Thursday, December 29, 2005


I had a mildly brilliant thought the other day: What if I wrote my stuff in MS Word until I’ve exhausted all avenues of aimless rambling (with images) and then copied it over to the blog Command Post? I find that when I’m actually writing up my drivel in the blog Command Post, I’m not writing clearly because I’m acutely aware of how long I’m on the internet which is also on the same line as our business phone. Yes, I’m still in the Jurassic Period technologically speaking with regard to online hook-up. Dial-up. Drag.

A perfect example occurred a few posts back when I meant for anyone reading the blog to go to Pillowkits, which is indeed in my little sidebar. The reason I want you to go there is to check out the Moonkissed Mugwort. That and to take me to your leader. The Pregnant Paws (aka large feet) I was referring to belonged to the owner of the rather large socks I received in the mail to replicate. I hope I have that cleared up now. If I have, go there now and then take me to your leader.

The other reason it’s nicer to write up stuff whilst offline is that I can assault readers with a greater amount of drivel than usual. I will have the time to really get a thought in completely, perhaps with greater detail than necessary to truly drive one around the bend. I like a curvy road myself. Straight lines are bad in feng shui anyway.

That said, let’s review recent events:

Xmas Day ~ Enjoyed by all. Cooked for people. Visited other people. Naturally, the kids dove into the loot with great gusto and seem happy with the gifts Santa brought.

1st Day After Xmas ~ Recovery from said holiday. Unshowered bliss and pajamas all day for everyone (except Dirk; he went to work on the house). No people were allowed entry, more for their safety and well-being than ours. We all looked and smelled funky.

2nd Day After Xmas ~ Cleaned and dressed appropriately for leaving the house, we went on errands (the rabbits were desperate for some hay) and more visits. Dirk continued Tyvekking (a sad commentary on our times now that this word has become a verb). The guys were treated to Wendy’s chili. We had a simple spaghetti dinner. Knitting, TV viewing, and then bed. Boo-yah.

3rd Day After Xmas ~ I used a quality-brand Q-Tip to swab out my ear only to discover that there was no cotton on the stick. This lead me to believe that the following may have occurred: 1) there was no cotton on the Q-Tip to begin with and I wasn’t paying attention 2) the cotton came off in the bath robe pocket and I wasn’t paying attention or the disconcerting but ever-popular, 3) the cotton came off in my ear and I wasn’t paying attention. I was also relying on Dirk to look carefully in my ear to determine if this was indeed what happened. Medical skills lacking in Significant Other (who was also unwilling to fish about in the inner ear with a flash light and toothpick), I made an appointment with an otolaryngologist. The day quickly became a three-ring circus (like there’s any other kind) with the arranging of play dates and the borrowing of vehicles to get to said otolaryngologist. Once at the otolaryngologist’s, I filled out a vast amount of paperwork with regard to medical and financial history, sat in the special Looking in the Ear-Nose-Throat Chair after giving the assistant something to laugh about (I told her about the toothpick and flash light plan I had to save face) and then waited for the otolaryngologist. The kind doctor looked very carefully for all of two minutes in my ear, just to make sure, but found an ear canal not only void of Q-Tip cotton, but also wax. If I’ve accomplished anything, I’ve made an otolaryngologist’s year.

$80 later, I headed out to the Yarn Swift on the way back home (I owe you more gas, Heaven) to check out their wares. It’s a shop filled with, well, yarn and spindles and spinning fibers and looms and spinning wheels as well as spindles and knitting needles and so on. I treated myself to a ½ lb bag of Dark Welsh Top and a book, Folk Mittens, put out by Interweave Press. I feel much better now.

4th Day After Xmas ~ Otolaryngology recovery and knitting with as few kid visits as possible, no clue for dinner, possibly fitting in time to paint on the long-term project, no shower. The Fair Isle has been set aside momentarily to do a requested moebius shawl. The stuff I’ve chosen to knit this item is like knitting with spider web (giving one a sense of being like Arachne). Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze, Shade 582: a delectable mohair with piquant flavor and a heady aftertaste. I’m also trying my hand at a little lace knitting. This requested project isn’t going as quickly as I’d like, but that’s the Zen of it ~ I will surrender to the process. As long as I have that special twist that makes it moebius.

Well, it would seem this little experiment has worked well . . . If you’ve learned how to spell otolaryngologist correctly, I’ve done my job.

And proof that kids are having a lovely Winter Vacation:

And what’s up with the blurry camera?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fair Isle Fun

I am amazed at myself. Honestly. I've never done Fair Isle in my life. Intarsia is still initimidating, but I might be more willing to try it after getting through this. This is mostly knitted up from my hand-spun stash (except for the Wool-Ease peeking out at the bottom), which is another reason to be proud ~ I'm getting through some of the Stash! As Nature abhors a vacuum (I just abhor vacuuming), it's simple physics that the Stash will replenish itself. Like those tribbles on Star Trek; but you couldn't knit those or even milk them. Basically, useless bits of fluff. Anyway, this is only about 1/3 of the project done. The bag knits up in one piece that gets folded and sewn. I can't wait to see what happens next!

In the meantime, I'm staring deep down the barrel of the Christmas gun . . . again. Not one present has been purchased. In fact, neither Dirk nor I have a clue as to what we're going to get people. It's enough to get humanoid spawn out of the house in the morning without arguing over breakfast and clothing. There are only four more days left until school is out for the year as well. The kids have their lists written up though. No worries there except supply and demand. One is stapled together to create one two-foot long document. And the handwriting is uncharacteristically neat. I remember writing up my Christmas lists as a child ~ one page usually. I also walked to school up hill both ways and fended off a rabid squirrel with a looseleaf binder. That's what a one-page Christmas list story would sound like to our children. They can hardly comprehend that people didn't have TV, nevermind video games. At least, at the very least, I've completed the only Christmas knitting I intended to do ~ Dirk's grandmother's socks. Since a couple of years ago, I decided it would be easier to concentrate on one knitted gift for one person a year. That way if I choose to do something challenging, delicious and fantastic, I can really focus on the project and make it as best as I can. Now the socks came out alright. The only thing is that although I bought this Bernat Softee Chunky in Berry Red, somehow, the color isn't matching. The labels match, checked that whilst in Walmart, but the color is off. So the socks look a little bit funky. What's worse is that I didn't notice this fiber anomaly until grafting off the sock. Well, they'll still keep the tootsies warm. They'll certainly look homemade.

Must return to the continued dipping of more candles.

Thought for the Day: Ask not what your cat can do for you, but what can you do for your cat. Really. That's their attitude anyway.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bad Wool -- It's Not Just For Spinning Anymore!

There are times in a mother's life when she beams with pride and enthusiasm at the 4th Grade book report she helped her son make. This would be my moment in the sun. Ian needed to have a diorama of a natural disaster done by December 19. (Why aren't teachers aware of holiday knitting deadlines? Next year, I'm handing out pamphlets.) Ian made volcanoes as his disaster of choice. I immediately (and naturally) thought, "Great! I've got just the wool!" He needs to do the labeling and write-up on the piece ~ I don't think I could accurately forge his left-handed writing anyway ~ but the construction is done. Now, any other parents needing technical info last minute (and so they can get back to knitting with peace of mind), here they are:

A box that once contained New Snow Boots
Paint -- acrylic or tempra
Homemade papier mache (water, newspapers, white glue)
Candle and Crayons (stick w/ me, it gets better)
Gnarly Dark Wool (dude)

Once the box was found, Bennie and I set to shredding and boiling a fair amount of newspaper, watching carefully not to burn it. When the newspaper was pulpy enough, I strained the water out as best I could once cooled and added white glue (no measurement, just shoot for a decent consistency). I used the George Forman Grill drip pan to form the inside of the volcano laid face down on a cookie sheet and formed the mache over and around it. I let the form set over night and then popped the thing into the oven on very low temperature all day to dry. In the meantime, I prepped the box with background colors. When the volcano was dry, I sat with a candle and crayons (red and orange, of course) and carefully guided melted wax on the edges to make the lava. (Rather brought me back to my teenage days listening to Rush and burning candles in a Quianti bottle. Okay . . . I'm back now.) That finished product got hot-glued into place, followed by the faux-Corriedale to make the smoke plume. And that's how I made a diorama showing the dynamics of a Plinian Eruption. Ta Da!

Gee, do you think this will affect his grade? He's doing the writing . . .

And then . . .

Someone sent me these.

She knows who she is. (Bennie's and my socks included to show scale.) Since darning isn't a favorite pass time these days ~ not unless you're in a bar anyway ~ I've taken on the future task of knitting up another pair of socks for this fine fellow. Now, these aren't you're run-of-the-mill worsted weight Magic Loop socks. These babies were knit in fine sport weight yarn, love in every stitch, by his grandmother. I can only hope to match the quality and love put into the new pair. You just can't replace a pair of socks made by Grandmother.

You also may note a wee bottle in the pic. That's Moonkissed Mugwort. Worth every drop. It will be utilized to keep the nerves steady whilst knitting for Pregnant Paws. Check out the site (the link is at the side ~ unless someone moved it, which is always happening around here). And I got some funky earrings. I was wearing them during the shoot though.

And on that note, I shall make another empty promise to post the Fair Isle project. Ah, that Roadway to Hell and its pavement!

Thought for the Day: Look both ways before crossing or someone's karma will run over your dogma. I don't know what happens to your dharma.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Minding My Own Bees Wax

As we get closer to the Day of the Longest Night, my thoughts turn ever more inward (I think I'm somewhere near the corpus callosum ~ if it's Corpus Christi, then I really lost. Send out a posse.) Where was I? Oh yes . . . Since nights are getting longer I create ways that bring in more of the Light. I make candles. 100% Bees wax, nothing less, and hand-dipped. If you think about it, a flame is living light, like the sun. What better way to bring a piece of the sun into your home than with a candle? (I won't bore you with the safety precautions. We should all know what they are by now, but simply put, left unattended the Living Light may happily consume your home and its contents. Saves on the post-holiday clean-up, but it's hell on your underwear.) I've also read somewhere, the Grand Encyclopedia of Somewhere, that bees wax, in particular, is good for detoxing space. It must be that special hoodoo that bees do which clears the air. The scent is calming and homey. It makes me feel like learning how to be a beekeeper. Candles and honey! Mmmm. Bee stings and epi pens . . . I'll just buy my lump of bees wax annually at the fair. The thing is, I love to do this simple mindless stuff. All day, I dipped and knitted. I have no one's dead lines hovering over me. I don't have to be anywhere, but where I am. The kids are safe and busy, the chickenscatsrabbits are fed (the hamster is sleeping) and dinner is planned (hah! half the battle over). Life on my Little Farm is good. I'm hooked on some technology though ~ the hampster couldn't possibly run the wheel fast enough for me to log on to the internet. Although, I could rig something up with the spinning wheel . . .

Still working that Fair Isle. It's waiting patiently for me to finish the second sock for Dirk's grandmother. Photos next post, I promise. I was caught up in the candle making thing today.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Moo Shu Madness

Last night, I was in the company of some fine folk. Penelope (of local Knittingsmith Yarn Shop fame and ownership) said I could hang for the Knitter's Roundtable she has happening on two Thursdays a month (give or take depending on holidays and inclination). It was a pleasure to walk in at 6:00 pm to be greeted by the offer of Chinese food. Already, without knitting, these are my kind of people! I was introduced to Moo Shu Pork. It was an initiation of sorts as I was instructed on how to apply the Hoisin sauce (name eludes spelling properly at present) and then the Moo Shu to be wrapped in an uber-thin slip of pancake. And then, I was in Nirvana ~ just like that.

Of those that were there before me and then filtered in after me, I got to meet: Mary, Pat (she does yoga!), Audrey, Dr. Susie, Gayla and Linda. Conversation was fun and free. No story was ever really completed as queries were raised on how to deal with certain points of knitting, but that didn't matter. A new one would begin and it was just as good, just as necessary to be heard as the last one. Penelope had put together a pattern to make a cat or dog ornament simply: a square, a small rectangle, and an I-cord with the right amount of stuffing, pinching and sewing. Also going on needles were various hats. I worked on something mindless enough to enjoy new company, a pair of Magic Loop socks going to Dirk's grandmother staying in the Senior Citizens facility (one could hardly call it 'home'). After a quick quaff of Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon (the label was hilarious to read), it was suddenly 9:00 pm. With the threat of my coach turning back into a pumpkin, I decided I needed to get home and back to Real Life. (Actually I walked. It'll be the only thing I'll miss about living in village.) I left with both my glass slippers (no prince) and the heady realization that I'd been in a yarn shop for three (3) whole hours! Maybe it was the wine.

Due to the impending holidays, the next Roundtable will be in the second week of January. I'll be marking that Thursday on the calendar right now. Maybe we'll do Mexican.

Now the other thing I've got going on needles is a bit more involved. I don't know what possessed me, but I really wanted to try my hand at some Fair Isle. I decided to give it a whirl by way of a pattern from the Summer 2004 Knits, the Fair Isle Bag by Beth Brown-Reinsel. Naturally, I'm not using the colors indicated in the pattern, but my stash ~ so it's going to look a little funky, but I'm fine with that. It's the process not the product that matters to me right now. At present, I've somehow got more stitches than the pattern calls for. Rather than frogging and reducing, I'm winging it and working with it as is. I hope to get some sensible order going visually, and then I'll post pics of the progress.

It snowed. There was no school, no Brownie meeting. Obligations out of the way, we all went to see The Narnia Chronicles: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a stunning film. I kept a fibery eye out for knits. Lucy wore some nice cardigans, that was about it. I'm still on the hunt for Mrs. Weasley's bell-sleeved sweater as seen in The Chamber of Secrets. Alas, I may never find that pattern! Which rubs my nose further into the fact that waving a magic wand to get dishes and laundry done won't work. Not even a nose twitch. Ah, but I can knit, spin or paint! Then I don't remember that there's dishes or laundry to do (until I need underwear or a cup for tea).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tippy Toes

Bennie's socks as modified from Magic Loop instructions are done. I even had a little of that rainbow-colored angora/wool blend left over to make her some wristlets, but dipped if I can find them for the shoot. I did make sure to include the notes in my Knitting Knotebook. It hasn't seen much action since the blog. It's a little more tactile as I have bits of yarn glued to every other page showing what was used where. I doubt my family would appreciate my gluing yarn to the monitor for the same effect. Sometimes a reduction in the use of technology is a wise move.

The modified instructions are as follows:

Favorite worsted-weight wool
#4 circular knitting needles
Gauge be damned
Cast on 30 stitches instead of 44
Split the stitches for 15 st on both front and back needles in the Home Position
Knit in pattern to desired length (I think I went about 2 1/2 - 3 inches here)
Divide and repostion stitches for the heel flap: 16 st on front needle, 14 on the back. The 16 front stitches are the heel flap. Work that awhile in the stitch meant for a flap for about 2 inches. Do the heel turn. Then pick up 9 stitches for the instep and instep decrease. Follow the decrease rounds as instructed until back down to 30 stitches again. Knit in pattern and Stockinette for the sole until desired length (couldn't tell you how far; I gauged by Bennie's pinky toe ~ once it disappeared, I started doing . . .) The Toe Decrease. I kept the place markers in place from the instep decrease, so I did the toe decrease rounds based on these positions. I worked rounds 2 and 3 according to instruction until down to 18 stitches and then worked round 3 until down to 10, whereupon I grafted the toe off and handed it directly to my anxious daughter. She wore one sock for awhile until I got the other one done. I even had to rip out the toe decrease because I was under pressure and jumped the gun, thus making the sock too short for her foot.

Dirk's grandmother saw me knitting said pair of socks for Bennie and demurely indicated she'd like a pair, size 5. Dare I say I need to get yarn? Okay . . . I look through the stash first!