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


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Friday, April 30, 2004  

A word about pink.

Lest you think I can't stand it - that is not true. In fact, I can appreciate, if not actually enjoy, all colors. But an entire store full of birthday cake pastels is more than this au-naturel gal can stomach. I even get tired of autumnal colors and long for the bright of a turquoise or the softness of a lavender gray or the crisp blue of a summer sky if thanksgiving dinner colors are all that are offered. It's the sheer quantity of PINK and LIME GREEN and freakin' TURQOUISE that makes my skin shudder and my teeth feel like they've bitten down on cotton.

Color, though, more than anything else, keeps me out of boutiques and small clothing shops. It is almost impossible, when a shop has a very limited selection of items, for the owner/buyer to be either diverse or neutral. Now and then, I suppose, I might stumble upon a boutique owner who's color preferences marched with mine, but I can't remember that I have ever done so. In fact, they mostly seem to run to either the clear blues and reds of Lands End and L. L Bean, or the shrieking pastels of Lilly Pulitzer. Even the neutrals tend to be on the cool side and the ubiquitous black, that "goes with anything" color, is something I can wear only below the waist.

Thus, I'm a department store shopper, because they will usually have enough of a selection to offer something, somewhere, that I can wear.

Now, I know all you lovely people with fair skin and no freckles and who adore taupe are muttering that the only color you ever see in stores is orange but that is not true. I have bought all the orange items because they go so well with the dark chocolate brown already in my wardrobe.

It is so delightful that I can dye my own fibers now and if I want an all chocolate ensemble I can darn well make it myself.

I have only Maryland Sheep and Wool talk left. I plan to leave today and hook up with Jen, who has graciously offered to put me up for the night. We leave at Crack-0-Dawn tomorrow morning because we are both taking the Spinning with Beads class, in which we are to be sitting, spinning wheels at our knees, by 9 a.m. We are both half magpie, and can always be completely distracted by glittery stuff.

And now I shall confess the most idiotic thing about me. I am homesick.


You got it.

I have talked, thought, spun and knit only MSW for weeks and months and really nigh on to a whole year, and as the day of departure dawns all I can think of is this terrible ache in my heart about leaving BD. If I didn't know I was about to have the UtterlyMostGloriousTime, and in fact, if I didn't know for sure that I really want to do this most of all; certanly more than I want to shove dusty furniture around, I would probably decide that "Nah, I think I'll stay home". Ha!

I think I'll go hug BD. See ya on Monday or maybe, if I'm really bushed, Tuesday.

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


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Thursday, April 29, 2004  



I had never heard of Lilly Pulitzer. So she shows up in Catherine’s blog with a reference to needing sunglasses indoors and now in Threadbear’s newsletter.

So of course I had to go look.

And then I had to go brush my teeth. That is entirely too much birthday cake frosting.



So. I guess now I'll have to buy the book. "The next Martha Stewart"? Can't afford to be behind hand.

Sigh. It looks like the Florida version of L.L.Bean Preppy. It looks like my creepy sister in law. Huh. Well. Yeah. She lives in Key West. Duh, Bess. It will go over big at my library.


Huh. I am flummoxed. I can't seem to write anything after looking at that web site. Weird. And I had this beautiful picture to post today - all about gorgeous color. Best just post that and be done with it.

Oh. No - I also have to report that the MwT painted the hideous wardrobe that is to be my stash container and now it is beautiful. A pale blue, a color I chose to compromise with BD who likes all colors as long as they are blue. He really likes this blue.

So - it's off to work I go, with two objectives: type up the board minutes from last week and tidy my desk.

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


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Wednesday, April 28, 2004  

Here are the promised photos:


Here's the top - rather pretty ruffle, but the green comes out looking grey.

and a sort of three quarters view...

Here's the new addition to the family - a rather dark photo but this is the surprise sent to me by L last week. I have promised to give it a good home.

And here is yours truly, petting Topsy the 112 year old dog. That's Priss the foundling, behind me.

posted by Bess | 11:26 AM


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MSW grows ever closer and I get ever more excited about it. In addition to the sudden plan change that took me to Richmond yesterday, I had forgotten that today is Wednesday and we all know what Wednesday means. Half a day of play with toddlers. If I did this all day long it might be tiring, but since I do it for only 2 hours a week, it's sheer delight and I'm usually in my playful mindset for a good bit longer. So now this has turned into a 2.5 day work week - what a surprising treat.


All this talk about truncated work weeks might make it sound as if I don't like to work - or at least, don't like my work. Well - that just goes to show you one ought to both think before one speaks and not try so hard to be clever sounding - since that nearly always means being negative.

Actually I love work. I love the concept of work. I love it that man is supposed to actually do things. And I have been particularly fortunate that I have been able to choose the work I want to do, not just from day to day, but also across the long expanse of my life. I have been lucky enough to work unsupervised my entire career. This has given me great scope for creativity, thought, and responsibility. It also has required great creativity, thought and responsibility. There are times when I drive past the trailer park on the way to work and think "God I wish all I had to do was go stock shelves at WalMart". This usually occurs when I have very heavy responsibilities - usually the result of some thought I had begun to carry out - only to find it wasn't as easy as I had imagined while awash in creativity.

But I know just how stultifyingly boring mindless work can be when that is all you have to do. I worked retail as a young girl. I mastered the art of looking busy while doing nothing. Part of my ennui about work is the result of the major push made to get a new building. The true ENFP would have to have some down time, a period of mourning, after shepherding a major project like that through to completion and something that big and involving that many people actually did have to be completed. The inevitable "what next?" question has nagged at me for ... I am ashamed to say it ... years.

Happily, with the completion of the dreaded (but so needed) 5YP I know what I'm supposed to do next. What a relief! How easy it is to go to work knowing what the eventual target is. It's actually quite fun. Oh, I know there will be those horrid periods when we either have to beg for $ or account for $, huge bookkeeping and politicking efforts. But with a PLAN there is always this shining target up ahead - this Shangri La - this golden moment - this raison d'être.

It is a tremendous load off my mind - and it is also so far off into the future that I can afford to function with only half a brain this week, while the other half dreams about Maryland Sheep and Wool. This is what the weather is supposed to be like - so I better pack more sweaters and fewer pairs of shorts.

And when I get to work I will scan in the photos I picked up yesterday. Prepare to be offered color, if not to be actually delighted.

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM


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Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

Ah. Decision made. We will not move into LD's old bedroom. The only place to put our bed in that room is against the west wall - but the door to the attic is along the west wall. If BD wanted a bedside table, he'd have to put it right in front of the attic door. Now, yes, we could move the table, if we wanted to go into the attic - but I've seen BD's bedside table - and moving that heap of books and papers and pens and junk, is more than I'd want to have to do. So - we stay in the west bedroom and don't have to adjust to change. At least, not that particular change.

In all the upheaval of the great Empty Nest archaeology project, I was able to make off with a treasure. An ugly, heavy, but perfectly proportioned, wardrobe; the sort with a column of drawers on one side and a space to hang coats on the other. Big GuysWithMuscles hauled it down to the back porch and the MwT will paint it for me to match the trim in the den - where it will soon reside, tidily enfolding my stash of fibers and yarn.

I used to think it would be better to have all my stash visible - so I would use it instead of buying more. I envisioned a mini-yarn shop, with bins holding the different yarns. Unfortunately, what I own doesn't lend itself to neatly sorted bins of different colored yarns. What I have is a mishmash, crammed into milk crate sized bins so tightly that you can't really tell what is there. When the eye is confronted with a jumble, it sort of blends everything into the "Stuff" category - and then the brain can eliminate it the way it does the white noise of a refrigerator hum.

So, if I'm not really going to see what is in my stash with these open shelves, I'd rather have a tidily closed door on everything. Perhaps I can keep an inventory list posted inside. At least things shan't spill all over the floor.

I have another happy surprise announcement to make, but I will probably put that in tomorrow’s post. Just know that we have an addition to our house, a gift from a dear friend. Thank you very much, Larry.

I've been pouring over the MSW catalog and here's the list of things I want to scope out this weekend:

· A couple of processing mills
· McClellan’s Frankenmuth
· Zeilinger Wool co.
· Taos Valley Wool Mill
· The Drafting Zone (they’re in MD!)
· Mangham Manor for mohair top or sliver
· Kimmet Croft Fibers (Yarns in the Bohus Tradition - that means angora blends)
· Wild Meadow Angora
· Hunt Valley Cashmere
· Parade of rare breeds (Sunday)
· Equipment auction (Saturday)
· Somebody who sells soft chocolate brown camelid fiber - either llama or alpaca
· Have picnic lunches with KR Forumites
· Try out the Lendrum wheels - I know Serendipity Farms has them and so does The Woolery

I also discovered Majora Acres & Custom Colored Critters who have 4 Romeldale/CVM breeding groups for sale. I don't plan to buy a flock, but I hope to goodness I can find some CVM fiber to buy at the show. (California Variegated Mutant - I know, sounds like something from a SciFi TV show but it is the most beautiful brown soft fleece you ever touched.)

Another place revealed in the delightful MSW catalog, though not planning to be present, is Rising Meadow Farm where they breed Moorits: the true brown sheep. A sumptuous chocolate experience! (from their add) Now, for a sallow skinned brown haired gal - what could be more tempting? I'd far rather wear my chocolate anyway.

Okay - I have some photos to develop and I'll get them done today - to post tomorrow. I'm off to the dentist at lunch time and will continue on to visit my folks in the p.m. What started out as a 4 day week has now shrunk to a 3 day week. That's like not going to work at all, right? Oh happy May.

posted by Bess | 7:08 AM


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Monday, April 26, 2004  

5 days and counting. Take off, for me, will actually be Friday, so there are only 4 days of real waiting. I am so cranked I feel like an engine in overdrive. How like me to have total turmoil all at once. It is just so typical of the way my world functions, that the house is in an uproar at the same time I'm gearing up to dash off to the maddest sensory overload weekend a fiberista could enjoy, and up till Saturday, have been working on a piece of knitting with a deadline attached. I never do anything sedately. It always seems to be crunch or nap time. Nothing in between.

Yesterday was a real marriage test. By the skin of our teeth we passed it, too. It was time to clean out the Son&Heir's old bedroom. Really clean it out. It's the biggest bedroom, because BD and I subscribe to the theory that the biggest room ought to be the kid's. We grownups get to keep our stuff all over the house and nobody yells at us to clean it up. When guests stay over they don't sleep in our room. Kids are constantly told to Get That Stuff Outta Here! and when their friends sleep over they stay in the same room. Whence the dictum: Biggest Bedroom Goes to the Kid.

That room was something of a shrine, because we only had the one chick and he was such a progeny! Such an improvement on the parents. It was really difficult to do anything with William'sRoom after he left home. I was too sad. Too tired. To unwilling to deal with time marching. So we left it pretty much what it was - and it became a Mecca of wonder to every child who visited They all knew it was chock-a-block full of cool stuff that used to be played with by the coolest guy they knew.

But of course, we needed the space, and BD took over a corner and made it his shipping table - where he packs up his maps and books and ships them out. Plus I took over the bookshelves along one wall - at last a space for Bess' books. (Believe me, every other book shelf in the house is full of TheOther's books. Mine were the ones on the floor.)

So - a life time of childhood, a warehouse and shipping office and a library were all crammed into that space.

There is an outstanding book, sadly now out of print, with the long, but apt title 'What to do when your parents say ... Clean Your Room'. It's part of a series - What to do ... Be kind to your guests, get good grades, take care of your clothes... It is the absolutely best book on how to clean up the bedroom from hell. I remember reading it when LD was a lad and then passing it on to him. It points out that sometimes a mess is so big you can't figure out where to start. You can spend all day and never get anywhere because you just don't know how to begin. So it says "first thing; make your bed". Then you have a place to put things while you sort them out. Basically it shows how to go about something one bite at a time till you suddenly see how to finish the whole project. It teaches organizational skills centered around cleaning up a messy kid's bedroom.

Like a good mother, I used it to teach LD how to tackle TheBigMess, but I see I never showed it to BD and it wasn't around when his mom was doing her job. So he panicked yesterday, then threw a tantrum, then stomped around hostile and frightened by the enormity of the task. The metaphorical bed in that room was all of LD's mementos and a quick phone call got him over there WithTruck and once that stuff was out of the room it was a heck of a lot easier to figure out what to do next.

So, now that the room is half empty and half heaped in the center - we are asking ourselves if we'd like to take over the Big Bedroom. It's a temptation. More space would be rather a lot of fun. It would be cooler in the evenings in summer, but a lot colder in the winter. I always wanted the morning sun to wake me and that room is on the east end of the house. The change would really be different. I believe we'd get another dresser out of it and all my books could be in my bedroom. There's no oak tree out the back window, but there is one out the side window.

Decisions. I tend to like things to stay the same, when it comes to house interiors. Still - 44 feet of extra floor space - it's certainly a thought.

And the marriage survived.

Yesterday was Topsy's Birthday. She is officially 16 years old - or, in dog years, 112.

posted by Bess | 7:44 AM


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Sunday, April 25, 2004  

Ever since the trees unfolded their fragile green leaves, BD and I have been waxing nostalgic about England. This sentimental wallow is being aided by the All Creatures Great And Small video series, which we've borrowed from the library. Though Yorkshire is not Essex, the Englandness of it is the same, with those funny cars that drive on the "wrong" side of the road. I still can't get used to watching Jems escort Helen to the driver's side. I never got used to it there either.

Nothing in the world could have equaled the warmth, loving generosity and lavish warmth of our hosts Anne and Denis. We have talked of little else for days, now that the Virginia countryside has clothed itself in delicate blossoms, fluttering green leaves and clear blue skies.

May in Virginia is the most beautiful time of the year. If I were in charge of the world there would be half a dozen Mays in a year. Now is the time when you can leave windows and doors open and bugs don't crawl in. You can go barefoot indoors at last. You can eat on the porch and listen to the serenade of the songbirds, peepers, and little rustley things. It is also nice that, if you have 6 loads of laundry to do, you have enough warm Saturday to dry it all on the lines. Even puffy down jackets are fresh and clean and will be hung in the attic today.

I shan't be able to get to Mama's today, but I have to have some dental work done on Tuesday so I believe I'll just keep on going west afterwards. By the time the Novocain is worn off I ought to be hitting Midlothian Turnpike and we can have lunch and a good visit and I'll be home before 5. Yes. If there's nothing on the schedule at work, I'll take Tuesday off.

Today there will be precious little fiber stuff going on. We've decided the most efficient way to tackle the Transformation of the Bedrooms is to move everything in both rooms into the center of the floor. That means, of course, emptying the spare bedroom. That's where I tend to dump clothes before sending them to the attic at change of season. Then, there is the task of cleaning all the family photos that BD hung so tenderly on the stairwell wall (after promising me he would dust them regularly - which he has done ZERO times!) They're piled on the bed at the moment. It's a real rogue's gallery and it is even somewhat entertaining. But gad it's a dusting nightmare. After that will be the moving of MyLibrary - admittedly small, only about 45 books - but then I have that other collection in town. It's just my fiber, art and gardening stuff. Things you need, late at night, when you can't remember how to make that double decrease S2tog,K1,PSSO. We'll take 3 days' worth of clothes downstairs and clear all wall areas and let MwT's at it. I expect it all to be done by Friday, but since MSW is next weekend, the great PutBack will have to wait. Oh, mind, now, BD is welcome to have a go at it. The clean up, by then, will be mostly his stuff and if he wants to put it back coated with antique dust, well, that's his business. My bedroom will be pristine.

I wonder just what else there will be to say this week, besides "I can’t wait till Friday!" or "Hurry MSW!" I think I shall be just about worthless the whole week long. But the stars warn me (and all the rest of you precious Virgo's out there - yes, 1 twelfth of the population - beware) that I am to ignore every bull, in every china shop, I encounter. Since I am married to one - my precious March 31 Aries BD - I am promising myself that I will bite my tongue off before I let myself lose my temper. I will not be irritated no matter what crashes to the floor.

posted by Bess | 7:45 AM


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Saturday, April 24, 2004  

I feel so light! BigStuff at work is done with - we had our Friends of the Library spring meeting yesterday - sparsely attended, alas, since it was idiotically scheduled for the same day as our local garden week tour. Garden Week in Virginia is a BigDeal. Oddly, enough, for someone who is a pretty serious gardener, I have never gone on the tour. For one thing, it always comes at a very busy time at work. Then, till recently there haven't been any tours closer than Richmond. And I'm friends with enough of the owners of the big houses on tour I've already seen their gardens in all their glory. In fact, I will be one of the hostesses next year. Just been a set of circumstances that has kept me out of the Garden Week activities.

All next week, while there is important work to do, it is all easy and a rather large portion of it is merely shopping. And the next two weeks are going to be 4 day work weeks - deliciously truncated weeks that have all the sensation of vacation without the piles of accumulated stuff that usually greets one after a vacation. And smack in the midst of the next 2 weeks is Maryland Sheep and Wool! This year I am hitting the show both days - with nothing I really need to buy - just the joy of looking and touching without that anxious feeling that if I don't buy stuff now I will run out of good things to play with before next year.

So. FOL stuff out of the way. 5YP behind me. Alice Starmore hat almost done, ready for overnight mail to Maryland sometime today. I forgot, the entries have to be in hand by Wednesday - so only one for me this year. But two happy ideas are right up there near completion and they can be entered in Montpelier in the fall. And there will be time enough to pick out the boucle yarn and see if it can be reused. If not - it will just be one of those learning - painful learning - experiences. It was still fun to make. I will know if the yarn really can't be picked out and can then justifiably cut it off the hat and keep it as a lavish swatch, or as a memento of the last time I used mohair locks and a reminder of why I intend to buy mohair top from now on.

When I dyed up the dark blue merino to use on the OnceToHaveBeenBlueBoucle hat, I forgot it was on the stove and it began to boil over. I caught it fairly quickly, but I wondered if the boiling would felt the yarn. Thank goodness it didn't. It's very soft and fluffy, but of course, a little splotchy, and darker than I had intended. I'm definitely at the "scarf" stage in dyeing.

The bathroom is finished except for the sink base - an interesting bit of BD carpentry that needs a coat of white enamel, which we have not bought. I'll give the room a good scrub and put all the rest of the stuff back today. Sometime this weekend we have to shove possessions into the middle of the spare bedroom - or ours - or both. Hmm. Well, so far, everything has worked out; I may as well assume the rest of this project will do the same. Complex projects have always fascinated me, the way some people enjoy puzzles. I am sorting out the time, money, activities and desires I have right now, wondering if I can DoItAll. I suspect I shan't be able to - but it's worth a try and no matter how much actually is accomplished - a lot more will have been done than had I not tackled it all.

So - can Bess get the house put in order, the house torn apart, the house put back in order again, the hat blocked, the visit with her parents, the bank accounts repaired, the state taxes done, the festival enjoyed, the new computers bought, and keep the BD happy all in 9 days?

Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure of CrazyWoman!

posted by Bess | 6:59 AM


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Friday, April 23, 2004  

MwTs are flowing upstairs, erasing souvenirs of countless treks to bed, dozens of stealthy tiptoes down to look at the Christmas Tree, fossil remains of summer bugs, one 2 year old's handprint from Thanksgiving 5 years ago and I-don't-know how many years of grunge.

The downstairs is almost put back together again, though there are still some small heaps on the back porch that need to be sifted. Just in time to move things out of BD's office. That room is being saved for last, thank goodness. Now that the kitchen is done, his shipping room, which used to be LD's bedroom, is now the guest room and which contains all my books, will be the second most horrible room, mostly because it has so many tons of books & maps in boxes. But nothing will compare to the kitchen because that's the place where the grease is. And grease mixed with country house dust - ugh! And, as I said, the kitchen is done.

But today the MwT will finish the trim on the stairwell, the upstairs hall, and do the bathroom. And that will be that. I'll have 2 days to clean and PutBack before chaos returns. Man - I am cleaning this house more times than a set of jumper cables gets used at a redneck funeral. But it will end and it will be worth it all.

There is now only one more week before I begin the actual Holiday that is Maryland Sheep and Wool. I am taking Friday and Monday off, so I can thoroughly enjoy the experience. I am already bored with anything but talk of MSW anyway, but at least I can pack on Friday and play with toys on Monday. And something about a 4 day week feels like almost having the whole week off. Besides, I'm over the hump of the 5YP so it already feels like I've completed April's assignments. It's not so, of course, but it feels like it.

And since the show is so close, of course I have dyed up a little dark blue wool to spin and knit into a brim for the once-intended-to-be boucle brimmed hat. Maybe. Maybe not. It's cooling in the downstairs shower and I will rinse it tonight, hang it to dry and ... if nothing else, admire it tomorrow. Alice Starmore is almost done, just working on the crown cap - but I'm going to stitch down the hem before I knit any more. I want to be sure the crown itself is high enough. It's a neat looking hat and of course, even if it doesn't actually fit me properly right now, I can enter it in the show, and undo it afterwards, to make any adjustments needed to create a flattering fit.

Hmmm. Time to sew that hem down right now.

posted by Bess | 7:00 AM


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Thursday, April 22, 2004  

No progress on any knitting project, but 2 hours of PutBack occurred, and one can't have everything in this life. For sure at least one project will get done in time to enter it in the MSW and since the push for entering at all came from the desire to actually knit something, not just think about knitting and write about knitting and talk about knitting, one entry will still qualify me as a Goal Achiever.

From the summit of yesterday's hump I saw the board react with pleasure to the draft 5YearPlan which means the slow drudgery and long brainfreeze moments of the past year were worth it all. This thing has hung over me for years, actually, but nobody, including self, could find the motivation to work on the darn thing. Last summer I promised same self that before the end of this year (a governmental year, from 7/1 to 6/30) there would be, not only a 5YP but a process whereby it would never become such a looming, pointing finger again. Into the plan went an evaluation process, with dates attached. Let us all hope it proves effective, creating a procedure that circumvents the need for a MassiveEffort in the future.

As for making the great PB effort less onerous, I have committed to 2 hours every night of tossing, scrubbing and returning. Alas, there is not as much tossing as I wish - what is it about that little round glass jar with one nutmeg in it? - if only I can get rid of the bread machine - It is amazing how many things are kept for reasons that have nothing to do with their usefulness. But I am steeling myself ... perhaps more like aluminum foiling myself - and there is at least some reduction in the sheer quantity of stuff I share space with.

The Washingmachine MwT will be here before Saturday - so he promised me last night on the phone - but since he's an unknown quantity I will only count on his reliability after he's shown up. I would like to go visit my parents this weekend, and may do so in spite of the heaps and mounds and piles, but Saturday still seems so very far away I can't bring myself to make a promise about it. If possible I will rope in LD to do the driving. That would free my hands for knitting, and besides, I know they'd really love to see him. Everybody is always glad to see him.

I see one of my favorite blogs is now kaput. Jahara - I sure miss hearing about your life and hope all is splendidly well with you. My blogrolling list is in need of culling - and I promise to de-litter it one of these days. How I admire the folk who really keep things up-to-date and full of pictures. Admire, mind, not aspire to. It is enough that I get in a daily post - something I have never been able to do on paper.

Okay - looks like a little time to do a little knitting. Ta.

posted by Bess | 7:26 AM


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Wednesday, April 21, 2004  

What is it about changing weather that is so exciting? The wind shifts south and moist heat begins to flow across the land and you are ready to pull off your clothes and dance outside. Another shift and clouds are blown away by a brisk north breeze and the body wants to leap. The past week has pumped through so many weather cycles my heartbeat has doubled. One week ago it was utterly pouring down rain - sheets, buckets and torrents of the stuff limited one's view to about 25 feet. Then clear skies flowed in, with Caribbean blue skies and baby green leaves that seemed to have fallen instead of raindrops onto trees only yesterday skeleton-like in their winter bark coats. The weekend brought hot winds from the south, drying out the ground as if it were July, followed by somnolent heat that sent the Darlings over the edge of the boat for a scream inducing April swim. And now it is raining again, April's medicine, settling the pollen that was putting us all to sleep.

All this Weather coincides with Mars' opposition to Pluto - Power and aggression against transformation and obsession. Lawsee - and my library board meets today. What do the stars hold for that? Can a group have a horoscope? Hmmmm. It would be Libra, I suppose, because the board began meeting in October of some dimly remembered historical epoch - at least, I hope it would be Libra with its insistence upon balance, fairness and evenhandedness. Obviously it's not a Scorpio board or it would be able to generate more cash. Well, my house is certainly being transformed, and I am obsessed with Maryland Sheep & Wool - as well as finishing my projects, all of which are a joy and none of which are even close to completion. Of course, with hats, knit from the brim up, that last bit of rapid decreasing at the top of the crown always surprises me with how swiftly it comes to closure. Catches me off guard before my natural dislike of completion can kick in.

WARNING Sweet Mushy Stuff I Hadn't Planned To Write About

Ha! So. I am very much a multi-tasker here on the web, especially from home, where we have C R E A K I N G dial-up access. So while I wait for a page ( or several pages) to load I come back here and type away on my blog entry. I just read about Annie's darling who did things with the car when other things, which might be construed as Her Fault, went wrong. It brought back one of the sweetest memories I have. Not such a long-ago memory either - but a scene from February of 1994.

We'd had a week of hard frozen ice storms that kept everybody home without power. Then, in true Virginia Weather style, the following Monday the temperatures shot up to the high 60's. I had been in town at a meeting and was coming home in the early evening dark, taking the back roads to cut off 15 miles, singing along with the oldies radio station and jaunty with windows rolled down. 8 miles from home I rounded a curve in the road where there is forest on the south side and hit a patch of black ice. Wham! I was careening. There was a moment when I had to decide - go into that tree or into that field and I had the wit to choose the field. I never have claimed to be anything but a moderate, bordering on indifferent, driver, so this feat was, in fact, a triumph.

The field, 3 inches of cold mud over 12" of frozen ground, was not 500 yards from a House With Lights On and, though I ruined my favorite shoes, I had no real difficulty getting there, knocking on the door and asking to use the phone. In a small rural county, everybody assumes he knows everybody and nobody is bothered by an unexpected summons after dark. A call home was answered with anxious queries about my state of alrightness and a swift promise of rescue. The stupid husband of the house spent the waiting time by ribbing me about women drivers, cementing my dislike of him, but when those two pair of broad shoulders, both of them 20 feet wide, wedged through the front door, and those four arms wrapped around me, I can tell you, nothing was ever so beautiful, so comforting and so smugly dismissive of Mr Stereotype.

Whisked home, I was urged to take a hot bath (my first line of defense in any stressful situation) while the Darlings drove back up the road and got my car out of the field.

I tell you - there is nothing in the world as good as Good Guys. And though that moron husband-with-phone still laughs at me whenever we happen to see each other, he also doesn't read, so our paths rarely cross. In fact, I so dismissed him from my repertoire of faces remembered, that I am always caught off guard when we do meet and he starts making fun of my driving. My answer is usually a blank look, a shrug and a pivot, so as to move in a different direction. And the UPS man told me he knew that patch of road, too, and had run into the same field that same week. I add only that neither of the D‘s has ever commented on the incident.

Yes. I think it's a good story too.

Alice Starmore is a little closer to being finished. The house is worse than you ever imagined - but also better. My how my kitchen gleams.

posted by Bess | 7:06 AM


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Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

In the Land-0-Chaos the GwTs have emptied out the kitchen and foyer - in a most expedient way - with half the kitchen in the front yard and all winter coats heaped on the upstairs hall floor. Of course that means I arrived home to find another GwT cutting the grass. This particular guy is a brand new 16 year old who has been my partner in lawn maintenance for years. He's a unique blend of cheek, wit, and mechanical ability, with parents to die for. But he is after all, 16, and now the grease coated things that hung from the kitchen ceiling are bespeckled with grass bits. Ahh well. I knew this project would leave me with a whole lotta scrubbin' goin' on. Walls done, trim to go - but these are the two areas with the most carpentry so I expect it will take all day to get them done. And tomorrow the drizzly rain is predicted to begin - and last for the next week. Or, it may only be muggy.

Whatever the distant future, the immediate one involves more chaos, meandering paths through long forgotten possessions and the ubiquitous PuttingBack. The effects of this transformation are less startling after looking at the completed rooms for several days, but I cling to the sure knowledge that once completed, the beauty of the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

I am inordinately preoccupied by sugar plum fairy dreams of Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Festivities begin the day before, when I travel west and north to spend the night at Heaverly's Heavenly Hospitable House. It will juggernaut on till either late Sunday or Monday morning. I've wisely taken off both Friday and Monday. I will be taking the spinning class on Saturday morning - spinning with beads!! What could be more delicious?

Knitting on the Alice Starmore hat goes slowly - this trellis design is harder to read than the flower. But oh oh oh you would not believe how great the colors look together! That blue makes the green pop out on its gold background. It's a fantastic color effect. I'm so thrilled, because, though something told me these colors would work - they rang with a dissonance, like a diminished fourth chord, when held next to each other in skeins. But like that transitional chord, which fulfills its destiny by leading the ear to yearn for resolution to the dominant note, the blue actually completes the color scheme.

Well, forgive the musical terminology. Just trust me that these colors go marvelously together.

And if I want it finished before the show I'd best get those needles clicking. If you pray, please send up petitions for me, that there will be enough red yarn to finish this hat. I shall be praying thanks that my cousin George made it back safe and sound from his year in Iraq.

posted by Bess | 6:14 AM


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Monday, April 19, 2004  

Well. Yesterday brought me a "No Duh!" moment as I bound off the gorgeous boucle fabric that was intended for the folded cuff brim of that plain blue hat. The hat is knit from a aran weight merino, spun in a woolen style but from combed top. The brim is a two thread mohair boucle - in other words, a fairly tightly spun single of mohair trapped in loops between two threads. I picked up the stitches from the cast on and knit 4 inches - and now I have a blue hat with a drooping blue boucle brim that hangs down like a legionnaire's cap, not just in the back, but all the way around.

Well, No Duh! What did I think was going to happen when I knit with thread? It's a complete mess - I can't think of a way to fix it either. It has been set aside to stew - while I decide to rip, or cut the stuff off that hat. I am not sure it will rip off the hat anyway, since it's a very loopy boucle. But I can snip off the picked up stitches and lose only some of the stuff. At least I’ll be back to the clean slate of blue merino watch cap.

One fix would be to knit a brim carrying both what is left of the boucle (there's enough) and a strand of merino. I have some spun as a thin single on my drop spindle, and rather a good bit of the aran weight I knit the hat with.

Another fix would be to spin up some white merino and make a brim of blue and white yarn in either slip stitch or stranded colorwork.

But mostly I'm thinking what an idiot I was not to realize ahead of time that this would happen. What a dolt.

Eh, so. Knit and learn. What I did discover is how utterly beautiful the boucle fabric is. Also - that I want the color changes in the accent color to be much shorter, when I come to spin up the boucle for my jacket. And I believe I will also have a little strand of something like a thin wool single to knit along with the boucle. It's too light and fluttery a fabric for a jacket. It would make a great shawl though. oooo. Delicious. It's like any lumpy novelty yarn; difficult to rip or tink back, so the simpler the pattern for it, the better.

Well. Nobody could have told me this. My fingers needed to learn it. My eyes had to. This had to be a kinesthetic learning experience. And it was.

Man, though, that boucle knits up into something pretty.

Of course, disaster on one front means turning in a different direction, so I picked up the Alice Starmore hat and finished the brim last night. Now it's time to decide on the exact design for the crown. It will be a trellis design, something curving, but geometrical. It's just a matter of deciding how many repeats I want - thus how many increases I need to make. This hat is one I plan to wear, so I will slip half the stitches onto another needle and try it on before settling on the eventual size of the crown. Since it is Crack-0-Dawn right now I will probably get a little knitting on that done this morning.

And I ripped out all the bunny bonnet yarn and soaked it. It's hanging in the downstairs shower as you read. More thoughts on that are bubbling around inside the old, and quite meagerly stocked, noggin. I still can't believe I did something as stupid as to forget the nature of loopy boucle.

But as I typed the above, I suddenly realized, not only why I made that idiot decision, but also what the difference is between loopy boucle and core spun boucle! I had made a hat back in '02 of handspun core spun boucle, carried along with a wool single. The technique for a core spun boucle is to take wisps of mohair and spin it around a core of thread, pushing it up and letting it tangle in glorious abandoned puffs and fluffs of cloudy color. It is then bound down with a ply of a second thread. But all that winding of long, strong mohair fibers around the core thread adds to the tensile strength of the yarn. This gives it heft and bulk. It also makes more of a lumpy yarn than a loopy yarn. The loopy boucle is just a thread yarn and the mohair, spun into a fine, tight single, is pure decoration. It adds color, texture and filling to the fabric, but no structural effect - no heft. Essentially you have a thread yarn. And this particular boucle was spun with two lengths of a silky quilting thread with even less structure than a cotton thread would have had.

Well. I shan't forget again.

A hot weekend has left the house in that wonderful state where I can go barefoot. What a joy it is to be shoeless. The D's spent the day on the river, and I reorganized my stash in the den. Ugh! I am a greedy glutton. This is truly a deadly sin. Thank goodness I found this out before Maryland Sheep & Wool! I simply must use up some of this stuff before I purchase more.

Of course, that doesn't mean I might not buy some alpaca, and more angora bunny fur, and perhaps some kid mohair top. I have promised myself to take the easy road with color, next time I try to make loopy boucle, and go with handpainted top instead of fiddling with combing the locks - and having static filled piles of colored goat hair all over the dining room table, floor, my body, pets, and wrapped around the brushes of the vacuum cleaner. Who knows what surprises are lurking at the festival. I could succumb to a fleece - only I won't. I mustn't!

But - I will take my correidale to one of the mills, Zielingers or someone like that, and have them card it up into roving for me. I am even thinking of taking all my Falkland Island Polwarth, which is so full of second cuts, and see if they can comb it into top for me. I won't have much left over, after such a preparation, but, oooo, what I would have would be so delicious. I think I'll call today and see if they can do this for me.

And now it is a Monday. A Monday with a Board Meeting in the middle of it. With rain predicted for the Board Meeting Day. And GwP come today to do the kitchen. I see nothing but huge PutBack evenings ahead. I am so glad I didn't believe these guys were ever going to come. If I had, I should have been a nervous wreck, trying to clean the house and "get it ready" for them. I would have done a ton of work and it still wouldn't have been ready and I would have still had it all to PutBack when they were done. This way, I just get hit with the fait acomplis and have to deal with only the consequences, none of the angst.

Hmmmm. Maybe I plan entirely too much. Bring on the serendipity!

P.S. On a silly note, Marg led me to do a googlism on my name, but I already knew I was in for embarrassment, because there is a filtering software called Bess and so of course I came up with this:

"bess is now currently serving millions of people in thousands of organizations across North America"

Hey, I'm nice and I'm helpful, but I'm not that nice or that helpful.

posted by Bess | 5:56 AM


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Sunday, April 18, 2004  

Of course, nobody can put dusty dirty furniture and pictures back against clean white walls, so I spent yesterday cleaning, as a preliminary to the great PutBack project. Cleaning and sorting and tossing. I had ment to take before-and-after photos of the living room - it would have been impressive - but I forgot the before shots and the after shots will now only look like somebody’s tidy room full of late Victorian furniture.

My MiL was the last of her family, and the only one to have children. As each generation faded, she inherited furniture and when I stepped into the family she was just closing up her aunt/cousins house, built in 1898 and furnished, by the judge and his wife, not in Arts and Crafts, but in the height of curlicue and marble top. This was post-war south and folk were not going to buy furniture when there was perfectly good stuff at Papa's. And so we have Cousin Kate's bed, Aunt Tee's marble topped pie safe (folk are always asking about it, with it's carved mantle and screened sides) and one of those glass bookcases with doors that pull up and then slide back, like roll top desks, only flat. Ancient furniture does not like to be moved, and lazy husbands seldom empty out cabinets and bookcases before moving them. Fortunately, good little virgo housewives won't put them back withoug doing so, and they will commandeer MwTs to repair the loose tenons, caused, in part, by the passage of time and dry heat, but largely by being hefted and hoisted while still full of heavy things.

It took a good while to get going on the whole project, for the house was slowly waking up to guests and family and a sort of giddy joy inspired by weather warm enough to allow breakfast outside. SS and his friend wandered about my garden - a weedy mess, and before we knew it, we were snapping off those tall phlox stalks, revealing the carpets of blooming violets and ground ivy, laughing at the bold sauciness of the sweat pea, who thinks it will defeat the violets, and sighing over the bullying climbing White Dawn rose. That one will have to be moved - it's right alongside one of the main paths in the garden and it's not just aggressive, it attacks. Poor garden, I have neglected it shamefully for so many years. Happily, SS and friend are basically hippies and like the idea of invasive plantings. Not a shred of embarrassment there - though I did think the garden and the house bore striking similarities, in their blowzy, sloppy haphazard clutter.

LD showed up with girlfriend and the energy really cranked up after that. Rapid fire conversation, passionate exclamations, happy sharing. It was fun to see BD swell into his role as pater familias. And soon enough they'd scattered, leaving me with my project - half of which I completed. The living room is ship shape - for me, that is, and I tried to begin work on the den. That proved beyond the body's endurance. Something that big is going to require the freshness of morning. I did figure out, at last, how to set the date and time on the answering machine, and while hauling out ThingsHidden I discovered my old high school yearbooks behind the collection of turn-of-the century novels I've promised myself I will read before they get taken to the library's sale shelf. Who wouldn't want to read Madonna of the Barricades or The Bondwoman? There is even a copy of Cluny Brown. Hammock reading, for sure.

So the most difficult to reach corner of the den is cleaned and dusted and ready to ignore - but the heaps and mounds of fiber stuff on the floor, couch, chest, and table tops has got to be tamed. Even at it’s best it shan't look all that good, but one will, at least, be able to walk through the room to the French doors.

Alas, the washing machine died on me, mid cycle. That particular ManWithTools isn't available till tomorrow. I shall have to take this week's laundry to LD's house before I tackle the den.

Hmmm. I suppose nobody really wants to hear a blow by blow account of my housekeeping projects. All that is left, then, is the happy news that the hat part of the blue boucle hat is finished - a soft cushy hug of a blue hat. The cuff part will knit up easily on size 8's sometime this evening, after the stash is tamed. I'm of two minds about blocking the hat now, or after the cuff is added. I'm very curious to see what blocking does to the merino - I doubt it will do much at all to the boucle. But done it shall be, before I go to work tomorrow. Then it is back to the Alice Starmore - the second half of which I believe I shall knit in a trellis design. Flowers on the bottom, trellis on the top. Sounds just right.

The Anniversary Dinner was at LD's house last night and it was pure happy laughing pleasure - a couple of bottles of Spumanti - which is my favorite, LD's smoked venison, mountains of new potatoes, salad and cherry pie. We sat outside listening to the peepers and the bull frogs and some screaming toads. First came Venus, then came the wishing stars, as we bid goodnight to the pale pink of a fading sunset. I believe I will order up 30 more such years.

posted by Bess | 8:44 AM


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Saturday, April 17, 2004  

It's like living in someone else's house. Or better yet - it's like the ultimate messy bedroom from your childhood - but with the added delight that no parent was going to come in screaming that you were grounded for life till you cleaned this place up! It won't last long. I begin the PutBack today, but it's certainly fun to savor the utter chaos of the surprise attack of GsWPs.

A bit more on this subject; the den is done and the living room is done, but the woodwork, while dry, is still soft. Big items may or may not be put back against the wall - depending on the scuffability of the baseboards, though we ought not let that stop us. Nobody will ever see those bits of baseboard till we paint again - I am not a furniture rearranger. Everything fits in this house like a puzzle piece or a ship's cabin. My task for today is to tenderly, lovingly, and at my own pace, clean, dust and polish all the odds and ends and small stuff littering 504 square feet of floor space. This awesome task, this should-be daunting effort, spreads out before me like some promised treat. I am the last of the lovers of housekeeping, but there is something so big, so pervasive, about touching every bit of physical evidence of myself - my life - I can hardly wait to begin. Imagine the treasures of a lost and forgotten world, just awaiting my touch to be brought back to life, or to be given final and fitting burial.

All that's necessary is to chase everyone out of the house; an easy task, this first day of real warm weather in spring. SS is visiting, with friend, and LD says he'll be here in half an hour. BD has the boat in the water and he's ready to be Host&TourGuide. I know these guys - once on the river they won't be back for hours. LD promises to do the honors for dinner this night - though I think I shall slip into town for champagne and deserts. The important thing is that I don't do the cooking. The good thing is that I taught LD to cook years ago.

One bit of fiberly news - down to the last 6 rows of decreases on the Blue boucle hat. I know I'll get it done this weekend, in spite of the great PutBack archeaological project, and will photograph it soon. It's a very soft delicious thing. Very blue too.

posted by Bess | 7:49 AM


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Friday, April 16, 2004  

Not much knitting done the past 24 hours. The house is in such disarray it's like living somewhere new. Things are everywhere but where you thought they might be. Sitting on the couch in the almost finished den is like being in a cocoon, so much fiber is piled around, beside, in front of and behind it. We've been watching the Brother Cadfael videos for the past few weeks and last night we watched the last one while we had a late and hodgepodge supper. It was fun being all snuggled inside a fibernest. Fortunately, I know I'll get some knitting in today because we are driving up to Fredericksburg to see an art exhibit that includes a work by a dear young student friend of ours.

And tomorrow BD and I will have been married 30 years.


Now, the rule is:


(Or birthday or BD‘s birthday)

So, sometime tomorrow I will be fed delicacies prepared by OtherHands, but the rest of the weekend really ought to be devoted to putting things back. Or should I say PuttingThingsBack and ThrowingOut? The first task will be to put my precious stash back into some sort of order. This inventory/clean-up will help me greatly when I go to MSW, since I'll at least know if I already have the same rust colored yarn/fiber/dyed mohair locks I’m contemplating purchasing. Lawsee, this place is going to be so clean, I ought to give a party.

All kidding aside, I am grateful for the opportunity to fondle the stash once more before I am confronted with all the rest of the fiber in the world. Heck, I'm always glad for an excuse to fondle the stash. I will also commandeer the darlings and make them bring the old wardrobe down from LD's former bedroom. I think that will be a better container for the stash.

Glad you guys liked the FlyingBed. I like it too.

posted by Bess | 6:35 AM


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Thursday, April 15, 2004  

I had a favorite game when I was young: Shipwreck. In that game my bed was a raft and the animals, pets and stuffed, were the little children I had saved when our ship, always a clipper ship, always in the Pacific Ocean and always surrounded by sharks, went down. Mama’s old brown fan, turned on high, provided the stormy seas and the bed clothes could double as either shelter or sail. At times I could force my sisters into playing with me - though then it would degenerate into a teasing opportunity - and nobody ever got the thrill I enjoyed, of imagining myself nestled into a cozy place, edged about with imagined danger, and on the move.

The game has never really faded from my repertoire of ThingsToWileAwayTheTime, though it’s mutated into a fancy I call Flying Bed. Believe it or not, BD will play flying bed with me. This is where, when one is restless, or perhaps sticky hot on an August night, I will describe a journey we are taking, flying above the world, about 100 feet up and silent. We always leave from home when the roof magically lifts off the house to let us escape. I tell the story, my voice growing softer and softer till we’re asleep.

All this nostalgia is prompted by the way we are living right now. With everything from the den in the living room, while the BeeUTeeFul, fresh, clean, no spider webs, no scuffs, all cracks patched, fresh paint dries, there is only the refuge of the Flying Bed. We did eat dinner last night (soup) on chairs by the HEAP, but afterwards we scrambled upstairs with books and newspaper and knitting. While the last of the rain poured itself out of heavy low clouds, we drifted in our imaginary world, minus only the animals; real and stuffed.

As progress through the house occurs, we’ll eventually have to move out for a night or two - but LD has generously offered his spare bed and since the dogs already think they live at his house, we shan’t be lonely at all.

As for the hilarious tales of disaster one ought to offer up when having one's house buffed - there was only the moment when the painter opened the cans of expensive paint, bought on last Saturday's foray into the city, to find that instead of oil based enamel for the woodwork, we had a gallon of BOLDY BLUE flat latex wall paint. This, for a room in the north west corner of my house with trees outside its windows and doors. EE gad! That left BD to go pick out locally available trim paint - something he is immanently capable of doing, for he really does have good taste, but alas - the sort of frustrating thing that stimulates all his literary talent - so that by the time I heard of it, he'd bought gray paint for the den - "you know, something like that" he spat out as he gestured towards a piece of stainless steel flatware on the restaurant table. I nearly wept - till I remembered that he also said he'd taken a paint chip off a little corner of the baseboard and had the guy match it on his scanner.

All's well. We'll be out of this unusual set up in a week or two. Thank goodness knitting is portable.

posted by Bess | 8:06 AM


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Wednesday, April 14, 2004  

I suspect it will be difficult for me to say anything about anything for the next week or so, as GuysWithPaintbrushes do things inside my house. In a very manly fashion. With gusto and precision. With that particular strength double X chromosomes enable brawny arms, even when slender, to display. And leaving in their wake the most extraordinary heaps and piles and cascading tumblings of possessions.

We have done nothing to prepare for the advent of GwP. In my secret place of honesty, deep within my heart, I never thought any would show up. Each year, when I'd take down the Christmas tree I'd have to really look at the condition of my walls. Each year, when the sweaty sticky grunge of late summer would have me scrubbing them down, I'd curse and yearn for GwP to come make it all go away with their lavish, sweeping arms. But the thought of moving all that stuff out of the way, of disconnecting speakers and stereo and oh Lawsee those piles and piles and PILES of paper; magazines, letters, souvenirs, sheet music, books, and books and books and books and books. What about that collection of pottery atop the closet? All that stuff acquired when one stays in the same house 23 years. I am too lazy to move it all. And BD, lord love him - would probably break it if he wasn't his and he didn't know what it was for.

So we talked about hiring painters. We interviewed painters. We got estimates from painters. But we never really hired a painter. Even when we did hire painter, I didn't believe he'd show up. After all, that was last fall. Who would believe some GwP you talked to in November would actually show up wP in April. I promise you - even when he called last Thursday and said he'd be here on Monday I didn't believe him. And I was right to do so. He didn't show up on Monday. But he came yesterday.

I have never been one to brag about my housekeeping. I like things to be modestly tidy and for visible and usable surfaces to actually be clean on a somewhat regular basis. I will make them so at times and I will pay the marvelous Sheryl to do so at other times. I don't pull large appliances away from the wall to clean behind them. I do not think it is important to eliminate things I can't see. Who knows if they are even there? Why go looking for trouble? Oh - maybe my allergy detectors wish I would, but I am not going to. I well remember when the man came to put in the gas lines for my stove - and how horrified he was at my housekeeping. How condemningly smug he was when he told me that he'd left me lots of gas line so I could pull the stove away from the wall and clean behind it. In a deadpan, offended and haughty tone I informed him that the next time anybody cleaned behind that stove would be when he came back to install a new one.

My ability to look elsewhere is prodidgeous and how fortunate this is so.

It's a wreck here. It's a brand new baby beginning of a wreck. It is going to grow into a full blown teenager of a wreck, and then a lusty manly wreck, long before it shrivels into a wizened and aged wreck that will eventually die, at which time I'll sweep it up, toss it into the trash can, and settle back into my BeeUTeeFul clean fresh bright sparkly home.


posted by Bess | 7:52 AM


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Tuesday, April 13, 2004  


Guess what project is in the den now. Yep. Guys with Paintbrushes. And everything I own is jumbled higgledy-piggledy in OtherRooms

posted by Bess | 10:41 AM


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Okay - done with spinning, for a while, at least. It's the needles turn to get attention and I've got several projects going at the same time. Sort of a project-of-the-room situation here. And today the painter shows up. Hmmmm. This might not be too pretty.

In the living room are the yarns and needles for the blue boucle hat. The yarn looks as if it will knit up at 4 st. to the inch but the swatch I did was tee tiny, so maybe it will be more like 4.25. Since this is a hat for nobody in particular, so long as you look good in blue and have a big head - size is not terribly important. It will fit my head and I will probably never wear it. I look like the living dead in blue.

By my bed is the Alice Starmore hat - where I am on the last row of the pattern for the brim, with 2 more rows of plain knitting before I do the 3 rounds of purl. If I do 3 rounds of purl. The second pattern will be in different colors and I haven't decided yet if I want to make a cloche type of hat or a beret type of hat - a decision necessary before I can decide on the pattern for the top half. I'm pushing the edge with the colors of this hat - inspired, as I have said, by Lisa Kolstad, but gently - after all, this is Alice Starmore Scottish Heather Misty Morning Foggy Shore Yarn - not Mad Magazine Primary Colors Yarn. It is also lots of fun to knit with.

In the den is Jen's lacy mohair sweater, another cloud of sea fog color. I had to rip all the way back to the ribbing on that darn thing - when I was at the underarms, because too many people had "looked" at it, and you would not believe how many people, knitters especially!! would pick it up, spread it out and push the loose stitches right off the needles! I will know better this time and knit it only in my house or car, where nobody else will want to touch. It can be fondled when it's done.

In the basket in the den, still on the Maybe List is the bunny bonnet. I have decided what to do with it and it'll go fast if I have time to finish it - but it is at the bottom of the list of dream projects for MSW.

MSW is only 17 days away! I can't stand it, though I must, and I really want it to come, but wait wait!! not till I'm ready! This is better than waiting for Christmas, since nobody expects anything of me except myself and I'm ever forgiving of myself if I fail to meet that sort of expectation.

The sciatica is not going away - though it is somewhat better. This is an old lady issue that I'll have to fold into my daily living - but bummer and rats and all. I'm still taking the heavy duty motrim type stuff when I remember I have it - and if things feel weird. I did some serious stretching with TthePT yesterday and the back feels wonderful, but the foot and leg are tingling. I have ached enough the past month that it’s been pretty easy to just not exercise at all. The sad result of that sort of behavior is that the body has blossomed in fluffy puffiness so that my clothes feel tight. Plus - I really need the exercise or the diet effort tumbles into heckdom. Well. I have a dr. apt. on Friday and we will Talk.

And my horoscope today says "So you think you have it all together, huh? - More fool you." How’s that for dark warnings. Humph. I always say, horoscope writers hate Virgos.

Well, there's time to get in a little knitting right now and tonight is Tuesday Night Knitters, so I also get to show off. Not bad, for a darkling warning sort of day. Just best be careful how I drive. TA.

posted by Bess | 7:01 AM


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Monday, April 12, 2004  

And this why I make so many plans. I'm bound to actually carry out some of them. I have 150 yards of very softly twisted blue merino that I am hoping will knit up at pretty near the same gauge as the boucle. Something on the order of 4 st. to the inch on size 8 needles. I am hoping it will be enough to make a basic watch cap with 3 inches of ribbed brim that doesn't fold up. The boucle will form the fold back brim part - about 4 inches deep. The blue is still slightly damp but I have it hanging from the back of a chair in the living room, where there is a tiny fire burning in the stove.

This yarn is from combed top and it's not nearly as springy as the brown merino roving I spun into the bounciest, snap-backiest yarn you could ask for. It's not even as springy as the bunny bonnet contrast yarn I spun from the same top, but that was spun very fine. I know some of it is the actual fiber itself - as it grew from the lamb. Some of it is also the thickness of the yarn I created. But the preparation had a lot to do with it as well. That combed top is very soft, very straight, not the slightest bit tangled. Those little tangles one gets in a roving create air pockets that give the fibers room to move. The top spins very fast. It spins very fine. But it does not spin springy. Of course, it has some spring to it. Just not that snap back!!! that sets me shivering.

The Alice Starmore yarn also has that fantastic elasticity. Toasty Toes sock yarn has it (had it, I suppose I ought to say) and Regia has it too. Nature's own Lycra. I'm just a sucker for it.

And speaking of the AS stuff - I did not get the entire first pattern done, but then, I spun up all that blue yarn - and I did get a goodly part of it finished. Today is my fiber guild meeting and I had arranged to be off till late in the afternoon. One phone call and suddenly I am needed at the paint store, so I am thinking of staying home and knitting on the hat a while, then joining BD in the weighty task of selecting, from among 4,908,789,987 different shades, the correct off-white paint to cover the walls in my house.

If it dries, there might even be time to swatch the blue.....

I didn't dye any more blue top, though I put 1 oz to soak in vinegar water. I don't think I'm going to need any more blue, and though it is a gorgeous color, it isn't one I will ever wear. This hat is just for show. So. I now have a little unexpected Monday Morning time, some acidicly wet merino top, and a bunch of stock colors in jars. I believe I shall get creative. One ounce might just spin up into an interesting baby yarn. Maybe a green...

I suppose I ought also to rip out the bunny bonnet. Another of yesterday's tasks not performed. That yarn is springy and so much fun to work with anyway - besides, I am extremely proud of the quality of the spinning. It would be a shame if it didn’t get its moment in the sun at Maryland Sheep & Wool. After all, that was the first idea I had for an entry.

Well - looks like I have my day mapped out for me. The Darlings planted 100 cypress trees yesterday and came home covered, saturated and steeped in swamp mud. Lord love 'em they were only slightly more presentable than the dogs - who have been banished from the house till the clean soap scent of my RugDoctered carpets has worn off. They are beginning to shed anyway, and it's calling for rain for the next week. This is no time to have dogs in the house.

And this is tax week. My horoscope warns me to ignore Mars this week, as he tries to ratchet up the panic factor in my life. I believe I shall follow that advice and think about it all - next week - at Tara.

posted by Bess | 7:47 AM


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Sunday, April 11, 2004  

Well. I am glad I let the Knitters Magazine subscription lapse. There was nothing in it I would be interested in except for the clever technique of slip knitting with two different types of yarn - a ribbon and a mohair. The idea was cool. I can see myself using it. But not for so long from now - there are so many other projects already in line, I suspect I'll see the technique getting a whole book of its own before I need to use it.

And talk about knitting magazines! B&N had a British publication in the stacks: Knitting New. Or maybe just Knitting. It was fun to peruse, sort of like looking at the Paris Edition of Vogue, but it wasn't quite interesting enough to purchase. Also, it cost $8. But I did pick up INKnits and Knit 'n Style. Again - for the articles alone, they are worth the $, besides having patterns that inspired me.

But goodness - what a lot of knitting magazines - That makes 8 different publications available at any given time. Pretty cool.

So, sacrificing an entire day to driving around the city, and spending rather lots more time in the Mecca of Hardware Stores was rewarded with two lovely magazines to while away my spare time with. I do enjoy wandering around Pleasants Hardware, mind you. It is almost as interesting as, say, Hunt Country Yarns, though far less likely to make my heart palpitate. Best of all, I found exactly the thing I want to give LD for either his birthday or Christmas. It’s more in the price range of a Christmas type present, but I know he can really use it before then, and his birthday is next month. Well, BD agreed with me, but we are just now about to drop major $ on the other things in our life - like my step-son’s graduation from Law School - cum laude - who do you think is so proud he could pop? Attending means flying to Oregon for BD and the MenWithTools&PaintBrushes show up Monday, so they promise. There go more $. And April 15 is Thursday! Yikes! I forgot about that.

Okay - we can do that gift later. The good thing is, it's filed in the gift-registry portion of my brain.

There was some good solid knitting done, too, on the Alice Starmore hat. I'm halfway through the first pattern, will finish that today, and that is halfway through the whole hat. The yarn is delicious to knit with. I'm using size 2 (3mm) coated Inox - those marvelous tips make fixing little errors a breeze. The yarn splits now and then, it's a 2-ply yarn. Very much like knitting with my own handspun 2 ply.

Today unfolds with delightful solitude, for last night B&LD made plans to go off together. What is on my agenda?

· some quiet contemplation of the season
· spinning the blue merino
· dyeing more if I need it (thank goodness I used a stock color)
· knitting on the Alice Starmore hat
· ripping out the BunnyBonnet

Hmmmm. Sounds like a perfect day.

But first - some aerobic exercise. This body is entirely too fluffy.

posted by Bess | 8:26 AM


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Saturday, April 10, 2004  

Huh. I can't seem to get started. I even have a little fiber news to report. Well, it is a very little - for I've wound off the Alice Starmore and on my size 2 needles I'm getting 26 st. to 4 inches. It's fun to work with so far, but I have only swatched it. When I leave here I’ll go cast on for my hat.

But I am lethargic as a lizard in the sun right now. We had a delightful, spirited, lively evening last night with BH, R, and C for spaghetti supper. Since we ate Italian, only Italian composers were allowed on the CD player - Respeghi, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, with Bartoli and Pavaroti singing - only we never got that deep into the stack. Conversation was too wild, too silly, too rapid fire and wine fed to get past the 3rd disk.

R is the only person I know who owns - not just more classical music CD’s than we do - but LOTS more. He also used to be the music critic for the Washington Post, so he's chock full of anecdotes on all deities musical. He is urbane, funny, witty, handsome and courtly with a twinkle. A perfect dinner guest. C is bold, sharp, and a fascinating mixture of the pragmatic and the innocent. And of course, BH is my Beloved Hannah, so what else need be said?

But oh my - That much food and wine and food and wine and food and wine. The bloodstream is a little like the river in flood - full of things rather not seen nor felt.

We are off today to buy paint. After 12 years I am finally getting the house painted. Or - more honestly, I should say that it has been about 4 years since I realized that no amount of wall scrubbing would effect the sensation of freshness one longs for; only paint will do the trick now. It has taken this long to come up with the right combination of cash, availability of carpenters and painters, and adjustability of the residents to take the plunge. Two phone calls from Men With Tools talking about Monday and, though the idea of huge routine shifts is daunting, I am no fool - We shift. Shift furniture. Shift our bodies on over to LD's house - Shift the spinning wheel, the necessary tools, books, clothes - whatever it takes.

And now I think on it - the Special Paint Store is not too far from a Barnes & Noble, so I can take a peek at the spring Knitters I didn't get, and maybe a few other lovely things.

Yes, I would rather work on the blue merino, but I can do that tomorrow when it rains. And only think! Come summertime my house will be gorgeous.

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM


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Friday, April 09, 2004  

Yikes! Runing late this morning and I have a hair cut at 8. Looks like I'm also running out of blue roving. I finially sat down to the wheel with it and I don't think I have enough. Thank goodness I dyed it with stock solution and not a blend. Thank goodness I have more merino top. Thank goodness it's Friday.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


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Thursday, April 08, 2004  

Warning - utterly pointless rant first

Ugh. I am exhausted. My body is still flirting around with certain youthful, but utterly useless, cyclical rituals; I was up till 11 last night (Yes, me!!) with the Rug Doctor performing another cyclical ritual - sucking up winter's mud, soot, and dog hair; and this, after suffering one of the most repugnant indignities caused by that blanketyblank daylight savings time - the DinnerPartner who thinks that, since it's still light outside there is time before dinner to: put another coat of paint on the boat - engage in lengthy conversations on the phone - make some sort of Indian candle out of some stick he found in the yard - move the tree out of the road (the one that forced me to drive out into the field in order to get the Rug Doctor up to the house) - and punctuate each task with ritual hand washings at the Kitchen Sink - when we have two bathrooms in this house - while I was trying to cook the bloomin’ dinner.

This is what happens when you tamper with Mother Nature. For the person who feels time, screwing with the clock is utterly disorienting, forcing her to perform tasks when nobody else cares if they are performed, even though It Is Time For Dinner. For the fey, the daydreamer or the absent minded, it makes them even less aware of the minutes ticking by (or hours or weeks, I sometimes think), particularly minutes Somebody Else might have wanted to use for something she thought was important, so that the daydreamer looks up at bedtime with puzzlement and ask you where you are going.

Of course, there is that divine order of things that always pairs a time feeler with a day dreamer - much the same way larks hook up with night owls, talkers attract quiet ones, spendthrifts marry spendthrifts ... oh. no. that's not a comparison - but you do see where I am going with this. As the gal who is always 15 minutes early, I have walked in behind the bride at most of the weddings I have ever attended with BD. Finally, before the last event we attended, I told him I wanted to leave in 10 minutes.

“What? It’s not till 3 and it’s only 2 now and the church is only 10 minutes away!”

At last I had the perfect reply.

“I am too old and too important not to have a seat. I will never stand at the back again.”

We left 10 minutes later.

So there is my gift to all those No Longer Able to Fake Youth out there.

And, yes, I feel much better for spitting all that out.

I was about to say that nothing was done in a fiberly way yesterday when I remembered that I actually finished all the blue boucle. Most of it fit on one bobbin but I had about 24 yards left on a second, so I washed that length to see the effect of wet-setting the yarn. There is never a question about wet-setting with wool or silk or really any other fiber I've ever spun. Water truly helps to distribute twist across the entire length of yarn. But this yarn is basically a two ply thread yarn - that just happens to trap a moderately twisted mohair single between its links. Besides, I intend to knit this yarn off of the bobbin, not out of a ball. It's very loopy and I don't want it to tangle while I'm knitting with it. If I wet-set it, I'll have to have to rewind it onto the bobbins again - and this is no easy yarn to send through the flyer hooks. It shall either have to be oh so carefully treadled back onto the bobbin or just hand wound onto it.

Well. Proof again that wet-setting improves any yarn. There is a decided improvement in the eveness of that thread. BTW, I used a very lustrous royal blue machine quilting thread. It feels like silk or rayon - but I suspect it's a polyester. Anyway, I will skein up the big bobbin-full, dunk it in the sink, press and snap it out and let it dry. Knitting it won't be possible for several days because these thread yarns take a long time to dry.

But that does leave 3 empty bobbins and a heaping mound of blue merino - yes, yes. The next stage is a-waiting and I can barely sit here typing about it when it's singing to me from the living room. What keeps me at the computer are the damp rugs scattered in every room of the house. Plus, all the upholstered chairs are still a tad wet, so really, we're pretty much confined to the bed, the bath, or the office.

I did not get a chance to rip the bunny bonnet but I will wind up the Alice Staremore yarn as soon as I finish here, pull the needles out of the BB, and cast on. As I mentioned several days ago - if you want to see the kind of thing I'm going to knit with this yarn, just check out any of the books by Lise Kolstad. Thence the inspiration, though not the precise design.

And, while I, too, hesitate to wish my life away, like Martheme, I am very glad the weekend is so close.

posted by Bess | 7:58 AM


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Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

TA WEET TA WEET TA WEET. Outside the window is a little morning songster with a call of such perfect intonation, the TA of his tweet resonates with overtones, making my eardrums thrum. Papa Cardinal taps on the landing window to say good morning and where's breakfast? Mourning doves Co Woo - Woo Woo. I had no idea how hungry my ears were for spring.

This is the way the seasons change. With songs and colors and a full moon rising so high you can practically read by its light. The whiff of a fragrance, a rich scent of turned earth, a salty waft of high tide, that illusive hint of blossoms and you know winter is over. All these are the punctuation your brain needs to confirm any assertion your eyes make, as you pass them over the green mist of the forest or the golden wave of daffodils.

It's pretty chilly this morning. I wish there were a fire in the stove (though it is pointless to ask BD to keep one going when the sun shines and the temperature goes above 60) I will build one tonight when I get home, for cool and more rain are predicted for tomorrow. But no matter what the temperature, it's not winter any more. And sometime in August, maybe on one of those oppressive evenings when the only relief will be a canoe ride across the bay and a dive into the river over at the swimming beach, a little flock of black birds will flutter by - wrrrrrrrt! - and even though you're stripped down to the minimum, standing up to your chest in high tide, your skin will prickle and you’ll think "Autumn's coming."

It is the miracle of the circle - it's always moving, but it never ends.

The bunny bonnet is going to the frog pond. I am just completely unhappy with the quality of my knitting on this project. I love the yarns. I am just not sure if I can work with all 3 together, though I still think I can. Whatever becomes of them all, we need some time out, these yarns and I. Tonight it gets ripped. I will use the tiny needle to knit the Alice Starmore hat - and use the time working on that to think about the bunny yarns. I've almost finished spinning the boucle yarn and the blue hat body yarn will go swiftly - it’s just straight spinning and I don't need all that much of it either. Perhaps after next week I will have come up with a plan for those lovely bunny yarns.

Overslept this morning - after wrangling with that dang full moon dancing all over my bedroom floor - so I'd best dash now. Today is Wednesday and we all know what that means.

posted by Bess | 7:55 AM


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Tuesday, April 06, 2004  

Here is the blue hat yarn swatch with the boucle swatch. I didn't want to exactly match any of the colors but to create something that sang with them all. I really like this blue. spun on my Golding spindle yum! I will do all the hat yarn with the spindle because the boucle is hogging the wheel. knit with size 8 needles - too loose but what was easy to grab.

posted by Bess | 9:55 AM


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The first day back at work was pretty nice. There were no unpleasant surprises on my desk and there were a couple of lovely changes I had set in motion just before I left that had produced quite pleasant results. There were some busy physical things to do, like take down the art show, that made it easy to be productive without having to concentrate on too much. There was time to schedule all the tasks that will require outside help. I (hope and pray) believe there will be some stretches of quiet time at the end of the week, to work on the 5YP. Best of all - it is only 25 days to Maryland Sheep and Wool!

Yes yes - something wonderful to look forward to. That is what makes it all possible. The prize, the ring, the treat. The closer I get to MSW the more ambitious I become about making and entering things. And the more critical and dissatisfied I grow with the projects I am working on - thus scattering ever further, the little bits of time I have to work on anything at all. This is the first time I've ever made such a large amount of boucle yarn and it does wind slowly onto the bobbins, and I fiddle with it maddeningly on that last pass through the orifice. That is the time when you lock down the loops and believe me, once they get locked down - they ain't movin' again. So, it is a slow process even if it is delightful and always fascinating, watching the fibers twist and spin, then suddenly clamp down into their permanent display.

I worked some more on the bunny bonnet last night and grew utterly dissatisfied with it. I am going to take it to my WW meeting tonight, for one of my WW buddies is a woman of exquisite fiber arts taste. I need to ask her what she thinks. I just can't work in a vacuum on it any more. I love the texture, and the colors, but this bunny hair is so hairy. She need not critique my knitting - which I already know is substandard - another reason I'm doubtful of this piece- but I believe the bigger issue is the design. I am sure these three yarns can be worked together into something wonderful - but I am not sure what .... I will report back tomorrow.

Speaking of WW - I am having a terrible time with maintenance. Sheesh! Every bad trick and habit I know has been attacking, ambushing and bushwhacking; 24/7. The sciatica has improved tremendously, but not enough to make me want to do ... sit-ups - and other lower body weight training, so guess who is growing a heck of a lot fluffier and softer, even if the weight is staying, for the most part, down. I'm sure glad the taking off was so easy. Otherwise I might not have the determination to keep working on the hard part.

And now, for today's important fashion news in two quotes from Cathy Horyn of the NYT:

"It can also be argued that some of Ms. Prada's contrasts look contrived: if you see women this fall wearing tweed coats with bare legs and summery slides, you'll know where the idea started. ...
Wearing a chunky sandal or a wedge heel is an easy way to counteract the ultrafemininity of spring."

I see. Well. This I promise you. If you see me in a tweed coat with bare legs and summery slides, it means my house is on fire and these were the only clothes I could find before dashing to safety. So much gushing about really stupid fashion concepts assures me that I won't like the new shoe designs in the offing.

As for the need to counteract spring's ultrafeminity - why put it on in the first place, if you don't want to make that statement?

The above quotes, in fact, the entire article, is a prime example of the CurseOfTheWordProcessor Simply because it is easy to type a lot of verbiage - simply because you are told to write about shoes by your boss, doesn't mean you have anything to say, nor the skill to say it.

Hold on tight to your black pumps. They may have to last you two seasons.

posted by Bess | 7:44 AM


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Monday, April 05, 2004  

This is the blue boucle which will be knit as cuffs for mittens and a hat. And I have dyed the blue for them but not yet spun it up.

posted by Bess | 10:18 AM


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Thank you Catherine, for a topic that I can spear with my rapier sharp tongue and spare you all the whining about having to go back to work after a lovely, but too short, vacation.

Oh? You wanted to hear about the bunny bonnet? You are curious about what is on the spinning wheel? Where LD was all weekend?

Not important. What is uppermost at the rant-o-rama today is cropped pants. What in the name of all that is fashionable, would make anybody wear those hideous tubes of flaring stretch poplin? Don't people have mirrors? Don't people have eyes?! And to call them Capri pants is the absurd. Capri pants are slim and taper narrowly just below the knee and above the curve of the calf. If you happen to look like Audrey Hepburn, Capri pants are a charming casual look. And I suspect I'll have to revisit even that statement, after reading what Domesticat has to say.

These chopped off chinos, cargo trousers, pleated front, sweat pants - for every style of pants is being treated to the cropped look these days, merely look like rumpled shipwreck castaway costumes for the girls who don't get rescued, probably even drown. After all, in real shipwreck movies, the heroine has on raggedy Capri pants, and not cropped tubes. What self respecting hero wants to rescue someone who looks like a frump?

Cropped pants always look messy, and incomplete, make women's legs look stubby - about as flattering as hi-cut swimsuits, only with the opposite visual - and I see now they are coming with matching blazers so you can wear them to the board room. How polished and effective.

I'm not a particularly political shopper, though I won't buy peaches at the grocery store - I would prefer to eat billiard balls - thinking that if the store has no customers for a lousy product, they'll quit carrying it and look for a suitable alternative. I feel the same way about cropped pants. I felt the same way about ankle length tube skirts, which, even in the fashion backwater of Tappahannock, are at least available only on the clearance racks. Alas, shoppers seem to feel that if it is in the store it is the right thing to buy - and so 90% of the women I see, and 99% of the women I know who actually buy with fashion in mind, still own (and wear) at least one tube skirt and several pair of cropped pants.

Ah well - For all that I think this article of clothing is an offense to the eye, I don't really care if someone wants to walk around like a dowd or a frump. Someone probably has a wonderful personality to compensate for having no taste.

And of course I am still sighing over the end of my vacation. I would really love to keep working on that full bobbin of boucle yarn, but then, I must ask myself, how will I ever be able to post a photo of the sample if I don't at least stop by the office and use the PA scanner?

All not-so-sincere joking aside, I do feel much more centered after 9 days of getting in touch with the important parts of my world. I believe I left all ongoing work at a convenient stopping place, so that if any ImportantIssues surfaced while I was away, I can give them my attention today and let the never-ending stuff wait another day or two. I don't expect any thing more than the usual readjustment to a familiar pace; one hopes, with renewed energy.

posted by Bess | 8:00 AM


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Sunday, April 04, 2004  

Oh. Yes. I thought I'd complain about daylight savings time. Note, I do not honor it with Capital Letters. I hate daylight savings time. One ought not be surprised that the woman who can write about recreational napping would not particularly like the hours of darkness to suffer truncation. Each April I grit my teeth, fiddle with the clocks, curse myself for not buying new batteries and sulk at being robbed of an hour of free time. I will reverse the attitude, if not the actions, come October, relishing the exquisite delight of an extra hour of sleep and the opportunity to wake up even earlier! than is my norm.

Well, we are all going to be who we are, but morning people know they are superior.

Hmm. Typing that last "truth" makes me wonder how many I will offend, which brings up thoughts of the tension on Knitters Review Forums. It also makes me wonder why people are such jerks. Now that there are seriously off topic areas on the forums, I think whatever restraint the marginal people submitted to in the past has been cast off, so that when I click on to the site there are some pretty screaming topics. I wonder why anybody wants to "discuss" their personal hygiene with fellow knitters, especially ones they don't know that well. I wonder why they want to open up such discussions in a knitting forum. I wish there were a place where they could invite like-minded friends to join them - ELSEWHERE. Where they could post a notice like:

Hey, I want to talk about my favorite gerbil recipes, so email me off line and we can set up a mail-group and go at it!

Then I wouldn't have to see the topic each time I click onto my favorite knitting site. Better yet, the anti-rodent eating contingent, who will wish to punish the rodent eaters with flames, will have to do it somewhere else.

He. It's not that I can't bypass the OT areas. Clara has kindly put them at the bottom of the list of topics. In fact, I do refrain from entering them. So I am not truly informed enough to know just how Off the OT stuff is. The headings gross me out, but hey - I'm a big girl. I know they're not intended for me.

As for people who want to spout off on other topics - why not get a blog - that's what I did. I can get pretty verbose when fingertips touch keyboard. I got to feeling like I was sort of becoming too present on the KRF - hogging it somewhat - with my lengthy posts. And then, I wanted to blab about MEMEMEMEME - not just Knitting. So I took my blabbery fingers to MyOwnPlace where nobody has to even know how arrogant and opinionated and egotistical I am.

Eh. Well. I work with the public. I am not surprised by the awful things they do. I would be a lot meaner than Clara, but then, I have kicked porn viewers off library computers, raining down the WrathOfBess upon them in loud, attention gathering scolds. I would probably use a 3 strikes your out policy and if somebody flamed another 3 times, I'd kick them off the forums. But then, I am not really nice. I just sometimes sound that way.

My bunnybonnet is coming along apace - it is a strange fiber to knit with and I am now riddled with doubts that the judges will say stranded colorwork is an inappropriate technique for angora. I must constantly remind myself that I don't really care. I fall into that wrong-think because I keep telling people the hat is going to be entered in the "competition", when, what I really mean is that I am so excited to have a chance to show off. More MEMEMEMEME stuff there.

When completed, though, I will post a photo of it. Promise.

It is a gorgeously beautiful sunshiny windy day after a week of cold rain. A fitting hug from mother nature for the last day of my vacation. I believe I shall take myself off this keyboard and out into the sunshine.

posted by Bess | 9:05 AM


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Saturday, April 03, 2004  

Oh! The Alice Starmore yarn is wonderful. Of course, I had ordered from samples, so I knew the colors were both pleasing and intriguing, and the texture was soft. Ha! It's gorgeous and the texture and softness are mahhhhvelous. It is also not cheap, coming in at $5.25 for a skein of yarn comparable to Jamieson and Smith's Shetland weight - which I see has leapt from $2.95 a skein when I bought it some 2 years ago, to $4.00. So - I guess I should not be surprised at the $. And the Starmore yarn is a whole lot softer - as in - I would wear it next to my skin, while I would have to move beyond the Arctic Circle before I'd wear Shetland without a T-shirt underneath. And now I think on it - I'm not sure if K charged me shipping. (I hope she did!) So it may be even closer in comparison, for a sweeter feeling yarn.

What they also have in common is a marled color effect. I wonder how they create that - It's a subtle inclusion in, say, a blue yarn, of purple and green. Not in flecks, nor in specks. Not as in long combed lengths, as some color blend tops have, nor in swirls. It's something far softer. I am utterly fascinated by how they create this effect, though it must be a fairly easy industrial process. I've seen it in other yarns. Carodan Farms' own brand of wool has it, and so do some other proprietary yarns.

Meg Swansen of School House Press sells the Jaimeson & Smith and will send you a color card for it - you will drool over the vast choices. The AS yarn has fewer choices but still plenty and Virtual Yarns sent K a sample card. I notice on Meg's page, though, that there are some new EU rules and a warning that looks to me as if the new skein size has fewer yards in it. I know that you could knit up a fair isle tam with 2 skeins of the old J&S and have a good bit left over. You always need so much yarn when working with this 6 st. to the inch stuff.

The AS colors I bought are Poppy (what you’d expect); Strabhann (gorgeous medium value blue); Whin (gold); and Machair (a woodsy olive green). The red, blue and gold go together. The red, green and gold go together. The 4 of them create a slight discordance.

Now - I was wanting to do this, to push the edge with these colors - to jolt the eye. The inspiration for this diminished fourth comes from two mind expanding knitters; Lise Kolstad and Tone Takle. I own More Sweaters and the library owns Small Sweaters. There are so many things in these two books that make the brain synapses click and snap. I love these two minds - which come across in so many ways. In their insights, their designs, and, my goodness, in the color choices they make! I love it that one of them writes, and I paraphrase, "We've knitted a lot of stuff - and a lot if it was simply awful but some of it was really good" Do you hear the important message there? Don't be afraid to try.

I constantly pull out their books just to feast my eyes. I also really love doing color stranded knitting. And I wanted to knit something really complex, using color combinations that don't all harmonize with Brahmsian sonority. I wanted a little edgy discordance; Stravinsky, but not Gershwin. But I didn't want colors that were too juvenile. Not that I think adults can't carry off crayon box colors, I just didn't want use them on this project. The AS colors are extremely easy to blend with subtle, gentle harmony, but you can mix a little tartness with them, if you wish.

I do wonder if I ought not to have bought a black yarn to unite this slight color discord, but I think I shall just go with these 4. I pretty much know what I want to do with it - and how to put things together. It's now just a matter of finishing up my handspun bunny bonnet so that I can release my only set of 16" size 2's.

And a word here about needles. I like pretty much all good quality needles but I knit 98% of the time on circulars and to my mind, nothing knits like an Addi Turbo. I like slick metal needles. I also like good quality wooden needles, and Bryspun DP's. But I had only an Inox 16" circular in size 2, so that is what I'm knitting the bunny bonnet with. Well. I had forgotten what lovely slender tapered tips the Inox needles have. How utterly perfect for knitting stranded color work in thin yarns. I've been a little snooty about Inox because they don't have the joins that Addi's do - but the joins are good enough and ooooo those lovely tips! These are the coated Inox needles and I can't praise them enough.

And last night's girls' night with K and BH was simply perfect. Thank you K!

posted by Bess | 8:37 AM