Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claus on a Steam Whistle

Check this out from my Mom's home town of York, PA - Christmas carols played on a factory steam whistle. Totally not bourgeois.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Pattern A Day

I should have blogged this ages ago, but better late than never -
My lace and loop scarf has been featured in the 2009 Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar - it's a great little looseleaf box o' knitting love, and with umpteen patterns to choose from, from newbie designers and established yarn companies, it's one of the best bargains going - and a great last-minute stocking stuffer!

...and, of course, the pattern will be available for download in the shop soon!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rocks, Grandma, Gas Giants, and Especially Girl Giants...

Here are some things that might not seem to go together at first, but they do.

I hade a wonderful cookie party yesterday - I channelled all kinds of Grandma energy and drank instant Cafe Vienna (like Grandma used to) and poached some pears and made Rocks and Gaufrettes. My house filled up with wonderful friends.

I blogged Gaufrettes last Christmas. Here's Rocks:

1/2 pound butter
2 C light brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 pound raisins
1 pound dates, cut in small pieces
1 pound walnuts
tsp cinnamon
tsp cloves
3 C flour
tsp baking soda

Mix it all up and drop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or so at 375.

These are called Rocks 'cause they get really hard after a couple days. An apple wedge or a slice of bread in the cookie jar will soften them up. Many thanks to Mom's big brother Bick for bringing the recipe home from his paper route decades ago.

Here's a picture of my mom and me in my Grandparents' living room:

This is right before or after another posed photo where we're both looking at the camera and mom isn't blurry, but I like this one best. Lots of people saw it yesterday 'cause it's been on my bulletin board ever since I got it from my Aunt Marty last spring. There's a lot going on here - I'm maybe three, which would make mom 26. The table and chairs I'm sitting at had just been made by my Grandpa. The paintings above the couch were made by my Grandma's parents. I live with some of these paintings - the yellow one with the poppies by Mom's head is in my bedroom. I'm not sure who made the green afghan on the couch. This is the same room where Mom disproved the sweater curse by unraveling Dad. Clearly I come from a long line of people who are really driven to make stuff.

Here's a drawing my planet-obsessed god-son Silas made at the party:Translation: A LONG TIME FROM NOW THE MOON WILL TURN INTO A RING.

The source of this knowledge: Uncle Steph. Silas has been planet-obsessed for a while now. He's been watching youtube videos comparing the size of the Earth to VY Canis Majoris. He knows that someday the sun will explode. Unlike me, who totally freaked out when I figured out that the universe was infinite, this seems to be ok with him. A while ago he was having conversations with his Dad Dan that went something like: "I love you, Silas." "I love you too. How about 40 kermillion years from now when the sun explodes and swallows the earth, will you still love me then?" "Um, yes."

This morning I wandered out of my bedroom to find that my apartment still smelled spicy and holiday and awesome. I did the umpteen dishes the party left behind singing along to Kimya Dawson, and especially this song:

It all goes together.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mom, Dad, and the Sweater Curse

Here's a Christmas knitting story. You know about the sweater curse, right? As in, if you knit your sweetie a sweater before you tie the knot, you're done for? I've got proof that it's bogus, or at least not 100% - in fact, I'm living proof.

My mom learned to knit as a sophomore in college. Her sister Sarah taught her, and Mom's first real project was a sweater for her boyfriend. It was a green scratchy pullover, probably acrylic - it was 1971, so acrylic was scratchy back then. The shade of green she chose is somewhere between Army Green (there was a draft on - I still have trouble wrapping my head around that) and the Avocado Green that would soon dominate every stylish 1970s kitchen.
Mom learned in November and knit like crazy so her beau would have a sweater by Christmas. I've seen my mom's knitting - to this day she knits slowly and really tight. Christmas was a big deal that year - her fella was going to stay with her family in Pennsylvania over the holidays, instead of going home to his own folks in Illinois. He'd transferred colleges that year to be closer to her, and his mother was convinced my mom was promptly going to ditch him, leaving him broken-hearted and stranded at Penn State.

So the big moment came on Christmas morning. Mom presented the sweater to her man. He held it up - it looked like it would fit perfectly - well, maybe a bit snug... He put it on ... wriggle, wriggle, wriggle - pop! His head came out of the top. The torso and sleeves fit great, but the collar was a little ... tight. Actually, a lot tight. He tried to take it off, but he couldn't get the collar back over his chin. A struggle ensued. I envision all seven of my mom's siblings, plus Grandma and Grandpa, each getting a piece of the action and trying to tug the brand new sweater over the poor benighted fellow's head. Nothing worked.

Finally they got out the scissors. Mom snipped the cast-off edge and unraveled her creation until her boyfriend could breathe easily and the sweater would fit back off over his head.

Over the coming weeks she scoured the yarn shops to find a matching ball of the same dye lot. She re-knit the collar and cast off as loosely as she possibly could.

I'm sure you already know the punchline to this story. Three years later, they graduated college and got hitched. The fella is my dad. The sweater lived on in our family - it was the perfect raking-leaves-in-the-fall sweater. Scratchy and super warm. I wore it sometimes in high school after dad got a little paunchy in his thirties and outgrew it. I wonder where it is now...

Hey, family: If I missed any cool details in this story, let me know and I'll fill them in!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Paging AmberCake

We have a winner to the 100th post give-away. Amber, it's you! Unfortuntately the email address I had for you bounced back to me - drop me a line or stop by Muffy's and I'll get your prize to you.

Thanks again to everyone for your comments!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Radical Knitting on the Colbert Report!

All you cable and tv-antenna deprived people (like me!), check out this bit featuring tank-cosy-crocheter extraordinaire Jerilea Zempel on the Colbert Report! Watch closely for B-roll shots of Bitch magazine and Hansigurumi's octopus! Great work, Jeri! and thanks, Peter, for letting me know!