Monday, September 25, 2006

Herman est Mort

We must now refer to the garment formerly known as Herman as "The Main Street Sweater". This shall be it's new and forever title, named by Kathy Elkins because I was so stuck on Herman I could not see past it. Besides, it's really her sweater now, so I have little attachment to it's name. It's done, and upon finishing I enjoy it more. I don't say love, because that would be a total lie or at the least an overestimation of the facts in the case. But the shape is good, simple, and I like the more open neck, and the colors are working for me more now, and speaking to me though softly. If it were for myself I'd do something very different with the colorwork, more squares and rectangles, a rectilinear yoke broken down into literal and minimal blocks of color.

Oh for the love of...Mel. Would you LOOK at this? This is an old cast-off treadmill shoe. It has to be more than a year old, and it was heading for the trash as all good shoes must in time. It's not just his favorite toy. It's like a bosom companion, a security blanket of sorts for when his Girl leaves him alone. He plays with sneakers, just like a D-O-G. The thing is not a cat. It's a dog, and every new revelation of his personality only proves it.

Speaking of dogs, we have a visitor. My dad's dog Tucker, a Welsh Terrier is here for a week while Dad is in Dallas, TX. Tucker is a persnickety person. He's used to having his own way, and can be quite grumpy when he does not get it. I adore him. Usually. Here he is shown attempting to assist me in the completion of Herm...I mean the M.S.S. He climbed right up, unasked, onto my lap. I spoke kindly and gently. I urged him to remove to his usual station. I begged. I broke out in a cold sweat, imaginging claws wrapped around yarn pulling, pulling, relentlessly pulling...Tucker sensed my concern. But his pride was greatly injured. He removed, and then refused to speak to me for the remainder of the day except to poop on the floor and stare at me in a very challenging manner. He's a canine extraordinaire! He's something totally other. He's something I'd never pick if I were puppy shopping, but entrancing to know and have around. BooBoo loves him and hates him. Being a jealous dog by nature, Boo cannot stand it when Mommy says things like "Tucker, what a good boy!" or "Tucker, come here and sit by me!" or "Tucker ,(fill in the blank)." Kioshi just wants to - and would eat him if she got the chance. I am not sure why. In their respective puppyhoods they got on just fine; nay, well even. They played very well together and had a wonderful time. Something changed - probably Kioshi's new status as "grumpy old lady". The cats have their own opinions. Mel avoids Tucker. Hannah stalks him like he's prey, and he runs from her. This will make my father happy. Tucker has finally learned the truth about cats. Truth being "OUCH!"

Friday, September 22, 2006


Embrace the the sweater...embrace the the sweater...

It's going to take a lot more than one glass of wine to create a loving environment for this puppy. But it's nearly done, so that's a good thing. I want a mulligan on it. I do not like the neckline. I do not like the colorwork. I want to make a new version, and I shall eventually do so, but not for at least two weeks, because Malea needs her rockstar, and that must and shall be a priority. As of Monday, totally as of Monday it's definately, totally a huge priority!!
And check this - one skein of custom dyed Kangaroo Dyer yarn, using Valley Yarns laceweight alpaca silk. Deee-vine, very Melissa colors, and I cannot wait to decide what to do with it! Design something I think, at least that's the plan.
Wish me luck! Tomorrow I teach a group of kids, ages 7 and up, homeschoolers (phew!), to drop-spindle in a town an hour from home. And my life for two weeks has been Herman (Hermina). Will be interesting to see if I can stay awake, speak coherently, etc. I am taking my assistant (Girl!!) with me to do the actual demonstrating of said drop spindling. I am entirely too brain-fried to even remember how to use the wheel, let alone the accursed spindle. I've never been a drop spindle fan.
But you know, it was a turkish spindle, purchased at Cummington a long long time ago that started the whole thing. After that came The Babe, (double treadle Fiber Starter that I later sold on eBay for what I paid! - how can you not adore a wheel who's parts can be bought at a hardware store??), and then I procured enough Ashford stuff to bea Kiwi, and then I taught myself to knit, and then I discovered Webs, and the rest is, well...Mystory! I miss spinning. I miss the peace of it. Maybe after tomorrow, inspired by the youth, I'll make more time.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Perfectly Normal Chaos

This is my life. I really despise clutter, and the amount of frantic energy working into a project is directly proportional to the amount of chaos and clutter around me. When the garment is done, the clutter fades, everything is tidied back up, and I go back to a more sensible frame of mind and of space. From now until the design process is complete, this is my life. I am shooting for Tuesday afternoon as a clean-up day, when the final plans are in place and I can move on to just knitting the thing. What thing?
This thing. This is Herman the Lenox Swatch. Lenox is a new yarn that I would marry if I could. I love it. Fantastic yarn, well spun, great fiber content, soft, perfect. But the swatch? We are not in love. We may be by the end of things, but this is a truly hated garment, not like Make/Colorful Tracks which I just loved from the beginning. In fact, I hate Herman. But somehow, Herman must become a fair isle-ish pullover by next Monday. This is Herman the Sketch, with two neckline variations, and a looser sleeve than planned. I am thinking shaped pullover with a 3/4 sleeve. Neckline to be determined.

This is a completely unfinished (unblocked, unlined, un-ready to go) bag in a new yarn, Colrain. I also adore this yarn. I actually wanted a bag because I have a sweater in mind, but time being what it is, and the yarn being where it is, I must content myself with the bag for now. It has tencel in it which gives it a lovely shine that's perfect for stitch definition; think cables, twisted stitches, K/P combinations. I love it. Soft as a baby's butt. This is the bag pattern. Too funny for words! Eventually the bag will be finished and the pattern written properly, all by Thursday. Also on tap for Thursday is a Stripey Sock, in Valley Yarns new superwash which I also love, love, love! It is everything you could ask for in a superwash. Soft with a satiny feel, lovely bounce, great stitch definition. In fact, if things keep up, I may never need to buy any yarn but Valley Yarns ever again. All I need now is a superwash fingering weight for socks and baby goods. Solid colors only, none of this striping stuff, with a touch of nylon for durability and long wear. Sorry there's no links to the yarns at Webs website, but this is how new they are; they are not even posted yet. In fact, the ink is not dry on the ball bands, and the seams on the bags are not cooled from sealing. We're talking new-new. Brand new baby new.

Things here have been nutty, which is fast becoming typical. We had such a long run of peace and quiet that the last couple of years have been shocking; gradually increasing in drama and excitement, and I wish it were all over. In fact, I cannot wait until it is all over. I prefer a life in which I need no vacation because it feels like one every day to this constant intensity. First the "investment property" was cleaned and prepared for sale, which took our first potential vacation. At last it was on the market, then it was under deposit and things were looking up - it'd close in time for us to go away, maybe! And then the sale fell through. As the sale was falling through, Girl's brakes failed on her way to school, our truck needed a bunch of work, our septic had a tantrum involving unusual odors and products filling up the basement shower pan, I got some not so great medical information (nothing life-threatning, just life-adapting, and I hate change). I am holding onto sanity by designing ugly F.A. swatches from a cashmere blend and cute little cabled bags and striped superwash socks. Luckily one of the suggested life adaptations involves a lot of sweat in the form of walking on the treadmill, biking more inside and out, and lifting weights. This is a good thing. Pain is distracting. The variety is also excellent, it prevents boredom. And being told that you can have some control over a disease process by life choices is really amazingly liberating. I CAN choose. Most people can't. Exercise calms the mind and soothes the soul. We did a short ride (for him - long for the beginner in spite of the hours on the trainer with Good Old Coach Troy) yesterday with hills and cars and all the other unexpected things a road ride has to offer, except mechanical failure. Some guy in a mini-van was so close to me that if I'd stuck my elbow out I would have contacted his vehicle. Mr. Wonderful tells me that these people are everywhere, and he has a special name for them which I cannot repeat. It is a naughty name, a potty-mouth name, but it fits. I sense that cyclists are a source of amusement for some folks in cars. " close can I get?" I understand the frustration of a driver confronted with bikers in the middle of the road. But I wasn't in the middle of the road, I was on the white line, there were no other cars coming, there's no breakdown lane...and no excuse for the proximity of that car to my elbow. It made me angry. Not scared. Not sad and sorry. Mad as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. I wanted to chase the guy down and yell in his face. He threatened my new baby.

So now Girl's car is fixed, and the truck is running, and the septic is happy and clean, and I am adapting to lifestyle changes and assorted expenses I had not anticipated, and the "investment property" is back on the market with a new agency. Life is good. God does not send more than you can handle. It just seems like it some days. This week it's seemed a lot like God was confused about who He was handing stuff out to, and just got stuck over our names and kept doling out little bits of insanity. He's got a plan and all, but somedays I wish He'd share, just enough so I know there's a point. So I move forward, praising in the face of the dishes of trouble. We spent yesterday at the I.P. washing windows, and scrubbing walls and dusting and mowing and all of that. There is an open house today. I am prayerful, and hopeful, and believing that I will have a buyer by this evening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Get Knitting.

For a good cause, even...
A recent study by Save the Children illustrated easy and inexpensive steps to save the lives of newborns and infants. One of the simplest ways to preserve life and health is the wearing of simple knitted or crocheted hats.

So what are you waiting for? Go to Save the Children and download your pattern packet and instructions for hat submission, and get those needles moving. Caps to the Capital wants 250,000 knitters. I bet we could give them a lot more than that by January 2, 2007.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Weak Entry

Not the weakest, but pretty crappy.
First I have a picture, such as it is, of the shawl for Gail during blocking. I will get a couple of more in the next couple of days of it on a person or on the dummy for Gail's use. I need to write the pattern today. It should be fairly quick and leave lots of time for vegetative knitting and watching of old movies purchashed at Christmas Tree Shops with my MIL on Tuesday. Girl found two sets; comedy and romance, 8 movies each, and not all garbage. But I digress - about the shawl. For the moment I am calling it the Cape May Shawl because it reminds me of a certain resort at a certain location that shall, for the sake of Betsy, remain nameless. It may be simply that I have that location on my brain this week in sheer desperation for a True Vacation, or it may be that the colors remind me of the place, I am unsure. Regardless, Cape May it shall be called, and I have no idea when or where it will be available, because it's going to be Gail's pattern. Kangaroo Dyer's pattern. I love it the more I look at it. Initially, during early blocking I was disgusted. It took patience. Once it was all pinned out and the ogees became more obvious, and the colors were doing what I'd wanted them to do - no pooling just drifting in and out like waves on the sand - I was pleased. Because there is not a huge dramatic difference in the colors the flow works. If it were a distinctly variegated yarn I think there's be too much competition. (ogee: a shape consisting of a concave arc flowing into a convex arc, forming an s-shape curve with vertical ends)
Gratuitous detail shot...taken just before Boo-Boo decided to move in for a nap. He just strolled up to the blocking board, stepped on and started to curl his tail under him to lay down. I stood in shock, motionless and speechless while Girl shouted at him. The lug. What an idiot. "Oh, look, pins and a shawl, I will rest here!" You should know that we've spent a lot of time trying to get him to lay down on approved dog beds and he is terrified of them all. But knitted lace, straight pins, and a very hot scunci? No problem. Sigh. I really like the color. It's not "my" colors at all, but I love them just the same. I am glad there is not a great deal of drama in the coloway so that your eye is not constantly flicking back and forth - ogee, color, ogee, color, what should I look at first? You can really only get away with this kind of pattern if the color shifts are subtle. For an example of why not to use rich patterns with deeply contrasting colorways, you can refer to MIL's shawl (that she does not know about, so SHHHH)in permanent time out. And it's much bigger now than it was then. It's about 18 inches long and I don't know how many inches wide. Too much diversity of color, to much shine from the silk, it must be Destroyed and ReKnit in simple purse stitch - let the yarn do the work.
In other stimulating news...Girl's cat has reached new levels of weirdness. He is obsessed with one sneaker of a pair that was heading for the trash. Now she won't let me throw it away. These are beat-down treadmill shoes and were replaced Tuesday with new Nike walkers. Apparently, just riding your bike is not good for your bones. Picky. So now I throw in a treadmill routine with ankle and wrist weights at least once a week for 1hr 20m. It's boring. I need a Runervals dvd so I have something to look at. Coach Troy, amusing me on the bike nad off the bike. It is possible that I have ADHD. Apparently so does Mel, and he's turning to old sneakers for friendship and amusement. Girl started college this week. Maybe the loneliness is driving him to sneaker-lust? He may need therapy. He gets weird when she leaves, lays by the door just like when she goes to work, and weird when she comes home too. He comes flitting from whatever space he's inhabiting, trotting to the door like a DOG. I just can't get over it.
I had a physical last Friday. The decision to schedule it well in advance of my birthday trip was a good one. Just get it all out of the way; pokes, prods, blood work, any associated bad or good news. That way when we go away I can just do what one does on vacation - rest, relax, and reflect. And para-sail, and have margaritas and go upside down on roller coasters and float in lazy rivers and play mini-golf and maybe rent a water mouse, and ride bikes and kayak a little. Part of me really wishes it were December already!!