Thursday, January 26, 2006

KIP and FOs in NOLA

Coming up for air after my first several weeks in my new job, I finally took advantage of Ray Whiting's invitation to the Southern Purls Knitter's Meetup at Cafe Luna in New Orleans.

Cafe Luna is an independent coffeehouse at the intersection of Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue, ensconced in the larger section of a sprawling, subdivided Victorian house with a huge porch to enjoy when the weather is fine, which is precisely twenty-seven days of each year, those days drawn at random by the Weather Goddess between Halloween and St. Patrick's Day.

Of course, I did not have a face to put with any name (not even a description!) when I passed through the doors of this venerable neighborhod institution, but when I spotted a male human wearing this vest, I did what any other person who reads KnitU would have done:

I said, "Hi, Ray!

And was not incorrect.

Ray, will you please identify the nice knitter posng with you?

I was immediately introduced to an entire roomful of new-to-me knitters and was swamped with a truckload of names. There were 23 knitters present, some brand-new and others with decades of knitting under their belts. Here are a few of them:

I can't put faces with names at present, but I hope to remedy this situation at future meetings .

Many Southern Purls knitters are working on items for Bundle Up New Orleans to distribute hats, gloves and other warm accessories to those in need for the remainder of the winter.

Approaching Finished Object status is a vest I am knitting for my Mom's birthday. I've completed it up to the armpits.

Whoops, sorry, Moms don't have armpits, they have underarms. So it's finished up to the underarms. Tonight I divide fore and aft for a cardigan front. Fronts first, then the back, and I shall be done.

It is not quite as pink as it looks in this photo. It is more of a true mauve. I am having issues with the flash on this digital camera, which is entirely different from the flash on an old-fashioned manual camera. I still don't comprehend the lack of proper F-stops.

On to Finished Objects.

Here is one of our cats, Seven, modeling the red cotton perle shawl I just finished.

Okay, I still need to tuck in the loose ends and block it, but it's done, anyway. I will provide a blocked photo later.

Both Seven, who is an exceedingly large cat, and the shawl are deployed across the only full-size quilt I have ever finished. It's not a true quilt, in that I did not sew together lots of itty-bitty pieces of fabric and then quilt them.

What I did was this: I bought two white sheets and tie-dyed them to make a duvet for a warm but bedraggled commercial quilt, and then I got tired of the old quilt shifting around inside the new duvet, so I tie-quilted it. For the past several years it has served us well.

Below is a closer view of the stitchwork. You may remember the first few inches of this shawl from my blog archives at the beginning of the summer of 2005, which was my inflight knitting for a conference in the days before I was distracted by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. It is a deep blood-red but, as stated above, I am having some issues with overflash on my digital camera, even when I use the zoom properly.

More photos of finished and, hopefully, blocked items will be coming soon to a blog near you as I hurry to finish items both for Mom's birthday and also so I can be ready to participate in the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics. To enter the Knitting Olympics, visit Steph's fabulous blog at:


Right now, as the official representative of the Cajun-American Knitting Team, I am in training.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

We Had a Blue-Roof Christmas, That's Certain ....

Christmas has come and gone, and things are starting to look just a little bit hopeful in some parts of New Orleans. Somebody finally picked up the coffin lid wedged amongst a pile of debris on the narrow slice of grassy median in the section of the New Orleans Expressway, which cuts through the vast cemetery district of the city. Uptown, a number of residents have moved back home, many of the traffic signals are operating, and people are able to buy gas, groceries, prescriptions and other essentials. Coffee shops, bistros, neighborhood sandwich shops and gift stores are reopening.

Some of the toxic refrigerators still yearning for pick-up have begun to break out in a rash of holiday messages...

And many optimistic residents have decorated the edges of their blue-tarp roofs with holiday lighting. Inflatable Santas and snowmen stand cheerfully in the yards of damaged homes with FEMA trailers parked in the front yard. One jokester has arranged a small herd of white-light wire reindeer frolicking among the branches of a downed pecan tree.

Many FEMA trailers sport a string of mini-lights deployed around the door and windows, but most trailer occupants report there's not enough room iside for even the tiniest tabletop tree. But there's enough room outside for an inflatable Abominable Snowman...

I also saw, but couldn't stop to photograph, a Star of David shining brightly from a window of a FEMA trailer standing bravely alone in a devastated part of Broadmoor.

And likewise that unsinkable spirit prevailed at my aunt and uncle's house on Christmas Day, where family gathered for Christmas dinner. Christmas lights and bright wreaths decorated their home beneath a new-roof-in-progress. Only one remaining section of their roof sported a blue tarp flapping in the breeze.

Living in the suburbs snuggling up to the Mississippi River levees west of New Orleans, they are among the very lucky people of the New Orleans area. Their home suffered no flooding and they were finally able to get an affordable roof contractor. I'm still trying to get a roofer for my Mom's house who doesn't think I am stupid enough to pay $20,000 for new 10-year shingles all over, and new roof decking over the kitchen and utility room.

So I took a photo of Aunt Miki with the shawl I knitted her for Christmas. This Christmas is special for her because 2005 was the year she turned eighty and finally retired.

I can't belive it either.

She likes shades of teal, but isn't fond of fringe, so I bordered this mohair shawl with a simple crocheted edge of teal chenille several shades darker than the shawl itself. It also gives this very light shawl just enough weight to drape upon, and not cling, to her shoulders.

Don't be too impressed, though (assuming that you are mpressed at all). I pulled a major knitterly boner.

I was so preoccupied fiddling around with the available light and exposure settings on the digital camera, which are so vastly different from the old faithful Canon AE-1 manual, that I entirely failed to notice that my aunt had been holding up the shawl in such a manner that she could admire the right side of the work ...

....and I photographed the wrong side. Perhaps I had just a wee bit too much Christmas cheer and should have relied upon the automatic flash instead. But nooooooo ......


One of my cousins, Pam, and her husband, Scott, hosted Christmas at their own home for Scott's relatives, all of whom lost their homes to Katrina. Scott figured that if he was the only one with an actual house, they should host Christmas dinner there for Scott's family, under an actual roof.

So Christmas was enjoyed by all in our own family, and 2006 was greeted warmly. It feels good to put 2005 behind us and look forward to the coming year as the beginning of hope, rebuilding and renewal for our area. Besides, 2005 was a difficult year for me and my family personally, even without Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

The last four months of 2005 remain a blur of fur and paws, mud and heat, sweat and aches, flood stink, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and despair. But also whirling about in that same blur are the little flickers of hope in the crisis, many rescues, some joyous reunions, and the constant reminder of the fact that, in the midst of crisis, those who rose to the occasion did so heroically, relentlessly and with good hearts.

The animals made it all worthwhile.

Wishing you all happy year with exceedingly boring weather ....

make that no weather at all ... not one tiny bit ...


Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: