Thursday, March 30, 2006

I Need Some of That Screech Stuff

Screech. You know. The uber-rum from Newfoundland the Yarn Harlot is always talking about.

I could use some. It seems to be very helpful in facing knitting dilemmas.

Last night I attempted to graft not one, but two, shoulder seams in a lace vest of my own design. What I do with lace is not true "grafting" -- otherwise fondly known as "Kitchener Stitch" or "The Joining Method From Devil's Swamp." Instead, it is a weird sort of chained duplicate stitch I have devised in an attempt to make the seam as invisible as possible. But I'll call it "grafting" for lack of a better term

Not only did I attempt to invent a new joining technique, but I did so after forgetting my close-up glasses at the office. I truly believed that if I sat under a bright enough light and concentrated hard enough, I could see better. Look:

Can you find the shoulder join in the picture? Do you see the uneven join and the big glaring holes? Of course you do, and don't be nice and say you can't find them there where the shoulder of the vest is draped across the arm of the couch. The live armhole stitchs are on the needle at the bottom of the picture. By the time I noticed how hideous the join was, I had already picked up the armhole stitches.

Warning: do not attempt this in your own home. I am a professional idiot. Amateurs could damage themselves, the dog, or drywall.


Begin with 30 shoulder stitches on the left front shoulder panel of the vest, right side facing.

Work in pattern across row to end. Purl back to within 5 st. of edge. Wrap the next stitch and turn your work.

**Work across row in pattern, turn your work, purl back to within 5 st. of wrapped stitch. Wrap the next stitch and turn. Repeat from ** 3 times, purl back. Do not break yarn.

Continuing with working yarn, begin shoulder join as follows:

Line up 30 shoulder stitches on left front shoulder with 30 shoulder stitches on left back of vest.




Repeat from ** until you have 31 stitches on the rear shoulder and 27 stitches on the front shoulder.

**Surprise yourself by cussing with words you didn't know you knew.


Reconstruct shoulder, incorporating lace pattern into shaping.

Atempt to graft again.

Repeat from ** for 45 minutes. Scream in a deep and resonant manner. Pound vigorously on armrest of couch. (Pound on the chesterfield if you are in Canada). Watch terrified cats dive for cover. Cram wayward knitting into new bag which was a door prize at Stitches West.

Stomp to pantry, only to discover that you have no adult beverage of any kind whatsoever, much less the fabled Screech. Ingest over-the-counter sleep aid instead. Go to bed.

Wake up before dawn, reconstruct lace shoulder one last time in pattern, throw in nearest towel, use traditional 3 needle bind off and tell yourself the shoulder needed structural support anyway.

At least it's neat and tidy, yeh? Ca c'est bon.


Note to self: do not make clumsy presbyopic attempts to invent new knitting techniques, especially in lace patterns, when excessively fatigued.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Patching Things Up

I am still sans camera today. I hope to amend that situation soon.

I have to admit, I have become utterly spoiled by digital photography. While I am still deeply fond of our venerable, manual Canon film camera, which is older than a great many of my readers, I never carried it with me nearly all the time like I do nowadays with the digital.

The camera turns out to be hopelessly mutilated, but at least my photocard was unharmed. So while I don't have any brand-new photos for you, I can salvage photos up to Mardi Gras Day.

Speaking of which, thank you all for your concern about the Mardi Gras shooting incident. I'm fine. My co-worker is fine. There is still no word on the child in the crowd, but that's good news. It was diagnosed as a "graze wound" in the field, and if the child had had serious complications or died it would have made the news, and I have seen nothing more about it, so that is good news.

In the comments section for my last post, Teresa wondered why the New Orleans I describe here is so different than the New Orleans we are all seeing (or not seeing) on the national news in America.

I don't know if I have a straighforward answer for that, Teresa, outside of the fact that news reporters would rather cover stories about what is happening than to cover stories about what is not happening.

As a result, you see some coverage about people in the the un-flooded parts of town repairing wind-damaged homes and re-opening businesses. You hear about funds coming in. You hear about Members of Congress finally getting their Federal fannies down here 6 months later to have a gander at the worst-hit sections of the city.

But you don't see the vast chunks of the city still just sitting there, echoing and empty, rattling in the stiff March wind.

By the way, I'd like to mention to Wendy in England that we New Orleanians were deeply touched by the fact that Prince Charles and his wife not only visited New Orleans but actually got out in the middle of some of the worst-hit parts of towm, interacted with people directly, hugged folks and got their shoes dirty, which is more than most of our American Senators and Members of Congress have done. It was a deeply dignified and kind thing to do.

Thanks, Royals.

Some people are handling this whole Katrina thing with a staunch sense of humor. In the lower left on this vehicle's rump, you will see a standard local bumpersticker: "New Orleans: Proud to call it home." In the upper right quadrant, a new one: "New Oreans: Proud to swim home."

The obsessively clean, waxed and shiny car reflecting all this infomation, down there at the bottom of the picture? That is so definitely not my car.

To keep up with the beat of the city, both bad news and good cheer, check out the Times-Picayune's website,

However good the Times-Picayune's coverage of local issues may be, they just don't cover knitting as well as I would like, so, back to your regularly scheduled blogging ....

Here are a few random pre-Mardi Gras photos from the photo card extracted from my camera.

This is a shawl-in-progress lounging on my steering wheel while I wait for a drawbridge. The shawl wanted to have a look at the Ninth Ward.

And here I am having lunch with my sis-in-law Mary, a fairly new knitter. Mary is not in the picture because she was taking it. This is my "grin and bear it" face; mostly because at the time this picture was taken, I was trying to grin. I'm really not baring my teeth. I'm saying "take the picture!" through clenched teeth. And no, I did not knit the sweater in the picture, it is an elderly commercially knit garment which has become a "work sweater" because I can get it all doggy and just throw it in the washing machine.

Since I am bi-locating for work, I am also planning to bi-locate for knitting. As soon as Mom's house has electricity, I plan to bring knitting supplies there.

Now that I am spending a few nights a week in New Orleans, this will give me a chance to spend some time with my Mom and do some Design on a Dime and This Old House stuff in her little two bedroom cypress house, which I grew up in. Most of the walls are still lathe and plaster,

Since Dad died less than three weeks before Katrina, the artsy side of me wants to cheer the house for Mom. I know she (nor I ) will ever forget that Dad died in the rear bedroom, but I think some bright new colors along with the mandatory hurricane repairs will help, especially if I can encourage her to move into the front bedroom. This will give me some quality time with Mom, and a chance to brighten up the back bedroom and turn it into a proper guest room. The back room has a painted pine floor that really wants to be white, like a beach house, and the plaster walls are begging for a bright, non-neutral color.

The other day we got sort of carried away at Home Depot and bought a bunch of new light fixtures which the electrician will install by Monday, then all we have to do is wait about seventeen months for the city inspector to come by and say its safe to turn on the lights.

I also plan to make the back bedroom the place where the guest bed and my knitting machine live. I don't do much with the knitting machine at my own home, so this will be the perfect spot for it. Once the house is repaired, it will give me something different to do on the weeknights I spend in New Orleans, and I can use it to make a few interesting throw pillows for Mom, and to stash-bust a zillion odds and ends into cage cozies for the animal shelter.

Now this is the point where I know I need serious help.

I am seriously contemplating establishing a stash-busting endeavor at my mother's house involving a knitting machine and a substantial amount of yarn oddments.

I think this is a good idea because there is only one helpful feline to contend with at Mom's house, and he has to sleep sometime. Because our own household deities are even more fascinated with the knitting machine than they are with hand-knitting, continuous volunteer feline assistance makes it quite difficult to use the knitting machine at my own home. And on those rare occasions when I manage to evict them all from the room where the knitting machine is deployed, I find myself facing a continuous, piteous and highly distracting chorus of meowing and scratching at the door.

I am seriously contemplating a UFO stash at Mom's house, the idea being that if I have nothing but stash-buster cage cozies or UFOs to knit, that lots of animals will be warm next winter and UFOs will finish themselves.

In short, am seriously contemplating infecting not one, but two homes with my stash.

Let's vote:

__I am perfectly sane

__I need therapy

__I need medication

__I need therapy and medication

__I need chocolate

__I need beer

Your votes will be taken with utmost seriousness.

-- Mambocat

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This is a test of the Civil Defense Network.

This is only a test.

If this were an actual emergency, you would receive instructions as to where to stash your yarn to protect it from fire, flood, hurricanes, nuclear fallout and flying bullets.

This is only a test.

I am posting tonight to apologize for my lack of blogability over the past few weeks. My digital camera is gravely ill in the camera hospital, and the prognosis is not good.

This is entirely my fault, having removed said camera from its normal, safe routine of photographing cats, friends, family and knitted objects, and bringing it into a war zone.

Your blogger must confess that she damaged this innocent camera by using it to take evidence photos regarding an animal cruelty investigation during a Mardi Gras parade, and rather violently bashed the above-mentioned camera while evading gunfire immediately after the investigation.

Your blogger is not making this up.

The good news is, neither your blogger nor her fellow SPCA humane law enforcement officer were injured during the incident.

The VERY bad news, the awful and most seriously UN-FUNNY part, is that a kid was hit. Only grazed by a bullet, Dios Gracias, but hit nonetheless, because some crackhead was nursing an old sore involving the SPCA, and he opened fire into a parade crowd when he saw our vehicle at the scene.

Just a two-year-old kid. God, what an awful way to get started in life.

Please note that the gunman was an entirely different crackhead than the one we were investigating, who had also opened fire into the crowd 45 minutes earlier, but that particular crackhead shot another crackhead's pit bull.

That gunman did not miss the dog, which is why we the SPCA was called to the scene.

Please note that my use of the term "crackhead" is based on offical New Orleans Police terminology, specifically, "buncha *&%$#! crackheads with guns, it's been like this all *&%$#! day and people are still only half-drunk, wait till it gets dark!"

It is also safe to assume that crack, guns and excessive amounts of alcohol are not recommended in any combination.

So here we have a child being hit by a bullet because two SPCA officers show up to do their job, their presence being required because some other lunatic with a gun, pimping his pit bull in the middle of the Zulu parade in the Desire Street projects, shot a different guy's pit bull. And this happened despite the presence of about a zillion parade spectators and 37 New Orleans cops deployed throughout the crowd in that block.

Welcome to Post-Katrina New Orleans, which, upon close inspection, very closely resembles a Mad Max movie, or Waterworld, or maybe a Salvador Dali painting. Or all three at once.

Here is what makes me so very angry: the Zulu Parade on Mardi Gras Day is supposed to be sacred. It is supposed to be a time and place for people of all colors and class levels to come together to celebrate Mardi Gras in peace, in a spirit of camaraderie, in joy and brotherhood. It is supposed to be a place where children can safely enjoy the festivities of Mardi Gras Day, to hear the music and see the magnificent costumes of the African-American Mardi Gras "Indian" Tribes, and maybe,if you are very lucky, to catch a rare and special hand-decorated coconut at the Zulu parade.

And is has been defiled by violence.

Do you know that my blogname, "Mambocat" derives from mambo music? Most people are familiar with the "Mardi Gras Mambo," one of the many traditional tunes of Mardi Gras Day.

So I feel defiled at several levels.

Now, I had planned to regale you folks with all kinds of wonderful photos from STITCHES WEST, which I was given a scholarship to attend by a wonderfully generous person who still (annoyingly) insists on remaining anonymous, but who I still thank from the bottom of my bottomless heart, whoever you are, and I do hope you are reading this.

And I was also going to regale you all with a lot of other photos of knitted objects, and more news from the Cajun-American Knitting Olympics team.

But until my photocard is extracted from the smashed camera by someone who actually knows what they are doing, you guys are just going to have to read plain old ordinary words.

I have learned a few things as a result of this incident:

1. The New Orleans Police Department can extract SPCA officers from a gunfire zone at warp speed.

2. My fellow officer is amazingly cool under gunfire. She can get shot at, drive a big truck really fast, and not hit pedestrians, all at the same time.

3. I vastly surprised myself by remaining relatively calm myself, but

4. ...doing so with utter disregard for the fate of my camera.


I appreciate your patience and your readership.

Especially your readership, since I will not have pictures for a few days.

Best regards.


P.S. -- as a result of the incident described above, Iwe had to appear in court on the day after Mardi Gras for arraignment of the perps. Mind you, court in Post-Katrina New Orleans is being conducted on folding cafeteria tables in a gutted courthouse with computer wires and cables strung along the floor. It's like being in court in a third-world country.

NOTE TO READERS: for even more fun than Mardi Gras Day itself, just hang out in criminal court for arraignments the morning after Mardi Gras.

Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: