannabe.)

Besides, I am a happy crafter today, so happy that despite the days adventures I have been double knitting blithely on, stupidly secure in the idea that I have not knitted the two sides together. (I'll check that for sure tomorrow. I may be stupidly happy, but I see no reason to tempt fate.)

Why am I happy?

The Maine Senate held their second vote yesterday--they are passing their bill on to the House with NO referendum to allow for a public vote on legalizing gay marriage. As well they should, for who am I (or anyone else) to vote on whether or not someone else can have the rights which are unthinkingly given to me? The House is expected to pass it, and then it's on to our erstwhile Gov. Baldacci, who has yet to support either side. I'm wondering if he'll wimp out and neither sign nor veto, which means that after a set period of time the bill would become law without his interference (s'how it works on the Federal level anyway--thank you School House Rock). Kind of a lose-lose situation for a guy who can't seem to take a stand, and I rather hope he ends up with both sides torqued off at him, seeing as he's trying to keeping two very opposing groups happy.

The opposition has vowed that if this passes, they will go door-to-door to get signatures enough for a people's veto, which means that the vote would go back out to the state-at-large (if I'm understanding these things correctly).

I hope they knock on my door.