Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 PM  

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Monday, March 31, 2003  

Well. Humph. I don't have any idea where the archives from March 10 through 23 are. And so that just may mean the photos of Flidais will dissappear from view (though not from the blog. go figure).

And we had SNOW!! yesterday. It didn't stick, but it fell. In fact, something wet fell all day so it was an indoor day. I have a bobbin full of spun Wensleydale which I worked up last January. On the wheel is another bobbin, mostly full of the stuff. This yarn is intended to be a shawl - let us see if I get there - and I want it done before the month is over - spun and knit. So I thought I'd try knitting it up as a single just to see what it looks like. Well. Veeee-ry intair-esting.

I tried first with a size 8 needle and then switched to a 10. Used a very open lace pattern. My main concern was torque. I don't want the shawl to twist once it's knit. And I think the singles are probably a little over spun to knit as a single. Back in January when I began spinning this, I made a 2-ply control yarn that I really like. To get the look i wanted, I had to put a good bit of twist in this long staple yarn. It doesn't really require a lot of twist - you could spin it soft because it is so very long and with almost no crimp. I've heard Wensleydale called the poor man's mohair. I'm sure that is an old designation, though it does resemble mohair a lot. I have also seen Wensleydale yarn listed as a rare breed in Interweave Press' book Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools. (scroll down the page a bit-it's on the right, near the bottom) Anyway, this wool does produce enough halo that you can knit it very loosely on quite big needles and still have a beautiful fabric. It cries out to be lacy.

So - I thought I'd try just knitting a little of the single and see what I got. Well - I was sort of hoping I would get something that twisted so I would know I had to go finish that second bobbin and ply the stuff. Instead, it seems to be staying nice and flat. But what I don't like is that the color - a shiny navy blue with some bright colors blended in, seems dull. The 2-ply control sample also looks shinier than the single so I think it needs that tighter twist to get the sheen. sigh. so I am spinning up the second bobbin.

This is not so much a plaint about having to spin more than I want to. I love spinning. It is more that I am afraid the second bobbin full, spun 2 months after the first, won't be a good match. Although I've been measuring the single and am getting pretty much the same WPI, I just feel like this bobbin has a different yarn on it from the first. I'm just not experienced enough to tell if I'm doing the same thing on the second bobbin. Ahh well. There you have it. It is, after all, handspun. I should celebrate the differences, right?

BTW, Interweave Press is having a clearance sale of slightly damaged items. Don't know how much is left, but worth a look.

Today is the Lord's birthay and everything will be done to celerate him. No idea what we're going to do, so it will be a bit of a surprise for me too. I love birthdays!

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


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Sunday, March 30, 2003  

Thank you all for the lovely compliments on Flidais. It looks like the weather will cooperate and I'll get to wear her tomorrow. 48 - yep yep that's still sweater weather. She's not terribly hot either - a washable wool in dk weight would about describe her.

I'm not inspired, yet, though, to knit anything new. This doesn't mean I am not knitting - I still have socks on needles and Sigvaldi too. That class meets on Tuesday so I hope we'll be joining sleeves to body and start knitting the yoke. I've gotten my hands on Jean Frost's book of jacket patterns. It's very very lovely. I'm glad XRX made a book out of her designs. Her workshop on knitting jackets has been offered at various Stitches events and it's always been one of my top picks in my imaginary schedule. I am sure one of these days I'll have the $ to actually attend a Stitches, but who knows if she'll be teaching that class.

Here is an interesting thing about those designs. They are all (or at least mostly) knit flat, with sewn in sleeves and tailoring details. Now - I prefer to knit in the round and I even think a number of these designs can be done in the round - but for some reason I can imagine myself knitting these flat. why is this? What prejudice do I have that allows me to consider knitting flat pieces (back and forth back and forth ) when I would never be tempted to knit a sweater flat. What is in the word Sweater that makes me insist upon circular construction. what is in the word Jacket that has me willing to do flat knitting? Is it my sewing background? Is it because the jackets are knit up in textured stitches so that both front and back are equally complicated? hmm.

Anyway - the question is moot - I probably won't be knitting any other sweaters till it gets cool again in the fall. And right now I'm still in the winddown period after figuring out circular set in sleeves.

posted by Bess | 7:44 AM


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Friday, March 28, 2003  

Dear Kenneth and friends. Here are two other photos of Flidais that tried to show the central cable. Neither photo came at very well, but they may give some idea of the cable.

Here is where the center cable pattern bumps into the collar:

Here it is at the hem and going up the front:

posted by Bess | 11:13 AM


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"The "F" word. I'll tell you the "F" word. It's "FAMILY"!

A favorite quote from a favorite colorful character. I have been wondering when I could use it and was sure it would be when color flowed from my kith&kin but it is the other side of this union that is making the skyline glow this week. ehh. well. We love them for we are them. the family.

Even less knitting news today. It is DH's birthday weekend and we are toodling off in the car. I'll have socks to knit on, for sure, and probably something else - maybe a big swatch. And I'll take the silk and see if I can make that evening purse. How nice that his BD comes so close to payday. wonder if we'll find any yarn stores......

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM


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Thursday, March 27, 2003  

For Love of a Swatch

Not much news on the knitting front. I have a small skein of handpainted silk in easter colors (lavender, green and yellow) that I am knitting with. It is the perfect fiber to make an evening purse that I think would go well with dress-up summer clothes. 'course unless someone I know throws a wedding I'm not likely to need an evening bag, but... I can invision this silk used this way and since there is just enough (about 135 yds) to make the purse, I will do so. At first I thought I would make it in plain stockinette stitch but for some reason I began swatching in a wicker stitch from the BW afghan book. Once again I am reminded of the delights and rewards of swatching.

What this particular swatch is teaching me:

1. I love the sensual pleasure of knitting with thick, softly spun silk
2. The size 9 needle is the perfect size for this stitch - but probably too big for stockinette stitch
3. The stitch is textured and the handpaint yarn knitted in this texture stitch looks extremely casual. It would make the perfect summer top. I wish I had spun a lot more of this yarn and when I order handpainted silk roving again, I will be sure I get enough to make a garment with it.
4. I will definitely not get a dressy looking bag with this stitch
5. The sheen of the silk dissappears in textured knitting
6. The handpaint colors look great in this textured stitch
7. I don't want a bag in this stitch but while I've got the yarn on needles I'll experiment with and maybe seed stitch.

That's a lot to learn from 30 minutes of knitting. You just never know what you'll get when you put yarn on needles. viva la swatch!

I'm slowly but surely getting the May garden tour built. Probably post next week.

I'm interestingly watching the furor over the Charlotte Observer oped - not quite interested enough to actually read the thing, mind you. As I commented on Fervid, I subscribe to the Zaphod Beeblebrox philosophy, expressed so well when he exited the Total PerspectiveVortex Machine - "Just what I thought. I'm a pretty neat guy." I don't really care what somebody else has to say about what I do - so long as nobody tries to stop me doing what I want.

posted by Bess | 7:59 AM


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Wednesday, March 26, 2003  

Pronunciation Update

Flidais (Stag-Mistress)
(pron. FLEE-daws)
Irish goddess of the wilderness. She roams the earth in a chariot drawn by supernatural deer. Her cow can give milk to three hundred people. She has immense sexual power.

I really like that last bit. Heh heh heh. It’s nice to know there’s still a little spark around here.

Fleedaws. Yep. That sounds Celtic.

posted by Bess | 5:01 PM


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Took Flidais to work with me yesterday and showed her off. I had two precious knitterly friends who I knew would want to see her - as well as co-workers who have had to listen to me yammer about my struggles - and a couple of other creative artistic friends who happened to wander in. In all her glory she glittered and glowed and preened for everybody. The big joke for me is, of course, how proud I am of the shoulders and yet - how nobody even looks at them (except the two knitterly friends) and instead how everybody's eyes are drawn to that Hollow Oak cable. Well, so was I. It is really a stunning pattern. It doesn't surprise me that people can't stop staring at it. But those who've followed my quest know that the true miracle is figuring out the engineering of those shoulders.

In fact - my final goal with this sweater is to find a way to express in plain English - to others - just exactly how I did this. I know I can do it again, I completely understand what I did at some elemental cellular level, but I can’t put it into clear concise straightforward comprehensible language. When I can do that I will have fulfilled all desires this sweater engendered in me.

I haven't started anything new yet - still sort of in a daze. I also haven't worn her yet. It's turned warm, of course, but I think there is something so new about her that I am not really tempted to put her on. It got me to thinking how long it takes others to wear something new. Back when I sewed all my own clothes I often wore things I made before they were even finished. Lord knows how many skirts I wore to work held closed at the waistband with a safety pin. But frequently I will leave a knitted thing on display for a week or two before I can wear it. There is a combination of awe and shyness that I feel with newly knitted things. Perhaps I felt that way with my sewing but there have just been so many hundreds of sewn garments since I felt that way I don't remember.

Well - next week it's calling for 50's and rain and I may wear her then...though she is a very autumnal colored thing and after all, next week will be April!!


They are so precious. They are also such unique identifiers. Once when I was leafing through a book of knitting tricks, a compilation of articles from Threads Magazine, I stumbled upon a photograph of knitting hands. "These look like Meg Swansen's hands" I thought - and then checked the author of the article - it was she - knitting her i-cord gloves. And while digging around in the photo bin I came across this shot of Souvenir de Malmaison, with my beloved niece, Rachel, reaching out towards it. I would recognize those hands anywhere. What a beautiful identifier. I’ll move this on over to the May garden page when I have it ready to post but I am feeling a little rose-and-Rachel-starved these days so I’ll just share it here for now.

posted by Bess | 5:51 AM


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Tuesday, March 25, 2003  


Here are two overview shots.

Details of the infamous shoulders. This first picture shows the slope of the shoulder and my doesn't the 3-needle bind-off look tidy? There are actually 5 pair of short rows, two stitches apart on this shoulder. For some reason, on the other shoulder there were only 4 pair.

Here's the same shoulder with a bit of the collar, showing the complete line from sleeve to collar. I hope you can also see the i-cord detail.

Let's hope this shot shows you how the decreases first eat up the body and then change direction and begin eating up the sleeve.

The cuff - aiming for a baroque bracelet look.

And a final photo of it upright.

posted by Bess | 2:54 PM


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Monday, March 24, 2003  

Sketches from the weekend

Bess scuplts with wool.

Bess does the Happy Dance

Bess asks the question "What next?"

posted by Bess | 11:09 AM


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I crept back downstairs this morning, wondering if I had dreamed everything or if Flidais was really finished. Guess what. She is. And she is beautiful. (says proud mama) This sweater was my first all-by-myself-design. I had this huge pile of some discontinued yarn in gold with flecks of red, turquoise, and green bits that just looked like antique gold. When I swatched it I cast on enough to make a hat and then experimented with all sorts of stitches. Cables looked great in this yarn, and a surprise to me was how pretty this slubbed yarn looked in st. st. - usually slubbed yarn looks better on the lumpy side - the reverse - or in seed stitch. This one looked best on the with thick texture, like cables, rising from the surface. I had long ago fallen in love with the hollow oak cable and was thrilled to see the directions in Barbara Walker's second treasure of knitting. I also like to wear cuff bracelets, and I came up with the idea of ending a sweater in a highly textured cuff. Well - there was a design. I began knitting on this baby in late January of 02 while taking care of my parents while Daddy had his knee replaced. I remember knitting on the sleeve while leaning against the wall at a doctor's office and attracting lots of attention.

The sweater zipped along very quickly. I started with the sleeves and was glad to get them done first. The whole thing took, perhaps, 6 weeks to get to the point where I had to figure out the chest and shoulders. All along I knew I wanted set in sleeves and I also didn’t know if I could figure out how to do them. I e-mailed Meg Swansen and got a lovely answer, but it still didn’t quite tell me how to work the very last bit at the top where you have to fit neckline and shoulders. By then I’d started something else that was easy to knit, and then I got sick and then it was hot weather and then I just remembered that I didn’t know how to finish the darn thing and I just ignored the poor baby for .. well - nigh on to a year. and therein was an important lesson for me to remember.


At the very least, I will write a detailed description of where I am, how I got there and where I hope to be going with a project if I’m going to abandon it for a while. Mind, now, I approve of setting things aside, letting them “cook” - but this was more like shoving it to the back of the refrigerator - it was becoming moldy. anyway, the second stage of knitting this baby has all been shared here on the blog so I need not repeat myself.

Flidais is still a little damp. The house is on the cool side because we heat with wood and in the spring sometimes we just let the fires go out and wear sweaters. Especially on sunny days like yesterday where the outside temperature is warmer than the inside. And there is no film in the camera either. I’m debating taking her to work with me, buying some film and photographing her today or waiting till tomorrow when I know she’ll be dry. Either way, photos will be up soon. And in the mean time I’ll post this weekend’s sketches once I get to the scanner.

BTW. I did get preliminary work done on the taxes and balanced the checkbook - (which is mostly empty now) but I didn’t do anything but shop for the garden. Why is that always the easiest part of gardening?

posted by Bess | 6:46 AM


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Sunday, March 23, 2003  


As I write this Flidais is drying on a pad of towells on the dining room table. miles and miles of i-cord completed. Every precious tail woven and snipped. All the crud a UFO accumulates over a year of being stuffed into baskets, hidden beneath tables, generally shoved out of sight, has been washed away. The slight hump that still distorted the shoulders has been blocked away. Happy hands have sculpted the fabric smooth, plucked the bobbles back to attention, carefully teased the collar into a lovely oval.

And I am doing the Happy Dance.

posted by Bess | 5:11 PM


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The shoulders are done. The neck band is done. One underarm seam is knitchered together. I’ve tried it on and it fits - and looks good! This is looking more and more like a finished sweater. So at the risk of jinxing things I have selected a name. She shall be called Flidais after the Irish goddess of forests, wild creatures. A shapeshifting goddess who rode in a deer-drawn chariot. She ceratinly has shifted shapes enough as I’ve worked on her. Besides, my Grandmother was Irish. I’m not sure how to pronounce her name- these celtic pronunciations are always such a surprise to my latin trained ear, but I don’t plan to actually speak the word that often, anyway. But if anybody out there knows how to pronounce this word, do do please share.

There is still a good bit of applied i-cord to do as well as another underarm seam to kitchner stitch together. Now - I must rant a bit about the K-stitch. It is a miracle of engineering. It is beautiful. It is subtle. and it is the gosh darn hardest thing I ever have to do in knitting. Why, I don’t know, but I can get off on that thing even as I am looking at what I’m doing and counting along whispering “Slip as if to knit, purl, slip as if to purl, knit.” I can hear Meg Swansen chanting behind my ear and I can still screw up - before my very eyes!

And I screwed up a bit on it last night but the error doesn’t show till you get to the last bit and it’s in the back and anybody who is close enough to me to see that error had better be a lover.

There are lots of ends to weave in too, but that is my third favorite part of knitting. Second most favorite is the blocking - both because the thing is done and because I love the sensation of sculpting wool that blocking gives me. I completely soak my knits, run them through the spin cycle of my washer and then lay them out flat to dry. In this springlike weather Flidais ought to dry quickly. Prime favorite is of course, casting on. What else, for a NewBeginningsENFP sorta girl? So really, there is nothing but fun left to do.

And by gum - I will find a digital camera and photograph this baby because you all deserve to see her.

posted by Bess | 6:41 AM


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Saturday, March 22, 2003  

I spent all of yesterday clearing off my desk at work. Filled the entire trash can and left what are merely identifiable piles of WorkToDo instead of MysteryHeaps. For decades I shared an office (HA! cubbyhole) with everybody else and when we moved into the new building I had 3 sets of file drawers and a desk with its own little compartments and hidyholes. Only, I don’t know how to use them, so there are heaps on the surfaces of everything and 2 empty drawers.

Mind you now, I know the theory of TouchThePaperOnlyOnce, but I’ve never been able to put it into practice. Anybody who’s knitting projects, wool, yarn and spinning wheel talk to her is going to have deeply personal, if, at times, completely worthless, relationships with all her stuff, not just the worthy. Even when she knows that, if she throws it away and it’s important, someone will complain and she can ask them to send her a copy. (and Bess slides into thinking of herself in the third person)

Lord so this is how the mind works - I go from that aside to thinking about puppets as alternate selves and the whole issue of placing self out for public comment and presenting aspects of self to the world and that segues neatly into a question being discussed on Clara’s Window about the blog’s fading bloom. Prompted of course, by the demise of dangerous chunky. Well. Hmmm. Okay.

I came late to blogs, both reading them and creating one. There is a finite amount of time I can spend reading them. I am in awe of those who create the elaborate ones with impressive graphics but often they are too busy for my eyes. I can get easily overwhelmed with looking. Also, my home computer is ancient, so the beautiful graphics are lost on me till I can go somewhere with good equipment. Yet I know there has to be more than text to hold even my distractible attention. A little color goes a long way in a black and white world. I’m inclined to go regularly to the ones that feel like their authors have become friends. Like Christmas letters (which I love) these blogs spit out the right balance of personal, philosophical and topical info to bring me back again and again.

My own experience as a blogstress is certainly enjoyable now, but mine is only a few weeks old. And yes - it is weird, creating a sort of word puppet sitting on my lap, telling you what I think, but filtered through this digital and mechanical medium. I’ve spent years as a performing musician and know the separation and intimacy of the performer/audience relationship. Blogs are like that. I know I have an audience because I get feedback. and I am certainly sharing myself through the medium of words. But there is this separation too. I’m here in the darkness of a wee dawn morning in spring. We may never meet face to face.

I also put in a fairly substantial amount of time working on this blog. I think it’s human nature to want what we invest our time in to last. It’s why most people hate housework - because it demands prodigious amounts of time and creates the most ephemeral results. So - does that mean I have to keep up this thing even when I grow tired of it? the same way I have to clean the house when I know it won’t stay clean? well. of course it doesn’t. This is a hobby. It’s for my enjoyment first. I hope it is interesting to others. I’m glad for the interesting blogs out there created by others. I will bid each favorite blog farewell when its author has had enough.

But are blogs growing passé? Does it matter? Not much in the webworld lasts very long. Blogs are a little like annuals in the garden; quick to come up, generous in their blossoms, but gone with the first frost. Now, perennials are extremely popular and even I will admit they form the backbone of an easy to maintain garden. But thank goodness there are plenty of annuals out there to fill in the gaps when the perennials are dormant.

posted by Bess | 5:31 AM


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Friday, March 21, 2003  

I’m over my funk for now. Funny I’ve always described myself as a cheerful happy person but I’ve certainly identified enough down times for me this winter. ‘specially strange considering I think this has been a particularly fun winter. Does this mean I think being depressed is fun? or have there just been a couple of outside events that made me sway when they hit. Yeah - that sounds good. I’ll go with that.

Bess tries once again.

I’ve been working on my gold sweater. (Her again?!?) She’s knitting up much faster this time because I know what I’m going to do. Like driving down a road for the second time - it’s always shorter. I am also wondering what to call this sweater - when it is done and I’m no longer grumbling about it. Nefertiti is nice since it means “The Beautiful One is Come” which certainly displays a lot of hubris on my part - though I do think this is a beautiful sweater. But the Hollow Oak cable seems like it ought to be part of a sweater with a druidic name. I’m not too up on my druid mythology, so the only druid priestess I know is Norma and I don’t like that name for this sweater. Besides, she jumps into a fire and burns to death in the end and I’ve worked too hard on this sweater to even joke about that.

Anyway I’ve also been swatching the neckline and I believe I’ve settled on an 11 stitch pattern for the standup collar. I’ve taken the bobbles from the Hollow Oak pattern, which use 5 stitches, and added a 6 stitch ground to separate them - P2, K2 twisted, P2. I’ll twist the two knit stitches every other round. I swatched twisting them every 4th round too, and it’s nice but every-other is prettier. The swatch is only about 1+1/2 inches high - little narrow for a collar band but I’ll add a couple of rows of plain knitting before starting the pattern so I can apply i-cord around the base of the neckline and I’ll also put on an attached i-cord on the top edge. This all mimics the hem and cuffs of the sweater in a way that pleases me deeply.

Can it be? Is the end nigh? We’ll have to see.

Jen has a great piece on creativity today. She points out how creative all of us are - all the time - that you can’t live without being creative - for that is man’s definition - each meal cooked, each job done involves creativity. Her words echo a conversation I experience time and again. A person will sigh and say “I wish I could draw. I can’t even make a straight line.” And I want to hug her (and do, if I know her well enough) and then ask if she can write in script (cursive). She always says yes and I then ask “what is more elaborate than handwriting? Think of the lower case “K”. Could anything be more graceful and artistic than that? It’s just that you’ve written for years. When you were little grownups made you practice. It’s just that nobody made you practice drawing.”

Sometimes people are surprised and then rather delighted. And sometimes people would rather cling to their definition of themselves as inartistic slobs. It’s just a choice.

And a gigantic Hug goes out to Jahara - ‘cause I sure was blue and your words really did make me smile. Thank you, sugar.

posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


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Thursday, March 20, 2003  

I am growing ever more unsetteled and scatterey feeling. I hate this. Usually I enjoy open ends and multiple choice. But right now I feel like I am walking across a railroad bridge and I can feel the tracks rumbling in both directions even though I can't see anything. I get this way every spring because anybody with a garden knows the real work is in the spring. And then TAXES loom in spring. And there are never any warm, but spring colored clothes to wear - and I hate my brown wools by now. The light is different in spring and I can see how dingy my house is. It really needs to be painted. And DH wants it to be painted outside and I want it painted inside and we probably don't have enough $ to do both and neither of us wants to do it ourselves. And every cool event this spring is planned for the last weekend in April or the first weekend in May. Imagine - The annual Maymont Herbs Galore festival and a Nicki Epstein workshop at GotYarn are on the SAME DAY! And I want to be 10 years old and carefree. Only I don't ever remember being carefree in my whole life. not even for a day. There's always this prick of threat/danger/work/ guilt/homework/test-tomorrow/something that scents the air and reminds me that it is temporary - all like mist in the morning. And the world picture doesn't help. And I miss my son who is in the navy. And I don't like seeing my parents growing old. And I just feel so crummy.

And now that I've spit all that out - I feel better.

so I will rake and seed the paths in the garden
and balance my checkbook.
and fill out my taxes
and talk with big darling about money
and send little darling a letter
call my folks and tell them I love them
and pray

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM


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Wednesday, March 19, 2003  

I woke this morning wondering what I would have to say here. My students are still working on their sleeves so class was a little slow - I haven't knitted anything since last week - the full moon is in Mercury - eh - nothing to say. Instead my digital knitting community has provided all sorts of interesting topics guaranteed to set the curiosity ball rolling.

Dangerous Chunky is folding but in one of her last posts she asked “what’s it all about anyway? Me Me Me”
Clara asks “Is the bloom off the blog?”
Jahara asks “what will I find when I walk into the knitting guild meeting for the first time? What am I looking for anyway?”
Knitters Review posters remind me that when knitting flags there is always spinning! How do you survive the creative blahs? besides eating.

Lawzee, I don’t know where to start.

Yes I do.

DC. and What’s it all about? ‘cause I’ve sometimes wondered if I’d ever confess why I even started a blog (and then I’ll also have to go into a long yammer about something completely non-knitting). It’s not really important why I started it and if I confess, then I have to fulfill the original urge, which may not be anything I want anyway. Gad I’m making such a mystery about this.

Okay okay. Couple o’ background things. I really do have a hard time not talking. In hostile territory I can be mute, but lift the tension and I will jabber forever. I like to think I am interesting. I suspect I live among extremely kind and innately courteous people. Only once in a while do I remember knowing I was being a conversation hog. Couldn’t stop myself, but at least I realized it and that woman moved away anyway so I don’t get reminded of that too often. Still remember, though.

I post a lot on Knitters Review. I’m a member of the Clara Parks Fan Club. I even sorta blogged over there last spring when I knitted up my swatches for the Knitting Guild of America master class. It was fun, and it kept me on task too (me me me). In fact, it was the “going public” the “telling people I was going to do something” ... there you have it - it was that external structure I clung to while my ENFP brain tried to wander off to greener grass - or browner grass - or really no grass at all, just something different. It’s just so easy for me to begin things and so difficult for me to complete them.

Well - it was also pretty hoggy on the KR forums. Might have been interesting too, but hoggy. And I was starting up these knitting classes. I wanted to write about the experience of teaching - but I wanted to write a lot. And then, I’d been looking at some blogs and thinking how interesting they are. And then, perhaps there’s a little Sam Pepys in us all - you know....the sort of Diary as Literature syndrome. Lotsa ego here. But good natured, and now and then worth reading. Be kinda fun to have everybody (or nobody, as it may be) listening to memememe. It’s fun to have a soapbox.

But what pushed me into actually creating a blog was that I want to lose some weight and get back onto my fitness routine - the one I tumbled from back in 2001. So I thought - “you know, Bess, if you create a blog and then post regularly about your progress maybe you’ll stick to it this time.” Sort of a virtual weight watchers kinda thing. and o’course, I very quickly realized how unutterably boring it would be to read about and also ... probably give the wrong picture of what I really think is important. And besides the blog ended up being a gush about my real loves. And I ended up sticking to my healthy regimen anyway. And someone who is not my dear, but seriously near-sighted husband, commented on my nice figure.

So there you have it - my shameful secret motive. Just like I learned how to read when I was 8 because I wasn’t about to let Debbie Singleton sit next to Reggie Kirkpactrick in the BlueBirdReadingGroup while I had to go sulk with the Buzzards - then found out I not only could read but loved it - it turns out the FitnessPolice I thought I wanted was unnecessary and the creativity soapbox is a delight.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a cousin one year. In response to a January “how have you been?” she said she’d been terribly busy. “why?” ahh seems she’d been given a diary for Christmas and now she had to fill up her days in order to have something to write in it. I’m southern too, so I didn’t say “god, that’s creepy” but I did say that I was more likely to write about how I felt and what I thought in a diary. Takes all kinds.

‘Course, this means it’s still probably about mememememememe but hey - nobody’s got to read it, right?

My students are still working on sleeves. One had a terrible arthritis flare-up and I had to restrain myself from offering to knit her sleeves for her. The other had had kids home on spring break. Last night should have been the last class, but not only do I enjoy a fairly regular gathering of even 2 knitters but also, I think, with warm weather coming, we’ll all need structure to finish these sweaters. So we’ll check next Monday and see if sleeves are done and if so we’ll meet next Tuesday night and begin our yokes.

posted by Bess | 7:03 AM


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Tuesday, March 18, 2003  

Read Your Knitting orThe Joys of Trial and Error

da Capo

I wrote my lovely (and far briefer!!) essay on reading knitting but blogger ate it and now I can’t seem to pluck the eloquent words out of the air as I did yesterday. But there are a couple of recent posts on the KnitU digest that keep prompting me to give it another go so I shall try. I first heard the term on one of the Elizabeth and Meg videos. I didn’t need it explained to me either - the term described so beautifully what I think we knitters all long for: To be able to pick up our knitting and look at it and know what to do next.

Reading your knitting means that you develop an understanding of what is happening - how stitches grow out of previous stitches - the many ways to make them move in one direction or another - how to stop them or start new ones. It also means understanding not only where you have been, but how you might go somewhere else. I am sure that all skilled knitters read their knitting, but I also believe that most knitters could read kitting much sooner than they do. Just - nobody ever tells them to.

Some of this is the result of the tyrany of the written word. I’ve been fortunate, working in a library for decades, to have developed both a reverence for knowledge and a rather casual attitude for books. Believe me, books wear out or grow useless, but knowledge does not. Also, I am mildly dyslexic and reading is difficult for me. My eyes often don’t even want to look at letters. Fortunately, I do have a facility for understanding written directions, so after my eyes calm down, I actually can read.

A lot of knitters I know really love the comfort and security of a pattern. I’ve even had a student come to me, not to learn knitting techniques, but how to read a pattern. I didn’t understand how to meet her needs at the time, but I realize now that what she wanted was the freedom to knit what she desired. She felt if she could read patterns she would have that. While I believe patterns are useful, even important, I think there is a danger for so many folk, of thinking that if it is written down then it is correct, therefor they must obey. Now - we all know how many mistakes there are in patterns but sadly, these knitters become imprisoned by patterns rather than freed. And not just because of what the patterns or instructions say but also because of what the knitter thinks they say.

A recent post on Knitters Review about knitting into the front loop or the back loop is actually what prompted my meanderings on this subject. The poster asked if you always had to knit into the front loop. Well, either loop could be on the front of your needle depending on what you did when you created that stitch. And besides, how can there be two loops when a stitch is nothing but a single loop? See how language, even commonly accepted idioms, can trip a person up? Kurt Fowler’s KnitU post of yesterday touches on the same issue - how instructions can tyranize over a knitter till she thinks she can’t do something. well. not so. What that knitter needs to do is to actually look hard at what is happening in her knitting. Does the stitch twist when she knits it? Does she want it to? If she knit that stitch a different way, maybe wrapped the yarn around the needle in the opposite direction, would that change how the stitch looks, what it does?

Most of the questions I see about technique can be answered by having the person read her knitting, not the pattern. I practice reading knitting myself. I knit swatches from a Barbara Walker stitch book and after the first repeat I don’t let myself look at the instructions again but instead make myself figure out what I do next by looking at my knitting - by reading it. I want an organic understanding of what is happening and what is supposed to happen next. It involves trial and error, tinking back, ripping out sometimes. But I get such a triumphant feeling when I can finally read what’s happening.

In fact - I realize now, this is exactly how I used to help my son with his homework. Especially his higher math (this from the algerbra II girl). He would bring in his calculous book, frustrated, impatient, and I would say “okay, explain each step you’ve done so far”. As he would go through each step he would invariably find his error himself, solve his problem and then hug me enthusiasticly while crying “Oh mama, I knew you would have the answer.” Hey, we moms take our praise wherever we can get it, right? So he read his math. And we can read our knitting.


Stopped at GotYarn yesterday on the way back from visiting my parents. They are open on Mondays now - hooray - since I go to the city most often on Mondays. Lawsee I want to buy some Aurora8. That yarn is so gorgeous, so luscious, so soft, so springy. Every time I touch the stuff I get hungry and my mouth begins to water.

Funny - I like the way summer knits look, I would love to own summer knits, by golly, I yearned for one of the demo sweaters at the shop! But I just don't want to knit them and I don't want to spend the same $$ on summer knits that I spend on winter things. I understand not wanting to knit them, since I prefer springy sproingy yarns and cotton, linen and silk will never spring, sproing or sprang. But where does this $ prejudice come from? Heck, we have a lot more summer weather than winter weather here in Dixie, so from a cost-per-wear stand, summer knitting is far cheaper. And you buy less, since you knit shorter sleeves, or no sleeves at all.

Just proves my point. People are crazy.

You will be pleased to hear that I ripped out the entire shoulder area of the gold sweater and soaked the kinks out of the yarn. Let's see if I get them right this time. And tonight is the Make your First Sweater knitting class - we're 2 weeks behind now - hope we can start on our yokes. I believe my next project will be that little beaded bagn I bought 2 weekends ago.

posted by Bess | 6:49 AM


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Monday, March 17, 2003  

Well darn.

I just wrote this absolutely brilliant essay on reading your knitting and when I tried to post it, blogspot just trashed it.

and I don't have time to rewrite it
besides I am sure i will leave out something important.

double rats

see if fail to use Word next time.


posted by Bess | 5:55 AM


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Sunday, March 16, 2003  

Been down sick with some sort of stomach bug. Came on sudden, left me weak. Gosh I hate to watch a perfectly good weekend racing by from the bedroom window. Had to cancel with my 12 year old garden helper and I know better than to pick up knitting needles when I'm in this condition. I do enjoy sleeping though - it's not a passive actvity for me and the 20 hours of it I indluged in yesterday were a real treat. Today I will just play the delicate and sip tea with milk, take baths and allow myself to be gently treated.

I adored paper dolls as a girl - I like them sitll. But this week's favorite site is a new one for me. Hope it gives you a laugh.

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


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Thursday, March 13, 2003  

How I spend my lunch hour.

Bess and Goldie decide that hump has to go.

posted by Bess | 12:45 PM


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Bess in a raglan sweater.

posted by Bess | 12:25 PM


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I guess this is sort of sliding gardening into knitting but I found this shot of the cherry tree in bloom and thought I'd share. Besides, I'm curious to see how it looks on the web.

posted by Bess | 12:15 PM


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No knitting news today.

Instead I bring you PEEPS SHOW - to the right, just below the garden tour. I had intended only to put the official peep website up as a pick of the week but lo - I discovered there is more to peeps than just eggwhites and sugar. Two more Peep sightings can be found on Annie's blog and this week's pick, Red Lipstick. (just scroll down a bit on both)

So - I can hear Suzanne muttering "Eh. some people have too much time". Perhaps she is right. I spent the day with computer geeks at a website workshop.

I am sure I can find other ways to avoid ripping those humpy shoulders on the gold project.

posted by Bess | 6:53 AM


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Wednesday, March 12, 2003  

Sigh. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get this gold sweater finished. I ripped out the left front shoulder and the back till I could pick up the stitches and the wraps in the back correctly. Then I added another row of short rows to bring the back up to the same height as the front. (5 pair, 10 rows in all) Then did the front left shoulder and the 3-needle bind-off and began knitting across the back to the right shoulder to do same. Well. It's nice. It works perfectly in theory BUT

I began my short rows 4 stitches in from the edge of each shoulder, front and back. And it looks ... not quite awful, but amateurish. There is a sudden hump up where the short rows begin. For goodness sake! This sweater is being knit at a 5.5 st. to the inch gauge so it shouldn’t be that obvious. And perhaps it will block out or disappear once the area is filled with shoulders - but it looks homemade, rather than handmade. I’m just so frustrated because I think I should rip and begin those short rows on the second stitch at the beginning of each shoulder to eliminate that hump. I just don’t want to knit that shoulder area again. I’m afraid the yarn will begin to wear out. (not really)


I took the sweater to our Tuesday Night Knitters group last night and nobody seemed to think it was all that bad but they are very kind people. Oddly enough, another of the group has been struggling with BadKnittersSyndrome - just knitting things wrong and having to rip and rip and rip. Of course, we are all the type who tend to pick up needles and yarn and start knitting and only then deciding what we want to do.

Another boohoo was getting hold of a copy of Jacqueline Fee's The Sweater Workshop. Rats. It’s great book on how to knit, how to knit sweater, and how to vary the sweater you are knitting - just so long as you’re knitting a &*%$#^% raglan sweater. Now, when a lady with very square shoulders and hefty front and more than 10% overweight puts on a raglan sweater, just you imagine putting a raglan sweater on Humpty Dumpty. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t make her look good.


I’ve added a link on the right to a tour of my garden in April. I hope you enjoy it. I have 2 more series of garden tour links to put up and I think, to be honest about things, I will also keep a record of my progress in rebuilding it. I’ve neglected it for 2 years due to a sojourn in the Slough of Despond , some ill health, and the mother of all droughts. I am up on the plateau of happiness these days, in good health and we’ve had lots and lots of rain this winter, so I am ready to make amends. Besides, for the past couple of years I’ve wanted to replant things - dump some weaklings and create something new. Just think - now I can build a dyer’s garden!

posted by Bess | 6:34 AM


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Tuesday, March 11, 2003  

Old Man Galligher was a fisherman 'round here (roundcheer) 2 generations ago, when cooks and housewives would walk down to the courthouse green and select from whatever he'd caught that morning. He had a wonderful response to the shoppers when they complained that the selection was poor - "Can't ketch fish when sheep are grazin' on the river". Now, when I drive to work, on windy mornings, with the broad expanse of the river speckled with foam, I think about sheep grazing out there and imagine doing this:

posted by Bess | 5:58 AM


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Monday, March 10, 2003  

Conversation between Bess and Goldie.

B “You didn’t’ really expect me to spend my first day in the garden in 2 years and then come in and do an intricate knitting project now, did you? really? “

G “You not only said you would, you put it in print”

B “It’s not really print. It’s merely type”

G “A technicality”

B "Besides, I had those 200 daffodil bulbs that I had to plant."

G "Oh come on. You plant daffodils in the fall, not in March! They'll never live."

B "They might if I plant them, but they'll surely die if I don't"

G "You were finished with that by 1:30."

B “But I thought C was just coming to pick up her yarn. I didn’t realize she would need a knitting lesson”

G “You should have prepared for contingencies”

B “You are not the only thing in my life, you know. I do have other interests”

G “Careful - Remember who has control of your creativity.”

B “I did rip out the left shoulder and the back shoulders to the first short row - and picked up the stitches including the first 2 wraps. I’m ready to zip right through now.

G “Haven’t you said that every day for the past week?”

B “Well, honey - this time I will get it done ... and as a treat, I’m taking you to the fiber guild this morning”

G “Humph - well, see that you finish my shoulders. I've been waiting for 12 months and I don't intend to sit crumpled in a basket another summer. I'll go live with the moths instead."

posted by Bess | 6:23 AM


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Sunday, March 09, 2003  

The decision has been made. I am going to rip back the left shoulder and probably all the short rows on the back, since I've lost the wraps on the side where I picked them up, and knit the back shoulder area with 2 more pair (that's 4 rows) of short rows. Not too much to do and I think I'll like the fit of the upper arms better this way, without causing the front to droop. It will be, after all, not much more than 1/2 an inch difference.

Of course, I plan to do this knitting later, after I work in the garden and after all the laundry's done and lord knows what else I tell myself I can stuff into a single day. Eh - life is good when you have options, says the ENFP.

And tomorrow I am going to play hookey from work and go to a Fiber Guild meeting about 50 miles away - but in the country. It's funny how I would not think of joining a guild or group that met in one of the two cities that are 50 miles away, but really feel like driving 50 miles further into the country is just well - next door. It's like weight. I feel like a blimp when I am a certain weight and gaining, and like a sylph when I am the same weight and loosing. Go figure.

And now it's off to join the day.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


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Saturday, March 08, 2003  

"Blessed is he who gives without remembering, and receives without


I pulled this off KnitU's digest this morning. It really struck a chord for me. This issue of giving precious handknit gifts ... or any gift, really, is so fraught with hidden traps and dangers, opportunities for humiliation and revelation. I've tried to live by that motto ever since I gave DH a chain saw for his birthday which he rejected as if I had asked him to wear pink hair ribbons. I had never seen anybody reject a gift before. In fact, I thought the rule was, even if you hated it you were supposed to politely say "thank you" and either hide it or dump it when you got home. Of course, he had to go home with me so his task would have been a little harder but flat out rejection was a new one for me.

Gosh - that was 28 years ago. Well - somehow I was blind to a pretty important component of my husband's self definition - and he is very lucky that 20 years later when he gave me an ice-maker for the refrigerator - the refrigerator I bought precisely because it did not have an ice-maker in it - I just smiled and said thank you (though with a rather bemused expression on my face).

I have also decided I will not give knitted gifts that are also surprises. It’s not fair to either of us. I think I can dazzle my recipients with the finished project in spite of them knowing ahead of time what it is supposed to be/look like/be used for. This is not some arbitrary decision on my part, either, but a conclusion drawn from several years of humiliating gift giving debacles. I have handed over my precious efforts too many times to friends and family with dazed, glazed smiles or silly quips that betray their disappointment. And felt hurt - yet ... why should they be forced to like something they don’t - or rather, since that is an impossibility, why should I expect them to not only take this object off my hands, but also be able to act well enough to fool me into thinking they like it?

I remember as a kid that it was impossible to gush effusively enough to convince my family I liked something I was given. So gift time, especially Christmas, was usually very tense. Out of the heap there were surely to be things I did like, but I had to give equal display to each gift and some of them missed the mark by a mile.

When given the wrong gift it is so easy to question the devotion, love, care, understanding, even intellect, of the giver. And that’s not fair. If someone really plotted to give me an insulting gift, I hope I would have already figured out he didn’t like me and was just looking for an opportunity to get in a dig. And at this point in my life I hope I’ve pretty much winnowed those people out of my life. At least, they’re no longer on the gift exchange list.

I cope with the gift giving process in this manner. If I am going to surprise someone with a handmade gift - it will be consumable, likely from the kitchen. That way he can enjoy it or give it away but I won’t be looking or wondering if it is being used. I’ll expect it to be gone. If I want to make a knitted gift - or some other type of handmade item - I’ll consult with the recipient. We’ll work on it as a design team and then I’ll take over production. It doesn’t have to be a surprise, for goodness sake. If I love someone enough to spend that many hours knitting away on that many dollars worth of yarn - I also love him enough to not put him through the agony of pretending to like something he doesn’t.

The flip side of this giving stuff - the receiving - is handled this way. I always buy myself both a Christmas gift and a birthday gift. It will be highly personal. It may be rather expensive. It will almost always be either a book, or materials for making something. And it will sit upstairs in my bedroom, waiting to soothe any slight disappointment I may be feeling when the wrapping paper has been tossed.

Knitting stuff

I haven’t knit a stitch now since just after dinner on Thursday. I’d had wine with my meal and then tried to do the 3-needle bind-off on the gold sweater. Big Mistake . I’m also slightly torn over what I hope is the final issue. The back is 2-4 rows shorter than the front at the shoulders. I am wondering if I should put in 2 more pair of short rows between the shoulder blades. This would mean ripping out the left front shoulder stitches as well, since I’ve managed to knit the whole shoulder area without breaking the yarn. I don’t know why this is so pleasing to me - perhaps because Meg Swansen makes such a deal of being able to do it too. It wouldn’t be that much ripping and re-knitting. The reason I hesitate is that I’m not really sure that’s the best fitting decision for my body - to have shoulder height the same front and back. Aside from being on the ample side, my sternum bulges out instead of lying flat. I’ve always had to lengthen the shoulder front of my sewn garments. But when I tried the sweater on, having basted the shoulders together, there was a slight pull at the upper arms - and that might be relieved by lengthening the back a bit.

I’ll be riding in a car most of today, and knitting on Ben’s (darling step-son who will be visiting at the end of the month complete with really serious girlfriend!) socks, so I’ll let the matter cook. But by gum - that sweater gets finished this weekend - longer shoulders or not.

I’m also having the dickens of a time figuring out Barbara Walker’s top-down sweaters. Somehow I just can’t “hear” her instructions. But I am thinking I want a top-down cap sleeved sweater concept for my Ozeyarn mohair boucle.

As mentioned last night, I spent my lunch hour loading photos of the garden and when I’ve filled in all the text I will post a link to a virtual/time travel tour of my garden from 1997. I’m thinking I’ll also add a photo-record of all the changes that are supposed to go into the garden this year. Why would I expose myself so? eh. well. it’s that ENFP poking itself out of my psyche - I just can’t solve problems alone. If I go on display, though, I will finish what I start. If I think people are watching what I’m doing I’ll be sure to do at least a decent job. Stuff nobody sees I often don’t even bother to finish. It’s that external structure I need in order to come to completion.


I thought I'd comment on this since she has proved to be so popular. Or rather - I thought I'd comment on particular body shapes which come in and out of style. 'cause you gotta know I don't really look like the photograph - but I was trying to find a voluptuous body type in that magazine and I was rather surprised to find really only one type at all. The very long boned, ectomorphic shape. Now - I would love to have a body like that, at least, when putting on clothes. But those girls don't have any hips at all. They are almost a straight line from ribcage to thigh. It is a delicious shape to put clothes on to. But here they were really taking most of their clothes off. I was sort of looking for more curvaciousness (thinking of what my own DH likes in BoatBimbos) and I never did find a rounded shaped woman. Just the one body type. And it made me feel weird - to see only one standard of beauty.

Like the cover model on Fitness magazine. I will bet a month's pay it is the same body with a different head pasted on top (with a little more skill than I did).

Enough! The day is calling. Good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:44 AM


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Friday, March 07, 2003  

Sorry to have no interesting post on the blog today. In my spare time I've been working on a new page - a photo tour of my garden in April. As proof that the seasons are a-turning I've cut off all my fancy fingernails and gotten a gardener's manicure.

posted by Bess | 5:02 PM


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Thursday, March 06, 2003  


I finished those short rows and put the front stitches on one long circular needle and left the back ones on their own needle and "sewed" the needles together and tried on the sweater and...

By George, I think she's got it!

posted by Bess | 10:11 AM


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Long meander - knitting stuff at the end

The Three Knitting Librarians

Running through my head is the tune to Three Little Maids from the Mikado but on the FiberArtsRing, just by clicking "next", you will find my blog, Jahara's Fervid and Alexandra's Moralfiber and while J is not a librarian (yet) she is in education. She has a great post about this need teach - to lay out new ideas - to connect. If this need runs through your being it will be the prime motivator no matter what profession you find yourself in - and it will run all through your life, not just your work life. Talking to your son? it'll be a "learning experience". Buying yarn - look out anybody who is standing next to you - they are likely to hear all about why you are buying the Noro and not the Rowan Kidsilk. For there will be reasons, based on information you really need to share.

A mighty big thanks to Jahara, though, because her Tuesday post, along with A's comments, helped me distill some jumbled thoughts that have been screaming for expression. It has to do with the season of Lent. About why I love this Christian period of repose. Those who know and love me are aware that I am “on the Quest” - an expression I like to use because it makes me feel good - to describe the only real reason I think I exist at all - which is to work on my spiritual development. (god that sounds so trendy - language is sometimes so inadequate.) I’ve developed my own approach to handling Quest activities which constitutes my religion now, although I was brought up in a lapsed Catholic family and went to parochial girl’s high school. I had the label but none of the secret passwords to be called a real Catholic, and I went to high school with a lot of trepidation and nervousness. What if they knew I’d never read the bible? What if they knew I’d never heard of the Stations of the Cross. But I’d long ago learned that if you kept your mouth shut most people wouldn’t ask so I just watched and learned - and then, since I can’t keep my mouth shut, I joined in to the rituals with fascinated enthusiasm.

Of course, I didn’t know then how wonderful NewBeginnings were and what joy they were going to bring me in later life. After all, when you are 14 everything is a new beginning - and anyway, mostly all you want to know is if he’ll ask you to the ring dance.

And if you’re going to do a NewBeginnings thing you have to prepare yourself, right? Clean off space on your desk, clean out your closet, clear off the counters.... and just when the grime of winter is really getting you down, just when you are heartily sick of the dirt of the wood stove, the muddy paws on your dogs - and menfolk, just as the light begins to change as the sun’s angle tilts towards your face - there is Lent. Before real springtime comes, we get Lent, that invites you to clean out your soul. What a fantastic opportunity to start over again. Like New Year’s resolutions, or September’s new school supplies - here is this wonderful chance to StartAgain!

So I’ve been wondering what little cleansing ritual I want to add to my life for the next 40 days. Usually I focus on something in the food and beverage line, because by March all the comfort food of winter has expanded me beyond my warm weather clothes. Last year I stopped drinking carbonated drinks. I knew I drank too many so it would be a healthy thing to do, but I also knew I was emotionally tied to them so that each time I had to stop myself from buying a diet Pepsi I’d have to think a bit about why I was doing this. The trouble was - I got to obsessing about the darn things and feeling cranky - when the idea was to release my dependency and feel free and light.

And here Ash Wednesday caught me with nothing decided upon. I hear the drumbeat of springtime pounding away, telling me it’s on the way. Got to prepare myself. but I feel adrift with no decision made about the process. I can always give up the soda’s again ‘cause you can be sure I bought a 6 pack the Saturday before Easter last year. It would be good for my body, for sure. But will it focus the soul?

Several people have told me that they add something to their lives instead of taking something away. S says she writes a letter to someone every day during this season. N says she calls a friend each day. K says she takes a Lenten walk every day. I like that idea of adding something generous to my life, but I don’t want to bypass the concept of sacrifice. I had hoped that by writing all this down I would see some choice rise to the surface, but alas, it hasn’t. So - in light of nothing else, I shall subtract the diet Pepsies and if I can think of something more soul nourishing I can add that as well.

the knitting stuff

I still haven’t straightened all the kinks in the Golden Challenge. I’ve been knitting on the back and find that I must leave one un-eaten stitch at the back of the left sleeve cap so that when I’m finished with the short rows and am knitting back I will do the final decrease on the left back and then knit around to the left front to do the decreases and short rows. BUT in order to knit back along the short rows, picking up the wraps, I have to turn on my last purl row, leaving those wraps by the right back shoulder un-picked-up (abandoned? still in place? gad where is my thesaurus?)

I really can conceive what I want to do with this sweater but the exact sequence keeps revealing itself in new directions as I knit on it. what I believe I will do is:

· Finish up the last purl wrap of the last short row on the back (the wraps on the right back shoulder)
· Turn and knit back, picking up all the wraps behind the left shoulder and eating up that last sleeve cap stitch
· Knit onto the left front, eating up one of the 3 remaining sleeve stitches and on across to the front neck opening
· Purl back, decreasing one front neck stitch and knitting one of the 2 remaining sleeve stitches
· Knit, again eating up that next to last sleeve stitch
· Purl decreasing the center front neck and starting my short rows
· Do the short rows needed and decreasing the center front till I have 25 stitches on the left front
· Work as many more rows as needed to match the right front
· Purl on back across the left front and when I get to that last sleeve stitch, eat it up

I will now have the front and back left shoulders on different needles and I can do the 3-needle bind-off

When that is done I should be at the neckline and can purl across the back picking up the wraps that are on the right back shoulder. When I get to the middle of the sleeve cap do the same bind-off

I’m at the neck.

I can pick up stitches and make decreases across the back to suit the # of stitches needed in the collar and then I ought to be done with this baby.


I hope I can find that last ball of yarn to complete the i-cord trim. I know I have one, but I can’t remember where I put it.


I had thought I’d wax poetic about nature this morning but already this post has grown too long. Suffice it to say I went into the garden yesterday with the rake. I will have to hire my young boys soon, for there is more work than I will ever get done. But I was thrilled to see that Daphne Odora has survived last summer’s catastrophic drought and is sprinkled with tight buds. Any day now they will open and the world will be transformed with her perfume. what a promise fulfilled.

posted by Bess | 7:01 AM


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Wednesday, March 05, 2003  

What You've All Been Waiting For

Bess as BoatBimbo

and another

Bess surrenders to a greater will.

posted by Bess | 12:05 PM


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Last night's class ended up being a sort of talk session. One student was out of town. The other two were at widely different places in their sweaters - one had finished and was struggling with her second sweater. I say struggling because they were having an awful row, that knitter and her sweater. She had wanted it to be a circular sweater with set-in sleeves a la Zimmermann and like my golden girl. She also knit it quite oversized. Perhaps too oversized. She had actually finished it with a big cowl neckline and hated it. Big problem - the front of the neck was way too high. When we talked about it last weekend I suggested that she rip back a few inches below the under-arm and make regular and judicious decreases at the sides so that when she got to the underarm area the sweater would fit her more naturally. It would give the sweater something of an a-line tunic look but the overall fit would be better. She decided not to do this but to finish the shoulder area as a yoke sweater like her first one. She already knew she would need short rows in the back plus some fairly severe decreases across the back of the neck before knitting her collar treatment but she forgot to do both techniques, knit and ripped out the collar, knit it up again, forgot again and at that point she said she was ready to take scissors to it. Instead she put it away, went into a dark room for 5 minutes and breathed deeply.

This is a woman who likes to come to completion and I am not sure what she will decide to do, but my suggestion to her was to pack it away for a while and work on something else. She is swatching some lovely merino which she may knit into a vest.

My other student was not as far along with her sleeves as she wanted to be. She did not want to master double points, so was knitting them back and forth on straights from cuff till she had enough to put onto the circular needle. I had not explained the increase sequence well enough last time so she was a little confused about her increases. And she was worried about forgetting which round she was on and not making the increases at the correct interval. Fortunately I had my golden girl with me (see? I am relenting in my attitude about the gold UFO - and so you can guess things are going along fairly well with her now) and could show her how badly I had miscounted both row and stitchs on the sleeve increases and how little it was going to matter in the end.

She was able to join one sleeve and continue knitting in the round on it. She had started another sleeve but it had an error on it that she was truly unhappy with so in the end she will have to rip back about 2 inches of sleeve knitting. Fortunately these inches are very near the cuff and so she is not loosing too much work. And her knitting is absolutely the most even, perfectly tensioned knitting I have ever seen.

The original class schedule was to have students ready to attach sleeves and begin work on the yoke portion during this 4th class but I have always been ready to adapt the schedule to fit the class. We have our regular Tuesday night knitters group next week and I hope my sleeve knitting student comes with sleeves done so we can get her going on the yoke. I will do nothing with Sigvaldi till at least next week so I can have two sleeves ready to demonstrate how to attach them to a body.

And that gives me time to work on the golden girl. I have not really had opportunity to knit since I finished the short rows on the right shoulder. Last night I put in a few rows across the back, eating up the sleeve stitches at each end, every knit row. (remember, at this point I am knitting each front and the back as flat knitting, knit one row, purl the next) I have one more row to do eating up the sleeve stitches and then the 4 pair of short rows must be knit to give the shoulders in back a slope that matches the right front.

I thought at first I would then put short rows in the back to raise it but when I laid out the sweater last night to discuss what I was doing, I realized that, by lowering the front neck so much, I didn't need to raise the back neck. I plan (and you know about the best laid plans) to finish the short rowing on both shoulders which will put me at the end of a knit row. If things look neat and tidy I will:

*Do a 3 needle bindoff on the left shoulder starting at the sleeve and binding off towards the neckline
*Drop the yarn
*Using a second ball of yarn do the 3-needle bindoff on the right shoulder from sleeve to neckline
*Staying on right shoulder I will knit across the back, decreasing some pre-selected # of stitches
*Pick up stitches down the front of the neck, including the center front stitches that are on a holder, and back up the slope part of the front neck and join at the right shoulder.
*Work a stand-up collar with popcorns from the hollow oak cable and i-cord trim

Report back here.

Heh. Good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM


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Tuesday, March 04, 2003  

Knitters Review Forums is back up. Our intrepid Clara has wrought the miracle. We are home again at last.

posted by Bess | 8:36 PM


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I was kinda joking about the zodiac post yesterday, trying to put my own grumpiness into perspective, diminishing its importance, but by gum, so many people had such uncannily similar weekends -

The truth is I'm a little embarassed about reading horoscopes and playing with Tarot cards because I feel like I'm still playing fairy tale, Aladin's cave, Three wishes type games - or rather I suspect it makes me appear juvenile. In the end I subscribe to the philosophy of personal responsibility and figure if I feel crummy it's up to me to change till I don't feel crummy. Or I can always choose to wallow in the slough of despond. It's a choice thing. But now and then it's nice to lay the burden on someone else. And with Jahara feeling like fiber shows can be ... a let down (more about that later) and Jen getting a headache ( I never get headaches, but I got one on Sunday!) And my friend K, who drove L and me to the Williamsburg Quilt Show and Fiber Festival, dropped by and said she developed the worst headache coming home Sunday too.... well. Maybe there is something to this planet thing after all.

LONG - Not Required Reading

As for fiber shows letting me down... hmm.. Jahara really touched a chord in me with her dismay over the hype, overblown, too much of the same thing aura that can surround a show. I'm not a quilter, though I have made a quilt, and though I can appreciate fine needlework in any format. I'd been to this particular show, which includes a display of Hoffman Challenge winners, twice before. I had never minded the many booths of quilt fabrics for sale. They didn't interest me, either, but I could imagine a quilter being delighted to see fortylevendyhundredthousand different fabrics to sew with. The displays of fabulous quilts have always been so interesting and inspiring and the addition of the little fiber arts part of the show meant there would be at least some yarn shops. In fact, I knew Carodan Farms was going to be there and had requests from friends to pick up some of their house brand yarn. I ought to have had a grand time - with friends around fiber.

Only I didn't. an old buggaboo caught up with me at that show and it has really unsettled me. Or, rather, it pricked me, reminding me of some truths I know about myself and showing me another view of Bess that brought interesting insight. Well, there. Learning usually comes with a bit of a struggle. right?

First the good stuff - Not only was Carodan Farms there, with the wool I was looking for, but Suzanne's Kniting Shoppee Inc, from Lynchburg, VA had a great display of Prism yarns and a sweater in entrelac done in Prisim's stuff that I absolutely drooled over. The price was fair, since I know how much Prisim Stuff costs, but I just don't have the chutzpa to spend $300+ when I have so much yarn in the house right now. There was also Pastora The Color Lady (click and scroll down the page a bit) with beautiful handpainted yarns and silk strips. She had a wonderful plum that was almost brown that faded into a rich pink that would have looked beautiful on me (and this is all about me, right?) only there wasn't enough for more than a vest and I don't wear vests much. But she had a green that made my girlfriend's eyes turn emerald when draped around her shoulders - almost as if she had on colored contacts. It was transforming. We gathered a crowd with our excitement and complete strangers stopped to admire. This is hand dyed yarn and we were there the last afternoon of the show - so it's no surprise she didn't have a lot of yarn left. K was a little reluctant, even after all our admiration, to buy 400 yds, though she is quite dainty and small and could make a vest out of 400 yds. But Pastora - like a mother who knows her children inside and out - jumped up, plucked a skein of yarn off the wall and laid the two skeins side by side. Wow - this was a skein that had been dyed in pinks and then overdyed in green. L and I were as happy as if this yarn had been for us - I swear, when something is really really right, you just have to be glad to witness it. There was also a nice booth with knitted beaded purses in kits for $10 and instruction books with those little 0000 piano wire knitting needles in cases for $20. And a good bead supplier who also had a happy attitude (very important at a show).

Okay that was the happy fun stuff.

And I did enjoy the Hoffman challenge winners as much as I thought I would. I'm just glad we went into that room first, when we got to the hotel that had the quilts in it. If we had turned right instead of left I don't think we would have stayed long enough to go look at the HC winners. It was here that the creeping return of depression began pricking me. So many many tables filled with little squares of cotton fabric. Mountains and heaps and piles of them. Okay - well, this was a quilt show, what did I expect. It was while looking at a booth with button jewelry that the horrible sadness slid, first into my heart, then my whole chest, and then it took over my brain. God, how could anybody put together THAT many button bracelets. And besides, I would so much rather have had the opportunity to buy them as buttons. I would have bought some if they had been buttons. But as jewelery - with so much of it - they looked trinkety - insipid - and sad. And a long ago experience of mine swam into my conciousness. A few years ago I made rather pretty pottery that was sold at a painted furniture shop in Old Town Alexandria. It was just enough of an outlet to allow me to keep making things I liked to make, but not have to have them clutter up the house. But when she moved to another state I had to sort of look around for another outlet. While doing so I attended several craft shows, one of them quite upscale. Maybe it was a bad year, maybe my core self was trying to tell my upperconciousness something - but the thought of making enough of the same thing to sell at a craft show just utterly depressed me - it almost made me resentful of people who were filling the world with SoMuchStuffToCleanAndTakeCareOf!!!. I suffered a 100% rejection of all artistic effort on my part. I never wanted to make anything again as long as I lived and I sure as heck never wanted to look at other people's trays and trays and trays of stuff.

It was the beginning of a bleak time for me, though I ended up filling it with other neat things, like creating a rose garden and bringing Internet Access to a rural community and building a new library. But that dormant artistic urge was a sore in my heart. Interestingly, it was some sort of accidental delivery of a Patternworks catalog in 1999 that awakened the sleeping beauty. I am so happy with knitting - so fulfilled by fiber arts - so delighted with all the wonderful fiber adventures lying up ahead. And knitting takes longer to complete than clay things so I am slightly less likely to overwhelm my house with homeless orphans of my creativity. But more importantly - I began to teach. That is when I really settled into a happy stride. I simply love the gleam and excitement I see in the eyes of a new knitter as she realizes she can make a cable or knit ribbing or do color stranded work after knitting for 1 week. Their energy pumps me up. And when they take off and fly, when they leap ahead of me, I have such fun scampering after them. The lady who came back after the 2nd class with a scarf knitted up with a strand of yarn and a strand of embroidery floss she'd strung pearls on. Wow!

So standing in that hotel room looking at those trays of button bracelets I suddenly realized why I have taken my own creativity into teaching. And I also realized that I don't really want to see a display of "stuff made" nearly as much as I want to see a display of supplies for making my own stuff. In the future I will choose the kind of fiber show that meets my needs. My ON-switch is operated by possibilities not by end products. This is more ENFP stuff, I am sure. I never have had much sense of accomplishment over completed products. I get depressed when all the work is done. It's why I always have several projects going at the same time. It's why I want to teach - to see even more projects in process. It's who I am. The journey lady. Not the destination dame.
Gosh it feels good to get this off my chest. So good, in fact, that I don't need to go into how absolutely ugly the display quilts were. Lawsee. Just because you can do a life sized photo transfer of your grandchildren onto cloth and quilt around it, doesn't mean you should.

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


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Monday, March 03, 2003  

"Have you forgotten your 2003 resolution? Do you no longer believe in your ambition? Are you at an impasse? Is an argument going nowhere? Could a relationship use new wind in its sails? Does a project seem pointless? If you can answer yes to any of the above you are probably suffering from Saturn-itis. Other symptoms include an aggravated sense of pessimism and futility. Happily, there’s a natural cure. This week brings a brand new moon plus the arrival of Mercury, Venus and Mars in fresh signs of the zodiac. Expect, soon, to feel much more inspired and refreshed. " Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts 3/3/03

Well. It's good to find a reason. Nothing like being able to blame it on the stars. 'cause this weekend has been sort of a low one - in spite of having all sorts of fun things to do with people I like. Now I can quit worrying about the feelings and just enjoy the process.

Bess tries to hide from Goldie the UFO.

And you will all be glad to know that I have begun working on Goldie. This is a terrible name for that sweater - it's almost an insult, I'm sure in response to her domineering stance. She was intended to be a Nerfertiti or perhaps Medb or Boudicca, since she has glorious cabled cuffs trimmed with knitted on i-cord edges and borders. I shall have to have a rechristening ceremony when she is finished - which absolutely must be this week because I've promised to ride up to MD to look at the NewBoat being built somewhere "up there" (do you get the picture - I am a BoatBimbo). A long drive in a car necessitates a knitting project, and, while I have the socks I'm making for my darling step-son, they are really Christmas socks. What I really want to do is to figure out the Ozeyarn boucle cap sleeved cropped sweater design before Saturday so I can work on it in the car. That is - I want to wear the sweater before I want to give the socks.

So - why is this absolutely gorgeously golden cuffed sweater being snubbed? ahh well

She is knitted in the round with a wide hem, cuffs, and central design element knitted in the hollow oak cables. (See Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p. 195) But I wanted set-in sleeves a la Elizabeth Zimmerna's instructions, which are pithy to the max. I want a stand-up collar also knitted in at least part of the cable - either the popcorns or the diamond - and I have a short neck. figuring out the sleve decrease is pretty easy but how do I incorporate the ending of the central cable, the depth of the neck opening, the slope of the shoulders and the height and width of the back neck? And have the whole thing fit me. EZ's instructions are to get to 10 stitches on the sleeve cap and then knit back and forth on the front eating up 5 stitches on each sleeve cap, then go around to the back and knit back and forth there to eat up the other 5 stitches on each sleeve and then join front to back for 1/3 of the stitches via weaving or 3-needle bindoff, leaving the central 1/3 for a neck opening. Well... That is not the neck opening I want.

I ripped back to where the sleeve caps had 8 stitches on one sleeve and 10 on the other and the front neck edge was not too high AND the cable pattern had just completed a diamond. then I put the whole central cable on a piece of contrasting yarn. There were 30 stitches on the right shoulder and I knit back and forth over those stitches, decreasing 1 stitch at the neck opening immediately after the first stitch at the beginning of every knit row as well as eating up 1 stitch on the sleeve cap on the same row. The Purl back rows had no decreases in them. When I'd eaten up all but 1 of the front sleeve cap stitches I knit 4 pair of short rows, each 2 stitches apart.

and that is where I stopped

What I plan to do next is to knit back across the right shoulder, finishing up the short rows, and then knit on around to the back, eating up all but one of the sleeve cap stitches on both sides of the back. At that point I will knit 4 pairs of short rows to make the back shoulders match the front and then perhaps 4 more pair to raise the back of the neck an inch, then finish up all those short rows and knit around to the front left shoulder. I'll knit it to match the front right shoulder. By finishing off the short row what I mean is that I will knit one round around, knitting into the wrap and the stitch at the same time, closing up the holes created when one turns around in the middle of a row.

This should give me a schematic that looks like this:

and if it does I will figure out how many stitches the neck band has to be to contain a balanced number of cable stitches, then close up the shoulders till I have room enough to pick up that many stitches and knit up the collar.

I'll try it on and if the sweater looks alright at that point it will be, as far as I am concerned, finished. I don't mind doing all the little fiddly bits to finish up a sweater. In fact, I rather love it. The Deer in the Headlights Frozen Stance only hits me when I don't know what to do, not when the work to do is picky or slow. In fact, there are not only ends to weave in and underarms to join, but lots more i-ford trim to knit onto the sweater. But the i-cord trim is totally fun to do and honestly - the sweater really was fun except for this darn neck portion.

and myohmy boyohboy goodnessme do I ever have respect for the wonderful designers out there who not only figure out how to make things like this but figure out how to do it in more than one size! Hats off to all you designers out there.

posted by Bess | 7:06 AM


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Saturday, March 01, 2003  

What a wierd day. I've had the blues all afternoon - not deep navy blues, but certainly something darker than cerulian - perhaps a sort of royal blue. My Saturday classes ended today.

What tallented wonderful knitters they all are. My morning class was a make-up class on bead knitting for one girl who had had the flu a couple weeks ago. Everything went well enough except I had made her chart up wrong and we had to redraw it so she could finish up the monogram on the purse flap at home. Somehow I had never gotten around to teaching the purl stitch. There's so much you can make with just the knit stitch, as Sally Melville has so well demonstrated. So the last thing we did was practice purling. No big deal when you are 11.

The afternoon class was even more difficult to say goodbye to. These women are all so bright and dexterous and energetic. One student had knitted the most beautiful garterstitch in the round. They had knit up a sweater body for a 14" doll and fortunately one had knit up the sleeves. I had made 2 more pair of sleeves so everybody could attach the sleeves and see how yoke neck decreases worked. Then we went over the EPS formula for adult sweaters. I demonstrated short rows but now I think of it I wish I had actually made them put a short row in the sweater. ahh well. my next class I'll do better.

The real challenge for me is translating what I know into clear, concise language. I try hard to never touch students work beyond looking at a trouble spot and then handing it back to them to fix. I fail at that sometimes but each class I get better at it.

But now I have that "the guests have gone home" feeling. Now, mind you, I have


of yard work to do - 2 years of neglect, a once-in-a-century drought to recover from, and a complete redesign of the old beds. But I just didn't feel ready to say goodbye. That hollow feeling still lingers. Probably because I now have no excuses for ducking Goldie the tyrannical UFO) unless I decide to clean the house or something.


Ahh well



I'll think about it tomorrow.

At Tara.

But a couple of things besides knitting and general enui are still there in the brain and one of them is soundtracks. Movie soundtracks. I've been watching Band of Brothers and getting mighty weepy about my own WWII era dad and I think one of the most powerful things in that series was the music. It's been haunting me for 2 weeks now. Another really fine soundtrack is BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Each character had a theme - a little phrase - well suited to his personality. I'm too old, and too classically trained in music, to really enjoy heavy digital soundtracks, but these two stand out as almost worthy of independent purchases.

And now let us knit on.

posted by Bess | 6:40 PM