on the needles

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Have you discovered your Super Power?

I've always felt that everyone has a talent. Painting, singing, running really fast, tying cherry stems into a knot with your tongue - EVERYONE has something that they have a real talent for. It doesn't have to be something big - just something you really excel at. The thing is - some people manage to discover their talent. Other people never do. Maybe they grew up in the city and never got the chance to ski down a hill, thus discovering that they were actually an ace skier.

In that vein I was wondering, how many people ever discover their Super Powers? A Super Power is different from a talent. A talent is something you can do - it is active. A Super Power just is. For example, I have at least two Super Powers:

1. I look good in any haircut. Long or short. Curly or straight. Messy or formal. Braids, ponytails, waxed, sprayed and au naturelle. You name it, I look good in it. Ask anyone who knows me - they will tell you. I have the strange ability to look good in any hairstyle. This is probably why I am always - ALWAYS - changing my hair. However, wind is my Kryptonite. Wind that seems to leave everyone else's hair unaffected will lift up every single strand of my hair and twirl it around like Dorothy's house in the Wizard of Oz. My hair seems to have some kind of anti-gravity attribute that is triggered by wind.

2. My second Super Power is a little weirder and probably less valuable to me but it is still pretty cool. I have the magical ability to automatically find my place in a book. When I open up a book I have been reading (even if I put the book down days or weeks ago) my eyes will go straight to the place I left off reading. To the exact place. Never fails. It's spooky.

I also have freakishly small wrists and ankles - but I think that is more of a magical attribute than a Super Power. ;)

So, what are your Super Powers? I know everyone has at least one! Fess up, don't be shy - tell us what it is! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that my daughter seems to be back to normal. There is a chance that she may rebound in the next 24 hours or so but I am hanging onto the fact that she seems fine right now. I can't quite get over the image of my poor baby with a racoon mask of hives over her eyes - even the eyelids! We took photos of the whole event because if it happens again I want the doctors to be able to see what it looked like before. Also, I think if I tried to describe how bad it was I would probably get the typical doctor response which implies that I as a parent am exaggerating the problem. But no dice buddy! I have the photos!

A few good things did come out of this experience. My husband and I have been mentally prepared to act fast in case of an emergency for years - now I have proof that when the emergency happens we will be able to handle it well. No one panicked, no one dropped the ball. It is comforting in a strange way to have all of your fears become a reality and to come through the other side. I hope we never have to go through that again but at least I now have a feeling of confidence in our ability to act if needed.

I think we are going to buy a few stuffed animals and take them to our fire department to donate them to the EMT's. When my daughter rode in the ambulance, the EMT gave her a stuffed cat to be her comforting friend at the hospital. I had heard of programs like that and it was nice to see it in action. It helps the children stay calm and takes their mind (a little bit) off of their problem. My daughter named the cat "Scaredy Cat" because she "met him when she was scared". Doesn't that kind of break your heart?

So that's the good news.

Of course the O's are the bad news. About the game last night:

Steve Kline DID NOT BALK. That bad call was directly responsible for the O's losing to the Yankees (who couldn't bat their way out of a wet paper bag this season after their crushing, humiliating defeat last year by the Red Sox.) I don't approve of players having fits of temper and displays of histrionics on the field but I was a wee bit glad that Kline poked the Umpire in the face. I think we all wanted to poke him in the face. HOWEVER - the temper tantrum just fueled the Yankees - all of a sudden their bats woke up and every guy up was getting a hit. Please O's - do not be the team that gives the Yankees back their big kid on the block grandiose confidence! Read this article for more: "After Time at the Top, an Age of Anxiety" or this "Yanks Come Back, Leave O's Behind"

2. The strike zone is not a rectangle.
After the balk call the Yankees pitcher got away with pitch after pitch six inches off the inside NOT being called as a ball. Perhaps that poke in the face affected the Umpire's vision. It was ridiculous.

3. The O's may deserve this bad karma. Two words: Peter Angelos.
The Wahington Post had some great articles today about the evil duo of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos and baseball commissioner Bud Seilig. The deal that was made which gave Angelos the television rights to the Washington Nationals games was indeed a deal with the devil. Does anyone still wonder why they can't see Nationals games on tv - even though the Nats are having a GREAT season and are number one in their division? It is because of the outright greed of Peter Angelos and the corruption and chicanery of Bud Seilig. Read the articles in the Post. It's truly disgusting. Read this: "Nats Caught in TV Rundown"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Very Scary Weekend

We had a very frightening weekend with our daughter. Most of you probably don't know (because I don't really blog about it) but both of my children have severe food allergies. I don't want to go into huge detail about it right now because I have no time and no energy but anyone who wants to find out more about food allergies (and I really encourage you to do so!) can start at the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

We are extremely careful with our kids and have NEVER had to use the epi-pen on either of them. Knock on wood! We have been living with food allergies for eight years now so I think that's a pretty good record! Anyhow - on Friday my daughter started clearing her throat a lot. She said it didn't feel itchy. A few minutes later I was tickling her on her arm and she said it felt itchy. I didn't put two and two together because I had just been tickling her and because she said her throat wasn't itchy. Of course within about ten minutes she was totally covered from her neck and ears down to her knees in huge red hives. We gave her Benedryl, called the ambulance and watched her breathing in case she needed her epi-pen. I went with her in the ambulance to the hospital where they gave her some Prednisone. After about 3 and a half hours the hives had gone down to about 20% of what they had been and since her breathing was fine they told us to go home and give her two more doses of Benedryl through the night. We did and she was fine every time we looked at her but in the morning she was again covered in hives - this time also covering her face and arms and legs. Back to the doctor and more Prednisone. Now today she finally seems to be getting a bit better! (Crossing fingers!)

Her allergist said he didn't think it was a food related reaction - which in a way was good since she hadn't eaten anything she wasn't supposed to and it was driving us crazy trying to figure out what could have happened. So now we are left with something of a mystery as to what made this happen. The doctors (we've consulted and seen 4) don't have a real answer. I THINK I know what it was - probably parabens from sunscreen. It's a long story as to why I think it was likely this but - trust me - parents with food allergic kids are usually more knowledgeable about the whole area than the average doctor. We may never really have a definitive answer though - just more stuff on our already huge list of things we have to avoid.

Our food allergy lives began because we nearly lost our son when he went into anaphylactic shock. I really can't describe the way almost losing a child changes your life and how on edge and anxious you become living with food allergies. But that is our reality around here. If I were to blog about all of that stuff it would be pretty depressing reading. So, anyhow - a really stressful weekend.

As if to mirror our distress here - the O's slipped out of first place in their division for the first time in two months. **Note to David Newhan** My baseball mojo can get you back in the game but it can't make you any taller so you can catch that homerun. Sorry. We appreciate the run you scored though!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Baseball mojo

Why are the O's yankin' my chain?

Really, why?

Melvin Mora pulled his hamstring last night and tonight BJ Surhoff has "side strain" - so both go on the DL. So who do the O's call? Good old David Newhan, who hadn't even had time to report to AAA before they called him back. I'm considering forgiving the O's for sending him down since it is SO OBVIOUS that the baseball gods thought it was a bad idea too. Right now I am with holding true forgiveness because I am fairly certain he will be sent back down soon. But it is nice to know that the baseball gods are on my side. I'm tellin' you - don't mess with me. I have accurately predicted the World Series winner for the past four years (right when I started watching baseball.) It's obvious that I'm no baseball expert, but I totally have the baseball mojo and I'm not afraid to use it.

I'm workin' on a way to take Sammy Sosa out of the game. Give me time....just give me time. (Bwahhhahahaha!)

No knitting news & the vet says the dog has a lymph gland infection. Not cancer which I was worried about. So that's the good news from my day. :)

I'm so pissed! (Aka: My intermittent baseball rant)

And not in the good way as in when the British say it and mean they are drunk. I had a fairly irritating day with my knitting. Last night I must have messed up and dropped a stitch (unfortunately it didn't unravel!) while I was knitting on my shawl and watching the Orioles game. This was most likely due to the fact that I can't understand why they would send David Newhan down to triple A and yet keep Sammy Sosa around so that he can strike out night after night whilst collceting a big check. I know the O's say they needed to keep a pitcher (and they did) and Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie both came off the DL (both outfielders whom Newhan was covering for) so I understand the motivation to cut somebody but - why not cut Sosa. His last name is an acronym for Strikes Out Swinging Always. Seriously what has he contributed to the O's? Defensively average, offensively the worst starter on the whole team. And he is being paid the big money to stink night after night. Opposing pitchers will pitch around Tejada because they would rather pitch to Sosa - so any fear or intimidation his name used to inspire is long gone. Is it a coincidence that he started this downhill slide about the time he gave up the corked bats and the steroids? Hmmmm I wonder....NOT! Just look at how much smaller he is nowadays and answer the steroids question for yourself. Arrghh! So anyhow - it is all Sammy Sosa's fault that I had to tink out & reknit three rows. And now I have to pick out a new pet player on the O's. Sigh. I guess I will go with Jay Gibbons

- bit of an underdog, goofy looking, but a really nice guy and a really solid player.

(Of course no one can replace little powerhouse David Eckstein
in my affections, but I have to have someone to root for on the hometeam! Stupid Angels traded Eckstein to the Cardinals and now who is having the better season? A hint - it's not the Angels.).

More seriously - tonight I noticed a swelling on the side of my dogs face. I'm hoping it turns out to be a bug bite or an allergic reaction to something but I am really concerned that it may be a tumor. So we are going to the vet tomorrow. Cross your fingers for her - she is the sweetest dog imaginable.

For some good news - Knit the Classics is going really well. Other than everyone disliking the first book I mean. ;) We've had a small flood of first projects finished and it is great to see the varied and wonderful things everyone comes up with! Especially since I am knitting such a large project myself and have no hope of finishing any time soon. The great thing about this is (and I am knocking on wood as I type) I haven't gotten bored with it yet! I think lace might be my "thing".

Our book for next month will be Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. She was a friend of Charlotte Bronte and wrote a really great (if somewhat fanciful) biography of her. Wives and Daughters is a great book - it's kind of the middle ground between Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch. I think the group will like it. It's a much faster read than Eliot. I've been collecting links for background information and found some great ones - so I am looking forward to starting the next read. (Notice I'm not mentioning that I haven't yet finished Middlemarch. Does it count that I have actually read it twice before?) In August we will be reading The Remains of the Day.

I will still be knitting my Box Lace Shawl but in July I will also start the Leaf Lace Shawl from Fibertrends. That's the lace project that I finally ended up choosing for my class. I was really restricted in my choices because I had to buy the yarn for the project from the LYS and the wouldn't/couldn't order me the yarn I wanted for the other shawls I was considering. Since I already had the yarn that I wanted to use picked out for those I had to search though my patterns for something else. I'm okay with doing the Leaf Lace Shawl though especially since I am looking forward to working with the yummy yarn I chose. It is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool color 08. It's a really pretty mossy army green kind of color and the silk content is going to make it much nicer to knit with than the Jamieson's. I wish I had been able to get a laceweight yarn but that apparently is impossible to do unless I order something myself over the internet. What is the deal with the non-availablity of laceweight yarn at actual yarn stores? If your yarn store carries decent laceweight yarn then you are pretty lucky.

**NOTE** Okay - if there are any misspelled words in this post you will just have to live with it. I just tried the blogger spellcheck for possibly the last time. When it loads it says "loading English Dictionary". Apparently there is a major difference between American English and British English because the first word blogger didn't recognize was British. Blogger suggests I meant "britches".

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Asking for help - gasp!

Well - I think I am going to be sensible and take the shawl in to the LYS and see if they can figure out what is wrong. This is a new kind of idea for me because I usually never think to ask for help on anything - I just slog on, learning by trial and error. I don't have a knitting group (weep! sob!) so I am not used to having the ability to get a second opinion from real live people. But I guess since I have branched out and signed up for a class I will keep the trend going and ask for help!

Someone had suggested I check the errata for the Folk Shawls book to make sure my pattern wasn't wrong but unfortunately no hope to be had there. I checked for that before I started & it turns out that since I have a later edition of the book the patterns have already been corrected.

This run in with the lace demons has decided my class project for me - I am going to do the Lotus Blossom shawl. Hopefully in the Marrakesh colorway of Fiddlesticks Country Silk yarn. I'm going to see if the store will order it for me since you have to use materials from the store for the class.

Due to my lace induced depression I didn't do any knitting today. But I did get fun packages in the mail. Bunches of Fibertrends and Fiddlesticks shawl patterns and four buttons of the Artisan New Zeland Merino lace yarn and lots of sizes of steel DPN's for sock knitting. Cheered me up.. a wee bit!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lace Comes to a Screeching Halt

Last night I was happily knitting away on my lace shawl - which has now grown to twice the size of the last photo I posted. I got to the end of the row only to discover I didn't have enough stitches. Okay, no problem, I have made mistakes before, I will just look back along the row, find the mistake & correct it and move right along. Only problem is - no mistake. No mistake, but still not enough stitches. So at this point I decide to count the stitches on the needle. After counting three times and having hubby count once just to make sure I wasn't going insane I found out I am missing 17 stitches. 17 stitches!!! How the hell am I missing 17 stitches? I looked carefully at the whole shawl and can not see anything wrong. All of the holes are where they should be - line up neatly as they should. No dropped stitches.

So what to do now? I was too lazy to use a lifeline on a pattern this simple. It is easy to see what is going on in this pattern. Easy to tell what stitches should go on top of what stitches etc. Plus - every row I have done up until this row has worked out fine - pattern ended just where it should - no missing stitches. So should I back up and try to find 17 mistakes? At this point I don't see where there could be 17 mistakes. Wouldn't that be glaringly obvious? And of course I discovered this on a row which is on top of two knitted rows - which in lace world means that those two rows will tell you nothing in terms of finding a mistake. So I have to back out three rows stitch by stitch. Then I will take a look at the row preeceeding the knitted rows. If I can't find a mistake there, it looks like I am frogging the whole thing and starting over - with lifelines this time! (Although I swear I don't see how lifelines would have helped me in this case since up until this point every single row has counted out patternwise just fine!) ARRRGGGHH!

Despite it all - I still love lace.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I've managed to get another repeat and a half done on the Box-Lace Shawl. I've got three pattern repeats and the border so far - only 23 repeats to go. (Yikes!) I have to keep plugging away at it if I am going to finish by the end of June when we finish Middlemarch at Knit the Classics. Plus I want to be done by then so I can choose another project for my advanced technique class. I am torn between doing the Lisa Lloyd Celtic Poncho - which has tons of cables/braids which I have done before but definately need more practice and help with, or doing another lace shawl with a harder pattern this time. The poncho is huge and uses heavy worsted wool - do I really want to be trapped under a huge wool poncho in the middle of the summer? Not so much - but I really do want some help with cables. On the other hand - I am loving lace! Maybe the Fiddlesticks Lotus Blossom or Peacock Shawl. Not super hard but definately a step up from the Box-Lace. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, June 03, 2005

First Pic of the Box Lace Shawl

This is my project for the Knit the Classics and the Lace Along.

Here's my progress so far:

This is the garter stitch border and one and a half repeats of the lace pattern. I highly recommend this pattern for beginners. I have miscounted twice and fixed it very easily each time - essential for first time lacers! Maybe Saint Teresa is watching over me. ;)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Baseball again & hardly any knitting

The O's lost to the Sox tonight when they totally shouldn't have. David Newhan got to first on a hustle, stole second and finally made a run to break the 3-3 score in the 9th. Then the Sox are up - get two men on and have David Ortiz up with two men out. Bottom of the 9th. Clutch situation. If you are the O's what do you do? Well, you do NOT pitch to David Ortiz. Not when you have a lefty pitching (Ortiz loves to hit lefties), not when you only need one out and Manny Ramirez is up (his numbers are worse right now than Ortiz), not when you are only one run ahead in the bottom of the ninth (Ortiz is famous for the walk off home run - how the hell do you think the Sox beat the Yankees to get to the World Series?). So of course the O's pitch to him with the expected results. Pitching to Ortiz was even stupider than leaving Ponson in yesterday. Face it O's Ponson is at BEST a 5 inning pitcher. He WILL fall apart if you leave him in any longer than that. Arrgghh! I hate it when games are lost through stupidity. Oh well - the series went 2-2 so it neither team came out the worse or the better for it. But the O's need to play smarter when they are only two games up in the standings. At least the Nats won.

In knitting news - I took photos of my lace in progress & will post them ASAP.

Knit the Classics is really rocking along! We have over 30 members now. I'm so surprised (but really happy!) that so many people are interested in reading the classics. I'm having a great time finding historical and background information for the current novel Middlemarch. Research is one thing I really love to do. (I'm a geek okay?) I have always had the curiosity to "find things out" and it is nice to be able to share with other enthusiastic people. :)