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Pig in the Suburbs


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Ogee Tunic

Ogee Tunic turned into dress: modified from Ogee Tunic, pattern by Norah Gaughan

Ogee Tunic turned into dress: modified from Ogee Tunic, pattern by Norah Gaughan

Yet another knitting post!

Norah Gaughan must be one of the original knitting geeks; her designs are inspired, and inspiring.  A few years ago she produced Knitting Nature, which drew on her background in biology (evolution and ecology emphasis).  The Ogee Tunic is her take on the concept of fractals in nature.

Yarn: Another hoarded yarn from Lambspun of Colorado, this time a merino/silk worsted weight blend, in the color “barn red.”

Gauge: It is what it is …

Size: Improvised.

Modifications: I used a heavier weight yarn because I wanted to “blow up” the ogee motif.  Now, Norah Gaughan called her original a tunic, but I think it was too short to be a proper tunic.  My version evolved (this is knit-speak for knitting-on -the-fly) into a long tunic/dress as I went along — I was imagining a knitted version of the  beautiful  salwar kameez DH bought for me in India.  I casted on many stitches for the skirt, then did a bunch of shaping so the skirt would drape better, added the open-work part of the ogee pattern to the back, and used a Norwegian clasp for neck closure.

And in the end: Perhaps a little large, but I comfort myself with the thought that a kameez can be roomy and flowy.


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Wisteria

Knitting: Wisteria, pattern by Kate Gilbert

Knitting: Wisteria, pattern by Kate Gilbert

Wow, a real knitting post.

The Wisteria sweater, by the gifted Kate Gilbert, published in the terrific on-line knitting magazine Twist Collective.

Yarn:  From my small hoard, a beautiful dk-sport weight  Lambspun of Colorado yarn, the store’s own Alpine Exotics line, a merino/alpaca/silk/cashmere blend in the color “blue spruce.”

Gauge: Why take the adventure out of knitting?

Size: Not sure, but it looks about right …

Modifications: Aside from yarn weight, also shortened sleeves, and did more dramatic hip-waist-bust shaping.  I knitted sleeves and non-patterned portions of body on straights …  Did I mention I really hate knitting in the round?

And in the end: a lovely, light-weight, warm sweater, just in time for summer.  Sigh.


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A Celebration of Mediocrity

Her new graduation clothes were on the living room floor, scattered amidst plastic shopping bags, tissue wrappers, a couple of boxes.  The Kid had gone shopping with her Godmother, and Godmother had decreed a complete outfit: a deep pink flouncy dress, a white bolero wrap, and sequined thong sandals.   I was vaguely unhappy about the clothes, but it wasn’t just because I thought the clothes and shoes flimsy and impractical …  Something else was wrong.  And a few days later, I knew what that “something else” was.  As I whined to Walter during our workout about the uselessness of new graduation clothes, he said: “Don’t you think these graduations are actually celebrations of mediocrity?”

Of course!

Kids simply do not get held back if they fail to learn.  They are sent on, and they become someone else’s problem.  So this graduation ceremony, with its congratulatory festivities, celebrates at best what should be normal expectations of progression through schooling.  And at worst?  Teachers and administrators telling each other — and themselves — that they have done their jobs, and students thinking they have accomplished something extraordinary.

And DH and I have contributed to this “celebration of mediocrity.”  We have focused so much on all that the teachers should have, or could have, done during the year.  When we quiz The Kid on school subjects and she doesn’t know the answers, we excuse her by saying that “the teacher should have taught that, so it’s not your fault.”  And that’s just wrong.  Because The Kid has contributed mightily to her own failures to learn.

Post-Memorial Day, we asked her to read an article about Arlington National Cemetery in the kids’ section of the newspaper.

“So who is Robert E. Lee, and why is the cemetery where it is?”

Hair twirl.

“I thought you read the article?”

“I DID!!!” she protested.

“Look, the article is only two paragraphs long, and you still managed to miss this sentence here, the one that says Robert E. Lee led the Confederate army?”

Sullen silence.

“OK.  Arlington National Cemetery is in Virginia.  Which side was Virginia on in the Civil War?”

“The Confederacy.”

“Good.  Now, was this the side that had the slaves or not?”

“The side without the slaves,” she answered.

She obviously did not learn anything from our last discussion of the subject a couple of months back.  And it was truly discouraging, because the failure was entirely her responsibility, and she didn’t even know it.  And the fact that she didn’t know it … well, THAT was our fault, for having let her hide behind any shortcomings we, or her teachers, may have had.

On Friday, the school is putting on a graduation ceremony, and when it is over, it will have been a show built on a puff of air, a celebration of false assurances and empty promises.


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A Neighbor

Vrooom . . . . vrooomm . . . . vrroooommm!!!

Every couple of weeks or so, he takes his mid-life crisis out of the garage and zooms around the neighborhood … at 25 MPH.  But because it is shiny, red, and has the cavallino rampante emblem, it sounds impressive even when it’s idling.

We met 14 years ago, shortly after a farm truck came by and dumped a ton of manure on our soon-to-be front yard.  He had his baby son in a stroller, and stopped to contemplate us from the sidewalk.

“A lot of soil,” he observed trenchantly.  “Are you going to be seeding?”

“No.  It’s going to be xeriscaped — rocks and bushes,” DH answered.  He regarded the pile, and repeated on a sigh,  “Lots of rocks and bushes.”

“Oh.”  Our new neighbor rocked the stroller gently, back and forth.

“I’m Dr. Crawford, by the way,” he finally offered.

He was a tall man, beginning to shamble to fat.  I looked at him with new interest, wondering just what sort of “doctor” would introduce himself to a neighbor as “doctor.” Whatever he was, I was pretty sure he was NOT a physician.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw DH perk up, begin to grin.

“Really?” he exclaimed.  “My wife’s a doctor —  she’s in internal medicine.  What’s your specialty?”

The stroller was still, and we waited expectantly.

“I’m a chiropractor,” he muttered.

“Ahh . . . .”  DH paused; there was nothing else to say.

Dr. Crawford wheeled around and began to push his son back home.  Then he stopped, looked at us, looked at the pile of manure, looked back at us.

“Can I have some of that topsoil for my flowerbed?”


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Fashion Show, Part II

Bobbin

Bobbin: With half-marathon finisher medal!

The Henry James quote of the day, from “A Most Extraordinary Case,” 1868:

She listened with all the respect which an intelligent woman who leads an idle life necessarily feels for a clever man when he consents to make her in some degree the confidant of his intellectual purposes . . . .  and he had thus the great satisfaction of discussing with the woman on whom of all others his selfish and personal happiness was most dependent those great themes in whose expansive magnitude persons and pleasures and passions are absorbed and extinguished, and in whose austere effulgence the brightest divinities of earth remit their shining.

This past summer, in a fit of expanding my horizon, I knitted three hats.  What can I say …  I was feeling guilty about The Stash, and I thought 25 years was long enough NOT to ever have knitted a hat (Gasp! And you call yourself a knitter!).  The hat is modified from a pattern by Elsebeth Lavold, and although it would never have occurred to me, she described it (in its original golden color) as “reminiscent of a chanterelle.”  I was quite charmed by her imagination.

Someday I might knit that first pair of socks …