Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking ahead

I've got some big plans for this weekend. Lots of stuff needs to get accomplished and I'm really hoping to get it all done.

1. Finish the body of Dad's Aran. I caved to pressure and bought 2 additional skeins to be safe.
2. Rearrange the bedroom. I've been thinking a lot about the way my room is set up and the fact that I have an incredibly comfy chair that is in an awkward spot which means I rarely use it. Also it is covered with FOs and works in progress that make sitting in it very difficult. I'd love to move things around so that the chair is more accessible and possibly creates a little knitting nook where I can sit and knit (or spin!).
3. Make some butternut squash soup and perhaps some other tasty treats from pinch my salt (oooh she just posted some sweet potato rolls!) or orangette. I went gonzo for gourds and tubers last weekend when I made sweet potato fries, sweet potato biscuits, and pumpkin cheesecake (using recipes from pinch my salt). Unfortunately I think the weather will be a bit too warm for these comfort foods so we'll see how motivated I am.

Happy weekend all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaKniSweMo: Week 1 Status

Not bad eh?

However, I'm getting progressively more nervous about yardage. At this point I'm about 1/3 through the fourth ball of yarn (out of eight). Hmmm. Another inch or two and I'll start decreasing for the armholes. Luckily the sleeves are not cabled, but still I think I'm going to have a heartbreaking realization soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Know Hope

I've been spending a lot of time over the last couple days reading over the various reactions to the election and discussions of the path our new President-Elect will be taking. It's still so hard to put into words how I feel right now. I think it's equal parts hope, pride, and pleasant surprise.

2000 was my first presidential election. I remember so clearly going to vote for the first time and signing my name in the voter roll just above my mom's name. After years of accompanying my parents to the polls, now it was my turn. Over the course of that election cycle, I had watched the debates (and the SNL parodies... "strategery"). I had admired Al Gore since I was in the sixth grade when he was named as Clinton's VP pick and my social studies teacher had described his environmental stances. Now I was a sophomore in college and I stayed up late watching the results until my roommate, a New Hampshire resident who hadn't voted (something I loudly berated her for) asked me to turn off the TV late that night when Florida was still up in the air. It was just as well since when I woke up in the morning we still didn't know who won. That loss made me incredibly sad, not least because my guy hadn't won. It's never fun to be on the losing side, whether it's in kickball or political campaigns.

I still held out hope though. When the new president-elect explained that he would be a uniter, I (naively it turns out) believed that maybe it would happen, especially since there was no mandate for him since a majority of Americans had voted for his rival. I may have joked about moving to Canada like many of those who had voted the way I had, but without any real seriousness. I'll admit, it was a kind of fashionable thing to say at the time.

Then things changed and fairly quickly. I still held out hope that in the incredibly difficult times that were upon us, our President would lead us in a responsible way. I hoped that while we couldn't be made whole again, we could start to heal. Then it was decided that we would go to war. Hardball with Chris Matthews made a stop with their campus tour at Fordham University. The guest was John McCain. I attended the taping in the Fordham Prep auditorium and listened to a man I believed to be honorable talk about the need for war. I was skeptical. The show was disrupted by several protesters who took off their coats and showed t-shirts emblazoned with the words "No War for Oil" in red. They were quickly escorted out, nervous laughter ensued and the interview continued apace. I thought it was a shame that McCain had not defeated President Bush in the primaries, because he seemed like a pretty good, knowledgeable guy. He seemed presidential.

2004 was rough for me. My mom died a couple days before the Iowa caucus and I remember discussing the various Democratic contenders with my friends at her wake. I recall quite vividly talking about John Kerry even before it seemed like he would emerge from that primary caucus as the winner. I thought that of all the candidates, he could defeat President Bush. I mean, he was actually a veteran! He had fought in Vietnam! That year, I donated to my first presidential campaign. I watched with rapt attention as a new political figure addressed the crowds at the Democratic Convention. I cried. This, I thought, is what it feels like to have someone speak to you eloquently, with respect, seeking to inspire and manages to leave you feeling good. This, I thought, is what happens when you're left remembering the message rather than remembering mispronunciations and gaffes. But after that high point, the polls for my guy started to plummet. And again, my guy lost, though thankfully largely without the utter chaos and uncertainty that followed my first election.

And then there was this campaign, which seemed to extend back almost to the time the last election was decided. Early on, I found it difficult to decide who I wanted to support. I respected Hillary a lot. It was her turn, her time. How inspiring to have her in the White House again, but now in this new role! But I remained torn. I hadn't known an election that did not have a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot. Did I want another one? The contrast between Obama and Bush was so striking, so fraught with meaning that I began to think of the symbolism of having him in the office. But could he win? Hillary was probably a much safer pick. So I didn't choose. I didn't vote in the primary because I really just couldn't make up my mind. But deep down I think I knew who I'd support in the end.

I had a Democratic friend who was unmovable. Devoted to Hillary, she simply could not make herself support him. I suspected there was more to her opposition than these feelings that her girl was robbed of what was rightfully hers. I had felt that before and couldn't let myself be laden down by those feelings. Talking to her frustrated me since she seemed so unwilling to change her mind and so willing to believe everything she heard that was bad, regardless of its truth. In the end, she transferred her affections to the least credible candidate to have ever been raised to the ticket of a national party and viewed efforts to expose the inadequacies of this candidate as an attack on her. She turned into one of the people that I simply could not understand.

Now that it's over, I hope that she, like the millions who didn't vote for my guy, will have the same hope that I nourished for the last eight years: that while we may disagree with the President, in the end, he'll make good choices for all of us. He'll represent all of us and speak for all of us (and hopefully, he'll do that with words that are pronounced correctly). I hope that this time, those hopes will be justified and met with words and deeds that make us proud of our President, regardless of our party affiliation or whether we cast our votes for him. I'm looking forward to what's to come.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NaKniSweMo kick off

This weekend, November 1st, marked the start of National Knit a Sweater Month and I decided to participate since one of my goals this year was to knit a gift sweater for Dad. He's always asking for Aran sweaters and I picked one up for him when I was in Scotland (made in Ireland, but Scotland was more convenient for me at the time). But I figured making him one would be a nice use of my skills and so I picked up some nice sheepy yarn aran weight yarn at Rhinebeck from Wild Apple Farm to make him a Christmas gift sweater. I wasn't in the mood to design my own Aran and I wasn't wild about the cables used in a lot of the books I have so I wound up using a free pattern from Lion Brand. I started a different one of their arans many moons ago that is currently my oldest UFO, but I think this project will be different for several reasons (the NaKniSweMo deadline being one of them).

I cast on this past Saturday and spent part of the (rather temperate) afternoon knitting in Ft. Tryon Park. Can't beat sitting in the sun on a park bench looking out at scenery like this:

I managed to finish the waist band ribbing and start the cable pattern which gave me the opportunity to break out one of my favorite recent acquisitions, these awesome stitch markers I got from Shameka in the Sit'n'Knit neckwarmer swap.

On Sunday while I was knitting during the morning political shows, whenever Rick Davis or that shrill harpy Monica Crowley said something irritating (which was most of the time) I just looked down at those little markers dangling from my work and it made me super happy.

I've finished up one skein so far and have almost 7 inches completed. I'm a little concerned about having enough yardage, especially since the back is knit in beaded rib rather than stockinette and it seems to be using up a considerable amount of yarn. I think it's probably too late to switch to stockinette at this point, but on the plus side I think it'll give the sweater a lot more give which will make it easier for Dad to wear it with lots of layers underneath at Giants games.

In other news, the Drops Jacket is all knit up but I'm not so pleased about the neck. I think I'll wind up frogging that portion and starting over with some slight variations. Otherwise I'm quite pleased. Hooray for chilly sweater weather!