Monday, August 18, 2008

Hope chests, WIP wrestling & secret agent man

I've been crafty since I was pretty little, and when I was young and feeling unappreciated, I used to dream about making a hope chest for my (hypothetical) wedding. I swore I'd fill it with gorgeously stitched linens, a handmade veil and wedding dress, those fancy lace wedding hankies that you convert into christening caps for babies, etc. etc. ad nauseum. (Kindly ignore the fact that I have never seen a table cloth without spilling something on it. I was darn well going to make them anyhow.) Of course I wasn't expecting to meet Tejas and get at my wedding I had NOTHING handmade, not a single stitch (except a hankie with an edging my grandma's grandma made. Nothing made by me, anyhow). I have no handstitched linens, not so much as a kitchen towel or pillowcase. Until this year, I had only a couple of handknit items. (What is wrong with me? I give everything away when I make it, that's what.)

When Tejas heard about the tradition of hope chests, he got all excited and thought I should start one...not for a wedding but for kidlets. (Don't anybody get excited. We do want them, but don't hold your breath.) So I did! Well, I haven't got a chest yet, but I do have stuff to go in it, and to whit: one very fancy stranded baby hat, one cabley baby jacket (needs a few more buttons sewn on), one soft and snuggly cotton baby blanket (needs ends woven in). I'm determined that by the time we get around to having kidlets, I'll have at least one sweater in every size, plus some hats and socks and pants and stuff. And lots of blankies, because I loved my blankies when I was little. This'll give me a chance to make really nice baby things, since we all know how long I take to knit anything complicated.

On the subject of slow knitting...not that I committed to anything, but I'm following along in the spirit of WIP wrestling, for a while at least. (I'm ornery enough that if I commit to it, I'll immediately lust after some new project.) In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll list my sad and sorry litany of WIPS in the sidebar (some are barely started, some just need ends woven in). But this weekend, I made a good start! I finished finished FINISHED Kashmir and finished knitting the crayon blankie (still needs ends woven in, blah), and made a big dent in a second sock that's been lingering for a couple years. Next up: more socks. Socks for all! (Socks for Christmas, anyway. I want some Christmas gifts done so I can go knit myself another sweater, hehehe. This knitting-for-me business is fun!)


In other news, we have a neighbor who likes to practice "Secret Agent Man" on his electric guitar. I have nothing against practicing. I also have played the same song 20,000 times in an attempt to get the darn thing to sound right. However, I did NOT play it 20,000 times using an amplifier cranked up to high so the entire city could hear me. (Also, when I sing, I generally try to sing in tune. Or at least, if I sing out of tune, I try not to do it on the microphone. Who practices on a live mike, anyhow? Crazy.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First anniversary

"It feels like a lifetime--no, I don't mean that. I mean it feels as if we'd always been married."
"So we have--from the foundation of the world--"
--Dorothy Sayers, Busman's Honeymoon

In the spirit of countless What I Did Over Summer Break school essays, here is What I Have Learned In One Year Of Marriage:
--You can strew any amount of yarn around the house and even leave needles on the bed and get nothing harsher than a fond smile, as long as you maintain an attitude of cheerful mischief
--Ditto for housework and not doing it
--Once the boy gets into the habit of eating homecooked lunch and dinner, though, they're sacred. Ignore the lunchbox at your peril. He will eat canned tuna and give you puppy eyes.
--If any flat surface in the house (coffee table, futon, dresser top...) is absolutely clean and unbesmirched by the presence of any object whatsoever, it will remain so indefinitely. But twenty seconds after you place so much as a single envelope atop that surface, it will be totally buried in clutter
--Only girls think bathrooms need to be cleaned or towels washed regularly
--But socks worn to bed are icky, even if you need them because it's winter and you're too stingy/green to turn on the heat
--If, when faced with a job of housework half-done by your husband and waiting pathetically to be finished (by you), you merely smile, do the other half and thank him profusely...he will eventually learn how to do the other half of his own accord. And he will swear to his friends and family that you are a very sweet girl with no temper at all (ha!)
--A boy (my boy anyway) will actually watch wildly romantic movies with you, and like them, as long as they are disguised as mysteries.
--Organic veggies and fruits are too expensive to consider at the supermarket, but if you take your husband to the farmer's market, he will happily buy them for you. And swear they're ten times better than the normal kind. Furthermore, he will sign you up for a CSA.
--Ditto strawberries, especially if you make jam.
--The more earnestly he protests that you don't need to learn how to cook his favorite foods because he can have them when he's visiting his folks, the happier he'll be when you manage to produce them.
--If you manage to break your (gold) mangalsutra on your anniversary after wearing it faithfully every day for a year, he'll tell you not to worry, you're sure to break lots more of them before you're through, he'll get it fixed next time he goes home, and maybe he should get you a couple of inexpensive gold-plated ones to wear for everyday so you don't have to get upset if you break one and can't find all the pieces. Oh, you found them all? Then it'll be easy to fix.
--Even if he only wears handknit socks around the house on winter evenings, he still wants a goodly portion of your sockknitting efforts. It's a measure of how much you love him (or something).
--A button sewn back on a shirt will count almost as much as a pair of socks, though. Especially if you iron the shirt afterwards.
--All your ideas about what sort of clothes are most attractive on you are probably wrong. That black dress your mom says makes you look slug-belly white? Perfect. And the folk dress with twenty yards of fabric that you wore for the dance performance? Sexiest outfit ever!
--The correct answer to "Am I going bald/gaining weight/snoring?" is "What?! Are you crazy?" :)
--He will politely admire each and every beanlet and baby tomato and pepper and squash growing in your little box on the balcony, but he'll only get excited when he gets to eat them. Pointing out the prices for organic cherry tomatoes will also produce enthusiasm, particularly if you can manage to get your plant to produce a pint of them at once (try forgetting to water it).
--No matter how mushy and sentimental you can get, an Indian boy can out-mush and out-sentiment you any day. It's in their blood or something.
--Once you're married, he won't bring you flowers anymore.
--But he will spoil you like crazy from day to day, and tell you that he loves you at the oddest moments, like when he's about to go to work and you're still curled under the covers with only your nose sticking out.
--If you don't formally declare that a trip is your honeymoon, then it doesn't count. Therefore, never declare that you're going on your honeymoon, and it doesn't have to end. :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Pictures at last! (Well, non-crafty pictures anyhow. MIL is still here and I still have qualms about snapping photos of crafty things in front of her, though I don't know why since she & FIL found the craft photo file on my computer and insisted on looking through the whole thing. And they didn't disown me for being crazy. :) )

Tejas is OFFICIALLY DONE!! Wahoo!! (I graduated too, but it was just my master's. Not nearly as cool. I prefer to bask in the reflected glory of his degree. :) )

The view driving into Yosemite valley. I swear we stopped every five feet to go "oooooh!" and pile out of the car and take pictures.

The bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls. We had a great time scrambling up the rocks to get closer (and the mist felt lovely on the 97 degree day!)

We particularly liked the lush green water meadows! At 4 pm on Saturday there was a big thunderstorm, and the temperature dropped more than 40 degrees in half an hour as the rain poured. It was lovely to watch the rain sheeting off the rocks and trickling into the meadows. I love how green things almost glow in the rain! (Picture from later, in the sunlight, alas.)

The picture postcard view of the valley.

In other news, Tejas' mom taught me to make bakri! (Little flatbreads made from millet flour. They tell me bakris are "farmer food," but I like them best of all the flatbreads I've had. Tejas likes them too.) Now it's my job to make them every night till I go home to Portland, to make sure the lesson sticks. :) I'm happy about this because I really need to learn to make rotis (flatbreads they usually eat, made from wheat) but Tejas has told me horror stories about how hard they are to make. I'm hoping bakris will be a good midway thing to learn so that I won't burn down the kitchen attempting my first batch of rotis!

Also: I so need a vacation. I'm really looking forward to going home for a few days, though I'll miss Tejas a lot. Travels to Yosemite etc. do not really count as vacation when one travels on a single weekend without missing a day of work. In fact, they kind of make things worse, because one still has to clean the bathroom/cook stuff for lunches/get groceries/do laundry/whatever, and the weekend is'll be really nice to go home and NOT BE RESPONSIBLE for anything. I'll do dishes or whatever my mom likes, but it will be completely voluntary and NOT MY JOB. (!) I'm also pretty fed up with labby stuff right now (hello, defrost of every freezer known to mankind, holding all our most precious irreplaceable research tools)--am hoping a couple days off will help me regain the will to work. (Productivity this week = not so much. Sigh.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

100% handmade with love :)

Yosemite is lovely! (Pics to come soon..have to sort through the eleventy billion snapshots we took. :) ) This was Tejas' and my first time there, though his mom had been once before. Love love loved it, despite the hordes of daytrippers. It's the sort of landscape that makes you want to pack a bag with necessities and hoof it into the mountains, headed for the glacier in the distance, and to heck with civilization. Luckily we managed to quash that urge, but Tejas and I decided (foolishly?) that we HAVE to go back in the fall or late summer and camp, and hike up Half Dome. Wahoo! :)

In other news, I have officially corrupted his mom. She used to do all sorts of sewing and embroidery (much much finer than anything I can do. I take off my hat to anyone who sews her own sari blouses--those things have no room for mistakes!) but gave it up when her kids were in school. When she came this year, I gave her a couple of embroidered hankies that Tejas had asked me to make, and she was reminiscing about what she used to I hauled out the ol' embroidery thread box and some fabric scraps and left them strategically on the table, "just in case." Before long she was stitching little bits when we were away working, "to see if I remember the stitches" snowballed. By this time she's filled a whole quarter yard of cloth with pictures, decorated a hankie for me (I'm the lucky one, lalalalalal! have to gloat a little :) ) and asked me to rummage for more fabric. Then last night she happened across one of my iron-on patterns and I showed her how to use it, and five minutes later she was gleefully pressing small kitties onto scrap fabric and letting herself be persuaded to take some iron-ons when she goes home next week! Until yesterday night she always said that she wouldn't have time at home to sew and she didn't want to take any thread or anything home. Last night, Tejas convinced her (didn't take much convincing ;) ) that we should pay a visit to JoAnn's and put together a little kit for her...just in case there's anything she needs that she can't get from my stash, and if she wants more press-on patterns. Mwahahaha...looks like my work is done! (She's also said she wants her mom to teach her to knit when she goes back, so I'm going to get some of those kid's needles with one red and one blue for her, and send her back with a couple balls of lovely soft handpainted wool from my stash!)

The other crafty thing I did last night was to make her a little sachet of lavender to put with her clothes in the rainy season. She loves the little lavender plant on our balcony--every time we go out there she crushes some of the leaves to smell them--and has asked if we can find some seeds so she can try growing one back home. So I've been clipping and drying little bundles of lavender all summer, and last night I sewed a little bag out of scraps of fabric and ribbon, then stuffed the dried lavender inside and sewed it up. Our whole kitchen smelled lovely and cool while I stuffed it--I'm so proud of that fat, lumpy little sachet! It's 100% homemade.

(We've had a total of five cherry tomatoes off my sungold tomato plant now! And there are blooms on my beans and tiny little peppers on my hot and not-hot pepper plants. I'm proud of them too! It almost makes up for my research going kinda badly. I'm trying to convince myself that I don't care--I have a wonderful husband and fun domestic things to play with at home, and it's not like I want a high-flying career anyway, so there's not a lot to worry about. I'm still kinda depressed though, even though my advisor SWEARS to me it will all be all right and he'll make sure I graduate in a reasonable amount of time and get a job and all, and I pretty much believe him. Think I'll go home and plough through some knitting to cheer myself up.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Zoo animal

Tejas' graduation is this weekend! He's been out of school and working for a couple of months now, but it's still exciting. There are only two reasons I'm not really excited about this weekend:
1. I have to meet the members of my reading committee (profs who will judge my thesis, if I ever have one) on Friday and next Tuesday. They are scary people and have schedules such that they will not be here at the same time as my advisor for more than a year, so I have to meet them alone, without my advisor to tell them to leave me alone if they get nasty. shiver I'm telling myself that my advisor is happy with me so there's not much they can do other than make me feel bad for an hour or two, but still...
2. Either Tejas' brother and sis-in-law will not come to graduation, in which case he will be sad, or they will come, and either get into a huge argument with his parents, or his sis-in-law will spend the whole couple hours cutting us dead and making snippy remarks. (I don't know why she has decided to hate us, but she apparently has.) It's not so much that I can't take the drama as that I lose patience with them fast and really want to smack them upside the head and say, You're grown adults! Act like it for once!

All my results in lab are weird. My advisor is really excited about this--something weird might mean something new, right?--but I'm at the point where I really just want something to work the way I think it should. Anything. Come on, flying spaghetti monster!

To retain my sanity while Tejas' folks are staying with us--well, let me say first that I really like his parents, I do. They are very nice folks and treat me like their own daughter, and his dad is amazingly openminded about having a crazy American for a daughter-in-law, considering that he's pretty conservative--to retain my sanity, I have spent a fair amount of time lately petting yarn and staring at the stash and knitting. The problem is not that his folks are visiting, but that they are visiting for a long time (mom = 2 months, dad = 12 days), and that his dad is the sort of person who can't amuse himself for even five minutes. His mom is pretty good about recognizing that occasionally a girl needs some quiet time. His dad, though... I go home with my brain all worn out and get poked at in Marathi and sometimes (if I'm too tired or stupid to understand Marathi, which happens pretty regularly) in English. Poke. Poke. Poke poke poke poke poke. His dad is an old-style patriarch and expects constant attention and deference. He is very very nice....but I am beginning to feel like a zoo animal. Or maybe a circus bear. Aaaagh!

(I have to say, though, I baked a cake for him special--he likes sweets--the day after he got here, forgetting that he doesn't eat eggs (the list of what-not-to-feed-who in this family makes me slightly woozy), and he ate it anyway. Even though he saw me putting the eggs in.)

My little garden on the balcony is coming along nicely! I'm pretty amazed that it hasn't shriveled up and died. My tomato plant has tomatoes!! In my earthbox I have: one sungold cherry tomato (she of the bountiful amounts of small unripe green tomatoes. I am fond of my sungold), one supersweet 100 cherry tomato (blooming), one Thai hot pepper plant (lots of flowers. I have high hopes), one Hungarian slow food international heirloom pepper plant (one baby pepper and one blossom, meh), several pole bean plants (mostly tendril so far. don't they need leaves??) and cilantro in various stages. Tejas says if I get useful produce this year, next year he'll buy me another box, hurray!! (I mostly just like messing about with dirt. Yup, still three years old at heart.)

Currently quite annoyed at my Kashmir sweater, though underneath I really still love it. (It's so pretty! And so complicated!) I am 1/2 of the way through the sweater, and I'm pretty sure I'll run out of both contrast colors at 3/4. I'm going to have to order more yarn. Grrrrrrr! I even ordered the recommended amounts! But it was spendy (colorwork sweater, y'know. and superwash) so I didn't get the extra ball of each like I usually do. I think I'll get TWO extra balls of each, and one of the red I'm using for the edging, and have MORE THAN ENOUGH! I'll knit a hat or something out of the extra. Or really warm socks for my Alaska relatives. Grargh. (Thank goodness for my yarn fund. Tejas, I love you. :) ) On the other hand, the sight of the enormous pile of Falk yarn transmogrifying into sweater is very gratifying.

I'm feeling a bit restless and annoyed with knitting recently. I think it's because I've been knitting-to-order: the Kashmir sweater is based on a borrowed pattern, so I have to give it back in another five or six weeks, which is a bit tight; I have requests from various family members for different objects, so those are pressing on my conscience; and I started a big Afghans for Afghans project that I need to send in in July. Meanwhile, I think what I would really like to knit is socks. Big, colorful, complicated cable and lace socks. I've been taking the edge off by winding sock yarn, inserting small quick stash projects when I get sick to death of my other knitting, and trying to knit up some UFO fancy socks and plain socks, and just in general clean up the stash. I've promised myself that when I finish a couple of big things, I can buy some Really Nice Sock Yarn and make myself a pair or two of really pretty socks. And actually keep them instead of giving them away! My plan of attack for the give-it-aways is to buy a pair of mary jane shoes. Then I will need pretty socks to show off, no? :)

(I also--sneakily--made a scarf from my sister's extra special handspun and started a pair of knee socks from swap yarn & pattern. A girl has to do something when she feels like a zoo animal. Do not speak to me of project monogamy.)

P.S. I meant to post pictures of Kashmir, my spiffy new scarf and the glorious veggie tub, but lost my nerve in front of the in-laws. There will be pictures...eventually.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

FINISHED at last! :)

Here we have Tejas' (last-) Christmas vest, FINALLY finished! I knit it from DK weight on size three needles in the hope that very tight gauge would save it from destruction for a few years. It is all stockinette except the ribbed borders, and it nearly killed me. ;) Especially because it was an extremely fly-by-night pattern, made up by yours truly as I went along. With steeks. There's no going back with steeks. You have no idea how amazed I am that this vest actually looks nice! (Tejas has worn it every chilly day since, thereby ensuring I'll forget the horrors of endless red stockinette and knit him another one.) His thesis defense is tomorrow--everybody wish him good luck!!

Next up we have the collection I sent to Afghans for Afghans:
I saw from their statistics that they got fewer mittens and socks than anything else, so I'll concentrate on making those next time around. And guess what--they had drawings for prizes where you got an entry for everything you sent in, and I WON A PRIZE!! It's the kit for the Chantal sweater. I'm so excited! :) :) :)

I also FINALLY finished the gloves to go with my under-bike-helmet tam, just in time too--my fingers were getting numb riding to the lab in the mornings. They aren't heavy gloves, but they're just right for bike riding.

WARNING: If you don't want even a glimpse of what might be your Christmas present, don't read beyond this point. I won't identify what's for whom, but since I'm pretty much exclusively knitting Christmas stuff at this point, I am going to show it.

Marrakesh socks:

Monkey socks:

Monday, October 1, 2007

  • I'm switching projects. This is both good (my advisor says my new project is a good solid bet that will get me a thesis, which should decrease my panickiness somewhat. My old project was interesting, but very new and very in need of troubleshooting, and I kind of felt like it would take me 12 years to graduate. If I ever managed it) and bad (because I'm the sort of stupid guilt-prone dork who thinks she needs to perfectly finish everything she starts. You'd think knitting would have taught me otherwise).
  • I'm taking a Hindi class, which I probably really shouldn't (no time) but really wanted to (soooooo sick of going to parties and not understanding a word. Also, I figure the grammar is probably pretty similar to that of Marathi, and Marathi has me totally confused. This has to help). Tejas has been faithfully helping me with pronunciation and critiquing my handwriting of the script...and when he gets bored, teaching me to say off-color things. I'm trying NOT to remember them so my teacher won't smack me.
  • I did two pull-ups in a row last week! Sadly, Tejas says I don't get a piece of cake each time I add a pull-up. That was only for the first one. So my motivation is suffering some.
  • I'm also taking my advisor's class. It's going to be a hard quarter, what with the new project and all. Sigh.
  • Particularly since the Hindi class is at night so I have to go to the gym in the morning. 6:45 a.m. = bad when you also run the tango club, aka "let's see how late in the night we can dance. Hey, you can't leave, you're the president!"
  • I'm giving everybody socks for Christmas. This is because I have no imagination and also crave sock knitting, which I can do while reading mindless stuff like histories of Byzantium and Asterix comics and The Hobbit. The more science I have to do, the more I want to read mindless stuff and knit socks.
  • And I'm going to post pictures of all of them on this blog too (though I won't tell you who they're for). Otherwise I shall have nothing to show except Afghans for Afghans stuff.
  • This week I made Indian-style fried okra, stuffed eggplants, and bitter gourd, and they were all actually edible! Though not as good as Tejas' mom's. Our wedding present from his brother and sis-in-law was a food processor, and it is my new favorite toy. I played with it yesterday and was highly chuffed to find that it quietly, effortlessly shreds an entire daikon radish in about twenty seconds, thus removing a major hurdle in the path to making mooli curry, which Tejas loves. (All that daikon-grating...the mind is willing but the flesh is weak, y'know?) Not to mention chopping up garlic and fresh ginger and onions. And I made pesto sauce. Just because I could. Love you, food processor!
  • Tejas kept telling me not to buy bitter gourd at India Cash & Carry because I'd never made them before and he didn't want them anyway (but I bought two because they're so cute. They look like dinosaur mice!). Then when I made them--both of them--he ate all but one teaspoonfull. I ask you. Next time I'm buying more! One can never have too many dinosaur mice. :)