Thursday, June 21, 2007

New knitting friends -- and some helpful hints (one knitting, one not)

I have never really belonged to a knitting group. Mostly because my commitments -- first a time-intensive job, then labor-intensive kids -- have made it hard for me to consistently attend. And I love the folks at Rosie's knitting circle, but just can't get into the city by 6 p.m. on a weeknight to go there on a regular basis.

So when Liz asked me to come to the knitting group founded by the inimitable Anne Marie in Philly, I was excited. Now, those of you who don't know me, and even some of you who do, may be surprised to know I have a teeny touch of social phobia. [stop the snickering] I find myself a bit nervous meeting a group of new people, self-conscious, and all that. What made meeting this group such a pleasure was that I immediately felt very comfortable and at home with them. This is my shout-out to them, thanking y'all for welcoming me to your group. I hope it will become "our" group soon...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

The projects that I'm working on right now -- one knitting, one home -- have inspired me to share with you two helpful hints. The first is knitting-related: blocking is a gift from the gods. Many of you already know this, but if there are any new knitters out there, trust me on this one: you need to block your stuff. There are many tutorials and how-tos both on-line and in the knitting literature (Mar's Blocking for Blockheads is my fave) so I won't waste time telling you how. But every time I block, it's like another little miracle. I am blocking some sweater pieces and assembling them, and the before and after is amazing. I recently obtained a set of blocking wires, which I had been procrastinating about getting, and they are a huge help. Put them on your knitter's Christmas (Hannukah, Eid, Winter Solstice) wish list. And block, dammit!

My non-knitting helpful hint involves stripping wallpaper. Yes, it's a wretched job, isn't it? We are converting what used to be the twins' shared bedroom into one for N. and the one next door for G. The wallpaper is suitable for babies but not kids who proudly tell you that they are not merely five, but five and a half. Having steamed many, many walls of wallpaper -- when we bought it, our house had been untouched since the Nixon administration -- I have discovered the best way to steam wallpaper is to get a cheap warm-mist vaporizer (less than ten bucks at Target) and direct the flow of the steam onto the paper. You have to move it around the room slowly, and elevate it on boxes to get the steam up high, but after about 20 minutes of steam you'll be able to peel the wallpaper right off, with most of the glue. It's better than trying to razor it off, it's better than those gel or liquid glue removers, it's better than painting over it and it isn't as messy. And it's not stinky or chemical-y.

Now I'm off to sneak a whole bunch of outgrown toys to the twins' nursery school for a donation. Nothing more excellent than getting rid of stuff you don't need on the first day of summer. (Or winter, if you're M-H.)

13 comments:

Liz K. said...

I recently had a conversation about social phobia with my sister, and we decided that most people suffer from some social phobia when they are walking into a group of people that they don't know. It's totally normal to feel uncomfortable walking into a group of strangers. Actually, I think you have to be a special kind of arrogant (or at least a brazen introvert) to walk into a group of strangers and feel totally comfortable.

When I moved up here, I regularly walked into rooms full of strangers, whether it was the first time I went to the knitting group or Mom's Club or even to approach a neighbor to introduce myself, and I was a nervous wreck for months. But the other option was to continue feeling lonely and friendless.

Don't be too hard on yourself. It's OK to feel weird meeting new people.

And they loved you anyway.

anne marie in philly said...

I was nervous meeting YOU, for dog's sake!

but after a few minutes, I figured you would fit in VERY well with the rest of my gang.

being shy around people you don't know (probably) has to do with our upbringing.

I second liz; the gang wants you to return!

Cynthia said...

Social Phobia Queen here--too fat, too short, not a single piece of clothing to wear, nothing to say (all of the people who know me are now hysterical with laughing as I actually never shut-up once I am comfortable). I have begun to learn to embrace my fear and use it. I really think that those pre-party fears keep me on my toes and on my game. I make sure I have good conversation topics. I make sure I am properly tucked in or de-linted/de-cat haired, etc. These are not things I do when going to gatherings where I am comfortable--the family has pictures to prove it! So enjoy it and know it makes you even more delightful....

Thanks for the wallpaper tip--I have to do that and have been putting it off for five years....

Samina said...

Another wallpaper-removal tip is to spray with the paper with a 50/50 solution of water & vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes & peel it right off the wall. Easy peasy. We were amazed to see how well that worked. No scoring, no steaming, no crap. Other than the mild smell of vinegar...

Ann said...

Humpf. I want to be in the group too. Richmond's just too far away I guess...

Marilyn said...

Well, I also have a slight case of social phobia, although I have managed to overcome it, more or less. Hey, when does your Philly group meet? I would love to meet Anne Marie and the rest of them. Maybe I could manage it during my vacation week.

You're very fortunate to have found a good group. I wish I could say the same for the one I went to around here. Knitting scarves in horrible glitz was their modi operandi. Feh.

Carol said...

I don't know if Anne Marie could take it. Anne Marie, do you have a strong heart??

Cal said...

Steamers are great. Unless the eejits who decorated before you put up the paper with PVA. Replastering ssems to only solution to that one.

Carrie said...

Wow, so much in this blog entry! I appreciate the advice on blocking and steaming (the wallpaper). And my personal social phobic reaction is to run my mouth like an idiot, then probably never return. I'm so glad you found a great group - huzzah! =) Also, good luck with the toy sneaking. I always move the kids' toys to an out-of-the-way place for a couple of weeks, to see if they miss them.

anne marie in philly said...

marilyn...the KC...SQUEEEEEEE!

my heart has been through worse trauma. meeting marilyn would be an honor. so too for any other blogger I read (joe, franklin, etc.).

carol, you work it out with the head wolverina.

Carol said...

Geez, it's a good thing my family doesn't read this blog, otherwise my kids would know I gave away a carful of toys yesterday...

Carol said...

Finally! Something I don't miss about Philly-The ol' wallpaper peeling olympics!

M-H said...

Winter it sure is. Started in earnest about two weeks ago, It's the first 'proper' winter we've had for years. Still no snow, ice, or even frost though. Just cold, some wind and (gourd be praised, at last) some quite heavy rain.