Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Zen Heddle

1) The name a of a new rock band.

Or

2) What I did today.

The latter. After taking a walk, stacking some rocks, walking back, and stacking more rocks I spent time threading heddles on Fannie. Doing the 1-2-3-4 draw is easy enough. Just needs attention. It's annoying to find crossed threads somewhere in the middle of a weaving. All it takes is attention. If knitting is touted as the New Yoga, then weaving is the New Zen Meditation. One's thoughts really can't stray too far from the task at hand. If they do, you end up in Texas or somewhere like that ~ Paris, Texas, if you're really lost. I carefully count out one heddle from each shaft. I mindfully pull each warp thread in order. All one, two, three, four. Simple counting, simple task. And then I leave the loom . . . simplicity leaves the building.

When that happens, you stack rocks. I'm no Andy Goldsworthy ~ he's a man that's got it down pat. (Check him out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Goldsworthy. I've seen his video; fascinating fellow.) But there is a simple comfort in stacking rocks.

Thought for the Day: When life gives you rocks instead of lemons, make cairns.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Post-Turkey Trauma Recuperation

It is now official. The Xmas season is underway. Yoda has been bedecked with the annual xmas lights marking the insanity of the upcoming holiday. I'd like to call it Yule, but this is another one of those holidays that's gone to Hell in a hand basket (one probably well-crafted by Satan himself). So, it's Xmas ~ maybe it's better to just call it X, because it's a time of year I'd like to avoid massing. Small gatherings suit me fine. Especially if there's good food, maybe a little wine . . . and goat cheese.

On to fibery notes: I've completed one sock for Bennie. Once I remember what I did, I'll supply the technical notes for a Youths size 1 to 1 1/2 sock. I like how it striped itself with big fat delicious stripes. Bennie's choice of yarn was a pleasure to work with. As I'm being frugal with the yarn, I may have enough to knit up a couple of wristlets for her as well.

Also, you may note, Bennie is wearing her brand new Intended-to-be-a-Bucket-Hat modified to fit her cute little head. As I was working a mohair cord through the hat with a crochet hook, I decided that the hat could still be a hat just not a Bucket Hat. And as my daughter is willing to wear my mistakes, the Bucket Hat became a sort of Fop Hat which she gets to enjoy (I think that's what they're called ~ Colonial-type folk wore them). Whew! That's one Mohair Mess-up situation solved!

And this photo is merely proof that the Boys are still alive and well. They're presently in the middle of video gaming with their last few hours of freedom. Note the glazed eyes ~ it's not from donuts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Making the Pies

Here are the Three Chefs baking the Pumpkin Pies for tomorrow's Beast Feast. Tom excluded himself due to Pumpkin Nausea ~ the smell of it just makes him sick; even with cloves and cinnamon.

One hour to bake pies = one week for the kitchen to recover. Simple math. It's another one of Einstein's little-known theorems, long before e = mc2. Hey, gotta start somewhere.


And here's me and Skittles NOT baking pies.

Now it's time for the latest remake of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise (it might become a Thanksgiving holiday favorite; sort of like wrapping Christmas gifts to Pulp Fiction) and the spinning of more mohair.

Burning the Midnight Oil

Last night, for some unknown reason, maybe a planetary alignment, I had a burst of energy at a time I normally go to bed. At 11:00 pm, when I would have been dozing to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Ah, Caribbean Angst!) and the TV, I tackled the beginnings of a pair of socks for Bennie. Here it is in my produce . . .

As I've had my eye on Bennie's selection from the Sheep and Wool, I made her an offer she couldn't refuse. Let Mommy play with the yarn and she'll knit her a pair of socks with it. How could she say No? She couldn't and she didn't. Now, this is, of course, being done in the Magic Loop method and should go like gang busters over the next few days. Most of my knitting may actually be done at a relative's whilst waiting for the afore-ranted turkey to roast. Since I didn't want to do the toe-up offered in the booklet, I've modified the directions of the Winter Sock to suit my needs. So, technical notes are as follows:

#4 circular needles
Bennie's Neat-O Wool from the Sheep and Wool
cast on 30 stitches to start for the shank
Gauge: C'mon! You know me by now!

More info to come since I'm figuring it out as I go. Which is dangerous. Let's not talk about the hat-about-to-become-a-cinch-bag. (Okay, the only note: I did try to full it in the washing machine. It didn't work. Hence, the future cinch-bag for something else.)

I also had the gumtion to spin a little of my Sheep and Wool purchase, a mohair/wool blend. It's spinning up fine. I'm still on the fence about plying it. I was moodling over the idea of doing myself a sweater from The Knitting Goddess: the Penelope Sweater using the Brioche stitch. I think I might hold out for some angora on that though. I'll have to see how this spins up. Here is Millie with the mohair hanging out in the kitchen waiting for a decent cup of tea . . .

In the meantime, I have turkey carcass hanging out at the bottom of my fridge. It was accidentally purchased. I doubt insurance covers it. I don't even think I could file a police report. It was a hit and run with no clues, not even tire tracks. I'm still reeling from the impact. It will not be the Thanksgiving Turkey though ~ just an ordinary one. A humble hunk of meat that will be our meal(s) from November 25, 2005 onward. Time to look through those Left-Over Turkey recipes . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sometimes You Have to Ask . . .

When will we wake up?!

Annually, like lemmings to the edge of a cliff, we race about doing things that have no soul, no real authenticity. I know I'm not the only one that feels the onerous weight of these winter holiday obligations. I know I'm not, despite what the Significant Other feels about my anti-social tendancies. I'm not anti-social. In fact, I can be a fun person. I'll agree that it has to be on my terms (perpetual Aries ~ it's all about me), but I'm fun, dammit! What would it take to scale down the Holiday Insanity? Simply waking up and really taking stock of the situation. We buy oversized turkeys that have lived their short pathetic lives in an enclosed space, not ever seeing the sun, not ever feeling the earth twixt their toes, not ever feeling the rain on their backs, not ever eating Real Turkey Food, not ever relying on their own immune systems to be healthy and we act Thankful about it. I'm far from being a vegetarian. I like turkey, in person and on the platter. What I don't like anymore ~ and maybe it's because I'm getting . . . y'know . . . older ~ is the running around and the nonsense. Family reunions are more than likely easier in the summer when all can reunite indoors and out. Family crammed in to watch football and await the roasted Turkey gets cranky. Especially with kids that don't want to be quiet and certainly don't want to watch football. Marketing is geared toward selling everyone in America this ideal that we need to have a Thanksgiving meal in this Traditional Manner, this whole Norman Rockwell thing. Traditionally, it's unlikely the pilgrims and Iroquois (?) even had turkey. They certainly didn't have the Oceanspray canned cranberries. Tradition has been twisted to suit the Market and we've lost the meaning, folks.

Thanksgiving isn't about turkey and football. It's about the Attitude of Gratitude. It's about being thankful for the people in our lives, the roof over our heads, the ability to come up with the money to squeak by, our continued good health . . . Gratitude is meant for Everyday and not to be crammed into one day in the company of screaming football fans on TV.

And then there's Christmas . . . Don't get me started.

Enough preaching. I'm working on a project. I can't write about it just yet because I don't quite know how I'm doing with it or how I feel about it. Well, honestly, I do know how I feel about it. I feel apprehensive. I feel the flutter of Failure lurking about. I feel the constant nagging of Low Self-Esteem tugging at my left ear. So, until I'm on better ground with the nourishment of Delight-in-what-I'm-doing and healthy doses of Praise, mixed with a dash of Pride. It'll just have to remain Unmentionable for the time being.

Otherwise, I'm going to start a pair of socks for the Princess with her angora wool bought from the Sheep and Wool.

Thought For the Day: The Elephant of Surprise far outweighs the Aardvark of Dismay. Hands down.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Moodling

The last balmy day we had was Wednesday. That day, instead of door shopping, Dirk worked on the house and I spent time sleying the loom. (Definition: By sley I mean threading, not engaging in stand-up comedy ~ that would be slaying . . . Ah, where my mind goes. The loom was amused though.) It surprises me what I can remember. It's like cellular memory warping the loom, riding a bike, baking a cake. I just, with a mere glance at my Learning to Weave book, remembered how to do it. And it went quickly. I'm nearly done sleying the beater. Next I'll be counting heddles and threading those. I'm aiming for a twill, so it'll be the simple 1-2-3-4 combo on the shafts. But that was the Last Balmy Wednesday . . .

Today, there is a definite chill in the air. The seals to the car door were slightly frozen. We are nearing the middle of winter. I'm baking like a maniac for the Brownie's bake sale tomorrow. Seedcake from www.godecookery.com is baking as I write. I will then move on to Sand Trooper Sandies from the Star Wars cookbook, soon followed by Wookie Cookies. So baking on a day like this is fine. I'd like to get to painting as I have a project in mind, but it's on hold due to time constraint and lack of solitude. This frustrates me and makes me cranky. It makes me lethargic and then I don't want to do anything remotely adult or responsible. I want to take a nap.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In the 'Tween

I'm between projects. This is dangerous. I hate floundering. It means I need to haul my entire stash out and see what comes to mind. I have to pull out that blank canvas (previously a Butt Painting) and do something with it. And I'm just not feeling self-motivated right now. I feel rather like limp pasta ~ which is fine for yoga, but not so great in day-to-day. There's stuff I could spin, of course. A sort of mindless do-something while the boys are on assault missions in Star Wars Battlefront II and Bennie watches Lilo and Stitch for the twentieth time. The wheel would at least take me somewhere (perhaps instead of Millie, I should rename her Calgon).

If there's anything I have been doing it's cooking. My fingers have been tickling through cookbooks. Cait Johnson's Cooking Like a Goddess/Witch in the Kitchen (they are the one and the same ~ so I retract the previous erratum) has been the culinary tome of choice these days. I've successfully made Apple Squash Soup, Smoky Pumpkin Soup, and, just yesterday, the Cailleach Soup (Kale-Leek). All have been yummy and comforting and something to do whilst in the 'Tween. My next culinary trip might take me to Edward Espe Brown's Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings. I have magic aprons and the kitchen altar. I have candles and all the right spices. I have the Kitchen Comfy Chair (unless occupied by any of the feline denizen) and fairly decent wine or the perfect tea. All ingredients for Creativity and nothing to turn snout at.

The painting will come. The next perfect knitting (NOT Christmas gift related) will work its way onto the needles. Until then, I don't see why I can't make soup. It'll be a one-up on Marie Antoinette and her cake service.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Loom with a View

Meet Fanny, my LeClerc four-shaft floor loom. We've finally busted her out of storage. At present, she's enjoying space and freedom in Dirk's future office, but will soon be moved to my studio once the walls and windows are in place. I could, if I really wanted to, weave right this second. I could weave while guys are working around me in a flurry of activity to finish my humble abode. I could sneak up to the site while kids are in school and enjoy quiet time in the woods. There's a propane heater (I guess I'll have to get over that fear of exploding and light it myself). I have warp thread. I know where my warp mill is and the weaving book (actually, I'm hoping I'm wrong about the book's locale because if it's in my basement it smells like mold). I also have a variety of single-spun yarns which lend themselves well to haphazard weaving. I don't even think I'd want to make a specific project like a table runner or place mats ~ I just want to chuck the shuttle and beat the weft. I've suffered serious weaving deprivation for years now; this is a big deal. But first Fanny needs a thorough dusting and cleaning. She needs her castle and beams polished. She needs to be tweaked and nudged until she feels good to work with again. Hopefully, she isn't too creaky and cranky. Hopefully, she'll forgive the years of exile inflicted upon her while I was fretting over the building of a house. Hopefully, the rhythm of beater and treadles will soften the wear-and-tear we've all endured working and waiting. A warm blanket might be nice though . . .

Meanwhile, back at the Funny Farm, I've knitted up a Tarot pouch using more of that single-spun mohair and the Magic Loop. Basically, I made a sock with a heel flap. I used stitches that would balance the twist of single-spun ~ the Loop's Beaded Rib and for the flap, the Moss or Seed Stitch. I knit the tube as deep as necessary for the deck in question and then shifted stitches to do the flap as long as desired. This pattern used a U.S. #8 circular needle. Now, the Duh Moment occurred when I bound off the flap and realized that I'd held the other stitches on the loop. I cast off adding a strand of yarn to do so, but I think the finished edge of the tube could have been cast off before I got involved with the flap. As I have a plethora of Tarot decks, I'll have plenty of opportunity to work this one out. This pattern could also make a cute cell phone holder or just a little pouch (I call them pockets because I wear plenty of duds with no pockets, usually yoga pants and skirts).

Today is Election Day. I've been an unregistered voter for years. Really, I am remiss in my civic duty. I've had plenty of opportunity to register ~ renewing car registrations, picking up mail at the Post Office, checking out movies and books at the library. I've had my chances and blown them all. My best attempt at casting my vote now involves crossing my fingers while the electoral process rages on. It makes knitting very difficult.

Friday, November 04, 2005

We Paws For Gender Identification

Awhile ago, I noticed my male rabbit nesting. This would lead me to believe one of two things: 1) I incorrectly sexed this particular rabbit or 2) He's coming out of the closet. Given how difficult it is to discern what's going on with a rabbit's fuzzy bits, I'll assume it's the former. As least that worry is over! Now I just have to ensure they aren't exchanging math notes. Or maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll be more interested in quantum physics or opera rather than multiplication. In the meantime, Smudge ~ Ms. Smudge, that is ~ and Skittles get alternating turns at roaming the abode. Both out together would naturally invite disaster of hairy proportions.

We now return to the previously scheduled blog . . .

No comments on the tardiness of post-Halloween clean-up, please. The rabbit thing has been a shock.

Now that the camera has returned from sunny Alcapulco, it's feeling refreshed and ready to work at the blog again. Thus a photo of the finished bucket hat. The brim has my handspun Rose mohair in that Linen stitch while the crown is in a metallic/mohair blend. I know there is a special Hell for those that do not swatch before doing a project. Luckily, it isn't a deferred Hell. If the gauge is wrong, you're pretty much stuck with something that doesn't fit well. (Although, at this moment, I'm imagining being turned away at the Pearly Gates ~ which, in my warped mind, resemble those of Graceland ~ due to my sloth at swatching. Would this mean I'm doomed to wear every article of clothing I've knit haphazardly? Probably. At any rate, I'll be easily recognizable.) And while this hat is neat, it doesn't fit as well as I'd expected.

So, can anyone out there tell me about fulling? I've already done one thing wrong ~ let's see if I can remedy the situation with a washing machine. I'm open for suggestions . . .