Friday, July 27, 2007

Entrance Ramp

There is an entrance ramp to the info superhighway being built right here at my little rancho. I am over the moon. Ecstatic. Joyful.
So what, there's an elephant on the roof. Who cares? It's a really fast elephant! This is my final post from dial-upville, folks. In a matter of minutes I will be cruising at speeds heretofore never experienced in our little wilderness. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Great Sadness.

WHY!?! WHY did I get the big boobs, big hips, round baby belly, abbreviated torso and abbreviated stature?? WHY!?!?! Is it not enough that I was LAST? Is it not enough that I have a huge mole on my non-existent chin? Was it not enough to "bless" me with feet too small for normal grown-up shoes, so that I perpetually hunt discount aisles for kids shoes that look grown up?? Wasn't it sufficient to curve my spine into some insane corkscrew? And what about the odd little baby toe nail that can't be painted? Make me "gluten intolerant" so that the closest I can get to a piece of bread is a little sniff? No. Apparently not enough.
Case in point: Beautiful Berger Du Nord Belle handpainted yarn. Amazing pattern. Lovely appearance of nearly finished garment. So I try it on over my sundress - very excited, waiting to see how adorable I look...and I gasp. I don't look adorable. I look like a frelling cow. Girl looks. She makes a face - not a nice one. I say "I look like a cow, don't I?" She says "It's the dress, Mom. It has to be the dress. Try it without the dress." I take off the dress (no shame here). I stick the sweater back on. She makes the face again. I return to the mirror. I still look like a frelling cow. MOOOOOOOOO!!! In this garment it appears someone has placed a weight on my head and squashed me to about 1/2 of my normal height, but left all the curves in place, so instead of being curvy and soft and womanly they're just..well..MOOOO!!

Anybody with a 38" bust want a sweater?? I need to cry now.
And they ask why I never knit for myself.

God Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day Trippin'

Two more peas in the pod! I LOVE what people are doing with them!

We don't vacation like normal people. This has been brought home to me this summer as friends head off for various locations - Persnickety for Squam Lake, Katy for Maine, etc. Our vacations happen in winter, when we trade frostbite and five layers for sunny, hot days and tank-top evenings. I enjoy vacationing against the seasons. But I also like to get away, so we day trip. Sunday we went to Shelburne, Vermont. We took Girl along. She's been there before but it was a long time ago. When you're six it's all about riding the carousel and getting on the boat. When you're 19 you can do stuff like stand without blinking in front of a Monet for ten minutes, just falling into brush strokes. Or you can play moth with your father while standing in front of a chandelier that's not only amazingly sparkly but also dishwasher safe.(yes. dishwasher safe. Also $10,000). There's a whole exhibit of the things, including one made of ping pong balls, which is ironic for me. Mr. Wonderful played "real" table tennis quite a bit during our "dating" period. I spent a lot of weekends studying anatomy and phisiology while listening to the whack of a paddle and the stomping of feet. (Believe it or not, when you're a young single mother with young kids who go away on weekends, table tennis tournaments are an easier place to study than a weeknight at home.) But again - and I do this often - I digress. There's also an exhibit of contemporary quilts. They were amazing. My camera continues to be unamazing, so no pics. If you're in the area and can visit Shelburne before fall, the chandeliers and quilts are worth a stop, not to mention the fine art, architecture, history.
We've had plans to expand this day trip into a weekend involving kayaking on Lake Champlain and wandering Burlington, but so far this has evaded us. There is a new stop in my life - Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has built a lovely little welcome center in Waterbury, where they sell product and provide restrooms and even have a little educational coffee exhibit. It inhabits a beautifully restored old train station. I entered to win a K-cup machine. No clue what I'd do with it. It seems much to disposible for me. Down the road a bit is a factory store which was closed on Sunday - but I'll be back.
No trip to Vermont is complete without a stop at the A&W on Route 7 outside of Middlebury. A real live A&W with carhops and root beer. I remember back when I was young demanding the bigger Mama Burger and pouting when they made me get the Baby Burger. "I'm not a baby!!" Everyone else got big burgers, everyone but me. I also remember being the only kid in the car refusing to drink root beer. Always Coke in my little mug, thank you very much. Now it's root beer floats, and watching Mr. Wonderful and Girl eat their gluten-laden fries and dogs. The Fit with the little tray perched on the window made me think of the old Flintstones opening, with Fred and Wilma and Pebbles at the drive-in when the car tips over under the weight of the tray? I was a little nervous about it. But she stayed stable on all four tires.
We also stopped at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, former home of Hermes the Bear now felted and missing all the velvet off his nose. Girl found a new little love, a cutie who's name I have already forgotten. A car-sized bear for a Girl on the move. She says Hermes is fine with it, but I heard him crying into his pillow later. I can't say I love the bears now, though. We had a fantastic customer service experience with them when Hermes lost a limb, but things have changed at the factory. It's all about cheap build-a-bears; 'a new one every time you come'. And the fur on the classic bears has been changed and feels too soft, Walmart. It was sad. The visitor center is kind of tacky when placed in my mind against the old tour. I miss the real deal, the bear you get when you're little and love on until you're...19 and then some. The bear you feel like you're cheating on if you look at other bears. We're so disposible, culturally. But I am not here for social commentary!
I knitted most of the way up, getting a lot done on my Stitch Diva Stefanie Japel Simple Knitted Bodice in the Gail-dyed Belle, and starting a new design for Webs - a kid sweater in Sugarloaf. Then home, and work until today when I am slacking a bit and writing this. Which really is just a way of avoiding work - "Oh, no, I can't get writing this minute. I have to blog! People will expect it!" Good one, huh? There's more sweetpeas popping up at Ravelry with some wonderful yarn choices. There's even pirate peas which will show up in the gallery soon. The bodice - TRY IT ON, which Stefanie recommends, as you go!! It's worth it. I am short, short waisted, and 'gifted' (depending on perspective - most of the time I consider it a curse, really) in the bustline. Trying it on allowed me to make adjustments in length as I went by messing a bit with increases. I'll try it on again soon because of length issues. It is adorable and I love it.
Back to the grind. My life looks like this for the rest of the week. It's not my favorite view. In fact it makes my head hurt a little.

Friday, July 20, 2007

We Now Return to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

This would be knitting. Remember knitting? click, click, click? K1, P1? PSSO? SSK? Ringing bells? We'll take a brief break from bags, odes to bags and post this instead. A BAG!! HAH! Gotcha! No, seriously, it's an actual KNITTED bag that will have an actual pattern. I call it Ugzy but suspect the powers that be will have some words about that and change it to something cute like Striped Northampton Bag or Barrel O' Monkeys. But I like Ugzy. A lot. So much that it's on the "re-knit for me" list. Does it look at all familiar? When life hands you ugly sleeves, make a bag. I learned this with a sweater I once knit for Girl. Someone told me that you could put wool in a tumble wash and it would be safe as long as it was on cold. I can tell you that this is not always true, and that a 100% wool light blue scalloped edge pullover that you spent hours knitting can be whacked to bits, lined and given handles and buttons. This makes three bags - the body is a tote, the sleeves are each a lovely handbag. They've all been sold ($65, $35, $35 which was about three times what I paid for the yarn) or I'd prove it. When these sleeves were done I looked at them and said "You are ugly. I don't knit ugly. Therefore you must become a thing of beauty." So I hucked them in the wash and this is what came out - fully lined, complete with key pocket, with a button and a handle and everything. I have the coolest washer on earth. It's the same one that turned Girl's sweater into three bags many years ago. Only that time I cried. This time I giggled and said "Cool. A bag! And it's CUTE, too!" It will be in the next Valley Yarns catalog, and is made from Northampton - five or six skeins to get the stripes which are essential and totally worth it. AND with the miles of leftover yarn you could make mittens for your entire family and half the neighborhood as well.
I also finished the Greenwood Vest (formerly known as diamonds in my oatmeal). This is pretty. Be adorable with jeans or khakis over a t-shirt or a turtleneck. V-neckline is brought a little lower, the buttons can be "real" with buttonholes, or just stitch the placket closed and add decorative buttons - if I make it for myself that it likely the route I will take. I screwed up the buttonhole spacing somehow. I wish I could say I was drinking at the time, but it was total brain melt. This thing uses a scant 3 skeins of Northampton to complete in the smallest size, and I bet three will be all you need right up to the large - though more will be revealed on that score in the final analysis and writing. That makes the total cost of the yarn portion of the project around $15.00. Fifteen Dollars. That falls under the heading of "Why Melissa Loves to Work for Webs - Bringing Affordable, Knittable Garments to the World". It's been suggested that this is a gender neutral garment, and I think it is. It'll be sized up to 52" bust/chest. This will also appear in the fall Valley Yarns catalog, I think. Don't quote me. Ask someone who knows. I just knit.
In personal knitting news (I have some of that, too...) I finished the Lonestar sweater and hat, and now Jazz thinks I should write the pattern. That was not my plan so I took no notes. I'll take a show of hands: who thinks I should write up the Lonestar Baby Set? I could grab two more skeins and make another set, to assist my aging memory. Two skeins, color Equinox. This really was just exorcising grandma demons - there is an adjustment period in which you acknowledge that you are going to be a grandmother AGAIN even though you're baaaaaaarely 40, and everyone says you don't LOOK old enough to be a grandmother. This one's a girl. That could spell trouble. For my wallet. Poor Mr. Wonderful. All that pink waiting for me to buy it. Any-who, Katy (who is a Harry Potter expert - and me having enver read even a page of one book) assisted me in button selection for this cute little thing. There will be loops over the buttons. Now all I need is a wool-wearing, hand-washing mother to give this to, because it is not machine washable.
I scored a Hello Kitty sticker kit yesterday. I am still not sure why this amuses me so much. I think it's the little pink bow. Let me reconstruct... Girl and I were heading for work. Neither of us had eaten since morning and it was 3pm. This is always a dangerous situation. We are neither of us particularly enjoyable to be around when we're hungry. In fact, it can be downright frightening - ask Mr. Wonderful. With food in me I can navigate my way into and out of any city on earth. But hungry I throw maps to the floor, stick my lower lip out and say things like "Fine, do it yourself!" and sniffle a lot. Utterly useless. Can't even choose a restaurant if we're out. I just sit and whine "I doooon't caaare." over and over. Girl is similar, only she gets snappity snap snappy. Rip your head right off. So imagine this - we're driving down the road to the bank, both hungry. I am driving, which means I can't decide which street to take, or which road goes where, or how to find my way to a bank I've been using since it opened. Girl meanwhile is on my right, snapping at any and everyone, from me to the car to the other drivers. Not looking particularly safe is it? So I made an emergency executive decision. I pulled into...I don't know if I can say it. I can't admit it. I can't type it! I stopped at a, home of the food devil in clownish garb, place of loathing and disgust. I saw Hello Kitty smiling at me from the big sign. She was available as a prize in a...a...Not-Sad-Meal. Conveniently, Girl requested sickeningly processed and re-formed chicken parts with deep fried genetically mutant potato pieces, which are available as a Not-Sad-Meal, which includes the Hello Kitty Sticker Kit! I rewarded myself for stopping at a location I visit about once a year and then only for the Newman's Own organic coffee they (allegedly!!) spit out. She's a great little container, really, and for some reason I like her. But I still feel a little dirty about the whole thing.
Does anyone remember these guys? I really never loved them much. But now they've got this sort of cult following developing, which I find fascinating. Woobie in particular is a beloved personage. Maybe I need one myself. And I think they need a book - The Many Adventures of Woobie and Toot, like an updated Pooh, where they cavort on the subway and collect can tabs to recycle for lunch money. I think they need their own cartoon. And a lunch box.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dear Anonymous:

Now you've done it. You've pushed me over the edge. I can't let that languish as a comment. It needs to be seen, it needs to be read. It needs exposure. Therefore it is in the utmost adoration that I publish your creation here on my modest blog, in hopes that it earn the salutes it so richly deserves. It is...breathtaking. Brilliant. I am moved.

Without further ado, I present the comment left by anonymous on my blog:

There you are
Suggestively perched on your shelf
With that handle only you can wear
Your sparkling zipper dazzles me
And I draw closer
Appreciative of every curve
Each line enticing me

If we were together
You would help me carry my burdens
And when life gets rough,
You'll have my shoulder to hang on
You're perfection in three little letters
A limited edition
And you match my shoes

My darling
My love
My bag

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Growing Peas

There's two new pair of Sweetpeas in the gallery, and I love them!
Click to take a look!

Monday, July 16, 2007


I mean, really, three Lexie bags - two shown here with me, Lexie and my "classic" Parfait Lady B - at greater than 50% off each - how does this make me a 'ho? How? I think it makes me a smart shopper, a value shopper, like the coupon days and the dumpster diving days only without the paper cuts and three day old garbage. Mr. Steve called me a bag 'ho. Mr. Wonderful sighed a little and took the receipts and seemed to agree with Mr. Steve, but without coming right out and saying it. Girl and Miss Tray-Tray looked a little concerned. Acceptance is the key really. If you accept me for the bag magpie I am, then life is so much more . . . comfortable. I am weak in the presence of a good bag. I cannot resist. Resistance is futile, and unfulfilling. Fulfilling is a Darling, a Trinity and a Gem for $40, $45 and $12 respectively. Passing them up would have been equivalent to refusing Buy 1-Get 2 Free toilet paper. It would be a poor economic choice to keep walking. And with such an exceptional enabler in the personage of Cirilia Rose there was no way out for me. Although...I must say, even Cirilia looked a little concerned when I bought the third one. I shall make it up to Mr. Wonderful by buying him one of these - Lexie has a husband. He makes bags, too. Bags that are perfect for a laptop, or for carrying your personal defibrillator. If you need one.
But, as usual, I digress. I have mostly recovered from my jaunt to CGOA/TKGA Chain Link in Manchester, NH. The first day, Wednesday, was professional development day. I arrived at the Radisson early. I went to registration and received my Coats and Clark Goody Bag. There was yarn, some of which I traded for other yarn, so this picture is not really representative of the bag's original contents. I had some TLC Baby Sparkle that just does not feel good to me, so I gave it away. I kept the Moda-Dea Tweedle Dee, a "shaded effect yarn" (read Noro knock-off) made with acrylic and a little wool waved over the pot, and Washable Wool, which is a cabled 100% superwash wool that I think I should play with, and one skein of Red Heart Hula in a color called Limeade. Accurate, too. Yowza. Also a bunch of crochet hooks for my friends with the 12 kids who all do stuff like that. I did some swapping and trading so that I would end up with enough of the Tweedle Dee and Washable Wool to make into something, should I desire it. Professional development day was great. Although crochet-focused I gleaned a huge amount of information.
Thursday started badly. I got into the wrong room before class - I was supposed to be in Curriers, but ended up in Salon C. Guess what they were learning in Salon C??? Mittens, two at a time on one long circular. I left. I did not say "HEY!! Wait a second! I do that, too!! I just wrote a book on socks that way!!" I also did not have hooks, thinking it was knitting day, so was even later because I had to sprint to my room, grab hooks, and sprint back to the correct location. Persnickety was waiting for me. We learned beaded crochet flatwork from Melody Macduffee, who I hope comes to Webs soon to teach overlay crochet. Her beaded crochet jewelry is amazing and the overlay is just too cool. I am not sure about beads and crochet. Although I enjoyed it, it's time-consuming. I can see that in the future, when I have more time, I will enjoy this more. I want to make myself some jewelry. I don't like buying it, and this way it can be exactly what I want it to be. I tried on a cabochon bracelet that just spoke to me. It wants me to make it in different colors and with a different stone. It may become a long-term project I fiddle with now and then. These are not instant gratification projects. Here is Persnickety with her hook and beads. She's more dedicated than I. I took a lot of breaks. ADD Crocheter, that's me. ADD person, period. After class we went to Margaritas for dinner. I have been to the one in Keene, NH. What I did not know, or had forgotten, is that Thursday night is ladies night. 40% off your total tab if you sit in the lounge. For 40% I can sit about anywhere. They make a nice Margarita. Salsa is good although I'd like a fresher flavor myself. No pictures of dinner - what happens when margaritas are served stays where the margaritas are served. Until you make it a road trip and go shopping at the Market Street Preview. Ohhhh...hey - the bag thing makes much more sense now. Disinhibited by my tequila, I bought bags! Huh. That does not explain the cashmere though. That was Friday, and there was no margarita lunch. By the way, Thursday night in Manchester is also apparently "cruise the main drag with your Harleys till midnight" night. Just so you know. Ear plugs would have been beneficial.
At Thursday's Market Street Preview I found Lexie Barnes, the Dale of Norway baby book at Nordic Fiber Arts, Habu, and a scrabble tile with a little loop finding on it intended as a stitch marker. I also found - but did NOT buy an amazing amount of shiny, sparkly jewelry. Glass. Lots of beads. Shiny pretty beads. Persnickety bought a squiggle. I found tons of yarn that I did not buy, bags I did not buy, sock yarns I did not buy, books I did not buy, and generally, considering, did a huge amount of not buying. I did not, for example, buy the monstrous skein of bamboo from Habu which, when dyed, would make a lovely baby set. I did succumb to their stainless steel scarf materials. I still wish I'd bought the bamboo. Tragically Brooks Farm did not appear - tragically for me, but Mr. Wonderful should be eternally grateful for flooding in Texas.
Friday we had Twined Mittens with Beth Brown-Reinsel, who also should come to Webs. (Reinsel, by the way, is pronounced like pencil. Who knew?!) Wonderful class. Love the mittens, loved learning the technique. I knitted English for the whole day and no one died, although I was interminably SLOOOOOW which I found painful, especially after the slow progress on Thursday. I would love for her to come and teach some of her ethnic classes, or the gansey class, or just anything. She even has a class on reading your knitting which I think every knitter on earth should know how to do, and a Fair Isle Tam class. We spent lunch shopping more. This is where the biggest accident happened, and I am really lucky it was not worse. I bought cashmere. 100% cashmere that I cannot excuse under any heading other than "oh-my-god-it-feels-like-heaven-i-have-to-have-it". I blame Kathy for introducing me to the fiber. I have resisted for a very very long time. When people talk about cashmere I shrug a little, maybe even snicker internally, proud that I am not so weak as to fall in the face of fiber. My yarn strength is relatively good. I avoid full price. I avoid luxury fibers. I am fairly strong in the presence of most yarns. Color will get me long before texture does. But what happens when color and texture combine? How I managed to walk away with only one skein of this is still beyond me. Just Our Yarn, which spells JOY for those of us who love acronyms, has this...this...this delicacy. Delight. Dangerous decadent delectable delight. It is lace weight cashmere, 500 yards, hand-dyed, called Myne. (MYNE ALL MYNE!!!) They tell me one skein will do the Swallowtail shawl from Interweave Fall 2006. I hope so. I also fell hard for some Interlacements, but restricted my purchasing to two small skeins of Tiny Toes for sampling and swatching, colors 204 and 216. I almost ended up with a huge skein of their sock yarn in a color way that can't be reproduced. The dye did not take evenly and the result is this spattered tie-dye look that I LOVED. I resisted, because I love my husband. And that is the ONLY reason. In fact, any resisting I did has to do with that once simple fact. Some failure to resist as well. I saved a fortune on those Lexie bags.
After class and shopping I began my trek home. The drive back from Manchester always seems so much faster than the drive out. I suppose this is true of all drives, or most anyway, but it seemed to fly by. One minute I was in Bedford, the next Dublin. Five or six seconds passed and I was buying a latte in Keene, and then home - POOF - just like that.
Saturday I had class - Knitting 2, our fifth session, in which students cast on their hats on a circular needle, having learned how to use DPN the week before. After Knit 2, I had a new workshop, but one that I think I like. It was all about blocking. Students made their own blocking boards using foam and gingham and sticky tape and some special sticky board thing. Next time we're using cardboard and duct tape. The trouble with the first run of a class is that students are, to some extent canaries in a cage. I dump them down the mine of my rough outline and vague plan. Nobody died, so we tweak and move on. This was a great group, with Mary Frances and Leslie from my last sock class and Diane and Kathleen from...a bunch of stuff, and three new folks. Leslie brings her assistance dog Angie along. Angie is amazingly well behaved and spends the entire class under the table unless needed to fetch a dropped needle or swatch. I think she's beginning to know that when I sit down class must be nearly over. At the least it's time to come over for a pet and scratch. My next dog has to be primarily poodle. I adore this dog.
Sunday Mr. Wonderful and I went off in quest of Life Buoy soap. We are assured that this will aid us in our deer deterrent program. When we first got here, Mr. Wonderful loved the deer. He wanted to see the deer. He wanted to see them in the morning in the winter on the bank outside our room. He wanted to see them on his little jaunts in the woods. He wanted to see them up close and personal. They amble through the yard, feed on the bank behind the house, sip from the brook. Very back to nature, no? They also ate the tops off of our new fruit frees. I am all done with the deer. He's seen enough. Mr. Wonderful startled one in the front yard when he took the dog out the other day. Although I love them I did not buy apple trees to feed the deer. I was leaning more toward feeding, oh, ME?!?! We've also got a fox and/or raccoon and/or skunk and/or bear problem as evidenced by the removal of every single berry just as it reaches peak ripeness. We are assured that Life Buoy will cure the deer problem. The only place we could locate Life Buoy was the Vermont Country Store. This is not a hardship, just a quick zip up 91 north to exit 6, Rockingham. I love VCS. They've got samples of food. They have these crackers, Vermont Common Crackers, that everyone loves. I search till I find tortilla chips and use them for sampling dips and all. If you remember it from childhood, it's probably there. They've got all manner of old and cool gadgets, foods, etc. When the kids were little we'd stop here on the way to or from various places and let them eat their way through the samples. See how cheap I am?
I found a fantastic Welsh cheddar - well, Welsh being relative here as the cheese is made in Vermont not Wales, but you get the gist - made in the Welsh fashion; a Welsh style cheddar. I love this cheese. It's made by Cobb Hill and is called Four Corners Caerphilly.MmmMMmmMM. I also found the original Fisher Price chatter phone, and a whole host of old and very cool toys - reproductions, but still. They had a metal slinky!! And it makes the Slinky sound. It's painted, though - apparently we're all lucky to be alive as the original slinky was made of galvanized steel and had, as a result, lead on the outer surface. There were Rockem Sockem robots, and the little doll bottles that look like they're emptying when you use them. It was wonderful. I thought about getting myself a chatter phone. I figure Marvel might be jealous though, if I start talking to the chatter phone instead...
Oh, under the Cobb Hill cheese is the garment I am currently calling diamonds in my oatmeal. I am hoping the body will be done today. It's kind of cool and I like it a lot. There shall be a deeper V, the cables front and back, just simple but not dull.
Last but not least - Saturday I went into the mall for foam and fabric and such. I parked away from other cars which is my habit - more so since we were assaulted by the black Tahoe thing. When I came out I saw this - apparently they just can't stay away from each other. It's happened before. Usually it's a wave and a grin, or a point and wave and grin, etc. Once, on the highway, I was waving and grinning and nodding and thumbs-upping with another Fit owner who came zooming up behind me to beep and wave and grin and sign right back. They're social little cars and like to find new friends!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

And the "Worst Blogger Ever" award goes to....

Her stellar failure to bring her camera to CGOA/TKGA Professional Development Day, where she met Lily Chin and Kim Werker, and saw Edie Eckman, Gwen Bortner, Rita Weiss, Jean Leinhauser, Kathleen Sams, Darla Fanton, Marge Scensny, Jennifer Hansen and Vashti Braha amoung others has earned her this award.

So far - I got a goodie bag from Coats, and a second goodie bag to boot. There's lots of Coats yarns, and a free crochet hook - a crystalite, which I don't love but someone will. I learned a HUGE amount from Lily Chin. Kim Werker is a walking ball of youthful energy that should be packaged and marketed.

Now, when I get home I can add links, but for some reason Blogger and Safari don't speak nicely to each other. During Kim's break-out Internet saavy session I learned about a little thing called Wordpress. I could respond to comments. And we can migrate, so we'd lose nothing! I sense that there may be changes around here. A big ole' migration!

And in response to the comment by anonymous citizen - I am sorry, in my response to your comment I referred to you as Girl. Of course you're not Girl. You're an anonymous citizen. Totally, totally anonymous. But you may have to fight Yarnhog for the shawl, if it's green anyway!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I am Weak.

So weak. I could blame Stephanie, but that would be a lie. I was still standing strong. In fact, I scoffed. I mocked her. Let the Harlot fall, I said. I can be tough. I am stronger than the lace. I have NO time. I am on a deadline. I cannot start a new project when so many need to be finished. What pushed me over the edge was Cate. She ruined me. And I yielded, but with some conditions. 1.) It has to be stash only. No cash outlay. and 2.) I will not be captivated by the "finished first" game. There is not time for this in the first place, so I sure don't have the time to get the clue and have it done by supper. So far I am sticking well to the conditions. The yarn is...not. It's 16/2 natural linen that I'd been saving specifically for a lace project for the drape and stitch definition. I am not a shawl person, so the chances that this will be worn are pretty low. I am, however, a lace person; all those lovely charts, like cables, YUM! As a holidays-only table runner it will excell. I have not said what it is yet, have I? That's because I don't want to cop to it. I don't want to admit that I have been sucked in I am not yet done with clue #1. There's a deadline project here staring at me, so I fit in a few rows now and then as a sort of reward for not cutting the dealine project into ribbons. We're not in love right now. I am in love with the MS3. The linen is working out exactly as I expected, maybe better. Great stitch definition, and when blocked it softens but holds it's shape. Not the super soft lacey stuff most people are using. No rabbit, no Mo', no cash, no merino. More a soft but substantial thing. Not cuddly. I could be convinced to actually wear it. I have been challenged as it were by Cate to go for broke and buy some beads. Apparently that part of the investment is not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I tried to raid bead stash, but there was nothing that appealed to me, no holes big enough. Adding beads now would require a rip-out. But there is another option. Let's say I go to New Hampshire and I find some simply amazing, gotta-have-it laceweight something in the vendor area. Let's say I decide that maybe, just maybe, I want a second MS3. And I forget for a long moment that Mr. Wonderful faints at the sight of Visa slips. Maybe someone in the family needs one. Maybe a more wearable one - or I should say one that the average person would be likely to wear. Maybe the theme, when revealed appeals to me so much that I need another, smokey and beaded. I am not ruling out the possibility. And I now know where Beader's Paradise sneaked away to, and it's convienantly near my favorite Northampton coffee and internet dearly beloved gluten free cupcake hang-out. And Cate assures me beads are cheap. Which is good. Because I am cheap. Painfully cheap when it comes to stuff for me.
In another burst of "I hate this project" energy, I started this baby sweater with the Lonestar I have hanging about. Just had to have those two skiens. I am not sure what compelled me to go baby, but I did, and it's cute. It needs sleeves and some sort of closure. There is no pattern, I just make it up as I go and am writing nothing down. it's super simple, drop shoulder, seed stitch borders, nothing exciting just a basic wearable warm fuzzy baby bit. This will have to be a wool-lover's infant, because it will not go in the laundry. Not something you can give grandchildren with young parents, or best friend who prefers Encore.
The next time you hear from me I'll be stashed away in a hotel in New Hampshire with free wireless and a comfy room all to myself. And for Mr. Wonderful's sake, hopefully not a huge pile of yarn on the dresser.
An update, or an aside, or something just a little scary:
In preparing to leave for TKGA I determined that I required a couple of crochet hooks. Gee...I wonder if I have enough?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Christmas in July

I was feeling a little down about Independence Day this year. I think we've lost touch with what it's all about; the sacrifice, the freedoms and benefits I take for granted of every day, the comfort I enjoy but don't always respect. I think I spend a lot of time bashing my own country when the alternatives are not all that stellar, and really we're probably in the best game in town. We enjoy an amazing level of comfort and freedom here that the rest of the world spends a lot of time trying to achieve or at least mimic. So as bad as she is, with all her faults and flaws, she's still better than the rest and I would not trade the Republic-for-which-I-stand for any other. When I was a kid we got into this more. We sang songs, we lit sparklers and bottle rockets and had those very cool snakes (little black pellets that you light and they make this cool ashy snake thing. I bought them for my kids when they were little, flouting the laws of the State of Massachusetts), and we talked more about what it meant to be an American. We respected the flag, the people who'd died to earn our freedom. We memorized the Star Spangled Banner and The Battle Hymn of the Republic in school, and it was good. When I watch kids mumble through the words today it makes me sad for what we've lost.
Then I checked my email. And the fireworks display went off, the trumpets sounded, flags waved and life was good again. I GOT ON RAVELRY! Never doubt that patience is a virtue. It is awesome. If you have not gotten on The List yet, do so. I totally take back my little Harlot comment yesterday - I think I referred to it as "flipping ravelry"? Totally sorry for that. Little bitter. It's all behind me now. Awesome Crack for my mouse. The mouse can't stop. Click, click, click. There are 66 books in my library. I have 3 friends. My straights and DPN's are all arranged - or most of them anyway. I have projects, though not many as the whole dial-up thing makes it difficult. People are actually KNITTING SWEETPEA SOCKS!
Then our holiday feast happened and it just got better. And better and better. I found the Q. Bar-B-Que that is. Ribs slow cooked all day in their own juices, then stuck on the grill to get charred and hot. It's a recipe from Kathy with a slight hitch or two, and they were AMAZING. Add on coleslaw that is a total replica of KFC - high praise coming from me and Girl, who'd bathe in that stuff given the option, and potato salad just like my mother's. And a nice chardonnay from Sonoma Vineyards. This is an un-oaked Chardonnay perfect for the ribs; it lacks the complexity and layering of an oaked chardonnay but has a lot of fruity, lemony flavor. And there is a cow on the bottle. Not on all of them though - some have boats, or trees, or what-not. The labels are a series of scenes of Sonoma life. They also offer a Merlot, and for the price point it's not a bad wine. Since I can no longer drink things like Double Chocolate Stout (which, by the way, truly tastes of chocolate and is the perfect PMS solution) I have to compensate by becoming a Wine Person. There is no wheat gluten in wine.
Knitting. Kind of sad, but after the joy and adoration of the Radiance Cabled Jacket this stripe thing is kind of...unamusing. I am sure it will be lovely when it's done. But right now it's boring as heck. Thank you Kirsten for saving it from certain death. The pattern stitch saved the day. We were really heading to uglyville with this. Not in a happy place at all! It's progressing now, and will eventually be a nice barn-coat-type cardigan. Maybe even by the deadline. Actually, this would be the first deadline I have missed. If I can stop with the Ravelry's crack, man, serious crack. Crack for my mouse. And she just can't stay away.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Cowgirl's Day Off

Everyone knows that after a long week on the range a cowgirl needs a day in which to relax. Chill. Kick back and have a little fun. After a week of riding the knitting pony and finishing one project for the store, I decided to switch over to my water pony for a day. As a true cowgirl I have a whole herd of ponies for every occasion. There's the trail pony, the road pony, the highway pony, etc. My water pony is getting long in the tooth so to speak. So much so that the company that created her is out of business. She's a Walden Naturalist. Ironic, because when you're in her that's how you feel : at one with nature. She was also a boat ahead of her time in terms of green production, using 100% recycled plastic materials. Any-who, Mr. Wonderful slapped the water ponies on the Civic and off we went. One of our favorite paddling spots is Tully Lake in Athol. In reality the "lake" is a reservoir; Tully is an Army Corps of Engineers project that was created in 1949 as part of a network of "flood damage reduction" dams. This project, which completely altered an existing natural habitat, is justified (allegedly) by the projected savings of $3 million dollars of damage during heavy rains in 1987. In spite of the complete alteration of the ecosystem in the 50's by the introduction of the dam, the area is relatively pristine and up until the last 5-6 years usually felt undiscovered. It is a wonderful, peaceful place to paddle, camp, hike and fish, especially during the week or off-season if you're not into the social boating thing but more into the tree-hugger thing (that'd be me). This is not a state that can continue forever, and threats constantly loom on the horizon for development of the area surrounding the lake. The Friends of Tully Lake work tirelessly to save the area around the lake from sprawl. I hope they succeed. I know the area is desperate for economic growth, but I don't think destroying Tully is the way to get it (stepping off soap box).
If you drive up a bit from the main reservoir parking area, there's a road (Doane Hill Road) that leads to a parking area for canoe and kayak launching. There's also Doane's Falls which are a bit notorious. A dangerous stretch of waterfall, the place is a sort of ritual rite of passage for idiotic teenagers out to prove themselves above the rule of nature. Warning signs and scary stories of dead kids abound. If you put in at the Tully River launch, and head up the river you'll eventually find yourself at Long Pond. First you'll need to navigate some tricky bits where beavers have altered the flow of the river. Generally, and somewhat tragically, the beavers are controlled by the government. We've significantly reduced most beaver predators (wolves, bears, fisher cats, bobcats, cougars, etc), so their numbers can become unhealthy without a lot of effort on the beaver's part. Long Pond is very alive with avian life. Birds swoop low over duckweed and lilies competing for the best bugs. Herons are often seen there - we saw a Great Blue yesterday. I love being in my boat, especially on quiet days. In the last ten-odd years we've had some amazing experiences in our kayaks. I've always loved the Ashuelot for heron-chasing. In one trip we saw maybe 10 Blue Herons fishing...or was it the same bird over and over? We'll never know. Once, on the Connecticut, a Bald Eagle came down not more than 20' off the bow of my boat, scooped up a huge fish, and headed off to a nearby tree where her mate waited for dinner. It was surreal, and amazing, and made me cry. We've had many beaver sightings, my favorite being the young beaver who have not yet learned to duck and run when humans approach. Turtles, water birds of all kinds...and once a fox along a river bank.
Really I was looking for a sweater. Paddling in the wilds is sort of a mental cleansing. Sometimes things come to me while I am hiking or paddling. I was hiking once and saw a sweater that I can still see, though it has not managed to get itself knitted yet. It's still in there. I finished the Colrain jacket, and I love it. Now I have to come up with a Northampton garment. There was a plan, but it's not going to work, so I am back to the drawing board, which can be a good thins. Oh. I did promise pictures of the Colrain Jacket. Here, I'll throw two out - front view and back view. I actually think I may be in love with this garment. It's making it hard to come up with something else, under the heading of "tough act to follow". I've got some plans percolating. These two pics are the best I can do with the camera issues around here, and I suggest clicking on them, because it's really a pretty bit of knitting. Whatever I do with the Northampton needs to use color. It needs to be less structured. It needs to thrilling as this jacket was, which I so doubt. Because I really love the jacket. I'd have to say of all the things I've done it's pretty well top o' the heap to date. Both garments - this and whatever I do with the Northampton - will appear in the next Valley Yarns catalog which I think is "fall". The yarn for this jacket is, I think I may have mentioned this before, Valley Yarns Colrain-Which-I-Love. Like I've said before in person it is edibly luminous. Luxurious but cheap, and God knows I love a deal. Someday maybe I'll get time to knit me one of these.
Wish me luck. I am off to draw for a while. I am all swatched out. Cuff to cuff with stripes? Top down something? Bottom up something? Jacket? Pullover? What to knit, what to knit.
Remember Annie and Gerry and Hannah and Max.
P.S. - for those who appreciate irony, the Water Cowgirl cannot swim. Yes, it's true. Sink, like a rock. Hence the jacket. I rarely paddle without it, especially in any water above my head.