Monday, January 26, 2009

Hardly tabla rasa

I heard someone, somewhere, say that Inauguration Day would be like January 1st all over again: it starts from here.

But I like how my pastor, on the Sunday prior to Inauguration Day, prayed for both then-outgoing President Bush and President-elect Obama.  As historical as this election has been, and as unprecedented as the first week's Executive orders have been, it's important to remember that the slate doesn't get wiped clean simply because Obama is President.  He enters office in the midst of many complicated and ongoing domestic and international issues.  And even as one who is not entirely sure at all about "how it works" in Washington's political machine and culture, I am sure that no huge changes will happen overnight:  Gitmo's not gonna close tomorrow, our troops in Iraq won't be pulled out anytime soon, the economy's not gonna bounce back immediately.

I don't mean to sound like such a downer.  In fact, I do have a lot of hope.  Though I don't see the start of Obama's administration as Day One, I do see it as a new chapter, starting on a new page.  And at this new chapter, I am finding myself reading about policies, appointments, and, yes, even First Lady and First Daughters fashion, with much interest--despite past failed attempts to become politically aware.

I think that a huge part of this is that, more than any other world leader in recent history, the Obama family is one in which the people can really see themsleves, from J.Crew to BlackBerry to blogging.  That's pretty cool.  Another part of it, for me,  is that I'm now soundly in my 30s:  working, living, paying off debt and forking up taxes all on my own.  And I feel that what's happening in my city, my state, my country, and around the world affects me more--and more immediately--than they did even just two years ago.  That's cool, too.

So I join a lot of my fellow Americans in a sigh of relief:  it's over, he's inaugurated, it's begun, he's at work--he's our President.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What cold spell?

Last December we experienced a few weeks of cold weather that brought early (and awesome, according to my snowboarding brothers) snow, killed by little basil plant, and had us Californians digging out and grasping for cold weather accoutrements--coats, scarves, hats, gloves--like nobody's business.

As I scrambled around, I discovered that I have nary a knitted item of my own with which to keep warm!  Just a Clapotis scarf from October 2005; and a pair of fingerless mittens in garter stitch, from my first *real* knitting book (M. Falick's Weekend Knitting)--although, unfortunately--knitted in acrylic yarn (before I realized Michael's was not the sole source of knitting materials).  Sad, huh?

2009 first projectI pondered this while working on my first cast-on project of 2009: a pair of convertile mittens for my older brother.  They're pictured here basking in a moment of sweet sunshine during which I scampered downstairs to have lunch outside.

And then I decided.  2009, instead of being a year of finishing up any WIPs (there are loads!), will be a year of Knitting For Me.  To that end, it's my goal to get set up properly on Ravelry (though I can't make a full commitment to that as I'm still learning how to blog!).  Which shouldn't be too hard, since I reorganized my stash a few months ago.  Though it may entail learning how to make a light box for the photo shoots.  [Suddenly, it's a huge project...]

I'm already always caught up in the wealth of information available on Ravelry.  I'd really like to knit (instead of dream or talk about):  a sweater (Sideways-knit Cable Sweater, Urban Aran, Forecast?  Or maybe I'll frog and re-knit my two failed attempts (Apricot Jacke & Spring Fling)); knee-high socks; Chevalier Mittens; and a hat (Felicity [pdf], Urchin, Morgan, Trinity Stitch Beret, Selbu Modern[pdf]?).

But in the midst of my reveling and researching, and despite having opened up my email to headlines of a frigid wave sweeping the northern Midwest states to New England, and as far south as th Gulf Coast, we here in California have been hit with a spurt of record highs!

atop angels flight

lunchin in sun

Off are the stockings, sleeves, and sportcoats!  This is the scene from today's lunch: clear blue skies and people enjoying things "back to normal."

Me?  I will persevere in my knitting nevertheless.  The convertible mittens are almost done, and I'm setting my sights on the next project.  Onwards, and happy knitting!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy "moo" year!

It's the Year of the Ox (or Cow), and (one of) the cultural tradition(s) to which I adhere allows me until the end of this month to send New Year's cards. *sigh of relief* Finding New Year's cards is not so easy, especially those with the zodiac, so I kinda end up making my own.

2008 nengajyo
[year of the rat cards]

Last year's cards were cutouts on origami paper.  I enjoyed the entire process, from conceptualizing to making a prototype to refining to executing.  However, they involved a lot of time with x-acto knife and glue.  A fun project, but intensely specific, insanely messy.

This year I wanted a project that was less time-consuming in the making.  I envisioned a cool, mod-looking, retro-ish design, paired with a clever saying...But do you ever have projects that look so good in your mind, but turn out horribly when you actually do it?  That's what happened to me on this year's cards. Check it out:

2009 nengajyo stencil 

 clever greeting 

 2009 nengajyo prototype

There go any dreams I ever entertained about being a greeting card designer.  And ohmygosh it took so long to draw that cut out that heifer stencil!  I am especially disappointed at how simply unpolished my end product looks.  There is absolutely no way I can send something like this out.

I am learning, though.  Whereas in years past I would have consoled myself by saying, "I'm sure it'll look better if there are more of them," and willed myself to keep going, I nipped the project in the bud this year and acknowledged my failure.  Then I hopped over to my local Michael's and, with the week's 40% off coupon, acquired a remedy.  At home tonight I pulled out some scrapbooking paper, ran it through the typewriter, inked up my stamp, snipped a bit with jagged-edge scissors, and ended up with these:

2009 nengajyo final

And I still have about two weeks to get these sent out--boo yah!  Or, rather, MOO yah!