Thursday, December 30, 2010

rock the new year

Oh boy have I been watching too many episodes of "Toddlers & Tiaras" on TLC. I never meant to watch this show, but yesterday I woke up to a marathon, and that was all she wrote. The world of child beauty pageants is grotesque and anachronistic, and once you've made the mistake of turning your head to glance at it, it's impossible to look away. In between miming their kids' acts while the kids perform, the wacko stage moms often shout to them, "Rock it out, girl!" Or, the kids will tell what they plan to do once they take the stage: "I'm going to rock it!" Whether they do or not depends on your tolerance for the bizarre and the downright scary.

Either way, that's my plan for 2011. I'm going to rock it out. I'm going to get on stage and let my freak flag fly.

Happy 2011, and may you rock it too.

(Photo: Nutcracker rockers, Norm's Restaurant on LaCienega Blvd, Los Angeles, 12/19/10)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Facebook is a killer. A killer of blogging. I'm on there talking to friends old and new so much that I've pretty much abandoned old Purly V. I was thinking of shutting it down, but decided there's no harm in leaving it up, and then I made a pact with my buddy Lilia that we'd resurrect our blogs by posting once a month. The advantage that blogs have over Facebook is that you can get more in-depth with whatever it is you want to say. In a sense, that's also the disadvantage, because while Facebook lets you fire off a line or two and move on, blogging comes with the sense that more needs to be done. More words, more pictures, more -- more. Maybe it's just me. And I really shouldn't go forgetting that because blogs are public, I've met some wonderful strangers who have become friends here, including Lilia. There's a lot to be said for that.

Since I owe a post for November, I'll share what's on my mind on this last day, which is, in addition to finding a full-time job and taking a walk, riding my new-to-me bicycles. I've wanted a bike since someone stole all but the front tire of my Specialized Crossroads from behind my apartment building in L.A. back in 2002 (I'm getting misty just thinking about it). A month ago I bought a really nice 1990s Trek road bike from a friend. She was kind enough to sell it to me for a song. It's in great condition, so much so that one of the guys at the bike shop where I had it looked over wants to buy it from me (alas, the answer is no) and Schmin wants it too (maybe someday). Still, it's a road bike, which is a very specific kind of bike, and not, for me, the kind to tool around town carrying library books and groceries and just ... tooling around town. Having that bike only made me want to tool more, so after riding it once, off to Craigslist I went to see what bike bargains could be had there. For more than a song but, with Schmin's help, not more than I could pony up, I found a (2006, from what I can gather online) Cannondale Adventure 400. The split second I laid eyes on it, I knew we were in for a love affair. I bought it, had a rear rack installed, bought lights and a market bag, and have been riding in bliss ever since. The Trek I'm going to use for touring; the Cannondale for commuting, shopping, and good old-fashioned fun. So far, the best thing about having two bikes is that I can ride with visitors. Schmin was here for Thanksgiving, and we took a midnight ride around my neighborhood Sunday night. He rode the Trek, of course. It was fun on top of fun. We raced each other (not much of a contest, he's 25, male, in great shape, and was on a road bike), took pictures, and tried to see if one of those electronic road signs that display car speed would register our bike speeds (it did). I've loved bikes since my grandfather taught me to ride without training wheels, and owning even one good bike, not to mention two, is a dream come true.

Here are a few more shots from The Midnight Ride of Schmin & Schmin.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

i made some things and had a birthday kind of around the same time

So much good stuff to chat about. First, crochet.

This little red number is my first crocheted sweater. It was a learning experiment, to be sure, but it's cute enough to give away. I'm sending it to Avery, along with the blue knitted sweater. (I know. I've been lax about mailing anything lately. My sewing room is filled with unmailed gifts.)

Next, I made this green sweater for the young woman who works with me at
Knitting in the Loop. I used Vanna's Choice yarn, which I probably won't use again, but the sweater is nice for a baby boy. I gifted it along with some plaid cotton button-down shirts from Target. It was an adorably preppy combo.

This pink, cream, and brown sweater, which I call The Neapolitan, is maybe my favorite. It's made with a discontinued yarn called Cotton Candy by the Woodstock Wool Company, which is apparently out of business. It's too bad because it's the softest, most gorgeous cotton I've ever used. These pictures hardly do it justice. This one is for Mister Steven's god daughter Soliel, who is due a new sweater from me.

All three of these sweaters are from the same pattern, Yarny Days's Every Day Is a New Sweater Day. I can't say enough good things about this pattern. The the subtraction of the collar, the addition of scallops (as I did for the the Neapolitan), contrasting single crochet edging, flowers, more or fewer buttons, etc., completely changes the look of the sweater. It's just a wonderful pattern that's perfect for a novice sweater crocheter.

I used another Yarny Days pattern, Bombay Love, to make this yellow one. It's a shop sample for Knitting in the Loop. It's also a blast to crochet, and a very easy pattern.

Speaking of Knitting in the Loop, my friend Mishell and I had a little birthday gathering there. We have the same birthday, May 16, and the same middle name, so we're destined to celebrate together.

My sisters and my niece came. They are, left to right, Tish, Siyah, and Kale. I tell everyone I changed Kale's diapers, because I did, but I think now that she's in her 30s she'd like me to stop sharing that information.

Here are a few more party shots. The woman hugging Mishell in the first one is Judy Amonett, who owns Knitting in the Loop and has a wicked sense of humor and a heart of pure gold.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

it all started with number 19

Whuu! Whuu! Whu-whu-whu! That's me blowing the dust off this blog.

I have been having way too much fun for an unemployed person. I'm about to bring it to an end -- the unemployment, not the fun -- but while I've still got plenty of leisure time, I'm giving all my love to making things. Making things, and hanging around with other people who make things. Also, there's been the securing of new materials with which to make things, but that's the joy and the hazard of a part-time job at a yarn shop.

What I've had more time and opportunity to appreciate about Houston is that it lives up to its reputation as a friendly city. People take you in like a long-lost friend, and it's easy to forget you've been around for a relatively short period of time. This morning my neighbor took me to Pilates class. Afterward, at Starbucks, I was telling her how much I like Houston, and how, being from up north and having lived on both coasts, I'm often surprised by how fundamentally kind people are. I know lovely people and have beautiful friends everywhere I've been, but down here there's a concentration, and you don't have to develop an intimate relationship with a person to get the goods. "Endure the weather and love the people," my neighbor said. That pretty much sums it up (except the weather's been great this year too). It's better than the other way around.

I'm about to celebrate my second birthday in this fair city. One of my knitting friends has the same birthday (and the same middle name) as I do, May 16, and so there will be cake and merriment at the shop. I love my birthday. (I love anybody's birthday.) Whether I've been good or bad, I always get myself a gift. Two years ago my gift to myself was an iPod. This year I'm not rolling like that; something more humble, pricewise, was in order. I finagled Schmin and Mister Stevens into the Knitpicks Harmony set, which I hadn't even wanted until people at the shop kept moaning in ecstasy while using them. (Even the owner has a set. They were her first needles, and she uses them exclusively.) I need a food processor, but haven't done the homework to find the right one yet. Nothing else is on my list, but that's the fun of birthdays, isn't it? People give you things that are surprising and wonderful and you grow to treasure them, and it's also good to surprise yourself. It's the main occasion when I'll see something and not question whether I ought to have it. I give myself permission.

This year's gift all started with number 19. I bought my niece a used Kenmore sewing machine for her 11th birthday, which was last week, and I was tooling around the thrift store to find something suitable for her to keep its accessories in. I found something, then wandered over to the book section. I was there for a while, checking out this and that, when I came across a slender book titled Stitch by Stitch: A Home Library of Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, and Needlecraft. Like, hunh? Did this not have my name all over it? I do every single thing in the freakin' title.

Even though it said Home Library, it didn't dawn on me until I paid my dollar for the book and got it home that there were -- gasp -- others in the series. (Remember the last time this happened to me with a little collection of '70s craft books?) I was in possession of number 19, and whether there were 18 or 75 more, I would have the rest. Google revealed that Stitch by Stitch comes as a set of 20, and, as is typical with these old collections, people mostly sell them one by one. Determined as I was, I wouldn't pay 5 - 15 dollars each. Luckily, there was a complete set on good old eBay. The seller said it was in excellent condition. Lo, it came with its Master Index and bonus Stitch a Gift booklet. It also came with, be still my heart, a pile of paper patterns that were released with it. It was selling for 22.49 + 14. for shipping, which was very reasonable.

Although the seller sent them via Media Mail, they arrived quickly, and overall they're mint. I doubt the patterns were ever unfolded. I've been crocheting like hooks are about to disappear, so I'm particularly excited about the crochet lessons featured in each volume. I read a review (maybe on Amazon) that said there are hard-to-find techniques included.

I'm hoping Natalie will want to sew these evil twin outfits with me.

Another happy birthday rolls around. I feel blessed and fortunate. And, as ever, crafty.

Friday, April 02, 2010

chasing that high

I loved knitting this baby sweater the first time around. Though I rarely enjoy making the same thing more than once, I figured knitting this pattern again would induce a mildly comatose but highly warm and pleasant sensation akin to being high on Vicodin. But alas, no. By the time I hit the button band and seaming, little as there is, I completely lost interest and let the thing hang around unfinished. I knew how it was going to turn out; I'd already seen this movie.

The addition of the crocheted flower was a suggestion made by one of our regulars at the knitting shop, and it's my favorite thing. I'm still amazed that I can crochet anything. Hell, I'm still wondering who's doing all the writing, knitting, sewing, painting -- anything creative -- around here. I look at things that I've made and fall in love, but I don't associate myself with having made them. I sense it's a God thing (meaning some force creates through me/us), for those of you who might know this feeling. Does anyone know this feeling?

Anyhow, though early on I found myself over knitting it, it's very sweet, and I'm eager to send it to Ailey, the baby girl of a friend who is my friend through Mister Stevens. And so the sweater is off to motherless Brooklyn*, which is appropriate, seeing as I know the baby's dad, not her mom.

*I have not read this book, but I have a crush on the title. Same with Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona, which I have read and did find beautiful and moving.

I leave you with the devil paw of doom.

Note to Heather: Hello, friend! The granny square blanket, part of which you see in the photos, is about 1/3 joined. The rest of the squares cry out from my sewing room floor, and probably will for at least another month.

the girl i love

I finished a new baby sweater and had a quick photo shoot on the lawn just now. I'll be back to yap about the sweater, but I want to share this picture of mischievous Mira, who commandeered my makeshift set, and pounced on my props. It's hard to get good pictures of her, because of her color, and because she's maybe a little ... hyper.

She'll be two this summer. Life has grown infinitely more interesting and full since she's been around.

Monday, March 29, 2010

knitting is not a punishment; it's a privilege

This is making the knitting rounds
via Ravelry and all that, but I have to post it here. I adore CBS News Sunday Morning, which is where I saw this segment. Marry it with knitting, and I'm in deep.

Friday, March 19, 2010

eat this, not that

I'll tell you what. You know I just ate something good if I'm on here posting about it.

These days one of my main priorities is to eat well, which means more vegetables for one thing. The last couple of nights I've been using my little in-pot steamer to steam broccoli and cabbage that taste like big old forkfuls of responsibility. Not bad, those steamed veggies. Just not what you'd want to eat, more what you should eat. Tonight I decided roasting was in order, and I realized I'd never had roasted cabbage that I could recall. Roasting a cabbage seems so obvious, but odd at the same time. I asked my mother if it was okay to even attempt such a thing (read: I Googled "roasted cabbage"; I have come to think of Google as the mother I never had, one who gives wise advice on unlimited topics) and came up with a few simple steps. Where I would've gone wrong is in the cutting of the cabbage, which is best done in wedges, like this recipe. I don't eat pork, so I icksnayed the bacon. For seasoning I did sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I drizzled and rubbed on olive oil and let the cabbage cook for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees.

The result is hands down the absolute best cabbage I've ever eaten. Really, one of the absolute best anythings I've ever eaten. Roasting cabbage elevates it from cabbage to something as close to God as food comes.

Eat this, not that. That being anything else.

(Photos courtesy of Apartment Therapy's the kitchn.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

kind of about cars, but mostly about birds (with a cat along the way)

I'm happy you guys like the colors of my scarf. I'm making one for Natalie, but I have to rip it out because the consensus in my knitting group is that the colors I'm using don't work as well together. Oh well. You win some, and others you start again.

I haven't been knitting/crocheting much this week. Instead I've been focusing on life matters, and it's been a week of great relief and even joy.

Today the weather was so nice that after running errands I didn't want to be in the house; so I took Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed and sat in my car, in my driveway, and read.

I'm a big fan of sitting in the car, at home or in random parking lots. During break times at my old job, I'd drive to Vons Supermarket on 3rd and Vermont, sit in the lot and eat lunch or daydream. I don't rightly know why I'm drawn to hanging out in parked vehicles. Maybe the indoor/outdoor nature of being in a windowed box, a small, movable world, in private but in public simultaneously. It helps to have a sun roof. Then you feel like you're camping out.

At home there's only so much car camping I can do before nosy Mira comes around. She peeks in the sun roof, sometimes swiping at me, then treads on the windshields, leaving lots of paw prints to remember her by. Sometimes she'll jump in the car and act all trapped, scrambling to get out. I gripe, but I love this cat endlessly.

The view through the sun roof is what inspired this post. The sky was such a gorgeous blue, and there were these yellow birds I'd never noticed before filling up the tree branches above my house. (I barely know a cardinal from a crow; so if you can tell me what kind of bird these are, please do.)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

danke schon

This is a post to thank Stacy, Lisa G, Ellen, afrowalking, golden star, Summer, and woolanthropy. Some of you are my real-life friends, others I only know from this weird, wonderful Internet, but you're all so sweet to comment on my blog, even after I've left it alone for like ever, and you say the kindest, most uplifting things, and I love you for it.

That's what's really on my mind, but while I'm here I'll share a project.

You have to love crochet, because all you have to do is watch a little TV while you're doing it, and voila! instant scarf, or shawl, or baby sweater ... whatever. It's really fast, and since it uses more yarn than knitting, it gives you an excuse to buy more.

I crocheted this scarf from this pattern. I made it solely because I saw the brown (Lamb's Pride Cafe Au Lait) and green (Lamb's Pride Moss) yarns resting in their cubby at work, and believed with all my heart that they needed to be wed in a project. Even with maneuvering the stripes, the scarf only took a couple of days, working off and on, to complete.

Friday, February 26, 2010

i'm in the loop

Okay enough with the merry Christmas. It's February, for cryin' out loud.

I've been letting this blog sit because I'm not into chronicling my every fart; I like to post when there's movement on the knitting/crocheting/sewing/painting front -- some pretty thing to show and talk about. Or least when interesting things are happening. I lost my job at the end of December, and things just didn't look very interesting after that. It wasn't losing that particular job that proved a downer. It was having to dig down deep and find, at 43, the fortitude to pursue the things that are really important to me, like writing. I'm still digging, but I see gold at the bottom of the well.

In the meantime, I got a new part-time job, because it's good to have at least a semblance of a schedule. My new job is an "in-betweener," something to do while applying for work in my field. I started today, and I hesitate to call it work. My job warrants a post, because it's here:

(There's an adorable tiny Natalie on the porch because we took these pictures on one of her visits. I borrowed them from her blog. Thanks, Natalie.)

Knitting in the Loop, Houston's brightest, loveliest knitting store. Probably the worst possible place for a yarnaholic like me to work. (I like cake too, which is why you'd never catch me working at a bakery.) But the staff is ever so nice, the yarn selection is wonderful, and there's a steady stream of regulars who like to come sit and knit. Several of them belong to the knitting group I attend on Thursday mornings; so friends drop in all the time.

I told Judy, the store's owner, that she might as well go ahead and pay me in yarn. I'll need a part-time job to pay for this part-time job, yeesh. If you've never been in a knitting store when a fresh shipment of yarn arrives, you're missing a spectacle. It's like watching piranhas attack a steak. One of my tasks today was to put price tags on yarn. It would've been easy enough if my hands didn't keep fondling every hank I was supposed to price. And has anyone noticed how accessories keep getting cuter? My, my, my. I've got my eye on a little sheep that functions as a scissors fob. Retardedly unnecessary, but one is sure to follow me home.

If ever you should find yourself in Houston, now you know where to find yarn (and me).