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


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Wednesday, April 30, 2003  

Maryland Sheep and Wool is only 3 days away for me. This is because I am not one of the lucky ones who will be attending Rita Buchanan's spinning workshop on Thursday and Friday. That, I shall have to do next year.

But I am as excited and distracted as I can be just anticipating the fun Saturday will bring. A whole passle of Knitters Review Forum folk will be gathering at noon at the main gate for a picnic lunch. This is not an exclusive group - any other interested knitter is most welcome to join the group.

This will be only my second trip to MSW so I expect to still be overwhelmed by it all. In fact, had I not been cash poor and yarn rich last year, I think I would hardly have had any fun at all - for trying to decide among that many choices would have caused my brain to short circuit. I only bought a spindle, and some delicious wool fibers. Thank goodness I've already bought a spinning wheel. I don't think I could make a decision in an environment so packed with choices. I've noticed this about me before - that I need limits and parameters and frameworks and structures in order to make decisions about 80% of the time. Give too wide a choice my head begins to buzz, my eyes get a film over them, conscious brain cells freeze and tactile responses are about the only thing I have left. That’s fine when I have unlimited $$ to spend but once again I’m on a somewhat tight leash.

So - to prepare myself I’ve got to set some limits. There is a dollar amount - okay. I’ve got that. But where will I spend those $. Hmmmm. A quick inventory of my fiber stash tells me I have:

· The rest of that lambswool and silk - a unique blend, enough for a sweater
· Plenty of handpainted silk roving - enough for now
· Enough white merino top to keep experimenting with - don’t need any more at the moment
· Colored mohair locks - too full of VM to really enjoy
· The green colorblend merino - a standard fiber, maybe not enough to finish the sweater

My yarn stash is even fuller and the only thing I’ll really consider buying is some Mostly Merino yarn and perhaps some truly outstanding, thrilling, impossible to resist handspun/handpainted yarn.

So - my shopping list includes:

· Green colorblend merino - I’ll take a little sample and see if I can get about 8 oz more
· CLEAN mohair locks - 1.25 lbs in vivid autumnal color blends
· Maybe something exotic like Wensleydale or other interesting fibers
· Something in rich chocolate brown, like melted Hershey bars - the color that looks best on me
· Mostly Merino in that pumpkiney red
· Whatever is so fabulous it is impossible to resist

Whew. I feel a lot better for having created some sort of viewing plan. I can enjoy everything I see, and I’m certainly not so rigid that if THE fiber or yarn or tool or toy of my dreams suddenly appears around the corner, I won’t be able to buy it. But when you are about to be met with 500+ fiber vendors, you need some sort of safety helmet - at least, I do.

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM


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Tuesday, April 29, 2003  

May Tour Is Up

And if you are looking early in the morning on the east coast well...I'll fix the link on that last photo later this morning. I hope the spelling isn't too atrocious. I'll fix that later, too. Forgive me, as well, if there are just way too many of the same shot. BigDarling used to ask me why I took so many pictures of the same thing. Of course, real gardeners know I do not photograph the same thing - each year is different - each view and angle is different - for mother nature here.

I had thought I'd be photographing the garden's progress this year, but it seems I am not. Ahh well - you just never know what a garden will do - I had thought it would be completely torn up, to be rebuilt and repaired, but everything is so lush and green and pretty I have had a hard time taking shovel to earth. It is more fun to just sit out there and knit.

And speaking of knitting - an
goes to Larry of KnitDad - for inspiring me to take up socks again. I have so enjoyed his sock progress, and his enthusiasm. I have always got socks around somewhere, in some state of growth, but lately I have been knitting two socks on two circulars. and I have not been having fun. I suddenly realized that on Sunday. Yes, you get both socks done at the same time, warding off the DreadedSingleSockSyndrome but by golly it takes so darn long to get to being done with either of them! The time it takes to remember where to leave the yarn as you finish one side of one sock, and go to the next one, which of course I usually do wrong anyway. And w hen I do it tangles the balls up so, I don't want to knit on them at all. On Sunday I picked up a ball of Regia (not the self-striping yarn, but a pretty bright variegated colorway) and zipped all the way down to the ankle on just one single lone sock. Okay - it's just 1.5 inches of rib and the rest stockinette stitch, but what a sweet little knitting project.

I hereby release myself from the bondage of trying to be efficient. From this day onward, I permit myself to knit only single socks if that is what the heck I want to do.

And whatever am I doing up at this ungodly hour? I haven't a clue. Think I'll go back to bed.

posted by Bess | 4:34 AM


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Monday, April 28, 2003  

A Perfect Spring Day

What do you do on a perfect spring day? Stay in bed a long time reading Bullfinch’s Mythology of course, especially about Hereward the Wake, though Bullfinch mostly gives a Tristan-like story about our hero delivering a bride to his lord. There really was a Hereward who was much more interesting than that.

Then of course you want to go inspect the shoreline, riding on the spring tide. In March we often have what is known locally as a Blow Out Low Tide. This is when the wind blows so fiercely in combination with the natural low tide that it exposes parts of the river bottom you never see. Ancient skiff skeletons, lots of driftwood and the ghosts of piers, wharves, and docks rise up out of the muck and mud when this happens. But this time of year we get high tides that make your marshy shore into a dry launch. There may be a good bit of breeze blowing, making the bay choppy, but up against the marshes it is easy to paddle the canoe. Both young dogs, Priss and Socks, join you and you tempt them to jump out to run along the shore or swim the deep spots. They’re shedding their winter coats in big tufts and clumps. If you pluck one out, they’ll turn and look at their backsides in astonishment. But swimming and marsh leaping will go a long way towards grooming them back into welcome house guests.

A good dozen years ago BigDarling planted cypress trees along the marsh. One of springtimes sweet treats is to see how many of them you can find. The cypress is particularly distinctive in spring and fall. Its straight branches reach out like some western pine but the vivid yellow/green leaves grow along those branches like fur. Of course, all the trees are still in their spring green, though the poplars are growing darker as are some of the oaks. While paddling up Jacob’s, Gut Mr. and Mrs. B Eagle fly out to see who is trespassing on their territory, but when they see it is only their humans, they go back to their Sunday paper. You make it all the way up to the beaver dam before you lose Priss to some delicious woodland scent, but Socks stays with you the whole trip. Who would have realized just how much mistletoe had spread throughout the forest canopy? But it does love those black gum trees.

Since it’s probably lunch time when you get back from the canoe trip, of course you make grilled cheese and take it out to the garden. When BD asks if you want to walk out to get the paper you can’t resist - especially when you walk out into your PrayingPlace - between the woods and the second culvert in the lane - where the sky domes above you grander than any cathedral and the energy of the earth pulses so thrumingly, you have to get down and put the palms of your hands flat on the ground to feel it. If you are one of the fortunate, you sense that primal heartbeat, that power of life, in your very body - while the glory that is the blue sky pulls your arms up towards heaven in some ancient gesture of worship.

In late April the barley has beards that look like silver dashes atop the deep green of the heads and stalks. Soon they’ll begin to turn and grow into golden yellow heads with shimmery hairdos. Your dogs will disappear into that ocean of green because they know the ground is covered with fragrant furry things that are fun to chase. Suddenly, out of this landscape of green a brown body leaps high into the air, paws curved beneath, looking so much like a spring bok you once saw on the old Marlon Perkins show Wild Kingdom. Boing! Boing! There goes another, bigger, yellow body - not as graceful or leaping as high. Then Boing Boing there goes Priss again, turning in her leap so that her hind legs look like they’re going one way while her head and shoulders are going in another. Like so many kernels of popcorn, they leap up and up again and again, eyes alert, faces intent, hunting - or maybe, just playing. And you’ll stand there long moments, laughing every time you see another happy dog pop out of the sea of grass.

Since the day started so late, by the time you get back with the paper, read it, and maybe knit a few rounds on your sock, it’s nigh on to 4 o’clock. So you decide you really ought to put up the window screens or when it finally gets really warm, the house will fill with flies if you open the windows. Of course, the screens were taken out so late last fall that they got put away dirty, so you have to put on your rubber boots and scrub them down by the hydrant. And you forget to wear rubber gloves so your hands get icky with the spick’Nspan. The screens are huge and unwieldy, though not heavy. And your natural disctractability, sure sign of the ENFP, wants to say that you’ve done enough work on these screens, when you’ve only got half of them up. But you promise yourself that when you finish hanging all the screens you can take a hot bath - which you do - with all the toiletries that make it special.

The sun is so far down the sky now, your shadow makes you look as tall and slim as you always wished you were. You’ve got a little time to knit some more on your sock, stir up supper, and check your e-mail, which, sadly, has only gross adds for viagra and other more personal garbage in the junk mail folder and no loving messages from your friends. But by then, BigDarling is showered and the pizza is ready. Old-time Radio is on so you listen to that while you eat. It’s late, which you didn’t notice, because the day is bright for so long. And you go to bed and read some more Bullfinch, this time, the tales of the court of Charlemagne and laugh about what a wonderful day it’s been and make fun of the sound of foreign languages when they are heard by a non-speaker - and talk a little about what you’ll do the next day. Then sink into perfect blissful sleep.

That’s what you do on a perfect spring day. At least, that is what I did.

posted by Bess | 8:06 AM


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Sunday, April 27, 2003  

The go-go-go pace of the past week has left me today feeling very soft and quiet and dull. I achieved all my aims yesterday on the Blitzkrieg shopping trip, but I spent more $ than I had intended. Eh. win some, lose some.

I bought some bamboo needles on Friday, size 3 circs, to knit some socks. I am not sure I enjoy them. I have both wooden and Bryspon DP's, but I really do prefer the Addi Turbo circulars for pretty much everything. They are so slick. I can knit socks on either type of needle, but I can knit on the circulars for a longer time. For some reason I pivot the DP on a spot on my right ring finger and after a while, that finger grows numb. Not good. For some reason I slide the shaft of a circular up into the crux of my fingers, inside the palm where the first nuckles join fingers to hand. That area is more fleshy, especially when my fingers are curved. I can knit on circulars forever. Well, I was reclining in bed, knitting, so maybe if I were to try sitting up, in a chair, the bamboo needles would work better.

Everything else I might share here is just too nebulous, too insubstantial, too much work for a laaaaaaazy Sunday morning.

And wouldn't you know it - the archives are back, with the exception of the ones from March 13 through 30th. That is, all the posts with photos of Flidais. Harumph!

posted by Bess | 8:24 AM


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Saturday, April 26, 2003  

I am back in my emerald green world. Lord how I am enjoying all the cloudy, wet weather we’re having. Besides keeping things cool and letting blossoms last longer, the rain dances on my tin roofed house, sounding like a friendly conversation in the next room. It was so hot and so dry last summer I wonder if I will ever get enough rainy days. The air was a beautiful steel blue/gray as I drove home - a little rain, but nothing blinding. Those 200 daffodils I planted in March (Yes! 8 weeks ago! What an idiot! I forgot them and left them on the back porch all winter.) are up and blooming, a bright yellow smiling welcome home. So there, they did live. They’re of the King Alfred type and ordinarily would bloom at the beginning of the daffodil season, and they’re a little shorter than normal, but they’re perfectly lovely. They fill in a bit of the skimpy section along the road, up against the woods. These, added to the ones already planted there, make a swath, about 1/10th of a mile long, of golden daffodils, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. I think perhaps 1200 or 1300 of them. And in the garden the first rosebud is fat and red and will open up this week. It’s one of the Rugosas. All the Burkwood Viburnums are dropping the little blossoms and the lilac has begun to fade as well, but Iris are shooting up stalks. My iris are so crowded now I will have to dig every bed up in June. I think I’ll edge the outer corners of all the square beds in the Old Garden with them. After that I’ll have to start giving them away. I’ll be taking orders in 2005.

It’s good to be back after sitting and eating for 24 hours. I didn’t really want to attend this meeting so as a reward, most of the speakers were interesting and entertaining. Got some good knitting done on Sigvaldi too. In fact, I finished the yoke. Tried on the sweater last night. I really like how it has turned out with this exception - the neck is way too big and the back of the neck is way too low. The last row of the yoke is a purl row in pattern, which by that time is: *purl 1 in MC, purl 1 in CC, repeat from *

I’m going to pull out that last row, do at least 1 pair, maybe 2, of short rows across the back from one imaginary shoulder seam to the other, (2 pair would give me a nice inch rise) in the alternating colored pattern done in knit stitch, and then do the final purl row again. In addition I will decrease the stitches across the back neck, getting rid of either the MC or the CC (haven’t decided yet) and making the neckband snug up to the back of my neck a little.

Otherwise, this sweater completely satisfies me. I wish I had thought about raising the back shoulder area when I attached the sleeves, for I would have put a little lift in there too. But I think this solution will work.

What is left is a pretty neck band in stranded color work; the steeks and button band which I may do in garter stitch: darning in the ends and Kitchener stitching the underarm seams. In the next week or so I’m planning to finish the neckband and the darning in of the ends. I want to demonstrate Kitchener stitch and steek cutting to my students, and I don’t meet with them till June, so that will have to wait. Hope it isn’t too hot by then.

Stopped at Knitters Cottage on the way home. I don’t get to that shop all that often - maybe every other month - but the owner is so friendly and so good at remembering customers. (obviously she remembered me) Customers were chatting with her about the Wool Fair at Chester Farms in Churchville, VA. Well bummer. I didn’t even know about it. And I can’t go because I have to do a different sort of shopping today, in a city, at a shopping mall, because I do not have any good walking shoes and I also have run out of both perfume and concealer and no woman can be expected to do without either of those!

I actually enjoy shopping; all sorts of shopping. Fiber crawls are my favorites, but most any sort holds at least an opportunity for fun. But the kind of shopping I have to do today is more like work than play, and most closely resembles a military campaign. I have certain objectives that must be met, I have one day in which to meet them, an entire city to select from, but no opportunity to correct mistakes or fill in gaps later. BigDarling has some errands in the city too but I told him he’d have to take care of them another time because this sort of shopping with a mission can’t be accomplished if you have to think of any body else’s wishes or needs. Blitzkrieg shopping. a little daunting, but doable and necessary.

And here it is already after 8 and I’m not even dressed!

posted by Bess | 8:18 AM


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Thursday, April 24, 2003  

My sleep cycle is off. No matter what time I doze off, after 5.5 hours my eyes pop open - usually the result of some vivid dream - and I either get up and drag through the day or get up and go back to sleep a couple of hours later. I hate this - and think it is partly because so much is looming - good stuff - even fantastic stuff - but lots of it - and partly because I am probably not drinking enough water.

Still haven’t touched fiber except to move HeyBaby back into her corner since I’m going to be gone for 2 days. Heading off to Graves Mt. Lodge for a work related meeting. For sure, all I’ll be thinking of is the Knitters Review Retreat - both last year’s and the one coming up. Fortunately I only have to drive part of the way so I can knit on Sigvaldi for several hours. Let us see if I come back tomorrow ready to cut those steeks.

This is what Blogger has to say about my missing archives:

Status Note: Your issue has been linked with a known bug or item in the big Blogger "to-do list." Your issue will be updated, and you will be notified, when this dependency is updated. To see details on this item, click the link above.

and the link above says this:

Blogger Pro
Archive Issues
Created by Joel Slovacek, 3-10 03:43 PM. Last updated: 3-14 05:22 PM
Unusual problems have arisen with some users Archive pages. This includes archive pages not appearing in the archive list, incorrect dates in the lists and dates listed multiple times. This To-Do is created to track Archiving issues and to find similarities between the problems.

Status: Planned Priority: 2

Well, that's about the time my archives dissappeared. wish it were a Priority: 1 *sigh*

I have decided to send in only the Wensleydale yarn I spun this winter to the Md. Sheep & Wool competition. Of all the work I’ve done this winter, it is the best. I’d send in Flidais except she has a darn in one sleeve. I don’t mind the darn. In fact, for some perverse reason, I rather like the darn. But I think it’s stupid to put a darned sweater in a show. I suppose it could go in a show of mending techniques, but then, I didn’t do that good a job on it. The mend doesn’t show because the yarn hides it, not because it is flawless. I will be going to the show on Saturday but I can’t get back there to pick up my entry on Sunday. Fortunately, LadyLissatheLovely promised to pick up my entry on Sunday and ship it home to me. Md. S&W will accept entries mailed in, but won’t mail them back - even if you provide all shipping. I guess it’s just too big a shipping project for them. Well - next year I will just make plans to stay the whole time, including pre-weekend workshops.

Lily of the Valley is blooming in the garden. It is supposed to spread, even in shade, but mine has been taking its own sweet time. My mother, who, among many talents, of which I was inordinately proud, knew the words to a thousand songs, used to sing one about the Lily of the Valley. In doing a search on it I’m finding lots of entries, but so far, no music file or copy of the melody - only the words.

White Coral Bells
White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lily of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring
That will only happen when the fairies sing

But here is a site that adds guitar chords for accompaniment. And evidently this song is pretty well known. I was never a girl scout so I never heard anybody but Mama sing it.

BD and I just finished reading Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History by Walter Pitman to each other. Like many books today, dare I say - most? it was rather poorly edited, especially the last 2 chapters. But it is a grand tale of adventure, discovery and ancient history.

Off to pack now. Be back tomorrow evening.

posted by Bess | 6:14 AM


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Wednesday, April 23, 2003  

And so today I haven't got anything to say. absolutely no inspiration. I think I am still wallowing in the nostalgia of Topsy. The events of that story took place the last year PABDOS was in high school and I began a long deep descent into the black slough of despond. He was just about 100% joy to raise. We shared the same sense of humor and laughter is the thread that seams all those years together for me. He had, and still has, the most incredible tolerance for frustration and disappointments. Suddenly denied some promised treat, he’d grow still, absorb the blow, think it through, and then focus on some other happy option. Besides, there is no replacement for someone (tall) who, when you say, “honey, come here and get this down for me”, actually comes and gets it down, instead of saying “In a minute, In a minute”. Empty Nest hit me a little like a neutron bomb. Took me years to recover. So remembering those days sorta makes me weepy. Glad they are over, though in some lemony tart way, I would go back and relive them.

May is looming ahead with an almost scary list of activities, all fun and exciting, chief among them, 3 weeks of vacation. Well - that word vacation seems to have worked its power over my brain because, though I am present at work in body, I am barely there in any other capacity. Nor do I seem inspired to pick up needles or wool. I am mostly skimming through articles in my cache of back issues of SpinOff.

And looking above at the first paragraph I realize I have demonstrated my difficulties with shutting up even when I have nothing to say. Eh. Well. It’s the E in me as an ENFP. Every thing has to be dealt with externally - even ennui!

Okay.. I’ll go do something else. Ciao.

posted by Bess | 6:02 AM


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Tuesday, April 22, 2003  

My Archives are a wreck and I'm too lazy to fix them - assuming I am smart enough to do so. But LD is home and I wanted him to see this - so forgive the re-run. I give you:

The Tale of Topsy

Topsy was born on the farm. Her mother, in true Labrador fashion, while being a wonderful family dog, was most strongly attached to BigDarling. But when in heat or pregnant, she would cling to me. I used to say “Tru has cramps and she knows I understand” when she would leave his petting hand to snuggle up close to me. The night the pups were born I woke suddenly, sat straight up, and exclaimed that Tru was having her pups. Ignoring spousal scoffing I said “either that or she’s in trouble. I know she’s going to try to have those pups under the yurt and I saw a black snake down there this morning.” so at some time after midnight I was prowling around outside with the flashlight.

Tru was 7 years old and we’d debated a long time about breeding her. This pregnancy she’d seemed more sedate, less lively. Several pups had already been born by the time I flashed the light on a concentrating mother. She looked over her shoulder at me and, through ancient, silent female communication, she told me “Don’t you ever do this to me again.” and I solemnly promised this was her last litter.

They were wonderful little critters, though, with one exception. A small yellow female just seemed off. She didn’t move with the same surety. She wandered a quarter of a mile out into the field at 5 weeks and only BigDarling’s absolute dedication tracked her down. She acted as if she were blind. HardHeartHere said she ought to be put down because she would taint the rest of the litter when prospective buyers came to look, but both BigDarling and LittleDarling booed me back into silence. I even sought corroboration from the vet when I took them in for their first shots. Of course, these dedicated animal lovers, true physicians, who never give up hope where there is life, demurred, but I could see them tsk and shake heads.

So the little pup lived, but she did not sell. I forget whether black males were the dog of choice that spring or yellow females, but by the time we got a call from someone seeking a yellow female she was the last one left. We had promised LittleDarling he could have his pick of this litter as his own dog. He and I were upstairs and when we heard BD explaining how this pup was probably not going to make a good hunter LD burst into tears. “But she is the only dog I’ve ever loved with all my heart!” he wailed and I said “then better hurry downstairs and tell Daddy she’s not for sale”. And that was that.

She continued to seem different. The most striking thing about her was how she would spin around in a tight circle, whence the name TopsyTurvy, quickly shortened to Topsy. But she was a beautiful golden yellow color with two faint darker stripes that ran the length of her back. She had meaty thighs and a powerful swift run. She also wandered. She was a springtime dog so she began swimming early. Our favorite swimming hole is across the bay, a little sandy bottom spot on the Island that we get to by canoe. Topsy always started out in the boat, but before we’d gotten to shallow water she’d have leapt out and begun swimming to shore. She was an inveterate hunter as well, though BD was hunting less and LD had not yet taken up the sport. Squirrels were a constant temptation and groundhogs the enemy. Over on the Island were all the furry rodents a natural hunter could wish for and time after time she’d be long gone and out of earshot when we were ready to go home. We’d call and call, climb the bank and call some more, and finally, as the gray cloak of summer evening slid across the shoulders of the eastern horizon, we’d have to go home. A day or two, or sometimes even three, later, she’d show up, smiling, sleek, glad to see us.

Oh but the heartaches she brought us when she’d do her disappearing act. It was a hard lesson for a little boy. Many a day we’d drive the 12 miles ‘round to the Island and try to find her. I remember once seeing a skunk, at the far edge of a field, with a white stripe so wide it almost looked like a yellow Labrador. I know we came home sans Topsy that day - and there were a goodly number of other days we made the trek in vain. Topsy was just a scatterbrained wanderer.

Out of that littler we also kept a black male, although I am firmly of the belief that nobody needs 3 dogs. This big black fellow chose me as his own, though, and I was not about to let him go. This is a grave danger of having a litter of pups - that you won’t be able to sell them all - that you won't let yourself sell them all. Pokey shared Topsy’s fierce hatred of groundhogs and the two of them could have been rented out to farmers had we wanted to earn a little extra cash. Topsy would start out sniffing and digging and when she’d made some progress her brother would shove her aside and finish off the hole. If they were near the base of a tree, seeking squirrels, Topsy would even bite and tug at the tree roots and in a frenzy of passion one day she broke off one of her teeth.

And so, the little dog grew “like Topsy” and became an important part of the happiness of our lives. Who can know the joy a boy has with his dog.

The Sunday before Christmas in ‘93 LD and I were walking back with the morning paper. We took the long path through the woods because it was just one of those wonderful days for walking and ended up on the bank overlooking the wild winter marsh. Topsy came running up to us and urged Pokey to join her in some doggish pursuit. They both dashed back into the woods while the humans walked on home. I remember at the time thinking how odd she was acting and that she must have found some truly fascinating scent to get her to behave that way. I thought about it later that night when guests arrived and there was no Topsy in the yard to greet them.

Then began the strangest and saddest time for us all. Topsy had gone. Vanished from her own home. Five years old, she was way too old to have gotten lost. We called. We posted signs. We even checked with families who lived across the river - a good mile and half across marsh and water. And we wept.

It was in early March when Dr. Wilkins, from the vet’s office, called and asked me if our dog was still missing. An affirmative was countered with “can you describe any identifying features?” and of course I told him about the broken front tooth, the wide stripe of darker fur down her back and her characteristic spinning. “Well, I think I just treated your dog” was his reply.

Oh. First came the wash of joy. The amazed, happy grin. Topsy had been found. She was across the river, 40 miles from home, but just fine. She had been given to a retired couple by the young man who’d found her wandering along the riverbank. No. She didn’t have a collar. We’ve only ever collared true wandering dogs - and we’ve only had one of those. After all, she’d only ever gone to the island and back. Who would have thought she’d not only swim the river, but then get adopted and transported another 10 miles in shore? And who would have thought this couple would have bypassed all the vets on the Northern Neck, to bring Topsy to the Tappahannock Veterinary Clinic for checkup and shots?

But my second thought was “Do I want a dog who’s going to wander that far? We’d only just begun to stop grieving over her loss. Pokey had at last stopped moping around. LD could smile once again. What was the purpose of bringing back a dog who would run that far away from her own front yard?

My final thought was that it was not my decision anyway. The dog belonged to LD and it was up to him to decide what to do. And so I did nothing till he got out of school. How well I remember the same emotions flashing across his face when I asked him if he wanted Topsy back - Sheer delight, a thoughtful consideration of going after her, and then the resolute decision to go and see. We knew it was Topsy. If she remembered us when we got there, we would take her home. If she didn’t we would leave her with her new owners.

I called and talked to a gentle voiced man who said sadly, after I had described some of Topsy’s more vivid personality traits , “I believe we have your dog, ma’am”. He gave us directions and we drove to a pleasant house set in a pretty yard. Two teary eyed people welcomed us in and before we had spoken more than a few words, we could hear Topsy barking excitedly from down in the basement. One of Topsy’s most surprising behaviors was a deep distrust of men who were not her men. She seemed to like all women, and if you belonged to her she was as cuddlesome and friendly as you could wish, but heaven help the man who was not one of the accepted. The man told me that he had to keep her locked away when his brother visited, for she growled so fiercely at him. But the rest of the time she would sit by his side, chin on his thigh, and keep him company.

Topsy’s joy at being reunited with LD was a sight to behold. It was the most telling evidence that she truly belonged with us - something this tenderhearted couple couldn’t deny. I did reimburse them for their recent vet bill but something the Mrs. said made me actually glad we were taking our wanderer home. She began to tell me about how much they loved animals and how they fed wild ones in their back yard. A chill ran through me - for, though I love the wild animals that fill the woods and fields of my farm, I do not feed them. It is dangerous for them and for us. They need to have the skills to feed themselves and there are diseases that I would rather they not share with us - or for that matter, we share with them. But worst of all, was that Topsy was a natural hunter- swift, and deadly. The thought of these gentle people putting feed out for critters and then watching in horror as their “pet” went in for the kill right before their eyes made me shiver. I knew for sure that Topsy was the wrong dog for them.

And so, the prodigal daughter came home. And thank goodness, she’s never wandered again. We have speculated long and hard about what could have sent her off on such a journey. That year there were a lot of beaver moving into the area and on a walk on the Island we noticed that she swam out after them - way out in the river. Frantic calls, shouts, whoops and whistles eventually turned her in our direction, but out there in the water, she really did seem confused and lost. Perhaps she had followed a beaver across the river. Perhaps she just got turned around or caught in the current and swept downstream a ways, that fateful December day. We will never know for sure, but for sure we are glad we’ve had these additional 10 years.

She is very old now. Her mother didn’t quite make it to 15 and, at that, she was considered the oldest pure bred lab in the county. I wonder where Topsy ranks in the longevity list. But mostly we just enjoy watching an old dog have a truly blissful old age. She still likes to prance when we feed her at night. She’ll always walk the half-mile out to the mailbox with us and if she’s rested, she’ll go all the way to Rose Hill with BD, which is a good 4 mile trek. She groans when she lies down, and you can see her once meaty thighs are thin and a little unsteady. She’s grown to look more like her mother as she’s aged, no bad thing, since Tru was the most beautiful yellow Lab I’ve ever seen. She’s outlived them all - mother, father and siblings. She’s patient with the other dogs, but careful, because they’ll knock her down if they bump into her. Sleep is her favorite activity, but she loves to be loved and will nudge you for more strokes if you don’t move away. Food is a joy, though she only has her back teeth - all the front ones have worn down to nubs. And like Br'er Rabbit, she'll lay low. If you aren’t careful she’ll hide in the den and spend the night inside. And we let her sometimes, because she is Old Topsy, the yellow Lab.

posted by Bess | 6:35 AM


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Monday, April 21, 2003  

Bess is transproted by Jacob Lindburg's music.

It's very hard to not post rose pictures - for the rose was my lover before knitting was and old loves linger like the memory of a fragrance.

posted by Bess | 5:09 PM


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Sigvaldi is zipping along. I'm on round 3 of the last chart in the yoke. 3 more rows then I begin the final decreases. It's these decreases that attracted me to the sweater in the first place. I’m knitting mine in a dark brown called Bark with cream as the yoke color, accented with rust. Very me sort of colors. I did my knitting out in the garden again yesterday, enjoying all the fragrance and beauty and companionship of old Topsy, PABDOS’ 15 year old Lab. My lilac bush was simply coated with butterflies making the perfect Easter color combination of shivering purple and yellow. I believe Mr. and Mrs. B. Eagle have a nest in that tree along the marsh. Both of them were lighting frequently - and I considered stalking the tree to see but decided against it. The ground is pretty rough along the edge of the marsh and the ankle protested. It was enough to enjoy their whistling call.

No spinning at all - for BelovedHannah of the tickling god-daughters called and invited us over for a Rockfish and Roe supper. She’d been to the Mattaponi Indian Reservation and brought home way more than her family could eat. It’s funny how we view distances around here. Your best friend, someone you expect to see at least twice a week, could live 35 miles away. Those miles constitute “dropping by” as long as you stay out in the country. But ask me to drive an extra 15 miles into the city and it’s a BigDeal. Something to be planned, coordinated with spouse in case he has any shopping to do too, and more often than not, abandoned altogether.

And here it is Monday again. sheesh. why don’t we have 5 day weekends and 2 day work weeks? Mama - if you are reading this - here is a gigantic hug. I’m proud as I can be of you.

posted by Bess | 8:02 AM


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Sunday, April 20, 2003  

A bit of explanation about the blog changes. In this week’s favorite site I chose the UK site because their database is cleaner than the US. site. Both sites offer this CD but more to the point, I am not recommending, but Jacob Lindburg, with special emphasis on this particular CD. I admire and listen to many lute players, but he is my favorite and I am amazed that there isn't a Jacob Lindburg website complete with fan club. Among all his recordings, this particular one is the essence of gardening music for me.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the nature of a photographic representation of a fragrance and so I shan’t tease you with last week’s offering. When I can find what I am looking for I shall bring back "Why don't they make this perfume".

The Peeps show will be taken down early tomorrow morning.

posted by Bess | 8:49 AM


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Happy Easter to those who celebrate and a glorious Sunday to you all.

The Grand Announcement

I changed the drive band on HeyBaby

This only matters if you like to observe the timid efforts of the ridiculous. All others had as well ignore it.

Other bits of news for the curious:
The ankle is better.
The last bed in the garden is raked, though there are still so many honeysuckle vines crossing it I can’t put down mulch.
I still can’t figure out what I want to spin next.

Happily I was able to get a little knitting done on Sigvaldi. I’m working on the next to last row of the second yoke chart and looking forward to the next decrease row. That may bring the number of stitches down to something that fits on a 24” needle. Those first rounds of the shoulder/sleeve combination are always so interminably long! The pattern is easy to read straight from your knitting - a series of diamonds. I took my knitting out to the garden and enjoyed the sigh of late afternoon shadows teasing the leafy green of April’s foliage.

And speaking of garden - I truly do have a May tour halfway built. The tours are on separate blogs and the making of that blog seemed to scramble everything else to do with LikeTheQueen. I’ve never gotten my archives right since then - in fact they seem to have been consigned to some gulag prison, for nobody at blogger will answer my question; “where are my archives?!”. Even now, none of the rose photos show up, though all the early iris and peony shots are visible. Ahh well. It will be done when it is done, and surely not before.

We watched a movie last night so absurd and awful that I actually sat through the whole thing, accompanying the dialogue (?!?) with the refrain “I can’t believe I am watching this!”

I never have any trouble walking out of a the room when a video player is running something that I find stupid, a waste of time, insulting, dishonest, or when it is about characters with whom I have no interest, or for whom I have no respect. That takes care of about 90% of all movies. BigDarling, otoh, watches anything once it has actually come on. I believe he has only turned off movies that combine children and swearing. In part I was lured into staying because one of the supporting actors was William Conrad, who played Matt Dillon on the radio and a detective on a 1970’s show called Cannon, back before the television died. But as the movie continued I couldn’t figure out who was the audience for whom this was intended! I truly believe there have never been people that stupid walking the earth.

I will leave you in suspense no longer. It was “the Conqueror” staring John Wayne as Gengas Khan. I need say no more.

posted by Bess | 8:27 AM


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Saturday, April 19, 2003  

How I love it when I make that next intellectual leap. There’s such a rush of power and mastery to realize I understand what they are talking about...or in my case, what they are writing about. (Hmmmm I wonder if it is still illegal to end a sentence with a preposition. Our language is so casual now that some of these phrases feel like idioms. eh. wandering mind here)

There now. That opening salvo, with ENFP digression, intended to heighten suspense, should have pricked your curiosity. On to spinning talk.

I knew I was going to learn to spin before I had any spinning equipment. I began reading books on spinning and just as quickly realized that I barely understood what the authors were saying. The language would become technical and my eyes would drift. I’d flip through the pages looking at the photos then put the book down to daydream or start knitting or just go to sleep. 11 months after buying my first spindle, 9 months after bringing home HeyBaby, I’m re-reading those same books and nodding and murmuring “Oh! So that’s why!” and getting out of bed at ungodly hours to try “straightening the yarn without stretching it”. I understand what they are talking about so my mind stays engaged.

Of course, this is not an intellectual leap. It is the result of clawing my way up the Mountain of Comprehension to a nice flat ledge where I can sit a while and look out over the landscape of my experience and assess where I’ve been and what I now know. It merely feels like a leap in comparison to the creeping climb. But it sure feels good.

In an article in the summer ‘97 issue of SpinOff, author Gloria Hall describes her experiments on spinning superfine merino for lace. Since I too just attempted my first fine spun merino and was less than satisfied with the results - I was particularly interested in what she had to say. Her preparations involved careful splitting and pre-drafting her merino top into pencil roving. Then she “straightened” her fibers, applying enough tension to straighten the crimp but not to the point that the fibers are stretched beyond their natural length. To quote her: “Stretching the fibers past the stage of straightening ... stretched fibers relax unevenly after spinning, resulting in a crinkly, less elastic yarn that feels wiry compared to a yarn spun from straightened fibers. Too much take up tension on the wheel is the most common cause of stretched fibers.” I suspect in my case, it was also trying to spin on that larger whorl. Time to change the drive band, Bess.

She also gives good tips on plying these fine spun singles. She says that placing a finger between the two plies will almost always result in a spiral yarn; one ply wrapping around the other. I do see that in my finespun. I also hold my singles that way when plying. She suggests having both plies drawn over a stationary index finger with the thumb laid gently on top, much like the leather tension strap on a Louet wheel. The other hand pinches the twist, then rides up the length of plied yarn to guide it onto the bobbin.

I know for sure I would never have understood what she was talking about a year ago. I may not even have read the entire article. Now, though, I’m ready for this information and can’t wait to try out these techniques. Aren’t I lucky it is raining? Thank you, thank you, thank you, SpinOff and Gloria Hall!

The two books I read several times but decided not to buy last year were Handspinning, Dyeing and Working With Merino and Superfine Wools by Margaret Stove and The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning by Alden Amos. Information overload, they were. I think I shall borrow them both once again...well, no. I know I want to own Stove’s book, but I will borrow the Amos book and see if it ought to live at my house.

A bit about the garden - which is loving this New England spring. 60’s and rain every couple of days - made the daffodils linger, keeps the blackspot down on the roses, and the lilac - there has neer been such a heavy laden, fragrance filled, lavish gush of purple in my garden.

The ankle is not recovering as quickly as I’d like. I’ve misplaced my shock cord loop for exercising with. (probably deep under the bed, which means vacuuming, ugh) Also, I vainly wore a pair of shoes with heels on Wednesday because I couldn’t bear to wear running shoes when I knew I was going to be photographed. Serves me right.

Two more weeks to Maryland Sheep and Wool festival!!

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


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Thursday, April 17, 2003  

There is a SpinningAngel. What a relief to know, for no matter how much I should like to take lessons, in spite of the fact that I will find a spinning teacher, the bulking truth about my spinning is that I will have to teach myself most of what I learn. I am not talking about putting in time, practicing. I am speaking of teaching myself how to do what I want to do with wheel and fiber. This is not, by any description, a bad thing. It is merely a truth about my situation - that of someone with a full time job in a rural location and a modest salary.

SpinningAngels are akin to WifeAngels - those sprites who leap into your mouth and say something you would not ever have said, but which is exactly the combination of words to engender 100% of the result you want, without compromising your integrity or wounding an Other’s sensibilities in any way. The ability to do this - or perhaps I should say, when this happens in my life, it is so obviously not a learned skill on my part, but a matter of divine intervention, that I can only deduce, from such occasional occurrences, that there is a WifeAngel.

I am sure there are HusbandAngels, but I suspect that they disguise themselves as puppies so that tender hearts will melt and forgive long before there is any reason to do so.

I am struggling these days with my spinning. The recent effort in fine spinning was only a partial success. Thank goodness all the satisfaction came during the process and all the dissatisfaction developed after the skein had been washed and the twist set. Usually my handspun yarns get better looking after the twist is set - in fact, they have always surprised me with their beauty. This time, though, all the flaws in my spinning blossomed as the wool dried. The yarn looks both unevenly drafted and underspun. I am sure it will knit up into something very lovely. It is not hideous, you see, but merely amateurish. so - for heaven’s sake, Bess! what makes you think your first skein of fine spun yarn is going to look professional? Well, I don’t think that, but I need to figure out what it is I’ve done wrong and even if I can identify the flaws, I am not sure I know how to correct them.

Fortunately, the SpinningAngel visited me last night. She guided me through the stack of Spin-Off magazines that arrived on Monday to the Summer 1997 issue with its article by Rita Buchanan on Habitual Spinning. Ms. Buchanan discusses our propensity to spin the same type of yarn over and over and examines both plusses and minuses of this familiar trait. She differentiates between habitual spinning and focused spinning - spinning with thought. Spinning is such a hypnotic and soothing task that it’s easy to buzz off at the wheel and just keep doing the same thing over and over. Great, if what you are doing creates what you want - not so great if you don’t like your results. A highly skilled, thinking spinner may do all her thinking at the beginning of a project - then slide into habitual spinning, although not so deep into the zone that she doesn’t check her progress from time to time. The thinking spinner will also challenge herself to master several habitual yarns, giving herself the freedom and power to direct her spinning towards her desired end. Most of all, the thinking spinner must be willing to try something new.
(i.e. put the new drive band on your wheel, bess, so you can use both whorls)

Ms. Buchanan recommends finding a teacher and this I shall do. Maryland Sheep and Wool is coming up in a few weeks. This year I’ll do a little preparation. Because it is such a sensory event, it would be easy to go and just thrum with emotions, reeling and drooling from booth to booth. Instead, I will arm myself with some technical questions, study the show handbook for likely sources for answers, and put a little method into my viewing. There is no chance I will miss out on the emotional overload experience, but I hope to come home with some specific knowledge as well. In June I hope to attend the meeting of the Fredericksburg spinners guild. Fingers crossed there will be someone who will take me under her wing and help me shorten the learning curve.

In the mean time, I am ready for my next spinning project. I don’t have anything specific in mind and I do have several limitations within which I must work.

· I must use fiber from my stash (no shopping right now-must save up for Md. Sheep & Wool)
· I must spin enough to actually knit something with
· It must be of a high enough quality to please me with the results

Let us hope the SpinningAngel sits on my shoulder while I attempt this.

And let us hope the WifeAngel is smiling with satisfaction today, for it is our 29th wedding anniversary. She should feel pride in a job well done.

posted by Bess | 5:58 AM


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Wednesday, April 16, 2003  

My brain keeps niggling at the "more cool" thing but it can't seem to pry the nut of import out of the shell of drivel. Eh. When I have figured out what I want to say, I'll post.

In the mean time, last night my sweater class met and I broke the bad news to them - that I can't meet with them again till June - but if either of them has a question about her sweater, to catch me at work and I'll see if I can help. This is the advantage of living in a tiny little town and working in a public place. I'm easily found.

I am on the last round of the 2nd chart in Sigvaldi, about to make the first set of decreases in the yoke pattern. yippee!! I'm using wool from Carodan Farms, which is absolutely beautiful, but creates an enormous ammount of bulk when knitting stranded colorwork. My 24" needle does hold all the stitches but trying to knit them caused my hands to ache. I don't have an enormous long 40" circular and don't plan to buy one either, but I do have a second 24" size 7 needle so I'm knitting all the stitches from one needle onto the next. It loosened up the bunching just enough to make the knitting pleasant and easy. I'm also able to knit faster. The goal? To finish this thing before I go on vacation in early May.

posted by Bess | 7:38 AM


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Tuesday, April 15, 2003  

Are you cool?

There is a discussion seeping through the blogs about cool, hip, in-crowd knitters/bloggers who have written harsh comments about un-cool, un-hip, un-initiated out-crowd folk who evidently trespassed on sacred blogetories. Like a good investigative reference librarian I did a little sleuthing and uncovered at least one critical blog whose owner promised to edit comments he felt were unworthy of his blog with prurient additions. That made me wonder if there is a legal issue about to bubble over, since it seems almost libelous to alter someone’s writing without their prior agreement but there – I am not a lawyer and I have only a dictionary beside me and don’t feel like tracking down the exact crime.

Miriam Webster On-Line

Main Entry: 1li•bel
Pronunciation: 'lI-b&l
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, written declaration, from Middle French, from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber book
Date: 14th century
1 a : a written statement in which a plaintiff in certain courts sets forth the cause of action or the relief sought b archaic : a handbill especially attacking or defaming someone
2 a : a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression b (1) : a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) : defamation of a person by written or representational means (3) : the publication of blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene writings or pictures (4) : the act, tort, or crime of publishing such a libel

There now, though, I had never read that blog and I probably won’t go back so it’s no skin off my nose, but I did begin to think about being cool. In the precious cabinets of my memory is a darling of a girl who made a new year’s resolution in January 1968 to “Be More Cool”. Oh god, just writing this down washes me over with such a tender loving feeling for that girl. She was sure that coolness was not something you were born with – it was a combination of behavior and knowledge that could be practiced, imitated, and learned. She also knew that it would be a lot of work. It would require changing natural reactions, preferences and tastes, but after all, school forced her to explore things she didn’t naturally seek to discover – what was another research project. She studied the most popular hairstyle in school, which was parted on the side, straight down, scotched taped to the chin at night and hacked of in hunks (home made layers) in the back and set on curlers that made the back of your head look like so many bubbles. She spent a good number of hours learning to toss her head so that the long lock of hair that hung down from the side part would flip behind her ear and to snap her right fingers while she thrust the right hip ever so slightly forward in a sort of little circle. She learned all the words to Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. She bought herself one of those white fur hoods that tied under her chin with strings that ended in fur pompoms. She new every fashion trend in Seventeen magazine and the names of the colors of lipsticks. Some of it was lots of fun to learn. Some of it seemed awfully stupid. She learned how to do all the cool stuff all the cool folk did – but she didn’t really feel any different. In fact, she felt just as cool as she always had. And just as un-cool too. She still knew she was a fringe person, even if she was a cool fringe person. She liked being on edge, because it let her be different. She got to wear the prom gown in green crepe de chine with frogs printed on it instead of the white lace glued to acetate knit one. She knew her dress was crepe de chine, not acetate. That really thrilled her. And nobody knew that about her dress and it was the fact that nobody knew that made her feel coolest of all.

The be-more-cool resolution lasted about as long as other resolutions last. I don’t remember what the 1969 resolution was – probably go steady with a boy, or at least get a date to the Ring Dance – Maybe to learn to sew on the bias, or put pad stitching in a tailored jacket lapel – certainly she would have no idea she would knit her first sweater that year.

Well – sweet memories. I love that little girl that was. And she only got cooler and cooler till one day she could say, along with her hero, Z.B., “Yep. Just what I always thought. I’m a pretty neat guy”.

posted by Bess | 6:38 PM


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Bess gets her mind off her ankle.

Yet another

No Honey, that's the guest bedroom knitting basket.

posted by Bess | 9:53 AM


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Monday, April 14, 2003  

What makes a happy invalid? A UPS delivery! My Interweave Press order from their 50% off sale came today. And what was in it? ooooo

Photographing your craftwork by Steve Meltzer
The knitter's handy book of patterns by Ann Budd
InterweaveKnits Winter '97
InterweaveKnits Fall '98
Spin*off fall '97
Summer '97
Winter '97
All 4 issues of 1998
Spinoff spring '00

All this for $51.00 plus shipping.

Think I'll hobble out to the garden. See you when I surface.

posted by Bess | 2:38 PM


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Lawsee, how did it get to be Monday already?

I will call this the year of indecision. Seems like every choice I have to make is riddled with angst this spring. Eh. if that’s the way it’s going to be, so be it.

I’m right now trying to decide if I should go to work. Some background now - I have chronically sprained ankles. they are always sprained, recovering from a sprain or waiting to get sprained. It sucks and it’s my fate. Yesterday I moved from Category III to Category I while pushing my little cousins around in the garden wagon. It’s not a bad sprain but it hurts. And no shoes feel comfortable, but if I go around in just socks it’s not too bad. And I know the only real way to get well is to StayOffOfIt. And there’s nothing going on at work that I can’t do from home. And BigDarling needs the car so if I go at all I’ll have to drive the truck which has, not just a manual transmission, but a StickShift And there’s a second rub, because this morning is the Fiber Guild meeting, which I had arranged to attend, only it’s an extra hour’s driving altogether, with the StickShift and ClutchFromHeck that was designed for clog dancers or guys in steel toed boots. So if I were to go to the trouble of driving at all I’d be so tempted to drive on down to the meeting and what if my foot really began to hurt when I was so far away from home and I have just talked myself out of going to work at all, since I know if I go I’ll go all the way.

And this is indicative of all the other opportunities facing me. I can’t decide about the Nicky Epstein workshop in 2 weeks because I’ll just be getting back from a library workshop that, darn-it-all, conflicts with the Garden Week tour here in the county that I specifically scheduled the carpet cleaning for so we could be closed that day so that I could, at last, finally get to attend. I love convoluted sentence structure.

And we are getting ready to take an enormous vacation that I know will be attended by conflict since BigDarling hates to make plans and I like written itineraries.

Okay, enough whining. This, I know, is just Virgo willies. It is to be ignored. Or laughed at, as you choose.

In spite of the booboo to my ankle, which happens so frequently that it’s embarrassing rather than pitiable, yesterday was a lovely day. A day of beauty and charm. And before the damage done, I had been able to edge in all the beds in the Old Garden, which were in the most trouble. Hmmm. since I’m going to be layaboutinginbed today I’ll try to get a garden schematic drawn. I’ve had this garden a long long time but after the last big party in May 2000, I’ve neglected it shamefully. I was emotionally ready last spring to restore it but the weather and my health didn’t cooperate. This year, knowing I was going to be away during a big chunk of the peak season, I escaped the stress of thinking I had to fix it all NOW. This is the quiet restorative year - the year to reassess, to watch the sun’s patterns as it crosses the gardens, to note the spread, maturity or demise of plants or even whole beds, to decide where this baby should go now.

I was amazed to find only a few roses gone after 100% neglect during 110% drought. In fact, I am completely amazed at how beautiful the garden is. There’s such a rich lush flush of growth right now. It’s a pulsing juggernaut of electric energy coursing through my feet into my very soul. There are surely 500,000 violets blooming in a tide of green that seeps in among the islands of new growth. I am always amazed that this garden even exists - that I created it. In fact, I don’t really believe I did, even with photos - and canceled checks - to prove it. Yet each spring this happens - this amazing introduction to an old lover who hasn’t changed a bit - unless it is to improve and who loves me still.

A sudden emergency in someone else’s life gifted me with an afternoon with my beloved god daughters. 6 and 4 and as beautiful as sunrise and as different as a song and a whisper. We spent it outside, planting, digging, stalking like tigers through the wheat, weaving flowers in our hair, examining earthworms, and tickling. There were moments of such magic - as when a tiny curly blonde crept on all fours back into the wheat, then turned with a sidelong glance and said “It’s Mrs. Tiger“.

Okay, I know. Not unique pleasures, but see, I didn’t get any daughters, so I have to borrow other people’s girls. Fortunately, most folk are generous.

And there is nothing here about knitting or spinning since I didn’t do either yesterday. Once my guests had gone and my ankle was strapped I fell into that familiar depression that comes with pain and the certain knowledge that this is just my lot. Hot bath, ice pack, light supper, and entertainment provided by BigDarling helped a lot, but even sitting here with the foot propped, I know I ought to go back to bed. Where is that Advil?

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


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Sunday, April 13, 2003  

Written about 7:00 a.m. today

Well humph. Blogger is not working again today - can barely bring up anybody’s site and my archives are missing again. sigh. So I haven’t even tried to see if I could post anything. Sunday is usually the day I change my weekly side items. Besides, I’m a little afraid to go into the template - something else might disappear.

Well - drat on all technological roadblocks - but I’m old enough to still feel grateful for this technology at all. I’ll type this up in a .doc file and post it later.

Yesterday was the first sunny dry day after a glorious week of rain. (Gardener speaking here- we had such a drought last year I still haven’t gotten tired of rain) So, of course the garden called, and the light was bright enough for me to see how much dog hair there is on all the rugs and how dusty all the furniture is. The plan was to clean the house, work a little in the garden and spin some. Of course I had forgotten BigDarling. Call it a quirk - but I can’t clean house when he’s around. Usually I can put him out with the dogs, who are also a problem then, in a Marmaduke sort of way, when that vacuum comes out. But the truth is, I don’t want anybody around when I clean house...which mind you, I don’t do all that often. Mostly I pay someone else to do it. Only on off weeks do I and also when I want to get back in touch with my stuff.

Bess’ theory of housework: The person who cleans the house always knows where stuff is.

And yeah, yeah, I know. BD doesn’t do any housework, but like I said, I’m old. And I’m comfortable with a traditional division of labor. I don’t do car maintenance, nor do I help with firewood. We heat with wood, btw, so that’s truly a chore.

Well, okay, it’s easy to just go outside instead of cleaning house. But what needs doing in the garden right now is to dig up all the little plants that have spread out into the paths and put them back in their beds, or else pack them up to give away. I once read a darling post by a gardener who said “I garden with invasive plants” and I knew we were soul sisters. I too share garden space with many chaotic sprawley plants. Lychnis (rose campion), wild violets, tall Phlox, Purple Homestead verbena, Obedient Plant, Sweet Peas, Purple Coneflower, Bouncing Bess (well, how could I not?) as well as that hideous Ehphorbia pestilentia. There are also now some trailing sorts of viney things...(succinct description, no?) that I bought to drape down from some tall pots I have in the garden. They look and spread like periwinkle and I never did learn their names. One is green with white edging and one is green with a yellow heart. Imagine a lovely hanging basket with flowers in the center and these green trailing vines spilling over the sides. Imagine these things taking root wherever they touch the ground. well that’s all over the garden now.

Digging them out of the paths without making said paths into obstacle courses riddled with ankle breaking holes requires a trowel and I own 2 very nice ones - only - lord knows where they are, I couldn’t find them. So I wasted another hour looking in every possible place except the right one, getting crabbier and crabbier, and thinking of all the reasons why it was BigDarling’s fault they were missing. Well - you will be pleased to know I have 2 bags of pelleted lime, a path has been cleared through the clutter to the summer window screens, there are new blackberry bushes growing behind the tool shed, and I have a box of Miracid for spraying the roses with - but I never did find the trowels. That ment driving to town (26 miles, round trip) and I didn’t get into the garden till 3 p.m.!!

Still managed to end up aching all over, the result of 2 hours of deep knee bends as I stooped and dug those wanderers out of the paths. One path, alas, is so pocked I will have to till it, but the others will do fine once they are mulched. All those little white periwinkley things are now in the circle where Pop’s sundial is (see April garden tour) and where so many Ice Follies daffodils are, nothing will grow on top of them after June. I haven’t yet decided what to do with all the green and yellow ones, but the rose campion is back in bed, the obedient plants are back too, and I just tossed the extra phlox and violets. Oh lord - and I have garlic chives in every da-gone bed! And I managed to fertilize all the roses (there are 37 of them). And today I will edge the beds - a rather easy-going task to do when the ground is wet - and you would not believe what a difference it makes in the look of a garden.

Guess I shan’t get to the housecleaning after all.

So - what about the mohair boucle? ahh yes. well

First of all - do not ever, no matter how beautiful the colors, buy really trash-filled mohair locks. Lordy these things are a bugger to clean. But I did card out some lovely masses and spun up about 5 yards of corespun boucle using DMC cotton perle thread. It’s a lovely chocolate brown and I even rather like the weight this gave the yarn better than the boucle spun on sewing thread, but the perle is a much more visible part of the finished yarn. So it’s important that you spin it with more care. When I spun corespun boucle last fall, I used sewing thread and it pretty much disappeared into the fluff of the mohair. Any nasty tangles I created by my lack of skill were hidden by the mohair’s halo. The perle is a bigger thread and it really exposes any mistakes.

I will fiddle around with some more core and binder threads but I have decided that this mohair is not supposed to be spun up into anything I will knit. It may be. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be my “experiment-with-fluff”, because the thought of cleaning enough of this stuff to spin enough yarn to knit a jacket with is just daunting. - worse - it is depressing.

Instead, when I will bide my time till Md. Sheep and Wool and look for very clean dyed mohair locks in vivid bessish colors.

posted by Bess | 5:21 PM


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Saturday, April 12, 2003  

Here is an interesting quandary:

I love fancy. I like the old Victoria magazine. I am always drawn to beaded, novelty yarns with flecks and glitter and sequins. I adore ruffles. Deep in my secret soul is a girl with ringlets, puffed sleeves and crinolines.

And I never remember to put on jewelry, I have the same straight blunt cut hairdo I've worn for 13 years, I don't own anything made of a printed fabric. I don't even wear vests! The closest thing to frill in my life is that I don't wear monochrome outfits.

Why the heck can't I manifest my inner frilliness?

Anyway - what is happening here this weekend. I don't have anything I have to do beyond making jumbalya. Somebody donated to the library a little Paul Prudome pamphlet with a half dozen recipes in it and the first one is a seafood jumbalya. I nearly drooled on the pages as I read the recipe. So before I went home, I stopped at the grocery for supplies. Tonight we feast.

An old topic I started on Knitters Review last September, on spinning boucle yarns, has been revived. It’s fun to be reminded of things you were enjoying 6 months ago. And it just so happens that I have finished spinning my fine gauge merino, with no real idea what I want to do with it - so no reason to spin more just now - (or fiddle with the drive band) and I have this bag of lovely, albeit very trash-filled, dyed mohair locks, ranging in shades from dark chocolate brown, through tans and spilling over into all sorts of oranges. It looks like a bag of fire when you peep inside. hmmmm. Wouldn’t it be fun to spin that into something furry looking. Yes. That’s just what I shall do. Play with mohair today.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


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Friday, April 11, 2003  

Bess' antique technology petitions for retirement.

posted by Bess | 10:39 AM


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It's plied, washed and hanging to dry - about 200 yards of something that feels like cooked angle hair spaghetti. I'm so pleased with it. It's so different from what I usually spin. I forgot to measure the wraps before I washed it and it's wet right now so I'll do that tonight when I get home. Gonna be interesting to see what it comes to in yards per pound. I don't have the most accurate of scales but I have an idea it will be about 1,700 ypp.

I am ever amazed at what washing does to newly spun yarn. There are still a few very thin spots (at least, I found one) and I suspect I'll also find some places where a thin tight single wrapped around a thicker less twisted bit, but all in all it is a very pretty even looking yarn. So - I wonder what in heavens name I can do with it - or if I ought to spin up more of this thin stuff. For sure, if that's what I decide I will finally have to put the new drive band on my wheel.

When I bought HeyBaby last summer, in my ignorance, when I set the drive band on the larger whorl, the tension block was so far from the wheel that when I tried to put the drive band on the smaller whorl it was too loose to turn the wheel. But the knot was too tight to untie and I didn't want to cut it, in case there wouldn't be enough band left to work the wheel at all. I ordered a new drive band but in the mean time, I've been spinning very happily on the larger whorl, making yarn I like that knits up at a respectable 4 stitches to the inch. No need to change what's working, right?

Once I got the hang of drafting out this fine yarn, though, I had to pump like crazy to get up any speed. I didn't really feel like going all that fast while spinning the single- though I could have done so fairly comfortably. But when I came to ply - ahh - then I really wanted that smaller whorl. HeyBaby treadled very fast but I didn't like the tense feeling both of us got as I pumped away. It would be far more efficient to get more turns on the flyer for each treadle - for both the wheel and my leg!

So now, up comes a familiar bessbogeyman. I hate to upgrade technology. I only just updated my office computer from '95 to XP. I know, I know, every macine in the library had already been '98, 2000, and XP. But my computer was working just fine, thank you very much, so why should I change? I drive ancient cars. I have rake handles made from stripped saplings. I just hate to change my machinery till it truly no longer works. And unless I'm going to spin more fine yarn there is no reason to change the drive band. The new one can sit patiently in my cabinet. Besides, what if I make the change and it doesn't work and I've cut the old drive band and it doesn't work anymore either. Then what do I do? It'll all be ruined, ruined! Just because I just wouldn't be satisfied!

Heh. harumph. hrmmmm.

Makes me sound like BigDarling who won't go to the doctor because doctors make you sick. (not "doctors identify your illness, mind you - by naming it, they give it to you)

Okay. well. Everybody has his quirk. I could be a clean freak or something. There are worse things than being a Luddite.

I can't tell for sure till I swatch, but I think this new yarn wants to be a lace christening cap.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


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Thursday, April 10, 2003  

Lunchtime ponderings

Woo Hoo! While the excitement is still making my heart beat, I have to cheer! Finished spinning up the fine gauge single and even plied a little of it before going to work. I’m going to have to fiddle with the tightness of my ply … I tend to underply anyway, and I’ve never worked with anything this fine before. But it is very pretty – and I’m very excited about it. And my goodness!! It is so dirty. I had no idea how important it was going to be to wash my hands every time before I sit down to spin.

Oooo this is exciting.

posted by Bess | 12:53 PM


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What is with Yahoo groups! I'd love to subscribe to some of the lists they have there but to join they want all sorts of information I don't want to give out. Why do they need to know my first name? What possible use would some overriding institution have for my birthday? Why should I have to get a yahoo email address to participate? Is it important for them to know if I am a female in order for me to be worthy to participate on the Spindlist?

This is just a little too much greed for me.

gets one to thinking about conspiracy stuff. Time to sketch out a sci-fi plot.

And it's probably good I can't subscribe. I already spend hours on this thing every day. I already don't get to all the blogs I've grown fond of. When would I have time to actually do any spinning, knitting, gardening, dreaming.

Those who love me will be pleased to know that yesterday's whine was the last gasping effort to cling to procrastination. Not only did I get my butt moving, contact the folks I needed to, took care of some essential paperwork, and write and deliver the prospectus for my sheep-to-rug class, but I also began listening to Leadership -- by Rudolph W. Giuliani, on my commute to work. Just what the doctor ordered (Doctor Bess, that is). I still can't listen to the parts about 9/11 without crying but when he gets into describing how he manages an organzation as big as the city government of NY, I am reminded again of the importance of taking time to start each day knowing what you are supposed to do, talking with your staff (in my case, 3 people, but still...) how it's taking care of little things that puts people into the mindset of assuming you can take care of things at all. Very good for me to be reminded of how utterly stupid it is to hide behind the interruptions of the day or dealing with ThePublic instead of organizing my life so that I can also pay attention to the small stuff that grows into back-of-the-refrigerator-fungus-like monsters if they are neglected. Particularly if you are like me and create the back-of-the-refrigerator-fungus-like monsters in your mind, before you've even really neglected the small stuff! (is this a Virgo thing or just proof that I have a vivid imagination?)

Mind, now, this is not an endorsement of the book - for I've only listened to the first tape - or the man, really, since I've never delved into his biographical stats. Just saying I can use the organizational nuggets he's offering right now.

And I have just about finished the second bobbin of fine spun merino wool. Think I'll go see if I can get it done before work.

posted by Bess | 7:21 AM


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Wednesday, April 09, 2003  

So - what do I wish my life was like? ahh. I want it to be like the Moldau, both the river and the orchestral piece by Smetana. It begins with a lovely union of 2 streams up in the mountains and gradually expands as it tumbles down through field, valley, town, past weddings, peasants and cityfolk. always moving steadily in the same direction, taking all obstacles in it's course with success a guarantee at the end when it joins the wider flow of the Elbe. The Moldau doesn’t have any doubts about what it’s supposed to do. The beauty around it is its given due. The angst, struggle, joy and frustrations of others around are noted, appreciated, performed, but they don’t have any impact on the river’s destiny. No demands are made upon the river, although it shares it’s bounty with all around it. All that is expected of the river is for it to be there. Existence is enough. it’s actually more than enough because by it’s existence, those around it can prosper via transportation, commerce, fishing, industry, agriculture. It gives, but it is not depleted by its giving.

Heh! does it sound like I have things I’m supposed to be taking care of and instead, am dodging? well. I am. Bah! I am the queen of prior agonization and build such bogey men out of a little responsibility and a whole lot of dread that it’s a wonder I ever get anything done at all. and no. I haven’t gotten my taxes done yet. Nor have BigDarling and I had our discussion about money which is always such a strain. And who ever would have been stupid enough to get married in April - so that our wedding anniversary is always immediately after we have sucked the bank accounts dry every 4/15? Gad we were stupid - and broke, of course - back those decades ago.

But I must admit, there is one ounce of finely spun merino on one bobbin and 1/2 an ounce on the other and very soon I will ply them up and see what I have created. Turns out I need only 1 ounce of finely plied yarn to enter into the Maryland Sheep and Wool show. Wonder what you can knit out of 2 ounces of fine spun merino wool. yes yes. I must admit. life is good. and I can think about taxes tomorrow - at Tara.

posted by Bess | 6:21 AM


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Monday, April 07, 2003  

Some joys are beyond words.

posted by Bess | 1:34 PM


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Sunday, April 06, 2003  

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

-- R. L. Stevenson

I hate daylight savings time, probably because I am a morning person - a dawn prowler who loves to get up early, gets her best work done before noon, tries to avoid starting a new project after 2:30 and thinks 9 o'clock is a good bedtime. Every spring I have to start getting up in the dark again and wait another month for the sun to brighten my morning. I love it when it gets dark at dinner time in November and I can snuggle back down in my little nest and practice the noble art of sleeping.

Ahh sleep. As I mentioned in a previous post - for me, sleeping is not a passive activity. It is the first medicine after water, when I am sick. It is the chance to live multiple lives through dreaming. It is the opportunity to wear the prettiest, but most comfortable clothes. When I was a girl I used to think that school would not be so bad if I could only attend it in my pajamas, and if my desk were a bed. After a while I created an entire mobile bed fantasy where I could drive to school, dressed in flannel pj's, in my "magic" bed, which had recording devices, a refrigerator beneath the springs for cold drinks, and curtains to shut out obnoxious schoolmates. I escaped many a dull afternoon science class in that soft fuzzy fantasy.

I am grown now, but I still enjoy the magic bed fantasy. On hot summer nights, my flying bed takes me out over the ocean, where emerald-cool green waves tower 50 feet over my head and damp shafts of moist air pour over me. Or perhaps it will fly me over arctic landscapes with sharp snow flurries biting my face as I snuggle down beneath heaps of magical blankets that never get wet. Now, though, I get to share it with BigDarling, who - you guessed it - is a night owl! How it happens that two people with such different biological clocks ever chanced to be awake at the same time long enough to date at all must be proof of the power of fate. Often I will wake at 1 a.m., when he finally calls it a day. In the dark I will offer to take him on a magic bed tour and with words I will lift the roof off the house and fly us up into the clouds. "Today we shall fly west over the Blue Ridge" I begin and then will summon all my memories and imagination to take us on a new adventure. It takes very little of this traveling to put us both to sleep.

But now I shall stoically grit my teeth and endure the long light summer nights, when I shall just "have to go to bed by day".

posted by Bess | 6:53 AM


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Saturday, April 05, 2003  

When is it a mistake and when is it a design feature and when does it make no difference at all?

No matter how carefully I check for errors, I'm likely to leave some in any posting. Yesterday's whole discussion of spinning technique begins by saying I hold the wool in my right hand and draft with my ?!?right hand?!?

Okay - idiot me - the gist of the posting was that the left hand had to do more than just pull on fibers - it had to feel what it was pulling out of the fiber mass. And the right hand, which is my dominant hand, has to lighten up a bit - quit trying to do it all.

When I am spinning, very frequently depending upon how thick my yarn is, but also depending upon how tidy the fiber mass is, sometimes I can just draw my right hand back and the fibers spin out of the mass at just the right thickness, twisting into exactly the right tightness. At my present skill level, I can’t always do this deliberately - but whenever it happens, even accidentally, it’s a thrill. Usually when my right hand decides to take over, it pulls back and a thick wad of fibers grabs the twist and I can either have a slub in the yarn or I can stop, untwist a bit, see if I can draft out the correct number of fibers, or; if I can’t, pull off the fiber mass, untwist more, and join again.

I don’t mind doing this - but then I begin to wonder “Is it really necessary? Is this anal behavior? Will my yarn look completely amateurish?” The big question is: At what point do you correct your error? Often, single yarn that I’m sure is as slubby and uneven and just plain crappy looking as it can be, will ply up and wash into the most beautiful yarn. People will look at it and cry out at it’s perfection. My own eyes sometimes see the perfection, sometimes see the ... what shall I call it? - the humanity of it? (What is a good opponent to perfection? Imperfection...what a watered down word - eh. interesting puzzle, I will ask Mr.Wordsmith when he wakes up)

I think I notice it depending on my mood more than anything else. If I’m generally pleased with the yarn, I don’t, and if there is something else I don’t like about it, I do. I am a Virgo, though, and I am always assessing my work - putting it on the chart according to my personal scale of perfection. I try not to let others know I am doing this. I’ve learned to just say “thank you very much” when I'm complimented. But inside my little tidy heart is an OPINION that only reason and careful consideration, or going back and correcting errors, will change.

Where I am fortunate is that I have deft hands. In another life, eons ago, I was a professional orchestral violinist. There is quite a lot that these hands can do well. And I had a mother who assumed her children could all do anything, if they wanted to - who never said “you can’t do that” or “that will be too hard”.

What I am striving for is:

· the ability to judge when it is an error’
· the skill to correct it
· the discipline to actually make the correction
· the confidence to leave minor flaws to their own obscurity

My. That sounds so ... so ... so wonderful!

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


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Friday, April 04, 2003  

Spinning breakthrough

On Saturday we drove through Fredericksburg and saw some spinners in colonial costume, so of course we had to stop. I’d been meaning to look up the spinning guild there anyway, since that’s the closest city to my house. The spinners were very chatty and friendly and one of them was also spinning on some blue wool that looked familiar to me. But what caught my eye was how she was working the fibers. I’m self taught, though via the very best of teaching videos. I’ve gained some skill but there are many yards, if not miles, of learning for me to travel. The spinner (I didn’t get her name, and think of her as the BlueWoolSpinner) was holding a small piece of wool in her right hand and with thumb and forefinger of her right hand she was pulling a small number of fibers from the wool at a regular pace, drawing the wool out only perhaps 2 or 3 inches. The left hand drew the fibers out while the right hand appeared perfectly still. This lovely fine thread - even, smooth, perfect looking - seemed to fly from her hands. As I watched something clicked in my brain. I knew I had to learn to draft this way.

So just how have I been drafting? Not terribly differently - but in subtle ways very differently. I, too, hold the wool in the right hand and feed the orifice with the left thumb and forefinger’s pinch, but there has been at least as much pulling back with the right hand as there has been drawing forward with the left. This sort of drafting has never seemed to create a definite drafting triangle, although the physics of spinning will always create something of a triangle. The fibers that get caught in the yarn, while flowing from a mass of fibers, are always drawn towards the point of the pinch, which creates the triangluar effect. It has made some very lovely yarn too - but I haven’t been satisfied with the evenness of the yarn and I haven’t been able to spin much finer than 27 or 28 wpi. This plies up for me into a yarn that knits up at 4 stitches per inch. Again, a satisfactory yarn, one I’ll knit with frequently. But.

and isn’t there always a “but”?

Ever since I read Handspinning, Dyeing and Working With Merino and Superfine Wools by Margaret Stove, I’ve wanted to spin a really fine merino single. I’ve spun and spun, trying over the fold, from short lengths of merino top - but have never been able to spin even, thin, fine singles. Then, while watching the BWS as she gently plucked those fibers from her supply, I could suddenly feel how to draw the fibers out to keep that thin, fine, even yarn winding onto the bobbins.

I didn’t get a chance to try it till yesterday morning after I’d wound off the Wensleydale, but when I sat down with the merino it was as if I had always know what to do. First, I use a much smaller piece of the top. I split it lengthwise 4 times, and some of those lengths I split again as I am spinning. My right hand holds the fibers gently though with a slight pinch at about 3 inches back - the length of the individual fibers. The left thumb and forefinger pinch out a small ammount of fibers - what the right amount of fibers feels like - so I don’t pinch too many or too few. The right hand draws the fibers towards the orifice. I let the thin width of fibers slide across the pads of my other fingers, watching and noting how wide and thick (or I should say, narrow and thin) it is. I experimented with how much twist to put into the yarn and decided that I would pump the treadle twice while the thin bundle of fibers is drawn out about 4 inches, but I still have my drive band on the large whorl of HeyBaby . Then I release my left hand pinch and, using a fingered, worsted draw, I slide that thumb&finger up along the fibers, just ever so slightly ahead of the twist as it travels up to my right-hand. It takes considerably less time to do this than it takes to type it out.

It’s such a subtle difference, but I can best describe it as using my left hand more actively and keeping my right hand more passive. And it is making the prettiest fine yarn. What a breakthrough for a new spinner.

Now, for the $64,000 question. Why is it advised to wind the fine yarns on a half full bobbin? I know I read in Stove’s book (which I don’t own, only borrowed via InterLibrary Loan) that I should - but I can’t remember why she urged it.

There. A good reference question for the librarian.

The other good question will be ... how much spinning will I have to do to make 4 ounces of something?

posted by Bess | 6:39 AM


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Thursday, April 03, 2003  

Some days are red letter days. Just darn near perfect days. Today was one for me. What was so great about today? Just read:

· Slept great after getting a phone call from the PABDOS the sailor boy.
· It was warm enough to open the windows - and go barefoot
· Skeined up the other 112 yards of Wensleydale
· Spun the merino at 40 wpi !!!!!
· Was escorted off the farm by the Bald Eagle
· Didn’t have anything wrong with my teeth
· Got a phone call from His Wizardness Todd (who helped me set up an ftp program that bypasses blogger non-functional one so I can put up pictures here)
· Talked to Barbara Gentry at Stony Mountain Farms, who assured me I can, indeed, spin Suffolk sheep fleece (and teach 12 year old 4H girls to do so with their fleeces so they can then learn to dye yarn, knit or crochet rugs for their bedroom and enter them in the State Fair).
· Had dinner with my soulsister Hannah and her two little girls
· Had the house cleaned by SomebodyElse
· Plucked the skeins of blue wool off the cherry tree when I got home
· Could still spin at 40 wpi tonight, proving this was not just a fluke

This is just about a perfect day.

Oh - and by the way, don't you dare think my kitchen counters ever really look like that - they were just cleared off for the photo op.

posted by Bess | 8:02 PM


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Rats. still no pictures and no word from the help desk.

eh. Computers.

How fortunate for me that nothing can bring me down today - even a visit to the dentist - because we got a phone call from PerfectAngelBabyDarlingOnlySon last night - our sailor boy - who is fine and happy and healthy and may even be coming home soon. It's been a long time since we'd heard from him and the past week it's been hard for me to be patient (read stoic, here). And his voice was strong and glad - and that is enough for any mother to feel like floating. Life is good.

Spinning is good too. I have plied half of the ... no I've actually plied almost all the Wensleydale. It will probably spin up to 300 yards - and I am guessing that won't be enough to make anything. I had envisioned a lacy shawl first and I thought I had bought 8 ounces, but maybe I only bought 4. I long ago tore off the part of the tag that had the weight on it, to give the supplier's name and address to someone. So unless I use the kitchen scale I don't really know how much I have.

Ha! what's good about all this?

Well, the yarn is beautiful. It's dyed in a color called High Tide. I have a gut feeling I could find this color again. It just looks like a readily found commercial blending job. It is mostly a deep deep royal ...or medium value navy blue with yellow and warm red fibers carded in. It's very very pretty and also shiny, as is the nature of Wensleydale. Spun into singles the blended colors seemed to disappear and when I knit up a little of the singles the yarn developed a grayish cast. Not surprising, since Wensleydale produces a halo not unlike mohair. I love the blue, I am not really interested in the gray. But once the yarn was plied those reds and yellows sort of popped out. I've a 120 yard skein of it fluttering from the wild cherry tree outside and another slightly longer ammount on the bobbin ready to skein and wash and hang up. So, say I have 250 yards. Knit on something between size 11-15 needles I ought to get 3 stitches to the inch. Might go for 2.5 if I can find a really cobwebby pattern. I think the yarn would be too bulky for a scarf. hmmmm.

Ah then - I will just have to knit a bit and let the yarn tell me what it wants to be. Just think - off to commune with a ball of handspun wool - who could ask for more?

posted by Bess | 6:50 AM


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Wednesday, April 02, 2003  

A while back I had opportunity to play with clay and glazes. After saturating all my friends and family with mugs and dinnerware and tea sets - and of course, completely filling my own kitchen shelves, cabinets, and dishwasher with my own wares - there wasn't much left to do but branch out to the very walls of the house.

This is the backsplash in the kitchen - and I call it my “Tess of the d'Urbervilles" wall. Although Tess was a wheat harvester and not a shepherdess, this gal's obviously going to be led astray by the cavalier (surely nouveau riche - for who else but an upstart would put Tudor wings on a castle?) – but then, a shepherdess in a knitting blog is certainly more appropriate. She sits beneath a stylized Tree of Life inspired by Jacobean Crewel embroidery. There are plenty of symbolic critters beneath the soil, supposedly signifying the corrupting influences that will culminate in her ruin.

I painted this over the course of 11 months in 1994. At first I could only work on it when I could spread all the tiles out on the floor and my biggest worry about the thing was whether the tree of life would fit in the space between the kitchen cabinets. Once the cartoon had been drawn I could work on it in sections.

Here's a close-up of the tree.

Happily I completed it in November of ‘94.

posted by Bess | 5:11 PM


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Two of my complaints to the help desk at blogger got answered today - and they said I can't post the May garden tour photos because I don't have the exact correct folder in my ftp file. Well maybe so - I'm way new to all this coding stuff. But I tried to post some photos of my handpainted tile wall (the one in the kitchen) here, on the original blog, and got the broken link box too. Well, I'll see if it posts at lunch time on the fast machines at the library. I'm finally discplining myself to do my writing in a .doc file - so much easier to reconstruct them.

AT LAST! My sweater class has joined sleeves to body and will be working on the yokes. These always go so surprisingly fast. With one student the yoke will be plain with only a stripe of varigated yarn like a sort of necklace after the 2nd decrease so she didn't have to figure out any pattern math. The other student will join sleeves, decrease 4 stitches and then her 6 stitch pattern will fit neatly into the yoke area. I rarely knit myself when teaching so I merely joined sleeves to Sigvaldi's body, but now I can get going on the yoke. I don't want this sweater lingering over the summer. Next Tuesday is the Tuesday Night Knitter's night and I've told my students I will help them with their yokes if they have any difficulties - I reeeeeeealy hope we can do the finishing bits the following week.

posted by Bess | 6:55 AM


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Tuesday, April 01, 2003  

For the 5th time I tried to knit a lace square in Barbara Walker's afghan book and this time I actually got through one complete repeat of the pattern - only to screw up on the very next row. I'm puzzled why this is so difficult for me. And I'm a little puzzled why I'm knitting this square anyway. I don't like the design. In fact, I don't like most of the lace designs in this book. So why don't I just forget it and knit a different lace square. hmmm. well. maybe I shall.

Mostly I'm still reeling in a sort of sugar/fat hangover, the byproduct of yesterday's birthday feasting. We tend to celebrate via eating in this family anyway. DH is a passionate lover of food and I'm no dilettante myself. At least I can say that I don’t eat KrispyKreme donuts. (bleh) It will be good to go back to work today and eat only nibbly things, and fortunately, I will meet with my sweater knitters tonight so I can skip dinner altogether or eat one of those portion controlled frozen concoctions. And visit the gym, for goodness sake!

HeyBaby is set up in the living room again so I can sit down whenever I amble through and spin a bit.

I see on Fervid that Jahara is having trouble with Blogger too. I can’t post photos of the May garden - they just show up as a box with a red x in it. And I can never remember who to send my questions to - BlogspotPlusor Blogger Pro. anyway I complained a week ago and nada. I’ve always expected things to go wrong on the web before they went right so I tend to put up with a lot of errors and mistakes. But I wonder if there has been some sudden burgeoning of blogs on Blogger that is crashing their servers or if it is something lazier.

Eh. thank goodness I never have such complicated unanswerable problems when I knit.

posted by Bess | 7:22 AM