Archive for June, 2007

All that and a bag of chips

Friday, June 29th, 2007

If you’ve been reading over the past few days, you will have noticed that a theme has developed, one that has nothing whatsoever to do with knitting. Some of you may be sick unto death of this wedding theme, but bear with me.

It was a major life event and attention must be paid. So.

I will also remind you that up until literally days before this wedding, I assumed that it would turn out to be a day that we would never forget.

No matter how hard we tried.

But no! The weather was unseasonably sunny for San Francisco in June…
…(I expected—and with good reason—fog), there were no wardrobe malfunctions, and everyone was on his or her best behavior. Given that we’re talking about a family occasion here, people, I think we can fairly say that the event exceeded expectations. Against all odds, it really was all that and a bag of chips.

Which is saying something given the inauspicious start to our California travels.

Yes, the course of true love never did run smooth, nor did the course of modern day air travel.
Walking the trail to the lighthouse, where the wedding qua wedding was held. Alex on the left, Sarah carrying my train on the right. Observe carefully, my friends, for I doubt that you shall ever again witness my sister playing the role of the lady-in-waiting. It does not suit her.

We were meant to fly out to Oakland via Chicago on Monday night (the wedding was Thursday), but thunderstorms in Chicago meant our original itinerary got scrapped. So we trudged home for the night with a ticket to fly to San Francisco early the next morning.

Our checked bags, however, flew on to Oakland. With our wedding shoes, accessories, vital undergarments, and various important toiletries containing over 3 fluid ounces. As Alex put it, “Carry-on bags only is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Now separated from these relatively important items, we nonetheless remained in high spirits—we were after all travelling light at this point—and arrived at Logan Airport at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, having slept about 3 hours…only to discover that the flight to San Francisco that Mr. United Gate Agent had rebooked us on the night before was leaving at 7 a.m. FROM CHICAGO.
My favorite view from the trail.

Again, we were at Logan Airport in Boston. I’m sure it rather goes without saying that Logan is NOWHERE NEAR O’HARE. This was bad. This was very, very bad.

I’m not proud to admit this, but we were forced to play the wedding card, I’m afraid, to get onto a flight to San Francisco…that left Boston approximately 42 minutes from that moment.
Here we are before the ceremony (and before the gale-force winds had deconstructed my hairdo).

Ever try to get through today’s airport security in 12 minutes with a wedding dress? Which travels in a garment bag so large that it looks like you are putting a body through the scanner? Yeah, well, imagine if you will…

But all was well that ended well. In spite of these considerable obstacles we were, by 2 p.m. PST on Tuesday, reunited with our bags, armed with a marriage license, and checked into a hotel.

The rest is, inevitably, photo history:
The thing you gotta ask about any dress that doesn’t have a train is, “Why not?”


A couple of shots from the beginning of the ceremony. We had no idea what to do with our hands, but were trying not to show it.

The veil is borne aloft!

The exchange of rings.

Me pouring way too much wine into the ceremonial wine cup. Way too much. I was unaware that we had to drink all of it or else ruin the symbolism. Silly me.

Alex struggles manfully to quaff all the wine. Fortunately, the vows were over by this point.

The requisite kiss, naturellement.

One of the sweetest and most sincere moments in all my life.

And then…well…basic character will out, you know!

Quite possibly my favorite photo.

What’d I tell you? All that and a bag of chips.

West Coast Wedding

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Well, I am back here in the Midwest after an exciting and whirlwind time on the West Coast.  It was really a lovely time, of which you shall hear all the details, ad nauseam, in further posts, but I’d like to dedicate this post to the wedding itself, which was beautiful and touching.

Ellen looked beautiful, naturally, (of course I’m not prejudiced, being her sister and all) and her dress was beautiful, too.

Ellen wedding dress

The wedding itself took place on the Marin Headlands, at the Point Bonita lighthouse, a gorgeous and windswept place, from which we could see not only a spectacular view of the Pacific, but also, simply by turning around, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Point Bonita lighthouse

Point Bonita view of Golden Gate 

The wedding ceremony itself was held on the near side of the lighthouse point, for the simple reason that some among the wedding party proved unwilling to brave the rickety bridge.

Bridge sign                                                                    And can you blame them, really?

Nevertheless, there were a few among us, including the bride and groom, who braved the bridge after the ceremony for a photo op.

Ellen and Alex at lighthouse 

I have many of these beautiful pictures of Ellen and Alex against the backdrop of the rocky Pacific coast, so I had to choose just a few to share with the world.

Ellen and Alex at lighthouse

Ellen and Alex at lighthouse 

I preceded them across the bridge, and got a few shots of them coming back across the bridge, unplanned but oddly evocative of walking down the aisle together after the wedding.

Ellen and Alex coming across the bridge

My wish for Ellen and Alex? 

May you cross the exciting, at times treacherous, bridges of life together, and cling tightly to each other when you see the dangerous rocks below.

rocks below

Done deal

Friday, June 22nd, 2007



Wedding day

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Today’s the day!
With this ring…

Back with the nuptial report and wedding photos next week!

En route

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Even as you read this, my mother, father, and I are en route to Ellen’s wedding in sunny California!  (Well, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise!)

So, Ellen and I ask for your good wishes, thoughts, and prayers that everyone will remain on their best behavior for just a few days of togetherness.

Meanwhile, our writing chairs will remain empty for the rest of the week.

yellow chair

Back next week with the full report of wedding adventures!


Monday, June 18th, 2007

Once upon a time, lo these many years ago, I played the flute in the high school marching band.  (And I was pretty good, too, although that’s another story.)  When marching in parades, we did this complicated maneuver to turn corners that we called, appropriately enough, “cornering.”  It involved stopping, backing up in separate columns (are they ranks or files?  I think files…), marching in place, marching forward in those columns at certain times, making the turn, marching in place, and then marching forward in columns again at specified times.  All this while continuing to play.  Astute watchers could always tell the freshmen from the upperclassmen because we stopped playing during cornering and just faked it.  It was quite complex, but a beautiful thing to behold when done correctly.  Much, much prettier than simply “gating” around the corner.

Fast forward to present-day:  I have cornered on Rumpelstiltskin!  Not quite as complex as that marching band manuever, but still fairly pretty.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-18-07

You realize, of course, that this is just the first corner.  I have three more to go.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-18-07

I have faith that the little bit of pouchiness at the inner corner will resolve itself with ruthless blocking.

I have also begun to pack!  (Really, the line “We have not yet begun to pack!” would be so much funnier there, but I just couldn’t fit it in.  Sorry.)

packing for CA 

Here you see my suitcase.  Isn’t that fascinating? 

Here’s my theory of clothes-buying: 

1.  Buy the separates you like in a limited palette, and then everything will go with everything else.  No need to buy “outfits.”  So when you pack, you just pitch in the newest and best-looking clothes in the safe and secure knowledge that when you arrive, you can start pulling together gorgeous (well, OK, at least presentable) outfits at a moment’s notice.

2.  Buy or make a few really beautiful and eye-catching (dare I say signature?) pieces that will coordinate with most of your basics (see above).  This trip that piece would be the Handsome Triangle shawl.

Of course, like all theories, this one at times works best in theory rather than reality.  But, “Reach for the stars!” I always say.

In a related but so much more important vein, I have also begun to pack my knitting for the trip.  To that end, I had to wind off more of the laceweight mohair for Rumpel.

winding laceweight mohair

Here you see my swift and ballwinder, one of the best fiber-related investments I have made.  I believe that the possession of these two tools really separates the women from the girls, so to speak.  (Or I suppose you could look at it as separating the still sane from the obsessed, but that would just be uncharitable.)

Anyway, winding those balls was the first step down a travel-knitting road that will end in California.  I guess you could say that I’ve turned the corner.

The week’s notes

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

1.  Harvey and I have been watching Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from Netflix, naturally) over the last week or so.  I must say, I had friends who loved this show when it was actually on TV, and I scoffed and shook my head at them.  But no more!  Now I see the appeal.  Thanks, Harve.

2.  I’m about to get to the first corner with the edging on Rumpelstiltskin.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-13-07 

It’s a long haul down those long sides, let me tell you.  And another one still to go!  Just keep knitting, just keep knitting…

3.  That cone of cashmere blend yarn is a fabulous prize.  In case any of you have forgotten, here’s what I made from my cone of the self-same yarn.

Handsome Triangle shawl

The Handsome Triangle shawl from Victorian Lace Today.  The cone that Ellen gave me had more than enough yarn on it to make the shawl with a whole extra repeat of the main pattern and that ruffled edging.  With a little bit left over for security’s sake.

4.  I have indeed been working on a cabled swatch based on the cream-colored sweater that Cameron Diaz wore in The Holiday.  Except that mine is red.

red cable swatch 

It’s early stages yet, but the plan is for that center cable to split into a v-neck in front and split in the back (like the sweater in the movie) for visual interest/shaping.  Oh, and it will be a pullover, not a cardigan.

5.  Harvey and I hit up the thrift stores in St. Joe today, and found some great bargains.  Sometimes you can get really lucky, you know?  What we were in search of was an old but still serviceable saucepan that we could use for popping popcorn (because I am one of the few people left in this country who make popcorn in a pan with oil instead of in the microwave–it’s lots cheaper that way and makes a girl feel like she’s actually cooking), which we found along with several other things.  For example, I found a perfect little shot glass–just one!–which I guess is really all you need when you live alone, as I do now. (Except when Harvey is with me, and I wouldn’t be doing shots with him anyway, now would I?)  I also found a very cool pair of elastic-waist rayon pants in a batik-like print.  Apartment pants, my sister-in-law would call them.  And now that I live in an apartment (for the time being, anyway) I can really use those kind of pants.

6.  I’m starting to get a little nervous about packing for the trip to CA.  Oh, not the clothes.  Clothes are just clothes, after all.  No, no.  The knitting.  What knitting should I bring?  Should I bring Rumpel?  I could get lots of edging knitted on the plane.  Or maybe the pink baby blanket I started a month ago?  Perhaps I should start a new pair of socks; that’s always good travel knitting.  Of course, I’ll have to bring more than one project, since it would be unthinkable to finish the one project you brought on a trip and then have nothing to knit!  In fact, I can’t imagine the horrid feeling of getting on the plane for the return trip without something to knit.  Or, more accurately, I can indeed imagine that desperate, sinking feeling.  Don’t want to go there.

See you all in California!

So much to celebrate!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Sarah and I would like to thank all of our wonderful readers for a great first year in the blogosphere! A year ago today—when we were still figuring out just how the devil to post photos and every post took four hours to complete—we had no inkling how much sheer fun this enterprise would be, much less that it would allow us to connect meaningfully to old friends and make so many great new ones.

Like most of the best things in life, its full merits emerged gradually.

Now we’re as happy as a dog systematically killing the newly-sprouted grass by rolling on her back in the same spot every day. (Photo courtesy of the Incomparable Kate.)

We’d just like to express our gratitude to the readers who have been with us through all the knitting errors, knitting ennui, and knitting ecstasy, all the personal ups and downs, all the good luck and the bad.

To that end, we are announcing a little contest. The prize will be a cone of the same yarn from which Sarah knit the Handsome Triangle:
Ellen says: I would have included a picture of the actual cone you will receive—which is well over 2000 yards, I believe, and is a cashmere-wool blend—but you know me! I packed it already…

Here’s what you gotta do: using whatever information you can find on the blog, plus your good sense and intuition, leave a comment on this post with your guess as to the number of people who will be at:
1. Ellen’s wedding
2. Ellen’s first wedding reception in CA
3. Ellen’s second wedding reception in MA

You may also speculate regarding Ellen’s wedding gown style and when Sarah will finish Rumple, but these extras are not required for the contest.

Whoever is closest to the actual numbers for all three nuptial events will win the coveted hot pink prize. The prize will be awarded after Ellen’s second wedding reception (once all the returns are in, as it were) and will be shipped out to the lucky winner in mid-July.

Good luck! And thanks for a great year!

Love means never having to say you’re sorry for rubbing your head vigorously in something odiferous. (Caption and photo courtesy of the Incomparable Kate. Thank you, Kate!)

Progress is slow

Monday, June 11th, 2007

…on that durned lace edging, but is being made, nevertheless.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-11-07 

I’m about halfway through the first long side of the shawl.  I regret to say that this edging is a tad, um, how do you say?–tedious. 

Rumpelstiltskin 6-11-07                                          But pretty.  And you will all be relieved to know that I have not yet stuck a size 0 knitting needle in my eye!

But, on the bright side, Mother and I went shopping on Saturday, and she purchased a suit to wear to the wedding (with a jacket, no less!), so that means that I myself will be able to wear the Handsome Triangle shawl.  Soooo, that means that Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t need to be finished before the 20th, after all.  Whew.  I was beginning to think that I’d have to pull an all-nighter this weekend.  Maybe two all-nighters.  And then I’d be completely useless all week long.  So you see how once again disaster has been averted through strategic shopping.

And now, as my contribution to our one-year blog anniversary, I would like to post a couple of completely gratuitous dog photos.

Sammy & Abby 

These dogs belong to a friend of mine–the black one is Sammy, and the yellow one is Abby.  Abby is absolutely top dog in her household, and routinely pushes Sammy around, even though he is bigger and seemingly tougher than she is.

Abby                                                         How can you say such things about me?  I’m just as sweet as can be.

Actually, now that I come to think of it, isn’t that the way things really should be?  The female is in charge, has final say in all matters, and usually (if not always) gets her way.  Gets my vote.

Happy one-year anniversary to all our dear readers!

Stress management

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I’m a tad pressed, so I haven’t been able to respond to all the comments the way that I usually try and like to do, but I would like to thank everyone who wrote something encouraging on Tuesday’s post. Your thoughts and kind words were very helpful.

So was the fact that some of Alex’s family members sent us a Cuisinart countertop wine cellar, something I’ve always secretly desired, but would never have bought for myself.

Suddenly, the wedding is starting to look a lot more worthwhile to me!

I’ve also been attempting to employ various stress management techniques like, for instance, knitting:

The Laines du Nord Mulberry Silk is absolutely gorgeous, although I will admit that for the moment the scarf looks a bit dull…but just you wait! There are ruffles that go on the ends and those are going to be very, very exciting. I promise. (Seriously, the pattern is really, really cool. You just can’t tell it right now. Stay tuned.)

This is also my first experience with the new Addi Turbo Lace Needles, shown here in a U.S. Size 5. Thumbs up! Nice, sharp points, light needle, smooth join…what’s not to like?

I’m also extremely excited about the first shipment of Tofutsies (featured in the most recent IK, by the way) in a “limited edition” colorway:
At Woolcott, we have formed a special Tofutsies Sock Club (limited to twenty people) and each of us will now automatically get our Tofutsies fix every two months for the next year. Normally, of course, I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have someone like me as a member, but I made an exception in this case.

My plan is to knit this up on a pair of U.S. Size 1 Addi Turbo Lace Needles, pursuant to their claim to be “good for socks.” We’ll just see about that, won’t we? The yarn itself is and interesting blend: 50% superwash wool, 25% soysilk fibers, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin. The latter is a fiber derived from shrimp and crab shells and is, according to the marketing folk, “naturally antibacterial.” To my knowledge, there is no actual tofu in the Tofutsies—since soysilk fiber is a bit different, I believe, than coagulated soy milk.

The presence of the chitin, however, led to a great many questions about whether or not these socks would be safe for people with dietary allergies to shrimp and shellfish.

As we know, there are no stupid questions. However, if there were, that would be one.

Beyond knitting, I have also been spending an inordinate amount of time at the gym—the idea being that it is better to heave iron barbells around for a couple of hours than it is to A) guzzle half a bottle of Southern Comfort and shoot up the neighborhood; B) cash in all your retirement savings at a loss, buy an old Cadillac Seville, and run away from home with your dog; or C) burn your wedding gown and veil in the street while screaming, “I am living in the fifth ring of gender-role hell, people! Gender-role hell!”

And finally, I am reading Bringing Down the House, the story of the M.I.T. blackjack team, card counters who made millions off the casinos in Las Vegas. That is, until they were shut down by what the back cover refers to as “violent heavies.” Although it is very poorly written—almost painfully so—the tale is nonetheless highly diversionary. I was attracted to the book by my recent trip to Vegas, but also because I rather liked the idea that people could be employed full time as “violent heavies.”

I wish I had known this when I was a college counselor. It might have provided a viable alternative to college for some of our less scholarly students. One boy in particular I’m thinking of…he would have made a great “violent heavy.”

I think he now trades bonds on Wall Street instead.