Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Mardi Gras, Baby!

My eldest at 13 months, as the king cake baby

The vast majority of people who visit New Orleans do so during Carnival season. As a visitor they stay in a hotel near the French Quarter and see, perhaps participate in, only the more Bacchanalian aspects of Mardi Gras...carousing all night, ogling freely offered peep shows in exchange for plastic trinkets, followed by gastritis-abating gluttony at the local high-fat eating establishments. Three days into their visit, they develop an ulcer, worry that they have irreparably damaged their pancreas, and board an airplane laden in equal parts with anxiety, guilt, and three days of unbridled caloric intake.

What these weekend visitors miss is the opportunity to observe the locals in their natural environment...raising children and living daily lives surrounded by... indeed nourished and embraced by... chaos. In fact, people living in New Orleans consider the holiday to be a family holiday and children are particularly treasured along parade routes...gleeful recipients of the biggest bags of beads, stuffed animals, and coveted plastic spears (especially valuable because they must be handed...not thrown...out of the floats, mandating an interaction with a Krewe member).
I raised my three children in New Orleans and they, as you will see, were immersed in Carnival culture since day...7
(I think that was the youngest one ever brought to a parade). When we moved to New England, my eldest was entering kindergarten and he was asked to draw a picture of this favorite memory (along with his teacher's response) it is:
Outside New Orleans, exposing children to such an environment of debauchery would buy an adult a ticket to visit their local child protection service...but in New Orleans, placing one's beloved offspring in teetering rows of rickety "ladder chairs" (these are completely unregulated garage-made chairs designed to place children unnaturally high so that they are MORE likely to be struck by bags of beads thrown from passing floats.), and repeated refrains of , "no, honey, THAT is YOUR bottle, THIS one is Mama's/Daddy's bottle" are de rigeur and probably make for tougher stock later in life.

If you are lucky enough to be living in the Crescent City right now, you are doubtless enjoying the beautiful balmy 75 degree weather and throwing out your hands (and your worries) hoping for a rainfall of beads. If, by any chance you have recently had a baby (or THREE as my beloved friend, Nicole, has just done), or know someone who has, here are a couple of great Mardi Gras themed baby knit ware items to make or gift this season:

MG basket weave baby blanket knit with Blue Ridge Yarns Kaleidoscope Superwash Sock Yarn in Sunset, available at Woolgirl.

Felted Booties from Jill Eaton's, Minnies.

Three GORGEOUS baby hats knit (and designed) by my incredibly talented mother, Joan, using Lorna's Laces Angel Yarn (70% Angora 30% Wool) in Sunshine, Blackberry, and Lime.

And to make your knitting move a little more smoothly and festively, try out these carnival themed stitch markers, available through Knitorious, St. Louis (contact Deborah through her BLOG).

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, or what you choose to knit, enjoy yourself because...


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mardi Gras Knitting Countdown

February, long-awaited, is here at last. Oppressive cold and post-holiday boredom soon-to-be dispelled by every one's favorite holiday...Mardi Gras. You've found the PERFECT Mardi Gras yarn...

You've acquired the PERFECT knitting needles...

Unfortunately, what you DON'T ...TIME!!! ARRRRGGGHHH!!! Let's face it, no knitting will be done on weekends between now and the big day...and the majority of your down time is spent waiting in parade traffic and planning your costume. Lucky for you, I've got a couple of LAST MINUTE SUGGESTIONS...

1. Decorate your Mardi Gras Tree with balls of purple, green, and gold yarn! Here are some examples of traditional Mardi Gras trees...(I LOVE Deborah's MG Tree...pictured first... in Knitorious, St. Louis!).

My urban MG tree suggestion is the following:

2. Make a Mardi Gras Yarn Wreath. [Here I made Deborah's idea into reality utilizing my Photoshop skills :-)] The inspiration was taken from Shizzknits (Ravelry), who in turn nabbed it from Starbucks.

3. Incorporate your yarn INTO your STUFFING. Here are a few costumes which would benefit from the use of a couple of balls of strategically-placed yarn...

...And here's one I wouldn't suggest trying to reproduce with yarn stuffing... :-)

Good luck, and ... HAPPY MARDI GRAS KNITTING!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mardi Gras Yarn 2009 WALL OF SHAME

I tried really really hard not to dis' any yarn makers this year by focusing my last entry on the GOOD and appropriately labeled Mardi Gras yarns...but I have reached my limit...the serenity meter has been tripped and I feel compelled to once again publish the "Mardi Gras" yarn WALL OF SHAME!!!! This year there are even more of these misnomers designed to steer your browser off track as you search for PURPLE-GREEN-and-GOLD yarn with which to craft. Now I'm not saying that the yard is's not, it's actually lovely yarn...but calling it "Mardi Gras" in America is just plain wrong. In New Orleans we are so particular that we turn our noses up if the SHADE of purple isn't "K&B" purple! Anyhow, back by popular demand and the rules of decorum, is my compendium of the worst offenders:

Offenders List:

Chugiak, Austermann Sock yarn x 2, Lisa Souza, Colinette Jitterbug, Colinette 5ply, Colinette Banyan, Denali, Loopy Ewe, Connecticut Yarn & Wool, Linda's Craftique, Colinette One Zerp, OYT Sock Yarn, and Pagewood Farm. "We love you...we just want you to change."

1. Addendum #1- Last year's sole yarn find was at LLBSupplies on Etsy...and she is still making her great handspun "Mardi Gras."

2. 7letterDeborah informs me that Panda Cotton in the Mardi Gras colorway may have been discontinued, so get it while you can!

3. There are many more good yarns with mardi gras colors (my personal favorite is Blue Ridge Yarns sock yarn in "Sunset") peeve is regarding the appropriate use of the name, "Mardi Gras" for yarn.

4. If you are on Ravelry, join the fun with the Mardi Gras group!