Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ba-Rock Star

It looks like there is mega love for Barack Obama in the south Asian community in the US. Really, how else would you explain this, um, artistic tribute?

If you're curious about the Hindi lyric, it has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or politics. It's a goofy love song where the guy wants clandestine trysts with his lady love. Don't look at me! As if Bollywood makes sense? It's just hugely entertaining. :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There has been knitting!

I have historically been very bad about documenting my knits. Since I resumed knitting seriously in 2004(?) I've been pretty productive, but there isn't a lot of photo-documentation to show for it. Since I started a blog this year, it's probably going to motivate me to capture in pixels what has already been wrought in stitches. Next step- to stop lurking on Ravelry and post some stuff!

These mittens were my first FO of 2008. Last year for my friend Melody's birthday I knit her a pair of Fetching in burgundy Cashmerino Aran. And what can I say, I created a monster. :) As is all too common once people wear handknits, she can't get enough! This year for her birthday, at her request, I knit these cozy felted mitts out of Manos del Uruguay. Melody bought the yarn for me, and this was my first experience with it. It was a quick and fun knit, and a nice break from tiny needle socks.

Here they are pre-felting:

And post:

As you can tell, she absolutely loves them. The pattern (which I recommend) is from Bev Galeskas' "Felted Knits", though the book is a bit of a let-down because it does not have the famous felted clogs pattern.

Anyway, Melody likes her mitts so much that she's now requested a gaiter. She bought yet more Manos, and is certainly helping ensure that Coldwater Collaborative continues to stay profitable.

Now if I can only persuade Melody to buy yarn for me for all my other projects, I'll be all set.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Towards more picturesque speech

If you know me at all, you know how I love language. I speak quite a few fluently, though this is not as impressive as it sounds; after all I grew up in India. Over a score of official languages, thousands of dialects, and as unendingly interesting as a crazy quilt. The thing is that though my mother tongue (defined as such by the fact that both my parents spoke it) is Tamil, I am nowhere as proficient in Tamil as I am in English. In every sense, though I am Indian born and raised, English has always been and will always be my first language.

It's not that I don't feel a pang of regret that I only read Tamil with difficulty and don't know enough of its grammar to write it at all. Maybe someday I'll even try to remedy this. But as a first language English is so wild, so crazy, so fascinating, so ever-changing, and need I mention so damned useful; that on the whole I'm jolly glad I'm very proficient in it.

My Monday mornings are made more endurable by reading my word of the day, and the always
entertaining AWADmail, with contributions from AWAD readers. Today brought this gem:

"English is the product of a Saxon warrior trying to make a date with an Angle bar-maid, and as such is no more legitimate than any of the other products of that conversation." H. Beam Piper in "Fuzzy Sapiens"

Now isn't that the most picturesque speech you've encountered all day?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poetry Friday

Friday is my favorite day of the week. I don't know about you, but for me the anticipation is often more deliciously to be savored than the payoff. The weekend goes by in a blip, but Friday...aah, Friday is all about the anticipation.

I thought maybe I'd savor Friday a little more with poetry- this week, and hopefully in the weeks to come. Today's knitterly haikus come courtesy of the redoubtable Tata and Tatao. I assume they are two people, and they have a great site- what little of it I can read. Hopefully one day it will all be translated. If you scroll all the way down in the navigation panel you'll see "Short Poems (575)." For the impatient, here are those little 5-7-5 gems. As always, click to view large.

Today's cold winds are blowing me towards my stash- an aspiring yarn shop itself. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Minnesotans button top button

This morning it was 12 below in the Twin Cities. BRRR! Time to button that top button. To see what happens when it gets warmer or colder, check out The Annotated Thermometer.

Speaking of Minnesota, here is something interesting that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) had to say recently:
"I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We're the workingest (sic) state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs."

Wow, Ms. Bachmann, kudos! First, for inventing a word; and second, for understanding what you should be proud of. People working more, working longer, two and three dead-end jobs, earning less money- isn't that what your pro-family values are all about? Making sure people spend less time with their family because they're "workinger" to make ends meet?

Lest we forget, Ms. B herself works a 3 day week, gets 4 months paid vacation, and makes about $169,300 a year. And no, she doesn't work the late shift flipping burgers at a fast-food place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pause to ponder

How did you get to work today? Did you drive your car? Were you the only person in it? Did you take the bus? If you live in a milder clime, did you bike?

At the 2008 Auto Expo in New Delhi Tata Motors, who may soon own the Jaguar brand, unveiled "The People's Car" in India. The Nano costs $2500 and promises about 50 mpg. This set off a frenzy of discussion on the designindia yahoo group about the ramifications for India. Now perhaps everyone will be able to afford a car, and will not dangle precariously from the sides of buses. No longer will women sit side-saddle behind their husbands on scooters, clutching a baby in the bargain. But what about the pollution? The traffic? There's no room on Indian streets for more bicycles, let alone matter how compact. There was lively talk about how mass transportation is the only option.

There really are no ready answers. Mira Kamdar, in her piece in the Washington Post mentions how she talked recently with an Indian college student. The student tells her that the industrialized world has enjoyed conveniences such as air conditioning and good transportation. Now it's time for developing nations to enjoy them too, and they're told "Sorry you can't, it's too late now". She quotes the student, "You won't reduce your consumption, and you tell us we can't increase ours." If you stop for a minute and put yourself in this girl's shoes, you really can see her point.

It seems like such an insurmountable task that it's tempting to just throw up one's hands and say an individual can't make a difference. But surely every little bit will help. I have the luxury of telecommuting every day. But perhaps if you ask your employer they may let you work from home one or two days a week. You could try to consolidate your errands. Instead of driving everywhere and then making time to go to the gym, perhaps you could walk or bike to the grocery store or the post office. It would be a start.

Since a picture is always worth a thousand words, I leave you with this visual to ponder. Be sure to click for a bigger view.

Monday, January 14, 2008

An embarrassment of riches

These are the knitting books I have currently on my nightstand. Top to bottom: Son of Stitch n Bitch, Itty-Bitty Nursery, Knitting for Him, Knitting Lingerie Style, The Best of Interweave Knits, Amazing Crochet Lace (token crochet book), The Natural Knitter, Boho Baby Knits, Romantic Hand Knits, More Sensational Knitted Socks, Knitting Classic Style, Chic Knits for Stylish Babies, Nature babies, Knitknit, New Knits on the Block and The Elegant Knitter. Phew!

As you can see, they're all checked out from the library. I'm very discerning when it comes to buying books, not to mention unable to afford all the books I read. I test drive most books from the libe before I decide to buy. And I have a neat little "found money" system for buying books. I use my credit card to pay my phone, cable, DirecTV and other bills- so I get some effortless cash back. When I get $20 cash I can trade it in for a $25 Borders gift card. Sweet. This is how to make the system work for you. But please, don't try this if you don't plan to pay your credit card in full each month!

But back to the books. Wow, is it me, or has there been an absolute explosion in knitting books lately? Is it because everybody is trying to cash in on the craze while it lasts? Or do you think it's not a passing fad? And that everyone who's seriously knitting today is going to continue, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of the stereotypical knitting grandma (or grandpa)? I'm really curious to know what everyone thinks.

Having an 8 month old at home, I'm naturally drawn to the baby books. Boho Baby is a winner- it has at least 5 things I want to knit, which is my definition of a book worth buying. I really like the knitted baby book- small, controlled attempts at intarsia- woot! It made me think of The Book of Knitty which I now have a crazy desire to make. I have a little fiberphile in the house, so really, it's not that crazy on closer examination.

Knitknit is the best coffee table book on knitting I have come across. Really beautifully produced, with some designers I greatly admire. I'm definitely going to buy.

Entertaining, but not on the to-buy list- Knitting Lingerie Style and Romantic Hand Knits. They don't fulfil the 5 pattern minimum. I need to count once more before a final verdict on Knitting Classic Style. But I totally love the argyle socks. If I do knit the bevy of socks for the huz, this pair will be one of them.

Complete bust, at least as far as I'm concerned- Son of SnB. My guy is a conservative dresser and he didn't care for most of the patterns. Oddly enough, he didn't mind the crocheted sweater. I don't have crochet skills of that magnitude though. Knitting for Him met with a similar lukewarm response- with the exception of the Cricket Sweater. And he plays ping pong! Go figure. :)

The Best of Interweave was unexpected. It seemed like the majority of patterns were from the last few years, when from all accounts the glory days of IK were when Melanie Falick was at the helm. I think it's a good buy, though, if you are brand new to knitting and IK.

With all this reading, is any knitting happening? Yes indeed- a pair of socks, a baby hat, some newly completed pre-felting mittens, and a secret gift project. Stay tuned. There will be pics, I promise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

When I first heard Michael Pollan on "Fresh Air", it was a driveway moment. I got The Omnivore's Dilemma, and, um, devoured it. What he was saying really resonated with me- the person who still craves the rich flavor of tough, scrawny Indian chicken after a decade of living in the US.

When I first moved here I was struck by how cauliflowers and peppers were individually priced at the grocery store. 2 for $0.99. Astonishingly, they were pretty identical in terms of size, shape and weight, so the pricing model actually made sense. They looked beautiful too- waxed and polished, bright, stacked so neatly, and enormous. What good value! Alas, those firm tomatoes lacked flavor, the peppers the piquancy of my beloved Indian "capsicum". This was industrial agriculture in all its glory- food grown in massive quantities, bred to look good and travel cross-country, be as uniform as if pressed out of molds, and stripped of its very essence. And then there were the tubs of ice-cream. I'd never seen containers that big in my life.

But, before long I too had succumbed. Too busy to cook, I was. How easy to get something out of the freezer, microwave it for 5 minutes, and done. Something Michael Pollan said on Talk of the Nation (yep, NPR junkie, guilty as charged) made me sit up. He's promoting his new book In Defense Of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. He said that we have time to watch tons of cooking shows on TV, and no time to cook. How about we take some of that watching time, and spend it cooking? What a novel idea.

And so I made cauliflower with fennel seeds.

Simple, quick, flavorful, and from scratch. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Darn these socks!

I'm guessing that though Opal is a prolific knitter (thousands of sweaters, by her own admission), she didn't knit those socks for Earl. I don't know about you, but I'd darn handknit socks to within an inch of their lives before I'd throw them away.

My husband has a big milestone birthday this year and I'm telling myself I can knit him six pairs of socks by December (one sock for each month of the year). With my full time paid job and full time unpaid job (aka Mommy), is this completely delusional?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baby Zen

An effective antidote to the stress of modern life is to hang out with a baby. Seriously.

Babies live completely in the moment. Give them a toy and they are completely absorbed in it. Show them another, and that becomes their new focus, the old one forgotten. They wouldn't know multi-tasking if it bit them in the butt.

Tiny zen masters- babies. They know the wisdom of "When sitting, sit. When standing, stand. Above all, don't wobble."

Well, at least until they try to walk.