Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Orange Cars and Sheep

I hope you did not come here to see any knitting. Because there is none. Progress on Colorful Tracks is lovely, but you've already seen it, so I'm not letting you have another look till it's done. Tomorrow there may be socks underway, a new design ala MelissaKnits. There is this - one happy little homeschooler - which is cooler than knitting. She's a gifted, talented, wonderful person who daily astounds me with her depth, her creativity, sensitivity, intelligence...for those who care, she graduated with honors. The school does not bestow them, but Mommys do, and this mommy has been keeping track of her grades for the last four years. This is one bright young woman, folks. I wonder where she gets it??
OK, so I am all decided about the Fit. The Fit is indeed Go. I am on a waiting list. I love the Fit. Then I read this...and I waver...if I wait a year, can I get one of these?? And will it really only be $1800 more than the Fit Sport gas version?? And what kind of tree-hugger would I be if I put selfish desires ahead of the planet? And what if they change their minds and don't do it in 2008, but put it off till 2010 or something?? Then where am I? I am driving the Saturn for possibly years more. That makes me sad. I need justification for buying the non-hybrid 2007 Fit versus waiting till 2008 and seeing what comes. It's "only a year"...oh, and about the orange? Definately happening. If we can't get it by being on the waiting list, I can be patient and order it in the fall. It's all or nothing, baby. No half-baked black 5 speed or orange automatic. I want the Fit Sport 5 speed and orange, or I WILL drive the Saturn forever. We got to sit in one this weekend - it had been sold so we could not drive it, but we got to open all the doors and see all the space and gadgetry. Mr. W was all talking about how he's going to use it to go to the dump...and the salesman AGREED!! I reminded dear John who he needed to please - I am the customer. Mr. Wonderful is a great guy, but all he's going to do is sign the check. There will be no garbage carried in my Fit. If Mr. W wants to haul trash, he can get his own Fit.With this new car thing in mind, I snagged these at Cummington Sunday. Must haves - and I don't care if it makes the car look like it's driven by a nut. It is driven by a nut. I need my Fleece, CISA and Lotus stickers, or it's just not me driving. We had a very nice day Sunday at Cummington, and car shopping, and ice cream eating. Mr Wonderful's Mommy is not a fiber person but does own an interest in an alpaca endeavor. She has come with us to fiber events before, and has a good time as a rule. She neither spins, nor weaves, nor knits. But she loves fiber related stuff in general, and animals in
particular. She spent a lot of time watching rabbits on Sunday. She bought her son a birthday gift that he really loves, an etching by Gene Matras, who is frequently at these events, and who Mr. Wonderful always spends a lot of time gazing at but never buys. He's a self-proclaimed "Cheap (insert poo-related swear word here)". At Hopkinton he spent money on tickets for the silent auction, and put a goodly number of tickets in the etching can. Now he has one to stare at all his own. It is lovely, Mad River, VT in winter. I tried to photograph it, but failed because it's framed and matted and the glass just makes a big old mess. So imagine that, only clearer, and in a lovely silver frame with a light blue mat. Oh, and without the big copyright thing across it.Girl loaded up on felting fibers. She spent less than $30 and got a ton of colorful locks, odds and ends of color, and one bag of flesh colored stuff that was apparently dyed thus by accident. I bought this from Twist of Fate Spinnery. It is lovely to look at, loaded with thrums and sparkly lurex bits. Makes me want to spin, though I have no time for spining, but begin to think I need to slap the second treadle on my wheel and get my butt in gear, even just one day a week. These folks had racoon down...we did not get to see it because they'd sold out of it, but I guarantee I would have bought it!! How'd they get is? Sssshhhh.....it's road kill....I personally would be interested in an entire Road Kill Fibers line. What else gets whacked that's spinnable? I'd try it!
Added to list of jobs Boo-Boo will never have - I bought a t-shirt to support the Northeast Border Collie Association and as a memento of things my dog will never be. He will never herd anything. He's be too busy sitting on it's feet or hiding behind something in terror. Mr W. and Girl and Mommy spent a great deal of time watching the dogs run. Mr. W. had seen the novice dogs, which he loves because they are so funny; splitting the sheep up, losing track of themselves and their animals, looking back at their handlers as if to say "Look! I did it!!" while the sheep scatter randombly around them. Yeah, you did it all right. The open classes are interesting because of the skill of both dog and handler. It gets intense. Sort of makes me want sheep. But not really. Although I have to say I find these guys interesting. I love the horns. And I love the black and white fleeces. Very cool. But sheep are generally not something I want to own. I love lamb, and I love fiber. And I love Stoney Acre Jacobs. Just not well enough to bring one home. I have heard from more than one person that they are not the sharpest tools in the shed. I kind of need an animal that does not require babysitting to prevent it from eating rhododendrons. We had a rabbit that did that once. The others all left it alone, but one rabbit decided he'd give it a shot, and ended up as a card-carrying Hemlock Society member. Shallow end of the gene pool, like hatchery bred poultry. "Grass? Dirt? Sky?? What are they?".
Most of the weekend was spent here, actually, on my deck overlooking this, listening to the water, knitting on the Colorful Tracks sweater, or having dinner with my in-laws, or letting the dogs get some air. Kioshi in particular seems to enjoy the deck. She's never been one for dirt or grass for anything but hiking on. The deck lets her get air and sun without the complication of dirt. She's a bit of a snot. Mr. W made a gate for her, so she cannot run off the deck, and this will allow her to spend what we believe is her last summer getting some quality rays. She's slower, gimpier, has some definate periods of feeling unwell, mostly in her tummy I think. Poor old rug.
I also took some time to if not smell at least notice the flowers. This is a rhododendron that was given to my mother by her neighbor Corinne who died of cancer a few years back. It would never bloom for Corinne. It did at my mother's and it certainly is blooming here - it's positively covered with flowers. I love the color. It's unusual, and very me. There are others around here, azaleas and rhodos of a more typical nature, all in shades and variations of pink. But this is my favorite.Last evening in twilight and after dinner was done we did some planting of seed potatoes. This is an experiment in organic potato farming. I had ordered a box of four mixed varieties from Wood Prairie Farm to see if we could grow healthy organic potatoes of our own. They threw in four additional varieties...which was wonderful and complicating. We decided to plant some of each, and see what grows. There's a little map indicating where each variety is planted, and if it works we'll do more next spring. I got a wide range of ripening times and types, so we'll have a lot to choose from. I think Mr. W would be contented to spend the rest of his life wandering around planting and growing food. He's got grapes growing on the hill that runs down to the brook, blueberries down by the brook (they love the acid and moisture down there) and plans for bigger gardens next year, and maybe more fruit trees. I am glad. I miss my food gardens. The peach tree we brought from our old house is going great guns, loaded with the tiniest fuzzy future peaches. I am hopeful!
Orange seems to be the color of the hour around here. I brought home paint chips for the office. My favorite so far is called Hundred Acre Wood. I find that particularly amusing. Leave it to me to pick the Disney paint!
Time to go be Very Good and get on my bike for a bit. I have been lazy since we finished up the I.P. clean and fix up. Time to get cracking!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Knit Happens - FINALLY!

It's been a while since there's been time to knit. But I am gradually getting back on track, after spending untold hours messing with arrows and a chart for a Webs project, shopping for a new vehicle (I am between three) and just recovering from the Investment Property Experience
First, there is the Mother In Law Shawl, moving along, hopefully done by her birthday. I do think the striping overwhelms the lotus flowers, but I am willing to go with it becasue ripping right now would cause me pain. I love it in spite of the chaos. Or maybe because of it.
Next we have the Ram's Horn Jacket. What's that you say? This does not look like the Ram's Horn Jacket? Well, there is a reason for that. And a lesson. Ever hear the phrase "Measure twice, cut once"? Well, I have and generally I live by it in the other part of my life, the part that involves lumber and power tools. However, I
failed to utilize this in my knitting life this past week, and so ended up with a Ram's Horn Error. Spot-on for gauge. IF the stated gauge had actually been 4 sts per inch and not 5 sts per inch like it said in the pattern which I failed to re-check and so blindly cast on and got about 10 inches in before saying "Golly...this looks kinda wide..." In my self-disgust, I refused to get new needles and re-gauge. Instead, I flipped through the book and found something I liked that is written for 4 sts per inch. A compromise I am thoroughly thrilled with. I hope to be calling this "Pentagon Cardigan" by the end of the week. For now I still call it Ram's Horn, to keep it fresh in my mind - knit once, read twice.
Last, but by no means least, a new pattern, for retail sale eventually, currently called Colorful Tracks, though I am sure that will change. It is a feminine version of Make Tracks, with a much more girlie feel than the original, and a lighter weight and smaller gauge. I love it so far. It was supposed to be for Girl, but she does not love it. She said, in fact, "It's ok...." and everymother knows what that means. It will become strictly a sample. But a pretty one.

Now for those who've hung out and who care - the car issue...

1.) Leading the way in price, and therefore probably Mr W's fave, the Scion xA appears. Cute, not well known, but supposedly Toyota's "youth brand" - I told you I was not really 39 on the inside. It is basically a knock off Mini, complete with dash controls centrally located versus on and above the column, which might drive me nuts. It is cheaper. I like cheap. But I'd have to option on side curtain airbags and ABS. And the red is a good red, more like Honda red.
2.) Second in price but possibly first in my heart, the Honda Fit Sport. It has some safety features (standard) that I dig, and in the Sport trim line comes in a very cool orange color that makes Girl cringe and Mr Wonderful might refuse to drive it, so that'd be a plus - if no one wants your car, then it's really yours all yours! Problem: my last Honda, a 1995 Civic, I totalled in an un-fun March ice storm experience. For some reason, this has cauased me to feel queasy about Honda, which is completely unfair and too superstitious for a good Christian woman. God makes ice, not cars. That Civic also had some issues and really was a lemon in it's soul; odd things like fuel injectors that failed after only a few months on the road, and a disintegrating catalytic converter at about 30K miles that caused the muffler guy to stand there and say over and over "I've never seen anything like this...never....it's just disintegrating in my hands...unreal...". And odd things, like strange noises, and rocks in the brakes constantly that made the most horrible noise, and frequent visits to the shop for stuff falling off and not working right. This is totally out of the realm of normal for a Honda - my husband's two Civics (1992 and 2000) have been virtually unkillable. But it's still in my mind. Otherwise, I'd have to say my heart lies here.
3.) Highest in price - and tops in reliability, but last in standard safety features is the Toyota Matrix. It has a longer body by 10 inches than the Fit or Scion xA...but it costs a good $1500 - $2000 more. And their website has this rap thing that comes on as soon as you click on it, which bugs me - I hate the force-music-on-me thing. And if you have to force music on me, how about we make it something I actually LIKE???? And on top of that, the red is crappy and cheap looking, not a nice warm rich red, but a flashy too-bright candy red. No side-curtain airbags, no ABS both of which are standard on the Fit and Fit Sport.

All are 5 speed manual, all get 33-38mpg give or take, not my Prius, but also not $25,000! In overall lifetime expense and cost to drive, the Scion is cheapest over a lifetime, with the Fit and Matrix behind it in order. According to the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide, the Fit and the Matrix are Smart Way certified, with the Matrix ahead by one point on air pollution, but matched in greenhouse emissions...the Scion is good on greenhouse gas, but really bad on air pollution and is not Smart Way certified.

The longer I dwell upon this, the less and less I have interest in the Scion!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Some Assembly Required.

***New Free Pattern*** Slippers for Laura, sizes from toddler to extra large men's***

That's what it said on the box. Once it was all out on the deck, it looked straight-forward enough. Then I saw the directions. No clarity. No simple, clear images. Just a lot of big circles with the line through them demonstrating incorrect assembly, and some confusing images of hardware bits and pieces. A little definately-man figure does all the work, calling in a definately-woman figure to assist with lifting or providing counter pressure. Otherwise, I assume, she was in the kitchen preparing the food for the first grilling? Or holding the beer? Either way, dead wrong. 'Cause there were no guys here for this project, just a coupla' skirts.
It all started (dream sequence music and wavy lines here) when Mr. W. gave up his week of vacation to work on that stinking house. Girl and I were bothered by this. And also by the fact that we knew he needed a grill as it'd been discussed, and that we knew he'd buy a cheaper grill to save money. The man who says 'you get what you pay for' has trouble spending on himself. We took matters into our own hands. To keep it a "guy thing", we had my father in on the deal, giving counsel about things like porcelain coated cast iron racks, number of burners, and electronic ignition. There were emails back and forth in code, to throw Mr W of the track lest he intercept one. We were between two grills - 'The Big Man' and 'The Other Guy'. We'd settled on The Other Guy, because The Big Man just had too many bells and whistles. Then I got to Home Depot (where I shop not by choice, but by the demands of my pocketbook.). And I saw him. This was not The Big Man. This was not The Other Guy. This was Somebody New. He was right next to The Other Guy, and frankly he made The Other Guy look cheesy and flimsy. He was $150 less than The Other Guy. He has good genes, a name I recognize. He was solid in appearance. Stable, like a guy who would be around for the long haul. I like that in a grill. Or a man. He was also the #2 rated grill in a review I'd seen, and had been a early contender that I'd discarded in favor of shiny stainless. But I fell for him on the spot. Into the truck he went and home I came. Girl was home from work early to assist.
It took about an hour to assemble all told, with only one thing my little hands could not do. We were scrambling to get this done before Mr W came home. We did it, with about fifteen minutes to spare. He says he had no clue but I am not sure I believe him. Well, that is to say he knew we were 'up to' something, but was not sure what. He created the first meal on the new grill, and then got BUSTED!! A GUY reading a MANUAL!!! HA!! Feel free to tell all your friends and family that you have proof that a man can indeed read directions. He says it was a concern about damaging the porcelain coated cast iron racks that drove him to this. A likely story. I think they do it all the time, in secret, so we'll think they just naturally know everything. All in all, I am glad we did what we did. The old grill was bought when I graduated from nursing school, and was held together with prayer and rust. It lasted longer than I'd ever thought, which proves that a little care and caution yields benefit.
Some people were more productive yesterday than others. These guys were super productive - we're at eight a day now, which is almost full production, but we have some more senior ladies who may not be laying daily. And this guy, he was very productive, all behind Napoleaon's back. I think because he's a bantam his advances on the hens are not seen as a threat. Nap will go after the Plush, but not BedHead. I think he kind of smiles on the little guy. The chickens were kind of ga-ga after all the rain, nutty and acting like total idiots, lots of sqwaking and racing around. And me? Well, I bought and assembled a grill, got some knitting done, but not as much as I'd like. Mostly I proofed and wrote patterns when I was not in the truck between here and Home Depot and the garden store for some food plants. There's no pictures of that. But there are some of the Ram's Horn progress in Sisik. I really love this yarn the more I use it. It's so soft and easy. The pattern is straight forward and easy to follow so far, though I have not gotten very far! I need to focus on proofing which I despise, and start working some new ideas up - I have the yarn for them, two pair of socks and a couple of sweaters. I have the ideas. I just lack the time. I totally get why people hire knitters now. Someday, maybe that'll happen. For now it's all me. And I feel time slipping away!
And we're totally going for sleeves on the silk garden jacket. Totally. And yes, I am afraid I may not get it done for February - well, December, because Mr W has said that we might take an early birthday trip to...guess!!!...guess where!!!!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sin City?

Or something like it. Sloth I guess. And Gluttony. Definately gluttony.
Saturday was a "wasted day" one might say. It was a day in which the following things did, or did not, happen:
1.) We did not go to or even near the Investment (choke, gag sputter) Property. However, the realtor did, and she commended us on the improvements since we gained access two weeks ago
2.) I knitted a lot, and crocheted even more.
3.) We went to Mecca and saw the Tent Sale. Then we left. That was a lot of crazed, dazed, happy-shoppin' knitters.
4.) Grass-fed hormone and antibiotic free meat was purchased.
5.) "Local" coffee was purchased.
6.) I found super-cool bike shoes that can be used with clips that look nothing like bike shoes.
7.) Mr Wonderful and I had a fancy din-din out, while Girl worked/drove home from work.
The whole day felt rather decadent.

It started with this - the c.o. beginnings of the Ram's Horn Jacket from Knitting Nature. Must have this. Must have half of book, possibly more than
half. Mods so far - altered length of hem, shortened it as I had concerns about the 3" wide stripe about my hips. Also am lengthening it a bit so it breaks below the hip line, and shortening sleeves for pygmy arms. Substituted Very Reasonably Priced Dale Sisik $2.99 a ball close out for yarn required by pattern. I like Sisik. It has a texture and colors that appeals to me. Mr Wonderful rode his bike for this portion of the day. He did 30 miles. I had no interest in 30 miles of anything but yarn.

Then it moved into this - the finishing of the base of the crocheted jacket that must be done by February, so I can sit with a margarita, in this jacket on my 40th birthday. Don't ask me why, I really don't know - but it's a plan I've had since this February, and by golly I am going to go for it. There is pressure to leave it as a vest. I am undecided. Since I took this I've assembled it, and started the collar so I can try it on and make a final decision about sleeves or no sleeves.

Then we went to Wheel-View Farm for beef. My normal beef supply has dried up due to an unexpected breeding. It will be a year before we get more cow we know by name. In the interest of supporting the dietary needs of my carnivorous family (and self), I had to find an alternative beef supply. This is it. These are lovely animals, heritage breeds of beef cattle, Galloways and Scots Highland, who live quite well in the hills of the county. I have bought their meat before, a year or so back. Also a clivia, which is a very cool and slow-growing plant that thrives under my "benign neglect" plant regimen. The farm is gorgeous, the animals happy and well cared for, the farmers are sociable and very well-versed on husbandry and the advantages of grass fed cattle products over the feed lot stuff (which we shall not discuss as it makes me ill to consider). They are having an open house this weekend along with three other local farms. Anyone in the area tomorrow should pop up and visit.
Then we swung by Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters for a bit of a treat - a pound of Toasted Coconut Creme and a half pound of Southern Pecan. I love their coffee. Very Yum. Especially the Toasted Coconut Creme. I love the stuff.
Then there's these shoes. These very cool shoes. I am not sure why I think I need them as my bike is still on the trainer (call me when I can ride and knit on the road at the same time) But, Mr Wonderful says it would be good for me, and it probably would as I have a fear of toe clips and this would be a good way to get used to the on and off, in and out of the things. They are "...redesigned with a fit optimized for women riders, and a subtle styling nod to your inner cowgirl." I was unaware that I had an inner cowgirl till I saw these shoes. Actually...wait just a second. I have always had an inner cowgirl.
Then dinner, which was excessive but wonderful. I had french onion soup, and Mr W had clam chowder, then prime ribs from cows we had never met but I chose not to think about it for the day, and now that it's Sunday I will feel guilt all day long. Then shopping again, but for Girl - and me - and Mr Wonderful, because we really really needed Smartfood and ice cream....we were definately going to starve without it! Then home and wine and cribbage (which I won again!!)
All in alkl a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY!

Sick of it! But glad that we're not as bad off as some, although I wonder if it's heading that way - hail, and downpours of frightening proportions is about what I expect next. I remember last year, when my silly little town made national news as a disaster area. And every time I drive down my road I fear washing out. There are spots where I wonder if my car will be supported...I have lost track of how many days it has rained. If anyone knows, tell me. I can't count. If I did, I'd have to scream. 'Too Many' is all I know.
Not much knitting, our life centers around the Investment Property (choke, gag, cough, sputter). The IP is now on the market, with an open house Saturday, and (praying hard) a qualified offer by Sunday. Monday the Gas Man came to the IP. He gave me two "red tag" violations and refused to turn on the gas. As he appeared to be married and possibly the father of small children, I did not kill him. I instead turned my mind toward fixing the violations. Wednesday he returned. This time he turned on the gas but gave me a new violation, a "yellow tag" one, which apparently means that we can have gas, but they're watching us. Ominous. Again, I thought about killing him. He was speaking to me of violations, repairs, and the simplicty of same, and I could see his lips moving, but all I heard was "another violation..." over and over in my head, like a dream sequence from bad television. I took out my cell and called Mr Wonderful (Thank God he was at his desk!) and held him out to the Gas Man. Gas Man and Mr. Wonderful had a chat. I do not know what they discussed and I care even less. I have gas. I have a yellow tag (like this is real football, and I've been given a yellow card, and in true arrogant athlete fashion I just got mad and ignored the dude), but I have gas. Yesterday I went down early and caught a bit of sun, just enough to paint the trim on the front of the house, and place a pretty number six, fresh and clean, by the front door. I also cleaned ceiling fans that I don't think have seen much attention since we bought the place 2.5 years ago. I came home and napped for an hour before leaving for work. Had a wonderful drop-in evening, with Katy bringing the new book "Sexy Little Knits" to our attention, some discussion about chocolate and foreplay (don't ask.), and abuse of the Sexy Knits book - very little is wearable by the average gal, and most of it would cause my husband to fall on the floor in fits of giggles, not throes of passion...unless he had a sudden urge to play Chalrie's Angels or something...and OH!! I forgot!! (How could I forget!?!?!)
We here at Melissaknits are SO incredibly thrilled that Katy has taken Lilleth and The Cat Formerly Known As Ratana (Hopefully Lucy, Just Cause) into her life. I completely forgot to take pics of her with them to blog, but I was so happy to see them in a good home the idea of pictures went right out of my little head. Anyway, after drop in I headed back to the IP where we worked till about 10:20pm. I need to leave for there now, and am using this blog as a way out of leaving.("But, I had to blog....")
Yesterday I looked at my chair lustfully. I sit here and knit most days. In fact, a great deal of my working life revolves around curling up in this chair with yarn, needles, a big glass of water, and a lot of time. I have neglected this chair for so long that someone has become confused about who's chair it is. I will remedy this shortly. Today should be my last IP day. (again praying hard).
Knitting Nature came, only two days after I ordered it. Exquisite. 39 designs inspired by nature. I only want to knit about 32 of them. Yeah, I got time...the book is wonderful. Inventive, creative, some over the top but mostly wearable, conceptually amazing. Now I need to knit one to see how knittable they are. Just as soon as I get a minute. Oh. Thunder. Sigh. And the rain is getting heavier. Such is the punishment for slackers. Take time to blog and pay for it, lady, in the form of heavier rain and the need to calculate the time between flash and boom, and dodge the flashes. Oh well.

There is something nice about the rain. It does this to my brook. This is cool. And very loud. So while I worry about the road washing out, or the house washing down the hill, it's all good, because I can sit and watch this in the moments when the rain abates. Gorgeous. Just makes you feel all happy inside watching it flow. We have two; this one requires a hike, but both are just wonderful in spring or after a good hard rain.
This is a super lame entry. No knitting, just rambling about rain and the house that I hope sells soon. Give me a few days - I am going to post a free pattern next week. Keep your eyes peeled! And I sold my very first retail print pattern yesterday - very exciting, and I may need to frame the payment and put it on my wall. First I think I will sleep for two days straight. Then I will knit, post better entries with knitterly info, and frame my first payment. Before that I will work more, and try not to nap while actually using the compound miter saw, but save the naps for the measuring and nailing.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Damp Little Blogger??

Today is Mother's Day. It is a Mother's Day tradition here to attend the NH Sheep and Wool Fest. Even if the region is under a flood watch and it is pouring rain. We simply must go. And so we did.
We should have known we were in for an interesting experience when we crossed this bridge to get to the ticket booth. We should have been further alerted by the sign on the booth that said "Free Admission - Donations Accepted". I handed over $10 and we grabbed a program and headed in. When I jokingly said to the woman taking money that my only concern was that the bridge might wash out, she responded by telling me that it was ok, they had boats standing by. Very reassuring! Soggy and displeased persons were heading out. I think they thought we were nuts for even showing up. I felt for them. But then I spent my wedding week in Central Florida in the pouring El Nino rains, so what's a shower to me? Besides, this is New England. It rains. Man, what a day to wear wool. Felted hat, Rogue, a tech layer top and bottom, and jeans over top. Rubber boots - excellent planning, unusual for MelissaKnits. Man did it rain. It sprinkled. Then it poured. Then it misted, and sprinkled and poured again, over and over, for the three or so hours of our visit. But what a time we had! And what a load of loot we dragged home...but I digress...
The first item of note was the absence of persons. This is my third trip to this particular S&W and it is generally a moderate crowd on a Sunday, heavier on Saturday. There was no 'crowd'. All outdoor vendors had fled. Most food vendors were closed. Most of the barn vendors were gone as well. Anyone in a building was safe, and present. And most were laughing the whole thing off like good Yankees (or Yankees at heart, even if from far away). Our first stop was to find The Potty, a necessity after driving 50 miles from home on roads that don't have convenient stores on every corner. We headed next into the barns to see what was what. We all found something to amuse. We first headed for Decadent Fibers to show the lady we'd met at NENA Girl's ducks, but she was not there, so we moved on. There were tons of things to touch and smell and gaze at. I find that being regularly at Webs makes me better able to resist the urge to splurge excessively. That and being cash poor, and leaving my Visa and checkbook at home. I have great fortitude. I did not run out of money for at least an hour. In the Roby Building I engaged in some gambling - I bought 10 silent auction tickets and stuffed them into some cans. Mr. Wonderful did the same. There was lots to wish for - a felting video for Girl, a hat kit from Green Mountain, a bag from Decadent Fibers of yarn and felting kits, a felted dragon kit from Grafton Fibers, soap from two different vendors...I think most of my tickets went into the Green Mountain can. Some went for Mr Wonderful's weaving dvd. A Weaving dvd. For a triangular loom. Which we don't own. Yet...more on that later...the rest I put in for the soap. I love soap. Girl found Felt and Felters. She found Black Sheep Designs, and bought a ton of stuff, blowing nearly her entire budget on one vendor. I would love for Girl to take a class with this lady; simply amazing. The stuff was amazing. Incredible detail. Her felted vessels (picture does NOT even come close to what they really are) just made me stop and stare. They had a couple of books that were just so tempting, but at $45 and $55, a bit over the budget. But she got needles and fleece enough to last a while. Then I said "Hey, Girl, come over here and see this...." and Girl was lost. This wonderful lady at Grafton Fibers has the most amazing colors in her batts. Just the coolest. Girl got one that was just so intense, a rainbow in one batt. The second was more blue. We were ably assisted by the gentleman from The Merlin Tree, who's Hitchhiker wheel routinely calls out to me. He sold us the two batts and while we chatted about important things like "Why MelissaKnits needs a Hitchhiker wheel" (funny that Mr Wonderful appeared to hear non of that conversation. I wonder why...?} the lady from Grafton Fibers returned. As we headed off I saw a box of color. There's not other word for it, it's a box of color. I asked how much it was - $9.00. I gave Girl a ten and told her to go pick a box. The colors are just so intense and clear.
Girl and Mr Wonderful went for buffalo burgers from Yankee Farmer's Market while I discovered the Washington Historical Society's lamb booth. These folks are also at Mirage Alpacas during the Columbus Day weekend New Hampshire Wool Arts Tour. If there is one thing I love about S&W's it is the availability of grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free animals-as-meat.
After lunch, while we waited for the 1pm silent auction drawing, we wandered. I found soap. I specifically love soap from Country Spun Treasures (603-934-3885 for anyone interested - she will ship, and the stuff is wonderful), her Sweet Earth soap which is a blend of patchouli, lavender and . . . vanilla, I think. She was here again and I bought four bars. I also grabbed a bar of Chocolate Mint since she had it there, and it neatly rounded my purchase to a tidy $19.50. She also had these wonderful lightly greasy black and white lambswool fleeces that were so yummy and about a pound and a half each for $20, but Mr W seemed to feel that we have enough fleece and as I don't ever find time to spin, perhaps new fleece was not a good plan. Girl found the World's Cutest Goat. She is adorable. Her fiber is the color of chocolate milk, and just before I took this picture she had a bit of straw hanging over her face. It was making her cross-eyed and a bit nuts to stare at it, and her attempts at removal kept me engrossed for minutes and minutes. There will never be any goat as cute as The Chocolate Milk Goat.
OH! I forgot about the Corn Chowder! I got an excellent recipe for what I think must be a most amazing corn chowder! As I was buying my silent auction tickets from two 4-H youths I could not help but notice the yummy smells drifting up from this kid's cup. He seemed a friendly social kid, so I said "What's that?" He said "Corn Chowder. And it's good." The boy next to him pipes up and adds "Really, really good!!" I turned in awe to the adult nearby, also clutching a cup of said chowder - chowder good enough that two boys under the age of 15 were eating it. She agreed. "Wonderful!!" she exclaimed. " and provided to us by (name of lady I have forgotten) over there." I casually said "I wonder if she'd share a recipe..." So I asked. Here is the recipe for The Best Corn Chowder I Ever Smelled: First, spend a perfectly good rainy Saturday freezing your butt off in an unheated barn in New Hampshire in May. Next go home cold and exhausted, but determined to not suffer a similar fate on the morrow. Grab the first package of bacon that comes to hand, and whack it up on the cutting board. In your distraction, fail to notice the bacon is maple. (this is crucial!!) Once it's chopped, put it in a soup pot to fry. Chop some onions and peppers, and wonder why your kitchen smells like maple bacon. Realize the mistake, but go with it. Add peppers and onions, and sweat them. Add canned milk, chicken stock, potatoes and corn. Let the whole thing simmer, then dump in a crock pot and return for a rainy Sunday in May in an unheated barn armed for the day. That is how you make corn chowder so good that not one but TWO boys under 15 will say it's good - really really good.
There I go wandering again...where were we? Oh, I remember - we headed back for the auction drawing at 1pm. We were a bit late and missed the first bunch of cans. Names were called, none of them ours. There was a Melissa, but on an item I did not put a ticket in for. Just as I was about to leave, a voice said MY NAME!! I was so excited! What had I won??? I won a DVD from Hillcreek Fiber Studio on Triangle Frame Loom Weaving Magic. Mr. Wonderful was thrilled (as you can see here, by his doing an impression of Gene Kelley in Singin' in The Rain with his win) But....see...we don't actually own a triangle loom. We own a LeClerc Arisat with back treadles that I'd like to eliminate from my life (as would the weaver), and a little Purrington jack loom that we adore and will never part with. But we do not own a triangle frame loom. Although we do now own a video, a video Mr Wonderful wanted. Even though he does not have the loom...you know, men are odd folk...we wandered a bit more, aimlessly really, out of money and getting damp enough to notice it now. We stopped by the Home Arts Center by our entrance gate, and I bought some wonderful Horseradish Tarragon Mustard from That Jam Business, and a bar of soap from Blue Flag Herbals. Girl got some honey sticks from Spring Fever Farm, and Mr Wonderful was Rolling in the Dough with an oatmeal raisin cookie. Very noble of him considering the stuff she had out - brownies, cookies, whoopie pies in three flavors; an endless and monstrous pile of baked bits.
Loot Shot:Clockwise from top left: "Garbage" box from Grafton fibers, face kit and gnome kit from Black Sheep Designs, mustard from That Jam Business, amazing batts from Grafton Fibers, one bar Blue Flag Herbals "Relaxation" soap, five bars from Country Spun Treasures (four sweet earth, one chocolate mint), Hillcreek Fiber Studio triangle loom dvd, felting needles and felting tool, and flesh tone fiber pack from Black Sheep.

For supper we had cod, and Sprouts ala Skrilla which were excellent. I substituted my new Horseradish Tarragon Mustard for spicy brown though...it is SO yummy! I topped it off with a glass of Bogle Petite Syrah, and a nice warm bath.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tired, Tired Little Blogger....

I can tell you that I have not been spending nearly enough time here...I did get two patterns written earlier in the week and a third started. Technically I am ahead of schedule, but still pushing it in terms of The Grand Plan.
So, basically, here's the bullet...
MelissaKnits and Mr. Wonderful bought a house 2.5 years ago for family members to live in. They moved out. The house was not in great shape when they left. So MelissaKnits and Mr. Wonderful have spent a lot of time transforming this:

into this!(Applause, confetti falls from ceiling, large balloon drop, champagne corks popping....):

There's other exciting scenes. There's a reason why I'll look vacant and confused for the next couple of weeks.
And we spent some time trying to figure out what to do with these...also left behind...who are on a waiting list for the Dakin Animal Shelter.(Click, learn, and donate your little heart out. It's a worthy gift you'd be giving.) Very sweet and friendly. They're living in my basement bathroom for now - not as bad as it sounds, it's huge and has everything they could possibly desire, including frequent visitors. If I did not have Hannah-bal to consider I would keep the little black one. She is needy and affectionate, and seems to believe I am her personal savior. Also skittish and nervous, which makes me fear for her future as she's a flight risk on paws. The grey one, Ratana, is a little more aloof. She wants it her way, all the time. She is very busy with her personal task list. She is very detail oriented when it comes to something that interests her, and will ignore all else in her environment until her goals are accomplished. She is, in short, a True Cat. Lil on the other hand is here (on lap, in lap, crossing lap, rubbing lap, demanding lap) most of the time you're with her. After a quick greeting and acknowledgement of your presence, Rat runs off to do things like this - cahse balls, chase string, find trouble, knock down entire bathroom's worth of counter stuff, etc.She's much more secure than Lil, and very, very busy. They're both great cats. Initially they were confused about food and ate excessively until they threw up, then ate more. This stems from a lack of security about when they'd be fed again. They also drank like small dromedaries. They're relaxing into security now; they begin to believe that the box will be clean, the food will be present and the water will not run dry. They seem grateful.
Before MelissaKnits became obsessive about knitting, she bought herself this, a little friend to ease the boredom, to help with small tasks like putting a floor in the living room of the "Investment Property" (this designation has caused me great humor over the last 2.5 years.). This may be one of the smarter things I ever did. It's a DeWalt(before Black and Decker took them over) compound miter saw, 'the small one' (MelissaKnits has small hands, remember). I bouight it with tag sale money, and was eternally glad I did. I used it a lot, to install a click lock laminate floor all by my lonesome, to chop up pieces for hen house, etc. and Mr Wonderful has also used it - although she's a sensitive machine, not tolerant of man-handling...it is coming in handy again, for trim work at the I.P. currently. Yesterday I installed a new bathroom floor and caulked it. I took up the old floor the other day with a heat gun, gloveless, and burned my little fingers in the process (very wise - knitter without gloves doing handyman work?? Great Choice!) Gloves make my feel klutzy. I got myself good and sick on melting glue fumes, and earlier in the week tried to kill myself with a combination of bleach and lethal germs. It's been fun. I am missing probably a few thousand brain cells now, but who's counting?? I can still walk and talk. And knit. I also ripped down some sheetrock and removed some fiberglass insulation. Ancient Mouse Poo and Fiberglass Combo makes Mr. Wonderful require benedryl. I prefer to handle fiberglass when he's not around as a result. The last time was enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, he was florid and gasping after a very brief exposure. Not again, thank you very much. I painted the basement steps, waited for the Carpet Guys, knitted from my Break Corner, ate a wonderful chicken ceasar salad, and cut templates for fill-ins for the laminate. Yes, I know, filthy floor. We don't mop floors till the very last, only sweep often during construction. I learned my lesson the hard way. A freshly mopped floor in a house you're working on is an invitation to mud and grunge. And, basically, floors are not a priority right now. I do feel sorry for this as well. It sits above my Break Corner, and amuses me with it's fresh green self (I gave it a bath when I first saw it dusty and sad). I have considered bringing it home, but Mr Wonderful reminded me that my track record with plants is not great. I have in my posession three Christmas Cacti and one unusual and unkillable thing I can't remember the name of that requires very little water. I generally kill plants. They have to be hardy suckers to survive my benign neglect. How my kids ever ate is beyond me. "Wha?? Supper? WHY?? You JUST ATE six hours ago!?!"
Oh, knitting, yeah. SO here's Mountain Colors Clap, a day ago - she's being descreased now and I hope to have her done by this evening. It really moved along yesterday while the carpet guys were at the IP - not much for me to do during that time but sit and knit while they did the big stuff. Nice break, since it was 5pm and I'd been there working since 8am.

Also started this sock for Gail to show off her hand-dyed stretchy possible sock yarn. It's an inch or so longer now, this pic was taken yesterday also. It was also taken without a flash - when it's done we'll get a good look at the colors. Very springy turquoise and lavender in person.
Now I am going to go rest and work on my Clap. I need to go in early today to Pix-stitute. I am not even close to a true Pix and never shall be, but I try to fill the void just a little.