Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It wasn't that bad

Truly, it was not horrible. Cluttered, for certain, and definately dark and forboding, but not utterly awful. It just needed a face lift and some storage. The time had come. I think the highest irony of my life is my inability to escape a certain set of colors in my decorating attempts. I went to Home Depot full of anticipation. Which colorway would I select of the millions of options? I laid stacks of paint chips out in front of me. Eventually I whittled it down to - and sorry I tossed them now - three options. One utilized cool whites and dove grey with accents of plum. Soothing. One was insanely orange with a lime green twist. Very tropical feeling. In
the end I chose this; ranges of peach and orange with sage accents. What a shock. I mean, since I have painted, what, six rooms in my life in these or very similar colors? And at my first wedding the flower girls wore peach (my pick) dotted swiss (not my pick) and I cried because the sticklers in the family would not let me put peach bows on my wedding dress? My car is orange, like a creamsicle (or a circus peanut!). My favorite Noro Silk Garden colorway is 84. I bought this pattern and this yarn to make it up in last year. (And maybe someday I'll even knit it up...) I went shopping with my MIL and Girl and came home with four blouses all in similar colors - ranging from orange to peach and back, and I bought a pair of shoes in a color that can only be called bronze, and was sad that they did not "have more orange in them". Clearly I have a palatte problem, as in "limited".
Now, in our last post the paint was completed, and we needed only a floor, some trim, and a lot of Ikea boxes opened and stuff put together (we're not there yet, but soon). Monday was supposed to be floor day. I got a rain delay. I have enough trouble with the saw blade, let's not add water. Actually, that's a bit of a fib, me and my saw are really bonded. I bought it with tag sale money specifically to install another floor many moons ago, and we've become quite good friends since. Somewhere there's a list of safety instructions that say things like "do not allow fingers past this point" and "always wear appropriate safety gloves and eye protection when operating this unit". And I am pretty sure "do not operate saw from standing position while holding up one end of board with big toe and holding down other side of board with finger 1/2 inch from blade, while pulling saw head down with left hand when you're right hand dominant" was in there too, but since I never read it I figure it does not apply. Yesterday was sunny and bright and warm enough for sawing on the deck, so I began the flooring process. First I assembled my tools. This caused concern. The dog in the fore is a concerned Milla, who is technically the dog-daughter of my sister-in-law Maureen, although she's currently living with my mother-in-law Judy. The dog in the rear is a very nervous Owen, or Boo, who fears anything involving loud music, saws or banging. They really had nothing to fear. Until I discovered that the closet, crammed full of all manner of crap from board games to reams of paper to dog grooming supplies had to be emptied in order for the job to proceed. At that point the dogs left the area completely. Milla holed up under the dining room table with her paws over her head, and Boo went and sat - straight and stiff and slightly shakey - in his bed.
By afternoon we were here - not a bad place to be, but not as far along as I would have wished. I got some more done after I had a haircut. This was a truly desperate situation if ever there was one. It had gotten so bad that I refused to leave home without a headscarf. I hate it when it brushes my nose. It's all I can do to keep from taking scissors to it myself. Apparently while my mother was sick and I was finishing up the sock book and buying a car and all of that craziness I missed a hair appointment. Today is the day for finishing floors, because sitting on the floor with the keyboard on my lap and the mouse beside me with my coffee is not the most comfortable position to blog, email, read in. It is sunny and bright and I hope to be done by noon and off shopping for t-molding and reducers for the doorways. And a mountian bike. And a starbucks cinnamon dolce latte thing, decaf, skim. Mmmmm.
Now if I could just find this print with exceptionally good color quality and in the perfect size for some wall of this office, my life would be complete.

Wiliam Holman Hunt
The Lady of Shalott
Go see it.

"She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott (1842)

Monday, March 26, 2007

What a Week.

Last week was a little crazy and weird. You know the kind of week that just gets sucked right out from under your feet before you even knew it was starting? Or the kind of week that when it's over just looks like this? That was my week.
The bad news last week was that I could not find my camera cable. Well, I found one in the laptop bag. This means I will be able to share with you, in pictures, the finished flower basket shawl, cows, and Girl dumping poo on the ground (but more about that later.) I drove a lot, was not home much, and had that great time-killer "jury duty" drop into the middle of my week. You ever see Toy Story? The part where the little alien guys are in the machine? "The Claw chooses who will go and who will stay..."? That's how it felt, sitting in a room with 63 other people waiting for The Claw to descend. At 8am. After spending 70 minutes doing farm chores 20 minutes from home in the opposite direction of jury duty.
Usually I love doing chores. I am used to the whole rhythm of it, and for the first few days it's novel and soothing. But then Girl's car breaks. Then it snows. And I get snagged by The Claw. And the coffee pot gets broken. And the hours get smaller and smaller and smaller, and no knitting happens, and no sleeping happens and nothing happens that does not involve the smell of cow s#!t or the inside of my car, driver's side.
I believe in being connected to your food. I know most of my meat by name. I know what they eat, and how they live. You'll note, by the way, that there is not a significant difference (beyond color) in the ends of these animals. The same blank appearance is present in both the hind and front ends. They are what Mr. Wonderful calls "dumb as stumps". Currently there are Ivan (who's what we call "next"), Socks, Ben and Jerry and...and...Buddy. Naming your food Buddy says something about the situation. What it says is that 'Buddy' is about as likely to get eaten in the end as the family dog. Buddy is an orphan. He's now the size of my car, and a spoiled brat. Buddy does things like butt you in the tush and/or lower back as hard as he possibly can with his miserable bovine head, knocking everything out of your hands. This is a nursing behavior that mother cows beat out of calves as they grow. Buddy did not have a mother cow. Instead he had a bunch of suckers who fell for his big eyes and curly lashes. I would eat Buddy after this week.
Basically, our food has a face. It also has a componant most meat-eaters never encounter. It has poo. Lots and lots and lots of poo. Poo that must be removed. What happens with poo is that after a good snow fall, the cows refuse to move much beyond their barn. They fear snow. The cows seemed to be pretty intimidated by the stuff, sort of the opposite of an Alzheimer's patient who won't walk on dark carpet because they think it's a hole? These cows won't walk in the white stuff because it's...not a hole. So the poo piles up fast, and gets walked in and becomes a slurry of poo and mud with puddles of water forming on the surface as the temperatures hover just above freezing. It smells like poo, which if you grew up on or near a farm does not bother you much, but you are always aware of the effect the poo has on others, like fellow jurors, students, shop-keepers, etc. Wheel-barrows are not the easiest thing in the world to drive when they're loaded with slushy poo, especially over rough terrain, and sometimes bad things happen to good Girl. I had filled the barrow and turned it over to Girl for disposal. I probably should have had more sympathy. I mean, mothers are supposed to be caring, gentle souls right? I didn't. I laughed my butt off while I tried to get a good picture of the poo on the ground, and the angry Girl. I would have fallen down laughing if it were not for the poo beneath me. You don't want to see the face of Girl. It was not a face of ironic humor. It was not a face that accepted it's role as s#!t shoveler. It was a face that said - clearly - "My mother is laughing at me and taking pictures for her frelling blog, AND I AM GOING TO KILL HER!!".
Lest you think we have time for nothing here but gaities, we'll talk about the office. I don't do well with 'slow'. I am kind of a fast mover when it comes to projects. I figure with a good latex paint and two people you should be taped, properly cut in, twice coated, and done (including tape off) in less than one day. Mr Wonderful approaches jobs with a very different attitude. It is, to be certain, a more relaxed one. But we do not agree. Once I commit, I have one speed - high. I don't stop till it's done. I will skip meals, ignore children and pets, and basically continue until forced to stop. The difference in our styles becomes more apparent as we age. I am able to do less if I want to be able to knit the next day, so where normally I would adopt the "FINE, I'll do it myself" mentality, I now must wait. A lot. I had the room painted and ready to go by early afternoon of last Saturday. Trouble is, I can't move onto the floor until Mr. Wonderful finished the ceiling. All week long I wanted to choke him. "JUST PAINT THE FLIPPING CEILING!!!" was running through my brain daily. "So, you worked all day. Big deal! Who cares!?! PAINT!!! PAINT NOW!!!". In the interest of marital bliss I said nothing. I survivied, the ceiling is done and I am starting the floor today.
Finished and blocked the Flower Basket. I basically ignored the directions. I used one strand of alpaca silk laceweight, hand-dyed by Gail Callahan. I think I was using a size 6 needle, but I don't really remember. (I know, isn't it awful how I totally don't pay attention to stuff like that!?) The pattern calls for two strands of something totally other and a completely different needle size. The result is a super-light and beautifully lacy shawl that I love. I loved the pattern - I was using the Interweave version, NOT the Fiber Trends version which we've had some trouble with at the store in drop-in. I really think that anyone who wants to knit this shawls should have both patterns at their disposal. The Fiber Trends version gives great alternatives for yarn weights. I don't wear shawls, which is kind of sad. But there it is, ready to be worn and beautiful. And I am very sorry about the crappy pictures. I swear this camera just makes choices about whether or not it will work on any given day. No matter what I do it just has bad days. It's been dropped a few times. Maybe that's the problem. It's been dropped a lot, actually. I did finally figure out the auto white balance thing (thank you Tamara!) That made a huge difference. But the "I feel so out of focus, and I don't feel like using my flash today..." nonsense continues. It;s not that old. 2 years?
Man, this house smells amazing right now. Last night's coq a vin is simmering on the stove into soup-ness and it smells just amazing. I want to crawl into the stock pot with it. It's a soup day.
Oddity of the week - a triple-yolked light blue
Americauna egg about the size of a goose egg. Unbelievable. The brown egg is a normal hen egg for comparison. It's her first egg of spring; she goes out of lay over winter. I guess she thought she'd get it started with a big ole' bang. This is my first triple yolk ever. I can't believe the hen can even walk after popping this thing out. It's like the equivalent of a 15 pound, 4 ounce kid born vaginally, no epidural, no episiotomy. Just unreal. I bow to the abilities of Yenna2, the greatest blue-egger in town. Now if she'd just eat some calcium so her shells would last into the house...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good News, Bad News.

Good news first - it's going to be over 50 degrees - FIFTY!! - later this week, for three whole days! I am very excited.

Bad news - I finished my flower basket shawl, gutted and began renovation of my "office", but I can't post a single photo because my camera cable is buried in the next room in a box of junk, and my computer is still under a plastic drop cloth till the ceiling is done. But it's so LIGHT and airy in here already!! It's awesome. A lovely shade of light terra cotta covers two walls and a paler version coats the other two and the beams of the ceiling.

Girl and I are waiting for the sander to make a visit so we can go feed cows. We got an inch of white gunk overnight. I'll have pics of that too, soon as I can! (the cows, not the snow. snow stinks.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wild and Wooly Week

Someone dented my car. I was parked next to a black SUV at the JC Penney outlet whilst
shopping with my mother-in-law and Girl. Normally I park away from other cars. We went for a car wash after our venture and there appeared a big old "gotcha!" over my wheel well. I sent a picture to my father (" big mean SUV hurt my tiny car!") and he responded that I should take some mild rubbing compound or abrasive powdered cleaner and see if I could rub the Tahoe paint off, and the spot would then be invisible. "Don't rub too soft..." he said "...but not too hard either." What exactly does that mean, anyway? My father is nearly always right. I say nearly because he was half-wrong this time. Some of the Tahoe paint did come off, but it's not invisible underneath. There is the equivalent of a skinned knee, down to the metal and all. It's as if that big old SUV was bullying my poor little economy vehicle. She's got her first black eye from the big kids. She'll show them. She'll get 38 mpg from now on, and still haul a rooms worth of Ikea home in her spacious interior. That'll teach them. HAH!
I took a sock for a ride this week. I can't show you it's face as it has been submitted to an online knitting e-zine and cannot be seen in public until rejected or accepted. So I will show it in disguise, like on Maury. (cue theme music: "Coming up after the break, this sock confesses it's tawdry affair with it's own sibling!!") We were on our "sunny location" field trip in the middle of MARCH in New England. Now, it was a warm day, but March in New England does not involve the color green. It is more of a muddy blackish-brown with gray splashes. It does not involve bright direct sun, but diffuse sun trying desperately to break through the haze of winter. We hit a local cafe, where people started at me oddly because I was photographing a sock on a plastic foot in public. Next we visited a parking garage, where people started at me oddly because I was photographing a sock on a plastic foot in public. Then we found a local butterfly museum, where people started at me oddly because I was photographing a sock on a plastic foot in public. I noted the trend. It was sad really, especially the pictures in Northampton. It's NORTHAMPTON, for crying out loud. A woman photographing a sock in public is NOT the most unique thing to be seen in Northampton. My favorite moment was when the carload of teenaged girls with various creative piercings and unnatural hair colors stared blankly with open mouths. Somebody missed the 'rebel' boat.
The Editor emailed and took me off the hot seat for a time. She said they're designing covers. She said she loves my manuscript - yes, she used the word "love". She said she followed the directions and made a pair of socks. Life is good. My book does not stink entirely. Frankly, folks, from the moment you hand it over until the moment someone other than a blood relative actually buys a copy, you're pretty sure it stinks, and stinks big time. In fact, it's a lot like parenting. Until it gets a degree and/or a decent job, stays out of jail, does no dangerous illegal thing that puts it's life at risk (that you know of)...really, you're not sure you've got the job down at all. You're winging it and hoping no one figures out just how totally you suck as a parent. That's how I feel about the book. Like it's all a big old sham and someone is going to come along and say something like "Hey, whadda ya think you are, an author???" while guffawing loudly. A thigh-slapping coarse laugh that fills the room. So far, no one's laughing, although they appear to be smiling a lot, which is good. Or...maybe they lie to you to keep you from jumping off tall stuff... ("Yeah, yeah, we know it's awful, but don't tell her just yet, ok?")
Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club came to Webs this
week to speak and sign. This was exciting, with a new feeling to it, watching from the outside as an author with a book coming soon versus a store patron; seeing how it goes, what happens, how it flows. There were a lot of people there for a Monday noontime. I wonder if I could get Julia Roberts to read my book, option it for a movie - - oh, man, that's it!! A sock MOVIE!! I planned out my idea of "how to speak in public when launching a sock book". Gratefully I will not have to read it out loud - phew. I mean, who wants to hear me read patterns? Or even technique? Out loud? But I have to come up with something to say. Actually there's not much I can talk about. I can discuss the characters: "There is 40-inch Circular, he's the hero of our tale..." I could talk about the various patterns and their life changes: "And then the heel of the cabled leg was turned. Yet still it was not a sock. Angst rose up tight and hot in it's throat as it yearned for a direction; a life of it's own. Longing for the completion of a gusset and foot, the heel decided to have stitches picked up along its side..." Not so much, huh? Eh, I have months to work on this.
I love the buzz the store gets when it's nutty. I love the cash wrap covered with knitters needing help or shopping or both. I also love the community gathered around in chairs to hear something of common interest. Not like I am romanticizing this or anything, but seriously, there is something comforting in the buzz when it's busy. It used to make me a little fractured, the sounds like a hive of very busy bees. When The Harlot came last year and there were a zillion people all around waiting for books to be signed, or shopping, or just staring at the poor woman while she signed, I ran into the classroom behind her and hid. It was overwhelming and I remember thinking what it must be like to sit in that seat, and wondered how much alcohol or anxiolytics it'd take to keep one's "arse" planted on the chair. And do you have to ice your hand after a day like that? And is it worth it? I am not only used to it now, but I will go out of my way to be in the store when there's a famous person coming, just to hear the hum. I figure that's a good sign too.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Break's Over.

So. The days of fun in the (ice cold) sun, relaxin', chillin', following the patterns of others are totally over for the moment. Meet Goshen, new from Valley Yarns, a cotton/modal/silk blend. We fell in deep like today during swatch building time. I am leaning toward something baby-ish, toddler-like, maybe a cute hoodie in these very ice-creamy pastels just in time for spring and summer outings. Trouble is I can't decide which swatch I like better. I think the first, but I am open to a third. I want to get a decision made by tomorrow so I can write and begin knitting something. That's amusing. "Get" a decision, like it's not something I personally have to decide. Somedays I wish I could blame everyone else for crappy color choices and ugly pattern dieas. But no, this time around it's all in here. Odd, that break was a lot shorter than I expected. Back in the saddle again. There are three patterns here that need to be written for self publication. It's time to forge some deadlines for myself. I manage to meet everyone elses' but my stuff languishes without the ax of demand hanging over my head. Question: what motivates a knitter to get off her lazy butt and work?

(answer: FREE YARN!)

I watched The Notebook today. I must have popped it into my queue in a weak moment. I bawled like a baby. These Nicholas Sparks jobs should come with a freaking warning label, and a hanky rating. I think I emptied a box, watching and swatching with tears pouring all over my face while muttering "This is a horrible, horrible movie!!" Thank God no one was home, or they'd be carting me to the nearest locked unit by now. ***sniffle*** It was just painfully and beautifully... ***sniffle*** touching... TISSUE! I need a TISSUE!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ikea, Again!?

Of course. See, in the little booklet for the Fit the car is shown outside of an Ikea-esque location loading up with Ikea-esque boxes bearing the not-actually-Swedish words 'ruhm' and 'zuhm' and 'funkshonal' and 'styl'. I simply wanted to verify that there was no false advertising on the part of Honda - that the Fit could go to an Ikea-esque location, load up with Ikea-esque boxes, and still be roomy, stylish, responsive and functional. I am pleased to report that Honda does not lie, the Fit is more than Go. My mother-in-law and I managed to load an entire office worth of furniture into the car, drove 160+ miles, visited the mall, and looked good doing it. The car is such a blast to drive and I adore it. I figured we'd go with the actual Ikea, since I don't know of any other extremely gargantuan yet unlabeled blue and yellow buildings with a large availability of cardboard boxes bearing fake Swedish words. Once again I managed some great scores in the As-Is room - a $70 desk top for $10, cabinet doors that are usually $28 a pair for $4 each, and a slide-out keyboard drawer for $5 instead of the $12 it sells for on the floor. I saved enough to get two little things for Emily - a very cool wooden stacking toy and an even cooler wooden push-along thing. And all at a very comforting 36 MPG at 70MPH on I-91. I love Ikea. I love the concept. I love that they are going to begin charging consumers a nickel for each bag they use. I love that all my stuff is neatly in my garage in boxes awaiting assemby when we need it. I really really love that I just outfitted an entire office including four wall cabinets, a wardrobe, a desk and a printer cabinet - and little stuff for home and baby - for $633.
"But does she knit anymore?" you ask. Yes, a little. I am still working on my Flower Basket shawl, and am actually at the point where it says to begin the border, but looking at the tiny thing I think I will work a few more repeats of the flower basket pattern first. In fact, I was considering doing the border in Franklin, and using all of the alpaca silk for the body of the shawl. It just looks very tiny to me in it's current state, and insufficient for covering much of my person even when blocked. I also swatched for Lucy's Shawl, created by the brilliant Katy Wight, future Fit owner, for Webs. The original is made with Deerfield, a yarn I love to bits. I have no Deerfield, but I do have a very capable Deerfield substitute - I can't give you it's name as it does not really exist; we can call it "the yarn that was supposed to be Deerfield, but wasn't". It's been calling to me from the box under my chair for a while now. I considered, breifly, being very creative and inventive with it and even had an idea in mind but thought it'd make a perfect mindless post-book project. I decided to work it up on smaller needles and add an extra repeat or two of the lace pattern to compensate for the difference in yarn weight. A completed swatch would give me all the information I needed to decide whether to add one or two addditional repeats. My swatch was completed over the weekend and took a spin in the washer after a thorough wetting. Then I forgot about it, what with it's being Saturday (Tequila) night and all. Last night I came home and stuffed my brand new Ikea Andrea Blom comforter cover into the washer, turned it to warm, and this morning removed a very clean comforter cover and a beautifully felted alpaca-silk lace swatch. ***sigh***. So we begin again, or just say "Forget it!" cast on enough for an extra repeat or two, and move ahead. Don't-cha love the stitch distortion a little warm water can cause?? I am finding increasing irony in the knitting of shawls that I will probably never actually don. I like to knit them, but rarely wear them. This is sad, possibly wasteful, and not something I muse on for very long. The soothing rhytym of the shawl is enough to keep me coming back for more. I've also picked up the much neglected Mr Wonderful Dale sweater, begun in 2004, maybe finished in, oh, 2008? I have finished the bottom border and have entered a land of endless black stockinette stitch. I ebt that'll move riiiiight along...
Don't you love this? I do. It's so RED. I want to crawl into it. It's the new comforter cover, Andrea Blom. I needed something sunny before my mind died. I am so sick of cold and winter and this thing makes me feel very awake and bright. I am going to scoot upstairs and put it on the bed and just stare at it for a while and think warm thoughts.