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


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Wednesday, March 31, 2004  

Okay- I'll confess. I have been struggling very hard to hold back the feeling that my vacation is slipping away. Fer cryin' out loud - it's only a week. I know I ought to just enjoy it, savor each day, and rest some. And barring the rest, I am doing that - but there's this utterly stupid, self-defeating thrum, like the harmonic strings on a lute - "It's slipping byyyyy. It's half gone!" I hear it whispering to me. Rats. Stupid. Why waste good vacation time fretting over it's speedy departure? How like human nature. In fact, I didn't realize these words would pour out - frequently I just put finger to keyboard when I begin a post - but as they tumbled out I remembered that both Jen and Margaret have recently posted about the swift flight of time this week.

There - great minds must think alike.

I got in some more exercise yesterday - and last night I forgot to take a motrin-like pill for the sciatica and it's not bothering me this morning. And I spun several hours yesterday. I am mostly spinning on this vacation, pulling out fibers I had forgotten I owned, experimenting with thread-like thin merino, wondering how it would look as lace, carding the blue and purple mohair locks to make a boucle for a hat idea pulsing in the brain. The more I work with HeyBaby, though, the more I think I need a double treadle production wheel that folds well enough for me to carry it around to events, classes and shows. Maybe something like this.

This is BD's birthday and birthdays are a BigDeal around here, so I must be off and shan’t write much more. For delectation, though, and entertainment, I would like to point you to two web sites. The first, Linda’s Blog, which has a neat shawl idea on it - I am going to try it right away - but perhaps put in a sideways stripe lace pattern. The second I got off of Jerry’s Blog - but I’ll just post the link here - I am in love - particularly the Retirement card found by clicking the demotivators link on the left. It's Dilbert taken a step further.

posted by Bess | 7:08 AM


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Tuesday, March 30, 2004  

The shredded look, she said, seemed young and uncontrived.

Don't you love fashion-speak? That particular statement is about the fringed/shredded hems, cuffs and button bands on the pastel tweed plaid jackets revived from the archives of Chanel this spring and being copied by all the other designers (I believe I even saw a Sag Harbor version). This is a look I find extremely pleasing to view, especially after the dark days of winter. It's colorful and it's feminine and it is enough of a suit (minus that stupid fringe) to allow you to look like you know what you are talking about. It is also a fashion that looks horrible on me. Not the garment structure - which can be pretty much any jacket shape - but the pastel shades. How fortunate for me I was never asked to be in a friend's spring or summer wedding - and in fact, the only wedding I was ever a part of, other than as the hired musician, was at Thanksgiving - and the bride chose a dark green for the attendants' dresses.

In pastel, I look like a sugar-stuffed sausage. No. That's not quite true. I haven't any idea at all what I look like in pastel colors. I just know that I feel like a bulging ooze of flesh, fattly stuffed into a casing, squeezed, by the soft colors, into bulging misery. I will actually get a stomach ache in pastel that feels as if I have eaten too much sugar. I have always suspected I have a touch of Synaesthesia - that condition where one perceives things with unrelated, or at least, unexpected senses. One can taste "points" when one drinks acidic juice or hear shapes when music is played. For me, color makes my skin feel things. Especially if color touches my skin. And pastel colors, no matter how happy they make me to look at them, make me feel sick to wear them. Alas. This year I will be a fashion flop. You will not see me in pastel plaid.

As I write this, I realize something about my praying place. The place is a stretch of the lane up to my house, with the woods at one end, and a spot in the middle of the field at the other. I do believe the place itself has a powerful pull on me, but when the sky is a particular blue, I also feel it touching my skin, pulling my arms up into the air. It is as if there was a magnetic force or a suction pulling on me. Yes, more a suction than magnetism. This doesn’t happen on cloudy days or even sunny days that don't have that particular blue sky. Hmm. Interesting how we respond to the world in our own unique ways.

My play date with Jen was everything a gal could want. We had time to really talk, and to spin and touch our fibers and enjoy BD who, in turn, thoroughly enjoyed having women speak in soft feminine voices in his house. It was a gray cold day so we had a fire in the stove. About 3 o'clock I took Jen out to see Mr. & Mrs. Bald Eagle's house. I had forgotten exactly where it was so we parked the car at the mile point and walked across the field. We saw Mrs. B Eagle almost the instant we saw the nest. Her white head peered over the bundle of sticks. She gave a little call - not remembering if we were friend or foe. Mr. B. Eagle hurried back from out across the marshes, sailed past her, with just a brief glance down at his wife, and lit upon a tree at the edge of the field, from which he could monitor our behavior - and, I am sure, attack, should we prove a threat. We gazed up a moment longer at Mrs. E but it was obvious we were making her unhappy - she rose up, as if to take flight - so we turned and headed back to the car. As we trudged past Mr. E I was prompted to lift my arm in salute - which he accepted with the regal grace of an Emperor, almost nodding his head in acknowledgment. Then he rose, circled us completely in a gesture of unspeakable grace, and soared off to check out some other birds wheeling over his kingdom.

The hair on my head lifted, even the fine hair on my back lifted - and I shivered all the way back to the car. What a signal honor, to be blessed by a bald eagle. By a King of the Skies. Sort of makes one feel - worthy.

posted by Bess | 7:07 AM


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Monday, March 29, 2004  

Mmmmmm. This is what I was yearning for - a Monday morning and I don't have to leave home! I don't think I would leave even if I were being whisked back to Stony Mountain or up to Hunt Country Yarns. I get to STAY HOME!! Even more fun, I get to entertain a friend. Jen is coming for the day and we shall play. Nothing is planned and it looks like rain, so it's definitely not a fiber dye day - besides, she does that for a living - but we might play with our wheels, and I'd really like to show her the Patsy Zawistoski novelty yarn video. I'd like to watch it again myself.

But best of all - I just don't have to leave home.

Yesterday we attended a funeral at Vauters Church. This is an 18th century edifice, a simple country structure, part of the old Church of England tax supported religion of colonial America. It's a truly lovely building - and the parishioners have kept it simple. They even had the extreme good taste to build their parish hall as a separate building, instead of tacking it on like some slick pimple, connected to the graceful old structure by a bricked passage. I see so much of this with beautiful old churches. There is a Baptist church in King & Queen county - supreme Federal Style elegance on a high point along the ridge between the Rappahannock River and the Mattaponi - its tall glass windows, with their 200 year old clear glass panes, glittering the sun's rays back on the surrounding countryside with each dawn and each sunset. It's back in the country, along an old Indian footpath, itself probably laid over an even more ancient animal trail, part of the old road system that connects Beazley and Helmut. In other words - you won't know about it unless you live here. But how sad it is, that something of such elegance, taste, beauty, and serene completeness is now going to be destroyed by the attachment of a Sunday School building, with Anderson Windows (so easy to clean) and vinyl stripping, complete with convenient bricked-in passage so you don't have to use an umbrella going from one building to another.

Well - I neither attend the church nor have the right to begrudge the owners their comfort - but I deeply regret the loss of a scene of perfect proportion and staggering beauty that used to thrill my eyes and heart as I made the trek from home to Mama's.

Ah - but to travel back to Vauters - where enough Episcopalian guilt lingers to give taste the edge over physical covenience - I couldn't help but cast my eyes out over the gathering, as I sat in those unbelievably narrow, straight box pews, and ponder. Such a place of ghosts. This church is 300 years old. These families, present to bid one of their own farewell, were here when it was built. The faces are still the same - the only difference is the clothing - and believe me, I wished I had on a nice steel boned corset; it would have made it easier to sit on those miserable seats. There were the Bairds; the Dickensons, both branches; the Garnetts, who used to live on my farm - back when it was an 8,000 acre plantation called Greenfield and went from the river up to Highway 17; all the Osbourns - descendants of the great Blandfield Wedding, which gran'ma attended as a wee child back in 1914. There were Ellises - cousins of BD, and Rennolds, also some sort of distant kin, who were another family that owned this farm, but in the 19th century, when it was called Rennolds' Quarter, back before BD's grandfather bought it as a dowry property for his baby girl. Of course there is always a Baylor at every funeral, because Bob Baylor's wife works for the funeral home. And there were the newcomers, like the Colemans - who fold into the community and bring fresh ideas, and, after a while, fresh genes. And the returnees - like the Carters - gone for 100 years, but back now.

It is a powerful thing to see centuries roll past your eyes. The ancient prayers - albeit spiffed up to please city folk - the wavering glass in the windows - the magnolia branches flanked with pale daffodils, arranged in vases on the sills - the haze of early spring green making lace out of the forest. It was a glorious warm day - cloudy all morning, but opening up to sunshine in time for the service. David was a farmer. It was a fitting farewell to have the outdoors invited in to his funeral. Both sets of doors were flung open so those who didn't get to the church early enough could crowd close and feel connected.

Sometimes, in the acts of the small world, we get a glimpse of the big picture. It fills me with peace and comfort, even at a sad moment like this. Perhaps it is the very sadness of a funeral that gives us the insight to grasp something so enormous. Whatever it is, though - I am so glad I am a part of this enormous tapestry - this thing called life.

posted by Bess | 7:37 AM


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Sunday, March 28, 2004  




That is for yesterday - 7 hours of studio time at Stony Mountain Fibers with Barbara's Babes - 8 other fiberistas spinning, knitting, touching, talking, perusing and shopping. Beautiful Barbara Gentry threw open her studio again and let us play with her toys. On the mountain side we gathered, starting the day out with pumped high energy, but slowly melting into that pool of mellow relaxation that the gentle whir of wheels, the soothing swing of hands and the murmur of voices imposes on the most wound up crowd.

I took one of my students with me, B - a notable quilter and returning knitter. She is such a joy to teach because her mind grasps concepts, shapes, fundamentals so instantly. She comes armed with such a wealth of fiber and color knowledge that I don't have to explain so much as point out. We got there first, and a tad early, so I had the pleasure of watching her face as I ushered her into the studio. I'm grinning now, just remembering. She had the same reaction I had - of stepping through the mirror into MagicLand.

Color. First there is color - heaping mounds of cascading color tumbling down, like some volcano of fairy lava, from a tall stand. It's Barbara's collection of Interlacements yarns. Then you sense, before you see, beautiful wooden tools. You may not even realize what they are, but if you turn your focus towards them you see at your knees a clutter of spinning wheels - not all of her wheels, but perhaps 6 of them. And then you realize that those large pieces to the right and beyond the color-volcano are Looms! And beyond the looms are more bins of color - milk carton sized bins of Ramboulet roving in every color there is - 6 different reds - that kind of selection!

At this point you begin to shake, stretching out your arms and flexing fingers because you realize this place is for your senses - for absorbing - for touch - for soaking. In fact, it is an overload that first time you go. It was good for B to have some alone time - even alone from me, for I went to tell Barbara that we had arrived - so that she could float through space while she made contact with her surroundings.

We had about 10 minutes for her to find her bearings before the second carload of BBs pulled up - with Jen and L and A. There were hugs and there were smiles and more hugs and such gladness. A had the hat she'd made from the yarn she dyed at my house last week. It was gorgeous - so richly full of colors - as she said - like the forest floor in autumn. It was stunning. She said she barely used half - which delights me since I have another skein of the un-dyed stuff. Mittens and hat for me.

B wanted very much to experience spinning - spindle first, then wheel - A was champing at the bit to try a wheel. Barbara set up a Joy for me to experiment with and a Fricke for A, while I sat with B and showed her how to use the perfectly balanced Schact spindle which she'd chosen from among the bins. Wow - that is a good tool. A true bargain, at something like $13.00. Within 15 minutes, B was drafting out a creditable yarn - quite evenly balanced, fairly overtwisted as is most beginner's yarn, but usable.

By noon, R had arrived, with her girls in tow. There really is nothing like having compatible women with beautiful fiber in an environment where pretty much anything you wanted to try was available. Barbara had had a custom blend of merino top created out of a green and two blue tops - and had a 3 foot tall bag full of the stuff. It is an ethereal pastel blue of such beauty my eyes glued themselves to it the moment I saw it. I took an ounce to practice with on the Joy. It is quiveringly beautiful. 6 further ounces came home with me to spin up fine into a beautiful piece of lace for my mother. It is Easter and blossoms and perhaps even fairies-singing blue. It makes my eyes tremble. Barbara called it a swirl blend - I hope she has ordered more for Md. Sheep and Wool - for she will sell out of it the first morning.

How does one describe such a day. Once, when I was telling a male friend about going to the KRRetreat he commented, "Oh, a coven." At the time I was offended because it sounded so midevilishly judgmental - as in "get a bunch of women together and they'll brew trouble." But a comment from B on the way home put that statement in a different light. She pointed out how earthy spinners are - how much more in touch with the origins, the organic base of our fiber craft, we are. Her quilting friends, because they begin their art so much further along the manufacturing process, miss out on this birth experience, where we begin with the animal or the plant and gather the barks and blossoms and stir up the potion to dye them and then comb out the tangles and then whir the fibers into yarn and then loop or weave them into the fabrics. If all that isn't the good witch's purview, I don’t know what is. So I feel much more in charity with my friend's appellation and even rather smug about it.

We broke up around 5, R to return to her farm chores, but the rest of us to head out to dinner. Of course, we all completely forgot what 6 o’clock on the first beautiful spring Saturday evening would be like at any restaurant. The wait, we were told, would be about 45 minutes. I'll confess, had it been just B and I, we should have gone to Wendys and picked up a salad and gone home, but the others were much more determined and it was out of the question to part from them. Still, sitting in a crowded restaurant foyer after all that fiber pleasure was more than my psyche could endure, so I went out and got my drop spindle, with the half-ounce of EasterBlue and plopped myself down in the corner.

Whirr Whirr Whirr It provided entertainment for all, through the long wait. One little boy with huge eyes came to stand right beside me. I doubled back a small sample and broke it off. "Give this to your mama" I urged him, as he seemed unsure about taking something from a stranger. She kindly let him keep it. I had, in fact, a suspicion I would garner some attention, but as soon as the man beside me began asking about my spinning I forgot about the crowd, till his name was called and I looked up to see fascinated eyes staring. Well, I confess. I am an E of the entertainer sort, and I do love to put on a show. Besides, it's good business for Barbara, since I told everyone who asked that of course they too could learn to do this at her studio. Who knows - there may be a budding artist a-borning this very day.

Good food, Good friends, Good fiber - rich goodness. The long drive home was so much nicer with a friend - especially a friend who doesn’t mind driving. We were back at my car by 10, and I was home by quarter to 11. Tired, but floating, fat with the memories of the day and the knowledge of a week of more beautiful home days ahead. With books and fiber and some brown dyes and 3 books and a bottle of Euclan. Oh - and some sock yarn. Heh. Well. After all, one can't spend a whole day in a yarn shop without buying, now, can one?

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM


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Saturday, March 27, 2004  

Sciatica. After a really horrible night Thursday I got to the MD Friday, crack-O-dawn, where I boldly ignored the "No walk-ins" sign, put on my teariest voice and said "Something is wrong with me". I seldom go to the doctor, though I do get there about once a year, but I thoroughly enjoy this particular one. I only switched to him because he accepts my HMO, but I haven't ever regretted it. He told me, yesterday, that I always set the curve for interesting cases. Not that sciatica is so rare in his practice, but caused by marathon spinning sessions - yes. That was rare.

And when I asked him if this means I have to stop spinning he said it depended upon my ability to stand discomfort, alter my technique and adjust the wheel. He was also thrilled with the weight loss. Summer before last he said to lose the weight or get on cholesterol medicine and I haven't seen him since. He has a healthy skepticism about the possibility of any of his patients to lose weight, I am sure my part of the world has a chance at winning the MostFatPeopleInTheWorld Olympics, but he also leaves the door of possibility open. He was so thrilled at the weight loss it was hard for him to cluck about the ExtremeSpinning.

Well, I had been so scared it was kidneys I was as relieved as he was thrilled about the weight loss. And I will spend today playing around with double treadle spinning wheels - because, in case you have forgotten

I am on vacation!

How sweet the words. Vacate shun. Perfect description of what I plan to do. Vacate the premises and shun responsibility. Last night's Art Show opening and reception was everything I hoped for - As I stood there taking my turn at the ginger-ale punch bowl, my heart just spilled over. This is what I envisioned when I first began daydreaming about a new library building. A place for community and culture and thoughts and ideas. A gathering place. A friendly welcoming hang-out. This is a small community, heavy with good churches and with a long, deeply interwoven little league sports program - baseball still far outweighs soccer here - and pretty much nothing else to do. While I absolutely loved being a little league mom, I didn't love it enough to man the concession stand after LD grew up.

One of the things about being part of a small community is that the same people have to wear all the hats. I like this because it ensures variety, but it also means you can wear out now and then. The effort of building the new library took all I had for quite a long time. When I finally did feel like doing something besides weeping, (Imagine just how much the E in this ENFP psyche grieved over the coming to completion of shepherding a million dollar construction project through.) I picked up knitting needles. Soothing, private, quiet, soft. Of course, within a year I was rounding up innocent strangers on the street and dragging them into my knitting classes! After all, even an exhausted E is still an E But I had to put the library in a box for a while, and close the lid.

The 5YP we've been working on has been heavy with plans to do more of the type of thing we did last night - and at last, I am feeling as if I could pull it off. How perfect that I should be able to lay my draft 5YP in the folder on my desk, then cement the concepts it contains into my memory with a sample, before heading off for a refreshing vacation. Perfect sometimes happens and when it does, don’t question it, just enjoy!!

There isn't time to wax eloquent on anything else - I see by the little clock in the corner of my screen that I must pack my lunch and shower. Nothing but Saturdays ahead for 8 more days.

posted by Bess | 6:32 AM


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Thursday, March 25, 2004  

Oh - this is no fair - weather dot com now says it will rain 6 of the 9 days of my vacation. Too cruel by far! On the other hand my favorite astrologer says this:

"Not everything will work out brilliantly but you'll soon lose that gnawing mood of trepidation which has been welling up so dramatically lately. At first, you may miss the tension. You have geared yourself up to coping with emergencies. Your shoulders are tense from absorbing the stress and your knuckles are white from the effort to cling on to common sense. Like a marathon runner, full of adrenaline and determination, you may find it hard to relax, even when you have passed the finishing line. Soon, though, you'll see you have every reason to celebrate."

This is much better, especially since my vacation begins at 8 o'clock tomorrow night and while there is plenty to do over the next 2 days, none of it is onerous. I will have to pick up and sort the mountain of paper on my desk, detritus of the mad dash on the 5YP efforts of the past 3 days. The last thing I did before coming home yesterday was to type up a list of ThingsToDo and tape it to the monitor in my office. Today will be a Tick That Off The List day. Tomorrow will include a little more last minute stuff in the a.m. In the p.m. I will be judging at the middle school forensics meet. I'll dash back from that to the Art Show reception at the library. A looooong day - but an easy one. How fortunate I'm an ENFP.

I see where Lion Brand yarn is coming out with a new yarn called Landscape - bulky mohair and wool in handpaint colors. As a rule, I don't care for Lion Brand yarns. I think they are nice enough for low priced yarns, only, they aren't all that low priced. I do applaud their efforts to provide new and different textures to a broad category of Wal-mart and Michael's shoppers, but I'm unlikely to partake of them. In the end, I just don’t care or the squeak of acrylic in my knitting projects.

I forgot to mention yesterday that my copy of Knitting in the Old Way arrived from Overstock dot com. What a delicious treat. I love this book - it is the only one that I would say flows naturally from Elizabeth Zimmerman's teachings. It's a history of knitting as seen through the peasant shapes of European (with the Salish Indian shape tossed in) sweaters. Lots of natural flow from proportional, percentage based designs. I'm inspired by every page - though this is the least glossy book you will ever pick up. Printed on something that feels like newsprint paper, it is very light - so although big, I can take it into the bathtub with me. I'm so glad this book was reprinted.

Seems there are many interesting and exciting books that are asking knitters to look deeper into their craft. I have recently purchased (at enormous cost) Debbie New's Unexpected Knitting and tracked down, at rather as much effort, a copy of Anna Zilboorg's Knitting for Anarchists. Now Annie Modesit has come out with Confessions of a Knitting Heretic
, which I ordered this week and am awaiting with happy anticipation. I have also finally subscribed to Knit 'n Style, a magazine I believe is rather under-appreciated, to replace my lapsed Knitters subscription. I'll give KnS a chance to win my heart. My last indulgence, which some of you may have missed - is the free sample of Fiberarts Magazine. This old Sterling publication was picked up, first by Barnes & Noble, and then sold to Interweave Press. I sure do like the cover and they are offering you a free sample issue. When you order it, have them bill you. I believe the limited time is very limited - so do take advantage soon.

posted by Bess | 6:48 AM


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Wednesday, March 24, 2004  

Yes yes yes! Weather dot com says it will be in the 70's on Friday and today is Wednesday - so there's tomorrow, when they can say it will be in the 40's, and then Friday will come and it can be back in the 70' again. It is arbitrary, isn't it? Weather prediction?

All joking aside, it does look as if the coming 10 days will be gentle ones - just what the doctor ordered for MsFrazzleNerves. We have an art exhibit opening at the library on Friday and I do hope to wear one of my Bee-U-T-full new spring dresses, which I can do, if it gets over 65. With the Pride&Prejudice shawl. I expect everything to be wrapped up by 8 o'clock and then I am FREEFREEFREE for the next 9 days. Watch me dance!

My assistant at work, who is the only other full time employee, has been out sick all week. I am afraid it is all my fault, because last week I distinctly said to myself "I know I have time to work on that 5 Year Plan, but I think I'll put it off till Monday, when I can sit down and blitz through it." Poor L was doomed. She's been out sick and along with 2 volunteers, and I have had to man the front desk 100% of the time, while the 5YP has languished on my desk. I actually have worked on it since our last meeting, but I could have assembled an entire draft for the committee, had I been organized, efficient and non-procrastinating. I could also have postponed the meeting for 2 weeks, but that smacked too much of MoreProcrastination and I don't want to come back from my vacation, rested, amnesiatic, and blasé, and be confronted with a 5YP committee meeting! I can get a little more work done on the document before 4 p.m. today and we will go with what we have.

Of course, today being Wednesday, Wednesday means story hour. I love this little bit of chaos in the middle of my week. It makes hump day feel like Friday. It puts me in the most relaxed, silly, absurd frame of mind - and an hour with 20 pre-schoolers really helps me think outside the box. They are so passionate, so ready to give it a try, so sure everybody's ideas are going to be fun and interesting. I never thought about it before, but almost all my committee and board meetings are held on Wednesday afternoons and they always follow a morning of kiddychaos. And of course, I am the one who set up the schedules, so I see now that I have always used the youngest members of our community to start the juices flowing, when it comes time to address the direction and development of the library. Man - that is so cool.

Last night was the last knitting class. This year most of my students were teachers at the local girls' boarding school and they went on a 4 week mini-mester-cum-spring break after 3 weeks of knitting classes. It was gratifying to see the progress each of them made over the past month. Of course, some of them are not finished with their projects, but I am only 3 blocks away, so I can guide individuals through any unfinished bits and all of them have been invited to join Tuesday Night Knitters, where they can be kibitzed along by others than me. The one non-St. Margarets knitter is my friend B, with whom I have considered going to Knitters Camp. We talked it over last night again and decided that Creative Strands would more likely meet our present needs and feed our current hungers. It's so hard to say how I'll feel in three months, but at the moment, my deepest hunger is for spinning instruction and CS offers lots of spinning classes.

I had to miss the WW meeting last night - had to work till 6. In a way I was glad because I know I have put on some lbs. since I reached my 6-week-at-goal status. I've been having a lot of trouble returning to reality and suspect I didn't spend enough time living in the halfway house of the newly slim. I thoroughly enjoyed the WW program and actually have little doubt of my ability to maintain - over the long haul - this new body. But I do think the program falls down when it comes to support for the maintenance people. There is little discussion about maintenance. There are no rewards, no new goals to strive for. I’m one of the least goal-oriented people I know - but I need some mountain top on my horizon.

I completely understand why the emphasis is on the weight loss folk. And I am a big girl. I know my success at staying here at goal is up to me. Nevertheless - the 6 months or even year it takes someone to lose a lot of weight doesn't eradicate the 10 or 20 or lifetime of years that person has been maintaining a much heavier body. The only way to maintain an overweight body is to consume mindlessly, massive quantities of stuff the body doesn’t need. Couple that with the LastDayOfSchool feeling a body has when it’s finished it’s diet - Whew!

Anyway - the result the past 6 weeks has been a small weight gain. I’ve been unhappy about this - funny how fat I feel at this weight compared to how I felt when I got here on the way down!. I have often experienced this phenomenon, it is not something new. But I have to find some tools and practices to combat the fact of weight gain now. I know weight management will always be with me - I know it’s a lifetime thing. I just need to spend some time figuring out how to live it - how to throw off the bratty juvenile attitudes of Whew, Now That’s Done and YouCan'tMakeMe.

And in the mean time, I am back on the weight loss part of WW and have set my spring goal. It feels good to be there again - but I am wondering just how much this is like a criminal being glad to be back in jail - where he understands what the rules are.

Hmm. Looks like I need some attitude adjustments. More later, then when I have made the shift.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


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Tuesday, March 23, 2004  

It is 19 degrees outside this morning. I am heartily tired of cold mornings. I know it shan't be long before I get heartily tired of hot days and nights, but this is late March and my curmudgeoness is directed at drafts that chill my ankles if I don't put on socks when I get up.

One reason I don't like this sort of weather is that we heat with wood - and the stove tender is myself. BD neither feeds himself nor the fire when I'm at work. "I wasn't hungry," he'll say when I frustratingly answer his "Gosh I'm STARVED! What's for dinner?" greeting with mutterings about being an adult and having a kitchen full of food. I rarely get home before 6 and if the house has been allowed to grow cold, it might not warm up even if we do build a fire - which you can be sure, we will. This is one of those issues in a marriage that eventually get settled, after you've been married long enough and since we have only lived together 32.5 years, well, see, you can't expect us to have actually worked it out yet.

The other reason I don't like this time of year is that I am sicksicksicksicksick of my winter clothes, which all seem to be the color of mud. How the rich warm brown of October can turn into the drab bleak mud of March is a mystery, but happen it does. Stores are full of the cutest little kicky short skirts and elbow length knit tops, fluttery georgette hemlines, cap-sleeved jackets in bright rayon/linen blends. I have three new dresses hanging in my closet, bulging out from between those brown jackets, their crisply pressed collars getting bunched and skewed while pleats form in their skirts as they're crushed against woolen trousers. I can not wait to toss my hair, exposing the new dangly earrings swinging against my throat - bare of scarves and turtlenecks and other heat retaining fabric. Maybe Friday - I hope.

There is one more thing about March that puts the stress on the old smiley face - GirlScoutCookies. I used to sell stuff as a kid - that door-to-door selling so horrible for the shy, and even the not-so-shy. I hated wandering around the neighborhood asking people if they wanted to buy boxes of donuts - fer gosh sake! We lived 4 blocks from a grocery store and a bakery. If they had wanted any durn donuts they whould have bought them when they went grocery shopping. I guess it harkens back to Hollywood's depression era Little Rascals ideas of what was cute and enterprising in children - but grownups seemed to expect us to go out and raise funds for our activities and traipse around the neighborhood I had to do. We lived in a settled neighborhood in transition. 99% of the homeowners were elderly or at least over 50 with no kids at home, and ours was one of the very first families with children to move in after someone shifted to true senior living. Most of them were not in a kid mindset and certainly they didn't want donuts offered from grubby hands to support what? A Majorette corps? What?!?

I usually ended up using my allowance to buy the minimum order and throwing the crushed boxes away before I got home - sick from gobbling down sugar puffs of barely cooked dough. Lot of birds fed their babies on donut crumbs in my little corner of Richmond.

And when the kids come around now, I always buy a box from them - I know, I know, encouraging more of this rather creepy practice of adult driven huckstering. Maybe that's bad - but I know that the kid coming in asking me to buy her cookies/wrappingpaper/christmascard/whatever has a mom in the back seat, who may not, but who just might, make her feel like a worm for not successfully saying the right thing to make that weird old lady in the library buy a box of fundraising. I guess I'm buying cookies from me, when I hand over my $3.50. The youthful me who trudged around our neighborhood, little sisters in tow, with those bloomin' donuts, and found out everyone in a 10 block radius of our house had diabetes. The girl who had to give up her allowance every spring. The girl who had to give up her Saturdays for a month each March. Yeah. That's why I perpetuate this crummy practice.

But March ends next week, on a lovely HappyBirthdayBD Wednesday smack in the middle of a week's vacation. By then, surely it will be time for fluttery dresses and dangly earings.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM


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Monday, March 22, 2004  

Late in the evening yesterday, a stray concept ambled across my mind and I thought, "Oh, I'll write about that on my blog tomorrow." So naturally, it ambled on out of my mind, which seems particularly sieve like these days. I suspect it had something to do with spinning, since that has consumed me for over a week. The latest issue of SpinOff landed in the mailbox last Thursday and I have scarfed the whole magazine down. Still hungry for more words on the subject, I dug out back issues; the one on spinning cashmere, the one on alpaca - especially interesting since I just spun up another crimpless fiber and wanted to know more about these hair like yarns. The article on pills and how they are formed - and how to prevent them from forming - and what to do when they do form (snip them with sharp scissors - pulling them causes split ends which form new pills).

In a very interesting article on twist, the author - and I'm thinking it is Rita Buchanan, but I'm not sure, for the magazine is upstairs - says knitters tend to like the looks of tightly twisted yarn - it's more defined and compact, but they will prefer how the loosely twisted yarn performs. She has photo samples which vividly demonstrate this. I'm particularly interested in this issue because I'm spinning up some very fine yarn and am constantly checking on the twist, as well as the diameter. There is such a balance between the two - I want the yarn fine enough to work well with the very thin angora bunny yarn I made last week, but I don't want it to be stiff.

How I wish I had a teacher who could watch me and advise and teach me all the things I'm missing as I read these articles, watch these videos, and practice on HeyBaby. I feel - as I said above - so very sieve like. Shaped like a bowl, but doesn't hold water. Mind now, I am getting better, but I feel that a fine teacher could point out so many areas where I could do so much better. Or even one or two areas where I could do a little better! Teachers are the greatest short cuts to excellence.

Md. S&W has a 3 day spinning seminar before the actual show and I'd really like to attend, only if I could get the time off, which I can't, I know I'd have to take Ana Zilboorg's class on twisted stitch knitting. If she has 3 days worth of teaching to do on that subject, by golly, there is a lot more to learn than I realized, about that exquisite textured knitting. The issue is moot. I would simply love to take a Patsy Z class down at the John C Campbell school, but yikes! It's next week! And it's her class on non-wool spinning. I stupidly missed her class in January on advanced wool spinning techniques. I sure could have used a week in NC with her instead of any of the horrible weeks I plowed through last January.

Creative Strands has a plethora of spinning classes this July and it is possible I will make this workshop. Only - (gad Bess, what a whaffeler!) I also want to go to Knitters Camp in Wisconsin and that is the same week. I've talked it over with BD and he understands, and supports, this intense need to make the pilgrimage to the home of my muse. It is the Zimmermann/Swansen team who turned me into a knitter and I feel as if at least one face2face with the real person is essential to my further development. I could put one of them off for the other in pretty much any given year, but a sweet friend of mine has offered to go with me to Wisconsin this year if we can still get in.

So, today I shall call School House Press and see what openings there are and tomorrow when B and I get together, we'll discuss both the Wisconsin venture and the Pennsylvania one.

Somehow or other, though, this gal needs to be in the company of GreatOnes and to soak up their wisdom and magic.

BTW, the weekend spinning has been a total discovery and joy. I had lots of time to spin on Sunday, as my guests were nearly all guys by this time and they had GuyStuff to do. I played with making that brown merino into a fine, worsted spun yarn. I've filled one bobbin, a good sized chunk of another, and will spin away on it this week. Goal: to ply it and wet set it before Saturday so I can show it to my Stony Mountain Fiber buddies. And next time, on the good advice of the article on twist - I will make a bigger sample of a new yarn before I fill two bobbins - and I'll wet set it and knit a real swatch of it.

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


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Sunday, March 21, 2004  

For a full house weekend, things are remarkably quiet here. Yesterday we filled up this place with guests and fun and there was lively activity smack up till long past when I went to bed, leaving all the boys downstairs, watching a movie.

A, came for a fiber playdate with me, and M and his two boys came to play with B&LD. This made for lots of excitement and activity - what with yarn dyeing, fishing, auto mechanic play (yes yes LD really thinks this is play) and happy frisking dogs prancing along wherever anybody might be taking a walk.

Well. Typed too soon. Here comes LD with a truck load of boys and now the guys upstairs are stirring. This will have to be quick.

We did have a glorious time with colors - another addict is born - and I have a lovely 2 oz. length of camel colored merino roving to spin up for the angora hat. More plans were made for more dyeing days. 5.5 days till my vacation starts. What a countdown!

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


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Friday, March 19, 2004  

It’s Friday! It’s Friday! It’s Friday!

Only one more week till my vacation starts - but I get a sneak preview on Saturday when a FiberFriend comes for a play date. Just thinking about a week off lifts my heart. There’s a little trepidation too; will I get everything done? Done well?

Part of the reason I’m taking off the last week in March is because it was the soonest I could clear the deck at work. This winter has been packed and while things have plugged along just fine, (well, maybe not fine, but at least barely just), this last week is chock a block full of commitments. So today will have to be a rigorously disciplined one. This week I’ve been lax with my Lenten promise - and gone on-line some during work hours. You can’t believe how bad this makes me feel - like I’ve been eating too much chocolate - which I also have been doing, thanks to GirlScoutCookies. Only half a box got all the way to my house because, since that half was already inside my stomach, I stopped off at LD‘s place and left the rest of them on his kitchen table. It seems that if one slides in one area of one’s life, it is very easy to slide in other areas - sort of “I’m a looser anyway, may as well loose all the way.”

Now - that sort of “poor me” thing is not something I usually indulge in - and I’m wondering where the heck it comes from. I don’t think I’m in a fit state to analyze any deep roots these days, but I do know the Band-Aid to apply - which is to smack self upside the head and get off the blanketyblank computer when at work. I do know that failing to keep promises to myself really depresses myself - so hey - don’t fail to keep my promises, right?

I am also having some problem with my hip. I’m not sure what it is - it’s not in the joint - it is either a pulled muscle or tendonitis. (from Sunday’s marathon spinning session?) I have never thought about tendons in hips - this ache is on the outside of my right hip, not at any joint but in the flesh - as if I’d fallen against something hard - which I haven’t. It hurts to stand and start walking and it hurts if I press against it but once I’m moving it doesn’t hurt nor does sitting bother me.

I did the lower body workout yesterday at the gym and realize that I can’t do it again till this thing clears up. My whole leg tingled - all the way down to the toes. If it is tendonitis and if it’s because of spinning I am wondering if I need to get a double treadle wheel. Or if I did, would I only get tendonitis in both hips? Hmmm. okay - promise promise time - if it isn’t gone by next week I will go see the DR.


I washed the angora yesterday a.m. and it is dry and utterly lovely and ready to show off to friends. It is the finest spinning I’ve ever done. Spinning is an interesting process - you spin so very much stuff and it is instantly hidden on the bobbin, so you can’t really remember how many times you decided “that bump is okay - it’s not that much bigger than the rest of the yarn” or the reverse - “that thin spot is okay...”. It’s not till you start to ply two singles together that you realize how frequently you let something slide. Thank goodness I’m not a perfectionist - I should think spinning would be a hideous activity for one who wanted perfect - but perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps a perfectionist would just get perfect about it.

Anyway, each skein I spin teaches me minute skill and after a while those skills become apparent in the finished project. And this angora must have been one of those Moments Of Display, because I am really pleased with how it looks. I washed it when I set the twist - so sure it was a little tightly plied, but once wet, it relaxed and is simply lovely to touch and to see. I am going to really enjoy knitting with it.

Did a little experimental spinning with the brown merino too. I got a lovely 15 wpi 2 ply sample, but it seemed a little thick compared to the angora. I haven’t wet set it - and I just realized I ought to. And to knit up a tiny color strand swatch to see if I like the merino at this thickness or if I need to spin it thinner. I hope not - since the thinner sample I tried was way too uneven.

So - why would 15 wpi be perfectly lovely and 18-20 look like crap? Setting aside my skill - which is an important factor - I believe it has to do with the micron count of the fiber and it’s preparation. I can’t remember whether the high micron count means fine or the low one - but this is a coarser merino than the merino tops I’ve usually spun with. It’s a roving as well, not a combed preparation but a drum carded one. The fibers are not as aligned, though they are basically all going in the same direction. I like working with this bouncy springy preparation and trying to spin a semi-woolen yarn, but it requires trusting the fiber that comes out of the leading hand, once you’ve released the twist, to settle down smoothly into an even yarn. It does surprisingly frequently - and with time, I hope, it shall do so with what I might call faithful regularity - but I ain’t there yet.

And trust is an interesting element in any craft. It comes with skill and knowledge, but it still requires that "letting go" of control. In spinning, when one is pinching that yarn up by the wheel, holding back the twist, while one draws out the fibers behind the pinch, one eventually must believe the fibers have been drawn out evenly enough - and that aproixmately the same number of individual fibers have been drawn out - that when the pinch is released and the twist leaps forward - it will settle down into the yarn you want. As I said, skill and knowledge will eventually make it easier to apply trust, but the application is an act in and of itself.

And there I have to constantly push myself. I am the QueenOfChickenHearts. You should see the family's home movie of 5 year old me taking my first slide down the sliding board into Overhill Lake. No kid ever took so long to creep down a 6 foot slide. Hey - who knew if there weren't sharks down there waiting to eat me - and besides, I couldn't swim and what if I went underwater and couldn't get back up? Well? Who knew!?!

Since my family has forever ridiculed me and cast into my face my QOCHedness, I know it's true - but I also boldly thrust my clucking heart forward, in swimming, in spinning and in many other areas of life. What they always forget in their haste to poke fun, is that I did make my way down that damned board and on my own steam and at my own pace.

Woops. Well. Where did that come from?

So, back to spinning that merino. The trouble is that with this fiber and preparation - it’s too easy to spin too much - to make it a tight preparation and I promise you, no matter what its called; merino, lambswool - whatever - tight spinning of a carded preparation will turn out scratchy.

Gad! I love it that there’s so much to learn about spinning. And Sheryl made my house as beautiful as it can be made, so I can play with fiber all weekend. FF and I will even do a little dyeing - since I need a tan yarn to go with the brown and angora, and I still haven’t dyed that fabulous silk top I got from Spirit Trail Fiberworks.

And I see on Annie’s blog that she’s almost finished with the two designs she’s making with Spirit Trial yarns, to be sold as kits. I already know I want the golden mohair kit - I’m sure I’ll want the other too. Lawsee - I know where my money’s going this spring.

Happy Friday, all.

posted by Bess | 7:13 AM


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Thursday, March 18, 2004  

Having resisted the Chocolate Eclaire Biker Guy, Bess falls victim to the Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Giggilo.

Trouble is, he loves 'em and won't leave 'em!

posted by Bess | 12:33 PM


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Man - nothing can lift the spirits like e-mail from a beloved friend. I was really creeping around in my Cockroach on the Floor of Life mode yesterday, after screwing up something at work that, while minor, was stupid and totally avoidable; and getting blessed out for it too. Rats and crumbs for sure. It’s always easier to take life’s blows to heart when you’ve got crud in your lungs and a stuffy nose and, while driving home from work, you scarf down a whole column of Girl Scout Thin Mints that didn’t have any mint flavor so you keep eating one more to see if this one would taste minty - completely forgetting that you haven’t been able to taste anything for a week anyway. I was moping like a dishrag and wondering if I should eat worms or just crawl under a carpet. Next best thing to do, after those options, is to buzz off on-line and what do you find? Not viagra adds and credit repair offers! REAL E-MAIL!!

Thank you sugar - you know who you are.

And -- if you’ve been wondering if you ought to click on and write to your friend - probably you should. He/She is probably really down and needs to know you love him/her.

Not all of yesterday was a bust, of course. We had an Irish story hour yesterday for the kiddies and I put on the Riverdance video. All the girls leapt onto the floor, dancing with abandon. It took a lot longer for the boys to join in, but eventually most of them did. How typical. What is it about men that makes them so reluctant to step out on the dance floor? Especially this sort of dancing where you don’t have to actually touch a girl? This is so the story of every cotillion and about 75% of the adult dances I’ve ever attended. Is it southern, modern or just some innate reluctance to move the body in front of others? Sure have come a long way away from our tribal origins - too bad. All my copies of that video got checked out yesterday.

Yikes! Seems like everything I say drags down into the gloom pit. This isn’t true either. I plied up the angora yesterday - the 2 ply is a 14-15 WPI yarn of uncommon even-ness - not too tight, silky soft and warm to both touch and see. I’m really, really pleased with it. I can’t find one thing to be gloomy about this. Two ounces spun up about 180 yards - plenty for the hat. And better than that - I dug out of the stash some chocolate brown merino roving, not the world’s softest merino, but soft enough - and it will spin fine into a perfect compliment yarn for the angora. I think I still want a tan color - perhaps a dark camel - for this project, but I have lots of white merino top. I can dye some of that - maybe even this weekend.

I also pulled out the beautiful Golding Spindle to experiment with the brown merino and rediscovered how much I love this tool. The process flooded back into my fingers immediately. A beautiful thin yarn with a lovely ply seemed to just grow out of my hands. Ahhh yes. Sensual loveliness. Spindle spinning is a little slow and I want this yarn right away, though, so now that the bunnystuff is off the bobbins I’ll use the wheel to make up my hat’s worth. In fact, I’m going to make enough for mittens too. I’ve still got several ounces of bunny left and I want a pair of mittens. I’m thinking I’ll do a stranded color pattern on the back and then weave the long float across the inside of the palm. What pleasure it will be to scrunch my cold fingers against that furry mitten lining.

But truth? What I really want is some bunny underwear. Yeah ... can’t help thinking about an angora bra!! ooooooo Yum.

posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


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Wednesday, March 17, 2004  

Chocolate Eclaire Biker Guy tempts Bess from her new slim ways.

posted by Bess | 2:38 PM


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Insomnia strikes again and I’ve been prowling downstairs for an hour. Darn. I’ve really been savoring the good night’s sleeps. Eh. So. I sit down to the computer and Yikes! What’s happened!

Oh lawsee - BD has plugged in the old machine and I’m using windows98. The thing creaks like an antique Regency Roué’s corset. Lord love the man, but I wish to heaven he’d just accept that no computer will ever please him, junk the old crap and adjust to whatever other really inconvenient thing Microsoft can come up with. I have adjusted to XP and don’t want to listen to this dinosaur’s stomach rumble any more.

Poor man - I knew he’d hate XP - it’s so oozy - the way it hesitates an insolent moment before opening up the next screen. But for all it seems creepily slow, it is still faster than the old machine. Sigh. Still and all, this machine really is his work machine and if he has to spend all day with it, he really ought to have what he wants. Just that - I can’t believe he wants this!

Yesterday was excruciatingly long and by the end of it I was dragging. Probably why I couldn’t stay asleep during the night. A 9 a.m. meeting, 2 hours with my friendly dentist, including a Novocain shot that did something weird to my right ear, then my WW meeting after work. All, with the exception of the dentist’s chair, were things I enjoy but man oh man, by the end of the day I was wiped.

The best part of it all, though, was working with a new knitting buddy. There is just about nothing as much fun as someone who wants to understand your pleasures. B really wants to see how it all works. Explaining a sock to her in my “what’s really going on here” manner was complete pleasure because she sees it. Her mind wants to understand the reason you do something, not just obey someone’s instructions. Of course, she has the mathematical grasp of a gifted quilter, coupled with the esthetics to see why this pattern should be used, but not that one. She’s working on socks as well as a Lopi sweater. It was utter joy to hold that heel flap and show her what I want her to look for when she starts picking up gusset stitches. Been a while since I felt my knitting brain touch the knitting brain of another.

This is different from the pleasure of seeing your students produce something lovely. That is fun and a little like magic - but so often my students don’t make it their own - they wait for me to tell them what to do next. I am opinionated enough to offer all sorts of suggestions, but what fires me up is when the student says “hey, look, I took what you showed me how to do, and did this with it!”

As for my own fiber foray - I merely knit a little on the mohair sweater, and when I got home, spun a tad of the angora. Oooo that is the nicest thing to spin. So soft, so slick, so silky. I’m still working in my head with color ideas for the bohus/fair isle tam. Can’t decide if I want to do whimsical designs or traditional ones. Isn’t it nice there’s plenty of time to come to that decision. It’s one of the joys of spinning - that you can let your fancy take flight while you are sitting grounded with your wheel.

Today is hump day. It is also Wednesday, which means story hour. And green - for the Irish in me - me gran’ma was the gran’daaahterrrr of an Irish potato famine immigrant who did whell in the new whorrrrrld. So the luck of the Eyerrrrrrrish to ya!

posted by Bess | 5:42 AM


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Tuesday, March 16, 2004  

So what resonates from the fall fashion flings flung across the globe? Yes, yes, I’m still wandering down the fashion aisles at the NYT, on the way to the obits. Just my little morning routine. And culling from the plethora of words, my favorite bits such as this little quote:

In Milan, Miuccia Prada took pencil skirts and interspersed them with shirtwaist-style dresses on models who, in either outfit, brought to mind a naughty librarian who perhaps moonlights in a house of domination.

Mmmm. Now that’s quite an image.

"C R A C K ! Put that book back on the shelf in alphabetical order!"

Okay, bad me. And what else is going to float the boats of Neiman Marcus customers this fall?

More quotes are called for first:

The fall collections may veer from a head-to-toe look, but perhaps because of all the tweeds and masculine sobriety the clothes seem to dictate a strong, distinctive shoe. Variations on the librarian brogue heel appeared first at Calvin Klein, in black suede, to give weight to Francisco Costa's washed silk dresses and black wool felt coats.

Well well, who knew we were such fashion arbiters!

Okay, I would really love to see a librarian brogue heel - but there were no photos. One can only assume they mean huge, ugly and black. The goth look for the 50+.

What they don’t mention (although they do photograph) is the fur choker scarf, like the one on all the Martha Stewart photos - and on the Ralph Lauren tweed pencil skirt suit - which is drop dead gorgeous and I would buy it in a minute if I had a spare $2 or $3K - and which I will hunt for in the budget priced version come autumn. This accessory is not new - the cheap rabbit fur version has been available in Richmond, that slow poke of a fashion pool, for two winters. I promise you, if I purchased one and wore it down here in the sticks, I would be tres chic, vraiment!

One other accessory mentioned as cutting edge is the big gauntleted glove - and so my knitterly friends, do get your hands on a copy of Anna Zilboorg’s Magnificent Mittens and join the fashion forward. In fact, you might combine Meg Swansen’s I-cord gloves with Zilboorg’s gauntlets and have something both intellectually challenging and cutting edge at the same time!

Now isn’t that a nice segue into the fiber content of this blog? Mighty thin reading here, though.

Woops! LD just popped in - off to chat - only fiber news is more spinning on the angora. Yum!

posted by Bess | 7:38 AM


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Monday, March 15, 2004  

The Clunn Forest is done - 4 oz spun up to 300 yards of crinkley grayish oatmeal colored yarn with a sort of DK looking weight. I didn’t measure it - I’ve misplaced the WPI dowel and am too lazy to go dig it out of the heap in the den. I’ve noticed several breeds spin up into the above mentioned color. Shetland especially, has a gray cast (Gad I hate to spell gray with an A but the durn spell-checker constantly changes my E to an A). Anyway - I am not sure I’ll leave this yarn in its natural state - grey is not my color. The crinkles make me want to knit this pile into one of those lace mobius scarves. It might also look lovely as gloves. It’s a dainty looking yarn.

It was a very spinning sort of weekend. After hanging the CF out to dry I pulled out several different silk skeins - and realized that one must be bombex and one tussah - because one is a heck of a lot silkier, shinier and smoother than the other. Both are lovely and the colors would certainly go together well and by combining them I would be enough to make a shell - but I’m not sure I want to put the two textures together. Mixing colors and textures takes a subtle hand.

Glad to experiment, though and I pulled out a couple of other bigger fibers - both wool - and spun little samples of them. I have pounds of brown lambswool roving of some unknown breed, which I bought last year at MS&W. It’s very interesting what weather can do to your perceptions of things - for I didn’t get a chance to sit down with the brown lambswool till summertime and it was hot and sticky and itchy. Yesterday it was probably 50, cool enough for this achy body to enjoy a small fire in the stove - and that lovely brown wool spun into gorgeous aran weight 2 ply; even, lofty, and not a whit scratchy.

I finally settled, though, on 2 oz of caramel and white angora fur. I bought 2 bags of this at the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival last October, along with a 1 oz bag of pure white. I’ve spun up one oz of the caramel and will put the other oz on another bobbin to make a 2-ply. This, I am spinning as thin as possible - certainly trying for a sport weight - and by golly, I’ll dig out that dowel and measure it, or make another one. I want an angora and something else knitted tam - probably merino handspun dyed camel colored. And niggling in my ambitious brain is the idea of entering it in the MS&W competition.

Angora is delightful to spin. It’s also very fluffy, as you might expect, with little fluffs of fur floating about the air and sticking to your clothes. It ought to be murder to spin in the hot sticky summertime, but in the cool of march it’s rather fun. It certainly will spin out fine and evenly and joins are very easy to make. The surprise comes when you ply it. POP go the fiber ends, creating the prettiest silkiest softest fluffy haze. I’m plying it pretty tightly because a. I’m spinning it fine, and b. I don’t want it to shed when I knit it. I suspect the tight single will not untwist too much when I ply it and thus, the fibers will be held down more securely.

I am thoroughly enjoying Knitting in the Old Way. I’m reading it slowly, largely, I think, because I feel so crummy. It’s not a tome - though it is big enough and expensive enough. But it is rich with information. I’m not a huge book owner - ”No, Really!” - I work in a library, fer cryin’ out loud! But I do like to own certain books - books I will use again and again. I never buy novels, I don’t want to own most pretty pattern books, and eventually I will own all the Barbara Walker stitch books. The only new books I want to own are the ones that crack open my brain and pour in ideas that weren’t there before. I am not sure - but I believe KitOW will turn out to be a keeper. After I pay off VISA, that is.

I will drag on down to work today. I’m at that swimmy, headstuffy, can’t breathe stage where there’s no comfort anyway so I might as well go to work. I can always go home if it proves too much. But there is a 5-year plan meeting coming up and I don’t have that paperwork here at home.

posted by Bess | 7:23 AM


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Sunday, March 14, 2004  

As to be expected, the DragonThroat sank about 12 inches, transforming itself into the ChestOgre. I sound like a fog horn off the Maine coast. This is so seriously un-fun, but I will say that, if I had to get the mold/pollen crap - at least I’m getting it when I can use sick leave, instead of when I planned to take vacation. I mean - things really could be worse. And the wise perspicacious fairy godmother whispered in my ear on Thursday ”take hooom the budget sheeets, taaaak hoommmme the budget sheets” So I can fill them out here and drive them to town in the a.m. even if I am too crusty to hang out in public.

(Bess figuratively dusts her hands, a smug look on her face.)

For some reason the H family didn’t trash up the house much last week so after a tad of vacuuming and dusting, I tackled a long overdue project in the kitchen - evicting all the mealy bugs who have spent the winter there - and their spider predators, too. One hesitates to talk about bugs when referring to one’s house, especially the kitchen, but I live in the country in a house without A/C. The screens are wooden framed and there is much about this house that, while charming, is not hygienic. I don’t mind. Long ago I made the existential leap required to share space on the earth with bugs. In part it was join ‘em or leave, because they will outlast me and any other human, down here on the banks of the great grey green greasy Limpopo er Rappahannock River. But I was aided in my philosophical journey by two great southern authors; Florence King and Frances Parkinson Keyes. FK and FK - hey - I just noticed that. How delightful. Anyway, Florence, if you have never read her and were ever wondering if Southerners were really as they are portrayed on TV, and if you wanted to live at Tara (though I can’t imagine why, it’s the ugliest house - you’d do much better in Atlanta, or at Twelve Oaks), will give you the complete run-down of Southern Characters. Her book Southern Ladies and Gentleman is a classic - only ever so slightly dated with the 1970's “I am woman I am strong” stuff. It will explain to you all about the southern gynocracy that created such things as miracle wombs and the disease called Nerves. Truly - you will come away from Ms. King’s south, utterly enlightened and extremely glad you grew up somewhere else - unless, of course, you are southern, in which case you will feel particularly smug and flattered.

Anyway, buried in this book is a passing reference to the fact that southern houses all get bugs - roaches, she has the boldness to state. Those bugs may be chased out immediately - or they may be tolerated like all the other ethnic groups which were assimilated so swiftly into southern culture. (You will never find a “little Italy” in a southern city and just you try to locate the German neighborhood in Richmond! Yet only 100 years ago there were so many Germans immigrants, the city supported 3 German language newspapers!) The day I stumbled on that passage a great weight lifted off my chest. I only have the little woods roaches, but have them I do, in season. Those I chase out because BD has such a Yankee horror of them. But I tend to leave the spiders alone - even if I sweep out their webs - because they are such an aid with the smaller flying creatures - mosquitoes especially.

Frances Parkinson Keyes (pronounced like “eyes” with a K in front) wrote wonderful novels, both historic and contemporary, of the south, of New England and Europe. Her opus spans the 1930's-50's; her life encompassed 3/4ths of the 20th century. Alas, she is OOP now but if you are lucky your library will have something by her. She was so popular in her day that I doubt I’ve ever been to either a used book store or a book auction and not found at least one title. I have two spare copies of her book Came a Cavelier, because I believe it is the most romantic story I’ve ever read and when our library’s copy wears out I want to be able to put another one back on the shelf. It may be there are still a few of her books I haven’t read, but I devoured most of them when LD was a wee one and I had lots of time to read. (He was that sort of infant.) I stumbled upon the passage referring to bugs fairly well along in my perusing of her works - in the book Crescent Carnival when Patty Forrestal, my favorite character even if she isn’t glamorous, confesses softly that she rather thinks all southern kitchens have ants. I could almost hear Mrs. Keyes’ editor telling her to substitute ants for roaches to keep her non-southern fans from getting sick to their stomachs.

Anyway - the bugs are gone and the crusted spices are too and my kitchen is open for inspection. And I am ready for a long slow Sunday with spinning and knitting and napping. Happy March.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM


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Saturday, March 13, 2004  

A day of moping about with a tiny bit of spinning, a tiny bit of knitting, and a tiny bit of reading. Nothing feels good so nothing is too much fun. Eh. Just the way it is with these things. I’m never sure if it’s allergies or a cold, because I always seem to get whatever it is at mold/pollen season and my voice always disappears, but I also get a fever. Yuck. Crumbs.

But other than that - well, really, I mean, who can be but so grumpy when she gets to stay home! And the book I’m reading is Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson Roberts; revised edition. It’s pretty much what I hoped it would be - which is an in-depth discourse on the different folk sweater designs. As a devotee of Elizabeth Zimmermann, I am firmly in the camp of what I might call Organic knitters. I like things to flow from the simplest foundation in a manner both logical and flexible. I knit in the round almost exclusively, although I will knit flat if that feels like the natural flow of the garment’s construction. I actually just knit because the process feels good. There are so many little swatches in my house it’s like a linen shop for mice or dolls.

I like to introduce my students to the idea that if you have beautiful yarn you can pick up needles and begin knitting a garment with it. This is utterly thrilling for 75% of the people who come to me wanting to learn to knit. It is utterly frustrating for the 2% who want to learn how to read patterns. I suspect there are those between one extreme and the other, though, who wonder whatever I am talking about, but are willing to go along with me. So far, they have always been pleasantly surprised with the results of their cooperation. And a few students have really taken flight - soaring far beyond me in their production and creativity.

I’m just at the beginning of the discourse on the different sweater shapes. So far I have enjoyed the section on yarns & fibers, but been slightly confused about the descriptions of the different knitting styles. This confusion isn’t all that serious since I understand what she’s saying - just don’t follow how she says it. It is entirely possible this is because of DragonThroatStuffedHeadSyndrome. I’ve picked up a good tip about knitting with silk and some interesting insights on knitting with cotton - a fiber I quite love, but have avoided working with because I don’t have a dryer. Cotton sweaters grow so long with each washing they end up with chimpanzee arms.

It looks to be a gloriously beautiful weekend. I’ll probably sleep through most of it but I plan to finish the Clunn forest blend and 2 more pattern rounds of the mohair lace sweater.

posted by Bess | 6:15 AM


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Friday, March 12, 2004  

I just couldn’t get my butt going yesterday and since I’d cleared the major hurdles of the week by 4:30 Wednesday, I just went home. It was a gorgeous March day - clear blue skies of that particular color that goes with the pinks of maple blossoms, a moderate breeze, 50 degrees. BD and dogs met me as I drove up with hugs and wags. After a short nap - good gracious where did that need come from? - we headed out on a magnificient walk. When I crossed Farmer’s Hall Creek on the drive home (which happens to be right by my driving praying place) there were 30 turtles sunning on logs. I insisted we walk back to see them, but we took the roundabout way - by Robert’s Landing, LD’s house and then down the road.

Now - we’ve had bald eagles around here for a good 20 years and I always feel like they are good omens. I knew there was a couple living close because I see them flying over the farm every week. We struck out across the field, headding west, and decided to take the shortcut across Robert’s. Emerging from the woods we were arrested by the flash of white feathers. It was Papa Eagle - feinting and guarding Mama. We stood transfixed, on the edge of the field - with the slope down to the marsh at our feet. My eyes scanned the tree line along the bank and lo - there she was! The nest looks new - though it may merely be refurbished. Only her head appeared above the sticks, but she never took her eyes off of us. With a courteous nod and a wave, we strolled on, hearts swollen with joy at discovering Where the Bald Eagles Live.

We walked and walked yesterday, talking about things, admiring the early spring - but I forgot that it was maple season - not maple syrup, either, but maple pollen and oh my - by the time we got home around 5:30 my throat was on fire. Dang these stupid pollen allergies. 12 hours of sleep later I am actually worse, though I hope being up and moving around will help some. It’s probably been coming on a while - whence the mild depression - because I had an ache in my back yesterday too - the sort of thing you get when you should be feeling fine but aren’t. Rats.

How am I ever going to get out into my garden?

I’ll stay home today. I have about a gazillion hours of sick leave, so I may as well use them. And something in my pollen-dusted brain told me to bring home the budget sheets (due in Monday) so I can work on them at home. The main thing is to be somewhere I shan’t be tempted to talk - I’m afraid flames will come out of my mouth.

While waiting for dinner to cook yesterday I sat at the wheel and finished up the first half of the Clunn forest blend. Rather, I should say, I took a look at what was left of the roving, had the wise thought of weighing it, and found I’d spun up exactly half - so I put on a new bobbin to spin up the rest. Before I started on the blend, though I got to wondering about all that angora I’d picked up over the years. I’ve got a lot of it, but have never tried to spin it. Hands rummaging in the heap, bag discovered, I was soon spinning up the soft, slick, slippery stuff. Oooo it is nice. This particular batch is short, maybe 2-3 inches. It was a lot cheaper because it was the short stuff - but had still looked long enough to my ignorant eyes. After working with it I realize that it would be more fun to spin the longer fiber, but I couldn’t really say it was difficult to spin - and goodness, it is delicious to handle. I only spun a little bit of 2 ply, maybe 15-20 yards. Enough to knit a tiny sample. It looks like DK weight - which is what I seem to naturally spin, when spinning fine.

Spinning it fine, and fairly tight, made a very smooth single, but when I plied it, all the fuzzy tips popped out giving the yarn a marvelous haze. My brain is thinking “fair isle tam with pattern in angora!! - dark yarn with pale design! Maybe Bohus knitting” Of course, I don’t have any suitable dark yarn. Oh. Yes. I do, No. I don’t. I have lots of Shetland but I don’t want to mix it with the angora - it’s so stiff - only -maybe the stiffness of the Shetland will give a nice body to the hat, while the angora design will give it a little balancing drape.

Well - now you see how my mind works. Rather goofy - but it’s because I have so little actual experience with some of these fibers. I think I’m about to launch myself into a hat sampler collection. There are so many different designs swirling around in my brain, and while I enjoy knitting small swatches, I think I’d rather have some real garments to display these forays into fiber experimentation. Besides - I seem to have given away an enormous number of finished objects. I have very little to show when it comes time to inspire new students.

And perhaps if I finish up some of the fiber/yarn/stuff in my stash I will indluge myself with 20 balls of Cashmarino Aran in Cinnamon from Ram Wools, to knit that aran sweater with matching hat I long for.

posted by Bess | 6:02 AM


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Thursday, March 11, 2004  

Yikes! I realize I had better make reservations for a room at Md. Sheep and Wool. I’ve been thinking it’s waaaay off in the future - but it’s only 7 weeks off. I am not going to try to cram it all into one day this year. Of course, if Spirit Trial Fiberworks gets a booth slot, I’ll be up there working with Jen - but even if she doesn’t get in, I plan on spending at least 2 days there. I’m awfully tempted to go for 5 days and take a class but I don’t believe I can take that much time off. Still on the discussion table is a flight to Oregon for Ben’s graduation, the weekend after MS&W. Best get hopping with these plans.

The only fiberish activity yesterday was some spinning, done after I got home. The wheel really loves this clunn forest blend. It spins up a slightly grayish cream color I don’t particularly like, so I’ll probably dye the yarn. It is coming out a lovely fingering weight yarn. There is also the idea niggling in my brain, of working something up to put into the competition at MS&W. Who knows - I may even get the Stained Glass Vest done by then. Pulling out the photos reminded me that the darn thing really is almost done. It’s just that I find it really hard to rip stuff - it interrupts the momentum - and, like mending, it’s easier to just start something new. Goofy, huh?

It feels good to be over the hump of this week. For some time I’ve been battling intermittent blues and yesterday was a navy blue day. Fortunately a trip to the gym at lunch time helped enormously - squeezing depression out of its muscle storage containers is a fantastic symptom treatment. Another symptom band-aid will be my upcoming vacation. 10 days without answering the phone. Yep. Sounds just right. I’m not exactly sure what is the long term underlying cause of these blues, but I have some suspicions. There are some bigger things that will have to be addressed fairly soon. I don’t like living with dark clouds looming. But thank goodness for those band-aids.

Okay - no new vibrant scintillating insights - and no photos, no rants - best go look at motel rooms.


posted by Bess | 6:27 AM


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Wednesday, March 10, 2004  

I've been enjoying a spate of 8 hour sleeps - rare in my menopausal phase of life - and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Couple that, though, with the NoPersonalInternetUseAtWork policy and I don't have quite as much time to post as I have in the past - much less read all the interesting things that prompt brain-meanders.

Spring is thrusting itself into my consciousness - reminding me that once again the Ice Follies are up and I haven’t pulled all the grass out of their beds. Now I must do it by hand instead of rake. Rats.

Last night was our knitters group and two of my new students were there with finished hats! It’s amazing how beautiful these hats end up being and wonderful how proud the students are. I’m reminded yet again, what a dumb beginner project a scarf is. B O R I N G beyond belief. A hat makes them switch and change and do something different every few inches. Rib. Increase. Color pattern-work, Decrease. Pompoms. Way cool.

Being out late at night always energizes me and I sat up pretty late with BD - he reading, I spinning a blend of Clunn Forest/angora/alpaca I got from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. It spins sooooo fine. I’m thinking lace.

Last night was also a lowering experience at WW - for I have gained back 1.8 lbs - and am back on the weight loss part of the program. I knew it had happened, although I am not altogether sure it isn’t the result of working with weights so much. No matter what the cause - I know I have not been eating quite as healthfully as I like - I can feel it - it’s a vegetable thing. Time to rein in the sloppiness before it gets out of hand. Ah well. I knew this was for lifetime. Sorta like marriage, right?

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


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Tuesday, March 09, 2004  

Oh. My. I finally got this film developed. That red glow is my blushing face. I had no idea I had taken these photos - It was so long ago.

So won’t you step into my gallery?

First is a shot or two of Isabell damage. Here is what BD did so we could get back into the woods. This tumble of trees is 1,000 feet long, right outside the front door. They fell like dominoes from the marsh to just behind ld’s car. It has changed my home forever.

Here are some photos of the stained glass vest, which, alas, is still in this condition.

The repairs will include ripping out the shoulder seams, taking off the garter border around the arms, and putting on a thin i-cord trim, probably a few stitches further into the body of the sweater. As things stand now, the shoulders wing out in a most unflattering manner.

This is a set of before and after shots of my stash - not much difference, alas. I really do need something better than cramped corner to store my goodies. I need a studio, don’t I?

Here is Sunday’s shawl - and the dyed silk. The match is pretty good. Too bad about the fading. It doesn’t show much in the photos. Fortunately, there is a heck of a lot of blue so I don’t think it will be too bad.

posted by Bess | 7:19 AM


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Monday, March 08, 2004  

Man I hate it when a perfect weekend comes to an end. I want every day of my life to be part of a perfect weekend. Glorious sunshine greeted me yesterday, slightly cooler, but still pleasant enough to not bother with heat. Crisp colors, vibrant distinctions between edges, blueblueblue sky. Sigh.

The only fly in the ointment was that I’d accepted a dinner engagement. Now - I am truly an E in the personality test world - I am energized by people. I solve problems in a group. The longer I stay at a party the more fun I have. BUT

I also need, cherish and, this year, don’t have enough, down time. Time alone. Time spent idling, dawdling, selfishly forgetting anybody else exists in the world. Time to read MY book. Time to take a nap. Time to stay up late knowing I don’t have any obligations tomorrow. So, twined with my group nature, is my solitary streak. Every time I looked outside at that perfect world I would get all bent out of shape knowing I had to leave it at 6 o’clock. I mean it - what sort of friend asks you over for dinner!!?

Lesson learned - don’t accept Sunday night invitations. LD was invited too, so we both went and had a good time, mind you - nobody would ever know how much I grumbled between 2 and 6. But I have to keep in mind just how precious that last day of the weekend/vacation is to me and remember to make excuses when I’m invited out.

I had a grand time in fiberland yesterday. I knitted a shawl out of two Trendsetter yarns, Aura Antique in color #2023 and Segue in color #118 - which is much more of a blue/green Monet sort of color than it appears in this photo (which makes it look sort of tan)

It was one of those cast on 3 stitches and increase at both ends of every other row shawls. Knit till there’s not much left and make fringe out of the last bits. What a fun project. It took exactly one viewing of Pride and Prejudice to knit the whole thing on size 50 needles! Those things are so big I had to prop the needle in my lap to knit the first stitch or two of each row. Not my preferred knitting, but not bad for a few hours. And what a darling of a garment. It’s just a tad bit skimpy as a shawl, for someone with my shoulders - which are quite broad - but with the fringe, it’s okay. And it works perfectly as more of a scarf. And it’s drapey enough to tie around your head to make a sort of turbanish hat - a la gypsy dancer.

I took photos - who knows if they’ll show up - I had to use a regular camera outdoors and the wind was blowing like march lions. I’ll pop the film in this morning and if they turn out, I’ll post them either later today or tomorrow. I still need to even up the fringe and even my good scissors fray this a little so I’ll have to be in exactly the right mood to do the trimming. Like cutting your own bangs, if you’re the least bit tired, you’ll make a crooked mess out of it all.

This is a real one skein wonder - you certainly don’t need the aura antique in this shawl so you could save $15 off the price. The Segue was about $25 a skein and you only need one. It drapes like rayon although it’s a polyamide - at least, the ball band says it is - is Nylon a polyamide? Have to ask the chemist. If you had to have a wrap for your evening gown to wear at the soiree tonight, you could start it in the a.m. and still have time to get your hair done in the p.m.

Consulted with Jen on the cloud of plum sweater and feel more confident now about the gauge I’m getting, so I also got in a few more rounds of that as well. And of course nothing puts me in a better mood than P&P. All in all - a perfect weekend. BD was home when I got back from dinner out - welcome lights are just soooo nice on a dark and stormy night - which last night was. It was our first thunder storm of the spring.

Today we go to a sad funeral - one of those freakish deaths that come out of nowhere, an unexpectedly young man and a heart attack. It is the sort of thing that throws all plans out the window, for I had registered to go to a reception in Richmond today. I’ll be sorry to miss an old friend coming to speak all the way from Texas but I would miss saying goodbye to Loper a heck of a lot more. Good thing my horoscope warned me to go with the flow this week - don’t try to make anything happen. Guess that’s just what I’m in the mood for too. The unplanned life. Yep. Sounds right to me.

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM


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Sunday, March 07, 2004  

Here’s a bummer. I dyed my silk yarn yesterday. I didn’t have a recipe for how much pigment to use to work with silk, but Jen had said use lots more. It turned out a gorgeous shade of bronze-gold. Pretty much an exact match for the handspun mostly blue with a little b-g near one end. But lawsee I had to rinse and rinse and rinse to get the yellow out of that silk. So, while I was at it, I remembered that the handspun still had a strong vinegar scent and decided to rinse that. Well - darn - it faded. Sheesh! Now the bronze/gold is more medium peach. Is this a stinker or what? Not that I can’t wear medium peach, but there’s nary a bit of bronze-gold in the stuff. Rats and all.

Next time I will dye my own, by gum.

Eh. That is the world of color. You have some influence over things, but you have to accept some serendipity along with it.

Yesterday was a fabulous day, all in all. Dear dear BD was off to a conference - and the whole house is MINE all MINE. It is also clean since Sheryl visited. That means I get to do all the fun things there are to do around here. First a great step workout to my favorite Brazilian Forro music. An hour of that plus ab work = 7 aps, for you weight watcher followers. A quick dash to the post office delivered me this - which I spent a fortune on, but which I also found was, if not rare, was difficult to get my hands on. I wasn’t about to let this one slip away, for these outre knitting books don’t stay in print long.

Back home I cleared off the kitchen counter and spread out the huge plastic tablecloths. They’re big enough to drape down the fronts of the cabinets and even be stood upon. Thank goodness, since during the process, I managed to spill some red dye down the edge of the counters. It took less than an hour to get the beautiful color in my silk and I was soooo tempted to keep on dyeing things, but it was still raining outside. I only have so much space to hang damp skeins of yarn and hanks of fibers. Besides, I also wanted to get knitting on a sweater I’m doing as a contract piece.

While soaking the yarns, though, I started fiddling with wardrobe stuff. It’s so tempting to put away all those dark winter things. Oh, I know it’s not going to stay warm like this forever - but it’s not going to get freezing again, either, and the light is softer this time of year. Those dark browns and things that look like giant hugs of wool are just too heavy in spirit to wear now. I have enough lighter colored, but winter weight clothes and some heavier warm weather ones - but of course, one can’t just move them around. One must try them all on first. What still fits from last year? What doesn’t work any more. (Sigh, that teal blue suit - just too darn big to even pretend.) What can be combined with something else? What am I absolutely going to have to buy to pull it all together.

Anyway, this is something entirely fun for me, if incomprehensible to BD. It’s the sort of thing I prefer to do alone. And while playing dress-up the sun came out so I went ahead and did the laundry. It was nigh on to 2 before I sat down with my old buddy Elizabeth Zimmermann, her Knitting Workshop videos, and a cloud of stormy plum and gray mohair yarn. A couple of hours of knitting and hanging out laundry and I was ready for a nap. Oooo a delicious luxury of a nap. I can usually only sleep an hour, but that’s enough to keep me awake till nigh on to midnight. In my perfect world, I will always be able to take naps.

LD came over for dinner and we chatted for a long time. It’s fun to dream up things with him. He’s very creative and yet utterly practical. After he left I got in the first tape of Pride & Prejudice, then slipped off to bed.

Yikes! Yeah. A bed heaped with baskets of clean laundry. So before I settled down with this, I had to fold up all those socks.

And to think - it’s only Sunday morning and the sun is shining and there’s some green silk that would like to be spun up waiting for me.

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


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Saturday, March 06, 2004  

Fiber stuff at the end

Here my friends, is a profile of one of my favorite, in the whole world, animators - Zdenek .Miler. You probably never heard of him. Till now, that is. Now you are richer by far, than you were a little while ago. Almost as rich as I. At least you know about Mr. Miler and Kretk. And if you ever visit the Essex Public Library, I can show you some of the Krtek, or Mole, films, for I have a tiny remnant of the old State Library film collection, and whoever the department head was back in the early ‘90's, he had the wisdom to snap up the tiny selection being offered in the US.

I had no idea there were 62 of them. I have 3 and have seen another 4 or 5. They are so special. They are without dialogue, but the little sounds of surprise, disappointment, sorrow, Miler uses to convey important emotions, are universal. They are witty, funny, clever. That they aren’t available to American children is one of the saddest things - one of the reasons I hate television. Too much lip flappin’, as my dear father-in-law used to say. Too many anvils smashing on heads. Too much falling off of cliffs.

Mind now, I don’t disdain the value of things that go BANG. I also understand it’s a guy thing. I even enjoy loud noise myself, at times. It’s just that, I would rather have wit, cleverness, whimsey, and gentle teasing for the meat of my literature, with BANG as the punctuation. I don’t need to be smacked up side the head. Please, please, surprise me with a revelation - or better yet - let me discover it myself!

I have had the great good fortune to watch a number of foreign animated films, collected by that long departed film librarian. The collection was eliminated in a budget crunch, via the hideously faulty reasoning that “it’s all available on video, now”. Yikes! You tell me where you can get your child a copy of Pixar’s Tin Toy, the Dorothy cartoons
or Canada’s Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin! (OH - well - of course, Peggy Rudd, State Librarian of Texas, has it in her collection. Heck. She is the one who saw I got the old State Library’s copies!)

And - here is a source for Cinderella Penguin. (Do watch the end, when the credits roll - and see the babies hatch!!)

Anyway - I don’t mean to dis American animated films. I think America has produced some fantastic cartoon art. I’m just disgusted that folks can’t get their hands on - and eyes wrapped around - some of the fantastic stuff produced in the rest of the world.

Now, my dears, because this is a knitting blog - well, it’s a Bess blog, but with knitting as it’s content - do check out Zdenek .Miler’s sweater! Oooo. Beautiful.

I have my silk soaking in the downstairs bathroom. It goes on the stove today. Huge gusts of Florida breezes are stirring the treetops today. I have the front door open to flush out winter air, but we are warned. Cold weather is on the way. Sigh.

posted by Bess | 6:57 AM


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Friday, March 05, 2004  

Join me in a stroll down memory lane with:

Today’s Friday Five
What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name?

Miss Bame, probably all of 21 years old, in a brand spanking new babbyboomer elementary school in what was once an agricultural county outside the state capital. She was sweet and soft and pretty, the way a first grade teacher ought to be, and she taught 80 children a day, in two shifts of 40 children. Every time I hear a teacher whine about overcrowded classes of 25 or 29 kids I sneer with disdain. I remember she brought in the biggest pumpkin in the world for Halloween and, whatever it was she did, she left me with the feeling that we’d all carved it. Later that week she asked if anybody wasn’t going to have a jack-o-lantern that year and since my dad was a great one for teasing his kids, and he’d told us we weren’t going to have one, my hand popped up. It was the only hand that did so and I was proudly awarded the behemoth. My big sister had to carry it home, but I overheard my Dad say how embarrassing it was that the teacher thought we were too poor to have a pumpkin. She also passed me, even though I couldn’t read at the end of the year.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?

The one that came on Sunday - Rocky & Bullwinkle, of course, wasn’t that everybody’s? But before that I liked Mighty Mouse. Mama once said if all mice were as cute as he was, she’d welcome them as dinner guests.

3. ...the name of your very first best friend?

Edie McNeal, of the huge family next door with brothers as big as men. Her mother put the kids out in the morning and locked the doors till dinner. Since there were 8 of them in something like an 800 square foot house - I suppose I don’t blame her.

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?

Cap’n Crunch. Still is, actually - but mostly for desert.

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?

Hard to say on that one - but what I probably did do was either play with dolls (the only girl in my family to do so) or devise ways for my little sisters to torment my big sister. We lived in three neighborhoods when I was growing up and each offered different types of play. In the first, starter home neighborhood there were so many kids you never lacked for playmates. In the second, a much more upwardly mobile, striving, grasping sort of place, everybody seemed unfriendly but we were surrounded by a magical glorious woods with a stony creek, fantastic sled trails, and enough acorns every fall for the girls to get into acorn wars with the boys. The final neighborhood was an old, established, settled city neighborhood with big houses on big lawns within walking distance of shops and schools and libraries. I liked that one the best.

And now that I’ve successfully filled up a page with text I will add just a few more in-the-present tidbits. Daffodils are blooming - I noticed them first when driving home on Wednesday. Only a few in my own collection of 1,300+ are open, but they are boldly singing in the springtime. This week of gloriously warm weather has me hating my winter clothes and stalking the shops for bright colors. I was unable to resist some new duds, either, and this year there is a salmon/apricot/orange/pink that is enormously popular AND it’s the only pink I can wear. Do you wonder who now has 4 new items in salmon/apricot/orange/pink?
Though we are expected to get rain this weekend, I’m going to dye the silk yarn that Jen sent. This is not a handpaint process, but an emersion one - and doesn’t need much space. It can dry in the downstairs shower. There’s no hurry on it, because I’m doing a contract knitting piece right now anyway. And if it really rains all weekend, I won’t have to feel guilty about knitting all weekend long and not cleaning up the world’s worst mess of a garden.
2 weeks ago Bess had something of an epiphanal talk with Bess about her weight training and since then I’ve found it remarkably easy to keep to the exercise routine. Mind, now, I hadn’t not been working out - just not with the regularity I felt I ought to commit to. Well - while trying on all those delicious new clothes this week I realize the effects of the effort are already visible. Nothing like visuals to keep up the enthusiasm.
I am really ready for spring.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM