Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mohair Musings

For about a week now I've been sharing the table with this guy. He's waiting for Halloween. We dragged his plastic-boney butt down from the site where a fair amount of our holiday decorations reside. (I wish they'd pay the electric. And I've got a bone to pick with someone about the trash lying about.) At 2:00 am, it can truly be quite disconcerting to find someone sitting at the table. I'm half expecting him to ask me for a drink of water while I'm at it. But that would only happen if he were plugged in. So let's be thankful he's not wired for now.

In the meantime, I've been trying to knit that mohair bucket hat. The first time I did something wrong ~ can't remember what ~ and decided it would be better to just start over again. The second time, I began to knit a moebius hat brim . . . Knowing there really wasn't anyway to fix that, I decided it would be better to just start over again. (Hah! Deja vu!) Being that the Third Time is the proverbial Charm, I am still on only 1/2" of the brim using the Linen Stitch. Let's not jinx it, but I think I'm finally off to a good start. The problem I'm fast learning about mohair is that it's really not a good idea to frog it. Someone on the Playground mentioned something about putting the mistake-laden project on ice and then it would be easier to rip out. Just what I'd need: a Mohair Morgue of all the failed projects left undone, next to the peas and Eggos. Would anyone care to comment on the hair in the ice cubes? Better to scrap it and start over. In this way, Strawberry gets some really posh nesting material. A well-nested hamster is a happy hamster.

And I think my camera's flash has finally crapped out. I was going to post a pic of the hat, but it looked like this:

















With funds funneling into construction, I'm thinking that the realization of a new digital camera is somewhere in Siberia right now. I hope to post more pics, but that rather depends on the disposition of my equipment. Moody little bits of technology! But if you can discern the blobs, you might make out the two failed attempts at mohair hat brim with a Lazy Kate and the third triumphant attempt at this hat. Have a couple of beers first and then check back ~ things might look clearer then.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Guy Gets Older, Lives to Tell About It

Today is Dirk's birthday! We had a wonderful meatloaf-and-mashed-potato-with-gravy-and-peas dinner followed by Betty Crocker's Lemon Cake (with sprinkles). Tom lit the number candles and carried in the cake. Ian ranted about being unable to play his new video game. Bennie took pictures of the rabbits. But we all sang Happy Birthday and ate cake.

It's funny to think that, without divulging ages, I've known this man for more than half our lives now. We've grown up together ~ which is a little weird. And yet familiarity hasn't bred contempt; maybe a new breed of sarcasm, but no contempt. He is the best man I know. When he looks at our children, I see the love and delight he has for them in his eyes. And that warms the cockles of my heart. May he find many more years of love and delight in Life and I hope I'm still along for the ride (I believe I'm still the bearer of a non-refundable ticket).

Number candles on the cake blotted to protect the innocent headed for the Incline.

On a fibery note: Upon countless hours of searching for a FREE hat pattern, specifically, the Bucket Hat Pattern, on the 'net I finally ended up digging through past Knits mags to find the Furlana Hat and Mitts by Rebecca Harris ~ Fall 2003, to be precise, page 48. And I got that info off another blog that I stumbled upon, but did not make note of. (I was just thankful to find the FREE pattern.) The brim utilizes the Linen Stitch and then Ye Olde Stockinette about the crown. It should work fairly well with single-spun mohair. I'm just NOT going to fight with plying this goat hair. I'm not even taking it off the spool ~ knitting right off the Lazy Kate, I am. That's it and that's all! Not another word . . .

So, I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

So, Woody and I Were Spinning . . .

Sometimes, the best way to get a bulk of spinning done is to pop in a movie and let 'er rip. And that is exactly I what I did. Thankfully, the local library has DVD's free and a pretty fair selection (I've even gotten my mitts on "Sideways"). Yesterday, I had a Woody Allen flick "Hollywood Ending." I visit his movies on rare occasions. It's a lot of belief to suspend when he depicts himself winning back ex-wives or ex-lovers with weird neuroses and hypochondria. Nonetheless, it's movie watching easy enough to spin through ~ at least 1 hour and 85 minutes of spinning. As you can see, I've pretty much filled the spool on my Millie. This dyed mohair, dubbed Rose, has interesting color ranging from deep red wine to amber browns right on to screaming green. I'm thinking fuzzy mohair hat in the style I've seen on the Playground ~ sort of like a fisherman's hat. Golly, that requires a free pattern search! My favorite escapist past time!

Tonight, I'm reading cards at a Halloween party. Donations only ~ I'm rarely comfortable charging folks for something they could do themselves if they bought a book and a deck. I'd once worked for a woman at the Renaissance Faire reading cards. People never came first thing in the morning. It was as if they needed lunch before being dealt their Fates. Perhaps it's an unwritten rule: Never receive a card reading on an empty stomach. Conversely, if you don't wait a half hour after eating you could throw up. I'm also aware that there will be children coming to me . . . I'll need to make those readings short, sweet and fun. What kind of angst could these little beings need answers on? "When will little Susie stop yanking my hair?" "How can I persuade my mother that, at 6 years old, I am fully capable of running my own lumber mill?" "Will Mark, who's in the 2nd Grade, ever be fully accepted by my parents even though I'm a 1st Grader?" and the ever-popular "What is my life's calling after Kindergarten?" Jeez, kid! I'm 40-whatever and I still don't have a clue!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Toasty Tootsies

Here they are warm and toasty on my tootsies! I'm quite pleased with the results. Magic Loop is a yummy way to get socks done. Out on the Playground (at school where parents congregate to pick up children at dismissal), I noticed another knitting klatsch had sprouted. Kirsten, Heaven, Grace and I set a precedence hauling our knits and needles to the Hill. (Well, Heaven doesn't knit, but serves up great chat. Sadly, the Hill is gone now. The school district felt it necessary to wreck the scenery with a new building.) Anyway, one of Them wandered over to check out the socks as I tried them on said tootsies. She told me she'd tried knitting socks but was too frustrated to finish. I brandished the Magic Loop booklet declaring, unequivocally, that this was the booklet to get ~ she'd be knitting socks in no time and not only for herself and family, but also the cat. Now maybe they'll let me join Their stitch and bitch. Apparently, I was glossed over in the recruiting process despite indicating that I'd love to create a knitting/spinning/crochet klatsch with some other handy like-minded folk. I guess I'm just a Lone Knitter headed off into the sunset on my trusty steed with my green and purple striped feet spreading the Good Word about an easier way to knit socks.

Now . . . I have ALL of this unspun wool sitting on my Kitchen Comfy Chair (I haven't been able to sit in my favorite chair for a week now). As I walk by to get dinner ingredients, the Pile winks at me, inticing me to stop what I'm doing for some touchy-feely. When I go for that healthy, cleansing drink of water, the Pile invites me to make wooly plans to leave my family and head for the hills with nothing but a spinning wheel and a Lazy Kate. As I'm brewing my tea, the Pile pleads with me to turn it into something luxurious and fantastic. How can I walk by and not comply? What the Pile needs to know is that I have this Mohair on the side that's been waiting to be spun since summer. It's a nicely dyed rosey-greeny colored bit of fiber I got from the Knittingsmith during the Dry Fiber times before I got the the Sheep & Wool. In this, I am a One Wool Woman ~ I'll finish this roving first before tickling my fingers with the new stuff. It's the Right Thing to do. Commitment is so demanding! Soon, my precious . . .

Oh, and one more thing, I may be a bit late on the uptake, but I'm loving the latest Tori Amos CD (did I spell that right?), "The Beekeeper." For three days now I've turned the boom box on to Play and then Repeat listening to Tori's haunting voice until the cows ~ or rather, the children ~ come home. On the same day that was purchased I also got some older Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Freaky Styley" with P-Funk's, George Clinton. Delicious music!

Errata: I'd once posted that Cait Johnson's "Cooking Like a Goddess" had been reprinted as "Witch in the Kitchen." It would appear, by the looks of Amazon dot com, that I was wrong and stand (or sit and spin) corrected.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Sheep & Wool at Rhinebeck!

After some morning visits and drop-offs, I made it to the Sheep & Wool in Rhinebeck. A planetary alignment ensuring that I had money and a working vehicle at my disposal made it all possible. For three years I hadn't been able to get to the Festival, my only source for unspun wool, due to cash flow or auto troubles. Finally, my penance had paid off! Even though I got there four hours before the festival would end, there was still plenty of wool to spare for purchase. After losing my mind in a colorful stand of handspun, I got back on track to purchasing what I usually can't get in the local shop ~ roving and batts. At one time, I'd have been happy purchasing fleece, cleaning it myself, etc. But on this trip, I wanted stuff prepped for spinning with colors, thank you. Once I ran out of cash, I just cruised the rest of the joint snagging cards of venders with dot coms. I figure if I've seen their merchandise and liked it, it would be safe to purchase over the internet in the inevitable fiberless future.

Rather than doing an arm-sweep cleaning of the dining room table filled with recent Star Wars gifts for Ian, I decided to include them. So here's some of the wool I bought with a portion of the Star Wars ensemble.

Here, the gun ship Clone Troopers are guarding the latest shipment ~ an addition to the yarn stash. Mostly handspun, hand-dyed (could have been foot-dyed, I don't know) sheep wool and some of it was some angora mix. This is the only time I lost my head at the Sheep & Wool.



















In this scene, the Trade Federation is ready to talk turkey with the Republic on a fun deal of $10 per hand-dyed wool top roving from Nick's Meadow Farm. It's one of my usual stops at the Sheep & Wool ~ I have yet to be disappointed.

Obi Wan Kenobi bravely defends the mohair/wool blend from Clone Troopers. (The Wool Cats were still napping from their all-nighters.)



Jabba is gorging himself on this delicious dyed mohair. Tom, Bennie and I were allowed to pick out any color we wanted from a wide array of locks ~ like kids in a candy shop!

This is a skein I bought for Bennie's yarn stash with Luminara fending off the Empire. Now before I get any comments about the disparity in amount of added yarn between my stash and my daughter's, let me say in my own defense ~ it's every knitter for themselves! This is an angora blend, by the way.

Much appreciation to Tom Geithner for technical notes and who's who in the production of this photo shoot.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rules Out the Window or Ian's Birthday

Since this was an All-Boy Sleepover, I kept the rules simple and concise:

1) Do not eat the hamster.
2) Do not whack each other with the wide array of Intergalactic weaponry. (The light saber may have been a "more refined" weapon for ObiWan Kenobi, but in the hands of any male aged 9 and up, it's the perfect Plastic Whacking stick made all the more interesting and amusing when lights and sounds flicker upon contact with other light saber-bearing males.)

That being established, let's have a gander at the rules that eluded even Honorable Mention:

1) Thou shalt eat like a human being. We, as parents, spend so much time and energy teaching our children correct behavior in social situations. Table manners are the first to dissipate in the face of an All-Boy Dining Experience. Seafood becomes the favorite word as gaping maws display partially masticated Sesame Chicken and rice. Belching is not only an occurrance, it is encouraged and fueled by carbonated beverages of all kinds. (Although, I now have it on good authority that rootbeer is by far the best material for burping.) Reciting the alphabet in Belch-ese is practiced with great gusto. Flatulent activity also gains points, especially if delivered in the proper tone and timbre.

2) Thou shalt flush and wash thy hands. Okay, that aside, let's discuss Aim. One would think that when approaching a target roughly 12"-14" in diameter, the ability to direct one's aim at 6" away should be dead on. Au contraire! 9-year-old boys have better luck hitting the proverbial broad side of the barn. (I rather wish I had a barn right now ~ clean-up wouldn't be such an issue.) Now that my bathroom resembles a road-side restroom, the bushes are becoming an attractive option.

3) Thou shalt not dispense Wedgies. 'Nough said.

And the Queen Mother of All Rules that left the building . . .

4) Thou shalt commence slumber at a reasonable hour. We need to modify the term "Sleep Over." No one ever sleeps over anything. In fact, the hosting parents get the least amount of sleep and are seen the next day in a coffee-induced zombie-like state dragging reddened eyeballs and their baggage on the floor. Having imbibed coffee does little to help this state ~ only a proper nap followed by more sleep is the cure. No, "Sleep Over" needs desperately to be redefined. A more appropriate term might be "Boys-Up-All-Night-Making-Disgusting-Noises & Smells Over," or "Perpetual-Gaming Over," or a "Snigger-All-Night Over." I can attest with a fair amount of certainty, that the Sandman gives "Sleep Overs" a wide berth.

Nonetheless, despite the Missing Rules, Ian had a memorable birthday party with four of his Best Buddies and his older brother. And, really, that's just what any kid turning 9 years old needs: memories to bank on when see-food and belching are socially unacceptable, accuracy of aim increases, Wedgies occur naturally in embarassing situations, and sleep becomes sacred. I'm happy to report there were no injuries . . . Wait. I take that back. The assault on my living room isn't pretty and it may take the bedroom a week to recover. The cats are lining up for double doses of nip and the rabbits are flopped over in nervous ticks and exhaustion. The only critter seemingly unphased by the All-nighter is Strawberry the Hamster.

Later this afternoon, we will be going to the theater, buying tickets and popcorn and probably slumbering through "Wallace and Grommet." Therefore, I won't be able to tell you one thing about the movie.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gross Anatomy

I've thrown out my back. That statement could mean one of two things 1) someone inadvertantly tossed my spine into the bin without looking between the newspapers (also the Black Hole for homework and other important documents ~ it's a theory I'm working on) or 2) I've done something completely mindless and stupid resulting in an injury to my sacroiliac. I wish I could state that I was having fun, doing the Twist or the Mashed Potato while imbibing an Apple Martini when my spine decided to leave the room, but I wasn't. My aching back is a result of House Cleaning ~ an over-rated, odious, repetitive activity. It's bad enough my Inner Bohemian Artist retreats to the furthest depths of my mind at the thought of vacuuming, but to spend the rest of the week limping around like Peg-Leg Pete due to one lousy day of cleaning is just pathetic. And then it makes me feel all the more freakish about . . . y'know . . . getting old. All I did was move an air conditioner. By myself. To ask for help means that I'd have to wait two weeks which drives me bananas. Nothing worse than having an air conditioner leering at one through an open window long past summer. Actually, there is something worse: It's when all five of one's able-bodied cats (one feline is so old she can be carbon dated) have discovered the hole on one side of the leering air conditioner and have been using that egress since then to drag in a few new-found buddies like Mr. Mole or Ms. Chipmunk and how about good ol' Master Chickadee? Sometimes, I just find barely identifiable parts ~ none of which I can use for dinner. So, it makes me feel old that I'd have to request assistance for something I could easily move on my own when I was twenty. Maybe I could decorate it for the holidays. Jack O' Lanterns for Halloween, lights for Christmas, Easter eggs for . . . well . . . Easter.

In order to get on the mend, I've spent the day puttering and knitting and reading. Not sitting, lying or standing for too long. I need to be in shape for the Friday Night Chinese Dinner/Theater Sleep Over for Ian's 9th birthday with FOUR EXTRA boys. (Did I not mention I'd sold my soul to get to the Sheep & Wool this Sunday? The deal is sealed. Anyone else who has made similar arrangements to attend can meet me later in the Underworld. I'll be wearing the green and purple striped socks. BYOK ~ Bring Your Own Knitting. Oh, wait, we'll be in Hell. Nevermind.) As testoscerone levels will be abnormally high in this humble abode, Bennie will be camping out at Kirsten's with Jade in a more girl-friendly atmosphere. Then we all go to the movies Saturday. "Wallace and Grommet." Should be a hoot.

Now, as I've sat long enough, I need to go lean against something and heat up dinner. I think we'll just have frozen peas.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Odds and Ends

Ah, it's been too long! One Malabrigo sock is finished and the other is begun. The pattern from Spinderella's worked out fine; I just had a little more decreasing to do at the gussets. All in all the One Sock (the One Sock to Rule Them All) fits quite well. I think even Frodo, our wooly-footed hobbit fellow, would appreciate them. I know Gandalf wouldn't mind. Do Ents wear socks when we're not looking? Not one of my cats was available for the shoot. I had to settle for the dining room table. But there you have it.

Also, I've declared the Butterfly Madonna finis. Artists can do that. Just call something done ~ stick it with a fork and serve it up. So . . . I'm done. Time to move on to the next thing.

I would have preferred posting a photo of an installed window unscathed, but alas thanks to some-inconsiderate-one, all I have is a future claims shot. It was nice before that someone jammed a metal rod through the Very Expensive Double-Paned (or is that ~ Pain?) Window. We've been assured by the manufacturer that it can be replaced (for a nominal fee, of course) and that these things occur frequently on job sites. Well, I mean, the nerve! If anyone had a clue as to how far we've come, instead of vandalizing the window they would have dropped to their knees and did a few Hail Marys and Beatitudes, offered up a sacrifice or something. (Can that be done in the same sentence? On this subject, I admit to complete ignorance. So much for that Theology degree I was thinking about.)

On the up side, I might just make it to the Sheep & Wool this weekend. More on that later, I have a few details to tidy up with the Devil on the sale of my soul to make it happen. I think the closing is this Friday.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who Says This is a Day Off?

My children are home from school today. Holiday ~ one inserted inconveniently during the week. I don't mind them much if they're attached to a weekend. A few days of unshowered, coffeed bliss is fine, but a Tuesday off twixt Monday and Wednesday school days is just dumb. Superintendents ~ can't live with them, can't eat them for breakfast (and why would anyone want to anyway; they're generally quite gamey). Next week is looking much the same with a holiday on Thursday, after a three-day weekend (which, as I mentioned, I can deal with). I suggest we do a straight run of all the holidays and then just let school stay open. Get Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas done and cleaned up in the month of September and be done with it. Let these little niggling Colombus Day-like holidays fall to the wayside ~ at most, they're good for White Sales.

Enough of that . . .

Seen here is Jango sporting a sock-in-progress using Malabrigo Merino single-spun wool in Hollyhock and Green Spark, alternating stripes. (The Inspiration: the striped socks of the Wicked Witch of the East (?) with the house unceremoniously dropped on her in The Wizard of Oz. Great pair of pins until they began to shrivel and curl ~ she must have done yoga. And can Glinda please come do my dishes?) The needles are #4 circulars, the Turbo kind. I have no idea what the guage is (I rarely do). The shank is made using Spinderella's Slouch Socks pattern (http://www.spinderellas.com/patterns/slouch.html) modified for the Magic Loop. Once at the heel flap, I reverted to the Magic Loop instructions and am now in the process of working the gusset decreases. It is at this point that I'm winging it and hoping I remember the process when knitting the other sock. Well . . . who says socks have to match perfectly anyway? I could be making an artisitic statement here. The point is, this stuff knits up like buttah! Really, the wool isn't spun, more like very fine roving. All squishy and soft like Wonder Bread, but better quality.

As I was taking these photos, Ian, observing the Day Off in tighty whities, asked if he could be included in the photos since I was using his indignant cat as a prop for the sock. That would be an unequivocal NO, Ian. Now, for the love of little green frogs, get dressed!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

24

As I was in Uttanasana gazing at my toe jam yesterday, I realized that today would be the day that Dirk and I met 24 years ago. We met at college (oh, too cliche). I picked him up. I let him know that I'd bring him back to his car at the college parking lot the next day. He respectfully declined ~ probably for his own safety if for no other reason. I did walk with him to his next class and for half a second, we both leaned in for the quick comfortable peck that veteran couples utilize on departure. It was as if we'd done it a thousand times before, we were just picking up from somewhere and some time else; just another day. I think we knew then that we would mate for life like wolves or swans.

I used to believe in that whole Soul Mate thing and wondered if this person was mine. Then I realized that if we all met our Soul Mates then we wouldn't learn a blessed thing in our life times. We're meant to be with who we're meant to be with for the time we're meant to be with them. (Are ya with me?) Each relationship is a platform for learning about ourselves and the world. Each relationship is precious. (I am in NO WAY speaking for anyone who has gone through abusive situations. I haven't had that experience and wouldn't dare to suggest that abuse, in any form, is an educational one.)

So, we've done more than half our lives together. We have three wonderful kids between us. We're continuing to build a house and a life together. It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, but it's been a lot of fun. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm looking forward to more fun . . . and laundry.

To celebrate, we're installing more windows. I have my Malabrigo yarn wound and ready to go for a pair of funky socks. I might be inviting disaster (bring it on), but I'm going to hazard another modified pattern. More on the technical notes later.