Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Bonus

I am crying over my mail again. "Why" you ask? Because the United States Postal Service in their infinite wisdom has returned to me that which was lost. One bag of mother love, sent from Massachusetts to Indiana, rerouted and returned from whence it came.Hug a postal worker today. I am unbelievably overjoyed at the return of this package!! Yes, everything is intact; the Levellers, the USB cable for the camera, one pair of gauntlets and two unique hats. Hey, Meg, think Laura wants her birthday present for Christmas?

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This has been a really amazing year. Last year I was waiting for the delivery of the first born bookling, 2-at-a-Time Socks. Once it was delivered, everything became a blur. You wonderful knitters, you didn't just like it. You love it. And that makes me proud, and happy. That's not to say there were not some bumps along the way, but in the end as my stepson would say "It's all good". And it is.
Personally this hasn't been the banner year I'd hoped for. As I've said here, my mother has not been well. She is improving, but the more she improves in one area, the more she declines in another. I live my life very separately from my mother as a rule. I have never been the kind of person who 'needs' to call my mother every day, nor do I call my daughter daily now, although I think we may cheat, what with Facebook and email. But my mother needs me, so regardless of my personality flaws, I am making myself available to her. I am, ultimately, thankful that I have the chance to be there for her. No regrets, and all of that.
There's these awesome people around me, all these amazing, supportive people. I am so grateful for them. Mary, Kristen, Rue, Kathy, Kristie among others. When the chips are down and I need to just spew, you're there for me and I really have needed that this year. Everyone needs a few people to whom they can say things (particularly about their, say, mothers) they probably won't mean in five minutes. Or even if they do still mean them, the listener won't hold it against them.
I am thankful for all of my teaching opportunities this year. I love to teach anything, but teaching this book has been especially rewarding. I am not teaching something someone else thought up. I am teaching my own work. That, if I ponder on it for long, makes my eyes a bit damp. And the signings with Barb Parry at sheep shows around the area, I am so thankful for that. I love meeting knitters, even the ones who have counted the errata. Knitters are who it's all about for me, and if I wasn't sure of that before, I certainly was after that little weekend in Williamstown.
I am thankful for my father, who's very existence reminds me that I am more than I sometimes think I am. And more thankful than I can ever, ever say for my husband, who's put up with more this year than he ever did when I was writing the first book.Being my husband and having my mother for a mother-in-law is not what one would call easy. he probably should get hazard pay. I don't think most people would volunteer for it and a lot of men would walk right the heck away, or more likely run. Instead, this one takes it on, just like he did my kids and all the baggage that brought with it. It is what it is for now, and we shall wait and hope for better times.
I am thankful, right this minute, for impromptu celebrations.One of the boys offered to come and cut trees Friday. All this in exchange for a turkey dinner. Really that gift is to me. I love to cook, and I love holiday meals. I don't get a chance to really do them now. We spend Thanksgiving and Christmas at my in-laws, so there is no turkey in my own oven, pies on my racks cooling, potatoes waiting to be mashed in my big stock pot. Friday I get to do a whole Thanksgiving meal; the works - stuffing, gravy, turkey, apple pie...all gluten free!
I shall leave you with this final bit of gratitude - to anyone who bought yarn from me off of eBay?? Thanks to you, the following was made possible. Also thanks to Nikon for a really awesome bit of equipment, and to Jules, who convinced me I should get that instead of the Canon.
Discarded Woodstove and Fountain GrassCome summer, there will be raspberries here.So I apparently still have the fungi problem...and have developed a fern problem as well.I love how frost can make a gone-by flower a thing of beauty.And lastly, I am thankful for chickens, who leve their feathers in the yard in appealing postures.And very thankful for one bird, one very special bird, that laid an egg today, in spite of her being a rooster and all, but I'll tell that story another day.
Psalm 30:11-12

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time of My Life, I Had It.

This is a group of 36 intrepid students who took on a 3-hour workshop I am calling "2-at-a-Time Socks: The Speed Dating Edition" this past weekend at the Knitter's Review Retreat.I have to say that the idea of 36 students really did not fully sink into my head until Friday evening. By then, of course, I was in Williamstown and it was too late to develop the plague, or a light case of small pox. Amazingly at the end of three hours most people were alive still, and many of them even were knitting socks 2 at a Time on one long circular needle! I was stunned. They were an awesome group and a lot of fun, and I want to do it again now!

There were a lot of knitters present at the retreat. 90 or so, to be more specific, although for an actual head count you'd have to apply to someone who'd know (which isn't me!).If you ever wondered, 90-odd knitters make a racket in the best possible way. You hear exclamations as people find friends or patterns or yarn they love. There is a lot of hugging, and a lot of happiness. It's an awesome thing.

On Saturday night, after classes and a very good turkey dinner, people gathered in the Williams East and West rooms to spin or knit or some of both.The best thing about knitters, or fiber people in general really, is that they are so warm and giving. I saw so many instances of helping. People teaching one another to spin, or showing a new pattern with delight, or explaining a technique. It's heart-warming.
A wonderful time was had by all. The hotel staff survived, although one waitress was surprised that there were so many knitters. I laughed at her a little. Or maybe a lot. Luckily it was a buffet.

Just before I left I talked to Malea about a bit of barter. We all know I am a sucker for her stuff. She had this housewarming and gave each person who attended a lovely stemless wine glass. I did not go, because Mr. W and I were busy that evening. I found out that she had some extra wine glasses leftover.
Leave it to me to think fast on my feet. It's winter, right? And poor Malea, her hands and head and little neck might get cold, right?? I made her a little set using Tahki Bunny Print of a neckwarmer (101 Luxury One-Skein Wonders Mermaid Tail Neckwarmer), a simple hat, and mittens that incorporated the Mermaid Tail cable up the back. She's modeling them here with her biggest fan and best dance partner, Miss Dazee. It would serve me right if she didn't give me the glasses for a year. That's generally what I do to her on the knitting end. Good thing she's patient.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Green is the Color I Most Wish to Be.

Although we are total slackers here. And now, thanks to Chicken Betty you'll all see where we succeed and where we fall short...

The Guidelines:
1. Link to Green Meme Bloggers
2.Link to whoever tagged you
3.Include meme number
4.Include these guidelines in your post
5.Answer questions (erm - that bit’s quite important)
6.Tag 3 other green bloggers.

Green Meme #1

1. Name two motivations for being green:
I believe, in addition to a whole lot of other stuff, that we were given the Earth as a gift, and that we have a responsibility to care for it and all of the inhabitants thereof. Really that's the only motivation I need. Selfishly for my grandchildren and their grandchildren and so on and so on and so on.

2. Name 2 eco-unfriendly items you refuse to give up:
My electronics media. Laptop, cell, mp3 player, even the tv and dvd player...all disposable crap I could and really should live without but if they die? I run right out and replace them!!
The pathetic ventures to Orlando to visit The Mouse. I...I just can't give it up. I salve my conscience by not letting housekeeping change my sheets or towels, and bringing in water in my own bottle from the tap. But really there's no reaonable excuse.

3. Are you at peace with, or do you feel guilty about no.2?
HAH! See above - no reasonable excuse?! I feel very guilty knowing that I could do better and don't.

5. Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average?
110 tons is the U.S. average for a four-person household.
22 tons is the world average.
(calculator here)
I used the detailed calculator, I get 17.7 (phew!). We'd do better if we ate less meat and found another way to heat water. I did another similar calculator just the other day and was kind of sad that it did not give a modified omnivore diet, like one that reduces but does not eliminate meat, or commercial versus locally produced meats. If I could kill off the oil burner and the grid...oh, how happy I would be!

6.What’s eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live?
Eco frustrating:
I can only get from here to there via personal auto or bike, even if I am willing to be flexible with scheduling. No trains, no buses, nada.
The cost of renewables, although I guess that's global really. Wood we have, solar we cannot afford in the current marketplace, hybrids cars the same.
Confused Christians who think planet stewardship is not 'their' problem. It's in the Handbook; we are to care for what we're given. There's some confusion on this and it makes me sad. Very sad.

Eco fantastic:
Katywil. We can't partake, or we'd increase our footprint in terms of travel, but it makes me so, so hopeful and happy.
Be a Local Hero program. I remember when this was in it's infancy, and am so glad it thrives. We bear a bumper sticker and we look for the logo.

7. Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow you own?
We eat local where we can, and we support restaurants that serve local food. I shoot for a less than 50 mile range. It's nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be.
Most of our meat is local, although it's difficult as I have a bit of a rule from a very good friend and NP about avoiding farmed fish. Our beef and pork come from a farm we know and do chores at during the farmers' vacations. We eat our own eggs when we can. Since the coyote attack I've had to purchase eggs, which just about kills me.
I buy organic, although Mr. W. cheats with his weekly apple purchase, and sometimes will sneak non-organic bananas in. But then, he's cheap.
We have a garden and we're expanding it, and adding fruit and nut trees. We're rebuilding still from the garden we left behind 4 years ago when we moved.
Right in my yard there's blackberries and black raspberries that have gone all wild, and fiddleheads, and nettles. If I hop in the evil gas sucking vehicle and drive 20 minutes, there's all the blueberries I can carry, for free. I'd be stupid NOT to forage!

8. What do you personally find the most challenging in being green?
We're down to economics now. The solar plan is only held back by cost. The expansion of the chicken outfit to include real meat birds, ditto. A gray water system, composting toilets? All cherished dreams, and all held captive by the new American god, the greenback. Money, money, money, money.

9. Do you have a green confession?
Chocolate. Just. I. Just. I cannot, cannot let go of the deep rich super dark very far away chocolate.
Also. Well, I will bask in a tub of oil-heated water to warm my cold and white toes. Here I assuage my guilt by pointing out that I suffer from Reynauds Syndrome in my toes only, although the fingers have been acting weird this year too, and the warm-water soaks make them not ache to distraction, but really that's lame. Pain builds character, right?! Also yarn. Sigh. Lots and lots of not so green yarn in the stash.

10. Do you have the support of family and/or friends?
Mostly. I encounter fiscal arguments from Mr. W. He'll not flush for yellow, but ask him to shell out twice as much for organic bananas and he goes...well...BANANAS!

uh oh.
I may be out of green people right there...

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Need to be Revived.

My kid just asked for dpn. DPN. MY DAUGHTER asked for DOUBLE POINTS.
The daughter of Melissa Morgan-Oakes, author of 2-at-a-Time Socks. Did she ask for a CIRCULAR needle?? No. She asked for....GASSSSSSSSP!!!!....those STICK things!

Now, don't get me wrong. I am glad she's knitting, glad she's asking for yarn and needles. But...oh, the shame.

Well, Forward is Good.

So we dressed up the cat.
and I finished a bunny suit for a very special and very young man.
I managed to come up with a more effective workspace. I was too cold in the office and too crooked in the other chair.
Then I was really lucky to get to meet (well, we met at Rhinebeck, but I was getting a book signed for Kathy so I am not sure that counts as 'meeting' per se) the Amazing Clara Parkes at a class at Webs last weekend.
One smart cookie. She's got so much fiber knowledge in her head. She said we'd all be yarn whisperers. I am still kind of yelling at mine, but it's getting quieter.
Given enough time who knows what heights I my attain. She signed books for customers, students, and staff.
Everyone but me. But I still told her where the best sushi in Northampton could be found. Also the only ice cream. And maybe she can sign it at the retreat? If I am very, very good.
Back to the grind. Dazee walked under Boo-Boo while he The subsequent bath disrupted my day, meaning I've blogged. But back to writing would be a good plan, now!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted.

And no, I am not going to tell you who I voted for. As my grandfather always said, "That's between you and God", and I agree with him. What I will say is this: I am glad and proud today to be an American, to be able to get in my little orange car and zip down to the town hall in my tiny town in Western Massachusetts and cast a vote for the person/s I think most able to govern our nation and protect the freedoms I have (like voting, for example). As I stood in line this morning there was no political discussion or dissent. No placards on the sidewalk, no angry people telling me why I should vote for this or that candidate. It was just a fairly large group of townsfolk exercising their right to vote.

This freedom is, sadly, the one we most take for granted, I think. If the projections are right, only 54% of citizens will vote in this election. Fifty-four percent. What does that say about who we are as a people, as a nation? Would only 54% of us claim our tax refunds? I know many are disillusioned in the process. We do not trust the candidates, and they've never really given us good reason to trust them. We think "What difference does it make?" But what we fail to remember in disillusionment and dismay is that we have in us the power to change that. What if 100% of adults in America voted? What if 100% of Americans understood, deep in their hearts as I do, that this "right" we so take for granted wasn't always ours? It hasn't been for that long, you know. In 1870 the right to vote was granted to former slaves and non-whites. 1870. In 1920, women gained the right to vote. That's not even 100 years. Tax evaders gained the right to vote in 1964, and the age of 18 was declared as the official voting age in 1971. What if 100% of Americans went to Project Vote Smart, did their research, and cast a vote for the candidate who's record most closely matched their own political values? What if 100% of Americans put their feet down and said "enough is enough" and demanded true, real, deep, honest change in our current political system? What if?

We, the People. People died to give us the right to say that, and mean it. We, the People. We should all remember, respect, and honor the sacrifice of others by making the choice to vote.

OK, now for some less serious stuff:
Dazee Goes Visiting on HalloweenLove Never EndsDazee guards the slider to the deck, where the birds have been committing hara-kiri all week. If someone knows of a way to deter them from flying into my windows, I would love to know it.Free Birds.Hydrangea. Love these things. They should be brought in and arranged.Hysterical. Love. It Itches. Franklin Habit Rocks.Kumquats. There's now about 16 flowers open on the tree, and it smells like an orange grove in full bloom in here. it makes me very happy.Someone is moving in for winter, I hope. It would be fun to take pictures of him all winter long.Someone else is getting ready for winter, trying to clean up the disaster left by 5 or 6 felled trees. He needs an assistant. I am so busy swatching and knitting and writing. I feel bad. Of course he gets to play with his chainsaw. I think that helps!

I am going to go swatch, and then cast on a moebius.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Heal the Election Wounds and Embrace Humanity with a Moebius

Although I found this elsewhere, I embrace this with all my little heart. I am leaning toward my quviut, and will cast on in the morning. I encourage everyone to do the same.

November 3, 2008

Heal the Election Wounds and Embrace Humanity with a Moebius

By Cat Bordhi

I awoke this morning realizing that publicly knitting a beautiful Moebius scarf as I begin to float (I live on an island), drive, and fly toward Stitches East on Tuesday would be a beautiful and profound public expression of my hopes and dreams for the world, as well as a symbol of the healing that our country will need after the election.

If you want to follow along, I recently made a Youtube video which will clearly teach you how to knit a Moebius whether you have my books or not. Here’s the link:

So - here is why the Moebius is a perfect expression of the best of humanity, and the healing of the fractured country and world that I trust is coming:

1. The Moebius appears to have two surfaces and two edges - ie, polarities such as black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, Republican and Democrat - but when you follow the surface around you will run right into your starting point without ever having changed to the other “side.” For there isn’t one. Everything flows into itself. Polarities are an illusion. What lies beneath the apparent polarities is oneness, beauty, and grace. In a Moebius you can see it, hold it, be awed by it. Once the frenzy dies down, hopefully those with opposing views will slowly rediscover their common humanity.

2. Like the surface that flows into itself, so too does the Moebius’s single continuous edge - thus everything is recycled. In fact, I would not be the least bit surprised if the ultimate alternative energy involves a Moebius form or dynamic. By the way, the recycling symbols (2 are in common usage, one with a single twist, the other with 3) you see everywhere are actually Moebii (too hard to say Moebiuses - try it!). I think we are all hoping for significant and effective new discoveries in alternative energy - and the Moebius would be a great symbol for this global effort.

3. Once you complete the first ring (it takes 2 rings to make a round - watch the video) of your Moebius, you are in for smooth and happy sailing. All you have to do is to knit the stitch in front of you, then the next stitch in front of you, with not a care in the world for what came before or what has shifted into the “future”. You’ll look at the mysterious shape on your needles and wonder how “those stitches” can ever come to you . . . well, they will, without your needing to understand how. And they will all come in perfect sequence, resulting in a beautiful and graceful Moebius. The Moebius rewards your faith in its mystery with the easiest knitting you will ever do. And the result is always graceful - for this is the very nature of the Moebius. You can knit along while you watch the election results, while walking, while standing in line at the store, wherever you may find yourself during these days to come. You will be knitting the graceful healing and ease that I believe is flowing toward us, requiring only of us that we stay true to the powerful sense of loving kindness that resides in the center of every person. No one could ever possibly understand enough to make the healing happen, but if we all just knit the stitch before us, as they come, marveling at the innocence and sweetness of it all, with our oh so familiar continuous strand of yarn, the healing will happen. We need not understand either one fully - the Moebius or the world. They both operate with inherent grace.

4. I looked through my stash and chose a luminous yarn in deep watery colors from Blue Moon Fiber Arts - LSS (Luscious Single Silk), and did not realize until I looked at the label that the colorway is absolutely apropos: Lunasea. Tina no doubt named the colorway after the moon and the sea - and after lunacy? So let the lunacy of the election months give way to Lunasea - the grace of the moon, the sea, the Moebius, and the beautiful heart of humanity, of all people, the “us” and “them” who merge into one. I shall be winding the skein on the ferry tomorrow, then knitting all the way to Baltimore. I hope to see many, many of you there.

With love from Cat Bordhi

Note: If you alternate sets of knit and purl rounds, you will have purl ridges all around. Then your Moebius will not curl along the edges when you are done.