May 18, 2010

Whoa-oh, listen to the music!

I'm an only child who grew up not in a musical family, but in a house that was always, always filled with music.  Weekends I would wake late (I was a child nightowl), sun streaming in the house and music on the turntable.  My mom would usually be cleaning, so the house often smelled lemony-fresh.  My father would be sitting on the floor in front of his stereo making a mix tape. 

My father was the master of mix tapes. His weren't the kind we made for our little friends and crushes in high school and college, intended to convey how we felt about that person; my father's tapes were artful and adult, with fade-ins and outs and excellent flow.  They evoked a mood that was more collective than personal, more vibe than emotion.  The Commodores, B.B. King, Harold Melville and the Bluenotes, Isaac Hayes, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Rickie Lee Jones, Parliament, Earth, Wind and Fire, Smokey Robinson, Rufus with Chakha Khan, LaBelle (before Patti went out on her own), Rick James, Chic, The Doobie Brothers, Deniece Williams, The Brothers Johnson, Sugarhill Gang, ConFunkShun, Kurtis Blow, Tower of Power, early Elton John, Champagne, Kool and the Gang, Queen, Rose Royce: that was the music that filled my home as a little girl. 

Not just the home, our car, too.  A brown Ford Gran Torino with a sweet tape deck (also equipped with sweet equilizers; no mere "bass" and "treble" knobs for my father, uh-unh).  My dad liked to go for drives on the weekend and often I would accompany him.  He would nurse a Sapporo (it was legal to drink and drive back then) and I would have a Big Gulp.  I remember wearing shorts, and my legs would get sweaty and stick to the hot pleather seats, but I'd try not to complain.  We'd go to the drive-thru car wash and he'd vacuum the car, polish the tires.  He'd stop at a little store and buy me a pack of Hostess Sno-balls.  Sometimes we'd drive to the Black side of Portland where he grew up and get take out at Popeye's or Church's (we had only Kentucky Fried where we lived).  When we did that, we'd inevitably run into someone my dad grew up with.  All the while, his music played on the stereo.

My father and I weren't terribly close when I was growing up, but these outings were always super fun for me.  I felt special, like a little sidekick.

Why am I feeling so nostalgic?  Well, I recently had a birthday, so have been thinking a lot about the past.  Also, as I write this, there's sun coming in my window and I'm listening to a radio program on WKCR, the Columbia University radio station (89.9 FM if you're in the area, but they stream online in you're not).  The show is called Across 110th Street and features classic funk, soul and R&B; in short, it's the soundtrack to my childhood.  It's amazing.  I highly recommend checking it out if you are at all inclined (plus, it's nice to support independent radio).

So, like it says in my bio, my craftiness comes from the ladies in family tree, but my taste in music is all thanks to my dad.

Speaking of crafts, I've been keeping my fingers busy.

Pattern: Welsh Country Stockings, by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Cascade Heritage and Colinette Jitterbug
Needles: US 0/2.0mm & US1/2.25mm
Started: April 14
Finished: May 2

These socks were an early birthday present to myself.  I had been wanting to make them for close to two years.  In fact, they were the sole reason I purchased Nancy Bush's book, Folk Socks.  I made some modifications, inspired by my friend Okay Knits (ravlink).  As written, the pattern makes mid-calf length socks, which I feared would make me feel crazy, and I had two skeins (approx 800 meters) of the Cascasde Heritage that I'd purchased at The Point's going-out-of-business sale last spring, so I decided knee-high was the length.  The Jitterbug was also purchased on sale last fall.  I though the colors would go well together, which they do.  However . . .they are rather close tonally, so the diamond-dot colorwork at the top is a bit obscured.  I'm not too troubled, however, as I'd like to make them again.  Next time I'll just pick colors that contrast more starkley. 

The first sock took me 1 1/2 weeks to complete, but the second sock only took a week.  I'd had all of my modifications (calf increases and decreases) figured out already, and I'm starting to get the hang of sock construction, which is nice.  I felt such an intense sense of satisfasction when I finished these, that I immediatly (really, the same day) cast on for these.

Pattern: Simple Socks My Way, by Lena Gjerald
Yarn: Cascade Heritage and Koigu Premium Merino
Needles: US 0/2.0mm and US1/2.25mm
Started: May 2
Finished: May 9

I've been following Lena's blog A Wee Bit Knitty, for over a year now, and while she's Norwegian, she often posts in English.  I like her spirit and her projects, so I was quite happy when she wrote up her go-to sock pattern.  I made some modifications, including casting on more stitches, to accomodate my ankles and big feet (Eurropean 42s), and, for fun, worked a half-handkerchief heel, the instructions for which I found in the the Nancy Bush book. So, these were a pleasure to knit, and I learned a new constrution.  The colors are a bit more rock-and-roll than my usual color pallate, but I like them.

This has been a long and wordy post, so I'll close it by coming around full circle to where it began: music.  The Brothers Johnson performing one of my childhood, and current favorites, Strawberry Letter 23.  Dreamy, groovy and oh so nice.