Sunday, April 30, 2006

Like a moth to a candle

I went to my LYS with the intention of just working on the RSM. But Lisa had received a shipment from Blue Heron Yarns and when I saw this I was stricken with desire. It was so delicious that I stood in front of it for several minutes just stroking and admiring the color. I looked at the label. Egyptian mercerized cotton 1000 yards. That's enough for a smallish shawl. My eye spotted another bit of purple and to my delight it was another skein of the color. Two thousand yards. Enough for a large shawl. Mmmmmm. It was irresistable.

Like an angel I fell. I fell for purple yarn.

Guilty? Nah. See what I can make from it? Or this. Or this.

First things first. I must finish the RSM before I take on lace of this caliber. Time to get out the teeny needles.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I am FiberQat!
Hear me purrrl!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Phooey on it!

Switching gears

Let's see. I leave for Hawaii in 50 days. The RSM Part Deux is not yet halfway done. And here I am working on the BSJ so that I can do some calculating later for the RSM. The BSJ is being ornery. Terrible twos. Crankilicious. Dope slapping me to tell me "PUT ME DOWN! You have a more important project you must do!"

I get stubborn. I will conquer you, you damn thing. I don't care if I have to mark every five friggin' stitches to get it right, I will win!

Then I remember that next week is May and time is precious. "You have plenty of time!" I hear. No I don't. You don't know what I'm doing. You don't know my plans, dear, because it's a mystery! If Miz LizzardLipz finds out it will ruin the surprise. I can tell you it will involve sock yarn--some self-striping, some solid--to make some nice things and some naughty things.

So I set the BSJ aside, lovely Tedster colors and all, and pick up the RSM again. Tiny needles, click click click....

Shout it from the hilltops!

Mel and I succeeded in piqueing Don's curiosity with the Wikipedia birthday meme. Glad to be an enabler. Interesting choice of items, too. Try it yourself.

Who's Queen Bitch?

Miss Maisie of course. Eldest of the cats, Princess of the front window pad, and purveyor of Attitude. Sammy's been home for two days, but Maisie has been giving her the Royal Bitch treatment. Miss M usually stays in the house during the day, but she's taken to going outside just so that she doesn't have to share with her. She's even hissed at me a couple of times. Buster wisely just stays out of her way. But I'm bigger than she and if there's one Empress of Chez Runamuck it is moi.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Let me hear you say ARRRGH!!!

Never go blithely along the EZ garden path without knowing how to count.

I made that mistake. The BSJ requires you to count. Not measure. Count. Most patterns have you measure. EZ makes you count. Count stitches. Count ridges. Count increases. It's a different mindset from most patterns I've encountered. So the mindset I usually have during a pattern is during the points where you're heading toward the next step I'm mindlessly knitting along in pattern, doing my increases where I'm supposed to and changing yarns to make the nice striping effect. I had even placed markers to show what number increase I'm at so that it's easier to figure out how many increases I have to go because I have to do. Then I get to the line where it says, "At 152 stitches, SHAPE NECK by casting off 5 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows." So I count.

I have 184 stitches. What the---?!

I thought I had calculated this correctly. I was certain there were supposed to be 12 increases. I go back and calculate and there were supposed to be 7. Okay, everybody say it:


Rip rip rip rip rip rip rip rip rip......... And I wanted to do this why? Nope I'm not going to let this defeat me. I got out the safety pins and placed them at 10 stitch intervals between rippings. Okay, I'm at 176 stitches.........164.........156 oh thank gawdess two more rows......152!

It was bedtime. The brain was exhausted. Save it for tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reason #28 to carry knitting with you

When you and the one you love need dental work, it's useful to have on hand while waiting for the anesthetic to take effect.

I had my semi-annual dental cleaning a couple of weeks ago. While the hygienist was looking at the x-rays of my upper back molars, she noticed that the one that had had a bunch of work on it, including a tri-root canal and root resection, was showing a fairly significant dip outside the crown line. Sure enough there was some decay there. The dentist took a look at it and said, "Your crown there isn't offering enough protection; you better get another one since the root resection has exposed more tooth than your present crown protects." So today I went in to have my 3 year old crown removed and a new one ordered.

If you haven't had a crown before, it's a two-visit procedure, painless and relatively easy to handle as far as dental procedures go. First they take a pressing of your current tooth to get the right formation to match your mouth. Then they shave down the affected tooth to a large enough nub for the crown to sit on. A pressing is taken of this for the crown, then another pressing is taken for the temporary crown. It's like having goo that turns into Silly Putty in your mouth, these pressings. Then a temporary crown is made and fitted, then put in your mouth with an adhesive that will hold it in place for the two weeks you wait for the permanent crown to be put on your tooth. They recommend a soft diet for that time so that you don't accidently crack or pull the crown off. In the next visit, the temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is fitted. That's all.

I've made a habit of bringing my knitting with me because in that time you're waiting for the anesthetic to take hold or you have a form in your mouth or you're waiting for the temporary crown to be made. I've made socks, scarves, and hats while waiting in the chair these past couple of years while old fillings have been removed and new ones installed, crowns and root canals done, and periodontal work. I'm known for my knitting in that office. I took the BSJ with me and sure enough ran into a knitter, the dentist's assistant. We gabbed fiber while waiting for the dentist or waiting for the forms to set up or the anesthetic to take effect. I showed the pattern but not how the BSJ was going to come together. That's for her to find out!

I couldn't swing by KnitPurl, which is by the dentist's office, because I had to rush home and stuff a cat into a carrier to have her teeth looked at. Sammy (pictured above; that was my Blonde period) was showing signs she did not feel well at all and sure enough she had a nasty tooth in her mouth. So I arranged to go to the vet after my appointment at the dentist. "Can you be here at 3:30?" "No." "How about 4?" "I will try." It was after 3:30 when I got out of the dentist's office, so I called the vet ahead of time to let them know I was on my way. I've been with them a looooooong time, so they're very flexible with me.

Sammy was not happy about going to the vet, but I knew she would be much better once she was taken care of. After all, I could sympathize! Cranky teeth hurt! She's staying the night with them, my little love bug. The other two are looking at me like, "Where's the Samster?" Better she have a quiet night's sleep at the vet's than Buster picking on her. Having her spend the night at the vet also gave me the opportunity to stop at the store to pick up KoolAid and food dye for playing with yarn this weekend. It was too warm to leave an animal in the car.

Last night, I woke up a little before 3 am and couldn't go back to sleep. I was puzzling over how the BSJ is constructed. It took comparing the pictures shown in "The Opinionated Knitter" versus the directions in the Schoolhouse Press copy I have to make sense of the last of the instructions. I see the vision before me......what a fabulous pattern!

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's snowing

Pink snow is falling in my backyard. My Japanese Cherry is in full bloom and the wind is carrying off petals into a blizzard. It's the one good kind of fruit tree: beautiful in the spring and no fruit in the fall. I just have one tree; I can't imagine what the trees in Washington DC are like, but if they are this beautiful, I can see why they're treasured.

So Mama Nature is being nice to us and giving us a lovely day. There are whispers that it will be up to 80 degrees this weekend. It happens. We get a teaser weekend in the spring where the temperature soars, then several weeks of rain. It's normal. I've lived here all my life and there's at least one teaser weekend in the spring.

Wednesday we had gorgeous weather and as it was the third sunny day (gasp) in the City of Roses, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get the lawn mown. I had talked with my neighbors a couple of weeks prior about their doing some yard work for me, but the weather has just been lousy. In the meantime, my lawn is getting loooooong, making me a bit embarrassed even though my neighbors aren't anal about the state of their lawns. It's what I love about this neighborhood. Dandelions? Give the heads to the neighbor's rabbits and just make sure they don't spread about too much. Lawn isn't the proscribed height? Big deal; cut it next week. Edges aren't perfect? We have better things to do with our time like have great conversations about the kids and the doings of the neighbors.

Well, when I'm too embarrassed to sit on my peeling porch to knit because of the state of my lawn, it's time to do something about it. So after I got home from work, I put on my garden duds and started to pull out the mower. "Duffy," I hear. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to mow the lawn."

It's Big Tim, my next door neighbor. "Put the mower away. We're going to do it Friday."

I look at him. "It's dry. It's long. It's embarrassing me. Are you sure?"

"Duffy, put the mower away. It's taken care of."

You don't have to tell me twice. "Oh twist my arm, will ya?!" Back the mower goes in the garage!

I love my neighbors.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Playing with EZ and Ted

One of the things from Elizabeth Zimmermann's vast compendium of classics I've wanted to make was the Baby Surprise Jacket. I thought that for the RSM Part Deux there needed to be a sweater-like garment, so I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see if I could make up a small version of the BSJ. Since I had never knit it up before and it was a funny looking beast before its finishing, I thought it wise for me to knit it up as written before tinkering with size adjustment.

Last year, Ted, who is currently working on a bazillion stitches of lace with Wabi Sabi, experimented with dyeing some Kroy 4 ply yarn. He did two different colorways using food dyes, but didn't know what to do with them or if he would ever use them. So he offered them up to me since they were sock weight. Yarn fetishist I am, I accepted them. No idea what I would do with them, but there they were.

Well, they called out to me when I got to thinking about doing the BSJ. "Try us! See what we look like!" And sure enough, they produced a really cool colorway. I alternated 10 rows of one ball with 10 rows of the other so that one colorway doesn't dominate in one section. Really cool!! Thanks Ted!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sucked in by Mel's Meme

My email buddy Mel, aka Cabezalana, is a veterinarian and fiber freak (no order). As I was reading his blog, I came upon a Wikipedia meme he's propagating that I found fascinating. It appealed to my ego (stroke, stroke) because it is about historical events that occurred on one's birthday. What you do is go to Wikipedia, look up your birthday (day and month only), then post the following items:

-- Three interesting historical events that happened on your birthday.

-- Three people who were born on your birthday.

-- Three people who died on your birthday.

It was hard to narrow it down to three for each for me, but these are the events, births, and deaths that occurred on June 15th.


1. In 1215, King John of England affixed his seal on the Magna Carta.
2. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity.
3. In 1846, the Oregon Treaty establishes the 49th parallel as the border between the US and Canada from the Rocky Mountains to the Straits of Juan de Fuca.


1. 1330 -- Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Wales.
2. 1843 -- Edvard Grieg, Norwegian composer
3. 1917 -- Lash LaRue, American actor
4. 1932 -- Mario Cuomo, Governor of New York
5. 1937 -- Waylon Jennings, American singer (and more)


1. 1381 -- Wat Tyler, English rebel
2. 1849 -- James Knox Polk, US President
3. 1968 -- Sam Crawford, baseball player
4. 1996 -- Ella Fitzgerald, American singer

Knitting Content

I added more rows to the Traveling Vine Scarf today and made it to the shop to pick up yarn for the RSM. Boy it's hard to find the right yarn that just says, "Yep, I'm meant to be the RSM." Will it do what I want it to do? Will another yarn work for making a piece for the RSM using a classic pattern only with much tinier yarn than the original calls for? Will I drive Alicia and Norma insane? HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!!! Two more months, my pretties!!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


If I was with one of my family members, I probably be sitting down to a ham dinner after noshing on hard boiled eggs that came from the chickens of Grateful Dead fans. In my youth, I was awakened at an ungodly hour to go dress up in our good clothes to go stand in the rain while someone droned on about something I didn't understand. It probably would have done me some good to go to Sunday school, but since we didn't belong to a church that wasn't an option, so I was oblivious to the meaning of Easter until later when I was given the option of not having to go. Let's see.....sleep in or go stand in the rain in a dress and itchy tights......duh! Later I'd get up and help Mom with preparing dinner so that I didn't have to do the dishes, eat chocolate eggs until I was ill, and go upstairs later to read. That was Easter.

Today was a typical Easter weatherwise: rain alternating with sunshine. I looked out the window and imagined hundreds of Christians standing on soggy grass or in cold churches celebrating the rising of Christ. Then I turned on my secular radio, got my tea, and sat down to my email. Just another Sunday morning.

This was after a Saturday evening of disappointments. It was the third Saturday of the month, so I was expecting Stitch n Bitch at Unraveled Yarns. I chose my projects to work on: the RSM and a lace scarf project. The RSM needed some sock yarn (I didn't want to use a tiny part of an Opal skein and the smaller skeins weren't what I wanted), so I planned to purchase some while I was at Unraveled. I had purposely not gone over there in the morning like I usually do because of the gas (and I had music filing to catch up on). So when I got there at 7 pm and saw the shop was closed, I was rather disappointed. So I headed for another shop that had a cafe attached. They were closed. I went to another. They were open but didn't have the yarn I wanted and were going to be closing in half an hour. I was told of another shop and found it was closed to. So after all that running around, I returned home to sit in front of the idiot box, annoyed as anything.

But today was a new day. It was Sunday--choir rehearsal day--so I had the morning to do things and the afternoon to prepare for time spent with my musical friends. Reid came by and we headed on south. On the way, he told me of how he had spent Saturday evening with friends having Passover Seder and that a group called "What I Like About Jew" was performing this evening. His friend wouldn't be able to go. Reid told me more about this duo and their irreverent take on Jewish culture, so I said, "Let's go!" What better way to celebrate Easter than to go see a Jewish satire group. And sure enough it was a lot of fun. There was this fellow in front of us on the far side of seventy just having a ball despite the language (ribald enough to curl a mother's hair, I tell ya). Fish out of water? Sure. But who cares? It's like the straights at a gay comedian's act. They look just like us, isn't it amazing?

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Still here

You're probably wondering where I've been and have been peeking here. I know you have. You want to know the Mystery. Can't tell you yet. It's April. Two months to go. My birthday's June 15th and that's when I'll reveal the Rubbah Slippah Mystery.

In the meantime, I've been dealing with fatigue. I don't think it's depression because my mood's been really good. It's more along the lines of my hormones being out of whack. But I won't bore you with those things. I'm plugging away.

Half of the Rubbah Slippah Mystery was finished this week. I took it to Knit Purl after seeing the dentist yesterday, unveiling it only after indulging in a hank of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in a lovely dark olive green. I wanted to see if the rumors of the customer service there were true. The initial greeting was "If you have any questions, be sure to ask." The atmosphere is reminiscent of a boutique, not a place where you could just sit and knit and talk. The staff warmed up when I showed the Rubbah Slippah Mystery. It was kind of like my showing the secret sign to an exclusive society. They wanted me to come back when I had finished the RSM, but it would have to be while I was down there for another dentist appointment because they're located in downtown Portland where you have to pay for parking if you can find it. There have been a number of yarn stores opening in Portland in the last couple of years and only one has garnered my interest in being a regular customer (besides Unraveled and Yarn Garden).

So I'm working on the other half of the RSM, digging through my stash for the right kind of yarn for it. Fortunately I have plenty of specialty yarn to choose from; otherwise I would have had to go buy more (horrors!!). This weekend will be spent working on RSM between bouts with the choir library whose filing has fallen WAY behind (blush).

I've been watching the immigration politics going on these last couple of weeks with some interest. My father was an immigrant, coming to this country when he was 9 years old with his mother. I don't know who sponsored them; I do know they would have come legally, but at the time they emigrated the laws were not as stringent as they are now (he arrived in the early '20's). But I can imagine that if he had come from down south instead of from up north, he would have been very frustrated. He grew up poor, worked very hard to feed his mother and stepfather during the Depression, and worked just as hard to feed his family. He understood what it meant to be so poor that you had to really struggle to live. He believed in the American Dream and achieved it for his family.

My experience has been seeing families who want that same dream for their children coming here because the land of their birth has nothing for them. They have chosen to break the law because they feel they cannot wait for the bureaucracy to let them in. They are willing to take jobs that our own children refuse to do. Ask your son or daughter to go spend 40 or more hours a week picking strawberries. Kids my age did that to get extra money for buying the things they wanted until the labor laws were changed. They work in slaughterhouses, farms, hotels, nurseries, and restaurants so that they can feed their families.

Yet there is also the fundamental question of where do you draw the line in condoning breaking the law. There are many who are trying to follow the law in coming in the country legally. They want the same things. They also work very hard. What do we say to those people when we allow the undocumented amnesty because our economy would suffer if we shut the door?

I hope a solution is found because if too harsh or too gentle a measure is taken, the consequences can be detrimental to our economy and society.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I know....


you don't know.....

Spring fever

The sun comes out after days of grey gloom. The warmth is comforting, inviting pulling out a comfy chair and a good book or one's knitting. I like this part of spring.

Unfortunately, it also heralds lawnmowing time.

If I had to choose working in the yard and doing the dishes, I'd work in the yard. But it doesn't mean it's up there in my favorite things to do list. Since I was the only child remaining at home after I turned 9, eventually it became my job to mow the lawn and help my parents with yard work. The house I grew up in was set in one corner of a double lot, so we had a fair amount of yard. My mom loved gardening and had grown up with a mother who also loved gardening (her yard was once chosen to be cover of Waverly Gardens for her azaleas). But the gardening gene didn't sprout in me. So while I was digging holes for annuals, trimming bed edges, raking leaves, and deadheading camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas, I was thinking that when I got a house it was going to have a small that was easy to care for.

So now I have that house and the back yard has become a jungle that the cats love to hunt in. I keep an eye out for vermin, but so far I haven't had any problems with rats or mice. When my next door neighbors had kiwi trees, the possums and raccoons would come by to munch on the fruit; fortunately those neighbors moved and the new ones took out those trees. The front and side yards are relatively well maintained, since they're visible, but they aren't the pristine yards my relatives have.

And there's the lawn.

Every spring it's a challenge. Will the mower start? I got the mower when I was living in a shoebox sized rental house on a double lot full of freeway weeds. It's now approaching 20 years of age and holding up well (bless you Briggs & Stratton) despite my neglect. But it won't do the lawn by itself. And like me, it's reticent about doing the job. The first spring startup is always the hardest, like pushing a bear out of hibernation. Kaschoong chg chg ch ch ch. Kaschoong chg chg ch ch ch. Adjust the throttle. Kaschooong chg chg ch ch ch. Adjust again. Kaschoong ch ch. Nope, too much. Adjust again. Squirt another priming shot of gas. Kaschooong chg chg chg ch ch ch. Kaschoooong chg chg chg chg ch ch. Straighten, groan as the back protests. Look at the lawn. Yeah, it's getting long. It's dry too; not as heavy to carry to the compost heap. Kaschoong chg chg chg. Kaschoong chg chg chg ch ch ch. And so on until either the mower starts or I quit. Usually I quit.

Lawns were invented to give the impression that you were a gentleman landowner, not a farmer who had to use every foot of land to raise crops. A lawn is a sign of prosperity, of comfort.

I can't wait for summer when the damn thing goes into hibernation.

On the needles

While I'm watching my grass grow, I'm busy putting together the pattern for the Olympic sweater. Cross your fingers, kiddies; mama's hoping it will be purchased and published in a book. This is taking me away from the Rubbah Slippah Mystery project, but that's okay. I'm getting inspiration from other areas for it and corrupting the innocent with it. I'll have it done by the time I'm supposed to go deliver it to its intended recipient.