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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Attention, All Single Females
See this?

This here is a turf purse. It was a gift from me to my friend Alicia (not shown here). It also, according to said friend Alicia -- who is sadly going through a divorce and really does not want the attention -- is a man-magnet. According to Miss 'Lis:

I've had dozens of guys comment on it. In line at the store. At Panera. While I'm crossing the street. From passing cars. During business meetings (hi Mr. CEO).*

About all I can say is: who knew??

But if you have any friends who are SINGLE and actually WANT male attention. This is the purse!

Who knew, indeed? So, single-and-looking gals, to quote another friend: Go. Know.

* Alicia is in a creative profession. So no, it's not inappropriate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I was thinking the other day (Oh, good. Finally.) about how trite my blogginess seems sometimes.

- Musing on writing? Check.

- Cute (to me) pictures of my own animals? Check.

- Squeeing over personal hobby? Check.

- Miscellaneous ranting over relatively small things that irritate the snot out of me? Check.*

Good grief, why do I think this blog is any different from any other? And oh look - now we get the periodic post on bloggish relevance (#247 in your hit parade of bloggy cliches)! Now all I have to do is quote Ecclesiastes and say that there's nothing new under the sun and hang it up for the day.

Except I won't, of course. I've grown attached to this sort of quasi-exhibitionism. Quasi? Sure. There are plenty of subjects (some heavily blogged out there by other people, so there are fields of blog cliches that I don't plow) that I don't go near, but feel rather strongly about. Politics. Religion. Current tempests in the teacup called celebrity, including whether or not I feel a certain actor whose name rhymes with Bomb Snooze is certifiable.**

Why do I do it, though? (That's blog cliche #763, for those of you keeping track at home.) Shrug. I like it. I know there are people out there (most of them being people I already know) who enjoy it. It has, for me, become another way to look at stuff around me and think about communicating it to the greater world. I have a small circle of folks who seem to read on a regular basis, despite the random posting schedule. It may seem like a funny way of connecting to people, but it does seem to work. So I'll keep doing it, cute cats or no.

*Ask me about the neighbor kid who peed in our yard the other day. Go ahead. Ask me.

** ETA - correction. I could not, in fact, give a rodent's backside about the mental state of any celebrity. I may, however have an opinion on such a thing, despite the lack of emotional heat that opinion may generate in me

Sunday, April 23, 2006

WoT Pastorale No. 1
So, I had another yarn binge. I had, as an excuse, the Countryside Artisans' Studio Tour. Only 3 times a year: how I am I going to miss this? Yvonne and I set out in the pouring rain to Dancing Leaf Farm, where we were greeted by fierce yarn-protecting dogs (one yellow lab and one wiggly golden retriever, barking with complete lack of intent to guard). These hellhounds appeared to be particularly soothed by Yvonne's brand of Doc Doolittle scritchies, and pranced in her wake until we reached the studio door. Ah. The colors. The sheep out the back window. The yarn. Some seriously gorgeous stuff here. I... well, consistent with the Harlot's dictum, I bought sock yarn (which doesn't count as stash, don'cha know?). I also bought some roving. I'm still a complete zero at the concept of actual spinning, mind you, but I mean to learn, and I now have plenty of material for the day when I am ready to do more than gaze at the pretty top-like object in my office.

The rain turned seriously downpour-ish when we headed off to our next stop, Kiparoo Farms. I was dubious: the stuff on the website didn't really rev my motor, but I was willing. So, we trekked off to the back of beyond where Kiparoo calls home, and discovered a lovely studio with great yarn. As we were leaving, the sun was coming out, and the sheep had started to pose. Those lambs really know how to work a runway, let me tell you:

Sheep at Kiparoo Farm 4

Sheep at Kiparoo Farm 3

Sheep at Kiparoo Farm 2

We finished off our crafty binge with a stop at one of the artisans who also runs a garden center, and loaded up on herbs. By then, it was time to head home and introduce Yvonne to the joys of the swift and ball winder (I didn't mention, did I, that Yvonne is a crocheter who inherited her grandmother's knitting kit, did I? She's definitely turning over to the joys of the pointy sticks. According to Yvonne, those folks with the hooks don't so much go in for the nicer yarns, and therefore don't necessarily need the spinny gadgets so much. However, look at that grin. I think we've spoiled her forever for Michael's):

Yvonne discovers the joy of the swift and ball-winder.

And me, what did I get? Oh, this and that. I hear socks are really in this year.

Countryside artisans haul

Oh - and MacIntosh agrees with me. The roving? It smells like sheep.

Tosh liks sheepy-smelling roving

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ehrm... I think I lost my mind a little last night in the LYS' yarn sale.

Exhibit 1 (we're starting small, to ease you in gently): Some Noro Silk garden for beanies, intended for heads of various family members (who don't, as far as I know, read the blog, so this is secret knitting - shhh. Don't tell).

Silk garden beanies

Exhibit 2: A needle case - if one buys a lovely needle case, can needle organization be far behind? Stay tuned.

Needle case

Exhibit 3: Some alpaca silk for the Lara sweater. No, the color isn't this orange. It's more of a light terra-cotta. I shall be as a soft, slightly fuzzy plant-pot.


Exhibit 4: Some yarn for the hourglass sweater I have coveted in this book. (Yes, Marie - I bought lots extra. Perhaps too much, if that is possible).


Finally, Dash's response:

Dash is made aghast by yarn

Dang, woman: is that all for me??? (No, you sick little cat-monkey, and if you go after my yarn again as you did last evening, you shall be banned from my office).

*Let it be known that, to date, I have never made a single sweater for myself. Never.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lara's Theme
Okay, one of my co-favorite LYS's is having a yarn sale. Among other things, discounted Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk. Lara is calling to me.

I tried a sample of Lara on once - even in a too-small size, I could tell this was a cardi I could love. Others have loved her before me, but it's okay if Lara's a bit of a ho.

I really think we're right for one another.

Who's in for enabling me today?

Monday, April 17, 2006

We had a nice Easter weekend - spent the first part of Saturday cleaning the house (I hatehatehate housecleaning), doesn't that sound nice? And a lovely Sunday - John went for a bike ride (and came back claiming he was about to barf from out-of-shapeness: isn't that nice?), I made two loaves of ciabatta, we got cleaned up and went over to friend Mel's for Easter dinner.

I've gotten back in the habit of carrying my knitting with me everywhere I go (except to work, because I don't want to be fired for knitting):

Knitting bag

Yep, John's heavy woolen cabled cardie is put away for the summer. That's my new clapotis (cotton and rayon) and the beginnings of a very tall sock for John to wear inside his waders. So far, I am a wee bit slow on size 1 needles. These may be lengthy socks as well as long ones.

When we got to Mel's, lovely Theodore was guarding the dinner table:

Theodore the lizard in his natural habitat

We gave Theodore to Mel for Christmas, so it is nice to see he is making himself useful. From the empty condition of the glass he was lolling in, he may well have been drunk as a newt, too - not a nice condition for a big, handsome lizard to get himself into.

I don't usually write disjointed blog posts on purpose, but this one will just have to be that way. Too tired to be coherent or amusing (or even write in complete sentences, it seems).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Stories Galore
Go now and look at my stepbrother Brian's flash slideshow on his homepage. Ignore the mysterious couple in the first shot (except to note that they are preternaturally cute, even from behind). Look at the successive photographs. Don't they just start spinning stories in your head? Yes, weddings are beginnings, and beginnings are places to begin stories, but there's something about the moments he catches - the rough texture of a plaster wall, the concentration required to don a formal Asian costume, the unguarded joy on a groom's face: they just seem to make the whole story-telling part of the brain start to spin up.

I just love that.

I've also become well and thoroughly frustrated with my point-and-shoot and asked him if'n I can be on his list of folks who can buy a hand-me-down digital SLR when he upgrades. He said yes. He's a nice brother that way (and in lots of other ways as well).

Friday, April 14, 2006

My best friend's boss is the regional director of this fine organization. Brilliant.

Resistance is Futile…
Yes, my evil plan to assimilate my old friend into the embrace of the KnitBorg is working. He seems thrilled with La Harlot’s book, so much so that he is getting it signed when she goes to Cambridge later this month. I am thrilled for him and jealous of him in equal measure.

I am also sharing (with permission) a recent interchange via e-mail concerning stash, the acquisition of unsweetened Kool-Aid packets and, of course, socks. Blue is for boy, green is for envious-of-Harlot-signature girl:

On Sunday, I finished another hat I was working on for [son], but felt like starting a pair of socks rather than doing the seam on the hat. So far I've done about an inch of rib knit that looks like it's about the right circumferance… it's not twisted, and the stitches are even enough for my tastes. Speaking of taste, something possessed me to choose da-glo orange acrylic yarn. Just wanted to make it as enjoyable as possible, no heirloom potential whatever.

Hah!  Project abandonment (and for another, more enticing project, no less).  You’re doomed.  Thee shall knit forever.

My socks shall increaseth like unto the grains of sand. I have wool to knit that thou knowest not of. In my father's house are many skeins.

Also on Sunday: [daughter] and I discovered that Star Market no longer carries Kool-Aid in packets! Nothing but cannisters of sweetened Kool-Aid. Bummer!

Way bummer.  Want me to keep my eyes open and see if I see any on my journeys?  Or are you going another way?

I did a search on kraftfoods.com in the Kool-Aid recipes for "unsweetened" and found a slew of recipes that call for envelopes of unsweetened, so they're still making it. We're just not making a lot of "graduation cup-caps" here in Boston.

Just before New Year's Day I had a fit of nostalgia for Boone's Farm Strawberry "Wine" and on impulse drove over to the seediest part of Somerville (Washington St. by the highway) and sure enough, they had 5 flavors of Boone's Farm. I got one of each. The proprietor said not to bother with inviting him over. He had a small picture of Jesus on the shelf behind the counter in which He looked like a total bad-ass. Vendetta Jesus.

Likewise, I'm thinking that unsweetened Kool-Aid is going to be one of those things that's only found in places where people still serve Jello with mini-marshmallows (not that there's anything wrong with that). I might run it by my sister in Tennessee. A call is long overdue.

Vendetta Jesus, Boone's Farm, graduation caps, and stash. I love it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

“How not-boring can knitting get?”
This quote (re: the construction of socks) came from my old friend who took up knitting for his daughter’s sake and is now well and truly hosed hooked.  Despite having just taken up the craft, as an artist (and a cabinetmaker) he sees the “yarn + two sticks = infinity” equation with the wonder and fascination of our most fervent adherents to the craft.  Because, when given room to, I become a goofy evangelist on any subject I have enthusiasm for (also including but not limited to: pets, Yoga, the novels of Jane Austen, Farscape, wine, close harmony, geraniums, Dyson vacuum cleaners, the color green, and the music of James Taylor*), I have stepped in as his enabler.  Big time.
He doesn’t seem to mind yet, but it’s probably helpful that we no longer work in the same office (or the same state).  E-mails have flown back and forth on subjects both small (the weaving in of ends and how to do same) and large (dyeing a boring, white knitted object).  Days can pass without hearing from one another, then a sudden flurry of information transits the ether, complete with warnings (such as the danger of losing an entire work day to the manifold charms of Knitty).  Comparing myself as I do to my knitting sensei Marie, I am sometimes surprised at how much I know, and I’m tickled to be one of his resources. 
I have really done it now, though.  I have sent him a wee gift.  I think it will dissolve him into the embrace of the KnitBorg forever.
In other news, I have started my Christmas knitting.  That sounds so organized, I think I even hate myself.
* I will contemplate what that list says about me later.  Or never.  Whichever comes second.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Intersection of John's Interests and Mine
A bike used to herd sheep - The Mutton Master! (podcast link)

Here's a text story with photo.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Socks and Violins
On their way to my mother: one pair of handknit socks and The Wailin' Jennys "40 Days."

Completed socks

It was quite the weekend, what with two dinners out, and one dinner party at our house that started out with a total dining contingent of nine and then ended up being 12 who finally sat down. I may not play our piano very often, but the bench got some use on Sunday for some poor diner who arrived late. There are more than a few blurry pictures of this event which I don't have time to go through, but suffice it to say that raclette is a very elastic dinner plan, especially when you have borrowed two extra grills. However, this plan also means you must ensure you have enough extension cords to put each machine on a separate circuit, otherwise you will have lightly warmed shrimp and nonmelted cheese. Which really isn't the point.

Socks Therapy
The socks displayed in my previous post were completed in a bit of concerted effort last night.  Generally speaking, my weeknight knitting tends to be of the desultory sort: a couple of rows here, a tink or five there, all preceded by an embarrassingly long period of staring at the work in question in order to figure out what I was doing last time I picked the project up (the better to avoid frogging the entire evening’s output when I realize what a colossally chuckleheaded move it is to just dive in without re-consulting the pattern and re-measuring the current length).
But last evening I sat and knitted with a concerted fervor.  It was our annual Home Owners’ Association meeting, and if the HOA meeting needs anything, it is a distraction from 90% of the actual content of the HOA meeting.  (The first rule of HOA – don’t pay attention to HOA).
Normally, I ignore the HOA meeting so much that it actually goes by without my attendance.  Yes, I am a bad HOA citizen.  No, I don’t think that my virulent allergy to lengthy meetings which mostly consist of spontaneous, repetitious rants by individuals who generally get no platform for their particular grievance except for the annual HOA would be materially cured by an increased exposure to same.  Nor do I figure my hotheaded impatience with this sort of quasi-civic tomfoolery will help anyone else.  I rationalize my nonattendance as part of an arrangement that benefits all parties.  This year, however, John insisted upon my attendance, since we had an item officially on the agenda: the massive, non-indigenous white pine trees the developer helpfully planted on common property next to our house and other houses in the cul-de-sac 20 years ago which are now the size of dinosaurs and are similarly doomed.  We’d sort of prefer that their doom be something that happens on a schedule, with a chainsaw, rather than unscheduled and on top of our house. 
So, I picked up my sock before leaving the house and sat in the meeting, knitting furiously.  I knit through the lengthy introduction of board members.  I knit through the somewhat rambling agenda.  I paused in my knitting to swiftly second the motion that we accept the four people running for four vacant board seats by acclamation rather than by a vote (who knew that my exposure to Roberts’ [Bloody] Rules of Order in high school would ever come in handy?  Certainly not I at 16).  I knit (faster, and with a certain amount of eyerolling that caused John a measure of concern) through a neighbor’s rants and rambles about what he thought the county should be paying for (everything) and his muzziness on the concept of “easement” (confusion I have had occasion to learn about in ugly, firsthand fashion when he decided he didn’t like the cable company utilizing its tiny example on his postage-stamp yard and demonstrated his irritation by ripping out the cable that services the rest of the block, including our house, and then threatened the cable technician who came to repair it with bodily harm).  They talk about knitting as therapy, but in this case it also worked as prophylaxis.
By the end of the meeting, I was about ten rows of rapidly decreasing size and one episode of relearning the Kitchener Stitch from a sock.  And I hadn’t killed anyone.  Not a complete waste of time.