Lost arts

Skills that seem to have vanished in modern society.

Knitting again.

So, about two years ago, I posted about my triumphant return to knitting. No more hand pain. Whoo-hoo!

Some of my needles.  Many of these were gifts from long-time knitters, duplicates they wound up with through the years.

Some of my needles. Many of these were gifts from long-time knitters, duplicates they wound up with through the years.

And then I started a new job that turned out to be a lot more taxing than I thought it would be, which left me without the focus and concentration required for the things I like to knit: cables, lace, ribbing, circular stuff that requires a fair amount of counting. Sad.

Especially since I have a good-sized yarn stash and collection of needles. Plus I finally gave myself permission to frog some unfulfilling previous work… A hat I started during my first marriage. A glorious plum alpaca tank top in a difficult ribbing pattern that didn’t fit. A scarf that just… yuck.

Now I’m at a different job. And I have the focus (and free time) to knit again. I’ve also had a few of my favorite ladies express an interest in learning to knit, which makes me all warm and fuzzy and amped up to get them started.

I’m currently cranking away on a pair of fingerless gloves:

Fetching, a free pattern from knitty.com

Fetching, a free pattern from knitty.com.

I’ve also commissioned my friend Carole to sew a knitting needle organizer for me – I sent her cute fabric and a sketch… I can’t wait to see what she sends back. I’m all kinds of fired up to knit more gloves and such.

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Bright lights, big city

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went to Las Vegas to meet up with Becky and Andrew. We had a good trip… a variety of planned and unplanned activities, including the Mob Museum, Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, a trip to a ramen restaurant, dinner in the Airstream, and loads of people-watching.

My favorite part of this trip, however, was easily the Neon Museum. It’s an hour-long guided tour that offers a unique perspective on Vegas history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs - a nice nod to history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs – a nice nod to history.

The whole space has tons of great visual appeal. Even the unrestored signs have wonderful color and architectural components. Here are a few of my favorites:

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Signs weren't limited to the casinos... this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two items on the menu. You guessed it- steak and chicken.

Signs weren’t limited to the casinos… this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two meals on the menu. You guessed it: steak and chicken.

Binion's Horseshoe Casino

Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Star detail.

Star detail.

The Sahara sign.

The Sahara sign.

Cool font.

Cool font.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Next time I get to Vegas, I’m hoping to hit up another kitschy attraction: the Burlesque Hall of Fame. I haven’t made it there yet, despite my best efforts. I’ll try again in January!

 

The Owl Diner in Lowell, Mass

I am in love.

Yesterday morning I was supposed to meet someone for breakfast and had to pick a venue – I had never been to this place, but Tim recommended it. And now I am furious that he’s been holding out on me for the last 10 years and never brought me to this amazing diner!

The Four Sisters – Owl Diner is everything a diner should be (except open 24/7). It’s a diner car, with an addition built on, and most of the interior has wonderful classic décor… great tile work, beautiful mid-century table and countertops, and, of course, plenty of chrome.

And the food is delicious. Check out the omelets, all named for streets in Lowell. I had the Pine Street (broccoli, mushrooms, and cheese) and loved it. The home fries have the perfect texture and plenty of flavor, too. Add in attentive, down-to-earth staff and you’ve got yourself a win.

I wish I had taken pictures, but I was there for a business meeting and didn’t want to seem rude. Now I have an excuse to go back… I can’t wait to take Becky and Andrew here.

A nice surprise

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When I checked the mail yesterday, I had a lovely surprise…this vintage postcard from my cousin Becky! I feel bad that I can’t reciprocate as they’re on the road, just finishing up in Taos.

The postcard continues a long-standing correspondence–when we were younger, we exchanged frequent letters. Becky saved all of them and sent me a huge envelope stuffed with all our letters a while back. While I’m too embarrassed to read them now, I know some day they’ll be great amusement. I love getting letters in the mail – there’s something sweetly exciting about it that email just can’t match. I like seeing people’s handwriting and feeling the texture of paper between my fingers.

Adventures in New Jersey

On Tuesday, I went to New Jersey to help my friend Carole move to a new apartment. Though the circumstances surrounding her move aren’t exactly cause for joy, I was really glad to get the chance to spend time with her. We’ve been friends since we met in seventh grade. Because adulthood gets messy, we’ve only seen each other two or three times in the last five years or so…but she’s one of those friends where no matter how long it’s been, we immediately pick up like we just saw each other yesterday. (In our case, that means lots of “your mom” jokes. Really.)

Carole’s a professional puppeteer and an wonderful seamstress. While she’s made countless puppets and performed in many different shows, I think this peacock marionette will always be my favorite. I love the attention to detail and how naturally the bird moves–the music is also really fun. So cool.

In addition to being fantastically resourceful and creative, Carole is a model housekeeper – everything is always perfectly organized, yet still welcoming, not austere. My space runs more toward the contained chaos end of the spectrum, much to Tim’s chagrin. But there’s hope for me yet–Carole gave me a great vintage housekeeping book: A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband With Bettina’s Best Recipes. It’s full of recipes and housekeeping tips, presented in vignettes about newlyweds Bettina and Bob and their friends.

A thousand ways to please a husband

The book has great illustrations.

A sample chapter and recipes

A sample chapter and recipes

I’ll try some of the tips and recipes in the coming weeks and keep you posted on how they turn out. Bob and Bettina don’t seem to celebrate Easter, but I’m sure there are plenty of spring recipes to choose from for next weekend’s holiday dinner with Tim’s family. Stay tuned.

Triumphant return to knitting

Some of my knit projects.

Once upon a time, I knit like mad. I loved knitting and cranked out hats and scarves and a few ill-fitting tanks like nobody’s business. One one of my early dates with my husband, I knit a hat for my mother while he worked the sound board for a metal show in Fitchburg, Mass. There’s nothing like a set of big old metal #10 needles to let the jerk at the pool table know that he DOES have to say “excuse me” when he’s about to poke me with the cue while making his shot.

Anyway, I had some awesome knitting mentors and loved the heck out of it.

But then, something happened. My hands started to hurt. Shooting pain across the back of them whenever I knit. Which takes the fun right out of a leisure activity, let me tell you. The doctor tested me for all kinds of things ranging from arthritis to lupus and came up with squat. Which did nothing to solve the problem. I had a job that I hated and a bunch of other stressful things going on in my life, and I’ve always been someone whose emotional stress menifests physically, so it’s quite possible that my psychological sense that my hands were tied resulted in a physical reminder. Who knows. That was several years ago.

Since then, I’ve gotten a fabulous new job that I love and resolved many of my other stressors.

And then I saw Tasha’s (bygumbygolly) blog post about fingerless gloves. I LOVE knitting gloves. But I wanted to make sure my hands cound handle knitting again. My neighbor is pregnant and due fairly soon…and I have some adorable patterns for baby booties. Which are small and knit up quickly, so even if my hands DID hurt, I could still probably suffer through them.

I went to knit up my test bootie and something wonderful happened. No pain. Even after about an hour of knitting. A few days later, I knit while my car got inspected – another hour or so at the needles. And again, no pain. I’m thrilled. I joined ravelry. I ordered the actual yarn for the booties. I started sifting through pattern books to find things I want to make.  I started planning projects for the yarns left in my stash. I reorganized my office to fit in my grandmother’s sewing machine, which also opens up a nice space for knitting. I’m really, really excited.

Stay tuned for all kinds of vintage-inspired knitting projects.

Vintage in an ancient culture?

It’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m awake, drinking coffee, doing some last-minute blogging before our trip to Japan. If I don’t say much for the next few days, it’s because I HATE blogging from my phone. Really – I’m too verbose for that.

One of the things I’ve been wondering about: Is there a vintage subculture in Japan? And how different is it from vintage in the U.S.? I imagine there must be, but since the culture there is exponentially older, I’m guessing that the 1940s and ’50s lovers are a smaller subset….just like you’ve got Colonial and Revolutionary War reenactors here, are there similar interests with different eras in Japanese history? Just spread out among a much longer timeline?

We shall see.