Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Some of the best memories I have from my childhood are from the adventures Dad took us on. We hiked mountains, paddled down rivers, took long bike rides, learned to ski and went camping and fishing. He made the best trail-mix (with M&Ms and chocolate chips). He drove a big blue van and sometimes we'd pile in it in our PJs with a giant bag of popcorn and go to the drive-in. Dad had a key to the tiny library in our village so I always had access to books when I ran out. He read to us about Narnia and Hobbits. He taught us the words to John Denver songs and The Gambler - so we could sing along with him on long car trips. He tried to teach me to play baseball (but I'm afraid I was a disappointment). He humored us and mowed special badminton courts when we decided to hold multi-day tournaments. He grew giant overgrown zucchinis in the garden and didn't mind when we used them as baseball bats (He also grew misshapen pumpkins that made the best jack-o-lanterns). In the fall we would spend hours searching out the best tree in the woods near our house and then spend hours the week before Christmas trying to find it again in the snow so we could cut it and bring it home.

My father has been a dad for almost 37 years now and I know it wasn't always easy on him. I was not the worst teenager in the world, but I was the first one he was responsible for. He managed to teach me to drive (and insisted we practice during snowstorms). He panicked when I burned cookies late at night, but was cool as a cucumber when he had to dig the car out of the snowbank I'd run into trying to get home before curfew. I know he didn't know how to deal with my teenagerness most of the time, but he rode it out and I grew up.

Two days ago my father gained a third daughter in the form of my lovely new sister-in-law (more on that later...). We're happy to share him with her. There are already new adventures being planned.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not without a Trader Joe's Guy!

I've been incredibly productive over the past week. I have had loads of long term projects on my mental to-do list for months and I finally got around to a few of them. The first of these was sewing up a new messenger bag.

Almost two years ago I took a sewing class with Melissa and neighbor Pete at Valley Fabrics (which is sadly closing it's doors at the end of June). The project was a simple messenger bag. I made a lovely orange, green and teal bag that I gave to my sister that Christmas. Immediately after the class I bought this heavy cotton fabric at Ikea intending to make another bag for me. The fabric sat and sat until I finally pulled it out of the depths of the closet a couple of weeks ago and cut out all of the bag pieces. Last Monday night I needed to hem some curtains (also bought at Ikea many months ago - another long delayed project...) and, since I had the machine out, sewed up the bag.

The bag is super simple, but I am not much of a sewer. I wont invite anyone to look closely at the seams on this, but I think it came out quite well. The fabric is nice and heavy and holds the shape of the bag quite well. And it's reversible!

Tina took these photos today in Trader Joe's in Hadley. One of the clerks saw what we were doing and ran over saying, 'Wait, you can't take pictures without a Trader Joe's Guy!'

If you look close at these photos, you can see Traci behind me looking at soup (with the checkered bag) and if you look in the lower right of the photo with the Trade Joe's Guy you can see Audrey in the bottom rack of the cart. Not sure what's she's doing there. Probably being bored waiting for the best part of Trader Joe's - when they give you a balloon (in your favorite color) at the check out counter.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Euphoria and Walden, a bandit and a monster

I've found an even better spot for photographing knitting than the porch at my office. I needed to take pictures of some stuff and I needed breakfast and coffee. So Traci and I headed out to Bread Euphoria on the Northampton/Williamsburg line, home of (in my opinion) the best pastries in Western Mass. Their morning buns are sheer perfection. And they are expanding and will soon have a cafe with lots of seating and parking. They're even moving the driveway (Those of you who have experienced pulling out onto Rt 9 on that blind corner know what a good thing that is) and paving it.

We found a little table outside and each took a turn modeling my new Springtime Bandit shawl.

This was totally selfish knitting. After finishing the lace shawl for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law (15 days!) I needed to make something for me. I had this yarn - Cormo, Silk and Alpaca - bought out of the seconds bin at the Foxfire Fiber booth at the NH Sheep & Wool Festival last year. I love this yarn. It feels like your favorite old sweatshirt. I did one extra repeat of the main body pattern of the shawl because my gauge was a bit smaller than called for. It's the perfect size and so comfy I want to wear it all the time.

Also photographed during breakfast was my new Walden Beret. This is the second one of these I've made and it is my own design. This is done in sock yarn dyed in peacock colors by Melissa (it is basically the same as Valley Yarn's Franklin).

The first Walden Beret has left me in hopes of bigger and better things. I'll keep you posted... It was done in sparkly sock yarn dyed especially for me by Gail the Kangaroo Dyer. Gail calls this yarn Twinkletoes because it has thin strands of stirling silver spun into it. I love the earthy tones of this yarn - they were the inspiration for this beret's name.

Speaking of Gail... guess who has a new book coming out soon? Here is a mock up of it on display at BookExpo last weekend.

Finally, here is little Maddox hiding among my flowerpots.

I saw this yarn on close-out at Webs and said, 'That's perfect monster yarn.' And it is.

He still needs proper teeth (that's just a bit of paper in the photos), but I didn't have a chance to go to the fabric store this week.

Dear Nick Hornby, I love you.

Juliet, Naked: a novel Juliet, Naked: a novel by Nick Hornby

It's been a long time since I read a really good book. I read lots of books and many of them are good. But only a few are really good. This one made me wish my flight was longer, wish I'd taken a shuttle instead of renting a car and had me looking forward to dining out alone.

It's about a couple in their late thirties ending a long term relationship. It's about the internet enabling a youthful obsession with a rock star to last many years longer than it should. It's about the life of a washed up rock star. It's about getting to know someone over email. It's about wanting kids and not wanting kids and having too many kids. It's about music and how it can affect life. It's about life in a small town. It's about the stupid mistakes we all make. Nothing earth shattering here. But it's all in how it's written. Hornby makes it all so real and familiar - sometimes painfully familiar, but somehow laughable at the same time. My only complaint is that it was too short. I could have gone on reading this book all summer.

There was a moment when two of the main characters were ending their relationship and one was moving out where Annie offers to lend Duncan money and he says "I never thought you'd be so... tough." I think I may have snorted out loud (Much to the annoyance of the guy sitting next to me on the plane. But whatever - he did not respect the invisible line created by the armrest and his elbow was in my space the whole flight.), because I heard in my head an ex calling me a cold hearted bitch when I told him he could keep our DVD player. And now I can see that it's funny. The book is full of those moments we've all had. And because they're not actually our moments, we can laugh at them and somehow that makes our own memories more like clever, witty, novel moments.