Monday, December 19, 2011


Clear those nasal passages!

I have been sick for two weeks. I have missed more than a week of classes and in my infectious stupor I have tried to cure myself with the following:

1. Coffee (I drank so much I ended up with an eye twitch).

2. $500 worth of shoes from ($285 returned).

3. Massive doses of wool (made me sneeze).

4. Hot bath (fell asleep and woke up a prune in tepid water).

5. Spicy shin ramen once a day.

Out of all five, I'd say the ramen was my only cure. It makes me nose run and opens up my sinues. For about an hour my ears don't ache. Also, chili is anti-bacterial, so I inhale the spicy vapors while it's too hot to eat.

I was so tired on Friday night that I went to put lotion on my hands before going to sleep, but fell asleep without pulling the covers on and with the blob of lotion still in my right hand. About an hour later I woke up shivering and went to pull the covers on. Instead, I smearing cold jasmine-scented lotion all over my sheet and my face. Nice.


Whenever I see WIPs (Works In Progress) on the internets I always hear "wimps" in my head. WIPs that are limping along, mayhap abandoned for newer, more sexy projects. Are those the voices in my head whispering "wimp?" Nah.

WIMP no. 1: Ma'mon's Everyday Cardigan. Peace Fleece design, Bartlett yarns Glen Tweed 2-ply, color Dark Lovat. Currently the body is complete and one sleeve is done. Like my sexy increases? Yeah, me either. Hopefully blocking will smooth out the lumpiness.

My alterations were neck shaping and lengthening the body to mid-hip length. My mother likes roomy clothes, versus my preference for body-concious designs. Since this is her gift (for erm, Christmas), I will make it as she likes. Currently I am drinking a lot of Sambuca because I'VE RUN OUT OF YARN. That's right, people. And here's the rub: the shop I bought the skeins from is sold out. So I ordered two skeins from the manufacturer, and put in the comments, "If you have any Dark Lovat in dye lot no. 783, you could save the world from one more alcoholic knitter." Because drunken knitting is an embarrassment to behold.

WIMP no. 2: Sean's raglan jumper. Design formula from Ann Budd'sHandy Book of Sweater Patterns. I had this jumper all knitted up for Christmas day and gave it to Sean, me brother. Apparently Sean has just GROWN by LEAPS and BOUNDS at age TWENTY. The body of the sweater was eight inches too short, and the sleeves five inches too short. It looked like he was wearing his primary school clothes. Frogging commenced after a Christmas morning Mimosa. See a pattern here? Reference WIMP no. 1, last sentence.

WIMP no. 3: Grandpa's scarf; 2x2 rib, Misti Alpaca marled sportweight, two of four balls knitted. Also Christmas gift. Gift was given still on the needles. I tried to convince Gramps the needles were a design feature. He didn't fall for it. Jeez, I'm a slacker.

This is not the hotel room I expect for 89 GBP.

WTF? I am having the most difficult time finding a hotel that I can afford, that has a private bathroom, and isn't a shithole. I know London is expensive. I've been there before, and I stayed in a hostel. Guess what? I'm not a hostel person, and I don't want to repeat my experience. But I think I should be able to find a decent room somewhere outside of the centre of the city proper that isn't in bloody Hampstead Heath. Not that there's anything wrong with Hampstead Heath.

The most recent hotel I've investigated, Mayflower Hotel, looks so appealing. Five minutes from the tube! Fresh fruit juice! Merino blankets! Gnomes! But then I read their TripAdvisor reviews. Oy. "The back of the hotel faces the tube station, so one hears the screeching wheels and the windows vibrate every five minutes." Who to trust: the swanzy website, or the grumpy travelers? Hmm...

Di Roma a Londra

My best girlfriend, Elizabeth, and I will be visiting London 9th-16th March of this year. The kind and generous Anna of Amelia Raitte fame suggested a few yarn shops to visit, two of which are actually department stores! How I wish Macy's and Marshall Field's sold Rowan and Debbie Bliss merchandise like John Lewis and Liberty does.

Next week I will travel to Indianapolis to view the newly renovated IMoA. Whence last I was there, much of the building was shrouded in plastic, though I still had the priveledge of viewing a Caravaggio, one of my personal idols. Since then, I have travelled to Rome and Florence to view more of his work. I remember fondly the hot, sunny day in July I first laid eyes on his 1599 works.

Rome was so hot and humid that summer. At 115 F (46 C), I was constantly sweating, and more than a little grumpy. I was also terribly ill- I had caught a respiratory infection on the 12 hour plane ride and could not rid myself of the virus. I walked through the Campo di Fiori and its' winding medeval streets, sniffling and seeking San Luigi dei Francesi, the French church of St. Lewis. Finally, I found the dark exterior outside a cobbled street and entered, trying to ignore the pleas of an old gypsy begging for coin. My eyes could not dialiate quickly enough to the dark, smoky church. I stood inside the doorway, breathing in the stale air. It smelled of sweet insence and hundreds of years and thousands of footsteps. Finally my eyes adjusted and I took in the interior of the church.

The Contarelli Chapel is in the very back of the church, and many people stood in hushed silence around the tiny nave. I walked up to chapel and gasped. Here, not 30 feet from my person, were three huge paintings by Michelangelo Merisi, the man I call Caravaggio. To describe the beauty of the paintings here would be an offense to Caravaggio's genius. Instead, I will give you images that can give you an idea:

The Inspiration of St. Matthew

The Calling of St. Matthew

The Martyrdom of St. Matthew

I had to be led out of the church by hand, I was so stunned by the mastery of form and media. I was humbled. Could I ever paint again without remembering this moment? Would my images ever inspire such awe?

Bartlett: Pears No Longer

Okay. I am officially OBSESSED with knitting if me Gran, who knows nothing about knitting, gets me an ALICE STARMORE book. Does she have good taste or what? She also gifted me a cedar-lined hope chest for my yarn, after seeing me buy cedar balls for my ziplock bags of yarn. I would also say I am obsessed and slightly INSANE when I bid 150 USD on Ebay for Aran Knitting and am DISAPPOINTED when an obviously weathly Minnesotan outbids me and wins the bloody book for 175 bucks! Did you hear that people? 175 dollars for a KNITTING BOOK. We knitters must be loons.

Currently, I am knitting a drop shoulder sweater for my mother out of Bartlett Yarn's 2-ply worsted. The image on Bartlett Yarn's website does not adequately illustrate the heathered depth of their yarn. The color I'm using, "Dark Lovat," has colors ranging from seafoam green to violet, blended together to create a rich, tweedy, glowing almost-teal blue. So gorgeous. I'm knitting this sweater on US9's as the yarn has a lot of loft and knitting this rustic yarn on 8's brought out it's scratchier qualities.

I purchased the yarn, which comes in generous 100 g. skeins, in August from Bo Peep's Wool Shop online. Unfortunately, I did not receive the yarn until early December, because the shop had to order from the manufacturer. Bartlett Yarn is a tough and rugged yarn, spun on a spinning mule, the last remaining spinning mule in the US. It is a step below Shetland, texture-wise. The first week I knit the sweater, the yarn abraded the skin on my leading finger, leaving a callus. To it's benefit, however, this sweater will not be worn next to the skin, and the yarn's natural lanoin makes the garment mightily insulating. So, I'm pleased. And, as the fabric is created, the yarn has softened. I can only imagine how it will feel after I wash it.

The only problem I found with Bartlett Yarn is that there are a lot of knots. In my first skein, there were ten, in the following skeins, between 2 and 6. The yarn is spun from American fleece, and it's deep crimp allows easy splicing. Still, I was irritated enough by the ten knots that I e-mailed Bartlett. Bartlett responded promptly and offered to replace my yarn. As I was nigh half knitted on the body of the sweater, I declined their offered. However, I remain impressed.

The conclusion to this ramble? If you prefer next-to-the-skin softness, do not look at Bartlett Yarns. If you want a tough yarn adept at outwear that does not pill with luminous, masterly color, you may want to take a peek a Bartlett Yarns.