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.)