I have reached the age of Jack Benny

In CategoryNavel Gazing

My birthday was a few weeks ago. I’m holding onto my thirties with my fingernails. Jim is very put out that my birthday and Mother’s Day are so close together. I like that May is The Month of Deb, but I’m the only one. Jim asked me if it was ok if he took the kids out to do a little shopping. I was like, Wait a minute – you want to take the kids out on my birthday and leave me ALL ALONE in my own house BY MYSELF for entire minutes in a row? Where it might be QUIET? With the remote all to myself? AND you’ll bring back presents?

This would bother me why?
Big really gets into these kinds of events. His little sense of humor just cracks me up no end. A few weeks before my birthday, he asked me what I wanted. I told him I want the biggest cake possible, a cake so big it would barely fit through the front door. So he starts coming up to me and saying “look mom, I drew you a picture of your cake” and it would be this miniscule little circle with a candle on it. Then he made Jim drive him to the store where he proceeded to buy the tiniest sliver of cake he could find. He was practically BESIDE himself, dancing around with glee at how funny he was. It was hysterical. Naturally, I am now on the hunt for a broccoli-shaped cake pan for his birthday. 


It was a very nice day. My mother-in-law showed up with the best present ever – something I actually want (usually she gives me scented candles, probably a hint). A Bosch Bread Machine and a NutriMill! I am going to start grinding my own wheat and baking my own bread! So! Excited! Who doesn’t love homemade bread? My people go through a LOT of it. It will be so much healthier and cheaper. I know, it’s weird – go ahead and roll your eyes. My mother-in-law, when she gave it to me, kept making her How Did My Son Pick Such a Weirdo face, all “is this really what you want? are you going to start growing wheat in the backyard now?” Which of course threw the kids a thought and now I am having to fend off all these brilliant farming ideas.

A Haircut Story

In CategoryNavel Gazing

Once upon a time, like last year…

I really liked the girl. She was super nice. Once when I was there, I interrupted the engrossing saga of her boyfriend troubles to ask her to cut my bangs a little shorter and she sliced another two inches off.
The next time, I did not ask her to cut my bangs shorter. Consequently, they were too long the instant I left the salon. I did not encourage any boyfriend conversation. I did however, tell her to take off as much as she liked in the back, as long as I would still be able to get it in a ponytail. That was my only hair rule – do whatever you want, as long as it goes into a ponytail. Apparently the term “ponytail” was too vague. She chopped it off right at my jaw (like an arrow saying the double chin is RIGHT HERE), and took a HUGE and mysterious chunk out of the back. After I came home to wash the obligatory three hundred pounds of product out of it, my husband said, “What did she do to your hair?” (seriously? That’s what you’re going to lead with? Have 16 years of marriage taught you nothing?). Later, when I was out of the shower, his eyes flickered to my hair and he casually asked, “You’re not going back to her again, right?” When it dried it looked like a triangle. With a chunk missing.

At least it happened two whole weeks before a visit with my tall, skinny, blonde, glamorous cousin from California.

I suffered through growing it out for the next eleventeen months. I hacked at the bangs myself and got the occasional trim at the place that does it for six dollars. Then around Christmas, I had the weirdest dream that I got it all cut off and I loved it. I couldn’t stop thinking about that dream. I was so happy…so carefree… so thin… 

Around here, these kinds decisions have to be run through the Committee Opposed To Change. I started dropping hints about getting my hair cut and brought home a few of those outrageously expensive hair magazines that promise ten thousand looks that will make you gorgeous!  My husband said I could cut my hair if I let him shave his head. So then we had to take a time out to fight about that for two months, because one of us thought that getting a haircut was the same as going from hair to no hair. Eventually, we called a truce and I won. I still had to make my presentation to the junior members of the committee. I brought out the magazines and showed the kids pictures of what I was considering. 

Big didn’t seem to care about the length of the hair at all, he was busy looking at all the blonde models.

Really, Really Inadequate Felted Bag

In CategoryKnitting

I love felted bags. The first one I made took forever and I wasn’t thrilled with it.  When I was ready to try again, I cast on Friday night and had it finished and ready to be felted by Saturday night. Super! Exciting! I gave that one away to my knitting proselytizee friend to use as part of my campaign to bring her over to the dark side a knitting bag. I loved it so much I immediately cast on another one for myself. And then I took a Fair Isle class and my felting got a little derailed. BUT THEN! Why not make a felted bag using Fair Isle techniques!  

I know! 

One of the biggest challenges for me in Fair Isle is keeping the tension loose enough. It kind of goes against my grain to stretch all my stitches out and have sloppy loops in the back of the work. But I figured that if I were making something to felt, then it would be no big deal if my floats were too tight because the whole thing would shrink anyway! Plus, I wanted to be able to Fair Isle by carrying one yarn in each hand and this way I could practice. It wouldn’t matter if my gauge was off because it would be felted! It would be perfect! I would love this bag so much; I would use it as a purse! Total strangers would ask me where I got it and I would smile modestly and say “I made it”, and they would be envious of my creative knitting prowess. It could be that mythical Life Changing Fashion Accessory. You know, like the Swatch watch in junior high that I never had but all the popular kids did and they were on ski team and sometimes had more than one Swatch to color coordinate with those polo shirts with the little alligator that I also never had but if I did it could have changed the course of my life.

Like that. 

I sketched a pattern of polka dots. I knew I wanted to have three rows of large-ish black polka dots on a background of gradually changing color. I scoped out the stash, and came up with some Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride for the polka dots and found some Noro Silk Garden Chunky that I ripped back from a scarf I was attempting but didn’t like. The Silk Garden said “hand wash” on it. Why would someone want you to hand wash it unless it they were warning you against the possibility of felting? I don’t know about you, but I am not all about hand washing garments just for the fun of it. 

Perhaps you can see where this is going. 

I had a very specific picture of this bag in my head. I knit the base separately (more than once to get the shape and size I wanted), and picked up stitches all around to begin the body. I began my polka dot Fair Isle pattern, knit like mad and finished it in a couple of days. Unfortunately I ran out of the black, which I wanted to use for a stripe at the top and for the handle. But who cares? The polka dots were a-freaking-dorable and the Noro background was deliciously murky. 

I couldn’t wait, and threw it in the washer the minute I was done weaving in the ends. I have a front loading washer, which I love for laundry purposes, but felting in it is not a five minute process. When I took the bag out for a check, it was apparent that the Lamb’s Pride was felting much quicker than the Noro. No problem, the Noro will catch up. I threw it in for another cycle. Hmmm. The black Lamb’s Pride was felted to within an inch of its life. The Noro…was not. Imagine if you will, what happens when one part of the fabric shrinks and the other part does not. Puckers! The Noro was puckering in between the dots! Which was not entirely unpleasant when I thought about it more. But (why does there always have to be a “but”?), the puckering (obviously) only occurred where the dots were, and the dots were pretty much centered on the body of the bag. So the bottom and the top of the bag flared out, and the middle pulled in. It was hideous.

And also not the Life Changing Fashion Accessory it was supposed to be.

Ugly, Ugly, Non-Life Changing Bag

I know. For some reason, the shape of it reminds me of one of those wooden Dutch shoes. 

I have a plan to cut it open and seam it to eliminate the flare. And do something different for a handle since that little buttonhole is kind of sissy looking. This plan involves me acquiring a sewing machine and learning how to sew, so it might be a minute. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just cut it up and frame it as a random knitting art piece. Or maybe I’ll just run it through the washer until the Noro begs for mercy and felts. Or maybe I’ll cut it up into a really expensive and funky pot holder. Whatever. 

Now that I know about the puckering, I kind of want to do it deliberately on something. I don’t love failing at one of my first knit designs, but I don’t want to be a quitter either. I still love the polka dot purse idea, but next time I am going to do something more sensible, like knit it with the same yarn throughout (duh).  And maybe not use expensive silk yarn and then deliberately ruin it. (see also: duh).

Are They All Like This?

In CategoryNavel Gazing

So Big was complaining about his dinner (as usual). He actually had the temerity to be offended when I called him picky, and said he liked lots of things. I told him that if he came up with 10 reasonably healthy meals that he liked and would eat, that I would be happy to cook those things and we would never have to have food arguments at dinner again. His ideas were Noodles, Noodle Soup, Noodle Pie, Pizza, Quesadillas, Pizza Pockets (basically a quesadilla with pizza sauce), Grilled Cheese, and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Oh, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches.