Nana's Knitting Shop

Knitting tales of a lifelong knitter
and yarn shop owner.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Football Makes Me Jumpy

Very jumpy, in fact.

Sunday was an incredibly snuggly, snowy day. I woke up early so I could knit the Dale to at least to the shoulders.

I knew the BIG football game was that day so I also knew that knitting in the family room would be out of the question. I took a little nap and knit most of the rest of the morning without being terribly serious about the knitting. I would after all, have hours of uninterrupted knitting while the BIG game was on.

My Prince made a fire in the living room and with my brand spanky new OTT light at my side, I set out to get some serious inches completed. Not too long into the game, my Prince screamed,

"Ugh! Geez, what was that?"

I jumped.

Not long after, a huge clap broke out from the family room.

I jumped.

"Come on!"

I jumped.

"What's going on here?" Huge clap.

I jumped.

I was so looking forward to a peaceful, long knitting session in my comfy chair with my spanky new OTT light, my cozy fire, the snow gently falling outside, and every few minutes, I'm jumping from some unexpected noise - the noise of a grown man talking to a television set.

And when you jump, your heart races just a little faster, your concentration is broken for a minute or so and it takes another minute or so to regain your composure. To the right is the chart I'm working on so some semblance of concentration is required. I hate being surprised. And, I really, really hate football.

I know that's sacrilege, particularly now that Da Bears are going to the Super Bowl, but I really, really hate football. Where's my civic pride, my city spirit, my hometown support? I know it's heresy, but I have more important things to do and think about such as the chart shown above.

I will admit that football is one game I've never understood. The rules of baseball and basketball are easy to understand. (I can't ever watch basketball, however, because the sound of the sneakers squeaking across the wood gym floor makes me want to blow my brains out.) But the point and play of football has always eluded me.

What's a down? To me, it's what my bed pillows and my comfy living room chairs are filled with. What's a goal? To me, it's to have my spectacular Fair Isle sweater ready to be steeked on February 21.

And how about the news coverage? There's the pre-game news , the post-game news, and the player interviews. I had to get up early, really early, to miss the pre-game nonsense that starts hours and hours before the game. Why talk and talk and talk about how the game; the game that hasn't been played yet, is going to be played?

The player interviews slay me the most.

Pre-game: "We're going to go out there and play hard."
Post-game Winner: "We went out there and we played hard.
Post-game Loser: "We went out there and we didn't play hard enough."

I must admit that I've felt really bad for Rex Grossman over the last month or so. The talk and more talk about this poor guy has been just plain mean.

We were watching the news one night and the sports caster was giving poor Rex the ration of his life.

"So, does everyone think he's playing poorly on purpose?" I asked.

"No, but he's got to get it together."

"Don't you think he wants to? Don't you think he's trying to? After all the bad press, don't you think he'd change things if he could?"

"Ah, geez, he's got to get it together, that's all."

"It's not like he's making a conscious decision to make everybody mad. It's not like a bad business decision. He's pounding people and people are pounding him; that's physical, don't you think physical stuff is more the luck of the draw than intellectual decisions?"

"I'm going to bed, dear."

I hate football. I really, really do. And, I don't know about you, but I don't want to be anywhere near a television or anyone that talks to a television on Sunday, February 4, 2007.

I just want to knit without being jumpy.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Just as Proud as I can be!

The original title of this post was "Just Who is Dale of Norway Anyway?" If you asked my fearless Fair Isle friends, they'd tell you that he/she is a direct decendent of the Marquis de Sade. But alas, Dale of Norway isn't a person at all, but a town. So it looks like there's no actual living being to blame for the brain pain these beautiful sweater patterns are causing.

Four of these ferocious Fair Islers are making this little lovely. To steek or not to steek, that was one question. After miles of ever so easy stockinette stitch, how hard could 4 or so inches of Fair Isle be?

Well, the charts go on forever and figuring out the order is a real test. Add the sleeves to the mix and there could be tears. Clarifying instructions and correcting several pattern errors required lots of documentation. There's hundreds and hundreds of stitches so ripping was completely unadvisable although in one case, unavoidable.

I decided to be different and do another sweater,
pictured on the left. Sheila decided to be different too and she is knitting this beauty on the right.

I've got 4 inches of the body left which I seem to be avoiding like the plague. But I must be done by February 21 which is steek night! After all, who in the right mind would let me cut their new sweater? I must cut my own and so it will be done! I'm putting down the socks right now. The Forbes Forest scarf on my needles will just have to wait for a while.

So why did I change the name of this post to "Just as proud as I can be?"

Kim finished her Dale of Norway Fair Isle sweater! She decided long ago not to steek, but to make the pullover version. And she's done! She brought it to the Shop this morning and tried it on for me. She still has to block it, but all ends are woven in and all finishing is complete. It is done, done, done. And, it is absolutely beautiful. I'm just as proud as I can be!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Man Sweater Anniversary

Karen and I have been friends almost since I arrived in Chicago, a little over 10 years ago. We worked together at Northern Trust and even sat across from each other for a long time. Karen learned to knit a few years ago and because we lived so far apart, I didn't actually teach her. (I think the real reason is because we knew deep down we'd probably kill each other; after all, you do always hurt the ones you love.)

So Karen learned to knit locally and her teacher was fondly referred to as "Knitler." Now, from all reports, Knitler was the meanest knitting teacher that ever lived. She was overheard saying to a woman in Karen's class,

"You are the stupidest person I've ever tried to teach to knit."

Karen, who normally doesn't take any guff from anyone, kept her head low, did what she was told, and did in fact, learn how to knit. Several of her classmates were in tears much of the time, while others whose stomachs couldn't take the pain, left without ever finishing the class. Karen perservered and has been knitting ever since.

When I decided to open my Shop, Karen was my most enthusiastic supporter. She and I put together cubbies day after day, night after night until we thought our fingers would break. We discussed yarn, classes, and displays to the point that no one wanted to be around us.

Karen was also the one who guilted me into knitting a sweater for the Prince.

Karen came to the Shop last January 14 with her husband, Job, I mean, Chris. Karen had decided she was going to knit Job, I mean, Chris a sweater despite all of my warnings about appreciation, monkey arms, etc. And, like every man who's going to get a hand knit sweater, he chose a cabled cardigan. I have yet to meet a man who will buy himself a cabled cardigan for fear of looking like Mr. Rogers, but when it's comes to a hand knit sweater, men seem to throw the risk of looking nerdy to the wind and ask for a cabled cardigan. I personally think men have a deep-seeded fantasy to dress like Mr. Rogers, but can't openly admit it. While fulfilling their fantasy, if anyone asks, they still have the ability to say,

"Oh my wife made this little beauty for me and I didn't have the heart to tell her I thought cabled cardigans were geeky."

Chris looked through books and lots of patterns and finally decided on this cabled cardigan, called Jack's Cardigan, from the Men in Knits book by Tara Jon Manning. I shuttered when I saw the picture and looked askance at Karen who shrugged her shoulders as if to say,

"This is what he wants, what can I do?"

"Does he change the oil in his car?" I asked ever so subtly.

I've also come to understand over the years that doing something manly, like changing the oil in your car in your fresh off the needles cabled cardigan, is part of the reckoning process.

"Real men do wear cabled cardigans, so there."

Karen and I went over the pattern while Chris chose a beautiful shade of gray Donegal Tweed for said sweater. Karen was ready to cast on. In the meantime, there was some smug, secret conversation between Chris and my Prince who said regularly after this encounter,

"Geez, Karen's knitting Chris a sweater and she hasn't been knitting as long as you have. They haven't even been married as long as we have and Karen's knitting him a sweater."

As we all know, I buckled under the pressure and knit the Prince a sweater, but it was most certainly not the cabled cardigan he wanted!

And so time passed. I asked about the sweater often, but there seemed to me to be a lot of avoidance knitting going on...

"I have to knit a scarf for charity."
"Oooh, I just have to take the Lady Eleanor class at the Shop."
"That mitered square jacket is to die for. Count me in for the class."
"Oh for heavens' sake, can you believe I have to knit Chris' niece something?"
"I just inherited a gorgeous stash and it's just sitting on my fireplace staring at me."
"Julie would love that little curly scarf and I know nothing about short rows - save me a place."

Finally, after months and months (long after the Prince's sweater was done, I might add), Karen announced that she had the back and one of the fronts complete. She came to the Shop to show it to me,

"Look at that boo boo there. I hate that boo boo and it's so far down, I can never get back to it. Oh, look at that, there it is again. What's up with that, it looks like I made the same mistake in the cable over and over again. I can live with it. I'm just going to let it go. I'm going to let it go, aren't I?"

Around 10:00 p.m., shortly after that visit, my phone rang at home. I was already in bed and so by the time I got to the phone, it had stopped ringing. I checked my messages and heard this:

"She's ripping! She's ripping the whole thing! She's ripping it and I can't stop her. Oh God, she's ripping it and you're the only one I can call who will understand. She's ripping it! She's ripping it!

And then he hung up. It was Chris; and Karen was well on her way to ripping out his entire sweater. How do I portray the hysteria, the pathos in the poor man's voice? The only way is to tell you that I was instantly reminded of the Wicked Witch of the West,

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"
"Ohhhhh... What a world! What a world!"

Poor Chris. Would he ever get his sweater? (The Prince has been running around in his for quite some time now, Karen.)

I'm pleased to report that indeed he will get his sweater. It's back on the needles and Karen asked me recently how to pick up the stitches for the sleeves. Although I didn't ask directly, picking up the stitches for the sleeves means that the back and the fronts are done. This leaves the sleeves and the button bands to go. Yahoo.

Job, I mean, Chris, I'll try my best to keep her on track, but you know how well that works. I know it's been a year, but you must try to be patient for a little while longer.

Mark my words though, after all this work and rework, you're stuck with your choice and if you get the urge to do some manly, dirty job in your new sweater, stifle it or you too will be melting, melting right into oblivion.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Call the Trib!

Judy is finally, finally going to learn to knit! She's registered for class; there are no more excuses, no more wavering, no more faltering. It's official and Judy is going to learn how to knit.

You know Judy from these pages as Nancy's very funny sister. Now, Nancy has the biggest and the best stash of anyone I've ever known. I own a yarn shop and I would venture to say the Nancy's stash is better than mine. I always thought that would be enough to get Judy to knit - there's no better stash on the planet to steal from. But no....

Judy has a darling 2 year old granddaughter. I always thought that would be enough to get Judy to knit - there are so many darling knitting patterns for baby girls. But no...

If you've ever come to one of my parties, you've met Judy. She loves my parties. I've been threatening her lately, telling her that only knitters are allowed at my parties (Steves aside), and if she didn't start knitting, she would no longer be invited. I really thought that would be enough to get Judy to knit. But no...

So you ask, what earth shattering thing has happened to finally compel Miss Judy to knit?

Dog blankets. That's right, dog blankets. Dog blankets to be donated to dog shelters and rescue centers. Isn't that something?

I would learn to knit to steal my sister's stash; I would learn to knit to continue being on the party A-List; I would even learn to knit to make my granddaughter beautiful things (particularly since she's way too young to find design flaws), but I can honestly say that it would never occur to me to learn to knit so I could make donation dog blankets.

But it has most definitely inspired our Judy. She and Nancy have two Irish Setters that were rescued from a truly horrifying past and they are the kings of the castle, the masters of their domain; and, they rule Judy and Nancy's lives with iron paws.

Judy is passionate about helping the poor orphaned and abandoned dogs and while Nancy tells me Judy is unteachable; knitting is all about passion and purpose and Judy's devotion to dogs is all of that. Here's to you, Judy!

Nana's Knitting Shop is sponsoring a Donation Knitting Night on the 4th Tuesday of every month beginning on January 31 from 6:30-8:30. In addition to knitting for the Adopt-A-Native Elder Program, we will knit for the Hugs for Homeless Animals Project in support of Judy. This charity knits "snuggles" (small blankets) for animal shelters and is another charity noted in Knitting For Peace for which Nana's Knitting Shop is a designated drop off location.

For more information on the Hugs for Homeless Animals Project, click here. Stop by the Shop to take a look at the Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen. This great reference identifies lots of worthy charities for which to knit.

Judy, you will knit and if you decide to knit other things later on, I'll give you the skinny on your sister's stash and tell you exactly what to steal.