Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Adventure is 'Journey'

One of the many things that I love about my Superman is that he sings to me.

Singing, to me, is good medicine. If you are in a car, or in the shower, and you are moderately content with life, you sing. I believe that singing is sending your inner joy out into the world, and, let's face it, the world needs all the joy it can get.

Now, at this point, I could ramble on about all the things I love about him, but for now, let's talk about music. When I was alone, before we met, I spent many weekend evenings watching live music performed by bar bands. I love going to the park to watch the symphony. In fact, if it's free, I would go. I don't care if it's anybody I've heard, or what kind of music.

Nowadays, we don't get out much. It's hard. He tells me all the time about different concerts he's attended. Coming from off the beaten path, he had many occasions to win free tickets to see just about anybody you can think of. I have done that before too. It's really hard in the big city to get in on the contest lines. I probably wouldn't try, unless it was somebody I was hurting to see, but not with much optimism.

We have a bunch of cd's in the truck that we like to listen to, mostly greatest hits of different performers or bands. Not a lot of range, like my own personal collection would have, but it's his truck. On our recent roadtrip, we listened to The Eagles, America, AC/DC, Roy Orbison, Bad Company, Bread, Chicago, Hall & Oats, Santana, Neil Diamond, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Heart, etc. He sang along, it was loud enough I could sing the harmonies and not mess him up.

Earlier this summer, I was looking at all the different bands that were going to be in our area for the summer, wondering if anybody was affordable enough for us to see. Outdoor concerts at the winery, the zoo, the fairs, less expensive than some of the better venues, but at $40 a piece still out of our range, especially if you have to add entrance fees for the fair too.

About a half hour from home are a couple of different rodeo arenas that have events beyond the rodeo gatherings. We heard earlier in the summer about a Journey tribute band and started checking with the hardware store that was supposed to carry the tickets. Journey is one of those cd's we listen to, that he sings along with to me. I remember most of their music very particularly because I worked in a skating rink as a teen-ager where their stuff was played fairly often. We started reading about the cover band, who turned out to be local. Superman was getting more and more anxious about it, as the hardware store didn't get the tickets till about a week before the event. We could have purchased at the door, but this saved us about half the cost, which we really needed.

Finally, the big day arrives and we go out to the arena. The doors opened at 7, and a country band, complete with a talented fiddler, played. Superman felt conspicuous about his hair. I was wearing sandals with a skort and t-shirt, underdressed for the roped-off gravel parking lot, so not any more comfortable than he was. When his band came on after almost two hours of waiting, and struck up their first notes, he was glued to the stage.

Here's the thing I gotta tell ya: My Superman has a big heart, that's been pretty badly broken. He carries so much sadness around with him, plus the physical pain of unresolved health issues, that very rarely do I see him enjoy anything. Yes, I work at it and I do see him smile or laugh, but those are almost rare. It means so much to me to see him happy.

So, when I saw him drawn to this band, I sat back and watched him. I didn't want to break that magic spell. I could see that he was floating, elevated, like people wish heaven could be. I watched the way people reacted to him, I went to him so that they could see he was OK, just really enjoying this VERY GOOD THING he'd found. You must know that in this rural area, country music is king, and southern rock only tolerated, since a lot of southern rock was the rock & roll of the 70's, this band was acceptable only as in-betweeners to the other bands.

We left after they were finished. It was late, the dogs had been locked in the hot house for hours, it had been a very long day (attended a gathering for the company earlier) and we were very tired. It may have seemed rude to leave without hearing the main act, but we weren't the only ones and we were so exhausted we wouldn't have cared if anybody had said anything.

For days, Superman flew. So buoyed by the euphoria of hearing some of his favorite music performed really well by true musicians who were young enough to have the energy to really rock and mature enough to care how to do it well was priceless to him. He had seen Journey in person once, live, after the singer known as Journey's best lead singer, Steve Perry, had left. So, in his opinion the best thing about seeing that earlier performance was the guitarist. This cover band has excellent musicians, but what Superman appreciated most was the guitarist. 'He didn't miss a lick' I heard him say repeatedly. Over those next few days we found the band on the internet. We found that they form parts of other local bands. He 'friended' them on the social networks and got responses! I use the exclamation point there because that's how he felt, excited and grateful to be acknowledged. He saw that they had one more performance scheduled and then nothing else on the calendar as the Journey tribute band, so, he purchased tickets to go to that too, wanted to get a t-shirt for both of us that he didn't at the first performance and didn't get and was truly regretting.

See that smile? It doesn't happen often enough. He's a happy boy in his new shirt.

At this point in the movie tragedy strikes. The particular event was sponsored by a radio station. When we first got there, we were put off by the music being blasted over the loudspeakers. The doors were to open at a scheduled time, but apparently the venue was hoping people came ready to spend money, because they were probably never closed. We were half an hour early, and people had gathering in a banquet room and finding seats at large tables. We listened to other people around us, it felt like they were there, like we were, to hear some of those great songs that trigger happy memories from decades ago. One man was wearing a Journey tour t-shirt, he and his wife were celebrating their 27th anniversary. Another couple was celebrating their anniversary too. A woman in line in front of Superman at the bar said she was wearing a wig and recently had a double mastectomy. I couldn't have told you that from looking at her, she seemed very happy to be there.

I wasn't too impressed with the opening band, and not sure I can identify why. Something seemed off with the sound, the acoustic and electric guitar, the harmonies were like lemon juice and salt in the wounds to my ears. There were a few girls that danced and flirted with them, very drunkenly. We were a little put off but we were looking forward to our band and didn't think anything of it.

They had set up a stage with a dance floor in front of it, seemed like 12x12 feet, but maybe it was 20x20. Once the local radio station guys let our band get started, it seemed incredibly small. I tried to enjoy watching Superman enjoy his music again, and enjoy them also for myself, this was such a treat to see them again so soon, but my aversion to having bodies rubbing themselves on me, being able to smell their drinks, their breath, the product in their hair and the coverup on their pimples began to sicken me very quickly. People kept shoving Superman too, and several times nearly fell onto the stage. We started about four feet from it but were soon mere inches from the band member's feet. After about four songs, he said 'let's go' and I turned and plowed my way out of there, pulling him with me. I was shaking so bad while I drove home that I'm sure I was driving as erratically as all those bad drivers I wished the cops would catch. I sat up for quite awhile after we got home waiting for all that negative energy inside me to fade, but was up to open the office the next morning.

He was online when the guitarist from the band logged on the morning afterwards. It hadn't been that great for them either. The lead singer's wife WAS pushed and fell onto the stage. He said that after just a few songs they looked out to see all their friends and they were gone! There was also a fight that broke out in front of them, and no security came to break it up. I don't think there was ANY security. Superman told them how great it was to see them, but was rethinking the venues to which we would try again. It sounded like that band was pretty disappointed in the end also.

While they were instant messaging back and forth, the guitarist invited us to see them at the private gig that same night. This was the next night after the disaster, and only one full week from the first time we had seen them the first time. We were incredulous. What an honor! I took a nap, Superman tried but I think he was too excited, and after dinner we went. This event was the 20th annual garden party a couple in neighboring suburbia put on. Never having heard of it before, we were unprepared for the professional stage, sound and lighting set up between the garage and the house, among the fruit trees, with lawn chairs in the grass of someone's back yard. We met the man, and tried to thank him at the end, but I'm not sure he understood how truly grateful we were. Certainly the effort he must put in to doing this every year, with the great potential for upsetting the neighborhood was herculean.

And our boys, exhausted as they must have been from the previous night's hellacious efforts, were wonderful. The wanted Superman to model his shirt, but he didn't have it on, so another fellow did, and he felt bad about that, but that was the only bad thing about the evening. He's waiting for me now to download video of the night, but I see he's fallen asleep in his chair now. I think there's a sweet smile on his face.

I couldn't be more happy than if he was singing to me.

(I've tried to post my video of the band but it won't load. You can check them out at

Or you can view the video I posted.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Easy Garter Diagonal Multi-tasker

FREE PATTERN ALERT, but I wouldn't start anything till you read through.

OK. I made this little shawl which could also be a blanket, throw or whatever it needs to be. It's pretty simple.

I found some really soft worsted and needles a little oversized. For instance, if the skein recommends US 8 I would suggest a 9. More suggestions at the end, stay tuned!

Cast on 2. Doesn't matter how you do it. 'E' cast-ons are fine.

Knit one and make one from the stitch below. Knit to end. Repeat.

OK. That's the first half of the body of the shawl. How big you want it to be is up to you. I wanted a 45" square, so I knitted until the edges measured 45".

Knit one, knit two together. Knit to end. Repeat.

When you've got to the last two stitches cast off. You should have a garter diagonal square.

Next the edging: I selected one I had used before, the Diamond Edging from the Firmaments Lace Shawl, which I thought the designer found in a pattern dictionary, but can't find it now, except in the pattern for the shawl. It's only about 13 stitches at the widest. (Hint: I wanted the corners NOT to curl so I knit the very tippy tip stitches for two extra rows. Worked peachy!) I knit mine onto all four edges, mitering the corners. You could use just about any edge you like, just realize the size of yarn and needles may affect how the edge turns out.

The original was striped so that I could use up a bunch of my stash. I think this is pretty easy, and am doing another in white sport weight for a co-worker who is having a baby. For a crib size I would say a 28" measurement is needed on one side, however, I will need to continue increasing one side till I get 42", so decreasing one side and increasing the other, to create a rectangle. I will add the picture of that when I have it finished, so check back.

If you try this, let me know how it turns out.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stitch & Pitch Adventure

Yesterday, a knitter acquaintance of mine and I took the afternoon off and went up to Seattle to attend the Mariner's Stitch & Pitch game.

I have a difficult time driving past this place, so we stopped and did a little bead shopping. I say 'little' because I didn't spend more than $20 and we were there less than an hour.

Now, before we left I went online to get address and times, miles etc. We hit bad traffic about 10 minutes after the bead store, and having gotten the wrong address for the store we were supposed to pick up our tickets, we missed the start of the game.

We left the vehicle at the store where we picked up our tickets. It seemed about 4 blocks away when we started out but may have been about 3/4 mile. This mural was a pretty thing to see from across the street. Notice the tree has pears on the left and apples on the right side. I couldn't get the whole thing but what this shot is missing is a depiction of Mt Rainier on the left.

Ah, goal is in sight. Actually we drove the west side of the stadium and then the south getting to the store with the tickets. Below this Mariner's banner is a littler one of Ichiro.

No cityscape pic of Seattle is complete without seagulls. This is the view from the corridor near our seats. So basically, the top of the stadium.

The view over Puget Sound, complete with Ferry. I was disappointed for my companion to see Seattle on such a smoggy day, due to forest fires in our western United States, but as she hails from Southern California, didn't seem to think this at all unusual.

Artistic Baseball Bat installation as we entered the stadium.

I had been thinking about all the different baseball movies as I was preparing for this adventure and during the drive on the way up. I was touched by the recognition this poster gives to the AAGPBL, as depicted in the movie 'A League of Their Own'. There's no crying in baseball!

Debbie Bliss threw out the first pitch at our game and signed a pre-release book for attendees.

Finally, after all the traffic, grabbing something to eat and shopping the vendors' wares we made it to our seats to get some knitting done and watch some REAL LIVE PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL!

My favorite, and probably everybody's who watches the Mariners, is Ichiro. This is the view from our seats in his signature 'Warrior Pose' that he takes with every swing of the bat at the plate. He is very limber ~ one thing I noticed that you don't see on TV is that he is constantly stretching during the whole game. Good for him, because it will probably keep him in action for many years to come.The centerfield scoreboard displaying the game's statistics as well as Ichiro's. Yes, they did lose but I believe we were all winners.

Certainly the Ichiro Fan Club, who occupied the top of a couple of sections a a little ways from ours think so.

I had a wonderful time, I want say thank you to Pacific Fabrics & Crafts and the Seattle Mariner's without whom I wouldn't have come home with this pirate booty!

I also want to say thank you to Miss M for listening to me one night at the knitting group, complain about never having seen a live game, get stoked about how cool it would be to do this particular knitting adventure, driving to whole way there and back with her vehicle. Without her, I may never have gotten to do this or have been tempted to go by myself, which would have been unsafe. I also have to say thanks to Superman for bravely taking care of the office when he had much better to do.

And now for my one purchased souvenir: wearing purple wears purple! HAHAHAH!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why blog as 'Knit Whisperer'?

Did I ever tell you how I learned to knit?

My mom crocheted. When we were kids, like elementary school age, we would go to the thrift store, I think it was a Salvation Army in our neighborhood, and Mom would find bags of yarn. Some of it was unwanted stash but the majority seemed to be Unfinished Objects (UFO's in the knitting universe) or projects. She would have us unknot the stuff which I believe helped us with problem solving skills, or puzzles. One of her biggest projects was to make each of us, I had four siblings, an afghan in a different theme color. Mine was purple which had been a theme color for me before. To differentiate my socks from my sisters, aside from the fact that they were several sizes bigger than theirs which were very similar in size, she put a running thread of purple in the toes.

I know that once she must have knitted, as there is a photo of my brother in a chocolate brown argyle somewhere, but I don't remember her ever knitting. I only remember her crocheting. Even with her diabetes causing her eyesight to fail, she continued until recently, crocheting blankets for different family members, baby or wedding shower gifts.

When I was in Junior High, on breaks from school, after I got pretty well fed up with reading her Harlequins (they seemed pretty much the same story everytime) I got into her stash of crocheting and found a how-to-knit book and a pair of knitting needles. I learned to knit from a book. After accomplishing all I could from her book, I went to the library. I borrowed books and magazines.

My interest waned in high school, I think, mostly because I was busy running all over the county either walking, riding my bike or the bus in really inclement weather, to get to school or my jobs. I picked it up after I was married. My sister-in-law was pregnant so I crocheted a hideous afghan, the edges weren't anything near straight. I would have preferred knitting but thought it would take forever to get it done and wouldn't have the density to be warm. Another sister-in-law went to a knit shop, spent an obscene amount of money to knit a sweater for herself, and when I said I could knit, she said something to the effect of 'Maybe, but I bet you can't change colors'.

With that dare, my desire for knitting became addictive. I read everything, bought all I could afford. The need to knit to keep my family warm was intense. Shortly after that, the need for any improvement on my own skill to make quality product, as good or better than store bought, fueled my craving for knitting literature.

That was more than twenty years ago. For many years, it was hard to find anything at the library on the newsstands that fed my needs. So many things in magazines seemed to be poorly made. Why so many seams, when it would have hung better knit in all one piece? Why did they use that cast on, a machine knit piece wouldn't have any edges that horrible? This improved the quality of how my stuff is constructed, but the budget spent on materials always having been poor, I was unfairly limited on what I could create.

That, however, did not stop me. If I was limited to only acrylic, then I could created beautiful cardigans that could be shed if the owner got too warm. I was relieved that nothing I made would be distroyed or declared otherwise unusable because the owner didn't understand how to take care of what I'd lovingly stitched and made just for them. I didn't keep anything I'd made myself because, by the time I'd gotten something completed, I'd grown pretty tired of looking at it and just needed it out of my vision. Forever. AND I was fairly prolific.

The outcome of all of this is that no pattern is beyond me. Sure, I get exasperated because things seem to be not completely thought through. For example, one of my current projects is a sweater. The person who created this pattern and sold it, charged actual hard-earned dollars, did not include any stitch counts whatsoever. Fun. I can't imagine that a new knitter would appreciate that and the next time, I will be penciling in my stitch counts. If there is a next time, if I get the chance to do it again.

From time to time then, I am approached by people for help. It happens a lot at my knitting group, which, really, I don't mind. Sometimes rather than rip something out to the beginning, they will allow me to fix the one stitch that messed up the effect of what they are knitting. I try to show them how I'm doing it, but there is so much fear and panic that what they've done is irreversible, I find they are blinded by this fear and they don't see what it is I've done. The next time, they will try to fix it, get frustrated and rip it out, which breaks my heart that all their hard work is gone. Also, I pray that their yarn doesn't get worn from yanking it out in frustration.

Occasionally what happens to me is that a stranger will come in my office door, during business hours, while I'm in my Self-Storage manager mode, and say that someone sent them to see me because they couldn't get through a problem with a pattern they are working on, or don't understand why it is they are not getting through a tough spot. So far, these have all been knitting related, but I could have helped with crocheting as well, just hasn't happened yet.

My husband, who is my hero, my Superman, said after one such visit, 'Wow, honey, you are some kind of Knitting Whisperer aren't you?'

Oh, my. Wouldn't that be nice? I think when I grow up, it would be an honor to help someone out of their stuck place. Anything to prevent them putting down the the handcraft that I love.