A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a special princess, born on an autumn island, swirling with leaves of gold, amber, and ruby. Her parents, the king and queen, loved her very much (of course they did – this is that kind of story). They watched over the princess, as all parents do, but their royalty lent them charms to give her extra protection.

The queen sent her tigers to patrol the island. Pad, pad, pad, around they went, leaving clear pawprints in the sand.

The king stirred the water around the island, sending waves lapping to the edge of where the tigers stalked.

The princess also had an aunt who loved her. The aunt knew that one day the princess would grow up and leave this protected island of autumn leaves, with its fierce tigers and rippling water. So the aunt knit her a magic shawl, stitching the special magics of the king and queen into the fabric. A drift of falling leaves was surrounded by the imprint of tiger feet and curling waves.

This shawl would be able to follow the princess out into the wider world, bringing with it the special charms of the king and queen. And whenever the princess saw it, she would remember the sound of the rustling leaves, the padding of tiger feet, and the gentle rush of ocean water.

Christening shawl

To get to Omega, it helps to have Alpha

I was chatting with my mom the other night about simple tasks and the fine line between appealing simplicity and tedium.  I think no matter how dynamic a person may be, they will enjoy a pursuit that someone else would label, “Warning: this task is so dull it could put a Buddhist monk to sleep.”  Sometimes, the line between the tedious pursuit and the enjoyable one can be so seemingly arbitrary that it baffles.  For instance: I hate hand-sewing woven fabric.  I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, it bores me to tears.  But I will sit and painstakingly stitch a knitted garment together, or kitchener two pieces of lace into a single unit without a shred of boredom.  It sends me to a meditative place, alpha waves radiating happily off of my brain until I reach completion.

What is the difference that makes plying a needle so different from… plying a needle?  Beats me.  What I do know is that my usual stimulus-seeking, “are we there yet?” personality is somehow calmed and soothed by finishing or blocking a piece of knitwear.  Similar to walking a meditation labyrinth, the measured pace of these simple activities calms and focuses the mind.  Given that I am so often so intent on zipping through, getting to the end, getting things DONE and behind me, it’s reassuring that I have a calmer side.

One blue thing deserves another

At long last, I have finished the “Print o’ the Wave.”

I blocked it carefully (isn’t my blocking board attractive?  Portrait of lace project on trash bag on guest bed…”)

Print o' the Wave

I waited patiently.  (Okay, I visited it a few times throughout yesterday).  I unpinned it this morning.  It was very cool to the touch in the chill morning air.

Print o' the Wave - finished

I’m so happy with it, I went ahead and cast on another blue thing…

John's new sweater

Another cure for design woes

Ignore your own process (or lack thereof) and obsess over someone else’s perfect design.

Seriously – does Hanne Falkenberg know she designed the world’s most perfect sweater jacket for me? The woman’s got my number. It’s a lovely colorway, so deceptively simple, structured yet easy, and….

…And I really, really want one of those kits. Santa? I’ve been pretty good this year…

Design Process

I have discovered that I design the way I write. An idea percolates up, there is a small burst of mental activity. This mental burst may be accompanied by a corresponding activity, or it may just add to a picture of the finished product. Notes may or may not be taken. Brain may be cursed at for deciding notes need not be taken.

Basically, there’s no real “process” at all.

Currently, I have a sweater in mind. It should fulfill the same functions as a sweatshirt – a go-to garment for a chilly day – but the design should be more flattering. Casual, but not too sloppy. Yarn should be soft, but reasonably hard-wearing. Comfy. A color that is somewhat complementary to the usual colors I wear. Collar, cuffs and hem in a slightly unusual stitch to add interest, but lying flat and producing no (or not much) extra bulk. Some ease, not too much. Slightly fitted at the waist.

When I visited New York with my mom, I went down to School Products and bought an enormous cone of their (in)famous cashmere/merino. As advertised, knitted off the cone it was sort of sticky and industrial.

After a couple of washings, it bloomed and blossomed and is generally yummy.

I also swatched for edgings – the one on the right is the winner.

Design swatches

Now I just need to finish my “Print o’ the Wave” stole before I launch headlong into this… That’s pretty much the only process here. Otherwise, it’s just swatch, measure, and jump.

Warning: Cat AND Knitting Content Below.

Milo continues his streak as a wee charmer.  He’s cuddly as all get out, has an endearing “squeak” instead of a meow, and keeps us laughing with his playful antics.  All around, a good cat.  We’ll keep him.

He also (so far) is more interested in lounging in knitting bags than grabbing yarn with teeth and claws.  I consider this a good thing.

More bag nesting

Last night, he brought his cuddliness to a whole new level, though.  As I sat knitting the edging on to my “Print o’ the Wave” stole, he decided to investigate.

Je vous presente - Milo et le soie de la mer!

No, he wasn’t biting yarn or cable of needle (at least not much, and he could be gently dissuaded from continuing when he did), but he did decide that Sea Silk was his nest of choice (I gotta hand it to the cat – he’s got good taste in yarn):

Hmmmm.   Seasilk!

Soft paws working busily (he snagged not one stitch), he purred and delved until I was helpless with laughter:

Milo dives into the Print o' the Wave Stole

At this rate, I’m NEVER going to finish the edging!

Dear Ms. T:

Ms. Jill S, late of North P______, MD, currently of South Dimwittery, tenderly made the sweater pictured within. She crafted it with all deliberate speed, congratulating herself on the fact that she finished in plenty of time to post it northwards to be there for the party at your parents’ home. She did not count on a severe case of Whatdayisit, onset of symptoms coinciding with the beginning of the reasonable window for wrapping, taking to Post Office, and mailing said item.

Upon realizing that this unfortunate attack had put her outside the window for posting said gift, she has granted Power of Attorney to Ms. Carole S, late of H____, NH, currently of East Savetheday to somewhat remedy the situation by delivering this missive.

Ms. S should be back in North P______ as soon as she has finished applying her forehead to solid objects with some degree of force (this may take some time, as there are many inviting objects to be put to this purpose in South Dimwittery). The item in question is also in North P______, from whence it may shortly be delivered to your home in V_____, VA for keeping baby warm.

Much love, Jill S

(Transcribed by Wince N. Dolt, M.D., Les Dullards Infirmary, South Dimwittery)


Stop me before I macro again.

There’s a group on Ravelry that has devoted itself to lolcat macros (of course there is – let’s not even pretend to be surprised, shall we?).

For some reason, this has gotten me digging into the flickr files. And then, I have to share with you. It’s a bad cycle, but I am helpless in the lolcat thrall.

Simon’s up first:

Simon and zee clapotis

(See first paragraph of this for explanation of caption)

Then Dash:

Dash - LOL

Finally, Milo:


…but we can’t forget the dog, can we?

The dog gets in on the act

I promise not to inflict these on you again. Kthanxbai.

A Faux FO?

So, there have been finished objects Chez Writingortyping.  It’s not just cute kittens and yoga around here.

One almost-FO is the front door.  A few weeks ago, John bought a screen/storm door whose packaging promised that it would install in six easy steps.  Um…  Yeah.  Right.  More like seventeen million not-so-easy steps, too many hours, actual rebuilding (or adding on to) the door frame, and adding a few choice words to his blue-talking wife’s rather extensive vocabulary.  The door only lacks a few elements: hydraulic closers, a few bits and bobs – nothing to get excited about.  It fits, it closes, it latches, it does not cause John to make odd explosive noises.  It does not require me to get up from my knitting and cling to it in a manner uncomfortably reminiscent of a tree frog in a hurricane while John mutters and wields his mighty electric drill/screwdriver.  I have hopes that I shall have no more mashed fingers in its uncaring jaws.  It is, for all intents and purposes, a real FO.  This is productive of much happiness.

Another FO has actually been such for a while.  I bought a lace stole kit at Stitches back in the spring.  It seemed like a simple pattern (and it was – but not one that lent itself to “reading”).  It kept me busy in front of undemanding tv, on airplanes, etc.  It was semi-abandoned and picked up a few times.  It may well be my go-to scarf for this winter, as it is light, warm, and versatile.  I’m rather pleased with it.


The very simplicity of it was what made it difficult – there was no organic beginning and ending to latch on to: no point at which I said, “Oh, here -this- begins (or ends).”  But it is lovely and I am pleased.


Some progress, some things exactly as they were

Progress – A “Pea Pod Baby Set” for Maria’s baby, with blue ladybugs marching up the button placket. First, as modeled by Mona (Lisa):

Mona lisa models pea pod set

Second, a more “serious” wide shot:

Pea pod baby set - complete

Third, channeling my inner brooklyntweed on the buttons and lace placket:

Button closeup

(Yarn: Dale Baby Ull, 2.5 skeins, color: 9436. Size 3 addi turbo needles. Blue ladybug buttons bought at Woolwinders. Pattern: Kate Gilbert’s “Pea Pod Baby Set.” Size: largest, but Baby Ull is lighter than the yarn called for in the pattern, so size is sort of small, toddlerish).

And for the thing that is exactly the same (in a manner of speaking), Milo, though bigger, is still very, very cute.

Yep.  still cute.

Yep.  still cute.

Yep.  still cute.