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


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Sunday, February 29, 2004  

So sunshine and impending guests got me going yesterday and large quantities of dirt are no longer sprinkled around the house. (I fear a bit of it got into my lungs - Claritin time for me.) BD was also prompted by the turn of the planet and now most of the chuckholes in the road are filled with Crush-&-Run. C&R is sort of blueish gray, which contrasts vividly with the beige of Tidewater Virginia soil. But one no longer needs a neck brace to drive faster than 10 mph on our lane.

D&P arrived in the afternoon and immediately we hillbillied it, by separating the men from the women, with the guys sitting down before the computer and the gals picking up knitting needles. Of course this is not a gender thing, merely individual interests finding companionship in like-minded souls. Yeah, right In the evening we feasted upon perch and rockfish, courtesy of LD who said we can continue to eat like this till late March.

The house is asleep now - always a compliment to the hostess, when her guests can find comfort in her home. I think I shall pull out HeyBaby and see what I can do with that silk.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


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Saturday, February 28, 2004  

Made it through the first 3 days of Lenten attempts at responsible Internet use. Don’t think I didn’t feel the strain, but it felt good. too; the way doing exercise the right way feels good. And yesterday I made it all the way to quittin’ time, which was about quarter past 5 without logging onto any personal web sites. Usually I stay till 6 on Fridays, but I’d been there since before 9, so I clipped about 45 minutes off the day at the other end.

I am friends with a couple who have been married for 100 years. She once told me that they have a list of arguments they like to pick up and play with whenever there is nothing else to talk about. (That was a weird thought for me, but I see that BD and I have them too, now that we’ve been married for 30 years - didn’t take long for us) One of them was “Is time your friend, or is time your enemy?” She takes defense - that time is her enemy, never hanging around long enough to do it all, while he says it is your friend, allowing you to budget and schedule and fit everything in. Sounds like the classic engineer married to artist sort of thing. Or an FP married to an SJ - which, in fact, is what BD and I are. But I like the “time is your friend” argument and I adore time budgeting - whenever I get around to doing it. It’s usually something I flirt with, rather than make use of. But in this early flirting stage, as if it were the springtime of a budding romance, I will indulge myself by being efficient and productive and useful. Later, like pansies in July’s killer heat, my efforts tend to collapse, but one does not look too far ahead, whether gardening or falling in love, nor need I spend much time considering how sloppy I will become later, while I put my life in order today.

Live in the present - makes a good bumper sticker.

And when the urge to fritter hit me late in the day, I went into the stacks and shelf-checked - which is librarianese for putting the books back in their correct order. Keep in mind, where the public goes, chaos follows and the most well meaning of folk will put books back on the shelf anywhere in the mistaken belief that they are helping us keep the place looking nice.

The bonus in this package was that I discovered oh-so-many delicious titles I had forgotten we owned. Man - we have a cool collection. I wish, oh wish, I had one separate body that was just for reading. In fact, I don’t really need more than an upper torso. I could leave it in the library at night and it could start with the 000.000's and read its way through to the 999.999's. While tidying up one stack I found this and this

Humph. I bought both of those books intending to read them myself. I’ve never read either. Occupational hazzard - like the cobbler’s children, who never have any shoes.

One bonus from making a change in the daily routine is that it helps you remember to do other things you intended to do - like, going to the gym after work. Friday at 5, at our gym, is a great time to go because only the diehards are there, everyone else is kickin’ back or on a date or just someplace else, leaving all the machines available. You don’t want to show up at 5:15 on a weekday - every guy and gal in town is there and they must all work on that side of town, because they got there before you and signed up for all the good stuff. That’s why I usually go during my lunch or early before work. But on Fridays there’s plenty of choice and no sense that somebody is wishing you’d hurry up and get off that elliptical machine, fer cryin’ out loud, ya been there forever!

I spun some of the bright turquoise silk yesterday, which gave me time to grow worried that I won’t have enough of the many-color-changes singles (on bobbin #1) to ply with this one-of-each-color stuff (bobbin #2). I didn’t finish the br. trq. and there is still plum, bronze and golden-orange to spin. I’m thinking I’ll put B #1 back on the wheel and spin up that other segment of roving, plus all the odd little bits that contained too much of two colors to use with B #2. Maybe if I know how much of the first stuff there is I won’t be so anxious about the second stuff - at least, I’ll have the option of spinning less of the bright turquoise and plums and more of the bronze and oranges.

Talking about colors probably doesn’t do anything but give people a headache, but making myself write it out here really helps me work through some puzzles. The big joke on me is that the more I looked at the samples I knit up last weekend, (see below) the more I liked the second sample - the one where I matched the blues - and now I wish I’d chosen that spinning process over the one I’m doing now.

But I refuse to be worried or disappointed. This is how one learns. I will know what I like better, next time. I’m keeping fairly good notes on this and I expect to do more ‘discovery” spinning in the future. It’s such a rich feeling to know there’s so much more ahead to learn.

And now I really must go vacuum. D&P will be here for lunch and I don’t want this week’s accumulation of dog hair and dust to be part of the welcoming committee.

posted by Bess | 6:15 AM


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Friday, February 27, 2004  

I almost made it through the work day without “just checking” but when quarter to 5 arrived, I couldn’t resist. I’d been incredibly productive yesterday, but was also pretty bushed - with no 15 minute task left to do. Or rather, with no task I wanted to do. There are always tasks in the library - it’s like being the parent of toddlers - work is never completed, only little bits of it. So I could have worked on cataloging or (ugh) sorting through the paper heaps on my desk. Some of that paper has been massaged for months. After an ordinary day of ticking off items on the list, a 15 minute cataloging session wouldn’t be too obsessive - but after a day like yesterday I really did need something different; a.k.a. soothing. So next time I reach the end of a intense day like yesterday, I’ll spend sometime shelf checking or even browsing through some of the older titles. I’m not out on the floor enough as it is. I just might discover something in that treasure trove that is a library.

Wicked Ellen - to tempt me with more fibers. But Jen’s silk arrived already. And the Interlacements Silks are spinning up swiftly. I’m through all the teal and purple of bobbin #2. What a surprise. The purple section was the least saturated with color - even some white in it - and as it spun out it became not only paler, but bluer. I’ve noticed secondary colors are like that anyway - often they’ll separate on contact with the wet fiber, with one pigment moving both faster and farther along the length of the fibers, so where you tried to dye something with a band of yellow followed by a band of purple, what you get is yellow, green, purple, and blue. It’s endlessly fascinating and the object is to learn to manage that sort of thing so that you get those colors when you want them. Though again, I can make the parent analogy, because no matter how much skillful manipulation we undertake, there is an inherent individuality to all things, both human, and artistic, and you will destroy both your sanity and those others if you insist they be what they are not.

Just in case you don’t remember what I”m doing - I’ve spun one bobbin of hand painted yarn “straight, merely allowing the color changes to occur whenever they showed up in the sequence of the entire roving. For the second bobbin I’ve separated all the colors and have spun one long length of each color. The concept is to ply the two and knit a fabric that goes through each of the different colors once, from darkest of the cool colors through the lightest of the warm colors. Each single segment of color will be flecked with all the different colors.

This second bobbin is filling up swiftly and I have yet to spin the warm colors. The first bobbin is not full, but I have a little more of the roving left. There are also little bits of the stuff that had too much of the adjacent color in them to legitimately go into whatever main color I was spinning at the time. They can go into the flecking single. There is some chance I can finish this whole project this weekend. Once I’ve plied everything I can get a mileage count and know how much yarn there is. That will determine the project. I only hope it doesn’t end up a darn old scarf. Well. It won’t. If there isn’t enough for a tank top I’ll just spin up some plain silk and knit a weskit type top, using the pretty colors in the front and the plain for the back. Heck, I could even buy some plain silk - that sounds even better.

Whew. Well. That’s a relief. If there is one thing I hate, it’s not being able to wear what I make. Mind, now, I wear scarves, but I don’t want this stuff as a scarf.

I also finished the first of the novelty scarves up to, but not including the little tassel. I want to thread the ends of the tassel through a bead and I think I’ll commission 2 fimo beads from an artist friend of mine. The beads would need to be light and have large holes to use with this funky yarn and polymer clay seems the perfect medium. I can make fimo beads, but she makes such beautiful ones. And I’m deep into knitting these days, not claywork.

I went straight from that scarf to the Barbie colors scarf. I bought these yarns for my little goddaughters and hope to get two little girl sized scarves out of the lot. Besides being the colors these girls like to wear, they are both complimentary and appropriate for 5 and 7 year olds. And kiddie scarves are so much shorter than adult ones.

And happy news from D&P. They’ll be here Saturday for a sleep-over! And we are just hick enough for the girls to play with the girls and the boys to do stuff outdoors. LD promises us either rockfish or catfish, depending on the catch, and P is going to become a spinner. I think I”ll start her on the Falkland Island stuff. It’s so obliging and obedient. Maybe do a bit of fiber dyeing too. Yes. Sounds perfect - only, this is not a Sheryl week so I best be off to clean house!


posted by Bess | 5:54 AM


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Thursday, February 26, 2004  

Whew! Made it through the first day of Lent successfully. I can gauge the amount of idle browsing I’ve been doing by how difficult it was to resist doing it. Interestingly, my urges to misbehave seem to follow my biological clock. It peaked around 3 p.m., right when I get that sugar craving. Resistance not being futile, I had an apple and took a walk around the building, and got back to work. The other strong urge came about half an hour before the end of my workday. It took real conscious effort to refrain from the “It’s so close to quittin’ time, I may as well just go ahead and quit.” behavior. Man - I didn’t know how bad I was till I stopped being bad.


That ought to be a country song.

Anyway, I feel like a 12-step program attendee - with a strong urge to stand up and say “My name is Bess and I’m an Internet junkie.” - who’s been dry a whole day, still has the shakes, but is also feeling the dawning glow of detox setting in. Wish me luck for the rest of this project.

In the mail yesterday was a package of gorgeous undyed silk top. The weekend holds such delights for me. Two days of fiber joy, including digging out the fiber dyes, plus the chance that I’ll have a partner in crime, with the arrival of D&P on Saturday. P doesn’t know what she’s in for (till she reads this, that is).

I’ve been spinning the Interlacements silk in single color blocks to ply with the other bobbin, full of merely large color blocks. I can’t wait to see how it plies, and knits, up. I can’t wait to see if I have enough to make a tank top. (Doubtful, but one never knows) In fact, what am I doing here when I could be spinning? Silk is lots of fun to spin. It’s very long and very strong. It spins a lot faster than wool, but if the twist ever gets past the drafting triangle you really have to stop, unwind and begin again. Even my weight trained forearms are not strong enough to tug the twist out of a too-thick blob of silk.

The first silk I ever spun was done in sticky hot October - when one is wearing shorts and the wispy bits got all over my bare legs. Now they’re just all over my clothes, giving me a colorful scarecrow sort of look. I’m not sure if it’s because we are in a different season, or if it is because I’m a more skilled spinner, but I’m finding it a lot easier to spin than I did during that first attempt. Already I’m lusting for more and more and moresilk - bwa ha haaaa!

Whew. Better go really do this - not just write about it. Just about finished the first of the novelty yarn scarves. It’s short - 65 yards of Cleo, knit on size 17 needles, into a 9 stitch strip, makes about 5.5 feet of scarf with enough left over to make a little tassel. I’ll dig up the name of the yarn later this a.m. It’s made up of a heavily slubbed yarn, a sparkle yarn, and is wrapped in several strands of what looks like white sewing thread. The idea was to knit something lacy that could be draped around the shoulders and pinned - a look I saw on a lovely woman I met while visiting Jen 2 weeks ago. Her scarf was much longer though - and drapier. But I think this will work as a spring look. Photos when I get them.

Ta - HeyBaby is calling me.

posted by Bess | 5:32 AM


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Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

Today begins one of my favorite seasons in the liturgical year. Lent. That time of ritual, but private, sacrifice, when you have an opportunity to fiddle with the quality of your soul by adjusting the routine of your life. My own spiritual history does not include much in the way of church until I was 7, when my grandmother ordered my father to see that I went through the classes and ceremony of First Communion. At that time, the nearest Catholic church was in the city, actually in the slums, of south Richmond. What I remember most about the weekly classes was the drugstore that was still open, in spite of Virginia’s Blue Laws. They sold the real jaw breaker candy - the sort that changed colors in your mouth - and on Sunday’s too. What I remember most about the ceremony was that we were given little pictures strung on a ribbon that had been blessed by the bishop. My memory says that we were told if we were wearing them when we died, we’d go straight to heaven. What a rotten thing to do to a 7-year old. My god - the first prayer any child is taught is the one that goes “and if I die before I wake”! Fer cryin’ out loud - who would have thought sleep would be so darned dangerous? You can believe, I spent many a night prowling around my bedroom looking for my magic pictures so that I could wear them in case of death by sleep.

Once I had fulfilled my grandmother’s requirements, we fell back into our lapsed Catholic state. Daddy was the Catholic, mind you. My mother was the only Druid I knew, in 1950's Richmond. I knew she had not been brought up in the CC, and once, when I asked her what church she did go to as a girl she answered vaguely “Oh, some Protestant church, I suppose.” I loved those shadowy answers of hers. They usually meant that whatever I was asking wasn’t all that important and I could quit worrying about it. And worry I did.

In those days, school began with the Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem, and Scripture; that is, a reading from the bible. All the kids seemed to know these stories and know right where to turn in that mysterious book, to find them. They all went to Sunday School and Bible School, and while I felt sorry for them that they had to go to more school than I did, especially in the summertime, I also worried that when judgement day came, I’d be found wanting. Burning pits for me, little heathen. I did a whole lot of praying at night, begging God to not punish me because my parents didn’t go to church. I also prayed for the freckles to disappear - why did so many grownups comment on freckled faces back then?! - and tried to cut deals about undone homework.

Eventually my parents sent me to a Catholic high school where I got to practice rituals to my heart’s content. Though I went there kicking and screaming (Lawsee they had the ugliest uniform - can you imagine, knee covering box pleated skirts, bobby socks and saddle oxfords, in the Twiggy era of mini-skirts and Papagalo shoes?), my memories of it now are all good and I even learned to like the place well enough while I was there.

But I have always been the sort who plucked what I could use and left the rest, and eventually I did that with organized religion. And one of the things I like best out of the old CC ritual was the Lenten sacrifice. I love it that I have yet another opportunity to get it right. Endless beginnings. Yep, yep, an ENFP’s earthly paradise.

My take on this ritual is that it not only gives me an opportunity to put the brakes on something I am doing that I probably do in excess - or even that I know, out right, is a bad habit - but it also expects me to think a little about the nature of sacrifice, each time I successfully resist temptation. (Mind, now, I expect to resist it throughout the entire 7.5 weeks before Easter.) The idea is to remember that One who made the ultimate sacrifice and to rehearse a teensy bit, within my soul, in case I am ever asked to do the same. I don’t expect I would be able to do so with such dignity, humility and loving kindness. But I also hope I would at least not shrink in cowardice.

This year I am giving up using the Internet at work for personal stuff. It’s such a hideous temptation to slip on-line “just to check my email” and end up staying there way beyond what is truly proper. This is a habit I want to break - not just temporarily, but flat out eliminate. I have no problem with using my lunch hour, or staying late, or coming in early, to load scans. The machines at work are intended for public use and staff is also part of the public. But no more “just checking the weather” or “just checking the forums” before I settle down to work. Misuse of the Internet (not porn stuff, just irresponsible behavior) is a real occupational hazzard for librarians and other office workers. Especially since we do need to use it frequently, in a sort of wandering browsing manner, to help people find information they want. But that is a truly different thing from personal use and in my case I want to eliminate a kind of buzzing off from integrity that I fell into when a stupid IssueThatWillNotDie began eroding my attitude about my work. Well, even that issue looks like it’s going to be put to rest and by golly, so can my buzz-off behavior.

On a lighter note - I found this on Catherine’s site - and though I’m not a serous cat person - I do like the Aristo- prefix.

It's all about class, my dear.
Aristocat! You're a sophisticated cat, proud to
hold your head up high even when somebody ruins
your day. You do have your bad hairball days,
but instead of freaking out over something,
you'd much rather take it in stride and move

What kind of cat are you?
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posted by Bess | 6:59 AM


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Tuesday, February 24, 2004  

I finally got in a workout with TthePT yesterday. Whew! She did me in. I was hungry all afternoon and when I got home I crashed at 8:30 and didn’t wake up till morning. Do you know what she made me do?!? (No, of course not.)


Yes. Well, there is a right way to do them where it doesn’t really hurt - though it was a bit tough on the wrists. We’re going to work on that. But at the end of the session she was still reeling from my dirty look of astonishment, when I realized what she expected me to do. I bet she’s laughing still. Nevertheless, doing a push-up the right way with someone making sure your form is dead on really is a delicious sensual experience. Really!

Today being Tuesday - and Tuesday meaning WW - this is a timely subject. I am having a very difficult time with maintenance and missing the weight sessions has been a part of the difficulty. Not only do I not come from a physically active family, BD hates the gym and sends out subtle negative messages about my going there. He’s a natural man and the concept of lifting weights is creepy to him. His idea of weight lifting is FIREWOOD in all it’s permutations, from cutting down trees to splitting the logs to hauling, stacking and bringing it in. (if only he’d sweep up the sawdust afterwards.) He’s got a point, but firewood puts splinters in your fingers when it isn’t smashing them. Besides, it’s guy work and in our house no guy has ever done gal work. I don’t do firewood. We heat only with firewood, so it’s a year round chore. Good for him.

In addition to all the other people I can blame this on - going to the gym takes a good chunk out of the day. If I’m serious about working all the muscle groups, each session takes about an hour and a half. So now I’m screwing with the lunch schedule at work. And I’m tired. And it’s so cold outside. I get to thinking I’ll just go home after work.

Yeah. Right.

I did some serious soul searching about this last week and realized that I really want this fitness. Without it, I notice little aches, little wobbles, a little less ability to move through the world. I want this most of all. It has to be #1 priority in my daily routine. I got in some good workouts and was primed for more lessons yesterday. They don’t come cheap - but my goodness they feel so good!

There are some eating issues too - Some behaviors that shock me with their familiarity and destructiveness; with the meager pleasure they bring when my subconscious was so sure they would make me happy. Well. It is an ongoing process. Suffice it to say that I have gained beyond what is allowable in the wiggle-room that WW gives you. I have one week to reverse that - so in fact, I am back on the weight loss journey. And somewhere inside me there is a spark of resentment, a kind of naughty child who I am so sick of disciplining, I’ve quit paying attention to it. Now, behind my back it’s gotten into more trouble. Time for the parent in me to get back on the job. I have to pull that bad child out and admit that it’s my responsibility. Enforce the rules - break bad.

Well - I had been warned. It’s a lifetime journey.


I didn’t do a lick on anything fiberish yesterday, after spinning up the first segment of silk top. Alas - What stupidity! I forgot to make any notation about what color section I started with. If I want to be able to ply blue with blue and gold with gold, I have to begin spinning the second bobbin with the same color I used to start the first. I hadn’t made a note of what I started with because I figured I’d know by looking at the color I ended with. Only, somehow, when I split the long length of roving in half, I didn’t split it in the correct place. This second length doesn’t have a gold segment on either end!!!

This has me pretty frustrated but it also forces an issue that I hinted about yesterday. I have a limited amount of this stuff to begin with. Nothing to spare. So I am going to separate the colors, spinning all the cool blues and turquoise and purples first and then all the warm bronzes and golds. I will let the color change sequences be completely dominated by the first bobbin while letting the cool or warm shadows be created by the second bobbin.

As for how much I will have when done? Ahh well. All I can tell you is that I am spinning a yarn that knits on size 3 needles at 5 stitches to the inch. This is something I’ve never had happen with a commercial yarn - getting such a big gauge with such little needles. I like the fabric well enough - though I think I would have liked something a little thinner. But spinning such fine yarn is a new enough experience for me, I got nervous about it and spun a thicker, more familiar size single. Besides, the color work decisions have so dominated the problem-solving parts of my brain, that worrying about gauge-math has been relegated to the future. I suspect there won’t be enough yarn to make a tank top but I may be wrong and I wouldn’t have missed this fun discovery process for all the tank tops in Hechts.

What I did do was to get on the phone and order 8 more ounces of un-dyed silk top from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I will dye my own and make sure I have what I want.

And finally, I offer you this, from the NYT. It seems every sort of needle art is getting press these days, not just knitting. And for $425, you, too, can have 6 weeks of instruction in the mysteries of garment construction! Perhaps I ought not sound so cynical, but lawsee! Reading about the trendiness of what used to be sneered at as demeaning women’s work doesn’t sit well on my stomach. Ahh well, there. It’s just a sign that I’ve packed a slew of years into my sack. I took my sewing lessons from the Home Ec teacher at GW Highschool when I was 12. And my mama didn’t pay any $425 either - nor even the $ equivalent of that. If she paid $20 it would surprise me.

Where did the time go?

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


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Monday, February 23, 2004  

All Spinning Talk

I fell in love with these glorious hanks of silk roving, dyed by Interlacements last month, when I was at Stony Mt. Fibers. Alas, the predominant color is blue and I look like death, unwarmed, in blue. In my next life I will come back as a blue gal - with either pale blonde hair and that cool skin, or maybe one of those luminous white skinned brunettes. I will be able to wear candy pink, lavender, all the colors that L.L.Bean makes their clothes in - I will be a Winter.

Mind, now, I love the autumnal colors, love being born in the autumn, and am secretly pleased when I put on an olive sweater and my skin looks like cream. But these heavy colors are a real weight to wear from longing-for-spring-late February all the way through to sweat-your-guts-out late June. Once the sun hits its summer apogee, I can wear those desert colors and look just fine and quite au courant.

(Yes, Yes, this is going to be about spinning, just hold your horses)

So - here I am, unable to resist this stuff - and at the same time, not really interested in spinning and knitting it up for someone else. I don't want this to be a scarf, either. I want a tank top out of it with the color changes in places that put the warm tones up near my face and all the blues and pinks down around my waist. A spun-to-order yarn. What a challenge.

I have 8 oz of this stuff, dyed in two different, but similar, colorways. Color 206 has blues, purples, a tiny bit of teal green, bronze and orange.
Color 213 has blues, a little lime green, strawberry pink, Barbie pink and dark lemon yellow.
No matter how you add it up, though, the warm colors are a far smaller percentage than the cool colors.

I really like the way the Noro yarns have those long stretches of color before a change comes in. I've even thought about buying them, and when I see them knit up I adore them. But I have a visceral reaction to those yarns in their skeins. There is a black darkness that literally rejects even my eye?s touch, much less my finger's. I don't know what it is, but I suspect I shall never buy Noro yarns. (Was I the slave of a Japanese weaver in a past life?)

But I would like to try to spin a yarn that did what theirs does - move gradually from one color to another. That means spinning two bobbins of long lengths of the colors in the same sequence - or - be careful Bess that you start spinning the second bobbin at the same end with the same sequence of colors. Here is a swatch of that sort of spinning.

Interesting, but a little dull, maybe? At least, I know I can spin something with more energy to it. And as I worked with this I began to ponder whether it wouldn't be better to just buy some silk yarn and dye it in long segments. How to lay the yarn out to do it that way would be a real challenge. I don't have an industrial dye shop. My studio al fresco is the picnic table in the back yard, by the gas grill. Just how big would the skein have to be? Would I have to re-skein the stuff around two chairs set 10 feet apart? An interesting puzzle, that is - but might be worth finding an answer to it.

Another technique would be to draft lengths of the silk from each colorway together. The subtle changes would make for more of a speckled yarn. Here's a swatch where I pre-drafted the two strips with the blues lined up pretty much with other blues.

I like this only - the pinks overpower the oranges and give this more of a bluish cast than I want.

Here is a swatch where I matched the blues with any other color but blue - but you see - that makes the entire swatch pretty much blue, with a small stripe of carnival colored speckled yarn.


So, I'm getting some interesting fabrics, but nothing I would wear. The worst part of this is that no matter what I end up doing I can later think of things I ought to have done. What I chose to do was to take colorway 206 and go with the first technique - taking the entire roving and creating only a few sequences of the color change - and spinning long lengths of each color. Now that I'm writing about this I realize there was nothing that prevented me from separating the warm colors from the cool colors and spinning all the blues and turquoise and purples first, then the oranges, bronzes, and yellows. That would have ensured I had a yarn that went from the blues and purples at the hem to the golds at the neckline.

Well - too late now. I've spun up half the colorway already.

Or is it?

I could spin the other half with all golds and then all blues - and ply it with the first single. There was going to be some variation anyway, because no two segments of any given color contain the same amount of fiber, and besides, my spinning isn't exact enough to guarantee the thickness will always be the same.

Well, I have all day to think about it because there shan't be enough time this morning to do more than finish out the first bobbin.

And then - there is the question - how much silk do I need to knit a tank top?

I shall write about that tomorrow.

Lawsee, this is fun!

posted by Bess | 6:53 AM


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You are Woodstock!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

So - I wasn't sure about this, but when I went back and changed the answers that I was iffy about, it came up the same. Well, I always have thought I was different.

Anyway, the only way to make yesterday a more fun fiber day would have been for it to be followed today by another one. I've got some serious thoughts about spinning I want to share, but I want them illustrated so I'll post that when I get to work, where there is a scanner. So - an update sometime between 10 and noon.

posted by Bess | 6:14 AM


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Sunday, February 22, 2004  

When I began knitting a few years ago there were so few yarn shops around - or that I knew of - that I could only buy through catalogs. At that time, Patternworks was the best of the best, though, so I didn’t mind all that much. Since then, yarn shops have blossomed like daisies in the springtime. From a single, intimidating little west end shop in Richmond, to now, when there are three between my house and my mother’s, plus one within a mile of BD’s favorite chilli restaurant in Fredericksburg, and now, one in my favorite playground, Williamsburg. Plus any number of assorted tiny shops that carry a small line of this or that between here and there. Even the Ben Franklin’s are carrying Patons in all their Richmond shops, so if I need a ball of plain worsted weight merino wool - I need not drive any further than Mechanicsville..

I finally got down to the Knitting Sisters. Wow! What fun! Of course, any day spent playing with BH is going to be fun, but a day yarn shopping - whew! Heaven. The shop is easy to find, at Kingsmill Shopping Center on Rt. 60 east of the historic district of Williamsburg. We got an early start and pulled in about 10:30. The moment I stepped into the shop I felt expanded. My arms just spread wide and I said “here I am!” to the lady behind the counter. She laughed and said something like “you’re in the right spot”. There was already a good crowd inside, and 4 employees were everywhere helping and moving and putting up. Shelves line the walls, but there are baskets and baskets of yarn all over the place. A long series of tables runs down the center of the shop, and baskets are on and beneath that too. This gave the smallish shop plenty of visibility and the sense that it was bigger than it really is. It easily accommodated the crowd of, oh say 15 shoppers, including the one with the stroller.

The owners are really glad people. Well, most yarn shop owners I meet are happy - they ought to be, with knitting being so popular. But these women were really happy. The welcoming lady at the cash register gave us a quick rundown of the shop layout - “putting up new summer yarns along this wall - 20% off all the winter stuff in that corner”. And everything was priced.

If you are a fan of novelty yarns, KS has the biggest selection I have ever seen. Since I was also seeking novelty yarn scarf supplies I was particularly glad - but if you don’t like novelty yarns - be forewarned. They have them all. Prices are standard. Selection truly can’t be beat. And for the Just good wool yarn crowd, they carry Brown Sheep, Manos, Mountain Colors, Filatura di Crosa, Aurora8... hmm ... you get the picture. I got the feeling they did some serious market research before they opened up and I suspect they had strong financial backing because for a shop that’s been open only 6 months, they have the look and feel of a long established concern.

Something I really liked was the generosity of the other customers. Everyone was polite but nobody hesitated to comment on a yarn you might be holding, if she had knit with it already. “That makes a beautiful scarf.” or “I was at the Knitting Basket yesterday ... “ (Don’t you just love knitters who go to one yarn shop on Friday and another one 60 miles away on Saturday?) There was a cubby of Trendsetter ribbon that shimmered like water and one lady said “I made a shawl of that. It looks like Monet painting.” When pressed a little harder, she said she knit the shawl with fringe out of one skein, though she’d used size 50 needles. Of course, it came home with me - the whole “kit”, needles and all. I love Trendsetter yarns and colors, but they are so expensive I mostly knit one skein wonders with them. $29 for the ribbon - $9 for the needles - okay - it’s a luxury item but hey - I deserve it, right?

Sigh. Yes. I did spend a bundle there yesterday. The stash is so exotic I plan to photograph my haul before I start working on it - this is the biggest pile I’ve ever spent on what I would call small items. I’m still a little nervous about it.

Across the sidewalk from the yarn shop is a little gourmet kitchen shop cum wine and bakery. I’m sorry I didn’t get the name, but I am delighted I had the cheesy crab soup. Ooo delicious. With scrumptious bread. Very reasonably priced and hearty enough to keep us going the rest of the day.

Kingsmill Shp. Cntr. is a fun sort of place with little odd shops, a rarity in these country gals’ daily experiences, but we wanted to hit the outlet malls at the other end of town because that is the place to buy things like underwear, etc. So we passed on a leisurely wander and sped out to the west end of town. Still reeling from the yarn shop tab, I only bought what I went there for, but I tried on lovely silk skirts by Jones of New York - even at outlet prices, beyond my budget.

No. That’s not true. I would have bought that magnificent floaty skirt of your dreams if there had been a good top for it - but with such a specific combination of colors, the wrong top would have been a disaster. And dag nabbit - the tops they had dyed to work with this colorway were ButtUgly!

So here’s a little diatribe, just so you won’t think I’ve lost my lemon flavor.

What in the name of all that burns a fiery death down below is going on in the minds of the clothing manufacturers? Why won’t they make a simple knee length short skirt to go with their jackets. I personally hate matched pantsuits, thinking they look like women trying to look like men, but I don’t mind other people wearing them. (I might look aside and sort of grimmace, but hey, I can be discreet about it.) So - why not give the rest of us suity types the option of a nice ordinary skirted suit? Not, mind you, some thing with bleepin' ruffles made out of silk tweed, now. Just ordinary no nonsence skirts!! Cripes!

And gorgeous, flowered, floaty, new-car-ad, hair billowing out behind you skirts look like utter crap with a t-shirt!! Even a silk t-shirt! Okay, maybe a size minus 10 teenager can pull it off, (Thank God they don't realize how gorgeous they are) but if you’re going to bother making it in a size 12, 14, even 16!!, fer cryin’ out loud, how about something a little less blockish looking. Now - it’s not as if they didn’t have a clue! There were well cut feminine blouses for other floaty skirts, (the one with the band right over your stomach, honey, to make sure everyone sees that you have not been doing your ab crunches for about 20 years.) So they had the sloper, the design and even the patterns. They just chose to take their prettiest fabric, prettiest skirt (that doesn’t make your stomach project) and put a stupid blockish t-shirt over it.

Who is designing these things?

So - I would have spent huge amounts of money for a skirt with a blouse that worked with it but not half of huge amounts of money for only the skirt.


But I can dream about standing on the green cliff, overlooking the blue ocean, with the breeze blowing my long hair out behind me and billowing my gorgeous skirt between my legs, casting the perfect goddess silhouette against the setting sun.

posted by Bess | 7:45 AM


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Saturday, February 21, 2004  

Today is a shopping day. BH and I are going to Williamsburg; first to check out the new yarn shop and then to hit the outlet malls. I will have 16" size 4 and 7 and 24" size 5 Addi turbos by tonight. We tried to lure K into joining us but she suddenly had one of those weird family things crop up - the sort of thing I totally understand - and had to turn us down.

BH and I want to get to W’burg by 10 so it means me leaving at 8. Not much time to post here and probably not much going on in the brain either. But I do want to record that, while talking to Susan, who makes my hands look like a grown-up's, every other week, I suddenly realized I could do something with my blended merino that was leaving me feeling blah. Just before I plied up all the singles, I spun a little over the fold. That technique made all the colors display (I can't really say “pop out”, which I wish it had done) more distinctly. How I wished I’d begun spinning that way instead of remembering to do so half way through the entire bump. But there is no reason I can’t spin up the second half of this stuff using this technique and then knit some garment in subtle stripes. Two different yarns but a perfect match! Thank you Susan, for letting me ramble on.

Here’s a quiz, thanks to Annie - and though I wanted to be this:

turbo charged
You are "turbo" charged.
Fast moving and classy, you get things done with
power and grace. Your expensive tastes can be
deceiving, since what you really value is
quality and efficiency. As you're careening
around those corners in life, finishing a dozen
knitted objects each month, stop and smell the
roses. Don't miss the beauty of process!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Not only was this the result I got the first time through - this is who I really am!

You are interchangeable.
Fun, free, and into everything, you've got every
eventuality covered and every opportunity just
has to be taken. Every fiber is wonderful, and
every day is a new beginning. You are good at
so many things, it's amazing, but you can
easily lose your place and forget to show up.
They have row counters for people like you!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Bess | 6:27 AM


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Friday, February 20, 2004  

NYT's Fall Fashion Wrap-up (click the Interactive Feautre) gives us:


Jeffrey Chow with his coral aran cardigan flung atop a little black dress, his chocolate brown (Bess approves) v-necked long aran pullover and Robin Hood's orange silk tabard beneath a fur shrug. I wonder if appearing in a single show is enough to keep handknits in the Darling category of haute couture.

Ralph Lauren has those big skirts with fitted jackets that were so popular in the late '80's and early '90's. Funny, I have two of them I saved from my young slender 30's and they now fit. Only - my eyes haven't caught up with them as a retro look. I really do prefer the straight skirt stopping just above my knee cap. I can wear pretty much any length skirt, (thank you, Mama, for those legs) , but when I have a choice I go for knee length.

Designers still limited themselves to slate blue, stone, tobacco brown and black, with some white thrown in, except for Anna Sui, who used every color in the spectrum in each outfit. She?s the one who had the raspberry and orange plaid jacket, looking like it was woven out of that recycled silk yarn, with a cream lace blouse beneath and matching raspberry jeans - and such a hat! I really like the hat. In fact, I really like the jacket, which is anything but a fall looking item - it simply begs to have a chiffon skirt beneath it and to be sauntered down the street on a sunshiny spring afternoon.

Speaking of choosing - I did a little shopping yesterday from the racks of last year's summer clothes. Marked down 3 times, $15 dresses, hit the spot. At that price, who cares if they weave perfectly into a coordinated wardrobe? They're bright colors and light fabrics. And I am OhSoReady for springtime.

LD came over and borrowed gardening tools. He can't wait to get potatoes in the ground and I am more than ready to leave the vegetables to him. The flower garden is going to require at least 2 year's effort as it is, just to put it back into party condition. About 15 years ago I came downstairs on my birthday to find, in the livingroom, a brand new garden tiller, a gift from the Ds. It makes my heart warm to think of one of them borrowing it now, to till his own garden. He'll do a far better job than either BD or I ever did. He's the sort who really does like to finish the project, put his tools away and stack all the boxes up neatly. He would never grieve over completion, like his mama does.

BD, otha, was waiting for me as I drove up yesterday, boat packed, hitched to the truck, pacing a bit, and ready for me to help him launch. Yesterday's warm weather was almost too much for him - and even though the boat will have to be hauled on Sunday, he's not about to stay on land when blue skies and 50 degrees are calling to him. I don't blame him - we've had a lot of hard cold this winter and the promise of spring with which these February-thaw days tease us is pretty hard to resist. I remember the first year we were together, we had a week of shorts weather in February, after a Friday night ice storm. BD went out and found me an ancient Western Flyer bicycle, the twin of his, and we pedaled all over Richmond, free as school kids.

Thankee all for the compliments on the silk. A bit more about it - I really like the marled colors the Navajo ply gives but I think I can capture that effect with a 2 ply if I make the color changes a little shorter. I may need to do a lot of sorting if I want to have yarn that will put the colors where I want them (bronze on top, blue on bottom). For sure, though, I?m not ready to pop for a tensioned lazy kate. I made a new drive band out of kitchen string - very thick - and I've been told that this will have an impact on how the yarn turns out. Of course, I'm still so new that everything I do has an impact - but there are almost never any hard and fast expectations from my spinning. I'm still layering basic knowledge, in gossamer thin sheets, into the brain and fingers. It certainly gives spinning a different feel - and for some reason I like the feel of this one better than the band I bought last spring At least it spins that bobbin twice as fast as the large band does.

Anyway - the idea hatching in the brain is that I'll split the long lengths of silk, stack them so they - Oh! Oh! Oh!... THANK YOU Deb Menz! I just remembered a technique she had of drafting two or more colors together before spinning. When you ply these multi hued singles you get what she calls "complex yarns". I love the term. I love the look. Yep, yep. That's what I'll try.

So - look for samples soon.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM


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Thursday, February 19, 2004  

Here's another little sample of spun silk. This was given much more twist, thanks to the new drive band, and Navajo plied - with poor success. The extra twist made the silk kink so I realize I'd need a tensioned lazy kate to manage even a scarf's worth. Better rethink the plying.

posted by Bess | 9:50 AM


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I’m still dreaming about my glorious silk. Since last night was make-up night for the knitting class (due to no-show-snow of Tuesday) I didn’t get home till after 9. Not a great time for this lark to begin a spinning project. Besides, I really wanted to do a tiny sample of one of the blends I got from Spirit Trail Fiberworks on Monday. It’s Clunn Forest, Alpaca and Angora and begs to be spun fine and knit into lace. I made a little 20 yard piece just to see - but I have 4 oz and there will be a lace scarf in my future. It spun swiftly and easily - but I really do have to do something about a shorter drive band for HeyBaby. This morning I will either ply up the merino sitting on my ball winder or just leap into the silk. The 20th is the new moon and perhaps I should wait till tomorrow to begin a new project.

K came by work yesterday with samples from Alice Starmore’s Virtual Yarns. She’d ordered them a year ago and I’ve never forgotten those bits of soft color. At last year’s exchange they ran about $7 a skein - quite reasonable for high end wool. This year they’re running a good bit higher - closer to $9. We’ve dithered and pondered about placing an order - largely because it’s a pretty big commitment for an unknown item. Besides - it’s so darn difficult to choose color - I want them all. What made it easier for me was that I’m all wrapped up in knitting small stranded colorwork items - hats, baby sweaters, etc. so I’m ripe for picking just a few of the sportweight (2ply) yarns and experimenting. If I really need a whole sweater, at least I’ll be experienced with her yarns and be more confident about plunking down the $. Anyway - we’re waiting on one other buddy to decide if she wants to order, then K will handle the paperwork.

Yesterday was an extremely productive day at work and it’s left me feeling so much more energized. Even though the next 6 weeks are truly packed with MustDo activities, they seem to be falling into place in a rather tidy efficient manner. Of course, nothing helps raise the spirits like being effective at your job. All the enui and longing for days off fled as my efforts produced little check marks beside ThingsOnTheList. All that went missing was some weight training at the gym. That will get checked off today.

There’s a new yarn shop in Williamsburg and guess what!?! They sell Addi Turbos and just got in a large shipment! Is this good news or is this more like great news. I will not wait. It’s supposed to rain on Saturday anyway, Sheryl will make my house sparkle today - I’m off to shop.

posted by Bess | 6:53 AM


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Wednesday, February 18, 2004  

In keeping to the dictum of Living My Delight, I decided I wasn't enjoying the blended merino and did enjoy this:

And what is this? It's Interlacements silk top spun thin and knit on size 3 needles. The predominant color in the roving is a fairly bright blue, but there are some warmer colors, including a lovely bronze gold. The idea I'm toying with is to spin long lengths of the different colors and Navajo ply them so that I create my own Noro type of color change. The garment intended for this yarn will be a tank top, with the bronze gold near the top and the blues along the bottom.

This particular sample was too loosely twisted. I gave it some rough rubbing and a halo blossomed across the surface. I believe a tighter twist will diminish that, but I'll need to use a smaller drive band to get this tight twist.

I've emptied the bobbin of the merino so I'm ready to get started on this right away.

posted by Bess | 9:57 AM


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We didn’t get the snow. We were gypped. We were robbed! We have to go to work today. The entire staff was utterly eight years old all day yesterday. This is why I hate weather reports. They’re so couched in disasterese everybody gets twisted into knots, oh - say - about every half hour.

”The storm of the century is on the way and wind-chill factors will assure that you will die within 47 seconds if you haven’t stocked up on toilet paper and flashlight batteries.”

Prefaced by ”there’s a 40% chance that this will happen”

So there we were, three women who will never see 50 again, staring out the window at pretty white flurries, our hearts longing for the inter-com to come on, with the principal’s voice telling us that busses will begin loading at quarter after.

All for naught, too. The flurries flurried, the kids got out about an hour early, and I did get in the grocery shopping at lunch, at the cost of my gym workout. I warned the knitting students that if it was snowing I’d postpone the class. Of course, it snowed all day. But in the end, there’s only the lightest dusting on the ground, the forecast for today is sunshine and 40's and tomorrow, sunshine and 50's.

And as I got more and more twisted and disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to go home early - it hit me that if we hadn’t had the forecast of snow and the possibility of goofing off a bit - I’d have been thrilled that it was Tuesday and knitting lesson day and WW meeting.

Man - we can sure act stupid sometimes. So I did go to the WW meeting and did go by the school where I’m teaching - and everyone was there, but nobody had her knitting so we rescheduled for tonight. But I feel really silly for wasting a perfectly happy day longing for something that I didn’t really care if I got.

What is it about wanting things - why do we lust for stuff we don’t really want? What makes us shop when our closets are full, eat when are tummies are stuffed, sit through bad television shows? Why is it so easy to give my life away to things that don’t feed my soul. Worse yet - why do I starve myself of the very things that transport me to a spiritual paradise? I know what those things are. I love doing them - they’re not just things that will make me feel good later - when I look back on having done them.

ImportantInformation is seriously knocking on the old brain here.

It is all of a piece with something that happened on Monday when I was having lunch with Jen and two other knitting women. We’d eaten a delicious meal and I was absolutely perfectly content with exactly what I’d eaten. And then we bought deserts. Now - I like deserts as well as the next person. I like to have what I like. But where is it carved into the stone of my brain that every meal has to be followed by desert? Because I ate one along with everyone else, even though I was absolutely not either hungry nor desirous of the sugar fix. I just ate desert because I did. Because it was there. Because other people were having desert. And not only did I not particularly enjoy it - not to say that it was a bad experience - just - “eh” - but also later I did feel sort of crummy because then I was stuffed and had too much sugar coursing through the old blood veins. I mean - Why couldn’t I have just stopped when I was just right?


Isn’t it time to start living my life? I’m thinking here that I really could enjoy just doing those things the body tells me it wants to do. Not just the body, either. The spirit, the intellect, the soul all deserve to be listened to, responded to, even obeyed. Perhaps it’s time to commit to the daily life I want to live - time to be present, instead of buzzing out of the present with some silly longing for something I never really wanted. To slow down, listen to the truth I know is within me, and then act from that truth.

Hmmm. Feels like a watershed moment.

posted by Bess | 5:44 AM


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Tuesday, February 17, 2004  

I have just a wee bit of time to get anything down today. Yesterday was beautifully blue and cold, with EndOfWinter light everywhere, especially driving home from Jen’s. It was about 5:30 and the sun still skimmed the edge of the horizon as I soared down 17 from Port Royal. Although I live in Tidewater (Upper Tidewater, I like to call it) Virginia, which is shorthand for; In A Very Flat Place, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our vistas. From the intersection of 17 and 301, our nation’s Almost Capitol, one must climb the banks of Pumensond Creek, the western boundary of Camden, the Platt home.

asside: That was mega name dropping, a la Old Virginia

Anyway, one does have to climb the river banks and from the height, just above the entrance to Camden, one can see several miles across rich fertile river flats to the Rappahannock River, and across to Westmoreland County - birthplace of presidents. That is always a gorgeous view, but what I love best about it is the long gentle slope down - for miles and miles, till you get to the turnoff to my place. The road goes along the back tier of river banks, the flats are never wider than 5 miles, so you’re treated to constant, teasing glimpses of prosperous farms and gorgeous tree fringed cliffs on the far side of the river. The slope actually goes all the way to town, but I turn off about half way. Driving home yesterday, as the sun’s final rays flung themselves across the landscape, all the magic of bare winter woodlands, swan speckled fields and glinting farmhouse windows, alive with the gold of sunset, flashing like beacons, rolled out before me. Along the river the geese were searching for just the right spot to bed down for the night. Thousands of them - flocks of 200 - for at least 20 miles, made thin black clouds against the still vivid blue sky.

The sharp angle of the sun reminded me that spring is coming - and soon, too. Spring is the busiest time there is, here in my country paradise. If I want the garden to be fit to walk in this summer, I will have to spend about 20 hours a week there, with hoe, rake, and clippers, throughout the month of March. If I don’t get the March work done, I’ll have double the work to do in April, and if I fail in those 2 months, the garden must be abandoned for the entire year. Mayflies show up about the time LD celebrates his birthday on May 12, with their wicked, welt raising bites and swarming songs. After that you really can’t do heavy gardening any more. A little clipping, some weeding, yes, but nothing in the nature of labor. So, if the charming, but invasive, plants own the garden in May, we must wait until the next time March visits, to reclaim it. I am sure Ceres smirks at me the entire summer when I am lazy in March.

The dyeing day with Jen was delicious. I had not dyed since September and was a little nervous to begin - I’d forgotten what to do. But she encouraged, assuring me I couldn’t really do it “wrong”. And it was fun to pull out winter colors - purples and pinks and blues - with one concession to spring colors of various shades of green - and make them bloom on wool and silk. Thank you thank you thank you, sweet Jen. I got home inspired and knit and spun and was productive all evening. Good thing too - because I have to dash now. Early morning meetings start my day and I chug along till 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. Tuesdays mean WW - and Knitting Classes. Whew!

posted by Bess | 7:10 AM


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Monday, February 16, 2004  

For productive fiberworks, yesterday was pretty much a bust. I swatched some with the Norwegian Wool, ripped, cast on some ribbing for what I hoped would be a child’s hat, that is looking more like a small adults. I love this yarn. I love the colors and love knitting with it - very much like good quality sock yarn, but there is never, on the green earth, going to be a day when I will look good in Easter egg colors. I’m just to yellow. Sigh. I’m glad I bought them, because it will push me into knitting charity items - something I’ve felt the urge to do, but have so far, resisted. Little socks, mittens, and hats are the future of this lovely yarn. If I’m lucky to find it in other colors someday, flattering to me colors, then I know exactly what I shall knit with it.

It’s altogether weird to have the urge to create something and no ability to settle on the what of it. There’s this sensation of a project sort of dancing in the peripheral of my consciousness, teasing, whispering, but not revealing itself. Eh. Well. T’aint nothin’ I kin do about it. I shall just have to content myself with swatches, itty bitty projects, and a sort of cooking process which occurs inside a brain that isn’t ready to commit. My only fear is that, in such a mental, state I shall begin shopping, caught up in that quest for revelation where one begins to think “Well, maybe what I need is that bag of Cashmerino Aran to knit up a lovely aran sweater.... or this collection of Dale sport weight in 39 different colors to make my stranded colorwork masterpiece.” Sort of like going grocery shopping when one is hungry. Ahh well. Only time will tell, right?

Today I hit the road, aimed north and west, to go play in Jen’s dyepot I haven’t dyed anything since warm weather. Wonder if I remember how. I also hope to dig my fingers into some of her more exotic fibers. Best of all, though will be camaraderie with a like-minded woman; an emotional, mental and spiritual connecting that fills one with deep joy.

The work week ahead looks pretty packed. In fact, till the latter half of March, I shall be swamped with deadlines. Our budget is due on the 15th of March and before then we have to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the local elected officials. Our workload has increased by about 70% over the past 3 years and workforce has remained exactly what it was in the last century. There is an art exhibit going up in our meeting room, complete with opening night reception, during this period and we’re at the production stage of a strategic planning process - where ideas have gelled but now must be translated into writing on paper to be copied, collated and distributed.

Hmmm.. Looks like if I”m going to take a week’s vacation in March it will have to be in April. Ain’t that just like life - to sneak in there and steal away your down-time?

posted by Bess | 6:23 AM


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Sunday, February 15, 2004  

Moving around pretty late this a.m. We had a simply splendid time in Richmond yesterday with D&P, touring my home town with a local guide. There is nothing so much fun as enjoying a familiar, but changed, place with sympathetic people. Good conversation, good food, and good will - what a recipe for Valentine’s Day! I am really glad I got to grow up in that southern city - it was a good place. It’s downtown is a shambles now, as are most cities’ downtowns, though oodles of $$ are being poured into it. It is even possible it will manage to reincarnate yet again, into something viable but not necessarily HighRiseGlassSheathedSteel&GirderPillarsOfCommerce. Or maybe not. It may be that it will all fade away and some new type of humanity-organizing structure will take its place.

I do like seeing the conversion of Richmond’s Ghost Fleet of tobacco warehouses into flats for trendy young things - sort of a southern version of the New York City loft. You can certainly find your choice among the restaurants scattered about Shockoe Bottom like so much confetti. My preferred city neighborhood is the section of late 19th century row houses with brick sidewalks, often found in the first, or even second, ring of suburban development around a city’s downtown core. I like quirky, inconvenient buildings with hidden stairs and funny connecting rooms. My beloved Aunt-in-Law once told me that she “grew up in the West End. I believe you call it the fan now”. The Fan is Richmond’s brownstone area that surrounds one of Virginia’s many state universities. It begins at Belvedere street, in a place once called Tumbletown, because so many toughs and roughnecks would gather there to get into fights. The old gathering spot is now the wedged shape Monroe Park, where the streets fan out in a westerly direction, giving the area it’s nickname. I got my happy chance to live there when BD and I first met. Those years linger in my memory like a sweet fragrance. Happy, happy memories. I’m mighty glad I live in the country now - fulfilling a destiny that lurked in my heart throughout my childhood, but if I couldn’t live here, I’d want to go back to a dense city neighborhood with tall narrow houses and pocket gardens and corner restaurants 2 blocks away.

While in town I did pick up a 16" clover bamboo circular. Not my favorite needle to knit with but good enough for making a swatch. I had forgotten about Beverley’s technique for making a circular swatch in the round or I wouldn’t have bought the needle. Still, a house can never have too many knitting needles in it. This one will find plenty of friends among the others lurking in cubbyholes, drawers, and beneath sofa cushions. And I shall be visiting Jennifer on Monday and she's taking me to a shop in Warrenton. Maybe they have Addi's.

I wore my fair isle socks yesterday and they were soooooo comfy. I also knit on the cuff of the second Toasty Toes sock. Soon I shall have 4 pair of hand knit socks - woo woo. Feeling pretty smug about that.

Today we have all the sunshine we didn’t get yesterday. Cold weather is on the way, but it’s not here yet. LD brought over an enormous rockfish and we’ve invited BH up for dinner. Another dear friend is expected sometime, as well, and perhaps she’ll stay for dinner too. This is one BIG fish. So part of today will be spent with the cookbooks. Broiled rockfish? Baked rockfish? Hmmmm. Time to expand my cooking repertoire.

posted by Bess | 9:41 AM


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Saturday, February 14, 2004  

Who would believe there are three good knitting shops in Richmond and not a one of them sells Addi turbos? I am so ticked about this. I’m in desperate need of a 16" size 4 and another 29" size 5 and I’ll be in Richmond today, but by golly - I shan’t be able to get a one. Here’s a gal ready to drop $30 on knitting needles, with no place to shop. Bummer.

In a perfect world I would have 3 complete sets of Addi’s in both 16" and 29" lengths. Well, no. I don’t need complete sets. I’d settle for sizes 3 through 7. Or maybe I’d like 2 sets of 16" and 4 sets of 29. Or perhaps what I want is the loathly lady’s answer: What I Want The Moment I Want It.

My disappointment about the Addis is because my Elann order came in yesterday and oooo I love this yarn. It’s baby colors - spring yellow, green, orange and purple. It’s a superwash wool and feels very much like cotton when it’s knit up. I am swatching it now to get gauge over stranded colorwork, and think I need size 4 needles. I have a 29" #4 Addi and if I want to design on faith, I could just accept the 6 stitches to the inch on the ball band and start doing the math. But a minimum of 240 stitches for the body is one heck of a big swatch - what if my gauge is 5.5? My 40" sweater suddenly becomes 44". Hmmm. I could live with that. Okay, what if I really get 5 SPI? Yikes! That’s 49 and no way will I want this sweater to be that big. But no way am I going to knit stranded colorwork back and forth. Besides the extreme irritation factor of having to carry floats when you can’t see the design, there is a tremendous difference in the gauge of flat stranded colorwork and circular stranded colorwork. Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet and knit the smallest swatch I can on the big circs and see what my real gauge is. Rats. Bummer. Rackumfrackum.

Of course, I could always just dig around some more in my house and see if there is a 16"size 4 circular needle somewhere.

Thinking about perfect worlds, in my perfect world the Skacel Company would color code their needles by size. Silver for 0's, pink for 1's, blue for 2's, etc.... let’s see - 6 primary and secondary colors, silver, gold, black. By then you could recycle the colors because you’d never mistake a size 3 with a size 10.5, so they could both be purple. Yeah, I’m sure color is expensive, but oh how wonderful it would be if you didn’t have to have/find/buy another one of those needle gauge thingies every time you were looking for a specific size needle. Besides, I’m dreaming now - this is my perfect world. So - in my perfect world not only would the needles be color coded, but my maid would put stray needles away for me. And I’d have a studio with lots of windows and a dye room. And unlimited time. Throw in some youth, while I’m at it. After all, if I’m headed for paradise, I’d like an extra 20 years there. A final touch would be to find out where the heck this Norwegian Sport Wool came from and if there is any more if the stuff anywhere. I really like this yarn but they only have a few colors left at Elann.

Okay - ‘nuff grousing. I don’t mean for all these entries to be so sour sounding. I’m really a very sweet sugar pie honey bunch sort of gal and am far more likely to sicken you with {C12H22O11}
than make your lips purse with my tartness. Perhaps it’s just that wits always seem to be such complainers.

And in the sweetness category, yesterday was parTICularly sweet. We open at 1 on Fridays but we go in at 10 to do behind-the-scenes paperwork stuff. That’s a day some volunteers come in, too, to help get the stacks back in order after a week of perusing by the Public. There is a doorbell on the back door, a bit of a joke, since this town is so small folk are used to walking into other people’s houses - after all, it’s probably their daughter’s. So we’re always surprised when someone rings the bell. It might be the UPS guy with a really big package, but more often it’s a stranger. It was yesterday too - a woman, asking for me. Since I didn’t recognize her, right away I began guessing what she might want when I happened to look up and see 4 black tuxedos filled with GuysWhoSing, including RF, who is a particular friend of mine.

Now a moment here, to state that I will follow any GuyWhoSings anywhere. I am a complete and utter fool for GuysWhoSing. Like the Hamlen kids and their flute player, I absolutely can not resist singing men. Thank goodness BD is a GuyWhoSings !

Of course I knew then - and I’m still grinning and still delighted and surely still thanking my Valentine for the barbershop quartet serenade at work in front of friends so I could preen. What a super treat. What a sweetheart. Yes! I’ll be his valentine - any day.

I even got the extra warm fuzzy when RF’s wife M came by later in the day and told me all about setting it up. The quartet was singing around town last year and happened upon my hairdresser when I was getting a cut (fortunately she was about done, I didn’t have to sit with a wet head through it all). I raved a week about how cool these guys were, and groused about Valentines coming on Saturday this year so that I’d have to wait another year if I wanted them to show up at work. Law - who would want them serenading you at home on a Saturday, when you’re probably in ratty T-shirt and vacuum? But M knew they’d be making the rounds on Friday this year and she got on the phone to BD. The whole thing became a sweet tender vignette, like something from Under the Tuscan Sun or A Year in Provence - American style.

Just up this sugar baby’s alley.

And a Happy Valentine’s day to you too.

posted by Bess | 7:37 AM


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Friday, February 13, 2004  

“Great beauties gone mad" was the theme, if not the spirit, of taffeta blouses with sleeves exploding like peonies

Doncha just love fashion talk? Yes, I’m still reading Fall Fashion News in the NYT. If you like shrugs you will see plenty of them come September. And Big Cat Print silk coats. And jackets that look like Peruvian rugs. (?!?!?) Mainly, though, be prepared to see lots of tawny brown and black mixed with steel blue grey. Yea Fashion colors. Or - non-colors.

It’s a good feeling to have Friday roll around again. Especially when it comes after a fairly productive week at work. We’ve got Monday off and I’m reeeeeealy ready to enjoy 3 days off in a row. Though I have some serious housecleaning to do, I’m planning on doing plenty of fiber work too. Dragged out HeyBaby yesterday and began spinning my birthday merino again. When I plied up the last two bobbins I got a fairly bulky yarn and less than 200 yards of it at that. It’s extremely softly spun. Most of my handspun is soft but this is the softest I’ve done yet. Interesting that my yarn always comes out so soft-spun, since I still consider myself something of a beginner - perhaps an advanced beginner, but certainly not more than that. I haven’t tried to knit with the yarn yet - mostly I’m trying to match up today’s spinning with yarn I made 2 weeks ago.

My only knitting yesterday was a few rounds of the Toasty Toes sock. I did paw through the BW books and brought home book 1. I thought I found the perfect cables to make my BFL aran, but now, of course, I can’t remember which ones got me so excited.

Some important knitting shopping occurred, though, when I succumbed to Elann’s fabulous deal on Norwegian Sport Wool in bright!!! colors of yellow, green, purple and tangerine. Yep. I got the last 2 balls of tangerine. I’m really in the mood for kiddie colors and fair isle knitting. Maybe a bunch of hats, maybe some children’s sweaters, maybe a cardigan for me. This is to make up for not buying the happy colors of Australian wool at The Needle Lady in Charlottesville last month.

I dragged myself back onto my healthy WW routine this week; just in time, too. I had not been doing anything right - and suspect, be it chicken or be it egg, that had aided and abetted the blue devils dragging me down last week. A couple of workouts, with weights and aerobics combined, plenty of water and some heaping plates of steamed veggies have gone a long way towards putting a smile back on my face. It’s so easy to forget the physical contributors to depression and think it’s all in my emotions - all in my head.

So, here’s to a good memory, next time, and a great weekend coming up. BD and I are off to play in Richmond tomorrow and I’ll be playing with a girlfriend on Monday. Hmmm. Looks like Sunday is vacuum day. Or IgnoreTheDirt day.

posted by Bess | 6:20 AM


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Thursday, February 12, 2004  

Hey Wait! I forgot to say!

I finished the Stars sweater and wore it to work Wednesday. Wednesday means Story Hour, you know and the kids went wild. It's so big and red and fluffy and fun. It made the perfect Valentine statement. Somehow I'll get a photo of it posted. It's a fun, funny, silly, frivilous sweater and I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it.

posted by Bess | 6:42 AM


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Funny how some days you just don’t feel like saying anything. Funny for me, anyway, who never got a report card that didn’t say “A lovely child, but she talks too much”. I am still struggling with what to knit next. I’ll finish up my sock this morning and will probably cast on SecondSock right away, but socks are not projects for me. They are ‘tweeners, for doing between projects. Hats feel the same way to me. I guess the only real project, to my idiotic mind, is a sweater. I like afghans and wish someone else would make me one, and I like shawls and probably will make myself one. But it’s the longing for sweaters that drives the needles.

I’ve decided to set the PBBSHO yarn down again. Evidently, I’m not ready to work with it - though I still think it might do well as a Sleeves in your Pi shawl/shrug/sweater/thingey- but I don’t want to swatch it any more. I believe that if I don’t make something with it the next time I haul it out of the stash, I will give it away. I did pull out a skein of the olive green blue faced Leicester (think it’s a Berroco yarn) and gave it a good lookover. This is one of the oldest yarns in the stash, bought back in ‘01 to knit an aran sweater. It’s a gorgeous yarn, soft and springy, with a hint of sheen to it, due to the long fibers in the fleece of a BFL. I don’t know exactly what cables I want to use in my aran. I own two Barbara Walker stitch books, but none of the cables leap out at me and say “Knit Me! Knit Me!” Now that I’ve had the joy of knitting a conversational sweater, I don’t care to knit anything that doesn’t speak to me. For all that she gave me such a fit last March, Flidas (who is still on the missing sweaters list) really raised the bar, when it comes to the TotalKnittingExperience and I don’t care to lower it again. I love it when my projects talk to me. In fact, I don’t intend to spend time with any silent, sulky project. So - today the plan is to check out BW#1 and 3 from the library and see what’s hidden in those stitch pattern treasure troves.

The hard freeze of winter seems to be over. Thank goodness, too, because the road is collapsing. The Ds are planning a major purchase of tractor and blade - at last - but that sort of road work has to be done in the summer. I haven’t had a good walk in a long time and don’t know what is poking it’s head out of the ground, but it’s time to see signs of spring and I’m really looking forward to it. This weekend I’ll check the lane for daffodil tips. Maybe even do a little garden clean-up. There’s plenty to do. Poor thing has been so neglected for so long it’s more like the Secret Garden than the photo tour I have posted here.

So - the earth turns and tilts ever closer towards the sun and life urges me to get a move on. In partnership with clocks and calendars, the seasons stake their claim on our lives. What do you say? Is time your friend or is time your enemy?

posted by Bess | 6:26 AM


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Wednesday, February 11, 2004  

Here’s what I like in today’ slide show off the NYT web site:

The long leather gloves, worn with Douglas Hannant’s cream colored luncheon suit. In fact, I rather like the suit with it’s slightly curved waist and 3/4 sleeves. But it’s those long gloves I’ve been looking for, for perhaps 15 years. Lord let those filter down to Hechts and Dillards next fall. Please.

The Beige Beaded evening dress from the Reem Acra show. Very 20's. Not something to wear at the outings I attend, but I liked it nonetheless.

The high lace up boots in the Marc Jacobs show, worn with what looked like blue tweed nickers. Also the huge black picture hat worn with another Marc Jacobs dress, in a sleepy color of cold coffee. Too much decolletage, of course, but after all, this is New York. And I’m old, but I used to like the plunging neckline a lot, 30 years ago.

BTW, Mr. Jacobs was fairly well trashed by the article, but that’s only because his showing was so conventional. If you wanted black and white striped mohawks and fishnet stockings beneath an old west saloon girl dance hall dress, Betsy(e) Johnson had what you were looking for. Always room for a little theater in these shows, I’m sure.

I’ve been somewhat surprised at all the use of tweed in these spring shows - maybe they are fall shows. Could that be it? The fall lines are being shown in February? I guess so. I’m not that up on the fashion calendar.

Last night was a delightful gathering of the Tuesday Night Knitters. New students came along with old friends and there was much talk, much knitting and lots of energy. I can’t ever knit in a crowd, unless it’s a crowd of, say, three, max. But I can enjoy the energy. I did not finish the Stars sweater and I”m gonna log off here soon to see if I can do so. I reeeeealy want to wear it today. The fabric is such a ball of fur that it’s very easy to darn in the threads. Nothing would show in this eyelashy stuff. But it’s extremely difficult to sew up the underarm seams. The gold lace neckline is so tight it’s real work to pull the thing over my head. It’s even harder to drag it off! I’ll wear it for the morning, but when I go to the gym at lunch I’m going to change into something different. The plan is to rip out the gold yoke and knit it back and forth, leaving an opening I can close with a loop and a button. But that is for next Christmas time. This is definitely a costumish sort of garment - just right for viewing NYT fashion slide shows. But I don’t plan to wear it all that much - it was intended to be worn at Christmas parties and they don’t come around for 10 more months.

Last night was also WW and it was fun to go and not have to get on the scales. It is also a good thing, since I know I haven’t been eating right for 3 weeks. There’s bound to be some evidence on the scales. There sure is evidence in my fingernails, which are splitting all over the place. So - today it’s back on the wagon, complete with a workout, all the water I’m supposed to drink, the 5 F&V’s and keeping that food journal. None of my clothes are complaining, mind you, but I want those healthy habits back again - and if it requires more structure, then, heck, structure it shall be.

posted by Bess | 7:40 AM


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Tuesday, February 10, 2004  

Here's the sock knit in Toasty Toes sock yarn, from Interlacements. I wanted to experiment with mini cables and twisted stitches and found the actual knitting of them a delight with this yarn. There are two stitch cables over 4 rows separaed by 2 purls, 1 twisted knit stitch, 2 purls. The yarn is soft and springy, it responds obediently to your needles. In a solid color these textured stitches ought to be stunning - especially a pale one. Alas, the result in the handpainted colors seems only so-so to me. At least the cuffs will be snug against my ankle. This is where I stopped yesterday. Only a few more rounds to the toe decreases and sock #1 is done.

posted by Bess | 8:46 AM


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Still wallowing in the Spring Fashion offerings on the NYT. Of course I expect the language to be effete and the clothes to be ridiculous, but I’m always willing to be delighted. While clicking through the slide show, snickering at the blue sheerling coat with brown feather trim over the chiffon gown, and mentally deleting the leopard-print jacket with fur collar over mauve blouse and what they called tweed skirt (looked like pin-tucked lame to me but hey - this is just a computer monitor, I’ll take their word for it the skirt was tweed), I stumbled upon Carolina Herrera’s [probably] silk skirt in black, white and brown art-nouveau sinuous chevrons, beneath a snug fitting shell with enough matching scarf wrapped around the model’s neck to cover a standard double bed. But it worked, especially for the long’n’lean types and was quite pretty. It was also; just a skirt and sweater.

Daine Von Furstenburg is back with her wrap dress, this time, not in tiny foulard print, but black crepe with a little capelet over the shoulders - can’t tell if it’s attached or an add-on. It was always a good design and it still is, though, outside of NY, I’d drop the silly capelet.

Bess’s new Theory of Fashion Shows:

Have lots of really ugly outfits so that when you bring back your old, faithful, elegant standby, people will be so relieved they won’t care that it’s the same old same old tricked out in a different color.

I’d love to be going to the sort of event where I could wear the Oscar De La Renta flouncy ball gown - it looks like the one Barbie wore back in 1962, with a sheath body and huge ruffles flouncing from just above the knee, all the way to the floor. In my next life, for sure.

Blonde and tanned is big this year. All the models looked like Claudia Schiffler. I wish I could buy that face and body along with the gown. Even if just for a week or even some Cinderella like evening with the prince and the pumpkins.

”The knits are good” “Yes, the knits are good” was the quote of the day, so we knitters will still be riding the crest this summer. I guess that means your LYS is safe for another year, since knits are always good in the autumn. (Ever notice how much more you like the fall issues of knitting magazines than any others?)

Speaking of magazines, the library’s copy of Interweave Knits showed up on Thursday and I gave it a quick peek, thinking my copy would be in the mailbox when I got home. Humph. It hasn’t showed up yet. And speaking a little more along the fiber thread, yesterday’s lovely Fiber Guild meeting went really well. Like me, everybody there was enthralled with the crocheted steek technique. Even the new knitters were excited and one of them couldn’t wait to go home and teach her sister, the expert, how to do it better! Evidently, Sister had knit a fair isle sweater with wrapped steeks!! EEK!

Tonight is Tuesday Night Knitters as well as WW and I believe I have a meeting at 9 a.m. too, so I’ll head in to work early. If the meeting is a no-show I will scan in the newest sock and post it. I’ll also take the Stars sweater and sew in the loose threads. It’s the intended Valentine outfit for tomorrow’s story hour. Very red. Possibly a photo. Probably a cartoon about it.

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


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Monday, February 09, 2004  

This new computer is so full of surprises. Of course, it’s an XP machine, so it fades in and out of what it thinks I want to see - a particularly irksome form of display. Makes me feel like it’s just lurking about waiting to trip me up. The new keyboard is a delight, and is not only quieter, but faster. Eventually we’ll get used to it’s idiosyncrasies and then begin to hate everything about it because those same quirks will stop working reliably, and then the monitor will begin to flicker and fade and then it’ll be 2014 and we’ll buy another one.

In the mean time, I am enjoying the display the newer version of explorer that lets me see a fuller list of lead articles in the New York Times online. In particular, I get a list of the fashion articles they’re running. This is the line that caught my eye this morning.

”Scouring eBay a few months ago, Mr. Robinson found an original Perry Ellis scarf with a button print, he said. He reproduced the fabric and cut it into gently fluted silk skirts. He paired one of the skirts with a lean, colorful tweed jacked wrapped at the waist with a rhinestone belt, an accessory that gave the outfit an air of seeming nicely left of proper.”

Now, maybe you will wear a silk skirt made of a fabric fluid enough to wear as a scarf, printed with images of buttons with a lean colorful tweed jacket and rhinestone belt - but I can’t think of anybody else who might.

I know, I know, these are supposed to be fashion statements. Just that, it’s such a shame when an idiot speaks. BTW, the tweed had been woven into oversized houndstooth checks of tan, olive and gold - colors I can wear with ease, but unusually ugly in the photo.

I do love clothes, though, and appreciate that I can see and read these silly articles. I also know that real fashion is found in catalogs, not in the NYT.

We are back from a delightful weekend with FavoriteFamily people in Bedford, VA - a FavoriteTown. If you looked the world over for a more perfect little town, I doubt you’d find one that beats B,VA. Our cousins live in a big four square house with a glorious porch overlooking green yards - not lawns, mind you, but front yards, warm, welcome and full of kids - on tree lined streets with sidewalks flanking both sides of the street.

This is a place we go to heal, to restore and renew all sorts of spiritual ties of friendship, family and love. After all the stresses of January, we were ready for the nourishment and imbibed with a will. BD, BH and I went so there was much knitting in the car. BH has wanted to learn how to make socks for the longest time and she started her first sock on the way up. She turned her first heel just outside of Farmville on the way back. Pretty cool, huh?

Second Fair Isle sock was finished as we rode in to Bedford on Saturday afternoon and in the evening I cast on a new sock in the Toasty Toes I used knit LD’s Christmas socks. This is a delicious yarn to knit with - a little thicker than most sock yarns, and very, very plush. I did a cable pattern in the cuff but I’m not sure it’s effective. This is a handpaint yarn and texture seldom shows up in handpaint yarns. It’s quite springy, though and has a delicious snug feeling around the ankle. I’ve about 10 more rounds of foot to knit before I begin the toe decreases. I shan’t have that sort of uninterrupted time to knit this week, but I hope to finish this second pair in about 10 days and then maybe I’ll be ready to dive in to a sweater project.

Today is the fiber guild meeting. It’s a push to make it to these meetings because they are on work days and are so far away - an hour and a half in the car. But I do so love to be around fiberish women and this particular meeting I promised a colleague I would help with a demonstration of steeks. I had read how to do the crocheted steek in the Knitters magazine article, several years ago, by Rick Mondragon. I understood the concept immediately, but I’d never made one. “Of course I can demonstrate the crocheted steek” was my comment last month when Jayne asked me if I knew how to do them. So I’ve knit up some swatches, gotten out Sweaters from Camp, with Meg Swansen’s Oh SoClear Instructions and made a sample to show around. Wowie oh Wow! I had no idea how much I would love this technique. I will never, ever make any other sort of steek again. It’s so tidy, so flexible, and you don’t have any of that nasty sewing thread in your sweater. And you don’t have to twist the knit stitches you’re going to crochet into, as I remembered the magazine article stating. Just crochet the left leg of the center stitch to the right leg of the stitch to its immediate left, and crochet the right leg of the center stitch to the left leg of the stitch to its immediate right, and snip down the ladders in that center stitch. Really do give it a try - it is so tidy, so easy.

Ah, good news. I just checked weather dot com and see we are in for some sunshine and 50* temperatures. Perhaps, at last, the road will dry out. I’ll scan the toasty toe sock today and post it, sometime in the afternoon.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


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Sunday, February 08, 2004  

I'll post tomorrow, but in the mean time, thanks to Catherine for the cool map generator.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

posted by Bess | 9:31 PM


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Saturday, February 07, 2004  

Barring 6 phone bills that have to be requested from the phone company, we are done with the TaxLady. This is a good feeling, because neither BD nor I like to look at paper filled with tiny little numbers in parentheses. That’s probably why I design my own sweaters. So I don’t have to read patterns. It gets worse, the older I get, too - the focal length can only be adjusted with glasses, which distract me terribly, and the linear thinking of the pattern writers never marches with my particular brain waves. Couple that with the natural process orientation of an ENFP (how I love to blame things on horoscopes and personality types), as in - "who cares what the pattern says? I’m just here to knit" - and you have a very short list of FOs.

The big joke, of course, was that the poor TaxLady had to walk in. February is MudSeason in VA. The hard freezes of this particular January guaranteed deep thick mud. Many’s the day I’ve slid right off the road, trying to drive home. “Just stay on the road”, says BD, as if I had anything to say about it when the MudMonster rose up out of the field and grabbed the front end of my car and yanked it out into that morass of pudding textured earth. When we drove home on Thursday it took a good 10 minutes to drive the half mile from mailbox to house and even Himself did a good bit of slip’n’sliding. On top of that, torrential rains began to fall about 6 a.m., adding slurry to the soupy road. The TaxLady is extraordinarily suburban and thinks she’s come to the true boondocks when she sees trees along I95. Nothing in her past could have prepared her for the Mudville Flats of upper Tidewater VA. The sure knowledge that we’d have to call in one of the local farmers to haul her out of the field did not bode well for a good night’s sleep.

BD knew this as well as I, though he refused to admit it. I know he knew it, because he walked out to the mailbox about the time she should be arriving and escorted her up to the house through the woods path. It’s a beautiful walk, and the rain was only a slight drizzle so she got in her aerobic workout on company time.

The good thing about it all was that we were done by noon and I had the rest of the day off. I got to take a nap. BD read me 3 short stories while I knit on the second fair isle sock, and last night we watched the first two episodes of Xena, Warrior Princess. BD is far more innocent of pop culture than I, because of course, I work in the library and have to at least know what’s in People Magazine. Somebody gave the library the first season of X,WP on video and when BD saw the box he really got excited. Well, he doesn’t get too many leather bustier clad gals in his life. With real guilty pleasure we sat down last night to pizza and pop culture, whispering through naughty laughter about how we would explain this to LD of the HighStandards and LowTolleranceForInanity, when who should walk in but our in loco parentis himself. Of course he thought it was a hoot to catch his parents wallowing in CultTV and even stayed to watch the last episode. “That’s how TV sucks you in” was his only comment.

No, we probably won’t watch any more. Or - no, I probably won’t watch any more. BD said he thought it was a good antidote to another night with Elizabeth Bennet, but I never get tired of my real friends.

We’re off today to visit some of those real friends - who have the added benefit of being family. It’s been a while since we’ve been to Bedford, VA - one of the prettiest little mountain towns you’ll ever see. We don’t usually travel in winter because we heat with wood, but now we have LD to check up on the fire and feed the dogs. I have sock yarn and Nancy Bush’s book Knitting on the Road. I’ll finish up the fair isle sock, sew up the seams in the Stars sweater (which I want to wear for the Valentine’s day story hour next week) and cast on another sock. This time I want one with a bit of cabling texture.

Still in a quandary about the PBBSHO yarn. Sigh. And still yearning for a big juicy sweater to get into. But these things will come. I can’t force them. Just have to let the muse do things in her own time. If nothing else inspires, I’ll follow Martheme’s lead and knit gift hats. Whatever, I have 8 hours of driving to knit through. What a treat.

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


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Friday, February 06, 2004  

I hadn’t meant to post those photos till I was ready to do a story about making the jelly, along with recipes, but while clearing off my desk yesterday I came across them and just suddenly wanted it to be May. There is nothing as beautiful as May in Virginia. It is the perfect world - with skies so blue and days so sweet - the sun is your friend - unlike the rest of the year when it is either in your eyes, sucking up all the moisture in the ground, burning your skin or hiding behind clouds. If I were in charge of the world, there would be 3 Mays in every year.

I haven’t made rose petal jelly in several years. I’ve sort of let the garden go to pot - and it’s in serious need of attention. I had thought to get it all ship shape this year, but things are intruding into my life and, though I shall get some good work in it done, it shan’t be fixed up enough for a spring garden party. It ought to produce enough roses for jelly though.

I’ve been having a tough time being the pillar against which others lean. Yesterday I began to crumble - while BD drove us in to town. The list of things just grew too long. Oh, I know that I can’t solve the world’s problems, I don’t even want to try!!. Mostly I think people whine too much and make exceedingly stupid decisions. But I guess my ego is too tied up with being “wise” and “thoughtful” and when people come to me wringing hands, begging “what should I dooooo?”, the old ego shoves out the healthy me and tries to shoulder their burdens. Can’t be done, I know. Why I even try to, is beyond me. More stupid decisions, obviously.

After a good cry, though, and a promise from BD to quit complaining about every little adjustment he had to make to use the new computer, I was able to pull myself together and make a list. Yes. I am a list maker. They’re all over the house. They aren’t even meant to be followed, much of the time. Their main function is to help me vent - and see what is really out there, not what I’m afraid is out there.

So a little order was restored, a little productivity begun, some items got ticked off the list and I don’t feel quite so threatened. I also tipped off my staff that I was having a bit of trouble maintaining my emotional equilibrium these days. I’ve learned that warning people that you’re going through a rough patch is a great way to A) ward it off and B) reassure them that they didn’t do anything!!! I also sat down with my time sheets and figured out when is the soonest I can take a week off. Some time off is just what the doctor ordered. Time off where I don’t tell anybody where I am. Yes.

Okay - the tax lady shows up today - if she can get down our mired and mucky road. We warned. She insisted. What can I say. Hope we get done with it all today.

And on the needles is sock #2 of the fair isle socks. Should finish them tomorrow in the car, on a long trip to visit cousins. Still struggling with the PBBSHO yarn and it just may be that it gets put back into the stash after all. Just don’t know.

And one of these days I'll go in and update the blog - and get rid of the broken comments link.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM