Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Brave Helius

Since we moved here I've missed this one little thing. This one thing that you don't realize is so important until it is gone. It is called "sunlight". There's a zillion of these things called "trees" blocking every scrap of light from house and lawn and yard. It's generally dark and dingy in here.
Today things are changing. It started early. But I was ok with that. I still am ok with that. I am getting nothing done. I tried, truly I did. But literally trees were falling 15 feet behind my work space. And still are. In fact, I am a bit edgy now with my back to the window. I am glad for this day! Sun, sun, glorious sun! I am not, by nature, a sun-worshipper. You'll generally find me hiding in my basement during the worst of summer, with the dehumidifier on and a glass of ice water. But I have my limits. And when the solar estimate guy came and laughed at us, it was time to make some changes.There will be more pictures tomorrow, when it's all done and over. For now I am moving away from this window (yes, literally, ten feet behind me, there's a cherry picker and a lot of noise and I am a bit nervous when the strays hit the deck)
Oh, knitting. SOCKS! Two for the book. The very warm and cozy cables are Louet Gems Sport, and the pur...something just hit the side of my house. AAK! The purple ones are Franklin, colorway Twilight, NEW from Valley Yarns, and worthy of a look (and a feel, and a buy, and a knit, and a wear!!) and . . . It's not the noise. It's not the falling trees. It's the unexpected CHUNK and WHACK of stuff bouncing off my house that's going to be the death of me today. Franklin is a beautiful new sock yarn, hand dyed by Gail Callahan for Valley Yarns. It comes in a range of edible, squishable, lovable colorways and...mental note: keep all trees well away from house structure in future to avoid mental torment of stuff flinging onto and off of and into house and deck. Wise-as..butts. Laughing and yelling "Timmmmmberrrrr" when stuff is already on the ground, then laughing more. They're like little boys. It's a whole group of six little boys out there with chain-saws and a cherry picker playing lumberjack! You should hear them. It's testosterone-ville. Hysterically funny. Makes me think of when the boys were little and cute...yeah, yeah, socks...see my problem? I can't focus. There's all this yelling and trees falling and engines and chain saws and 40-odd trees meeting their Maker. Maintenance. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. And for home-owners, this means tree cutting. I think there's been nothing cut here in 25 years. A tree grows a lot in 25 years. It eventually shades the house and the deck, and then mold grows on the shakes, and the solar guy laughs at you, and eventually steps must be taken. And I'm ok with that. I am ok with the end result. AAKKKK!! SAVE MEEEEEE!!! I have never been so jealous of Girl and Mr Wonderful as I am today. They can leave. I wish I could leave till it was all over, and return to a pile of brush and a clear view. Seriously though, it's amazing now to get up and look out there, after only a couple of hours, and see sun shining, hitting places it hasn't hit in 25 years (like, oh, the ROOF) and realize that in a few more hours there'll be enough space for a garden, with food, and a sunny spot on the deck for reclining... COOL!
In the mean time, wish me luck, and sanity, and protection from chunks of tree bouncing off my house! The hard hats are off. The boss just left. Pray for me.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I love this thing. From this thing here, to an actual sweater (see below) in one day! The yarn is Artyarns Handpaint Stripes, color 130, needles were a size US4. Time from start to finish: Scathingly brief. Obsession is healthy. Call it a mental health break. It was not a sock, therefore I love it. At about the mid-point I could see where it was going. I loooove it. Fast, simple, only two seams. I ran out of yarn 10 stitches from the end of the final bind off. I took out three rows and reworked them at slightly tighter gauge, and managed to bind off with what I had on hand. Don't get me wrong, I love that baby. But $22 a skein for 12 inches of yarn?? I have since considered that since I need something for seaming, and after all there should be a matching hat, so I might need another skein... I am not certain of actual yarn amount here. The original yarn was donated to me and I have no idea how much was on the ball when I got it, nor did I bother to weigh it (bad, bad knitter!). I did buy one skein, so I know it's more than one, but less than two. Now it needs stellar buttons - I lean toward bears of some kind - and I do think matching socks and hat. And it needs a mate in a spring pea green to match her other little pair of RoBeez shoes, but something fun with cables and other excitement, probably in Valley Yarns Superwash. These little birthday gifts provide
excellent diversion from the whole "Now I think I will write a book..." thing. Oh, and I found this, which is OshKosh - if anyone remembers, I have a long-standing obsession with OshKosh. OshKosh was available at Rich's Department Store, and with careful calculation you could easily obtain enough 75% off clearance outfits to last a year or more. Then Girl wore her brother's outgrown OshKosh overalls in a variety of colors, denim, corduroy, and cotton duck, and some of them are still in circulation on other babies. That makes them around 20 years old. This thing has matching panties! It is too painfully cute. The only thing lacking are ruffles on the butt. I love ruffle butts. We still need the Carhart overalls, and a couple of matching jerseys. And a REAL chatterphone, and colorforms, and a doll's house, and fairy bower and play silks. And a horse swing, and a secret garden, and a playhouse with running water, and a pony. And it's a darn good thing we didn't have another Girl-Child.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Lighter Note

Boo-Boo (Owen) is adjusting to his loss. The rest of us can squelch the canine absence in a flurry of denial and avoidance. Boo does not always allow us this. At mealtimes he still looks - traditionally he is fed first, and then she. He goes to the door when his bowl is filled as if asking where her food is, and why are we not rushing in to feed her? The first day was the worst. Each day he forgets a little. I wish I were a dog. We bought him a distraction, a "hey, sorry we killed off your sister, have a bed!" gift. He looooves it - I have to get him another one for my office, so he can lay by my desk and be supportive. Girl put it on the floor and before she could get the tags off he rushed into the middle of it, turned three times, and plopped down. He handled the editor visit reasonably well too; a little nervous and skittery (well, who wouldn't be?? He was probably wondering if he was going to be disappearing as well!) but once ignored he emerged to be noticed. It's much quieter here. Kioshi was the alarmist. Owen has missed the UPS guy, Mr. Wonderful's homecoming, and Girl's newspaper gathering trips with not even a woof. I always knew he was naturally quieter. When we first got him he did not bark for weeks and weeks, and then one day all of a sudden he let out a huge "WOOF" when Kioshi was barking at something. He shocked all of us, and himself, with a voice ten times bigger than his body. Even Kioshi was momentarily silenced.

The editor came. And she took away three babies with her. Socks, I mean; three pair of socks, the prettiest and most colorful. And one pair of baby socks, cast-on and worked to the foot, past the heel turn, for demonstration purposes at a Workman launch meeting. It nearly broke my heart. They are so young, too young to be so far from hearth and home and mother-love. I am left with this pile of unfinished sock-i-ness, one pair needing re-knitting because I do not think the yarn shows the pattern to best advantage. I am considering a jump to a Great Adirondack yarn. I wanted one in the book; now may be the moment to get one in. We also discussed things like getting my hands in...literally...photographing my hands for the technique section of the book. Now, I don't mind so much having my hands photographed. IF I can have a manicure first. My nails, as a rule, look like heck.
I still have a tiny bit of design to do. This is what we're down to: a bunch of yarns for Fair Isle, and one beautifully cabled sock in progress. It's going to be perfect. Next week. The book-yarn used to comprise two bins stuffed to the rafters with yarns. Now the dwindling remaining yarns sit at the bottom of this one lone bin. But progress was made this week on the writing end. A lot of writing happened. I was worried that I could not get 7,500 words out of this. I need not have worried. I hit 5,000 in a matter of a few hours detailing the step-by-step two socks on one circular technique. Wild. I always knew I loved to talk. Who knew I liked to talk on paper too?!

Because I spent the morning with Gwen, and because of the Monday Sadness, I took the rest of yesterday as a holiday, and started this, the Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket. I am hoping it will be done and will FIT a certain young lady for her birthday. I also want to get her little Carhart overalls, just like daddy's and mommy's, and a rose colored shirt to go under them. I think, together, they will make an adorable outfit, especially if combined with her RoBeez shoes...It's a good thing we never had any more girl children.
Time to go spoil Owen some more, and do the treadmill thing and get back to the grind. And then spoil Owen more. And pet Owen, and rub his head, and sooth his poor nerves. And maybe write some too....
I find this frightening. Not in and of itself, but my ability to actually recognize, without much thought, the products represented...well, that's just sort of creepy. Check it out. I love the poster.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Power of the Dog

Kazesan's Kioshi Hanae

December 23, 1995 - January 22, 2007

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair
But . . . you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear!

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long
So why in Heaven (before we are there!)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

-Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Editor's Coming, The Editor's Coming!

Everybody LOOK BUSY!!
Tuesday morning The Editor, Gwen Steege, is coming by to see where I am at. This feels a bit like when I was 16 and the social worker came by to see if I was ok on my own or needed to be placed in a foster home. Only it won't be me that goes, it'll be my book. Into Foster Care. And I will miss the way, I did snake out of the whole foster care system thing. I think it was my maturity and level-headedness that won her over. That and a dearth of real cases with kids in real trouble.

Before I cry over the editorial visit, let me catch you up to speed on what we've been about here lately.

First, I made dried fruit and fruit leather in my new food dehydrator last weekend. I love fruit leather. I love dried things. We're expanding the garden here significantly on the food side, so there will be lots of things to dehydrate. I began with a simple 4 trays of sliced apples, pears and banana and two mixed fruit leathers. Very yummy. I added some of the fruit to my next project - home made granola with gluten free oats. I want to thank whoever decided to tackle the gluten free oat issue. I missed oats. I love oatmeal, granola, etc. Being able to have some oats again is like nirvana. I wish this was smell-o-vision, because frankly the granola is excellent. And I even managed to remember to write the recipe down. Mostly, sort of.

Now back to the editor issue. I decided I should probably at least look like I am working, right? I mean, after all, it's important to put on a good show (you can ask my family how much of this is show. They seem a little frightened of me right now, but you can ask and be safe) This is where I spend my time now, here and in my knitting chair working up more samples. I have all but one pattern designed. I farmed out a few more this week and weekend to sample knitters. Note my Stitch mug of herbal tea - no coffee for me, unless it's decaf. We're not friends. And my water bottle, 750 ml, so I remember to stay hydrated during the Big Push for the Summit. Then there's the cat, white and glaring in the sun, all 15 years of her. This is the same cat that yesterday had a fit when I had a fit...I was upset a tad, just a small girlish tantrum about Girl's stuff on the sofa. And the floor. And the walls. And get the idea? There was swearing, as Mr. Wonderful stood silently by saying nothing, just providing essential silent support at a moment when I realy needed it. Or maybe he was just scared. I am not sure. The cat? She turned her back on me, sat at Mr. Wonderful's feet staring up at him, and every time I swore she'd "rooooowwwllll" loudly. "Daddy! That woman is YELLING! Make her STOP!" Hannah was adopted from a broken home a few years ago. Any sort of tension in our home causes her to freak out. I spent Saturday afternoon feeling a small bit of guilt about the poor cat. And hanging out with some sample knitters (Mary Alice, Kristen, Katy) at a lovely lunch at Fitzwilly's in Northampton. (Who's idea was it to walk, again??? MINE! I take full responsibility!) I am somewhere in the neighborhood of 4500 words, have not converted the patterns into .docs yet, and have not finished the technique section. I think there's enough material. This was a concern for me early on. I am over it. I am now more afraid that I will have too many words and have to cut things out. Uggh.
Will The Editor smile upon me? Or will she head back across the mountain scratching her head and retaining my advance? Will I die from anxiety about this whole book writing thing, or will I remain as bizarrely primarily calm as I have thus far? In fact, I am a little freaked out that I am not more freaked out...but hey, it's just meant to be! Tune in later this week for more stimulating news!
One last picture. Kioshi and I a zillion years ago, when the Civic was shiny and we lived in Northfield, and my hair was so thick it took 3 days to dry, and my favorite thing was hiking with the Yosh-Monster, who stole lunch from my backpack when she could, and had a strong penchant for Ben and Jerry's Doonsberry Sorbet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Brief Time-Out Of Sorts

If you can call it that. Perhaps "working holiday" might be more in order. Apparently I have to have some sort of photographic images of myself, one in black and white and one in color for Storey. Now, I really really really do not like having my picture taken. I have put this portion of the book-writing venture off. See, it says here in the contract that they won't pay my advance until I do this one little thing, have this picture taken. I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I had Girl call a friend of hers who is a photographer, graduated from Hallmark and everything. $225-$250, the child said, for a few headshots. Not working for me. Cash is not something I roll in, and $225 for pictures of my head just is too much for me. I could use a self-timer if it came to that. In retrospect, I should have gotten my sister Jody to take some pics of me when she was here over Christmas. But hindsight is 20/20 and all that. So, up against a wall, I took a workman's holiday and headed to the local (read closest possible, 45 miles) JC Penney photo studio last week. First-class, all the way! Maybe for a second book we can do better. For now, $19.33 sounds like the perfect number to me. Now, this is a grainy black and white picture of the grainy black and white printer-image they give you at check-out. Not horrible. Also not remotely me. I spared you the other four poses, the ones I did not like. Where's the chicken poo? Where's the dog hair? The t-shirt with a llama on the front? The dirty sneakers?? BUT - Can you say CHEAP? Cheap, cheap, cheap. And acceptable. In one, the "free-8x10-with-coupon" my eyes are nearly scrunched to closing. I was laughing. The other is the one I selected to be "the one", and now I think I look too bloody cheerful. I should perhaps be mindfully staring, intently looking into the distance at some unseen object, some nebulous sock-thought. Perhaps in tweed. With a pipe. The girl at Penney's was lovely, very good at her job, and very sweet. I told her a secret, which made her laugh - "So tell the photographer, that makes sense!!" Well, it does to me. It's a secret after all, and if I tell a total stranger, what's she going to do with the info? Call home and rat me out? Not likely. It's not a bad secret. We were just chatting. More of a nauseatingly girlish secret.

Since I was out anyway, I ran to the Whole Foods Market for cat toys. You heard me,
cat toys. Three of them, which were arranged in a triangle on the dining room floor and provided hours and hours of stalking and hiding entertainment. I also picked up a bunch of produce, some fish, and some weird cereal bars for Girl. And I did swing through their buffet salad bar thing since it was 3pm and I was starved. They have great tofu on their bar. Also a beef of decidedly African influence. And felafel, and brocoli salad and sweet potato salad. This grocery stop was to supplement Mr. Wonderful's grocery trip. Mr. Wonderful did groceries. Also laundry. And Girl has been all kinds of helpful, except for the whole insistance that dirty utensils go in the left sink (which they do not) and newly cut can lids go in the right (which they do not). But the whole dishwasher emptying and refilling without my asking thing, and the preparing of pots of decaf thing? Nice touch.
Then I came home and knitted.
and typed.
and knitted more.
and typed.
and fixed a total moronic space-out on a sample pattern for Persnickety Knitter, and wondered how many other stupid small errors I made along the way, and prayed that I catch them all as I go. I see visions not details. I have to be glued back to the planet for those. It takes time.
and knitted.
Today I am going to knit more. Pics soon, when I have time to figure out how to take pics of socks and some volunteer feet to go in them!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Diva Moment

I simply cannot work under these conditions. I am getting no place. I only got ten patterns typed up this morning. Will you LOOK at this, look at my little bedside temperature thingy! (someday I am going to have one of those big weather stations, with the barometer and all) 24 degrees F. Twenty Four! It was 14 when I got up. And that's just the outside temp. Get a load of INSIDE! 59 freaking degrees!!!! I may as well be outdoors! I quit! Untill the weather returns to it's seasonlly inappropriate 50 degrees F, I simply cannot work.

I have goose bumps. My elbows ache. My poor little hands! They're shrivled with cold, all wrinkly and sore! Uggh! I hate winter. Some day I am moving far from here. I love snow, I hate cold. If there was a way to snowshoe and winter hike without cold, I'd be all over it. This WAAAAS the best winter ever. WHIIIIINEEEE!!!!!!

OK. I am better now. I just wanted to share.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Busy Busy

I forgot! My LOOT! Eleven skeins of Schaefer Anne. So, I have no socks for's all good. It is killing me to keep out of this stuff. Eleven different pair of socks. It's like torture.
That's me all over. A busy girl. Today is a day of treadmill and knitting. Yesterday was a day of visiting the vet with Poor Boo. He's much better today, on an antibiotic, and bouncy as always though still off his food a bit. He has a skin rash that appears to be a staph infection. I wash my hands a lot now...the good news is that unlike his Akita sibling giving him pills is remarkably simple. With Kioshi it involves a lot of nonsense and she acts like she's being skinned. With Boo you merely take a slice of American cheese, wrap it around the pill, hold it on your hand long enough to melt the cheese a bit and then hand it over. He swallows without even chewing and down goes the pill.
I have been working on knitting and writing for the book, since I figure that's sort
of important. I have six samples knitted, six patterns written and awaiting knitting, and six more pattern needing to be written. Actually I feel pretty on track, but sense that soon my family will need to learn to cook. They already have laundry down pretty well. These are a cute Cherry Tree Hill ankle sock that I started to distract my mind from writing for a day or two. They're done. They would have been done yesterday morning if they dog had not been all ill. Poor guy. When Owen does not eat it's time to take drastic action. Hey, did you know that it costs $76 for a culture and sensitivity of goo from a sore on a dog's back? And $2.40 to dispose of two syringes, which is about ten times what the syringe costs. Next time I think I will offer to take them home with me and get rid of them myself, save the $2.40. I have decided that the pet vet industry is a monstrous racket. Anyway, the socks, the yarn looks like a berry mash. I love the color.
This past was a wonderful weekend. First, Number One Stepson and Number One Not-My-Daughter-In-Law-But-I-Can-Wish came to visit. We stayed up till about 2AM Saturday morning (or Friday night, depending on perspective). We had a very good time, playing games and talking. I enjoy this, and so does Mr Wonderful. The next morning we did a late breakfast/brunch thing, then shopped and got ready for Saturday night, when my best friend and her husband came for our belated Christmas gathering. You may remember that about a year ago a
small person entered my life, a sweet and tiny bundle of joy. Well, it's grown some. Quite a bit. Definately over that whole "month early" thing. And I have decided that it's the most adorable little female child I have seen in about 19 years, give or take a month. Is she not adorable?? You should have seen the matching hat, red with fur around the edge, and the tiny white patent leather shoes. Just too cute. We got her a pile of stuff, not as big as I would prefer, but Mr. Wonderful keeps me on a leash where infant shopping is concerned (or Aidan'd own his own outdoor condo in the name of a "playhouse" and probably a small car for his miniature garage...). I got her some Robeez; peas in a pod and flower garden in purple and , a promise to knit matching sweaters for the shoes after the book is done, and a bead roller coaster (which I consider an essential of child development), some books, and a bath toy holder thing. Pretty modest, I think. I got GLUTEN FREE BEER!! Is that not the coolest?? It's not a stout, but by golly it tastes like beer! I am so relieved. I am not a huge beer drinker as a rule, but I do enjoy the occasional glass on the deck with burgers and dogs on the grill in summer, and Mr. Wonderful by my side. If they're working on GF beers, then it's only a matter of time before we see GF stouts and bitter ales. And I got this, to suck my brain, a puzzle of Cinderella Castle. It's actually been good for my brain, all the sorting and organizing and assembling. Reminds me of when I spent the two weeks before my state boards playing Mine Sweeper and solitare for hours and hours at a time. I am on a schedule now - one hour of puzzle for every three of knitting or designing. It works. When I don't cheat. Which of course I rarely do, unless the dog is glued to my thigh and wants to be in constant contact, in which case it's all out the window and the puzzle rules - he can lay on the floor under my feet and be near his mommy. We stayed up late Saturday as well, about 1:30AM Saturday night/Sunday morning for a bedtime. It's a good thing Christmas comes but once a year.
Back to the grind, back to swatching and writing. If I focus I bet I can get all six remaining patterns written to day. Any takers? Anyone? I love a challenge. I have a list here, a stack of white papers with headings, sone filled in, some not, all with design plans. I'd bet I can get it done today, swatched and written in three sizes per sock. I wish someone would bet me so there'd be a thrown gauntlet. I thrive on a gauntlet. These are swatches of socks named after my two favorite babies. Not much of a swatch, but it gives me the idea of where I am going with it. One is a fingering weight solid sock with a turned cuff and fair isle band. The other is a feminine patterned stitch but in strong colors; raspberry and teal and oyster. I love them both. Actually, so far I have not designed a single sock for this book that has made me asy "uggh". I like them all. I like them so much that I am going to return to them!

Friday, January 05, 2007


This needs to be super quick. It's a work day
First, New Treadmill! (close-out, free shipping, and Consumer Reports liked it) I sense that we were being mocked here. Free Delivery does not include "down the drive" or "onto the deck" or even "into the garage to protect from elements". It means "218 lbs in huge box dumped in front of garage, have a nice day lady, good-bye." Sooo....Mr Wonderful kept it from flying down the hill on a hand truck while I navigated it from the front and then we pushed and pulled it up onto the deck. It was not pretty, but apparently was humorous. Once out of the box and assembled (assembly required, who knew?!) I fell in love. It is so quiet that I can't tell it's on really. And I love the smoothness, and the impact absorption thinger, and the cup holder and the fan. And the pulse thing works now, but I think I will still wear my monitor and see who's more accurate. Best of all? When you put the magnetic key on the magnetic starter?? It STARTS. You don't have to jump up and down, pray, beg, plead, or whine. It just STARTS.
61 hats for donation to Save the Children's Caps to the Capital campaign. They're gone now, mailed away. I love Barbara's punkin hat on top there. It's my total fave. I am proud of the knitters who gave time and effort and yarn to this cause, and impressed. As other bloggers have learned, knitters can do amazing things when motivated.
Socks I love, even unwashed or blocked. Schaefer Anne, pattern: my own for the book, and a ton more written and ready to go. OK, not a ton. There's, lessee...three out to sample knitters, five
written and needing knitting, and these and one other here and done. It sounds scary, but it's not at all really. Manuscript deadline: end of February. Personal deadline: February 18th by 8AM. I can knit a sock a day and have saved most of the heavier weights and smaller sizes for last.
Strange, unusual and EXCITING happenings:
My hat is published, thanks to Kathy. South West Trading Co has published this sweet little book of
hat patterns using Karaoke. I designed a hat called Making Waves in Karaoke - I was originally going to call it Mal de Mer, but the name just didn't fly. It was
selected to be included in the book. AND they even put my name on it and everything! Way cool!
And then, the Tilting At Windmills socks that were designed for one of my sisters for Christmas that I submitted to Schaefer? They also were selected - this means Jody gets no socks this year, but maybe by her birthday. Jamie's socks are done, but waiting to be photographed for self-publication. I won a bag of yarn for the Tilt socks - Anne of course!! Psych! Writing books, getting small bits published here and's all rather fun and exciting really!!