How to Turn 90

Last month, my mom, Helen, turned 90, much to her own astonishment (although in truth she’d been bragging about how she was going to do this since she turned 89). She never thought she’d make it this long.

When you turn 90, a series of celebrations is better than trying to do everything in one day.  So really, when you turn 90, mhy Mom and I recommend that this begin a year-long set of celebrations.

My mom and I began with a Tom Lehrer review a couple of weeks before her birthday (the show ended before her birthday).  Mom and Dad had all of Tom Lehrer’s records, so going to see “Tom Foolery” was a dream choice for her.  We had front-row seats in the cabaret set-up for the small regional theater (Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, CA).  It was very fun, and all the cult fans were out in force. We even sang in the parking lot afterwards some of the songs that didn’t make the cut — how completely nerdy is that? Here’s a taste by another production:

The family celebration was not as large as I had hoped – schedules were difficult for some of our family and friends, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a great time.  I know I look completely drunk in one of the photos, but that was not the case.  My cousin, Marie (mom’s niece), her husband, Dennis, and one of her daughters, Rachel, joined in the celebration.  We missed seeing Allison and her partner Eban, because Allison got sick.
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We had very chocolate vegan cake (with the vegan’s in the family, it made it a bit healthier), and the candles had flames in the colors of the candles – very fancy!

All in all, a good time was had, as we looked at family photos, and found the really embarrassing ones.  No, I am not posting them here!

Then, on the day itself, Mom had a party with her friends at Drake Terrace, including dancing, and party favors and cake that I supplied.  You’ll see below that both the staff and residents have some moves!
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But as I said, the partying will continue.  Some family friends from Southern California want to make it up to visit, and Marie has promised to take Mom to a show, so there is definitely more to come.

And when, hopefully in the distant future, my Mom goes into the next dimension, she wants us to play this song, sung here by Tom Lehrer himself:

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Why I Knit for Afghanistan

A couple of weeks ago this article was published in the New York Times, about internal refugee camps within Afghanistan, and how children, including a young infant, died in the cold.  It’s enough to break any person’s heart to think about. The follow-up article tells the story about hapzarard efforts to respond to these people, while not perfect, at least people are making the effort.

Ten years on from the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, it’s hard to realize that for most people in Afghanistan, things are either the same or worse.  I don’t have any real solutions to the whole war and the sides there, given the complexiities of the balance of powers, the so-called American partners, Pakistan, etc.  These are frankly beyond my time and understanding.

Therefore, I knit.  Over the years, I’ve probably knit over 100 items for Afghans for Afghans.  There’ve been a couple of blankets, lot’s of sweaters, and a few hats thrown in.  The ones I’ve documented are included in my Ravelry A4A project page.  I knit because at least I can assure some children and youth (and a few adults) that someone in America cares enough to provide them something I would be proud to have anyone in my family wear.  At least I can do something for the poor and the ones who are in need, even though there’s no New York Times article being written about their particular situation.

So far, for the Afghans for Afghans campaign that is coming to a close, I’ve completed less this time (starting a new job cut into the knitting time), but tried out some new things.  First up, a bunch of pretty standard toe-up socks:

Regia a4a socks

And then I decided to do a standard sweater a la Ann Budd, but with a shawl collar in a pullover:

shawl collar pullover a4a-4
shawl collar pullover a4a-1
And Brandy did her usual inspection of the knitwear:
shawl collar pullover a4a-3

With the leftovers, I also did a vest with simple two rows of striping:
striped a4a vest1b
And Brandy did another “inspection”!
striped a4a vest1a

And now I’m taking those leftovers, along with a skein of worsted wool in taupe, and doing a steeked vest with stripes.
Here’s the vest done with the knitting complete:

Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1c
and with the steeks crocheted (I used Eunny Jang’s quick and dirty tutorial for doing them)
Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1a
and with the steeks cut:
Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1e
Since then I’ve sewn the shoulders, and now I’m blocking everything before doing the armholes and ribbing.

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Neglected

Dear Blog:

Forgive me, great blog in the sky.  It has been almost a month since my last post.

Ok, I’m not Roman Catholic, so I don’t know what the next lines should be, but I am so glad that, as far as I know, that blogs do not get mad or sad.  Blog readers might feel a tiny bit neglected, and I am sorry.  There has been a lot happening, with vacation, a 90th birthday, a business trip, and adventure.

We’ll have to do this in spurts to catch up, so first let me say that catching up on my vacation was a wonderful thing for my body.  I am so glad that I went down to Monterey, which is in my experience, one of the most beautiful areas in California.  Now, in winter, this can be an iffy proposition, but I lucked out. See?

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I stayed in a lovely Inn called, Old St. Angela Inn in Pacific Grove, which is right next to Monterey, and a little quieter with amazing restaurants. See what a great room I had?

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Seriously, between the bed and the chairs by the fireplace, I really didn’t have to leave the room to have a wonderful time (and thanks be to the wonderful gift of the iPad, which makes all of this quite lovely!

Perhaps most importantly, Pacific Grove has a great yarn store called Monarch Knitting.  Seriously, even if you don’t like the ocean, going to the store will be worth your while.  The owner and staff are great, and they got me onto a lovely  Knit-along, (KAL) called Kinetik.

I am not generally a KAL kind of knitter.  Knitting takes a lot of time, unlike, say, sewing, so I want to knit things that will be happy about, and with a KAL, you don’t really know.  But Laura Nelkins is a great designer, and she had a yarn and beads lace KAL planned.  I’d seen the ads on Ravelry, but again, because I’m not a KAL girl, I didn’t sign-up.

But at Monarch Knitting, two of the staff were doing the KAL, and they showed me their swatches and the first clue knit, and I realized that this was likely to turn out to be something that I would like.  Since they are a great yarn store, there was plenty of fingering weight yarn to choose from, and they had the beads too!  So, with a credit card in hand, I got all the materials, and  purchased the KAL.

Honestly, it’s been a while since my knitting skills have been challenged, and it was good to have that happen again.  Lot’s of beads were a new thing for me, and it took a bit of changing up the technique to get things working, but I did manage it.

Here’s a photo of an early part of my project from this pattern:

Kinetik1c

I also worked on some mittens for my twitter friend Cheryl:
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And with that, part 1 of the catch-up postings is done. I still have more to report including

  • how to rock while turning 90 (my mom, Helen, not me)
  • More knitting for Afghans for Afghans
  • Kinetic progress
  • and why my stupid phone is pretty smart.

BTW – I will be at Stitches West next week, just for the day on either Friday or Saturday – anybody else going?Would love to say hi!

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